Charity – Eighth Day of November
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart. This is the greatest and the first commandment,
and the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” — St. Matt. 22:38
The love of God is the tree of life placed in the centre of this earthly paradise; it has, like all trees, six different properties, namely, the root, the trunk, the branches, the leaves, the flowers, and the fruit. Let us keep this tree in our hearts, flourishing in every part. — St. Teresa.
This saint describes this tree in an instructive and interesting manner. The roots are the virtues by means of which we acquire this love. There are nine principal ones: first, true penance and the frequent use of the sacraments; second, the observance of the commandments and our rules; third, the fear of God; fourth, mortification of the passions and desires; fifth, fear of occasion of sin; sixth, examination of conscience; seventh, obedience; eighth, humility; ninth, mercy towards our neighbor.
The trunk of the tree is conformity to the will of God. The different branches are: first, a lively faith, which makes us see clearly that all that happens is from God; second, a great confidence in the protection of God, which sustains us in the midst of adversities; third, ardent desires, firm purposes, and other interior acts, which is the road that leads to true love; fourth, constancy, which keeps us always reposing under this tree.
The leaves are graces given us for the salvation of others, interior consolations and delights. We give these the name of leaves, as they serve to ornament the tree, and cover the fruit in its season. In the winter of dryness and desolation these leaves fall, we feel no spiritual joy, but the love of God remains planted in the heart.
The flowers are the works, the heroic virtues which the soul inflamed with love produces.
The fruit is the pains, the afflictions, the persecutions which the soul supports with patience when God permits that she should be assailed, or that she sometimes imposes on herself in order to better serve God and to suffer in imitation of Jesus Christ. Such is the tree which St. Teresa invites us to plant in our hearts.
A holy religious compared the love of God to a beautiful plant placed in a good soil, and most luxuriant in flowers and the fruit of good works. “One of the principal fruits is the love of our neighbor.”
My God, implant firmly in my heart Thy divine love. Let not this love be sterile: let it produce in time the fruits of eternal life.