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"I have a simple lesson to give to all mankind at this time, My child. It is, as We know, charity among mankind. All works and all acts of sacrifice, have they a value when they are not covered by charity? And what is charity, My children? When you come across lives that have been darkened by sin and evil, you must not become smug; you must not feel secure in your own piety and graces given to you, but you must feel a sadness of heart for those who have fallen into the darkness. You must not judge, for the Eternal Father has the only key to an individual heart." - Our Lady of the Roses, March 18, 1976
The following is an excerpt from the classic book, The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology by the Very Reverend Adolphe Tanquerey, S.S., D.D.
I. The Essence of Perfection consists in Charity
#310. First of all we shall explain the sense of this proposition. The love of God and of neighbor here in question is supernatural by reason of its object as well as by reason of its motive and its principle.
The God we love is the God made known to us by revelation, the Triune God. We love Him because our faith shows Him to us infinitely good and infinitely loving. We love Him through the will perfected through the virtue of charity and aided by actual grace. This love then is not a mere sentiment. Man is indeed a composite being made up of body and soul and, doubtless, some feeling often enters into his affections even the noblest. At times, however, this sentiment which is wholly accidental, is utterly lacking. The essence of love itself is devotedness. It is a firm determination of the will to give itself up to God, and, if need be, to make the entire sacrifice of self to Him and His glory, preferring His good pleasure to that of self and others.
#311. The same is to be said, with due proportion, of the love of neighbor. It is God Whom we love in him, a likeness, a reflection of God's perfections. The motive of this love is then the divine goodness as manifested, expressed and reflected in our neighbor. To speak more concretely, we see and love in our brethren a soul inhabited by the Holy Ghost, beautified by divine grace, redeemed at the price of Christ's blood. In loving him, we wish his supernatural perfection, his eternal salvation.
Thus there are not two distinct virtues of charity, the one towards God and the other towards the neighbor. There is but one, comprising at once God loved for His own sake, and the neighbor loved for God's sake.
With these notions in mind, we shall easily understand that perfection does really consist in this one virtue of charity. But what degree of charity is required for perfection? That the charity which necessarily accompanies the state of grace and which coexists with the habit of venial sin and unmortified passions cannot be sufficient for perfection, every one will agree. On the other hand charity causing us to love God as much as He deserves to be loved, or charity causing us to avoid all venial sins and imperfections, is not required, for as will be seen further (N. 344-348), such charity is not within our power here on earth. Charity required for perfection may then be defined: Charity so well established in the soul as to make us strive earnestly and constantly to avoid even the smallest sin and to do God's holy will in all things out of love for Him.
Proofs of this Thesis
#312. (1) Let us see what Holy Writ tells us. A) Both in the Old and the New Testaments, the dominating principle wherein the whole law is summed up is the Great Commandment of love--the love of God and the love of neighbor. Thus when a certain lawyer asked our Lord what was to be done in order to gain everlasting life, the divine Master made the simple reply: "What .saith the law?" And the lawyer without hesitation recalled the sacred text in Deuteronomy: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself." Our Lord approved it, saying: "This do: and thou shalt live" He adds elsewhere that in this twofold precept of the love of God and of the neighbor are contained all the Law and the prophets. St. Paul declares the same when after having enumerated the principal precepts of the Decalogue he adds: " Love therefore if the fulfilling of the Law." Thus the love of God and of the neighbor is at one and the same time both the summary and the plenitude of the Law. Now Christian perfection cannot be anything else but the perfect and complete fulfillment of the Law, for the Law is the will of God, than which there can be nothing more perfect.
n1. "Luke," X, 25-29; cfr. "Deut." VI, 5-7.n2. "Matth.," XXII, 39-40.n3. "Rom.," XIII, 10.
#313. B) Another proof is the one drawn from St. Paul's doctrine on charity in the thirteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians. There, in lyric language he describes the excellence of love, its primacy over the charisms or freely given graces, and over the other theological virtues of faith and hope. He shows that it embodies and possesses all virtues in the highest degree; so much so, that love is itself the aggregate of all those virtues: "Charity is patient, is kind; charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil. " He ends by affirming that the charismata shall pass, but that charity abideth eternally. This means not only that love is the queen and the soul of all the virtues, but that its worth is such that it suffices to make man perfect by imparting to him all the virtues.
#314. C) St. John, the Apostle of divine love, gives us the fundamental reason for this doctrine. God, says he, is love. This is, so to speak, what characterizes Him. If we, therefore, wish to be like unto Him, to be perfect like Our Heavenly Father, we must love Him as He loves us, " because He hath first loved us." But since we cannot love Him if we love not our neighbor, we are to love our brethren even to the point of sacrifice: "We also must lay down our lives for the brethren." "Dearly beloved, let us love one another: for charity is of God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is charity... In this is charity: not as though we had loved God, but because He hath first loved us, and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins. My dearest, if God hath so loved us, we also ought to love one another... God is charity and he that abideth in charity abideth in God, and God in him." It cannot be stated in clearer terms that all perfection consists in the love of God and of the neighbor for God's sake.
n1. "John," IV, 10.n2. "I John," IV, 7-16. The whole Epistle should be read.
#315. (2) When we seek an answer to this question from reason enlightened by faith, we arrive at the same conclusion, whether we consider the nature of perfection or the nature of love.
A) We have said that the perfection of any being consists in attaining its end or in approaching it as closely as possible (N. 306). Now, man's end in the supernatural order is the eternal possession of God through the Beatific Vision and the love resulting therefrom. Here upon earth we approach the realization of this end by living already intimately united to the Most Blessed Trinity dwelling in us, and to Jesus the indispensable Mediator with the Father. The more closely we are united to God, our last end and the source of our life, the more perfect we are.
#316. Among the Christian virtues, the most unifying the one which unites the whole soul to God is divine charity. The other virtues indeed prepare us for that union or initiate us into it, but cannot effect it. The moral virtues of prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice do not unite us directly to God, but limit themselves to removing or reducing the obstacles that estrange us from Him, and to bringing us closer to Him through conformity to His order. Thus temperance by restraining the immoderate use of pleasure, weakens one of the most potent obstacles to the love of God; humility by putting off pride and self-love predisposes us to the practice of divine charity. Besides these virtues, by making us observe order or right measure, subordinate the will to that of God. As to the theological virtues other than charity, they do indeed unite us to God, but in an incomplete fashion. Faith unites us to God, infallible Truth, and makes us see all things in the divine light, yet it is compatible with mortal sin which separates us from God. Hope raises us to God inasmuch as He is good to us and makes us desire the joys of Heaven, but it can exist along with grave faults that turn us away from our end.
#317. Love alone unites us fully to God. It presupposes faith and hope, but it surpasses them. It lays hold of our entire soul, intellect, heart, will, activity, and delivers all unreservedly to God. It excludes mortal sin, God's enemy and makes us enjoy the divine friendship: " If any one love me...my Father will love him." Now, friendship is the union, the blending of two souls into one: One heart and one soul... the same likes and dislikes, " (Cor unum et anima una: unum velle, unun nolle). Thus our friendship with God is a perfect union of all our faculties with Him a union of our mind that patterns our thoughts after those of God; a union of our will that causes us to embrace the divine will as our very own, a union of heart that prompts us to live ourselves to God as he has given Himself to us "My beloved to me and I to Him, " a union of activities in virtue of which God places His divine power at the service of our weakness to enable us to carry out our good desires. Charity then unites us to God, our end,--to God, infinitely perfect, and thus constitutes the essential element of our perfection.
n1. "John," XIV, 23.n2. "Cant.," II, 16.
#318. B) If we inquire into the nature of charity we arrive at the same conclusion. St. Francis de Sales shows that charity includes all the virtues and even lends them a perfection all its own.
a) It comprises all the virtues. Perfection evidently consists in the acquisition of virtues. If we possess all, not simply in an initial stage, but to a high degree, we are perfect. But whoever has the virtue of charity in the degree described in n. 311, has all other virtues and has them in all their perfection, without which it is impossible to know and love God's infinite loveliness; he has hope, which by inspiring trust leads to love; he has all the moral virtues, such as prudence without which charity could neither last nor grow, fortitude which triumphs over the obstacles impeding the practice of charity, temperance which curbs sensuality, that relentless enemy of divine love. Nay more, adds St. Francis de Sales, " the great Apostle does not simply say that charity bestows on us patience and kindness, and steadfastness and simplicity, but he says that charity is itself patient and kind, and steadfast, " because it embodies the perfection of all virtues.
1. "Treatise on the Love of God," Book XI, C. 8.
#319. b) Charity, moreover, gives to other virtues a special perfection and worth. It is, according to St. Thomas, the form, the soul, of all the virtues. "All the virtues when separated from charity fall very short of perfection, since they cannot in default of this virtue fulfill their own end, which is to render man happy. I do not say that, without it, they cannot be born and even develop; but they are dependent on charity for their perfection, for their completeness to draw therefrom the strength to will in God and to receive from His mercy the manna of true merit and of the sanctification of those hearts wherein they are found. Charity is among the virtues as the sun among the stars--it gives to all their brightness and their beauty. Faith, hope, fear, sorrow ordinarily precede charity into the soul, there to prepare its abode, but once love arrives they obey and minister to it like all other virtues; charity, by its presence, animates, beautifies and vivifies them all. " In other words, charity by directing our soul immediately toward God, the supreme perfection and the last end, gives the selfsame direction and hence the same worth to all the other virtues under its sway. Thus an act of obedience or of humility, besides having its own proper value, derives from love a far greater worth, when done in order to please God. It becomes then an act of charity, an act of the most perfect of all virtues. Let us add that such an act becomes easier and more attractive. To obey and to undergo humiliation is a bitter thing to our proud nature, but this becomes easier once we are conscious that by the performance of such acts we actually practice the love of God and procure His glory.
Thus charity is not only the synthesis but the very soul of all virtues, it unites us to God in a manner more perfect and more direct than any of the others. Hence it is love that constitutes the very essence of perfection.
n1. "Sum. theol.," IIa IIae, q. 23, a. 8.n2. St. Francis de Sales, 1, c., c. 9.
#320. Since the essence of perfection consists in the love of God, it follows that the short-cut thereto is to love with a great love, with a generous heart, with intensity and above all with a pure and disinterested love. Now we truly love God not only when we give expression with our lips to an act of charity, but even each time we do His will or perform the least duty with the intention of pleasing Him. Each of our actions then, however commonplace, can be transformed into an act of love and become a help to our advancement in perfection. Our progress will be all the more real and rapid as our love becomes more intense and generous and our effort accordingly more strenuous and steadfast, for that which has value in the eyes of God is the will, the effort, apart from all sensible emotion.
Lastly, because the supernatural love of the neighbor is likewise an act of the love of God, all the services we render our brethren, while seeing in them reflections of the divine perfection, or, what is the same, seeing Jesus Christ in them, become acts of love that make us advance toward sanctity.
II. Love on Earth Requires Sacrifice
#321. In Heaven we shall love without any need of self-immolation. Here on earth it is quite otherwise. In our present state of fallen nature, it is impossible for us to love God truly and effectively without sacrificing ourselves for Him.
This follows from what we have said above (n. 74-75) regarding the tendencies of fallen nature which remain in regenerated man. We cannot love God without fighting and curbing those tendencies. This is a struggle that begins with the dawn of reason and ends only with our last breath. Assuredly there are moments of respite when the struggle is not so intense, but even then, we cannot afford to rest upon our oars except at the risk of another sally on the part of the enemy. To this Holy Writ bears witness.
(1) Holy Writ clearly states the absolute necessity of sacrifice and self-renunciation in order to love God and the neighbor.
#322. A) Our Lord addresses the following invitation to all His disciples: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." In order to follow and to love Jesus, there is an indispensable condition, that of renouncing self, that is to say, renouncing the evil inclinations of our nature: selfishness, pride, ambition, sensuality, lust, inordinate love of ease and riches. There is the condition of carrying one's cross, of accepting the sufferings, the privations, the humiliations, the evil turns of fortune, labor, sickness, in a word, those crosses with which the hand of God's Providence puts us to the test, strengthens our virtue and makes easy the expiation of our faults. Then, and only then, can one be Christ's disciple and walk the way of love and perfection.
Our Lord confirms this lesson by His example. Having come from Heaven with the express purpose of showing us the way of perfection, He followed no other way than that of the Cross: "Christ's whole life was a Cross and a martyrdom." From Bethlehem to Calvary His life is a long series of privations and humiliations, of fatigue and apostolic labors, all crowned by the anguish and the tortures of His bitter Passion. It is the most eloquent commentary on His words: "If any man will come after me." Were there a surer road, He would have shown it to us. But He knew there was no other and He followed it to draw us after Him." And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself"Thus it was understood by the Apostles who repeat to us with St. Peter, that if Christ suffered for us it was that we might walk in his steps: "Because Christ also suffered for us leaving you an example that you should follow His steps."
n1. "Matth.," XVI, 24; cfr. "Luke," IX, 23.--Read the commentary of Blessed Grignion de Montfort in his "Circular letter to the friends of the Cross."n2. "Imitation," Book II, C. XII, n. 7.n3. "John," XII, 32.n4. "I Peter," II, 21.
#323. B) This is also the teaching of St. Paul. For him Christian perfection consists in divesting oneself of the old man to invest oneself with the new: "Stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds and putting on the new." Now the old Adam is but the sum-total of the evil tendencies we have inherited from the first man. It is that threefold concupiscence we are to fight and to muzzle by the practice of mortification. "They that are Christ's," says he, "have crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences."This is the essential condition; so much so that St. Paul himself feels obliged to punish his body: "But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway."
n1. "Coloss.," III, 9.n2. "Galat.," V, 24.3. "I Cor.," IX, 27.
#324. C) The Apostle of Love, St. John, is no less emphatic. He teaches that in order to love God we must keep the Commandments and fight the threefold concupiscence which holds the world under its sway. He adds that if one loves the world and the things that are in the world one cannot possess the love of God: "If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. " But in order to hate the world and its allurements, it is clear that one must practice the spirit of sacrifice by foregoing dangerous and evil pleasures.
n1. "I John," II, 15.
#325. (2) This need of sacrifice is a consequence of the condition of our fallen nature as described in n. 74, and of the threefold concupiscence, n. 193. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to love God and the neighbor without sacrificing whatever goes counter to that love. The threefold concupiscence, as we have shown, does go counter to the love of God and of the neighbor; hence, if we wish to advance in the way of charity, we must relentlessly fight against our bad tendencies.
#326. Let us consider a few instances. Our exterior senses eagerly tend toward whatever flatters them, thus putting at hazard our virtue. What is to be done to avoid this danger? Our Lord tells us very forcibly: "If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than thy whole body be cast into hell." This means that we must learn by mortification to deprive our eyes, our ears, all our senses, of whatever constitutes for us an occasion of sin. Without this there is neither perfection nor salvation.
The same holds true of our interior senses, particularly, of our imagination and our memory. Who does not know from experience the risk we run, unless we repress their vagaries from the outset?
Even our higher faculties, intellect and will, are liable to go astray through curiosity, independence or pride. What efforts must be made, what combat sustained, in order to place them under the yoke of Faith, in humble submission to the will of God and to His representatives!
We must confess then, that if we want to love God and our neighbor for God's sake, we must learn to mortify our selfishness, our sensuality, our pride, our love for riches. Thus sacrifice is the essential condition of loving God in this life.
This seems to be the mind of St. Augustine when he says: " Two loves have built two cities: the love of self carried unto the contempt of God has built the city of this earth, the love of God carried unto the contempt of self has built the heavenly city." In other words, we cannot truly love God except through repression of our evil tendencies.
n1. "Matth.," V, 29.n2. "Ce Civitate Dei," XIV, 28.
#327. The conclusion that necessarily follows is that, in order to be perfect, we must not only multiply acts of love, but also acts of sacrifice, for in this life love cannot be without self-immolation. Of course, it can be truly said of all our good works that inasmuch as they detach us from self and from creatures they are acts of sacrifice, and, inasmuch as they unite us to God they are acts of love. It remains for us to see how love and sacrifice can be combined.
III. The Part of Love and the Part of Sacrifice in the Christian Life
#328. Since both love and sacrifice must have a part in the Christian life, what shall be the role of each? On this subject there are points on which all agree, and there are others on which a difference of opinion is manifest. Practically, however, the present authors of the various schools arrive at conclusions that are nearly the same.
#329. (1) All admit that objectively and in the order of excellence, love holds the first place. It is the end and the essential element of perfection, as we have proved in our first thesis, N. 312. It is love, then, that we must look to above all, it is love that we must seek without respite, it is love that calls for sacrifice and gives it its chief value. Hence, it is essential that even with beginners, the spiritual director should insist on the love of God; but he should make clear to them that while love renders sacrifice easier, it can never dispense with it.
#330. (2) As regards the chronological order, all admit that both elements are inseparable and must be cultivated at one and the same time, nay more, that they must blend one with the other. This, because there is no true love here on earth without sacrifice, and because sacrifice made for God is one of the best signs of love.
The whole question resolves itself into this: Taking the chronological order, which of these two elements must be emphasized, love or sacrifice? Here we come upon two distinct schools and trends of thought.
#331. A) St. Francis de Sales, resting upon the authority of many representatives of the Benedictine and the Dominican schools, and relying upon the resources which regenerated human nature has to offer, insists first on the love of God, in order the better to make us accept and practice sacrifice. But far from excluding the latter, he demands of Philothea much self-renunciation and self-sacrifice. If he does so with great caution and suavity of manner, it is to attain his purpose all the better. This becomes evident from the first chapter of the "Introduction to the Devout Life": "True devotion presupposes not a partial, but a thorough love of God... As devotion then consists in a certain excellent degree of charity, it not only makes us active and diligent in the observance in God's commandments, but it also excites us to the performance of every good work with an affectionate alacrity, even though it be not of precept but only of counsel." But to keep the commandments, to follow the counsels and the inspirations of grace, is to practice mortification to a high degree. Besides, the Saint asks that Philothea begin by purifying herself not only from mortal sins, but also from venial faults and from the affection for vain and dangerous things, as well as from evil tendencies. When he deals with the virtues, he does not forget their austere side; although he is ever concerned that all be pervaded by the love of God and that of the neighbor.
n1. St. Francis de Sales, "Introduction to the Devout Life," C. 1.
#332. B) On the other side, we have the school of St. Ignatius and the French School of the Seventeenth Century. Without forgetting that the love of God is the end to be attained and that it must vivify all our acts, they place to the fore, especially for beginners, renouncement, the love of the Cross, the mortification of our passions, as the surest means of arriving at real effective love. The representatives of these schools seem to fear that unless this be insisted on at the beginning, many souls would fall victims to illusions, think themselves already far advanced in the love of God, whilst, in fact, their virtue is more sentimental and apparent than real. Hence those lamentable falls when grave temptations come or when spiritual dryness sets in. Besides, sacrifice courageously accepted for the love of God leads to a charity that is more generous and more constant, and the habitual practice of this charity gradually comes to complete the spiritual edifice.
#333. Practical conclusion. Without any desire to settle this controversy, we shall simply propose some conclusions admitted by the most prudent of all schools.
A) There are two excesses to be avoided: a) that of wishing to lead souls prematurely into the so-called way of love whilst failing to train them to the stern discipline of daily self-denial. It is in this way that illusions are fostered and at times the ground made ready for regrettable falls. How many souls experiencing those sensible consolations God dispenses to beginners, and thinking themselves well-grounded in virtue, expose themselves to occasions of sin and fall into grievous faults! A little more mortification, true humility, distrust of self, and a more determined fight against their passions, would have preserved them from such lapses.
b) The other excess is to speak constantly of renouncement and mortification without making it clear that these are but means of arriving at the love of God, or manifestations of that love. Thus some persons possessed of good will, but as yet of little courage are disheartened. They would take more heart and be filled with greater strength, if they were shown how such sacrifices become so much easier if done for the love of God: "Where there is love, there is no labor."
#334. B) Once these excesses are avoided, the spiritual director must know what path to point out to each penitent according to his character and the promptings of grace.
a) There are affectionate souls who have no taste for mortification until they have for some time practiced the love of God. It is true that this love is ofttimes imperfect, more sentimental than generous and lasting. However, if one takes advantage of these first flights to show that real love cannot endure without sacrifice, if one succeeds in inducing such souls to exercise themselves in some acts of penance for the love of God, in some acts of reparation, of mortification, such acts as are more indispensable to the avoidance of sin, then their will will be gradually strengthened, and the moment will come when they will understand that sacrifice and the love of God must go hand in hand.
b) On the other hand, if one has to deal with energetic characters, accustomed to act from a sense of duty, one may from the outset insist on renouncement as the touchstone of charity, and cause them to exercise themselves in penance, humility and mortification, while infusing into these austere virtues the motive of the love of God or zeal for souls.
Thus love and sacrifice will ever be united, and it will become evident that these two elements blend and perfect each other.
IV. Does Perfection consist in the Commandments or in the Counsels?
#335. (1) The State of the Question. We have seen that perfection consists essentially in the love of God and of the neighbor carried unto sacrifice. But the love of God and sacrifice include both commandments and counsels; commandments that oblige under pain of sin, counsels that invite us to do for God over and above what is demanded; failure in this case would not involve sin but willful imperfection and resistance to grace. It is this distinction of precept and counsel that Our Lord alluded to when He declared to the rich young man: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast and give to the poor and thou shalt have a treasure in heaven." Thus, to observe the laws of justice and charity in what concerns ownership suffices for entrance into heaven, but if one would be perfect, one must sell his possessions, give their price to the poor and so practice voluntary poverty. St. Paul points out to us likewise that virginity is a counsel and not a commandment--that to marry is good, but that to be a virgin is better.
n1. "Matth.," XIX, 17-21.n2. "I Cor.," VII, 25-40.
#336. (2) The Solution. Some authors have reached the conclusion that the Christian life consists in the observance of the commandments, and perfection in that of the counsels. This explanation is a little too simple, and if wrongly understood, would end in fatal results. In reality, perfection requires, in the first place, the keeping of the commandments and, in the second, the observance of a certain number of counsels.
This is the teaching of St. Thomas. After proving that perfection is nothing else but the love of God and of the neighbor, he concludes that, in practice, it consists essentially in the commandments, the chief of which is that of love; secondarily, in the counsels all of which are directed toward charity, for they remove the obstacles that hinder its practice. We shall explain this doctrine.
n1. "Sum. theol.," IIa IIae, q. 184, a. 3.
#337. A) Perfection demands peremptorily and in the first place the keeping of the commandments. It is important to impress this notion strongly upon certain persons, who, for example, in order to practice some devotions, forget their duties of state, or who under the pretext of almsgiving, defer indefinitely the payment of their debts; in a word, on all those who, aiming at a perfection of a higher order, neglect some precept of the Law of God. It is evident that the infraction of a grave precept, like that of the payment of debts, destroys charity in us, and that the pretext of giving alms cannot justify this violation of the natural law. In like manner, the willful violation of a commandment in light matter is a venial sin which, though not destroying charity in us, impedes to a greater or lesser extent its exercise, offends Almighty God, and interferes with our intimacy with Him. This is especially true of frequent deliberate venial sins which create in us attachments, and retard our advance towards perfection. To be perfect, therefore, we must, above all, observe the commandments.
#338. B) To this, however, we must join the observance of the counsels--of a few at least--chiefly of those related to our duties of state. a) Thus, religious, having bound themselves by vow to practice the three great evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, cannot evidently sanctify themselves without fidelity to their vows. Besides, this fidelity renders singularly easy the exercise of the love of God by detaching the soul from the chief obstacles which stand in the way of divine charity. Poverty, by uprooting disordered love for wealth, sets the heart free to reach out to God and heavenly things. Chastity, by spurning the pleasures of the flesh, even those the holy state of marriage would sanction, fosters an undivided love of God. Obedience, by fighting pride and the spirit of independence, subjects the will to that of God. This obedience is, in reality, a genuine act of love.
#338. b) Those who are not bound by vows must, in order to be perfect, observe the spirit of these vows, each according to his condition in life, the inspirations of grace, and the guidance of a prudent spiritual adviser. Thus they will exercise themselves in the spirit of poverty by depriving themselves of many useless things, and so will spare money for almsgiving and for works of charity or zeal; in the Spirit of chastity, even if they be married, by using with moderation or restraint the rights to the lawful pleasures of their state, and, above all, by scrupulously avoiding whatever is forbidden or dangerous; in the spirit of obedience, by submitting themselves with docility to their superiors in whom they will see the image of God, and by a like submission to the inspirations of grace, under the guidance of a wise spiritual director.
Hence to love God and the neighbor for God's sake, to know how to sacrifice oneself in order to fulfill the better this twofold commandment and the counsels related thereto, this is true perfection.
"My child and My children, if I could take you with Me and give you the eyes to see and the ears to hear, you'll understand why I have cried out to you in the past to protect your soul, your children's souls, your families, and accept as a victim soul the graces given to you from Heaven to reach out with to save others. For charity and love of heart knows no bounds, no restrictions, but in giving does one really bring forth the true meaning of love." - Our Lady of the Roses, June 18, 1981
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"While you are upon earth you are there to do honor and glory to your God in Heaven. You must know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world, so that you will be happy with Him forever in the next." - Our Lady, June 1, 1978
"Yes, My child, you will feel faint at the knowledge of the existence of hell. Better that mankind has fear of the Eternal Father if he does not have love! For now many are in a void of spirit. They neither know their God, nor do they care to know their God. " - Our Lady, March 29, 1975
"Any priest that tells you that you must love your neighbor first and God second, he is not a true man of God nor is he a true Roman Catholic priest, nor is he a true minister of any denomination. Because the first Commandment of God the Father is: 'I am the Lord thy God, thou shall not have strange gods before Me.'" - Our Lady, June 18, 1982
"But so few know the true meaning of love. Love is in giving. Love is in caring. But love above all is God, your God. For no man knows the full meaning of love until he has reached out and become a man of God, a true child of the light; for then he will also be a keeper of the eternal flame, the Holy Spirit." - Jesus, June l8, 1981
"I speak to all the children of the world. You have been given armor and graces to rescue your brothers and sisters in this battle. Do not waste these graces, but multiply them. Disperse among the world a fine example of charity and faith." - St. Paul, July 1, 1973
"I consign you, My children, all who hear your Mother's voice, as bearers of light. Go forward with Jesus, My Son, as your confidence. Approach your brothers and sisters, for what greater glory, what greater love can a man give to one another but to even face death to save him." - Our Lady, May 14, 1977
"Remember, My child and My children, no matter what course you proceed upon, if you do not have charity for your neighbor, you have stopped in your progress to sanctity." - Our Lady, May 20, 1978
"Pray, My children, for your priests, your bishops, your cardinals. Too few pray for them, for in their awe and their knowledge, they believed in the past, My children, that these Hierarchy had a special passport to Heaven. No, My children, they have a human nature also, and human frailties, and must be protected by prayer and penance and sacrifice, and this means the prayer, penance and sacrifice of others also, for them. In your charity of heart, in your love of human nature that We hear man speaking of as he falls into the errors of modernism and humanism-true love lies in prayers and sacrifice for an individual, for when you come over the veil, I assure you, it is only love and prayers that can follow you." - Jesus, May 20, 1978
Directives from Heaven... http://www.tldm.org/directives/directives.htm
D21 - Importance of Prayer (Part 2) PDF
D31 - Love of God PDF
D32 - Love of Neighbor PDF
D78 - Charity PDF
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