THE IMITATION

OF CHRIST
BY
THOMAS À KEMPIS
TRANSLATED FROM
THE LATIN INTO
MODERN ENGLISH
Digitized by Harry Plantinga, planting@cs.pitt.edu, 1994.
This etext is in the public domain.
2
FOREWORD
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 À 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 À
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
3
CONTENTS
Foreword
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
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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
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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
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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.
The Second Chapter
1
John 8:12.
2
Eccles. 1:8.
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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.
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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.
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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
10
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
11
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.
12
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
13
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,
3
Job 7:1.
14
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.
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
15
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
16
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
17
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,
18
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
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.
4
Luke 12:43, 44.
19
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.
20
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
The Twenty-Second Chapter
5
Ps. 79:6.
21
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.
6
Ps. 24:17.
22
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.
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.
23
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
24
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.
25
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.
7
Ps. 36:3.
26
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
27
others, do not neglect yourself. The more violence you do to yourself, the more progress
you will make.
28
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.
8
Luke 17:21.
9
John 14:23.
29
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.
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.
30
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.
31
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
32
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.
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
10
Isa. 48:22.
11
2 Cor. 10:18.
33
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.
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.
12
Isa. 15:6.
13
John 11:28.
34
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.
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.
35
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.
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
14
Ps. 29:7-12.
15
Job 7:18.
16
Apoc. 2:7.
36
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
37
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.
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.
17
Luke 17:10.
18
Ps. 24:16.
19
Matt. 16:24.
20
Matt. 25:41.
38
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
21
Luke 24:46, 26.
39
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.
22
Acts 9:16.
40
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.
23
Luke 9:23.
41
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.
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
24
Ps. 84:9.
25
1 Kings 3:9.
26
Ps. 118:125.
27
Ps. 118:36.
28
Deut. 32:2.
42
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.
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
29
Exod. 20:19.
30
John 6:69.
31
Ps. 93:12.
43
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.
The Fourth Chapter
WE MUST WALK BEFORE GOD IN HUMILITY AND TRUTH
32
Isa. 23:4.
44
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
45
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
46
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
47
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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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
33
Ps. 36:4.
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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
34
John 14:27.
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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.
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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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.
35
Ps. 54:7.
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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.
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"
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--
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.
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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?
70
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.
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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
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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
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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
The Fortieth Chapter
37
Matt. 16:41.
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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
75
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
76
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
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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
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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
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St. Agatha.
78
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!
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.
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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
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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.
39
Peter 2:11.
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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
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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,
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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.
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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.
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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
40
Ps. 118:137.
92
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
41
Ps. 18:10.
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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.
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.
42
Matt. 18:3, 4.
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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.
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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
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."
43
Matt. 11:28.
44
John 6:52.
45
1 Cor. 11:24.
46
John 6:57.
47
John 6:64.
48
Matt. 11:28.
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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
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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."
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.
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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.
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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
49
Matt. 15:32.
100
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.
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!
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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
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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
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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.
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.
50
Ezek. 33:11.
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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.
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
51
Luke 14:33.
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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.
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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,
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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.
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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.
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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,
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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.
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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
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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
52
Luke 1:38.
53
John 3:29.
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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.
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,
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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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FOREWORD
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 À 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 À 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

3

CONTENTS
Foreword BOOK ONE

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

THE INTERIOR LIFE
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Meditation Humility Goodness and Peace in Man Purity of Mind and Unity of Purpose Ourselves The Joy of a Good Conscience Loving Jesus Above All Things The Intimate Friendship of Jesus Wanting No Share in Comfort

Directing Our Final Intention Toward God God is Sweet Above All Things and in All Things to Those Who Love Him There is No Security from Temptation in This Life The Vain Judgments of Men Pure and Entire Resignation of Self to Obtain Freedom of Heart The Right Ordering of External Affairs.4 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 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 The Inward Conversation of Christ with the Faithful Soul Truth Speaks Inwardly without the Sound of Words Listen Humbly to the Words of God. Recourse to God in Dangers A Man Should Not be Unduly Solicitous about his Affairs . Many Do Not Heed Them We Must Walk Before God in Humility and Truth The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love The Proving of a True Lover Grace Must Be Hidden Under the Mantle of Humility Self-Abasement in the Sight of God All Things Should be Referred to God as their Last End To Despise the World and Serve God is Sweet The Longings of Our Hearts Must Be Examined and Moderated Acquiring Patience in the Fight against Concupiscence The Obedience of One Humbly Subject to the Example of Jesus Christ Consider the Hidden Judgments of God Lest You Become Proud of Your Own Good Deeds How One Should Feel and Speak on Every Desirable Thing True Comfort is to be Sought in God Alone All Our Care is to be Placed in God Temporal Sufferings Should be Borne Patiently. Forsake All Creatures Self-Denial and the Renunciation of Evil Appetites Restlessness of Soul -. After the Example of Christ True Patience in Suffering Confessing Our Weakness in the Miseries of Life Above All Goods and All Gifts We Must Rest in God Remember the Innumerable Gifts of God Four Things Which Bring Great Peace Avoiding Curious Inquiry About the Lives of Others The Basis of Firm Peace of Heart and True Progress The Excellence of a Free Mind. Gained Through Prayer Rather Than by Study Self-Love is the Greatest Hindrance to the Highest Good Strength Against Slander How We Must Call Upon and Bless the Lord When Trouble Presses The Quest of Divine Help and Confidence in Regaining Grace To Find the Creator.

Our Offering We Should Offer Ourselves and All That We Have to God. But Humbly Imitate Christ and Submit Reason to Holy Faith . Praying for All Do Not Lightly Forego Holy Communion The Body of Christ and Sacred Scripture Are Most Necessary to a Faithful Soul The Communicant Should Prepare Himself for Christ with Great Care With All Her Heart the Devout Soul Should Desire Union with Christ in the Sacrament The Ardent Longing of Devout Men for the Body of Christ The Grace of Devotion is Acquired Through Humility and Self-Denial We Should Show Our Needs to Christ and Ask His Grace The Burning Love and Strong Desire to Receive Christ Man Should Not Scrutinize This Sacrament in Curiosity. The Great Rewards Promised to Those Who Struggle How a Desolate Person Ought to Commit Himself into the Hands of God When We Cannot Attain to the Highest. For It is Easy To Err in Speech Trust in God Against Slander Every Trial Must Be Borne for the Sake of Eternal Life The Day of Eternity and the Distresses of this Life The Desire of Eternal Life. We Must Practice the Humble Works A Man Ought Not to Consider Himself Worthy of Consolation. But Rather Deserving of Chastisement God's Grace Is Not Given to the Earthly Minded The Different Motions of Nature and Grace The Corruption of Nature and the Efficacy of Divine Grace We Ought to Deny Ourselves and Imitate Christ Through Bearing the Cross A Man Should Not Be Too Downcast When He Falls Into Defects High Matters and the Hidden Judgments of God Are Not To Be Scrutinized All Hope and Trust Are To Be Fixed in God Alone BOOK FOUR AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 The Great Reverence With Which We Should Receive Christ God's Great Goodness and Love is Shown to Man in This Sacrament It Is Profitable To Receive Communion Often Many Blessings Are Given Those Who Receive Communion Worthily The Dignity of the Sacrament and of the Priesthood An Inquiry on the Proper Thing to do Before Communion The Examination of Conscience and the Resolution to Amend The Offering of Christ on the Cross.5 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 Man Has No Good in Himself and Can Glory in Nothing Contempt for All Earthly Honor Peace is not to be Placed in Men Beware Vain and Worldly Knowledge Do Not be Concerned About Outward Things All Men Are Not To Be Believed.

"2 Try." says the Lord. there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if. except to love God and serve Him alone. . Often recall the proverb: "The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. This is the greatest wisdom -. if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart.1 By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits. Let our chief effort. be to study the life of Jesus Christ. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. The Second Chapter 1 John 8:12. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ. walks not in darkness. 1:8. moreover. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God. lacking humility. therefore. therefore. you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just.to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. 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. 2 Eccles. Now. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides. to seek and trust in riches that perish.6 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. It is vanity. but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. 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. to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible.

the Beginning Who also speaks to us. If you think you know many things and understand them well enough. not in signs and words that fade. are great folly. our senses often deceive us and we discern very little. for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. may ease his heart and remain at peace with God. Why prefer yourself to anyone else when many are more learned. We have eyes and do not see. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel. Do not be proud. more cultured than you? If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while. have we to do with questions of philosophy? He to whom the Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing. Our opinions. the more severely will you be judged. realize at the same time that there is much you do not know. what would it profit me before God Who will judge me by my deeds? Shun too great a desire for knowledge. and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore. but as it actually is. then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. What. therefore. and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. because of your learning or skill. He who knows himself well becomes mean in his own eyes and is not happy when praised by men. For from this Word are all things and of Him all things speak -. If I knew all things in the world and had not charity. fear because of the talent given you. if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime. 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. do not affect wisdom. but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself. but admit your ignorance. The more you know and the better you understand. 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. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul. unless your life is also the more holy. who traces all things to it and who sees all things in it. for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Many words do not satisfy the soul. To think of oneself as nothing. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God. . All men are frail. He to whom it becomes everything. Rather. Hence. do not consider yourself better. Without this Word no man understands or judges aright.7 HAVING A HUMBLE OPINION OF SELF EVERY man naturally desires knowledge. therefore. The Third Chapter THE DOCTRINE OF TRUTH HAPPY is he to whom truth manifests itself.

but a clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred. The more recollected a man is. because they know that human frailty is prone to evil and is likely to appear in speech. What. Perfect men. The pure. Let the learned be still. Tell me. Humble knowledge of self is a surer path to God than the ardent pursuit of learning. You alone speak to me. He is truly great who has great charity. the easier he understands sublime things. simple. do not readily believe every talebearer. . How quickly the glory of the world passes away! If only their lives had kept pace with their learning. or such laxity in religious organizations. 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. surely. How many there are who perish because of vain worldly knowledge and too little care for serving God. During life they seemed to be something. for he does them all for the honor of God. or knowledge. Not that learning is to be considered evil. He is truly great who is little in his own eyes and makes nothing of the highest honor. for he receives the light of knowledge from above. He who does God's will and renounces his own is truly very learned. 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. He is truly wise who looks upon all earthly things as folly that he may gain Christ. now they are seldom remembered. we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done. and the more simple of heart he becomes. Who is forced to struggle more than he who tries to master himself? This ought to be our purpose. On the day of judgment.8 O God. we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather than good. let all creatures be silent before You. They became vain in their own conceits because they chose to be great rather than humble. to become stronger each day. Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed with it and no learning of ours is without some darkness. then their study and reading would have been worth while. make me one with You in love everlasting. to advance in virtue. 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. which is good in itself and so ordained by God. 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. not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived. sad to say. but in You is all that I long for. indeed. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read. and steadfast spirit is not distracted by many labors. For very often. not according to the whims of evil inclination but according to the dictates of right reason. however. And since he enjoys interior peace he seeks no selfish end in anything. You Who are the truth. then: to conquer self. there would not be so much evil and scandal in the world.

and never seek a reputation for being learned. Men pass away. Hence it makes him sad to forego them. for they were not made without purpose. then. whereas he who is poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace. read with humility. he is quick to anger if reproved. The Sixth Chapter UNBRIDLED AFFECTIONS WHEN a man desires a thing too much. An unmortified man is quickly tempted and overcome in small. Seek the advice of your betters in preference to following your own inclinations. True peace of heart. We ought not to ask who is speaking. do not be displeased with the sayings of the ancients. God speaks to us in many ways without regard for persons. therefore. but mark what is said. he can hardly abstain from earthly desires. There is no peace in the carnal man. and faith. is found in resisting passions. For in the Scriptures we ought to seek profit rather than polished diction. Seek willingly and listen attentively to the words of the saints. not to believe everything people say or to spread abroad the gossip one has heard. in a measure carnal and inclined to sensual things. Take counsel with a wise and conscientious man. Likewise we ought to read simple and devout books as willingly as learned and profound ones. his spirit is weak. not eloquence. but there is peace in the fervent and spiritual man. We ought not to be swayed by the authority of the writer. is to be sought in reading the Holy Scriptures. when we wish to understand and mull over what we ought simply to read and pass by. he at once becomes ill at ease. remorse of conscience overwhelms him because he followed his passions and they did not lead to the peace he sought. If you would profit from it. in the man given to vain attractions. the wiser and the more at peace he will be in all things. Our curiosity often impedes our reading of the Scriptures. whether he be a great literary light or an insignificant person. simplicity. trifling evils. The Fifth Chapter READING THE HOLY SCRIPTURE TRUTH. but by the love of simple truth. The Seventh Chapter . but the truth of the Lord remains forever. for the more humble he is and the more subject to God. is great wisdom. A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him experience in many things. Yet if he satisfies his desires. A proud and avaricious man never rests. and every part must be read in the spirit in which it was written.9 Not to act rashly or to cling obstinately to one's opinion. not in satisfying them.

We ought to have charity for all men but familiarity with all is not expedient. Do not fawn upon the rich. Seek only the intimacy of God and of His angels. and avoid the notice of men. but at the same time is held in slight regard by those who do. Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ and to seem poor in this world. while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger. Many live in obedience more from necessity than from love. Do what lies in your power and God will aid your good will. If there is good in you. The humble live in continuous peace. perhaps. Do not think yourself better than others lest. you be accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not take pride in your talent or ability. Such become discontented and dejected on the . Do not keep company with young people and strangers. Be not intimate with any woman. but rather in the grace of God Who helps the humble and humbles the proud. It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else. and do not be fond of mingling with the great. but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. Sometimes it happens that a person enjoys a good reputation among those who do not know him. in created things. Frequently we think we are pleasing others by our presence and we begin rather to displease them by the faults they find in us. but discuss your affairs with one who is wise and who fears God. The Ninth Chapter OBEDIENCE AND SUBJECTION IT IS a very great thing to obey. so that you may remain humble. Do not take pride in your good deeds. for God's judgments differ from those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him. lest you displease God to Whom belongs all the natural gifts that you have. Put no trust in your own learning nor in the cunning of any man. Associate with the humble and the simple. but generally commend all good women to God. do not glory in it. see more good in others. The Eighth Chapter SHUNNING OVER-FAMILIARITY DO NOT open your heart to every man. Do not boast of personal stature or of physical beauty. qualities which are marred and destroyed by a little sickness.10 AVOIDING FALSE HOPE AND PRIDE VAIN is the man who puts his trust in men. nor in friends because they are powerful. Do not be self-sufficient but place your trust in God. but in God Who gives all things and Who desires above all to give Himself. for it is much safer to be subject than it is to command. If you have wealth. to live under a superior and not to be one's own master. and with them speak of edifying things. with the devout and virtuous.

If. . Many a time I wish that I had held my peace and had not associated with men. Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly. indeed. wishes to do as he pleases and is attracted to those who agree with him. though your own be good. refusal to agree with others when reason and occasion demand it. you accept another's opinion for love of God. even though sincere. How can a man who meddles in affairs not his own. is a great aid to spiritual progress. When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking. The Tenth Chapter AVOIDING IDLE TALK SHUN the gossip of men as much as possible. who seeks strange distractions. But. Everyone. Why. we talk and think quite fondly of things we like very much or of things we dislike intensely. Bad habits and indifference to spiritual progress do much to remove the guard from the tongue. we often talk vainly and to no purpose. but be willing to listen to those of others. It may happen. for discussion of worldly affairs. Hence. for this external pleasure effectively bars inward and divine consolation. they will never gain peace of mind unless they subject themselves wholeheartedly for the love of God. Furthermore. 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. that while one's own opinion may be good. you will find no rest except in humble obedience to the rule of authority. for I have often heard that it is safer to listen to advice and take it than to give it. is a great distraction inasmuch as we are quickly ensnared and captivated by vanity. for these are no concern of ours. and who is little or seldom inwardly recollected.11 slightest pretext. Dreams of happiness expected from change and different places have deceived many. we must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace. too. on the contrary. live long in peace? Blessed are the simple of heart for they shall enjoy peace in abundance. you will gain much more merit. especially when persons of the same mind and spirit associate together in God. is a sign of pride and obstinacy. sad to say. But if God be among us. it is true. Go where you may. 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. who is so wise that he can have full knowledge of everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions. Devout conversation on spiritual matters. say something that will edify.

little by little. and unlearn the evil habit lest perhaps. and we are not inflamed with the desire to improve ourselves day by day. If we let our progress in religious life depend on the observance of its externals alone.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. and thus they were able to attach themselves to God with all their heart and freely to concentrate their innermost thoughts. He wearies of living . When to all outward appearances men give us no credit. is that we are not free from passions and lusts. to stand as brave men in battle. and tormented by evil thoughts. he laments and prays. too taken up with passing things. It is hard to break old habits. but harder still to go against our will. If we tried. If we were to uproot only one vice each year. the only obstacle. Rarely do we completely conquer even one vice. If we did a little violence to ourselves at the start. If we mortified our bodies perfectly and allowed no distractions to enter our minds. however. When a man of good will is afflicted. We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies. he realizes clearly that his greatest need is God. then we are more inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts. to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. yet it is now considered noteworthy if a man can retain even a part of his first fervor. lay the ax to the root that we may be freed from our passions and thus have peace of mind. If you but consider what peace a good life will bring to yourself and what joy it will give to others. trifling things. indeed. tempted. is ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace. is often the case -. If you do not overcome small. hence. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction. we are too easily dejected and turn to human consolations. The contrary. we remain cold and indifferent. that we do not try to follow the perfect way of the saints. I think you will be more concerned about your spiritual progress. These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory. Thus when we encounter some slight difficulty. Let us. our devotion will quickly come to an end.12 Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to contemplation? Because they tried to mortify entirely in themselves all earthly desires. Saddened by his miseries and sufferings. we should afterwards be able to do all things with ease and joy. Our fervor and progress ought to increase day by day. when they do not think well of us. it lead to a more evil one. we should soon become perfect. we could appreciate divine things and experience something of heavenly contemplation. for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing. Therefore. The Twelfth Chapter THE VALUE OF ADVERSITY IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times. The greatest obstacle. a man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of men. then. the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain us. however. how will you overcome the more difficult? Resist temptations in the beginning. For He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory. without Whom he can do no good.

but console them as you yourself would wish to be consoled. again. Man is never safe from them as long as he lives. The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God. purified. and consent. for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks. Others. while some are troubled almost constantly throughout their life. so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many ways. Yet temptations. therefore. only to fall more deeply. followed by pleasure. in patience and long-suffering you will overcome them. while the strength of the enemy grows against him. . by the help of God rather than by severity and your own rash ways. And the longer a man delays in resisting. Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just. No one is so perfect or so holy but he is sometimes tempted. another comes. a mere thought comes to mind. more violent than before. There is no state so holy. no place so secret that temptations and trials will not come. Satan gains full entry. find occasion to deceive him. We cannot conquer simply by fleeing. we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation. Someone has said very aptly: "Resist the beginnings. Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their conversion.in sin we were born. Often take counsel when tempted. must guard against temptation and must watch in prayer lest the devil. are often useful to a man. and instructed. for they come from within us -. then strong imagination. and do not be harsh with others who are tempted. Thus. evil delight. because he is not resisted in the beginning. The saints all passed through many temptations and trials to profit by them. Often we do not know what we can stand. remedies come too late. Many people try to escape temptations. The man who only shuns temptations outwardly and does not uproot them will make little progress. for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by waves. though troublesome and severe. but by patience and true humility we become stronger than all our enemies. for in them he is humbled."3 Everyone. who never sleeps but goes about seeking whom he may devour. others toward the end. while those who could not resist became reprobate and fell away. man cannot be altogether free from temptation. 3 Job 7:1.13 longer and wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be with Christ. so much the weaker does he become each day. Then he understands fully that perfect security and complete peace cannot be found on earth. we shall always have something to suffer because we have lost the state of original blessedness. When one temptation or trial passes. but temptation shows us what we are. indeed they will quickly return." First. The Thirteenth Chapter RESISTING TEMPTATION SO LONG as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation. Above all. when by long delay the evil has gained strength. Little by little. Whence it is written in Job: "The life of man upon earth is a warfare.

But often something lurks within or happens from without to draw us along with it. for according to the word of Paul. are frequently overcome by small ones in order that. you will hardly. they may not presume on their own strength in great ones. If you rely more upon your intelligence or industry than upon the virtue of submission to Jesus Christ. however. They seem even to enjoy peace of mind when things happen according to their wish and liking. for through personal feeling true perspective is easily lost. seek themselves in the things they do. The Fifteenth Chapter WORKS DONE IN CHARITY NEVER do evil for anything in the world. Many. The Fourteenth Chapter AVOIDING RASH JUDGMENT TURN your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of other men. we should not be disturbed so easily by opposition to our opinions. for in judging others a man labors vainly. For one who is in need. even those who are religious and devout. We should not despair. In temptations and trials the progress of a man is measured. unawares. or for the love of any man. become an enlightened man. and no one is willing to be led farther than he can see. If God were the sole object of our desire. humbled by their weakness in small trials. in them opportunity for merit and virtue is made more manifest. whereas. and easily sins. He will make issue with temptation that we may be able to bear it. but if otherwise than they desire. when we are tempted. often makes mistakes. guarded against great temptations. We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be.14 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. a good work may at times be purposely left undone or . Differences of feeling and opinion often divide friends and acquaintances. and in any case slowly. but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity. through ardent love. but pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us. An old habit is hard to break. to rise above all human wisdom. God wants us to be completely subject to Him and. When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and devout. Some. 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. there is hope for great progress. in judging and taking stock of himself he does something that is always profitable. therefore. they are soon disturbed and saddened.

Hence. Without charity external work is of no value. are motives seldom absent. 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. for God knows well how to turn evil to good. for without such patience and trial your merits are of little account. If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be. and advise. under such difficulties you should pray that God will consent to help you bear them calmly. a man ought to bear patiently whatever he cannot correct in himself and in others. be it ever so small and trivial. Try to bear patiently with the defects and infirmities of others. his hope of reward. He does much who does a thing well. do not argue with him but commit the whole matter to God that His will and honor may be furthered in all His servants. Consider it better thus -. Their great liberty displeases us. 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. yet we will not correct ourselves. He does well who serves the common good rather than his own interests. console one another. He ascribes to man nothing that is good but attributes it wholly to God from Whom all things proceed as from a fountain. what should we have to suffer from others for God's sake? But God has so ordained. Nevertheless. is entirely fruitful inasmuch as God weighs the love with which a man acts rather than the deed itself. for there is no man without fault. he envies no man. He does much who loves much. If. it is clear how seldom we think of others as we do of ourselves. his own will. yet we would not be denied what we ask. whatever they may be. Moreover. he who has true and perfect charity seeks self in nothing. but anything done in charity. This is not the omission of a good deed but rather its improvement. Hence we must support one another. that we may learn to bear with one another's burdens. after being admonished once or twice. for the measure of every man's virtue is best revealed in time of adversity -. On the contrary.15 changed for a better one. no man sufficient to himself nor wise enough. yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected. that which seems to be charity is oftentimes really sensuality.perhaps to try your patience and to test you. a person does not amend. for man's own inclination. yet we will allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing. counsel. because you also have many a fault which others must endure. Now. We would have them bound by laws. and his self-interest. and in Whom all the blessed shall rest as their last end and fruition. The Seventeenth Chapter . If all were perfect. but searches all things for the glory of God. mutually help. how can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect. no man without burden.adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.

The Eighteenth Chapter THE EXAMPLE SET US BY THE HOLY FATHERS CONSIDER the lively examples set us by the saints. What. To live in monasteries or religious communities. and associates. If you would become a religious. If you would persevere in seeking perfection. an exile on earth. and the service of the body. that you have been called to suffer and to work. and you will see how little. was irksome to them. cannot remain at peace for long. Outwardly destitute. in persecutions and many afflictions. not to idle and gossip away your time.16 MONASTIC LIFE IF YOU wish peace and concord with others. every hour seemed too short for serving God. in cold and nakedness. it is the change of life. in work and fatigue. too. you must be content to seem a fool for the sake of Christ. Blessed indeed is he who there lives a good life and there ends his days in happiness. To themselves they seemed as nothing. They desired nothing of the world. alas. they were close and intimate friends of God. and to persevere faithfully till death is no small matter. but in the eyes of God they were precious and beloved. friends. virgins. you must learn to break your will in many things. we do. to remain there without complaint. honors. and they were despised by the world. confessors. not to rule. inwardly they were full of grace and divine consolation. even when necessary. Even at work they did not cease from mental prayer. They used all their time profitably. 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. Habit and tonsure change a man but little. They lived in true . Here no man can remain unless he desires with all his heart to humble himself before God. martyrs. how nearly nothing. and he who does not try to become the least. He who seeks anything but God alone and the salvation of his soul will find only trouble and grief. They scarcely allowed themselves the necessities of life. the complete mortification of passions that endow a true religious.the Apostles. who possessed the light of true perfection and religion. They were poor in earthly things but rich in grace and virtue. is our life. and in the great sweetness of contemplation. How many and severe were the trials they suffered -. in prayers and holy meditations. You have come to serve. they forgot even their bodily needs. dignities. 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. compared with theirs? The saints and friends of Christ served the Lord in hunger and thirst. You must understand. you must consider yourself a pilgrim. Here men are tried as gold in a furnace. the servant of all. Strangers to the world. They renounced all riches. in vigils and fasts.

Just men depend on the grace of God rather than on their own wisdom in keeping their resolutions. 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. Today." As our intention is. for He who sees within is God. and their power to stimulate us to perfection ought to be greater than that of the lukewarm to tempt us to laxity. Our outward and inward lives alike must be closely watched and well ordered. for man. indeed. in my good resolution and in Your holy service. to begin perfectly. do so once a day at least. O Lord God. he who is not a transgressor and who can bear patiently the duties which he has taken upon himself is considered great. and he who desires perfection must be very diligent. Curb your appetite and you will more easily curb every inclination of the flesh. If you cannot recollect yourself continuously. In Him they confide every undertaking. With good reason there ought to be much more within than appears on the outside. especially against things which beset us the most. what you have done and thought. through weariness or neglect. we still fail too easily in many things. Never be completely unoccupied. this very day. In the morning make a resolution and in the evening examine yourself on what you have said this day. and God's way is not man's. If a habitual exercise is sometimes omitted out of piety or in the interests of another. for both are important to perfection. then the fault is great and will prove hurtful. We ought to say: "Help me. making progress daily on the pathway of spiritual life and obtaining great favor with God. If the strong-willed man fails frequently. Arm yourself like a man against the devil's assaults. Whom we ought to reverence most highly wherever we are and in Whose sight we ought to walk pure as the angels. 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. But if it be abandoned carelessly. so will be our progress. Much as we try. they walked in charity and patience.17 humility and simple obedience. . in the morning or in the evening. who have seen so many examples of the devout. Grant me now. it can easily be resumed later. for thus far I have done nothing. what of the man who makes up his mind seldom or half-heartedly? Many are the ways of failing in our resolutions. for in these things perhaps you have often offended God and those about you. They were given as an example for all religious. even a slight omission of religious practice entails a loss of some kind. Yet we must always have some fixed purpose. 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. Each day we ought to renew our resolutions and arouse ourselves to fervor as though it were the first day of our religious life. proposes but God disposes.

Bodily discipline. Let us try. shall find watching. meanwhile. 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. About the time of the principal feasts good devotions ought to be renewed and the intercession of the saints more fervently implored. Some are suitable when we are sad."4 The Twentieth Chapter THE LOVE OF SOLITUDE AND SILENCE SEEK a suitable time for leisure and meditate often on the favors of God. To stay at home is easier than to be sufficiently on guard while away. when he cometh. Devotions not common to all are not to be displayed in public. you then have leisure. No man is safe in speaking unless he loves to be silent. with Jesus. 44. we ought to prepare ourselves carefully. some for feast days and some again for weekdays. Anyone. Furthermore. No man appears in safety before the public eye unless he first relishes obscurity. as though we were soon to receive from God the reward of our labors. If. "Blessed is the servant. must be undertaken with discretion and is not to be practiced indiscriminately by everyone. Amen I say to you: he shall make him ruler over all his goods. If this end be deferred. to prepare ourselves better for death. from the crowd. likewise. No man commands safely unless he has learned well how to obey. finally. One exactly suits this person. "I have returned less a man. . Leave curiosities alone. however. 4 Luke 12:43. During holy seasons. for such personal things are better performed in private. No man rules safely unless he is willing to be ruled. then. from listening to gossip and rumors. 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. Very many great saints avoided the company of men wherever possible and chose to serve God in retirement. are suitable for different times. For days of rest and peace we need others. No man rejoices safely unless he has within him the testimony of a good conscience.18 but read or write or pray or meditate or do something for the common good. to live holier lives. Read such matters as bring sorrow to the heart rather than occupation to the mind." says Christ. It is easier to be silent altogether than not to speak too much. Not everyone can have the same devotion. In time of temptation we need certain devotions. you will find enough time that is suitable for holy meditation. "whom his master. however." We often find this to be true when we take part in long conversations. another that. who aims to live the inner and spiritual life must go apart. use it as personal piety suggests." said one writer. Different exercises. beware of indifference to community prayer through love of your own devotions. after doing completely and faithfully all you are bound and commanded to do. "As often as I have been among men. others when we are joyful in the Lord. and to observe each rule more strictly. If you withdraw yourself from unnecessary talking and idle running about.

you live within your cell and keep to it. or a devout hermit. but if you do not. There she finds a flood of tears with which to bathe and cleanse herself nightly. seek the privacy of your cell and shut out the uproar of the world. Leave vanity to the vain. what would they be but an empty vision? Raise your eyes to God in heaven and pray because of your sins and shortcomings. and had not listened to idle gossip. on the contrary. If you had not left it. for if you should see all existing things. Close the door upon yourself and call to you Jesus. If only a man would never seek passing joys or entangle himself with worldly affairs. if he cut himself off from all empty care and thought only of things divine. No man deserves the consolation of heaven unless he persistently arouses himself to holy contrition. Why wish to see what you are not permitted to have? "The world passes away and the concupiscence thereof. to hear news. or even too eager to fall back upon external comforts. you would have remained in greater peace. what a good conscience he would have. But since you love. your Beloved. but you cannot do so." There you will find what too often you lose abroad. the security of the saints was always enveloped in the fear of God. If you desire true sorrow of heart. It is better for a man to be obscure and to attend to his salvation than to neglect it and work miracles. as it is written: "In your chamber bewail your sins. and put all his trust in God. sometimes. a merry evening to a mournful dawn. too filled with pride. Set yourself to the things which God has commanded you to do. what do you bring back with you save a disturbed conscience and heavy heart? A happy going often leads to a sad return. but when the moment is past. for nowhere else will you find such peace. For God and His holy angels will draw near to him who withdraws from friends and acquaintances. The security of the wicked. for many it is better not to be too free from temptations. nor were they less cautious and humble because they were conspicuous for great virtues and graces. but often to be tried lest they become too secure. What can you see anywhere under the sun that will remain long? Perhaps you think you will completely satisfy yourself." Sensual craving sometimes entices you to wander around. to flee the sight of men and have no wish to see them. it will soon become a special friend and a very great comfort.19 More than this. that she may become the more intimate with her Creator the farther she withdraws from all the tumult of the world. . In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and learns the hidden truths of Scripture. it will become wearisome. it is only right that you should suffer sorrow of heart from it. What can you find elsewhere that you cannot find here in your cell? Behold heaven and earth and all the elements. Never promise yourself security in this life. and will end in their own deception. springs from pride and presumption. for of these all things are made. Remain with Him in your cell. things helpful to his soul. If in the beginning of your religious life. It happens very often that those whom men esteem highly are more seriously endangered by their own excessive confidence. even though you seem to be a good religious. Your cell will become dear to you if you remain in it. Hence. What great peace and tranquillity would be his. Thus. It is praiseworthy for a religious seldom to go abroad. all carnal joy begins sweetly but in the end brings remorse and death.

Lord. whether he thinks of himself or of his neighbor he knows that no one lives here without suffering. But since these thoughts never pierce the heart and since we are enamored of flattering pleasure. If you do not enjoy the favor of men. . we remain very cold and indifferent. Yet if we do not have divine consolation or experience it rarely. they will leave you alone to do what you have to do. and the closer he examines himself the more he grieves. therefore. do not look for too much freedom. Habit is overcome by habit. 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 casts from him all that can stain or burden his conscience. the whole world is bitter and wearisome to him. Do not busy yourself about the affairs of others and do not become entangled in the business of your superiors. Consider yourself unworthy of divine solace and deserving rather of much tribulation. 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. When a man is perfectly contrite. 79:6. Our wretched body complains so easily because our soul is altogether too lifeless. Pray humbly to the Lord. live in the fear of the Lord. It is often better and safer for us to have few consolations in this life. discipline your senses. I believe you would willingly endure labor and trouble and would fear no hardship. It is a wonder that any man who considers and meditates on his exiled state and the many dangers to his soul. do not let it sadden you."5 The Twenty-Second Chapter 5 Ps. A good man always finds enough over which to mourn and weep. with the bread of mourning and give me to drink of tears in full measure. If you leave men alone. Fight like a man. Sorrow opens the door to many a blessing which dissoluteness usually destroys. it is our own fault because we seek no sorrow of heart and do not forsake vain outward satisfaction. we do not feel the real sorrows of our souls. that He may give you the spirit of contrition and say with the Prophet: "Feed me. Keep an eye primarily on yourself and admonish yourself instead of your friends.20 The Twenty-First Chapter SORROW OF HEART IF YOU wish to make progress in virtue. 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. and shun inane silliness. can ever be perfectly happy in this life. 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. Lighthearted and heedless of our defects. especially comforts of the body. Happy is the man who can throw off the weight of every care and recollect himself in holy contrition. And if you pondered in your heart the future pains of hell or of purgatory.

how powerful and mighty. 24:17. . that is the time to gain merit. because he understands better and sees more clearly the defects. who does not suffer trial and anguish. 6 Ps. To eat and drink. So why be dismayed when things do not happen as you wish and desire? Is there anyone who has everything as he wishes? No -. but in losing innocence through sin we also lost true blessedness. to watch and sleep. and your hour is not past. to rest. the inner man is greatly burdened in this world by the necessities of the body."6 But woe to those who know not their own misery. if they could live here always. who would gladly be released from them and be free from all sin. There is no one in the world. and to be bound by other human necessities is certainly a great misery and affliction to the devout man. There is yet time. deliver me. in pursuing your spiritual life. how rich. it is the man who will suffer something for God." When you are troubled and afflicted. 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. Do not lose heart. a very little is enough. Their whole hope and aim centered on the everlasting good. the more bitter the present becomes to him.21 THOUGHTS ON THE MISERY OF MAN WHEREVER you are. Their whole desire pointed upward to the lasting and invisible realm. lest the love of what is visible drag them down to lower things. 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. Many unstable and weak-minded people say: "See how well that man lives. Who is the better off then? Surely. how great he is. Unless you do violence to yourself you will not overcome vice. and for this reason the Prophet prayed that he might be as free from them as possible. for in the end they will see to their sorrow how cheap and worthless was the thing they loved. These things are uncertain and very burdensome because they are never possessed without anxiety and fear. to labor. Therefore. and greater woe to those who love this miserable and corruptible life. now is the time to fight. Living on earth is truly a misery. O Lord. you are miserable unless you turn to God. until mortality is swallowed up in life. they would care nothing for the kingdom of God. Why delay your purpose? Arise! Begin at once and say: "Now is the time to act. So long as we live in this fragile body. then. Truly. wherever you go. yet they love it so much that. be he Pope or king. nor any man on earth. we must have patience and await the mercy of God until this iniquity passes. my brother. the corruption of human nature. we can neither be free from sin nor live without weariness and sorrow. The more a man desires spiritual life. now is the proper time to amend. Gladly would we rest from all misery." But you must lift up your eyes to the riches of heaven and realize that the material goods of which they speak are nothing. You must pass through water and fire before coming to rest. can scarcely procure its necessities either by work or by begging. when he said: "From my necessities. Some. nor you. Man's happiness does not consist in the possession of abundant goods.neither I. indeed.

Likewise they who undertake many pilgrimages seldom become holy. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly. If it is so terrifying to die. and when evening comes do not dare to promise yourself the dawn. and so live that death will never take you unprepared. hard labor. Would that in this world we had lived well throughout one single day. consider. It is better to avoid sin than to fear death. act as though you were to die this very day. it is nevertheless possible that to live longer is more dangerous. must go the same way. . In the morning consider that you may not live till evening. 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. too. Many count up the years they have spent in religion but find their lives made little holier. 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. You can do many good works when in good health. because of our frailty and feebleness. frequently adds to our guilt. readiness to obey. what can you do when you are ill? Few are made better by sickness. Blessed is he who keeps the moment of death ever before his eyes and prepares for it every day. tomorrow we die and are quickly forgotten. what may be in store for you elsewhere. to be instructed once more in the principles of a good life. and yet after an hour you act as though you had made no resolution. a lively desire to advance in virtue. The Twenty-Third Chapter THOUGHTS ON DEATH VERY soon your life here will end. to humble ourselves and never think anything great of ourselves. to see if there be hope of amendment and greater spiritual progress in the future. eventually. self-denial. a long life does not always benefit us. What. then. the dullness and hardness of a heart which looks only to the present instead of preparing for that which is to come! Therefore. One moment you resolve to be careful. Today we live. therefore. If you are not prepared today. Oh. these will give a man great expectations of a happy death. If you had a good conscience you would not fear death very much. remember that you. It would be beneficial for us. in every deed and every thought. Perfect contempt of the world. a love for discipline.22 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. like good novices. how will you be prepared tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day. We have cause. for in the unexpected hour the Son of God will come. How happy and prudent is he who tries now in life to be what he wants to be found in death. Through neglect we may quickly lose that which by God's grace we have acquired only through long. If you have ever seen a man die. and the endurance of every hardship for the love of Christ. 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. Be always ready. the works of penance. but on the contrary. therefore.

23 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

24 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.

25 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 eventempered 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.

7 Ps. 36:3.

Then also he will be content no matter what may happen to him. the monks and nuns of different orders. for something or other will always displease him. Who for him is all in all. read frequently. 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. If you have spent the day profitably. then he begins to relish God perfectly. and keep in mind the image of the Crucified. we taste too seldom! When a man reaches a point where he seeks no solace from any creature. they live in contemplation. well mannered and disciplined! How sad and painful to see them wandering in dissolution. Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time never returns. and subject themselves to all sorts of discipline. It is greater work to resist vices and passions than to sweat in physical toil. but if you give yourself to fervor. Watch over yourself. rise early. they speak but little. and suffers anguish from every side because he has no consolation within and is forbidden to seek it from without. their food is poor. Without care and diligence you will never acquire virtue. warn yourself. you may well be ashamed if. a slave to every necessity of the body! Would that there were no such needs. or sleep. Think of the Carthusians and the Cistercians. how every night they rise to sing praise to the Lord. but could praise God always and occupy yourself solely with spiritual pursuits. how much happier you would be than you are now.26 How pleasant and sweet to behold brethren fervent and devout. Even though you may have walked for many years on the pathway to God. pray much. and he who wishes to be more free and untrammeled will always be in trouble. sad to say. you are falling into the beginning of evil. if you had never to eat. and Whom they serve as He desires. you will always be happy at eventide. The religious who does not live up to his rule exposes himself to dreadful ruin. He will neither rejoice over great things nor grieve over small ones. or drink. and regardless of what becomes of . to Whom nothing ever perishes or dies. 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. He need not seek for anything better than Jesus. How do so many other religious who are confined in cloistered discipline get along? They seldom go out. He who does not overcome small faults. A fervent and diligent man is ready for all things. If there were nothing else to do but praise the Lord God with all your heart and voice. with the image of Christ before you. When you begin to grow lukewarm. 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. but will place himself entirely and confidently in the hands of God. you will find peace and will experience less hardship because of God's grace and the love of virtue. but only the spiritual refreshments of the soul which. arouse yourself. If the Crucified should come to our hearts. shall fall little by little into greater ones. their clothing coarse. they work hard. but a negligent and lukewarm religious has trial upon trial. how quickly and abundantly we would learn! A fervent religious accepts all the things that are commanded him and does them well. for Whom all things live. you do not try to make yourself still more like Him. keep long vigils.

the more progress you will make. The more violence you do to yourself.27 others. . do not neglect yourself.

for when you have Christ you are rich and He is sufficient for you. to God with all your heart. He will do what is best for you. so that you need not trust in frail. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest. are all from within. You are a stranger and a pilgrim wherever you may be. 9 John 14:23. Place all your trust in God. you will mind but little the scorn of men. Learn to despise external things. and pray unceasingly to Christ. and His intimacy wonderful indeed. Fix your mind on the Most High. and We will come to him. Christ will come to you offering His consolation. and will make Our abode with him. let Him be your fear and your love. His visits with the inward man are frequent. He will provide for you. standing firmly with us to the end. and you shall have no rest until you are wholly united with Christ. and you will easily bear their slanderous talk. 8 Luke 17:21. If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things. if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart. to Christ. but deny entrance to all others. His communion sweet and full of consolation.8 Turn. to devote yourself to those that are within. direct your thoughts to Christ's passion and willingly behold His sacred wounds. changeable men. and you will see the kingdom of God come unto you. Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man. If you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmata of Christ. then. he will keep My word.28 BOOK TWO THE INTERIOR LIFE The First Chapter MEDITATION THE kingdom of God is within you. then. then. and you together with them. Therefore. He Himself says: "If any one love Me. and My Father will love him. Christ remains forever. and do not grieve too much if he sometimes opposes and contradicts you. gifts not given to the impious. His peace great. you will find great comfort in suffering. faithful soul. Take care. whose beauty and glory. Those who are with us today may be against us tomorrow."9 Give place. He will answer for you. that you do not cling to them lest you be entrapped and perish. helpful and friendly though he be. prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you. They all pass away. He will supply your every want." says the Lord. wherein He takes delight. You have here no lasting home. 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. and vice versa. that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. . for men change with the wind.

It is the humble man whom God protects and liberates. To the humble He turns and upon them bestows great grace. is indeed wise with the wisdom of God rather than of men. But if you refuse external consolation. can turn to God at will and rise above himself to enjoy spiritual peace. place yourself in His hands. does not seek special places or times to perform devout exercises. do you want everyone to be your friend. but take care that God be with you in everything you do. for it gives us greater humility. not as men say or think it is. everything would tend to your good and be to your profit.29 When Christ was in the world. it is the humble whom He loves and consoles. and with kind invitation bids them come to Him. He adjusts himself to things as they happen. in the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths of scorn. Nothing so mars and defiles the heart of man as impure attachment to created things. for a man is upset and distracted only in proportion as he engrosses himself in externals. No outside work. you would care nothing at all for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the reproach you suffer. you will undoubtedly experience God's help. for the malice of man cannot harm one whom God wishes to help. A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth. He who tastes life as it really is. Keep your conscience clear and God will protect you. and if you were purified from all sin. If you know how to suffer in silence. that after their humiliation He may raise them up to glory. therefore. He was willing to suffer and to be despised. The Second Chapter HUMILITY BE NOT troubled about those who are with you or against you. he easily placates those about him and readily appeases those who are angry with him. you will be able to contemplate heavenly things and often to experience interior joy. 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. But because you are as yet neither entirely dead to self nor free from all earthly affection. He knows when and how to deliver you. there is much that often displeases and disturbs you. It is often good for us to have others know our faults and rebuke them. When a man humbles himself because of his faults. He who learns to live the interior life and to take little account of outward things. not in the world. Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or tasted a little of His ardent love. do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers. He reveals His secrets to the humble. because his trust is in God. no business that cannot wait stands in his way. Thus. for love of Him makes a man despise himself. If all were well with you. the humble man enjoys peace in the midst of many vexations. a truly interior man who is free from uncontrolled affections. A spiritual man quickly recollects himself because he has never wasted his attention upon externals. for it is a divine prerogative to help men and free them from all distress. therefore. He was despised by men. . He whose disposition is well ordered cares nothing about the strange. perverse behavior of others.

If your heart is free from ill-ordered affection. no good deed will be difficult for you. because he is the conqueror of himself. but others are never at peace with themselves nor do they bring it to anyone else. is a great grace. He neither rests himself nor permits others to do so. Everyone enjoys a peaceful life and prefers persons of congenial habits. you will enjoy freedom within. you must bear with them. These latter are a burden to everyone. a praiseworthy and manly thing. Whereas a passionate man turns even good to evil and is quick to believe evil. finally. But to be able to live at peace with harsh and perverse men. though it would be more just to accuse yourself and excuse your brother. or to be indignant save only against self! It is no great thing to associate with the good and gentle. Now. Some people live at peace with themselves and with their fellow men. for such association is naturally pleasing. how far you are from true charity and humility which does not know how to be angry with anyone. If you wish men to bear with you.simplicity and purity. but the disturbed and discontented spirit is upset by many a suspicion. being good himself. A peaceful man does more good than a learned man. If you aim at and seek after nothing but the pleasure of God and the welfare of your neighbor. A few. and an heir of heaven. first upon yourself. purity embraces and enjoys Him. then you may with justice exercise it upon those about you. therefore. the peaceful man. Simplicity leads to God. a friend of Christ. You are well versed in coloring your own actions with excuses which you will not accept from others. live at peace with themselves and try to restore it to others. . 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. but they are more of a burden to themselves. all our peace in this miserable life is found in humbly enduring suffering rather than in being free from it. There must be simplicity in his intention and purity in his desires. He often says what ought not to be said and leaves undone what ought to be done.30 Hence. turns all things to good. or with the undisciplined and those who irritate us. the master of the world. He is concerned with the duties of others but neglects his own. Behold. The Fourth Chapter PURITY OF MIND AND UNITY OF PURPOSE A MAN is raised up from the earth by two wings -. then you will be able to bring peace to others. Direct your zeal. He who knows best how to suffer will enjoy the greater peace. The man who is at perfect ease is never suspicious.

If you attend wholly to God and yourself. God alone. The interior man puts the care of himself before all other concerns. When a man begins to grow lax. We have but little inborn light. and then do worse in excusing it. he would find little cause to pass severe judgment on others. bringing comfort to the soul and true joy to the body. then he thinks those things less difficult which he thought so hard before. you must cast all else aside and keep only yourself before your eyes. and he who attends to himself carefully does not find it hard to hold his tongue about others.31 If your heart were right. for a pure heart penetrates to heaven and hell. nothing high. Often we are not aware that we are so blind in heart. You will never be devout of heart unless you are thus silent about the affairs of others and pay particular attention to yourself. the pure of heart certainly possess it. At times we are moved by passion. The Sixth Chapter THE JOY OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE . for the soul that loves God scorns all things that are inferior to Him. If a man would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly. and we think it zeal. for to value anything that is temporal is a great mistake. and as a man is within. Meanwhile we do wrong. and overlook greater ones in ourselves. then every created thing would be a mirror of life for you and a book of holy teaching. the eternal and infinite. We are quick enough to feel and brood over the things we suffer from others. he fears a little toil and welcomes external comfort. but we think nothing of how much others suffer from us. an evil conscience knows it too well. Where are your thoughts when they are not upon yourself? And after attending to various things. If there be joy in the world. If inwardly you were good and pure. for grace and understanding are often lacking in us. what have you gained if you have neglected self? If you wish to have true peace of mind and unity of purpose. so he judges what is without. Consider nothing great. As iron cast into fire loses its rust and becomes glowing white. satisfies all. You will make great progress if you keep yourself free from all temporal cares. and this we quickly lose through negligence. you would see all things clearly and understand them rightly. Consider the consolations of creatures as vanity. you will be little disturbed by what you see about you. and if there be anguish and affliction anywhere. so he who turns completely to God is stripped of his sluggishness and changed into a new man. for there is no creature so small and worthless that it does not show forth the goodness of God. nothing pleasing. We take others to task for small mistakes. except God Himself or that which is of God. but when he begins perfectly to conquer himself and to walk bravely in the ways of God. nothing acceptable. The Fifth Chapter OURSELVES WE MUST not rely too much upon ourselves.

" says St. no evil shall befall us and no one dares to hurt us. . It is a mark of great purity and deep faith to look for no consolation in created things. then. Do not rejoice unless you have done well. The glory of the good. nor does blame take anything from it. Love Him. for the joy of the just is from God and in God. He who clings to a creature will fall with its frailty. 48:22. for "there is no peace to the wicked. keep Him as a friend. for the wrath of God will arise quickly. 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. They consider the deed but God weighs the motive.this is the state of the inward man. or let you suffer lasting death. Praise adds nothing to your holiness. and he who seeks passing fame or does not in his heart despise it. but the love of Jesus is true and enduring. for a good conscience can bear a great deal and can bring joy even in the midst of adversity. and you cannot be said to be better than you are in God's sight. undoubtedly cares little for the glory of heaven. and their deeds will be brought to naught and their thoughts will perish. if his conscience is good. since He wishes to be loved alone above all things." do not believe them. You are what you are. keep your conscience good and you will always enjoy happiness. Therefore. Give up all other love for His. But the glory given or received of men is short lived. is in their conscience and not in the lips of men.10 Even if they say: "We are at peace. to be free from any external affection -. but he who gives himself to Jesus will ever be strengthened. "but he whom God commendeth. Paul. But an evil conscience is ever restive and fearful. They look to appearances but God looks to the heart.32 THE glory of a good man is the testimony of a good conscience. The man who longs for the true. however. Sometime. eternal glory does not care for that of time. whether you will or not. 112 Cor. he will easily be contented and at peace."11 To walk with God interiorly. Affection for creatures is deceitful and inconstant. and their gladness is founded on truth. for this is to glory in the cross of the Lord. He who minds neither praise nor blame possesses great peace of heart and. and the glory of the world is ever companioned by sorrow." says the Lord. Sweet shall be your rest if your heart does not reproach you. The man who desires no justification from without has clearly entrusted himself to God: "For not he who commendeth himself is approved. Sinners never experience true interior joy or peace. you will have to part with 10Isa. 10:18. If you consider well what you are within. To glory in adversity is not hard for the man who loves. you will not care what men say about you. He will not leave you as others do. It is characteristic of a humble soul always to do good and to think little of itself.

to whom will you go and whom will you then seek as a friend? You cannot live well without a friend. all is well and nothing seems difficult. and Jesus will be with you. will fade away. it brings great consolation. all other comfort is empty. can the world give you? Life without Him is a relentless hell. When Jesus does not speak within. you will find yourself -. 15:6. When He is absent. If you but knew how to free yourself entirely from all creatures. and if Jesus be not your friend above all else. if you turn back to the outside world.33 everything. Of all those who are dear to you. 12Isa. and great wisdom to know how to keep Him. indeed. You may quickly drive Him away and lose His grace. all is hard. . Your Beloved is such that He will not accept what belongs to another -. If Jesus be with you. Cling. that nearly all the trust you place in men is a total loss. to be enthroned therein as King in His own right. if you drive Him away and lose Him. but Jesus for His own sake. Let all things be loved for the sake of Jesus. The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the poor. without Jesus. however. If. And. and He will remain with you. neither confide in nor depend upon a wind-shaken reed. Be humble and peaceful. therefore. apart from Him. for "all flesh is grass"12 and all its glory. but living with Him is a sweet paradise. no enemy can harm you. It is a great art to know how to converse with Jesus. 13John 11:28. and you will often be disappointed if you seek comfort and gain in them.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. if you seek yourself. whereas no one is so rich as the man who lives in His grace. whereas he who loses Him loses more than the whole world. Be devout and calm. Likewise. Choose the opposition of the whole world rather than offend Jesus. Did not Mary Magdalen rise at once from her weeping when Martha said to her: "The Master is come.He wants your heart for Himself alone. Thus. like the flower of grass. He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure. you seek Jesus in all things. The Eighth Chapter THE INTIMATE FRIENDSHIP OF JESUS WHEN Jesus is near. but if He says only a word. Therefore. you are acting foolishly if you trust or rejoice in any other. You will quickly be deceived if you look only to the outward appearance of men. 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. you will be very sad and desolate. You will find. trust yourself to the glory of Him who alone can help you when all others fail. to Jesus in life and death. and calleth for thee"?13 Happy is the hour when Jesus calls one from tears to joy of spirit. you will surely find Him. a good above every good. let Him be your special love. Jesus would gladly dwell within you.

if at the coming of grace. but prefers severe trials and hard labors for the sake of Christ. Thus. must learn to part with an intimate and much-needed friend for the love of God. and to think nothing of one's own merit. the day. Be pure and free within. and for love of Christ patiently suffered the great high priest of God. do not be presumptuous. When. conquered the world because he despised everything in it that seemed pleasing to him. by his love for the Creator he overcame the love of man. with his priest. nor let yourself be taken up with the love of anyone. not to seek oneself in anything. does not fall back upon consolations nor seek such pleasures of sense. and chose instead of human consolation the good pleasure of God. after night. do not be overjoyed. On the contrary. When he trusts in himself. however. The true lover of Christ. Never desire special praise or love. . When the grace of God comes to a man he can do all things. for this hour will pass and temptation will come in its wake. Lawrence. he easily takes to human consolation. knowing that in the end we must all be parted from one another. 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. however. for he whom the grace of God sustains travels easily enough. A man must fight long and bravely against himself before he learns to master himself fully and to direct all his affections toward God. You must bring to God a clean and open heart if you wish to attend and see how sweet the Lord is. So you. Do not exult. to affliction. for after winter comes summer. more careful and wary in all your actions. but understand that it is His gift and not your meriting. receive it gratefully. Sixtus. Do not take it to heart when you are deserted by a friend. therefore. but be the humbler for the gift. Yet. unentangled with any creature. for that belongs to God alone Who has no equal.34 Jesus Christ must be loved alone with a special love for He alone. abandoned. The Ninth Chapter WANTING NO SHARE IN COMFORT IT IS not hard to spurn human consolation when we have the divine. a great calm. to be taken from him. spiritual consolation is given by God. The holy martyr. Does it matter much. and only with difficulty does a man divest himself of self. of all friends. in this condition he should not become dejected or despair. but let Jesus be in you and in every good man. It is. he should calmly await the will of God and bear whatever befalls him in praise of Jesus Christ. too. is good and faithful. and after the storm. as it were. and pray to Him that all may know and love Him. For Him and in Him you must love friends and foes alike. who sincerely pursues virtue. 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. you are cheerful and devout? This is an hour desired by all. Never wish that anyone's affection be centered in you. whom he loved dearly. but when it leaves him he becomes poor and weak. 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.

then." he says. then. What man in the world."15 In what can I hope. "To him that overcometh.'" But when grace was taken away. 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. devout brethren. . This is neither new nor strange to one who knows God's ways. and hath had mercy on me: the Lord became my helper. we who are weak and poor ought not to despair because we are fervent at times and at other times cold."16 Divine consolation. and testifying that he was heard. 15Job 7:18. you must never cease your preparation for battle. would not readily accept consolation and spiritual joy. and temptation follows in order that he may not pride himself on the good he has done. sweet songs and hymns. and Thou provest him suddenly. to carrying your cross rather than to enjoyment. declared: "In my prosperity I said: 'I shall never be moved. he adds what he experienced in himself: "Thou didst hide Thy face. he receives the fruit of his prayer. for the spirit comes and goes according to His will. do not at once despair but wait humbly and patiently for the heavenly visit. is not worthy of the sublime contemplation of God who has not been tried by some tribulation for the sake of God." And how was he helped? "Thou hast turned. holy books. "I will give to eat of the Tree of Life. No saint was so sublimely rapt and enlightened as not to be tempted before and after. 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. Of this the blessed Job declared: "Thou visitest him early in the morning. and I will make supplication to my God. because on the right and on the left are enemies who never rest. Thus there was one who. since God can restore to you more abundant solace. if he could always have them. is given in order to make a man braver in enduring adversity. and heavenly consolation is promised to all those proved by temptation. will I cry. saying: "To Thee. The devil does not sleep.35 When consolation is taken away." says Christ. and I was troubled. rather he prays more earnestly to the Lord. and hast surrounded me with gladness. "my mourning into joy. He. beautiful treatises."14 If this is the case with great saints. indeed." Meanwhile he does not despair. or in whom ought I trust. benefits which excel all earthly delights and pleasures of 14Ps. says "The Lord hath heard. for such change of fortune often visited the great saints and prophets of old. 16Apoc. all these help and please but little when I am abandoned by grace and left to my poverty. when grace was with him. 2:7. save only in the great mercy of God and the hope of heavenly grace? For though I have with me good men. For temptation is usually the sign preceding the consolation that is to follow." At length. 29:7-12. nor is the flesh yet dead. faithful friends. At such times there is no better remedy than patience and resignation of self to the will of God. O Lord. therefore.

Even though He give punishments and scourges. The Eleventh Chapter FEW LOVE THE CROSS OF JESUS JESUS has always many who love His heavenly kingdom. Many follow Him to the breaking of bread. they are full of truth and heavenly glory. let him be cautious and humble lest he lose it. Many love Him as long as they encounter no hardship. since false freedom of mind and overconfidence in self are serious obstacles to these visitations from heaven. many praise . nor do I care for contemplation that leads to pride. They desire above all things that He be praised in themselves and in all His saints -. God does well in giving the grace of consolation. are alone truly pleasant and noble. nor every desire pure. and what is wont to be given the humble will be taken away from the proud.this is their constant purpose. but few to the drinking of the chalice of His passion. Give Him thanks. Grace is always given to him who is duly grateful. then. He who desires to keep the grace of God ought to be grateful when it is given and patient when it is withdrawn. since the moment of temptation is always nigh. nor is all that is sweet good. I do not desire consolation that robs me of contrition. while spiritual joys. they seek no glory from one another but only that which comes from God alone. Let him pray that it return. Being established and strengthened in God. Give to God what is God's and ascribe to yourself what is yours. but few who care for trial. so much the more glorious they are. Many revere His miracles. Be grateful. but few who bear His cross. few wish to suffer anything for Him. Now. The saints who are greatest before God are those who consider themselves the least. He has many who desire consolation. Always take the lowest place and the highest will be given you. a man can never enjoy them just as he wishes. He finds many to share His table. and who learns by the lash of its withdrawal. for the least gift and you will be worthy to receive a greater. born of virtue and infused by God into pure minds. indeed. They attribute to God whatever good they have received. but place upon yourself alone the blame and the punishment your fault deserves. The man who has been taught by the gift of grace. I accept willingly the grace whereby I become more humble and contrite. for His grace. Since they do not desire vainglory. All desire to be happy with Him. Consider the least gift as the greatest. few approach the shame of the Cross. the gifts of grace cannot flow in us when we are ungrateful to the Giver.36 the body? The latter. and the more humble they are within themselves. no gift will appear too small or worthless. but few to take part in His fasting. the most contemptible as something special. for the highest cannot exist apart from the lowest. they can by no means be proud. Thus. therefore. when we do not return them to the Fountainhead. if you but look to the dignity of the Giver. And. but will rather admit his poverty and emptiness. but man does evil in not returning everything gratefully to God. for not all that is high is holy. because He acts for our welfare in whatever He allows to befall us. are either vain or base. more willing to renounce self. will never dare to attribute any good to himself. nor all that is dear to us pleasing to God. accept them.

25:41. "Deny thyself. let him make little of what may be considered great. yet they would continue to praise Him and wish always to give Him thanks. it is little. For truth itself has said: "When you shall have done all these things that are commanded you. 20Matt. 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. into everlasting fire. 16:24. . however. in the cross is joy of spirit. Then all the servants of the cross. take up thy cross and follow Me. the one thing that is most necessary to him. no one is more powerful. let him consider it as nothing. 24:16."18 No one. 18Ps."19 seems hard. Even if He should never give them consolation.'"17 Then he will be truly poor and stripped in spirit. no one freer than he who knows how to leave all things and think of himself as the least of all. when he has done all that he knows ought to be done. he forsake himself. If a man give all his wealth. if he have great virtue and much ardent devotion. and give up all private affections. they fall either into complaints or into deep dejection. let him in all honesty call himself an unprofitable servant. ye cursed. then. What is this one thing? That leaving all. This sign of the cross will be in the heavens when the Lord comes to judge. it is nothing. will draw near with great trust to Christ. who love Him for His own sake and not for any comfort of their own. 19Matt. in the cross is protection from enemies. in the cross is highest virtue. But if Jesus hides Himself and leaves them for a while. in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness. Those. Then.37 and bless Him as long as they receive some comfort from Him. 17Luke 17:10. say: 'we are unprofitable servants. on the contrary. if he do great penance. the judge. in the cross is strength of mind. do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation. but it will be much harder to hear that final word: "Depart from Me. he is still far afield. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross."20 Those who hear the word of the cross and follow it willingly now. What power there is in pure love for Jesus -. need not fear that they will hear of eternal damnation on the day of judgment. bless Him in all trial and anguish of heart as well as in the bliss of consolation. in the cross is perfect holiness. who during life made themselves one with the Crucified. and especially. is more wealthy than such a man. Why. if he gain all knowledge. in the cross is life. The Twelfth Chapter THE ROYAL ROAD OF THE HOLY CROSS TO MANY the saying. completely renounce himself.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. he still lacks a great deal. and with the prophet may say: "I am alone and poor.

you will not find a higher way. . Behold. what is worse. The cross. and follow Jesus. without. you will find another and perhaps a heavier one. it awaits you everywhere. too. and still you will find that some suffering must always be borne. For He wishes you to learn to bear trial without consolation.38 Take up your cross. for this mortal life is full of miseries and marked with crosses on all sides. so much the more is the spirit strengthened by inward grace. for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. but here there shall be. because as his love increases. than the way of the holy cross. "It behooveth Christ to suffer. and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown."21 How is it that you look for another way than this. therefore. you are mistaken if you seek anything but to suffer. you shall also share His glory. and to rise again from the dead. Arrange and order everything to suit your will and judgment. you cannot escape it. our Lord. and you shall enter eternal life. or within -you will find a cross in everything. No one understands the passion of Christ so thoroughly or heartily as the man whose lot it is to suffer the like himself. the more the flesh is distressed by affliction. is not without hope of consolation. At times you will be forsaken by God. There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way of the holy cross and daily mortification. . 26. seek what you will. therefore. that he does not wish to be without sorrow or pain.above. . you shall also live with Him. though still you have to bear it. so much heavier will he frequently find the cross. Indeed. though afflicted in many ways. You cannot escape. And when he carries it willingly. If you die with Him. Go where you will. If you carry the cross willingly. at times troubled by those about you and. you create a burden for yourself and increase the load. you will often grow weary of yourself. and thus you will always find the cross. is always ready. and upon your dying on the cross everything depends. and upon it He died for you. No matter where you may go. If you carry it unwillingly. the pain of his exile also increases. and do you seek rest and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself. Not infrequently a man is so strengthened by his love of trials and hardship in his desire to conform to the cross of Christ. because he knows that great reward is coming to him for bearing his cross. Yet such a man. the more spiritual progress a person makes. nor a less exalted but safer way. that you. it will carry and lead you to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering. every pang of tribulation is changed into hope of solace from God. you cannot be relieved by any remedy or comfort but must bear with it as long as God wills. Turn where you will -. to submit yourself wholly to Him that you may become more humble through suffering. Either you will experience bodily pain or you will undergo tribulation of spirit in your soul. and so enter into his glory. Besides. since he believes he will be 21Luke 24:46. the royal way of the holy cross? The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom. might take up your cross and long to die upon it. 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. below. . He Himself opened the way before you in carrying His cross. in the cross is everything. and if you share His suffering. willingly or unwillingly. Whose every hour on earth knew the pain of His passion. If you cast away one cross.

No man is fit to enjoy heaven unless he has resigned himself to suffer hardship for Christ. Our merit and progress consist not in many pleasures and comforts but rather in enduring great afflictions and sufferings. that is. When you shall have come to the point where suffering is sweet and acceptable for the sake of Christ. to suffering and death. If you put your mind to the things you ought to consider. you would soon be in a better state and would find peace. With good reason. 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."22 To suffer. you ought to wish rather to suffer for Christ than to enjoy many consolations. If you were but worthy to suffer something for the name of Jesus. 22Acts 9:16. the more a man dies to himself. Leave consolation to God. . remains your lot. if you mean to love Jesus and serve Him forever. then. Realize that you must lead a dying life. no matter where you are. then consider yourself fortunate. and there is no way to evade the trials and sorrows of life but to bear them. If you rely upon yourself. It is the grace of Christ. If you had to make a choice. the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come. be ready to bear sufferings and consider them the greatest consolation. to bear bravely the cross of your Lord. Nothing is more acceptable to God. Set yourself. nothing more helpful for you on this earth than to suffer willingly for Christ. and not the virtue of man. the devil. the more he begins to live unto God. ought you to be willing to suffer a little for Christ since many suffer much more for the world. to despise self and wish to be despised. what great edification to those about you! For all men praise patience though there are few who wish to practice it. then. so long will you be unfortunate.39 the more acceptable to God if he is able to endure more and more grievous things for His sake. Jesus said: "I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake. to endure contempt gladly. strength will be given you from heaven and the world and the flesh will be made subject to your word.this is not man's way. to chastise the body and bring it to subjection. if you are armed with faith and signed with the cross of Christ. then. what great glory would be in store for you. and so you will find it wherever you may hide. let Him do as most pleases Him. and the tribulation you seek to evade will follow you everywhere. you can do none of these things. for troublesome and miserable life will always be. for even though you alone were to undergo them all. to desire no prosperous days on earth -. You will not even fear your enemy. for you have found paradise on earth. you were not thereby insured against suffering. Thus it must be. what great joy to all the saints of God. Drink the chalice of the Lord with affection it you wish to be His friend and to have part with Him. Who out of love was crucified for you. To carry the cross. for thus you would be more like Christ and more like all the saints. but if you trust in the Lord. But as long as suffering irks you and you seek to escape. to love the cross. On your part. like a good and faithful servant of Christ. to flee honors. to suffer any adversity and loss. Be ready to suffer many adversities and many kinds of trouble in this miserable life. Although you were taken to the third heaven with Paul.

40 If. we have read and searched all that has been written. indeed. let him deny himself. there were anything better or more useful for man's salvation than suffering. 23Luke 9:23. ."23 When. Christ would have shown it by word and example. and follow Me.that through much suffering we must enter into the kingdom of God. therefore. and take up his cross daily. let this be the final conclusion -. 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.

who receives the word of consolation from His lips. 32:2. therefore. Blessed are they who penetrate inwardly. 118:125. . Blessed indeed are the ears that listen. and close the door of your senses. Remain with Me and you will find peace. . and who cut themselves off from the hindrances of the world. Let Thy speech distil as the dew. so that you can hear what the Lord your God speaks within you."28 24Ps. "I am your salvation. 26Ps. . and make yourself pleasing and faithful to your Creator so that you may attain to true happiness. 27Ps. Lord. 118:36. my soul. for Thy servant heareth. Dismiss all passing things and seek the eternal. and pay no heed to the murmurings of this world. 84:9. not to the voice which sounds without. . 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. Blessed are they who long to give their time to God."25 "I am Thy servant. Incline my heart to Thine ordinances27 ."24 Blessed is the soul who hears the Lord speaking within her. Blessed are the ears that catch the accents of divine whispering. Consider these things. The Second Chapter TRUTH SPEAKS INWARDLY WITHOUT THE SOUND OF WORDS THE DISCIPLE SPEAK. . "I am your peace and your life. who try daily to prepare themselves more and more to understand mysteries. 251 Kings 3:9. 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.41 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. Give me understanding that I may know Thine ordinances26 . 28Deut." says your Beloved.

Lord. can do nothing. You give understanding to the hearer. Lord. for Your servant listens." Your praise. You give the increase. Let not Moses speak to me. and accepted with all humility and with great affection. They proclaim commandments. They point out the way. THE DISCIPLE "Happy is the man whom Thou admonishest.42 The children of Israel once said to Moses: "Speak thou to us and we will hear thee: let not the Lord speak to us. They do indeed speak beautifully. O Lord God. and they are not to be weighed by man's understanding. You give strength for the journey. They are not to be invoked in vanity but are to be heard in silence. therefore. without them. My words are spirit and life. But many are hardened. 31Ps. indeed. but they cannot impart the spirit. for life. can instruct me perfectly. They cry out words. but You speak. not so do I pray. . known and not loved. and even to this day I continue to speak to all men. Speak. You help us to keep them. lest we die. without You. THE VOICE OF CHRIST I taught the prophets from the beginning."29 Not so. the Lord my God. to give him peace from the days of evil. Many are deaf to My voice. They work only outwardly. believed and not obeyed."31 and that he be not desolate on earth. Most men listen 29Exod. Your glory. but You. "Thou hast the words of eternal 30 Speak to me for the comfort of my soul and for the amendment of my life. lest the word heard and not kept. utter fine words." Do not let Moses or any of the prophets speak to me. Lord. 20:19. O Lord. but You unlock their meaning. The Third Chapter LISTEN HUMBLY TO THE WORDS OF GOD. and Your everlasting honor. 30John 6:69. everlasting truth. Rather with Samuel the prophet I entreat humbly and earnestly: "Speak. Who inspired and enlightened all the prophets. You lay bare the sense. hear My words. rise up in judgment against me. speak lest I die and prove barren if I am merely given outward advice and am not inflamed within. They deliver the message. MANY DO NOT HEED THEM THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. for Thy servant heareth. words of greatest sweetness surpassing all the knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of earth. They water on the outside. They. for You alone. therefore. They place before us mysteries. but if You remain silent they cannot inflame the heart. 93:12. and teachest out of Thy law. whereas they. You instruct and enlighten our hearts.

that they rejoice more in vanity than you in truth. The Fourth Chapter WE MUST WALK BEFORE GOD IN HUMILITY AND TRUTH 32Isa. The world. Sometimes indeed their expectations fail them. you will learn in the day of visitation. because I am nothing. And who am I that I should dare to speak to You? I am Your poorest and meanest servant. Remember Your tender mercies and fill my heart with Your grace. Yet remember me. nor does it send away empty-handed him who trusts in Me. a vile worm. for You are my wisdom Who know me truly. for eternal life many will scarcely lift a foot from the ground. You fill all things: only the sinner do You leave emptyhanded. listen to the cause: for a small gain they travel far. if only a man remain faithful in My love to the end. To them I read two lessons daily -. They seek a petty reward." 32 And if you ask why. I am wont to visit My elect in two ways -. is served with great eagerness: I promise great and eternal things and the hearts of men grow dull. lazy and complaining servant. He who has My words and despises them has that which shall condemn him on the last day. Do not delay Your visitation.by temptation and by consolation. What you do not understand when you read. and Who knew me even before the world was made and before I was born into it. for an unchanging good. O Sidon. But.one reproving their vices. What I have said I will fulfill. You are all my good. for the greatest honor and for glory everlasting. Teach me to live worthily and humbly in Your sight. the strong approver of all who are devoted to Me. They are more ready to follow the appetite of their flesh than the good pleasure of God. You can do all things. for in time of temptation they will be very necessary. They are not afraid to work day and night for a trifle or an empty promise. just. lest in Your sight my soul become as desert land. Lord. and holy. 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.43 more willingly to the world than to God. Do not withdraw Your consolation. to do Your will. much more poor and contemptible than I know or dare to say. which promises small and passing things. that they should be found more eager for perdition than you are for life. Lord. I am the rewarder of all the good. What I have promised I will give. Teach me. and I can do nothing. it must be said to their shame that men begrudge even the least fatigue. for a reward beyond estimate. for the sea speaketh. . but My promise never deceives. and sometimes fight shamefully in law courts for a single piece of money. 23:4. Be ashamed. You Who will not allow Your works to be in vain. I have nothing. then. How can I bear this life of misery unless You comfort me with Your mercy and grace? Do not turn Your face from me. You alone are good. You give all things. Write My words in your heart and meditate on them earnestly. the other exhorting them to progress in virtue. A PRAYER FOR THE GRACE OF DEVOTION O Lord my God.

but you have many things for which you should think yourself vile. then you shall be free indeed. and I shall walk with You in great freedom of heart. are quickly overcome. and the truth shall free him from seducers and from the slanders of wicked men. Let the eternal truth please you above all things. they wish to know My secrets and to understand the high things of God. Led on by a certain curiosity and arrogance. Some have Me on their lips when there is little of Me in their hearts. and fly nothing as you do your own vices and sins. and let your extreme unworthiness always displease you. The Fifth Chapter THE WONDERFUL EFFECT OF DIVINE LOVE . You fall quickly. some in pictures.44 THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. quickly troubled. indeed. and quickly undone. Some carry their devotion only in books. You are subject to many passions and entangled in them. such men often fall into great temptations and sins. constantly long for everlasting things. Some men walk before Me without sincerity. Hence. Let your truth teach me. Let nothing seem important or precious or desirable except that which is everlasting. these should be more unpleasant for you than any material losses. and keep me safe to the end. for you are much weaker than you can comprehend. to neglect the world. and you shall not care for the vain words of men. let none of the things you do seem great to you. they are unwilling to hear of earthly affairs and only with reluctance do they serve the necessities of nature. with enlightened understanding and purified affections. These sense what the Spirit of truth speaks within them: for He teaches them to despise earthly things and to love those of heaven. You have nothing in which you can glory. some in outward signs and figures. I ask that it be with me as You say. walk before Me in truth. abhor nothing. He who walks before Me in truth shall be defended from the attacks of evil. and each day and night to desire heaven. and because I am against them. Fear nothing. but examine your sins -. Others.in what serious things you have offended and how many good things you have neglected. THE DISCIPLE O Lord. Let it free me from all evil affection and badly ordered love. and seek Me always in the simplicity of your heart. to the neglect of themselves and their own salvation. For if the truth has made you free. and never think yourself to be someone because of your good works. THE VOICE OF CHRIST I shall teach you those things which are right and pleasing to Me. Let it guard me. Through their own pride and curiosity. Of yourself you always tend to nothing. You are truly a sinner. Consider your sins with great displeasure and sorrow. it is true. Fear the judgments of God! Dread the wrath of the Almighty! Do not discuss the works of the Most High.

45 THE DISCIPLE I BLESS You. Let me sing the hymn of love. long-suffering. sincere. He does not look to the gift but turns himself above all gifts to the Giver. performing and effecting much where he who does not love fails and falls. For it bears a burden without being weighted and renders sweet all that is bitter. for love is born of God and cannot rest except in God. Let me love You more than myself. it is not tired. who am not worthy of it. Let my soul exhaust itself in praising You. kind. Let me be rapt in love. Love is watchful. and rejoices. Love is an excellent thing. he is free. it is able to do all. Nothing is sweeter than love. prudent. pleasant. that I may learn to taste with the inward lips of my heart how sweet it is to love. forever and ever. lest it be entangled in any temporal interest and overcome by adversity. for in whatever . runs. You are my glory and the exultation of my heart. You are all mine and I am all Yours. God of all consolation. nothing fuller. it forces its way upward and passes unharmed through every obstacle. it does not slumber. I bless You always and glorify You with Your only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit. Love feels no burden. nothing is more pleasant. and manly. but like a living flame. my love. Lord God. and from Whom every good flows and proceeds. and let me not love myself except for Your sake. and bears all wrongs with equanimity. a poor creature. and does not plead impossibility. a burning torch. You are my hope and refuge in the day of my tribulation. thinks nothing of troubles. and it says: "My God. For this reason. it is not straitened. all that is within me will rejoice. attempts more than it is able. Let me rise above self in great fervor and wonder. Who is above all things. therefore. to the heights. Visit me often. a very great blessing. it is not confused. Sleeping." Love is swift. the Paraclete. my Love. It makes every difficulty easy. O heavenly Father. as the law of love. I must be strengthened and comforted by You. patient and faithful. I may be fit to love. it will not be held down by anything low. Thanks to You. Wearied. Love wishes to be free and estranged from all worldly affections. nothing stronger or higher or wider. and teach me Your holy discipline. and delightful. because he rests in the one sovereign Good. Ah. Love is strong. Free me from evil passions and cleanse my heart of all disorderly affection so that. strong to suffer. Pressed. commands. Father of my Lord Jesus Christ. If a man loves. rejoicing out of love. He gives all for all and possesses all in all. Who is above all created things. my holy Lover. which shines forth from You. when You come into my heart. not bound. Love tends upward. and firm to persevere. But because my love is as yet weak and my virtue imperfect. Who with Your comfort sometimes refresh me. Love often knows no limits but overflows all bounds. because it believes that it may and can do all things. One who is in love flies. indeed. and let me follow You. he will know the sound of this voice. Give me an increase of love. O Father of mercies. lest its inward sight be obstructed. Love is never self-seeking. The noble love of Jesus spurs to great deeds and excites longing for that which is more perfect. and nothing better in heaven or on earth. for having condescended to remember me. In You let me love all those who truly love You. healed and purified within. how sweet to be dissolved in love and bathe in it. Alarmed. For this warm affection of soul is a loud voice crying in the ears of God.

and so long as they displease you and you struggle against them. on account of a slight difficulty you give up what you have undertaken and are too eager to seek consolation. no matter what they concern. The Sixth Chapter THE PROVING OF A TRUE LOVER THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. if you sometimes feel less devout than you wish toward Me or My saints. for there is no living in love without sorrow. always trusting and hoping in Him even when He is distasteful to it. Lord? THE VOICE OF CHRIST Because. it is a matter of merit and not a loss. For these are evils which you suffer rather than commit. He regards the affection of the Giver rather than the value of the gift. He suggests many evil thoughts that he may cause you . so in adversity I am not displeasing to him. It is mean and contemptible in its own eyes. and upright. All is not lost. guarded in all the senses. and sets his Beloved above all gifts.46 a person seeks himself there he falls from love. and from your firm purpose of advancing in virtue. Love is subject and obedient to superiors. It is neither soft nor light. you are not yet a brave and wise lover. A lover must embrace willingly all that is difficult and bitter for the sake of the Beloved. then. 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. But to fight against evil thoughts which attack you is a sign of virtue and great merit. firm and quiet. THE DISCIPLE Why. from devout meditation on My passion. because it comes and goes. That good and sweet feeling which you sometimes have is the effect of present grace and a certain foretaste of your heavenly home. It is sober and chaste. and he should not turn away from Him because of adversities. The brave lover stands firm in temptations and pays no heed to the crafty persuasions of the enemy. The noble lover does not rest in the gift but in Me Who am above every gift. You must not lean upon it too much. let strange fantasies disturb you. As I please him in prosperity. Do not. therefore. The wise lover regards not so much the gift of Him Who loves as the love of Him Who gives. devoted and thankful to God. 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. nor intent upon vain things. Love is circumspect. humble. It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy and then quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart. Hold strongly to your resolution and keep a right intention toward God. especially from the veneration of the saints.

Be still! Be silent! Though you bring many troubles upon me I will have none of you. When you are in grace. trusting in My most abundant grace.47 weariness and horror. rise again with greater strength than before. accuse him. The Lord is my light. and thus draw you away from prayer and holy reading. Let the fall of these. unclean things. Some careless persons. have destroyed themselves because they wished to do more than they were able. Begone. my heart will not fear. my salvation. Your progress in spiritual life does not consist in having the grace of consolation. my Redeemer. humbled and impoverished. for the Lord is my Helper. A humble confession displeases him and." Fight like a good soldier and if you sometimes fall through weakness. But if they wish to follow their own notions rather than to trust in others who are more experienced. but on the contrary do what you can do as well as you know how. even though he often sets traps to deceive you. so that you neither become listless in prayer nor neglect your other duties in the least. that they might learn not to fly with their own wings but to trust in Mine. Do not cling too closely to this affection. but in enduring its withdrawal with humility. 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. Say to him: "Away. The way of man. and patience. and instead to humble yourself and fear lest it is being given to one unworthy of it. There are many. But beware of vain complacency and pride. and do not neglect yourself completely because of your dryness or anxiety of mind. does not always lie in his own power. and you shall be confounded. not to be elated by it. think how miserable and needy you are without it. They failed to take account of their own weakness. at least if they are unwilling . unclean spirit! Shame. indeed. who immediately become impatient and lazy when things do not go well with them. he would make you omit Holy Communion. For many are led into error through these faults and sometimes fall into almost perpetual blindness. as much as He wishes. and followed the desire of their heart rather than the judgment of their reason. be a warning to you and a constant incentive to humility. It is God's prerogative to give grace and to console when He wishes. because they presumed to greater things than pleased God they quickly lost His grace. for Jesus will be my strength. 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. for it may quickly be changed to its opposite. as it shall please Him and no more. I would rather die and suffer all torments than consent to you. Whom shall I fear? Though armies unite against me. most wretched seducer! You shall have no part in me. Do not believe him or heed him. not to speak or think much of it. They who had built their homes in heaven became helpless. however. Then. vile outcasts. who proudly presume on self. resignation. misusing the grace of devotion. and whom He wishes. miserable creature! You are but filth to bring such things to my ears. if he could. they will be in danger of a sorry end. When he suggests evil.

I who am but dust and ashes. and to restrain and rule your spirit well. Then. He who wishes to be too secure in time of peace will often become too dejected and fearful in time of trial. deal with me above all my merits and above all that I dare to hope or ask. for I am nothing and I did not know it. and all self-esteem. by loving myself badly I lost myself. It is Your love that does this. Such trials are often more beneficial than if you had things always as you wish. But if You look upon me for an instant. If I consider myself anything more than this.what I am. and snatching me. It is better for you to have little than to have much which may become the source of pride. 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. behold You stand against me. remember that the light which I have withdrawn for a time as a warning to you and for My own glory may again return. or by knowledge of the Scriptures. by his capacity for divine charity. from evils without number. Seldom do they who are wise in their own conceits bear humbly the guidance of others. however. if I shrink from all self-esteem and account myself as the dust which I am. I am at once made strong and filled with new joy. If I abase myself. For a man's merits are not measured by many visions or consolations. graciously upholding me.48 to be drawn from their vanity. Great wonder it is that I. guarding me from so many grave dangers. by his disregard and positive contempt of self. When a spirit of fervor is enkindled within you. but by the truth of his humility. For You. no matter how little. If you were wise enough to remain always humble and small in your own eyes. O sweetest Lord. as I may truly say. 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. and my sins bear witness to the truth which I cannot contradict. The Eighth Chapter SELF-ABASEMENT IN THE SIGHT OF GOD THE DISCIPLE I WILL speak to my Lord. It is there You show me to myself -. and more. Your light will enshroud my heart. will sink in the depths of my nothingness to perish forever. you may well meditate on how you will feel when the fervor leaves. by preferring to be despised and humiliated rather than honored by others. Indeed. am so suddenly lifted up. or by his being in a higher position than others. He who gives himself up entirely to enjoyment acts very unwisely. who of my own weight always sink to the depths. you would not fall so quickly into danger and offense. for he forgets his former helplessness and that chastened fear of the Lord which dreads to lose a proffered grace. what I have been. supporting me in so many necessities. by his constancy in seeking purely and entirely the honor of God. and so graciously embraced by You. . Your grace will favor me. Yet a little knowledge humbly and meekly pursued is better than great treasures of learning sought in vain complacency. if I humble myself to nothingness. when this happens. I am nothing but total weakness. and what I am coming to. Left to myself.

will be purified. Refer all things principally to Me. because no one is good except God alone. To me You have shown the sweetness of Your charity. however. and I exact most strictly a return of thanks.49 May You be blessed. The Tenth Chapter TO DESPISE THE WORLD AND SERVE GOD IS SWEET THE DISCIPLE NOW again I will speak. must all things be brought back. I have given all things. The Ninth Chapter ALL THINGS SHOULD BE REFERRED TO GOD AS THEIR LAST END THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. For if you seek yourself in anything. This is the truth by which vainglory is put to flight. How great. and devout. for it is I Who have given them all. my God. Divine love conquers all and enlarges the powers of the soul. Lord. for You are our salvation. and my King Who is in heaven. you will rejoice only in Me. as to their highest source. my Lord. and therefore to Me. I will that all be returned to Me again. humble. there neither envy nor narrowness of heart nor self-love will have place. that we may be thankful. Convert us to You. and they who serve Me willingly and freely shall receive grace upon grace. you immediately fail interiorly and become dry of heart. O Lord. yet Your nobility and infinite goodness never cease to do good even for those who are ungrateful and far from You. Who is to be praised above all things and above all to be blessed. I must be your supreme and last end. If you are truly wise. Consider each thing as flowing from the highest good. 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. but shall be burdened and distressed in many ways. for although I am unworthy of any benefits. Hence you ought not to attribute any good to yourself or ascribe virtue to any man. which are too often perversely inclined to self and to creatures. especially in . From Me the small and the great. Where heavenly grace and true charity enter in. I will speak to the hearing of my God. and our strength. but give all to God without Whom man has nothing. and will not be silent. if you truly desire to be blessed. He who wishes to glory in things apart from Me. the poor and the rich draw the water of life as from a living fountain. therefore. is the multitude of Your mercies which You have stored up for those who love You. or to delight in some good as his own. our courage. shall not be grounded in true joy or gladdened in his heart. With this intention your affections.

Truly You are my Lord.this is my desire. and have exhibited grace and friendship beyond his deserving.yea more than all this -. THE DISCIPLE What are they. and I am Your poor servant. heaven and earth which You created for the service of man. It is a great honor. instead it should appear great and wonderful that You condescend to receive into Your service one who is so poor and unworthy. Behold. Do You supply whatever is wanting in me. it is necessary for you to learn many things which you have not yet learned well. stand ready. and everlasting praise. all honor.50 having made me when I did not exist. What return shall I make to You for this grace? For it is not given every man to forsake all things. pleasing to God. terrible to the demons. O Fountain of unceasing love. to renounce the world. I wish to do this -. But even this is little. and each day they do whatever You command. for You have appointed angels also to minister to man -. They who enter upon the narrow way for Your name and cast aside all worldly care will attain great freedom of mind. 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. Is it anything great that I should serve You Whom every creature is bound to serve? It should not seem much to me. which makes man truly free and holy! O sacred state of religious bondage which makes man equal to the angels. Behold. O sweet and joyful service of God. in having commanded me to love You. praising You without ever becoming weary. 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. They who give themselves gladly to Your most holy service will possess great grace. and worthy of the commendation of all the faithful! O service to be embraced and always desired.You Yourself have condescended to serve man and have promised to give him Yourself. a great glory to serve You and to despise all things for Your sake. bound to serve You with all my powers. They who cast aside all carnal delights for Your love will find the most sweet consolation of the Holy Ghost. 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. even those which I have and by which I serve You. what shall I say of You? How can I forget You. Lord? THE VOICE OF CHRIST . and undertake the religious life. all things are Yours. in having brought me back to serve You when I had gone far astray from You.

" Granted that they do have whatever they wish. Take care. however. Do you think that men of the world have no suffering. O Lord God. how will you endure the fire of purgatory? Of two evils. lest through your lack of discipline you create scandal for others. they who prosper in the world shall perish as smoke. You must pay no attention to what the flesh does or does not desire. that you do not rely too much on preconceived desire that has no reference to Me. then. lest you repent later on and be displeased with what at first pleased you and which you desired as being for the best. nor. THE VOICE OF CHRIST My child. 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. Desires very often inflame you and drive you madly on. lest through too much eagerness you bring upon yourself distraction of mind. any self-seeking lurk in you. "they enjoy many pleasures and follow their own wishes. yet My wish is not that you seek that peace which is free from temptations or meets with no opposition. or lest you be suddenly upset and fall because of resistance from others. The Twelfth Chapter ACQUIRING PATIENCE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CONCUPISCENCE THE DISCIPLE PATIENCE. on the other hand. even by force. should every contrary affection be at once rejected. taking pains that it be subjected. If you say that you cannot suffer much. because there are many adversities in this life." you will say. try to bear present evils patiently for the sake of God. and be not a lover of self but an earnest doer of My will. "But. on the other hand. or for your own advantage. and not to murmur against inconveniences. you are right.51 That you conform your desires entirely according to My good pleasure. it troubles you and weighs you down. No matter what plans I make for my own peace. and there shall be no memory of their past joys. Therefore. I see. in order that you may escape the everlasting punishments to come. but rather that you consider yourself as having found peace when you have been tormented with many tribulations and tried with many adversities. therefore they do not feel their troubles very much. If I am the cause. but consider whether you act for My honor. Even in this life they do not find rest in . It is sometimes well to use a little restraint even in good desires and inclinations. is very necessary for me. Sometimes. the lesser is always to be chosen. my life cannot be free from struggle and sorrow. Not every desire which seems good should be followed immediately. you must use violence and resist your sensual appetite bravely. If. to take pleasure in simple things. to the spirit. or perhaps but little? Ask even those who enjoy the most delights and you will learn otherwise. you will be well content with whatever I ordain. how long do you think it will last? Behold.

Likewise he who seeks private benefits for himself loses those which are common to all. And it is just. if you are not in harmony with the spirit. behold. There is no more troublesome. how false. Therefore. Learn to obey. you who are but earth and clay. when I. shows that his flesh is not yet perfectly obedient but that it often rebels and murmurs against him. weariness. Learn quickly. Because you still love yourself too inordinately. you who are but dust! Learn to humble yourself. the All-Powerful. in contempt of all worldly things and in the cutting off of all base pleasures shall your blessing be. but prayer will put him to flight and by steadfast. 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. The Thirteenth Chapter THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE HUMBLY SUBJECT TO THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS CHRIST THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. 36:4. The old serpent will sting and trouble you. At first you will not gain these blessings without sadness and toil and conflict. but it will be bridled by fervor of spirit. and fear. Who created all things out of nothing. how unreasonable and shameful all these pleasures are! Yet in their drunken blindness men do not understand this. "Seek thy pleasure in the Lord and He will give thee thy heart's desires. then. Since they seek and follow after pleasures without reason. subject yourself to man for the sake of God. For they often receive the penalty of sorrow from the very thing whence they believe their happiness comes. For the exterior enemy is more quickly overcome if the inner man is not laid waste. and bow down under the foot of every man! Learn to break your own will. but like brute beasts incur death of soul for the miserly enjoyment of a corruptible life. The flesh will murmur against you. but turn away from your own will. no worse enemy of the soul than you yourself. He who does not submit himself freely and willingly to his superior. do not pursue your lusts. the more you withdraw yourself from any solace of creatures. My child. Habit already formed will resist you. but it shall be overcome by a better habit. to submit to all subjection! Be zealous against yourself! Allow no pride to dwell in 33Ps. It is absolutely necessary that you conceive a true contempt for yourself if you wish to be victorious over flesh and blood. and great consolation shall be given you. the Most High. useful toil the way will be closed to him. they should not enjoy them without shame and bitterness. Further. How brief. he who attempts to escape obeying withdraws himself from grace."33 If you wish to be truly delighted and more abundantly comforted by Me. . you are afraid to resign yourself wholly to the will of others. to submit yourself to your superior if you wish to conquer your own flesh. who are but dust and nothingness. Is it such a great matter if you.52 these pleasures without bitterness. the sweeter and stronger comfort will you find in Me.

then. and might patiently endure contempt. 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. There is no wisdom if You cease to guide. I stand in awe as I consider that the heavens are not pure in Your sight. even they who speak are nothing. vile sinner. vain man. so that you might know My love and always be thankful for My benefits. and my soul is very much afraid. For behold. 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. The Fifteenth Chapter HOW ONE SHOULD FEEL AND SPEAK ON EVERY DESIRABLE THING . No chastity is secure if You do not guard it.53 you. We are truly unstable. There is no holiness. 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.how can I be presumptuous? They whose deeds seemed worthy of praise have fallen into the depths. We grow lukewarm. so that you might give yourself continually to true subjection and humility. You shake all my bones with fear and trembling. where I find myself to be nothing but bare nothingness! Where. Oh. Our vigilance avails nothing if Your holy watchfulness does not protect us. they will pass away with the sound of their words. then. If You found wickedness in the angels and did not spare them.I who am but dust -. but You inflame us. but visited by You we are lifted up and live. 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. to complain of? What answer can you make. no courage if You cease to defend. but the truth of the Lord remains forever. if You withdraw Your hand. 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. Nor shall he who has placed all his hope in God be moved by the tongues of flatterers. and I -. Left to ourselves we sink and perish. but You make us strong. to those who accuse you. Lord. Lord. and I have seen those who ate the bread of angels delighting themselves with the husks of swine. what will become of me? Stars have fallen from heaven. 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.

the everlasting Good. but for You -. I will sleep and take my rest. 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.would that I could do this worthily and perfectly!" A PRAYER THAT THE WILL OF GOD BE DONE Grant me Your grace. the Most High. Grant that I may always desire and will that which is most acceptable and pleasing to You. and even to know whether you are being moved by your own spirit.54 THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. Let my will always follow Yours and agree perfectly with it. so be it. if it be pleasing to You. if You see that it is expedient and profitable for me. It is difficult to be certain whether it is a good spirit or a bad one that prompts one to this or that. be it done in Your name. If you desire these present things too much. turn me about whichever way You will. you cannot enjoy full consolation or perfect delight except in God. that it may be with me. In this peace. my soul. Many who seemed at first to be led by a good spirit have been deceived in the end. then grant that I may use it to Your honor. and will be for Your greater honor. the selfsame that is in You. ready to obey in all things. Lord. But if You know that it will be harmful to me. You know what is better for me. the Consoler of the poor and the Helper of the humble. I am Your servant. and let me be unable to will or not will anything but what You will or do not will. If it be to Your honor. Place me where You will and deal with me freely in all things. let this be done or that be done as You please. Lord. and for Your sake love to be despised and unknown in this life. Therefore. as much as You will. Amen. Behold. Wait a little. Give me above all desires the desire to rest in You. Let my will be one with Yours in willing and in not willing. and work with me. Whatever the mind sees as good. when You will. Let Your will be mine. it is certain that they could not long endure. You alone are its rest. Above all. and of no good benefit to the welfare of my soul. Without You all things are difficult and troubled. O most merciful Jesus. commit the whole matter to Me with true resignation. Grant that I may die to all things in this world. then take this desire away from me. Not for myself do I desire to live. ask and desire in fear of God and humility of heart. this is the way you must speak on every occasion: "Lord." Not every desire is from the Holy Spirit. For if I alone should have all the world's comforts and could enjoy all its delights. Use temporal things but . and remain with me to the very end. my soul. you will lose those which are everlasting and heavenly. as will most please You. and in You let my heart have peace. wait for the divine promise and you will have an abundance of all good things in heaven. and say: "Lord. Grant what You will. even though it may seem right and good. I am in Your hand. Do with me as You know best. You are true peace of heart.

THE DISCIPLE O Lord. Jesus. let Your will and just trial of me be my greatest comfort. The devout man carries his Consoler. and of which the spiritual and pure of heart. I am ready to accept from Your hand both good and evil alike. You should be as ready to suffer as to enjoy. Keep me from all sin and I will fear neither death nor hell. but such as that for which the good and faithful servants of Christ wait. everywhere with him. I shall bless You. this is the disposition which you should have if you wish to walk with Me. Let this be my consolation. what You say is true." The Seventeenth Chapter ALL OUR CARE IS TO BE PLACED IN GOD THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. nor will You threaten forever. Your care for me is greater than all the care I can take of myself. But that which is received inwardly from the Truth is blessed and true. your whole blessedness and happiness consists -not indeed such happiness as is seen and praised by lovers of the world. in every place and at all times. allow me to do what I will with you. And if Your consolation be wanting to me. . whose conversation is in heaven. you feel in many things as human affection persuades. For whatever You shall do with me can only be good. do with me whatever pleases You. I shall suffer willingly for Your sake whatever You wish to send me. sorrow with joy. You should as willingly be destitute and poor as rich and satisfied. For he who does not cast all his care upon You stands very unsafely. the sweet and the bitter together. Who created all these things. and he says to Him: "Be with me. And if You wish me to be in light. Lord. For You will not always be angry. to be willing to forego all human comforting. I shall bless You forever. and for all that happens to me I am grateful. Even if you possessed all created things you could not be happy and blessed. Lord Jesus. Do not cast me out forever nor blot me out of the Book of Life. THE DISCIPLE Lord. and whatever tribulation befalls will not harm me. THE VOICE OF CHRIST My child. If You stoop down to comfort me. If You wish me to be in darkness.55 desire eternal things. again I shall bless You. for in God. You cannot be satisfied with any temporal goods because you were not created to enjoy them. If only my will remain right and firm toward You. Vain and brief is all human consolation. You think as a man. I shall bless You. I know what is best for you. and if You wish me to be afflicted. sometime have a foretaste.

especially in fulfilling the design of the Father. and it is made brighter and more endurable for the weak by Your example and the pathways of the saints. I came down from heaven for your salvation and took upon Myself your miseries. AFTER THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. even we who have heard of Your many miracles and teachings are still lukewarm. Disgrace and reviling I bore with patience. a most miserable sinner. that you might learn to be patient and bear the sufferings of this life without repining. who would have cared to follow? Alas. You have not yet resisted to the shedding of blood. should live patiently according to Your will. when the way thereto seemed darker than now. Often I heard many complaints against Me. had they not before their eyes Your holy example! Behold. For My blessings I received ingratitude. because You were patient in life. 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. so tried and tormented in many ways. But it has also more consolation than formerly under the old law when the gates of heaven were closed. and for My teaching scorn. and when so few cared to seek the eternal kingdom. what great thanks I owe You. it is fitting that I. that you may bear your own little . as long as You shall wish. 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.56 The Eighteenth Chapter TEMPORAL SUFFERINGS SHOULD BE BORNE PATIENTLY. could not enter heaven before Your sufferings and sacred death had paid the debt. Oh. the very painful woes of others. 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. What you suffer is very little compared with the great things they suffered who were so strongly tempted. Had You not gone before and taught us. therefore. Well may you remember. so severely troubled. My child? Think of My suffering and that of the saints. the elect. From the moment of My birth to My death on the cross. for My miracles blasphemies. I suffered great want of temporal goods. The just. not out of necessity but out of love. and. THE DISCIPLE O Lord. how many would have remained far behind. and cease complaining. suffering did not leave Me.

I propose to act bravely. at my lowliness and frailty which You know so well.57 ones the more easily. He has accused me of many things of which I never thought. but no matter how great an adversity befalls him. Without struggle you cannot obtain the crown of patience. and without fighting. no matter how small. However. no matter how often it comes or from whom it comes. is not truly patient. since to suffer and be troubled for Your sake is very beneficial for my soul. whether from a good and holy person or from a perverse and unworthy one. an equal. nor should I suffer things of this kind. examine if perhaps your impatience is not the cause of their apparent greatness. if you wish to gain the victory. try to bear them all patiently. THE DISCIPLE O Lord. and that I am quickly discouraged when any small adversity arises. But if you desire to be crowned. can pass without reward. When I think myself somewhat safe and when I am not expecting it. You know that I can suffer very little. from someone else I will gladly suffer as much as I think I should. and whether they are great or small. but when even a small temptation comes I find myself in great straits. and to You. Thus you will suffer more easily if your mind and habits are diligently trained to it. for it does not consider the virtue of patience or the One Who will reward it. Often it is a small thing that makes me downcast and sad. For with God nothing that is suffered for His sake. I frequently find myself almost overcome by a slight wind. The man who will suffer only as much as seems good to him. . O Lord. then. Look. fight bravely and bear up patiently. The better you dispose yourself to suffer. Let the torment of tribulation suffered for Your name be pleasant and desirable to me. For the truly patient man does not consider from whom the suffering comes. The Twentieth Chapter CONFESSING OUR WEAKNESS IN THE MISERIES OF LIFE THE DISCIPLE I WILL bring witness against myself to my injustice. he accepts it gratefully from the hand of God. I will confess my weakness. Without labor there is no rest. and if you refuse to suffer you are refusing the crown. no victory. Lord. And if they do not seem so small to you. for he has done me a great wrong." Such a thought is foolish. Be prepared for the fight. let that which seems naturally impossible to me become possible through Your grace. who will accept suffering only from those from whom he is pleased to accept it. Sometimes it is the merest trifle which gives rise to grievous temptations. whether from a superior. the more wisely you act and the greater is the reward promised you. therefore. 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. and counts it a great gain. or an inferior. Do not say: "I cannot bear this from such a man. but rather weighs the person and the offense committed.

The lust of the flesh. While I do not fully consent to them. above all knowledge and cleverness. yet do not readily give it up because the desires of the flesh have such great power. even while the first conflict is still raging. . where all things are full of snares and enemies? For when one trouble or temptation leaves. prevail and dominate me. above the angels and archangels and all the heavenly host. for He is the everlasting rest of the saints. while the pains and miseries. who entirely despise the world and seek to live for God under the rule of holy discipline. 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. another comes. above all fame and praise. Grant. Some things draw them to love the world. rest always in God.58 That I am so prone to fall and so weak in resisting my passions oppresses me frequently and confounds me in Your sight. because she has never seen or tasted the sweetness of God or the internal delight of virtue. still their assault is very troublesome and grievous to me. and assist him in all his undertakings! Strengthen me with heavenly courage lest the outer man. all sweetness and consolation. my God. and in how many ways it deceives. that I may seek my repose in You above every creature. every merit and desire. and finally. most mighty God of Israel. above all the joy and exultation that the mind can receive and feel. the miserable flesh. which are the just consequences of those things. all joy and gladness. Vicious pleasure overcomes the soul that is given to the world. How is it possible to love a life that has such great bitterness. They. it is loved. would consider the labor and sorrow of Your servant. above all the gifts and favors that You can give or pour down upon me. and many seek their delight in it. O my soul. how can it even be called life when it begets so many deaths and plagues? And yet. above all things visible and invisible. are not ignorant of the divine sweetness promised to those who truly renounce the world. above all health and beauty. and may I seek my repose in You above everything that is not You. Many persons often blame the world for being false and vain. many others begin unexpectedly. others make them despise it. Yet from the fact that abominable fancies rush in upon me much more easily than they leave. beget hatred and weariness of the world. and it wearies me exceedingly thus to live in daily strife. all riches and arts. Oh that You. Alas! What sort of life is this. my weakness becomes clear to me. and the pride of life lead to love. most sweet and loving Jesus. on the other hand. above every hope and promise. She thinks that there are delights beneath these thorns. They see clearly how gravely the world errs. the desire of the eyes. that is subject to so many calamities and miseries? Indeed. every power and dignity. from which troubles and miseries are never absent. zealous Lover of faithful souls. Indeed. The Twenty-first Chapter ABOVE ALL GOODS AND ALL GIFTS WE MUST REST IN GOD THE DISCIPLE ABOVE all things and in all things. above every honor and glory.

O Lord. You alone most sweet and consoling. rising above all gifts and every created thing. You alone are most beautiful and loving. Jesus Christ. making me sad and overshadowing me. I have called You. O most beloved Spouse. whatever You reveal to me concerning Yourself. my everlasting Salvation. Consolation of the pilgrim soul. most pure Lover. May You be blessed. You alone most powerful. Your tears and the desire of your soul. until You fill me with the light of Your presence. as it were imprisoned and weighted down with fetters. Your judgments true. therefore. The Twenty-Second Chapter REMEMBER THE INNUMERABLE GIFTS OF GOD THE DISCIPLE . and have desired You. restore me to liberty. because You are my happiness and without You my table is empty. I am here. my God? When shall I recollect myself entirely in You. not myself. with his iniquity and vileness always in mind. Who. You alone most noble and glorious above all things. Let my sighs and the manifold desolation here on earth move You. O Lord my God. he humbles himself before You? Nothing among all the wonders of heaven and earth is like to You. May You be praised and glorified. O Wisdom of the Father. Therefore. and whatever You promise. with You my lips utter no sound and to You my silence speaks. but You alone above all sense and measure. and Your providence rules the whole universe. Lo. my God. Lord of all creation. 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 lips and my soul and all created things unite to praise and bless You. for having shown this goodness to Your servant according to the multitude of Your mercies. Your works are exceedingly good. often disturbing me. I am wretched. What more is there for Your servant to say to You unless. so that because of Your love I may feel. 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. For You first spurred me on to seek You. it rests in You. I will not cease praying until Your grace returns to me and You speak inwardly to me. Splendor of eternal glory. I will not be silent. For my heart cannot rest or be fully content until. Come." Lord. How long will my Lord delay His coming? Let Him come to His poor servant and make him happy. for without You there will be no happy day or hour. are above all things the best. I have come to you because you have called Me. O Lord.59 For You. Let Him put forth His hand and take this miserable creature from his anguish. often hindering and distracting me. and have been ready to spurn all things for Your sake. whatever You give me besides Yourself. O come. in a manner known to none? But now I often lament and grieve over my unhappiness. and show me a friendly countenance. In You is every perfection that has been or ever will be. You alone are most sufficient and most satisfying. but nothing pleases me or will please me but You. O Jesus. is too small and insufficient when I do not see and fully enjoy You alone. for many evils befall me in this vale of miseries. therefore. Let others seek instead of You whatever they will. saying: "Behold. your humility and contrition of heart have inclined Me and brought Me to you. You alone are most high. my Hope.

O Lord. are Your gifts and they proclaim Your goodness and mercy from which we have received all good things. and it should comfort him more than all the benefits which have been. so humble and simple.60 OPEN my heart. and the despised in this world to be Your friends and servants. so freely and willingly. given him. whatever we possess interiorly or exteriorly. He should prefer Your will and the love of Your honor to all else. yet all are Yours and without You nothing can be received. and why one should receive less and another more is not for us to judge. should be gladdened by nothing so much as by Your will. With this he should be so contented and consoled that he would wish to be the least as others wish to be the greatest. Instead he should turn his mind to You and offer You the greatest praise because You give so bountifully. The truth of this is witnessed by Your Apostles. Yet they lived in this world without complaining. by nature or by grace. and as willing to be despised. the humble. that they were happy even to suffer reproach for Your name and to embrace with great affection that which the world abhors. You know what is good for each of us. but rather consoled and happy because You. Let me understand Your will. I am unworthy of the benefits You have given me. or will be. I know that I am unable to give due thanks for even the least of Your gifts. I consider it a great blessing not to have many things which human judgment holds praiseworthy and glorious. If one receives more and another less. He who attributes less to himself and is the more humble and devout in returning thanks is indeed the greater and the better. O Lord God. The Twenty-Third Chapter FOUR THINGS WHICH BRING GREAT PEACE THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. whom You made princes over all the world. while he who considers himself lower than all men and judges himself to be the least worthy. You are to be praised in all things. on the other hand. A man who loves You and recognizes Your benefits. I will teach you now the way of peace and true liberty. therefore. to Your law and teach me to walk in the way of Your commandments. have chosen the poor. for one who realizes his own poverty and vileness should not be sad or downcast at it. so free from malice and deceit. unknown and forgotten. O God. by the good pleasure of Your eternal decree. He who receives greater things cannot glory in his own merit or consider himself above others or behave insolently toward those who receive less. . All things come from You. without regard to persons. that he would be as peaceful and satisfied in the last place as in the first. therefore.with great reverence and care so that henceforth I may return worthy thanks for them. as to be honored by others and to have more fame than they. but for You Who have marked every man's merits. Therefore. who has received fewer gifts should not be sad or impatient or envious of the richer man. is the more fit to receive the greater blessing. All that we have of soul and body. He.all of them and each single one of them -. Let me remember Your blessings -. and when I consider Your generosity my spirit faints away before its greatness.

O my God. and vanquish these evil beasts -. and take away all darkness from the habitation of my heart. that having tasted the sweetness of supernal happiness. I will open the doors of the prison. with the brightness of internal light. which is a pure conscience. good Jesus. Join me to Yourself in an inseparable bond of love. be not far from me. because You alone can satisfy him who loves You. Lift up my heart pressed down by the weight of sins. and direct all my desires to heavenly things. and without You all things are worthless.so that peace may come through Your power and the fullness of Your praise resound in the holy courts. For as often as I find myself troubled and dejected. for no created thing can fully quiet and satisfy my desires. But You Who can do all things. give me increase of grace that I may keep Your words and accomplish my salvation. I find that I have departed from this teaching. THE DISCIPLE O Lord. this brief discourse of Yours contains much perfection. Command the winds and the tempests. Fight strongly for me. and let all evil thoughts fly from Your face." Do as You say. The Twenty-Fourth Chapter . Behold. to confide in You. Always choose to have less rather than more. say to the sea: "Be still. A PRAYER FOR ENLIGHTENING THE MIND Enlighten me. hasten to help me. Lord. Pour out Your grace from above. for I am as earth. A PRAYER AGAINST BAD THOUGHTS O Lord my God." says the Lord. "and will humble the great ones of earth. afflicting my soul. child.the alluring desires of the flesh -. Restrain my wandering thoughts and suppress the temptations which attack me so violently.to fly to You in all tribulation." and to the north wind." and there will be a great calm. empty and formless until You illumine me. It is short in words but full of meaning and abounding in fruit. for varied thoughts and great fears have risen up within me. Shower my heart with heavenly dew. Open the springs of devotion to water the earth. to do the will of others rather than your own. Snatch me up and deliver me from all the passing comfort of creatures. and will reveal to you hidden secrets. Certainly if I could only keep it faithfully. that it may produce the best of good fruits. Always wish and pray that the will of God be fully carried out in you. Send forth Your light and Your truth to shine on the earth. How shall I escape them unharmed? How shall I dispel them? "I will go before you. such will enter into the realm of peace and rest. Look always for the last place and seek to be beneath all others. "Do not blow. I should not be so easily disturbed.61 Seek. and Who always love what is for my soul's welfare. I may find no pleasure in thinking of earthly things. and to call on You from the depths of my heart and to await patiently for Your consolation. This is my hope and my only comfort -.

and do not entangle yourself in affairs that are not your own. or that all is well 34John 14:27. or for the particular affection of men. and keep yourself in good peace. Let him who is disturbed be as restless as he will. Be prudent. Do not be rash in judging the deeds and words of others. do not be curious. I would willingly speak My word and reveal My secrets to you. but you will have to give an account of yourself. never to experience any disturbance or to suffer any hurt in heart or body does not belong to this present life. then. What matters this or that to you? Follow Me. for the close friendship of many. The Twenty-Fifth Chapter THE BASIS OF FIRM PEACE OF HEART AND TRUE PROGRESS THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. you will be able to enjoy much peace. What is it to you if a man is such and such. if you would watch diligently for My coming and open your heart to Me. Do not think. Whatever he has said or done will fall upon himself. therefore. for he cannot deceive Me.what is in his mind and what in his heart and the end to which his intention is directed. then. therefore. Lord? THE VOICE OF CHRIST Watch yourself in all things. but rather to the state of eternal rest. If you hear Me and follow My voice. shall I do. it will come about that you will be disturbed little and seldom. and in all things humble yourself. I have said: "Peace I leave with you. Do not be anxious for the shadow of a great name. I know all men. Thus. if another does or says this or that? You will not have to answer for others. These things cause distraction and cast great darkness about the heart. I see everything that is done under the sun. then. that you have found true peace if you feel no depression. Commit all things to Me. Do not trouble yourself with idle cares. Watch in prayer. do I give unto you. Yet. My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth. My peace is with the humble and meek of heart: your peace will be in much patience. THE DISCIPLE What. and I know how matters stand with each -. in what you do and what you say. Direct your every intention toward pleasing Me alone. do you meddle in their affairs? Behold.62 AVOIDING CURIOUS INQUIRY ABOUT THE LIVES OF OTHERS THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. Why."34 All men desire peace but all do not care for the things that go to make true peace. . and desire nothing outside of Me.

Keep me from all darkness of mind. oppress the soul of Your servant in punishment and keep him from entering into the liberty of spirit as often as he would. nor do the progress and perfection of a man consist in them. then know that you will enjoy an abundance of peace. never to let his mind relax in attention to heavenly things. most merciful God. not seeking what is yours either in small matters or great ones. from the cares of this life. not as an indolent man does. Let not the world and its brief glory deceive me. Give me courage to resist. 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. I beg You. THE DISCIPLE In what do they consist. as much as is possible in this earthly life. Keep me. by the common curse of humankind. then you may have sure hope of seeing My face again in joy.then you will walk in the true and right path of peace. but acknowledge Me to be just in all My works and praise My holy name -. 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. and constancy to persevere. lest I be too much entangled in them. Sweetness beyond words. . Do not think that all is perfect if everything happens just as you wish.63 because you suffer no opposition. If you attain to complete contempt of self. lest I be broken by troubles and overcome. seeing all things in their proper light. and to pass through many cares as though he had none. Let not flesh and blood conquer me. but from those miseries which. so that you will preserve equanimity and give thanks in both prosperity and adversity. but having by the certain prerogative of a free mind no disorderly affection for any created being. patience to endure. either in temporal or eternal things. And do not imagine yourself great or consider yourself especially beloved if you are filled with great devotion and sweetness. nor the devil trip me by his craftiness. lest I be ensnared by pleasure. and if you do not justify yourself as though you ought not be made to suffer such great things. GAINED THROUGH PRAYER RATHER THAN BY STUDY THE DISCIPLE IT IS the mark of a perfect man. For the true lover of virtue is not known by these things. The Twenty-Sixth Chapter THE EXCELLENCE OF A FREE MIND. Let it not overcome me. my God. Lord. I do not ask deliverance from those things which worldly vanity desires so eagerly. Lord? THE VOICE OF CHRIST They consist in offering yourself with all your heart to the divine will. My God. Keep me from many necessities of the body.

where all is vanity and affliction of spirit. if you are not founded in Me. Do not covet what you may not have. A PRAYER FOR CLEANSING THE HEART AND OBTAINING HEAVENLY WISDOM Strengthen me by the grace of Your holy spirit.64 Give me the soothing unction of Your spirit rather than all the consolations of the world. In proportion to the love and affection you have for a thing. I beg. you should give all for all. you will find that from which you fled and worse. else the flesh would rebel against the spirit. It is strange that you do not commit yourself to Me with your whole heart. but Your holy law forbids us to demand superfluous things and things that are simply for pleasure. nor will peace be lasting if it is sought from the outside. simple. and in no way belong to yourself. but you will not better yourself. to enjoy and love You more than anything. but to despise them and root them out of your heart will aid. heavenly wisdom to learn above all else to seek and find You. if your heart has no true foundation. let Your hand guide and direct me. For when occasion arises and is accepted. Grant me the grace to use such comforts temperately and not to become entangled in too great a desire for them. together with all that you can desire or possess. and well ordered. because there is nothing lasting under the sun. as . is true not only of money and wealth. you will not be a slave to anything. It is not lawful to cast them aside completely. and upon myself as soon to pass away with them. if you wish to be in this place or that place. you may change. The Twenty-Seventh Chapter SELF-LOVE IS THE GREATEST HINDRANCE TO THE HIGHEST GOOD THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. How wise is he who thinks thus! Give me. and other necessities that sustain the body are burdensome to the fervent soul. If you seek this or that. In these matters. You must know that self-love is more harmful to you than anything else in the world. all of which will pass away with this world. so that I may not overstep the law in any way. 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. This. it will cling to you more or less. and in place of carnal love. for some defect is found in everything and everywhere someone will vex you. and to consider other things as they are. you will never rest or be free from care. that is. will not help you. If your love is pure. infuse into me the love of Your name. O God. Lord. eating. clothing. understand. whether for precious things or mean ones. Do not possess anything that can hinder you or rob you of freedom. drinking. but also of ambition for honor and desire for empty praise. The place matters little if the spirit of fervor is not there. To obtain and multiply earthly goods. Behold. then. for nature must be sustained. to have more ease and pleasure. so that I may not be drawn away by many desires. Give me the power to be strengthened inwardly and to empty my heart of all vain care and anxiety. Let me look upon everything as passing.

even now. my God. if you walk in the spirit you will pay little heed to fleeting words. and my heart is not at rest. But I must bear it. 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. have very often done for me before. But here. For it is great wisdom not to be moved by the sound of words. to deliver me. Lord. the easier for You is this change of the right hand of the Most High. The Twenty-Eighth Chapter STRENGTH AGAINST SLANDER THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. and not to be disturbed by human opinions. Their thinking well or badly of you does not make you different from what you are. for what can I. poor wretch that I am.65 Your wisdom has ordered them. I am come that You may be glorified when I am deeply humbled and freed by You. do not take it to heart if some people think badly of you and say unpleasant things about you. for I am greatly afflicted by this present suffering. yet I must fly to You that You may help me and turn it to my good. as You. my God. Would that I could do so patiently. I cannot escape it. Lord. O Lord. flattering siren. however. The Twenty-Ninth Chapter HOW WE MUST CALL UPON AND BLESS THE LORD WHEN TROUBLE PRESSES THE DISCIPLE BLESSED be Your name forever. I shall walk safely in the way I have begun. Help me. Do not let your peace depend on the words of men. Lord. Beloved Father. or lighten its attack so that I do not altogether sink beneath it. and I will not be afraid however much I may be distressed. Lord. . It is no small prudence to remain silent in evil times. And the more difficult my plight. do or where can I go without You? Give me patience. I have richly deserved to be troubled and distressed. what shall I say? I am straitened in harsh ways. May it please You. in the midst of these troubles. to turn inwardly to Me. for all unrest and distraction of the senses arise out of disorderly love and vain fear. Moreover. You ought to think worse things of yourself and to believe that no one is weaker than yourself. my Mercy. Who have willed that this temptation and trouble come upon me. until the storm passes and calm returns! Yet Your almighty hand can take this temptation from me. Grant me prudence to avoid the flatterer and to bear patiently with him who disagrees with me. then. Now I am troubled. Then. Save me from this hour to which. nor to give ear to the wicked. what shall I say? Your will be done.

" I said to My disciples. For this is the way to the kingdom of heaven. all things are of little profit to you until you realize that I am the one Who saves those who trust in Me. 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. wait -. I can take away and restore when it pleases Me. For he does not care whether he overcomes you by love of the present or fear of the future. 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. 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. Thus. and consolation will come to you in due time. Come to Me when all is not well with you. then often I am very near you. or any useful counsel or lasting remedy. do not fret or let your heart be downcast. you should never be so dejected and saddened by adversity. Your tardiness in turning to prayer is the greatest obstacle to heavenly consolation. When you think you are far from Me. What I give remains Mine. for I am near. or withdraw the consolation you desire. Be a man of endurance and courage. nor let it be afraid. Wait for Me. "As the Father hath loved Me. I am no less just and worthy of great praise when I deal with you in this way. so also I love you. and thus when I take it away I take nothing that is yours. and that outside of Me there is no worth-while help. 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. But now. Let not your heart be troubled. or take it as though all hope of escape were lost. says the Lord. Believe in Me and trust in My mercy. to restore all things not only to the full but with abundance and above measure. grow strong once more in the light of My mercies. for before you pray earnestly to Me you first seek many comforts and take pleasure in outward things. considering it a matter of special joy that I afflict you with sorrow and do not spare you. If I send you trouble and adversity. after the tempest. but rather rejoice and give thanks. All is not lost when things go contrary to your wishes. and I certainly did not send . If you think aright and view things in their true light. You ought not judge according to present feelings. It is foolish and useless to be either grieved or happy about future things which perhaps may never happen. I can raise you quickly up again and turn all your sorrow into joy. take courage. I am the Lord Who gives strength in the day of trouble. I know your secret thoughts.and I will come to heal you. then very often you are in the way of gaining great merit. therefore. for every good gift and every perfect gift is Mine. a vain fear that terrifies you. When you judge that almost all is lost.66 The Thirtieth Chapter THE QUEST OF DIVINE HELP AND CONFIDENCE IN REGAINING GRACE THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. 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. nor give in to any trouble whenever it comes. What I have given. And do not consider yourself forsaken if I send some temporary hardship. It is only a temptation that troubles you.

For as long as anything holds me back. 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. It is also a great obstacle to be satisfied with externals and sensible things. and completely united to God. immense. The reason why so few contemplative persons are found. then. then. FORSAKE ALL CREATURES THE DISCIPLE O LORD. not weighing our deeds by strict examination. 54:7. not to rest but to bring forth much fruit in patience. great grace is needed. I know not what it is. The Thirty-First Chapter TO FIND THE CREATOR. He who considers anything great except the one. There is great difference between the wisdom of an enlightened and devout man and the learning of a well-read and brilliant scholar. eternal good will long be little and lie groveling on the earth. and to have so little of perfect mortification. while we seldom or never advert with full consciousness to our interior concerns. nor do we deplore the fact that our actions are impure. is also corrupt. or by what spirit we are led. not to honors but to contempt. For this. the Creator of all. the great deluge followed. Do you. 35Ps. grace that will raise the soul and lift it up above itself. for the knowledge which flows down from divine sources is much nobler than that laboriously acquired by human industry. not to idleness.we who wish to be called spiritual -. remember these words. have no likeness among all Your creatures.that we spend so much labor and even more anxiety on things that are transitory and mean. . Whatever is not God is nothing and must be accounted as nothing. he cannot attend freely to the Divine. and to see in ecstasy of mind that You. Many there are who desire contemplation. to pass over all creation. the index as it were of our lack of inward strength. Out of a pure heart come the fruits of a good life. indeed. He that said "Oh that I had wings like a dove. is that so few know how to separate themselves entirely from what is transitory and created. We pay no attention to where our affections lie. that I might fly away and be at rest!"35 desired to fly freely to You. after very little recollection we falter. free from all creatures. and that unless a man be freed from all creatures. our interior affection is corrupt. I cannot freely fly to You. perfectly to abandon self. Unless a man be elevated in spirit. Remember that because all flesh had corrupted its course. but to labors. or to what we pretend -. it must be that the action which follows from it. 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. Since.67 them out to temporal joys but rather to great struggles. all his knowledge and possessions are of little moment. but who do not care to do the things which contemplation requires. My child. Alas.

does indeed seem mean and small and is well-nigh forgotten. The one often errs. you should not turn away or be downcast when you hear the way of the perfect. Hold to this short and perfect advice. which is hidden from many.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. fire-tried. but they think little of the virtue with which he acts. however. as many men praise it with their mouths but shy far away from it in their lives. and when you have put it into practice you will understand all things. or at least be moved to seek perfection. 3:18. Put aside earthly wisdom. Lord. I would this were the case with you -. for anything that is not of God will fail completely. always searching for ease and not for the things of Christ. all human self-complacency. Nature looks to his outward appearance. Think upon it in your heart. Then you would please Me very much. grace turns to his inward being. indeed. that thou mayest be made rich"36 -rich in heavenly wisdom which treads underfoot all that is low. is not the work of one day. and your whole life would pass in peace and joy.68 People are wont to ask how much a man has done. THE VOICE OF CHRIST My child. 36Apoc. the other trusts in God and is not deceived. therefore: give up your desires and you will find rest. how patient and meek.not to think highly of self and not to seek glory on earth -. "I counsel thee to buy of me gold. For true heavenly wisdom -. THE DISCIPLE But this. in this brief sentence is included all the perfection of holy persons. Rather you ought to be spurred on the more toward their sublime heights. you can never be perfectly free unless you completely renounce self. I have said: exchange what is precious and valued among men for that which is considered contemptible. how devout and spiritual. often devising and framing that which will not last. They are unsettled by covetousness and curiosity. But you have yet many things which you must give up. nor is it mere child's play. about how poor he is in spirit. Yet this heavenly wisdom is a pearl of great price. . The Thirty-Second Chapter SELF-DENIAL AND THE RENUNCIATION OF EVIL APPETITES THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. and unless you resign them entirely to Me you will not obtain that which you ask. They ask: Is he strong? rich? handsome? a good writer? a good singer? or a good worker? They say little. for all who seek their own interest and who love themselves are bound in fetters.

all things become loathsome. must be cleansed so that it is single and right. what greater happiness can I desire? O sweet and delicious word! But sweet only to him who loves it. when You are absent. It is You Who make us think well of all things. because it is attracted to any delightful thing that it meets. He pays no attention to what he feels in himself or from what quarter the wind of fickleness blows. My God and my all! These words are enough for him who understands. As long as you live you will be subject to changeableness in spite of yourself. on the contrary. came to Bethany to Martha and Mary. Your grace and the seasoning of Your wisdom must be in it. what can satisfy him whose delight is not in You? . It must be directed toward Me. therefore. with the singleness of his intention directed unwaveringly toward Me. so long as the whole intention of his mind is conducive to his proper and desired end. even in the midst of so many changing events. and for him who loves it is a joy to repeat them often. The Jews of old. And the purer this singleness of intention is. for it will soon give way to another. Indeed. and unshaken. for if it is to be pleasing and tasteful. it is rare to find one who is entirely free from all taint of self-seeking. for example.DIRECTING OUR FINAL INTENTION TOWARD GOD THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. at one moment devout and the next indevout. It is You Who give a heart tranquillity. The eye of your intention. now peaceful but again disturbed. But the man who is wise and whose spirit is well instructed stands superior to these changes. The Thirty-Fourth Chapter GOD IS SWEET ABOVE ALL THINGS AND IN ALL THINGS TO THOSE WHO LOVE HIM THE DISCIPLE BEHOLD. unchanged. sometimes diligent while at other times lazy. but in order to see Lazarus. For when You are present. now grave and again flippant. all things are delightful. and praise You in all things. What is there that can displease him whose happiness is in You? And. despite all the objects which may interfere.69 The Thirty-Third Chapter RESTLESSNESS OF SOUL -. You will become merry at one time and sad at another. do not trust in your present feeling. not for Jesus' sake alone. and not to the world or the things that are in the world. with so much the more constancy does he pass through many storms. For thus he can stand undivided. But in many ways the eye of pure intention grows dim. my God and my all! What more do I wish for. Without You nothing can give pleasure for very long. great peace and festive joy.

you will not remain long unscathed.yes. enlighten. You are subject to attack from the right and the left. you will not be able to bear the heat of this battle or to win the crown of the blessed. indeed -. For a little brief labor I will give an everlasting crown. surpassing all created brightness. if you do not steadily set your heart on Me. and for passing confusion. when will that happy and wished-for hour come. necessities. . You ought. for they are transported from vanity to truth. For love of God you should undergo all things cheerfully. rebukes. are wanting in Your wisdom. By such as these God is relished. For to him who triumphs heavenly bread is given. Cleanse. he is not yet entirely dead. But You. and contempt. If you look for rest in this life. then. injuries. flash forth the lightning from above and enlighten the inmost recesses of my heart. because in the world is found the utmost vanity. glory that is eternal. with a firm will to suffer everything for My sake. He has not yet been entirely crucified. slanders. that it may cleave to You in ecstasies of joy.70 The wise men of the world. from flesh to spirit. the men who lust for the flesh. arise and help me. therefore. in eternity and in time.is the difference between delight in the Creator and in the creature. Seek true peace. crush them in Your sight. cheer. alas. The old man. confusions. If. that You may fill me with Your presence and become all in all to me? So long as this is not given me. and he will not leave the kingdom of my soul in peace. Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified. not on earth but in heaven. therefore. how will you attain to everlasting rest? Dispose yourself. O Lord. humiliations. O Light eternal. For these are helps to virtue. Moreover. Show forth I beg. and as long as you live the weapons of the spirit will ever be necessary to you. because for me there is no other hope or refuge except in You. Scatter the nations that delight in war. my joy will not be complete. temptations and trials. Oh. Who can command the power of the sea and calm the tumult of its waves. not in men or in other creatures but in God alone. But great -. very great. corrections. But they who follow You by disdaining worldly things and mortifying the flesh are known to be truly wise. You dwell among enemies. while for him who is too lazy to fight there remains much misery. weaknesses. to pass through all these things bravely and to oppose a strong hand to whatever stands in your way. my God. yet lives within me. These form the heavenly crown. These are the trials of Christ's recruit. all labors and sorrows. and in the flesh is death. He still lusts strongly against the spirit. not for much rest but for great patience. anxieties. and whatever good is found in creatures they turn to praise of the Creator. in this life you are never safe. The Thirty-Fifth Chapter THERE IS NO SECURITY FROM TEMPTATION IN THIS LIFE THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. you do not guard yourself from every quarter with the shield of patience. in Light uncreated and in the light that is reflected. and vivify my spirit with all its powers.

therefore. They placed their confidence in God rather than in themselves. that you are worsted and that you suffer undeserved shame. and do not quarrel with peevish words. temptations of various kinds. it is impossible to satisfy all men. and became all things to all men. Although Paul tried to please all in the Lord. Many men say many things. and do not fear the judgment of men when conscience tells you that you are upright and innocent. he committed all to God Who knows all things.71 Do you think that you will always have spiritual consolations as you desire? My saints did not always have them. act bravely. The Thirty-Sixth Chapter THE VAIN JUDGMENTS OF MEN THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. Do not turn back but devote your body and soul constantly to God's glory. he did answer them. Who have power to deliver you from all disgrace and injury. do not repine over it and do not lessen your crown by impatience. as much as lay in him and as much as he could. to Me. and great desolation. that you should be afraid of mortal man? Today he is here. tomorrow he is not seen.do you wish to have at once that which others have scarcely obtained after many tears and great labors? Wait for the Lord. Keep God before your eyes. yet he made little of their opinions. For it is good and blessed to suffer such things. Yet they bore them all patiently. indeed. knowing that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to come. and they will not weigh heavily on the humble heart that trusts in God rather than in itself. Who are you. they had many afflictions. and therefore little faith is to be put in them. I will reward you most plentifully. and to render to everyone according to his works. Look instead to heaven. trust firmly in the Lord. What can anyone do to you by word or injury? He hurts himself rather than you. Fear God and you will not be afraid of the terrors of men. or made accusations against him. I will be with you in every tribulation. but only lest his silence scandalize the weak. If it seems. Do not lose trust. but he could not escape being sometimes judged and despised by others. Sometimes. The Thirty-Seventh Chapter PURE AND ENTIRE RESIGNATION OF SELF TO OBTAIN FREEDOM OF HEART THE VOICE OF CHRIST . then. He labored abundantly for the edification and salvation of others. and defended himself by his patience and humility against the tongues of those who spoke unjustly or thought foolish things and lies. Likewise. then. Therefore. and have courage. and no matter who he may be he cannot escape the judgment of God. And you -. Instead.

The Thirty-Eighth Chapter THE RIGHT ORDERING OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS. greater grace will be given you. that all things be subject to you and not you to them. 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. Ask nothing. in every external act and occupation. to die to self and live forever for Me.72 MY CHILD. but with certain reservation. 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. and now I say again: forsake yourself. again. arising to the status and freedom of the children of God who stand above present things to contemplate those which are eternal. demand nothing in return. not a slave or a mere hired servant. Some there are who resign themselves. pray for this. that you be the master and director of your actions. Trust purely and without hesitation in Me.to be stripped of all selfishness and naked to follow the naked Jesus. you must strive diligently to be inwardly free. all wicked disturbances and superfluous cares will vanish. shall I resign myself? And in what shall I forsake myself? THE VOICE OF CHRIST Always. You should be rather a free man and a true Hebrew. they do not trust fully in God and therefore they try to provide for themselves. Then all vain imaginations. For once you resign yourself irrevocably.I except nothing. whom temporal things do not so attract that they cling to them. thereby making no progress in virtue. desire this -. your possessions. who look upon passing affairs with the left eye and upon those of heaven with the right. renounce yourself and you shall enjoy great inward peace. Strive for this. but afterward are assailed by temptation and return to what they have renounced. at first offer all. In all things I wish you to be stripped of self. and you shall always gain. Others. renounce self and you shall find Me. I have said to you very often. Then also immoderate fear will leave you and inordinate love will die. Give all for all. and you shall possess Me. THE DISCIPLE How often. and the more fully and sincerely you do it the more you will please Me and the greater gain you will merit. RECOURSE TO GOD IN DANGERS THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. Lord. to have mastery over yourself everywhere. You will be free of heart and darkness will not overwhelm you. but who rather put these things to such proper service as is ordained . in small matters as well as great -. at every hour. Without this no fruitful union lasts nor will last. Give up your own self-will.

It is no very small matter. the great Workmaster. always commit your cause to Me. and the man who has denied himself is truly free and secure. 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. THE VOICE OF CHRIST My child. I willingly commit all things to You. Joshua and the children of Israel were deceived by the Gibeonites because they did not first seek counsel of the Lord. I will dispose of it rightly in good time. THE DISCIPLE Lord." says the Lord. The Thirty-Ninth Chapter A MAN SHOULD NOT BE UNDULY SOLICITOUS ABOUT HIS AFFAIRS THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. you will sometimes hear the divine answer and return instructed in many things present and to come. setting himself against all good. but day and night plots dangerous snares to cast the unwary into the net of deceit. for a man to forsake himself even in things that are very small. but trusted too much in fair words and hence were deceived by false piety. "that ye enter not into temptation. enter with Moses into the tabernacle to ask advice of the Lord. for my anxiety can profit me little. If. The old enemy. 16:41.73 and instituted by God. . A man's true progress consists in denying himself. therefore. as we read. But I would that I were not so concerned about the future. begging earnestly for divine aid. For this reason. For Moses always had recourse to the tabernacle for the solution of doubts and questions. in every happening you are not content simply with outward appearances. for affections do not remain fixed on the same thing. but whatever be the affair. and instead offered myself without hesitation to Your good pleasure. So you also should take refuge in the secret chamber of your heart. never ceases to tempt them. and fled to prayer for support in dangers and the evil deeds of men. but rather flit from one to another. Await My ordering of it and it will be to your advantage. however. if you do not regard with carnal eyes things which you see and hear. Who leaves nothing unordered in His creation. likewise."37 The Fortieth Chapter 37Matt. "Watch ye and pray.

whenever it is well with me. and I am ever tending toward nothing. For You alone. who am more ready to go backward than forward." But You. can I glory. my God. Lord. I am nothing. to rejoice in Your name rather than in one's own virtue. O my Truth. and how can I wish to be highly regarded? Is it because I am nothing? This. my Mercy.74 MAN HAS NO GOOD IN HIMSELF AND CAN GLORY IN NOTHING THE DISCIPLE LORD. throughout all the endless ages of ages. I become quite lukewarm and lax. I am lacking in all things. All human glory. the greatest vanity is the evil plague of empty self-glory. when he pants after human praise he is deprived of true virtue. Let Your holy name be blessed. I. however. You are my glory. then I could deservedly hope for Your grace and rejoice in the gift of new consolation. And unless I have Your help and am inwardly strengthened by You. because it draws one away from true glory and robs one of heavenly grace. of myself I have nothing that is good. a weak. The Forty-First Chapter CONTEMPT FOR ALL EARTHLY HONOR THE VOICE OF CHRIST . be magnified. Lord. do not remain always in one state. 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 will seek that which comes from God alone. power and glory. In You I will glory and rejoice all the day. to You alone be praise and honor. just. but let no human praise be given to me. to complain if You desert me. justly. Hence. and not to delight in any creature except for Your sake. But it is true glory and holy exultation to glory in You and not in self. always good. without human aid. is utterly vain. Yet my condition quickly improves when it pleases You and when You reach forth Your helping hand. Indeed. too. and holily. Let Your work. O Blessed Trinity. In Your sight I am vanity and nothingness. disposing them wisely. and holy. You remain forever. unstable man. are always the same. not mine. not mine. for I change with the seasons. either to attain devotion or because of the necessity which. Let Your name. in the absence of human solace. compels me to seek You alone. if I knew well how to cast aside all earthly consolation. and for myself I will glory in nothing but my infirmities. You are the joy of my heart. what is man that You are mindful of him. all worldly position is truly vanity and foolishness compared to Your everlasting glory. doing all things rightly. be praised. Let the Jews seek the glory that comes from another. can help me and strengthen me so greatly that my heart shall no more change but be converted and rest solely in You. therefore. Thanks be to You from Whom all things come. or the son of man that You visit him? What has man deserved that You should give him Your grace? What cause have I. all temporal honor. In what. For when a man is pleased with himself he displeases You.

But anything. You ought. Learn. no matter how small. no injury has ever been done me by any creature. to be considered absolutely nothing. The Forty-Third Chapter BEWARE VAIN AND WORLDLY KNOWLEDGE THE VOICE OF CHRIST . but to You due praise. And he ascends higher to God as he descends lower into himself and grows more vile in his own eyes.75 MY CHILD. therefore. hence I have nothing for which to make just complaint to You. If I examine myself rightly. But I have sinned often and gravely against You. you will be unsettled and entangled. When you look to creatures. then I should overflow in you with great grace. to conquer yourself in all things for the sake of your Maker. And unless I prepare myself to be willingly despised and forsaken by every creature. therefore. if you place your peace in any creature because of your own feeling or for the sake of his company. and glory. He who attributes any good to himself hinders God's grace from coming into his heart. we are blinded and quickly misled by vanity. nor can I be enlightened spiritually or completely united with You. the sight of the Creator is taken from you. Without Me friendship has no strength and cannot endure. for the grace of the Holy Spirit seeks always the humble heart. to be so dead to such human affections as to wish as far as lies within you to be without the fellowship of men. The Forty-Second Chapter PEACE IS NOT TO BE PLACED IN MEN THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. and for My sake you should love whoever seems to be good and is very dear to you in this life. I cannot have interior peace and strength. that is loved and regarded inordinately keeps you back from the highest good and corrupts the soul. Then will you be able to attain to divine knowledge. you will not grieve if a friend should die or forsake you. Your love for your friend should be grounded in Me. while you yourself are despised and humbled. THE DISCIPLE Lord. If you knew how to annihilate yourself completely and empty yourself of all created love. Confusion and contempt should in justice come upon me. do not take it to heart if you see others honored and advanced. Love which I do not bind is neither true nor pure. Lift up your heart to Me in heaven and the contempt of men on earth will not grieve you. Man draws nearer to God in proportion as he withdraws farther from all earthly comfort. therefore is every creature in arms against me. But if you have recourse to the ever-living and abiding Truth. honor.

the Teacher of teachers. 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. There are many things.76 MY CHILD. and to the little ones I give a clearer understanding than can be taught by man. to others of special matters. THE DISCIPLE . distributing to each as I see fit. The time will come when Christ. instead. To some I appear with sweetness in signs and figures. to desire nothing apart from Me. If you stand well with God and look to His judgment. I teach without noise of words or clash of opinions. 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. Apply yourself to mortifying your vices. Attend. to examine the conscience of everyone. the Promoter of acts. The Forty-Fourth Chapter DO NOT BE CONCERNED ABOUT OUTWARD THINGS THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. the Understander of thoughts. and to others I appear in great light and reveal mysteries. to fly honors and to bear with scandals. To some I speak of common things. it will always be necessary for you to return to this one principle: I am He who teaches man knowledge. But woe to those who inquire of men about many curious things. the Examiner of hearts. rather. 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 teaches man to despise earthly possessions and to loathe present things. thinking. to My words which enkindle the heart and enlighten the mind. yet it does not teach all men alike. to ask after the eternal. to place all hope in Me. you will more easily bear being worsted. to hunger for heaven. of what is more to your peace. Never read them for the purpose of appearing more learned or more wise. Though you shall have read and learned many things. 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. and care very little about the way they serve Me. He profited more by leaving all things than by studying subtle questions. do not let the fine-sounding and subtle words of men deceive you. which excite contrition and abound in manifold consolations. He to whom I speak will soon be wise and his soul will profit. because I within them am the Teacher and the Truth. For a certain man by loving Me intimately learned divine truths and spoke wonders. will appear to hear the lessons of all -. the Lord of angels. For the kingdom of heaven consists not in talk but in virtue. too. which it is well to pass by with a deaf ear. and to love Me ardently above all things. without ambition for honor or confusion of argument. for this will benefit you more than your understanding of many difficult questions.that is. The voice of books is but a single voice.

in everything that befalls us. nothing more than weak men. have I so easily kept faith in others? We are but men. angels. That which is of little or no value claims our attention. Oh. no matter how entangled in it he may be. is a liar. for the aid of man is useless. but the salvation of the just is in You." If that were true of me. how wise is that holy soul38 who said: "My mind is firmly settled and founded in Christ. have I not provided better for my wretched self? Why. and goes 38St. that a man's enemies are those of his own household. O Lord my God. . quickly deceived and changed. O Lord. Blessed be Your name. But who can foresee all things and provide against all evils? And if things foreseen have often hurt. there is none so faithful. can those which are unlooked for do otherwise than wound us gravely? Why. he willingly lies immersed in externals. And if some trouble should come upon him. on the other hand. other than You. while loss of the soul is forgotten and scarcely ever returns to mind. unstable. whereas that which is of highest necessity is neglected -. however. Every man. and You alone. or behold he is there. that we should not believe if anyone says: "Behold he is here. he will be more quickly delivered and comforted by You. he who asks me to be silent cannot remain silent himself. How wise was Your warning to beware of men. are entirely faithful in all things. nor would the darts of words disturb. not greater folly. weak. indeed. Agatha. to sound true. and are called. FOR IT IS EASY TO ERR IN SPEECH THE DISCIPLE GRANT me help in my needs. For You will not forsake him who trusts in You to the very end. We labor and fret for a small gain. too. Lord? Behold. And unless he withdraws himself quickly." they say. so that one ought not to be too quick to believe even that which seems. "beware and keep to yourself what I tell you!" Then while I keep silent. and I hope it has given me greater caution." I have been taught to my own cost. Rare is the friend who remains faithful through all his friend's distress. The Forty-Fifth Chapter ALL MEN ARE NOT TO BE BELIEVED. But You. on the face of it. is hope in men. O God. especially in words. human fear would not so easily cause me anxiety. Lord. and seeks You with a simple heart does not fall so easily. although we are thought by many to be.all because man gives himself wholly to outward things. O Lord. "Beware. Lord? In whom but You? You are the truth which does not deceive and cannot be deceived. In whom shall I put my faith. We are weak and unstable. 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. believing that the matter is secret. 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. but immediately betrays both me and himself.77 To what have we come. and likely to err. we bewail a temporal loss.

78 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! 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.

79 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

80 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!

often. Therefore. and sustains you so powerfully lest under your own weight you sink down to earthly things. or is by habit pleasing. The Forty-Ninth Chapter THE DESIRE OF ETERNAL LIFE. For you obtain this not by your own thought or effort. and may serve Me with a fervent will. rather. Aid me. Draw my senses toward You and make me forget all worldly things. as often as I think of anything besides You in prayer. is often your desire which you profess to be so strong. there is your heart also. heavenly Sweetness. I am willing to speak and hear about." If I love heaven. I delight in thinking of spiritual matters. it is not altogether for the pure honor of God that they act when they petition Him so earnestly. when the fire is burning the flame does not ascend without smoke. Give deepest thanks to the heavenly Goodness which deals with you so understandingly. visits you so mercifully. O Lord. becomes worthy to enter into the heavenly choirs. Blessed is the man who for Your sake. I am where my thoughts carry me. too. O heavenly Truth. . the desires of some burn toward heavenly things. If I love the world. open wide your heart and receive this holy inspiration with all eagerness. that you may strive to cling to Me with all the affection of your heart. and when you long to depart out of the tabernacle of the body that you may contemplate My glory without threat of change. and frequently my thoughts are where my love is. when you feel the desire for everlasting happiness poured out upon you from above. and yet they are not free from temptations of carnal affection. Come. I rejoice at the happiness of the world and grieve at its troubles. For whatever I love. but simply by the condescension of heavenly grace and divine regard. and deal mercifully with me. comes to me quickly. have plainly said: "For where your treasure is. so that with serene conscience he can offer You a pure prayer and. I often imagine things that are carnal. Pardon me also. My child. If I love the flesh. does violence to nature.81 O my God. Likewise. crucifies the desires of the flesh in fervor of spirit. and depart not in anger from Your servant. Hence You Who are Truth itself. Very often I am not where bodily I stand or sit. If I love the spirit. I think willingly of heavenly things. that you may prepare yourself for future trials. send forth Your arrows and let the phantoms of the enemy be put to flight. And the purpose of it is that you may advance in virtue and in greater humility. That which naturally delights. there am I. Such. For that which is alloyed with self-interest is not pure and perfect. Dart forth Your lightning and disperse them. Where my thoughts are. THE GREAT REWARDS PROMISED TO THOSE WHO STRUGGLE THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. having excluded all earthly things inwardly and outwardly. that no vanity may move me. stirs you so fervently. For I confess truly that I am accustomed to be very much distracted. dismisses all creatures. Grant me the grace to cast away quickly all vicious imaginings and to scorn them. and let all impurity fly from before Your face. do not remove Yourself far from me.

my child. or even hinted at. and dare not resist the higher power. you will be judged useless. another in that. but only in contempt of yourself and in My pleasure and honor. you shall find all that you could desire. whether by a superior or an inferior or an equal. But as for you. what you say will be accounted as nothing. and both be praised a thousand times over. and nothing stand in your way. For in these and many similar ways the faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be tried. The words of others will be heard. There no one shall oppose you. therefore. Then. of labor. not your own desire or whatever things you wish. You must put on the new man. the fruit of these labors. therefore. and do not heed who said this or commanded that. Await Me. You long to be filled with the highest good. Bow humbly. There remains yet another hour. There is scarcely anything in which you so need to die to self as in seeing and suffering things that are against your will. you will ask and not receive. For instead of the little will that you now readily give up. There. But let it be your special care when something is commanded. that you take it in good part and try honestly to perform it. how soon they will end and how greatly they will be rewarded. until the kingdom of God shall come. no one shall complain of you. You must be changed into another man. but you cannot attain it now. but the complete fullness of it is not granted. Let this be your wish: That whether in life or in death God may be glorified in you. what pleases you will not. the labor of penance rejoice. you ought to prefer and follow My will. There the fruit of glory will appear. because you are under authority. Already you desire the delights of the eternal home. . you shall always have your will in heaven. To others the doing of this or that will be entrusted. about you nothing will be said. Let one glory in this. Others will ask and receive. But that hour is not yet come. to see how far he can deny himself and break himself in all things. a time of war. and be strong both to do and to suffer what is contrary to nature. because if you judge rightly. You must still be tried on earth. Let one person seek one thing and another something else. There shall your will be forever one with Mine. Others will gain great fame among men. and humble subjection be gloriously crowned. and exercised in many things. and you will not be saddened by them. You must often do the things you do not wish to do and forego those you do wish. not for what is pleasing and convenient to yourself. indeed.82 Ask. rejoice neither in one or the other. Consolation will sometimes be given you. There I shall render you glory for the reproach you have suffered here. I am that sovereign Good. At all this nature will sometimes be sad. the heavenly land that is full of joy. no one hinder you. It shall desire nothing outside of Me and nothing for itself. But consider. replenishing your affection and satisfying it to the full. and it will be a great thing if you bear this sadness in silence. Already you wish to be in the liberty of the glory of the sons of God. There you shall have possession of every good without fear of losing it. it seems hard to submit to the will of another and give up your own opinion entirely. and for the lowest place a seat of power forever. and of trial. under the will of all. but your patience will receive the strongest consolation. Take courage. All that you desire will be present there. for your sorrow I shall give you a garment of praise. therefore. What pleases others will succeed. but for what is acceptable to Me and is for My honor. I know your longings and I have heard your frequent sighs. especially when things that are commanded seem inconvenient or useless.

let him fail in the sight of men. Just Father. It is profitable for me that shame has covered my face that I may look to You rather than to men for consolation. Your discipline is upon me and Your very rod shall instruct me. and my soul is sorrowful sometimes even to the point of tears. my spirit is troubled because of impending sufferings. let him be humbled. It is well for me. Who wound and heal. O Lord. may You be blessed now and in eternity. You are my hope and my crown. also. all the things which You have made. You. sending distress without and within. and without cause. he will not be able to follow the way of Your commandments. Thanks to You that You have not spared me evils but have bruised me with bitter blows.83 The Fiftieth Chapter HOW A DESOLATE PERSON OUGHT TO COMMIT HIMSELF INTO THE HANDS OF GOD THE DISCIPLE LORD God. Let him be a little slighted. let him be afflicted with sufferings and pains. 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. my Lord God. and that without any merit of his own? Yours are all the things which You have given. For this is a favor to Your friend. that I may learn the justice of Your judgments and cast away all presumption and haughtiness of heart. ever to be praised. the soul of Your servant shall be filled with holy song and be devout in praising You. I long for the joy of peace. Under heaven there is none to console me except You. Who cast down to hell and raise up again. are my joy and my honor. it is right that in this hour Your servant should suffer something for You. as You so very often do. if You infuse holy joy. I am poor and in labors since my youth. What does Your servant possess that he has not received from You. Beloved Father. for You alone are true joy. But if You withdraw Yourself. but will rather be obliged to strike his breast and bend the knee. O Father. Hereby I have learned also to fear Your inscrutable judgment falling alike upon the just and unjust yet not without equity and justice. so is it done. no matter how often and by whom You permit it to happen to him. Earnestly I beg for the peace of Your children who are fed by You in the light of consolation. the heavenly Physician of souls. the hour is come for Your servant to be tried. and what You do is good. Holy Father. At times. when for a short time Your servant should be outwardly oppressed. O Lord. so that he may rise again with You in the dawn of the new light and be glorified in heaven. inflicting sorrows. . Nothing happens in the world without Your design and providence. to suffer and be troubled in the world for Your love. that You have humbled me. For as You will. Holy Father. What has happened is what You commanded. forever to be honored. the hour which You knew from all eternity is at hand.not in himself or in any other. Let Your servant rejoice in You -. You have so appointed and wished it. but inwardly should ever live with You. If You give peace.

Coming events You know before they happen. Strike my back and my neck. Grant me. as the humble St. that he is and nothing more. How is a man the better for being thought greater by men? The deceiver deceives the deceitful. O Lord. to praise what is most pleasing to You. beloved Father. Deal with me according to Your good pleasure and do not despise my sinful life. and to abhor what is unclean in Your sight. whatever anyone is in Your sight. you cannot always continue in the more fervent desire of virtue. as in Your goodness You are wont to do. For I will cause you to forget your labors and to enjoy inward quiet. the vain man deceives the vain. which is known to none so well or so clearly as to You alone. the weak deceives the weak as often as he extols them. . Make of me a pious and humble follower.84 Behold. In such condition. 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. or remain in the higher stage of contemplation. that I may bend my crookedness to Your will. I bow myself under Your correcting chastisement. to await with unshaken confidence My heavenly visitation. For. WE MUST PRACTICE THE HUMBLE WORKS THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. the grace to know what should be known. You ought. 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. and the lovers of this world also err in loving only visible things. therefore. for it is better to be punished here than hereafter. But let me distinguish with true judgment between things visible and spiritual. Do not allow me to judge according to the light of my bodily eyes. I am in Your hands. and in truth his foolish praise shames them the more. You know all things without exception. and always seek above all things Your good pleasure. so that with an open heart you may begin to advance in the way of My commandments. I will spread before you the open fields of the Scriptures. patiently to bear your exile and dryness of mind until you are again visited by Me and freed of all anxieties. Francis says. nor to give sentence according to the hearing of ignorant men's ears. that I may walk according to Your every nod. to bewail in the flesh the burden of the flesh which keeps you from giving yourself unceasingly to spiritual exercises and divine contemplation. the blind deceives the blind. Myself and all that is mine I commit to You to be corrected. to esteem that which appears most precious to You. As long as you wear a mortal body you will suffer weariness and heaviness of heart. You know what will promote my progress. it is well for you to apply yourself to humble. and how much tribulation will serve to cleanse away the rust of vice. The senses of men often err in their judgments. The Fifty-First Chapter WHEN WE CANNOT ATTAIN TO THE HIGHEST. and nothing in man's conscience is hidden from You. outward works and to refresh yourself in good deeds. and there is no need for anyone to teach or admonish You of what is being done on earth.

Neither is it fitting that I should be remembered among Your devoted servants. to show the riches of Your goodness toward the vessels of mercy. The Fifty-Third Chapter GOD'S GRACE IS NOT GIVEN TO THE EARTHLY MINDED THE VOICE OF CHRIST . and have sinned greatly in many things. That is true. For though I could shed a sea of tears. and God and the penitent meet with a holy kiss. yet for truth's sake I will allege my sins against myself. I deserve only to be scourged and punished because I have offended You often and grievously. Hence. Who do not will that Your works should perish. This is also the pleasing ointment which You would have poured upon Your sacred feet. a sacrifice far sweeter than the perfume of incense. and there would be no one to defend me. And although it is hard for me to hear this. I am not worthy of Your consolation or of any spiritual visitation. You treat me justly when You leave me poor and desolate. Therefore. except that he be contrite and humble himself for his sins? In true sorrow and humility of heart hope of forgiveness is born. Lord. What have I deserved for my sins except hell and everlasting fire? In truth. have mercy on me and pardon me. For Your consolations are not like the words of men. If I said otherwise You would stand against me. 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. What have I done. before I go to that dark land that is covered with the shadow of death. deign to console Your servant beyond all his merit and above human measure. guilty as I am and full of all confusion? My tongue can say nothing but this alone: "I have sinned. for a contrite and humble heart You have never despised. Here is amended and washed away whatever defilement has been contracted elsewhere. Suffer me a little that I may pour out my grief. O gracious and merciful God. O Lord. so that I may more easily deserve to beg Your mercy. the troubled conscience is reconciled. man is preserved from the wrath to come." What do you especially demand of a guilty and wretched sinner. O Lord. grace is found. therefore. But You. To You. yet I should not be worthy of Your consolation. What shall I say. In all justice. BUT RATHER DESERVING OF CHASTISEMENT THE DISCIPLE LORD. I confess that I am deserving of all scorn and contempt. Here is a place of refuge from the force of the enemy's anger. humble sorrow for sins is an acceptable sacrifice. I am not worthy of any consolation.85 The Fifty-Second Chapter A MAN OUGHT NOT TO CONSIDER HIMSELF WORTHY OF CONSOLATION. I cannot deny it. I have sinned.

The Fifty-Fourth Chapter THE DIFFERENT MOTIONS OF NATURE AND GRACE THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. is truly his own conqueror and master of the world. desire what is good. pay careful attention to the movements of nature and of grace. Thus the blessed Apostle St. and keep your mind free of all temporal consolation. therefore they remain entangled in self. and brought under control. and can scarcely be distinguished by anyone except a man who is spiritual and inwardly enlightened. my grace is precious. It does not allow itself to be mixed with external things or with earthly consolations. Love to dwell alone with yourself. if you wish to climb to this high position you must begin like a man. but rather pour forth devout prayer to God that you may keep your mind contrite and your heart pure. turns away from all appearance of evil. and must not cling with selfish love or desire to any creature. You must remove yourself from acquaintances and from dear friends. For he who holds himself in such subjection that sensuality obeys reason and reason obeys Me in all matters. But he who desires to walk freely with Me must mortify all his low and inordinate affections. offers no deceits. If you completely conquer yourself. great peace and quiet will follow at once. But the sickly soul does not know what it is to have a heart thus separated from all things. he must renounce both strangers and friends. you will more easily subdue all other things. The perfect victory is to triumph over self. if you wish to receive its infusion. ensnaring and deceiving them while ever seeking itself. Consider the whole world as nothing. Prefer attendance upon God to all outward occupation. therefore. and cannot be lifted in spirit above themselves.39 What great confidence at the hour of death shall be his who is not attached to this world by any affection. And when this evil is vanquished. Seek to retire within yourself. and must beware of no one more than himself. and strive for what is good in their words and deeds. Yet. for they move in very contrary and subtle ways. 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. But because few labor to die entirely to self. Now. for you cannot attend upon Me and at the same time take delight in external things. Cast away all obstacles to grace. nor does the natural man know the liberty of the spiritual man. indeed.86 MY CHILD. Nature is crafty and attracts many. . and does all purely for God in whom she rests as her last end. All men. But grace walks in simplicity. and lay the ax to the root. Seek no man's conversation. Peter begs the faithful of Christ to keep themselves as strangers and pilgrims in the world. if he truly wishes to be spiritual. or tend completely away from self. 39Peter 2:11. For this reason the appearance of good deceives many.

Nature fears shame and contempt. Nature works for its own interest and looks to the profit it can reap from another. She resists sensuality. and to be always under God for Whose sake she is willing to bow humbly to every human creature. has no wish to use her own liberty. to find her delight in the highest Good. nor is she arrogant or presumptuous. Grace shuns private interest. however. Nature does everything for its own gain and interest. Nature is quick to complain of need and trouble. Grace does not consider what is useful and advantageous to herself. Nature likes to have some external comfort in which it can take sensual delight. and does not desire to rule over anyone. restrains her wanderings and blushes at being seen in public. flatters the rich. Grace. Grace. Nature has regard for temporal wealth and rejoices in earthly gains. She favors the poor in preference to the rich. strives for mortification of self. cannot bear to be idle and embraces labor willingly. renounces creatures. but grace faithfully attributes all honor and glory to God. But grace draws near to God and to virtue. grace is stanch in suffering want. and is always exhorting the good to strive for better gifts. being neither disturbed at loss nor angered by hard words. to stand. above all visible things. She does not think highly of either position or birth unless there is also virtue there. but rather what is profitable to many. Nor will it subdue itself or be made subject. Nature loves ease and physical rest. seeks nothing temporal. but grace is happy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus. But grace looks to eternal things and does not cling to those which are temporal. and toward running about. Grace. injurious word. or to be kept down. is kind and openhearted. Of temporal necessities she asks no more than will serve to obtain eternity. to become like the Son of God by practicing the virtues. To herself she ascribes no good. hates the desires of the flesh. and judges it more blessed to give than to receive. It loves to have its own private possessions. longs to be conquered. but grace seeks consolation only in God. Grace brings all things back to God in Whom they have their source. It is very desirous of having its deeds and gifts highly regarded. nor does she ask any recompense but God alone. abhorring things that are cheap and coarse. however. glories in noble position and birth. is contented with little. on the contrary. fawns on the powerful. because she has placed her treasure and joy in heaven where nothing is lost.87 Nature is not willing to die. Nature rejoices in many friends and kinsfolk. but wishes rather to live. Nature is inclined toward creatures. on the contrary. toward its own flesh. Nature is covetous. nor refusing to be clothed in old garments. Grace. Nature seeks to possess what is rare and beautiful. and applauds those who are like itself. or to be overcome. or else praise and favor. however. It can do nothing without pay and hopes for its good deeds to receive their equal or better. She sympathizes with the innocent rather than with the powerful. Nature likes to receive honor and reverence. She rejoices with the true man rather than with the deceitful. and receives more willingly than it gives. delights in simple. It fights and argues for self. Grace. It is sad over a loss and irritated by a slight. Nature turns all things back to self. But grace loves even her enemies and is not puffed up at having many friends. toward vanities. humble things. not despising those that are rough. seeks to be in subjection. She is not contentious. She does not prefer her . loves to be held under discipline.

it is that the will to good is present in me. nature is fallen and weakened by sin. the humble hiding of deeds worthy of praise and admiration. The Fifty-Fifth Chapter THE CORRUPTION OF NATURE AND THE EFFICACY OF DIVINE GRACE THE DISCIPLE O LORD. Hence. Hence. also. 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. Adam. and of great grace. But grace does not care to hear news or curious matters. Hence it is. For through the first man. I often propose many good things. the more grace is given. grant me this grace which You have shown to be so great and necessary for salvation. of seeing the difference between true and false. just. The more. but in every matter of sense and thought submits herself to eternal wisdom and the divine judgment. but desires that God Who bestows all simply out of love should be blessed in His gifts. It makes a spiritual man of a carnal one. I recoil and give up at the slightest resistance. and the punishment of that stain has fallen upon all mankind. but because the grace to help my weakness is lacking. Nature has a relish for knowing secrets and hearing news. Thus nature itself. a certain special gift of God. that I may overcome my very evil nature that is drawing me to sin and perdition. nothing lasting on earth. which You created good and right. This grace is a supernatural light. is considered a symbol of vice and the weakness of corrupted nature. There is need of Your grace. obeying sensuality rather than reason. since there is nothing new. because all this arises from the old corruption of man. It wishes to be known and to do things for which it will be praised and admired. . Grace teaches.88 own opinion to the opinion of others. but how to accomplish it I know not. therefore. my God. The little strength remaining in it is like a spark hidden in ashes. It raises man up from earthly things to love the things of heaven. and holy. and the seeking in every thing and in every knowledge the fruit of usefulness. It wishes to appear abroad and to have many sense experiences. the proper mark of the elect and the pledge of everlasting salvation. because when left to itself it tends toward evil and to baser things. surrounded by thick darkness. avoidance of vain self-satisfaction and show. That strength is natural reason which. then. still has the power of judging good and evil. and that it proves the necessity of shunning all evil and sin. in order to overcome a nature prone to evil from youth. too. She will not have herself or hers exalted. Every day the interior man is reformed by new visitations according to the image of God. my God. nature is held in check and conquered. Who created me to Your own image and likeness. Thus it is that I know the way of perfection and see clearly enough how I ought to act. though it is not able to fulfill all that it approves and does not enjoy the full light of truth or soundness of affection. that according to the inward man I delight in Your law. restraint of the senses. I cannot resist the passions thereof unless Your most holy grace warmly infused into my heart assist me. But in the flesh I keep the law of sin. knowing that Your command is good. the praise and honor of God.

and those who are signed with it are held worthy of everlasting life. Without the Way. which renders him who is rich in many good things humble of heart. to carry it on and bring it to completion! For without grace I can do nothing. the more you depart from yourself. the nourisher of devotion. which makes the poor in spirit rich in virtues. the uncreated Life. I will have you learn perfect surrender to My will. so the forsaking of self unites you to God. and you shall attain life everlasting. but dead wood. the more you will be able to enter into Me. the unending Life. Let me find grace in Your sight. the Truth which you must believe. the supreme Truth. . O Lord. no arts or riches. but with its strength I can do all things in You. the Life that is true. and the Truth shall make you free. no meditation be it ever so exalted.89 but because I am pressed down by the weight of my own corruption I do not rise to more perfect things. therefore. fill me quickly with your consolation lest my soul faint with weariness and dryness of mind. This will give me counsel and help. the blessed. What am I without grace. As the giving up of exterior things brings interior peace. O Lord. the banisher of sorrow. no beauty or strength. the producer of tears. I am the Way that is straight. even though I obtain none of the things which nature desires. the light of the heart. no wit or intelligence avail without grace. The Fifty-Sixth Chapter WE OUGHT TO DENY OURSELVES AND IMITATE CHRIST THROUGH BEARING THE CROSS THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. the Life for which you must hope. For the gifts of nature are common to good and bad alike. there is no going. for Your grace is enough for me. Your Son. I am the Way. This is more powerful than all my enemies and wiser than all the wise. I beg. This is the mistress of truth. Without the Truth. there is no living. the consoler in anguish. through Jesus Christ. the expeller of fear. without which our merits are nothing and no gifts of nature are to be esteemed! Before You. the teacher of discipline. but the peculiar gift of Your elect is grace or love. go before me and follow me. This is my strength. O most blessed grace. Your grace is to begin any good deed. Not even faith or hope or other virtues are acceptable to You without charity and grace. there is no knowing. How extremely necessary to me. If you abide in My Way you shall know the Truth. and make me always intent upon good works. If I am tempted and afflicted with many tribulations. I will fear no evils while Your grace is with me. can be considered anything. So excellent is this grace that without it no gift of prophecy or of miracles. fit only to be cast away? Let Your grace. descend upon me. I am the inviolable Way. O Grace truly heavenly. Follow Me. come. the infallible Truth. Without the Life. a useless branch. O Lord. the Truth. and the Life. Lord. I am the Way which you must follow. without contradiction or complaint.

nor may we leave off.90 If you wish to enter into life. He who has My commandments and keeps them. grant that I may despise the world and imitate You. Let Your servant be trained in Your life. The Fifty-Seventh Chapter A MAN SHOULD NOT BE TOO DOWNCAST WHEN HE FALLS INTO DEFECTS THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. Whatever else I read or hear does not fully refresh or delight me. Truly. happy will you be if you do them. deny yourself. He will be our help as He is also our leader and guide. humble yourself on earth. the life of a good religious man is a cross. Let no man fear any terrors. brethren. from Your hand I have received it. THE DISCIPLE Lord Jesus. For Jesus' sake we have taken this cross. because Your way is narrow and despised by the world. he it is that loves Me. keep My commandments. believe in Me. Behold. THE VOICE OF CHRIST My child. For Jesus' sake let us persevere with it. our King goes before us and will fight for us. I have received the cross. so be it. sell all. as You have said. for there is my salvation and true holiness. If you wish to reign with Me. THE DISCIPLE Lord Jesus. And I will love him and will show Myself to him. . patience and humility in adversity are more pleasing to Me than much consolation and devotion when things are going well. Let us not suffer our glory to be blemished by fleeing from the Cross. Let us follow like men. I will carry it. and what You have promised. For the servant is not greater than his Lord. If you will know the truth. We have begun -. If you will be exalted in heaven. and will bring it about that he will sit down with Me in My Father's Kingdom. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle. let us go forward together and Jesus will be with us. let it be my lot to win. Take courage. nor the disciple above the Master. carry the Cross with Me. carry it even unto death as You have laid it upon me. but it leads to paradise. If you will be My disciple. For only the servants of the Cross find the life of blessedness and of true light.we may not go back. now that you know these things and have read them all. despise this present life. If you will possess the blessed life. If you will be perfect.

not God. Even though you bear it unwillingly.40 and this: "The judgments of the Lord are true 40Ps. nor is it anything new. 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. and if it has touched you. sweeter to my mouth than honey and the honeycomb. if you cannot bear it cheerfully. which you experience so often in small matters. THE DISCIPLE Blessed be Your words. therefore. 118:137. and righteous are Thy judgments". answer with the prophet: "Thou art just. they happen for your good. "I yet live. Consider your great weakness. It is not the first. and you know how to strengthen them with words. restrain yourself and let no ill-ordered words pass your lips at which the weak might be scandalized." says the Lord. then. Grant me a happy passage out of this world. or why one man is so afflicted and another so highly exalted. You are manly enough so long as you meet no opposition. When the enemy puts such suggestions in your mind. and are indignant at it. not an angel. or when some curious persons raise questions about them. All is not lost even though you be troubled oftener or tempted more grievously. and lead me by the right way into Your kingdom. O Lord. still do not let it cast you down or confuse you for long. what does it matter what or how much I suffer? Grant me a good end. if you trust in Me and call devoutly upon Me. You are a man. if You did not strengthen me with Your holy words? If I may but attain to the haven of salvation. Bear it patiently at least. The Fifty-Eighth Chapter HIGH MATTERS AND THE HIDDEN JUDGMENTS OF GOD ARE NOT TO BE SCRUTINIZED THE VOICE OF CHRIST MY CHILD. "ready to help you and to console you more and more. my God. . O Lord. 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. Put it out of your heart as best you know how. The storm that is now aroused will soon be quieted and your inward grief will be sweetened by returning grace. What would I do in such great trials and anxieties." Remain tranquil and prepare to bear still greater trials. and if you live long it will not be the last. Such things are beyond all human understanding and no reason or disputation can fathom the judgments of God. you fail both in counsel and in strength. But now let it pass. but when unexpected tribulation comes to your door.91 Why are you saddened by some little thing said against you? Even if it had been more you ought not to have been affected. Remember me. Yet when these and like trials happen. You are flesh. You give good advice to others.

they are entirely absorbed in love of Me. or who is greater in the kingdom of heaven. A desire to know and pry into such matters brings forth no fruit. let carnal and sensual men. 18:10. for both the small and the great I made. because I am the God. even though the least. Such things often breed strife and useless contentions. but. I gave them grace: I brought them to glory. then. . I am to be blessed above all things. and drawn beyond love of self. and they mutually love one another. forbear to dispute about the state of God's saints. not discussed. but this affection is human and not divine. especially in those who are but little enlightened and can rarely love anyone with a purely spiritual love. I poured into them glorious consolations. what is a much greater thing. or which shall be greater in the kingdom of heaven. for they who are filled with eternal truth burn with the fire of unquenchable love. In like manner. therefore."41 My judgments are to be feared. not of dissension. In many this is sheer ignorance. But there is an incomparable distance between the things which the imperfect imagine and those which enlightened men contemplate through revelation from above. On the contrary. of treating matters beyond your knowledge out of curiosity. do not inquire or dispute about the merits of the saints. and honored in each of those whom I have exalted and predestined so gloriously without any previous merits of their own. in the kingdom of God. My child. 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. I chose them out of the world -. I know the first and the last. I am to be praised in all My saints. but of peace -.they did not choose Me. I led them safely through various temptations. does no honor to the greatest. He who despises one of the least of mine. in Whom they rest. and on their behavior in such things here below are based their imaginings of heavenly things. Rapt above themselves. as to which is more holy. They nourish pride and vainglory. For though one were to know who is more holy than another. I drew them on by mercy. Some are drawn by the ardor of their love with greater affection to these saints or to those. I came before them in the blessings of My sweetness. They are all one through the bond of charity.of that peace which consists in true humility rather than in self-exaltation. acts much more acceptably to God than the one who argues about who is greater or who is less. whence arise envy and quarrels. I embrace them all with love inestimable. because they are incomprehensible to the understanding of men. I gave them perseverance and I crowned their patience. it displeases the saints. and of the distance between himself and the perfection of the saints. Therefore. I knew My beloved ones before the ages. when one proudly tries to exalt one saint and the other another. Such men take away and add according to their own inclinations and not as it pleases the Eternal Truth. There is nothing that can draw them away or depress them. It 41Ps. They have the same thought and the same will. Be careful. Let it rather be your business and aim to be found. I called them by grace. they love Me more than themselves or their own merits. who know only how to love their own selfish joys. They are still strongly drawn by natural affection and human friendship to one person or another. I know the merits of each of them. I am He who made all the saints.92 and wholly righteous. And he who disparages one of the saints disparages Me also and all others in the kingdom of heaven.

. Where You are there is heaven. Even though exposing me to various temptations and hardships. O Lord. The least shall be as a thousand. you poor. You are my confidence. You Who are accustomed to prove Your loved ones in a thousand ways."42 Woe to those. and fell down upon their faces before the Lamb. for they attribute no good to themselves but all to Me. you humble. All seek their own interests. however. for the kingdom of God is yours. It is a great thing to be even the least in heaven where all are great because all shall be called. my God. Lord. In none can I fully trust to help me in my necessities. and turn all things to my good. who disdain to humble themselves willingly with the little children. and more beloved by Me. whosoever shall humble himself as this little child. my God. 18:3. the children of God. most faithful in every need. I prefer rather to wander on the earth with You than to possess heaven without You. than to search with vain inquisitiveness into their secrets. They are filled with such love of God and with such overflowing joy. Therefore. because out of My infinite charity I gave all to them. The Fifty-Ninth Chapter ALL HOPE AND TRUST ARE TO BE FIXED IN GOD ALONE THE DISCIPLE WHAT. 4. he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven. 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. You are my desire and therefore I must cry after You and sigh and pray. Rejoice. and shall be. You. for the low gate of the heavenly kingdom will not permit them to enter. you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. for when the poor enter into God's kingdom. The saints are well and perfectly contented if men know how to content themselves and cease their useless discussions. 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. that no glory is wanting to them and they can lack no happiness. and with a humble mind to beg their glorious aid. and where You are not are death and hell. place my salvation and my profit first. is the trust which I have in this life. All the saints are so much higher in glory as they are more humble in themselves. You are my consoler. if only you walk in the truth. you find it written that they cast their crowns before God. and the sinner of a hundred years shall die. and adored Him Who lives forever. therefore. 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. but in You alone. order all this for my good. Therefore. nearer to Me. You ought not to be loved or praised less in this trial than if You had filled me with heavenly consolations. they will stand outside lamenting.93 is better to invoke the saints with devout prayers and tears. They do not glory in their own merits. and exult. Woe also to the rich who have their consolations here. 42Matt. or what is my greatest comfort among all the things that appear under heaven? Is it not You. You are my hope.

in You I trust. nor the books of learned men to console. look upon me and listen to the prayer of Your poor servant exiled from You in the region of the shadow of death. nor prudent advisers to give useful answers. To trust in You above all things is the strongest comfort of Your servants. And in this temple of Your dignity let nothing be found that might offend Your majesty. the depth of all that can be spoken. O Lord God. nor any precious substance to win my freedom. are the fountain of all good. My God. to shelter me. and guard me. to You I look. and in the multitude of Your mercies. In Your great goodness. secret and beautiful though it be. I place all my hope and my refuge. nor any place. You. instruct. It will not serve me to have many friends. indeed. to the land of everlasting light.94 In You. so that it may become Your holy dwelling and the seat of Your eternal glory. console. . if You Yourself do not assist. through the ways of peace. Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly benediction. Protect and preserve the soul of Your poor servant among the many dangers of this corruptible life. comfort. because whatever I have outside of You I find to be weak and unstable. For all things which seem to be for our peace and happiness are nothing when You are absent. the height of life. and truly confer no happiness. therefore. On You I cast all my troubles and anguish. nor will powerful helpers be able to assist me. the Father of mercies. and direct him by Your accompanying grace.

for the life of the world. They are Yours and You have spoken them. "Come to me." You say. O Christ. and drinketh My blood. "all you that labor and are burdened. Do this for the commemoration of Me. all you that labor and are burdened. invite the poor and needy to receive Your most holy Body! Who am I. they are mine also because You have spoken them for my salvation. but my sins frighten me and an unclean conscience thunders at me when approaching such great mysteries as these."48 Oh.43 The bread which I will give is My Flesh. all of you. 48Matt. Gladly I accept them from Your lips that they may be the more deeply impressed in my heart. 46John 6:57. to Me. The sweetness of Your words invites me. my Lord God. abideth in Me. You command me to approach You confidently if I wish to have part with You. . 44John 6:52. Lord. eternal Truth.46 The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. I must accept them all with faith and gratitude. so full of sweetness and love. which shall be delivered for you. 47John 6:64." 43Matt. that I should presume to approach You? Behold. and I in him. 11:24."47 The First Chapter THE GREAT REVERENCE WITH WHICH WE SHOULD RECEIVE CHRIST THE DISCIPLE THESE are all Your words. encourage me. And because they are Yours and true. the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. though they were not all spoken at one time nor written together in one place.45 He that eateth My flesh. Words of such tenderness. 11:28. and yet You say: "Come. 451 Cor.95 BOOK FOUR AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION THE VOICE OF CHRIST COME to Me.44 Take you and eat: this is My Body. but the multitude of my vices oppresses me. how sweet and kind to the ear of the sinner is the word by which You. 11:28. and I will refresh you. and I will refresh you. and to receive the food of immortality if I desire to obtain life and glory everlasting.

I who scarcely can spend a half-hour devoutly -. can I prepare myself in one hour to receive with reverence the Maker of the world? Moses. what reverence in receiving the most excellent Body of Christ! Many people travel far to honor the relics of the saints. what great devotion ought not I and all Christian people now show in the presence of this Sacrament. Lord. had not said it. my God. indeed. who would dare approach? Behold. then. I who have so often offended in Your most kindly sight? Angels and archangels revere You. Noah. made an ark of incorruptible wood which he covered with purest gold wherein to place the tables of Your law. marveling at their wonderful deeds and at the building of magnificent shrines. Why. Creator of men. Saint of saints. how shall I lead You into my house. You are here present before me on the altar. entirely free from distraction. and You say: "Come to Me: all of you!" If You. and they bear away little fruit for the amendment of their lives. 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. how little is all that I do! How short the time I spend in preparing for Communion! I am seldom wholly recollected. men are moved by curiosity. the Maker of law and the Giver of life? Solomon. too.96 What means this most gracious honor and this friendly invitation? How shall I dare to come. not an angel. They gaze upon and kiss the sacred relics encased in silk and gold. 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. spent seven years building a magnificent temple in praise of Your name. 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. by the novelty of the unseen. and I. and Lord of angels! Often in looking at such things. I who am conscious of no good on which to presume? How shall I lead You into my house. shall I. how hard these men tried to please You! Alas. is the difference between the Ark of the Covenant with its treasures and Your most pure Body with its ineffable virtues. do I not long more ardently for Your adorable presence? Why do I not prepare myself with greater care to receive Your sacred gifts. and very seldom. If such great devotion flourished in those days and such ceremony in praise of God before the Ark of the Covenant. since those holy patriarchs and prophets of old. Yet surely in the presence of Your life-giving Godhead no unbecoming thought should arise and no creature possess my heart. He composed psalms and ordered them sung with joy. as well as kings and princes with all their people. He himself often played upon the harp when moved by the grace of the Holy Ghost. a creature of corruption. for I am about to receive as my guest. then. 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. worked a hundred years building the ark that he and a few others might be saved. and behold. how. especially . dare so easily to receive You. and celebrated its dedication with a feast of eight days.would that I could spend even that as I ought! O my God. Very great. the wisest of the kings of Israel. Your great servant and special friend. a just man. unhappy and poorest of men. but the very Lord of angels. He made musical instruments of many kinds. the holy and the just fear You. who would have believed it to be true? And if You had not commanded.

This being true. its grace is so great that. surpasses all understanding. but by firm faith. and the beauty. At times. or sensuality. as one in need to the King of heaven. He is our sanctification and redemption. the wonderful and hidden grace of this Sacrament which only the faithful of Christ understand. Oh. everlasting Good Shepherd. all you who labor and are burdened. indeed. 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. when we are not moved to receive with greater fervor Christ in Whom is the hope and merit of all who will be saved. Oh. Jesus. we are not drawn by levity. in order to witness the celebration of the divine Mysteries! But now there are many priests and Mass is offered in many places. indeed. . 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. as one hungry and thirsty to the Fountain of life. O Lord. Who have seen fit to feed us poor exiled people with Your precious Body and Blood. and I will refresh you. who give their whole life to amendment. do you think. whence is obtained the full realization of eternal salvation. my God. and sincere love. that God's grace and love for men may appear the more clearly as the Sacred Communion is spread more widely through the world. Your truly faithful servants. To this. or curiosity. often receive in Holy Communion the great grace of devotion and love of virtue. and to invite us with words from Your own lips to partake of these sacred Mysteries: "Come to Me. a servant to his Lord. 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. This in a special manner attracts the hearts of the devout and inflames their love. marred by sin. I come as one sick to the Healer. devout hope. would men be attracted to that place. with what great desire.97 when they go from place to place lightly and without true contrition. our neglect and coldness is much to be deplored and pitied. indeed. repaired. O God." 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. from the fullness of the devotion. Nevertheless. not only the mind but also the frail body feels filled with greater strength. a creature to his Creator. to that priest of God. the blindness and the hardness of the heart of man that does not show more regard for so wonderful a gift. Thanks be to You. lost virtue restored. But here in the Sacrament of the altar You are wholly present. He is our consolation in this life and the eternal joy of the blessed in heaven. a soul in desolation to my gentle Comforter. hidden Creator of the world. which unbelievers and slaves of sin cannot experience! In it spiritual grace is conferred. as often as You are worthily and devoutly received. the man Christ Jesus.

my God. Rejoice. and You know that he has nothing good in him that You should grant him this. that my sinfulness may not stand in the way! O most sweet and merciful Jesus. how do You condescend to come to the sinner? You know Your servant. suffered and died for the salvation of man. not for any merit of mine. and give thanks to God for having left you so noble a gift and so special a consolation in this valley of tears. and I the scum of sinners! Behold. that greater love may be aroused and more perfect humility born in me. and You. and this. the Bread of Angels to eat.98 But whence is this to me. are contained whole and entire under the appearance of a little bread and wine. Behold. whose dignity no man can express! But on what shall I think in this Communion. 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. my God. for the love of Christ never grows less and the wealth of His mercy is never exhausted. this approach to my Lord. thanks. I confess. the living Bread Who are come down from heaven and give life to the world. 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. as new. that 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. this pleases You and You have so willed it. and give thanks for Your immense love. Who have need of nothing. You bow down to me who am not worthy to look up to You! Behold. As often as you celebrate or hear Mass. or. . you should prepare yourself for it by constantly renewing your heart and pondering deeply the great mystery of salvation. overpowering human understanding. what great reverence. I acknowledge Your goodness. it should seem as great. Whom I can never reverence as I ought. worthy of faith. so often do you enact the work of redemption and become a sharer in all the merits of Christ. more helpful to me than to humble myself entirely in Your presence and exalt Your infinite goodness above myself? I praise You. It is a wonderful thing. and neverending praise are due to You for our taking of Your sacred body. true God and man. 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. hanging on the Cross. was done. my unworthiness. whence love proceeds! What condescension shines forth! What great thanks and praise are due You for these gifts! Oh. then. Since. as sweet to you as if on that very day Christ became man in the womb of the Virgin. my soul. You are the Holy of holies. Therefore. For it is because of Yourself that You do it. and without being consumed are eaten by him who receives You! You. O Lord. Keep my heart and body clean. and yet Whom I desire devoutly to receive? What thought better. As often as you renew this Mystery and receive the Body of Christ. I praise Your mercy. therefore. the Lord of the universe. which You commanded. O Lord! How great Your power! How infallible Your truth! For You spoke and all things were made. and extol You forever! I despise myself and cast myself before You in the depths of my unworthiness. so that Your goodness may be better known to me. Your graciousness pleases me also. have willed to dwell in us by means of Your Sacrament. none other than Yourself.

that You. and the holy reception of Your Body. he quickly falls deeper. how beautiful and noble is the spouse she embraces. Behold. for without You there is no consolation. this day the soul of Your servant because I have raised my heart to You.it is enough. the Lord God. I fall away from my holy purpose. therefore. all that I can or ought to desire is in You. she receives her Beloved with devout recollection. her Lord God. to renew. is the one chief consolation of the faithful soul when separated from You by mortality. I grow weak on the way. If I am so often careless and lax when I celebrate or communicate. how sweet a companion she welcomes. Give me Yourself -. 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. lest perhaps by abstaining too long. cleanse. I come to You. then. . that often mindful of her God. It is indeed necessary for me. my hope and strength. 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. most 49Matt. Lord. that I may prosper by Your gift and be delighted at Your holy banquet which You. For from the days of his youth the senses of man are prone to evil. But Holy Communion removes him from evil and confirms him in good. I desire to bring You into my house that. 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. how true a friend she gains. and receive the strength of my salvation lest. in Your sweetness have prepared for Your poor. with Zacheus. Without You I cannot exist.99 The Third Chapter IT IS PROFITABLE TO RECEIVE COMMUNION OFTEN THE DISCIPLE BEHOLD. eternal glory. without Your visitation I cannot live. wonderful condescension of Your affection toward us. 15:32. while preaching to the people and healing their many ills. You are sweet refreshment to the soul. confession. my honor and glory. Creator and Giver of life to all. I long to receive You now. O Lord Jesus. what a beloved guest she receives. I must often come to You. This. who so quickly become lax and weak. Oh. and an heir to. You said: "I will not send them away fasting. lest they faint in the way. who fall and sin so often. My soul longs for Your Body. and he who eats You worthily will be a sharer in."49 Deal with me likewise. most merciful Jesus. and in receiving You. You Who have left Yourself in this Sacrament for the consolation of the faithful. and inflame myself through frequent prayer. Once. Gladden. yet I will do my best at proper times to receive the divine Mysteries and share in this great grace. my heart desires to be united with You. I may merit Your blessing and be numbered among the children of Abraham. O God. indeed. You are my salvation and my redemption. devoutly and reverently. deprived of this heavenly food. and unless divine aid strengthens him. is filled with spiritual joy! How great a Master she entertains.

100 sweetly Beloved. and they cannot approach the beauty of Your name. 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. be able to fathom and understand so great a mystery? O Lord. I beg Your mercy and ask that special grace be given me. shall I. Wherefore. cheerful. an unworthy sinner who am but dust and ashes. In it greater grace is infused. favor Your servant with the blessings of Your sweetness that I may merit to approach Your magnificent Sacrament worthily and devoutly. the highest and most worthy Sacrament. with hope and reverence. and devout. that never fails! . ever burning. for whatever glory and beauty they have is of Your condescending bounty. God and man. and give me strength to believe in it with firm faith. and I truly believe that You are present here in this Sacrament. faith confirmed. is the health of soul and body. my passions restrained. Whose wisdom is untold. the strength of human weakness. the protector of my soul. the cure of every spiritual weakness. and charity fanned into flame. obdurate. The Fourth Chapter MANY BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN THOSE WHO RECEIVE COMMUNION WORTHILY THE DISCIPLE O LORD my God. can humbly approach the fountain of sweetness and not carry away a little of it? Or who. Who. For it is Your work. my God. I come to You at Your command in simplicity of heart. Likewise. standing before a blazing fire does not feel some of its heat? You are a fountain always filled with superabundance! You are a fire. have given and still do often give in this Sacrament great gifts to Your loved ones who communicate devoutly. Moreover. Your sacred institution. growing virtue is nourished. 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. In it my defects are remedied. You give them many consolations amid their numerous troubles and lift them from the depths of dejection to the hope of Your protection. and the giver of every interior consolation. and temptations overcome or allayed. firm faith. that I may be wholly dissolved in You and filled with Your love. For this. no longer to concern myself with exterior consolations. not the power of man. through You they become fervent. indeed. You. Enlighten my eyes to behold this great Mystery. For though in themselves they are cold. then. With new graces You cheer and lighten them within. and wanting in devotion. 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. hope strengthened. in good. not his invention. It is Your will that I receive You and unite myself to You in love. No man is able of himself to comprehend and understand these things which surpass even the keen vision of angels. How. Lift up my heart to You and take away from me this heavy indolence.

do You in Your kindness and grace supply for me. and that you conduct yourself blamelessly. and there is none to help me. You Who have prepared Your Body and Blood as food and drink for me. you ought to believe in God rather than in your own senses or in any visible sign. that by approaching Your Mysteries frequently. Instead. 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. You have not made your burden lighter. I am torn with sorrow of heart. For priests alone." I. consecrated to celebrate Mass! See to it now that you offer sacrifice to God faithfully and devoutly at proper times. you would not be worthy to receive or administer this Sacrament. Great is the Mystery and great the dignity of priests to whom is given that which has not been granted the angels. Grant. that he may pray to God both for himself and for all people in a . indeed. Behold. For the honor and glory of Your name receive me. rightly ordained in the Church. you have been made a priest. 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. Savior most holy. my God and Savior. moreover. you are now bound by stricter discipline and held to more perfect sanctity.101 Therefore. 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. Look to yourself and see whose ministry has been given you through the imposition of the bishop's hands. is there -. troubled with temptations. A priest ought to be adorned with all virtues and show the example of a good life to others. none to deliver and save me but You. labor in the sweat of my brow. while I may not exhaust the fullness of the fountain or drink to satiety. my Lord God and Savior. using the word of God according to His command and appointment. enmeshed and oppressed by many evil passions. John the Baptist. to Whom all are obedient as He commands. and receives the Bread of Angels for his food. In this most excellent Sacrament.the chief Author and invisible Worker to Whom all is subject as He wills. It is not because of any human meriting that a man consecrates and administers the Sacrament of Christ. the zeal of my devotion may increase. Whatever is wanting in me. You Who have been pleased to call all unto You. And if I cannot as yet be all heavenly or as full of fire as the cherubim and seraphim. I am laden with sin. and thus. therefore. His way lies not among the vulgar and common habits of men but with the angels in heaven and the perfect men on earth. have power to celebrate Mass and consecrate the Body of Christ. good Jesus. O Lord. that You may protect me and lead me to eternal life. to Whom I entrust myself and all I have. with fear and reverence draw near to such a work as this. A priest clad in the sacred vestments acts in Christ's place. saying: "Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened and I will refresh you. indeed. God. is the minister of God. The priest.

Carefully examine your conscience. so careless in guarding the external senses. so full of roving lust. confess to God in the secret depths of your heart all the miseries your passions have caused. that he may look closely upon the footsteps of Christ and try to follow them fervently. I become very much frightened and confused. Let the memory of all your sins grieve you. God's priest should approach the celebration and reception of this Sacrament with the deepest humility of heart and suppliant reverence.102 suppliant and humble manner. so . that you may have no burden.he is signed with it -. or even to celebrate so great and divine a sacrifice. and my own meanness. What. so prone to laughter and dissipation and so indisposed to sorrow and tears. never to become weary of prayer and the holy offering until it is granted him to obtain grace and mercy. I fly from Life. The Sixth Chapter AN INQUIRY ON THE PROPER THING TO DO BEFORE COMMUNION THE DISCIPLE WHEN I consider Your dignity. to receive Your Sacrament for the good of my soul. that in pity he may mourn the sins of others. he honors God. and know that he is appointed to stand between God and the sinner. shall I do. my Helper and Adviser in necessity? Teach me the right way. my God. Cleanse and purify it to the best of your power by true contrition and humble confession. It is before him. When the priest celebrates Mass. I incur Your displeasure. Place before me some short exercise suitable for Holy Communion. and wins for himself a share in all good things. Lament and grieve because you are still so worldly. so carnal. He has before and behind him the sign of the Lord's cross that he may always remember the Passion of Christ. It is behind him -. For if I do not receive. helps the living. then. gladdens the angels. know of no remorse. on the chasuble. and if I intrude unworthily. then. strengthens the Church. O Lord. behind him. with complete faith and the pious intention of giving honor to God. for it is good to know in what manner I ought to make my heart ready devoutly and fervently for You. Then if time permits. so inclined to exterior things and so heedless of what lies within.that he may gladly suffer for God any adversities inflicted by others. so passionate and unmortified. He wears the cross before him that he may mourn his own sins. and thus be free to come near. and especially lament and bewail your daily transgressions. The Seventh Chapter THE EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE AND THE RESOLUTION TO AMEND THE VOICE OF CHRIST ABOVE all. brings rest to the departed. so often occupied in many vain fancies.

The Eighth Chapter THE OFFERING OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS. so careless in saying the office. so awake to empty conversation. "As I live. Offer yourself to Me. be firmly determined to amend your life day by day and to advance in goodness. therefore. so ought you to be willing to offer yourself to Me day by day in the Mass as a pure and holy oblation. so often making good resolutions and carrying so few of them into action.103 inclined to ease and the pleasures of the flesh and so cool to austerity and zeal. Just as it would not be enough for you to have everything if you did not have Me. and you Mine forever.50 I will no longer remember his sins. together with all your faculties and affections. so that nothing remained in Me that had not become a complete sacrifice to appease the divine wrath. so apt to take offense at others. I desire not the death of the wicked. for I seek not your gift but you. saith the Lord God. so seldom fully recollected. however often he comes to Me for grace and pardon. with as much inward devotion as you can. so disordered in action. that thus you may be considered worthy to draw near and offer sacrifice to God and profitably receive the Sacrament of My Body. 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. Behold. Then. so deaf to the Word of God. so covetous of abundance. so greedy at meals. When you have confessed and deplored these and other faults with sorrow and great displeasure because of your weakness. so prone to judge. so sleepy in keeping sacred vigils and so eager to end them. so niggardly in giving and so tenacious in keeping. so undisciplined in character. so happy in prosperity and so weak in adversity. so prompt to rest and so slow to labor. . so wandering in your attention. by entrusting with faith both body and soul to My care. so quickly moved to anger. so reluctant in silence. so heartless in receiving. but that the wicked turn from his way and live".your offering will be accepted. 50Ezek. 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. so quickly distracted. so lukewarm in celebrating. 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. What more do I ask than that you give yourself entirely to Me? I care not for anything else you may give Me. so severe in condemning. I offered Myself wholly to the Father for you. so inconsiderate in speech. I even gave My whole Body and Blood for food that I might be all yours. If a man does what he can and is truly penitent. but all will be forgiven him. and give yourself entirely for God -. 33:11. so curious to hear what is new and to see the beautiful and so slow to embrace humiliation and dejection. so whatever you give cannot please Me if you do not give yourself. For there is no more worthy offering.

friends. cannot be My disciple. for my salvation and that of all Your people. of all who have wished and asked my prayers and Masses for them and theirs. and all who are dear to me. and finally that You may lead me. that You may wipe away their every stain. from the day when I first could sin until this hour. O Lord. What can I do for all my sins but humbly confess and lament them. Hence. to a good and happy end. I am ready to do penance and make satisfaction to the utmost of my power. O Lord. not according to my malicious and evil ways. if you desire to attain grace and freedom of heart. the needs of my parents. I long to give myself to You as a voluntary offering to remain forever Yours. See. render it acceptable to Yourself. I offer to You also all the good I have. I offer You all the sins and offenses I have committed in Your presence and in the presence of Your holy angels. I am sorry for them and will be sorry as long as I live. sisters. Receive me with this holy offering of Your precious Body which also I make to You this day. forgive me my sins for Your Holy Name. hear me when I stand before You. brothers. This is why so few are inwardly free and enlightened -. Forgive me. I implore You. The Ninth Chapter WE SHOULD OFFER OURSELVES AND ALL THAT WE HAVE TO GOD. 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. O Lord. my God.they know not how to renounce themselves entirely.104 But if you rely upon self. to Your homage. I commit myself to Your hands. . that You may be pleased with it. and as a sacrifice of everlasting praise. and implore Your mercy without ceasing? In Your mercy. PRAYING FOR ALL THE DISCIPLE ALL things in heaven and on earth. you wish to be My disciple. I place myself at Your mercy. I wish never to commit them again. My word stands: "Everyone of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth. that You may make it more pure and more holy. I offer You also all the holy desires of Your devoted servants. All my sins are most displeasing to me. let the free offering of yourself into the hands of God precede your every action. cleanse my conscience of every fault. Deal with me according to Your goodness. are Yours. that You may burn and consume them all in the fire of Your love. therefore. in the presence of angels invisibly attending. small and imperfect though it be. With a sincere heart I offer myself this day to You. whether they yet live in the flesh or are now departed from 51Luke 14:33. your offering will be incomplete and the union between us imperfect. O God. offer yourself to Me with all your heart. and perfect it more and more. Save my soul which You have redeemed by Your most precious Blood."51 If. to Your eternal service. upon Your altar of expiation. of all who for Your sake have been kind to me or to others. an indolent and worthless creature. and do not offer your free will to Mine.

and whatever may injure charity and lessen brotherly love.105 this world. Take away from our hearts.all his suggestions must be cast back upon his head. also. spit out the poison quickly. no matter how base and horrible -. 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. Do as wise men do. What good is it to delay confession for a long time or to put off Holy Communion? Cleanse yourself at once. Oftentimes. to the fountain of goodness and perfect purity. that they may all experience the help of Your grace. and also for all those whom I have at any time saddened. and thus you will stay away from Communion for a long time and become even more unfit. O Lord. protection from dangers. the strength of Your consolation. perhaps tomorrow a greater will occur to you. Cast off anxiety and scruple. give grace to those who need it. knowing the great good and the healing power of Holy Communion. contention. May it please You to forgive us all alike our sins and offenses against one another. all suspicion. and that. if you wish to be free from passion and vice. free from all evils. Make haste to apply the remedy and you will find it better than if you had waited a long time. and make us such that we may be worthy to enjoy Your favor and gain eternal life. must be paid to his cunning wiles. As it is written in Job. Holy Communion must not be passed by because of any assaults from him or because of the commotion he may arouse. or slandered me. Have mercy. offended. 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. this wicked spirit comes among the sons of God to trouble them by his wonted malice. there are some who suffer the worst assaults of Satan when disposing themselves to prepare for Holy Communion. saddened. too great solicitude for devotion and anxiety about confession hinder a person. The wretch is to be despised and scorned. have mercy on those who ask Your mercy. to make them unduly fearful and perplexed. and abused by word or deed. tries as much as he can by every manner and means to hinder and keep away the faithful and the devout. inflicted loss or pain upon me. wrath. Indeed. . disturbed. No attention. The enemy. for it impedes the grace of God and destroys devotion of the mind. I offer You also these prayers and the Sacrifice of Propitiation for those especially who have in any way injured. If you put it off today because of one thing. anger. however. O Lord. humbly seek pardon and God will readily forgive you. willfully or in ignorance. they may gladly give abundant thanks to You. deliverance from punishment to come. 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. if you desire to be made stronger and more watchful against all the temptations and deceits of the devil. If you have offended anyone.

and if he could do so unnoticed. before Your holy angels. and in depriving yourself of the divine Mysteries because of these daily disturbances. 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. my whole heart ought to be inflamed and weep for joy. for the Lord will quicken his desire because of the good intention to which He particularly looks. but if laziness takes hold of him. and is inflamed with love for Him. her only Lover. indeed. Yet on certain days and times appointed he ought to receive with affectionate reverence the Body of his Redeemer in this Sacrament. for it usually brings on a lazy spiritual sleep. this copious shedding of holy tears? Certainly in Your sight. a man abstains by the grace of humility or for a legitimate reason. Yes. he must arouse himself and do everything in his power. . For. But where now is this devotion. it is very hurtful to defer Holy Communion long. now and then. The Eleventh Chapter THE BODY OF CHRIST AND SACRED SCRIPTURE ARE MOST NECESSARY TO A FAITHFUL SOUL THE DISCIPLE O MOST sweet Lord Jesus. lest they be forced to keep a stricter watch over themselves! Alas. he communicates mystically and is invisibly refreshed. where there is set before her to be eaten no other food but Yourself alone. How sad that some dissolute and lax persons are willing to postpone confession and likewise wish to defer Holy Communion. even every day if he were permitted. how great is the happiness of the devout soul that feasts upon You at Your banquet. will often find himself unprepared. in enduring long hours of trouble. his reverence is commendable. When he is indeed unable to come. to shed tears in Your presence from the innermost depths of love. For as often as he devoutly calls to mind the mystery and passion of the Incarnate Christ. as to be ready and well disposed to communicate. Blessed is he who offers himself a sacrifice to the Lord as often as he celebrates or communicates. and keeps his conscience so pure. Any devout person may at any hour on any day receive Christ in spiritual communion profitably and without hindrance. You ought not to cause others inconvenience or trouble.106 Shake off this heaviness and sloth as quickly as you can. but observe the accepted rule as laid down by superiors. Be neither too slow nor too fast in celebrating but follow the good custom common to those among whom you are. and look to the benefit of others rather than to your own devotion or inclination. If. for there is no gain in much anxiety. He who prepares himself only when festivals approach or custom demands. seeking the praise and honor of God rather than his own consolation. and like the pious Magdalen to wash Your feet with them. he will always have the good will and pious intention to communicate and thus he will not lose the fruit of the Sacrament. most desired of all that her heart can desire! To me it would be happiness.

Confined here in this prison of the body I confess I need these two. Who. I must be very patient and submit myself to You in every desire. In truth. moreover. nor could the whole world stand in the splendor of the glory of Your majesty. But this is not possible while I remain in mortal life. having the holy Bread that is the precious Body of Christ. You are my witness. I consider everything I hear and see on earth of little account. besides. You have regard for my weakness. Lord Jesus. O God. In veiling Yourself in the Sacrament. for the blessed in heavenly glory need no healing sacrament. they face to face unveiled. every spiritual solace becomes wearisome to me because so long as I do not plainly see the Lord in His glory. Light of eternal light. I hope for. Even Your saints.I as yet by faith. Rejoicing endlessly in the presence of God. food and light. Thanks to You. intoxicating them with the chalice of salvation in which are all the delights of paradise. making all the faithful glad in Your sacred banquet. for the word of God is the light of my soul and Your Sacrament is the Bread of Life. What they believed. no creature give me rest but You. One is the table of the holy altar. What they hoped for. and above all these. I trust I shall come by Your grace. Though mindful of these wonderful things. Therefore. the need of sacraments shall cease. 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. I feel there are especially necessary for me in this life two things without which its miseries would be unbearable. Meanwhile I will walk in faith. in the treasure house of holy Church. awaited the coming of Your glory with faith and great patience while they lived. the holy Books. who now rejoice with You in the kingdom of heaven. My eyes could not bear to behold You in Your own divine brightness. Your most holy Body for my special haven and refuge. O Lord. have prepared a great supper in which You have placed before us as food not the lamb. they taste the Word of God made flesh. one here. the type of Yourself. that which is perfect shall have come. beholding His glory face to face. to declare Your love to all the world. therefore. These also may be called the two tables. Whom I desire to contemplate forever. and whither they arrived. one there. Creator and Redeemer of men. and You have set Your word as the guiding light for my feet. that nothing can comfort me. but Your own most precious Body and Blood. transformed from their own brightness to the brightness of the ineffable Deity. as He was in the beginning and will remain in eternity.107 hidden though You are beneath another form. therefore. I shall have. my God. strengthened by the example of the saints. and. I believe. You have given me in my weakness Your sacred Flesh to refresh my soul and body. for the table of Your holy teaching which You have prepared for us by Your servants. Thanks to You. The other is the table of divine law. I possess and adore Him Whom the angels adore in heaven -. for comfort and for the guidance of my life. containing holy doctrine that teaches all the true faith and firmly leads them within the veil. and the holy angels feast with us but with more happiness and sweetness. the prophets and Apostles and other learned men. I have You truly present in the Sacrament. When. the Holy of holies. Without them I could not live aright. .

and think on your transgressions in bitterness of soul. Sit as the sparrow lonely on the housetop. because the love of the one receiving his lover is recognized thereby. whose lips bless Him. The Twelfth Chapter THE COMMUNICANT SHOULD PREPARE HIMSELF FOR CHRIST WITH GREAT CARE THE VOICE OF CHRIST I AM the Lover of purity. No word but what is holy. Come and receive Me." Let Your grace. how sanctified the body. give thanks to God. And if we cannot live as innocently as we ought. I will supply what you lack. with reverence. 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. and with love. how immaculate the heart of the priest to whom the Author of all purity so often comes. to whom is given the consecration of the Lord of majesty in sacred words. Prepare for Me a large room furnished and I with My disciples will keep the Pasch with you. not because you are worthy but because I have had mercy upon you. purge out the old leaven and make clean the dwelling of your heart. how great and honorable is the office of the priest. But understand that you cannot by any merit of your own make this preparation well enough. It is only by My goodness and grace that you are allowed to approach My table. I am He that called you. that we who have undertaken the office of the priesthood may serve You worthily and devoutly in all purity and with a good conscience. Shut out the whole world with all the din of its vices. Do what you can and do that carefully. If you have it not and feel rather dry instead. but with fear. whose hands hold Him. 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. Everyone who loves prepares the best and most beautiful home for his beloved. none but what is good and profitable ought to come from the lips of the priest who so often receives the Sacrament of Christ. and do not give up until you receive some crumb of saving grace. how clean those hands should be. not out of habit or necessity.108 Oh. though you spend a year in doing it and think of nothing else. I seek a pure heart and there is the place of My rest. To priests above all it is written in the law: "Be ye holy. assist us. the Giver of all holiness. am holy. the Lord your God. If you wish that I come to you and remain with you. how pure the lips. and whose ministry it is to bring Him to others! Oh. your beloved God Who deigns to come to you. for I. continue in prayer. Receive the Body of the Lord. I ordered it done. Pure and lifted up to heaven the hands accustomed to handle the Creator of heaven and earth. whose tongue receives Him. almighty God. When I grant the grace of devotion. sigh and knock. . Single and modest should be the eyes accustomed to looking upon the Body of Christ.

I desire this. and friend converses with friend. that I may be completely united to You and may withdraw my heart from all created things. not in yourself. . You come to be sanctified and united with Me. O how kind is Your spirit. to feed her with His glorious Flesh? O unspeakable grace! O wonderful condescension! O love beyond measure. and Your conversation is rather with the humble and the simple. to be disturbed by no one. You do not come to sanctify Me but I come to sanctify you and make you better. and bring into it your Beloved. to open to You my whole heart. Who in order to show Your sweetness toward Your children. I pray for this. Lord. as a lover speaks to his loved one. to enjoy You as my soul desires. to be moved and troubled by no creature. when shall I be completely united to You and absorbed by You. in Whom is the greatest peace and true rest. with self utterly forgotten? You in me and I in You? Grant that we may remain so together. chosen from thousands. Do not neglect this grace.109 You have need of Me. but you should also carefully keep yourself in devotion after receiving the Sacrament. without Whom there is toil and sorrow and infinite misery. singularly bestowed upon man! What return shall I make to the Lord for this love. but in Me. with all cares cast away. to receive new grace and to be aroused anew to amend. that from now on you may live. The careful custody of yourself afterward is no less necessary than the devout preparation before. learning to relish the celestial and the eternal through Holy Communion and the frequent celebration of Mass. If a person lets his mind wander to external comforts. for a careful afterwatch is the best preparation for obtaining greater grace. our God. You truly are the hidden God. for you have Him Whom all the world cannot take from you. deign to feed them with the sweetest of bread. he becomes quite indisposed. this grace so boundless? There is nothing I can give more pleasing than to offer my heart completely to my God. as You. in Whom my soul is happy to dwell all the days of her life. You are in truth my pledge of peace. but prepare your heart with all care. I am He to Whom you should give yourself entirely. I do not need you. Not only should you prepare devoutly before Communion. Your counsel is not with the wicked. Ah Lord God. O Christ. Beware of much talking. are present everywhere to the faithful. 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. bread come down from heaven! Surely there is no other people so fortunate as to have their god near them. Indeed. You in truth are my Beloved. 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 whom You give Yourself to be eaten and enjoyed for their daily solace and the raising of their hearts to heaven. that You may speak to me and I to You alone. Remain in seclusion and enjoy your God.

once perfectly kindled within me by tasting heavenly manna. Then shall all my inner self be glad when my soul is perfectly united with God. the length and manner of the heavenly visitation. . that I am not completely inflamed in Your presence. and that charity. that I remain so dry and devoid of heartfelt affection. O Lord. Such affection and devotion. praying and seeking a place among all such ardent lovers that I may be numbered among their holy company. O Lord. O my God. Then will He say to me: "If you will be with Me. await it patiently and hopefully. that my heart may be united with You. could not restrain their tears but longed from the depths of their souls and bodies to embrace You. guard it humbly. receive it gratefully. O sweet.convincing proof of Your sacred presence." And I will answer Him: "Deign. nor so strongly drawn and attracted as many devout persons who. when it comes. These were able to appease and allay their hunger in no other way than by receiving Your Body with all joy and spiritual eagerness. Be merciful to me. 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." The Fourteenth Chapter THE ARDENT LONGING OF DEVOUT MEN FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST THE DISCIPLE HOW great is the abundance of Your kindness. sometimes at least to feel in Holy Communion a little of the tenderness of Your love. They whose hearts burn so ardently within them when Jesus lives with them truly know their Lord in the breaking of bread. cooperate with it carefully and leave to God. ask for it fervently. The Fifteenth Chapter THE GRACE OF DEVOTION IS ACQUIRED THROUGH HUMILITY AND SELFDENIAL THE VOICE OF CHRIST YOU must seek earnestly the grace of devotion. in their great desire for Communion and intense heart love. I will be with you. This is my one desire. the Fountain of Life. I will gladly be with You. to remain with me. may never fail. 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. and grant me. The faith of these men was true and ardent -. good. yet by Your grace I long for this same great flame. kind Jesus. such mighty love and zeal are often far beyond me. that my hope in Your goodness may increase.110 uniting it closely with His. Your poor suppliant. I am frequently ashamed and confused that I approach Your altar and the table of Holy Communion so coldly and indifferently. that my faith may grow stronger. For although I am not now inflamed with as great desire as those who are singularly devoted to You.

So also the more perfectly a man renounces things of this world. blame yourself and your sins. Thus shall the man be blessed who seeks God with all his heart and has not regarded his soul in vain. the more plentifully it enters in. When it is not given. but do not become too dejected or unreasonably sad. tempted. asking Your grace and imploring Your mercy. At times He grants at the end what He has denied from the beginning of prayer. the more quickly this great grace comes to him. Such a one. nor to his own comfort. Whom I now desire to receive with devotion. you should especially humiliate yourself. in what great evils and vices I am involved. Sometimes it is a small matter that hinders grace and hides it. and if you conquer it perfectly. 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. Behold I stand before You. it would not be well taken by weak humankind. and the more completely he dies to himself through contempt of self. to You I pray for comfort and relief. but above all devotion and consolation to the glory and honor of God. If grace were always given at once. and Who alone can perfectly comfort and help me. nothing will please you so much as the good pleasure of His will. therefore. merits the grace of divine union because he looks not on his own thoughts.111 When you feel little or no inward devotion. or were present at our beck and call. Feed Your hungry beggar. because nothing will be so sweet. or for some unknown reason is taken away. Anyone. To You I come for help. Inflame my coldness with the fire of Your love. In one short moment God often gives what He has long denied. defiled. You know what good things I am most in need of and how poor I am in virtue. most loving Lord. indeed. united with Him. that which prevents so great a good may be called little rather than great. I speak to Him Who knows all things. Therefore. Turn all earthly things to . be it great or small. 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 if you remove this hindrance. and troubled. receiving the Holy Eucharist. you shall find yourself at peace. Then shall he see and abound. You know the weakness and the necessity which I suffer. The Sixteenth Chapter WE SHOULD SHOW OUR NEEDS TO CHRIST AND ASK HIS GRACE THE DISCIPLE O MOST kind. but place yourself completely in His charge. then shall his heart marvel and be enlarged within him. with good hope and humble patience await the grace of devotion. because the Hand of the Lord is with him and in the hollow of that Hand he has placed himself forever. how often I am depressed. For where the Lord finds the vessel empty He pours down His blessing. you shall have what you ask. Enlighten my blindness with the brightness of Your presence. to Whom my whole inner life is manifest. and the higher it uplifts the free heart. poor and naked. if.

hope. John the Baptist. Let Your presence wholly inflame me. be it done to me according to thy word. I long to receive You this day with such reverence. and purity as that with which Your most holy Mother. Therefore I offer and present to You the gladness of all devout hearts. Suffer me not to go from You fasting and thirsty. everlasting love. worthiness and love. O Lord God.112 bitterness for me. . 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. their mental raptures. 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. but deal with me mercifully as You have so often and so wonderfully dealt with Your saints. O my God. exulted in the Holy Ghost while yet enclosed in the womb of his mother. Yet. my happiness unending. with such faith. gladdened by Your presence. myself and all that is mine. all lowly creation to contempt and oblivion. praise. Raise my heart to You in heaven and suffer me not to wander on earth."53 even so I long to be inflamed with great and holy desires and to give myself to You with all my heart. willingly and most freely. my sweetness and my total good. From this moment to all eternity do You alone grow sweet to me. their ardent affection. I offer in its entirety to You with the greatest reverence and inward affection. The Seventeenth Chapter THE BURNING LOVE AND STRONG DESIRE TO RECEIVE CHRIST THE DISCIPLE WITH greatest devotion and ardent love. the most excellent of saints."52 Likewise as Your blessed precursor. for You alone are my food and drink. since You are the fire ever burning and never dying. What wonder if I were completely inflamed by You to die to myself. still I offer You the full affection of my heart as if I alone had all those most pleasing and ardent desires. O Lord. whatever a God-fearing mind can conceive and desire. and afterward seeing Jesus walking among men. 53John 3:29. a love purifying the heart and enlightening the understanding. and honor. rejoiceth with joy because of the bridegroom's voice. their supernatural illuminations and heavenly visions together with all the virtues and praises which have been or shall be celebrated 52Luke 1:38. my Creator and my Redeemer. my final good. most pleasing to You in their holiness of life and most fervent in devotion. as many saints and devout persons. I wish to keep nothing for self but to offer to You. and though I am not worthy to have all these sentiments of devotion. who standeth and heareth him. that I may become one spirit with You by the grace of inward union and by the melting power of Your ardent love. the glorious Virgin Mary. my love and my joy. with such gratitude. all grievance and adversity to patience. with all affection and fervor of heart I wish to receive You. consume and transform me into Yourself. desired You in Holy Communion. humbled himself and with devout love declared: "The friend of the bridegroom.

reveals Himself to humble men. Some are gravely tempted concerning faith and the Sacrament but this disturbance is not laid to them but to the enemy. my promises and desires of giving You infinite praise and boundless benediction. and tongues praise You and with the greatest joy and most ardent devotion magnify Your sweet and holy name. O Lord my God. A pious and humble search for truth He will allow. He who scrutinizes its majesty too closely will be overwhelmed by its glory. who trusts in himself is deceived. God walks with sincere men. This I render and desire to render every day and every moment of time. not a lofty intellect nor a delving into the mysteries of God. Accept. which in the vastness of Your ineffable greatness are justly due You. however. a sinner. but believe the words of God.113 by all creatures in heaven and on earth. 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. Whatever you cannot understand commit to the security of the all-powerful God. firm path of God's commandments. God can do more than man can understand. The Eighteenth Chapter MAN SHOULD NOT SCRUTINIZE THIS SACRAMENT IN CURIOSITY. may they deign to remember my poor soul. and a sincere life. For Satan does not tempt unbelievers and sinners whom he already holds securely. and with humble reverence approach this Sacrament. races. Go forward. dispute not in your mind. how can you comprehend what is above you? Submit yourself to God and humble reason to faith. but in many ways he does tempt and trouble the faithful servant. for myself and all commended to my prayers. Let all people. a search that is ever ready to learn and that seeks to walk in the reasonable doctrine of the fathers. And let all who reverently and devoutly celebrate this most great Sacrament and receive it in the fullness of faith. If you neither know nor understand things beneath you. if you do not wish to be plunged into the depths of doubt. 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. Be not disturbed. and the light of understanding will be given you so far as it is good and necessary for you. answer not the doubts sent by the devil. . and. find kindness and mercy in You and humbly pray for me. Faith is required of you. It is often very profitable for the servant of God to suffer such things. Your celestial table. The man. Many have lost devotion because they wished to search into things beyond them. that You may be worthily praised and glorified forever. Blest is the simplicity that leaves the difficult way of dispute and goes forward on the level. believe His saints and prophets and the evil enemy will flee from you. then. Who does not deceive you. have retired from Your holy. And when they have received the longed-for devotion and blissful union. well consoled and wonderfully refreshed. with sincere and unflinching faith.

they would not be called wonderful or beyond the power of words to tell. nor oppose it. God. cannot be deceived. faith and love take precedence and work in a hidden manner. eternal. however.114 enlightens the understanding of pure minds. does great and inscrutable things in heaven and on earth. Human reason is weak and can be deceived. and infinitely powerful. and there is no searching into His marvelous works. All reason and natural science ought to come after faith. not go before it. incomprehensible. True faith. and hides His grace from the curious and the proud. For in this most holy and supremely excellent Sacrament. . If all the works of God were such that human reason could easily grasp them.

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