A Year with the Saints/November
1. My God and my Lord! what need was there of commanding us to love Thee? Art Thou not most lovely in Thy infinite perfections? And for the infinite love Thou bearest to us, dost Thou not deserve our love? How, then, is it possible that anyone should not love Thee? If there is such a person, it must be because he has not deserved to know Thee. For, a soul that knows God, cannot help loving Him, and loving Him in proportion to his knowledge of Him; so that if he loves Him but little, it is a sign that he knows Him but little; and the more his knowledge increases, the more his love will go on growing.----St. Teresa
A very elevated soul once gave her director the following account of her interior: "A great flame of love springs up in my heart, Father, when I clearly perceive, in the time of meditation, how the most holy Humanity of the Lord shows how much He deserves our love, by that which He bears to us, while He loves us even as He loves Himself. He manifests this to us: 1.) By the great things He has done, and is doing, for us. 2.) By the great desire He has to be loved by us, which He proves by so many extraordinary devices of love, and by remaining, as it were, in a state of violence, because He wishes to communicate Himself and make Himself known to us, that He may be loved by us; but as He finds no access, by reason of our want of proper dispositions, He cannot do it. 3.) By the patience with which He bears the coolness He meets with from creatures He has loved so much, and which has no effect upon His unalterable constancy of love. "Under these beams of light, the soul sends forth various affections----sometimes of wonder that the Divine Majesty should be willing that the creature be loved with an infinite love, and the Creator and Lord with a finite and limited love; sometimes of love, but an excessive love, which devours and consumes it, and it would desire the heart of a Seraph to blaze and burn with the love of its God; nay rather would desire to love Him with that same love with which it sees itself loved by Him; and again of insufferable affliction at seeing itself destitute of the knowledge and love of God, which are the height of its perfection, and which would raise it to the Divine Majesty whom it so earnestly desires. This pain is increased by the new perception with which the Lord makes it understood that not loving Him is a positive slight to His power, wisdom, love, goodness, and so many admirable things which He has done and suffered for it. Oh, where can it rest and how not sink into nothingness beneath this light! I assure you, Father, that when God placed before my eyes the great contempt I had shown to my Love, when I did not love Him, I do not know how I remained alive. Surely, if He had not suspended my consciousness, I should have died on the spot.
"Finally, the soul is enkindled with ardent longings and desires that its Beloved may be known, and sends up aspirations and ejaculations to that Infinite Goodness, that it may make itself known in order to be loved. It professes its readiness to cooperate in the aid and advancement of souls, in whatever way may be pleasing to the Divine Majesty. It was thus that the loving Lord revealed Himself to me, His most vile and unworthy servant. And when He mercifully imparted to me any of these graces outside of the time of prayer, as when I was conversing with others, or at work, I fell into a trance and was so far unconscious that when the Sisters spoke to me I did not know what they said, though I always understood the Superioress if she required anything as matter of obedience." The blessed Jacopone was so much affected at seeing so many lose their souls by offenses against God in the Carnival time that he went about crying, "Amor non amatul; amor non amatul; quia non cognitur----Love is not loved, Love is not loved, because it is not known."
St. Philip Neri, too, often exclaimed: "O Lord, I do not love Thee, because I do not know Thee."
2. When one has succeeded in placing his heart wholly upon God, he loses his affection for all other things, and no longer finds consolation in anything, nor clings to anything except God, forgetting his own honor and every interest of his own.----St. Teresa
"While there is any created thing which can give me consolation and delight," says St. Bernard, "I do not dare to say that the love of God is ardent and fervid in my heart."
Holy Queen Esther, in the midst of her regal pomp and splendor, could say: "O Lord, Thou knowest well that I have never taken delight in dignity and royal apparel, nor in the banquets of the king, nor in anything have I found consolation until this day, save in Thee, my Lord and God."
St. Catherine of Genoa, after she had been struck by the arrow of Divine love, often cried out, "No more world! no more pleasures!" And if she had been mistress of a thousand worlds, she would have thrown them all away, to give her whole heart to God.
St. Ignatius Loyola went so far as to have lost all attachment to anything that was not God, and he had nothing at heart but to please Him and to gain His love. He said one day that if God should give him the choice of going that moment directly to Paradise, or remaining longer in the world to serve Him and advance His Kingdom, even with the uncertainty of his own salvation, he would choose the latter alternative.
3. Alas! we have not as much love as we need! I mean that it would require an infinite amount to have enough to love our God according to His due; and yet, miserable that we are, we throw it away lavishly upon vile and unworthy objects, as if we had a superfluity.----St. Francis de Sales
This good Saint could not endure to have an affection for anything remain in his heart. He once said: "Truly, if I knew that there was one thread of affection in my soul, which was not of God or for God, I would instantly sever it. I would rather be nothing than not belong wholly to God without any exception."
St. Philip Neri, burning with these flames of love, often cried: "How is it possible that anyone who believes in God can love anything but Him!" and then addressing to God a loving complaint, he would exclaim: "O Lord! since Thou art so lovely and hast commanded me to love Thee, why didst Thou give me but a single heart, and that so small?"
St. Augustine, to animate his soul to center all its love upon God, employed such incentives as these: "What can please thee in this world, O my soul, or what can gain thy love? Wherever thou turnest, thou seest only Heaven and earth. If in both thou findest what is worthy of praise and love, of how much praise and love must He be worthy, who has made these things thou praisest and lovest? My soul, till this time thou hast been long occupied and tossed hither and thither by many and various desires, which have ensnared thy heart and divided it among many loves, leaving thee always disturbed and never secure. Recollect thyself now a little and ask those things that please thee, who is their maker; and since you admire the form, love its Former, and do not lose thyself in what is made, so as to forget Him who made it. Indeed, indeed, my God, Thou art truly worthy to be revered and loved above everything on earth or in Heaven. Nay rather, all transitory things do not deserve to be loved at all, lest we should lose Thy love."
4. When a soul that truly loves God knows that a thing is of greater perfection, and more for God's service, it pursues it immediately and without difficulty, on account of the pleasure it finds in pleasing Him. Ah my God, what else is needed but to love Thee truly, and truly abandon everything for Thy love, for then Thou wilt render all easy!----St. Teresa
Such was the conduct of St. Teresa herself, and so she once said: "Though I desired the new reform (of the Carmelite Order), that I might be apart from everything and follow my vocation with more perfection; yet I desired it in such a way that if I had clearly perceived it was more for God's service to abandon it, I should certainly have done so with perfect peace and tranquillity. For when I am sure that a thing is more perfect and more for God's service, I am at rest; and in the contentment which I experience in pleasing Him, I instantly lose the pain of leaving something which had given me satisfaction." This was so true that in order never to fail in it, she wished to bind herself by a vow to do whatever she might know to be most perfect and most pleasing to the Lord.
A similar vow was also taken by St. Andrew Avellino and by St. Jane Frances de Chantal.
In regard to St. Ignatius Loyola, it is well known that he sought in everything not only the glory of God, but His greatest possible glory. For this reason, the Church, in the prayer assigned for his Feast, sets it down as his distinguished mark, that God chose him to spread His greater glory.
5. When the love of God obtains the mastery of a soul, it produces in it an insatiable desire to labor for the Beloved; so that, though it may perform many and great works and spend much time in His service, all seems nothing, and it constantly grieves at doing so little for its God, and if it could annihilate itself and perish for Him, it would be well pleased. And so it considers itself unprofitable in all that it does and regards its life as idle; for, as love teaches it what God merits, by this clear light it sees all the defects and imperfections of its actions, and thus derives confusion and grief from them all. And as it feels that its work is very poor to be offered to so great a Lord, it is at the greatest distance from vainglory and presumption, and from condemning others.----St. John Chrysostom
St. Vincent de Paul was equally unwearied and insatiable in laboring for God and rendering himself acceptable in His sight; nor did he think he had ever done enough for so great a Lord. In imitation of the Apostles, he forgot the good works which were behind him in the past, and put all his thoughts and efforts upon advancing daily in God's service.
St. Charles was remarkable for this virtue. As long as he lived, he had an insatiable desire to honor God and to spread and promote His worship, which spurred him on to labor without weariness. He seemed to grow fresher every day, under labors that succeeded one another without intermission. While those who attended him were often prostrated by fatigue, he never gave the least token of it, as if labor were rest and recreation to him. What is more, after all the great undertakings he performed in the service of God, he was never satisfied with what he had done, but was always inventing new methods; nor did he ever think or speak of anything but God, and what might conduce to His service and honor.
6. When one has arrived at the perfect love of God, he becomes as if he were the only man on earth. He cares no more for glory or ignominy; he despises temptations and sufferings; he loses taste and appetite for all things. Finding no support, consolation, or repose in anything, he goes constantly in search of his Beloved, without ever being weary; so that at work or at table, waking or sleeping, in every employment or conversation, his whole thought and his whole aim is to find the Beloved, for his heart is where his treasure is. In one word, he is like a lover who sighs only for the sight of his love, and whose love is his all.----St. John Chrysostom
Zeno the Monk, being absorbed in contemplation, went about one day crying aloud like a madman. He happened to meet the Macedonian emperor, and being asked by him what he was doing, he returned the question. "I am going to hunt," said the emperor. "And I," replied Zeno, "am going to seek God, and I will not stop until I have found Him." With these words he turned away and left him.
The blessed Raymond Lullo was so absorbed in Divine love that his sole concern was love, and he could think and speak of nothing else. If anyone said to him: "Whose are you?" he answered: "Love's." "Whence do you come?" "From Love." "Whither are you going?" "To Love." "Who has brought you here?" "Love."
St. Honoratus the Abbot was so full of the love of God and so desirous to serve and glorify Him, that not only by day but even by night, all his thoughts and affections were directed to Him. While asleep he made short and fervent instructions upon the obligation and the manner of loving God, and his very dreams were filled with the love of God, piety, and devotion.
Similar was the course of life of the glorious St. Vincent Ferrer, whose heart and mind were full of God. He was always thinking of God; he never spoke but of God, or with God. Whether walking, sitting still, studying, or conversing, he always seemed absorbed in God, whose love appeared upon his lips, in his face, in his eyes, in all his sentiments, in all times and places, even when he was asleep; so that, through the cracks in his door, his room was often seen illuminated by the splendor that beamed from his face as he slept.
The excessive heat which many souls suffered from this sacred flame, would seem incredible. St. Aloysius Gonzaga experienced it to such a degree that his face appeared all on fire; St. Catherine of Siena, so that natural fire seemed to her cold rather than warm; St. Peter of Alcantara, so that if he plunged into an icy pond, the water would boil as if red-hot iron had been put into it; St. Francis di Paula, so that he could light lamps with a touch of his finger, as well as with a blazing taper; the Venerable Sister Maria Villani, so that on turning her thoughts interiorly to God or her eyes exteriorly towards some object of devotion, she would feel as if on fire, and she drank upwards of twenty quarts of cold water a day, without being able to extinguish this flame; and the water, as she swallowed it, seemed as if falling upon glowing iron. She was obliged, on this account, to give up vocal prayers and her usual private devotions, as they all served to fan this interior conflagration. St. Philip Neri, on one of the nights which he passed in the catacombs, threw himself on the ground, exclaiming, "I cannot, I cannot bear it any longer!" when he recovered a little, he found that two of his upper ribs were bent as if by heat.
Two remarkable incidents deserve special mention at this point. St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi frequently experienced this holy ardor, and one day she was unusually inflamed by it. She began to hurry through the corridors and the garden, and seizing the hands of the Sisters whom she met, she clasped them closely, and said: "Sisters, do you love our Love? How can you live? Do you not feel your- selves consumed by love?" She next went to the bell-tower, and began to ring a great peal upon the chimes. The Sisters came in a crowd, and asked her why she was ringing. "I am ringing," she answered, "that people may come to love that Love, by whom they are loved so much."
The second occurred in the time of St. Louis of France. One of his ambassadors met one day, in a city to which he had been sent, a woman who was going through the streets with a vase of water in her right hand, and a lighted torch in her left, and who cried out with deep sighs, "Oh God! oh God! is it possible!" When the ambassador asked her what she wished, she answered: "I would wish, if it were according to the will of God, to extinguish the fires of Hell with this water, and to burn up Paradise with this torch, that God might be loved purely for love's sake."
7. It should be observed that perfect love of God consists not in those delights, tears, and sentiments of devotion that we generally seek, but in a strong determination and keen desire to please God in all things, and to take care, as far as possible, not to offend Him, and to promote His glory.----St. Teresa
St. Jane Frances de Chantal showed how well she understood this great truth, by a letter she sent to the Superior of a Religious who was looked upon as a soul filled with the love of God, because she enjoyed extraordinary consolations. "This good girl," she wrote, "greatly needs to be undeceived. She believes herself highly elevated in the love of God, yet she is not much advanced in virtue. I believe that these fervors and exaltations which she feels are the work of nature and self-love. Therefore, she should be shown that the real strength of love consists not in enjoying the Divine sweetness, but rather in exact observance of the Rules, and the faithful practice of solid virtue----that is, in humility, the love of contempt, patient endurance of insults and adversities, self-forgetfulness, and a love that seeks not to be known except by God. This alone is true love, and these are its unerring tokens. May God preserve us from that sensible love which allows us to live in ourselves, while the true leads us to die to ourselves."
Such was the love of St. Thomas Aquinas, of whom it is recorded that he kept his soul always as pure and true as that of a child five years old.
8. The love of God is the tree of life in the midst of the terrestrial paradise. It has, like other trees, six parts----roots, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit. The roots are the virtues by which love itself is acquired, and the principal are nine in number: 1. True penitence, and reception of the Sacraments; 2. Observance of the Commandments and Rules; 3. Fear of God; 4. Mortification of the passions and appetites; 5. Retirement, and avoidance of the occasion of sin; 6. Examination of conscience; 7. Humility; 8. Obedience; and 9. Charity to our neighbors. The trunk of the tree is surrender of self-will to the will of God. We may discover what the branches are by those words, "Sub umbra illius quem desideraveram, sedi----Under the shadow of Him whom I had longed for, I rested." The first of these is lively faith, by which the soul can view the Sun of Justice closely without being dazzled. The second, true confidence in the Divine protection, by means of which one can escape being cast down in the midst of adversities. The third, ardent desires and firm resolutions and other interior acts, continually directed towards obtaining true love. The fourth, constancy in remaining seated beneath this tree. The leaves are: 1. New graces freely given; 2. Interior sweetness, joy, spiritual gladness, tenderness, or tears; 3. Raptures and ecstasies, referred to in those words: "lntroduxit me rex in cellam vinariam----The King brought me into the wine cellar." All these things are called leaves, because they serve as an ornament to the tree, and help to mature the fruit; and in the winter of aridity and tribulation they fall, as the leaves do from a tree, while the love of God remains. The flowers are the works and heroic virtues which the loving soul produces, and are what the Bride asked for in the words, "Fulcite me floribus----Sustain me with flowers." The fruits are the trials, afflictions, and persecutions which the soul bears with patience, when God gives them to her, or which she even procures for herself of her own accord, to serve Him better, or to imitate Jesus Christ in suffering.----St. Teresa
It is no wonder that the Saint knew so well how to describe this holy tree, for she kept it planted in her heart, and well developed in every respect.
The same idea of love was entertained by a good nun of Naples, called Sister Maria de Santiago, in whose life we read that she thought it resembled a beautiful tree planted in the good soil of the souls that possess it, and producing abundantly the flowers and fruits of holy works. One of the principal of these, she said, was love of our neighbor, for which she was herself remarkable, because she kept this fair tree of Divine love rooted in her soul.
9. Some torment themselves in seeking means to discover the art of loving God, and do not know----poor creatures----that there is no art or means of loving Him but to love Him----that is, to begin to practice those things which are pleasing to Him.----St. Francis de Sales
St. Vincent de Paul devoted himself nobly to this holy practice, observing God's law with so much exactness, that those who watched him closely assented that no one who was merely a man could fail less than he. He was constantly elevated above himself, upright in his judgments, circumspect in his words, prudent in his conduct, punctual in the practices of piety, and so perfectly united to God, so far as could be judged from the exterior, that it was plain that the love of God was what animated his heart and ruled in all the powers and sentiments of his soul, to regulate every motion and act. It might be said that his whole life was a sacrifice to God, not only of honors, comforts, pleasures and all other earthly blessings, but even of what he had received more directly from His most liberal hand, such as lights, affections and holy desires. Nor did he ever wish for anything except that God should be known and glorified, in all times and places, and by all kinds of people. To this end alone he directed all that he thought, said, and did.
10. The love of God is acquired by resolving to labor and suffer for Him, and to abstain from all that displeases Him, and by carrying this resolution into practice as occasion arises. But to be able to do it well in great things, it is necessary to attend to it in small.----St. Teresa
When this Saint was much opposed in regard to her Foundations, she said that she never did anything without the advice of experienced persons, that she might not in any degree fail in obedience. "For," she added, "rather than commit the least of those faults they charge me with, I would most certainly have abandoned not one, but a thousand convents."
St. Vincent de Paul was remarkable for this virtue. Because he would not consent to anything in the least contrary to justice, simplicity, and charity, he was obliged to bear many unfavorable remarks, indiscreet questions, reproofs, affronts, importunities and other unpleasant treatment from members of his own Order, as well as from others. In such cases he was never observed to give a sign of impatience or to utter a word of complaint, but rather, in order to show the strength of his love for God, he spoke and acted with more than his usual sweetness and tranquillity.
11. A very good way of exercising ourselves in the love of Christ is to acquire the habit of keeping Him present to our minds as far as possible. This may be done in three ways: 1. When we have to perform any action, to represent to ourselves the manner in which He did it while dwelling in the world, as well as the spirit and intention with which He animated it, that we may imitate Him. 2. To think how He is continually looking down upon us from Heaven, and shedding upon us the abundance of His graces and counsels. 3. To recognize Him in the person of our neighbor. In this way, we shall perform our actions with more ease and perfection; we shall avoid many faults as well as much anxiety and impatience, and in every service that we perform for our neighbors, we shall merit as much as if we did it to Our Lord Himself.----St. Vincent de Paul
This was St. Vincent's own practice, and it raised him very high in the love of Jesus. He undertook no business, gave no advice, performed no action, without first fixing his eyes mentally upon the example or words of Christ, and on the rewards which He keeps prepared, and freely dispenses to such as labor well. And in his dealings with others, he beheld in each the very person of Christ. Phrases like these were often on his lips: "As Christ said"; "As Christ did"; "We ought to recognize Christ in all men."
12. Would you know how you stand in regard to the love of God? Here are the signs by which you may discover: As much as the soul grows in Divine love, so much do the desires of suffering and of being humbled grow in it. These are the sure tokens of the sacred fire; everything else is but smoke.----St. Vincent de Paul
St. John of the Cross proved how firmly he was persuaded of this. When Jesus Christ appeared to him one day and asked him what reward he desired for the many trials and labors he had borne for love of Him, "No other, O Lord," he replied, "but to suffer and be despised."
One day while they were chanting the words of the Gospel, "Simon-Joannis, diligis Me plus his?---- Lovest thou Me more than these?" St. Matilda fell into an ecstasy, and heard Christ saying to her: "Matilda, lovest thou Me more than all things in the world?" She replied: "Thou knowest, Lord, that I love Thee." Christ continued: "But lovest thou Me so as to be willing to bear all sorts of trials, sufferings, and humiliations for My sake?" "Thou knowest well," she answered, "that no torments can separate me from Thee." Then Christ said: "But if these torments were terrible, would you bear them gladly and readily for love of Me?" And Matilda replied, "Yes, Lord, most readily!" This great love pleased God so much that it gave her the same merit as if she had suffered all in reality.
13. A sure proof that we love God alone is that we love Him equally in all cases. For, as He is always equal to Himself, the inequality of our love for Him can arise only from the consideration of something which is not Himself.----St. Francis de Sales
By this test we may perceive how pure was the love of this Saint; for, it never increased in prosperity, nor diminished in adversity, but in everything was directed equally to the Lord, and through everything he thanked and blessed Him.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal also gave this excellent proof of her perfect love of God, by feeling equally contented in consolations and in desolations, of which she suffered many, and for a long time. The reason was, as she said, because in both she desired and sought only the fulfillment of the Divine Will, by which she knew that both prosperity and adversity were sent to her.
"True lovers of God," said a holy soul, "are like the sun, which, though it is sometimes covered with clouds, yet always possesses in itself the same light and the same warmth."
14. The measure of charity may be taken from the want of desires. As desires diminish in a soul, charity increases in it; and when it no longer feels any desire, then it possesses perfect charity.----St. Augustine
St. Francis de Sales used to say of himself: "I wish for very few things, and those few I wish for very little. I have almost no desire, and if I were to begin life again, I should wish to have none at all."
St. Teresa was so fully persuaded of this truth that she exclaimed: "Oh Love, that lovest me more than I love myself, and more than I can understand! How shall I be able, O Lord, to desire more than Thou art willing to give me?"
15. The surest way to discover whether we have the love of God is to see whether we love our neighbor, for the two things are never separated. Be sure, too, that the more you perceive yourself to advance in the love of your neighbor, the more you will do so in that of God. To see how much we love our neighbor is the surest rule by which to find out how much we love God. It is important, then, to notice with great attention how we walk in this holy love of our neighbor; for if it is with perfection, all is done. And so we ought to examine ourselves carefully as to the little things that are constantly happening, without making much account of certain high-flown ideas about the great things we mean to say and do for our neighbors, which sometimes come to us in prayer, but which are never put into execution.----St. Teresa
The blessed Angela di Foligno prayed to the Lord to give her some sign by which she might know whether she truly loved Him, and was loved by Him. "The clearest sign," He answered, "of mutual love between Me and My servants is that they love their neighbors." Tertullian relates that the mutual love of the first Christians was so manifest that even the heathens were much astonished at it, and said among themselves: "See how these Christians love one another! how much respect they have for each other! how ready they are to render any service, or even to suffer death, for each other's sake!"
St. Jerome says that in his old age St. John the Evangelist was not able to come to the sacred assemblies, except supported by the arms of his followers; nor could he preach long sermons, on account of the weakness of his voice, but he would constantly repeat these few words: "Little children, love one another." After a time, those present became weary and asked him why he always gave them the same instruction. "Because," he replied, "this is the precept of the Lord; and if you observe this, it alone will be enough."
In order that her nuns might be sure whether their actions proceeded from the spirit of charity, St. Jane Frances de Chantal kept inscribed upon the wall of a corridor through which they were constantly passing, a list of the distinguishing marks which the Apostle assigns to this sublime virtue: "Charity is patient, mild, without jealousy, without ambition, without self-interest, without aversions. It believes all, hopes for all, bears with all." When anyone in chapter accused herself of a fault against charity, she sent her to read these sentences, which she called the mirror of the convent. She often read them herself, in presence of her daughters; then, turning towards them with a glowing countenance, she would add: "Though I speak with the tongue of Angels and have not charity, I am nothing; and though I give my body to torture and to fire, and have not charity, this profits me nothing."
16. It is worthwhile to reflect that God, Who has commanded us to love our neighbor, has also prescribed the manner in which we are to love Him, that is, as ourselves. This is the rule which cannot be transgressed without fault; and it is so essential that unless our love comes up to this measure, it is not sufficient.
St. Wenceslaus spent a great part of his wealth in purchasing the children of heathen parents, whom he afterwards caused to be brought up in the Catholic Faith.
17. Fraternal charity is the sign of predestination. It makes us known as the true disciples of Christ, for it was this Divine virtue that moved Him to live a life of poverty and to die in destitution upon the Cross. Therefore, when we find opportunities of suffering for charity, we ought to bless God for them.----St. Vincent de Paul
St. Euphrasia, a nun in the Thebaid, was so full of charity that she spent whole weeks without taking food, on account of her excessive occupation in the service of others, and because she devoted to prayer any little time she had left. It was noticed that for a whole year she never sat down; and her active kindness made her dear and lovely in the eyes of the whole convent, so that she seemed to them not an earthly creature, but an Angel incarnate. Finally, God revealed to the Abbess that He should soon take Euphrasia from her. When this came to the ears of one of the Saint's companions, she wept day and night, and Euphrasia, discovering the cause, was herself grieved at the prospect of losing the opportunity of serving God in her neighbor.
Eulogius, a very learned man, resolved to abandon study and give himself entirely to the Divine service. He first distributed the greater part of his property among the poor, but not knowing what kind of life to choose in which he might best please God, he went into the public square and there found a leper without hands or feet. Touched with a lively compassion, he made a sort of compact with God that he would take care of this man, and support him till death, in the certain hope of obtaining mercy from the Lord. He took him then to his house, and took care of him with his own hands, for fifteen years. At the end of this time the man, instigated by the devil, began to insult Eulogius, saying that he must have committed many thefts and rascalities, and so made use of him as a means of expiating his sins, but that he did not wish to stay with him any longer, and desired to be carried back to the square, for he was tired of a vegetable diet and wished for meat. Eulogius brought him some meat, and tried to quiet him. But he would not be pacified, saying that he liked to see plenty of people, and nothing would suit him but to be carried back to the square. Eulogius, not knowing what to do, took him, by ship, to see St. Anthony, who first reproved them both, and then said that God had visited them with this temptation because they were near the end of their days; therefore, they must be patient for a little while, and not separate, for the Lord had permitted this trial, that they might receive a greater reward. They returned home, and at the end of forty days Eulogius died first, and then his patient.
18. God loves our neighbors so much that He gave His life for them; and He is glad even to have us leave Him to do them good. How grateful to Him, then, may we believe the services we render them! Ah, if we understood well how important is this virtue of the love of our neighbor, we should give ourselves entirely to the pursuit of it.----St. Teresa
St. Vincent de Paul showed how fully he was persuaded of this truth, for he took this practice so much to heart that he seemed to have nothing else to do. And it may be truly said that there was never a miser who took so much advantage of opportunities to preserve and increase his wealth, as he to do good to his neighbors. This charity, too, had neither restriction nor limitation, but extended to all times and places and to all persons capable of enjoying its effects. One morning, before Communion, St. Gertrude was grieving that the lateness of the priest prevented her from confessing some slight faults, when the Lord comforted her by a sight of her own soul decked with rich and resplendent jewels, and said to her: "Why are you sad about this, when you are adorned with the mantle of charity, which, you know, covers a multitude of sins?" Moses asked to be blotted out of the Book of Life, if so he might obtain from the Lord the pardon of his brothers; St. Paul was ready to be an anathema; and St. Paulinus even became a slave in place of another.
19. Oh, how great must be the love that the Son of God bears to the poor! for He chose the state of poverty. He wished to be called the teacher of the poor, and counts most especially as done to Himself whatever is done for His poor.----St. Vincent de Paul
Though this Saint loved all men, yet it may be said that He loved the poor above all; he bore them all in his heart; he had more than a father's love for them so that this most tender affection gave rise in him to a keen sympathy with their miseries, and a constant effort to relieve them. When he met with any case of want, his heart was immediately filled with compassion, and without waiting to be entreated, he thought of some method of relief; so that his chief care seemed to be to help the needy and assist the poor. He showed this while talking, one day, about the bad weather, which threatened to cause great scarcity of food. "Ah!" he exclaimed with a sigh, "how anxious I feel, not so much for my Congregation, as for the poor! We will go out and ask food for our houses, or serve as vice-curates in the parishes; but what will the poor do? Where can they go? I say with truth, that this is my greatest affliction and trial."
The same may be said of St. Francis de Sales, with the addition that he showed a positive preference for the poor over the rich, in both temporal and spiritual things, for he looked upon them, as he said, as people abandoned by the Lord to our care. Many other Saints were remarkable for their tenderness to the poor. Sister Maria Crucifixa often told her Abbess that if it should ever be necessary to refuse alms to the poor, she would contrive not to be present, as she could not bear it. St. Margaret, a Dominican nun, put so much refinement, delicacy and courtesy into her acts of charity, that the expression "This is not a leaf from Sister Margaret's book" became a proverb to characterize anything that was not well arranged. St. Hedwig, Queen of Poland, served the poor on her knees and washed their feet. St. Stephen, King of Hungary, and others did the same.
20. We should love the poor with peculiar affection, beholding in them the very person of Christ, and showing them the same consideration that He did.----St. Vincent de Paul
The venerable Monseigneur de Palafox, after he was a bishop, gave a dinner every Thursday to twelve poor men and was present at it himself. But one day, reading the Life of St. Martin, he found that that Saint gave food to the poor with his own hands, and washed their feet. He decided to do the same, and carried out his plan inflexibly on every Wednesday and Saturday, distributing to all who came the contents of two large pots and doing this with his own hands, remaining in the meantime on his knees, and with his head uncovered. At the close of the distribution, he washed the feet of the poor; and he did all this with the same pleasure and earnestness that he would have felt in doing it to Jesus Christ visibly present. This produced in his heart a great respect for the poor, for he thought every time he met a poor man that he beheld God Himself.
21. To visit and relieve the sick cannot fail to be a thing very pleasing to God, since He has so greatly commended it. But to do it with the greatest ease and merit, we must regard the sufferer not simply as a man, but as Christ Himself, Who testifies that He receives in His Own person all such service.
St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi showed wonderful charity towards all the sick. She visited them every day, and in severe cases many times a day, remaining as long as necessary and serving them in all their needs, for which she provided herself, or through the Superioress or others in charge. By first tasting it herself, she sometimes encouraged them to take food. She bathed them, arranged their beds and swept their rooms, performing the humblest offices of her own accord. She read spiritual books to them, exhorted them to patience, or gave them consolation, and did everything with so much affection and cheerfulness that she was of the greatest assistance. This charity was universal, free from self-interest, prompted solely by the love of God, regarding the sick now as temples of the Holy Ghost, now as sisters of the Angels, and herself always as serving God alone. When medicine was to be given at inconvenient hours, she offered to help the infirmarian. When any required unusual care, she took the whole charge of serving them. She did this in the case of a blind consumptive, of a leper, and of one who had a frightful ulcer, to which she more than once applied her lips. She waited on them all with as much attention as if she had been their servant, bathing them, washing their clothes, and performing all other services through the whole course of their illness, which, in the case of the consumptive, lasted for a year. When the sick were near their end she remained with them all night, without lying down, sometimes staying beside them for fifteen days and nights in succession, now praying for them, now encouraging them with so much feeling and charity that she gave them the greatest comfort. And so all the dying wished to have her present at their passage from this world.
St. John Berchmans bestowed similar care upon the sick, in whatever house he was living. He visited them many times a day and consoled them with spiritual conversation. In summer, he brought them cool water from the fountain at the hottest part of the day to moisten their lips and hands. However numerous they might be, he went to see them all every day, and spent most time with those who required the most aid, or received the fewest visits. From the rooms where he found many gathered he quickly hastened, to go to those who were alone. He always told some anecdote of the Blessed Virgin to the sick lay-brothers, who watched eagerly for the hour of his visit, and if anything had hindered him they asked the Father in charge to send him later, so much were they consoled by his presence. When he was not able to visit any brother, he did not fail to inquire of the infirmarian in regard to him.
St. Felix the Capuchin showed no less pity for the sick of his Order. At his return to the convent, when he had been out to solicit alms, he went around distributing among them any little delicacies and refreshments he had obtained, consoling them at the same time with amiable words, and showing his readiness to render them whatever service they required.
Many, too, even persons of high rank, have had a vocation for visiting and serving hospitals. St. Stephen, King of Hungary, went to them by night, alone and in disguise.
St. Louis, King of France, served the inmates on his knees: and with uncovered head, looking upon them as members . . . of Christ and united with Him upon the Cross. And so with many others.
When St. John Gualberto was Abbot, he was so rigorous in regard to the observance of the Rule that he had no mercy on the sick, but desired them to keep it like the well. But this was not pleasing to the Lord, so He permitted him to fall grievously ill, and learn from his own experience how to compassionate sufferers.
22. To have that love for our neighbor which is commanded by the Lord, we must entertain good and amiable feelings towards him, especially when he is disagreeable and annoying to us on account of any defect, natural or moral; for then we find nothing in him to love, except in God. The maxim of the Saints was that in performing works of charity and kindness, we ought to consider not the person who receives them, but Him for whose sake they are done. Nor let us be discouraged if we sometimes feel repugnance; for an ounce of this solid and reasonable love is of much greater value than any amount of that tender and sensitive love which we share with the animals, and which often deceives and betrays our reason.----St. Francis de Sales
St. Jane Frances de Chantal possessed this love in abundance, for as we read in her Life, she never lost an opportunity of showing it for anyone, whatever faults and deficiencies she might observe in him. She often exhorted her Sisters to do the same, saying to them: "We ought to bear with our neighbors, miserable and ill-conditioned though they may be, even in their follies and trivialities, supporting their tediousness and those little vexations which do no harm beyond wearying us; their want of harmony, too, their weakness, and thoughtlessness occasioned by their deficient knowledge, and all those defects which only regard the person who suffers from them. It is certainly necessary to suffer something, and if our neighbor had no defects and gave us no trouble, how could we have occasion to bear with him?" Having heard that one of her Religious found it very difficult to bear with the imperfections of another, she wrote thus to her: "My daughter, often consider how it is said in the Gospel that Jesus Christ loved us, and washed us in His Blood, and observe that He did not wait to love us until after we were washed from our impurities; but He loved us when we were vile and impure creatures, and then washed us. Let us, then, love this dear neighbor of ours without examination, though he be poor and ill-conditioned, and whatever he may be. And if it were possible to wash away his imperfections with our blood, we should desire to give even the last drop of it for this purpose."
The venerable Sister Maria Crucifixa loved all her neighbors, but she showed special kindness for those who were of an unhappy disposition or who exhibited any dislike to her. Once she was much disobliged by a person in minor orders, who, as she afterwards heard, could not receive ordination because he had not sufficient fortune. She thereupon prevailed upon his mother, who was a duchess, to make a settlement of this requisite amount of property upon him.
23. Let us beware of complaints, resentments and evil-speaking against those who are ill-disposed to us, discontented with us, or hostile to our plans and arrangements, or who even persecute us with injuries, insults, and calumnies. Rather let us go on treating them as cordially as at first, or more so, as far as possible showing them esteem, always speaking well of them, doing them good, serving them on occasion, even to the point of taking shame and disgrace upon ourselves, if necessary to save their honor. All this ought to be done, first, to overcome evil with good, according to the teaching of the Apostles; and secondly, because they are our allies rather than our adversaries, as they aid us to destroy self-love, which is our greatest foe; and since it is they who give us an opportunity to gain merit, they ought to be considered our dearest friends.----St. Vincent de Paul
It was thus that he himself treated those who offended him. He not only pardoned them willingly, and obtained pardon from the government for them when required, but compassionated them, excused them, showed for them the same esteem, affection and respect as if nothing had happened, and did them all the good that was in his power. Still more, as he was very sensitive regarding fraternal charity, he took care to extirpate from their hearts the root of rancor and to gain their affection by exonerating them, humbling himself, and bending to them so much that they were obliged to yield to his humility and charity. He was never heard to complain of anyone, whatever offense he had given, and still less to blame or accuse any, so long as his own interests were the only ones involved. One day a missionary of his Congregation told him that some people, moved, as he thought, by envy, were putting obstacles in the way of the ordination of some new priests. "Yes," he answered, "this function frequently excites emulation and envy. But those who are now in opposition, may have a good and upright motive. So, we ought to preserve all our esteem and respect for them, and believe with them that we are unworthy of such a charge, and that others would execute it better than we. Let us profit by this sentiment, and give ourselves to God in truth, to serve Him faithfully."
St. Francis de Sales was once talking with an intimate friend, who said that, in his opinion, one of the most difficult precepts of Christianity was that of love towards enemies. "For my part," said St. Francis, "I do not know what my heart is made of, or whether God has been graciously pleased to give me one quite peculiar. For I do not find the fulfillment of this precept in the least difficult; on the contrary, I experience so much pleasure in it, that if God had forbidden me to love my neighbors, I should have the greatest difficulty in obeying Him." The following incident shows how truly he spoke.
A lawyer of Annecy hated the holy prelate for no visible cause and was constantly speaking ill of him, injuring and persecuting him, so that he even tore down one of his notices which was fastened upon the church door and scrawled a thousand disgraceful figures on his confessional. The Saint, who knew all this, met him one day and made him a friendly bow; then taking him by the hand with great politeness, he said whatever he thought most likely to make him change his course; but seeing that his words produced no effect, he added: "I clearly perceive that you hate me, though I do not know why. But assure yourself that if you were to put out one of my eyes, I would look at you with the other as amicably as if you were my best friend:' His heart, however, was not softened by this, nor by the efforts of his friends to lead him to reconsider his actions. On the contrary, after firing pistol shots at his windows, he one day fired at the Bishop himself in the street, but by mistake wounded his vicar. For this act he was imprisoned by the senate, and not withstanding the interposition of the Saint, he was condemned to death. But the holy Bishop, having obtained a reprieve, used his influence with the king so successfully as to obtain his pardon. He went himself to the prison to bring the good news, and to entreat him to abandon a hostility for which he had no just cause. Finding him hardened as ever and ready with calumnies and insults, he knelt and asked his pardon. Finally, perceiving that nothing would move him, he left by his side the pardon he had obtained for him and took leave, saying: "I have rescued you from the hands of man's justice, and you are not converted. You will fall under the justice of God, from which you cannot escape." This soon happened; for a little while after, his life came to an unhappy end.
In the Lives of the Fathers we read of a monk who, when he knew that another was speaking ill of him, was much pleased, and often visited him when such a one was in the neighborhood, and sent him presents when at a distance.
There was also another, who always showed the greatest love to any who insulted him, saying to those who were astonished at it: "Those who insult us give us the means of perfecting ourselves; and those who praise and honor us put stumbling blocks before our feet, and give us subjects of pride."
An old monk, too, is mentioned, whose cell was often entered secretly by another monk, who robbed him of anything good that he had, particularly in the way of food. This the good old man noticed in silence, and worked harder than before, and ate less, saying to himself, "This poor brother must be in want." When the holy old man lay on his deathbed, surrounded by the monks, he saw among them the robber, and begging him to approach, he clasped his hands and kissed them, saying: "Dear hands! how much am I obliged to you! I thank you with all possible earnestness, for by your means I am now going to Paradise!"
St. Teresa was accustomed to redouble her charity towards those who offended her. St. Francis Borgia used to call those who brought upon him any mortification or trial his assistants and friends. A certain good nun, whenever she received an injury from anyone, always hastened to the Most Holy Sacrament and made an offering of it, saying: "O Lord, for love of Thee I pardon her who has done me this wrong! Mayest Thou pardon her for love of me!"
One of her nuns once told St. Jane Frances de Chantal that another Sister had revealed some of her faults, but she had resolved, for the love of God, not to do the same to her in return. The good Mother embraced her tenderly, saying: "May it please my God that this resolution shall never pass away from your mind! I should consider myself most happy if I could find it in the hearts of all our Sisters."
24. Let us endeavor to show ourselves full of compassion towards the faulty and the sinful. If we do not show compassion and charity to these, we do not deserve to have God show it towards us.----St. Vincent de Paul
This Saint was never astonished at any fault that he saw committed; for he said that to commit faults was the characteristic of man, as he was conceived and born in sin. This acquaintance that he had with the common miseries of man was what made him behave with so much sweetness and compassion to all sinners. He avoided harshness and used only mild and compassionate words and ways, even with the most guilty, endeavoring to conceal and make little account of their faults with a marvellous prudence and charity, and desiring to have his missionaries follow the same course.
When St. John Berchmans had charge of the Novitiate, if the Father Rector ordered him to impose a penance upon any novice, he felt such great compassion that he would kneel and ask the favor of performing it in his place. But when this was not granted, he imposed it with such suavity, that no one ever showed any hesitation about accepting it.
St. Francis once said to the Blessed Cataneus, his General: "By this I shall know whether you love God and me, His and your servant; that is, by your showing mercy to delinquents. When you find one, do not let him go without his feeling the effect of your kindness; and if you see him fall a thousand times, love him always more than myself, that you may attract him to good, and never fail to be merciful to all such."
St. Francis de Sales had a heart so tender towards evildoers that he often said, "There is no one but God and myself who truly loves wicked men." He gave proof of extraordinary charity towards them by ascribing their misdeeds to human frailty.
25. Among all those who are included under the title of neighbor, there are none who deserve it more, in one sense, than those of our own household. They are nearest of all to us, living under the same roof and eating the same bread. Therefore they ought to be one of the principal objects of our love, and we should practice in regard to them all the acts of a true charity, which ought to be founded not upon flesh and blood, or upon their good qualities, but altogether upon God.----St. Francis de Sales
St. Vincent de Paul bore great love to all the members of his Congregation. He showed esteem and veneration for all, and welcomed them all with such tokens of affection that each felt sure of being tenderly loved by him. He provided for their needs with great solicitude, for he could not bear to see any of them suffer. He was often seen to rise from the table to set aside dishes for the lay-brothers, who came after the rest, and if it happened that the cook had nothing for anyone, or delayed in serving him, he would give him his own portion and constrain him to take it. He was most attentive in providing relief and comfort for the sick, often going himself to inquire into their condition and their needs; he advised the infirmarians to take all possible care of them, and the Superiors of houses to spare no fatigue or expense in providing for them. He tried to soothe their sufferings by special marks of love and attention, and offered his prayers to God on their behalf. If he perceived that anyone of them had a particular desire to speak to him, he left everything to listen to him and gave him all the time he needed. When he belonged to the king's council, the importance of the business there transacted prevented him from leaving it in the midst to go to them, so that he deferred this work of charity until the evening, after the general examen, and denied himself the necessary repose that he might not deprive them of this satisfaction. When he saw that anyone was troubled by interior trials or temptations, he made every effort to free or else to relieve him; and if anyone seemed hardened, he did his best to win him by gentleness and mildness, sometimes even throwing himself at the feet of such and begging them not to yield to their besetting sin. Prostrating himself once before one who was unwilling to yield, he said to him: "I will not rise from this spot till you have granted what I am asking for your good, nor am I willing that the devil should have more influence with you than myself."
St. Jane Frances de Chantal had great charity towards all her neighbors. Greater, however, more intense and more tender, was that which she bore to her Religious, and she strove to have them feel the same towards one another. In an exhortation which she made one day to lead them to this, she said: "Observe, that when Jesus Christ gave the commandment of fraternal charity to His Apostles, He did not speak in the same way of the love which they were to bear to all men and of that which they were to bear to one another. Speaking of the former, He said, 'Love your neighbors as yourselves'; but of the latter, 'Love one another as I have loved you, and as My Father loves Me'. Now, the love with which Jesus Christ has loved us, and still more, that love with which His Divine Father loves Him, is a disinterested love, a love of equality, a love of inseparable union; therefore, you ought to love one another with this love, to fulfill to perfection the Divine commandment."
She herself loved her daughters in this way, with a disinterested love, which had no advantage or pleasure of her own for its aim; with a love of equality, which made her equally affable and kind to all, accommodating herself to the feelings, desires, and inclinations of each, and making herself all things to all with admirable condescension, as far as she lawfully could; and finally, with a love of inseparable union, for no defect, imperfection, or bad quality of theirs could remove them a hair's breadth from her loving heart.
26. God sometimes gives a certain union of heart and tender love for our neighbor, which is one of the greatest and most excellent gifts that His Divine bounty bestows on man.----St. Francis de Sales
The Saint himself had received this beautiful gift. One day, conversing with a confidential friend, he spoke thus: "I think there is not a soul in the world that loves more cordially, more tenderly, or, so to speak, more amorously, than I, for so it has pleased God to form my heart."
St. Ambrose relates how this love was shown by a holy contention which took place between St. Theodora the Virgin and a soldier. The Saint was put in a position of great danger on account of her faith in Christ, when the soldier came to her and begged her to change clothes with him, that she might escape and save her honor. This she did; but when the holy virgin saw her preserver led to Martyrdom, she could not endure the thought that her rescue should cost him his life, and publicly exclaimed that it was she who had been condemned, not the one in custody, who was in reality not a woman, but a man. The soldier, on the contrary, asserted that the judge had not condemned her to death. This friendly struggle to save each other from death ended in both receiving the grace of Martyrdom.
27. It is not enough to have love for our neighbor----we should notice of what sort it is, and whether it is true. If we love our neighbor because he does us good, that is, because he loves us, and brings us some advantage, honor, or pleasure, that is what we call a love of complacency, and is common to us with the animals. If we love him for any good that we see in him, that is, on account of beauty, style, amiability or attractiveness, this is love of friendship, which we share with the heathens. Therefore, neither of these is a true love, and they are of no merit, because purely natural and of short duration, being founded upon motives which often cease to exist. In fact, if we love anyone because he is virtuous, or handsome, or our friend, what will become of this love if he should cease to be virtuous, or handsome, or to love us, or, still worse, if he should become our enemy? When the foundation upon which our love rested, sinks, how can it support itself! The true love which alone is meritorious and lasting is that which arises from the charity which leads us to love our neighbor in God and for God; that is, because it pleases God, or because he is dear to God, or because God dwells in him, or that it may be so. There is, however, no harm in loving him also for any honorable reason, provided that we love him more for God's sake than for any other cause. Yet the less mixture our love has of other motives, the purer and more perfect it will be. Nor does this hinder us from loving some, such as our parents and benefactors, or the virtuous, more than others, when such preference does not arise from the greater good they do to us, but from the greater resemblance they have to God, or because God wills it. Dh how rare is the love of this sort, which deserves to be called true love! Nolite amare secundum camem, sed secundum spiritum sanctum----Love not according to the flesh, but according to the Holy Spirit.----St. Francis de Sales
For this reason, he entertained great love and universal respect for all his neighbors----because he saw God in them, and them in God; and this made him very exact in all the duties of courtesy, in which he was never known to fail towards anyone. He felt, indeed, great tenderness for his friends; but because he loved them with relation to God, he was always ready to deprive himself of them. Writing to the Superioress of a convent, he gave her this warning: "Hold the balance evenly among your daughters, that their natural gifts may not cause you to divide your affection and your good offices unjustly. How many persons are there exteriorly polished, who are very pleasing in the eyes of God? Beauty, grace, agreeable conversation and manners, suit the taste of those who still live according to their inclinations. Charity regards true virtues and beauty of soul, and diffuses itself over all without partiality."
St. Vincent de Paul made it one of his chief practices to regard God alone in all men, and to honor in them the divine perfections; and from this most pure sentiment there sprang up in his heart a respectful love for all, and especially for ecclesiastics, in whom he most clearly recognized the image of the power and holiness of the Creator. Therefore, he charged his missionaries to love and honor them all, and never to say anything but good of them, especially in preaching to the people. He provided for their needs with particular care, as he was unwilling to see the dignity of the priesthood lowered in their persons.
Among the acts of charity which St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi resolved to perform was this----that she would reverence and love creatures only because God loves them, and that she would rejoice in the love He bears them, and the perfections He communicates to them. At the point of death, she said that though she had borne great love to all her Sisters, she had loved them only in fulfillment of the precept of love left us by Jesus Christ, and because He had loved them so much, and that outside of this, she had never had the slightest attachment to any creature.
28. Ah! when shall we see ourselves steeped in sweetness and suavity towards our neighbors! When shall we see their souls in the sacred bosom of Jesus! Whoever looks upon his neighbor in any other position, runs a risk of loving him neither purely nor perseveringly, nor impartially; but in such a place, who would not love him? Who would not bear with him? Who would not be patient with his imperfections? Who would consider him an object of dislike? Now, our neighbor is truly there in the bosom and within the heart of the Divine Saviour. He is there as one most beloved and altogether amiable, so that the loving Lord dies from pure love of him.----St. Francis de Sales
This was the principal reason why this holy prelate was so mild, so tender, so respectful, so patient, to everyone----because he saw them all in the heart of Jesus. He manifested this one day when Monsignor di Bellei, his penitent, complained to him of the great respect he showed him. "What respect," he answered, "do you show Jesus Christ, whom I honor in your person?" It was one of the chief maxims of St. Vincent de Paul not to regard his neighbor according to exterior appearance, but as he was in the sight of God. "I must not regard," he said, "a poor peasant or country girl as to their exterior or their natural gifts, for often one can hardly recognize in them any resemblance to a rational creature, so rude and earthly are they! But when we look upon them with the eye of Faith, we shall find them so deeply graven on the heart of the Son of God, that He even gave His life for each of them. How desirable it is to view our neighbor in God Himself, that we may make the account of him which Christ our Lord made!"
29. When Raguel saw the young Tobias without knowing him, he exclaimed: "Oh how much this young man resembles my cousin!" And when he heard that he was the son of that cousin, he embraced him warmly, and gave him a thousand benedictions, weeping over him for love. Now, why was this? Not, certainly, on account of his good qualities, for he did not yet know what his disposition was; but because, as he said, "Thou art the son of an excellent man, and resemblest him greatly." See what love does, when it is true. If we loved God truly, we should do as much for all our neighbors, who are all sons of God, and resemble Him much.----St. Francis de Sales
This reflection made the Saint show great respect to all.
One day someone criticized him for showing too much honor to the servant of a nobleman, who had brought him a message. "I do not know how to make these distinctions," he answered. "All men bear the image and likeness of God, and that furnishes me with a sufficient motive for respecting them." When he met persons or even animals heavily loaded, he stood aside that they might pass more easily, and never permitted his servants to make them stop or go back, saying, "Are they not men like we? And do they not at this moment deserve more consideration than we?"
St. Mary Magdalen de' Pazzi often looked upon the image of God as seen in her Sisters, which excited in her heart great love for them; and when anyone of them seemed to her imperfect and unworthy, she thought perhaps she had some hidden gift which caused God to find pleasure in her.
A holy Religious once wrote this resolution: "I will love God for Himself, and for love of Him 1 will serve those who bear His image. I will give my heart to Him, and my hands to my neighbor, that he may be united to God."
The Venerable Maria Seraphina di Dio said of herself that she consoled herself under trials, in associating with her neighbors, by the thought that she was beholding in them the image of God, and that therefore she could not do less than treat them with benevolence and cordiality. When Theodosius was extremely provoked and resolved to punish severely the inhabitants of Antioch, who had insulted the statue he had raised to Flacilla, whom he had greatly loved for her rare virtues, St. Macedonius begged one of his courtiers to say these words to him in his name: "O Emperor, truly you would do right in punishing these insolent men, but I pray you, remember that they are the loving images of God; and if you dare to let loose your rage against the images of the Lord, you may draw down upon yourself His anger. For, if ill-treatment to the image of your dear consort displeased you so much, how can you suppose that God will not be equally displeased with what you may inflict upon His images, so dear to Him that to recast them He had not spared to shed all His blood?" These words, uttered with great simplicity and reported to the emperor, did much to pacify him.
30. Among the means best fitted to acquire and preserve union and charity with God and our neighbor, none can be found better and more efficacious than holy humility, in abasing ourselves beneath all, esteeming ourselves the least, the worst, and lowest of all, and thinking evil of no one. For, self-love and pride are what lead us to sustain our opinions against those of our neighbor, and thus cool the love we owe him.----St. Vincent de Paul
A Franciscan preacher once severely reproved in a sermon a vice of which a marquis present in the congregation was guilty. The latter went to the monk after the sermon, loaded him with insults, and ended by saying, "Do you know me?" "Yes," replied the Father, "and I consider it a great honor to be acquainted with such a nobleman, for me, whom am but a rustic by birth, and the humblest of men," adding other things in his own disparagement. The marquis was pacified by this reply, and went away with tears in his eyes and full of veneration for the priest.
The Abbot Motues removed to a cell in a place called Eradion. But being much troubled there by another monk and fearing that there could be no harmony between them, he returned to his former abode. The monks of Eradion grieved much at his departure, and after a while went after him, taking with them the one with whom there had been difficulty. When they came near the Abbot's cell, they took off their outer garments and left them in charge of this brother. Motues, on seeing the monks, welcomed them kindly and asked what had become of their cloaks. Hearing that they were near at hand, in the care of his former companion, he was much pleased, and instantly hastened out to meet him. Then, throwing himself at his feet, he asked his pardon and embraced him, and took him to his cell with the rest. He kept them all for three days and afterwards went back with them to Eradion.