J M J
FERVOR IN THE SERVICE OF GOD
I behave entirely differently from the Saints of God. The more they understood God, the more they served him, the greater love thy showed him, the more fervent and accurate they were in everything which referred to his glory. The lack of knowledge about God, after all, is the only reason for a lack of love and a lack of enthusiasm in his service.
What will excuse me before you, O Lord? What will justify my present behavior? I am so ashamed when I compare my present coldness towards you with my past fervor! Formerly, I had so many obstacles, now I have no many opportunities. Formerly, everything drew me away from you, now everything that surrounds me ought to excite me to fervor. Formerly, I was a servant, now I bear the title of Spouse. I say title, because truly I cannot call myself that since do I have right to it, if the way I serve you now, is worse than it was formerly when I was a servant? Reflecting on my behavior, I have concluded that I should call myself rather a slave; slaves serve their masters better since fear incites them to fulfill their duties responsibly. I am not affected by such stirrings because I do not fear God at all, neither am I able to awaken it within myself. I am terrified when I think of the moment when my soul will face God.
I can really apply the following words to myself: How I wish you were one or the other – hot or cold! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth. It will not surprise me, O Lord, if I am not pleasing to you, or if you loathe me since I am not even pleasing to myself, neither can I endure myself. Sometimes I complain that, as far as I am concerned, your words about your yoke being sweet and your burden light, are not true. Your yoke for me is bitter and your burden crushes me more and more. Despite the fact that I voluntarily committed myself to your service and that hopefully I will persevere in it to the end, (because you will not allow me to forsake you) you could possibly allow me to fall as Saint Peter did. However, if I vowed to you, I do not count on my own strength, not even on my love, but I completely rely on our help.
I have put my trust in you, O Lord, therefore, I will not be put to shame!
Fervor makes everything pleasant and light, but I do not feel the sweetness of your yoke, perhaps because I am not carrying it as I ought; I dispense myself more and more and instead of finding relief, I am adding to my burden. I do not have to look far for an example because I am experiencing it on myself. The more fervently I turned to God, the more peace and joy I felt; the more I felt God’s presence. The more I prayed and mortified myself, the more I felt drawn to prayer; everything seemed easier. What has happened to me? What has happened to that first fervor, that faithfulness in God’s service? I could probably justify myself by saying that formerly it was easy to be fervent when the grace of God, joy and consolations surrounded me and were a motive and encouragement to do good; however, it is difficult to do anything when God removes his grace and when he deprives one of his presence.
Oh, how terrible is the loss of the presence of God! Our Lady who was deprived of the presence of Jesus for only three days suffered so much and searched for him with so much longing. Oh, Lord, I too search for your everywhere but I cannot find you even for one second; I do not even recognize you when you come to my heart in Holy Communion. I do not ask you Lord for any consolations. I am even ready to give up feeling your presence throughout a whole day; however, please do not deprive me of it at the moment when you come into my heart during Holy Communion. That is my only and constant prayer which I place before you.
It is true, O Lord, that in all of my spiritual exercises there is much laziness, unfaithfulness and lack of fervor, but when I prepare for Holy Communion, Lord, you know that I try my best to arouse some kind of affection. I would want to gather all of the books which treat of this mystery; I read the prayers and I cannot put my finger on even one which would arouse some kind of feeling. That a book does not make an impression on me does not surprise me, but that your presence, your heart next to mine does not excite me, does not kindle at least a spark of feeling in it, even if not of love, is for me something which I cannot understand. It is leading me to despair and exhaustion.
I know that yo u come to me as a sacrifice; I have decided therefore to come to you in that same manner. Since I cannot give you love, I offer you, as a preparation toward receiving you, my suffering because I do not feel the former in my heart. Lord, you ought to reward me and relieve my pain when you come to my heart but instead, there is such an emptiness there as if you were not there at all.
Tell me, O Lord, what I should do? On what road will I meet you and see you? I will go there and I will do everything you will demand of me.
Yesterday, during benediction, I think it was during the procession, I could not help thinking of Zaccheus. He climbed into a tree to see you pass by, and you, uninvited, told him to prepare his home for your visit. You went there and he was converted. I thought about that and I complained to you, Lord, that Zaccheus did not even invite you and yet you went to his home, whereas, I keep earnestly begging you to do so and you seem to be rejecting that petition, because even though you come to my heart each day, you do not leave the same results as you did in the home of Zaccheus; I constantly remain in the same disposition – a spiritual sloth and coldness.
Later on when I reflected on this again, I felt, O Lord, that I was unjust in my complaints on you because it is entirely my fault since you treated me just as you treated Zaccheus. Even though I did not hear the exact words from your lips, nor saw you in person, yet you did more, because you drew me to yourself in Holy Communion with the mere sight of the host and told me to prepare my heart to receive you. When you entered my heart you took me to yourself because that visit was the beginning of my conversion.
Oh, why did I not remain on the road of fervor; why did I falter? I complain to you about those few prayers before Holy Communion and now I want to repay you with your presence as if that short space of time was enough preparation to receive you, and as if the spiritual exercises and duties were not supposed to be carried out in that spirit. And, look how they are carried out – with what sloth; how easily they are omitted, not only for good reasons but for no reason at all; from laziness, whims, capriciousness and even scandal to others.
Oh, Lord, enough of this coldness; I am tired of it. Take me out of it, Lord, because it is difficult for me to remain in it. You must help me because I cannot do it myself since this vice has become sort of a second nature to me. If you want to keep me, O Lord, in this state of abandonment and aridity; if I cannot praise you with the affections of my heart, then allow me to praise you with faith and with a fervent carrying out of my spiritual exercises. Do not allow me to be bothered at all about my interior disposition, even if I perform everything not only with the least affection but with disgust. Let me, despite that , not omit anything without a good reason; let me have the same perseverance. I know that my duties do not allow me to spend much time at my spiritual exercises, but when I will be forced to omit them, let me suffer because of this and take advantage of every minute to make up for what I had missed.
I know, O Lord, that I am not able to carry out such resolutions; I am even afraid that perhaps nothing will come of them, but you, O Lord, have mercy on me and force me to do what I ought to do. Give me a simplicity of disposition towards my spiritual director. Perhaps a constant openness even in small matters, will enable me to remain in control of myself and force me to attend the spiritual exercises.
When I tried to concentrate on what exactly led me to such a coldness and spiritual sloth, and when did it all begin, the following words came to my mind: The whole world is devastated with desolation because there is no one who would meditate in his heart. I feel that this admonition absolutely pertains to me because my spiritual downfall really began when I completely neglected meditation and for that reason it is difficult for me to make it now, because I am too lazy to work at it. I deliberately did not make any meditation because I would need to make resolutions, which I would have to carry out, and yet, I am too lazy. Yet if formerly the neglect of meditation was wrong, then how much worse would it be now, if understanding it as the main reason for my spiritual misery, I would not want to remove it. I know that in order to overcome myself and all the more to persevere, I will have many temptations, but maybe Jesus will give me the grace to subdue them. Perhaps this method of writing down my meditations each day will help me because I think better on paper than by merely reflecting.