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THE THIRD BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL TO IMITATE THE MOST SACRED HEART
OF JESUS IN HIS LIFE OF SUFFERING
CHAPTER XIII. HOW IT BEHOOVES US TO IMITATE THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS , SO FAR AS TO BE WILLING TO BE CONSIDERED AS FOOLS, WITH HIM AND FOR HIS SAKE
1. The voice of Jesus.-----When it was morning, My Child, behold! all the chiefs ot the priests and the ancients of the people returned to the council; and soon the whole multitude, dragging Me in chains through the streets, led Me to Pilate, a heathen, the governor of Judea.
They standing outside, with loud cries, called out the governor, and began to accuse Me before him of many and various false crimes.
But Pilate, hearing that I was of the jurisdiction of Herod, king of Galilee, sent Me to him.
Herod, another heathen, was rejoiced at the sight of Me: for he had heard much concerning Me, and hoped to see some miracle performed to gratify his curiosity.
But to a carnal man, who understands not the things of God,-----although he himself put many questions, and the Jews were accusing Me unceasingly,-----I answered nothing; yet, in My silence, I displayed so eloquent a modesty and holiness, that he could perceive that he was receiving a silent and befitting admonition, and that My example might move him to conversion.
However, this earthly-minded person, abusing all these graces, and not able to understand why I did not defend Myself,-----why I did not seek to gain his favor,-----attributed My conduct to stupidity and foolishness.
Wherefore Herod with his army despised Me; and put on Me a white garment, as if I were a madman:-----thus he mocked and insulted Me.
Then, sending Me back, in the same garment, to Pilate, he exposed Me, as a simpleton, to the city and the world.
2. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord God! that Thou shouldst be looked upon as a simpleton!
Spare, O Lord, spare the dignity of Thy Divine Person. Why dost Thou not hurl down Thy thunderbolts upon the sacrilegious wretches,-----that the vileness of men may not thus profane the Divine Majesty?
The voice of Jesus.-----O My Child! thou knowest neither My Heart nor thy own. The pride of thy own heart demanded so great a remedy.
For, if thou darest to be proud, after thou hast seen the Son of God treated, for thy sake, as a madman and a simpleton; what wouldst thou not do without so great an example of Mine? Would not self-love, by its subtlety, set aside every precept, and aim at the very summit of pride?
Wherefore, from the greatness of the remedy, learn the grievousness of the disease: and hence measure thou, on the one side, the abyss of thy heart's misery, and on the other, the depth of My Heart's love.
Deep was calling on deep: the love of My Heart heard and willed that I should be humbled to the deep, that I might snatch thee from the abyss.
Notwithstanding I felt an unutterable pang in My human nature, yet, for thy sake, I underwent with a willing mind, this depth of humiliation, in the hope of gaining at last, by so great a demonstration of love, thy whole heart, of inflaming it with the same love and of animating it with the same sentiments.
3. An unfathomable mystery it was, Child, that God Himself should appear among men as foolish! A mystery, which love alone did work by its excess, and for which love alone is able to account.
For My Heart, made a captive by love, was urged onward by love, through humiliations, through ignominy, through reproach, through the appearance of madness itself,-----feeling most bitterly, all the while, the painfulness of shame, and yet willingly embracing its disgrace.
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word: the disciple is not above his master: but every one shall be perfect, if he is as his master.
Thou, therefore, My Child, if thou truly lovest Me, wilt not refuse to bear with Me the name of one unsound or foolish in mind,-----whensoever I suffer thee to be distinguished by such an appellation.
It is not, indeed, lawful that, of thyself, thou shouldst give cause for aught of the kind: but to suffer that others take occasion so to do; or to desire that, without offending God, an occasion may be given, to be accounted silly or foolish, for My sake, is truly an heroic virtue and a very great perfection.
4. Be ready, Child, to appear, in some manner, foolish to men; for, in whatever condition thou mayst live, thou shalt be sometimes considered such, if thou art willing to be a perfect Disciple of My Heart.
A life interior and devout, not merely in name, but also in fact, cannot be accounted otherwise than as a kind of folly by the votaries of the world's opinion.
For how, otherwise than foolish, must it appear to them, to despise the present advantages of the world in the hope of future blessings: to love poverty, and keep the affections disengaged from the things of earth; to submit the will and judgment to others, even when inferior to thee in virtue and science; to mortify unceasingly the senses of the body; without necessity, to seek no reparation for injury; to love enemies in sincerity of heart; to love humiliations, and esteem them advantages?
Come, then, My Child, be comforted, and with a great heart and willing mind endure all things with Me.
For behold! by the disposition of My Providence, what thou undertakest will, sometimes, have no success, and this will be attributed to thy silliness; others, however, will meet with success in the same undertaking, and the greater it be, the more silly thou shalt appear.
When accused, reprimanded, or ridiculed, thou wilt be silent, and thou wilt be looked upon as stupid by them that know not the exquisite wisdom of My Heart.
When thou disregardest opportunities of seeking thy own advantage, in order to promote My interests, thou shalt appear to many as devoid of common sense.
If intent on dying to thyself in order to live for Me alone, thou shalt be censured by some as being feeble-minded through indiscretion, yea, also, through false piety.
These and similar things shall befall thee, Child, not only from them that show themselves votaries of the world, but, sometimes, from those that make profession of a virtuous life, or even of the religious state; and who, as they possess not My interior Spirit, love, indeed, the virtues whereby they may please themselves and others, but relish not My afflictions, My ignominy, My humiliations.
By them to whom the excess of My humiliations is a stumbling-block in practice-----thou shalt oft-times be treated most harshly, and shalt be made to feel it most keenly.
5. Do not lose courage, nor be thou dejected in heart, My Child, whosoever be the persons by whom thou art dealt with in this manner: on the contrary, cheer up and rejoice: bear it at least with patience, if thou canst not yet do so with gladness.
Is it not better to be considered foolish with Me than to be deemed wise by men alone?
Verily, verily, whosoever is willing, for My sakes to be looked upon as foolish in this world, shall receive in return a hundred-fold blessings in this life, and unfading glory in the life everlasting.
These results did the Saints experience, and they found more and better things than they had understood or had dared to expect. Do thou, also, My Child, make the experiment, and thou shalt meet the same reward.
6. This is the highest wisdom, which the world ad its votaries neither do nor can know; but which the meek and humble Disciples of My Heart understand and relish.
If thou lovest this teaching of My Heart, if thou actest by its spirit; well done, Child, well done; be glad and rejoice; because thou art become most like to Me.
It is certainly a most weighty matter: but do thou lighten it by love; and to cheer thee on, call to mind the speedy end thereof, and the everlasting reward in Heaven,-----where, after a short time, thou shalt be with Me, and where thou shalt shine with so much the greater honor before the Angels and Saints, with how much the heavier weight of humiliations thou hast been pressed down before men.
These things have I spoken, Child of My Heart, that, when they shall come to pass, thou mayst have recourse to Me; that, in Me, thou mayst possess peace and consolation; that, with Me, thou mayst persevere.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----I confess to Thee, O Jesus, most kind Father; Who hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent of this world, and hast revealed them to the little and lowly Disciples of Thy Heart. Yea, Father; for so has it seemed good in Thy sight.
As much as I can, I embrace them with my heart, desirous, above all things, to know and love Thee, most sweet Jesus, Thee treated, for love of me, as a madman.
Too late, alas! too late have I known this sublime mystery; too late have I embraced this supernal wisdom, which taught and formed the Saints.
Grant me grace, O most compassionate Jesus, that, as I desire, forgetful of me and mindful of Thee, I may be carried forward after Thee, by love, that I may follow Thee by love, even so as to appear with Thee, if it please Thee so to allow, silly, stupid, foolish.
O Jesus, infinite sweetness! with Thee all becomes sweet! to be like Thee is supreme felicity upon earth, and the most certain pledge of Heaven.
CHAPTER XIV. HOW, AFTER THE EXAMPLE OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, WE SHOULD BE WILLING TO BE PLACED BELOW ALL
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Being led back to the residence of the governor, I stood before him, who knew that through envy, I had been delivered up by the priests and Pharisees.
As Pilate had no doubt of My innocence, he was desirous of freeing Me, if he could effect this without displeasing the Jews. Wherefore, he bethought himself of an expedient, which showed the base weakness of his soul, and covered Me with the utmost disgrace.
On the festive day, the governor was accustomed to release to the people one of the prisoners, whomsoever they chose. At that time he held a notorious prisoner who was called Barabbas.
Now, Barabbas was a robber, who, for a sedition raised in the city, and for a murder, had been cast into prison.
Pilate, then,-----thinking that I, the benefactor of all, a lover of peace, the restorer of life, should be preferred to this man,-----said to the assembled chiefs of the priests, to the magistrates and the people: It is a custom that, at the Passover, I release one to you: which of the two, therefore, will ye that I release to you, Barabbas or Jesus?
But, at the instigation of the chief-priests, the whole multitude exclaimed: Not this one but Barabbas.
Consider, Child, how this struck My Heart: how deeply it affected the same; how it tore It asunder.
Contemplate Me standing behind Barabbas in the sight of all: and see how I am treated by the highest and the lowest, as the least of men.
This disgraceful rejection, although it overwhelmed My Heart with a feeling of pain, I suffered willingly, both that I might save from the everlasting rejection of the reprobate, as far as in Me lay, the wretched Barabbas, thyself, My Child, and the whole world; and that I might leave thee an example full of consolation.
2. Do not, then, take it amiss, but endure it patiently and resignedly with Me, if thou art placed beneath others.
What wonder if thou, who art dust and naught of thyself, sufferest thyself to be placed, for My sake, below others, when I, the Lord and God of all, allowed Myself for thee to be cast beneath the meanest of mortals?
Since the time thou didst sin, even venially, against the Divine Majesty. thou didst truly deserve to be placed, not only below men, but even below irrational beings, which have not injured or offended the Divine Majesty.
Wherefore, Child, when I permit thee to be put beneath others, be satisfied there, as in a place fit for thee.
And if thou deemest thyself to be placed lower than is just, do not, pray, examine too minutely the merits of others, nor thy own: but consider My example, and descend thou, in thy heart, still lower,-----knowing that the nearer thou comest to Me, by humiliations, the nearer also thou shalt be to Me in glory.
How, indeed, couldst thou be a true Disciple of My Heart, if thou desirest to be the first, where Myself was the last? Should the Disciple go before the Master. Is it not befitting in a Disciple to follow his Master?
Wherefore, follow thou Me, and be willingly the last with Me. Behold! how many there are in the world who are forced to occupy the last place; and because they do it against their will, therefore they do it without comfort, without merit! Thou, My Child, stay cheerfully with Me, and thou shalt have no cause for regret.
3. Happy thou, if, for love of Me, thou art willing, of thy own accord, to be placed behind all! For, if thou sufferest after this manner, thou wilt sanctify thyself by those things which shall doubtless befall thee.
Others shall be sometimes exalted, and placed like lights upon the candlestick: thou shalt be overlooked, and put under the bushel.
What others ask, they shall readily obtain, and they shall be thought to deserve it: what thou askest shall appear unreasonable, or thou shalt be deemed undeserving of the object.
What others say shall be looked upon as well-suited, or even as decisive: what thou sayest shall seem unsuitable or absurd.
Others shall complain at pleasure, and many will sympathize with them: thou, when suffering under pains or hardships, if, forced by necessity, thou darest to speak, shalt be thought disturbed in thy imagination.
The defects of others shall be dignified with an honorable name: thy virtues shall be esteemed as the effects of a weak mind.
Others they shall humor: but thee they shall put down; and plead as an excuse, that thou dost not only deserve this, but that thou standest in need of it.
Not a few such things, My Child, whereby thou mayst be placed below others, shall befall thee, and, when they occur, nature will be grievously afflicted. But strengthen thy courage, and, in spite of nature, continue with Me, preferring to be the last with Me, rather than the first without Me.
Do not only gladly suffer that thou be placed behind others, but wherever thou art, and canst do so lawfully, take the lowest place for thyself: there, Child, there thou shalt find Me, there thou shalt have Me with thee.
If thou do this, He that raises the lowly will, one day say to thee: Friend, go up higher. And then thou shalt have glory before the Angels and Saints.
4. If the dignity of thy state or office elevate thee above the rest, let the humility of thy heart, in a becoming manner, place thee, for love of Me, below the same. Thus thou wilt be enabled to imitate Me,-----to Whom all power is given,-----merit much for thyself, and be more useful to others.
Neither do thou imagine that this kind of conduct is in any wise hurtful to thy authority. For, although it is proper and necessary that a Superior do uphold his authority, he cannot better do this than by that humble charity which does not merely hold the outward man in submission, but which also captivates the heart itself, keeps, and fills it with love, confidence, and every good disposition.
Do not reserve for thyself the greater and more showy performances, and leave to thy subjects what is of less importance, and more humble: on the contrary, as much as possible, reserve the latter for thyself, and assign the former to thy inferiors. Thus thou wilt follow my example, gain the good will of subjects, and stimulate their courage.
By so doing thou shalt better accomplish more things by means of thy subjects than thou canst do by thyself: And whilst thou art placed over others, thou shalt, as their companion, yea as their minister, be seen with Me.
5. As much as it is left to thee, choose rather to be subject than to have command: nay more, wheresoever thou mayst be placed, shun every word and sign which may display thy worth, talents, or other gifts and accomplishments,-----none of which things should be made subjects of vanity.
Do not meddle in the affairs of others, as if thou wouldst better or control them: neither do thou show thyself ready, unless virtue demand it, to give advice, as if thou wert skillful.
Suffer willingly that others excel thee in science and other matters, even in outward virtues: do thou carefully what thou canst, for the rest rely upon the Divine good pleasure, and glory with Me in thy humiliations.
Know thou that only then thou hast attained to true holiness, when, for love of Me, thou rejoicest, that, in fact, or by efficacious affection, thou art with Me in the lowest place.
But, if as yet thou art unable to attain to this so perfectly: pray, Child, and use thy endeavors; and thou shalt come to it afterward.
6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord God, my Saviour, how Divine is Thy Life! how sublime the doctrine of Thy Heart's example! Who can understand it fully, except whomso Thou teachest inwardly by the unction of Thy Spirit?
Alas, Lord Jesus! hitherto I have been without understanding: until now I have aspired to the highest place, although I beheld Thee in the lowest.
Wretched me! how greatly have I erred! I left Thee alone in Thy humiliations, and, blind and alone, I withdrew far from Thee: I estranged myself far from Thy Heart.
Vain and wayward, I strove to excel among men, and to make for myself some name, whilst my conscience bore witness, that, on account of my sins,-----whereby I placed Thee, O Jesus! not only behind
Barabbas, but, by an excess of malice and ungratefulness, behind the very demon,-----I deserved to be cast beneath the feet of all, and to be filled with confusion before Heaven and earth.
I am unworthy, Lord Jesus, to be with Thee, even in the last place. But since, in the infinite goodness of Thy Heart, Thou hast so mercifully reclaimed me, I trust Thou wilt kindly give me a place near Thee.
Thou hast opened my eyes to see my error, Thou hast moved my heart to make me love Thy company, even amidst humiliations: grant, I beseech Thee, grant me grace, give me courage, that, for love of Thee, I may willingly persevere therein with Thee.
CHAPTER XV. HOW, BY VOLUNTARY MORTIFICATIONS, IT BEHOOVES US TO FOLLOW THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS SCOURGED
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Behold! My Child, Pilate, seeing that, contrary to what he expected, Barabbas was preferred to Me by the Jews, stood amazed; but, believing Me nevertheless innocent, he was still anxious to release Me, and at the same time, to gratify the people.
Seeking to serve two masters,-----on the one hand to please men, on the other to satisfy his conscience,-----he tried another means, full of injustice and cruelty, in order to rescue Me.
For he resolved to place Me in such a condition that men, if they still possessed human feelings, should not be able to look upon Me, without being moved to commiseration.
I find no cause, said he, in this Man: I will, therefore, chastise and release Him. And immediately he ordered Me to be seized and cruelly scourged.
And behold! forthwith the soldiers tied Me to a pillar: and now they lacerate My Flesh with continuous stripes and countless wounds: they vie successively with each other to multiply the blows and increase My torments.
Lo! Blood streams on every side; it crimsons everything; it besprinkles the very scourgers. These, mad with rage, exert themselves more fiercely, tear off the flesh with their lashes and scatter it around!
Let us cut Him off, they shout, let us cut Him off from the land of the living, and let His name be remembered no more!
At this heartrending sight, the heavens were moved: the Angels themselves stood astounded at the excessive love of My Heart for men.
2. Thou, My Child, ponder thou attentively and compassionately these torments of Mine; and learn how grievous, how horrifying, are the sins of the flesh, which required such an atonement. Do not these wounds cry aloud upon all, that, at least through pity, they should cease to gratify the desires of the flesh, and not continue to heap up new sorrows?
Learn, also, how great is the love of My Heart, whereby I, the innocent, of My Own accord, underwent the punishments of the guilty. Yea, Child, love, the ardent desire of saving all, brought it about, that with all My Heart I gave My immaculate Body to the strikers, and willingly bore the appalling tortures of the scourging.
Learn, too, how thou oughtest to treat that body of thine, which, conceived in sin, grown up amidst its passions, is ever prone to evil.
See, what the Saints did learn: observe, in what manner they mortified their members, how they afflicted their senses.
How many among them, who never lost their first innocence, yet never ceased to wage a fierce war against their flesh, who subdued their frail body, and, by every kind of mortification, brought it under perfect subjection!
Their hearts were like to My Heart, and, therefore, they produced similar fruits in their body. Neither would they at all have thought themselves happy, unless herein also they had in some way conformed themselves to Me.
3. Wherefore, Child, even if thou art just, mortify thy flesh, both that it may not rise up and destroy thee; and, especially, that thou mayst assimilate thyself to Me, and thus sanctify thyself.
Many there are, lovers of self, sensual men, although unwilling to be considered such, who do not relish the mortifying of the flesh, and who are ever ready with some pretense to exempt themselves from mortification.
Foolish and deluded souls! Verily, verily, unless ye do penance, ye shall all likewise perish. If anyone, though he seem a Saint or an Angel, say the contrary, let him be anathema.
Remember what the Spirit says: "They that are Christ's, have crucified their flesh with its vices and concupiscences."
The prudence of the flesh is death: the prudence of the spirit, life, and peace, and joy.
Wherefore, if ye live according to the flesh, ye shall die: but if by the Spirit ye mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live, and enjoy peace and joy of heart.
4. My Child, rouse thyself by the spirit of love, whereby My Heart submitted to the cruel scourging, and thou shalt find mortification easy, and experience its sweet and saving effects.
There is no time when, nor place where, thou canst not, occasionally, practice the mortification of some one of the senses.
Besides, wheresoever thou art, shouldst thou not be more eager to mortify thy body, for the sake of following Me and gaining Heaven, than sinners are so to gratify their flesh as to renew My flagellation and to deserve for themselves the pains of Hell?
Come then, My Child, have no fear. Voluntary mortification is the way of life, of freedom, of tranquillity, of virtue, of sanctity.
Blessed are they that walk in this way! Their happiness is known only to them that have tried the same.
5. He that does not mortify himself in things indifferent and lawful, will hardly mortify himself in those that are necessary and unlawful.
If thou wilt learn to mortify thyself in what is great, constantly mortify thyself in what is small.
Now the curiosity of the eyes, now the eagerness of hearing things new; again the desire of uttering what is useless, again the wish of smelling what is pleasant; then the inclination to experience that which flatters the touch, again the greediness to eat or drink without a sufficient reason; and again the intention of doing that whereby others may be incommoded; these, and similar things, may be a matter of frequent, nay, in some manner, of continual mortification.
These, My Child, will be for thee faithful guardians of innocence: these will be aliments of Divine love: these will preserve fervor in thy heart: these will be unceasing sacrifices offered upon the altar of the inner sanctuary, which, united to the sacrifices of My Heart, shall forever mount up before the throne of the Most High as an odor of sweetness.
These things little, but frequently occurring every day, are useful and proper for all, for the young and the old; for the weak and the strong; for those beginning, for those advancing, for those perfect: nor can anyone exempt himself from them without the disgraceful mark of lukewarmness.
In these there is no risk of health for anyone; for these there is no need of special permission: these are safe and wholesome for all.
6. But all cannot equally undertake great mortifications: for all have not the same need, nor the same bodily strength; nor, in fine, the same vocation.
Wherefore, it is advisable for each one to lay open his circumstances to a spiritual director, to decide with him the measure of mortifications, not to undertake anything extraordinary without consulting him, lest for the appearance of a good he lose a real good, or lest he render himself unfit for what is better.
Among mortifications, those are to be preferred which, by their nature, are thought better suited to subject the senses to the spirit and to grace, and which dispose thee better, courageously to endure hardships, after My example.
But before all others, those should be embraced which are prescribed by Me, by the Church, by Superiors. These are practiced with more holiness and security than those which are undertaken by free choice: these produce more plentiful and more precious fruits, since to mortification the virtue and merit of obedience are added.
My Child, if thou gratefully rememberest, how I was wounded for thee, how I was bruised for thy iniquities, thou wilt apply thyself, with the Apostle, to bear My marks in thy body, and so to live, that My life may be manifest in thine.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----O my Jesus and my God! Thou art truly a man of sorrows; for behold, I gaze upon Thee scourged, and I see that Thou hast neither beauty nor comeliness, as a leper, and one stricken, so that there is no sightliness in Thee!
Whence, alas! whence art Thou reduced to this extremity? I, a vile wretch, have cruelly sinned, for which Thou, God Supreme, atonest by stripes so great and countless, by wounds so cruel and numerous.
O what a Heart is Thine, Lord Jesus! how great the excess of Thy love, that Thou didst endure such things for me! O most loving, O most sweet Jesus! how powerful a reason for trusting in Thee, however wretched I may be! how urging an incitement to love Thee in return with my whole heart!
But how monstrous, how horrible were my conduct, if, whilst I am bound to requite Thee with a grateful love for evermore, I were to renew Thy torments by my sins!
It were better a thousand times here to die before Thee, than to become guilty of so unutterable a crime.
Yea, Lord, for love of Thee, I choose rather here to expire, than to sin against Thee.
That I may efficaciously avoid this, grant me the grace constantly to keep my body in subjection, and on all occasions to mortify my senses.
Give me, I beseech Thee, a fervent love for Thee: and behold! mortification will be to me the life whereby I live for Thee, follow Thee, unceasingly worship Thee, daily offer to Thee, now a sacrifice of praise, or thankfulness, then a victim of some feeling or inclination, again a burnt-offering of my whole heart.
CHAPTER XVI. HOW, FROM THE EXAMPLE OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, WE SHOULD LEARN TO ENDURE BODILY AILMENTS AND PAINS
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, after the scourging, whilst My whole body was dripping with Blood, behold the soldiers led Me into the fore-court of the governor's residence, and there gathered together the whole band.
And platting a crown of thorns, they placed the same cruelly upon My head, and a reed in My right hand.
And they came one by one, and bending the knee before Me, they mocked Me: and rising, they took the reed and struck My head with the same, so that the points of the thorns, driven in ever deeper, pierced My head on every side.
Now, Child, had My suffering come to an unutterable excess; and even to My latest sigh, as long as the crown remained, were they to go on with ever-increasing violence.
Behold, I dragged Myself, My limbs broken, My joints bruised, all My senses sickly, weary, and, through the excess of pain, hardly under My control!
From the sole of the foot, even to the top of My head, there was in Me no soundness, neither within nor without.
2. My Child, thou wilt never more perfectly understand these torments of My Passion, than when thou shalt suffer similar ones; when thou feelest thy body writhing with pain, and thy soul undone by afflictions.
When man is despoiled of fortune, reputation, or other external possessions, it is hard, indeed, and distressing to nature: but it is much harder and much more distressful to be tortured by the pains of bodily ailments.
For in these outward things, by greatness of soul, with the aid of grace, a person can raise himself so far as either to forget, or not to heed, the cause and effect of his troubles: but, in bodily ailments, he cannot avoid feeling that which he feels, and, whatsoever he may do, always and everywhere he has his aching self with him.
However, if sickness is the greater pain, it procures also greater advantages for him that suffers rightly.
Wherefore, Child, let it be thy chief care to endure the same with a heart well-disposed, and to follow therein, as much as thou canst, the dispositions of My Heart.
3. And first, when thou feelest any indisposition, accept it as a dispensation of the love of My Heart, and say, at least interiorly: Blessed be the Lord, because He has visited His servant! And although thou feelest that thou dost so only with difficulty, do not neglect it: for thou wilt thereby more easily overcome reluctant nature, and gain the more merit.
Next, resign thyself to the Divine Will, in the best manner thou art able: and renew this holy resignation as frequently as possible, being assured that thou shalt derive thence the greatest strength and comfort.
Afterward, unite thy sufferings with Mine, and this by repeated acts, for various ends, which thy need, advantage, or even thy piety may require.
By this Divine union, which overflows with the unction of grace, thy afflictions will be soothed, and will become for thee lighter and sweeter.
Lastly, to help thee to persevere, and to possess thy soul in peace, constantly withdraw, so far as possible, thy attention and even thy thoughts from the causes of thy sufferings, and from the sufferings themselves: and direct thy mind to My example and the unconquerable patience of the Saints-----and think how boundless, how sweet a reward thou shalt obtain in Heaven, unless thou lose it by voluntary impatience.
4. Meanwhile, Child,-----since thou needest much grace, and canst of thyself do nothing profitable,-----according to thy strength, persist in prayer: especially in short and fervent aspirations, addressing Me in these or similar terms: Behold, Lord, he whom Thou didst love even to the death, is sick. . . . Lord, grant me patience. . . . Give me resignation. . . . Grant me to be united with Thee unto the end.
And, if thy infirmity increases, thou wilt exhibit a conduct most worthy of a Disciple of My Heart, if thou dost actually offer to Me thy body, as a living victim, and accept death, at a time and in the manner, which may be most pleasing to Me.
Know, My Child, that, whatsoever thou mayst do to the contrary, thou shalt occasionally be much inclined to dejection of spirits. Remember that this is the effect of sickly and languishing nature,
whereby thou shouldst not at all be made uneasy.
Only take care thou do not yield to it, or indulge it of thy own accord. For, by giving scope and indulgence to the same, thou wouldst both increase thy sufferings, and render thy very heart ill-disposed.
If at any time thy suffering and anguish should bring thee so far as to be hardly able to use the
powers of thy soul with consciousness, remain thou quietly in My arms; neither do thou endeavor, with violence or anxiety, to excite within thee any acts or affections, but be satisfied with remaining calmly resigned to Me.
Blessed is he that, in sickness, adheres perseveringly to the saving Divine Will. For, so long as he is united to the Divine good pleasure, he reposes upon My Heart, and all is safe.
My Child, do not be despondent in mind, nor be distressed on account of the greatness or the length of thy sufferings: remember that several of the Saints dragged out a long life amidst the pains of sickness, and thereby sanctified themselves, because they were resigned: and reflect that, however great and lasting thy pain may be, it is as nothing compared to the unmeasured and ever-enduring joy, whereby thy patience shall be rewarded in Heaven.
Call to mind, that My torments and My martyrdom lasted as long as My life: and remember that I endured all this willingly for love of thee. By these things thou shalt be much assisted to bear with constancy thy afflictions, for love of Me.
5. Show not thyself voluntarily peevish or impatient toward them that take care of thee. Thy illness will often make them appear to thee careless or neglectful.
So often as it is needful or useful, thou mayst freely manifest with humility and charity, whatsoever thou thinkest is necessary or advantageous for thee. But, meanwhile, thou shouldst feel so disposed, that, whether thy desire be granted or refused, thou do continue calm and resigned.
Do thou patiently bear, as not the least portion of thy illness, whatsoever thou mayst have to endure from them that have care of thee. For, under the disagreeable circumstances wherein thou art placed, this may have great merit.
6. Beware, My Child, lest, under pretense of infirmity, thou indulge the flesh. Herein do many err, who by sickness are not only not made better, but rather worse, becoming lovers of the body, and slaves of their passions.
Give to the body what is due to the body: but neither in good nor in ill health, neither in life nor in death, do thou minister food to the inordinate propensities of the flesh; which, as in health, so also in sickness are dangerous, and, therefore, to be mortified.
Do thou, in a spirit of mortification, submit to unpleasant remedies, and to the use of bitter or unsavory drugs. This mortification is the more precious, and a proof of purer love for me, as it is more irksome and farther removed from natural inclination.
7. Whilst thou art sick, Child, do not trouble thyself with desires of attending to thy office or employment, of laboring for thyself or others, of performing works of piety; or, in fine, of doing other good things, which are incompatible with thy infirmity.
Such things serve for naught, except to cause thee useless affliction, to disquiet thee to no good purpose, and to displease Me.
Those things I do not now require of thee, My Child; what I demand for the present is, that thou suffer with a good heart, and be resigned to the Divine Will.
Do now what I desire of thee; and leave all the rest to My Providence, that knows how to order everything rightly without thee.
8. Look to it, My Child, that, when sick, thou be not anxious to follow thy own guidance. For it is especially at this time that, being blinded, thou wouldst blindly lead thyself into some precipice.
Hearken religiously to thy Superiors, and suffer thyself to be directed by Me through them. Honor the physician for the need thou hast of him, and obey him in simplicity of heart.
Do not harm thyself, through negligence or carelessness, whilst thou art sick: but use remedies in a reasonable manner, praying God, from whom is all healing, that, if it be for thy good, He may deign to heal thee.
Having done so, how serious soever the disease may be, believe that it is something advantageous for thee, since it is the Divine Will.
Come, Child, be willingly a martyr to suffering for My love, Who, through every excess of pains, am become the Chief of all Martyrs.
Have patience, O Child of My Heart, have patience: behold! still a little while, thy grief shall be turned into joy, and I Myself,-----Who, for love of thee, was crowned with thorns,-----I Will crown thee with honor and glory.
9. The voice of the Disciple.-----Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Who didst visit Thy servant, that in time, Thou mayst mercifully prepare me for eternity!
O my God, heavenly Healer of men! behold, to Thy keeping I entrust my body and soul. Thou knowest what is best for me: do with me whatsoever Thou wilt, according to the goodness of Thy Heart.
I suffer much, Lord Jesus; Thou knowest it. Assist me with Thy grace: strengthen me with Thy love. If Thou wilt that my pain be lasting, increase Thy grace, increase my patience.
Whatsoever I endure, I unite with Thy sufferings, so much more painful than mine, and I implore Thee, that Thou direct all to Thy honor and my salvation.
Grant me this great favor, which I humbly beg of Thee, through Thy most benign Heart, that Thou keep me inseparably united with Thee, and thus lead me to the end of my miseries, to bliss everlasting.