THE FIRST BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR PURIFYING THE HEART
CHAPTER XXI. OF WATCHING OVER OUR HEART
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, with all watchfulness, keep thy heart safe for Me: for from it proceeds either life or death.
The greatest and most pleasing gift thou canst offer, is to present thy whole heart irrevocably to Me; and thou canst have no better, nor more wholesome employment, than, to preserve thy heart faithfully for Me.
In vain dost thou devote thy heart to Me, if thou do not guard it sedulously: for the enemy, even without thy being fully aware of it, will corrupt it and tear it away.
2. A man, loose in heart, and given up to outward things, may, indeed, on occasion of some swift-passing fervor, devote his feelings to Me; but soon when this warmth of devotion disappears, he will fall into a worse than his wonted low estate.
A heart not watched over, is rarely self-present, and more rarely still, mindful of Me: hence, in a short time, it becomes unfeeling, and grows hardened against things spiritual.
It lies open to every one, like a public thoroughfare, through which thoughts, temptations, errors of every sort may freely pass.
All its enemies come and go through it; and, in various ways, disturb, defile, and corrupt it.
A man, given to outward things, never seriously gives heed to this; and, shrinking from the very thought of dwelling within himself, or of busying himself with what goes on in his heart, he endeavors to flee from himself, or to turn away his mind.
And thus the evil grows worse; and, from day to day, the condition of his heart becomes more dangerous.
3. If thou art unwilling to be the victim of miseries so great, remove their causes, and the effects will cease.
By calling to mind the Divine presence, by frequent recourse to Me, check thou all levity, and take heed, lest thou be too indulgent to thy ever-changing nature; which always seeks to go abroad, which is prone to vanity, which seeks to show itself everywhere, which studies continually how it may gratify the senses.
Shun things trifling and useless; shut out all outer things, with which it is not needful to busy thyself; accustom thyself to dwell within thyself, and to live interiorly in such a manner, as if thou wast alone with Me in the world.
Study, always and everywhere, to possess thyself and to be self-collected: to this thou mayst attain by grace, by effort, and by practice, so that it will become, as it were, natural to thee.
And, when thou hast acquired it, this self-presence of the mind will bring its own reward. For it is a boundless treasure to man.
4. The self-collected man keeps watch over all the avenues of the heart; Me, his God and Saviour, he entertains within himself; with Me he deals generously, with Me he converses familiarly.
Everywhere self-possesssed, he peacefully enjoys the Beloved of his soul, and is ever saved from wearisomeness, and from numberless faults.
Whilst inwardly recollected, he makes progress in virtue; and, in spite of every obstacle, he hastens on to perfection.
Wherefore, allow not thy spirit to grow dissipated, My Child; neither on account of the appearance of external objects, nor on account of the varied throng of circumstances, nor on account of the urgency of labor, nor on account of the comfortless inward state of thy soul.
Observe carefully, with what objects thy heart busies itself; by what it is moved, towards what it tends.
Turn thyself wholly to interior things; and, intent on these, preserve inward peace, and rejoice in My presence.
5. The voice of the Disciple.-----Grant me, I beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, an inward spirit, that I may keep my heart for Thee, that I may watch over its employments.
For I find it ever busy but, by reason of my neglectfulness, it heeds neither place, nor time, nor objects.
Behold! frequently have I surprised it in strange places, pouring out its feelings, whether of love or of aversion, distracted with emotions, becoming stained by the objects which engaged it.
Frequently have I found it to steal away and give itself up to dissipation at the hours, yea at the very moments, which were specially consecrated to Thee; and when it ought to have been praying to Thee, praising Thee, loving Thee, enjoying Thee.
How often have I seen it engaged with objects vain, or even forbidden, when it should have occupied itself with things good or useful! When unguarded, it slips forthwith away, it runs to and fro, it is carried towards different objects, according as it is swayed by different impulses of nature.
It is never at rest: when it escapes from one object, it is entangled in another. It is excited by curiosity, it is allured by cupidity, it is misled by vanity, it is defiled by pleasure, it is wasted by sadness, it is tortured by envy, it is disturbed by love and hatred, it is worried by its own misery, and by worrying itself it is broken down.
Thus is my heart busied, thus is it defiled, when , watch not over it, or when I am careless about it.
6. O Lord! how great the need of being vigilant! How great the need of guarding my heart! It must not only be made to stay at home in recollection, but it must also be kept busy, yet only with Thee or for Thee.
I must examine, then, by what it is impelled, whether by nature or by grace: how it acts, whether according to Thy good pleasure, or according to its own natural likings; what it has ultimately in view, Thee or itself.
And I must watch constantly, until my heart, in some manner, has grown accustomed, sweetly and courageously to follow, for love of Thee, the motion of grace.
O Jesus! of how great an importance is this work! whatever efforts be needed to accomplish it, behold! I will not cease to pursue the same, until I see it perfected.
If I loved Thee, if I were all captivated with Thy love, how easily, and how speedily should this work be completed! For, if my heart were filled with love for Thee, it would repose in Thee, it would not stray from Thee:-----in Thee it would find its happiness; all else it would, of its own accord, drive off or cast away.
O sweetest Jesus! how wonderful is Thy love! Replenish Thou my heart with Thy love and Thy grace, and my heart will gladly stand watch over itself, will zealously reserve itself for Thee.
CHAPTER XXII. OF THE SHORTNESS OF THIS LIFE
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, in all thy works, remember thy last end: and thou shalt never
Whilst thou hast time, do whatever thou canst for eternity, mindful that thy life is exceedingly short. Soon thou must return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken; for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.
What is the life of man upon earth? A vapor, which appears, for a little time, then vanishes away, and leaves not even a vestige behind.
Ever since thou wast born, thou hast not ceased to hasten on to death; neither is it in thy power to stay thy steps.
2. Think over the time thou hast lived. Does it not appear like a dream? Yet know, My Child, that it shall seem still more so, when death is near, which thou must meet full soon.
For what is even the longest life? Behold! the number of man's days are threescore and ten years: and, if he be among the powerful, fourscore years. But, compared with eternity, these years are accounted as a drop in the waters of the ocean.
Nay more, the time of this life, placed in comparison with the endless duration of the life hereafter, is only a point. Yet on this point is hung thy eternity, whether of bliss or of woe.
Yea, hadst thou lived from the beginning of the world, even to this hour, if thou wert now about to die, what should this life be worth to thee, when thou art entering into eternity; in which there are neither days, nor years, nor ages, but which flow perpetually onward, through an uninterrupted forever.
3. Wherefore, My Child, understand well the value of time. Time is the measure of life: as much as thou squanderest of time, so much dost thou lose of thy life.
Time exceeds in value all the treasures of this world. With all the riches of earth, thou couldst not purchase a second of time: but, with time, everlasting treasures may be secured.
Oh! could the dead return from eternity, thinkest thou that they would misspend even a moment? That they would not employ it; some to free themselves from punishments, others to increase their merits?
But alas! though nothing is more precious than time, to many there is naught more wearisome.
There are those,-----not only among persons that follow the spirit of the world, but even among such as make a profession of piety,-----to whom time seems a burden. They complain of its dullness; they love to waste it; they rejoice when they have spent it uselessly, but without irksomeness.
And thus they squander, in dishonoring Me, and in harming themselves, that by means of which they were able and obliged to glorify Me; to help their neighbor; to gather treasures of merit for eternity.
4. Frequently call to mind, My Child, for what purpose thou didst enter into this world. Evidently for none other, except to prepare thyself for eternity. For, what else is the present life, if not a novitiate of eternity?
Whilst this brief career continues, thou hast numberless duties to fulfill. For, there are thy many faults to be atoned for; thy soul to be saved and sanctified; Hell to be escaped; Purgatory to be
avoided; Heaven to be secured; thou hast a neighbor whom thou must edify and help to life everlasting; lastly, thou hast to honor and glorify Me in a befitting manner, and with all thy powers.
If thou do not this during life, after it, time shall be no more: and, throughout eternity, thou shalt bear the consequences of thy heedlessness and neglect.
Time is Mine, not thine: I have lent it to thee, that thou mayst use it to perform those things, which I demand, or desire of thee.
If thou squanderest it, thou shalt one day be held to a most strict account: but if thou usest it well, thou canst merit, at every moment, a new degree of grace, and of ever-enduring glory.
5. Hearken, My Child: frequently imagine thyself at that point, when time shall cease, and eternity begin: and weigh, attentively, what thoughts will then occupy thy mind, both concerning all the past, and concerning the whole future.
Behold! eternity is thy dwelling-place: eternity is thy country: eternity is thy lasting home.
Thou art a traveler and a stranger upon earth; fleetly thou passest over it, in search of thy kindred in eternity. Thither, all that have been, that are, and that shall be, must repair. There all, the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the well-formed and the misshapen, shall be without distinction, except such a one as arises from virtue.
Yet a little time, My Child, and thou also shalt be there.
There shalt thou live: yea, live an endless life. Behold! what a lofty thought, My Child! Time shall wing away its flight, ages shall succeed to ages, the world itself shall perish: but thou shalt never cease to be; thou shalt never cease to live.
Oh! would, my Child, that thou didst understand this rightly!
6. If thou savest not thyself for eternity, who will save thee? Most certainly, no one: not even I; for, although I created thee without thee, I will not save thee without thee.
And if thou dost not now work out thy salvation and perfection, how wilt thou do it hereafter? The future is a time, which, perhaps, thou shalt not have, and which thou canst, by no means, promise to thyself. But even wert thou to possess it, the matter would grow more difficult from day to day and would induce thee to delay still farther: and thus thou shouldst stand, at the gates of eternity, still unprepared.
Believe every day to be the last, and live each day in such a manner, that, when the Son of man comes, far from fearing, thou mayst be able to rejoice at His coming.
Blessed is he whom, when I come, I shall find thus employed. Verily, I say, I will place him over all My possessions.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord, how short is life, and how many, and what great things have to be done during it! But, alas! how have I spent hitherto the time of my life!
All these things of supreme importance, which Thou gavest me to do for eternity, I have overlooked, as if they were of little or no worth.
O blindness! O wickedness of mine! Although these things deserve to be wept over, with tears of blood, oh! would that they were my worst transgressions! Woe is me: I have employed a great part of the time of my life in tormenting and grieving Thy Heart, in committing and heaping up sins for myself.
Much of it have I wasted in serving the world, in seeking after its empty possessions, in pursuing its fruitless glory, deceitful pleasures, trifles of every kind.
Much of it have I squandered in satisfying myself, in fostering self-love, in gratifying the inclinations of nature, yea, even in things which otherwise were good and pious.
O my Saviour! how wretchedly have I lived! Instead of virtues and merits, I have gathered wood, and straw, and stubble, to feed the fire, and burn myself in the life to come.
Pardon, I entreat Thee, O pardon the evils, I have done: grant me grace to redeem lost time, to repair the past and make it good, by fervently employing what still remains of my life, in those things for the performing of which it was given me.
The source of my misfortunes was that I did not love Thee, Lord Jesus; that I felt indifferent toward Thee; that I was defiled with a corrupt and corrupting love for other objects.
O my God, Thou Who hast freed me from so great a curse, I beseech Thee, enkindle my heart with that fire of love with which Thy Heart is burning. This most hallowed flame will utterly destroy my offenses; this will arouse me faithfully to perform whatever is enjoined to secure a blissful eternity.
CHAPTER XXIII. OF DEATH
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, remember, thou must die: because it is appointed for all men once to die.
Do whatever thou wilt, thou canst by no possible effort escape the grasp of death. The Almighty Himself has fixed the bounds, beyond which none can pass. When thou hast reached them, no matter what may be thy condition, thou shalt die the death.
Whilst life endures, there is naught more certain than death: yet there is naught more hidden in uncertainty, than the time of death, and its attendant surroundings.
Thou knowest not, indeed, when thou shalt die: yet, hold this for certain, that thou shalt die, when thou thinkest not.
Whether thou shalt see the end of this year, or even of this day, of that thou art wholly ignorant.
Many, counting on a long life, and regardless of making preparation for death, dream of much to be done in the future; when suddenly death puts an end to all their plans, and drags them away into eternity.
Whether thou shalt die at home, or abroad, of sickness, or by violence; whether strengthened with the Sacraments, or deprived of their soothing comforts, all this lies hidden in the mysterious unknown.
2. However, My Child, thou shalt die only once: if once thou diest well, thy everlasting bliss is secured; if once thou diest ill, thy destruction is endless and irreparable.
O inconceivable stupidity of the heart of man! Very many fear not to live in a state of damnation; and yet it is certain, that they shall die unexpectedly. The unchangeable declaration remains firm: The Son of man will come, when He is not expected.
For a reason worthy of God's Wisdom, the time of His coming remains hidden, that men may keep themselves in the state of grace-----ever ready. But, as many disregard this, it happens that not a few die without being prepared, and in a twinkling are buried in Hell.
Woe, therefore, to them whom death shall overtake in a bad state! When they are dead, hope shall be no more; because from a death in time, they fall into the death of eternity, and from finite evils they pass over to those which are infinite.
Most wretched is the death of sinners: frightful is the death of the lukewarm; but precious, and filled with consolation, is the death of them that have sanctified themselves.
Blessed are they who end a saintly life with a holy death! They reach the end of their labors, their afflictions, their trials, and of all dangers, and they enter into a bliss secure and complete.
3. How differently are different persons impressed at the moment of death! some are terror-stricken at the thought of the past, of the present, and of the future; others are filled with comfort: these feel their hearts dilating, those feel them compressed with anguish: but all wish that they had lived piously.
To be well prepared to die, is the greatest consolation of him that sees the near approach of death.
To how great a danger of dying unprepared is he exposed, who thinks of making ready only when death is at the door! Then, either time is wanting, or the pangs of sickness hinder the use of the soul's powers, or passions still have their wonted sway, whilst the habit of neglecting to correspond to grace still prevails; and, meanwhile, the devil's assaults are greater than ever before.
Look forward, then, My Child, before the night overtake thee, wherein no one can securely work, but when every one begins to garner what he has sown.
A good life is the best preparation for death. It is generally true, that he that lives well, dies well.
Daily, before retiring to thy nightly rest, put thy soul in order, as if, the same night, thou hadst to set out for eternity.
4. Death is a good counselor, My Child; wherefore, before thou undertakest, or leavest off, aught of importance, ask advice of death, that thou mayst know, when it calls thee, what thou wouldst like to have done, what thou wouldst regret to have left undone.
By perfect purity of heart thou canst make thy death most safe and consoling.
Take no counsel of the flesh when there is question of securing a happy death; but, even in spite of its murmurings, pursue what is good, that, in the end, thou mayst save both the body and the soul.
After death thy body shall become the food of worms, and whatever remains of, it, shall be the prey of corruption.
Yet, thereafter, it shall arise again, whether thou art willing or not, to share the everlasting destiny of the soul.
Let death be most familiar to thee, My Child. If thou be faithful in asking its advice, and in following it, it will be thy solace in adversity, it will keep thee in due bounds in prosperity, it will be useful to thee in all things, it will not cease to do thee good; and, in the end, it will free thee from this place of exile, and introduce thee into thy blissful country in Heaven.
5. The voice of the Disciple.-----Is it possible, O Lord, that anyone will hold himself unprepared, when at any moment he may have to meet death?
My conscience bears me witness, what I shall wish for at the approach of death: then my sole
desire shall the that I had led a life of innocence; that for Thee I had kept my heart undefiled; that I had sanctified my soul.
But, alas! should death overtake me now I should wish for all this in vain; since, as yet, I possess no sign of holiness; but rather many marks of lukewarmness.
O compassionate and merciful Lord, bear with me a little while, that I may weep over my neglectfulness, and that I may do what I would desire to have performed, when death comes.
6. O my soul, soon time shall be no more. Let others do as they list: let us, whilst yet there is
time, devote ourselves to the work of our salvation.
Each one for himself. When death comes no one can take our place; nor can anyone, in our
stead, go into eternity. Whatever, therefore, others may say or do, let us place our everlasting destiny beyond all danger.
And what means, O Lord Jesus, can be better and safer, than a true love for Thee, disengaged from every thing besides; since this both cleanses us from our faults, and renders us holy?
If I love Thee truly, I will not fear death, nor aught of all that follows thereafter. Thy love will drive away fear: Thy love will enable me to approach Thee with confidence.
Thou, then, O Jesus, my love, be Thou henceforth my life. If Thou art my life, to die shall be my gain.
For love of Thee, let me daily die to sin, to the world, to myself, that I may live for Thee: let me become free from things created, and be made wholly pure, so that, when death opens the door, I may appear before Thee rejoicingly.
CHAPTER XXIV. OF JUDGMENT
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, so soon as thou hast gone into eternity, thou shalt find thyself before My Judgment-seat, to give an account of thy life, and to hear the decision of thy lot forever.
I Myself, the Searcher and Knower of hearts,-----to whom all power is given in Heaven and on earth,-----I will preside over this judgment.
All and everyone, whether they be willing or not, must make their appearance before Me, the Judge of the living and the dead, to receive the final sentence: nor is it possible thereafter to appeal to another tribunal.
What is just, I will judge: neither by gifts nor by promises will I be conciliated; nor shall the prayers of anyone change My Heart; neither will I be moved by repentance.
That day shall be a day of justice, not of mercy. Then shall each one receive according to his works.
2. What shall thy feeling be then, My Child, when thou shalt stand alone before the infinite Majesty, with naught except thy works alone, whether they be good or evil?
Then will the devil arise in judgment against thee, and accuse thee, ready to drag thee into Hell,
Thy Guardian Angel will stand up against thee, to bear witness to the truth of what is brought against thee.
Nay, even thy own conscience will accuse thee, and overwhelm thee with alarm, and dread, and terror.
Thus accused, with none to take thy defense, thou shalt wither away for fear; nor shalt thou dare to open thy mouth.
3. For all things, whether they be known or unknown, are in My sight; nor is there any thing hidden from My eyes.
Yet, searching, will search the heart, from the first dawn of its reason, even to the last breath of its life.
From it will I draw forth every evil, be it public or private: whether its own work, or that of another; whether great or small; whatever thou hast committed by thought, and word, and deed, and omission.
And not only of things evil, but also of those that are vain, or idle, or useless, will I exact an account.
Nay more, justice itself will I judge: I will weigh, in the scales of the sanctuary, even thy good deeds, and see what was wanting in them; either in the motive, in the manner of doing, or in the end intended, scrutinizing whether all was supernatural and perfect.
Then, many things, which, during life, appeared good, shall be found void and evil.
Then, the showy semblances of the virtues of the lukewarm, shall be seen as they are, and shall be cast aside, as dry stubble, fit only to be burnt.
And, searching still further, I will seek out the fruit of all the favors which I bestow, of all the graces, of all the means of salvation and perfection.
Yea, I will summon time itself against thee, and I will thoroughly investigate in what manner thou didst use it.
4. What shalt thou do then, O sinner, when even the just shall hardly be secure?
Above thee thou shalt descry a Heaven uncertain; below, the yawning abyss; at thy right, Angels as witnesses; at thy left, demons enraged; before thee, the supreme Arbiter of life and death.
5. Ah! My Child, now act with care, that thou mayst find safety then. Now it is easy, then it shall be impossible.
Follow now the invitings of My mercy, that thou mayst not then feel the severity of My justice.
Now withdraw thyself wholly from a depraved world, that then, with reprobate worldlings, thou
mayst not be forced to hear: Depart, ye accursed, into everlasting fire.
Now, untrammeled by aught of earth, follow thou the Saints, that with them, thou mayst be worthy then to hear: Come, ye Blessed of My Father, possess the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord! how much better it is, here to examine and judge myself strictly, that I may not be condemned before Thy Judgment-seat!
How much better, here to weigh well all my thoughts, and words, and deeds, that I may plainly see whether they are good, whether they are wholly according to Thy will, whether they shall be able to stand Thy searching, and deserve Thy approval!
At present there is still a remedy, then every effort shall prove unavailing: now mercy is still offered me, then justice will thunder forth: Give an account of every thing.
Lord, O Lord! if Thou wilt mark iniquities, who shall endure it? If Thou searchest also things indifferent, yea, even those that are good, who can stand before Thee?
O Jesus! although I am inwardly rejoiced that Thou, and none other, art to be my Judge, yet, when I reflect that I am obliged to give an account of matters so numerous and so dreadful, I tremble with fear.
For, on what can I rely, when even my good deeds must be mistrusted? On what shall I ground my hope? Behold! naught do I find, whereon to place a safe reliance, except on Thy Heart.
In this, therefore, will I hope: for, though It shall then be the Heart of my Judge, yet It will still remain the Heart of my Jesus, of One that loves them that love Him.
O my Jesus! be mindful of Thy word, in which Thou hast given me hope: for Thou hast said: Who loves Me, him also will I love.
If I love Thee, and am loved by Thee, then will I surely not fear to come and appear before Thee.
Lo, therefore, what I will do: I will love Thee, most lovely and most loving Jesus; I will love Thee with my whole heart, and love Thee all the days of my life.
CHAPTER XXV. OF HELL
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, so long as men live, I do, in some manner, love them all; the good I cherish with a Divine affection; the wicked I tolerate, because I await their conversion; and I go in search of those that are straying. My Heart, wherein I bear them all written, deviseth and uses a thousand ways and means to save all.
But, if there are any who disappoint the hope of My mercy, if they come to judgment laden with the guilt of grievous sin, confirmed in their obstinacy; I will blot them altogether out of My Heart, and, with the thunderbolts of My justice, I will hurl them into the depths of Hell.
2. There, they are bereft of Heaven and all its delights, and never shall they behold My countenance in the kingdom of My glory.
They endure an infinite punishment: because they have lost an infinite good.
Plunged in a shoreless lake of fire, they burn and suffer for evermore; and the smoke of their tortures mounts up unendingly.
All evils rush upon them. There, every sense of the body, every power of the soul, shall have its own and proper punishment.
In that, whereby each has sinned, shall he be specially tormented: as much as he has delighted in evil, so much is he tortured with pain.
There, the unclean are forever devoured with a burning heat, overwhelmed with intolerable stench gnawed by never-dying worms.
There, the wickedly rich are oppressed by extreme want; and suffer a most frightful hunger and thirst, nor shall they find relief forever.
There, they that wrongly sought after honors are infinitely debased, and despised and trodden underfoot by the very demons.
There, no interruption is felt in torments, not even for a moment; but they continue, and shall continue forever and ever.
There, everyone receives according to his deserts.
3. The place, the masters, the company, everything superadds to the punishments, in an inconceivable manner.
What can there be more terrible than the dungeons of Hell, where no ray of light, no order, but continued darkness and everlasting horror dwell?
What more cruel than the demons, who exhaust their arts to invent new tortures, and their strength to inflict them?
What more gloomy than that wretched throng of sufferers, howling endlessly, hopelessly? As many companions as there are suffering, so many new torments are experienced.
4. Behold! so shall he be punished, who is unwilling to serve Me, his God, his Creator, his Redeemer, his unwearied Benefactor.
As I live, every knee shall be bent to Me, and all nations shall serve Me.
Whoever does not willingly serve My Goodness in time, shall unwillingly serve My justice in eternity.
Be not amazed, My Child, at the punishment of the damned: they themselves are not astounded, but confess that they receive things worthy of their deeds.
No one goes to the torments of Hell against his will: all the reprobate rush thither of their own free choice; therefore, they complain of no one except themselves.
They confess, that I am infinitely bountiful, and acknowledge, that they are exceedingly wicked.
5. The gate of Hell is sin; the paths that lead to the same, whatever allures man to sin.
How many have perished by an unlawful desire for pleasure, by an inordinate love of riches, by a wicked pursuit of honors!
Long thou for naught, My Child, which may entangle thee in its toils, and afterwards hurl thee into the abyss.
Nor is it less dangerous, in all things to seek thyself. How many, alas! there are, who seem to begin well, but who, because they do not abandon sin, relapse at length-----are thrust into deeper evils, and, finally, are miserably lost!
To escape Hell, therefore, it is not enough to have begun well, but it is necessary to have persevered in well-doing.
Forsake sin and the world forever, lest thou be in the end forsaken by Me: forsake, moreover, thyself, lest by thy own weight, thou be dragged down to the lowest depths.
Do all, dearly beloved, endure all, that thou mayst avoid never-ending torments. All the labors and afflictions of this life, are as naught, when compared with the sufferings of Hell.
Here upon earth, in a short time, there shall be an end to labors and sorrows: but there is no being redeemed out of Hell.
6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord, our God! how awful is Thy justice in eternity: Nevertheless, Thy judgments are just, yea, acknowledged just by the reprobate themselves.
But, although nothing terrifies me more than Hell, yet, I know of nothing better adapted to awaken in my heart a love for Thee.
How, indeed, O Lord Jesus, can I think of the fire of Hell, without being inflamed with love for Thee?
What is there, that manifests, in a more sensible manner, the bounty of Thy Heart towards me?
What is there, that presses me more forcibly to love Thee in return?
Behold! if Thou shouldst free some reprobate soul from the torments of Hell, and if to her, thus restored to this life, Thou shouldst give most plentiful means, whereby she might not only save herself, in an easy manner, but also gain an everlasting throne of glory in Heaven: O how would that soul love Thee! Would she think that she could ever be able to show Thee sufficient thankfulness? Could she ever think of Hell, without wholly melting with love for Thee? O how pure would she keep her heart for Thee! how saint-like would she live for Thee!
Now, O Lord, I am indebted to Thee for much more than that soul should be. By preserving me from the pains of Hell, Thou didst far greater and better things for me. For, is it not a greater and
better blessing to be entirely kept from an evil, than to be released from it, after having undergone its pangs?
Yet, these things, so astonishing, so wonderful, so sweet, Thou didst do for me; not once, not twice, not thrice, but as often as I committed mortal sin.
Had I committed no mortal sin, my obligation should still be greater, my debt of gratitude should be increased, as well as my reasons for loving Thee. For I should be infinitely more obliged to Thee.
Had not the infinite goodness of Thy Heart preserved me by grace, how long ago might I have fallen into a sin deserving of Hell! For there is no sin which one commits, which another may not also commit, unless Thou prevent him by a special grace.
Whatever, then, I may have been, this O most sweet Jesus, this I owe, first of all, to Thee, that I'm not now in Hell, that I am still able to gain Heaven. Thou hast freed me from destruction; Thou hast freed me, according to the multitude and greatness of the goodness of Thy heart, from the depth of Hell, from the hands of them that lay in wait for mv soul.
Come ye, therefore, and I will tell you, all ye that fear the Lord, what great things He has done for my soul.
Should I, then, not love Thee, O Jesus, infinite Goodness! Should I not cherish Thee! yea, I love Thee, I love Thee above all things; and I will continue to love Thee thus, as long as I have being, forever and ever. Thou alone shalt possess all my affections: for Thee, O Jesus, will I live, for Thee, alone, to Whom I owe my all.
CHAPTER XXVI. OF HEAVEN
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor has the heart of man conceived, what things I have prepared for them, that love and serve Me faithfully to the end.
Who can portray for those who have not experienced it, what Heaven is,-----that blissful abode from which all ills are banished, in which there is an overflowing of all good things?
No labor shall be there, no sorrow, no temptation, no danger: all these things have passed away with mortal life; they have given place to perfect rest, to endless joy, to a peace that cannot be disturbed, to a security that none can take away.
2. There shall be neither cold, nor heat; neither inclemency, nor change of seasons; neither unpleasant days, nor gloomy nights. Those realms of bliss are illumined by My everlasting glory, softened by the Divine serenity of My countenance, enlivened by the infinite sweetness of My Heart so that everything smiles in the purest light, in the newness of a heavenly spring, for evermore.
Blessed are they that dwell therein! They neither hunger, nor thirst; nor are they subject to aught that is unpleasant; nor shall they be weakened in vigor forever.
There they are replenished and inebriated from the torrent of the delights of God; they flourish in perpetual youth, and, immortal, they shine brighter than the sun for all eternity.
3. My Child, there thou shalt behold Me as I am, and gaze upon Me face to face, in the most entrancing splendors of My Majesty.
There, by the intuition of My infinite perfections, thou shalt be rapt with admiration, and overflow with bliss; in the excess of thy joy thou shalt, of thy own accord, burst forth in boundless praises, and exaltation of My most lovely Attributes.
Then also thou shalt understand the mysteries of faith, and the secrets of nature.
All the science of philosophers is but ignorance, when compared with the knowledge possessed by
the least of the Elect. Then shalt thou view all the display of My everlasting kingdom, its unbounded treasures, its ever-enduring dignities.
At the contemplation of a loveliness so varied, and so great, thou shalt be inflamed with an ineffable love for Me.
4. Then, My Child, then, wilt thou love Me, in a perfect manner, without any division of thy affections, without remissness, without end.
Now, thou art sometimes in trouble, because thou knowest not whether thou art worthy of love or of hatred: then, to thy unutterable joy, thou shalt know with certainty, that thou lovest Me, and wilt love Me forever; and that, in return, thou art loved, and shalt be loved by Me, throughout eternity.
Then shalt thou repose on My Heart, with perfect security; and thou shalt taste how delightful it is, to love Me, and to melt away in My love.
Thou shalt be inebriated with an exceeding great sweetness, and rapt above thyself; thou shalt swim in an ocean of love, with the Angels and the Saints amid jubilant hymns of love, for evermore.
Thus shalt thou spend ages, and while away eterity, ever wishing, and ever longing, to love; and, at the same time, ever sated, and ever blissful, with love.
5. Then, at last, Child, shalt thou possess Me, and enjoy Me forever: which is the completing of beatitude.
Thou shalt be wholly Mine, and I will be wholly thine: thou shalt enjoy Me, in a manner ever new, ever most delightful.
In Me thou shalt possess every good, and have whatever thou canst wish or desire.
Let thy mind conceive, if possible, how beautiful, how wonderful, how charming, all things are there: how rapturous to behold the glory and exquisite adornment of the heavens, to be present among the choirs of the Angels, to exult unceasingly with the Saints, to contemplate and love the most Blessed Virgin, the glorious Queen of the heavenly kingdom; and, in return, to attract Her sweet looks, and gain Her love.
What delightful dwellings, O My Child! what pleasant companionship! what charming beatitude and all to endure forever and ever!
Behold, My Child, behold the exceeding great reward of those that serve Me with their whole heart. Can the world give such things? Or even promise them?
Lift up thy eyes, therefore, and see what awaits thee, if thou art faithful to Me; even to the end.
Be of good cheer, My Child; and as much as thou art able, with the Divine grace and thy own co-operation, cleanse thy heart and preserve it pure. For nothing defiled, be it ever so little, shall enter into Heaven.
But the purer thou art here, the more glorious shalt thou be there; and the nearer to Me, and the dearer to My Heart.
6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Jesus, how blessed are they, that dwell in Heaven with Thee!
O happy mortals they, who serve Thee with a clean heart! What ineffable beatitude shall they enjoy in eternity! yea, who is more happy than they, even in time!
O bliss-creating service of Jesus, which gains such a reward! Thou renderest easy and pleasant
all things, that lead to so great a glory and blessedness.
O most sweet Jesus, bid me do, bid me suffer, for Thy sake, whatever Thou wilt: willingly and gladly do I embrace everything, that I may please Thee in time, and possess Thee in eternity.
By Thy most Sacred Heart, do I entreat Thee, lead me safe, through whatever way Thou mayst choose, into Thy kingdom; that, with the Angels and Saints, I may behold Thee, love Thee, enjoy Thee, for evermore. Amen.