BY Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC.
SPIRIT OF FAITH
“Lord, that I may see.” (Luke xviii, 41.)
”IF THOU didst know the gift of God and who it is that says to thee, Give me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.” (John iv, 10.) If thou didst know! Know once and for all. Jesus wishes that you should know that you should see clearly, since you have to guide others. Open the eyes of your soul, drink in torrents of the light. See!
To live by love we must live in the full light. Life is such a coming and going, a continual ebb and flow that it needs a center round which it may safely gravitate. Our peace should be founded on the Rock. This Rock and this Center can be none other than Jesus Christ. There is no greater wisdom than that of knowing Him, there is no truer happiness than that of being intimate with Him. Jesus is all we need! How grand, consoling and safe it is to live by the conviction of faith. God will realize in us and through us His design of mercy in proportion to our faith.
“Dost thou believe?” Jesus always inquires before performing any miracle of love. “Do you believe that I can cure you?” said Jesus to the blind men. “Yea, Lord, we believe,” they answered, (Matt. ix, 27-30) and at once the miracle was performed.
“Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? … But whom do you say that I am? “And Simon Peter answered and said: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. xvi, 13, 15, 16.)
Every time any appeal was made to His Heart and to His omnipotence, Our Lord made answer: “If thou can believe, all things are possible to him that beIieveth.” (Mark ix, 22.) “When I laid before Him, “says Margaret Mary, “my little petitions about things difficult to obtain, I always seemed to hear these words. ‘Dost thou believe that I can do these things? … For if thou believe, thou shalt see the power of my Heart in the magnificence of my Love.’ ” Once more, then, it is clearly manifested that as faith is the basis of all sanctity, so it is also that of every apostolate.
The majority of the Saints certainly lived ordinary humdrum lives such as ours, but they bore within them a Sun which marvelously illumined them, Jesus. Hence it is that, though subject like ourselves to unavoidable ups and downs, they appeared to be — and in truth were — established in unalterable peace, and a confidence stronger than all their interior crises.
In spite of all, they were able to keep the even tenor of their way. Whence did they derive that interior tranquility and unshaken confidence which never forsook them?
The world, which lives in darkness and hates the light, thought them mad, but their folly was the holy outpouring of an immense, unfailing light which permeated their souls unceasingly. Few, even amongst Catholics, fully realize and believe in the love of Jesus which is something so mysterious and divine that only a very lively faith — that of the saint — can penetrate and understand it. But in proportion as any creature whatsoever, and especially an apostle, is “enamored” of Jesus, and believes blindly in His love, in that same treasure the apostle may reckon on a veritable omnipotence, and have the power to transform the world.
O Jesus! give us the omnipotence of those saints, above all of those who believed with a blind faith in the madness of Thy love, in order that like them we may bring the world captive to Thy blood-stained Feet.
Ask Him during these days for the faith of the Saints. You certainly have faith, but is it truly a living, fiery faith, fit to be the root and the spirit of enterprises to redeem souls? For to believe is not merely to have that common faith in a vague, far off, impersonal Being. To believe is, above all to throw oneself into the arms of Jesus, the supreme revelation of the Father, to give all to Him, to live in Him, that Light that came down from Heaven to show us the way which leads to Him. And it is not enough to believe that He came, we must also believe that He remained and is still living amongst us, and we must live accordingly. In short, to believe in Jesus is the secret of a close and divine brotherhood between Him and ourselves. And since, as apostles, we are called to give light to the world, let us seek it in Him Who calls Himself and is “the light of the world.” (John viii, 12.) Oh! may this light be kindled in so many unfortunate souls who are misled by error. The blind man cried out: ”Lord, that I may see.” Let us with a slight alteration repeat ceaselessly to the point of tiring Jesus, if that were possible: “Lord, that I may see Thee! Let me see Thee and penetrate into Thy heart; let me see Thee and live joyously by Thy doctrine of Love; let me see Thee though it leave me blind, if that be Thy will, to the flowers, the stars and all creatures of the earth.”
Such a life would be the prelude to and the vestibule of Heaven, for the Beatific Vision consists in seeing and knowing everything in that light which is God. Thus, if by a great spirit of faith we anticipate, so to speak, though under a veil, that ineffable Vision, we also foretaste a drop of that future bliss of Paradise. Such was, assuredly, the cornet of Heaven which we call Nazareth. To all the neighbors of the King of Kings, the Child Jesus, and afterwards the growing lad, the youth, the workman, was of no particular account, just one of many; but Mary and Joseph saw under that mortal veil the Word made Flesh; they adored the Son of the living God and in the secret of their souls they experienced ineffable joys and unspeakable delight.
Let us contemplate and reproduce the life of faith and love in Nazareth. Like Mary and Joseph let us learn how to labor, to suffer, to struggle in the company of Him Who continues to share our life. Any distance between Him and us arises from our want of faith. The autobiography of the Little Flower will help us to understand this lesson, and will open up new horizons in relation to it. It has been said, and not without reason, that since St. Joseph there has never been a saint who realized better, more intimately and more simply the life of Nazareth than the Little Flower. Consult this doctor-child, that she may lead you in a way so suited to your vocation and to hers.
* * *
But how are we to see Jesus in everything, to draw Him to us and stamp Him on our souls so that He may be the obsession of our lives, He, Jesus, and only He? Clearly we are not alluding to that vague, pale vision of His Divine Person, a chance remembrance of Him from time to time, like a ray of sunlight piercing the gloom of the soul. See Him where He is, not only in heaven and in the Tabernacle, but in yourselves. Find Him in the everyday occurrences of your lives, in the trials and joys which He in His Wisdom sends you. See Him in the countless graces He pours out upon you; and when you feel Him bless you, as He passes, give thanks to Him, for gratitude brings down abundant favors.
See Him in your prayers, those you offer up in church, and also those informal ones you say at home. See Him inspiring your prayers, teaching you how to pray, receiving your homage and petitions, and answering them in His divine Mercy and liberality.
See Him in your daily tasks and occupations. See Him at your side in the fatigue which He Himself experienced. While your hands labor, His Heart is sanctifying you, in proportion as you cooperate with His grace.
See Him sharing your table, seated with you in your home; but, above all, understand that He hungers and thirsts for your heart and He, in return, will give Himself to you.
See Him at night time, when you are about to go to rest. Repose, like John, upon His Heart, and in your sleep let your very breath say to Him: “Jesus, I love Thee.” Thus will your eyes sleep and your heart keep vigil. (“Oculi somnum capiant, cor ad te semper vigilet.” [And while the eyes soft slumber take, still be the heart to Thee awake…])
See Him in the hour of sacrifice which meets you at every step. The vision of Jesus crucified will be a divine encouragement and a recompense. Do not lose a single splinter of your daily cross, never fail to unite your sufferings to those of Jesus.
See Him in those hidden sorrows which no one would understand, your hours of Gethsemane. Do not seek a Cyrenean, nor call, then, on an angel; Jesus will suffice you; call to Him. Feel Him at your side, see Him in the disappointments caused by your fellow creatures when they fail or forsake you and do not respond to your affection as you would have them do. In that hour see Jesus soothing your sorrow and listen to Him for — by that salutary trial — He is teaching you not to put your trust in creatures, and is loudly proclaiming to you that He alone is good and true.
See Him in those hours of moral weariness and darkness, when your whole nature seems rent and shattered, when you feel more than usually oppressed by your poverty and wretchedness. See Him then close to you and exclaim with heart and voice: “I believe in Thy love, Jesus, I do believe.”
When the storm and tempest of temptation is about to overwhelm you and shipwreck seems imminent, hear above the tossing waves, Jesus inviting you to enter into the barque of His Heart; and if you at times think, as Peter did, that the Master sleeps, do not greatly fear, for to go down with Jesus will be to find heaven in the depths. He will, at the fitting hour, calm the tempest and restore peace to your troubled soul. In that dark hour trust His Heart.
See Him each time you sink down and feel guilty. He Himself willed to fall on the Way to Calvary to encourage you by His own weakness; all may be scandalized, but He will never be. No one understands as He does the weakness of our humanity with which He clothed Himself, (Cf. Phil. ii, 6, 7.) that He might really be our Brother. However great and numerous your falls, fear Him not; He, the Mercy of the Father, the Divine Compassion, will go down into the depths of the abyss for you. We have cost Him so great a price that He cannot easily resign Himself to the loss of a single soul given Him by the Father. (John vi, 39.) Remember how beautifully He depicted Himself in that Samaritan (Luke x, 30-37.) who raised up in his arms from the wayside the poor wretch attacked unawares by the robbers. Who does not know by happy experience the tenderness and gentleness of this adorable Samaritan? You may be deep in guilt and covered with the leprosy of sin, yet He is ever ready to change your soiled garment into a royal robe of glory. How eloquent was the look (Luke xxii, 61, 62.) Jesus cast on Peter, after the denial, conquering His ungrateful apostle by His love.
“Peace, be not troubled,” cries the Savior in out hours of darkness and loneliness; “Peace, with Me thou shalt gain the victory.”
And lastly, see Him, and only Him, in the thousand and one difficulties of your apostolate. You were expecting encouragement and approbation from virtuous souls, and they oppose you, like unlooked for barricades. God knows for what reason He allows this opposition and persecution on the part of good people; it is often a prelude to great victories. If we seek His Glory, we shall believe in Divine Love and Wisdom more than ever in such moments. Let us be beset by the love of Jesus, seeing Him and only Him in everything. What was the earthly life of Our Lord but an obsession for mankind? And it is still so today. See how He follows and pursues us, determined to draw His glory and our good from everything, from our virtues and from our very vices, from our good qualities and our defects.
Little Teresa, one day, heard how it is possible to hypnotize others and to take possession of their faculties. “Ah,” she at once exclaimed, “how I should like Jesus to hypnotize me! With what boundless joy would I yield myself to His will!” And it was because the Little Flower sought to be, and really was, hypnotized by Jesus, that her life was so great a marvel of faith. Why should Jesus not attract the soul as much and even more strongly than human beings, such as a husband, a friend, a lover or a son?
Scientists and great artists are often infatuated by their work and ready to sacrifice all to win admiration from their fellow men. Surely, apostles of the King of Glory, may well be in love with Jesus Christ, the uncreated Beauty, the sight of Whom entrances the Angels and rejoices Paradise. Let us allow Him to take full possession of our hearts and so fill them with love that we may truly cry with St. Francis of Assisi: ”My God and my All!”
O Jesus, Sun of Justice, dazzle and enlighten Thy apostles! Become their divine and only obsession, that they may take pleasure in no other thing but Thee. (St. Margaret Mary, speaking of a grace which Our Lord accorded her on all First Fridays of the month, expressed herself thus: “This Divine Heart appeared to me as a resplendent Sun, whose fiery rays fell directly on my heart, which felt as if it were reduced to ashes by so fierce a fire.”)
← Prior Chapter 5 — A Retreat for Apostles – Opening Conference
Current — Chapter 6 – Spirit of Faith
Next →: Chapter 7 – Life of Love