Catholics are encouraged to do a lot of spiritual reading in between all of our daily duties. Lucky for us, there are many spiritual classics from which to choose. In addition to these great books, saints have spoken out on many topics over the last 2000 years, and some of the things that they have said are real gems for the soul. Sometimes, words can cut to the heart of what we are currently experiencing, so let’s take a look at some of these quotes.
St. Alphonsus Liguori
One of the easiest saints to read and understand is St. Alphonsus, the patron saint of arthritis sufferers. Here is one of his best:
“Who knows? Perhaps if God had given us greater talent, better health, a more personable appearance, we might have lost our souls! Great talent and knowledge have caused many to be puffed up with the idea of their own importance and, in their pride, they have despised others. How easily those who have these gifts fall into grave danger to their salvation! How many on account of physical beauty or robust health have plunged headlong into a life of debauchery! How many, on the contrary, who, by reason of poverty, infirmity or physical deformity, have become saints and have saved their souls, who, given health, wealth or physical attractiveness had else lost their souls! Let us then be content with what God has given us. “But one thing is necessary,” and it is not beauty, not health, not talent. It is the salvation of our immortal souls.”
Here we see that most of us ordinary folks are really fortunate not to be glamorous and super-talented. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with having those qualities, because these gifts came from God. The problem is that sometimes the really beautiful and talented people think that they are better than the rest us due to their God-given looks and super abilities. In reality, no one is better than the next person due to talent or looks, but in the world today, the have-nots tend to look up to these people, and the stars among us really seem to expect adulation. The goal of life is to worship almighty God, not movie stars and athletes!
St. John Vianney
The patron saint of parish priests, St. John Vianney, was a mystic of the church, and he had a lot of great things to say. Here is one of his classic quotes:
“All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.”
What this outstanding saint is saying is that each and every Mass is Calvary revisited. Martyrs who sacrifice their lives for others are wonderful and holy individuals, but their deaths are just the death of man for God. The Mass, however, is the re-presentation of the death of God for man, which is infinite in its merits. In reality, the greatest thing any of us can do is to attend Mass to get our daily bread in the Eucharist.
“I tell you that you have less to suffer in following the cross than in serving the world and its pleasures.”
So true! As most wayward Catholics know, if you go off of the deep end and sin mortally for fun and pleasure, the devil’s payback is tortuous beyond comprehension. Having “fun” while sinning mortally is an open invitation for lots and lots of pain later on. A word to the wise – “the wages of sin is death!”
The Revelations of St. Bridget
St. Bridget, the patron saint of Europe, was a 14th century nun from Sweden who had a LOT of visions of Jesus and His Passion. Her Revelations are a true gold mine of spiritual nuggets. Here is one of the best:
“The Son of God spoke to his bride, saying: “I am the Creator of heaven and earth, and it is my true body that is consecrated on the altar. Love me with all your heart, because I have loved you and delivered myself up to my enemies of my own free will, while my friends and my Mother were left in bitter grief and mourning. When I saw the lance, the nails, the whips, and the other instruments of suffering ready, I still went on to suffer with joy. When my head was bleeding on all sides from the crown of thorns, and blood was flowing on all sides, then, even if my enemies had got hold of my heart as well, I would rather have let it be sundered and wounded than lose you. So you are extremely ungrateful, if, in return for such great charity, you do not love me. If my head was pierced and inclined on the cross for you, your head should be inclined toward humility. Since my eyes were bloody and full of tears, your eyes should keep away from pleasurable sights. Since my ears were filled with blood and heard mocking words against me, your ears should turn aside from frivolous and unfitting talk. Since my mouth was given a bitter drink to drink but was denied a sweet one, keep your own mouth from evil and let it be open for good. Since my hands were stretched out by nails, let your works, which the hands symbolize, be stretched out to the poor and to my commandments. Let your feet, that is, your affections, with which you should walk toward me, be crucified as to lusts, so that, just as I suffered in all my limbs, so may all your limbs be ready to obey me. I demand more service of you than of others, because I have given you a greater grace.”
To sum up, Jesus is saying here that we his followers should not engage in sinful human behavior, because of all of the pains of His passion which affected His body, His senses, and His feelings. We should avoid all sinful pleasures like the plague because of His sorrowful passion. And he demands this of us, because of all of the graces He is showering on us daily.
Blessed Dina Belanger
Blessed Dina Belanger was a Canadian nun who lived in the early 20th Century. She also had a lot of visions with Jesus. Here is what she learned about the power of Eucharistic Adoration, which we should all think about when we adore Christ in the Blessed Sacrament:
“One day before her Holy Hour, Jesus showed Blessed Dina Belanger a multitude of souls on the precipice of hell. After her Holy Hour, Jesus showed the same souls in the hands of God. He told her that through Holy Hours of prayer a multitude of souls go to Heaven who otherwise would have gone to hell as one person can make up for what is lacking in the lives of others by winning precious efficacious graces for their salvation.”
Like the three Wisemen of the Bible, we today can also worship and adore Jesus, through a holy hour of Eucharistic Adoration. Not only does this hour give glory and honor to Jesus, but the benefits also accrue to our souls, and the souls of millions of other humans as well, who have no idea that they are being showered with grace through YOUR holy hour!
St. Faustina was a Polish nun who also lived in the early 20th Century. She also received a lot of visions of Jesus, who instructed her to write it all down in her diary, “Divine Mercy in My Soul.” Reading the words of wisdom in this book are like going on a spiritual retreat led by Christ Himself.
“There is more merit to one hour of meditation on My sorrowful Passion than there is to a whole year of flagellation that draws blood; the contemplation of My painful wounds is of great profit to you, and it brings Me great joy. I am surprised that you still have not completely renounced your self-will, but I rejoice exceedingly that this change will be accomplished during the retreat.”
So now we all know that one hour of meditating on His Sorrowful Passion is more powerful than self-flagellation for a year! It makes Jesus joyful, and benefits us as well, infinitely.
“Know this, My daughter: if you strive for perfection you will sanctify many souls; and if you do not strive for sanctity, by the same token, many souls will remain imperfect. Know that their perfection will depend on your perfection, and the greater part of the responsibility for these souls will fall on you.”
Here we learn that we MUST strive for perfection, not only for our own salvation, but for others as well, which may surprise a lot of us. Yes, our holiness does affect others, and Jesus says that their salvation depends on you and me!
“I shall protect them Myself at the hour of death, as My own glory. And even if the sins of soul are as dark as night, when the sinner turns to My mercy he gives Me the greatest praise and is the glory of My Passion. When a soul praises My goodness, Satan trembles before it and flees to the very bottom of hell.”
Here Jesus tells St. Faustina that he will protect poor sinners at the moment of their death, IF they turn to Him for mercy. And when we are tempted by Satan, we all need to praise the goodness of Jesus to send him back to hell where he belongs.
“At three o’clock, implore My mercy, especially for sinners; and, if only for a brief moment, immerse yourself in My Passion, particularly in My abandonment at the moment of agony. This is the hour of great mercy. In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion. As often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world — mercy triumphed over justice.”
There is a lot of grace and mercy to be gained by all of us poor sinners at the three o’clock hour, when Jesus was crucified. Apparently, the gates of heaven are opened to us all at 3 PM, IF we meditate on His sorrowful passion. It’s also important to know that the forces of evil are very active at 3 AM, which is the inversion of time regarding His passion. So if you happen to be up at that hour, please try to say some Hail Mary’s or praise Jesus for His goodness.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a great British Catholic author of the early 20th century who took no prisoners with his words and his pen. He was a great Catholic apologist, even besting the atheist Clarence Darrow in a debate.
“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”
Chesterton here says that going with the flow of pop culture is deadly, but somehow the popular thing to do. Anyone who refuses to go with the evil zeitgeist of the day, i.e. Catholics who embrace traditional morality, are looked down upon, because we are swimming against this river of filth. Just know that a lot of streams empty into a lake, and this river of immorality and anarchy embraced by today’s society also empties into a lake, a lake of fire.