Saturday, February 13, 2016

More From Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich on Making Good Friends

So as I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been reading the writings of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich. She was a young nun from New Jersey who lived in community with the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth. I came across a great selection not too long ago from her spiritual conferences found in her book Greater Perfection, which you can find for sale at the Sisters of Charity's website, which I especially wanted to share. It was another "Aha!" moment for me and really resonated with me as it pertained to a discussion I was having with someone, and hopefully, if the opportunity arises, I can share this selection with them. While talking about how to pray, she begins to muse a bit about how we should surround ourselves in the company of those that are virtuous; in the company of those that will lead us to (and those who have attained) heaven. I'd like to share this here, since these writings don't seem to be widely available on the web. If you get something out of the writings of this young saint, I highly recommend getting the book. It's an excellent read...
The Eternal Father- Francisco Bayeu y Subias
I am hurrying toward eternity. Whether I like it or not, I shall live forever. I must. My soul is immortal. After I stop breathing, I will be judged, weighed in the balance. My past record will be looked up; I will be examined on my merits and demerits, and classified accordingly. Then I will be put where I belong. I will be in the same class with the saints- or with the devils...
Here on earth we are very particular about the company we select, the companions with whom we mingle. None of us likes to be seen together with one frowned on by public opinion, even if that ostracism be undeserved. Then why show such precautions here below and never give a thought to the friends you will have up above? You chose right now, freely, deliberately, whether you are going to be in the same class with the saints or the devils. Once time for you is no more you receive judgement, not mercy. When the records in the Book of Life are referred to in the presence of witness (the devil is his own advocate there) you receive just what you deserve- nothing more not a hair less. God is Infinite Justice. And just what that decision will be depends upon your own self at this minute, and for every remaining minute of your life... For us Eternity is the only reality, the only reason for what is to each one a most important Present.
That essential point of this vital Present is that we make a good selection of the friends with whom we shall converse forever. Of course, none of us desires to be seen together with those frowned on by the elite- the elect ones of God who chose Him as their everlasting portion while they lived here below. It is a very secret club- this class of the saints, more select than the Phi Beta Kappa's or the Delta Gamma's or whatever else they may call themselves. The fraternity of the saints is the Alpha Omega fraternity- the first and last in point of excellence and endurance. It has its own kind of initiation and meetings. And a "frat pin," too. A little different from the ordinary "frat pin" which, made of gold and precious stones and a chain and a guard, lasts in its primal beauty for a while, and then the gold tarnishes and the jewels drop out or the ornament is lost altogether. No. This emblem of the saints is worn by all being initiated here on earth: this "frat pin," a cross, shaped of a sprig of thorn, becomes only in eternity an ornament revealed in its true splendor, formed of the gold of charity, encrusted with the diamond of faith, the emerald of hope, the pearl of purity, the amethyst of sorrow and mortification, the ruby of courage, the blood-stone of desire, the turquoise of watchfulness. Such is the "frat pin" of the Great Founder Who was nailed to the wood of a tree...
Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich
You are, of course, among those who are undergoing the process of initiation into the Alpha Omega society. You would not think for a minute of joining the other persons with their boisterous talk, uncouth manners, evil desires and actions, and their rather unpleasantly odoriferous perfume. Our whole life is the period of initiation into this congregation of the saints. Death is the crucial test, the final examination for admittance therein. Only by passing through the valley of the shadow of death shall we gain the glorious summit of the mountain of full-fledged membership. A concourse of this nature and size must have its means of communication if the members are to live in harmony and union. This communication among the blessed is prayer. prayer is the language of eternity, the language of the saints.
If we aspire to share the life of the blessed hereafter, how can we hope to do so understandingly, if during our period of initiation, the hour appointed for this one special purpose, we fail to acquire at least a working knowledge of their language?
 "But," you object, "if all this prayer business be necessary for the life to come, it is rather hard. it is a little too much to demand for salvation!" No. What is absolutely essential for salvation is simply this: baptism, and death the state of grace. "Then why all this trouble about prayer and the proper disposition and mortification and everything else?" Recall that a tree is known by its fruit, for "do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles" (Mt. 8:16). And as the tree falls, so shall it lie. It shall fall only in the direction toward which it inclined from its youth. prayer is the one means open to all mankind to obtain the graces necessary for salvation, that the tree of their life may fall in the right path, and may not be cast into the fire to be consumed.
Besides, when anyone prepares to embark for a distant land, curiosity at least compels him to take a look at a book containing the elemental knowledge of its tongue, if he knows nothing about it. Not that we should set ourselves to prayer out of curiosity. that would be very wrong, and God would punish the fault severely. But the point I wish to bring out is that a person likes to be familiar with the sound and meaning of at least a few words of the language e is going to hear for the next year or two or five. Then why not become acquainted with the language you are going to hear spoken for all eternity? Certainly it will be sufficient to be able to say "Good morning" - it will never be anything else; "Yes, Father," those that say no are in the other place; "Thank You"- eternity will be all too short in which to be properly grateful; and "I love You," for even in heaven love expresses itself, and this is the action we are going to perform forever; love continual, incessant, the perfection of prayer which, nevertheless, admits of degrees of intensity.
St. Dominic and St. Francis interceding for us
But yet this vocabulary is very limited, though it is sufficient for valid membership.  Knowledge only of these ranks us within the category of ignoramuses. And no one wants to be an ignoramus, even in heaven. To be sure, the Father dearly loves his "ignoramus" son, but He can hardly be proud of him when He knows his knowledge is so very limited because the son himself wanted it thus, and actually refused the Father's offer to teach him. The Father offered to more than teach. he promised to do nine-tenths of the work. The one-tenth required of the son was to cooperate, to consent. He certainly must have been a slothful and ungrateful boy! Are you not that ungrateful son?
Indeed, you are not. Perhaps you may have been up to the present, but it will not be so any longer. Do not hang your head in shame. look into the face of the Father, and, seeing what you see- love, infinite yearning love, cast yourself into His outstretched arms, and clinging to His neck, kiss Him in sorrow and purpose of amendment. he does not remember the past. He is the Eternal Now. Your desires which he views with delighted complacency please Him more than you think. In His sight- how different from that of men- the desire, if incapable of accomplishment, is as good as the act.
"My Father, for your wonderful mercy and goodness to me, a miserable and ungrateful child, I thank You. And Father, I love You. Really, I do. I mean it, Father. To prove that I do, Father, please teach me to pray. To pray as You want me to, not as I would like for myself, because I love You, my Father, my Own." 

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