Fidelity, Proof of Love according to Dom Columba Marmion

by Rev. Philipe Pazat

The Touchstone of Love

Under penalty of being but a phantom or illusion, love must be manifested in deeds of which it is the principle, and this love must generously shape the course of the soul’s whole activity. Recalling the words of Jesus, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” Dom Marmion wrote, “Fidelity is the one touchstone of real love.”

Reference to this main principle is often to be met with in his spiritual works; we find it again, not less explicit, nor less frequent, in his correspondence:

To be intimately united to God, it is necessary:

— to make the habit of doing everything to please God. If one strives, out of love, at every moment, to please God, after a certain time, God gives Himself and one lives continually with Him in faith.

— to have great fidelity, because God is a jealous God, He does not unite Himself to an unfaithful soul, but He truly does so to a weak soul, for God is mercy, and never does the misery of a soul separate from God.“

Love is only proved by generous fidelity to the Divine good pleasure. He writes to a very young girl:

Try to prove your love of Jesus by your fidelity. REAL love consists in doing the will of the one we love, and the will of Jesus is that you imitate Him, Who at each moment could say, “I do always the things that please (My Father).

And again to the same:

Try to show your gratitude to Jesus Christ by great fidelity in all things. My dear child, we must never forget that true piety does not consist only in saying long prayers, but above all in showing our love to Jesus by the care and fidelity we take to do His holy will. For you, His will is manifested in your keeping the house and your duties of state. Then, the more you love Jesus, the more faithful you will be to give yourself up entirely to carrying out His will.

Fidelity in Small Things

He wants this fidelity to be total, absolute, even in small things, for the Divine Will is contained in them. He wrote to a nun:

You ought not to be discouraged nor think that your are going back; but you are not making the progress that I should like to see you make. I would have you belong to the Good God entirely for you are able to love Him dearly. You ought to dread the least little voluntary infidelity towards Our Lord, and accustom yourself to be faithful, out of love, even in the smallest things. Make your particular examen on this.

And to another:

Be faithful in little things, not out of meticulousness, but out of love. Do this to prove to Our Lord that you have the love of a spouse for Him.

Fidelity First Thing

In certain points of detail, he insists on this fidelity because he sees in it a more decisive and desirable orientation for the soul:

Regularity and fidelity in rising in the morning are of capital importance.

And in a happy phrase, he shows the reason:

It is a question of giving the first moments of the day to Our Lord or to His enemy, and the whole day bears the reflection of this first choice.

He wrote to a married woman:

God loves you for you are straightforward, and do your duty for love of Him. I recommend you to direct your day each morning by an act of love towards God, and then, during the day, to think of Him from time to time. He gazes unceasingly upon you, and He so much loves to have us think of Him. ‘Think of Me,’ He told a Saint, ‘and I will think of thee.’

Constant and Generous Fidelity

I do hope you are very faithful to Our Lord even in the midst of the darkness through which He so often wishes to lead you. Nam et si ambulavero in medio umbrae mortis, non timebo mala, quoniam TU mecum es... I pray daily for you, and do hope you are keeping up your courage despite the dryness of your ordinary life.

Ardent Fidelity

He was inspired by a holy horror of tepidity, that rust of the heart which gradually destroys love, need not surprise us. He often said:

Piety without the spirit of sacrifice is like an organism without a backbone.

In the following letter to a Benedictine nun, he puts the soul on her guard against the oft recurring danger of mediocrity, and his zeal for God‘s glory gives a somewhat vehement tone to his warning:

Your kind letter gave me great pleasure. Our vocation is so beautiful that my greatest sorrow is to see anyone lose a particle of the grace and joy contained in our Rule and our life, for want of corresponding to God’s goodness.

We are so weak, yes, so weak! If Our Lord should withdraw His hand for a second, we should be capable of every sin, so that no weakness astonishes me, and it does not prevent Our Lord from loving us all the same and from giving Himself to us.

But I do not understand a monk or nun making a voluntary reserve. I cannot conceive how a person who has received Our Lord in Holy Communion, and to whom He has given all, even His Precious Blood, can say afterwards, ‘I know that would give pleasure to Our Lord, but I will not do it.’ A person living in this disposition will never be anything but a tepid monk or nun. Of such, God said‚ ‘I would thou wert cold or hot, but because thou art lukewarm... I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.’

I love sinners dearly, I am never so happy as when I can help them and can feel like the Good Shepherd Who left the ninety-nine sheep in the desert to go after to lost sheep, but I confess to you that I have to make a supreme effort to be even polite to indifferent religious who serve the Lord above all for their own satisfaction, and do not wish to follow Him in His humiliation and His generosity.

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