Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdelen, O.C.D.
The Epistle (1 Pt 2, 11‑19) likewise exhorts us to live on earth with our eyes turned toward heaven. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against the soul.” The pilgrim cannot delay to enjoy the pleasures and joys which he meets on the road, or he will endanger the success of his journey and may even run the risk of not reaching the end. So the Christian, God's pilgrim, cannot allow himself to be detained by the things of earth; he can use them and even enjoy them, if Providence puts them in his way, but only with a detached heart which immediately leaves them behind. Nothing can delay him, for he is in a hurry to reach the goal. The life of a Christian is like that of a traveler in a foreign land, who never delays because he is anxious to get back to his own country. The Secret of the Mass very aptly puts on his lips the following prayer: “May these mysteries, O Lord, quench the ardor of our earthly desires, and teach us to love only the things of heaven!” We need this prayer very much, for present satisfactions and goods, with their tangible, concrete character, may always make an impression on our senses and heart, even to the point of detaining us in our progress toward heaven, and of making us forget the emptiness of all earthly things. Another characteristic of the pilgrim is that he is never satisfied until he reaches his native land; this unrest throws a veil of sadness over his life. Thus, the Christian, God's pilgrim, can never be wholly content until he reaches heaven and possesses God. Today, sighing, he runs toward Him; he quickens his step, sustained by the hope of meeting Him “face to face” some day. His hope, however, is accompanied by a feeling of sadness, because he hopes for what he does not yet possess. His is the holy sadness of those who are seeking God. Let us thank God if He has made us experience this; it is a good sign; it is a sign that our heart has been captivated by His love, and that earthly things can no longer satisfy it. Once again the words of Jesus comfort us: “Your sadness shall be changed into joy.”
“O my Delight, Lord of all creatures and my God! How long must I languish for Your presence? O tedious, O painful, O dying life! What lonely, hopeless solitude! When then, O Lord, when, when ... What shall I do, my sovereign Good. What shall I do? Must I desire not to desire You? Ah! my God and Creator, You wound and do not heal; You strike but leave no wound; You kill to give more life! In a word, O my Lord, You do what You wish, because You are almighty! Let it be so, my God, because it is Your will; I have no other will than to love You. “O Lord, my Creator, my anguish draws this complaint from me, making me speak of that for which there is no remedy until You provide one. My soul is in a narrow prison: it longs for liberty, yet would not move one slightest degree from Your will. O my Glory, either increase my pain or cure it altogether.
“O death, in you is life, and I know not why men dread you! Yet who that has not always loved God would not fear you? Since I am such a one, what do I desire and ask? Will death be the punishment which my faults have deserved? Do not permit it, O my Sovereign Good, for it cost You much to redeem me!
"O my soul, submit to the will of your God; it is best for you. Serve Him and trust in His mercy; when by penance you have won some little claim to pardon for your sins, He will ease your pain. Do not try to rejoice until you have suffered. But, O my true King and Lord, I am incapable even of this, unless You sustain me by Your power and majesty. With Your help, I can do all things” (T.J. Exc, 6).