Being chosen by God means, — and demands! —, personal holiness.
If you respond to the call the Lord has made to you, your life — your poor life! — will leave a deep and wide furrow in the history of the human race, a clear and fertile furrow, eternal and godly.
Each day be conscious of your duty to be a saint. — A saint! And that doesn’t mean doing strange things. It means a daily struggle in the interior life and in heroically fulfilling your duty right through to the end.
Sanctity does not consist in great concerns. — It consists in struggling to ensure that the flame of your supernatural life is never allowed to go out; it consists in letting yourself be burned down to the last shred, serving God in the lowest place… or in the highest: wherever the Lord may call you.
Our Lord did not confine himself to telling us that he loved us. He showed it to us with deeds, with his whole life. — What about you?
If you love the Lord, you will necessarily feel the blessed burden of souls, and the need to bring them to God.
For someone who wants to live for Love with a capital letter, the middle course is not good enough; that would be meanness, a wretched compromise.
Here is a recipe for your way as a Christian: pray, do penance, work without rest, fulfilling your duty lovingly.
My God, teach me how to love! — My God, teach me how to pray!
We must ask God for faith, hope and charity, with humility, with persevering prayer, with upright behaviour and a clean life.
You told me that you did not know how to repay me for the holy zeal that flooded your soul.
—I hastened to answer: It is not I who have given you any of those yearnings; it is the Holy Spirit.
—Desire his company, get to know him. — That way you will come to love him better and better, and you will come to thank him for taking up his abode in your soul so that you may have interior life.
Keep struggling, so that the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar really becomes the centre and root of your interior life, and so your whole day will turn into an act of worship — an extension of the Mass you have attended and a preparation for the next. Your whole day will then be an act of worship that overflows in aspirations, visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the offering up of your professional work and your family life…
Try to give thanks to Jesus in the Eucharist by singing the praises of Our Lady, the Virgin most pure, without stain, who brought forth the Lord into this world.
—And, with childlike daring, say to Jesus: My dearest Love, blessed be the Mother who brought you into this world!
I assure you it will please him, and he will put even greater love in your soul.
Saint Luke the Evangelist tells us that Jesus prayed… What must his prayer have been like!
Contemplate this fact slowly: the disciples had the opportunity of talking to Jesus and in their conversations with him the Lord taught them by his words, and deeds, how they should pray. And he taught them this amazing truth of God’s mercy: that we are God’s children and that we can address Him as a child addresses his Father.
When you start out each day to work by Christ’s side and to look after all those souls who seek him, remember that there is only one way of doing it: we must turn to the Lord.
—Only in prayer, and through prayer, do we learn to serve others!
Remember that prayer does not consist in making pretty speeches, or high-sounding or consoling phrases.
Prayer, at times, will be a glance at a picture of Our Lord or of his Mother; sometimes a petition, expressed in words; or offering good works, and the fruits of faithfulness…
We have to be like a guard on sentry duty at the gate of God Our Lord: that’s what prayer is. Or like a small dog that lies down at its master’s feet.
—Do not mind telling him: Lord, here I am, like a faithful dog; or better still like a little donkey, which will not kick the one who loves him.
We all have to be ipse Christus — Christ himself. This is what Saint Paul commands in the name of God: Induimini Dominum Iesum Christum — put on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Each one of us — you! — has to see how he puts on that clothing of which the Apostle speaks. Each one personally, has to sustain an uninterrupted dialogue with the Lord.
Your prayer cannot stop at mere words. It has to lead to deeds and practical consequences.
To pray is the way to keep all the evils we suffer in check.
Here is a piece of advice I shall never tire of telling souls: Love the Mother of God madly, for she is our Mother.
Heroism, sanctity, daring, require a constant spiritual preparation. You can only ever give to others what you already have. And, to give God to them, you yourself need to get to know him, to live his Life, to serve him.
I will not stop repeating until it is deeply engraved in your soul: Piety, piety, piety! For if you lack charity it will be for want of interior life, not for any defect of character.
If you are a good son of God, in the same way that a little child needs to be assured of the presence of his parents when he gets up in the morning or goes to bed at night, your first and last thought each day will be for Him.
You must be constant and demanding with yourself in your regular practices of piety, also when you feel tired or they seem to be arid. Persevere! Those moments are like the tall red-painted poles which serve as markers along the mountain roads when there are heavy snowfalls. They are always there to show where it is safe to go.
Make an effort to respond at each moment to what God is asking of you: have the will to love him with deeds. — They may be little deeds, but don’t leave out a single one.
Interior life is strengthened by a daily struggle in your practices of piety, which you should fulfil — or rather which you should live! — lovingly, because the path we travel as children of God is a path of Love.
Seek God in the depths of your pure, clean heart; in the depths of your soul when you are faithful to him. And never lose that intimacy.
—And if ever you do not know how to speak to him or what to say, or you do not dare to look for Jesus inside yourself, turn to Mary, tota pulchra, all pure and wonderful, and tell her: Our Lady and Mother, the Lord wanted you yourself to look after God and tend him with your own hands. Teach me, teach us all, how to treat your Son!
You must instil in all souls the heroism of doing the little things of each day perfectly, as if the salvation of the world depended on each one of those actions.
With your life of piety you will learn how to practise the virtues proper to your condition as a son of God, as a Christian.
—And together with those virtues you will acquire a whole range of spiritual values which seem small but are really very great. They are like shining precious stones, and we must gather them along the way and then take them up to the foot of God’s Throne in the service of our fellow men: simplicity, cheerfulness, loyalty, peace, small renunciations, services which pass unnoticed, the faithful fulfilment of duty, kindness…
Don’t create more obligations for yourself than… God’s glory, his Love, his Apostolate.
Our Lord has made you see your way clearly as a Christian in the middle of the world. Nevertheless, you tell me that you have often thought, enviously (though in the end you admitted it would be taking the easy way out) of the happiness of being a nobody, of working away, totally obscure, in the remotest corner… God and you!
—Now, apart from the idea of missionary work in Japan, the thought of just such a hidden and sacrificed life has come to your mind. But if, free from other holy natural obligations, you were to try to “hide away” in a religious institution, assuming that was not your vocation, you would not be happy. You would lack peace; because you would have done your own will, not God’s.
—Your “vocation”, in that case, would deserve another name: it would be a defection. It would not be the result of divine inspiration, but of sheer human reluctance to face the coming struggle. And that would never do!
In living holy purity and a clean life, there is a great difficulty to which we are all exposed. The danger is one of becoming bourgeois, either in our spiritual life or in our professional life; the danger — also a real one for those called by God to marriage — of becoming dry old bachelors, selfish; people who do not love.
—Fight that danger tooth and nail, without making concessions of any kind.
Because we shall always have to put up with this little donkey which is our body, to conquer sensuality you have to practise daily and generously little mortifications — and sometimes big ones as well. And you must live in the presence of God, who never ceases to watch over you.
Your chastity cannot be confined to avoiding falls or occasions… In no way can it be a cold and mathematical negative.
—Haven’t you realised that chastity is a virtue and that as such it should grow and become more perfect?
—It is not enough, then, to be continent according to your state. You have to be chaste, with a heroic virtue.
The bonus odor Christi, the fragrance of Christ, is also that of our clean life, of our chastity — the chastity of each one in his own state, I repeat — of our holy purity, which is a joyful affirmation. It is something solid and at the same time gentle; it is refined, avoiding even the use of inappropriate words, since they cannot be pleasing to God.
Get used to thanking the Guardian Angels in advance, thus putting them under an obligation.
One ought to be able to apply to every Christian the name that was used in the early ages: Bearer of God.
—Your actions should be such that you really deserve to be called by that wonderful name.
Think what would happen if we Christians chose not to behave as such… and then rectify your behaviour.
Discover Our Lord behind each event and in every circumstance, and then, from everything that happens, you will be able to draw more love for God and a greater desire to respond to him. He is always waiting for us, offering us the possibility to fulfil at all times that resolution we made: Serviam! I will serve you!
Renew each day the effective desire to empty yourself, to deny yourself, to forget yourself, to walk in novitate sensus, with a new life, exchanging this misery of ours for all the hidden and eternal grandeur of God.
Lord, make me so much yours that not even the holiest affections may enter my heart except through your wounded Heart.
Try to be considerate, well-mannered. Don’t be boorish!
—Try to be polite always, which doesn’t mean being affected.
Charity succeeds always. Without charity nothing can be done.
Love, then, is the secret of your life… Do love! Suffer gladly. Toughen up your soul. Invigorate your will. Make sure that you surrender yourself to God’s will, and efficacy will follow.
Have the piety and simplicity of a child, and the strength and fortitude of a leader.
Peace, and the joy which comes with it, cannot be given by the world.
—Men are forever “making peace” and forever getting entangled in wars. This is because they have forgotten the advice to struggle inside themselves and to go to God for help. Then He will conquer, and we will obtain peace for ourselves and for — our own homes, for society and for the world.
If we do things in this way, you and I will have joy, because it is the possession of those who conquer. And with the grace of God — who never loses battles — we will be able to count ourselves conquerors as long as we are humble.
Your life, your work, should never be negative, nor anti anything. It is — it must be! — positive, optimistic, youthful, cheerful and peaceful.
In national life there are two things which are really essential: the laws concerning marriage and the laws to do with education. In these areas the children of God have to stand firm and fight with toughness and fairness, for the sake of all mankind.
Joy is a Christian possession which we will have as long as we keep fighting, for it is a consequence of peace. Peace is the fruit of having conquered in war, and the life of man upon this earth — as we read in Sacred Scripture — is a warfare.
This divine warfare of ours is a marvellous sowing of peace.
The person who stops struggling causes harm to the Church, to his own supernatural undertaking, to his brothers and to all souls.
—Examine yourself. Could you not put a more lively love for God into your spiritual combat? — I am praying for you… and for everyone. You should do the same.
Jesus, if there is anything in me which is displeasing to you, tell me what it is so that we may uproot it.
There is an enemy of the interior life which is both little and silly. Unfortunately, it can be very effective. It is the neglect of effort in one’s examination of conscience.
In Christian asceticism the examination of conscience meets a need of love, and of sensitivity.
If there is anything in you that is out of harmony with God’s spirit, get rid of it straight away!
Think of the Apostles. They were not of much account, yet they could work miracles in the name of the Lord. Only Judas, who at one time may also have worked miracles, went astray by voluntarily separating himself from Christ, because he did not cut himself off violently and courageously from what was out of harmony with God’s spirit.
My God, when am I going to convert?
Don’t wait until you are old to start becoming a saint. That would be a great mistake!
—Begin right now, in earnest, cheerfully and joyfully, by fulfilling the duties of your work and of your everyday life.
Don’t wait until you are old to become a saint. Because — I insist — apart from its being a great mistake, you never know whether you will live as long as that.
Ask the Lord to grant you all the sensitivity you need to realise how evil venial sin is, so as to recognise it as an outright and fundamental enemy of your soul, and, with God’s grace, to avoid it.
Calmly, without scruples, you should think about your life, and ask forgiveness, and make a firm, specific and well-defined resolution to improve in one point and another: in that small detail which you find hard, and in that other one which usually you don’t carry out as you should, and you know it.
Fill yourself with good desires, which is a holy thing, praised by God. But don’t leave it at that! You have to be a soul — a man, a woman — who deals in realities. To carry out those good desires, you have to formulate clear and precise resolutions.
—And then, my child, you have to fight to put them into practice, with God’s grace.
“What do I have to do to maintain my love for God and make it increase?” you asked me, fired with enthusiasm.
—Leave the “old man” behind, my son, and cheerfully give up things which are good in themselves but hinder your detachment from your ego… You have to repeat constantly and with deeds, “Here I am, Lord, ready to do whatever you want.”
A saint! A son of God should exaggerate in practising virtue — if exaggeration is possible here… Because other people will see themselves reflected in him, as in a mirror, and it is only by our aiming very high that others will reach a middling level.
Don’t be ashamed to discover in your heart the fomes peccati — the inclination to evil, which will be with you as long as you live, for nobody is free from this burden.
Don’t be ashamed, because the all-powerful and merciful Lord has given us all the means we need for overcoming this inclination: the Sacraments, a life of piety and sanctified work.
—Persevere in using these means, ever ready to begin again and again without getting discouraged.
Lord, rescue me from myself!
An apostle who does not pray regularly and methodically will necessarily fall into lukewarmness… and he will then cease to be an apostle.
Lord, from now on let me become someone else: no longer “me”, but that “other person” you would like me to be.
—Let me not deny you anything you ask of me. Let me know how to pray. Let me know how to suffer. Let me not worry about anything except your glory. Let me feel your presence all the time.
—May I love the Father. May I hunger for you, my Jesus, in a permanent Communion. May the Holy Spirit set me on fire.
Meus es tu — you are mine, the Lord has declared to you.
—To think that God, who is all beauty and all wisdom, all splendour and all goodness, should say to you that you are his…! and then, after all this, you can’t bring yourself to respond to him!
You should not be surprised to feel in your life that weight dragging you down which Saint Paul spoke of: “I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind.”
—Remember then that you belong to Christ, and have recourse to the Mother of God, who is your Mother. They will not abandon you.
Receive the advice you are given in spiritual guidance as though it came from Jesus Christ himself.
You asked me to suggest a way for winning through in your daily struggles, and I replied: When you lay your soul open, say first of all what you wouldn’t like to be known. In this way the devil will always end up defeated.
—Lay your soul wide open, clearly and simply, so that the rays of God’s Love may reach and illuminate the last corner of it!
If that dumb devil mentioned in the Gospel gets into your soul, he will spoil everything. On the other hand, if you get rid of him immediately, everything will turn out well; you will carry on merrily, and all will be well.
—A firm resolution: to be “savagely sincere” in spiritual direction, always keeping your good manners…, and to be sincere immediately.
Love and seek help from the person who guides your soul. In spiritual direction lay your heart completely open — rotten, if it were rotten! — with all sincerity, with the desire to be cured. If you don’t, you will never get rid of that rottenness.
If you go to someone who can only cleanse the wound superficially… you are a coward, because really you will be going along to hide the truth, doing yourself harm.
Never be afraid of telling the truth. But don’t forget that sometimes it is better to remain silent out of charity towards your neighbour. However, you should never be silent out of laziness, or love of comfort, or cowardice.
The world thrives on lies even twenty centuries after the Truth came among men.
—We have to tell the truth! This is precisely what we have to do as children of God. When men get used to proclaiming and hearing the truth, there will be more understanding in this world of ours.
It would be a false charity, a diabolical, deceitful charity, to give way in matters of faith. We must be fortes in fide — strong in faith, firm, as Saint Peter demands.
—This is not fanaticism, but quite simply the practice of our faith. It does not entail disliking anyone. We can give way in all accidental matters, but in matters of faith we cannot give way. We cannot spare the oil from our lamps, otherwise when the Bridegroom comes he will find they have burned out.
Humility and obedience are the indispensable conditions for acquiring good doctrine.
Welcome the Pope’s words with a religious, humble, internal and effective acceptance. And pass them on!
You must love, venerate, pray and mortify yourself for the Pope, and do so with greater affection each day. He is the foundation stone of the Church and, throughout the centuries, right to the end of time, he carries out among men that task of sanctifying and governing which Jesus entrusted to Peter.
Your deepest love, your greatest esteem, your most heartfelt veneration, your most complete obedience and your warmest affection have also to be shown towards the Vicar of Christ on earth, towards the Pope.
We Catholics should consider that after God and the most Blessed Virgin, our Mother, the Holy Father comes next in the hierarchy of love and authority.
May the daily consideration of the heavy burden which weighs on the Pope and the bishops move you to venerate and love them with real affection, and to help them with your prayers.
Your love for Our Lady should be more lively, more supernatural.
—Don’t just go to the Virgin Mary to ask her for things. You should also go to give!: give her your affection; give her your love for her divine Son; and show her your affection with deeds of service to others, who are also her children.
Jesus is our model. Let us imitate him.
Let us imitate him by serving the Holy Church and all mankind.
When contemplating the scene of the Incarnation, strengthen in your soul the resolve to be “humble in practice”. See how he lowered himself, taking on our poor nature.
—That is why every day you need to react, right away, with God’s grace, accepting — and wanting — the humiliations the Lord may offer you.
Live your Christian life with naturalness! Let me stress this: make Christ known through your behaviour, just as an ordinary mirror reproduces an image without distorting it or turning it into a caricature. — If, like the mirror, you are normal, you will reflect Christ’s life, and show it to others.
If you are fatuous, if all you can think of is your own personal comfort, if you centre everyone else and even the world itself on yourself, then you have no right to call yourself a Christian or to consider yourself a disciple of Christ. He set the level of what can be demanded of us when he offered, for each of us: et animam suam, his own soul, his whole life.
Try to make “intellectual humility” an axiom in your life.
Think about it carefully… Isn’t it true that it just doesn’t make sense to be “intellectually proud”? That saint and doctor of the Church put it very well when he said: “It is a detestable disorder for a man to see God become a little child, and yet still want to appear great in this world.”
The moment you have anyone — whoever he may be — at your side, find a way, without doing anything strange, to pass on to him the joy you experience in being a son of God and living as such.
The mission to serve which the Divine Master has entrusted to us is a great and beautiful mission. — That is why this good spirit —which entails great self-mastery! — is perfectly compatible with the love of freedom that should pervade the work of all Christians.
You must never treat anyone unmercifully. If you think someone is not worthy of your mercy, you should realise that neither do you deserve anything.
—You don’t deserve to have been created, or to be a Christian, or to be a son of God, or to have the family you have…
Don’t neglect the practice of fraternal correction, which is a clear sign of the supernatural virtue of charity. It’s hard; because it’s easier to be inhibited. Easier!, but not supernatural.
—And for such omissions you will have to render an account to God.
When you have to make a fraternal correction, do it with great kindness — great charity! — in what you say and in the way you say it, for at that moment you are God’s instrument.
If you know how to love other people and you spread that affection — Christ’s kindly, gentle charity — all around you, you will be able to support one another, and if someone is about to stumble he will feel that he is being supported, and also encouraged, to be faithful to God through this fraternal strength.
Bring out your spirit of mortification in those nice touches of charity, eager to make the way of sanctity in the middle of the world attractive for everyone. Sometimes a smile can be the best proof of a spirit of penance.
May you know how to put yourself out cheerfully, discreetly and generously each day, serving others and making their lives more pleasant.
—To act in this way is the true charity of Jesus Christ.
You should make sure that wherever you are there is that good humour — that cheerfulness — which is born of an interior life.
Make sure you practise this very interesting mortification: that of not making your conversation revolve around yourself.
Here is a good way of doing an examination of conscience:
—Have I accepted in a spirit of expiation the difficulties which have come to me this day from the hand of God? Or those which came from the behaviour of my colleagues? Or from my own wretchedness?
—Have I managed to offer Our Lord, in expiation, the very sorrow I feel for having offended him so many times? Have I offered him the shame of all my inner embarrassment and humiliation at seeing how little progress I make along the path of virtue?
Habitual and customary mortifications are a good thing, but don’t become one-track minded about them.
—They need not necessarily be the same ones all the time. What should be constant, habitual and customary — without your getting accustomed to it — is to have a spirit of mortification.
You want to follow in Christ’s footsteps, to wear his livery, to identify yourself with Jesus. Well then, make your faith a living faith, full of sacrifice and deeds of service, and get rid of everything that stands in the way.
Sanctity has the flexibility of supple muscles. Whoever wishes to be a saint should know how to behave so that while he does something that involves a mortification for him, he omits doing something else — as long as this does not offend God — which he would also find difficult, and thanks the Lord for this comfort. If we Christians were to act otherwise we would run the risk of becoming stiff and lifeless, like a rag doll.
Sanctity is not rigid like cardboard; it knows how to smile, to give way to others and to hope. It is life — a supernatural life.
Mother, do not leave me! Let me seek your Son, let me find your Son, let me love your Son — with my whole being! — Remember me, my Lady, remember me.