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me? Yes, I have deserved hell, and thou, in order to deliver me from eternal death hast been pleased to be condemned to death upon the cross! In a word, in order to pardon me, thou wouldst not pardon thyself, and shall I ever be so base as to offend thee again during the remainder of my life? No, my Saviour, I owe thee too much, I am too much obliged to love thee. Behold I am thine, do

with me what thou pleasest, I will endeavour to please thee in all things.

II. He was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins. Isa. liii. 5. Behold my soul, behold thy God scourged at a pillar in Pilate's hall, crowned with thorns, wounded from head to foot, and his whole body mangled and streaming with blood; hear how he lovingly says to thee: My son, see what thou hast cost me. Ah my sweet Saviour, thou hast suffered so much for me, and how could I have repaid all thy love with so many offences! Thou, to save me from being lost, has suffered so many torments, and I have lost thee for a mere nothing! O accursed sinful pleasures, I hate and detest you; you have been the cause of all the sufferings of my Saviour for me.

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III. St. Margaret of Cortona, when she meditated on the sufferings of Christ, could not restrain herself from excessively bewailing her sins. One day her confessor said to her: "Margaret cease to weep: for God has pardoned thee." But hear what the penitent sinner answered: "Ah father, "how can I think of no longer bewailing my sins, "while I remember that they afflicted my dear Redeemer, during the whole of his life?" My beloved Jesus, I also must have afflicted thee during thy life, by my sins. St. Margaret knew how to bewail her sins, and to love thee, but when shall I begin really to bewail mine, when shall I begin really to love thee? I am sorry, my sovereign

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good, for having afflicted thee. I love thee, my dear Redeemer, more than myself. O draw my whole heart to thee, and enflame it entirely with thy holy love; suffer me not to live any more ungrateful for the many graces which thou hast bestowed upon me. Holy Mary, you can powerfully assist me by your holy intercession to become holy; do this I beseech you, for the love of Jesus Christ.

Meditation Ninety-sixth.

On the happiness of possessing the grace of God, and the misery of being deprived of it.

I. MAN knows not the value of divine grace, and hence he exchanges it for a mere nothing. It is a treasure of infinite value. The gentiles said it was impossible for a creature to become the friend of God. But no; divine grace induces God to call the soul that possesses it his friend: You are my friends, said our Blessed Saviour, to his disciples. St. John, xv. 14. When therefore, O God, my soul was in the state of grace, it was thy friend; but by sin it became the slave of the devil and thine enemy. I give thee thanks for affording me time to recover thy grace. I am sorry, O Lord, with my whole heart for having lost it; in thy pity restore it to me, and suffer me not to lose it any more.

II. How fortunate should that man esteem himself who becomes the friend of his king. It would be presumption for a vassal to expect that his prince should make him his friend; but it is not presumption for the soul to aspire to be the friend of God. If I would become a friend of Cæsar, (said a certain courtier, as St. Augustin relates,) I should have great difficulty in becoming such, but

if I would become the friend of God, I am already his friend. An act of contrition and of love makes us the friends of God. St. Peter of Alcantara said: "No tongue can express the greatness of the love of "Jesus for a soul in the state of his grace." O my God, am I in thy grace or not? I certainly know that at one time I had lost it, and who knows whether I have regained it? O Lord, I love thee, and am sorry for having offended thee, make haste to par

don me.

III. Oh how great on the contrary, is the misery of a soul that is fallen from the state of grace! She is separated from the sovereign good. She belongs no more to God, and God belongs no more to her. She is no longer loved by God, but hated and abhorred by him. Before, he blessed her as his child, but now, he curses her as his enemy. Such is the unhappy state in which I was, O God, when I had forfeited thy grace. I hope I have arisen from my unhappy condition, but if I have not, hasten, Ŏ Jesus, to rescue me from it. Thou hast promised to love those who love thee. I love thee, my sovereign good, do thou love me; and may I hope never again to be deprived of thy love. Holy Mary, succour me your humble client: I commend myself to your patronage.

Meditation Ninety-seventh.

On conformity to the will of God.

I. THE first effect of love is the union of wills. The most high God, because he loves us, would have us love him, and hence he demands our hearts, that is, our wills: My son, give me thy heart. Prov. xxxiii. 26. Our whole life and salvation depend

upon our uniting our wills to the will of God, which is the only rule of what is just and perfect: Life, says the psalmist, is in his will. Ps. xxix. 6. He who is united to the will of God, lives and is saved: but he who separates himself from it, dies and is lost. No, my God, I will never more separate myself from whatever thou desirest of me. Give me grace to love thee, and dispose of me as thou pleasest.

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II. This is the great object of all those who love God, to conform themselves at all times to his divine will. And this is what Jesus taught us to pray for, that we may be able to fulfil the will of God here upon earth with as much perfection as the blessed do in heaven: " Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven." St. Teresa made an offering of her will to God, at least fifty times every day, in this, imitating David, who said: My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready. Ps. lvi. 8. Ah how effectually does one perfect act of conformity to the will of God change the sinner into a saint, as it happened to St. Paul, who by only saying to God: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" from a persecutor of the church was changed into an apostle and vessel of election. O my God, I will never more lament the tribulations which thou shalt send me. I know that all will be for my good. I will say always: Lord, may thy holy will be ever accomplished. As thou willest, so do I will. Thy will be done. As it hath pleased the Lord, so be it done."

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III. The most certain sign of the soul's loving God, is its peaceful conformity to the will of God in all adverse occurrences, such as poverty, sickness, losses and ruin. In the afflictions which happen to us from the malice of men, we should consider not the stone which strikes us, but the hand of God who casts it. God does not will the sin of those who deprive us of our goods, reputa

tion or life; but that we should accept such afflictions as coming from his hands, and should say as Job did when his goods were taken from him: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done. blessed be the name of the Lord. Job. i. 21. O my God, I have not done in this manner; how often, to follow my own will, have I despised thine! But then I did not love thee; now I do love thee more than myself; I embrace all thy divine appointments, and desire to do whatever thou pleasest. But thou knowest my weakness, enable me therefore by thy assistance to accomplish what I now resolve. Ŏ holy will of God, thou shalt be from henceforward my whole love. Holy Mary, obtain for me the grace ever to do the will of God, during the remainder of my life.

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