mercredi 11 mars 2015

II - Letter 82 from Padre Pio to Raffaelina Cerase - 7 September 1915 - (suite)

Letters II, p.506 à 512

[...] I would be glad, Raffaelina, if you would believe me just for once that everything that is happening in and around you has been arranged by Jesus because of His most ardent love for you. I would like you, moreover, to believe that you are still most dear to His divine Heart and that you are trying to love Him more and more.

Ah, what I am asking you as a favour is that you listen to me and put into practice all that I have been explaining to you in the Lord up to this moment, ever since the Lord has entrusted you to my care. Meanwhile I urge you to unite with me and draw near to Jesus with me to receive His embrace and a kiss that sanctifies and saves us. For this purpose let us listen to the holy king David who invites us to kiss the Son devoutly: Deal gently with the son (15), for this son of whom the royal prophet speaks is none other than the one of whom the prophet Isaiah said: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given (16).

This child, Raffaelina, is the affectionate brother, the most loving Spouse of our souls, of whom the sacred spouse of the Song, prefiguring the faithful soul, sought the Company and yearned for the divine kisses: O that you were like a brother to me! If I met you outside, I would kiss you! O that you would kiss me with the kisses of your mouth (11) !

This son is Jesus and we can kiss Him without betraying Him, give Him the kiss and the embrace of grace and love He experts from us and which He promises to return. We can do all this, St. Bernard tells us, by serving Him with genuine affection, by carrying out in holy works His heavenly doctrine which we profess by our words (18).

Let us not cease,
 then, to kiss this divine Son in this way, for if these are the kisses we give Him now, He Himself will come as He has promised, full of mercy and love. He will come to take us in His arms and give us the kiss of peace in the last sacraments at the hour of death. Thus we shall end our life in the holy kiss of the Lord, an admirable kiss of divine condescension by which, according to St. Bernard (19), it is not a matter of approaching face to face and mouth to mouth. Rather does it mean that the Creator draws close to His creature and man and God are united for all eternity.

My daughter, I beg you in our most tender Lord not to become weary of asking the divine Bridegroom, with the spouse of the sacred Song, for this kiss of peace which is a truly delightful paradise. By this kiss you will defy all the vain fears of this world, the devil's promptings, the enticements of the flesh and without losing an iota of your calm you will overcome all these things and win a full victory over them. For pity's sake, do not refrain from asking Jesus for this blessed kiss through a feeling of false humility which would in reality be a most refined form of pride. By the wise ones of this world, unfortunately, to ask for this blissful kiss is considered to be folly, but, dear God, what more deplorable folly can there be, I wonder, than that which leads one to the brink of the grave with this show of wisdom which belongs entirely to the flesh?

May God protect us as He has always done from identifying ourselves with these foolish ones, according to heavenly wisdom. I grant you, moreover, that you belong all the time to the goodly number of those who have known how to make continual progress at the school of divine love. I am also convinced that in order to arrive at such a heroic degree of love which enables us to ask Jesus to favour us with a kiss of His divine mouth, God's powerful assistance is required and we can ask and desire this powerful help by seeking God continually with the spouse in the Song.

Let us approach to receive the bread of angels with great faith and with a great flame of love in our hearts. Let us await this most tender lover of our souls in order to be consoled in this life with the kiss of His mouth. Happy are we, Raffaelina, if we succeed in receiving from the Lord the consolation of this kiss in the present life! Then indeed will we feel our will inseparably bound at all times to Jesus' will and nothing in the world can prevent us from willing what our divine Master wills. O my God and my glory, then alone can we say: Yes, O divine lover, O Lord of our life, your love is better than wine, your anointing oils are fragrant (20).

O my daughter, who can tell what admirable secrets are hidden beneath the veil of these words of the spouse of the Song? I should be trying in vain if I sought to explain these admirable secrets to you. What I can say about them is that when our most tender Lord enables one to pronounce these words as the spouse in the Song pronounced them, one feels such a sweetness that one is well aware that Jesus is very near. All the faculties of the soul are then invaded by such perfect peace that one seems to possess God as much as one can desire. One comes almost to the point of being able to touch physically the nothingness of all the things of this ignoble world.

The divine Bridegroom continues to reveal to the soul most important truths in a completely new way. The soul, however, does not perceive this divine Lover who is manifesting Himself. There is a mere awareness that He is there close at hand and the soul can have no doubts on this point. It finds itself in an atmosphere of such dazzling light, it experiences such wonderful effects of this union with the Bridegroom and feels so strong in virtue that it is hardly aware of being what it was before. It is plunged so deeply in a completely heavenly ocean of consolation and so inebriated with joy that it no longer knows what to desire or ask from God.

To put it briefly, in that torrent of light and blessedness the soul does not know what has happened to it. It feels carried completely out of itself and is aware of being embraced by the Bridegroom in such a close embrace that the floodtide of joy causes the poor thing to experience a fainting sensation. It is precisely at this point that it appears to be carried lovingly in those divine arms. It feels Him pressing it to His side and to that divine breast and the heavenly rapture is so intense that the soul is bewildered and almost out of its mind, so that in a transport of holy madness it seems to me that it can well say to its dear conqueror: Your love is better than wine, your anointing oils are fragrant (21).

My dear Raffaelina, may it please the divine Master to give you an understanding of the great bliss of a soul that God has deigned to raise up to such a height, or rather may He enable you to feel this, for if one does not feel this bliss it would be useless to hope to understand it. It is the greatest happiness that it is possible to enjoy on this earth. By comparison with it, all worldly pleasure and satisfactions combined are nothing but filthy mud. Happy are those whose names are written in that book of bliss! You, Raffaelina, belong to this numerous company, so why are you so sad, why do you worry and torment yourself so much when you see yourself loaded more and more heavily with the cross.

Rejoice, for I shall have the happiness to see the Lord making known to the world His mercies towards you and then, wherever I am, I will raise my voice with ardent yearning in a song of praise to my Saviour and Redeemer. Let us be glad, for one day we shall sing more joyful hymns to our most tender Lover who is the sweetest repose of our hearts, enamoured of His beauty. Let us rejoice, I say, for the day will come, as I hope, on which our hearts will no longer be torn by cruel remorse for not loving our sweet Lord sufficiently.

In the meantime let us prepare ourselves for this great day and if we love Jesus let us now stir ourselves up and keep far from all that smacks of worldliness. Let us reflect well that all the sufferings of this world, according to St. Paul, are not worth comparing with the glory that awaits us (22). Let us consider that the divine Bridegroom, not satisfied with the immense reward He has reserved in the next life in return for our love, intends to let us taste it even in this life. May the Lord enable us to understand how fortunate anyone is to be able to abandon himself in His arms and make a pact with Him in these terms: My Beloved is mine and I am His (23); let Him think of me and I will think of Him.

Raffaelina, my daughter, let us love Jesus more and more. Let us remain united with Him always by constant and humble prayer and let us implore Him unceasingly to console us with a kiss of His mouth and make us worthy to draw close to His divine breast. Happy shall we be if we succeed in snatching this further token of love from the divine lover! These words, however, must not seem too bold to you. Let us always speak these words to Jesus and even more so must we utter them at the supreme moment when we approach to receive Him into our hearts. Jesus will not be offended if we speak to Him in this way, because, Raffaelina, if a kiss means peace and friendship, why should Jesus take it in bad part? Why should we not ask Jesus for this kiss of peace? What more precious gift could we desire from such an illustrious monarch?

Away with the fears we have in our minds, then. Let us open our hearts to trust and ask Jesus continually for this peace with a kiss of His divine mouth.

Let us now come to ourselves. Your behaviour up to the present with regard to this new illness to which the Lord has been pleased to subject you hurts me more than a little. Do you mean to say you don't know that anyone who refuses human remedies exposes himself to the danger of offending the Lord? And do you not know that God tells us through the sacred Scriptures to love the physician for love of Himself (24)?

I don't intend to rebuke you, but I am certainly displeased with you. Please take note that I want you to have a medical examination without delay. In conscience you have a serious obligation to do this. If you refuse to obey it will be very painful for me to be obliged to deal with you and I won't know how to do so any longer. Obey me, then, and be at peace, for it is only the obedient man who cries victory (25). Have yourself examined and let me know what the doctor says about it.

Don't worry too much about Giovina's illness and always bear in mind that everything is willed by God. Ask by all means for the grace of a cure for her, but be resigned all the time to do whatever God wants. Moreover, you have already consulted too many doctors without waiting for the consent and opinion of the one to whom God has entrusted you. May the Lord continue to show you mercy!

Padre Agostino continues to be quite well, with heaven's help. From you he only received a picture postcard from Naples without any address. Perhaps this is the reason why he has deprived you of his news. However, he has asked me many times for news of yourself and Giovina and I always complied with his request.

I end by asking you very earnestly not to forget me in the Lord's presence, since you know the anguished state of my soul. I certainly don't mean to dispense you from writing to me frequently and at length, for the simple reason of my spiritual desolation, for this would mean a further torment for me and would add suffering to suffering.

Let us thank Jesus very warmly for giving me the strength which has enabled me to write a rather long letter to you. I would have liked to continue, but I have come to the end of my strength. Praise be to God!

My best wishes to Giovina.

May Jesus be with you always.

Fra Pio

Notes :

14 Ps 91:9.

15 2 Sam 18:5.
16 Is 9:6.
17 Song 1:1; 8 : 1 .
18 Cf. ST BERNARD, Sermones in Cantica, Sermo I V : P L , Vol. 183, col. 796-798.
19 Ibid
20 Song 1:3. 
21 Song 1:3
22 Rom 8:18.
23 Song 2:16.
24 Sir 38:1.
25 Prov 21:28