There are special places in our life. Places where we feel at home, where we simply are, totally confident in deep acceptance and love of those around us. Places where we can breathe the presence of God, his goodness and caring providence. For Francisco Palau, one of these places was El Vedra, a small isle where on numerous occasions he would retire from the hectic missionary activity to enter into a deeper relationship with his Beloved Church. For him the Church was a person whom he could encounter both in solitude and in mission. The relationship with Her was his highest priority to which he would subdue everything else.
This is also what he advises to his friends and spiritual daughters. The union with God is the first and most important matter. It should be the sole object of all prayers and meditations, until it becomes something natural, like the air we breathe, like the breeze we feel on our face. But feelings are not the purpose of this union: the next step leads to the union of wills, to be completely surrendered to the will of God, both in exterior and interior life. And not only for us, but for all the people. Once more Francisco Palau insists on the importance of being a mediator between God and the men, especially pleading with Him for their health. The image we should always bear in mind is that of the wounded Body of Christ and our neighbours as members of this Body that suffer and await healing and consolation. To take care of Christ means to take care of concrete persons, members of His Body.
Francisco Palau in his writings developed a peculiar doctrine about the two operations of charity in the human soul that leads a person to the perfect union with the Church: with God and with one’s neighbours. This relationship begins as a simple friendship that grows deeper and deeper. It consists of this feeling of intimacy, of closeness, of total trust and union of souls with Jesus. But friendship is not enough to satisfy our desires. We tend to have a deeper relationship that happens when we have the same will, we look in the same direction and we direct our steps on the same paths. This is the stage of nuptials, betrothal. Two people offer themselves to one another, become slaves of one another. But matrimony is not complete if there is no new life born out of love. That’s why Francisco Palau encourages us to look at Jesus not as an individual person, the most perfect lover, but as a Head of a Body, and to become mothers for all the members of this Body. We do so through prayer and by offering ourselves in the sacrifice of the Holy Mass for the good of them all, becoming instruments of healing and restoration for them. That’s the nucleus of his spiritual teachings, the peak of mystical experience to which he invites each one of us.
To Juana Gratias: Gramat (France)
Vedrá (Ibiza), July 24, 1857
Long live Jesus
My dear sister in Jesus Christ: It has been for four days now that I live alone in the midst of these large rocks. I found a big cave where there is water, and one trickle is enough for my consumption. Biel and Ramón were with me on the day of the grand feast of Prophet Elijah and in the evening they left, and will come back on Friday of this week, so that I will have provisions for one month. God has prepared for me a place for my solitude in this island, so pleasing to my spirit that I would not dare to desire or to ask for anything better. Having water here and the brothers come every now and then, I have everything. How happy I am if I will not leave this place anymore! The angels do not come out from heaven to go to earth unless sent by God; and if the saints in heaven would be free to come back to earth for sure they will not come down except with a mission from God. For me this solitude is heaven. And what have I to do with men? Who can compel me out from here?
If you feel in your heart an intense kindled desire for solitude and of a place convenient for your soul, do not be surprised. Even though God could be served in all places, time and circumstances, yet the exterior helpsthe spirit marvellously. Since the object of my retreat is to put in order my things and of those of the ones I direct in God’s ways, I now take the pen in order to communicate to you the sentiments and lights that the Lord has deigned to give me.
External attitude. I will see to it that you will have a place for the time of retreat where you could be alone to hide and talk with God. These desires for solitude will be fulfilled at the proper time. I say at the proper time because perhaps, now is not convenient for you and when it is, God the Almighty will know to give you the opportunity in order to assist the needs of the spirit. I understand that your decision to move to Gramat is pleasing to God and hence very right. The external attitude you have to take depends on thousand circumstances which at present I do not know, and for this I will wait for your letters to inform me. Once I will know the circumstances of persons and other details, I will judge the external course that you have to take in that country.
In order to encourage you in your undertaking, in case of unforeseen, unfavourable and contrary incident, it is necessary that you always keep in mind that the external attitude is subject to vicissitude and change, because they depend on God, on the angels, on the devils, and on good or bad men and on ourselves; and you do not have to depend or never to turn on it. I will not talk to you about it until I will receive your letter.
I received a letter from Fr. Aytón and he told me of your visit. As what he said, he is convinced as I am that it is not convenient to your situation to settle there. He did not say anything about your companions under his direction. On the month of April or end of March I will go to see him and with this occasion I will be at your service whenever you need. In Es Cubells I am free from commitments; I will go where the glory of God calls me. The house of the Routa de Angarroba will be finished at the end of this year; and in Fatarella I will see Mrs. Miguela. Pau will celebrate his first mass on September and on this occasion I will see her, and we will agree. She asked me about you in her last letter.
Now to your interior. I told you in my previous letter that the union of your soul with God has to be the object of all your prayer and meditation. Familiar to this invisible union, you will feel it even without seeing it, you will feel united with God, that is, in peace with the Lord, and here you will stop if you will not recognize the doors to proceed towards the interior.Once you are united with God through acts of faith, hope and charity, when you feel already at peace with God or with no enemy, direct your petition to heaven: the designs of the providence on you will be realized, fulfilled and be achieved at the proper time.
At the same time begin to look, to contemplate and meditate on Jesus crucified, his moral body which is the Church wounded by heresies and errors and sins; and in effect of this meditation note well on what I will tell you. Kneel at the foot of the cross, adore it, offer and surrender yourself entirely to him so that in you and for you and with you he will do what pleases him. Offer yourself in the holy sacrifice of the Mass together with Jesus, in sacrifice, in expiation of your sins and of the whole world; negotiate in heaven in the manner you will find in the book “Struggle of the soul with God” the healing and the comfort of the patient Jesus in his mystical and crucified body.
Even though at the beginning you may do this work of mediator between God and men imperfectly, time and practice will help to perfect it.It is the will of God that you engage in prayer for the welfare of the world. In this you will proceed safely.
Ask also in prayer that the design of God’s wisdom will be fulfilled in your external life style and his sovereign will be done, and that he will direct your steps and protect you. The external life style could be ordered for the good of other souls and in this case, since God alone knows what is appropriate for the good of religion, you must appeal to him to guide you and to take you by hand so that you will not deviate and wander.
As regards to the external life style do not rush, rather be patient and moderate, endure and wait because it could agree with the glory of God, for in his providence he has fixed the time, the day and the hour; and until this hour comes, any attempt to have a stable life style will be useless, and your efforts will be in vain. I mean to say, take the external style that is more suited to your spirit, deliberate on the circumstances, and wait for a better one. I say for a better one, because however good it may look, it will only be provisional, and it would be necessary to wait with patience for a stable life style. The decrees of God on the persons and their life style will be fulfilled, but at its proper time, day and hour.
It is a great consolation for us to be able to walk in the ways of the spirit in a stable and secure way. In this we depend on no one; we are free for God, and in the inner position of the spirit we take forms and means that do not depend on the good and bad will of men, but on God and us. I and God, God and I, there goes everything. What bliss!