Friday, 20 October 2017

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 12

by Boudreaux, Florentin, 1821-1894

Chapter III. Meekness and Humility in Practice. 

"Son, humble thy heart and endure; and in thy humiliation keep patience." Eccli. ii. and 4. 

WE have hardly crossed the threshold of the Paradise of the Sacred Heart, and yet we have already come upon two plants of such surpassing loveliness and of such sovereign healing virtue, that we need not regret having been delayed by them; and we may well permit them to detain us a little longer, not only that we may enjoy their refreshing beauty, but also that we may derive from them some lasting profit to our souls. Indeed, it were useless to proceed, before having received the benefit of their healing virtue. We must learn well the first lesson we receive from the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We cannot learn any other until we have thoroughly mastered this. Humility is the groundwork of all virtue, the foundation of all spiritual edification. We must not attempt to raise the tower of perfection until we have laid this foundation; else our labour will be vain, and our building will fall in ruins about us long before it reaches its destined height. In this chapter we place meekness and humility together, because when speaking of practise, it is difficult to separate them. Meekness is the fruit of humility, the exterior, visible effect of the hidden virtue. Meekness is the garb in which humility appears. Humility is the root, buried deep in the earth ; the inner portion or heart of the tree. Meekness is the outer part, the leaves, blossoms and fruit. It is that which we first perceive and from it we can trace the root ; we know that the root is there, and that all the growth and vigour and beauty and wealth of the lovely plant come from it and are due to it. It is for this reason that meekness precedes humility in the first lesson given us by the loving Heart of Jesus. The effect is seen before the cause ; the exterior virtue before the secret source from which it springs. But for us, the disciples of the Sacred Heart, for us who come, destitute of virtue, to Him from whom we may acquire it, humility must be the first study, because we can never be meek until we are humble; we cannot enjoy the fruit, until we have planted the root and developed it into the tree which will bear the coveted burthen. There is something indescribably beautiful in the character of the Saints ; something irresistibly attractive in the manner of persons whose souls are filled with the Spirit of God. They are so meek, so gentle, so unselfish; there is about them such an atmosphere of peaceful serenity, a halo of soft and delicious cheerfulness, that we cannot help wondering why it is that they are so different from other men ; we cannot help thinking that they must be blessed with more than earthly happiness. It is the sweetest repose to be with them, it is refreshment after labour, consolation in sorrow, encouragement in affliction. Their smile is ever cheering, their sympathy is never at fault; they seem to have no sorrows of their own to divert their thoughts- to themselves, but to hold all their zealous interest, all their soothing compassion, all their active solicitude, entirely at our service, and that with such artless candour and unselfish sincerity, that we feel almost as if we were conferring a favour on them, by pouring our sorrows into their bosoms, and permitting them to wipe our tears away. They are not to be wearied by importunity ; not soured by ingratitude ; not saddened by failure. We may sometimes think that they are not equally kind and attentive to others as to ourselves ; we may happen to be of the favoured few, whose position, wealth or influence merits for us that distinguishing affability. It is not so. The true man of God is all to all, ever mild and gentle and com- passionate, whether he is frequented by the great ones of the earth, or surrounded by the poor and the ignorant. He does not spurn the ragged beggar, nor the unlettered and unmannered child. He smiles on all alike, he draws all hearts to him, and wins the confidence of all that approach him. What is that hidden charm ? What is that wondrous  magic? Whence comes that sweetly irresistible attraction? The Saints are meek and humble of heart ; this is their magic and their charm. They have banished from their hearts the unfeeling selfishness which pride engenders ; they have schooled their hearts to meekness by endurance. They care not for the honours of earth, nor do they fear its frown. The world cannot harm them, because they care neither for what it can give not for what it can take away. Their hearts are like the Heart of Jesus; they have learned of Jesus to be meek and humble of heart. But we too must learn the same lesson; for we have entered the same school and are listening to the same heavenly Teacher. We have been admitted into the same Paradise, and may eat of the same fruit. So far from being forbidden to eat of it, we are invited and urged to partake. Here the history of the ancient Paradise is reversed. There God forbade and Satan commanded to eat. There the inordinate ambition to be like unto God was punished with a fall from the state and grace which God had bestowed.