Practice of Union with Our Lord Jesus Christ for the Season of Advent
Fr. J. B. Saint-Jure, S.J.
[From the book, Union with Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Principle Mysteries: For All Seasons of the Year. By Rev. John Baptist Saint-Jure, S.J.Translation revised by a Father of the same society. New York: D. & J. Sadlier & Co., 1876. Imprimatur: John C. McCloskey, Archbishop of New York.]
I. The Subject
The practice of union with our Lord for the season of Advent, has for its subject the adorable mystery of the incarnation, and his dwelling during the space of nine months in the most pure womb of his holy Mother. The mystery of the incarnation is a mystery of union, a mystery of love, a mystery of glorification, and a mystery of annihilation.
It is a mystery of union, because the divine nature was in it united intimately, substantially, personally, and forever, with the human nature, and the Son of God became the Son of man. “The word was made flesh,” (John. i. 14,) and the one formed with the other so close a union “that,” St. Bernard says, “God and slime, that is to say, man made from the slime of the earth, were joined together in the inseparable unity of one person, and all that God did appeared to be done by the slime, and all that the slime suffered seemed to be suffered by God in it, though a mystery as incomprehensible as it is inexplicable.” (Serm. 2 in Vigil. Nativ.) And earlier than St. Bernard, St. Leo had said: “There is such a communication and so close a union between the two natures, while each retains inviolable its own qualities, that there is no division of goods nor of evils between them, but what belongs to one belongs also to the other.” (Serm. 8 in Nativ. Dom.) So the Son of God by this union made himself, as St. Paul says, “in all things such as we are, without sin.” (Heb. iv. 15.)
The incarnation is a mystery of love, because, as the principal and strongest inclination of the person who loves is to desire and procure by all the means he can devise, union with the person beloved, the love that God bore to man caused him to desire, to seek, and to bring about this admirable union. And this shows evidently and clearer than the sun the infinite greatness of that love which St. Paul so often describes to the faithful, and which he says surpasses all thought and language.
The incarnation is a mystery of glorification, inasmuch as human nature was in it raised to such a height of glory that there is no science nor power that can raise it higher. Speaking on this subject St. Augustine says “that this elevation of human nature is so high and eminent that it cannot be more so.” (L. I, de Praed., Sanct. c. I.) The reason is manifest, because human nature is raised in this mystery to the throne of the Divinity, and a true man is become true God. St. Augustine in another place says: “God desired to show in what esteem he held human nature, and what degree of honor he gave it among all creatures, when he was pleased to appear to the eyes of men as a true man.” (L. de vera Relig. c. 16.)
The incarnation is also a mystery of glorification of the Divinity; because God, wishing to be infinitely glorified according to his merit, not only in himself, but also outside of himself, as he obtains the first by his Word which is the knowledge infinitely excellent and the sovereign esteem he has of himself, so for the latter purpose he has employed the only means possible, namely, the production of a creature capable of rendering him a glory absolutely infinite.
This he has done in the adorable mystery of the incarnation wherein that same Word is personally united to our nature in an individual humanity, to which, besides the created gifts bestowed upon it that incomparably surpass all those he has granted to all other creatures, he has communicated substantially all his infinite perfections, making it infinitely holy, perfect, and capable of glorifying God infinitely; and this in two manners:
The first, by the simple manifestation of those perfections; for, as St. Augustine says, “the beauty of creatures is the glorious testimony and the praise they render to him who created them.” (Serm. 143, de temp.)
The second, interiorly, by his own acts, which the Incarnate Word always referred to the honor of God, and which, being all infinitely excellent on account of the infinite dignity of his person, all honored God infinitely. This second manner is also exterior; for our Lord by his example and teachings induced men to honor God, and he is, moreover, the cause of all the honor and praise that are offered to God and that will be offered throughout all eternity, and the principle of all the good works that will ever be done in the world, since they are due to his merits.
This is the reason why the Sacred Scriptures frequently call the Incarnate Word the especial glory of God; (Ps. lvi. 9; lxxxiv. 10; Is. lx. I; Rom, iii. 23) and the celebrated words of St. John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John i, I.) The Word that is God is the eternal and infinite glory of God, because it is the thought of infinite esteem which he has of himself and which is justly proportionate to its object. “And the Word was made flesh,” and we saw the glory of God that is that same Incarnate Word, the Son of God, the honor and glory of his Father, even as the wise son, as Solomon says, is the ornament and glory of an earthly father. (Prov. x. I.) “The Word was made flesh;” therefore, at the moment of his birth, the angels sang “Gloria in altissimis Deo,” as though they meant to say: We can now give to God in this Child all the glory he is worthy of; and it is this Child that gives it to him, and all creatures likewise can give it in and by this Child.
Thus it is that our Lord Jesus Christ in his quality of the uncreated Word, is the infinite glory of God in himself from all eternity; and as the Incarnate Word, he is still the infinite glory of God in himself and outside of himself for all eternity to come. This shows us that the incarnation is, as we have said, a mystery of glorification of the Divinity.
It is, finally, a mystery of annihilation, in the person of God, because, in order to unite himself to us in that manner and to testify his love for us by so indisputable a proof, and to elevate us to the height of infinite glory, it was necessary for him to humble, abase, and annihilate himself, making himself man, a son of Adam the sinner, a poor man and a miserable creature, and consequently a mere nothing, as the creature is of itself. St. Paul teaches us this great truth in these remarkable words: “Being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but debased himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.” (Philipp, ii. 6.) The Son being God by essence, and not deeming it an injury to his Father to esteem and call himself God, nevertheless annihilated himself, taking the nature of a servant when he took man’s nature, and when he appeared both in body and soul in all things like us.
The incarnation is a mystery of annihilation in the humanity of our Lord, because that humanity was despoiled of its natural personality, annihilated to itself and to all that distinguishes the person of a man; and still further, it was annihilated in all the inclinations of man for honors, comforts, and pleasures, the Word to whom it was united, leading it in the very opposite ways of opprobrium, poverty, and suffering.
The incarnation is a mystery of annihilation in our Lady, who, to be capable of assuming the character of Mother to the Man-God, had to be humbled and annihilated in her own estimation below all creatures.
Our Lord, during the nine months that he dwelt in the most pure womb of the Blessed Virgin, as in the purest and holiest place on earth, was ceaselessly occupied in praising, blessing, adoring, thanking, and loving his Father, and in offering to him his soul and body, his being, his faculties and their operations, for that Father’s glory and the salvation of men. He addressed him at the instant of his incarnation these words of the Royal Prophet which the Apostle repeats: “Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldst not, but a body thou has fitted to me. Holocausts for sin did not please thee. Then said I: Behold I come, that I should do thy will, O God.” (Heb. x. 5, 6, 7; Ps. xxxix. 7.) I know that neither peace offerings, nor holocausts, nor victims slain for the expiation of sin, please thee; but that thou hast given me a body to be sacrificed in their stead. Thou hast thus decreed; I submit. I offer myself cheerfully for the execution of the sentence, and I give myself to thee to do with me all that shall please thee. Our Lord also occupied himself in justifying and sanctifying his holy Mother, and in enriching her with gifts and graces; he likewise thought graciously of all men, and of you in particular, and he yielded himself in spirit to suffering, infamy, and death, for your salvation.
Now, although the womb of the Blessed Virgin was the holiest place in all the universe and the one most worthy of receiving our Lord, still, in view of his infinite majesty as God, and of the perfect use he had of his reason as man, and of all the graces and wonderful gifts he possessed, the obscurity and lowliness of that dwelling where he was shut up in general privation of all the objects of the senses, causes the Church to say to him with St. Ambrose and St. Augustine: “ Non horruisti Virginis uterum.” Thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb, thou hadst no horror to enter it in order to accomplish our salvation.
II. The Affections.
The first affection will be admiration and astonishment founded upon the grandeur of the mystery, and upon the grandeur of the benefits of which it is to us the source.
Regarding the grandeur of the mystery it is enough to say: The Word was made flesh—because these words contain in a few syllables the novelty of novelties, the wonder of wonders, the miracle of miracles, that join in the same person greatness with littleness, dignity with lowliness, beatitude with misery, immortality with death, eternity with time, all with nothing, the Creator with the creature, and God with man.
That God should become true man, and man true God, is something so strange and so above finite comprehension, that no created reason with all its power can understand how it was possible. The most magnificent and most perfect of all God’s works and his incomparable masterpiece, is, says St. Denis the Areopagite, the incarnation of his Son which so far surpasses our intelligence that the most enlightened of the angels with all his natural intellect understands nothing in it. (St. Dionys. de div. nomin. c. 2.)
When we see a machine worked by some excellent engineer producing extraordinary and unexpected effects, we are astonished and look on in admiration. The change of King Nebuchodonosor into a beast, which, however, was not a change of substance and nature, but only of exterior appearance and of certain operations, impressed and terrified all the people of the time and all posterity. What admiration and delight then should we not experience at beholding the union of two natures infinitely diverse by which God became true man and man true God; by which the infinite was changed to the finite, the immense received limits, the omnipotent became weak, the most happy miserable, the immortal subject to death; by which God led the life and performed the actions of man, and man those of God? Isaiah cries out, “Who ever saw or heard the like?” The same prophet remarks that for this reason the first name given to the Incarnate Word will be Admirable: “His name shall be called (Admirable) Wonderful.” (Is. ix. 6.)
Our admiration and astonishment ought to have also for their object the grandeur of the benefits we receive from this mystery, and which are comprehended in these words: The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us! By this dwelling he has delivered us from all our evils and has loaded us with his blessings; he has united our nature to his divine person, and consequently, by the bond of relationship that we have with him in his human nature, has raised us to the sovereign honor of an alliance with God; he has dissipated the darkness in which we were plunged and were wandering miserably and blindly to our damnation, sending us the clear daylight of truth and enabling us to see the sure road of our salvation; he has destroyed the power of the devil and the tyranny of sin; he has closed the gates of hell and opened to us those of paradise, that we may there live forever in happiness, with him.
The Church in admiration calls this mystery a commerce and a wonderful traffic: “O admirabile commercium!” And she has great reason, because therein our Lord has given us his divinity and taken our humanity; he has conferred upon us his riches and his glory and has taken upon himself our poverty and infamy. What a traffic! What graces! What inexplicable favors! If a king should send to a poor villager overwhelmed with misery in his little cabin, ten millions of dollars, the poor man would undoubtedly be extremely astonished and surprised at such an unexpected gift from a prince, and without any merit on his part. This is what happens in the mystery of the incarnation, and in a far higher degree, both as regards the infinite greatness of the gift that is made and the infinite greatness of the giver, as well as the infinite littleness of man who receives it.
For this reason man, moved by this inestimable benefit, should break forth with all the fullness of his affections into praises, benedictions, and thanksgivings to God, saying with David: “The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever.” (Ps. lxxxviii. 2.) I will bless and thank him for them eternally; and with Isaiah: “O Lord, thou art my God, I will exalt thee and give glory to thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things, thy designs of old faithful. Amen.” (Is. xxv. I.) O my Lord! I gladly tell thee that thou art my God; I will praise thee and will glorify thy holy name with all my power, because thou hast done admirable things in the incarnation of thy Son which was the effect of thy love, and of those eternal thoughts thou hadst of my salvation, and the inviolable promises thou didst make of it, which thou hast executed in good time. Then he should exclaim in the words of the apostle: “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gifts!” (2 Cor. ix. 15.) Praise, adoration, and infinite thanks be offered to God for his unspeakable gift, which is his Son incarnate.
Certainly St. Bernard is right in telling us: “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and therefore be not proud; and also remember that, even dust as thou art, thou art united to God, and therefore be not ungrateful.” (Serm. 2 in Cant.) And when he says in another place: “This benefit ought never to be forgotten by those who have received it, and there are in it two things upon which they ought to deeply reflect: one is the manner in which God conferred it—he emptied himself for us; and the other is the profit we have received from it, which was to fill us with him.” Ingratitude for so great a benefit would be something fearful, and would deserve a terrible punishment.
As the love that God bears us was the true cause of the personal union he was pleased to contract with our nature, and the source of all the blessings we receive from it, we ought to accept that sovereign honor and the treasures of those immense blessings with sincere and ardent love. As God comes to us through love we ought to go to him in the same way, and with much greater reason, since he is of himself worthy of infinite love, and we of ourselves are only worthy of hate. The gift he has made us of his Son, and that which the Son has made us of himself, obliges us all to this love, and should force the most obstinate hearts. Love attains the highest degree of its perfection and exerts its last effort when it confers a gift commensurate with the power of the giver; when this gift is something most precious and which the giver cherishes above all things; when it is made without constraint or obligation and in a disinterested spirit; and when, moreover, it is very necessary and very useful to the one who receives it; if you add to all these conditions the fact of the giver bestowing it with great difficulty and extreme pain, you can say nothing more. Now, all these qualities are combined in excess in our Lord who was given to us in the incarnation, and who therefore exacts from us with perfect right a most ardent reciprocal love.
4. Desires and Petitions
We should conceive burning desires and should ask most earnestly that our Lord would deign to come to us in this mystery. The just men of the Old Law earnestly prayed for the coming of the Messiah; they greatly desired and sighed for it, and offered many petitions, and supplications, and vows, and tears, to draw him from heaven. Each one of them was, as well as Daniel, a man of desires. Send, O Lord, they said, send him whom thou hast resolved to send. “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just; let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour, and let justice spring up together. O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and wouldst come down.” (Is. xlv. 8; lxiv. 1.) Thou, O Saviour, so greatly desired, burst the heavens and come quickly. We cannot wait for thee to come by ordinary ways, we are so anxious for thee, so eager to behold thee.
The first sentiment of her love that the Spouse revealed, and the first word from her lips in the Canticle was, according to the usual interpretation of the Fathers, an expression of the desire that filled all humanity, and especially the synagogue, the desire of the coming of the Messiah, and the prayer she offered to obtain it. Let the Divine Word, she cried, uniting his nature to mine, give me the kiss of peace, reconciling me with God his Father, and teaching me not only by his angels and prophets, but by himself and with his own words, the doctrine of my salvation.
In the eighth chapter of the same book, as the Fathers explain the passage, this transport of desire escapes from her heart and lips: “Who shall give thee to me for my brother, sucking the breasts of my mother, that I may find thee without and kiss thee; and now no man may despise me?” Who will do me this favor, O Divine Word and only Son of God! that I may see thee clothed with my nature and shrouded with my flesh, and thus become my brother and the son of my mother? Who will help me so that I will not be obliged to seek thee in the bosom of thy Father where thou art hidden from all eternity and enveloped with inaccessible light, but may find thee in the womb of thy Mother, or clinging to her breast? Who will give me to see thee with my eyes, to hear thee with my ears, to touch thee with my hands, and, holding thee fast, to attach myself to thee by sentiments of faith, love, joy, gratitude, respect, adoration, obedience, and homage, so that none may dare to contemn me, since by this mystery thou art become my brother and my spouse, and I thy sister and thy beloved?
In other passages the Spouse declares that he whom she sought was Totus desiderabilis, the All Desirable; and she calls him the end of all her desires and the object of all her longings.
Our Lord in the Apocalypse calls himself Amen, which is a Hebrew word meaning, in its primitive signification, “it is so, it is true,” because he is true and truth itself. “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness.” (Apoc. iii. 14.) In its secondary signification the word Amen is a prayer, or an expression of desire, “God grant that it may be so.” Thus our Lord, the Amen, is the term of all our wishes, and his incarnation is the accomplishment of all our desires. The Mosarebs called our Lady when she was in the ardor of her desires for the incarnation, and especially on the day of the incarnation when the great mystery was accomplished in her, our Lady of O, because the first word that escapes our heart and lips when we greatly desire a thing is, O utinam—Oh! would to God. The seven anthems of the Magnificat which the Church sings during the seven days before Christmas and which all begin with O, refer to this; they are all desires and prayers urging the Eternal Word to come and accomplish the mystery of the incarnation.
Let us, then, desire with all the earnestness we are capable of, and ask with all our strength, our Lord to come to us, to effect in our souls and bodies his incarnation, to impress its features upon us and communicate to us its grace and spirit. Let us continually inhale and draw the incarnate Word into us by acts of faith, by desires, by supplications, and by the burning words of the patriarchs, so that he may do for us what his divinity did for his humanity, which was to sanctify it, strengthen it, deify it, and render it so agreeable and glorious to God that the least of its actions, its slightest glance and most trifling movement procured infinite honor to the Eternal Father, and immense treasures of blessings to men; and that we may have grace likewise to imitate his sacred humanity in all the duties it performed toward the Divinity to which it was not only united substantially and personally, but to which it continued to unite itself by its own interior acts, by its love, its adorations, its glorifications, its thanksgivings, its zeal for God’s honor, its submission to his decrees, etc. Let us beg him to become incarnate in us; and, as his incarnation is a mystery of union, of love, of glorification, and of annihilation, to operate in us in an eminent degree all these effects.
III. The Virtues
The most important point in these exercises, is the effective expression of our Lord’s mysteries, by the exact and constant practice of the virtues he practiced in them, the principal ones of which we shall always be careful to propose.
1. Union with our Lord Jesus Christ
As our Lord so graciously and lovingly united himself to us in his incarnation, we ought, in order to express and represent this mystery, to exert all our efforts to unite ourselves to him. We ought to unite ourselves to him through the motives of love for him and zeal for his glory, and the knowledge of our extreme need of him. For, as our nature became innocent, holy, and perfect, only by union with the Word, we can individually share its regeneration only by uniting ourselves to the Incarnate Word.
God himself gives us an example of what we must do to form this union with our Lord, and teaches us our lesson in it. First, as he took pleasure in uniting himself to that sacred humanity, we should imitate him by finding in our union with our Lord our satisfaction and our chief delight. Secondly, as he united himself to that humanity in order to come and unite himself to us, and through it to confer upon us his gifts, we should go to him likewise through it, should by it unite ourselves to him and render ourselves capable of receiving his gifts and the effects of his goodness. Thirdly, as he united himself to that adorable humanity in order to draw from it his own glory and to accomplish our salvation, we should in the same way unite ourselves to it in order to promote God’s honor and to save our own souls . . . Finally, as God united himself to that sacred humanity intimately, inseparably, and forever, not forsaking it at the hour of death, let us likewise contract with our Lord an intimate and eternal union, such a union as neither death, nor life, nor anything whatsoever can destroy.
2. Zeal for our Lord’s Glory
It is certainly most reasonable that, since the Eternal Word became incarnate, and in his incarnation humbled himself and made use of his divinity and his humanity to exalt us, we should do all in our power to procure for him all the glory we can. The Greek Fathers call this mystery a Descent, because in it the Son of God descended infinitely low, and caused us to ascend infinitely high; they also call it a Condescension, because in it he exercised unspeakable goodness and condescension in order to accommodate himself to us; he assumed our degradation in order to give us his glory; he united himself to our poverty to fill us with his riches, and he charged himself with our miseries to give us a share in his felicity.
This is why, sensibly touched by this most admirable abasement, and completely won by this incomparable desire of our Lord for our glory, we should conceive a burning zeal for his, and by all possible means endeavor to procure him honor. We should breathe only his praises, and should refer to them all our thoughts, all our affections, all our plans, all our words, and all our works. We should consecrate our souls and bodies to his glory, employing for it all our strength, using and consuming ourselves for it, so as to recognize in some degree, although infinitely unequal, the prodigious things he has done, and the unutterable sufferings he has endured in order to raise us from the dust and place us in a state of glory and honor.
Besides we are bound to apply ourselves with all our powers to glorify God. God’s glory is the end of the incarnation of the Eternal Word, and, in general, the end of all that God does; because his will cannot propose as the last end of all his works anything but his exterior honor and the glory he can receive from his creatures, this being the thing that of all outside himself is best. Consequently, God’s glory is the end of our creation and preservation; save for it we would still be in nothingness, therefore we ought to refer to it all that we are, since we exist only for it.
Our Lord traced for us the model in his own person, having from the moment of his conception until his death acted incessantly for this end, whence he said: “I honor my Father . . . I seek not my own glory . . . I have glorified thee on the earth.” (Jno. viii. 49; xvii. 4.) I glorify my Father, to his glory I refer all my thoughts, all my affections, all my words, and all my works; I seek not my own glory. And still, now in the highest heaven, he refers to the same intention of God’s glory, and he will for all eternity, his body, his soul, all that he does and all that he will ever do . . . Let us then follow this perfect model, and in order to do so, let us unite ourselves intimately and inseparably with Jesus Christ by sanctifying grace, by acts of faith, hope, and charity, by desires and petitions, as to the first cause, the general and only instrument of all the exterior glory offered to the Divinity, for this purpose making ourselves but one with him, as we are in reality, since we have the honor to be members of a body of which he is the Head.
Let us spiritually unite our souls to his soul, our faculties to his faculties, our thoughts to his thoughts, our affections to his affections, our words to his words, our looks, our steps, our motions, and all our actions to his which are infinitely honorable to God, so that all that belongs to us may take from all that belongs to him a divine lustre and coloring.
Let us fill ourselves with his spirit, which is a spirit of pure devotion to the glory of God, since his incarnation, his birth, his life, his death, and all his mysteries, have no other end than God’s glory.
Let us very frequently offer him, as a treasure that belongs to us, to God, to glorify God in every manner and as much as he merits. Let us also pray him to offer us with himself, as one of his own possessions, for God’s glory, and in himself as being contained in him.
Still more, let us very frequently offer ourselves for the honor and praise of God with God himself. To understand what I mean, we must first know that God is our Creator who has formed our bodies and souls. David says: “He made us, and not we ourselves.” (Ps. xcix. 3.) We also learn this from reason and experience, which teach us that nothing can make itself. Secondly, that he is our preserver who not only has given us being, but who preserves it to us; and as preservation differs from first production only in some little formalities, and is in substance and essence the first production persevered in and a continued creation that follows its first plan, as the life of our body is only a perpetual flow of life from the soul over it; so to say that God preserves us is only to say that he constantly communicates being to us, and always produces our bodies and souls, and produces them in such or such a manner—a healthy body, an infirm or sickly one; a robust, weak, beautiful, or ugly body; a body of a melancholy, bilious, or other temperament; a soul with much, or with little, or with no talent, memory, judgment; a soul sometimes gay, sometimes sad, now consoled, then desolate, afflicted, pained, tempted, and with such and such a species of temptation. God creates our souls and bodies in these different dispositions, and sometimes in several different ways in one day.
Thirdly, it must be carefully remarked that God makes our bodies and souls thus for his own glory, and produces them in these different states in order to procure to himself by means of each of these different dispositions a particular kind of honor which he could not derive from any other. This is why, if you tell me that if you had more talents, more judgment, more capacity than God has given you, if your body were stronger and healthier than it is, you would in your opinion render him more honor than with the body and mind you have; I will reply that truly you might with a different body and mind render honor to God, but not the kind of honor he desires from you, which only your body and your mind just as you possess them can render him.
An artisan uses instruments of different sizes and shapes to fashion his works, and a small and bent instrument will not do what a large and straight one will, but will be good for some other part of the work. In embroidery the different silks used to form a flower all produce effect, each according to its particular color and shade; and in music, the different tones produce harmony, but each in its own particular manner. Just so a healthy body and a sick body, a great mind and an inferior one. a rich man and a poor man, and, in general, all creatures in the universe in their marvelous diversity, serve God in their different ways, and each in its own way renders him an honor which it alone can render him.
We know very well that God has created us for his glory and our own beatitude, but we are ignorant of what particular glory he requires from us, and to what degree of beatitude he has designed to raise us, whether it be to a place in the choir of angels of the lowest order, or among the archangels, or with the highest seraphim. And further, we know not by what particular means we are to execute these two great works of the glory of God and our own beatitude; God alone knows this; he alone knows in what manner he desires to be served and glorified in you and by you, and to what measure of grace and happiness he has predestined you; and likewise, he alone knows by what means you are to reach it. The only means capable of procuring him that particular glory he desires and expects from you, and of bringing you to the degree of grace, perfection, and eternal felicity he has assigned you, are your body and soul just as he has made them, the dispositions of light or of darkness, of consolation or of desolation, of unction or of dryness, of peace or of disquiet and temptation, in which he puts you today, at this hour and moment, and the present condition, office, and employment to which he has called you.
Therefore, as God truly present and dwelling in us, constantly creates for his own glory our bodies and souls in all the various dispositions of nature and grace wherein they are at each moment, and refers them to his honor and praise, thus making for himself in us perpetual sacrifices, and taking infinite complacency in all these dispositions because he creates them, according to the words of the Prophet king: “The Lord shall rejoice in his works,” (Ps. ciii. 31) and because in their varieties they are the true and only means by which he gains from us the particular honor he requires at that moment; we should unite ourselves to him dwelling in us, and should, as it were, second him, agreeing to all that he does in us for his glory and with him taking pleasure in it, esteeming ourselves happy to be able to concur with him in so noble a design, and very frequently referring our bodies and souls in all their states to his honor.
Let us in this imitate our Lord in whom the Divinity, sanctifying and deifying the humanity by its personal union with it, consecrated and applied it to its own glory; and that most sacred humanity referred to and employed for the same end without any intermission, its soul, its body, its essence, its faculties, its operations, and its whole being.
The last thing that we must understand is the practice of this divine glorification in us and by us.
It consists, first, in accepting and bearing with a great desire and an ardent zeal for God’s glory, all the dispositions and changes that he produces in us, in our bodies and souls, in whatsoever manner they may come to us.
Secondly, in accepting and bearing them in a spirit of faith, with a sentiment of esteem and approbation of his will; with submission, with humility and great respect, with patience and fortitude, with silence, with love, and with joy.
Thirdly, in referring very frequently during the day our body and soul, our being, our powers, our actions, and all that we are to God’s glory, uniting ourselves to him in order that he in us may refer them to that end, imitating the example our Lord has given us of this.
The more frequently, the more perfectly, that is, with the more zeal, the more faith, and the more of the other virtues, we shall do this, the more excellently we shall glorify God and the greater honor we shall render him.
In conclusion, remember that as God’s will is always invariably fixed to desire and claim his glory, the shortest, easiest, and surest way of glorifying God is to will precisely all that he wills; and in proportion as we do this with more or less resignation, abandonment, and destruction of our own will, the glory we render to God will be greater or less.
Our Lord annihilated himself in order to unite himself to us and to raise us to the degree of honor we now enjoy . . . Therefore, let us annihilate ourselves for him, let us labor to destroy and annihilate in us all that is ever so slightly contrary to his glory and our perfection; let us annihilate our spirit, our judgment, our will, our desires, our inclinations and humors, and let us undertake this task courageously and faithfully. And truly, if he who is All and Sovereign Majesty was pleased to become nothing, and to humble himself infinitely that he might make us something great and exalted, we who intrinsically are nothing, are under all imaginable obligations to abase and annihilate ourselves for him, at Last so far as nothing can abase itself. To incite you to this, keep continually in your mind, and very frequently on your lips, these words, [“he debased himself, he annihilated himself”].
These verses, together with those scattered through our pages, may serve to fix the mystery in our memories, to bind our spirits to it, and to help us to inhale our Lord and draw him into us; for this reason we should during the day frequently repeat them, now one, now another, according to our dispositions.
“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jno. i. 14.) These words should be repeated with faith, love, and reverence, and sometimes with bended knee as the Church requires of her priests when they repeat them in the Mass.
“Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Ps. cxliii. 3.) Lord, what is man that thou shouldst make thyself known to him, even visibly and in his own nature? And the son of man that thou shouldst have regard to him? If thou consultest thy own knowledge thou wilt find that man is only vanity.
“He emptied himself.” (Philipp, ii. 7.) He annihilated himself.