Ambrose of Milan: Holding Christ Fast in the Deep and Secret Places of Your Heart Thursday, Dec 13 2012 

ambrose_of_milanWhen you are in your room, then, at night, think always on Christ, and wait for his coming at every moment.

This is the person Christ has loved in loving you, the person he has chosen in choosing you. He enters by the open door; he has promised to come in, and he cannot deceive.

Embrace him, the one you have sought; turn to him, and be enlightened; hold him fast, ask him not to go in haste, beg him not to leave you.

The Word of God moves swiftly; he is not won by the lukewarm, nor held fast by the negligent.

Let your soul be attentive to his word; follow carefully the path God tells you to take, for he is swift in his passing.

What does his bride say? I sought him, and did not find him; I called him, and he did not hear me.

Do not imagine that you are displeasing to him although you have called him, asked him opened the door to him, and that this is the reason why he has gone so quickly; no, for he allows us to be constantly tested.

[…]But even if it seems to you that he has left you, go out and seek him once more.

Who but holy Church is to teach you how to hold Christ fast? Indeed, she has already taught you, if you only understood her words in Scripture:

How short a time it was when I left them before I found him whom my soul has loved. I held him fast, and I will not let him go.

How do we hold him fast? Not by restraining chains or knotted ropes but by bonds of love, by spiritual reins, by the longing of the soul.

If you also, like the bride, wish to hold him fast, seek him and be fearless of suffering. …

[…] Whoever seeks Christ in this way, and finds him, can say: I held him fast, and I will not let him go before I bring him into my mother’s house, into the room of her who conceived me.

What is this “house”, this “room”, but the deep and secret places of your heart?

Maintain this house, sweep out its secret recesses until it becomes immaculate and rises as a spiritual temple for a holy priesthood, firmly secured by Christ, the cornerstone, so that the Holy Spirit may dwell in it.

Whoever seeks Christ in this way, whoever prays to Christ in this way, is not abandoned by him; on the contrary, Christ comes again and again to visit such a person, for he is with us until the end of the world.

Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397): On Virginity (cap. 12, 68. 74-75; 13, 77-78), from the Office of Readings for the Memoria of St Lucy, December 13th @ Crossroads Initiative.

Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: “The Marriage of the Lamb has Come and His Bride has Prepared Herself” Wednesday, Aug 3 2011 

“The marriage of the Lamb has come and his Bride has prepared herself” (Rev 19:7).

St John saw “the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2 and 9ff.).

As Christ himself descended to earth from heaven, so too his Bride, the holy church, originated in heaven.

She is born of the grace of God, indeed descended with the Son of God himself; she is inextricably bound to him.

She is built of living stones; her cornerstone was laid when the Word of God assumed our human nature in the womb of the Virgin.

At that time there was woven between the soul of the divine Child and the soul of the Virgin Mother the bond of the most intimate unity which we call betrothal.

Hidden from the entire world, the heavenly Jerusalem had descended to earth.

From this first joining in betrothal, there had to be born all the living building blocks to be used for the mighty structure: each individual soul awakened to life through grace.

The Bridal Mother was to become the mother of all the redeemed.

Like a spore from which new cells stream continually, she was to build up the living city of God.

This hidden mystery was revealed to St John as he stood beneath the cross with the Virgin Mother and was given over to her as her son.

It was then that the church came into existence visibly; her hour had come, but not yet her perfection.

She lives, she is wedded to the Lamb, but the hour of the solemn marriage supper will only arrive when the dragon has been completely conquered and the last of the redeemed have fought their battle to the end.

Just as the Lamb had to be killed to be raised upon the throne of glory, so the path to glory leads through suffering and the cross for everyone chosen to attend the marriage supper of the Lamb.

All who want to be married to the Lamb must allow themselves to be fastened to the cross with him.

Everyone marked by the blood of the Lamb is called to this, and that means all the baptized. But not everyone understands the call and follows it.

There is a call to following more closely that resounds more urgently in the soul and demands a clear answer. This is the vocation to the religious life, and the answer is the religious vows.

They [those in religious life] want to belong pre-eminently to the Lamb for all eternity, to follow him wherever he goes, and to sing the song of the virgins that no one else can sing (Rev 14:1-5).

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein] (1891-1942): At the Foot of the Cross; Copyright ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included. Maintained by the Austrian Province of the Teresian Carmel

Bede the Venerable: The Saints will Behold the Clearness of the Essential Light Monday, Nov 1 2010 

This day we keep, with one great cry of joy, a feast in memory of all God’s holy children;

His children, whose presence is a gladness to heaven;

His children, whose prayers are a blessing to earth;

His children, whose victories are the crown of the Holy Church;

His chosen, whose testifying is the more glorious in honour, as the agony in which it was given was the sterner in intensity.

For, as the dreader grew the battle, so the grander grew the fighters.

And the triumph of martyrdom waxed the more incisive by the multiplicity of suffering.

And the heavier the torment, the heavier the prize.

And it is our Mother, the Catholic Church, spread far and wide throughout all this planet, has learned, in Christ Jesus her Head, not to fear shame, nor cross, nor death.

But she has waxed stronger and stronger, and – not by fighting, but by enduring – has breathed into all that noble band who have come up to the bitter starting-post that hope of conquest and glory which has warmed them manfully to accept the race.

In truth you are blessed, O my Mother the Church!

The blaze of God’s mercy beats full upon you.

Your adornment is the glorious blood of victorious Martyrs, and your raiment the virgin whiteness of untarnished orthodoxy. Your garlands lack neither roses nor lilies.

And now, dearly beloved brethren, let each one of us strive to gain the goodly crown of one sort or the other, either the glistening whiteness of purity, or the red dye of suffering.

In the army in heaven peace and war have both chaplets of their own, with which to crown Christ’s soldiers.

Moreover, the unutterable and boundless goodness of God has so arranged things that the time of working and wrestling should be made neither long nor everlasting.

Rather, it lasts for but for a moment, so that in this short and scanty life there is wrestling and working, but the crown and the prize is in a life which is eternal.

So the work is soon over, but the wage is paid for ever.

And when the night of this world is over, the Saints will behold the clearness of the essential light, and to receive a blessedness outweighing the pangs of any torment.

To this Apostle Paul testifies when he says The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18).

The Venerable Bede (672/4-735): Sermon 18 “on the Saints”, from Mattins of the Feast of All Saints in the Old Breviary.

 

R. Garrigou-Lagrange: Gifts of the Holy Spirit (4) – Fortitude Tuesday, Aug 10 2010 

Above the gift of knowledge, according to the enumeration of Isaias, comes the gift of fortitude.

Why does the prophet place fortitude above knowledge? Because to be able to discern good and evil is not sufficient.

We need strength to avoid the one and practice the other perseveringly without ever becoming discouraged.

We must undertake a war against the flesh, the spirit of the world, and the spirit of evil, which is at times exceedingly afflictive.

We have powerful, subtle, perfidious enemies. Shall we let ourselves be intimidated by certain worldly smiles, by a thoughtless speech?

If we yield on this point, we shall fall into the snares of him who wishes our damnation and who struggles so much the more desperately against us as our vocation is higher.

The gift of fortitude strengthens our courage in danger, and comes to the help of our patience in long trials.

It is this gift that sustained the martyrs, that gave invincible constancy to children, to Christian virgins, like Agnes and Cecilia, to St. Joan of Arc in her prison and on her pyre.

It corresponds, says St. Augustine, to the beatitude of those who hunger and thirst after justice in spite of all contradictions, of those who preserve a holy enthusiasm that is not only sensible, but spiritual and supernatural, even in the midst of persecution.

It gave the martyrs of the early Church a holy joy in their torments.

R. Garrigou-Lagrange OP (1877-1964): The Three Ages of the Interior Life.