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The Imitation of Christ
AUTHOR: a Kempis, Thomas
PUBLISHED ON: March 31, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN

                  THE IMITATION OF CHRIST

                              BY

                      Thomas a Kempis

                      TRANSLATED FROM
                        THE LATIN INTO
                        MODERN ENGLISH

Digitized by Harry Plantinga, planting@cs.pitt.edu, 1994.
This etext is in the public domain.
   

                          FOREWARD

IN PREPARING this edition of The Imitation of Christ, the aim was
to achieve a simple, readable text which would ring true to those
who are already lovers of this incomparable book and would attract
others to it. For this reason we have attempted to render the text
into English as it is spoken today rather than the cloudy, archaic
terminology that encumbers so many translations of Christian
classics. The result, we feel, has achieved a directness and
conciseness which will meet the approval of modern readers. In the
second place, we have made use of the familiar paragraph form,
doing away with the simple statement or verse form of the original
and of many translations. This was done in the interest of easier
reading, and in order to bring out more clearly the connection
between the single statements.
    No claim of literary excellence over the many English
versions now extant is here advanced, nor any attempt to solve in
further confusion the problem of the book’s authorship.
    Theories most popular at the moment ascribe the Imitation to
two or three men, members of the Brethren of the Common Life, an
association of priests organized in the Netherlands in the latter
half of the fourteenth century. That Thomas Hemerken of Kempen, or
Thomas Ë Kempis as he is now known, later translated a composite
of their writings, essentially a spiritual diary, from the
original Netherlandish into Latin is generally admitted by
scholars. This Thomas, born about the year 1380, was educated by
the Brethren of the Common Life, was moved to join their
community, and was ordained priest. His career thereafter was
devoted to practicing the counsels of spiritual perfection and to
copying books for the schools. From both pursuits evolved The
Imitation of Christ. As editor and translator he was not without
faults, but thanks to him the Imitation became and has remained,
after the Bible, the most widely read book in the world. It is his
edition that is here rendered into English, without deletion of
chapters or parts of them because doubts exist as to their
authorship, or because of variants in style, or for any of the
other more or less valid reasons.
    There is but one major change. The treatise on Holy
Communion, which Ë Kempis places as Book Three, is here titled
Book Four. The move makes the order of the whole more logical and
agrees with the thought of most editors.

                                          The Translators
                                          Aloysius Croft
                                          Harold Bolton
   

                          CONTENTS

FOREWARD

BOOK ONE.  THOUGHTS HELPFUL IN THE LIFE OF THE SOUL

1  Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth
2  Having A Humble Opinion of Self
3  The Doctrine of Truth
4  Prudence in Action
5  Reading the Holy Scripture
6  Unbridled Affections
7  Avoiding False Hope and Pride
8  Shunning Over-Familiarity
9  Obedience and Subjection
10  Avoiding Idle Talk
11  Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection
12  The Value of Adversity
13  Resisting Temptation
14  Avoiding Rash Judgment
15  Works Done in Charity
16  Bearing With the Faults of Others
17  Monastic Life
18  The Example Set Us by the Holy Fathers
19  The Practices of a Good Religious
20  The Love of Solitude and Silence
21  Sorrow of Heart
22  Thoughts on the Misery of Man
23  Thoughts on Death
24  Judgment and the Punishment of Sin
25  Zeal in Amending Our Lives

BOOK TWO. THE INTERIOR LIFE

1  Meditation
2  Humility
3  Goodness and Peace in Man
4  Purity of Mind and Unity of Purpose
5  Ourselves
6  The Joy of a Good Conscience
7  Loving Jesus Above All Things
8  The Intimate Friendship of Jesus
9  Wanting No Share in Comfort
10  Appreciating God’s Grace
11  Few Love the Cross of Jesus
12  The Royal Road of the Holy Cross

BOOK THREE. INTERNAL CONSOLATION

1  The Inward Conversation of Christ with the Faithful Soul
2  Truth Speaks Inwardly without the Sound of Words
3  Listen Humbly to the Words of God. Many Do Not Heed Them
4  We Must Walk Before God in Humility and Truth
5  The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love
6  The Proving of a True Lover
7  Grace Must Be Hidden Under the Mantle of Humility
8  Self-Abasement in the Sight of God
9  All Things Should be Referred to God as their Last End
10  To Despise the World and Serve God is Sweet
11  The Longings of Our Hearts Must Be Examined and Moderated
12  Acquiring Patience in the Fight against Concupiscence
13  The Obedience of One Humbly Subject to the Example of Jesus
    Christ
14  Consider the Hidden Judgments of God Lest You Become Proud
    of Your Own Good Deeds
15  How One Should Feel and Speak on Every Desirable Thing
16  True Comfort is to be Sought in God Alone
17  All Our Care is to be Placed in God
18  Temporal Sufferings Should be Borne Patiently, After the
    Example of Christ
19  True Patience in Suffering
20  Confessing Our Weakness in the Miseries of Life
21  Above All Goods and All Gifts We Must Rest in God
22  Remember the Innumerable Gifts of God
23  Four Things Which Bring Great Peace
24  Avoiding Curious Inquiry About the Lives of Others
25  The Basis of Firm Peace of Heart and True Progress
26  The Excellence of a Free Mind, Gained Through Prayer Rather
    Than by Study
27  Self-Love is the Greatest Hindrance to the Highest Good
28  Strength Against Slander
29  How We Must Call Upon and Bless the Lord When Trouble Presses
30  The Quest of Divine Help and Confidence in Regaining Grace
31  To Find the Creator, Forsake All Creatures
32  Self-Denial and the Renunciation of Evil Appetites
33  Restlessness of Soul — Directing Our Final Intention Toward
    God
34  God is Sweet Above All Things and in All Things to Those Who
    Love Him
35  There is No Security from Temptation in This Life
36  The Vain Judgments of Men
37  Pure and Entire Resignation of Self to Obtain Freedom of Heart
38  The Right Ordering of External Affairs; Recourse to God in
    Dangers
39  A Man Should Not be Unduly Solicitous about his Affairs
40  Man Has No Good in Himself and Can Glory in Nothing
41  Contempt for All Earthly Honor
42  Peace is not to be Placed in Men
43  Beware Vain and Worldly Knowledge
44  Do Not be Concerned About Outward Things
45  All Men Are Not To Be Believed, For It is Easy To Err in
    Speech
46  Trust in God Against Slander
47  Every Trial Must Be Borne for the Sake of Eternal Life
48  The Day of Eternity and the Distresses of this Life
49  The Desire of Eternal Life; The Great Rewards Promised to
    Those Who Struggle
50  How a Desolate Person Ought to Commit Himself into the Hands
    of God
51  When We Cannot Attain to the Highest, We Must Practice the
    Humble Works
52  A Man Ought Not to Consider Himself Worthy of Consolation, But
    Rather Deserving of Chastisement
53  God’s Grace Is Not Given to the Earthly Minded
54  The Different Motions of Nature and Grace
55  The Corruption of Nature and the Efficacy of Divine Grace
56  We Ought to Deny Ourselves and Imitate Christ Through Bearing
    the Cross
57  A Man Should Not Be Too Downcast When He Falls Into Defects
58  High Matters and the Hidden Judgments of God Are Not To Be
    Scrutinized
59  All Hope and Trust Are To Be Fixed in God Alone

BOOK FOUR. AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

1  The Great Reverence With Which We Should Receive Christ
2  God’s Great Goodness and Love is Shown to Man in This
    Sacrament
3  It Is Profitable To Receive Communion Often
4  Many Blessings Are Given Those Who Receive Communion Worthily
5  The Dignity of the Sacrament and of the Priesthood
6  An Inquiry on the Proper Thing to do Before Communion
7  The Examination of Conscience and the Resolution to Amend
8  The Offering of Christ on the Cross; Our Offering
9  We Should Offer Ourselves and All That We Have to God, Praying
    for All
10  Do Not Lightly Forego Holy Communion
11  The Body of Christ and Sacred Scripture Are Most Necessary to
    a Faithful Soul
12  The Communicant Should Prepare Himself for Christ with Great
    Care
13  With All Her Heart the Devout Soul Should Desire Union with
    Christ in the Sacrament
14  The Ardent Longing of Devout Men for the Body of Christ
15  The Grace of Devotion is Acquired Through Humility and Self-
    Denial
16  We Should Show Our Needs to Christ and Ask His Grace
17  The Burning Love and Strong Desire to Receive Christ
18  Man Should Not Scrutinize This Sacrament in Curiosity, But
    Humbly Imitate Christ and Submit Reason to Holy Faith
   

                          BOOK ONE

                      THOUGHTS HELPFUL
                  IN THE LIFE OF THE SOUL

                      The First Chapter

    Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth

HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord.[1] By
these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and
habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all
blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study
the life of Jesus Christ.
    The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice
of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden
manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care
little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet
whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to
pattern his whole life on that of Christ.
    What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if,
lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not
learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes
him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how
to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible
by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live
without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is
vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.
    This is the greatest wisdom — to seek the kingdom of heaven
through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek
and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor
and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts
of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later
must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little
about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the
present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is
vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where
eternal joy abides.
    Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with
seeing nor the ear filled with hearing.”[2] Try, moreover, to turn
your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to
things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions
stain their consciences and lose the grace of God.
—–
[1] John 8:12.
[2] Eccles. 1:8.

                    The Second Chapter

                Having a Humble Opinion of Self

EVERY man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge
without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is
better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study
the course of the stars. He who knows himself well becomes mean in
his own eyes and is not happy when praised by men.
    If I knew all things in the world and had not charity, what
would it profit me before God Who will judge me by my deeds?
    Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is
much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned
and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of
which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns
himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is
very unwise.
    Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the
mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God.
    The more you know and the better you understand, the more
severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more
holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or
skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think
you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at
the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not
affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why prefer yourself to
anyone else when many are more learned, more cultured than you?
    If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while,
then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know
and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel. To think of
oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others
is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another
sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself
better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good
estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more
frail than yourself.

                      The Third Chapter

                    The Doctrine of Truth

HAPPY is he to whom truth manifests itself, not in signs and words
that fade, but as it actually is. Our opinions, our senses often
deceive us and we discern very little.
    What good is much discussion of involved and obscure matters
when our ignorance of them will not be held against us on Judgment
Day? Neglect of things which are profitable and necessary and
undue concern with those which are irrelevant and harmful, are
great folly.
    We have eyes and do not see.
    What, therefore, have we to do with questions of philosophy?
He to whom the Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing. For
from this Word are all things and of Him all things speak — the
Beginning Who also speaks to us. Without this Word no man
understands or judges aright. He to whom it becomes everything,
who traces all things to it and who sees all things in it, may
ease his heart and remain at peace with God.
    O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love
everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and
read, but in You is all that I long for. Let the learned be still,
let all creatures be silent before You; You alone speak to me.
    The more recollected a man is, and the more simple of heart
he becomes, the easier he understands sublime things, for he
receives the light of knowledge from above. The pure, simple, and
steadfast spirit is not distracted by many labors, for he does
them all for the honor of God. And since he enjoys interior peace
he seeks no selfish end in anything. What, indeed, gives more
trouble and affliction than uncontrolled desires of the heart?
    A good and devout man arranges in his mind the things he has
to do, not according to the whims of evil inclination but
according to the dictates of right reason. Who is forced to
struggle more than he who tries to master himself? This ought to
be our purpose, then: to conquer self, to become stronger each
day, to advance in virtue.
    Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed
with it and no learning of ours is without some darkness. Humble
knowledge of self is a surer path to God than the ardent pursuit
of learning. Not that learning is to be considered evil, or
knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a
clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred.
Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try
to become learned rather than to live well.
    If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting
virtues as they do in discussing problems, there would not be so
much evil and scandal in the world, or such laxity in religious
organizations. On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be
asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we
have spoken but how well we have lived.
    Tell me, where now are all the masters and teachers whom you
knew so well in life and who were famous for their learning?
Others have already taken their places and I know not whether they
ever think of their predecessors. During life they seemed to be
something; now they are seldom remembered. How quickly the glory
of the world passes away! If only their lives had kept pace with
their learning, then their study and reading would have been worth
while.
    How many there are who perish because of vain worldly
knowledge and too little care for serving God. They became vain in
their own conceits because they chose to be great rather than
humble.
    He is truly great who has great charity. He is truly great
who is little in his own eyes and makes nothing of the highest
honor. He is truly wise who looks upon all earthly things as folly
that he may gain Christ. He who does God’s will and renounces his
own is truly very learned.

                    The Fourth Chapter

                    Prudence in Action

DO NOT yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider things
carefully and patiently in the light of God’s will. For very
often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil
of others rather than good. Perfect men, however, do not readily
believe every talebearer, because they know that human frailty is
prone to evil and is likely to appear in speech.
    Not to act rashly or to cling obstinately to one’s opinion,
not to believe everything people say or to spread abroad the
gossip one has heard, is great wisdom.
    Take counsel with a wise and conscientious man. Seek the
advice of your betters in preference to following your own
inclinations.
    A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him
experience in many things, for the more humble he is and the more
subject to God, the wiser and the more at peace he will be in all
things.

                      The Fifth Chapter

                  Reading the Holy Scripture

TRUTH, not eloquence, is to be sought in reading the Holy
Scriptures; and every part must be read in the spirit in which it
was written. For in the Scriptures we ought to seek profit rather
than polished diction.
    Likewise we ought to read simple and devout books as
willingly as learned and profound ones. We ought not to be swayed
by the authority of the writer, whether he be a great literary
light or an insignificant person, but by the love of simple truth.
We ought not to ask who is speaking, but mark what is said. Men
pass away, but the truth of the Lord remains forever. God speaks
to us in many ways without regard for persons.
    Our curiosity often impedes our reading of the Scriptures,
when we wish to understand and mull over what we ought simply to
read and pass by.
    If you would profit from it, therefore, read with humility,
simplicity, and faith, and never seek a reputation for being
learned. Seek willingly and listen attentively to the words of the
saints; do not be displeased with the sayings of the ancients, for
they were not made without purpose.

                      The Sixth Chapter

                    Unbridled Affections

WHEN a man desires a thing too much, he at once becomes ill at
ease. A proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who is
poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace. An unmortified
man is quickly tempted and overcome in small, trifling evils; his
spirit is weak, in a measure carnal and inclined to sensual
things; he can hardly abstain from earthly desires. Hence it makes
him sad to forego them; he is quick to anger if reproved. Yet if
he satisfies his desires, remorse of conscience overwhelms him
because he followed his passions and they did not lead to the
peace he sought.
    True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions,
not in satisfying them. There is no peace in the carnal man, in
the man given to vain attractions, but there is peace in the
fervent and spiritual man.

                    The Seventh Chapter

                Avoiding False Hope and Pride

VAIN is the man who puts his trust in men, in created things.
    Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus
Christ and to seem poor in this world. Do not be self-sufficient
but place your trust in God. Do what lies in your power and God
will aid your good will. Put no trust in your own learning nor in
the cunning of any man, but rather in the grace of God Who helps
the humble and humbles the proud.
    If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends
because they are powerful, but in God Who gives all things and Who
desires above all to give Himself. Do not boast of personal
stature or of physical beauty, qualities which are marred and
destroyed by a little sickness. Do not take pride in your talent
or ability, lest you displease God to Whom belongs all the natural
gifts that you have.
    Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you
be accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not
take pride in your good deeds, for God’s judgments differ from
those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him. If there
is good in you, see more good in others, so that you may remain
humble. It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else,
but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. The
humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud
are envy and frequent anger.

                    The Eighth Chapter

                Shunning Over-Familiarity

DO NOT open your heart to every man, but discuss your affairs with
one who is wise and who fears God. Do not keep company with young
people and strangers. Do not fawn upon the rich, and do not be
fond of mingling with the great. Associate with the humble and the
simple, with the devout and virtuous, and with them speak of
edifying things. Be not intimate with any woman, but generally
commend all good women to God. Seek only the intimacy of God and
of His angels, and avoid the notice of men.
    We ought to have charity for all men but familiarity with all
is not expedient. Sometimes it happens that a person enjoys a good
reputation among those who do not know him, but at the same time
is held in slight regard by those who do. Frequently we think we
are pleasing others by our presence and we begin rather to
displease them by the faults they find in us.

                      The Ninth Chapter

                  Obedience and Subjection

IT IS a very great thing to obey, to live under a superior and not
to be one’s own master, for it is much safer to be subject than it
is to command. Many live in obedience more from necessity than
from love. Such become discontented and dejected on the slightest
pretext; they will never gain peace of mind unless they subject
themselves wholeheartedly for the love of God.
    Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble
obedience to the rule of authority. Dreams of happiness expected
from change and different places have deceived many.
    Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is
attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we
must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace.
    Furthermore, who is so wise that he can have full knowledge
of everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions, but be
willing to listen to those of others. If, though your own be good,
you accept another’s opinion for love of God, you will gain much
more merit; for I have often heard that it is safer to listen to
advice and take it than to give it. It may happen, too, that while
one’s own opinion may be good, refusal to agree with others when
reason and occasion demand it, is a sign of pride and obstinacy.

                      The Tenth Chapter

                      Avoiding Idle Talk

SHUN the gossip of men as much as possible, for discussion of
worldly affairs, even though sincere, is a great distraction
inasmuch as we are quickly ensnared and captivated by vanity.
    Many a time I wish that I had held my peace and had not
associated with men. Why, indeed, do we converse and gossip among
ourselves when we so seldom part without a troubled conscience? We
do so because we seek comfort from one another’s conversation and
wish to ease the mind wearied by diverse thoughts. Hence, we talk
and think quite fondly of things we like very much or of things we
dislike intensely. But, sad to say, we often talk vainly and to no
purpose; for this external pleasure effectively bars inward and
divine consolation.
    Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly.
    When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say
something that will edify.
    Bad habits and indifference to spiritual progress do much to
remove the guard from the tongue. Devout conversation on spiritual
matters, on the contrary, is a great aid to spiritual progress,
especially when persons of the same mind and spirit associate
together in God.

                    The Eleventh Chapter

          Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection

WE SHOULD enjoy much peace if we did not concern ourselves with
what others say and do, for these are no concern of ours. How can
a man who meddles in affairs not his own, who seeks strange
distractions, and who is little or seldom inwardly recollected,
live long in peace?
    Blessed are the simple of heart for they shall enjoy peace in
abundance.
    Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to
contemplation? Because they tried to mortify entirely in
themselves all earthly desires, and thus they were able to attach
themselves to God with all their heart and freely to concentrate
their innermost thoughts.
    We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken
up with passing things. Rarely do we completely conquer even one
vice, and we are not inflamed with the desire to improve ourselves
day by day; hence, we remain cold and indifferent. If we mortified
our bodies perfectly and allowed no distractions to enter our
minds, we could appreciate divine things and experience something
of heavenly contemplation.
    The greatest obstacle, indeed, the only obstacle, is that we
are not free from passions and lusts, that we do not try to follow
the perfect way of the saints. Thus when we encounter some slight
difficulty, we are too easily dejected and turn to human
consolations. If we tried, however, to stand as brave men in
battle, the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain us.
For He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory, is
ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace.
    If we let our progress in religious life depend on the
observance of its externals alone, our devotion will quickly come
to an end. Let us, then, lay the ax to the root that we may be
freed from our passions and thus have peace of mind.
    If we were to uproot only one vice each year, we should soon
become perfect. The contrary, however, is often the case — we
feel that we were better and purer in the first fervor of our
conversion than we are after many years in the practice of our
faith. Our fervor and progress ought to increase day by day; yet
it is now considered noteworthy if a man can retain even a part of
his first fervor.
    If we did a little violence to ourselves at the start, we
should afterwards be able to do all things with ease and joy. It
is hard to break old habits, but harder still to go against our
will.
    If you do not overcome small, trifling things, how will you
overcome the more difficult? Resist temptations in the beginning,
and unlearn the evil habit lest perhaps, little by little, it lead
to a more evil one.
    If you but consider what peace a good life will bring to
yourself and what joy it will give to others, I think you will be
more concerned about your spiritual progress.

                    The Twelfth Chapter

                    The Value of Adversity

IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they
often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in
any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer
contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and
mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from
vainglory. When to all outward appearances men give us no credit,
when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to
seek God Who sees our hearts. Therefore, a man ought to root
himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of
men.
    When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented
by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is
God, without Whom he can do no good. Saddened by his miseries and
sufferings, he laments and prays. He wearies of living longer and
wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be with Christ.
Then he understands fully that perfect security and complete peace
cannot be found on earth.

                  The Thirteenth Chapter

                    Resisting Temptation

SO LONG as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and
temptation. Whence it is written in Job: “The life of man upon
earth is a warfare.”[3] Everyone, therefore, must guard against
temptation and must watch in prayer lest the devil, who never
sleeps but goes about seeking whom he may devour, find occasion to
deceive him. No one is so perfect or so holy but he is sometimes
tempted; man cannot be altogether free from temptation.
    Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often
useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and
instructed. The saints all passed through many temptations and
trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist became
reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy, no place so
secret that temptations and trials will not come. Man is never
safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from within us
— in sin we were born. When one temptation or trial passes,
another comes; we shall always have something to suffer because we
have lost the state of original blessedness.
    Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more
deeply. We cannot conquer simply by fleeing, but by patience and
true humility we become stronger than all our enemies. The man who
only shuns temptations outwardly and does not uproot them will
make little progress; indeed they will quickly return, more
violent than before.
    Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will
overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your
own rash ways. Often take counsel when tempted; and do not be
harsh with others who are tempted, but console them as you
yourself would wish to be consoled.
    The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and
little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and
yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many
ways. Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just. Often we
do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we
are.
    Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings
of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is
refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold
when he knocks.
    Someone has said very aptly: “Resist the beginnings; remedies
come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength.”
First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination,
followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he
is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the
longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he
become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against
him.
    Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their
conversion, others toward the end, while some are troubled almost
constantly throughout their life. Others, again, are tempted but
lightly according to the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence
Who weighs the status and merit of each and prepares all for the
salvation of His elect.
    We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but
pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us, for
according to the word of Paul, He will make issue with temptation
that we may be able to bear it. Let us humble our souls under the
hand of God in every trial and temptation for He will save and
exalt the humble in spirit.
    In temptations and trials the progress of a man is measured;
in them opportunity for merit and virtue is made more manifest.
    When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be
fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of
adversity, there is hope for great progress.
    Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently
overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in
small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great
ones.
—–
[3] Job 7:1.

                  The Fourteenth Chapter

                  Avoiding Rash Judgment

TURN your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds
of other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly, often
makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking
stock of himself he does something that is always profitable.
    We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be,
for through personal feeling true perspective is easily lost.
    If God were the sole object of our desire, we should not be
disturbed so easily by opposition to our opinions. But often
something lurks within or happens from without to draw us along
with it.
    Many, unawares, seek themselves in the things they do. They
seem even to enjoy peace of mind when things happen according to
their wish and liking, but if otherwise than they desire, they are
soon disturbed and saddened. Differences of feeling and opinion
often divide friends and acquaintances, even those who are
religious and devout.
    An old habit is hard to break, and no one is willing to be
led farther than he can see.
    If you rely more upon your intelligence or industry than upon
the virtue of submission to Jesus Christ, you will hardly, and in
any case slowly, become an enlightened man. God wants us to be
completely subject to Him and, through ardent love, to rise above
all human wisdom.

                    The Fifteenth Chapter

                    Works Done in Charity

NEVER do evil for anything in the world, or for the love of any
man. For one who is in need, however, a good work may at times be
purposely left undone or changed for a better one. This is not the
omission of a good deed but rather its improvement.
    Without charity external work is of no value, but anything
done in charity, be it ever so small and trivial, is entirely
fruitful inasmuch as God weighs the love with which a man acts
rather than the deed itself.
    He does much who loves much. He does much who does a thing
well. He does well who serves the common good rather than his own
interests.
    Now, that which seems to be charity is oftentimes really
sensuality, for man’s own inclination, his own will, his hope of
reward, and his self-interest, are motives seldom absent. On the
contrary, he who has true and perfect charity seeks self in
nothing, but searches all things for the glory of God. Moreover,
he envies no man, because he desires no personal pleasure nor does
he wish to rejoice in himself; rather he desires the greater glory
of God above all things. He ascribes to man nothing that is good
but attributes it wholly to God from Whom all things proceed as
from a fountain, and in Whom all the blessed shall rest as their
last end and fruition.
    If man had but a spark of true charity he would surely sense
that all the things of earth are full of vanity!

                    The Sixteenth Chapter

              Bearing with the Faults of Others

UNTIL God ordains otherwise, a man ought to bear patiently
whatever he cannot correct in himself and in others. Consider it
better thus — perhaps to try your patience and to test you, for
without such patience and trial your merits are of little account.
Nevertheless, under such difficulties you should pray that God
will consent to help you bear them calmly.
    If, after being admonished once or twice, a person does not
amend, do not argue with him but commit the whole matter to God
that His will and honor may be furthered in all His servants, for
God knows well how to turn evil to good. Try to bear patiently
with the defects and infirmities of others, whatever they may be,
because you also have many a fault which others must endure.
    If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how
can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet
we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely
corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty
displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we ask. We would
have them bound by laws, yet we will allow ourselves to be
restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how seldom we think of
others as we do of ourselves.
    If all were perfect, what should we have to suffer from
others for God’s sake? But God has so ordained, that we may learn
to bear with one another’s burdens, for there is no man without
fault, no man without burden, no man sufficient to himself nor
wise enough. Hence we must support one another, console one
another, mutually help, counsel, and advise, for the measure of
every man’s virtue is best revealed in time of adversity —
adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.

                  The Seventeenth Chapter

                        Monastic Life

IF YOU wish peace and concord with others, you must learn to break
your will in many things. To live in monasteries or religious
communities, to remain there without complaint, and to persevere
faithfully till death is no small matter. Blessed indeed is he who
there lives a good life and there ends his days in happiness.
    If you would persevere in seeking perfection, you must
consider yourself a pilgrim, an exile on earth. If you would
become a religious, you must be content to seem a fool for the
sake of Christ. Habit and tonsure change a man but little; it is
the change of life, the complete mortification of passions that
endow a true religious.
    He who seeks anything but God alone and the salvation of his
soul will find only trouble and grief, and he who does not try to
become the least, the servant of all, cannot remain at peace for
long.
    You have come to serve, not to rule. You must understand,
too, that you have been called to suffer and to work, not to idle
and gossip away your time. Here men are tried as gold in a
furnace. Here no man can remain unless he desires with all his
heart to humble himself before God.

                    The Eighteenth Chapter

          The Example Set Us by the Holy Fathers

CONSIDER the lively examples set us by the saints, who possessed
the light of true perfection and religion, and you will see how
little, how nearly nothing, we do. What, alas, is our life,
compared with theirs? The saints and friends of Christ served the
Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, in work and
fatigue, in vigils and fasts, in prayers and holy meditations, in
persecutions and many afflictions. How many and severe were the
trials they suffered — the Apostles, martyrs, confessors,
virgins, and all the rest who willed to follow in the footsteps of
Christ! They hated their lives on earth that they might have life
in eternity.
    How strict and detached were the lives the holy hermits led
in the desert! What long and grave temptations they suffered! How
often were they beset by the enemy! What frequent and ardent
prayers they offered to God! What rigorous fasts they observed!
How great their zeal and their love for spiritual perfection! How
brave the fight they waged to master their evil habits! What pure
and straightforward purpose they showed toward God! By day they
labored and by night they spent themselves in long prayers. Even
at work they did not cease from mental prayer. They used all their
time profitably; every hour seemed too short for serving God, and
in the great sweetness of contemplation, they forgot even their
bodily needs.
    They renounced all riches, dignities, honors, friends, and
associates. They desired nothing of the world. They scarcely
allowed themselves the necessities of life, and the service of the
body, even when necessary, was irksome to them. They were poor in
earthly things but rich in grace and virtue. Outwardly destitute,
inwardly they were full of grace and divine consolation. Strangers
to the world, they were close and intimate friends of God. To
themselves they seemed as nothing, and they were despised by the
world, but in the eyes of God they were precious and beloved. They
lived in true humility and simple obedience; they walked in
charity and patience, making progress daily on the pathway of
spiritual life and obtaining great favor with God.
    They were given as an example for all religious, and their
power to stimulate us to perfection ought to be greater than that
of the lukewarm to tempt us to laxity.
    How great was the fervor of all religious in the beginning of
their holy institution! How great their devotion in prayer and
their rivalry for virtue! What splendid discipline flourished
among them! What great reverence and obedience in all things under
the rule of a superior! The footsteps they left behind still bear
witness that they indeed were holy and perfect men who fought
bravely and conquered the world.
    Today, he who is not a transgressor and who can bear
patiently the duties which he has taken upon himself is considered
great. How lukewarm and negligent we are! We lose our original
fervor very quickly and we even become weary of life from
laziness! Do not you, who have seen so many examples of the
devout, fall asleep in the pursuit of virtue!

                    The Nineteenth Chapter

              The Practices of a Good Religious

THE life of a good religious ought to abound in every virtue so
that he is interiorly what to others he appears to be. With good
reason there ought to be much more within than appears on the
outside, for He who sees within is God, Whom we ought to reverence
most highly wherever we are and in Whose sight we ought to walk
pure as the angels.
    Each day we ought to renew our resolutions and arouse
ourselves to fervor as though it were the first day of our
religious life. We ought to say: “Help me, O Lord God, in my good
resolution and in Your holy service. Grant me now, this very day,
to begin perfectly, for thus far I have done nothing.”
    As our intention is, so will be our progress; and he who
desires perfection must be very diligent. If the strong-willed man
fails frequently, what of the man who makes up his mind seldom or
half-heartedly? Many are the ways of failing in our resolutions;
even a slight omission of religious practice entails a loss of
some kind.
    Just men depend on the grace of God rather than on their own
wisdom in keeping their resolutions. In Him they confide every
undertaking, for man, indeed, proposes but God disposes, and God’s
way is not man’s. If a habitual exercise is sometimes omitted out
of piety or in the interests of another, it can easily be resumed
later. But if it be abandoned carelessly, through weariness or
neglect, then the fault is great and will prove hurtful. Much as
we try, we still fail too easily in many things. Yet we must
always have some fixed purpose, especially against things which
beset us the most. Our outward and inward lives alike must be
closely watched and well ordered, for both are important to
perfection.
    If you cannot recollect yourself continuously, do so once a
day at least, in the morning or in the evening. In the morning
make a resolution and in the evening examine yourself on what you
have said this day, what you have done and thought, for in these
things perhaps you have often offended God and those about you.
    Arm yourself like a man against the devil’s assaults. Curb
your appetite and you will more easily curb every inclination of
the flesh. Never be completely unoccupied, but read or write or
pray or meditate or do something for the common good. Bodily
discipline, however, must be undertaken with discretion and is not
to be practiced indiscriminately by everyone.
    Devotions not common to all are not to be displayed in
public, for such personal things are better performed in private.
Furthermore, beware of indifference to community prayer through
love of your own devotions. If, however, after doing completely
and faithfully all you are bound and commanded to do, you then
have leisure, use it as personal piety suggests.
    Not everyone can have the same devotion. One exactly suits
this person, another that. Different exercises, likewise, are
suitable for different times, some for feast days and some again
for weekdays. In time of temptation we need certain devotions. For
days of rest and peace we need others. Some are suitable when we
are sad, others when we are joyful in the Lord.
    About the time of the principal feasts good devotions ought
to be renewed and the intercession of the saints more fervently
implored. From one feast day to the next we ought to fix our
purpose as though we were then to pass from this world and come to
the eternal holyday.
    During holy seasons, finally, we ought to prepare ourselves
carefully, to live holier lives, and to observe each rule more
strictly, as though we were soon to receive from God the reward of
our labors. If this end be deferred, let us believe that we are
not well prepared and that we are not yet worthy of the great
glory that shall in due time be revealed to us. Let us try,
meanwhile, to prepare ourselves better for death.
    “Blessed is the servant,” says Christ, “whom his master, when
he cometh, shall find watching. Amen I say to you: he shall make
him ruler over all his goods.”[4]
—–
[4] Luke 12:43, 44.

                    The Twentieth Chapter

              The Love of Solitude and Silence

SEEK a suitable time for leisure and meditate often on the favors
of God. Leave curiosities alone. Read such matters as bring sorrow
to the heart rather than occupation to the mind. If you withdraw
yourself from unnecessary talking and idle running about, from
listening to gossip and rumors, you will find enough time that is
suitable for holy meditation.
    Very many great saints avoided the company of men wherever
possible and chose to serve God in retirement. “As often as I have
been among men,” said one writer, “I have returned less a man.” We
often find this to be true when we take part in long
conversations. It is easier to be silent altogether than not to
speak too much. To stay at home is easier than to be sufficiently
on guard while away. Anyone, then, who aims to live the inner and
spiritual life must go apart, with Jesus, from the crowd.
    No man appears in safety before the public eye unless he
first relishes obscurity. No man is safe in speaking unless he
loves to be silent. No man rules safely unless he is willing to be
ruled. No man commands safely unless he has learned well how to
obey. No man rejoices safely unless he has within him the
testimony of a good conscience.
    More than this, the security of the saints was always
enveloped in the fear of God, nor were they less cautious and
humble because they were conspicuous for great virtues and graces.
The security of the wicked, on the contrary, springs from pride
and presumption, and will end in their own deception.
    Never promise yourself security in this life, even though you
seem to be a good religious, or a devout hermit. It happens very
often that those whom men esteem highly are more seriously
endangered by their own excessive confidence. Hence, for many it
is better not to be too free from temptations, but often to be
tried lest they become too secure, too filled with pride, or even
too eager to fall back upon external comforts.
    If only a man would never seek passing joys or entangle
himself with worldly affairs, what a good conscience he would
have. What great peace and tranquillity would be his, if he cut
himself off from all empty care and thought only of things divine,
things helpful to his soul, and put all his trust in God.
    No man deserves the consolation of heaven unless he
persistently arouses himself to holy contrition. If you desire
true sorrow of heart, seek the privacy of your cell and shut out
the uproar of the world, as it is written: “In your chamber bewail
your sins.” There you will find what too often you lose abroad.
    Your cell will become dear to you if you remain in it, but if
you do not, it will become wearisome. If in the beginning of your
religious life, you live within your cell and keep to it, it will
soon become a special friend and a very great comfort.
    In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and
learns the hidden truths of Scripture. There she finds a flood of
tears with which to bathe and cleanse herself nightly, that she
may become the more intimate with her Creator the farther she
withdraws from all the tumult of the world. For God and His holy
angels will draw near to him who withdraws from friends and
acquaintances.
    It is better for a man to be obscure and to attend to his
salvation than to neglect it and work miracles. It is praiseworthy
for a religious seldom to go abroad, to flee the sight of men and
have no wish to see them.
    Why wish to see what you are not permitted to have? “The
world passes away and the concupiscence thereof.” Sensual craving
sometimes entices you to wander around, but when the moment is
past, what do you bring back with you save a disturbed conscience
and heavy heart? A happy going often leads to a sad return, a
merry evening to a mournful dawn. Thus, all carnal joy begins
sweetly but in the end brings remorse and death.
    What can you find elsewhere that you cannot find here in your
cell? Behold heaven and earth and all the elements, for of these
all things are made. What can you see anywhere under the sun that
will remain long? Perhaps you think you will completely satisfy
yourself, but you cannot do so, for if you should see all existing
things, what would they be but an empty vision?
    Raise your eyes to God in heaven and pray because of your
sins and shortcomings. Leave vanity to the vain. Set yourself to
the things which God has commanded you to do. Close the door upon
yourself and call to you Jesus, your Beloved. Remain with Him in
your cell, for nowhere else will you find such peace. If you had
not left it, and had not listened to idle gossip, you would have
remained in greater peace. But since you love, sometimes, to hear
news, it is only right that you should suffer sorrow of heart from
it.

                  The Twenty-First Chapter

                      Sorrow of Heart

IF YOU wish to make progress in virtue, live in the fear of the
Lord, do not look for too much freedom, discipline your senses,
and shun inane silliness. Sorrow opens the door to many a blessing
which dissoluteness usually destroys.
    It is a wonder that any man who considers and meditates on
his exiled state and the many dangers to his soul, can ever be
perfectly happy in this life. Lighthearted and heedless of our
defects, we do not feel the real sorrows of our souls, but often
indulge in empty laughter when we have good reason to weep. No
liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is founded in the
fear of the Lord and a good conscience.
    Happy is the man who can throw off the weight of every care
and recollect himself in holy contrition. Happy is the man who
casts from him all that can stain or burden his conscience.
    Fight like a man. Habit is overcome by habit. If you leave
men alone, they will leave you alone to do what you have to do. Do
not busy yourself about the affairs of others and do not become
entangled in the business of your superiors. Keep an eye primarily
on yourself and admonish yourself instead of your friends.
    If you do not enjoy the favor of men, do not let it sadden
you; but consider it a serious matter if you do not conduct
yourself as well or as carefully as is becoming for a servant of
God and a devout religious.
    It is often better and safer for us to have few consolations
in this life, especially comforts of the body. Yet if we do not
have divine consolation or experience it rarely, it is our own
fault because we seek no sorrow of heart and do not forsake vain
outward satisfaction.
    Consider yourself unworthy of divine solace and deserving
rather of much tribulation. When a man is perfectly contrite, the
whole world is bitter and wearisome to him.
    A good man always finds enough over which to mourn and weep;
whether he thinks of himself or of his neighbor he knows that no
one lives here without suffering, and the closer he examines
himself the more he grieves.
    The sins and vices in which we are so entangled that we can
rarely apply ourselves to the contemplation of heaven are matters
for just sorrow and inner remorse.
    I do not doubt that you would correct yourself more earnestly
if you would think more of an early death than of a long life. And
if you pondered in your heart the future pains of hell or of
purgatory, I believe you would willingly endure labor and trouble
and would fear no hardship. But since these thoughts never pierce
the heart and since we are enamored of flattering pleasure, we
remain very cold and indifferent. Our wretched body complains so
easily because our soul is altogether too lifeless.
    Pray humbly to the Lord, therefore, that He may give you the
spirit of contrition and say with the Prophet: “Feed me, Lord,
with the bread of mourning and give me to drink of tears in full
measure.”[5]
—–
[5] Ps. 79:6.

                  The Twenty-Second Chapter

                Thoughts on the Misery of Man

WHEREVER you are, wherever you go, you are miserable unless you
turn to God. So why be dismayed when things do not happen as you
wish and desire? Is there anyone who has everything as he wishes?
No — neither I, nor you, nor any man on earth. There is no one in
the world, be he Pope or king, who does not suffer trial and
anguish.
    Who is the better off then? Surely, it is the man who will
suffer something for God. Many unstable and weak-minded people
say: “See how well that man lives, how rich, how great he is, how
powerful and mighty.” But you must lift up your eyes to the riches
of heaven and realize that the material goods of which they speak
are nothing. These things are uncertain and very burdensome
because they are never possessed without anxiety and fear. Man’s
happiness does not consist in the possession of abundant goods; a
very little is enough.
    Living on earth is truly a misery. The more a man desires
spiritual life, the more bitter the present becomes to him,
because he understands better and sees more clearly the defects,
the corruption of human nature. To eat and drink, to watch and
sleep, to rest, to labor, and to be bound by other human
necessities is certainly a great misery and affliction to the
devout man, who would gladly be released from them and be free
from all sin. Truly, the inner man is greatly burdened in this
world by the necessities of the body, and for this reason the
Prophet prayed that he might be as free from them as possible,
when he said: “From my necessities, O Lord, deliver me.”[6]
    But woe to those who know not their own misery, and greater
woe to those who love this miserable and corruptible life. Some,
indeed, can scarcely procure its necessities either by work or by
begging; yet they love it so much that, if they could live here
always, they would care nothing for the kingdom of God.
    How foolish and faithless of heart are those who are so
engrossed in earthly things as to relish nothing but what is
carnal! Miserable men indeed, for in the end they will see to
their sorrow how cheap and worthless was the thing they loved.
    The saints of God and all devout friends of Christ did not
look to what pleases the body nor to the things that are popular
from time to time. Their whole hope and aim centered on the
everlasting good. Their whole desire pointed upward to the lasting
and invisible realm, lest the love of what is visible drag them
down to lower things.
    Do not lose heart, then, my brother, in pursuing your
spiritual life. There is yet time, and your hour is not past. Why
delay your purpose? Arise! Begin at once and say: “Now is the time
to act, now is the time to fight, now is the proper time to
amend.”
    When you are troubled and afflicted, that is the time to gain
merit. You must pass through water and fire before coming to rest.
Unless you do violence to yourself you will not overcome vice.
    So long as we live in this fragile body, we can neither be
free from sin nor live without weariness and sorrow. Gladly would
we rest from all misery, but in losing innocence through sin we
also lost true blessedness. Therefore, we must have patience and
await the mercy of God until this iniquity passes, until mortality
is swallowed up in life.
    How great is the frailty of human nature which is ever prone
to evil! Today you confess your sins and tomorrow you again commit
the sins which you confessed. One moment you resolve to be
careful, and yet after an hour you act as though you had made no
resolution.
    We have cause, therefore, because of our frailty and
feebleness, to humble ourselves and never think anything great of
ourselves. Through neglect we may quickly lose that which by God’s
grace we have acquired only through long, hard labor. What,
eventually, will become of us who so quickly grow lukewarm? Woe to
us if we presume to rest in peace and security when actually there
is no true holiness in our lives. It would be beneficial for us,
like good novices, to be instructed once more in the principles of
a good life, to see if there be hope of amendment and greater
spiritual progress in the future.
—–
[6] Ps. 24:17.

                  The Twenty-Third Chapter

                      Thoughts on Death

VERY soon your life here will end; consider, then, what may be in
store for you elsewhere. Today we live; tomorrow we die and are
quickly forgotten. Oh, the dullness and hardness of a heart which
looks only to the present instead of preparing for that which is
to come!
    Therefore, in every deed and every thought, act as though you
were to die this very day. If you had a good conscience you would
not fear death very much. It is better to avoid sin than to fear
death. If you are not prepared today, how will you be prepared
tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day; how do you know you will
have a tomorrow?
    What good is it to live a long life when we amend that life
so little? Indeed, a long life does not always benefit us, but on
the contrary, frequently adds to our guilt. Would that in this
world we had lived well throughout one single day. Many count up
the years they have spent in religion but find their lives made
little holier. If it is so terrifying to die, it is nevertheless
possible that to live longer is more dangerous. Blessed is he who
keeps the moment of death ever before his eyes and prepares for it
every day.
    If you have ever seen a man die, remember that you, too, must
go the same way. In the morning consider that you may not live
till evening, and when evening comes do not dare to promise
yourself the dawn. Be always ready, therefore, and so live that
death will never take you unprepared. Many die suddenly and
unexpectedly, for in the unexpected hour the Son of God will come.
When that last moment arrives you will begin to have a quite
different opinion of the life that is now entirely past and you
will regret very much that you were so careless and remiss.
    How happy and prudent is he who tries now in life to be what
he wants to be found in death. Perfect contempt of the world, a
lively desire to advance in virtue, a love for discipline, the
works of penance, readiness to obey, self-denial, and the
endurance of every hardship for the love of Christ, these will
give a man great expectations of a happy death.
    You can do many good works when in good health; what can you
do when you are ill? Few are made better by sickness. Likewise
they who undertake many pilgrimages seldom become holy.
    Do not put your trust in friends and relatives, and do not
put off the care of your soul till later, for men will forget you
more quickly than you think. It is better to provide now, in time,
and send some good account ahead of you than to rely on the help
of others. If you do not care for your own welfare now, who will
care when you are gone?
    The present is very precious; these are the days of
salvation; now is the acceptable time. How sad that you do not
spend the time in which you might purchase everlasting life in a
better way. The time will come when you will want just one day,
just one hour in which to make amends, and do you know whether you
will obtain it?
    See, then, dearly beloved, the great danger from which you
can free yourself and the great fear from which you can be saved,
if only you will always be wary and mindful of death. Try to live
now in such a manner that at the moment of death you may be glad
rather than fearful. Learn to die to the world now, that then you
may begin to live with Christ. Learn to spurn all things now, that
then you may freely go to Him. Chastise your body in penance now,
that then you may have the confidence born of certainty.
    Ah, foolish man, why do you plan to live long when you are
not sure of living even a day? How many have been deceived and
suddenly snatched away! How often have you heard of persons being
killed by drownings, by fatal falls from high places, of persons
dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the sword, in pestilence, or
at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of everyone and the life
of man quickly passes away like a shadow.
    Who will remember you when you are dead? Who will pray for
you? Do now, beloved, what you can, because you do not know when
you will die, nor what your fate will be after death. Gather for
yourself the riches of immortality while you have time. Think of
nothing but your salvation. Care only for the things of God. Make
friends for yourself now by honoring the saints of God, by
imitating their actions, so that when you depart this life they
may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
    Keep yourself as a stranger here on earth, a pilgrim whom its
affairs do not concern at all. Keep your heart free and raise it
up to God, for you have not here a lasting home. To Him direct
your daily prayers, your sighs and tears, that your soul may merit
after death to pass in happiness to the Lord.

                  The Twenty-Fourth Chapter

              Judgment and the Punishment of Sin

IN ALL things consider the end; how you shall stand before the
strict Judge from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will pronounce
judgment in all justice, accepting neither bribes nor excuses. And
you, miserable and wretched sinner, who fear even the countenance
of an angry man, what answer will you make to the God Who knows
all your sins? Why do you not provide for yourself against the day
of judgment when no man can be excused or defended by another
because each will have enough to do to answer for himself? In this
life your work is profitable, your tears acceptable, your sighs
audible, your sorrow satisfying and purifying.
    The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory
when he grieves more over the malice of one who harms him than for
his own injury; when he prays readily for his enemies and forgives
offenses from his heart; when he does not hesitate to ask pardon
of others; when he is more easily moved to pity than to anger;
when he does frequent violence to himself and tries to bring the
body into complete subjection to the spirit.
    It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than
to keep them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive
ourselves by our ill-advised love of the flesh. What will that
fire feed upon but our sins? The more we spare ourselves now and
the more we satisfy the flesh, the harder will the reckoning be
and the more we keep for the burning.
    For a man will be more grievously punished in the things in
which he has sinned. There the lazy will be driven with burning
prongs, and gluttons tormented with unspeakable hunger and thirst;
the wanton and lust-loving will be bathed in burning pitch and
foul brimstone; the envious will howl in their grief like mad
dogs.
    Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud
will be faced with every confusion and the avaricious pinched with
the most abject want. One hour of suffering there will be more
bitter than a hundred years of the most severe penance here. In
this life men sometimes rest from work and enjoy the comfort of
friends, but the damned have no rest or consolation.
    You must, therefore, take care and repent of your sins now so
that on the day of judgment you may rest secure with the blessed.
For on that day the just will stand firm against those who
tortured and oppressed them, and he who now submits humbly to the
judgment of men will arise to pass judgment upon them. The poor
and humble will have great confidence, while the proud will be
struck with fear. He who learned to be a fool in this world and to
be scorned for Christ will then appear to have been wise.
    In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing
and the voice of iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be
glad; the irreligious will mourn; and the mortified body will
rejoice far more than if it had been pampered with every pleasure.
Then the cheap garment will shine with splendor and the rich one
become faded and worn; the poor cottage will be more praised than
the gilded palace. In that day persevering patience will count
more than all the power in this world; simple obedience will be
exalted above all worldly cleverness; a good and clean conscience
will gladden the heart of man far more than the philosophy of the
learned; and contempt for riches will be of more weight than every
treasure on earth.
    Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly
than in having fared daintily; you will be happy that you
preferred silence to prolonged gossip.
    Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair
words; strictness of life and hard penances will be more pleasing
than all earthly delights.
    Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not
have to suffer greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can
bear hereafter. If you can suffer only a little now, how will you
be able to endure eternal torment? If a little suffering makes you
impatient now, what will hell fire do? In truth, you cannot have
two joys: you cannot taste the pleasures of this world and
afterward reign with Christ.
    If your life to this moment had been full of honors and
pleasures, what good would it do if at this instant you should
die? All is vanity, therefore, except to love God and to serve Him
alone.
    He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or
punishment or judgment or hell, because perfect love assures
access to God.
    It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death
and judgment.
    It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet
restrain you from evil, at least the fear of hell does. The man
who casts aside the fear of God cannot continue long in goodness
but will quickly fall into the snares of the devil.

                  The Twenty-Fifth Chapter

                Zeal in Amending our Lives

BE WATCHFUL and diligent in God’s service and often think of why
you left the world and came here. Was it not that you might live
for God and become a spiritual man? Strive earnestly for
perfection, then, because in a short time you will receive the
reward of your labor, and neither fear nor sorrow shall come upon
you at the hour of death.
    Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in
truth, eternal joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in
doing, God will undoubtedly be faithful and generous in rewarding.
Continue to have reasonable hope of gaining salvation, but do not
act as though you were certain of it lest you grow indolent and
proud.
    One day when a certain man who wavered often and anxiously
between hope and fear was struck with sadness, he knelt in humble
prayer before the altar of a church. While meditating on these
things, he said: “Oh if I but knew whether I should persevere to
the end!” Instantly he heard within the divine answer: “If you
knew this, what would you do? Do now what you would do then and
you will be quite secure.” Immediately consoled and comforted, he
resigned himself to the divine will and the anxious uncertainty
ceased. His curiosity no longer sought to know what the future
held for him, and he tried instead to find the perfect, the
acceptable will of God in the beginning and end of every good
work.
    “Trust thou in the Lord and do good,” says the Prophet;
“dwell in the land and thou shalt feed on its riches.”[7]
    There is one thing that keeps many from zealously improving
their lives, that is, dread of the difficulty, the toil of battle.
Certainly they who try bravely to overcome the most difficult and
unpleasant obstacles far outstrip others in the pursuit of virtue.
A man makes the most progress and merits the most grace precisely
in those matters wherein he gains the greatest victories over self
and most mortifies his will. True, each one has his own
difficulties to meet and conquer, but a diligent and sincere man
will make greater progress even though he have more passions than
one who is more even-tempered but less concerned about virtue.
    Two things particularly further improvement — to withdraw
oneself forcibly from those vices to which nature is viciously
inclined, and to work fervently for those graces which are most
needed.
    Study also to guard against and to overcome the faults which
in others very frequently displease you. Make the best of every
opportunity, so that if you see or hear good example you may be
moved to imitate it. On the other hand, take care lest you be
guilty of those things which you consider reprehensible, or if you
have ever been guilty of them, try to correct yourself as soon as
possible. As you see others, so they see you.
    How pleasant and sweet to behold brethren fervent and devout,
well mannered and disciplined! How sad and painful to see them
wandering in dissolution, not practicing the things to which they
are called! How hurtful it is to neglect the purpose of their
vocation and to attend to what is not their business!
    Remember the purpose you have undertaken, and keep in mind
the image of the Crucified. Even though you may have walked for
many years on the pathway to God, you may well be ashamed if, with
the image of Christ before you, you do not try to make yourself
still more like Him.
    The religious who concerns himself intently and devoutly with
our Lord’s most holy life and passion will find there an abundance
of all things useful and necessary for him. He need not seek for
anything better than Jesus.
    If the Crucified should come to our hearts, how quickly and
abundantly we would learn!
    A fervent religious accepts all the things that are commanded
him and does them well, but a negligent and lukewarm religious has
trial upon trial, and suffers anguish from every side because he
has no consolation within and is forbidden to seek it from
without. The religious who does not live up to his rule exposes
himself to dreadful ruin, and he who wishes to be more free and
untrammeled will always be in trouble, for something or other will
always displease him.
    How do so many other religious who are confined in cloistered
discipline get along? They seldom go out, they live in
contemplation, their food is poor, their clothing coarse, they
work hard, they speak but little, keep long vigils, rise early,
pray much, read frequently, and subject themselves to all sorts of
discipline. Think of the Carthusians and the Cistercians, the
monks and nuns of different orders, how every night they rise to
sing praise to the Lord. It would be a shame if you should grow
lazy in such holy service when so many religious have already
begun to rejoice in God.
    If there were nothing else to do but praise the Lord God with
all your heart and voice, if you had never to eat, or drink, or
sleep, but could praise God always and occupy yourself solely with
spiritual pursuits, how much happier you would be than you are
now, a slave to every necessity of the body! Would that there were
no such needs, but only the spiritual refreshments of the soul
which, sad to say, we taste too seldom!
    When a man reaches a point where he seeks no solace from any
creature, then he begins to relish God perfectly. Then also he
will be content no matter what may happen to him. He will neither
rejoice over great things nor grieve over small ones, but will
place himself entirely and confidently in the hands of God, Who
for him is all in all, to Whom nothing ever perishes or dies, for
Whom all things live, and Whom they serve as He desires.
    Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time
never returns. Without care and diligence you will never acquire
virtue. When you begin to grow lukewarm, you are falling into the
beginning of evil; but if you give yourself to fervor, you will
find peace and will experience less hardship because of God’s
grace and the love of virtue.
    A fervent and diligent man is ready for all things. It is
greater work to resist vices and passions than to sweat in
physical toil. He who does not overcome small faults, shall fall
little by little into greater ones.
    If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be
happy at eventide. Watch over yourself, arouse yourself, warn
yourself, and regardless of what becomes of others, do not neglect
yourself. The more violence you do to yourself, the more progress
you will make.
—–
[7] Ps. 36:3.

                          BOOK TWO

                      THE INTERIOR LIFE

                      The First Chapter

                        Meditation

THE kingdom of God is within you,” says the Lord.[8]
    Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched
world and your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external
things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you will
see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is peace
and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the impious.
    Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you
prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and
glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits
with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of
consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed.
    Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this
Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you; He Himself says:
“If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love
him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with
him.”[9]
    Give place, then, to Christ, but deny entrance to all others,
for when you have Christ you are rich and He is sufficient for
you. He will provide for you. He will supply your every want, so
that you need not trust in frail, changeable men. Christ remains
forever, standing firmly with us to the end.
    Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful
and friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he
sometimes opposes and contradicts you. Those who are with us today
may be against us tomorrow, and vice versa, for men change with
the wind. Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear and
your love. He will answer for you; He will do what is best for
you.
    You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a
pilgrim wherever you may be, and you shall have no rest until you
are wholly united with Christ.
    Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your
repose? Dwell rather upon heaven and give but a passing glance to
all earthly things. They all pass away, and you together with
them. Take care, then, that you do not cling to them lest you be
entrapped and perish. Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray
unceasingly to Christ.
    If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct
your thoughts to Christ’s passion and willingly behold His sacred
wounds. If you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmata
of Christ, you will find great comfort in suffering, you will mind
but little the scorn of men, and you will easily bear their
slanderous talk.
    When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the
hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends
to the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be
despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and
defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor?
How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity test it? How can
you be a friend of Christ if you are not willing to suffer any
hardship? Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you wish to reign
with Him.
    Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or
tasted a little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at all
for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the
reproach you suffer; for love of Him makes a man despise himself.
    A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth, a truly interior
man who is free from uncontrolled affections, can turn to God at
will and rise above himself to enjoy spiritual peace.
    He who tastes life as it really is, not as men say or think
it is, is indeed wise with the wisdom of God rather than of men.
    He who learns to live the interior life and to take little
account of outward things, does not seek special places or times
to perform devout exercises. A spiritual man quickly recollects
himself because he has never wasted his attention upon externals.
No outside work, no business that cannot wait stands in his way.
He adjusts himself to things as they happen. He whose disposition
is well ordered cares nothing about the strange, perverse behavior
of others, for a man is upset and distracted only in proportion as
he engrosses himself in externals.
    If all were well with you, therefore, and if you were
purified from all sin, everything would tend to your good and be
to your profit. But because you are as yet neither entirely dead
to self nor free from all earthly affection, there is much that
often displeases and disturbs you. Nothing so mars and defiles the
heart of man as impure attachment to created things. But if you
refuse external consolation, you will be able to contemplate
heavenly things and often to experience interior joy.
—–
[8] Luke 17:21.
[9] John 14:23.

                    The Second Chapter

                          Humility

BE NOT troubled about those who are with you or against you, but
take care that God be with you in everything you do. Keep your
conscience clear and God will protect you, for the malice of man
cannot harm one whom God wishes to help. If you know how to suffer
in silence, you will undoubtedly experience God’s help. He knows
when and how to deliver you; therefore, place yourself in His
hands, for it is a divine prerogative to help men and free them
from all distress.
    It is often good for us to have others know our faults and
rebuke them, for it gives us greater humility. When a man humbles
himself because of his faults, he easily placates those about him
and readily appeases those who are angry with him.
    It is the humble man whom God protects and liberates; it is
the humble whom He loves and consoles. To the humble He turns and
upon them bestows great grace, that after their humiliation He may
raise them up to glory. He reveals His secrets to the humble, and
with kind invitation bids them come to Him. Thus, the humble man
enjoys peace in the midst of many vexations, because his trust is
in God, not in the world. Hence, you must not think that you have
made any progress until you look upon yourself as inferior to all
others.

                      The Third Chapter

                  Goodness and Peace in Man

FIRST keep peace with yourself; then you will be able to bring
peace to others. A peaceful man does more good than a learned man.
Whereas a passionate man turns even good to evil and is quick to
believe evil, the peaceful man, being good himself, turns all
things to good.
    The man who is at perfect ease is never suspicious, but the
disturbed and discontented spirit is upset by many a suspicion. He
neither rests himself nor permits others to do so. He often says
what ought not to be said and leaves undone what ought to be done.
He is concerned with the duties of others but neglects his own.
    Direct your zeal, therefore, first upon yourself; then you
may with justice exercise it upon those about you. You are well
versed in coloring your own actions with excuses which you will
not accept from others, though it would be more just to accuse
yourself and excuse your brother. If you wish men to bear with
you, you must bear with them. Behold, how far you are from true
charity and humility which does not know how to be angry with
anyone, or to be indignant save only against self!
    It is no great thing to associate with the good and gentle,
for such association is naturally pleasing. Everyone enjoys a
peaceful life and prefers persons of congenial habits. But to be
able to live at peace with harsh and perverse men, or with the
undisciplined and those who irritate us, is a great grace, a
praiseworthy and manly thing.
    Some people live at peace with themselves and with their
fellow men, but others are never at peace with themselves nor do
they bring it to anyone else. These latter are a burden to
everyone, but they are more of a burden to themselves. A few,
finally, live at peace with themselves and try to restore it to
others.
    Now, all our peace in this miserable life is found in humbly
enduring suffering rather than in being free from it. He who knows
best how to suffer will enjoy the greater peace, because he is the
conqueror of himself, the master of the world, a friend of Christ,
and an heir of heaven.

                    The Fourth Chapter

            Purity of Mind and Unity of Purpose

A MAN is raised up from the earth by two wings — simplicity and
purity. There must be simplicity in his intention and purity in
his desires. Simplicity leads to God, purity embraces and enjoys
Him.
    If your heart is free from ill-ordered affection, no good
deed will be difficult for you. If you aim at and seek after
nothing but the pleasure of God and the welfare of your neighbor,
you will enjoy freedom within.
    If your heart were right, then every created thing would be a
mirror of life for you and a book of holy teaching, for there is
no creature so small and worthless that it does not show forth the
goodness of God. If inwardly you were good and pure, you would see
all things clearly and understand them rightly, for a pure heart
penetrates to heaven and hell, and as a man is within, so he
judges what is without. If there be joy in the world, the pure of
heart certainly possess it; and if there be anguish and affliction
anywhere, an evil conscience knows it too well.
    As iron cast into fire loses its rust and becomes glowing
white, so he who turns completely to God is stripped of his
sluggishness and changed into a new man. When a man begins to grow
lax, he fears a little toil and welcomes external comfort, but
when he begins perfectly to conquer himself and to walk bravely in
the ways of God, then he thinks those things less difficult which
he thought so hard before.

                      The Fifth Chapter

                          Ourselves

WE MUST not rely too much upon ourselves, for grace and
understanding are often lacking in us. We have but little inborn
light, and this we quickly lose through negligence. Often we are
not aware that we are so blind in heart. Meanwhile we do wrong,
and then do worse in excusing it. At times we are moved by
passion, and we think it zeal. We take others to task for small
mistakes, and overlook greater ones in ourselves. We are quick
enough to feel and brood over the things we suffer from others,
but we think nothing of how much others suffer from us. If a man
would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly, he would find little
cause to pass severe judgment on others.
    The interior man puts the care of himself before all other
concerns, and he who attends to himself carefully does not find it
hard to hold his tongue about others. You will never be devout of
heart unless you are thus silent about the affairs of others and
pay particular attention to yourself. If you attend wholly to God
and yourself, you will be little disturbed by what you see about
you.
    Where are your thoughts when they are not upon yourself? And
after attending to various things, what have you gained if you
have neglected self? If you wish to have true peace of mind and
unity of purpose, you must cast all else aside and keep only
yourself before your eyes.
    You will make great progress if you keep yourself free from
all temporal cares, for to value anything that is temporal is a
great mistake. Consider nothing great, nothing high, nothing
pleasing, nothing acceptable, except God Himself or that which is
of God. Consider the consolations of creatures as vanity, for the
soul that loves God scorns all things that are inferior to Him.
God alone, the eternal and infinite, satisfies all, bringing
comfort to the soul and true joy to the body.

                      The Sixth Chapter

                The Joy of a Good Conscience

THE glory of a good man is the testimony of a good conscience.
Therefore, keep your conscience good and you will always enjoy
happiness, for a good conscience can bear a great deal and can
bring joy even in the midst of adversity. But an evil conscience
is ever restive and fearful.
    Sweet shall be your rest if your heart does not reproach you.
    Do not rejoice unless you have done well. Sinners never
experience true interior joy or peace, for “there is no peace to
the wicked,” says the Lord.[10] Even if they say: “We are at
peace, no evil shall befall us and no one dares to hurt us,” do
not believe them; for the wrath of God will arise quickly, and
their deeds will be brought to naught and their thoughts will
perish.
    To glory in adversity is not hard for the man who loves, for
this is to glory in the cross of the Lord. But the glory given or
received of men is short lived, and the glory of the world is ever
companioned by sorrow. The glory of the good, however, is in their
conscience and not in the lips of men, for the joy of the just is
from God and in God, and their gladness is founded on truth.
    The man who longs for the true, eternal glory does not care
for that of time; and he who seeks passing fame or does not in his
heart despise it, undoubtedly cares little for the glory of
heaven.
    He who minds neither praise nor blame possesses great peace
of heart and, if his conscience is good, he will easily be
contented and at peace.
    Praise adds nothing to your holiness, nor does blame take
anything from it. You are what you are, and you cannot be said to
be better than you are in God’s sight. If you consider well what
you are within, you will not care what men say about you. They
look to appearances but God looks to the heart. They consider the
deed but God weighs the motive.
    It is characteristic of a humble soul always to do good and
to think little of itself. It is a mark of great purity and deep
faith to look for no consolation in created things. The man who
desires no justification from without has clearly entrusted
himself to God: “For not he who commendeth himself is approved,”
says St. Paul, “but he whom God commendeth.”[11]
    To walk with God interiorly, to be free from any external
affection — this is the state of the inward man.
—–
[10] Isa. 48:22.
[11] 2 Cor. 10:18.

                    The Seventh Chapter

                Loving Jesus Above All Things

BLESSED is he who appreciates what it is to love Jesus and who
despises himself for the sake of Jesus. Give up all other love for
His, since He wishes to be loved alone above all things.
    Affection for creatures is deceitful and inconstant, but the
love of Jesus is true and enduring. He who clings to a creature
will fall with its frailty, but he who gives himself to Jesus will
ever be strengthened.
    Love Him, then; keep Him as a friend. He will not leave you
as others do, or let you suffer lasting death. Sometime, whether
you will or not, you will have to part with everything. Cling,
therefore, to Jesus in life and death; trust yourself to the glory
of Him who alone can help you when all others fail.
    Your Beloved is such that He will not accept what belongs to
another — He wants your heart for Himself alone, to be enthroned
therein as King in His own right. If you but knew how to free
yourself entirely from all creatures, Jesus would gladly dwell
within you.
    You will find, apart from Him, that nearly all the trust you
place in men is a total loss. Therefore, neither confide in nor
depend upon a wind-shaken reed, for “all flesh is grass”[12] and
all its glory, like the flower of grass, will fade away.
    You will quickly be deceived if you look only to the outward
appearance of men, and you will often be disappointed if you seek
comfort and gain in them. If, however, you seek Jesus in all
things, you will surely find Him. Likewise, if you seek yourself,
you will find yourself — to your own ruin. For the man who does
not seek Jesus does himself much greater harm than the whole world
and all his enemies could ever do.
—–
[12] Isa. 15:6.

                      The Eighth Chapter

              The Intimate Friendship of Jesus

WHEN Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult. When
He is absent, all is hard. When Jesus does not speak within, all
other comfort is empty, but if He says only a word, it brings
great consolation.
    Did not Mary Magdalen rise at once from her weeping when
Martha said to her: “The Master is come, and calleth for
thee”?[13] Happy is the hour when Jesus calls one from tears to
joy of spirit.
    How dry and hard you are without Jesus! How foolish and vain
if you desire anything but Him! Is it not a greater loss than
losing the whole world? For what, without Jesus, can the world
give you? Life without Him is a relentless hell, but living with
Him is a sweet paradise. If Jesus be with you, no enemy can harm
you.
    He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure, indeed, a good
above every good, whereas he who loses Him loses more than the
whole world. The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the
poor, whereas no one is so rich as the man who lives in His grace.
    It is a great art to know how to converse with Jesus, and
great wisdom to know how to keep Him. Be humble and peaceful, and
Jesus will be with you. Be devout and calm, and He will remain
with you. You may quickly drive Him away and lose His grace, if
you turn back to the outside world. And, if you drive Him away and
lose Him, to whom will you go and whom will you then seek as a
friend? You cannot live well without a friend, and if Jesus be not
your friend above all else, you will be very sad and desolate.
Thus, you are acting foolishly if you trust or rejoice in any
other. Choose the opposition of the whole world rather than offend
Jesus. Of all those who are dear to you, let Him be your special
love. Let all things be loved for the sake of Jesus, but Jesus for
His own sake.
    Jesus Christ must be loved alone with a special love for He
alone, of all friends, is good and faithful. For Him and in Him
you must love friends and foes alike, and pray to Him that all may
know and love Him.
    Never desire special praise or love, for that belongs to God
alone Who has no equal. Never wish that anyone’s affection be
centered in you, nor let yourself be taken up with the love of
anyone, but let Jesus be in you and in every good man. Be pure and
free within, unentangled with any creature.
    You must bring to God a clean and open heart if you wish to
attend and see how sweet the Lord is. Truly you will never attain
this happiness unless His grace prepares you and draws you on so
that you may forsake all things to be united with Him alone.
    When the grace of God comes to a man he can do all things,
but when it leaves him he becomes poor and weak, abandoned, as it
were, to affliction. Yet, in this condition he should not become
dejected or despair. On the contrary, he should calmly await the
will of God and bear whatever befalls him in praise of Jesus
Christ, for after winter comes summer, after night, the day, and
after the storm, a great calm.
—–
[13] John 11:28.

                      The Ninth Chapter

                Wanting No Share in Comfort

IT IS not hard to spurn human consolation when we have the divine.
It is, however, a very great thing indeed to be able to live
without either divine or human comforting and for the honor of God
willingly to endure this exile of heart, not to seek oneself in
anything, and to think nothing of one’s own merit.
    Does it matter much, if at the coming of grace, you are
cheerful and devout? This is an hour desired by all, for he whom
the grace of God sustains travels easily enough. What wonder if he
feel no burden when borne up by the Almighty and led on by the
Supreme Guide! For we are always glad to have something to comfort
us, and only with difficulty does a man divest himself of self.
    The holy martyr, Lawrence, with his priest, conquered the
world because he despised everything in it that seemed pleasing to
him, and for love of Christ patiently suffered the great high
priest of God, Sixtus, whom he loved dearly, to be taken from him.
Thus, by his love for the Creator he overcame the love of man, and
chose instead of human consolation the good pleasure of God. So
you, too, must learn to part with an intimate and much-needed
friend for the love of God. Do not take it to heart when you are
deserted by a friend, knowing that in the end we must all be
parted from one another.
    A man must fight long and bravely against himself before he
learns to master himself fully and to direct all his affections
toward God. When he trusts in himself, he easily takes to human
consolation. The true lover of Christ, however, who sincerely
pursues virtue, does not fall back upon consolations nor seek such
pleasures of sense, but prefers severe trials and hard labors for
the sake of Christ.
    When, therefore, spiritual consolation is given by God,
receive it gratefully, but understand that it is His gift and not
your meriting. Do not exult, do not be overjoyed, do not be
presumptuous, but be the humbler for the gift, more careful and
wary in all your actions, for this hour will pass and temptation
will come in its wake.
    When consolation is taken away, do not at once despair but
wait humbly and patiently for the heavenly visit, since God can
restore to you more abundant solace.
    This is neither new nor strange to one who knows God’s ways,
for such change of fortune often visited the great saints and
prophets of old. Thus there was one who, when grace was with him,
declared: “In my prosperity I said: ‘I shall never be moved.'” But
when grace was taken away, he adds what he experienced in himself:
“Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled.” Meanwhile he does
not despair; rather he prays more earnestly to the Lord, saying:
“To Thee, O Lord, will I cry; and I will make supplication to my
God.” At length, he receives the fruit of his prayer, and
testifying that he was heard, says “The Lord hath heard, and hath
had mercy on me: the Lord became my helper.” And how was he
helped? “Thou hast turned,” he says, “my mourning into joy, and
hast surrounded me with gladness.”[14]
    If this is the case with great saints, we who are weak and
poor ought not to despair because we are fervent at times and at
other times cold, for the spirit comes and goes according to His
will. Of this the blessed Job declared: “Thou visitest him early
in the morning, and Thou provest him suddenly.”[15]
    In what can I hope, then, or in whom ought I trust, save only
in the great mercy of God and the hope of heavenly grace? For
though I have with me good men, devout brethren, faithful friends,
holy books, beautiful treatises, sweet songs and hymns, all these
help and please but little when I am abandoned by grace and left
to my poverty. At such times there is no better remedy than
patience and resignation of self to the will of God.
    I have never met a man so religious and devout that he has
not experienced at some time a withdrawal of grace and felt a
lessening of fervor. No saint was so sublimely rapt and
enlightened as not to be tempted before and after. He, indeed, is
not worthy of the sublime contemplation of God who has not been
tried by some tribulation for the sake of God. For temptation is
usually the sign preceding the consolation that is to follow, and
heavenly consolation is promised to all those proved by
temptation. “To him that overcometh,” says Christ, “I will give to
eat of the Tree of Life.”[16] Divine consolation, then, is given
in order to make a man braver in enduring adversity, and
temptation follows in order that he may not pride himself on the
good he has done.
    The devil does not sleep, nor is the flesh yet dead;
therefore, you must never cease your preparation for battle,
because on the right and on the left are enemies who never rest.
—–
[14] Ps. 29:7-12.
[15] Job 7:18.
[16] Apoc. 2:7.

                      The Tenth Chapter

                  Appreciating God’s Grace

WHY do you look for rest when you were born to work? Resign
yourself to patience rather than to comfort, to carrying your
cross rather than to enjoyment.
    What man in the world, if he could always have them, would
not readily accept consolation and spiritual joy, benefits which
excel all earthly delights and pleasures of the body? The latter,
indeed, are either vain or base, while spiritual joys, born of
virtue and infused by God into pure minds, are alone truly
pleasant and noble.
    Now, since the moment of temptation is always nigh, since
false freedom of mind and overconfidence in self are serious
obstacles to these visitations from heaven, a man can never enjoy
them just as he wishes.
    God does well in giving the grace of consolation, but man
does evil in not returning everything gratefully to God. Thus, the
gifts of grace cannot flow in us when we are ungrateful to the
Giver, when we do not return them to the Fountainhead. Grace is
always given to him who is duly grateful, and what is wont to be
given the humble will be taken away from the proud.
    I do not desire consolation that robs me of contrition, nor
do I care for contemplation that leads to pride, for not all that
is high is holy, nor is all that is sweet good, nor every desire
pure, nor all that is dear to us pleasing to God. I accept
willingly the grace whereby I become more humble and contrite,
more willing to renounce self.
    The man who has been taught by the gift of grace, and who
learns by the lash of its withdrawal, will never dare to attribute
any good to himself, but will rather admit his poverty and
emptiness. Give to God what is God’s and ascribe to yourself what
is yours. Give Him thanks, then, for His grace, but place upon
yourself alone the blame and the punishment your fault deserves.
    Always take the lowest place and the highest will be given
you, for the highest cannot exist apart from the lowest. The
saints who are greatest before God are those who consider
themselves the least, and the more humble they are within
themselves, so much the more glorious they are. Since they do not
desire vainglory, they are full of truth and heavenly glory. Being
established and strengthened in God, they can by no means be
proud. They attribute to God whatever good they have received;
they seek no glory from one another but only that which comes from
God alone. They desire above all things that He be praised in
themselves and in all His saints — this is their constant
purpose.
    Be grateful, therefore, for the least gift and you will be
worthy to receive a greater. Consider the least gift as the
greatest, the most contemptible as something special. And, if you
but look to the dignity of the Giver, no gift will appear too
small or worthless. Even though He give punishments and scourges,
accept them, because He acts for our welfare in whatever He allows
to befall us.
    He who desires to keep the grace of God ought to be grateful
when it is given and patient when it is withdrawn. Let him pray
that it return; let him be cautious and humble lest he lose it.

                    The Eleventh Chapter

                Few Love the Cross of Jesus

JESUS has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who
bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who
care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take
part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to
suffer anything for Him. Many follow Him to the breaking of bread,
but few to the drinking of the chalice of His passion. Many revere
His miracles; few approach the shame of the Cross. Many love Him
as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise and bless Him
as long as they receive some comfort from Him. But if Jesus hides
Himself and leaves them for a while, they fall either into
complaints or into deep dejection. Those, on the contrary, who
love Him for His own sake and not for any comfort of their own,
bless Him in all trial and anguish of heart as well as in the
bliss of consolation. Even if He should never give them
consolation, yet they would continue to praise Him and wish always
to give Him thanks. What power there is in pure love for Jesus —
love that is flee from all self-interest and self-love!
    Do not those who always seek consolation deserve to be called
mercenaries? Do not those who always think of their own profit and
gain prove that they love themselves rather than Christ? Where can
a man be found who desires to serve God for nothing? Rarely indeed
is a man so spiritual as to strip himself of all things. And who
shall find a man so truly poor in spirit as to be free from every
creature? His value is like that of things brought from the most
distant lands.
    If a man give all his wealth, it is nothing; if he do great
penance, it is little; if he gain all knowledge, he is still far
afield; if he have great virtue and much ardent devotion, he still
lacks a great deal, and especially, the one thing that is most
necessary to him. What is this one thing? That leaving all, he
forsake himself, completely renounce himself, and give up all
private affections. Then, when he has done all that he knows ought
to be done, let him consider it as nothing, let him make little of
what may be considered great; let him in all honesty call himself
an unprofitable servant. For truth itself has said: “When you
shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: ‘we
are unprofitable servants.'”[17]
    Then he will be truly poor and stripped in spirit, and with
the prophet may say: “I am alone and poor.”[18] No one, however,
is more wealthy than such a man; no one is more powerful, no one
freer than he who knows how to leave all things and think of
himself as the least of all.
—–
[17] Luke 17:10.
[18] Ps. 24:16.

                    The Twelfth Chapter

              The Royal Road of the Holy Cross

TO MANY the saying, “Deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow
Me,”[19] seems hard, but it will be much harder to hear that final
word: “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.”[20]
Those who hear the word of the cross and follow it willingly now,
need not fear that they will hear of eternal damnation on the day
of judgment. This sign of the cross will be in the heavens when
the Lord comes to judge. Then all the servants of the cross, who
during life made themselves one with the Crucified, will draw near
with great trust to Christ, the judge.
    Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross when through it
you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is
life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is
infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind,
in the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is highest virtue, in
the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor
hope of everlasting life but in the cross.
    Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Jesus, and you
shall enter eternal life. He Himself opened the way before you in
carrying His cross, and upon it He died for you, that you, too,
might take up your cross and long to die upon it. If you die with
Him, you shall also live with Him, and if you share His suffering,
you shall also share His glory.
    Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon your dying on
the cross everything depends. There is no other way to life and to
true inward peace than the way of the holy cross and daily
mortification. Go where you will, seek what you will, you will not
find a higher way, nor a less exalted but safer way, than the way
of the holy cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your will
and judgment, and still you will find that some suffering must
always be borne, willingly or unwillingly, and thus you will
always find the cross.
    Either you will experience bodily pain or you will undergo
tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken
by God, at times troubled by those about you and, what is worse,
you will often grow weary of yourself. You cannot escape, you
cannot be relieved by any remedy or comfort but must bear with it
as long as God wills. For He wishes you to learn to bear trial
without consolation, to submit yourself wholly to Him that you may
become more humble through suffering. No one understands the
passion of Christ so thoroughly or heartily as the man whose lot
it is to suffer the like himself.
    The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you
everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for
wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find
yourself. Turn where you will — above, below, without, or within
— you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must
have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal
crown.
    If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you
to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering,
but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a
burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have
to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another and
perhaps a heavier one. Do you expect to escape what no mortal man
can ever avoid? Which of the saints was without a cross or trial
on this earth? Not even Jesus Christ, our Lord, Whose every hour
on earth knew the pain of His passion. “It behooveth Christ to
suffer, and to rise again from the dead, . . . and so enter into
his glory.”[21] How is it that you look for another way than this,
the royal way of the holy cross?
    The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, and do
you seek rest and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself,
you are mistaken if you seek anything but to suffer, for this
mortal life is full of miseries and marked with crosses on all
sides. Indeed, the more spiritual progress a person makes, so much
heavier will he frequently find the cross, because as his love
increases, the pain of his exile also increases.
    Yet such a man, though afflicted in many ways, is not without
hope of consolation, because he knows that great reward is coming
to him for bearing his cross. And when he carries it willingly,
every pang of tribulation is changed into hope of solace from God.
Besides, the more the flesh is distressed by affliction, so much
the more is the spirit strengthened by inward grace. Not
infrequently a man is so strengthened by his love of trials and
hardship in his desire to conform to the cross of Christ, that he
does not wish to be without sorrow or pain, since he believes he
will be the more acceptable to God if he is able to endure more
and more grievous things for His sake.
    It is the grace of Christ, and not the virtue of man, which
can and does bring it about that through fervor of spirit frail
flesh learns to love and to gain what it naturally hates and
shuns.
    To carry the cross, to love the cross, to chastise the body
and bring it to subjection, to flee honors, to endure contempt
gladly, to despise self and wish to be despised, to suffer any
adversity and loss, to desire no prosperous days on earth — this
is not man’s way. If you rely upon yourself, you can do none of
these things, but if you trust in the Lord, strength will be given
you from heaven and the world and the flesh will be made subject
to your word. You will not even fear your enemy, the devil, if you
are armed with faith and signed with the cross of Christ.
    Set yourself, then, like a good and faithful servant of
Christ, to bear bravely the cross of your Lord, Who out of love
was crucified for you. Be ready to suffer many adversities and
many kinds of trouble in this miserable life, for troublesome and
miserable life will always be, no matter where you are; and so you
will find it wherever you may hide. Thus it must be; and there is
no way to evade the trials and sorrows of life but to bear them.
    Drink the chalice of the Lord with affection it you wish to
be His friend and to have part with Him. Leave consolation to God;
let Him do as most pleases Him. On your part, be ready to bear
sufferings and consider them the greatest consolation, for even
though you alone were to undergo them all, the sufferings of this
life are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.
    When you shall have come to the point where suffering is
sweet and acceptable for the sake of Christ, then consider
yourself fortunate, for you have found paradise on earth. But as
long as suffering irks you and you seek to escape, so long will
you be unfortunate, and the tribulation you seek to evade will
follow you everywhere. If you put your mind to the things you
ought to consider, that is, to suffering and death, you would soon
be in a better state and would find peace.
    Although you were taken to the third heaven with Paul, you
were not thereby insured against suffering. Jesus said: “I will
show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”[22]
To suffer, then, remains your lot, if you mean to love Jesus and
serve Him forever.
    If you were but worthy to suffer something for the name of
Jesus, what great glory would be in store for you, what great joy
to all the saints of God, what great edification to those about
you! For all men praise patience though there are few who wish to
practice it.
    With good reason, then, ought you to be willing to suffer a
little for Christ since many suffer much more for the world.
    Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more a man dies
to himself, the more he begins to live unto God.
    No man is fit to enjoy heaven unless he has resigned himself
to suffer hardship for Christ. Nothing is more acceptable to God,
nothing more helpful for you on this earth than to suffer
willingly for Christ. If you had to make a choice, you ought to
wish rather to suffer for Christ than to enjoy many consolations,
for thus you would be more like Christ and more like all the
saints. Our merit and progress consist not in many pleasures and
comforts but rather in enduring great afflictions and sufferings.
    If, indeed, there were anything better or more useful for
man’s salvation than suffering, Christ would have shown it by word
and example. But He clearly exhorts the disciples who follow Him
and all who wish to follow Him to carry the cross, saying: “If any
man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross daily, and follow Me.”[23]
    When, therefore, we have read and searched all that has been
written, let this be the final conclusion — that through much
suffering we must enter into the kingdom of God.
—–
[19] Matt. 16:24.
[20] Matt. 25:41.
[21] Luke 24:46, 26.
[22] Acts 9:16.
[23] Luke 9:23.

   

                          BOOK THREE

                    INTERNAL CONSOLATION

                      The First Chapter

    The Inward Conversation of Christ with the Faithful Soul

I WILL hear what the Lord God will speak in me.”[24]
    Blessed is the soul who hears the Lord speaking within her,
who receives the word of consolation from His lips. Blessed are
the ears that catch the accents of divine whispering, and pay no
heed to the murmurings of this world. Blessed indeed are the ears
that listen, not to the voice which sounds without, but to the
truth which teaches within. Blessed are the eyes which are closed
to exterior things and are fixed upon those which are interior.
Blessed are they who penetrate inwardly, who try daily to prepare
themselves more and more to understand mysteries. Blessed are they
who long to give their time to God, and who cut themselves off
from the hindrances of the world.
    Consider these things, my soul, and close the door of your
senses, so that you can hear what the Lord your God speaks within
you. “I am your salvation,” says your Beloved. “I am your peace
and your life. Remain with Me and you will find peace. Dismiss all
passing things and seek the eternal. What are all temporal things
but snares? And what help will all creatures be able to give you
if you are deserted by the Creator?” Leave all these things,
therefore, and make yourself pleasing and faithful to your Creator
so that you may attain to true happiness.
—–
[24] Ps. 84:9.

                    The Second Chapter

      Truth Speaks Inwardly Without the Sound of Words

                        The Disciple

SPEAK, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.”[25] “I am Thy servant. Give
me understanding that I may know Thine ordinances[26] . . .
Incline my heart to Thine ordinances[27] . . . Let Thy speech
distil as the dew.”[28]
    The children of Israel once said to Moses: “Speak thou to us
and we will hear thee: let not the Lord speak to us, lest we
die.”[29]

    Not so, Lord, not so do I pray. Rather with Samuel the
prophet I entreat humbly and earnestly: “Speak, Lord, for Thy
servant heareth.” Do not let Moses or any of the prophets speak to
me; but You speak, O Lord God, Who inspired and enlightened all
the prophets; for You alone, without them, can instruct me
perfectly, whereas they, without You, can do nothing. They,
indeed, utter fine words, but they cannot impart the spirit. They
do indeed speak beautifully, but if You remain silent they cannot
inflame the heart. They deliver the message; You lay bare the
sense. They place before us mysteries, but You unlock their
meaning. They proclaim commandments; You help us to keep them.
They point out the way; You give strength for the journey. They
work only outwardly; You instruct and enlighten our hearts. They
water on the outside; You give the increase.
    They cry out words; You give understanding to the hearer.
    Let not Moses speak to me, therefore, but You, the Lord my
God, everlasting truth, speak lest I die and prove barren if I am
merely given outward advice and am not inflamed within; lest the
word heard and not kept, known and not loved, believed and not
obeyed, rise up in judgment against me.
    Speak, therefore, Lord, for Your servant listens. “Thou hast
the words of eternal life.”[30] Speak to me for the comfort of my
soul and for the amendment of my life, for Your praise, Your
glory, and Your everlasting honor.
—–
[25] 1 Kings 3:9.
[26] Ps. 118:125.
[27] Ps. 118:36.
[28] Deut. 32:2.
[29] Exod. 20:19.
[30] John 6:69.

                      The Third Chapter

    Listen Humbly to the Words of God. Many Do Not Heed Them

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, hear My words, words of greatest sweetness surpassing
all the knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of earth. My
words are spirit and life, and they are not to be weighed by man’s
understanding. They are not to be invoked in vanity but are to be
heard in silence, and accepted with all humility and with great
affection.

                        The Disciple

    “Happy is the man whom Thou admonishest, O Lord, and teachest
out of Thy law, to give him peace from the days of evil,”[31] and
that he be not desolate on earth.

                    The Voice of Christ

    I taught the prophets from the beginning, and even to this
day I continue to speak to all men. But many are hardened. Many
are deaf to My voice. Most men listen more willingly to the world
than to God. They are more ready to follow the appetite of their
flesh than the good pleasure of God. The world, which promises
small and passing things, is served with great eagerness: I
promise great and eternal things and the hearts of men grow dull.
Who is there that serves and obeys Me in all things with as great
care as that with which the world and its masters are served?
    “Be thou ashamed, O Sidon, for the sea speaketh.”[32] And if
you ask why, listen to the cause: for a small gain they travel
far; for eternal life many will scarcely lift a foot from the
ground. They seek a petty reward, and sometimes fight shamefully
in law courts for a single piece of money. They are not afraid to
work day and night for a trifle or an empty promise. But, for an
unchanging good, for a reward beyond estimate, for the greatest
honor and for glory everlasting, it must be said to their shame
that men begrudge even the least fatigue. Be ashamed, then, lazy
and complaining servant, that they should be found more eager for
perdition than you are for life, that they rejoice more in vanity
than you in truth.
    Sometimes indeed their expectations fail them, but My promise
never deceives, nor does it send away empty-handed him who trusts
in Me. What I have promised I will give. What I have said I will
fulfill, if only a man remain faithful in My love to the end. I am
the rewarder of all the good, the strong approver of all who are
devoted to Me.
    Write My words in your heart and meditate on them earnestly,
for in time of temptation they will be very necessary. What you do
not understand when you read, you will learn in the day of
visitation. I am wont to visit My elect in two ways — by
temptation and by consolation. To them I read two lessons daily —
one reproving their vices, the other exhorting them to progress in
virtue. He who has My words and despises them has that which shall
condemn him on the last day.

              A Prayer for the Grace of Devotion

    O Lord my God, You are all my good. And who am I that I
should dare to speak to You? I am Your poorest and meanest
servant, a vile worm, much more poor and contemptible than I know
or dare to say. Yet remember me, Lord, because I am nothing, I
have nothing, and I can do nothing. You alone are good, just, and
holy. You can do all things, You give all things, You fill all
things: only the sinner do You leave empty-handed. Remember Your
tender mercies and fill my heart with Your grace, You Who will not
allow Your works to be in vain. How can I bear this life of misery
unless You comfort me with Your mercy and grace? Do not turn Your
face from me. Do not delay Your visitation. Do not withdraw Your
consolation, lest in Your sight my soul become as desert land.
Teach me, Lord, to do Your will. Teach me to live worthily and
humbly in Your sight, for You are my wisdom Who know me truly, and
Who knew me even before the world was made and before I was born
into it.
—–
[31] Ps. 93:12.
[32] Isa. 23:4.

                    The Fourth Chapter

        We Must Walk Before God in Humility and Truth

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, walk before Me in truth, and seek Me always in the
simplicity of your heart. He who walks before Me in truth shall be
defended from the attacks of evil, and the truth shall free him
from seducers and from the slanders of wicked men. For if the
truth has made you free, then you shall be free indeed, and you
shall not care for the vain words of men.

                        The Disciple

    O Lord, it is true. I ask that it be with me as You say. Let
your truth teach me. Let it guard me, and keep me safe to the end.
Let it free me from all evil affection and badly ordered love, and
I shall walk with You in great freedom of heart.

                    The Voice of Christ

    I shall teach you those things which are right and pleasing
to Me. Consider your sins with great displeasure and sorrow, and
never think yourself to be someone because of your good works. You
are truly a sinner. You are subject to many passions and entangled
in them. Of yourself you always tend to nothing. You fall quickly,
are quickly overcome, quickly troubled, and quickly undone. You
have nothing in which you can glory, but you have many things for
which you should think yourself vile, for you are much weaker than
you can comprehend. Hence, let none of the things you do seem
great to you. Let nothing seem important or precious or desirable
except that which is everlasting. Let the eternal truth please you
above all things, and let your extreme unworthiness always
displease you. Fear nothing, abhor nothing, and fly nothing as you
do your own vices and sins; these should be more unpleasant for
you than any material losses.
    Some men walk before Me without sincerity. Led on by a
certain curiosity and arrogance, they wish to know My secrets and
to understand the high things of God, to the neglect of themselves
and their own salvation. Through their own pride and curiosity,
and because I am against them, such men often fall into great
temptations and sins.
    Fear the judgments of God! Dread the wrath of the Almighty!
Do not discuss the works of the Most High, but examine your sins
— in what serious things you have offended and how many good
things you have neglected.
    Some carry their devotion only in books, some in pictures,
some in outward signs and figures. Some have Me on their lips when
there is little of Me in their hearts. Others, indeed, with
enlightened understanding and purified affections, constantly long
for everlasting things; they are unwilling to hear of earthly
affairs and only with reluctance do they serve the necessities of
nature. These sense what the Spirit of truth speaks within them:
for He teaches them to despise earthly things and to love those of
heaven, to neglect the world, and each day and night to desire
heaven.

                      The Fifth Chapter

              The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love

                        The Disciple

I BLESS You, O heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ,
for having condescended to remember me, a poor creature. Thanks to
You, O Father of mercies, God of all consolation, Who with Your
comfort sometimes refresh me, who am not worthy of it. I bless You
always and glorify You with Your only-begotten Son and the Holy
Spirit, the Paraclete, forever and ever.
    Ah, Lord God, my holy Lover, when You come into my heart, all
that is within me will rejoice. You are my glory and the
exultation of my heart. You are my hope and refuge in the day of
my tribulation. But because my love is as yet weak and my virtue
imperfect, I must be strengthened and comforted by You. Visit me
often, therefore, and teach me Your holy discipline. Free me from
evil passions and cleanse my heart of all disorderly affection so
that, healed and purified within, I may be fit to love, strong to
suffer, and firm to persevere.
    Love is an excellent thing, a very great blessing, indeed. It
makes every difficulty easy, and bears all wrongs with equanimity.
For it bears a burden without being weighted and renders sweet all
that is bitter. The noble love of Jesus spurs to great deeds and
excites longing for that which is more perfect. Love tends upward;
it will not be held down by anything low. Love wishes to be free
and estranged from all worldly affections, lest its inward sight
be obstructed, lest it be entangled in any temporal interest and
overcome by adversity.
    Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger or higher or
wider; nothing is more pleasant, nothing fuller, and nothing
better in heaven or on earth, for love is born of God and cannot
rest except in God, Who is above all created things.
    One who is in love flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free, not
bound. He gives all for all and possesses all in all, because he
rests in the one sovereign Good, Who is above all things, and from
Whom every good flows and proceeds. He does not look to the gift
but turns himself above all gifts to the Giver.
    Love often knows no limits but overflows all bounds. Love
feels no burden, thinks nothing of troubles, attempts more than it
is able, and does not plead impossibility, because it believes
that it may and can do all things. For this reason, it is able to
do all, performing and effecting much where he who does not love
fails and falls.
    Love is watchful. Sleeping, it does not slumber. Wearied, it
is not tired. Pressed, it is not straitened. Alarmed, it is not
confused, but like a living flame, a burning torch, it forces its
way upward and passes unharmed through every obstacle.
    If a man loves, he will know the sound of this voice. For
this warm affection of soul is a loud voice crying in the ears of
God, and it says: “My God, my love, You are all mine and I am all
Yours. Give me an increase of love, that I may learn to taste with
the inward lips of my heart how sweet it is to love, how sweet to
be dissolved in love and bathe in it. Let me be rapt in love. Let
me rise above self in great fervor and wonder. Let me sing the
hymn of love, and let me follow You, my Love, to the heights. Let
my soul exhaust itself in praising You, rejoicing out of love. Let
me love You more than myself, and let me not love myself except
for Your sake. In You let me love all those who truly love You, as
the law of love, which shines forth from You, commands.”
    Love is swift, sincere, kind, pleasant, and delightful. Love
is strong, patient and faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and
manly. Love is never self-seeking, for in whatever a person seeks
himself there he falls from love. Love is circumspect, humble, and
upright. It is neither soft nor light, nor intent upon vain
things. It is sober and chaste, firm and quiet, guarded in all the
senses. Love is subject and obedient to superiors. It is mean and
contemptible in its own eyes, devoted and thankful to God; always
trusting and hoping in Him even when He is distasteful to it, for
there is no living in love without sorrow. He who is not ready to
suffer all things and to stand resigned to the will of the Beloved
is not worthy to be called a lover. A lover must embrace willingly
all that is difficult and bitter for the sake of the Beloved, and
he should not turn away from Him because of adversities.

                      The Sixth Chapter

                The Proving of a True Lover

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, you are not yet a brave and wise lover.

                        The Disciple

    Why, Lord?

                    The Voice of Christ

    Because, on account of a slight difficulty you give up what
you have undertaken and are too eager to seek consolation.
    The brave lover stands firm in temptations and pays no heed
to the crafty persuasions of the enemy. As I please him in
prosperity, so in adversity I am not displeasing to him. The wise
lover regards not so much the gift of Him Who loves as the love of
Him Who gives. He regards the affection of the Giver rather than
the value of the gift, and sets his Beloved above all gifts. The
noble lover does not rest in the gift but in Me Who am above every
gift.
    All is not lost, then, if you sometimes feel less devout than
you wish toward Me or My saints. That good and sweet feeling which
you sometimes have is the effect of present grace and a certain
foretaste of your heavenly home. You must not lean upon it too
much, because it comes and goes. But to fight against evil
thoughts which attack you is a sign of virtue and great merit. Do
not, therefore, let strange fantasies disturb you, no matter what
they concern. Hold strongly to your resolution and keep a right
intention toward God.
    It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy
and then quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart. For
these are evils which you suffer rather than commit; and so long
as they displease you and you struggle against them, it is a
matter of merit and not a loss.
    You must know that the old enemy tries by all means in his
power to hinder your desire for good and to turn you from every
devotional practice, especially from the veneration of the saints,
from devout meditation on My passion, and from your firm purpose
of advancing in virtue. He suggests many evil thoughts that he may
cause you weariness and horror, and thus draw you away from prayer
and holy reading. A humble confession displeases him and, if he
could, he would make you omit Holy Communion.
    Do not believe him or heed him, even though he often sets
traps to deceive you. When he suggests evil, unclean things,
accuse him. Say to him: “Away, unclean spirit! Shame, miserable
creature! You are but filth to bring such things to my ears.
Begone, most wretched seducer! You shall have no part in me, for
Jesus will be my strength, and you shall be confounded. I would
rather die and suffer all torments than consent to you. Be still!
Be silent! Though you bring many troubles upon me I will have none
of you. The Lord is my light, my salvation. Whom shall I fear?
Though armies unite against me, my heart will not fear, for the
Lord is my Helper, my Redeemer.”
    Fight like a good soldier and if you sometimes fall through
weakness, rise again with greater strength than before, trusting
in My most abundant grace. But beware of vain complacency and
pride. For many are led into error through these faults and
sometimes fall into almost perpetual blindness. Let the fall of
these, who proudly presume on self, be a warning to you and a
constant incentive to humility.

                    The Seventh Chapter

    Grace Must Be Hidden Under the Mantle of Humility

                    The Voice of Christ

IT IS better and safer for you to conceal the grace of devotion,
not to be elated by it, not to speak or think much of it, and
instead to humble yourself and fear lest it is being given to one
unworthy of it. Do not cling too closely to this affection, for it
may quickly be changed to its opposite. When you are in grace,
think how miserable and needy you are without it. Your progress in
spiritual life does not consist in having the grace of
consolation, but in enduring its withdrawal with humility,
resignation, and patience, so that you neither become listless in
prayer nor neglect your other duties in the least; but on the
contrary do what you can do as well as you know how, and do not
neglect yourself completely because of your dryness or anxiety of
mind.
    There are many, indeed, who immediately become impatient and
lazy when things do not go well with them. The way of man,
however, does not always lie in his own power. It is God’s
prerogative to give grace and to console when He wishes, as much
as He wishes, and whom He wishes, as it shall please Him and no
more.
    Some careless persons, misusing the grace of devotion, have
destroyed themselves because they wished to do more than they were
able. They failed to take account of their own weakness, and
followed the desire of their heart rather than the judgment of
their reason. Then, because they presumed to greater things than
pleased God they quickly lost His grace. They who had built their
homes in heaven became helpless, vile outcasts, humbled and
impoverished, that they might learn not to fly with their own
wings but to trust in Mine.
    They who are still new and inexperienced in the way of the
Lord may easily be deceived and overthrown unless they guide
themselves by the advice of discreet persons. But if they wish to
follow their own notions rather than to trust in others who are
more experienced, they will be in danger of a sorry end, at least
if they are unwilling to be drawn from their vanity. Seldom do
they who are wise in their own conceits bear humbly the guidance
of others. Yet a little knowledge humbly and meekly pursued is
better than great treasures of learning sought in vain
complacency. It is better for you to have little than to have much
which may become the source of pride.
    He who gives himself up entirely to enjoyment acts very
unwisely, for he forgets his former helplessness and that
chastened fear of the Lord which dreads to lose a proffered grace.
Nor is he very brave or wise who becomes too despondent in times
of adversity and difficulty and thinks less confidently of Me than
he should. He who wishes to be too secure in time of peace will
often become too dejected and fearful in time of trial.
    If you were wise enough to remain always humble and small in
your own eyes, and to restrain and rule your spirit well, you
would not fall so quickly into danger and offense.
    When a spirit of fervor is enkindled within you, you may well
meditate on how you will feel when the fervor leaves. Then, when
this happens, remember that the light which I have withdrawn for a
time as a warning to you and for My own glory may again return.
Such trials are often more beneficial than if you had things
always as you wish. For a man’s merits are not measured by many
visions or consolations, or by knowledge of the Scriptures, or by
his being in a higher position than others, but by the truth of
his humility, by his capacity for divine charity, by his constancy
in seeking purely and entirely the honor of God, by his disregard
and positive contempt of self, and more, by preferring to be
despised and humiliated rather than honored by others.

                    The Eighth Chapter

              Self-Abasement in the Sight of God

                        The Disciple

I WILL speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. If I
consider myself anything more than this, behold You stand against
me, and my sins bear witness to the truth which I cannot
contradict. If I abase myself, however, if I humble myself to
nothingness, if I shrink from all self-esteem and account myself
as the dust which I am, Your grace will favor me, Your light will
enshroud my heart, and all self-esteem, no matter how little, will
sink in the depths of my nothingness to perish forever.
    It is there You show me to myself — what I am, what I have
been, and what I am coming to; for I am nothing and I did not know
it. Left to myself, I am nothing but total weakness. But if You
look upon me for an instant, I am at once made strong and filled
with new joy. Great wonder it is that I, who of my own weight
always sink to the depths, am so suddenly lifted up, and so
graciously embraced by You.
    It is Your love that does this, graciously upholding me,
supporting me in so many necessities, guarding me from so many
grave dangers, and snatching me, as I may truly say, from evils
without number. Indeed, by loving myself badly I lost myself; by
seeking only You and by truly loving You I have found both myself
and You, and by that love I have reduced myself more profoundly to
nothing. For You, O sweetest Lord, deal with me above all my
merits and above all that I dare to hope or ask.
    May You be blessed, my God, for although I am unworthy of any
benefits, yet Your nobility and infinite goodness never cease to
do good even for those who are ungrateful and far from You.
Convert us to You, that we may be thankful, humble, and devout,
for You are our salvation, our courage, and our strength.

                      The Ninth Chapter

    All Things should be Referred to God as their Last End

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, I must be your supreme and last end, if you truly desire
to be blessed. With this intention your affections, which are too
often perversely inclined to self and to creatures, will be
purified. For if you seek yourself in anything, you immediately
fail interiorly and become dry of heart.
    Refer all things principally to Me, therefore, for it is I
Who have given them all. Consider each thing as flowing from the
highest good, and therefore to Me, as to their highest source,
must all things be brought back.
    From Me the small and the great, the poor and the rich draw
the water of life as from a living fountain, and they who serve Me
willingly and freely shall receive grace upon grace. He who wishes
to glory in things apart from Me, however, or to delight in some
good as his own, shall not be grounded in true joy or gladdened in
his heart, but shall be burdened and distressed in many ways.
Hence you ought not to attribute any good to yourself or ascribe
virtue to any man, but give all to God without Whom man has
nothing.
    I have given all things. I will that all be returned to Me
again, and I exact most strictly a return of thanks. This is the
truth by which vainglory is put to flight.
    Where heavenly grace and true charity enter in, there neither
envy nor narrowness of heart nor self-love will have place. Divine
love conquers all and enlarges the powers of the soul.
    If you are truly wise, you will rejoice only in Me, because
no one is good except God alone, Who is to be praised above all
things and above all to be blessed.

                      The Tenth Chapter

        To Despise the World and Serve God is Sweet

                        The Disciple

NOW again I will speak, Lord, and will not be silent. I will speak
to the hearing of my God, my Lord, and my King Who is in heaven.
How great, O Lord, is the multitude of Your mercies which You have
stored up for those who love You. But what are You to those who
love You? What are You to those who serve You with their whole
heart?
    Truly beyond the power of words is the sweetness of
contemplation You give to those who love You. To me You have shown
the sweetness of Your charity, especially in having made me when I
did not exist, in having brought me back to serve You when I had
gone far astray from You, in having commanded me to love You.
    O Fountain of unceasing love, what shall I say of You? How
can I forget You, Who have been pleased to remember me even after
I had wasted away and perished? You have shown mercy to Your
servant beyond all hope, and have exhibited grace and friendship
beyond his deserving.
    What return shall I make to You for this grace? For it is not
given every man to forsake all things, to renounce the world, and
undertake the religious life. Is it anything great that I should
serve You Whom every creature is bound to serve? It should not
seem much to me; instead it should appear great and wonderful that
You condescend to receive into Your service one who is so poor and
unworthy. Behold, all things are Yours, even those which I have
and by which I serve You. Behold, heaven and earth which You
created for the service of man, stand ready, and each day they do
whatever You command. But even this is little, for You have
appointed angels also to minister to man — yea more than all this
— You Yourself have condescended to serve man and have promised
to give him Yourself.
    What return shall I make for all these thousands of benefits?
Would that I could serve You all the days of my life! Would that
for but one day I could serve You worthily! Truly You are worthy
of all service, all honor, and everlasting praise. Truly You are
my Lord, and I am Your poor servant, bound to serve You with all
my powers, praising You without ever becoming weary. I wish to do
this — this is my desire. Do You supply whatever is wanting in
me.
    It is a great honor, a great glory to serve You and to
despise all things for Your sake. They who give themselves gladly
to Your most holy service will possess great grace. They who cast
aside all carnal delights for Your love will find the most sweet
consolation of the Holy Ghost. They who enter upon the narrow way
for Your name and cast aside all worldly care will attain great
freedom of mind.
    O sweet and joyful service of God, which makes man truly free
and holy! O sacred state of religious bondage which makes man
equal to the angels, pleasing to God, terrible to the demons, and
worthy of the commendation of all the faithful! O service to be
embraced and always desired, in which the highest good is offered
and joy is won which shall remain forever!

                    The Eleventh Chapter

  The Longings of our Hearts Must Be Examined And Moderated

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, it is necessary for you to learn many things which you
have not yet learned well.

                        The Disciple

    What are they, Lord?

                    The Voice of Christ

    That you conform your desires entirely according to My good
pleasure, and be not a lover of self but an earnest doer of My
will. Desires very often inflame you and drive you madly on, but
consider whether you act for My honor, or for your own advantage.
If I am the cause, you will be well content with whatever I
ordain. If, on the other hand, any self-seeking lurk in you, it
troubles you and weighs you down. Take care, then, that you do not
rely too much on preconceived desire that has no reference to Me,
lest you repent later on and be displeased with what at first
pleased you and which you desired as being for the best. Not every
desire which seems good should be followed immediately, nor, on
the other hand, should every contrary affection be at once
rejected.
    It is sometimes well to use a little restraint even in good
desires and inclinations, lest through too much eagerness you
bring upon yourself distraction of mind; lest through your lack of
discipline you create scandal for others; or lest you be suddenly
upset and fall because of resistance from others. Sometimes,
however, you must use violence and resist your sensual appetite
bravely. You must pay no attention to what the flesh does or does
not desire, taking pains that it be subjected, even by force, to
the spirit. And it should be chastised and forced to remain in
subjection until it is prepared for anything and is taught to be
satisfied with little, to take pleasure in simple things, and not
to murmur against inconveniences.

                    The Twelfth Chapter

    Acquiring Patience in the Fight Against Concupiscence

                        The Disciple

PATIENCE, O Lord God, is very necessary for me, I see, because
there are many adversities in this life. No matter what plans I
make for my own peace, my life cannot be free from struggle and
sorrow.

                    The Voice of Christ

    My child, you are right, yet My wish is not that you seek
that peace which is free from temptations or meets with no
opposition, but rather that you consider yourself as having found
peace when you have been tormented with many tribulations and
tried with many adversities.
    If you say that you cannot suffer much, how will you endure
the fire of purgatory? Of two evils, the lesser is always to be
chosen. Therefore, in order that you may escape the everlasting
punishments to come, try to bear present evils patiently for the
sake of God.
    Do you think that men of the world have no suffering, or
perhaps but little? Ask even those who enjoy the most delights and
you will learn otherwise. “But,” you will say, “they enjoy many
pleasures and follow their own wishes; therefore they do not feel
their troubles very much.” Granted that they do have whatever they
wish, how long do you think it will last? Behold, they who prosper
in the world shall perish as smoke, and there shall be no memory
of their past joys. Even in this life they do not find rest in
these pleasures without bitterness, weariness, and fear. For they
often receive the penalty of sorrow from the very thing whence
they believe their happiness comes. And it is just. Since they
seek and follow after pleasures without reason, they should not
enjoy them without shame and bitterness.
    How brief, how false, how unreasonable and shameful all these
pleasures are! Yet in their drunken blindness men do not
understand this, but like brute beasts incur death of soul for the
miserly enjoyment of a corruptible life.
    Therefore, My child, do not pursue your lusts, but turn away
from your own will. “Seek thy pleasure in the Lord and He will
give thee thy heart’s desires.”[33] If you wish to be truly
delighted and more abundantly comforted by Me, behold, in contempt
of all worldly things and in the cutting off of all base pleasures
shall your blessing be, and great consolation shall be given you.
Further, the more you withdraw yourself from any solace of
creatures, the sweeter and stronger comfort will you find in Me.
    At first you will not gain these blessings without sadness
and toil and conflict. Habit already formed will resist you, but
it shall be overcome by a better habit. The flesh will murmur
against you, but it will be bridled by fervor of spirit. The old
serpent will sting and trouble you, but prayer will put him to
flight and by steadfast, useful toil the way will be closed to
him.
—–
[33] Ps. 36:4.

                  The Thirteenth Chapter

The Obedience of One Humbly Subject to the Example of Jesus Christ

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, he who attempts to escape obeying withdraws himself from
grace. Likewise he who seeks private benefits for himself loses
those which are common to all. He who does not submit himself
freely and willingly to his superior, shows that his flesh is not
yet perfectly obedient but that it often rebels and murmurs
against him.
    Learn quickly, then, to submit yourself to your superior if
you wish to conquer your own flesh. For the exterior enemy is more
quickly overcome if the inner man is not laid waste. There is no
more troublesome, no worse enemy of the soul than you yourself, if
you are not in harmony with the spirit. It is absolutely necessary
that you conceive a true contempt for yourself if you wish to be
victorious over flesh and blood.
    Because you still love yourself too inordinately, you are
afraid to resign yourself wholly to the will of others. Is it such
a great matter if you, who are but dust and nothingness, subject
yourself to man for the sake of God, when I, the All-Powerful, the
Most High, Who created all things out of nothing, humbly subjected
Myself to man for your sake? I became the most humble and the
lowest of all men that you might overcome your pride with My
humility.
    Learn to obey, you who are but dust! Learn to humble
yourself, you who are but earth and clay, and bow down under the
foot of every man! Learn to break your own will, to submit to all
subjection! Be zealous against yourself! Allow no pride to dwell
in you, but prove yourself so humble and lowly that all may walk
over you and trample upon you as dust in the streets!
    What have you, vain man, to complain of? What answer can you
make, vile sinner, to those who accuse you, you who have so often
offended God and so many times deserved hell? But My eye has
spared you because your soul was precious in My sight, so that you
might know My love and always be thankful for My benefits, so that
you might give yourself continually to true subjection and
humility, and might patiently endure contempt.

                    The Fourteenth Chapter

            Consider the Hidden Judgments of God
        Lest You Become Proud of Your Own Good Deeds

                        The Disciple

YOU thunder forth Your judgments over me, Lord. You shake all my
bones with fear and trembling, and my soul is very much afraid. I
stand in awe as I consider that the heavens are not pure in Your
sight. If You found wickedness in the angels and did not spare
them, what will become of me? Stars have fallen from heaven, and I
— I who am but dust — how can I be presumptuous? They whose
deeds seemed worthy of praise have fallen into the depths, and I
have seen those who ate the bread of angels delighting themselves
with the husks of swine.
    There is no holiness, then, if You withdraw Your hand, Lord.
There is no wisdom if You cease to guide, no courage if You cease
to defend. No chastity is secure if You do not guard it. Our
vigilance avails nothing if Your holy watchfulness does not
protect us. Left to ourselves we sink and perish, but visited by
You we are lifted up and live. We are truly unstable, but You make
us strong. We grow lukewarm, but You inflame us. Oh, how humbly
and lowly should I consider myself! How very little should I
esteem anything that seems good in me! How profoundly should I
submit to Your unfathomable judgments, Lord, where I find myself
to be but nothing!
    O immeasurable weight! O impassable sea, where I find myself
to be nothing but bare nothingness! Where, then, is glory’s hiding
place? Where can there be any trust in my own virtue? All
vainglory is swallowed up in the depths of Your judgments upon me.
    What is all flesh in Your sight? Shall the clay glory against
Him that formed it? How can he whose heart is truly subject to God
be lifted up by vainglory? The whole world will not make him proud
whom truth has subjected to itself. Nor shall he who has placed
all his hope in God be moved by the tongues of flatterers. For
behold, even they who speak are nothing; they will pass away with
the sound of their words, but the truth of the Lord remains
forever.

                    The Fifteenth Chapter

    How One Should Feel and Speak on Every Desirable Thing

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, this is the way you must speak on every occasion: “Lord,
if it be pleasing to You, so be it. If it be to Your honor, Lord,
be it done in Your name. Lord, if You see that it is expedient and
profitable for me, then grant that I may use it to Your honor. But
if You know that it will be harmful to me, and of no good benefit
to the welfare of my soul, then take this desire away from me.”
    Not every desire is from the Holy Spirit, even though it may
seem right and good. It is difficult to be certain whether it is a
good spirit or a bad one that prompts one to this or that, and
even to know whether you are being moved by your own spirit. Many
who seemed at first to be led by a good spirit have been deceived
in the end.
    Whatever the mind sees as good, ask and desire in fear of God
and humility of heart. Above all, commit the whole matter to Me
with true resignation, and say: “Lord, You know what is better for
me; let this be done or that be done as You please. Grant what You
will, as much as You will, when You will. Do with me as You know
best, as will most please You, and will be for Your greater honor.
Place me where You will and deal with me freely in all things. I
am in Your hand; turn me about whichever way You will. Behold, I
am Your servant, ready to obey in all things. Not for myself do I
desire to live, but for You — would that I could do this worthily
and perfectly!”

            A Prayer that the Will of God Be Done

    Grant me Your grace, O most merciful Jesus, that it may be
with me, and work with me, and remain with me to the very end.
Grant that I may always desire and will that which is most
acceptable and pleasing to You. Let Your will be mine. Let my will
always follow Yours and agree perfectly with it. Let my will be
one with Yours in willing and in not willing, and let me be unable
to will or not will anything but what You will or do not will.
Grant that I may die to all things in this world, and for Your
sake love to be despised and unknown in this life. Give me above
all desires the desire to rest in You, and in You let my heart
have peace. You are true peace of heart. You alone are its rest.
Without You all things are difficult and troubled. In this peace,
the selfsame that is in You, the Most High, the everlasting Good,
I will sleep and take my rest. Amen.

                    The Sixteenth Chapter

          True Comfort Is to Be Sought in God Alone

                        The Disciple

WHATEVER I can desire or imagine for my own comfort I look for not
here but hereafter. For if I alone should have all the world’s
comforts and could enjoy all its delights, it is certain that they
could not long endure. Therefore, my soul, you cannot enjoy full
consolation or perfect delight except in God, the Consoler of the
poor and the Helper of the humble. Wait a little, my soul, wait
for the divine promise and you will have an abundance of all good
things in heaven. If you desire these present things too much, you
will lose those which are everlasting and heavenly. Use temporal
things but desire eternal things. You cannot be satisfied with any
temporal goods because you were not created to enjoy them.
    Even if you possessed all created things you could not be
happy and blessed; for in God, Who created all these things, your
whole blessedness and happiness consists — not indeed such
happiness as is seen and praised by lovers of the world, but such
as that for which the good and faithful servants of Christ wait,
and of which the spiritual and pure of heart, whose conversation
is in heaven, sometime have a foretaste.
    Vain and brief is all human consolation. But that which is
received inwardly from the Truth is blessed and true. The devout
man carries his Consoler, Jesus, everywhere with him, and he says
to Him: “Be with me, Lord Jesus, in every place and at all times.
Let this be my consolation, to be willing to forego all human
comforting. And if Your consolation be wanting to me, let Your
will and just trial of me be my greatest comfort. For You will not
always be angry, nor will You threaten forever.”

                  The Seventeenth Chapter

            All Our Care is to Be Placed in God

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, allow me to do what I will with you. I know what is best
for you. You think as a man; you feel in many things as human
affection persuades.

                        The Disciple

    Lord, what You say is true. Your care for me is greater than
all the care I can take of myself. For he who does not cast all
his care upon You stands very unsafely. If only my will remain
right and firm toward You, Lord, do with me whatever pleases You.
For whatever You shall do with me can only be good.
    If You wish me to be in darkness, I shall bless You. And if
You wish me to be in light, again I shall bless You. If You stoop
down to comfort me, I shall bless You, and if You wish me to be
afflicted, I shall bless You forever.

                    The Voice of Christ

    My child, this is the disposition which you should have if
you wish to walk with Me. You should be as ready to suffer as to
enjoy. You should as willingly be destitute and poor as rich and
satisfied.

                        The Disciple

    O Lord, I shall suffer willingly for Your sake whatever You
wish to send me. I am ready to accept from Your hand both good and
evil alike, the sweet and the bitter together, sorrow with joy;
and for all that happens to me I am grateful. Keep me from all sin
and I will fear neither death nor hell. Do not cast me out forever
nor blot me out of the Book of Life, and whatever tribulation
befalls will not harm me.

                  The Eighteenth Chapter

        Temporal Sufferings Should Be Borne Patiently,
                After the Example of Christ

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, I came down from heaven for your salvation and took upon
Myself your miseries, not out of necessity but out of love, that
you might learn to be patient and bear the sufferings of this life
without repining. From the moment of My birth to My death on the
cross, suffering did not leave Me. I suffered great want of
temporal goods. Often I heard many complaints against Me. Disgrace
and reviling I bore with patience. For My blessings I received
ingratitude, for My miracles blasphemies, and for My teaching
scorn.

                        The Disciple

    O Lord, because You were patient in life, especially in
fulfilling the design of the Father, it is fitting that I, a most
miserable sinner, should live patiently according to Your will,
and, as long as You shall wish, bear the burden of this
corruptible body for the welfare of my soul. For though this
present life seems burdensome, yet by Your grace it becomes
meritorious, and it is made brighter and more endurable for the
weak by Your example and the pathways of the saints. But it has
also more consolation than formerly under the old law when the
gates of heaven were closed, when the way thereto seemed darker
than now, and when so few cared to seek the eternal kingdom. The
just, the elect, could not enter heaven before Your sufferings and
sacred death had paid the debt.
    Oh, what great thanks I owe You, Who have shown me and all
the faithful the good and right way to Your everlasting kingdom!
Your life is our way and in Your holy patience we come nearer to
You Who are our crown. Had You not gone before and taught us, who
would have cared to follow? Alas, how many would have remained far
behind, had they not before their eyes Your holy example! Behold,
even we who have heard of Your many miracles and teachings are
still lukewarm; what would happen if we did not have such light by
which to follow You?

                  The Nineteenth Chapter

                  True Patience in Suffering

                    The Voice of Christ

WHAT are you saying, My child? Think of My suffering and that of
the saints, and cease complaining. You have not yet resisted to
the shedding of blood. What you suffer is very little compared
with the great things they suffered who were so strongly tempted,
so severely troubled, so tried and tormented in many ways. Well
may you remember, therefore, the very painful woes of others, that
you may bear your own little ones the more easily. And if they do
not seem so small to you, examine if perhaps your impatience is
not the cause of their apparent greatness; and whether they are
great or small, try to bear them all patiently. The better you
dispose yourself to suffer, the more wisely you act and the
greater is the reward promised you. Thus you will suffer more
easily if your mind and habits are diligently trained to it.
    Do not say: “I cannot bear this from such a man, nor should I
suffer things of this kind, for he has done me a great wrong. He
has accused me of many things of which I never thought. However,
from someone else I will gladly suffer as much as I think I
should.”
    Such a thought is foolish, for it does not consider the
virtue of patience or the One Who will reward it, but rather
weighs the person and the offense committed. The man who will
suffer only as much as seems good to him, who will accept
suffering only from those from whom he is pleased to accept it, is
not truly patient. For the truly patient man does not consider
from whom the suffering comes, whether from a superior, an equal,
or an inferior, whether from a good and holy person or from a
perverse and unworthy one; but no matter how great an adversity
befalls him, no matter how often it comes or from whom it comes,
he accepts it gratefully from the hand of God, and counts it a
great gain. For with God nothing that is suffered for His sake, no
matter how small, can pass without reward. Be prepared for the
fight, then, if you wish to gain the victory. Without struggle you
cannot obtain the crown of patience, and if you refuse to suffer
you are refusing the crown. But if you desire to be crowned, fight
bravely and bear up patiently. Without labor there is no rest, and
without fighting, no victory.

                        The Disciple

    O Lord, let that which seems naturally impossible to me
become possible through Your grace. You know that I can suffer
very little, and that I am quickly discouraged when any small
adversity arises. Let the torment of tribulation suffered for Your
name be pleasant and desirable to me, since to suffer and be
troubled for Your sake is very beneficial for my soul.

                    The Twentieth Chapter

        Confessing Our Weakness in the Miseries of Life

                        The Disciple

I WILL bring witness against myself to my injustice, and to You, O
Lord, I will confess my weakness.
    Often it is a small thing that makes me downcast and sad. I
propose to act bravely, but when even a small temptation comes I
find myself in great straits. Sometimes it is the merest trifle
which gives rise to grievous temptations. When I think myself
somewhat safe and when I am not expecting it, I frequently find
myself almost overcome by a slight wind. Look, therefore, Lord, at
my lowliness and frailty which You know so well. Have mercy on me
and snatch me out of the mire that I may not be caught in it and
may not remain forever utterly despondent.
    That I am so prone to fall and so weak in resisting my
passions oppresses me frequently and confounds me in Your sight.
While I do not fully consent to them, still their assault is very
troublesome and grievous to me, and it wearies me exceedingly thus
to live in daily strife. Yet from the fact that abominable fancies
rush in upon me much more easily than they leave, my weakness
becomes clear to me.
    Oh that You, most mighty God of Israel, zealous Lover of
faithful souls, would consider the labor and sorrow of Your
servant, and assist him in all his undertakings! Strengthen me
with heavenly courage lest the outer man, the miserable flesh,
against which I shall be obliged to fight so long as I draw a
breath in this wretched life and which is not yet subjected to the
spirit, prevail and dominate me.
    Alas! What sort of life is this, from which troubles and
miseries are never absent, where all things are full of snares and
enemies? For when one trouble or temptation leaves, another comes.
Indeed, even while the first conflict is still raging, many others
begin unexpectedly. How is it possible to love a life that has
such great bitterness, that is subject to so many calamities and
miseries? Indeed, how can it even be called life when it begets so
many deaths and plagues? And yet, it is loved, and many seek their
delight in it.
    Many persons often blame the world for being false and vain,
yet do not readily give it up because the desires of the flesh
have such great power. Some things draw them to love the world,
others make them despise it. The lust of the flesh, the desire of
the eyes, and the pride of life lead to love, while the pains and
miseries, which are the just consequences of those things, beget
hatred and weariness of the world.
    Vicious pleasure overcomes the soul that is given to the
world. She thinks that there are delights beneath these thorns,
because she has never seen or tasted the sweetness of God or the
internal delight of virtue. They, on the other hand, who entirely
despise the world and seek to live for God under the rule of holy
discipline, are not ignorant of the divine sweetness promised to
those who truly renounce the world. They see clearly how gravely
the world errs, and in how many ways it deceives.

                  The Twenty-first Chapter

      Above All Goods and All Gifts We Must Rest in God

                        The Disciple

ABOVE all things and in all things, O my soul, rest always in God,
for He is the everlasting rest of the saints.
    Grant, most sweet and loving Jesus, that I may seek my repose
in You above every creature; above all health and beauty; above
every honor and glory; every power and dignity; above all
knowledge and cleverness, all riches and arts, all joy and
gladness; above all fame and praise, all sweetness and
consolation; above every hope and promise, every merit and desire;
above all the gifts and favors that You can give or pour down upon
me; above all the joy and exultation that the mind can receive and
feel; and finally, above the angels and archangels and all the
heavenly host; above all things visible and invisible; and may I
seek my repose in You above everything that is not You, my God.
    For You, O Lord my God, are above all things the best. You
alone are most high, You alone most powerful. You alone are most
sufficient and most satisfying, You alone most sweet and
consoling. You alone are most beautiful and loving, You alone most
noble and glorious above all things. In You is every perfection
that has been or ever will be. Therefore, whatever You give me
besides Yourself, whatever You reveal to me concerning Yourself,
and whatever You promise, is too small and insufficient when I do
not see and fully enjoy You alone. For my heart cannot rest or be
fully content until, rising above all gifts and every created
thing, it rests in You.
    Who, O most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most pure Lover,
Lord of all creation, who shall give me the wings of true liberty
that I may fly to rest in You? When shall freedom be fully given
me to see how sweet You are, O Lord, my God? When shall I
recollect myself entirely in You, so that because of Your love I
may feel, not myself, but You alone above all sense and measure,
in a manner known to none? But now I often lament and grieve over
my unhappiness, for many evils befall me in this vale of miseries,
often disturbing me, making me sad and overshadowing me, often
hindering and distracting me, alluring and entangling me so that I
neither have free access to You nor enjoy the sweet embraces which
are ever ready for blessed souls. Let my sighs and the manifold
desolation here on earth move You.
    O Jesus, Splendor of eternal glory, Consolation of the
pilgrim soul, with You my lips utter no sound and to You my
silence speaks. How long will my Lord delay His coming? Let Him
come to His poor servant and make him happy. Let Him put forth His
hand and take this miserable creature from his anguish. Come, O
come, for without You there will be no happy day or hour, because
You are my happiness and without You my table is empty. I am
wretched, as it were imprisoned and weighted down with fetters,
until You fill me with the light of Your presence, restore me to
liberty, and show me a friendly countenance. Let others seek
instead of You whatever they will, but nothing pleases me or will
please me but You, my God, my Hope, my everlasting Salvation. I
will not be silent, I will not cease praying until Your grace
returns to me and You speak inwardly to me, saying: “Behold, I am
here. Lo, I have come to you because you have called Me. Your
tears and the desire of your soul, your humility and contrition of
heart have inclined Me and brought Me to you.”
    Lord, I have called You, and have desired You, and have been
ready to spurn all things for Your sake. For You first spurred me
on to seek You. May You be blessed, therefore, O Lord, for having
shown this goodness to Your servant according to the multitude of
Your mercies.
    What more is there for Your servant to say to You unless,
with his iniquity and vileness always in mind, he humbles himself
before You? Nothing among all the wonders of heaven and earth is
like to You. Your works are exceedingly good, Your judgments true,
and Your providence rules the whole universe. May You be praised
and glorified, therefore, O Wisdom of the Father. Let my lips and
my soul and all created things unite to praise and bless You.

                  The Twenty-Second Chapter

            Remember the Innumerable Gifts of God

                        The Disciple

OPEN my heart, O Lord, to Your law and teach me to walk in the way
of Your commandments. Let me understand Your will. Let me remember
Your blessings — all of them and each single one of them — with
great reverence and care so that henceforth I may return worthy
thanks for them. I know that I am unable to give due thanks for
even the least of Your gifts. I am unworthy of the benefits You
have given me, and when I consider Your generosity my spirit
faints away before its greatness. All that we have of soul and
body, whatever we possess interiorly or exteriorly, by nature or
by grace, are Your gifts and they proclaim Your goodness and mercy
from which we have received all good things.
    If one receives more and another less, yet all are Yours and
without You nothing can be received. He who receives greater
things cannot glory in his own merit or consider himself above
others or behave insolently toward those who receive less. He who
attributes less to himself and is the more humble and devout in
returning thanks is indeed the greater and the better, while he
who considers himself lower than all men and judges himself to be
the least worthy, is the more fit to receive the greater blessing.
    He, on the other hand, who has received fewer gifts should
not be sad or impatient or envious of the richer man. Instead he
should turn his mind to You and offer You the greatest praise
because You give so bountifully, so freely and willingly, without
regard to persons. All things come from You; therefore, You are to
be praised in all things. You know what is good for each of us;
and why one should receive less and another more is not for us to
judge, but for You Who have marked every man’s merits.
    Therefore, O Lord God, I consider it a great blessing not to
have many things which human judgment holds praiseworthy and
glorious, for one who realizes his own poverty and vileness should
not be sad or downcast at it, but rather consoled and happy
because You, O God, have chosen the poor, the humble, and the
despised in this world to be Your friends and servants. The truth
of this is witnessed by Your Apostles, whom You made princes over
all the world. Yet they lived in this world without complaining,
so humble and simple, so free from malice and deceit, that they
were happy even to suffer reproach for Your name and to embrace
with great affection that which the world abhors.
    A man who loves You and recognizes Your benefits, therefore,
should be gladdened by nothing so much as by Your will, by the
good pleasure of Your eternal decree. With this he should be so
contented and consoled that he would wish to be the least as
others wish to be the greatest; that he would be as peaceful and
satisfied in the last place as in the first, and as willing to be
despised, unknown and forgotten, as to be honored by others and to
have more fame than they. He should prefer Your will and the love
of Your honor to all else, and it should comfort him more than all
the benefits which have been, or will be, given him.

                  The Twenty-Third Chapter

            Four Things Which Bring Great Peace

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, I will teach you now the way of peace and true liberty.
Seek, child, to do the will of others rather than your own. Always
choose to have less rather than more. Look always for the last
place and seek to be beneath all others. Always wish and pray that
the will of God be fully carried out in you. Behold, such will
enter into the realm of peace and rest.

                        The Disciple

    O Lord, this brief discourse of Yours contains much
perfection. It is short in words but full of meaning and abounding
in fruit. Certainly if I could only keep it faithfully, I should
not be so easily disturbed. For as often as I find myself troubled
and dejected, I find that I have departed from this teaching. But
You Who can do all things, and Who always love what is for my
soul’s welfare, give me increase of grace that I may keep Your
words and accomplish my salvation.

                A Prayer Against Bad Thoughts

    O Lord my God, be not far from me. O my God, hasten to help
me, for varied thoughts and great fears have risen up within me,
afflicting my soul. How shall I escape them unharmed? How shall I
dispel them?
    “I will go before you,” says the Lord, “and will humble the
great ones of earth. I will open the doors of the prison, and will
reveal to you hidden secrets.”
    Do as You say, Lord, and let all evil thoughts fly from Your
face. This is my hope and my only comfort — to fly to You in all
tribulation, to confide in You, and to call on You from the depths
of my heart and to await patiently for Your consolation.

              A Prayer for Enlightening the Mind

    Enlighten me, good Jesus, with the brightness of internal
light, and take away all darkness from the habitation of my heart.
Restrain my wandering thoughts and suppress the temptations which
attack me so violently. Fight strongly for me, and vanquish these
evil beasts — the alluring desires of the flesh — so that peace
may come through Your power and the fullness of Your praise
resound in the holy courts, which is a pure conscience. Command
the winds and the tempests; say to the sea: “Be still,” and to the
north wind, “Do not blow,” and there will be a great calm.
    Send forth Your light and Your truth to shine on the earth,
for I am as earth, empty and formless until You illumine me. Pour
out Your grace from above. Shower my heart with heavenly dew. Open
the springs of devotion to water the earth, that it may produce
the best of good fruits. Lift up my heart pressed down by the
weight of sins, and direct all my desires to heavenly things, that
having tasted the sweetness of supernal happiness, I may find no
pleasure in thinking of earthly things.
    Snatch me up and deliver me from all the passing comfort of
creatures, for no created thing can fully quiet and satisfy my
desires. Join me to Yourself in an inseparable bond of love;
because You alone can satisfy him who loves You, and without You
all things are worthless.

                  The Twenty-Fourth Chapter

      Avoiding Curious Inquiry About the Lives of Others

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, do not be curious. Do not trouble yourself with idle
cares. What matters this or that to you? Follow Me. What is it to
you if a man is such and such, if another does or says this or
that? You will not have to answer for others, but you will have to
give an account of yourself. Why, then, do you meddle in their
affairs?
    Behold, I know all men. I see everything that is done under
the sun, and I know how matters stand with each — what is in his
mind and what in his heart and the end to which his intention is
directed. Commit all things to Me, therefore, and keep yourself in
good peace. Let him who is disturbed be as restless as he will.
Whatever he has said or done will fall upon himself, for he cannot
deceive Me.
    Do not be anxious for the shadow of a great name, for the
close friendship of many, or for the particular affection of men.
These things cause distraction and cast great darkness about the
heart. I would willingly speak My word and reveal My secrets to
you, if you would watch diligently for My coming and open your
heart to Me. Be prudent, then. Watch in prayer, and in all things
humble yourself.

                  The Twenty-Fifth Chapter

      The Basis of Firm Peace of Heart and True Progress

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, I have said: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give
unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you.”[34]
    All men desire peace but all do not care for the things that
go to make true peace. My peace is with the humble and meek of
heart: your peace will be in much patience. If you hear Me and
follow My voice, you will be able to enjoy much peace.

                        The Disciple

    What, then, shall I do, Lord?

                    The Voice of Christ

    Watch yourself in all things, in what you do and what you
say. Direct your every intention toward pleasing Me alone, and
desire nothing outside of Me. Do not be rash in judging the deeds
and words of others, and do not entangle yourself in affairs that
are not your own. Thus, it will come about that you will be
disturbed little and seldom.
    Yet, never to experience any disturbance or to suffer any
hurt in heart or body does not belong to this present life, but
rather to the state of eternal rest. Do not think, therefore, that
you have found true peace if you feel no depression, or that all
is well because you suffer no opposition. Do not think that all is
perfect if everything happens just as you wish. And do not imagine
yourself great or consider yourself especially beloved if you are
filled with great devotion and sweetness. For the true lover of
virtue is not known by these things, nor do the progress and
perfection of a man consist in them.

                        The Disciple

    In what do they consist, Lord?

                    The Voice of Christ

    They consist in offering yourself with all your heart to the
divine will, not seeking what is yours either in small matters or
great ones, either in temporal or eternal things, so that you will
preserve equanimity and give thanks in both prosperity and
adversity, seeing all things in their proper light.
    If you become so brave and long-suffering in hope that you
can prepare your heart to suffer still more even when all inward
consolation is withdrawn, and if you do not justify yourself as
though you ought not be made to suffer such great things, but
acknowledge Me to be just in all My works and praise My holy name
— then you will walk in the true and right path of peace, then
you may have sure hope of seeing My face again in joy. If you
attain to complete contempt of self, then know that you will enjoy
an abundance of peace, as much as is possible in this earthly
life.
—–
[34] John 14:27.

                  The Twenty-Sixth Chapter

              The Excellence of a Free Mind,
        Gained Through Prayer Rather Than By Study

                        The Disciple

IT IS the mark of a perfect man, Lord, never to let his mind relax
in attention to heavenly things, and to pass through many cares as
though he had none; not as an indolent man does, but having by the
certain prerogative of a free mind no disorderly affection for any
created being.
    Keep me, I beg You, most merciful God, from the cares of this
life, lest I be too much entangled in them. Keep me from many
necessities of the body, lest I be ensnared by pleasure. Keep me
from all darkness of mind, lest I be broken by troubles and
overcome. I do not ask deliverance from those things which worldly
vanity desires so eagerly, but from those miseries which, by the
common curse of humankind, oppress the soul of Your servant in
punishment and keep him from entering into the liberty of spirit
as often as he would.
    My God, Sweetness beyond words, make bitter all the carnal
comfort that draws me from love of the eternal and lures me to its
evil self by the sight of some delightful good in the present. Let
it not overcome me, my God. Let not flesh and blood conquer me.
Let not the world and its brief glory deceive me, nor the devil
trip me by his craftiness. Give me courage to resist, patience to
endure, and constancy to persevere. Give me the soothing unction
of Your spirit rather than all the consolations of the world, and
in place of carnal love, infuse into me the love of Your name.
    Behold, eating, drinking, clothing, and other necessities
that sustain the body are burdensome to the fervent soul. Grant me
the grace to use such comforts temperately and not to become
entangled in too great a desire for them. It is not lawful to cast
them aside completely, for nature must be sustained, but Your holy
law forbids us to demand superfluous things and things that are
simply for pleasure, else the flesh would rebel against the
spirit. In these matters, I beg, let Your hand guide and direct
me, so that I may not overstep the law in any way.

                  The Twenty-Seventh Chapter

    Self-Love is the Greatest Hindrance to the Highest Good

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, you should give all for all, and in no way belong to
yourself. You must know that self-love is more harmful to you than
anything else in the world. In proportion to the love and
affection you have for a thing, it will cling to you more or less.
If your love is pure, simple, and well ordered, you will not be a
slave to anything. Do not covet what you may not have. Do not
possess anything that can hinder you or rob you of freedom.
    It is strange that you do not commit yourself to Me with your
whole heart, together with all that you can desire or possess. Why
are you consumed with foolish sorrow? Why are you wearied with
unnecessary care? Be resigned to My will and you will suffer no
loss.
    If you seek this or that, if you wish to be in this place or
that place, to have more ease and pleasure, you will never rest or
be free from care, for some defect is found in everything and
everywhere someone will vex you. To obtain and multiply earthly
goods, then, will not help you, but to despise them and root them
out of your heart will aid. This, understand, is true not only of
money and wealth, but also of ambition for honor and desire for
empty praise, all of which will pass away with this world.
    The place matters little if the spirit of fervor is not
there; nor will peace be lasting if it is sought from the outside;
if your heart has no true foundation, that is, if you are not
founded in Me, you may change, but you will not better yourself.
For when occasion arises and is accepted, you will find that from
which you fled and worse.

  A Prayer for Cleansing the Heart and Obtaining Heavenly Wisdom

    Strengthen me by the grace of Your holy spirit, O God. Give
me the power to be strengthened inwardly and to empty my heart of
all vain care and anxiety, so that I may not be drawn away by many
desires, whether for precious things or mean ones. Let me look
upon everything as passing, and upon myself as soon to pass away
with them, because there is nothing lasting under the sun, where
all is vanity and affliction of spirit. How wise is he who thinks
thus!
    Give me, Lord, heavenly wisdom to learn above all else to
seek and find You, to enjoy and love You more than anything, and
to consider other things as they are, as Your wisdom has ordered
them. Grant me prudence to avoid the flatterer and to bear
patiently with him who disagrees with me. For it is great wisdom
not to be moved by the sound of words, nor to give ear to the
wicked, flattering siren. Then, I shall walk safely in the way I
have begun.

                  The Twenty-Eighth Chapter

                  Strength Against Slander

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, do not take it to heart if some people think badly of
you and say unpleasant things about you. You ought to think worse
things of yourself and to believe that no one is weaker than
yourself. Moreover, if you walk in the spirit you will pay little
heed to fleeting words. It is no small prudence to remain silent
in evil times, to turn inwardly to Me, and not to be disturbed by
human opinions. Do not let your peace depend on the words of men.
Their thinking well or badly of you does not make you different
from what you are. Where are true peace and glory? Are they not in
Me? He who neither cares to please men nor fears to displease them
will enjoy great peace, for all unrest and distraction of the
senses arise out of disorderly love and vain fear.

                  The Twenty-Ninth Chapter

  How We Must Call Upon and Bless the Lord When Trouble Presses

                        The Disciple

BLESSED be Your name forever, O Lord, Who have willed that this
temptation and trouble come upon me. I cannot escape it, yet I
must fly to You that You may help me and turn it to my good. Now I
am troubled, Lord, and my heart is not at rest, for I am greatly
afflicted by this present suffering.
    Beloved Father, what shall I say? I am straitened in harsh
ways. Save me from this hour to which, however, I am come that You
may be glorified when I am deeply humbled and freed by You. May it
please You, then, to deliver me, Lord, for what can I, poor wretch
that I am, do or where can I go without You? Give me patience,
Lord, even now. Help me, my God, and I will not be afraid however
much I may be distressed.
    But here, in the midst of these troubles, what shall I say?
Your will be done, Lord. I have richly deserved to be troubled and
distressed. But I must bear it. Would that I could do so
patiently, until the storm passes and calm returns! Yet Your
almighty hand can take this temptation from me, or lighten its
attack so that I do not altogether sink beneath it, as You, my
God, my Mercy, have very often done for me before. And the more
difficult my plight, the easier for You is this change of the
right hand of the Most High.

                  The Thirtieth Chapter

  The Quest of Divine Help and Confidence in Regaining Grace

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, I am the Lord Who gives strength in the day of trouble.
Come to Me when all is not well with you. Your tardiness in
turning to prayer is the greatest obstacle to heavenly
consolation, for before you pray earnestly to Me you first seek
many comforts and take pleasure in outward things. Thus, all
things are of little profit to you until you realize that I am the
one Who saves those who trust in Me, and that outside of Me there
is no worth-while help, or any useful counsel or lasting remedy.
    But now, after the tempest, take courage, grow strong once
more in the light of My mercies; for I am near, says the Lord, to
restore all things not only to the full but with abundance and
above measure. Is anything difficult for Me? Or shall I be as one
who promises and does not act? Where is your faith? Stand firm and
persevere. Be a man of endurance and courage, and consolation will
come to you in due time. Wait for Me; wait — and I will come to
heal you.
    It is only a temptation that troubles you, a vain fear that
terrifies you.
    Of what use is anxiety about the future? Does it bring you
anything but trouble upon trouble? Sufficient for the day is the
evil thereof. It is foolish and useless to be either grieved or
happy about future things which perhaps may never happen. But it
is human to be deluded by such imaginations, and the sign of a
weak soul to be led on by suggestions of the enemy. For he does
not care whether he overcomes you by love of the present or fear
of the future.
    Let not your heart be troubled, therefore, nor let it be
afraid. Believe in Me and trust in My mercy. When you think you
are far from Me, then often I am very near you. When you judge
that almost all is lost, then very often you are in the way of
gaining great merit.
    All is not lost when things go contrary to your wishes. You
ought not judge according to present feelings, nor give in to any
trouble whenever it comes, or take it as though all hope of escape
were lost. And do not consider yourself forsaken if I send some
temporary hardship, or withdraw the consolation you desire. For
this is the way to the kingdom of heaven, and without doubt it is
better for you and the rest of My servants to be tried in
adversities than to have all things as you wish. I know your
secret thoughts, and I know that it is profitable for your
salvation to be left sometimes in despondency lest perhaps you be
puffed up by success and fancy yourself to be what you are not.
    What I have given, I can take away and restore when it
pleases Me. What I give remains Mine, and thus when I take it away
I take nothing that is yours, for every good gift and every
perfect gift is Mine.
    If I send you trouble and adversity, do not fret or let your
heart be downcast. I can raise you quickly up again and turn all
your sorrow into joy. I am no less just and worthy of great praise
when I deal with you in this way.
    If you think aright and view things in their true light, you
should never be so dejected and saddened by adversity, but rather
rejoice and give thanks, considering it a matter of special joy
that I afflict you with sorrow and do not spare you. “As the
Father hath loved Me, so also I love you,” I said to My disciples,
and I certainly did not send them out to temporal joys but rather
to great struggles, not to honors but to contempt, not to
idleness, but to labors, not to rest but to bring forth much fruit
in patience. Do you, My child, remember these words.

                  The Thirty-First Chapter

        To Find the Creator, Forsake All Creatures

                        The Disciple

O LORD, I am in sore need still of greater grace if I am to arrive
at the point where no man and no created thing can be an obstacle
to me. For as long as anything holds me back, I cannot freely fly
to You. He that said “Oh that I had wings like a dove, that I
might fly away and be at rest!”[35] desired to fly freely to You.
Who is more at rest than he who aims at nothing but God? And who
more free than the man who desires nothing on earth?
    It is well, then, to pass over all creation, perfectly to
abandon self, and to see in ecstasy of mind that You, the Creator
of all, have no likeness among all Your creatures, and that unless
a man be freed from all creatures, he cannot attend freely to the
Divine. The reason why so few contemplative persons are found, is
that so few know how to separate themselves entirely from what is
transitory and created.
    For this, indeed, great grace is needed, grace that will
raise the soul and lift it up above itself. Unless a man be
elevated in spirit, free from all creatures, and completely united
to God, all his knowledge and possessions are of little moment. He
who considers anything great except the one, immense, eternal good
will long be little and lie groveling on the earth. Whatever is
not God is nothing and must be accounted as nothing.
    There is great difference between the wisdom of an
enlightened and devout man and the learning of a well-read and
brilliant scholar, for the knowledge which flows down from divine
sources is much nobler than that laboriously acquired by human
industry.
    Many there are who desire contemplation, but who do not care
to do the things which contemplation requires. It is also a great
obstacle to be satisfied with externals and sensible things, and
to have so little of perfect mortification. I know not what it is,
or by what spirit we are led, or to what we pretend — we who wish
to be called spiritual — that we spend so much labor and even
more anxiety on things that are transitory and mean, while we
seldom or never advert with full consciousness to our interior
concerns.
    Alas, after very little recollection we falter, not weighing
our deeds by strict examination. We pay no attention to where our
affections lie, nor do we deplore the fact that our actions are
impure.
    Remember that because all flesh had corrupted its course, the
great deluge followed. Since, then, our interior affection is
corrupt, it must be that the action which follows from it, the
index as it were of our lack of inward strength, is also corrupt.
Out of a pure heart come the fruits of a good life.
    People are wont to ask how much a man has done, but they
think little of the virtue with which he acts. They ask: Is he
strong? rich? handsome? a good writer? a good singer? or a good
worker? They say little, however, about how poor he is in spirit,
how patient and meek, how devout and spiritual. Nature looks to
his outward appearance; grace turns to his inward being. The one
often errs, the other trusts in God and is not deceived.
—–
[35] Ps. 54:7.

                  The Thirty-Second Chapter

    Self-Denial and the Renunciation of Evil Appetites

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, you can never be perfectly free unless you completely
renounce self, for all who seek their own interest and who love
themselves are bound in fetters. They are unsettled by
covetousness and curiosity, always searching for ease and not for
the things of Christ, often devising and framing that which will
not last, for anything that is not of God will fail completely.
    Hold to this short and perfect advice, therefore: give up
your desires and you will find rest. Think upon it in your heart,
and when you have put it into practice you will understand all
things.

                        The Disciple

    But this, Lord, is not the work of one day, nor is it mere
child’s play; indeed, in this brief sentence is included all the
perfection of holy persons.

                    The Voice of Christ

    My child, you should not turn away or be downcast when you
hear the way of the perfect. Rather you ought to be spurred on the
more toward their sublime heights, or at least be moved to seek
perfection.
    I would this were the case with you — that you had
progressed to the point where you no longer loved self but simply
awaited My bidding and his whom I have placed as father over you.
Then you would please Me very much, and your whole life would pass
in peace and joy. But you have yet many things which you must give
up, and unless you resign them entirely to Me you will not obtain
that which you ask.
    “I counsel thee to buy of me gold, fire-tried, that thou
mayest be made rich”[36] — rich in heavenly wisdom which treads
underfoot all that is low. Put aside earthly wisdom, all human
self-complacency.
    I have said: exchange what is precious and valued among men
for that which is considered contemptible. For true heavenly
wisdom — not to think highly of self and not to seek glory on
earth — does indeed seem mean and small and is well-nigh
forgotten, as many men praise it with their mouths but shy far
away from it in their lives. Yet this heavenly wisdom is a pearl
of great price, which is hidden from many.
—–
[36] Apoc. 3:18.

                  The Thirty-Third Chapter

Restlessness of Soul — Directing Our Final Intention Toward God

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, do not trust in your present feeling, for it will soon
give way to another. As long as you live you will be subject to
changeableness in spite of yourself. You will become merry at one
time and sad at another, now peaceful but again disturbed, at one
moment devout and the next indevout, sometimes diligent while at
other times lazy, now grave and again flippant.
    But the man who is wise and whose spirit is well instructed
stands superior to these changes. He pays no attention to what he
feels in himself or from what quarter the wind of fickleness
blows, so long as the whole intention of his mind is conducive to
his proper and desired end. For thus he can stand undivided,
unchanged, and unshaken, with the singleness of his intention
directed unwaveringly toward Me, even in the midst of so many
changing events. And the purer this singleness of intention is,
with so much the more constancy does he pass through many storms.
    But in many ways the eye of pure intention grows dim, because
it is attracted to any delightful thing that it meets. Indeed, it
is rare to find one who is entirely free from all taint of self-
seeking. The Jews of old, for example, came to Bethany to Martha
and Mary, not for Jesus’ sake alone, but in order to see Lazarus.
    The eye of your intention, therefore, must be cleansed so
that it is single and right. It must be directed toward Me,
despite all the objects which may interfere.

                  The Thirty-Fourth Chapter

      God is Sweet Above All Things and in All Things
                    to Those Who Love Him

                        The Disciple

BEHOLD, my God and my all! What more do I wish for; what greater
happiness can I desire? O sweet and delicious word! But sweet only
to him who loves it, and not to the world or the things that are
in the world.
    My God and my all! These words are enough for him who
understands, and for him who loves it is a joy to repeat them
often. For when You are present, all things are delightful; when
You are absent, all things become loathsome. It is You Who give a
heart tranquillity, great peace and festive joy. It is You Who
make us think well of all things, and praise You in all things.
Without You nothing can give pleasure for very long, for if it is
to be pleasing and tasteful, Your grace and the seasoning of Your
wisdom must be in it. What is there that can displease him whose
happiness is in You? And, on the contrary, what can satisfy him
whose delight is not in You?
    The wise men of the world, the men who lust for the flesh,
are wanting in Your wisdom, because in the world is found the
utmost vanity, and in the flesh is death. But they who follow You
by disdaining worldly things and mortifying the flesh are known to
be truly wise, for they are transported from vanity to truth, from
flesh to spirit. By such as these God is relished, and whatever
good is found in creatures they turn to praise of the Creator. But
great — yes, very great, indeed — is the difference between
delight in the Creator and in the creature, in eternity and in
time, in Light uncreated and in the light that is reflected.
    O Light eternal, surpassing all created brightness, flash
forth the lightning from above and enlighten the inmost recesses
of my heart. Cleanse, cheer, enlighten, and vivify my spirit with
all its powers, that it may cleave to You in ecstasies of joy. Oh,
when will that happy and wished-for hour come, that You may fill
me with Your presence and become all in all to me? So long as this
is not given me, my joy will not be complete.
    The old man, alas, yet lives within me. He has not yet been
entirely crucified; he is not yet entirely dead. He still lusts
strongly against the spirit, and he will not leave the kingdom of
my soul in peace. But You, Who can command the power of the sea
and calm the tumult of its waves, arise and help me. Scatter the
nations that delight in war; crush them in Your sight. Show forth
I beg, Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified,
because for me there is no other hope or refuge except in You, O
Lord, my God.

                  The Thirty-Fifth Chapter

    There is No Security from Temptation in This Life

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, in this life you are never safe, and as long as you live
the weapons of the spirit will ever be necessary to you. You dwell
among enemies. You are subject to attack from the right and the
left. If, therefore, you do not guard yourself from every quarter
with the shield of patience, you will not remain long unscathed.
    Moreover, if you do not steadily set your heart on Me, with a
firm will to suffer everything for My sake, you will not be able
to bear the heat of this battle or to win the crown of the
blessed. You ought, therefore, to pass through all these things
bravely and to oppose a strong hand to whatever stands in your
way. For to him who triumphs heavenly bread is given, while for
him who is too lazy to fight there remains much misery.
    If you look for rest in this life, how will you attain to
everlasting rest? Dispose yourself, then, not for much rest but
for great patience. Seek true peace, not on earth but in heaven;
not in men or in other creatures but in God alone. For love of God
you should undergo all things cheerfully, all labors and sorrows,
temptations and trials, anxieties, weaknesses, necessities,
injuries, slanders, rebukes, humiliations, confusions,
corrections, and contempt. For these are helps to virtue. These
are the trials of Christ’s recruit. These form the heavenly crown.
For a little brief labor I will give an everlasting crown, and for
passing confusion, glory that is eternal.
    Do you think that you will always have spiritual consolations
as you desire? My saints did not always have them. Instead, they
had many afflictions, temptations of various kinds, and great
desolation. Yet they bore them all patiently. They placed their
confidence in God rather than in themselves, knowing that the
sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the
glory that is to come. And you — do you wish to have at once that
which others have scarcely obtained after many tears and great
labors?
    Wait for the Lord, act bravely, and have courage. Do not lose
trust. Do not turn back but devote your body and soul constantly
to God’s glory. I will reward you most plentifully. I will be with
you in every tribulation.

                  The Thirty-Sixth Chapter

                  The Vain Judgments of Men

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, trust firmly in the Lord, and do not fear the judgment
of men when conscience tells you that you are upright and
innocent. For it is good and blessed to suffer such things, and
they will not weigh heavily on the humble heart that trusts in God
rather than in itself. Many men say many things, and therefore
little faith is to be put in them.
    Likewise, it is impossible to satisfy all men. Although Paul
tried to please all in the Lord, and became all things to all men,
yet he made little of their opinions. He labored abundantly for
the edification and salvation of others, as much as lay in him and
as much as he could, but he could not escape being sometimes
judged and despised by others. Therefore, he committed all to God
Who knows all things, and defended himself by his patience and
humility against the tongues of those who spoke unjustly or
thought foolish things and lies, or made accusations against him.
Sometimes, indeed, he did answer them, but only lest his silence
scandalize the weak.
    Who are you, then, that you should be afraid of mortal man?
Today he is here, tomorrow he is not seen. Fear God and you will
not be afraid of the terrors of men. What can anyone do to you by
word or injury? He hurts himself rather than you, and no matter
who he may be he cannot escape the judgment of God. Keep God
before your eyes, therefore, and do not quarrel with peevish
words.
    If it seems, then, that you are worsted and that you suffer
undeserved shame, do not repine over it and do not lessen your
crown by impatience. Look instead to heaven, to Me, Who have power
to deliver you from all disgrace and injury, and to render to
everyone according to his works.

                  The Thirty-Seventh Chapter

  Pure and Entire Resignation of Self to Obtain Freedom of Heart

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, renounce self and you shall find Me. Give up your own
self-will, your possessions, and you shall always gain. For once
you resign yourself irrevocably, greater grace will be given you.

                        The Disciple

    How often, Lord, shall I resign myself? And in what shall I
forsake myself?

                    The Voice of Christ

    Always, at every hour, in small matters as well as great — I
except nothing. In all things I wish you to be stripped of self.
How otherwise can you be mine or I yours unless you be despoiled
of your own will both inwardly and outwardly? The sooner you do
this the better it will be for you, and the more fully and
sincerely you do it the more you will please Me and the greater
gain you will merit.
    Some there are who resign themselves, but with certain
reservation; they do not trust fully in God and therefore they try
to provide for themselves. Others, again, at first offer all, but
afterward are assailed by temptation and return to what they have
renounced, thereby making no progress in virtue. These will not
reach the true liberty of a pure heart nor the grace of happy
friendship with Me unless they first make a full resignation and a
daily sacrifice of themselves. Without this no fruitful union
lasts nor will last.
    I have said to you very often, and now I say again: forsake
yourself, renounce yourself and you shall enjoy great inward
peace. Give all for all. Ask nothing, demand nothing in return.
Trust purely and without hesitation in Me, and you shall possess
Me. You will be free of heart and darkness will not overwhelm you.
    Strive for this, pray for this, desire this — to be stripped
of all selfishness and naked to follow the naked Jesus, to die to
self and live forever for Me. Then all vain imaginations, all
wicked disturbances and superfluous cares will vanish. Then also
immoderate fear will leave you and inordinate love will die.

                  The Thirty-Eighth Chapter

The Right Ordering of External Affairs; Recourse to God in Dangers

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, you must strive diligently to be inwardly free, to have
mastery over yourself everywhere, in every external act and
occupation, that all things be subject to you and not you to them,
that you be the master and director of your actions, not a slave
or a mere hired servant. You should be rather a free man and a
true Hebrew, arising to the status and freedom of the children of
God who stand above present things to contemplate those which are
eternal; who look upon passing affairs with the left eye and upon
those of heaven with the right; whom temporal things do not so
attract that they cling to them, but who rather put these things
to such proper service as is ordained and instituted by God, the
great Workmaster, Who leaves nothing unordered in His creation.
    If, likewise, in every happening you are not content simply
with outward appearances, if you do not regard with carnal eyes
things which you see and hear, but whatever be the affair, enter
with Moses into the tabernacle to ask advice of the Lord, you will
sometimes hear the divine answer and return instructed in many
things present and to come. For Moses always had recourse to the
tabernacle for the solution of doubts and questions, and fled to
prayer for support in dangers and the evil deeds of men. So you
also should take refuge in the secret chamber of your heart,
begging earnestly for divine aid.
    For this reason, as we read, Joshua and the children of
Israel were deceived by the Gibeonites because they did not first
seek counsel of the Lord, but trusted too much in fair words and
hence were deceived by false piety.

                  The Thirty-Ninth Chapter

    A Man Should Not Be Unduly Solicitous About His Affairs

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, always commit your cause to Me. I will dispose of it
rightly in good time. Await My ordering of it and it will be to
your advantage.

                        The Disciple

    Lord, I willingly commit all things to You, for my anxiety
can profit me little. But I would that I were not so concerned
about the future, and instead offered myself without hesitation to
Your good pleasure.

                    The Voice of Christ

    My child, it often happens that a man seeks ardently after
something he desires and then when he has attained it he begins to
think that it is not at all desirable; for affections do not
remain fixed on the same thing, but rather flit from one to
another. It is no very small matter, therefore, for a man to
forsake himself even in things that are very small.
    A man’s true progress consists in denying himself, and the
man who has denied himself is truly free and secure. The old
enemy, however, setting himself against all good, never ceases to
tempt them, but day and night plots dangerous snares to cast the
unwary into the net of deceit. “Watch ye and pray,” says the Lord,
“that ye enter not into temptation.”[37]
—–
[37] Matt. 16:41.

                    The Fortieth Chapter

    Man Has No Good in Himself and Can Glory in Nothing

                        The Disciple

LORD, what is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man
that You visit him? What has man deserved that You should give him
Your grace? What cause have I, Lord, to complain if You desert me,
or what objection can I have if You do not do what I ask? This I
may think and say in all truth: “Lord, I am nothing, of myself I
have nothing that is good; I am lacking in all things, and I am
ever tending toward nothing. And unless I have Your help and am
inwardly strengthened by You, I become quite lukewarm and lax.”
    But You, Lord, are always the same. You remain forever,
always good, just, and holy; doing all things rightly, justly, and
holily, disposing them wisely. I, however, who am more ready to go
backward than forward, do not remain always in one state, for I
change with the seasons. Yet my condition quickly improves when it
pleases You and when You reach forth Your helping hand. For You
alone, without human aid, can help me and strengthen me so greatly
that my heart shall no more change but be converted and rest
solely in You. Hence, if I knew well how to cast aside all earthly
consolation, either to attain devotion or because of the necessity
which, in the absence of human solace, compels me to seek You
alone, then I could deservedly hope for Your grace and rejoice in
the gift of new consolation.
    Thanks be to You from Whom all things come, whenever it is
well with me. In Your sight I am vanity and nothingness, a weak,
unstable man. In what, therefore, can I glory, and how can I wish
to be highly regarded? Is it because I am nothing? This, too, is
utterly vain. Indeed, the greatest vanity is the evil plague of
empty self-glory, because it draws one away from true glory and
robs one of heavenly grace. For when a man is pleased with himself
he displeases You, when he pants after human praise he is deprived
of true virtue. But it is true glory and holy exultation to glory
in You and not in self, to rejoice in Your name rather than in
one’s own virtue, and not to delight in any creature except for
Your sake.
    Let Your name, not mine, be praised. Let Your work, not mine,
be magnified. Let Your holy name be blessed, but let no human
praise be given to me. You are my glory. You are the joy of my
heart. In You I will glory and rejoice all the day, and for myself
I will glory in nothing but my infirmities.
    Let the Jews seek the glory that comes from another. I will
seek that which comes from God alone. All human glory, all
temporal honor, all worldly position is truly vanity and
foolishness compared to Your everlasting glory. O my Truth, my
Mercy, my God, O Blessed Trinity, to You alone be praise and
honor, power and glory, throughout all the endless ages of ages.

                  The Forty-First Chapter

                Contempt for All Earthly Honor

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, do not take it to heart if you see others honored and
advanced, while you yourself are despised and humbled. Lift up
your heart to Me in heaven and the contempt of men on earth will
not grieve you.

                        The Disciple

    Lord, we are blinded and quickly misled by vanity. If I
examine myself rightly, no injury has ever been done me by any
creature; hence I have nothing for which to make just complaint to
You. But I have sinned often and gravely against You; therefore is
every creature in arms against me. Confusion and contempt should
in justice come upon me, but to You due praise, honor, and glory.
And unless I prepare myself to be willingly despised and forsaken
by every creature, to be considered absolutely nothing, I cannot
have interior peace and strength, nor can I be enlightened
spiritually or completely united with You.

                  The Forty-Second Chapter

              Peace is Not to Be Placed in Men

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, if you place your peace in any creature because of your
own feeling or for the sake of his company, you will be unsettled
and entangled. But if you have recourse to the ever-living and
abiding Truth, you will not grieve if a friend should die or
forsake you. Your love for your friend should be grounded in Me,
and for My sake you should love whoever seems to be good and is
very dear to you in this life. Without Me friendship has no
strength and cannot endure. Love which I do not bind is neither
true nor pure.
    You ought, therefore, to be so dead to such human affections
as to wish as far as lies within you to be without the fellowship
of men. Man draws nearer to God in proportion as he withdraws
farther from all earthly comfort. And he ascends higher to God as
he descends lower into himself and grows more vile in his own
eyes. He who attributes any good to himself hinders God’s grace
from coming into his heart, for the grace of the Holy Spirit seeks
always the humble heart.
    If you knew how to annihilate yourself completely and empty
yourself of all created love, then I should overflow in you with
great grace. When you look to creatures, the sight of the Creator
is taken from you. Learn, therefore, to conquer yourself in all
things for the sake of your Maker. Then will you be able to attain
to divine knowledge. But anything, no matter how small, that is
loved and regarded inordinately keeps you back from the highest
good and corrupts the soul.

                  The Forty-Third Chapter

            Beware Vain and Worldly Knowledge

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, do not let the fine-sounding and subtle words of men
deceive you. For the kingdom of heaven consists not in talk but in
virtue. Attend, rather, to My words which enkindle the heart and
enlighten the mind, which excite contrition and abound in manifold
consolations. Never read them for the purpose of appearing more
learned or more wise. Apply yourself to mortifying your vices, for
this will benefit you more than your understanding of many
difficult questions.
    Though you shall have read and learned many things, it will
always be necessary for you to return to this one principle: I am
He who teaches man knowledge, and to the little ones I give a
clearer understanding than can be taught by man. He to whom I
speak will soon be wise and his soul will profit. But woe to those
who inquire of men about many curious things, and care very little
about the way they serve Me.
    The time will come when Christ, the Teacher of teachers, the
Lord of angels, will appear to hear the lessons of all — that is,
to examine the conscience of everyone. Then He will search
Jerusalem with lamps and the hidden things of darkness will be
brought to light and the arguings of men’s tongues be silenced.
    I am He Who in one moment so enlightens the humble mind that
it comprehends more of eternal truth than could be learned by ten
years in the schools. I teach without noise of words or clash of
opinions, without ambition for honor or confusion of argument.
    I am He Who teaches man to despise earthly possessions and to
loathe present things, to ask after the eternal, to hunger for
heaven, to fly honors and to bear with scandals, to place all hope
in Me, to desire nothing apart from Me, and to love Me ardently
above all things. For a certain man by loving Me intimately
learned divine truths and spoke wonders. He profited more by
leaving all things than by studying subtle questions.
    To some I speak of common things, to others of special
matters. To some I appear with sweetness in signs and figures, and
to others I appear in great light and reveal mysteries. The voice
of books is but a single voice, yet it does not teach all men
alike, because I within them am the Teacher and the Truth, the
Examiner of hearts, the Understander of thoughts, the Promoter of
acts, distributing to each as I see fit.

                  The Forty-Fourth Chapter

          Do Not Be Concerned About Outward Things

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, there are many matters of which it is well for you to be
ignorant, and to consider yourself as one who is dead upon the
earth and to whom the whole world is crucified. There are many
things, too, which it is well to pass by with a deaf ear,
thinking, instead, of what is more to your peace. It is more
profitable to turn away from things which displease you and to
leave to every man his own opinion than to take part in
quarrelsome talk. If you stand well with God and look to His
judgment, you will more easily bear being worsted.

                        The Disciple

    To what have we come, Lord? Behold, we bewail a temporal
loss. We labor and fret for a small gain, while loss of the soul
is forgotten and scarcely ever returns to mind. That which is of
little or no value claims our attention, whereas that which is of
highest necessity is neglected — all because man gives himself
wholly to outward things. And unless he withdraws himself quickly,
he willingly lies immersed in externals.

                  The Forty-Fifth Chapter

All Men Are Not to Be Believed, for It Is Easy to Err in Speech

                        The Disciple

GRANT me help in my needs, O Lord, for the aid of man is useless.
How often have I failed to find faithfulness in places where I
thought I possessed it! And how many times I have found it where I
least expected it! Vain, therefore, is hope in men, but the
salvation of the just is in You, O God. Blessed be Your name, O
Lord my God, in everything that befalls us.
    We are weak and unstable, quickly deceived and changed. Who
is the man that is able to guard himself with such caution and
care as not sometimes to fall into deception or perplexity? He who
confides in You, O Lord, and seeks You with a simple heart does
not fall so easily. And if some trouble should come upon him, no
matter how entangled in it he may be, he will be more quickly
delivered and comforted by You. For You will not forsake him who
trusts in You to the very end.
    Rare is the friend who remains faithful through all his
friend’s distress. But You, Lord, and You alone, are entirely
faithful in all things; other than You, there is none so faithful.
    Oh, how wise is that holy soul[38] who said: “My mind is
firmly settled and founded in Christ.” If that were true of me,
human fear would not so easily cause me anxiety, nor would the
darts of words disturb. But who can foresee all things and provide
against all evils? And if things foreseen have often hurt, can
those which are unlooked for do otherwise than wound us gravely?
Why, indeed, have I not provided better for my wretched self? Why,
too, have I so easily kept faith in others? We are but men,
however, nothing more than weak men, although we are thought by
many to be, and are called, angels.
    In whom shall I put my faith, Lord? In whom but You? You are
the truth which does not deceive and cannot be deceived. Every
man, on the other hand, is a liar, weak, unstable, and likely to
err, especially in words, so that one ought not to be too quick to
believe even that which seems, on the face of it, to sound true.
How wise was Your warning to beware of men; that a man’s enemies
are those of his own household; that we should not believe if
anyone says: “Behold he is here, or behold he is there.”
    I have been taught to my own cost, and I hope it has given me
greater caution, not greater folly. “Beware,” they say, “beware
and keep to yourself what I tell you!” Then while I keep silent,
believing that the matter is secret, he who asks me to be silent
cannot remain silent himself, but immediately betrays both me and
himself, and goes his way. From tales of this kind and from such
careless men protect me, O Lord, lest I fall into their hands and
into their ways. Put in my mouth words that are true and steadfast
and keep far from me the crafty tongue, because what I am not
willing to suffer I ought by all means to shun.
    Oh, how good and how peaceful it is to be silent about
others, not to believe without discrimination all that is said,
not easily to report it further, to reveal oneself to few, always
to seek You as the discerner of hearts, and not to be blown away
by every wind of words, but to wish that all things, within and
beyond us, be done according to the pleasure of Thy will.
    How conducive it is for the keeping of heavenly grace to fly
the gaze of men, not to seek abroad things which seem to cause
admiration, but to follow with utmost diligence those which give
fervor and amendment of life! How many have been harmed by having
their virtue known and praised too hastily! And how truly
profitable it has been when grace remained hidden during this
frail life, which is all temptation and warfare!
—–
[38] St. Agatha.

                  The Forty-Sixth Chapter

                Trust in God Against Slander

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, stand firm and trust in Me. For what are words but
words? They fly through the air but hurt not a stone. If you are
guilty, consider how you would gladly amend. If you are not
conscious of any fault, think that you wish to bear this for the
sake of God. It is little enough for you occasionally to endure
words, since you are not yet strong enough to bear hard blows.
    And why do such small matters pierce you to the heart, unless
because you are still carnal and pay more heed to men than you
ought? You do not wish to be reproved for your faults and you seek
shelter in excuses because you are afraid of being despised. But
look into yourself more thoroughly and you will learn that the
world is still alive in you, in a vain desire to please men. For
when you shrink from being abased and confounded for your
failings, it is plain indeed that you are not truly humble or
truly dead to the world, and that the world is not crucified in
you.
    Listen to My word, and you will not value ten thousand words
of men. Behold, if every malicious thing that could possibly be
invented were uttered against you, what harm could it do if you
ignored it all and gave it no more thought than you would a blade
of grass? Could it so much as pluck one hair from your head?
    He who does not keep his heart within him, and who does not
have God before his eyes is easily moved by a word of
disparagement. He who trusts in Me, on the other hand, and who has
no desire to stand by his own judgment, will be free from the fear
of men. For I am the judge and discerner of all secrets. I know
how all things happen. I know who causes injury and who suffers
it. From Me that word proceeded, and with My permission it
happened, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed. I
shall judge the guilty and the innocent; but I have wished
beforehand to try them both by secret judgment.
    The testimony of man is often deceiving, but My judgment is
true — it will stand and not be overthrown. It is hidden from
many and made known to but a few. Yet it is never mistaken and
cannot be mistaken even though it does not seem right in the eyes
of the unwise.
    To Me, therefore, you ought to come in every decision, not
depending on your own judgment. For the just man will not be
disturbed, no matter what may befall him from God. Even if an
unjust charge be made against him he will not be much troubled.
Neither will he exult vainly if through others he is justly
acquitted. He considers that it is I Who search the hearts and
inmost thoughts of men, that I do not judge according to the face
of things or human appearances. For what the judgment of men
considers praiseworthy is often worthy of blame in My sight.

                        The Disciple

    O Lord God, just Judge, strong and patient, You Who know the
weakness and depravity of men, be my strength and all my
confidence, for my own conscience is not sufficient for me. You
know what I do not know, and, therefore, I ought to humble myself
whenever I am accused and bear it meekly. Forgive me, then, in
Your mercy for my every failure in this regard, and give me once
more the grace of greater endurance. Better to me is Your abundant
mercy in obtaining pardon than the justice which I imagine in
defending the secrets of my conscience. And though I am not
conscious to myself of any fault, yet I cannot thereby justify
myself, because without Your mercy no man living will be justified
in Your sight.

                  The Forty-Seventh Chapter

    Every Trial Must Be Borne for the Sake of Eternal Life

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, do not let the labors which you have taken up for My
sake break you, and do not let troubles, from whatever source,
cast you down; but in everything let My promise strengthen and
console you. I am able to reward you beyond all means and measure.
    You will not labor here long, nor will you always be
oppressed by sorrows. Wait a little while and you will see a
speedy end of evils. The hour will come when all labor and trouble
shall be no more. All that passes away with time is trivial.
    What you do, do well. Work faithfully in My vineyard. I will
be your reward. Write, read, sing, mourn, keep silence, pray, and
bear hardships like a man. Eternal life is worth all these and
greater battles. Peace will come on a day which is known to the
Lord, and then there shall be no day or night as at present but
perpetual light, infinite brightness, lasting peace, and safe
repose. Then you will not say: “Who shall deliver me from the body
of this death?” nor will you cry: “Woe is me, because my sojourn
is prolonged.” For then death will be banished, and there will be
health unfailing. There will be no anxiety then, but blessed joy
and sweet, noble companionship.
    If you could see the everlasting crowns of the saints in
heaven, and the great glory wherein they now rejoice — they who
were once considered contemptible in this world and, as it were,
unworthy of life itself — you would certainly humble yourself at
once to the very earth, and seek to be subject to all rather than
to command even one. Nor would you desire the pleasant days of
this life, but rather be glad to suffer for God, considering it
your greatest gain to be counted as nothing among men.
    Oh, if these things appealed to you and penetrated deeply
into your heart, how could you dare to complain even once? Ought
not all trials be borne for the sake of everlasting life? In
truth, the loss or gain of God’s kingdom is no small matter.
    Lift up your countenance to heaven, then. Behold Me, and with
Me all My saints. They had great trials in this life, but now they
rejoice. They are consoled. Now they are safe and at rest. And
they shall abide with Me for all eternity in the kingdom of My
Father.

                  The Forty-Eighth Chapter

    The Day of Eternity and the Distresses of This Life

                        The Disciple

O MOST happy mansion of the city above! O most bright day of
eternity, which night does not darken, but which the highest truth
ever enlightens! O day, ever joyful and ever secure, which never
changes its state to the opposite! Oh, that this day shine forth,
that all these temporal things come to an end! It envelops the
saints all resplendent with heavenly brightness, but it appears
far off as through a glass to us wanderers on the earth. The
citizens of heaven know how joyful that day is, but the exiled
sons of Eve mourn that this one is bitter and tedious.
    The days of this life are short and evil, full of grief and
distress. Here man is defiled by many sins, ensnared in many
passions, enslaved by many fears, and burdened with many cares. He
is distracted by many curiosities and entangled in many vanities,
surrounded by many errors and worn by many labors, oppressed by
temptations, weakened by pleasures, and tortured by want.
    Oh, when will these evils end? When shall I be freed from the
miserable slavery of vice? When, Lord, shall I think of You alone?
When shall I fully rejoice in You? When shall I be without
hindrance, in true liberty, free from every grievance of mind and
body? When will there be solid peace, undisturbed and secure,
inward peace and outward peace, peace secured on every side? O
good Jesus, when shall I stand to gaze upon You? When shall I
contemplate the glory of Your kingdom? When will You be all in all
to me? Oh, when shall I be with You in that kingdom of Yours,
which You have prepared for Your beloved from all eternity?
    I am left poor and exiled in a hostile land, where every day
sees wars and very great misfortunes. Console my banishment,
assuage my sorrow. My whole desire is for You. Whatever solace
this world offers is a burden to me. I desire to enjoy You
intimately, but I cannot attain to it. I wish to cling fast to
heavenly things, but temporal affairs and unmortified passions
bear me down. I wish in mind to be above all things, but I am
forced by the flesh to be unwillingly subject to them. Thus, I
fight with myself, unhappy that I am, and am become a burden to
myself, while my spirit seeks to rise upward and my flesh to sink
downward. Oh, what inward suffering I undergo when I consider
heavenly things; when I pray, a multitude of carnal thoughts rush
upon me!
    O my God, do not remove Yourself far from me, and depart not
in anger from Your servant. Dart forth Your lightning and disperse
them; send forth Your arrows and let the phantoms of the enemy be
put to flight. Draw my senses toward You and make me forget all
worldly things. Grant me the grace to cast away quickly all
vicious imaginings and to scorn them. Aid me, O heavenly Truth,
that no vanity may move me. Come, heavenly Sweetness, and let all
impurity fly from before Your face.
    Pardon me also, and deal mercifully with me, as often as I
think of anything besides You in prayer. For I confess truly that
I am accustomed to be very much distracted. Very often I am not
where bodily I stand or sit; rather, I am where my thoughts carry
me. Where my thoughts are, there am I; and frequently my thoughts
are where my love is. That which naturally delights, or is by
habit pleasing, comes to me quickly. Hence You Who are Truth
itself, have plainly said: “For where your treasure is, there is
your heart also.” If I love heaven, I think willingly of heavenly
things. If I love the world, I rejoice at the happiness of the
world and grieve at its troubles. If I love the flesh, I often
imagine things that are carnal. If I love the spirit, I delight in
thinking of spiritual matters. For whatever I love, I am willing
to speak and hear about.
    Blessed is the man who for Your sake, O Lord, dismisses all
creatures, does violence to nature, crucifies the desires of the
flesh in fervor of spirit, so that with serene conscience he can
offer You a pure prayer and, having excluded all earthly things
inwardly and outwardly, becomes worthy to enter into the heavenly
choirs.

                    The Forty-Ninth Chapter

                  The Desire of Eternal Life;
      the Great Rewards Promised to Those Who Struggle

                      The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, when you feel the desire for everlasting happiness
poured out upon you from above, and when you long to depart out of
the tabernacle of the body that you may contemplate My glory
without threat of change, open wide your heart and receive this
holy inspiration with all eagerness. Give deepest thanks to the
heavenly Goodness which deals with you so understandingly, visits
you so mercifully, stirs you so fervently, and sustains you so
powerfully lest under your own weight you sink down to earthly
things. For you obtain this not by your own thought or effort, but
simply by the condescension of heavenly grace and divine regard.
And the purpose of it is that you may advance in virtue and in
greater humility, that you may prepare yourself for future trials,
that you may strive to cling to Me with all the affection of your
heart, and may serve Me with a fervent will.
    My child, often, when the fire is burning the flame does not
ascend without smoke. Likewise, the desires of some burn toward
heavenly things, and yet they are not free from temptations of
carnal affection. Therefore, it is not altogether for the pure
honor of God that they act when they petition Him so earnestly.
Such, too, is often your desire which you profess to be so strong.
For that which is alloyed with self-interest is not pure and
perfect.
    Ask, therefore, not for what is pleasing and convenient to
yourself, but for what is acceptable to Me and is for My honor,
because if you judge rightly, you ought to prefer and follow My
will, not your own desire or whatever things you wish.
    I know your longings and I have heard your frequent sighs.
Already you wish to be in the liberty of the glory of the sons of
God. Already you desire the delights of the eternal home, the
heavenly land that is full of joy. But that hour is not yet come.
There remains yet another hour, a time of war, of labor, and of
trial. You long to be filled with the highest good, but you cannot
attain it now. I am that sovereign Good. Await Me, until the
kingdom of God shall come.
    You must still be tried on earth, and exercised in many
things. Consolation will sometimes be given you, but the complete
fullness of it is not granted. Take courage, therefore, and be
strong both to do and to suffer what is contrary to nature.
    You must put on the new man. You must be changed into another
man. You must often do the things you do not wish to do and forego
those you do wish. What pleases others will succeed; what pleases
you will not. The words of others will be heard; what you say will
be accounted as nothing. Others will ask and receive; you will ask
and not receive. Others will gain great fame among men; about you
nothing will be said. To others the doing of this or that will be
entrusted; you will be judged useless. At all this nature will
sometimes be sad, and it will be a great thing if you bear this
sadness in silence. For in these and many similar ways the
faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be tried, to see how far
he can deny himself and break himself in all things.
    There is scarcely anything in which you so need to die to
self as in seeing and suffering things that are against your will,
especially when things that are commanded seem inconvenient or
useless. Then, because you are under authority, and dare not
resist the higher power, it seems hard to submit to the will of
another and give up your own opinion entirely.
    But consider, my child, the fruit of these labors, how soon
they will end and how greatly they will be rewarded, and you will
not be saddened by them, but your patience will receive the
strongest consolation. For instead of the little will that you now
readily give up, you shall always have your will in heaven. There,
indeed, you shall find all that you could desire. There you shall
have possession of every good without fear of losing it. There
shall your will be forever one with Mine. It shall desire nothing
outside of Me and nothing for itself. There no one shall oppose
you, no one shall complain of you, no one hinder you, and nothing
stand in your way. All that you desire will be present there,
replenishing your affection and satisfying it to the full. There I
shall render you glory for the reproach you have suffered here;
for your sorrow I shall give you a garment of praise, and for the
lowest place a seat of power forever. There the fruit of glory
will appear, the labor of penance rejoice, and humble subjection
be gloriously crowned.
    Bow humbly, therefore, under the will of all, and do not heed
who said this or commanded that. But let it be your special care
when something is commanded, or even hinted at, whether by a
superior or an inferior or an equal, that you take it in good part
and try honestly to perform it. Let one person seek one thing and
another something else. Let one glory in this, another in that,
and both be praised a thousand times over. But as for you, rejoice
neither in one or the other, but only in contempt of yourself and
in My pleasure and honor. Let this be your wish: That whether in
life or in death God may be glorified in you.

                    The Fiftieth Chapter

        How a Desolate Person Ought to Commit Himself
                    Into the Hands of God

                        The Disciple

LORD God, Holy Father, may You be blessed now and in eternity. For
as You will, so is it done; and what You do is good. Let Your
servant rejoice in You — not in himself or in any other, for You
alone are true joy. You are my hope and my crown. You, O Lord, are
my joy and my honor.
    What does Your servant possess that he has not received from
You, and that without any merit of his own? Yours are all the
things which You have given, all the things which You have made.
    I am poor and in labors since my youth, and my soul is
sorrowful sometimes even to the point of tears. At times, also, my
spirit is troubled because of impending sufferings. I long for the
joy of peace. Earnestly I beg for the peace of Your children who
are fed by You in the light of consolation. If You give peace, if
You infuse holy joy, the soul of Your servant shall be filled with
holy song and be devout in praising You. But if You withdraw
Yourself, as You so very often do, he will not be able to follow
the way of Your commandments, but will rather be obliged to strike
his breast and bend the knee, because his today is different from
yesterday and the day before when Your light shone upon his head
and he was protected in the shadow of Your wings from the
temptations rushing upon him.
    Just Father, ever to be praised, the hour is come for Your
servant to be tried. Beloved Father, it is right that in this hour
Your servant should suffer something for You. O Father, forever to
be honored, the hour which You knew from all eternity is at hand,
when for a short time Your servant should be outwardly oppressed,
but inwardly should ever live with You.
    Let him be a little slighted, let him be humbled, let him
fail in the sight of men, let him be afflicted with sufferings and
pains, so that he may rise again with You in the dawn of the new
light and be glorified in heaven.
    Holy Father, You have so appointed and wished it. What has
happened is what You commanded. For this is a favor to Your
friend, to suffer and be troubled in the world for Your love, no
matter how often and by whom You permit it to happen to him.
    Nothing happens in the world without Your design and
providence, and without cause. It is well for me, O Lord, that You
have humbled me, that I may learn the justice of Your judgments
and cast away all presumption and haughtiness of heart. It is
profitable for me that shame has covered my face that I may look
to You rather than to men for consolation. Hereby I have learned
also to fear Your inscrutable judgment falling alike upon the just
and unjust yet not without equity and justice.
    Thanks to You that You have not spared me evils but have
bruised me with bitter blows, inflicting sorrows, sending distress
without and within. Under heaven there is none to console me
except You, my Lord God, the heavenly Physician of souls, Who
wound and heal, Who cast down to hell and raise up again. Your
discipline is upon me and Your very rod shall instruct me.
    Behold, beloved Father, I am in Your hands. I bow myself
under Your correcting chastisement. Strike my back and my neck,
that I may bend my crookedness to Your will. Make of me a pious
and humble follower, as in Your goodness You are wont to do, that
I may walk according to Your every nod. Myself and all that is
mine I commit to You to be corrected, for it is better to be
punished here than hereafter.
    You know all things without exception, and nothing in man’s
conscience is hidden from You. Coming events You know before they
happen, and there is no need for anyone to teach or admonish You
of what is being done on earth. You know what will promote my
progress, and how much tribulation will serve to cleanse away the
rust of vice. Deal with me according to Your good pleasure and do
not despise my sinful life, which is known to none so well or so
clearly as to You alone.
    Grant me, O Lord, the grace to know what should be known, to
praise what is most pleasing to You, to esteem that which appears
most precious to You, and to abhor what is unclean in Your sight.
    Do not allow me to judge according to the light of my bodily
eyes, nor to give sentence according to the hearing of ignorant
men’s ears. But let me distinguish with true judgment between
things visible and spiritual, and always seek above all things
Your good pleasure. The senses of men often err in their
judgments, and the lovers of this world also err in loving only
visible things. How is a man the better for being thought greater
by men? The deceiver deceives the deceitful, the vain man deceives
the vain, the blind deceives the blind, the weak deceives the weak
as often as he extols them, and in truth his foolish praise shames
them the more. For, as the humble St. Francis says, whatever
anyone is in Your sight, that he is and nothing more.

                  The Fifty-First Chapter

            When We Cannot Attain to the Highest,
              We Must Practice the Humble Works

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, you cannot always continue in the more fervent desire of
virtue, or remain in the higher stage of contemplation, but
because of humanity’s sin you must sometimes descend to lower
things and bear the burden of this corruptible life, albeit
unwillingly and wearily. As long as you wear a mortal body you
will suffer weariness and heaviness of heart. You ought,
therefore, to bewail in the flesh the burden of the flesh which
keeps you from giving yourself unceasingly to spiritual exercises
and divine contemplation.
    In such condition, it is well for you to apply yourself to
humble, outward works and to refresh yourself in good deeds, to
await with unshaken confidence My heavenly visitation, patiently
to bear your exile and dryness of mind until you are again visited
by Me and freed of all anxieties. For I will cause you to forget
your labors and to enjoy inward quiet. I will spread before you
the open fields of the Scriptures, so that with an open heart you
may begin to advance in the way of My commandments. And you will
say: the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared
with the future glory which shall be revealed to us.

                  The Fifty-Second Chapter

  A Man Ought Not to Consider Himself Worthy of Consolation,
            But Rather Deserving of Chastisement

                        The Disciple

LORD, I am not worthy of Your consolation or of any spiritual
visitation. Therefore, You treat me justly when You leave me poor
and desolate. For though I could shed a sea of tears, yet I should
not be worthy of Your consolation. Hence, I deserve only to be
scourged and punished because I have offended You often and
grievously, and have sinned greatly in many things. In all
justice, therefore, I am not worthy of any consolation.
    But You, O gracious and merciful God, Who do not will that
Your works should perish, deign to console Your servant beyond all
his merit and above human measure, to show the riches of Your
goodness toward the vessels of mercy. For Your consolations are
not like the words of men.
    What have I done, Lord, that You should confer on me any
heavenly comfort? I remember that I have done nothing good, but
that I have always been prone to sin and slow to amend. That is
true. I cannot deny it. If I said otherwise You would stand
against me, and there would be no one to defend me. What have I
deserved for my sins except hell and everlasting fire?
    In truth, I confess that I am deserving of all scorn and
contempt. Neither is it fitting that I should be remembered among
Your devoted servants. And although it is hard for me to hear
this, yet for truth’s sake I will allege my sins against myself,
so that I may more easily deserve to beg Your mercy. What shall I
say, guilty as I am and full of all confusion? My tongue can say
nothing but this alone: “I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned;
have mercy on me and pardon me. Suffer me a little that I may pour
out my grief, before I go to that dark land that is covered with
the shadow of death.”
    What do you especially demand of a guilty and wretched
sinner, except that he be contrite and humble himself for his
sins? In true sorrow and humility of heart hope of forgiveness is
born, the troubled conscience is reconciled, grace is found, man
is preserved from the wrath to come, and God and the penitent meet
with a holy kiss.
    To You, O Lord, humble sorrow for sins is an acceptable
sacrifice, a sacrifice far sweeter than the perfume of incense.
This is also the pleasing ointment which You would have poured
upon Your sacred feet, for a contrite and humble heart You have
never despised. Here is a place of refuge from the force of the
enemy’s anger. Here is amended and washed away whatever defilement
has been contracted elsewhere.

                  The Fifty-Third Chapter

        God’s Grace Is Not Given to the Earthly Minded

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, my grace is precious. It does not allow itself to be
mixed with external things or with earthly consolations. Cast away
all obstacles to grace, therefore, if you wish to receive its
infusion.
    Seek to retire within yourself. Love to dwell alone with
yourself. Seek no man’s conversation, but rather pour forth devout
prayer to God that you may keep your mind contrite and your heart
pure.
    Consider the whole world as nothing. Prefer attendance upon
God to all outward occupation, for you cannot attend upon Me and
at the same time take delight in external things. You must remove
yourself from acquaintances and from dear friends, and keep your
mind free of all temporal consolation. Thus the blessed Apostle
St. Peter begs the faithful of Christ to keep themselves as
strangers and pilgrims in the world.[39]
    What great confidence at the hour of death shall be his who
is not attached to this world by any affection. But the sickly
soul does not know what it is to have a heart thus separated from
all things, nor does the natural man know the liberty of the
spiritual man. Yet, if he truly wishes to be spiritual, he must
renounce both strangers and friends, and must beware of no one
more than himself.
    If you completely conquer yourself, you will more easily
subdue all other things. The perfect victory is to triumph over
self. For he who holds himself in such subjection that sensuality
obeys reason and reason obeys Me in all matters, is truly his own
conqueror and master of the world.
    Now, if you wish to climb to this high position you must
begin like a man, and lay the ax to the root, in order to tear out
and destroy any hidden unruly love of self or of earthly goods.
From this vice of too much self-love comes almost every other vice
that must be uprooted. And when this evil is vanquished, and
brought under control, great peace and quiet will follow at once.
    But because few labor to die entirely to self, or tend
completely away from self, therefore they remain entangled in
self, and cannot be lifted in spirit above themselves. But he who
desires to walk freely with Me must mortify all his low and
inordinate affections, and must not cling with selfish love or
desire to any creature.
—–
[39] Peter 2:11.

                  The Fifty-Fourth Chapter

          The Different Motions of Nature and Grace

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, pay careful attention to the movements of nature and of
grace, for they move in very contrary and subtle ways, and can
scarcely be distinguished by anyone except a man who is spiritual
and inwardly enlightened. All men, indeed, desire what is good,
and strive for what is good in their words and deeds. For this
reason the appearance of good deceives many.
    Nature is crafty and attracts many, ensnaring and deceiving
them while ever seeking itself. But grace walks in simplicity,
turns away from all appearance of evil, offers no deceits, and
does all purely for God in whom she rests as her last end.
    Nature is not willing to die, or to be kept down, or to be
overcome. Nor will it subdue itself or be made subject. Grace, on
the contrary, strives for mortification of self. She resists
sensuality, seeks to be in subjection, longs to be conquered, has
no wish to use her own liberty, loves to be held under discipline,
and does not desire to rule over anyone, but wishes rather to
live, to stand, and to be always under God for Whose sake she is
willing to bow humbly to every human creature.
    Nature works for its own interest and looks to the profit it
can reap from another. Grace does not consider what is useful and
advantageous to herself, but rather what is profitable to many.
Nature likes to receive honor and reverence, but grace faithfully
attributes all honor and glory to God. Nature fears shame and
contempt, but grace is happy to suffer reproach for the name of
Jesus. Nature loves ease and physical rest. Grace, however, cannot
bear to be idle and embraces labor willingly. Nature seeks to
possess what is rare and beautiful, abhorring things that are
cheap and coarse. Grace, on the contrary, delights in simple,
humble things, not despising those that are rough, nor refusing to
be clothed in old garments.
    Nature has regard for temporal wealth and rejoices in earthly
gains. It is sad over a loss and irritated by a slight, injurious
word. But grace looks to eternal things and does not cling to
those which are temporal, being neither disturbed at loss nor
angered by hard words, because she has placed her treasure and joy
in heaven where nothing is lost.
    Nature is covetous, and receives more willingly than it
gives. It loves to have its own private possessions. Grace,
however, is kind and openhearted. Grace shuns private interest, is
contented with little, and judges it more blessed to give than to
receive.
    Nature is inclined toward creatures, toward its own flesh,
toward vanities, and toward running about. But grace draws near to
God and to virtue, renounces creatures, hates the desires of the
flesh, restrains her wanderings and blushes at being seen in
public.
    Nature likes to have some external comfort in which it can
take sensual delight, but grace seeks consolation only in God, to
find her delight in the highest Good, above all visible things.
    Nature does everything for its own gain and interest. It can
do nothing without pay and hopes for its good deeds to receive
their equal or better, or else praise and favor. It is very
desirous of having its deeds and gifts highly regarded. Grace,
however, seeks nothing temporal, nor does she ask any recompense
but God alone. Of temporal necessities she asks no more than will
serve to obtain eternity.
    Nature rejoices in many friends and kinsfolk, glories in
noble position and birth, fawns on the powerful, flatters the
rich, and applauds those who are like itself. But grace loves even
her enemies and is not puffed up at having many friends. She does
not think highly of either position or birth unless there is also
virtue there. She favors the poor in preference to the rich. She
sympathizes with the innocent rather than with the powerful. She
rejoices with the true man rather than with the deceitful, and is
always exhorting the good to strive for better gifts, to become
like the Son of God by practicing the virtues.
    Nature is quick to complain of need and trouble; grace is
stanch in suffering want. Nature turns all things back to self. It
fights and argues for self. Grace brings all things back to God in
Whom they have their source. To herself she ascribes no good, nor
is she arrogant or presumptuous. She is not contentious. She does
not prefer her own opinion to the opinion of others, but in every
matter of sense and thought submits herself to eternal wisdom and
the divine judgment.
    Nature has a relish for knowing secrets and hearing news. It
wishes to appear abroad and to have many sense experiences. It
wishes to be known and to do things for which it will be praised
and admired. But grace does not care to hear news or curious
matters, because all this arises from the old corruption of man,
since there is nothing new, nothing lasting on earth. Grace
teaches, therefore, restraint of the senses, avoidance of vain
self-satisfaction and show, the humble hiding of deeds worthy of
praise and admiration, and the seeking in every thing and in every
knowledge the fruit of usefulness, the praise and honor of God.
She will not have herself or hers exalted, but desires that God
Who bestows all simply out of love should be blessed in His gifts.
    This grace is a supernatural light, a certain special gift of
God, the proper mark of the elect and the pledge of everlasting
salvation. It raises man up from earthly things to love the things
of heaven. It makes a spiritual man of a carnal one. The more,
then, nature is held in check and conquered, the more grace is
given. Every day the interior man is reformed by new visitations
according to the image of God.

                  The Fifty-Fifth Chapter

  The Corruption of Nature and the Efficacy of Divine Grace

                        The Disciple

O LORD, my God, Who created me to Your own image and likeness,
grant me this grace which You have shown to be so great and
necessary for salvation, that I may overcome my very evil nature
that is drawing me to sin and perdition. For I feel in my flesh
the law of sin contradicting the law of my mind and leading me
captive to serve sensuality in many things. I cannot resist the
passions thereof unless Your most holy grace warmly infused into
my heart assist me.
    There is need of Your grace, and of great grace, in order to
overcome a nature prone to evil from youth. For through the first
man, Adam, nature is fallen and weakened by sin, and the
punishment of that stain has fallen upon all mankind. Thus nature
itself, which You created good and right, is considered a symbol
of vice and the weakness of corrupted nature, because when left to
itself it tends toward evil and to baser things. The little
strength remaining in it is like a spark hidden in ashes. That
strength is natural reason which, surrounded by thick darkness,
still has the power of judging good and evil, of seeing the
difference between true and false, though it is not able to
fulfill all that it approves and does not enjoy the full light of
truth or soundness of affection.
    Hence it is, my God, that according to the inward man I
delight in Your law, knowing that Your command is good, just, and
holy, and that it proves the necessity of shunning all evil and
sin. But in the flesh I keep the law of sin, obeying sensuality
rather than reason. Hence, also, it is that the will to good is
present in me, but how to accomplish it I know not. Hence, too, I
often propose many good things, but because the grace to help my
weakness is lacking, I recoil and give up at the slightest
resistance. Thus it is that I know the way of perfection and see
clearly enough how I ought to act, but because I am pressed down
by the weight of my own corruption I do not rise to more perfect
things.
    How extremely necessary to me, O Lord, Your grace is to begin
any good deed, to carry it on and bring it to completion! For
without grace I can do nothing, but with its strength I can do all
things in You. O Grace truly heavenly, without which our merits
are nothing and no gifts of nature are to be esteemed!
    Before You, O Lord, no arts or riches, no beauty or strength,
no wit or intelligence avail without grace. For the gifts of
nature are common to good and bad alike, but the peculiar gift of
Your elect is grace or love, and those who are signed with it are
held worthy of everlasting life. So excellent is this grace that
without it no gift of prophecy or of miracles, no meditation be it
ever so exalted, can be considered anything. Not even faith or
hope or other virtues are acceptable to You without charity and
grace.
    O most blessed grace, which makes the poor in spirit rich in
virtues, which renders him who is rich in many good things humble
of heart, come, descend upon me, fill me quickly with your
consolation lest my soul faint with weariness and dryness of mind.
    Let me find grace in Your sight, I beg, Lord, for Your grace
is enough for me, even though I obtain none of the things which
nature desires. If I am tempted and afflicted with many
tribulations, I will fear no evils while Your grace is with me.
This is my strength. This will give me counsel and help. This is
more powerful than all my enemies and wiser than all the wise.
This is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the
light of the heart, the consoler in anguish, the banisher of
sorrow, the expeller of fear, the nourisher of devotion, the
producer of tears. What am I without grace, but dead wood, a
useless branch, fit only to be cast away?
    Let Your grace, therefore, go before me and follow me, O
Lord, and make me always intent upon good works, through Jesus
Christ, Your Son.

                  The Fifty-Sixth Chapter

        We Ought to Deny Ourselves and Imitate Christ
                  Through Bearing the Cross

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, the more you depart from yourself, the more you will be
able to enter into Me. As the giving up of exterior things brings
interior peace, so the forsaking of self unites you to God. I will
have you learn perfect surrender to My will, without contradiction
or complaint.
    Follow Me. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the
Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing.
Without the Life, there is no living. I am the Way which you must
follow, the Truth which you must believe, the Life for which you
must hope. I am the inviolable Way, the infallible Truth, the
unending Life. I am the Way that is straight, the supreme Truth,
the Life that is true, the blessed, the uncreated Life. If you
abide in My Way you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make
you free, and you shall attain life everlasting.
    If you wish to enter into life, keep My commandments. If you
will know the truth, believe in Me. If you will be perfect, sell
all. If you will be My disciple, deny yourself. If you will
possess the blessed life, despise this present life. If you will
be exalted in heaven, humble yourself on earth. If you wish to
reign with Me, carry the Cross with Me. For only the servants of
the Cross find the life of blessedness and of true light.

                        The Disciple

    Lord Jesus, because Your way is narrow and despised by the
world, grant that I may despise the world and imitate You. For the
servant is not greater than his Lord, nor the disciple above the
Master. Let Your servant be trained in Your life, for there is my
salvation and true holiness. Whatever else I read or hear does not
fully refresh or delight me.

                    The Voice of Christ

    My child, now that you know these things and have read them
all, happy will you be if you do them. He who has My commandments
and keeps them, he it is that loves Me. And I will love him and
will show Myself to him, and will bring it about that he will sit
down with Me in My Father’s Kingdom.

                        The Disciple

    Lord Jesus, as You have said, so be it, and what You have
promised, let it be my lot to win. I have received the cross, from
Your hand I have received it. I will carry it, carry it even unto
death as You have laid it upon me. Truly, the life of a good
religious man is a cross, but it leads to paradise. We have begun
— we may not go back, nor may we leave off.
    Take courage, brethren, let us go forward together and Jesus
will be with us. For Jesus’ sake we have taken this cross. For
Jesus’ sake let us persevere with it. He will be our help as He is
also our leader and guide. Behold, our King goes before us and
will fight for us. Let us follow like men. Let no man fear any
terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle. Let
us not suffer our glory to be blemished by fleeing from the Cross.

                  The Fifty-Seventh Chapter

  A Man Should Not Be Too Downcast When He Falls Into Defects

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, patience and humility in adversity are more pleasing to
Me than much consolation and devotion when things are going well.
    Why are you saddened by some little thing said against you?
Even if it had been more you ought not to have been affected. But
now let it pass. It is not the first, nor is it anything new, and
if you live long it will not be the last.
    You are manly enough so long as you meet no opposition. You
give good advice to others, and you know how to strengthen them
with words, but when unexpected tribulation comes to your door,
you fail both in counsel and in strength. Consider your great
weakness, then, which you experience so often in small matters.
Yet when these and like trials happen, they happen for your good.
    Put it out of your heart as best you know how, and if it has
touched you, still do not let it cast you down or confuse you for
long. Bear it patiently at least, if you cannot bear it
cheerfully. Even though you bear it unwillingly, and are indignant
at it, restrain yourself and let no ill-ordered words pass your
lips at which the weak might be scandalized. The storm that is now
aroused will soon be quieted and your inward grief will be
sweetened by returning grace. “I yet live,” says the Lord, “ready
to help you and to console you more and more, if you trust in Me
and call devoutly upon Me.”
    Remain tranquil and prepare to bear still greater trials. All
is not lost even though you be troubled oftener or tempted more
grievously. You are a man, not God. You are flesh, not an angel.
How can you possibly expect to remain always in the same state of
virtue when the angels in heaven and the first man in paradise
failed to do so? I am He Who rescues the afflicted and brings to
My divinity those who know their own weakness.

                        The Disciple

    Blessed be Your words, O Lord, sweeter to my mouth than honey
and the honeycomb. What would I do in such great trials and
anxieties, if You did not strengthen me with Your holy words? If I
may but attain to the haven of salvation, what does it matter what
or how much I suffer? Grant me a good end. Grant me a happy
passage out of this world. Remember me, my God, and lead me by the
right way into Your kingdom.

                  The Fifty-Eighth Chapter

        High Matters and the Hidden Judgments of God
                  Are Not to Be Scrutinized

                    The Voice of Christ

MY CHILD, beware of discussing high matters and God’s hidden
judgments — why this person is so forsaken and why that one is
favored with so great a grace, or why one man is so afflicted and
another so highly exalted. Such things are beyond all human
understanding and no reason or disputation can fathom the
judgments of God.
    When the enemy puts such suggestions in your mind, therefore,
or when some curious persons raise questions about them, answer
with the prophet: “Thou art just, O Lord, and righteous are Thy
judgments”;[40] and this: “The judgments of the Lord are true and
wholly righteous.”[41] My judgments are to be feared, not
discussed, because they are incomprehensible to the understanding
of men.
    In like manner, do not inquire or dispute about the merits of
the saints, as to which is more holy, or which shall be greater in
the kingdom of heaven. Such things often breed strife and useless
contentions. They nourish pride and vainglory, whence arise envy
and quarrels, when one proudly tries to exalt one saint and the
other another. A desire to know and pry into such matters brings
forth no fruit. On the contrary, it displeases the saints, because
I am the God, not of dissension, but of peace — of that peace
which consists in true humility rather than in self-exaltation.
    Some are drawn by the ardor of their love with greater
affection to these saints or to those, but this affection is human
and not divine. I am He who made all the saints. I gave them
grace: I brought them to glory. I know the merits of each of them.
I came before them in the blessings of My sweetness. I knew My
beloved ones before the ages. I chose them out of the world —
they did not choose Me. I called them by grace, I drew them on by
mercy. I led them safely through various temptations. I poured
into them glorious consolations. I gave them perseverance and I
crowned their patience. I know the first and the last. I embrace
them all with love inestimable. I am to be praised in all My
saints. I am to be blessed above all things, and honored in each
of those whom I have exalted and predestined so gloriously without
any previous merits of their own.
    He who despises one of the least of mine, therefore, does no
honor to the greatest, for both the small and the great I made.
And he who disparages one of the saints disparages Me also and all
others in the kingdom of heaven. They are all one through the bond
of charity. They have the same thought and the same will, and they
mutually love one another; but, what is a much greater thing, they
love Me more than themselves or their own merits. Rapt above
themselves, and drawn beyond love of self, they are entirely
absorbed in love of Me, in Whom they rest. There is nothing that
can draw them away or depress them, for they who are filled with
eternal truth burn with the fire of unquenchable love.
    Therefore, let carnal and sensual men, who know only how to
love their own selfish joys, forbear to dispute about the state of
God’s saints. Such men take away and add according to their own
inclinations and not as it pleases the Eternal Truth. In many this
is sheer ignorance, especially in those who are but little
enlightened and can rarely love anyone with a purely spiritual
love. They are still strongly drawn by natural affection and human
friendship to one person or another, and on their behavior in such
things here below are based their imaginings of heavenly things.
But there is an incomparable distance between the things which the
imperfect imagine and those which enlightened men contemplate
through revelation from above.
    Be careful, then, My child, of treating matters beyond your
knowledge out of curiosity. Let it rather be your business and aim
to be found, even though the least, in the kingdom of God. For
though one were to know who is more holy than another, or who is
greater in the kingdom of heaven, of what value would this
knowledge be to him unless out of it he should humble himself
before Me and should rise up in greater praise of My name?
    The man who thinks of the greatness of his own sins and the
littleness of his virtues, and of the distance between himself and
the perfection of the saints, acts much more acceptably to God
than the one who argues about who is greater or who is less. It is
better to invoke the saints with devout prayers and tears, and
with a humble mind to beg their glorious aid, than to search with
vain inquisitiveness into their secrets.
    The saints are well and perfectly contented if men know how
to content themselves and cease their useless discussions. They do
not glory in their own merits, for they attribute no good to
themselves but all to Me, because out of My infinite charity I
gave all to them. They are filled with such love of God and with
such overflowing joy, that no glory is wanting to them and they
can lack no happiness. All the saints are so much higher in glory
as they are more humble in themselves; nearer to Me, and more
beloved by Me. Therefore, you find it written that they cast their
crowns before God, and fell down upon their faces before the Lamb,
and adored Him Who lives forever.
    Many ask who is the greater in the kingdom of heaven when
they do not know whether they themselves shall be worthy of being
numbered among its least. It is a great thing to be even the least
in heaven where all are great because all shall be called, and
shall be, the children of God. The least shall be as a thousand,
and the sinner of a hundred years shall die. For when the
disciples asked who should be greater in the kingdom of heaven
they heard this response: “Unless you be converted and become as
little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, he
is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.”[42]
    Woe to those, therefore, who disdain to humble themselves
willingly with the little children, for the low gate of the
heavenly kingdom will not permit them to enter. Woe also to the
rich who have their consolations here, for when the poor enter
into God’s kingdom, they will stand outside lamenting. Rejoice,
you humble, and exult, you poor, for the kingdom of God is yours,
if only you walk in the truth.
—–
[40] Ps. 118:137.
[41] Ps. 18:10.
[42] Matt. 18:3, 4.

                  The Fifty-Ninth Chapter

      All Hope and Trust Are to Be Fixed In God Alone

                        The Disciple

WHAT, Lord, is the trust which I have in this life, or what is my
greatest comfort among all the things that appear under heaven? Is
it not You, O Lord, my God, Whose mercies are without number?
Where have I ever fared well but for You? Or how could things go
badly when You were present? I had rather be poor for Your sake
than rich without You. I prefer rather to wander on the earth with
You than to possess heaven without You. Where You are there is
heaven, and where You are not are death and hell. You are my
desire and therefore I must cry after You and sigh and pray. In
none can I fully trust to help me in my necessities, but in You
alone, my God. You are my hope. You are my confidence. You are my
consoler, most faithful in every need.
    All seek their own interests. You, however, place my
salvation and my profit first, and turn all things to my good.
Even though exposing me to various temptations and hardships, You
Who are accustomed to prove Your loved ones in a thousand ways,
order all this for my good. You ought not to be loved or praised
less in this trial than if You had filled me with heavenly
consolations.
    In You, therefore, O Lord God, I place all my hope and my
refuge. On You I cast all my troubles and anguish, because
whatever I have outside of You I find to be weak and unstable. It
will not serve me to have many friends, nor will powerful helpers
be able to assist me, nor prudent advisers to give useful answers,
nor the books of learned men to console, nor any precious
substance to win my freedom, nor any place, secret and beautiful
though it be, to shelter me, if You Yourself do not assist,
comfort, console, instruct, and guard me. For all things which
seem to be for our peace and happiness are nothing when You are
absent, and truly confer no happiness.
    You, indeed, are the fountain of all good, the height of
life, the depth of all that can be spoken. To trust in You above
all things is the strongest comfort of Your servants.
    My God, the Father of mercies, to You I look, in You I trust.
Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly benediction, so that it
may become Your holy dwelling and the seat of Your eternal glory.
And in this temple of Your dignity let nothing be found that might
offend Your majesty. In Your great goodness, and in the multitude
of Your mercies, look upon me and listen to the prayer of Your
poor servant exiled from You in the region of the shadow of death.
Protect and preserve the soul of Your poor servant among the many
dangers of this corruptible life, and direct him by Your
accompanying grace, through the ways of peace, to the land of
everlasting light.
   

                          BOOK FOUR

              AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION

                    The Voice of Christ

COME to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will
refresh you.[43] The bread which I will give is My Flesh, for the
life of the world.[44] Take you and eat: this is My Body, which
shall be delivered for you. Do this for the commemoration of
Me.[45] He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in
Me, and I in him.[46] The words that I have spoken to you are
spirit and life.”[47]
—–
[43] Matt. 11:28.
[44] John 6:52.
[45] 1 Cor. 11:24.
[46] John 6:57.
[47] John 6:64.

                      The First Chapter

  The Great Reverence With Which We Should Receive Christ

                        The Disciple

THESE are all Your words, O Christ, eternal Truth, though they
were not all spoken at one time nor written together in one place.
And because they are Yours and true, I must accept them all with
faith and gratitude. They are Yours and You have spoken them; they
are mine also because You have spoken them for my salvation.
Gladly I accept them from Your lips that they may be the more
deeply impressed in my heart.
    Words of such tenderness, so full of sweetness and love,
encourage me; but my sins frighten me and an unclean conscience
thunders at me when approaching such great mysteries as these. The
sweetness of Your words invites me, but the multitude of my vices
oppresses me.
    You command me to approach You confidently if I wish to have
part with You, and to receive the food of immortality if I desire
to obtain life and glory everlasting.
    “Come to me,” You say, “all you that labor and are burdened,
and I will refresh you.”[48]
    Oh, how sweet and kind to the ear of the sinner is the word
by which You, my Lord God, invite the poor and needy to receive
Your most holy Body! Who am I, Lord, that I should presume to
approach You? Behold, the heaven of heavens cannot contain You,
and yet You say: “Come, all of you, to Me.”
    What means this most gracious honor and this friendly
invitation? How shall I dare to come, I who am conscious of no
good on which to presume? How shall I lead You into my house, I
who have so often offended in Your most kindly sight? Angels and
archangels revere You, the holy and the just fear You, and You
say: “Come to Me: all of you!” If You, Lord, had not said it, who
would have believed it to be true? And if You had not commanded,
who would dare approach?
    Behold, Noah, a just man, worked a hundred years building the
ark that he and a few others might be saved; how, then, can I
prepare myself in one hour to receive with reverence the Maker of
the world?
    Moses, Your great servant and special friend, made an ark of
incorruptible wood which he covered with purest gold wherein to
place the tables of Your law; shall I, a creature of corruption,
dare so easily to receive You, the Maker of law and the Giver of
life?
    Solomon, the wisest of the kings of Israel, spent seven years
building a magnificent temple in praise of Your name, and
celebrated its dedication with a feast of eight days. He offered a
thousand victims in Your honor and solemnly bore the Ark of the
Covenant with trumpeting and jubilation to the place prepared for
it; and I, unhappy and poorest of men, how shall I lead You into
my house, I who scarcely can spend a half-hour devoutly — would
that I could spend even that as I ought!
    O my God, how hard these men tried to please You! Alas, how
little is all that I do! How short the time I spend in preparing
for Communion! I am seldom wholly recollected, and very seldom,
indeed, entirely free from distraction. Yet surely in the presence
of Your life-giving Godhead no unbecoming thought should arise and
no creature possess my heart, for I am about to receive as my
guest, not an angel, but the very Lord of angels.
    Very great, too, is the difference between the Ark of the
Covenant with its treasures and Your most pure Body with its
ineffable virtues, between these sacrifices of the law which were
but figures of things to come and the true offering of Your Body
which was the fulfillment of all ancient sacrifices.
    Why, then, do I not long more ardently for Your adorable
presence? Why do I not prepare myself with greater care to receive
Your sacred gifts, since those holy patriarchs and prophets of
old, as well as kings and princes with all their people, have
shown such affectionate devotion for the worship of God?
    The most devout King David danced before the ark of God with
all his strength as he recalled the benefits once bestowed upon
his fathers. He made musical instruments of many kinds. He
composed psalms and ordered them sung with joy. He himself often
played upon the harp when moved by the grace of the Holy Ghost. He
taught the people of Israel to praise God with all their hearts
and to raise their voices every day to bless and glorify Him. If
such great devotion flourished in those days and such ceremony in
praise of God before the Ark of the Covenant, what great devotion
ought not I and all Christian people now show in the presence of
this Sacrament; what reverence in receiving the most excellent
Body of Christ!
    Many people travel far to honor the relics of the saints,
marveling at their wonderful deeds and at the building of
magnificent shrines. They gaze upon and kiss the sacred relics
encased in silk and gold; and behold, You are here present before
me on the altar, my God, Saint of saints, Creator of men, and Lord
of angels!
    Often in looking at such things, men are moved by curiosity,
by the novelty of the unseen, and they bear away little fruit for
the amendment of their lives, especially when they go from place
to place lightly and without true contrition. But here in the
Sacrament of the altar You are wholly present, my God, the man
Christ Jesus, whence is obtained the full realization of eternal
salvation, as often as You are worthily and devoutly received. To
this, indeed, we are not drawn by levity, or curiosity, or
sensuality, but by firm faith, devout hope, and sincere love.
    O God, hidden Creator of the world, how wonderfully You deal
with us! How sweetly and graciously You dispose of things with
Your elect to whom You offer Yourself to be received in this
Sacrament! This, indeed, surpasses all understanding. This in a
special manner attracts the hearts of the devout and inflames
their love. Your truly faithful servants, who give their whole
life to amendment, often receive in Holy Communion the great grace
of devotion and love of virtue.
    Oh, the wonderful and hidden grace of this Sacrament which
only the faithful of Christ understand, which unbelievers and
slaves of sin cannot experience! In it spiritual grace is
conferred, lost virtue restored, and the beauty, marred by sin,
repaired. At times, indeed, its grace is so great that, from the
fullness of the devotion, not only the mind but also the frail
body feels filled with greater strength.
    Nevertheless, our neglect and coldness is much to be deplored
and pitied, when we are not moved to receive with greater fervor
Christ in Whom is the hope and merit of all who will be saved. He
is our sanctification and redemption. He is our consolation in
this life and the eternal joy of the blessed in heaven. This being
true, it is lamentable that many pay so little heed to the
salutary Mystery which fills the heavens with joy and maintains
the whole universe in being.
    Oh, the blindness and the hardness of the heart of man that
does not show more regard for so wonderful a gift, but rather
falls into carelessness from its daily use! If this most holy
Sacrament were celebrated in only one place and consecrated by
only one priest in the whole world, with what great desire, do you
think, would men be attracted to that place, to that priest of
God, in order to witness the celebration of the divine Mysteries!
But now there are many priests and Mass is offered in many places,
that God’s grace and love for men may appear the more clearly as
the Sacred Communion is spread more widely through the world.
    Thanks be to You, Jesus, everlasting Good Shepherd, Who have
seen fit to feed us poor exiled people with Your precious Body and
Blood, and to invite us with words from Your own lips to partake
of these sacred Mysteries: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are
burdened, and I will refresh you.”
—–
[48] Matt. 11:28.

                      The Second Chapter

God’s Great Goodness and Love is Shown to Man in This Sacrament

                        The Disciple

TRUSTING in Your goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I come as one
sick to the Healer, as one hungry and thirsty to the Fountain of
life, as one in need to the King of heaven, a servant to his Lord,
a creature to his Creator, a soul in desolation to my gentle
Comforter.
    But whence is this to me, that You should come to me? Who am
I that You should offer Yourself to me? How dares the sinner to
appear in Your presence, and You, how do You condescend to come to
the sinner? You know Your servant, and You know that he has
nothing good in him that You should grant him this.
    I confess, therefore, my unworthiness. I acknowledge Your
goodness. I praise Your mercy, and give thanks for Your immense
love. For it is because of Yourself that You do it, not for any
merit of mine; so that Your goodness may be better known to me,
that greater love may be aroused and more perfect humility born in
me. Since, then, this pleases You and You have so willed it, Your
graciousness pleases me also. Oh, that my sinfulness may not stand
in the way!
    O most sweet and merciful Jesus, what great reverence,
thanks, and never-ending praise are due to You for our taking of
Your sacred body, whose dignity no man can express!
    But on what shall I think in this Communion, this approach to
my Lord, Whom I can never reverence as I ought, and yet Whom I
desire devoutly to receive? What thought better, more helpful to
me than to humble myself entirely in Your presence and exalt Your
infinite goodness above myself?
    I praise You, my God, and extol You forever! I despise myself
and cast myself before You in the depths of my unworthiness.
Behold, You are the Holy of holies, and I the scum of sinners!
Behold, You bow down to me who am not worthy to look up to You!
Behold, You come to me! You will to be with me! You invite me to
Your banquet! You desire to give me heavenly food, the Bread of
Angels to eat, none other than Yourself, the living Bread Who are
come down from heaven and give life to the world.
    Behold, whence love proceeds! What condescension shines
forth! What great thanks and praise are due You for these gifts!
Oh, how salutary and profitable was Your design in this
institution! How sweet and pleasant the banquet when You gave
Yourself as food!
    How admirable is Your work, O Lord! How great Your power! How
infallible Your truth! For You spoke and all things were made, and
this, which You commanded, was done. It is a wonderful thing,
worthy of faith, overpowering human understanding, that You, O
Lord, my God, true God and man, are contained whole and entire
under the appearance of a little bread and wine, and without being
consumed are eaten by him who receives You!
    You, the Lord of the universe, Who have need of nothing, have
willed to dwell in us by means of Your Sacrament. Keep my heart
and body clean, so that with a joyous and spotless conscience I
may be able often to celebrate Your Mysteries and to receive for
my eternal salvation what You have ordained and instituted for
Your special honor and as an everlasting memorial.
    Rejoice, my soul, and give thanks to God for having left you
so noble a gift and so special a consolation in this valley of
tears. As often as you renew this Mystery and receive the Body of
Christ, so often do you enact the work of redemption and become a
sharer in all the merits of Christ, for the love of Christ never
grows less and the wealth of His mercy is never exhausted.
    Therefore, you should prepare yourself for it by constantly
renewing your heart and pondering deeply the great mystery of
salvation. As often as you celebrate or hear Mass, it should seem
as great, as new, as sweet to you as if on that very day Christ
became man in the womb of the Virgin, or, hanging on the Cross,
suffered and died for the salvation of man.

                      The Third Chapter

        It Is Profitable to Receive Communion Often

                        The Disciple

BEHOLD, I come to You, Lord, that I may prosper by Your gift and
be delighted at Your holy banquet which You, O God, in Your
sweetness have prepared for Your poor. Behold, all that I can or
ought to desire is in You. You are my salvation and my redemption,
my hope and strength, my honor and glory.
    Gladden, then, this day the soul of Your servant because I
have raised my heart to You, O Lord Jesus. I long to receive You
now, devoutly and reverently. I desire to bring You into my house
that, with Zacheus, I may merit Your blessing and be numbered
among the children of Abraham.
    My soul longs for Your Body; my heart desires to be united
with You. Give me Yourself — it is enough; for without You there
is no consolation. Without You I cannot exist, without Your
visitation I cannot live. I must often come to You, therefore, and
receive the strength of my salvation lest, deprived of this
heavenly food, I grow weak on the way. Once, most merciful Jesus,
while preaching to the people and healing their many ills, You
said: “I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the
way.”[49] Deal with me likewise, You Who have left Yourself in
this Sacrament for the consolation of the faithful. You are sweet
refreshment to the soul, and he who eats You worthily will be a
sharer in, and an heir to, eternal glory.
    It is indeed necessary for me, who fall and sin so often, who
so quickly become lax and weak, to renew, cleanse, and inflame
myself through frequent prayer, confession, and the holy reception
of Your Body, lest perhaps by abstaining too long, I fall away
from my holy purpose. For from the days of his youth the senses of
man are prone to evil, and unless divine aid strengthens him, he
quickly falls deeper. But Holy Communion removes him from evil and
confirms him in good.
    If I am so often careless and lax when I celebrate or
communicate, what would happen if I did not receive this remedy
and seek so great a help? Although I am neither fit nor properly
disposed to celebrate every day, yet I will do my best at proper
times to receive the divine Mysteries and share in this great
grace. This, indeed, is the one chief consolation of the faithful
soul when separated from You by mortality, that often mindful of
her God, she receives her Beloved with devout recollection.
    Oh, wonderful condescension of Your affection toward us, that
You, the Lord God, Creator and Giver of life to all, should see
fit to come to a poor soul and to appease her hunger with all Your
divinity and humanity! O happy mind and blessed soul which
deserves to receive You, her Lord God, and in receiving You, is
filled with spiritual joy! How great a Master she entertains, what
a beloved guest she receives, how sweet a companion she welcomes,
how true a friend she gains, how beautiful and noble is the spouse
she embraces, beloved and desired above all things that can be
loved and desired! Let heaven and earth and all their treasures
stand silent before Your face, most sweetly Beloved, for whatever
glory and beauty they have is of Your condescending bounty, and
they cannot approach the beauty of Your name, Whose wisdom is
untold.
—–
[49] Matt. 15:32.

                    The Fourth Chapter

  Many Blessings Are Given Those Who Receive Communion Worthily

                        The Disciple

O LORD my God, favor Your servant with the blessings of Your
sweetness that I may merit to approach Your magnificent Sacrament
worthily and devoutly. Lift up my heart to You and take away from
me this heavy indolence. Visit me with Your saving grace that I
may in spirit taste Your sweetness which lies hidden in this
Sacrament like water in the depths of a spring. Enlighten my eyes
to behold this great Mystery, and give me strength to believe in
it with firm faith.
    For it is Your work, not the power of man, Your sacred
institution, not his invention. No man is able of himself to
comprehend and understand these things which surpass even the keen
vision of angels. How, then, shall I, an unworthy sinner who am
but dust and ashes, be able to fathom and understand so great a
mystery?
    O Lord, I come to You at Your command in simplicity of heart,
in good, firm faith, with hope and reverence, and I truly believe
that You are present here in this Sacrament, God and man. It is
Your will that I receive You and unite myself to You in love.
Wherefore, I beg Your mercy and ask that special grace be given
me, that I may be wholly dissolved in You and filled with Your
love, no longer to concern myself with exterior consolations. For
this, the highest and most worthy Sacrament, is the health of soul
and body, the cure of every spiritual weakness. In it my defects
are remedied, my passions restrained, and temptations overcome or
allayed. In it greater grace is infused, growing virtue is
nourished, faith confirmed, hope strengthened, and charity fanned
into flame.
    You, my God, the protector of my soul, the strength of human
weakness, and the giver of every interior consolation, have given
and still do often give in this Sacrament great gifts to Your
loved ones who communicate devoutly. Moreover, You give them many
consolations amid their numerous troubles and lift them from the
depths of dejection to the hope of Your protection. With new
graces You cheer and lighten them within, so that they who are
full of anxiety and without affection before Communion may find
themselves changed for the better after partaking of this heavenly
food and drink.
    Likewise, You so deal with Your elect that they may truly
acknowledge and plainly experience how weak they are in themselves
and what goodness and grace they obtain from You. For though in
themselves they are cold, obdurate, and wanting in devotion,
through You they become fervent, cheerful, and devout.
    Who, indeed, can humbly approach the fountain of sweetness
and not carry away a little of it? Or who, standing before a
blazing fire does not feel some of its heat? You are a fountain
always filled with superabundance! You are a fire, ever burning,
that never fails!
    Therefore, while I may not exhaust the fullness of the
fountain or drink to satiety, yet will I put my lips to the mouth
of this heavenly stream that from it I may receive at least some
small drop to refresh my thirst and not wither away. And if I
cannot as yet be all heavenly or as full of fire as the cherubim
and seraphim, yet I will try to become more devout and prepare my
heart so that I may gather some small spark of divine fire from
the humble reception of this life-giving Sacrament.
    Whatever is wanting in me, good Jesus, Savior most holy, do
You in Your kindness and grace supply for me, You Who have been
pleased to call all unto You, saying: “Come to Me all you that
labor and are burdened and I will refresh you.”
    I, indeed, labor in the sweat of my brow. I am torn with
sorrow of heart. I am laden with sin, troubled with temptations,
enmeshed and oppressed by many evil passions, and there is none to
help me, none to deliver and save me but You, my Lord God and
Savior, to Whom I entrust myself and all I have, that You may
protect me and lead me to eternal life. For the honor and glory of
Your name receive me, You Who have prepared Your Body and Blood as
food and drink for me. Grant, O Lord, my God and Savior, that by
approaching Your Mysteries frequently, the zeal of my devotion may
increase.

                      The Fifth Chapter

    The Dignity of the Sacrament and of the Priesthood

                    The Voice of Christ

HAD you the purity of an angel and the sanctity of St. John the
Baptist, you would not be worthy to receive or administer this
Sacrament. It is not because of any human meriting that a man
consecrates and administers the Sacrament of Christ, and receives
the Bread of Angels for his food. Great is the Mystery and great
the dignity of priests to whom is given that which has not been
granted the angels. For priests alone, rightly ordained in the
Church, have power to celebrate Mass and consecrate the Body of
Christ.
    The priest, indeed, is the minister of God, using the word of
God according to His command and appointment. God, moreover, is
there — the chief Author and invisible Worker to Whom all is
subject as He wills, to Whom all are obedient as He commands.
    In this most excellent Sacrament, therefore, you ought to
believe in God rather than in your own senses or in any visible
sign, and thus, with fear and reverence draw near to such a work
as this. Look to yourself and see whose ministry has been given
you through the imposition of the bishop’s hands.
    Behold, you have been made a priest, consecrated to celebrate
Mass! See to it now that you offer sacrifice to God faithfully and
devoutly at proper times, and that you conduct yourself
blamelessly. You have not made your burden lighter. Instead, you
are now bound by stricter discipline and held to more perfect
sanctity.
    A priest ought to be adorned with all virtues and show the
example of a good life to others. His way lies not among the
vulgar and common habits of men but with the angels in heaven and
the perfect men on earth. A priest clad in the sacred vestments
acts in Christ’s place, that he may pray to God both for himself
and for all people in a suppliant and humble manner. He has before
and behind him the sign of the Lord’s cross that he may always
remember the Passion of Christ. It is before him, on the chasuble,
that he may look closely upon the footsteps of Christ and try to
follow them fervently. It is behind him — he is signed with it —
that he may gladly suffer for God any adversities inflicted by
others.
    He wears the cross before him that he may mourn his own sins,
behind him, that in pity he may mourn the sins of others, and know
that he is appointed to stand between God and the sinner, never to
become weary of prayer and the holy offering until it is granted
him to obtain grace and mercy.
    When the priest celebrates Mass, he honors God, gladdens the
angels, strengthens the Church, helps the living, brings rest to
the departed, and wins for himself a share in all good things.

                      The Sixth Chapter

    An Inquiry on the Proper Thing to Do Before Communion

                        The Disciple

WHEN I consider Your dignity, O Lord, and my own meanness, I
become very much frightened and confused. For if I do not receive,
I fly from Life, and if I intrude unworthily, I incur Your
displeasure. What, then, shall I do, my God, my Helper and Adviser
in necessity? Teach me the right way. Place before me some short
exercise suitable for Holy Communion, for it is good to know in
what manner I ought to make my heart ready devoutly and fervently
for You, to receive Your Sacrament for the good of my soul, or
even to celebrate so great and divine a sacrifice.

                    The Seventh Chapter

  The Examination of Conscience and the Resolution to Amend

                    The Voice of Christ

ABOVE all, God’s priest should approach the celebration and
reception of this Sacrament with the deepest humility of heart and
suppliant reverence, with complete faith and the pious intention
of giving honor to God.
    Carefully examine your conscience, then. Cleanse and purify
it to the best of your power by true contrition and humble
confession, that you may have no burden, know of no remorse, and
thus be free to come near. Let the memory of all your sins grieve
you, and especially lament and bewail your daily transgressions.
Then if time permits, confess to God in the secret depths of your
heart all the miseries your passions have caused.
    Lament and grieve because you are still so worldly, so
carnal, so passionate and unmortified, so full of roving lust, so
careless in guarding the external senses, so often occupied in
many vain fancies, so inclined to exterior things and so heedless
of what lies within, so prone to laughter and dissipation and so
indisposed to sorrow and tears, so inclined to ease and the
pleasures of the flesh and so cool to austerity and zeal, so
curious to hear what is new and to see the beautiful and so slow
to embrace humiliation and dejection, so covetous of abundance, so
niggardly in giving and so tenacious in keeping, so inconsiderate
in speech, so reluctant in silence, so undisciplined in character,
so disordered in action, so greedy at meals, so deaf to the Word
of God, so prompt to rest and so slow to labor, so awake to empty
conversation, so sleepy in keeping sacred vigils and so eager to
end them, so wandering in your attention, so careless in saying
the office, so lukewarm in celebrating, so heartless in receiving,
so quickly distracted, so seldom fully recollected, so quickly
moved to anger, so apt to take offense at others, so prone to
judge, so severe in condemning, so happy in prosperity and so weak
in adversity, so often making good resolutions and carrying so few
of them into action.
    When you have confessed and deplored these and other faults
with sorrow and great displeasure because of your weakness, be
firmly determined to amend your life day by day and to advance in
goodness. Then, with complete resignation and with your entire
will offer yourself upon the altar of your heart as an everlasting
sacrifice to the honor of My name, by entrusting with faith both
body and soul to My care, that thus you may be considered worthy
to draw near and offer sacrifice to God and profitably receive the
Sacrament of My Body. For there is no more worthy offering, no
greater satisfaction for washing away sin than to offer yourself
purely and entirely to God with the offering of the Body of Christ
in Mass and Communion.
    If a man does what he can and is truly penitent, however
often he comes to Me for grace and pardon, “As I live, saith the
Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the
wicked turn from his way and live”;[50] I will no longer remember
his sins, but all will be forgiven him.
—–
[50] Ezek. 33:11.

                    The Eighth Chapter

      The Offering of Christ on the Cross; Our Offering

                    The Voice of Christ

AS I offered Myself willingly to God the Father for your sins with
hands outstretched and body naked on the cross, so that nothing
remained in Me that had not become a complete sacrifice to appease
the divine wrath, so ought you to be willing to offer yourself to
Me day by day in the Mass as a pure and holy oblation, together
with all your faculties and affections, with as much inward
devotion as you can.
    What more do I ask than that you give yourself entirely to
Me? I care not for anything else you may give Me, for I seek not
your gift but you. Just as it would not be enough for you to have
everything if you did not have Me, so whatever you give cannot
please Me if you do not give yourself.
    Offer yourself to Me, therefore, and give yourself entirely
for God — your offering will be accepted. Behold, I offered
Myself wholly to the Father for you, I even gave My whole Body and
Blood for food that I might be all yours, and you Mine forever.
    But if you rely upon self, and do not offer your free will to
Mine, your offering will be incomplete and the union between us
imperfect. Hence, if you desire to attain grace and freedom of
heart, let the free offering of yourself into the hands of God
precede your every action. This is why so few are inwardly free
and enlightened — they know not how to renounce themselves
entirely.
    My word stands: “Everyone of you that doth not renounce all
that he possesseth, cannot be My disciple.”[51]
    If, therefore, you wish to be My disciple, offer yourself to
Me with all your heart.
—–
[51] Luke 14:33.

                      The Ninth Chapter

    We Should Offer Ourselves and All That We Have to God,
                      Praying for All

                        The Disciple

ALL things in heaven and on earth, O Lord, are Yours. I long to
give myself to You as a voluntary offering to remain forever
Yours. With a sincere heart I offer myself this day to You, O
Lord, to Your eternal service, to Your homage, and as a sacrifice
of everlasting praise. Receive me with this holy offering of Your
precious Body which also I make to You this day, in the presence
of angels invisibly attending, for my salvation and that of all
Your people.
    O Lord, upon Your altar of expiation, I offer You all the
sins and offenses I have committed in Your presence and in the
presence of Your holy angels, from the day when I first could sin
until this hour, that You may burn and consume them all in the
fire of Your love, that You may wipe away their every stain,
cleanse my conscience of every fault, and restore to me Your grace
which I lost in sin by granting full pardon for all and receiving
me mercifully with the kiss of peace.
    What can I do for all my sins but humbly confess and lament
them, and implore Your mercy without ceasing? In Your mercy, I
implore You, hear me when I stand before You, my God. All my sins
are most displeasing to me. I wish never to commit them again. I
am sorry for them and will be sorry as long as I live. I am ready
to do penance and make satisfaction to the utmost of my power.
    Forgive me, O God, forgive me my sins for Your Holy Name.
Save my soul which You have redeemed by Your most precious Blood.
See, I place myself at Your mercy. I commit myself to Your hands.
Deal with me according to Your goodness, not according to my
malicious and evil ways.
    I offer to You also all the good I have, small and imperfect
though it be, that You may make it more pure and more holy, that
You may be pleased with it, render it acceptable to Yourself, and
perfect it more and more, and finally that You may lead me, an
indolent and worthless creature, to a good and happy end.
    I offer You also all the holy desires of Your devoted
servants, the needs of my parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and
all who are dear to me; of all who for Your sake have been kind to
me or to others; of all who have wished and asked my prayers and
Masses for them and theirs, whether they yet live in the flesh or
are now departed from this world, that they may all experience the
help of Your grace, the strength of Your consolation, protection
from dangers, deliverance from punishment to come, and that, free
from all evils, they may gladly give abundant thanks to You.
    I offer You also these prayers and the Sacrifice of
Propitiation for those especially who have in any way injured,
saddened, or slandered me, inflicted loss or pain upon me, and
also for all those whom I have at any time saddened, disturbed,
offended, and abused by word or deed, willfully or in ignorance.
May it please You to forgive us all alike our sins and offenses
against one another.
    Take away from our hearts, O Lord, all suspicion, anger,
wrath, contention, and whatever may injure charity and lessen
brotherly love. Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on those who ask
Your mercy, give grace to those who need it, and make us such that
we may be worthy to enjoy Your favor and gain eternal life.

                      The Tenth Chapter

            Do Not Lightly Forego Holy Communion

                    The Voice of Christ

YOU must often return to the source of grace and divine mercy, to
the fountain of goodness and perfect purity, if you wish to be
free from passion and vice, if you desire to be made stronger and
more watchful against all the temptations and deceits of the
devil.
    The enemy, knowing the great good and the healing power of
Holy Communion, tries as much as he can by every manner and means
to hinder and keep away the faithful and the devout. Indeed, there
are some who suffer the worst assaults of Satan when disposing
themselves to prepare for Holy Communion. As it is written in Job,
this wicked spirit comes among the sons of God to trouble them by
his wonted malice, to make them unduly fearful and perplexed, that
thus he may lessen their devotion or attack their faith to such an
extent that they perhaps either forego Communion altogether or
receive with little fervor.
    No attention, however, must be paid to his cunning wiles, no
matter how base and horrible — all his suggestions must be cast
back upon his head. The wretch is to be despised and scorned. Holy
Communion must not be passed by because of any assaults from him
or because of the commotion he may arouse.
    Oftentimes, also, too great solicitude for devotion and
anxiety about confession hinder a person. Do as wise men do. Cast
off anxiety and scruple, for it impedes the grace of God and
destroys devotion of the mind.
    Do not remain away from Holy Communion because of a small
trouble or vexation but go at once to confession and willingly
forgive all others their offenses. If you have offended anyone,
humbly seek pardon and God will readily forgive you.
    What good is it to delay confession for a long time or to put
off Holy Communion? Cleanse yourself at once, spit out the poison
quickly. Make haste to apply the remedy and you will find it
better than if you had waited a long time. If you put it off today
because of one thing, perhaps tomorrow a greater will occur to
you, and thus you will stay away from Communion for a long time
and become even more unfit.
    Shake off this heaviness and sloth as quickly as you can, for
there is no gain in much anxiety, in enduring long hours of
trouble, and in depriving yourself of the divine Mysteries because
of these daily disturbances. Yes, it is very hurtful to defer Holy
Communion long, for it usually brings on a lazy spiritual sleep.
    How sad that some dissolute and lax persons are willing to
postpone confession and likewise wish to defer Holy Communion,
lest they be forced to keep a stricter watch over themselves!
Alas, how little love and devotion have they who so easily put off
Holy Communion!
    How happy and acceptable to God is he who so lives, and keeps
his conscience so pure, as to be ready and well disposed to
communicate, even every day if he were permitted, and if he could
do so unnoticed.
    If, now and then, a man abstains by the grace of humility or
for a legitimate reason, his reverence is commendable, but if
laziness takes hold of him, he must arouse himself and do
everything in his power, for the Lord will quicken his desire
because of the good intention to which He particularly looks. When
he is indeed unable to come, he will always have the good will and
pious intention to communicate and thus he will not lose the fruit
of the Sacrament.
    Any devout person may at any hour on any day receive Christ
in spiritual communion profitably and without hindrance. Yet on
certain days and times appointed he ought to receive with
affectionate reverence the Body of his Redeemer in this Sacrament,
seeking the praise and honor of God rather than his own
consolation.
    For as often as he devoutly calls to mind the mystery and
passion of the Incarnate Christ, and is inflamed with love for
Him, he communicates mystically and is invisibly refreshed.
    He who prepares himself only when festivals approach or
custom demands, will often find himself unprepared. Blessed is he
who offers himself a sacrifice to the Lord as often as he
celebrates or communicates.
    Be neither too slow nor too fast in celebrating but follow
the good custom common to those among whom you are. You ought not
to cause others inconvenience or trouble, but observe the accepted
rule as laid down by superiors, and look to the benefit of others
rather than to your own devotion or inclination.

                    The Eleventh Chapter

          The Body of Christ and Sacred Scripture
            Are Most Necessary to a Faithful Soul

                        The Disciple

O MOST sweet Lord Jesus, how great is the happiness of the devout
soul that feasts upon You at Your banquet, where there is set
before her to be eaten no other food but Yourself alone, her only
Lover, most desired of all that her heart can desire!
    To me it would be happiness, indeed, to shed tears in Your
presence from the innermost depths of love, and like the pious
Magdalen to wash Your feet with them. But where now is this
devotion, this copious shedding of holy tears? Certainly in Your
sight, before Your holy angels, my whole heart ought to be
inflamed and weep for joy. For, hidden though You are beneath
another form, I have You truly present in the Sacrament.
    My eyes could not bear to behold You in Your own divine
brightness, nor could the whole world stand in the splendor of the
glory of Your majesty. In veiling Yourself in the Sacrament,
therefore, You have regard for my weakness.
    In truth, I possess and adore Him Whom the angels adore in
heaven — I as yet by faith, they face to face unveiled. I must be
content with the light of the true faith and walk in it until the
day of eternal brightness dawns and the shadow of figures passes
away. When, moreover, that which is perfect shall have come, the
need of sacraments shall cease, for the blessed in heavenly glory
need no healing sacrament. Rejoicing endlessly in the presence of
God, beholding His glory face to face, transformed from their own
brightness to the brightness of the ineffable Deity, they taste
the Word of God made flesh, as He was in the beginning and will
remain in eternity.
    Though mindful of these wonderful things, every spiritual
solace becomes wearisome to me because so long as I do not plainly
see the Lord in His glory, I consider everything I hear and see on
earth of little account.
    You are my witness, O God, that nothing can comfort me, no
creature give me rest but You, my God, Whom I desire to
contemplate forever. But this is not possible while I remain in
mortal life, and, therefore, I must be very patient and submit
myself to You in every desire.
    Even Your saints, O Lord, who now rejoice with You in the
kingdom of heaven, awaited the coming of Your glory with faith and
great patience while they lived. What they believed, I believe.
What they hoped for, I hope for, and whither they arrived, I trust
I shall come by Your grace. Meanwhile I will walk in faith,
strengthened by the example of the saints. I shall have, besides,
for comfort and for the guidance of my life, the holy Books, and
above all these, Your most holy Body for my special haven and
refuge.
    I feel there are especially necessary for me in this life two
things without which its miseries would be unbearable. Confined
here in this prison of the body I confess I need these two, food
and light. Therefore, You have given me in my weakness Your sacred
Flesh to refresh my soul and body, and You have set Your word as
the guiding light for my feet. Without them I could not live
aright, for the word of God is the light of my soul and Your
Sacrament is the Bread of Life.
    These also may be called the two tables, one here, one there,
in the treasure house of holy Church. One is the table of the holy
altar, having the holy Bread that is the precious Body of Christ.
The other is the table of divine law, containing holy doctrine
that teaches all the true faith and firmly leads them within the
veil, the Holy of holies.
    Thanks to You, Lord Jesus, Light of eternal light, for the
table of Your holy teaching which You have prepared for us by Your
servants, the prophets and Apostles and other learned men.
    Thanks to You, Creator and Redeemer of men, Who, to declare
Your love to all the world, have prepared a great supper in which
You have placed before us as food not the lamb, the type of
Yourself, but Your own most precious Body and Blood, making all
the faithful glad in Your sacred banquet, intoxicating them with
the chalice of salvation in which are all the delights of
paradise; and the holy angels feast with us but with more
happiness and sweetness.
    Oh, how great and honorable is the office of the priest, to
whom is given the consecration of the Lord of majesty in sacred
words, whose lips bless Him, whose hands hold Him, whose tongue
receives Him, and whose ministry it is to bring Him to others!
    Oh, how clean those hands should be, how pure the lips, how
sanctified the body, how immaculate the heart of the priest to
whom the Author of all purity so often comes. No word but what is
holy, none but what is good and profitable ought to come from the
lips of the priest who so often receives the Sacrament of Christ.
Single and modest should be the eyes accustomed to looking upon
the Body of Christ. Pure and lifted up to heaven the hands
accustomed to handle the Creator of heaven and earth. To priests
above all it is written in the law: “Be ye holy, for I, the Lord
your God, am holy.”
    Let Your grace, almighty God, assist us, that we who have
undertaken the office of the priesthood may serve You worthily and
devoutly in all purity and with a good conscience. And if we
cannot live as innocently as we ought, grant us at least to lament
duly the wrongs we have committed and in the spirit of humility
and the purpose of a good will to serve You more fervently in the
future.

                    The Twelfth Chapter

The Communicant Should Prepare Himself for Christ with Great Care

                    The Voice of Christ

I AM the Lover of purity, the Giver of all holiness. I seek a pure
heart and there is the place of My rest.
    Prepare for Me a large room furnished and I with My disciples
will keep the Pasch with you.
    If you wish that I come to you and remain with you, purge out
the old leaven and make clean the dwelling of your heart. Shut out
the whole world with all the din of its vices. Sit as the sparrow
lonely on the housetop, and think on your transgressions in
bitterness of soul.
    Everyone who loves prepares the best and most beautiful home
for his beloved, because the love of the one receiving his lover
is recognized thereby.
    But understand that you cannot by any merit of your own make
this preparation well enough, though you spend a year in doing it
and think of nothing else. It is only by My goodness and grace
that you are allowed to approach My table, as though a beggar were
invited to dinner by a rich man and he had nothing to offer in
return for the gift but to humble himself and give thanks.
    Do what you can and do that carefully. Receive the Body of
the Lord, your beloved God Who deigns to come to you, not out of
habit or necessity, but with fear, with reverence, and with love.
    I am He that called you. I ordered it done. I will supply
what you lack. Come and receive Me.
    When I grant the grace of devotion, give thanks to God, not
because you are worthy but because I have had mercy upon you. If
you have it not and feel rather dry instead, continue in prayer,
sigh and knock, and do not give up until you receive some crumb of
saving grace.
    You have need of Me. I do not need you. You do not come to
sanctify Me but I come to sanctify you and make you better. You
come to be sanctified and united with Me, to receive new grace and
to be aroused anew to amend. Do not neglect this grace, but
prepare your heart with all care, and bring into it your Beloved.
    Not only should you prepare devoutly before Communion, but
you should also carefully keep yourself in devotion after
receiving the Sacrament. The careful custody of yourself afterward
is no less necessary than the devout preparation before, for a
careful afterwatch is the best preparation for obtaining greater
grace. If a person lets his mind wander to external comforts, he
becomes quite indisposed.
    Beware of much talking. Remain in seclusion and enjoy your
God, for you have Him Whom all the world cannot take from you.
    I am He to Whom you should give yourself entirely, that from
now on you may live, not in yourself, but in Me, with all cares
cast away.

                    The Thirteenth Chapter

                With All Her Heart the Devout Soul
      Should Desire Union with Christ in the Sacrament

                        The Disciple

LET it be granted me to find You alone, O Christ, to open to You
my whole heart, to enjoy You as my soul desires, to be disturbed
by no one, to be moved and troubled by no creature, that You may
speak to me and I to You alone, as a lover speaks to his loved
one, and friend converses with friend.
    I pray for this, I desire this, that I may be completely
united to You and may withdraw my heart from all created things,
learning to relish the celestial and the eternal through Holy
Communion and the frequent celebration of Mass.
    Ah Lord God, when shall I be completely united to You and
absorbed by You, with self utterly forgotten? You in me and I in
You? Grant that we may remain so together. You in truth are my
Beloved, chosen from thousands, in Whom my soul is happy to dwell
all the days of her life. You are in truth my pledge of peace, in
Whom is the greatest peace and true rest, without Whom there is
toil and sorrow and infinite misery.
    You truly are the hidden God. Your counsel is not with the
wicked, and Your conversation is rather with the humble and the
simple.
    O how kind is Your spirit, Lord, Who in order to show Your
sweetness toward Your children, deign to feed them with the
sweetest of bread, bread come down from heaven! Surely there is no
other people so fortunate as to have their god near them, as You,
our God, are present everywhere to the faithful, to whom You give
Yourself to be eaten and enjoyed for their daily solace and the
raising of their hearts to heaven.
    Indeed, what other nation is so renowned as the Christian
peoples? What creature under heaven is so favored as the devout
soul to whom God comes, to feed her with His glorious Flesh? O
unspeakable grace! O wonderful condescension! O love beyond
measure, singularly bestowed upon man!
    What return shall I make to the Lord for this love, this
grace so boundless? There is nothing I can give more pleasing than
to offer my heart completely to my God, uniting it closely with
His. Then shall all my inner self be glad when my soul is
perfectly united with God. Then will He say to me: “If you will be
with Me, I will be with you.” And I will answer Him: “Deign, O
Lord, to remain with me. I will gladly be with You. This is my one
desire, that my heart may be united with You.”

                    The Fourteenth Chapter

    The Ardent Longing of Devout Men for the Body of Christ

                        The Disciple

HOW great is the abundance of Your kindness, O Lord, which You
have hidden from those who fear You!
    When I think how some devout persons come to Your Sacrament
with the greatest devotion and love, I am frequently ashamed and
confused that I approach Your altar and the table of Holy
Communion so coldly and indifferently; that I remain so dry and
devoid of heartfelt affection; that I am not completely inflamed
in Your presence, O my God, nor so strongly drawn and attracted as
many devout persons who, in their great desire for Communion and
intense heart love, could not restrain their tears but longed from
the depths of their souls and bodies to embrace You, the Fountain
of Life. These were able to appease and allay their hunger in no
other way than by receiving Your Body with all joy and spiritual
eagerness. The faith of these men was true and ardent —
convincing proof of Your sacred presence. They whose hearts burn
so ardently within them when Jesus lives with them truly know
their Lord in the breaking of bread.
    Such affection and devotion, such mighty love and zeal are
often far beyond me. Be merciful to me, O sweet, good, kind Jesus,
and grant me, Your poor suppliant, sometimes at least to feel in
Holy Communion a little of the tenderness of Your love, that my
faith may grow stronger, that my hope in Your goodness may
increase, and that charity, once perfectly kindled within me by
tasting heavenly manna, may never fail.
    Your mercy can give me the grace I long for and can visit me
most graciously with fervor of soul according to Your good
pleasure. For although I am not now inflamed with as great desire
as those who are singularly devoted to You, yet by Your grace I
long for this same great flame, praying and seeking a place among
all such ardent lovers that I may be numbered among their holy
company.

                    The Fifteenth Chapter

The Grace of Devotion is Acquired Through Humility and Self-Denial

                    The Voice of Christ

YOU must seek earnestly the grace of devotion, ask for it
fervently, await it patiently and hopefully, receive it
gratefully, guard it humbly, cooperate with it carefully and leave
to God, when it comes, the length and manner of the heavenly
visitation.
    When you feel little or no inward devotion, you should
especially humiliate yourself, but do not become too dejected or
unreasonably sad. In one short moment God often gives what He has
long denied. At times He grants at the end what He has denied from
the beginning of prayer. If grace were always given at once, or
were present at our beck and call, it would not be well taken by
weak humankind. Therefore, with good hope and humble patience
await the grace of devotion.
    When it is not given, or for some unknown reason is taken
away, blame yourself and your sins. Sometimes it is a small matter
that hinders grace and hides it, if, indeed, that which prevents
so great a good may be called little rather than great. But if you
remove this hindrance, be it great or small, and if you conquer it
perfectly, you shall have what you ask. As soon as you have given
yourself to God with all your heart and seek neither this nor that
for your own pleasure and purpose, but place yourself completely
in His charge, you shall find yourself at peace, united with Him,
because nothing will be so sweet, nothing will please you so much
as the good pleasure of His will.
    Anyone, therefore, who shall with simplicity of heart direct
his intention to God and free himself from all inordinate love or
dislike for any creature will be most fit to receive grace and
will be worthy of the gift of devotion. For where the Lord finds
the vessel empty He pours down His blessing.
    So also the more perfectly a man renounces things of this
world, and the more completely he dies to himself through contempt
of self, the more quickly this great grace comes to him, the more
plentifully it enters in, and the higher it uplifts the free
heart.
    Then shall he see and abound, then shall his heart marvel and
be enlarged within him, because the Hand of the Lord is with him
and in the hollow of that Hand he has placed himself forever. Thus
shall the man be blessed who seeks God with all his heart and has
not regarded his soul in vain. Such a one, receiving the Holy
Eucharist, merits the grace of divine union because he looks not
on his own thoughts, nor to his own comfort, but above all
devotion and consolation to the glory and honor of God.

                    The Sixteenth Chapter

    We Should Show Our Needs to Christ and Ask His Grace

                        The Disciple

O MOST kind, most loving Lord, Whom I now desire to receive with
devotion, You know the weakness and the necessity which I suffer,
in what great evils and vices I am involved, how often I am
depressed, tempted, defiled, and troubled.
    To You I come for help, to You I pray for comfort and relief.
I speak to Him Who knows all things, to Whom my whole inner life
is manifest, and Who alone can perfectly comfort and help me.
    You know what good things I am most in need of and how poor I
am in virtue. Behold I stand before You, poor and naked, asking
Your grace and imploring Your mercy.
    Feed Your hungry beggar. Inflame my coldness with the fire of
Your love. Enlighten my blindness with the brightness of Your
presence. Turn all earthly things to bitterness for me, all
grievance and adversity to patience, all lowly creation to
contempt and oblivion. Raise my heart to You in heaven and suffer
me not to wander on earth. From this moment to all eternity do You
alone grow sweet to me, for You alone are my food and drink, my
love and my joy, my sweetness and my total good.
    Let Your presence wholly inflame me, consume and transform me
into Yourself, that I may become one spirit with You by the grace
of inward union and by the melting power of Your ardent love.
    Suffer me not to go from You fasting and thirsty, but deal
with me mercifully as You have so often and so wonderfully dealt
with Your saints.
    What wonder if I were completely inflamed by You to die to
myself, since You are the fire ever burning and never dying, a
love purifying the heart and enlightening the understanding.

                  The Seventeenth Chapter

    The Burning Love and Strong Desire to Receive Christ

                        The Disciple

WITH greatest devotion and ardent love, with all affection and
fervor of heart I wish to receive You, O Lord, as many saints and
devout persons, most pleasing to You in their holiness of life and
most fervent in devotion, desired You in Holy Communion.
    O my God, everlasting love, my final good, my happiness
unending, I long to receive You with as strong a desire and as
worthy a reverence as any of the saints ever had or could have
felt, and though I am not worthy to have all these sentiments of
devotion, still I offer You the full affection of my heart as if I
alone had all those most pleasing and ardent desires.
    Yet, whatever a God-fearing mind can conceive and desire, I
offer in its entirety to You with the greatest reverence and
inward affection. I wish to keep nothing for self but to offer to
You, willingly and most freely, myself and all that is mine.
    O Lord God, my Creator and my Redeemer, I long to receive You
this day with such reverence, praise, and honor, with such
gratitude, worthiness and love, with such faith, hope, and purity
as that with which Your most holy Mother, the glorious Virgin
Mary, longed for and received You when she humbly and devoutly
answered the angel who announced to her the mystery of the
Incarnation: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me
according to thy word.”[52]
    Likewise as Your blessed precursor, the most excellent of
saints, John the Baptist, gladdened by Your presence, exulted in
the Holy Ghost while yet enclosed in the womb of his mother, and
afterward seeing Jesus walking among men, humbled himself and with
devout love declared: “The friend of the bridegroom, who standeth
and heareth him, rejoiceth with joy because of the bridegroom’s
voice,”[53] even so I long to be inflamed with great and holy
desires and to give myself to You with all my heart.
    Therefore I offer and present to You the gladness of all
devout hearts, their ardent affection, their mental raptures,
their supernatural illuminations and heavenly visions together
with all the virtues and praises which have been or shall be
celebrated by all creatures in heaven and on earth, for myself and
all commended to my prayers, that You may be worthily praised and
glorified forever.
    Accept, O Lord my God, my promises and desires of giving You
infinite praise and boundless benediction, which in the vastness
of Your ineffable greatness are justly due You. This I render and
desire to render every day and every moment of time, and in my
loving prayers I invite and entreat all celestial spirits and all
the faithful to join me in giving You praise and thanks.
    Let all people, races, and tongues praise You and with the
greatest joy and most ardent devotion magnify Your sweet and holy
name. And let all who reverently and devoutly celebrate this most
great Sacrament and receive it in the fullness of faith, find
kindness and mercy in You and humbly pray for me, a sinner. And
when they have received the longed-for devotion and blissful
union, and, well consoled and wonderfully refreshed, have retired
from Your holy, Your celestial table, may they deign to remember
my poor soul.
—–
[52] Luke 1:38.
[53] John 3:29.

                    The Eighteenth Chapter

    Man Should Not Scrutinize This Sacrament in Curiosity,
  But Humbly Imitate Christ and Submit Reason to Holy Faith

                    The Voice of Christ

BEWARE of curious and vain examination of this most profound
Sacrament, if you do not wish to be plunged into the depths of
doubt. He who scrutinizes its majesty too closely will be
overwhelmed by its glory.
    God can do more than man can understand. A pious and humble
search for truth He will allow, a search that is ever ready to
learn and that seeks to walk in the reasonable doctrine of the
fathers.
    Blest is the simplicity that leaves the difficult way of
dispute and goes forward on the level, firm path of God’s
commandments. Many have lost devotion because they wished to
search into things beyond them.
    Faith is required of you, and a sincere life, not a lofty
intellect nor a delving into the mysteries of God. If you neither
know nor understand things beneath you, how can you comprehend
what is above you? Submit yourself to God and humble reason to
faith, and the light of understanding will be given you so far as
it is good and necessary for you. Some are gravely tempted
concerning faith and the Sacrament but this disturbance is not
laid to them but to the enemy.
    Be not disturbed, dispute not in your mind, answer not the
doubts sent by the devil, but believe the words of God, believe
His saints and prophets and the evil enemy will flee from you. It
is often very profitable for the servant of God to suffer such
things. For Satan does not tempt unbelievers and sinners whom he
already holds securely, but in many ways he does tempt and trouble
the faithful servant.
    Go forward, then, with sincere and unflinching faith, and
with humble reverence approach this Sacrament. Whatever you cannot
understand commit to the security of the all-powerful God, Who
does not deceive you. The man, however, who trusts in himself is
deceived. God walks with sincere men, reveals Himself to humble
men, enlightens the understanding of pure minds, and hides His
grace from the curious and the proud.
    Human reason is weak and can be deceived. True faith,
however, cannot be deceived. All reason and natural science ought
to come after faith, not go before it, nor oppose it. For in this
most holy and supremely excellent Sacrament, faith and love take
precedence and work in a hidden manner.
    God, eternal, incomprehensible, and infinitely powerful, does
great and inscrutable things in heaven and on earth, and there is
no searching into His marvelous works. If all the works of God
were such that human reason could easily grasp them, they would
not be called wonderful or beyond the power of words to tell.

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