Ask and You Shall Receive

Christ declared: “Amen, amen, I say to you: If you ask the Father anything in My name He will give it you” (Jn 16:23).

Commenting upon this verse, Father Frassinetti writes: “Here is a kind of promise upon oath, by which Christ Himself assures us by His own mouth that if we ask anything in His name it shall be given to us. But when is it, say the fathers, that we ask anything in the name of Jesus? It is, they answer, whenever we ask for the saving graces of eternal life. It is then that we ask in the name of Jesus, that is, in the name of our Saviour.”

“Observe that here our Lord Christ has pledged His own word, and contracted a real obligation with Himself, that is, with His own unfailing faithfulness. After such a promise He cannot allow us to pray in vain for any grace that we require in order to gain eternal life. Christ cannot be bound by any obligation towards us, but He can towards Himself.”

“Without the great means of prayer, all the care, all the diligence, all the intentions in the world will be worth nothing. Prayer is worth all these things put together, because it will obtain for us all that is necessary and useful for Christian perfection.”

“Perhaps you will say to me, ‘I cannot spend much time in prayer.’ If it be so, spend a short time at your prayers, and that little will suffice, and Almighty God, seeing you devote to prayer what little time you are able to give, will not on account of its brevity deny you one single grace.”

“You will, perhaps, say to me: ‘I know not how to meditate.’ . . . Simple meditation—that is, the turning of our own thoughts to the eternal maxims—is necessary for all, every one knows how to do it, and every one can do it without exception. In fact, who does not know, who cannot reflect, that God chastises the wicked, that God rewards the good, that for the love of us He became incarnate, that He suffered for us?”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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Never Give Up

Father Frassinetti offers this advice to those who desire moral perfection: “Do not allow this your desire to be chilled by the pernicious thought that you have perhaps more than once before endeavoured to tread in the path of Christian perfection and have not succeeded, and that consequently you would not succeed now were you to begin again.”

“If you did not succeed on former occasions it was only because you had not the will to succeed. God, having given you a longing for Christian perfection, would also have given you the grace to acquire it; for He never does what is useless, and it would be useless to implant in us a good desire, and not give us the necessary grace to bring it into effect. He knows that without the assistance of His grace all our good desires would be vain; therefore He cannot give us a good desire without also giving us the grace to enable us to put it into execution.”

“Try now to desire success resolutely, profit by the grace now given you, and this time you will not fail.” St. Teresa of Avila tells us that “the Lord never ceases to favour our legitimate desires, so that we may be enabled to put them into execution.” St. Alphonsus insists that “even if you should fall into errors a thousand times a day while endeavouring to attain Christian perfection, you must not let yourself be cast down and discouraged, but rise up again another thousand times, praying for help and resolving to fall no more. Want of confidence would be your ruin; confidence, on the other hand, firm and unchangeable confidence, will infallibly save you, and will enable you to reach the desired perfection.”

Father Frassinetti adds: “Certain people with small and feeble hearts, who live in perpetual anxiety, and, when they commit a fault, at once give themselves up almost to despair, do they not wrong the goodness of God? Let us be humble, let us repent when we fail; but let us not be cast down, let us never be confounded by our failures.”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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Now Is the Time

Father Frassinetti states that if one wishes to arrive at Christian perfection, one should “desire much and ardently its attainment.” He cautions: “Do not fancy that it is pride which moves you to desire perfect sanctity. . . . It is not pride; it is the good will to do that which God wills us to do; . . . His Will is our sanctification.”

“Take heed that this desire be not an irresolute desire, like the vague aspirations of many who would gladly become saints, yet never make up their minds to do so. ‘These souls feed themselves on an empty desire,’ says St. Alphonsus, ‘but never try to make one step forward on the road to God.'”

“This resolute desire must be immediately put into execution, and not deferred ever so little. Do you not perceive how short is the period of our lives? Have we so much more time remaining, that we can afford to throw it away in useless delays and procrastinations? . . . Possibly less time remains to you than you imagine.”

“Besides, is not Christian perfection a treasure of beauty, and of infinite value? And why should you delay in endeavouring to acquire such a treasure? Where would you find a merchant so mad as to put off for weeks, months, or years, a lucrative stroke of business which would bring him in a hundred thousand pounds? . . . Desire, then, with a true determination to become a saint, and begin immediately without any delay whatsoever, little or great.”

“In order to put this holy desire into practice immediately, make an entire offering of yourself to God. ‘My God,’ say to Him, with all your heart, ‘I put myself and all I have into Thy hands, so that Thou mayest do with me what Thou willest, so that Thou mayest do with me according as it shall seem good to Thee, and in the manner Thou willest. What I hope for and desire from Thy goodness is that Thou wouldst make me holy as Thou desirest me to be, so that I may serve Thee with all perfection.'”

“However sinful and evil-doing the soul may have been, God cannot do otherwise than receive and bless her; nor can He refuse any of the graces necessary to make her holy.”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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The Consolation of Moral Perfection

Father Frassinetti states that Christian perfection “is in itself the sum and substance of all the good things which form true happiness in this life, and give the most certain hope of beatitude in the life to come. In the first place, the greatest happiness of this mortal life undoubtedly consists in the testimony of a good conscience that does not accuse us of sin. . . . The soul that has not to reproach itself with having deliberately offended against God feels an interior conviction of living for God alone; and this is an ineffable consolation.”

“The more we abhor sin, the more difficult it is for us to fall into sin. Indeed it is impossible for us to fall into sin as long as we abhor it; for sin must be voluntary in those who commit the same in order to be sin; and it cannot be voluntary in us as long as we abhor it. And is not this the greatest consolation to a soul that loves God—to a soul that desires to insure its own salvation?”

“He who despises small failings will, by little and little, fall into great ones. . . . We see that fervent souls who cautiously guard themselves from venial sin, although, now and then, by reason of human frailty they may fall into it, never commit mortal sin; whereas those tepid souls who make light of venial sins, and do not endeavour to avoid them, not only commit a great number, but find themselves easily carried on into mortal sin.”

“A wise prince enriches his subjects with many gratuitous gifts, and by reason of his goodness he often gives even to the unworthy; yet who are they that enjoy the greatest amount of favour but those subjects who are the most loyal, the most faithful, and the most zealous for his honour? Ought we not to believe that in the distribution of His graces He will prefer to give most to those who prize them the most, and who try the hardest to correspond with them?”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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Presumptive Certainty of Reaching Paradise

Father Frassinetti states that, although we cannot have infallible certainty that we are in a state of grace, we can have “a presumptive certainty, which is a sufficient assurance for us, and keeps us in peace and tranquillity.”

“Is not a son, who does not remember to have ever given grave displeasure to his father, or if he ever did so, has endeavoured to satisfy him by a true repentance,—is he not, by presumptive reasons, certain of possessing his fathers love? Does he not feel so certain of it that he is able to be in peace and tranquillity?”

“Mortal sin is the turning away of our wills from the Will of God. When our wills are united with and conformed to the Will of God, mortal sin is not to be found in our souls; for union with the Divine Will is, in fact, perfect charity. . . . Who, then, can feel more sure of possessing Divine grace than a soul that not only abhors mortal sins but venial sins also, and in everything tries to do what is most pleasing to God? Who can feel more secure of being in conformity with the Divine Will, and of possessing perfect charity? No one.”

“Is it not true that your greatest consolation would be to feel assured, as much as it is possible to be so, that you are in the grace of God; that if death should in any unexpected way or at any hour surprise you, you could not fail of reaching paradise? Well, if you would have all the security possible, you know now what you have to do—do you not? Abhor even venial sin; do in everything what is most pleasing to God, so far as you know it; and by so doing you will have more real security than you could have were you to perform the most stupendous miracles.”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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A Beautiful Soul

Venerable Joseph Frassinetti admires the beauty of a soul in a state of grace: “How beautiful is that holiness which consists in the mere possession of sanctifying grace! So great is its beauty, that it not only attracts the love of the saints and angels in Heaven, but of God Himself. So great is its beauty, that the soul which possesses it is in name and in reality the friend of God and daughter of God, notwithstanding many defects and venial sins. Yes, indeed, a soul may be stained by a million venial sins; yet, if it has sanctifying grace, it will nevertheless be resplendent with such beauty as will attract the love of Almighty God, and will be regarded by Him as His most dear friend and daughter.”

“What, then, shall we say about the beauty of a soul that keeps itself pure from the stain of even venial sin, and will not consciously allow its splendour to be dimmed by even the smallest disobedience, but studies in all things how most to please God, to the best of its power, to the best of its knowledge, desiring nothing but what God wills? Ah, the beauty of such a soul quite surpasses all human understanding! God regards it with a complacency so great, that in the sacred Canticles He thus allows the expression of His love, as it were, to burst forth: ‘Thou art all fair, O My love, and there is not a spot in thee. . . . How beautiful art thou, My love.'”

“This beauty, which attracts even the love of God so much—will it not suffice to attract ours? Shall we not take every possible means to acquire it? How often those beautiful things which we greatly desire and seek after are fraught with peril! O, how much more ought we to prize and seek after that ineffable beauty which insures all that is good for us in the sight of God!”

Quotations from Joseph Frassinetti, The Consolation of the Devout Soul, trans. Georgiana Lady Chatterton (London: Burns and Oates, 1876).

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Falling From the Heights

Father Benson cautions: “Since every advance in spiritual life has its corresponding dangers—since every step that we rise nearer to God increases the depth of the gulf into which we may fall—a soul that has reached the stage of the Illuminative Way which we have called Ordinary Contemplation (and which is, in fact, the point at which the State of Union is reached) has an enormous increase of responsibility. The supreme danger is that of Individualism, by which the soul that has climbed up from ordinary pride reaches the zone in which genuine spiritual pride is encountered, and, with spiritual pride, every other form of pride—such as intellectual or emotional pride—which belong to the interior state.”

“For there is something extraordinarily intoxicating and elevating in the attaining of a point where the soul can say with truth, ‘Thou lightest my lamp, Lord’ (Ps 18:28). It is bound, in fact, to end in pride unless she can finish the quotation and add, ‘O my God, enlighten my darkness!'”

“Every heresy and every sect that has ever rent the unity of the Body of Christ has taken its rise primarily in the illuminated soul of this or that chosen Friend of Christ. Practically all the really great heresiarchs have enjoyed a high degree of interior knowledge, or they could have led none of Christ’s simple friends astray. What is absolutely needed, then, if illumination is not to end in disunion and destruction, is that, coupled with this increase of interior spiritual life, there should go with it an increase of devotion and submission to the exterior Voice with which God speaks in His Church: for, notoriously, nothing is so difficult to discern as the difference between the inspirations of the Holy Ghost and the aspirations or imaginations of self.”

Quotations from Robert Hugh Benson, The Friendship of Christ (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912).

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