THE THIRD BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL TO IMITATE THE MOST SACRED HEART
OF JESUS IN HIS LIFE OF SUFFERING
CHAPTER I. HOW GREATLY WE SHOULD ESTEEM HOLINESS, AND HOW MUCH
WE SHOULD STRIVE AFTER IT
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Be thou holy, My Child, because I am holy. Whosoever longs to be a perfect Disciple of My Heart, strives to become holy, as I also am holy, by an interior, true, and solid holiness.
Holiness is a great good, it contains all blessings desirable upon earth, and begets everlasting bliss in Heaven.
Holiness is the completion of virtue, the guardian of sanctifying grace, the preserver of inward peace, the nurse of the heart's joy, and of ever-enduring happiness.
Holiness is true wisdom, real glory, inexhaustible wealth.
To be the least of the Saints is something incomparably greater than to be the greatest of the whole
What is there in this world that can justly be compared with holiness? not science, not dignity, not renown, not the possession of all riches. For all these things are only of earth, they last but for a
moment; like vapors in the air, they glisten and soon disappear. But holiness is heaven-born and permanent, it glitters before the inhabitants of Heaven like the sun; yea, when the sun fades away, it shall continue to shine for evermore.
Let not, then, the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the strong man glory in his strength, let not the rich man glory in his wealth: but he that glories, let him glory in this, that he knows and loves Me; that, through love, he follows Me, and thus sanctifies himself.
My Child, if thou understandest not these things at present thou shalt understand them later, even in spite of thyself,-----when, at the near approach of death, thou shalt entertain more correct sentiments.
Tell Me, if this day thou hadst to die, which wouldst thou rather desire, to be a Saint, or to have
been a king or a Pope? Would to God,-----exclaimed, when dying, one who had been a ruler, and had some experience in the matter,-----would to God that I had never been a ruler, but, in its stead, the least of God's holy servants! Would, sighed another, that I had not worn the tiara, but had passed my life in the kitchen of some house consecrated to God!
Thou canst not value holiness too highly, since I Myself have held it in such esteem that, to make it possible and easy, I poured out the treasures of My Heart, multiplied the means at My greatest costs, and ordered all things for the sanctification of the Elect.
Do thou, therefore, aspire to so great a good, My Child: and strive, magnanimously, to become a Saint.
2. The voice of the Disciple.-----I become a Saint, Lord! Ah me, Lord Jesus! for that, I have sinned too much during my life. And would it not be pride to feel such a presumption? and, moreover, I am so weak that I am unable to perform anything worthy of sanctity.
The voice of Jesus.-----Dost thou say these things of Thyself, My Child, or have others suggested it to thee? If of thyself, thou art mistaken: if at the suggestion of others, thou hast been deceived.
And first, if thou hast sinned during thy life, behold! this is a new reason why thou shouldst sanctify thyself, that thus, by the future, thou mayst make amends for the past.
But, My Child, there is no question of what thou hast been, but of what thou oughtest to be hereafter.
How many souls there are that, after having committed sins, have reached, in a shorter time, a higher degree of perfection than others that have ever remained innocent! And this, because they used the remembrance of the sins which they had unfortunately committed, and which had been most mercifully forgiven by Me, as a spur, to urge and goad themselves on to sanctity.
The sins that have been committed are, therefore, not only no hindrances, but, if thou art willing, may be instruments of holiness.
Besides, My Child, to strive after the perfection of virtue, to aspire to sanctity, is not pride nor presumption, but greatness, but nobleness of soul, without which no one is worthy to be a Disciple of My Heart.
These things I say: and take heed which of the two thou wilt believe, Me, or the spirit, thy enemy, who suggests the contrary.
Beware, My Child, lest, after being deluded, thou become fainthearted, and, consequently, incapable of aspiring to those things which alone are most deserving of the aspirations of every noble heart.
Raise thy courage, cast aside all littleness of heart, and cherish sentiments worthy of a Disciple of My Heart.
Lastly, if thou art weak, am not I strong? If thou canst not undergo austerities, art thou unable to love? If thou canst not act, art thou unable to suffer? Now, it is most of all by loving and by suffering that holiness is acquired.
It is not by extraordinary works, not by miracles; but, by love, a patient love, that the sanctification of the soul is chiefly promoted.
Endeavor, for love of Me, to suffer patiently whatsoever I Myself may choose, and give thee to endure: and, behold! thou shalt become a Saint.
If the things which the world calls great could be acquired with as much facility, what worldling would not secure their possession?
3. A constant desire of making progress, a continual striving after holiness, is rightly thought to constitute man's sanctity in their life.
None is perfect in holiness, who does not exert himself to become more perfect: and the more one aims at greater perfection, the more holy does he prove himself to be. Wherefore, My Child, the perfection of holiness is not the work of a day or a week. Do not, then, imagine that thou shalt be perfect in so short a time. For, by expecting this, and finding thyself afterward disappointed, thou mightest lose heart, or even be dangerously tempted to desist from further attempts. Perfection is the joint work of Divine grace and man's co-operation. Now, the goodness of My Heart, which wills that thou shouldst be a Saint, is much more inclined bountifully to bestow grace upon thee than thou art to ask for the same: nay, even of Its own accord, It pours grace upon thee. The more faithfully, therefore, thou co-operatest with grace, the shorter the time in which thou shalt gain possession of sanctity.
4. If thou hast a constant and effectual will of sanctifying thyself, naught can hinder thee from becoming a Saint. Whatever may be thy natural inclination, thou wilt acquire holiness, not by the disposition of thy character, but by the co-operation with grace through thy free will. Neither thy character, nor thy state of life, nor thy employment, will hinder thee, if, with a generous fidelity of heart, thou co-operatest with Divine grace. Behold! great multitudes, which no one can count, have, by this fidelity, sanctified themselves in the religious state; and millions have become Saints, even in the midst of the world. By this fidelity, a Henry became a Saint in the camp; a Casimir, at the Court; an Elzear, amid intercourse with the world; an Isidore, in the fields; an Agnes, in the city; a Mary, in the country; a Catherine, in her father's house; a Christiana, in bondage.
Neither does holiness depend on being inscribed in the Catalogue of the Blessed or Saints; because this does not make the Saint, but simply declares to men that he was such. If thou art a Saint in Heaven; being perfectly conformed to the Divine good pleasure, thou wilt, of thyself, care little whether or not thy name is found on earth registered in the Canon.
Neither, in fine, can temptations and difficulties present an obstacle. For, whatsoever Hell can contrive, whatsoever the world may attempt against thee, all this, if thou art willing, shall be made to contribute to thy sanctification.
5. It is indeed true that he who desires to acquire holiness should avoid all, even the slightest, sins: but involuntary faults, which arise from human frailty, are no hindrances to perfection.
Even the greatest Saints were not altogether free from such miseries: and, so long as they lived upon earth, they experienced the frailty of their human nature.
Be not, then, troubled and uneasy about these things, wherein the will does not consciously take any part: a person may be very perfect, although he frequently offends involuntarily.
According to the example of the Saints, lessen involuntary defects as much as thou canst, and, with quiet love, humble thyself thyself before Me for these faults: in this manner thou wilt deprive profit from them for thy progress.
6. This being so, My Child, hearken thou to none who, under some pretense or other, may turn thee from the pursuit of holiness,-----neither to thyself, nor to any mortal, nor any spirit whatsoever. But, with a generous mind, that knows not despondency, continue to strive after interior sanctity.
This sanctity is so important a matter, so full of honor, and so grateful to Me, that sometimes one soul, thus sanctifying herself interiorly, glorifies Me more,-----is more pleasing to Me, and possesses more influence over My Heart,-----than a thousand others, that, although good, rest satisfied with an ordinary virtue.
Know thou, My Child, that holiness, to a certain degree, is really necessary to be admitted into the presence of the Divine Majesty; because, without holiness, none shall see God.
If thou dost not attain to this necessary holiness in the present life, thou must be purified with fire unto holiness in the life to come, before thou enterest Heaven,-----into which naught, except what is holy, can gain admittance.
Yet, for thy consolation, remember, My Child, that, if thou keepest a good and efficacious will of really sanctifying thyself, thou shalt not taste death, until thou hast acquired sanctity.
Meanwhile, never think that thou hast already attained to holiness, or that thou art perfect: but do thou ever advance and pursue the destined prize of thy supernal vocation.
Be of good courage, My Child, dare thou things worthy of a Disciple of My Heart: vie in zeal with the Saints, thy noble brothers and sisters. What thou art, they have been: what they are, thou canst be.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----I then, O Lord Jesus, even I, the least of men, must and can become a Saint.
Yea I must; because Thou commandest me so, because I am obliged to correspond to so many singular favors and graces, which Thou hast bestowed upon me; because I am bound to satisfy, as much as I am able, the unutterable obligations, which I owe to Thee, for the mercy shown to me after my many sins; because I must have a care of my salvation, and prepare myself for Heaven; but, more than all, because Thou art supremely worthy of all love and honor.
And I can; because Thou givest me abundant and efficacious means; because Thou, ready to supply all the rest, demandest naught, except that I make the attempt with a sincere will; because nothing can hinder me, unless I myself so will it; because all things whatsoever, if I will, can help me and cause me to advance; because, finally, the whole work of my sanctification is simply a labor of love, of love for Thee, of a love which renders all things possible, easy, delightful.
Therefore, I long to be a Saint, not that, on earth, I may be numbered among the Saints, but that, in Heaven, I may glorify Thee among the Elect: not so much through fear of pain or hope of reward, as through love for Thee, most kind and sweet Jesus,-----that I may the more love Thee, the more honor Thee, now and for evermore.
Behold! O Lord Jesus, I have the will to become a Saint; so long as I draw breath, I shall not cease to will it: I beg and entreat Thee, by Thy most Sacred Heart, help my good will.
CHAPTER II. THAT IN THIS LIFE ON ONE CAN LOVE WITHOUT SUFFERING
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, so long as thou livest upon earth, thou canst not be free from troubles.
What is this whole mortal life except affliction, which man enters weeping, through which he passes amid sufferings, from which he departs groaning?
Since man is born subject to death, it is not possible that he should pass his life without pain; because the source of suffering lies within himself.
The very condition of being subject to death naturally begets many and various miseries, diseases, and sufferings; which cannot cease to exist so long as that fruitful and effective cause remains.
All these things, however, manifold and irksome though they be, are of less importance. For, from the very bottom of corrupt nature worse things spring up,-----inordinate and perverse desires, which force man to feel, in spite of himself, that which he would fain not feel.
These are the passions, the sources of so many sufferings, which, inherent in the very heart, disturb the peace of many; which excite wars, horrid wars; which, by conflicting emotions, expose the soul to uncounted dangers and sorrows.
2. And how numerous are the torments which befall man from without, and which none can wholly escape!
Cold and heat, the difference of temperature, the thousand inconveniences arising from creatures, and many other effects of physical causes, which although they contribute to the general well-being, yet,-----through man's fault, in the state of fallen nature, and in the present order of things,-----cannot be brought about without some trouble to individuals.
And, amid all this, what mortal is not ofttimes burdened by labor, without which none can dwell here below, unless he be willing to be burdened still more?
Add and count up, if thou canst, the sorrows and calamities of every kind, which arise from the passions of others: and thou shalt behold on all sides troubles, which, unless thou overcome them, will overwhelm thee.
3. Indeed, My Child, since this mortal life is replete with hardships so numerous and so great, to not a few it would appear almost unbearable, if the spirit of religion did not suggest reasons for patience, and My Heart did not render it smooth, by the unction of grace.
Neither has all the wisdom of this world,-----although it has uttered many beautiful sayings concerning endurance and suffering,-----ever been able to invent and afford a remedy for them.
How many there have been who, whilst endeavoring to teach others, by discoursing eloquently on the endurance of afflictions, were themselves undone by afflictions!
Hence, what wonder that those, who are devoid of the spirit of religion and strangers to My Heart-----whether through unbelief or corruption-----should, at last, despair amid their troubles. and their reason being blinded, should wickedly terminate their miseries by the greatest of all-----an everlasting misfortune!
But religion renders all troubles both bearable and useful; since it teaches that, through the consoling effect of the wisdom and goodness of My Heart, that which was a just punishment of sin, and a just cause of grief to man, becomes a wholesome remedy against sin, and a plentiful harvest of merits.
The furnace tests metals. Fire hardens clay, but softens wax. The storm throws down the plant, but renders the tree, that is well-rooted, more firm.
So also, My Child, does tribulation try men. Affliction hardens the one, it softens the other. Opposition casts down some, it makes others more solid.
Affliction would lead all to bliss, if all were to receive it properly. If, on its account, anyone hastens on to destruction, it is his own fault, since, rightly borne, It would prove a sure road to sanctity, and, consequently, to true happiness.
4. But behold! My Child, every affliction has become much lighter and more consoling, since, by My own afflictions, I sanctified affliction, and walk before those who suffer affliction,-----as well by the example of My life, as by the promise of reward, and the aid and consolation of grace.
By My example the Saints learnt the secret of suffering rightly, and the art of converting evil into good.
Hence they learnt, by experience, that afflictions were even sweet to them, and derived such a longing to suffer for love of Me, that they were unwilling to live without suffering, and overflowed with joy in their every tribulation.
Canst not thou also aspire to the like, My Child? Is not this My interest as well as thy own? What fearest thou? Behold! no afflictions can reach thy heart if they have not first passed through Mine: and, by so doing, they lose all their power of hurting, and become imbued with the divine virtue of consolation.
5. Take heed, My Child, lest by the sourness of thy heart thou embitter afflictions, when they come from My Heart imbued with sweetness.
Suffering is necessary: there is no choice: but whether to suffer well or ill, whether after the manner of the Elect or after that of the reprobate, whether for thy sanctification or for thy condemnation, this is optional with thee, this, My Child, depends upon thy choice.
Prepare thyself: nay, be ready for annoyances, which cease not to occur, and shall never cease.
Do not believe that thou shalt ever have a day without some trouble; since there can never be a day without its supply of malice.
Neither do thou imagine, that with whatsoever efforts thou mayst make, thou shalt be enabled to escape.
Even if thou withdraw into the wilderness alone, or cross the sea, or hide thyself in the uttermost boundaries of the earth, misery shall be thy companion everywhere, and shall ever follow thee as its cause or occasion, like a shadow pursues the body.
Wherefore, My Child, if thou art wise, endeavor to make that useful which thou canst not avoid, by bearing the cross of thy affliction with an even and well-disposed mind, as did the Saints, and by cheerfully following My footsteps.
6. If thou wilt undergo tribulation with ease and profit, do it for love of Me: this love will take away the heaviness and bitterness of thy cross, and, by its virtue, will sanctify thy cross, and thyself through its means.
Whoso does not suffer his afflictions for love of Me, will not long carry his cross with alacrity; but he will soon begin either to drag it along, toiling and groaning, or, overburdened by it, he will sink down in his wretchedness.
If thou findest any difficulty in so suffering, My Child, come thou to My Heart, and pray. Here thou shalt obtain relief, love, the unction of grace.
My Child, hitherto I have never ceased telling thee, nor will I cease to repeat it, do thou pray, do not fail to pray.
For behold! in prayer is everything: by prayer thou art freed from evils: by prayer thou obtainest all good things; in prayer thou hast a remedy for misfortune; by prayer sorrow is soothed; in prayer thou securest consolation and perseverance.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----There is, then, no escape, Lord Jesus: it is necessary to suffer either willingly or reluctantly. If I suffer willingly, I shall feel it less: if I suffer with reluctance, I add a greater burden.
Wherefore, I must hold my heart ready to suffer, unless I desire to render myself wretched to no purpose.
Although the necessity of suffering appears sometimes hard, yet its advantage, which will sanctify me in life, and render me blissful during all eternity, is abundantly sufficient to arouse and stimulate my heart.
But if I love Thee, O most sweet Jesus, the sole thought of Thee will induce me to follow Thee with joy and alacrity, that I may be with Thee, that I may be assimilated to Thee, that I may give a proof of my love, that I may enjoy Thy love.
O Jesus, infinite sweetness! near Thee even bitterness becomes sweet: for behold! by Thy Own suffering, Thou didst take away and reserve for Thyself whatever is bitterest in afflictions; and whatsoever of relish or sweetness there is in them Thou didst leave to us.
O Jesus most compassionate, Who didst love me so much, I entreat Thee, give me the sentiments of Thy Heart, that I may sanctify all my sufferings and promote, by their means, Thy honor and my own perfection.
CHAPTER III. HOW THE MOST SACRED HEART HEART OF JESUS FELT DISPOSED
IN REGARD TO SUFFERINGS
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Consider, My Child, what were the sentiments of My Heart in suffering, and strive to imitate them.
Behold! during My mortal life, My Heart was ever suffering and rejoicing at the same time.
Understand what I say, My Child. I speak not of My Divine Will, since it was exempt from suffering, and incapable of it; but of My human will. For by this I practiced virtues: by this I acquired merits: by this I wrought the Redemption of men.
From the first existence of My Humanity, My Heart possessed the fullness of joy, by reason of the Vision of the Divinity hypostatically united to It, which It ever enjoyed, and whereby I was supremely blissful: and, at the same time, by a special dispensation, My Heart was suffering, in view of the cruelty and bitterness of the Passion, which It was to undergo.
Moreover, at the same time, but under a different aspect, My Heart was grieved and rejoiced at Its sorrowful and bitter Passion. It was grieved, inasmuch as the sufferings were painful and disagreeable to My Humanity: It was rejoiced, inasmuch as God had willed and ordained them for the salvation of men.
For My Heart was endowed with a human will, which, although one in itself, was, as it were, twofold in its operation: the one inferior,-----which of itself shrunk and fled from things distressful to the human nature: the other, superior, which, for loftier motives, deliberately loved and embraced those same painful things.
Both parts, the inferior as well as the superior, were ever upright, never ill-ordered, nor weakened by any defect whatsoever.
The inferior, which regarded and desired the good and advantage of its own nature, and dreaded and shunned the sufferings of nature and death, at the same time, allowed itself to be guided by the superior.
The superior rendered the inferior, as well as itself submissive, and conformed to the Divine Will. Hence the supernatural acts of virtues performed: hence merits: hence the plentifulness of the treasures of grace accumulated for men.
Remember, My Child, that thou possessest a similar will, not, indeed, equally perfect and unimpaired, yet truly free: and that in the same thou also findest an inferior and a superior part.
2. My Child, thou dost not always, nor at the same time, know all thou shalt have to suffer. It happens, through a special kindness and mercy that, for the most part, thou dost not see them, except when they come upon thee, that thus thou mayst bear them the more easily one by one. But My suffering was ever in My sight. Wherever I was, all My future torments were constantly before My eyes.
For at no time was hidden from Me, all that the prophets had foretold I was to suffer, all that the ancient types and figures had foreshowed, all that the wickedness of the world and of Hell was to attempt, all the horrid tortures for which the sins of men were crying out, all that the insulted glory of My heavenly Father required, all that thy own wants, My Child, demanded.
All, and each of these things, were before My eyes, and pressed unceasingly upon My Heart.
But the love of My Heart brought it to pass, that I willingly endured and bore all.
Love rendered everything savory to Me: labors and watchings, insults and mockeries, scourgings and thorns. the cross, and whatsoever things were prepared by the Divine Will for the blissfulness of men.
Lo, My Child, the chief disposition of My Heart, love for God and for men. From this source flowed all Its other dispositions.
3. Hence arose that inexhaustible patience of My Heart, whereby I endured, without bitter feeling or complaint, so many things, so cruel and undeserved. For love is patient; charity endures all things.
Hence, amid all My sorrows and afflictions, the resignation of Heart to the Divine good pleasure. For, with My Will, conformed by love to the Divine Will, I was ready willingly to undergo everything.
Hence My joy amid suffering. For he that loves, and understands the goodness of the object beloved, is glad when he possesses the same. But My Heart understood perfectly the excellence of the Divine Will; therefore, too, It delighted to fulfill it, even amid many and various sufferings. Hence the supernatural longing of My Heart for suffering. For true love desires to testify effectually its sincerity, tenderness, and fidelity; therefore My Heart was forever goaded on by love,-----always desiring to consummate that Passion which was for God, and should remain for man, a manifest and ever-enduring proof of the sincerity, the tenderness, the fidelity, yea, of the excess of My love.
4. But, My Child, the love of My Heart went even beyond this. For to ravish the hearts of men, by its excess, and to inflame them with its own fire, this is what It willed, this is what I coveted.
I had come to cast a fire upon the earth, and what did I will, except that it should be kindled? For this I had the Baptism of My Blood, living and boiling hot, wherewith I was to be Baptized. My Passion, I mean, into which I was to be immersed, and plunged completely.
And how was I straitened, until it were accomplished! How was My Heart burning to open that heated hath, which by its wonderful power should cleanse, warm, stimulate, and enkindle the hearts of men!
This bath cleansed and inflamed the Apostles and Martyrs, the holy Confessors and Virgins, who were ready, with a pure heart, to suffer all things, to follow Me through afflictions, mortifications, a thousand torments, a thousand deaths.
And cannot also thy heart be enkindled, My Child? For this did I, all along, love thee so much, that I might inflame thee to love Me in return, that I might gain for Myself thy love.
5. My Child, if thou wouldst more frequently and more attentively consider to what a degree I have loved thee, and how many more reasons thou hast to love Me than I have to love thee, thou wouldst, doubtless, be excited to requite My love with thine.
And, if love do once take possession of thy heart, it will produce therein sentiments, with respect to sufferings, akin to the sentiments of My Heart.
The more thou lovest Me, the better wilt thou feel disposed toward sufferings: and with how much the more willing a heart thou sufferest, the more perfectly wilt thou love Me.
If it happen that thou relishest not the sentiments of My Heart, with respect to afflictions, it is a sign that thy heart is not healthful, nay, that it is ill-affected: and, upon examination, thou shalt find that the cause thereof is that thy heart, devoid of Divine warmth, is benumbed by the coldness of a certain indifference, or is feverous with the vitiated fire of self-love.
However, from the very fact that thou art still so ill-disposed, that thou art unable to taste and relish those things which are so worthy of great souls, take thou occasion to bestir and stimulate thyself courageously.
And desire, and covet at least, that thy heart may become animated with the same sentiments that pervade Mine.
6. Pray frequently and fervently, even though nature struggle against it, that thou mayst be enabled to understand the worth of these sentiments, and love the priceless advantage of them.
If, in thus praying, thou art sincere, the eyes of thy mind shall be opened, so as to see clearly that the wisdom of the world,-----which abhors the love of wholesome humiliations and mortifications,-----is true folly; but that the salutary love, which I Myself, coming down from Heaven, taught by word and example, is purest wisdom.
And if thou perseverest in prayer, plentiful grace shall be bestowed upon thee, religiously to embrace tribulations, and to endure them in a holy manner.
Be not, however, satisfied with prayer alone: but endeavor also, according to the amount of grace, and of thy strength, to deny thyself,-----to endure afflictions, and to carry the cross with Me.
Blessed is he who relishes sufferings which may sanctify him! He certainly is taught rather by Divine unction, than by human skill; he is animated rather by grace, than by nature.
There is nothing, My Child, whereby the true Disciples of My Heart are better distinguished, than by esteem and love of sufferings for My sake.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----O good Jesus, how great was the charity of Thy Heart for me! How unselfish Thy love! How great Thy thirst for my felicity! What things Thou didst suffer, and with how pure a love! and all for me, to redeem me, to teach me, to console me, to unite me with Thee by love!
And can I ever forget Thee? Can I ever love Thee enough? It is little, I own, but meet and just, that I love Thee with my whole heart, that by love I follow Thee even amidst adversity, even unto death.
But, behold! my Saviour God, I feel that I need great grace, to be able to love sufferings, and to follow the sentiments of Thy Heart amid sufferings.
Unless I be helped from above, I cannot with merit deny myself,-----neither in great things nor in small,-----embrace the cross with joy, overcome the feelings of nature, and accompany Thee throughout,
even unto death.
But since Thou invitest, nay even callest me to this: give me abundant grace, I beseech Thee, that thereby I may be enabled to effect what I cannot do of myself.
Widen, therefore, my heart and implant, bountifully and deeply, therein the sentiments of Thy suffering Heart, that I, too, with a meek and humble heart, may love to suffer for love of Thee, whatsoever Thou mayst give me to endure.
CHAPTER IV. WHAT ADVANTAGES THERE ARE IN SUFFERING WELL
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, to thee it is given to understand the secrets of My Heart, to enter devoutly into them, to direct them fully to thy progress.
Hear, then, the secrets which are hidden from the world: learn thou the good things which worldlings understand not.
Behold, walking in the way of the Cross, I the Creator have gone before My creatures; I the Redeemer before those whom I had set free; I a Father before My children; and to all men have I made it known, that, whosoever is willing to be a partaker of the unutterable bliss which awaits Me, at the end of the journey, should, with the proper interior disposition of heart, deny himself, and follow Me.
But many hearing this, have said at all times: This is a hard saying, and who can hear it? And, thenceforth, many withdrew and walked with Me no more.
The Saints, however, and all they that were really willing to sanctify themselves, received My invitation with a thankful heart, and judged that their happiness, even upon earth, consisted in being with Me in suffering with Me, and in persevering with Me through every trial unto the end.
2. And, indeed, My Child, what good is there on earth, which may not be found in suffering with
Me? Here is true glory: a glory which is worthy ot the Divine approval: a glory which does not pass
away with this world: a glory which shall endure and be exalted for evermore.
This is the hidden treasure, wherewith is bought the kingdom of Heaven, with its entire unending blessedness.
This is the pure delight, exceeding all the feelings. For if thou arrivest at this, that thou rejoicest in suffering with Me, thou obtainest possession of a spiritual Paradise of delights upon earth.
3. Whilst everything flows on according to nature's inclinations, and whilst no trouble oppresses the heart, a person is wont to cling to creatures, to turn rarely toward Me, and to feel it irksome to busy himself with the things of eternity.
But when he labors under adversity, and is pressed by afflictions, he turns again to his heart; he perceives how vain, how perishable are all the things of this world; he flies for aid to Me, Whom he finds, by experience, most of all needed by himself.
Therefore, My Child, the kind Providence of My Heart is wont so to act, that they who are affluent with the possessions of this world, do not enjoy them without inconvenience, in order that thus they may be excited the more easily and effectively to seek the treasures of the life to come.
For, if they possessed a quiet and undisturbed felicity amid worldly riches, they would, perhaps. not even think of laying up heavenly treasures.
It is, then, a merciful dispensation, that evils abound in the world, lest the world might be loved, and its votaries might perish.
4. As fire consumes rust, and purifies gold, so sufferings exhaust and deaden the passions, and render virtues more pure and precious.
By tribulation properly endured, My Child, thou redeemest thy sins, and thou satisfiest the Divine justice, for punishments still due: in so much, that, in this manner, thou canst have here a slight and consoling Purgatory, from which, through the gates of death, thou mayst deserve to wing thy flight to joys everlasting.
What is there that can make thee merit more, than sufferings endured with a proper disposition of heart? For, behold! light and momentary tribulations work out for thee an ever-enduring weight of glory.
Every affliction will add a new jewel to thy heavenly crown, which shall glitter with as many rays as thou hast performed acts of virtue.
In adversity, man is freed from many false notions and errors, and instructed in many ways. Happy he that, in the school of affliction, is taught to be wise in all things!
What does he know, who has never experienced adversity, has never endured aught, either inwardly or outwardly? And wherein can he be useful in counselor guidance either to himself or to others?
5. Wherefore, Child, do not lose courage, when thou art tried or reproved by Me. For whomsoever I love, him do I lovingly reprove, in order to train him; and, in him, as a Father in His son am I well-pleased.
Thou shouldst, therefore, justly be glad amid sufferings, since therein thou mayst have an indication of My esteem for thee, and a token of the fatherly love of My Heart.
There is scarcely aught else to be found which produces a greater confidence in My Heart, or a freer access to It, than to suffer willingly for My sake.
When thou art about to die, My Child, thou wilt rejoice over no circumstance of thy life so securely, nor find so safe a consolation in aught else, as in the most agreeable remembrance of having suffered much with Me.
6. Very many study to shun the way of humiliation and affliction; pleading as an excuse, that they can both better glorify God and help their neighbor, in a more agreeable way.
What a delusion! They do not seek God nor their neighbor, but themselves. For the glory of God and the salvation of the neighbor are not to be promoted according to man's, but according to God's good pleasure.
Now, God indicated to His Son the manner of glorifying on earth His Majesty, and of saving the lost world. And this manner the Son followed by suffering and by suffering He made it known to man.
My Child, do thou follow this path which I Myself have trodden and showed to thee. And that thou mayst be able to keep it, pray thou frequently and fervently.
But whilst praying, ponder thou devoutly all My sorrows of every kind, and the supernatural dispositions of My Heart all the while.
Do not consult merely natural inclinations or purely human feelings; but, by means of supernatural principles, elevate thyself above sensible things, and view tribulations as sent by the Divine Will, and, inasmuch as thou art able, embrace them affectionately.
Courage, then, My Child; cheer on thy heart. Behold Me, and all the Saints with Me, cheerfully treading the path of sufferings. Be thou bold to follow. With Me nothing is to be feared; the company is select; the way safe; the goal certain; the reward everlasting.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord Jesus! who will not be roused up to follow Thee? Who does not feel his heart burning within him, whilst Thou utterest these things about the way?
But it is one thing to be enkindled by Thee, and another to follow Thee; it is one thing to meditate and quite a different one to act: yea, it is one thing to know virtue, and another to practice the same.
I acknowledge that the love of sufferings is a most excellent virtue; I admire it in my mind, I do even love it in my heart; but, when an occasion of actually practicing it presents itself, behold! self-love begins forthwith to torment me, secret pride darkens my understanding and forces upon me a thousand excuses, a thousand specious pretenses. Whilst thus I am miserably struggling with myself, the chance of suffering something for Thy sake flies away, and, I must confess it to my shame, I frequently wish myself joy if I escape unharmed from the struggle.
O most kind Jesus! look Thou graciously, I beseech Thee, upon this my misery and grant me in Thy mercy to be able, by Thy grace, to do that which, by my frailty, I cannot effect.
Great is my weakness, great the power of my refractory nature, which shrinks from the very thought of pain or humiliation.
But the reason why I am so weak and sluggish,-----tso that I dare not go contrary to nature,-----tis that I do not love Thee sufficiently.
O most sweet Jesus! were I to love Thee, like Thy Saints, how easy, how pleasant even, would it be to triumph over the repugnance of nature!
Grant me, therefore, I pray Thee, this singular grace, that I may love Thee with a more perfect love,-----with a love courageous and generous; that it may strongly attract me,-----despite the opposition of nature,-----through all hardships, to Thee, O Jesus, my life, my delight, my beatitude.