An electronic reproduction of the Guide for Victim Souls of the Sacred Heart of Jesus compiled from various sources by the Very Rev. Joseph Kreuter, OSB.

Nihil Obstat: Arthur J. Scanlan, S.T.D., Censor Librorum. Imprimatur + Stephen J. Donahue, S.T.D., Administrator of New York; 1939.

According to the United States Copyright Office the copyright has expired on this book.

In your charity, please pray that the Sacred Heart draws many souls here to read, contemplate and be enkindled.

Soli+Deo!

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From the Biography of Mo. Marie Deluil-Martiny: Immolation
by Abbe L. Laplace.
Nihil Obstat. Authur J. Scanlan, S.T.D.
Imprimatur +Patrick Cardinal Hays
New York, July 14, 1926.

Part II: The Third Degree of the Spirit of Sacrifice – Love of the Cross and Oblation of Self .6

(B) Three Additional Cautions

1. The application of the three means de­scribed above must not be left to chance; at least in the beginning it would be well to de­termine upon a certain number of times for actual advertence to the presence of God. Then at noon and at the close of the day one may examine himself to see whether he has actually observed the determined number of times. At first he may resolve to recall God’s presence by means of ejaculatory prayers every hour. After some weeks he might increase the number of times, say once every half hour. By continuing this practice the thought of God will in time occur spontaneously and at regular intervals, and he will enjoy a practically uninterrupted consciousness of the nearness of God.

He must not, however, be too anxious about multiplying these ejaculatory prayers, espe­cially if they should become merely mechanical and habitual; the important thing is to become penetrated with a sense of the presence of God -the little ejaculatory prayers serving as means to the end.

2. At all our prayers and spiritual exercises this consciousness of God's presence may be kept lively and actual; for what is easier than to remind oneself during prayer: this God to whom I am now praying is not only in heaven above, He is also in my immediate presence. Yea, He is in my very heart, having regard to its every movement. This should be done espe­cially in time of meditation. Then our prayer will no longer be merely an intellectual exercise of recalling the various phases of the mystery proposed, but will become a most sweet and intimate conversation of the soul with her di­vine Spouse. Only then will meditation be­come a real prayer.

It is also necessary to preserve this conscious­ness of God's presence when engaged in vocal prayer, especially if the prayer lasts for some time, when, for example, we recite the Bre­viary, or the prayers in choir. How easy it is to recall the fact of God's presence each time the "Gloria Patri" occurs in the Office! If priests and Religious would but employ this simple device, the Divine Office would never become a mere prayer of the lips - yea, they would soon realize that their distractions were ever becoming fewer in number.

3. Finally, one who wishes to make prog­ress in the art of living in the presence of God must strive to detach himself more and more from creatures, and above all from himself. He must therefore resolutely guard against vanities of all kinds.

His first care will be to avoid vain conversa­tions; he will faithfully observe the rule of silence, in order to be able to converse more readily with God. Solitude nourishes the soul, and the soul receives spiritual revelations in time of quiet. To be able to hear the voices of spirits one must listen in silence. God whis­pers spiritual messages, which we can hear only when silence reigns in the soul. But it is precisely by vain conversations that interior silence is disturbed.

Again, it is necessary to avoid idle looks, and hence highly to value modesty of the eyes; this can be practiced by restraining curiosity in reading.

“One who is striving to live constantly in the presence of God,” says Father Tillmann, “must as much as possible shun the exterior world in order to be able to remain undisturbed with the Lord, who wishes to be his divine Guest and Friend. He must, therefore, as far as possible, keep his senses closed to earthly things in order that his soul may the more readily give its attention to divine things. He must, above all, like holy Job, ‘make a covenant with his eyes,’ and with the Royal Prophet sin­cerely pray to the Lord: ‘Turn away my eyes, that they behold not vanity.’ He must faith­fully practice modesty of the eyes, lest the vani­ties and follies of the world gain entrance into his heart and disturb its peace and recollection.”

Another spiritual writer says, “Those who neglect to guard their eyes, their ears, and their tongues are never recollected and can never become recollected. Curiosity fills the soul with many noisy guests, who will not so easily retire when they are no longer wanted.”

And the author of The Following of Christ says: “He who would arrive at a truly interior and spiritual life must, like Jesus, retire from the multitude.”

Further, we must guard against vain thoughts, against the vain recollection of past occurrences, which disturb anew our peace of soul, against useless speculations regarding the future - a pure waste of time.

Of course there can hardly be question of vain thoughts for people engaged in duties that require their entire attention. For them vain thoughts are possible only during the moments when they are disengaged from work; and these they must not heed too much, as relaxa­tion of the mind is necessary.

One who would live constantly in the pres­ence of God must practice mortification of his inordinate inclinations, especially of pride, self-­will, self-seeking, and love of ease and comfort.

Listen to Father Meschler, S.J., on this point: “Prayer alone will not attain the end. To be willing to pray merely, without self-denial, is an article of the modern sugar-and­-water creed. God and union with God are not to be found in prayer alone. It is a pity that so much trouble should be spent on prayer of this kind. After years and long wanderings through bypaths we shall still be where we were when we set out. It is as necessary for us to practice both prayer and self-denial with fixed regularity, as it is to have two wings in order to fly, or two hands if we are to wash our hands. Both must help support, and supplement each other. Without mortification of self there is no real prayer, and even if a man does pray without it, he will not find God. The un­mortified man seeks God in prayer and finds Him not. God Himself seeks the mortified man, because his heart is purified and fitted for union with Him. God longs to impart Himself to us and to unite Himself to us more than we desire it ourselves, but He seeks only a pure and mortified heart. Mortification is hard, and only God's grace can make it possible and easy. But grace is the fruit of prayer. He who will be a prudent man, therefore, and build his house on firm ground, must build on the rock of prayer and mortification.”

Those who are aiming at union with God must also guard against inordinate attachment to creatures. On this point Father Tillmann says: “Attachment to creatures--even to a single creature-robs the soul of freedom in lifting itself up to God; it acts like a chain on our thoughts and affections, and prevents us from giving ourselves entirely to God; and yet complete surrender of the heart to God is neces­sary if we would enjoy constant converse with Him.”

St. Teresa perpetually directs the attention of her spiritual daughters to this point: “The important thing for us to do,” she writes, “is to offer to God complete and sole possession of the palace of our heart, and for that purpose to remove therefrom whatever could he displeas­ing to Him. It is only when the King of Glory finds our soul emptied of all things and ready to become His sole possession, that He will work freely in it. Since He is the friend of order, He cannot do otherwise.”

Those who would live constantly in the pres­ence of God must above all avoid voluntary faults and venial sins. As long as they pur­posely offend Him, event though it be in trivial matters, God will never give Himself to them permanently. Yea, even though they should have gained the happiness of the enduring, sensible presence of God, they will find that God will withdraw Himself from them as often as they commit a deliberate fault, and that He will permit them to remain disconsolate for a long time before He again manifests His pres­ence to them.

“In the first place,” writes Father Tillmann, “such a soul robs herself of countless graces. The sin itself will become a burdensome weight dragging her down to earth, disturbing her conscience, and destroying all interior peace; neither will the consciousness of guilt permit her to draw near to God in childlike confidence. On the one hand God withdraws from such a soul many special graces; on the other hand the soul herself withdraws ever more and more from the source of divine grace.”

St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi writes in a similar strain: “Nothing so depresses a soul and renders her more incapable of raising her­self to God than sin. Take all possible care, therefore, to keep yourself free not only from all real sin, but even from every smallest im­perfection. If you do this, you will see that God will make your soul His permanent dwell­ing place.”

Indeed, only souls who strive to keep them­selves free from all deliberate sin are fit to en­joy the constant presence of God; they alone can preserve permanent union with him. In them alone are verified the word of Our Lord: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God,” and “He that loveth cleanness of heart, shall have the King for his friend.”

Those who faithfully observe all these points sometimes receive the grace of the so-called sen­sible presence of God; that is, through a very exceptional working of grace God gives them a very lively sense of His presence. This, how­ever, is an entirely gratuitous gift of God, for which we may indeed dispose ourselves, but which we can never merit. Neither is it a sign of holiness, for there have been saints who never experienced the sensible presence of God. St. Alphonsus says. “In heaven we shall see many who have attained to a higher degree of glory without this extraordinary gift than those who actually receive it.” And there have been many who, having been favored with this spe­cial grace, subsequently fell away and became great sinners.

Sanctity therefore does not manifest itself in such feelings, but rather in faithfulness in small things, in detachment from creatures, in undaunted courage in making sacrifices for our Savior.

May, then, these directions serve to point out to many Victim Souls the way to attain this chief means of manifesting the spirit of sacrifice, the means of living constantly in the presence of God. The more they strive to live in God's presence, the more they will feel en­couraged to display the true spirit of sacrifice, and the more they exercise the spirit of sacri­fice the more surely they will preserve the con­sciousness of God's presence. They will al­most uniformly come to realize that God re­wards their sacrifices by causing them to ex­perience His presence within them, through the sensible consolation which He imparts.

Hence, the more active our spirit of sacrifice, the more we shall realize the presence of God, and the more intimate our union with God, the greater will be our spirit of sacrifice.

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