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good or bad intention with which we perform our actions makes them good or bad in the eyes of God. St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi says: "God rewards our actions in proportion to the purity of inten"tion with which we perform them." Let us consider how to reduce this to practice.
First. We must seek God in all our exercises, and not ourselves: if we seek our own satisfaction, we must not expect to receive any reward from God, and this, even in spiritual exercises. How many labour and fatigue themselves in preaching, hearing confessions, serving, and other pious works, and because in these they seek themselves instead of God, lose all they do? The proof of our having done something for God is when we do not seek for approbation and praise from others; when we are not disturbed at the failure of our good undertakings; when we are pleased with any thing good, not so much when it has been done by ourselves, as when it has been done by others. For the rest, having done a good action to please God, we need not perplex ourselves about rejecting vain glory, when praised for what we have done; it will be sufficient to say: "To God be all honour and glory." We should not omit good actions which may give edification to our neighbour for fear of vain glory: God desires that we should do good actions before others, that others may profit by them: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. St. Matt. v. 16. When, therefore, you do good actions, have an intention of first pleasing God, and of then giving good example to your neigh
Secondly.--We must perform also our corporal actions, such as our labour, eating, drinking, sleeping, and diversions, with a view to please God. Purity of intention is called a celestial alchymy,
by which iron is made gold: that is to say, the most ordinary and trivial actions, when done to please God, become acts of divine love. St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi says: "He who performs all "his actions with a pure intention, will go straight "to heaven." A certain holy hermit, who, before putting his hand to any work, was accustomed to raise his eyes to heaven, and to keep them in that position for a certain time, being asked what he was doing, answered: "I am taking aim, that I I may hit the mark." We must do in like manner; before beginning any action, we must take our aim, saying: "Lord, I do this to please thee."
SECT. VII. The practice of avoiding tepidity.
THOSE Who make but small account of venial sins, and abandon themselves to tepidity without any thoughts of rousing themselves from it, live in a state of great danger. It is not those venial sins that are committed through mere frailty, such as useless words, interior disturbances, slight negligences, and the like, which are here spoken of, but those venial sins which are voluntary, particularly if habitual. St. Teresa says: "God can deliver us from deliberate sin, even the most trivial." Father Alvarez says: "Trivial lies, slight aversions, "or acts of culpable curiosity, small acts of impa"tience, or of intemperance, do not indeed kill the
soul, but they weaken it so much, that, on the "assault of any grievous temptation, it will not "have strength to resist and will fall." So that deliberate venial sins while they weaken the soul, deprive it of the divine assistance; for it is just that God should deal sparingly with those who act sparingly towards him: He who sows sparingly, shall also reap sparingly. 2 Cor. ix. 6. And on this account, those should be particularly afraid
who have received special graces from God. Still more should those fear, whose venial sins are committed with an attachment to some passion, as ambition, or covetousness, or aversion, or inordinate affection towards another. To such persons it not unfrequently happens as to gamesters, who having lost a great deal, say at last: "All may go," and finish by losing all they are worth. How wretched is the poor soul that is bound by passion, which blinds her, and will not suffer her to see what she does. Let us attend to the practice, and see what we must do to deliver ourselves from this miserable state of tepidity.
First. We must have a sincere desire to be freed from it. A good will lessens fatigue and gives strength to go forward. And we must be convinced that in the way of God, he who does not go forward goes backward; and will continue to go backward till he falls down some precipice.
Secondly. We must endeavour to discover the vice which prevails most over us, as anger, ambition, inordinate affections to persons or property; a resolute will, with the help of God, overcomes every thing.
Thirdly. We must avoid the occasions of our sins, otherwise all our resolutions will fall to the ground.
Fourthly. We must, above all, be diffident of our own strength, and continually pray to God to help us in danger, and to deliver us from those temptations through which we may fall into sin: this is the meaning of that prayer: Lead us not into temptation. He who prays, obtains: Ask and you shall receive. St Luke iv. 9. It is the promise of God which cannot fail; and hence we must always pray, and cease not to repeat to ourselves: "We must pray always, we must pray always; O my "God help me, make haste to help me.'
SECT. VIII. The practice of devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
With regard to this devotion, I hope, dear reader, that you are fully persuaded of how great advantage it is towards securing salvation to be devout to the Blessed Virgin. And if you would be more thoroughly convinced of it, read The Glories of Mary. Here we speak only of those things which may be practised in order to obtain the protection of the holy Mother of God.
First.-Every morning and evening, rising and going to bed you may say three Hail Maries, and add this short prayer: "Through thy pure and im"maculate conception, O holy Mary, purify my "body and sanctify my soul." And place yourself under her protection that she may preserve you from sin during the day or night. As often as you hear the clock strike you may say a Hail Mary and do the same on entering or going out of your house or when you pass any statue of the Blessed Virgin. Also at the beginning or end of any employment, whether temporal or spiritual, as studying, working, eating, or sleeping, you may say a Hail Mary.
Secondly. You may say the rosary, with meditations on the mysteries, every day, or at least five mysteries. Many devout persons say the Office of the Blessed Virgin; at least it would be well to say the Little Office, of the Name of Mary, which is very short, composed of five short psalms.
Thirdly. You may say every day an Our Father and a Haily Mary in honour of the Blessed Trinity, in thanksgiving for the graces and favours conferred on Mary. The Blessed Virgin once revealed to a certain devout person that this devotion was very acceptable to her.
Fourthly. You may fast on Saturdays in honour
of Mary, or on the vigils of her principal feasts, in the ordinary way, or restrict yourself to one kind of food, or abstain from any kind of meat that you are particularly fond of. In a word perform some mortification on a Saturday, and on the vigils above mentioned, out of devotion to this Queen of heaven, who, according to St. Andrew of Crete, is "accustomed to bestow great favours in return for such little things."
Fifthly. You may make a visit every day to your protectress, and beg of her holy perseverance and the love of Jesus Christ.
Sixthly. You may read every day some book concerning the Blessed Virgin, or say at least some prayer to her. For this purpose are placed prayers to Mary for every day in the week, in Chap. II, Sect. VII. of this third part.
Seventhly. You may perform Novenas on the seven principal feasts of Mary, and request your confessor to point out to you what devotions and mortifications will be most proper for you on such occasions; or you may say nine Hails Maries, and the Glory be the Father nine times, and seek to obtain from her, on each day of the novenas, some particular favour which you most desire.
Lastly. Recommend yourself frequently in the course of the day to this divine Mother, and particularly in time of temptation, saying and repeating: "Mary help me; holy Mother of God, help "me." And if you are devout to Mary, endeavour to gain over as many as you are able of your relations, friends, and servants to be devout to the Holy Mother of God.
SECT. IX. Practical means of acquiring the love of Jesus Christ.
JESUS CHRIST ought to possess our whole love. He is indeed deserving of it, because he is a God