This is why such a soul experiences excessive sadness and despair soon as signs of its own lack of integrity show up, with the consequence that it immediately feels unacceptable to God.  That’s why a sick soul is always hiding the truth from itself, the mechanism for which is endless self-justification. And why the correction of such a soul is always taken as rejection.
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On Helping Souls That Are Being Tried
Do not lose your serenity on account of those who are being tried.  Pray for them; offer the sufferings of My Passion and some acts of self-denial, some self-imposed sufferings for them.”
Jesus to Sister Mary of the Holy Trinity
 
When souls are being tried, what they need from you is deeper love of Me—so that, through you, I may give them the grace they need.  So you see, you need your serenity even more at such times.  Do not try to buy peace for souls by losing your own!  Offer up your act of self-denial at such times, so that the soul who is suffering may get the grace to accept in joy what she cannot change—through your free offering of love.  You will see more and more how you are all instruments in the communication of My Love, for one another as for yourselves.  The more you will understand that, the more you will love one another.
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On Feeling Unloved
Only the realization that I love you now, I, Jesus, who know all your misery, all your sins, the failure of your whole life, only the knowledge that I Who know how underserving you are of anyone‘s love, yet love you nevertheless with the Love of God Himself, can take away the pain and anxiety of feeling unloved by so many persons, and not undeservedly.
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 The Age of St. Bernard’s is not like Ours.
St. Bernard, commenting on the Canticle (Song of Songs)

"Or perhaps, drawn away and seduced by his own concupiscence, he is still being dangerously tempted. Such a soul as this does not need a Bridegroom but a Physician, and for this reason receives, not kisses or caresses, surely, but only remedies for wounds in oil and ointments."

Yes, Bernard, in your time this was true — for the time had not yet come to force men willy-nilly from the highways and byways to the wedding feast. Men were still strong and able to overcome concupiscence with a help of the Physician less than the Kiss of His Mouth, less than the embrace of His intimacy. But now we are as children, impatient as we are weak, and needing, therefore, to be fondled and kissed by the Mother and her spouse, by Mary and Jesus.  0 Bernard, those of your age, who could help yourselves, needed the Physician only to supply the ointments of which you speak. But we need the Kiss of this Bridegroom who condescends to the weakness of little ones, like this little one who is too weak to help himself and therefore cries out:
"Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth, for thy breasts are better than wine.  For my justification now is not that I am healed by the ointments of the Physician, but that I am in the arms of His Mother, that it is her purity that makes me worthy of His embrace, not my virtue."
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If Something Is Painful
It seems I always assume that if something is painful, it is evil and to be avoided. Then, when I am suffering, I begin to think, and I do not rest until I have discovered some truth which I hope will remove the pain. But I do not think I do this only because I want to avoid suffering: it is rather that I look upon suffering as a sign that I am wrong somehow, that God is displeased with me, and therefore something in me must be changed.
    

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Dialogs with a 20th-Century Spiritual Director 
(New dialogs will appear every other week or so)


Dialog Number two
Q:  Can you tell us something about how the Holy Spirit operates in us? 
A:  Recall Scripture where it says, “The Spirit breathes where He will; and you hear his voice, but know not whence he comes, and whither he goes; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8 DRV)  One way to understand this is that God is loving us at every moment of our lives but that the form and expression of His love is going to differ from moment to moment. What this means for us practically is that we have to see God’s will in whatever happens to us, and not just see it, we have to embrace it. We have to believe that what is happening at any moment is a mark of His love for us, even at those times when everything in our lives seems to be going wrong.   We have to do violence to our tendency toward anxiety and complaint, and instead learn to judge that no matter what is happening, everything the Lord has allowed in his infinite wisdom is just right.  Moreover, our response to whatever happens must be not only one of acceptance, but one of contentedness. 
 
St. Thomas says that peace is the tranquility of order.  A peaceful life is a life that orders itself to God and his will.  In our fallen nature we want things to be ordered to our will. That’s why we’re rarely ever peaceful. Practically, this issue of peace comes down to how we react when something untoward happens. Do I ask myself what does Jesus want in this situation?  Am I only peaceful and content in circumstances that conform to my will?  Do I seek peace by seeking Jesus’ will and wisdom in allowing what has happened to take place?
 
Q:  That’s not easy to do when things go wrong, is it? 
A:  Scripture says, Rise after you have sat, you that eat the bread of sorrow. (Ps 126:2 DRV) So, yes, a garden party isn’t the best way to characterize the life of faith.  Such a life often entails having to do violence to our spontaneous judgments and feelings.  The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, Jesus said. (Matt 11:12 DRV) We have to turn away from wanting only what we want.  
 
Remember, Jesus said Not in bread alone does man live, but in every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Matt 4:4 DRV)  I believe this means that God nourishes us not only by bread but also by what is happening to us.  We are meant to learn from the events of our lives.  If God allows us to be in a sorrowful or frustrating situation, it’s because He wants us to grow from it.  It also means that the only way we can grow and thereby please God is by embracing what comes from Him, hard as it may be to do so at times.   That was preeminently true of the Son, who only did and said what He saw and heard from the Father, and who made the Father’s will his own in embracing the Cross.  All this also has to be true of us. You have to Rise after you have sat, you that eat the bread of sorrow. (Ps 126:2 DRV)
 

Q:  What does it mean to rise after we have sat?  What does it mean to sit?
A: Well, for one thing, if you haven’t been sitting, you cannot rise. I believe that by sitting here is meant resting in the judgment that God is loving us even in this circumstance of sorrow.  If you do that, then you will be able to rise and carry on in the Father’s will.  
 
It’s important for us to realize that to carry out our lives in the Father’s will does not come to us naturally. From the moment we get up in the morning, there is always something to pull us away from God; there are all kinds of distractions and preoccupations ready to take over, as if hands were being put over our ears so that we can’t hear God talking to us.  At times God has to go to extreme lengths to get our attention.  That’s why you should begin your day in the quiet of turning to Jesus and being united with Him.  Starting your day in any other way will inevitably lead to disorders of one kind or another, possibly even to serious sin.   Destruction is thy own, O Israel; thy help is only in Me. (Hosea 13:9 DRV) If you start your day the right way you’ll begin to cultivate a sense of what it is like to be with Jesus.   When you wake up in the morning, not starting out this way could be a sin if the rest of the day ends in disorder and other sins. 
 
Q:  It seems that to do that in a regular way you would have to break the habits of a lifetime.
A: That’s true, but you have to ask for what you don’t have.  Ask and you shall receive, Jesus told us. (Matt 7:7 NAB) If you don’t have sufficient faith you need to ask to have more; then, as Jesus said, Those who have shall receive. (Matt 13:12 NAB)  Remember, the only thing God wants from us is what comes from Him, from what we have received, often by our asking.  And what He wants to give us is sweet and gentle.  Hardness has no place whatsoever in the love God has for us, unless our sins and the hardness of our hearts call for it, unless there is no other way for God to be merciful.  We know that certain maladies call for a surgeon’s scalpel.
 
Q: The life of faith is more than just a matter of our being corrected though, right?  Faith needs good works.
A. Yes.  We are not saved without works. We are saved by the mercy of God that enables us to do the works. The person who cries, Speak Lord, for your servant is listening (1 Sam 3:9 NAB ) will be shown what God wants at each moment.  But we are called to be doers of the word, not just hearers. (James 1:23 DRV)
 
It’s true of course that doing God’s will doesn’t necessarily mean you are thinking of God.  You can’t, not if the work demands your full attention.  But if what you are about flows from a habitual state of recollection, it will be done right, in a workmanlike manner.  The fruit of recollection is always greater objectivity, the sine qua non for any good work.  But being recollected doesn’t mean thinking about God all the time.  It’s when you’re not recollected, when you’re not listening to what the Father wants and you’re just listening to yourself, then nothing ever goes just right.  Look at our world today.
 
Q:  When we fail to listen and do the right thing, does God love us less for it?
A:  You can’t get God to love you by your works.  He already loves you, just the way you are.  He is moved to correct you because He wants to love you more.   You must realize that God loves you in your very weaknesses, that nothing can separate us from Him.   A mother isn’t disturbed that her child cannot yet walk or talk perfectly.  It will come and the mother is there to help make it happen. In the same way, God loves you just as you are at every stage of your spiritual development, and each thing that happens to you is designed to help you on your way.   But it’s important to remember that you are loved for what you are in Jesus, not for what you do.  Anything which is not in Jesus is beside the point, even a subjective experience of Jesus if it is not in Jesus.  The habit of faith is to rely totally on the goodness of God, and to hate everything in yourself that is to the contrary to this.  If you do that, then you can truly revere the life that you have in Jesus.  For, lo, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21 DRV)

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