31 July 2023

Bishop Challoner's Meditations - August 1st


Consider first, that though the fire of hell, with all the rest of the exterior torments which the damned must for ever endure in that woful place be terrible beyond all that an be expressed or conceived, yet it is no ways comparable, in the judgment of divines, to the interior pangs and agonies of the soul, caused by the paena damni, or the eternal loss of God and of all that is good, and the perpetual sense they shall ever have of the greatness of this their loss and all its dreadful consequences. Alas! eternally they have lost their God for ever. They are divorced eternally from him; they are stripped of all his gifts and all his graces; no light is left in their soul; no glimpse of hope; no sense of good, no power of love either for God or their neighbours. Ah! unhappy wretches that cannot love! They are excommunicated from God; they are sent into an eternal banishment far from him; far from his glorious kingdom and the happy society of his children; far from their true country and all its blissful joys, which were once purchased for them by the blood of the Son of God. They are eternally separated from the ocean of all good.

Consider 2ndly, how much the damned will regret this most dreadful of all evils – this eternal separation from God. Alas! poor sinners, here, while they lie grovelling in the mire of the earth, diverted from the thought of God by a thousand impertinences, and yet continually partaking many ways of his sweetness and goodness in some or other of his creatures, have little or no idea of what it is absolutely to lose God for evermore. But the damned, by their own woful experience, will be fully convinced, when it is too late, that none of all the rest of the torments of hell can be compared to this loss. God is an infinite good in himself; and he is the inexhaustible source of all our good, and of everything that is any ways good in his creatures: he is our universal good. In losing him, then the damned have lost an infinite good – form their first beginning and their last end, by whom and for whom they were created: they have lost their sovereign good, their universal good, their immense eternal good, the overflowing fountain, the very ocean of all good, their true and only happiness. They have lost him totally; they have lost him irrevocable; they have lost him eternally; they have lost him in himself; they have lost him in themselves; they have lost him in all his creatures. There is an immense gulf between him and them, never, never to be passed.

Consider 3rdly, still further, how dreadfully the damned will be tormented with the perpetual thinking on this most rueful of all losses. Ah! their lively sense of this most dismal and irreparable loss, and of all the sad consequences of it, will continually rack their despairing souls; they will not be able so much as to turn away their thought one moment from it. For whichever way they shall turn to seek any one jot of ease or comfort in him, or from him, they shall meet with none: all things shall seem to conspire against them – all things shall tell them they have lost their God. They shall always find themselves bound down fast in eternal chains, which will keep them in a state of violence far away from him; and all the efforts of their vehement longing after him will only serve to redouble their misery. Hence there flow a thousand other evils that make their whole soul a hell to itself. Hence black despair, sadness, rage, hatred, and blasphemy.

Conclude never to turn away from God in this life nor to lose him by wilful sin, and then thou shalt effectually prevent this last and worst of all evils, of being eternally separated from him.

1 August, Antonio, Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day

The Awareness of the Presence of God

1. The cultivation of a continual awareness of the presence of God is such a useful practice that many writers regard it as the fundamental principle of the spiritual life. As St. Alphonsus de' Liguori points out, it obliges us to do three things: (1) To preserve ourselves completely free from sin; (2) To practise virtue in every possible way, and (3) To seek a closer and more loving contact with God. (Al. Div. Servizio, III, 1, 3)

The realisation of the presence of God is a particularly good way of subduing our passions and conquering temptation. “If we were always aware of God's presence within us,” writes St. Thomas, “we should never, or hardly ever, sin.” (Opusc. 58, c. 2)

It is unlikely that a man who is committing sin adverts to the fact that God is watching him and could intervene to punish him at any moment. He has forgotten the presence of God, his Creator and Redeemer, Who has been so good to him and Who will one day be his judge. His mind has been darkened and his heart led astray by the deceptive pleasures of this world.

God is far from the sinner because the sinner ignores His inspirations and advice and has, in short, rejected Him. The unhappy man will never find peace in this world and is doomed to eternal unhappiness in the next.

“If we remained always in the presence of God,” wrote St. John Chrysostom, “we should neither conceive nor do anything evil.” (Homil. 8, ad Phil., 2.)

2. The presence of God, moreover, encourages us to do our best to acquire all the virtues. When He is always before our eyes we have no difficulty in recognising that He is the supreme Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.

Let us seek to please God, therefore, by obeying His commandments and inspirations. If we wish to be worthy of His presence, let us seek to adorn our souls with His grace, which is ours for the asking. Our awareness of God's presence should not be a passive state. It should enliven our faith and increase our love for Him.

Do we realise how poor and pitiful we are in the sight of God? Let us ask Him to make us holy. If we are troubled by temptations, let us ask Him for the strength to conquer them. If we are worn out by suffering, let us ask Him to help and console us.

3. If we remind ourselves constantly of the presence of God, we shall always be closely united to Him. Union with God should be the result of our love for Him, for it is an unfailing rule of love that it increases with the nearness of the beloved. If we live in the presence of God and contemplate Him as the perfection of beauty, truth and goodness, we shall be moved to love Him more and more. Our love, moreover, will generate in us the ardent desire of an even closer intimacy with Him.

This sacred union will bring us great peace and tranquility in all the vicissitudes of life, a serenity which will be reflected in our personality and in our conduct for the edification of our fellow-men.

Eastern Rite - Feasts of 1 August AM 7531

Today is the Feasts of the Procession with the Holy Relics of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross of the Lord; the Seven Holy Martyred Maccabees, Their Mother Solome and Their Teacher Eleazar.

The origin of this Feast is explained in the Greek Horologion of 1897: “Because of the illnesses which occur during the month of August, it was customary at Constantinople to carry the Precious Wood of the Cross in procession throughout the city for its sanctification, and to deliver it from sickness.”

On the eve (July 31), the Cross was removed from the imperial treasury and placed it upon the Holy Table of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia (which is dedicated to Christ, the Wisdom of God). From August 1 until the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, there was a procession throughout the entire City, and then the Cross was placed where all the people could venerate it.

In the Russian Church, this Feast is combined with the remembrance of the Baptism of Rus' on August 1, 988. 

Knowledge of the day of the actual Baptism of Rus' is preserved in the Chronicles of the XVI century: “The Baptism of the Great Prince Volodymyr of Kyiv and of all Rus' took place on August 1.”

In the current practice of the Russian Church, the service of the Lesser Sanctification of Water on August 1 takes place either before or after Liturgy. Because of the Blessing of Water, this first Feast of the Savior in August is sometimes called “the Savior of the Water.” Along with the Blessing of Water, there may also be a Blessing of Honey (thus it is also called “the Savior of the Honey),” because on this day, the newly-gathered honey is blessed and tasted.

Troparion — Tone 1

O Lord, save Your people, / and bless Your inheritance! / Grant victories to Catholic Christians / over their adversaries. / And by virtue of the Cross, / preserve Your habitation!

Kontakion — Tone 4

As You were voluntarily crucified for our sake, / grant mercy to those who are called by Your name; / make all Catholic Christians glad by Your power, / granting them victories over their adversaries, / by bestowing on them the invincible trophy, Your weapon of peace!

The seven holy Maccabee martyrs Abim, Antonius, Gurias, Eleazar, Eusebonus, Alimus and Marcellus, their mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazar suffered in the year 166 before Christ under the impious Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This foolish ruler loved pagan and Hellenistic customs and held Jewish customs in contempt. He did everything possible to turn people from the Law of Moses and from their covenant with God. He desecrated the Temple of the Lord, placed a statue of the pagan god Zeus there, and forced the Jews to worship it. Many people abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but there were also those who continued to believe that the Savior would come.

A ninety-year-old elder, the scribe and teacher Eleazar was brought to trial for his faithfulness to the Mosaic Law. He suffered torture and died in Jerusalem.

The disciples of Saint Eleazar, the seven Maccabee brothers and their mother Solomonia, also displayed great courage. They were brought to trial in Antioch by King Antiochus Epiphanes. They fearlessly acknowledged themselves as followers of the True God and refused to eat pig’s flesh, which was forbidden by the Law.

The eldest brother acted as spokesmen for the rest, saying that they preferred to die rather than break the Law. He was subjected to fierce tortures in sight of his brothers and their mother. His tongue was cut out, he was scalped, and his hands and feet were cut off. Then a cauldron and a large frying pan were heated, and the first brother was thrown into the frying pan, and he died.

The next five brothers were tortured one after the other. The seventh and youngest brother was the last one left alive. Antiochus suggested to Saint Solomonia to persuade the boy to obey him so that her last son at least would be spared. Instead, the brave mother told him to imitate the courage of his brothers.

The child upbraided the king and was tortured even more cruelly than his brothers had been. After all her seven children had died, Saint Solomonia stood over their bodies, raised up her hands in prayer to God and died.

The martyric death of the Maccabee brothers inspired Judas Maccabeus, and he led a revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes. With God’s help, he gained the victory and then purified the Temple at Jerusalem. He also threw down the altars that the pagans had set up in the streets. All these events are related in the Second Book of Maccabees (Ch. 8-10).

Various Fathers of the Church preached sermons on the seven Maccabees, including Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Saint Ambrose of Milan, Saint Gregory Nazianzus and Saint John Chrysostom.

Troparion — Tone 7

Let us praise the seven Maccabees, / with their mother Salome and their teacher Eleazar; / they were splendid in the lawful contest / as guardians of the teachings of the Law. / Now as Christ’s holy martyrs they ceaselessly intercede for the world.

Kontakion — Tone 2

Seven pillars of the Wisdom of God / and seven lampstands of the divine Light, / all-wise Maccabees, greatest of the martyrs before the time of the martyrs, / with them ask the God of all to save those who honour you.

Saint Solomonia was the mother of the seven Maccabee brothers. She encouraged her sons to remain faithful to the Law of God even when threatened with death.

This admirable mother is honoured and remembered for her great courage, for she watched all seven of her sons die in a single day. May we also be faithful to God’s commandments and the traditions of the Church.

Troparion — Tone 7

Let us praise the seven Maccabees, / with their mother Salome and their teacher Eleazar; / they were splendid in the lawful contest / as guardians of the teachings of the Law. / Now as Christ’s holy martyrs they ceaselessly intercede for the world.

Kontakion — Tone 2

Seven pillars of the Wisdom of God / and seven lampstands of the divine Light, / all-wise Maccabees, greatest of the martyrs before the time of the martyrs, / with them ask the God of all to save those who honour you.

Saint Eleazar lived in the second century before Christ and was a scribe. At the age of ninety, he voluntarily endured torture and death rather than violate the Law of God by eating swine’s flesh. By suffering death for the Law of Moses, he left young men, and the whole nation, an example of virtue and courage.

The story of Eleazar is found in II Maccabees, chapter 6.

Troparion — Tone 7

Let us praise the seven Maccabees, / with their mother Salome and their teacher Eleazar; / they were splendid in the lawful contest / as guardians of the teachings of the Law. / Now as Christ’s holy martyrs they ceaselessly intercede for the world.

Kontakion — Tone 2

Seven pillars of the Wisdom of God / and seven lampstands of the divine Light, / all-wise Maccabees, greatest of the martyrs before the time of the martyrs, / with them ask the God of all to save those who honour you.


IN LUMINE FIDEI: 1 AUGUST – THE CHAINS OF SAINT PETER: During the reign of Theodosius the younger, his wife Eudoxia went to Jerusalem to fulfil a vow, and while she was there she was honoured...


IN LUMINE FIDEI: 1 AUGUST – THE SEVEN HOLY MACCABEES: At Antioch in Syria took place the martyrdom of the Seven Holy Maccabees, seven Jewish brothers who lived in Old Testament times. Accor...

1 August, The Chesterton Calendar


A man must be orthodox upon most things, or he will never even have time to preach his own heresy.

'George Bernard Shaw.'

1 August, The Holy Rule of St Benedict, Patriarch of Western Monasticism

CHAPTER L. Of the Brethren who are working at a distance from the Oratory, or are on a journey

1 Apr. 1 Aug. 1 Dec.

Let the brethren who are at work at a great distance, or on a journey, and cannot come to the Oratory at the proper time (the Abbot judging such to be the case) perform the Work of God there where they are labouring, in godly fear, and on bended knees. In like manner, let not those who are sent on a journey allow the appointed Hours to pass by; but, as far as they can, observe them by themselves, and not neglect to fulfil their obligation of divine service.

2 August, The Roman Martyrology

Quarto Nonas Augústi Luna quinta décima Anno Dómini 2023

August 2nd 2023, the 15th day of the Moon, were born into the better life:

At Nocera-dei-Pagani, [in Campania, Italy, in the year 1787,] holy Alphonsus Mary de Liguori, Bishop of Santa-Agata-de'-Goti, and Founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Illustrious for the zeal for the salvation of souls shown both by his writings, his words, and his ensample. Pope Gregory XVI. enrolled his name with those of the Saints, and the Supreme Pontiff Pius IX. gave him the title of Doctor of the Church.
At Rome, in the cemetery of Callistus, [in the year 257,] the holy Pope and martyr Stephen. He was celebrating Mass during the persecution under the Emperor Valerian, when the soldiers broke in. He finished his office before the altar without fear or trembling, and then was beheaded as he sat upon his throne.
At Nice, in Bithynia, [in the fourth century,] the holy Theodota and her three sons, who were all burned [alive] in the fire together by the order of Neretius, Consular of Bithynia, after he had first caused the eldest son, whose name was Evodius, to be beaten with clubs for his faithful confession of Christ.
In Africa, [in the year 211,] the holy martyr Rutilius. He had fled from one place to another in order to escape the persecution, and had sometimes bought himself out of danger, when he was unexpectedly arrested and brought before the President. He was long put to the torture, then given over to the fire, and so crowned with a noble testimony.
At Padua, [in the second century,] the holy Maximus, Bishop of that city, who died a blessed death, famous for miracles.
℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.
℟. Thanks be to God.

Meme of the Moment

First Novel by Fr. Armand de Malleray

This sounds fascinating! I've just bought it on Kindle. I'm going to start reading it tonight and I'll post my own review after I've finished it.

From Rorate Cæli

Vermeer’s Angel (Arouca Press)

He survived Hiroshima.

He escaped East Germany.

Will he elude the Church?

Deceased art expert Ken Kokura seemingly reappears in Japan, upsetting the plans of priestly diplomats. They fear, lest a ruthless schemer may have stolen his identity. How far will that possible super spy dare to go to subvert Church policy? The answer may be hidden in Vermeer’s celebrated paintings.

Against a Cold War backdrop, friendship, religion, the fine arts, and ideology intertwine. Loyalties are tested, leaving the only alternatives of betrayal or sacrifice. In the Church under attack, the worst infiltration is sin. Safety then will start with repentance.

Vermeer’s Angel is Fr de Malleray’s brilliant debut novel in an intriguing genre that could accurately be called ‘Vatican Noir’. The author’s detailed knowledge of the ecclesiastical backdrop and the artistic foreground make for a convincing ‘high resolution’ world in which ambition, morality, psychology, espionage and high drama intersect.” (Pierpaolo Finaldi)

The Holy Rosary

Monday, the Joyous Mysteries, in Latin with Cardinal Burke.

Royal Saints & Blesseds - St Elizabeth of Hungary, Widow (Feast Day 19 November)

From Fr Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints.

ELIZABETH, daughter of Alexander II., the valiant and religious king of Hungary, and his queen, Gertrude, daughter to the duke of Carinthia, was born in Hungary in 1207. Herman, landgrave of Thuringia and Hesse, had a son born about the same time, and named Lewis. This prince obtained, by ambassadors, a promise from the king of Hungary that his daughter should be given in marriage to his new-born son; and, to secure the effect of this engagement, at the landgrave’s request, the princess, at four years of age, was sent to his court, and there brought up under the care of a virtuous lady. Five years after, Herman died, and Lewis became landgrave. Elizabeth, from her cradle, was so happily preserved by the love of God, that no room for creatures could be found in her heart; and though surrounded, and, as it were, besieged by worldly pleasures in their most engaging shapes, she had no relish for them, prayed with an astonishing recollection, and seemed scarcely to know any other use of money than to give it to the poor; for her father allowed her, till her marriage was solemnized, a competent yearly revenue for maintaining a court suitable to her rank. This child of heaven, in her very recreations studied to practise frequent humiliations and self-denials; and stole often to the chapel, and there knelt down and said a short prayer before every altar, bowing her body reverently, or, if nobody was there, prostrating herself upon the ground. If she found the doors of the chapel in the palace shut, not to lose her labour, she knelt down at the threshold, and always put up her petition to the throne of God. Her devotion she indulged with more liberty in her private closet. She was very devout to her angel guardian and the saints, particularly St. John the Evangelist. She was educated with Agnes, sister to the young landgrave, and upon their first appearing together at church, they were dressed alike, and wore coronets set with jewels. At their entering the house of God, Sophia, the landgrave’s mother, observing our saint take off her coronet, asked why she did so: to which the princess replied, that she could not bear to appear with jewels on her head, where she saw that of Jesus Christ crowned with thorns. Agnes and her mother, who were strangers to such kind of sentiments, and fond of what Elizabeth trampled upon, conceived an aversion for the young princess, and said, that since she seemed to have so little relish for a court, a convent would be the properest place for her. The courtiers carried their reflections much further, and did all in their power to bring the saint into contempt, saying, that neither her fortune nor her person were such as the landgrave had a right to expect, that he had no inclination for her, and that she would either be sent back to Hungary, or married to some nobleman in the country. These taunts and trials were more severe and continual, as the landgrave, Herman, dying when Elizabeth was only nine years old, the government fell into the hands of his widow in the name of her son till he should be of age. These persecutions and injuries were, to the saint, occasions of the greatest spiritual advantages; for by them she daily learned a more perfect contempt of all earthly things, to which the heavenly lover exhorts his spouse, saying: “Hearken, daughter, forget thy people.” She learned also the evangelical hatred of herself, and crucifixion of self-love; by which she was enabled to say with the apostles: Behold we have left all things. In this entire disengagement of her heart, she learned to take up her cross and follow Christ by the exercise of meekness, humility, patience, and charity, towards unjust persecutors; and to cleave to God by the closest union of her soul to him, by resignation, love, and prayer, contemning herself, and esteeming the vanity of the world as filth and dung. She desired to please God only, and in this spirit she was wont to pray: “O sovereign spouse of my soul, never suffer me to love any thing but in Thee, or for Thee. May every thing which tends not to Thee, be bitter and painful, and Thy will alone sweet. May Thy will be always mine: as in heaven Thy will is punctually performed, so may it be done on earth by all creatures, particularly in me and by me. And as love requires a union, and entire resignation of all things into the hands of the beloved, I give up my whole self to Thee without reserve. In my heart I renounce all riches and pomp: if I had many worlds I would leave them all to adhere to Thee alone in poverty and nakedness of spirit, as Thou madest Thyself poor for me. O spouse of my heart, so great is the love I bear Thee, and holy poverty for Thy sake, that with joy I leave all that I am, that I may be transformed into Thee, and that abandoned state so amiable to Thee.”  1
  The saint was in her fourteenth year when Lewis, the young landgrave, returned home, after a long absence, on account of his education. Address in martial exercises and other great accomplishments introduced the young prince into the world with a mighty reputation: but nothing was so remarkable in him as a sincere love of piety. The eminent virtue of Elizabeth gave Him the highest esteem for her person. However, he seldom saw or spoke to her, even in public, and never in private, till the question was one day put to him, what his thoughts were with regard to marrying her? and he was told what rumours were spread in the court to her disadvantage. Hereat he expressed much displeasure, and said, that he prized her virtue above all the mountains of gold and rubies that the world could afford. Forthwith he sent her by a nobleman a glass garnished with precious stones of inestimable value, with two crystals opening on each side, in the one of which was a looking-glass; on the other a figure of Christ crucified was most curiously wrought. And not long after he solemnized his marriage with her, and the ceremony was performed with the utmost pomp, and with extraordinary public rejoicings. The stream of public applause followed the favour of the prince: the whole court expressed the most profound veneration for the saint, and all the clouds, which had so long hung over her head were at once dispersed. Conrad of Marpurg, a most holy and learned priest, and an eloquent pathetic preacher, whose disinterestedness, and love of holy poverty, mortified life, and extraordinary devotion and spirit of prayer, rendered him a model to the clergy of that age, was the person whom she chose for her spiritual director, and to his advice she submitted herself in all things relating to her spiritual concerns. This holy and experienced guide, observing how deep root the seeds of virtue had taken in her soul, applied himself by cultivating them to conduct her to the summit of Christian perfection, and encouraged her in the path of mortification and penance, but was obliged often to moderate her corporal austerities by the precept of obedience. The landgrave also reposed an entire confidence in Conrad, and gave this holy man the privilege of disposing of all ecclesiastical benefices in the prince’s gift. Elizabeth, with her pious husband’s consent, often rose in the night to pray, and consecrated great part of her time to her devotions, insomuch that on Sundays and holidays she never allowed herself much leisure to dress herself. The rest of her time which was not spent in prayer or reading, she devoted to works of charity, and to spinning or carding wool, in which she would only work very coarse wool for the use of the poor, or of the Franciscan friars. The mysteries of the life and sufferings of our Saviour were the subject of her most tender and daily meditation. Weighing of what importance prayer and mortification, or penance are in a spiritual life, she studied to make her prayer virtually continual, by breaking forth into fervent acts of compunction and divine love amidst all her employments. The austerity of her life surpassed that of recluses. When she sat at table, next to the landgrave, to dissemble her abstinence from flesh and savoury dishes, she used to deceive the attention of others by discoursing with the guests, or with the prince, carving for others, sending her maids upon errands, often changing her plates, and a thousand other artifices. Her meal frequently consisted only of bread and honey, or a dry crust, with a cup of the smallest wine, or the like: especially when she dined privately in her chamber, with two maids, who voluntarily followed her rules as to diet. She never ate but what came out of her own kitchen, that she might be sure nothing was mixed contrary to the severe rules she had laid down; and this kitchen she kept out of her own private purse, not to be the least charge to her husband. She was a great enemy to rich apparel, though in compliance to the landgrave, she on certain public occasions conformed in some degree to the fashions of the court. When ambassadors came from her father, the king of Hungary, her husband desired her not to appear in that homely apparel which she usually wore; but she prevailed upon him to suffer it; and God was pleased to give so extraordinary a gracefulness to her person, that the ambassadors were exceedingly struck at the comeliness and majesty of the appearance she made. In the absence of her husband she commonly wore only coarse cloth, not dyed, but in the natural colour of the wool, such as the poor people used. She so strongly recommended to her maids of honour simplicity of dress, penance, and assiduous prayer, that several of them were warmed into an imitation of her virtues; but they could only follow her at a distance, for she seemed inimitable in her heroic practices, especially in her profound humility, with which she courted the most mortifying humiliations. In attending the poor and the sick, she cheerfully washed and cleansed the most filthy sores, and waited on those that were infected with the most loathsome diseases.  2
  Her alms seemed at all times to have no bounds; in which the good landgrave rejoiced exceedingly, and gave her full liberty. In 1225 Germany being severely visited by a famine, she exhausted the treasury and distributed her whole crop of corn amongst those who felt the weight of that calamity the heaviest. The landgrave was then in Apulia with the emperor; and at his return the officers of his household complained loudly to him of her profusion in favour of the poor. But the prince was so well assured of her piety and prudence, that without examining into the matter, he asked if she had alienated his dominions? They answered: “No.” “As for her charities,” said he, “they will entail upon us the divine blessings: and we shall not want so long as we suffer her to relieve the poor as she does.” The castle of Marpurg, the residence of the landgrave, was built on a steep rock, which the infirm and weak were not able to climb. The holy margravine therefore built an hospital at the foot of the rock for their reception and entertainment; where she often fed them with her own hands, made their beds, and attended them even in the heat of summer, when that place seemed insupportable to all those who were strangers to the sentiments of her generous and indefatigable charity. The helpless children, especially all orphans, were provided for at her expense. Elizabeth was the foundress of another hospital, in which twenty-eight persons were constantly relieved; she fed nine hundred daily at her own gate, besides an incredible number in the different parts of the dominions, so that the revenue in her hands was truly the patrimony of the distressed. But the saint’s charity was tempered with discretion; and instead of encouraging in idleness such as were able to work, she employed them in a way suitable to their strength and capacity. Her husband, edified and charmed with her extraordinary piety, not only approved of all she did, but was himself an imitator of her charity, devotion, and other virtues: insomuch that he is deservedly styled by historians, the Pious Landgrave. He had by her three children, Herman, Sophia, who was afterwards married to the duke of Brabant, and Gertrude, who became a nun, and died abbess of Aldenburg. Purely upon motives of religion the landgrave took the cross to accompany the emperor Frederic Barbarossa, in the holy war, to Palestine. The separation of this pious and loving couple was a great trial; though moderated by the heroic spirit of religion with which both were animated. The landgrave joined the emperor in the kingdom of Naples; but as he was going to embark, fell ill of a malignant fever at Otranto, and having received the last sacraments at the hands of the patriarch of Jerusalem, expired in great sentiments of piety, on the 11th of September, 1227. Many miracles are related to have been wrought by him, in the history of Thuringia, and in that of the crusades. 1 Elizabeth, who at his departure had put on the dress of a widow, upon hearing this melancholy news, wept bitterly, and said: “If my husband be dead, I promise to die henceforth to myself, and to the world with all its vanities.” God himself was pleased to complete this her sacrifice by a train of other afflictions into which she fell, being a sensible instance of the instability of human things, in which nothing is more constant than an unsteadiness of fortune: the life of man being a perpetual scene of interludes, and virtue being his only support, a check to pride in prosperity, and a solid comfort in adversity.  3
  Envy, jealousy, and rancour, all broke loose at once against the virtuous landgravine, which, during her husband’s life, for the great love and respect which he bore her, had been raked up and covered over as fire under the ashes. As pretences are never wanting to cloak ambition, envy, and other passions which never dare show themselves barefaced, it was alleged, that the saint had squandered away the public revenue upon the poor; that the infant Herman, being unfit for the government of the state, it ought to be given to one who was able to defend and even extend the dominions of the landgraviate; and that therefore Henry, younger brother to the late landgrave, ought to be advanced to the principality. The mob being soothed by the fine speeches of certain powerful factious men, Henry got possession, and turned Elizabeth out of the castle without furniture, provision, or necessaries for the support of nature, and all persons in the town were forbid to let her any lodgings. The princess bore this unjust treatment with a patience far transcending the power of nature, showing nothing in her gestures which was not as composed as if she had been in the greatest tranquillity possible. And rejoicing in her heart to see herself so ill treated, she went down the castle-hill to the town, placing her whole confidence in God, and with her damsels and maids went into a common inn, or, as others say, a poor woman’s cottage, where she remained till midnight, when the bell ringing to matins at the church of the Franciscan friars, she went thither, and desired the good fathers to sing a Te Deum with solemnity, to give God thanks for his mercies to her in visiting her with afflictions. Though she sent about the next day, and used all her endeavours to procure some kind of lodging in the town, no one durst afford her any for fear of the usurper and his associates. She staid the whole day in the church of the friars, and at evening had the additional affliction to see her three children, whom their barbarous uncle had sent out of the castle, coming down the hill. She received them in the church porch, with undaunted fortitude, but could not refrain from tenderly weeping to see the innocent babes so insensible of their condition as to smile upon her, rejoicing that they had recovered their mother. Reduced to the lowest ebb she applied to a priest for relief, who received her into his little house, where she had but one straight poor chamber for herself, her maids, and children. Her enemies soon forced her from thence, so that with thanks to those who had given her and hers some kind of shelter from the severities of a very sharp winter season, she returned to the inn or cottage. Thus she, who had entertained thousands of poor, could find no entertainment or harbour; and she who had been a mother to so many infants and orphans of others, was glad to beg an alms for her own, and to receive it from her enemies. God failed not to comfort her in her distress, and she addressed herself to him in raptures of love, praying that she might be wholly converted into his love, and that his pure love might reign in her. Melting in the sweetness of divine love she poured forth her soul in inflamed ejaculations, saying, for example: “Ah, my Lord and my God, may Thou be all mine, and I all Thine. What is this, my God and my love? Thou all mine, and I all Thine. Let me love Thee, my God, above all things, and let me not love myself but for Thee, and all other things in Thee. Let me love Thee, with all my soul, with all my memory,” &c. In these fervent aspirations, overflowing with interior joy, she sometimes fell into wonderful raptures, which astonished Hentrude, a lady of honour, particularly beloved by her, and her companion in her devotions and mortifications.  4
  The abbess of Kitzingen, in the diocess of Wurtzburg, our saint’s aunt, sister to her mother, hearing of her misfortunes, invited her to her monastery, and being extremely moved at the sight of her desolate condition and poverty, advised her to repair to her uncle, the bishop of Bamberg, a man of great power, charity, and prudence. The bishop received her with many tears, which compassion drew from his eyes, and from those of all the clergy that were with him; and provided for her a commodious house near his palace. His first views were, as she was young and beautiful, to endeavour to look out for a suitable party, that, marrying some powerful prince, she might strengthen her interest, and that of her family, by a new alliance, which might enable her to recover her right: but such projects she entirely put a stop to, declaring it was her fixed resolution to devote herself to the divine service in a state of perpetual chastity. In the mean time the body of her late husband, which had been buried at Otranto, was taken up, and, the flesh being entirely consumed, the bones were put into a rich chest, and carried into Germany. The hearse was attended by a great many princes and dukes, and by counts, barons, and knights without number, marching in martial order, with ensigns folded up, the mournful sound of drums, all covered with black, and other warlike instruments in like manner. Where some of these princes left the corpse to return home, the nobility of each country through which it passed took their place; and every night it was lodged in some church or monastery where masses and dirges were said, and gifts offered. When the funeral pomp approached Bamberg, the bishop went out with the clergy and monks in procession to meet it, having left the nobility and knights with the disconsolate pious margravine. At the sight of the hearse her grief was inexpressible; yet, whilst there was not a dry eye in the church, she showed by restraining her sorrow how great command she had of her passions. Yet, when the chest was opened, her tears burst forth against her will. But, recollecting herself in God, she gave thanks to his Divine Majesty for having so disposed of her honoured husband, as to take him into his eternal tabernacles, so seasonably for himself, though to her severe trial. The corpse remained several days at Bamberg, during which the funeral rites were continued with the utmost solemnity, and it was then conducted with great state into Thuringia. The princess entreated the barons and knights that attended it to use their interest with her brother-in-law to do her justice, not blaming him for the treatment she had received, but imputing it to evil counsellors. Fired with indignation at the indignities she had received, they engaged to neglect no means of restoring her to her right: so that it was necessary for her to moderate their resentment, and to beg they would only use humble remonstrances. This they did, reproaching Henry for having brought so foul a blot and dishonour upon his house, and having violated all laws divine, civil, and natural, and broken the strongest ties of humanity. They conjured him by God, who beholds all things, and asked him in what point a weak woman, full of peace and piety, could offend him: and what innocent princely babes, who were his own blood, could have done, the tenderness of whose years made them very unfit to suffer such injuries. Ambition strangely steels a heart to all sentiments of justice, charity or humanity. Yet these remonstrances, made by the chief barons of the principality, softened the heart of Henry, and he promised them to restore to Elizabeth her dower and all the rights of her widowhood, and even to put the government of the dominions into her hands. This last she voluntarily chose to renounce, provided it was reserved for her son. Hereupon she was conducted back to the castle out of which she had been expelled, and from that time Henry began to treat her as a princess, and obsequiously executed whatever she intimated to be her pleasure. Yet her persecutions were often renewed till her death.  5
  The devout priest Conrad had attended her in great part of her travels, and returned to Marpurg, which was his usual residence. Elizabeth, loathing the grandeur and dreading the distractions of the world, with his advice, bound herself by a vow which she made in his presence, in the church of the Franciscans, to observe the third rule of St. Francis, and secretly put on a little habit under her clothes. Her confessor relates that, laying her hands on the altar in the church of the friars minors, she by vow renounced the pomps of the world; she was going to add the vow of poverty, but he stopped her, saying she was obliged, in order to discharge many obligations of her late husband, and what she owed to the poor, to keep in her own hands the disposal of her revenues. Her dower she converted to the use of the poor; and as her director Conrad, in whom she reposed an entire confidence, was obliged to live in the town of Marpurg, when she quitted her palace she made that which was on the boundary of her husband’s dominions, her place of residence, living first in a little cottage near the town, whilst a house was building for her, in which she spent the last three years of her life in the most fervent practices of devotion, charity, and penance. In her speech she was so reserved and modest that if she affirmed or denied anything, her words seemed to imply a fear of some mistake. She spoke little, always with gravity, and most commonly of God; and never let drop any thing that tended to her own praise. Out of a love of religious silence she shunned tatlers: in all things she praised God, and being intent on spiritual things was never puffed up with prosperity, or troubled at adversity. She tied herself by vow to obey her confessor Conrad, and received at his hands a habit made of coarse cloth of the natural colour of the wool without being dyed. Whence Pope Gregory IX., who had corresponded with her, says she took the religious habit, and subjected herself to the yoke of obedience. Thus she imitated the state of nuns, though, by the advice of her confessor, she remained a secular, that she might better dispose of her alms for the relief of the poor. Conrad, having observed that her attachment to her two principal maids, Isentrude and Guta, seemed too strong, and an impediment to her spiritual progress, proposed to her to dismiss them: and, without making any reply, she instantly obeyed him, though the sacrifice cost mutual tears. The saint, by spinning coarse wool, earned her own maintenance, and, with her maids, dressed her own victuals, which were chiefly herbs, bread, and water. Whilst her hands were busy, in her heart she conversed with God. The king of Hungary, her father, earnestly invited her to his court; but she preferred a state of humiliation and suffering. She chose by preference to do every kind of service in attending the most loathsome lepers among the poor. Spiritual and corporal works of mercy occupied her even to her last moments, and by her moving exhortations many obstinate sinners were converted to God. It seemed, indeed, impossible for anything to resist the eminent spirit of prayer with which she was endowed. In prayer she found her comfort and her strength in her mortal pilgrimage, and was favoured in it with frequent raptures, and heavenly communications. Her confessor, Conrad, assures us, that when she returned from secret prayer, her countenance often seemed to dart forth rays of light from the divine conversation. Being forewarned by God of her approaching passage to eternity, which she mentioned to her confessor four days before she fell ill, as he assures us, she redoubled her fervour by her last will, made Christ her heir in his poor, made a general confession of her whole life on the twelfth day, survived yet four days, received the last sacraments, and, to her last breath, ceased not to pray, or to discourse in the most pathetic manner on the mysteries of the sacred life and sufferings of our Redeemer, and on his coming to judge us. The day of her happy death was the 19th of November, in 1231, in the twenty-fourth year of her age. Her venerable body was deposited in a chapel near the hospital which she founded. Many sick persons were restored to health at her tomb; an account of which miracles Siffrid, archbishop of Mentz, sent to Rome, having first caused them to be authenticated by a juridical examination, before himself and others. Pope Gregory IX., after a long and mature discussion, performed the ceremony of her canonization on Whit-Sunday, in 1235, four years after her death. Siffrid, upon news hereof, appointed a day for the translation of her relics, which he performed at Marpurg in 1236. The Emperor Frederic II. would be present, took up the first stone of the saint’s grave, and gave and placed on the shrine with his own hands a rich crown of gold. St. Elizabeth’s son, Herman, then landgrave, and his two sisters, Sophia and Gertrude, assisted at this august ceremony; also the archbishops of Cologne and Bremen, and an incredible number of other princes, prelates, and people, so that the number is said to have amounted to above two hundred thousand persons. The relics were enshrined in a rich vermilion case, and placed upon the altar in the church of the hospital. A Cistercian monk affirmed upon oath that, a little before this translation, praying at the tomb of the saint, he was cured of a palpitation of the heart and grievous melancholy, with which he had been painfully troubled for forty years, and had in vain sought remedies from physicians and every other means. Many instances are mentioned by Montanus, and by the archbishop of Mentz, and the confessor Conrad, of persons afflicted with palsies, and other inveterate diseases, who recovered their health at her tomb, or by invoking her intercession; as of a boy blind from his birth, by the mother’s invocation of St. Elizabeth at her sepulchre, applying some of the dust to his eyes, upon which a skin, which covered each eye, burst, and he saw, as several witnesses declared upon oath, and Master Conrad saw the eyes thus healed; of a boy, three years old, dead, cold, and stiff a whole night, raised to life the next morning by a pious grandmother praying to God through the intercession of St. Elizabeth, with a vow of an alms to her hospital, and of dedicating the child to the divine service; attested in every circumstance by the depositions of the mother, father, grandmother, uncle, and others, recorded by Conrad; of a boy dead and stiff for many hours, just going to be carried to burial, raised by the invocation of St. Elizabeth; of a youth drowned, restored to life by the like prayer; of a boy drawn out of a well, dead, black, &c.; and a child still-born, brought to life; others cured of palsies, falling-sickness, fevers, madness, lameness, blindness, the bloody flux, &c., in the authentic relation. A portion of her relics is kept in the church of the Carmelites at Brussels; another in the magnificent chapel of La Roche-Guyon, upon the Seine, and a considerable part in a precious shrine is in the electoral treasury of Hanover. 2 Some persons of the third Order of St. Francis having raised that institute into a religious Order long after the death of our saint (without prejudice to the secular state of this Order, which is still embraced by many who live in the world), the religious women of this Order chose her for their patroness, and are sometimes called the nuns of St. Elizabeth.  6
  Perfection consists not essentially in mortification, but in charity; and he is most perfect who is most united to God by love. But humility and self-denial remove the impediments to this love, by retrenching the inordinate appetites and evil inclinations which wed the heart to creatures. The affections must be untied by mortification, and the heart set at liberty by an entire disengagement from the slavery of the senses, and all irregular affections. Then will a soul, by the assistance of grace, easily raise her affections to God, and adhere purely to him; and his holy love will take possession of them. A stone cannot fall down to its centre so long as the lets which hold it up are not taken away. So neither can a soul attain to the pure love of God whilst the strings of earthly attachments hold her down. Hence the maxims of the gospel and the example of the saints strongly inculcate the necessity of dying to ourselves by humility, meekness, patience, self-denial, and obedience. Nor does anything so much advance this interior crucifixion of the old man as the patient suffering of afflictions.  7

Note 1. Hist. des Croisades, l. 10, p. 310, t. 2. [back]
Note 2. See Thesaurus Reliquiarum Electoris Brunswico Luneburgensis. Hanoviæ. 1713. [back]

The BEST WORK of St. Thomas Aquinas

Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican - Part I: The Documents (1987) - 8 December Visit of Cardinal Gagnon

The visit started on November 11, at Ecône, and lasted for a whole month. Then Msgr. Perl went to our school in Eguelshardt, our priory in Saarbrucken, the Carmel in Quiévrain. On Saturday, November 21, he came to St. Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris, and the Cardinal arrived the next day, though intentionally after the Mass; then together they visited the French Youth Group, (MJCF), our University (Institut Universitaire Saint Pie X), and met a large group of traditional priests of the region in Paris. On November 24, they arrived at our school in St. Michel of Niherne, then the Mother House of our Sisters at St. Michel en Brenne, and the nearby Carmel at Ruffec, the Fraternity of the Transfiguration of Fr. Lecareux. At Poitiers, he took part in a meeting with many traditional priests of the area, including Fr. Reynaud (the first chaplain of the MJCF), Fr. André (of the Association Noël Pinot), Fr. Coache, the Dominican foundation of Avrillé, the Benedictine foundation of nuns at Le Rafflay, the Little Sisters of St. Francis, etc. After this, they visited our retreat house at Le Pointet, our priory and school at Unieux, the Benedictine Monastery of Le Barroux, the Dominican school at St. Pré (Brignoles), and the other Dominican novitiate and school at Fanjeaux, our school at St. Joseph des Carmes, our church at Marseilles, our priory at Lyons and our main European publishing house (Fideliter). Then another priestly meeting at Dijon, the Dominican school of Pouilly, the seminary of the Holy Curé of Ars, and returned to Ecône for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

At the end of the visit, the following addresses were given.


Eminence, Monseigneur, my dear brethren,

Eminence, it is a duty for us to thank you wholeheartedly for the visit you have done in the houses of the Society and friendly communities.

We have admired much your patience, your objectivity during these past four weeks. We are convinced you have found everywhere a profound spirit of faith and the ardent desire to serve Holy Church.

Of course, today with this feast, the first stage is accomplished, that of your visit. There is still a second which will follow in Rome and which shall probably be more difficult, I do not know.

In any case, you can be sure that, when you shall leave tomorrow morning, our thoughts and especially our prayers shall accompany you. This is what you have asked us many times during this visit: prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And we shall do this from our whole heart and our whole spirit, knowing that it is just three years since we consecrated the Society, here at Ecône on this same Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to the Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, surrounded by all the superiors of the Society who signed this Act, which has been inserted in this altar upon which we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass each morning.

Thus all our confidence is raised towards the Blessed Virgin Mary because she is the one who must prepare the words and who must still convert this or that heart, as you have said, so that we may come to a satisfying solution.

In any case, we have been very touched by and happy for this charity with which you have performed this visit. And I think that the Blessed Virgin shall reward you a hundredfold.

May I add, Eminence, a short word which is a personal testimony.

If I am a priest, it is thanks to Archbishop Lefebvre. It is he who has drawn us, Fr. Wodsack and myself especially, to enter Ecône, because we had found there the fidelity to the Tradition of the Church. This was what we wanted, this was what confirmed our vocation.

I would add that it was Archbishop Lefebvre who, during all these years, has confirmed our Faith, encouraged it and, through our priestly ordination, has truly become our father in Jesus Christ. And we have a somewhat infinite gratitude towards him. It is all our honor and dignity and our most profound joy to be able to work with him, to be in this little army of those who have but one desire: to spread day after day the Social Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to be worthy dispensers of the grace of Jesus Christ in the whole world into the hearts who are so hungry and thirsty for the eternal truths.

Throughout all these years of apostolate, it was always Archbishop Lefebvre who has supported us, encouraged us, and who was by his own fidelity the model of our own fidelity to the priesthood. And I think he is the model of fidelity for many of the faithful and especially for those who are married.

You understand, Eminence, why we are so firmly convinced to remain strongly united with our Founder and to continue at all costs the work for which the Good Lord has raised him—we cannot see it otherwise—to fulfil this great mission for Holy Church which is also a great mission for the pope. We are absolutely convinced that one day it will be openly recognized that Archbishop Lefebvre has rendered very great service not only to the Church, but also to the pope, even though the evidence is often obscured and not readily acknowledged.

We have been able to witness the fruits of Tradition in our different houses. We have seen the work that has been undertaken. I dare then to express a desire, a wish: do all you can, Eminence, that we may have the concrete means to preserve these fruits, to continue this work and develop it. We do not want anything else than to be instruments in the hands of the Blessed Virgin to restore the reign of her Son, of His Cross, that He may reign thus through and by the Holy Mass in the world.

This is our desire and we would be happy if you could transmit this ardent desire to the Holy Father.

We thank you again wholeheartedly.

Fr. Schmidberger


Your Excellency and dear Friends,

I cannot let this occasion pass without first offering my respects and congratulations to the Superior General who celebrates today his 12th anniversary of priesthood, 12 years certainly well filled as he has just expressed all the gratitude he has for the one who led him to the priesthood.

I would also like with simplicity to thank you all for the charity and warmth with which we have been welcomed in all the houses of the Society and all the houses [with which] the priests of the Society exercise their apostolate, houses which are in the same “movement” as the Society, as the Abbot of Le Barroux has said.

Thus I thank you for all this and express also the admiration of Msgr. Perl, whom I must thank. We knew little of each other before this trip and had met but a few times; he has been for me an extraordinary support and help, as well as Fr. du Chalard, who has always been at our services.

Fr. du Chalard and the whole team of experienced drivers who are used to drive around the world this precious treasure which is Archbishop Lefebvre17 has treated us very well...always a little better than we had thought.

But, to return to more serious thoughts on this Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I want to say that we have been struck everywhere by and keep a great admiration for the piety of the persons, for the relevance and importance of the works, especially with regards to catechesis, education, and the administration of the sacraments. We certainly have in hand all that is necessary to make a very positive report.

Thus we continue to pray to the Virgin and to pray with the Virgin during this time of Advent, so that Christmas may be the occasion of a new birth of Jesus, in all the senses of the word, and for the Society too.
Thank you again.

Edward Cardinal Gagnon
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
Apostolic Visitor


May the Immaculate Virgin hear our fervent prayers so that the work of formation marvelously accomplished in this house may find its full radiation for the life of the Church.

Edward Cardinal Gagnon
Msgr. Camile Perl


The visitation of the Society of Saint Pius X by His Eminence Cardinal Gagnon ended on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 8, 1987. The Cardinal attended the Pontifical Mass celebrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, during which 27 seminarians made their first Engagement into the Society. He shall return tomorrow to Rome, having already started writing his report, which he hopes to place before Christmas into the hands of the pope on the occasion of a private audience.

According to his own words, he has gathered an excellent impression of the seminaries, schools, priories, and friendly religious communities, as well as of the faithful who gather themselves around all these houses. We must now, in the weeks and months to come, accompany his efforts with our fervent prayers. There are indeed still many hearts to be converted by God before a satisfying solution can be found.

We sincerely thank all of you who, in the past days and in many ways, have given testimony to the fruitfulness of the tradition of the Catholic Church.

As He did for the Good Samaritan who showed compassion to the mortally wounded, so may God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, reward you a hundredfold for your acts of charity toward the Church.

Fr. Schmidberger
Superior General
December 8, 198

17. Note this expression of Cardinal Gagnon himself.

The Faith Is In Full Collapse As Francis Does Nothing

Why St. Jacinta Embraced the Pain and Suffering That Led to Her Death

St Jacinta and her brother and fellow visionary, t Francisco, are the two youngest children ever to be canonised who were not also martyrs.

From Aleteia

By Philip Kosloski

St. Jacinta did not shy away from pain, but saw it as a way to offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.

St. Jacinta died when she was nine years old from an influenza epidemic that swept through many parts of Europe in 1918-1920. This led to a period of intense pain and suffering for the little child, but she embraced it as a way to offer a sacrifice to God.

St. John Paul II commented on St. Jacinta’s heroism in his homily for her beatification in 2000.

Little Jacinta felt and personally experienced Our Lady’s anguish, offering herself heroically as a victim for sinners. One day, when she and Francisco had already contracted the illness that forced them to bed, the Virgin Mary came to visit them at home, as the little one recounts: “Our Lady came to see us and said that soon she would come and take Francisco to heaven. And she asked me if I still wanted to convert more sinners. I told her yes.”

Even when she knew her brother, Francisco, would die, she had a firm faith in God and wanted to continue being a victim for sinners.

And when the time came for Francisco to leave, the little girl tells him: “Give my greetings to Our Lord and to Our Lady and tell them that I am enduring everything they want for the conversion of sinners.” Jacinta had been so deeply moved by the vision of hell during the apparition of July 13 that no mortification or penance seemed too great to save sinners.

She saw first-hand the horrors of Hell and had an outpouring of love for sinners around the world. St. Jacinta did not want anyone to experience such eternal punishment and was willing to take upon herself pain and suffering on their behalf.

If she could suffer pain and help save sinners, then she welcomed any suffering God wanted to give her.

Spiritual Sloth

St. John of the Cross (1542 – 1591) was a Carmelite priest, mystic, and author. He is also a Doctor of the Church. Both his poetry and his writings on the development of the soul are considered among the greatest on the subject of mystical theology.

From TAN♦Direction

By St John of the Cross

Beginners are not free from many imperfections, in the matter of the two other vices, envy and spiritual sloth. Many of them are often vexed because of other men’s goodness. They are sensibly afflicted when others outstrip them on the spiritual road, and will not endure to hear them praised. They become fretful over other men’s virtues, and are sometimes unable to refrain from contradiction when they are commended; they depreciate them as much as they can, looking on them with an evil eye, and feel it acutely because they themselves are not thought so well of, for they wish to be preferred above all others. This is most opposed to that charity of which St. Paul says, it “rejoiceth with the truth.” If charity admits of envy at all, it is a holy envy that makes us grieve that we have not the virtues that others have; but still rejoicing that they have them, and glad that others outstrip us in the race that they may serve God, we being so full of imperfection ourselves.

As to spiritual sloth, beginners are wont to find their most spiritual occupations irksome, and avoid them as repugnant to their taste, for being so given to sweetness in spiritual things they loathe them when they find none. If they miss once this sweetness in prayer which is their joy—it is expedient that God should deprive them of it in order to try them—they will not resume it; at other times they omit it, or return to it with a bad grace. Thus, under the influence of sloth they neglect the way of perfection—which is the denial of their will and pleasure for God—for the gratification of their own will, which they serve rather than the will of God.

Many of these will have it that God should will that which they will, and are afflicted when they must will that which He wills, reluctantly submitting their own to the divine will. The result is that they frequently imagine that what is not according to their will is also not according to the will of God; and, on the other hand, when they are pleased, they believe that God is pleased. They measure Him by themselves, and not themselves by Him, in direct contradiction to His teaching in the gospel; “He that shall lose his life for My sake, shall find it.” That is, he who shall give up his will for God shall have it, and he who will have it, he shall have it never.

They also find it wearisome to obey when they are commanded to do that which they like not; and because they walk in the way of consolation and spiritual sweetness, they are too weak for the rough trials of perfection. They are like persons delicately nurtured who avoid with heavy hearts all that is hard and rugged, and are offended at the Cross wherein the joys of the spirit consist. The more spiritual the work they have to do, the more irksome do they feel it to be. And because they insist on having their own way and will in spiritual things, they enter on the “strait way that leadeth unto life,” of which Christ speaks, with repugnance and heaviness of heart.

Let this reference to these imperfections among the many under which they labor, who are in the first state of beginners, suffice to show them how necessary it is that God should bring them to the state of proficients, which He effects when He leads them into the dark night of which we shall now speak. In that night He weans them from the breasts of sweetness, in pure aridities and interior darkness, cleanses them from all these imperfections and childish ways, and by ways most different, makes them grow in virtue. For after all the exertions of beginners to mortify themselves in their actions and passions, their success will not be perfect, or even great, until God Himself shall do it for them in the purgation of the dark night. May God be pleased to give me His light, that I may speak profitably of this; for I have great need of it while treating of a night so dark and speaking of a subject so difficult.

This article is taken from a chapter of Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, which is available from TAN Books.

St Ignatius of Loyola

Today's Holy Mass from Corpus Christi Church, Tynong, VIC, Australia. You may follow the Mass at Divinum Officium.