So long as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation. Whence it is written in Job: The life of man upon earth is a warfare (Job 7:1). . .Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and instructed. The saints all passed through many temptations and trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist became reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy, no place so secret, that temptations and trials will not come. Man is never safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from within us. . .Often we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are. Let us humble our souls under the hand of God in every trial and temptation for he will save and exalt the humble in spirit.
– Thomas à Kempis
The study of inspired Scripture is the primary way to learn what our duty is in life. In it, we find not only instruction about conduct, but also accounts of the lives of blessed men and women. . .If we devote ourselves to imitating these saints, then no matter which virtue we may feel ourselves lacking, we can find in Scripture, as if in a medical clinic, the proper medicine for our particular ailment. . .We’re taught endurance by Job. He remained the same when the circumstances of life began to turn against him. In one moment, he was plunged from wealth into poverty, and from being the father of beautiful children into a childless man. He kept the right attitude in his soul all through these changes without being crushed. He wasn’t even stirred to anger against the friends who came to comfort him, but ended up trampling on him and making his troubles worse. When artists paint by imitating another artist’s work, they must constantly look at the model, doing their best to transfer its features to their own work. in the same way, those who seek to perfect themselves in every form of moral excellence must keep their eyes focused on the lives of the saints. . .In this way, they can make the saints’ virtue their own by imitation.
– St. Basil the Great
I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was naked and you covered me: I was in prison and you came to me, sick and you visited me. Lord when did we see you hungry, thirsty, sick and we aided thee? As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:35-40)
Christ, therefore, is present in suffering. It is he who receives our attention, our generosity, our charity, who implores it. . .It will be he who will reward it, and will reward it with a kingdom, not a human, fleeting one, but one prepared by God. From this presence of Christ in a brother who suffers, is born for each of us, the duty to bring relief for suffering. We cannot offer Christ the crumbs which fall from the table of one who is satiated. The crumbs, in the words of the Gospel, are for the dogs. But when he who hungers is Christ, when the homeless one is Christ, what would we not do for him, and what can ever be worthy of him no matter what we do?
– Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro
Bless me, Jesus, and bless me altogether, my soul, my body, my senses, and my faculties. Bless especially my tongue, that it may only speak for your glory. Bless my eyes, that they may not look at anything that might tempt me to displease you. Bless my taste that it may not offend you by intemperance; and bless all the members of my body, that they may all serve you and not offend you. Bless my memory, that it may always remember your love and the favors you have accorded me. Bless my understanding, that it may know your goodness and the obligation I have of loving you; and that it may see all that I must avoid and all that I must do, to conform myself to your holy will. Above all, bless my will, that it may love no other but you, the infinite good, that it may seek for nothing but to please you and may take delight in nothing but what conduces to your glory.
– St. Alphonsus Liguori
The modern world is spiritually ill. This illness is deep, deep down in the human heart, and no one but the living Christ can heal it. In order to heal the illness of our society, Christ must be known as the Divine Physician, if he is to work the miracles of restoring ailing souls to health, and even of raising dead souls back to supernatural life. But to whom should we proclaim Christ? Absolutely speaking, we should proclaim Christ to everyone, since the Lord’s mandate is clear enough. We are to make known the Good News to all creatures. We should proclaim Christ to everyone who enters our lives from this day to our dying day. Everyone.
– Father John Hardon
We need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain . . . God is the foundation of hope. Not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety. His kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us. His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, without ceasing to be spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is “truly life.”
– Pope Benedict XVI
Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and that there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.
– St. Teresa of Avila
The trouble with us is that we want to serve God in our own way and not in his, and according to our own will, not his. When he permits that we be ill, we want to be well; when he wills that we serve him in sufferings, we desire to serve him with works; when he wants us to exercise charity, we want to exercise humility; when he wants resignation from us, we want devotion, piety or some other virtue. And this, not because the things we want are more pleasing to him, but because they give us greater satisfaction. This undoubtedly is the greatest impediment to our perfection, because if we want to become saints according to our will, we will never become saints. In order really to become a saint it is best to do so according to God’s will.
– St. Francis de Sales
“Today’s Reflection” is in paperback:
One of the reasons that hiddenness is such an important aspect of the spiritual life is that it keeps us focused on God. In hiddenness, we do not receive human acclamation, admiration, support, or encouragement. In hiddenness, we have to go to God with our sorrows and joys and trust that God will give us what we most need. In our society we are inclined to avoid hiddenness. We want to be seen and acknowledged. We want to be useful to others and influence the course of events. But as we become visible and popular, we grow dependent on people and their responses and easily lose touch with God, the true source of our being. Hiddenness is the place of purification . . . Even during his active ministry, Jesus continued to return to hidden places to be alone with God. If we don’t have a hidden life with God, our public life for God cannot bear fruit.
– Henri Nouwen
Death and eternity are the two faces of one great destiny. Nothing is in vain; nothing dies. Our life on earth is completed, crowned, and perpetuated in heaven. Earthly life is beautiful and worthy when it is lived in the service of God. All that is beautiful and good in us and around us on earth and in the universe is a mere pallid image of the kingdom of God. The higher one rises toward heaven, the more he understands the great mystery of life which has as its aim: goodness, happiness, God.
– Giorgio Berlutti