We find two especial manifestations of divine grace in the human heart, whether we turn to Scripture for instances of it, or to the history of the Church; whether we trace it in the case of Saints, or in persons of holy and religious life; and the two are even found among our Lord’s Apostles, being represented by the two foremost of that favoured company, St. Peter and St. John. St. John is the Saint of purity, and St. Peter is the Saint of love. Not that love and purity can ever be separated; not as if a Saint had not all virtues in him at once; not as if St. Peter were not pure as well as loving, and St. John loving, for all he was so pure. The graces of the Spirit cannot be separated from each other; one implies the rest; what is love but a delight in God, a devotion to Him, a surrender of the whole self to Him? what is impurity, on the other hand, but the turning to something of this world, something sinful, as the object of our affections instead of God? What is it but a deliberate abandonment of the Creator for the creature, and seeking pleasure in the shadow of death, not in the all-blissful Presence of light and holiness? The impure then cannot love God; and those who are without love of God cannot really be pure. Purity prepares the soul for love, and love confirms the soul in purity. The flame of love will not be bright unless the substance which feeds it be pure and unadulterate; and the most dazzling purity is but as iciness and desolation unless it draws its life from fervent love.
Yet, certain as this is, it is certain also that the spiritual works of God show differently from each other to our eyes, and that they display, in their character and their history, some of them this virtue more than other virtues, and some that. In other words, it pleases the Giver of grace to endue His Saints specially with certain gifts, for His glory, which light up and beautify one particular portion or department of their souls, so as to cast their other excellences into the shade. And then this special gift of grace becomes their characteristic, and we put it first in our thoughts of them, and consider what they have besides as included in it, or dependent upon it, and speak of them as if they had not the rest, though we know they really have them; and we give them some title or description taken from that particular grace which is so emphatically theirs. And in this way we may speak, as I intend to do in what I am going to say, of two chief classes of Saints, whose emblems are the lily and the rose, who are bright with angelic purity or who burn with divine love.
The two St. Johns are the great instances of the Angelic life. Whom, my brethren, can we conceive to have such majestic and severe sanctity as the Holy Baptist? He had a privilege which reached near upon the prerogative of the Most Blessed Mother of God; for, if she was conceived without sin, at least without sin he was born. She was all-pure, all-holy, and sin had no part in her: but St. John was in the beginning of his existence a partaker of Adam’s curse; he lay under God’s wrath, deprived of that grace which Adam had received, and which is the life and strength of human nature. Yet, as soon as Christ, his Lord and Saviour, came to him, and Mary saluted his own mother, Elizabeth, forthwith the grace of God was given to him, and the original guilt was wiped away from his soul. And therefore it is that we celebrate the nativity of St. John; nothing unholy does the Church celebrate; not St. Peter’s birth, nor St. Paul’s, nor St. Augustine’s, nor St Gregory’s, nor St. Bernard’s, nor St Aloysius’s, nor the nativity of any other Saint, however glorious, because they were all born in sin. She celebrates their conversions, their prerogatives, their martyrdoms, their deaths, their translations, but not their birth, because in no case was it holy. Three nativities alone does she commemorate, our Lord’s, His Mother’s, and lastly, St. John’s. What a special gift was this, my brethren, separating the Baptist off, and distinguishing him from all prophets and preachers, who ever lived, however holy, except perhaps the prophet Jeremias! And such as was his commencement, was the course of his life. He was carried away by the Spirit into the desert, and there he lived on the simplest fare, in the rudest clothing, in the caves of wild beasts, apart from men, for thirty years, leading a life of mortification and of prayer, till he was called to preach penance, to proclaim the Christ, and to baptise Him; and then having done his work, and having left no act of sin on record, he was laid aside as an instrument which had lost its use, and languished in prison, till he was suddenly cut off by the sword of the executioner. Sanctity is the one idea of him impressed upon us from first to last; a most marvellous Saint, a hermit from his childhood, then a preacher to a fallen people, and then a Martyr. Surely such a life fulfils that expectation concerning him that follows on Mary’s salutation of his mother before his birth.
Yet still more beautiful, and almost as majestic, is the image of his namesake, that great Apostle, Evangelist, and Prophet of the Church, who came so early into our Lord’s chosen company, and lived so long after all his fellows. We can contemplate him in his youth and in his venerable age; and on his whole life, from first to last, as his special gift, is marked purity. He is the virgin Apostle, who on that account was so dear to his Lord, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” who lay on His Bosom, who received His Mother from Him when upon the Cross, who had the vision of all the wonders which were to come to pass in the world to the end of time. “Greatly to be honoured,” says the Church, “is blessed John, who on the Lord’s Breast lay at supper, to whom, a virgin, did Christ on the Cross commit his Virgin Mother. He was chosen a virgin by the Lord, and was more beloved than the rest. The special prerogative of chastity had made him meet for his Lord’s larger love, because, being chosen by Him a virgin, a virgin he remained unto the end.” He it was who in his youth professed his readiness to drink Christ’s chalice with Him; who wore away a long life as a desolate stranger in a foreign land; who was at length carried to Rome and plunged into the hot oil, and then was banished to a far island, till his days drew near their close.
O how impossible it is worthily to conceive of the sanctity of these two great servants of God, so different is their whole history, in their lives and in their deaths, yet agreeing together in their seclusion from the world, in their tranquillity, and in their all but sinlessness! Mortal sin had never touched them, and we may well believe that even from deliberate venial sin they were ever exempt; nay, that at particular seasons or on certain occasions they did not sin at all. The rebellion of the reason, the waywardness of the feelings, the disorder of the thoughts, the fever of passion, the treachery of the senses, these evils did the all-powerful grace of God subdue in them. They lived in a world of their own, uniform, serene, abiding; in visions of peace, in communion with heaven, in anticipation of glory; and, if they spoke to the world without, as preachers or as confessors, they spoke as from some sacred shrine, not mixing with men while they addressed them, as “a voice crying in the wilderness” or “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day”. And therefore it is we speak of them rather as patterns of sanctity than of love, because love regards an external object, runs towards it and labours for it, whereas such Saints came so close to the Object of their love, they were granted so to receive Him into their breasts, and so to make themselves one with Him, that their hearts did not so much love heaven as were themselves a heaven, did not so much see light as were light; and they lived among men as those Angels in the old time, who came to the patriarchs and spake as though they were God, for God was in them, and spake by them. Thus these two were almost absorbed in the Godhead, living an angelical life, as far as man could lead one, so calm, so still, so raised above sorrow and fear, disappointment and regret, desire and aversion, as to be the most perfect images that earth has seen of the peace and immutability of God. Such too are the many virgin Saints whom history records for our veneration, St. Joseph, the great St. Antony, St. Cecilia who was waited on by Angels, St. Nicolas of Bari, St. Peter Celestine, St. Rose of Viterbo, St. Catharine of Sienna, and a host of others, and above all, the Virgin of Virgins, and Queen of Virgins, the Blessed Mary, who, though replete and overflowing with the grace of love, yet for the very reason that she was the “seat of wisdom,” and the “ark of the covenant,” is more commonly represented under the emblem of the lily than of the rose.
But now, my brethren, let us turn to the other class of Saints. I have been speaking of those who in a wonderful, sometimes in a miraculous way, have been defended from sin, and conducted from strength to strength, from youth till death; but now suppose it has been the will of God to shed the light and power of His Spirit upon those who have misused the talents, and quenched the grace already given them, and who therefore have a host of evils within them of which they are to be dispossessed; who are under the dominion of obstinate habits, indulged passions, false opinions; who have served Satan, not as infants before their baptism, but with their will, with their reason, with their faculties responsible, and their hearts alive and conscious. Is He to draw these elect Souls to Him without themselves, or by means of themselves? Is He to change them at His word, as He created them, as He will make them die, as He will raise them from the grave, or is He to enter into their souls, to address Himself to them, to persuade them, and so to win them? Doubtless He might have been urgent with them, and masterful; He might by a blessed violence have come upon them, and so turned them into Saints; He might have superseded any process of conversion, and out of the very stones have raised up children to Abraham. But He has willed otherwise; else, why did He manifest Himself on earth? Why did He surround Himself on His coming with so much that was touching and attractive and subduing? Why did He bid His angels proclaim that He was to be seen as a little infant, in a manger and in a Virgin’s bosom, at Bethlehem? Why did He go about doing good? Why did He die in public, before the world, with His mother and His beloved disciple by Him? Why does He now tell us how He is exalted in Heaven with a host of glorified Saints, who are our intercessors, about His throne? Why does He give us His own Mother Mary for our mother, the most perfect image after Himself of what is beautiful and tender, and gentle and soothing, in human nature? Why does He manifest Himself by an ineffable condescension on our Altars, still humbling Himself, though He reigns on high? What does all this show, but that, when souls wander away from Him, He reclaims them by means of themselves, “by cords of Adam,” or of human nature, as the prophet speaks,—conquering us indeed at His will, saving us in spite of ourselves,—and yet by ourselves, so that the very reason and affections of the old Adam, which have been made “the instruments of iniquity unto sin,” should, under the power of His grace, become “the instruments of justice unto God”?
Yes, doubtless He draws us “by cords of Adam,” and what are those cords, but, as the prophet speaks in the same verse, “the cords,” or “the twine of love”? It is the manifestation of the glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ; it is that view of the attributes and perfections of Almighty God; it is the beauty of His sanctity, the sweetness of His mercy, the brightness of His heaven, the majesty of His law, the harmony of His providences, the thrilling music of His voice, which is the antagonist of the flesh, and the soul’s champion against the world and the devil. “Thou hast seduced me, O Lord,” says the prophet, “and I was seduced; Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed;” Thou hast thrown Thy net skilfully, and its subtle threads are entwined round each affection of my heart, and its meshes have been a power of God, “bringing into captivity the whole intellect to the service of Christ”. If the world has its fascinations, so surely has the Altar of the living God; if its pomps and vanities dazzle, so much more should the vision of Angels ascending and descending on the heavenly ladder; if sights of earth intoxicate, and its music is a spell upon the soul, behold Mary pleads with us, over against them, with her chaste eyes, and offers the Eternal Child for our caress, while sounds of cherubim are heard all round singing from out the fulness of the Divine Glory. Has divine hope no emotion? Has divine charity no transport? “How dear are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!” says the prophet; “my soul doth lust, and doth faint for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. Better is one day in Thy courts above a thousand: I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners.”
So is it, as a great Doctor and penitent has said, St. Augustine; “It is not enough to be drawn by the will; thou art also drawn by the sense of pleasure. What is to be drawn by pleasure? ‘Delight thou in the Lord, and He will give thee the petitions of thy heart.’ There is a certain pleasure of heart, when that heavenly Bread is sweet to a man. Moreover, if the poet saith, ‘Every one is drawn by his own pleasure,’ not by necessity, but by pleasure; not by obligation, but by delight; how much more boldly ought we to say, that man is drawn to Christ, when he is delighted with truth, delighted with bliss, delighted with justice, delighted with eternal life, all which is Christ? Have the bodily senses their pleasures, and is the mind without its own? If so, whence is it said, ‘The sons of men shall hope under the covering of Thy wings; they shall be intoxicate with the richness of Thy house, and with the torrent of Thy pleasure shalt Thou give them to drink: for with Thee is the well of life, and in Thy light we shall see light’? ‘He, whom the Father draweth, cometh to Me’?” he continues; “Whom hath the Father drawn? him who said, ‘Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God’. You present a green branch to the sheep, and you draw it forward; fruits are offered to the child, and he is drawn; in that he runs, he is drawn, he is drawn by loving, drawn without bodily hurt, drawn by the bond of the heart. If then it be true that the sight of earthly delight draws on the lover, doth not Christ too draw us when revealed by the Father? For what doth the soul desire more strongly than truth?”
Such are the means which God has provided for the creation of the Saint out of the sinner; He takes him as he is, and uses him against himself: He turns his affections into another channel, and extinguishes a carnal love by infusing a heavenly charity. Not as if He used him as a mere irrational creature, who is impelled by instincts and governed by external incitements without any will of his own, and to whom one pleasure is the same as another, the same in kind, though different in degree. I have already said, it is the very triumph of His grace, that He enters into the heart of man, and persuades it, and prevails with it, while He changes it. He violates in nothing that original constitution of mind which He gave to man: He treats him as man; He leaves him the liberty of acting this way or that; He appeals to all his powers and faculties, to his reason, to his prudence, to his moral sense, to his conscience: He rouses his fears as well as his love; He instructs him in the depravity of sin, as well as in the mercy of God; but still, on the whole, the animating principle of the new life, by which it is both kindled and sustained, is the flame of charity. This only is strong enough to destroy the old Adam, to dissolve the tyranny of habit, to quench the fires of concupiscence, and to burn up the strongholds of pride.
And hence it is that love is presented to us as the distinguishing grace of those who were sinners before they were Saints; not that love is not the life of all Saints, of those who have never needed a conversion, of the Most Blessed Virgin, of the two St. John’s, and of those others, many in number, who are “first-fruits unto God and the Lamb;” but that, while in those who have never sinned gravely love is so contemplative as almost to resolve itself into the sanctity of God Himself; in those, on the contrary, in whom it dwells as a principle of recovery, it is so full of devotion, of zeal, of activity, and good works, that it gives a visible character to their history, and is ever associating itself with our thoughts of them.
Such was the great Apostle, on whom the Church is built, and whom I contrasted, when I began, with his fellow-Apostle St. John: whether we contemplate him after his first calling, or on his repentance, he who denied his Lord, out of all the Apostles, is the most conspicuous for his love of Him. It was for this love of Christ, flowing on, as it did, from its impetuosity and exuberance, into love of the brethren, that he was chosen to be the chief Pastor of the fold. “Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me more than these?” was the trial put on him by his Lord; and the reward was, “Feed My lambs, feed My sheep”. Wonderful to say, the Apostle whom Jesus loved, was yet surpassed in love for Jesus by a brother Apostle, not virginal as he; for it is not John of whom our Lord asked this question, and who was rewarded with this commission, but Peter.
Look back at an earlier passage of the same narrative; there, too, the two Apostles are similarly contrasted in their respective characters; for when they were in the boat, and their Lord spoke to them from the shore, and “they knew not that it was Jesus,” first “that disciple, whom Jesus loved, said to Peter, It is the Lord,” for “the clean of heart shall see God;” and then at once “Simon Peter,” in the impetuosity of his love, “girt his tunic about him, and cast himself into the sea,” to reach Him the quicker. St. John beholds and St. Peter acts.
Thus the very presence of Jesus enkindled Peter’s heart, and at once drew him unto Him; also at a former time, when he saw his Lord walking on the sea, his very first impulse was, as in the passage to which I have been referring, to leave the vessel and hasten to His side: “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come to Thee upon the waters”. And when he had been betrayed into his great sin, the very Eye of Jesus brought him to himself: “And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, and he went out and wept bitterly”. Hence, on another occasion, when many of the disciples fell away, and “Jesus said to the twelve, Do you too wish to go away?” St. Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have known that Thou art Christ, the Son of God.”
Such, too, was that other great Apostle, who, in so many ways, is associated with St. Peter—the Doctor of the Gentiles. He indeed was converted miraculously, by our Lord’s appearing to him, when he was on his way to carry death to the Christians of Damascus: but how does he speak? “Whether we are beside ourselves,” he says, “it is to God; or whether we be sober, it is for you: for the charity of Christ constraineth us. If, therefore, any be a new creature in Christ, old things have passed away, behold all things are made new.” And so again: “With Christ am I nailed to the cross; but I live, yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me”. And again: “I am the least of the Apostles, who am not worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace in me hath not been void, but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” And once more: “Whether we live, unto the Lord we live; whether we die, unto the Lord we die; whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s”. You see, my brethren, the character of St. Paul’s love; it was a love fervent, eager, energetic, active, full of great works, “strong as death,” as the inspired Word says, a flame which “many waters could not quench, nor the streams drown,” which lasted to the end, when he could say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; henceforth is laid up for me the crown of justice, which the Lord will render to me at that day, the just Judge”.
And there is a third, my brethren, there is an illustrious third in Scripture, whom we must associate with these two great Apostles, when we speak of the saints of penance and love. Who is it but the loving Magdalen? Who is it so fully instances what I am showing, as “the woman who was a sinner,” who watered the Lord’s feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair, and anointed them with precious ointment? What a time for such an act! She, who had come into the room, as if for a festive purpose, to go about an act of penance! It was a formal banquet, given by a rich Pharisee, to honour, yet to try, our Lord. Magdalen came, young and beautiful, and “rejoicing in her youth,” “walking in the ways of her heart and the gaze of her eyes:” she came as if to honour that feast, as women were wont to honour such festive doings, with her sweet odours and cool unguents for the forehead and hair of the guests. And he, the proud Pharisee, suffered her to come, so that she touched not him; let her come as we might suffer inferior animals to enter our apartments, without caring for them; perhaps suffered her as a necessary embellishment of the entertainment, yet as having no soul, or as destined to perdition, but anyhow as nothing to him. He, proud being, and his brethren like him, might “compass sea and land to make one proselyte;” but, as to looking into that proselyte’s heart, pitying its sin, and trying to heal it, this did not enter into the circuit of his thoughts. No, he thought only of the necessities of his banquet, and he let her come to do her part, such as it was, careless what her life was, so that she did that part well, and confined herself to it. But, lo, a wondrous sight! was it a sudden inspiration, or a mature resolve? was it an act of the moment, or the result of a long conflict?—but behold, that poor, many-coloured child of guilt approaches to crown with her sweet ointment the head of Him to whom the feast was given; and see, she has stayed her hand. She has looked, and she discerns the Immaculate, the Virgin’s Son, “the brightness of the Eternal Light, and the spotless mirror of God’s majesty”. She looks, and she recognises the Ancient of Days, the Lord of life and death, her Judge; and again she looks, and she sees in His face and in His mien a beauty, and a sweetness, awful, serene, majestic, more than that of the sons of men, which paled all the splendour of that festive room. Again she looks, timidly yet eagerly, and she discerns in His eye, and in His smile, the loving-kindness, the tenderness, the compassion, the mercy of the Saviour of man. She looks at herself, and oh! how vile, how hideous is she, who but now was so vain of her attractions!—how withered is that comeliness, of which the praises ran through the mouths of her admirers!—how loathsome has become the breath, which hitherto she thought so fragrant, savouring only of those seven bad spirits which dwell within her! And there she would have stayed, there she would have sunk on the earth, wrapped in her confusion and in her despair, had she not cast one glance again on that all-loving, all-forgiving Countenance. He is looking at her: it is the Shepherd looking at the lost sheep, and the lost sheep surrenders herself to Him. He speaks not, but He eyes her; and she draws nearer to Him. Rejoice, ye Angels, she draws near, seeing nothing but Him, and caring neither for the scorn of the proud, nor the jests of the profligate. She draws near, not knowing whether she shall be saved or not, not knowing whether she shall be received, or what will become of her; this only knowing that He is the Fount of holiness and truth, as of mercy, and to whom should she go, but to Him who hath the words of eternal life? “Destruction is thine own, O Israel; in Me only is thy help. Return unto Me, and I will not turn away My face from thee: for I am holy, and will not be angry for ever.” “Behold we come unto thee; for Thou art the Lord our God. Truly the hills are false, and the multitude of the mountains: Truly the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.” Wonderful meeting between what was most base and what is most pure! Those wanton hands, those polluted lips, have touched, have kissed the feet of the Eternal, and He shrank not from the homage. And as she hung over them, and as she moistened them from her full eyes, how did her love for One so great, yet so gentle, wax vehement within her, lighting up a flame which never was to die from that moment even for ever! and what excess did it reach, when He recorded before all men her forgiveness, and the cause of it! “Many sins are forgiven her, for she loved much; but to whom less is forgiven, the same loveth less. And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven thee; thy faith hath made thee safe, go in peace.”
Henceforth, my brethren, love was to her, as to St. Augustine and to St. Ignatius Loyola afterwards (great penitents in their own time), as a wound in the soul, so full of desire as to become anguish. She could not live out of the presence of Him in whom her joy lay: her spirit languished after Him, when she saw Him not; and waited on Him silently, reverently, wistfully, when she was in His blissful Presence. We read of her (if it was she), on one occasion, sitting at His feet to hear His words, and of His testifying that she had chosen that best part which should not be taken away from her. And, after His resurrection, she, by her perseverance, merited to see Him even before the Apostles. She would not leave the sepulchre, when Peter and John retired, but stood without, weeping; and when the Lord appeared to her, and held her eyes that she should not know Him, she said piteously to the supposed keeper of the garden, “Tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away”. And when at length He made Himself known to her, she turned herself, and rushed impetuously to embrace His feet, as at the beginning, but He, as if to prove the dutifulness of her love, forbade her: “Touch Me not,” He said, “for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”. And so she was left to long for the time when she should see Him, and hear His voice, and enjoy His smile, and be allowed to minister to Him, for ever in heaven.
Such then is the second great class of Saints, as viewed in contrast with the first. Love is the life of both: but while the love of the innocent is calm and serene, the love of the penitent is ardent and impetuous, commonly engaged in contest with the world, and active in good works. And this is the love which you, my brethren, must have in your measure, if you would have a good hope of salvation. For you were once sinners; either by open and avowed contempt of religion, or by secret transgression, or by carelessness and coldness, or by some indulged bad habit, or by setting your heart on some object of this world, and doing your own will instead of God’s, I think I may say you have needed, or now need, a reconciliation to Him. You have needed, or you need, to be brought near to Him, and to have your sins washed away in His blood, and your pardon recorded in Heaven. And what will do this for you, but contrition? and what is contrition without love? I do not say that you must have the love which Saints have, in order to your forgiveness, the love of St. Peter or of St. Mary Magdalen; but still without your portion of that same heavenly grace, how can you be forgiven at all? If you would do works meet for penance, they must proceed from a living flame of charity. If you would secure perseverance to the end, you must gain it by continual loving prayer to the Author and Finisher of faith and obedience. If you would have a good prospect of His acceptance of you in your last moments, still it is love alone which secures His love, and blots out sin. My brethren, at that awful hour you may be unable to obtain the last Sacraments; death may come on you suddenly, or you may be at a distance from a Priest. You may be thrown on yourselves, simply on your own compunction of heart, your own repentance, your own resolutions of amendment. You may have been weeks and weeks at a distance from spiritual aid; you may have to meet your God without the safeguard, the compensation, the mediation of any holy rite; and oh! what will save you at such disadvantage, but the exercise of divine love “poured over your hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to you”? At that hour nothing but a firm habit of charity, which has kept you from mortal sins, or a powerful act of charity which blots them out, will be of any avail to you. Nothing but charity can enable you to live well or to die well. How can you bear to lie down at night, how can you bear to go a journey, how can you bear the presence of pestilence, or the attack of ever so slight an indisposition, if you are ill provided in yourselves with divine love against that change, which will come on you some day, yet when and how you know not? Alas! how will you present yourselves before the judgment-seat of Christ, with the imperfect mixed feelings which now satisfy you, with a certain amount of faith, and trust, and fear of God’s judgments, but with nothing of that real delight in Him, in His attributes, in His will, in His commandments, in His service, which Saints possess in such fulness, and which alone can give the soul a comfortable title to the merits of His death and passion?
How different is the feeling with which the loving soul, on its separation from the body, approaches the judgment-seat of its Redeemer! It knows how great a debt of punishment remains upon it, though it has for many years been reconciled to Him; it knows that purgatory lies before it, and that the best it can reasonably hope for is to be sent there. But to see His face, though for a moment! to hear His voice, to hear Him speak, though it be to punish! O Saviour of men, it says, I come to Thee, though it be in order to be at once remanded from Thee; I come to Thee who art my Life and my All; I come to Thee on the thought of whom I have lived all my life long. To Thee I gave myself when first I had to take a part in the world; I sought Thee for my chief good early, for early didst Thou teach me, that good elsewhere there was none. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? whom have I desired on earth, whom have I had on earth, but Thee? whom shall I have amid the sharp flame but Thee? Yea, though I be now descending thither, into “a land desert, pathless and without water,” I will fear no ill, for Thou art with me. I have seen Thee this day face to face, and it sufficeth; I have seen Thee, and that glance of Thine is sufficient for a century of sorrow, in the nether prison. I will live on that look of Thine, though I see Thee not, till I see Thee again, never to part from Thee. That eye of Thine shall be sunshine and comfort to my weary, longing soul; that voice of Thine shall be everlasting music in my ears. Nothing can harm me, nothing shall discompose me: I will bear the appointed years, till the end comes, bravely and sweetly. I will raise my voice, and chant a perpetual Confiteor to Thee and to Thy Saints in that dreary valley;—”to God Omnipotent, and to the Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin,” (Thy Mother and mine, immaculate in her conception), “and to blessed Michael Archangel,” (created in his purity by the very hand of God), and “to Blessed John Baptist,” (sanctified even in his mother’s womb); and after these three, “to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul,” (penitents, who compassionate the sinner from their experience of sin); “to all Saints,” (whether they have lived in contemplation or in toil, during the days of their pilgrimage), to all Saints will I address my supplication, that they may “remember me, since it is well with them, and do mercy by me, and make mention of me unto the King that He bring me out of prison”. And then at length “God shall wipe away every tear from my eyes, and death shall be no longer, nor mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things are passed away”.
Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 4, 62-82.