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Saint Claude de La Colombre:
"The Perfect Friend of the Heart of Jesus"


The Apostle of Confidence

If there is one constantly recurring theme in the writings of Father de La Colombière, it is certainly that of confidence in God. Now, the only source of confidence is the infinite goodness of God, Who is all- powerful and all-merciful.

You have finally found the real secret, which is to cease to examine your present condition and abandon both past and future to the mercy of God without any reservations; to have great sentiments of His goodness, which is infinitely greater than you can describe; and to believe, in spite of anything that could make you think the opposite, that you are loved by Him despite your miseries. Hold dearly to these thoughts: they are surely from God, take my word for it. [L. 95]

It is certain that the weakest creature of all has no more reason to despair than the strongest, because our confidence is in God, Who is equally strong for the strong and for the weak. [L. 75]

Meditation on death inspired Father to write these extraordinary lines:

As I was thinking about the things that make people suffer at death
-----that is, past sins and future punishment-----an idea came initially to mind, and I embraced it wholeheartedly with great consolation. It was that at the last moment, I will gather all the sins that present themselves to my mind, whether they be known or unknown, into a bundle that I will cast at our Saviour's feet to be consumed by the fire of His mercy. The greater the number, the more enormous they seem, all the more willingly shall I offer them to Him to consume them, because what I will be asking of Him will be all the more worthy of His mercy. I feel that I could do nothing more reasonable or more glorious for God than that. [R. 9]

More than fear, it is the sinner's humble confidence that honors the Heart of Jesus.

Always keep your mind on thoughts of confidence, as long as it pleases God to give them to you: they render Him much more honor than the others. The more wretched we are, the more honored God will be by the confidence we have in Him. [L. 127]

A young woman from Paray-le-Monial was besetting Father Claude with her numerous problems of conscience. He led her back to the essential: sanctify the present moment.

One would think you do not yet know your good Master. I have often advised you to remain at peace and think only of serving God every day as though it were the last day of your life . . . If you want to be perfectly pleasing to the One Who loves you, you ought to be fond of your extreme misery, love the nothingness in which He leaves you for the purpose of making His mercy shine all the more brightly, by the patience with which He bears with you and by the graces He will not fail to give you
. . . Let us therefore think of nothing else but of abandoning ourselves to the Providence of our good Father and of living one day at a time. [L. 148]

Be Where God Wants and Do What He Wants

Father de La Colombière sometimes dreamed of a solitary life entirely devoted to prayer. Tempted to envy his sister, a Visitation nun, he corrected himself at once: the will of God for him was to be among men, in the midst of a thousand solicitations, and that was where sanctification was to be found.

How I would envy your retreat, with all your woes, if I were not fully convinced that there is no greater benefit in the world than to do the will of Him Who directs us . . .

I am where God wants me to be, I am doing what God wants me to do. I know of no other happiness in life. You can be holy anywhere, as long as you really want to be. [L. 3]

Submission to the will of God is the sign of authentic love in a soul. In his correspondence, Father Claude makes mention of it in every possible way.

We must sacrifice everything to the Divine will. That sacrifice is worth a thousand times more than all the advantages we might receive by some other means. [L. 5] Why should it matter to you whether you are doing little or much, as long as you are doing the will of your good Master? [L. 102]

Believe me, Sister, it is neither retreat [from the world] nor long conversations with God that makes Saints: it is the sacrifice of our self-will, even in the holiest things, and inseparable attachment to God's will, which is manifested to us by our superiors. [L. 104]

You must want what God wants without reserve. [L. 140] You must submit to the will of God and become accustomed to doing without everything, except without Him. [L. 147]
The effect of seeking only the will of God is that it establishes the soul in a state of holy indifference.

 To his sister, who would have liked him to be present when she made her religious vows, he wrote:
The indifference you will practice in this matter will be more useful to you and make you more pleasing to God than anything I might be able to tell you in many sermons. We must therefore no longer desire anything, dear Sister, except to have our heart liberated of all kinds of desires. This does not come about in a day. But the more time it takes to attain it, the more we must make haste and work at it with all the application we can put into it. If we are fortunate enough to succeed in it, we will be rewarded for our troubles, even in this life . . . I pray Our Lord to strengthen your heart and to fill it so entirely with His love that you will love Him alone and desire to be loved by Him alone. [L. 2]

Carry Your Cross

The language of the cross makes no sense except in the light of the infinite Love of our Divine Saviour, Who died on the Cross for our salvation and now abides with us in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

Not only did Jesus suffer what He should not have suffered, but He suffered more than He had to suffer. One tear could have washed away all our sins. One drop of blood could have merited every assistance for us. Why so much blood? Must we ask a lover for reasons? He can give no other reason than His love. When you love, you always think that whatever you give, it will never be enough. [M.P. 2]

Our return of love will be to willingly carry our cross, the cross with a hundred faces . . . It is a treasure that we must not squander, so let us carry it in silence.

During His Passion, Jesus found Himself in every circumstance in which it is most difficult to remain silent . . . He had every reason in the world to speak: He had His Father's glory to win, His doctrine to uphold, scandal to be avoided; He was going to lose all the fruit of His labors. The priests commanded Him, Pilate questioned Him: Jesus remained silent. He would not have sinned, He would have given very edifying replies, but His silence is worth a thousand times more . . . A secret cross is a very precious thing.

Imperfect souls think that as long as you do not get carried away, you can tell your woes to everyone on earth. On this point, they are like a man who has found a purse full of gold and goes scattering the gold along the way. If they do not make their woes public, they at least need a few friends, a few confidants. A holy soul, on the contrary, wants everything to remain between itself and its Spouse . . . If we must complain, let us complain to Jesus crucified. But in Your presence, O my Saviour, what would I have to complain about? . . . I will come, however, to compare my woes with Yours, my patience with Yours. I will come to complain to You not about my woes or my enemies, but about myself and my impatience. I will come to You to gain strength and encourage myself to be silent, and to suffer as You suffered. [M.P. 3]

Little crosses, so numerous in daily life, are an occasion to enter into the true spirit of penance.

Great occasions of suffering occur rarely. But the Christian soul knows how to act in the little ones with which life is replete. If someone speaks rudely to him, walks by without greeting him, is too slow, is negligent in serving him, then instead of getting angry, he humbles himself at the thought of his sins . . . How pleased You will be, O Lord, to see this soul so penetrated with sentiments of penance! You will willingly forget his past infidelities. You will make him well aware of Your presence and of the pardon You grant him. [M.P. 1]

SAINT MARGARET MARYSometimes one might ask for the cross, on the spur of a generous impulse, with the wisdom of an experienced spiritual director, Father Claude treats this with prudence.

Should we promise God to go and seek harsher crosses in the future? No, Christian listeners, far be it from me to give you such advice. That is still too strong for us; we would not keep our word . . . If I cannot force my heart to love crosses, I will at least oblige it to love pleasure a little less. I will go without it often for love of You, O Lord, and perhaps in this way I will dispose myself to receive greater gifts. O my Divine Jesus, bless our resolutions and make them effective. [M.P. 6]

In effect, the way of childhood and abandonment would have the soul apply itself to accepting providential sufferings. The least little inconvenience, such as a lost letter, can become an occasion of renouncement.

God has permitted that your letters be lost, to help you detach yourself from all things and expect help only from Him. I beg of you, get accustomed to profiting from these mortifications that are never lacking in our life, and whose good usage leads the soul rapidly to great familiarity with God. [L. 100]

Incompatible characters and the resulting contradictions constitute a portion of our daily crosses. Father de La Colombière wrote to a nun:

I praise the Lord that you have not grown old in lukewarmness. You are still young enough to become a great Saint. One of the finest means of becoming one is to bear with X's varying moods . . . Rest assured, in this way you will win the Heart of God more readily than by all other practices of piety. [L. 102]

The  Sacrament of Love

In his 20th sermon for the feast of Corpus Christi, Father de La Colombière explains that the Eucharist is a mystery of love in  which Jesus Christ reveals His extreme desire to unite Himself to us, and in which He gives Himself to us with perfect unselfishness. The sermon concludes with this prayer.

O lovable Saviour, only You could have carried love to such an excess, in order to consume Yourself entirely for Your creatures! You have wanted to belong entirely to us, You have wanted to be all things for us: our God, our master, our brother, our treasure, our assurance, our victim; in a word, our bread and our drink . . . O excessive love, ineffable love, incomprehensible love! [S. 20]

Yes, it is the infinite Love of the Heart of Jesus that made Him a Host. He is the incomparable Friend, ever present, ever faithful, the comfort and strength of our life. Do we really think about it?

Jesus is in our midst in the Blessed Sacrament. What a consolation to be in a house where Jesus Christ lives! But could it not be said that we don't realize our happiness? Do we visit Him often? Do we go to Him in our needs? Do we consult Him in our plans? Do we bring Him our little sorrows instead of seeking counsel from our friends, instead of complaining and murmuring? [S.D. 107]

Father de La Colombière had an extremely lively faith in the effectiveness of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the power of Holy Mass.
When you attend Mass, the same thing is being done for you that was done on Calvary for those who were there, if you are willing to profit from it . . . God is more honored by a single Mass than He could be by all the other actions of Angels and men, however fervent and heroic those might be.
[R.C. 13]

The Mass, in effect, is the perfect love of Jesus Christ offering Himself to His Father, whereas our good actions are so often mingled with self-love and self-seeking.

When I pray, when I fast, when I give alms, I do it warily. Interiorly, I say that perhaps I am dishonoring God even more by my bad intentions . . . But when I celebrate or attend Mass, when I offer the adorable Sacrifice as a minister or member of the Church, O Lord, that is when I am full of confidence and courage, and I challenge all of Heaven to do anything that can please You more.
[R.C. 13]

Confidence wins out over the awareness of his own indignity.

I have never before conceived greater confidence that I will persevere in the good and in the desire I have to be all for God, despite the dreadful difficulties I imagine in what remains of my life. I will say Mass every day: that is my hope, that is my only resource. Jesus Christ can do very little if He cannot support me from one day to the next. He will not fail to correct
me for my laxity as soon as I begin to yield to it. He will give me new counsels, renewed strength, every day. He will teach me, He will comfort me, He will encourage me, and by His Sacrifice He will grant me or obtain for me all the graces I ask of Him. If only we clearly knew the value of the treasure we hold in our hands!. . . What graces, what favors, what temporal and spiritual riches for body and mind, for life and eternity! But we must admit the truth: we do not even think about using our gifts, we do not even bother to reach into the treasure that Jesus Christ has abandoned to us. [R.C. 13]

The Most Lovable Mother of Our God

On September 8, 1674, before beginning his Third Year Retreat, Father de La Colombière completed his year of preaching at Trinity College in Lyons. His sermon for the Feast of the Nativity of Mary concluded with an exhortation in the form of a farewell.

I implore you to put all your trust in the Virgin Mary. What a subject of comfort it would be for me, as we part company, if I were sure that I am leaving Mary in your hearts! I exhort you with all my heart to attach yourselves strongly and soon to the service of such a great Princess . . . As for me, I think that in leaving you, I could not give you a more salutary piece of advice. Certainly you cannot obtain any grace except by Her favor, and by Her favor there is no grace that you cannot obtain . . .

I do not doubt that it is virtually a truth of faith that to have a special love and respect for Mary amounts to having a sign of our predestination and a pledge of our happiness. Indeed, good as She is with everyone, being unceasingly at the feet of Jesus to ask for grace for the greatest sinners, could She possibly forget those who honor Her? Oftentimes it takes only a little prayer, a vow, an offering, a pilgrimage to obtain miracles by Her credit. I will leave it to you to consider what She will
MOTIFdo for sound devotion, tender and constant love, regular and continual services. It has been said that all the Saints have been Her servants, and I would dare to say that all Her true servants have been Saints . . .

Love Her, then; love the most lovable Mother of our God, love Her tenderly and constantly. Have recourse to Her in all your needs, especially your spiritual necessities. Recommend your children and all your dear ones to Her. Honor Her before men, speak of Her with respect and zeal. Often read books that treat of Her greatness, adopt some pious practices in Her honor and never omit them. Finally, pray often to Her to inspire you with all the sentiments Her most celebrated devotees had towards Her, and with all the virtues that made them pleasing to Her; that, helped by Her favor, you will merit the glory that I wish for you. [S. 33]

Main Source: Fr. Gérard Dufour, À l'école du Coeur de Jésus avec Saint Claude La Colombière [Éditions de l'Emmanuel: Paris, 1992].

Continued forward for the Prayer of Confidence.


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