Tag Archives: Lent



This Devotion invites all the Faithful, like so many loving children, to come every evening before the Crucifix to make an act of deep sorrow for their sins and to kiss the bruised and wounded feet of Jesus Crucified “good-night,” by saying with loving reverence and contrition the aspiration:

“We adore thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, and we bless thee, for through thy Holy Cross thou hast redeemed the world. – My Jesus, mercy.”

This is a night telegram of love, a wireless message to His Sacred Heart, purifying, ennobled, sanctifying and uplifting every heart that makes this act of contrite love. It is a protest of love, making reparation for all the insults and blasphemies hurled against Almighty God the whole day long. Let us practise this beautiful Devotion as a means of intimate spiritual communication with God’s great loving Sacred Heart – the centre of all Love – for the benefit of all our friends. By kissing His Dear Wounded Feet for each one of them we will win mercy for all our dear ones, living and dead, we will interest His Sacred Heart in their conversion and become helpers of the salvation of many poor sinners, even the most hardened. 

– St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916 


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Lord, we pray that this season of Lent will be a time of greater prayer and fervent devotion for us and for all the Church. Lord, in your mercy, – HEAR OUR PRAYER.

Lord, we pray that these days of Lent will be marked by earnest efforts at peacemaking throughout the world. Lord, in your mercy, – HEAR OUR PRAYER.

Lord, we pray that we will be generous in our almsgiving this Lent, and attentive to the poor. Lord, in your mercy, – HEAR OUR PRAYER.

Lord, we ask you to repair all the broken relationships in our life and make us merciful, gentle and forgiving. Lord, in your mercy, – HEAR OUR PRAYER.

Lord, we pray that this Lent we will be faithful to fasting and to all the ways in which you sanctify us. Lord, in your mercy. – HEAR OUR PRAYER.

Lord, rescue all those who live at a distance from you because of self-absorption or sin. Lord, in your mercy, – HEAR OUR PRAYER.

Loving Father, bless our Lent so that we will live as your holy children. We ask this through Christ our Lord. – AMEN.


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O adorable Face of my Jesus, so mercifully bowed down upon the Tree of the Cross, on the day of thy Passion, for the salvation of the world, incline thy pity now towards poor sinners, cast upon us a look of compassion, and receive us with the kiss of peace.

– St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916


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The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. “This man,” they said, “welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he spoke this parable to them:

“A man had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, let me have the share of the estate that would come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.

“When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch, so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled his belly with the husks the pigs were eating but no one offered him anything. Then he came to his senses and said, ‘How many of my father’s paid servants have more food than they want, and here I am dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your paid servants.’ So he left the place and went back to his father.

“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly. Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. ‘Your brother has come,’ replied the servant, ‘and your father has killed the calf we had fattened because he has got him back safe and sound.’ He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out to plead with him; but he answered his father, ‘Look, all these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women – you kill the calf we had been fattening.’

“The father said, ‘My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.’”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


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(These reflections can be used as Stations of the Cross. In this case, pray at each station: “We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You. Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.” The following act of contrition may be used: “I love You, Jesus, my love above all things. I repent with my whole heart of having offended You. Never permit me to separate myself from You again. Grant that I may love You always and then do with me what You will.”)

Consider how Jesus, after having been scourged and crowned with thorns, was unjustly condemned by Pilate to die on the Cross.
(Our Father; Hail Mary; Glory be; to be repeated after each meditation.)

Consider how Jesus, in making this journey with the Cross on his shoulders, thought of us, and offered for us to his Father the death he was about to undergo.

Consider the first fall of Jesus under his Cross. His flesh was torn by the scourges, his head was crowned with thorns; he had lost a great quantity of blood. So weakened he could scarcely walk, he yet had to carry this great load upon his shoulders. The soldiers struck him rudely, and he fell several times.

Consider this meeting of the Son and the Mother, which took place on this journey. Their looks became like so many arrows to wound those hearts which loved each other so tenderly.

Consider how his cruel tormentors, seeing that Jesus was on the point of expiring, and fearing he would die on the way, whereas they wished him to die the shameful death of the Cross, constrained Simon of Cyrene to carry the Cross behind our Lord.

Consider how the holy woman named Veronica, seeing Jesus so ill-used, and bathed in sweat and blood, wiped his face with a towel, on which he left the impression of his holy countenance.

Consider the second fall of Jesus under the Cross; a fall which renews the pain of all the wounds in his head and members.

Consider how these women wept with compassion at seeing Jesus in such a pitiable state, streaming with blood, as he walked along. ‘Daughters of Jerusalem’, said he, ‘weep not for me, but for yourselves and for your children’.

Consider the third fall of Jesus Christ. His weakness was extreme, and the cruelty of his executioners excessive, who tried to hasten his steps when he could scarcely move.

Consider the violence with which Jesus was stripped by the executioners. His inner garments adhered to his torn flesh, and they dragged them off so roughly that the skin came with them. Take pity on your Saviour thus cruelly treated.

Consider how Jesus, having been placed upon the Cross, extended his hands, and offered to his Eternal Father the sacrifice of his life for our salvation. Those barbarians fastened him with nails, and then, securing the Cross, allowed him to die with anguish on this infamous gibbet.

Consider how Jesus, being consumed with anguish after three hours’ agony on the Cross, abandoned himself to the weight of his body, bowed his head and died.

Consider how, after our Lord had expired, two of his disciples, Joseph and Nicodemus, took him down from the Cross and placed him in the arms of his afflicted Mother, who received him with unutterable tenderness, and pressed him to her bosom.

Consider how the disciples, accompanied by his holy Mother, carried the body of Jesus to bury it. They closed the tomb, and all came sorrowfully away.


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“‘If anyone speaks, let it be as with words of God.’ In this admonition St Peter in his first Epistle sets us a standard, although a perfectly logical one. If we are Christians, Peter is saying, then we ought to talk like Christians. The words that we speak should be words that would not be out of place on the lips of Christ Himself.


This does not mean that all our conversation should be confined to religious topics. The Gospels record for us a very small percentage of our Lord’s conversations. It is only His words of major importance and of universal application that are related by the Evangelists.


However, Jesus is fully human, and we can be sure that He took part in ordinary, every day human conversation. With His disciples and other friends He undoubtedly discussed local politics, the weather and the happenings around Him – the comic, tragic or just plain interesting incidents which make up an ordinary day.


No, we do not have to be perpetually preaching in order to speak ‘with words of God.’ Even in the most casual chat there is a Christlike way of speaking. There are three notable qualities which characterise such conversation. These qualities are charity, humility and sincerity.


CHARITY bars from our conversation all that might give unnecessary pain to another. Sarcasm, ridicule, fault-finding, angry or resentful remarks – none of these, surely, would reflect Christ to our listeners. Equally foreign to the lips of Christ would be every type of unkind gossip, every type of tale-bearing, slander or detraction.


Perhaps a little less obvious than the need for charity is the need for HUMILITY in our conversation. There is no one (God excepted, let us hope) whom we love more than ourselves. Consequently it is a real struggle to keep self to a minimum in our talk.

Most of us are too sophisticated to indulge in outright bragging. Just listen to us, though, as we manage to mention (so very offhandedly!) some small triumph of ours or a compliment someone has paid us or an honour that has been accorded us.

Then there is the matter of one-upmanship, as it is called. This consists of topping the other person’s experiences. If someone mentions having had a serious operation, we describe our own much more serious one. If another person speaks of his trip to Mexico, we tell about our trip to Europe. If the speaker recalls an unusual bridge hand he held last night, we can remember a still more freakish hand which we held a week ago.


SINCERITY is the third quality which characterises the conversation of a Christian. Insincerity is a much more difficult defect to spot in ourselves than is either uncharitableness or self-centredness. The reason is that usually we are not trying deliberately to deceive other persons. We first of all deceive ourselves and others only incidentally.


All too often in conversation we say what we think we ought to say and try to convince ourselves that we really mean it. We stifle the small voice inside us which whispers, ‘You’re talking hogwash and you know it. You don’t really believe what you’re saying.’


Sincerity does not demand that we stud our conversation with disagreeable truths or opposing opinions which may give offence without accomplishing any proportionate good. Sometimes it is more Christian to be silent. However, any time we catch ourselves saying or agreeing to something which is contrary to our own convictions, we are compromising our integrity. And we are not talking Christ’s language.


We may be tempted to feel that Christlike conversation is beyond us. There is too much to guard against. We simply cannot be that alert all the time.

True, we probably never will achieve absolute perfection. Nevertheless, with a little effort we certainly can speak ‘with words of God’ much more consistently than we do. We shall find it a challenging experience to try to go through just one day (for a starter) with our conversation keyed to the question, ‘What would Jesus probably say under these circumstances?’

It may tend to curtail our conversation somewhat. But no matter. Most of us talk too much anyway.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese


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Begin by making the Sign of the Cross, saying, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen”, in order to honour and invoke the all-powerful Holy Trinity and also to recall our Saviour Jesus Christ’s loving sacrifice on the Cross which He did for us all to be saved.

Before each psalm you pray this antiphon: “Remember not, O Lord, our or our parents’ offences: neither take vengeance of our sins.” After the last of the seven psalms, pray: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.” Finish your prayer with the Sign of the Cross as in the beginning, to thank the Holy Trinity and to thank our Lord Jesus for His suffering on the Cross for love of us, our ancestors and all mankind.


O Lord, in your anger do not reprove; nor punish me in your fury. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I have no strength left. O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in torment. My soul also is greatly troubled. How long, O Lord, how long? How long will you be? Come back to me, O Lord, save my life; rescue me for the sake of your love. For no one remembers you in the grave; who will praise you in the world of the dead?

I am weary with moaning; I weep every night, drenching my bed with tears. My eyes have grown dim from troubles; I have weakened because of my foes. Away from me, you evildoers, for the Lord has heard my plaintive voice. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will grant all that I pray for. Let my enemies fall back in shame, all of a sudden – the whole bunch of them!


Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven, whose iniquity is wiped away. Blessed are those in whom the Lord sees no guilt and in whose spirit is found no deceit. When I kept my sin secret, my body wasted away, I was moaning all day long. Your hand day and night lay heavy upon me; draining my strength, parching my heart as in the heat of a summer drought. Then I made known to you my sin and uncovered before you my fault, saying to myself, “To the Lord I will now confess my wrong.” And you, you forgave my sin, you removed my guilt.

So let the faithful ones pray to you in time of distress; the overflowing waters will not reach them. You are my refuge; you protect me from distress and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will teach you, I will show you the way to follow. I will watch over you and give you counsel. Do not be like the horse or the mule – senseless and led by bit and bridle. Many woes befall the wicked, but the Lord’s mercy enfolds those who trust in him. Rejoice in the Lord, and be glad, you who are upright; sing and shout for joy, you who are clean of heart.


O Lord, rebuke me not in your rage, punish me not in your fury. Your arrows have struck me; your hand has come down heavily upon me. Your anger has spared no part of my body, my sin gives no peace to my bones. For my transgressions overwhelm me; they weigh me down like an unbearable load. My wounds stink and fester within me, the outcome of my sinful folly. Stooped and bowed down, I go about mourning all day. My loins burn, my flesh is diseased, my body, worn out and utterly crushed; I groan in pain and anguish of heart. All my longing, O Lord, is known to you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds as my strength ebbs; even the light has deserted my eyes. My friends avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbours stay far off. Those who seek my life lay snares for me; those who wish to hurt me speak of my ruin and plot against me all day long.

But like a deaf-mute, I neither hear nor open my mouth. I am like one whose ears hear not and whose mouth has no answer. For I put my trust in you, O Lord; you will answer for me, Lord God. I will pray, “Don’t let them gloat over me, nor take advantage of my helplessness when my foot slips. For I am about to fall, my pain is ever with me. I confess my transgression, I repent of my sin. Many are my foes; many are those who hate me for no reason, those who pay me evil for good and harass me because I seek good. Forsake me not, O Lord, stay not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my saviour!


Have mercy on me, O God, in your love. In your gret compassion blot out my sin. Wash me thoroughly of my guilt; cleanse me of evil. For I acknowledge my wrongdoings and have my sins ever in mind. Against you alone have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. You are right when you pass sentence and blameless in your judgment. For I have been guilt-ridden from birth, a sinner from my mother’s womb. I know you desire truth in my heart, teach me wisdom in my inmost being. Cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me, I shall be whiter than snow. Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn your face away from my sins and blot out all my offences. Create in me, O God, a pure heart; give me a new and steadfast spirit.

Do not cast me out of your presence nor take your holy spirit from me. Give me again the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will show wrongdoers your ways and sinners will return to you. Deliver me, O God, from the guilt of blood, and of your justice I shall sing aloud. O Lord, open my lips, and I will declare your praise. You take no pleasure in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, you would not delight in it. O God, my sacrifice is a broken spirit; a contrite heart you will not despise. Shower Zion with your favour: rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in fitting sacrifices, in burnt offerings and bulls offered on your altar.

PSALM 102:

O Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in trouble. Turn your ear to me; make haste to answer me when I call. For my days are passing away like smoke, my bones burning like a furnace. Like withered grass, my heart is blighted, and I forget to eat my bread. Because of my great grief I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like an owl in the wilderness, like a vulture among the ruins. I awake moaning like a lonely bird on the housetop. All day long I am taunted by my enemies; they use my name as a curse. The bread I eat is ashes, my drink is mingled with tears, for your wrath, your fury; for you have thrown me aside. My days are vanishing like shadows at night; I wither away like grass. But you, O Lord, you sit forever; your name endures through all generations.

Arise, have mercy on Zion; this is the time to show her your mercy. For your servants cherish her stones, and are moved to pity by her dust. O Lord, the nations will revere your name, and the kings of the earth your glory, when the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in all his splendour. For he will answer the prayer of the needy and will not despise their plea. Let this be written for future ages, “the Lord will be praised by a people he will form.” From his holy height in heaven, the Lord has looked on the earth to hear the groaning of the prisoners, and free those condemned to death. Then the name of the Lord will be cleared in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship him. My walk has exhausted me, he has cut short my days. I cry to him, “My God, do not take my life in mid-course, you whose days are from age to age.” In the beginning you laid the earth’s foundation, the heavens are the work of your hands. Although they perish, you will remain; they will wear out like a garment, you change them like clothes: they pass away, but you remain the same, your years unending. Your servants’ children will dwell secure; their posterity will endure without fail.

PSALM 130:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears pay attention to the voice of my supplication. If you should mark our evil, O Lord, who could stand? But with you is forgiveness, and for that you are revered. I waited for the Lord, my soul waits, and I put my hope in his word. My soul expects the Lord more than watchmen the dawn. O Israel, hope in the Lord, for with him is unfailing love and with him full deliverance. He will deliver Israel from all its sins.

PSALM 143:

O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; answer me, you who are righteous and faithful. Do not bring your servant to judgment, for no mortal is just in your sight. The enemy has pursued me, crushing my life to the ground, sending me to darkness with those long dead. And so my spirit fails me, my heart is full of fear. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on what you have done and consider the work of your hand. I stretch out my hands to you, and thirst for you like a parched land.

O Lord, answer me quickly: my spirit is faint with yearning. Do not hide your face from me; save me from going down to the pit. Let the dawn bring me word of your love, for in you alone I put my trust. Show me the way I should walk, for to you I lift up my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for to you I flee for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your Spirit lead me on a safe path. Preserve me, O Lord, for your name’s sake; free me from distress, in your justice. You who are merciful, crush my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.


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God, heavenly Father, look upon me and hear my prayer during this holy season of Lent. By the good works You inspire, help me to discipline my body and to be renewed in spirit.

Without You I can do nothing. By Your Spirit help me to know what is right and to be eager in doing Your will. Teach me to find new life through penance. Keep me from sin, and help me live by Your commandment of love.

God of love, bring me back to You. Send Your Spirit to make me strong in faith and active in good works. May my acts of penance bring me Your forgiveness, open my heart to Your love, and prepare me for the coming feast of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Lord, during this Lenten Season, nourish me with Your Word of life and make me one with You in love and prayer. Fill my heart with Your love and keep me faithful to the Gospel of Christ. Give me the grace to rise above my human weakness. Give me new life by Your Sacraments, especially the Mass.

Father, our source of life, I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand; let me walk more readily in Your ways. Guide me in Your gentle mercy, for left to myself I cannot do Your Will.

Father of love, source of all blessings, help me to pass from my old life of sin to the new life of grace. Prepare me for the glory of Your Kingdom. I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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– Lent –

Lord, teach us how to pray aright

With reverence and fear;

Though dust and ashes in thy sight,

We may, we must draw near.

We perish if we cease from prayer,

O grant us pow’r to pray;

And when to meet thee we prepare,

Lord, meet us in the way.

– James Montgomery (1771-1854)


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How essential the spirit of holy confidence is in the spiritual life St Ignatius makes very plain in his book of Spiritual Exercises, where he is at pains to give us elaborate rules as to what our conduct should be in the time of what he calls “desolation”. This state of soul he describes as “the darkening and troubling of the mind, the prompting to things base and earthly, a certain uneasiness resulting from a state of agitation and temptation, and including diffidence, without hope and without love: as when the soul finds itself all weary, tepid, sad, and fancies itself separated from God”. And though the Saint does not hold a certain amount of desolation hurtful for the soul, yet, as in the matter of scruples, he deprecates a too deep-seated and long-continued state of despondency and discouragement as being one that detracts from the service of God, and robs it of all its spontaneity and generosity.

The thought of past sins which have darkened our existence

This spirit of diffidence and dejection arises in many cases from the thought of past sins which have darkened our existence. Closely connected with this source of temptation is the constant uneasiness and fear which many, even pious souls, entertain in regard to their confessions. It is true that they regret their misdeeds, that they have done penance for them, that they have had recourse times without number to the sacrament instituted for the remission of sins. Still they are restless, ill at ease: they rack and torture their souls as to the integrity of their former confessions. They would seem to be unaware that one honest effort made once for all, however imperfectly, is all that that is required of them; that forgotten sins, many perhaps of a serious nature, are as truly forgiven as those they have actually mentioned; that there is no obligation to confess sins of which they are not certain, that it is better even not to enter into the circumstances attending our transgressions unless they be such as to change their theological species.

Am I profoundly sorry for each and every sin I ever committed? Really?

Others worry over the dispositions with which they have received the sacraments in the past, especially over their contrition, which they imagine has never been sincere or really felt, as if feeling sorry was a necessary part of their dispositions, and not rather the will to be sorry. The first is not always in our power, however much we may desire it. The second, the act of the will, is always possible, presupposing of course the influx of divine grace; and even were that act slack and remiss, if it were there at all, it is enough with the sacraments to destroy all sin.

Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred (Eccles. 9:1)

And yet some of these timorous souls seem to have reached the conclusion that they have never repented as they should, that they cannot shake off the burden that oppress them, and that their case is desperate beyond redemption. If only they could have the assurance that all the terrible past is cancelled, if only they could make a fresh start, with a clean slate before them, they imagine that the path of duty would be rendered smooth and the service of God become pleasant and comforting. In the present order of Providence, however, it has not seemed good that we should possess such an assurance. In our own interest and as an incentive to further effort, it is well that the great affair of our salvation should be shrouded in some obscurity; and accordingly the Holy Spirit tells us that “man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred” (Eccles. 9:1), not indeed that we can form or judge of our present state in the eyes of God, but that we cannot attain to any absolute, infallible certainty concerning it. Still we are far from being forbidden to entertain that inward moral certainty that usually guides us in the affairs of this life and which should be abundantly sufficient to make us walk in the way of the Lord in perfect peace and tranquillity of soul. “For the Holy Spirit giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:16). Nay, to be troubled and uneasy, to doubt of our forgiveness after we have done our best and made an honest effort to be reconciled to God by the means He has appointed, is nothing short of injurious to His goodness: it is to disbelieve His plighted word: “Whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven.” It is in a way to reproduce the final crime of the traitor apostle, in whom were found all the elements of true repentance, acknowledgement of sin, sorrow, restitution, all save one, the most indispensable of all, namely confidence and hope. “Son,” said Our Lord to the man sick of the palsy, “be of good heart, thy sins are forgiven thee” (Matt. 9:2). We may take these words as addressed to ourselves. Short of a revelation, which we cannot expect, we have every reason to trust that we have to put away the past. We should be acting foolishly and falling into the toils of the tempter, were we to give ourselves over to anxiety, and doubt the assurance of Him who says: “I am he that blots out thy iniquities for my own sake, and I will not remember thy sins (Is. xIiii 25).

Is secret pride at the bottom of all this?

There are others, and many religious among them, who allow themselves to be disheartened, not so much perhaps at the thought of their past delinquencies, as because of the present failings and shortcomings which they detect in themselves. By the mercy of God, they may be habitually preserved from serious faults; but instead of realising that in this very fact they have a signal assistance of the special care which Providence is exercising over them, they dwell on the minor faults into which they are continually falling. They experience thereat a sense of humiliation: they are disappointed with themselves: they expected better results from their efforts; and accordingly they are ever finding fault with their corrupt nature, inclined to think that all their spiritual exercises are useless, their good resolutions of no avail; that they will never improve; that they are not pleasing in the sight of God, and that all their exterior observance is but hypocrisy and make-believe. Thus their whole life is one unbroken chain of restlessness, fear, and despondency, from which they derive no manner of profit or merit but rather cause God to keep aloof and withhold His help, since such feelings, far from honouring Him, are really offensive to Him. They are derogatory to His goodness and contrast with the wonderful patience He displays in bearing with our many defects. This spirit of dejection, moreover, often proceeds from a root of secret pride. It is not the offence to God contained in every sin, grievous or venal, which the proud man really heeds. What he considers is the loss of self-esteem, the fact that he has lowered himself, the shame of discovering so plainly his own weakness and impotence. He is astonished to find himself at fault after relying so much upon his own strength; and hence he is vexed, disappointed, disgusted with himself. A man of truly humble soul, on the other hand, hates his failings and sins for the sole reason that they are displeasing to God; but he is not surprised or taken aback because of a relapse. He knows only too well and he acknowledges freely the infirmity of his nature: he expected no better from his waywardness. In consequence he does not lose heart, he looks to God for more efficacious assistance on the next occasion, and thus actually rises from his defection stronger and more acceptable to His Maker.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 Jn 1:8)

We must learn to bear with ourselves, even as God bears with us: we must possess our souls in patience, for we cannot avoid all faults. “If we say that we have no sin,” says St John, “we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We should no doubt labour to diminish their number and the deliberation with which they are committed, but it must be done gently. We may be sorrowful but not dismayed at their recurrence, and should nurture in ourselves the full confidence that little by little God will detach our hearts from the vain things of earth, and purify us more and more from such stain as we cannot altogether avoid in this world.

When we find our path beset with crosses, when misfortune seems to dog our steps, and one sorrow or affliction succeeds upon another…

The most usual cause of discouragement, however, from which we suffer takes its rise in the disappointments, hardships, and discomforts of life itself. It is when we find our path beset with crosses, when misfortune seems to dog our steps, and one sorrow or affliction succeeds upon another, when all our efforts end in failure and time brings with it no relief – it is then especially, perhaps, that we are tempted to abandon our trust in God, to doubt His providence, to think Him harsh, insensible, forgetful of our welfare. Now we are all liable to the law of suffering, sometimes acute and enduring, but whatever be our trial, it is undeniable that in all such cases a spirit of distrust only serves to intensify and to aggravate the evil.

The crosses of our own making are ordinarily more painful by far than those that are sent to us from above

The inner self-torture which springs from dissatisfaction and rebellion is a heavier burden than that which God would lay upon us, and crosses of our own making are ordinarily more painful by far than those that are sent to us from above. It is often because we brood upon them that our trials assume such proportions; it is because we are faint of heart that we feel them so keenly; it is because we fear “where there is no fear”, because we are slow to place our trust in the strong arm of the Lord that they crush and tear us to pieces.

…They are the clouds that gather round the base of the mountain but leave the summit radiant in everlasting sunshine

Samson once met a lion in his way, and though he was unarmed, he closed with the furious animal and overpowered it. A few days later on passing by the spot he found a honey-comb in the dead lion’s mouth. So it is that if we are brave, and face our difficulties with unflinching faith, we shall issue triumphant and find nothing but sweetness in the task. A truly confident soul, indeed, lives upon this earth in a kind of paradise. It may be sorely tried, assailed by the fierce blasts of temptation or tossed upon the waters of many tribulations; but these trials do but affect the outer man, the lower nature, the senses and the appetites; they cannot reach the higher spirit, the will and the understanding in which the true man consists. They are the clouds that gather round the base of the mountain but leave the summit radiant in everlasting sunshine: they are the waves that ruffle the surface of the ocean but disturb not the profound calm and tranquillity of the great deep below. It is that confidence that explains the serenity, the sweetness, the unutterable peace of many holy souls with whom we have sometimes been brought into contact. It is that confidence and love which in the case of certain saints has transformed the nature of things and rendered pleasant what was bitter and made them fall in love, as it were, with suffering itself, which caused St Teresa to cry out: “Either to suffer or to die,” and St Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, “Not to die but to suffer,” and St John of the Cross, when asked what reward he would have for his labours, “None other, Lord, than to suffer and to be condemned for thy sake.” It is that confidence that sustained the great Apostle of the Gentiles in the midst of the untold hardships of his mission – “in many labours, in prisons most frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often” (2 Cor. 11:23). He could say, “I speak the truth in Christ that I have great sadness and continual sorrow in my heart” (Rom. 9:2), and could yet utter the triumph, “I am filled with comfort, I overflow with joy in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 7:4), “for I know whom I have believed and I am certain that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). And we, too, have every reason for reposing our trust in Him whom we daily call our Father.

Putting our trust in Him whom we daily call our Father

The spirit of evil indeed is ever busy whispering in our ears that God is a stern and severe Lord and that we can live much more happily without Him. But in reality to look upon Him as a hard and unmerciful task-master is as untrue as it is blasphemous: it is as if we should say white is black or that light is darkness. The very essence of God is goodness. There is no creature so lowly, so insignificant that God does not care for it with the tenderness of a Father. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father” (Matt. 10:29). What is there that is held of less account than a sparrow? Men despise it, but God cares for it: He provides it with food, He clothes it against the winter, He protects it in face of its assailants. And yet it is but a sparrow, a thing of no value or import. And shall He not care for man, the masterpiece of His hands, for man who is His image, who is His child? “Fear not,” says our Saviour in words of everlasting comfort, “ye are better than many sparrows.”

The pledge and proof that God has been watching over us and directing our steps

We are His children and His compassion is greater than that of any earthly parent. Is it not He who has imparted to so many millions of parents, and of wicked parents too, so tender a love for their offspring? And does He not possess what He has given them in such abundance? Nay, is it not He who addresses to us the almost incredible words: “Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? And if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee” (Is xlix 15). We have only to look upon our past to see how gently and lovingly God has led us by the hand, in spite of much frailty, in spite of many infidelities, and perhaps most serious sins. Is not our baptism into His one true Church, the sacraments we have received, the life, the health we have enjoyed, the many other blessings given us, the many helps afforded us in difficult and trying moments, is not such a long chain of benefits of every kind, the pledge and proof that God has been watching over us and directing our steps with unfaltering solicitude? Is the source sealed or dried up from which so many blessings have flowed to this day? He who has been with us in the past will be with us in the future and “if God be with us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:31). When the servant of Eliseus came to inform his master how a vast army with horses and chariots was in view, the Prophet replied: “Be not afraid, for there are more with us than against us.” We have with us the saints and the angels, the Queen of Heaven, God Almighty Himself, and against us, those who cannot move hand or foot without His sanction.

I know that I may count upon His love and His mercy

St Therese of Lisieux said, as we may read in her autobiography, “Even if I had on my conscience all the sins that could be committed, I should lose none of my trustfulness. With my heart broken in repentance, I should go and throw myself into my Saviour’s arms… I know that I may count upon His love and His mercy.” Let us pray to the Saint that we too may share in her confidence. “The voice of rejoicing and of salvation is in the tabernacles of the just” (Ps 142:15).

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, S.J., The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949

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Posted by on March 8, 2016 in Words of Wisdom


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