Rorate Caeli

Advent: time of faithfulness.
Faithfulness: proof of love

In order not to run the risk of being illusory, love must be transformed into works and generously command all the activity of the soul. 

Recalling the words of Jesus: If you love me, observe my commandments” (Jn. 14:15). Dom Marmion affirms that “Faithfulness is the only touchstone of true love.”

In a letter written to a religious woman, Dom Columba makes a very correct comment about the Augustinian saying: Ama et fac quod vis” (love and do what you will):

“It is very true” he writes, “because sincere love makes us renounce ourselves in order to give ourselves wholly to Jesus. The interests of Jesus become our own, and as soon as we know that something could give Him pleasure, true love does not ask itself if the thing requested is to His liking or not, one’s only thought is ‘Can this give pleasure to Him - the object of my love?’ You will experience that this sincere love, with its simplicity, is enough to resolve every difficulty, because these derive from our self-love. I say you will have no more difficulties; I do not say that you will no longer have either crosses or trials, but when one has true love, ipse labor amatur, one loves the trials and they cease to be difficulties, since nothing is difficult for love.”

Therefore, love is only shown by generous faithfulness to the wishes of God:

“Try,” he writes to a young girl, “to prove your love for Jesus by faithfulness. True love consists in doing the Will of Him that we love, and the Will of Jesus is that you imitate Him, Who, at every moment could say: ‘I always do that which pleases my Father.’ And with regard to the same girl: “Strive to show your gratitude to Jesus Christ by great faithfulness in all things. My dear daughter, it is necessary to remember (and never forget) that true piety does not consist in reciting lengthy prayers, but above all in showing our love to Jesus and fulfilling His holy Will with care and faithfulness.”

The faithfulness that Dom Marmion wants is total, absolute even in the smallest things, because also in these, the Will of God is comprised:

“You must not become discouraged, he writes to a religious, nor believe you are going backwards; but certainly you are not making the progress which I would like you to. I would like you to be wholly of the good God, because in you there is the potential to love Him very much. You must be afraid of the smallest infidelity – willed – towards Our Lord, and exercise yourself to be faithful to Him also in the very small things. Make your particular examination of conscience on this point.”
To another he writes:

“Be faithful in the little things, not due to scrupulosity, but out of love. Do it to show Our Lord your love of a spouse towards Him.”
When he happens to pause upon the details of the religious life, he demands this fidelity, with much insistence, because he perceives it to be more decisive and fruitful direction for the soul:

“Regularity and faithfulness to the hour of rising is of the utmost importance.”

And with a precise formula he reveals the reason: 

“We are speaking of giving the first moments of the day to the Lord or to His enemy, and the whole day will bear the imprint of this choice.”

Constant faithfulness and, at the same time, generous:

“I hope that you will be very faithful to Our Lord, also in the midst of that obscurity through which He often wants to lead you: ‘Nam et si ambulavero in medio umbrae moris, non timebo mala; quonium Tu mecum es.’ I pray every day for you and hope that you will remain full of courage, notwithstanding the aridity of your ordinary life.”

We should not be surprised, therefore, by the profound aversion Bl. Marmion felt for tepidity; this rust of the heart which slowly destroys love.  He used to say, in fact, that he could not conceive in what way a person who has just received Jesus in Holy Communion and to whom Jesus has given everything, even His Most Precious Blood, could say: I know that this would please Our Lord, but I will not do it.

"A creature who lives with this disposition – he writes – will never be other than a tepid monk or nun, of which God has said: “I would like you to be hot or cold; but since you are tepid, I will vomit you out of my mouth.”

From De Vita Contemplativa - Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, Italy [Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]

1 comment:

  1. You must not become discouraged, he writes to a religious, nor believe you are going backwards..

    This is interesting to learn because, as an extremist, I have always thought that in the Spiritual LIfe one was either purifying or putrefying whereas the famous Abbot seems to hold that one can be on, as it were, a Spiritual Plateau; it would be interesting to read more about what he has to teach about how long it is one remains on a Spiritual plateau before one begins to purify or putrefy.

    Thanks N.C. and Rorate; rarely does a day go by that I am not educated by reading the best Catholic Site on the Web.


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