THE THIRD BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL TO IMITATE THE MOST SACRED HEART
OF JESUS IN HIS LIFE OF SUFFERING
CHAPTER XVII. HOW, AFTER THE EXAMPLE OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS,
WE OUGHT TO ACCEPT DEATH
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, Pilate led Me forth, wearing a crown of thorns and a purple garment, and showing Me to all the people, he said: "Behold the man!"
The Jews seeing Me, were not only not softened, but, on the contrary, thirsted more eagerly for the remainder of My Blood; and all shouted with one accord: Crucify, crucify Him!
Pilate, being again disappointed, and fearing even more than before, said: "I find no cause in Him." But they insisted the more, and threatened him: "If thou releasest this one," they cried, "thou art not a friend of Caesar."
Seeing that he could not give freedom to Me without losing the favor of the people, and, probably, that of Caesar, Pilate formed to himself a false conscience, and thus fell into a fatal delusion. For, washing his hands before the people, he said: "I am innocent of the Blood of this Just one: look ye to it." But they shouted: "His Blood be upon us and upon our children!"
Then Pilate decided that their request should be granted, and Me, Whom he had again and again found and declared innocent, he delivered up to their will, that I might be crucified.
2. Oh! My Child, who shall tell what My Heart then felt? Behold! I had come down from Heaven to console and save the world: I had struggled in heat and cold, I had endured hunger and thirst, I had spent My life by ceaseless labor and endless suffering; I had, finally, sacrificed everything, to make all men happy: and must I at last receive from them, as a requital, death, yea the death of the Cross!
How great a sorrow rushed upon My Heart at so black an ungratefulness, so horrid an iniquity of men! How great a grief at the obdurateness of the hearts of those, who, spurning felicity, devoted themselves, of their own accord, to destruction! How great a torment at the affliction of My most compassionate Mother, and beloved Disciples, from whom I saw Myself torn away not only cruelly, but also disgracefully!
Nevertheless, the sentence of death I embraced with My Heart resigned, because I regarded not the unheard-of wickedness of those that condemned Me, but considered the good pleasure of My heavenly Father.
For My Father, in His infinite Wisdom, wished to draw the greatest good, the Redemption of the world, from the greatest crime, whereof He disapproved, and that they were committing by an abuse of their free will.
Therefore, in spite of the feelings of My suffering human nature, I submitted with a certain supernatural joy to a death, whereby the world was to be saved, Heaven opened, the Divine Majesty appeased and honored, My Heart Itself loved in return, and exalted for endless eternity.
Study these dispositions of My Heart, Child put on these sentiments: and, as much as thou art able, accept with the same affections the death which thou must undergo.
3. My Heart,-----knowing that men naturally shrink from death, and dread it as the most terrific of all things on earth, on account of the past, the present, and the future,-----did not suffer them to be without an example, whereby they might rightly be instructed and sweetly comforted.
Be not, then, troubled, nor astonished, My Child, if thou feelest a vehement horror and repugnance of nature when death is approaching, either actually or prospectively. In this there is no harm: it is wholly natural, which, if thou wilt, may prove advantageous to thee.
Only do not yield to the feelings of nature, lest, perchance, they render thee ill-disposed; or hinder thee from being resigned to the Divine Will,-----to which all things natural and created must be submissive.
Patiently endure every natural repugnance, and use the same as an occasion to practice great virtues, and to gather many merits.
4. My Child, suffer not thy imagination to stray, neither follow thou natural reason in order to investigate the dispensations of Divine Providence; nor do thou give in to thy own will, how good or holy soever it may appear, lest thou fall into a dangerous delusion.
But, thy imagination being restrained, subject both thy reason and thy will to Me: thus thou wilt merit not a little, and, at the same time, remain tranquil and secure.
If thou feelest pain or uneasiness, by reason of the objects or persons that death obliges thee to leave behind, let not thy heart be disturbed. For this anxiety could not be of any avail to them, neither to thyself, but it might, on the contrary, be very hurtful.
When thou hast done for them what thou art obliged or able to do, entrust them all to Me, Who knows thy circumstances, and Who, according to the love of My Heart, will have a much better care of thine than thou art able to bestow.
Be mindful of My example, Child; reflect, how I abandoned them that were dear to Me, and committed them to the Divine good pleasure. With this do thou occupy thyself, with this be thou comforted.
5. Do not sadden thyself, My Child, because thou thinkest thyself about to depart this life. For what is life upon earth except a continued annoyance? What is it to abide in this world, except to remain in exile? What, in fine, is it to dwell among men, except to sojourn away from Me and My Angels?
If thou lookest rightly at the matter, when I call thee, better is death for thee, than a life of bitterness. For death is the end of the ills of this world; and departure thence to Me, the beginning of blessings, which know neither change nor termination.
The voice of the Disciple.-----But, O Lord Jesus, if I knew that, after death, I should be among the Saints with Thee, I would assuredly not be grieved, but I would rejoice indeed; yet, at this I tremble, by this I am tortured, that I know not what is to be, whether I may be judged worthy of love or of hatred: whether, consequently, a happy or an unhappy eternity awaits me.
The voice of Jesus.-----Why fearest thou, or why art thou in vain filled with anxiety, My Child? Know thou, that a person who is sincerely willing to be saved and to co-operate, for this purpose, with grace,-----from how wicked soever a way of life he may turn himself,-----shall not be cast off by Me, Who desires that all be saved.
Hold this for certain, that for him who does what he is able to do, I will supply the rest. Do, then peacefully what thou canst, and throw thyself upon My Heart: here, Child, here thou shalt never perish.
Be, therefore, quiet, and, as far as thou art able, prepare thyself for thy passage from time into eternity.
6. And first, offer thyself to Me, with a submissive heart, and pray that I may accept thy death in union with Mine, as a sacrifice to atone for all thy offenses, to satisfy for all thy debts, to render due worship to the Divine Majesty, and to testify thy love for Me.
Then, with all thy heart, forgive wholly every one of thy enemies, all thy neighbors, who have injured or offended thee in any matter whatsoever.
Next, with all diligence, receive the holy Sacraments, with which the Church, in her motherly solicitude, is careful to strengthen thee, that in the last struggle thou mayst be enabled to obtain victory, and enter Heaven in triumph.
Finally, resign thyself altogether into My hands, desirous of doing, not when or in what manner thou mayst wish, but when and in what manner I may prefer. Thou knowest neither the time nor the circumstances which are the best for thee; but I know them, Child, and under these, if thou dost not voluntarily put a hindrance thereto, I will call thee to Me.
Wherefore, resign thyself entirely to Me, by an absolute surrender of thyself into My hands; and be persuaded that thou canst do nothing better than conform thyself wholly to the Divine good pleasure and sacrifice thyself as a holocaust of the same. If thou dost this thou wilt be saved.
7. How happy he, My Child, who thus prepares himself for death, and keeps himself in readiness! For him doubtless death is safe and blissful; for him death brings no evil, but, on the contrary, a great and manifold good.
For, behold! thy Father, Who is in Heaven; thy Mother the Queen of Heaven; thy companions, the holy Angels; thy Brethren, all the Elect; thy true and permanent country; thy glory and blessedness: all these are in the other life, and, except in the other life, thou canst not enjoy them fully. Now, Child, death is the only gate through which thou art able to pass from this life into the next. Is it not, then, a happy hour, when I Myself will open for thee the door to such possessions?
Meanwhile, until the time comes, when I will open for thee, act, suffer generously; endure perseveringly: I am with thee in thy toil and tribulation; and, unless by a voluntary act thou set Me aside, I will continue with thee until I introduce thee into My kingdom, into the fellowship of the Saints and Angels.
8. The voice of the Disciple.-----O most sweet Jesus! how great a consolation dost Thou pour into my soul from Thy affectionate Heart. If the unctiontion of Thy secret communion is so delightful, what will be the very possession of Thyself in the kingdom of Thy glory!
Yea, Lord, introduce me into Thy kingdom: for I long to be released and to be with Thee.
Draw my soul from her prison, that, from the dungeon of this miserable life, I may pass to the freedom of the heavenly country, from all these misfortunes to bliss never-ending.
O Jesus, my God and my Father! Whose child I am, lingering here in the land of the stranger, if,-----as I hope from Thy Heart, so infinitely good,-----I am to enjoy Thee for evermore, why is not the little remainder of my life engulfed by eternity? Why am I not even now with Thee, to love Thee perfectly, to sing Thy mercies forever, to praise, to extol without end, without measure, the kindness, the love of Thy Heart?
So long as I stay here, I am in danger of losing Thee alike and myself: so long as I carry about this mortal body, I can neither avoid all defects nor love Thee so much as I desire.
O Lord Jesus! when I consider these things, for Thy sake, my soul is weary of life. However, not as I will, but as Thou wilt: Thy will be done as it is in Heaven, so also upon earth. For love of Thee, I choose rather to incur that danger, to undergo those bitter things according to Thy Will, than by my own will to escape from them.
Only do Thou remain with me: and keep me resigned to Thee, united with Thee during the rest of this life, unto life everlasting.
O Thou life of the present! O all ye things visible! what are ye when beheld from the threshold of eternity! Seen thence, ye appear what ye are, bright and empty vapors.
O eternity! object unutterable! great thoughts do I form concerning thee: but greater are in thee: things infinite are in thee, which eye has not beheld, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived.
O everlasting abode of all that have received rational life! soon I shall be in thee: soon I shall behold thy wonders: at any moment, when comes the Bridegroom, Whom my soul loves, it may be opened to me: so soon as it is opened, behold! leaning upon the Heart of my Beloved, I enter together with Him. Yea, Lord Jesus, my love forevermore!
CHAPTER XVIII. WITH WHAT DISPOSITIONS OF HEART, AFTER THE EXAMPLE OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, WE OUGHT TO FEEL AFFECTED TOWARD THE CROSS
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, when the sentence of death had been pronounced against Me, everything was prepared with the utmost dispatch for its execution. Behold, the Cross stood already waiting for Me.
Bound, therefore, all covered with Blood, torn with stripes and wounds, I was led to the Cross: when I beheld it, My Heart warming up, sighed out: Hail, O hail, dear Cross, always loved, unceasingly desired, at last prepared for Me! O sacred Cross! Cross! through thee I will conquer, through thee I will triumph, through thee I will reign.
Then, embracing the Cross and pressing it fondly to My Heart, I bedewed it with My tears and My Blood: next I placed it upon My shoulders, in the sight of the world, before the gaze of Heaven.
Surrounded by the thousands of Jews and Gentiles, in the holy City, in the full light of mid-day, clad in My Own garment, I marched onward carrying My Own Cross.
Behold, Child, I go to raise the Cross upon the mountain, the standard of My kingdom, against the prince of the world: and to paint upon My standard, with My Own Blood, the indelible watchword of My Own: "The love of Jesus sacrificing Himself for the love of man," in opposition to the watchword of worldlings: "Love of the pleasures, riches, honors of the world."
By this My watchword, by this sign thou wilt conquer, My Child; but the enemies, erring in their watchword and sign, shall fall.
2. Beneath the banner of the Cross men will flock together from every nation, and people, and tribe of the earth; and they will be united among themselves with Me.
Under this banner, My Disciples will know Me as their Leader, and, animated with love for Me, they will follow Me cheerfully.
Under this banner all they who are Mine will fight; will triumph over Hell, the world, themselves, and bear off the kingdom of Heaven itself.
Come, ye, then, come ye all, and what ye shall see me do, do ye also: let each one take up his cross and follow Me, his eyes ever fixed upon Me, marching onward with a great courage and dilated heart, nowhere turning, neither to the right nor to the left.
All ye, that shall have accompanied Me, shall be partakers of an assured victory, of an everlasting reward: but the more closely anyone shall have followed Me, and with the greater courage of love he shall have behaved, the more close shall he be to Me in glory, the greater shall he be in My everlasting kingdom.
Let none forget the watchword: let none desert the Banner, but let each one be prepared to conquer or to die for the watchword beneath that Banner-----altogether assured, that, if so disposed, whether he live or die, he shall be My companion, and, therefore, the partaker of My most certain victory.
3. I, My Child, never abandoned the Cross: but I clung to the Cross, I persevered on the Cross, I expired on the Cross, conquering and triumphing.
Happy the soul, that, animated with My sentiments, lovingly embraces the Cross, and keeps to it faithfully! Her does the Cross keep near Me; it does not cast down, but it raises up; it does not encumber, but it leads easily to the height of sanctity, to the final triumph.
Wherefore, Child, thou shouldst remain with Me under the Cross, live under the Cross, die under the Cross, if thou wilt be made like to Me, and one day triumph with Me.
Listen to none, neither to flesh, nor blood, nor spirit, that advises thee to forsake the Cross.
Where, Child, where can it be better than under the cross? The cross is the guide to the everlasting kingdom: the Cross is the wisdom of the Apostles, the trophy of the Martyrs, the glory of the Confessors, the security of the Virgins, the sanctification of old age, the preservation of youth, the condemnation of worldlings, the mirror of religious, in fine, the refuge and comfort of all the afflicted.
If thou fleest from the cross, whither wilt thou go? Behold! thou shalt fall into the camp of the enemies; where thou shalt have not one cross, but where manifold torments will meet thee from every side, will rush upon thee, will destroy thee.
There My banner, which breathes the love of My Heart, inspires courage and generosity, will not incite or console thee; but the fetters of tyrants, under a showy name, will drag thee through thorny paths; not to happiness but to misfortune; not to joys but to pains; not to glory but to ignominy.
Here, under the Cross, Child, thou art with Me, thou hast Me to lead, to guard, to crown thee: here thou art in the midst of all the good, the brave, the generous; here thou art in communion with the Elect and the Saints, who have preceded thee, and who, whilst living, fought, and, when dying, triumphed under the Cross: here, in fine, thou formest one fellowship, one army with the Angels themselves, who, thronging to thy side, protect thee, fight along with thee, strive to extend the same kingdom.
Foolishly, therefore, and fatally wouldst thou act, shouldst thou think of forsaking the cross, or imagine that it can anywhere be better for thee, than beneath the cross.
4. However, since the prince of the wicked world and his emissaries are thy enemies, do not wonder if they allure thee frequently by imaginary advantages; and endeavor, by showy reasons, to induce thee to desert the cross, and to pass over to them.
My Child, do not even cast a glance at their false advantages, nor hearken thou to their wily subtleties: but lift thy heart and eyes to Me, who carry My banner before thee, and protest that it is thy determined will to follow Me to every fortune, even to death itself.
Hence, it will come to pass that the assaults and wiles of thy foes will awaken in thy heart a greater abhorrence of them, and a more firm adherence to Me.
5. But it is not enough for thee, My Child, not to flee from the cross; thou must embrace, thou must carry the cross.
Give heed to this, mark this carefully: do not all the faults which thou committest arise from this, that thou refusest or hesitatest to embrace and carry the cross, which is offered to thee?
When thou woundest charity, what else is the true cause thereof, except that thou declinest to undergo the present cross, some humiliation, the sacrifice of thy own opinion or natural inclination?
Why dost thou offend against holy poverty? Is it not because thou takest not the cross to thyself; because thou art unwilling to subject thyself to the trouble of asking leave, or to expose thyself to a refusal?
Why dost thou trespass against modesty? Is it not because thou neglectest mortification; because thou dost not embrace this cross?
Why failest thou in obedience? is it not because thou lovest not the cross; because thou dost not make the entire sacrifice of thy will and judgment?
Yea, Child, against what virtue soever thou sinnest or offendest, if thou lookest well into it, thou wilt find this to be the cause, that thou dost not take upon thee nor embrace the cross with a willing heart.
Nevertheless, a cross of this kind is small and light: if thou dost not receive lovingly such a one, how wilt thou take up one which is greater and heavier?
Look, Child, lest falling into delusion, thou become worse: like those, who fancy for themselves some great cross, and resolve to carry it at some future time, and, meanwhile, studiously shun every present cross, although less burdensome; and, when placed between the cross and guilt, are wont to embrace the latter rather than the former.
6. What fearest thou? why dreadest thou the cross? Cheer up, My Child: receive the cross, it will receive thee, and reward thee in a wonderful and manifold way: for, behold! it will preserve thee from uneasiness, from trouble of conscience, from anguish of heart, by which others, who prefer guilt to the cross, are wont to be tormented; it will guard for thee peace, it will adorn thee with virtues; in fine, it will console thee by its unction.
Courage, then, My Child; even if thou experiencest difficulty, do not flag in spirit. Behold! I, the guiltless Son of God, carry before thee, for love of thee, the heaviest Cross: do not disdain, for love of Me, to carry thy cross after Me. Love, which rendered My bitter Cross sweet for Me, will also render thine sweet.
Pray frequently, that thou mayst deserve to love the cross, together with sanctifying grace, above all the good things of this life,-----the Cross, a folly, indeed, to them that perish, but Divine wisdom to them that are saved: a torment to the enemies, but a consoling pledge of everlasting bliss to the Disciples of My Heart.
Well, then, My Child: come, follow Me: thither leads the way whither I will show thee: if thou abidest with Me, I will dispose unto thee, as My Father has also disposed unto Me, a kingdom.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----As the Lord lives: and as lives the Lord, my King, in whatsoever place Thou mayst be, my Lord, whether in death or in life, there will be Thy servant.
Gazing upon Thy standard, and encouraged by its motto, I will follow Thee, my Leader, through all: if any hardship present itself, mindful of Thy watchword, I will repeat: for the love of Jesus, Who has sacrificed Himself for love of me, I will overcome this difficulty: despite the feeling of nature, I will remain under His Banner.
If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear: if a battle should rise against me, in Thee will I hope.
Come, ye companions, behold! Jesus will be King over us: He will march out before us, He will fight our battles.
Let us go out, bearing His reproach: let us hasten to the contest placed before us, looking on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who, having joy set before Him, endured the Cross.
Let us go and die with Him: if we die together with Him, with Him we shall also live: if we endure with Him, with Him we shall also reign.
CHAPTER XIX. THAT JESUS CRUCIFIED, BY PRAYING FOR HIS EXECUTIONERS, MANIFESTS THE INFINITE GOODNESS OF HIS HEART TOWARD SINNERS, AND THAT, BY GRIEVOUS SIN, THESE CRUCIFY HIM ANEW
1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, behold! at last we come to Golgotha, to Mount Calvary. They lay down the Cross forthwith, they push forward and hurry on everything.
Nor do they, meanwhile, cease to torture Me. Nay, they even gave Me wine mingled with myrrh and gall. So great was their cruelty!
And, when they were now ready, raising a shout, they cruelly fasten Me to the Cross, driving in the nails, with violent and repeated strokes, which the valley below re-echoed to the sky,-----each one of which pierced the Heart of My Mother, there present.
Thus, Child, did they dig My hands and My feet: they counted all My bones, which, by the stretching of My Body, could be seen distinctly.
Then couldst thou behold the Cross ruthlessly raised, and Myself hanging between Heaven and earth; whilst the Blood flowed from every wound, washing the earth, and crying to Heaven for the salvation of man.
And, to increase My torments, they raised on the gallows two thieves, one at My right and one at My left, so that I was hanging between them.
But behold! so soon as I was elevated on the Cross, darkness overspread the whole earth. The sun and the moon, together in mourning, hid their light, and wrapped the world in doleful grief.
The people stood looking on. They that passed by, shaking their heads, blasphemed Me. But they that stood around mocked Me: in like manner also, the chiefs of the priests, with the Scribes and elders, insulted Me by derisive gestures The soldiers, too, jeered at Me, and, adding insults, they offered Me vinegar. All, in fine, sated Me with reproaches.
And amidst all this, what was I doing, Child? What My Heart? Father! I exclaimed, unfolding My Heart, Father! forgive them; they know not what they do: they know not how enormous is the crime which they are committing.
2. The Angels wept at this spectacle: all nature recoiled with horror, amazed at so great a wickedness of men, awe-struck at the marvelous goodness of My Heart.
Thou alone, wicked sinner, remainest unmoved whilst the universe trembles: thou, whilst Heaven and earth are terror-stricken, renewest the tortures of My Passion.
Behold! by sinning again, thou puttest a new cause for My death: thou perpetratest afresh that for which I was nailed to the Cross, that for which I also died.
Nay, more, since, by My grace, and by thy own experience, thou knowest Me better, and art bound to requite Me with greater gratitude and a more tender love; if thou dost again deliver Me up by sin, thou hast a greater sin than they that crucified Me: thou superaddest to the painfulness of My wounds: thou piercest My Heart, not when It is dead, but whilst It is living: by thy cruelty, as far as in thee lies, thou slayest Me, the Author of life, the Judge of thy everlasting destiny.
3. O most wretched of men! does naught of all this move thy heart? More wicked than Judas the betrayer, thou sayest to thy vile passions: What will ye give to me, and I will deliver Him to you?
And, placed between the passions which allure thee, and Myself Who forbids thee, thou exclaimest: Not this One, but Barabbas!
And when thy conscience cries out against thee: What, then, shall I do with Jesus? Thou shoutest, by thy actions: Let Him be crucified! let Him be crucified!
And, O crime! wishing to gratify thy desires, with Pilate thou givest Me up to be scoffed at, to be scourged, to be crucified!
Is this, O man! is this the return thou makest to Me, Who created thee, Who redeemed thee, Who preserved thee? Have all My favors, so great and so numerous, come to this, that for all these things thou makest again a mockery of Me and nailest Me to the Cross!
4. O if thou didst realize how frightful an evil thou art committing when thou sinnest in this manner, how couldst thou venture to do it? How canst thou have the hardihood?
Dost thou desire to know how a great an evil grievous sin is? Consider, how, in order to atone for it, I, the only Son of God, did give, not the world, not Heaven, not mankind, not the Angels, but My Own Self, the Lord of Heaven and earth, of men and Angels, so as to pour out My Blood and lay down My very life, amid torments surpassing all understanding.
Dost thou wish to know it still more clearly? Reflect, with a living faith, how sin renders all the torments of My Passion useless, and renews the same, in a most cruel manner, for thy greater condemnation.
Assuredly, the malice of sin is nowhere seen more evidently than in My Passion: neither could the enormity of sin have ever been known so clearly, if I had not died for it upon the Cross.
Weep, then, sinner, weep for thyself and over thy future lot: for if in the green wood, if in Me, the sins of others do produce such an effect: what will thy own sins, so great and so numerous, do in the dry wood, in thee?
If the Angels, when they yielded to pride, were not spared, but were dealt with according to justice; how much greater punishments, thinkest thou, does that man deserve, who tramples upon the Son of God, even after he has crucified Him?
Be not deceived, be not over-confident because thou art not punished on the spot; for now I endure: in time I give way to mercy, because for the exercise of justice I have an eternity.
If thou so wilt, thou canst fill up the measure of the sins which are tolerated in thee. I will not take away thy free will. I desire from men no service extorted by necessity.
Behold! from the treasury of My Heart, I have poured out upon thee abundant grace: if thou wilt co-operate efficaciously I will give thee an incomparable reward: if, on the contrary, thou wilt not, look thou to it; thou shalt bear the consequences.
But lo! I am still thy Saviour, still thy Father, ready to receive thee in My arms: but afterwards thou shalt find Me a just Judge and Retributer.
Have pity on thy soul, while it is yet time; and do not render thyself forever unhappy, by misusing that Passion, whereby thou canst secure for thyself everlasting bliss.
5. Come, O come to the Cross: here the kindness of thy Saviour is made manifest: here the greatness of My fatherly affection shines forth: here My wounds do not only move to sorrow and penitence, but, likewise, offer both pardon and grace: here the voice of My Blood, with a loud cry, makes intercession for thee: here, finally, My Heart burns with desire for thy eternal salvation.
Contemplate, gaze upon Me, the Son of God, nailed to the Cross and dying for sin: and thou wilt detest the same with thy whole heart, and turn thee again to serve Me with fervor; even as the crowd of those that were present on Calvary, and beheld this spectacle, returned striking their breasts.
If thou art tempted to sin again, fly to the Cross and, looking upon Me hanging thereon, say to thyself: Behold! the Son of God dies upon a Cross to save me: shall I crucify Him anew, in order to damn myself? Should I do this, can there be in Hell punishments enough to punish, according to its deserts, so great an iniquity? In every contest with the devil, thou canst contend with him in no more advantageous place than beneath the Cross: for here was he despoiled of his sway and strength: here thou shalt easily triumph over him.
6. And thou, My Child, didst thou understand what I said? Didst thou fully comprehend what horrible things the sinner does against Me, when he sins grievously? Canst thou behold unmoved all this? Art thou not willing to use thy every effort to hinder such things?
See how important a matter it is to prevent sin, since, by so doing, thou hinderest Me from being again overwhelmed with reproaches, from being again tom to pieces by scourges, from being again crucified, at least in desire, by the sinner.
Wherefore, shouldst thou prevent only one sin, thou wouldst do something greater and better than if thou shouldst preserve thy country from destruction.
Canst thou love Me, and not care to turn away so great an evil from Me? If love do not inflame thee, let compassion at least move thee to take care that I be not again subjected to insults so great and manifold.
Thou makest profession of being a Disciple of My Heart: of thee, therefore, I ask, of thee I desire with My innermost Heart, that, by thyself and by others, whomsoever thou canst induce thereto, thou strive as much as thou canst, always and everywhere, to prevent sin, and to make amends to Me by the fidelity of thy love for the cruel ungratefulness of sinners.
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----But I also, Lord Jesus, am a sinful person I am not worthy, I confess it to Thee, to be called a Disciple of Thy Heart.
For I have heaped countless insults upon Thee: I, too, have sated Thy Heart with the most bitter sorrows yea, did I not,-O be merciful to me a sinner! did not I oftentimes crucify Thee?
Eternal thanks to Thee for that infinite goodness of Thy Heart, whereby Thou hast borne with me so patiently, and hast converted me so mercifully.
O most benign and sweet Jesus! I humbly implore Thee, grant me grace to make amends for the great wrongs I have done Thee, and to love Thee, during the remainder of my life, with the more fervor and tenderness the kinder and sweeter Thou hast been to me.
CHAPTER XX. THAT JESUS, BY FORGIVING FROM HIS HEART, THE THIEF AND BY PROMISING PARADISE TO HIM, TEACHES US HOW WE SHOULD ENDURE ANXIETY CONCERNING
OUR ETERNAL SALVATION
1. The voice of Jesus.-----Behold! My Child, while all nature, wrapped in darkness, was mourning for Me, one of the thieves, hanging near Me, began to blaspheme Me: but the other, struck with a saving fear, rebuked him: And dost thou not fear God, said he, seeing that thou art under the same condemnation? And we, indeed, justly; for we receive the reward due to our deeds: but He has done no evil.
Moved by the example of My Divine patience, heroic charity,-----whereby I had prayed for My very torturers,-----the unconquerable meekness of My Heart, My perfect resignation amidst the torments of My Passion, and assisted by a supernal light and grace, he conceived and expressed his faith and hope in Me, as well as his love for Me.
Penitent in heart, he turned himself with affection to Me, and: Lord, he exclaimed, Lord, remember me, when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom.
Seeing that he co-operated with grace,-----which outwardly worked upon him by means of the spectacle presented to his view, and inwardly flowed upon him from My Heart,-----I hastened to console him, as he was well-nigh overwhelmed by the weight of his past offenses, and full of anxiety about the future salvation of his soul.
Forthwith of a robber, I made him a Saint; of an avowed evil-doer, a Disciple of My Heart; of the sinful Dismas, a companion and partaker of My kingdom. Such is the goodness of My Heart!
Verily, I said to him, verily, this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise. He believed, and continuing to weep for his errors, and to love My goodness, he persevered calmly upon his cross, awaiting the blissful hope, and union with Me in My kingdom.
Lo, My Child, how thou shouldst deport thyself amid the troublesome anxieties concerning thy salvation, which torment thee sometimes.
2. The Voice of the Disciple.-----Do not take it amiss, I beseech Thee, O Lord, if I speak. Behold! Thou didst not say to me: Thou shalt be with Me in Paradise. Wert Thou to tell me this, I would, of a certainty, believe it; neither would I be any longer uneasy about my everlasting salvation. But now, I do not know what may befall me in the end, and for this is my heart tormented.
The voice of Jesus.-----Were I to say the same Child, thou couldst not understand it, except in so much as it is compatible with thy free will; for I am ever the same: I made man in the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel: I gave him My commands, and said to him: If thou wilt keep My commands, they will keep thee.
But, thy freedom remaining the while, and being rightly used, I say also to thee: Thou shalt be with Me in Paradise. For I will that thou and all others be saved.
It is true that some vessels are made unto honor, and others unto dishonor: but it is the wickedness of man, not the Providence of God, that makes the vessels unto dishonor. For, if anyone, being a vessel unto dishonor, correct himself, he shall be a vessel sanctified unto honor.
3. The voice of the Disciple.-----Salvation, then, O Lord, depends on man's free will.
The voice of Jesus.-----Thou mistakest, My Child: for man, in order to work out his salvation, yea, even to begin to do so, needs grace from above, without which he can neither secure the same, nor even attempt it.
But I give freely this preventing and assisting grace to all men; by the use of which each one can save himself, by its neglect he loses himself.
Therefore, man's salvation comes from Me first; afterward, it depends on his own free co-operation: but his perdition arises in the first place from himself, in the next, from the neglect of grace.
The voice of the Disciple.-----Yet, O Lord, it is this possibility of abusing my free will; and the dread that, at some time or other, I will abuse it, which especially disquiets my heart.
The voice of Jesus.-----But, My Child, herein lies the virtue, the glory of man, that he has the power to transgress, and yet does not transgress; to do evil, and does not do it. This is, upon earth, a service worthy of Me, honorable to Me: most noble and meritorious for thee.
Yea, thy very anxiety, lest thou mayst, at some future time, abuse thy free will, provided it be kept within proper bounds, will procure thee many advantages.
For nothing is better adapted to keep thee in humility, without which all other virtues are nigh to a fall and to destruction, than to know, yea, in some manner, to feel, that, even if by holiness thou art raised to the third heaven, thou mayst still become a reprobate.
Thence arises, also, a more anxious love for Me, whereby thou exertest thyself to avoid more carefully all dangers and to cling more firmly to Me.
Thou wilt also learn to withdraw thyself more perfectly from the things of this life when thou knowest that no complete security can be found therein.
Lastly, thou wilt sigh more fervently for that immortal life, where thou shalt be safe and secure, not only from danger, but from the fear of danger.
4. It is profitable, My Child, to be solicitous, above everything else, concerning thy everlasting salvation: but thou shouldst be on thy guard lest thou fall into faintheartedness.
There are they who,-----seeing that it is possible for them to be lost, and trembling with fear, lest they may lose in the future the merits which they have acquired by much labor, and fall into an eternity of woe,-----become so downhearted that they have neither strength nor courage to serve Me with cheerfulness, but they drag on a life unworthy alike of Me and of themselves.
Whence it happens, that of a possibility they make a reality, by turning a possible into a real danger.
Be thou wiser, My Child: beware lest thou convert that which is for thy good into thy downfall: lest by too great a fear of ruin thou expose thyself to ruin.
Keep faithfully thy good will of doing what morally thou art able; and patiently endure every anxiety, if thou dost experience any that is troublesome, as a precious and wholesome share which thou hast inwardly in My sorrows.
In suffering an affliction of this sort, endeavor on the one hand, never to yield to it, but to remain resigned to the Divine Will; and, on the other, be careful not to leave off anything of thy usual works or practices, which are conducive to thy salvation and perfection.
5. Whatever inward sufferings thou mayst feel, be not disturbed thereby, fully persuaded, that to a person of good will,-----who does what he can-----troubles cannot arise except from the enemy of salvation; who-----unable to lead such a one into sin or destruction-----endeavors to lead him by annoyances, anxieties, specious subtleties, under pretense of greater security, to that whereto he cannot bring him by temptation.
Guard diligently against these snares, My Child; nor suffer thyself, by any reasoning whatsoever, to be pushed out of the center of thy peace.
So apply thyself to work out thy salvation, as if its success depended on thy labors; and so have recourse to Me by prayer, as if I alone could make thee not only succeed, but also make thee perform the works themselves; and, lastly, so do thou confide in Me, as to believe that I will hear thy prayer and crown thy labors with a happy result.
6. But behold! My Child, every man is here disquieted in vain: for I desire that none should perish. Now what is it that can cause the perdition of a person except sin? Keep thyself, therefore, free from sin, and thou shalt not perish forever.
Why, then, art thou tormented by anxiety about thy predestination? Behold! if thou wilt be predestined, shun evil and do good perseveringly, and thou shalt be predestined.
Blessed is he, who, setting aside all vain reasonings, by deeds, not by speculations, strives to make his election sure!
7. The voice of the Disciple.-----O most sweet and loving Jesus! Thou art truly the God of consolation. Thanks to Thee for this great blessing, whereby Thou raisest up and refreshest my downcast heart.
Behold! Thou art hanging on theCcross, overwhelmed by sorrows, and Thou forgettest Thyself in order to be mindful of men; Thou securest my salvation not only by suffering but also by consoling. Why, then, should I not calmly intrust to Thee my everlasting destiny?
By Thy grace, which I will never cease to implore, I will do all that I can; all other solicitude I throw upon Thy most tender Heart, which did not suffer even the thief to perish in death.
Remember me, Lord, in Thy kingdom; be mindful of me in my banishment: be especially mindful of me whensoever Thou seest me in danger of losing my soul; remember me in life and in death, that hereafter I may be with Thee in Paradise.