In the last few weeks, we looked at two holy men (St. Camillus de Lellis and Blessed Enrico Rebuschini) who had great struggles in their personal life and yet were able to ascend to the height of holiness by dedicating their lives to the service of the sick. 

One of the struggles that many saints had to face was the struggle against lukewarmness. Our Lord told St. Faustina the following regarding people who are lukewarm: “These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to flee to My mercy.”

According to Father Adolphe Tanquerey, “lukewarmness consists in a sort of spiritual languor which saps the energies of the will, inspires one with a horror for effort, and thus leads to the decline of the Christian life ... One may compare it to those slow-working diseases, such as consumption, which little by little prey upon some vital organ.”

The causes of lukewarmness are chiefly two: defective spiritual nourishment and the entry into the soul of some noxious germs. Our soul needs to be nourished by various spiritual exercises such as meditation, devout reading, vocal prayer, examination of conscience, and fulfillment of daily duties.

If these exercises are not performed or are performed poorly, the soul becomes weak. The noxious germs for the soul are the three concupiscences: pride, lust, and avarice. Giving in to one or to all of them is the cause of lukewarmness in many souls.

St. Teresa of Avila became a nun around the age of 20. After a few years she became lukewarm. Only around the age of 40 did she become fervent again. Later on she identified a number of things which had caused her lukewarmness: first, paying little attention to venial sin; second, failing to avoid the people who caused her to sin; third, relying too much on herself rather than on God; fourth, neglecting the holy inspirations and light given by God.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus told the apostles to “watch and pray.” To overcome and to prevent lukewarmness we have to watch and pray. Father Tanquerey proposed the following remedies for lukewarmness: first, have frequent recourse to a wise confessor; second, return to the fervent practice of the exercises of piety; third, practice virtues and fulfill one’s daily duties with earnestness.

In the history of the Church there have been a number of saints who, like St. Teresa of Ávila, overcame lukewarmness. St. Hyacintha overcame her lukewarmness through serious illness. St. Ignatius of Loyola overcame his by reading the lives of the saints during recovery from a serious injury.

St. Andrew Corsini overcame lukewarmness because of a scolding from his mother, followed by a prayerful visit to church. Blessed César de Bus read the lives of the saints to a simple woman, who said to him, “God is calling you, and you do not listen to Him.”

St. Joan Delanoue gave free lodging to a pious woman whose words and piety disturbed her conscience. She eventually consulted a priest and changed her life. St. Catherine of Genoa was so deeply touched by the grace of God during a blessing that she kept repeating to herself, “No more world! No more sin!”

Blessed Clare of Rimini one day in church heard a voice, “Clare, try to say one Our Father and one Hail Mary for the glory of God, without thinking of other things.”

Blessed Villana of Florence gazed into a mirror to see how beautiful she was but saw a hideous form instead. She went to confession and began a new way of life.


聖人們克服冷淡

過去數個星期,我們看過兩位聖者(聖嘉民.列理斯和真福恩里科. 列朴哲理)克服個人生活上的重大考驗,藉獻身為病人服務而成聖。

歷代不小聖人曾經克服自己的「冷淡」。主耶穌對聖女傅天娜說明:在山園祈禱時,最令祂痛心的就是那些冷淡的靈魂;那難耐的苦痛,致使耶穌主向天父懇求免去這苦爵。主的無限的慈悲,就是這些冷淡靈魂能得救的最後希望!

安道.鄧奎利神父指出: 冷淡是靈性上的怠惰,削弱了意志力,厭倦了要渡相稱基督徒生活的努力——就像那些幔性疾病,靜靜地、漸次地,損害身體的重要器官。

冷淡成因主要有二:缺乏靈性上的滋養和荼毒靈魂。實際上,我們靈魂需要不同的滋養,如默想、閱讀聖書、誦禱經文、誠心省察、善盡每日本份等;假如我們敷衍上述所行,靈性會變得軟弱。

荼毒靈魂涉及三種私慾偏情:驕傲、迷色及貪婪;當中任何一種,足致眾多原是熱心的靈魂變得冷淡。

聖女大德蘭當修女時約二十歲,數年後內心變得冷淡,約在四十歲時才轉化成熱心,她歸咎冷淡的原因,首先是對犯小罪漫不為意,第二是沒有離避陷她犯罪的人物,第三是太倚重自己的能力,對天主缺乏信賴,第四是忽略天主給她靈性上的默啟。

山園內耶穌告誡宗徒要「醒寤和祈禱」——那是克服和避免冷淡的良方。鄧奎利神父提出三個克服冷淡的方法: 第一是聽從富慧識告解神師的指導, 第二是重新勤習熱心神功, 第三是竭力修德和善盡本份。

在聖教會的歷史中,除了聖女大德蘭外, 也有不少聖人克服了冷淡:聖女雅欽大經歷過重病而變得熱心;聖依納爵在養傷時閱讀了聖人傳記而轉變過來;聖安德肋.高西諾因被母親責備並到聖堂祈禱而有所改變;真福施索拔在唸讀聖人傳記給一位女士,那女士提點他說:「你沒有理會天主,祂正在召叫你哩!」; 聖若翰納.德拉諾因一位在她家中借宿的熱心婦人的勸言和表樣而感到良心不安,她因此向神父求教,並自始改變了一生;聖婦加大利納.熱那亞在接受了神父降福後深受天主聖寵感動,不斷對自己說:「不再要世俗!不再要犯罪!」; 真福加辣.里彌尼在教堂內聽到一個聲音,摧促她說:「加辣,擯棄雜念,專心誦唸天主經和聖母經各一遍!」她從始改寫了靈性的生活;真福維拉娜原以為在鏡子裏看到自己的美貌,卻看到了一具醜陋的面孔,遂馬上辦告解,過新生活。

讓我們熱求主賜冷淡的靈魂轉化的大恩。