Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Life of Fervour

1. " To pray is to love," wrote St. Augustine. The man who loves God prays continually and with fervour, whereas the man who has little love for his Creator prays rarely and apathetically. Prayer does not consist primarily in verbal expression, but in the elevation of the mind to God in adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation, and supplication. Love should be the inspiration of our communication with God, for where there is no love there can be no prayer.

Jesus tells us that we must always pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1) We may be working, walking, talking, eating or sleeping, but whatever we are doing, the love of God can transform it into a prayer. This is so if we are engaged in our work, but have offered it to God in advance. If we are in trouble, our sufferings will be pleasing to God. If we are walking about, everything will speak to us of God and cause us to make acts of gratitude and of love. We shall have dealings with men of the world, but they will perceive and appreciate that we are spiritually united to God. We shall sleep because sleep is necessary, but what appear to be hours of fruitless inactivity will be dedicated to our Creator. Fervour in prayer and in action should be the constant ideal of the good Christian, because it makes his entire life pleasing to God.

2. God is our Creator and absolute Master, Whom the Angels adore and irrational creatures obey. His greatness demands that we should offer all our activity to Him in a spirit of fervent and loving dedication. Since we have received everything from Him, we have many reasons for loving Him. By the work of redemption God became our friend and brother, and the victim of expiation for our sins. How could we remain indifferent and ungrateful when we remember the favours which we have received? Love desires love in return, and God loved us so much that He became man and shed His blood for us. Moreover, He immolates Himself continually on our behalf in the Sacrifice of the Eucharist. Finally, our fervour should be increased by the reflection that God has reserved for us as an everlasting reward His own Beatific Vision.

All these considerations should help to increase the fervour of our love. Then our actions will form a ladder of ascent to God by means of which we shall become intimately united to Him.

3. The fervent Christian will never miss an opportunity of advancing in perfection. When he feels that he is growing negligent, he combats the signs of spiritual retrogression and makes a new beginning by telling God that he wishes to belong entirely to Him. It is his motto that no day must ever pass without a further step towards perfection. To decide to stand still is fatal, for it leads inevitably to a decline. It is true that the constant effort to advance costs great sacrifices, but sanctity cannot be achieved without sacrifice and everlasting happiness cannot be gained without perseverance in virtue. Moreover, difficult though the ascent towards perfection may be, it eases the heaviness of our hearts and brings us that fundamental peace which God alone can give.