THE FIRST BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR PURIFYING THE HEART
CHAPTER I. THE FOUNDATION
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Learn of Me because I am meek and humble of Heart; and ye shall find rest for your souls.
The voice of the Disciple.-----These are the words of Jesus Christ, whereby we are commanded to learn and imitate the Virtues of His Heart, that we may be set free from all misery of soul, and be made truly happy.
This is His doctrine, this is the method of learning, this is the fruit, this is the end.
The first inducement to learn is the excellence of the Master. What is there more excellent than the Son of God, Who alone is our Master, appointed by His eternal Father, in Whom also are all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God?
His doctrine is the truth, surpassing all the arts and sciences of this world: it smooths the way not to some perishable wealth, some passing pleasures, or a short-lived renown: but to boundless riches, that cease not to last, to unuttered delights, that are constant, to honors supreme, that endure forever.
Whatever He taught us to do, He reduced to one lesson: Learn of Me because I am meek and humble of Heart: this He adapted to all men, this He gives to all, that all may learn the same, the little as well as the great; knowing full well that in this precept, if rightly understood and kept, are contained all things necessary.
His whole life was the application of this doctrine, which He began to practice, before He taught it to others.
2. Let us learn this short lesson, and we shall be wise enough, and sufficiently instructed; nor shall we have to look for any thing more.
The method of learning consists in action, which is performed in two ways: by studying and by practicing.
But first, in order to understand what we strive to learn, and reduce to practice what we have understood, we must pray earnestly.
Afterwards, we must diligently revolve in our mind the depth, the height, the breadth of the lesson; keeping unceasingly before our eyes the Divine likeness of our Master, and examining what we ought to amend, what to avoid, what to hold, and to what to aspire.
Lastly, since it is not enough to know, but we must also practice, the lesson, as it wholly consists in action, and can only be perfectly learnt by acting; we must, as soon as we begin to learn, also begin to practice, showing ourselves before God and men, meek and humble of heart in thought, word and deed.
And, whilst we progress in understanding and practice, we should so labor that the spirit of the lesson unfold itself ever more perfectly in the plan of our life, in our inmost feelings, in our conversations, in our every action, yea, in the very modifications of the same.
3. If, after this manner, we learn what our Lord has given us to learn, we shall reap the fruit, whereby our zeal and toil shall most certainly be rewarded, according to the promise of Him Who cannot possibly deceive nor be deceived.
Which is that promised fruit? Of all-----the most desirable. Ye shall find rest, says He. And what is it, to find rest?
Nothing less than to find that with which we may repose, filled and satisfied; without any need to seek for aught more, and without fear of ever losing it, against our will.
Whoever shall have found this rest, will be truly calm and happy: but he that finds it not, whatever else he may possess, shall ever be restless and unhappy; because in his heart he is not satisfied, is obliged to seek for more, and is ever in danger of losing, even against his will, what he has acquired.
We are all so framed that, by nature, we are compelled to covet a blissful repose; neither have we
it in our power not to desire the same. A great blessing it doubtless was, that the Lord placed within us this awakening desire, this urging power; for, more firmly in action, more gently in manner, do we by its means, pursue that which is to make us happy.
And although, by the freedom of our will, we are enabled to seek rest in a variety of things; yet will this longing of ours, this power, importune and drive us onward, until we find the object for the seeking and attaining of which this faculty has been given to us.
Christ the Lord, our God, Who implanted this faculty in our souls, and Who would not have given us this irresistible faculty without an object, nor have given it without the ability of attaining the same,-----shows us here where we should seek, and how we may find the true object.
Learn of Me because I am meek and humble of Heart, and ye shall find rest. He makes no distinction, no exception: we shall then find true rest, unalloyed happiness.
For although our rest, our soul's happiness, as long as we dwell here below, cannot be every way complete, yet it will be real; such as the Lord promises and such as has been experienced by numberless Saints, who were meek and humble Disciples of the meek and humble Jesus.
We shall truly enjoy that peace, which no outward enemy can disturb: we shall delight in that repose, which no inward agitation can disquiet: lastly we shall possess that Divine likeness and union, wherein is contained supreme happiness! yea, every good here upon earth, and of which no one can deprive us, against our will.
4. Whilst we gather this fruit, we shall, at the same time, secure our end, the everlasting bliss of our souls. For He says: Ye shall find rest for your souls.
If our souls are ours, they are not ours because we created them, since He Himself created us, and not we ourselves: but they are ours because He gave them to us. In giving them to us, He gave them for an end worthy of Himself, that we,-----after He had done what He ought, which He always does, since He is infinitely perfect,-----might act jointly with Him, and thus gain for our souls a blissful and abiding tranquillity.
This then is the end: everlasting beatitude of the soul, intimately connected with the glory of the Lord, Who, in creating her, had this end in view.
For if God is full of glory in all His works, how glorified must He be, in so great a work as that of the salvation of souls exulting forever in triumph, and praising Him without ceasing!
To attain this end, He helps and strengthens us in a thousand ways and by countless means: for this He goes before us, as a good father before His children, as a guide and companion, pointing out a safe and pleasant way, whilst, at the same time, He relieves and refreshes us.
5. This being so, let us joyously follow so great and so good a leader. What can be more honorable for us? Is it not a great glory to follow the Lord? Is it not supreme honor, to be the beloved Disciples of His Heart?
What worldly honor can be imagined, which does not become mere emptiness, when compared with such a dignity?
Nor is there anything more useful, since on it depends our soul's rest: our happiness both in time and in eternity. Now, this is a matter of such importance, that alone it deserves our attention; because without it, all other things are useless and delusive Lastly, it is sweet and easy; for His commands are not heavy; since He enjoins such things, as with the means which He affords, we cannot only perform, but from the fulfillment of which no enemy of our salvation, no obstacles can hinder us.
And, if we learn of the very Heart of the Saviour, we draw from the sweetest fountain of love; so that we either do not feel the labor, or if we do, we cherish it as to find it easy and delightful.
O Jesus, meek and humble of Heart! receive me, I pray Thee, as Thy Disciple, the Disciple of Thy Heart, and grant me to learn diligently of Thee to be meek and lowly of heart, that thus I may find rest for my soul, to Thy everlasting glory.
CHAPTER II. THAT NO OBJECT IN THIS WORLD CAN SET OUR HEART TRULY AT REST OR MAKE IT TRULY CONTENTED
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, thou art created for happiness. This experience affirms, this reason proves, this faith teaches.
Thou seekest incessantly for happiness, and thou dost well. But leave off seeking thy happiness in things created; in them thou shalt not find it.
No object of this world can satisfy the longings of thy heart; even shouldst thou alone possess at once all things created, thy heart should still be empty and wretched.
Things of this earth awaken the thirst of the heart, they cannot allay it; yea, the more thou dost possess, the more eagerly shalt thou thirst.
How canst thou find in creatures that which exists not in them? Can anyone give what he does not possess?
2. Shalt thou obtain what no mortal was ever able to obtain? Behold, the wisest of men abounded in all good things, he was affluent with ever-fresh delights, he astonished nations with his boundless wealth, he had filled the uttermost lands with the renown of his glory.
Yet, on account of the void of his heart, he is forced to exclaim: Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.
Grant that thou possess whatever thy heart may long for in this world: that thou be lord of the
whole earth: that all men do thee honor: try all things; and thou shalt find that thou hast as yet found nothing, except vanity and affliction of spirit.
3. Do not wonder at this, My Child: thy heart is not made for this world. Therefore, whatever
this world contains is unworthy of thy noble destiny and of thy heart's affection.
Thou art created for greater things, thou art born for things everlasting, thou art destined to things without limit. Do not then give thyself up to what is low and mean, since thou art made to rule forever.
What could it avail thee to gain the whole world, if thou shouldst lose thy soul? Surely, thou wouldst be twice unhappy: here, on account of the wicked state of thy conscience, thou wouldst suffer a torturing agony; hereafter, thou wouldst have to undergo misery everlasting.
Blessed, therefore, is he who spurns whatever may mislead the heart; who nobly casts aside every obstacle to true felicity; who, mindful of his noble destiny, seeks happiness above all in his Creator.
4. The voice of the Disciple.-----My God, my Saviour, Thou didst create me for happiness; hitherto I have not ceased to seek it, still I have never yet tasted, nor have I ever yet found happiness.
My passions were ever and anon crying to me: here it is, or there. In my madness, I believed them, and, blinded by my unruly desires, I ran hither and thither; but, instead of the sought-for bliss, I found wretchedness, and tasted its bitterness.
Ah, wretched me! created for happiness in Thee.
My God! I toiled in vain, whilst I sought it in creatures outside of Thee; and behold! I strayed still further away from the bliss for which I was created, and I found wretchedness, for which I was not made, and perished therein.
God, my Saviour! open my eyes, that now I may distinctly see this great mistake of mine; and grant that, free from error, I may effectually seek in Thee that beatitude which I cannot find in creatures.
CHAPTER III. THAT IN THE HEART OF JESUS OUR HEART MAY FIND TRUE REST,
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, if thou desirest to attain true felicity, render thy whole heart similar and conformable to My Heart.
In My Heart thou shalt find peace and tranquillity, which the world cannot give nor take away.
If once thou hadst entered perfectly into the interior of My Heart, thou wouldst thence behold all
things earthly, such as they are in themselves, not as they are esteemed by the foolish worshipers of the world.
Then thou wouldst free thyself from the irksome and unnecessary care of creatures, and think nothing worthy of itself, except what is truly good.
2. Now, thy heart, subject to continual fluctuation, changes seven times a day, so that at one time it is glad, at another sad; now calm, then troubled, again inflamed with the love of creatures, and again wearied with the emptiness of them; sometimes it glows with fervor, and next it falls into lukewarmness, and thus, like the sea, it is ever changing.
But, if thy heart were united with Mine, a great and enduring calm would suddenly ensue.
For, safe in thy union with My Heart, as in a harbor of protection, thou shouldst be enabled to remain ever the same and unshaken; secure against change, whether the winds of adversity or of prosperity were blowing.
If thou art sheltered in My Heart, no enemy shall hurt thee. The devil, indeed, runs about, seeking whom he may destroy; and many does he drag into destruction; but thee he shall not approach, nor shall he disturb thy peace.
3. Oh! if thou wouldst acknowledge the Divine gift! Oh! if thou wert willing to know what good things lie hidden therein! It does truly contain all that is needed for thy felicity.
Continual peace, undisturbed security, true joy of heart is the portion of all those that love My Heart, and make their abode within the same.
Of what avail are riches, honor, yea the greatest delights, if the heart be not satisfied and at rest?
And what can the whole world give, except restlessness and sickliness of heart?
Wretched therefore shalt thou be, whatever thou mayst possess, until thou shalt rest in Me, Who alone can give thee all.
4. The voice of the Disciple.-----Experience has taught me this, O Lord; for in all things have I sought peace, and nothing have I found except trouble upon trouble.
Thou didst assuredly will, for Thy Own sake, as well as for ours, that our heart should find peace in Thee alone. For Thou, O Lord, didst make our heart for Thyself: and restless and unhappy must it be, until it repose in Thee.
O Heart of Jesus most sweet! O Thou the delight of the most Holy Trinity! O Thou the joy of the Angels and Saints! O most blissful Paradise of souls! what can I wish outside of Thee, since in Thee is all that I can and must desire?
In Thee, Heaven has its beatitude; in Thee, the earth its felicity: since, then, Thou art the bliss of all, why shouldst Thou not also be mine?
Yes, indeed, O sweetest Heart of My Jesus! Thou art my repose, Thou art my bliss for evermore.
CHAPTER IV. THAT IT IS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION TO IMITATE THE HEART OF JESUS
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, one thing above all others is necessary, to save thy soul. For if she is lost, all is lost; but if she is saved, all else is saved.
Yet, thou shalt not attain thy eternal salvation, if thou do not imitate My Heart.
For those whom God did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.
Which is this image of the Son of God, whereunto all those that will be saved are to be conformed, if it be not My Heart?
It is not given to everyone, to imitate My outward actions; nor does it depend on man to do the wonderful works, which I have wrought.
Besides, by reason of the diversity of men's conditions in life, all cannot follow My exterior manner of living; but the interior dispositions of My Heart can be imitated by all, the great and the small, the learned and the ignorant, in whatever condition they may live.
If then thou desirest to be saved, be conformed to My Heart; and do thou reproduce in thy heart, whatever sentiments animate Mine.
2. Though thou shouldst distribute thy possessions among the poor; though thou shouldst give up thy body to the greatest penances; though thou shouldst understand all mysteries; though thou shouldst work astonishing miracles; if thy heart be not after the likeness of Mine, thou art nothing, and all those things shall avail thee nothing forever.
By the likeness of thy heart to Mine art thou to be judged, and thence is thy eternal state to be determined.
But, at the judgment, many will say: Lord, have we not in Thy name prophesied? have we not cast out devils? have we not wrought many wonders? And I will say to them: I know you not: do ye see the wounds which ye have inflicted? Do ye recognize the Side, which ye have pierced, and which for your sake remained open; yet ye would not enter into the same? Whatever, therefore, thou mayst do, it avails thee nothing, unless thou do it according to My Heart.
3. Not the outward appearance of piety, but a devoted heart makes a man truly good, and dear to Me.
Thou wilt place thy salvation in security, in proportion as thou dost conform thy heart to My
Do for thy salvation whatever thou art capable of doing: no zeal can be too great, when an eternity is at stake.
When thou art about to die, thou shalt find that everything is lost, whatsoever thou mayst have done; unless thou didst direct it to Me, and to thy salvation.-----If, then, thy everlasting salvation is of the greatest importance, remember, as much as thy salvation is worth, so much is the Imitation of My Heart to be prized.
4. The voice of the Disciple.-----O eternal salvation of the soul! important affair, thou alone art to me supremely necessary! Why am I in this world If not to save my soul? Why was I redeemed, why furnished with so many means, why loaded with Divine favors, if it was not that I might, with more ease and pleasure, secure my soul's salvation?
But alas! I did not yet begin earnestly, that for which I am placed in this world. Ransomed as I was, I sold myself again into a more disgraceful slavery, and perished by misusing the very means and blessings, whereby I might so easily have secured my salvation and my happiness.
O Lord my God! Thou couldst most justly have permitted that I should perish forever, and suffer that never-ending destruction, which my wickedness and the wasting of Thy gifts have deserved for me.
Yet, since the infinite goodness of Thy Heart did not allow this; nay more, since by a new and exceedingly great blessing, Thou hast induced me to value and love the salvation of my soul; I will no longer be ungrateful, I will no longer expose my soul to everlasting ruin.
I resolve and promise to co-operate with Thy Heart's most sweet designs of saving my soul, and rendering her forever happy.