Chapter 1 – Interior Life
I Interior Life (click to download)
In the “Our Father” Jesus teaches us to pray: “Thy kingdom come.” We ask God to grant that His kingdom, the holy Catholic Church, may be spread more and more over the earth, for the salvation of mankind. Not only that: we also pray that His grace and love may ever be in ourselves; that He, our God, our Father and King, may reign in our hearts.
Jesus says in another place: “The kingdom of God is within you.” Therefore, if God hears our prayer, and lets His kingdom come to us, where will we find it? In our hearts. When once our hearts, through the grace of God, are free from all that is sinful—free from self-love, free from attachment to the world and its vain pleasures; when they are virtuous and holy, filled with burning love for God and our neighbour; then we can say that the kingdom of God is within us.
How happy we shall then be! A happiness will then be ours—true happiness of heart—such as the children of the world cannot have an idea of. St. Paul tells us: “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
A father, with his three children, was sitting out in the yard under the shade-giving branches of a maple-tree. He was telling them how all men were striving so earnestly for happiness, but that only so very few really and truly obtain it.
“I believe,” said Emma, the youngest, “that beauty alone can bring true happiness. If I am beautiful of person, and do all I can to bring out my beauty and let it shine before men, then I shall be esteemed and admired, and I can get all that I want. But if I am ugly of appearance men will despise me, and I must always feel miserable.”
“I don’t agree with you,” said George, the next older. “Beauty is too easily destroyed. The least attack of sickness, and it may be gone. And if not, how long does it last? A few years, and beauty withers like a flower. I say, money is the thing! Give my money, and I am happy. If I am rich I can get everything I wish for. Money rules the world!”
“What good will beauty and riches do me if I have not wisdom?” asked Conrad, the oldest. “Give me wisdom, and I shall be happy without beauty or money. But if I am stupid, a block-head, who will care about me? How can I be happy? Now, papa, tell us, which of us is right?”
The father bent down, and with his finger wrote three naughts—000—in the dust.
“What do you mean by that, papa?” asked the children.
“I mean that beauty is a naught, as also are money and wisdom—all three nothing more than three naughts, unless you put some figure before them that has value. The one thing necessary is the love of God, a virtuous heart. Put that one thing before the three naughts of beauty, riches, and wisdom, and you have a large figure of real worth, which signifies real happiness. Take that one thing necessary away, and you have the three naughts—nothing.”
Do you see, my dear children? If we want to possess real, true happiness, let us strive to become virtuous. As Thomas a Kempis admonishes, let us “slight exterior things, and give ourselves to interior things, and we shall see the kingdom of God come within us.” Let us make our hearts free from the world. Let us not put our confidence in men; let us trust in Jesus! Let us often meditate on the sufferings and dearth of our dearest Saviour. Let us endeavor to model our hearts after the Heart of Jesus, until we can say: “I live now, not I; but Christ liveth in me.” This is interior life! This interior life, hidden, as it were, in Jesus, brings true, lasting happiness. May Jesus bless us, and the Holy Ghost fill our hearts with the light of His grace!
I close this chapter with a passage from The Following of Christ, “Come, then, faithful soul, make thy heart ready for this Spouse, so that He may vouchsafe to come to thee and to dwell within thee. For so He sayeth: “If any man love Me, he will keep My Word, and My Father will love him; and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.”