In Christian mysticism a victim soul is by no doubt the highest state one could aspire to. In a certain sense, one could say it was both a compendium of all vocations, and a crown upon them all. But we must understand the meaning of victim. A victim soul is a person who offers himself willingly, and even if he is to suffer, he does not offer himself to suffering itself, but to the Man of sorrows, out of love, to share in His passion of love. Yes, he is a person who sacrifices himself, but in the sense given by the Old Covenant: that is, to offer a sacred gift to God.
Consolata Betrone, of the order of the Poor Clares, lived near Turin in the first half of last century (1903-1946), and was without doubt a victim soul who had the courage to respond to the cry of Jesus: “I thirst for victims to save the world. I thirst for brides, not for nuns; and in this precise moment I need victims more than I need brides,” and she offered herself as a holocaust (sacrifice that is burnt till it is totally consumed, as in the biblical sense). And she made her offering for the sake of “each soul in the entire universe, that Jesus might save them all,” and in particular for the priests and religious who were not faithful to their vows or who denied their vocation.
Inspired by Thérèse of Lisieux, she had the audacity to be “that soul that was weaker than mine, littler than mine” whom the holy Carmelite nun had said “would receive still greater graces, if it abandoned itself with absolute confidence to God’s infinite mercy.” And Consolata was that soul. Of her Jesus said: “In the womb of the Church you will be trust… I am very pleased with the blind trust, infantile trust, boundless, immense trust that you have in Me… Never allow, not even for an instant, that the enemy should penetrate your soul with the thought of mistrust, ever! Believe in me as only and always good; believe in me as only and always a mother for you… Consolata, understand my heart… tell the world how good and motherly I am… I am and I love being exclusively good and merciful with my creatures. Don’t paint me as a severe God, if I am a God of love… I shall save the world with merciful Love!”
To console Jesus for the great mistrust in His Goodness and Mercy, Pierina Betrone took the name Consolata (she who is consoled) when she took her vows, in a desire to console the Heart of Jesus and all those who weren’t able to perceive and receive the Lord’s love. And it was Jesus Himself who showed her not only the way to console Him but also how to “love Him as none other had loved Him and to save souls that none other had saved.” This way is the unceasing act of love “Jesus, Mary I love you, save souls!” that the Redeemer called the very small way of love and trust. It wasn’t meant just for her, but for all little souls, since the Lord wants: “the triumph in the world not only of Mercy, but especially of Love, particularly in the very little souls.”
“Jesus, Mary, I love You, save souls encompasses everything,” the Lord had told her: love for Him and for creatures: “the souls in Purgatory and the souls in the Militant Church; the innocent soul and the guilty soul; the dying, the atheist, etc… Do not lose time; remember that every act of love is a soul.” This act of love, if uninterrupted, is destined to cut off the roots of all evil, and to remove life from the old man so that the new man may live and be only and totally love for God (Jesus, Mary I love you) and only and totally love for men (save souls). It is an evangelical way in the true meaning of the word, for it requires that one should remain continuously in His love, to have Christ’s own sentiments, to have no other time except to think of loving Jesus and Mary and saving souls. This is equal to the perfect denial of self that Jesus asked of His disciples.
It is for this reason that Jesus told Consolata that she would have been annihilated by an uninterrupted act of love. She experienced that “to be an uninterrupted virginal act of love, one must disappear,” disappear before creatures and before one’s own eyes, so as to follow with all one’s might – in profound silence and in love – “God alone, till all is fulfilled.” This Poor Clare’s radical response prompted her: “to never attempt to make myself happy: neither through food, nor drink, nor rest, nor clothes, nor tastes, nor preferences; but to seek total annihilation of my will, my due, my personal work… annihilation of the tongue… respond only when necessary and with an act of love.”
To live this act of love without interruption, with all one’s being, in times of consolation and in times of trial, requires heroism, it requires stripping of self, but it makes the heart pure, and it unifies it. It is similar to prayer of the heart, but it is even greater, for it not only unites one to Jesus, but to God through Jesus and Mary. It unites the soul to their Hearts which are offered in sacrifice to the Father as a sacrifice of love for the sake of souls.
Jesus and Mary cannot be separated, just as one cannot separate God’s love from the offering of self for the salvation of our brethren. For Consolata, in fact, love for Jesus and Mary could not be separated. It was this love that generated her love for souls. At the end of her earthly life she said: “ Oh, I am certain that one day when the Divine Heart will show me to the world He will say only one thing: ‘She trusted me! She believed in me.’ Yes, Jesus will do great things, and I already join myself to the Blessed Virgin to sing the Magnificat. A few more months and Consolata will become Consolatrix (she who consoles). Yes, with love I shall bend down over every heart that groans, that suffers, that despairs, that swears, that curses… How I feel sorry for those who suffer…”
It was this divine love for souls that made her desire Paradise so that she could do good for all. Now that Sr. Consolata is in the Father’s bosom, her thirst to do good is entirely satisfied according to the Lord’s promise: “Yes, your Jesus will grant it to you: you shall tend your ear to all the sorrows of the earth, you shall wrench from me the greatest graces, and from each soul - in recompense - you shall alwaysission of your brethren, you shall be everyone’s Consolata.”
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