Be Faithful and Attentive* — Book One
"The sign that a soul is merged and united with Me is that it is united with all its fellow men. So, not even one discordant note must exist among those visible on earth, so [that] not even one inharmonious note of disunion [will] exist with the invisible God."
(Vol. 6: October 10, 1905)
Recreation, Meals, and Dealings with Others
There are certain activities in which keeping the divine attitude can be more troublesome than others: Recreation, meals and dealings with others. This chapter is provided to help you overcome these troubles.
"The bow which is always bent will certainly break," St. John the Evangelist said to a hunter who was surprised when he happened upon the Beloved Apostle and found him amusing himself with a partridge. And so, it is necessary to set aside time for innocent recreations which will serve to relieve and refresh you. St. Francis de Sales says:
To get out into the open air, be entertained by happy, friendly conversation, play the lute or some other musical instrument, sing to a musical accompaniment, and go hunting are all such innocent forms of recreation that to use them properly, all that is needed is the common prudence that gives due order, time, place and measure to all things.
This Saint also recommends games of bodily or mental activity as licit forms of recreation. He warns however:
...you must take particular care not to become absorbed in such amusements. No matter how innocent some kinds of recreation may be, it is wrong to set heart and affections on them. I don't say that you must take no pleasure...since then it would not be a means of recreation. I do say that you must not fasten your affections on them, spend too much time on them, or be too eager for them.
This instruction, not to become absorbed in amusements, is very important for the Children of the Divine Will. The reason for this is that, by becoming absorbed in them, you lose your intention of doing everything for and in Jesus, and begin to act for yourself. Thus you revert to operating in your own human will, not the Divine. For this reason Luisa remarks:
If, in vain conversations, or engaged in some other form of entertainment, we should experience some pleasure [i.e., pleasure we become absorbed in or attached to] it is then Jesus who remains nailed to the Cross; but if we sacrifice this very pleasure for love of Him, we then remove his nails and crucify ourselves in his stead (Companion to the Hours of the Passion — 11 a.m.).
Therefore, little by little, even in your amusements and recreation, you must learn to be detached and to retain your interior union with Jesus so that He may remain uninterrupted in his work of forming his continuous Life in you.
Finally, Jesus gives this instruction when you must seek comfort:
My child, do not fear. When a soul does everything for Me, I accept all that she does, even the comfort and consolations that she receives, as if these were giving comfort to my own suffering Body. In fact, I would experience pain without them. So as to free yourself from all doubt, each time that you receive comfort and you feel the need to take it, do it not only for Me but add, "Lord, I intend to comfort your suffering Body with mine" (Vol. 5: June 6, 1903).
St. Paul instructs: "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever else you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). At meals, as in amusements, it is important not to lose the divine attitude of doing everything for and in Jesus. Therefore, here too, you must take care not to become absorbed in the pleasure. Jesus instructs:
I want you to eat for love of Me. And as the food you eat becomes one with your body, ask Me to make your love and Mine one, so that my Spirit will come to unite to your soul, and everything you do will be sanctified by my love (Vol. 1: Chapter 11).
And Luisa gives you this advice:
Before partaking of food, let us unite our intentions to those of our amiable and good Jesus, imagining ourselves to have in place of our mouth Jesus' mouth as we move our tongue and cheeks about together with his. By acting thus, not only will we be drawn into the life of Jesus Christ but we shall unite ourselves with Him with the aim of giving our Father the glory, the praise, the love, the thanksgiving, the complete reparations that creatures owe Him, and which the good Lord Jesus wrought through this act of the partaking of food. Let us also imagine ourselves next to Jesus at table, one moment gazing over at Him, another asking Him to share some food with us; one moment requesting to kiss the hem of his mantle, the next to contemplate the movement of his lips, of his celestial eyes, to observe the sudden disappointment in Jesus' expression that overtakes his most amiable face when He foresees so much human ingratitude!
As loving Jesus had spoken of his Passion during supper, so we too, whenever taking food, shall spend some time reflecting on how we have made the Hours of the Passion. The Angels hang upon our every word so as to gather together our prayers and reparations and present them before the Father, just as they did when our Jesus was on earth: in order to mitigate, in some way, his just disdain for the many offenses He receives from creatures. And when we pray, can we say that the Angels are happy to gather our prayers together, filled with reverence, such that they joyously return to Heaven bearing them just as they bore those of Jesus, or do they rather cause the Angels to experience sadness? (Companion to the Hours of the Passion — 7 p.m.).
You should also try to practice some small mortification at every meal. This will contribute to the cause of putting your own will to death and giving life to the Divine Will within you. The following reprimand of Our Lord to Luisa when she ate foods that she liked (before she began her continual fast) will encourage you in this practice: "Maybe you have forgotten that my only pleasure was always to mortify Myself for your love? So, stop eating this, and eat instead that other food you don't like" (Vol. 1: Ch. 11). If, however, you are a guest in someone's home, and fine food is served that you ordinarily would not eat, you should avoid drawing attention to yourself by simply following Jesus words in the Gospel: "Eat such things as are set before you" (Lk. 10: 8). At these times keep in mind the following teaching of Jesus:
The only true sanctity consists in the soul receiving as a specialty of Divine Love all that could happen and all she can do, even if it it’s the most indifferent thing — as, for example, in receiving an enjoyable or not enjoyable food.
A specialty of Love is found in the enjoyable, in thinking that Jesus produces the enjoyable taste because He loves the soul so very much as to give her pleasure even in material things. A specialty of Love is found in displeasure, thinking that in loving her so much in that displeasure, Jesus wants the soul to be similar to Him in mortification. This way Jesus Himself gives a coin to the soul, in order for her to offer it to Him in the same way as He did (Vol. 7: January 5, 1907).
Love, however, is very clever. Therefore, even in times like these, because of your love for Jesus, you will find ways to make hidden sacrifices that no one but your Jesus will be aware of. For example, when a choice of ice cream is served, you will happily choose Vanilla although your palate would prefer the Rocky Road.Suggested Prayers At Meals
(to be offered in the Divine Will)
Before: Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord. We ask this blessing to be upon all people's food, past, present and future. And as we eat this food — and the Divine Will in it — may It strengthen us in body and soul, in order to fulfill everything in the Divine Will. Amen (See Vol. 18: Jan. 10, 1926).
After: We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, for these and all the blessings we have received through thy Goodness and Love, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Reward with Eternal Salvation, O Lord, all those who have done us good for thy Name's sake. In thanking Thee for this food we intend to thank Thee in the name of all creatures for all the food Thou dost give us. Therefore, mercifully forgive all those who thoughtlessly fail to thank Thee. And Lord, may thy Kingdom Come quickly! Amen.
3. Dealings with Others
How difficult it is to avoid sins and faults in conversation. So much so that St. James tells us: "If any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is in vain" (Jas. 1:26). And again: "If a man does not offend in word, he is a perfect man" (Jas. 3:2). And we read in the Psalms: "I will take heed to my ways: that I sin not with my tongue (Ps. 38:1). Finally, we read in The Imitation of Christ: "As often as I have been amongst men, said a Saint, I have returned less a man" (Bk. 1, Ch. 20).
With all this in mind then, St. Francis de Sales recommends:
Your language should be restrained, frank, sincere, candid, unaffected and honest. Be on guard against equivocation, ambiguity and dissimulation....
It was St. Louis' advice that to avoid quarrels and disputes we should not contradict anyone unless it were either sinful or very harmful to agree with him. If we must contradict someone or oppose another's opinion to his, we must do so very mildly and carefully so as not to arouse his anger. Nothing is ever gained by harshness. To speak little — a practice highly recommended by ancient sages — does not consist in only uttering a few words but in uttering none that are useless. With regard to speech, we must not look to the quantity but rather to the quality of our words. It seems to me that we ought to avoid extremes. To be too reserved and to refuse to take part in conversation looks like a lack of confidence in others or some sort of disdain. To be always babbling or joking without giving others time or chance to speak when they wish, is a mark of shallowness and levity.
This practice of speaking little, so "highly recommended by ancient sages," is also recommended by the Sage of sages, Jesus Himself:
If one speaks much it is a sign that he is interiorly empty, whereas one who is filled with God, finding more enjoyment in his interior, endeavors to avoid losing such enjoyment by hardly speaking. And should he speak, it is then only out of necessity, while never leaving his interior, and he seeks inasmuch as he can to impress on others that which he feels within himself. Whereas one who speaks much is not only devoid of God, but by means of his excessive speech seeks to deprive others of God (Vol. 9: May 8, 1909).
St. Francis also says:
If you are truly in love with God... you will often speak of God in familiar conversation with your servants, friends and neighbors....
Always speak of God as God, that is, reverently and devoutly, not
Jesus, in the Book of Heaven, gives similar instructions:
...He [Jesus] scolded me each time I let myself be carried away by lengthy conversations with the family about indifferent or unnecessary things. He immediately said to me, "I don't like these conversations because they fill your mind with things that don't concern Me, and they surround your heart with a harmful dust that makes you lose the effectiveness of my grace lavished upon you, making it weak and no longer lively. Imitate Me when I was in the house of Nazareth: My mind was always occupied only with the things concerning the glory of my Father and the salvation of souls. I didn't open my mouth except to say holy things, trying with my words to persuade others to make reparation for the offences committed against my Father. Afterwards, once I saw that hearts were broken by sorrow and softened by grace, I inflamed them and drew them to my Love.
Then, what can I say to you of the spiritual talks that I had with my Mother and with my foster-father? In a word, everything we said brought God to mind, and everything we did was directed and referred to Him. Why can't you do the same? (Vol. 1: Chapter 5).
Then, in order to prevent your dealings with creatures from separating you from God, heed what Jesus taught Luisa on this subject:
He [Jesus] also taught me how to love creatures without ever detaching myself from Him: by looking at the creature as God's image. So, if someone did something good to me, I was to recognize it as coming from Him — the prime mover and author of that good — knowing that He made use of them to give it to me. If instead I was wronged, I was to consider that God permitted creatures to do this to me, only for my greater spiritual and physical well-being. As a result, my heart felt more drawn and tied to God. So, what happened was by looking at all creatures in God, and at the image of God in each one of them, I didn't lose my esteem for them any more. And if they made fun of me, I felt even more obligated to love them in God, recognizing that they made me gain new merits for my soul. If, on the contrary, they came to me with praises and applause, I received them with scorn, saying to myself, "This today; tomorrow they may hate me, in view of the creatures' inconstancy." In a word, from
Your Heavenly Mother also has words of wisdom for you on this subject:
I [Mary] will instruct you on the secret of how to be able to always remain with Jesus and how to live always happy and content, even on this earth: You can do this by remaining so fixed in your interior that only Jesus and you exist in this world, and no one else, whom alone you must seek to please, comply with and love, and await Him alone to be loved in return and rendered happy in everything. If you remain in this disposition with Jesus you will no longer be moved when surrounded by contempt or praise, by strangers or relatives, by enemies or friends; Jesus alone will be all your happiness, and only He will suffice for you in place of everyone else. My child, as long as all that which exists down here is not yet banished from the soul, one cannot find true and perpetual happiness (Vol. 4: August 21, 1901).
Love of Neighbor
Does all this mean there is no love for others in the Divine Will? Certainly not! Rather, your life in the Divine Will should cause charity toward your neighbor to greatly increase in your soul. We see this example clearly in Luisa's life who lived in a continual state of victimhood for the good of creatures. It is also clearly seen in her direct dealings with others. What is important here, is that you understand that your love of neighbor must be motivated only by your love for God. This means your love of neighbor will be a detached love. Jesus explains:
See, my Heart is so very large, but the door is very narrow. No one can fill the void of this Heart but souls who are detached, naked and simple. In fact, as you see, since the door is small, any hindrance, even the slightest — that is, a shadow of attachment, an intention which is not upright, a work done without the purpose of pleasing Me — prevents them from entering to delight in my Heart. Much love of neighbor enters my Heart, but it must be so united to mine as to form one single love, in such a way that one cannot be distinguished from the other. But as for the other love of neighbor which is not transformed into my Love — I do not look at it as something that belongs to Me (Vol. 2: May 7, 1899).
Jesus also says:
...true charity is when one sees My Image in the neighbor, and that motivates the good deeds he performs. All charity that does not operate out of this motivation cannot be called charity; if the soul wants the merit of charity, it must never depart from this view, that of seeing My Image in everything. This is so true, that real charity consists of exactly that, so much so that even My charity never becomes removed from that view. The creature is loved so very much because it is My Image; and if this Image of Mine is distorted by sin, I don't feel like loving it anymore, in fact, I abhor it. I preserve plants and animals because they serve My Images; and the creature must mortify itself following the example of its Creator (Vol. 6: September 8, 1905).
Jesus has also given you a sign to know if your charity is true charity:
...the sign for knowing if one has true charity is if he loves the poor. This is because if he loves the rich, and lends to them, it could be due to the fact that he hopes to obtain something from them or he sympathizes with them; or he does so for honors, expediency, praise, or even fear. But if he loves the poor, if he helps them, it is because he sees the image of God in them.
At that point he doesn't look at the roughness, the ignorance, the impoliteness, or the misery. Beyond these miseries, as if from within a glass, he sees God from whom he hopes for everything. Moreover he loves, helps, and consoles the poor as if he were doing the same to God. This is the beautiful kind of true virtue which begins in God and ends in God (Vol. 8: September 2, 1908).
Jesus does not of course mean here that you should center your love exclusively on the materially poor. Rather He simply uses the poor as one example of those who cannot repay. When we do good to others without seeking to get something in return, but rather are motivated only by our love for God, our love is pure, our charity is true. As human beings, who is it that we often treat the worst? Isn't it usually our own family members, those that we live with? And why is this? Because we know them, and we expect nothing special in return from them for the good that we do them. Therefore we often complain to them about the lawn we have to mow, the dishes we have to wash, the house we have to paint, etc., instead of doing these things with joy to please our Jesus dwelling in them. We also complain about their faults and annoying habits instead of bearing them silently for the love of Jesus, considering these crosses to be God's Will for us, and considering our own faults and the burden we give them much greater. So, the sign for knowing if you have true charity is if you love others and do good to them without looking for any return, but doing it only to please your Jesus who dwells in them. And wonderful thing — this will begin in your own home!
The Example of Blessed Dina Bélanger
In her autobiography, Blessed Dina Bélanger gives a wonderful example for the Children of the Divine Will of how to love one's neighbor:
I was entrusted with the task of giving piano lessons to a few students. This was my introduction to work. The supernatural goal I set myself was as far above my natural inclinations as morality is above the profane. I saw Jesus Himself in my pupils; I imagined Him at the same age as each of the pupils who came for a lesson. Who was teaching? — Again Jesus, since He was living in me. How easy it was then, to gain my initial experience! I could not have been more assiduous had Our Lord been visibly at my side.
And a little later she wrote:
I continued to teach. How I loved my pupils! It has been the same ever since with each one confided to me. I loved them with an affection that desired only their good. Without exception, when I looked at them, I saw their soul, and in it, the image of God; I looked on them as living ciboria in which the Blessed Trinity was dwelling. If I had allowed myself any preference, it would have been for the least gifted children, for those who found study, or the observance of regulations, difficult. God surely endows educators with the heart of a mother, or rather, He replaces our heart with his own.
The Bare and Simple Truth
In the work of loving their neighbor, the Children of the Divine Will should be exemplars in practicing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Yet, in our time, it will be especially important to keep in mind two Spiritual Works of Mercy that are often forgotten: "Admonishing the sinner" and "Instructing the ignorant." Today we often think that charity means only making people feel good, rather than giving them that which is objectively good for them — such as telling them the truth. Yes, loving our neighbor also means telling him the truth. Our post-Christian society falsely teaches us that everyone has the right to do whatever they want and to believe whatever they want — as long as they don't infringe on others' rights. Therefore, if a man and woman want to live together without being married, that is acceptable. If people want to practice artificial birth control, no one should tell them it is immoral. If people want to believe in reincarnation, they have a right to their false belief.
Our Catholic Faith teaches us that while people may have the freedom to commit immoral acts and to believe falsehoods, they do not have a right to do so. Rather, they have a duty to seek the truth in matters of morality and faith, and to live by that truth. And in order that everyone may fulfill this duty, our Catholic Faith also teaches us that, those who know the truth, must "preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mk. 16:15). Therefore, out of love for God and charity for their neighbor, the Children of the Divine Will (like all devout Catholics) will want to tell others — in as much as each particular situation allows — what they need do to be saved from Hell and to gain everlasting life in Paradise with God. For, "he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mk. 16:16).
Therefore, if they see others committing serious sin (especially if they are fellow Catholics) they have a duty to warn them of the wages of their sin. If others are entangled in false beliefs, they will want — in as much as they are capable — to show them the way of truth and salvation, found only in the Catholic Church, the Church established by Jesus Christ Himself. And, as St. Francis of Assisi taught his friars, they "should aim only at the advantage and spiritual good of their listeners, telling them briefly about vice and virtue, punishment and glory." They must also be aware that it is sinful to show any kind of approval of others' sinful actions or false beliefs. In certain circumstances it can even be sinful to remain silent, if by silence we are giving tacit approval.
Because, as mentioned above, the attitude of today's society is that everyone has a right to do and believe whatever they want, telling others the truth, even when done with the greatest kindness, can be very difficult. Even so, Luisa teaches us that we must be valiant:
When we are asked to glorify the Lord, are we brave and courageous, or are we taken in by human respect? We must always speak the truth, even in the presence of prestigious individuals (Companion to the Hours of the Passion, 2 a.m.).
You should also keep in mind the wonderful effects of speaking the simple and bare truth:
...the clear, simple, and bare Truth is the most powerful magnet to attract hearts, disposing them to meet any sacrifice for the love of Truth and for the persons who reveal that Truth. Who made it possible for all the Martyrs to spill their blood? The Truth! Who has given the Saints the strength to maintain a pure and chaste life in the midst of so many battles? The Truth!
It is the bare Truth, simple and disinterested, that makes people want to come to Me. Ah, my daughter, how difficult it is to find someone who can manifest the bare Truth — even among the clergy, the religious, and devout souls! In their speech and works there is always something human, of interest and of other things; and the Truth is manifested as covered and veiled. Consequently, the person who listens to it is not touched by the bare Truth, but by whatever other human purpose the Truth is enveloped in. Hence that person does not receive the grace and influence which the Truth contains.
This is the reason why so many Sacraments of Confession are wasted, profaned, and without fruit. I do not withhold giving them [the priests] the light of Truth, but they do not receive it. The cause is they think that if they say the naked Truth they would lose their prestige and would no longer be liked, that they would no longer have those human satisfactions, and that there would result the loss of their interests. But, oh, how mistaken they are…!
This is because whoever leaves everything for the love of the Truth will have a superabundance of everything, and will have much more than the others. Consequently, every time you can, never forget to manifest the bare and simple Truth... (Vol. 7: September 16, 1906).
Therefore, the Children of the Divine Will, should frequently ask themselves:
Does the truth always issue from our lips? … Are we ready to offer up our lives for the sake of their [other creatures'] salvation?
Grant I humbly beseech You [my Jesus], that my lips always tell the truth, so as to wound the hearts of those who hear me and guide all souls to You! (Companion to the Hours of the Passion, 3 a.m.).
Of course, it will also be necessary to keep in mind Jesus' teaching in the Gospel to remove the plank from your own eye before seeking to remove the speck from your brother's. In the Book of Heaven Jesus gives you this counsel:
Do not fear, I Myself will teach you the way you must keep in speaking with your neighbor. First: when you are told something about your neighbor, cast a gaze upon yourself and observe whether you are guilty of that same defect, for in that case wanting to correct is to want to make Me indignant and to scandalize your neighbor. Second: if you see yourself free of that defect, rise then, and try to speak as I would have; in this way you will speak with my own tongue. By doing so, you will never fail in charity with your neighbor; on the contrary, with your words, you will do good to yourself and to your neighbor — and to Me you will give honor and glory (Vol. 2: August 12, 1899).
With this we see that it is imperative that those who preach must do so first by example. And, at times saying a word can even do more harm than good — especially in one's own family (Mt. 13:57). Preaching by example is never harmful. Still, no one must excuse himself when it is necessary that the truth be spoken.
A Magnetic Force
Then, what's more, beyond making known to souls that which they must do to be saved, the Children of the Divine Will have the happiness of introducing those whom they find disposed into life in the Divine Will! And Jesus promises that those who come to "possess in themselves the prime Act of God, will be gifted with a magnetic force, with a powerful attraction by which they will draw and conquer other souls" (Vol. 20:
In summary then, you must live in the world as if only Jesus and you exist. You will love others only for Jesus' sake. In his Will you will love them with his Love. You will be sure to have true charity when you love those who can offer nothing in return. And, you will strive whenever possible "to manifest the bare and simple Truth" which attracts souls to God and ultimately, to the glorious life of living in his Divine Will.
Finally, as you progress, becoming more and more like Jesus, you will come to sacrifice yourself for others in order to bring to them the goods (both corporal and spiritual) that Jesus' Heart so ardently desires to give:
This is true charity: to destroy oneself in order to give life to others, and to take upon oneself the evils of others and give to Me one’s own
The Virgin Mary says to the soul:"How much I would that you, as well, my daughter, drawing near to people and making visits, were always the bearer of Jesus, capable of making Him known and desirous of making Him loved. (...) If you also let the Divine Volition reign in your soul, you too will become the bearer of Jesus to creatures; you also will feel the irresistible need to give Him to everyone."
(The Virgin Mary in the Kingdom of the Divine Will — Additional Lesson #1)
† † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †
Be faithful and attentive as if everything depended on you.
Be completely abandoned and at peace as if everything depended on God.
 St. Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, p. 208, New York: Image, 1989. back
 Ibid. back
 Ibid., pp. 206-7. back
 Ibid., pp. 193-4. back
 Bl. Dina Bélanger, The Autobiography of Blessed Dina Bélanger, 3rd ed., p. 120. Sillery (Québec) Canada: Les Religieuses de Jésus-Marie, 1997. back
 Ibid., pp. 129-130. back
 Rule of St. Francis 1223, Chapter 9. back
* Be Faithful and Attentive: A Handbook for Living in the Divine Will
The excerpts of Be Faithful and Attentive offered here may be copied and printed for one's own use and for discussion groups. The right to publish this book or any of its parts remains exclusively with the author, Robert T. Hart, and the Luisa Piccarreta Center for the Divine Will. back to top