PRAYER: O my God, how can I myself be able to sleep on in a mortal tepidity, reassuring myself on the lightness of my faults? If St. Teresa saw the place which would have been hers in hell, if she had the misfortune to fall into the sins to which her infidelities might have led, had she not renounced them, should I not tremble now at the sight of my faults, my resistance to a multitude of Your graces? I wish to delay no longer in giving myself entirely to You. I wish to beg Our Blessed Mother to give me the strength and the grace to do so no matter what it may cost me. I will ask her for the grace to endure all sacrifice, to no longer resist Your inspirations, and by this holy fear, which is the commencement of wisdom, I hope to arrive at the perfection of love. Dear God, dissipate the clouds which my sins have caused in my heart and my mind, in order that I may see clearly and feel deeply how “great an evil it is to have abandoned the Lord, my God.”
MEDITATION: How can one damn herself in Carmel? Alas! It is but too easily answered. How have you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer? It was pride – self-love which precipitated your from it! Thus the first cause of our ruin is ordinarily secret pride, which, becoming the principle as well as the motive of all our actions, causes us to refer all things to ourselves, to seek with avidity the esteem and affections of creatures, to seek or desire honorable charges, and suffer with pain to be forgotten or reprimanded, considering that we are injured when others are preferred to us. The demons ever ready to profit by our vicious dispositions drags us very soon to thoughts, murmurs and actions which become the source of the gravest faults and the most culpable disorders. Others are lost because of a pride more subtle and dangerous yet, as it is more hidden. Seduced by the illusions of their self-love, they are caught by the ruses of the demon, disguised as an Angel of light to deceive them. They believe, that they are called to extraordinary ways; whether because they esteem these ways too much, or prefer them to the sure but humble way of faith; or whether it is because they despise the warning of their Superiors, they abandon the practice of humble and ordinary virtues, such as obedience and contempt of self, to follow their pretended revelations and imaginary visions, which serve only to nourish their pride and lead them far from the beaten path of faith and obedience.
St. Teresa gives us a terrible proof of the fatal consequence which infidelities can have for even the most generous souls, if they continue in them. This Holy Mother teaches us, in the thirty-second chapter of her life, that God had shown her the place in hell which the demon had prepared for her, and which her sins would merit if she persevered in her infidelities and her resistance to grace. This lasted for a very short time, but if I should live many years I do not believe it possible to lose the remembrance of it. The entrance seemed to be like a long, close alley, or rather like a low, dark and narrow oven; and the ground appeared to be like mire, exceedingly filthy, stinking insupportably, and full of a multitude of loathsome vermin. At the end of it there was a certain hollow place, as if it had been a kind of little press in the wall, into which I found myself thrust and close pent up. All that I have said might pass for delightful, in comparison with what I felt in that press; the torment was so dreadful that no words can express the least part of it.
“I felt a fire in my soul which I cannot express or describe, as it was in reality. All those other most grievous torments which I have endured by the shrinking up of my sinews, and by other ways, which, in the judgment of physicians, were the greatest which could be suffered in a corporeal way in this world, and some also, as I have said, which were caused by the devil, were all a mere nothing, in comparison with what I suffered there, joined with the dismal thought that all this suffering was to be without end or intermission. And even this is still nothing, if compared with the continual agony the soul suffers; that pressing, that stifling, that anguish so exceedingly sensible, together with such desperate torturing, discontent and disgust that I cannot express it. To say that it is a butchering or rending of the soul, is to say little; for this would seem to express a violence, used by some other agent to destroy her. But here she is her own executioner, and even tears herself to pieces. I saw not who it was that tormented me; but I seemed to find myself both burnt and cut to pieces all at once, and in so dreadful a place there was no room for the least hope of once meeting with any comfort or ease; neither was there any such thing as sitting or lying down. Thus was I thrust into this place like a hole in the wall; and these walls, which are also most horrible to the sight, press in upon their prisoner, so that everything chokes and stifles there. There is nothing but thick darkness, without the least glimpse of light; and yet I know not how it is, though there is no light, yet one sees all that can afflict the sight.”
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Bernadette Porter is a Traditional Catholic, a wife of 42 years with 6 adult home-schooled children and 6 grandchildren. A sincere devotion to Mary, the Mother of God leads me to want to share "The Church's best kept secret" - Mary!