Imitate the Blessed Virgin. Only by fully admitting that we are nothing can we become precious in the eyes of our Creator.
I am convinced that John, the young Apostle, is at the side of Christ on the Cross because our Mother draws him there. The Love of Our Lady is so powerful!
We will never achieve true supernatural and human cheerfulness, real good humour, if we don’t really imitate Jesus: if we aren’t humble, as he was.
To give oneself sincerely to others is so effective that God rewards it with a humility filled with cheerfulness.
Our humiliation, our self-effacement, our disappearing and passing unnoticed, should be complete, entire, total.
Sincere humility. What can upset a person who delights in being insulted because he knows that he deserves nothing better?
My Jesus: what’s mine is yours, because what’s yours is mine, and what’s mine I abandon in you.
Are you able to undergo those humiliations which God asks of you, in matters of no importance, matters where the truth is not obscured? You are not? Then you don’t love the virtue of humility.
Pride dulls the edge of charity. Ask Our Lord each day for the virtue of humility, for you and for everyone. Because as the years go by, pride increases if it is not corrected in time.
Is there anything more displeasing than a child acting the grown-up? How can a poor man — a child — be pleasing to God if he “acts grown-up”, puffed up by pride, sure that he’s worth something and trusting only in himself?
Certainly you can go to Hell. You are convinced it could happen, for in your heart you find the seeds of all kinds of evil.
But if you become a child in front of God, that fact will bring you close to your Father God, and to your Mother, Holy Mary. And Saint Joseph and your Angel will not leave you unprotected when they see you are a child.
—Have faith. Do as much as you can. Be penitent, and be Loving! They will supply whatever else you need.
How difficult it is to live humility! As the popular wisdom of Christianity says, “Pride dies twenty-four hours after its owner.”
So when you think you’re right, against what you are being told by someone who has been given a special grace from God to guide your soul, be sure that you are completely wrong.
Serving and forming children, caring lovingly for the sick.
To make ourselves understood by simple souls, we have to humble our intelligence; to understand poor sick people we have to humble our heart. In this way, on our knees in both intellect and body, it is easy to reach Jesus along that sure way of human wretchedness, of our own wretchedness. It will lead us to make ‘a nothing’ of ourselves in order to let God build on our nothingness.
A resolution: unless I really have to, never to speak of my personal affairs.
Thank Jesus for the confidence he gives you! It’s not stubbornness, but God’s light that makes you firm as a rock. Meanwhile, others, good as they are, present a sorry picture. They seem to be sinking in the sand… They lack the foundation of the faith.
Ask Our Lord to grant that the demands of the virtue of faith may be met both in your life and in the lives of others.
If I behaved differently, if I were more in control of my character, if I were more faithful to you, Lord, how marvellously would you help us!
The longing for atonement that your Father God puts in your soul will be satisfied if you unite your poor personal expiation to the infinite merits of Jesus.
—Rectify your intention, and love suffering in him, with him, and through him.
You don’t know whether you are making progress, nor how much… But what use is such a reckoning to you?…
—What is important is that you should persevere, that your heart should be on fire, that you should see more light and wider horizons; that you should work hard for our intentions, that you should feel them as your own — even though you don’t know what they are — and that you should pray for all of them.
Tell him: Jesus, I cannot see a single perfect flower in my garden, all are blighted. It seems that all have lost their colour and their scent. Poor me! Face downwards in the muck, on the ground: that’s my place.
—That’s the way, humble yourself. He will conquer in you, and you will attain the victory.
I understood you very well when you ended up saying: “Quite honestly, I haven’t even made the grade of being a donkey — the donkey that was the throne of Jesus when he entered Jerusalem. I’m just part of a disgusting heap of dirty tatters that the poorest rag-picker would ignore.”
But I told you: all the same, God has chosen you and wants you to be his instrument. So your wretchedness — which is a genuine fact — should turn into one more reason for you to be thankful to God for calling you.
Mary’s humble song of joy, the Magnificat, recalls to our minds the infinite generosity of the Lord towards those who become like children, towards those who abase themselves and are sincerely aware that they are nothing.
God is very pleased with those who recognise his goodness by reciting the Te Deum in thanksgiving whenever something out of the ordinary happens, without caring whether it may have been good or bad, as the world reckons these things. Because everything comes from the hands of our Father: so though the blow of the chisel may hurt our flesh, it is a sign of Love, as he smooths off our rough edges and brings us closer to perfection.
When human beings have work to do they try to use the right tools for the job.
If I had lived in another century, I would have written with a quill pen: now I use a fountain pen.
But when God wants to carry out some piece of work, he uses unsuitable means, so that it can be seen that the work is his. How often you have heard me say this!
So you and I, who are aware of the massive weight of our failings, should tell Our Lord: “Wretched as I am, I still understand that in your hands I am a divine instrument.”
We will dedicate all the exertions of our life, great and small, to the honour of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
—I am moved when I recall the work of those brilliant professionals — two engineers and two architects — cheerfully moving furniture into a student residence. When they had put a blackboard into a classroom, the first thing those four artists wrote was: Deo omnis gloria! — all the glory to God.
—Jesus, I know that this pleased you greatly.
Wherever you may happen to be, remember that the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. Be sure that anyone who wants to follow him cannot attempt to act in any other way.
God has a special right over us, his children: it is the right to our response to his love, in spite of our failings. This inescapable truth puts us under an obligation which we cannot shirk. But it also gives us complete confidence: we are instruments in the hands of God, instruments that he relies on every day. That is why, every day, we struggle to serve him.
God expects his instruments to do what they can to be fit and ready: you should strive to make sure you are always fit and ready.
I have come to see that every Hail Mary, every greeting to Our Lady, is a new beat of a heart in love.
Our life — a Christian’s life — has to be as ordinary as this: trying every day to do well those very things it is our duty to do; carrying out our divine mission in the world by fulfilling the little duty of each moment.
—Or rather, struggling to fulfil it. Sometimes we don’t manage, and when night comes, in our examination, we’ll have to tell Our Lord, “I am not offering you virtues; today I can only offer you defects. But with your grace I will be able to count myself a victor.”
I wish with all my heart that God, in his mercy, in spite of your sins (may you never offend Jesus again!), may make you “constantly live that blessed life which is to love his Will”.
In God’s service there are no unimportant posts: all are of great importance.
—The importance of the post depends on the spiritual level reached by the person filling it.
Aren’t you glad to have the sure confidence that God is interested in even the tiniest details of his creatures?
Show him again that you really want to be his. “O Jesus, help me. Make me really yours; may I burn and be consumed, by dint of little things that no one notices.”
The Holy Rosary: the joys, the sorrows, and the glories of the life of Our Lady weave a crown of praises, repeated ceaselessly by the Angels and the Saints in Heaven — and by those who love our Mother here on earth.
—Practise this holy devotion every day, and spread it.
Baptism makes us fideles, faithful. This is a word that was used — like sancti, the saints — by the first followers of Jesus to refer to one another. These words are still used today: we speak of the faithful of the Church.
—Think about this.
God does not let himself be outdone in generosity. Be very sure that he grants faithfulness to those who give themselves to him.
Don’t be afraid to be demanding on yourself. Many souls do so in their hidden life, so that only Jesus may shine out.
I wish you and I would react as that person did who wanted to be very close to God, on the feast of the Holy Family. In those days it was celebrated within the octave of the Epiphany.
—“I have had a number of little crosses. There was one yesterday that hurt so much it made me weep. Today it made me think that my Father and Lord Saint Joseph, and my Mother, Holy Mary, won’t have left this child of theirs without its Christmas present. The present was the light that made me see my thanklessness to Jesus in my failing to correspond to his grace; and to see how mistaken I was to resist, by my boorish behaviour, the most Holy Will of God, who wants me as his instrument.”
When the holy women reached the tomb, they found that the stone had been rolled aside.
This is what always happens! When we make up our minds to do what we should, the difficulties are easily overcome.
Be convinced that if you do not learn to obey you will never be effective.
When you are told what to do, let no one show more alacrity than you in obeying; whether it is hot or cold, whether you feel keen or are tired, whether you are young or less so, it makes no odds.
Someone who “does not know how to obey” will never learn to command.
It’s gross ineptitude for a Director to be content with a soul rendering four when it could be rendering twelve.
You have to obey — and you have to command — always with great love.
I would like — help me with your prayer — all of us within Holy Church to feel that we are members of the same body, as the Apostle asks of us. I would like us to be vividly and profoundly aware, without any lack of interest, of the joys, the troubles, the progress of our Mother who is one, holy, catholic, apostolic, Roman.
I would like us to live in unison with one another and all of us with Christ.
Convince yourself, my child, that lack of unity within the Church is death.
Pray to God that in the Holy Church, our Mother, the hearts of all may be one heart, as they were in the earliest times of Christianity; so that the words of Scripture may be truly fulfilled until the end of the ages: Multitudinis autem credentium erat cor unum et anima una — the company of the faithful were of one heart and one soul.
—I am saying this to you in all seriousness: may this holy unity not come to any harm through you. Take it to your prayer!
Faithfulness to the Pope includes a clear and definite duty: that of knowing his thought, which he tells us in Encyclicals or other documents. We have to do our part to help all Catholics pay attention to the teaching of the Holy Father, and bring their everyday behaviour into line with it.
I pray every day with all my heart that God may give us the gift of tongues. Such a gift of tongues does not mean knowing a number of languages, but knowing how to adapt oneself to the capacities of one’s hearers.
—It’s not a question of “saying foolish things to the crowd so that they understand”, but of speaking words of wisdom in clear Christian speech that all can understand.
—This is the gift of tongues that I ask of Our Lord and of his Holy Mother for all their children.
The malice of a few and the ignorance of many — this is the enemy of God and of the Church.
—Let us confound the wicked, and enlighten the minds of the ignorant… With God’s help , and with our effort, we will save the world.
We have to try to ensure that in all fields of intellectual activity there are upright people, people with a true Christian conscience, who are consistent in their lives, who can use the weapons of knowledge in the service of humanity and of the Church.
Because in the world there will always be, as there were when Jesus came on earth, new Herods who try to make use of scientific knowledge — even if they have to falsify it — to persecute Christ and those who belong to him.
What a great task we have ahead of us!
In your work with souls — and all your activity should be work with souls — be filled with faith, with hope, with love, because all the difficulties will be overcome.
To confirm this truth for us, the Psalmist wrote: Et tu, Domine, deridebis eos: ad nihilum deduces omnes gentes — You, O Lord, will laugh at them: You will bring them to nothing.
These words confirm those other words: Non praevalebunt; the enemies of God shall not prevail. They will not have any power against the Church, nor against those who serve the Church as instruments of God.
Our Holy Mother the Church, in a magnificent extension of love, is scattering the seed of the Gospel throughout the world; from Rome to the outposts of the earth.
—As you help in this work of expansion throughout the whole world, bring those in the outposts to the Pope, so that the earth may be one flock and one Shepherd: one apostolate!
Regnare Christum volumus!: we want Christ to reign. Deo omnis gloria!: all the glory to God.
This ideal of warring, and winning, with Christ’s weapons will only become a reality through prayer and sacrifice, through faith and Love.
—Well, then…: pray, believe, suffer, Love!
The work of the Church, each day, is a great fabric which we offer to God: because all of us who are baptised are the Church.
—If we carry out our tasks faithfully and selflessly, this great fabric will be beautiful and flawless. But if someone loosens a thread here, someone else a thread there, and another somewhere else… instead of a beautiful fabric we will have a tattered rag.
Why don’t you make up your mind to make that fraternal correction? Receiving one hurts, because it is hard to humble oneself, at least to begin with. But making a fraternal correction is always hard. Everyone knows this.
Making fraternal corrections is the best way to help, after prayer and good example.
Because of the trust He has placed in you, by bringing you to the Church, you ought to have the balance, the calm, the strength, the human and supernatural prudence of a mature person, that many acquire with the passing of the years.
Don’t forget that Christian, as we learnt in the Catechism, means a man or woman who has the faith of Jesus Christ.
You want to be strong? Then first realise that you are very weak. After that, trust in Christ, your Father, your Brother, your Teacher. He makes us strong, entrusting to us the means with which to conquer — the sacraments. Live them!
I understood you very well when you confessed to me: I want to steep myself in the liturgy of the Holy Mass.
How great is the value of piety in the Holy Liturgy!
I was not at all surprised when someone said to me a few days ago, talking about a model priest who had died recently: “What a saint he was!”
—“Did you know him well?” I asked.
—“No,” she said, “but I once saw him saying Mass.”
Since you call yourself a Christian, you have to live the Sacred Liturgy of the Church, putting genuine care into your prayer and mortification for priests — especially for new priests — on the days marked out for this intention, and when you know that they are to receive the Sacrament of Order.
Offer your prayer, your atonement, and your action for this end: ut sint unum! — that all of us Christians may share one will, one heart, one spirit. This is so that omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam — that we may all go to Jesus, closely united to the Pope, through Mary.
You ask me, my child, what you can do to make me very pleased with you.
—If Our Lord is satisfied with you, then I am too. And you can know that He is happy with you, by the peace and joy in your heart.
A clear mark of the man of God, of the woman of God, is the peace in their souls: they have peace and they give peace to the people they have dealings with.
Get used to replying to those poor “haters”, when they pelt you with stones, by pelting them with Hail Marys.
Don’t worry if your work seems barren just now. When it is holiness that is being sown, it is not lost: others will gather in the harvest.
Even though you gain little light in your prayer, even though it seems laboured, dry… you should consider, with a sure, ever-new insight, that you need to persevere in every detail of your life of piety.
You grew in the face of difficulties in the apostolate when you prayed: “Lord, You are the same as ever. Give me the faith of those men who knew how to correspond to your grace, who worked great miracles, real marvels, in your Name…” And you finished off: “I know that you will do it; but I also know that you want to be asked. You want to be sought out. You want us to knock hard at the doors of your Heart.”
—At the end you renewed your resolve to persevere in humble and trusting prayer.
When you are troubled… and also in the hour of success, say again and again, “Lord, don’t let go of me, don’t leave me, help me as you would a clumsy child; always lead me by the hand!”
Aquae multae non potuerunt exstinguere caritatem!! — the great turmoil of waters could not quench the fire of charity. —I offer you two interpretations of these words of Holy Scripture. —First: the throng of your past sins, now that you have fully repented of them, will not take you away from the Love of our God; and a second one: the waters of misunderstanding, the difficulties that you are perhaps encountering, should not interrupt your apostolic work.
Work on to the end, to the very end! My child, qui perseveraverit usque in finem, hic salvus erit — it is the one who perseveres right to the end who will be saved.
—We children of God have the means we need: you too! We will finish, we will top out our building, for we can do all things in Him who strengthens us.
—With God there are no impossibles. They are overcome always.
Sometimes the immediate future is full of worries, if we stop seeing things in a supernatural way.
—So, faith, my child, faith… and more deeds. In that way it is certain that our Father-God will continue to solve your problems.
God’s ordinary providence is a continual miracle; but He will use extraordinary means when they are required.
Christian optimism is not a sugary optimism; nor is it a mere human confidence that everything will turn out all right.
It is an optimism that sinks its roots in an awareness of our freedom, and in the sure knowledge of the power of grace. It is an optimism which leads us to make demands on ourselves, to struggle to respond at every moment to God’s calls.
The Lord’s triumph, on the day of the Resurrection, is final. Where are the soldiers the rulers posted there? Where are the seals that were fixed to the stone of the tomb? Where are those who condemned the Master? Where are those who crucified Jesus?… He is victorious, and faced with his victory those poor wretches have all taken flight.
Be filled with hope: Jesus Christ is always victorious.
If you look for Mary, you will necessarily find Jesus; and you will learn, in greater and greater depth, what there is in the Heart of God.
When you are preparing for a work of apostolate, make your own these words of a man who was seeking God: “Today I start to preach a retreat for priests. God grant we may draw profit from it — and, first of all, myself!”
—And later: “I have been on this retreat for several days now. There are a hundred and twenty on it. I hope that Our Lord will do good work in our souls.”
My child, it’s worth your while being humble, obedient, loyal. Drench yourself in the spirit of God, to carry it from where you are, from your place of work, to all the peoples that fill the earth!
During a war, the courage of the soldiers facing the enemy would be of little use if there were not others who seem to take no part in the struggle but who supply the fighting men with armaments and food and medicines…
—Without the prayer and sacrifice of many souls there would be no genuine apostolate of action.
The power of working miracles! How many dead — and even rotting — souls you will raise, if you let Christ act in you.
In those days, the Gospel tells us, the Lord was passing by; and they, the sick, called to him and sought him out. Now, too, Christ is passing by, in your Christian life. If you second him, many will come to know him, will call to him, will ask him for help: and their eyes will be opened to the marvellous light of grace.
You insist on doing your own thing, and so your work is barren.
Obey: be docile. Each cog in a machine must be put in its place. If not, the machine stops, or the parts get damaged. It will surely not produce anything, or if it does, then very little. In the same way, a man or a woman outside his or her proper field of action, will be more of a hindrance than an instrument of apostolate.
The apostle has no aim other than letting God work, making himself available.
The first Twelve, too, were foreigners in the lands where they taught the Gospel. They came up against people who were building the world on foundations diametrically opposed to Christ’s doctrine.
—Look: despite these adverse circumstances, they knew that they had been entrusted with the divine message of the Redemption. And so the Apostle cries, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”
The co-redeeming — eternal! — efficacy of our lives can only become real with humility, passing unnoticed, so that others can discover Him.
The children of God ought to be, with their apostolic action, like those great lighting systems that fill the world with light, but the source is not seen.
Jesus says: “He who hears you hears me.”
—Do you still think it is your words that convince people?… Don’t forget either that the Holy Spirit can carry out his plans with the most useless instrument.
Saint Ambrose has some words that fit the children of God marvellously well! He is speaking of the ass’s colt, tethered to its dam, which Jesus needed for his triumph: “Only an order of the Lord could untie it”, he says. “It was set loose by the hands of the Apostles. To do such a deed, one needs a special way of living and a special grace. You too must be an apostle, to set free those who are captive.”
—Let me comment on this text for you once more. How often, upon a word from Jesus, will we have to loosen souls from their bonds, because he needs them for his triumph! May our hands be apostles’ hands, and our actions, and our lives also. Then God will give us an apostle’s grace, too, to break the fetters of those who are enchained.
We can never attribute to ourselves the power of Jesus who is passing by amongst us. Our Lord is passing by: and he transforms souls when we come close to him with one heart, one feeling, one desire: to be good Christians. But it is he who does it: not you nor I. It is Christ who is passing by!
—And then he stays in our hearts — in yours and in mine! — and in our tabernacles.
—Jesus is passing by, and Jesus comes to stay. He stays in you, in each one of you, and in me.
Our Lord wants to make us co-redeemers with him.
That is why to help us understand this marvel, he moves the evangelists to tell us of so many great wonders. He could have produced bread from anything… but he doesn’t! He looks for human co-operation: he needs a child, a boy, a few pieces of bread and some fish.
He needs you and me: and he is God! This should move us to be generous in our corresponding with his grace.
If you help him, even with a trifle, as the Apostles did, He is ready to work miracles; to multiply the bread, to reform wills, to give light to the most benighted minds, to enable those who have never been upright to be so, with an extraordinary grace.
All this he will do… and more, if you will help him with what you have.
Jesus has died. He is a corpse. Those holy women had no expectations. They had seen how he had been abused, and how he had been crucified. How vivid in their minds was the violence of the Passion he had undergone!
They knew, too, that the soldiers were keeping watch over the place. They knew that the tomb was sealed shut: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door?” they asked themselves, for it was a massive slab. But all the same…, in spite of everything, they went to be with him.
Look: difficulties, large and small, can be seen at once… But if there is love, one pays no heed to those obstacles: one goes ahead with daring, with conviction, with courage. Don’t you have to confess your shame when you contemplate the drive, the daring and the courage of these women?
Mary, your Mother, will bring you to the Love of Jesus. There you will be cum gaudio et pace, with joy and peace. And you will be always “brought”, because on your own you would fall and get covered with mud: you will be brought onward, brought to believe, to love, and to suffer.