THE SECOND BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR THE IMITATION OF THE MOST
SACRED HEART OF JESUS IN HIS ACTIVE LIFE
CHAPTER V. THAT OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS,
WHILST AN INFANT WE MUST LEARN HUMILITY
1. The voice of the Disciple.-----How, O Jesus! art Thou born for us a Child, and given to us an Infant! Art not Thou Who Art: is not this Thy name forevermore?
Who shall declare Thy generation! Behold! Thou art from eternity to eternity.
Who shall speak Thy power, or make known Thy other perfections? Through Thee, all things were made: by Thee, all are ruled: Thou fillest the heavens and the earth: and lo! in what a state do I behold Thee here!
O prodigy! O miracle! God, behold! the infinite God, lies here an Infant, in this cave!
He emptied Himself, having become a Child, an exile in the midst of humiliations, unknown and contented.
How, O most sweet Jesus, how, I beseech Thee, wast Thou born a Babe, and given us as a Child?
2. The voice of the Jesus.-----My Child, I came to save that which we lost. So great was the fall of the human race that its restoration demanded such an humiliation of the Son of God.
Man had sunk into the abyss of pride: in lowliness I came down, and entered the abyss, to snatch him thence.
Before I came into the world, pride had so far darkened and corrupted the minds of nations, that they not only did not acknowledge humility as a virtue; but, on the contrary, deemed it weakness of soul, and were shocked thereat.
For when they knew God, Whose light is placed as a seal upon the human heart, they glorified Him not as God; they became vain in their thoughts and their foolish heart was darkened: they grew corrupt and abominable in their desires. Thus, well-nigh all flesh had corrupted its way.
What could be better, and more effective, to free the world from so great and baneful an error, than the example of a God, supremely wise and perfect, abasing Himself unto emptiness, thus confounding all human pride, and refuting forever its false reasonings and pretenses.
3. Pride, My Child, has ever been and will continue to be the source of all evils; but humility is the principle of all good things.
Truth begets humility, which is the virtue of virtues, and charity gives it life and form.
First of all, then, thoroughly know thyself and God, that thou mayst attribute to God the things which are of God, and to thyself what is thy own.
Take care, therefore, My Child, to understand what thou art of thyself. What art thou of thyself? What, except a mere nothing, out of which God created thee? This nothingness is thine own, but the being which thou art, is of God.
If thou thinkest that thou art something, whereas, of thyself, thou art nothing, thou deceivest, thou misleadest thyself.
What dost thou possess of thyself, by nature or by grace? In the order of nature, thou hast, indeed, the powers of the soul, the senses of the body, the gifts of the mind, the outward qualities of person. But whence did all these things, of what kind soever they be, come to thee? Whose are they? Take away that which God made, and gave to thee, and what remains, except nothingness? This latter again, is thine own, the former is of God.
In giving thee these things, He gave them for an end, that they might use them for His glory, and for thy salvation. If thou hast ever made use of all and every one of them, for that end, thou hast done what thou wast obliged to do. If, at any time, thou hast made an ill use of them, behold! beside thy nothingness, thou must claim also as thine own, ungratefulness, frowardness, and the mis-spending of God's favors.
Now, what art thou in the order of grace? My Child, is not this a fathomless abyss? It is certain that of thyself, without the help of grace, thou possessest nothing which can promote thy salvation; thou canst do nothing to save thyself. Whatsoever, therefore, has hast of the supernatural order; what ever virtues, what ever merits, thou mayst possess; all these are the effects of grace, without which they could not have even been begun, much less brought to perfection. If, then, God rewards these things in thee, He does but crown His Own gifts.
It is, indeed, true, My Child, that to acquire these things thou didst co-operate with grace. But this very co-operation, if duly considered, what does it disclose? It is evident, by faith, that thou must one day give a strict account of every grace. For, thou art obliged to cause each grace to produce its fruit by thy co-operation.
Did not this consideration fill the very Saints with the lowliest sentiments? What thoughts, then, must it needs force upon thee, who so often ill co-operatest with grace, nay, even slightest it?
If thou art unable to count the shortcomings of thy co-operation with grace, ponder the number and magnitude of the debts thou hats contracted, by the neglect or ill use of the gifts of God, in addition to thine own nothingness, and powerlessness, in the order of grace.
My Child, if thou rightly considerest the obligation of co-operating with God's grace, and of making a proper use of His gifts, even of those in the natural order; thou wilt understand, as the Saints understood it, that the more and the greater the favors thou didst receive, the greater reason thou hast for deeply humbling thyself.
4. But there are things worse and more humiliating hidden from the sight. See and examine thy manifold miseries, offenses, and sins: and weigh well, what thou hast justly deserved thereby.
Hadst thou received what is rightly due thee, shouldst thou not long since have felt the contempt of all the inhabitants of Heaven, of earth, and of Hell, and suffered everlasting degradation?
And if, perhaps, thou hast done naught on account of which thou deservest to be cast away, thou hast no cause to be elated. For, that thou wast thus kept from grievous faults, is not thy own, but chiefly the work of grace.
Nay more, by one venial transgression, committed against the infinite Majesty of God, thou didst deserve greater humiliations than the world can inflict upon thee.
5. What, then, My Child, what art thou? What compared with all men? Nothing more than a drop of water compared with all the oceans. And what are all men viewed in connection with all the myriads of Angels? Assuredly less than this earth is to the boundless heavens. And what are all the Angels in comparison with God Himself? Behold! they are as if they were not; because the difference is infinite. Now, compared with the infinite God, what art thou, a puny being, dwelling in a little corner of this globe?
What art thou, in truth, My Child, or what dost thou possess, to make thee proud? Yea, what hast thou for which thou shouldst not humble thyself?
I do not say these things to cause thee to blush, but to give thee warning, thee, well-beloved Child of My Heart, lest, misled by pride, thou fall away and perish.
6. To God alone be honor and glory, from every creature. He alone is truly and exceedingly worthy to receive empire, and power, and benediction, and praise, and supreme worship, forever and ever.
All the perfections seen in creatures, how excellent soever they may appear, are only darksome
rays of God's perfections, which are every way absolute and infinite.
Even had God not so commanded, His boundless perfections should have to be acknowledged and honored by every reason-gifted being.
Nay more, His Own glory is so essentially to be referred to God, that He Himself cannot be indifferent in its regard: for He alone is worthy of Himself.
7. Precious, My Child, is the knowledge of God and of thyself, for it reveals a great truth, most fit to humble thee. Yet this knowledge itself is not humility, since virtue consists not in knowledge but in affection.
Neither does the virtue of humility consist in humiliation, but rather in the love of humiliation. For, there is no virtue, unless there be affection, or motion of a good will.
How many there are who humble themselves, or are humbled by others, and yet are not humble! How many do outwardly give signs of humility, and yet keep pride within themselves.
In order that humility be a virtue, such as that of My Disciples ought to be, and that self-abasement be an act of such a virtue, it must receive its life and form from charity, or supernatural affection.
The virtue of humility is that supernatural affection which inclines and moves thee, always so to tend to thy proper place, that thou givest to God the things which belong to God, thanksgiving, honor, glory; and ascribest to thyself whatsoever is thine, nothingness and unworthiness of every kind.
Now, which is thy own proper place? O My Child, how deep, how terrible is that place which thou hast deserved! But see the love of My Heart! To console thee, to exalt thee, I became man, humbled Myself in thy stead, and assigned thee a better and more honorable place. Since that time, thy place is with Me.
But where shalt thou be with Me? Where shalt thou find Me? An Infant in the manger, exiled and unknown in Egypt, hidden at Nazareth, toiling and suffering in public, occupying the last place, and dying therein.
8. With Me, Child, thou shalt be far from pride, which is hateful to God and men, begets every sin, corrupts every virtue, despoils of merits, heaps up punishments, despises the example of My Heart, follows the footsteps of the devil.
Happy lowliness! blissful virtue, which makes thee find favor with God and men! For, whilst God resists the proud, He gives His grace to the lowly; and, whilst the proud themselves look down upon the proud, they admire the humble.
Humility is the first of virtues: no virtue is acquired without it. Humility produces all other virtues, nourishes them when produced, and preserves them safe and sound.
A noble virtue is humility, which makes man truly generous and great-souled. By its means he overcomes, not only what is more arduous, but he even conquers himself.
Whilst the proud man, with his narrow heart, fettered by the dread of humiliation, which may, perhaps, befall him, struggles with himself, shrinking back at one time, hesitating at another, whether or not to assail the difficulty placed before him; tile humble one, with a great and expanded heart, has already subdued himself, overcome the difficulty. and marches onward rejoicingly.
It is the virtue that inspires courage-----disposes the soul for the greatest deeds. For the humble man, overlooking himself, and relying upon God, exchanges his own strength, and puts on the strength of God, upon Whom he rests, and in Whom he can do all things.
He is an object of terror to the very demons.
These enemies dread the humble: no other mortals do they fear so much.
Lastly, it is a solid virtue, because it so strengthens man, that he is neither shaken by the sayings or doings of others, nor cast down by his own faults or miseries.
It is not, therefore, the virtue of humility, but its counterfeit, which renders thee fainthearted, timorous, or in any wise dejected. So noble a virtue does not produce such ignoble effects.
9. My Child, although humility is so just, so useful, so necessary, so excellent, thou shouldst notwithstanding know, that it is not according to human feelings, not to find one's delight in some object, but in all things to refer absolutely the whole glory to God,-----to attribute to one's self nothing except unworthiness,-----to be contented with Me in the lowest place, to embrace heartily whatever My Heart embraces.
Certainly, if thou consultest nature, it will shrink back from such things, and seek to avoid them.
Yet, if thou desirest to be a Disciple of My Heart, thou must not follow nature, but grace: and act, not according to the bent of thy natural feeling, but according to Divine love, whereby thou mayst imitate My Heart, even in spite of nature.
If thou dost this, it will be with thee as it was with the Saints, who tasted a sweetness exceeding nature, in humility, and found by experience that humiliations themselves were full of delight.
Secure for thyself, by prayer and meditation, the powerful help of grace, and, generously co-operating with the same, embrace humility with mind and heart,-----exercise thyself in it, until thou art able readily to reduce it to practice in thought, word, and deed.
My Child, be ever mindful of My example, and forget not My words. Behold! I, an Infant, give thee a new command, the command of My Heart: Learn of Me, that I am meek and humble of Heart.
10. The voice of the Disciple.-----O most sweet Jesus! O Infant God, Who didst empty Thyself by humility! Lo! the stable, wherein Thou dwellest, the darkness, wherein Thou art hidden, the very silence, that surrounds Thee, all cry out, how humble of Heart Thou art.
O Thou Teacher of humility! behold me prostrate at Thy feet, that of Thee I may learn that all-important virtue.
Enlightened and enkindled by the flames of Thy Heart, may I ever know Thee, ever know myself, that thus I may always and everywhere ascribe to Thee what is Thine, and to me what is mine!
Hitherto, I own it, I have never rightly understood the meaning of humility. Now I understand, now I see, that by the virtue of humility I am neither debased nor disgraced, but raised and ennobled; since by it I am elevated to the resemblance of Thyself, Who alone art eminently noble.
O most kind Jesus! givest Thou me a place near Thee! O Lord! I am not worthy. And yet, how did I ever seek any other place, as if I could find a better place than with Thee! Forgive, O Lord, forgive my ungratefulness, my injustice, my madness.
Henceforth, behold, I am forever with Thee.
Let them seek after higher places, who are anxious to be above others: for myself, as much as I am allowed, I will strive for the lowest, convinced that there I shall be with Thee. My only longing is to be with Thee: with Thee I will be contented wherever I may be.
CHAPTER VI. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, BORN IN A STABLE,
TEACHES US HOLY POVERTY
1. The voice of the Disciple.-----For Thee, Lord Jesus, for Thee, my heart longs: Thee, my soul seeks, whom she loves. Show me, I entreat Thee, where Thou dwellest.
The voice of Jesus.-----Come, My Child, and see. This shall be a sign to thee: thou shalt find Me poor, in a stable.
Hearken thou, and give heed to what My Heart may speak to thee.
The foxes have their holes, the birds of the air have their nests: but the Son of man has nowhere to recline His head.
Yet, My Child, the whole earth is Mine, and the fullness thereof. But, behold! when I was the richest, I became the poorest of all.
From the time I was born needy in the stable, until I breathed My last destitute upon the Cross, I lived ever in perfect poverty, and as I ever loved it as My mother, so I ever honored it as a Son.
And for what reason, thinkest thou, with what design does My Heart so lovingly embrace poverty?
Undoubtedly, My Child, because My Heart, filled as It is with humility and charity, cherishes these virtues most tenderly, and desires most ardently, by their means, to draw the hearts of men from
things earthly and perishable, and raise them aloft to that which is heavenly and everlasting.
2. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven: blessed, for that they are free from the greatest obstacles to everlasting salvation: blessed, for that they possess a wholesome opportunity of practicing numberless virtues: blessed, lastly, because in their heart, they are conformed to Me.
My Child, to have nothing, nay, even to be in want, is not the virtue of poverty: but to keep the heart disengaged from the created things of the world; this constitutes the true virtue of poverty. For love of Me, to bid farewell to all things of earth, to possess nothing as one's own, to cling with the heart to no created object, is the perfection of the virtue of poverty. To this latter all are not called, but to the former all and every one must tend, insomuch, that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for anyone without it to enter the kingdom of Heaven. For, unless a man renounce, with the heart at least, all things, he cannot be My Disciple.
3. There is nothing more wicked than the love of money, for this love perverts the judgment, and misleads the heart: and, since all things obey money, he that loves it, blinded by its inordinate desire, sets his own soul for sale, so that he is ready to sell this immortal gift for a perishable object.
The Saints used the things of earth, with a heart free from them; amid the greatest wealth, they were poor in spirit.
Yet, there are not a few who allow the enemy of man's salvation to deceive them, by the appearance of what is good or right. That crafty foe strives to persuade men that riches or the abundance of the good things of earth,-----as they are indifferent in themselves, and may be usefully spent,-----can be coveted and sought after without danger.
But, whosoever suffers himself to be so deceived, soon discovers, that he has become entangled in the snares of the devil's artifices, that he is weighed down by troubles, darkness, perverse inclinations; that, whatever his state of life, he is unable to attain to its perfection; and that, finally, he imperils, in no small degree, his everlasting salvation.
4. My Child, if thou hast riches, set not thy heart upon them: for thou art a steward, rather than a master. With a heart disengaged from them, either renounce them altogether, if such be the Divine Will, or use them for My glory, and for the real benefit of thy soul.
Thou must be so disposed that, if it be My Will, thou shouldst renounce all things, or, if I suffer thee to be deprived of them, thou do willingly submit thyself to Me.
If thou art poor, rejoice, My Child, and be exceedingly glad: and lose not the fruit of so great a blessing, by suffering, repiningly, the efforts of poverty.
Be not ashamed of being in moderate, or even destitute circumstances, for My sake, Who was not ashamed of becoming destitute for thee: but rather glory, for that thou possessest what I purchased for Myself, by many and great humiliations.
5. Whether thou art needy, or rich, cherish holy poverty, and practice a virtue so dear to My Heart and so advantageous to thyself.
There is, indeed, no condition of life in which this virtue may and should not be practiced: frequent opportunities daily present themselves everywhere.
This great virtue may be exercised in regard to one's dwelling-place, furniture, food and drink; in short, the whole manner of living.
For, in all these things, either something is wanting, which is not really necessary; or, if not, it is not according to the desires of nature; or something may, without danger, be withdrawn from what is had for nature's convenience.
If thou lovest holy poverty in thy heart, as is proper, thou shalt not want means and opportunities of practicing the same.
How many poor there are who do not gather any merit from their poverty, but use it to make themselves more wretched, and to offend God! Would that they were wise! Then, instead of bitterness, they would taste sweetness, and sanctify themselves.
6. The name of the poor in spirit, who love and practice poverty,-----whether it arises from necessity or free choice,-----is honorable before Me. With them, I hold fellowship and intercourse; their heart is like a fertile soil, which receives the seed of My words, and brings forth fruit a hundred-fold.
Who is happier than the possessor of holy poverty, who has whatever he desires in this world? Who is richer than he, to whom belongs the kingdom of Heaven?
Do not then, My Child, neglect thy sanctification, for the sake of gathering treasures on earth: use thy endeavors principally to sanctify thyself, and thus to lay up treasures in Heaven.
Wheresoever the object of thy affections may chance to be, where thy treasure is, there also will be thy heart.
7. True it is, that for man, left to himself, it is very difficult to despise in his heart riches, and to practice poverty in deed, and in affection.
Thou shouldst, therefore, pray fervently, that Divine grace may help thee to perform that, which thy own strength does not enable thee to accomplish in a meritorious manner.
If thou perceivest within thyself feelings opposed to poverty, persevere in prayer, and beg the more fervently, even against thy inclinations. that grace may not spare those inordinate feelings, but root them out completely, until thy heart is altogether free, and looks solely to the Will and glory of God.
My Child, if once the affections of thy heart are well-ordered, thou wilt find, through Divine grace, the virtue of poverty not only easy, but even full of sweetness.
8. The voice of the Disciple.-----O sweet Jesus, Son of God! Thou holdest and swayest the whole universe: Thou didst adorn the heavens with glittering stars: Thou didst embellish the earth with wonderful splendor; and behold! here Thou reclinest in a poor stable, a Babe hardly covered with tattered clothes.
O how marvelous, how salutary are the disposings of Thy Heart! Who will not, after so great an example,-----which ravishes the very Angels,----- consider poverty lovely and desirable!
Good Jesus, Teacher of the Truth, and model of holy poverty! enlighten my mind, that I may understand the price of this virtue, and tear away my heart, even in spite of itself, from every inordinate affection for things created, lest, busied with various cares and desires, it become estranged from Thee.
Grant, I beseech Thee, that I may look upon all the things of time as speedily vanishing, and upon myself as passing away with them to things everlasting; allow me the use of the possessions of earth, only insomuch as they are means to guide me to heavenly possessions. Everything is Thine, O Lord: if, then, Thou desirest me to live in opulence, as the steward of Thy possessions, Thy Will be done: if Thou desirest me to be in poverty, a perfect follower of Thy life, again Thy Will be done.
Yet, so far as it is left to me, and as it is pleasing to Thee, I choose rather to be poor with Thee, O Jesus, the Son of God, than to be rich with the world: I prefer to possess the lasting blessings of poverty, rather than undergo the ceaseless dangers of riches.
I offer myself, therefore, to Thee, most benign Jesus, as a companion of Thy poverty: I implore Thee as such to receive me. If with Thee, I am contented: if I possess Thee, I am rich enough.
CHAPTER VII. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS,
DWELLING IN SOLITUDE AMONG THE ANGELS,
TEACHES US HOLY CHASTITY
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Come, My Child, come to the solitude of the sacred Cave: here will I speak to thy heart: here will I unveil for thee the secrets of My Heart.
Here look around: attend to what thou perceivest: see, what surrounds Me: observe the objects which keep Me company.
The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord, I perceive Thy Virgin Mother, Thy Virgin Foster-father, a multitude of Angels, rejoicing and singing, in Thy presence, hymns of jubilee. I see Thee, O Jesus, most beautiful, the Lamb of God, without blemish!
I behold before me innocence far removed from every object that flatters the senses, ravishing Heaven and earth by its loveliness.
The voice of Jesus.-----Amid these, My Child, My Heart rejoices, and finds Its delight, because It feeds on purity among the lilies.
I am holiness itself. Born of a pure Virgin, nourished by a pure Virgin; I am the most tender lover of all purity, and shrink, with all My Heart, from every object which is hurtful or contrary to this virtue.
2. My Heart is the fountain of holy purity, whence all they draw, who desire to be loved by Me.
From this Divine fountain, all the Disciples of My Heart drink in the love of chastity, each one according to his capacity; and by this love, as by a certain mark, are they distinguished.
What is more excellent than chastity, whereby thou offerest to God the Father, Who is a Spirit, a spiritual sacrifice most grateful to Him; whereby, honoring thy body, thou honorest My Own members; whereby thou payest reverence to the Holy Ghost, Whose temple thou art?
This is the virtue which transforms men into Angels; yea, raises them above the heavenly Spirits.
My Child, whosoever is chaste, is an Angel: nay more, in merit, he surpasses the Angel, since, in spite of nature, he becomes through virtue, what the Angel is, without effort, by nature.
This is the glory of the Church, the triumph of grace, the flower of life, the ornament of the body and soul, the fairest picture of Heaven.
3. How beautiful is a chaste life! Immortal is the remembrance thereof; because it is known to God, and grateful to men.
A marvelous virtue it is, which imparts its freshness and beauty, not only to the soul but even to the body.
What the lily is among flowers, that purity is among virtues; by its celestial brightness and elegance, it delights and refreshes the very inhabitants of Paradise.
So much does its loveliness captivate all hearts that, even in the world, there is none, unless he
has altogether lost his reason, who does not admire its excellence.
4. Man, with a clean heart and chaste body, enters Heaven; passes even into the sanctuary of the
Divinity, and enjoys the familiar intercourse of God and His Angels.
The carnal man, like a senseless animal wallowing in filth, understands not the things which are of the Spirit, but finds his delight among sensual objects, the fruits of which are alike destructive to soul and body.
How wretched is he that is impure! how debased in the sight of Heaven and earth! how like in his interior to the demon, who is called the unclean spirit!
The world, submerged by the Flood, bears witness how this loathsome vice is punished; so does the land of Sodom, laid waste with fire and brimstone from above; so does every unchaste man, delivered up to his reprobate sense; so, above all, does Hell. Purity, on the other hand, saves from the tyranny of the passions, imparts a most delightful peace, fills the whole man with heavenly joys; yea, adorns him with the seal of the Elect.
5. Which, My Child, are the chief delights of My Heart? Are they not pure souls? These are they that by the purity of their love, fill My Heart with most pleasure; these busy themselves more frequently about Me; solicitous to know, how, above all others, they may render themselves agreeable to Me; these, being both inwardly and outwardly more holy, long more fervently to live for Me.
These are they that understand more easily the secrets of My Heart, enjoy with more relish the unction of My Spirit, are more glowing with piety, and are wont to be more generous and faithful.
To these My Heart, in return, communicates Itself more abundantly; upon them, It pours the streams of more perfect love and consolation; for them, It reserves more special graces and favors.
Them I admit into the innermost sanctuary of My Heart: with them I treat in a more intimate manner; them I keep nearer to Me upon earth, as well as in Heaven.
In whatever condition of life, therefore, thou mayst be, if thou wishest to be as dear as possible to My Heart: if thou desirest to experience the fullness of Its tenderness: if thou longest to taste, in the most copious manner, Its sweetness, be thou pure in body and soul.
6. My Child, this treasure thou carriest in a frail vessel; unless thou proceedest cautiously, thou wilt easily lose the same. Take heed, however, lest thou advance too warily for an excessive fear becomes a source of danger.
Thou must, first of all, guard thy heart, watch over its inclinations, check its thoughts. For, if thou allowest thy heart to wander about, it shall not long continue unstained.
Be never altogether idle: idleness is the dwelling-place of the unclean spirit.
Desire not to be too familiar with any mortal, even were he a Saint, or a worker of miracles.
Fly dangerous occasions, as thou wouldst a pestilence. How many there are, who, though elsewhere sufficiently secure, perish here miserably.
7. Turn away thy eyes, lest they behold the seductions of vanity; be modest: without modesty, chastity cannot endure.
Hedge in thy ears with care, lest, through them, the enemy find access to thy heart. For, where there is no hedge, the possession shall be laid waste.
Keep the tongue not only from unclean words, but also from all scurrility, and every kind of language, of which the devil may take advantage to tempt thee or others.
Restrain the taste in such a manner, that the temperance in food and drink hinder the flesh from rebelling, and endow and strengthen the spirit with vigor.
Mortify the touch assiduously, not only in those things which, when unlawfully touched, may cause thee to die the death, but also in those which, savoring of sensuality, may, by the aid of Satan, arouse the passions.
S. Be persuaded, however, My Child, that, after thou hast done all this, thou art not able to preserve this most precious, most beautiful, yea, most useful and necessary virtue, except with the help of Divine grace.
Wherefore, thou shouldst frequently and earnestly ask for this heavenly gift, and beg for it by fervent prayer, through the intercession of My Virgin Mother, My Virginal Foster-father, thy Guardian Angel, and, finally, of all the inhabitants of Heaven.
The enemy, knowing that, through purity, men become associated with the choirs of Angels, and merit among them that place which he, by his uncleanness, has forfeited, raves with envy, and leaves nothing undone, to despoil men of this virtue.
But let not thy heart fear, My Child, nor be disturbed; My grace is sufficient for thee, provided by neglecting the proper means, thou be not wanting to thyself.
9. Be exceedingly careful, lest thou expose thyself rashly to dangers; and, after having overcome temptations, do not ascribe the glory of the victors to thyself: for, since all this springs from pride, it will doubtless be punished with a disgraceful humiliation.
Through grace, thou shalt be the more chaste, the more humble thou art: for it is humility which deserves that chastity be given. My Child, be ever mindful of these words.
It thou wilt be perfect in the virtue of chastity, be inflamed with a god-like love for Me: for no one, unless he be perfect in the love of Jesus, can be perfect in chastity; but whosoever loves Jesus perfectly, shall be perfectly chaste, perfectly pure. Keep this secret in thy memory, keep it in thy heart.
10. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Jesus, Thou Virgin of Virgins! Whose Mother is a Virgin, Whose Foster-father is a Virgin, Whose inseparable companions are Angels; Whom when I approach, I am clean; Whom when I love, I am chaste: endless thanks to Thee, for that Thou didst keep my heart free from the love of all carnal pleasure, and didst enkindle it with the love of holy purity.
Ah, they that love Thee, behold! are hastening after Thee, drawn by the odor of Thy must delightful innocence, and, as closely as they can, they are following Thee, the Lamb, whithersoever Thou goest.
O Jesus, Thou lover of chaste souls! grant me, I implore Thee, for love of Thee, with all the Disciples of Thy Heart, to value supremely, to love most tenderly this virtue of Angels, and shun with the greatest abhorrence, all that is contrary thereto.
Sanctify my heart and body with Thy love, that I may serve Thee with a chaste body, and please Thee with a clean heart.
O Jesus, my love and my God! Who didst create me in Thy likeness, permit not that I ever sully or unhallow it by any defilement.
Suffer not, that for a short-lived pleasure,-----for which I must, either now or afterwards, endure shame and punishment,-----I lose that virtue, which is my present and future glory and felicity.
If ever, O most sweet Jesus, Thy love should find me insensible to the loveliness and the rewards of purity; I beseech Thee, let the dread of the everlasting flames of Hell, prevent the flame of vice.
CHAPTER VIII. THAT FROM THE MANGER, THE MOST
SACRED HEART OF JESUS TEACHES US HOLY OBEDIENCE
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Be attentive, My Child: thou must hear some things which thou hast never learnt, never sufficiently understood.
Learn once for all of My Heart, and remember what obedience is. Lo! from this moment even to My latest sigh, obedience is My food, My life.
Observe intently and devotedly My example; consider the dispositions of My Heart.
Behold, if they put Me in a rough manger, I remain contented therein: if they lift Me in their arms, I am content to be carried: wheresoever they place Me, there I stay contented.
Whatever be the wish of those whom My heavenly Father has given authority over Me, that do I will likewise: I have no other will than to will or not to will that which they will.
Neither does My Heart ask, why they will Me here or there: the judgment of the authority that wills, is the judgment of Myself Who obey.
2. Thus, My Child, did I, the All-knowing and All-powerful Lord, subject Myself most humbly to creatures, that thou, weak in understanding and will, mayst learn to submit thyself to them that
hold My place in thy regard.
Be, therefore, obedient to them, with a humble heart, in all things wherein they have authority over thee, whether it be in temporal or in spiritual matters. For all power is from God.
Wherefore, My Child, when thou obeyest thy Superior, thou obeyest Me. For thou art obedient and submissive to the authority communicated to him by Me.
3. If the Superior be devoid of virtue and good qualities, this is no reason why thou shouldst obey him the less. For he does not, on that account, the less possess My authority, and hold My place.
Whenever he enjoins things which are not evidently opposed to Me, heed thou, and perform
whatsoever he may say: but thou art not obliged to follow him in his doings.
Be not concerned, My Child, about the qualifications of the one that commands, but attend to that which is commanded: and perform it faithfully, as if commanded by Myself.
Let the Superior be whatever he may; let him act through this motive or that; what matters it to thee? follow thou Me: seek to imitate My Heart, My Will, and be not troubled or uneasy about the
4. The simple performance of another's will is not the virtue of obedience. Do not irrational
creatures do so? nay more, even machines made by the hand of man? It is necessary, when thou dost the will of the Superior, to be willing to perform with a submissive heart, that which he wishes thee to do; that thus thou mayst cheerfully carry out My Will, made known through the Superior.
For, although it may happen that the Superior does command through ill-will or passion, it is yet My Will that, when no evil is commanded, thou perform, with a good heart, what the Superior requires. For the rest, I will judge the motive of the Superior, who commands, and of the inferior, who obeys; and render to each one that which is just.
My Child, do not imitate them who, deceiving themselves, endeavor, by direct or indirect means, to bring over the Superior to their own will. These, although, in this manner, they have the will and consent of the Superior, do not fulfill My Will, but their own; nor do they practice the virtue of obedience, but they obey self-love; nor are they guided by Me, but by themselves.
5. In order that the virtue of obedience be perfect, it is necessary that,-----believing that whatever I require of thee through obedience is justly demanded,-----thou submit also thy understanding or judgment to My Divine authority, represented in the person of the Superior.
The less thou shalt see the reason of the things which are demanded of thee, and the more inconsistent that which is enjoined shall appear to thy manner of judging; so much the nobler shall be thy obedience, and so much the more merit shalt thou have, if thou submit thy understanding, and fulfill with a good will what is commanded.
Cast aside, therefore, without examination, whatsoever the pride of reason, or the repugnance of sense, may object, in the sincere belief that My Divine Will, made known to thee through the Superior, rests upon the best and most certain motives, although thou thyself dost not see them.
It happens, frequently, that the inferior does not see, and that the Superior does not know, the true reasons for which, by the Superior's command, I desire such, or such other things to be done by the inferior. Both are not rarely unconscious instruments in the fulfillment of My secret designs.
If thou wert humble of heart, and burning with love for Me, it would not be hard, or difficult, to abandon, for My sake, thy judgment and will; and it would be most consoling and sweet to have thy weak understanding guided by My infinite Wisdom, and thy will, prone to evil, conformed to My Divine. Will, the rule of all good.
6. A great thing is obedience: a sublime virtue, whereby a person overcomes himself, and so dedicates himself wholly to Me, that he retains for himself nothing of his own, but offers himself entirely to Me, as a holocaust.
Do I desire other sacrifices without this one? Do I not rather require that I be obeyed? Better is obedience than a victim.
Who is stronger than the obedient man? The obedient man shall speak triumphantly; yea, shall triumph under all circumstances. For he aims at naught, except the doing of the Divine Will, which he always secures.
What is there, My Child, which the obedient man dares not? He dares everything, when commanded; he brings to a favorable issue many and great things, whilst the disobedient loses courage and fails.
7. Nothing is safer or more secure than obedience. The obedient person is never lost; nor does he perish who submits his will and judgment to authority. But he that disobeys, he that follows his own judgment and will, to the neglect of authority, he is generally lost, and perishes.
The obedient man, certain of the reward of his actions, shall not even be held to an account: they that are placed over him, and direct him, shall be obliged to give the account.
8. Lastly, My Child, so necessary is obedience, that no works, howsoever good they be otherwise, if contrary thereto, can be pleasing to Me; nor can they acquire for thee any merits.
There is no state, no condition, no person on earth, that is not bound to obey. Without obedience, the order which God, Who loves order necessarily, has established, could not be preserved. Wherever thou mayst be placed by obedience, be assured, that thou couldst nowhere be better; and that thou canst do nothing more pleasing to Me, and more useful to thyself, than that which is enjoined by obedience.
Blessed are the obedient! they hasten on toward Heaven, with true liberty, in great peace, in permanent security; hut the disobedient groan beneath the galling tyranny of their own will: they enjoy no rest of heart, through a wearisome road they wander toward perdition.
9. My Child, whence is wont to arise the difficulty in obeying? Is it not from this, that thou regardest the person of the Superior, his qualifications, his manner of acting, or his motives for commanding? That thou considerest not, in singleness of faith, as thou shouldst, the divine authority and Will alone?
Such an example, My Child, I did not give. Such was not the disposition of My Heart. Although I was wiser and better than all the mortals who exercised authority over Me, yet I was heartily submissive to them, without considering the persons or their qualifications, without judging the motives which made them act or command.
Nay more, I did willingly and faithfully obey, as if it were the manifestation of My Father's Will, the command of Caesar Augustus, a pagan, who issued his decree with an evil-minded will: and, by complying with this order, I did really do My Father's Will-----that I should be born in the city of Bethlehem, as the prophets inspired by the Holy Ghost had foretold.
Observe My whole life: thou wilt find it frequently distinguished by similar deeds.
Look, then, My Child, and act according to the example which My Heart has given thee. If thou do this, thou wilt find obedience easy, sweet, and full of consolation.
10. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Jesus! how holy, how wonderful is Thy Heart! how great and profound the lessons It teaches! how easy It makes everything! Happy he that understands this!
Yea, blessed he that, taught by the example of Thy Heart, fulfills the Divine Will with cheerfulness!
Behold, such a one is guided by infinite Wisdom, helped by almighty Power, protected by the Divine Goodness.
Who, save the obedient man, enjoys these favors? Let them preside and command who have received the power: for me, it is every way sweeter and better to be subject and obedient.
O truly happy me, if I am truly obedient! For the Lord God rules me, and I shall want nothing: set in a place of Divine pasture, I roam secure therein; there never-failing streamlets of living waters flow; there Manna is daily showered down from Heaven; there do I live for Thee, O Jesus; there do I surely and contentedly merit Heaven.
By Thy most holy obedience, O Jesus, most meek and humble of Heart, grant me, I beseech Thee, Thy grace and Thy love, that I may be perfectly obedient, by renouncing my own will and judgment, and by following, in singleness of faith, Thy Divine Will and authority, manifested to me through lawful Superiors.
Certainly, if I, blind-born as I am, follow self-love as a guide, what else awaits me, blind in my judgment and inclinations, except to fall into the pit and perish there?
I tremble in every limb, O Lord, when I call to mind that many men, distinguished for deep science and extraordinary human prudence, through want of obedience, have strayed from the way of salvation and become reprobates.
Behold, I devote and intrust myself altogether to Thy most wise, holy, and Divine Will. Give me, I entreat Thee, Thy singleness of understanding, Thy readiness of Will: grant me the lowliness and charity of Thy Heart, that I may be like Thee, as an infant that remains contented, wheresoever it may be placed, whithersoever it may be carried; in short, in whatsoever manner it may be treated.