Lourdes Interpreted by the Salve Regina Part 7.

Meditations given by the Rev, Bede Jarrett, O.P., during the Novena preached in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in preparation for the celebration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes, February 2nd - February 10th, 1933

Apparition of the Virgin to a Community of Dominicans, c. 1499, Pedro Berruguete
There is an awful uncertainty in the judgement of human life in our self-judgements. Are we good because we say prayers? Certainly not. Are we good because we go to the sacraments ? That is no absolute test. It is possible to do all sorts of good things and yet not to do them out of the love of God: thus are they empty of goodness. It is not what you do only that matters; it is why you do it. It is not the thing; it is the motive. That is one of the great points of our Lord’s teaching. St. Paul echoes it. "Though I were to give all that I possess to the poor and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” Goodness is not to be shown in action, but to be shown in the relationship of the soul with God. As Christians, what alone gives supernatural life to us is that relationship of love between our souls and God. If you wish to be a saint, to make your life good and holy, what you have most to be sure about is that you are right with God; and not to trouble about your actions in themselves. Some actions are good actions, and some are evil actions, but what makes them good, (if they be really good) is the attitude to God of the soul that does them: only if I love God, what I do is good. That is the sanctity that our Lord would preach to us. Get your soul right with God. Then all you do, so long as you observe the law of God, all you do is full of supernatural life; without it, all you do is dead.

There is the danger of routine. There is the danger of human respect. I must do what others do about me. There is the fear that if I do not others will think ill of me, or wonder what is amiss with me. Now that is not religion. Love of God is the only one commandment, and the only one essential life-giving principle. The love of God! If we have that, supernaturally, we live; but that even of itself is not enough, not complete. We need to know Him. Or, perhaps more truly, we only really love God when we know God as He is. And so in our Lord’s teaching faith comes to complete love.

Why do we bother about our creeds? People say to us outside the faith, "But we are all going the same way; we are all worshipping the same God. What does it matter about this creed of yours ?” Oh, it matters vitally. If I believe aright, then I know God as He really is. If my faith is wrong, perhaps I have only a caricature of God in my mind, but God as He really is, — I do not know. It is possible for us to have false ideas about people and to get fond of them till one day suddenly they do something that shows us that we had a false estimation of them. We thought them better than they were, or worse, it may be. Our idea of them was inaccurate, not exact, untrue. Faith comes to give us an exact knowledge of God. People say faith does not matter. But St. Paul says, the knowledge it gives us is, "most excellent,” and that all other knowledge is not worth anything at all compared with this. I shall love, and love truly when I know God properly; faith gives me a right knowledge of God.

Why do we love God so little? Because we know Him so little. He is love; He is infinite beauty. If we really knew God, our hearts would inevitably love God. We could not help it. Thus in Heaven where God’s beauty is shown, the saints cannot help themselves. They must love Him. They see His beauty unveiled. For us it is hidden. Faith is but the light of God showing us something of Him through the veil that shields His beauty. Faith teaches me about God, and because now I know God I can find all life lit with splendour. That is the reward of faith, the effect of faith, — to give us a noble view of life. You are not bothered by whether people are rich or poor as to how you judge them; that they have lost their money makes them no less to you than they were. They have lost things, but the soul is as great in poverty as in wealth; in wealth as in poverty. Faith shows you the unchanging things.

Faith helps you to be patient with anybody, everybody, because what you do, if you do it to the least of His brethren, you do it to Him. You find it hard to deal with people fairly because such a one is attractive, and such a one is very difficult to get on with, always grumbling, always complaining, never satisfied. But if you live your faith you are not thinking of that all the time. You remember to say to yourself of each, “This is another Christ.” He has told me that what I do to these is done to Him, and so I serve them. Not for their sakes, for His sake. Faith, you see can give us a wonderful world. You find someone difficult, and you say to yourself, “Now, I am going to look on him as Christ”; and I am justified in so doing because He is going to take all I do to that one as done to Him. And so I become patient, perhaps, or forbearing, or forgiving. Faith makes for us a very wonderful world. To us sometimes the lives of the saints seem hard and difficult, but to the saints life was wonderful. They were in love, in love with God. All of the world about them was splendid. They saw poverty ? They did not notice poverty. All they saw was that these were all creatures of God. Their world was a wonderful world. It was full of God at every point in it. They despised no one. How could they? Why, everyone was made and loved by God. If these were good enough for God, they were good enough for them. That was their judgement. About them were not saints only. People were cruel to them, harsh to them. That did not trouble them.
Each was someone, to whom they were to behave patiently for they were sure somewhere, hiding in that disguise, was God.

And so out of their love and faith, came hope. They were perfectly secure in their world. What troubles us is the menace of uncertainty. What will happen tomorrow? It is hard enough today. A job — will it last ? I am all right for the moment, but what will happen next year? What will tomorrow bring? We need hope, and hope rests on God. Not on human beings; not on the state of business. We have something much more secure than either, for this is God’s world. You may be in poverty. Perhaps. But you are in God’s hands, and really does the rest matter? In God’s hands, that is enough. Thus faith sweetens life for you; and hope makes you independent of the circumstances of life. You are sure of God. If you are sure of God, you are sure of all that really matters. God’s power is holding you, God’s love is enfolding you — you feel perfectly unfrightened, secure, Nothing can disturb you. Only those who have no religion should be the disturbed.