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Friday, December 1, 2023

Advice to a young person in doubt about the state of life she ought to embrace

(By St. Alphonsus de Liguori)

My Dear Sister In Jesus Christ: You are deliberating about the choice of a state of life. I see that you are agitated because the world wishes you to belong to itself, and to enter themarried state; and, on the other hand, Jesus Christ wishes you to give yourself to Him bybecoming a nun in some convent of exact observance.Remember that on the choice which you make your eternal salvation will depend. HenceI recommend you, as soon as you read this advice, to implore the Lord, every day, to give youlight and strength to embrace that state which will be most conducive to your salvation; that thusyou may not afterwards, when your error is irreparable, have to repent of the choice you havemade for your whole life, and for all eternity.Examine whether you will be more happy in having for your spouse a man of the world,or Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the King of heaven; see which of them appears to you thebetter spouse, and then make your choice. At the age of thirteen, the holy virgin St. Agnes was,on account of her extraordinary beauty, sought after by many. Among the rest, the son of theRoman Prefect asked her for his spouse; but looking at Jesus Christ, who wished her to belong toHim, she said. I have found a spouse better than you and all the monarchs of this world; thereforeI cannot exchange Him for any other. And rather than exchange him she was content to lose herlife, and cheerfully suffered martyrdom for Jesus Christ. The holy virgin Domitilla gave a similaranswer to the Count Aurelian; she, too, died a martyr, and was burned alive, because she wouldnot forsake Jesus Christ. Oh, how happy do these holy virgins now feel in heaven, how happywill they feel for all eternity, at having made so good a choice! The same happy lot awaits you,and wilt await all young persons who renounce the world in order to give themselves to JesusChrist.In the next place, examine the consequences of the state of the person who chooses theworld, and of the person who makes choice of Jesus Christ. The world offers earthly goods,riches, honors, amusements, and pleasures. On the other hand, Jesus Christ presents to youscourges, thorns, opprobrium, and crosses; for these were the goods, which He chose for Himself all the days of His mortal life. But then He offers you two immense advantages, which the worldcannot give peace of soul in this life, and paradise in the next.Moreover, before you decide on embracing any state, you must reflect that your soul isimmortal; that is, that after the present life, which will soon end, you must pass into eternity, inwhich you will receive that place of punishment or of reward which you will have merited byyour works during life. Thus you must remain for all eternity in the house either of eternal life orof eternal death, in which, after your departure from this world, it will be your lot first to dwell:you will be either forever saved and happy amid the joys of paradise, or forever lost and indespair in the torments of hell. In the mean time, consider that everything in this world mustsoon end. Happy all that are saved; miserable the soul that is damned. Keep always in mind thatgreat maxim of Jesus Christ: “What doth it profit a man if lie gain the whole world and suffer theloss of his own soul?” This maxim has sent so many from the world to shut themselves up in thecloister, or to live in the deserts; it has inspired so many young persons with courage to forsakethe world in order to give themselves to God and to die a holy death.On the other hand, consider the unhappy lot of so many ladies of fortune, so manyprincesses and queens, who in the world have been attended, praised, honored, and almostadored; but if they are damned, what do they now find in hell of so much riches, of so manypleasures, of so many honors enjoyed in this life, but pains and remorse of conscience, whichwill torment them forever, as long as God shall be God, without any hope of remedy for theireternal ruin.But let us now cast a glance at the goods which the world gives in this life to itsfollowers, and to the goods which God gives to her who loves Him and forsakes the world forHis sake. The world makes great promises; but do we not all see that the world is a traitor thatpromises what it never performs? But though it should fulfill all its promises what does it give?It gives earthly goods, but does it give the peace and the life of happiness which it promises? Allits goods delight the senses and the flesh, but do not content the heart and the soul. Our soulshave been created by God for the sole purpose of loving Him in this life, and of enjoying him inthe next. Hence all the goods of the earth, all its delights, and all its grandeurs are outside theheart; they enter not into the soul, which God only can content. Solomon has even called allworldly goods vanities and lies, which do not content but rather afflict the soul. “Vanity of vanities and affliction of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). This we know also from experience, for wesee that the more a person abounds in these goods, the greater her anguish and misery of mind. If by its goods the world gave content to the soul, great indeed should be the happiness of princesses and queens, who want neither amusements, nor comedies, nor festivities, norbanquets, nor splendid palaces, nor beautiful carriages, nor costly dresses, nor precious jewels,nor servants, nor ladies of honor to attend and pay homage to them. But no; they who imaginethem to be happy are deceived. Ask them whether they enjoy perfect peace, if they are perfectlycontent, and they will answer: What peace? What content? They will tell you that they lead a lifeof misery, and that they know not what peace is. The maltreatment which they receive from theirhusbands, the displeasure caused by their children, the wants of the house, the jealousies andfears to which they are subject. make them live in the midst of continual anguish and bitterness.Married women may be called martyrs of patience if they bear all with resignation; but unlessthey are patient and resigned, they will suffer a martyrdom in this world, and a more painfulmartyrdom in the next.The remorse of conscience, though they had nothing else to suffer, keeps married personsin continual torment. Being attached to earthly goods, they reflect but little on spiritual things; they seldom approach the sacraments, and seldom recommend themselves to God; and, beingdeprived of these helps to a good life, they will scarcely be able to live without sin, and withoutcontinual remorse of conscience. Behold, then, how all the joys promised by the world becometo married persons sources of bitterness, of fears, and of damnation. How many of them will say,unhappy me, what will become of me after so many sins, after the life which I led, at a distancefrom God, always going from bad to worse? I would wish for retirement in order to spend a littletime in mental prayer, but the affairs of the family and of the house, which is always inconfusion, do not permit this. I would wish to hear sermons, to go to confession, to communicateoften; I would wish to go often to the church, but my husband does not wish it. My unceasingoccupations, the care of children, the frequent visits of friends, keep me confined to the house;and thus it is not without some difficulty that I can hear Mass at a late hour on festivals. Howgreat was my folly in entering the married state, when I could become a saint in a convent! Butall these lamentations only serve to increase their pain; because they see that it is no longer intheir power to change the unhappy choice they have made of living in the world. And if their lifeis unhappy, their death will be much more miserable. At that awful hour they will be surroundedby servants, by their husbands, and children, bathed in tears; but instead of giving them relief, allthese will be to them an occasion of greater affliction. And thus afflicted, poor in merits, and fullof fears for their eternal salvation, they must go to present themselves to Jesus Christ to beudged by Him. But, on the other hand, how great will be the happiness which a nun who has leftthe world for Jesus Christ will enjoy, living among so many spouses of God, and in a solitarycell, at a distance from the turmoils of the world, and from the continual and proximate danger of losing God, to which seculars are exposed. How much greater will be her consolation at death,after having spent her years in meditations, mortification. and in so many spiritual exercises; invisits to the Holy Sacrament, in confessions, Communions, acts of humility, of hope, and love of Jesus Christ! And though the devil should endeavor to terrify her by the faults committed in heryounger days, her Spouse, for whom she has left the world, will console her; and thus, full of confidence, she will die in the embraces of her crucified Redeemer, who will conduct her toheaven, that there she may enjoy eternal happiness.Thus, my dear sister, since you must make choice of a state of life, make the choice nowwhich you shall wish at death to have made. At death, every one who sees that for her the worldis about to end says, Oh that I had led the life of a saint! Oh that I had left the world and givenmyself to God! But what is then done, is done, and nothing remains for her but to breathe forthher soul, and to go to hear from Jesus Christ the words, Come, blessed soul, and rejoice with mefor eternity; or, Begone forever to hell, at a distance from me. You, then, must choose the worldor Jesus Christ. If you choose the world, you will probably sooner or later repent of the choice;hence you ought to reflect well upon it. In the world the number of persons who are lost is verygreat; in religion, the number of those who are damned is very small. Recommend yourself toJesus crucified, and to most holy Mary, that they may make you choose the state which is mostconducive to your eternal salvation. If you wish to become a nun, resolve to become a saint; if you intend to lead a loose and imperfect life, like some religious, it is useless for you to enter aconvent; you should then only lead an unhappy life and die an unhappy death. But if you resolvenot to become a religious. I cannot advise you to enter the married state, for St. Paul does notcounsel that state to any one, except in case of necessity, which I hope does not exist for you. Atleast remain in your own house and endeavor to become a saint. I entreat you to say thefollowing prayer for nine days: My Lord Jesus Christ, who hast died for my salvation, I imploreThee, through the merits of Thy Passion, to give me light and strength to choose that state which is best for my salvation. And do thou. O my Mother Mary! Obtain this grace for me by thypowerful intercession.


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Answer to a young man who asks counsel on the choice of a state of life

(By St. Alphonsus de Liguori)

I read in your letter that some time ago you felt inspired by God to become a religious,and that afterwards many doubts arose in your mind, and especially this one, that, withoutbecoming a religious, you might sanctify yourself also in the world.I will answer your letter briefly, for, should you wish to read something more complete,you can read a little work of mine, which has already been printed, under the title “Counselsconcerning Religious Vocation,” in which I have treated this matter more fully. Here I will onlysay, briefly, that this point of the choice of a state of life is of the greatest importance, as upon itdepends our eternal salvation. He who chooses the state to which God calls him will save himself with facility: and for him who does not obey the divine call it will be difficult yes, morallyimpossible to save himself. The greatest number of those who are damned, are damned for nothaving corresponded to the call of God.In order, therefore, that you may be able to choose that state which will be the surest forattaining eternal salvation, consider that your soul is immortal, and that the only end for whichGod has placed you in this world was, not certainly that you may acquire money and honors onthis earth, and thus live a comfortable and delightful life, but that by holy virtues you may meriteternal life. “and the end life everlasting” (Romans 5:22). In the day of judgment it will avail younothing to have advanced your family, and to have made a figure in the world; it will only availyou to have served and loved Jesus Christ, who is to be your judge.You have a thought which tells you that you will also be able to sanctify yourself byremaining in the world. Yes, my dear sir, you will be able; but it is difficult, and if you are trulycalled by God to the religious state, and yet remain in the world, it is, as I have said above,morally impossible, because those helps will be denied you which God has prepared for you inreligion, and without them you will not save yourself. To sanctify yourself it is necessary for youto employ the means, such as, to avoid evil occasions, to remain detached from earthly goods, tolive a life recollected in God; and to maintain this, it is necessary to receive the sacramentsfrequently, to make your meditation, your spiritual reading, and to perform other devoutexercises every day, otherwise it is impossible to preserve the spirit of fervor. Now, it is difficult, not to say impossible, to practice all this in the midst of the noise and the disturbances of theworld; for family affairs, the necessities of the house, the complaints of parents, the quarrels andpersecutions with which the world is so full, will keep your mind so occupied by cares and fearsthat you will barely be able in the evening to recommend yourself to God, and even this will bedone with many distractions. You would wish to make your meditation, to read spiritual books,to receive Holy Communion often, to visit every day the Sacrament of the altar; but from all thisyou will be prevented by the affairs of the world, and the little you do will be imperfect, because it is done in the midst of a thousand distractions, and with coldness of heart. Your life will thenbe always unquiet, and your death more unquiet still. On one side, worldly friends will not fail toinspire you with a fear of embracing the religious life, as being a hard life and full of troubles.On the other, the world offers you amusements, money, and a contented life. Reflect well, and donot allow yourself to be led into error. Be persuaded that the world is a traitor that makespromises and does not care about the fulfillment of them. It offers you indeed all these earthlythings, but suppose it should give them to you, could it also give you peace of soul? No, Godonly can give true peace. The soul is created only for God, to love Him in this life and to enjoyHim in the next, and therefore God only can content it. All the pleasures and riches of the earthcannot give true peace; nay, those who in this life abound the most with such goods are the mosttroubled and afflicted, as Solomon confesses, who had them in abundance. “All,” says he, “isvanity, and affliction of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). If the world, with its goods, could make ushappy, the rich, the great, the monarchs, who are in no want of wealth, honors, and amusements,would be fully contented. But experience shows how it is with these mighty ones of the earth: thegreater they are, the greater are the vexations, fears, and afflictions they have to suffer. A poorCapuchin lay brother, who goes about girded with a cord over a sackcloth, who lives on beans,and sleeps in a small cell on a little straw, is more contented than a prince with all his gildedtrappings and riches, who has every day a sumptuous table, and who goes half sick to bed undera rich canopy, unable to sleep on account of the anguish which drives sleep away. He is a foolwho loves the world and not God, said St. Philip Neri; and if these worldlings live such anunquiet life, much more unquiet still will be their death, when the priest, at their side, willintimate to them that they are about to be chased away from this world, saying: “Depart hence,Christian soul, from this world. Embrace the crucifix, for this world is at an end for you.” Themisery is, that in the world they think little of God, and just as little of the next life, where theymust remain forever. All, or almost all, their thoughts are given to the things of this earth, andthis is the cause that their life is so unhappy, and their death still more.Nevertheless, that you may ascertain what state you ought to embrace, imagine yourself at the point of death, and choose that one which you would then wish to have chosen. Should youhave erred, by neglecting the divine call, in order to follow your own inclinations, and to livewith more liberty, there will then he no longer time to remedy the error. Consider that everythinghere below will come to an end. “The fashion of this world passeth away” (1 Corinthians 7:31).The scenes of this world must finish for each one of us. Everything passes, and death draws near;and at every step we take, we approach nearer to it, and, through death, nearer to eternity. Forthis we are born. “Man shall go into the house of his eternity” (Ecclesiastes 12:5). Death will beupon us when we least think of it. Alas! When death draws near, what will then appear all thegoods of this world, but the unreal pageantry of a theater, vanities, lies, and foolishness? Andwhat profit will it then be, as Jesus Christ warns us, “if we should have gained the whole worldand lost our souls”? (Matthew 16:26) It will help us only to die an unhappy death.

On the contrary, a young man who has left the world to give himself entirely to JesusChrist, how contented will he feel, as he passes his days in the solitude of his cell far from thetumult of the world and the dangers of losing God, which are in the world! In the monastery hewill not have the entertainments of music, theaters, and balls, but he will have God to consolehim and to make him enjoy peace. I mean all that peace, which is possible in this valley of tears,into which every one is sent to suffer, and to merit by his patience that full peace which isprepared for him in heaven. But in this life even, far from the pastimes of the world, one lovinglook cast from time to time on the crucifix, one “Deus meus, et omnia,” pronounced withaffection, one “my God” said with a sigh of love, will console him more than all the pastimesand feasts of the world, which leave only bitterness behind them.And if he lives content in such a life, more content will he be still at his death at havingchosen the religious state. How much will it then console him to have spent his life in prayer, inspiritual reading, in mortification, and in other exercises of devotion, especially if he has been inan Order employed in saving souls by preaching and hearing confessions, things which at hisdeath will all increase his confidence in Jesus Christ, who is truly grateful and liberal inrewarding those who have labored for His glory!But let us come to a conclusion with regard to your vocation. Since the Lord has calledyou to leave the world, and to be entirely His in religion, I tell you: Rejoice and tremble at thesame time. Rejoice, on the one hand, and always thank the Lord, because to be called by God toa perfect life is a grace which he does not give to all: “He hath not done in like manner to everynation” (Psalms 147:20). On the other hand, tremble, because if you do not follow the divinecall, you will put your eternal salvation in great danger. It is not my intention here to relate toyou the many examples of young men who, because they made no account of their vocation,have lived a miserable life and died a horrible death. Hold for certain that, as God has called you,you will never have peace, if you remain in the world, and at your death you will be veryunquiet, on account of the remorse that then will torment you, for having neglected to obey God,who had called you to the religious state.At the end of your letter you express a wish to learn from me whether, in case you shouldnot have the courage to enter religion, it would be better to marry, as your parents wish, or tobecome a secular priest.I answer: The married state I cannot recommend to you, because St. Paul does notcounsel it to any one, except there be a necessity for it, arising out of habitual incontinence,which necessity, I hold for certain, does not exist in your case.With regard, then, to the state of a secular priest, take notice that a secular priest has onhim all the obligations of a priest, and all the distractions and dangers of a layman; for, living inthe midst of the world, he cannot avoid the troubles which arise from his own household andfrom his parents, and cannot he free from the dangers to which his soul is exposed. He will havetemptations in his own house, being unable to exclude women from it, whether relatives orservants, nor prevent other strangers from coming to see them. You should then stay therealtogether retired in a separate room, and attend only to divine things. Now, this it is verydifficult to practice; and therefore small, and very small, is the number of those priests whoattend to their perfection in their own houses.On the contrary, entering a monastery of strict observance, you will be freed from thedisagreeable duty of thinking about your food and clothing, because there the Order provides youwith all, there you will not have your parents to come and continually trouble you with all thedisturbances that happen in their house; there no women enter to disturb your mind; and thus, far from the tumult of the world, you will have no one to hinder you in your prayers and yourrecollection.I have said a monastery of strict observance; because if you want to enter another, wherethey live more freely, it is better for you to stay at home and attend there to the salvation of yoursoul as well as you can; for entering an Order where the spirit is relaxed, you expose yourself tothe danger of being lost. Though you should enter with the resolution to attend to prayer and tothe things of God only, yet, carried along by the bad example of your companions, and seeingyourself derided and even persecuted, if you do not live as they do, you will leave off all yourdevotions, and do as the others do, as experience shows it to be commonly the case. But shouldGod give you the grace of vocation, be careful to preserve it, by recommending yourself often toJesus and Mary in holy prayer. I know that if you resolve to give yourself entirely to God, thedevil from that moment will increase his efforts to tempt you to fall into sin, and especially tomake you entirely His, and to remain His.I conclude by offering you the assurance of my respectful consideration; I pray the Lordto make you belong entirely to Himself, and remain, etc.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Entering the Monastery

Here some fragments of a interesting work of Saint Alfonso Maria de Liguori entitled “familiar speech  to a girl who is going to take the religious habit”. I suggest the reading of this speech to all the girls who are still looking for their vocation.

Devout damsel you must keep alive the memory of this lucky day in which you are going to marry Jesus Christ to thank him for this great favour. Don’t think that Jesus owes a debt of gratitude because you leave the world for you love him; but you should have eternal gratitude for the grace of being called to renounce the world. Today you renounce the world: do you believe to lose such a big thing? Earth of thorns, tears and sorrows. The world promises big things to his followers; pleasures, delights and peace: but all ands in deceptions, bitterness and vanities. The same wealth, honours, pleasures become pain and sorrow. Extrema gaudii luctus occupat. May the Lord have mercy on all those blinds who love the world and let their mourning not be an everlasting mourning; because in the world the danger to lose the soul Heaven and God are many, big and inevitable. Poor those girls who deceived by the false promises of the world, leave Jesus Christ and follow the world. They hope to find there pleasures and joy but, poor ones! I say, because they found nothing else than bitterness and thorns, as the experience shows. […] Ask, ask all the married women if one of them is happy. From my experience I say I never found happy one married woman but all of them unhappy and in troubles. But ask those nuns who renounced the world for God and you will see that they want nothing but God, ask if they are happy and they will answer that they always thank god who freed them from the world.[…] In short, if you would have remained in the world, do you think you could get a more powerful spouse than a knight or a noble or a monarch? But you are going to marry the King of Heaven and of all offer the reigns of the earth. How many holy virgins have renounced the weddings with the firsts lords of the earth to be brides of Jesus Christ! […] Leave my dear doughter, leave the young ladies who love the world, all the amusements, vanities, beautiful dresses, comedies, banquets and parties, enjoy Jesus Christ. He, in your cell will make you happier than any of those pleasures, luxuries and richness whom belong to the queens of the earth. There, in your solitary cell, you will enjoy Heaven and a continuous peace. If you love Jesus Christ, you will love the solitude of your cell. In it, your crucified Spouse will intimately speak to your heart; from his cross he will send to your mind, rays of light and burning arrows of holy love to your heart. And têt à têt in your cell with him, you will show him the love you bear him, you will unceasingly offer him yourself and all which belongs to you.You will ask him to grant you the graces you need .You will  tell him your anguishes, fears which make you suffer and He will console you. Do not doubt, the divine Spouse will always console you in life and much more at the hour of your death[…] I said that the women who gave themselves completely to the Lord, enjoy a continuous peace; I’m speaking of the peace which is possible to enjoy on earth, which is called Vale of tears. In Heaven God prepares for us the perfect and fully peace, deprived of any troubles are theubles. This world is for us place where we can earn merits, that’ s why place of sorrow trough which is possible to earn heavenly joys. And truly the Spouse this morning you are going to marry with, although the noblest, the richest, the most powerful you could chose, is called Spouse of blood[…]. He shed all his blood because of scourges, thorns and cloves, to save your soul and all the other souls. Here, now, the lover Jesus goes ahead and calls you to follow him as the bride does. Look at him how he appears: not crowned with flowers but thorn; not robbed with golden precious dresses but with blood and wounds: look at his regal throne where he lies, nothing more than a hard cross where he is on the point of death and where in deep sorrows and disgrace dies for love of you.[…] something else I ask you, when you will take the religious habit to renew every day the promise which you have done, to be faithful to Jesus Christ. Love and fidelity the previous qualities of a bride. For you will receive a ring, sign of fidelity to the love you have promised Jesus But to keep faithful do not trust yourself, your promise; you need to pray always Jesus and His Holy Mother to grant you the holy perseverance; trust with confidence in Mary’s intercession, as she is the Mother of Perseverance. And when you find yourself cool in the divine love and attract to love something else which is not God, remember this other warning: to avoid to fall in tepidity or love of earthly things, say to yourself: why did I renounce the world, my home, my family? Perhaps  to be damned? This thought used to strengthen Saint Bernard,  to take again the way of perfection, when he felt himself tepid. But now it’s time to stop speaking because it’s your Bridegroom who wants I stop. He is longing to see you entering his home. Here, look  his jubilant waiting, listen his loving call, so you can enter in His Royal Palace, which is this monastery. Go and enter joyfully  for your Bridegroom’s welcomes of this morning in receiving you in His home is like a deposit of the welcome at the hour of your death when he will receive you in his heavenly Reign.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Happiness of the Religious at Death

(By St. Alphonsus de Liguori)

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Apocalypse 14:13). And who are thoseblessed dead who die in the Lord, but the religious, who at the end of their lives are foundalready dead to the world, having already detached themselves by their holy vows from theworld and all its goods?Consider, my brother, how content you will feel if, following your vocation, it will beyour good fortune to die in the house of God. The devil will certainly represent to you that if youretire into the house of God you may perhaps afterwards repent of having left your own houseand your own country, and deprived your parents of the help that they might have expected fromyou. But say to yourself: Shall I at the point of death repent of having put my resolution intoexecution, or shall I be content? I beseech you therefore to imagine yourself now already at thepoint of death, about to appear before the tribunal of Jesus Christ. Reflect what then, reduced tothat state, you would wish to have done. Perhaps to have contented your parents, to have workedfor your own family and your country, and then to die surrounded by brothers and nephews andrelatives, after having lived in your own house, with the title of a pastor, of a canon, of a bishop,of a member of the cabinet, and after having done your own will? Or rather, to die in the houseof God, assisted by your good brethren in religion, who encourage you on the great passage toeternity, after having lived many years in religion, humbled, mortified, poor, far from parents,deprived of your own will, and under obedience, and detached from everything of the world, allthese things render death sweet and agreeable? “He who has been accustomed to deprive himself of the delights of the world will not regret doing so when he has to leave it,” says St. Bernard.Pope Honorius II, when dying, wished that he had remained in his monastery, occupied inwashing the plates, and had not been Pope. Philip II wished at his death that he had been a laybrother in some religious Order, intent on serving God, and had he not been a king. Philip III,also king of Spain, said when he was dying: “Oh, that I had been in a desert, there to serve God,and that I had never been a monarch, for had such been the case, I should now appear with moreconfidence before the tribunal of Jesus Christ.” 

When, then, hell tempts you about your vocation, think of the hour of death, and setbefore your eyes that all important moment “upon which eternity depends.” Thus you willovercome all temptations, you will be faithful to God, and certainly you will not repent of it atthe point of death, but will give thanks to the Lord, and die contented. Gerard, brother of St.Bernard, died singing, at the very thought of dying in the house of God.Father Suarez, of the Society of Jesus, felt at his death so great consolation and sweetnessat dying in religion, that he said: “I never thought it was so sweet to die.” Another goodreligious, of the same Society, when at the point of death, laughed; and being asked why helaughed, answered: “And why should I not laugh? Has not Jesus Christ himself promisedparadise to him who leaves everything for His sake? Was it not He who said: “Every one thathath left house, or brethren, or father, etc. shall receive a hundredfold, and shall possess lifeeverlasting”? (Matthew 19:29) I have left all for God; God is faithful; He cannot fail to fulfill Hispromises; and so he said: Why should I not rejoice and laugh, seeing myself assured of paradise?”A certain lay brother who died some years ago was asked at his death in which house hewould rather be. He answered: “I desire nothing but to die and to be united with God.”Father Januarius Sarnelli, a short time before his death, when conversing with God,uttered the following words: “O Lord, Thou knowest that all I have done, all I have thought, hasbeen for Thy glory; now I wish to go to see Thee face to face, if it please Thee so;” then he said:“Come, I will begin a sweet agony,” and began to converse affectionately with God; and shortlyafter placidly expired, preserving the smile on his lips, and the body began to give forth a sweetodor, which, as they attested, was perceived for several days in the room in which he had died.St. Bernard, speaking of the happy state of religious, had then good reason to exclaim: “Osecure life, in which death is expected without fear, aye, sweetly desired and devoutly accepted!”


O my Lord Jesus Christ, who, in order to obtain a happy death for me, hast chosen sobitter a death for Thyself; since Thou hast loved me to such an extent as to have chosen me tofollow more closely Thy holy life, to have me thus more intimately united with Thy loving heart,bind me, I beseech Thee, wholly to Thee with the sweet cords of Thy love, that I may no moreseparate myself from Thee. O my beloved Redeemer, I wish to be grateful to Thee, and tocorrespond with Thy grace, but I fear my weakness may render me unfaithful; O my Jesus, donot permit this. Let me die rather than abandon Thee, or forget the peculiar affection that Thouhast shown me. I love Thee, O my dear Saviour Thou art and shalt always be the only Lord of my heart and of my soul. I leave all and choose Thee alone for my treasure, O most pure Lambof God! O my most ardent lover. “My beloved is white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands”(Canticles 5:10). Begone, ye creatures! My only good is my God: He is my love, my all. I loveThee, O my Jesus, and in loving Thee I will spend the remainder of my life, be it short or be itlong. I embrace Thee, I press Thee to my heart, and I wish to die united with Thee. I wishnothing else. Make me to live always burning with Thy love, and when I shall have arrived at theend of my life, make me to expire in an ardent act of love towards Thee. Immaculate VirginMary, obtain thou this grace for me; I hope it from thee.


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Considerations for those who are called to the Religious State

(By St. Alphonsus de Liguori)

Consideration 1: How the Salvation of the Soul is secured by entering the Religious State.

To know how important is the eternal salvation of our soul, it suffices to have faith, andto consider that we have but one soul, and when that is lost, all is lost. “What doth it profit aman, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Thisgreat maxim of the Gospel has induced many youths either to shut themselves up in cloisters, orto live in deserts, or by martyrdom to give up their lives for Jesus Christ. For, said they, whatdoes it profit us to possess the whole world, and all the goods of this world, in this present life,which must soon finish, and then be damned and be miserable in that life to come, which willnever end? All those rich men, all those princes and emperors, who are now in hell, what havethey now of all that they enjoyed in this life, but a greater torment and a greater despair?Miserable beings, they lament now and say: “All those things are passed away like a shadow”(Wisdom 5:9). For them all is passed like a shadow, like a dream, and that lamentation which istheir lot has lasted already many years, and shall last throughout eternity. “The fashion of thisworld passeth away.” (1 Corinthians 7:31). This world is a scene that lasts but a short time;happy he that plays on this scene the part that will afterwards make him happy in the life thatshall never end! When he shall then be contented, honored, and a prince in paradise, so long asGod shall be God, little will he care for having been in this world poor, despised, and intribulation. For this end only has God placed us on this earth, and keeps us here in life, not toacquire transitory but eternal goods: “The end is life everlasting” (Romans 6:22).This is the sole end which all men that live in the world should have in view. But themisfortune is, that in the world one thinks little or nothing of everlasting life. In the midst of thedarkness of this Egypt the greatest number of men bestow all their care on acquiring honor andpleasures; and this is the reason why so many perish. “With desolation is all the land madedesolate, because there is none that considereth in the heart” (Jeremias 12:11). How few are theywho reflect on death, by which for us the scene is closed, on the eternity which awaits us, onwhat God has done for our sake! And thence it comes that these miserable beings live inblindness and at random, far from God, having their eyes, like the beasts, intent only on earthlythings, without remembering God, without desiring His love, and without a thought of eternity.Therefore they die afterwards an unhappy death, which will be the beginning of an eternal deathand an endless misery. Having at last arrived there, they will finally open their eyes, but it will beonly to lament for their own foolishness.This is the great means of salvation, which is found in religion, to wit, the continualmeditation on the eternal truths. “Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin”(Ecclesiasticus 7:40). In all well regulated religious houses this is done every day, and evenseveral times a day. And therefore in this light of divine things, which there shines continually, itis morally impossible to live, at least for a long time, far from God, and without keeping one'saccount ready for eternity.


O my God! How have I ever deserved this great mercy, that, having left so many othersto live in the midst of the world, Thou hast willed to call me, who have offended Thee more thanothers, and deserved, more than they, to be deprived of Thy divine light, to enjoy the honor of living as a friend in Thy own house! O Lord! Grant that I may understand this exceeding gracewhich Thou hast bestowed on me, that I may always thank Thee for it, as I purpose and hope todo always during my life and throughout eternity, and do not permit me to be ungrateful for it.Since Thou hast been so liberal towards me, and hast in Thy love preferred me to others, it is butust that more than others I should serve and love Thee. O my Jesus! Thou wouldst have me to bewholly Thine, and to Thee I give myself wholly. Accept me, and henceforward keep me as Thyown, since I am no more mine. Finish Thou the work which Thou hast begun. Thou hast calledme to Thy house, because Thou wilt have me become a saint. Make me, then, what Thou wilthave me. Do this, O eternal Father! For the love of Jesus Christ, in whom is all my confidence. Ilove Thee, my sovereign good, I love Thee. O infinite goodness. I love Thee only, and will loveThee forever. O Mary. my hope, come to my assistance, and obtain for me to be always faithfuland thankful to my Lord.


Friday, December 28, 2018

Can you help me?

Dear, questo blog riporta tradotti nella vostra lingua alcuni post del mio blog italiano sulla “Vocazione religiosa”. Se tra voi c'è qualcuno che comprende sufficientemente bene l'italiano ed è disposto a tradurre in inglese alcuni brevi post, è pregato di contattarmi all'indirizzo:

Grazie per la collaborazione!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

We ought to conform to the designs of God inthe choice of a State of Life, whatever it may be

(By St. Alphonsus de Liguori)

It is evident that our eternal salvation depends principally upon the choice of our state of life. Father Granada calls this choice the chief wheel of our whole life. Hence, as when in a clock the chief wheel is deranged the whole clock is also deranged, so, in the order of our salvation, if we make a mistake as to the state to which we are called, our whole life, as St. Gregory says, willbe an error.If, then, in the choice of a state of life we wish to secure our eternal salvation, we mustembrace that to which God calls us, in which alone God prepares for us the efficacious meansnecessary to our salvation. For, as St. Cyprian says: “The grace of the Holy Ghost is according tothe order of God, and not according to our own will”; and therefore St. Paul writes: “Every one hath his proper gift from God” (1 Corinthians 7:7). That is, as Cornelius à Lapide explains it,God gives to every one his vocation, and chooses the state in which He wishes him to be saved.This is the order of predestination described by the same apostle: “Whom he predestinated, themhe also called; and whom he called, them he also justified,... and them he also glorified”(Romans 8:30).We must remark that in the world this doctrine of vocation is not much studied by somepersons. They think it to be all the same, whether they live in the state to which God calls them,or in that which they choose of their own inclination, and therefore so many live a bad life anddamn themselves.But it is certain that this is the principal point with regard to the acquisition of eternal life.He who disturbs this order and breaks this chain of salvation will not be saved. With all hislabors and with all the good he may do, St. Augustine will tell him: “Thou runnest well, but outof the way;” that is, out of the way in which God has called you to walk for attaining tosalvation. The Lord does not accept the sacrifices offered up to him from our own inclination:“But to Cain and his offerings he had no respect” (Genesis 4:5). He even threatens with greatchastisements those who, when he calls them, turn their backs on him in order to follow thewhims of their own caprice. “Woe to you, apostate children,” he says through Isaias, “that youwould take counsel and not of me, and would begin a web and not by my spirit” (Isaias 30:1).


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dispositions required for Entering Religion

(By St. Alphonsus de Liguori)

He who feels himself to be called by God to an Order of exact observance (I say of exactobservance, for it would be better for him to remain in the world than to enter an Order which isrelaxed), should know that the end of every Order of exact observance is to follow as exactly aspossible the footsteps and examples of the most holy life of Jesus Christ, who led a life entirelydetached and mortified, full of suffering and contempt. He, then, who resolves to enter such anOrder must at the same time resolve to enter it for the sake of suffering and denying himself inall things, as Jesus Christ himself has declared to those who wish perfectly to follow him: “If anyman will come after me. Let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew16:24). He, then, who wishes to enter such an Order must firmly establish within himself thisresolution to suffer, and to suffer much, so that afterwards he may not give way to temptations,when, having entered, he shall feel depressed under the hardships and privations of the poor andmortified life which is there led.Many, on entering Communities of exact observance, take not the proper means of finding peace therein, and of becoming saints, because they place before their eyes only theadvantages of the Community life, such as the solitude, the quiet, the freedom from the troublescaused by relatives, from strife and other disagreeable matters, and from the cares consequent onbeing obliged to think of one's lodgings, food, and clothing. There is no doubt that every religious is only too much indebted to his Order, whichdelivers him from so many troubles, and thus procures for him so great a facility to serve Godperfectly in peace, continually furnishing him with so many means for the welfare of his soul, somany good examples from his companions, so much good advice from his Superiors, who watchfor his benefit, so many exercises conducive to eternal salvation. All this is true; but with all thishe must also, in order not to be deprived of so blessed a lot, resolve to embrace all the sufferingsthat he may, on the other hand, meet with in the Order; for if he does not embrace them withlove, he will never obtain that full peace which God gives to those who, overcome themselves:“To him that overcomes I will give the hidden manna” (Apocalypse 2:17). For the peace whichGod gives his faithful servants to taste is hidden, nor is it known by the men of the world, who,seeing their mortified life, know not how to envy them, but pity them and call them the unhappyones of this earth. But “they see the cross, the unction they do not see,” says St. Bernard. Theysee their mortification, but they do not see the contentment God gives them to enjoy.It is true that in the spiritual life one has to suffer, but, says St. Teresa, when one resolvesto suffer, the pain is gone. Nay, the pains themselves turn into joy. “My daughter,” so the Lordsaid one day to St. Bridget, “the treasure of my graces seems to be surrounded with thorns, butfor him who overcomes the first stings, all changes itself into sweetness.” And then thosedelights which God gives to his beloved souls to enjoy in their prayers, in their Communions, intheir solitude; those lights, those holy ardors and embraces, that quiet of conscience, that blessedhope of eternal life, who can ever understand them if he does not experience them? “One drop of the consolations of God,” said St. Teresa, “is worth more than all the consolations and thepleasures of the world.” Our most gracious God knows well how to give to him who sufferssomething for His sake, even in this valley of tears, the experience of the foretaste of the glory of the blessed; for in this is properly verified that which David says: “Thou who framest labor incommandment” (Psalm 63:20). In the spiritual life, God, announcing pains, tediousness, death,seems to frame labor, but, in fact, afterwards it is not so; for the spiritual life brings to them whoentirely give themselves to God that peace which, as St. Paul says, “surpasseth allunderstanding” (Philippians 4:7). It surpasses all the pleasures of the world and of worldlings.Hence we see a religious more content in a poor cell than all the monarchs in their royal palaces.“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is sweet” (Psalms 33:9).But, on the other hand, he must be persuaded that he who does not resolve to suffer andto overcome himself in the things contrary to his inclinations will never be able to enjoy this truepeace, though he should have already entered religion. “To him that overcometh I will give thehidden manna” (Apocalypse 2:17). It is, then, necessary that he who wishes to be admitted intoan Order of exact observance should enter with a mind determined to overcome himself ineverything, by expelling from his heart all inclinations and desires that are not from God, nor forGod, so that he must detach himself from all things, and especially from the four following: 1.From his comforts; 2. From his parents; 3. From his self esteem; 4. From his own will.

Section 1: Detachment from comforts

In religion, after the year of novitiate, one makes, besides the vows of chastity andobedience, also the vow of poverty, in consequence of which one can never possess anything asone's individual property, not even a pin, no rents, no money, nor other things. The Order willprovide him with all that he needs.

But the vow of poverty does not suffice to make one a true follower of Jesus Christ, if one does not afterwards embrace with joy of spirit all the inconveniences of poverty. “Notpoverty, but the love of poverty is a virtue”, says St. Bernard; and he means to say that for one tobecome a saint, it is not enough to be poor only, if one does not love also the inconveniences of poverty. “Oh, how many would wish to be poor and similar to Jesus Christ!” says Thomas aKempis; “they wish to be poor, but without any want,” but so that they be in want of nothing. Ina word, they would wish the honor and the reward of poverty, but not the inconveniences of poverty. It is easy to understand that in religion no one will seek for things that are superfluous,clothes of silk, costly food, furniture of value, and the like; but he may desire to have all thingsthat are necessary, and these he may be unable to procure. For then it is that he gives proof thathe truly loves poverty, when things that are needful, such as his necessary clothing, bedcovering,or food, happen to be wanting and yet he remains content and is not troubled. And what kind of poverty would that be to suffer, if he were never in want of anything necessary? Father BalthasarAlvarez says that in order truly to love poverty, we must also love the effects of poverty; that is,as he enumerates them, cold, hunger, thirst, and contempt.In religion, every one should not only be content with that which is given to him, withoutever asking for anything of which, through the neglect of the officials, he should be in want, thiswould be a great defect. but he should also prepare himself sometimes to bear the want even of those simple things that the Rule allows. For it may happen that sometimes he is in want of clothes, coverings, linen, or such like things, and then he has to be satisfied with the little that hasbeen given him, without complaining or being disquieted at seeing himself in want even of whatis necessary. He who has not this spirit, let him not think of entering religion, because this is asign that he is not called thereto, or that he has not the will to embrace the spirit of the Institute.He who goes to serve God in his house should consider that he is going not to be well treated forGod, but to suffer for God.

Section 2: Detachment from parents

He who wishes to enter religion must detach himself from his parents and forget themaltogether. For, in religious houses of exact observance, detachment from parents is put inpractice in the highest degree, in order perfectly to follow the doctrine of Jesus Christ, who said:“I came not to send peace, but the sword; I came to set a man at variance with his father. and thedaughter against her mother” (Matthew 10:34), and then added the reason: “A man's enemiesshall be they of his own household”. This is especially the case, as has been remarked above, inthis point of religious vocation: when there is question of any one leaving the world, there are noworse enemies than parents who, either through interest or passion, prefer to become enemies of God by turning their children away from their vocation rather than to give their consent to it. Oh,how many parents shall we see in the valley of Josaphat damned for having made their childrenor nephews lose their vocation: and how many youths shall we see damned who, in order toplease their parents and by not detaching themselves from them, have lost their vocation andafterwards their souls! Hence Jesus declares to us: “If any man hate not his father, etc., he cannotbe my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Let him, then, who wishes to enter a religious Order of perfectobservance, and to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ, resolve to forget his parents altogether.When any one has already entered religion, let him remember that he must practice thenthe same detachment from parents. Let him know that he cannot go to visit his parents in theirown house, except in the case of some dangerous illness of his father or mother, or of some other urgent necessity, though always with the permission of the Superior. Otherwise, to go to thehouse of one's parents without the most express permission, would be considered in religion as amost notable and scandalous fault. In religion it is also considered as a great defect even to ask permission or to show a desire of seeing parents or of speaking with them.St. Charles Borromeo said that when he visited the house of his parents he always, afterhis return, found himself less fervent in spirit. And thus let him who goes to the house of hisparents by his own will and not through a positive obedience to his Superiors, be persuaded thathe will leave it either under temptation or will be less fervent.St. Vincent of Paul could only be induced once to visit his country and his parents, andthis out of pure necessity; and he said that the love of home and country was a great impedimentto his spiritual progress. He said also that many on account of having visited their country, hadbecome so tender towards their relatives that they were like flies which, being once entangled ina cobweb, cannot extricate themselves from it. He added: “For that one time that I went,although it was for a short time only, and though I took care to prevent in my relatives everyhope of help from me, yet I felt at leaving them such a pain that I ceased not to weep all alongthe road, and was for three months harassed by the thought of coming to their aid. At last, God inhis mercy took that temptation from me”.Let him know, moreover, that no one may write to his parents without permission, andwithout showing the letter to the Superior. Otherwise, he would be guilty of a most grievous faultwhich is not to be tolerated in religion, and should be punished with severity; since from thismight come a thousand disorders tending to destroy the religious spirit. Let especially the newcomer know that during the novitiate this is observed with the greatest rigor; for novices duringtheir year of novitiate do not easily obtain permission to talk to their parents, or to write to them.Finally, let him know that, in case a subject should become sick, it would be a notabledefect to ask or to show an inclination to go to his own house for his restoration to health, underthe plea of being better taken care of, or of enjoying the benefit of his native air. The air of hisown country becomes almost always, or even always, hurtful and pestilential to the spirit of thesubject. And if he should ever say that he wishes to be cured at home in order not to subject theOrder to expenses for remedies, let him know that the Order has charity enough to take sufficientcare of the sick. As to the change of air, the Superiors will think of that; and if the air of onehouse is not beneficial to him, they will send him to another. And as for remedies, they will evensell the books, if need be, to provide for the sick. And so let him be sure that divine Providencewill not fail him. And if the Lord should decree against his recovery, he should conform himself to the will of God, without even mentioning the word “home.” The greatest grace that he whoenters an Order can desire is to die, when God wills it, in the house of God, assisted by thebrethren of his Order, and not in a secular house in the midst of his relatives.

Section 3: Detachment from self esteem

He must also be altogether detached from all self esteem. Many leave their country, theircomforts and parents, but carry with them a certain esteem for themselves; but this is the mosthurtful attachment of all. The greatest sacrifice that we can make to God is to give to him notonly goods, pleasures, and home, but ourselves also by leaving ourselves. This is that denying of self which Jesus Christ recommends above all to his followers. And for this self denial it isnecessary that every one should first place under foot all self esteem, by desiring and embracingevery imaginable contempt which he may meet with in religion, as, for instance, to see others whom perhaps he thinks less deserving preferred to himself, or to be considered unfit to beemployed, or only employed in lower and more laborious occupations. He should know that inthe house of God those charges are the highest and the most honorable which are imposed byobedience. God forbid that any one should seek for or aspire to any office or charge of preeminence! This would be a strange thing in religion, and he would be noted as proud andambitious, and as such be put in penance, and especially mortified in this point. Better would itbe, perhaps, that a religious Order should be destroyed than that there should enter into it thataccursed pest of ambition which, when it enters, disfigures the most exemplary Communities andthe most beautiful works of God.But he should feel even consoled in spirit when he sees himself mocked and despised byhis companions. I say consoled in spirit, for as to the flesh this will be impossible; nor need asubject be uneasy when he sees that he resents it: it is enough that the spirit embraces it, and thathe rejoices at it in the superior part of the soul.Thus also seeing himself continually reprimanded and mortified by all, not only bySuperiors, but also by equals and inferiors, he should heartily and with a tranquil mind thank those who thus reprimand him and have the charity to admonish him, answering that he will bemore attentive not to fall into that fault again. One of the greatest desires of the saints in thisworld was to be contemned for the love of Jesus Christ. This it is that St. John of the Cross askedfor, when Jesus Christ appeared to him with a cross on his shoulder and said, “John, ask from mewhat thou wishest,” and St. John answered, “O Lord, to suffer and to be despised for Thee.” TheDoctors teach, with St. Francis de Sales, that the highest degree of humility we can have is to bepleased with abjections and humiliations. And in this consists also one of the greatest merits thatwe can have with God. Some contempt or affront suffered in peace for the love of God is of greater value in his sight than a thousand disciplines and a thousand fasts.It is necessary to know that to suffer contempt either from Superiors or from companionsis a thing unavoidable even in the most holy Communities. Read the lives of the saints, and youwill see how many mortifications were encountered by St. Francis Regis, St. Francis of Jerome,Father Torres, and others. The Lord sometimes permits that, even between saints there shouldexist, though without their fault, certain natural antipathies, or at least a certain diversity of character between subjects of the greatest piety, which will cause them to suffer manycontradictions. At other times false reports will be spread and believed; God himself will permitthis, in order that the subjects may have occasion to exercise themselves in patience andhumility.In a word, he will gain little in religion and lose much who cannot quietly put up withcontempt and contradiction; and, therefore, he who enters religion to give himself entirely to Godshould be ashamed not to know how to bear contempt when he appears before Jesus Christ, whowas “filled with opprobriums” for love of us. Let every one be attentive to this, and resolve to bepleased in religion with all abjections, and to prepare himself to suffer many of them, for withoutthe least doubt he will have many to bear. Otherwise, the disquiet caused by contradictions andcontempt badly endured might trouble him so much as to make him lose his vocation, and drivehim out of religion. Oh, how many have lost their vocation on account of such impatience inhumiliations! But of what service to the Order or to God can he be who does not know how tobear contempt for His sake! And how can any one ever be said to be dead according to thatpromise which he made to Jesus Christ, on entering religion, to die to himself, if he remain aliveto resentment and disquiet when he sees himself humbled? Out of the Order with such subjects,so attached to their own esteem out with them! It is well for them to go as soon as possible, that they may not also infect the rest with their pride. In religion every one should be dead, andespecially to his own self esteem; otherwise it is better for them not to enter, or to depart again if they have already entered.

Section 4: Detachment from one's own will

He who enters into religion must altogether renounce his own will, consecrating itentirely to holy obedience. Of all things, this is the most necessary. What does it avail to leavecomforts, parents, and honors, if still one carries into religion one's own will? In this principallyconsists the denial of ourselves, the spiritual death, and the entire surrender of ourselves to JesusChrist. The gift of the heart, that is, of the will, is what pleases Him most, and what He wishesfrom the children of religion. Otherwise, if we do not entirely detach ourselves from our ownwill and renounce it in all, all mortifications, all meditations and prayers, and all other sacrificeswill be of little avail.It is, then, evident that this is the greatest merit that we can have before God, and this isthe sure and only way of pleasing God in all things, so that then we can each one of us say whatJesus our Saviour said. “I do always the things that please him” (John 8:29). Certainly he who inreligion lives without self will may say and hope that in all that he does he pleases God, whetherhe studies or prays or hears confession, whether he goes to the refectory or to recreation or torest; for in religion not a step is made, not a breath drawn, but in obedience to the Rule, or toSuperiors.The world does not know, and even certain persons given to spirituality have little ideaof, the great value of a Community life under obedience. It is true that outside of religiousCommunities there are to be found many persons who do much, and, may be, more than thosethat live under obedience; they preach, do penance, pray, and fast: but in all this they consultmore or less their own will. God grant that at the day of judgment they may not have to lament asthose mentioned in Scripture: “Why have we fasted, and Thou hast not regarded: why have wehumbled our souls, and Thou hast not taken notice? Behold, in the day of your fast your own willis found!” (Isaias 58:3) On which passage St. Bernard remarks: “Self will is a great evil, for it isthe cause that what is good in itself may be for you no good at all.”This is to be understood, when in all these exercises one seeks not God, but one's self. Onthe contrary, he who does all by obedience is sure that in all he pleases God. The VenerableMother Mary of Jesus said that she prized so much her vocation to religion principally for tworeasons: the first was that in the monastery she enjoyed always the presence and company of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; and the other was that there by obedience she entirely belongedto God, sacrificing to Him her own will.It is related by Father Rodriguez that after the death of Dositheus, the disciple of St.Dorotheus, the Lord revealed that in those five years he had lived under obedience, though byreason of his infirmities he could not practice the austerities of the other monks, yet by the virtueof obedience he had merited the reward of St. Paul the Hermit, and of St. Antony, Abbot.He, then, who wishes to enter religion must resolve to renounce altogether his own will,and to will only what holy obedience wills. God preserve any religious from ever letting fallfrom his mouth the words I will or I will not! But in all things, even when asked by Superiors,what he desires, he should only answer, I wish that which holy obedience wills. And, providedthere is no evident sin, he should in every command imposed on him obey blindly and withoutexamination; because the duty of examining and deciding the doubts belongs not to him, but to his Superiors. Otherwise, if in obeying he does not submit his own judgment to that of theSuperior, his obedience will be imperfect. St. Ignatius of Loyola said that prudence in things of obedience is not required in subjects, but in Superiors; and if there is prudence in obeying, it is toobey without prudence. St. Bernard says, “Perfect obedience is indiscreet”; and in another placehe said, “For a prudent novice to remain in the congregation is an impossible thing;” and addingthe reason for it, he said: “To judge belongs to the Superior, and to obey to the subject.”But to make progress in this virtue of obedience, on which all depends, he must alwayskeep his mind ready to do all that to which he feels the greatest repugnance, and on the contraryhe must be prepared to bear it quietly when he sees that all that he seeks or desires is refused tohim. It will happen that when he wishes to be in solitude, to apply himself to prayer or study, hewill be the most employed in exterior occupations. For, though it is true that in religion one leadsas much as possible a solitary life when at home, and that for this end there are many hours of silence, the retreat each year of ten days in perfect silence, and of one day each month, besidesthe fifteen days before the receiving of the habit, and one of fifteen before the profession, whenthe vows are made, nevertheless, if it is an Order of priests called to work and to be employed forthe salvation of souls, the subject, if he is continually employed in this by obedience, should becontent with the prayers and exercises of the Community. He must be prepared sometimes to goeven without these, when obedience will have him do so, without either excusing himself orbeing disquieted, being well persuaded of that of which St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi was soconfident when she said that: “All the things which are done through obedience are but so many prayers.”


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Communion in the hand

"Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand".

(Mother Teresa at St. Agnes Church, New York in 1989)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Gregorian Chants mp3 free download

The glorious and immortal gregorian chanting engenders great spiritual fruits. The religious people and the cantors defending and widespreading the gregorian songs do a great work for the benefit of the souls and therefore for the major glory of God. We must not allow that such a precious treasure transmitted by our ancestors will be lost.

You may find amatorial records of several gregorian songs sang by the Benedectines of Sao Paulo, Brazil. You can download the songs for free and you can also reproduce and forward them widely. Please, note that the server might be slow. About 40 songs have been uploaded in a zip file, which should be quicker. The chanting's quality is not professional, but the record will be useful to help become more familiar with the Gregorian tradition. I usually listen to these songs while I am doing spiritual readings or I am praying. Please, click here for download.

Monday, January 1, 2018

To sanctify my life to God

A young Italian woman wrote me a wonderful letter. She titled it: “To sanctify my life to God” and I would like you to read it in order to edify your spiritual life. Here is the translation:

Dear Brother,
                       this week I had wonderful news! In spiritual direction, my director has joyfully welcomed my insistence in wanting to consecrate my life to God. He had recommended me some “time for a proper discernment”. In these three months I have not missed a day of going to Mass and to pray fervently to understand what the Lord wants from me, so I could accomplish His will in the best way. It is now clear to me the awareness of having to be all His.

Jesus seduced me with his extraordinary beauty, and with the words that He gives me every day through Holy Mass, He has conquered in Communion, took possession of my heart and my soul. Day after day he is courting me in a thousand ways. Sometimes takes over my human frailty and my boundless misery. He tests my loyalty, but Satan tries in every way to sow doubt in me. It happens especially during the Eucharistic adoration, the moment you look forward, as a fiancée who wants to run and keep from falling in love with him. He tries to destroy me with the suspicion that they are my wishes, that I'm too stupid and weak to join and consecrate my life to Jesus. But the good Lord knows our hearts and our fragility and He doesn’t make us do more than we are capable of.

With His grace, I'll get, stronger than before and even more convinced. So I understand that the test is a great grace that God gives us, because, clenching his hand and through His strength, we come out stronger than before. I fall in love with Him every day. In the morning I feel as close as only a lover can be. He fills me with attention during the day. His tenderness comes over me whenever I think of him and say his sweet name. So, you might be wondering what this “good news” is. I told the spiritual director that I cannot stay long in the world, so called for the establishment of the new congregation, we were talking about. And he said that before the summer they will start to build the church in the center of [...] and the monastery will be built close by there. The Heavenly Mother will let him know how this congregation will be. I'm so happy not to stay longer in my skin; literally, at times my soul seems to soar toward the heavenly homeland. At the moment no one knows my vocation, but the director and the friend I was telling you about, she has also received the call to consecrated life.

My mother is going to suspect something, but I have not said a single word on the subject. A few mornings ago, she wondered what these "secrets" were that I have with Father A., given that for three months we talked more often. She asked me if I wanted to become a nun, and I suggested to her that she asks God. She is doing the same journey of faith I am, with the difference that she has always been close to God and thanks to her prayers, God attracted me to him. She also always wanted a son, a priest, so I expected a very different reaction. She said that I should not become a nun (when people say "become a nun or a monk," they say it contemptuously), that I must have a family, who are not apt to live “shut in” and that we can love God even in this way. I waited until she went away, to hide tears. I didn’t say a single word to her about the issue, but now I am concerned for that day when I will talk about this to my parents. My friends certainly will laugh in my face and turn their backs; my relatives won’t understand and will tease me. Perhaps Jesus wants it. I am a very sensitive person and I hate in having to feel pain at every little foolishness, but with Jesus I am ready to face all the foes. If He wants me as his spouse, no one in the world can oppose His will.
For me and this project of life, I ask you for lots of prayers. I will return it certainly.

Best wishes in Jesus and Mary
(Signed letter)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Trials which we must Expect to have in Religious Life

(By St. Alphonsus de Liguori)

When, then, any one has thus entered religion, however truly he may be called, andthough he may have conquered all his passions and his earthly affections, let him not imaginethat he will be exempt from other temptations and trials, which God himself will send him, suchas tediousness, darkness, various fears, in order to establish him more firmly in his vocation. Wemust remember that even the saints, who have loved their vocation the most, have sometimessuffered great darkness with regard to it, and that it seemed to them as if they were deceived andwould not be able to save themselves in that state. So it happened with St. Teresa. St. John of theCross, St. Frances de Chantal. But by recommending themselves to God, that darkness wasdissipated, and they recovered their peace of mind. Thus the Lord tries his most belovedchildren, as it was said to Tobias: “Because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary thattemptations should prove thee” (Tobias 12:13). And in the book of Deuteronomy: “The Lordyour God trieth you, that it may appear whether you love him or not” (Deuteronomy 13:3). Leteach one therefore prepare himself to suffer in religion this obscurity. It will sometimes appear tohim that he cannot bear the observances of the Order: that he will have no more peace of mind,or will not even be able to save himself. But most of all, every one must be on his guard whenthe temptation presents specious scruples or pretexts of greater spiritual good, in order to makehim abandon his vocation. The principal remedies in such temptations are two in number.

15First remedy: To have recourse to God.The first is to have recourse to prayer: “Go ye to him and be enlightened” (Psalms 33:6).For as it will not be possible for temptation to overcome him who has recourse to prayer, so hewho does not recommend himself to God will surely be overcome by it. And let it be remarked,that sometimes it will not suffice to have recourse to God once, or for a few days, to becomevictorious. Perhaps the Lord will permit the temptation to continue, even after we have prayedfor several weeks, months, and even years; but let us be assured that he who ceases not torecommend himself to God will certainly be enlightened and victorious, and thereafter he willhave more peace and be more firm in his vocation.Until we have gone through that storm, which for the most part comes over all, let noneof us think himself secure. Let it be remarked, however, that in this time of temptation we shouldnot expect to have fervor, and a clearness of reason sufficient to tranquillize ourselves; for in themidst of this darkness we see nothing but confusion. We have nothing then to do but to say to theLord: O Lord, help me! O Lord, help me! And also to have frequently recourse to the BlessedVirgin Mary, who is the Mother of perseverance, confiding in that divine promise: “Ask, and youshall receive” (John 16:24). And it is certain that he who with the help of divine grace isvictorious in such a combat finds afterwards a double calm and peace in his vocation.Second remedy: To have recourse to the Superiors.The second remedy, and a principal and necessary one in such temptations, is tocommunicate to the Superiors, or to the spiritual Father of the Community, the temptation thatafflicts you, and this at once, before the temptation becomes strong. St. Philip Neri said thatwhen a temptation is thus manifested it is half vanquished. On the contrary, there is in such acase no greater evil than to conceal the temptation from Superiors; for then, on the one hand,God withdraws his light because of the little fidelity shown by the subject in not disclosing it,and on the other, whilst the mine is not sprung, the temptation gains strength. Hence it may beheld for certain, that he will surely lose his vocation who, when he is tempted against it, does notdisclose his temptations.Let it be understood that in religion the most dangerous temptations that hell can bringagainst a subject are those against vocation, in which, if it should succeed and conquer, by thatone stroke it will have gained many victories; for when a subject has lost his vocation and leftreligion, what good will he further be able to do in the service of God? Though the enemy maymake him believe that out of religion he will have more peace and be able to do more good,nevertheless let him hold for certain, that as soon as he is out of it he will feel such a remorse inhis heart that he will never more have peace. And God grant that such a remorse may not tormenthim afterwards through all eternity in hell, in which, as has already been said, he who through hisown fault loses his vocation falls so very easily. He will be so lukewarm and discouraged indoing good, that he will not even have the courage to raise his eyes to heaven. It will be an easything for him to give up prayer altogether, because as often as he begins it he will feel a hell of remorse, hearing his conscience reproach him, and saying: What hast thou don't thou hastabandoned God; thou hast lost thy vocation, and for what? To follow thine own caprice, to pleasethy parents. Let him be certain that he will have to hear this reproach through his whole life, andstill more shall he hear it made to him in the hour of his death, when, in sight of eternity, insteadof dying in the house of God and in the midst of good brethren in religion, he will have to die outside of the Community, perhaps in his own house, in the midst of his relatives, to pleasewhom he has displeased God. Let religious always beseech God to let them die rather than topermit that greatest of disgraces, the greatness of which they will better understand at the hour of death and to their greater torment, because then there will be no more any remedy for their error.For him, then, who is tempted against his vocation this is the best meditation that he can make atthe time of the temptation, that is, namely, to reflect what torment the remorse of having lost hisvocation, and of having to die out of religion, through his own caprice, through his own fault,will cause him at the hour of death.ConclusionFinally, let him who wishes to enter religion not forget to resolve to become a saint, andto suffer every exterior and interior pain, in order to be faithful to God, and not to lose hisvocation. And if he be not resolved to do this, I exhort him not to deceive the Superiors andhimself, and not to enter at all, for this is a sign that he is not called, or, which is a still greaterevil, that he wishes not to correspond, as he should, with the grace of his vocation. Hence, withso bad a disposition it is better to remain without, in order to acquire a better disposition, and toresolve to give himself entirely to God, and to suffer all for God. Otherwise he will do an injuryboth to himself and to the Order; for he will easily go back to the world, and then, beingdisgraced before the world, as well as before God, he will be guilty of a still further infidelity tohis vocation, and will lose the confidence in the power of taking another step in the way of God.God only knows into what other misfortunes and sins he may afterwards fall.On the other hand, a beautiful sight it is to see in religion souls wholly given to God, wholive in the world as if out of the world, without any other thought than that of pleasing God. Inreligion each one has to live only for eternal life. What happiness for us, if we spend these fewdays of our life for God! And to this he is most especially obliged who has perhaps already spentmuch of his life in the service of the world. Let us set eternity before our eyes, and then we shallsuffer all with peace and joyfulness.Let us thank God, who gives us so much light and so many means to serve Him perfectly,since He has chosen us, from among so many, to serve Him in religion, having bestowed on usthe gift of His holy love. Let us make haste to please Him in the practice of virtue, reflecting, asSt. Teresa said to her daughters, that we have already by His grace done the principal thingnecessary to become saints, by turning our backs on the world and all its goods; the least yetremains to be done, in order that we may be saints. I hold it for certain, that for those who die inreligion, Jesus Christ has prepared a prominent place in paradise. On this earth we shall be poor,despised, and treated as fools, as imprudent men, but in the other life our lot will be changed.Let us always recommend ourselves to our Redeemer hidden in the Sacrament, and toMost Holy Mary, because in religion all subjects must profess a most special love for Jesus in theBlessed Sacrament, and for the Immaculate Virgin Mary, and let us have great confidence. JesusChrist has chosen us to be princes of his court, as we may confidently conclude from theprotection that He extends to all religious Orders, and to each member of them. “The Lord is mylight and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Psalms 26:1) O Lord! Finish Thy work, and for Thyglory grant us to be all Thine, so that all the members of Thy Orders may until the day of udgment be pleasing to Thee, and gain over to Thee an immense number of souls. Amen. Amen.


Monday, April 24, 2017


The enemy of human kind tries to keep souls away from Jesus Christ by instilling absurd fears in us such as an exaggerated worry of not being able to confess properly. Here is a passage from a letter I received from a girl:

One of my main problems is that I am not sure whether I do things in the right way: whether I confess correctly or whether I receive Communion the way I should or whether I pray well and so on… and this uncertainty makes me avoid taking Communion, praying and so forth. If I only knew that the Lord would be happy with my confession, even before starting, I would run and do it. Unfortunately, I halt in front of a God of Love, who is perhaps calling me to dedicate myself to Him but I am afraid of approaching Him. Pray for me, that the Lord will give me the courage to do what He is expecting of me!

Dear sister in Christ,
                                   We have been in touch by email for the past few months and I am glad that during this time you have kept following the path of spirituality and of vocational discernment. You must never give up and always progress on the path of Christian perfection. Do not worry excessively about the sins you have committed because the Lord is kind and willingly forgives us when we confess with sincere contrition. Nobody is worthy to become Jesus’s bride, because He is God and we are Eve’s children and therefore sinners. When the Lord grants the gift of vocation to someone, He doesn’t choose according to that person’s merits, it is just a gift of pure love. If you are to become a sister (and I do hope you do), it won’t be because of your merits, but only because this is what Jesus wants, because He is Good.

The devil does not want you to live according to Christianity and so he tries to keep you away from Jesus by making you sad and discouraged. When people are discouraged and demoralised, the devil finds it easy to keep them away from praying and from Communion. You must not fall into this trap!

You cannot live without Jesus anymore because, if your love for him is cold, you will experience much suffering in your heart. You must love Jesus even if the world is full of distractions and temptations; this is why I hope you will enter a monastery. There, it will be easy for you to live in Christian fervour and concentrate on loving Jesus with all your heart, without being distracted by the pointless earthly things.

You must try to live Christianity with joy and stay away from unnecessary fears. You must pray every day without being afraid of “praying wrongly”, the only important thing is not to let your mind wander during prayer. It would also be good if you start a dialogue with Jesus and Mary. Yes, you can talk to them frankly, telling them your problems, your sorrows and your wishes but, most of all, telling them that you love them and that you will love them for the rest of eternity. Saint Alphonsus wrote a very nice booklet explaining how to have a dialogue with God.

Do not be afraid of Confession; the important thing is to be truly sorry for the sins one has committed, and whilst it is sufficient to confess only the mortal sins, one can also mention the venial ones. To commit a mortal sin one must have followed this path: “this thing that I am going to do is a serious sin which will certainly offend God and I am fully aware of it and I accept that I am totally responsible for it”. If you are not aware of the seriousness of the sin or you are not fully aware of your actions or if it is something which happens against your will, then you can be certain that you haven’t committed a mortal sin.

If you are not absolutely sure that one of your actions is a mortal sin, you do not need to confess it. Absolution has the power to forgive all sins, even the ones you haven’t confessed because you were sure they weren’t mortal. Anyway, if your confessor is a good clergyman, you can talk to him and tell him your doubts and what is on your conscience and he will help you to understand whether what you have done has to be considered a mortal sin, a venial one or even simply a minor worry.

The devil does not want you to take Communion, because this is the way you become one with Christ: He becomes yours and you become His. When Jesus is inside you, you must talk of love to Him, tell Him that you love Him and that you will love Him more and more because He deserves so. You must tell Him that you are prepared to offer your life to Him, that you love only Him and that you wish that everyone would love Him and that He could reign in everybody’s heart. Tell Him that you wish for all souls to be saved and that they join Him in the sky, loving Him to eternity and tell Him that you would prefer to die than commit even one single conscious sin.

Your conscience is very delicate and so, if you are not sure whether you committed a mortal sin, you should assume that you have not. People with a delicate conscience like you, do indeed know when they commit a mortal sin, they are absolutely certain about it, with no doubts whatsoever.

After you have confessed your sins, you can keep receiving Communion until you are sure you haven’t committed any mortal sin. Theologians teach us that if you are in doubt whether you committed a mortal sin or not, you can still take Communion but you should recite beforehand an act of contrition. This is a prayer with which you ask God forgiveness for all your sins, not because you would deserve a punishment, but because you have offended Him who is infinitely good and worthy of our love beyond anything else. Taking Communion will keep away all your doubts and worries but, most importantly, will keep away the temptations of the devil who wants to prevent you from taking Communion and therefore keeping you away from Jesus Christ. Taking Communion will give you strength to resist temptations, will give you more fervour in praying and will make you more charitable towards God and your fellow man.

I hope I have been of some help to you but I am always available for any further clarification.

In Jesus and Mary,