On the Catholic Priesthood
The Sleep of the Eucharist
Let us listen while the Spouse of the holy canticles addresses us these sweet words, and endeavour to comprehend them:
"I sleep," does He say, "and my heart watches."
Ah! if He had stopped at this one word I sleep, far from tasting therein the suavity, that I seek , I should find only disquietude and alarm. Jesus Christ sleeps, and the devil, my enemy, watches and prowls around me like a lion to devour. Jesus Christ sleeps, and my senses, constantly awake, lie in ambush for my soul to enslave it. Jesus Christ sleeps, who will watch for me? My love sleeps, on whom shall I rely, My strength sleeps, who will support me? My hope sleeps, in whom shall I trust?....
But He who is, at once, my love, my hope, my strength, leaves me not long in suspense. I sleep, says He, but my heart watches; and, lo! I am at once reassured. It is no heavy slumber which leaves the heart to watch; it is not a sleep of forgetfulness when the heart keeps vigil. If His heart watches, then He will love me; if His heart watches, then He will come to my aid. His heart will always find secret words to instruct me, and secret delights to charm me; what matters it that all in Him sleeps, if His heart watches? His heart is all. Sleep, Lord Jesus, I am tranquil, Thy heart watches.
Blessed is the men who feareth the Lord.
Blessed art thou, my son, since I have inspired thee with that holy fear which is the beginning of wisdom.
Fear, for the more thou fearest the more prompt I shall be to hasten to thine aid. Have confidence, for the more thou trutest in me the more shalt thou enjoy my special protection. All things are possible to me, my son, and there is no one who can resist my will. If thou doest what in the lies to please me, confidently hope for salvation from me.
Let thy sins be ever so great, if thou repentest of them and abstainest from them confidently hope for forgiveness, knowing that I, the Lord, have sworn saying: But if the wicked will do penance for all this sins which he has committed and keep all my commandments, and do judgment and justice, living he shall live and not die. I will not remember all his iniquities that he hath done.
Have confidence, therefore, knowing that I did not hesitate to say to the weeping adulteress: Thy sins are forgiven thee; Knowing that I immediately replied to the penitent thief: today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Remember the father of that prodigal of whom I spoke to thee of old.
Did not that kind parent bestow upon that tear-stained penitent son the kiss of full forgiveness, yea more, show to him the most evident marks of tender affection?
Am I, my son, not infinitely more loving and forgiving than that father? O thou, who in thy blindness canst not comprehend the immensity of my mercy, how canst thou dare to distrust my goodness?
However great may be the dangers by which thou art surrounded, however numerous may be the wiles and assaults of the devil, however much the sting of the flesh may beset thee, if thou avoidest the occasions of sin and hast recourse to the remedies that I have suggested to thee, confidently look forward to victory, knowing that I have given mine angels charge over him who hopes in me, to keep him in all his ways, that in their hands they should bear him up lest he dash his foot against a stone.
Trust and have confidence, my son, and thou shalt be overshadowed with my shoulders and compassed with the shield of my strength.
Hope, have confidence, and thou shalt walk upon the asp and basilisk, and trample under foot the lion and the dragon. However formidable may be the burden of the priesthood, and arduous its duties, however frail and weak thou mayst be, do not, my son, lose courage. So long as thy heart is ready for every good word, so long as thou laborest as a soldier of Jesus Christ, proceed with confidence and do not fear, knowing that they who hope in the Lord shall clothe themselves with strength, shall take wings like the eagle, shall run and not labor, shall walk and not faint.
Though the direction of souls is the art of arts, nevertheless to the priest of good will who is devoted to prayer and study, my grace is sufficient that he may rightly and adequately fulfill the duties of his sacred ministries. However gratuitous my grace may be, if thou seekest it in humble persevering prayer, rest assured that thy God will aid thee on every occasion and in every necessity.
Remember that I, who have commanded thee to avoid evil and do good, am ever faithful. Ask, therefore, and it shall be given to thee, knock and it shall be opened unto thee. Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall not pass. Do not, therefore fear. Have I not, my son, given my precious life for even wicked men? Have I not died for thee when thou wast yet a sinner? Whilst thou wast yet mine enemy, have I not reconciled thee to my Father by my death? Could I have given thee a greater proof of my love?
How canst thou who art already justified in my blood doubt that thou shalt be saved by me from wrath, that thou shalt obtain the forgiveness of thy sins? How canst thou who art good and faithful fear that I will refuse to hear thee, to answer thee and to help thee in the midst of trials, temptations and dangers?
Surely thou knowest, my son, that in such circumstances thy mother would not abandon thee. How much less would I. Yea, more, should she even forget thee, nevertheless I will not forget thee. I, who have made thee, will bear with thee, will support thee and save thee.