Apr. 27, 2018

Holiness

Image result for Bernini sculptureSaint Teresa of Avila 

 

This famous Bernini sculpture of St. Teresa of Avila being stabbed through the heart by an angel's burning arrow is on exhibition in Pope Gregory XVII's titular church as cardinal, Santa Maria della Vittoria (Our Lady of Victory), in Rome.  Pope Pius XII gave him this church because it was Cardinal Archbishop Siri's favourite devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On May 2, 2018 will be the anniversary of his death in 1989.

 

This week's prophecy (below) speaks about obedience.  Likewise, St. Teresa of Avila teaches the following about holy obedience:  "The Lord taught me once that it wasn't obedience if I wasn't resolved to suffer, that I should fix my eyes on what He suffered, and that all would be easy" (taken from The Book of Her Life, Chapter 26).

 

To well understand your faith, says the Holy Ghost, you have need of adversities, of contempt, of insults, of heartbreak. It is necessary that all of these become for you pleasures. Here is the true faith, entire and perfect.

 

Some put holiness in visits and pilgrimages; others put it in disciplines and mortifications. All of these can take one to holiness, but with difficulty, because pride always mixes with the aim of discipline, and with long penances, too little hidden.

 

True holiness consists in submission, in the abnegation of oneself, in a will united entirely with the will of God, and in the obedience which is the surest of all the virtues. It is better to take a grain of sand by obedience than to discipline one’s body for ten days. This obedience is of such a worth that one cannot appreciate how much it satisfies God.

 

Prayer is the first purgation of the soul, but you must not do it to be intoxicated with consolations. God, sometimes, thinks the opposite. It can happen that the consolation prayer is very harmful to the soul, for it must be that the will thinks to obey God blindly. Prayer provides an unalterable peace . . .

(13 August 1878)

 

[Source: pp. 182-3, Le Ciel en Colloque avec Marie-Julie Jahenny, compiled by Fr. Pierre Roberdel, in translation].

 

Reflection on this prophecy:

 

This week's reflection on obedience is taken from Sr. Mary of Agreda's City of God, Volume II, number 311, pp. 249-250:

 

311.  My daughter, the happy souls which God has chosen for his intimate friendship and perfection must keep themselves in continual readiness and peace, in order to perform all that his Majesty may ordain without hesitation or delay. That is what I did when the Most High commanded me to leave the beloved retreat of my house and betake myself to Elisabeth; likewise, when he ordered me to return. I obeyed in all these things with joyful alacrity; and although I had received so many benefits from Elisabeth and her family and so many tokens of love and friendship, as thou hast seen, yet, knowing the will of the Lord, I set aside all obligation and my own inclination and followed them only so far as was strictly demanded by charity and compassion, and in so far as the promptest obedience to the divine command permitted.

 

312.  My dearest daughter, how wilt thou not hasten to obtain this true and perfect resignation as soon as thou knowest its vast value! How pleasing it is in the eyes of the Lord, and how profitable for thy soul! Labor then to attain it in imitation of me, as I have so already so often invited thee and urged thee. The greatest hindrances toward its attainment are the leanings and special likings to earthly things; for these make the soul unworthy of the caresses of the Lord and of knowing fully his will. And even if the soul knows his will, the base love of unworthy things will keep the soul from fulfilling it; for on account of its inclinations, it will be wanting in the ready and joyful obedience required by the Lord. Take notice of this danger, my daughter, and do not allow any particular affection to enter into thy heart, for I wish that thou be well versed and perfect in this art of divine love, and that thy obedience be that of an angel, and thy love that of a seraphim. Thus show thyself in all thy actions, for to this my love urges thee, and thus art thou taught by the knowledge and light imparted to thee.

 

313.  I do not say that thou must do away with all sensible feeling, for that is not naturally possible to the creature; but whenever thou meetest adverse happenings, or when thou art deprived of what is useful, necessary or agreeable thou must bear it with joyful resignation and give praise to the Lord, because his will is being fulfilled in thy regard. By seeking only his pleasure, and considering all else as of passing moment, thou wilt gain a quick and easy victory over thyself, and thou wilt seek all occasions to humiliate thyself under the mighty hand of the Lord (1 Pet. 5, 6). I also exhort thee to imitate me in my esteem and veneration of the priests, and that thou always ask their blessing before speaking to them and in leaving them. Do this in regard to the Most High before beginning any work. Toward thy superiors always show thyself devoted and submissive. If any married women come to seek thy advice, exhort them to be obedient to their husbands (Tit. 5, 2), peacefully subjecting themselves, living retired in their houses and carefully fulfilling their obligations toward their families. Tell them not to give themselves up entirely to their occupations, nor to lose themselves in their daily cares on pretext of necessity; for much more must be trusted to the goodness and liberality of God than to one's own immoderate bustle and activity. In whatever happened to me in my condition, thou wilt find true instruction and example; and my whole life will be an example of perfection for the guidance of souls, and therefore I will not need to give thee further direction.