The True Redemptorist

by St. Alphonsus Ligouri

 

THE end of the Institute of the most Holy Redeemer is to follow as closely as possible the footsteps and examples of Jesus Christ, whose life in this world was one of detachment and mortification, full of sufferings and contempt.

It is therefore necessary for one who resolves to enter our Congregation to resolve at the same time to suffer and to deny himself in all things, according to the declaration of Jesus Himself, who says to those who wish to follow Him perfectly: Si quis vult post me venire, ab neget semetipsum, tollat crucem suam, et sequatur me (Matth. xvi. 24). Whoever would enter our Congregation must be -in the resolution to suffer, and to suffer much so that he may not later give way to temptations, and feel himself oppressed by the sufferings and inconveniences of the poor and mortified life which is led in our Congregation.

There are many who, on entering a fervent community, do not take the true means of finding their peace, and of becoming saints; for this reason, they look only at the advantages which the community offers: the solitude, the quiet, the freedom from disturbances, from family ties, dissensions, the bondage of the world, and from the necessity of thinking about their lodging, food, and clothing.

There is no doubt that on this point we are all under very great obligations to the Congregation, which delivers us from so many cares, and provides us with so many means of serving God perfectly in peace, furnishing each one, as it does continually, with so many aids for his spiritual good, so many good examples in his brethren, so much advice from his Superiors who are ever watching over him for his welfare, and with so many exercises which are profitable for eternal life.

All this is true: nevertheless, at the same time there must be a firm resolution, in order not to lose so happy a lot, of embracing all the sufferings which are, on the other hand, met in the Congregation; for if these are not lovingly accepted, there will not be that fulness of peace which God grants only to those overcome themselves in order to please Vincenti dabo manna absconditum (Apoc. ii, 17). The peace which God allows His faithservants to enjoy is hidden; it is not understood by the world, which, when it sees their mortified life, is not inclined to envy them, pities and calls them miserable persons. as St. Bernard remarks, crucem vident, unctionem non vident. They see their mortification, they do not see the happiness which God vouchsafes them.
It is true that the spiritual life brings with it suffering; but St. Theresa says: “Once resolved to suffer, there is no more pain”; nay, even the pains themselves become joys. “Daughter,” said our Lord one day to St. Bridget, “my treasure-house appears surrounded with thorns; but for him who will overcome the first prickings all is changed into sweetness.” And, then, the delights which God allows His cherished souls to taste, in their meditations, in their Communions, in their holy solitude, those lights, those holy ardors, that close union with Himself, the peace of conscience, that blessed hope of eternal life who can understand them save he who has experienced them?

 

St. Theresa said that “one single drop of consolation from God is worth more than all the consolations and delights of the world.” God, who is most bountiful, well knows how to grant to him who suffers in order to please Him, a foretaste of eternal blessedness, even in this valley of tears; and it is thus that David’s words are fulfilled: Qui fingis in laborem in precepto (Ps. xciii. 20). When our Lord announces to us the pains and weariness, and even death itself, which accompany the spiritual life, it would seem as if He imposed on us that which was painful; but in reality it is not so, since the spiritual life brings with it, to him who gives himself wholly to God, that peace which, as St. Paul says, cxsuperat omnem sensum (Phil. iv. 7). This peace surpasses all the pleasures of the world and of worldlings. And thus we see a member of our Congregation happier in his poor room than all kings in their palaces. Gustate et videte quoniam suavis est Dominus (Ps. xxxiii, 9). He who has not made the trial cannot understand it.

 

On the other hand, we must be well persuaded that no one, even if he has already entered the Congregation, will ever enjoy this true peace if he is not resolved to suffer, and if he will not overcome himself in what is distasteful.

It is therefore necessary for one who would belong to the Congregation of the most Holy Redeemer to enter with a resolute will to overcome himself in all things, and to banish from his heart every inclination and desire which is not from God and for God. Hence he must practice detachment in everything, and principally in four points: 1. Detachment from the comforts of life; 2. from his relatives; 3. from self-esteem; 4. from self-will.

1. And first, with regard to comforts. In the Congregation, after the year’s novitiate, besides the vows of chastity and obedience, and besides the vow and oath of perseverance from which the Pope or Rector Major alone can dispense, we make also the vow of poverty, and renouncement of all dignities, offices, and benefices. According to this vow of poverty (as the Rule explains) no one can ever possess anything as his own, not even a pin, neither income nor money, nor anything whatsoever.

But the vow of poverty will not itself suffice to make a subject a true follower of Jesus Christ, if he does not embrace with pleasure, spiritually speaking, all the inconveniences which poverty brings with it. St. Bernard says, Non paupertas, sed amor paupertatis virtus est; and his meaning is, that in order to become a saint it is not sufficient merely to be poor, if we do not also love the difficulties of poverty. Oh, how many, says the pious Thomas a Kempis, would wish to be poor and like to Jesus Christ, but without wanting for anything! Volunt esse pauperes, sed sine defectu. They would have, in a word, the honor and reward of poverty, but not the inconveniences of poverty. One can easily understand that no one in the Congregation will seek for superfluities, such as clothes of silk, choice dishes, valuable furniture, and the like; but he will desire what is necessary, and what perhaps may be wanting to him.

But here is the proof whether a religious really loves poverty, if when he is in want of what is really necessary, such as necessary clothing, blankets, food, he remains contented and does not trouble himself. What kind of poverty would he endure, who should want for nothing that was necessary? Father Balthazar Alvarez, of the Society of Jesus, said that in order to love poverty it was necessary to love also the effects of poverty, that is (as he specifies them), frigus, famen, sitim, et contemptum.

In the Congregation, the Rule requires, with regard to our bed, that we should sleep on straw, and that the blankets should be of common wool. As to clothes, these, as well as the stockings, must be woolen; shirts, etc., of coarse linen. With regard to all such things, each one must not only be satisfied with whatever is given to him, without ever asking for anything which the officials of the Community may have forgotten to furnish him with (for this would be a great fault), but he must be prepared to suffer, now and then, the want even of those poor things which the Rule allows. And this especially in the actual foundations: as these are quite recent, and do not yet enjoy the income promised by the founders on their death, the Congregation is not able to provide the sujects even with the little above mentioned.

Hence it happens sometimes that there is a lack of something in regard of clothing, bedcovering, linen, food, and the like: we must manage as we can. Each one must be contented with the little that is given him, without complaining or becoming troubled, when he sees that he is in want of something which is even necessary. He who would not have this spirit ought not to think of entering the Congregation, for he shows that he is not called to it, or that he has not the will to embrace the spirit of the Institute. “He who enters the house of God to serve Him,” says St. Theresa, “must remember that he has not come to be well treated by God, but to suffer for the love of God.”

 

2. In the second place, he who would enter the Congregation must detach himself from, and entirely forget, his relatives, because detachment from relatives is practiced in the Congregation in the highest degree, in order that the teaching of Jesus Christ may be wholly followed, who says, Non veni pacem mittere, sed gladium: veni enim separare hominem adversus patrem suum, etc. (Matth. x. 34). And He gives the reason, inimici hominis domestici ejus. For when there is question of religious vocation and of leaving the world, relatives are especially the greatest opponents, who, either through interested motives or disorderly affection, are content to make themselves the enemies of God by dissuading their children from their vocation, rather than give their consent.

Oh, how many parents shall we see condemned in the Valley of Josaphat for being the cause of loss of vocation to their children or relatives! And how many children likewise condemned, who, to please their parents, and in order not to leave them, lost their vocation, and with it their soul! Hence Jesus warns us: Qui non odit patrem, . . . non potest esse meus discipulus (Luc. xiv. 26). Therefore he who wishes to belong to the Congregation of the most Holy Redeemer, and to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, must entirely forget his relatives.

Later, when he has entered the Congregation, he must know that he will be obliged to practice the same detachment. He will not be able to go to his home, except in the case of mortal sickness of father or mother, or of some other urgent necessity; and even then always with the permission of the Superior. Except in these cases, it would be considered a serious and scandalous fault for anyone to go to his home without express permission. Moreover, to ask permission, or to show a desire to see or speak with relatives, is considered in the Congregation to be a great defect.

St. Charles Borromeo said that whenever he went to his family he always returned less fervent. And so, whoever goes to his relatives by his own will, and not through express obedience to his Superiors, should be persuaded that he will return either tempted or less fervent; for even if he had been ten years in the Congregation, his relatives would not easily abstain from tempting him to return to them. Even if it were not so, he will come back from his home at least disquieted by some passion or other. Wherefore each one must know-and let him not be offended when he sees this enforced in his regard-that he will never be permitted in the Congregation to go to his family alone, but that a companion will be given him; and this is strictly enforced for every one.

Moreover, no one can write to his relatives or friends without permission and without showing the letter to the Rector. To do so would be a very great fault, which is not tolerated in the Congregation, and. which is severely punished, as it would lead to many irregularities which would ruin the Congregation. But they especially who have just entered the Institute should know that this rule is more strictly observed during the year of novitiate, as during this time the novices are not easily allowed to speak with, or to write to, their relatives.

It must also be understood that should a subject fall ill, it would be a serious fault for him to ask, or to show an inclination, to go and get well at home, under the pretext of having better attendance and of enjoying his native air. Home air is almost always, and indeed always, injurious and pestilential for the religious spirit of the subjects. And if he should allege that he wished to go to his home to be cured, so as not to cause expense to the Congregation, let him be persuaded that the Congregation takes every care of the sick and shows them the greatest charity. As for change of air, the Superiors will see to it, and will send him to another house if the air where he is does not suit him; and as for remedies, we sell our books when it is necessary in order to cure our sick subjects. And thus he need not doubt that Divine Providence will come to his assistance.

And even if God wills that he should not recover, he must conform himself to His holy Will, and not speak of his home. The chief desire of one who enters the Congregation should be to die when God pleases, in the house of God, assisted by his brothers of the Congregation, and not indeed at his worldly home in the midst of his relatives.

 

3. Thirdly, he must be entirely detached from all self-esteem. There are many who leave their home, their comforts, their relatives, but arrive bringing with them’ self, inasmuch as they are attached to their own good name. Such attachment would be the worst of all. Here is the greatest sacrifice that we have to offer to God, the giving up, not only of our property, our pleasures, our home, but of ourselves. This is that denial of self which Jesus Christ recommended more than all else to His followers; and for this self-denial it is necessary that each one should begin by treading under foot all self-esteem, and should have the desire to embrace all imaginable contempt which he may receive in the Congregation: as, for instance, in seeing others put before him whom he considers to be less deserving than himself; in seeing himself left without any employment, as good for nothing, or in being employed in the lowest and most laborious offices.

It must be understood, that in the house of God those offices are the highest and most honorable, which are imposed by obedience. God forbid, that anyone should ask for, or show the desire of having, some office or employment of pre-eminence: this would be a strange thing in the Congregation. Any such subject would be considered a proud and ambitious person, and as such would receive severe penance, and would be well mortified in this very point. It would be better perhaps to destroy the Congregation than to allow the cursed pest of ambition to enter it, which if ever it enters, deforms the most renowned communities and the most beautiful works of God. By the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we do not see in this our little Congregation, and let us hope we may never see, the scandal of a subject seeking for some employment which might give him a name, such as that of superior, preacher, or confessor, and the like.

On the contrary, a subject ought to feel interiorly consoled when he sees himself ridiculed or despised by his companions. I say interiorly, because it is not possible that nature should not feel this; and he must not become disquieted when he perceives that such is the case: it is enough if he interiorly accepts the humiliation, and rejoices in it in the superior part of the soul.

In like manner, when he sees himself continually reproved and mortified by all-not merely by the Superiors, but also by his companions and his inferiors-he ought heartily and calmly to thank him who reproves and has the charity to warn him, and to reply that will be more careful for the future not to fall into the same fault.

One of the most ardent desires of the Saints this world was to see themselves despised for the love of Jesus Christ. St. John of the Cross sought for this when Jesus in His Passion appeared to him and said, Joannes, pete quid vis a me; and St. John answered Him, Domine, pati et contemni pro te. The Doctors teach with St. Francis of Sales that the highest degree of humility is to delight in abjections and humiliations. And this is one of the greatest merits we can acquire in the sight of God. Some contempt suffered with patience for the love of God will have more value in His eyes than a thousand disciplines and a thousand sermons.

We must know that even in the most holy communities it is inevitable that we should have to bear some slight either from the Superiors or from our companions. Read the Lives of the Saints. How many mortifications did they not receive, as, for instance, St. John Francis Regis, St. Francis of Jerome, Father Torres, and others! Almighty God permits that sometimes even among saints there should exist certain natural antipathies, without any fault of theirs, or certain differences of tastes and character among those subjects who are more advanced in piety, which will give occasion to many contradictions. Again, it frequently happens that things will be believed which are not true. God Himself will permit this, in order that the subjects may exercise themselves in the practice of humility and patience.

In short, a subject who does not bear patiently contempt and contradictions will gain little, rather he will lose much, in the Congregation. And therefore he who enters the Congregation in order to give himself wholly to God, should feel ashamed not to know how to endure a humiliation, when he finds himself in the presence of Jesus Christ, who was “filled with contempt,” saturatus opprobriis, for the love of us. Each one must pay great attention to this point, and must be resolved to delight in all kinds of humiliations, and must prepare himself to endure many in the Congregation, for without doubt many will fall to his share; for without such resolution the disquiet which arises from contradictions and humiliations badly endured, might trouble him to such a degree, as to make him lose his vocation, and drive him out of the Congregation.

How many are there who for want of this patience in humiliations have lost their vocation! But of what use to this Congregation or to God would a subject be who did not know how to endure some slight for the love of God? And how can he be said to be dead to himself, as he promised Jesus Christ so to die when he entered the Congregation, if he continues to feel so keenly and with so much disquiet the humiliations he may receive? Away, then, from the Congregation of the most Holy Redeemer those subjects who are so attached to their own self-esteem! Yes, far away. It is good that they should leave as soon as possible, so as not to infect the others with the contagion of their pride. In the Congregation every subject must be, as it were, dead, and especially dead to self-esteem: otherwise it is far better not to think of joining the Congregation, or, if he be already in it, to leave it.

 

4. He who enters the Congregation must absolutely give up his own will, and consecrate it without reserve to holy obedience. This quality is the most necessary of all. Of what use is it to leave comforts, and relatives, and honors, and then to bring into the Congregation one’s own will? Renouncement of self consists especially in this: in dying spiritually, and in giving one’s self entirely to Jesus Christ. That which is most pleasing to Jesus Christ, and which He seeks for more than all from the subjects of this Congregation, is the gift of their heart, that is, of their own will. Without that, all the mortifications will avail but little: and the same is true of prayers and of all other detachments, if there be not the entire detachment from, and absolute renouncement of, their own will. It is evident that in this we can gain the greatest merit in the sight of God; and it is the only sure way of pleasing God in all things, because then each one can say with Jesus Christ, our Saviour, Ego quae placita sunt ei facio semper (John viii. 29).

It is certain that he who lives in the Congregation without any will of his own, is able to say and to hope, that whatever he does, whether he studies, or prays, or hears confessions, or goes to the refectory, or to recreation, or to bed, he is pleasing Almighty God. For in the Congregation there is not a step or a movement which does not spring from obedience either to the rules or to the Superiors.

The world does not understand, and even certain pious persons do not understand, the value of a life of obedience in a community. It is true that outside of religious communities many are to be found who work very hard, and perhaps harder than those who are living under obedience; they preach, they practice mortification, they pray and fast; but in all this, a great part, perhaps the greater part, of what they do, is done to please their own will. God grant that on the day of judgment they may not have to weep as those mentioned in Holy Scripture:      Quare jejunavimus, et non aspexis. ti? humiliavimus animas nostras, et nescisti? Ecce in die jejunii vestri invenitur voluntas vestra (Is. lviii. 3). Upon which words St. Bernard remarks: Grande malum propria voluntas, qua fit, ut bona tua tibi bona non sint. On the contrary, he who does everything by obedience is sure of always pleasing God.

The Venerable Mother Mary of Jesus said that she valued exceedingly her religious vocation for two reasons: the first, because in the convent she enjoyed continually the presence and company of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; the second, because in the religious life she belonged wholly to God, by sacrificing to Him, by means of obedience, her own will.

Father Rodriguez relates that after the death of St. Dositheus, the disciple of St. Dorotheus, the Lord revealed that St. Dositheus, during the five years he had lived under obedience, notwithstanding that his ill-health had not allowed him to practice the same austerities as the other monks, had, nevertheless, by the practice of obedience, merited the same reward as St. Paul the Hermit and the Abbot St. Anthony.

He therefore who wishes to enter the Congregation, must be resolved to give up entirely his own will, and to have no will but that of holy obedience. God forbid that any subject of the Congregation should ever utter the words “I will,” or “1 will not.” Rather he should always reply, and even when asked by his Superiors what he wishes, “I will that which obedience wills of me.” And he must obey in everything that is commanded him provided there be not evident sin; and this blindly, and without examining, because it does not belong to him to examine what is to be done, and to resolve doubts, but to the Superiors. Otherwise, if, even in obeying, he does not submit his own judgment to the judgment of his Superiors, his obedience will be imperfect. St. Ignatius of Loyola said that “in matters of obedience, prudence is the affair of Superiors, and not of the subjects; and if prudence enters at all into obedience, it is in this, to obey without prudence.”

But in order to succeed in this life of obedience, which is of such great importance, it is necessary to be always in the disposition to do that for which we feel the greatest repugnance, and to be prepared to endure peacefully the privation of all that naturally we may most seek and desire. As, for instance, it will happen that when a subject wishes for solitude in order to pray or study, he will be employed especially in external works. For although it be true, that in the Congregation the subjects, when they are in the house, lead as far as possible a contemplative life-and for this the Rule prescribes many hours of silence, the annual ten days retreat, and a day of retreat each month, besides the fifteen days previous receiving the habit, and fifteen days again before the profession-nevertheless, it must be understood that we are working priests, given to the salvation of souls.

So that if a subject should be employed continually by obedience in the work of the ministry, he must be contented with the prayers and other exercises of the community: and sometimes he must be prepared to omit even these, if obedience so wills, without making difficulties and without troubling himself, and he must understand well that which St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi understood so well herself, when she said that “all things done by obedience are really prayers.”

 

On the other hand, it will happen that the more a subject desires to be employed in the salvation of souls, in missions, in preaching, in hearing confessions, or in studying, the less he will be so employed. He will be forbidden to study; he will be left alone in the house when all the others go out on missions, and the like. In such cases he must understand that in practicing obedience he gives the greatest pleasure to God; so that he ought to accept this obedience with the same gladness and peace of mind as if he were employed on the missions. God grant that no subject of the Congregation should ever ask, or make known his desire, to preach, or to go on missions. By the grace of God, this fault, which would be a grievous one, is not found among the members of the Congregation.

Nevertheless, each one should be well persuaded that the more he showed such a desire, the more. would he be contradicted and mortified in it. The subjects should have but one desire alone- the desire to do that which obedience demands of them. And, indeed, what merit would all these labors have in the eyes of God, if the Superiors assigned them, not as God had inspired them to do, but simply to satisfy the natural inclinations of a subject? Besides, God would not lend His aid to works of this kind, and the subjects themselves would derive from them but little fruit. And, therefore, let him who would enter the Congregation principally in order to give missions, to preach, etc, not think of entering, because this is not the spirit of the Institute.

He only has the spirit of the Institute who enters it with the desire of practicing obedience, and of submitting peacefully to be put away in some corner without having any employment, happy that the good is done by others, while he himself will only do that which is directly imposed upon him by obedience, without having asked for it.

Much less should anyone think of joining the Congregation only with the intention of learning in it how to preach, and to hear confessions, etc. Such a one would in that case show most clearly that he was not called, but urged by the devil, to enter, to the injury of his own soul and of the Congregation. It must be well understood that our houses are not seminaries or schools, but religious houses, into which no one should enter who is not resolved to live and die there.

And lastly, after a subject has entered the Congregation, even with a true vocation, and even if he had overcome all his passions. and all earthly interests, let him not imagine that he will be free from other temptations and trials, such as weariness, obscurities, groundless apprehensions, which God Himself will send him to strengthen him the more in his vocation. We know that the Saints themselves who have most loved their vocation have sometimes experienced great darkness, so that it appeared to them that they were deceived, and that they could not save themselves in the religious state. So it happened to St. Theresa, to St. John of the Cross, and to the Venerable Mother de Chantal: but by having recourse to God they were freed from the darkness, and regained their peace of mind. It is thus that God tries the souls most beloved by Him. As was said to Tobias: Quia acceptus eras Deo, necesse fuit ut tentatio probaret te (xii. 13). And in Deuteronomy: Teniat vos Dominus Deus vester, ut palam fiat utrum diligatis cum an non (xiii. 3).

Let every one, then, prepare himself to suffer his share of darkness in the Congregation. It will sometimes appear to him that he is not able to endure the observances of the Institute, that he can no longer find peace, nor even work out his salvation in it. At such moments he must be all the more on his guard, when the temptation proposes pretexts of scruples, or of some greater good, for causing him to abandon his vocation.

There are two special remedies for such temptations. The first is, to have recourse to prayer: Accedite ad eum, et illuminamini (Ps. xxxiii. 6). It is impossible for him who has recourse to God not to conquer the temptation., as it is impossible for him who does not so recommend himself not to be overcome by the temptation. And remark well, that sometimes in order to gain the victory, it will not suffice to have recourse to God once, or for several days only: the Lord will perhaps permit the temptation to last, even after prayer, for weeks, and months, and years. Nevertheless, we must be assured that he who perseveres in recommending himself to God will certainly come forth enlightened and victorious; and afterwards he will enjoy greater peace, and be more confirmed in his vocation. And until each one has passed through such a storm, by which nearly all are assailed, let him not think himself in surety.

Observe also, that in this time of darkness he must not expect to derive fervor or light from any reasonings that he might bring forward for obtaining quiet; for in the midst of the darkness nothing is seen but confusion. Nothing then, is to be done but to say to God, “Help me, 0 Lord; 0 Lord, help me”; and to have recourse frequently to the most holy Mary, who is the Mother of perseverance, trusting to the divine promise, Petite, et accipietis. It is certain that he who, with the grace of God, comes forth victorious from such storms, finds a double peace and a double calm in his vocation.

The second remedy, equally essential and necessary in such temptations, is to communicate to the Superiors, and to the Father in the Congregation whom we have chosen for Director, the temptation which assails us; and this at once, before the temptation has become strong. St. Philip Neri said that when the temptation is disclosed it is half conquered. On the contrary, there is no greater danger in such cases than to conceal the temptation from the Superiors: for then, on the one hand, God withdraws His light, because the subject shows Him so little confidence, in not being willing to manifest the temptation; and, on the other hand, the temptation becomes stronger, as long as the mine is not blown up.

Hence it is certain, that he who does not manifest the temptations against his vocation will surely lose his vocation. And it should be understood that, in the Congregation, these temptations against vocation are the most pernicious that hell can raise against us: for if they conquer, with one stroke the devil will gain many victories; since, as soon as a subject has lost his vocation and has left the Congregation, what good will he be able to accomplish in the ways of God? The enemy, it is true, will make him see that out of the Congregation he will do more good, and will enjoy a greater peace: nevertheless, let him hold for certain that, once out of the Congregation, he will be given up to such interior remorse that he will never again enjoy peace of conscience; and God grant that such remorse may not torment him for all eternity in hell, where, as we have said above, they may easily come who through their own fault abandon their vocation.

Moreover, he will be so lukewarm, so discouraged in the practice of virtue, that he will not have the strength even to lift up his eyes to Heaven. In such a state he will most easily give up prayer altogether; for whenever he attempts to give himself to it, he will experience a very hell of remorse, while he hears his conscience reproaching him, and saying, “What hast thou done? Thou hast forsaken God; thou hast abandoned thy vocation; and for what? To satisfy thy fancies, to please thy relatives, etc.” Be assured that he will feel this remorse during his whole life, but especially at the hour of death, in the sight of eternity; when, instead of dying in the midst of his good brethren of the Congregation, he finds himself seized by death out of the Congregation, and perhaps in his own home, surrounded by his relatives to please whom he has displeased God.

Let the members of our Congregation cease not to beseech the Lord to let them die rather than allow them to fall into this extreme misfortune, the torments of which will be felt more truly at the hour of death, because then there will be no remedy for the fault. Hence, when a subject is tempted against his vocation, the best meditation he can make while the temptation lasts, is to consider what torment the remorse for having lost his vocation through some caprice will cause him at the point of death, when he sees that he is dying through his own fault out of the Congregation.

In short, he who would be a member of the Congregation must have the resolution to become a saint, and to suffer all sorts of pain, exterior and interior, in order to show his fidelity to God, and to preserve his vocation. If he has not this resolution, we beg of him not to deceive the Superiors and himself, and not to think of joining the Institute; for it is certain that he is not called to us, or that be has not the will to, correspond as he ought to the divine call, which is a greater evil. And therefore, whilst he is so badly disposed, it is better that he wait outside the Congregation until he has better dispositions, and is resolved to give himself wholly to God, and to suffer everything for God’s sake: otherwise he will do harm to himself and to the Congregation, for he will leave it for the slightest cause; and then, besides losing credit in the eyes of the world, he will be more guilty before God, because of his infidelity to his vocation, and will lose all hope of being able to make one step to advance in the ways of God; and what other miseries and falls will be the result, God alone knows.

To sum up: it is a beautiful thing to behold in the Congregation souls consecrated entirely to God, living in the midst of the world as if out, of the world, and having no other thought than that of pleasing God.

In the Congregation each subject must live solely for eternity. Oh, how happy shall we be if we spend these few short days wholly for God! And he is specially called to do this who, perhaps, has already given a good part of his life to the world. Let us keep eternity before our eyes, and we shall suffer everything in peace and gladness. Let us thank God for giving us so much light, and so many means of loving Him perfectly, and for having chosen us, from the midst of so many others, to belong entirely to Himself in this Congregation, by giving us the gift of His holy love. And let us make haste to advance in virtue, in order to please Him, with the thought that, perhaps, as St. Theresa said to her daughters, we have already got over the chief difficulty in the way of becoming saints when we turned our back upon the world and all its goods: that which is less difficult remains for us to accomplish, and then we shall be saints.

I am certain that Jesus has prepared a beautiful place in Paradise for those who die in the Congregation. In this world we shall be poor, despised, and looked upon as fools and imprudent persons; but in the next our lot will be far different.

Let us continually recommend ourselves to our most loving Redeemer, hidden in the most Blessed Sacrament, and to the Blessed Virgin; for the members of the Congregation are obliged to have a most special love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and for the Immaculate Mary. Let us have great confidence. Jesus Christ has chosen us to be the great ones of His court: a certain proof of this is the protection which He gives to the Congregation, and to every member of it: Dominus illuminatio mea et salus mea; quem timebo? (Ps. xxvi. 1)

Perfect Thy work, 0 Lord, and for Thy glory make us all Thine own; so that all the members of this Congregation, even to the day of judgment, may continue to please Thee perfectly, and to gain for Thee a countless number of souls. Amen; amen.

 

 

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