Text of St Josemaria

Wherever we may be, Our Lord urges us to be vigilant. His plea should lead us to hope more strongly in our desires for holiness and to translate them into deeds. “Give me your heart, my son” (Prov 23:26), he seems to whisper in our ear. Stop building castles in the air. Make up your mind to open your soul to God, for only in Our Lord will you find a real basis for your hope and for doing good to others. If we don’t fight against ourselves; if we don’t rebuff once and for all the enemies lodged within our interior fortress — pride, envy, the concupiscence of the flesh and of the eyes, self‑sufficiency, and the wild craving for licentiousness; if we abandon this inner struggle, our noblest ideals will wither “like the bloom on the grass; and when the scorching sun comes up the grass withers, and the bloom falls, and all its fair show dies away”. Then, all you need is a tiny crevice and discouragement and gloom will creep in, like encroaching poisonous weeds.

Jesus is not satisfied with a wavering assent. He expects, and has a right to expect, that we advance resolutely, unyielding in the face of difficulties. He demands that we take firm, specific steps; because, as a rule, general resolutions are just fallacious illusions, created to silence the divine call which sounds within our hearts. They produce a futile flame that neither burns nor gives warmth, but dies out as suddenly as it began.

You will convince me that you sincerely want to achieve your goals when I see you go forward unwaveringly. Do good and keep reviewing your basic attitudes to the jobs that occupy you each moment. Practice the virtue of justice, right where you are, in your normal surroundings, even though you may end up exhausted. Foster happiness among those around you by cheerfully serving the people you work with and by striving to carry out your job as perfectly as you can, showing understanding, smiling, having a Christian approach to life. And do everything for God, thinking of his glory, with your sights set high and longing for the definitive homeland, because there is no other goal worthwhile.

– St Josemaria, Friends of God, 211

Prayer

“Lord God, our Father, Life by which all live, without which everything would be as dead, do not abandon me to evil thoughts and to pride; take away from me all concupiscence and do not give me as prey to an irreverent and foolish spirit; but take possession of my heart, that I may always think of You…. Help me now, my Redeemer, I beseech You, so that I will not fall before my enemies, caught in the snares which they set for my feet to abase my soul; but save me, strength of my salvation, that I may not become a laughing-stock to Your enemies who hate You. Rise, O Lord, my God, my strength, and Your enemies will be dispersed; those who hate You will flee before Your face.

“As wax melts in the fire, so do sinners vanish before Your face. I shall hide myself in You, and rejoice with Your children, satiated with all Your good things. And You, O Lord God, Father of orphans, protecting Mother, spread your wings, that under them we may take refuge from our enemies” (St Augustine).

I entrust myself to You, my God and Saviour! I wish, particularly in times of struggle, to take refuge in You with redoubled confidence, for “You are my defense and will deliver me from the nets of the fowler and from all misfortune. You will cover me with Your wings and I shall be safe. Your fidelity will surround me like a shield, and I shall fear neither the terrors of the night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that roams in darkness, nor the attacks of the noonday devil. You are my hope, Lord; You are my refuge, O Most High! You have commanded Your angels to watch over all my paths, and they will bear me in their hands lest my feet strike against a stone” (cf Psalm 91: 3-12).

To know oneself to be nothing before God

It is a great thing to know oneself to be nothing before God, because that is how things are. – St Josemaria, Furrow

St John tells us that the other enemy is the lust of the eyes, a deep‑seated avariciousness that leads us to appreciate only what we can touch. Such eyes are glued to earthly things and, consequently, they are blind to supernatural realities. We can, then, use this expression of sacred Scripture to indicate that disordered desire for material things, as well as that deformation which views everything around us — other people, the circumstances of our life and of our age — with just human vision.

Then the eyes of our soul grow dull. Reason proclaims itself sufficient to understand everything, without the aid of God. This is a subtle temptation, which hides behind the power of our intellect, given by our Father God to man so that he might know and love him freely. Seduced by this temptation, the human mind appoints itself the centre of the universe, being thrilled with the prospect that “you shall be like gods” (Gen 3:5). So filled with love for itself, it turns its back on the love of God…

The fight against pride has to be a constant battle, to such an extent that someone once said that pride only disappears twenty‑four hours after each of us has died. It is the arrogance of the Pharisee whom God cannot transform because he finds in him the obstacle of self-sufficiency. It is the haughtiness which leads to despising other men, to lording it over them, to mistreating them. For “when pride comes, then comes disgrace” (Prov 11:2).

– St Josemaria, Christ is Passing

 

You have failings – and such failings!

Do not become alarmed or discouraged to discover that you have failings – and such failings! Struggle to uproot them. And as you do so, be convinced that it is even a good thing to be aware of all those weaknesses, for otherwise you would be proud. And pride separates us from God. – St Josemaria, The Forge

Oh, Jesus, if only we who are united in your Love were truly persevering! If only we could translate into deeds the yearnings you yourself awaken in our souls! Ask yourselves often, ‘What am I here on earth for?’ It will help you in your efforts to finish all your daily tasks perfectly and lovingly, taking care of the little details. Let us turn to the example of the saints. They were people like us, of flesh and bone, with failings and weaknesses, who managed to conquer and master themselves for love of God. Let us consider their lives and, like bees who distil precious nectar from each flower, we shall learn from their struggles. You and I shall also learn to discover so many virtues in the people about us, who teach us by their hard work, their self‑denial, their joy, and we shall not dwell too much on their defects; only when it is absolutely necessary, in order to help them with fraternal correction.

– St Josemaria, Friends of God

Knowing how to overcome yourself every single day

To do great mortifications some days, and nothing on others, is not the spirit of penance. The spirit of penance means knowing how to overcome yourself every single day, offering up both great and small things for love, without being noticed. – St Josemaria, The Forge

However, a powerful enemy is lying in wait for us, an enemy which counters our desire to incarnate Christ’s doctrine in our lives. This enemy is pride, which grows if we do not reach out for the helping and merciful hand of God after each failure and defeat. In that case the soul remains in the shadows, in an unhappy darkness, and thinks it is lost. Its imagination creates all sorts of obstacles which have no basis in fact, which would disappear if it just looked at them with a little humility. Prompted by pride and a wild imagination, the soul sometimes creates painful calvaries for itself. But Christ is not on these calvaries, for joy and peace always accompany our Lord even when the soul is nervous and surrounded by darkness.

There is another hypocritical enemy of our sanctification: the idea that this interior struggle has to be against extraordinary obstacles, against fire‑belching dragons. This is another sign of pride. We are ready to fight, but we want to do it noisily, with the clamour of trumpets and the waving of standards.

We must convince ourselves that the worst enemy of a rock is not a pickaxe or any other such implement, no matter how sharp it is. No, its worst enemy is the constant flow of water which drop by drop enters the crevices until it ruins the rock’s structure.

– St Josemaria, Christ is Passing

To love one another, to help one another

How very insistent the Apostle Saint John was in preaching the mandatum novum, the new commandment that we should love one another. I would fall on my knees, without putting on any act but this is what my heart dictates and ask you, for the love of God, to love one another, to help one another, to lend one another a hand, to know how to forgive one another. And so, reject all pride, be compassionate, show charity; help each other with prayer and sincere friendship. – St Josemaria, The Forge
If the return of a son who had betrayed him is enough for him to prepare a banquet, what will he have in store for us, who have tried to remain always at his side?

Far be it from us, therefore, to remember who has offended us or the humiliations we have endured — no matter how unjust, uncivil or unmannerly they may have been — because it would not be right for a son of God to be preparing some kind of dossier, from which to read off a list of grievances. We must never forget Christ’s example; besides, our Christian faith is not something to be put on and off like a suit of clothes: it can grow weak or more robust or be lost. With this supernatural life our faith grows strong and the very thought of how wretchedly naked man is without God is enough to terrify the soul. And so one forgives and gives thanks. My God, when I look at my own poor life, I find no reason to be vain and still less to be proud: all I see are abundant reasons why I should be always humble and contrite. I know full well that a life of service is man’s noblest calling.

‘I will arise and go through the city; through its streets and squares I will seek my love.’ And not only through the city; I will run from one end of the world to the other — through all nations and peoples, through highways and byways — to find peace of soul. And I discover this peace in my daily occupations, which are no hindrance to me; quite the contrary, they are my path, my reason to love more and more, and to be more and more united to my God.

– St Josemaria, Friends of God