Presence of God – O Lord, give me a generous heart, capable of undertaking great things for You.
Whoever aspires to sanctity should have a generous, magnanimous heart, which is not satisfied with doing little things for God, and tiny acts of virtue, but is eager to do great things and give great proofs of love. Just as there is no sanctity without heroic virtue, so it is impossible to attain to heroism without performing great acts of virtue.
Some think there is pride and delusion of the devil in fostering great desires, or in wanting to do great things for God. There would be, certainly, if in this we sought honor for ourselves, or praise from others, or if, in trying to do great things, we were to neglect the small details of our daily duties. The virtue of magnanimity, on the contrary, inclines the soul to do great things for God, but never to the detriment of obedience, humility, or the fulfillment of duty. Generous souls, precisely in this domain, will often meet with arduous, difficult things which call for much virtue, but which usually remain hidden from the eyes of others. In circumstances such as these we are often tempted to give up, under the pretext that it is not necessary to push virtue to such extremes; we excuse ourselves, saying that we are neither angels nor saints. St. Teresa of Jesus says, “We may not be; but what a good thing it is for us to reflect that we can be if we will only try, and if God gives us His hand!” (Way of Perfection, 16). The Saint strongly insists that those who have dedicated themselves to the spiritual life should not nourish petty desires, but generous ones, nor should they fear to emulate the saints; she affirms with authority, “I have never seen any courageous person hanging back on this road, nor any soul that, under the guise of humility, acted like a coward, go as far in many years as the courageous soul can in a few.”
“O strong love of God! I really think that nothing seems impossible to one who loves! O happy soul that has obtained Your peace, O my God! It has become mistress over all the trials and perils of the world, and it fears none of them when there is a question of serving You.
“It is a characteristic of the true servant of God, to whom His Majesty has given light to follow the true path, that when beset by these fears, his desire not to stop only increases. Teach me, then, O my God, always to go straight ahead, to fight with courage, and to parry the blows of the devil who is trying to frighten me.
“For what can a man accomplish, my Lord, who does not wholly abase himself for Your sake? How far, O, how far, how very far—I could repeat it a thousand times—am I from doing this! How many imperfections do I find in myself! How feebly do I serve You! Sometimes I could really wish I were devoid of sense, for then I should not understand how much evil is in me. May He who is able to do so, grant me succor! We must have great confidence for it is most important that we should not cramp our good desires but should believe that, with God’s help, if we make continual efforts to do so, we shall attain, though perhaps not at once, to that which many saints have reached through His favor.
“How true it is, O Lord, that everything is possible in You; I realize too, that of myself I can do nothing. Therefore, I beseech You with St. Augustine: ‘Give me, Lord, what You command me and then command what You will’” (Teresa of Jesus, Conceptions of the Love of God, 3 – Way of Perfection, 21 – Life, 39 – 13).
Note from Dan: This post on Magnanimity is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art: Mirror of Teresa of Avila, Peter Paul Rubens, 1614, CC by SA, painting out of copyright, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.