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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I used to think that I understood the words of St. Paul,
"I rejoice in my infirmity,” and "when I am weak I am strong."  And in a way I did, in a general way, that is,  because the knowledge I had of my sins and weakness moved me to hope in Jesus insofar as I had any hope at all — and that led me to think I was hoping a lot in Him — because relatively it was a lot, since I had no hope in myself or in anything else.
Yet this did not prevent me from looking for motives of hope in myself — and for the approval of others by which one seeks vainly to confirm false hope — even after God had shown me how hopeless I was in myself.

Poor proud man,  even knowing I had no virtue in which to hope, I was attached to the virtue I did not have. And so there developed or rather continued to develop, a certain slavery to the love and approval of others — even as I used the little truth I had learned about God’s Love and Mercy to draw souls, not to God, but to myself. And in my blindness, 0  my God, I even tried to convince myself (and often did) that this was a work of charity.

And yet as I think of this, for all the perversity
I can see in myself, it seems to me that the great obstacle to the perfection I was seeking was not so much my perversity as my ignorance — ignorance of the very thing I thought I understood so well, God’s
loving Mercy.

And then, suddenly today, I understood what was meant by the words of St. Paul, "gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me."   No, it is not that Paul gloried in the knowledge of his infirmities, and in his knowledge of
the power of Christ. That is what I had been doing.  But he says "I glory in my infirmities," that is to say,
he glories in the very actuality of seeing his weakness, in his total incapacity to overcome temptation by his own strength — temptation that he begged to be taken away! And why hadn’t that been given to him? It was not given, as he says,"lest the greatness of the revelation should exalt me!"
 
And so it is that God, loving me as He loved Paul shows me my own weakness — but not so that I might understand, merely, in an abstract way, that "I must depend on God,"  for I can understand that perfectly even as I continue, actually, not to depend on Him — depending, rather, on my idea that I must depend on Him.  But that idea, even though it is an idea of God, is a creature, not God.

What does this mean, then, this strength of which Paul speaks, the strength he has when he is weak?
It is the actuality of depending on God’s Strength, depending only on that, of actually receiving Strength from God, of being filled with it — even as the God Who fills me with His Strength is showing me my own weakness, overwhelming me in fact with the knowledge of my hopeless inclination to evil, of my total hopelessness in myself.
It is the reality of understanding that only the Strength of Jesus  can overcome the temptation that — He teaches me abundantly — I cannot overcome by myself.

Ask yourself if it is not true that when temptation comes and you pray, whether your prayer is actual reliance on the Strength of Jesus — which is yours if you will accept it — or whether you  pray for help to overcome the temptation on your own, with HIs help (as I have done all my life) — so that you might take complacency in the illusion that you possess a virtue which God is using this very temptation to show you do not have.

And again as I write this, I think of Jesus' words and their simplicity, "Ask, and you shall receive."   How often I had done what I thought was to ask, and did not receive! And did I not then, at least virtually, make Jesus out to be a liar, saying in my heart "Yes, Lord, but I ask and do not receive!"  

And now at last I understand the answer: "That is because you did not ask!"  

​That is what I understand now, that to ask is to glory in my infirmity, actually, to be strong when I am weak, with the Strength of Jesus, because I believe that His grace is sufficient, that its sufficiency is all from Him — only I must ask, ask in the very knowledge that what I am asking for is not the strength to do by grace what I could not possibly do by my own strength. No!
All that I am asking for is for Jesus Himself to do in me what I could never do.

And again as I write this, I think of the Apostles in their little boat (Matt. 8:23-27) and how the same lesson was taught to them. Only the wonder is that for so many years I had thought I had understood this lesson perfectly — yet actually I had not even begun to learn it. For what would be signified by the boat covered with waves if not the power of temptation as it actually threatens to overcome me? And what strength did the poor apostles have in themselves to overcome the power of a tempest?


I used to think that I understood the words of St. Paul,
"I rejoice in my infirmity,” and "when I am weak I am strong."  And in a way I did, in a general way, that is,  because the knowledge I had of my sins and weakness moved me to hope in Jesus insofar as I had any hope at all — and that led me to think I was hoping a lot in Him — because relatively it was a lot, since I had no hope in myself or in anything else.
Yet this did not prevent me from looking for motives of hope in myself — and for the approval of others by which one seeks vainly to confirm false hope — even after God had shown me how hopeless I was in myself.

Poor proud man,  even knowing I had no virtue in which to hope, I was attached to the virtue I did not have. And so there developed or rather continued to develop, a certain slavery to the love and approval of others — even as I used the little truth I had learned about God’s Love and Mercy to draw souls, not to God, but to myself. And in my blindness, 0  my God, I even tried to convince myself (and often did) that this was a work of charity.

And yet as I think of this, for all the perversity
I can see in myself, it seems to me that the great obstacle to the perfection I was seeking was not so much my perversity as my ignorance — ignorance of the very thing I thought I understood so well, God’s
loving Mercy.

And then, suddenly today, I understood what was meant by the words of St. Paul, "gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me."   No, it is not that Paul gloried in the knowledge of his infirmities, and in his knowledge of
the power of Christ. That is what I had been doing.  But he says "I glory in my infirmities," that is to say,
he glories in the very actuality of seeing his weakness, in his total incapacity to overcome temptation by his own strength — temptation that he begged to be taken away! And why hadn’t that been given to him? It was not given, as he says,"lest the greatness of the revelation should exalt me!"
 
And so it is that God, loving me as He loved Paul shows me my own weakness — but not so that I might understand, merely, in an abstract way, that "I must depend on God," For I can understand that perfectly even as I continue, actually, not to depend on Him — depending, rather, on my idea that I must depend on Him.  But that idea, even though it is an idea of God, is a creature, not God.

What does this mean, then, this strength of which Paul speaks, the strength he has when he is weak?
It is the actuality of depending on God’s Strength, depending only on that, of actually receiving Strength from God, of being filled with it — even as the God Who fills me with His Strength is showing me my own weakness, overwhelming me in fact with the knowledge of my hopeless inclination to evil, of my total hopelessness in myself.
It is the reality of understanding that only the Strength of Jesus  can overcome the temptation that — He teaches me abundantly — I cannot overcome by myself.

Ask yourself if it is not true that when temptation comes and you pray, whether your prayer is actual reliance on the Strength of Jesus — which is yours if you will accept it — or whether you  pray for help to overcome the temptation on your own, with HIs help (as I have done all my life) — so that you might take complacency in the illusion that you possess a virtue which God is using this very temptation to show you do not have.

And again as I write this, I think of Jesus' words and their simplicity, "Ask, and you shall receive."  How often I had done what I thought was to ask, and did not receive! And did I not then, at least virtually, make Jesus out to be a liar, saying in my heart "Yes, Lord, but I ask and do not receive!"  And now at last I understand the answer: "That is because you did not ask!"  
​That is what I understand now, that to ask is to glory in my infirmity, actually, to be strong when I am weak, with the Strength of Jesus, because I believe that His grace is sufficient, that its sufficiency is all from Him — only I must ask, ask in the very knowledge that what I am asking for is not the strength to do by grace what I could not possibly do by my own strength. No!
All that I am asking for is for Jesus Himself to do in me what I could never do.

And again as I write this, I think of the Apostles in their little boat (Matt. 8:23-27) and how the same lesson was taught to them. Only the wonder is that for so many years I had thought I had understood this lesson perfectly — yet actually I had not even begun to learn it. For what would be signified by the boat covered with waves if not the power of temptation as it actually threatens to overcome me? And what strength did the poor apostles have in themselves to overcome the power of a tempest?

"But He was asleep." Jesus is God, and God never sleeps,  even if the man sleeps. Why then, did He sleep? Why, except to teach His disciples to trust Him when they saw they could not trust themselves.  How else are we to grow in grace if not by trusting Jesus to do that what He asks when we ourselves are not able to do it even with the help of His grace?
And yet, this too, I thought I had been understanding perfectly all these years. And now I know that I was understanding it hardly at all. And what I did not understand was precisely this, that it was the Strength of Jesus that would quiet the storm. Yes, I had undrstood that He was able to do it, and that He would do it — if I called on Him — but I did not have the right understanding which truly calls on Him. The understanding I had was that if I prayed, then He would give me the grace by which I would be able to overcome the temptation myself.  But I did not understand that it was He in me Who would overcome it — even as I saw that I myself was not able to overcome it. 
It  was Jesus Who commanded the winds and the waves, of Himself, not the Apostles with His help.
 
And now I think how Jesus complained — even before He had calmed the sea — "Why are ye fearful, 0 ye of little faith?”  The Apostles had prayed, as I had prayed.
Jesus,  then, certainly does not condemn them for praying, but for being scared and of little faith even as they prayed. And what is this fearfulness?
An evil is feared, feared unduly, when one is not confident that what can be overcome will in fact be overcome. And now it is clear how the apostles feared unduly. It was not merely, because they saw they could not overcome the storm by their own powers. That was the simple truth. It was because they did not believe that that which they themselves could not do would be done, even as Paul feared unduly when he prayed for the temptation to be taken away.
And as Paul says, not only that he rejoices in his infirmities, that is to say, in the very midst of them, as he feels himself overwhelmed by the waves — like the apostles overwhelmed by the waves — but he gives the reason — which now, too, I understand for the first time, "that the power of Christ may dwell in me."
For the power of Christ dwells in me, in a certain fullness, as it is actually necessary, and it is actually necessary when I see that I myself, of myself, am unable to overcome temptation even with the help of grace.  And this dwelling of the power of Christ within me is cause for rejoicing.

And now it is most clear how I too have been fearful and of very little faith — because all these years I have not believed that Christ Himself, His power within me, would overcome the temptation which I knew I could not overcome — not even with the help of His grace. And therefore, even as I prayed, I was limiting the power of Jesus to just what I could do by the help of that grace.  And so, naturally, when I knew from experience that there were temptations too great for my strength, aided or not, I prayed, but I did not pray with confidence.
And so too, I can see now exactly why Jesus would have complained, even after His disciples had prayed. For it would seem, on the surface, to be unfair for Him to have complained. For after all they had asked for His help, and certainly it was natural to fear a tempest at sea in a little boat, when the waves were falling over it. But now it is clear that Jesus complained only because they had limited His power to just what they could do with His help — whereas what Jesus wanted them to believe, and me too, is that He will always do what is necessary for me to keep His Law — no matter how far it is beyond my capacity to do so — even with the help of grace.
 
And thus it is clear that there are three ways in which evil can be overcome: 1) by natural power and virtue; 2) by natural powers aided by grace; and 3) by the power of Christ, as I call on Him, when the work is beyond human strength.  God may not always relieve us of our difficulty, as was the case with St. Paul and his weaknesses.  But it is necessry to believe that He is dealing with the matter nevertheless, that the evil is overcome — "My grace is sufficient for thee."  Which is why we can rejoice as Paul rejoiced!

And just here I recall the words of St. Augustine to the effect that if we do what is within our own power to resist temptation, God Himself will take issue with what is beyond our power. Only it is so important to understand that He will do this as I truly believe in Him, trusting completely in His Loving Mercy, not in a general way merely, but in the very situation where I am being actually overwhelmed by evil too great for my own strength.
​0, how blind we are to this truth!


Jesus is God, and God never sleeps,  even if the man sleeps. Why then, did He sleep? Why, except to teach His disciples to trust Him when they saw they could not trust themselves.  How else are we to grow in grace if not by trusting Jesus to do that what He asks when we ourselves are not able to do it even with the help of His grace?
And yet, this too, I thought I had been understanding perfectly all these years. And now I know that I was understanding it hardly at all. And what I did not understand was precisely this, that it was the Strength of Jesus that would quiet the storm. Yes, I had undrstood that He was able to do it, and that He would do it — if I called on Him — but I did not have the right understanding which truly calls on Him. The understanding I had was that if I prayed, then He would give me the grace by which I would be able to overcome the temptation myself.  But I did not understand that it was He in me Who would overcome it — even as I saw that I myself was not able to overcome it. 
It  was Jesus Who commanded the winds and the waves, of Himself, not the Apostles with His help.
 
And now I think how Jesus complained — even before He had calmed the sea — "Why are ye fearful, 0 ye of little faith?”  The Apostles had prayed, as I had prayed.
Jesus,  then, certainly does not condemn them for praying, but for being scared and of little faith even as they prayed. And what is this fearfulness?
An evil is feared, feared unduly, when one is not confident that what can be overcome will in fact be overcome. And now it is clear how the apostles feared unduly. It was not merely, because they saw they could not overcome the storm by their own powers. That was the simple truth. It was because they did not believe that that which they themselves could not do would be done, even as Paul feared unduly when he prayed for the temptation to be taken away.
And as Paul says, not only that he rejoices in his infirmities, that is to say, in the very midst of them, as he feels himself overwhelmed by the waves — like the apostles overwhelmed by the waves — but he gives the reason — which now, too, I understand for the first time, "that the power of Christ may dwell in me."
For the power of Christ dwells in me, in a certain fullness, as it is actually necessary, and it is actually necessary when I see that I myself, of myself, am unable to overcome temptation even with the help of grace.  And this dwelling of the power of Christ within me is cause for rejoicing.

And now it is most clear how I too have been fearful and of very little faith — because all these years I have not believed that Christ Himself, His power within me, would overcome the temptation which I knew I could not overcome — not even with the help of His grace. And therefore, even as I prayed, I was limiting the power of Jesus to just what I could do by the help of that grace.  And so, naturally, when I knew from experience that there were temptations too great for my strength, aided or not, I prayed, but I did not pray with confidence.
And so too, I can see now exactly why Jesus would have complained, even after His disciples had prayed. For it would seem, on the surface, to be unfair for Him to have complained. For after all they had asked for His help, and certainly it was natural to fear a tempest at sea in a little boat, when the waves were falling over it. But now it is clear that Jesus complained only because they had limited His power to just what they could do with His help — whereas what Jesus wanted them to believe, and me too, is that He will always do what is necessary for me to keep His Law — no matter how far it is beyond my capacity to do so — even with the help of grace.
 
And thus it is clear that there are three ways in which evil can be overcome: 1) by natural power and virtue; 2) by natural powers aided by grace; and 3) by the power of Christ, as I call on Him, when the work is beyond human strength.  God may not always relieve us of our difficulty, as was the case with St. Paul and his weaknesses.  But it is necessry to believe that He is dealing with the matter nevertheless, that the evil is overcome — "My grace is sufficient for thee."  Which is why we can rejoice as Paul rejoiced!

And just here I recall the words of St. Augustine to the effect that if we do what is within our own power to resist temptation, God Himself will take issue with what is beyond our power. Only it is so important to understand that He will do this as I truly believe in Him, trusting completely in His Loving Mercy, not in a general way merely, but in the very situation where I am being actually overwhelmed by evil too great for my own strength.
​0, how blind we are to this truth!


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