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Header VOJ 11

A vague desire is not enough: It
is requisite, My Child, that the resolution
be really sincere, settled, and efficacious.

Photo of Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue


1. The voice of the Disciple.

Numberless, O Lord, are the things which urge me on to free myself entirely from faults. Heaven holds out promises, hell threatens, earth can at any moment hurl me into eternity.

My heart, also, full of Thy gifts, impelled by its own wretchedness as well, and drawn by the infinite goodness of Thy Heart, never ceases to incite me.

But, how shall I perform so great an undertaking? For, although I see that I ought to do it, yet, I know not how to accomplish it.

Do Thou, I beseech Thee, good Jesus, teach me the manner of truly amending and reforming myself. All the glory, thence arising, shall belong to Thee, and to Thy most loving Heart.

 

2. The voice of Jesus. My Child, if thou wishest to cleanse thy heart, and to root out everything vicious, begin the work with a great courage and a generous mind.

Have the good and determined will of correcting thyself, and of never ceasing to strive after a complete cleansing; at the same time, cherish a sincere desire of co-operating with the divine grace, and of following its guidance: and thus thy endeavors shall, at last, be crowned with success.

This is the first and chief means on thy part: from it all the rest derives its strength and efficacy, and without it, however powerful it may be, of itself, everything else can hardly effect any good.

This strong determination of ever striving, with God’s grace, to cleanse the heart, and to preserve it unsullied, is the first hope of future purity of heart, the first sign of future perfection, the first token whereby future Saints are distinguished, yea, the first characteristic mark of the true Disciples of My Heart.

 

3. Being made ready for the work, by this disposition of thy soul, take fire, and enkindle thy heart therewith, that thou mayst consume the sins and defects which exist therein.

Understand, Child, what I say. Thou hast to clear a garden, all bristling with noxious plants and weeds, and disfigured with filthy objects; thou shalt succeed, however, if thou usest the proper means, if thou cuttest away all things hurtful, if thou tearest up and carriest out everything useless; but thou shalt not finish thy work, except after a long time, and with hard labor.

But, by applying the fire, without trouble and in a short time, thou shalt see the whole garden cleaned.

Nay, more; by this burning, the garden itself shall become richer, and better suited to produce flowers and fruits.

In like manner, Child, thou wilt cleanse thy heart, which may be likened to this garden, much more readily, and more easily, by using the fire of divine love, rather than by any other means.

Thereby also thou shalt find thy heart better adapted to produce the flowers of virtue, and the fruits of sanctity.

 

4. Now, this fire thou mayst obtain from My Heart, if thou drawest near to It, through prayer; if thou prayest, not with the lips alone, but also with thy mind and heart.

For, if thou weighest properly in thy mind the sufferings of hell, or of purgatory, which thou hast so often deserved: if thou considerest attentively My divine favors bestowed upon thee, and all thy ungratefulness:

If thou meditatest carefully on My infinite perfections so worthy of all love and honor, and on thy offenses, so deserving of punishment:

If, moreover, thou viewest Me, exhausted with toils, through love for thee, and suffering so many things, for thy transgressions,- -hanging on the Cross, with arms extended, and with My Bosom opened for thee:

If, in fine, thou enterest into My Heart Itself, and considerest, to what degree that innocent Heart did suffer for thy sins, and how, for them, it was spent and consumed:

If, at the same time, through loving desires, and fervent petitions, thou appliest, as it were, thy heart to Mine: --

Then, doubtless, in prayer, shall blaze out that fire, that heat of divine love, of which I am speaking.

 

5. From this love do thou draw forth contrition, that is, sorrow for sin committed, and a resolve of not sinning again in future.

No one, My Child, obtains the pardon of his sins, unless he bewail them; nor is any one healed of his vices, unless he hate them.

Wherefore, as much as thou art able, do thou hate and detest, in thy heart, thy sins and vices; which thou canst not hate nor detest too much.

The more thou shalt draw this sorrow from the divine love, the more perfect shall thy contrition be, even if thou do not actually feel the same.

And the more sincerely thou shalt bewail and detest thy sins, with an upright heart, the more certain shalt thou be of the pardon of thy offenses, and the more secure against committing new ones.

 

6. Thou hast a sure mark of sorrow for the sins of the past, if thou abstainest from committing new ones.

Therefore, have thou, and preserve always, a firm resolve of shunning whatever thou knowest to be displeasing to Me; and of suffering rather all the evils of this life, than to commit a voluntary sin.

But, take heed, lest thou deceive thyself, by imagining, that any kind of resolve will be sufficient. For a vague desire is not enough: a resolution made through custom, or for form’s sake, is not enough: neither does an ineffectual purpose suffice, when one appears to will and not to will; when, as he fancies, he is willing to sin no more, and yet, he is unwilling effectually to use the means necessary to avoid sin.

It is requisite, My Child, that the resolution be really sincere, settled, and efficacious, that by it thou mayst be induced to employ the means, which may hinder thee from again committing sin.

Now, to keep this resolution ever alive within thee, renew it often, pray frequently, nourish thy devotion by spiritual exercises: and thus obtain for thyself that special grace, whereby thou mayst the more easily become constant and persevering.

 

7. The voice of the Disciple. My heart, Lord, is truly like an abandoned field, wherein many noxious weeds spring up and many useful plants lie spoiled.

It is a great work, to clear the heart of all these, and, of myself, I can do nothing profitable.

But do Thou help me, I beseech Thee, with Thy efficient and powerful grace, that I may be able to finish happily so great an undertaking.

For I desire eagerly to complete, according to Thy direction, a work so necessary, so useful, so holy; and am resolved not to leave it off, before I have finished it in reality.

Do not suffer, most kind Jesus, that I ever grow slothful or careless, in so important an enterprise. For, I confess, that I am prone to grow weak in courage, and that I am wont, even after I have begun with zeal, by degrees to fall into lukewarmness.

But do Thou arouse, encourage, and stir me up strongly, nor allow me to cease from my labor, until I bring the work to its wished-for completion.

 


“Voice of Jesus” is taken from Arnoudt’s “Imitation of the Sacred Heart”, translated from the Latin of J.M. Fastre; Benziger Bros. Copyright 1866

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 23, 2020

The purer are your words and your glances, the more pleasing...

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November 23

 

The purer are your words and your
glances,
the more pleasing will you be to the
Blessed Virgin. And
the greater will be the
graces that she will obtain for you
from her Divine Son.


St. John Bosco


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Columban

He struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself...

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St. Columban

Columban was born about the year 543 in County Meath, in the Irish province of Leinster, to respectable parents. He was well-educated in grammar, rhetoric, geometry, and the Holy Scriptures. The young Columban resolved early to embrace monastic asceticism and dedicate himself to a strict and disciplined life, abstaining from many of the pleasures of the world. However, he struggled with purity, and desperate to dedicate himself wholly to God, asked the advice of a religious woman who had lived as a hermit for many years.

His mother tried her utmost to deter him from the course of action proposed by the saintly hermit, but Columban took the holy woman’s advice and left Leinster to become a cloistered monk at the monastery of Bangor in County Down. He remained there a number of years before gaining permission from his superior, St. Congall, to evangelize in foreign lands. With twelve companions he traveled to Gaul and set about preaching and teaching the Gospel.

In 590, news of these monks reached Guntramnus, the King of Burgundy, who was so inspired by the holy men that he gave the Irish monk and his companions the ancient Roman castle of Annegray, in the region’s Vosges Mountains, in which to establish a monastery. Within a few years, the increasing number of followers obliged Columban to expand and, with the help of one of the King’s ministers, he obtained from the King another ancient Roman fortification named Luxeuil, on the site of some ancient Roman baths. A third monastery soon followed to house the growing number of disciples. The monks followed a harsh discipline similar to the unusual characteristics of Celtic Christianity: they carried out penances for every transgression, no matter how small, fasted, performed bodily mortifications and prayed at length.

Twenty years after his first monastic foundation, Columban and his fellow Irishmen were expelled from the country. Brunhilda, the wicked and corrupt queen regent, disliked the holy man for his reproach of the immoral ways of her court and ultimately exiled him in 610.

Columban and his monks traveled to Italy where they were welcomed by Agilulf, King of the Lombards. Agilulf gave the monks a dilapidated church at Bobbio to reestablish themselves. Columban himself did much of the repairs in spite of his seventy years of age.

He died at Bobbio in 615 having spent the last few years of his life praying and preparing for death. His followers established monasteries all over Europe.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared stan...

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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