Archive for the ‘Saints Beati and Venerables’ Category.

The Life of Saint Teresa of Jesus – Chapter XXXVII

cover of the ebook 'The Life of Saint Teresa of Jesus by Herself'Of the effects which remained when God granted her some favour; together with other very good doctrine. She shows how one ought to strive after and prize every increase in heavenly glory, and that for no trouble whatever one should neglect a good that is to be perpetual. The Effects of the Divine Graces in the Soul. The Inestimable Greatness of One Degree of Glory.

1. It is painful to me to recount more of the graces which our Lord gave me than these already spoken of; and they are so many, that nobody can believe they were ever given to one so wicked: but in obedience to our Lord, who has commanded me to do it, and you, my fathers, I will speak of some of them to His glory. May it please His Majesty it may be to the profit of some soul! For if our Lord has been thus gracious to so – miserable a thing as myself, what will He be to those who shall serve Him truly? Let all people resolve to please His Majesty, seeing that He gives such pledges as these even in this life.

2. In the first place, it must be understood that, in those graces which God bestows on the soul, there are diverse degrees of joy: for in some visions the joy and sweetness and comfort of them so far exceed those of others, that I am amazed at the different degrees of fruition even in this life; for it happens that the joy and consolation which God gives in a vision or a trance are so different, that it seems impossible for the soul to be able to desire anything more in this world: and, so, in fact, the soul does not desire, nor would it ask for, a greater joy. Still, since our Lord has made me understand how great a difference there is in heaven itself between the fruition of one and that of another, I see clearly enough that here also, when our Lord wills, He gives not by measure; and so I wish that I myself observed no measure in serving His Majesty, and in using my whole life and strength and health therein; and I would not have any fault of mine rob me of the slightest degree of fruition.

3. And so I say that if I were asked which I preferred, to endure all the trials of the world until the end of it, and then receive one slight degree of glory additional, or without any suffering of any kind to enter into glory of a slightly lower degree, I would accept – oh, how willingly! – all those trials for one slight degree of fruition in the contemplation of the greatness of God; for I know that he who understands Him best, loves Him and praises Him best. I do not mean that I should not be satisfied, and consider myself most blessed, to be in heaven, even if I should be in the lowest place; for as I am one who had that place in hell, it would be a great mercy of our Lord to admit me at all; and may it please His Majesty to bring me thither, and take away His eyes from beholding my grievous sins. What I mean is this- if it were in my power, even if it cost me everything, and our Lord gave me the grace to endure much affliction, I would not through any fault of mine lose one degree of glory. Ah, wretched that I am, who by so many faults had forfeited all!

4. It is also to be observed that, in every vision or revelation which our Lord in His mercy sent me, a great gain accrued to my soul, and that in some of the visions this gain was very great. The vision of Christ left behind an impression of His exceeding beauty, and it remains with me to this day. One vision alone of Him is enough to effect this; what, then, must all those visions have done, which our Lord in His mercy sent me? One exceedingly great blessing has resulted therefrom, and it is this- I had one very grievous fault, which was the source of much evil; namely, whenever I found anybody well disposed towards myself, and I liked him, I used to have such an affection for him as compelled me always to remember and think of him, though I had no intention of offending God: however, I was pleased to see him, to think of him and of his good qualities. All this was so hurtful, that it brought my soul to the very verge of destruction.

5. But ever since I saw the great beauty of our Lord, I never saw any one who in comparison with Him seemed even endurable, or that could occupy my thoughts. For if I but turn mine eyes inwardly for a moment to the contemplation of the image which I have within me, I find myself so free, that from that instant everything I see is loathsome in comparison with the excellences and graces of which I had a vision in our Lord. Neither is there any sweetness, nor any kind of pleasure, which I can make any account of, compared with that which comes from hearing but one word from His divine mouth. What, then, must it be when I hear so many? I look upon it as impossible – unless our Lord, for my sins, should permit the loss of this remembrance – that I should have the power to occupy myself with anything in such a way as that I should not instantly recover my liberty by thinking of our Lord.

6. This has happened to me with some of my confessors, for I always have a great affection for those who have the direction of my soul. As I really saw in them only the representatives of God, I thought my will was always there where it is most occupied; and as I felt very safe in the matter, I always showed myself glad to see them. They, on the other hand, servants of God, and fearing Him, were afraid that I was attaching and binding myself too much to them, though in a holy way, and treated me with rudeness. This took place after I had become so ready to obey them; for before that time I had no affection whatever for them. I used to laugh to myself, when I saw how much they were deceived. Though I was not always putting before them how little I was attached to anybody, as clearly as I was convinced of it myself, yet I did assure them of it; and they, in their further relations with me, acknowledged how much I owed to our Lord in the matter. These suspicions of me always arose in the beginning.

7. My love of, and trust in, our Lord, after I had seen Him in a vision, began to grow, for my converse with Him was so continual. I saw that, though He was God, He was man also; that He is not surprised at the frailties of men, that He understands our miserable nature, liable to fall continually, because of the first sin, for the reparation of which He had come. I could speak to Him as to a friend, though He is my Lord, because I do not consider Him as one of our earthly Lords, who affect a power they do not possess, who give audience at fixed hours, and to whom only certain persons may speak. If a poor man have any business with these, it will cost him many goings and comings, and currying favour with others, together with much pain and labour before he can speak to them. Ah, if such a one has business with a king! Poor people, not of gentle blood, cannot approach him, for they must apply to those who are his friends, and certainly these are not persons who tread the world under their feet; for they who do this speak the truth, fear nothing, and ought to fear nothing; they are not courtiers, because it is not the custom of a court, where they must be silent about those things they dislike, must not even dare to think about them, lest they should fall into disgrace.

8. O King of glory, and Lord of all kings! oh, how Thy kingly dignity is not hedged about by trifles of this kind! Thy kingdom is for ever. We do not require chamberlains to introduce us into Thy presence. The very vision of Thy person shows us at once that Thou alone art to be called Lord. Thy Majesty is so manifest that there is no need of a retinue or guard to make us confess that Thou art King. An earthly king without attendants would be hardly acknowledged; and though he might wish ever so much to be recognised, people will not own him when he appears as others; it is necessary that his dignity should be visible, if people are to believe in it. This is reason enough why kings should affect so much state; for if they had none, no one would respect them; this their semblance of power is not in themselves, and their authority must come to them from others.

9. O my Lord! O my King! who can describe Thy Majesty? It is impossible not to see that Thou art Thyself the great Ruler of all, that the beholding of Thy Majesty fills men with awe. But I am filled with greater awe, O my Lord, when I consider Thy humility, and the love Thou hast for such as I am. We can converse and speak with Thee about everything whenever we will; and when we lose our first fear and awe at the vision of Thy Majesty, we have a greater dread of offending Thee- not arising out of the fear of punishment, O my Lord, for that is as nothing in comparison with the loss of Thee!

10. Thus far of the blessings of this vision, without speaking of others, which abide in the soul when it is past. If it be from God, the fruits thereof show it, when the soul receives light; for, as I have often said, the will of our Lord is that the soul should be in darkness, and not see this light. It is, therefore, nothing to be wondered at that I, knowing myself to be so wicked as I am, should be afraid.

11. It is only just now it happened to me to be for eight days in a state wherein it seemed that I did not, and could not, confess my obligations to God, or remember His mercies; but my soul was so stupefied, and occupied with I know not what nor how: not that I had any bad thoughts; only I was so incapable of good thoughts, that I was laughing at myself, and even rejoicing to see how mean a soul can be if God is not always working in it. The soul sees clearly that God is not away from it in this state, and that it is not in those great tribulations which I have spoken of as being occasionally mine. Though it heaps up fuel, and does the little it can do of itself, it cannot make the fire of the love of God burn: it is a great mercy that even the smoke is visible, showing that it is not altogether quenched. Our Lord will return and kindle it; and until then the soul – though it may lose its breath in blowing and arranging the fuel – seems to be doing nothing but putting it out more and more.

12. I believe that now the best course is to be absolutely resigned, confessing that we can do nothing, and so apply ourselves – as I said before – to something else which is meritorious. Our Lord, it may be, takes away from the soul the power of praying, that it may betake itself to something else, and learn by experience how little it can do in its own strength.

13. It is true I have this day been rejoicing in our Lord, and have dared to complain of His Majesty. I said unto Him: How is it, O my God, that it is not enough for Thee to detain me in this wretched life, and that I should have to bear with it for the love of Thee, and be willing to live where everything hinders the fruition of Thee; where, besides, I must eat and sleep, transact business, and converse with every one, and all for Thy love? how is it, then- for Thou well knowest, O my Lord, all this to be the greatest torment unto me- that, in the rare moments when I am with Thee, Thou hidest Thyself from me? How is this consistent with Thy compassion? How can that love Thou hast for me endure this? I believe, O Lord, if it were possible for me to hide myself from Thee, as Thou hidest Thyself from me – I think and believe so – such is Thy love, that Thou wouldest not endure it at my hands. But Thou art with me, and seest me always. O my Lord, I beseech Thee look to this; it must not be; a wrong is done to one who loves Thee so much.

14. I happened to utter these words, and others of the same kind, when I should have been thinking rather how my place in hell was pleasant in comparison with the place I deserved. But now and then my love makes me foolish, so that I lose my senses; only it is with all the sense I have that I make these complaints, and our Lord bears it all. Blessed be so good a King!

15. Can we be thus bold with the kings of this world? And yet I am not surprised that we dare not thus speak to a king, for it is only reasonable that men should be afraid of him, or even to the great lords who are his representatives. The world is now come to such a state, that men’s lives ought to be longer than they are if we are to learn all the new customs and ceremonies of good breeding, and yet spend any time in the service of God. I bless myself at the sight of what is going on. The fact is, I did not know how I was to live when I came into this house. Any negligence in being much more ceremonious with people than they deserve is not taken as a jest; on the contrary, they look upon it as an insult deliberately offered; so that it becomes necessary for you to satisfy them of your good intentions, if there happens, as I have said, to have been any negligence; and even then, God grant they may believe you.

16. I repeat it- I certainly did not know how to live; for my poor soul was worn out. It is told to employ all its thoughts always on God, and that it is necessary to do so if it would avoid many dangers. On the other hand, it finds it will not do to fail in any one point of the world’s law, under the penalty of affronting those who look upon these things as touching their honour. I was worn out in unceasingly giving satisfaction to people; for, though I tried my utmost, I could not help failing in many ways in matters which, as I have said, are not slightly thought of in the world.

17. Is it true that in religious houses no explanations are necessary, for it is only reasonable we should be excused these observances? Well, that is not so; for there are people who say that monasteries ought to be courts in politeness and instruction. I certainly cannot understand it. I thought that perhaps some saint may have said that they ought to be courts to teach those who wish to be the courtiers of heaven, and that these people misunderstood their meaning; for if a man be careful to please God continually, and to hate the world, as he ought to do, I do not see how he can be equally careful to please those who live in the world in these matters which are continually changing. If they could be learnt once for all, it might be borne with: but as to the way of addressing letters, there ought to be a professor’s chair founded, from which lectures should be given, so to speak, teaching us how to do it; for the paper should on one occasion be left blank in one corner, and on another in another corner; and a man must be addressed as the illustrious who was not hitherto addressed as the magnificent.

18. I know not where this will stop: I am not yet fifty, and yet I have seen so many changes during my life, that I do not know how to live. What will they do who are only just born, and who may live many years? Certainly I am sorry for those spiritual people who, for certain holy purposes, are obliged to live in the world; the cross they have to carry is a dreadful one. If they could all agree together, and make themselves ignorant, and be willing to be considered so in these sciences, they would set themselves free from much trouble. But what folly am I about! from speaking of the greatness of God I am come to speak of the meanness of the world! Since our Lord has given me the grace to quit it, I wish to leave it altogether. Let them settle these matters who maintain these follies with so much labour. God grant that in the next life, where there is no changing, we may not have to pay for them! Amen.

The Life of Saint Teresa of Jesus – Chapter XXXIII

cover of the ebook 'The Life of Saint Teresa of Jesus by Herself'She continues the subject of the foundation of the glorious Saint Joseph. How she was commanded to have nothing (further) to do with it, how she abandoned it, also the troubles it brought her and how God consoled her in all this. The Foundation of the Monastery Hindered. Our Lord Consoles the Saint.

1. When the matter was in this state – so near its conclusion, that on the very next day the papers were to be signed – then it was that the Father Provincial changed his mind. I believe that the change was divinely ordered – so it appeared afterwards; for while so many prayers were made, our Lord was perfecting His work and arranging its execution in another way. When the Provincial refused us, my confessor bade me forthwith to think no more of it, notwithstanding the great trouble and distress which our Lord knows it cost me to bring it to this state. When the work was given up and abandoned, people were the more convinced that it was altogether the foolishness of women; and the complaints against me were multiplied, although I had until then this commandment of my Provincial to justify me.

2. I was now very much disliked throughout the whole monastery, because I wished to found another with stricter enclosure. It was said I insulted my sisters; that I could serve God among them as well as elsewhere, for there were many among them much better than I; that I did not love the house, and that it would have been better if I had procured greater resources for it than for another. Some said I ought to be put in prison; others – but they were not many – defended me in some degree. I saw well enough that they were for the most part right, and now and then I made excuses for myself; though, as I could not tell them the chief reason, which was the commandment of our Lord, I knew not what to do, and so was silent.

3. In other respects God was most merciful unto me, for all this caused me no uneasiness; and I gave up our design with much readiness and joy, as if it cost me nothing. No one could believe it, not even those men of prayer with whom I conversed; for they thought I was exceedingly pained and sorry: even my confessor himself could hardly believe it. I had done, as it seemed to me, all that was in my power. I thought myself obliged to do no more than I had done to fulfil our Lord’s commandment, and so I remained in the house where I was, exceedingly happy and joyful; though, at the same time, I was never able to give up my conviction that the work would be done. I had now no means of doing it, nor did I know how or when it would be done; but I firmly believed in its accomplishment.

4. I was much distressed at one time by a letter which my confessor wrote to me, as if I had done anything in the matter contrary to his will. Our Lord also must have meant that suffering should not fail me there where I should feel it most; and so, amid the multitude of my persecutions, when, as it seemed to me, consolations should have come from my confessor, he told me that I ought to recognise in the result that all was a dream; that I ought to lead a new life by ceasing to have anything to do for the future with it, or even to speak of it any more, seeing the scandal it had occasioned. He made some further remarks, all of them very painful. This was a greater affliction to me than all the others together. I considered whether I had done anything myself, and whether I was to blame for anything that was an offence unto God; whether all my visions were illusions, all my prayers a delusion, and I, therefore, deeply deluded and lost. This pressed so heavily upon me, that I was altogether disturbed and most grievously distressed. But our Lord, who never failed me in all the trials I speak of, so frequently consoled and strengthened me, that I need not speak of it here. He told me then not to distress myself; that I had pleased God greatly, and had not sinned against Him throughout the whole affair; that I was to do what my confessors required of me, and be silent on the subject till the time came to resume it. I was so comforted and so happy, that the persecution which had befallen me seemed to be as nothing at all.

5. Our Lord now showed me what an exceedingly great blessing it is to be tried and persecuted for His sake; for the growth of the love of God in my soul, which I now discerned, as well as of many other virtues, was such as to fill me with wonder. It made me unable to abstain from desiring trials, and yet those about me thought I was exceedingly disheartened; and I must have been so, if our Lord in that extremity had not succoured me with His great compassion. Now was the beginning of those more violent impetuosities of the love of God of which I have spoken before, as well as of those profounder trances. I kept silence, however, and never spoke of those graces to any one. The saintly Dominican was as confident as I was that the work would be done; and as I would not speak of it, in order that nothing might take place contrary to the obedience I owed my confessor, he communicated with my companion, and they wrote letters to Rome and made their preparations.

6. Satan also contrived now that persons should hear one from another that I had had a revelation in the matter; and people came to me in great terror, saying that the times were dangerous, that something might be laid to my charge, and that I might be taken before the Inquisitors. I heard this with pleasure, and it made me laugh, because I never was afraid of them; for I knew well enough that in matters of faith I would not break the least ceremony of the Church, that I would expose myself to die a thousand times rather than that any one should see me go against it or against any truth of Holy Writ. So I told them I was not afraid of that, for my soul must be in a very bad state if there was anything the matter with it of such a nature as to make me fear the Inquisition; I would go myself and give myself up, if I thought there was anything amiss; and if I should be denounced, our Lord would deliver me, and I should gain much.

7. I had recourse to my Dominican father; for I could rely upon him, because he was a learned man. I told him all about my visions, my way of prayer, the great graces our Lord had given me, as clearly as I could, and I begged him to consider the matter well, and tell me if there was anything therein at variance with the Holy Writings, and give me his opinion on the whole matter. He reassured me much, and, I think, profited himself; for though he was exceedingly good, yet, from this time forth, he gave himself more and more to prayer, and retired to a monastery of his Order which was very lonely, that he might apply himself more effectually to prayer, where he remained more than two years. He was dragged out of his solitude by obedience, to his great sorrow: his superiors required his services; for he was a man of great ability. I, too, on my part, felt his retirement very much, because it was a great loss to me, though I did not disturb him. But I knew it was a gain to him; for when I was so much distressed at his departure, our Lord bade me be comforted, not to take it to heart, for he was gone under good guidance.

8. So, when he came back, his soul had made such great progress, and he was so advanced in the ways of the spirit, that he told me on his return he would not have missed that journey for anything in the world. And I, too, could say the same thing; for where he reassured and consoled me formerly by his mere learning, he did so now through that spiritual experience he had gained of supernatural things. And God, too, brought him here in time; for He saw that his help would be required in the foundation of the monastery, which His Majesty willed should be laid.

9. I remained quiet after this for five or six months, neither thinking nor speaking of the matter; nor did our Lord once speak to me about it. I know not why, but I could never rid myself of the thought that the monastery would be founded. At the end of that time, the then Rector of the Society of Jesus having gone away, His Majesty brought into his place another, of great spirituality, high courage, strong understanding, and profound learning, at the very time when I was in great straits. As he who then heard my confession had a superior over him – the fathers of the Society are extremely strict about the virtue of obedience and never stir but in conformity with the will of their superiors- so he would not dare, though he perfectly understood my spirit, and desired the accomplishment of my purpose, to come to any resolution; and he had many reasons to justify his conduct. I was at the same time subject to such great impetuosities of spirit, that I felt my chains extremely heavy; nevertheless, I never swerved from the commandment he gave me.

10. One day, when in great distress, because I thought my confessor did not trust me, our Lord said to me, Be not troubled; this suffering will soon be over. I was very much delighted, thinking I should die shortly; and I was very happy whenever I recalled those words to remembrance. Afterwards I saw clearly that they referred to the coming of the rector of whom I am speaking, for never again had I any reason to be distressed. The rector that came never interfered with the father-minister who was my confessor. On the contrary, he told him to console me- that there was nothing to be afraid of- and not to direct me along a road so narrow, but to leave the operations of the Spirit of God alone; for now and then it seemed as if these great impetuosities of the spirit took away the very breath of the soul.

11. The rector came to see me, and my confessor bade me speak to him in all freedom and openness. I used to feel the very greatest repugnance to speak of this matter; but so it was, when I went into the confessional, I felt in my soul something, I know not what. I do not remember to have felt so either before or after towards any one. I cannot tell what it was, nor do I know of anything with which I could compare it. It was a spiritual joy, and a conviction in my soul that his soul must understand mine, that it was in unison with it, and yet, as I have said, I knew not how. If I had ever spoken to him, or had heard great things of him, it would have been nothing out of the way that I should rejoice in the conviction that he would understand me; but he had never spoken to me before, nor I to him, and, indeed, he was a person of whom I had no previous knowledge whatever.

12. Afterwards, I saw clearly that my spirit was not deceived; for my relations with him were in every way of the utmost service to me and my soul, because his method of direction is proper for those persons whom our Lord seems to have led far on the way, seeing that He makes them run, and not to crawl step by step. His plan is to render them thoroughly detached and mortified, and our Lord has endowed him with the highest gifts herein as well as in many other things beside. As soon as I began to have to do with him, I knew his method at once, and saw that he had a pure and holy soul, with a special grace of our Lord for the discernment of spirits. He gave me great consolation. Shortly after I had begun to speak to him, our Lord began to constrain me to return to the affair of the monastery, and to lay before my confessor and the father-rector many reasons and considerations why they should not stand in my way. Some of these reasons made them afraid, for the father-rector never had a doubt of its being the work of the Spirit of God, because he regarded the fruits of it with great care and attention. At last, after much consideration, they did not dare to hinder me.

13. My confessor gave me leave to prosecute the work with all my might. I saw well enough the trouble I exposed myself to, for I was utterly alone, and able to do so very little. We agreed that it should be carried on with the utmost secrecy; and so I contrived that one of my sisters, who lived out of the town, should buy a house, and prepare it as if for herself, with money which our Lord provided for us. I made it a great point to do nothing against obedience; but I knew that if I spoke of it to my superiors all was lost, as on the former occasion, and worse even might happen. In holding the money, in finding the house, in treating for it, in putting it in order, I had so much to suffer; and, for the most part, I had to suffer alone, though my friend did what she could: she could do but little, and that was almost nothing. Beyond giving her name and her countenance, the whole of the trouble was mine; and that fell upon me in so many ways, that I am astonished now how I could have borne it. Sometimes, in my affliction, I used to say: O my Lord, how is it that Thou commandest me to do that which seems impossible? – for, though I am a woman, yet, if I were free, it might be done; but when I am tied in so many ways, without money, or the means of procuring it, either for the purpose of the Brief or for any other- what, O Lord, can I do?

14. Once when I was in one of my difficulties, not knowing what to do, unable to pay the workmen, Saint Joseph, my true father and lord, appeared to me, and gave me to understand that money would not be wanting, and I must hire the workmen. So I did, though I was penniless; and our Lord, in a way that filled those who heard of it with wonder, provided for me. The house offered me was too small- so much so, that it seemed as if it could never be made into a monastery- and I wished to buy another, but had not the means, and there was neither way nor means to do so. I knew not what to do. There was another little house close to the one we had, which might have formed a small church. One day, after Communion, our Lord said to me, I have already bidden thee to go in anyhow. And then, as if exclaiming, said: Oh, covetousness of the human race, thinking that even the whole earth is too little for it! how often have I slept in the open air, because I had no place to shelter Me! I was alarmed, and saw that He had good reasons to complain. I went to the little house, arranged the divisions of it, and found that it would make a sufficient, though small, monastery. I did not care now to add to the site by purchase, and so I did nothing but contrive to have it prepared in such a way that it could be lived in. Everything was coarse, and nothing more was done to it than to render it not hurtful to health – and that must be done everywhere.

15. As I was going to Communion on her feast, Saint Clare appeared to me in great beauty, and bade me take courage, and go on with what I had begun; she would help me. I began to have a great devotion to Saint Clare; and she has so truly kept her word, that a monastery of nuns of her Order in our neighbourhood helped us to live; and, what is of more importance, by little and little she so perfectly fulfilled my desire, that the poverty which the blessed Saint observes in her own house is observed in this, and we are living on alms. It cost me no small labour to have this matter settled by the plenary sanction and authority of the Holy Father, so that it shall never be otherwise, and we possess no revenues. Our Lord is doing more for us – perhaps we owe it to the prayers of this blessed Saint; for, without our asking anybody, His Majesty supplies most abundantly all our wants. May He be blessed for ever! Amen.

16. On one of these days – it was the Feast of the Assumption of our Lady – I was in the church of the monastery of the Order of the glorious Saint Dominic, thinking of the events of my wretched life, and of the many sins which in times past I had confessed in that house. I fell into so profound a trance, that I was as it were beside myself. I sat down, and it seemed as if I could neither see the Elevation nor hear Mass. This afterwards became a scruple to me. I thought then, when I was in that state, that I saw myself clothed with a garment of excessive whiteness and splendour. At first I did not see who was putting it on me. Afterwards I saw our Lady on my right hand, and my father Saint Joseph on my left, clothing me with that garment. I was given to understand that I was then cleansed from my sins. When I had been thus clad – I was filled with the utmost delight and joy – our Lady seemed at once to take me by both hands. She said that I pleased her very much by being devout to the glorious Saint Joseph; that I might rely on it my desires about the monastery were accomplished, and that our Lord and they too would be greatly honoured in it; that I was to be afraid of no failure whatever, though the obedience under which it would be placed might not be according to my mind, because they would watch over us, and because her Son had promised to be with us – and, as a proof of this, she would give me that jewel. She then seemed to throw around my neck a most splendid necklace of gold, from which hung a cross of great value. The stones and gold were so different from any in this world, that there is nothing wherewith to compare them. The beauty of them is such as can be conceived by no imagination- and no understanding can find out the materials of the robe, nor picture to itself the splendours which our Lord revealed, in comparison with which all the splendours of earth, so to say, are a daubing of soot. This beauty, which I saw in our Lady, was exceedingly grand, though I did not trace it in any particular feature, but rather in the whole form of her face. She was clothed in white and her garments shone with excessive lustre that was not dazzling, but soft. I did not see Saint Joseph so distinctly, though I saw clearly that he was there, as in the visions of which I spoke before, in which nothing is seen. Our Lady seemed to be very young.

17. When they had been with me for a while- I, too, in the greatest delight and joy, greater than I had ever had before, as I think, and with which I wished never to part- I saw them, so it seemed, ascend up to heaven, attended by a great multitude of angels. I was left in great loneliness, though so comforted and raised up, so recollected in prayer and softened, that I was for some time unable to move or speak – being, as it were, beside myself. I was now possessed by a strong desire to be consumed for the love of God, and by other affections of the same kind. Everything took place in such a way that I could never have a doubt – though I often tried – that the vision came from God. It left me in the greatest consolation and peace.

18. As to that which the Queen of the Angels spoke about obedience, it is this: it was painful to me not to subject the monastery to the Order, and our Lord had told me that it was inexpedient to do so. He told me the reasons why it was in no wise convenient that I should do it but I must send to Rome in a certain way, which He also explained; He would take care that I found help there: and so I did. I sent to Rome, as our Lord directed me- for we should never have succeeded otherwise- and most favourable was the result.

19. And as to subsequent events, it was very convenient to be under the Bishop, but at that time I did not know him, nor did I know what kind of a superior he might be. It pleased our Lord that he should be as good and favourable to this house as it was necessary he should be on account of the great opposition it met with at the beginning, as I shall show hereafter, and also for the sake of bringing it to the condition it is now in. Blessed be He who has done it all! Amen.

American Ecclesiastical Review – Bishop Francis Gonzaga

main article for Bishop Francesco GonzagaThe good news is published in the official acts of the Franciscan Order that the Sacred Congregation of Rites has resumed the process of Beatification of P. Francesco Gonzaga, the man to whom Saint Aloysius owed perhaps above all others the realization of his wish to become a Jesuit, when the opposition of the family threatened to frustrate the Divine call and to deprive the Church of so fair a Saint. Francis Gonzaga had been, before his entrance into the Franciscan Order, attached to the Court of Charles V of Spain, and at the age of eleven, as page elect, accompanied the special embassy of the Emperor to Alessandro Farnese in Flanders. A few year later, he was deputed as escort to Philip of Spain, son of Charles, for the royal coronation ceremony, to Brussels. That same year, however, he renounced the pleasures and honors of the court, and being scarcely eighteen years of age, entered the novitiate of the Friars Minor at Alcala. He became an eminent theologian, and in 1579, at the age of thirty-three, was elected General of the entire Franciscan Order. It was on his return from a visitation of the Minorite communities in Spain, that he took the young son of Count Ferrante Gonzaga of Castiglione, with him to Italy. Aloysius Gonzaga was then about eighteen years old. A few months later, after Aloysius had entered the novitiate of the Jesuits, P. Francesco came to Don Ferrante who was on his deathbed at Milan, and moved him fully to second the sacrifice which his beloved boy had made in leaving behind him the prospects of a military and courtly career in order to assume the black gown of the militia of Christ.

When the archiepiscopal see of Milan had been left vacant by the death of Saint Charles Borromeo, the Pope nominated P. Francesco Gonzaga as his successor, but the latter declined to accept the dignity, as he deemed himself unworthy and incapable of sustaining the work begun by the saintly Archbishop. Later on, he was prevailed upon to assume the difficult post of Bishop to the see of Cefalu in Sicily. Here he laid the foundations of the first ecclesiastical seminary on the model prescribed by the Council of Trent. He was relentless in enforcing the reforms sanctioned by the decrees of the Council, and effectually resisted the political intriguers who, in the name of the King, sought to maintain certain abuses among the clergy under the title of ecclesiastical prerogatives, which they found to their temporal advantage. On one occasion, when an officer of high degree pleaded his past loyalty to the King as an excuse for refusing to recognize the ordinances of the Bishop, the latter answered: “You speak of loyalty to the King, as though the Bishop had no such sentiments. Let me remind you, sir, that the Gonzagas have shed a greater quantity of blood in defence of the King than you have consumed wine during your lifetime, which I think cannot be little.”

Later, P. Francesco was nominated Bishop of Pavia; but, at the urgent instance of the Duke of Mantua, he was appointed to the see of the ducal city, where he also founded a seminary, and enforced the reforms of the Council. To his efforts were largely due the Beatification of his holy young relative, Aloysius, which occurred within fifteen years after the death of the youthful Saint. The final canonization was not effected until a hundred and twenty years later. There is a biography of P. Francesco Gonzaga from the pen of Donesmondi, published in Venice, 1625. The body of the Venerable Francesco Gonzaga is preserved in the Cathedral of Mantua; the figure of the Bishop is there seen sitting upon the episcopal throne erected in the vault under the high altar.

– from American Ecclesiastical Review, 1905

nun

Article

A nun is a maid or widow who has consecrated herself to God by the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and bound herself to live in a convent under a certain rule.

MLA Citation

  • Father James J McGovern. “nun”. Catholic Pocket Dictionary, 1906. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 November 2019. Web. 21 November 2019. <>

Light from the Altar – The Visitation, 2 July

detail of a stained glass representing the Visitation, date and artist unknown; Church of Saint Thomas, Excideuil, Dordogne, France; photographed on 2 March 2010 by Père Igor; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsThe Angel Gabriel had just left our Lady in the little cottage at Nazareth. Her beautiful face was lit up with joy – the joy of Divine motherhood. It was the hour of the first Communion ever celebrated on earth, and Mary was making her thanksgiving. But as the sun rose over the Sea of Galilee, and a few of its bright rays shone through the window upon the tiled floor, Mary left her prayer and began her preparation for a journey. The angel’s last words to her were as a command. They told her that her cousin, Saint Elizabeth, had been blessed by God and was to have a son in her old age. Elizabeth lived far off, down among the hills of Judea, at least four days’ travel from Nazareth. But distance was nothing to Mary when there was question of a kindness. So “in haste” she left her home and set forth upon her way. It was the Spring of the year, the lowliest time in Galilee. Flowers of the brightest hues grew around in thousands; there were gaudy tulips, blood-red anemones everywhere, lilies and poppies in the meadows, in the hedges, in the corn-fields, by the roadside. The sun shone brightly on the restless Jordan water; a slight breeze stirred the olives and palms and fig-trees. Mary saw it all and whispered love-songs to her God. On the road she met men and women going to keep the Pasch at Jerusalem and she joined their company. She made all welcome – the poor, the sinful, the sorrowful, the outcast; she shunned none, she kept aloof from none. She was too near God Himself to be exclusive.

There have been saints whom God has drawn into solitude and whose virtues have grown and brought forth fruit far away from men. But Mary was not of these. We find her all through her life answering the call of charity, no matter from whence it came nor whither it led. Today it leads her to the wealthy house of the priest Zachary; soon it will bid her welcome the rough shepherds from the mountain side, then the high-bred strangers from the East. We shall find her in the crowded company returning from Jerusalem “amongst her kins-folk and acquaintances”; later again in the throng with the brethren, seeking Jesus; we see her a wedding-guest at Cana, a mourner at the foot of the Cross with reviling crowds around. Mary’s life like our Lord’s was spent with the people, consoling, rejoicing, and helping. So this is why we see her now, upon the highroad, beaming with holy joy, pure as the lily flower; so full of grace that she seems to impart it to others as by radiation.

As the days passed the travellers drew near to Jerusalem, and the way grew more rugged; the road crossed hills and descended again through rocky ravines; the flowers grew more scarce; and but for some red anemones ceased altogether as Jerusalem rose to the view. At the western gate Mary parted with most of her company and went southward into the hill country. At last Ain Karim, “the city of Juda,” was reached, and Mary stood on the threshold of her cousin’s house. Oh, then there was joy! Elizabeth came out of her retirement with wondering surprise and great humility. “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this that the mother of my Lord should come to me!”

Then Mary’s lips were unsealed for the first time. Elizabeth knew her secret and called her blessed, and Mary revealed to her the inner-most feelings of her soul. She is blessed, and so shall she be called by all generations, she says; but it is the blessedness of a lowly one made great by the Most High; of a humble one exalted by the might of God’s arm. Nor is this greatness hers alone. Israel, the chosen people, has now obtained its desire of a thousand years. God has shown mercy to Abraham’s children, the Word is made flesh. So Mary “magnifies the Lord and rejoices in God her Saviour.”

Mary and Elizabeth! See them standing together on the threshold. See the exultation in the dear faces. Until Elizabeth’s greeting, Mary had been silent in her joy; but Elizabeth’s praise called forth into speech Mary’s overflowing gratitude and humility and wondering acknowledgment of God ‘s great gifts. And so we got the “Magnificat.”

Three months Mary passed in Zachary’s house. The old man was deaf and dumb; cut off from friends and kindred and servants, but Mary was there to do him loving service, to gladden his eyes with her beaming beauty, to soothe his heart with her kind attentions and by her sanctity help him to a holy resignation. She was there to assist Elizabeth and do her such services as a child would do for its mother.

And these little things were the purport of Mary’s visit; in one word kindness, not charity merely, but loving-kindness which has to do with manner rather than with the act itself. And oh! what a difference manner makes! Let any one in a family, father, mother, child, or servant, alter his way of doing (if need be); let him adopt a cheerful, joyous manner, bestow smiles instead of frowns, freely praise, give alms with a kind word, listen with true interest, congratulate with unfeigned joy, compassionate with a feeling heart, and he will change any household in less than a month. True joyous kindness, Saint Philip Neri’s special gift, is wonder-worker compared to which other miraculous powers are insignificant.

Try it, you gentle souls, who pine to convert your neighbor, to sanctify your own souls, to do good to all men. Be charitable kindly, cheerfully, and you will bring our Lord near to many a heart which otherwise would never know him. Let Mary, the Mother-Maid, in her sweet Visiting, teach us how to love each other in God our Savior.

MLA Citation

  • Father James J McGovern. “The Visitation, 2 July”. Light from the Altar, 1906. CatholicSaints.Info. 31 October 2019. Web. 21 November 2019. <http://catholicsaints.info/book-of-saints-/>

Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 5, Chapter II – Meditation on the Benefit Conferred on Us by God in Calling us to His Service

Saint Francis de Sales1. Consider the points on which you are about to renew your resolutions.

Firstly, that you have forsaken, rejected, detested and renounced all mortal sin for ever.

Secondly, that you have dedicated and consecrated your soul, heart and body, with everything appertaining thereto, to the Service and Love of God.

Thirdly, that if you should unhappily fall into any sin, you would forthwith rise up again, with the help of God’s Grace.

Are not these worthy, right, noble resolutions? Consider well within your soul how holy, reasonable and desirable an act it is to renew them.

2. Consider to Whom you make these promises; for if a deliberate promise made to men is strictly binding, how much more those which we make to God. “My heart is inditing of a good matter. I will not forget Thee,” David cried out.

3. Consider before Whom you promised. It was before the whole Court of Heaven. The Blessed Virgin, Saint Joseph, your Guardian Angel, Saint Louis, the whole Company of the Blessed, were looking on with joy and approbation, beholding, with love unspeakable, your heart cast at your Saviour’s Feet and dedicated to His Service. That act of yours called forth special delight in the Heavenly Jerusalem, and it will now be renewed if you on your part heartily renew your good resolutions.

4. Consider how you were led to make those resolutions. How good and gracious God was then to you! Did He not draw you by the tender wiles of His Holy Spirit? Were not the sails by which your little bark was wafted into the haven of safety those of love and charity? Did not God lure you on with His Heavenly Sweetness, by Sacraments, prayer, and pious books? Ah, my child, while you slept God watched over you with His boundless Love, and breathed thoughts of peace into your heart!

5. Consider when God led you to these important resolutions. It was in the flower of your life, and how great the blessing of learning early what we can never know soon enough. Saint Augustine, who acquired that knowledge when he was thirty years old, exclaimed, “Oh, Thou Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new, too late I loved Thee! Thou were within and I abroad: Thou were with me, but I was not with Thee.” Even so you may say, “Oh, Blessedness of ancient days, wherefore did I not appreciate Thee sooner!” You were not yet worthy of it, and yet God gave you such grace in your youth; therefore say with David, “Thou, O God, hast taught me from my youth up until now; therefore will I tell of Thy wondrous works.” Or if you who read should not have known Him till old age, bethink you how great His Grace in calling you after you had wasted so many years; how gracious the Mercy which drove you from your evil courses before the hour of death, which, had it found you unchanged, must have brought you eternal woe.

Consider the results of this call; you will surely find a change for the better, comparing what you are with what you were. Is it not a blessing to know how to talk with God in prayer, to desire to love Him, to have stilled and subdued sundry passions which disturbed you, to have conquered sundry sins and perplexities, and to have received so many more Communions than formerly, thereby being united to the Great Source of all eternal grace? Are not all these things exceeding blessings? Weigh them, my child, in the balances of the sanctuary, for it is God’s Right Hand which has done all this: “The Right Hand of the Lord hath the pre-eminence, the Right Hand of the Lord brings mighty things to pass. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord” with heart, lips and deeds.

After dwelling upon all these considerations, which will kindle abundance of lively affections in you, you should conclude simply with an act of thanksgiving, and a hearty prayer that they may bring forth fruit, leaving off with great humility and trust in God, and reserving the final results of your resolution till after the second point of this spiritual exercise.

Venerable María Natividad Sánchez Villoria

Also known as

  • María Francisca of the Child Jesus

Profile

Poor Clare nun.

Born

Died

Venerated

Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Venerable María Natividad Sánchez Villoria“. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2019. Web. 21 November 2019. <>

Venerable Jean-Louis-Marie-Joseph Querbes

Venerable Jean-Louis-Marie-Joseph QuerbesProfile

The son of a tailor, he was born in the middle of the French Revolution, baptized the day of his birth, and a bomb destroyed his home when he was one day old. Educated in the parish school of Saint Nizier and the Saint Irenaeus seminary, his classmates included Saint John Mary Vianney, Blessed Jean-Claude Colin and Saint Marcellin-Joseph-Benoît Champagnat. Jean-Louis was drawn to the Jesuits, but the Order was outlawed in France at the time. He was ordained a priest on 17 December 1816. He first served as a parish priest at Saint-Nizier in Lyon, then in 1822 was transferred to the parish of Saint Bonnet in Vourles, France where he served the remaining 37 years of his life. Between 1826 and 1831 he established a group of catechists that would become the Congregation of the Clerics of Saint Viator (Viatorians) teaching order. The Viatorians received papal approval in 1838, and continue their good work in places around the world today.

Born

Died

Venerated

MLA Citation

  • “Venerable Jean-Louis-Marie-Joseph Querbes“. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2019. Web. 21 November 2019. <>

Venerable Augusto Cesare Bertazzoni

Venerable Augusto Cesare BertazzoniProfile

Educated by the Salesians of Don Bosco, Augusto was one of the many boys mentored by Saint John Bosco, himself. Friend of Saint Luigi Orione, Saint Giovanni Calabria and the future Pope Pius X. Ordained a priest on 23 February 1899, he served in the parish at San Benedetto Po, Italy from 30 April 1904 until 30 June 1930; he received the honorific title Monsignor in 1922. Chosen bishop of Potenza e Marsico Nuovo, Italy from 30 June 1930 until his retirement on 30 November 1966, serving for over 36 years; his episcopate was noted for supporting vocations and teaching the catechism. Received the personal title of Archbishop on 30 November 1950. Council Father in all five sessions of the Second Vatican Council. Chosen Titular Bishop of Temuniana on 30 November 1966.

Born

Died

Venerated

MLA Citation

  • “Venerable Augusto Cesare Bertazzoni“. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 October 2019. Web. 21 November 2019. <>

Blessed Benigna Cardoso da Silva

Blessed Benigna Cardoso da SilvaMemorial

Profile

The youngest of four children born to José Cardoso da Silva and Thereza Maria da Silva; her father died before she was born, her mother before Benigna was a year old, and she and her brother were then adopted by another family. Benigna was known as a pious girl, always willing to help at home and school, a good student who would interfere when other childen were being cruel or destructive, and was brought to tears whenever she saw a classmate punished. She was murdered fighting off a rapist, she is considered a martyr to chastity.

Born

Died

Venerated

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Benigna Cardoso da Silva“. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 October 2019. Web. 21 November 2019. <>