THE SECOND BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR THE IMITATION OF THE MOST
SACRED HEART OF JESUS IN HIS ACTIVE LIFE
CHAPTER XXI. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, SHOWING TO MEN THE SWEETNESS OF HUMBLE CHARITY, LEFT US A MODEL WHICH WE SHOULD FOLLOW
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Hearken, My Child, and receive My words. When of old, by the Prophet, God spoke of His Son, Who was to come into the world, He said: Behold My Servant, My Beloved, in Whom My soul is well pleased. I will put My Spirit upon Him. He shall not contend, nor cry out. The bruised reed He shall not break, and smoking flax He shall not extinguish. In His name shall the nations hope.
As such I came, My Child; as such I was in this world. I treated men with so great a humility, so great a charity, that I was called the Lamb of God, and known by that name.
See how I lived among men: how I behaved toward them. Although I was their Lord, I was in their midst as one ministering.
From all parts they came hastening to Me, with what ailment soever they might be afflicted; knowing that to Me humility was habitual; mildness, natural,-----that goodness was the very essence of My Heart.
And, indeed, the first or the least sigh of anyone, who was miserable, moved My Heart, and awakened all Its tenderness.
Did I ever cast off anyone? Did I ever slight the poorest, or ever the least of all? Did I ever show a sign of dislike to anyone? On the contrary, I embraced and cherished all, with the greatest marks of kindness.
Consider, My Child, and reflect, with how great a tender-heartedness I treated little children; with what endearing and even-minded humility I taught the ignorant; with how steadfast and generous a courage I dealt with the troublesome; with how glowing a zeal with worldings; with how feeling a composure with the afflicted; with how great an affability with sinners; with how holy a love with the good; with how humble a charity with all.
This humble charity, the characteristic virtue of My Heart, ravished the hearts of all, to such a degree, that, as the envious murmuringly complained, the whole world went after Me.
Verily, My Child, this humble charity of My Heart overcame the whole world. For whence, thinkest thou, arose so wonderful, so sudden a conversion of the world, if not from the secret unction which moved,-----and the well-known goodness of My Heart, which attracted all?
Behold! as the goodness of My Heart became known, men hastened to Me from every place, out of every state of life, under every disposition of body and soul; and even now, they continue to do so; because they hear that the poor are not spurned by Me; that the afflicted are not forsaken; that sinners are not abhorred; that the weeping Magdalen, the suppliant woman of Canaan, the praying publican, the apostate Disciple returning, the penitent thief, My very torturers, that smote their breasts, are not cut off.
2. My Child, strive thou, with all diligence-----, to follow this pattern of life, this method of dealing with men, and to realize the same in thy behavior, as a true Disciple of My Heart.
Some Saints, perfectly imbued with the sentiments of My Heart, so behaved, that men could not deal with them, without being led by their very appearance,-----as by an exact likeness-----to an affectionate remembrance of Me.
Thou canst not deal with thy neighbor in an indifferent manner: thou wilt produce in him either good or evil.
No one can treat with men without loss, either to himself or to another; except whosoever is willing, with a sincere heart, to humble himself before men.
It is frequently necessary humbly to give up thy opinion, if thou desirest to deal with others without disagreement: nay more, often thou must kindly embrace things unpleasant to nature, if thou wishest to live with them without bitterness.
Whence do dissensions arise among mortals? Is it not from pride, whereby one refuses to yield to another? Whence bitter feelings? Is it not from an inordinate self-love, which corrupts the very heart?
Drive away pride from among men; and behold! with it all human troubles will disappear. Next, expel self-love; and thou shalt see the delights of Heaven reigning on earth.
If thou art truly humble, thou shalt captivate thy neighbor; and if thou burnest with a pure charity, thou shalt carry him along, to make him use his efforts to run in the odor of virtues, which breathe forth so sweet a fragrance.
3. Humble charity is mightier than all severity. This, whilst outwardly it may hinder evil, inwardly estranges from good: that on the other hand, corrects evil, and causes good to be loved.
Nothing is more easy in directing than severity or laxity But what is there more dangerous for men than the former? or what more injurious to Me than the latter?
They that lead not an interior life, and, therefore, suffer themselves to be guided by nature, rather than by My Spirit,-----are wont to fall into the one or the other excess.
My Child, if thou art charged with the care of others, thou shouldst be, before all else, an interior person.
Whoever is not such, how is he to be pitied, when placed over others! For he shall doubtless ill perform many things, and do harm to My interests intrusted to him; and of all this he shall give a reckoning.
Woe to the religious Community, whose Superior is not an interior person! For behold! it shall languish in spirit, and fall away by degrees; since every Community suffers most dangerously in its head; and hence, the individuals composing the same suffer fatally in the heart, by an ill-ordered affection for creatures,-----the most dangerous disease of individuals.
If thou holdest My place in regard to others, thou mayst guide and govern them by My Spirit, that thou mayst, in them and through them, advance My interests. If thou actest differently, thou mayst, perhaps, promote thy own interests, not Mine,-----give satisfaction to thy own nature, and to that of others, but not to My Heart.
If thou art an interior person, animated with My Spirit, thy ways of acting will be strong in deed, but full of sweetness in manner. Thou wilt constantly pursue the objects aimed at, until thou attainest to them,-----but with that sweetness of charity, which, whilst it stimulates, never wounds; which, when it urges onward, does not embitter; which employs a thousand painstakings to win; which finally overcomes, but so overcomes that the conquered one surrenders by a voluntary act, and meritoriously.
Thou wilt so make use of My secret of governing, as not to require the same of all; but, by the same spirit, to gain of each that which, regard being had to talents, strength, and other circumstances, could reasonably be obtained.
Thou wilt know how to take advantage of the character of thy subjects; and to employ the same for its proper effect, and relatively to the greatest usefulness.
Thou wilt take heed, lest, under any pretense, thou estrange subjects, or render them dispirited. And thou wilt strive to treat subjects as I treated My Apostles; so that, full of confidence, they have recourse to thee in every difficulty, and do find find thee ever animated by My Spirit, and devoted to them; that thus they may live ever cheerful, and serve Me with a willing mind and a large heart.
Remember, My Child, that there is nothing more difficult than to punish beneficially. Wherefore, if, at any time, it be necessary to punish, see thou do not make the evil worse: take care lest, outwardly thou incrust and whiten the individual, as if he were a sepulchre, and inclose and keep rottenness within.
Never, by word or deed, rebuke another; if either thyself or he be excited with anger. It will be sufficient to restrain, for the present, him that actually commits a formal sin: delay the punishment until thou canst prepare and administer it without passion, and he, being now pacified, may accept and undergo the same with profit.
4. Never needlessly sadden anyone: if, at any time, thou art obliged to say or do things unpleasant to others, soften them, for charity's sake, with good reasons, and season them with such a sweetness of manner, that whatever is bitter may be felt as little as possible.
If thou art asked anything which thou canst not grant; show to him that asks, how much thou desirest that thou wert able, and how it grieves thee that thou art unable to comply therewith: and so he will go away satisfied, and more edified, than if he had obtained his request.
Do not, under cover of charity, entertain men with empty flatteries, or deceive them by a certain politic astuteness. This manner of acting is hateful to Heaven and earth: for, unless it is grounded on truth, it is not charity but deceit.
5. On the contrary, My Child, do thou so manifest in thyself the character of the humble charity of My Heart, as to be, in every place, the good odor of My example.
So let thy light shine before men, that they may see thy good deeds, and glorify thy Father, Who is
The voice of the Disciple.-----Yet, Lord, didst Thou not recommend to Thy Disciples, that they should shut the door, and keep their own affairs secret?
The voice of Jesus.-----Dost thou not understand these things, My Child? Know, then, and give heed. Things which are not required, nor serve for common edification, should be done in private, since they might become a stumbling-block to thy neighbor, and dangerous to thyself: but those which are common or necessary, are to be so performed in public, that the intention remains concealed; that thus, by thy works, thou mayst give good example to thy neighbor; and, for thy intention, whereby thou seekest to please Me alone, thou ever desirest secrecy.
6. If, through Divine love, thou exercisest humility and charity toward all, whosoever they may be, thou wilt assuredly be the good odor of My Heart for all who shall see thy example.
And, although others should not profit by thy example, thou shalt be no less dear to My Heart.
Blessed is he, My Child, who by the example of a humble charity, shall so shine before men, as to show that the goodness of My Heart is to be loved and imitated! They that so explain Me, shall have life everlasting.
7. The voice of the Disciple-----O Lord, meek and lowly Jesus! to perform the things which Thou teachest as drawn from Thy Heart, so full of sweetness, I need a powerful grace. I beseech Thee, help me with Thy most efficacious aid.
I ought, and I desire, to possess a greater humility, and a greater charity as well. For, oftentimes, I own it to my shame, through lack of humility and charity, I offend my neighbor and displease Thee.
Most humble and sweet Jesus, O Thou Magnet of hearts, Who, by the Divine goodness of Thy Heart, drawest all men, and entertainest them with the inexhaustible sweetness of Thy humble charity; grant, that I may follow Thee; grant me, to be a perfect Disciple of Thy Heart.
Free me from the harshness and bitterness of pride and self-love; render my heart, like Thine, uniformly kind, and ever replenished with humble charity toward all, without limitation of persons.
CHAPTER XXII. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, LIVING IN THE WORLD, TEACHES US TO DWELL IN THE WORLD, THAT WE BE NEITHER OF THE WORLD,
NOR HARMED BY IT
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, so long as I was in the world, I was not of the world: I abode among the good and the wicked: neither had the prince of the world, nor its spirit, anything in Me.
Although I was incapable of sin, yet I made use of such things as might teach My Disciples how they should keep themselves from the defilements of the world.
Inwardly My Heart was so estranged from the world, that It was affected by nothing which is of this world; It so burned with Divine love, that, like a flame, It ever rose above all things created.
It was inwardly self-collected, whilst It was busied outwardly: within, It remained united to God, whilst without, It was occupied with men.
But, outwardly, everything was in Me well-ordered: the senses were passionless: My behavior full of discernment.
So prudent and holy was My conversation, that My very enemies went away, saying: Never has man spoken like this one.
Nothing was ever imprudently uttered, nothing was unguarded; no dangerous familiarity, no levity; but a certain placid seriousness, tempered with a wonderful sweetness, distinguished My outward carriage.
In Me, everything was full of dignity, which inspired both respect and love, checked all forwardness, inculcated reserve, recommended virtue.
Withdrawing frequently from men, I betook Myself to prayer; although inwardly I never ceased to pray.
2. My Child, would that thou didst understand these things! Would that thou didst imitate them, that thou mightst abide, without sin or harm, in this wicked world!
To encourage thyself, look at the example of the Saints, who, pressing My footsteps, lived indeed with their body in the world, but with their heart uplifted far above the world.
The world harmed them not, because they loved naught of the world: on the contrary, it was useful to them; because, the more they perceived the banefulness of the world, the more highly they valued the Divine friendship, and the more they cherished the same.
Whatever they beheld in the world, they despised and rejected as offscourings, that they might enjoy the blessings of My grace and love.
3. My Child, if thou wilt dwell ill the world without hurt, first of all, let thy heart be well-regulated within. Let it be convinced of the utter vanity of the world, and abhor it: let it be conscious of the inestimable price of My friendship, and adhere thereto.
Accustom thyself forthwith to turn inwardly with thy heart to Me,-----so often as anything is offered to thee by the world,-----and to utter these, or similar, aspirations: Besides Thee, what do I desire upon earth, God of my heart, and my portion forever!
If thy heart be rightly regulated in this manner, thou shalt be little moved, by whatever thou mayst see in the world. Nay more, the world, even in spite of itself, will work with thee unto good; because it will often drive thee to Me,-----the centre of thy felicity; and will make thee understand more and more fully the unutterable wretchedness of the world, and the blessedness of My service.
Keep thy heart so disposed, that it be neither troubled at the greatness of the crimes of others nor scandalized by the perverseness of the wicked, nor let it hesitate to continue with Me, in spite of any attempts of hell or of the world.
Know thou, My Child, that the wicked, among whom thou mayst live, can in no way harm thee, if thy heart effectually dissent from them. It is not in the power of the perverse to injure thee, provided thou art unwilling. For no one is harmed except by himself.
4. Notwithstanding, since the flesh is weak, and the heart prone to evil, it may happen that the senses, unless carefully guarded, do, to thy great peril, bring the foe even to thy very heart.
It is, therefore, necessary, in thy intercourse with the world, to guard all the avenues of the senses; if thou do not wish to be exposed to the danger of discovering that, by degrees, thou becomest affected, defiled, corrupted.
The things of the world, which fall under the senses, thou oughtest to see, as if thou didst not see them; to hear, as if thou didst not hear them; in short, to perceive them, by means of the senses, as if thou didst not perceive them.
But thy chief watchfulness ought ever to be exerted over thy heart. For, even should the enemy secretly penetrate within the gates, if thyself thou dost not open thy heart, he shall be unable to enter, or to destroy thee.
Wherefore, preserve with the greatest care the unshaken resolve of cleaving to Me with thy whole heart; of wisely protecting all the approaches to thy heart. After this, attend with confidence to thy affairs, prepared with a resolute mind, in every danger, to have recourse to Me, and to act with fidelity.
5. My Child, thou wilt avoid many dangers, if, at ill times, thou showest a certain dignity,-----not indeed ill artificial one, but one that springs from virtue, such as is befitting in every Disciple of My Heart.
Wherever, therefore, thou mayst be, so deport thyself that there appear in thee nothing mean, nothing light, nothing either forced or feigned: on the contrary, let there shine forth in thee an easy, sweet decorum, which is well suited to restrain others, and to fill them with respect.
Do not, in act nor in affection, enslave thyself to any creature; always and everywhere keep thyself free.
Neither do thou intrust thyself, and what belongs to thee, to all and every one: but try the spirit. and mistrust the same unless proved. Remember, that many have been deceived by appearances, and destroyed by an imprudent familiarity.
6. It will prove very useful, My Child, to foresee the things to be transacted with the world: to consider carefully, what is to be done, and in what manner; with what persons thou hast to deal, and under what circumstances; in short, what means are to be taken to succeed in the business, as well as to avoid sin.
Thou shouldst, however, rely more upon Divine grace than upon thy own industry; thou must, therefore, frequently turn thyself to Me, ask My counsel, and entreat Me.
Yea, My Child, in whatsoever matters thou mayst be engaged; among what men soever thou mayst be; thou oughtest so to behave, so to hold thy heart free from creatures, that thou mayst be able, at the very appearance of sin, with a pious and easy motion, to fly to Me, and hide thyself, far away from every danger, in My Heart.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----O most sweet and amiable Jesus! Thou knowest that I am in the world, only because Thou didst will that I should be in the world. I do humbly beseech Thee, preserve me, exposed as I am to the filthy world, that I be not sunk in its mire, nor soiled by its uncleanness.
O My God! the more attentively I look at the world, the viler it grows to me: on the other hand, the more eagerly I meditate upon Thee, the more exceedingly sweet Thou becomest to me: the more good things I find in Thee,-----the more and the greater appear those that I see remain to be found.
O Jesus, my supreme Good! keep me near Thyself, and grant that neither the devil, nor his allurements, may carry me off; that the world, or its deceitful vanity, may not beguile me; that corrupt nature may not overcome me; that my unguarded senses may not betray me.
Strengthen me with Thy efficacious grace, that I may lead a blameless life in this world; until Thou takest me from the danger of the world into the secure abode of Heaven.
CHAPTER XXIII. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, REQUIRING FAITH
IN HIS DISCIPLES, TEACHES US TO LIVE THE LIFE OF FAITH
1. The voice of Jesus.-----When the Son of Man comes, thinkest thou, that He shall find faith, not of any kind, but a faith lively, active, fervent?
And yet, such a faith I ever required, and do require of My Disciples; because I am ever the same God, ever equally deserving, that they live for Me by faith.
The voice of the Disciple.-----Yea Lord, Thou art God, ever the same, ever supremely worthy, that for Thee all things live, that to Thee all be perfectly submissive, wholly devoted.
The voice of Jesus.-----Rightly dost thou believe this, My Child, because the universe bears witness that I am God. From the beginning, the Patriarchs and Prophets foretold Me such: as such was I pointed out beforehand by nature, and by the Law, the end whereof I am.
As such did all the elements acknowledge Me: the heavens confessed Me, since, at My birth, they displayed the star: the sea declared Me, since it suffered itself to be trodden by My feet: the earth proclaimed Me, since, at My passion, it quaked: the sun recognized Me, since he hid the rays of his light, and grieved for the expiring author of his being.
The very spirits of Hell acknowledged Me as such, since they showed that, without My consent, they could assail not even the vilest animals, and since they gave up the dead whom they were detaining.
The Angels gave testimony of Me, since, at My Incarnation, they announced Me the Son of God; since, at My Nativity, they proclaimed Me to the world as the Saviour; since they ministered to Me during My life; since they showed themselves as witnesses at My Resurrection.
There is another who gave testimony of Me, My Father Himself, since He declared Me repeatedly His Own beloved Son.
Moreover, the Holy Spirit also gave testimony of Me, neither does He cease so to do, since, by the enlightening and motion of grace, and the outpouring of His gifts, He draws to Me the hearts of men.
Nay more, My Own works also, which I did, give testimony of Me. For behold! it was by My power that the blind were made to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear; that the lepers were cleansed, the sick healed, the dead restored to life.
2. Now, all these things, My Child,-----and whatsoever else is to be believed to obtain salvation,-----by whom are they, infallibly, without danger of error, made known to thee, if not by the Church; by whose mouth I speak more clearly now, than I did of old, by the mouth of the holy Prophets?
Yea truly, this is My mouth, which, when I open, I teach the multitudes: this is the instrument by which I speak exteriorly to men: this is the last rule of the things to be believed, unerring and unalterable: this, finally, is the only Church, wherein is found the faith, by which the just live.
Without faith it is impossible to please Me. Whence it is clear, that every just man who is Mine, lives by the faith, which works through charity.
3. My Child, the life of faith possesses, as it were, certain degrees; the first of which is, when
man,-----aided by grace from above,-----by reason of the Divine authority, believes Me, as I speak through the Church, and lives in the state of grace.
My Child, a miracle is God's testimony: a miracle is an evident utterance of God, and the infallible
seal of Divine truth.
Now, the Church herself is a miracle, an evident miracle, whether thou considerest her origin and propagation, since,-----established by miracles, without human aid, in spite of Hell, in spite of all the powers of the world, in spite of every kind of wickedness of men conspiring by every possible means,-----she went forth like lightning from the East, and appeared even in the West: or whether thou considerest her preservation and uninterrupted growth, since, whilst so many of her degenerate children in every age, attacked her anon by fraud, violence, rage; and so many fierce persecutors, at all times, never grew weary with attacking her in open and secret ways,-----she herself, amid the ruins of centuries, whilst all the kingdoms of the earth crumbled into dust, stood always more firm, more magnificent, more glorious, crowned with victory, as often as she was assailed.
Wherefore I,-----God, speaking by miracles,-----speak through this same Church, an ever-enduring miracle.
Blessed he, that hears this Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic: he that hears her, hears Me, certain that he is in the way of saving truth: he that will not hear her, is like the heathen and publican; neither does he hear Me, nor can he be otherwise than on the road of death-bringing error.
My Child, if thou wilt be safe and secure, cling thou, with heart and mind, to the Church, which I built upon the immovable rock; which I cemented with My Blood; wherein I dwell; which I govern by My Spirit, quicken with My Heart.
Hold thy mind so prepared, that to whatsoever she may teach or command, thou submit thyself humbly and cheerfully: and keep thy heart so disposed, that thou love her affectionately, as thy best Mother, the kind parent of them that are to be saved.
However, faith, to be a saving one, must be enlivened by sanctifying grace. For, without this grace, it neither unites thee to Me, nor does it make thee a living member of the Church, My mystical Body.
Wherefore, it has been most truly said, that faith without works is dead; although when grace is lost, by a sin not against faith, faith is not lost at the same time; and the faith which remains is a true faith, even if it is not a living one.
My Child, keep thou with every care, this gift of thy God, Divine faith: and make known the life of this faith, by works done in the state of grace.
4. There is a second degree of the life of faith, when all voluntary acts, interior as well as exterior, are animated by the principles of a living faith.
He that has a lively faith guides himself by the everlasting principles of faith; whereby he understands that he is created for a supernatural end, unending beatitude with Me: that all the inferior creatures on earth are made, to help man in the attainment of this end.
But in many persons faith languishes, because they neglect to meditate on the truths of faith,-----being too busily engaged with the things that are of the world and the flesh.
For, if these everlasting truths were well considered, and received into the heart, doubtless, the things of God and of salvation would be loved; faith would be vigorous, and bring forth flowers and the richest fruits.
My Child, every Disciple of My Heart possesses and cherishes this lively faith: by it he lives, cheered on by hope, and glowing with charity; and he goes and ascends from virtue to virtue.
5. Many of them whom I call to an uncommon holiness, I am wont to prepare gradually for a pure faith. This pure faith is the third degree of the life of faith. In this degree man leads, by means of perfect faith, a life altogether supernatural; and, even in the midst of darkness and temptations,-----following under obedience, blindly as it were, the torch of faith-----he serves Me faithfully, although he may not see or know whether or not he is serving Me.
My Child, if, by My Spirit, thou art led to this life, enter upon it with great courage; and follow with a fearless heart, under obedience, the Divine guidance.
And, when thou art now walking in these interior ways, where thou shalt see naught, but where thou shalt perceive on all sides enemies, by whom thou shalt sometimes think thyself already ensnared; where thou shalt descry underneath thyself the yawning abyss, into which thou supposest thyself ready to fall at every step; where, lastly, thou shalt deem that Heaven above is incensed against thee, and that thou feelest this; going ever onward, without knowing by what way or whither, but supposing that thou art ever coming nearer to thy destruction: then, My Child, enliven thy faith, and follow, with a pure faith, even blindly, the guidance of them that hold My place in thy regard.
Let not thy heart be troubled, My Child: but cheer up thy courage, and call to mind that thou art walking in the way wherein the greatest Saints have walked before thee; who, had they not passed through the same, had never sanctified themselves.
When, finally, all secret pride, and self-love have been sufficiently rooted out; when the intended purifying shall have been completed, according to My designs; then the eyes of thy soul shall be opened; and, filled with astonishment, thou shalt find thyself in a new way, which will be like a pledge of life everlasting.
After this, My Child, thou shalt live, as it were, in an uninterrupted serenity: thou shalt behold things not seen before: thou shalt rejoice as thou didst never rejoice before: thou shalt understand, and taste the secrets of My Heart with a new relish: and thou shalt rather fly than walk to perfection.
6. The voice at the Disciple.-----Being of beings, O God, who canst not deceive nor be deceived! I believe whatsoever Thou proposest to be believed through Thy Holy Catholic Church, whom Thou didst appoint the guardian, witness and interpreter of Thy saving doctrine; whom Thou didst establish the unshaken ground-work of the truth; whom Thou dost so shelter beneath Thy protection, that the gates of hell can never prevail against her.
O Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic! Virgin Spouse of Jesus, the Son of God,-----Who abides with thee all days, even to the consummation of time,-----thou that bearest His name upon thy brow, and His Divine seal upon thy arms; thou evident and unending miracle! whosoever does not acknowledge thee, is devoid of reason; whoso does not love thee, is truly heartless; whoso does not hear thee. deserves to be considered a heathen.
O Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic! Mother most loving, Mother most lovely, whosoever has not thee for Mother, has not God for Father! Dear, indeed, is my native land: dear my family: dear my life: but incomparably dearer art thou, my Mother, thou Church Divine! O dearest Mother, let my right hand be forgotten, if ever I forget thee! let my heart faint away, if I do not love thee, if I make thee not the beginning of my joy and glory!
O thou Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic; saving queen of the world, whose everlasting sway is spread over the earth; whose subjects,-----the rich and the poor, the European and the American, the Asiatic and the African,-----are children of one Mother, brethren of one family, princes all,-----all destined to reign for evermore. O thou, upon whom shine the Apostles, glittering luminaries of the world; whose triumphs thousands of Martyrs proclaim; whose wonderful works the armies of Confessors display; whose beauty ever new the Angelic multitudes of Virgins manifest; whose name and splendor all the heroes of virtue adorn; behold! I, together with the thousands of thy children, from the four quarters of the globe,-----of all tribes, and peoples, and tongues,-----arise and bless thee, uttering with one heart and one voice: Set out with thy comeliness: proceed thou prosperously and reign! Let thy blissful reign be spread even to the boundaries of the earth, that, under it, we mortals, each and all, may, with joyous hearts, together serve God our Saviour, until we draw near to the heavenly City, and the multitude of the many thousands of Angels,-----the Church of the first-born,-----that are in Heaven!
CHAPTER XXIV. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, PROMISING SALVATION TO THEM THAT PERSEVERE, AND THE MEANS OF SALVATION TO THEM THAT PRAY WITH CONFIDENCE, TEACHES US TO LEAD THE LIFE OF HOPE
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Come ye all to Me: have confidence: him that comes to Me, I will not cast out.
Hope, therefore, in Me, My Child, and do not fear; because I, thy Creator, have redeemed thee, and called thee: thou art Mine; and I am God, thy Saviour.
My Child, hope is the anchor of life: as the anchor secures the ship at sea, so hope makes the soul fast in Me.
All things present are done in the hope of things to come. The hearts of mortals, were hope taken away, would rest inactive; they would suffer all things to languish, all things to perish.
Hope is the stimulant of men, it arouses their hearts, and goads them on to generous efforts.
Worldly hope, wavering and worthless, deceives and passes away: Divine hope, on the contrary, fixed and immovable, resting upon My infallible word, sustains him that hopes, and rewards him that perseveres.
The former is wont to beget rashness or dejection; the latter, a humble and steady greatness of This holy hope thou needest, My Child, to strive courageously for the crown, and to bear it off, in spite of opposing difficulties.
Live by hope: cherish reliance on Me, with all thy heart. For in Me is all hope of life, virtue, holiness.
2. The first degree of the life of hope, is when man, with a sure reliance, awaits everlasting beatitude, and the means to attain to the same through the Divine assistance.
My Child, since My mercy is infinite, no one, in this life, should despair. A horrible sin is despair:
a crime exceedingly insulting to My Heart; besides, what can be more hurtful to man himself? Despair causes him that stands to fall,-----does not suffer him that is fallen to rise.
Nor, on the other hand, is it lawful to indulge in presumption. Far, therefore, be it from anyone to rely upon himself, and not upon Me, Who humbles them that presume upon themselves, and protect them that rely upon Me.
Take courage, My Child; act manfully: do not lose confidence, which has a great reward. For to them that hope in Me, and labor valiantly unto the end, life everlasting is mercifully promised by Me, as to My children; and it will be faithfully given to them, according to My promise,-----as a reward for their own good works and merits.
3. The second degree of the life of hope is, when, amid casual events and things adverse, a person so
trusts in My most wise and loving Providence, that, after having done, with a good and upright will, whatsoever he was able, he confides himself altogether to Me.
My Child, when matters do not proceed according to thy wishes, do not meanly give way to despondency; but cheer up thy spirits, and have recourse to My Heart. This thou shalt ever find the Heart of the best of fathers; in It thou shalt ever meet with sympathy, help, and inexhaustible goodness. Neither allow thy miseries to lessen thy confidence in Me. The more miserable thou shalt feel, the greater reason thou oughtest to have of mistrusting thyself, and of trusting in Me.
For, distrust in thyself, in order to be good, should beget a firm trust in Me. Wherefore, all distrust, which produces depression of spirits or faint-heartedness, should be cast off as a dangerous temptation.
Throw thyself into the bosom of My Providence, as a child into the bosom of its parent. He shall not perish who is in the arms of such a Father as I am.
It should certainly be a miracle,-----such a one as never yet has been wrought, nor shall ever be seen,-----if My Heart were wanting to them that rely upon Its aid, or if It did not hasten to their assistance.
4. Lastly, the third degree of hope is, when the soul, even amidst great obstacles and arduous difficulties of every kind, trusts in Me with a perfect hope; although she does not perceive, except upon principles of faith, any means of extricating herself.
If thou seest not how thou mayst escape from the troubles that rush upon thee, raise thyself, My Child, above all things human, and, with a pure hope, intrust thyself wholly to Me; rely altogether upon Me, with whom rests both the power to help thee, if I so wish, and the will, if it is for thy good.
The more desperate matters appear, the more firmly thou oughtest to hope in Me. For it is a characteristic of My Heart, to grant more plentiful Divine aid to them that are most forsaken, and have recourse to Me with confidence.
Remember, My Child, that I am wont to defend more stoutly those things which are more violently assailed by the demon; and to strengthen most powerfully that which the foe tries most to tear down.
Courage, then, My Child, what fearest thou? Thou hast God with thee. Be valiant, act with confidence, advance boldly.
If, whithersoever thou turnest thyself, thou thinkest ever to perceive a lower deep, keep thyself within My arms; repose upon My Heart, resigned to everything. Then only, when thou shalt be sufficiently free from all self-reliance and expectation,-----when, in a human sense, thou shalt deem thyself lost,-----thou shalt find, in a marvelous manner, both thyself and Me: thyself saved, and Myself present in person.
Thenceforth, My Child, behold! new things loom up before thee: thy hope will be heroic, at the same time, and delightful: thy confidence in Me full of consolation, with peace ever-enduring.
5. My Child, I know what is advantageous to thee: I can do what thou canst not: suffer Me to act: and, praying and hoping, do thou co-operate. with Me.
Many there are who, if they obtain not forthwith whatsoever they hope or ask for, are cast down and become fainthearted.
My Child, whosoever asks with confidence that which is not contrary to his salvation or to My honor, always receives. For, either he receives what he asks for; or, in its stead, that which I know to be better for him: and so he receives whenever it is good to receive. Sometimes, the objects asked are not refused, but they are delayed, that they may be given at the suitable time. And, because thou thinkest ofttimes in a human manner, imagining that that would be good for thee which, however, if thou hadst it, would not be good; and, since thou knowest not, in particular, what, or how, things are better for thee: therefore, thou shouldst commit thyself to Me, and persevere quietly in asking and hoping.
There are they who, at first, surrender themselves wholly to Me, and afterward, in certain difficulties, desire to provide for themselves. These, with My permission, are wont to become more entangled in those difficulties; that they may learn, in all things, to mistrust themselves, and to rely upon Me.
6. Who has ever vainly trusted in Me? Who was ever disappointed in the hope which he placed in My Heart?
Behold! by hope My Mother obtained My first public miracle, whereby I changed water into wine. For, although she saw there was scarcely room for expecting the wished-for favor; yet, knowing My Heart, she had confidence, and obtained what she desired.
By hope was the woman, who was troubled with an issue of blood, freed from her long ailment. For she approached Me with so great a confidence that she said: "If I shall touch only His garment, I shall be healed." And so she was made whole.
By hope did the woman of Canaan obtain consolation, and relief in her affliction. Although her confidence and faith were tried, she, increasing in faith, trusted, and prayed the more earnestly, that, pitying, I might help her. She trusted not in vain, she prayed not in vain. For she obtained what she asked.
By hope did Bartimeus, the blind man, receive his sight. For he prayed with confidence, crying out to Me, as I was passing by: and, when rebuked by many, that he should hold his peace, he cried out the more: "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me." Wherefore, pitying him, I opened his eyes, that he might see.
By hope was the leper cleansed. "Lord," said he, full of faith, "if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." My Heart, thus appealed to, was moved with compassion, and: "I will," said I, "be thou made clean." And forthwith he was cleansed.
By hope did Lazarus-----poor and destitute, full of ulcers, cast off by the rich man-----persevere with holiness in suffering. For he looked up to his reward: nor in vain. When he died, he was borne by Angels into the bosom of Abraham.
What more? None ever hoped in Me, and was disappointed. Wherefore, My Child, lay aside all fear: lay aside distrust; in life and death give thyself up to My Heart.
7. The voice ot the Disciple.-----O Jesus! how good Thou art! how sweet! Yea, O Jesus, Thou art goodness itself. Thou art very sweetness.
O Jesus, my Saviour! I will deal confidently and not fear, being mindful of Thy Heart; because It is infinitely good. Its mercy endures forever.
Remember, O Jesus meek and humble of Heart, that, in what need soever, no one, who had recourse to Thy most loving Heart, was ever rejected or sent away empty. Animated with such a confidence, O Jesus, I come to Thee: burdened with miseries, I fly to Thee, and, with my miseries, I throw myself on Thy Heart. Do not, O my God, my Father, cast off me, Thy all-unworthy child, but give me admittance, I beseech Thee, into Thy Heart; nor suffer me ever to be separated therefrom. Aid me, I entreat Thee, in all my wants, now and forever, but, above all, at the hour of my death, O most benign! O most compassionate! O most sweet Jesus!
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CHAPTER XXV. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, ENJOINING LOVE ON ALL,
TEACHES US TO LEAD A LIFE OF DIVINE LOVE
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole strength. This is the greatest commandment.
I am thy God and thy Lord. By Me thou wast created: by Me redeemed.
This, then, is My command, that thou love Me. Is it not an easy command? Is it not sweet? Is it not beneficial? is it not replenished with every good?
What is more easy than to love? Love is the life of the heart; without love the heart cannot live. Thus was thy heart constituted from the beginning; I Myself so created, so formed it. For I made thy heart that it may love: but love Me.
Thou knowest, My Child, Who I am, and what manner of Heart is Mine. Canst thou find on earth, or even in Heaven, a sweeter object of love than My Heart? Is not My Heart very sweetness?
Ask of them that have experienced it: ask the Saints who, inebriated with the sweetness of My love, forgot all worldly things, yea, found that which was naturally bitter, sweet and full of consolation.
Ask the Angels, who possess My love, and rejoice and exult therein forever.
Canst thou find in any other object so much blissfulness for time and for eternity? What true good is there, which thou canst not have in My Heart? Enlarge thy heart, as much as thou mayst wish; behold! all thy desires shall be filled.
If peace is desired, if consolation, if virtue, if perfection, if security in life and in death, if any other good: it is found in My Heart, it is obtained by loving Me.
Arouse thy heart, My Child; love with thy whole heart, cherish with thy whole strength: but love, but cherish Me, thy every good.
Let fear, which contains pain, disappear: let faintheartedness, which fetters the heart, vanish away: love thou, My Child, and be free: love thou and be happy.
Live, henceforth, the life of love, as it behooves a Disciple of My Heart.
2. The first degree of the life of Divine love is, so to love Me, with a love of preference, that thou keepest all My commands which oblige under grievous sin; and that thou wouldst, for naught on earth, deliberately transgress anyone of them.
He that does not so love Me remains in death. Life and death, Divine love and mortal sin, do not dwell together in the same heart.
Deeds are the proof of love. Therefore, whosoever keeps My commands, the same loves Me in truth.
By this, then, thou shalt know whether thou lovest Me, if thou keepest My commands.
Now, this degree of love is necessary to all, for salvation; insomuch that, should anyone know all mysteries and every science; should he distribute all his possessions to feed the poor; should he give up his body to be burned; should he speak with the tongues of Angels, or should he possess any other powers whatsoever: and have not this degree of Divine love, it avails him nothing for life everlasting.
Here eternal salvation is at stake. He that loves father or mother; wife or children; brothers or sisters; possessions, or life itself, more than Me, is not worthy of Me, nor fit for the kingdom of heaven.
If thou wilt enter into life everlasting, keep the Commandments; avoid mortal sin: whatsoever efforts, whatsoever sacrifices it may cost thee.
3. The second degree of the life of Divine love is, so to love Me, with a love full of affection and generosity, that thou ever seekest effectually to please Me; and wouldst not, for any consideration whatsoever, offend Me-----even by a venial sin.
Assuredly, My Child, if thou possessest a heart worthy of My Disciple, thou wilt ever devote to Me thy affections; thou wilt endeavor, before all others, to please Me; and thou wilt carefully avoid whatever thou knowest to be displeasing to Me.
Tell Me what sort of a love that is which, for an empty glory, for a sensual delight, or for any other gratification of corrupt nature, does not hesitate,-----not indeed to nail Me again to the Cross,-----but to mock Me, to wound Me, and to fill Me with bitterness.
If I did not love thee better, if I were not more concerned about thee, what, My Child, should become of thee? If, because such, and such other things, do not utterly destroy thee, I did overlook them, I did not heed them; what shouldst thou have to undergo?
And thou longest for peace? and for My intimate friendship? and for My consolations? and freedom from danger? Behold! even by venial sin, thou obstructest the source of all these blessings.
Whence arise thy troubles,-----annoyances, anxieties, dangers,-----if not from this, that thou art not willing to sacrifice, with a generous heart, those things which the Divine love demands of thee?
Thou callest Me thy God: thou speakest to Me as thy Father: nay more, thou stylest Me thy Beloved: but, if I am Thy God, where is My honor? if I am thy Father, where is thy love for Me? If I am thy Beloved, where is thy affection? where thy tenderness?
If, formerly, thou didst so offend: if, formerly, thou wast all along without affection for Me: now at least, be thou zealous for the better gifts; and I will show thee a still more excellent degree.
4. This is the third degree of the life of love, of pure love; whereby thou lovest Me so perfectly, that thou dost will and not will the same with Me; and art thus in all things conformed to the Divine Will.
This, My Child, is the perfection of love: this is the true union of hearts: this is the life of the Saints.
This pure love will make thee abhor the same things that I abhor: it will make thee delight in the same things wherein I delight.
For pure love, true union, consists in an efficacious agreement of hearts. Whatever be thy own sentiments, if thou dost not will and dislike the same with Me; if thou dost not think the same with Me; if, as far as the Divine Will requires, thou dost not embrace the same with Me, thy love is not pure, thy union is not true.
Be not troubled, however, My Child, if thou findest it sometimes so hard to conform to the Divine Will, that thou appearest to do it, as it were, against thy own will. By freely conforming thyself, although with difficulty, thou wiliest effectually that which I will. Since, unless thou didst so will, thou wouldst not conform thyself; inasmuch as no one can will against his will. Whence thou perceivest that the repugnance, which thou feelest, resides in the inferior part of the heart.
5. My Child, pure love directs all things to unity. Just as fire changes everything thrown upon it into
The Divine Will is the beginning, and the manner, and the end of all things, which it does or suffers.
It transforms. in some way, all virtues into itself; and ennobles them by its own excellence.
Whosoever loves purely, for him every virtue is love,-----and love is every virtue.
My Child, if thou hast not actually reached this oneness of love, use thy endeavors; accustom thyself to live by love, to act by love, to suffer by love: thou shalt attain to it afterwards.
6. My Child, love thou this holy love, which alone effects many things replenished with sweetness, and works wonders.
For it bedews what is parched, it heals what is wounded, it bends what is stiff, it warms what is cold, it guides what is gone astray.
It is the light of hearts, the best of consolers, a delightful guest of the soul, a sweet refreshment: it is rest in toil, it is a tempering in heat, it is a comfort in mourning.
It sanctifies and elevates innocent souls in a wonderful manner. Remember John, the beloved Disciple, who, at the Supper, reclined upon My Breast; how,-----entranced with love,-----he winged his flight as the eagle.
Remember Martha, who ministered to Me; how, inspired with love, like the heliotrope, she was ever turned toward Me; exhaling the fragrance of every virtue.
Remember the holy Virgins consecrated to Me: how, raised by love above all things of the world, they became a spectacle, wherewith God was delighted, at which the Angels rejoiced, whereby the hearts of mortals were moved toward Me.
Nay more, this same love covers a multitude of sins, destroys them; and of very sinners makes Saints. Witness the Magdalen, who, by purity of love, was changed into a new creature, loving with
Witness Peter, who, making amends by love for his denial, became the Prince of the chosen Apostles, the Shepherd of My sheep and lambs, the guide of holiness.
Witness Paul, who, transformed by love, glowing with love, ran through the world, like a fire among the dry stubble, and spread the flames of love among all nations.
7. My Child, love is learnt by loving: if thou desirest to make great progress in the art of Divine love, love much.
Do not rest satisfied with a dry love, which possesses no unction: cherish a love full of affection. It does not, indeed, depend upon thee to feel a sensible love; but if thou dost cherish it, thou canst always possess an affectionate love.
Thou wilt cherish it by praying devoutly, by asking frequently for the gift, or the increase of the gift, of love; by conversing with Me, more by affection than by reflection, by pouring out the heart rather than by busying the mind before Me.
Thou wilt cherish it by possessing a feeling of gratitude for all the favors thou hast received from Me: life, preservation, all the gifts of nature: redemption, vocation, grace, all the means of salvation; in short, all supernatural favors.
Thou wilt cherish it by having ever present before thy mind how greatly I have loved thee, how much I have done for thee, how much I have suffered for !bee: what I have given for thee, what I have prepared for thee in time and eternity: how mercifully, how kindly, how gently, I have so often specially dealt with thee.
Thou wilt cherish it by remembering Who and What I am: in Whom the Angels and Saints in Heaven, and the Elect on earth, ever find their blessedness: Who-----as Heaven and earth, and all things therein contained, cry out with one consent,-----deserve to be loved with thy whole heart, with all thy strength.
8. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Jesus! O love! what marvelous, what Divine, what delightful things dost Thou disclose out of Thy Heart!
O my Saviour God! who am I, and who art Thou? Would it not be much, yea even too much, shouldst Thou merely suffer Thyself to be loved by me?
And,-----lest, perhaps, I might doubt, whether it be allowed to me, a wretched creature, to aspire to
a place in Thy Divine Heart,-----Thou hast commanded me to love Thee. O love! O prodigy of love! O delight! O most sweet Jesus!
And shall I not love Thee? shall I not hold Thee supremely dear? Yea, O Jesus, with all my heart will I love Thee: with all my strength will I cherish Thee.
All that I am; all I possess; all Thy gifts and blessings; Heaven and earth; all things incite me to love Thee, but naught so much as Thou Thyself,-----Who art the cause and the end, the object and the reward of love.
O Lord Jesus! I have no other ambition than to excel in love for Thee, than to rival the Angels themselves in their love for Thee.
Let others surpass me in all other things: I will bear it easily, I will suffer it willingly: but how shall I endure this one thing, to be below others in love for Thee? how shall I bear it?
Oh then! Jesus, Beloved of my heart! may I become alike to Thee, all love, all one with Thee by love.
O my Jesus! who shall grant me, that I may enkindle the whole world with Thy love! that I may draw the hearts of all to Thee; inflame them with love for Thee!
Grant, I beseech Thee, that we all may live by love for Thee, and, in Thy love, may spend with Thee a blissful eternity.
CHAPTER XXVI. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, TEACHES US TO EXERT OURSELVES TO MAKE PROGRESS IN VIRTUE
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Behold, My Child, I have done all things well. The things which were pleasing to My Father, I did always.
Did I ever stand still in those things, so long as I lived? Now, then, whosoever desires to remain with Me, must also walk as I did walk. For, if he stands still, whilst I am walking, how can he remain with Me?
My Child, true virtue stands never still in this life: for, if it neglects to make further progress, it is either a failing or lukewarmness.
Let him who is just, be justified still: and let him who is holy, be still sanctified.
How much soever, therefore, anyone may have advanced in virtue, he must and can advance still further. For, either something better can be done by a person; or the end of his actions can become purer through love, the object of which is infinite: or the different circumstances of the actions may be performed in a manner more excellent.
Hence, My Child, if thou examinest thyself with an upright heart, thou shalt find sufficient matter to humble thyself, when thou findest that thou hast often been deficient in some part; and thou shalt have, at the same time, a powerful incentive to make progress for love of Me,-----Who lovingly approves, and reward in a liberal manner, whatever is good in thy works; Who endures, or even pardons, when asked in a contrite manner, that which is defective.
2. Do not measure thy progress by natural facility, or sensible devotion, or any other natural disposition whatsoever: all these things are unreliable and deceitful.
But do thou measure, reliably and safely, thy progress in virtue, by the efforts which thou makest, generously to overcome or deny thyself for love of Me.
Beware, My Child, lest thou be satisfied with virtues merely natural. For these, since they spring from nature, can neither bear everlasting fruits, not produce flowers of Heaven: and, if they put forth any buds, or bear anything, it is only for time which soon vanishes away.
Every planting which God has not set out; every plant which does not spring from Divine grace,-----shall be rooted up.
Advance thou toward things more perfect, by means of solid and supernatural virtues, which, sprung from the principle of grace, become strong and perfect by generous and repeated acts,-----blossom, and bear fruit exceedingly, for life everlasting.
That which is more perfect in itself, is not always better for thee: but that is ever more useful to thee which proceeds from the Divine Will, and, by means of true virtues, helps thee to reach thy end.
Some there are who place progress in multiplying their practices of piety: others make it consist in performing different things. And all these, so far from making any progress, are not rarely wont
to go backward; both because perfection does not consist in these things,-----as they are simply means of perfection; and because, being hindered by the multiplicity and unsuitableness of the means, they are unable to reach the goal.
3. Assuredly, My Child, more perfect in My sight is the simple servant-maid,-----who, through love for Me, does that which, according to her state and employment, the Divine Will requires,-----than the religious person, who, neglectful of the duties of her calling and office, passes days and nights in prayer, or in shedding tears, through feelings of devotion.
If thou desirest to perform thy employment properly, first of all, esteem and love it,-----not because it suits thy inclination, but because it is the Divine Will, which renders even the least things both excellent and precious. For, unless thou esteemest the same, thou wilt not long love it: if thou dost not love it, thou wilt not long discharge it properly; because,-----when the understanding and will do not help but rather oppose thee,-----thou canst not long act and suffer in a befitting manner.
Again, do not have for object,-----nor seek in or by it,-----thyself, or the gratifications of nature: but Me, and the fulfillment of My Will.
Moreover, perform all the duties of thy employment, firmly indeed in the action,-----being intent on obtaining the end according to the Divine good pleasure;-----but gently in the manner, remaining ever tranquil in the use of the means.
Lastly, accustom thyself to do all things belonging to it for love of Me; Who am present, and ready to direct and help thee in particular circumstances. Thus thou wilt perform all more easily and securely, and pecsevere in so doing.
But whether thou fulfillest the obligations of thy state, or appliest thyself to spiritual exercises, let thy chief care be to do all this well. Here lies the fruitful field of genuine virtues: here is the plentiful harvest of true merits.
If thou neglectest this, remember that all other extraordinary things are deceitful. Neither miracles, nor prophecies, nor ecstasies, nor other gifts of what kind soever,-----shouldst thou possess these,-----are able to sanctify thee.
4. My Child, if thou art really solicitous about thy progress, thou must will it efficaciously. For perfection, and progress therein, after grace, cannot come, except from a heart that wills it.
If thy heart do not will efficiently, no means shall ever be able to make thee perfect; thou canst not come to Me by compulsion, but only by affection.
Call to mind how many Saints, amidst the greatest obstacles, with few outward means, have reached the very height of virtue; because their heart thirsted unceasingly for perfection.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice; for they shall have their fill! If anyone thirsts after this, let him come to My Heart, and drink of the fountain of living water, springing up into life everlasting.
Come, My Child, and taste at this fountain, how pleasant it is to serve Me by love: and as, after tasting honey, all other nourishment seems lacking in sweetness, so, when thou hast once tasted the sweetness of My Divine love, all the food of corrupt nature will become bitter to thee.
Pray, My Child, pray fervently, that thou mayst be enlightened from above to understand the exceeding value of perfection; and that thou mayst be enkindled with a ceaseless longing of attaining thereto.
Frequently, also, call to mind how many, and what powerful incentives urge thee on to greater
5. The voice ot the Disciple.-----Which are those, Lord?
The voice of Jesus.-----Consider, My Child, Who He is Whom thou servest: how lovely, by reason of His infinite perfections,-----which ravish the very hearts of the inhabitants of Heaven; and thou shalt be aroused to My service, so full of love and sweetless.
Remember the favors of every kind which I heaped upon thee through pure charity: and, if thy heart has not lost all sense of feeling, thou wilt love Me, in return, with singular gratefulness.
Weigh the enormity and multitude of thy sins, which I pardoned thee, with a Heart so paternal; and wilt thou think, after this, that thou canst ever do enough for Me?
Think on the manifold and continued unhappiness of them that are lying in sin and lukewarmness; and again, on the unuttered felicity of them that serve Me with fervent love.
Look upon the marvelous beauty of virtue, and the unspeakable ugliness of vice: how the former unites men with Angels, and the latter makes them alike to demons.
Meditate on the shortness of this life, and the eternity of the life to come: the certainty of death, and the uncertainty of its hour.
Ponder, with mind and heart, what it is to be in hell without end: what it means to be in Heaven throughout all eternity: and remember that the one or the other awaits thee.
My Child, if thou dost frequently and attentively consider these things, so as to keep them ever fresh before thee, thou wilt hasten on to further progress.
6. But in many ways is a person turned away from progress. For the most part, however, he beigins to go astray, either because he suffers the love; of Me to grow lukewarm in his heart,-----by neglecting the fervent practices of an inward life; or because, for the sake of indulging nature, he refuses to overcome or deny himself in some thing. There are some who do not, indeed, forsake the road of progress; but who, in various ways, retard their successful career. In this manner do they stand still, who, whilst they should be hastening onward, squander their time, in looking, with self-delight, over the distance which they have already passed.
My Child, forget the things which are behind, being certain to whom thou hast intrusted them: and pass over the remainder of thy journey with unwearied steps.
They, also, are hindered from advancing, who proceed so cautiously, that they appear desirous of examining, at every step, where to set their foot. But, My Child, trust thou rather in Me than in thyself; and, using a reasonable diligence, with a courageous effort of Divine love, fly thou forward through every obstacle toward thy end.
They, too, are kept back, who frighten the imagination and fetter the heart by future difficulties, which, perhaps, will never occur; so that, through fear and faintheartedness, they hardly dare or can move. My Child, sufficient for the day is the evil thereof: today, therefore, advance thou cheerfully: leave the future tomorrow to Me: I will provide.
7. Remember, My Child, that, by the weight of nature, thou art ever prone to a certain inactivity, or indolent repose. Often, therefore, thou must stir up the will by the fervor of the spirit, and take fresh courage.
If thou yieldest to this natural indolence, if thou givest up the efficacious will of perfection, thou wilt no longer perform anything worthy of a Disciple of My Heart: thou shalt begin to grow sluggish, to fall away, to be filled with misries, and to experience unhappiness.
A soul possessed of a resolute will, fervent and cheerful, acquires in a few months, that degree of virtue, to which a slothful soul, ever in distress and groaning, cannot attain in many years.
My Child, if thou possessest a determined will of always advancing, thou hast reason to rejoice exceedingly. For a good will of this sort is a manifest proof of the divine friendship. And this is the sweetest and, at the same time, the most solid of all consolations.
8. The voice of the Disciple.-----O good Master, most sweet Jesus, model of every virtue! I feel wholly confounded, for that I have not yet taken pains to conform myself perfectly to Thee, although I have long made profession of being Thy Disciple.
Have pity on me, Lord; suffer not, I beseech Thee, that I succumb to lukewarmness, yield to natural indolence, or be impeded by any other hindrance: but arouse me, goad me on, impel me by Thy grace.
Give me the fervor of Thy Heart; kindle in my heart the fire, which Thou camest to cast on earth; that I may love Thee more ardently, that I may be more perfectly conformed to Thee, that I may follow Thee more closely.
Renew me wholly, I entreat Thee; take away my slothful and wretched spirit, and enliven me with Thy Spirit,-----the Spirit of an everglowing love, ever cheerful,-----that never suffers me to grow sluggish, but urges me on strongly and gently to a more perfect Imitation of Thyself,-----Who alone art the way and the goal of everlasting bliss.