What must we glean from the mystery of the Presentation of Jesus by Mary? The lesson is this, that we must not give ourselves to God’s service in order to enjoy, to have consolations, to possess unalterable peace and tranquillity. Doubtless, Jesus says: “Take My yoke, for it is sweet, and My burden is light.” But He has also said: “He that does not take up his cross daily and follow Me, is not worthy of Me.”
What, then, shall we do? We should offer ourselves in union with Mary, our Mother, give ourselves to God, and accept the pain, the sufferings, and all the crosses that He may will to send us. At first, after giving herself to God, the soul receives consolation, the service of God is full of sensible sweetness for her. There are many souls who, disgusted with the world in which they find only deceit, return to piety, to find in it peace and consolation. They seek that alone, they desire to find only that in God’s service. They serve Him as long as the Lord bestows upon them divine favors; but when He hides Himself, and wishes to substitute stronger nourishment instead of children’s food, they become disgusted, discouraged, and scrupulous. They torture their imaginations to find out what could have drawn upon them such punishment. They fancy that their confessions have not been sincere, that they have made bad Communions. They wish to find in themselves the cause of that change; but not succeeding, they become despondent, and end by abandoning their pious exercises.
We must not, indeed, disdain God’s consolations, we must receive them with joy when He sends them; but we must not seek them alone. Such sweetness, such favors pass, while Jesus alone remaineth forever. There have been saints who were favored with great sweetness from God, with ecstasies and transports but O how they suffered! God gave them those celestial favors only at long intervals. They were the recompense of their sufferings, and an encouragement to suffer still more for His love. It is by suffering that we are sanctified. It is by crosses and trials that the soul is strengthened and disengaged from self, in which blessed state it no longer seeks its satisfaction in the service of God, but in God alone.
Text from Father Eymard’s Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (New York: Sentinel Press, 1903).