THE SECOND BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR THE IMITATION OF THE MOST
SACRED HEART OF JESUS IN HIS ACTIVE LIFE
CHAPTER XIII. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, GOING UP INTO THE TEMPLE,
TEACHES US TO PRAY
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Attend, My Child, and see how solicitous My Heart was, that, in public as well as in private, It might teach, by example, the ways of salvation and perfection.
From My Childhood, I was wont, not only frequently to pray alone, but also to go up to Jerusalem, and to pray publicly in the Temple, and this according to custom.
My Child, what was My whole life, if not a prayer, from which My Heart never ceased, with which It was always and everywhere occupied?
Where did Mary, My Mother, and Joseph find Me when I was lost, if not in the Temple, the house of prayer? Where My Disciples and friends-----except returning from prayer, with My Heart still praying?
Where, in fine, My enemies-----except praying in the solitude of Gethsemane?
Examine carefully every day of My life; behold! the very dawn found Me at prayer, and, even at that time, sanctifying the labors of the day.
When the toils of day were over, lot when all nature was at rest, the darkness of the night beheld Me praying, and pouring forth My Heart before My Father-----with the Angels alone as My witnesses.
But even amidst the very labors of the day, how often did I withdraw a little from the multitude! how often, whilst in the midst of the multitude, and during My labors, did I raise My Heart to My
2. My Child, strive thou with special care and diligence, to acquire this Spirit of prayer, this holy habit of praying.
All the Saints, and followers of the Saints, all the Disciples of My Heart, learned this holy and sanctifying use of prayer. They prayed at stated times, not merely with their lips, but also with their mind and heart: again, wherever they were, under every circumstance of fortune, they had inwardly recourse to Me by prayer-----making known to My Heart their joy and gratefulness, amid prosperity; imploring My help and comfort, in adversity; asking counsel, in their doubts.
So shouldst thou also do, My Child, if thou wilt aspire to holiness; yea, if thou art desirous of securing thy salvation.
3. Meditate devoutly, every day. But beware, lest thy meditation prove a musing, rather than a prayer; a pious study, rather than a Divine intercourse.
Let the mind reason and reflect, as much as is necessary; but let the heart elicit acts, sometimes of faith, hope, charity; sometimes of sorrow, humility, self-denial; again, of fortitude, of good and firm resolve; again, of thanksgiving, of joy and exultation of heart with the Angels and Saints; now of resignation, of conformity to the Divine Will, of pure love, reposing in God's good pleasure; or of any other virtue whatsoever; then let it fervently petition much for itself, and also for others:-----for the Church and her ministers, for the perfection of the Saints dwelling on earth, for the perseverance of the just, for the conversion of all sinners, heretics, and infidels.
In proportion as thou advancest in the interior life, and attainest to a more perfect degree in the same, thou shouldst shorten thy reasonings, and give freer scope to the affections, so that thou treatest with Me in thy heart, by means of acts and petitions, and, at last, by the mere occupation of Divine union.
Meditate and pray in this manner, My Child, and remember that, whether thou prayest orally or mentally, the heart must be foremost, in order that every prayer and supplication may be performed in an attentive and devout manner.
Although thou mayst not be able to pray so well as thou desirest, do not think little of thy prayer, or neglect it. Verily, I Myself, do neither deem it of little importance, nor do I overlook the same.
Do with a good will whatever thou art able; by so doing, be convinced that thou prayest well and meritoriously, and that thou wilt make progress in virtue, as well as in prayer.
4. Let it not be sufficient for thee to pray at certain times: for it behooves thee to pray always, and not to grow faint. Behold My sweet command, according to which thou canst approach Me at all times, and, as a child, converse with Me.
Everywhere there are obstacles, within and without: temptations from every side, both open and
secret: always dangers, lest the crown promised to perseverance be lost. Exceedingly necessary, therefore, is grace, which, however, is not wont to be given, in a special manner, except to them
Almost everything, then, depends on prayer: without prayer, evil things find no remedy, good things become dangerous; but to him who prays, both good and evil will prove advantageous. Nowhere, My Child, except in prayer, wilt thou acquire a true knowledge of Me and of thyself: therefore, without prayer, thou wilt never attain to true humility and charity.
Without prayer, thou wilt never fully understand My Heart, nor possess Its Spirit. Without prayer, thou wilt, in many things, not seize the sentiments of My Heart; and, what is more dangerous, thou wilt measure My Heart by thy own.
If in thy concerns thou hast recourse to prayer, it will not rarely happen, that thou judgest differently of them, from what thou didst before; because the light of Divine grace, which is wont to be poured into the soul during prayer, is infinitely purer than the light of human reason.
What thou didst think to have sprung from grace, thou shalt often find to be the offspring of nature: what thou didst fancy a virtue, thou shalt sometimes perceive to be self-love: what thou didst judge to be for My greater glory, thou shalt often understand to be the effect of thy hidden pride.
5. The interior man, amid his troubles, has first recourse to Me, and begs for help: therefore, he is relieved, and obtains frequently extraordinary favors; whereas, he that has first recourse to human means, so far from being disburdened, increases his difficulties; until, entering into himself, he comes to Me, without whose aid human endeavors are of no avail to the suffering heart.
My Child, if thou comest to My Heart whenever thou art in affliction, there will be no need to look for human consolations: thou shalt find one drop of My consolation sweeter and more effectual than all the flood of men's consoling words.
If, betimes, for My honor and for thy advantage, I give thee no sensible consolation to taste; thou shalt still ever find true comfort in My Heart, both by resigning thyself to My good pleasure, and by receiving My assistance.
This holy resignation, although, on the one hand, it is contrary to the feelings, and, therefore, bitter; yet, on the other, by means of grace, becomes so sweet, in spite of the feelings, that no one, unless he has experienced it, can fully understand the same.
6. When the man of prayer is tempted, he becomes more united with Me; he is not cast down but raised; he is not saddened but cheered up; he is not shaken but rendered more firm.
If, at any time, thou art overtaken by the storm, or even wrapt up in its thick darkness, turn thyself to Me-----Who am ever present-----and, with thy heart, cling to Me confidingly: thou shalt be secure amid the very rage and gloom of the tempest; and, sometimes, thou shalt be illumined with a ray of softest light from above, that thereby thou mayst see, that what thou thoughtest certain destruction, was either a mere nothing, or even an advantage.
When thou art desirous of saying or doing something, and a doubt or perplexity presents itself,
whether or not it be lawful; entering into thyself, hearken to My Spirit, and if, by having frequently recourse to Me, thou hast learned to distinguish My whisperings, thou wilt perceive a clear decision-----which thou mayst follow with safety.
A soul accustomed to have recourse to Me, has everywhere with her a protector, a counsellor and comforter, whom-----not only when she is alone, but also whilst dealing with her neighbor-----she knows, and loves to call upon in her heart, to consult, and to entertain.
7. After this do thou strive, My Child, for this do thou leave naught undone, that thou mayst acquire this pious habit of having recourse to My Heart, of tending towards Me as thy centre, of busying thyself inwardly with Me, of dealing with Me by means of prayer. This is that Spirit of prayer, which, if thou secure it for thyself, will lovingly entertain thee in solitude, will guard thee in public, will solace thee in adversity, will check thee in prosperity, will protect thee in dangers, and, everywhere at thy service, will guide thee to holiness.
The voice of the Disciple.-----This, O Lord, this is a great good, exceedingly to be desired: yea, it seems that this alone is one of the main secrets of the interior life. But, by what means, I pray, shall I acquire this pious habit?
The voice of Jesus.-----First of all, My Child, thou oughtest frequently to beg for the gift of prayer, of all gifts the best-----which embraces every gift: by prayer, as other things, so, especially, is the gift of prayer obtained.
Next, it is a good counsel-----well-suited to acquire for thyself the habit of prayer-----as much as possible, so to arrange thy occupations, that no long interval ever intervene, during which thou dost not for sometime-----or at least for a few moments-----confer with Me by means of some spiritual practice.
Then, thou must make use of both inward and outward temptations and troubles, as of so many warnings, to turn thyself to Me, for the sake of evincing thy love, imploring grace, and renewing thy resolve of being faithful.
Lastly, thou shouldst persist in thy repeated efforts, until thou art accustomed to make use of prayer, until thou hast recourse to Me under every circumstance, like a child to its parent-----not by the power of reason and reflection, but by a spontaneous instinct.
8. Cheer up, My Child, spare neither care nor diligence to acquire this science of the Elect, this object of the longing of all the Disciples of My Heart. It is worth all that and more.
In prayer thou hast a support in thy wants; amends for thy shortcomings, means for progress; a safe hope of perseverance; whatsoever it is profitable to possess.
Prayer is the refreshment of them that hunger and thirst after justice: prayer is the delight of pure souls: prayer, to sum up all, is the employment of the Saints, and their repose as well.
Whilst thou prayest, thou honorest and glorifiest Me, thou performest that upon earth, which the Angels and Saints are doing in Heaven, and which must be thy blissful occupation throughout a joyous eternity.
9. The voice of the Disciple.-----Delightful, indeed, Lord Jesus, are the things which Thou teachest me concerning prayer: they affect the heart by their unction, and fill it with love for that holy exercise.
Behold, Lord, as much as I am able will I pray: I will pray with my mind, I will pray with my heart, I will pray with my lips. Help me with Thy grace.
By Thy most Sacred Heart, I beseech Thee, grant me the spirit of prayer, in order that prayer, which is manifold, may also be my life.
I ask not for extraordinary gifts, not the gift of prophecy, not the gift of miracles: grant these to them, whom, in Thy loving-kindness, Thou choosest: never will I envy them.
But this I beg humbly; this, I entreat Thee, grant Thou me, the gift of prayer-----the gift which is above every gift to me.
Through it comes every good: through it I have access to the fountain of all Good: through it I find entrance into Thy very Heart.
CHAPTER XIV. OF THE LOVE OF SOLITUDE, AFTER THE EXAMPLE OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, ABIDING AT NAZARETH.
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, after I had been at Jerusalem, engaged in the things which are My Father's, so long as My Father Himself willed it; I went down to Nazareth, and there unknown, I advanced in grace with God and with men.
Understand this My hidden life: study the sentiments of My Heart, and strive to imitate them sedulously.
Thou mightst have seen Me, with a serene countenance and a joyous Heart, now at home, intent on My various duties and occupations: now abroad, applying Myself to divers labors: always ready for everything: everywhere obedient: at all times and in every place, a spectacle full of grace, to God My Father, to My Virgin Mother, to Joseph, and to the wondering Angels.
Behold how the Son of God was employed for so long a time! behold how He grew up, like the lily of the valleys, hidden indeed from the world, but prominent and pleasing in the sight of Heaven.
2. Wonder not, My Child, that I passed so many years in retirement, that I did not show Myself to the world, except after a long time. This example of Mine, this interior love of solitude, was exceedingly necessary to men.
Without this love of solitude, men, influenced by corrupt nature, pour themselves out, as it were, into external things: most of them follow self-love, by imaginary and unusual ways and means of salvation and perfection-----whereby they are deceived, and led astray from the spirit of their state and vocation; others obey a secret pride, undertake affairs and fill employments, without due preparation, without regularity-----seeking not the things which are Mine, but those which are their own.
Whence it happens, that they wander from the right path. And as-----on account of the ceaseless bustle, and their applications to external things-----they heed not the Divine inspirations, they fall from
one error into another; they become more and more wrapt up in their delusions, until, at last, they render fruitless to themselves every means of salvation and perfection.
3. The object of the example of My hidden and inward life is two-fold: to teach men to guard against such evils, that they may keep the safe road of salvation; and to show to them, wherein true perfection consists.
Whatever glitters or resounds, whatever awakens in some manner the attention or admiration of men, upon this most men are wont to look, as something more perfect, and better adapted to glorify God, and to shine before their neighbor.
But how great an error! how great a delusion! For it all arises from secret pride, and ends in self-love.
In truth, perfection, as is made evident by the example of My Heart, consists in doing the Divine good pleasure with humility and charity.
Without a regard for solitude, man is not wont to understand, at all times, the Divine Will, to guard humility, or to preserve true-----not fictitious-----charity.
Pray, therefore, My Child, that thou mayst be worthy to acquire and cherish a love for solitude. It is so great a good, that there exists hardly anything so useful, both to act with a right spirit, and to pray with the same spirit.
Examine the lives of the Saints, and thou shalt not find one among them who did not love sacred solitude.
4. The solitude, which the faithful must cherish, is relative to their state and condition of life. Whence it may happen that what is praised in one ought to be blamed in another.
Now, this is a safe rule, the true method for every faithful soul, of all states or conditions: To love solitude in such a manner, that, after having duly performed whatsoever thy duties or employments demand, thou retire with Me from the crowd, and collect thyself near Me, until the Divine Will calls thee away.
If thou withdraw thyself from unnecessary company, useless conversation, the idle rumors of the world; in short, from all matters which do not concern thee, thou shalt have sufficient time to deal with Me in solitude.
But when, from the intercourse of men, thou retirest into solitude, do not simply leave men, and yet carry thy cares with thee.
For there are those, who are no less distracted and dissipated in solitude than they were in the company of men, and amid their occupations; because they give free scope to the vagaries of the imagination, to the inquisitiveness of the understanding, and the fretfulness of the will.
It is necessary, first of all, to arrange thy free time in an orderly manner, so that, to a settled time, be assigned a fixed employment, lest, overcome by disgust, thou wander about, or waste time in discussing how thou shouldst spend it.
Order, in all things, is of the greatest advantage: it drives away idleness and dullness of spirit it prevents many temptations and difficulties; it affords an opportunity of doing well, and with ease, many things; lastly, it makes thee live for Me.
5. He that is alone with Me in the sight of Angels, either makes amends for the past, or strengthens himself in what is good: and, whilst reflecting on himself and his actions, he is taught many things. For it is not so much length of time, or multiplicity of matters, as the purity of prayer and meditation, which renders a man truly experienced.
He that is collected within himself, away from the turmoil of the world, recovers his peace, if lost, or strengthens it, when preserved: he rejoices in the communication of graces of divers kinds; he rightly arranges beforehand that which he may afterward be able to perform with fruit and merit.
Whence, My Child, does it come, except from union with Me, that interior men-----even under the most trying circumstances-----continue so self-possessed that they are an object of admiration to the multitude; and are so persevering that they execute, with the greatest fearlessness. whatsoever they have once resolved?
How many defects shalt thou avoid, how many virtues shalt thou practice, if thou do but cherish solitude!
All the Disciples of My Heart have ever held as certain, that they were so much the nearer to My Heart, the farther they were with their heart removed from creatures.
8. My Child, if thou art truly humble, thou wilt seek after solitude: for, as much as it is able, humility loves to be concealed, and dreads to be noticed. If thou art enkindled with a true and Divine love, thou wilt seek after solitude: for the flame of love, exposed to every breath of the world, is easily extinguished, unless it be frequently fed in solitude.
Or what is worse, charity, if always dissipated, becomes, by degrees, a disguised sensuality.
Solitude, when adapted to each one's circumstances, and properly kept, becomes sweeter little by little, and secures numberless advantages.
For it is the safeguard of innocence, the dwelling of peace, the abode of the interior life, the school of holiness, the place of heavenly secrets, the chosen means of Divine communication.
If thou art desirous of enjoying these things, love sacred solitude: frequently will I invite thee, frequently will I lead thee into the same, that there I may speak to thy heart.
7. Be not deterred from cherishing sacred solitude-----even should men occasionally censure thee, on account of thy love of retirement. Let talkers have their say: for thyself, attend thou to what is good.
If thou desirest to suit thy life to the opinions of others, thou wilt have to assume as many different shapes as thou meetest men: for there are as many opinions as there are minds.
When the Divine Will does not make known to thee, that thou shouldst be with men, stay thou alone with Me.
Thus the Saints, unless called forth by the Divine Will, would have continued in solitude, even to their dying hour, unknown to men.
Nevertheless, My Child, as often as by My Will-----in whatsoever manner it be made known-----thou art sent forth by Me, thou shouldst leave thy solitude with the same readiness and freedom of mind with which thou didst enter it.
At My bidding, leave thou as speedily as possible, or rather exchange for the better, whatever useful occupation detains thee-----gladly accommodating thyself, without any sign of displeasure, to circumstances which present themselves.
Do not bind thyself to any preconceived method, rather than to My Divine Will; do not, through a false exactness, and an ill-regulated strictness, render piety hateful or unlovely.
If thou hast learnt of My Heart a truly interior spirit, thou wilt safely follow a middle course, avoiding both extremes.
Therefore, imitate not those dissipated persons, who-----thinking that the time spent in solitude is lost, or perceiving that things interior are distasteful to them-----do ever seek pretenses of pouring themselves out upon outward objects, entangle themselves with what does not concern. them, frequently neglect what they ought to perform, and do what they should omit.
Neither follow thou the footsteps of those who, under cover of piety, neglect all things external, and, with all access shut off, so hide themselves in solitude that neither the inviting of My Spirit, nor charity, nor obedience, is able to draw them thence: and who, if, at any time, necessity drives them out, or disturbs them, are indignant, sullen and fretful.
For thyself, My Child, follow the Divine Will. love to be with Me in solitude, according to My good pleasure: and, whenever it is My Will that thou shouldst be with creatures, love to be with them, for love of Me.
8. The voice of the Disciple.-----O sacred solitude! how great and how numberless the blessings wherewith thou overflowest!
Didst thou understand all these things, my soul? frequently, then, hasten away into solitude: thither go thou as much as thou canst: thither do thou often resort, away from all turmoil, were it only for a little while-----but more with the heart than with the body.
There do thou breathe freely; there refresh thyself; there advance in grace; there, among the Angels, entertain thyself with thy Beloved. O Beloved of my heart, most sweet Jesus! give me, I beseech Thee, and nourish in me, the love of sacred solitude, wherein I may find Thee, wherein I may enjoy Thee, wherein I may be happy with Thee.
Thy conversation, unlike that of men, has no bitterness; neither has Thy intercourse any irksomeness; it is all spiritual joy, pure delight, Divine sweetness.
CHAPTER XV. OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE, WHEREIN WE ARE TAUGHT TO LIVE, BY THE EXAMPLE OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, BAPTIZED.
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, beginning about the age of thirty years, sent by the Will of My Father, I left Nazareth and came to the Jordan, to be Baptized.
And when I was Baptized, coming forthwith out of the water, I betook Myself to prayer. But lo! whilst I prayed, and the crowd of men were thronging around Me, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit, under the form of a dove, came upon Me; and the voice of My Father was heard, saying: This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.
What solemnity, My Child! how glorious! but not displayed for Me. This voice came not for Me, but for men, that they might acknowledge Me as their Saviour, and, believing in Me, hoping in Me, loving Me, they might have life everlasting.
I needed not this outward display for Myself; since, what was done visibly at My Baptism, I enjoyed unseen at all times. Everywhere and always, the Father and the Holy Spirit were with Me.
My Heart possessed always every sufficiency in things internal: in these It rejoiced fully: in these It found supreme delight.
My Heart united to the Godhead, by act and affection ever present to the same, lived as if ever absorbed therein.
2. My Child, as much as thou canst, imitate this example of My Heart. Concerning which I have to tell thee many things-----but agreeable and full of consolation.
Exert thyself, My Child, that thou mayst ever enjoy the Divine presence, that thou mayst everywhere live before Me, thy Saviour-God.
If thou lovest Me, thou wilt find thy delight in walking before Me, in enjoying My presence. Was it ever heard, or has it ever happened, that anyone did not find his delight in the presence of him whom he loves?
Behold! I am always and everywhere with thee, inasmuch as I am a Divine Person-----nowhere do I lose sight of thee.
Nay more, in My sight no creature is unseen.
In every place My eyes behold both the good and the wicked, and look into the very heart of each of them. Who can hide himself from My sight? Whether he conceal himself in darkness, whether he hide in the loneliness of the wilderness, whether he bury himself in the depths of the earth or the sea, whether he goes down even to Hell-----everywhere My eyes are upon him.
In such a manner, My Child, am I present to all and each one, that, with My all-powerful hand, I can reach every one, both to restrain or punish, to help or reward him.
3. I am also with thee, not only with all the sweetness of My Divinity, but also with that of My Humanity-----in the sacred Tabernacle.
Whithersoever, therefore, thou goest, whether to the right or to the left: wheresoever thou mayst
be, whether in thy own country, or in the land of the stranger; in every place, where the Most Holy Sacrament reposes, thou hast Me present, not only with My Divinity, but also My Soul and Body. There thou findest Me present with the same countenance, the same lips, the same ears, the same affections of the Heart, that once were the delight of My Disciples-----as they are even now that of the Angels and Saints in Heaven.
Understand, My Child, the whole mystery of love. Behold! from out the sacred Tabernacle, I am with thee, in some manner-----wherever upon earth thou mayst be-----by the love of My Heart. In My Heart, I busy Myself about thee: with My love, I follow thee everywhere.
4. How, then, canst thou be forgetful of Me? how not be taken up with love for Me? how with mind and heart stray away from Me?
Then, My Child, dost thou truly walk before Me, when thy mind thinks actually or virtually on Me; when, in like manner, thy heart is occupied with love of Me as present.
Now, of this Divine presence there are certain degrees, which interior souls arrange in their heart, and by which thy come ever more closely to Me.
The first is, when man, by virtue of actual attention, or at least of a virtual intention, lives so self-collected that he does everything in a manner worthy of My sight, and, meanwhile, by repeated acts, turns himself to Me.
In the next place, when-----with a heart cleansed from every ill-regulated affection, and dedicated to Me as a special sanctuary-----man attends faithfully, listening to what I speak within, and is ever ready to answer to My whisperings.
Lastly, when the interior soul, in some manner absorbed in Me, so lives for Me that she is wont not to be mindful of herself except in Me; not to love herself, except in Me-----ever reposing in Me with a certain sweet and divine union, and enjoying My presence more perfectly than the bird enjoys the air wherein he flies, or a healthy man the health that gives him vigor.
This is the completing of Divine union, which surpasses all understanding, to which pure souls-----that, by generous sacrifices, whether external or internal, have disposed themselves, with a perfect heart leaving all creatures, and even themselves with the aid of grace are wont to attain.
5. My Child, the remembrance of My presence is the most efficacious means of avoiding sins. For who, if he calls to mind that he stands in the sight of God, could dare to offend Him, Who, at the same instant, can hurl both body and soul into Hell?
If, with thy own eyes, thou wert to behold Me present to thee, in a sensible form, wouldst thou be willing, My Child, wouldst thou dare to commit sin in My very sight? Wouldst thou not deport thyself in a respectful manner? But, with the eyes of faith, thou seest Me more clearly and more certainly present, than if thou sawest Me with the eyes of the body.
Remember and love Me Who am present to thee, and thou shalt not sin forever. What is it that renders sinless the inhabitants of Heaven? Is it not the Vision and the love of the Godhead, and that which arises thence?
When, by faith, thy mind beholds thy God, when thy heart loves Him, thou wilt not offend so great
a Majesty. Although, by nature, thou art weak and liable to fall; yet this Divine vision will not allow thee to be deceived, nor will this love suffer thee to fall. For whoever abides therein sins not.
Wherefore, My Child, so long as, by faith and love, thou walkest before Me, thou shalt be sinless; not indeed, by thy nature, but by My presence.
Whenever thou didst sin, surely, whilst resolving to sin, thou sawest Me not by faith, neither knewest thou Me by love. For whosoever sins neither sees nor knows his God.
6. What is there more delightful than My presence? what more pleasant? what more useful for everything? Is it not an enduring Paradise? Whom the Angels and Saints gaze upon, face to face, Whom they truly possess in Heaven the same thou beholdest upon earth by faith, the same thou enjoyest
by love-----whilst thou growest all the while in merits.
Without the practice of the Divine presence, solitude is wont to be dangerous, the intercourse of men hurtful. But, by the use of it, both are helped and made holy.
Thou shalt scarcely find anyone practice of piety which contains such a number, such a variety, and such a frequency of acts of virtue as this holy exercise of the Divine presence.
Be of good cheer, then, My Child: endeavor piously and diligently to acquire the habit of living in My presence. When once acquired, it will serve thee as a protection amid dangers, as a light in darkness, as a comfort in solitude, as a safeguard in the world-----everywhere as a constant practice of virtues, everywhere as a Divine fellowship.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----But, good Master, most sweet Jesus, in what manner, pray, shall I acquire this sacred habit?
The voice of Jesus.-----Before everything else, My Child, thou must often pray, earnestly beg for grace; whereby thou mayst be excited to call to mind, with a lively faith and a confiding love, the Divine presence.
The senses, also, are to be kept under strict discipline; and the inordinate desire of perceiving external things is to be mortified.
Then, the internal faculties are to be guarded: not only wicked, but also useless thoughts, are to be kept from the mind, vain and idle occupations from the heart.
Afterwards thou shouldst endeavor to turn thyself frequently to Me by short and fervent aspirations, which will be all the more profitable to thee in proportion as they are more adapted to the state and circumstances of thy soul.
Finally, My Child, in all things seen, thou oughtest to seek Me, the unseen, the Beloved of thy heart.
Do not the very creatures, which surround thee on every side, warn thee of My presence? Lift up thy eyes and behold how all things, each after its own manner, proclaim that I am present.
Do not the serenity of the sky and the very storm proclaim it? Do not the fruits and flowers? Do not consolations and afflictions? Do not virtues and the fountains of grace?
My Child, if thou art an interior Disciple of My Heart, all things that present themselves before thee will help thee to be mindful of Me, and to love Me present everywhere.
Everywhere thou shalt find Me; and thou shalt pass over all even unto Me, in Whom alone thou shalt find joy and repose.
8. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord, God invisible beholding all things, incomprehensible and present everywhere, whither shall I flee from, Thy face?
Behold! if I go up into Heaven, Thou art there; if I go down into Hell, Thou art present. If I take wings at the dawn, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, there also Thy hands will guide and hold me.
Darkness has no gloom before Thee: night is to Thee as the day. Everywhere am I in Thy sight; within and without am I unveiled before Thy eyes.
9. Lo then, Thou art ever present to me. How sweet a thought! how great a consolation! what reasons for confidence! how great an incitement to love!
But yet, whithersoever I turn, Thy creatures awaken my faith, warn me of Thy presence, of Thy power, of Thy love, of Thy loveliness. If the shadow of the object is so pleasant, so fair, so good, what must be the object itself?
Behold! this creature is pleasing, that other strong; this one is fair, that one good: but incomparably more pleasing, and, at the same time, stronger, fairer, sweeter, and everywhere better art Thou, O Beloved, Whom my soul loves!
O Jesus, My Saviour God, delightful Paradise of my heart! grant, I beseech Thee, that always and everywhere I be mindful of Thee, that I love Thee always and everywhere present.
Make my heart a pure and holy dwelling, wherein I may find Thee, possess Thee, enjoy Thee, for the sanctification of my soul, and the ever-enduring glory of Thy heart.
CHAPTER XVI. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, TEMPTED IN THE DESERT,
TEACHES US TO PRESERVE PEACE OF HEART
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, when I went away from the Jordan, I was led by the Spirit into the desert. Behold a sight, which filled the Angels themselves with admiration.
For, removed from human society, dwelling among the wild beasts of the wilderness, I passed My days and nights in fasting and austerity, exposed to all the changes of the weather.
My Heart persevered in Divine communings with My heavenly Father, in sublime contemplation, in ceaseless prayer.
Meanwhile, forgotten, or even insulted by the world, I was assailed by Satan in wonderful ways: yea, I was even seized by him, carried elsewhere, and variously and exceedingly tempted.
What impelled Me to undergo these things, if not the love of My Heart, that I might console thee My Child, and teach thee by My example?
Taught and encouraged by this, thou needest not wonder, if, in thy condition of life, thou art tempted by the demon, or annoyed by the world: neither shouldst thou, on account of human events, or the devil's assaults, lose thy peace of heart.
Naught of all this world could disturb or disquiet My Heart: but, ever tranquil and at rest, with a firm Will turning Itself away from the objects cast before It, It went on in peace.
2. My Child, do thou with all diligence aspire to this holy peace, and follow it up with all care.
Blessed is the good soul that keeps herself in true peace! In such a one I abide as in My Own kingdom: in her heart I find My delight as on a throne.
My Heart loves to communicate Itself to a tranquil heart; because there Its Inspirations are heard, are fostered, and bring forth fruit.
If thou desirest to commit the fewest faults possible, if thou desirest to derive profit from thy very faults, if thou desirest to practice virtues, in a proper manner, keep thy peace of heart.
If thou wishest usefully to resist the temptations of the devil, and to bring to naught the wicked attempts of Hell, be in peace, and continue therein.
3. The enemy,-----knowing that he can do little against a soul, so long as she keeps herself in this holy peace,-----strives in every way to trouble her.
For this purpose, he sets sometimes every power in motion, and stirs it up: he excites the imagination, he calls out the passions, he suggests many things contrary, now to this virtue, then to that; at one time he assails by flattery, at another by fright; sometimes he persists stubbornly.
If things of this kind befall thee, My Child, be not uneasy, do not lose thy peace. So long as thou continuest in a holy peace, all is safe: but if thou beginnest to be troubled, thou beginnest also to be in danger: and although, by Divine grace, thou withholdest thyself from a willful consent, yet the enemy has gained enough to be satisfied for the present.
He does not think that he can overthrow thee in the first assault, but that, by degrees, if he be able to disturb thy heart, he may worry thee, weaken thee, and so at last destroy thee.
Beware, therefore, that thou be not disturbed, by whatsoever temptation, or for how long soever a time, thou mayst be assailed.
4. My Child, let not thy heart be troubled, whatever may happen. The peace of the heart is not to be lost for aught of this world.
Although thou mayst have rendered thyself guilty of some defect or sin, even then be thou not disturbed in heart. For, if thou troublest thyself after committing a fault, dost thou thereby afford any remedy to the evil? On the contrary, thou committest a fault more dangerous than the first.
Therefore, after an offense has been unhappily committed, be not annoyed by troubles, nor lose thou courage: but, by an act of humble love, throw thyself with a contrite heart upon My Heart, that thy fault may be consumed by this Divine fire, and thy heart be made clean.
Above all, My Child, a firm and unruffled peace of heart is necessary, when, for the greater glory of My Heart, and thy own greater good, thou art suffered to be oppressed by inward desolateness;
whereby the understanding is wrapped in darkness, and the will feels itself pushed on to evil, so that sometimes thou seemest abandoned to thyself alone, and to a stubborn enemy.
If in that state thou givest thyself up to mental perturbation, thou wilt render vain the intention of My Heart, and run great risk-----not only of depriving thyself of the proffered treasure of merits, and a sublime degree of holiness,-----but also of going astray, and of falling.
But if, with a quiet and undaunted heart, thou goest obediently onward, whithersoever My Spirit may lead thee; and instead and despite of thy own feeling, thou followest His guidance, thou shalt pass through the ordeal unhurt, and come out of it more perfect.
5. In exterior things also, much will occur to move and trouble thy heart, unless it be well established in peace.
It will happen, that thou findest men unfaithful, nay more, at times, opposed to thee,-----even those that are bound to thee by the obligation of gratitude, friendship, station or office.
If thy peace rests upon the dispositions or doings of mortals, or depends thereon, it will be exposed to sad vicissitudes.
Many judge accordingly as their heart is affected: therefore, it is to be expected that they will not rarely think ill of thee, will find fault with thy doings, will condemn thy eager pursuit of an interior life; in short, will try thy virtue in various ways.
When these things happen, My Child, suffer not thy heart to be troubled: but remain in peace, and allow everything to pass, precisely as thou allowest the clouds to pass over thy head.
And truly, of what avail would it be to thee to be troubled by these matters? Shouldst thou not add a burden, and reap bitterness as the fruit of thy toil?
Accustom thyself to bear patiently things adverse, to hear in silence what is unpleasant, to be quiet among the boisterous, to remain tranquil whilst the world is blustering.
6. The voice of the Disciple.-----But, O Lord Jesus, how hard it seems in practice, when temptations annoy me inwardly, whilst I long to serve Thee faithfully; or when the torments of adverse circumstances and men assail me, whilst I mean well; not to feel them, not to be troubled by them! Verily, O Lord, this seems impossible to me.
The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, it is no evil to feel things which are burthensome, or capable of disturbing the heart: thou must needs feel them to be able to resist them.
It is certainly impossible not to feel them, how pious soever thou mayst be. For piety does neither destroy nor blunt the powers of the soul; but, on the contrary, it renders them more pure and perfect.
Neither is it possible that the inferior part of the heart be not sometimes affected thereby. But these emotions, unless they be consented to by the superior part, can by no means harm thee: nay more, they may be useful to establish thy peace the more solidly; since, the more victories thou gainest over the inferior part, the more subject and tranquil thou wilt keep it, and the greater safety thou wilt enjoy.
But yet, it is ever in thy power to preserve thyself in peace. For-----since thou possessest freewill, and receivest ever a sufficient grace-----neither the malice of Hell, nor the wickedness of men, nor any adversity can disturb thy heart, unless itself be willing.
It depends, therefore, on thyself alone, My Child, ever to possess this good, which is so great, that,
next to the state of grace, it is the greatest good of this life.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----Yea, Lord Jesus, so it is assuredly. Teach me, then, I beseech Thee, the way of holy peace, which Thou didst show me to be so useful and necessary for all things.
The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, many there are who say much about the means of obtaining and
preserving peace; but I say: learn ye of Me, because I am meek and humble of Heart, and ye shall find rest-----the perfection of peace.
First then, a virtuous heart alone-----which, living in grace, strives to imitate the virtues of My Heart-----can possess true peace, because there is no peace for the wicked.
Again, a humble heart, which is satisfied with holding an inferior place among men, and which, distrustful of self, has, in every difficulty, recourse to Me-----can alone preserve an undisturbed peace.
Finally, a heart enlivened by charity, which is united, or at least resigned, to the Divine Will, can alone enjoy, without interruption, the sweetness of holy peace, and persevere securely therein.
If thou art perfectly imbued with the sentiments of My Heart, so that, for love of a more complete resemblance to Me, and a proof of a more disinterested love, thou choosest, according to the Divine good pleasure, to suffer with Me in this world: then, My Child, wilt thou overflow with the plenty of a most delightful peace, enjoy a continued tranquillity, in spite of all the changes of sensible things; and thou wilt be ever jubilant with a cheerful heart; because the very source, whence the heart is wont to be troubled, shall strengthen it in thee.
Behold, My Child, the way to true peace, which leads up by degrees even to perfection. Blessed are they that walk therein. Outside of it can be found no real, no solid, no lasting peace.
If thou possessest not a virtuous heart, resigned to the Divine Will by humility and love, do whatsoever thou wilt, go whithersoever thou choosest, nowhere shalt thou find the happiness of peace.
When the heart is not well-disposed within, neither the shunning of occasions, nor the change of places, nor the loneliness of living, nor spiritual books, nor, in fine, the counseling of men can give true peace.
8. Remember, My Child, that the causes of inward trouble do not lie in objects outside of thee; but within thee, in the ill-ordered dispositions of the heart. Whenever thou dost no longer allow these causes to exist within thyself, outward objects will cease to be an occasion of trouble.
Now, there are as many causes that can make thee lose thy peace as there are ill-regulated affections of the heart. And not only do the affection for evil or vain things belong to this class, but also those for good and holy objects, if indulged in contrary to the Divine good pleasure.
Wherefore, so soon as thou detectest aught inordinate within thyself, thou shouldst persist in the use of prayer, special self-examination, and other fit remedies, that thou mayst, quietly and effectually, cast it out of thy heart.
How many, even virtuous souls, there are that anxiously seek after peace-----using for this purpose various means, and these no bad means-----and yet find only greater uneasiness; because they proceed in an unorderly manner, longing too much or too eagerly for the end of the trouble which they feel, or for the obtaining of rest after which they sigh, or because they annoy themselves in the use of the means, or desire to experience a sensible peace!
Seek thou peace in a peaceful manner; and, as it is to be found in the superior part of the heart-----where the rational will presides, under faith and grace-----possess and preserve it there.
Thus, My Child, thou shalt be able to enjoy constantly a holy peace, My peace, which is the privilege of every true Disciple of My Heart, the seasoning of prosperity, the soother of adversity, the chief of all blessings; in short, the sweet and necessary means of perfection and holiness.
9. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Jesus, God of peace, and Father of all consolation! Oh! how I desire, how I long for peace, Thy peace, so sweet and holy!
Let others, who wish for them, possess the other good things of life; to me, I beseech Thee, give Thou peace, for me the greatest good of this life, embracing all I desire.
Grant me kindly, to make a proper use of the means appointed, that thus I may become a true Disciple of Thy Heart,-----ever peaceful in meekness and humbleness of heart.
O Prince of peace, most sweet Jesus! Whose delight it is to reign in a pure and quiet heart; so establish Thy kingdom in my heart that it be never disturbed, but constantly strengthened more and more until Thou admittest me to rule with Thee in heavenly bliss, where, with the Angels and Saints, Thou reignest in peace everlasting.