THE FOURTH BOOK:
ADMONITIONS HELPFUL TOWARD UNITING ONE'S SELF
WITH THE HEART OF JESUS IN BLISS
CHAPTER XVII. THAT WE SHOULD ENDEAVOR BY EVERY MEANS TO ATONE FOR THE INSULTS, WHICH ARE OFFERED TO THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, they repaid Me evil for good, and returned Me hatred for My love.
Whatever is best and most precious in Heaven, whatever on earth is most useful and wholesome to men, whatever is most sacred and consoling in Religion, I placed, by the disinterested generosity of My Heart, by the most pure love, in this Sacrament.
Are not these things so great, My Child, that if the hearts of all should be consumed with love; if the tongues of all mortals should together be employed to return just thanks; if the whole world should sacrifice itself as a victim of praise; all this should be still so far from what is deserved, as things Divine surpass those which are human, as the finite is below the infinite?
Heaven itself stands astounded at the boundless grandeur of this gift: and the Angelic Spirits exclaim, in admiration: Behold our God! behold the marvels He has wrought upon earth! Thinkest thou, then, that, on earth, there can be found a person, who is insensible or indifferent to this gift of gifts?
And yet, My Child, there are souls without feeling, without affection, thankless creatures that, so far from loving Me, the generous donor of a treasure of such blessings; on the contrary, do use these very blessings to load My Heart with bitter insults.
2. Behold! very many run whithersoever their interest or passion impels them; but, in order to visit Me, they are unwilling to leave their house, or to turn ever so little aside from their way.
So little do they esteem My gifts, so cold- hearted do they feel toward Me, that they are unwilling to undergo the least inconvenience of nature to come hither, to ask for the good things I have prepared, or to testify their love for Me, who, for love of the, came down from Heaven through every inconvenience, and abide here for their sake.
To how many can I truly say: So long a time have I been with you, and ye have not known Me!
To them I am as a stranger; and, as an alien, I am neglected by them. So little do they think of Me: so little do they care for Me!
3. And even among them that frequently resort to My Tabernacle, how many there are who do indeed come, but place an abomination in the holy place! For, how many present themselves before My eyes, in My sacred temple as idols, to lead men astray from devotional love for Me, and to turn away their mind and attention toward themselves!
Not a few resolve in their mind things execrable; cherish in their heart things detestable; and, by their will, commit sins in My very sight, thus shamefully insulting Me.
How many, also, who by look, or gesture, or by their very dress sadden the Angels, and exasperate Me!
How many there are who would rightly blush, to demean themselves toward a mortal with so much insolence, so much irreverence, as they here exhibit toward Me!
4. Nowhere, My Child, are more cruel affronts heaped upon Me than in this Divine mystery. Where abounds the goodness of My Heart, there also abounds the wickedness of men.
For, how many heretics do impiously deny Me! how many unbelievers do horribly blaspheme Me, whom they know not!
But, My Child, although these things are most grievous, they are, however, less painful to My Heart than the horrifying profanations of them that receive Me sacrilegiously through Communion. O how great an insult! how abominable an attempt, when men, even the dispensers of My mysteries, approach Me, whilst they possess the devil within themselves; and, after sacrilegiously receiving Me, cast Me, their God, at the feet of Satan, who sits enthroned in their heart.
5. The voice of the Disciple.---How long, O Lord God, how long shall sinners do such things with impunity? Arise, O Thou All-powerful One, scatter those monsters! place the sacrilegious wretches like stubble before the face of the raging fire: for this they have deserved.
The voice of Jesus.---Not so, My Child, not so as yet, although they deserve, even at present, the extreme of punishment: I wish to show that the love of My Heart is greater than the malice of the heart of men.
My mind, therefore, is disposed to give them still grace, that they may yet be able to save themselves. For if, co-operating with the same, they reform, it will be the triumph, the joy, the exultation of My Heart, at the salvation of these souls, for which I did not hesitate to lay down My life.
And if they are unwilling to be converted, and to love Me in return, I have time sufficient to satisfy My justice, since everlasting ages are Mine.
Meanwhile, Child, lo! I will continue to bear those insults for love of thee, for the love of the Elect; whom I love more than I am offended by sinners, and for whom I gladly continue to reside here.
6. Thou, My Child, wilt not be insensible, I trust, to this singular excess of love, by which My Heart, during so many ages, endures such indignities from the wicked, in order that It may bestow upon thee all the good things which It has stored up in this Sacrament. If thou lovest Me, thou wilt cheerfully do whatsoever thou canst to make amends for sacrifices so numerous and so great, which My Heart here makes; and to repair My honor, which is here injured in so many unworthy ways.
Indeed, it is one of the chief ends of the devotion to My Heart, to atone, so far as possible, for the insults which My Heart receives from every side in this most holy Sacrament.
Do not believe thyself a true Disciple of My Heart, if thou dost not burn with zeal for Its honor.
7. Here, then, before My Tabernacle, do thou frequently pour forth the ardent affections of thy heart,---affections of thankfulness, of generosity, of self-offering, of manifold love, whereby My Heart may be comforted.
Let thy devotion be fervent, when here thou prayest, or worshipest, or busiest thyself in any manner; so that, as much as thou canst, thou make up for the indifference of the lukewarm, and awake in them an incentive to shake off their sluggishness.
Exhibit everywhere a sincere, not a fictitious veneration for the most Blessed Sacrament, that thou mayst in some sort make amends to My honor; and, whilst edifying others, induce them to reverence Me, and thus lighten the burden laid upon My Heart.
Frequently offer up thy good works, thy sufferings, and all the meritorious deeds which are performed in the Church throughout the world, to honor Me in the holy Eucharist. For the same end offer up the virtues and merits of all the Angels and Saints: all the praise, and honor, and whatsoever else is done in Heaven.
As often as thou hearest or celebratest Mass, or receivest holy Communion, among others, have this intention, to atone, by this holy action, for the insults, which at any time have here been offered, by thyself or by others, to My Heart.
Nay more, My Child, imitating My Heart, pra:' for those who behave so unworthily towards Me; that the patience of My Heart in waiting for them, and Its readiness in pardoning them, when returning, may triumph, to Its own great joy, and to their everlasting happiness.
Lastly, whether interiorly or exteriorly, endeavor to do everything thou art able, that, insults being set aside, all may show Me honor and love, in this holy Sacrament.
8. The voice of the Disciple.---O most sweet Jesus! how greatly didst Thou honor us! how much didst Thou love us! Lo! for love of us Thou camest down from Heaven upon earth: and, to lead us from earth to Heaven, Thou didst not cease to labor and suffer.
Thou didst sacrifice all Thy interests, and shed even Thy Blood, to redeem us when dead: Thou didst suffer death to give us life: Thou wast willing that Thy Heart, wounded by love, should remain open, that Thou mightst thence bestow upon us all blessings: Thou didst condescend to be wholly ours, always and everywhere.
In Thy mortal life, Thou gavest Thyself to us as the price of salvation, the fountain of life, the pattern of perfection, the way and guide to Heaven.
In Thy Sacramental life, Thou givest Thyself over and above to us as the food of life, the sanctification of soul and body, the solace of our pilgrimage, the abundance of all things good.
In Thy glorious life itself, Thou givest Thyself to us as the Advocate with the Father, as the giver of the Spirit the Comforter, as an everlasting reward.
What more, O most loving Jesus! what more could Thy Heart invent, what more could It do, which It did not invent and accomplish for us?
How great a thankfulness, then, how great a love, how great a fidelity hadst Thou a right to expect!
But alas! Lord, alas! instead of gratitude, of love, of fidelity, oh! behold, affronts, profanations, sacrileges, and every most cruel misdeed!
Was it this, O good Jesus! was it this,---which moves the Angels themselves to shed tears,---was it this Thou hadst to expect from us for all Thou didst do, and endure, and bestow, and prepare for us.
9. Would, O Lord, that, with my blood, I could wash away things so horrible! Would that I were able, at the cost of my own honor and life, to atone for indignities so great, insults so cruel!
But, since I can only desire these things: I offer to Thee, as a compensation for all the injuries ever done to Thy Heart, as an atonement for Thy honor,---in whatsoever manner it may have been wounded by myself and others,---all my thoughts, words, actions, all that I may do or suffer.
For the same end, I offer to Thee my whole self, to undergo all the humiliations, to suffer all the insults, to endure whatsoever Thy Divine good pleasure may will.
I offer to Thee, also, all the pious affections, the holy desires, the meritorious works of all the faithful who are pleasing to Thee, throughout the world: all the Sacrifices of the Mass, the holy Communions, in short, whatsoever is done for Thee in the whole Church.
I, likewise, offer to Thee the praises, and thanksgivings, and blessings, and all the testimonial of love of all the heavenly Spirits, and of the Saints who reign in Heaven.
Accept, I beseech Thee, O most kind Jesus these offerings in union with the merits of Thy most Sacred Heart: receive them through the Immaculate Heart of Thy Virgin Mother, through which I dare to present all this to Thee.
Through that innocent Heart: guilty as I am, I yet do confidingly draw near to Thy Heart; and implore mercy and grace for myself and for all other miserable sinners.
Spare, O Lord, spare us sinners: forgive the evils we have done: forget the insults we have offered to Thy Heart.
Grant that, by purity of life, we may repair the past; that, by the fervor of our affections, we may return Thy love; and, that, by a persevering fidelity, we may delight Thy Heart.
CHAPTER XVIII. THAT WE MUST PROVE OURSELVES BEFORE WE APPROACH
THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of that Bread, and drink of the Cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Body of his Lord.
No small punishment threatens him, that receives the Lord his God unworthily. Behold! My Blood shall be upon him, and shall cause a curse to fall upon his body and soul.
Consider, Child, how indignant thou art at the conduct of Judas, the betrayer. But, he surpasses in audaciousness, ingratitude, and wickedness this faithless Disciple, who,---not restrained by the most lamentable fate of Judas, and abusing My forewarnings, as well as My favors,---whilst at this most sacred banquet he reclines on My very Heart, betrays Me by a sacrilegious Communion.
How dreadful, then, how terrible the expectation of judgment! how fearful a punishment awaits him who betrays, who persecutes Me by so cruel a baseness!
If they, who misused the ancient types of this Divine Sacrament, were punished so severely: if the sons of Heli, because they had behaved in an unbecoming manner in the Sanctuary of old; if Oza, because he had irreverently touched the Ark of the Covenant; if Balthassar, because he had used the sacred vessels for an unholy purpose; if all these, in punishment of their crimes, were overtaken by death, what does that sacrilegious wretch deserve, who, so far as in him lies, tramples under foot and spurns God Himself, his Creator and Saviour?
Would not the earth open and swallow him alive, did not My Heart prevent it, in order that It may still offer him a chance of salvation?
O crime! O enormity! how horrible it is, for one guilty of so great an impiety, to fall into the hands of an Almighty God!
2. The voice of the Disciple.---Lord! Lord! I shudder with horror when I reflect on the heinousness of such an abominable crime!
Prostrate in the dust before Thee, I beg and beseech Thee: preserve me from an unworthy Communion of Thy Body and Blood.
By Thy Heart Itself, I implore Thee, Lord God, make me understand what it is to eat this Bread and drink this Cup unworthily, that knowing it, I may sedulously be on my guard, lest I draw upon myself a most frightful condemnation.
The voice of Jesus.---It is, My Child, to receive the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, whilst the consciousness of a grievous sin burdens him that receives.
Lest, therefore, he take so great a mystery unworthily, and consequently death and condemnation, let a person prove his conscience.
And this proving is necessary, so that no one, self-conscious of a mortal sin, how contrite soever he may appear to himself, should approach the holy Eucharist, without previous sacramental Confession.
3. The voice of the Disciple.---Forgive me, I beseech Thee, O Lord, if I appear not to understand fully what is said; for I am dull of comprehension.
Pardon me, also, if I ask things which seem less appropriate; for I am uneasy in heart.
Not that I am not willing to make a greater preparation for so great a Sacrament than that which is required not to receive unworthily; but because the enemy of my salvation, sometimes, suggests that, even after I have done what I could, I should be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord, were I to approach the holy Communion.
Thus, when darkness covers my interior, and the enemy roars in the obscurity, so that I cannot clearly discern objects, nor distinctly hear Thy voice within me; I either approach with reluctance and with danger, or, deceived by the wiles of the devil, I abstain from the best remedy for all my miseries.
Show me, therefore, I entreat Thee, what signifies to be conscious of mortal sin. For, this being well understood, I shall more easily avoid the snares of the devil, and guard more effectually against an unworthy Communion.
4. The voice of Jesus.---My Child, he is self-conscious of mortal sin who knows in his heart that he is in a state of mortal sin. For he is conscious of a thing, who has the consciousness of it. Now, consciousness is certain knowledge.
Knowledge, however, is not to be sought in the same way in all things, but in every matter according to its own manner: absolute in matters absolute, physical in things physical, moral in what belongs to morality.
Wherefore, Child, they that are wont to sin voluntarily, if they doubt, whether, when solicited to a sin, they did commit that sin, are morally certain, from what commonly happens to them, that they are guilty of that sin.
On the contrary, when thou strivest sincerely to cling to Me, or so long as thou art habitually in dread of being deprived of Divine grace; if thou knowest not, if thou hast no certain knowledge, that, in grievous matters, thou didst voluntarily consent to the temptations of the enemy, or didst, in any way, lose the state of grace; if thou receivest the Sacrament, thou dost not receive it unworthily.
5. Let these truths, My Child, ever console thee, let them encourage, let them guide thee; especially, when serenity does not reign within---when the noise of the foe fills thy heart.
Thou wilt, however, do rightly, if thou ever makest as perfect an act of contrition as thou art able for all, even thy hidden transgressions, such as they are in the sight of God; that, being thus better disposed, thou mayst, amid the Angels, approach the Divine mystery.
It will, likewise, prove useful, if, when thou art about to approach the sacred table, thou provest thyself even in slighter sins; and, by an ardent love, purifiest thyself from them and all inordinate affections; so that, entering with a stainless wedding-garment, thou mayst sit down with Me to the heavenly banquet.
If then, Child, thou dost not consent to mortal sins, although thou feelest thyself tempted thereto; if thou dost not voluntarily commit venial ones; if thou strugglest to go against nature when it opposes itself to the Divine good pleasure; behold with the permission of the director of thy conscience, it is lawful for thee to approach holy Communion, whensoever thou art willing.
And, although this purity is infinitely below that Divine purity, which is received in the most Blessed Sacrament; yet, it suffices for man, in order to frequent with humble confidence and affection this sacred and sanctifying mystery, and to be thereby more perfectly purified.
For this Divine Sacrament is not instituted for creatures that are by nature Angels, who cannot sin, but for men who are angels by desire, and are not willing to sin; so that by it they may attain to the perfection of purity and sanctity, which is rather the fruit of Communion than a preparation for it.
6. It belongs peculiarly to the demon, to turn away from frequent Communion souls that are sufficiently well-disposed; and every one among men who does so, whether directly or indirectly, imi- tates the demon, and does the devil's work.
Undoubtedly, I require reverence; but I desire love more: and thou wilt show the one and the other better by frequent than by infrequent Communion.
I, indeed, do not desire, My Child, that thou shouldst often approach holy Communion, and at the same time continue to sin, although only venially, or follow the ill-ordered likings or dislikings of nature; but this I will, that, with a fixed will thou be determined to abstain both from committing even the least sin, and from following the inordinate inclinations of nature, and that thou frequently approach thus the holy Sacrament, in spite of what they may think who, in this matter, defend the part of the evil spirit.
If, in consequence of this determination, thou art wont to lead a pure life, then, Child, even if, through frailty, thou fall occasionally into some defect, do not on that account omit thy usual Communion; but, after having made the requisite proving, come to it with a more intense preparation.
Consider, Child, and remember, how greatly My Heart is honored and delighted by a pious and holy Communion, with how great a joy Heaven is filled, with how much comfort the faithful departed are helped, with how many gifts and graces a well-disposed soul is replenished, to secure her salvation the better, and to attain to sanctity.
Are all these results not such that they do not only counterbalance, but infinitely outweigh, the labor or effort required for the proving and cleansing of thyself?
7. There is no one who cannot in this manner prove himself, cleanse himself, in fine, dispose himself; since to all grace is given for this purpose.
Nor can anyone attribute the lack of disposition to nature, or to his condition in life; since neither nature nor condition in life, but an ill-regulated will, or carelessness, renders the soul indisposed.
Excite thy fervor, My Child, stir up thy heart for a matter of such importance, that, in this life, there can be naught greater, naught more useful for thee.
Here every one receives the reward of the labor which he has employed in preparation, and, in pro- portion as he draws nigh purified and disposed, he departs laden with graces and favors.
8. The voice of the Disciple.---Thanks to Thee, most kind Jesus, for that, in so weighty a matter, Thou instructest me so clearly, so distinctly; and, with so great a benignity of Heart, invitest and pressest me, although so poor and wretched, to a frequent participation of the Divine banquet.
Henceforth, I will come with more security and cheerfulness to this sacred Table; since I know, how I must prove and dispose myself, as well to be acceptable to Thee, as to partake with fruit of this heavenly food.
I ardently desire, Thou knowest it, O Lord, and I most firmly resolve, to live free from every voluntary sin whatsoever, and from every inordinate affection; that, without hindrance. I may, as frequently as possible, receive Thee in holy Communion.
Whatsoever may be wanting to me, poor and destitute as I am, do Thou, I beseech Thee, good and merciful Jesus, supply from the treasury of Thy Heart: clothe me with the white robe of innocence: adorn me with the beauty of faith, hope, charity; and of all virtues, that I may deserve to appear among the holy Angels, and banquet with Thee, unto Thy joy and honor, and my consolation and sanctification.
CHAPTER XIX. HOW WE OUGHT TO PREPARE OURSELVES FOR HOLY COMMUNION
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, My time is near at hand; do thou await Me: behold! I will come, and will enter with thee, and I will make My abode with thee.
And when I come, I shall not be alone, but many Angels with Me; nor shall I come with empty hands, but bring along riches, and honors, and happiness, that I may enrich and ennoble thee; that I may make thee contented and blissful.
Prepare, therefore, a place for Me, in which there is not only no stain, but wherein also everything is becomingly adorned.
If thou considerest well, whom thou art about to receive, thou wilt, indeed, acknowledge that, even if thou didst possess the innocence of Angels, thou oughtest still to prepare thyself with the utmost care.
For, with how great a purity, how great a holiness should his body and soul be glittering and adorned, who does not merely approach and em- brace purity itself, sanctity itself; but receives the same, is incorporated with the same!
Do, then, whatsoever thou canst, to prepare thyself in body and soul for this grand work.
2. Grand, indeed, is this work: for thou preparest a dwelling-place not for a superior or a prince, but for thy Saviour-God: neither dost thou labor for perishable things, but for everlasting possessions.
Wherefore, some time before the day previous to My coming, begin to dispose and prepare thyself remotely, according to thy condition, by some acts of self-denial and other virtues.
Direct thy good works, yea, even those which are indifferent, thy words, and thoughts also, to this object; and offer them all, that they may be as so many ornaments, pleasing in My sight, of the place which thou art exerting thyself to prepare for Me.
3. Excite and cherish a living desire of the happiness which thou art about to enjoy in the holy Communion. This will stir up and animate all the rest.
And why shouldst thou not be goaded on by this desire, if thou considerest in how manifold ways thou standest in need of Me? Why shouldst thou not experience an ardent longing, if thou givest heed to the great blessings which thou art about to receive? Why, in fine, shouldst thou not be wholly inflamed, if thou meditatest, how eagerly My Heart desires to bestow Itself upon thee?
In correspondence with this desire of My Heart let thy heart, in return, long for Me; and let it, from time to time, renew and inflame its eagerness to be dissolved by love, and be with Me.
Now address the Angels: Have ye seen whom my soul loves? I adjure you that ye tell Him that I languish with love. Then call upon the Saints: I entreat you, Brethren, by our Lord and by His Heart, assist me with your prayers.
Again, express to Me thy longing desire: O my Beloved! my chosen one among all others, show me where Thou feedest among the lilies. Who will grant me that I may find Thee, that I may embrace Thee, that I may lead Thee into the dwelling of my heart! Bid, O bid me experience how good Thou art to them that seek Thee; how sweet to them that find, how ineffable to them that possess Thee! Come, Lord, and do not delay.
With these, and other affections suited to the state of thy soul, entertain thy fervor; excite a spiritual hunger after the most wholesome Sacrament of the Eucharist, which demands a hungry soul, and fills and satiates the hungry soul with good things.
4. Make, besides, a pure and holy intention, and cause the same to bear on the various ends, particular as well as general, which thou hast proposed to thyself.
Beware, My Child, lest thou approach the holy Communion for form's sake, or through custom, as it were without any purpose: nor be thou less on thy guard, lest thou go to it in order that thou mayst appear devout, or, on the contrary, that thou mayst avoid reproach; or, lastly, that thou mayst experience sensible consolation.
Proceed with straightforwardness, follow after things pure and holy, according to the Divine good pleasure, from which thou oughtest for no consideration whatsoever to turn aside. For, whatsoever is foreign thereto, is of no value, how good soever it may appear.
Thus it will happen, that, when about to approach the holy Sacrament, after a careful preparation, if thou dost not feel, according to thy desire, the fervor and relish of devotion, thou wilt bear it in peace and with profit, resigned to My divine Will, which thou wilt deem the greatest of all consolations.
And if thou dost experience the ardor or sweetness of devotion, thou wilt receive it with a humble and grateful mind, and relish it in thy innermost heart; knowing that it is not an effect of thy own seeking, but a gift of the goodness of My Heart.
5. When the time is now near at hand, that I am about to come, think that thou hearest thy Guardian Angel, who says to thee: Behold, the Bridegroom comes: go thou forth to meet Him.
Arise thou quickly, and, having with thee thy lamp lighted with sanctifying grace, hasten to My holy Tabernacle, watch there, and make the immediate preparation for My coming.
Let thy heart be dilated, let all the powers of thy soul exult: let the present felicity replenish thee wholly inwardly and outwardly.
Imagine that now thou art no longer on earth, but amidst the Angels, who invisibly surround thee.
6. And whilst I tarry in the Tabernacle, adore Me with a lively faith, cherish a great hope, renew thy love for thy neighbor. Apply thyself diligently to this: insist on this with much affection.
Then, occupy thyself with acts of those virtues which are peculiarly pleasing to My Heart, and which I Myself practiced in a marvelous manner in the Supper-room, before I instituted this Sacrament; thus giving thee an example, that as I did in My Heart, so thou shouldst also do before holy Communion.
For, how deeply did I there humble Myself, when I cast Myself at My Disciples' feet, and washed and wiped them!
Taught by such an example, humble thyself, as much as thou art able, with thy whole heart, with thy whole mind, with all thy strength.
And, when thou hast done all thou oughtest and canst, acknowledge that thou art unworthy to receive Me, to enter into Divine companionship with Me.
What more do I ask than a soul truly humble, in which My Soul finds its delight, upon which My Heart may pour out the abundance of Its graces, and which My pure love may pervade, ravish, transform?
By love, My Child, by love was this most delightful Sacrament instituted: by love it must be received.
As the love of My Heart in this mystery is exceeding, and pours itself out without measure, without restriction: so, Child, when thou becomest a partaker of the same, give thyself wholly up, without limit, without terms, to Divine love.
This living love, this pure affection, this entire surrendering of thyself, is the highest preparation for holy Communion; because it is the nearest disposition to the Divine union.
Here, therefore, do thou linger: here act with thy whole heart; ask, give, according as the Spirit of grace will interiorly teach or direct thee.
7. If thou lovest Me purely, My Child, thou wilt perceive that it is not in thy power to love Me sufficiently: and thou wilt feel, that whatsoever thou dost or art able to do, is as nothing compared to what thou seest is befitting to receive Me in thy heart.
Wherefore, be not satisfied with those adornments of virtue which thou thyself makest ready or possessest; but borrow from the Angels, the Saints, and all the good, whatsoever ornaments they have, for the solemn occasion, when thou art going to receive Me.
And this thou canst do, My Child, if, with a sincere and fervent heart, thou desirest, and offerest to Me, for thyself, all and each one of the merits and virtues of the Angels and Saints; that by these thou mayst be pleasing to Me, and receive Me in a more worthy and perfect manner:
If, for the same end, thou wishest efficaciously to receive Me with that purity, faith, hope, charity: with that humility, love, and holiness, with which all the just and virtuous, yea, My Immaculate Virgin-Mother herself, have ever received Me in the Sacrament.
Holy affections of this kind, Child, if they flow from a pure love for Me, are so pleasing to Me that I am not less delighted with these pure and burning desires, than if thou didst thyself possess the things desired.
But, My Child, seek thou after still better things: perfect the adornment of thy heart with the very virtues of My Heart.
Finally, when I come out of the Tabernacle, when thou hearest the words: Behold the Lamb of God! inwardly and outwardly collected, and full of reliance upon the goodness of My Heart, come thou amidst the Angels, come forth to meet Me. At this supreme moment, forget in some manner thyself, and, intent on Me alone, receive Me with all thy affections, and enter with Me into thy heart.
8. Behold here the manner, My Child, in which it behooves thee to prepare thyself for holy Communion. If, as is befitting in a Disciple of My Heart, thou drawest these preparatory acts out of thy own heart, instead of reading them out of a book, thou shalt find this method, as it were, ever new.
For thou wilt elicit these acts, now in one way, then in another; according as thy wants, or thy devotion, or the inward unction of the spirit shall move thee.
But, if thou canst not yet act interiorly in this manner, make use of a book; but use it so as to learn by degrees to converse with Me in thy heart, and to be able, at last, to make thy immediate preparation without a book.
Retain, therefore, the method, but vary the manner of following it; shorten one act, lengthen then another, according to the present state of thy soul.
Attend not to the form of the acts, but to the sincerity of the affections: bring forward, in a simple and affectionate manner, the sentiments of thy heart: but, above all, follow the spirit.
Thus it will come to pass, My Child, that thou wilt prepare thyself every time in some new way, adapted to thy present circumstances, and also with new fervor.
For this it will help thee much, to dispose thyself, and to approach holy Communion in such a manner, as if it were to be the last of thy life.
And, in truth, Child, thou knowest not whether thy next Communion shall not be the last: but this thou knowest, that some one unknown to thee shall be the last.
It is, therefore, a prudent and pious counsel to go to every Communion with such a disposition and such an intention, that, if it be the last, it may be thy viaticum unto life everlasting.
9. The voice of the Disciple.---How great and wonderful is the goodness of Thy Heart, Lord Jesus, that Thou dost so instruct me, and teach me a method so holy and so sweet, to prepare myself for holy Communion!
With thankfulness do I embrace, O Lord, and faithfully will I follow the method Thou givest me; which I own,---as it is so simple and varied,---will be easy and ever new.
But, behold! when I shall have performed whatsoever I can, to prepare myself for Thy reception within my heart: what is it all compared with Thy dignity? Or what is it all in comparison with the bliss which I am to enjoy?
In that most delightful hour, when Thou wilt enter into my innermost heart, what shall be wanting to my felicity? Shall I not find in Thee whatsoever I can desire?
For Thou, O unfailing fountain of all good! Thou art my life and joy; Thou art my virtue and sanctification, Thou my wealth and honor, Thou my rest and sweetness, and every bliss.
O Jesus, the most beloved of all the beloved! how I long for Thee! how I stand in need of Thee! O when wilt Thou come? When wilt Thou admit me, miserable, weak, ignorant, hungry, and lonely!
For Thou, O my Jesus! Thou art my Saviour, my Physician, my Leader; Thou art my Shepherd, my Friend, the beloved of my soul.
O Lamb of God! Thou who takest away the sins of the world, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter beneath my roof; but have pity on me, follow the goodness of Thy Heart, come O my Beloved, O Thou the Bridegroom of my soul, sweeter than honey and the honey-comb; fair with the beauty of innocence, blushing with the purity of love, draw me to Thee, make me like to Thee.
Assist me to prepare myself, in holiness, for Thy coming: grant that I may keep my lamp trimmed and lighted; that I may neither sleep nor be sluggish; but that I may so watch for Thee in prayer that I may so glow with piety, that, when Thou comest out, I may go forth to meet Thee with my soul prepared, and be found worthy to enter with Thee.
CHAPTER XX. WHAT WE MUST DO AFTER WE HAVE RECEIVED THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, so soon as, through holy Communion, thou hast received Me, setting aside all other care, be thou wholly Mine, as I am thine.
Behold! then surrounding and prostrate Angels adore, worship with reverential awe, marvel in astonishment, burn with love: canst thou, in the midst of all this, remain indifferent?
Everything within and without is holiness and devotedness, peace and joy, and pouring out of favors and gifts, sweetness and felicity. Partake thou of the same, My Child: enjoy all these blessings in Me, whom thou possessest.
For lot in thy innermost heart I Myself am present, thy God, thy all. Stay with Me, My Child, nor leave Me alone, by wandering away with thy mind, thy heart, or thy senses.
Having closed the doors of every avenue, spend with Me that time, than which none can be better, more pleasant, more precious for thee.
Blessed art thou, if thou knowest how to employ this time, on which the principal fruit of Communion, the chief progress of thy soul, depends!
How many things thou hast to do in this most joyous hour! how much to pray and to ask for how many wants to make known to Me! how much, also, hast thou to hear from Me! how many sacrifices to make: how much, in fine, to receive for thyself and for others!
Wherefore, do not neglect the time of my visitation: but have a care, that not the least part of so good a gift overpass thee.
2. First, then, in sincerity of heart, return the greatest thanks to Me, thy Saviour-God, for that I have deigned so mercifully and so lovingly to visit thee.
And, since thou art unable to return worthy thanks for an infinite favor, call upon the Angels, who are attending unseen: invite all the heavenly Spirits and the Saints; nay more, invite everything that breathes, every created being, great and small, that, with thee and for thee, they may praise together, and extol exceedingly the Beloved of thy soul, so loving and so lovely. But, because all these are below the greatness of the Divine well-doing, offer up all the thanksgivings, the praises, the acts of love, which the Angels and the Saints, and all the just have ever offered, and I will offer forever.
Offer all this, united with the merits of My Heart; which, since they are infinite, are equal to the infinite gift.
3. Then, make acts of the most profound adoration, freely submitting for a holocaust, all the powers of thy soul, and the senses of thy body, as a homage of faith due to Me.
This holocaust, containing as it does the greatest humility, and as it immolates thee wholly to Me, pleases and honors Me supremely.
After this, what is there which thou mayst not hope from My Heart, so lavish of Its gifts.
Hope boldly, My Child: form great and strong acts of firm hope. Now cherish an assured hope that whatsoever thou mayst ask will be given thee. Again cast thyself upon My Heart, as a child upon the bosom of its parent, trusting that here thou shalt find what thou desirest, hoping that here thou shalt be safe.
And will not, meanwhile, thy heart be burning in thee, when so great a kindness is shown thee, so undue a condescension, so disinterested a love?
Here be persevering, My Child: give thyself altogether to the Divine love; cease not to make acts of love, until thou hast satisfied thy devotion, or the Spirit of grace directs thee to other matters.
For, while the Divine love is working in thy heart, and exercises its power, then is the acceptable time,---if, through human frailty or in any other manner, thou hast done things which may be displeasing to My Heart,---both to grieve, out of pure love of God, for having committed them, and to resolve to commit them now no more.
The living heat of Divine love, if thou co-operatest with it, pursues sin like dry stubble, burns and consumes it.
4. Then, that thou mayst not fall again, pray earnestly to be cured of thy evil passions, if thou have any; to be freed from inordinate affections, whereby thou either lovest or shunnest unsuitably created objects; to be delivered from miseries, to which thou art subject; lastly, to be preserved from sins and defects, especially from those to which experience teaches thee that thou art more inclined.
Nay more, in order that thou mayst become more solid and perfect, as well as more alike and dear to My Heart, do thou beg earnestly for virtues or an increase of them.
Ask for a more lively faith, a more firm hope, a more fervent love, a greater affection for holy poverty, a more Angelic purity, a more perfect obedience, a more eminent humility and meekness, conformity to My Divine Will, an intimate and abiding union with Me: other virtues, in fine, which thy state requires, and which are befitting in a Disciple of My Heart.
Proceed still further, and implore a special help, whereby, for love of Me, thou mayst perform cheerfully and meritoriously those sacrifices in particular which grace asks and desires of thee.
Devote thyself wholly, with all thou art and hast, as a living victim to My honor and to My love.
5. Lastly, My Child, exercise the zeal of love: pray much and fervently for others, to the greater glory and joy of My Heart.
Through the merits of the Saints and Angels, through the Heart of My Immaculate Virgin Mother, through My Heart Itself, pray humbly for the universal Church; that she may enjoy peace, increase in holiness, and be spread throughout the world.
For the Supreme Pontiff, My Vicegerent, and for all My Ministers; that they may be good laborers in My Vineyard, may possess rightness of intention, purity of life, the pursuit of perfection, the fervor of zeal.
For Religious; that they may preserve their first spirit, make constant progress in virtue, edify the world, console the Church.
For all the faithful people; that every one, in the vocation to which he was chosen, serving Me in a worthy and laudable manner, may strive to make his calling sure.
Pour forth, likewise, thy prayers and supplications for the conversion of infidels, of heretics, of all sinners; that, freed from the errors of the mind and the vices of the heart, they may direct their steps into the way of salvation and peace.
For thy kindred, benefactors, friends, and expressly for thy enemies; that they may be assisted with help from above, be sanctified, and that they may obtain all things necessary and useful to them.
For all the just, the afflicted, those in danger, those who are in their death-struggle; that they may obtain perseverance, comfort, protection, and a happy end.
Finally, for the faithful departed, for those especially for whom thou mayst, in any manner, be obliged to pray; that they may deserve to enter Heaven, and be able to intercede for thee before the throne of the Divine mercy.
6. Do all these things faithfully, My Child, and endeavor to perform them in a gentle and efficacious manner, according to the spirit.
However, if I whisper or communicate anything to thee, or occupy thee in anywise, or deal with thee, leave off all beside, and hearken to Me with docility and reverence.
If I chide thee for anything, receive My rebuke with a submissive heart: if I exhort, if I press aught upon thee, resolve, decide: if I grant or promise aught, be liberal in return: if I bestow any comfort, receive it humbly, allow thyself to be replenished with the sweetness of consolation, remembering that I am good, that My mercy endures
And, if it happen that the love bursting forth from My Heart suddenly takes possession of thee, fills thee with rapture, yield thou, My Child, and suffer thyself to be carried whithersoever it wills.
Conceal thou outwardly, as much as thou canst, that which grace does inwardly,---lest some may attribute to thee what is exclusively due to Me,---and suffer love to be excessive, and to carry thee through all its transports: permit thyself to be enkindled with the Divine fire, to be melted, to be dissolved.
Such things, through Its exceeding love, does My Heart sometimes effect, in regard to My true Disciples, in order to reward them for their toils and troubles, lovingly endured for My sake, or for sacrifices which they have generously made for Me: or to make them taste, with a full heart, how delightful It is in the Sacrament, and how great a sweetness It reserves for them in Heaven: or, yet, that, when disposed, It may, by a wonderful power ,of love, transform them into Me. But, Child, if after piously and devoutly receiving Communion, thou dost not experience the sensible effects of grace, the motions of Divine love, be not uneasy, be not troubled. The fruit may not the less, without the feeling of these gifts.
And even if, by straining thyself, thou do excite this feeling, thou shalt derive no profit from this: emotion of nature; but, on the contrary, thou wilt foster self-love, nourish vanity, and expose thyself to delusions.
But continue thou humbly and quietly in My Presence, exercising ordinary acts of virtues: and thus endeavor to carry with thee a greater humility, a more perfect conformity to the Divine good pleasure, if thou do not feel the ardor and sweetness of love.
This, My Child, is the common way of the Saints, who rested contented wheresoever they were placed: if not at My Side with Thomas, nor on My Breast with John, they remained with Mary at My feet, continuing faithful to the present grace, and thankful therefore and, whether prostrate at My knees, or admitted to My embrace, under either circumstance, they profited according to the measure of grace granted to them.
7. In this manner, therefore, wilt thou act, My Child, after thou hast received the most Blessed Sacrament. And this method, although ever the same, will ever appear new: for thou wilt each time use it differently and variedly, according to the state of thy soul, and the motion of the spirit.
For I wish that, after Communion, thou sufferest thy heart to pour itself out before Me; to speak and deal with Me, according as it is affected or able.
If thou readest certain forms of prayers, even the most pious, thou dost not so much give utterance to what is thy own, as rehearse what belongs to another; thou dost not communicate to Me thy heart, but, with or without feeling, thou recitest in My Presence, what another heart has said. Shall I praise thee? herein I do not praise.
Thinkest thou that, in this manner, thou canst become a truly interior person? that thou canst discern the secrets which I am wont inwardly to suggest to the soul? or enjoy My intimate communications?
Wherefore, Child, accustom thyself to converse with Me, heart to Heart, to unfold to Me thy sentiments, to receive Mine for thyself, to give what thou hast, and take, in return, what I liberally bestow.
If, however, by reason of thy want of skill, or some desolateness which presses upon thee, thou canst do nothing, unless thou readest some forms of prayer; read, but read little and slowly and attentively, and, pausing now and then, endeavor to draw something from thy heart and communicate it to Me. Thus thou wilt make progress; thus thou wilt acquire, by degrees, the science of the Saints, the art of inwardly conversing and dealing with Me.
8. When it is now time to return to thy own, forget not the remote thanksgiving.
Entreat the holy Angels, to continue, in thy stead, their praises before Me: and, together with their praises, offer to Me whatsoever thou art about to do or suffer.
Then, go whithersoever the Divine Will calls thee: but outwardly and inwardly give heed to thyself: shun unnecessary occasions of distraction and dissipation: take care lest thou pour forth thy heart in things worldly or useless.
Make for Me in thy innermost heart a sanctuary, where thou mayst keep Me ever present; pray to Me frequently, consult Me, and communicate to Me all thy concerns.
According to thy ability, prove by deed that, thou art mindful of the Divine favor thou didst receive: exercise some virtue in a more perfect manner: show a greater charity to them that are ill-affected toward thee; or, on the other hand, to those against whom thou feelest some bitterness: exhibit a deeper humility, a gentler meekness, and other virtues, whereby thou dost manifest to Me thy gratefulness and love; and, at the same time, edify thy neighbor to be zealous for better things, and delight My Heart.
9. The voice of the Disciple.---O most kind, O most sweet Jesus! from my heart of hearts do I return thanks to Thee, for that Thou didst condescend to instruct me so perfectly, so lovingly, so gently.
If, henceforth, after holy Communion, I do not spend my time well, if I do not act rightly, I confess myself inexcusable.
Hadst Thou not spoken to me, hadst Thou not thus taught me, my imperfect manner of acting, the little fruit derived from my Communions, might, perhaps, to a certain extent, have found an excuse before Thee: but now have no excuse.
O Jesus, infinite goodness! excite me to fervor: assist me with Thy grace, that I may reduce to practice the sweet and holy things, which Thou hast drawn out of Thy Heart, and delivered to me, and which I desire with all my affections.
For what is there sweeter in life? what is there happier in this world? what is there better or holier?
O my love, Jesus, Divine Bridegroom of my soul, Thou ever-enduring delight of the Angels and Saints! when I enjoy Thee, what can I desire beyond?
Grant, I beseech Thee, that then I may be wholly Thine, and Thou wholly mine; that I may deal with Thee according to the good pleasure of Thy Heart; that I be and remain wholly resigned, and united to Thee.
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