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us on, and shews us more and more of His love.

Again, we look at Poverty as manifested by our
Blessed Lord Himself, and thereby sanctified and
elevated into a condition of moral supremacy over
earthly things, and made a power because He
Himself used it and adopted it. Many had been
living in poverty before our Lord came, but it was a
state of death rather than of life; but since He
has used it, it is the state in which one can most
live to God, for we are then more like Him, and to



258 THE RELIGIOUS LIFE

be like Him must be a source of blessing to every
heart that loves. As we come nearer and nearer to
Him, we have more of His spirit. We are many
times mistaken in our view of poverty. We think
we may bear it, or endure it in order to be brought
into union with Him; but it is more than that, it
is a spiritual power; it was in His life, and will be
in ours.

It has been asked, "What could not Christ have
done, if He had had great possessions?" But
wealth would never have been the power in Christ's
life that His poverty was, and is. He might have
relieved distress, but He would have left humanity
just where it was. It was a power to attract men
to Himself, a power of sympathy, a power because
done in obedience, and was blessed by God. He
was stripped of everything in His poverty; poor
in His birth, His home, His clothes, in His death,
and yet what a blessing to all. He was entirely
dependent on God. By union with Him we gain
His own benediction, and His wealth is ours. Our
hearts are regulated by the impulses of His heart.
The Spouse of Christ enters into that Heart, empties
herself into it, that she may be filled with His power.

Poverty must be treated of in two ways, as ex-
terior, and as internal. It must be internal first of
all. Always work from the inner life outward.

Internal poverty lies in three things :

ist. The mortification of desire for possession.

2d. The detachment of the heart.

3d. The love of poverty as a means of union.



MEDITATIONS 259

External poverty must be according to our Rule,
and the spirit of our Institute. There are various
degrees of external poverty.

1. Receive nothing without the knowledge of the
Superior.

2. Keep nothing contrary to her intention.

3. Dispose of nothing without permission.

4. Avoid incurring needless expenses; avoid
superfluities for one's self.

5. Be content with what is provided.

6. Bear with meekness the privations attached
to our estate. As Religious we embrace poverty,
but we should think nothing of what we have done;
it is but little at the most. Think of the wretched-
ness about us, and see how little we know of it
personally. But we do embrace a voluntary life
of poverty for His sake. We must be careful to
avoid pride, for our offering is very small, but very
dear to Him, if done for love of Him. He does not
look at what we do, but the motive with which we
doit.



i2TH INSTRUCTION.



There are different degrees of Religious Poverty.
We may look at, and consider, the different degrees,
even if we are not called to carry them all out, as
some of the Saints have done. Our poverty is
according to our Rule, and the spirit of our Society.

i st. Not having anything of our own. We own



260 THE RELIGIOUS LIFE

nothing. Books, clothing, and indeed everything,
given up, and we receive what is necessary from our
Superiors. Do not use the word my. Scratch it
from your vocabularies; all things belong to the
Community.

2d. Do not set the affections on anything. Vol-
untary poverty is not to show itself in the original
choice only, but also in the continued action of the
will not to let our affections be settled on any one
thing. Look at all things as confided to us, and
check all desires, mortifying them.

3d. We are not to desire anything for our
Society; it has been the cause of decay in Religious
Houses; "Transplanted worldliness," as Fr. Benson
calls it. This is a . more subtle temptation. We
think, "how much good we might do if only we had
this and that, etc." Keep such desires in check,
and use what God gives us. As in grace, we have
it given to us as we need it. It is a part of our
poverty, to be willing to work with fewer con-
veniences than we like.

4th. Be content willingly to forego all super-
fluities. It stimulates us when we think how many
men in the world around us not only give up luxuries
but suffer privations for years, that they may at last
accumulate wealth, gain a position, earthly distinc-
tion. Do not fill our Houses with ornaments, or
adorn our cells; have only a Crucifix, and some
picture. Do not make our cells look like a drawing
room. The Blessed Virgin must have had great
taste, and yet but little opportunity of gratifying it;



MEDITATIONS 261

and the lack of harmony in His surroundings must
have been a constant means of wounding our Lord,
with His perfect organization.

It is not well to have the House gloomy. In the
halls and Chapel have devotional pictures. Let
the House be bright and cheerful, especially for
those who go out to scenes of suffering and death.
A contemplative Order does not require ornament;
a commanding view is sufficient. Each Institution
must be legislated for, by itself.

5th. We are not to be eager about necessaries.
In the Religious Life we have to endure a certain
amount of hardness and sometimes have to be with-
out what seem to be necessaries, yet we are not to
grumble, but offer the deprivation to God. Have
no rule which will affect health injuriously; yet
when by God's Will there comes a severe strain,
then for His sake bear it joyfully. If one needs
anything, one is bound to make it known; but if it
is not to be had, then do without it for His sake,
and willingly.

The Saints rejoiced to bear sufferings, and to do
without necessaries for His sake, and learned to
praise Him all the more for it. We, by circum-
stances, are hemmed in; by our life of civilization,
etc. It would keep us from doing as they did;
yet as we rise from the material let us strive to gain
the spiritual power growing out of a life of sacrifice.
The sick, too, may learn to rejoice in the loss of
necessary things. When the body is weak, be glad
to endure in Christ's strength. Sickness is apt to



262 THE RELIGIOUS LIFE

wear away the fervour and strictness of the Religious
Life, but our spiritual strength must not give out
with our physical strength; indeed, we then have
opportunities for greater struggles with ourselves.
We are not then "laid by"; our work then is as
real and true a work as that of the healthy and
strong, if only done in Him.

We stand on the brink of the supernatural and
fear to take the leap; but if we will only plunge
bravely in, we shall find that it sustains and en-
courages us, with Christ's own Power. Then, too,
we wish to get this power before we let the world
go, but we cannot hold on to both. Give up the
world unconditionally and unhesitatingly, and then
shall we know the grace of a life of true and voluntary
poverty undertaken for Christ's sake.

I3TH INSTRUCTION. SPIRITUAL SIDE OF
POVERTY

Besides the loss of external things, we must have
the internal spirit of poverty. We are called to be
poor like our Lord, out of a spirit of love. Enter
into His own joy in the little things of poverty, and
learn to find sweetness in it. "I will have nothing
He did not have." If I am really to be poor, in-
teriorly, I must be like the poor be despised.

I. It brings the loss of honour. We must lose
that which we would otherwise gain, even in doing
good works. We might do them for God and take
praise for it. When praise comes we are not to



MEDITATIONS 263

hold it for our own, but let it pass back, through
us, to Him. When we have done anything well and
are praised for it, look quickly to Him, to see His
approval, His smile. "We thank Thee, dear Lord,
and do everything in Thy Name and for Thee."
It would be a dreadful thing to get our reward here.
We must see if we are looking for praise, expecting
it, and are sad and depressed if we do not have it.
"I am not going to take earthly reward." The
soul is to find her joy in the love of her Lord.

II. A poor man gets no honour; he is very apt
to be looked down upon. Poverty is looked down
upon, and the Religious Life will bring upon us
a certain amount of contempt. Those who are
nearest and dearest to us, Church people and even
pious people, will look down upon us. That is
part of what we have to bear. "The good and the
good fight harder together than the good and the
evil." They will look down upon the life and
despise it. Our Blessed Lord was despised because
He was the son of a carpenter. His companions
were poor fishermen. He was despised for His want
of position.

So the world calls us enthusiastic, foolish, etc.

The Church may look down upon the Religious
Life; it is part of our vow of Poverty, it is like our
dear Lord; so instead of being annoyed and vexed,
we may learn at last to find some comfort in it,
because it unites us to Him.

There have been times when poverty was not
despised, but was rather much praised. That



264 THE RELIGIOUS LIFE

would be no true poverty which was embraced to
gain the world's praise, like giving up our property
as an act of philanthropy.

III. It will bring upon us a certain amount of
contempt for our dear Lord's sake. A poor man
is often unable to defend himself as a rich man can.
Wealth can furnish many advocates. The rich
man has all the resources skilful advocacy can bring.
And so in the Religious Life, we cannot defend
ourselves. We must be poor in that spirit, in a
certain way. We cannot defend ourselves when we
are attacked. When we suffer, when our good
name is taken from us, etc., how much better to
bear it in silence in union with our Blessed Lord.
If we had a love of humiliations, we should re-
joice when we are slighted or spoken against. We
must not defend ourselves, but find a joy in resting
in the Bosom of God. It would do no good to retire
from the world, unless we retire into the Heart of
God, the Being of God.

IV. The poor man is very soon forgotten. In
poverty we are soon put aside and forgotten. In
our Community, as individuals, we become unknown.
In great buildings the workmen are unknown, so we
must be unknown in building up our Community.
We must act in simple, hidden ways, unknown to
men, known to God. We are introduced into a
holy condition where we are hidden in our Commu-
nity. We must look to be often set aside, we only
help to carry on a work. Nothing is more beautiful
than to see one who has been in high position,



MEDITATIONS 265

perhaps Superior, take a low one; we must con-
sider what is best for the interests of the Community,
what is God's Will, and give it up with joy.

V. Riches give men certain advantages in spir-
itual things; minor ones, to be sure. The rich man
can live where he chooses, put his house near the
Church where he wishes to worship; or live at a
distance and have a carriage to convey him to the
Church. He can build a Church, have a Church
in his own house, etc.

But a poor man must live where he can get work;
it may be in a place where there is no Church. He
is deprived of many spiritual privileges. So will
this apply to Religious. You may be nursing,
teaching, far away, where you cannot have the daily
services, but it is a part of our poverty.

Our Lord was 'driven out of the Holy Land into
Egypt. The Holy Family learned detachment in
Egypt but they had Jesus with them, and so may we
have Him in our heart. We do not come to the
Religious Life to have more religious privileges, but
to be united to our Blessed Lord; united to Him
in a special way, and by special means; every trial
will be a means of uniting us to our Lord, our Spouse;
He felt trials, so do we.

We by our poverty also cannot have such services
or Churches as rich men have; all services in our
sanctuaries must be offerings to our Blessed Lord.
Our poverty must be real, we must seek to grow in
the interior spirit of poverty, in union with our
Lord. A poor man must work for his master, as



266 THE RELIGIOUS LIFE

his master wishes, so we must work for our Master,
our Spouse. Always work for His interests, and
for what is best for the Community.

There are two ways in which we must specially
seek to grow.

1. To grow in intense devotion to our Lord.
Let it be a personal union with a personal Lord.
Be gathered into His own life, growing day by day
by interior acts, offering little things to Him; put-
ting down phases of feeling. Every pain, every
interruption, every sacrifice, is only a way of uniting
us more and more to Him.

2. Community Spirit. Cast out everything op-
posed to it; esteem others better than ourselves;
be of one heart and one mind; the work will take

care of itself.



I4TH INSTRUCTION. CHASTITY I

Let us consider some of its excellencies. By
poverty we give up external things, and also internal
things. It has been said, that by Chastity we give
up our own bodies, our own wills; by Poverty, we
acknowledge our nothingness, but that is not all.

By chastity we cleave to God. By poverty, too,
we cleave to God, by a common sympathy. Pov-
erty unites us to our Lord by

1. A community of want.

2. Detachment from creatures.

3. Sympathy, from common destitution.
Chastity unites us to our dear Lord by the one-



MEDITATIONS 267

ness of our entire oblation of being, along with His
own, to the glory of God and to Himself as God,
and the Spouse of our soul. It is not a mere state
of negation, or apathy, or want, but a cleavage of
the soul to Him in His own act of consecration. In
poverty we share with Him, in His sympathy, a
common suffering, trying together, bearing together:
"Ye are they who have been with Me in My suffer-
ings, etc." Chastity takes us into union with our
Lord's own soul. We are conscious of a thrilling
joy at being possessed by Him, and we willingly
offer up our souls a complete holocaust, in the joy
of being united to Him. This virtue was unrecog-
nized till the coming of our blessed Lord. The Jew
and the heathen knew not of it. It has been said
that the heart could not be entirely given to God,
without bringing God down. The Blessed Virgin
was the first to know she had given her life, in a vow,
to God; she realized the meaning of the prophecy in
Isaiah, as her answer to the Angel shows, and God
accepted her love, and to her He came. Since then
He has ever been the object of intense love, and
drawn man, in his defilement, into the glory of the
life of God. Let us consider some of the particular
excellencies of Chastity.

i. It prepares the soul to receive many virtues;
it tends to make the soul fruitful in grace. When
the soul is undisturbed by the emotions of mere
nature, it is taken into the contemplation of God
and becomes conformed to His Will. Chastity is
the mother of many excellencies.



268 THE RELIGIOUS LIFE

2. It keeps out many sins, even as in poverty;
if one thing is driven out, many evils are driven out
with it. The eye of the conscience is more and
more illuminated and the whole moral being is
strengthened.

3. Chastity is attended by many virtues. She
is a queen with many maids of honour in her train.
Many virtues must be habitually exercised to at-
tain her. She remains no indolent inmate, but is
preserved by much activity. She maintains and
defends her home by constant warfare. She is the
strength of the weak, and of those who have over-
come many temptations. She brings with her,
humility, meekness, watchfulness, prayer and bodily
mortification; these are her handmaidens. The
soul cannot open to her, and not give a home to all
her retinue; it is so excellent.

4. It brings into the soul manifold gifts from our
Blessed Lord. He hearkens to the soul offering to
Him the virtue He loves, and to such the mysteries
of God are revealed. He would have us be His,
and His only; He hears our cries. "Blessed are the
pure in heart, for they shall see God." God watches
over such as the apple of His Eye, on them He
delights to pour out His graces. The soul is to be
His in the embrace of life hereafter, and He loves to
expend His grace in the purification and adornment
of His Bride; as Esther was prepared before entering
the King's Court. All things are placed at her
disposal; she parts with all, that she may have all;
she wants no earthly gift, that so she may have Him



MEDITATIONS 269

Who is her soul's Treasure. He adorns the soul He
loves with the graces and merits which He won.
It is an honourable stimulus in earthly life to give
of one's triumph to those loved best. How much
greater, then, His love, the true Knight, the Prince,
the King of Kings. He wrestled here with the
powers of darkness, and stormed the gates of heaven
for love of us, to bestow His graces upon us.

5. Chastity raises the soul to Him to whom it is
espoused. Blessed is the soul that is given up to
the contemplation of Jesus, the love of Jesus, and
nothing else. He is not espoused for His gifts, or
His wealth, but for Himself, with no mercenary
motive; not even because we desire our own salva-
tion, merely; but being already saved or redeemed,
we catch sight of the beauty of the Divine Life, that
shines out in the glorified humanity of our Lord.
His life shines through humanity, and in humanity
He acts out His divine life. In humanity we see
the wisdom, love, beauty, etc., of God not as sub-
stances or material things, but as actions. And
the soul sees this beauty as it gazes on its Lord, and
she cannot gaze on it without catching something of
His likeness.

5. Chastity fills the soul with delight. The soul
learns to deal with manifold temptations, by virtue
of this vow, and to rest through them all in the power
of Jesus. Every vow involves us in warfare. When
we come to carry it out, we see how great, how many
things are involved. It is to purify our hearts of
earthly motives and tendencies. We come to



270 THE RELIGIOUS LIFE

mortify our affections, and it does involve many
trials, but He is with us.

"So they two went on together,
So they two won many a field;
If He for us, who against us?
If He succour, who can yield? "

The soul rests in the power of her Lord, and here-
in is her delight. She lives not by her own struggles,
her past attainments, but knows underlying is the
power of her dear Lord. He puts hand to hand,
heart to heart, will to will. The soul is trained little
by little, as she feels her own weakness, her own
insufficiency. Under His moulding hand, the soul
is made anew, and every manifestation of His Power,
in conquering temptation or otherwise, gives her
delight. She says, "It is my Lord." "My Beloved
is mine, and I am His." He is pledged to me by the
verity of His own Life within me. "My Beloved
is mine," and the soul desires nothing more. In
my littleness and weakness, I am His.

I5TH INSTRUCTION. CHASTITY II

What the vow of chastity involves. It binds the soul
to her Lord in a special way; she becomes Christ's
bride; she finds her duties typified for her in those
of a wife towards her husband.

i. It involves dedication of our being and facul-
ties to Him, body and soul. There are different
degrees of this virtue. It is given to different Orders
to illustrate each a special virtue, and it is thus also
given to different individuals; each soul is taught of



MEDITATIONS 271

God. This dedication of ourselves, both body and
soul, leads us to think that this vow compels us to
give our mental powers, as well as physical and moral,
to our Blessed Lord. If we strive to cultivate in-
tellect, or any power or gift, place it under this head;
we must not be only trying to improve ourselves as
people in the world, but as a part of our dedication
to Him. If a woman is raised from a common posi-
tion in life by marriage, she at once seeks to fit her-
self to fill the higher one. This is what we are doing
when we cultivate any gift, etc. Do everything
to fit ourselves more and more to be His brides; see
that everything is brought into subjection to this
Rule of Life, to be conformed to Him and His pur-
poses. This requires discipline; then mortification
and discipline will come under this head, and are,
we see, connected with this vow. A Religious
takes especial care of her body as well as her soul;
is very particular about everything relating in any
way to "Modestia"; guardianship of the senses;
the eyes, for instance, not gazing everywhere; sub-
jecting this sense, and all others.

Controlled in gait and postures, never lounging;
never using violent demonstrations or exclamations;
no loud talking or laughing. To do this involves a
struggle. This special purity, and "angelic purity,"
are far different. Angels are differently constituted.
Our natures are composite; we glorify God by sub-
duing the material within us to the spiritual. This
the Angels cannot do, for they have no material in
their natures.



272 THE RELIGIOUS LIFE

Our offering is the result of a struggle and final
victory; it has a special victory of its own. The
Angels give of their given gift. Consider the glory
of chastity in the other world. All our faculties
will there be spiritualized and find their delight
in spiritual objects. By this struggle and by our
poverty, by the triumph wrought out in us by our
Blessed Lord, we are prepared to delight in the
revelation that is to come. The minutia of disci-
pline in the Religious Life is not merely to keep back
evil tendencies, but that the faculties may expand
to everlasting beauty, and the fuller reception of the
joys of our Lord.

2. We must give up our affections to our Lord
Jesus. Learn to rest on Christ in entire love; give
up the whole soul and not divide it between Him and
the world, just as a wife must centre her affections
undividedly on her husband, so that the love of those
nearest and dearest is as nothing, compared with
His love. So the soul strives after a purified heart
and detachment from all creatures and earthly love,
and trains her affections to Him.

Detachment. Be watchful not to grow in liking
any particular person. Always cultivate a certain
reserve about familiarities in expressions, closeness
of intimacies, etc., all over-anxious remembrances of
persons, gifts and tokens, etc. When once sepa-
rated, be not over-anxious for meeting again; no
jealousies in the heart. Give this love to our Lord,
by converse with Him, by constant listening to His
inspirations, seeking to enter into His own life, thus



MEDITATIONS 273

reposing on His Heart like St. John on Christ's
Bosom. Not simply as one weary and wanting rest,
but as listening to the beating of that Sacred Heart
which is beating for us; every throb for us, every
utterance one of love. The soul is thus intent upon
the stirrings of that Divine Life which He is giving
to her, and this not only when we come to His feet
as sinners. When we listen to this inmost stirring,
the soul develops in this union of affection; not only
believes He is Divine, taking it in intellectually, but
studies Him so closely, lovingly, and reverently,
that we see the Divine life shining out in His actions.
As a part of our faith we know He is God, and recog-
nize it in His miracles, etc., but let us strive to study
Him so closely that we may see it in His most ordi-
nary actions, etc. In the least expression we must
see shining forth the Life of God. See the inner
meaning of all His life and know His motives, and
study His life that we may fully appreciate it.
Place the ear of the soul right close to His dear
Heart, and listen to the stirrings within, and thus
train our affections to Him. He says, "The Son
doeth nothing of Himself but what He seeth the
Father do." Let us, then, do only that which we
see our Lord do.

3. Our life must be fruitful by reason of our
espousals. The power of Christ upon the soul de-
voted to Him, gives it a supernatural fruitfulness.
Fruit is the result of our union and gives us a power
for action far beyond our own nature. Our union
is from love, suffering, and contemplation. "We



274 THE RELIGIOUS LIFE

will share all the worse of earth, for all the better
of heaven," as His spouse. It is only by this union
that we do become fruitful. When our own nature
mingles in our work we spoil it; our own quick-
silver ruins the gold of His Life in us.

Purity, to see God. See Him, to do His work.
Seeing His works, see Him. In the power that gives,
bring fruit for Him; do nothing in our own natural
power, but everything in and by His power. Be
diligent in our work to work for love of Christ, and


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