My Child, some people have Me on their lips, but not in their hearts. Some express their devotion to Me with prayer books; some do it with holy pictures; and some do it with holy images or external signs. Now all of these things are good, but they are no proof of true devotion to me. They are only a means to help men practice devotion. These holy objects are useless if they do not influence your daily thoughts, words and actions.
True devotion to Me is not a mere feeling, nor is it a passing emotion. It is an act of respect and loyalty to Me. Genuine devotion consists of a personal attachment of your will to Mine. It is a sincere intention to please Me in all things, a disregard of self in doing whatever I desire of you. It draws you close to Me, not only in your thoughts and desires, but also in your daily actions.
As you prove such devotion, I shall grant you still greater graces. Your mind will rise more easily to heavenly thoughts. Your heart will strive more constantly after greater virtues. You will advance daily in true perfection, thinking, speaking, and acting more like Me.
My loyal followers gradually learn to get along with less and less of this world’s good things. They feel an urge to devote more time to good works and to prayer. They find that time spent with Me is all too short, and they yearn for a more perfect union with Me.
Though I may use books, pictures, and religious articles, I must never think that these automatically make me holier. They are external helps to holiness. They can help me come closer to God by reminding me of His presence and by arousing in me a greater desire to please Him. If, however, these external objects do not affect my daily activities, I may as well not have them. Wearing a crucifix will not save a man who refuses to be patient with his daily trials. so too my devotions at home can never take the place of Sunday Mass. The standard of true devotion was set by Jesus Himself: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” How am I living the commandments of Christ? That is the sure gauge of my devotion to Him. Will I be foolish enough to think that I please God simply because I say a certain number of prayers daily, or use certain religious articles, or even go to church daily? Doing these things is only half of my spiritual life. The other half consists in showing goodness and unselfishness in my dealings with people. One half without the other is incomplete, and therefore unsatisfactory to God.
With this I pray to God:
My Jesus, I want my daily life to be a fulfillment of all that you teach me through books, prayers, and other religious objects. I desire to live what You tell me through the Church, through the sacraments, and through my own interior life. My kindness, patience, generosity, and unselfishness in my daily life will prove that I use religious articles because I love You, and not for selfish or superstitious reasons. I want to use these articles to improve my daily loyalty to Your holy Will. I will also use them to obtain Your blessings on my daily occupations. Finally I will use them as a badge of loyalty to You, so that I may remind others of You. Let me never separate my interior life from my external dealings with people. Amen.
*Adapted from My Daily Bread by Anthony J. Paone, S. J. 1954.