Hounds of the Lord – or Poodles?
What are you doing for God? People examine their consciences at night to see if they have offended God. But have you loved God? Served God? Conquered yourself? Helped your neighbor?
“Oh no, but I have avoided distractions-and to do so I say as little prayers as possible.”
You have joined that Association for helping your neighbor? ‘Oh no, I find it distracts me, and gives occasion to me to go into a passion.’
It is much better to do good, and be guilty of faults, than not to do good and commit fewer faults.
St. Mechtilde thanked God for preserving her from the temptations to which the poor fathers who preached were subject.
The saint had belonged to a great family in the world, and Our Lord said to her: ‘My daughter, you must have noticed, when your father’s hounds came in from the chase, how they were all covered with mud and froth, etc., and your mother would never have suffered them in the drawing-room. Yet poodles were there. Which of them were the better dogs? Which did the master of the house value most?’ . . . Those who give themselves up to the service of God might well have contracted little stains, even mud, blood, etc., but they are of much greater worth than those who, sleek and clean, have been sitting at home doing nothing.
How shall we avoid an accumulation of debt for venial sin? A person who tries to work for God will have a much smaller debt than one who leads a negative, colorless life. What about sins of omission?
What are you going to answer when you realize for the first time the good you might have done in the world, and have not done? Everyone has his own place in the world, and acts and reacts on others: we are all members of one family.
A sin of omission is not fulfilling that mission which God has given us to do. Remember the man who had only one talent and hid it in the ground. What a hard judgement he had! God has given us all a talent.
You say you have nothing to do in the world? It is very odd that God should have put you here with nothing to do. You needn’t start another Religious Order. There is always work to be done.
You may be perfectly certain you are not in the world for nothing. If it’s only to make your home happy, and bear the trials God sends you, – that’s not only avoiding evil, it’s doing good.
Am I growing into that stature God intended for me? That is a very home question for us all to ask ourselves. Why have I not exerted a better influence? Am I falling short of God’s purpose in creating me?
Venial sin makes the soul very languid. Rheumatism and gout don’t kill, but they make life extremely uncomfortable.
When we have habits of venial sin which we take no pains to correct, exactly the same sort of effect is produced in the soul as rheumatism and gout produce in the body; they take the zest out of life.
I am speaking of definite habits of venial sin. Our spiritual life flows sluggishly, and we find it difficult to move and progress.
With toothache and earache you get angry and cross, not with people, but with the pain. In venial sin you won’t read ‘that pious twaddle,’ you find that pious people bore, long prayers, meditation, impossible – why can’t they leave me alone!
Some pronouncement of the Church or the Holy Father-that also annoys us, everything is wrong, because your spiritual blood is in a bad condition. We see things discolored when in venial sin.
There is no happiness in the thought of God. The truth is, you are not in a fit state to get good out of it.
Interior Stillness of the Soul
If God calls a soul to prayer, it more and more withdraws itself from the outer world. Even in the midst of outward stress there must be an interior stillness of the soul, where God dwells. . . .
If you want the gift of prayer you must pay the price. You must possess your soul in quietness.
If you set your heart on anything, it takes possession of you, you are penetrated by its atmosphere.
The spirit of prayer withdraws us into the inner and secret atmosphere of the heart. A person may be exceedingly busy, yet there may be still that quietness of the spirit necessary to prayer.
You need not give up the most troublesome and onerous line of life, but if you desire to set your heart on God, there must be quietness from the noise of the world. So will you be with God and God with you.
It is not impossible for a person to be apparently deeply interested in what is before him, and yet be recollected in God, for God is always with you, and if you will keep a corner for Him, He will be with you in a special way, and keep you in His presence.
It is not the solitude of the Himalayas that makes prayer. The essence of prayer is the company of Our Lord. The more we understand that He is everywhere present, that He is within us, that we are always in the presence of God, the more easily we pray.
There is no peace of soul so great as that given by the thought of the presence of God. Whether you think of it or not, He is always there. If you want to learn, ask Our Lord to teach you to pray.
‘But who am I that I should ask so great a thing?’ You are only one of those for whom Our Lord laid down His life, and of whom He is always thinking, day and night – to whom He gives Himself every morning in the Holy Eucharist.
So I do not see where the impertinence of the request comes in. Ask Him: He will like nothing better.
Waste of Time
We throw time away through want of order. When asked to do anything for God, or to make time for our spiritual duties, a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, for instance, we have no time, because we are stupid in the art of making arrangements. It is a great pity we have not more system in our lives.
How much time is lost in useless regrets; I have made a fool of myself -even done something wrong-wasting time instead of going back straight to God with an act of contrition. Never go back on the past.
Stop thinking over something foolish you have done or said and regretting it. When a thing is done, let it be done. We are very poor creatures, and there is nothing so wise as to live in the present.
Another fruitful waste of time is daydreaming: holding imaginary conversations, or fancying ourselves in positions where we play a very satisfactory part. It softens the mind.
Another is fussing. Fussing never saved time. A very celebrated surgeon, on the point of performing a critical operation, is said to have addressed the students about him with: ‘Now, gentlemen, don’t let us hurry, because we have no time to lose.’
There are some people who are never quite self-possessed-always in a flurry. You know the saying, ‘If you want a letter answered, write to a busy man.’
These people hurry to Mass, hurry to meditation, hurry to breakfast, hurry all day long. A saint couldn’t remain a saint under those conditions. Hurry is an enemy to the interior life.
The worst thing after sin is to have too much to do. Some day we shall say, ‘If only I had not lived in that continual fuss.’
The saints lived large days. One characteristic of them is always calm and peace. There may be union with God in the midst of great distractions, but that is not the ordinary way. Don’t let it be said of you as of someone, ‘He seemed to have lost a quarter of an hour in the beginning of the day, and to be all day chasing it.’
Before meditation, give yourself a moment’s pause. . . . God doesn’t cease to be in heaven because you have got a bad piece of news. You’ll never get great holiness unless there is calm: holy people are able to recollect themselves.
“While the procreation of the race is the primary purpose of marriage, it also fosters the love and devotion of husband and wife. It answers man’s craving for intimate companionship, sympathy, understanding, and lasting friendship. It enriches the personality of man by increasing his unselfishness and deepening his capacity for love, friendship, and sacrifice.” – Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook http://amzn.to/2xj8SZs (afflink)
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