We’ve started enjoying the fruits of our garden: tender squash, a variety of peppers, parsley, mint, basil, Swiss chard. I’ve even made pectin from apple drops. And what a delight to see the heaven-sent freebies! I keep a compost pile, and invariably, from it will spring surprises for plate and palate. This year, from that pile of dirt and refuse, God sent us tomatillos and French pumpkins! I’ve already counted three of the latter, one of them already a monstrosity in size!
Last November, a kind and thoughtful acquaintance gave us a French pumpkin, but I left it in the paper bag on the porch and forgot all about it. Lo and behold, when I did remember it, it was rotting and moldy, so into the compost it went. I just hoped the dear man would not inquire as to how we liked the pumpkin. He told me they make delicious soup. We shall see.
And because our souls are like a garden, all of this leads me to the real topic of this post: The Dew of Grace, from the writings of St. Julian Eymard. The next time we spend time in our garden, lets meditate on his words:
In the garden of our soul, that paradise of God, we have to cultivate the divine grain, Jesus Christ, sown in us by Holy Communion, that it may spring up and produce the flower of sanctity. Now, in nature, in growing flowers the essential thing is to keep them fresh by watering the roots. If the root dies, the plant will die. Fertility depends on moisture. The sun by itself does not make flowers bloom; its heat alone would make them wither… Therefore, to cultivate the flower of sanctity in your soul, you have to keep the roots fresh and moist, which means simply that you have to live the interior life. Nature gives dew and rain to the earth. The grace of God is the dew of the soul; given in abundance, it is a shower which floods it and makes it fruitful.
The cultivation of your souls consists, therefore, in leading a life of recollection.
Beyond doubt, life in the outer world, however holy and apostolic it may be, always makes us lose a little of our recollection, and if we fail to renew this inner self, we end by losing all grace and all supernatural life…..Ask missionaries whether their zealous activities promote their inner life, and they will all answer no.
…Mind you, I speak not only of brilliant and arduous labors such as preaching, the direction of charitable works, study, and the hearing of confessions. No, it is the simple daily occupations to which we are bound by the obligations of our state or by obedience that use up our spiritual reserves. And unless we frequently renew our intention, they will be fatal to us. We shall become machines, and machines even less perfect than the steam engine which gives forth constantly and regularly the power of which it is capable, while we ourselves cannot long keep up the same pace. We shall become a monstrous machine….
What I say of outside activities and manual labor is true also of study. Even your study of God, of Holy Scripture, of theology, the highest of all knowledge, will puff you up and make your heart arid if you do not unremittingly cultivate the interior life….
The world is strangely deceived in this regard. “Look,” people say. “What a beautiful life! This person has not a moment to himself; he sacrifices himself entirely in the service of others.” All very good but on closer examination I find certain defects in all this good which make me suspicious of so great a zeal. The leaves on this fine tree, it seems to me, are beginning to turn yellow before their time. There must be some inner blight. You see it dying little by little; it lacks the true sap, the inner life. We must be as closely united to God inwardly as we are in the performance of good works. Well does the devil know how to make use of our ignorance or neglect of this principle to send us to perdition. When he sees a zealous and generous soul, he urges it on and makes it so absorbed in work that it is unable to look within….
Here is a practical rule: if, instead of dominating your position, you are dominated by it, you are lost. What will become of a ship in spite of all the skill of its pilot, when its rudder has been carried away by the tempest? The rudder which guidess you and moves you is recollection. Do everything in your power to preserve it, or you will go adrift.
Then, never say again: “Oh, what a holy soul! See how zealous this person is!” but, “Does he live the interior life?” If so, you may expect everything good from him; if not, he will come to nothing holy or great in the eyes of God. Therefore, be master of your exterior life; if it masters you, it will hurry you on to destruction. If your occupations leave you opportunity to contemplate our Lord interiorly, you are on the right road…
St. Fiacre, Pray for us!