There are many Christians who are persuaded that the Redemption will be completed in all environments of the world, and that there have to be some souls — they do not know which ones — who will contribute to carrying it out with Christ. But they think it will take centuries, many centuries. It would be an eternity, if it were to take place at the rate of their self-giving.

That was the way you yourself thought, until someone came to “wake you up”.

Self-giving is the first step along the road of sacrifice, joy, love, union with God. —And so an entire life is filled with a holy madness which makes us find happiness where human logic would only see denial, suffering, pain.

“Pray”, you said, “that I may be generous, that I may progress, and come to change in such a way that one day I may be useful in something.”

Good. —But what means are you using so that these resolutions can be effective?

You often ask yourself why souls who have had the great fortune of knowing the true Jesus ever since their childhood, hesitate so much in responding with the best they have: their life, their family, their ideals.

Look: you are bound to show yourself very grateful to the Lord, precisely because you have received ‘everything’ in one go. Just as it would strike a blind man if he suddenly recovered his sight, while it does not even occur to others to give thanks because they see.

But that is not enough. You have to help those around you, daily, to behave with gratitude for their being sons of God. If you don’t, don’t tell me you are grateful.

Meditate on this slowly: I am asked for very little compared to how much I am being given.

As you never seem to manage to set off, consider what a brother of yours wrote to me: “It takes an effort, but once you have ‘made up your mind’, how you gasp with happiness when you find yourself firmly on your way!”

“These days”, you were saying, “have been the happiest in my life.” —And I answered you without hesitation: that is because you ‘have lived’ with a little more self-giving than usual.

The Lord’s calling — vocation — always presents itself like this: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Yes: a vocation demands self-denial, sacrifice. But how pleasant that sacrifice turns out to be — gaudium cum pace, joy and peace — if that self-giving is complete!

When they talked to him about committing himself personally, his reaction was to reason in the following manner: “If I did, I could do that…, I would have to do this other… ”

—The answer he got was: “Here, we don’t bargain with the Lord. The law of God, the invitation of the Lord, is something you either take or leave, just as it is. You need to make up your mind: go forward, fully decided and without holding back; otherwise, go away. Qui non est mecum… — whoever is not with Me, is against Me.”

Between lack of generosity and lukewarmness there is only one step.

I am copying this example of cowardice from a letter so that you will not imitate it: “I am certainly very grateful to you for keeping me in mind, because I need many prayers. But I would also be grateful if, when you ask Our Lord to make me an ‘apostle’, you would not insist on asking him to make me surrender my freedom.”

That acquaintance of yours, very intelligent, well off, a good man, used to say: “You have to do what the law says, but within limits, doing what is strictly necessary, without going too far.”

And he would add: “You shouldn’t sin, of course, but there is no need to give up everything.”

How sad it is to see men who are mean, calculating, incapable of making any sacrifice, of giving themselves wholeheartedly to a noble ideal.

More should be asked of you, because you can give more and you should give more. Think about it.

“It’s very difficult”, you exclaim, disheartened.

Listen, if you make an effort, with the grace of God that is enough. Put your own interests to one side, you will serve others for God, and you will come to the aid of the Church in the field where the battles are being fought today: in the street, in the factory, in the workshop, in the university, in the office, in your own surroundings, amongst your family and friends.

You wrote to me saying: “In the end, it’s the same as ever, a great lack of generosity. What a pity, what a shame, to find the way and then allow a few — inevitable — clouds of dust to obscure the goal!”

Don’t be annoyed if I tell you that you are the only one to blame: struggle courageously against yourself. The means you have are more than enough.

If your selfishness leads you away from the ordinary desire for the holy and healthy well-being of mankind, if you count the cost or if you are not moved by the wretched material or moral condition of your neighbour, you force me to reproach you strongly, so that you can do something about it. If you do not feel a holy fraternity with your fellow men, and you live on the margin of the great Christian family, you are just a pitiful waif.

The summit? For a soul which has surrendered itself, everything becomes a summit to conquer. Every day it discovers new goals, because it does not know how, or want, to limit the love of God.

The more generous you are for God, the happier you will be.

We often feel tempted to reserve a bit of time for ourselves alone.

Learn once and for all to remedy such meanness, by putting things right immediately.

You were one of those “all or nothing” types. And as you could do nothing… what a misfortune!

Begin to fight humbly, to light up that poor self-giving of yours, which is so mean, until it becomes “all” effective.

Those of us who have dedicated ourselves to God, have lost nothing.

I would like to speak very loudly into the ear of so many men and women: giving up one’s children to the service of God is not a sacrifice: it is an honour and a joy.

A time of hard trial arrived for him, and he came to you grief-stricken.

—Do you remember? For him — the friend who used to give you his “prudent” advice — your behaviour was only a utopia, the result of deformed ideas, manipulation of wills, and… other “cleverness” of that type.

—“This self-giving to the Lord”, he would assert, “is an abnormal excitement of the religious sentiment.” And with his faulty reasoning, he thought that between your family and you a stranger had entered: Christ.

Now he has understood what you told him so often: Christ never separates souls.

Here is an urgent task: to stir up the consciences of believers and non-believers — to gather together men of good will — who are willing to help and to provide the material instruments which are needed for the work with souls.

He shows a great deal of enthusiasm and understanding. But when he realises that it refers to him, and that it is he who has to contribute in earnest, he slinks away like a coward.

It reminds me of those who, during moments of grave danger, used to shout with false courage: War! War! But they did not want to give any money or to enrol to defend their country.

It is sad to see what some people understand by almsgiving: a few pennies or some old clothes. They seem not to have read the Gospel.

Don’t be over-cautious: help people to acquire sufficient faith and fortitude to be ready to deny themselves generously, in this life, what they need.

And to those who lag behind, explain that it is neither very noble nor very graceful, even from an earthly point of view, to wait for the last moment, when they will be obliged to take nothing with them.

“Whoever lends anything, never gets it back; if he does get it back, it will never be the full amount; and if so, it won’t be exactly right; but if it is exactly right, he’ll be an enemy for life.”

Well then?… Give!, without counting the cost, and always for God. In this way you will live, even humanly speaking, closer to the rest of humanity, and you will make your contribution and the number of the ungrateful will be less.

I saw a blush on the face of that simple man; he was almost in tears. He had contributed generously to good works, giving honest money which he himself had earned, and then he heard that “good people” had called his actions dishonest.

With the candidness of a beginner in these battles of God, he murmured: “They see that I make a sacrifice… and they still sacrifice me!”

—I talked to him slowly: he kissed my crucifix, and his natural indignation was changed into peace and joy.

Don’t you have that mad desire to give yourself more completely, more irrevocably?

How ridiculous is the attitude of us poor little human beings when we deny the Lord such trifles again and again! As time goes by, and we begin to see things in their true perspective, then shame and sorrow are born.

Aure audietis, et non intelligetis: et videntes videbitis, et non perspicietis. These are the clear words of the Holy Spirit: they hear with their own ears, and they do not understand; they see with their own eyes, but they do not perceive.

Why worry if some, although they see the apostolate and they know how great it is, still do not give themselves to it? Pray in peace, and persevere along your way. If they don’t want to set out, there will be others!

Ever since you said Yes, time has broadened your horizons, giving them new and brighter colours and making them more beautiful every day. But you have to continue saying Yes.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Teacher of unlimited self-giving. Do you remember? It was in praise of her that Jesus Christ said: “Whoever fulfils the Will of my Father, he — she — is my mother!…”

Ask of this good Mother that her answer, with the generosity it shows, may grow stronger in your soul — with the strength of love and liberation. Ecce ancilla Domini — behold the handmaid of the Lord.

References to Holy Scripture
References to Holy Scripture
References to Holy Scripture
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