“78. We give the name of Levites and priests to those who dedicate themselves totally to God, alike through the practice of the virtues and through contemplation. Those who do not have the strength to hunt down the passions may be called ‘the cattle of the Levites’ (Num. 3:41). They have a genuine and continuing thirst for holiness, and try to attain it so far as they can; but they frequently fail, hamstrung by sin. Yet we may expect that at the right moment God will grant the gift of dispassion to them as well, solely by virtue of His love; for ‘the Lord has heard the desire of the poor’ (Ps. 10:17. LXX).”St John of Karpathos, ‘For the Encouragement of the Monks in India who had Written to Him – One Hundred Texts’
She was beautiful, even most beautiful, as Richard of St. Victor asserts, and also St. George of Nicomedia, and St. Dionysius the Areopagite, who, as many believe, once had the happiness of enjoying the sight of her beauty, and said that if faith had not taught him that she was a creature, he should have adored her as God. And the Lord himself revealed to St. Bridget, that the beauty of his mother surpassed the beauty of all men and angels, allowing the saint to hear him say to Mary: “Thy beauty exceeds that of all the angels, and of all creatures.” She was most beautiful, I repeat, but without injury to those who looked upon her, for her beauty put to flight impure emotions, and suggested even pure thoughts, as St. Ambrose attests: So great grace had she, that she not only preserved her own virginity, but also conferred a remarkable gift of purity on those who beheld her.-St Alphonsus de Liguori, The Glories of Mary
Those who still fear the war against the passions and dread the assaults of invisible enemies must keep silent in their struggle for virtue they must not enter into disputes with their enemies but through prayer must entrust all anxiety about themselves to God. To them apply the words of Exodus: ‘The Lord will fight for you, and you must be silent’ (Exod. 14:14). Those, secondly, who have been released from the enemy’s attacks and who genuinely seek instruction in the ways of acquiring the virtues, need only to keep the ear of their mind open. To them Scripture says, ‘Hear Israel’ (Deut. 6:4). Thirdly, those who as a result of their purification ardently long for divine knowledge may commune with God freely. To them it will be said, ‘What is it that you are calling to Me?’ (Exod. 14:15. LXX). Thus, he who is commanded to keep silent because of his fear should seek refuge in God; he who is commanded to listen should be ready to obey the commandments; and he who pursues spiritual knowledge should call ceaselessly to God, beseeching Him for deliverance from evil and thanking Him for communion in His blessings.’[St Maximus the Confessor, ‘Two Hundred Texts on Theology and the Incarnate Dispensation of the Son of God’, no. 30]
I will look at just the first point, because I know I’m not one of those who have been released from the enemy’s attacks, so this is probably the most important for myself.
Many spiritual writers have written about how, in the battle against sin, we must not trust in ourselves at all but trust entirely in God, and never argue with the devils that are tempting us. In fact, some say that we fall precisely because we begin to trust in ourselves, and so God allows us to fall so that we will learn to distrust ourselves and trust in Him.
Through prayer we must entrust all anxiety about ourselves to God. The truth is that we are not strong enough in ourselves, but He is more than strong enough. It is absurdity for us to try to be self sufficient, self supporting, self made, when God desires to be our all. We should entrust all to Him, and let Him take care of us, especially in the spiritual battle.
We have to learn to let go. We have to learn how to fight by not fighting. We have to learn silence. We have to learn to trust in God alone, and not in our learning or our trusting or our virtue or our strength or our systems. Trust in God alone.
Saints are not people who have mastered themselves or their own lives, they are people who entrust all anxiety about themselves to God.
God bless you
The Logos destroys the tyranny of the evil one, who dominates us through deceit, by triumphantly using as a weapon against him the flesh defeated in Adam. In this way he shows that what was once captured and made subject to death now captures the captor: by a natural death it destroys the captor’s life and becomes a poison to him, making him vomit up all those he was able to swallow because he had the power of death. But to humankind it becomes life, like leaven in the dough impelling the whole of nature to rise like dough in the resurrection of life (cf 1 Cor. 5:6-7). It was to confer this life that the Logos who was God became man – a truly unheard of thing – and willingly accepted the death of the flesh.
-St Maximus the Confessor (On the Lord’s Prayer)
Happy Easter! CHRIST IS RISEN!
‘Love is a going forth of the soul, not a contract; it is not the result of a convention, and is not to be acquired by agreement; it is spontaneous in its impulses, and likens us to itself; also true love is its own satisfaction. Its recompense lies in the object of its love; for whatever be that which we seem to love, if our real object be something else, it is really that something which we love, and not that by which our heart strives to attain it.’
– St. Bernard (On the Love of God)
‘On a similar occasion she told me, “It fills me with joy to have been imperfect; today God has granted me great graces; it has been a profitable day indeed…”
‘When I asked how anyone could entertain such noble sentiments, she answered, “My little method consists in this–rejoicing always and continually smiling–in times of defeat as well as victory.”‘
-from My Sister, Saint Thérèse, by Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face (Celine Martin)
Happy Feast Day!
St Therese, pray for us
A Saint is a sinner who realises God’s love for them. I.e. God’s love becomes a reality for them and in them. It is made real in them. His love is their reality.
We are all loved by God, however bad we are, however religious we are, however successful we are, and even however “holy” we are. The only difference in the Saints, is that they realise how loved, how truly holy, every one of us is. They are enlightened by the truth of the gospel, and made radiant by that same truth living in them.
A Saint is not good in or of themselves. Their only goodness is the free love of God, moving through them like the wind. They hold no goodness of their own, but let His good gifts come via them. They are immersed in living waters, never stagnant.
The Saint is a sinner who is simply who they are. They are no one else and nothing more. They are this fully, because they are loved as this and loved into this, and so are this in perfect freedom.
The Saint is a sinner who stops trying. Stops trying to impress, to make their own way through life, to earn happiness or love. Even stops trying to achieve salvation. They abandon all this, because they know their Father will provide everything.
A Saint is a sinner who never stops trying. They never stop trying to please God, because they know His love, and know that He will give them the victory. They have no care to earn heaven, and for this very reason, have every desire to express it.
Ladies and gentlemen, stop wasting your lives and abandon yourselves completely to His merciful love! Are you unworthy? Are you too sinful? He died on a cross for love of you in your entirety, sin and all! Nothing is greater than His love for you. Nothing in heaven or on earth or under the earth can keep you from His love for you. What are you waiting for?!
God bless you
O Lady, Our Lord has become our brother and our Savior.
Like the flame in the burning bush, and the dew in the fleece: the Word of
God descends into thee forever.
The Holy Spirit hath made thee fruitful: the power of the Most High hath overshadowed thee.
Blessed be thy most pure conception: blessed be thy virginal bringing forth.
Blessed be the purity of thy body: blessed be the sweetness of the mercy of thy heart.
Glory be to the Father, etc.
-St. Bonaventure, Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Psalm 8