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CHAPTER VII.

THAT THE CHARITY OF SAINTS IN THIS MORTAL LIFE EQUALS, YEA SOMETIMES SURPASSES, THAT OF THE BLESSED.

When after the labours and dangers of this mortal life, good souls arrive at the port of the eternal, they ascend to the highest and utmost degree of love to which they can attain; and this final increase being bestowed upon them in recompense of their merits, it is distributed to them, not only in good measure, but in a measure which is pressed down and shaken together and running over,162162Luke vi. 38. as Our Saviour says; so that the love which is given for reward is greater in every one than that which was given for meriting.

Now, not only shall each one in particular have a greater love 146in heaven than ever he had on earth, but the exercise of the least charity in heaven, shall be much more happy and excellent, generally speaking, than that of the greatest which is, or has been, or shall be, in this failing life: for there above, all the saints incessantly, without any intermission, exercise love; while here below God's greatest servants, drawn away and tyrannized over by the necessities of this dying life, are forced to suffer a thousand and a thousand distractions, which often take them off the practice of holy love.

In heaven, Theotimus, the loving attention of the blessed is firm, constant, inviolable, and cannot perish or decrease; their intention is pure and freed from all mixture of any inferior intention: in short, this felicity of seeing God clearly and loving him unchangeably is incomparable. And who would ever equal the pleasure, if there be any, of living amidst the perils, the continual tempests, the perpetual agitations and viscissitudes which have to be gone through on sea, with the contentment there is of being in a royal palace, where all things are at every wish, yea where delights incomparably surpass every wish?

There is then more content, sweetness and perfection in the exercise of sacred love amongst the inhabitants of heaven, than amongst the pilgrims of this miserable earth. Yet still there have been some so happy in their pilgrimage that their charity has been greater than that of many saints already enjoying the eternal fatherland: for certainly it were strange if the charity of the great S. John, of the Apostles and Apostolic men, were not greater, even while they were detained here below, than that of little children, who, dying simply with the grace of baptism, enjoy immortal glory.

It is not usual for shepherds to be more valiant than soldiers; and yet David, when a little shepherd, coming to the army of Israel, while he found every one more expert in the use of arms than himself, yet he was more valiant than all. So it is not an ordinary thing for mortals to have more charity than the immortals, and yet there have been some mortals, inferior to the immortals in the exercise of love, who, notwithstanding, have surpassed them in charity and the habit of love. And as, when comparing hot iron and a burning lamp, we say the 147iron has more fire and heat, the lamp more flame and light; so if we parallel a child in glory with S. John while yet prisoner, or S. Paul yet captive, we must say that the child in heaven has more brightness and light in the understanding, more flame and exercise of love in the will, but that S. John or S. Paul had even on earth more fire of charity, and heat of love.

 


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