Monday, May 10, 2021

Apostle of Andalusia

Today is the feast of St. Juan de Ávila, Doctor of the Church. From one of his letters:

The first thing by which to attain great sanctity, is to consider that you are wicked and that God is infinitely good, and that it is only by His graces that sinners are made good Christians, and that good Christians become better still.

You must be most loyal to our Lord Jesus Christ by giving Him the glory for any virtues you possess. This is the matter, above all others, on which He is susceptible to injustice, and He leaves those who defraud Him of these His claims without honour or graces. You must also love Him fervently, if you would be perfect, for holiness comes from love, and the greater the love, the greater the saint. The best proof we can give of our love for Christ is to obey His commands and bear the cross for Him; the greater the mortifications and hardships this entails, the more does it bear witness to the genuineness of our love.

Contempt for self and abnegation of our will are also signs of this love, for our Lord says: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself.” (St. Matth. XVI. 24.) A truly devout soul is at enmity with its own judgment and self-will, and is grateful when it receives insults or annoyances, as they give it the opportunity of conquering these vices. Until a man has obtained from God this self-hatred, so that he takes vengeance on himself by penance as far as possible, and is glad that other men should avenge Christ's cause on him, he has not travelled far on the way of that perfect love of our Lord which causes the soul to have a holy hatred towards self, so that it may have a true love of God and of itself.

Another outcome of deep love of our Lord is a perfect charity towards our neighbour, which grows as our love for God increases, making its possessor as much at one with his brethren, as if they were members of the same body; it moves him to pray fervently for others, and do penance for their welfare when it is possible. May your heart for ever be wholly given to Christ.