|Book One. Thoughts Helpful in the Life of the Soul
1. Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth
2. Having A Humble Opinion of Self
3. The Doctrine of Truth
4. Prudence in Action
5. Reading the Holy Scripture
6. Unbridled Affections
7. Avoiding False Hope and Pride
8. Shunning Over-Familiarity
9. Obedience and Subjection
10. Avoiding Idle Talk
11. Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection
12. The Value of Adversity
13. Resisting Temptation
14. Avoiding Rash Judgment
15. Works Done in Charity
16. Bearing With the Faults of Others
17. Monastic Life
18. The Example Set Us by the Holy Fathers
19. The Practices of a Good Religious
20. The Love of Solitude and Silence
21. Sorrow of Heart
22. Thoughts on the Misery of Man
23. Thoughts on Death
24. Judgment and the Punishment of Sin
25. Zeal in Amending Our Lives
|Book Two. The Interior Life
3. Goodness and Peace in Man
4. Purity of Mind and Unity of Purpose
6. The Joy of a Good Conscience
7. Loving Jesus Above All Things
8. The Intimate Friendship of Jesus
9. Wanting No Share in Comfort
10. Appreciating God's Grace
11. Few Love the Cross of Jesus
12. The Royal Road of the Holy Cross
|Book Three. Internal Consolation
1. The Inward Conversation of Christ with the Faithful Soul
2. Truth Speaks Inwardly without the Sound of Words
3. Listen Humbly to the Words of God. Many Do Not Heed Them
4. We Must Walk Before God in Humility and Truth
5. The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love
6. The Proving of a True Lover
7. Grace Must Be Hidden Under the Mantle of Humility
8. Self-Abasement in the Sight of God
9. All Things Should be Referred to God as their Last End
10. To Despise the World and Serve God is Sweet
11 The Longings of Our Hearts Must Be Examined and Moderated
12. Acquiring Patience in the Fight against Concupiscence
13. The Obedience of One Humbly Subject to the Example of Jesus Christ
14. Consider the Hidden Judgments of God Lest You Become Proud of Your Own Good
15. How One Should Feel and Speak on Every Desirable Thing
16. True Comfort is to be Sought in God Alone
17. All Our Care is to be Placed in God
18. Temporal Sufferings Should be Borne Patiently, After the Example of Christ
19. True Patience in Suffering
20. Confessing Our Weakness in the Miseries of Life
21. Above All Goods and All Gifts We Must Rest in God
22. Remember the Innumerable Gifts of God
23. Four Things Which Bring Great Peace
24. Avoiding Curious Inquiry About the Lives of Others
25. The Basis of Firm Peace of Heart and True Progress
26. The Excellence of a Free Mind, Gained Through Prayer Rather Than by Study
27. Self-Love is the Greatest Hindrance to the Highest Good
28. Strength Against Slander
29. How We Must Call Upon and Bless the Lord When Trouble Presses
30. The Quest of Divine Help and Confidence in Regaining Grace
31. To Find the Creator, Forsake All Creatures
32. Self-Denial and the Renunciation of Evil Appetites
33. Restlessness of Soul -- Directing Our Final Intention Toward God
34. God is Sweet Above All Things and in All Things to Those Who Love Him
35. There is No Security from Temptation in This Life
36. The Vain Judgments of Men
37. Pure and Entire Resignation of Self to Obtain Freedom of Heart
38. The Right Ordering of External Affairs; Recourse to God in Dangers
39. A Man Should Not be Unduly Solicitous about his Affairs
40. Man Has No Good in Himself and Can Glory in Nothing
41. Contempt for All Earthly Honor
42. Peace is not to be Placed in Men
43. Beware Vain and Worldly Knowledge
44. Do Not be Concerned About Outward Things
45. All Men Are Not To Be Believed, For It is Easy To Err in Speech
46. Trust in God Against Slander
47. Every Trial Must Be Borne for the Sake of Eternal Life
48. The Day of Eternity and the Distresses of this Life
49. The Desire of Eternal Life; The Great Rewards Promised to Those Who Struggle
50. How a Desolate Person Ought to Commit Himself into the Hands of God
51. When We Cannot Attain to the Highest, We Must Practice the Humble Works
52. A Man Ought Not to Consider Himself Worthy of Consolation, But Rather
Deserving of Chastisement
53. God's Grace Is Not Given to the Earthly Minded
54. The Different Motions of Nature and Grace
55. The Corruption of Nature and the Efficacy of Divine Grace
56. We Ought to Deny Ourselves and Imitate Christ Through Bearing the Cross
57. A Man Should Not Be Too Downcast When He Falls Into Defects
58. High Matters and the Hidden Judgments of God Are Not To Be Scrutinized
59. All Hope and Trust Are To Be Fixed in God Alone
|Book Four. An Invitation to the Holy Communion
1. The Great Reverence With Which We Should Receive Christ
2. God's Great Goodness and Love is Shown to Man in This Sacrament
3. It Is Profitable To Receive Communion Often
4. Many Blessings Are Given Those Who Receive Communion Worthily
5. The Dignity of the Sacrament and of the Priesthood
6. An Inquiry on the Proper Thing to do Before Communion
7. The Examination of Conscience and the Resolution to Amend
8. The Offering of Christ on the Cross; Our Offering
9. We Should Offer Ourselves and All That We Have to God, Praying for All
10. Do Not Lightly Forego Holy Communion
11. The Body of Christ and Sacred Scripture Are Most Necessary to a Faithful
12. The Communicant Should Prepare Himself for Christ with Great Care
13. With All Her Heart the Devout Soul Should Desire Union with Christ in the
14. The Ardent Longing of Devout Men for the Body of Christ
15. The Grace of Devotion is Acquired Through Humility and Self-Denial
16. We Should Show Our Needs to Christ and Ask His Grace
17. The Burning Love and Strong Desire to Receive Christ
18. Man Should Not Scrutinize This Sacrament in Curiosity, But Humbly Imitate
Christ and Submit Reason to Holy Faith
|Key Scripture Verses:
1 Cor. 11:24
1 Kings 3:9
Luke 12:43, 44
Luke 24:46, 26
Matt. 18:3, 4
THOUGHTS HELPFUL IN THE LIFE OF THE SOUL
--- The First Chapter
IMITATING CHRIST AND DESPISING ALL VANITIES ON EARTH
HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness," says the Lord.
By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and
habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all
blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study
the life of Jesus Christ.
The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice
of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a
hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but
care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ.
Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must
try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.
What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if,
lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not
learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life
makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than
know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the
whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers
if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities
and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.
This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven
through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek
and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court
honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the
lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe
punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life
and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be
concerned with the present only and not to make provision for
things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not
to look ahead where eternal joy abides.
Often recall the proverb: "The eye is not satisfied with
seeing nor the ear filled with hearing."
Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things
visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who
follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose
the grace of God.
--- The Second Chapter
HAVING A HUMBLE OPINION OF SELF
EVERY man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is
knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves
God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to
study the course of the stars. He who knows himself well becomes
mean in his own eyes and is not happy when praised by men.
If I knew all things in the world and had not charity, what
would it profit me before God Who will judge me by my deeds?
Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is
much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned
and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge
of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns
himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is
Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the
mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God.
The more you know and the better you understand, the more
severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more
holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or
skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you
think you know many things and understand them well enough,
realize at the same time that there is much you do not know.
Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why
prefer yourself to anyone else when many are more learned, more
cultured than you?
If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while,
then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know
and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel. To think
of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of
others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you
see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not
consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can
remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit
that none is more frail than yourself.
--- The Third Chapter
THE DOCTRINE OF TRUTH
HAPPY is he to whom truth manifests itself, not in signs and
words that fade, but as it actually is. Our opinions, our senses
often deceive us and we discern very little.
What good is much discussion of involved and obscure matters
when our ignorance of them will not be held against us on
Judgment Day? Neglect of things which are profitable and
necessary and undue concern with those which are irrelevant and
harmful, are great folly.
We have eyes and do not see.
What, therefore, have we to do with questions of philosophy?
He to whom the Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing. For
from this Word are all things and of Him all things speak -- the
Beginning Who also speaks to us. Without this Word no man
understands or judges aright. He to whom it becomes everything,
who traces all things to it and who sees all things in it, may
ease his heart and remain at peace with God.
O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love
everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and
read, but in You is all that I long for. Let the learned be
still, let all creatures be silent before You; You alone speak
The more recollected a man is, and the more simple of heart
he becomes, the easier he understands sublime things, for he
receives the light of knowledge from above. The pure, simple,
and steadfast spirit is not distracted by many labors, for he
does them all for the honor of God. And since he enjoys interior
peace he seeks no selfish end in anything. What, indeed, gives
more trouble and affliction than uncontrolled desires of the
A good and devout man arranges in his mind the things he has
to do, not according to the whims of evil inclination but
according to the dictates of right reason. Who is forced to
struggle more than he who tries to master himself? This ought to
be our purpose, then: to conquer self, to become stronger each
day, to advance in virtue.
Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed
with it and no learning of ours is without some darkness. Humble
knowledge of self is a surer path to God than the ardent pursuit
of learning. Not that learning is to be considered evil, or
knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a
clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred.
Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try
to become learned rather than to live well.
If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting
virtues as they do in discussing problems, there would not be so
much evil and scandal in the world, or such laxity in religious
organizations. On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be
asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we
have spoken but how well we have lived.
Tell me, where now are all the masters and teachers whom you
knew so well in life and who were famous for their learning?
Others have already taken their places and I know not whether
they ever think of their predecessors. During life they seemed
to be something; now they are seldom remembered. How quickly the
glory of the world passes away! If only their lives had kept
pace with their learning, then their study and reading would
have been worth while.
How many there are who perish because of vain worldly
knowledge and too little care for serving God. They became vain
in their own conceits because they chose to be great rather than
He is truly great who has great charity. He is truly great
who is little in his own eyes and makes nothing of the highest
honor. He is truly wise who looks upon all earthly things as
folly that he may gain Christ. He who does God's will and
renounces his own is truly very learned.
--- The Fourth Chapter
PRUDENCE IN ACTION
DO NOT yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider
things carefully and patiently in the light of God's will. For
very often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak
evil of others rather than good. Perfect men, however, do not
readily believe every talebearer, because they know that human
frailty is prone to evil and is likely to appear in speech.
Not to act rashly or to cling obstinately to one's opinion,
not to believe everything people say or to spread abroad the
gossip one has heard, is great wisdom.
Take counsel with a wise and conscientious man. Seek the
advice of your betters in preference to following your own
A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him
experience in many things, for the more humble he is and the
more subject to God, the wiser and the more at peace he will be
in all things.
--- The Fifth Chapter ---
READING THE HOLY SCRIPTURE
TRUTH, not eloquence, is to be sought in reading the Holy
Scriptures; and every part must be read in the spirit in which
it was written. For in the Scriptures we ought to seek profit
rather than polished diction.
Likewise we ought to read simple and devout books as
willingly as learned and profound ones. We ought not to be
swayed by the authority of the writer, whether he be a great
literary light or an insignificant person, but by the love of
simple truth. We ought not to ask who is speaking, but mark what
is said. Men pass away, but the truth of the Lord remains
forever. God speaks to us in many ways without regard for
Our curiosity often impedes our reading of the Scriptures,
when we wish to understand and mull over what we ought simply to
read and pass by.
If you would profit from it, therefore, read with humility,
simplicity, and faith, and never seek a reputation for being
learned. Seek willingly and listen attentively to the words of
the saints; do not be displeased with the sayings of the
ancients, for they were not made without purpose.
--- The Sixth Chapter
WHEN a man desires a thing too much, he at once becomes ill
at ease. A proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who
is poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace. An
unmortified man is quickly tempted and overcome in small,
trifling evils; his spirit is weak, in a measure carnal and
inclined to sensual things; he can hardly abstain from earthly
desires. Hence it makes him sad to forego them; he is quick to
anger if reproved. Yet if he satisfies his desires, remorse of
conscience overwhelms him because he followed his passions and
they did not lead to the peace he sought.
True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions,
not in satisfying them. There is no peace in the carnal man, in
the man given to vain attractions, but there is peace in the
fervent and spiritual man.
--- The Seventh Chapter
AVOIDING FALSE HOPE AND PRIDE
VAIN is the man who puts his trust in men, in created things.
Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus
Christ and to seem poor in this world. Do not be self-sufficient
but place your trust in God. Do what lies in your power and God
will aid your good will. Put no trust in your own learning nor
in the cunning of any man, but rather in the grace of God Who
helps the humble and humbles the proud.
If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends
because they are powerful, but in God Who gives all things and
Who desires above all to give Himself. Do not boast of personal
stature or of physical beauty, qualities which are marred and
destroyed by a little sickness. Do not take pride in your talent
or ability, lest you displease God to Whom belongs all the
natural gifts that you have.
Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you
be accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not
take pride in your good deeds, for God's judgments differ from
those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him. If
there is good in you, see more good in others, so that you may
remain humble. It does no harm to esteem yourself less than
anyone else, but it is very harmful to think yourself better
than even one. The humble live in continuous peace, while in the
hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger.
--- The Eighth Chapter
DO NOT open your heart to every man, but discuss your affairs
with one who is wise and who fears God. Do not keep company with
young people and strangers. Do not fawn upon the rich, and do
not be fond of mingling with the great. Associate with the
humble and the simple, with the devout and virtuous, and with
them speak of edifying things. Be not intimate with any woman,
but generally commend all good women to God. Seek only the
intimacy of God and of His angels, and avoid the notice of men.
We ought to have charity for all men but familiarity with all
is not expedient. Sometimes it happens that a person enjoys a
good reputation among those who do not know him, but at the same
time is held in slight regard by those who do. Frequently we
think we are pleasing others by our presence and we begin rather
to displease them by the faults they find in us.
--- The Ninth Chapter
OBEDIENCE AND SUBJECTION
IT IS a very great thing to obey, to live under a superior
and not to be one's own master, for it is much safer to be
subject than it is to command. Many live in obedience more from
necessity than from love. Such become discontented and dejected
on the slightest pretext; they will never gain peace of mind
unless they subject themselves wholeheartedly for the love of
Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble
obedience to the rule of authority. Dreams of happiness expected
from change and different places have deceived many.
Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is
attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us,
we must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of
Furthermore, who is so wise that he can have full knowledge
of everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions, but
be willing to listen to those of others. If, though your own be
good, you accept another's opinion for love of God, you will
gain much more merit; for I have often heard that it is safer to
listen to advice and take it than to give it. It may happen,
too, that while one's own opinion may be good, refusal to agree
with others when reason and occasion demand it, is a sign of
pride and obstinacy.
--- The Tenth Chapter
AVOIDING IDLE TALK
SHUN the gossip of men as much as possible, for discussion of
worldly affairs, even though sincere, is a great distraction
inasmuch as we are quickly ensnared and captivated by vanity.
Many a time I wish that I had held my peace and had not
associated with men. Why, indeed, do we converse and gossip
among ourselves when we so seldom part without a troubled
conscience? We do so because we seek comfort from one another's
conversation and wish to ease the mind wearied by diverse
thoughts. Hence, we talk and think quite fondly of things we
like very much or of things we dislike intensely. But, sad to
say, we often talk vainly and to no purpose; for this external
pleasure effectively bars inward and divine consolation.
Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly.
When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say
something that will edify.
Bad habits and indifference to spiritual progress do much to
remove the guard from the tongue. Devout conversation on
spiritual matters, on the contrary, is a great aid to spiritual
progress, especially when persons of the same mind and spirit
associate together in God.
--- The Eleventh Chapter
ACQUIRING PEACE AND ZEAL FOR PERFECTION
WE SHOULD enjoy much peace if we did not concern ourselves
with what others say and do, for these are no concern of ours.
How can a man who meddles in affairs not his own, who seeks
strange distractions, and who is little or seldom inwardly
recollected, live long in peace?
Blessed are the simple of heart for they shall enjoy peace in
Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to
contemplation? Because they tried to mortify entirely in
themselves all earthly desires, and thus they were able to
attach themselves to God with all their heart and freely to
concentrate their innermost thoughts.
We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken
up with passing things. Rarely do we completely conquer even one
vice, and we are not inflamed with the desire to improve
ourselves day by day; hence, we remain cold and indifferent. If
we mortified our bodies perfectly and allowed no distractions to
enter our minds, we could appreciate divine things and
experience something of heavenly contemplation.
The greatest obstacle, indeed, the only obstacle, is that we
are not free from passions and lusts, that we do not try to
follow the perfect way of the saints. Thus when we encounter
some slight difficulty, we are too easily dejected and turn to
human consolations. If we tried, however, to stand as brave men
in battle, the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain
us. For He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory,
is ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace.
If we let our progress in religious life depend on the
observance of its externals alone, our devotion will quickly
come to an end. Let us, then, lay the ax to the root that we may
be freed from our passions and thus have peace of mind.
If we were to uproot only one vice each year, we should soon
become perfect. The contrary, however, is often the case -- we
feel that we were better and purer in the first fervor of our
conversion than we are after many years in the practice of our
faith. Our fervor and progress ought to increase day by day; yet
it is now considered noteworthy if a man can retain even a part
of his first fervor.
If we did a little violence to ourselves at the start, we
should afterwards be able to do all things with ease and joy. It
is hard to break old habits, but harder still to go against our
If you do not overcome small, trifling things, how will you
overcome the more difficult? Resist temptations in the
beginning, and unlearn the evil habit lest perhaps, little by
little, it lead to a more evil one.
If you but consider what peace a good life will bring to
yourself and what joy it will give to others, I think you will
be more concerned about your spiritual progress.
--- The Twelfth Chapter
THE VALUE OF ADVERSITY
IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for
they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to
hope in any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer
contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and
mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from
vainglory. When to all outward appearances men give us no
credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more
inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts. Therefore, a man ought
to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the
consolations of men.
When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented
by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is
God, without Whom he can do no good. Saddened by his miseries
and sufferings, he laments and prays. He wearies of living
longer and wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be
with Christ. Then he understands fully that perfect security and
complete peace cannot be found on earth.
--- The Thirteenth Chapter
SO LONG as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering
and temptation. Whence it is written in Job: "The life of man
upon earth is a warfare."
Everyone, therefore, must guard against temptation and must
watch in prayer lest the devil, who never sleeps but goes about
seeking whom he may devour, find occasion to deceive him. No one
is so perfect or so holy but he is sometimes tempted; man cannot
be altogether free from temptation.
Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often
useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and
instructed. The saints all passed through many temptations and
trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist
became reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy, no
place so secret that temptations and trials will not come. Man
is never safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from
within us -- in sin we were born. When one temptation or trial
passes, another comes; we shall always have something to suffer
because we have lost the state of original blessedness.
Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more
deeply. We cannot conquer simply by fleeing, but by patience and
true humility we become stronger than all our enemies. The man
who only shuns temptations outwardly and does not uproot them
will make little progress; indeed they will quickly return, more
violent than before.
Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will
overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and
your own rash ways. Often take counsel when tempted; and do not
be harsh with others who are tempted, but console them as you
yourself would wish to be consoled.
The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and
little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither
and yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in
many ways. Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just.
Often we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us
what we are.
Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings
of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is
refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold
when he knocks.
Someone has said very aptly: "Resist the beginnings; remedies
come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength."
First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination,
followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because
he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And
the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he
become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against
Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their
conversion, others toward the end, while some are troubled
almost constantly throughout their life. Others, again, are
tempted but lightly according to the wisdom and justice of
Divine Providence Who weighs the status and merit of each and
prepares all for the salvation of His elect.
We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but
pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us,
for according to the word of Paul, He will make issue with
temptation that we may be able to bear it. Let us humble our
souls under the hand of God in every trial and temptation for He
will save and exalt the humble in spirit.
In temptations and trials the progress of a man is measured;
in them opportunity for merit and virtue is made more manifest.
When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be
fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of
adversity, there is hope for great progress.
Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently
overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness
in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in
--- The Fourteenth Chapter
AVOIDING RASH JUDGMENT
TURN your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the
deeds of other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly,
often makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and
taking stock of himself he does something that is always
We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be,
for through personal feeling true perspective is easily lost.
If God were the sole object of our desire, we should not be
disturbed so easily by opposition to our opinions. But often
something lurks within or happens from without to draw us along
Many, unawares, seek themselves in the things they do. They
seem even to enjoy peace of mind when things happen according to
their wish and liking, but if otherwise than they desire, they
are soon disturbed and saddened. Differences of feeling and
opinion often divide friends and acquaintances, even those who
are religious and devout.
An old habit is hard to break, and no one is willing to be
led farther than he can see.
If you rely more upon your intelligence or industry than upon
the virtue of submission to Jesus Christ, you will hardly, and
in any case slowly, become an enlightened man. God wants us to
be completely subject to Him and, through ardent love, to rise
above all human wisdom.
--- The Fifteenth Chapter
WORKS DONE IN CHARITY
NEVER do evil for anything in the world, or for the love of
any man. For one who is in need, however, a good work may at
times be purposely left undone or changed for a better one. This
is not the omission of a good deed but rather its improvement.
Without charity external work is of no value, but anything
done in charity, be it ever so small and trivial, is entirely
fruitful inasmuch as God weighs the love with which a man acts
rather than the deed itself.
He does much who loves much. He does much who does a thing
well. He does well who serves the common good rather than his
Now, that which seems to be charity is oftentimes really
sensuality, for man's own inclination, his own will, his hope of
reward, and his self-interest, are motives seldom absent. On the
contrary, he who has true and perfect charity seeks self in
nothing, but searches all things for the glory of God. Moreover,
he envies no man, because he desires no personal pleasure nor
does he wish to rejoice in himself; rather he desires the
greater glory of God above all things. He ascribes to man
nothing that is good but attributes it wholly to God from Whom
all things proceed as from a fountain, and in Whom all the
blessed shall rest as their last end and fruition.
If man had but a spark of true charity he would surely sense
that all the things of earth are full of vanity!
--- The Sixteenth Chapter
BEARING WITH THE FAULTS OF OTHERS
UNTIL God ordains otherwise, a man ought to bear patiently
whatever he cannot correct in himself and in others. Consider it
better thus -- perhaps to try your patience and to test you, for
without such patience and trial your merits are of little
account. Nevertheless, under such difficulties you should pray
that God will consent to help you bear them calmly.
If, after being admonished once or twice, a person does not
amend, do not argue with him but commit the whole matter to God
that His will and honor may be furthered in all His servants,
for God knows well how to turn evil to good. Try to bear
patiently with the defects and infirmities of others, whatever
they may be, because you also have many a fault which others
If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how
can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect,
yet we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be
severely corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their
great liberty displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we
ask. We would have them bound by laws, yet we will allow
ourselves to be restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how
seldom we think of others as we do of ourselves.
If all were perfect, what should we have to suffer from
others for God's sake? But God has so ordained, that we may
learn to bear with one another's burdens, for there is no man
without fault, no man without burden, no man sufficient to
himself nor wise enough. Hence we must support one another,
console one another, mutually help, counsel, and advise, for the
measure of every man's virtue is best revealed in time of
adversity -- adversity that does not weaken a man but rather
shows what he is.
--- The Seventeenth Chapter
IF YOU wish peace and concord with others, you must learn to
break your will in many things. To live in monasteries or
religious communities, to remain there without complaint, and to
persevere faithfully till death is no small matter. Blessed
indeed is he who there lives a good life and there ends his days
If you would persevere in seeking perfection, you must
consider yourself a pilgrim, an exile on earth. If you would
become a religious, you must be content to seem a fool for the
sake of Christ. Habit and tonsure change a man but little; it is
the change of life, the complete mortification of passions that
endow a true religious.
He who seeks anything but God alone and the salvation of his
soul will find only trouble and grief, and he who does not try
to become the least, the servant of all, cannot remain at peace
You have come to serve, not to rule. You must understand,
too, that you have been called to suffer and to work, not to
idle and gossip away your time. Here men are tried as gold in a
furnace. Here no man can remain unless he desires with all his
heart to humble himself before God.
--- The Eighteenth Chapter
THE EXAMPLE SET US BY THE HOLY FATHERS
CONSIDER the lively examples set us by the saints, who
possessed the light of true perfection and religion, and you
will see how little, how nearly nothing, we do. What, alas, is
our life, compared with theirs? The saints and friends of Christ
served the Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, in
work and fatigue, in vigils and fasts, in prayers and holy
meditations, in persecutions and many afflictions. How many and
severe were the trials they suffered -- the Apostles, martyrs,
confessors, virgins, and all the rest who willed to follow in
the footsteps of Christ! They hated their lives on earth that
they might have life in eternity.
How strict and detached were the lives the holy hermits led
in the desert! What long and grave temptations they suffered!
How often were they beset by the enemy! What frequent and ardent
prayers they offered to God! What rigorous fasts they observed!
How great their zeal and their love for spiritual perfection!
How brave the fight they waged to master their evil habits! What
pure and straightforward purpose they showed toward God! By day
they labored and by night they spent themselves in long prayers.
Even at work they did not cease from mental prayer. They used
all their time profitably; every hour seemed too short for
serving God, and in the great sweetness of contemplation, they
forgot even their bodily needs.
They renounced all riches, dignities, honors, friends, and
associates. They desired nothing of the world. They scarcely
allowed themselves the necessities of life, and the service of
the body, even when necessary, was irksome to them. They were
poor in earthly things but rich in grace and virtue. Outwardly
destitute, inwardly they were full of grace and divine
consolation. Strangers to the world, they were close and
intimate friends of God. To themselves they seemed as nothing,
and they were despised by the world, but in the eyes of God they
were precious and beloved. They lived in true humility and
simple obedience; they walked in charity and patience, making
progress daily on the pathway of spiritual life and obtaining
great favor with God.
They were given as an example for all religious, and their
power to stimulate us to perfection ought to be greater than
that of the lukewarm to tempt us to laxity.
How great was the fervor of all religious in the beginning of
their holy institution! How great their devotion in prayer and
their rivalry for virtue! What splendid discipline flourished
among them! What great reverence and obedience in all things
under the rule of a superior! The footsteps they left behind
still bear witness that they indeed were holy and perfect men
who fought bravely and conquered the world.
Today, he who is not a transgressor and who can bear
patiently the duties which he has taken upon himself is
considered great. How lukewarm and negligent we are! We lose our
original fervor very quickly and we even become weary of life
from laziness! Do not you, who have seen so many examples of the
devout, fall asleep in the pursuit of virtue!
--- The Nineteenth Chapter
THE PRACTICES OF A GOOD RELIGIOUS
THE life of a good religious ought to abound in every virtue
so that he is interiorly what to others he appears to be. With
good reason there ought to be much more within than appears on
the outside, for He who sees within is God, Whom we ought to
reverence most highly wherever we are and in Whose sight we
ought to walk pure as the angels.
Each day we ought to renew our resolutions and arouse
ourselves to fervor as though it were the first day of our
religious life. We ought to say: "Help me, O Lord God, in my
good resolution and in Your holy service. Grant me now, this
very day, to begin perfectly, for thus far I have done nothing."
As our intention is, so will be our progress; and he who
desires perfection must be very diligent. If the strong-willed
man fails frequently, what of the man who makes up his mind
seldom or half-heartedly? Many are the ways of failing in our
resolutions; even a slight omission of religious practice
entails a loss of some kind.
Just men depend on the grace of God rather than on their own
wisdom in keeping their resolutions. In Him they confide every
undertaking, for man, indeed, proposes but God disposes, and
God's way is not man's. If a habitual exercise is sometimes
omitted out of piety or in the interests of another, it can
easily be resumed later. But if it be abandoned carelessly,
through weariness or neglect, then the fault is great and will
prove hurtful. Much as we try, we still fail too easily in many
things. Yet we must always have some fixed purpose, especially
against things which beset us the most. Our outward and inward
lives alike must be closely watched and well ordered, for both
are important to perfection.
If you cannot recollect yourself continuously, do so once a
day at least, in the morning or in the evening. In the morning
make a resolution and in the evening examine yourself on what
you have said this day, what you have done and thought, for in
these things perhaps you have often offended God and those about
Arm yourself like a man against the devil's assaults. Curb
your appetite and you will more easily curb every inclination of
the flesh. Never be completely unoccupied, but read or write or
pray or meditate or do something for the common good. Bodily
discipline, however, must be undertaken with discretion and is
not to be practiced indiscriminately by everyone.
Devotions not common to all are not to be displayed in
public, for such personal things are better performed in
private. Furthermore, beware of indifference to community prayer
through love of your own devotions. If, however, after doing
completely and faithfully all you are bound and commanded to do,
you then have leisure, use it as personal piety suggests.
Not everyone can have the same devotion. One exactly suits
this person, another that. Different exercises, likewise, are
suitable for different times, some for feast days and some again
for weekdays. In time of temptation we need certain devotions.
For days of rest and peace we need others. Some are suitable
when we are sad, others when we are joyful in the Lord.
About the time of the principal feasts good devotions ought
to be renewed and the intercession of the saints more fervently
implored. From one feast day to the next we ought to fix our
purpose as though we were then to pass from this world and come
to the eternal holyday.
During holy seasons, finally, we ought to prepare ourselves
carefully, to live holier lives, and to observe each rule more
strictly, as though we were soon to receive from God the reward
of our labors. If this end be deferred, let us believe that we
are not well prepared and that we are not yet worthy of the
great glory that shall in due time be revealed to us. Let us
try, meanwhile, to prepare ourselves better for death.
"Blessed is the servant," says Christ, "whom his master, when
he cometh, shall find watching. Amen I say to you: he shall make
him ruler over all his goods."
--- The Twentieth Chapter
THE LOVE OF SOLITUDE AND SILENCE
SEEK a suitable time for leisure and meditate often on the
favors of God. Leave curiosities alone. Read such matters as
bring sorrow to the heart rather than occupation to the mind. If
you withdraw yourself from unnecessary talking and idle running
about, from listening to gossip and rumors, you will find enough
time that is suitable for holy meditation.
Very many great saints avoided the company of men wherever
possible and chose to serve God in retirement. "As often as I
have been among men," said one writer, "I have returned less a
man." We often find this to be true when we take part in long
conversations. It is easier to be silent altogether than not to
speak too much. To stay at home is easier than to be
sufficiently on guard while away. Anyone, then, who aims to live
the inner and spiritual life must go apart, with Jesus, from the
No man appears in safety before the public eye unless he
first relishes obscurity. No man is safe in speaking unless he
loves to be silent. No man rules safely unless he is willing to
be ruled. No man commands safely unless he has learned well how
to obey. No man rejoices safely unless he has within him the
testimony of a good conscience.
More than this, the security of the saints was always
enveloped in the fear of God, nor were they less cautious and
humble because they were conspicuous for great virtues and
graces. The security of the wicked, on the contrary, springs
from pride and presumption, and will end in their own deception.
Never promise yourself security in this life, even though you
seem to be a good religious, or a devout hermit. It happens very
often that those whom men esteem highly are more seriously
endangered by their own excessive confidence. Hence, for many it
is better not to be too free from temptations, but often to be
tried lest they become too secure, too filled with pride, or
even too eager to fall back upon external comforts.
If only a man would never seek passing joys or entangle
himself with worldly affairs, what a good conscience he would
have. What great peace and tranquillity would be his, if he cut
himself off from all empty care and thought only of things
divine, things helpful to his soul, and put all his trust in
No man deserves the consolation of heaven unless he
persistently arouses himself to holy contrition. If you desire
true sorrow of heart, seek the privacy of your cell and shut out
the uproar of the world, as it is written: "In your chamber
bewail your sins." There you will find what too often you lose
Your cell will become dear to you if you remain in it, but if
you do not, it will become wearisome. If in the beginning of
your religious life, you live within your cell and keep to it,
it will soon become a special friend and a very great comfort.
In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and
learns the hidden truths of Scripture. There she finds a flood
of tears with which to bathe and cleanse herself nightly, that
she may become the more intimate with her Creator the farther
she withdraws from all the tumult of the world. For God and His
holy angels will draw near to him who withdraws from friends and
It is better for a man to be obscure and to attend to his
salvation than to neglect it and work miracles. It is
praiseworthy for a religious seldom to go abroad, to flee the
sight of men and have no wish to see them.
Why wish to see what you are not permitted to have? "The
world passes away and the concupiscence thereof." Sensual
craving sometimes entices you to wander around, but when the
moment is past, what do you bring back with you save a disturbed
conscience and heavy heart? A happy going often leads to a sad
return, a merry evening to a mournful dawn. Thus, all carnal joy
begins sweetly but in the end brings remorse and death.
What can you find elsewhere that you cannot find here in your
cell? Behold heaven and earth and all the elements, for of these
all things are made. What can you see anywhere under the sun
that will remain long? Perhaps you think you will completely
satisfy yourself, but you cannot do so, for if you should see
all existing things, what would they be but an empty vision?
Raise your eyes to God in heaven and pray because of your
sins and shortcomings. Leave vanity to the vain. Set yourself to
the things which God has commanded you to do. Close the door
upon yourself and call to you Jesus, your Beloved. Remain with
Him in your cell, for nowhere else will you find such peace. If
you had not left it, and had not listened to idle gossip, you
would have remained in greater peace. But since you love,
sometimes, to hear news, it is only right that you should suffer
sorrow of heart from it.
--- The Twenty-First Chapter
SORROW OF HEART
IF YOU wish to make progress in virtue, live in the fear of
the Lord, do not look for too much freedom, discipline your
senses, and shun inane silliness. Sorrow opens the door to many
a blessing which dissoluteness usually destroys.
It is a wonder that any man who considers and meditates on
his exiled state and the many dangers to his soul, can ever be
perfectly happy in this life. Lighthearted and heedless of our
defects, we do not feel the real sorrows of our souls, but often
indulge in empty laughter when we have good reason to weep. No
liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is founded in
the fear of the Lord and a good conscience.
Happy is the man who can throw off the weight of every care
and recollect himself in holy contrition. Happy is the man who
casts from him all that can stain or burden his conscience.
Fight like a man. Habit is overcome by habit. If you leave
men alone, they will leave you alone to do what you have to do.
Do not busy yourself about the affairs of others and do not
become entangled in the business of your superiors. Keep an eye
primarily on yourself and admonish yourself instead of your
If you do not enjoy the favor of men, do not let it sadden
you; but consider it a serious matter if you do not conduct
yourself as well or as carefully as is becoming for a servant of
God and a devout religious.
It is often better and safer for us to have few consolations
in this life, especially comforts of the body. Yet if we do not
have divine consolation or experience it rarely, it is our own
fault because we seek no sorrow of heart and do not forsake vain
Consider yourself unworthy of divine solace and deserving
rather of much tribulation. When a man is perfectly contrite,
the whole world is bitter and wearisome to him.
A good man always finds enough over which to mourn and weep;
whether he thinks of himself or of his neighbor he knows that no
one lives here without suffering, and the closer he examines
himself the more he grieves.
The sins and vices in which we are so entangled that we can
rarely apply ourselves to the contemplation of heaven are
matters for just sorrow and inner remorse.
I do not doubt that you would correct yourself more earnestly
if you would think more of an early death than of a long life.
And if you pondered in your heart the future pains of hell or of
purgatory, I believe you would willingly endure labor and
trouble and would fear no hardship. But since these thoughts
never pierce the heart and since we are enamored of flattering
pleasure, we remain very cold and indifferent. Our wretched body
complains so easily because our soul is altogether too lifeless.
Pray humbly to the Lord, therefore, that He may give you the
spirit of contrition and say with the Prophet: "Feed me, Lord,
with the bread of mourning and give me to drink of tears in full
--- The Twenty-Second Chapter
THOUGHTS ON THE MISERY OF MAN
WHEREVER you are, wherever you go, you are miserable unless
you turn to God. So why be dismayed when things do not happen as
you wish and desire? Is there anyone who has everything as he
wishes? No -- neither I, nor you, nor any man on earth. There is
no one in the world, be he Pope or king, who does not suffer
trial and anguish.
Who is the better off then? Surely, it is the man who will
suffer something for God. Many unstable and weak-minded people
say: "See how well that man lives, how rich, how great he is,
how powerful and mighty." But you must lift up your eyes to the
riches of heaven and realize that the material goods of which
they speak are nothing. These things are uncertain and very
burdensome because they are never possessed without anxiety and
fear. Man's happiness does not consist in the possession of
abundant goods; a very little is enough.
Living on earth is truly a misery. The more a man desires
spiritual life, the more bitter the present becomes to him,
because he understands better and sees more clearly the defects,
the corruption of human nature. To eat and drink, to watch and
sleep, to rest, to labor, and to be bound by other human
necessities is certainly a great misery and affliction to the
devout man, who would gladly be released from them and be free
from all sin. Truly, the inner man is greatly burdened in this
world by the necessities of the body, and for this reason the
Prophet prayed that he might be as free from them as possible,
when he said: "From my necessities, O Lord, deliver me."
But woe to those who know not their own misery, and greater
woe to those who love this miserable and corruptible life. Some,
indeed, can scarcely procure its necessities either by work or
by begging; yet they love it so much that, if they could live
here always, they would care nothing for the kingdom of God.
How foolish and faithless of heart are those who are so
engrossed in earthly things as to relish nothing but what is
carnal! Miserable men indeed, for in the end they will see to
their sorrow how cheap and worthless was the thing they loved.
The saints of God and all devout friends of Christ did not
look to what pleases the body nor to the things that are popular
from time to time. Their whole hope and aim centered on the
everlasting good. Their whole desire pointed upward to the
lasting and invisible realm, lest the love of what is visible
drag them down to lower things.
Do not lose heart, then, my brother, in pursuing your
spiritual life. There is yet time, and your hour is not past.
Why delay your purpose? Arise! Begin at once and say: "Now is
the time to act, now is the time to fight, now is the proper
time to amend."
When you are troubled and afflicted, that is the time to gain
merit. You must pass through water and fire before coming to
rest. Unless you do violence to yourself you will not overcome
So long as we live in this fragile body, we can neither be
free from sin nor live without weariness and sorrow. Gladly
would we rest from all misery, but in losing innocence through
sin we also lost true blessedness. Therefore, we must have
patience and await the mercy of God until this iniquity passes,
until mortality is swallowed up in life.
How great is the frailty of human nature which is ever prone
to evil! Today you confess your sins and tomorrow you again
commit the sins which you confessed. One moment you resolve to
be careful, and yet after an hour you act as though you had made
We have cause, therefore, because of our frailty and
feebleness, to humble ourselves and never think anything great
of ourselves. Through neglect we may quickly lose that which by
God's grace we have acquired only through long, hard labor.
What, eventually, will become of us who so quickly grow
lukewarm? Woe to us if we presume to rest in peace and security
when actually there is no true holiness in our lives. It would
be beneficial for us, like good novices, to be instructed once
more in the principles of a good life, to see if there be hope
of amendment and greater spiritual progress in the future.
--- The Twenty-Third Chapter
THOUGHTS ON DEATH
VERY soon your life here will end; consider, then, what may
be in store for you elsewhere. Today we live; tomorrow we die
and are quickly forgotten. Oh, the dullness and hardness of a
heart which looks only to the present instead of preparing for
that which is to come!
Therefore, in every deed and every thought, act as though you
were to die this very day. If you had a good conscience you
would not fear death very much. It is better to avoid sin than
to fear death. If you are not prepared today, how will you be
prepared tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day; how do you know
you will have a tomorrow?
What good is it to live a long life when we amend that life
so little? Indeed, a long life does not always benefit us, but
on the contrary, frequently adds to our guilt. Would that in
this world we had lived well throughout one single day. Many
count up the years they have spent in religion but find their
lives made little holier. If it is so terrifying to die, it is
nevertheless possible that to live longer is more dangerous.
Blessed is he who keeps the moment of death ever before his eyes
and prepares for it every day.
If you have ever seen a man die, remember that you, too, must
go the same way. In the morning consider that you may not live
till evening, and when evening comes do not dare to promise
yourself the dawn. Be always ready, therefore, and so live that
death will never take you unprepared. Many die suddenly and
unexpectedly, for in the unexpected hour the Son of God will
come. When that last moment arrives you will begin to have a
quite different opinion of the life that is now entirely past
and you will regret very much that you were so careless and
How happy and prudent is he who tries now in life to be what
he wants to be found in death. Perfect contempt of the world, a
lively desire to advance in virtue, a love for discipline, the
works of penance, readiness to obey, self-denial, and the
endurance of every hardship for the love of Christ, these will
give a man great expectations of a happy death.
You can do many good works when in good health; what can you
do when you are ill? Few are made better by sickness. Likewise
they who undertake many pilgrimages seldom become holy.
Do not put your trust in friends and relatives, and do not
put off the care of your soul till later, for men will forget
you more quickly than you think. It is better to provide now, in
time, and send some good account ahead of you than to rely on
the help of others. If you do not care for your own welfare now,
who will care when you are gone?
The present is very precious; these are the days of
salvation; now is the acceptable time. How sad that you do not
spend the time in which you might purchase everlasting life in a
better way. The time will come when you will want just one day,
just one hour in which to make amends, and do you know whether
you will obtain it?
See, then, dearly beloved, the great danger from which you
can free yourself and the great fear from which you can be
saved, if only you will always be wary and mindful of death. Try
to live now in such a manner that at the moment of death you may
be glad rather than fearful. Learn to die to the world now, that
then you may begin to live with Christ. Learn to spurn all
things now, that then you may freely go to Him. Chastise your
body in penance now, that then you may have the confidence born
Ah, foolish man, why do you plan to live long when you are
not sure of living even a day? How many have been deceived and
suddenly snatched away! How often have you heard of persons
being killed by drownings, by fatal falls from high places, of
persons dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the sword, in
pestilence, or at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of
everyone and the life of man quickly passes away like a shadow.
Who will remember you when you are dead? Who will pray for
you? Do now, beloved, what you can, because you do not know when
you will die, nor what your fate will be after death. Gather for
yourself the riches of immortality while you have time. Think of
nothing but your salvation. Care only for the things of God.
Make friends for yourself now by honoring the saints of God, by
imitating their actions, so that when you depart this life they
may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
Keep yourself as a stranger here on earth, a pilgrim whom its
affairs do not concern at all. Keep your heart free and raise it
up to God, for you have not here a lasting home. To Him direct
your daily prayers, your sighs and tears, that your soul may
merit after death to pass in happiness to the Lord.
--- The Twenty-Fourth Chapter
JUDGMENT AND THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN
IN ALL things consider the end; how you shall stand before
the strict Judge from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will
pronounce judgment in all justice, accepting neither bribes nor
excuses. And you, miserable and wretched sinner, who fear even
the countenance of an angry man, what answer will you make to
the God Who knows all your sins? Why do you not provide for
yourself against the day of judgment when no man can be excused
or defended by another because each will have enough to do to
answer for himself? In this life your work is profitable, your
tears acceptable, your sighs audible, your sorrow satisfying and
The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory
when he grieves more over the malice of one who harms him than
for his own injury; when he prays readily for his enemies and
forgives offenses from his heart; when he does not hesitate to
ask pardon of others; when he is more easily moved to pity than
to anger; when he does frequent violence to himself and tries to
bring the body into complete subjection to the spirit.
It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than
to keep them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we
deceive ourselves by our ill-advised love of the flesh. What
will that fire feed upon but our sins? The more we spare
ourselves now and the more we satisfy the flesh, the harder will
the reckoning be and the more we keep for the burning.
For a man will be more grievously punished in the things in
which he has sinned. There the lazy will be driven with burning
prongs, and gluttons tormented with unspeakable hunger and
thirst; the wanton and lust-loving will be bathed in burning
pitch and foul brimstone; the envious will howl in their grief
like mad dogs.
Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud
will be faced with every confusion and the avaricious pinched
with the most abject want. One hour of suffering there will be
more bitter than a hundred years of the most severe penance
here. In this life men sometimes rest from work and enjoy the
comfort of friends, but the damned have no rest or consolation.
You must, therefore, take care and repent of your sins now so
that on the day of judgment you may rest secure with the
blessed. For on that day the just will stand firm against those
who tortured and oppressed them, and he who now submits humbly
to the judgment of men will arise to pass judgment upon them.
The poor and humble will have great confidence, while the proud
will be struck with fear. He who learned to be a fool in this
world and to be scorned for Christ will then appear to have been
In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing
and the voice of iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be
glad; the irreligious will mourn; and the mortified body will
rejoice far more than if it had been pampered with every
pleasure. Then the cheap garment will shine with splendor and
the rich one become faded and worn; the poor cottage will be
more praised than the gilded palace. In that day persevering
patience will count more than all the power in this world;
simple obedience will be exalted above all worldly cleverness; a
good and clean conscience will gladden the heart of man far more
than the philosophy of the learned; and contempt for riches will
be of more weight than every treasure on earth.
Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly
than in having fared daintily; you will be happy that you
preferred silence to prolonged gossip.
Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair
words; strictness of life and hard penances will be more
pleasing than all earthly delights.
Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not
have to suffer greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can
bear hereafter. If you can suffer only a little now, how will
you be able to endure eternal torment? If a little suffering
makes you impatient now, what will hell fire do? In truth, you
cannot have two joys: you cannot taste the pleasures of this
world and afterward reign with Christ.
If your life to this moment had been full of honors and
pleasures, what good would it do if at this instant you should
die? All is vanity, therefore, except to love God and to serve
He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or
punishment or judgment or hell, because perfect love assures
access to God.
It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death
It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet
restrain you from evil, at least the fear of hell does. The man
who casts aside the fear of God cannot continue long in goodness
but will quickly fall into the snares of the devil.
--- The Twenty-Fifth Chapter
ZEAL IN AMENDING OUR LIVES
BE WATCHFUL and diligent in God's service and often think of
why you left the world and came here. Was it not that you might
live for God and become a spiritual man? Strive earnestly for
perfection, then, because in a short time you will receive the
reward of your labor, and neither fear nor sorrow shall come
upon you at the hour of death.
Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in
truth, eternal joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in
doing, God will undoubtedly be faithful and generous in
rewarding. Continue to have reasonable hope of gaining
salvation, but do not act as though you were certain of it lest
you grow indolent and proud.
One day when a certain man who wavered often and anxiously
between hope and fear was struck with sadness, he knelt in
humble prayer before the altar of a church. While meditating on
these things, he said: "Oh if I but knew whether I should
persevere to the end!" Instantly he heard within the divine
answer: "If you knew this, what would you do? Do now what you
would do then and you will be quite secure." Immediately
consoled and comforted, he resigned himself to the divine will
and the anxious uncertainty ceased. His curiosity no longer
sought to know what the future held for him, and he tried
instead to find the perfect, the acceptable will of God in the
beginning and end of every good work.
"Trust thou in the Lord and do good," says the Prophet;
"dwell in the land and thou shalt feed on its riches."
There is one thing that keeps many from zealously improving
their lives, that is, dread of the difficulty, the toil of
battle. Certainly they who try bravely to overcome the most
difficult and unpleasant obstacles far outstrip others in the
pursuit of virtue. A man makes the most progress and merits the
most grace precisely in those matters wherein he gains the
greatest victories over self and most mortifies his will. True,
each one has his own difficulties to meet and conquer, but a
diligent and sincere man will make greater progress even though
he have more passions than one who is more even-tempered but
less concerned about virtue.
Two things particularly further improvement -- to withdraw
oneself forcibly from those vices to which nature is viciously
inclined, and to work fervently for those graces which are most
Study also to guard against and to overcome the faults which
in others very frequently displease you. Make the best of every
opportunity, so that if you see or hear good example you may be
moved to imitate it. On the other hand, take care lest you be
guilty of those things which you consider reprehensible, or if
you have ever been guilty of them, try to correct yourself as
soon as possible. As you see others, so they see you.
How pleasant and sweet to behold brethren fervent and devout,
well mannered and disciplined! How sad and painful to see them
wandering in dissolution, not practicing the things to which
they are called! How hurtful it is to neglect the purpose of
their vocation and to attend to what is not their business!
Remember the purpose you have undertaken, and keep in mind
the image of the Crucified. Even though you may have walked for
many years on the pathway to God, you may well be ashamed if,
with the image of Christ before you, you do not try to make
yourself still more like Him.
The religious who concerns himself intently and devoutly with
our Lord's most holy life and passion will find there an
abundance of all things useful and necessary for him. He need
not seek for anything better than Jesus.
If the Crucified should come to our hearts, how quickly and
abundantly we would learn!
A fervent religious accepts all the things that are commanded
him and does them well, but a negligent and lukewarm religious
has trial upon trial, and suffers anguish from every side
because he has no consolation within and is forbidden to seek it
from without. The religious who does not live up to his rule
exposes himself to dreadful ruin, and he who wishes to be more
free and untrammeled will always be in trouble, for something or
other will always displease him.
How do so many other religious who are confined in cloistered
discipline get along? They seldom go out, they live in
contemplation, their food is poor, their clothing coarse, they
work hard, they speak but little, keep long vigils, rise early,
pray much, read frequently, and subject themselves to all sorts
of discipline. Think of the Carthusians and the Cistercians, the
monks and nuns of different orders, how every night they rise to
sing praise to the Lord. It would be a shame if you should grow
lazy in such holy service when so many religious have already
begun to rejoice in God.
If there were nothing else to do but praise the Lord God with
all your heart and voice, if you had never to eat, or drink, or
sleep, but could praise God always and occupy yourself solely
with spiritual pursuits, how much happier you would be than you
are now, a slave to every necessity of the body! Would that
there were no such needs, but only the spiritual refreshments of
the soul which, sad to say, we taste too seldom!
When a man reaches a point where he seeks no solace from any
creature, then he begins to relish God perfectly. Then also he
will be content no matter what may happen to him. He will
neither rejoice over great things nor grieve over small ones,
but will place himself entirely and confidently in the hands of
God, Who for him is all in all, to Whom nothing ever perishes or
dies, for Whom all things live, and Whom they serve as He
Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time
never returns. Without care and diligence you will never acquire
virtue. When you begin to grow lukewarm, you are falling into
the beginning of evil; but if you give yourself to fervor, you
will find peace and will experience less hardship because of
God's grace and the love of virtue.
A fervent and diligent man is ready for all things. It is
greater work to resist vices and passions than to sweat in
physical toil. He who does not overcome small faults, shall fall
little by little into greater ones.
If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be
happy at eventide. Watch over yourself, arouse yourself, warn
yourself, and regardless of what becomes of others, do not
neglect yourself. The more violence you do to yourself, the more
progress you will make.
THE INTERIOR LIFE
--- The First Chapter
THE kingdom of God is within you," says the Lord.
Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched
world and your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external
things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you
will see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is
peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the
Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you
prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and
glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits
with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full
of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful
Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this
Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you; He Himself
says: "If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father
will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode
Give place, then, to Christ, but deny entrance to all others,
for when you have Christ you are rich and He is sufficient for
you. He will provide for you. He will supply your every want, so
that you need not trust in frail, changeable men. Christ remains
forever, standing firmly with us to the end.
Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful
and friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he
sometimes opposes and contradicts you. Those who are with us
today may be against us tomorrow, and vice versa, for men change
with the wind. Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear
and your love. He will answer for you; He will do what is best
You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a
pilgrim wherever you may be, and you shall have no rest until
you are wholly united with Christ.
Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your
repose? Dwell rather upon heaven and give but a passing glance
to all earthly things. They all pass away, and you together with
them. Take care, then, that you do not cling to them lest you be
entrapped and perish. Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray
unceasingly to Christ.
If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct
your thoughts to Christ's passion and willingly behold His
sacred wounds. If you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious
stigmata of Christ, you will find great comfort in suffering,
you will mind but little the scorn of men, and you will easily
bear their slanderous talk.
When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the
hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by
friends to the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to
be despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies
and defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your
benefactor? How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity
test it? How can you be a friend of Christ if you are not
willing to suffer any hardship? Suffer with Christ and for
Christ if you wish to reign with Him.
Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or
tasted a little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at
all for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the
reproach you suffer; for love of Him makes a man despise
A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth, a truly interior
man who is free from uncontrolled affections, can turn to God at
will and rise above himself to enjoy spiritual peace.
He who tastes life as it really is, not as men say or think
it is, is indeed wise with the wisdom of God rather than of men.
He who learns to live the interior life and to take little
account of outward things, does not seek special places or times
to perform devout exercises. A spiritual man quickly recollects
himself because he has never wasted his attention upon
externals. No outside work, no business that cannot wait stands
in his way. He adjusts himself to things as they happen. He
whose disposition is well ordered cares nothing about the
strange, perverse behavior of others, for a man is upset and
distracted only in proportion as he engrosses himself in
If all were well with you, therefore, and if you were
purified from all sin, everything would tend to your good and be
to your profit. But because you are as yet neither entirely dead
to self nor free from all earthly affection, there is much that
often displeases and disturbs you. Nothing so mars and defiles
the heart of man as impure attachment to created things. But if
you refuse external consolation, you will be able to contemplate
heavenly things and often to experience interior joy.
--- The Second Chapter
BE NOT troubled about those who are with you or against you,
but take care that God be with you in everything you do. Keep
your conscience clear and God will protect you, for the malice
of man cannot harm one whom God wishes to help. If you know how
to suffer in silence, you will undoubtedly experience God's
help. He knows when and how to deliver you; therefore, place
yourself in His hands, for it is a divine prerogative to help
men and free them from all distress.
It is often good for us to have others know our faults and
rebuke them, for it gives us greater humility. When a man
humbles himself because of his faults, he easily placates those
about him and readily appeases those who are angry with him.
It is the humble man whom God protects and liberates; it is
the humble whom He loves and consoles. To the humble He turns
and upon them bestows great grace, that after their humiliation
He may raise them up to glory. He reveals His secrets to the
humble, and with kind invitation bids them come to Him. Thus,
the humble man enjoys peace in the midst of many vexations,
because his trust is in God, not in the world. Hence, you must
not think that you have made any progress until you look upon
yourself as inferior to all others.
--- The Third Chapter
GOODNESS AND PEACE IN MAN
FIRST keep peace with yourself; then you will be able to
bring peace to others. A peaceful man does more good than a
learned man. Whereas a passionate man turns even good to evil
and is quick to believe evil, the peaceful man, being good
himself, turns all things to good.
The man who is at perfect ease is never suspicious, but the
disturbed and discontented spirit is upset by many a suspicion.
He neither rests himself nor permits others to do so. He often
says what ought not to be said and leaves undone what ought to
be done. He is concerned with the duties of others but neglects
Direct your zeal, therefore, first upon yourself; then you
may with justice exercise it upon those about you. You are well
versed in coloring your own actions with excuses which you will
not accept from others, though it would be more just to accuse
yourself and excuse your brother. If you wish men to bear with
you, you must bear with them. Behold, how far you are from true
charity and humility which does not know how to be angry with
anyone, or to be indignant save only against self!
It is no great thing to associate with the good and gentle,
for such association is naturally pleasing. Everyone enjoys a
peaceful life and prefers persons of congenial habits. But to be
able to live at peace with harsh and perverse men, or with the
undisciplined and those who irritate us, is a great grace, a
praiseworthy and manly thing.
Some people live at peace with themselves and with their
fellow men, but others are never at peace with themselves nor do
they bring it to anyone else. These latter are a burden to
everyone, but they are more of a burden to themselves. A few,
finally, live at peace with themselves and try to restore it to
Now, all our peace in this miserable life is found in humbly
enduring suffering rather than in being free from it. He who
knows best how to suffer will enjoy the greater peace, because
he is the conqueror of himself, the master of the world, a
friend of Christ, and an heir of heaven.
--- The Fourth Chapter
PURITY OF MIND AND UNITY OF PURPOSE
A MAN is raised up from the earth by two wings -- simplicity
and purity. There must be simplicity in his intention and purity
in his desires. Simplicity leads to God, purity embraces and
If your heart is free from ill-ordered affection, no good
deed will be difficult for you. If you aim at and seek after
nothing but the pleasure of God and the welfare of your
neighbor, you will enjoy freedom within.
If your heart were right, then every created thing would be a
mirror of life for you and a book of holy teaching, for there is
no creature so small and worthless that it does not show forth
the goodness of God. If inwardly you were good and pure, you
would see all things clearly and understand them rightly, for a
pure heart penetrates to heaven and hell, and as a man is
within, so he judges what is without. If there be joy in the
world, the pure of heart certainly possess it; and if there be
anguish and affliction anywhere, an evil conscience knows it too
As iron cast into fire loses its rust and becomes glowing
white, so he who turns completely to God is stripped of his
sluggishness and changed into a new man. When a man begins to
grow lax, he fears a little toil and welcomes external comfort,
but when he begins perfectly to conquer himself and to walk
bravely in the ways of God, then he thinks those things less
difficult which he thought so hard before.
--- The Fifth Chapter
WE MUST not rely too much upon ourselves, for grace and
understanding are often lacking in us. We have but little inborn
light, and this we quickly lose through negligence. Often we are
not aware that we are so blind in heart. Meanwhile we do wrong,
and then do worse in excusing it. At times we are moved by
passion, and we think it zeal. We take others to task for small
mistakes, and overlook greater ones in ourselves. We are quick
enough to feel and brood over the things we suffer from others,
but we think nothing of how much others suffer from us. If a man
would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly, he would find
little cause to pass severe judgment on others.
The interior man puts the care of himself before all other
concerns, and he who attends to himself carefully does not find
it hard to hold his tongue about others. You will never be
devout of heart unless you are thus silent about the affairs of
others and pay particular attention to yourself. If you attend
wholly to God and yourself, you will be little disturbed by what
you see about you.
Where are your thoughts when they are not upon yourself? And
after attending to various things, what have you gained if you
have neglected self? If you wish to have true peace of mind and
unity of purpose, you must cast all else aside and keep only
yourself before your eyes.
You will make great progress if you keep yourself free from
all temporal cares, for to value anything that is temporal is a
great mistake. Consider nothing great, nothing high, nothing
pleasing, nothing acceptable, except God Himself or that which
is of God. Consider the consolations of creatures as vanity, for
the soul that loves God scorns all things that are inferior to
Him. God alone, the eternal and infinite, satisfies all,
bringing comfort to the soul and true joy to the body.
--- The Sixth Chapter
THE JOY OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE
THE glory of a good man is the testimony of a good
conscience. Therefore, keep your conscience good and you will
always enjoy happiness, for a good conscience can bear a great
deal and can bring joy even in the midst of adversity. But an
evil conscience is ever restive and fearful.
Sweet shall be your rest if your heart does not reproach you.
Do not rejoice unless you have done well. Sinners never
experience true interior joy or peace, for "there is no peace to
the wicked," says the Lord.
Even if they say: "We are at peace, no evil shall befall us and
no one dares to hurt us," do not believe them; for the wrath of
God will arise quickly, and their deeds will be brought to
naught and their thoughts will perish.
To glory in adversity is not hard for the man who loves, for
this is to glory in the cross of the Lord. But the glory given
or received of men is short lived, and the glory of the world is
ever companioned by sorrow. The glory of the good, however, is
in their conscience and not in the lips of men, for the joy of
the just is from God and in God, and their gladness is founded
The man who longs for the true, eternal glory does not care
for that of time; and he who seeks passing fame or does not in
his heart despise it, undoubtedly cares little for the glory of
He who minds neither praise nor blame possesses great peace
of heart and, if his conscience is good, he will easily be
contented and at peace.
Praise adds nothing to your holiness, nor does blame take
anything from it. You are what you are, and you cannot be said
to be better than you are in God's sight. If you consider well
what you are within, you will not care what men say about you.
They look to appearances but God looks to the heart. They
consider the deed but God weighs the motive.
It is characteristic of a humble soul always to do good and
to think little of itself. It is a mark of great purity and deep
faith to look for no consolation in created things. The man who
desires no justification from without has clearly entrusted
himself to God: "For not he who commendeth himself is approved,"
says St. Paul, "but he whom God commendeth."
To walk with God interiorly, to be free from any external
affection -- this is the state of the inward man.
--- The Seventh Chapter
Loving Jesus Above All Things
BLESSED is he who appreciates what it is to love Jesus and
who despises himself for the sake of Jesus. Give up all other
love for His, since He wishes to be loved alone above all
Affection for creatures is deceitful and inconstant, but the
love of Jesus is true and enduring. He who clings to a creature
will fall with its frailty, but he who gives himself to Jesus
will ever be strengthened.
Love Him, then; keep Him as a friend. He will not leave you
as others do, or let you suffer lasting death. Sometime, whether
you will or not, you will have to part with everything. Cling,
therefore, to Jesus in life and death; trust yourself to the
glory of Him who alone can help you when all others fail.
Your Beloved is such that He will not accept what belongs to
another -- He wants your heart for Himself alone, to be
enthroned therein as King in His own right. If you but knew how
to free yourself entirely from all creatures, Jesus would gladly
dwell within you.
You will find, apart from Him, that nearly all the trust you
place in men is a total loss. Therefore, neither confide in nor
depend upon a wind-shaken reed, for "all flesh is grass"
and all its glory, like the flower of grass, will fade away.
You will quickly be deceived if you look only to the outward
appearance of men, and you will often be disappointed if you
seek comfort and gain in them. If, however, you seek Jesus in
all things, you will surely find Him. Likewise, if you seek
yourself, you will find yourself -- to your own ruin. For the
man who does not seek Jesus does himself much greater harm than
the whole world and all his enemies could ever do.
--- The Eighth Chapter
THE INTIMATE FRIENDSHIP OF JESUS
WHEN Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult.
When He is absent, all is hard. When Jesus does not speak
within, all other comfort is empty, but if He says only a word,
it brings great consolation.
Did not Mary Magdalen rise at once from her weeping when
Martha said to her: "The Master is come, and calleth for thee"?
Happy is the hour when Jesus calls one from tears to joy of
How dry and hard you are without Jesus! How foolish and vain
if you desire anything but Him! Is it not a greater loss than
losing the whole world? For what, without Jesus, can the world
give you? Life without Him is a relentless hell, but living with
Him is a sweet paradise. If Jesus be with you, no enemy can harm
He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure, indeed, a good
above every good, whereas he who loses Him loses more than the
whole world. The man who lives without Jesus is the poorest of
the poor, whereas no one is so rich as the man who lives in His
It is a great art to know how to converse with Jesus, and
great wisdom to know how to keep Him. Be humble and peaceful,
and Jesus will be with you. Be devout and calm, and He will
remain with you. You may quickly drive Him away and lose His
grace, if you turn back to the outside world. And, if you drive
Him away and lose Him, to whom will you go and whom will you
then seek as a friend? You cannot live well without a friend,
and if Jesus be not your friend above all else, you will be very
sad and desolate. Thus, you are acting foolishly if you trust or
rejoice in any other. Choose the opposition of the whole world
rather than offend Jesus. Of all those who are dear to you, let
Him be your special love. Let all things be loved for the sake
of Jesus, but Jesus for His own sake.
Jesus Christ must be loved alone with a special love for He
alone, of all friends, is good and faithful. For Him and in Him
you must love friends and foes alike, and pray to Him that all
may know and love Him.
Never desire special praise or love, for that belongs to God
alone Who has no equal. Never wish that anyone's affection be
centered in you, nor let yourself be taken up with the love of
anyone, but let Jesus be in you and in every good man. Be pure
and free within, unentangled with any creature.
You must bring to God a clean and open heart if you wish to
attend and see how sweet the Lord is. Truly you will never
attain this happiness unless His grace prepares you and draws
you on so that you may forsake all things to be united with Him
When the grace of God comes to a man he can do all things,
but when it leaves him he becomes poor and weak, abandoned, as
it were, to affliction. Yet, in this condition he should not
become dejected or despair. On the contrary, he should calmly
await the will of God and bear whatever befalls him in praise of
Jesus Christ, for after winter comes summer, after night, the
day, and after the storm, a great calm.
--- The Ninth Chapter
WANTING NO SHARE IN COMFORT
IT IS not hard to spurn human consolation when we have the
divine. It is, however, a very great thing indeed to be able to
live without either divine or human comforting and for the honor
of God willingly to endure this exile of heart, not to seek
oneself in anything, and to think nothing of one's own merit.
Does it matter much, if at the coming of grace, you are
cheerful and devout? This is an hour desired by all, for he whom
the grace of God sustains travels easily enough. What wonder if
he feel no burden when borne up by the Almighty and led on by
the Supreme Guide! For we are always glad to have something to
comfort us, and only with difficulty does a man divest himself
The holy martyr, Lawrence, with his priest, conquered the
world because he despised everything in it that seemed pleasing
to him, and for love of Christ patiently suffered the great high
priest of God, Sixtus, whom he loved dearly, to be taken from
him. Thus, by his love for the Creator he overcame the love of
man, and chose instead of human consolation the good pleasure of
God. So you, too, must learn to part with an intimate and
much-needed friend for the love of God. Do not take it to heart
when you are deserted by a friend, knowing that in the end we
must all be parted from one another.
A man must fight long and bravely against himself before he
learns to master himself fully and to direct all his affections
toward God. When he trusts in himself, he easily takes to human
consolation. The true lover of Christ, however, who sincerely
pursues virtue, does not fall back upon consolations nor seek
such pleasures of sense, but prefers severe trials and hard
labors for the sake of Christ.
When, therefore, spiritual consolation is given by God,
receive it gratefully, but understand that it is His gift and
not your meriting. Do not exult, do not be overjoyed, do not be
presumptuous, but be the humbler for the gift, more careful and
wary in all your actions, for this hour will pass and temptation
will come in its wake.
When consolation is taken away, do not at once despair but
wait humbly and patiently for the heavenly visit, since God can
restore to you more abundant solace.
This is neither new nor strange to one who knows God's ways,
for such change of fortune often visited the great saints and
prophets of old. Thus there was one who, when grace was with
him, declared: "In my prosperity I said: 'I shall never be
moved.'" But when grace was taken away, he adds what he
experienced in himself: "Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was
troubled." Meanwhile he does not despair; rather he prays more
earnestly to the Lord, saying: "To Thee, O Lord, will I cry; and
I will make supplication to my God." At length, he receives the
fruit of his prayer, and testifying that he was heard, says "The
Lord hath heard, and hath had mercy on me: the Lord became my
helper." And how was he helped? "Thou hast turned," he says, "my
mourning into joy, and hast surrounded me with gladness."
If this is the case with great saints, we who are weak and
poor ought not to despair because we are fervent at times and at
other times cold, for the spirit comes and goes according to His
will. Of this the blessed Job declared: "Thou visitest him early
in the morning, and Thou provest him suddenly."
In what can I hope, then, or in whom ought I trust, save only
in the great mercy of God and the hope of heavenly grace? For
though I have with me good men, devout brethren, faithful
friends, holy books, beautiful treatises, sweet songs and hymns,
all these help and please but little when I am abandoned by
grace and left to my poverty. At such times there is no better
remedy than patience and resignation of self to the will of God.
I have never met a man so religious and devout that he has
not experienced at some time a withdrawal of grace and felt a
lessening of fervor. No saint was so sublimely rapt and
enlightened as not to be tempted before and after. He, indeed,
is not worthy of the sublime contemplation of God who has not
been tried by some tribulation for the sake of God. For
temptation is usually the sign preceding the consolation that is
to follow, and heavenly consolation is promised to all those
proved by temptation. "To him that overcometh," says Christ, "I
will give to eat of the Tree of Life."
Divine consolation, then, is given in order to make a man braver
in enduring adversity, and temptation follows in order that he
may not pride himself on the good he has done.
The devil does not sleep, nor is the flesh yet dead;
therefore, you must never cease your preparation for battle,
because on the right and on the left are enemies who never rest.
--- The Tenth Chapter
APPRECIATING GOD'S GRACE
WHY do you look for rest when you were born to work? Resign
yourself to patience rather than to comfort, to carrying your
cross rather than to enjoyment.
What man in the world, if he could always have them, would
not readily accept consolation and spiritual joy, benefits which
excel all earthly delights and pleasures of the body? The
latter, indeed, are either vain or base, while spiritual joys,
born of virtue and infused by God into pure minds, are alone
truly pleasant and noble.
Now, since the moment of temptation is always nigh, since
false freedom of mind and overconfidence in self are serious
obstacles to these visitations from heaven, a man can never
enjoy them just as he wishes.
God does well in giving the grace of consolation, but man
does evil in not returning everything gratefully to God. Thus,
the gifts of grace cannot flow in us when we are ungrateful to
the Giver, when we do not return them to the Fountainhead. Grace
is always given to him who is duly grateful, and what is wont to
be given the humble will be taken away from the proud.
I do not desire consolation that robs me of contrition, nor
do I care for contemplation that leads to pride, for not all
that is high is holy, nor is all that is sweet good, nor every
desire pure, nor all that is dear to us pleasing to God. I
accept willingly the grace whereby I become more humble and
contrite, more willing to renounce self.
The man who has been taught by the gift of grace, and who
learns by the lash of its withdrawal, will never dare to
attribute any good to himself, but will rather admit his poverty
and emptiness. Give to God what is God's and ascribe to yourself
what is yours. Give Him thanks, then, for His grace, but place
upon yourself alone the blame and the punishment your fault
Always take the lowest place and the highest will be given
you, for the highest cannot exist apart from the lowest. The
saints who are greatest before God are those who consider
themselves the least, and the more humble they are within
themselves, so much the more glorious they are. Since they do
not desire vainglory, they are full of truth and heavenly glory.
Being established and strengthened in God, they can by no means
be proud. They attribute to God whatever good they have
received; they seek no glory from one another but only that
which comes from God alone. They desire above all things that He
be praised in themselves and in all His saints -- this is their
Be grateful, therefore, for the least gift and you will be
worthy to receive a greater. Consider the least gift as the
greatest, the most contemptible as something special. And, if
you but look to the dignity of the Giver, no gift will appear
too small or worthless. Even though He give punishments and
scourges, accept them, because He acts for our welfare in
whatever He allows to befall us.
He who desires to keep the grace of God ought to be grateful
when it is given and patient when it is withdrawn. Let him pray
that it return; let him be cautious and humble lest he lose it.
--- The Eleventh Chapter
FEW LOVE THE CROSS OF JESUS
JESUS has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few
who bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few
who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to
take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few
wish to suffer anything for Him. Many follow Him to the breaking
of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His passion.
Many revere His miracles; few approach the shame of the Cross.
Many love Him as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise
and bless Him as long as they receive some comfort from Him. But
if Jesus hides Himself and leaves them for a while, they fall
either into complaints or into deep dejection. Those, on the
contrary, who love Him for His own sake and not for any comfort
of their own, bless Him in all trial and anguish of heart as
well as in the bliss of consolation. Even if He should never
give them consolation, yet they would continue to praise Him and
wish always to give Him thanks. What power there is in pure love
for Jesus -- love that is flee from all self-interest and
Do not those who always seek consolation deserve to be called
mercenaries? Do not those who always think of their own profit
and gain prove that they love themselves rather than Christ?
Where can a man be found who desires to serve God for nothing?
Rarely indeed is a man so spiritual as to strip himself of all
things. And who shall find a man so truly poor in spirit as to
be free from every creature? His value is like that of things
brought from the most distant lands.
If a man give all his wealth, it is nothing; if he do great
penance, it is little; if he gain all knowledge, he is still far
afield; if he have great virtue and much ardent devotion, he
still lacks a great deal, and especially, the one thing that is
most necessary to him. What is this one thing? That leaving all,
he forsake himself, completely renounce himself, and give up all
private affections. Then, when he has done all that he knows
ought to be done, let him consider it as nothing, let him make
little of what may be considered great; let him in all honesty
call himself an unprofitable servant. For truth itself has said:
"When you shall have done all these things that are commanded
you, say: 'we are unprofitable servants.'"
Then he will be truly poor and stripped in spirit, and with
the prophet may say: "I am alone and poor."
No one, however, is more wealthy than such a man; no one is more
powerful, no one freer than he who knows how to leave all things
and think of himself as the least of all.
--- The Twelfth Chapter
THE ROYAL ROAD OF THE HOLY CROSS
TO MANY the saying, "Deny thyself, take up thy cross and
seems hard, but it will be much harder to hear that final word:
"Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire."
Those who hear the word of the cross and follow it willingly
now, need not fear that they will hear of eternal damnation on
the day of judgment. This sign of the cross will be in the
heavens when the Lord comes to judge. Then all the servants of
the cross, who during life made themselves one with the
Crucified, will draw near with great trust to Christ, the judge.
Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross when through it
you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross
is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross
is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of
mind, in the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is highest
virtue, in the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation
of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross.
Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Jesus, and you
shall enter eternal life. He Himself opened the way before you
in carrying His cross, and upon it He died for you, that you,
too, might take up your cross and long to die upon it. If you
die with Him, you shall also live with Him, and if you share His
suffering, you shall also share His glory.
Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon your dying on
the cross everything depends. There is no other way to life and
to true inward peace than the way of the holy cross and daily
mortification. Go where you will, seek what you will, you will
not find a higher way, nor a less exalted but safer way, than
the way of the holy cross. Arrange and order everything to suit
your will and judgment, and still you will find that some
suffering must always be borne, willingly or unwillingly, and
thus you will always find the cross.
Either you will experience bodily pain or you will undergo
tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be
forsaken by God, at times troubled by those about you and, what
is worse, you will often grow weary of yourself. You cannot
escape, you cannot be relieved by any remedy or comfort but must
bear with it as long as God wills. For He wishes you to learn to
bear trial without consolation, to submit yourself wholly to Him
that you may become more humble through suffering. No one
understands the passion of Christ so thoroughly or heartily as
the man whose lot it is to suffer the like himself.
The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you
everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it,
for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always
find yourself. Turn where you will -- above, below, without, or
within -- you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere
you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit
an eternal crown.
If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you
to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more
suffering, but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly,
you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though
still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will
find another and perhaps a heavier one. Do you expect to escape
what no mortal man can ever avoid? Which of the saints was
without a cross or trial on this earth? Not even Jesus Christ,
our Lord, Whose every hour on earth knew the pain of His
passion. "It behooveth Christ to suffer, and to rise again from
the dead, . . . and so enter into his glory."
How is it that you look for another way than this, the royal way
of the holy cross?
The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, and do
you seek rest and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself,
you are mistaken if you seek anything but to suffer, for this
mortal life is full of miseries and marked with crosses on all
sides. Indeed, the more spiritual progress a person makes, so
much heavier will he frequently find the cross, because as his
love increases, the pain of his exile also increases.
Yet such a man, though afflicted in many ways, is not without
hope of consolation, because he knows that great reward is
coming to him for bearing his cross. And when he carries it
willingly, every pang of tribulation is changed into hope of
solace from God. Besides, the more the flesh is distressed by
affliction, so much the more is the spirit strengthened by
inward grace. Not infrequently a man is so strengthened by his
love of trials and hardship in his desire to conform to the
cross of Christ, that he does not wish to be without sorrow or
pain, since he believes he will be the more acceptable to God if
he is able to endure more and more grievous things for His sake.
It is the grace of Christ, and not the virtue of man, which
can and does bring it about that through fervor of spirit frail
flesh learns to love and to gain what it naturally hates and
To carry the cross, to love the cross, to chastise the body
and bring it to subjection, to flee honors, to endure contempt
gladly, to despise self and wish to be despised, to suffer any
adversity and loss, to desire no prosperous days on earth --
this is not man's way. If you rely upon yourself, you can do
none of these things, but if you trust in the Lord, strength
will be given you from heaven and the world and the flesh will
be made subject to your word. You will not even fear your enemy,
the devil, if you are armed with faith and signed with the cross
Set yourself, then, like a good and faithful servant of
Christ, to bear bravely the cross of your Lord, Who out of love
was crucified for you. Be ready to suffer many adversities and
many kinds of trouble in this miserable life, for troublesome
and miserable life will always be, no matter where you are; and
so you will find it wherever you may hide. Thus it must be; and
there is no way to evade the trials and sorrows of life but to
Drink the chalice of the Lord with affection it you wish to
be His friend and to have part with Him. Leave consolation to
God; let Him do as most pleases Him. On your part, be ready to
bear sufferings and consider them the greatest consolation, for
even though you alone were to undergo them all, the sufferings
of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory to
When you shall have come to the point where suffering is
sweet and acceptable for the sake of Christ, then consider
yourself fortunate, for you have found paradise on earth. But as
long as suffering irks you and you seek to escape, so long will
you be unfortunate, and the tribulation you seek to evade will
follow you everywhere. If you put your mind to the things you
ought to consider, that is, to suffering and death, you would
soon be in a better state and would find peace.
Although you were taken to the third heaven with Paul, you
were not thereby insured against suffering. Jesus said: "I will
show him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake."
To suffer, then, remains your lot, if you mean to love Jesus and
serve Him forever.
If you were but worthy to suffer something for the name of
Jesus, what great glory would be in store for you, what great
joy to all the saints of God, what great edification to those
about you! For all men praise patience though there are few who
wish to practice it.
With good reason, then, ought you to be willing to suffer a
little for Christ since many suffer much more for the world.
Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more a man dies
to himself, the more he begins to live unto God.
No man is fit to enjoy heaven unless he has resigned himself
to suffer hardship for Christ. Nothing is more acceptable to
God, nothing more helpful for you on this earth than to suffer
willingly for Christ. If you had to make a choice, you ought to
wish rather to suffer for Christ than to enjoy many
consolations, for thus you would be more like Christ and more
like all the saints. Our merit and progress consist not in many
pleasures and comforts but rather in enduring great afflictions
If, indeed, there were anything better or more useful for
man's salvation than suffering, Christ would have shown it by
word and example. But He clearly exhorts the disciples who
follow Him and all who wish to follow Him to carry the cross,
saying: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
When, therefore, we have read and searched all that has been
written, let this be the final conclusion -- that through much
suffering we must enter into the kingdom of God.
--- The First Chapter
THE INWARD CONVERSATION OF CHRIST WITH THE FAITHFUL SOUL
I WILL hear what the Lord God will speak in me."
Blessed is the soul who hears the Lord speaking within her,
who receives the word of consolation from His lips. Blessed are
the ears that catch the accents of divine whispering, and pay no
heed to the murmurings of this world. Blessed indeed are the
ears that listen, not to the voice which sounds without, but to
the truth which teaches within. Blessed are the eyes which are
closed to exterior things and are fixed upon those which are
interior. Blessed are they who penetrate inwardly, who try daily
to prepare themselves more and more to understand mysteries.
Blessed are they who long to give their time to God, and who cut
themselves off from the hindrances of the world.
Consider these things, my soul, and close the door of your
senses, so that you can hear what the Lord your God speaks
within you. "I am your salvation," says your Beloved. "I am your
peace and your life. Remain with Me and you will find peace.
Dismiss all passing things and seek the eternal. What are all
temporal things but snares? And what help will all creatures be
able to give you if you are deserted by the Creator?" Leave all
these things, therefore, and make yourself pleasing and faithful
to your Creator so that you may attain to true happiness.
--- The Second Chapter
TRUTH SPEAKS INWARDLY WITHOUT THE SOUND OF WORDS
SPEAK, Lord, for Thy servant heareth."
"I am Thy servant. Give me understanding that I may know Thine
. . . Incline my heart to Thine ordinances
. . . Let Thy speech distil as the dew."
The children of Israel once said to Moses: "Speak thou to us
and we will hear thee: let not the Lord speak to us, lest we
Not so, Lord, not so do I pray. Rather with Samuel the
prophet I entreat humbly and earnestly: "Speak, Lord, for Thy
servant heareth." Do not let Moses or any of the prophets speak
to me; but You speak, O Lord God, Who inspired and enlightened
all the prophets; for You alone, without them, can instruct me
perfectly, whereas they, without You, can do nothing. They,
indeed, utter fine words, but they cannot impart the spirit.
They do indeed speak beautifully, but if You remain silent they
cannot inflame the heart. They deliver the message; You lay bare
the sense. They place before us mysteries, but You unlock their
meaning. They proclaim commandments; You help us to keep them.
They point out the way; You give strength for the journey. They
work only outwardly; You instruct and enlighten our hearts. They
water on the outside; You give the increase.
They cry out words; You give understanding to the hearer.
Let not Moses speak to me, therefore, but You, the Lord my
God, everlasting truth, speak lest I die and prove barren if I
am merely given outward advice and am not inflamed within; lest
the word heard and not kept, known and not loved, believed and
not obeyed, rise up in judgment against me.
Speak, therefore, Lord, for Your servant listens. "Thou hast
the words of eternal life."
Speak to me for the comfort of my soul and for the amendment of
my life, for Your praise, Your glory, and Your everlasting
--- The Third Chapter
LISTEN HUMBLY TO THE WORDS OF GOD. MANY DO NOT HEED THEM
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, hear My words, words of greatest sweetness
surpassing all the knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of
earth. My words are spirit and life, and they are not to be
weighed by man's understanding. They are not to be invoked in
vanity but are to be heard in silence, and accepted with all
humility and with great affection.
"Happy is the man whom Thou admonishest, O Lord, and teachest
out of Thy law, to give him peace from the days of evil,"
and that he be not desolate on earth.
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
I taught the prophets from the beginning, and even to this
day I continue to speak to all men. But many are hardened. Many
are deaf to My voice. Most men listen more willingly to the
world than to God. They are more ready to follow the appetite of
their flesh than the good pleasure of God. The world, which
promises small and passing things, is served with great
eagerness: I promise great and eternal things and the hearts of
men grow dull. Who is there that serves and obeys Me in all
things with as great care as that with which the world and its
masters are served?
"Be thou ashamed, O Sidon, for the sea speaketh."
And if you ask why, listen to the cause: for a small gain they
travel far; for eternal life many will scarcely lift a foot from
the ground. They seek a petty reward, and sometimes fight
shamefully in law courts for a single piece of money. They are
not afraid to work day and night for a trifle or an empty
promise. But, for an unchanging good, for a reward beyond
estimate, for the greatest honor and for glory everlasting, it
must be said to their shame that men begrudge even the least
fatigue. Be ashamed, then, lazy and complaining servant, that
they should be found more eager for perdition than you are for
life, that they rejoice more in vanity than you in truth.
Sometimes indeed their expectations fail them, but My promise
never deceives, nor does it send away empty-handed him who
trusts in Me. What I have promised I will give. What I have said
I will fulfill, if only a man remain faithful in My love to the
end. I am the rewarder of all the good, the strong approver of
all who are devoted to Me.
Write My words in your heart and meditate on them earnestly,
for in time of temptation they will be very necessary. What you
do not understand when you read, you will learn in the day of
visitation. I am wont to visit My elect in two ways -- by
temptation and by consolation. To them I read two lessons daily
-- one reproving their vices, the other exhorting them to
progress in virtue. He who has My words and despises them has
that which shall condemn him on the last day.
A PRAYER FOR THE GRACE OF DEVOTION
O Lord my God, You are all my good. And who am I that I
should dare to speak to You? I am Your poorest and meanest
servant, a vile worm, much more poor and contemptible than I
know or dare to say. Yet remember me, Lord, because I am
nothing, I have nothing, and I can do nothing. You alone are
good, just, and holy. You can do all things, You give all
things, You fill all things: only the sinner do You leave
empty-handed. Remember Your tender mercies and fill my heart
with Your grace, You Who will not allow Your works to be in
vain. How can I bear this life of misery unless You comfort me
with Your mercy and grace? Do not turn Your face from me. Do not
delay Your visitation. Do not withdraw Your consolation, lest in
Your sight my soul become as desert land. Teach me, Lord, to do
Your will. Teach me to live worthily and humbly in Your sight,
for You are my wisdom Who know me truly, and Who knew me even
before the world was made and before I was born into it.
--- The Fourth Chapter
WE MUST WALK BEFORE GOD IN HUMILITY AND TRUTH
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, walk before Me in truth, and seek Me always in the
simplicity of your heart. He who walks before Me in truth shall
be defended from the attacks of evil, and the truth shall free
him from seducers and from the slanders of wicked men. For if
the truth has made you free, then you shall be free indeed, and
you shall not care for the vain words of men.
O Lord, it is true. I ask that it be with me as You say. Let
your truth teach me. Let it guard me, and keep me safe to the
end. Let it free me from all evil affection and badly ordered
love, and I shall walk with You in great freedom of heart.
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
I shall teach you those things which are right and pleasing
to Me. Consider your sins with great displeasure and sorrow, and
never think yourself to be someone because of your good works.
You are truly a sinner. You are subject to many passions and
entangled in them. Of yourself you always tend to nothing. You
fall quickly, are quickly overcome, quickly troubled, and
quickly undone. You have nothing in which you can glory, but you
have many things for which you should think yourself vile, for
you are much weaker than you can comprehend. Hence, let none of
the things you do seem great to you. Let nothing seem important
or precious or desirable except that which is everlasting. Let
the eternal truth please you above all things, and let your
extreme unworthiness always displease you. Fear nothing, abhor
nothing, and fly nothing as you do your own vices and sins;
these should be more unpleasant for you than any material
Some men walk before Me without sincerity. Led on by a
certain curiosity and arrogance, they wish to know My secrets
and to understand the high things of God, to the neglect of
themselves and their own salvation. Through their own pride and
curiosity, and because I am against them, such men often fall
into great temptations and sins.
Fear the judgments of God! Dread the wrath of the Almighty!
Do not discuss the works of the Most High, but examine your sins
-- in what serious things you have offended and how many good
things you have neglected.
Some carry their devotion only in books, some in pictures,
some in outward signs and figures. Some have Me on their lips
when there is little of Me in their hearts. Others, indeed, with
enlightened understanding and purified affections, constantly
long for everlasting things; they are unwilling to hear of
earthly affairs and only with reluctance do they serve the
necessities of nature. These sense what the Spirit of truth
speaks within them: for He teaches them to despise earthly
things and to love those of heaven, to neglect the world, and
each day and night to desire heaven.
--- The Fifth Chapter
THE WONDERFUL EFFECT OF DIVINE LOVE
I BLESS You, O heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus
Christ, for having condescended to remember me, a poor creature.
Thanks to You, O Father of mercies, God of all consolation, Who
with Your comfort sometimes refresh me, who am not worthy of it.
I bless You always and glorify You with Your only-begotten Son
and the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, forever and ever.
Ah, Lord God, my holy Lover, when You come into my heart, all
that is within me will rejoice. You are my glory and the
exultation of my heart. You are my hope and refuge in the day of
my tribulation. But because my love is as yet weak and my virtue
imperfect, I must be strengthened and comforted by You. Visit me
often, therefore, and teach me Your holy discipline. Free me
from evil passions and cleanse my heart of all disorderly
affection so that, healed and purified within, I may be fit to
love, strong to suffer, and firm to persevere.
Love is an excellent thing, a very great blessing, indeed. It
makes every difficulty easy, and bears all wrongs with
equanimity. For it bears a burden without being weighted and
renders sweet all that is bitter. The noble love of Jesus spurs
to great deeds and excites longing for that which is more
perfect. Love tends upward; it will not be held down by anything
low. Love wishes to be free and estranged from all worldly
affections, lest its inward sight be obstructed, lest it be
entangled in any temporal interest and overcome by adversity.
Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger or higher or
wider; nothing is more pleasant, nothing fuller, and nothing
better in heaven or on earth, for love is born of God and cannot
rest except in God, Who is above all created things.
One who is in love flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free, not
bound. He gives all for all and possesses all in all, because he
rests in the one sovereign Good, Who is above all things, and
from Whom every good flows and proceeds. He does not look to the
gift but turns himself above all gifts to the Giver.
Love often knows no limits but overflows all bounds. Love
feels no burden, thinks nothing of troubles, attempts more than
it is able, and does not plead impossibility, because it
believes that it may and can do all things. For this reason, it
is able to do all, performing and effecting much where he who
does not love fails and falls.
Love is watchful. Sleeping, it does not slumber. Wearied, it
is not tired. Pressed, it is not straitened. Alarmed, it is not
confused, but like a living flame, a burning torch, it forces
its way upward and passes unharmed through every obstacle.
If a man loves, he will know the sound of this voice. For
this warm affection of soul is a loud voice crying in the ears
of God, and it says: "My God, my love, You are all mine and I am
all Yours. Give me an increase of love, that I may learn to
taste with the inward lips of my heart how sweet it is to love,
how sweet to be dissolved in love and bathe in it. Let me be
rapt in love. Let me rise above self in great fervor and wonder.
Let me sing the hymn of love, and let me follow You, my Love, to
the heights. Let my soul exhaust itself in praising You,
rejoicing out of love. Let me love You more than myself, and let
me not love myself except for Your sake. In You let me love all
those who truly love You, as the law of love, which shines forth
from You, commands."
Love is swift, sincere, kind, pleasant, and delightful. Love
is strong, patient and faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and
manly. Love is never self-seeking, for in whatever a person
seeks himself there he falls from love. Love is circumspect,
humble, and upright. It is neither soft nor light, nor intent
upon vain things. It is sober and chaste, firm and quiet,
guarded in all the senses. Love is subject and obedient to
superiors. It is mean and contemptible in its own eyes, devoted
and thankful to God; always trusting and hoping in Him even when
He is distasteful to it, for there is no living in love without
sorrow. He who is not ready to suffer all things and to stand
resigned to the will of the Beloved is not worthy to be called a
lover. A lover must embrace willingly all that is difficult and
bitter for the sake of the Beloved, and he should not turn away
from Him because of adversities.
--- The Sixth Chapter
THE PROVING OF A TRUE LOVER
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, you are not yet a brave and wise lover.
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
Because, on account of a slight difficulty you give up what
you have undertaken and are too eager to seek consolation.
The brave lover stands firm in temptations and pays no heed
to the crafty persuasions of the enemy. As I please him in
prosperity, so in adversity I am not displeasing to him. The
wise lover regards not so much the gift of Him Who loves as the
love of Him Who gives. He regards the affection of the Giver
rather than the value of the gift, and sets his Beloved above
all gifts. The noble lover does not rest in the gift but in Me
Who am above every gift.
All is not lost, then, if you sometimes feel less devout than
you wish toward Me or My saints. That good and sweet feeling
which you sometimes have is the effect of present grace and a
certain foretaste of your heavenly home. You must not lean upon
it too much, because it comes and goes. But to fight against
evil thoughts which attack you is a sign of virtue and great
merit. Do not, therefore, let strange fantasies disturb you, no
matter what they concern. Hold strongly to your resolution and
keep a right intention toward God.
It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy
and then quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart.
For these are evils which you suffer rather than commit; and so
long as they displease you and you struggle against them, it is
a matter of merit and not a loss.
You must know that the old enemy tries by all means in his
power to hinder your desire for good and to turn you from every
devotional practice, especially from the veneration of the
saints, from devout meditation on My passion, and from your firm
purpose of advancing in virtue. He suggests many evil thoughts
that he may cause you weariness and horror, and thus draw you
away from prayer and holy reading. A humble confession
displeases him and, if he could, he would make you omit Holy
Do not believe him or heed him, even though he often sets
traps to deceive you. When he suggests evil, unclean things,
accuse him. Say to him: "Away, unclean spirit! Shame, miserable
creature! You are but filth to bring such things to my ears.
Begone, most wretched seducer! You shall have no part in me, for
Jesus will be my strength, and you shall be confounded. I would
rather die and suffer all torments than consent to you. Be
still! Be silent! Though you bring many troubles upon me I will
have none of you. The Lord is my light, my salvation. Whom shall
I fear? Though armies unite against me, my heart will not fear,
for the Lord is my Helper, my Redeemer."
Fight like a good soldier and if you sometimes fall through
weakness, rise again with greater strength than before, trusting
in My most abundant grace. But beware of vain complacency and
pride. For many are led into error through these faults and
sometimes fall into almost perpetual blindness. Let the fall of
these, who proudly presume on self, be a warning to you and a
constant incentive to humility.
--- The Seventh Chapter
GRACE MUST BE HIDDEN UNDER THE MANTLE OF HUMILITY
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
IT IS better and safer for you to conceal the grace of
devotion, not to be elated by it, not to speak or think much of
it, and instead to humble yourself and fear lest it is being
given to one unworthy of it. Do not cling too closely to this
affection, for it may quickly be changed to its opposite. When
you are in grace, think how miserable and needy you are without
it. Your progress in spiritual life does not consist in having
the grace of consolation, but in enduring its withdrawal with
humility, resignation, and patience, so that you neither become
listless in prayer nor neglect your other duties in the least;
but on the contrary do what you can do as well as you know how,
and do not neglect yourself completely because of your dryness
or anxiety of mind.
There are many, indeed, who immediately become impatient and
lazy when things do not go well with them. The way of man,
however, does not always lie in his own power. It is God's
prerogative to give grace and to console when He wishes, as much
as He wishes, and whom He wishes, as it shall please Him and no
Some careless persons, misusing the grace of devotion, have
destroyed themselves because they wished to do more than they
were able. They failed to take account of their own weakness,
and followed the desire of their heart rather than the judgment
of their reason. Then, because they presumed to greater things
than pleased God they quickly lost His grace. They who had built
their homes in heaven became helpless, vile outcasts, humbled
and impoverished, that they might learn not to fly with their
own wings but to trust in Mine.
They who are still new and inexperienced in the way of the
Lord may easily be deceived and overthrown unless they guide
themselves by the advice of discreet persons. But if they wish
to follow their own notions rather than to trust in others who
are more experienced, they will be in danger of a sorry end, at
least if they are unwilling to be drawn from their vanity.
Seldom do they who are wise in their own conceits bear humbly
the guidance of others. Yet a little knowledge humbly and meekly
pursued is better than great treasures of learning sought in
vain complacency. It is better for you to have little than to
have much which may become the source of pride.
He who gives himself up entirely to enjoyment acts very
unwisely, for he forgets his former helplessness and that
chastened fear of the Lord which dreads to lose a proffered
grace. Nor is he very brave or wise who becomes too despondent
in times of adversity and difficulty and thinks less confidently
of Me than he should. He who wishes to be too secure in time of
peace will often become too dejected and fearful in time of
If you were wise enough to remain always humble and small in
your own eyes, and to restrain and rule your spirit well, you
would not fall so quickly into danger and offense.
When a spirit of fervor is enkindled within you, you may well
meditate on how you will feel when the fervor leaves. Then, when
this happens, remember that the light which I have withdrawn for
a time as a warning to you and for My own glory may again
return. Such trials are often more beneficial than if you had
things always as you wish. For a man's merits are not measured
by many visions or consolations, or by knowledge of the
Scriptures, or by his being in a higher position than others,
but by the truth of his humility, by his capacity for divine
charity, by his constancy in seeking purely and entirely the
honor of God, by his disregard and positive contempt of self,
and more, by preferring to be despised and humiliated rather
than honored by others.
--- The Eighth Chapter
SELF-ABASEMENT IN THE SIGHT OF GOD
I WILL speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. If I
consider myself anything more than this, behold You stand
against me, and my sins bear witness to the truth which I cannot
contradict. If I abase myself, however, if I humble myself to
nothingness, if I shrink from all self-esteem and account myself
as the dust which I am, Your grace will favor me, Your light
will enshroud my heart, and all self-esteem, no matter how
little, will sink in the depths of my nothingness to perish
It is there You show me to myself -- what I am, what I have
been, and what I am coming to; for I am nothing and I did not
know it. Left to myself, I am nothing but total weakness. But if
You look upon me for an instant, I am at once made strong and
filled with new joy. Great wonder it is that I, who of my own
weight always sink to the depths, am so suddenly lifted up, and
so graciously embraced by You.
It is Your love that does this, graciously upholding me,
supporting me in so many necessities, guarding me from so many
grave dangers, and snatching me, as I may truly say, from evils
without number. Indeed, by loving myself badly I lost myself; by
seeking only You and by truly loving You I have found both
myself and You, and by that love I have reduced myself more
profoundly to nothing. For You, O sweetest Lord, deal with me
above all my merits and above all that I dare to hope or ask.
May You be blessed, my God, for although I am unworthy of any
benefits, yet Your nobility and infinite goodness never cease to
do good even for those who are ungrateful and far from You.
Convert us to You, that we may be thankful, humble, and devout,
for You are our salvation, our courage, and our strength.
--- The Ninth Chapter
ALL THINGS SHOULD BE REFERRED TO GOD AS THEIR LAST END
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, I must be your supreme and last end, if you truly
desire to be blessed. With this intention your affections, which
are too often perversely inclined to self and to creatures, will
be purified. For if you seek yourself in anything, you
immediately fail interiorly and become dry of heart.
Refer all things principally to Me, therefore, for it is I
Who have given them all. Consider each thing as flowing from the
highest good, and therefore to Me, as to their highest source,
must all things be brought back.
From Me the small and the great, the poor and the rich draw
the water of life as from a living fountain, and they who serve
Me willingly and freely shall receive grace upon grace. He who
wishes to glory in things apart from Me, however, or to delight
in some good as his own, shall not be grounded in true joy or
gladdened in his heart, but shall be burdened and distressed in
many ways. Hence you ought not to attribute any good to yourself
or ascribe virtue to any man, but give all to God without Whom
man has nothing.
I have given all things. I will that all be returned to Me
again, and I exact most strictly a return of thanks. This is the
truth by which vainglory is put to flight.
Where heavenly grace and true charity enter in, there neither
envy nor narrowness of heart nor self-love will have place.
Divine love conquers all and enlarges the powers of the soul.
If you are truly wise, you will rejoice only in Me, because
no one is good except God alone, Who is to be praised above all
things and above all to be blessed.
--- The Tenth Chapter
TO DESPISE THE WORLD AND SERVE GOD IS SWEET
NOW again I will speak, Lord, and will not be silent. I will
speak to the hearing of my God, my Lord, and my King Who is in
heaven. How great, O Lord, is the multitude of Your mercies
which You have stored up for those who love You. But what are
You to those who love You? What are You to those who serve You
with their whole heart?
Truly beyond the power of words is the sweetness of
contemplation You give to those who love You. To me You have
shown the sweetness of Your charity, especially in having made
me when I did not exist, in having brought me back to serve You
when I had gone far astray from You, in having commanded me to
O Fountain of unceasing love, what shall I say of You? How
can I forget You, Who have been pleased to remember me even
after I had wasted away and perished? You have shown mercy to
Your servant beyond all hope, and have exhibited grace and
friendship beyond his deserving.
What return shall I make to You for this grace? For it is not
given every man to forsake all things, to renounce the world,
and undertake the religious life. Is it anything great that I
should serve You Whom every creature is bound to serve? It
should not seem much to me; instead it should appear great and
wonderful that You condescend to receive into Your service one
who is so poor and unworthy. Behold, all things are Yours, even
those which I have and by which I serve You. Behold, heaven and
earth which You created for the service of man, stand ready, and
each day they do whatever You command. But even this is little,
for You have appointed angels also to minister to man -- yea
more than all this -- You Yourself have condescended to serve
man and have promised to give him Yourself.
What return shall I make for all these thousands of benefits?
Would that I could serve You all the days of my life! Would that
for but one day I could serve You worthily! Truly You are worthy
of all service, all honor, and everlasting praise. Truly You are
my Lord, and I am Your poor servant, bound to serve You with all
my powers, praising You without ever becoming weary. I wish to
do this -- this is my desire. Do You supply whatever is wanting
It is a great honor, a great glory to serve You and to
despise all things for Your sake. They who give themselves
gladly to Your most holy service will possess great grace. They
who cast aside all carnal delights for Your love will find the
most sweet consolation of the Holy Ghost. They who enter upon
the narrow way for Your name and cast aside all worldly care
will attain great freedom of mind.
O sweet and joyful service of God, which makes man truly free
and holy! O sacred state of religious bondage which makes man
equal to the angels, pleasing to God, terrible to the demons,
and worthy of the commendation of all the faithful! O service to
be embraced and always desired, in which the highest good is
offered and joy is won which shall remain forever!
--- The Eleventh Chapter
THE LONGINGS OF OUR HEARTS MUST BE EXAMINED AND MODERATED
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, it is necessary for you to learn many things which
you have not yet learned well.
What are they, Lord?
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
That you conform your desires entirely according to My good
pleasure, and be not a lover of self but an earnest doer of My
will. Desires very often inflame you and drive you madly on, but
consider whether you act for My honor, or for your own
advantage. If I am the cause, you will be well content with
whatever I ordain. If, on the other hand, any self-seeking lurk
in you, it troubles you and weighs you down. Take care, then,
that you do not rely too much on preconceived desire that has no
reference to Me, lest you repent later on and be displeased with
what at first pleased you and which you desired as being for the
best. Not every desire which seems good should be followed
immediately, nor, on the other hand, should every contrary
affection be at once rejected.
It is sometimes well to use a little restraint even in good
desires and inclinations, lest through too much eagerness you
bring upon yourself distraction of mind; lest through your lack
of discipline you create scandal for others; or lest you be
suddenly upset and fall because of resistance from others.
Sometimes, however, you must use violence and resist your
sensual appetite bravely. You must pay no attention to what the
flesh does or does not desire, taking pains that it be
subjected, even by force, to the spirit. And it should be
chastised and forced to remain in subjection until it is
prepared for anything and is taught to be satisfied with little,
to take pleasure in simple things, and not to murmur against
--- The Twelfth Chapter
ACQUIRING PATIENCE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CONCUPISCENCE
PATIENCE, O Lord God, is very necessary for me, I see,
because there are many adversities in this life. No matter what
plans I make for my own peace, my life cannot be free from
struggle and sorrow.
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
My child, you are right, yet My wish is not that you seek
that peace which is free from temptations or meets with no
opposition, but rather that you consider yourself as having
found peace when you have been tormented with many tribulations
and tried with many adversities.
If you say that you cannot suffer much, how will you endure
the fire of purgatory? Of two evils, the lesser is always to be
chosen. Therefore, in order that you may escape the everlasting
punishments to come, try to bear present evils patiently for the
sake of God.
Do you think that men of the world have no suffering, or
perhaps but little? Ask even those who enjoy the most delights
and you will learn otherwise. "But," you will say, "they enjoy
many pleasures and follow their own wishes; therefore they do
not feel their troubles very much." Granted that they do have
whatever they wish, how long do you think it will last? Behold,
they who prosper in the world shall perish as smoke, and there
shall be no memory of their past joys. Even in this life they do
not find rest in these pleasures without bitterness, weariness,
and fear. For they often receive the penalty of sorrow from the
very thing whence they believe their happiness comes. And it is
just. Since they seek and follow after pleasures without reason,
they should not enjoy them without shame and bitterness.
How brief, how false, how unreasonable and shameful all these
pleasures are! Yet in their drunken blindness men do not
understand this, but like brute beasts incur death of soul for
the miserly enjoyment of a corruptible life.
Therefore, My child, do not pursue your lusts, but turn away
from your own will. "Seek thy pleasure in the Lord and He will
give thee thy heart's desires."
If you wish to be truly delighted and more abundantly comforted
by Me, behold, in contempt of all worldly things and in the
cutting off of all base pleasures shall your blessing be, and
great consolation shall be given you. Further, the more you
withdraw yourself from any solace of creatures, the sweeter and
stronger comfort will you find in Me.
At first you will not gain these blessings without sadness
and toil and conflict. Habit already formed will resist you, but
it shall be overcome by a better habit. The flesh will murmur
against you, but it will be bridled by fervor of spirit. The old
serpent will sting and trouble you, but prayer will put him to
flight and by steadfast, useful toil the way will be closed to
--- The Thirteenth Chapter
THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE HUMBLY SUBJECT TO THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, he who attempts to escape obeying withdraws himself
from grace. Likewise he who seeks private benefits for himself
loses those which are common to all. He who does not submit
himself freely and willingly to his superior, shows that his
flesh is not yet perfectly obedient but that it often rebels and
murmurs against him.
Learn quickly, then, to submit yourself to your superior if
you wish to conquer your own flesh. For the exterior enemy is
more quickly overcome if the inner man is not laid waste. There
is no more troublesome, no worse enemy of the soul than you
yourself, if you are not in harmony with the spirit. It is
absolutely necessary that you conceive a true contempt for
yourself if you wish to be victorious over flesh and blood.
Because you still love yourself too inordinately, you are
afraid to resign yourself wholly to the will of others. Is it
such a great matter if you, who are but dust and nothingness,
subject yourself to man for the sake of God, when I, the
All-Powerful, the Most High, Who created all things out of
nothing, humbly subjected Myself to man for your sake? I became
the most humble and the lowest of all men that you might
overcome your pride with My humility.
Learn to obey, you who are but dust! Learn to humble
yourself, you who are but earth and clay, and bow down under the
foot of every man! Learn to break your own will, to submit to
all subjection! Be zealous against yourself! Allow no pride to
dwell in you, but prove yourself so humble and lowly that all
may walk over you and trample upon you as dust in the streets!
What have you, vain man, to complain of? What answer can you
make, vile sinner, to those who accuse you, you who have so
often offended God and so many times deserved hell? But My eye
has spared you because your soul was precious in My sight, so
that you might know My love and always be thankful for My
benefits, so that you might give yourself continually to true
subjection and humility, and might patiently endure contempt.
--- The Fourteenth Chapter
CONSIDER THE HIDDEN JUDGMENTS OF GOD LEST YOU BECOME PROUD
OF YOUR OWN GOOD DEEDS
YOU thunder forth Your judgments over me, Lord. You shake all
my bones with fear and trembling, and my soul is very much
afraid. I stand in awe as I consider that the heavens are not
pure in Your sight. If You found wickedness in the angels and
did not spare them, what will become of me? Stars have fallen
from heaven, and I -- I who am but dust -- how can I be
presumptuous? They whose deeds seemed worthy of praise have
fallen into the depths, and I have seen those who ate the bread
of angels delighting themselves with the husks of swine.
There is no holiness, then, if You withdraw Your hand, Lord.
There is no wisdom if You cease to guide, no courage if You
cease to defend. No chastity is secure if You do not guard it.
Our vigilance avails nothing if Your holy watchfulness does not
protect us. Left to ourselves we sink and perish, but visited by
You we are lifted up and live. We are truly unstable, but You
make us strong. We grow lukewarm, but You inflame us. Oh, how
humbly and lowly should I consider myself! How very little
should I esteem anything that seems good in me! How profoundly
should I submit to Your unfathomable judgments, Lord, where I
find myself to be but nothing!
O immeasurable weight! O impassable sea, where I find myself
to be nothing but bare nothingness! Where, then, is glory's
hiding place? Where can there be any trust in my own virtue? All
vainglory is swallowed up in the depths of Your judgments upon
What is all flesh in Your sight? Shall the clay glory against
Him that formed it? How can he whose heart is truly subject to
God be lifted up by vainglory? The whole world will not make him
proud whom truth has subjected to itself. Nor shall he who has
placed all his hope in God be moved by the tongues of
flatterers. For behold, even they who speak are nothing; they
will pass away with the sound of their words, but the truth of
the Lord remains forever.
--- The Fifteenth Chapter
HOW ONE SHOULD FEEL AND SPEAK ON EVERY DESIRABLE THING
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, this is the way you must speak on every occasion:
"Lord, if it be pleasing to You, so be it. If it be to Your
honor, Lord, be it done in Your name. Lord, if You see that it
is expedient and profitable for me, then grant that I may use it
to Your honor. But if You know that it will be harmful to me,
and of no good benefit to the welfare of my soul, then take this
desire away from me."
Not every desire is from the Holy Spirit, even though it may
seem right and good. It is difficult to be certain whether it is
a good spirit or a bad one that prompts one to this or that, and
even to know whether you are being moved by your own spirit.
Many who seemed at first to be led by a good spirit have been
deceived in the end.
Whatever the mind sees as good, ask and desire in fear of God
and humility of heart. Above all, commit the whole matter to Me
with true resignation, and say: "Lord, You know what is better
for me; let this be done or that be done as You please. Grant
what You will, as much as You will, when You will. Do with me as
You know best, as will most please You, and will be for Your
greater honor. Place me where You will and deal with me freely
in all things. I am in Your hand; turn me about whichever way
You will. Behold, I am Your servant, ready to obey in all
things. Not for myself do I desire to live, but for You -- would
that I could do this worthily and perfectly!"
A PRAYER THAT THE WILL OF GOD BE DONE
Grant me Your grace, O most merciful Jesus, that it may be
with me, and work with me, and remain with me to the very end.
Grant that I may always desire and will that which is most
acceptable and pleasing to You. Let Your will be mine. Let my
will always follow Yours and agree perfectly with it. Let my
will be one with Yours in willing and in not willing, and let me
be unable to will or not will anything but what You will or do
not will. Grant that I may die to all things in this world, and
for Your sake love to be despised and unknown in this life. Give
me above all desires the desire to rest in You, and in You let
my heart have peace. You are true peace of heart. You alone are
its rest. Without You all things are difficult and troubled. In
this peace, the selfsame that is in You, the Most High, the
everlasting Good, I will sleep and take my rest. Amen.
--- The Sixteenth Chapter
TRUE COMFORT IS TO BE SOUGHT IN GOD ALONE
WHATEVER I can desire or imagine for my own comfort I look
for not here but hereafter. For if I alone should have all the
world's comforts and could enjoy all its delights, it is certain
that they could not long endure. Therefore, my soul, you cannot
enjoy full consolation or perfect delight except in God, the
Consoler of the poor and the Helper of the humble. Wait a
little, my soul, wait for the divine promise and you will have
an abundance of all good things in heaven. If you desire these
present things too much, you will lose those which are
everlasting and heavenly. Use temporal things but desire eternal
things. You cannot be satisfied with any temporal goods because
you were not created to enjoy them.
Even if you possessed all created things you could not be
happy and blessed; for in God, Who created all these things,
your whole blessedness and happiness consists -- not indeed such
happiness as is seen and praised by lovers of the world, but
such as that for which the good and faithful servants of Christ
wait, and of which the spiritual and pure of heart, whose
conversation is in heaven, sometime have a foretaste.
Vain and brief is all human consolation. But that which is
received inwardly from the Truth is blessed and true. The devout
man carries his Consoler, Jesus, everywhere with him, and he
says to Him: "Be with me, Lord Jesus, in every place and at all
times. Let this be my consolation, to be willing to forego all
human comforting. And if Your consolation be wanting to me, let
Your will and just trial of me be my greatest comfort. For You
will not always be angry, nor will You threaten forever."
--- The Seventeenth Chapter
ALL OUR CARE IS TO BE PLACED IN GOD
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, allow me to do what I will with you. I know what is
best for you. You think as a man; you feel in many things as
human affection persuades.
Lord, what You say is true. Your care for me is greater than
all the care I can take of myself. For he who does not cast all
his care upon You stands very unsafely. If only my will remain
right and firm toward You, Lord, do with me whatever pleases
You. For whatever You shall do with me can only be good.
If You wish me to be in darkness, I shall bless You. And if
You wish me to be in light, again I shall bless You. If You
stoop down to comfort me, I shall bless You, and if You wish me
to be afflicted, I shall bless You forever.
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
My child, this is the disposition which you should have if
you wish to walk with Me. You should be as ready to suffer as to
enjoy. You should as willingly be destitute and poor as rich and
O Lord, I shall suffer willingly for Your sake whatever You
wish to send me. I am ready to accept from Your hand both good
and evil alike, the sweet and the bitter together, sorrow with
joy; and for all that happens to me I am grateful. Keep me from
all sin and I will fear neither death nor hell. Do not cast me
out forever nor blot me out of the Book of Life, and whatever
tribulation befalls will not harm me.
--- The Eighteenth Chapter
TEMPORAL SUFFERINGS SHOULD BE BORNE PATIENTLY, AFTER THE
EXAMPLE OF CHRIST
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, I came down from heaven for your salvation and took
upon Myself your miseries, not out of necessity but out of love,
that you might learn to be patient and bear the sufferings of
this life without repining. From the moment of My birth to My
death on the cross, suffering did not leave Me. I suffered great
want of temporal goods. Often I heard many complaints against
Me. Disgrace and reviling I bore with patience. For My blessings
I received ingratitude, for My miracles blasphemies, and for My
O Lord, because You were patient in life, especially in
fulfilling the design of the Father, it is fitting that I, a
most miserable sinner, should live patiently according to Your
will, and, as long as You shall wish, bear the burden of this
corruptible body for the welfare of my soul. For though this
present life seems burdensome, yet by Your grace it becomes
meritorious, and it is made brighter and more endurable for the
weak by Your example and the pathways of the saints. But it has
also more consolation than formerly under the old law when the
gates of heaven were closed, when the way thereto seemed darker
than now, and when so few cared to seek the eternal kingdom. The
just, the elect, could not enter heaven before Your sufferings
and sacred death had paid the debt.
Oh, what great thanks I owe You, Who have shown me and all
the faithful the good and right way to Your everlasting kingdom!
Your life is our way and in Your holy patience we come nearer to
You Who are our crown. Had You not gone before and taught us,
who would have cared to follow? Alas, how many would have
remained far behind, had they not before their eyes Your holy
example! Behold, even we who have heard of Your many miracles
and teachings are still lukewarm; what would happen if we did
not have such light by which to follow You?
--- The Nineteenth Chapter
TRUE PATIENCE IN SUFFERING
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
WHAT are you saying, My child? Think of My suffering and that
of the saints, and cease complaining. You have not yet resisted
to the shedding of blood. What you suffer is very little
compared with the great things they suffered who were so
strongly tempted, so severely troubled, so tried and tormented
in many ways. Well may you remember, therefore, the very painful
woes of others, that you may bear your own little ones the more
easily. And if they do not seem so small to you, examine if
perhaps your impatience is not the cause of their apparent
greatness; and whether they are great or small, try to bear them
all patiently. The better you dispose yourself to suffer, the
more wisely you act and the greater is the reward promised you.
Thus you will suffer more easily if your mind and habits are
diligently trained to it.
Do not say: "I cannot bear this from such a man, nor should I
suffer things of this kind, for he has done me a great wrong. He
has accused me of many things of which I never thought. However,
from someone else I will gladly suffer as much as I think I
Such a thought is foolish, for it does not consider the
virtue of patience or the One Who will reward it, but rather
weighs the person and the offense committed. The man who will
suffer only as much as seems good to him, who will accept
suffering only from those from whom he is pleased to accept it,
is not truly patient. For the truly patient man does not
consider from whom the suffering comes, whether from a superior,
an equal, or an inferior, whether from a good and holy person or
from a perverse and unworthy one; but no matter how great an
adversity befalls him, no matter how often it comes or from whom
it comes, he accepts it gratefully from the hand of God, and
counts it a great gain. For with God nothing that is suffered
for His sake, no matter how small, can pass without reward. Be
prepared for the fight, then, if you wish to gain the victory.
Without struggle you cannot obtain the crown of patience, and if
you refuse to suffer you are refusing the crown. But if you
desire to be crowned, fight bravely and bear up patiently.
Without labor there is no rest, and without fighting, no
O Lord, let that which seems naturally impossible to me
become possible through Your grace. You know that I can suffer
very little, and that I am quickly discouraged when any small
adversity arises. Let the torment of tribulation suffered for
Your name be pleasant and desirable to me, since to suffer and
be troubled for Your sake is very beneficial for my soul.
--- The Twentieth Chapter
CONFESSING OUR WEAKNESS IN THE MISERIES OF LIFE
I WILL bring witness against myself to my injustice, and to
You, O Lord, I will confess my weakness.
Often it is a small thing that makes me downcast and sad. I
propose to act bravely, but when even a small temptation comes I
find myself in great straits. Sometimes it is the merest trifle
which gives rise to grievous temptations. When I think myself
somewhat safe and when I am not expecting it, I frequently find
myself almost overcome by a slight wind. Look, therefore, Lord,
at my lowliness and frailty which You know so well. Have mercy
on me and snatch me out of the mire that I may not be caught in
it and may not remain forever utterly despondent.
That I am so prone to fall and so weak in resisting my
passions oppresses me frequently and confounds me in Your sight.
While I do not fully consent to them, still their assault is
very troublesome and grievous to me, and it wearies me
exceedingly thus to live in daily strife. Yet from the fact that
abominable fancies rush in upon me much more easily than they
leave, my weakness becomes clear to me.
Oh that You, most mighty God of Israel, zealous Lover of
faithful souls, would consider the labor and sorrow of Your
servant, and assist him in all his undertakings! Strengthen me
with heavenly courage lest the outer man, the miserable flesh,
against which I shall be obliged to fight so long as I draw a
breath in this wretched life and which is not yet subjected to
the spirit, prevail and dominate me.
Alas! What sort of life is this, from which troubles and
miseries are never absent, where all things are full of snares
and enemies? For when one trouble or temptation leaves, another
comes. Indeed, even while the first conflict is still raging,
many others begin unexpectedly. How is it possible to love a
life that has such great bitterness, that is subject to so many
calamities and miseries? Indeed, how can it even be called life
when it begets so many deaths and plagues? And yet, it is loved,
and many seek their delight in it.
Many persons often blame the world for being false and vain,
yet do not readily give it up because the desires of the flesh
have such great power. Some things draw them to love the world,
others make them despise it. The lust of the flesh, the desire
of the eyes, and the pride of life lead to love, while the pains
and miseries, which are the just consequences of those things,
beget hatred and weariness of the world.
Vicious pleasure overcomes the soul that is given to the
world. She thinks that there are delights beneath these thorns,
because she has never seen or tasted the sweetness of God or the
internal delight of virtue. They, on the other hand, who
entirely despise the world and seek to live for God under the
rule of holy discipline, are not ignorant of the divine
sweetness promised to those who truly renounce the world. They
see clearly how gravely the world errs, and in how many ways it
--- The Twenty-first Chapter
ABOVE ALL GOODS AND ALL GIFTS WE MUST REST IN GOD
THE DISCIPLEABOVE all things and in all things, O my soul, rest always in
God, for He is the everlasting rest of the saints.
Grant, most sweet and loving Jesus, that I may seek my repose
in You above every creature; above all health and beauty; above
every honor and glory; every power and dignity; above all
knowledge and cleverness, all riches and arts, all joy and
gladness; above all fame and praise, all sweetness and
consolation; above every hope and promise, every merit and
desire; above all the gifts and favors that You can give or pour
down upon me; above all the joy and exultation that the mind can
receive and feel; and finally, above the angels and archangels
and all the heavenly host; above all things visible and
invisible; and may I seek my repose in You above everything that
is not You, my God.
For You, O Lord my God, are above all things the best. You
alone are most high, You alone most powerful. You alone are most
sufficient and most satisfying, You alone most sweet and
consoling. You alone are most beautiful and loving, You alone
most noble and glorious above all things. In You is every
perfection that has been or ever will be. Therefore, whatever
You give me besides Yourself, whatever You reveal to me
concerning Yourself, and whatever You promise, is too small and
insufficient when I do not see and fully enjoy You alone. For my
heart cannot rest or be fully content until, rising above all
gifts and every created thing, it rests in You.
Who, O most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most pure Lover,
Lord of all creation, who shall give me the wings of true
liberty that I may fly to rest in You? When shall freedom be
fully given me to see how sweet You are, O Lord, my God? When
shall I recollect myself entirely in You, so that because of
Your love I may feel, not myself, but You alone above all sense
and measure, in a manner known to none? But now I often lament
and grieve over my unhappiness, for many evils befall me in this
vale of miseries, often disturbing me, making me sad and
overshadowing me, often hindering and distracting me, alluring
and entangling me so that I neither have free access to You nor
enjoy the sweet embraces which are ever ready for blessed souls.
Let my sighs and the manifold desolation here on earth move You.
O Jesus, Splendor of eternal glory, Consolation of the
pilgrim soul, with You my lips utter no sound and to You my
silence speaks. How long will my Lord delay His coming? Let Him
come to His poor servant and make him happy. Let Him put forth
His hand and take this miserable creature from his anguish.
Come, O come, for without You there will be no happy day or
hour, because You are my happiness and without You my table is
empty. I am wretched, as it were imprisoned and weighted down
with fetters, until You fill me with the light of Your presence,
restore me to liberty, and show me a friendly countenance. Let
others seek instead of You whatever they will, but nothing
pleases me or will please me but You, my God, my Hope, my
everlasting Salvation. I will not be silent, I will not cease
praying until Your grace returns to me and You speak inwardly to
me, saying: "Behold, I am here. Lo, I have come to you because
you have called Me. Your tears and the desire of your soul, your
humility and contrition of heart have inclined Me and brought Me
Lord, I have called You, and have desired You, and have been
ready to spurn all things for Your sake. For You first spurred
me on to seek You. May You be blessed, therefore, O Lord, for
having shown this goodness to Your servant according to the
multitude of Your mercies.
What more is there for Your servant to say to You unless,
with his iniquity and vileness always in mind, he humbles
himself before You? Nothing among all the wonders of heaven and
earth is like to You. Your works are exceedingly good, Your
judgments true, and Your providence rules the whole universe.
May You be praised and glorified, therefore, O Wisdom of the
Father. Let my lips and my soul and all created things unite to
praise and bless You.
--- The Twenty-Second Chapter
REMEMBER THE INNUMERABLE GIFTS OF GOD
OPEN my heart, O Lord, to Your law and teach me to walk in
the way of Your commandments. Let me understand Your will. Let
me remember Your blessings -- all of them and each single one of
them -- with great reverence and care so that henceforth I may
return worthy thanks for them. I know that I am unable to give
due thanks for even the least of Your gifts. I am unworthy of
the benefits You have given me, and when I consider Your
generosity my spirit faints away before its greatness. All that
we have of soul and body, whatever we possess interiorly or
exteriorly, by nature or by grace, are Your gifts and they
proclaim Your goodness and mercy from which we have received all
If one receives more and another less, yet all are Yours and
without You nothing can be received. He who receives greater
things cannot glory in his own merit or consider himself above
others or behave insolently toward those who receive less. He
who attributes less to himself and is the more humble and devout
in returning thanks is indeed the greater and the better, while
he who considers himself lower than all men and judges himself
to be the least worthy, is the more fit to receive the greater
He, on the other hand, who has received fewer gifts should
not be sad or impatient or envious of the richer man. Instead he
should turn his mind to You and offer You the greatest praise
because You give so bountifully, so freely and willingly,
without regard to persons. All things come from You; therefore,
You are to be praised in all things. You know what is good for
each of us; and why one should receive less and another more is
not for us to judge, but for You Who have marked every man's
Therefore, O Lord God, I consider it a great blessing not to
have many things which human judgment holds praiseworthy and
glorious, for one who realizes his own poverty and vileness
should not be sad or downcast at it, but rather consoled and
happy because You, O God, have chosen the poor, the humble, and
the despised in this world to be Your friends and servants. The
truth of this is witnessed by Your Apostles, whom You made
princes over all the world. Yet they lived in this world without
complaining, so humble and simple, so free from malice and
deceit, that they were happy even to suffer reproach for Your
name and to embrace with great affection that which the world
A man who loves You and recognizes Your benefits, therefore,
should be gladdened by nothing so much as by Your will, by the
good pleasure of Your eternal decree. With this he should be so
contented and consoled that he would wish to be the least as
others wish to be the greatest; that he would be as peaceful and
satisfied in the last place as in the first, and as willing to
be despised, unknown and forgotten, as to be honored by others
and to have more fame than they. He should prefer Your will and
the love of Your honor to all else, and it should comfort him
more than all the benefits which have been, or will be, given
--- The Twenty-Third Chapter
FOUR THINGS WHICH BRING GREAT PEACE
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, I will teach you now the way of peace and true
Seek, child, to do the will of others rather than your own.
Always choose to have less rather than more.
Look always for the last place and seek to be beneath all
Always wish and pray that the will of God be fully carried
out in you.
Behold, such will enter into the realm of peace and rest.
O Lord, this brief discourse of Yours contains much
perfection. It is short in words but full of meaning and
abounding in fruit. Certainly if I could only keep it
faithfully, I should not be so easily disturbed. For as often as
I find myself troubled and dejected, I find that I have departed
from this teaching. But You Who can do all things, and Who
always love what is for my soul's welfare, give me increase of
grace that I may keep Your words and accomplish my salvation.
A PRAYER AGAINST BAD THOUGHTS
O Lord my God, be not far from me. O my God, hasten to help
me, for varied thoughts and great fears have risen up within me,
afflicting my soul. How shall I escape them unharmed? How shall
I dispel them?
"I will go before you," says the Lord, "and will humble the
great ones of earth. I will open the doors of the prison, and
will reveal to you hidden secrets."
Do as You say, Lord, and let all evil thoughts fly from Your
face. This is my hope and my only comfort -- to fly to You in
all tribulation, to confide in You, and to call on You from the
depths of my heart and to await patiently for Your consolation.
A PRAYER FOR ENLIGHTENING THE MIND
Enlighten me, good Jesus, with the brightness of internal
light, and take away all darkness from the habitation of my
heart. Restrain my wandering thoughts and suppress the
temptations which attack me so violently. Fight strongly for me,
and vanquish these evil beasts -- the alluring desires of the
flesh -- so that peace may come through Your power and the
fullness of Your praise resound in the holy courts, which is a
pure conscience. Command the winds and the tempests; say to the
sea: "Be still," and to the north wind, "Do not blow," and there
will be a great calm.
Send forth Your light and Your truth to shine on the earth,
for I am as earth, empty and formless until You illumine me.
Pour out Your grace from above. Shower my heart with heavenly
dew. Open the springs of devotion to water the earth, that it
may produce the best of good fruits. Lift up my heart pressed
down by the weight of sins, and direct all my desires to
heavenly things, that having tasted the sweetness of supernal
happiness, I may find no pleasure in thinking of earthly things.
Snatch me up and deliver me from all the passing comfort of
creatures, for no created thing can fully quiet and satisfy my
desires. Join me to Yourself in an inseparable bond of love;
because You alone can satisfy him who loves You, and without You
all things are worthless.
--- The Twenty-Fourth Chapter
AVOIDING CURIOUS INQUIRY ABOUT THE LIVES OF OTHERS
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, do not be curious. Do not trouble yourself with
idle cares. What matters this or that to you? Follow Me. What is
it to you if a man is such and such, if another does or says
this or that? You will not have to answer for others, but you
will have to give an account of yourself. Why, then, do you
meddle in their affairs?
Behold, I know all men. I see everything that is done under
the sun, and I know how matters stand with each -- what is in
his mind and what in his heart and the end to which his
intention is directed. Commit all things to Me, therefore, and
keep yourself in good peace. Let him who is disturbed be as
restless as he will. Whatever he has said or done will fall upon
himself, for he cannot deceive Me.
Do not be anxious for the shadow of a great name, for the
close friendship of many, or for the particular affection of
men. These things cause distraction and cast great darkness
about the heart. I would willingly speak My word and reveal My
secrets to you, if you would watch diligently for My coming and
open your heart to Me. Be prudent, then. Watch in prayer, and in
all things humble yourself.
--- The Twenty-Fifth Chapter
THE BASIS OF FIRM PEACE OF HEART AND TRUE PROGRESS
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, I have said: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I
give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you."
All men desire peace but all do not care for the things that
go to make true peace. My peace is with the humble and meek of
heart: your peace will be in much patience. If you hear Me and
follow My voice, you will be able to enjoy much peace.
What, then, shall I do, Lord?
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
Watch yourself in all things, in what you do and what you
say. Direct your every intention toward pleasing Me alone, and
desire nothing outside of Me. Do not be rash in judging the
deeds and words of others, and do not entangle yourself in
affairs that are not your own. Thus, it will come about that you
will be disturbed little and seldom.
Yet, never to experience any disturbance or to suffer any
hurt in heart or body does not belong to this present life, but
rather to the state of eternal rest. Do not think, therefore,
that you have found true peace if you feel no depression, or
that all is well because you suffer no opposition. Do not think
that all is perfect if everything happens just as you wish. And
do not imagine yourself great or consider yourself especially
beloved if you are filled with great devotion and sweetness. For
the true lover of virtue is not known by these things, nor do
the progress and perfection of a man consist in them.
In what do they consist, Lord?
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
They consist in offering yourself with all your heart to the
divine will, not seeking what is yours either in small matters
or great ones, either in temporal or eternal things, so that you
will preserve equanimity and give thanks in both prosperity and
adversity, seeing all things in their proper light.
If you become so brave and long-suffering in hope that you
can prepare your heart to suffer still more even when all inward
consolation is withdrawn, and if you do not justify yourself as
though you ought not be made to suffer such great things, but
acknowledge Me to be just in all My works and praise My holy
name -- then you will walk in the true and right path of peace,
then you may have sure hope of seeing My face again in joy. If
you attain to complete contempt of self, then know that you will
enjoy an abundance of peace, as much as is possible in this
--- The Twenty-Sixth Chapter
THE EXCELLENCE OF A FREE MIND, GAINED THROUGH PRAYER RATHER
THAN BY STUDY
IT IS the mark of a perfect man, Lord, never to let his mind
relax in attention to heavenly things, and to pass through many
cares as though he had none; not as an indolent man does, but
having by the certain prerogative of a free mind no disorderly
affection for any created being.
Keep me, I beg You, most merciful God, from the cares of this
life, lest I be too much entangled in them. Keep me from many
necessities of the body, lest I be ensnared by pleasure. Keep me
from all darkness of mind, lest I be broken by troubles and
overcome. I do not ask deliverance from those things which
worldly vanity desires so eagerly, but from those miseries
which, by the common curse of humankind, oppress the soul of
Your servant in punishment and keep him from entering into the
liberty of spirit as often as he would.
My God, Sweetness beyond words, make bitter all the carnal
comfort that draws me from love of the eternal and lures me to
its evil self by the sight of some delightful good in the
present. Let it not overcome me, my God. Let not flesh and blood
conquer me. Let not the world and its brief glory deceive me,
nor the devil trip me by his craftiness. Give me courage to
resist, patience to endure, and constancy to persevere. Give me
the soothing unction of Your spirit rather than all the
consolations of the world, and in place of carnal love, infuse
into me the love of Your name.
Behold, eating, drinking, clothing, and other necessities
that sustain the body are burdensome to the fervent soul. Grant
me the grace to use such comforts temperately and not to become
entangled in too great a desire for them. It is not lawful to
cast them aside completely, for nature must be sustained, but
Your holy law forbids us to demand superfluous things and things
that are simply for pleasure, else the flesh would rebel against
the spirit. In these matters, I beg, let Your hand guide and
direct me, so that I may not overstep the law in any way.
--- The Twenty-Seventh Chapter
SELF-LOVE IS THE GREATEST HINDRANCE TO THE HIGHEST GOOD
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, you should give all for all, and in no way belong
to yourself. You must know that self-love is more harmful to you
than anything else in the world. In proportion to the love and
affection you have for a thing, it will cling to you more or
less. If your love is pure, simple, and well ordered, you will
not be a slave to anything. Do not covet what you may not have.
Do not possess anything that can hinder you or rob you of
It is strange that you do not commit yourself to Me with your
whole heart, together with all that you can desire or possess.
Why are you consumed with foolish sorrow? Why are you wearied
with unnecessary care? Be resigned to My will and you will
suffer no loss.
If you seek this or that, if you wish to be in this place or
that place, to have more ease and pleasure, you will never rest
or be free from care, for some defect is found in everything and
everywhere someone will vex you. To obtain and multiply earthly
goods, then, will not help you, but to despise them and root
them out of your heart will aid. This, understand, is true not
only of money and wealth, but also of ambition for honor and
desire for empty praise, all of which will pass away with this
The place matters little if the spirit of fervor is not
there; nor will peace be lasting if it is sought from the
outside; if your heart has no true foundation, that is, if you
are not founded in Me, you may change, but you will not better
yourself. For when occasion arises and is accepted, you will
find that from which you fled and worse.
A PRAYER FOR CLEANSING THE HEART AND OBTAINING HEAVENLY
Strengthen me by the grace of Your holy spirit, O God. Give
me the power to be strengthened inwardly and to empty my heart
of all vain care and anxiety, so that I may not be drawn away by
many desires, whether for precious things or mean ones. Let me
look upon everything as passing, and upon myself as soon to pass
away with them, because there is nothing lasting under the sun,
where all is vanity and affliction of spirit. How wise is he who
Give me, Lord, heavenly wisdom to learn above all else to
seek and find You, to enjoy and love You more than anything, and
to consider other things as they are, as Your wisdom has ordered
them. Grant me prudence to avoid the flatterer and to bear
patiently with him who disagrees with me. For it is great wisdom
not to be moved by the sound of words, nor to give ear to the
wicked, flattering siren. Then, I shall walk safely in the way I
--- The Twenty-Eighth Chapter
STRENGTH AGAINST SLANDER
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, do not take it to heart if some people think badly
of you and say unpleasant things about you. You ought to think
worse things of yourself and to believe that no one is weaker
than yourself. Moreover, if you walk in the spirit you will pay
little heed to fleeting words. It is no small prudence to remain
silent in evil times, to turn inwardly to Me, and not to be
disturbed by human opinions. Do not let your peace depend on the
words of men. Their thinking well or badly of you does not make
you different from what you are. Where are true peace and glory?
Are they not in Me? He who neither cares to please men nor fears
to displease them will enjoy great peace, for all unrest and
distraction of the senses arise out of disorderly love and vain
--- The Twenty-Ninth Chapter
HOW WE MUST CALL UPON AND BLESS THE LORD WHEN TROUBLE
BLESSED be Your name forever, O Lord, Who have willed that
this temptation and trouble come upon me. I cannot escape it,
yet I must fly to You that You may help me and turn it to my
good. Now I am troubled, Lord, and my heart is not at rest, for
I am greatly afflicted by this present suffering.
Beloved Father, what shall I say? I am straitened in harsh
ways. Save me from this hour to which, however, I am come that
You may be glorified when I am deeply humbled and freed by You.
May it please You, then, to deliver me, Lord, for what can I,
poor wretch that I am, do or where can I go without You? Give me
patience, Lord, even now. Help me, my God, and I will not be
afraid however much I may be distressed.
But here, in the midst of these troubles, what shall I say?
Your will be done, Lord. I have richly deserved to be troubled
and distressed. But I must bear it. Would that I could do so
patiently, until the storm passes and calm returns! Yet Your
almighty hand can take this temptation from me, or lighten its
attack so that I do not altogether sink beneath it, as You, my
God, my Mercy, have very often done for me before. And the more
difficult my plight, the easier for You is this change of the
right hand of the Most High.
--- The Thirtieth Chapter
THE QUEST OF DIVINE HELP AND CONFIDENCE IN REGAINING GRACE
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, I am the Lord Who gives strength in the day of
trouble. Come to Me when all is not well with you. Your
tardiness in turning to prayer is the greatest obstacle to
heavenly consolation, for before you pray earnestly to Me you
first seek many comforts and take pleasure in outward things.
Thus, all things are of little profit to you until you realize
that I am the one Who saves those who trust in Me, and that
outside of Me there is no worth-while help, or any useful
counsel or lasting remedy.
But now, after the tempest, take courage, grow strong once
more in the light of My mercies; for I am near, says the Lord,
to restore all things not only to the full but with abundance
and above measure. Is anything difficult for Me? Or shall I be
as one who promises and does not act? Where is your faith? Stand
firm and persevere. Be a man of endurance and courage, and
consolation will come to you in due time. Wait for Me; wait --
and I will come to heal you.
It is only a temptation that troubles you, a vain fear that
Of what use is anxiety about the future? Does it bring you
anything but trouble upon trouble? Sufficient for the day is the
evil thereof. It is foolish and useless to be either grieved or
happy about future things which perhaps may never happen. But it
is human to be deluded by such imaginations, and the sign of a
weak soul to be led on by suggestions of the enemy. For he does
not care whether he overcomes you by love of the present or fear
of the future.
Let not your heart be troubled, therefore, nor let it be
afraid. Believe in Me and trust in My mercy. When you think you
are far from Me, then often I am very near you. When you judge
that almost all is lost, then very often you are in the way of
gaining great merit.
All is not lost when things go contrary to your wishes. You
ought not judge according to present feelings, nor give in to
any trouble whenever it comes, or take it as though all hope of
escape were lost. And do not consider yourself forsaken if I
send some temporary hardship, or withdraw the consolation you
desire. For this is the way to the kingdom of heaven, and
without doubt it is better for you and the rest of My servants
to be tried in adversities than to have all things as you wish.
I know your secret thoughts, and I know that it is profitable
for your salvation to be left sometimes in despondency lest
perhaps you be puffed up by success and fancy yourself to be
what you are not.
What I have given, I can take away and restore when it
pleases Me. What I give remains Mine, and thus when I take it
away I take nothing that is yours, for every good gift and every
perfect gift is Mine.
If I send you trouble and adversity, do not fret or let your
heart be downcast. I can raise you quickly up again and turn all
your sorrow into joy. I am no less just and worthy of great
praise when I deal with you in this way.
If you think aright and view things in their true light, you
should never be so dejected and saddened by adversity, but
rather rejoice and give thanks, considering it a matter of
special joy that I afflict you with sorrow and do not spare you.
"As the Father hath loved Me, so also I love you," I said to My
disciples, and I certainly did not send them out to temporal
joys but rather to great struggles, not to honors but to
contempt, not to idleness, but to labors, not to rest but to
bring forth much fruit in patience. Do you, My child, remember
--- The Thirty-First Chapter
TO FIND THE CREATOR, FORSAKE ALL CREATURES
O LORD, I am in sore need still of greater grace if I am to
arrive at the point where no man and no created thing can be an
obstacle to me. For as long as anything holds me back, I cannot
freely fly to You. He that said "Oh that I had wings like a
dove, that I might fly away and be at rest!"
desired to fly freely to You. Who is more at rest than he who
aims at nothing but God? And who more free than the man who
desires nothing on earth?
It is well, then, to pass over all creation, perfectly to
abandon self, and to see in ecstasy of mind that You, the
Creator of all, have no likeness among all Your creatures, and
that unless a man be freed from all creatures, he cannot attend
freely to the Divine. The reason why so few contemplative
persons are found, is that so few know how to separate
themselves entirely from what is transitory and created.
For this, indeed, great grace is needed, grace that will
raise the soul and lift it up above itself. Unless a man be
elevated in spirit, free from all creatures, and completely
united to God, all his knowledge and possessions are of little
moment. He who considers anything great except the one, immense,
eternal good will long be little and lie groveling on the earth.
Whatever is not God is nothing and must be accounted as nothing.
There is great difference between the wisdom of an
enlightened and devout man and the learning of a well-read and
brilliant scholar, for the knowledge which flows down from
divine sources is much nobler than that laboriously acquired by
Many there are who desire contemplation, but who do not care
to do the things which contemplation requires. It is also a
great obstacle to be satisfied with externals and sensible
things, and to have so little of perfect mortification. I know
not what it is, or by what spirit we are led, or to what we
pretend -- we who wish to be called spiritual -- that we spend
so much labor and even more anxiety on things that are
transitory and mean, while we seldom or never advert with full
consciousness to our interior concerns.
Alas, after very little recollection we falter, not weighing
our deeds by strict examination. We pay no attention to where
our affections lie, nor do we deplore the fact that our actions
Remember that because all flesh had corrupted its course, the
great deluge followed. Since, then, our interior affection is
corrupt, it must be that the action which follows from it, the
index as it were of our lack of inward strength, is also
corrupt. Out of a pure heart come the fruits of a good life.
People are wont to ask how much a man has done, but they
think little of the virtue with which he acts. They ask: Is he
strong? rich? handsome? a good writer? a good singer? or a good
worker? They say little, however, about how poor he is in
spirit, how patient and meek, how devout and spiritual. Nature
looks to his outward appearance; grace turns to his inward
being. The one often errs, the other trusts in God and is not
--- The Thirty-Second Chapter
SELF-DENIAL AND THE RENUNCIATION OF EVIL APPETITES
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, you can never be perfectly free unless you
completely renounce self, for all who seek their own interest
and who love themselves are bound in fetters. They are unsettled
by covetousness and curiosity, always searching for ease and not
for the things of Christ, often devising and framing that which
will not last, for anything that is not of God will fail
Hold to this short and perfect advice, therefore:
your desires and you will find rest. Think upon it in your
heart, and when you have put it into practice you will
understand all things.
But this, Lord, is not the work of one day, nor is it mere
child's play; indeed, in this brief sentence is included all the
perfection of holy persons.
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
My child, you should not turn away or be downcast when you
hear the way of the perfect. Rather you ought to be spurred on
the more toward their sublime heights, or at least be moved to
I would this were the case with you -- that you had
progressed to the point where you no longer loved self but
simply awaited My bidding and his whom I have placed as father
over you. Then you would please Me very much, and your whole
life would pass in peace and joy. But you have yet many things
which you must give up, and unless you resign them entirely to
Me you will not obtain that which you ask.
"I counsel thee to buy of me gold, fire-tried, that thou
mayest be made rich"
-- rich in heavenly wisdom which treads underfoot all that is
low. Put aside earthly wisdom, all human self-complacency.
I have said: exchange what is precious and valued among men
for that which is considered contemptible. For true heavenly
wisdom -- not to think highly of self and not to seek glory on
earth -- does indeed seem mean and small and is well-nigh
forgotten, as many men praise it with their mouths but shy far
away from it in their lives. Yet this heavenly wisdom is a pearl
of great price, which is hidden from many.
--- The Thirty-Third Chapter
RESTLESSNESS OF SOUL -- DIRECTING OUR FINAL INTENTION TOWARD
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, do not trust in your present feeling, for it will
soon give way to another. As long as you live you will be
subject to changeableness in spite of yourself. You will become
merry at one time and sad at another, now peaceful but again
disturbed, at one moment devout and the next indevout, sometimes
diligent while at other times lazy, now grave and again
But the man who is wise and whose spirit is well instructed
stands superior to these changes. He pays no attention to what
he feels in himself or from what quarter the wind of fickleness
blows, so long as the whole intention of his mind is conducive
to his proper and desired end. For thus he can stand undivided,
unchanged, and unshaken, with the singleness of his intention
directed unwaveringly toward Me, even in the midst of so many
changing events. And the purer this singleness of intention is,
with so much the more constancy does he pass through many
But in many ways the eye of pure intention grows dim, because
it is attracted to any delightful thing that it meets. Indeed,
it is rare to find one who is entirely free from all taint of
self-seeking. The Jews of old, for example, came to Bethany to
Martha and Mary, not for Jesus' sake alone, but in order to see
The eye of your intention, therefore, must be cleansed so
that it is single and right. It must be directed toward Me,
despite all the objects which may interfere.
--- The Thirty-Fourth Chapter
GOD IS SWEET ABOVE ALL THINGS AND IN ALL THINGS TO THOSE WHO
BEHOLD, my God and my all! What more do I wish for; what
greater happiness can I desire? O sweet and delicious word! But
sweet only to him who loves it, and not to the world or the
things that are in the world.
My God and my all! These words are enough for him who
understands, and for him who loves it is a joy to repeat them
often. For when You are present, all things are delightful; when
You are absent, all things become loathsome. It is You Who give
a heart tranquillity, great peace and festive joy. It is You Who
make us think well of all things, and praise You in all things.
Without You nothing can give pleasure for very long, for if it
is to be pleasing and tasteful, Your grace and the seasoning of
Your wisdom must be in it. What is there that can displease him
whose happiness is in You? And, on the contrary, what can
satisfy him whose delight is not in You?
The wise men of the world, the men who lust for the flesh,
are wanting in Your wisdom, because in the world is found the
utmost vanity, and in the flesh is death. But they who follow
You by disdaining worldly things and mortifying the flesh are
known to be truly wise, for they are transported from vanity to
truth, from flesh to spirit. By such as these God is relished,
and whatever good is found in creatures they turn to praise of
the Creator. But great -- yes, very great, indeed -- is the
difference between delight in the Creator and in the creature,
in eternity and in time, in Light uncreated and in the light
that is reflected.
O Light eternal, surpassing all created brightness, flash
forth the lightning from above and enlighten the inmost recesses
of my heart. Cleanse, cheer, enlighten, and vivify my spirit
with all its powers, that it may cleave to You in ecstasies of
joy. Oh, when will that happy and wished-for hour come, that You
may fill me with Your presence and become all in all to me? So
long as this is not given me, my joy will not be complete.
The old man, alas, yet lives within me. He has not yet been
entirely crucified; he is not yet entirely dead. He still lusts
strongly against the spirit, and he will not leave the kingdom
of my soul in peace. But You, Who can command the power of the
sea and calm the tumult of its waves, arise and help me. Scatter
the nations that delight in war; crush them in Your sight. Show
forth I beg, Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be
glorified, because for me there is no other hope or refuge
except in You, O Lord, my God.
--- The Thirty-Fifth Chapter
THERE IS NO SECURITY FROM TEMPTATION IN THIS LIFE
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, in this life you are never safe, and as long as you
live the weapons of the spirit will ever be necessary to you.
You dwell among enemies. You are subject to attack from the
right and the left. If, therefore, you do not guard yourself
from every quarter with the shield of patience, you will not
remain long unscathed.
Moreover, if you do not steadily set your heart on Me, with a
firm will to suffer everything for My sake, you will not be able
to bear the heat of this battle or to win the crown of the
blessed. You ought, therefore, to pass through all these things
bravely and to oppose a strong hand to whatever stands in your
way. For to him who triumphs heavenly bread is given, while for
him who is too lazy to fight there remains much misery.
If you look for rest in this life, how will you attain to
everlasting rest? Dispose yourself, then, not for much rest but
for great patience. Seek true peace, not on earth but in heaven;
not in men or in other creatures but in God alone. For love of
God you should undergo all things cheerfully, all labors and
sorrows, temptations and trials, anxieties, weaknesses,
necessities, injuries, slanders, rebukes, humiliations,
confusions, corrections, and contempt. For these are helps to
virtue. These are the trials of Christ's recruit. These form the
heavenly crown. For a little brief labor I will give an
everlasting crown, and for passing confusion, glory that is
Do you think that you will always have spiritual consolations
as you desire? My saints did not always have them. Instead, they
had many afflictions, temptations of various kinds, and great
desolation. Yet they bore them all patiently. They placed their
confidence in God rather than in themselves, knowing that the
sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the
glory that is to come. And you -- do you wish to have at once
that which others have scarcely obtained after many tears and
Wait for the Lord, act bravely, and have courage. Do not lose
trust. Do not turn back but devote your body and soul constantly
to God's glory. I will reward you most plentifully. I will be
with you in every tribulation.
--- The Thirty-Sixth Chapter
THE VAIN JUDGMENTS OF MEN
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, trust firmly in the Lord, and do not fear the
judgment of men when conscience tells you that you are upright
and innocent. For it is good and blessed to suffer such things,
and they will not weigh heavily on the humble heart that trusts
in God rather than in itself. Many men say many things, and
therefore little faith is to be put in them.
Likewise, it is impossible to satisfy all men. Although Paul
tried to please all in the Lord, and became all things to all
men, yet he made little of their opinions. He labored abundantly
for the edification and salvation of others, as much as lay in
him and as much as he could, but he could not escape being
sometimes judged and despised by others. Therefore, he committed
all to God Who knows all things, and defended himself by his
patience and humility against the tongues of those who spoke
unjustly or thought foolish things and lies, or made accusations
against him. Sometimes, indeed, he did answer them, but only
lest his silence scandalize the weak.
Who are you, then, that you should be afraid of mortal man?
Today he is here, tomorrow he is not seen. Fear God and you will
not be afraid of the terrors of men. What can anyone do to you
by word or injury? He hurts himself rather than you, and no
matter who he may be he cannot escape the judgment of God. Keep
God before your eyes, therefore, and do not quarrel with peevish
If it seems, then, that you are worsted and that you suffer
undeserved shame, do not repine over it and do not lessen your
crown by impatience. Look instead to heaven, to Me, Who have
power to deliver you from all disgrace and injury, and to render
to everyone according to his works.
--- The Thirty-Seventh Chapter
PURE AND ENTIRE RESIGNATION OF SELF TO OBTAIN FREEDOM OF
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, renounce self and you shall find Me. Give up your
own self-will, your possessions, and you shall always gain. For
once you resign yourself irrevocably, greater grace will be
How often, Lord, shall I resign myself? And in what shall I
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
Always, at every hour, in small matters as well as great -- I
except nothing. In all things I wish you to be stripped of self.
How otherwise can you be mine or I yours unless you be despoiled
of your own will both inwardly and outwardly? The sooner you do
this the better it will be for you, and the more fully and
sincerely you do it the more you will please Me and the greater
gain you will merit.
Some there are who resign themselves, but with certain
reservation; they do not trust fully in God and therefore they
try to provide for themselves. Others, again, at first offer
all, but afterward are assailed by temptation and return to what
they have renounced, thereby making no progress in virtue. These
will not reach the true liberty of a pure heart nor the grace of
happy friendship with Me unless they first make a full
resignation and a daily sacrifice of themselves. Without this no
fruitful union lasts nor will last.
I have said to you very often, and now I say again: forsake
yourself, renounce yourself and you shall enjoy great inward
peace. Give all for all. Ask nothing, demand nothing in return.
Trust purely and without hesitation in Me, and you shall possess
Me. You will be free of heart and darkness will not overwhelm
Strive for this, pray for this, desire this -- to be stripped
of all selfishness and naked to follow the naked Jesus, to die
to self and live forever for Me. Then all vain imaginations, all
wicked disturbances and superfluous cares will vanish. Then also
immoderate fear will leave you and inordinate love will die.
--- The Thirty-Eighth Chapter
THE RIGHT ORDERING OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS; RECOURSE TO GOD IN
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, you must strive diligently to be inwardly free, to
have mastery over yourself everywhere, in every external act and
occupation, that all things be subject to you and not you to
them, that you be the master and director of your actions, not a
slave or a mere hired servant. You should be rather a free man
and a true Hebrew, arising to the status and freedom of the
children of God who stand above present things to contemplate
those which are eternal; who look upon passing affairs with the
left eye and upon those of heaven with the right; whom temporal
things do not so attract that they cling to them, but who rather
put these things to such proper service as is ordained and
instituted by God, the great Workmaster, Who leaves nothing
unordered in His creation.
If, likewise, in every happening you are not content simply
with outward appearances, if you do not regard with carnal eyes
things which you see and hear, but whatever be the affair, enter
with Moses into the tabernacle to ask advice of the Lord, you
will sometimes hear the divine answer and return instructed in
many things present and to come. For Moses always had recourse
to the tabernacle for the solution of doubts and questions, and
fled to prayer for support in dangers and the evil deeds of men.
So you also should take refuge in the secret chamber of your
heart, begging earnestly for divine aid.
For this reason, as we read, Joshua and the children of
Israel were deceived by the Gibeonites because they did not
first seek counsel of the Lord, but trusted too much in fair
words and hence were deceived by false piety.
--- The Thirty-Ninth Chapter
A MAN SHOULD NOT BE UNDULY SOLICITOUS ABOUT HIS AFFAIRS
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, always commit your cause to Me. I will dispose of
it rightly in good time. Await My ordering of it and it will be
to your advantage.
Lord, I willingly commit all things to You, for my anxiety
can profit me little. But I would that I were not so concerned
about the future, and instead offered myself without hesitation
to Your good pleasure.
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
My child, it often happens that a man seeks ardently after
something he desires and then when he has attained it he begins
to think that it is not at all desirable; for affections do not
remain fixed on the same thing, but rather flit from one to
another. It is no very small matter, therefore, for a man to
forsake himself even in things that are very small.
A man's true progress consists in denying himself, and the
man who has denied himself is truly free and secure. The old
enemy, however, setting himself against all good, never ceases
to tempt them, but day and night plots dangerous snares to cast
the unwary into the net of deceit. "Watch ye and pray," says the
Lord, "that ye enter not into temptation."
--- The Fortieth Chapter
MAN HAS NO GOOD IN HIMSELF AND CAN GLORY IN NOTHING
LORD, what is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of
man that You visit him? What has man deserved that You should
give him Your grace? What cause have I, Lord, to complain if You
desert me, or what objection can I have if You do not do what I
ask? This I may think and say in all truth: "Lord, I am nothing,
of myself I have nothing that is good; I am lacking in all
things, and I am ever tending toward nothing. And unless I have
Your help and am inwardly strengthened by You, I become quite
lukewarm and lax."
But You, Lord, are always the same. You remain forever,
always good, just, and holy; doing all things rightly, justly,
and holily, disposing them wisely. I, however, who am more ready
to go backward than forward, do not remain always in one state,
for I change with the seasons. Yet my condition quickly improves
when it pleases You and when You reach forth Your helping hand.
For You alone, without human aid, can help me and strengthen me
so greatly that my heart shall no more change but be converted
and rest solely in You. Hence, if I knew well how to cast aside
all earthly consolation, either to attain devotion or because of
the necessity which, in the absence of human solace, compels me
to seek You alone, then I could deservedly hope for Your grace
and rejoice in the gift of new consolation.
Thanks be to You from Whom all things come, whenever it is
well with me. In Your sight I am vanity and nothingness, a weak,
unstable man. In what, therefore, can I glory, and how can I
wish to be highly regarded? Is it because I am nothing? This,
too, is utterly vain. Indeed, the greatest vanity is the evil
plague of empty self-glory, because it draws one away from true
glory and robs one of heavenly grace. For when a man is pleased
with himself he displeases You, when he pants after human praise
he is deprived of true virtue. But it is true glory and holy
exultation to glory in You and not in self, to rejoice in Your
name rather than in one's own virtue, and not to delight in any
creature except for Your sake.
Let Your name, not mine, be praised. Let Your work, not mine,
be magnified. Let Your holy name be blessed, but let no human
praise be given to me. You are my glory. You are the joy of my
heart. In You I will glory and rejoice all the day, and for
myself I will glory in nothing but my infirmities.
Let the Jews seek the glory that comes from another. I will
seek that which comes from God alone. All human glory, all
temporal honor, all worldly position is truly vanity and
foolishness compared to Your everlasting glory. O my Truth, my
Mercy, my God, O Blessed Trinity, to You alone be praise and
honor, power and glory, throughout all the endless ages of ages.
--- The Forty-First Chapter
CONTEMPT FOR ALL EARTHLY HONOR
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, do not take it to heart if you see others honored
and advanced, while you yourself are despised and humbled. Lift
up your heart to Me in heaven and the contempt of men on earth
will not grieve you.
Lord, we are blinded and quickly misled by vanity. If I
examine myself rightly, no injury has ever been done me by any
creature; hence I have nothing for which to make just complaint
to You. But I have sinned often and gravely against You;
therefore is every creature in arms against me. Confusion and
contempt should in justice come upon me, but to You due praise,
honor, and glory. And unless I prepare myself to be willingly
despised and forsaken by every creature, to be considered
absolutely nothing, I cannot have interior peace and strength,
nor can I be enlightened spiritually or completely united with
--- The Forty-Second Chapter
PEACE IS NOT TO BE PLACED IN MEN
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, if you place your peace in any creature because of
your own feeling or for the sake of his company, you will be
unsettled and entangled. But if you have recourse to the
ever-living and abiding Truth, you will not grieve if a friend
should die or forsake you. Your love for your friend should be
grounded in Me, and for My sake you should love whoever seems to
be good and is very dear to you in this life. Without Me
friendship has no strength and cannot endure. Love which I do
not bind is neither true nor pure.
You ought, therefore, to be so dead to such human affections
as to wish as far as lies within you to be without the
fellowship of men. Man draws nearer to God in proportion as he
withdraws farther from all earthly comfort. And he ascends
higher to God as he descends lower into himself and grows more
vile in his own eyes. He who attributes any good to himself
hinders God's grace from coming into his heart, for the grace of
the Holy Spirit seeks always the humble heart.
If you knew how to annihilate yourself completely and empty
yourself of all created love, then I should overflow in you with
great grace. When you look to creatures, the sight of the
Creator is taken from you. Learn, therefore, to conquer yourself
in all things for the sake of your Maker. Then will you be able
to attain to divine knowledge. But anything, no matter how
small, that is loved and regarded inordinately keeps you back
from the highest good and corrupts the soul.
--- The Forty-Third Chapter
BEWARE VAIN AND WORLDLY KNOWLEDGE
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, do not let the fine-sounding and subtle words of
men deceive you. For the kingdom of heaven consists not in talk
but in virtue. Attend, rather, to My words which enkindle the
heart and enlighten the mind, which excite contrition and abound
in manifold consolations. Never read them for the purpose of
appearing more learned or more wise. Apply yourself to
mortifying your vices, for this will benefit you more than your
understanding of many difficult questions.
Though you shall have read and learned many things, it will
always be necessary for you to return to this one principle: I
am He who teaches man knowledge, and to the little ones I give a
clearer understanding than can be taught by man. He to whom I
speak will soon be wise and his soul will profit. But woe to
those who inquire of men about many curious things, and care
very little about the way they serve Me.
The time will come when Christ, the Teacher of teachers, the
Lord of angels, will appear to hear the lessons of all -- that
is, to examine the conscience of everyone. Then He will search
Jerusalem with lamps and the hidden things of darkness will be
brought to light and the arguings of men's tongues be silenced.
I am He Who in one moment so enlightens the humble mind that
it comprehends more of eternal truth than could be learned by
ten years in the schools. I teach without noise of words or
clash of opinions, without ambition for honor or confusion of
I am He Who teaches man to despise earthly possessions and to
loathe present things, to ask after the eternal, to hunger for
heaven, to fly honors and to bear with scandals, to place all
hope in Me, to desire nothing apart from Me, and to love Me
ardently above all things. For a certain man by loving Me
intimately learned divine truths and spoke wonders. He profited
more by leaving all things than by studying subtle questions.
To some I speak of common things, to others of special
matters. To some I appear with sweetness in signs and figures,
and to others I appear in great light and reveal mysteries. The
voice of books is but a single voice, yet it does not teach all
men alike, because I within them am the Teacher and the Truth,
the Examiner of hearts, the Understander of thoughts, the
Promoter of acts, distributing to each as I see fit.
--- The Forty-Fourth Chapter
DO NOT BE CONCERNED ABOUT OUTWARD THINGS
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, there are many matters of which it is well for you
to be ignorant, and to consider yourself as one who is dead upon
the earth and to whom the whole world is crucified. There are
many things, too, which it is well to pass by with a deaf ear,
thinking, instead, of what is more to your peace. It is more
profitable to turn away from things which displease you and to
leave to every man his own opinion than to take part in
quarrelsome talk. If you stand well with God and look to His
judgment, you will more easily bear being worsted.
To what have we come, Lord? Behold, we bewail a temporal
loss. We labor and fret for a small gain, while loss of the soul
is forgotten and scarcely ever returns to mind. That which is of
little or no value claims our attention, whereas that which is
of highest necessity is neglected -- all because man gives
himself wholly to outward things. And unless he withdraws
himself quickly, he willingly lies immersed in externals.
--- The Forty-Fifth Chapter
ALL MEN ARE NOT TO BE BELIEVED, FOR IT IS EASY TO ERR IN
GRANT me help in my needs, O Lord, for the aid of man is
useless. How often have I failed to find faithfulness in places
where I thought I possessed it! And how many times I have found
it where I least expected it! Vain, therefore, is hope in men,
but the salvation of the just is in You, O God. Blessed be Your
name, O Lord my God, in everything that befalls us.
We are weak and unstable, quickly deceived and changed. Who
is the man that is able to guard himself with such caution and
care as not sometimes to fall into deception or perplexity? He
who confides in You, O Lord, and seeks You with a simple heart
does not fall so easily. And if some trouble should come upon
him, no matter how entangled in it he may be, he will be more
quickly delivered and comforted by You. For You will not forsake
him who trusts in You to the very end.
Rare is the friend who remains faithful through all his
friend's distress. But You, Lord, and You alone, are entirely
faithful in all things; other than You, there is none so
Oh, how wise is that holy soul
who said: "My mind is firmly settled and founded in Christ." If
that were true of me, human fear would not so easily cause me
anxiety, nor would the darts of words disturb. But who can
foresee all things and provide against all evils? And if things
foreseen have often hurt, can those which are unlooked for do
otherwise than wound us gravely? Why, indeed, have I not
provided better for my wretched self? Why, too, have I so easily
kept faith in others? We are but men, however, nothing more than
weak men, although we are thought by many to be, and are called,
In whom shall I put my faith, Lord? In whom but You? You are
the truth which does not deceive and cannot be deceived. Every
man, on the other hand, is a liar, weak, unstable, and likely to
err, especially in words, so that one ought not to be too quick
to believe even that which seems, on the face of it, to sound
true. How wise was Your warning to beware of men; that a man's
enemies are those of his own household; that we should not
believe if anyone says: "Behold he is here, or behold he is
I have been taught to my own cost, and I hope it has given me
greater caution, not greater folly. "Beware," they say, "beware
and keep to yourself what I tell you!" Then while I keep silent,
believing that the matter is secret, he who asks me to be silent
cannot remain silent himself, but immediately betrays both me
and himself, and goes his way. From tales of this kind and from
such careless men protect me, O Lord, lest I fall into their
hands and into their ways. Put in my mouth words that are true
and steadfast and keep far from me the crafty tongue, because
what I am not willing to suffer I ought by all means to shun.
Oh, how good and how peaceful it is to be silent about
others, not to believe without discrimination all that is said,
not easily to report it further, to reveal oneself to few,
always to seek You as the discerner of hearts, and not to be
blown away by every wind of words, but to wish that all things,
within and beyond us, be done according to the pleasure of Thy
How conducive it is for the keeping of heavenly grace to fly
the gaze of men, not to seek abroad things which seem to cause
admiration, but to follow with utmost diligence those which give
fervor and amendment of life! How many have been harmed by
having their virtue known and praised too hastily! And how truly
profitable it has been when grace remained hidden during this
frail life, which is all temptation and warfare!
--- The Forty-Sixth Chapter
TRUST IN GOD AGAINST SLANDER
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, stand firm and trust in Me. For what are words but
words? They fly through the air but hurt not a stone. If you are
guilty, consider how you would gladly amend. If you are not
conscious of any fault, think that you wish to bear this for the
sake of God. It is little enough for you occasionally to endure
words, since you are not yet strong enough to bear hard blows.
And why do such small matters pierce you to the heart, unless
because you are still carnal and pay more heed to men than you
ought? You do not wish to be reproved for your faults and you
seek shelter in excuses because you are afraid of being
despised. But look into yourself more thoroughly and you will
learn that the world is still alive in you, in a vain desire to
please men. For when you shrink from being abased and confounded
for your failings, it is plain indeed that you are not truly
humble or truly dead to the world, and that the world is not
crucified in you.
Listen to My word, and you will not value ten thousand words
of men. Behold, if every malicious thing that could possibly be
invented were uttered against you, what harm could it do if you
ignored it all and gave it no more thought than you would a
blade of grass? Could it so much as pluck one hair from your
He who does not keep his heart within him, and who does not
have God before his eyes is easily moved by a word of
disparagement. He who trusts in Me, on the other hand, and who
has no desire to stand by his own judgment, will be free from
the fear of men. For I am the judge and discerner of all
secrets. I know how all things happen. I know who causes injury
and who suffers it. From Me that word proceeded, and with My
permission it happened, that out of many hearts thoughts may be
revealed. I shall judge the guilty and the innocent; but I have
wished beforehand to try them both by secret judgment.
The testimony of man is often deceiving, but My judgment is
true -- it will stand and not be overthrown. It is hidden from
many and made known to but a few. Yet it is never mistaken and
cannot be mistaken even though it does not seem right in the
eyes of the unwise.
To Me, therefore, you ought to come in every decision, not
depending on your own judgment. For the just man will not be
disturbed, no matter what may befall him from God. Even if an
unjust charge be made against him he will not be much troubled.
Neither will he exult vainly if through others he is justly
acquitted. He considers that it is I Who search the hearts and
inmost thoughts of men, that I do not judge according to the
face of things or human appearances. For what the judgment of
men considers praiseworthy is often worthy of blame in My sight.
O Lord God, just Judge, strong and patient, You Who know the
weakness and depravity of men, be my strength and all my
confidence, for my own conscience is not sufficient for me. You
know what I do not know, and, therefore, I ought to humble
myself whenever I am accused and bear it meekly. Forgive me,
then, in Your mercy for my every failure in this regard, and
give me once more the grace of greater endurance. Better to me
is Your abundant mercy in obtaining pardon than the justice
which I imagine in defending the secrets of my conscience. And
though I am not conscious to myself of any fault, yet I cannot
thereby justify myself, because without Your mercy no man living
will be justified in Your sight.
--- The Forty-Seventh Chapter
EVERY TRIAL MUST BE BORNE FOR THE SAKE OF ETERNAL LIFE
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, do not let the labors which you have taken up for
My sake break you, and do not let troubles, from whatever
source, cast you down; but in everything let My promise
strengthen and console you. I am able to reward you beyond all
means and measure.
You will not labor here long, nor will you always be
oppressed by sorrows. Wait a little while and you will see a
speedy end of evils. The hour will come when all labor and
trouble shall be no more. All that passes away with time is
What you do, do well. Work faithfully in My vineyard. I will
be your reward. Write, read, sing, mourn, keep silence, pray,
and bear hardships like a man. Eternal life is worth all these
and greater battles. Peace will come on a day which is known to
the Lord, and then there shall be no day or night as at present
but perpetual light, infinite brightness, lasting peace, and
safe repose. Then you will not say: "Who shall deliver me from
the body of this death?" nor will you cry: "Woe is me, because
my sojourn is prolonged." For then death will be banished, and
there will be health unfailing. There will be no anxiety then,
but blessed joy and sweet, noble companionship.
If you could see the everlasting crowns of the saints in
heaven, and the great glory wherein they now rejoice -- they who
were once considered contemptible in this world and, as it were,
unworthy of life itself -- you would certainly humble yourself
at once to the very earth, and seek to be subject to all rather
than to command even one. Nor would you desire the pleasant days
of this life, but rather be glad to suffer for God, considering
it your greatest gain to be counted as nothing among men.
Oh, if these things appealed to you and penetrated deeply
into your heart, how could you dare to complain even once? Ought
not all trials be borne for the sake of everlasting life? In
truth, the loss or gain of God's kingdom is no small matter.
Lift up your countenance to heaven, then. Behold Me, and with
Me all My saints. They had great trials in this life, but now
they rejoice. They are consoled. Now they are safe and at rest.
And they shall abide with Me for all eternity in the kingdom of
--- The Forty-Eighth Chapter
THE DAY OF ETERNITY AND THE DISTRESSES OF THIS LIFE
O MOST happy mansion of the city above! O most bright day of
eternity, which night does not darken, but which the highest
truth ever enlightens! O day, ever joyful and ever secure, which
never changes its state to the opposite! Oh, that this day shine
forth, that all these temporal things come to an end! It
envelops the saints all resplendent with heavenly brightness,
but it appears far off as through a glass to us wanderers on the
earth. The citizens of heaven know how joyful that day is, but
the exiled sons of Eve mourn that this one is bitter and
The days of this life are short and evil, full of grief and
distress. Here man is defiled by many sins, ensnared in many
passions, enslaved by many fears, and burdened with many cares.
He is distracted by many curiosities and entangled in many
vanities, surrounded by many errors and worn by many labors,
oppressed by temptations, weakened by pleasures, and tortured by
Oh, when will these evils end? When shall I be freed from the
miserable slavery of vice? When, Lord, shall I think of You
alone? When shall I fully rejoice in You? When shall I be
without hindrance, in true liberty, free from every grievance of
mind and body? When will there be solid peace, undisturbed and
secure, inward peace and outward peace, peace secured on every
side? O good Jesus, when shall I stand to gaze upon You? When
shall I contemplate the glory of Your kingdom? When will You be
all in all to me? Oh, when shall I be with You in that kingdom
of Yours, which You have prepared for Your beloved from all
I am left poor and exiled in a hostile land, where every day
sees wars and very great misfortunes. Console my banishment,
assuage my sorrow. My whole desire is for You. Whatever solace
this world offers is a burden to me. I desire to enjoy You
intimately, but I cannot attain to it. I wish to cling fast to
heavenly things, but temporal affairs and unmortified passions
bear me down. I wish in mind to be above all things, but I am
forced by the flesh to be unwillingly subject to them. Thus, I
fight with myself, unhappy that I am, and am become a burden to
myself, while my spirit seeks to rise upward and my flesh to
sink downward. Oh, what inward suffering I undergo when I
consider heavenly things; when I pray, a multitude of carnal
thoughts rush upon me!
O my God, do not remove Yourself far from me, and depart not
in anger from Your servant. Dart forth Your lightning and
disperse them; send forth Your arrows and let the phantoms of
the enemy be put to flight. Draw my senses toward You and make
me forget all worldly things. Grant me the grace to cast away
quickly all vicious imaginings and to scorn them. Aid me, O
heavenly Truth, that no vanity may move me. Come, heavenly
Sweetness, and let all impurity fly from before Your face.
Pardon me also, and deal mercifully with me, as often as I
think of anything besides You in prayer. For I confess truly
that I am accustomed to be very much distracted. Very often I am
not where bodily I stand or sit; rather, I am where my thoughts
carry me. Where my thoughts are, there am I; and frequently my
thoughts are where my love is. That which naturally delights, or
is by habit pleasing, comes to me quickly. Hence You Who are
Truth itself, have plainly said: "For where your treasure is,
there is your heart also." If I love heaven, I think willingly
of heavenly things. If I love the world, I rejoice at the
happiness of the world and grieve at its troubles. If I love the
flesh, I often imagine things that are carnal. If I love the
spirit, I delight in thinking of spiritual matters. For whatever
I love, I am willing to speak and hear about.
Blessed is the man who for Your sake, O Lord, dismisses all
creatures, does violence to nature, crucifies the desires of the
flesh in fervor of spirit, so that with serene conscience he can
offer You a pure prayer and, having excluded all earthly things
inwardly and outwardly, becomes worthy to enter into the
--- The Forty-Ninth Chapter
THE DESIRE OF ETERNAL LIFE; THE GREAT REWARDS PROMISED TO
THOSE WHO STRUGGLE
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, when you feel the desire for everlasting happiness
poured out upon you from above, and when you long to depart out
of the tabernacle of the body that you may contemplate My glory
without threat of change, open wide your heart and receive this
holy inspiration with all eagerness. Give deepest thanks to the
heavenly Goodness which deals with you so understandingly,
visits you so mercifully, stirs you so fervently, and sustains
you so powerfully lest under your own weight you sink down to
earthly things. For you obtain this not by your own thought or
effort, but simply by the condescension of heavenly grace and
divine regard. And the purpose of it is that you may advance in
virtue and in greater humility, that you may prepare yourself
for future trials, that you may strive to cling to Me with all
the affection of your heart, and may serve Me with a fervent
My child, often, when the fire is burning the flame does not
ascend without smoke. Likewise, the desires of some burn toward
heavenly things, and yet they are not free from temptations of
carnal affection. Therefore, it is not altogether for the pure
honor of God that they act when they petition Him so earnestly.
Such, too, is often your desire which you profess to be so
strong. For that which is alloyed with self-interest is not pure
Ask, therefore, not for what is pleasing and convenient to
yourself, but for what is acceptable to Me and is for My honor,
because if you judge rightly, you ought to prefer and follow My
will, not your own desire or whatever things you wish.
I know your longings and I have heard your frequent sighs.
Already you wish to be in the liberty of the glory of the sons
of God. Already you desire the delights of the eternal home, the
heavenly land that is full of joy. But that hour is not yet
come. There remains yet another hour, a time of war, of labor,
and of trial. You long to be filled with the highest good, but
you cannot attain it now. I am that sovereign Good. Await Me,
until the kingdom of God shall come.
You must still be tried on earth, and exercised in many
things. Consolation will sometimes be given you, but the
complete fullness of it is not granted. Take courage, therefore,
and be strong both to do and to suffer what is contrary to
You must put on the new man. You must be changed into another
man. You must often do the things you do not wish to do and
forego those you do wish. What pleases others will succeed; what
pleases you will not. The words of others will be heard; what
you say will be accounted as nothing. Others will ask and
receive; you will ask and not receive. Others will gain great
fame among men; about you nothing will be said. To others the
doing of this or that will be entrusted; you will be judged
useless. At all this nature will sometimes be sad, and it will
be a great thing if you bear this sadness in silence. For in
these and many similar ways the faithful servant of the Lord is
wont to be tried, to see how far he can deny himself and break
himself in all things.
There is scarcely anything in which you so need to die to
self as in seeing and suffering things that are against your
will, especially when things that are commanded seem
inconvenient or useless. Then, because you are under authority,
and dare not resist the higher power, it seems hard to submit to
the will of another and give up your own opinion entirely.
But consider, my child, the fruit of these labors, how soon
they will end and how greatly they will be rewarded, and you
will not be saddened by them, but your patience will receive the
strongest consolation. For instead of the little will that you
now readily give up, you shall always have your will in heaven.
There, indeed, you shall find all that you could desire. There
you shall have possession of every good without fear of losing
it. There shall your will be forever one with Mine. It shall
desire nothing outside of Me and nothing for itself. There no
one shall oppose you, no one shall complain of you, no one
hinder you, and nothing stand in your way. All that you desire
will be present there, replenishing your affection and
satisfying it to the full. There I shall render you glory for
the reproach you have suffered here; for your sorrow I shall
give you a garment of praise, and for the lowest place a seat of
power forever. There the fruit of glory will appear, the labor
of penance rejoice, and humble subjection be gloriously crowned.
Bow humbly, therefore, under the will of all, and do not heed
who said this or commanded that. But let it be your special care
when something is commanded, or even hinted at, whether by a
superior or an inferior or an equal, that you take it in good
part and try honestly to perform it. Let one person seek one
thing and another something else. Let one glory in this, another
in that, and both be praised a thousand times over. But as for
you, rejoice neither in one or the other, but only in contempt
of yourself and in My pleasure and honor. Let this be your wish:
That whether in life or in death God may be glorified in you.
--- The Fiftieth Chapter
HOW A DESOLATE PERSON OUGHT TO COMMIT HIMSELF INTO THE HANDS
LORD God, Holy Father, may You be blessed now and in
eternity. For as You will, so is it done; and what You do is
good. Let Your servant rejoice in You -- not in himself or in
any other, for You alone are true joy. You are my hope and my
crown. You, O Lord, are my joy and my honor.
What does Your servant possess that he has not received from
You, and that without any merit of his own? Yours are all the
things which You have given, all the things which You have made.
I am poor and in labors since my youth, and my soul is
sorrowful sometimes even to the point of tears. At times, also,
my spirit is troubled because of impending sufferings. I long
for the joy of peace. Earnestly I beg for the peace of Your
children who are fed by You in the light of consolation. If You
give peace, if You infuse holy joy, the soul of Your servant
shall be filled with holy song and be devout in praising You.
But if You withdraw Yourself, as You so very often do, he will
not be able to follow the way of Your commandments, but will
rather be obliged to strike his breast and bend the knee,
because his today is different from yesterday and the day before
when Your light shone upon his head and he was protected in the
shadow of Your wings from the temptations rushing upon him.
Just Father, ever to be praised, the hour is come for Your
servant to be tried. Beloved Father, it is right that in this
hour Your servant should suffer something for You. O Father,
forever to be honored, the hour which You knew from all eternity
is at hand, when for a short time Your servant should be
outwardly oppressed, but inwardly should ever live with You.
Let him be a little slighted, let him be humbled, let him
fail in the sight of men, let him be afflicted with sufferings
and pains, so that he may rise again with You in the dawn of the
new light and be glorified in heaven.
Holy Father, You have so appointed and wished it. What has
happened is what You commanded. For this is a favor to Your
friend, to suffer and be troubled in the world for Your love, no
matter how often and by whom You permit it to happen to him.
Nothing happens in the world without Your design and
providence, and without cause. It is well for me, O Lord, that
You have humbled me, that I may learn the justice of Your
judgments and cast away all presumption and haughtiness of
heart. It is profitable for me that shame has covered my face
that I may look to You rather than to men for consolation.
Hereby I have learned also to fear Your inscrutable judgment
falling alike upon the just and unjust yet not without equity
Thanks to You that You have not spared me evils but have
bruised me with bitter blows, inflicting sorrows, sending
distress without and within. Under heaven there is none to
console me except You, my Lord God, the heavenly Physician of
souls, Who wound and heal, Who cast down to hell and raise up
again. Your discipline is upon me and Your very rod shall
Behold, beloved Father, I am in Your hands. I bow myself
under Your correcting chastisement. Strike my back and my neck,
that I may bend my crookedness to Your will. Make of me a pious
and humble follower, as in Your goodness You are wont to do,
that I may walk according to Your every nod. Myself and all that
is mine I commit to You to be corrected, for it is better to be
punished here than hereafter.
You know all things without exception, and nothing in man's
conscience is hidden from You. Coming events You know before
they happen, and there is no need for anyone to teach or
admonish You of what is being done on earth. You know what will
promote my progress, and how much tribulation will serve to
cleanse away the rust of vice. Deal with me according to Your
good pleasure and do not despise my sinful life, which is known
to none so well or so clearly as to You alone.
Grant me, O Lord, the grace to know what should be known, to
praise what is most pleasing to You, to esteem that which
appears most precious to You, and to abhor what is unclean in
Do not allow me to judge according to the light of my bodily
eyes, nor to give sentence according to the hearing of ignorant
men's ears. But let me distinguish with true judgment between
things visible and spiritual, and always seek above all things
Your good pleasure. The senses of men often err in their
judgments, and the lovers of this world also err in loving only
visible things. How is a man the better for being thought
greater by men? The deceiver deceives the deceitful, the vain
man deceives the vain, the blind deceives the blind, the weak
deceives the weak as often as he extols them, and in truth his
foolish praise shames them the more. For, as the humble St.
Francis says, whatever anyone is in Your sight, that he is and
--- The Fifty-First Chapter
WHEN WE CANNOT ATTAIN TO THE HIGHEST, WE MUST PRACTICE THE
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, you cannot always continue in the more fervent
desire of virtue, or remain in the higher stage of
contemplation, but because of humanity's sin you must sometimes
descend to lower things and bear the burden of this corruptible
life, albeit unwillingly and wearily. As long as you wear a
mortal body you will suffer weariness and heaviness of heart.
You ought, therefore, to bewail in the flesh the burden of the
flesh which keeps you from giving yourself unceasingly to
spiritual exercises and divine contemplation.
In such condition, it is well for you to apply yourself to
humble, outward works and to refresh yourself in good deeds, to
await with unshaken confidence My heavenly visitation, patiently
to bear your exile and dryness of mind until you are again
visited by Me and freed of all anxieties. For I will cause you
to forget your labors and to enjoy inward quiet. I will spread
before you the open fields of the Scriptures, so that with an
open heart you may begin to advance in the way of My
commandments. And you will say: the sufferings of this time are
not worthy to be compared with the future glory which shall be
revealed to us.
--- The Fifty-Second Chapter
A MAN OUGHT NOT TO CONSIDER HIMSELF WORTHY OF CONSOLATION,
BUT RATHER DESERVING OF CHASTISEMENT
LORD, I am not worthy of Your consolation or of any spiritual
visitation. Therefore, You treat me justly when You leave me
poor and desolate. For though I could shed a sea of tears, yet I
should not be worthy of Your consolation. Hence, I deserve only
to be scourged and punished because I have offended You often
and grievously, and have sinned greatly in many things. In all
justice, therefore, I am not worthy of any consolation.
But You, O gracious and merciful God, Who do not will that
Your works should perish, deign to console Your servant beyond
all his merit and above human measure, to show the riches of
Your goodness toward the vessels of mercy. For Your consolations
are not like the words of men.
What have I done, Lord, that You should confer on me any
heavenly comfort? I remember that I have done nothing good, but
that I have always been prone to sin and slow to amend. That is
true. I cannot deny it. If I said otherwise You would stand
against me, and there would be no one to defend me. What have I
deserved for my sins except hell and everlasting fire?
In truth, I confess that I am deserving of all scorn and
contempt. Neither is it fitting that I should be remembered
among Your devoted servants. And although it is hard for me to
hear this, yet for truth's sake I will allege my sins against
myself, so that I may more easily deserve to beg Your mercy.
What shall I say, guilty as I am and full of all confusion? My
tongue can say nothing but this alone: "I have sinned, O Lord, I
have sinned; have mercy on me and pardon me. Suffer me a little
that I may pour out my grief, before I go to that dark land that
is covered with the shadow of death."
What do you especially demand of a guilty and wretched
sinner, except that he be contrite and humble himself for his
sins? In true sorrow and humility of heart hope of forgiveness
is born, the troubled conscience is reconciled, grace is found,
man is preserved from the wrath to come, and God and the
penitent meet with a holy kiss.
To You, O Lord, humble sorrow for sins is an acceptable
sacrifice, a sacrifice far sweeter than the perfume of incense.
This is also the pleasing ointment which You would have poured
upon Your sacred feet, for a contrite and humble heart You have
never despised. Here is a place of refuge from the force of the
enemy's anger. Here is amended and washed away whatever
defilement has been contracted elsewhere.
--- The Fifty-Third Chapter
GOD'S GRACE IS NOT GIVEN TO THE EARTHLY MINDED
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, my grace is precious. It does not allow itself to
be mixed with external things or with earthly consolations. Cast
away all obstacles to grace, therefore, if you wish to receive
Seek to retire within yourself. Love to dwell alone with
yourself. Seek no man's conversation, but rather pour forth
devout prayer to God that you may keep your mind contrite and
your heart pure.
Consider the whole world as nothing. Prefer attendance upon
God to all outward occupation, for you cannot attend upon Me and
at the same time take delight in external things. You must
remove yourself from acquaintances and from dear friends, and
keep your mind free of all temporal consolation. Thus the
blessed Apostle St. Peter begs the faithful of Christ to keep
themselves as strangers and pilgrims in the world.
What great confidence at the hour of death shall be his who
is not attached to this world by any affection. But the sickly
soul does not know what it is to have a heart thus separated
from all things, nor does the natural man know the liberty of
the spiritual man. Yet, if he truly wishes to be spiritual, he
must renounce both strangers and friends, and must beware of no
one more than himself.
If you completely conquer yourself, you will more easily
subdue all other things. The perfect victory is to triumph over
self. For he who holds himself in such subjection that
sensuality obeys reason and reason obeys Me in all matters, is
truly his own conqueror and master of the world.
Now, if you wish to climb to this high position you must
begin like a man, and lay the ax to the root, in order to tear
out and destroy any hidden unruly love of self or of earthly
goods. From this vice of too much self-love comes almost every
other vice that must be uprooted. And when this evil is
vanquished, and brought under control, great peace and quiet
will follow at once.
But because few labor to die entirely to self, or tend
completely away from self, therefore they remain entangled in
self, and cannot be lifted in spirit above themselves. But he
who desires to walk freely with Me must mortify all his low and
inordinate affections, and must not cling with selfish love or
desire to any creature.
--- The Fifty-Fourth Chapter
THE DIFFERENT MOTIONS OF NATURE AND GRACE
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, pay careful attention to the movements of nature
and of grace, for they move in very contrary and subtle ways,
and can scarcely be distinguished by anyone except a man who is
spiritual and inwardly enlightened. All men, indeed, desire what
is good, and strive for what is good in their words and deeds.
For this reason the appearance of good deceives many.
Nature is crafty and attracts many, ensnaring and deceiving
them while ever seeking itself. But grace walks in simplicity,
turns away from all appearance of evil, offers no deceits, and
does all purely for God in whom she rests as her last end.
Nature is not willing to die, or to be kept down, or to be
overcome. Nor will it subdue itself or be made subject. Grace,
on the contrary, strives for mortification of self. She resists
sensuality, seeks to be in subjection, longs to be conquered,
has no wish to use her own liberty, loves to be held under
discipline, and does not desire to rule over anyone, but wishes
rather to live, to stand, and to be always under God for Whose
sake she is willing to bow humbly to every human creature.
Nature works for its own interest and looks to the profit it
can reap from another. Grace does not consider what is useful
and advantageous to herself, but rather what is profitable to
many. Nature likes to receive honor and reverence, but grace
faithfully attributes all honor and glory to God. Nature fears
shame and contempt, but grace is happy to suffer reproach for
the name of Jesus. Nature loves ease and physical rest. Grace,
however, cannot bear to be idle and embraces labor willingly.
Nature seeks to possess what is rare and beautiful, abhorring
things that are cheap and coarse. Grace, on the contrary,
delights in simple, humble things, not despising those that are
rough, nor refusing to be clothed in old garments.
Nature has regard for temporal wealth and rejoices in earthly
gains. It is sad over a loss and irritated by a slight,
injurious word. But grace looks to eternal things and does not
cling to those which are temporal, being neither disturbed at
loss nor angered by hard words, because she has placed her
treasure and joy in heaven where nothing is lost.
Nature is covetous, and receives more willingly than it
gives. It loves to have its own private possessions. Grace,
however, is kind and openhearted. Grace shuns private interest,
is contented with little, and judges it more blessed to give
than to receive.
Nature is inclined toward creatures, toward its own flesh,
toward vanities, and toward running about. But grace draws near
to God and to virtue, renounces creatures, hates the desires of
the flesh, restrains her wanderings and blushes at being seen in
Nature likes to have some external comfort in which it can
take sensual delight, but grace seeks consolation only in God,
to find her delight in the highest Good, above all visible
Nature does everything for its own gain and interest. It can
do nothing without pay and hopes for its good deeds to receive
their equal or better, or else praise and favor. It is very
desirous of having its deeds and gifts highly regarded. Grace,
however, seeks nothing temporal, nor does she ask any recompense
but God alone. Of temporal necessities she asks no more than
will serve to obtain eternity.
Nature rejoices in many friends and kinsfolk, glories in
noble position and birth, fawns on the powerful, flatters the
rich, and applauds those who are like itself. But grace loves
even her enemies and is not puffed up at having many friends.
She does not think highly of either position or birth unless
there is also virtue there. She favors the poor in preference to
the rich. She sympathizes with the innocent rather than with the
powerful. She rejoices with the true man rather than with the
deceitful, and is always exhorting the good to strive for better
gifts, to become like the Son of God by practicing the virtues.
Nature is quick to complain of need and trouble; grace is
stanch in suffering want. Nature turns all things back to self.
It fights and argues for self. Grace brings all things back to
God in Whom they have their source. To herself she ascribes no
good, nor is she arrogant or presumptuous. She is not
contentious. She does not prefer her own opinion to the opinion
of others, but in every matter of sense and thought submits
herself to eternal wisdom and the divine judgment.
Nature has a relish for knowing secrets and hearing news. It
wishes to appear abroad and to have many sense experiences. It
wishes to be known and to do things for which it will be praised
and admired. But grace does not care to hear news or curious
matters, because all this arises from the old corruption of man,
since there is nothing new, nothing lasting on earth. Grace
teaches, therefore, restraint of the senses, avoidance of vain
self-satisfaction and show, the humble hiding of deeds worthy of
praise and admiration, and the seeking in every thing and in
every knowledge the fruit of usefulness, the praise and honor of
God. She will not have herself or hers exalted, but desires that
God Who bestows all simply out of love should be blessed in His
This grace is a supernatural light, a certain special gift of
God, the proper mark of the elect and the pledge of everlasting
salvation. It raises man up from earthly things to love the
things of heaven. It makes a spiritual man of a carnal one. The
more, then, nature is held in check and conquered, the more
grace is given. Every day the interior man is reformed by new
visitations according to the image of God.
--- The Fifty-Fifth Chapter
THE CORRUPTION OF NATURE AND THE EFFICACY OF DIVINE GRACE
O LORD, my God, Who created me to Your own image and
likeness, grant me this grace which You have shown to be so
great and necessary for salvation, that I may overcome my very
evil nature that is drawing me to sin and perdition. For I feel
in my flesh the law of sin contradicting the law of my mind and
leading me captive to serve sensuality in many things. I cannot
resist the passions thereof unless Your most holy grace warmly
infused into my heart assist me.
There is need of Your grace, and of great grace, in order to
overcome a nature prone to evil from youth. For through the
first man, Adam, nature is fallen and weakened by sin, and the
punishment of that stain has fallen upon all mankind. Thus
nature itself, which You created good and right, is considered a
symbol of vice and the weakness of corrupted nature, because
when left to itself it tends toward evil and to baser things.
The little strength remaining in it is like a spark hidden in
ashes. That strength is natural reason which, surrounded by
thick darkness, still has the power of judging good and evil, of
seeing the difference between true and false, though it is not
able to fulfill all that it approves and does not enjoy the full
light of truth or soundness of affection.
Hence it is, my God, that according to the inward man I
delight in Your law, knowing that Your command is good, just,
and holy, and that it proves the necessity of shunning all evil
and sin. But in the flesh I keep the law of sin, obeying
sensuality rather than reason. Hence, also, it is that the will
to good is present in me, but how to accomplish it I know not.
Hence, too, I often propose many good things, but because the
grace to help my weakness is lacking, I recoil and give up at
the slightest resistance. Thus it is that I know the way of
perfection and see clearly enough how I ought to act, but
because I am pressed down by the weight of my own corruption I
do not rise to more perfect things.
How extremely necessary to me, O Lord, Your grace is to begin
any good deed, to carry it on and bring it to completion! For
without grace I can do nothing, but with its strength I can do
all things in You. O Grace truly heavenly, without which our
merits are nothing and no gifts of nature are to be esteemed!
Before You, O Lord, no arts or riches, no beauty or strength,
no wit or intelligence avail without grace. For the gifts of
nature are common to good and bad alike, but the peculiar gift
of Your elect is grace or love, and those who are signed with it
are held worthy of everlasting life. So excellent is this grace
that without it no gift of prophecy or of miracles, no
meditation be it ever so exalted, can be considered anything.
Not even faith or hope or other virtues are acceptable to You
without charity and grace.
O most blessed grace, which makes the poor in spirit rich in
virtues, which renders him who is rich in many good things
humble of heart, come, descend upon me, fill me quickly with
your consolation lest my soul faint with weariness and dryness
Let me find grace in Your sight, I beg, Lord, for Your grace
is enough for me, even though I obtain none of the things which
nature desires. If I am tempted and afflicted with many
tribulations, I will fear no evils while Your grace is with me.
This is my strength. This will give me counsel and help. This is
more powerful than all my enemies and wiser than all the wise.
This is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the
light of the heart, the consoler in anguish, the banisher of
sorrow, the expeller of fear, the nourisher of devotion, the
producer of tears. What am I without grace, but dead wood, a
useless branch, fit only to be cast away?
Let Your grace, therefore, go before me and follow me, O
Lord, and make me always intent upon good works, through Jesus
Christ, Your Son.
--- The Fifty-Sixth Chapter
WE OUGHT TO DENY OURSELVES AND IMITATE CHRIST THROUGH
BEARING THE CROSS
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, the more you depart from yourself, the more you
will be able to enter into Me. As the giving up of exterior
things brings interior peace, so the forsaking of self unites
you to God. I will have you learn perfect surrender to My will,
without contradiction or complaint.
Follow Me. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the
Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing.
Without the Life, there is no living. I am the Way which you
must follow, the Truth which you must believe, the Life for
which you must hope. I am the inviolable Way, the infallible
Truth, the unending Life. I am the Way that is straight, the
supreme Truth, the Life that is true, the blessed, the uncreated
Life. If you abide in My Way you shall know the Truth, and the
Truth shall make you free, and you shall attain life
If you wish to enter into life, keep My commandments. If you
will know the truth, believe in Me. If you will be perfect, sell
all. If you will be My disciple, deny yourself. If you will
possess the blessed life, despise this present life. If you will
be exalted in heaven, humble yourself on earth. If you wish to
reign with Me, carry the Cross with Me. For only the servants of
the Cross find the life of blessedness and of true light.
Lord Jesus, because Your way is narrow and despised by the
world, grant that I may despise the world and imitate You. For
the servant is not greater than his Lord, nor the disciple above
the Master. Let Your servant be trained in Your life, for there
is my salvation and true holiness. Whatever else I read or hear
does not fully refresh or delight me.
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
My child, now that you know these things and have read them
all, happy will you be if you do them. He who has My
commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me. And I will
love him and will show Myself to him, and will bring it about
that he will sit down with Me in My Father's Kingdom.
Lord Jesus, as You have said, so be it, and what You have
promised, let it be my lot to win. I have received the cross,
from Your hand I have received it. I will carry it, carry it
even unto death as You have laid it upon me. Truly, the life of
a good religious man is a cross, but it leads to paradise. We
have begun -- we may not go back, nor may we leave off.
Take courage, brethren, let us go forward together and Jesus
will be with us. For Jesus' sake we have taken this cross. For
Jesus' sake let us persevere with it. He will be our help as He
is also our leader and guide. Behold, our King goes before us
and will fight for us. Let us follow like men. Let no man fear
any terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in
battle. Let us not suffer our glory to be blemished by fleeing
from the Cross.
--- The Fifty-Seventh Chapter
A MAN SHOULD NOT BE TOO DOWNCAST WHEN HE FALLS INTO DEFECTS
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, patience and humility in adversity are more
pleasing to Me than much consolation and devotion when things
are going well.
Why are you saddened by some little thing said against you?
Even if it had been more you ought not to have been affected.
But now let it pass. It is not the first, nor is it anything
new, and if you live long it will not be the last.
You are manly enough so long as you meet no opposition. You
give good advice to others, and you know how to strengthen them
with words, but when unexpected tribulation comes to your door,
you fail both in counsel and in strength. Consider your great
weakness, then, which you experience so often in small matters.
Yet when these and like trials happen, they happen for your
Put it out of your heart as best you know how, and if it has
touched you, still do not let it cast you down or confuse you
for long. Bear it patiently at least, if you cannot bear it
cheerfully. Even though you bear it unwillingly, and are
indignant at it, restrain yourself and let no ill-ordered words
pass your lips at which the weak might be scandalized. The storm
that is now aroused will soon be quieted and your inward grief
will be sweetened by returning grace. "I yet live," says the
Lord, "ready to help you and to console you more and more, if
you trust in Me and call devoutly upon Me."
Remain tranquil and prepare to bear still greater trials. All
is not lost even though you be troubled oftener or tempted more
grievously. You are a man, not God. You are flesh, not an angel.
How can you possibly expect to remain always in the same state
of virtue when the angels in heaven and the first man in
paradise failed to do so? I am He Who rescues the afflicted and
brings to My divinity those who know their own weakness.
Blessed be Your words, O Lord, sweeter to my mouth than honey
and the honeycomb. What would I do in such great trials and
anxieties, if You did not strengthen me with Your holy words? If
I may but attain to the haven of salvation, what does it matter
what or how much I suffer? Grant me a good end. Grant me a happy
passage out of this world. Remember me, my God, and lead me by
the right way into Your kingdom.
--- The Fifty-Eighth Chapter
HIGH MATTERS AND THE HIDDEN JUDGMENTS OF GOD ARE NOT TO BE
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
MY CHILD, beware of discussing high matters and God's hidden
judgments -- why this person is so forsaken and why that one is
favored with so great a grace, or why one man is so afflicted
and another so highly exalted. Such things are beyond all human
understanding and no reason or disputation can fathom the
judgments of God.
When the enemy puts such suggestions in your mind, therefore,
or when some curious persons raise questions about them, answer
with the prophet: "Thou art just, O Lord, and righteous are Thy
and this: "The judgments of the Lord are true and wholly
My judgments are to be feared, not discussed, because they are
incomprehensible to the understanding of men.
In like manner, do not inquire or dispute about the merits of
the saints, as to which is more holy, or which shall be greater
in the kingdom of heaven. Such things often breed strife and
useless contentions. They nourish pride and vainglory, whence
arise envy and quarrels, when one proudly tries to exalt one
saint and the other another. A desire to know and pry into such
matters brings forth no fruit. On the contrary, it displeases
the saints, because I am the God, not of dissension, but of
peace -- of that peace which consists in true humility rather
than in self-exaltation.
Some are drawn by the ardor of their love with greater
affection to these saints or to those, but this affection is
human and not divine. I am He who made all the saints. I gave
them grace: I brought them to glory. I know the merits of each
of them. I came before them in the blessings of My sweetness. I
knew My beloved ones before the ages. I chose them out of the
world -- they did not choose Me. I called them by grace, I drew
them on by mercy. I led them safely through various temptations.
I poured into them glorious consolations. I gave them
perseverance and I crowned their patience. I know the first and
the last. I embrace them all with love inestimable. I am to be
praised in all My saints. I am to be blessed above all things,
and honored in each of those whom I have exalted and predestined
so gloriously without any previous merits of their own.
He who despises one of the least of mine, therefore, does no
honor to the greatest, for both the small and the great I made.
And he who disparages one of the saints disparages Me also and
all others in the kingdom of heaven. They are all one through
the bond of charity. They have the same thought and the same
will, and they mutually love one another; but, what is a much
greater thing, they love Me more than themselves or their own
merits. Rapt above themselves, and drawn beyond love of self,
they are entirely absorbed in love of Me, in Whom they rest.
There is nothing that can draw them away or depress them, for
they who are filled with eternal truth burn with the fire of
Therefore, let carnal and sensual men, who know only how to
love their own selfish joys, forbear to dispute about the state
of God's saints. Such men take away and add according to their
own inclinations and not as it pleases the Eternal Truth. In
many this is sheer ignorance, especially in those who are but
little enlightened and can rarely love anyone with a purely
spiritual love. They are still strongly drawn by natural
affection and human friendship to one person or another, and on
their behavior in such things here below are based their
imaginings of heavenly things. But there is an incomparable
distance between the things which the imperfect imagine and
those which enlightened men contemplate through revelation from
Be careful, then, My child, of treating matters beyond your
knowledge out of curiosity. Let it rather be your business and
aim to be found, even though the least, in the kingdom of God.
For though one were to know who is more holy than another, or
who is greater in the kingdom of heaven, of what value would
this knowledge be to him unless out of it he should humble
himself before Me and should rise up in greater praise of My
The man who thinks of the greatness of his own sins and the
littleness of his virtues, and of the distance between himself
and the perfection of the saints, acts much more acceptably to
God than the one who argues about who is greater or who is less.
It is better to invoke the saints with devout prayers and tears,
and with a humble mind to beg their glorious aid, than to search
with vain inquisitiveness into their secrets.
The saints are well and perfectly contented if men know how
to content themselves and cease their useless discussions. They
do not glory in their own merits, for they attribute no good to
themselves but all to Me, because out of My infinite charity I
gave all to them. They are filled with such love of God and with
such overflowing joy, that no glory is wanting to them and they
can lack no happiness. All the saints are so much higher in
glory as they are more humble in themselves; nearer to Me, and
more beloved by Me. Therefore, you find it written that they
cast their crowns before God, and fell down upon their faces
before the Lamb, and adored Him Who lives forever.
Many ask who is the greater in the kingdom of heaven when
they do not know whether they themselves shall be worthy of
being numbered among its least. It is a great thing to be even
the least in heaven where all are great because all shall be
called, and shall be, the children of God. The least shall be as
a thousand, and the sinner of a hundred years shall die. For
when the disciples asked who should be greater in the kingdom of
heaven they heard this response: "Unless you be converted and
become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom
of heaven. Therefore, whosoever shall humble himself as this
little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven."
Woe to those, therefore, who disdain to humble themselves
willingly with the little children, for the low gate of the
heavenly kingdom will not permit them to enter. Woe also to the
rich who have their consolations here, for when the poor enter
into God's kingdom, they will stand outside lamenting. Rejoice,
you humble, and exult, you poor, for the kingdom of God is
yours, if only you walk in the truth.
--- The Fifty-Ninth Chapter
ALL HOPE AND TRUST ARE TO BE FIXED IN GOD ALONE
WHAT, Lord, is the trust which I have in this life, or what
is my greatest comfort among all the things that appear under
heaven? Is it not You, O Lord, my God, Whose mercies are without
number? Where have I ever fared well but for You? Or how could
things go badly when You were present? I had rather be poor for
Your sake than rich without You. I prefer rather to wander on
the earth with You than to possess heaven without You. Where You
are there is heaven, and where You are not are death and hell.
You are my desire and therefore I must cry after You and sigh
and pray. In none can I fully trust to help me in my
necessities, but in You alone, my God. You are my hope. You are
my confidence. You are my consoler, most faithful in every need.
All seek their own interests. You, however, place my
salvation and my profit first, and turn all things to my good.
Even though exposing me to various temptations and hardships,
You Who are accustomed to prove Your loved ones in a thousand
ways, order all this for my good. You ought not to be loved or
praised less in this trial than if You had filled me with
In You, therefore, O Lord God, I place all my hope and my
refuge. On You I cast all my troubles and anguish, because
whatever I have outside of You I find to be weak and unstable.
It will not serve me to have many friends, nor will powerful
helpers be able to assist me, nor prudent advisers to give
useful answers, nor the books of learned men to console, nor any
precious substance to win my freedom, nor any place, secret and
beautiful though it be, to shelter me, if You Yourself do not
assist, comfort, console, instruct, and guard me. For all things
which seem to be for our peace and happiness are nothing when
You are absent, and truly confer no happiness.
You, indeed, are the fountain of all good, the height of
life, the depth of all that can be spoken. To trust in You above
all things is the strongest comfort of Your servants.
My God, the Father of mercies, to You I look, in You I trust.
Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly benediction, so that it
may become Your holy dwelling and the seat of Your eternal
glory. And in this temple of Your dignity let nothing be found
that might offend Your majesty. In Your great goodness, and in
the multitude of Your mercies, look upon me and listen to the
prayer of Your poor servant exiled from You in the region of the
shadow of death. Protect and preserve the soul of Your poor
servant among the many dangers of this corruptible life, and
direct him by Your accompanying grace, through the ways of
peace, to the land of everlasting light.
AN INVITATION TO HOLY COMMUNION
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
COME to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will
The bread which I will give is My Flesh, for the life of the
Take you and eat: this is My Body, which shall be delivered for
you. Do this for the commemoration of Me.
He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me,
and I in him.
The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
--- The First Chapter
THE GREAT REVERENCE WITH WHICH WE SHOULD RECEIVE CHRIST
THESE are all Your words, O Christ, eternal Truth, though they
were not all spoken at one time nor written together in one
place. And because they are Yours and true, I must accept them
all with faith and gratitude. They are Yours and You have spoken
them; they are mine also because You have spoken them for my
salvation. Gladly I accept them from Your lips that they may be
the more deeply impressed in my heart.
Words of such tenderness, so full of sweetness and love,
encourage me; but my sins frighten me and an unclean conscience
thunders at me when approaching such great mysteries as these.
The sweetness of Your words invites me, but the multitude of my
vices oppresses me.
You command me to approach You confidently if I wish to have
part with You, and to receive the food of immortality if I
desire to obtain life and glory everlasting.
"Come to me," You say, "all you that labor and are burdened,
and I will refresh you."
Oh, how sweet and kind to the ear of the sinner is the word
by which You, my Lord God, invite the poor and needy to receive
Your most holy Body! Who am I, Lord, that I should presume to
approach You? Behold, the heaven of heavens cannot contain You,
and yet You say: "Come, all of you, to Me."
What means this most gracious honor and this friendly
invitation? How shall I dare to come, I who am conscious of no
good on which to presume? How shall I lead You into my house, I
who have so often offended in Your most kindly sight? Angels and
archangels revere You, the holy and the just fear You, and You
say: "Come to Me: all of you!" If You, Lord, had not said it,
who would have believed it to be true? And if You had not
commanded, who would dare approach?
Behold, Noah, a just man, worked a hundred years building the
ark that he and a few others might be saved; how, then, can I
prepare myself in one hour to receive with reverence the Maker
of the world?
Moses, Your great servant and special friend, made an ark of
incorruptible wood which he covered with purest gold wherein to
place the tables of Your law; shall I, a creature of corruption,
dare so easily to receive You, the Maker of law and the Giver of
Solomon, the wisest of the kings of Israel, spent seven years
building a magnificent temple in praise of Your name, and
celebrated its dedication with a feast of eight days. He offered
a thousand victims in Your honor and solemnly bore the Ark of
the Covenant with trumpeting and jubilation to the place
prepared for it; and I, unhappy and poorest of men, how shall I
lead You into my house, I who scarcely can spend a half-hour
devoutly -- would that I could spend even that as I ought!
O my God, how hard these men tried to please You! Alas, how
little is all that I do! How short the time I spend in preparing
for Communion! I am seldom wholly recollected, and very seldom,
indeed, entirely free from distraction. Yet surely in the
presence of Your life-giving Godhead no unbecoming thought
should arise and no creature possess my heart, for I am about to
receive as my guest, not an angel, but the very Lord of angels.
Very great, too, is the difference between the Ark of the
Covenant with its treasures and Your most pure Body with its
ineffable virtues, between these sacrifices of the law which
were but figures of things to come and the true offering of Your
Body which was the fulfillment of all ancient sacrifices.
Why, then, do I not long more ardently for Your adorable
presence? Why do I not prepare myself with greater care to
receive Your sacred gifts, since those holy patriarchs and
prophets of old, as well as kings and princes with all their
people, have shown such affectionate devotion for the worship of
The most devout King David danced before the ark of God with
all his strength as he recalled the benefits once bestowed upon
his fathers. He made musical instruments of many kinds. He
composed psalms and ordered them sung with joy. He himself often
played upon the harp when moved by the grace of the Holy Ghost.
He taught the people of Israel to praise God with all their
hearts and to raise their voices every day to bless and glorify
Him. If such great devotion flourished in those days and such
ceremony in praise of God before the Ark of the Covenant, what
great devotion ought not I and all Christian people now show in
the presence of this Sacrament; what reverence in receiving the
most excellent Body of Christ!
Many people travel far to honor the relics of the saints,
marveling at their wonderful deeds and at the building of
magnificent shrines. They gaze upon and kiss the sacred relics
encased in silk and gold; and behold, You are here present
before me on the altar, my God, Saint of saints, Creator of men,
and Lord of angels!
Often in looking at such things, men are moved by curiosity,
by the novelty of the unseen, and they bear away little fruit
for the amendment of their lives, especially when they go from
place to place lightly and without true contrition. But here in
the Sacrament of the altar You are wholly present, my God, the
man Christ Jesus, whence is obtained the full realization of
eternal salvation, as often as You are worthily and devoutly
received. To this, indeed, we are not drawn by levity, or
curiosity, or sensuality, but by firm faith, devout hope, and
O God, hidden Creator of the world, how wonderfully You deal
with us! How sweetly and graciously You dispose of things with
Your elect to whom You offer Yourself to be received in this
Sacrament! This, indeed, surpasses all understanding. This in a
special manner attracts the hearts of the devout and inflames
their love. Your truly faithful servants, who give their whole
life to amendment, often receive in Holy Communion the great
grace of devotion and love of virtue.
Oh, the wonderful and hidden grace of this Sacrament which
only the faithful of Christ understand, which unbelievers and
slaves of sin cannot experience! In it spiritual grace is
conferred, lost virtue restored, and the beauty, marred by sin,
repaired. At times, indeed, its grace is so great that, from the
fullness of the devotion, not only the mind but also the frail
body feels filled with greater strength.
Nevertheless, our neglect and coldness is much to be deplored
and pitied, when we are not moved to receive with greater fervor
Christ in Whom is the hope and merit of all who will be saved.
He is our sanctification and redemption. He is our consolation
in this life and the eternal joy of the blessed in heaven. This
being true, it is lamentable that many pay so little heed to the
salutary Mystery which fills the heavens with joy and maintains
the whole universe in being.
Oh, the blindness and the hardness of the heart of man that
does not show more regard for so wonderful a gift, but rather
falls into carelessness from its daily use! If this most holy
Sacrament were celebrated in only one place and consecrated by
only one priest in the whole world, with what great desire, do
you think, would men be attracted to that place, to that priest
of God, in order to witness the celebration of the divine
Mysteries! But now there are many priests and Mass is offered in
many places, that God's grace and love for men may appear the
more clearly as the Sacred Communion is spread more widely
through the world.
Thanks be to You, Jesus, everlasting Good Shepherd, Who have
seen fit to feed us poor exiled people with Your precious Body
and Blood, and to invite us with words from Your own lips to
partake of these sacred Mysteries: "Come to Me, all you who
labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you."
--- The Second Chapter
GOD'S GREAT GOODNESS AND LOVE IS SHOWN TO MAN IN THIS
TRUSTING in Your goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I come as
one sick to the Healer, as one hungry and thirsty to the
Fountain of life, as one in need to the King of heaven, a
servant to his Lord, a creature to his Creator, a soul in
desolation to my gentle Comforter.
But whence is this to me, that You should come to me? Who am
I that You should offer Yourself to me? How dares the sinner to
appear in Your presence, and You, how do You condescend to come
to the sinner? You know Your servant, and You know that he has
nothing good in him that You should grant him this.
I confess, therefore, my unworthiness. I acknowledge Your
goodness. I praise Your mercy, and give thanks for Your immense
love. For it is because of Yourself that You do it, not for any
merit of mine; so that Your goodness may be better known to me,
that greater love may be aroused and more perfect humility born
in me. Since, then, this pleases You and You have so willed it,
Your graciousness pleases me also. Oh, that my sinfulness may
not stand in the way!
O most sweet and merciful Jesus, what great reverence,
thanks, and never-ending praise are due to You for our taking of
Your sacred body, whose dignity no man can express!
But on what shall I think in this Communion, this approach to
my Lord, Whom I can never reverence as I ought, and yet Whom I
desire devoutly to receive? What thought better, more helpful to
me than to humble myself entirely in Your presence and exalt
Your infinite goodness above myself?
I praise You, my God, and extol You forever! I despise myself
and cast myself before You in the depths of my unworthiness.
Behold, You are the Holy of holies, and I the scum of sinners!
Behold, You bow down to me who am not worthy to look up to You!
Behold, You come to me! You will to be with me! You invite me to
Your banquet! You desire to give me heavenly food, the Bread of
Angels to eat, none other than Yourself, the living Bread Who
are come down from heaven and give life to the world.
Behold, whence love proceeds! What condescension shines
forth! What great thanks and praise are due You for these gifts!
Oh, how salutary and profitable was Your design in this
institution! How sweet and pleasant the banquet when You gave
Yourself as food!
How admirable is Your work, O Lord! How great Your power! How
infallible Your truth! For You spoke and all things were made,
and this, which You commanded, was done. It is a wonderful
thing, worthy of faith, overpowering human understanding, that
You, O Lord, my God, true God and man, are contained whole and
entire under the appearance of a little bread and wine, and
without being consumed are eaten by him who receives You!
You, the Lord of the universe, Who have need of nothing, have
willed to dwell in us by means of Your Sacrament. Keep my heart
and body clean, so that with a joyous and spotless conscience I
may be able often to celebrate Your Mysteries and to receive for
my eternal salvation what You have ordained and instituted for
Your special honor and as an everlasting memorial.
Rejoice, my soul, and give thanks to God for having left you
so noble a gift and so special a consolation in this valley of
tears. As often as you renew this Mystery and receive the Body
of Christ, so often do you enact the work of redemption and
become a sharer in all the merits of Christ, for the love of
Christ never grows less and the wealth of His mercy is never
Therefore, you should prepare yourself for it by constantly
renewing your heart and pondering deeply the great mystery of
salvation. As often as you celebrate or hear Mass, it should
seem as great, as new, as sweet to you as if on that very day
Christ became man in the womb of the Virgin, or, hanging on the
Cross, suffered and died for the salvation of man.
--- The Third Chapter
IT IS PROFITABLE TO RECEIVE COMMUNION OFTEN
BEHOLD, I come to You, Lord, that I may prosper by Your gift
and be delighted at Your holy banquet which You, O God, in Your
sweetness have prepared for Your poor. Behold, all that I can or
ought to desire is in You. You are my salvation and my
redemption, my hope and strength, my honor and glory.
Gladden, then, this day the soul of Your servant because I
have raised my heart to You, O Lord Jesus. I long to receive You
now, devoutly and reverently. I desire to bring You into my
house that, with Zacheus, I may merit Your blessing and be
numbered among the children of Abraham.
My soul longs for Your Body; my heart desires to be united
with You. Give me Yourself -- it is enough; for without You
there is no consolation. Without You I cannot exist, without
Your visitation I cannot live. I must often come to You,
therefore, and receive the strength of my salvation lest,
deprived of this heavenly food, I grow weak on the way. Once,
most merciful Jesus, while preaching to the people and healing
their many ills, You said: "I will not send them away fasting,
lest they faint in the way."
Deal with me likewise, You Who have left Yourself in this
Sacrament for the consolation of the faithful. You are sweet
refreshment to the soul, and he who eats You worthily will be a
sharer in, and an heir to, eternal glory.
It is indeed necessary for me, who fall and sin so often, who
so quickly become lax and weak, to renew, cleanse, and inflame
myself through frequent prayer, confession, and the holy
reception of Your Body, lest perhaps by abstaining too long, I
fall away from my holy purpose. For from the days of his youth
the senses of man are prone to evil, and unless divine aid
strengthens him, he quickly falls deeper. But Holy Communion
removes him from evil and confirms him in good.
If I am so often careless and lax when I celebrate or
communicate, what would happen if I did not receive this remedy
and seek so great a help? Although I am neither fit nor properly
disposed to celebrate every day, yet I will do my best at proper
times to receive the divine Mysteries and share in this great
grace. This, indeed, is the one chief consolation of the
faithful soul when separated from You by mortality, that often
mindful of her God, she receives her Beloved with devout
Oh, wonderful condescension of Your affection toward us, that
You, the Lord God, Creator and Giver of life to all, should see
fit to come to a poor soul and to appease her hunger with all
Your divinity and humanity! O happy mind and blessed soul which
deserves to receive You, her Lord God, and in receiving You, is
filled with spiritual joy! How great a Master she entertains,
what a beloved guest she receives, how sweet a companion she
welcomes, how true a friend she gains, how beautiful and noble
is the spouse she embraces, beloved and desired above all things
that can be loved and desired! Let heaven and earth and all
their treasures stand silent before Your face, most sweetly
Beloved, for whatever glory and beauty they have is of Your
condescending bounty, and they cannot approach the beauty of
Your name, Whose wisdom is untold.
--- The Fourth Chapter
MANY BLESSINGS ARE GIVEN THOSE WHO RECEIVE COMMUNION
O LORD my God, favor Your servant with the blessings of Your
sweetness that I may merit to approach Your magnificent
Sacrament worthily and devoutly. Lift up my heart to You and
take away from me this heavy indolence. Visit me with Your
saving grace that I may in spirit taste Your sweetness which
lies hidden in this Sacrament like water in the depths of a
spring. Enlighten my eyes to behold this great Mystery, and give
me strength to believe in it with firm faith.
For it is Your work, not the power of man, Your sacred
institution, not his invention. No man is able of himself to
comprehend and understand these things which surpass even the
keen vision of angels. How, then, shall I, an unworthy sinner
who am but dust and ashes, be able to fathom and understand so
great a mystery?
O Lord, I come to You at Your command in simplicity of heart,
in good, firm faith, with hope and reverence, and I truly
believe that You are present here in this Sacrament, God and
man. It is Your will that I receive You and unite myself to You
in love. Wherefore, I beg Your mercy and ask that special grace
be given me, that I may be wholly dissolved in You and filled
with Your love, no longer to concern myself with exterior
consolations. For this, the highest and most worthy Sacrament,
is the health of soul and body, the cure of every spiritual
weakness. In it my defects are remedied, my passions restrained,
and temptations overcome or allayed. In it greater grace is
infused, growing virtue is nourished, faith confirmed, hope
strengthened, and charity fanned into flame.
You, my God, the protector of my soul, the strength of human
weakness, and the giver of every interior consolation, have
given and still do often give in this Sacrament great gifts to
Your loved ones who communicate devoutly. Moreover, You give
them many consolations amid their numerous troubles and lift
them from the depths of dejection to the hope of Your
protection. With new graces You cheer and lighten them within,
so that they who are full of anxiety and without affection
before Communion may find themselves changed for the better
after partaking of this heavenly food and drink.
Likewise, You so deal with Your elect that they may truly
acknowledge and plainly experience how weak they are in
themselves and what goodness and grace they obtain from You. For
though in themselves they are cold, obdurate, and wanting in
devotion, through You they become fervent, cheerful, and devout.
Who, indeed, can humbly approach the fountain of sweetness
and not carry away a little of it? Or who, standing before a
blazing fire does not feel some of its heat? You are a fountain
always filled with superabundance! You are a fire, ever burning,
that never fails!
Therefore, while I may not exhaust the fullness of the
fountain or drink to satiety, yet will I put my lips to the
mouth of this heavenly stream that from it I may receive at
least some small drop to refresh my thirst and not wither away.
And if I cannot as yet be all heavenly or as full of fire as the
cherubim and seraphim, yet I will try to become more devout and
prepare my heart so that I may gather some small spark of divine
fire from the humble reception of this life-giving Sacrament.
Whatever is wanting in me, good Jesus, Savior most holy, do
You in Your kindness and grace supply for me, You Who have been
pleased to call all unto You, saying: "Come to Me all you that
labor and are burdened and I will refresh you."
I, indeed, labor in the sweat of my brow. I am torn with
sorrow of heart. I am laden with sin, troubled with temptations,
enmeshed and oppressed by many evil passions, and there is none
to help me, none to deliver and save me but You, my Lord God and
Savior, to Whom I entrust myself and all I have, that You may
protect me and lead me to eternal life. For the honor and glory
of Your name receive me, You Who have prepared Your Body and
Blood as food and drink for me. Grant, O Lord, my God and
Savior, that by approaching Your Mysteries frequently, the zeal
of my devotion may increase.
--- The Fifth Chapter
THE DIGNITY OF THE SACRAMENT AND OF THE PRIESTHOOD
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
HAD you the purity of an angel and the sanctity of St. John
the Baptist, you would not be worthy to receive or administer
this Sacrament. It is not because of any human meriting that a
man consecrates and administers the Sacrament of Christ, and
receives the Bread of Angels for his food. Great is the Mystery
and great the dignity of priests to whom is given that which has
not been granted the angels. For priests alone, rightly ordained
in the Church, have power to celebrate Mass and consecrate the
Body of Christ.
The priest, indeed, is the minister of God, using the word of
God according to His command and appointment. God, moreover, is
there -- the chief Author and invisible Worker to Whom all is
subject as He wills, to Whom all are obedient as He commands.
In this most excellent Sacrament, therefore, you ought to
believe in God rather than in your own senses or in any visible
sign, and thus, with fear and reverence draw near to such a work
as this. Look to yourself and see whose ministry has been given
you through the imposition of the bishop's hands.
Behold, you have been made a priest, consecrated to celebrate
Mass! See to it now that you offer sacrifice to God faithfully
and devoutly at proper times, and that you conduct yourself
blamelessly. You have not made your burden lighter. Instead, you
are now bound by stricter discipline and held to more perfect
A priest ought to be adorned with all virtues and show the
example of a good life to others. His way lies not among the
vulgar and common habits of men but with the angels in heaven
and the perfect men on earth. A priest clad in the sacred
vestments acts in Christ's place, that he may pray to God both
for himself and for all people in a suppliant and humble manner.
He has before and behind him the sign of the Lord's cross that
he may always remember the Passion of Christ. It is before him,
on the chasuble, that he may look closely upon the footsteps of
Christ and try to follow them fervently. It is behind him -- he
is signed with it -- that he may gladly suffer for God any
adversities inflicted by others.
He wears the cross before him that he may mourn his own sins,
behind him, that in pity he may mourn the sins of others, and
know that he is appointed to stand between God and the sinner,
never to become weary of prayer and the holy offering until it
is granted him to obtain grace and mercy.
When the priest celebrates Mass, he honors God, gladdens the
angels, strengthens the Church, helps the living, brings rest to
the departed, and wins for himself a share in all good things.
--- The Sixth Chapter
AN INQUIRY ON THE PROPER THING TO DO BEFORE COMMUNION
WHEN I consider Your dignity, O Lord, and my own meanness, I
become very much frightened and confused. For if I do not
receive, I fly from Life, and if I intrude unworthily, I incur
Your displeasure. What, then, shall I do, my God, my Helper and
Adviser in necessity? Teach me the right way. Place before me
some short exercise suitable for Holy Communion, for it is good
to know in what manner I ought to make my heart ready devoutly
and fervently for You, to receive Your Sacrament for the good of
my soul, or even to celebrate so great and divine a sacrifice.
--- The Seventh Chapter
THE EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE AND THE RESOLUTION TO AMEND
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
ABOVE all, God's priest should approach the celebration and
reception of this Sacrament with the deepest humility of heart
and suppliant reverence, with complete faith and the pious
intention of giving honor to God.
Carefully examine your conscience, then. Cleanse and purify
it to the best of your power by true contrition and humble
confession, that you may have no burden, know of no remorse, and
thus be free to come near. Let the memory of all your sins
grieve you, and especially lament and bewail your daily
transgressions. Then if time permits, confess to God in the
secret depths of your heart all the miseries your passions have
Lament and grieve because you are still so worldly, so
carnal, so passionate and unmortified, so full of roving lust,
so careless in guarding the external senses, so often occupied
in many vain fancies, so inclined to exterior things and so
heedless of what lies within, so prone to laughter and
dissipation and so indisposed to sorrow and tears, so inclined
to ease and the pleasures of the flesh and so cool to austerity
and zeal, so curious to hear what is new and to see the
beautiful and so slow to embrace humiliation and dejection, so
covetous of abundance, so niggardly in giving and so tenacious
in keeping, so inconsiderate in speech, so reluctant in silence,
so undisciplined in character, so disordered in action, so
greedy at meals, so deaf to the Word of God, so prompt to rest
and so slow to labor, so awake to empty conversation, so sleepy
in keeping sacred vigils and so eager to end them, so wandering
in your attention, so careless in saying the office, so lukewarm
in celebrating, so heartless in receiving, so quickly
distracted, so seldom fully recollected, so quickly moved to
anger, so apt to take offense at others, so prone to judge, so
severe in condemning, so happy in prosperity and so weak in
adversity, so often making good resolutions and carrying so few
of them into action.
When you have confessed and deplored these and other faults
with sorrow and great displeasure because of your weakness, be
firmly determined to amend your life day by day and to advance
in goodness. Then, with complete resignation and with your
entire will offer yourself upon the altar of your heart as an
everlasting sacrifice to the honor of My name, by entrusting
with faith both body and soul to My care, that thus you may be
considered worthy to draw near and offer sacrifice to God and
profitably receive the Sacrament of My Body. For there is no
more worthy offering, no greater satisfaction for washing away
sin than to offer yourself purely and entirely to God with the
offering of the Body of Christ in Mass and Communion.
If a man does what he can and is truly penitent, however
often he comes to Me for grace and pardon, "As I live, saith the
Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the
wicked turn from his way and live";
I will no longer remember his sins, but all will be forgiven
--- The Eighth Chapter
THE OFFERING OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS; OUR OFFERING
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
AS I offered Myself willingly to God the Father for your sins
with hands outstretched and body naked on the cross, so that
nothing remained in Me that had not become a complete sacrifice
to appease the divine wrath, so ought you to be willing to offer
yourself to Me day by day in the Mass as a pure and holy
oblation, together with all your faculties and affections, with
as much inward devotion as you can.
What more do I ask than that you give yourself entirely to
Me? I care not for anything else you may give Me, for I seek not
your gift but you. Just as it would not be enough for you to
have everything if you did not have Me, so whatever you give
cannot please Me if you do not give yourself.
Offer yourself to Me, therefore, and give yourself entirely
for God -- your offering will be accepted. Behold, I offered
Myself wholly to the Father for you, I even gave My whole Body
and Blood for food that I might be all yours, and you Mine
But if you rely upon self, and do not offer your free will to
Mine, your offering will be incomplete and the union between us
imperfect. Hence, if you desire to attain grace and freedom of
heart, let the free offering of yourself into the hands of God
precede your every action. This is why so few are inwardly free
and enlightened -- they know not how to renounce themselves
My word stands: "Everyone of you that doth not renounce all
that he possesseth, cannot be My disciple."
If, therefore, you wish to be My disciple, offer yourself to
Me with all your heart.
--- The Ninth Chapter
WE SHOULD OFFER OURSELVES AND ALL THAT WE HAVE TO GOD,
PRAYING FOR ALL
ALL things in heaven and on earth, O Lord, are Yours. I long
to give myself to You as a voluntary offering to remain forever
Yours. With a sincere heart I offer myself this day to You, O
Lord, to Your eternal service, to Your homage, and as a
sacrifice of everlasting praise. Receive me with this holy
offering of Your precious Body which also I make to You this
day, in the presence of angels invisibly attending, for my
salvation and that of all Your people.
O Lord, upon Your altar of expiation, I offer You all the
sins and offenses I have committed in Your presence and in the
presence of Your holy angels, from the day when I first could
sin until this hour, that You may burn and consume them all in
the fire of Your love, that You may wipe away their every stain,
cleanse my conscience of every fault, and restore to me Your
grace which I lost in sin by granting full pardon for all and
receiving me mercifully with the kiss of peace.
What can I do for all my sins but humbly confess and lament
them, and implore Your mercy without ceasing? In Your mercy, I
implore You, hear me when I stand before You, my God. All my
sins are most displeasing to me. I wish never to commit them
again. I am sorry for them and will be sorry as long as I live.
I am ready to do penance and make satisfaction to the utmost of
Forgive me, O God, forgive me my sins for Your Holy Name.
Save my soul which You have redeemed by Your most precious
Blood. See, I place myself at Your mercy. I commit myself to
Your hands. Deal with me according to Your goodness, not
according to my malicious and evil ways.
I offer to You also all the good I have, small and imperfect
though it be, that You may make it more pure and more holy, that
You may be pleased with it, render it acceptable to Yourself,
and perfect it more and more, and finally that You may lead me,
an indolent and worthless creature, to a good and happy end.
I offer You also all the holy desires of Your devoted
servants, the needs of my parents, friends, brothers, sisters,
and all who are dear to me; of all who for Your sake have been
kind to me or to others; of all who have wished and asked my
prayers and Masses for them and theirs, whether they yet live in
the flesh or are now departed from this world, that they may all
experience the help of Your grace, the strength of Your
consolation, protection from dangers, deliverance from
punishment to come, and that, free from all evils, they may
gladly give abundant thanks to You.
I offer You also these prayers and the Sacrifice of
Propitiation for those especially who have in any way injured,
saddened, or slandered me, inflicted loss or pain upon me, and
also for all those whom I have at any time saddened, disturbed,
offended, and abused by word or deed, willfully or in ignorance.
May it please You to forgive us all alike our sins and offenses
against one another.
Take away from our hearts, O Lord, all suspicion, anger,
wrath, contention, and whatever may injure charity and lessen
brotherly love. Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on those who ask
Your mercy, give grace to those who need it, and make us such
that we may be worthy to enjoy Your favor and gain eternal life.
--- The Tenth Chapter
DO NOT LIGHTLY FOREGO HOLY COMMUNION
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
YOU must often return to the source of grace and divine
mercy, to the fountain of goodness and perfect purity, if you
wish to be free from passion and vice, if you desire to be made
stronger and more watchful against all the temptations and
deceits of the devil.
The enemy, knowing the great good and the healing power of
Holy Communion, tries as much as he can by every manner and
means to hinder and keep away the faithful and the devout.
Indeed, there are some who suffer the worst assaults of Satan
when disposing themselves to prepare for Holy Communion. As it
is written in Job, this wicked spirit comes among the sons of
God to trouble them by his wonted malice, to make them unduly
fearful and perplexed, that thus he may lessen their devotion or
attack their faith to such an extent that they perhaps either
forego Communion altogether or receive with little fervor.
No attention, however, must be paid to his cunning wiles, no
matter how base and horrible -- all his suggestions must be cast
back upon his head. The wretch is to be despised and scorned.
Holy Communion must not be passed by because of any assaults
from him or because of the commotion he may arouse.
Oftentimes, also, too great solicitude for devotion and
anxiety about confession hinder a person. Do as wise men do.
Cast off anxiety and scruple, for it impedes the grace of God
and destroys devotion of the mind.
Do not remain away from Holy Communion because of a small
trouble or vexation but go at once to confession and willingly
forgive all others their offenses. If you have offended anyone,
humbly seek pardon and God will readily forgive you.
What good is it to delay confession for a long time or to put
off Holy Communion? Cleanse yourself at once, spit out the
poison quickly. Make haste to apply the remedy and you will find
it better than if you had waited a long time. If you put it off
today because of one thing, perhaps tomorrow a greater will
occur to you, and thus you will stay away from Communion for a
long time and become even more unfit.
Shake off this heaviness and sloth as quickly as you can, for
there is no gain in much anxiety, in enduring long hours of
trouble, and in depriving yourself of the divine Mysteries
because of these daily disturbances. Yes, it is very hurtful to
defer Holy Communion long, for it usually brings on a lazy
How sad that some dissolute and lax persons are willing to
postpone confession and likewise wish to defer Holy Communion,
lest they be forced to keep a stricter watch over themselves!
Alas, how little love and devotion have they who so easily put
off Holy Communion!
How happy and acceptable to God is he who so lives, and keeps
his conscience so pure, as to be ready and well disposed to
communicate, even every day if he were permitted, and if he
could do so unnoticed.
If, now and then, a man abstains by the grace of humility or
for a legitimate reason, his reverence is commendable, but if
laziness takes hold of him, he must arouse himself and do
everything in his power, for the Lord will quicken his desire
because of the good intention to which He particularly looks.
When he is indeed unable to come, he will always have the good
will and pious intention to communicate and thus he will not
lose the fruit of the Sacrament.
Any devout person may at any hour on any day receive Christ
in spiritual communion profitably and without hindrance. Yet on
certain days and times appointed he ought to receive with
affectionate reverence the Body of his Redeemer in this
Sacrament, seeking the praise and honor of God rather than his
For as often as he devoutly calls to mind the mystery and
passion of the Incarnate Christ, and is inflamed with love for
Him, he communicates mystically and is invisibly refreshed.
He who prepares himself only when festivals approach or
custom demands, will often find himself unprepared. Blessed is
he who offers himself a sacrifice to the Lord as often as he
celebrates or communicates.
Be neither too slow nor too fast in celebrating but follow
the good custom common to those among whom you are. You ought
not to cause others inconvenience or trouble, but observe the
accepted rule as laid down by superiors, and look to the benefit
of others rather than to your own devotion or inclination.
--- The Eleventh Chapter
THE BODY OF CHRIST AND SACRED SCRIPTURE ARE MOST NECESSARY
TO A FAITHFUL SOUL
O MOST sweet Lord Jesus, how great is the happiness of the
devout soul that feasts upon You at Your banquet, where there is
set before her to be eaten no other food but Yourself alone, her
only Lover, most desired of all that her heart can desire!
To me it would be happiness, indeed, to shed tears in Your
presence from the innermost depths of love, and like the pious
Magdalen to wash Your feet with them. But where now is this
devotion, this copious shedding of holy tears? Certainly in Your
sight, before Your holy angels, my whole heart ought to be
inflamed and weep for joy. For, hidden though You are beneath
another form, I have You truly present in the Sacrament.
My eyes could not bear to behold You in Your own divine
brightness, nor could the whole world stand in the splendor of
the glory of Your majesty. In veiling Yourself in the Sacrament,
therefore, You have regard for my weakness.
In truth, I possess and adore Him Whom the angels adore in
heaven -- I as yet by faith, they face to face unveiled. I must
be content with the light of the true faith and walk in it until
the day of eternal brightness dawns and the shadow of figures
passes away. When, moreover, that which is perfect shall have
come, the need of sacraments shall cease, for the blessed in
heavenly glory need no healing sacrament. Rejoicing endlessly in
the presence of God, beholding His glory face to face,
transformed from their own brightness to the brightness of the
ineffable Deity, they taste the Word of God made flesh, as He
was in the beginning and will remain in eternity.
Though mindful of these wonderful things, every spiritual
solace becomes wearisome to me because so long as I do not
plainly see the Lord in His glory, I consider everything I hear
and see on earth of little account.
You are my witness, O God, that nothing can comfort me, no
creature give me rest but You, my God, Whom I desire to
contemplate forever. But this is not possible while I remain in
mortal life, and, therefore, I must be very patient and submit
myself to You in every desire.
Even Your saints, O Lord, who now rejoice with You in the
kingdom of heaven, awaited the coming of Your glory with faith
and great patience while they lived. What they believed, I
believe. What they hoped for, I hope for, and whither they
arrived, I trust I shall come by Your grace. Meanwhile I will
walk in faith, strengthened by the example of the saints. I
shall have, besides, for comfort and for the guidance of my
life, the holy Books, and above all these, Your most holy Body
for my special haven and refuge.
I feel there are especially necessary for me in this life two
things without which its miseries would be unbearable. Confined
here in this prison of the body I confess I need these two, food
and light. Therefore, You have given me in my weakness Your
sacred Flesh to refresh my soul and body, and You have set Your
word as the guiding light for my feet. Without them I could not
live aright, for the word of God is the light of my soul and
Your Sacrament is the Bread of Life.
These also may be called the two tables, one here, one there,
in the treasure house of holy Church. One is the table of the
holy altar, having the holy Bread that is the precious Body of
Christ. The other is the table of divine law, containing holy
doctrine that teaches all the true faith and firmly leads them
within the veil, the Holy of holies.
Thanks to You, Lord Jesus, Light of eternal light, for the
table of Your holy teaching which You have prepared for us by
Your servants, the prophets and Apostles and other learned men.
Thanks to You, Creator and Redeemer of men, Who, to declare
Your love to all the world, have prepared a great supper in
which You have placed before us as food not the lamb, the type
of Yourself, but Your own most precious Body and Blood, making
all the faithful glad in Your sacred banquet, intoxicating them
with the chalice of salvation in which are all the delights of
paradise; and the holy angels feast with us but with more
happiness and sweetness.
Oh, how great and honorable is the office of the priest, to
whom is given the consecration of the Lord of majesty in sacred
words, whose lips bless Him, whose hands hold Him, whose tongue
receives Him, and whose ministry it is to bring Him to others!
Oh, how clean those hands should be, how pure the lips, how
sanctified the body, how immaculate the heart of the priest to
whom the Author of all purity so often comes. No word but what
is holy, none but what is good and profitable ought to come from
the lips of the priest who so often receives the Sacrament of
Christ. Single and modest should be the eyes accustomed to
looking upon the Body of Christ. Pure and lifted up to heaven
the hands accustomed to handle the Creator of heaven and earth.
To priests above all it is written in the law: "Be ye holy, for
I, the Lord your God, am holy."
Let Your grace, almighty God, assist us, that we who have
undertaken the office of the priesthood may serve You worthily
and devoutly in all purity and with a good conscience. And if we
cannot live as innocently as we ought, grant us at least to
lament duly the wrongs we have committed and in the spirit of
humility and the purpose of a good will to serve You more
fervently in the future.
--- The Twelfth Chapter
THE COMMUNICANT SHOULD PREPARE HIMSELF FOR CHRIST WITH GREAT
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
I AM the Lover of purity, the Giver of all holiness. I seek a
pure heart and there is the place of My rest.
Prepare for Me a large room furnished and I with My disciples
will keep the Pasch with you.
If you wish that I come to you and remain with you, purge out
the old leaven and make clean the dwelling of your heart. Shut
out the whole world with all the din of its vices. Sit as the
sparrow lonely on the housetop, and think on your transgressions
in bitterness of soul.
Everyone who loves prepares the best and most beautiful home
for his beloved, because the love of the one receiving his lover
is recognized thereby.
But understand that you cannot by any merit of your own make
this preparation well enough, though you spend a year in doing
it and think of nothing else. It is only by My goodness and
grace that you are allowed to approach My table, as though a
beggar were invited to dinner by a rich man and he had nothing
to offer in return for the gift but to humble himself and give
Do what you can and do that carefully. Receive the Body of
the Lord, your beloved God Who deigns to come to you, not out of
habit or necessity, but with fear, with reverence, and with
I am He that called you. I ordered it done. I will supply
what you lack. Come and receive Me.
When I grant the grace of devotion, give thanks to God, not
because you are worthy but because I have had mercy upon you. If
you have it not and feel rather dry instead, continue in prayer,
sigh and knock, and do not give up until you receive some crumb
of saving grace.
You have need of Me. I do not need you. You do not come to
sanctify Me but I come to sanctify you and make you better. You
come to be sanctified and united with Me, to receive new grace
and to be aroused anew to amend. Do not neglect this grace, but
prepare your heart with all care, and bring into it your
Not only should you prepare devoutly before Communion, but
you should also carefully keep yourself in devotion after
receiving the Sacrament. The careful custody of yourself
afterward is no less necessary than the devout preparation
before, for a careful afterwatch is the best preparation for
obtaining greater grace. If a person lets his mind wander to
external comforts, he becomes quite indisposed.
Beware of much talking. Remain in seclusion and enjoy your
God, for you have Him Whom all the world cannot take from you.
I am He to Whom you should give yourself entirely, that from
now on you may live, not in yourself, but in Me, with all cares
--- The Thirteenth Chapter
WITH ALL HER HEART THE DEVOUT SOUL SHOULD DESIRE UNION WITH
CHRIST IN THE SACRAMENT
LET it be granted me to find You alone, O Christ, to open to
You my whole heart, to enjoy You as my soul desires, to be
disturbed by no one, to be moved and troubled by no creature,
that You may speak to me and I to You alone, as a lover speaks
to his loved one, and friend converses with friend.
I pray for this, I desire this, that I may be completely
united to You and may withdraw my heart from all created things,
learning to relish the celestial and the eternal through Holy
Communion and the frequent celebration of Mass.
Ah Lord God, when shall I be completely united to You and
absorbed by You, with self utterly forgotten? You in me and I in
You? Grant that we may remain so together. You in truth are my
Beloved, chosen from thousands, in Whom my soul is happy to
dwell all the days of her life. You are in truth my pledge of
peace, in Whom is the greatest peace and true rest, without Whom
there is toil and sorrow and infinite misery.
You truly are the hidden God. Your counsel is not with the
wicked, and Your conversation is rather with the humble and the
O how kind is Your spirit, Lord, Who in order to show Your
sweetness toward Your children, deign to feed them with the
sweetest of bread, bread come down from heaven! Surely there is
no other people so fortunate as to have their god near them, as
You, our God, are present everywhere to the faithful, to whom
You give Yourself to be eaten and enjoyed for their daily solace
and the raising of their hearts to heaven.
Indeed, what other nation is so renowned as the Christian
peoples? What creature under heaven is so favored as the devout
soul to whom God comes, to feed her with His glorious Flesh? O
unspeakable grace! O wonderful condescension! O love beyond
measure, singularly bestowed upon man!
What return shall I make to the Lord for this love, this
grace so boundless? There is nothing I can give more pleasing
than to offer my heart completely to my God, uniting it closely
with His. Then shall all my inner self be glad when my soul is
perfectly united with God. Then will He say to me: "If you will
be with Me, I will be with you." And I will answer Him: "Deign,
O Lord, to remain with me. I will gladly be with You. This is my
one desire, that my heart may be united with You."
--- The Fourteenth Chapter
THE ARDENT LONGING OF DEVOUT MEN FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST
HOW great is the abundance of Your kindness, O Lord, which
You have hidden from those who fear You!
When I think how some devout persons come to Your Sacrament
with the greatest devotion and love, I am frequently ashamed and
confused that I approach Your altar and the table of Holy
Communion so coldly and indifferently; that I remain so dry and
devoid of heartfelt affection; that I am not completely inflamed
in Your presence, O my God, nor so strongly drawn and attracted
as many devout persons who, in their great desire for Communion
and intense heart love, could not restrain their tears but
longed from the depths of their souls and bodies to embrace You,
the Fountain of Life. These were able to appease and allay their
hunger in no other way than by receiving Your Body with all joy
and spiritual eagerness. The faith of these men was true and
ardent -- convincing proof of Your sacred presence. They whose
hearts burn so ardently within them when Jesus lives with them
truly know their Lord in the breaking of bread.
Such affection and devotion, such mighty love and zeal are
often far beyond me. Be merciful to me, O sweet, good, kind
Jesus, and grant me, Your poor suppliant, sometimes at least to
feel in Holy Communion a little of the tenderness of Your love,
that my faith may grow stronger, that my hope in Your goodness
may increase, and that charity, once perfectly kindled within me
by tasting heavenly manna, may never fail.
Your mercy can give me the grace I long for and can visit me
most graciously with fervor of soul according to Your good
pleasure. For although I am not now inflamed with as great
desire as those who are singularly devoted to You, yet by Your
grace I long for this same great flame, praying and seeking a
place among all such ardent lovers that I may be numbered among
their holy company.
--- The Fifteenth Chapter
THE GRACE OF DEVOTION IS ACQUIRED THROUGH HUMILITY AND
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
YOU must seek earnestly the grace of devotion, ask for it
fervently, await it patiently and hopefully, receive it
gratefully, guard it humbly, cooperate with it carefully and
leave to God, when it comes, the length and manner of the
When you feel little or no inward devotion, you should
especially humiliate yourself, but do not become too dejected or
unreasonably sad. In one short moment God often gives what He
has long denied. At times He grants at the end what He has
denied from the beginning of prayer. If grace were always given
at once, or were present at our beck and call, it would not be
well taken by weak humankind. Therefore, with good hope and
humble patience await the grace of devotion.
When it is not given, or for some unknown reason is taken
away, blame yourself and your sins. Sometimes it is a small
matter that hinders grace and hides it, if, indeed, that which
prevents so great a good may be called little rather than great.
But if you remove this hindrance, be it great or small, and if
you conquer it perfectly, you shall have what you ask. As soon
as you have given yourself to God with all your heart and seek
neither this nor that for your own pleasure and purpose, but
place yourself completely in His charge, you shall find yourself
at peace, united with Him, because nothing will be so sweet,
nothing will please you so much as the good pleasure of His
Anyone, therefore, who shall with simplicity of heart direct
his intention to God and free himself from all inordinate love
or dislike for any creature will be most fit to receive grace
and will be worthy of the gift of devotion. For where the Lord
finds the vessel empty He pours down His blessing.
So also the more perfectly a man renounces things of this
world, and the more completely he dies to himself through
contempt of self, the more quickly this great grace comes to
him, the more plentifully it enters in, and the higher it
uplifts the free heart.
Then shall he see and abound, then shall his heart marvel and
be enlarged within him, because the Hand of the Lord is with him
and in the hollow of that Hand he has placed himself forever.
Thus shall the man be blessed who seeks God with all his heart
and has not regarded his soul in vain. Such a one, receiving the
Holy Eucharist, merits the grace of divine union because he
looks not on his own thoughts, nor to his own comfort, but above
all devotion and consolation to the glory and honor of God.
--- The Sixteenth Chapter
WE SHOULD SHOW OUR NEEDS TO CHRIST AND ASK HIS GRACE
O MOST kind, most loving Lord, Whom I now desire to receive
with devotion, You know the weakness and the necessity which I
suffer, in what great evils and vices I am involved, how often I
am depressed, tempted, defiled, and troubled.
To You I come for help, to You I pray for comfort and relief.
I speak to Him Who knows all things, to Whom my whole inner life
is manifest, and Who alone can perfectly comfort and help me.
You know what good things I am most in need of and how poor I
am in virtue. Behold I stand before You, poor and naked, asking
Your grace and imploring Your mercy.
Feed Your hungry beggar. Inflame my coldness with the fire of
Your love. Enlighten my blindness with the brightness of Your
presence. Turn all earthly things to bitterness for me, all
grievance and adversity to patience, all lowly creation to
contempt and oblivion. Raise my heart to You in heaven and
suffer me not to wander on earth. From this moment to all
eternity do You alone grow sweet to me, for You alone are my
food and drink, my love and my joy, my sweetness and my total
Let Your presence wholly inflame me, consume and transform me
into Yourself, that I may become one spirit with You by the
grace of inward union and by the melting power of Your ardent
Suffer me not to go from You fasting and thirsty, but deal
with me mercifully as You have so often and so wonderfully dealt
with Your saints.
What wonder if I were completely inflamed by You to die to
myself, since You are the fire ever burning and never dying, a
love purifying the heart and enlightening the understanding.
--- The Seventeenth Chapter
THE BURNING LOVE AND STRONG DESIRE TO RECEIVE CHRIST
WITH greatest devotion and ardent love, with all affection
and fervor of heart I wish to receive You, O Lord, as many
saints and devout persons, most pleasing to You in their
holiness of life and most fervent in devotion, desired You in
O my God, everlasting love, my final good, my happiness
unending, I long to receive You with as strong a desire and as
worthy a reverence as any of the saints ever had or could have
felt, and though I am not worthy to have all these sentiments of
devotion, still I offer You the full affection of my heart as if
I alone had all those most pleasing and ardent desires.
Yet, whatever a God-fearing mind can conceive and desire, I
offer in its entirety to You with the greatest reverence and
inward affection. I wish to keep nothing for self but to offer
to You, willingly and most freely, myself and all that is mine.
O Lord God, my Creator and my Redeemer, I long to receive You
this day with such reverence, praise, and honor, with such
gratitude, worthiness and love, with such faith, hope, and
purity as that with which Your most holy Mother, the glorious
Virgin Mary, longed for and received You when she humbly and
devoutly answered the angel who announced to her the mystery of
the Incarnation: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to
me according to thy word."
Likewise as Your blessed precursor, the most excellent of
saints, John the Baptist, gladdened by Your presence, exulted in
the Holy Ghost while yet enclosed in the womb of his mother, and
afterward seeing Jesus walking among men, humbled himself and
with devout love declared: "The friend of the bridegroom, who
standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth with joy because of the
even so I long to be inflamed with great and holy desires and to
give myself to You with all my heart.
Therefore I offer and present to You the gladness of all
devout hearts, their ardent affection, their mental raptures,
their supernatural illuminations and heavenly visions together
with all the virtues and praises which have been or shall be
celebrated by all creatures in heaven and on earth, for myself
and all commended to my prayers, that You may be worthily
praised and glorified forever.
Accept, O Lord my God, my promises and desires of giving You
infinite praise and boundless benediction, which in the vastness
of Your ineffable greatness are justly due You. This I render
and desire to render every day and every moment of time, and in
my loving prayers I invite and entreat all celestial spirits and
all the faithful to join me in giving You praise and thanks.
Let all people, races, and tongues praise You and with the
greatest joy and most ardent devotion magnify Your sweet and
holy name. And let all who reverently and devoutly celebrate
this most great Sacrament and receive it in the fullness of
faith, find kindness and mercy in You and humbly pray for me, a
sinner. And when they have received the longed-for devotion and
blissful union, and, well consoled and wonderfully refreshed,
have retired from Your holy, Your celestial table, may they
deign to remember my poor soul.
--- The Eighteenth Chapter
MAN SHOULD NOT SCRUTINIZE THIS SACRAMENT IN CURIOSITY, BUT
HUMBLY IMITATE CHRIST AND SUBMIT REASON TO HOLY FAITH
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
BEWARE of curious and vain examination of this most profound
Sacrament, if you do not wish to be plunged into the depths of
doubt. He who scrutinizes its majesty too closely will be
overwhelmed by its glory.
God can do more than man can understand. A pious and humble
search for truth He will allow, a search that is ever ready to
learn and that seeks to walk in the reasonable doctrine of the
Blest is the simplicity that leaves the difficult way of
dispute and goes forward on the level, firm path of God's
commandments. Many have lost devotion because they wished to
search into things beyond them.
Faith is required of you, and a sincere life, not a lofty
intellect nor a delving into the mysteries of God. If you
neither know nor understand things beneath you, how can you
comprehend what is above you? Submit yourself to God and humble
reason to faith, and the light of understanding will be given
you so far as it is good and necessary for you. Some are gravely
tempted concerning faith and the Sacrament but this disturbance
is not laid to them but to the enemy.
Be not disturbed, dispute not in your mind, answer not the
doubts sent by the devil, but believe the words of God, believe
His saints and prophets and the evil enemy will flee from you.
It is often very profitable for the servant of God to suffer
such things. For Satan does not tempt unbelievers and sinners
whom he already holds securely, but in many ways he does tempt
and trouble the faithful servant.
Go forward, then, with sincere and unflinching faith, and
with humble reverence approach this Sacrament. Whatever you
cannot understand commit to the security of the all-powerful
God, Who does not deceive you. The man, however, who trusts in
himself is deceived. God walks with sincere men, reveals Himself
to humble men, enlightens the understanding of pure minds, and
hides His grace from the curious and the proud.
Human reason is weak and can be deceived. True faith,
however, cannot be deceived. All reason and natural science
ought to come after faith, not go before it, nor oppose it. For
in this most holy and supremely excellent Sacrament, faith and
love take precedence and work in a hidden manner.
God, eternal, incomprehensible, and infinitely powerful, does
great and inscrutable things in heaven and on earth, and there
is no searching into His marvelous works. If all the works of
God were such that human reason could easily grasp them, they
would not be called wonderful or beyond the power of words to