V. FAITH IN GOD
9. TO LIVE BY FAITH
a) To live by faith from an early age
Saint Agnes: Today I will not speak for long, but I will tell you about my life, to give you testimony that you can live by faith and for faith, not only in situations of danger, when the whole truth about the faith of man comes to light, but in everyday life, which is not yet about life-and-death decisions, or at least does not seem to ask for such decisions. The truth, however, is such that man decides already from an early age about his future fate, choosing between good and evil. If he yields to evil and does not desire good, it can be a life-and-death decision, because he risks falling into sins, getting used to bad habits and developing evil inclinations, which later it will be very difficult to remove. None of us knows how long we will live and our life does not belong to us. Man was created by God and only the one God knows how many years He gave him to spend on Earth. If from an early childhood man begins to follow the good, it will be much easier for him to walk the right path in the future. If he is left alone to himself without a proper education, then, without an extraordinary grace of God, he can succumb to an easy life and get used to choosing things that are comfortable and pleasant, but not necessarily good. And for our deeds, we should care from the beginning; because the Book of Life does not record the deeds of man from a mature age, but from the early childhood, from the beginning, although it takes into account his awareness and circumstances.
When I found out that there is a God and that He offered us the proof of His love towards us in His Son, I wanted to devote all my life to Him, to the crucified Jesus, in whom I believed wholeheartedly. Christianity was not a popular religion at that time. It was considered rather as a dangerous sect that was feared like fire and destroyed with great ferocity due to this fear, and this is because Christians were free. They submitted to the law of the state only as far as it was consistent with the confession of the One God. Everything that was at odds with Christianity was overlooked and disobeyed. This is why Christians were considered to be mad people, enslaved by their teachers and priests, officiating strange rites, eating blood and flesh in the literal and human sense, and not in the mystical sense. No one, however, who does not have faith, can comprehend what for a Christian are the Blood and the Flesh of his God. All our services and prayers were misunderstood. For the Rome of that time, where reigned the cult of the body and well-being, spiritual faith and worship in a spiritual way were incomprehensible; the communion with God in such a close and real way, but on the spiritual plane. Rome deemed that the worship of a man, whom Rome found guilty and sentenced to death, already is a crime against Rome.
In such circumstances I was born and in such conditions I happened to live, but it never occurred to me that I could have lived in different times. Since God has placed my existence in Rome and at the beginnings of Christianity, it meant to me that this was the best for me. There remained, however, the question: what God wants from me? Why did he call me to life and how could I devote my life to Him, in order to turn out to be grateful and worthy of His act of creation?
b) To see everything in the light of eternity
Saint Agnes: When I decided to completely give myself to God, I felt a deep relief in my heart. I was no longer afraid that I will go down the wrong path, that I will be swallowed by the world of games and pleasure, or the love for a man will take away from me the love for God. I chose the purpose of my life and I strove towards it without looking back. The purpose of the life of man on Earth is the Salvation of his soul. Thus, it is totally not worth it to involve ourselves in matters that distance us from this goal.
True faith puts everything in the light of eternity, and in this light material things completely lose their value; instead spiritual values gain immensely. In this light, it is clearly visible that all material things will undergo destruction and we will not salvage anything from them. And even if we manage to safeguard them from destruction or loss, to what avail? We still need to leave them all behind when departing from this world. Posterity? How do we know whether wealth will be a benefit for our posterity? Or maybe the opposite? Therefore one should not accumulate wealth, and one should not draw excessive joy from what rejoices human senses, because these items, although so fleeting and deceptive, have a great power to beguiled souls. In the light of faith, the human soul climbs on a pedestal. She, as seen through the eyes of eternity, does not lose its value at all, does not grow old, does not decay, does not pass, does not disappear, lasts forever. Therefore, we should care only for her. For her we should care by all means, because the way in which we will proceed with her now, will be decisive about her eternal future.
So I decided to avoid all that could harm my soul, keeping her in proper purity and trying to embellish her as much as possible through virtues, which as I know, are pleasing to God. Since that time, it saddened me to watch maidens in elegant dresses, because I always saw their souls growing poor from that. Striving for my appearance became an excess for me, and I lost all respect for the body. I thought a lot about the fact that it is the dwelling of man on Earth, but God had treated it very cruelly in His Son. Thinking about the sufferings of Jesus, I thus tried to have my body for nothing and, in the measure of possible, to mortify and to torment it. The smaller the body becomes in man, the more his soul grows, and I wanted to have a beautiful soul, because only the soul is eternal.
In that way, by seeing all in the light of faith in God and His Son, our Savior, I brought up my nature, taking away from her all desires and freedoms. The comparison of the world to eternity always brought me the answers to all my dilemmas. Thanks to this method, I was able to distinguish between what is good and what is bad; what should be cultivated and what should be avoided like fire. The man, who truly believes, lives by faith in every moment of life, because he has no time to waste for anything that does not lead to the goal. Also, a good name does not belong to eternity, because a good name in the world does not mean yet a good name in eternity, rather vice versa, as testified to us Lord Jesus Himself. Until now, His great and holy Name was despised, and yet in the highest there is no greater name. So a good name in the world does not mean anything. It is better to renounce it right away, and then it is not a pity to be judged and despised. What is worth a good name in the world, if after it becomes an infernal torment? The name in Heaven gives God Himself. This name is a reflection of the soul of man and its greatness depends on the greatness of the soul. Only that name counts. To count on Earth is not worth it; it does not help in the salvation of the soul.
c) To never look back
Saint Agnes: When we choose a road leading to a goal, we should never look back, because then we can lose sight of the goal and never reach it. However, you can not risk the loss of Salvation; so you also should not put yourself to trial, meditating upon the validity of your decision. I decided that I will forever belong to Jesus and never to anyone else. This decision cost me my life, but I have gained eternal life, and so I have reached my goal.
Once you decide to undertake a sacrifice, then it does not cost that much, but soon everything changes and circumstances become quite different from those, in which you undertook the resolution. However, one should not be deceived by these circumstances. God allows them to trial the love of man and his faithfulness. So if the goal remains the same, the means also remain the same and should not be changed.
No one can predict how his life will unfold, but God knows and when accepting the sacrifice of man, He strives to ensure that it is pure. Soon, it turns out if man undertook it truly out of love for God or for a different reason. Everything becomes clear. If the intentions to undertake the sacrifice are pure, generally man does not deviate from the once chosen path despite all trials. If, however, they are caused by human considerations, then everything is decided during the time of trial. Either the intention and the sacrifice are purified, or one loses this trial. In these temptations to abandon the undertaken sacrifice, we need to stare at the goal, and then all the circumstances are irrelevant. Just like during a march, you should look ahead and not sideways. It is necessary for the preservation of courage and the maintenance of direction.
d) To be born in the morning and to die in the evening
Saint Agnes: I told you so far about one method, thanks to which I was able to avert temptations and discern between what is good and what is evil; and today I would like to tell you about the second method, equally effective in the life of faith. One must completely divest oneself of looking at the world from the position of a man living forever.
All people, even though they know that someday they must die, rather believe that they will live a very long time, and even when they are old, they think that they still have time. And I lived the other way around. I always felt that I had little time to prove my love to God. One should expect death at any moment; then it is not a surprise and man is able to accept it, because he lives in anticipation of it. This is not sad, it is true. After all, our destiny is another life, and in this other life we should already rejoice during the earthly life more than in the present life. Each day can be the final day.
When we looks in this way at life, we pay no attention to unimportant things and we have no desire to sin, because who would want to sin just before his death? Also, there is no way to fall out with someone, because before death everyone wishes to reconcile with everybody. I can say that I have tried to live as if I was a one-day’s human, as if every day I had to die and was ready for death each night, and in the morning I woke up again to life, in order to die in the evening. Such was my life, but thanks to this, I did not waste time on superfluous things, and just tried to do as much good as possible, believing that this may be the last day of my life. How valuable then the day becomes; how much one loves it, because it is the last. No matter how hard it is, one loves it anyway. By acting and thinking in this way, we can free ourselves from an awful lot of temptations, truly giving our life to God, and not gaining attachment to anything, even to our own life.
e) Awaiting death and rebirth
Saint Agnes: I still absolutely need to tell you about two things. Firstly, during the entire life one should await death; and secondly, during the entire life one should await rebirth, rebirth for the true life. Saints are able to deny themselves everything, because they believe that after death, they will be satiated to the extent to which their faith was strong. They are able to wait for this fulfillment entire years, denying themselves everything.
Those who do not believe are unable to wait. They want to experience everything in this life, fearing that they will not have enough time to enjoy life. However, life starts after death and then comes the time to enjoy life, and on Earth great work awaits man.
For those who worked hard during life, after death comes eternal rest. Without faith, this reality is reversed and people wish to enjoy and to rest on Earth, and after death they pay for this very severely. Work postponed to the second life is much harder, incomparably longer, and more arduous. Achieving holiness after the death requires enormous and long-lasting sufferings, while during lifetime the worst sufferings would be considered the lightest punishment in Purgatory. Also, not everyone gets this chance. Many souls will never again sanctify themselves and will never reach the state of eternal joy. Eternal suffering awaits them.
I could never understand how one can take such risks, to risk such a cruel eternal fate for a moment of sin. Therefore, the whole wisdom of man lies in this: to deepen and to strengthen his faith, thanks to which it is increasingly easier to deny himself for the cause of his future life. Maybe death became too rare for you, so you have forgotten about the future life. Maybe this life, that you lead now, became too comfortable and man does not wish for anything better anymore. But one thing is certain; everything that you possess on Earth is as if it was written with a finger on the sand. Great disappointments await you when you will realize what is this life, to which you attach yourselves so much.
Translated from : Kompendium IV z Orędzi na Czasy Ostateczne, które własnie nadeszły (z tomów 17-22), Warszawa 2014, p 119-159