THE FIRST BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR PURIFYING THE HEART
CHAPTER V. THAT ALL OUR PERFECTIONS CONSIST IN IMITATING THE HEART OF JESUS
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, all thy perfection consists in thy resemblance to My Divine Heart.
For My Heart, which is the Heart of the Word of God, is the standard of all virtues, is holiness itself.
Whoever, therefore, imitates my Heart, imitates God, his Saviour, perfection itself.
Now, since My Heart is the model of sanctity and the source of every grace, thou shalt learn of My Heart, what it behooves thee to do, that thou mayst render thyself holy; and thou shalt draw thence the necessary strength to effect this.
If, then, thou wilt become perfect, imitate My Heart: the more conformed thou art to It, the more
perfect shalt thou be.
2. My Heart is humble: humility is the foundation of true sanctity.
If thou do not learn humility of My Heart, thou shalt never possess this virtue; nor shalt thou know aught of it except the name.
And if thou build the structure of perfection upon aught else, it cannot be solid; and it shall be overthrown by the least breath of wind, and great shall be the fall thereof.
Moreover, My Heart is meek, full of charity: now, charity is the perfection holiness.
But thy heart shall never be inflamed with charity, unless it be enkindled by that fire of love wherewith My Own is burning.
Woe to thee, if thou enkindlest thy heart with any strange fire! thou wilt indeed burn, but for thy destruction.
3. Thou shalt never acquire solid virtues, not attain true sanctity, except by imitating My Heart.
Whatever signs of virtue thou mayst display, how devout soever thou mayest appear: so long as thy heart does not imitate Mine, all thy piety shall be nothing more, than a mask thrown over thy features.
There is no hope of perfection, unless thou propose to thyself My Heart as a pattern of perfection.
4. So it has been from the beginning of the world. For, in the Old Law, it was foretold and known of what sort My Heart would be; and no one was numbered with the Elect, unless he had foreshadowed in his heart the qualities of My future Heart.
And from the beginning of the Church to the present time, My Heart was ever the sanctification of the Apostles, the fortitude of Martyrs, the constancy of Confessors, the purity of Virgins, the perseverance of the Just; in short, the perfection of all the Saints.
Therefore, take courage, My Child, follow My Heart, whithersoever I may lead thee: the more closely thou shalt follow the same, the nearer thou shalt come to complete perfection.
On the Imitation of My Heart depends the entire fulfillment of the Law, all sanctity.
The constant endeavor of imitating My Heart, is a sure sign of predestination.
5. The voice of the Disciple.-----O sweet Jesus, fountain of life and grace! arouse me, help me to understand and imitate Thy Heart, the standard of virtue, the pattern of sanctity.
Free my heart from every illusion, from every obstacle: grant, that with a guileless and pure heart, I may seek Thee; that I may make Thy interior thoughts, the feelings of Thy Heart, my own; that I may make myself inwardly similar to Thee.
Alas! O Lord, how unlike in heart am I to Thee! How little have I hitherto labored to portray the life of Thy Heart by my own! Would that I had not struggled to estrange my heart and turn it away from Thine! O blindness! O madness of my soul!
Have Thou pity on me, Lord Jesus! have pity on me, according to the great mercy of Thy Heart.
How many there are, who have not lived so long, nor had so many means, and yet have sanctified themselves by becoming fervent Disciples of Thy Heart! And I have not yet begun to be holy: I am still a sinner!
It is time, O Lord, it is time to begin the work of my sanctification, which I have so long neglected.
This arouses me, this spurs me on, that I can yet be made holy, that I can yet become the Disciple of Thy Heart, that I can yet be marked with that most joyous sign of predestination.
Cheer me up, Jesus most kind, give help, give courage: behold, now I begin.
CHAPTER VI. THAT WHOEVER DESIRES TO IMITATE THE HEART OF JESUS, MUST PURIFY HIS OWN HEART
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, if thou wilt enter into the intimacy of My Heart, and taste the unutterable sweetness of Its intercourse, cleanse thy heart from every evil.
For I, thy Well-beloved, am pure and stainless, I delight Myself among the lilies.
How could there exist a union betwixt My Heart and thine, unless thou hadst carefully purified it?
For who shall accuse My Heart of sin? And how canst thou say: My heart is clean; since thy heart itself is conscious of the contrary?
Alas! My Child, what a heart is thine! Born in sin, so long an abode of evil spirits, defiled and disfigured by so many stains, strongly drawn to evil and sadly estranged from supernal good; fostering so many ill-regulated affections, the fruitful sources of sin, full of itself and of the world; accustomed, for the most part, to have itself in all things for its ultimate object.
2. Wonderful indeed is it, that thou darest invite Me to enter into such a heart, and to reside amid such uncleanness.
A wicked heart is to Me an object of abhorrence, but an unclean heart I loathe: how then could it delight Me to dwell therein?
I seek a pure heart, and all My delight is to dwell therein; and to be there entertained among
Whoever, therefore, loves cleanness of heart, shall enjoy My presence, and shall experience the tenderness, and Divine sweetness of My Heart.
3. Be not deceived, My Child, thinking that it is well with thee, provided thou dost outwardly deport thyself in a proper manner, since I look chiefly at the heart.
And what will it avail thee to have been pleasing by thy outward conduct, to all creatures, if, by thy inward dispositions, thou hast been displeasing to Me?
If thy heart is stainless, then shalt thou be wholly pure: since it is from the heart that proceed evil thoughts, uncleanness, fraud, blasphemy and all manner of evil.
Purify thy heart, therefore, and nothing shall hinder thee from being sweetly united to My Heart, and from tasting the fullness of Its delights.
But, if only outwardly thou turn away from evil, if thou do not root out sin from thy heart, thou shalt never be free from vices: they shall sprout forth with ten times greater vigor from within, than thou shalt be able to shun from without; and, whilst thou appearest to stand firm, thou shalt sink beneath the weight of inward evils.
4. Come then, My Child, prepare a neat dwelling-place for Me in thy heart, and I, when I come, will be wholly thine, and thou shalt be wholly Mine; and there shall exist a wonderful intimacy between us, and a union known only to those who have tried it by experience.
Be of good courage, and begin forthwith this all-important work: thou canst feel no true joy, until thou finish it entirely.
Fear of trouble hinders many from perfectly purifying their hearts.
This is a device of the enemy: the wily foe,-----knowing that on a true and thorough cleansing of the heart depends not thy salvation and perfection alone, but also that of others, and, above all, My glory,-----strives, by every means, to keep thee from this undertaking.
Give no heed to the suggestions of the crafty schemer, who cares not, whether it be by true or false means, that he attains his object.
Do thou pray, ask for Divine grace; with this, set about thy work bravely; and thou shalt see that all difficulties vanish before thy greatness of spirit; and, to thy astonishment, thou shalt find, that where thou didst look for the greatest hardships, there shalt thou meet the greatest consolations.
5. The voice of the Disciple.-----I beg and beseech Thee, Lord, create a clean heart in me, and renew a right spirit in my interior.
My whole heart is defiled with uncleanness: and from the heart, infection has spread over the powers of my soul, and over the senses of my body. Alas! O Lord! what is there in me without blemish, or altogether pure?
Send forth, I beseech Thee, the light of Thy grace, and illumine my mind; that I may know, and bewail, all the evil I have done, and the good which I have neglected.
O how I regret, sweetest Jesus, that I have dishonored Thy dwelling-place in so unworthy a manner, that I have displeased Thee, that I have saddened Thy Heart! I grieve, O my supreme Good: I lament and abhor all my sins: I avow my malice and my ungratefulness: I implore the mercy of Thy Heart.
Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean: wash me from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Yea, from hidden offenses, and from those not my own, purify my heart.
Come, Jesus, enter my heart, and make for Thyself a scourge with the cords of holy fear, of lively gratitude, and of pure love, and drive out all them that defile this Thy dwelling.
Behold, henceforth I will give admittance to none of them: Thy house shall be called a house of prayer: in it, I will worship Thee; in it, I will love Thee; in it, I will occupy myself with Thee alone.
CHAPTER VII. THAT OUR HEART MUST BE ESPECIALLY CLEAN FROM MORTAL SIN, THE GREATEST OF EVILS
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Look thou, My Child, lest in thy heart there be that sin which causeth the death of the soul.
How canst thou love, or darest thou receive, as a guest, into thy heart, thy deadly foe; who, when admitted, will, without doubt, make thee the slave of Hell, the most wretched of men; yea, more base than the irrational beings themselves.
How many there are who exclaim: Alas! what evils ravage the earth! Yet sin is the only evil, and there is none other besides.
Avoid sin, and whatever may befall thee, it will turn to thy advantage.
2. It is marvelous, that a being, gifted with reason, should, of its own accord, commit sin, which, in its very nature, is so unbecoming and detestable, that, even were there no Heaven nor Hell, it ought to be shunned on account of its inherent foulness.
If thou considerest the infinite Majesty of Him that is offended, and the infinite meanness of the one offending; thou wilt understand, that sin is in some sort an infinite evil.
Whoever sins mortally, assails God, and would do away with God Himself, if that were possible: nor is it for want of will, on the part of the sinner, that the God of Heaven and earth is not destroyed.
3. So great an evil is sin, that, in order to destroy this hell-born monster, and to satisfy the Divine justice, I, the Son of the Most High, must needs come down from My throne of Majesty, and being made man, suffer during life a ceaseless Martyrdom, and, at last, writhing in agony, expire upon a Cross.
Alas! wretched man, how canst thou love to do that, which has cost Me so much? Or how canst thou be willing, for a moment's pleasure, to renew all My toils, My sufferings, and My most bitter death?
When thou sinnest mortally, thou makest thyself guilty of a far more grievous crime than the Jews, My torturers. For these, had they known Me as the Lord of eternal glory, would never have put Me to death. But thou, thou knowest Me: yea, knowest Who, and how good I am, and knowest this by the experience of My favors.
4. Was it not by My charity alone, that I not only created, redeemed, and preserved thee; but that I ever protected, guided, and cherished thee more kindly than the most tender-hearted parent?
Whatever thou art, whatever thou hast, I have given thee, and, over and above all, I have given thee My Own Self: and is this the return which thou makest?
Behold, if thou throwest to an animal, devoid of reason, a morsel of the meanest food, it shows thee gratefulness, as much as it is able. But I have bestowed upon thee boundless favors, and, in return, thou persecutest Me, even unto the death! Reflect, then, what shouldst thou think of thyself?
5. O child of My everlasting love! whom I have loved more than My life, sin thou no more.
If thou lovest Me, yea, if thou lovest thyself, flee from sin.
For, whenever thou committest a mortal sin, thou diest in a supernatural manner; thou losest whatever merits thou didst possess; thou dost forfeit thy right to the heavenly inheritance; thou becomest a co-heir with the devils; thou givest the preference to misery over bliss, to Hell over Heaven, to Satan over Me.
Meditate upon these things, My Child, that thou mayst learn fully, as far as the human mind can understand, how great an evil sin is; and that thou mayst shun that, which alone can make thee wretched for evermore.
6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O my soul! behold sin! Truly the greatest of evils, that places man below the brute, blocks up the gates of Heaven, throws open the abyss of Hell. O monster to be abhorred, a thousand times more frightful than the demon himself!
O my God! I blush to own it, and disown it I cannot, I have become the vilest slave of sin, and by the greatest madness, the greatest ingratitude, the greatest malice; with it, and by it, I have again and again insulted Thy dread Majesty, before which the awe-struck Angels tremble with reverence.
I feel wholly confounded, because I have become viler than any irrational creature; I have done iniquity which my reason disapproved, and I have misused all the powers of my soul, all the senses of my body.
7. O Lord my God! Thou didst establish in me Thy sweet likeness; and I, after having defiled the same, have substituted in its stead the horrid image of Satan; yea, in various ways, I have rendered myself even more horrible than the devil.
He sinned through pride, when no punishment had yet been inflicted for sin; I sinned knowing,
but disregarding Thy vengeance: he was placed in innocence but once; I was restored to it so many
times: he rose up against Him Who made him-----I against Him, Who also remade me.
Most wretched sinner that I am; for nothing, yea, for an object baser than nothing, I have voluntarily cast aside Thy friendship, the blissful peace of my soul, the right to eternal beatitude; I have delivered myself up, as a hapless slave, to the devil; thus, sharing from this time his unhappy condition, and ready to partake of his never-ending torments, unless, returning to my senses, I find mercy in Thy Heart.
S. I acknowledge, Lord Jesus, that I am unworthy to find that mercy, which I have so often abused: I am not worthy to serve Thee, since I have become the slave of the devil. If Thou wilt treat me as I deserve, Hell must be my abode.
Yet, Jesus, my Saviour! there is infinite mercy in Thy Heart: my very sins show this; for unless Thy mercy were infinite, Thou wouldst never have tolerated the infinite malice of my sins.
O Jesus! have pity on me, according to Thy great mercy. A suppliant, I implore forgiveness I hope that Thou wilt pardon me, a wretched sinner. I am sincerely sorry for the sins I have committed, and I firmly resolve to serve Thee faithfully henceforth, and to love Thee fervently.
CHAPTER VIII. THAT OUR HEART MUST BE FREE FROM THE LEAST SIN
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, cleanse thy heart from every fault: and keep thyself carefully from the stain of even the least sin.
There is nothing, there can be nothing, for the sake of which it is allowed to commit a sin, however light.
Wherefore, although thou mightst thereby save the whole world from ruin, it would be unlawful to offend Me, even in the least thing, since I am infinitely more excellent than the whole universe.
Some guard themselves against grievous offenses, but of light faults they render themselves guilty without scruple; a clear sign that they are rather governed by self-love, than by love for Me.
Deluded souls! they will learn, at their cost, how greatly they have deceived themselves.
2. Whoever overlooks little things, will gradually fail in great ones; and, having accustomed himself to think everything little, he will still fancy, that all is well with him; when, without much uneasiness of conscience, he commits great sins.
In his folly, he finds it delightful to walk on the brink of the precipice: yet, it will come to pass, and that justly too, that, at the first slip of his foot, he is thrown headlong into the abyss.
Beware, therefore, of venial trespasses, lest thou fall into mortal sins. As long as thou yielded, even to the slightest fault, so long wilt thou expose thy salvation to danger.
3. Many seem heartily to abhor the renewal of My death by mortal sin; and yet, they cease not, by small offenses, to load My Heart with bitterness, and afflict It with continued sorrows.
Ah! My Child, consider again and again, and carefully attend to what thou art doing. For, whilst thou art willing to inflict a small wound on My Heart, perhaps thou shalt mistake, as has happened to many, and thou shalt pierce My Heart with a mortal blow.
O perverseness of the human heart! Many dread more to give offense to the meanest of men, than to Me, their God and Saviour.
4. So long as thou continues to sin, even slightly, thou shalt be ill at ease; for shalt thou taste true happiness.
If thou hast thy perfection at heart, as it behooves, unless thou avoidest every voluntary sin, thou shall labor in vain, whatever efforts thou mayst make.
For, venial sin lessens charity, brings on lukewarmness, vitiates acts of virtue, obstructs the sources of special grace; and, finally, despoiling, by degrees, the soul of her possessions, leaves her empty.
5. And for what is it, in most cases, that man exposes himself to evils so numerous, and so great? Is it not for self-interest, or for self-gratification?
But consider, how great a loss will ensue, and how severely thou shalt have to suffer in Purgatory.
There, torments are undergone, which far exceed all the pains of this world, and all the ills of life: nor shalt thou go thence, until thou hast paid the last farthing.
How exceedingly shalt thou then deplore, that thou didst commit even the smallest offense, on account of which thou perceivest, too late, alas! that thou art excluded from Heaven, and most sorely tormented?
Do not, My Child, render useless My Heart's desires and endeavors of making thee happy; neither be thou so thoughtless as to choose to be unhappy, in spite of Me.
6. The voice of the Disciple.-----Venial sin, O Lord, is then no small evil, since it offends Thy Divine Majesty, wounds Thy Heart, deprives the soul of special graces and helps, hinders her progress, vitiates her good deeds, prepares the way for her destruction, exposes her to the danger of everlasting perdition, and excludes her from Heaven.
And evils so great, I have deemed small! O what madness was mine! And, what is worse, I have committed them without number, without measure. My transgressions have exceeded all bounds.
Where are the limits? Behold! as many powers of the soul, and senses of the body as there are in me, so many kinds of sin: as many gifts and favors, so many faults of misuse or ungratefulness: as many species of employments, so many sorts of offenses. Alas! amongst all my actions, even those of religion or of piety, which is the one wherein Thou findest not some short-coming?
O my soul, we commit so many faults through want of attention, by surprise, and through frailty; ought not these to suffice? Should we add greater ones through carelessness, through the abuse of our free-will, through malice?
Is this the return we make to the Lord, by Whose goodness we live, to Whose love we owe whatever we are and possess?
7. O Lord God, my Saviour! that I have not perished beneath the weight and multitude of my offenses, this I acknowledge is altogether due to the kindness of Thy Heart: yea, to Thy Heart's mercy it is owing, O Lord, that I have not been utterly destroyed.
I have been lowered to the dust: my strength has forsaken me; darkness has overspread me: my heart itself has grown faint within me. Lo! ever deeper have I sunk, and through very weariness, I am now unable to extricate myself. O, how great is my misery!
O! who shall give water to my eyes, and strength to my heart, that I may weep, and move Thee, O Lord, to set me free!
Have pity on me, good Jesus! and deliver me: cleanse and renew me wholly.
Inflame my heart with the love of Thy Heart: with Its Divine fire do Thou consume my offenses: nor keep them for the fire of Purgatory. Here, I beseech Thee, here let me burn and be cleansed in the fire of Thy sweet love; not there in the fire of avenging flames.
Behold! O most sweet Jesus, love for Thee will now make me do, what fear has hitherto been unable to effect: through love for Thee, I will shun every sin, even the slightest.