Robert B. The 7 words 100
St. Andrew, on beholding the cross on which he was to be crucified, exclaimed: "Hail, precious cross, that hast been adorned by the precious limbs of my Lord. Long have I desired thee, ardently have I sought thee, uninterruptedly have I loved thee, and now I find thee ready to receive my longing soul. Secure and full of joy I come to thee, and do thou receive me into thy embrace, for I am the disciple of Christ my Lord, Who redeemed me by hanging upon thee."
Now what shall we say of the infinite charity of God. Previously to His Death our Lord said, "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (Jn 15,13). Christ literally laid down His life, for against His will no one could deprive Him of it. "No man taketh it away from Me; but I lay it down of Myself." (Jn 10,18).A man cannot show greater love for his friends than by giving his life for them, since nothing is more precious or dearer than life, as it is the foundation of every happiness. "For what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?" (Mt 16,26) that is, his life. Each one instinctively repels with all his strength an attack made upon his life. We read in Job: "Skin for skin, and all that a man hath will he give for his life." (Jb 2,4). So far, however, we have looked upon this fact in a general way; we will now descend to particulars. In many ways, and in an ineffable manner, Christ showed His love towards the whole human race, and to each individual, by dying on the Cross. In the first place, His life was the most precious of all lives, since it was the life of the Man-God, the life of the most mighty of Kings, the life of the wisest of Doctors, the life of the best of men. In the second place He laid down this life for His enemies, for sinners, for ungrateful wretches. Moreover, He laid down His life in order that at the price of His own Blood, these sinners, these ungrateful wretches, should be snatched from the flames of hell. And lastly, He laid down His life to make these enemies, these sinners, these ungrateful wretches, His brothers, co-heirs and joint possessors with Him of eternal happiness in the kingdom of heaven. Shall there now be one soul so callous and so ungrateful as not to love Jesus Christ with its whole heart? Shall there be one Christian soul unwilling to bear any affliction to secure His grace and live? O God, turn our hardened stony hearts to Thee, and not our hearts only, but the hearts of all Christians, the hearts of all men, even the hearts of infidels who have never known Thee, and of atheists who have denied Thee.
CHAPTER XXI: The second fruit to be drawn from the consideration of the seventh Word spoken by Christ upon the Cross.
Another and most profitable fruit would be gathered from the consideration of this word if we could form the habit of frequently repeating to ourselves the prayer which Christ our Master taught us on the Cross with His dying breath; "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit." (Lc 23,46). Our Lord was under no such necessity as we are for making such a prayer. He was the Son of God and the Most Holy. We are servants and sinners, and consequently our holy Mother and Mistress the Church, teaches us to make a constant use of this prayer, and to repeat not only the part which our Lord used, but the whole of it as it is found in the Psalms of David: "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth." (Ps 30,6). Our Lord omitted the last part of the verse because He was the Redeemer and not one of the redeemed, but we who have been redeemed with His precious Blood must not omit it. Moreover, Christ, as the Only-Begotten Son of God, prayed to His Father, we, on the other hand, pray to Christ as our Redeemer, and consequently we do not say: "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit," but, "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit, Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth." The Proto-martyr St. Stephen was the first to use this prayer when at the point of death he exclaimed: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Ac 7,58).
Our holy Mother the Church teaches us to make use of this ejaculation on three different occasions. She teaches us to say it daily at the beginning of Complin, as those who recite the Divine Office can bear me out. Secondly, when we approach the Holy Eucharist, after the "Domine non sum dignus," the priest says first for himself and then for the other communicants, "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit." Lastly, at the point of death, she recommends all the faithful to imitate their dying Lord in the use of this prayer. There can be no doubt that we are ordered to say this versicle at Complin, because that part of the Divine Office is recited at the end of the day, and St. Basil in his rules explains how easy it is when darkness first comes on, and night sets in to commend our spirit to God, so that if a sudden death overtake us we may not be found unprepared. The reason why the same ejaculation should be used at the moment we receive the Blessed Eucharist is clear, for the reception of the Blessed Eucharist is perilous and at the same time so necessary that we cannot approach too often nor altogether absent ourselves without danger: "Whoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and of the Blood of our Lord," and "eateth and drinketh judgment to himself." (1Co 11,11-29). And he who does not receive the Body of Christ our Lord does not receive the bread of life, even life itself. So we are surrounded with perils like starved and famished men who are uncertain whether the food that is offered them is poisoned or not. With fear and trembling then ought we to exclaim, Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, unless Thou in Thy goodness makest me worthy, and therefore say only the word and my soul shall be healed. But since I have no reason to doubt whether Thou wouldst deign to heal my wounds, I commend my spirit into Thy hands, so that in an affair of such moment Thou mayest be near and assist my soul which Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious Blood.
If some Christians would seriously think of these things they would not be so eager to receive the priesthood with the object of gaining their livelihood from the stipends they receive for their Masses. Such priests are not as anxious to approach this great Sacrifice with a fitting preparation, as they are anxious to obtain the end they propose to themselves, which is to secure food for their bodies and not for their souls. There are others also, attendants at the palaces of prelates or princes, who approach this tremendous mystery through human respect, lest perchance they should incur the displeasure of their masters by not communicating at the regularly constituted times. What then is to be done? Is it more advantageous seldom to approach this Divine Banquet? Certainly not. Far better is it to approach often but with due preparation, for, as St. Cyril says, the less often we approach the less prepared are we to receive the heavenly manna.
The approach of death is a time when it behoves us with great ardour to repeat over and over again the prayer: "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit; Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth." For if our soul when it leaves the body falls into the hands of Satan, there is no hope of salvation; if on the contrary, it falls into the paternal hands of God, there is no longer any cause for fearing the power of our enemy. Consequently with intense grief, with true and perfect contrition, with unbounded confidence in the infinite mercy of our God we must at that dread moment over and over again cry out: "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit." And as in that last moment, those who during life thought little of God are most severely tempted to despair, because they have now no longer time for repentance, they must take up the shield of faith, by remembering that it is written, "The wickedness of the wicked shall not hurt him in what day soever he shall turn from his wickedness," (Ez 33,12) and the helmet of hope, by trusting in the goodness and compassion of God, and continually repeat, "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit," nor fail to add that part of the prayer which is the foundation of our hope, "for Thou hast redeemed us, O Lord, the God of truth." Who can give back to Jesus Christ the innocent Blood He has shed for us? Who can repay the ransom with which He purchased us? St. Augustine, in the ninth book of his Confessions, encourages each Christian soul to place unlimited confidence in our Redeemer, because the work of redemption being once accomplished can never be useless or invalid, unless we place an unsurmountable barrier to its effect by our impenitence and despair.
CHAPTER XXII: The third fruit to be drawn from the consideration of the seventh Word spoken by Christ upon the Cross.
The third fruit to be gathered is this. At the approach of death we must not rely too much on the alms, the fastings, and the prayers of our relations and friends. Many during life forget all about their souls, and think of nothing else and do nothing else than heap up money so that their children or nephews may abound in riches. When death approaches they begin for the first time to think of their own souls, and as they have left all their worldly substance to their relatives, they also commend to them their souls to be assisted by their alms, their prayers, the Sacrifice of the Mass, and other good works. The example of Christ does not teach us to act in this manner. He commended His Spirit not to His relations but to His Father. St. Peter does not tell us to act in this manner, but to "commend" our "souls in good deeds to the faithful Creator." (1P 4,19).
I do not find fault with those who order or seek or desire that alms should be given and the holy Sacrifice offered for the repose of their souls, but I blame those who place too much confidence in the prayers of their children and relatives, since experience shows us the dead are soon forgotten. I complain also that in an affair of such moment as eternal salvation Christians should not work for themselves, should not themselves bestow their alms, and secure friends by whom according to the Gospel they may be received "into everlasting dwellings." (Lc 14,9). Lastly I severely reprehend those who do not obey the Prince of the Apostles, who orders us to commend our souls to our faithful Creator not by our words only but by our good deeds. The deeds which will be of advantage to us in the sight of God are those which efficaciously and truly render us pious Christians. Let us listen to the voice from Heaven which sounded in the ears of St. John: "And I heard a voice from Heaven, saying to me: Write, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, for their works follow them." (Ap 14,13). The good works therefore that are done whilst we are living, and not those which are done for us after death by our children and relatives, are the good works which will follow us, particularly if they are not only good in themselves, but, as St. Peter not without a hidden meaning expresses it, are well done. Many can enumerate countless good works of their own--many sermons, daily Masses, recitation of the Divine Office for years, the annual fast of Lent, frequent almsgiving; but when these are weighed in the Divine scales, and there is a rigid scrutiny whether they have been well done, with a right intention, with due devotion, at their proper time and place, with a heart full of gratitude to God, oh, how many things which appeared meritorious will turn to our detriment? how many things which to the judgment of men appeared gold and silver and precious stones, will be found to be wood and straw and stubble fit only for the fire? This consideration alarms me not a little, and the nearer I approach death, for the Apostle warns me, "That which decayeth and groweth old is near its end," (He 8,13) the clearer do I see the necessity of following the advice of St. John Chrysostom. That holy doctor tells us not to think much of our good works, because if they are really good, that is well performed, they are written by God in the Book of Life, and there is no danger of our being defrauded of our just merits, but he encourages us to think rather of our evil deeds, and endeavour to make atonement for them with a contrite heart and a humble spirit, with many tears and a serious penance." Those who follow this advice may exclaim with great confidence at the moment of death: "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth."
CHAPTER XXIII: The fourth fruit to be drawn from the consideration of the seventh Word spoken by Christ upon the Cross.
There follows a fourth fruit to be gathered from the most happy manner in which this prayer of Jesus Christ was heard, which should animate us to greater fervour in commending our spirits to God. With great truth does the Apostle say that our Lord Jesus Christ "was heard for His reverence." (He 5)
Our Lord prayed to His Father, as we have shown above, for the speedy resurrection of His Body. The prayer was granted, for the resurrection was not prolonged longer than was necessary to establish the fact that the Body of our Lord was really separated from His Soul. Unless it could be proved that His Body had been really deprived of life, the resurrection and the structure of Christian faith which is built upon that mystery would fall to the ground. Christ ought to have laid in the tomb for at least forty hours to accomplish the sign of the Prophet Jonas which He Himself said was a figure of His own Death. In order that the resurrection of Christ might be hastened as much as possible, and that it might be evident His prayer had been heard, the three days and the three nights which Jonas spent in the whale's belly, were, as regards the resurrection of Christ, reduced to one full day and parts of two other days. So the time our Lord's Body was in the tomb cannot properly, but by a figure of speech only, be called three days and three nights. God the Father not only heard the prayer of Christ by accelerating the time of His resurrection, but by giving to His dead Body a life incomparably better than it enjoyed before. Before His Death the life of Christ was mortal; the life restored to Him was immortal. Before His Death the life of Christ was passible, and subject to hunger and thirst, fatigue and wounds; the life restored to Him was impassible. Before His Death the life of Christ was corporeal; the life restored to Him was spiritual, and the Body was so subject to the spirit that in the twinkling of an eye it could be borne wherever the Soul wished. The Apostle gives the reason why the prayer of Christ was so readily granted by saying that "He was heard for His reverence." The Greek word conveys the idea of reverential fear which was a distinguishing trait of the regard which Christ felt for His Father. Thus Isaias in enumerating the gifts of the Holy Ghost which were to adorn the Soul of Christ says: "And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness, and He shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord." (Is 11,2-3). In proportion as the Soul of Christ was filled with a reverential fear for His Father, the Father was filled with complacency in His Son: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." (Mt 17,5). And as the Son reverenced the Father, so the Father ever heard His prayer and granted what He asked.
It follows then that if we desire to be heard by our Heavenly Father, and have our prayers granted, we must imitate Christ in approaching our Father Who is in heaven with great reverence, and prefer His honour before all things else. It will thus come to pass that our petitions will be heard, and especially the one on which our lot for eternity depends, that at the approach of death God should preserve our souls, which have been commended to His keeping, from the roaring lion which is standing ready to receive its prey. Let no one think, however, that reverence to God is shown merely in genuflections, in uncovering the head, and such external marks of worship and honour. In addition to all this, reverential fear implies a great dread of offending the Divine Majesty, an intimate and continual horror of sin not from the fear of punishment, but from the love of God. He was endowed with this reverential fear who dared not even to think of sinning against God: "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, he shall delight exceedingly in His commandments." (Ps 111,1). Such a man truly fears God, and may consequently be called blessed, since he strives to observe all His commandments. The holy widow Judith "was greatly renowned among all because she feared the Lord very much." (Jdt 8,8). She was both young and rich but never gave or yielded to any occasion of sin. She remained with her maidens secluded in her chamber, and " wore haircloth upon her loins, and fasted every day except on the feasts of the House of Israel." (Jdt 8,6). Behold with what zeal, even under the Old Law, which allowed greater freedom than the Gospel, a young and rich woman avoided sins of the flesh and for no other reason than " because she feared the Lord very much." The Sacred Scripture mentions the same of holy Job who made a compact with his eyes not to look at a virgin, that is, he would not look at a virgin lest any shadow of an impure thought should cross his mind. Why did Holy Job take such precautions? "I made a covenant with my eyes that I would not so much as think upon a virgin. For what part should God from above have in me, and what inheritance the Almighty from on high?" (Jb 31,1-2). Which means that if any impure thought should defile him he would no longer be the inheritance of God, nor would God be his portion. If I wished to mention the examples of the saints of the New Law I should never finish. This, then, is the reverential fear of the saints. If we were filled with the same fear there would be nothing which we could not easily obtain from our Heavenly Father.
CHAPTER XXIV: The fifth fruit to be drawn from the consideration of the seventh Word spoken by Christ upon the Cross.
The last fruit is drawn from the consideration of the obedience shown by Christ in His last words and in His Death upon the Cross. The words of the Apostle: "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross," (Ph 2,8). received their complete fulfilment when our Lord expired with these words upon His lips: "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit." In order to gather the most precious fruit from the tree of the holy Cross it must be our endeavour to examine everything that can be said about the obedience of Christ. He, the Master and the Pattern of every virtue, tendered to His heavenly Father an obedience so ready and so perfect as to render it impossible to imagine or conceive anything greater.
In the first place, the obedience of Christ to His Father began with His Conception and continued uninterruptedly to His Death. The life of our Lord Jesus Christ was one perpetual act of obedience. The Soul of Christ from the moment of its creation enjoyed the exercise of its free will, was full of grace and wisdom, and consequently, even when inclosed in His Mother's womb, was capable of practising the virtue of obedience. The Psalmist speaking in the Person of Christ says: "In the head of the book it is written of Me that I should do Thy will. O My God, I have desired it, and Thy law in the midst of My Heart." (Ps 39,8-9). These words may be thus simplified: " In the head of the book"--that is from the beginning to the end of the inspired writings of Scripture--it is shown that I was chosen and sent into the world "to do Thy will. O My God, I have desired it," and freely accepted it. I have placed "Thy law," Thy commandment, Thy desire, "in the midst of My Heart," to ponder upon it constantly, to obey it accurately and promptly. The very words of Christ Himself mean the same. "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, that I may perfect His work." (Jn 4,34). For as a man does not take food now and again and at distant intervals during life, but daily eats and takes a pleasure in it, so Christ our Lord was intent upon being obedient to His Father every day of His life. It was His joy and His pleasure. "I came down from Heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." (Jn 6,38). And again. "He that sent Me is with Me, and He hath not left Me alone; for I do always the things that please Him." (Jn 8,29). And since obedience is the most excellent of all sacrifices, as Samuel told Saul, (1S 15,22) so every action which Christ performed during His life was a sacrifice most pleasing to the Divine Majesty. The first prerogative then of our Lord's obedience is that it lasted from the moment of His Conception to His Death upon the Cross.
In the second place, the obedience of Christ was not confined to one particular kind of duty, as is sometimes the case with other men, but it extended to everything which it pleased the Eternal Father to order. From this arose the many vicissitudes in our Lord's life. At one time we see Him in the desert neither eating nor drinking, perhaps even depriving Himself of sleep, and living "with the beasts." (Mc 1,13). At another time we see Him mixing up with men, eating and drinking with them. Now He is living in obscurity and silence at Nazareth. Now He appears before the world endowed with eloquence and wisdom, and working miracles. On one occasion He exerts His authority and drives those from the temple who were defiling it by bartering within its precincts. On another occasion He hides Himself, and like a weak powerless man withdraws from the crowd. All these different actions required a soul devoid of self, and devoted to the will of another. Unless He had previously set the example of renouncing everything which human nature cherishes, He would not have said to His disciples: "If any man will come after Me let him deny himself," (Mt 16,24). let him give up his own will, renounce his own judgment. Unless He had been prepared to lay down His life with such willingness as to make it appear He really hated it, He would not have encouraged His disciples with such words as, "If any man come to Me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." (Lc 14,26). This renunciation of self, which was so conspicuous in our Lord's character, is the true root and, as it were, mother of obedience, and those who are not prepared for this self-sacrifice will never acquire the perfection of obedience. How can a man promptly obey the will of another if he prefers his own will and judgment to that of another? The vast orbs of heaven obey the laws of nature both in their rising and in their setting. The Angels are obedient to the will of God. They have no will of their own in opposition to that of God, but are happily united with God, and are one spirit with Him. And so the Psalmist sings: "Bless the Lord, all ye His Angels: you that are mighty in strength and execute His word, hearkening to the voice of His orders." (Ps 102,20).
In the third place, the obedience of Christ was not only infinite in its length and breadth, but in proportion as by suffering it was humble in the lowest degree, so as to its reward is it exalted. The third characteristic then of the obedience of Christ is that it was tried by suffering and humiliations. To accomplish the Will of His heavenly Father, the Infant Christ, with the full use of every faculty, consented to be inclosed for nine months in the dark prison of His Mother's womb. Other infants feel not this privation as they have not the use of reason, but Christ had the use of reason and must have dreaded the confinement in the narrow womb, even of her whom He had chosen to be His Mother. Through obedience to His Father, and from the love He bore to man, He overcame this dread, and the Church says: "When Thou didst take upon Thee to deliver Man, Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb." Again, our dear Lord needed no small amount of patience and humility, to assume the manners and the weaknesses of a child, when He was not only wiser than Solomon, but was the Man " in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Col 2,3).
Consider, moreover, what must have been His forbearance and meekness, His patience and humility, to have remained for eighteen years, from His twelfth to His thirtieth year, hidden in an obscure house at Nazareth, to have been regarded as the son of a carpenter, to have been called a carpenter, to have been thought an ignorant uneducated man, when at the same time His wisdom surpassed that of all Angels and men together. During His public life He acquired great renown by His preaching and miracles, but He suffered great wants and endured many hardships. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His Head." (Lc 9,58). Footsore and fatigued He would sit Himself down at the side of a well. And yet He could easily have surrounded Himself with an abundance of all things by the ministry of men or Angels, had He not been restrained by the obedience He owed His Father. Shall I dwell on the contradictions He suffered, on the insults He endured, on the calumnies which were spoken against Him, on the scourges and the crown of thorns of His Passion, on the ignominy of the Cross itself? His humble obedience has taken such deep root that we can only wonder at it and admire it; we cannot perfectly imitate it.
There is yet a deeper depth to His obedience. The obedience of Christ finally reached this stage, that with a loud voice He cried out: "Father into Thy hands I commend My Spirit. And saying this He gave up the ghost." (Lc 23,46). It would appear that the Son of God wished to address His Father in this wise: "This commandment have I received of you, My Father," (Lc 23,46) to lay down My life in order to receive it again from Your hands. The time has now come for Me to execute this last commandment of Yours. And although the separation of My Soul and Body will be a bitter separation, because from the moment of their creation they have remained united in great peace and love, and although death found an entrance into this world through the malice of the devil, and human nature rebels against death, nevertheless Thy commandment is fixed deep in the inmost recesses of My Heart, and shall prevail even over death itself. Therefore am I prepared to taste the bitterness of death, and drink to the dregs the chalice you have prepared for Me. But as it is your wish that I should lay down My life in such a manner as to receive it back again from You, so "into Your hands I commend My Spirit," in order that You may restore it to Me at Your pleasure. And then, having received His Father's permission to die, He bowed down His Head in token of His obedience, and gave up the ghost. His obedience conquered and prevailed. Not only did it receive its reward in the Person of Christ, Who, because He humbled Himself beneath all, and obeyed all for the sake of His Father, has been assumed into heaven, and from His throne there governs and rules all, but it has its reward also in this, that all who imitate Christ shall ascend the highest heavens, shall be placed as masters over all the goods of their Lord, and shall be sharers of His royal dignity and possessors of His kingdom for ever. On the other hand, the virtue of obedience has gained such a signal victory over rebellious, disobedient, and proud spirits, as to make them tremble and fly from the sight of the Cross of Christ.
Whosoever desires to attain to the glory of heaven, and to find true peace and rest for his soul, must imitate the example of Christ. Not only religious who have bound themselves by a vow of obedience to their Superior, who holds the place of God in their regard, but all men who wish to be the disciples and brothers of Christ must aspire to gain this spiritual victory over themselves, otherwise they will be miserable for ever with the proud demons of hell. Inasmuch as obedience is a Divine precept, and has been imposed upon all, it is necessary for all. To all without exception were the words of Christ addressed: "Take up My yoke upon you." (Mt 11,29). To all preachers of the Gospel does He say; "Obey your prelates and be subject to them." (He 13,17). To all kings does Samuel say: "Doth the Lord desire holocausts and victims, and not rather that the Voice of the Lord should be obeyed? For obedience is better than sacrifices." (1S 15,22-23). And to show the enormity of the sin of disobedience he added: "Because it is like the sin of witchcraft to rebel "against the commands of the Lord, or the commands of those who hold the place of the Lord.
For the sake of those who voluntarily devote themselves to the practice of obedience, and submit their wills to that of their Superior, I will say a few words on their happy state of life. The prophet Jeremias, inspired by the Holy Ghost, says: "It is good for a man, when he hath borne the yoke from his youth. He shall sit solitary and hold his peace, because he hath taken it up upon himself." (Lm 3,27-28). How great is the happiness contained in these words: "It is good!" From the rest of the sentence we may conclude that they embrace everything that is useful, honourable, agreeable, in fact, everything in which happiness may consist. The man that has been accustomed from his youth to the yoke of obedience, will be free throughout life from the crushing yoke of carnal desires. St. Augustine, in the eighth book of his Confessions, acknowledges the difficulty which a soul, that for years had obeyed the concupiscence of the flesh, must experience in shaking off the yoke, and on the other hand he speaks of the facility and of the bliss we experience in carrying the yoke of the Lord if the snares of vice have not entrapped the soul. Moreover, it is no inconsiderable gain to obtain merit for every action in the sight of God. The man who performs no action of his own free will, but does everything through obedience to his Superior, offers to God in each action a sacrifice most pleasing to Him, because as Samuel says: "Obedience is better than sacrifices." (1S 15,23). St. Gregory gives a reason for this. "In offering victims," he says, "we sacrifice the flesh of another; by obedience our own will is sacrificed." And what is still more admirable in this is, that even if a Superior commits a sin in giving any order, a subject not only does not sin, but even obtains merit by his obedience provided the command itself is not manifestly against the law of God. The Prophet goes on to say; "He shall sit solitary and hold his peace." The words mean that the solitary or the obedient man is at rest because he has found peace for his soul. He who has renounced his own will, and has devoted himself entirely to accomplish the Divine will which is manifested to him by the voice of his Superior, desires nothing, seeks for nothing, thinks of nothing, longs for nothing, but is free from all anxious cares, and "with Mary sits at the Lord's feet hearing His word." (Lc 10,39). The solitary sits down, both because he dwells with those who "have but one heart and one soul," (Ac 4,32) and because he loves none with a private, individual love, but all in Christ and for the sake of Christ. He is silent because he quarrels with no one, disputes with no one, has litigation with no one. The reason of this great tranquillity is "because he hath taken it up upon himself" and is translated from the ranks of men to the ranks of Angels. There are many who busy themselves about themselves, and act like animals devoid of reason. They seek after the things of this world, esteem only those things which delight the senses, feed their carnal desires, and are avaricious, impure, gluttonous, and intemperate. Others lead a purely human life, and remain entirely shut up within themselves, such as those who endeavour to peer into the secrets of nature, or rest satisfied with delivering precepts of morals. Others, again, raise themselves above themselves, and with the special help and assistance of God lead a life that is rather angelical than human. These abandon all they possess in this world, and by denying their own wills can say with the Apostle: "Our conversation is in heaven." (Ph 3,20). Emulating the purity, the contemplation, and the obedience of the Angels, they lead the life of Angels in this world. The Angels are never sullied with the stain of sin, "always see the face of My Father, Who is in heaven," (Mt 18,10) and, disengaged from all things else, are wholly intent on accomplishing the will of God. "Bless the Lord, all ye His Angels, you that are mighty in strength, and execute His word, hearkening to the voice of His orders." (Ps 102,20). This is the happiness of religious life. Those who on earth imitate as far as possible the purity and obedience of the Angels, shall undoubtedly become partakers of their glory in Heaven, especially if they follow Christ, their Lord and Master, Who "humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross:" (Ph 2,8) and "whereas indeed He was the Son of God, He learned obedience by the things which He suffered:" (He 5,8) that is, He learned by His own experience that genuine obedience is tried by suffering, and consequently His example not only teaches us obedience, but teaches us that the foundation of true and perfect obedience is humility and patience. It is no proof that we are truly and perfectly obedient in obeying in things that are honourable and pleasant. Such commands do not prove whether it is the virtue of obedience or some other motive that impels us to act. But a man who shows a promptitude and alacrity in obeying in all things that are humiliating and laborious, proves that he is a true disciple of Christ, and has learnt the meaning of true and perfect obedience.
Robert B. The 7 words 100