TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MONSEIGNEUR DE LA BOUILLERIE, Archbishop of Perga, Coadjutor of Bordeaux.
Take courage, then, O Christian soul! Whatever your labours, have confidence in the Eucharist. It will be your most firm support, your sweetest repose, your best reward. If you only do the works of the world, the world will only pay you wages as deceptive as itself. But if you work in union with the God of the tabernacle, in return for your labours every day, He will give you His Precious Bread of every day — the Bread which nourishes the soul and makes it live an eternal life.
THE EUCHARIST AND THE KEEPING OF THE COMMANDMENTS.
"My yoke is sweet and my burden light."— Matt. x}. 30.
THE Evangelist S. Matthew relates that a man, coming to the Saviour, asked Him this question: " Master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?" And Jesus answered at once: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."
This man who comes to the Saviour represents the whole human race, for there is no human being who does not desire life, and there is none who may hope to live unless he keeps the commandments.
But remark these words, I pray you, O Christian soul: " If thou wilt enter into life." It is then even on the threshold of life that these commandments are imposed upon us. No one begins to be a Christian unless he begins to keep the commandments.
Do we mean by this that religion consists in them alone? No, doubtless, God reveals to us wonderful mysteries, and we must accept them with sincere faith. He sheds upon us His grace in great abundance, and we must not neglect it. He ordains certain practices connected with His divine worship, and we must submit to them with reverential docility; but these mysteries, this grace, this discipline, and this worship, have only for their object our moral perfection, and this latter depends directly on the keeping of the commandments.
Life, in its highest acceptation, is action; and so, as S. Thomas well explains, contemplation itself is only the highest act of man. No one then really begins to live this life of which Jesus Christ is speaking, until he begins to act rightly, and no one acts rightly except he conform to the divine law.
It is for this reason, O Christian soul, that nothing in religion takes the place of the keeping of the commandments.
It is in vain, apart from this strict obedience, to ask of your feelings deceptive assurance of salvation. The just man liveth by faith, says S. Paul; and to live, I repeat, is to act. He only lives by faith who acts as faith commands.
In vain, too, will you try to substitute easy bursts of love for the hard requirements of the law. You love, and you imagine that you have fulfilled the whole law. "If you love me," answers Jesus Christ, "first keep my commandments."
Or it may be in prayer that you place all your trust. If, according to the expression of the sacred Scriptures, it " pierces the clouds," how shall it not be able to open heaven to us? "Beware," continues the Saviour, " not every one that saith to Me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that keeps My commandments."
Or, finally, is it of suffering, of sorrow, of trial, of all the hard expiations of life that you ask dispensation from the law ? Oh, it is true that one of the first duties of the Christian is to unite himself to Jesus Christ n His sufferings; but listen, however, to what the Master says: "If any man will come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me."
If you suffer, you bear the cross, but it still remains to you to follow Jesus Christ; and no one follows His steps except by keeping His commandments.
Do not deceive yourself then, O Christian soul. Neither faith, nor love, nor prayer, nor suffering, nor anything whatever in the world, will supply the place of keeping the commandments.