21. APOSTOLATE OF DESIRES
Ducam eam in solitudinem...1 I shall lead her out into the wilderness and I shall speak to her heart. Solitude is indeed the place where we can hear God. When we are amid noise, conversations, entertainment with people, God speaks less because he waits for the moment when he can be listened to. Then, he opens his heart, communicates his inmost sentiments, makes his holy desires be understood.
When someone really loves the Lord, he/she has holy desires. Why is it that holy desires are also called apostolate? It is because they come from the love of God and tend towards Him.
Desires can be of many kinds: good, indifferent, bad. If somebody wants to avenge himself for a wrong received, his is a bad desire; whereas, if a person desires a particular vegetable at table in place of another, he makes an indifferent desire. Good desires are: desire for perfection, love of God; if one desires the glory of God, salvation of souls, then, these are apostolic desires.
When the Son of God was incarnated, the angels in the grotto sang: Glory to God in high heaven, peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests.1 Jesus came into the world to bring about the glory of God and salvation of souls, and the Angels sang the desires of his little heart.
There are persons who in their life, ought not do real apos-tolate of deeds, but apostolate of prayer, good example, interior life, holy desires. St.Theresa1 is known for the apostolate of holy desires. Think of the conquest of her first sinner, Pranzini,2 and how she was listened to by the Lord.
There are desires which constitute the most ardent apostolate: Holy be your Name, your Kingdom come, your will be done.1 Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (To God's greater glory) was the incessant yearning of St. Ignatius:2 that God be glorified, loved, obeyed, revered by all, throughout all the earth. Blessed be God, blessed be his Holy Name, blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, blessed be the Name of Jesus...3 all are holy desires, all are apostolate that concern the glory of God. Apostolate is the flower of charity and the first charity to be practiced is towards God, desiring his glory. The Divine Master during his earthly life, had always desired the glory of the Father: I seek his glory.4 This is the first desire.
Second desire: to seek for the good of souls. Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy; blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception; blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother; blessed be St. Joseph her most chaste Spouse; blessed be God in his Angels and in his Saints.1 These four expressions concern the desire for the glory of Mary Most Holy, St. Joseph, of all the Angels and Saints.
Our Lady spoke and asked great things to the children of Fatima.1 But what could they have desired if not that which our Lady wanted? The holy desires reach the sinners, children, poor, infidels, sick. It is impossible to do good works without good desires.
In the morning we tell Him: Deus, Deus meus, ad te de luce vigilo2 (God, you are my God, I am seeking you). How many desires are expressed in the Song of Songs! Between the bride and the bridegroom, there is a mutual desire of love; between them an intimate, perfect union which is the union of life is established. Everything that the bridegroom wants and loves, the bride also wants and loves.
Daniel, named the prophet of the Incarnation, was called by God himself: vir desideriorum3 (you are a man specially chosen). Holy desires please God and he grants them.
St. Francis de Sales4 used to say: I had few desires and God had granted me all these few. All holy desires are summed up in these: that the Lord may be known, loved, glorified; that all souls may be saved and be holy.
The Most Holy Virgin practiced the apostolate of holy desires. What ardent desires did not come from her soul, so as to hasten the incarnation of the Word. She used to repeat the words of the prophets: Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant ius-tum!...aperiatur terra et germinet Salvatorem.1 Egredietur Virga de radice Iesse et flos de radice eius ascendet.2 (Send victory like a dew, you heavens and let the clouds rain it down...Let the earth open for salvation to spring up. A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots). Blessed is the flower brought forth by this blessed twig.
With her desires, the Holy Virgin hastened the coming of the Messiah, the incarnation of the Word.
May you also have desires which hasten the time of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. St. Theresa1 desired to go to Paradise, that she could send a rain of roses on earth. She did so and continues to do it. Jesus listens to holy desires and desires are always holy, when they aim for the glory of God, for our sanctification, for the sanctification of our neighbor. These are graces that God surely grants.
Mary Most Holy had also other desires: that her Son may shed his blood for the salvation of humanity, that he may manifest
himself to peoples. Ten days after the Ascension, she yearned for the Holy Spirit, she desired that the Church might be born, that the Apostles might accomplish their mission. Then, she yearned for heaven. As the deer longs for running streams, so longs my soul for you, my God.1
Do you really desire that the Church be extended? that the religious be fervent? that the clergy be holy? Do you desire that Jesus in the Eucharist be adored, that your Sisters may tend to perfection? What are your desires? are they ardent or are they weak, cold, indifferent? Do you desire that the children be conserved in their innocence, that vocations be multiplied? Do you think of the sinners, of the dying? Do you desire that blasphemy may cease, that Sunday may be sanctified, that charity may reign in the world? Examine a bit if there is something in your desires which is less orderly, which does not correspond to the will of God. Get into the spirit of your vocation well; you should be of one heart with Jesus' Heart, like St. Paul: Quis me separabit a caritate Christi?1 (Who will separate me from the love of Christ?)
If you really love Jesus, you have to look for, to study what pleases him, to ardently desire the glory of the Father and the propagation of faith. Jesus desires much the salvation of souls and he wants, above all, that your souls be holy, beautiful, all his, never to disgust him.
The religious is not really Jesus' Spouse, unless she has the same desires, same will as Jesus and she cares for his honor.
In the wedding feast, there are different kinds of persons at the reception: there are the paid servers; the children who are thinking of how to settle themselves down; there are friends, the invited ones who intend to make feast and to thank. On the other hand, there are the spouses; between the bride and the bridegroom, the relations are much more intimate. They have one heart, one intention, one life. You are not the servers, nor those invited, or just the children! You are the Brides of Jesus! It is permissible for others to have different desires, for you, no! You ought to have the desires of Jesus, your Bridegroom.
In the holy Gospel, besides the three principal counsels, Jesus still gave others, at least ten more. You should embrace them all. It is the spirit of the Pious Disciple and fits in your special vocation: to embrace all the desires of the Heart of Jesus. If you will be silent, if your teacher and guide will be the Gospel, you will see much progress and how in a year's time you will understand more your vocation.
Your Institute demands great perfection and therefore, is a way towards greater holiness. Take the Gospel tonight, and consider attentively the words of Jesus. You are called to take them all and to make them all yours. Do not look for ascetic books that form a lukewarm piety, but the Gospel and consequently, solid piety.
Meditate word by word and begin from the Incarnation. Jesus, you loved Mary, I want to have your love for her, I want to be her true daughter, I want to hide myself within her Heart.
The Imitation of Christ also interprets well the desires of the Heart of Jesus. The way would be endless and I would not stop talking, nevertheless, I include everything here: may you be of one heart with the Heart of Jesus.
It is necessary to instruct well the aspirants, postulants and novices on certain matters. It is unnecessary to talk at length in preaching, as you can talk about them in teaching, in conferences. There are aspirants in the religious life (and I speak without referring to anybody in particular), who, without knowing it, in good faith, get accustomed to bad things and when they become aware of it, they are no longer capable of correcting themselves. During your particular pastimes, enlighten, instruct, make distinct-ions: this is sin, this is not!, otherwise, strange, wrong conscience is formed and one does not walk on the right path. As to some matters, only a very elderly person may speak about them. In these recent years, volumes had been written about hygiene and medicine in relation to morals. It would be good for the elderly Sisters to learn for themselves and become capable to enlighten others. I refer specially to that which concerns the sixth commandment.
1 Hos. 2, 14.
1 Lk. 2, 14.
1 St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (1873-1897).
2 Cf. Story of a soul, (Milan, Ancora, 1957), pp. 121-123.
1 Mt. 6, 9-10.
2 St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founder of the Society of Jesus.
3 Cf. The Prayers of the Pauline Family, p. 103.
4 Cf. Jn. 8, 50. The exact text is : Ego autem non quaero gloriam meam.
1 Cf. The Prayers of the Pauline Family, p. 103.
1 The children of Fatima are: Francisco Marto (1908-1919), Giacinta Marto (1910-1920), Lucia Dos Santos, still living.
2 Ps. 62, 2.
3 Dn. 9, 23.
4 St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), Doctor of the Church.
1 Is. 45, 8.
2 Is. 11, 1.
1 St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (1873- 1897).
1 Ps. 41, 2.
1 Rom. 8, 35: Quis ergo nos separabit a caritate Christi?