A Year with the Saints – 15 November


The surest way to discover whether we have the love of God is to see whether we love our neighbor, for the two things are never separated. Be sure, too, that the more you perceive yourself to advance in the love of your neighbor, the more you will do so in that of God. To see how much we love our neighbor is the surest rule by which to find out how much we love God. It is important, then, to notice with great attention how we walk in this holy love of our neighbor; for if it is with perfection, all is done. And so we ought to examine ourselves carefully as to the little things that are constantly happening, without making much account of certain high-flown ideas about the great things we mean to say and do for our neighbors, which sometimes come to us in prayer, but which are never put into execution. Saint Teresa of Avila

The blessed Angela di Foligno prayed to the Lord to give her some sign by which she might know whether she truly loved Him, and was loved by Him. “The clearest sign,” He answered, “of mutual love between Me and My servants is that they love their neighbors.” Tertullian relates that the mutual love of the first Christians was so manifest that even the heathens were much astonished at it, and said among themselves: “See how these Christians love one another! how much respect they have for each other! how ready they are to render any service, or even to suffer death, for each other’s sake!”

Saint Jerome says that in his old age Saint John the Evangelist was not able to come to the sacred assemblies, except supported by the arms of his followers; nor could he preach long sermons, on account of the weakness of his voice, but he would constantly repeat these few words: “Little children, love one another.” After a time, those present became weary and asked him why he always gave them the same instruction. “Because,” he replied, “this is the precept of the Lord; and if you observe this, it alone will be enough.”

In order that her nuns might be sure whether their actions proceeded from the spirit of charity, Saint Jane Frances de Chantal kept inscribed upon the wall of a corridor through which they were constantly passing, a list of the distinguishing marks which the Apostle assigns to this sublime virtue: “Charity is patient, mild, without jealousy, without ambition, without self-interest, without aversions. It believes all, hopes for all, bears with all.” When anyone in chapter accused herself of a fault against charity, she sent her to read these sentences, which she called the mirror of the convent. She often read them herself, in presence of her daughters; then, turning towards them with a glowing countenance, she would add: “Though I speak with the tongue of Angels and have not charity, I am nothing; and though I give my body to torture and to fire, and have not charity, this profits me nothing.”

MLA Citation