You feel the need of conversion: He is asking more of you… and you are giving him less each day!

For each one of us, as for Lazarus, it was really a veni foras — come out — which got us moving.

—How sad it is to see those who are still dead and don’t know the power of God’s mercy!

—Renew your holy joy, for opposite the man who is decomposing without Christ, there is another who has risen with him.

Earthly affections, even when they aren’t just squalid concupiscence, usually involve some element of selfishness.

So, though you must not despise those affections — they can be very holy — always make sure you purify your intention.

Don’t be anxious for people to sympathise with you. That is often a sign of pride or vanity.

Whenever you speak of the theological virtues, of faith, of hope, of love, remember that, rather than to theorise on, they are virtues to be practised. .

Is there something in your life that does not suit your dignity as a Christian, something which makes you unwilling to be cleansed?

—Examine your conscience, and change.

Take a good look at the way you behave. You will see that you are full of faults that harm you and perhaps also those around you.

—Remember, my child, that microbes may be no less a menace than wild beasts. And you are cultivating those errors and those mistakes — just as bacteria are cultivated in a laboratory — with your lack of humility, with your lack of prayer, with your failure to fulfil your duty, with your lack of self-knowledge… Those tiny germs then spread everywhere.

—You need to make a good examination of conscience every day. It will lead you to make definite resolutions to improve, because it will have made you really sorry for your shortcomings, omissions and sins.

Almighty God, Omnipotent and Infinitely Wise, had to choose his Mother.

What would you have done, if you had had to choose yours? I think that you and I would have chosen the mother we have, filling her with all graces. That is what God did: and that is why, after the Blessed Trinity, comes Mary.

—Theologians have given a rational explanation for her fullness of grace and why she cannot be subject to the devil: it was fitting that it should be so, God could do it, therefore he did it. That is the great proof: the clearest proof that God endowed his Mother with every privilege, from the very first moment. That is how she is: beautiful, and pure, and spotless in soul and body!

You are expecting victory, the end of the struggle… but it doesn’t come?

—Thank God, as if you had already reached that goal, and offer him your feelings of impatience: Vir fidelis loquetur victoriam, the faithful man will sing the joys of victory.

There are moments in which you are deprived of that union with Our Lord which enabled you to pray continually, even when you were asleep. You seem almost to be wrestling with God’s Will.

—It is weakness, as you well know. Love the Cross, love the lack of so many things which everyone thinks necessary, the obstacles as you start or… as you go along on your way, your very littleness and spiritual wretchedness.

—Offer — with a desire that is effective — all you have, and all that belongs to those who are yours. Humanly speaking, it’s quite a lot, but from a supernatural point of view, it’s nothing.

At times, someone has told me: “Father, I feel tired and cold; when I pray or fulfil some other norm of piety, I seem to be acting out a farce…”

To that friend, and to you, if you are in the same boat, I answer: A farce? —What an excellent thing, my child! Act out that farce! The Lord is your audience — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Blessed Trinity is contemplating us in those moments when we are “acting out a farce”.

Acting like that in front of God, out of love, in order to please him, when our whole life goes against the grain: how splendid, to be God’s juggler! How marvellous it is to play one’s part for Love, with sacrifice, without any personal satisfaction, just in order to please Our Lord!

—That indeed is to live for Love.

A heart which loves the things of the earth beyond measure is like one fastened by a chain — or by a “ fine thread” — which stops it flying to God.

“Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation…” It makes one shudder to see how someone can give up a divine undertaking for the sake of a fleeting delusion!

A lukewarm apostle: that’s the great enemy of souls.

A clear sign of lukewarmness is a lack of supernatural “stubbornness”, of fortitude to keep on working and not stop until you have laid “the last stone”.

Some hearts are hard, but noble. When they come close to the warmth of Christ’s Heart, they melt like bronze into tears of love, of reparation. They catch fire.

But lukewarm people have hearts of clay, of mean flesh… They crack and turn to dust. A sorry sight.

Say with me: “Our Jesus, keep us from being lukewarm. We do not want to be lukewarm!”

All goodness, all beauty, all majesty, all loveliness, all grace adorn our Mother. —Doesn’t it make you fall in love, to have a Mother like that?

We are in love with Love. That is why Our Lord doesn’t want us to be dry, stiff, lifeless. He wants us to be steeped in his tenderness!

See if you can understand this apparent contradiction. At thirty years of age, that man wrote in his diary: “I’m not young any more.” When he was over forty, he wrote again: “I will stay young till I’m eighty: if I die before that, I’ll think I haven’t done my stint.”

—Wherever he went he took with him, in spite of the passing years, the mature youthfulness of Love.

How well I understand that question put by a soul in love with God: “Have I made any grimace of distaste, has there been anything in me which could, my Lord, my Love, have hurt you?”

—Ask your Father-God to grant us that constant requirement to love.

Have you seen the affection and the confidence with which Christ’s friends treat him? In a completely natural way the sisters of Lazarus reproach Jesus for being away: “We told you! If only you’d been here!…”

—Speak to him with calm confidence: “Teach me to treat you with the loving friendliness of Martha, Mary and Lazarus and as the first Twelve treated you, even though at first they followed you perhaps for not very supernatural reasons.”

What a pleasure it is to contemplate John, leaning his head on Christ’s breast! —It is like giving up one’s intelligence lovingly, difficult though this is, to let it be set on fire by the flame of the Heart of Jesus.

God loves me… And John the Apostle writes: “Let us love God, then, since God loved us first.” —As if this were not enough, Jesus comes to each one of us, in spite of our patent wretchedness, to ask us, as he asked Peter: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others?…”

—This is the moment to reply: “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you!” adding, with humility, “Help me to love you more. Increase my love!”

“Love means deeds and not sweet words.” Deeds, deeds! And a resolution: I will continue to tell you very often that I love you. How often have I repeated this today! But, with your grace, it will be my behaviour above all that shows it. It will be the little things of each day which, with silent eloquence, will cry out before you, showing you my Love.

We men don’t know how to show Jesus the gentle refinements of love that some poor, rough fellows — Christians all the same — show daily to some pitiful little creature (their wife, their child, their friend) who is as poor as they are.

—This truth should serve as a salutary shock to make us react.

The Love of God is so attractive, and so fascinating, that there are no limits to its growth in the life of a Christian.

You cannot behave like a naughty child, or like a madman.

—You have to be strong, a child of God. You have to be calm in your professional work and in your dealings with others, with a presence of God which makes you give perfect attention to even the smallest details.

If bare justice is done, people may feel hurt.

—Always act, therefore, for the love of God, which will add to that justice the balm of a neighbourly love, and will purify and cleanse all earthly love.

When you bring God in, everything becomes supernatural.

Love Our Lord passionately. Love him madly! Because if there is love there — when there is love — I would dare to say that resolutions are not needed. My parents — think of yours — did not need to make any resolutions to love me: and what an effusion of tenderness they showed me, in little details every day!

With that same human heart we can and should love God.

Love is sacrifice; and sacrifice for Love’s sake is a joy.

This is a question you must ask yourself: How often each day does your will request you to set your heart on God, and offer him your affections and your deeds?

This is a good way of measuring the intensity and quality of your love.

Be convinced, my child, that God has a right to ask us: Are you thinking about me? Are you aware of me? Do you look to me as your support? Do you seek me as the Light of your life, as your shield…, as your all?

—Renew, then, this resolution: In times the world calls good I will cry out: “Lord!” In times it calls bad, again I will cry: “Lord!”

I don’t want you ever to lose your supernatural outlook. Even though you see your own meannesses, your evil inclinations — the clay of which you are made — in all their raw shamefulness, God is counting on you.

Live as the others around you live, with naturalness, but “supernaturalising” every moment of your day.

To be able to judge with rectitude of intention what is needed is a pure heart, zeal for the things of God and love of souls, free from prejudices.

—Think about it!

I heard some people I knew talking about their radio sets. Almost without realising it, I brought the subject round to the spiritual area: we have got a strong earth, too strong, and we have forgotten to put up the aerial of the interior life…

—That is why there are so few souls who keep in touch with God. May we never be without our supernatural aerial.

Do trifles and trivialities, that bring me nothing and from which I expect nothing, engage my attention more than my God? Who am I with, when I am not with God?

Tell him: Lord, I want nothing other than what You want. Even those things I am asking you for at present, if they take me a millimetre away from your Will, don’t give them to me.

The secret of being effective, at root, lies in your piety, a sincere piety. This way you will pass the whole day with Him.

A resolution: to “keep up”, without interruption as far as you can, a loving and docile friendship and conversation with the Holy Spirit. Veni, Sancte Spiritus…! — Come, O Holy Spirit, and dwell in my soul!

Repeat to yourself, with all your heart, and with ever-increasing love, and more when you are in front of the Tabernacle or have the Lord within your breast: Non est qui se abscondat a calore eius — “No one can hide from his warmth.” May I not flee from you, may I be filled with the fire of your Holy Spirit.

Ure igne Sancti Spiritus! — burn me with the fire of your Spirit, you cried. You then added: “My poor soul needs to fly again as soon as possible…, and not stop flying until it rests in God!”

—I think your desires are admirable. I will pray for you often to the Paraclete. I will invoke him continually, so that he may nestle in the centre of your being, presiding and giving a supernatural tone to all your actions and words, thoughts and desires.

When you celebrated the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross you asked Our Lord, with the most earnest desire of your heart, to grant you his grace so as to “exalt” the Holy Cross in the powers of your soul and in your senses… You asked for a new life; for the Cross to set a seal on it, to confirm the truth of your mission; for the whole of your being to rest on the Cross!

—We shall see…

Mortification has to be constant, like the beating of the heart. In this way we will have dominion over ourselves and the charity of Christ for others.

To love the Cross means being able to put oneself out, gladly, for the love of Christ, though it’s hard — and because it’s hard. You have enough experience to know that this is not a contradiction.

Christian cheerfulness is not something physiological. Its foundation is supernatural, and it goes deeper than illness or difficulties.

—Cheerfulness does not mean the jingling of bells, or the gaiety of a dance at the local hall.

True cheerfulness is something deeper, something within: something that keeps us peaceful and brimming over with joy, though at times our face may be stern.

I wrote to you: Though I can understand that it’s not an uncommon way of talking, I’m not happy when I hear people describe the difficulties born of pride as “crosses”. These burdens are not the Cross, the true Cross, because they are not Christ’s Cross.

So struggle against those invented obstacles, which have nothing to do with the seal Christ has set on you. Get rid of all the disguises of self!

Even on those days when you seem to be wasting time, in the prose of the thousand details of the day there is more than enough poetry for you to feel that you are on the Cross: on a Cross which no one notices.

Do not fix your heart on anything that passes away. Imitate Christ, who became poor for us, and had nowhere to lay his head.

—Ask him to give you, in the midst of the world, a real detachment, a detachment that has nothing to soften it.

One clear sign of detachment is genuinely not to consider anything as one’s own.

Whoever really lives his faith knows that the goods of the world are means, and uses them generously, heroically.

The risen Christ, Christ in glory, has divested himself of the things of this earth, so that we men, his brothers, should ask ourselves what things we need to get rid of.

We have to love the Blessed Virgin Mary more. We will never love her enough!

—Love her a lot! It shouldn’t be enough for you to put up pictures of her, and greet them, and say aspirations. You should learn to offer her, in your strenuous life, some small sacrifice each day, to show her your love, and to show her the kind of love that we want the whole human race to proclaim for her.

This is the truth of a Christian’s life: self-giving and love — love of God and, for God’s sake, love of one’s neighbour — founded on sacrifice.

Jesus, I put myself trustingly in Your arms, hiding my head on Your loving breast, my heart touching Yours: I want what You want, in everything.

Nowadays the world we live in is full of disobedience and gossip, of intrigue and conspiracy. So, more than ever we have to love obedience, sincerity, loyalty and simplicity: and all this with a supernatural outlook, which will make us more human.

You say yes, you are determined to follow Christ.

—All right. Then you should walk at his pace, not at your own!

You want to know on what our faithfulness is founded?

—I would say, in broad outline, that it is based on loving God, which makes us overcome all kinds of obstacles: selfishness, pride, tiredness, impatience…

—A man in love tramples on his own self. He is aware that even when he is loving with all his soul, he doesn’t yet know how to love enough.

I was told — and I write it down, because it’s very beautiful — about the way of speaking of a goodly nun from Aragon, in her gratitude for God’s fatherly goodness: “How ‘smart’ he is! He’s got his eye on everything.”

You too, like all God’s children, need personal prayer. You need to be intimate with him, to talk directly with Our Lord. You need a two-way conversation, face to face, without hiding yourself in anonymity.

The first thing needed in prayer is perseverance the second, humility.

—Have a holy stubbornness, be trusting. Remember that when we ask the Lord for something important, he may want to be asked for many years. Keep on! But keep on with ever increasing trust.

Persevere in prayer, as the Master told us. This point of departure will be your source of peace, of cheerfulness, of serenity, and so it will make you humanly and supernaturally effective.

You were in a place where they were talking and listening to music. Prayer welled up in your soul, bringing an unspeakable solace. In the end you said: “Jesus, I don’t want consolation; I want you.”

Your life must be a constant prayer, a never-ceasing conversation with Our Lord: when things are pleasant or unpleasant, easy or difficult, usual or unusual…

In every situation, your conversation with your Father God should immediately come to life. You should seek him right within your soul.

To recollect oneself in prayer, in meditation, is so easy! Jesus doesn’t make us wait. He doesn’t leave us in the waiting-room. It is he who does the waiting.

You only have to say “Lord, I want to pray, I want to talk to you!” and you are at once in God’s presence, talking to him.

And as if this were not enough, he doesn’t begrudge you his time. He leaves it up to you, just as you please. And not just for ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, but for hours and hours! For the whole day! And he is who he is: the Almighty, the Most Wise.

In the interior life, as in human love, we have to persevere.

Yes, you have to meditate often on the same themes, keeping on until you re-discover an old discovery.

—“And how could I not have seen this so clearly before?” you’ll ask in surprise. Simply because sometimes we’re like stones, that let the water flow over them, without absorbing a drop.

—That’s why we have to go over the same things again and again — because they aren’t the same things — if we want to soak up God’s blessings.

In the Holy Sacrifice of the altar, the priest takes up the Body of our God, and the Chalice containing his Blood, and raises them above all the things of the earth, saying: Per Ipsum, et cum Ipso, et in Ipso — through My Love, with My Love, in My Love!

Unite yourself to the action of the priest. Or rather, make that reality a part of your life.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus, after he had worked the miracle, when they wanted to crown him king, hid himself.

—Lord, you make us share in the miracle of the Eucharist. We beg you not to hide away. Live with us. May we see you, may we touch you, may we feel you. May we want to be beside you all the time, and have you as the King of our lives and of our work.

Talk to the Three Persons, to God the Father, to God the Son, to God the Holy Spirit. And so as to reach the Blessed Trinity, go through Mary.

You don’t have living faith if you aren’t giving yourself to Jesus here and now.

All Christians should seek Christ and get to know him, so as to love him better and better. It’s like courting. A couple need to get to know each other well, for if they don’t, they will not really love each other. And our life is a life of Love.

Pause to consider the holy wrath of the Master, when he sees that the things of his Father are badly treated in the Temple at Jerusalem.

—What a lesson for you! You should never be indifferent, or play the coward, when the things of God are treated without respect.

Fall in love with the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ.

—Aren’t you glad that he should have wanted to be like us? Thank Jesus for this wonderful expression of his goodness!

Advent is here. What a marvellous time in which to renew your desire, your nostalgia, your real longing for Christ to come — for him to come every day to your soul in the Eucharist. The Church encourages us: Ecce veniet! — He is about to arrive!

Christmas. The carols sing Venite, venite, “O come ye, O come ye.” Let us go to him. He has just been born.

After contemplating how Mary and Joseph care for the Child, I now dare to hint to you: Look at him again, gaze at him without ceasing.

Although it pains us to admit it — and I ask God to increase that sorrow in us — you and I have our share in the death of Christ. For the sins of men were the hammer-blows which stitched him to the Cross with nails.

Saint Joseph: One cannot love Jesus and Mary without loving the Holy Patriarch.

There are many good reasons to honour Saint Joseph, and to learn from his life. He was a man of strong faith. He earned a living for his family — Jesus and Mary — with his own hard work… He guarded the purity of the Blessed Virgin, who was his Spouse. And he respected — he loved! — God’s freedom, when God made his choice: not only his choice of Our Lady the Virgin as his Mother, but also his choice of Saint Joseph as the Husband of Holy Mary.

Saint Joseph, our Father and Lord: most chaste, most pure. You were found worthy to carry the Child Jesus in your arms, to wash him, to hug him. Teach us to get to know God, and to be pure, worthy of being other Christs.

And help us to do and to teach, as Christ did. Help us to open up the divine paths of the earth, which are both hidden and bright; and help us to show them to mankind, telling our fellow men that their lives on earth can have an extraordinary and constant supernatural effectiveness.

Love Saint Joseph a lot. Love him with all your soul, because he, together with Jesus, is the person who has most loved our Blessed Lady and been closest to God. He is the person who has most loved God, after our Mother.

—He deserves your affection, and it will do you good to get to know him, because he is the Master of the interior life, and has great power before the Lord and before the Mother of God.

Our Lady. Who could be a better Teacher of the love of God than this Queen, this Lady, this Mother, who has the closest bond with the Trinity: Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son, Spouse of God the Holy Spirit? And at the same time she is our Mother!

—Go and pray personally for her intercession.

You will become a saint if you have charity, if you manage to do the things which please others and do not offend God, though you find them hard to do.

Saint Paul has given us a wonderful recipe for charity: alter alterius onera portate et sic adimplebitis legem Christi — bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfil the law of Christ.

—Is this what happens in your life?

Jesus Our Lord loved men so much that he became incarnate, took to himself our nature, and lived in daily contact with the poor and the rich, with the just and with sinners, with young and old, with Gentiles and Jews.

He spoke constantly to everyone: to those who showed good will towards him, and to those who were only looking for a way to twist his words and condemn him.

—You should try to act as Our Lord did.

Loving souls for God’s sake will make us love everyone: understanding, excusing, forgiving…

We should have a love that can cover the multitude of failings contrived by human wretchedness. We have to have a wonderful charity, veritatem facientes in caritate, defending the truth, without hurting anyone.

When I speak to you of good example, I mean to tell you, too, that you have to understand and excuse, that you have to fill the world with peace and love.

Ask yourself often: am I making a real effort to be more refined in my charity towards the people I live with?

When I preach that we have to make ourselves a carpet so that the others may tread softly, I am not simply being poetic: it has to be a reality!

—It’s hard, as sanctity is hard; but it’s also easy, because, I insist, sanctity is within everyone’s reach.

In the midst of so much selfishness, so much coldness —everyone out for what he can get — I call to mind those little wooden donkeys. They were trotting on a desk-top, strong and sturdy. One had lost a leg, but it carried on forward, supported by the others.

When we Catholics defend and uphold the truth, without making concessions, we have to strive to create an atmosphere of charity, of harmony, to drown all hatred and resentment.

In a Christian, in a child of God, friendship and charity are one and the same thing. They are a divine light which spreads warmth.

To practise fraternal correction — which is so deeply rooted in the Gospel — is a proof of supernatural trust and affection.

Be thankful for it when you receive it, and don’t neglect to practise it with those around you.

When you correct someone — because it has to be done and you want to do your duty — you must expect to hurt others and to get hurt yourself.

But you should never let this fact be an excuse for holding back.

Get very close to your Mother, the Virgin Mary. You ought to be united to God always: seek that union with him by staying near his Blessed Mother.

Listen to me: being in the world and belonging to the world does not mean being worldly.

You have to act like a burning coal, spreading fire wherever it happens to be; or at least, striving to raise the spiritual temperature of the people around you, leading them to live a truly Christian life.

God wants the works he entrusts to men to go ahead on the basis of prayer and mortification.

The foundation of all we do as citizens — as Catholic citizens — lies in an intense interior life. It lies in being really and truly men and women who turn their day into an uninterrupted conversation with God.

When you are with someone, you have to see a soul: a soul who has to be helped, who has to be understood, with whom you have to live in harmony, and who has to be saved.

You insist on trying to walk on your own, doing your own will, guided solely by your own judgement… And you can see for yourself that the fruit of this is fruitlessness.

My child, if you don’t give up your own judgement, if you are proud, if you devote yourself to “your” apostolate, you will work all night — your whole life will be one long night —and at the end of it all the dawn will find you with your nets empty.

To think of Christ’s Death means to be invited to face up to our everyday tasks with complete sincerity, and to take the faith that we profess seriously.

It has to be an opportunity to go deeper into the depths of God’s Love, so as to be able to show that Love to men with our words and deeds.

Make sure that your lips, the lips of a Christian — for that is what you are and should be at all times — speak those compelling supernatural words which will move and encourage, and will show your committed attitude to life.

There is a great love of comfort, and at times a great irresponsibility, hidden behind the attitude of those in authority who flee from the sorrow of correcting, making the excuse that they want to avoid the suffering of others.

They may perhaps save themselves some discomfort in this life. But they are gambling with eternal happiness — the eternal happiness of others as well as their own — by these omissions of theirs. These omissions are real sins.

For many people a saint is an “uncomfortable” person to live with. But this doesn’t mean that he has to be unbearable.

—A saint’s zeal should never be bitter. When he corrects he should never be wounding. His example should never be an arrogant moral slap in his neighbour’s face.

There was a young priest who used to address Jesus with the words of the Apostles: Edissere nobis parabolam, explain the parable to us. He would add: Master, put into our souls the clarity of your teaching, so that it may never be absent from our lives and our works. And so that we can give it to others.

—You too should say this to Our Lord.

Always have the courage — the humility, the desire to serve God — to put forward the truths of faith as they are, not allowing any concessions, nor ambiguities.

There is no other possible attitude for a Catholic: we have to defend the authority of the Pope always, and to be ready always to correct our own views with docility, in line with the teaching authority of the Church.

A long time ago someone asked me, tactlessly, whether those of us whose career is the priesthood are able to retire when we get old. And since I gave him no answer, he persisted with his impertinent question.

—Then an answer came to me which, I thought, is indisputable. “The priesthood”, I told him, “is not a career: it is an apostolate.”

—That’s how I feel about it. And I wanted to put it down in these notes so that — with God’s help — none of us may ever forget the difference.

To have a Catholic spirit means that we should feel on our shoulders the weight of our concern for the entire Church — not just of this or that particular part of it. It means that our prayer should spread out north and south, east and west, in a generous act of petition.

So you will understand the cry — the aspiration — of that friend of ours, faced by the little love of so many people towards our Holy Mother: “I suffer for my Church!”

“There is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches”, Saint Paul wrote. This sigh of the Apostle is a reminder for all Christians — for you, too — of our responsibility to place at the feet of the Spouse of Christ, of the Holy Church, all that we are and all that we can do; loving her most faithfully, even at the cost of fortune, of honour, and of life.

Don’t be scared by it. In so far as you can you should fight against the conspiracy of silence they want to muzzle the Church with. Some people stop her voice being heard; others will not let the good example of those who preach with their deeds be seen; others wipe out every trace of good doctrine…, and so very many cannot bear to hear her.

Don’t be scared, I say again. But don’t get tired, either, of your task of being a loudspeaker for the teachings of the Magisterium.

Become more Roman day by day. Love that blessed quality which is the ornament of the children of the one true Church, for Jesus wanted it to be so.

Devotion to Our Lady in Christian souls awakens the supernatural stimulus we need, to act like domestici Dei, as members of God’s family.

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