The Imitation of The Sacred Heart of Jesus
What is the splendor of the stars? What is the beauty of all creatures, when placed in comparison with the excellence of a soul adorned with divine grace, and thus assimilated to God Himself?
1. The Voice of Jesus
My Child, do not disregard grace, but carefully preserve so sacred a deposit, which has been entrusted to thee.
For this is thy treasure, this thy glory, this thy happiness, this thy every good. This informs thee, the image of God, and renders thee alike to Him.
Know, then, thy dignity, man, who, by sanctifying grace, art raised even to the likeness of God, and becomest more exalted than the whole world, so that naught of earth can be compared to thee.
What is the splendor of the stars? What the beauty of all creatures, when placed in comparison with the excellence of a soul adorned with divine grace, and thus assimilated to God Himself?
Lift up thyself, therefore, and, mindful of thy dignity, do not defile nor debase thyself.
2. Adopted sons of God
God adopts thee, resplendent with this grace not simply as His child, but as the child of His love and predilection.
Thus, what I possess by nature, thou receivest by adoption; so that thou art not only called, but art in very truth, a child of God.
Understand, if thou art able, what it is, to be a child of God: what it is, to be loved and cherished by such a Father.
In the world, children esteem themselves happy, and glory in having parents who are wise, good, influential, or wealthy, great, illustrious. But what are the distinctions of all the parents of this earth, when compared with the Attributes of God?
With how much more reason, therefore, shouldst thou glory and rejoice in having for thy Father, God Himself, the Lord of heaven and earth!
Ponder, then, with a true judgment the excellence of this divine adoption. For, when formerly thou wast a castaway, reduced to the lowest depth of degradation, thou becamest, by sanctifying grace, from bond, free; from one disowned, the acknowledged child of God; that, thus ennobled, thou mayst rejoice in the affluence of the good things of the Lord.
Blessed is he who knows the price of sanctifying grace, whereby he was raised to be a child of God; and who so esteems this, the highest nobility, that, on no account, he shows himself degenerate, but ever continues a child worthy of such a Father!
3. Right to Heaven
If, by grace, thou art a child, by the same thou art also made an heir, even the heir of God, and co-heir with Me. Wherefore, My Child, the everlasting kingdom, which is Mine by right of nature, becomes thine in virtue of sanctifying grace.
When thou lookest up to heaven, and viewest, in spirit, the glory, the beatitude, and all the good things of eternity, say to thyself: Behold my possessions, behold my inheritance, if I preserve the title of grace.
My merits obtained that this grace should confer upon thee a settled right to the possessions of heaven; of which none, except thyself, can deprive thee.
God's promise remains firm; He is faithful to His word: but, if thou losest sanctifying grace, thou throwest aside thy right, and becomest disinherited.
4. Grace which makes thee heirs of the Heavenly Kingdom
Grace, My Child, which constitutes thee an heir of the heavenly kingdom, makes thee also a companion of the Angels, a brother of the Saints.
If thou art glad when thou enjoyest the intercourse of distinguished companions, mortal men though they be, and subject to change; if thou art delighted at having brothers according to the flesh, although their number divides and lessens thy earthly inheritance: how great must be thy joy that, by grace, thou hast the blessed Angels for companions, the chosen Saints of God for brothers, whose countless number neither divides nor lessens thy celestial inheritance, but, on the contrary, increases and multiplies the same!
And what brothers, too, My child! How innumerable, how illustrious, how mighty, how good! They are thy elder brothers: celebrated for their triumphs, crowned with the glory of beatitude, secure of themselves, solicitous for thee; they love thee in truth, encourage thee by their example, help thee by their prayers, invite thee by their rewards.
Blissful grace, which makes thee the brother of such heroes! Oh, My Child, would that thou didst fully understand this!
5. Sanctifying graces is the foundation of interior peace
Moreover, by an effect of sanctifying grace, thou mayst, even in this life, enjoy true happiness. This grace is the foundation of interior peace: without it, there is no real peace: with it, an undisturbed calm pervades the soul.
Who, that resists sanctifying grace, has ever enjoyed peace? And what happiness can there exist, where there is no peace?
If thou rejoicest in the peace of grace, thou mayst justly and safely be glad amid prosperity, and thou canst easily and usefully find solace in adversity.
Preserve thyself in grace, and thou shalt always be enabled to possess peace and happiness. Witness all the Saints: yea, also they who, when once converted, kept carefully within themselves the grace of God. When they had this, and compared their present feelings with those of their former life, taught by experience, they could say to Me: Better is one day in Thy courts, Lord, than thousands in the dwellings of sinners.
6. My Kingdom....
Nay more, My Child, if thou livest in sanctifying grace, My kingdom is within thee; so that I repose and reign in thy heart as on My throne.
Now, My kingdom consists in the tranquility and joy of the Holy Ghost, who is a Spirit of charity and sanctification.
In this kingdom I hold sway, not as a Lord ruling My subjects, but as a Father training My Child, whom I design to reign with Me. So long, therefore, as thou continuest under this rule of grace, I guide thee specially by My Wisdom, I protect thee by My power, I attend and encompass thee by My love.
Neither hast thou aught to fear, My Child, for this kingdom so governed, so protected, so cherished; unless, indeed, thyself becomest its betrayer.
If thou art faithful, it shall, doubtless, stand firm and endure for evermore: nor can all its enemies combined overthrow, or even weaken the same.
How sweet, how consoling is this thought, My Child! How well suited to make thee esteem sanctifying grace above everything!
7. The value of grace
See now, My Child, how many, and what great possessions thou hast in this one good alone!
Does not this one good surpass, in excellence, all the riches of this world?
Pray, Child, that thou mayst ever understand better, and more perfectly the value of grace, and prize it in reality as highly as thou shouldst do.
If thou dost understand and appreciate it rightly, thou wilt deem it little, or certainly not too much, to sacrifice for its preservation not only fortune, fame, and all that is dear and pleasing, but even health, and, if it were necessary, life itself.
Did not My holy Martyrs, and all My sainted heroes, among whom thou beholdest so many children and tender Virgins, prize it thus? Did not thousands among them, when it was left to their choice, prefer to sacrifice, amid torments, all the blessings of life, yea, life itself, rather than lose the same, for any possession, however great, that was offered?
Thou, therefore, the child of such heroes, use thy every effort, constant watchfulness, and thy greatest care, to preserve grace, the most precious of all gifts; the more so, as the most powerful exertions of thy enemies are directed to despoil thee, and thus to accomplish thy destruction.
For the rest, dearly beloved, be thou strengthened in grace: increase in the same, and, by acts of true virtue, advance thou, even unto perfection.
Didst thou understand all these things, My Child?
8. The Voice of the Disciple
Yea, Lord. Would that I had understood all this before! Would I not then, after I had lost Thy grace, have wept and moaned more dolefully than Esau, when he had forfeited his birthright? For greater, beyond comparison, was my loss, and sustained too, for a far baser object.
Oh! Had I understood all this, would I, for aught here below, have cast away so great a treasure?
Lord Jesus, would that I had never lost this greatest of all possessions! One thing, however, brings me solace, it is not yet too late; I may still enjoy the privileges of Thy grace, and thereby sanctify myself.
Thanks to Thee, most sweet Jesus, for that Thou hast showed so great a mercy to me, so unworthy.
The ineffable kindness of Thy Heart, I will not forget forever.
O Jesus! Hereafter, grant me sooner to die than to lose Thy grace. By Thy most Sacred Heart, I beg and entreat Thee, hearken graciously to my petition.
Let others seek after silver and gold, honor and distinction, the joys of this world and its consolations: taught by Thee, Lord, this alone do I desire above all else, to preserve Thy grace, and to increase therein all the days of my life.
"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