THE SECOND BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR THE IMITATION OF THE MOST
SACRED HEART OF JESUS IN HIS ACTIVE LIFE
CHAPTER I. HOW MUCH WE SHOULD ESTEEM AND CHERISH SANCTIFYING GRACE
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, do not disregard grace, but carefully preserve so sacred a deposit, which has been entrusted to thee.
For this is thy treasure, this thy glory, this thy happiness, this thy every good.
This informs thee, the image of God, and renders thee alike to Him.
Know, then, thy dignity, O man, who, by sanctifying grace, art raised even to the likeness of God, and becomest more exalted than the whole world, so that naught of earth can be compared to thee.
What is the splendor of the stars? What the beauty of all creatures, when placed in comparison with the excellence of a soul adorned with Divine grace, and thus assimilated to God Himself?
Lift up thyself, therefore, and, mindful of thy dignity, do not defile nor debase thyself.
2. God adopts thee, resplendent with this grace not simply as His child, but as the child of His love and predilection.
Thus, what I possess by nature, thou receivest by adoption; so that thou art not only called, but art in very truth, a child of God.
Understand, if thou art able, what it is, to be a child of God: what it is, to be loved and cherished by such a Father.
In the world, children esteem themselves happy, and glory in having parents, who are wise, good, influential-----or wealthy, great, illustrious.
But what are the distinctions of all the parents of this earth, when compared with the Attributes of God?
With how much more reason, therefore, shouldst thou glory and rejoice in having for thy Father, God Himself, the Lord of Heaven and earth!
Ponder, then, with a true judgment the excellence of this Divine adoption. For, when formerly thou wast a castaway, reduced in the lowest depth of degradation, thou becamest, by sanctifying grace, from bond, free; from one disowned, the acknowledged child of God; that, thus ennobled, thou mayst rejoice in the affluence of the good things of the Lord.
Blessed is he who knows the price of sanctifying grace, whereby he was raised to be a child of God; and who so esteems this, the highest nobility, that on no account, he shows himself degenerate, but ever continues a child worthy of such a Father!
3. If, by grace, thou art a child, by the same thou art also made an heir,-----even the heir of God, and co-heir with Me.
Wherefore, My Child, the everlasting kingdom, which is thine by right of nature, becomes thine in virtue of sanctifying grace.
When thou lookest up to Heaven, and viewest, in spirit, the glory, the beatitude, and all the good things of eternity, say to thyself: Behold my possessions, behold my inheritance, if I preserve the title of grace.
My merits obtained, that this grace should confer upon thee a settled right to the possessions of Heaven; of which none, except thyself, can deprive thee.
God's promise remains firm; He is faithful to His word: but, if thou losest sanctifying grace, thou throwest aside thy right, and becomest disinherited.
4. Grace, My Child,-----which constitutes thee an heir of the heavenly kingdom,-----makes thee also a companion of the Angels, a brother of the Saints.
If thou art glad when thou enjoyest the intercourse of distinguished companions, mortal men though they be, and subject to change; if thou art delighted at having brothers according to the flesh, although their number divides and lessens thy earthly inheritance: how great must be thy joy that, by grace, thou hast the blessed Angels for companions, the chosen Saints of God for brothers,-----whose countless number neither divides nor lessens thy celestial inheritance, but, on the contrary, increases and multiplies the same!
And what brothers, too, My Child! how innumerable, how illustrious, how mighty, how good!
They are thy elder brothers: celebrated for their triumphs, crowned with the glory of beatitude, secure of themselves, solicitous for thee; they love thee in truth, encourage thee by their example, help thee by their prayers, invite thee by their rewards.
Blissful grace, which makes thee the brother of such heroes! Oh, My Child, would that thou didst fully understand this!
5. Moreover, by an effect of sanctifying grace, thou mayst, even in this life, enjoy true happiness. This grace is the foundation of interior peace: without it, there is no real peace: with it, an undisturbed calm pervades the soul.
Who, that resists sanctifying grace, has ever enjoyed peace? And what happiness can there exist, where there is no peace?
If thou rejoicest in the peace of grace, thou mayst justly and safely be glad amid prosperity, and thou canst easily and usefully find solace in adversity.
Preserve thyself in grace, and thou shalt always be enabled to possess peace and happiness. Witness all the Saints: yea, also they who, when once converted, kept carefully within themselves the grace of God. When they had this, and compared their present feelings with those of their former life, taught by experience, they could say to Me: Better is one day in Thy courts, O Lord, than thousands in the dwellings of sinners.
6. Nay more, My Child, if thou livest in sanctifying grace. My kingdom is within thee; so that repose and reign in thy heart as on My throne.
Now, My kingdom consists in the tranquilly and joy of the Holy Ghost, Who is a Spirit of charity and sanctification.
In this kingdom I hold sway, not, as a Lord ruling My subjects, but as a Father training My Child, whom I design to reign with Me.
So long, therefore, as thou continuest under this rule of grace, I guide thee specially by My Wisdom, I protect thee by My power, I attend and encompass thee by My love.
Neither hast thou aught to fear, My Child, for this kingdom so governed, so protected, so cherished; unless, indeed, thyself becomest its betrayer.
If thou art faithful, it shall, doubtless, stand firm and endure for evermore: nor can all its enemies combined overthrow, or even weaken the same.
How sweet, how consoling is this thought, O My Child! How well suited to make thee esteem sanctifying grace above everything!
7. See now, My Child, how many, and what great possessions thou hast in this one good alone!
Does not this one good surpass, in excellence, all the riches of this world?
Pray, Child, that thou mayst ever understand better, and more perfectly the value of grace, and prize it in reality as highly as thou shouldst do.
If thou dost understand and appreciate it rightly, thou wilt deem it little, or certainly not too much, to sacrifice for its preservation not only fortune, fame, and all that is dear and pleasing, but even health, and, if it were necessary, life itself.
Did not My holy Martyrs, and all My sainted heroes,-----among whom thou beholdest so many children and tender Virgins,-----prize it thus? Did not thousands among them, when it was left to their choice, prefer to sacrifice, amid torments, all the blessings of life, yea, life itself, rather than lose the same, for any possession, however great, that was offered?
Thou, therefore, the child of such heroes, use thy every effort, constant watchfulness, and thy greatest care, to preserve grace, the most precious of all gifts; the more so, as the most powerful exertions of thy enemies are directed to despoil thee, and thus to accomplish thy destruction.
For the rest, dearly beloved, be thou strengthened in grace: increase in the same, and, by acts of true virtue, advance thou, even unto perfection.
Didst thou understand all these things, My Child?
8. The Voice of the Disciple.-----Yea, Lord. Would that I had understood all this before! Would I not then, after I had lost Thy grace, have wept and moaned more dolefully than Esau, when he had forfeited his birthright? For greater, beyond comparison, was my loss, and sustained too, for a far baser object.
Oh! had I understood all this, would I, for aught here below, have cast away so great a treasure?
Lord Jesus, would that I had never lost this greatest of all possessions! One thing, however, brings me solace, it is not yet too late; I may still enjoy the privileges of Thy grace, and thereby sanctify myself.
Thanks to thee, most sweet Jesus, for that Thou hast showed so great a mercy to me, so unworthy. The ineffable kindness of Thy Heart, I will not forget forever.
O Jesus! hereafter, grant me sooner to die than to lose Thy grace. By Thy most Sacred Heart, I beg and entreat Thee, hearken graciously to my petition.
Let others seek after silver and gold, honor and distinction, the joys of this world and its consolations: taught by Thee, O Lord, this alone do I desire above all else, to preserve Thy grace, and to increase therein all the days of my life.
CHAPTER II. WHY THE SON OF GOD WISHED TO BECOME INCARNATE
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, God alone it good. He is the supreme Goodness, supreme Wisdom, supreme Power, supreme Perfection.
What, then, can be better, or more perfect, than to follow and imitate God?
But, as God falls not under the senses, and men are inclined to sensible things, it was thought befitting that I, a Divine Person, should become man: that thus I might unvail to them an external form to captivate their senses, and induce them, in a more easy and pleasing manner, to imitate God.
The first men aspired after lofty things: they desired and endeavored to be assimilated to God, that, like gods, they might know good and evil, and they fell: they lost the good which they knew, and suffered the evil which they knew not.
But I wished to present Myself before men in such a form, that, without presumption, without danger, they might safely desire so to render themselves like unto God, as to be freed from evil, and to acquire what is good.
2. First of all, men were to be redeemed; and when their debts had been canceled, they were to be made free.
Heavy were those debts which weighed upon them. So greatly had they offended the Divine Majesty, that no mere creature, but God alone, having become man, could fully satisfy the Divine justice, and truly repair the honor of the Divine Majesty.
Miserable slaves of Hell, they lay cast down, and groaning, without having in themselves any means of bettering their condition. I pitied the wretched multitude; and came among them, with a Heart overflowing with mercy, to redeem them, and lead them to a sweet and holy freedom.
3. Heaven had been closed by sin, and, among created beings, whether in Heaven or upon earth, there was none able to open it again; had not I come down and unlocked it, no mortal could ever have entered Heaven.
Before My coming, God was indeed known in Judea, where some few served Him worthily; but only through the grace given to men in view of My future coming. Among the Nations, how very small was the number of those, who, co-operating with this grace, feared God, practiced justice, and were pleasing to Him!
In how great a darkness were the greater part of them heedlessly groping! In how deep, and how measureless an abyss of wickedness were they buried!
Nay more, even now,-----after the work of Redemption has been fulfilled,-----what kind of life do many men lead, in spite of the countless means of salvation! Through their own fault, ignorant or forgetful of Me, they roam in blindness, and wickedly rush to destruction.
What, then, should have become of the human race, unless I, the Word, had been made flesh? None could have attained to God, to supernatural beatitude.
But, by assuming flesh, I united in Myself the utmost degree of Divine greatness to the utmost of human lowliness, in such a manner, that, whosoever was willing, could, through Me, reach God and supernatural beatitude.
4. I came to glorify God, My Father; to make known to men His name and His love.
Of old the name of God, was the holy and dread Name of the Lord: now, the Name of God, is the holy and sweet Name of a Father.
The Old Law, was a Law of fear: the New, is a Law of love. God so loved men, that He gave His only-begotten Son.
And I, through love for My Father and for men, was incarnated by the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of love.
The whole work of the Incarnation, is, therefore, a work of love, but of a gratuitous love, of an infinite love.
5. I came from Heaven, and I return to Heaven, pointing out to all the way that leads thither, that where I am, they also may be who follow Me in this way.
I am the truth: I appeared shining in the darkness of the world, to enlighten every man that comes into this world, that everyone might surely and safely guide his steps on the journey.
I am the life: for this I came into the world, that they who were dead might have life, and have it more abundantly; namely, the life of grace on their way, and the life of glory in their heavenly country.
Yet, behold! even after man was born again to the life of grace, freed from the slavery of death; and after he had been taught by Me the way to his true country, weak and unstrengthened as he was he could not have been able to follow Me.
Great were his infirmities, My Child, great his faintness: but greater was the all-powerful Physician, greater the Divine remedy, which heals every infirmity, every faintness.
This remedy is manifold grace, the price of My sufferings, the gift of My Heart; which induces every man to long for health; strengthens him when healed, and helps him to follow Me.
When I came upon earth, I might have run My career more swiftly than a giant. But the multitude of those that were suffering so moved My Heart, that, loitering in their midst, I seemed, in some manner, to grow weak with them; and, going before them, I so smoothed the roughness of the way, so helped and cheered up every one, that, were they but willing, they could easily and joyously follow My footprints towards the kingdom of Heaven.
6. See now, My Child, how I have loved thee. These things I did for all in general, and for every one in particular as well: therefore, also for thee as if thou wert alone in the world, wretched and forsaken: and, as if I had come down from Heaven, to seek thee, to redeem thee, to save thee alone.
Wherefore, since I came down in this manner that I might be thy guide to My everlasting kingdom, follow thou Me.
In whatsoever condition, in whatsoever state thou mayst be, under all circumstances, propose to thyself My life, as the sure and safe way to Heaven.
Neither shouldst thou imagine that My outer life only is such, because My inner life is the principal.
My interior is My Heart: therein is found all glory: therein resides the principle of all virtues.
My Child, be not like the Jews, who gazed upon My outward appearance only, and considered not the feelings and dispositions of My Heart.
Do thou enter into the interior of My Heart: carefully examine the same, study It, be wholly busied therewith.
7. If thou feelest grateful towards Me, if thou lovest Me in return, thou wilt diligently search after whatever may be pleasing to My Heart, and thou wilt do it faithfully.
But thou must seek this in prayer, ask it by love, embrace it by love, perform it with love.
My Child, prayer is the key of Heaven: nay more, prayer is the key of My Heart. With this
key open thou and enjoy all the treasures of My Heart.
8. The Voice of the Disciple.-----Everlasting thanks to Thee, Lord God, Creator and Redeemer of mankind, for Thy gratuitous and exceedingly great charity, whereby Thou didst create us men, in so wonderful a manner, and didst restore us still more wonderfully.
O Christ Jesus! Who, unutterably existing from eternity, as the Son of God, through an excess of Thy love for us, wast willing to become the Son of man; who will not love Thee in return? Who will not cling inseparably to Thee? Who will not live solely for Thee, to Whom he owes his all?
O delightful consolation! O wonderful sweetness! to behold the Son of God, the Son of a Virgin!
I adore thee, O Jesus, Son of the living God, Thee made flesh of Mary! I hope in Thee, O infinite goodness! I love Thee with my whole heart, O most loving and most lovable love! Thou art my way: Thou, my truth: Thou, my life.
CHAPTER III. THAT OUR HEART MUST BE FULLY DEVOTED TO GOD
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, the first act of My Heart, after the Incarnation, was an act of love, whereby I devoted Myself completely to My heavenly Father.
There was in Me nothing which I did not consecrate with all My mind to My Father: nor was there aught in the Will of My Father, which I did not embrace with My whole Heart.
Even then did I practically say, in My inmost Heart: Behold! My Father, I come as the victim of Thy Will: at the head of the book of life it is written of Me, that I would do Thy Will: behold I have willed it, and the law of Thy good pleasure is in the midst of My Heart.
At the first moment of My life, My Father placed before Me all the toils and hardships, all the humiliations and sorrows, all I was to do and to suffer, even to the last breath of My life.
With a willing and perfectly devoted Heart, I received all and each of them, according to My Father's good pleasure:
And this inward disposition of My Heart, I cherished every moment of My life; by this was I ever pressed onward, so that I always did whatsoever was pleasing to My Father.
2. Behold, My Child, the model of a true devotion, that, taught by it, at the very beginning of thy career, in the way of virtue, thou mayst, in like manner, devote thyself with thy whole heart.
Nothing, perhaps, is of so much importance, in the spiritual life, as a true and entire devotion of heart. For, a heart that is not altogether devoted to Me proves that it lacks perfect purity.
If thou dealest with Me in a sparing manner, I will also deal with thee sparingly: but, if thou art generous toward Me, I will, in return, be generous toward thee, and I will ever excel thee in generosity.
If, with a liberal heart, thou devote thyself, and all thou hast, to Me, so as to em brace effectually My good pleasure in all things; I Myself will lead thee, safely and happily, through whatsoever may befall thee; I will even, in some manner, be obliged to save thee.
3. This perfect self-devotedness has ever been the beginning of holiness in all My Elect.
Those noble and generous souls deemed the greatest sacrifices of life as nothing; so that they consecrated and wholly devoted to Me whatsoever they possessed, whatsoever they were.
Therefore, too, did I show to them such liberality and bountifulness, that often, even during this mortal life,-----on account of the exceeding sweetness of consolation,-----they burst into tears, and whilst on earth, enjoyed a foretaste of that bliss, wherewith they were hereafter to be inebriated in Heaven.
Yet now very many of those that make profession of a great love of piety, are willing to be devoted, but only in things, and under circumstances, which are pleasing to them.
These are assuredly rather devoted to themselves than to Me. Wherefore, they continue to be slaves of self-love, and remain miserable and devoid of inward happiness; neither do they become disposed to the Divine union.
Thou, My Child, if thou wilt be truly free and happy, withdraw thy heart from every object except Myself; and give all thy affections to Me alone.
If thou canst keep thy heart perfectly devoted to Me, thou shalt be able to continue calm and undisturbed under all circumstances. For, every agitation of mind arises, not from passing events, but from a heart ill-inclined toward God's good pleasure.
And if thou desirest to attain to an intimate union with Me, thou must be free from all creatures, and wholly devoted to Me, in all things.
4. My Child, let not thy devotion be like that of many others, which is wholly exterior, satisfied with outward things alone, and, therefore, merely a semblance of devotion, not devotion itself. Let thy devotion be truly interior, which has its principle in a heart so disposed, that, with the Divine grace, thou art ready to resign thyself, unconditionally, to all My wishes, and to sacrifice all thou hast to serve Me.
Thy devotion, however, must pass over to outward things, since thou art a man, and not an Angel. And, as thou possessest a body and a soul, both My gifts, thou must with both honor Me and sanctify thyself. But let the things, which are outwardly seen in thee, overflow, as it were, from the abundance of the heart: thus shall thy devotion be solid, and thou shalt be a true follower of My Heart.
5. This devotion, My Child, is the effect of supernatural grace, which, enlightening the intellect, and moving the will, makes a person ready to comply, willingly, with everything that belongs to the service of God. To this devotion thou shalt never attain by any natural means, because it is itself supernatural, and is practiced by supernatural assistance. Unless, therefore, thou art aided by Divine grace, thou shalt labor in vain; even shouldst thou declare thyself devoted to Me, and appear so in thy own estimation. Pray, then, that thou mayst receive plentiful grace, and obtain the spirit of devotion. Thou shalt obtain it, if thou prayest well. All things are promised to prayer.
With the aid of grace, and the co-operation of thy own endeavors, true devotion,-----which to many, guided by self-love, is known by name only or appears a burden,-----shall be easy and sweet to thee.
Whether thou hast sensible consolations or not, thou wilt continue, in peace and with fruit, to transact thy affairs, to fulfill thy duties, and to be faithful to thy spiritual practices.
Without anxiety and solicitude, thou wilt repose in the arms of My Providence, as an infant on the bosom of its mother: and thou shalt be calm and contented in the various ways, through which I may lead thee to life everlasting.
6. The Voice of the Disciple.-----Lord Jesus, Who for my salvation, didst consume Thyself, and, as an evidence of Thy love, didst leave me Thy Heart, delivered up for love of me: grant me, I beseech Thee, the grace of a perfect devotion, that everything, except Thyself, being withdrawn from my heart, through love of Thee, I may become wholly Thine.
Relying upon the aid of Thy grace, which I humbly implore, I offer myself, with all my heart, to Thee, that I may be thoroughly devoted to Thee, to Thy service, and Thy interests.
O sweetest Jesus! receive me, all I am, and all I possess, as given and consecrated to Thee: grant me the spirit of holy devotion, that it may fill my heart with its unction; make piety tasteful to me, foster my love for Thee, render prayer sweet to me, and dispose me rightly for action.
Enlivened by it, I will continue ever joyous and constant in Thy service; I will gently draw my neighbor to Thee, and gladden the Angels and Saints themselves; yea, what is more excellent than all, I will rejoice Thy Heart, and fill It with delights.
CHAPTER IV. THAT WE MUST BE TAUGHT BY THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
1. The voice of the Disciple.-----Come ye and see, all ye creatures! wonder and be astonished: Behold! God bowed the heavens, and came down, and lo! He dwells with us!
O infant God! O prodigy of love! O delight of the Angels, who came from Heaven, to gaze upon Thee reclining in this manger!
O Jesus, Son of God, born of a Virgin! how lovely! how sweet to me art Thou, thus become an Infant!
Wonderful indeed, in the Majesty of Thy Divinity: more wonderful, in the loveliness of Thy littleness.
Supremely worthy of love, in the boundlessness of Thy Divine perfections: ravishing all hearts by the excess of Thy childhood's sweetness.
Who, O infinite goodness! can here be satiated with gazing upon Thee, with loving Thee, with inebriating himself with the delightfulness of Thy Heart's love!
How sweet art Thou! O my Jesus! how sweet art Thou, besides what lies hidden within! what then must be Thy inner Spirit? A most exquisite one, assuredly, and sweet above honey.
2. The voice of Jesus.-----Yea, My Child, it is the Spirit of My Heart, that produces, that quickens these wonderful, these most delightful things.
This Spirit of Mine,-----that, by love, drew Me from the bosom of the Father into the bosom of the Virgin; and that, with so much sweetness, brought Me, the Only-begotten of the Father, upon earth,-----this Spirit ever pervades, directs, and leads My Heart, that whithersoever the impulse of the Spirit is, thither It may go.
The fullness of this Spirit dwells in My Heart: for, Whom God has sent, to Him He does not give the Spirit by measure.
Upon My Heart that Spirit reposes, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and fortitude, the Spirit of knowledge and piety, the Spirit of the fear of God, the Spirit of grace and prayer, the Spirit of love.
Such is the Spirit of My Heart; a supernatural, Divine Spirit, Who is charity, a love embracing all virtues.
This Spirit of My Heart, is love breathing love; gently and strongly leading, He directs to things perfect, moves to make sacrifices, allures to deeds heroic.
3. Blessed is he, My Child, who possesses the Divine Spirit of My Heart, and allows himself to be guided, in all things, by the same! For they who are impelled by the Spirit of God, the same are the sons of God.
Not appearance, nor profession, but the Spirit makes thee a true Disciple of My Heart.
What will all else avail thee, if thou dost not possess this Spirit? He that has not My Spirit, is not of Mine.
Without My Spirit, the things which I do, shall have no meaning for thee; thou wilt not rightly understand what I teach; nor wilt thou find a hearty relish, for what I enjoin. Thou canst know, understand, and enjoy the things, which are Mine, only insomuch as thou shalt be possessed of My Spirit.
If thou art endowed with My Spirit, My judgments shall be thy judgments: My sentiments, thy sentiments: the life of My Heart, the life of thy heart.
In this Spirit, every true Disciple of My Heart, views all things: by this alone, he judges of all things: by this alone, he acts, and is impelled.
Be, then, possessed of the Spirit of My Heart, and do whatsoever thou wilt: this Spirit will guide thee safely, and protect thee in all things.
4. This, My Spirit, has influenced all the Saints: Its unction taught them, Its virtues strengthened them, Its holiness shaped them.
See, what It taught the Apostles and Martyrs, the Confessors and Virgins: behold, to what degree It strengthened them: see how It formed them, so that, trampling upon the whole world, and forsaking themselves, some went to the tortures of death, as if they were hastening to a glorious triumph; others endeavored to equal the Angels themselves; others again, trod blamelessly the common walks of life: but all followed Me with cheerfulness, and kept themselves to the end, in My company, amid all the vicissitudes of earth.
What is there, which the Saints, incited by My Spirit, did not undertake? What did they not do, that, whilst sanctifying themselves, they might ever love and glorify Me, more and more, and, as far as they were able, bring all men to love and glorify Me?
These were perfect Disciples of My Heart; filled with My holy Spirit, they drew thence all their thoughts, regulated all their words, directed all their works, and shaped their whole life.
5. My Child, if thou desirest to learn this Spirit of My Heart, study My life, and meditate devotedly thereon; enter into the interior of My Heart, and affectionately examine and weigh Its sentiments: by Its fruits thou shalt know the same everywhere.
Dost thou not find My Spirit working in all, and in every mystery of My life?
What will it avail to know My Spirit, unless thou receivest of Its fullness? Pray then, My Child, pray fervently, that thou mayst be quickened by It, or obtain an increase of Its quickening.
If thou prayest, as it behooves thee, thou wilt doubtless receive It: for I have promised to give My good Spirit to them that ask.
The better, and the more thou prayest, the more thou shalt receive of the same, the more perfectly thou shalt know It, and the more easily thou shalt follow its guidance.
6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Jesus! of the fullness of Whose Spirit, Thy Disciples so receive, as to live thereby, send, I beseech Thee, the Spirit of Thy Heart into my heart, that It may quicken and guide me in all and through all.
Neither, as Eliseus asked Elias, do I beg that Thy twofold Spirit may dwell in me, since my little heart cannot even contain Thy single one; but I entreat Thee, replenish me wholly with Thy Spirit, expel from me forever the spirit of the world, and the spirit of self.
Grant that, in Thy Spirit, my heart may rightly relish that wherein Thy Heart delights; understand whatever It teaches; taste in a manner affective, as well as effective, whatever It does.
Grant me to live, hereafter, by Thy Spirit, not simply the life of nature, but of grace; not simply a human life, but one, in some manner, god-like, the life of Thy Spirit.