Texts chosen from the writings and teachings of Father Theodossios Maria of the Cross
Since a long time now, many men - and among the best - have drawn attention from various standpoints to the universal deadlock towards which humanity is being increasingly pushed and driven. Such a deadlock concerns all domains: ordinary every-day life, philosophic thought, relations between beings, the nostalgic feelings and the deepest desires of individuals, as well as public action to solve material problems pertaining to social organization; the mode of thinking and executing works of art, and the mode of thinking and procedure in carrying out scientific research and applying techniques; it concerns as well, the way of seeking one's happiness, one's pleasures; it concerns the way in which man regards the profound reality of death both in relation to himself and to others.
From the midst of Christianity, the word of Saints has often announced painfully and peacefully this implacable evolution of the things of this world and the great trials of the Church of Christ.
There are two different orientations in the development of the city and of persons; two points which concentrate the impulses, the movements, and all manifestations of interior and exterior life, all motives of action and references, all combats, all weariness, all the thinking power, the will and the activity of man: on one side, the interminable search for solutions to material, personal and social problems; on the other, supernatural hope, the more or less conscious reference for all things to the reality beyond the phenomena of terrestrial time, beyond the visible or invisible sideral world; on one hand expectation in History, on the other hope in Eternity.
Between these two poles, the peoples of the world evolve and they are pulled from one side to the other; but these two poles mark the most fundamental divergency in the history of men.
Now, of all that man can find in the past and in himself, no virtue, no goodwill, no experience, no systematization of thought, nor any domination of the physical and psychological world can replace the true supernatural reference; no expectation can replace hope. No verified science can replace the impulse of spiritual freedom beyond time.
The Church was founded by Christ in view of this supernatural and eternal reality. Sometimes the divergency reached her from the exterior, sometimes it passed into her interior and those were times of doctrinal and moral trials; sometimes the divergency has succeeded in penetrating more profoundly into the Holy Body of the Church and the suffering of the Saints was greater.
But always the Church of Christ has preserved and will preserve to the end, despite all tribulations and all falterings, the integrity of her essence, of her message, of her reference. Because her reference is Christ Himself, who came from eternity and who has returned to eternity, awaiting the end of time. He has thus opened the only door to man, to that reality which is called the Kingdom.
This is why we have already written elsewhere: The Church is always undergoing trials. This assembly of those who have heard and accepted God's call and who are steadily advancing towards sanctity, through grace, through participation to the Cross of Christ, through the Mysteries of the Church, this assembly, the mild and gentle Church who delivers from Babel, who has re-established the unique language of the Cross, this new generation in Creation, this descendance from the Virgin, Jesus Christ's great Church, has undergone since the beginning the assault of direct persecution and of heresy.
The spirit of darkness wishes to divide at all costs, and wishes to conceal the interior vision of eternity. Everything is utilized to bring about division and to stimulate pride and self-conceit: race, national history, difference in skies and climates, the faults of ancestors, the Saints themselves; everything is resorted to, to prevent the liberation of man from external logic and his blossoming forth in humility taught by our gentle Lord Jesus, and achieved in all the Church through the unending lineage of Saints.
All phenomena, all political, social, international evolutions and all spiritual life on earth, depend and will always depend upon the positive, deep-rooted resistance in the great assembly of Christians, to division and falsification of evangelical truth in the name of the truth of History.
Therefore the first point of our appeal addressed to each one of us, and to all men, is that we should endeavour - in the midst of the fascination exercised by technical mirages, social and universal disturbances and the extreme deformations of the sacred order and even of the natural order in all domains - to preserve and develop the supernatural reference, the hope in the Kingdom, and to live with the desire and in the spirit of a deep-rooted union in the Heart of Christ.
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It is necessary for every Christian to understand that one of the most difficult things for the Church of Christ has always been that of defining her doctrinal position of participation in the affairs of the city, in relation to the various situations and events in the course of centuries. Often it is believed that this is due to a deficiency, or a lack of clear vision and enlightenment.
Deficiencies and lack of clear vision belong to the general order of human frailty. The Church, in the measure in which she is a human society, knows such frailties.
Nevertheless the Church is faced with another`and far more fundamental difficulty. This is, that the Gospel has brought the consoling message that one should not expect to attain on earth perfect and definite solutions to one's problems of life and happiness. The Gospel established the relativeness of history and the immutability of the life and order of the eternal world.
And as Christ, who came on earth, ate, drank and suffered to free man from the inconstancy of the world of phenomena, so the Church follows and listens with charity to all weaknesses and to the desires and inconstancies of man, in order that he may learn and peacefully accept the law of salvation which is sacrifice.
This message of the Gospel, this relativeness of the terrestrial world, the Word's consenting to become flesh in order to withdraw man from the world of corruption and make him enter into the eternity of life and peace, is constantly present to the discernment of the Supreme Magisterium of the Church. While spiritual man hungers for the Kingdom while still here on earth, the Church with infinite patience continues to carry on the millenary dialogue with the worldly man, «that all may be saved ».
And, in her love, as she condemned the heresies which attainted the divinity of Christ, she equally condemned austere and pious personages because they evinced impatient tendencies which thwarted the work of the Church in the world.
This verity of the Church lays upon her one of her heaviest crosses: that of having children in all countries, in all regions, who have many terrestrial hopes and desires; and such desires and hopes, of nations, of race, class, state and family are contradictory; thus in every century intricate situations are interwoven which form a crown of thorns for the Supreme Authority of the Church, of whom her children constantly demand, even as the two Israelites demanded of our Lord, that she should divide their lands among them.
Only true charity and comprehension on the part of every baptized person and on the part of each pastor, and their increasingly perfect conversion in the interior sense of the evangelical message towards the supernatural justice of sacrifice and the sweet perfect obedience, grants the possibility to the Church of Christ to carry out a genuine action for the welfare of souls and all possible good for the terrestrial city.
The Prince of this world who stirs up nations and peoples, has a great desire to see currents of protest and division arise in the midst of Christianity, capable of drawing it into the strife of the world according to concepts of the world.
The second point of our appeal is that we should endeavour to solve each time, in as far as God permits, all material and social problems according to charity and the immutable laws of sacrifice. At the same time, our criteria should in all cases and at all times be based on the evangelical truth that the coming of Christ, His teaching, His Passion and Resurrection, and the founding of His Church, signify the end of the mirage of perfect terrestrial solutions. One must be penetrated by such principles. One must not deprive the lives of Christians of this great and consoling truth, by replacing it with the delusion of the infinite improvements of the temporary city. Such a delusion harbours in its depths an element of spiritual death; while the truth of the evangelical message taught us by St. Paul, that we do not possess here below a permanent city, bestows upon earthly life the unequalled flavour of the first-fruits of eternity.
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Now, these two efforts, namely the effort to keep to supernatural reference concerning all things, and the effort to solve each time all practical and material questions trusting in supernatural justice, in the spirit of the Cross and therefore according to charity and the immovable laws of sacrifice; these two points of our appeal constitute the basis of a general mode of behaviour when confronted by the multitude of currents which today upset the life of nations, of religious communities of all kinds, and the whole of Christianity.
It is with great humility that one should think and say such things, because eternal justice belongs to God, and the power of the currents which sway the City is immense and it focusses both attention and hearts on the exterior and historical aspects of events. But one should think of them and one should speak of them. One must transmit to each other from one point to the other of the Earth, and in as far as God allows, clear messages which God causes to pass through the heart of man, messages of holy resistance against the ideological avalanche which threatens to ruin all our supernatural points of reference and hope.
Our Appeal is therefore this communication in all directions of the deep and joyous certitude we harbour in our hearts: that Christ has founded His Church on earth, with her sacraments, not to perpetuate the terrestrial city of our History, but in view of a supernatural end, namely the Eternal Celestial City, which He himself named the Kingdom.
Near or far, through written or oral interchanges, or without any particular form of interchange, he who welcomes this Appeal in his heart with sweetness and benevolence, walks in the same direction; and with the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints, he will be united to millions of other souls in the same trials and in the same hope.
Because through this appeal we only ask, in the midst of new lexicons and social, technical and intellectual mirages, which harden the heart and deprive youth of all its nobility and of all pure nostalgia, we only ask to spread holy perseverance, and the desire of faithfulness and unity to the end in Christ's most Sacred Heart.
The language of signs
Time passes. Eternity remains; that is the permanent prism through which all things must be seen and filtered, all things, all thoughts, all feelings, all memories, all generosity and all pettiness, all moments of childhood splendor and all crumpling of the afflicted soul. What remains is Eternity; Love only is eternal.
Solitary landscapes, plains and gardens of infinite tenderness, blue seas beneath the blue summer sky, delicate flowers devotedly offered by delicate souls, high, high mountains and peaceful rivers, windows opened onto expanses of green, fragrance of thyme and incense and pure wax, white crosses upon deserted hills, far-off sounds of evening on flat and fertile plains, friendly voices tinged with eternal fidelity that traverse the fragrant hour of dusk, illnesses and open wounds offered with sweetness and without revolt, offered for the liberty and joy of unknown souls; presences which people all solitudes and solitudes of infinite love which transcend all presence, mistakes of holy origin, successes without merit which fill the soul with secret sadness in the hours of praise and ovation, shivers of cosmic solitude and of void before the image of the infinite universe, in motion and without love; shivers and warm tears of gratitude before the small. discreet vibration of the infinite love of the Creator, murmurs of gentle wisdom within friendships established by God in eternity fill my soul as I think of each of you, as we make our way painfully towards the mystery of the feasts of sorrow and resurrection.
Henceforth, for millions of men, the nostalgia for beauty and eternal Love does not belong to the "real". An entire language, a sensitive human language and all of the nuanced and delicate significations of words are effaced in the consciousness and sensibility of millions and millions of men. Yet the aim of the creation and the means of attaining to it as individuals, as peoples and as races, remain immutable. Thus every faithful and loving soul is led, amidst all tribulation, to perceive and to live, as much as is permitted and possible, the sign behind each thing, its intimate language of creature created innocent before any alteration, in order to receive, behind each thing, the eternal love of God and of his creation within Him.
In the leaves of the trees, transparent and gilded by the sun, one can read the message of the Word: hope. One can read a call, a dream and a promise. The whole of creation contains the sign, infinitely variable and absolutely unique, of the finality of creation. On the distant horizon gleams the interior horizon. And on the interior horizon shines the visage of eternal Love, visage both human and divine; visage of the multiple inf1nite and of the infinite One, for it is the visage of the Creator, of the unique Son of the Creator and of the Spirit thrice Holy of the Creator.
The tiniest wild flowers, the depths of friends' eyes, planets and galaxies, the glow of the oil lamp before the icon, the graves of little children and the centuries-old cemeteries, all the pure waters and sweet fragrances of fields and forests, the salty ocean wind, contain a secret song, a gentle song, discreet and infinite, the song of the Lord.
Flowers and trees and precious stones, as well as humble pebbles, waters, stretches of land and mountains, everything is a beautiful letter and word of the hidden language of eternal life. That is why the Holy Scriptures and all the sacred writings of God's servants are full of comparisons and references to nature. Flowers express spiritual blossomings which come forth from the depths of the initial creation of the primordial world. Precious stones express stability of conquered virtues, and each element contains immutable qualities as well as corrosive elements. And this is what Saint Paul writes, "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead."
The soul of good will, when it has definitively entered the path of profound humility, begins to be grateful for the littlest wheel that man can make, for the most minor medicine, for the water of rivers and for rain, for the wool of clothing, for the law of sound which permits a musical instrument, for the metal which permits a medical instrument and the magnetized needle; and the soul of good will is grateful for the laws which it knows of the natural world, for the perception of the infinitely small and the infinitely great in its rapports with finite nature, for colors, flowers, for the heavens. The soul is grateful because through the aperture of basic humility and of death, it understands the language of the whole visible universe and of all the laws of nature, which speak only of that life of order and peace and of eternal love of the Kingdom.
In order to understand and penetrate the meaning of "the goodness of things", that is, what things express and their sign, books serve little when man is weighed down by his "ego"; he must be free and he is liberated from his ego when he enters the glory of love, when he takes an interest in his brothers, when he takes an interest, for example, in writing a tender letter to his mother whom he loves: then man is free, he is joyful and smiling.
It is absolutely impossible to grasp the mystery of a landscape, to grasp the mystery of animals, the mystery of the rapport between humans and animals, if we do not readjust our own knowledge each day to a lived, intimate knowledge, if we are not continually moved by the desire to be united to eternal truth.
Things express an immense goodness when they manifest to man the message of God's love. And human beings themselves contain a great, sacred secret and can contain an immense goodness, a love which is a participation in God's love.
When one communicates with the Creation, there is a great nostalgia, because behind every expression the great goodness of God is engraved, hidden everywhere. Death is also hidden therein, for man can no longer communicate solely with the goodness of things when, loving himself, he egotistically wishes to separate himself from the evil of death, for then he becomes divided within himself, he leaves the Work of the Creation.
That is what the devil, who hates the Creation, who hates man, desires. The way in which sin and the original disorder manifest themselves most in a human being is in his incapacity to penetrate the mystery of the Creation, his ceasing to love the works of God. When nature is not dominated by eternal love within man, the goodness of things is lost.
In order to be constantly with God, one must love Him in fullness, love what He wanted to do: He wanted to save the world, that is, He wanted man to be able to communicate with the goodness of things, with the goodness of creation, with Him.So I must be fully available in order to understand the goodness of things: the goodness of the flame of an oil lamp, the goodness of a green prairie, the goodness of a smile, the goodness of an eyebrow, the goodness of a stone, the goodness of a warm room when I come in from the cold, the mysterious goodness which emanates from the forest, the goodness of earth, leaves, bark; the vibration of goodness which flows forth from a man, from his spirit, his heart, his hair, his ears, his bones.
And why are there so many crimes? Absence of love. So much courseness? Absence of love. Where there is no love all is foul, where there is love, all becomes holy because man's love, even the most ordinary, is a participation in God's love, and Christ came in order to sanctify it.
All that is without love leads to death, even if it is done in the name of God. That is why Saint Paul saidÑand I shall repeat it until the end of my lifeÑI may possess all wisdom and know all languages, I may give my body to be burned, but if I have not love, I am a clanging gong.
When you were in contact with the goodness of things, when, that is, contact with the exterior world lifted your soul and filled you with joy and holy love, you were free, without problems; when one becomes weighed down, he enters darkness.
Do not think that goodness consists in not desiring evil. Goodness does not mean, only not to desire evil, it is a continual activity as a constant light. And when someone near us is weak and weighed down within himself, or self-satisfied, or meditative or a little grey, we must be as lights to dissolve his darkness.
Believe me, knowledge is an endless journey, a journey to knowledge of God. One advances, one advances... What is defined is the way, and the only way is: to love, to desire good, to have endless patience, never, never to despair.
The man of truth discovers the signature of the Creator engraved within the intimity of all things, and he enters the path which leads away from history. He discovers that Christ entered history in order to liberate man from the Great Illusion. Thus, it is at the foot of the Cross that the path of liberation begins, where man discovers, little by little, the mystic language of all visible things. And then the day comes when the universe is silent and history is silent. The Illusion dissipates. The false image of the universe is overthrown. And the soul knows and lives, because it knows the eternal real, the Ineffable.
The Truth is immense, unique, simple and also infinitely nuanced, infinitely rich, infinitely near and infinitely far. Man's soul as a sensitive and ethereal resonator, receives the numerous vibrations of infinite Truth which goes beyond all particular knowledge. Vibrations of eternal Truth reach the soul, coming from the unfathomable depths of the Real, of the Eternal Heart of God.
To penetrate the mystery of the life and meaning of the Saints, we must enter the immensity of truth and understand the impossibility of "owning it". Through this nostalgia for truth, we shall encounter the Saints, because the greatest truth man can obtain after the revelation of Christ is the love of truth itself. Love of truth to the point of supreme sacrifice is the major Truth which the Lord gave us.
Who knows the Father? Only the Son and he to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him. The truth is an ocean, an abyss; in order to know it one must plunge into it. It is not a list of concepts. The truth of the Most Holy Trinity is not to be able to say: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but it is to love that mysterious reality to the point of death. We are sometimes capable of dying for human beings We must be ready to offer ourselves for the truth. That does not mean shouting from the rooftops, raising our voice, it means loving this mysterious, inconceivable God, loving Him as a very precise reality, either in silence or in preaching.
The truth can only be grasped by one who embraces Christ in his heart. Now when someone desires to establish himself on the truth, to fill his heart with what is ca]led truth, it is with the Blood of Christ, with the gaze of Christ and the love of Christ, He who is Truth and Love itself, that he must be filled. And therefore, the truth can only be taught, transmitted or defended by means of Christ himself, in imitation of him.
Christ, according to his own teaching, founded his Church with a view to the Kingdom. He gave it a structure profoundly free and thus profoundly royal, a structure in the image of the holy, eternal prototype which He Himself is.
Christ endowed the Church with a structure which must remain immutable in its essence, because it is inaccessible to the relative, fluctuating forces of the terrestrial city. The influence of the changing image of the terrestrial city on the men of the Church must never condition the perennity of its structural essence as Kingdom. The Kingdom of the Church is made in the image of its Founder who said to Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world" (John 18: 36). And the same Jesus, before his Passion, responded to questions regarding the Kingdom of God, "The Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17: 21).
That is why we must never lose sight of the fact, when meditating or when teaching adults or little children, that even through the worst historical calamities, through the greatest trials and humiliations of the Church, the essential structure of the Church, made in the image of the Kingdom, in its profound intimity, structure inaccessible to the profane gaze, will remain immutable until the end.
The Church of Christ is not an assembly of chosen people; it is not an agglomerate in the midst of the world. The Church is not a juridical norm of the relatións between man and God, and of men among themselves; it is a universal, fertile earth, it crosses all the spaces and milieus of the created; it is irrigated on all of its immeasurable expanse by water from an infinite and eternal source.
On that earth, in that earth, a multitude of seeds and grains grow, each according to its nature, each according to the depth and expanse of its love. Besides the living water, a continual shower of graces falls upon that sweet and profoundly peaceful earth.
There are times in which the Church appears to be depopulated or populated only by brambles or roots and dead leaves. This impression is based on an image far too material of the Church. People say: the rain is coming, the good, dark earth receives it, but the seeds cannot take root and everything is dying.
The Church receives the sacred water from its sources and from the shower of graces, and there are always new seeds which grow and reach towards the Infinite, which embrace the whole universe and penetrate the intimity of everything on this side of and beyond death. The brambles and dead leaves are residues which will also be taken and absorbed by the holy earth, except for what in God's mysterious wisdom is destined to fire. But man does not have the right to pass definitive judgements. The order and the ultimate outcome of things are hidden in God.
These ever new seeds are not always visible to all eyes. According to the degree of fidelity of hope, what is called the "interior eye" of man, his interior vital intelligence, can perceive, in the midst of the peaceful, indifferent or extremely harsh events of human history, the life of eternal love rising from that boundless earth of the Church, towards the initial center of life, towards the invisible, omnipresent Creator.
That is why a great part of all that is said and done in the Church and in the world, in the name of and in view of the good of the Church, is often accomplished far from the universal, true, fertile earth of the Church.
Therefore, very dear Brothers and Sisters, do not allow yourselves to be captivated by external manels, or to be disheartened by the dryness and emptiness of terrestrial hours, for not only beyond those hours, but within the invisible and impalpable intimity of those hours, man can communicate, from the depths of his being, with the live mystery of eternal Love.
Do not allow yourselves to be disheartened either by sickness or by the death of dear ones, or by the profanation of holy things, or by the word and coarse and heavy verbiage which sometimes penetrate even to the interior of the sanctuary; do not let yourselves be disheartened by the inadequacy of human language and of material or intellectual human constructions.
There is a human measure which is infinite; it is a measure of life which draws man himself towards the serene and motionless rapture of Love of Truth.
It is this measure which allows man to go beyond the limits of his language and his intellect. It is the measure of the ontologic communication with the truth and with the most profound essence of beings. Thus the little human creature can, by humility and loving patience, gather fruits and flowers from the eternal earth of the Church and itself become a flower and benediction of that same blessed earth, the Church.
Beneath the interminable firmament, on the small planet where we were created and born, the soul can discover, even amidst the perpetual mutation of things and of its history, the secret and anointed permanence of the Church, and can live, with its most profound essence, the mystery of eternal Love.
The Church is a mystery of love. It is neither a society of men nor an ensemble of conditions of life or abstractions. The Church is like life, mysterious, simple, misunderstood, wounded, full of a sovereign love and of darkness of pride, of hatred, of conventions of temporal society.
The solitary soul who desires the good of all, and who lives the profound nostalgia, poignant but serene, of communion with God and communion of eternal friendship in God, lives the mystery of the Church, because it lives by love and for eternal love, because it lives the quintessence of the message of the Saviour: To love.
The soul who is very busy with works and actions in the name of the Church may be a stranger to the life and to the mystery of the Church, because works and action often serve as a substitute for love and communion.
According to the word of Saint John of the Cross, in the evening of our life we shall be judged according to love. It can be said that in the evening of our life, in so far as members of the Church, we shall be judged according to our love towards the Body and Blood of the Lord, towards the Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist; on the worship and honor rendered to this Body and this Blood, upon the fidelity of faith to the great and sweet mystery, revealed and confirmed by the Lord, the Apostles and all the Saints, mystery of the transsubstantiation and renewal of the Sacrifice, which has transcended the Creation beyond all evolution in the universe.
If one is an agent of peace and union, he is blessed by God; but to be an agent of peace and union means to be bathed in the mystery of Gethsemane, that is, in the mystery of infinite love. The fundamental mystery of the Church can neither be represented nor expressed by the empty reflections of artificious ecclesiology but rather by courageous reflections and acts of offering and of eternal, spontaneous harmony with the sacred fire of the "new man" of whom Saint Paul speaks; and it is thus that man is an agent of peace and not of iniquity, according to the word of Christ.
If in the exterior life of the Church the great poetry of eternal love is wanting, that does not mean that the eternal Church of Christ, the intimate, ever-living Church, does not contain all the seeds and all the sacred norms of the poetry, full of love and nostalgia, of the kingdom of joy; and it is through this nostalgia, to the degree of this nostalgia, that the Cross is accepted with peace and without effort of substitution; without an effort to replace the Cross of Christ by our pains and personal desires.
Peace between nations, as peace in the depths of the soul, depends upon the glorious humility with which man loves his friends, God, His passion and His resurrection.
The Body of Christ was wounded in its healthy and holy tissues, without itself having lost its holiness. The members of the Church are wounded by their own sins and by the sins of others. The Body of the Church is wounded, without any alteration of the holiness of the Head, the Heart and all of the healthy cells. The wounds of the Body of the Church do not alter the identity of the holy mystical Body, the Church itself: the identity of Jesus Christ, His holy Mother and all men who, wounded or not, are bound by Faith and Charity to Christ.
If this sacred likeness of the Church is not well assimilated - not always, certainly, by concepts and notions, but by loving and sacrificial participation in the Body of the Church - no method, no technique and no tactic can transmit the truth of the Church and thus the teaching of Christ.
Notions, exterior images, precepts which are rigid or lax, may be transmitted, but within a short time are effaced. All that remains is the wound and dullness.
But when the participation is loving, to the point of sacrifice through love of eternal Truth, then the mystery of the Church is unveiled in the depths of the heart and is transmitted as blood which vivifies the mystical Body of Christ.
True friendship cannot be destroyed by anyone and this gift of God makes a fiery incision within the souls who advance for his glory and with the desire to convert the universe. When friendship, and every feeling of affection in general, succeeds in obtaining this level, this sensitivity, it is so free, so great, and it grows each day, that no exterior trial can wound or weaken it.
But in order for this to be, it must be cemented in God's love and based on God's love, and therefore also on the love of all souls, for their conversion; then this friendship, this bond of souls is stripped of all vanity and all selfishness.
If our joy is not founded on the eternal good of others and on the joy of others, even temporal at times, but which helps them in the long run to awaken, then our life is dead, our sensitivity is absolutely transitory and friable, and our affections are based on our egoism, our pride, our self love. This does not mean that the most perfect love does not entail suffering and difficulties: the most holy brothers, the deepest friends may know moments of pain, but no one can touch bottom; it is like the waves of the sea: they may be dozens of meters in height, the bottom of the sea remains stable and motionless; true friendship in God is there, in the depths of the ocean of love.
True friendship is a grace from God, it is a real bond of the love of God; but because it is real, man is free from time, from the world, and he advances through winds and tides, through all difficulties, and the point of his joy is immutabie: it is the good of others.
And since there is that concern for the salvation of humanity, the more the bond is fraternal, the more the friendship is delicate and profound. There is always a pain, a sorrow, that of the whole of humanity; and the fact that this pain is lived, the fact that it is a part of the soul of friends, renders the friendship more and more beautiful and eternal.
Christ did not continually reproach the apostles for their summariness; it is not in this way that He converted them and united them to the great mystery of his Cross; but He loved them from the beginning as they were, taking upon Himself all the solitude and sufferings which that summariness entailed. Much more than miracles and discourses, it is that infinite clemency of Christ which engendered the first core of the Church. And through all the Saints and Servants, the Church does not cease to express the royal authority of Christ. If we also desire to participate in Christ's royalty, we must continually live that clemency, we must live that universal pardon in regard to every soul, and therefore first in regard to each brother.
The testament of the greatest theologian of all times, the apostle Saint John, is that prayer which he repeats tirelessly, "My little children, love one another". Outside of that love, all thoughts and all actions remain empty; but if we carry out Saint John's appeal, then we do participate in the royalty of Christ which is holy delicacy and fraternal respect, first in our interior attitude and in all our exterior manifestations. This holy sensitiveness cannot exist unless one continually has his brother's soul before him, that is, his brother's eternal good.
GOLDEN RULE OF THE PEACE OF GOD
FOR A SOUL WHO WANTS TO KNOW INFINITE LOVE
A. The first three truths of golden peace
The first thing to realize before inwardly setting for oneself the path to be followed, before deciding in favor of this or that program of activity, study and life, is that our life, in all of its manifestations both interior and exterior, depends on God's grace and our humility.
The second thing is, that humility is an inimitable glory which imparts strength and an abiding inner smile radiating in the midst of every sadness and trial. For it is the soul's smile confronted with the goodness, delicacy and ineffable fragrance of God's love.
The third thing is, that the soul which is marked by the love of God, is marked by eternal Love, in all its contacts and connections with the universe as a whole and simultaneously with its particular details. This soul carries within itself and engenders around it, sweet liberty, and knows what the love of God in all things signifies, and what it means to live all things in God and to love in God.
B. The 12 Actions of the royal road of peace
1. We must have confidence that sincere prayer to live according to God's will never stops short of bearing thoroughly positive fruit. Therefore, in the midst of every trial, every "closed horizon", every despair and every lapse, even physical, we must have faith in God and pray, without having so much as the least immediate consolation. But before long we will notice that a mysterious strength is spreading within us a ennobling our suffering and our love, our actions and our speech.
2. We must also have confidence in ourselves, in spite of all our faults, for we want to do everything and live everything in God. We must never make reference to the temporary impressions we have of ourself, even if they are very humiliating. This trust is the highest humility, because it is based on trust in God; it is the supreme confidence and humility of the "Magnificat".
3. We must berenewed every day and even every hour. And this may not always be awork of immediate consolation. But it is an action reaching towards the eternal. At every moment, consciously or unconsciously, in the midst of the sweetest consolations or the most barren trials, the soul carries out the offering of everything, absolutely everything, to Him, who is the cause and source of everything. This act of offering renews us, because it stabilizes us in the most perfect love, linking us, directly or indirectly, with the ineffable love of God for us.
4. In the midst of our consolations and in the midst of our barrenness of solitude and despair, we must think, with an interior "offering", of the sufferings of Christ and of the sadness and pain of all those who deeply love us. This thought-action is the highest manifestation of true life and true love. In these moments, we see, - as if far beyond a barren and dry landscape - the tender sun which speaks to us of truth and of ineffable eternal love. It is the sun of sweet and vibrant peace, peace of hope, mellow peace of infinite love.
5. Each day we must cultivate a deeper sense of responsibility, towards the graces and joy which are coming from God, towards suffering humanity,and towards the Church, which, in spite of all her wounds, contains the living heritage of the Redeemer. When we feel physically very tired, we must humbly accept it with patience and be sure that the best thing we can offer is this action, this thought-action, remembering the sufferings of Christ and the sorrow and weariness of those who love us and whom we deeply love. This brings a balm and a strengthening to our heart and body, a mysterious and sweet gladness which refreshes and renews us.
6. We must persevere, by prayer and constant endeavor of humility and true love, so as to become more generous and more just everyday. At the depths of human beings, even among those who are intelligent and sensitive, there is a spontaneous impulse which draws everything back to their own desire. And what is more, this impulse, in thought and in heart, impairs - for a short or long time - all notions of justice and love. It is an impulse which must be reversed and can be, by prayer, the act of offering without awaiting an immediate consolation, and through a desire and continual effort of eternal love. This sixth action can only be effected as a result of the five preceeding actions. The reversal of this motion which drives the individual more and more towards a central egotism, liberates the individual's love, and the soul enters the realm of liberty, which means becoming a "free-slave" of Truth and Love.
7. We must decide each time, as if it were the first, and strive each time to carry out everything commanded, pleasant or unpleasant, in a good mood both inwardly and outwardly, for love of God, for love of those around us, and in order to honor, in the depths of our soul and thought, any major feelings, such as holy eternal friendship. Each time that we succeed a little more in this process, we should go before the Blessed Sacrament and give thanks to God, because the "bad mood" even if unnoticed by others, is a calamity and blasphemy towards the generosity of God, and also towards those who love us and labor for us and with us.
8. We must decide each time, and tirelessly so, never to allow a sense of right to establish itself in our soul, but on the contrary, that of obligation. This is the limpid royal secret, the secret of strength and infinite love of the children of God. That is why the movement of the reversal of the sixth action is required. Without that, not only is the soul unable to act, but it cannot even grasp the importance and the deeply joyous and free nature of the replacement of the sense of right by that of obligation through duty and love. The obligation through love induces in the soul the deep joy of liberty.
9. We must give thanks for every grace, for every truth perceived, for every sunlit landscape, for every inner victory won, for every beloved presence, for all music, for every word which reveals the joyful mystery of creation, for the fact that we exist, for the love that we have received and that we are receiving, for love we have felt and are feeling, for the stars, lakes, watersprings, for the martyrs, seasons, birds, animals, for the bread that we eat. And above all, endless thanksgiving for the Blessed Sacrament which renews our life and makes us live all things in their eternity.
10. We must offer through prayer and by acts of love and kindness as deep and manifest as possible, a conscious resistance toall feelings of envy or jealousy. Sometimes these gnawings occur in the guise of melancholy “of being misunderstood”, and lead us to the point of forgetting our mission, our transcendant love of God and in God; to the point of forgetting Christ and his friends, some of whom love us unconditionally, as the Master. When such a negative feeling is felt, we must, immediately, as if we were obeying an oath, go, if possible, before the Blessed Sacrament and pray. We must not pray with only a vague purpose of being helped, but with the intention, humbly admitted before God, of being healed of this weakness which perverts the love of God, of Truth, and of every being and thing. We can feel ourselves faint with disgust of self or from the burning of these feelings which sometimes may appear insuperable. We must not fear; we must be decided in advance to go forth "to faint", so to speak, but never to accept that we cannot be healed, or that we are of an inferior constitution, incapable of rising above such a bent or such temptations. Pray with the unwavering certainty that God is there, and that grace is stronger than sin. And without understanding it, little by little, we shall enter into a kind of sacred universality which disperses doubts and restores our confidence and liberates us from the morbid fixedness of envy, doubt and jealousy. We experience ourself as a tiny being, settled forever in the certainty of the love of God and in God.
11. We must reject any consideration or criterion contrary to holy liberty. No fear, no social regards, no false dignity must determine our decisions, choices and our basic actions. We must humbly abandon ourself to God and only judge or choose as a child of God. Everything we do, every path we choose must be the outcome of such abandon and inward sincerity. And in this way every day we gain more in joy, in balance of peace.
12. We must meditate. That is the initial and perpetual action; to meditate every day, whether in immobility or in acting and doing exterior things, on two main realities: On the Cross of Christ and on the mystery of nature's greatness; on the scarlet, luminous sacrifice and on the poignant nostalgia of the signs of nature, on the mysteries of life, of things and of beings.
We must meditate without anguish, without intemperance, without disorderly elation, but also without lukewarmness, without drowsiness; we must meditate with sweet patience, full of promises of infinite love issuing from the Cross and from the Heart of Christ and narrated also by all the brilliancy, all the purity and goldenness of nature, and by all the holy silences and all the murmurs of eternal love of the heart of a man who is free in God. Never cease to meditate. But it must not be thought that meditation is an intellectual effort. On the contrary, meditation is an opening of the heart to the Truth of God and a loving availability for sacrifice for the love of God, and in God. Pure meditation is continual; it drives away the phantoms of doubt and fear; it is peaceful anticipation of the infinite and tender mercies of the Creator. Meditation in the infinite love of the Creator is peaceful expectation and inward rejoicing in God’s friendship and that of God’s friends.
This is the golden rule of love of eternity and peace of God.
I. The search for stable landmarks which are visible from afar at all times is all the more necessary and urgent as the Night is deep and the way towards Truth is strewn with obstacles which very often rise up from the abyss.
Man alone has never been able to either find or invent such landmarks which guarantee the way towards Truth. The Church of Christ within her depths involves intrinsic landmarks which continually spring from her own inimitable identity of eternal doctrine and life.
To discern the real intrinsic landmarks which guarantee the way, means to discern the real essence, the real identity and the real mission of the Church of Christ, in the face of the very confused image of the world and of things of the Church in the world.
II. These landmarks which spring from the real identity of the Church, constitute criteria in the depths of the Understanding and the Heart. These are the criteria of high objectivity with which one can perceive the most intimate and secret reality of the sacred Poem of Creation; and at the same time the nature and enormity of Evil and suffering in the world and in history can be perceived as well as the Mystery of love and suffering of the Redeemer.
And then from the midst of this stream of facts, ideas, doctrines and blood of history, norms of understanding and life rise up, placed by the Redeemer as constituent elements of his Church.
At times the search for these criteria of high and holy objectivity is considered as useless. For the image of the world and often that of the Church are such that all reference to eternal criteria is considered chimeric. But the reality of these criteria does not depend upon man's intelligence; and even the possibility of recognizing them does not depend upon the simple will of man.
III. Since the Beginning Christ's message and doctrine have been contested or falsified, and that not only by the declared enemies of the Church, but from her own interior and in her name. But the Church has always conserved, borne and will bear the Message of Christ until the end of time.
That has been and is possible because those norms of knowledge and of life, those objective and holy criteria carne forth from the Lord's Being and at the same time are implanted by Him in the Heart of the Church.
If it were not so, there would be no possibility for man to truly escape what is relative in history and from the mirage of his own intellectual constructions.
IV. It has happened that in times of recrudescence of the critical and independant spirit, the Message of Christ has become undiscernible and at times deeply altered in the midst of the vast, agitated sea of an interminable philosophical and theological discourse. It is an endless, multiform and polyvalent analytical discourse. But in the depths of the Church suffering and always fought against from within as well as from without, the landmarks, the norms of knowledge and of life, the eternal criteria of holy objectivity used to guide the way; they handed down Christ's initial doctrine and warmed the hearts and minds of men of true good will with that supernatural and inimitable warmth and delicacy of true Love.
In this century a recrudescence of the endless discourse of critical analysis and limitless polyvalence has invaded the Church with force and perseverance, so as to once again render Christ's Doctrine and Message undiscernible and also gravely falsified.
V. A sign which testifies in an incontestable way to the reality of this recrudescence is the ensemble of the texts of Vatican Council II and that manifold unrestrained theological discourse which has taken possession of the fact of the Council and of the texts of the Council and thereby the conscience of a great number of the baptized.
The texts of the Council bear witness to a great combat between light and darkness, bear witness to the holiness of the Heart of the Church and of the protection of the Holy Spirit. These texts are, as is the Body of Christ, full of wounds, holiness and eternal victory.
This unrestrained discourse, whether it links up to the past and attacks the Council, whether it preaches a perpetual renewal and refers wrongly to the Council, has wounded the Body of Christ and wounds it still more.
The fact, the texts and the visible and secret unfolding of the Council are an image of the whole mystery of the Mystical Body of Christ: perpetual battle of darkness to invade the Church, and the Heart of the Church which resists, and preserves the light which, in the middle of the night of the world, she transmits to men, to men of good will.
The Council in its ensemble is the living image of the Redeemer crucified in accordance with the will of the high priests and blind sects; the image of Christ Jesus, vanquisher of death and who left in the Heart and Blood of the Church, the deposit of eternal life, his identity, his Doctrine and his Message of hope in eternal life.
VI. It is from this living deposit that arise, either in the depths or in the heights, but always from the heart of the Church, the norms of knowledge and life established by the Lord, in which are rooted the eternal criteria that constitute, throughout the centuries, the golden Rule of the doctrine of the Church.
(Excerpt from the book "The Golden Rule of the Doctrine of the Church")
The Consecration to the Blessed Virgin
The Blessed Virgin leads us to God
The consecration to the Blessed Virgin has a very great importance in the life of human being. It is not a small devotion, it is not only a manifestation of veneration, it is a fundamental act; as the birth af man is a fundamental act, as the Eucharist is a fundamental act. It is a fundamental act to give one's will to the will of the Blessed Virgin so that She who is the Mother of God as a Being, can be the Mother of God in us... It concerns a major act and a very solitary one.
She who permitted God's coming upon the earth ontologically as a Being, is she who will permit our being to be united to the Being of Christ.
Our goal and our mission are to unite ourselves with Christ in an ontological manner; and the first being, the first living reality which surely permits this path towards fundamental union, is She who gave birth to Him as a human being.
The great secret of those who have known Christ a little bit is fidelity, the ability to remain stable, faithful,in the midst of any storm whatsoever.
Now, the Blessed Virgin is the only human refuge, purely human, who permits us to have the path guaranteed and fidelity guaranteed. There is no better protector in the mystery of the world and of the Incarnation, there is no better protector in order that our daily life, regardless of the form.of life we have, be faithful.
What is the meaning of : I CONSECRATE MYSELF?
When we consecrate ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, let us think upon the words of Christ on the Cross: "Woman, behold your son... Behold your Mother." This passage reminds us that Jesus has truly entrusted us to the ~Blessed Virgin, this was His last wish, His testament.
When the Evangelist quotes these words of Christ, he is not writing literature. Each word written has a very serious meaning.
When Christ says: "Behold your Mother," He says it for eternity, to the whole of humanity. He leaves, not on earth but in eternity, as Mother of the redemption of every man, the One who cooperated in His own Incarnation.
Each person who, in this world full of negations, revolt, pride and egoism and of every other sin, each person who recalls that he must return to God and who wants to accomplish an act in order to find again the path leading to his Origin, turns towards this Woman whom Christ left as Mother of the church, and offers himself, in order to follow Jesus Christ with her, all the way to the foot of the Cross.
To consecrate oneself to the Blessed Virgin Mary does not mean anything else than to ask her to accept us also as sons; we are such even without asking, it is true, but in expressly a~king, it means that we want to be her sons by love, and not by force and ignorance. To be her sons and her daughters means that we commit ourselves to her so that she may guide our steps in every event of our life, whatever be the path towards our fulfilment, to the North, to the South, to the right or left.
Illuminated by God, we know that man alone can never do anything perfectly, he cannot be sure that what he will choose by his own powers will be good. So, in order not to trust in our own spirit, our own sensibility which can deceive us, because we all come from the same stock of sin, we turn towards the Mother of Christ and we give ourselves totally.
Thus we are committed to the most intimate Church which is the Heart of Christ and the Heart of the Blessed Virgin.
One who consecrates himself, by the mystery of his word (even without pronouncing it exteriorly), accomplishes a major act of redemption; he returns to man's condition before the Fall.
Through the words, the one who consecrates himself accomplishes a mystery, because man's word, to the degree of his purification, returns to its Origin, the eternal Word. That is why man's word which abandons itself totally to God, within his own intimity, is powerful. And when we carry out any liturgical act or offering of ourselves, to the degree of our sincerity and to the degree of our purification, that act is almost like a material act.
When,for example, I say: "I consecrate myself," to the degree of my interior limpidity, it is as if I take "myself" as an object and I place it in the hands of the Blessed Virgin.
The Blessed Virgin's help
The Blessed Virgin is an immense reality, she is the human being who went beyond death. The Blessed Virgin is not a being who is divine and human, she is absolutely human; but by God's grace and the grace and power of Christ, Man-Cod, she has gone beyond death. That is why, at every moment, throughout the centuries, she is able to help all souls, even those who are against her.
Example: The conversion of Bruno Cornacchiola, at the Three Fountains. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him and converted him on the spot, the day on which he was writing an article against her.
The Blessed Virgin who conquered and went beyond death is the only person who can help us in any moment whatsoever, and make us participate in these vibrations of life, in these eternal beauties which the world cannot perceive.
If the whole world hates us, if all the city hates us, if the whole family hates us, if the whole universe hates us, when the Lord is with us we have grace and eternal joy in our heart. And this the Blessed Virgin guarantees us.
Do not be affected by the fact that there are many priests, baptized persons, religious, very far from the truth. There have always been, close to Christ, that is, close to the Church, traitors, weak people. But the Blessed Virgin does not help us according to the merit of these priests who are far from the truth. She helps us according to the merit of our consecration.
The consecration opens our interior eyes
When a soul consecrates himself totally to the Blessed Virgin, it may be that he will know many trials, hut he will always find with her the help and assistance of Cod.
And when the soul consecrates himself with all his heart, a miracle takes places it is as if in that person's life other eyes were opened, another hearing, another sense of touch; all the words, all the images and all physical sensations (heat, cold),all has another appearance, another influence.
Through the same images, the same faces and the same sounds, man "feels", hears, as it were, another song, another image, another dream, another hope, and a mysterious joy fills his soul. And sometimes when alone, the soul feels the need to kneel and kiss the stones and even the ground, because of gratitude to the Lord.
Do not be afraid - be offered up
In my religious, spiritual and priestly experience, I have known many cases in which souls, despite the fact that they were consecrated (religious, priests or laymen), lived with a continual, vague fear, because they were not truly offered, they had not understood that what they had received stabilized them forever in a reality of union which no longer allowed them to have other cares than that of doing the will of God only.
And only then the heart overflows, dilates, it loves, it blesses, it falls at times and rises again, it becomes impatient, it finds patience anew, but it is ever stable, as the parable of the Psalm says: "Of whom shall I be afraid when the Lord is with me?"
And how can the Lord be with us?
When we want to be with Him. As soon as we want He is with us. There is not a second of delay between the moment in which we want to be with Him and the one in which He is with us, because that is the Majesty of His eternal and perpetual miracle.
He is constantly with us. If we doubt, it is because we are not totally offered up.
... In order to be faithful, we must have totally offered our will.
The call to eternal Love
Here is the meaning of the Consecration: We give to the Blessed Virgin our entire being, and the Blessed Virgin guides us, as "She" knows how, given the fact that she knows what is the Lord's will.
Every man who has made this interior act of donation to the Blessed Virgin can be sure that sooner or later in his life, he will be pacified, consoled and elevated to the ranks of son of the Lord.
Saint Paul said to the Romans that those whom God had predestined, He also called, and those whom He called, He also justified.
In few words, that means that when we feel called to participate in eternal Love on the earth, when we are called to be a part of that army of the Blessed Virgin, we must be sure that in that same instant we are justified.
We must not think: I, I am not worthy because I have done this, and I was like that. All the past undergoes a purification.
We will surely have trials after we have been consecrated; we will have sadnesses, pains, but all of that must be accepted as being part of the mystery of glory.
We must respond: Yes, I come to You, Blessed Virgin, I want to be with Christ, whatever the life be for which you destine me, in the North, or in the South, Pope or garbage collector; that availability is the expression of our love.
The justification is the consequence of the call. When God says: "You go there," and you go there, that is already the justification; we will suffer, but we are already on the road of salvation. Otherwise the call has no value. When I speak of "call", I do not refer to the priestly or religious vocation, I speak of the call in every life. We must respond to the Lord who calls us to belong to and participate with our will in His work of Redemption.
That, my very dear ones, is how we must think this evening, how we must pray, with what limpid and tranquil souls we sinners must present ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, if we want to be with Christ. Amen.
(Excerpts from Father's homilies)
Consecration to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom,
through the Blessed Virgin Mary
(St. Louis Marie Grignion De Montfort)
O Eternal and incarnate Wisdom! 0 sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Thy Father during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine incarnation.
I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy child, nor yet Thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare not come by myself before Thy most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.
Hail, then, 0 immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men! Hail, 0 Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, 0 sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to thee.
I; (Name), a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before. In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity. Amen.