Sunday, October 27, 2013

On the Proof of a True Lover of Christ

Today was a harder day than usual.  In lieu of this, I wanted to offer everyone a little consolation.  Upon opening my copy of The Imitation of Christ, I fell upon this chapter.  May it console you as it consoled me.

"THE VOICE OF CHRIST: My Child, you are not yet a brave and wise lover.


THE DISCIPLE: Why, Lord?


THE VOICE OF CHRIST: Because, on account of a slight difficulty you give up what you have undertaken and are too eager to seek consolation.

The brave lover stands firm in temptations and pays no heed to the crafty persuasions of the enemy. As I please him in prosperity, so in adversity I am not displeasing to him. The wise lover regards not so much the gift of Him Who loves as the love of Him Who gives. He regards the affection of the Giver rather than the value of the gift, and sets his Beloved above all gifts. The noble lover does not rest in the gift but in Me Who am above every gift.

All is not lost, then, if you sometimes feel less devout than you wish toward Me or My saints. That good and sweet feeling which you sometimes have is the effect of present grace and a certain foretaste of your heavenly home. You must not lean upon it too much, because it comes and goes. But to fight against evil thoughts which attack you is a sign of virtue and great merit. Do not, therefore, let strange fantasies disturb you, no matter what they concern. Hold strongly to your resolution and keep a right intention toward God.
It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy and then quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart. For these are evils which you suffer rather than commit; and so long as they displease you and you struggle against them, it is a matter of merit and not a loss.

You must know that the old enemy tries by all means in his power to hinder your desire for good and to turn you from every devotional practice, especially from the veneration of the saints, from devout meditation on My passion, and from your firm purpose of advancing in virtue. He suggests many evil thoughts that he may cause you weariness and horror, and thus draw you away from prayer and holy reading. A humble confession displeases him and, if he could, he would make you omit Holy Communion.

Do not believe him or heed him, even though he often sets traps to deceive you. When he suggests evil, unclean things, accuse him. Say to him: "Away, unclean spirit! Shame, miserable creature! You are but filth to bring such things to my ears. Begone, most wretched seducer! You shall have no part in me, for Jesus will be my strength, and you shall be confounded. I would rather die and suffer all torments than consent to you. Be still! Be silent! Though you bring many troubles upon me I will have none of you. The Lord is my light, my salvation. Whom shall I fear? Though armies unite against me, my heart will not fear, for the Lord is my Helper, my Redeemer."

Fight like a good soldier and if you sometimes fall through weakness, rise again with greater strength than before, trusting in My most abundant grace. But beware of vain complacency and pride. For many are led into error through these faults and sometimes fall into almost perpetual blindness. Let the fall of these, who proudly presume on self, be a warning to you and a constant incentive to humility."1 (Thomas a Kempis)

1 - The Imitation of Christ, IV:VI "Of the proof of a true lover"

8 comments:

  1. Thank you Jason,
    I need to get of the computer but needed to read something uplifting so I thought I'd check out your blog. Nudge of the Holy Spirit perhaps? The sentence "Do not, therefore, let strange fantasies disturb you, no matter what they concern" particularly resonates with me. Reminds me of my spiritual director who died at age 94 earlier this year (God rest his soul) who used to say that these thoughts will come - even at his age, because while we are on earth we will not be exempt, but to turn away from them immediately and turn to Jesus saying "Jesus I love You and I trust in You" placing every disturbing or anxious thought in His hands (repeatedly if necessary!). Takes much - nay, constant practice but as St Teresa of Avila says "Obedience makes the impossible possible".
    Thanks for your blog. It is a real gift to us. May we stay close to Jesus who saves us from ourselves and is our true consolation!

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    1. Thanks for your readership! I'm happy this excerpt helped you. I'll try to post such things from time to time as I find them.

      God give you peace.

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  2. So needed this today. I've been in a state of desolation this week, and I almost gave in to an old sinful habit today. Through God's grace I recognized it as the voice of the evil spirit, and fought it tooth and nail. As always, the Lord prevailed, and this time I allowed him to carry me over the turbulent waters of the sea of sinfulness. It will not always be easy brothers and sisters, but fight the good fight and keep the end in sight. Thank you for the post on The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius you made the other day, as I've recently began applying them to my life and they have been such a blessing. May the Holy Trinity bless and keep you all

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  3. Thank you, this helps me in my own daily battles with intrusive thoughts and how easily frustration makes me want to give up. I can discern this constant push trying to make me stop saying daily prayers, but I seem to forget very often, their true source which is outside of me. So, again, I thank you for the daily reminder of what I'm battling against and reaffirming my faith in our Lord, who has been guiding me (He brought me to your blog today, didn't He? :)

    God bless you & everyone. Please keep sending us reminders :)

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    1. So glad this post proved to be a consolation - I know it really helped me.

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  4. I came across this a while ago, but, it's been sitting in my pile of "things to read/print/re-read" for a few weeks. I didn't quite know where to (re)post it on your blog, but, I did think it would be helpful to you and all who arein this battle. I hope it may it be a consolation and strength for all. I found it very helpful. :)

    http://holyfaceofmanoppello.blogspot.com/2008/10/st-francis-st-clare-st-anthony-seeking.html

    St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Anthony - Seeking the Origins of the Franciscan Tradition of Contemplating the Holy Face

    Is it a coincidence that the conversion of St. Francis of Assisi developed in the first years of the 13th century when the image known then as the Veil of Veronica revealing so vividly the Holy Face of Christ was first displayed for public veneration in Rome?

    Here are several writings on the Franciscan devotion to the Holy Face, one from a contemporary author and one from the great follower of St. Francis, St. Anthony.

    "Francis and Clare learned...to put all their senses and human and spiritual faculties at the service of their contemplative life. They prayed with their eyes and their ears, their hearts and their minds. ...They had contemplated for so long the face of Christ, both disfigured and transfigured, that they saw His shining countenance concealed under every human face, even the most deformed by illness or sin. ...

    "Francis, who had always taken great delight in 'whatever...was beautiful to look upon' in nature (cf. 1 Cel. 3) ...cultivated an enlightened, kindly way of looking at people, seeking what was good in them rather than what was bad, emphasizing their positive qualities rather than their defects. He viewed everything in the light of the Creator, who, at the dawn of creation 'saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good' (Gen. 1:31). He did not pass judgment on anyone or divide people into classes. ...

    "No one, not even the greatest criminal, can completely destroy in himself the pure, luminous aspect of his soul which mirrors God and in which the Spirit is present though dormant...

    "This insight allowed Francis and his brothers to make the whole world their 'cloister,' in which they saw God everywhere present. (cf. SC 63). They were able to 'see' and pray just as well in the world of work, suffering, and human struggle as they did in solitude....

    "That is why Francis, right up to the end of his life, never drew a line of separation between the solitude of the wilderness and the company of the poor because both were his privileged places of contemplation in which he always found God. ..."

    from Christ, Our Joy: Learning to Pray with St. Francis and St. Clare (pages 23-24) by Michel Hubaut, O.F.M. Translated from French by Paul Barrett, O.F.M. Cap. Published by Greyfriars Review, St. Bonaventure University, Supplement to Volume 9, 1994/95 as quoted in www.franoutreach.org

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  5. [continued]

    Now the words of St. Anthony:

    "The Lord manifests Himself to those who pause while in peace and humility of heart. If you look into the murky and turbulent waters, you cannot see your own countenance. If you want the face of Christ to appear in your countenance, pause, collect your thoughts in silence, and shut the door of the soul to the noise of exterior things.

    The greetings of the angels and the blessings of the Good are not for those who live in public squares, that is, outside of themselves, agitated and distracted. The sweet "Ave" was addressed to the Virgin Mary when she was absorbed in prayer, in the privacy of her house...God, in order to be able to speak to the soul and fill it with the knowledge of his love, leads it to the solitude, detaching it from preoccupations of earthly things. He speaks to the ears of those who are silent and makes them hear His secrets."

    From the Sermons of St. Anthony as quoted in the booklet "Companion Prayers" by the Conventual Franciscans of 12300 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042-1419 www.CompanionsofStAnthony.org

    By contemplating the Face of Christ in prayer we are able to see the Face of Christ in ourselves and in our neighbor. May the image of the Holy Face of Manoppello help us to come to prayer, and then to the love of God and the love of neighbor.

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