The Unceasing Act of Love
Revealed to the Capuchin Nun
Sister Mary Consolata (1903-1946)
TO live a life of love means to see to it that love truly becomes the very life of the soul, that the heart, the mind, one's strength, everything, is always employed in loving the good God. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. " (Mark 12, 30). In other words, it means carrying into perfect execution that other precept of the divine Master: "As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in My love." (John 15, 9). In practice, in the divine instructions given to Sister Consolata, this all amounts to an effort of the soul to transform her own life into an act of perfect love; not only to perform all actions with love, not only to gather and offer up with love the flowers of small sacrifices and small acts of virtue, but to make an effort to enliven every instant of this short, earthly journey with love. What is perfect love? It is above all a pure love with which one loves God for his own sake. It is also actual love, that is undoubtedly more perfect than habitual love. It is a love, therefore, that embraces God and souls in the same heartbeat, for it is impossible to love God without loving one's neighbor.
The Convenience of a Formula
It is understandable that the majority of souls will require the aid of some practical, short formula to serve as an expression of their own love, and so facilitate an intimacy of love with Jesus.
Just as a mother will bend over her little child in an act of love and tell him over and over again that word, that phrase, that he should repeat in returning her affection, so did Jesus deign to bend down over a very tiny soul, Sister Consolata, in order to dictate to her and then require from her that unceasing act of love that was to constitute the very essence of her spiritual life.
The Formula for the Unceasing Act of Love
The act of love that Jesus dictated to Sister Consolata is worded as follows: Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!
It will be of benefit to souls to examine the intrinsic value of this act of love.
1. It would be impossible to formulate a more perfect act of love in fewer words, for it contains everything: love of Jesus, love of Mary, and love of souls.
2. This is an act of pure love, for by it one gives to God the most excellent gift of all: love and souls.
3. At the same time it is an act of perfect charity, for in it the love of one's neighbor finds its highest expression in an unceasing prayer for the benefit of souls; and it comprises all souls, including those in purgatory, and all their needs, as explained by Jesus Himself.
4. This act of love is, therefore, a synthesis of the two great commandments that are in turn the very essence of the Law.
5. Because this act is unceasing in the sense that we will explain now, it brings the soul to a literal and perfect fulfillment of the first commandment, that is, to love God with all one's heart; the act of love must spring from the heart, for it is the heart that loves with the greatest possible continuity and intensity; with the whole mind; the continuity of the act of love precludes of itself every useless voluntary thought; with the whole soul, that is, with all one's will; the unceasing act of love is sustained by the fervor of the will, not by sentiment, with one's whole strength, in order to attain the greatest possible continuity and intensity of love, it is necessary to concentrate all the soul's energies upon it.
6. The act of love is in itself and in the above formula also a prayer, in fact it is the most perfect of prayers, for it brings the soul to a literal and perfect execution of that other evangelical precept: "We ought always to pray, and not to faint." (Luke 18, 1).
7. Through this act of love the soul lives a supernatural life as intensely as possible for the glory of God, for her own sanctification, and for the salvation of souls.
8. Through it the soul lives an essentially mortified life, by excluding everything else in silent self-dedication. Thus it comes to join the ranks of the little victims of love.
The Divine Requests for the Act of Love
"From the time of my very first spiritual exercises among the Capuchin nuns, " writes Sister Consolata, "Jesus asked from my soul that which he later continued to demand from me: the unceasing act of love. He fixed the goal I was to attain, and he assured me that in the light of that love all obstacles, every passion, and every defect would be eradicated. Nothing must detach you from the continuous act of love, he told me during meditation on the day of my clothing. And later, during Holy Communion, I ask only this of you: a continuous act of love! At the beginning, it was, Jesus, I love Thee! Later he desired me to add: Jesus, Mary, I love You! And finally He wanted it completed thus: Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!
From that moment on there were countless divine requests for the act of love. The first request was of March 15, 1934:
Love Me, Consolata; your act of love delights Me!
Jesus did not only recommend it, he required it. (Oct. 15, 1934):
Consolata, I have certain rights over you; therefore, I desire from you an unceasing 'Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!' from the time you awaken in the morning to when you go to sleep in the evening! I require it!
The act of love was to become the vital nourishment for the soul:
As a little fish will die outside of water, so also will you, outside the act of love! (June 23, 1935).
She was to devote all her spiritual energies to this single purpose:
Consolata, in order not to lose time, you should renew all your promises every time you pronounce an act of love. If you have fallen, raise yourself up again; if you have forgotten, then start anew; an act of love is useful for everything, at any time, and under every condition! (Dec. 3, 1935)
The Spiritual Fruitfulness of the Unceasing Act of Love
Comment by Editor.
To offer acts of love unceasingly requires heroism and a special vocation. Very few souls have such a vocation, but these writings of Sister Consolata are useful to all souls. If we cannot offer acts of love unceasingly, we can offer them frequently, especially in the spare moments of each day, when we have free time. Our Lord revealed to Sister Consolata that he prefers an act of love to any other gift we might offer him. He revealed to Maria Concepcion that he wants the Trisagion prayed often: "Holy God, holy strong One, holy immortal One, have mercy on us." And he revealed to Sister Martha Mary Chambon that he is pleased with prayers offered in honor of his holy wounds.
In regard to different kinds of prayer, there are no fixed rules. Whatever kind of prayer helps you to unite yourself to God, is the best prayer for you.
The Spiritual Fruitfulness of the Unceasing Act of Love (Continued)
WHO brings souls to salvation? Not we, certainly. It is Jesus Crucified who has been saving souls and continues to save them by applying the infinite merits of his bloody expiation. At the most, and due to his condescension, we can become co-operators in the salvation of souls in proportion to our union with Him, that is, our love for him.
Everything that Saint Paul says about love as related to the supernatural value of our actions, may be applied to our apostolate for the benefit of other souls. Without love, all our words, whether spoken or written, would be but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals; all our knowledge would profit us nothing, nor would our endeavors to find new ways of impressing souls. We may be preachers, public speakers, journalists, organizers, but if the charity of Our Lord does not burn within us, we will never be apostles. An apostle is someone intimately united to Jesus, and has his love for souls.
Sister Consolata was burning with zeal because inflamed with love. Here is what Jesus told her concerning the apostolic fruitfulness of the act of love:
Remember that one act of love may decide the eternal salvation of a soul! You ought to feel remorse, therefore over the omission of a single 'Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save souls!' (Oct. 8, 1935)
The same consoling promise was given her at other times:
Do not lose time! Every act of love means a soul!
The Blessed Virgin also exhorted her in the same sense concerning the unceasing act of love:
"Only in heaven will you come to know its value and its fruitfulness in saving souls!"
For a number of years Sister Consolata had been praying for the conversion of her brother Nicholas, and for that of her uncle Felix Viano. The former surrendered to grace at Easter 1936, and in the month of July following Jesus told her:
Remember, Consolata, that I have not given you Nicholas, nor will I give you your uncle Felix, in reward for your penances and sacrifices, but solely because of your unceasing act of love. Remember that, for it is love that I desire from My creatures!
Nicholas died a holy death in December 1947.
The act of love is also most fruitful as a prayer of reparation:
Why is it, Consolata, that I do not permit you so many vocal prayers? It is because the act of love is more fruitful. One 'Jesus Mary, I love You! Save souls! repairs a thousand blasphemies! (Oct. 8, 1935).
The unceasing act of love also has greater value for the soul who is practicing it and is, therefore, more fruitful of merit than any other work:
Consolata, place at one side all the acts of virtue which you could perform to-day, and on the other side a single day passed in a continuous act of love—I will prefer the day passed in continual love to anything else you might do or offer Me!
Selections from the book Jesus Appeals to the World, by Lorenzo Sales. ---- The Unceasing act of love revealed to Sister Consolata Betrone, Capuchin Nun.
Servant of God Sister Consolata Betrone - - - - Unceasing Act of Love
Love of God
Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!
Words of Our Lord: "It would be impossible to formulate a more perfect act of love in fewer words than: 'Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!' It contains all: love for Me, love for My Mother Mary, and love for souls whom I came to redeem. This act of love includes all souls: the souls in Puratory, the innocent, the suffering, the sinful, the dying, and even your own poor soul."
"Do not lose time! Every act of love means a soul!"
"One 'Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!' repairs a thousand blasphemies!'
"What would you like to give your Mother Mary? ... Offer her a continual 'Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!' With that you will be giving her everything!"
"I do not demand heroic acts from you, but merely trifles; only they must be offered with all your heart! Why is it that I do not permit you [Sister Consolata] so many vocal prayers? It is because the act of love is more fruitful."
"When you will have uttered your last 'Jesus, Mary, I love You! Save souls!' I will gather it up and will convey it by means of your life's writings to millions of souls who, though they be sinners, will welcome it, and will follow you in the simple way of trust and love, and in that way will love Me."
Our Lord to Sr. Maria Consolata Betrone
Poor Clare Capuchin (1903-1946)
---- selections from "Prayers and Heavenly Promises" by Joan Carroll Cruz. TAN books.