Coveting Extraordinary Graces

Father Frassinetti states: “The desire to be very holy before God is the offspring of holy humility, but the desire to appear so before men is the daughter of accursed pride.”

“St. Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi was endowed by God with very many singular graces, and amongst others that of enduring extraordinary penances and mortifications in the way of eating, by which she was distinguished from all the other nuns her companions. But do you think that she asked Almighty God to give her such favours? On the contrary, she grieved very much at being obliged to make herself so singular, desired that she might be allowed to eat the food of the community, and only surrendered herself to this extraordinary life when God Himself made known to her, in an ecstasy, His express will that she should make these fasts.”

“St. Joseph of Cupertino was, in like manner, among the number of those saints who received from God the most extraordinary graces and favours. He prophesied things to come, knew the depths of men’s hearts, enjoyed the sweetest ecstasies and stupendous raptures, gave forth from his most chaste body a wonderful odour, and wrought miraculous cures, so that everyone venerated him as a great saint; and although he was an humble friar, princes esteemed it a great advantage to be able to do him honour. But perhaps St. Joseph had desired these wonderful gifts? . . . On the contrary, he besought the Lord most fervently that He would deign to deprive him of these gifts, desiring to live the ordinary life of the community, and not be distinguished from any one.”

St. Teresa of Avila observes: “Those who receive many supernatural graces and favours do not merit thereby a greater degree of glory; nay, they are under a greater obligation to serve God.”

Father Frassinetti concludes: “The saints did not arrive at so high a degree of perfection before God by means of extraordinary gifts and marvellous favours, but by the exercise of Christian virtues, with perfect conformity to the Divine Will.”

“If . . . you are among the greater number of those others who are called by God to that sanctity which is beautiful in His sight alone, and not to be manifested to the world in all its brightness until the last day, be content to travel along the ordinary road, and do not pretend to higher things, lest you end by being proud instead of holy.”

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

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