The Teaching [Wisdom] of the Saints
by a Parish Priest
The Catholic Church, the Teacher of Mankind
2. LOVE OF GOD; FRATERNAL CHARITY
LOVE OF GOD
God has loved us from all eternity. Children of men, says the Lord, remember that I first loved you. You had not yet been born, the world itself did not exist, and even then I loved you. As long as I am God, I have loved you; I have loved you as long as I have loved Myself. -----St. Liguori.
Is not Jesus worthy of thy heart's warmest affection? If thou feelest no very ardent love, still wish and pray to thy Blessed Saviour that the holy fire may be kindled within thy breast. Think often that thy Redeemer's labors and pains were endured for thee, an ungrateful sinner. For thy sake Jesus shed His Blood and died upon a Cross; submitting to a temporal death, that thou mightest attain to life eternal. He took upon Himself thy delinquencies, and cancelled thy outstanding debt by fastening it to His Cross. In fine, He parted with all His precious merits to enrich thy poverty-stricken soul. -----Ven. Blosius.
The love of God is never idle. When it really fills a soul, it never fails to operate great things in it. Whenever it does not work, but is inactive, we may be certain there is no true love, but only the appearance of it. -----St. Gregory.
The greatest security we can have in this world that we are in the grace of God, does not consist in the feelings that we have of love to Him, but rather in an irrevocable abandonment of our whole being into His hands, and in a firm resolution never to consent to any sin great or small. -----St. Francis of Sales.
Two loves have made two different cities: self-love hath made a terrestrial city, which rises in contempt of God; and Divine Love hath made a celestial one, which rises in contempt of self. The former glories in itself-----the latter in God. -----St. Augustine.
To love God as He ought to be loved, we must be detached from all terrestrial love; we must love nothing but Him, or if we love anything else, we must love it only for His sake. -----B. Peter Claver.
What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ only when He caresses us, and to be cold immediately He afflicts us. This is not true love. Those who love thus, love themselves too much to love God with all their heart. -----St. Margaret Alacoque.
To love God! oh, how beautiful it is! We must be in Heaven to comprehend love. Prayer helps us a little, because prayer is the elevation of the soul to Heaven. The more we know men, the less we love them. It is the reverse with God; the more we know of Him the more we love Him. This knowledge inflames the soul with such a love that it can no longer love or desire anything but God . . . Man was created by love; therefore he is disposed to love. On the other hand, he is so great that nothing on earth can satisfy him. He can be satisfied only when he turns to God. Take a fish out of water, and it will not live . . . Well, such is man without God. -----St. Cure d'Ars.
One day, while conversing with St. Bonaventure, Blessed Giles said to him: "My Father, God has shown you great mercy, and loaded you with many graces in giving you that knowledge which helps you to praise Him. But we, poor ignorant creatures, how can we correspond with His goodness and attain to salvation?" The Saint replied: "If God had given man His love alone, that would be enough." "What?" returned Blessed Giles, "can an ignorant man love God as much as the most learned doctor?" "Certainly," answered St. Bonaventure, "an old woman who knows nothing can love God as much and more than a master in theology." At these words, Giles, transported with delight, ran into the garden, and cried out to the passers-by, "Come, simple and unlearned men, Come poor, wretched, ignorant women, come, listen to me. Do you wish to love Our Lord? You can love Him as much and more than Brother Bonaventure and the most learned theologians." -----B. Giles of Assisi.
O my sweet Love, who shall prevent me from loving Thee? Shall it be my body? Rather will I reduce it to dust. Shall it be my past sins? I will immerse them in the sea of Thy Blood, and after that, behold my body and soul, make me suffer whatever it may please Thee in order to annihilate them in such a manner that they may be no obstacle to my loving Thee. -----St. John Eudes.
Blessed Benedict Joseph Labre said that, to love God as we ought, it would be necessary to have three hearts in one. The first, all on fire for God, would cause us to think continually of God, speak habitually of Him, act constantly for Him, and support with patience, during the term of our life, the sorrows and trials which it may please Him to send us. The second heart, all love for our neighbor, should cause us to help him in his temporal wants by our alms, and still more in his spiritual needs by instruction, counsel, example, and prayer. This second heart should be, above all, full of tenderness for sinners; asking continually of God to enlighten and bring them to sorrow for sin; it should also be most compassionate toward the Holy Souls in Purgatory. But the third heart should be hard as bronze toward self, shunning every kind of sensuality, resisting constantly all self-love, renouncing one's own will, chastising the body by fasting and abstinence, -----in fine, putting to death all the inclinations of corrupt nature. -----St. Benedict Joseph Labre.
Let each one love his brother in charity. We have each our faults. He who has to put up with his brother's fault today will have to be borne with himself tomorrow. -----St. Alphonsus Liguori.
How patiently Christ, the King of Heaven and Earth, bore with the Apostles, enduring at their hands many incivilities and unbeliefs, they being but poor and rough fishermen. How much more ought we to bear with our neighbor, if he treats us with unkindness. -----St. Philip Neri.
In order to avoid contention, never contradict anyone, except in case of sin or some danger to a neighbor; and when necessary to contradict others, and to oppose your opinion to theirs, do it with so much mildness and tact, as not to appear to do violence to their mind, for nothing is ever gained by taking up things with excessive warmth and hastiness. -----St. Louis, King.
Our enemy the devil, who fights with us, in order to vanquish us, seeks to disunite us in our houses, and to breed quarrels, contests, and rivalries, because, while we are fighting with each other, he comes and conquers us, and makes us more securely his own. -----St. Philip Neri.
Dismiss all anger, and look a little into yourself. Remember that he of whom you are speaking is your brother, and, as he is in the way of salvation, God can make him a Saint, notwithstanding his present weaknesses. You may fall into the same faults or perhaps into a worse fault. But supposing that you remain upright, to whom are you indebted for it, if not to the pure mercy of God? -----St. Thomas of Villanova.
Oh! could you but see the beauty of a soul in the grace of God, you would be so much enamored of it that you would do nothing else but ask souls of God; and, on the contrary, could a soul in mortal sin be placed before your eyes, you would do nothing but weep, and you would hate sin more than the devil himself, and always pray for the conversion of sinners. -----St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi.
The highest among all Divine works is to co-operate in the salvation of souls. -----St. Dionysius.
Those who attend to the regulation of their own consciences are not much given to form rash judgments; far from wasting their reflections in dissecting the actions and intentions of their neighbors, whose conduct may appear cloudy and obscure, they enter into themselves, and use their utmost endeavors to reform and perfect their own lives, like bees which, in misty and cloudy weather, return to their hive to pursue their home labors. Rash judgment produces detraction, which is the bane of conversation. Were detraction banished from the world, numberless other sins would be banished together with it. -----St. Francis de Sales.
If a man finds it very hard to forgive injuries, let him look at a Crucifix, and think that Christ shed all His Blood for him, and not only forgave His enemies, but even prayed His Heavenly Father to forgive them also. Let him remember that when he says the Pater Noster, every day, instead of asking pardon for his sins, he is calling down vengeance on himself. -----St. Philip.
To leave our prayer when we are called to do some act of charity for our neighbor, is not really a quitting of prayer, but leaving Christ for Christ. Even in the midst of a crowd we can be going on to perfection. -----St. Philip.
We must sometimes bear with little defects in others, as we have, against our will, to bear with natural defects in ourselves. If we wish to keep peace with our neighbor, we should never remind anyone of his natural defects. -----St. Philip.
Everyone ought to yield readily to the opinion of another, and to argue in favor of another, and against himself, and take things in good part. -----St. Philip.
Be as gentle always as possible; and remember that you will catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar. Such is the nature of the human mind; it rebels against severity, but gentleness renders it amenable to everything. A soft word appeases anger, as water extinguishes fire. No soul so ungrateful, but kindness can make it bear fruit. To speak truths sweetly is to throw burning coals, or rather roses, into a person's face. How can anyone be angry with another who fights him with pearls and diamonds? -----St. Francis of Sales.
I know well that many of the rich show mercy to the poor, but they do it by the hands of others. They give their gold, but not their personal services, because the sight of misery inspires disgust and makes them ill. I will not find fault with this weakness, nor will I call it unmerciful. But I must be allowed to say that true love and perfect faith raise the mind above such infirmities and make it strong for holy services of love. -----St. Jerome.
Alas! if we consider our neighbor outside the Heart of Our Lord, we run the risk of not loving him fondly, nor constantly, nor impartially. But within It, who would not love him, live with him, tolerate his imperfections, who would find him disagreeable or tiresome?
But our neighbor is in the Heart of Our Saviour, and he is so much loved by It, and considered so worthy of love, that the lover dies for love of him. -----St. Francis de Sales.
Why should we not bear with those with whom He has borne, keeping before our eyes the great example of Jesus Christ praying on the Cross for His enemies? For they have not yet crucified us, they have not yet persecuted us to death, we have not yet resisted unto blows. But who will not love this beloved enemy for whom Jesus Christ has prayed and for whom He has died? -----St. Francis de Sales.
There are so many sorts of troubles in this world, and so many people who are afflicted in different ways, that we ought to be very glad when we can help anyone to carry their cross. -----St. Chantal.
Love the worst men, love in them the remains of faith which they still preserve, or, if they have lost it all, love the virtues of which they are bereft, love the sacred image they bear, love the Blood of Christ with which you believe them to have been redeemed. -----St. Ignatius.