Louis de Montfort: If Any of the Faithful Have Jesus Formed in Their Heart… Saturday, Jul 30 2011 

Jesus is still as much as ever the fruit of Mary, as heaven and earth repeat thousands of times a day: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”

It is therefore certain that Jesus is the fruit and gift of Mary for every single man who possesses him, just as truly as he is for all mankind.

Consequently, if any of the faithful have Jesus formed in their heart they can boldly say, “It is thanks to Mary that what I possess is Jesus her fruit, and without her I would not have him.”

We can attribute more truly to her what Saint Paul said of himself, “I am in labour again with all the children of God until Jesus Christ, my Son, is formed in them to the fullness of his age.”

God the Holy Spirit wishes to fashion his chosen ones in and through Mary. He tells her, “My well-beloved, my spouse, let all your virtues take root in my chosen ones that they may grow from strength to strength and from grace to grace.

“When you were living on earth, practising the most sublime virtues, I was so pleased with you that I still desire to find you on earth without your ceasing to be in heaven.

“Reproduce yourself then in my chosen ones, so that I may have the joy of seeing in them the roots of your invincible faith, profound humility, total mortification, sublime prayer, ardent charity, your firm hope and all your virtues.

“You are always my spouse, as faithful, pure, and fruitful as ever. May your faith give me believers; your purity, virgins; your fruitfulness, elect and living temples.”

When Mary has taken root in a soul she produces in it wonders of grace which only she can produce; for she alone is the fruitful virgin who never had and never will have her equal in purity and fruitfulness.

[…] When the Holy Spirit, her spouse, finds Mary in a soul, he hastens there and enters fully into it. He gives himself generously to that soul according to the place it has given to his spouse.

One of the main reasons why the Holy Spirit does not work striking wonders in souls is that he fails to find in them a sufficiently close union with his faithful and inseparable spouse.

I say “inseparable spouse”, for from the moment the substantial love of the Father and the Son espoused Mary to form Jesus, the head of the elect, and Jesus in the elect, he has never disowned her, for she has always been faithful and fruitful.

Louis de Montfort (1673-1716): True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 33-36.

Francis de Sales: The Grace of Holy Love Dilates Itself by Continual Increase in Our Souls Thursday, Jun 2 2011 

Our Saviour draws hearts by the delights that he gives them, which make them find heavenly doctrine sweet and agreeable.

At first this sweetness has engaged and fastened the will by its beloved bonds to draw it to the perfect acquiescence and consent of faith.

But, just as God does not fail to exercise his greatness upon us by his holy inspirations, so does not our enemy cease to practise his malice by temptations.

And meantime we remain in full liberty, to consent to the divine drawings or to reject them.

[…]  But if we do not repulse the grace of holy love, it dilates itself by continual increase in our souls, until they are entirely converted; like great rivers, which finding open plains spread themselves, and ever take up more space.

If the inspiration, having drawn us to faith, find no resistance in us, it draws us also to penitence and charity.

S. Peter…raised by the inspiration which came from the eyes of his master, freely allows himself to be moved and carried by this gentle wind of the Holy Ghost.

He looks upon those life-giving eyes which had excited him. He reads as in the book of life the sweet invitation to pardon which the divine clemency offers him.

He draws from it a just motive of hope. He goes out of the court, considers the horror of his sin, and detests it.

He weeps, he sobs, he prostrates his miserable heart before his Saviour’s mercy, craves pardon for his faults, makes a resolution of inviolable loyalty.

And, by this progress of movements, practised by the help of grace which continually conducts, assists, and helps him, he comes at length to the holy remission of his sins, and passes so from grace to grace.

[…] So also the divine inspiration comes to us, moving our wills to sacred love.

And if we do not repulse it, it goes with us and keeps near us, to incite us and ever push us further forwards.

And if we do not abandon it, it does not abandon us, till such time as it has brought us to the haven of most holy charity, performing for us the three good offices which the great angel Raphael fulfilled for his dear Tobias:

For it guides us through all our journey of holy penitence, it preserves us from dangers and from the assaults of the devil, and it consoles, animates, and fortifies us in our difficulties.

Francis de Sales (1567-1622): Treatise on the Love of God, 2,21.

Francis de Sales: Hearing the Word of God with Open and Attentive Hearts Tuesday, Apr 12 2011 

If we remain attentive to the truth of the mysteries which Our Lord teaches us in prayer, how happy we will be!

When we see Him dying upon the Cross for us, what does He not teach us?

“I have died for you,” He says, this Sovereign Lover; “what does My death require but that, as I have died for you, you also should die for Me, or at least live only for Me?” (2 Cor. 5. 14-15).

Oh, how powerfully this truth moves our will to love dearly Him who is so lovable and so worthy of our love!

Truth is the object of the understanding, and love that of the will.

As soon as our understanding learns the truth that Our Lord died for love us, ah, our will is immediately inflamed, conceiving great affection and desire to return this love as much as possible.

These affections make us burn with the desire to please this Sacred Lover so much that nothing is too difficult to do our to suffer; nothing seems impossible….

That is good. Persevere in that truth and all will be well. But we do not!

From this truth, which we have learned in prayer, we turn to vanity in action.

We are angels in prayer and often devils in conversation and action, offending this same God whom we have recognized as being so lovable and so worthy of being obeyed.

We will certainly deserve great punishment if, having known that we are so dearly loved by our good Saviour, we nevertheless are so ungrateful as not to love Him with all heart and power, nor follow with all our strength and all our care the examples He has given us in His life, passion and death.

[…] To avoid such a predicament, my dear souls, we must know how we are to hear and accept God’s word.

We must prepare to ourselves to hear it with the attention it deserves, not as if it were just any other word.

With our hearts thus opened before God, and with the good disposition to profit from what He will say to us, let us remain attentive.

Remember, it is His Majesty who speaks to us and makes known His will.

Thus, with a spirit of devotion and attention, let us hear the truths which the preacher proposes to us.

In obedience let us submit ourselves to the things that are taught us concerning God’s will for our perfection and spiritual advancement.

Let us listen to them and read them with the determination to profit from them.

Francis de Sales (1567-1622): From a Sermon given on Passion Sunday, 1622, (abridged from The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent. Ed. Fr. Lewis S. Fiorelli, O.S.F.S. Trans. the Nuns of the Visitation. TAN Books, Rockford, Ill 1987)

Francis de Sales: Perseverance Springs from God’s Mercy, His Most Precious Gift Saturday, Mar 26 2011 

Perseverance is the most desirable gift we can hope for in this life, and the one which…we cannot have but from the hand of God, who alone can assure him that stands, and help him up that falls.

Therefore we must incessantly demand it, making use of the means which Our Saviour has taught us to the obtaining of it: prayer, fasting, alms-deeds, frequenting the sacraments, intercourse with the good, the hearing and reading of holy words.

Now since the gift of prayer and devotion is liberally granted to all those who sincerely will to consent to divine inspirations, it is consequently in our power to persevere.

Not of course that I mean to say that our perseverance has its origin from our power, for on the contrary I know it springs from God’s mercy, whose most precious gift it is.

I mean that though it does not come from our power, yet it comes within our power, by means of our will, which we cannot deny to be in our power.

For though God’s grace is necessary for us, to will to persevere, yet is this will in our power, because heavenly grace is never wanting to our will, and our will is not wanting to our power.

And indeed according to the great S. Bernard’s opinion, we may all truly say with the Apostle that:

Neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus Our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).

Yes, indeed, for no creature can take us away by force from this holy love; we only can forsake and abandon it by our own will, except for which there is nothing to be feared in this matter.

So…we ought to place our whole hope in God, who will perfect the work of our salvation which he has begun in us, if we be not wanting to his grace.

For we are not to think that he who said to the paralytic: Go, and do not will to sin again gave him not also power to avoid that willing which he forbade him.

And surely he would never exhort the faithful to persevere, if he were not ready to furnish them with the power.

[…] We must often then with the great King demand of God the heavenly gift of perseverance, and hope that he will grant it us:

Cast me not off in the time of old age; when my strength shall fail, do not thou forsake me (Ps. 70:9).

Francis de Sales (1567-1622): Treatise on the Love of God, 3,4.

Francis de Sales: “Ascending by Steps from Virtue to Virtue” Tuesday, Jan 18 2011 

The friends of God, proceeding from virtue to virtue, are day by day renewed.

That is, they increase by good works in the justice which they have received by God’s grace, and are more and more justified, according to those heavenly admonitions.

[…] And to remain at a standstill is impossible; he that gains not, loses in this traffic; he that ascends not, descends upon this ladder; he that vanquishes not in this battle, is vanquished.

We live amidst the dangers of the wars which our enemies wage against us, if we resist not we perish; and we cannot resist unless we overcome, nor overcome without triumph.

For as the glorious S. Bernard says: “It is written in particular of man that he never continues in the same state; he necessarily either goes forward or returns backward.

All run indeed but one obtains the prize, so run that you may obtain (1 Cor. 9:24).

“Who is the prize but Jesus Christ? And how can you take hold on him if you follow him not?

“But if you follow him you will march and run continually, for he never stayed, but continued his course of love and obedience until death and the death of the cross.”

Go then, says S. Bernard; go, I say with him…and admit no other bounds than those of life, and as long as it remains run after this Saviour.

But run ardently and swiftly: for what better will you be for following him, if you be not so happy as to take hold of him!

[…] True virtue has no limits, it goes ever further; but especially holy charity, which is the virtue of virtues, and which, having an infinite object, would be capable of becoming infinite if it could meet with a heart capable of infinity.

[…] The heart which could love God with a love equal to the divine goodness would have a will infinitely good, which cannot be but in God.

Charity then in us may be perfected up to the infinite, but exclusively; that is, charity may become more and more, and ever more, excellent, yet never infinite.

The Holy Ghost may elevate our hearts, and apply them to what supernatural actions it may please him, so they be not infinite.

[…] Meanwhile it is an extreme honour to our souls that they may still grow more and more in the love of their God, as long as they shall live in this failing life: Ascending by steps from virtue to virtue (Ps. 83:6).

Francis de Sales (1567-1622): Treatise on the Love of God, 3,1.

Francis de Sales: Charity Gives Life To Our Hearts Wednesday, Sep 1 2010 

Behold…how God, by a progress full of ineffable sweetness, conducts the soul which he makes leave the Egypt of sin, from love to love, as from mansion to mansion, till he has made her enter into the land of promise.

By this I mean into most holy charity, which, to say it in one word, is a friendship, and a disinterested love, for by charity we love God for his own sake, by reason of his most sovereignly amiable goodness.

But this friendship is a true friendship, being reciprocal, for God has loved eternally all who have loved him, do, or shall love him temporally.

[…] He ceases not to do us good, or to give all sorts of testimonies of his most holy affection, having openly revealed unto us all his secrets, as to his confidential friends.

And to crown his holy loving intercourse with us, he has made himself our proper food in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

And as for us, we have freedom to treat with him at all times when we please in holy prayer, having our whole life, movement and being not only with him, but in him and by him.

[…] Charity loves God by a certain esteem and preference of his goodness so high and elevated above all other esteems, that other loves either are not true loves in comparison of this, or if they be true loves, this love is infinitely more than love….

It is not a love which the force of nature either angelic or human can produce, but the Holy Ghost gives it and pours it abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

And as our souls which give life to our bodies, have not their origin from the body but are put in them by the natural providence of God, so charity which gives life to our hearts has not her origin from our hearts, but is poured into them as a heavenly liquor by the supernatural providence of his divine Majesty.

[…] Together with faith and hope, charity makes its abode in the point and summit of the spirit, and, as a queen of majesty, is seated in the will as on her throne, whence she conveys into the soul her delights and sweetnesses, making her thereby all fair, agreeable and amiable to the divine goodness.

So that if the soul be a kingdom of which the Holy Ghost is king, charity is the queen set at his right hand in gilded clothing surrounded with variety (Ps. 44:10)….

And if the soul with the body be a little world, charity is the sun which beautifies all, heats all, and vivifies all.

Francis de Sales (1567-1622): Treatise on the Love of God, 2, 22.

Rose of Lima: We Must Heap Trouble upon Trouble to Attain a Deep Participation in the Divine Nature Monday, Aug 23 2010 

Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty:

“Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace.

Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived.

This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven”.

When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status:

“Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions.

We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul”.

That same force strongly urged me to proclaim the beauty of divine grace. It pressed me so that my breath came slow and forced me to sweat and pant.

I felt as if my soul could no longer be kept in the prison of the body, but that it had burst its chains and was free and alone and was going very swiftly through the whole world saying:

“If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights!

“Without doubt they would devote all their care and concern to winning for themselves pains and afflictions.

“All men throughout the world would seek trouble, infirmities and torments, instead of good fortune, in order to attain the unfathomable treasure of grace. This is the reward and the final gain of patience.

“No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to men”.

Rose of Lima (1586-1617): Ad medicum Castillo, from the Office of Readings for August 23.

Francis de Sales: This Height of Burning and Re-Uniting the Heart to God Monday, May 3 2010 

We must not therefore think it strange if penitence, according to the Holy Scripture, blots out sin, saves the soul, makes her grateful to God and justifies her, which are effects appertaining to love, and which apparently should only be attributed to love.

For though love itself be not always found in perfect penitence, yet its virtue and properties are always there, having flowed into it by the motive of love whence it springs.

[…] The Holy Ghost casts into our understanding the consideration of the greatness of our sins, in that by them we have offended so sovereign a goodness.

At the same time, our will receives the reflection of this knowledge, and, little by little, repentance grows stronger, with a certain affective heat and desire to return into grace with God.

Finally it grows so strong that…it burns and unites even before the love be fully formed, though love, as a sacred fire, is always at once lighted, at this point.

So that repentance never comes to this height of burning and re-uniting the heart to God, which is her utmost perfection, without finding herself wholly converted into fire and flame of love.

The end of the one gives the other a beginning; or rather, the end of penitence is within the commencement of love.

[…] This loving repentance is ordinarily practised by elevations and raisings of the heart to God, like to those of the ancient penitents:

I am thine, save thou me.

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me: for my soul trusteth in thee!

Save me, O God; for the waters are come in even unto my soul!

Make me as one of thy hired servants!

O God be merciful to me a sinner!

Accordingly, it is not without reason that some have said, that prayer justifies.

For the repentant prayer, or the suppliant repentance, raising up the soul to God and re-uniting it to his goodness, without doubt obtains pardon in virtue of the holy love, which gives it the sacred movement.

And therefore we ought all to have very many such spontaneous prayers, made in the sense of a loving repentance and of sighs which seek our reconciliation with God.

For it is by these laying our tribulation before Our Saviour, we may pour out our souls before and within his pitiful heart, which will receive them to mercy.

Francis de Sales (1567-1622): Treatise on the Love of God, 2, 20.

Francis de Sales: Repentance and the Sacred Fire of God’s Love in the Heart Monday, Mar 29 2010 

Among the tribulations and remorse of a lively repentance God often puts in the bottom of our heart the sacred fire of his love.

This love is converted into the water of tears, which by a second change are converted into another and greater fire of love.

Thus, when the famous penitent lover first loved her Saviour, her love was converted into tears, and these tears into an excellent love.

Whence Our Saviour told her that many sins were pardoned her because she had loved much (Lk. 7:47).

And as we see fire turns wine into a certain water which is called almost everywhere aquavitæ (“the water of life”), which so easily takes and augments fire that in many places it is also termed ardent; so the amorous consideration of the Goodness which, while it ought to have been sovereignly loved, has been offended by sin, produces the water of holy penitence.

And from this water the fire of divine love issues, thence properly termed water of life or ardent.

Penitence is indeed a water in its substance, being a true displeasure, a real sorrow and repentance.

Yet is it ardent, in that it contains the virtue and properties of love, as arising from a motive of love, and by this property it gives the life of grace.

So that perfect penitence has two different effects; for in virtue of its sorrow and detestation it separates us from sin and the creature, to which delectation had attached us.

But in virtue of the motive of love, whence it takes its origin, it reconciles us and reunites us to our God, from whom we had separated ourselves by contempt.

So that it at once reclaims us from sin in quality of repentance, and reunites us to God in quality of love.

Francis de Sales (1567-1622): Treatise on the Love of God, 2, 20.

Jean-Pierre de Caussade: The Unction of the Name of God is Diffused by the Holy Spirit in the Centre of the Heart Tuesday, Mar 16 2010 

The state of abandonment is a certain mixture of faith, hope, and charity in one single act, which unites the soul to God and to His action.

United, these three virtues together form but one in a single act, the raising of the heart to God, and abandonment to His action.

[…] It is only by means of these three virtues that the possession and enjoyment of God and of His will can be attained.

This adorable object is seen, is loved, and all things are hoped for from it.

Either virtue can with equal justice be called pure love, pure hope, or pure faith, and if the state of which we are speaking is more frequently designated by the last name, it is not that the other theological virtues are excluded, but rather that they may be understood to subsist and to be practised in this state in obscurity.

There can be nothing more secure than this state in the things that are of God; nothing more disinterested than the character of the heart.

On the side of God is the absolute certitude of faith, and on that of the heart is the same certitude tempered with fear and hope.

O most desirable unity of the trinity of these holy virtues! Believe then, hope and love, but by a simple feeling which the Holy Spirit who is given you by God will produce in your soul.

It is there that the unction of the name of God is diffused by the Holy Spirit in the centre of the heart.

[…] This impress of the Holy Spirit in souls inflamed with His love, is called pure love on account of the torrent of delight overflowing every faculty, accompanied by a fulness of confidence and light.

But in souls that are plunged in bitterness it is called pure faith because the darkness and obscurity of night are without alleviation.

Pure love sees, feels, and believes. Pure faith believes without either seeing or feeling. In this is shown the difference between these two states, but this difference is only apparent, not real.

The appearances are dissimilar, but in reality as the state of pure faith is not lacking in charity, neither is the state of pure love lacking in faith nor in abandonment; the terms being applied according to which virtue prevails.

The different gradations of these virtues under the touch of the Holy Spirit form the variety of all supernatural and lofty states. And since God can rearrange them in an endless variety there is not a single soul that does not receive this priceless impress in a character suitable to it.

Jean Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751): Abandonment to Divine Providence, 2,1,3.

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