holy quotations for purification of the soul
for reflection and meditation
'I have often thought of, and meditated on, the holy eagerness of the patriarchs who so sighed for the coming of the Messiah; and I felt confused, and was, moreover, so penetrated with grief, that I could scarcely refrain from weeping, so much was I ashamed to see the tepidity and indifference of these unhappy days.
For who amongst us is filled with so much joy in the fulfillment of this mystery, as did the saints of the Old Testament, at the promises which so called forth their longing desires?
Many, it is true, may rejoice at the celebration of this feast; but I am much afraid that it is less on account of the feast, than through vanity.'
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
'The feast of the Blessed Sacrament is the feast of love. Oh, what great love! What immense charity! The moth is drawn to the light, and burns itself in it. May your soul likewise draw near to the divine light! May it be reduced to ashes in that sacred flame, particularly during this great and sweet octave of Corpus Christi.'
St. Paul of the Cross
'Brethren and fathers, since we have been counted worthy to celebrate the forefeast of the divine Transfiguration, from this then let us compose an instruction, discharging our duty in a few words. On the one hand, all the feasts of the Lord expound the mysteries of his sojourn in the flesh, such as that he was born, that he was baptized, that he was crucified, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, that he was taken up in glory; while the mystery of the Transfiguration hints at the restoration in the age to come. For in the same way that "his face blazed like the sun, while his garments became white as light" [Matt. 17,2], in the same way he will come from heaven like lightning, with power and great glory to judge the universe. And as Peter, James and John were with him on the holy mountain, so the elect will be with him in the kingdom of heaven, enjoying his ineffable manifestation as God and inexpressible joy. And who is adequate for all this? Who is worthy to attain that joy? Who else but one whose way of life is pure and undefiled?'
St. Theodore the Studite
'What beautiful thoughts come to me as I meditate now on our Redeemer, whose feast of the Most Sacred Heart we are about to celebrate very soon. That most Sacred Heart teaches us two truths in particular, that is, humility, as he says discite, etc. and holy love, symbolized in those flames surrounding the Sacred Divine Heart. Ignem veni mittere in terram, etc. [I have come to cast fire on the earth, etc.] So, let us then place ourselves before him and ask him to sanctify our hearts and supply us with all that we need.
St. Gaspar del Bufalo
'This feast [of the Sacred Heart] is a day of salvation and of eternal blessing for all who honor It with a humble and sincere heart. Let us, then, love this divine Heart and in all things try to conform ourselves to It.'
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
'The festival of the cross may be celebrated at every moment in the interior sanctuary of the true lovers of the crucifix. And how may it be celebrated? I will explain to you as best I can. We celebrate this feast spiritually by suffering in silence, without leaning on any creature; and as feasts are kept with joy, the festival of the cross ought to be kept by the lovers of the crucifix by suffering in silence, with a countenance happy and serene, in order that the pain may be hidden from the eyes of creatures and be known only to God. In this feast we feed at a delicious banquet, nourishing ourselves in the divine Will, in imitation of our crucified Love. Oh, what sweet food! It is composed of various elements: mental and physical sufferings, contradictions, calumnies, contempt, etc. Oh, how deliciously these things taste to the spiritual palate, if they be taken in pure faith and holy love, in silence and with confidence!'
St. Paul of the Cross
'Brethren and fathers, Lent is already galloping past and the soul rejoices at the imminence of Easter, because by it it finds rest and is relieved of many toils. Why did this thought sound for me in advance? Because it is as if our whole life directs its reason contemplating the eternal Easter. For this present Easter, even though it is great and revered, is nevertheless, as our fathers explain, only a type of that Easter to come. For this Easter is for one day and it passes, while that Easter has no successor. From it pain, grief and sighing have fled away; there everlasting joy, gladness and rejoicing; there the sound of those who feast, a choir of those who keep festival and contemplation of eternal light; where there is the blessed breakfast of Christ and the new drink of which Christ spoke, I shall not drink of the fruit of this vine, until I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father. Of this he spoke to his disciples when he was about to ascend to heaven, I am going to prepare a place for you and, if I go, I will prepare a place for you. I am coming again and I will take you to myself, so that where I am you maybe also. And where I am going you know, and the way you know.
And a little further on, On that day you will know that I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. And elsewhere, Father, I wish that where I am they may be with me also, so that they may see my glory, which you gave me, because you loved from before the foundation of the world. But because this concerns not only the Apostles, but also ourselves, he also said, I do not ask this only for them, but also for those who through their word believe in me, so that all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, that they may also be one in us.
What could be more comforting than these words? What could be more appealing? What soul can they not soften? What heart not prick with compunction, even should someone say that the human heart is a nature of stone? With thoughts like these the saints bore all that they bore, considering afflictions as joys, constraints as freedoms, struggles as delights, harsh training as relaxation, deaths as lives.'
St. Theodore the Studite
'On the feasts of the saints consider their virtues, and beseech God to deign to adorn you with them.'
St. Teresa of Jesus
'Brethren and fathers, the day of Easter is drawing near, since with God's help we have passed the mid-point of the fast. But are we pressing forward to reach the Easter that comes and goes? Have we not achieved this year after year? The present Easter too will pass, for there is nothing lasting in the present age, but, All our days pass like a shadow, and our life travels like a rapid rider, until it has driven us to the final boundary of life. What, someone says, is Easter not to be desired? Of course, it very much to be desired. How could it not be? But we accomplish Easter every day. And what is this? Cleansing from sins, contrition of heart, tears of compunction, a clean conscience, the death of the parts of us that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and any other evil that is at work. One who has been found worthy in all this does not Easter and celebrate a much longed for feast to the Lord just once a year, but, we may say, does so each day.
Someone, on the other hand, who does not have all the foregoing, but is held fast by the passions, cannot celebrate. For how can someone celebrate whose god is their stomach? Or who is aflame with fleshly lust? Or melted by the heat of jealousy? Or drowned by the love of money? Or enslaved to vainglory? Or caught up by the other passions. No one could possibly say that someone with a high fever was at rest, or that someone shipwrecked was making a good voyage. It simply isn't possible. It is impossible for someone who has become dark to be enlightened, or for someone possessed by sins to celebrate. But for you, brothers, we are confident of better things, ones that promise salvation. For our way of life is nothing other than preparation for a feast.'
St. Theodore the Studite
'It is as a general rule a bad sign when a man has not a particular feeling of devotion on the chief feasts of the year.'
St. Philip Neri
'A soiled garment excludes one from the divine wedding feast and makes one a communicant of outer darkness (cf. Matt. 22:12-13).'
St. Thalassios the Libyan
'Brethren and fathers, most people call the present days feasts, because of they get drunk and debauched during them, not understanding that these days demand abstinence from meat, not indulgence in drunkenness and intoxication. That is proper to a pagan feast; it is the business of Christians to exercise self-control and not to satisfy the desires of the flesh, as the Apostle teaches. Nevertheless evil has progressed into law and leads the world as it wishes. But let us, brethren, flee intemperance even in partaking of things that are permitted, for we know that intemperance is the mother of sin.'
St. Theodore the Studite
'Anyone who believes that the sacrifices, feasts, Sabbaths, and celebrations of the new moon specified in the Law have been instituted by God for the sake of physical license and relaxation will fall completely into the power of the passions, and will be ignominiously polluted by the shameful thoughts they stimulate. He will be in the sway of the corruptible world and preoccupied with thoughts of bodily indulgence. Dominated by the matter and form of passion, he will be unable to value anything except what is subject to decay, senses, and which in the shape of mental images provides the passion with suitable matter to work on. . . When the soul's contemplative faculty embraces self-indulgence as a divine command, it makes an unnatural use of the senses, not allowing them to express themselves at all in accordance with nature.'
St. Maximos the Confessor
'Memory of carnal lusts is revolting; for not only does it prevent us from converse with God, but even when the mind seems to be praying, it defiles it with the fantasies of abominable representations. It is good to remain in constant prayer and to exercise the mind in converse with God. But is it so with us? We are frequently diverted from the words of the prayer, we follow thoughts that lead us away, neither denying them nor being saddened by them -- which would have shown that our will disagreed with unseemly suggestions.
Although our outward aspect is appropriate to prayer, for we kneel and appear to those who see us to be praying, in our thought we imagine something pleasant, graciously talk with friends, angrily abuse enemies, feast with guests, build houses for our relatives, plant trees, travel, trade, are forced against our will into priesthood, organize with great circumspection the affairs of the churches placed in our care, and go over most of it in our thoughts, consenting to any thought that comes along, in whatever way passion chooses to dispose our heart.'
St. Nilus of Sinai
'The Sabbath (cf. Exod. 16:23; 20:10) signifies rest from the passions, and from the intellect's gravitation towards the nature of created beings. It signifies the total quiescence of the passions, a complete cessation of the intellect's gravitation towards created things, and its total entry into the divine. He who has attained this state - so far as God permits - by means of virtue and spiritual knowledge, must not ponder on any material thing at all for, like sticks (cf. Num. 15:32), such things excite the passions; and he must not call to mind any natural principle whatsoever.
Otherwise, like the pagans, we will be affirming that God delights in the passions or is commensurate with nature. Perfect silence alone proclaims Him, and total and transcendent unknowing brings us into His presence.'
St. Maximos the Confessor
'Whose memorials then do we celebrate? Whose nativities do we feast? To whom do we erect sacred churches, whose relics do we venerate? Is it not those of the Martyrs? Those of the Confessors? Those of the Ascetics? And if here they have been found worthy of so great glory, how much and how great the splendour they would enjoy in the age to come? Ineffable and unimaginable the reckoning! This is the fair business, this the blessed exchange: by small struggles and toils to purchase goods that are eternal and without end. Let us too then imitate them, brethren; let us mingle our blood with the holy blood, for this is possible; for its nature is not dissimilar nor has he changed who says: See, see that I am and I have not changed [Cf. Dt. 32:39 and Mal. 3:6].'
St. Theodore the Studite
'He who does not understand God's judgments walks on a ridge like a knife-edge and is easily unbalanced by every puff of wind. When praised, he exults; when criticized, he feels bitter. When he feasts, he makes a pig of himself; and when he suffers hardship, he moans and groans. When he understands, he shows off; and when he does not understand, he pretends that he does. When rich, he is boastful; and when in poverty, he plays the hypocrite. Gorged, he grows brazen; and when he fasts, he becomes arrogant. He quarrels with those who reprove him; and those who forgive him he regards as fools.'
St. Mark the Ascetic
'Do not dishonor marriage by diabolical feasts. If you banish from them unbecoming, effeminate singing, dances, improper conversation, the pomps of Satan, noise, boisterous laughter, intemperance, with all that is unbecoming in Christians, Christ will be present at the wedding.
But it is Satan who presides at those weddings at which voluptuous and disgraceful dancing is indulged in; and, from all the expenses incurred on such occasions, great harm results, and no profit is derived.'
St. John Chrysostom
'O God! how many miserable sinners have been struck by death in the act of feasting themselves on some poisonous gratification! The devil will say to thee: this misfortune will not befall thee. But do thou answer him: if it should befall me, what will become of me for eternity? O God, may not that happen to me which has happened to so many other unhappy sinners? How many are now in hell for lesser sins than I have committed!'
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
'For our forefather Adam, as long as he abstained from the forbidden food in Paradise, rejoiced and was made glad by divine visions and filled with divine revelations; but when he acted intemperately and partook of the tree of disobedience, he was at once exiled from the delight of Paradise and intemperance for him became the begetter of death. So too the inhabitants of Sodom behaved wantonly with food in abundance, and drew down upon themselves the anger of God and were overwhelmed with fire and brimstone. So too Esau the hated, entrapped by gluttonous eyes, exchanged his birth right for a meal. But the people of God sat down to eat and drink, and arose to play. These are the sort of things that are going on during these days; for revels and inebriation, shouting and demonic leapings require not only the day but most of the night as well. So intemperance is an evil, and through it death entered the world. But we should give thanks to God, brethren loved by the Lord, because he has rescued us from such empty behaviour and transferred us to this blessed life, in which there is not intemperance, but moderation; not drunkenness, but vigilance; not disturbance, but peace; not hubbub, but tranquility; not abuse, but thanksgiving; not wantonness, but purity, holiness and temperance. From this it was that our inspired fathers sprang up, who with God trampled down the passions, expelled demons, rivalled angels, performed signs from God, attained heavenly glory, were a cause of wonder in the world. One of them was the blessed Antony, whose life we have been reading; and we have learnt how God magnified him in this world under heaven, so that the kings of the earth thought it important to write to him and to hear from him a written voice.'
St. Theodore the Studite
'By the authority of the Lord Abbot of Citeaux, Legate of the Apostolic See, who enjoined this function on us, we reconcile the bearer of this letter, Pons Roger, who has, by God's mercy, been converted from the sect of the heretics.
In virtue of the Sacrament which has been administered, we command that, three Sundays or days of major feasts, a priest march him, stripped to the waist and under continuous flogging, from the entrance to the city to the church. Moreover, we command him to abstain at all times from meat, eggs, and cheeses, or all things which are conceived from the seed of flesh, except on Easter Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, and Christmas, when, for the rejection of his former error, we command him to eat these things. He should keep three Lents each year, fasting and abstaining from fish. Three days every week, perpetually, he should fast and abstain from fish, olive-oil, and wine, unless bodily infirmity or summer heat makes a dispensation necessary. . .'
'If the man in the Gospel, who came to the marriage feast with out the nuptial garment, was condemned to darkness, what then should he expect who, admitted to the mystical banquet of the divine Lamb, neglects to adorn himself with the brilliant garb of virtues, and even presents himself impregnated with the fetid odors of impurity.'
St. Peter Damian
'A little suffices for the support of the body; what is superfluous, will only serve to furnish the worms with a greater feast.'
St. Benedict Joseph Labre