By Saint Alphonsus de Liguori
CONSIDERATION I:How the salvation of the soul is secured by entering the religious state.
To know how important is the eternal salvation of our soul, it suffices to have faith, and to consider that we have but one soul, and when that is lost, all is lost. "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?" This great maxim of the Gospel has induced many youths either to shut themselves up in cloisters, or to live in deserts, or by martyrdom to give up their lives for Jesus Christ. For, said they, what does it profit us to possess the whole world and all the goods of this world in this present life, which must soon finish, and then be damned and be miserable in that life to come, which will never end? All those rich men, all those princes and emperors who are now in hell, what have they now of all they enjoyed in this life, but a greater torment and a greater despair? Miserable beings, they lament now and say, "All those things are passed like shadows." For them all is passed like a shadow, like a dream, and that lamentation which is their lot has lasted already many years, and shall last throughout all eternity. "The fashion of this world passeth away." This world is a scene which lasts but a short time; happy he who plays on this scene that part which will afterwards make him happy in the life which will never end. When he shall then be contented, honoured, and a prince in paradise, so long as God shall be God, little will he care for having been in this world poor, despised, and in tribulation. For this end alone has God placed us on this earth, and keeps us here in life, not to acquire transitory but eternal goods: "The end is life everlasting."
This is the sole end, which all men who live in the world ought to have in view. But the misfortune is, that in the world one thinks little or nothing of everlasting life. In the midst of the darkness of this Egypt, the greatest number of men bestow all their care on acquiring honour and pleasures; and this is the reason why so many perish. "With desolation is all the land made desolate, because there is none that considereth in his heart." How few are they who reflect on death, by which for us the scene is closed; on the eternity which awaits us; on what God has done for our sake! And thence it comes that these miserable beings live in blindness and at random, far from God, having their eyes, like the bests, intent only on earthly things, without remembering God, without desiring his love and without a thought of eternity. Therefore, they die afterwards an unhappy death, which will be the beginning of an eternal death and an endless misery. Having arrived there, they will open their eyes; but it will be only to lament for their own foolishness This is the great means of salvation which is found in religion, to wit: the continual meditation on the eternal truths."Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin." In all well-regulated religious houses this is done every day, and even several times a day. And therefore in this light of divine things, which there shines continually, it is morally impossible to live, at least for a long time, far from God and without keeping one's account ready for eternity.
O my God! How have I ever deserved this great mercy, that, having left so many others to live in the midst of the world, Thou hast willed to call me who have offended Thee more than others, and deserved, more than they, to be deprived of Thy divine light, to enjoy the honour of living as a friend in Thy own house! O Lord! Grant that I may understand this exceeding grace which Thou hast bestowed on me, that I may always thank Thee for it, as I purpose and hope to do always during my life and throughout eternity, and do not permit me to be ungrateful for it. Since thou hast been so liberal towards me, and hast in Thy love preferred me to others, it is but just that more than others I should serve and love Thee. O my Jesus! Thou wouldst have me to be wholly Thine, and to Thee I give myself wholly. Accept me, and hence forward keep me as Thy own, since I am no more mine. Finish Thou the work which Thou hast begun. Thou hast called me to Thy house, because Thou wilt have me become a saint. Make me then what Thou wilt have me. Do it, O eternal Father ! For the love of Jesus Christ, in whom is all my confidence! I love Thee, my sovereign good, I love Thee. O infinite goodness! I love Thee alone, and will love Thee forever. O Mary, my hope, come to my assistance, and obtain for me to be always faithful and thankful to my Lord.
CONSIDERATION II:The happy death of the religious.
"Happy are the dead who die in the Lord." And who are those blessed dead who die in the Lord, but the religious, who at the end of their lives are found already dead to the world, having already detached themselves by their holy vows from the world and all its goods?
Consider, my brother, how content you will feel if, following your vocation, it will be your good fortune to die in the house of God. The devil will certainly represent to you that if you retire into the house of God, you may perhaps afterwards repent of having left your own house and your own country, and deprived your parents of that succour which they might have expected from you. But say to yourself: shall I, at the point of death, repent of having put my resolution in execution, or shall I be content? I beseech you, therefore, to imagine yourself now already at the point of death, about to appear before the tribunal of Jesus Christ. Reflect what then, reduced to that state, you would wish to have done. Perhaps to have contented your parents, to have worked for your own family and your country, and then to die surrounded by brothers, and nephews, and relatives, after having lived in your own house with the title of pastor, of canon, of bishop, ...and after having done your own will? Or rather, to die in the house of God, assisted by your good brethren in religion, who encourage you on the great passage to eternity, after having lived many years in religion, humbled, mortified, poor, far from parents, deprived of your own will, and under obedience, and detached from everything in the world, — all these things render death sweet and agreeable? "He who has been accustomed to deprive himself of the delights of the world," says St. Bernard, "will not regret having done so when he has to leave it." Pope Honorius II, when dying, wished that he had remained in his monastery, occupied in washing the plates, and had not been Pope. Philip II wished at his death that he had been a lay-brother in some religious order, intent on serving God, and had not been a king. Philip III, also King of Spain, said when he was dying, "Oh that I had been in a desert, there to serve God, and that I had never been a monarch! For had such been the case, I should now appear with more confidence before the tribunal of Jesus Christ."
When, then, hell tempts you about your vocation, think of the hour of death, and set before your eyes that all-important moment "upon which eternity depends." Thus you will overcome all temptations; you will be faithful to God; and certainly you will not repent of it at the point of death, but will give thanks to the Lord, and die contented. Gerard, brother of St. Bernard, died singing at the very thought of dying in the house of God. Father Suarez, of the Company of Jesus, felt at his death so great consolation and sweetness at dying in religion that he said, "I never thought it was so sweet to die."
Another good religious, of the same society, when at the point of death, laughed; and being asked why he laughed, answered: "And why should I not laugh? Has not Jesus Christ himself promised paradise to him who leaves everything for his sake? Was it not he who said, 'Every one that has left house, or brethren or father, etc., shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall possess life everlasting?' I have left all for God; God is faithful, he cannot fail to fulfill his promises; and so," he said , "why should I not rejoice and laugh, seeing myself assured of paradise?"
A certain lay-brother, who died some years ago, was asked, at his death, in which house he would rather be. He answered, "I desire nothing but to die and to be united with God."
Father Januarius Sarnelli, a short time before his death, when conversing with God, uttered the following words: "O Lord, Thou knowest that all I have done, all I have thought, has been for Thy glory; now I wish to go to see Thee face to face, if it please Thee so;" then he said, "Come, I will begin a sweet agony;" and began to converse affectionately with God, and shortly after placidly expired, preserving the smile on his lips, and the body began to give forth a sweet odour, which, as they attested, was perceived for several days in the room in which he had died.
St. Bernard, then, speaking of the happy state of religious, had good reason to exclaim: "O secure life, in which death is expected without fear, nay, sweetly desired and devoutly accepted!"
O my Lord Jesus Christ! Who, in order to obtain a happy death for me, hast chosen so bitter a death for Thyself; since Thou hast loved me to such an extent as to have chosen me to follow more closely Thy holy life, to have me thus more intimately united with Thy loving heart, bind me, I beseech Thee, wholly to Thee with the sweet cords of Thy love, that I may no more separate myself from Thee. O my beloved Redeemer! I wish to be grateful to Thee, and to correspond with Thy grace, but I fear my weakness may render me unfaithful; O my Jesus! Do not permit this. Let me die rather than abandon Thee, or forget the peculiar affection Thou hast shown me.
I love Thee, O my dear Saviour! Thou art and shalt always be the only Lord of my heart and of my soul. I leave all and choose Thee alone for my treasure, O most pure Lamb of God, O my most ardent lover! "My beloved is white and -ruddy, chosen out of thousands." Be gone, ye creatures, my only good is my God, He is my love, my all. I love Thee, O my Jesus! And in loving Thee I will spend the remainder of my life, be it short, or be it long. I embrace Thee, I press Thee to my heart, and I wish to die united with Thee. I wish nothing else. Make me live always burning with Thy love, and when I shall have arrived at the end of my life, make me to expire in an ardent cry of love towards Thee. Immaculate Virgin Mary, obtain thou this grace for me, I hope it from thee.
CONSIDERATION III:The account which he will have to render to Jesus Christ, on the Day of Judgment, who does not follow his vocation.
The grace of vocation to the religious state is not an ordinary grace; it is a very rare one, which God grants only to a few. "He hath not done so to every nation." Oh, how much greater is this grace, to be called to a perfect life and to become one of the household of God, than if one were called to be the king of any kingdom on this earth! For what comparison can there be between a temporal kingdom of this earth and the eternal kingdom of heaven?
But the greater the grace is, the greater will be the indignation of the Lord against him who has not corresponded with it, and the more rigorous will be his judgment at the day of account. If a king were to call a poor shepherd to his royal palace, to serve him among the noblemen of his court, what would not be the indignation of this king were he to refuse such a favour, through unwillingness to leave his miserable stable and his little flock? God knows well the value of his graces, and therefore he chastises with severity those who despise them. He is the Lord; when He calls, He wishes to be obeyed, and obeyed promptly. When, therefore, by His inspiration, He calls a soul to a perfect life, if it does not correspond, He deprives it of His light, and abandons it to his own darkness. Oh, how many poor souls shall we see among the reprobate on the day of judgment for this very reason, that they were called and would not correspond!
Give thanks, then, to the Lord, who has invited you to follow Him; but if you do not correspond, fear. Since God calls you to serve Him nearer to His Person, it is a sign that He wishes to save you. But He will have you to be saved in that path only which He indicates to you and has chosen for you. If you wish to save yourself on a road of your own choosing, there is great danger that you will not be saved at all; for if you remain in the world, when God wishes you to be a religious, He will not give you those efficacious helps prepared for you had you lived in His house, and without these you will not save yourself. "My sheep hear my voice." He who will not obey the voice of God shows that he is not, and will not be, one of his sheep, but in the valley of Josaphat he will be condemned with the goats.
O Lord, Thou hast shown me such an excess of bounty as to choose me from among so many others to serve Thee in Thy own house with Thy most beloved servants. I know how great is that grace, and how unworthy of it I have been. Behold, I am willing to correspond to so great a love. I will obey Thee. Since Thou hast been towards me so liberal as to call me when I did not seek Thee and when I was so ungrateful, permit it not that I should offer to Thee that greater excess of ingratitude, to embrace again my enemy, the world, in which heretofore I have so oftentimes forfeited Thy grace and my eternal salvation, and thus to forsake Thee who hast shed Thy blood and given Thy life for my sake. Since Thou hast called me, give me also the strength to correspond to the call. Already have I promised to obey Thee. I promise it again, but without the grace of perseverance I cannot be faithful to Thee. This perseverance I ask from Thee, and through Thy own merits It is that I wish it and hope to obtain it. Give me the courage to vanquish the passions of the flesh, through which the devil seeks to induce me to betray Thee. I love Thee, O my Jesus! To Thee I consecrate myself entirely. I am already Thine, I will be always Thine. O Mary, my mother and hope, thou are the mother of perseverance. This grace is only dispensed through thy hands; do thou obtain it for me. In thee do I confide.
CONSIDERATION IV:The torment which in hell will be the lot of him who is damned for having lost his vocation.
The pain of having through one's own fault lost some great good, or of having brought upon one's self voluntarily some great evil, is a pain so great that even in this life it causes an insupportable torment. But what torment will that youth, called by the singular favour of God to the religious state, feel in hell when he then perceives that if he had obeyed God he would have attained a high place in paradise, and sees himself nevertheless confined in that prison of torments, without hope of remedy for this his eternal ruin! "Their worm dieth not."
This will be that worm, which living always, will always gnaw his heart by a continual remorse. He will say then, What a fool I was! I might have become a great saint. And if I had obeyed, I would certainly have become so; and now I am damned without remedy. Miserable being! Then for his greater torment, on the day of judgment he will see and recognise at the right hand, and crowned as saints, those who have followed their vocation, and, leaving the world, have retired to the house of God, to which he also had been once called. And then will he see himself separated from the company of the blessed, and placed in the midst of that innumerable and miserable crew of the damned, for his disobedience to the voice of God.
We know well, as we have considered above, that to this most unhappy lot he exposes himself who, in order to follow his own caprice, turns a deaf ear to the call of God. Therefore, my brother, you who have already been called to become a saint in the house of God, consider that you will expose yourself to a great danger should you lose your vocation through your own fault. Consider that this very vocation which God in his sovereign bounty has given you, in order, as it were, to take you out from among the populace and place you among the chosen princes of his paradise, will, through your own fault, should you be unfaithful to it, become an especial hell for you. Make your choice then, for God leaves it in your own hands, either to be a great king in paradise or a reprobate in hell, more despairing than the rest.
No, my God, permit me not to disobey Thee and to be unfaithful. I see Thy goodness, and thank Thee for that instead of casting me away from Thy face, and banishing me into hell, as I have so often deserved, Thou callest me to become a saint, and preparest for me a high place in paradise. I see that I should deserve a double torment, should I not correspond with this grace, which is not given to all. I will obey Thee. Behold, I am Thine, and always will be Thine. I embrace with joy all the pains and discomforts of the religious life, to which Thou invitest me. And what are these pains in comparison with the eternal pains, which I have deserved? I was entirely lost through my sins; now I give myself entirely to Thee. Dispose of me and my life as Thou pleasest. Accept, O Lord! of one already condemned to hell, as I have been, to serve Thee and love Thee in this life and in the next. I will love Thee as much as I have deserved to be doomed to hate Thee in hell, O God, worthy of an infinite love! O my Jesus! Thou hast broken those chains by which the world held me bound; Thou hast delivered me from the servitude of my enemies. I will love Thee much, then, O my love! And for the love I bear Thee, I will always love Thee and obey Thee. Always will I thank Thee, O Mary, my advocate, who hast obtained this mercy for me. Help me, and suffer me not to be ungrateful to that God who has loved me so much. Obtain for me that I may die rather than be unfaithful to so great a grace. Thus I hope.
CONSIDERATION V:The immense glory which religious enjoy in Heaven.
Consider, in the first place, that which St. Bernard says, that it is difficult for religious who die in the religious state to be damned. "From the cell to heaven the way is easy; once scarcely ever descends from his cell into hell." And the reason which the saint adduces is, "because one scarcely ever preserves in it until death, unless he be predestinated." For a religious with difficulty perseveres until death, if he be not of the number of the elect of paradise. Therefore, St. Laurence Justinian called the religious state the gate of paradise. "Of that heavenly city this is the gate." And he said that "therefore the religious have a great sign of their predestination."
Consider, moreover, that the reward of heaven, as the Apostle says, is "a crown of justice;" wherefore God, though he rewards us for our works more abundantly than we deserve, rewards us nevertheless in proportion to the works we have done. "He will render to every one according to is works." From this consider how exceedingly great will be the reward which God will give in heaven to good religious, in consideration of the great merits they daily acquire.
The religious gives to God all his goods of this earth, and is content to be entirely poor, without possessing anything. The religious renounces all attachment to his parent, friends, and country in order to unite himself more closely to God. The religious continually mortifies himself in many things which he would enjoy in the world. The religious, finally, gives to God his whole self, by giving him his will through the vow of obedience.
But the dearest thing that we have is our own will, and what God, of all other things, requires of us most is our heart; that is to say, our will. "My son, give Me thy heart." He who serves God in the world will give him his possessions, but not himself; he will give him a part and not the whole, for he will give him indeed his goods by alms-deeds, his food by fasting, his blood by disciplines, etc.; but he will always reserve for himself his own will, fasting when he pleases, praying when he likes. But the religious, giving him his own will, gives himself and gives all, gives not only the fruits of the tree, but the whole tree itself. Whence he may then truly say to him, O Lord! having given Thee my will, I have nothing more to give to Thee.
And, therefore, in all that he does through obedience, he is sure to do the will of God perfectly, and merits by all: not only when he prays, when he hears confessions, when he preaches, or fasts, or practices other mortifications, but also when he takes his food, when he sweeps his room, when he makes his bed, when he takes his rest, when he recreates himself; for, doing all this through obedience, in all he does the will of God.
Mary Magdalene de Pazzi said that all that is done through obedience is a prayer. Hence, St. Anselm, speaking of those who love obedience, asserted that all religious do is meritorious for them. St. Aloysius Gonzaga said that in religion one sails, as it were, in a vessel, in which he even advances who does not row.
Oh, how much more will a religious gain in one month by observing his Rule than a secular, with all his penance and prayers, in a year! Of that disciple of Dorotheus called Dositheus, it was revealed that for the five years he had lived under obedience, there was given to him in heaven the glory of St. Paul the Hermit and of St. Anthony the Abbot, both of whom had, for so many years, live in the desert. Religious, it is true, have to suffer the inconveniences of regular observance: "Going, they went and wept" But when are they called to the other life, they will go to heaven, but "coming, they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves." Whence they shall then sing, "The lines are fallen unto me in goodly places, for my inheritance is goodly to me." These bonds which have bound me to the Lord have become for me exceedingly precious, and the glory they have acquired for me is exceedingly great.
Is it possible, O my God, and my true lover! that Thou desirest so much my good, and to be loved by me, and that I, miserable that I am, desire so little to love and to please Thee? For what end hast Thou favoured me with so many graces, and taken me out of the world? O my Jesus! I understand Thee. Thou lovest me much, Thou wilt have me love Thee much also, and be all Thine, in this life and in the next. Thou wishest that my love should not be divided with creatures, but wilt have it be wholly for Thyself, the only good, the only lovely One, and worthy of infinite love. Ah! My Lord, my treasure, my love, my all, yet I pant and truly desire to love Thee, and to love no other but Thee. I thank Thee for this desire Thou hast given me; preserve it in me, always increase it in me, and grant that I may please Thee, and love Thee on this earth as Thou desirest, so that I may come hereafter to love Thee face to face, with all my strength in paradise. Behold, this is all that I ask from Thee. Thee will I love, O my God! I will love Thee, and for Thy love I offer myself to suffer every pain. I will become a saint, not that I may enjoy great delight in heaven, but to please Thee much, O my beloved Lord! and to love Thee much forever. Graciously hear me, O eternal Father! for the love of Jesus Christ.
CONSIDERATION VI:The interior peace that God gives good religious to enjoy.
The promises of God cannot fail. God has said, "Every one that has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, . . . or lands for My Name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting." That is, the hundredfold on this earth, and life everlasting in heaven.
The peace of the soul is a good which is of greater value than all the kingdoms of the world. And what avails it to have the dominions of the whole world without interior peace? Better is it to be the poorest villager, and to be content than to be the lord of the whole world, and to live a discontented life. But who can give this peace? The unquiet world? Oh no, peace is a good that is obtained only from God. "O God!" prays the Church, "give to Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give." Therefore, He is called the God of all consolation. But if God be the sole giver of peace; to whom shall we suppose will He give that peace but to those who leave all, and detach themselves entirely to their Creator? And therefore is it seen that good religious shut up in their cells, though mortified, despised, and poor, live a more contented life than the great ones of the world, with all the riches, the pomps, and diversions they enjoy.
St. Scholastica said that if men knew the peace that good religious enjoy, the whole world would become a monastery; and St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi said that all, if they knew it, would scale the walls of the monasteries in order to get into them. The human heart having been created for an infinite good, all creatures cannot content it, they being finite, imperfect, and few; God alone, who is an infinite good, can render it content. "Delight in the Lord and He will give thee the request of thy heart." Oh no; a good religious united with God envies none of the princes of the world who possess kingdoms, riches, and honours. "Let the rich," he will say with St. Paulinus, "have their riches, the kings have their kingdoms, to me Christ is my kingdom and my glory." He will see those of the world foolishly glory in their displays and vanities; but he, seeking always to detach himself more from earthly things, always to unite himself more closely to his God, will live contented in this life, and will say, "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will call upon the name of the Lord, our God."
St. Teresa said that one drop of heavenly consolation is of greater value than all the pleasures of the world. Father Charles of Lorraine, having become a religious, said that God, by one moment of happiness that He gave him to feel in religion, superabundantly paid him for all he had left for God. Hence his joyfulness was sometimes so great that, when alone in his cell, he could not help beginning to leap. The Blessed Seraphino of Ascoli, a Capuchin lay-brother, said that he would not exchange a foot length of his cord for all the kingdoms of the world.
Oh, what contentment does he find who having left all for God, is able to say with St. Francis, "My God and my all!" and with that to see himself freed from the servitude of the world, from the thraldom of worldly fashion, and from all earthly affections. This is the liberty that is enjoyed by the children of God, such as good religious are. It is true that in the beginning, the deprivation of the conversations and pastimes of the world, the observances of the Community, and the rules, seem to be thorns; but these thorns, as our Lord said to St. Bridget, will all become flowers and delights to him who courageously bears their first sting, and he will taste on this earth that peace which, as St. Paul says, surpasseth all the gratifications of the senses, and all the enjoyments of feasts, of banquets, and of the pleasures of the world: "The peace of God which surpasseth all understanding." And what greater peace can there be than to know that one pleases God?
O My Lord and my God, my all! I know that Thou alone canst make me contented in this and in the next life. But I will not love Thee for my own contentment, I will love Thee only to content Thy heart. I wish this to be my peace, my only satisfaction during my whole life, to unite my will to Thy Holy Will, even should I have to suffer every pain in order to do this. Thou art my God, I am Thy creature. And what can I hope for greater than to please Thee, my Lord, my God, who hast been so partial in Thy love towards me? Thou, O my Jesus! Hast left heaven to live for the love of me to lead a poor and mortified life. I leave all to live only for the love of Thee, my most blessed Redeemer. I love Thee with my whole heart; if only Thou wilt give me the grace to love Thee, treat me as Thou pleasest.
O Mary, Mother of my God! Protect me and render me like to thee, not in thy glory, which I do not deserve, as thou dost, but in pleasing God, and obeying His Holy Will, as thou didst.
CONSIDERATION VII:How dear to God is a soul that gives itself entirely to Him.
God loves all those who love him: "I love them that love Me." Many, however, give themselves to God, but preserve still in their hearts some attachment to creatures, which prevents them from belonging entirely to God. How, then, shall God give himself entirely to that one who, besides his God, loves creatures still? It is just that He should act with reserve towards those who act with reserve towards Him. On the contrary, He gives himself entirely to those souls, who, driving from their hearts everything that is not God, and does not lead them to His love, and giving themselves to Him without reserve, truly say to Him, "My God and my all." St. Teresa, as long as she entertained an inordinate affection, though not an impure one, could not hear from Jesus Christ what afterwards she heard, when, freeing herself from every attachment, she gave herself entirely to the divine love; namely, the Lord saying to her, "Now, because thou art all mine, I am all thine."
Consider that the Son of God has already given Himself entirely to us: "A child is born to us, and a son is given to us."He has given Himself to us through the love He bears to us. "He hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself for us." It is then just, says St. John Chrysostom, that when a God has given Himself to you, without reserve, — "He has given thee all, nothing has He left to Himself," — you also should give yourself to God, without reserve; and that always henceforth, burning with divine love, you should sing to him:
St. Teresa revealed to one of her nuns, appearing to her after her death, that God loves a soul that, as a spouse, gives itself entirely to Him, more than a thousand tepid and imperfect ones. From these generous souls, given entirely to God, is the choir of Seraphim completed. The Lord Himself says that He loves a soul that attends to its perfection, so much that He seems not to love any other. "One is my dove, my perfect one is but one." Hence Blessed Giles exhorts us, "One for one," by which he wishes to say that this one soul we have we ought to give wholly, not divided, to that One who alone deserves all love, on whom depends all our good, and who loves us more than all. "Leave all and you shall find all," says Thomas à Kempis. Leave all for God, and in God you will find all.
"O soul!" concludes St. Bernard, "be alone, that you may keep yourself for him alone." Keep yourself alone, give no part of your affections to creatures, that you may belong alone to Him who alone deserves an infinite love, and whom alone you ought to love.
"My beloved to me and I to him." As then, O my God! Thou hast given Thyself entirely to me, I should be too ungrateful if I should not give myself entirely to Thee; since Thou wouldst have me belong wholly to Thee, behold, O my Lord! I give myself entirely to Thee. Accept me. Through Thy mercy, disdain me not. Grant that this my heart, which once loved creatures may turn now wholly to Thy infinite goodness. "Let me henceforth die," said St. Teresa, "let another than myself live in me. Let God live in me, and give me life. Let Him reign, and let me be His slave, for my soul wishes no other liberty." This my heart is too small, O God most worthy of love, and it is too little able to love Thee, who art deserving of an infinite love. I should then commit against Thee too great an injustice, should I still divide it by loving anything besides Thee. I love Thee, my God, above everything. I love only Thee; I renounce all creatures, and give myself entirely to Thee, my Jesus, my Saviour, my love, my all. I say, and always will say, "What have I in heaven, and besides Thee, what do I desire on earth?. . .Thou art the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion forever." I desire nothing, either in this life or in the next, but to possess the treasure of Thy love. I am unwilling that creatures should have any more a place in my heart; Thou alone must be its master. To Thee only shall it belong for the future. Thou only shalt be me God, my repose, my desire, all my love. "Give me only Thy love and Thy grace, and I am rich enough." O most holy Virgin Mary! Obtain for me this, that I may be faithful to God, and never recall the donation which I have made of myself to him.