Man’s great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God – God who has loved us and who continues to love us “to the end,” until all “is finished.” Whoever is moved by love begins to perceive what “life” really is. Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves; it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with Him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with Him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we “live.”
– Pope Benedict XVI
What precisely is our purpose? If we do not know the answer, we are wearing ourselves out for nothing. A traveler without a route suffers all the exhaustion of his journey and gets nowhere. The aim of our journey is the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Heaven. And our purpose must be purity of heart, for without this, no one will gain the kingdom. Let us fix our mind on purity of heart; this will plot our path and enable us to run straight ahead, confident of where we are heading. And if our thoughts sometimes stray, let us return to this purity at once. This one aim will set us on a straight path, so that all our effort will contribute to our single goal.
– John Cassian
Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God, and that all besides is but folly and vanity. You and I have lived in monastic life more than forty years. Have we employed those years in loving and serving God, who by his mercy has called us to this state, and for that very end? . . . Since by his mercy he gives us still a little time, let us begin in earnest; let us repair the lost time; let us return with a wholehearted trust to that Father of mercies, who is always ready to receive us into his loving arms. Let us renounce and renounce generously, with single heart, for the love of him, all that is not he; he deserves infinitely more. Let us think of him perpetually. Let us put all our trust in him.
– Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection
We believe that doing little things for God is as much a way of loving him as doing great deeds. Besides, we are not very well informed about the greatness of our acts. There are nevertheless two things we know for sure: first, whatever we do can’t help but be small; and second, whatever God does is great. And so we go about our activities with a sense of great peace. We know that all our work consists in not shifting about under grace; in not choosing what we would do; and that it is God who acts through us. There is nothing difficult for God; the one who grows anxious at difficulties is the one who counts on his own capacity for action . . . Our feet march upon a street, but our heartbeat reverberates through the whole world. That is why our small acts . . . perfectly join together the love of God and the love of our neighbor . . . And thus life becomes a celebration.
– Madeleine Delbrel
Lord, you know that you alone are the life of my soul, my highest love, my light, my God, my all. Without you life is so dead, so empty. Without you, Lord, life is not worth living.
– Blessed Pauline von Mallinekrodt
O Lord, what is the trust that I can have in this life, or what is my greatest solace among all things under heaven? Is it not you, my Lord God, whose mercy is without measure? When have things been well with me without you, and when have things not been well with me if you were present? I would rather be poor with you than rich without you. I would rather be with you as a pilgrim in this world, than without you in heaven. Where you are is heaven, and where you are not is both death and hell. You are to me, all that I desire, and therefore it is fitting for me to cry to you and heartily to pray to you. I have nothing save you to trust in that can help me in my necessity, for you are my hope, you are my trust, you are my comfort, and you are my most faithful helper in every need.
– Thomas à Kempis
Whatever be my age, whatever the number of my years, I am ever narrowing the interval between time and eternity. I am ever changing in myself . . . I know O my God, I must change, if I am to see thy face. I must undergo the change of death. Body and soul must die to this world. My real self, my soul, must change by a true regeneration. Let me day by day be molded upon thee, and be changed from glory to glory, by ever looking toward thee, and ever leaning on thy arm . . . I know not what lies before me but I know as much as this. I know, too, that if thou art not with me, my change will be for the worse, not for the better. All will turn to good if I have Jesus with me, yesterday and today the same, and forever.
– St. John Henry Newman
The evening before Jacob (of the Old Testament) was to meet his brother and attempt a reconciliation, he fell asleep beside a river. Such perfect virtue makes a soul quiet, peaceful, unchanging. This is what our Lord meant by his words, “I leave you peace, my peace I give you.” . . Men who are striving for perfection do not allow themselves to be moved easily by events of the world. They are not afraid whatever trouble comes their way. They are not constantly paralyzed with worry; they meet pain with courage. With their feet firmly planted on the shore, they watch without fear as the waves of human storms arise. It is Christ who gives this steadfastness to Christian souls. . .It was in this way that Jacob, who had cleansed his heart of resentment and so was a man of peace, went ahead of his family to be alone; it was then that he wrestled with God. And the truth is that everyone who frees themselves from worldly things draws near to the likeness and image of God. And this struggle with God means nothing less than to strive for perfection; to encounter Him who is so much greater than ourselves is to gain a unique likeness to the Lord.
– St. Ambrose
When we lose touch with the eternal truths, we get submerged in the weeds that sprout all over the garden of our life. They are senseless trivialities that assume an air of real importance. Though they pretend to have a purpose, they are quite futile, and merely add obscurity and confusion to a life which is gradually engulfed in a sort of eternal twilight without light or direction . . . It is hard enough to meet the ordinary hazards incidental to every existence; but the Godless person has no defenses and is delivered up, bound and disarmed . . . There is only one remedy for such a state; each person must return to God, listen to his inner voice, and consciously make contact with him.
– Father Alfred Delp, S.J.
The Word of God is not a word to apply in our daily lives at some later date; it is a word to heal us through, and in our listening, here and now. The questions therefore are: How does God come to me as I listen to the Word? Where do I discern the healing hand of God touching me through the Word? How is my sadness, my grief and my mourning being transformed at this very moment? Do I sense the fire of God’s love purifying my heart and giving me new life? These questions lead me to the sacrament of the Word, the sacred place of God’s real presence.
– Henri Nouwen