On  Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving – St. Vincent Ferrer

Mt 6:1-6 Douay translation:

“Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.

3 But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. 4 That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.

6 But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee..”

    “Take heed that you do not your justice before men,” (Mt 6:1)   The theme is the word of Christ, advising us, saying “Take heed…” The Lord Jesus Christ in this theme calls penitence “justice.”  It is the custom in sacred scriptures, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, that true penitence is called “justice.”  The reason: because through good penitence man does true justice for himself, and for all the good things, by which we commonly sin which are three, namely

   The material body,  [corpus materiale]

   The rational soul,  [anima rationalis]

   And temporal goods [substantia temporalia]

   For penitence, if it is true, ought to do justice, and punishment [punitionem] to these three.  And first it does justice to the body by afflicting it through fasting, vigils, disciplines, and pilgrimages etc., because from its inclination we commit many sins.   And so lest God do justice to the body in hell through those evil ministers, man ought to do justice here through penance.  This privilege God gives uniquely to human nature, that each renders judgment in his own case.  Even though man renders justice to himself, he [God] is content.  Behold the privilege: “But if we would judge ourselves, we should not,” by the Lord, “be judged,” (1Cor 11:31), in our body.  And so when the repentant soul, which has done justice, comes before Christ at judgment, and is accused by the demons, then the soul responds with the saying of David in Ps. 118: “I have done judgment and justice: give me not up to them who slander me,” (v. 121).

   The same penitence for the soul.  Many sins are within the soul through wicked thoughts, through hatred, rancor, malice, through ill will, or through errors and false opinions.  But penitence does justice through devout prayers, as if by binding up the soul in the chain of devout prayers, which pass verbally through the neck, whose head is bound at the foot of the throne of Christ, as if saying, “Lord, because I am judge in my own case, I suspend my soul etc. lest you suspend it in the fork of hell.”

   Third, penitence does justice regarding temporal goods, which have been for you an occasion of sin, in committing secret thefts, robbery, usury, overcharging, for extortion, withholding salaries of your workers, or the goods of the church, or of the dead, not paying tithes, first fruits etc.  Penitence does justice by repaying.

   It is clear therefore true penitence is nothing other than justice, and so it is said, “But if the wicked do penance for all his sins which he has committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment, and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die.  I will not remember all his iniquities that he has done: in his justice which he has wrought, he shall live,” (Ez 18:21-22).  Of this justice, true penitence, the theme speaks when it says, “Take heed that you do not your justice,” that is, penitence, “before men,” (Mt 6:1).  The theme therefore is clear.  Christ himself shows and declares in the holy gospel today how it is to be avoided, lest penitential justice happens before men.

   There are three parts in which he shows how penitential justice should not be practiced before men.

    First about the physical body,

    Second about material affluence,

    Third about the rational soul.

BODILY PENITENCE

   I say first etc., and this, when he says in the first part of the gospel, “Take heed that you do not your justice before men,” (Mt 6:1), which is about the body through fasting, vigils and abstinences, you do before men, for their recognition, not for God.  Note here the difference between the recognition of men and of God.  For the recognition of men extends itself only to the exterior works, and not to the interior.  But the recognition of God extends itself to both works, because he sees all things clearly, “Nor do I judge according to the look of man: for man sees  those things that appear, but the Lord beholds the heart,” (1Sam 16:7).   Note, according to St. Thomas I, q. 57, a. 4, where he asks whether the angels know the thoughts of the heart.  Response:

A secret thought can be known in two ways: first, in its effect. In this way it can be known not only by an angel, but also by man; and with so much the greater subtlety according as the effect is the more hidden. For thought is sometimes discovered not merely by an outward act, but also by change of countenance; and doctors can tell some passions of the soul by the mere pulse. Much more then can angels, or even demons, the more deeply they penetrate those occult bodily modifications…

In another way thoughts can be known as they are in the mind, and affections as they are in the will: and thus God alone can know the thoughts of hearts and affections of wills. The reason of this is, because the rational creature is subject to God only, and He alone can work in it Who is its principal object and last end… Consequently all that is in the will, and all things that depend only on the will, are known to God alone. Now it is evident that it depends entirely on the will for anyone actually to consider anything; because a man who has a habit of knowledge, or any intelligible species, uses them at will. Hence the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 2:11): “For what man knows the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him?”  (I, q. 57, a. 4).  Cf. Also II Sent., d. 8, ad 5m.  Also in IV Sent d. 45, q. 3, ad 5m.

    Now therefore returning to the point, let us see what it is to fast “before men,” and what it is to fast before God.   To fast before men is to abstain from meat and especially to eat only once a day.  Also to abstain from those delights of the body.  This is fasting, which falls into the recognition of men.  But to fast before God is when not only the body but also the heart abstains from stews [cibis potionatis], whether of the poisons of wicked thoughts, or depraved desires, of rancors, of ill will and from the desire for revenge.  And because there are many who fast before men and not before God, he says, “Take heed that you do not your justice before men,” (Mt 6:1), supply “only” before men, but also before God, which is to say just as you fast by abstaining from bodily foods, fast also from the deadly and indigestible foods of the heart. etc.  This fast Christ commands in the gospel of Matthew 5, in the first part of the gospel, saying, “You have heard that it has been said, You shalt love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.  But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who makes his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and rains upon the just and the unjust. For if you love them who love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans do this? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens do this?  Therefore be perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Mt 5:43 48).

   Note when he says “be perfect,” by fasting, not only before men but also before God, “as also your heavenly Father is perfect,” who in this world has many enemies, all sinners and infidels, yet he loves them and gives them the blessings of the sun, the moon, the rain and provisions.  And so like good children we are assimilated to our heavenly Father.  Also because we are bound to do more for God than the infidels, because they alone love those loving them, this also dogs do.  But when a creature loves with the love of God, they not only love those who love him, but also their enemies, this is meritorious.  Also if you greet those who greet you, no thanks for that.  But there are many who say they do not hate someone, but they do not speak to them, unless the other speaks to him first.  I tell to you that he who speaks first and greets the other, he then gains merit, a crown.  And so we not only fast before men but also before God, then we shall be perfect in our fasting.

   Today’s epistle agrees with the gospel.  It tells how the Jews, in the time of Isaiah the prophet, as is found in Isaiah 58, had great tribulations in Jerusalem of drought, famine, locusts and such. The rulers of the city ordered that all would fast for some days, and the more they fasted, the worse the troubles grew, on which account they came to the temple and praying said, “Why have we fasted, and you have not regarded.  We have humbled our souls, and you have not taken notice?” – by accepting it.  And God responded to them through Isaiah the prophet, “Behold in the day of your fast your own will is found,” (Isa 58:3) – note, he did not speak of God who commanded to forgive and love enemies –”and you exact of all your debtors. Behold you fast for debates and strife, and strike wickedly with the fist. Do not fast as you have done until this day, to make your cry to be heard on high. Is this such a fast as I have chosen: for a man to afflict his soul for a day? … will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord?” (Isa 58:3-5).  Note, enemies are called “debtors.”   This is clear when it is said, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” our enemies (Mt 6:12).  The debts are recalled  through the desire of revenge.

   But the fast, which he wants and chooses is that which follows, “Loose the bands of wickedness,” (Is 58:6), which happens in two ways, through parents, or through a valet or aide.  And when it is said to them that they make peace, they say “I will not make it, unless with my friends, or my valet or aide makes it.  It is good to require them that they make peace, otherwise you go with God.”   And if you swear an oath to them via your valet or aide, it need not be kept, because it is contrary to charity.  Therefore it is said in the plural, “Loose the bands…”  Second, “undo the bundles that oppress,” (Is 58:6), namely hatred which someone holds in his heart, and this is the fast, which he chooses.  Thus, the first part is clear.  See why he says, “Take heed…”

PENITENCE OF MATERIAL AFFLUENCE

   Second, I say that Christ warns lest penitential justice happen before men, from our material affluence [de abundantia temporali], which happens through restitution and almsgiving.  And this Christ shows in the second part of the gospel, Matthew 6, when he says, “Therefore when you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. That your alms may be in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you,” (Mt 6:2-4).   To explain this text note how, the Jewish rabbis and Pharisees of old did not care about heavenly  glory but about temporal and terrestrial glory, and so everything whatsoever they did they did only before men.  And when they were to give alms, first it was cried out through the city, and they followed the crier that they might hear the praises from the people saying, “O how pious is this man!” and they delighted in these praises.  Behold vainglory! And so Christ said about them, “Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.”  So that great reward is lost which God promised to persons of mercy saying, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy,” (Mt 5:7).  When the soul which gives alms or other goods out of vainglory, comes to judgment before Christ, immediately it will be remitted to hell, saying that it has already received its  reward here.  If it is asked, therefore, what manner should we hold to in giving alms, this Christ shows saying, “But when you give alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” (Mt 6:3).

   Note here three moral points.  First, temporal riches are called “hands.”  Reason: because just as by hands we do all our deeds, — hence the Philosopher says that the had is the organ of organs — so with riches man does all his business.  The right hand is good and just money earned, from his own labors or acquired possessions.  The left hand is bad money, unjustly acquired or collected, from theft, usury, robbery, simony and the like.  So about this Solomon wrote: “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me,” (Song 2:6).  Restitution should be made from the left, and alms given from the right,.  And so he says, “But when you give alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” (Mt 6:3).  And so I give you useful advice, that in your financial books, or accounts you should put yourself in the middle, and money from good work is put in one side and from the unjust deed on the other side, because when they are placed together restitution is forgotten; and through that middle stance it is remembered.  And then you know from which hand you give alms, and from which you make restitution.  And according to this understanding Tobias said to his son, “My son… Give alms out of your substance, and turn not away your face from any poor person: for so it shall come to pass that the face of the Lord shall not be turned from you,” (Tob 4:7).

    The second point is on the part of the intention of giving alms.  The hand is called “right,”  when the intention is righteous [recta].  When alms are given solely out of love and honor of God who has given us so much alms, by creating, providing and redeeming us with the treasure of his blood.  This intention is called the right hand.  Or by thinking, “I shall now give alms, so that when I ask for alms at the gate of paradise, God might give me a crumb of his glory. This therefore is a right intention.  Beware therefore lest you give alms from a “left” [sinistra]   intention, of praise or vainglory.  “Let not your left hand know,” the intention of vain glory.  Many great works are lost because of a “left” intention.

   The third point, the manner of giving alms, which can be good or evil, it is said to be a “right hand” or “left.”  The good way of giving alms is, when alms, a work of piety, are given with piety, benignity, and out of pure charity; then they are given with the right hand.  When however given in a bad way, it is given like bread to a dog, or because they pretend not to hear the poor, or with indignation at the insistence of a beggar, then it is given by the left hand.  And so the text says, “Therefore when you give alms…”  And so the counsel of the Apostle must be kept saying, “Every one as he has determined in his heart, not with sadness, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver,” (2Cor 9:7).  A practical note.  When someone goes to church, he should carry in his hand what he proposes to give out of love of God.  See why he says, “But when you give  alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”  So the advice of the theme is kept, “Take heed that you do not your justice before men,” (Mt 6:1).

PENITENCE OF THE SOUL

   I say, third, that in the third part of the gospel, Christ our Lord shows how to do penitential justice from a rational soul, not before men, but secretly.  “And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But you when you shall pray, enter into your chamber, and having shut the door, pray to your Father in secret: and your Father who sees in secret will repay you,” (Mt 6:5-6).  This is said about the manner of praying of the ancient hypocrites in the synagogues, villages and street corners, where people would gather so they might be seen. O about these blessed ones, about whom Christ in the gospel said, “Amen I say to you, they have received their reward,” (Mt 6:5).   O stupid ones, that such a precious jewel, as is prayer, they give away for such a paltry and contemptible price.  And so Christ shows us how to pray saying, “But you when you shall pray, enter into your chamber, and having shut the door, pray to your Father in secret: and your Father who sees in secret will repay you,” (Mt 6:6).

   Note, “into your chamber.”  But someone can say about this, “Should one NOT pray in the temple of God, or in the church?”  Response: this is understood in two ways.  In the first way, the conscience is said to be the secret chamber, and this prayer happens in the churches, namely not crying out nor making grand gestures in order to be seen, lest others be disturbed, but “by shutting the door,” i.e. praying secretly.  And this ought to be understood about prayers which happen in public or in common.  About other special prayers, and the rest a man should shut himself up in his room.  So the text is understood.

   But here someone can argue saying, It seems that our Lord in his teaching is contradicting himself, because he says in today’s gospel, “Take heed that you do not your justice before men,”  And in another place he says, “So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” (Mt 5:16).  This seems to be a contradiction.  Response: It is not a contradiction.  But hear the explanation.  Christ since he is the Lord and universal master gives his teaching to men, both to perfect persons, and also to the imperfect.  Because they had to instruct others and to inform them in the spiritual life and teaching, he was saying, “You are the light of the world,” (Mt 5:14).  And he was speaking to the apostles and other perfect persons, whom the winds of adulation did not harm.  And so he said, “So let your light shine,” namely your good works and catholic teaching, “before men, that they may see ..,” etc. as if he had said, “Bear the royal banner,” that is, the evangelical teaching, “under the standard of a good life,” that all might say, “Certainly this one practices what he preaches, because otherwise he is not believed.”

   But to the imperfect, and those just beginning a good life, whom the winds of praise might harm, he says, “Take heed that you do not your justice before men,”  This question was once asked by St. Antoninus, who explained it in this way, “Just as a great fire is not extinguished by the wind, rather it is even increased, but a tiny light is blown out by the wind, so also a great fire of ardent devotion and charity is in the body of the perfect, but a modest fire in the imperfect.  And so it is immediately extinguished by the slightest breath of praise, but in the perfect it is fanned and grows the more.  And note this in the great honor given to St. Peter, when he came to Antioch, and to St. John returning from exile, and to St. Paul in Galatians, as is clear in Galatians 4.

Imitations of Christ – Thomas à Kempis

Ourselves

WE MUST not rely too much upon ourselves, for grace and understanding are often lacking in us. We have but little inborn light, and this we quickly lose through negligence. Often we are not aware that we are so blind in heart. Meanwhile we do wrong, and then do worse in excusing it. At times we are moved by passion, and we think it zeal. We take others to task for small mistakes, and overlook greater ones in ourselves. We are quick enough to feel and brood over the things we suffer from others, but we think nothing of how much others suffer from us. If a man would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly, he would find little cause to pass severe judgment on others.

The interior man puts the care of himself before all other concerns, and he who attends to himself carefully does not find it hard to hold his tongue about others. You will never be devout of heart unless you are thus silent about the affairs of others and pay particular attention to yourself. If you attend wholly to God and yourself, you will be little disturbed by what you see about you.

Where are your thoughts when they are not upon yourself? And after attending to various things, what have you gained if you have neglected self? If you wish to have true peace of mind and unity of purpose, you must cast all else aside and keep only yourself before your eyes.

You will make great progress if you keep yourself free from all temporal cares, for to value anything that is temporal is a great mistake. Consider nothing great, nothing high, nothing pleasing, nothing acceptable, except God Himself or that which is of God. Consider the consolations of creatures as vanity, for the soul that loves God scorns all things that are inferior to Him. God alone, the eternal and infinite, satisfies all, bringing comfort to the soul and true joy to the body.

The Joy of a Good Conscience

THE glory of a good man is the testimony of a good conscience. Therefore, keep your conscience good and you will always enjoy happiness, for a good conscience can bear a great deal and can bring joy even in the midst of adversity. But an evil conscience is ever restive and fearful.

Sweet shall be your rest if your heart does not reproach you.

Do not rejoice unless you have done well. Sinners never experience true interior joy or peace, for “there is no peace to the wicked,” says the Lord. Even if they say: “We are at peace, no evil shall befall us and no one dares to hurt us,” do not believe them; for the wrath of God will arise quickly, and their deeds will be brought to naught and their thoughts will perish.

To glory in adversity is not hard for the man who loves, for this is to glory in the cross of the Lord. But the glory given or received of men is short lived, and the glory of the world is ever companioned by sorrow. The glory of the good, however, is in their conscience and not in the lips of men, for the joy of the just is from God and in God, and their gladness is founded on truth.

The man who longs for the true, eternal glory does not care for that of time; and he who seeks passing fame or does not in his heart despise it, undoubtedly cares little for the glory of heaven.

He who minds neither praise nor blame possesses great peace of heart and, if his conscience is good, he will easily be contented and at peace.

Praise adds nothing to your holiness, nor does blame take anything from it. You are what you are, and you cannot be said to be better than you are in God’s sight. If you consider well what you are within, you will not care what men say about you. They look to appearances but God looks to the heart. They consider the deed but God weighs the motive.

It is characteristic of a humble soul always to do good and to think little of itself. It is a mark of great purity and deep faith to look for no consolation 64in created things. The man who desires no justification from without has clearly entrusted himself to God: “For not he who commendeth himself is approved,” says St. Paul, “but he whom God commendeth.”

To walk with God interiorly, to be free from any external affection—this is the state of the inward man.

HOW WE ARE TO CONFORM OURSELVES TO THAT DIVINE WILL – St. Francis de Sales

HOW WE ARE TO CONFORM OURSELVES TO THAT DIVINE WILL, WHICH IS CALLED THE SIGNIFIED WILL.

WE sometimes consider God’s will as it is in itself, and finding it all holy and all good, we willingly praise, bless and adore it, and sacrifice our own and all other creatures’ wills to its obedience, by that divine exclamation: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

At other times we consider God’s will in the particular effects of it, as in the events that touch us, and accidents that befall us, and finally in the declaration and manifestation of his intentions. And although God in reality has but one quite single and most simple will, yet we call it by different names, according to the variety of the means whereby we know it; by which variety also we are, in various ways, obliged to conform ourselves to it.

Christian doctrine clearly proposes unto us the truths which God wills that we should believe, the goods he will have us hope for, the pains he will have us dread, what he will have us love, the commandments he will have us observe, and the counsels he desires us to follow. And this is called God’s signified will, because he has signified and made manifest unto us that it is his will and intention that all this should be believed, hoped for, feared, loved and practised.

Now forasmuch as this signified will of God proceeds by way of desire, and not by way of absolute will, we have power either to follow it by obedience, or by disobedience to resist it; for to this purpose God makes three acts of his will: he wills that we should be able to resist, he desires that we should not resist, and yet allows us to resist if we please. That we have power to resist depends on our natural condition and liberty; that we do resist proceeds from our malice; that we do not resist is according to the desire of the divine goodness.

And therefore when we resist, God contributes nothing to our disobedience, but leaving our will in the hands of its liberty permits it to make choice of evil; but when we obey, God contributes his assistance, his inspiration, and his grace. For permission is an action of the will which of itself is barren, sterile and fruitless, and is as it were a passive action, which acts not but only permits action; desire on the contrary is an active, fruitful, fertile action, which excites, invites and urges.

Wherefore God, in his desire that we should follow his signified will, solicits, exhorts, excites, inspires, aids and succours us, but in permitting us to resist he does nothing but simply leave us to our own wills, according to our free election, contrary to his desire and intention. And yet this desire is a true desire, for how can one more truly express the desire that his friend should make good cheer, than by providing a good and excellent banquet, as did the king in the Gospel parable, and then, inviting, urging, and in a manner compelling him, by prayers, exhortations and pressing messages, to come and sit down at the table and eat.

In truth, he that should by main force open his friend’s mouth, cram meat into his throat, and make him swallow it, would not be giving courteous entertainment to his friend, but would be using him like a beast, and like a capon that has to be fattened.

This kind of favour requires to be offered by way of invitation, persuasion, and solicitation, not violently and forcibly thrust upon a man, and hence it is done by way of desire, not of absolute will. Now it is the same with regard to the signified will of God: for in this, God desires with a true desire that we should do what he makes known, and to this end he provides us with all things necessary, exhorting and urging us to make use of them.

In this kind of favour one could desire no more, and as the sunbeams cease not to be true sunbeams when they are shut out and repulsed by some obstacle, so God’s signified will remains the true will of God even if it be resisted, though it has not the effects which it would have if it were seconded.

The conformity then of our heart to the signified will of God consists in this, that we will all that the divine goodness signifies unto us to be of his intention,—believing according to his doctrine, hoping according to his promises, fearing according to his threats, loving and living according to his ordinances and admonitions, to which all the protestations which we make so often in the holy ceremonies of the Church do tend.

For on this account we stand while the Gospel is read, as being prepared to obey the holy signification of God’s will contained therein; hence we kiss the book at the place of the Gospel, in adoration of the sacred word which declares his heavenly will.

Hence many saints of the old time carried in their bosoms the Gospel written, as an epithem of love, as is related of S. Cecily, and S. Matthew’s Gospel was actually found upon the heart of the dead S. Barnabas, written with his own hand. Wherefore in the ancient councils, in the midst of the whole assembly of Bishops, there was erected a high throne, and upon it was placed the book of the holy Gospels, which represented the person of our Saviour,—King, Doctor, Director, Spirit and sole Heart of the Councils, and of the whole Church: so much did they reverence the signification of God’s will expressed in that divine book. Indeed that great mirror of the pastoral order, S. Charles, Archbishop of Milan, never studied the holy Scripture but bareheaded and upon his knees, to testify with what respect we are to read and hear the signified will of God.

Treatise on the Love of God – St. Francis de Sales

The Longings of our Hearts Must Be Examined And Moderated

The Longings of our Hearts Must Be Examined And Moderated

The Voice of Christ: MY CHILD, it is necessary for you to learn many things which you have not yet learned well.

The Disciple: What are they, Lord?

The Voice of Christ : That you conform your desires entirely according to My good pleasure, and be not a lover of self but an earnest doer of My will. Desires very often inflame you and drive you madly on, but consider whether you act for My honor, or for your own advantage.

If I am the cause, you will be well content with whatever I ordain. If, on the other hand, any self-seeking lurk in you, it troubles you and weighs you down. Take care, then, that you do not rely too much on preconceived desire that has no reference to Me, lest you repent later on and be displeased with what at first pleased you and which you desired as being for the best.

Not every desire which seems good should be followed immediately, nor, on the other hand, should every contrary affection be at once rejected. It is sometimes well to use a little restraint even in good desires and inclinations, lest through too much eagerness you bring upon yourself distraction of mind; lest through your lack of discipline you create scandal for others; or lest you be suddenly upset and fall because of resistance from others.

Sometimes, however, you must use violence and resist your sensual appetite bravely. You must pay no attention to what the flesh does or does not desire, taking pains that it be subjected, even by force, to the spirit. And it should be chastised and forced to remain in subjection until it is prepared for anything and is taught to be satisfied with little, to take pleasure in simple things, and not to murmur against inconveniences.

From The Imitation of Christ – Eleventh Chapter

Mortification – By St Anthony Mary Claret

I keep in mind the teaching laid down by St. John of the Cross which states: “If anyone affirms that one can reach perfection without practicing exterior mortification, do not believe him; and even though he confirm this assertion by working miracles, know that his contentions are nothing but illusions.

As for me, I look to St. Paul for my example, for he mortified himself, and said publicly: “Castigo corpus meum et in servitutem redigo, ne forte cum aliis praedicaverim ipse reprobus efficiar — I chastise my body and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps when I have preached to others I myself may become a castaway.” All the saints until now have done in like manner. Venerable Rodriquez says that the Blessed Virgin said to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, that no spiritual grace comes to the soul, commonly speaking, except by way of prayer and bodily afflictions. There is an old principle which goes: “Da mihi sanguinem et dabo tibi spiritum.” Woe to those who are enemies of mortification and of the cross of Christ!

In one act of mortification one can practice many virtues, according to the different ends which one proposes in each act, as for example:

1. He who mortifies his body for the purpose of checking concupiscence, performs an act of the virtue of temperance.

2. If he does this, purposing thereby to regulate his life well, it will be an act of the virtue of prudence.

3. If he mortifies himself for the purpose of satisfying for the sins of his past life, it will be an act of justice.

4. If he does it with the intention of conquering the difficulties of the spiritual life, it will be an act of fortitude.

5. If he practices this virtue of mortification for the end of offering a sacrifice to God, depriving himself of what he likes, and doing that which is bitter and repugnant to nature, it will be an act of the virtue of religion.

6. If he intends by mortification to receive greater light to know the divine attributes, it will be an act of faith. 7. If he does it for the purpose of making his salvation more and more secure, it will be an act of hope.

8. If he denies himself in order to help in the conversion of sinners, and for the release of the poor souls in purgatory, it will be an act of charity towards his neighbor.

9. If he does it so as to help the poor, it will be an act of mercy.

10. If he mortifies himself for the sake of pleasing God more and more, it will be an act of love of God.

In other words, I shall be able to put all these virtues into practice in one act of mortification, according to the end I propose to myself while doing the said act.

Virtue has so much more merit, is more resplendent, charming and attractive, when accompanied by greater sacrifice. Man, who is vile, weak, mean, cowardly, never makes a sacrifice, and is not even capable of doing so, for he never resists even one appetite or desire. Everything that his concupiscence and passions demand, he concedes, if it is in his power to yield or reject, for he is base and cowardly, and lets himself be conquered and completely overcome, just as the braver of two fighters conquers the cowardly one.

• To labor and to suffer for the one we love is the greatest proof of our love.

God was made man for us. But what kind of man? How was He born? How did He live? Yes, and what a death He endured! Ego sum vermis et non homo, et abjectio plebis — I am a worm and no man, and the outcast of the people. Jesus is God and Man, but His Divinity did not help His Humanity in His crosses and sufferings, just as the souls of the just in heaven do not help their bodies which rot under the earth.

In a very special manner God helped the martyrs in their sufferings, but this same God abandoned Jesus in His crosses and torments, so that He was indeed a Man of Sorrows. The body of Our Lord was most delicately formed, and therefore more sensitive to pain and suffering. Well, then, who is capable of forming an idea of how much Jesus suffered? All His life, suffering was ever present. How much did He have to suffer for our love! Ah, what pains He underwent, so long-enduring and intense! O Jesus, Love of my life, I know and realize that pains, sorrows and labors are the lot of the apostolate, but with the help of Thy grace I embrace them. I have had my share of them, and now I can say that by Thy aid, my Lord and my Father, I am ready to drain this chalice of interior trials and am resolved to receive this baptism of exterior suffering. My God, far be it from me to glory in anything save in the cross, upon which Thou wert once nailed for me. And I, dear Lord, wish to be nailed to the cross for Thee. So may it be. Amen.