A Holocaust of Love

Mary’s most pure and loving heart was a holocaust of love, inseparably united with the Sacred Heart of our dying Savior.

For our post today, we have a very brief but remarkable essay by Saint Francis de Sales from his Treatise on the Love of God. It contains the lovely allegory of the mythical bird, the Phoenix and is a perennial favorite.

Speaking of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Francis de Sales tells us,

“Now, of her it is not possible to imagine that she died of any other kind of death than of love, the noblest of deaths, and consequently due to the noblest life that ever was amongst creatures: a death of which the very angels would desire to die, if die they could. If the primitive Christians were said to have but one heart and one soul, by reason of their perfect mutual love; if Saint Paul lived not in himself but Jesus Christ lived in him, by reason of the close union of his heart to his Master’s, whereby his soul was as it were dead in his heart which it animated, to live in the Heart of the Saviour which it loved, – O True God! – how much more really had the sacred virgin and her Son but one soul, one heart and one life, so that this heavenly mother, living, lived not, but her Son lived in her! ‘Twas a mother the most loving and the most beloved that ever could be, yea loving and beloved with a love incomparably more eminent than that of all the orders of angels and men, as the names of mother-only and only-Son, are names passing all other names in matter of love.

“And I say mother-only and only-son, because all the other sons of men divide the acknowledgment of their production between their father and mother; but in this Son, as all His human birth depended on His mother alone, who alone contributed that which was requisite to the virtue of the Holy Ghost for the conception of this heavenly child, so to her alone all the love which sprang from that production was due and rendered: wherefore this Son and this mother were united in a union by so much more excellent, as her name is excellent in love above all other names. . .  If then a loving servant (St. Paul) durst say, and did say, that he had no other life than his master’s . . . Ah! how confidently and fervently might this mother exclaim: I have no life but the life of my Son, my life is wholly in His, and His wholly in mine; for it was no longer union but unity of hearts between this mother and this son. And if this mother lived her son’s life, she also died her son’s death. The phoenix, as report goes, grown very aged, gathers together on the top of a mountain a quantity of aromatical wood, upon which, as upon its bed of honour, it goes to end its days: for when the sun, being at its highest, pours out its hottest beams, this sole bird, to contribute an increase of activity to the ardour of the sun, ceases not to beat with its wings upon its bed, till it has made it take fire, and burning with it is consumed, and dies in those odoriferous flames.

“In like manner, Theotimus, the Virgin-Mother, having collected in her spirit all the most beloved mysteries of the life and death of her son by a most lively and continual memory of them, and withal, ever receiving directly the most ardent inspirations which her child, the sun of justice, has cast upon human beings in the highest noon of his charity; and besides, making on her part also, a perpetual movement of contemplation, at length the sacred fire of this divine love consumed her entirely as a holocaust of sweetness, so that she died thereof, the soul being wholly ravished and transported into the arms of the dilection of her son. O, death, amorously life-giving! O, love, vitally death-giving!

“Several sacred lovers were present at the death of the Saviour, amongst whom those having the greatest sorrow, for love was then deeply plunged into sorrow and sorrow into love. All those who were filled with loving passion for their Saviour were in love with His passion and sorrow. But His sweet Mother, who loved Him more than all others, was more than all others pierced through and through with the sword of sorrow. The sorrow of the Son at that time was a piercing sword, which passed through the heart of the Mother, for that Mother’s heart was fastened, joined and united to her Son, with so perfect a union that nothing could wound the one without inflicting the keenest torture upon the other.

“Now this maternal bosom, thus wounded with love, not only did not seek a cure for its wound, but loved that wound more than any cure, and dearly guarded the shafts of sorrow she had received, because of the love which had shot them into her heart, and continually desiring to die of them, since her Son died of them, who, as say all the Holy Scriptures and all Doctors, He died amidst the flames of His charity, a perfect holocaust for all the sins of the world.

St. Francis then describes the beautiful love of which our Dear Lady died:

“As we see the lovely dawning of the day grow, not at intervals and by shocks, but by a dilating and continuous brightening,which is almost insensibly perceptible, so that we truly see it grow in clearness but so evenly that no one perceives any interruption in its growing, thus divine love grew in each moment in the virginal heart of our glorious Lady, but by sweet, peaceable growth. . . in the celestial love of the heart of this Virgin. . . everything favored  and seconded the course of heavenly love; its progress and increase were incomparably greater than in all other creatures, yet a progress infinitely sweet, peaceful and tranquil.

SHE DID NOT FAINT! SHE STOOD

“She swooned not away, neither with love nor compassion by the cross of her Son, although she then experienced the most ardent and painful attack of love that can be imagined; for although the attack was extreme, yet at the same time equally strong and gentle, mighty and tranquil, active and peaceful, consisting in a heat that was both sharp and sweet.

“The most Holy Mother, having nothing in her which hindered the operation of the divine love of her Son, was united to Him in an incomparable union, by gentle ecstasies, without trouble or travail, without disturbing the union of the spirit; so that this Virgin’s death was  more sweet than can be imagined, her Son sweetly drawing her after the odor of His perfumes, and she most lovingly flowing out after their sacred sweetness even into the bosom of her Son’s goodness. Although this holy soul loved her holy and pure body, yet she forsook it without pain or resistance; for love had given to this Divine Spouse, at the foot of the Cross, the supreme sorrows of death and therefore it was reasonable that at length death should give her the sovereign delights of love. [end quote]

 

Remember – Our Lady needs us to obey:  First Saturdays of Reparation, daily rosary, at least 5 mysteries, wear her brown scapular and live your Total Consecration to her Immaculate Heart, offering daily duties in reparation and for the conversion of poor sinners.

Open your hearts to the Lord and serve Him only: and He will free you from the hands of your enemies. With all your heart return to Him, and take away from your midst any strange gods” (I Kings 7:3)

 ✝︎  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
 ✝︎  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
 ✝︎  St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
 ✝︎ St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin. Give me strength against thine enemies.

 

The Resurrection and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Our title for today’s post comes from “The Month of Mary” by Saint Francis de Sales. We offer it today so that this beautiful feast of Our Lady may linger a few days more in our hearts rejoicing and strengthening us in our devotion to this most loving Mother given to us by our Lord from His saving cross.

THE RESURRECTION AND ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN

There can be no doubt whatever that Our Lord fulfilled towards Mary the precept which He gave in general to all children to honour their parents. Indeed, where is the son who would not raise his mother from the grave to lead her to Paradise, if he had it in his power?

The great triumph of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is celebrated by all the Saints, and by the whole Church Militant. After the Ark of the Covenant had dwelt for a long period under tents and pavilions, King Solomon ordered it to be placed in the marvellous Temple he had prepared for it. The joy of the Hebrews on that occasion was so great that the blood of the sacrifices flowed through the streets of Jerusalem; the air was filled with clouds of incense, and the houses and public squares resounded with harmonious music.

But, O God, if the solemnity of the reception of the Ark was so great, what must have been that of the Most Glorious Virgin, Mother of the Son of God, the true Ark of the New Covenant, upon the day of her Assumption ! O incomprehensible joy! – festival of wonders! – which makes all devout souls who are the true daughters of Jerusalem, exclaim:  ‘Who is she that goeth up from the desert leaning upon her Beloved?’

The entrance of the Most Blessed Virgin into heaven was the most magnificent that ever could or can be witnessed after that of Jesus Christ. She ascends from the desert of this lower world, so perfumed with spiritual gifts that, except in the Person of her Divine Son, she has no equal in heaven. The Queen of Saba, coming to Jerusalem to have a proof of the wisdom of Solomon, brought with her a great quantity of perfumes, gold, and precious stones. But, when the Most Holy Virgin entered heaven, she carried with her such an amount of the pure gold of charity, so much perfume of devotion and of virtue, and so many precious gems of patience and of suffering, that we can safely say no one ever had so great an accumulation of merits to offer her Divine Son!

Yes, indeed, she abounded in delights, because during her life on earth she had abounded in good works and in sufferings. We may say that, in one sense, the Assumption of Our Lady was even more glorious than the Ascension of Jesus Christ; because the Angels only were present at the Ascension, whilst at the Assumption of Our Lady the King of Angels Himself attended her. What a triumph was it for Heaven, and what a consolation for earth! Ah, let us in spirit dwell and live in heaven, because there is our treasure and our life.

O my God, how beautiful is heaven now that its sun is Our Blessed Saviour, and His bosom is the Source of Love, where the Blessed drink and quench their thirst! If we look up there, we shall see our names written in characters of Love, which can be read only by Love, and engraved only by Love. O God! and will my name also be there? Let me trust so because although my heart burns not with ardent Charity, it has, however, its desire and its principle, and bears written upon it the Sacred Name of Jesus, which I hope nothing will be able to cancel.

O what a joy for us when we shall see those characters denoting our eternal happiness! As for me, although those eternal blessings occupy all my desires and affections, yet all Paradise would be nothing to me if I did not find there the never-ending Love of the Eternal God, Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Let us bear in mind that Jesus Christ looks upon us from heaven, and sweetly invites us to come and enjoy the delights of His goodness and the abundance of His love. The Most Holy Virgin also invites us as a Mother, saying to each of us: ‘Courage, my child; despise not the ardent desires of my Son, and my sighs and petitions for thy salvation’.

And yet, how often have we not preferred the miserable vanities and bitter pleasures of earth to those incomparable joys ! Ah, faithful souls; let us henceforth accept the favours which the Most Holy Virgin and the Saints offer us. Let us promise them to walk quickly on towards heaven; and let us take hold of the hand of our good Angel-guardian, that we may never again stumble, but happily reach the gates of a blessed eternity.

SPIRITUAL FLOWERS

The qualities of the material rose vividly represent the attributes of Mary, the Mystical Rose. The perfume of the rose signifies the joys of the Most Blessed Virgin; its thorns represent to us her sorrows; and the beauty of its colour her glory in heaven. Mary is the beautiful Lily who looks down from her high throne upon all other flowers, and sees them inferior to herself. (St. John Damascene).

The difference between material and spiritual rose-trees is this, that in the former, the roses fade and the thorns remain; whilst, in the latter, the thorns pass away and the roses remain. (St. Francis de Sales).

PRACTICE:

Consecrate yourself generously to Mary, and renew this consecration every Saturday.

From “The Saint Francis de Sales Collection” [16 Books] . Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Edition.

And for good grace, here is another brief essay by Saint Francis de Sales from the same collection.  (I don’t receive anything in return for recommending books.)

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

by St. Francis de Sales

Chapter XV

THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION

From “Practical Piety” by Saint Francis de Sales

I was meditating this evening, as the weakness of my sight would permit, on this queen dying of a fever sweeter than all health; I mean, the fever of love, which drying up her heart, at last enkindles it, sets it all on fire, consumes it in such sort, that she breathes forth her holy soul, which goes straight to the hands of her Son. Ah, how fair is this dawn of the eternal day, which, ascending towards heaven, goes on, as it seems to me, increasing more and more in the benedictions of its incomparable glory! All the elect die in the habit of holy love; but some of them, beyond that, die in the exercise of this holy love; some, for this love, like the martyrs, and others, by this same love.

But what belongs to the supreme degree of this love is, that some die of love; and that is when love not only wounds the soul, so as to make it languish, but transfixes it, striking in the midst of the heart, and so strongly, that it drives the soul out of the body.

Such was the death of the holy Virgin, of whom it is impossible to imagine that she died of any other sort of death than that of love; a death the most noble of all, and consequently due to the most noble life which was ever lived among creatures,—a death of which angels themselves would desire to die if they were capable of death. The holy Virgin having nothing in her which could hinder the operation of the divine love of her Son, united herself with Him in an incomparable union, by sweet ecstasies, peaceful and effortless; so that the death of this holy Virgin was more gentle than we can possibly imagine, her Son sweetly drawing her by the odour of His perfumes, and she gliding off in this odour most gently into the bosom of His goodness; and although that holy soul loved her most holy and most pure and most fair body, nevertheless she quitted it without pain and without resistance, to go to reunite herself to her dear Son.

Love having, at the foot of the cross, given this divine mother the supreme dolours of death, it was reasonable that death should give her the sovereign delights of love. Ah, may it please this holy Virgin to make us live by her prayers in this holy love; may it be forever the singular and only object of our heart. Live Jesus; live Mary, the stay of my life!

From: “Practical Piety”, in “The Saint Francis de Sales Collection” [16 Books] . Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Remember – Our Lady needs us to obey:  First Saturdays of Reparation, daily rosary, at least 5 mysteries, wear her brown scapular and live your Total Consecration to her Immaculate Heart, offering daily duties in reparation and for the conversion of poor sinners.

†  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
†  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
†  St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
†  St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!

Desolation

Many writers have noted lately the whole world and especially the Church is in a state of extreme desolation. But today, by God’s infinite mercy, we may find that immense benefits are to be drawn from it. From St. Alphonus Liguori:

. .

When a soul is morally certain of being in the grace of God, although she may be deprived of worldly pleasures, as well as of those which come from God, she nevertheless rests satisfied with her state, conscious, as she is, of loving God, and of being loved by Him. But God, Who wishes to see her purified and divested of all sensible satisfaction, in order to unite her entirely to Himself by means of pure love, what does He do?

He puts her in the crucible of desolation, which is more painful to bear than the most severe trials, whether internal or external; she is left in a state of uncertainty if she be in the grace of God or not, and in the dense darkness that shrouds her, there seems no prospect of her ever more finding God. Almighty God, moreover, will sometimes permit her to be assailed by violent sensual temptations, accompanied by irregular movements of the inferior part, or perhaps by thoughts of unbelief, of despair, and even of hatred of God, when she imagines herself cast off by Him, and that He no longer hears her prayers.

And as, on the one hand, the suggestions of the devil are vehement, and the motions of concupiscence are excited, and, on the other, the soul finds herself in this great darkness, she can no longer sufficiently distinguish whether she properly resists or yields to the temptations, though her will resolutely refuses all consent. Her fears of having lost God are thus very much increased; and from her fancied infidelity in struggling against the temptations, she thinks herself deservedly abandoned by God. The saddest of all calamities seems to have befallen her,—–to be able no longer to love God, and to be hated by Him.

St. Teresa passed through all these trials, and declares that during them solitude had no charms for her, but, on the contrary, filled her with horror; while prayer was changed for her into a perfect hell. When a soul that loves God finds herself in this state, she must not lose courage; and neither must he who directs her become alarmed. Those sensual movements, those temptations against faith, those feelings of distrust, and those attacks which urge her to hate Almighty God, are fears, are tortures of the soul, are efforts of the enemy; but they are not voluntary, and therefore they are not sins.

The sincere lover of Jesus Christ resists valiantly on such occasions, and withholds all consent to such suggestions; but because of the darkness which envelops her, she knows not how to distinguish, her soul is thrown into confusion, and the privation of the presence of Divine grace makes her fearful and sad. But it can be soon discovered that in these souls, thus tried by God, all is dread and apprehension, but not truth: only ask them, even in their state of desolation, whether they would willingly commit one single deliberate venial sin; they will answer, that they are ready to suffer not one, but a thousand deaths, rather than be guilty of such displeasure to Almighty God.

It is necessary, therefore, to make this distinction, that it is one thing to perform an act of virtue, such as to repel a temptation, to trust in God, to love God, and to will what He wills; and it is another thing to have the consciousness of really making these good acts. This consciousness of doing good contributes to our pleasure; but the profit consists in the first point, that is, in actually doing good. With the first, God is satisfied, and deprives the soul of the latter—–that is, of the consciousness of doing good, in order thus to remove from her all self-satisfaction, which adds nothing to the merit of the action; for our Lord seeks more our real advantage than our own satisfaction.

St. John of the Cross wrote the following words of comfort to a desolate soul: “You were never in a better state than at present; for you were never so deeply humbled, and so cut off from all attachment to this world, and at the same time you were never so thoroughly impressed with the conviction of your own wickedness. Neither were you ever so divested and purified of all self-seeking as now.” [Lettre 8.]

Let us, then, not believe that when we feel a greater tenderness of devotion we are more beloved by God; for perfection does not consist in that, but in the mortification of our own will, and in its union with the will of God. Wherefore, in this state of desolation the soul must not heed the devil, when he suggests that God has abandoned her; nor must she leave off prayer. This is the object at which the devil is aiming, in order afterwards to drag her down some precipice.

St. Teresa writes: “The Lord proves His true lovers by dryness and temptations. What though the dryness should be of lifelong duration, let the soul never relax in prayer; the time will arrive when all will be abundantly repaid.” [Life, ch. 11.]

In such a state of suffering, a person should humble himself by the reflection that his offences against God are undeserving of any milder treatment: he should humble himself, and be fully resigned to the Divine will, saying: “O my Lord, behold me at Thy feet; if it be Thy will that I should remain thus desolate and afflicted for my whole life, and even for all eternity, only grant me Thy grace and the gift of Thy love, and do with me whatever Thou wilt.”

It will be useless then, and perhaps a source of greater disquiet, to wish to assure yourself that you are in the grace of God, and that what you experience is only a trial, and not abandonment on the part of God. At such times it is not the will of God that you should have this assurance; and He so wills it for your greater advantage, in order that you may humble yourself the more, and increase your prayers and acts of confidence in His mercy. You desire to see, and God wills that you should not see. For the rest, St. Francis de Sales says: “The resolution not to consent to any sin, however small, is a sure sign that we are in God’s grace.” [Spirit, ch. 4.]

But a soul in profound desolation cannot even clearly discern this resolution; nevertheless, in such a state she must not aim at feeling what she wills; it is enough to will with the point of the will. In this manner she should entirely abandon herself into the arms of the Divine goodness. Oh, how do such acts of confidence and resignation ravish the heart of God, when made in the midst of the darkness of desolation! Ah, let us simply trust in a God, Who (as St. Teresa says) loves us far better than we love ourselves. Let these souls, then, so dear to God, and who are resolutely determined to belong entirely to Him, take comfort, although at the same time they see themselves deprived of every consolation. Their desolation is a sign of their being very acceptable to God, and that He has for them a place prepared in His heavenly kingdom, which overflows with consolations as full as they are lasting,

And let them hold for certain, that the more they are afflicted in the present life, so much the more they shall be consoled in eternity: According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, Thy comforts have given joy to my soul. [Ps. xciii. 19.]

Example:

For the encouragement of souls in desolation, I will here mention what is related in the life of St. Jane Frances de Chantal. For the space of forty years she was tormented by the most fearful interior trials, by temptations, by fears of being in enmity with God, and of being even quite forsaken by Him. Her afflictions were so excruciating and unremitting, that she declared her sole ray of comfort came from the thought of death.

Moreover she said: “I am so furiously assaulted, that I know not where to hide my poor soul. I seem at times on the point of losing all patience, and of giving up all as utterly lost.” “The tyrant of temptation is so relentless,” she says, “that any hour of the day I would gladly barter it with the loss of my life; and sometimes it happens that I can neither eat nor sleep.” [Mem. de la M. de Chaugy, p. 3. ch. 27.] During the last eight or nine years of her life, her temptations became still more violent.

Mother de Chatel said that her saintly Mother de Chantal suffered a continual interior martyrdom night and day, at prayer, at work, and even during sleep; so that she felt the deepest compassion for her. The Saint endured assaults against every virtue (except chastity), and had likewise to contend with doubts, darkness, and disgusts. Sometimes God would withdraw all lights from her, and seem indignant with her, and just on the point of expelling her from Him; so that terror drove her to look in some other direction for relief: but failing to find any, she was obliged to return to look on God, and to abandon herself to His mercy.

She seemed each moment ready to yield to the violence of her temptations. The Divine assistance did not indeed forsake her; but it seemed to her to have done so, since, instead of finding satisfaction in anything, she found only weariness and anguish in prayer, in reading spiritual books, in Communion, and in all other exercises of piety. Her sole resource in this state of dereliction was to look upon God, and to let Him do His will.

The Saint said: “In all my abandonments my mere life is a new cross to me, and my incapability of action adds considerably to its heaviness.” And it was therefore that she compared herself to a sick person overwhelmed with sufferings, unable to turn from one side to the other, speechless, so as not to be able to express his ills, and blind, so as not to discern whether the attendants are administering to him medicine or poison. And then, weeping bitterly, she added, “I seem to be without faith, without hope, and without love for my God.”

Nevertheless, the Saint maintained throughout her serenity of countenance and affability in conversation, and kept her looks fixedly bent towards God, in the bosom of Whose blessed will she constantly reposed. Wherefore St. Francis de Sales, who was her director, and knew well what an object of predilection her beautiful soul was to Almighty God, wrote thus of her:

“Her heart resembled a deaf musician, who, though he may sing most exquisitely, can derive no pleasure from it himself.” And to herself he wrote as follows: “You must endeavor to serve your Saviour solely through love of His blessed will, utterly deprived of consolations, and overwhelmed by a deluge of fears and sadness.” [Love of God, B, 9. ch. 11.]

It is thus that the Saints are formed:

“Long did the chisels ring around,
Long did the mallet’s blows rebound,
Long work’d the head and toil’d the hand,
Ere stood thy stones as now they stand.”
—–Offic. Dedic. eccl.

The Saints of whom the Church sings are precisely these choice stones, which are reduced to shapeliness and beauty by the strokes of the chisel,—–that is, by temptations, by fears, by darkness, and other torments, internal and external,—–till at length they are made worthy to be enthroned in the blessed kingdom of Paradise.

From: Uniformity with God’s Will and the Practice of Love of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus Liguori, by Veritatis Splendor, Kindle. LINK.

Please, Pray the Rosary and confound satan and those who serve him!

  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!

 

~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!