Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Twenty-Seventh Day of June

Means Of Surmounting the Obstacles to the Devotion to the Sacred Heart: Mortification.

"If you would know how to overcome the obstacles which your examen has disclosed to you, embrace courageously interior and exterior mortification. Both are absolutely necessary for arriving at perfection: the one cannot exist without the other.

"But the most necessary, beyond all contradiction, is interior mortification, and from this no one can dispense himself. This is the violence which we must unceasingly offer to ourselves in order to seize the kingdom of heaven. In fact, it is impossible to live the life of faith for any length of time without dying a thousand times a day to your inclinations and the self-seeking of self-love, for the whole employment of a soul in this life consists in loving and hating: loving God with our whole heart, and hating sin without reserve.

"Opportunities for practicing this mortification are constantly presenting themselves. There is no one who cannot mortify his natural disposition, desires and inclinations, who cannot keep silence when his natural vivacity would urge him to reply or vanity prompt him to speak. It is in such acts as these that interior mortification principally consists, and we succeed by this means in weakening self-love and subjecting it to reason, and thus gradually ridding ourselves of our imperfections. It is useless to flatter ourselves that we love Jesus Christ if we are not mortified. All our practices of devotion, the finest sentiments of piety, are to be suspected if unattended by this perfect mortification. It was for this reason that when some one was spoken of as a saint in the presence of St. Ignatius he replied, "He will truly be so if he is truly mortified."

"But it is not enough to mortify ourselves for a time only and in some one particular. We must mortify ourselves as far as possible in everything and at all times but with prudence and discretion. A single irregular satisfaction that you allow to nature has more effect in rendering her overbearing and rebellious than a hundred victories which you might gain over her would have in weakening her power.

"The practice of this mortification is familiar to all such as have a true desire of being perfect. There is nothing that does not afford them an occasion for thwarting their natural inclinations. It is enough that they have a great desire to see or to speak to make them cast down their eyes or hold their tongue. The desire of hearing news or of knowing what is passing or what is said is to them a constant subject of mortification and it is the more meritorious in proportion as it recurs more frequently and is known to God alone. A happy expression, a witty pleasantry, might distinguish them in conversation, but it may also furnish them with matter for a noble sacrifice. Are they interrupted a hundred times, in some occupation of great importance? A hundred times they will reply with as much patience and sweetness as if they had not been at all engaged.

"Inconveniences, arising from circumstances of place, weather, variety of character, etc., again supply innumerable occasions of mortifying oneself with great merit, and it may be said, that the greatest graces and the highest sanctity depend ordinarily upon the generosity we show in mortifying ourselves with constancy on those little occasions which are unceasingly presenting themselves" (Croiset).

Do not, however, suppose that by entering on the practice of mortification you will have to lead a melancholy and hard life. The yoke of Jesus Christ is sweet, and His burden light. Did the saints deceive themselves when they exclaimed: "I am filled with comfort: I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation?" Repletus sum consolatione, superabundo gaudio in omni tribulatione? (2 Cor. vii. 4). Writing to his brethren in Rome, St Francis Xavier says: "I am in a country where I am in want of all the conveniences of life, but I experience so many interior consolations that I am in danger of losing my sight from the tears of joy which I shed." Where is the worldly person who at the pinnacle of his ambition or in the full enjoyment of his pleasures can make a similar avowal?

"A little courage! It’s the first step only that demands a sacrifice. Make the experiment for yourself. A thing must be worth but little which is not worth the trial.

"If after a fortnight of entire and constant mortification," said a great servant of God, "we do not taste that sweetness which others have experienced, I will allow it to be said that the life of those who truly love Jesus Christ is wearisome and that the yoke of Our Lord is heavy" (Croiset).

Whatever difficulties you may meet with in renouncing yourself, have recourse to the Heart of Jesus, and they will disappear. One day St. Margaret Mary felt so strong a repugnance within herself that it seemed as if she could not bring herself to obey upon our Lord reproaching her for her cowardice in conquering herself for the love of Him. She said to Him: "What would You have me do? My will is stronger than myself." Our Lord replied: "Place it n the wound of my Heart. There it will find strength to overcome itself." "O my God!" she exclaimed with transport, "bury it so deep within Your Heart and secure it there so firmly that it may never escape!"

Practice: Together with the general examen, practice also the particular examen. Take for the subject of it your predominant fault or some virtue which you wish to acquire and practice it in the following manner:

1. On rising, make a firm resolution to be on your guard against this particular defect.
2. About noon, examine whether you have committed any faults in regard of the point you proposed to yourself.
3. In the evening make a similar examen.

The fruit of this examen depends upon the fervor with which our morning resolution has been made, the exactness of our inquiry, our watchfulness over ourselves, the fervor with which we beg the divine assistance, and the care we take to note down our failings, in order that we may observe the progress we make from one day to another.

St. Ignatius practiced this exercise with such exactness from the time of his conversion that, even on the day of his death, he was still careful to note his faults in a little book which was found under his pillow. The most eminent persons of his order have imitated the fidelity of their founder in this salutary practice. If they thought that they were not doing too much in taking such precautions can we regard them as beneath us or as imposing too irksome a restraint upon us?

Ejaculatory Prayer: O Jesus, may Thy desolate Heart teach me to avoid, despise, and hate all earthly satisfactions. (Bl. Henry Suso).

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

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