Love of God makes virtue and self-sacrifice easy and pleasant

October 13, 2021 • 3 min

From The Sinner’s Guide, page 279

Moreover, call to mind the assistance which charity affords us in the pursuit of virtue. Charity, or the love of God, renders the law sweet and delightful; for, as St. Augustine says, love knows no fatigue.

How willingly men fond of hunting, riding, or fishing bear the labor of these sports! What makes a mother insensible to the fatigue she endures for her child? What keeps a devoted wife day and night at the bedside of her sick husband? What excites even in animals the solicitude, the self-denial, with which they care for their young, and the courage with which they defend them?

I answer that it is the great power of love. Strong by this power was St. Paul when he exclaimed: “Who, then, shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or persecution, or the sword?”

It was love which caused St. Dominic and so many other Saints to sigh for martyrdom. It was love which raised the martyrs above their sufferings and gave them refreshment in the midst of the most cruel torments.

“True love of God,” says St. Peter Chrysologus, “finds nothing hard, nothing bitter, nothing difficult. What weapon, what wounds, what pains, what death, can conquer true love? As an impenetrable armor it defies all attacks, and fears not even death, but triumphs over all things.”

But perfect love is not content with these victories. It longs to combat for the Beloved. Hence the thirst of the just for martyrdom; hence their desire to shed their blood for Him Who shed His precious Blood for them. And when this desire is not satisfied they become their own executioners and martyr their bodies with hunger, thirst, cold, and every kind of mortification. Thus they find their happiness in suffering for Christ.

Doubtless this language is not understood by worldlings. They cannot conceive that one should love what they abhor, or abhor what they love. Yet so it is.

Holy Scripture tells us that the Egyptians worshipped certain animals as gods. The Israelites justly called these false gods abominations, and sacrificed them to the honor of the true God. In like manner the virtuous regard as abominations the idols which the world adores—pleasures, riches, and honors—and sacrifice them to the glory of God.

Let him, therefore, who would offer a pleasing sacrifice to God observe what the world adores, and let him offer that as a victim to the Lord. It was thus that the Apostles acted when they came forth from the council, rejoicing that they had received the honor of suffering for Christ.

Can you, then, believe that the power which rendered the prison, the scourge, the stake, welcome to God’s servants, will not be able to lighten the yoke of His commandments for you? Will not that power which supported the just under fasts, vigils, austerities, and sufferings of every kind enable you to bear the burden of the commandments? Alas! how feebly you comprehend the force of charity and divine grace!

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