Christian Life

INTRODUCTION

Convertimini ad Me, in toto corde vestro.
“Be converted to Me with all your heart, saith
the Lord” (Joel 2. 12). The good Providence
of God that governs the world, and arranges for
us day by day, allows us to gather together for
this Retreat—allows us; for thousands of others
He does not allow. A hundred thousand are
dying to-day. God calls on them for the account
of their stewardship. He allows them no Retreat.
What would they give for ten days more life—
ten days Retreat in which to make sure their
calling and election; in which to turn to God
with their whole heart? But it is not theirs.
For them time is no more. They have had their
lights, their graces, and opportunities. What
they long to have, and what they cannot have,
is ours now. Will it ever be ours again }
I. Our need of a Retreat is very great if we
consider the state of our souls. Is it not true
that you have many sins in act, and in habit;
that you neglect many lights, and many drawings
to better things

2 Your use of the Sacraments
is very frequent; does your spiritual life grow
in proportion ? Do you govern yourself by
principle, and high principle, or do you move
from impulse and self-seeking ? You live in the
midst of Divine things, in the presence of our
Lord and the angels, with the daily Mass and
Divine offices. Is your heart there ? Do you
delight in giving your thoughts and affections
to the things of God? Are your daily duties
punctually and faithfully done Like our Lord,
do you do “all things well” Moreover, has
there not been a great want of permanent ad
vantage from your former Retreats Again and
again you have made fine projects, and expressed
desires and resolutions to reform your life, and
get nearer to God. But how soon your fervour
cools; your diligence slackens; habits of sloth
and tepidity get the upper hand; and you return
to your usual imperfect life.

Such is your present situation. And if you
delay longer to apply a remedy, the evil will
increase. Nothing but a good Retreat can stop
its progress. Consequently the want you have
of it is very pressing, perhaps more so than you
are aware of God, who searches the heart—
scrutans corda et renes Deus—sees in you in
numerable defects which your self-love hides.
You must therefore return to Him with a sincere
mind and loving heart, lest He should withdraw
His grace still further from you.
Again, to see further the need of a Retreat.
You are often listening to the word of God,
whether in sermons, conferences, or holy books.
Our Lord’s words strike you in the Gospel. The
beautiful sentences of the “Imitation ” speak to
your soul. One spiritual book after another you
take up ; and you feel they are all good and true,
and all help you more or less towards desires for
better things. Yet somehow the things come
and go. You do not assimilate them. They do
not become part of yourself; it is something
like writing on wax. It is almost like writing
on sand. In a week or two the things are for
gotten. If our souls were more solid and con
sistent—more like the hard polished granite—the
impressions would remain a hundred years. Now
the Retreat is to make you into something better,
to bring you to more consistency and stability
in spiritual life, and to give you impressions that
will really be effectual and durable. But take
care this time not to be so heedless over the
things of God within you; your heart must be
in them; they come in no second place. Divine
things are not to be trifled with. God requires
that we should respond to Him, and work with
Him.
Another reason for the Retreat. We de
teriorate by our friction with the world. Our
clothes get the worse for wear, and so do our
souls. The trees and flowers lose their bloom
in the midst of large cities and get sickly and
easily die: so the spirit gets tainted with the
atmosphere around it—often indeed it falls into
serious disorder, with complications. What
hubbub, what warfare, what tumult it has to live
in. Who shall stand unscathed, loyal to faith
and love in the midst of it

2 Men of business,
in “the forge and working-house of thought,”
run away to the pure air of the country to
recoup their powers. Must we not do the like—
get out of the turmoil of life and enjoy the
spiritual atmosphere of Retreat, to restore and
renew our spiritual life and vigour And inde
pendently of the world we deteriorate in religion
by not advancing in a spiritual course; by want
of the strong principle of love; by familiarity
with holy things; by an abundance of idle allow
ances; and by a superabundance of spiritual
indolence. The Retreat wakes us up to all this.
“It is now the time to rise from sleep.” But
we must not only rouse ourselves; we must put
right what is wrong.

II. A Retreat is admitted by all to be a time
of special grace. It is God’s own chosen time :
His appointed time for attending to you, and
working in and with you. “Behold now is the
acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.”
Who can say whether you will ever have the
chance again Now is your time, now your day.
“If thou hadst known, and that in this thy day,
the things that are to thy peace.” Now is your
day. All is favourable now—the surroundings,
the silence, the special instructions, the time for
examen and confession, the spiritual guide, the
example and good odour of all around you, the
inner drawings of grace that are very powerful
in Retreat, and above all the voice of God to
your soul: “I will lead her into solitude; and
I will speak to her soul.” Now, therefore, during
the time of special grace give creatures their
dismissal. “Leave the jangling of vanities in
thy soul.” “God’s grace is precious; it suffers
not itself to be mingled with external things.
Love now to be alone, seek not to be talking
with any one, prefer the attendance on God
before all external things.”” It is now the
Season of grace. Be not half-hearted. Open
your whole heart to God. It is His special time.
He is altogether disposed to communicate to you.
During the Retreat He is with us communicative,
ready to communicate Himself, ready to give
Himself, to send forth His light and truth, ready
to take us back again, and to work within us.
He has designed His graces for you—heavenly
lights to enlighten your mind, salutary unctions,
to touch, and soften, and gain your heart. What
a priceless grace to a soul is the touch of God.
Isaias was touched. Jeremias was touched.
Daniel was touched. The leper was touched.
Our Lord touched the blind, and immediately
they saw. The sick were brought, and as many
as touched Him were made whole. The woman
touched His garment, and was healed; and they
brought Him little children that “He might
touch them.” Now the time of Retreat is God’s
own time for touching souls. Will you be
touched and healed ? If so, you must go to our
Lord God now, during His own time, when He
is so inclined towards you, but you must go with
great faith, and great love.

III. And this is the actual work of the Retreat
—the conversion of the soul to God, toto corde.
“Be converted to Me with all your heart, saith
the Lord ”—not a little bit, not for a time, not
by fits and starts, not piecemeal, but with all
your heart. “If with all your hearts ye truly
seek Me, ye shall surely find Me.”
Some say that they do not find God. But you
cannot wage war with rose-water. If a great
work is to be done, you must take adequate
means to do it. Now the way to find God is
to seek Him with the whole heart, and nothing
less than that. You have to give your little all
for the pearl of great price.
Many a time you have sought God before in
the years that are passed. You have said, “My
God, I love Thee with my whole heart”; “I
give myself to Thee.” In your youth, in your
fervent communions, in past Retreats, at your
religious clothing and profession, at your ordina
tion, you turned to God, you offered yourself to
Him; you dedicated yourself to Him. You said,
“Now I will begin.” Consider, was it with the
whole heart that you gave yourself to God?
Perhaps it was ; God be praised. But consider
again. Have you kept up your whole-hearted
ness with God, striving to be in truth and in
deed “all for Him ”

2 “Some at first offer all,
and then return to what they left.”” This
Retreat now is to be a fresh opportunity. Try
your very best to be unreserved with God. “Be
converted to Me with all your heart, saith the
Lord.” Say with the Psalmist, In toto corde meo
exquisivi Te. To do this you will certainly
require some plan. You will have to throw your
life into some design. You must see God as the
one, great, and only Good; as our Lord says,
“None is good but God alone.” See Him as
the Fountain of all goodness in Heaven and
earth, in nature and grace, and all that is good
in creatures flows from Him, belongs to Him,
returns to Him. With this, LOVE HIM above
all, choose Him, give yourself to Him, and live
and work from love to Him.

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