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The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Part 3 out of 4

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Of instability of the heart, and of directing the aim towards God

"My Son, trust not thy feeling, for that which is now will be
quickly changed into somewhat else. As long as thou livest thou
art subject to change, howsoever unwilling; so that thou art
found now joyful, now sad; now at peace, now disquieted; now
devout, now indevout; now studious, now careless; now sad, now
cheerful. But the wise man, and he who is truly learned in
spirit, standeth above these changeable things, attentive not to
what he may feel in himself, or from what quarter the wind may
blow, but that the whole intent of his mind may carry him on to
the due and much-desired end. For thus will he be able to remain
one and the same and unshaken, the single eye of his desire being
steadfastly fixed, through the manifold changes of the world,
upon Me.

2. "But according as the eye of intention be the more pure, even
so will a man make his way steadfastly through the manifold
storms. But in many the eye of pure intention waxeth dim; for it
quickly resteth itself upon anything pleasant which occurreth,
and rarely is any man found altogether free from the blemish of
self-seeking. So the Jews of old came to Bethany, to the house
of Martha and Mary, that they might see not Jesus, but Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.(1) Therefore must the eye of
the intention be cleansed, that it may be single and right, and
above all things which come in its way, may be directed unto Me."

(1) John xii. 9.


That to him who loveth God is sweet above all things and in all

Behold, God is mine, and all things are mine! What will I more,
and what more happy thing can I desire? O delightsome and sweet
world! that is, to him that loveth the Word, not the world,
neither the things that are in the world.(1) My God, my all! To
him that understandeth, that word sufficeth, and to repeat it
often is pleasing to him that loveth it. When Thou art present
all things are pleasant; when Thou art absent, all things are
wearisome. Thou makest the heart to be at rest, givest it deep
peace and festal joy. Thou makest it to think rightly in every
matter, and in every matter to give Thee praise; neither can
anything please long without Thee but if it would be pleasant and
of sweet savour, Thy grace must be there, and it is Thy wisdom
which must give unto it a sweet savour.

2. To him who tasteth Thee, what can be distasteful? And to him
who tasteth Thee not, what is there which can make him joyous?
But the worldly wise, and they who enjoy the flesh, these fail in
Thy wisdom; for in the wisdom of the world is found utter vanity,
and to be carnally minded is death. But they who follow after
Thee through contempt of worldly things, and mortification of the
flesh, are found to be truly wise because they are carried from
vanity to verity, from the flesh to the spirit. They taste that
the Lord is good, and whatsoever good they find in creatures,
they count it all unto the praise of the Creator. Unlike, yea,
very unlike is the enjoyment of the Creator to enjoyment of the
Creature, the enjoyment of eternity and of time, of light
uncreated and of light reflected.

3. O Light everlasting, surpassing all created lights, dart down
Thy ray from on high which shall pierce the inmost depths of my
heart. Give purity, joy, clearness, life to my spirit that with
all its powers it may cleave unto Thee with rapture passing man's
understanding. Oh when shall that blessed and longed-for time
come when Thou shalt satisfy me with Thy presence, and be unto me
All in all? So long as this is delayed, my joy shall not be
full. Still, ah me! the old man liveth in me: he is not yet all
crucified, not yet quite dead; still he lusteth fiercely against
the spirit, wageth inward wars, nor suffereth the soul's kingdom
to be in peace.

4. But Thou who rulest the raging of the sea, and stillest the
waves thereof when they arise, rise up and help me. Scatter the
people that delight in war.(2) Destroy them by Thy power. Show
forth, I beseech Thee, Thy might, and let Thy right hand be
glorified, for I have no hope, no refuge, save in Thee, O Lord my

(1) 1 John ii. 15. (2) Psalm lxviii. 30.


That there is no security against temptation in this life

"My Son, thou art never secure in this life, but thy spiritual
armour will always be needful for thee as long as thou livest.
Thou dwellest among foes, and art attacked on the right hand and
on the left. If therefore thou use not on all sides the shield
of patience, thou wilt not remain long unwounded. Above all, if
thou keep not thy heart fixed upon Me with steadfast purpose to
bear all things for My sake, thou shalt not be able to bear the
fierceness of the attack, nor to attain to the victory of the
blessed. Therefore must thou struggle bravely all thy life
through, and put forth a strong hand against those things which
oppose thee. For to him that overcometh is the hidden manna
given,(1) but great misery is reserved for the slothful.

2. "If thou seek rest in this life, how then wilt thou attain
unto the rest which is eternal? Set not thyself to attain much
rest, but much patience. Seek the true peace, not in earth but
in heaven, not in man nor in any created thing, but in God alone.
For the love of God thou must willingly undergo all things,
whether labours or sorrows, temptations, vexations, anxieties,
necessities, infirmities, injuries, gainsayings, rebukes,
humiliations, confusions, corrections, despisings; these things
help unto virtue, these things prove the scholar of Christ; these
things fashion the heavenly crown. I will give thee an eternal
reward for short labour, and infinite glory for transient shame.

3. "Thinkest thou that thou shalt always have spiritual
consolations at thy will? My Saints had never such, but instead
thereof manifold griefs, and divers temptations, and heavy
desolations. But patiently they bore themselves in all, and
trusted in God more than in themselves, knowing that the
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared
with the glory which shall be revealed in us.(2) Wouldst thou
have that immediately which many have hardly attained unto after
many tears and hard labours? Wait for the Lord, quit thyself
like a man and be strong; be not faint-hearted, nor go aside from
Me, but constantly devote thy body and soul to the glory of God.
I will reward thee plenteously, I will be with thee in

(1) Revelation ii. 17. (2) Romans viii. 17.
(3) Psalm xci. 15.


Against vain judgments of men

"My Son, anchor thy soul firmly upon God, and fear not man's
judgment, when conscience pronounceth thee pious and innocent.
It is good and blessed thus to suffer; nor will it be grievous to
the heart which is humble, and which trusteth in God more than in
itself. Many men have many opinions, and therefore little trust
is to be placed in them. But moreover it is impossible to please
all. Although Paul studied to please all men in the Lord, and to
become all things to all men,(1) yet nevertheless with him it was
a very small thing that he should be judged by man's

2. He laboured abundantly, as much as in him lay, for the
building up and the salvation of others; but he could not avoid
being sometimes judged and despised by others. Therefore he
committed all to God, who knew all, and by patience and humility
defended himself against evil speakers, or foolish and false
thinkers, and those who accused him according to their pleasure.
Nevertheless, from time to time he replied, lest his silence
should become a stumbling-block to those who were weak.

3. "Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that
shall die? To-day he is, and to-morrow his place is not found.
Fear God and thou shalt not quail before the terrors of men.
What can any man do against thee by words or deeds? He hurteth
himself more than thee, nor shall he escape the judgment of God,
whosoever he may be. Have thou God before thine eyes, and do not
contend with fretful words. And if for the present thou seem to
give way, and to suffer confusion which thou hast not deserved,
be not angry at this, nor by impatience diminish thy reward; but
rather look up to Me in heaven, for I am able to deliver thee
from all confusion and hurt, and to render to every man according
to his works."

(1) 1 Corinthians ix. 22. (2) 1 Corinthians iv. 3.


Of pure and entire resignation of self, for the obtaining
liberty of heart

"My Son, lose thyself and thou shalt find Me. Stand still
without all choosing and all thought of self, and thou shalt ever
be a gainer. For more grace shall be added to thee, as soon as
thou resignest thyself, and so long as thou dost not turn back to
take thyself again."

2. O Lord, how often shall I resign myself, and in what things
shall I lose myself?

3. "Always; every hour: in that which is little, and in that
which is great. I make no exception, but will that thou be found
naked in all things. Otherwise how canst thou be Mine and I
thine, unless thou be inwardly and outwardly free from every will
of thine own? The sooner thou dost this, the better shall it be
with thee; and the more fully and sincerely, the more thou shalt
please Me, and the more abundantly shalt thou be rewarded.

4. "Some resign themselves, but with certain reservations, for
they do not fully trust in God, therefore they think that they
have some provision to make for themselves. Some again at first
offer everything; but afterwards being pressed by temptation they
return to their own devices, and thus make no progress in virtue.
They will not attain to the true liberty of a pure heart, nor to
the grace of My sweet companionship, unless they first entirely
resign themselves and daily offer themselves up as a sacrifice;
without this the union which bringeth forth fruit standeth not
nor will stand.

5. "Many a time I have said unto thee, and now say again, Give
thyself up, resign thyself, and thou shalt have great inward
peace. Give all for all; demand nothing, ask nothing in return;
stand simply and with no hesitation in Me, and thou shalt possess
Me. Thou shalt have liberty of heart, and the darkness shall not
overwhelm thee. For this strive thou, pray for it, long after
it, that thou mayest be delivered from all possession of thyself,
and nakedly follow Jesus who was made naked for thee; mayest die
unto thyself and live eternally to Me. Then shall all vain
fancies disappear, all evil disturbings, and superfluous cares.
Then also shall immoderate fear depart from thee, and inordinate
love shall die."


Of a good government in external things, and of having recourse
to God in dangers

"My Son, for this thou must diligently make thy endeavour, that
in every place and outward action or occupation thou mayest be
free within, and have power over thyself; and that all things be
under thee, not thou under them; that thou be master and ruler of
thy actions, not a slave or hireling, but rather a free and true
Hebrew, entering into the lot and the liberty of the children of
God, who stand above the present and look upon the eternal, who
with the left eye behold things transitory, and with the right
things heavenly; whom temporal things draw not to cleave unto,
but who rather draw temporal things to do them good service, even
as they were ordained of God to do, and appointed by the Master
Workman, who hath left nought in His creation without aim and

2. "And if in any chance of life thou stand not in outward
appearances, nor judgest things which are seen and heard by the
fleshly sense, but straightway in every cause enterest with Moses
into the tabernacle to ask counsel of God; thou shalt hear a
divine response and come forth instructed concerning many things
that are and shall be. For always Moses had recourse to the
tabernacle for the solving of all doubts and questionings; and
fled to the help of prayer to be delivered from the dangers and
evil deeds of men. Thus also oughtest thou to fly to the secret
chamber of thy heart, and earnestly implore the divine succour.
For this cause we read that Joshua and the children of Israel
were deceived by the Gibeonites, that they asked not counsel at
the mouth of the Lord,(1) but being too ready to listen to fair
speeches, were deceived by pretended piety."

(1) Joshua ix. 14.


That man must not be immersed in business

"My Son, always commit thy cause to Me; I will dispose it aright
in due time. Wait for My arrangement of it, and then thou shalt
find it for thy profit."

2. O Lord, right freely I commit all things to Thee; for my
planning can profit but little. Oh that I did not dwell so much
on future events, but could offer myself altogether to Thy
pleasures without delay.

3. "My Son, a man often striveth vehemently after somewhat which
he desireth; but when he hath obtained it he beginneth to be of
another mind, because his affections towards it are not lasting,
but rather rush on from one thing to another. Therefore it is not
really a small thing, when in small things we resist self."

4. The true progress of man lieth in self-denial, and a man who
denieth himself is free and safe. But the old enemy, opposer of
all good things, ceaseth not from temptation; but day and night
setteth his wicked snares, if haply he may be able to entrap the
unwary. Watch and pray, saith the Lord, lest ye enter into

(1) Matthew xxvi. 41.


That man hath no good in himself, and nothing whereof to glory

Lord, what is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man
that Thou visitest him?(1) What hath man deserved, that Thou
shouldest bestow thy favour upon him? Lord, what cause can I
have of complaint, if Thou forsake me? Or what can I justly
allege, if Thou refuse to hear my petition? Of a truth, this I
may truly think and say, Lord, I am nothing, I have nothing that
is good of myself, but I fall short in all things, and ever tend
unto nothing. And unless I am helped by Thee and inwardly
supported, I become altogether lukewarm and reckless.

2. But Thou, O Lord, art always the same, and endurest for ever,
always good, righteous, and holy; doing all things well,
righteously, and holily, and disposing all in Thy wisdom. But I
who am more ready to go forward than backward, never continue in
one stay, because changes sevenfold pass over me. Yet it quickly
becometh better when it so pleaseth Thee, and Thou puttest forth
Thy hand to help me; because Thou alone canst aid without help of
man, and canst so strengthen me that my countenance shall be no
more changed, but my heart shall be turned to Thee, and rest in
Thee alone.

3. Wherefore, if I but knew well how to reject all human
consolations, whether for the sake of gaining devotion, or
because of the necessity by which I was compelled to seek Thee,
seeing there is no man who can comfort me; then could I worthily
trust in Thy grace, and rejoice in the gift of new consolation.

4. Thanks be to Thee, from whom all cometh, whensoever it goeth
well with me! But I am vanity and nothing in Thy sight, a man
inconstant and weak. What then have I whereof to glory, or why
do I long to be held in honour? Is it not for nought? This also
is utterly vain. Verily vain glory is an evil plague, the
greatest of vanities, because it draweth us away from the true
glory, and robbeth us of heavenly grace. For whilst a man
pleaseth himself he displeaseth Thee; whilst he gapeth after the
praises of man, he is deprived of true virtues.

5. But true glory and holy rejoicing lieth in glorying in Thee
and not in self; in rejoicing in Thy Name, not in our own virtue;
in not taking delight in any creature, save only for Thy sake.
Let thy Name, not mine be praised; let Thy work, not mine be
magnified; let Thy holy Name be blessed, but to me let nought be
given of the praises of men. Thou art my glory, Thou art the joy
of my heart. In Thee will I make my boast and be glad all the
day long, but for myself let me not glory save only in my

6. Let the Jews seek the honour which cometh from one another;
but I will ask for that which cometh from God only.(3) Truly all
human glory, all temporal honour, all worldly exultation,
compared to Thy eternal glory, is but vanity and folly. O God my
Truth and my Mercy, Blessed Trinity, to Thee alone be all praise,
honour, power, and glory for ever and for ever. Amen.

(1) Psalm viii. 4. (2) 2 Corinthians xii. 5.
(3) John v. 44.


Of contempt of all temporal honour

"My Son, make it no matter of thine, if thou see others honoured
and exalted, and thyself despised and humbled. Lift up thine
heart to Me in heaven, and then the contempt of men upon earth
will not make thee sad."

2. O Lord, we are in blindness, and are quickly seduced by
vanity. If I look rightly within myself, never was injury done
unto me by any creature, and therefore I have nought whereof to
complain before Thee. But because I have many times and
grievously sinned against Thee, all creatures do justly take arms
against me. Therefore to me confusion and contempt are justly
due, but to Thee praise and honour and glory. And except I
dispose myself for this, namely, to be willing that every
creature should despise and desert me, and that I should be
esteemed altogether as nothing, I cannot be inwardly filled with
peace and strength, nor spiritually enlightened, nor fully united
to Thee.


That our peace is not to be placed in men

"My Son, if thou set thy peace on any person because thou hast
high opinion of him, and art familiar with him, thou shalt be
unstable and entangled. But if thou betake thyself to the
ever-living and abiding Truth, the desertion or death of a friend
shall not make thee sad. In Me ought the love of thy friend to
subsist, and for My sake is every one to be loved, whosoever he
be, who appeareth to thee good, and is very dear to thee in this
life. Without Me friendship hath no strength or endurance,
neither is that love true and pure, which I unite not. Thou
oughtest to be so dead to such affections of beloved friends,
that as far as in thee lieth, thou wouldst rather choose to be
without any companionship of men. The nearer a man approacheth
to God, the further he recedeth from all earthly solace. The
deeper also he descendeth into himself, and the viler he
appeareth in his own eyes, the higher he ascendeth towards God.

2. "But he who attributeth anything good to himself, hindereth
the grace of God from coming to him, because the grace of the
Holy Ghost ever seeketh the humble heart. If thou couldst make
thyself utterly nothing, and empty thyself of the love of every
creature, then should it be My part to overflow unto thee with
great grace. When thou settest thine eyes upon creatures, the
face of the Creator is withdrawn from thee. Learn in all things
to conquer thyself for thy Creator's sake, then shalt thou be
able to attain unto divine knowledge. How small soever anything
be, if it be loved and regarded inordinately, it holdeth us back
from the highest good, and corrupteth."


Against vain and worldly knowledge

"My Son, let not the fair and subtle sayings of men move thee.
For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.(1) Give ear
to My words, for they kindle the heart and enlighten the mind,
they bring contrition, and they supply manifold consolations.
Never read thou the word that thou mayest appear more learned or
wise; but study for the mortification of thy sins, for this will
be far more profitable for thee than the knowledge of many
difficult questions.

2. "When thou hast read and learned many things, thou must always
return to one first principle. I am He that teacheth man
knowledge,(2) and I give unto babes clearer knowledge than can
be taught by man. He to whom I speak will be quickly wise and
shall grow much in the spirit. Woe unto them who inquire into
many curious questions from men, and take little heed concerning
the way of My service. The time will come when Christ will
appear, the Master of masters, the Lord of the Angels, to hear
the lessons of all, that is to examine the consciences of each
one. And then will He search Jerusalem with candles,(3) and the
hidden things of darkness(4) shall be made manifest, and the
arguings of tongues shall be silent.

3. "I am He who in an instant lift up the humble spirit, to learn
more reasonings of the Eternal Truth, than if a man had studied
ten years in the schools. I teach without noise of words,
without confusion of opinions, without striving after honour,
without clash of arguments. I am He who teach men to despise
earthly things, to loathe things present, to seek things
heavenly, to enjoy things eternal, to flee honours, to endure
offences, to place all hope in Me, to desire nothing apart from
Me, and above all things to love Me ardently.

4. "For there was one, who by loving Me from the bottom of his
heart, learned divine things, and spake things that were
wonderful; he profited more by forsaking all things than by
studying subtleties. But to some I speak common things, to
others special; to some I appear gently in signs and figures, and
again to some I reveal mysteries in much light. The voice of
books is one, but it informeth not all alike; because I inwardly
am the Teacher of truth, the Searcher of the heart, the Discerner
of the thoughts, the Mover of actions, distributing to each man,
as I judge meet."

(1) 1 Corinthians iv. 20. (2) Psalm xciv. 10.
(3) Zephaniah i. 12. (4) 1 Corinthians iv. 5.


Of not troubling ourselves about outward things

"My Son, in many things it behoveth thee to be ignorant, and to
esteem thyself as one dead upon the earth, and as one to whom the
whole world is crucified. Many things also thou must pass by
with deaf ear, and must rather think upon those things which
belong unto thy peace. It is more profitable to turn away thine
eyes from those things that displease, and to leave each man to
his own opinion, than to give thyself to discourses of strife.
If thou stand well with God and hast His judgment in thy mind,
thou wilt verily easily bear to be as one conquered."

2. O Lord, to what have we come? Behold a temporal loss is
mourned over; for a trifling gain we labour and hurry; and
spiritual loss passeth away into forgetfulness, and we rarely
recover it. That which profiteth little or nothing is looked
after, and that which is altogether necessary is negligently
passed by; because the whole man slideth away to outward things,
and unless he quickly recovereth himself in outward things he
willingly lieth down.


That we must not believe everyone, and that we are prone to fall
in our words

Lord, be thou my help in trouble, for vain is the help of man.(1)
How often have I failed to find faithfulness, where I thought I
possessed it. How many times I have found it where I least
expected. Vain therefore is hope in men, but the salvation of
the just, O God, is in Thee. Blessed be thou, O Lord my God, in
all things which happen unto us. We are weak and unstable, we
are quickly deceived and quite changed.

2. Who is the man who is able to keep himself so warily and
circumspectly as not sometimes to come into some snare of
perplexity? But he who trusteth in Thee, O Lord, and seeketh
Thee with an unfeigned heart, doth not so easily slip. And if he
fall into any tribulation, howsoever he may be entangled, yet
very quickly he shall be delivered through Thee, or by Thee shall
be comforted, because Thou wilt not forsake him that trusteth in
Thee unto the end. A friend who continueth faithful in all the
distresses of his friend is rare to be found. Thou, O Lord, Thou
alone art most faithful in all things, and there is none other
like unto Thee.

3. Oh, how truly wise was that holy soul which said, "My mind is
steadfastly fixed, and it is grounded in Christ."(2) If thus it
were with me, the fear of man should not so easily tempt me, nor
the arrows of words move me. Who is sufficient to foresee all
things, who to guard beforehand against future ills? If even
things which are foreseen sometimes hurt us, what can things
which are not foreseen do, but grievously injure? But wherefore
have I not better provided for myself, miserable that I am? Why,
too, have I given such heed to others? But we are men, nor are
we other than frail men, even though by many we are reckoned and
called angels. Whom shall I trust, O Lord, whom shall I trust
but Thee? Thou art the Truth, and deceivest not, nor canst be
deceived. And on the other hand, Every man is a liar,(3) weak,
unstable and frail, especially in his words, so that one ought
scarcely ever to believe what seemeth to sound right on the face
of it.

4. With what wisdom hast thou warned us beforehand to beware of
men, and that a man's foes are they of his own household,(4) and
that we must not believe if one say unto us Lo here, or Lo
there.(5) I have been taught by my loss, and O that I may prove
more careful and not foolish hereby. "Be cautious," saith some
one: "be cautious, keep unto thyself what I tell thee." And
whilst I am silent and believe that it is hid with me, he himself
cannot keep silence concerning it, but straightway betrayeth me
and himself, and goeth his way. Protect me, O Lord, from such
mischief-making and reckless men; let me not fall into their
hands, nor ever do such things myself. Put a true and steadfast
word into my mouth, and remove a deceitful tongue far from me.
What I would not suffer, I ought by all means to beware of doing.

5. Oh, how good and peacemaking a thing it is to be silent
concerning others, and not carelessly to believe all reports, nor
to hand them on further; how good also to lay one's self open to
few, to seek ever to have Thee as the beholder of the heart; not
to be carried about with every wind of words, but to desire that
all things inward and outward be done according to the good
pleasure of Thy will! How safe for the preserving of heavenly
grace to fly from human approval, and not to long after the
things which seem to win admiration abroad, but to follow with
all earnestness those things which bring amendment of life and
heavenly fervour! How many have been injured by their virtue
being made known and too hastily praised. How truly profitable
hath been grace preserved in silence in this frail life, which,
as we are told, is all temptation and warfare.

(1) Psalm lx. 11. (2) St. Agatha.
(3) Psalm cxvi. 11; Romans iii. 4. (4) Matthew x. 17, 36.
(5) Matthew xxiv. 23.


Of having confidence in God when evil words are cast at us

"My Son, stand fast and believe in Me. For what are words but
words? They fly through the air, but they bruise no stone. If
thou are guilty, think how thou wouldst gladly amend thyself; if
thou knowest nothing against thyself, consider that thou wilt
gladly bear this for God's sake. It is little enough that thou
sometimes hast to bear hard words, for thou art not yet able to
bear hard blows. And wherefore do such trivial matters go to
thine heart, except that thou art yet carnal, and regardest men
more than thou oughtest? For because thou fearest to be
despised, thou art unwilling to be reproved for thy faults, and
seekest paltry shelters of excuses.

2. "But look better into thyself, and thou shalt know that the
world is still alive in thee, and the vain love of pleasing men.
For when thou fleest away from being abased and confounded for
thy faults, it is plain that thou art neither truly humble nor
truly dead to the world, and that the world is not crucified to
thee. But hearken to My word, and thou shalt not care for ten
thousand words of men. Behold, if all things could be said
against thee which the utmost malice could invent, what should it
hurt thee if thou wert altogether to let it go, and make no more
account of it than of a mote? Could it pluck out a single hair
of thy head?

3. "But he that hath no heart within him, and hath not God before
his eyes, is easily moved by a word of reproach; but he who
trusteth in Me, and seeketh not to abide by his own judgment,
shall be free from the fear of men. For I am the Judge and the
Discerner of all secrets; I know how the thing hath been done; I
know both the injurer and the bearer. From Me went forth that
word, by My permission this hath happened, that the thoughts of
many hearts may be revealed.(1) I shall judge the guilty and the
innocent; but beforehand I have willed to try them both by a
secret judgment.

4. "The testimony of men often deceiveth. My judgment is true;
it will stand, and it shall not be overturned. It commonly lieth
hid, and only to few in certain cases is it made known; yet it
never erreth, nor can err, although it seem not right to the eyes
of foolish men. To Me, therefore, must men have recourse in all
judgment, and must not lean to their opinion. For there shall no
evil happen to the just,(2) whatsoever may be sent to him by God.
Even though some unjust charge be brought against him, he will
care little; nor, again, will he exult above measure, if through
others he be clearly vindicated. For he considereth that I am He
who try the hearts and reins,(3) who judge not outwardly and
according to human appearance; for often in Mine eyes that is
found blameworthy which in the judgment of men is held worthy of

5. O Lord God, O Judge, just, strong, and patient, who knowest
the frailty and sinfulness of men, be Thou my strength and my
whole confidence; for my own conscience sufficeth me not. Thou
knowest what I know not; and therefore ought I under all rebuke
to humble myself, and to bear it meekly. Therefore mercifully
forgive me as often as I have not done this, and grant me the
next time the grace of greater endurance. For better unto me is
Thine abundant pity for the attainment of Thy pardon, than the
righteousness which I believe myself to have for defence against
my conscience, which lieth wait against me. Although I know
nothing against myself, yet I am not hereby justified,(4) because
if Thy mercy were removed away, in Thy sight should no man
living be justified.(5)

(1) Luke ii. 35. (2) Proverbs xii. 21. (3) Psalm vii. 9.
(4) 1 Corinthians iv. 4. (5) Psalm cxliii. 2.


That all troubles are to be endured for the sake of eternal life

"My Son, let not the labours which thou hast undertaken for Me
break thee down, nor let tribulations cast thee down in any wise,
but let my promise strengthen and comfort thee in every event. I
am sufficient to reward thee above all measure and extent. Not
long shalt thou labour here, nor always be weighed down with
sorrows. Wait yet a little while, and thou shalt see a speedy
end of thine evils. An hour shall come when all labour and
confusion shall cease. Little and short is all that passeth away
with time.

2. "Do earnestly what thou dost; labour faithfully in My
vineyard; I will be thy reward. Write, read, sing, weep, be
silent, pray, endure adversities manfully; eternal life is worthy
of all these conflicts, yea, and of greater. Peace shall come in
one day which is known to the Lord; which shall be neither day
nor night,(1) but light eternal, infinite clearness, steadfast
peace, and undisturbed rest. Thou shalt not say then, Who shall
deliver me from the body of this death?(2) nor cry out, Woe is
me, for my sojourning is prolonged,(3) because death will be
utterly destroyed, and there shall be salvation which can never
fail, no more anxiety, happy delight, sweet and noble society.

3. "Oh, if thou sawest the unfading crowns of the Saints in
heaven, and with what great glory they now rejoice, who aforetime
were reckoned by this world contemptibly and as it were unworthy
of life, truly thou wouldst immediately humble thyself even to
the earth, and wouldst desire rather to be in subjection to all,
than to have authority over one; nor wouldst thou long for
pleasant days of this life, but wouldst more rejoice to be
afflicted for God's sake, and wouldst esteem it gain to be
counted for nought amongst men.

4. "Oh, if these things were sweet to thy taste, and moved thee
to the bottom of thine heart, how shouldst thou dare even once to
complain? Are not all laborious things to be endured for the
sake of eternal life? It is no small thing, the losing or
gaining the Kingdom of God. Lift up therefore thy face to
heaven. Behold, I and all My Saints with Me, who in this world
had a hard conflict, now rejoice, are now comforted, are now
secure, are now at peace, and shall remain with Me evermore in
the Kingdom of My Father."

(1) Zechariah xiv. 7. (2) Romans vii. 24. (3) Psalm cxx.


Of the day of eternity and of the straitnesses of this life

Oh most blessed mansion of the City which is above! Oh most
clear day of eternity which the night obscureth not, but the
Supreme Truth ever enlighteneth! Day always joyful, always
secure and never changing its state into those which are
contrary. Oh would that this day might shine forth, and that all
these temporal things would come to an end. It shineth indeed
upon the Saints, glowing with unending brightness, but only from
afar and through a glass, upon those who are pilgrims on the

2. The citizens of heaven know how glorious that day is; the
exiled sons of Eve groan, because this is bitter and wearisome.
The days of this life are few and evil, full of sorrows and
straits, where man is defiled with many sins, ensnared with many
passions, bound fast with many fears, wearied with many cares,
distracted with many questionings, entangled with many vanities,
compassed about with many errors, worn away with many labours,
weighed down with temptations, enervated by pleasures, tormented
by poverty.

3. Oh when shall there be an end of these evils? When shall I be
delivered from the wretched slavery of my sins? When shall I be
mindful, O Lord, of Thee alone? When shall I rejoice in Thee to
the full? When shall I be in true liberty without any
impediment, without any burden on mind or body? When shall there
be solid peace, peace immovable and secure, peace within and
without, peace firm on every side? Blessed Jesus, when shall I
stand to behold Thee? When shall I gaze upon the glory of Thy
kingdom? When shalt Thou be to me all in all? Oh when shall I
be with Thee in Thy Kingdom which Thou hast prepared from the
foundation of the world for them that love Thee? I am left
destitute, an exile in a hostile land, where are daily wars and
grievous misfortunes.

4. Console my exile, mitigate my sorrow, for towards Thee all my
desire longeth. For all is to me a burden, whatsoever this world
offereth for consolation. I yearn to enjoy Thee intimately, but
I cannot attain unto it. I long to cleave to heavenly things,
but temporal things and unmortified passions press me down. In
my mind I would be above all things, but in my flesh I am
unwillingly compelled to be beneath them. So, wretched man that
I am, I fight with myself, and am made grievous even unto myself,
while the spirit seeketh to be above and the flesh to be beneath.

5. Oh how I suffer inwardly, while with the mind I discourse on
heavenly things, and presently a crowd of carnal things rusheth
upon me whilst I pray. My God, be not Thou far from me, nor
depart in wrath from Thy servant. Cast forth Thy lightning and
scatter them; send out Thine arrows,(1) and let all delusions of
my enemy be confounded. Recall my senses unto Thyself, cause me
to forget all worldly things; grant me quickly to cast away and
despise the imaginations of sin. Succour me, O Eternal Truth,
that no vanity may move me. Come unto me, O Heavenly Sweetness,
and let all impurity flee from before Thy face. Pardon me also,
and of Thy mercy deal gently with me, whensoever in prayer I
think on anything besides Thee; for truly I confess that I am
wont to be continually distracted. For often and often, where in
the body I stand or sit, there I myself am not; but rather am I
there, whither I am borne by my thoughts. Where my thought is,
there am I; and there commonly is my thought where that which I
love is. That readily occurreth to me, which naturally
delighteth, or pleaseth through custom.

6. Wherefore Thou, who art the Truth, hast plainly said, Where
your treasure is, there will your heart be also.(2) If I love
heaven, I gladly meditate on heavenly things. If I love the
world, I rejoice in the delights of the world, and am made sorry
by its adversities. If I love the flesh, I am continually
imagining the things which belong to the flesh; if I love the
spirit, I am delighted by meditating on spiritual things. For
whatsoever things I love, on these I readily converse and listen,
and carry home with me the images of them. But blessed is that
man who for Thy sake, O Lord, is willing to part from all
creatures; who doth violence to his fleshly nature and crucifieth
the lusts of the flesh by the fervour of his spirit, so that with
serene conscience he may offer unto Thee a pure prayer, and be
made worthy to enter into the angelic choirs, having shut out
from himself, both outwardly and inwardly, all worldly things.

(1) Psalm lxxi. 12. (2) Matthew vi. 21.


Of the desire after eternal life, and how great blessings are
promised to those who strive

"My Son, when thou feelest the desire of eternal happiness to be
poured into thee from above, and longest to depart from the
tabernacle of this body, that thou mayest contemplate My glory
without shadow of turning, enlarge thine heart, and take in this
holy inspiration with all thy desire. Give most hearty thanks to
the Supreme Goodness, who dealeth with thee so graciously,
visiteth thee so lovingly, stirreth thee up so fervently, raiseth
thee so powerfully, lest thou sink down through thine own weight,
to earthly things. For not by thine own meditating or striving
dost thou receive this gift, but by the sole gracious
condescension of Supreme Grace and Divine regard; to the end that
thou mayest make progress in virtue and in more humility, and
prepare thyself for future conflicts, and cleave unto Me with all
the affection of thy heart, and strive to serve Me with fervent

2. "My Son, often the fire burneth, but the flame ascendeth not
without smoke. So also the desires of some men burn towards
heavenly things, and yet they are not free from the temptation of
carnal affection. Thus therefore they are not acting with an
altogether simple desire for God's glory when they pray to Him so
earnestly. Such, too, is oftentimes thy desire, when thou hast
imagined it to be so earnest. For that is not pure and perfect
which is tainted with thine own self-seeking.

3. "Seek thou not what is pleasant and advantageous to thyself,
but what is acceptable and honourable unto Me; for if thou
judgest rightly, thou must choose and follow after My appointment
rather than thine own desire; yea, rather than anything that can
be desired. I know thy desire, and I have heard thy many
groanings. Already thou longest to be in the glorious liberty of
the children of God; already the eternal home delighteth thee,
and the heavenly country full of joy; but the hour is not yet
come; there remaineth still another season, even a season of
warfare, a season of labour and probation. Thou desirest to be
filled with the Chief Good, but thou canst not attain it
immediately. I AM that Good; wait for Me, until the Kingdom of
God shall come.

4. "Thou must still be tried upon earth, and be exercised in many
things. Consolation shall from time to time be given thee, but
abundant satisfying shall not be granted. Be strong therefore,
and be thou brave both in working and in suffering things which
are against thy nature. Thou must put on the new man, and be
changed into another man. Thou must often do what thou wouldst
not; and thou must leave undone what thou wouldst do. What
pleaseth others shall have good success, what pleaseth thee shall
have no prosperity. What others say shall be listened to; what
thou sayest shall receive no heed. Others shall ask and receive;
thou shalt ask and not obtain. Others shall be great in the
report of men, but about thee shall nothing be spoken. To others
this or that shall be entrusted; thou shalt be judged useful for

5. "For this cause nature shall sometimes be filled with sadness;
and it is a great thing if thou bear it silently. In this and
many like things the faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be
tried, how far he is able to deny himself and bring himself into
subjection in all things. Scarcely is there anything in which
thou hast need to mortify thyself so much as in seeing things
which are adverse to thy will; especially when things are
commanded thee to be done which seem to thee inexpedient or of
little use to thee. And because thou darest not resist a higher
power, being under authority, therefore it seemeth hard for thee
to shape thy course according to the nod of another, and to
forego thine own opinion.

6. "But consider, My Son, the fruit of these labours, the swift
end, and the reward exceeding great; and thou shalt find it no
pain to bear them then, but rather the strongest solace of thy
patience. For even in exchange for this trifling desire which
thou hast readily forsaken, thou shalt always have thy will in
Heaven. There verily thou shalt find all that thou wouldst, all
that thou canst long for. There thou shalt have all good within
thy power without the fear of losing it. There thy will, ever at
one with Mine, shall desire nothing outward, nothing for itself.
There no man shall withstand thee, none shall complain of thee,
none shall hinder, nothing shall stand in thy path; but all
things desired by thee shall be present together, and shall
refresh thy whole affection, and fill it up even to the brim.
There I will glory for the scorn suffered here, the garment of
praise for sorrow, and for the lowest place a throne in the
Kingdom, for ever. There shall appear the fruit of obedience,
the labour of repentance shall rejoice, and humble subjection
shall be crowned gloriously.

7. "Now therefore bow thyself humbly under the hands of all men;
nor let it trouble thee who said this or who ordered that; but
take special heed that whether thy superior, thy inferior, or thy
equal, require anything from thee, or even show a desire for it;
take it all in good part, and study with a good will to fulfil
the desire. Let one seek this, another that; let this man glory
in this, and that man in that, and be praised a thousand thousand
times, but rejoice thou only in the contempt of thyself, and in
Mine own good pleasure and glory. This is what thou art to long
for, even that whether by life or by death God may be ever
magnified in thee."(1)

(1) Philippians i. 20.


How a desolate man ought to commit himself into the hands of God

O Lord, Holy Father, be Thou blessed now and evermore; because as
Thou wilt so it is done, and what Thou doest is good. Let Thy
servant rejoice in Thee, not in himself, nor in any other;
because Thou alone art the true joy, Thou art my hope and my
crown, Thou art my joy and my honour, O Lord. What hath Thy
servant, which he received not from Thee, even without merit of
his own? Thine are all things which Thou hast given, and which
Thou hast made. I am poor and in misery even from my youth
up,(1) and my soul is sorrowful unto tears, sometimes also it is
disquieted within itself, because of the sufferings which are
coming upon it.

2. I long after the joy of peace; for the peace of Thy children
do I beseech, for in the light of Thy comfort they are fed by
Thee. If Thou give peace, if Thou pour into me holy joy, the
soul of Thy servant shall be full of melody, and devout in Thy
praise. But if Thou withdraw Thyself as too often Thou art wont,
he will not be able to run in the way of Thy commandments, but
rather he will smite his breast and will bow his knees; because
it is not with him as yesterday and the day before, when Thy
candle shined upon his head,(2) and he walked under the shadow of
Thy wings,(3) from the temptations which beset him.

3. O Father, righteous and ever to be praised, the hour cometh
when Thy servant is to be proved. O beloved Father, it is well
that in this hour Thy servant suffer somewhat for Thy sake. O
Father, evermore to be adored, as the hour cometh which Thou
foreknewest from everlasting, when for a little while Thy servant
should outwardly bow down, but always live inwardly with Thee;
when for a little while he should be little regarded, humbled,
and fail in the eyes of men; should be wasted with sufferings and
weaknesses, to rise again with Thee in the dawn of the new light,
and be glorified in the heavenly places. O Holy Father, thou
hast ordained it so, and so hast willed it; and that is done
which Thou Thyself hast commanded.

4. For this is Thy favour to Thy friend, that he should suffer
and be troubled in the world for Thy love's sake, how often
soever, and by whomsoever and whosoever Thou hast suffered it to
be done. Without Thy counsel and providence, and without cause,
nothing cometh to pass on the earth. It is good for me, Lord,
that I had been in trouble, that I may learn Thy statutes,(4)
and may cast away all pride of heart and presumption. It is
profitable for me that confusion hath covered my face, that I may
seek to Thee for consolation rather than unto men. By this also
I have learned to dread Thine unsearchable judgment, who
afflictest the just with the wicked, but not without equity and

5. Thanks be unto Thee, because Thou hast not spared my sins, but
hast beaten me with stripes of love, inflicting pains, and
sending troubles upon me without and within. There is none who
can console me, of all things which are under heaven, but Thou
only, O Lord my God, Thou heavenly Physician of souls, who dost
scourge and hast mercy, who leadest down to hell and bringest up
again.(5) Thy discipline over me, and Thy rod itself shall teach

6. Behold, O beloved Father, I am in Thy hands, I bow myself
under the rod of Thy correction. Smite my back and my neck that
I may bend my crookedness to Thy will. Make me a pious and lowly
disciple, as Thou wert wont to be kind, that I may walk according
to every nod of Thine. To Thee I commend myself and all that I
have for correction; better is it to be punished here than
hereafter. Thou knowest all things and each of them; and nothing
remaineth hid from Thee in man's conscience. Before they are,
thou knowest that they will be, and Thou needest not that any man
teach Thee or admonish Thee concerning the things which are done
upon the earth. Thou knowest what is expedient for my profit,
and how greatly trouble serveth unto the scrubbing off the rust
of sin. Do with me according to Thy desired good pleasure, and
despise not my life which is full of sin, known to none so
entirely and fully as to Thee alone.

7. Grant me, O Lord, to know that which ought to be known; to
love that which ought to be loved; to praise that which pleaseth
Thee most, to esteem that which is precious in Thy sight, to
blame that which is vile in Thine eyes. Suffer me not to judge
according to the sight of bodily eyes, nor to give sentence
according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men; but to
discern in true judgment between visible and spiritual things,
and above all things to be ever seeking after the will of Thy
good pleasure.

8. Oftentimes the senses of men are deceived in judging; the
lovers of the world also are deceived in that they love only
visible things. What is a man better because by man he is
reckoned very great? The deceiver deceiveth the deceiver, the
vain man the vain, the blind man the blind, the weak man the
weak, when they exalt one another; and in truth they rather put
to shame, while they foolishly praise. For as humble St. Francis
saith, "What each one is in Thine eyes, so much he is, and no

(1) Psalm lxxxviii. 15. (2) Job xxix. 3. (3) Psalm xvii. 8.
(4) Psalm cxix. 71. (5) Job xiii. 2.


That we must give ourselves to humble works when we are unequal
to those that are lofty

"My Son, thou art not always able to continue in very fervent
desire after virtues, nor to stand fast in the loftier region of
contemplation; but thou must of necessity sometimes descend to
lower things because of thine original corruption, and bear about
the burden of corruptible life, though unwillingly and with
weariness. So long as thou wearest a mortal body, thou shalt
feel weariness and heaviness of heart. Therefore thou oughtest
to groan often in the flesh because of the burden of the flesh,
inasmuch as thou canst not give thyself to spiritual studies and
divine contemplation unceasingly.

2. "At such a time it is expedient for thee to flee to humble and
external works, and to renew thyself with good actions; to wait
for My coming and heavenly visitation with sure confidence; to
bear thy exile and drought of mind with patience, until thou be
visited by Me again, and be freed from all anxieties. For I will
cause thee to forget thy labours, and altogether to enjoy eternal
peace. I will spread open before thee the pleasant pastures of the
Scriptures, that with enlarged heart thou mayest begin to run in
the way of My commandments. And thou shalt say, 'The sufferings
of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us.'"(1)

(1) Romans viii. 18.


That a man ought not to reckon himself worthy of consolation, but
more worthy of chastisement

O Lord, I am not worthy of Thy consolation, nor of any spiritual
visitation; and therefore Thou dealest justly with me, when Thou
leavest me poor and desolate. For if I were able to pour forth
tears like the sea, still should I not be worthy of Thy
consolation. Therefore am I nothing worthy save to be scourged
and punished, because I have grievously and many a time offended
Thee, and in many things have greatly sinned. Therefore, true
account being taken, I am not worthy even of the least of Thy
consolations. But Thou, gracious and merciful God, who willest
not that Thy works should perish, to show forth the riches of Thy
mercy upon the vessels of mercy,(1) vouchsafest even beyond all
his own deserving, to comfort Thy servant above the measure of
mankind. For Thy consolations are not like unto the discoursings
of men.

2. What have I done, O Lord, that Thou shouldst bestow any
heavenly comfort upon me? I remember not that I have done any
good, but have been ever prone to sin and slow to amendment. It
is true and I cannot deny it. If I should say otherwise, Thou
wouldst rise up against me, and there would be none to defend
me. What have I deserved for my sins but hell and everlasting
fire? In very truth I confess that I am worthy of all scorn and
contempt, nor is it fit that I should be remembered among Thy
faithful servants. And although I be unwilling to hear this,
nevertheless I will for the Truth's sake, accuse myself of my
sins, that the more readily I may prevail to be accounted worthy
of Thy mercy.

3. What shall I say, guilty that I am and filled with confusion?
I have no mouth to utter, unless it be this word alone, "I have
sinned, Lord, I have sinned; have mercy upon me, forgive me."
Let me alone, that I may take comfort a little before I go whence
I shall not return even to the land of darkness and the shadow of
death.(2) What dost Thou so much require of a guilty and
miserable sinner, as that he be contrite, and humble himself for
his sins? In true contrition and humiliation of heart is
begotten the hope of pardon, the troubled conscience is
reconciled, lost grace is recovered, a man is preserved from the
wrath to come, and God and the penitent soul hasten to meet each
other with a holy kiss.(3)

4. The humble contrition of sinners is an acceptable sacrifice
unto Thee, O Lord, sending forth a smell sweeter far in Thy sight
than the incense. This also is that pleasant ointment which Thou
wouldst have poured upon Thy sacred feet, for a broken and
contrite heart Thou hast never despised.(4) There is the place
of refuge from the wrathful countenance of the enemy. There is
amended and washed away whatsoever evil hath elsewhere been

(1) Romans ix. 23. (2) Job x. 20, 21. (3) Luke xv. 20.
(4) Psalm li. 17.


That the Grace of God doth not join itself to those who mind
earthly things

"My Son, precious is My grace, it suffereth not itself to be
joined with outward things, nor with earthly consolations.
Therefore thou oughtest to cast away all things which hinder
grace, if thou longest to receive the inpouring thereof. Seek a
secret place for thyself, love to dwell alone with thyself,
desire the conversation of no one; but rather pour out thy devout
prayer to God, that thou mayest possess a contrite mind and a
pure conscience. Count the whole world as nought; seek to be
alone with God before all outward things. For thou canst not be
alone with Me, and at the same time be delighted with transitory
things. Thou oughtest to be separated from thy acquaintances and
dear friends, and keep thy mind free from all worldly comfort.
So the blessed Apostle Peter beseecheth, that Christ's faithful
ones bear themselves in this world as strangers and pilgrims.(1)

2. "Oh how great a confidence shall there be to the dying man
whom no affection to anything detaineth in the world? But to
have a heart so separated from all things, a sickly soul doth not
yet comprehend, nor doth the carnal man know the liberty of the
spiritual man. But if indeed he desire to be spiritually minded,
he must renounce both those who are far off, and those who are
near, and to beware of no man more than himself. If thou
perfectly conquer thyself, very easily shalt thou subdue all
things besides. Perfect victory is the triumph over oneself.
For whoso keepeth himself in subjection, in such manner that the
sensual affections obey the reason, and the reason in all things
obeyeth Me, he truly is conqueror of himself, and lord of the

3. "If thou desire to climb to this height, thou oughtest to
start bravely, and to lay the axe to the root, to the end that
thou mayest pull up and destroy the hidden inordinate inclination
towards thyself, and towards all selfish and earthly good. From
this sin, that a man loveth himself too inordinately, almost
everything hangeth which needeth to be utterly overcome: when
that evil is conquered and put under foot, there shall be great
peace and tranquillity continually. But because few strive
earnestly to die perfectly to themselves, and do not heartily go
forth from themselves, therefore do they remain entangled in
themselves, and cannot be raised in spirit above themselves. But
he who desireth to walk at liberty with Me, must of necessity
mortify all his evil and inordinate affections, and must cling to
no creature with selfish love."

(1) 1 Peter ii. 11.


Of the diverse motions of Nature and of Grace

"My Son, pay diligent heed to the motions of Nature and of Grace,
because they move in a very contrary and subtle manner, and are
hardly distinguished save by a spiritual and inwardly enlightened
man. All men indeed seek good, and make pretence of something
good in all that they say or do; and thus under the appearance of
good many are deceived.

2. "Nature is deceitful and draweth away, ensnareth, and
deceiveth many, and always hath self for her end; but Grace
walketh in simplicity and turneth away from every appearance of
evil, maketh no false pretences, and doeth all entirely for the
sake of God, in whom also she finally resteth.

3. "Nature is very unwilling to die, and to be pressed down, and
to be overcome, and to be in subjection, and to bear the yoke
readily; but Grace studieth self-mortification, resisteth
sensuality, seeketh to be subdued, longeth to be conquered, and
willeth not to use her own liberty. She loveth to be held by
discipline, and not to have authority over any, but always to
live, to remain, to have her being under God, and for God's sake
is ready to be humbly subject to every ordinance of man.

4. "Nature laboureth for her own advantage, and considereth what
profit she may gain from another; but Grace considereth more, not
what may be useful and convenient to self, but what may be
profitable to the many.

5. "Nature willingly receiveth honour and reverence; but Grace
faithfully ascribeth all honour and glory to God.

6. "Nature feareth confusion and contempt, but Grace rejoiceth to
suffer shame for the name of Jesus.

7. "Nature loveth ease and bodily quiet; Grace cannot be
unemployed, but gladly embraceth labour.

8. "Nature seeketh to possess things curious and attractive, and
abhorreth those which are rough and cheap; Grace is delighted
with things simple and humble, despiseth not those which are
rough, nor refuseth to be clothed with old garments.

9. "Nature hath regard to things temporal, rejoiceth in earthly
lucre, is made sad by loss, vexed by any little injurious word;
but Grace reacheth after things eternal, cleaveth not to those
which are temporal, is not perturbed by losses, nor embittered by
any hard words, because she hath placed her treasure and joy in
heaven where nought perisheth.

10. "Nature is covetous, and receiveth more willingly than she
giveth, loveth things that are personal and private to herself;
while Grace is kind and generous, avoideth selfishness, is
contented with a little, believeth that it is more blessed to
give than to receive.

11. "Nature inclineth thee to created things, to thine own flesh,
to vanities and dissipation; but Grace draweth to God and to
virtues, renounceth creatures, fleeth from the world, hateth the
desires of the flesh, restraineth vagaries, blusheth to be seen
in public.

12. "Nature is glad to receive some outward solace in which the
senses may have delight; but Grace seeketh to be comforted in God
alone, and to have delight in the chief good above all visible

13. "Nature doeth everything for her own gain and profit, can do
nothing as a free favour, but hopeth to attain something as good
or better, or some praise or favour for her benefits; and she
loveth that her own deeds and gifts should be highly valued; but
Grace seeketh nothing temporal, nor requireth any other gift of
reward than God alone; neither longeth she for more of temporal
necessities than such as may suffice for the attaining of eternal

14. "Nature rejoiceth in many friends and kinsfolk, she boasteth
of noble place and noble birth, she smileth on the powerful,
flattereth the rich, applaudeth those who are like herself; but
Grace loveth even her enemies, and is not lifted up by the
multitude of friends, setteth no store upon high place or high
birth, unless there be greater virtue therewith; favoureth the
poor man more than the rich, hath more sympathy with the innocent
than with the powerful; rejoiceth with the truthful, not with the
liar; always exhorteth the good to strive after better gifts of
grace, and to become by holiness like unto the Son of God.

15. "Nature quickly complaineth of poverty and of trouble; Grace
beareth want with constancy.

16. "Nature looketh upon all things in reference to herself;
striveth and argueth for self; but Grace bringeth back all things
to God from whom they came at the beginning; ascribeth no good to
herself nor arrogantly presumeth; is not contentious, nor
preferreth her own opinion to others, but in every sense and
understanding submitteth herself to the Eternal wisdom and the
Divine judgment.

17. "Nature is eager to know secrets and to hear new things; she
loveth to appear abroad, and to make experience of many things
through the senses; she desireth to be acknowledged and to do
those things which win praise and admiration; but Grace careth
not to gather up new or curious things, because all this
springeth from the old corruption, whereas there is nothing new
or lasting upon earth. So she teacheth to restrain the senses, to
shun vain complacency and ostentation, to hide humbly those
things which merit praise and real admiration, and from
everything and in all knowledge to seek after useful fruit, and
the praise and honour of God. She desireth not to receive praise
for herself or her own, but longeth that God be blessed in all
His gifts, who out of unmingled love bestoweth all things."

18. This Grace is a supernatural light, and a certain special
gift of God, and the proper mark of the elect, and the pledge of
eternal salvation; it exalteth a man from earthly things to love
those that are heavenly; and it maketh the carnal man spiritual.
So far therefore as Nature is utterly pressed down and overcome,
so far is greater Grace bestowed and the inner man is daily
created anew by fresh visitations, after the image of God.


Of the corruption of Nature and the efficacy of Divine Grace

O Lord my God, who hast created me after thine own image and
similitude, grant me this grace, which Thou hast shown to be so
great and so necessary for salvation, that I may conquer my
wicked nature, which draweth me to sin and to perdition. For I
feel in my flesh the law of sin, contradicting the law of my
mind, and bringing me into captivity to the obedience of
sensuality in many things; nor can I resist its passions, unless
Thy most holy grace assist me, fervently poured into my heart.

2. There is need of Thy grace, yea, and of a great measure
thereof, that my nature may be conquered, which hath alway been
prone to evil from my youth. For being fallen through the first
man Adam, and corrupted through sin, the punishment of this
stain descended upon all men; so that Nature itself, which was
framed good and right by Thee, is now used to express the vice
and infirmity of corrupted Nature; because its motion left unto
itself draweth men away to evil and to lower things. For the
little power which remaineth is as it were one spark lying hid in
the ashes. This is Natural reason itself, encompassed with thick
clouds, having yet a discernment of good and evil, a distinction
of the true and the false, though it be powerless to fulfil all
that it approveth, and possess not yet the full light of truth,
nor healthfulness of its affections.

3. Hence it is, O my God, that I delight in Thy law after the
inward man,(1) knowing that Thy commandment is holy and just and
good; reproving also all evil, and the sin that is to be avoided:
yet with the flesh I serve the law of sin, whilst I obey
sensuality rather than reason. Hence it is that to will to do
good is present with me, but how to perform it I find not.(2)
Hence I ofttimes purpose many good things; but because grace is
lacking to help mine infirmities, I fall back before a little
resistance and fail. Hence it cometh to pass that I recognize
the way of perfectness, and see very clearly what things I ought
to do; but pressed down by the weight of my own corruption, I
rise not to the things which are more perfect.

4. Oh how entirely necessary is Thy grace to me, O Lord, for a
good beginning, for progress, and for bringing to perfection.
For without it I can do nothing, but I can do all things through
Thy grace which strengtheneth me.(3) O truly heavenly grace,
without which our own merits are nought, and no gifts of Nature
at all are to be esteemed. Arts, riches, beauty, strength, wit,
eloquence, they all avail nothing before Thee, O Lord, without
Thy grace. For the gifts of Nature belong to good and evil
alike; but the proper gift of the elect is grace--that is, love--
and they who bear the mark thereof are held worthy of everlasting
life. So mighty is this grace, that without it neither the gift
of prophecy nor the working of miracles, nor any speculation,
howsoever lofty, is of any value at all. But neither faith, nor
hope, nor any other virtue is accepted with Thee without love and

5. O most blessed grace that makest the poor in spirit rich in
virtues, and renderest him who is rich in many things humble in
spirit, come Thou, descend upon me, fill me early with Thy
consolation, lest my soul fail through weariness and drought of
mind. I beseech thee, O Lord, that I may find grace in Thy
sight, for Thy grace is sufficient for me,(4) when I obtain not
those things which Nature longeth for. If I be tempted and vexed
with many tribulations, I will fear no evil, while Thy grace
remaineth with me. This alone is my strength, this bringeth me
counsel and help. It is more powerful than all enemies, and
wiser than all the wise men in the world.

6. It is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the
light of the heart, the solace of anxiety, the banisher of
sorrow, the deliverer from fear, the nurse of devotion, the
drawer forth of tears. What am I without it, save a dry tree, a
useless branch, worthy to be cast away! "Let Thy grace,
therefore, O Lord, always prevent and follow me, and make me
continually given to all good works, through Jesus Christ, Thy
Son. Amen."

(1) Romans vii. 12, 22. 25. (2) Romans vii. 18. (3) Philippians iv. 13.
(4) 2 Corinthians xii. 9.


That we ought to deny ourselves, and to imitate Christ by means
of the Cross

My Son, so far as thou art able to go out of thyself so far shalt
thou be able to enter into Me. As to desire no outward thing
worketh internal peace, so the forsaking of self inwardly joineth
unto God. I will that thou learn perfect self-denial, living in
My will without contradiction or complaint. Follow Me: I am the
way, the truth, and the life.(1) Without the way thou canst not
go, without the truth thou canst not know, without the life thou
canst not live. I am the Way which thou oughtest to follow; the
Truth which thou oughtest to believe; the Life which thou oughtest
to hope for. I am the Way unchangeable; the Truth infallible;
the Life everlasting. I am the Way altogether straight, the
Truth supreme, the true Life, the blessed Life, the uncreated
Life. If thou remain in My way thou shalt know the Truth, and
the truth shall make thee free,(2) and thou shalt lay hold on
eternal life.

2. "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.(3) If
thou wilt know the truth, believe in Me. If thou wilt be
perfect, sell all that thou hast. If thou wilt be My disciple,
deny thyself. If thou wouldst possess the blessed life, despise
the life which now is. If thou wilt be exalted in heaven, humble
thyself in the world. If thou wilt reign with Me, bear the cross
with Me; for only the servants of the cross find the way of
blessedness and of true light."

3. O Lord Jesu, forasmuch as Thy life was straitened and despised
by the world, grant unto me to imitate Thee in despising the
world, for the servant is not greater than his lord, nor the
disciple above his master.(4) Let Thy servant be exercised in
Thy life, because there is my salvation and true holiness.
Whatsoever I read or hear besides it, it refresheth me not, nor
giveth me delight.

4. "My son, because thou knowest these things and hast read them
all, blessed shalt thou be if thou doest them. He who hath My
commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me, and I
will love him, and will manifest Myself to him,(5) and I will
make him to sit down with Me in My Father's Kingdom."

5. O Lord Jesu, as Thou hast said and promised, even so let it be
unto me, and grant me to prove worthy. I have received the cross
at Thy hand; I have carried it, and will carry it even unto
death, as Thou hast laid it upon me. Truly the life of a truly
devoted servant is a cross, but it leadeth to paradise. I have
begun; I may not return back nor leave it.

6. Come, my brothers, let us together go forward. Jesus shall be
with us. For Jesus' sake have we taken up this cross, for Jesus'
sake let us persevere in the cross. He will be our helper, who
was our Captain and Forerunner. Behold our King entereth in
before us, and He will fight for us. Let us follow bravely, let
no man fear terrors; let us be prepared to die bravely in battle,
and let us not so stain our honour,(6) as to fly from the cross.

(1) John xiv. 6. (2) John viii. 32. (3) Matthew xix. 17, 21.
(4) Matthew x. 24. (5) John xiv. 21. (6) 1 Mac. ix. 10.


That a man must not be too much cast down when he falleth into
some faults

"My Son, patience and humility in adversities are more pleasing
to Me than much comfort and devotion in prosperity. Why doth a
little thing spoken against thee make thee sad? If it had been
more, thou still oughtest not to be moved. But now suffer it to
go by; it is not the first, it is not new, and it will not be the
last, if thou live long. Thou art brave enough, so long as no
adversity meeteth thee. Thou givest good counsel also, and
knowest how to strengthen others with thy words; but when
tribulation suddenly knocketh at thine own door, thy counsel and
strength fail. Consider thy great frailty, which thou dost so
often experience in trifling matters nevertheless, for thy soul's
health these things are done when they and such like happen unto

2. "Put them away from thy heart as well as thou canst, and if
tribulation hath touched thee, yet let it not cast thee down nor
entangle thee long. At the least, bear patiently, if thou canst
not joyfully. And although thou be very unwilling to hear it,
and feel indignation, yet check thyself, and suffer no unadvised
word to come forth from thy lips, whereby the little ones may be
offended. Soon the storm which hath been raised shall be
stilled, and inward grief shall be sweetened by returning grace.
I yet live, saith the Lord, ready to help thee, and to give thee
more than wonted consolation if thou put thy trust in Me, and
call devoutly upon Me.

3. "Be thou more calm of spirit, and gird thyself for greater
endurance. All is not frustrated, though thou find thyself very
often afflicted or grievously tempted. Thou art man, not God;
thou art flesh, not an angel. How shouldst thou be able to
remain alway in the same state of virtue, when an angel in heaven
fell, and the first man in paradise? I am He who lifteth up the
mourners to deliverance, and those who know their own infirmity I
raise up to my own nature."

4. O Lord, blessed be Thy word, sweeter to my mouth than honey
and the honeycomb. What should I do in my so great tribulations
and anxieties, unless Thou didst comfort me with Thy holy words?
If only I may attain unto the haven of salvation, what matter is
it what things or how many I suffer? Give me a good end, give me
a happy passage out of this world. Remember me, O my God, and
lead me by the right way unto Thy Kingdom. Amen.


Of deeper matters, and God's hidden judgments which are not to be
inquired into

"My Son, beware thou dispute not of high matters and of the
hidden judgments of God; why this man is thus left, and that man
is taken into so great favour; why also this man is so greatly
afflicted, and that so highly exalted. These things pass all
man's power of judging, neither may any reasoning or disputation
have power to search out the divine judgments. When therefore
the enemy suggesteth these things to thee, or when any curious
people ask such questions, answer with that word of the Prophet,
Just art Thou, O Lord, and true is Thy judgment,(1) and with
this, The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous
altogether.(2) My judgments are to be feared, not to be disputed
on, because they are incomprehensible to human understanding.

2. "And be not given to inquire or dispute about the merits of
the Saints, which is holier than another, or which is the greater
in the Kingdom of Heaven. Such questions often beget useless
strifes and contentions: they also nourish pride and vain glory,
whence envyings and dissensions arise, while one man arrogantly
endeavoureth to exalt one Saint and another another. But to wish
to know and search out such things bringeth no fruit, but it
rather displeaseth the Saints; for I am not the God of confusion
but of peace;(3) which peace consisteth more in true humility
than in self-exaltation.

3. "Some are drawn by zeal of love to greater affection to these
Saints or those; but this is human affection rather than divine.
I am He Who made all the Saints: I gave them grace, I brought
them glory; I know the merits of every one; I prevented them with
the blessings of My goodness.(4) I foreknew my beloved ones from
everlasting, I chose them out of the world;(5) they did not
choose Me. I called them by My grace, drew them by My mercy, led
them on through sundry temptations. I poured mighty consolations
upon them, I gave them perseverance, I crowned their patience.

4. "I acknowledge the first and the last; I embrace all with
inestimable love. I am to be praised in all My Saints; I am to
be blessed above all things, and to be honoured in every one whom
I have so gloriously exalted and predestined, without any
preceding merits of their own. He therefore that shall despise
one of the least of these My people, honoureth not the great;
because I made both small and great.(6) And he who speaketh
against any of My Saints speaketh against Me, and against all
others in the Kingdom of Heaven."

They are all one through the bond of charity; they think the
same thing, will the same thing, and all are united in love one
to another.

5. "But yet (which is far better) they love Me above themselves
and their own merits. For being caught up above themselves, and
drawn beyond self-love, they go all straightforward to the love
of Me, and they rest in Me in perfect enjoyment. There is
nothing which can turn them away or press them down; for being
full of Eternal Truth, they burn with the fire of
inextinguishable charity. Therefore let all carnal and natural
men hold their peace concerning the state of the Saints, for they
know nothing save to love their own personal enjoyment. They
take away and add according to their own inclination, not as it
pleaseth the Eternal Truth.

6. "In many men this is ignorance, chiefly is it so in those who,
being little enlightened, rarely learn to love any one with
perfect spiritual love. They are still much drawn by natural
affection and human friendship to these or to those: and as they
reckon of themselves in lower matters, so also do they frame
imaginations of things heavenly. But there is an immeasurable
difference between those things which they imperfectly imagine,
and these things which enlightened men behold through
supernatural revelation.

7. "Take heed, therefore, My son, that thou treat not curiously
those things which surpass thy knowledge, but rather make this
thy business and give attention to it, namely, that thou seek to
be found, even though it be the least, in the Kingdom of God.
And even if any one should know who were holier than others, or
who were held greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven; what should that
knowledge profit him, unless through this knowledge he should
humble himself before Me, and should rise up to give greater
praise unto My name? He who considereth how great are his own
sins, how small his virtues, and how far he is removed from the
perfection of the Saints, doeth far more acceptably in the sight
of God, than he who disputeth about their greatness or

8. "They are altogether well content, if men would learn to be
content, and to refrain from vain babbling. They glory not of
their own merits, seeing they ascribe no good unto themselves,
but all unto Me, seeing that I of my infinite charity have given
them all things. They are filled with so great love of the
Divinity, and with such overflowing joy, that no glory is lacking
to them, neither can any felicity be lacking. All the Saints,
the higher they are exalted in glory, the humbler are they in
themselves, and the nearer and dearer are they unto Me. And so
thou hast it written that they cast their crowns before God and
fell on their faces before the Lamb, and worshipped Him that
liveth for ever and ever.(7)

9. "Many ask who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, who know
not whether they shall be worthy to be counted among the 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 sons of
God. A little one shall become a thousand, but the sinner being
an hundred years old shall be accursed. For when the disciples
asked who should be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, they
received no other answer than this, Except ye be converted and
become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of
Heaven. But whosoever shall humble himself as this little child,
the same shall be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."(8)

10. Woe unto them who disdain to humble themselves willingly with
the little children; for the low gate of the kingdom of Heaven
will not suffer them to enter in. Woe also to them who are rich,
who have their consolation here;(9) because whilst the poor
enter into the kingdom of God, they shall stand lamenting
without. Rejoice ye humble, and exult ye poor, for yours is the
kingdom of God if only ye walk in the truth.

(1) Psalm cxix. 137. (2) Psalm xix. 9.
(3) Corinthians xiv. 33. (4) Psalm xxi. 3. (5) John xv. 19.
(6) Wisd. vi. 8. (7) Revelation iv. 10; v. 14.
(8) Matthew xviii. 3. (9) Philippians ii. 21.


That all hope and trust is to be fixed in God alone

O Lord, what is my trust which I have in this life, or what is my
greatest comfort of all the things which are seen under Heaven?
Is it not Thou, O Lord my God, whose mercies are without number?
Where hath it been well with me without Thee? Or when could it
be evil whilst Thou wert near? I had rather be poor for Thy
sake, than rich without Thee. I choose rather to be a pilgrim
upon the earth with Thee than without Thee to possess heaven.
Where Thou art, there is heaven; and where Thou are not, behold
there death and hell. Thou art all my desire, and therefore must
I groan and cry and earnestly pray after Thee. In short I can
confide fully in none to give me ready help in necessities, save
in Thee alone, O my God. Thou art my hope, Thou art my trust,
Thou art my Comforter, and most faithful in all things.

2. All men seek their own;(1) Thou settest forward only my
salvation and my profit, and turnest all things unto my good.
Even though Thou dost expose me to divers temptations and
adversities, Thou ordainest all this unto my advantage, for Thou
are wont to prove Thy beloved ones in a thousand ways. In which
proving Thou oughtest no less to be loved and praised, than if
Thou wert filling me full of heavenly consolations.

3. In Thee, therefore, O Lord God, I put all my hope and my
refuge, on Thee I lay all my tribulation and anguish; because I
find all to be weak and unstable whatsoever I behold out of Thee.
For many friends shall not profit, nor strong helpers be able to
succour, nor prudent counsellors to give a useful answer, nor the
books of the learned to console, nor any precious substance to
deliver, nor any secret and beautiful place to give shelter, if
Thou Thyself do not assist, help, strengthen, comfort, instruct,
keep in safety.

4. For all things which seem to belong to the attainment of peace
and felicity are nothing when Thou art absent, and bring no
felicity at all in reality. Therefore art Thou the end of all
good, and the fulness of Life, and the soul of eloquence; and to
hope in Thee above all things is the strongest solace of Thy
servants. Mine eyes look unto Thee,(2) in Thee is my trust, O my
God, Father of mercies.

5. Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly blessing that it may
become Thy holy habitation, and the seat of Thy eternal glory;
and let nothing be found in the Temple of Thy divinity which may
offend the eyes of Thy majesty. According to the greatness of
Thy goodness and the multitude of Thy mercies look upon me, and
hear the prayer of Thy poor servant, far exiled from Thee in the
land of the shadow of death. Protect and preserve the soul of
Thy least servant amid so many dangers of corruptible life, and
by Thy grace accompanying me, direct it by the way of peace unto
its home of perpetual light. Amen.

(1) Luke vi. (2) Psalm cxli. 8.



A devout exhortation to the Holy Communion

The Voice of Christ

Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will
refresh you,(1) saith the Lord. The bread that I will give is My
flesh which I give for the life of the world.(2) Take, eat: this
is My Body, which is given for you; this do in remembrance of
Me.(3) He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in
Me and I in him. The words that I speak unto you, they are
spirit, and they are life.(4)

(1) Matthew xi. 28 (2) John vi. 51.
(3) Matthew xxi. 26; Luke xxii. 19. (4) John vi. 51, 63.


With how great reverence Christ must be received

The Voice of the Disciple

These are Thy words, O Christ, Eternal Truth; though not uttered
at one time nor written together in one place of Scripture.
Because therefore they are Thy words and true, I must gratefully
and faithfully receive them all. They are Thine, and Thou hast
uttered them; and they are mine also, because Thou didst speak
them for my salvation. Gladly I receive them from Thy mouth,
that they may be more deeply implanted in my heart. Words of
such great grace arouse me, for they are full of sweetness and
love; but my own sins terrify me, and my impure conscience
driveth me away from receiving so great mysteries. The sweetness
of Thy words encourageth me, but the multitude of my faults
presseth me down.

2. Thou commandest that I draw near to Thee with firm confidence,
if I would have part with Thee, and that I receive the food of
immortality, if I desire to obtain eternal life and glory. Come
unto Me, sayest Thou, all that labour and are heavy laden, and I
will refresh you. Oh, sweet and lovely word in the ear of the
sinner, that Thou, O Lord my God, dost invite the poor and needy
to the Communion of Thy most holy body and blood. But who am I,
O Lord, that I should presume to approach unto Thee? Behold the
heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee, and yet Thou sayest, Come
ye all unto Me.

3. What meaneth this most gracious condescension, this most
lovely invitation? How shall I dare to come, who know no good
thing of myself, whence I might be able to presume? How shall I
bring Thee within my house, seeing that I so often have sinned in
Thy most loving sight? Angels and Archangels stand in awe of
Thee, the Saints and just men fear Thee, and Thou sayest, Come
unto Me! Except Thou, Lord, hadst said it, who should believe it
true? And except Thou hadst commanded, who should attempt to draw

4. Behold, Noah, that just man, laboured for a hundred years in
building the ark, that he might be saved with the few; and I, how
shall I be able in one hour to prepare myself to receive the
Builder of the world with reverence? Moses, Thy servant, Thy
great and especial friend, made an ark of incorruptible wood,
which also he covered with purest gold, that he might lay up in
it the tables of the law, and I, a corruptible creature, shall I
dare thus easily to receive Thee, the Maker of the Law and the
Giver of life? Solomon, the wisest of the kings of Israel, was
seven years building his magnificent temple to the praise of Thy
Name, and for eight days celebrated the feast of its dedication,
offered a thousand peace offerings, and solemnly brought up the
Ark of the Covenant to the place prepared for it, with the sound
of trumpets and great joy, and I, unhappy and poorest of mankind,
how shall I bring Thee into my house, who scarce know how to
spend half an hour in devotion? And oh that it were even one
half hour worthily spent!

5. O my God, how earnestly these holy men strove to please Thee!
And alas! how little and trifling is that which I do! how short
a time do I spend, when I am disposing myself to Communion.
Rarely altogether collected, most rarely cleansed from all
distraction. And surely in the saving presence of Thy Godhead no
unmeet thought ought to intrude, nor should any creature take
possession of me, because it is not an Angel but the Lord of
the Angels, that I am about to receive as my Guest.

6. Yet there is a vast difference between the Ark of the Covenant
with its relics, and Thy most pure Body with its ineffable
virtues, between those sacrifices of the law, which were figures
of things to come, and the true sacrifice of Thy Body, the
completion of all the ancient sacrifices.

7. Wherefore then do I not yearn more ardently after Thy adorable
presence? Why do I not prepare myself with greater solicitude to
receive Thy holy things, when those holy Patriarchs and Prophets
of old, kings also and princes, with the whole people, manifested
so great affection of devotion towards Thy Divine Service?

8. The most devout king David danced with all his might before
the Ark of God, calling to mind the benefits granted to his
forefathers in days past; he fashioned musical instruments of
various sorts, put forth Psalms, and appointed them to be sung
with joy, played also himself ofttimes on the harp, being
inspired with the grace of the Holy Ghost; he taught the people
of Israel to praise God with the whole heart, and with unity of
voice to bless and praise Him every day. If so great devotion
was then exercised, and celebration of divine praise was carried
on before the Ark of the Testimony, how great reverence and
devotion ought now to be shown by me and all Christian people at
the ministering of the Sacrament, at receiving the most precious
Body and Blood of Christ.

9. Many run to diverse places to visit the memorials of departed
Saints, and rejoice to hear of their deeds and to look upon the
beautiful buildings of their shrines. And behold, Thou art
present here with me, O my God, Saint of Saints, Creator of men
and Lord of the Angels. Often in looking at those memorials men
are moved by curiosity and novelty, and very little fruit of
amendment is borne away, especially when there is so much
careless trifling and so little true contrition. But here in the
Sacrament of the Altar, Thou art present altogether, My God, the
Man Christ Jesus; where also abundant fruit of eternal life is
given to every one soever that receiveth Thee worthily and
devoutly. But to this no levity draweth, no curiosity, nor
sensuality, only steadfast faith, devout hope, and sincere

10. O God, invisible Creator of the world, how wondrously dost
Thou work with us, how sweetly and graciously Thou dealest with
Thine elect, to whom Thou offerest Thyself to be received in this
Sacrament! For this surpasseth all understanding, this specially
draweth the hearts of the devout and enkindleth their affections.
For even thy true faithful ones themselves, who order their whole
life to amendment, oftentimes gain from this most excellent
Sacrament great grace of devotion and love of virtue.

11. Oh admirable and hidden grace of the Sacrament, which only
Christ's faithful ones know, but the faithless and those who serve
sin cannot experience! In this Sacrament is conferred spiritual
grace, and lost virtue is regained in the soul, and the beauty
which was disfigured by sin returneth again. So great sometimes
is this grace that out of the fulness of devotion given, not only
the mind but also the weak body feeleth that more strength is
supplied unto it.

12. But greatly must we mourn and lament over our lukewarmness
and negligence, that we are not drawn by greater affection to
become partakers of Christ, in whom all the hope and the merit of
those that are to be saved consist. For He Himself is our
sanctification and redemption.(1) He is the consolation of
pilgrims and the eternal fruition of the Saints. Therefore it is
grievously to be lamented that many so little consider this
health-giving mystery, which maketh heaven glad and preserveth
the whole world. Alas for the blindness and hardness of man's
heart, that he considereth not more this unspeakable gift, and
even slippeth down through the daily use, into carelessness.

13. For if this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in one place
only, and were consecrated only by one priest in the whole world,
with what great desire thinkest thou, would men be affected
towards that place and towards such a priest of God, that they
might behold the divine mysteries celebrated? But now are many
men made priests and in many places the Sacrament is celebrated,
that the grace and love of God towards men might the more appear,
the more widely the Holy Communion is spread abroad over all the
world. Thanks be unto Thee, O good Jesus, Eternal Shepherd, who
hast vouchsafed to refresh us, poor and exiled ones, with Thy
precious Body and Blood, and to invite us to partake these holy
mysteries by the invitation from Thine own mouth, saying, Come
unto Me, ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh

(1) 1 Corinthians i. 30.


That the greatness and charity of God is shown to men in the

The Voice of the Disciple

Trusting in Thy goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I draw near,
the sick to the Healer, the hungering and thirsting to the
Fountain of life, the poverty-stricken to the King of heaven, the
servant to the Lord, the creature to the Creator, the desolate to
my own gentle Comforter. But whence is this unto me, that Thou
comest unto me? Who am I that Thou shouldest offer me Thyself?
How doth a sinner dare to appear before Thee? And how dost thou
vouchsafe to come to the sinner? Thou knowest Thy servant, and
Thou knowest that he hath in him no good thing for which Thou
shouldest grant him this grace. I confess therefore mine own
vileness, I acknowledge Thy goodness, I praise Thy tenderness,
and I give Thee thanks for Thine exceeding great love. For Thou
doest this for Thine own sake, not for my merits, that Thy
goodness may be more manifest unto me, Thy charity more
abundantly poured out upon me, and Thy humility more perfectly
commended unto me. Therefore because this pleaseth Thee and Thou
hast commanded that thus it shall be, Thy condescension pleaseth
me also; and oh that mine iniquity hinder it not.

2. O most sweet and tender Jesus, what reverence, what giving of
thanks is due to Thee with perpetual praise for the receiving of
Thy sacred Body and Blood, the dignity whereof no man is found
able to express. But what shall I think upon in this Communion
in approaching my Lord, whom I am not able worthily to honour,
and nevertheless whom I long devoutly to receive? What shall be
better and more healthful meditation for me, than utter
humiliation of myself before Thee, and exaltation of Thine
infinite goodness towards me? I praise Thee, O my God, and exalt
Thee for evermore. I despise myself, and cast myself down before
Thee into the deep of my vileness.

3. Behold, Thou art the Saint of saints and I the refuse of
sinners; behold, Thou stoopest unto me who am not worthy to look
upon Thee; behold, Thou comest unto me, Thou willest to be with
me, Thou invitest me to Thy feast. Thou willest to give me the
heavenly food and bread of angels to eat; none other, in truth,
than Thyself, The living bread, which didst descend from heaven;
and givest life to the world.(1)

4. Behold, whence this love proceedeth! what manner of
condescension shineth forth herein. What great giving of thanks
and praise is due unto Thee for these benefits! Oh how salutary
and profitable Thy purpose when Thou didst ordain this! How
sweet and pleasant the feast when Thou didst give Thyself for
food! Oh how admirable is thy working, O Lord, how mighty Thy
power, how unspeakable Thy truth! For Thou didst speak the word,
and all things were made; and this is done which Thou hast

5. A thing wonderful, and worthy of faith, and surpassing all the
understanding of man, that Thou, O Lord my God, very God and very
man, givest Thyself altogether to us in a little bread and wine,
and art so our inexhaustible food. Thou, O Lord of all, who hast
need of nothing, hast willed to dwell in us through Thy
Sacrament. Preserve my heart and my body undefiled, that with a
joyful and pure conscience I may be able very often to
[celebrate, and](2) receive to my perpetual health. Thy
mysteries, which Thou hast consecrated and instituted both for
Thine own honour, and for a perpetual memorial.

6. Rejoice, O my soul, and give thanks unto God for so great a
gift and precious consolation, left unto thee in this vale of
tears. For so oft as thou callest this mystery to mind and
receivest the body of Christ, so often dost thou celebrate the
work of thy redemption, and art made partaker of all the merits
of Christ. For the charity of Christ never groweth less, and the
greatness of His propitiation is never exhausted. Therefore, by
continual renewal of thy spirit, thou oughtest to dispose thyself
hereunto and to weigh the great mystery of salvation with
attentive consideration. So great, new, and joyful ought it to
appear to thee when thou comest to communion, as if on this
self-same day Christ for the first time were descending into the
Virgin's womb and becoming man, or hanging on the cross,
suffering and dying for the salvation of mankind.

(1) John vi. 51.
(2) The words in brackets are only suitable for a priest.


That it is profitable to Communicate often

The Voice of the Disciple

Behold I come unto Thee, O Lord, that I may be blessed through
Thy gift, and be made joyful in Thy holy feast which Thou, O God,
of Thy goodness hast prepared for the poor.(1) Behold in Thee is
all that I can and ought to desire, Thou art my salvation and
redemption, my hope and strength, my honour and glory. Therefore
rejoice the soul of Thy servant this day, for unto Thee, O Lord
Jesus, do I lift up my soul.(2) I long now to receive Thee
devoutly and reverently, I desire to bring Thee into my house, so
that with Zacchaeus I may be counted worthy to be blessed by Thee
and numbered among the children of Abraham. My soul hath an
earnest desire for Thy Body, my heart longeth to be united with

2. Give me Thyself and it sufficeth, for besides Thee no
consolation availeth. Without Thee I cannot be, and without Thy
visitation I have no power to live. And therefore I must needs
draw nigh unto Thee often, and receive Thee for the healing of my
soul, lest haply I faint by the way if I be deprived of heavenly
food. For so Thou, most merciful Jesus, preaching to the people
and healing many sick, didst once say, I will not send them away
fasting to their own homes, lest they faint by the way.(3) Deal
therefore now to me in like manner, for Thou left Thyself for the
consolation of the faithful in the Sacrament. For Thou art the
sweet refreshment of the soul, and he who shall eat Thee worthily
shall be partaker and inheritor of the eternal glory. Necessary
indeed it is for me, who so often slide backwards and sin, so
quickly wax cold and faint, to renew, cleanse, enkindle myself by
frequent prayers and penitences and receiving of Thy sacred Body
and Blood lest haply by too long abstinence, I fall short of my
holy resolutions.

3. For the imaginations of man's heart are evil from his
youth,(4) and except divine medicine succour him, man slideth
away continually unto the worse. The Holy Communion therefore
draweth us back from evil, and strengtheneth us for good. For if
I now be so negligent and lukewarm when I communicate [or
celebrate], how should it be with me, if I receive not this
medicine, and sought not so great a help? [And though I am not
every day fit nor well prepared to celebrate, I will nevertheless
give diligent heed at due season, to receive the divine
mysteries, and to become partaker of so great grace]. For this
is the one principal consolation of a faithful soul, so long as
it is absent from Thee in mortal body, that being continually
mindful of its God, it receiveth its Beloved with devout spirit.

4. Oh wonderful condescension of Thy pity surrounding us, that
Thou, O Lord God, Creator and Quickener of all spirits, deignest
to come unto a soul so poor and weak, and to appease its hunger
with Thy whole Deity and Humanity. Oh happy mind and blessed
soul, to which is granted devoutly to receive Thee its Lord God,
and in so receiving Thee to be filled with all spiritual joy! Oh
how great a Lord doth it entertain, how beloved a Guest doth it
bring in, how delightful a Companion doth it receive, how
faithful a Friend doth it welcome, how beautiful and exalted a
Spouse, above every other Beloved, doth it embrace, One to be
loved above all things that can be desired! Oh my most sweet
Beloved, let heaven and earth and all the glory of them, be
silent in Thy presence; seeing whatsoever praise and beauty they
have it is of Thy gracious bounty; and they shall never reach
unto the loveliness of Thy Name, Whose Wisdom is infinite.(5)

(1) Psalm lxviii. 10. (2) Psalm lxxxvi. 4.
(3) Matthew xv. 32. (4) Genesis viii. 21.
(5) Psalm cxlvii. 5.


That many good gifts are bestowed upon those who Communicate

The Voice of the Disciple

O Lord my God, prevent Thou Thy servant with the blessings of Thy
sweetness, that I may be enabled to draw near worthily and
devoutly to Thy glorious Sacrament. Awaken my heart towards
Thee, and deliver me from heavy slumber. Visit me with Thy
salvation that I may in spirit taste Thy sweetness, which
plentifully lieth hid in this Sacrament as in a fountain.
Lighten also mine eyes to behold this so great mystery, and
strengthen me that I may believe it with undoubting faith. For
it is Thy word, not human power; it is Thy holy institution, not
the invention of man. For no man is found fit in himself to
receive and to understand these things, which transcend even the
wisdom of the Angels. What portion then shall I, unworthy
sinner, who am but dust and ashes, be able to search into and
comprehend of so deep a Sacrament?

2. O Lord, in the simplicity of my heart, in good and firm faith,
and according to Thy will, I draw nigh unto Thee with hope and
reverence, and truly believe that Thou art here present in the
Sacrament, God and man. Thou willest therefore that I receive
Thee and unite myself to Thee in charity. Wherefore I beseech
Thy mercy, and implore Thee to give me Thy special grace, to this
end, that I may be wholly dissolved and overflow with love
towards Thee, and no more suffer any other consolation to enter
into me. For this most high and most glorious Sacrament is the
health of the soul and the body, the medicine of all spiritual
sickness, whereby I am healed of my sins, my passions are
bridled, temptations are conquered or weakened, more grace is
poured into me, virtue begun is increased, faith is made firm,
hope is strengthened, and charity is enkindled and enlarged.

3. For in this Sacrament Thou hast bestowed many good things and
still bestowest them continually on Thine elect who communicate
devoutly, O my God, Lifter up of my soul, Repairer of human
infirmity, and Giver of all inward consolation. For Thou pourest
into them much consolation against all sorts of tribulation, and
out of the deep of their own misery Thou liftest them up to the
hope of Thy protection, and with ever new grace, dost inwardly
refresh and enlighten them; so that they who felt themselves to

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