The Imitation of Christ
Thomas á Kempis, 1380-1471
Rights: Public Domain
THE LATIN INTO MODERN ENGLISH
THE BRUCE PUBLISHING COMPANY
Nihil obstat: H. B. Ries, Censor liborum
Imprimatur: +Moyses E. Kiley, Archiepiscopus Milwaukiensis
November 5, 1940
The Bruce Publishing Company
Printed in the U. S. A. (Ninth Printing - 1949)
Table of Contents
Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Book One: Thoughts helpful to the Life of the Soul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Chapter 1: Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth. . . . . 7
Chapter 2: Having a Humble Opinion of Self . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Chapter 3: The Doctrine of Truth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Chapter 4: Prudence in Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Chapter 5: Reading the Holy Scripture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Chapter 6: Unbridled Affections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Chapter 7: Avoiding False Hope and Pride . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Chapter 8: Shunning Over-Familiarity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Chapter 9: Obedience and Subjection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Chapter 10: Avoiding Idle Talk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Chapter 11: Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Chapter 12: The Value of Adversity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Chapter 13: Resisting Temptation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Chapter 14: Avoiding Rash Judgment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Chapter 15: Works Done in Charity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Chapter 16: Bearing with the Faults of Others . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Chapter 17: Monastic Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Chapter 18: The Example Set Us by the Holy Fathers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
Chapter 19: The Practices of a Good Religious . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Chapter 20: The Love of Solitude and Silence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Chapter 21: Sorrow of Heart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Chapter 22: Thoughts on the Misery of Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Chapter 23: Thoughts on Death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Chapter 24: Judgment and the Punishment of Sin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Chapter 25: Zeal in Amending our Lives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Book Two: The Interior Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Chapter 1: Meditation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Chapter 2: Humility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Chapter 3: Goodness and Peace in Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Chapter 4: Purity of Mind and Unity of Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Chapter 5: Ourselves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Chapter 6: The Joy of a Good Conscience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Chapter 7: Loving Jesus Above All Things . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Chapter 8: The Intimate Friendship of Jesus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Chapter 9: Wanting No Share in Comfort . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
Chapter 10: Appreciating God's Grace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Chapter 11: Few Love the Cross of Jesus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Chapter 12: The Royal Road of the Holy Cross . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Book Three: Internal Consolation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Chapter 1: The Inward Conversation of Christ with the Faithful Soul 71
Chapter 2: Truth Speaks Inwardly Without the Sound of Words . . . . . 72
Chapter 3: Listen
Humbly to the Words of God. Many Do Not Heed Them
Chapter 4: We Must Walk Before God in Humility and Truth . . . . . . . 76
Chapter 5: The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
Chapter 6: The Proving of a True Lover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
Chapter 7: Grace Must Be Hidden Under the Mantle of Humility . . . . . 82
Chapter 8: Self-Abasement in the Sight of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
Chapter 9: All Things should be Referred to God as their Last End . . . 85
Chapter 10: To Despise the World and Serve God is Sweet . . . . . . . . . 86
Chapter 11: The
Longings of our Hearts Must Be Examined And
Moderated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Chapter 12: Acquiring Patience in the Fight Against Concupiscence . . .89
Chapter 13: The
Obedience of One Humbly Subject to the Example of
Jesus Christ. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
Chapter 14: Consider
the Hidden Judgments of God Lest You Become
Proud of Your Own Good Deeds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
Chapter 15: How One Should Feel and Speak on Every Desirable Thing 93
Chapter 16: True Comfort Is to Be Sought in God Alone . . . . . . . . . . . 95
Chapter 17: All Our Care is to Be Placed in God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
Chapter 18: Temporal
Sufferings Should Be Borne Patiently, After the
Example of Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
Chapter 19: True Patience in Suffering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
Chapter 20: Confessing Our Weakness in the Miseries of Life . . . . . . 100
Chapter 21: Above All Goods and All Gifts We Must Rest in God . . 102
Chapter 22: Remember the Innumerable Gifts of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
Chapter 23: Four Things Which Bring Great Peace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .106
Chapter 24: Avoiding Curious Inquiry About the Lives of Others . . . 108
Chapter 25: The Basis of Firm Peace of Heart and True Progress. . . . 109
Chapter 26: The
Excellence of a Free Mind, Gained Through Prayer Rather
Than By Study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
Chapter 27: Self-Love is the Greatest Hindrance to the Highest Good 112
Chapter 28: Strength Against Slander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
Chapter 29: How We
Must Call Upon and Bless the Lord When Trouble
Presses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
Chapter 30: The
Quest of Divine Help and Confidence in Regaining Grace
Chapter 31: To Find the Creator, Forsake All Creatures . . . . . . . . . . . 118
Chapter 32: Self-Denial and the Renunciation of Evil Appetites. . . . . 120
Chapter 33: Restlessness
of Soul--Directing Our Final Intention Toward
God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
Chapter 34: God is
Sweet Above All Things and in All Things to Those
Who Love Him . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Chapter 35: There is No Security from Temptation in This Life . . . . .125
Chapter 36: The Vain Judgments of Men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
Chapter 37: Pure
and Entire Resignation of Self to Obtain Freedom of
Heart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
Chapter 38: The
Right Ordering of External Affairs; Recourse to God in
Dangers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
Chapter 39: A Man
Should Not Be Unduly Solicitous About His Affairs
Chapter 40: Man Has No Good in Himself and Can Glory in Nothing 130
Chapter 41: Contempt for All Earthly Honor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Chapter 42: Peace is Not to Be Placed in Men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
Chapter 43: Beware Vain and Worldly Knowledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
Chapter 44: Do Not Be Concerned About Outward Things . . . . . . . . . 136
Chapter 45: All
Men Are Not to Be Believed, for It Is Easy to Err in
Speech . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
Chapter 46: Trust in God Against Slander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
Chapter 47: Every Trial Must Be Borne for the Sake of Eternal Life . . 141
Chapter 48: The Day of Eternity and the Distresses of This Life . . . . . 143
Chapter 49: The
Desire of Eternal Life; the Great Rewards Promised to
Those Who Struggle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .145
Chapter 50: How a
Desolate Person Ought to Commit Himself Into the
Hands of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
Chapter 51: When
We Cannot Attain to the Highest, We Must Practice the
Humble Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .151
Chapter 52: A Man
Ought Not to Consider Himself Worthy of
Consolation, But Rather Deserving of Chastisement . . . . . . . . 152
Chapter 53: God's Grace Is Not Given to the Earthly Minded . . . . . . . 154
Chapter 54: The Different Motions of Nature and Grace. . . . . . . . . . . . 156
Chapter 55: The Corruption of Nature and the Efficacy of Divine Grace 159
Chapter 56: We
Ought to Deny Ourselves and Imitate Christ Through
Bearing the Cross . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
Chapter 57: A Man
Should Not Be Too Downcast When He Falls Into
Defects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
Chapter 58: High
Matters and the Hidden Judgments of God Are Not to Be
Scrutinized . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
Chapter 59: All Hope and Trust Are to Be Fixed In God Alone . . . . . . 168
Book Four: An Invitation to Holy Communion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
Chapter 1: The Great Reverence With Which We Should Receive Christ
Chapter 2: God's
Great Goodness and Love is Shown to Man in This
Sacrament . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
Chapter 3: It Is Profitable to Receive Communion Often . . . . . . . . . . . 176
Chapter 4: Many
Blessings Are Given Those Who Receive Communion
Worthily . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178
Chapter 5: The Dignity of the Sacrament and of the Priesthood . . . . . . 180
Chapter 6: An Inquiry on the Proper Thing to Do Before Communion 182
Chapter 7: The
Examination of Conscience and the Resolution to Amend
Chapter 8: The Offering of Christ on the Cross; Our Offering . . . . . . 185
Chapter 9: We
Should Offer Ourselves and All That We Have to God,
Praying for All . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
Chapter 10: Do Not Lightly Forego Holy Communion . . . . . . . . . . . 188
Chapter 11: The
Body of Christ and Sacred Scripture Are Most Necessary
to a Faithful Soul . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Chapter 12: The
Communicant Should Prepare Himself for Christ with
Great Care . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194
Chapter 13: With
All Her Heart the Devout Soul Should Desire Union with
Christ in the Sacrament . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196
Chapter 14: The Ardent Longing of Devout Men for the Body of Christ 198
Chapter 15: The
Grace of Devotion is Acquired Through Humility and
Self-Denial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
Chapter 16: We Should Show Our Needs to Christ and Ask His Grace 201
Chapter 17: The Burning Love and Strong Desire to Receive Christ . . .202
Chapter 18: Man
Should Not Scrutinize This Sacrament in Curiosity, But
Humbly Imitate Christ and Submit Reason to Holy Faith . . . . . . 204
Indexes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
IN PREPARING this edition of The Imitation of Christ, the aim was to
achieve a simple, readable text which would ring true to those who are
already lovers of this incomparable book and would attract others to
it. For this reason we have attempted to render the text into English
as it is spoken today rather than the cloudy, archaic terminology that
encumbers so many translations of Christian classics. The result, we
feel, has achieved a directness and conciseness which will meet the
approval of modern readers. In the second place, we have made use of
the familiar paragraph form, doing away with the simple statement or
verse form of the original and of many translations. This was done in
the interest of easier reading, and in order to bring out more clearly
the connection between the single statements.
No claim of literary excellence over the many English versions now
extant is here advanced, nor any attempt to solve in further confusion
the problem of the book's authorship.
Theories most popular at the moment ascribe the Imitation to two or
three men, members of the Brethren of the Common Life, an association
of priests organized in the Netherlands in the latter half of the
fourteenth century. That Thomas Hemerken of Kempen, or Thomas á Kempis
as he is now known, later translated a composite of their writings,
essentially a spiritual diary, from the original Netherlandish into
Latin is generally admitted by scholars. This Thomas, born about the
year 1380, was educated by the Brethren of the Common Life, was moved
to join their community, and was ordained priest. His career thereafter
was devoted to practicing the counsels of spiritual perfection and to
copying books for the schools. From both pursuits evolved The Imitation
of Christ. As editor and translator he was not without faults, but
thanks to him the Imitation became and has remained, after the Bible,
the most widely read book in the world. It is his edition that is here
rendered into English, without deletion of chapters or parts of them
because doubts exist as to their authorship, or because of variants in
style, or for any of the other more or less valid reasons.
There is but one major change. The treatise on Holy Communion, which á
Kempis places as Book Three, is here titled Book Four. The move makes
the order of the whole more logical and agrees with the thought of most
The Translators: Aloysius Croft and Harold Bolton
THOUGHTS HELPFUL IN THE LIFE OF THE SOUL
The First Chapter
Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth
“HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness," says the Lord (John 8:12).
By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits,
if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of
heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus
The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the
saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now,
there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because
they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand
fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of
What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking
humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that
makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to
God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For
what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the
principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the
love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God
and serve Him alone.
This is the greatest wisdom--to seek the kingdom of heaven through
contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in
riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed
up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to
desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity
to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is
vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision
for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to
look ahead where eternal joy abides.
Often recall the proverb: "The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the
ear filled with hearing."  Try, moreover, to turn your heart from
the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For
they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and
lose the grace of God.
 Eccles. 1:8.
The Second Chapter
Having a Humble Opinion of Self
EVERY man naturally desires knowledge ; but what good is knowledge
without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better
than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of
the stars.  He who knows himself well becomes mean in his own eyes
and is not happy when praised by men.
If I knew all things in the world and had not charity, what would it
profit me before God Who will judge me by my deeds?
Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting
and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called
wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or
no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things
than those which lead to salvation is very unwise.
Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and
a clean conscience inspires great trust in God.
The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will
you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud,
therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of
the talent given you. If you think you know many things and understand
them well enough, realize at the same time that there is much you do
not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why
prefer yourself to anyone else when many are more learned, more
cultured than you?
If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to
be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is
the best and most perfect counsel. To think of oneself as nothing, and
always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect
wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious
crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long
you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit
that none is more frail than yourself.
 Aristotle, Metaphysics, i. 1.
 Augustine, Confessions V. 4.
The Third Chapter
The Doctrine of Truth
HAPPY is he to whom truth manifests itself, not in signs and words that
fade, but as it actually is. Our opinions, our senses often deceive us
and we discern very little.
What good is much discussion of involved and obscure matters when our
ignorance of them will not be held against us on Judgment Day? Neglect
of things which are profitable and necessary and undue concern with
those which are irrelevant and harmful, are great folly.
We have eyes and do not see.
What, therefore, have we to do with questions of philosophy? He to whom
the Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing. For from this Word are
all things and of Him all things speak--the Beginning Who also speaks
to us. Without this Word no man understands or judges aright. He to
whom it becomes everything, who traces all things to it and who sees
all things in it, may ease his heart and remain at peace with God.
O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love everlasting.
I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in You is
all that I long for. Let the learned be still, let all creatures be
silent before You; You alone speak to me.
The more recollected a man is, and the more simple of heart he becomes,
the easier he understands sublime things, for he receives the light of
knowledge from above. The pure, simple, and steadfast spirit is not
distracted by many labors, for he does them all for the honor of God.
And since he enjoys interior peace he seeks no selfish end in anything.
What, indeed, gives more trouble and affliction than uncontrolled
desires of the heart?
A good and devout man arranges in his mind the things he has to do, not
according to the whims of evil inclination but according to the
dictates of right reason. Who is forced to struggle more than he who
tries to master himself? This ought to be our purpose, then: to conquer
self, to become stronger each day, to advance in virtue.
Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed with it and
no learning of ours is without some darkness. Humble knowledge of self
is a surer path to God than the ardent pursuit of learning. Not that
learning is to be considered evil, or knowledge, which is good in
itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life
ought always to be preferred. Many often err and accomplish little or
nothing because they try to become learned rather than to live well.
If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting virtues as
they do in discussing problems, there would not be so much evil and
scandal in the world, or such laxity in religious organizations. On the
day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read but
what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have
Tell me, where now are all the masters and teachers whom you knew so
well in life and who were famous for their learning? Others have
already taken their places and I know not whether they ever think of
their predecessors. During life they seemed to be something; now they
are seldom remembered. How quickly the glory of the world passes away!
If only their lives had kept pace with their learning, then their study
and reading would have been worth while.
How many there are who perish because of vain worldly knowledge and too
little care for serving God. They became vain in their own conceits
because they chose to be great rather than humble.
He is truly great who has great charity. He is truly great who is
little in his own eyes and makes nothing of the highest honor. He is
truly wise who looks upon all earthly things as folly that he may gain
Christ. He who does God's will and renounces his own is truly very
The Fourth Chapter
Prudence in Action
DO NOT yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider things
carefully and patiently in the light of God's will. For very often, sad
to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather
than good. Perfect men, however, do not readily believe every
talebearer, because they know that human frailty is prone to evil and
is likely to appear in speech.
Not to act rashly or to cling obstinately to one's opinion, not to
believe everything people say or to spread abroad the gossip one has
heard, is great wisdom.
Take counsel with a wise and conscientious man. Seek the advice of your
betters in preference to following your own inclinations.
A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him experience
in many things, for the more humble he is and the more subject to God,
the wiser and the more at peace he will be in all things.
The Fifth Chapter
Reading the Holy Scripture
TRUTH, not eloquence, is to be sought in reading the Holy Scriptures;
and every part must be read in the spirit in which it was written. For
in the Scriptures we ought to seek profit rather than polished diction.
Likewise we ought to read simple and devout books as willingly as
learned and profound ones. We ought not to be swayed by the authority
of the writer, whether he be a great literary light or an insignificant
person, but by the love of simple truth. We ought not to ask who is
speaking, but mark what is said. Men pass away, but the truth of the
Lord remains forever. God speaks to us in many ways without regard for
Our curiosity often impedes our reading of the Scriptures, when we wish
to understand and mull over what we ought simply to read and pass by.
If you would profit from it, therefore, read with humility, simplicity,
and faith, and never seek a reputation for being learned. Seek
willingly and listen attentively to the words of the saints; do not be
displeased with the sayings of the ancients, for they were not made
The Sixth Chapter
WHEN a man desires a thing too much, he at once becomes ill at ease. A
proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who is poor and humble
of heart lives in a world of peace. An unmortified man is quickly
tempted and overcome in small, trifling evils; his spirit is weak, in a
measure carnal and inclined to sensual things; he can hardly abstain
from earthly desires. Hence it makes him sad to forego them; he is
quick to anger if reproved. Yet if he satisfies his desires, remorse of
conscience overwhelms him because he followed his passions and they did
not lead to the peace he sought.
True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions, not in
satisfying them. There is no peace in the carnal man, in the man given
to vain attractions, but there is peace in the fervent and spiritual
The Seventh Chapter
Avoiding False Hope and Pride
VAIN is the man who puts his trust in men, in created things.
Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ and to
seem poor in this world. Do not be self-sufficient but place your trust
in God. Do what lies in your power and God will aid your good will. Put
no trust in your own learning nor in the cunning of any man, but rather
in the grace of God Who helps the humble and humbles the proud.
If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends because they are
powerful, but in God Who gives all things and Who desires above all to
give Himself. Do not boast of personal stature or of physical beauty,
qualities which are marred and destroyed by a little sickness. Do not
take pride in your talent or ability, lest you displease God to Whom
belongs all the natural gifts that you have.
Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you be
accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not take pride
in your good deeds, for God's judgments differ from those of men and
what pleases them often displeases Him. If there is good in you, see
more good in others, so that you may remain humble. It does no harm to
esteem yourself less than anyone else, but it is very harmful to think
yourself better than even one. The humble live in continuous peace,
while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger.
The Eighth Chapter
DO NOT open your heart to every man, but discuss your affairs with one
who is wise and who fears God. Do not keep company with young people
and strangers. Do not fawn upon the rich, and do not be fond of
mingling with the great. Associate with the humble and the simple, with
the devout and virtuous, and with them speak of edifying things. Be not
intimate with any woman, but generally commend all good women to God.
Seek only the intimacy of God and of His angels, and avoid the notice
We ought to have charity for all men but familiarity with all is not
expedient. Sometimes it happens that a person enjoys a good reputation
among those who do not know him, but at the same time is held in slight
regard by those who do. Frequently we think we are pleasing others by
our presence and we begin rather to displease them by the faults they
find in us.
The Ninth Chapter
Obedience and Subjection
IT IS a very great thing to obey, to live under a superior and not to
be one's own master, for it is much safer to be subject than it is to
command. Many live in obedience more from necessity than from love.
Such become discontented and dejected on the slightest pretext; they
will never gain peace of mind unless they subject themselves
wholeheartedly for the love of God.
Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble obedience to
the rule of authority. Dreams of happiness expected from change and
different places have deceived many.
Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is attracted to
those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we must at times give
up our opinions for the blessings of peace.
Furthermore, who is so wise that he can have full knowledge of
everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions, but be willing
to listen to those of others. If, though your own be good, you accept
another's opinion for love of God, you will gain much more merit; for I
have often heard that it is safer to listen to advice and take it than
to give it. It may happen, too, that while one's own opinion may be
good, refusal to agree with others when reason and occasion demand it,
is a sign of pride and obstinacy.
The Tenth Chapter
Avoiding Idle Talk
SHUN the gossip of men as much as possible, for discussion of worldly
affairs, even though sincere, is a great distraction inasmuch as we are
quickly ensnared and captivated by vanity.
Many a time I wish that I had held my peace and had not associated with
men. Why, indeed, do we converse and gossip among ourselves when we so
seldom part without a troubled conscience? We do so because we seek
comfort from one another's conversation and wish to ease the mind
wearied by diverse thoughts. Hence, we talk and think quite fondly of
things we like very much or of things we dislike intensely. But, sad to
say, we often talk vainly and to no purpose; for this external pleasure
effectively bars inward and divine consolation.
Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly.
When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say something
that will edify.
Bad habits and indifference to spiritual progress do much to remove the
guard from the tongue. Devout conversation on spiritual matters, on the
contrary, is a great aid to spiritual progress, especially when persons
of the same mind and spirit associate together in God.
The Eleventh Chapter
Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection
WE SHOULD enjoy much peace if we did not concern ourselves with what
others say and do, for these are no concern of ours. How can a man who
meddles in affairs not his own, who seeks strange distractions, and who
is little or seldom inwardly recollected, live long in peace?
Blessed are the simple of heart for they shall enjoy peace in
Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to contemplation?
Because they tried to mortify entirely in themselves all earthly
desires, and thus they were able to attach themselves to God with all
their heart and freely to concentrate their innermost thoughts.
We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken up with
passing things. Rarely do we completely conquer even one vice, and we
are not inflamed with the desire to improve ourselves day by day;
hence, we remain cold and indifferent. If we mortified our bodies
perfectly and allowed no distractions to enter our minds, we could
appreciate divine things and experience something of heavenly
The greatest obstacle, indeed, the only obstacle, is that we are not
free from passions and lusts, that we do not try to follow the perfect
way of the saints. Thus when we encounter some slight difficulty, we
are too easily dejected and turn to human consolations. If we tried,
however, to stand as brave men in battle, the help of the Lord from
heaven would surely sustain us. For He Who gives us the opportunity of
fighting for victory, is ready to help those who carry on and trust in
If we let our progress in religious life depend on the observance of
its externals alone, our devotion will quickly come to an end. Let us,
then, lay the ax to the root that we may be freed from our passions and
thus have peace of mind.
If we were to uproot only one vice each year, we should soon become
perfect. The contrary, however, is often the case--we feel that we were
better and purer in the first fervor of our conversion than we are
after many years in the practice of our faith. Our fervor and progress
ought to increase day by day; yet it is now considered noteworthy if a
man can retain even a part of his first fervor.
If we did a little violence to ourselves at the start, we should
afterwards be able to do all things with ease and joy. It is hard to
break old habits, but harder still to go against our will.
If you do not overcome small, trifling things, how will you overcome
the more difficult? Resist temptations in the beginning, and unlearn
the evil habit lest perhaps, little by little, it lead to a more evil
If you but consider what peace a good life will bring to yourself and
what joy it will give to others, I think you will be more concerned
about your spiritual progress.
The Twelfth Chapter
The Value of Adversity
IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often
remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly
thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be
misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well. These things
help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory. When to all outward
appearances men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us,
then we are more inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts. Therefore, a
man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the
consolations of men.
When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil
thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is God, without
Whom he can do no good. Saddened by his miseries and sufferings, he
laments and prays. He wearies of living longer and wishes for death
that he might be dissolved and be with Christ. Then he understands
fully that perfect security and complete peace cannot be found on
The Thirteenth Chapter
SO LONG as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and
temptation. Whence it is written in Job: "The life of man upon earth is
a warfare."  Everyone, therefore, must guard against temptation and
must watch in prayer lest the devil, who never sleeps but goes about
seeking whom he may devour, find occasion to deceive him. No one is so
perfect or so holy but he is sometimes tempted; man cannot be
altogether free from temptation.
Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often useful to a
man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and instructed. The saints
all passed through many temptations and trials to profit by them, while
those who could not resist became reprobate and fell away. There is no
state so holy, no place so secret that temptations and trials will not
come. Man is never safe from them as long as he lives, for they come
from within us--in sin we were born. When one temptation or trial
passes, another comes; we shall always have something to suffer because
we have lost the state of original blessedness.
Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more deeply. We
cannot conquer simply by fleeing, but by patience and true humility we
become stronger than all our enemies. The man who only shuns
temptations outwardly and does not uproot them will make little
progress; indeed they will quickly return, more violent than before.
Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will overcome
them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your own rash
ways. Often take counsel when tempted; and do not be harsh with others
who are tempted, but console them as you yourself would wish to be
The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little
trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and yon by
waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many ways. Fire
tempers iron and temptation steels the just. Often we do not know what
we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are.
Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of
temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused
admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.
Someone has said very aptly: "Resist the beginnings; remedies come too
late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength." First, a mere
thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure,
evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the
beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in
resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the
strength of the enemy grows against him.
Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their conversion,
others toward the end, while some are troubled almost constantly
throughout their life. Others, again, are tempted but lightly according
to the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence Who weighs the status
and merit of each and prepares all for the salvation of His elect.
We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but pray to God
the more fervently that He may see fit to help us, for according to the
word of Paul, He will make issue with temptation that we may be able to
bear it. Let us humble our souls under the hand of God in every trial
and temptation for He will save and exalt the humble in spirit.
In temptations and trials the progress of a man is measured; in them
opportunity for merit and virtue is made more manifest.
When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and
devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity, there is
hope for great progress.
Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by
small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials,
they may not presume on their own strength in great ones.
 Job 7:1.
The Fourteenth Chapter
Avoiding Rash Judgment
TURN your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of
other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly, often makes
mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking stock of
himself he does something that is always profitable.
We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be, for through
personal feeling true perspective is easily lost.
If God were the sole object of our desire, we should not be disturbed
so easily by opposition to our opinions. But often something lurks
within or happens from without to draw us along with it.
Many, unawares, seek themselves in the things they do. They seem even
to enjoy peace of mind when things happen according to their wish and
liking, but if otherwise than they desire, they are soon disturbed and
saddened. Differences of feeling and opinion often divide friends and
acquaintances, even those who are religious and devout.
An old habit is hard to break, and no one is willing to be led farther
than he can see.
If you rely more upon your intelligence or industry than upon the
virtue of submission to Jesus Christ, you will hardly, and in any case
slowly, become an enlightened man. God wants us to be completely
subject to Him and, through ardent love, to rise above all human
The Fifteenth Chapter
Works Done in Charity
NEVER do evil for anything in the world, or for the love of any man.
For one who is in need, however, a good work may at times be purposely
left undone or changed for a better one. This is not the omission of a
good deed but rather its improvement.
Without charity external work is of no value, but anything done in
charity, be it ever so small and trivial, is entirely fruitful inasmuch
as God weighs the love with which a man acts rather than the deed
He does much who loves much. He does much who does a thing well. He
does well who serves the common good rather than his own interests.
Now, that which seems to be charity is oftentimes really sensuality,
for man's own inclination, his own will, his hope of reward, and his
self-interest, are motives seldom absent. On the contrary, he who has
true and perfect charity seeks self in nothing, but searches all things
for the glory of God. Moreover, he envies no man, because he desires no
personal pleasure nor does he wish to rejoice in himself; rather he
desires the greater glory of God above all things. He ascribes to man
nothing that is good but attributes it wholly to God from Whom all
things proceed as from a fountain, and in Whom all the blessed shall
rest as their last end and fruition.
If man had but a spark of true charity he would surely sense that all
the things of earth are full of vanity!
The Sixteenth Chapter
Bearing with the Faults of Others
UNTIL God ordains otherwise, a man ought to bear patiently whatever he
cannot correct in himself and in others. Consider it better
thus--perhaps to try your patience and to test you, for without such
patience and trial your merits are of little account. Nevertheless,
under such difficulties you should pray that God will consent to help
you bear them calmly.
If, after being admonished once or twice, a person does not amend, do
not argue with him but commit the whole matter to God that His will and
honor may be furthered in all His servants, for God knows well how to
turn evil to good. Try to bear patiently with the defects and
infirmities of others, whatever they may be, because you also have many
a fault which others must endure.
If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how can you bend
others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet we do not correct
our own faults. We wish them to be severely corrected, yet we will not
correct ourselves. Their great liberty displeases us, yet we would not
be denied what we ask. We would have them bound by laws, yet we will
allow ourselves to be restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how
seldom we think of others as we do of ourselves.
If all were perfect, what should we have to suffer from others for
God's sake? But God has so ordained, that we may learn to bear with one
another's burdens, for there is no man without fault, no man without
burden, no man sufficient to himself nor wise enough. Hence we must
support one another, console one another, mutually help, counsel, and
advise, for the measure of every man's virtue is best revealed in time
of adversity--adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows
what he is.
The Seventeenth Chapter
IF YOU wish peace and concord with others, you must learn to break your
will in many things. To live in monasteries or religious communities,
to remain there without complaint, and to persevere faithfully till
death is no small matter. Blessed indeed is he who there lives a good
life and there ends his days in happiness.
If you would persevere in seeking perfection, you must consider
yourself a pilgrim, an exile on earth. If you would become a religious,
you must be content to seem a fool for the sake of Christ. Habit and
tonsure change a man but little; it is the change of life, the complete
mortification of passions that endow a true religious.
He who seeks anything but God alone and the salvation of his soul will
find only trouble and grief, and he who does not try to become the
least, the servant of all, cannot remain at peace for long.
You have come to serve, not to rule. You must understand, too, that you
have been called to suffer and to work, not to idle and gossip away
your time. Here men are tried as gold in a furnace. Here no man can
remain unless he desires with all his heart to humble himself before
The Eighteenth Chapter
The Example Set Us by the Holy Fathers
CONSIDER the lively examples set us by the saints, who possessed the
light of true perfection and religion, and you will see how little, how
nearly nothing, we do. What, alas, is our life, compared with theirs?
The saints and friends of Christ served the Lord in hunger and thirst,
in cold and nakedness, in work and fatigue, in vigils and fasts, in
prayers and holy meditations, in persecutions and many afflictions. How
many and severe were the trials they suffered--the Apostles, martyrs,
confessors, virgins, and all the rest who willed to follow in the
footsteps of Christ! They hated their lives on earth that they might
have life in eternity.
How strict and detached were the lives the holy hermits led in the
desert! What long and grave temptations they suffered! How often were
they beset by the enemy! What frequent and ardent prayers they offered
to God! What rigorous fasts they observed! How great their zeal and
their love for spiritual perfection! How brave the fight they waged to
master their evil habits! What pure and straightforward purpose they
showed toward God! By day they labored and by night they spent
themselves in long prayers. Even at work they did not cease from mental
prayer. They used all their time profitably; every hour seemed too
short for serving God, and in the great sweetness of contemplation,
they forgot even their bodily needs.
They renounced all riches, dignities, honors, friends, and associates.
They desired nothing of the world. They scarcely allowed themselves the
necessities of life, and the service of the body, even when necessary,
was irksome to them. They were poor in earthly things but rich in grace
and virtue. Outwardly destitute, inwardly they were full of grace and
divine consolation. Strangers to the world, they were close and
intimate friends of God. To themselves they seemed as nothing, and they
were despised by the world, but in the eyes of God they were precious
and beloved. They lived in true humility and simple obedience; they
walked in charity and patience, making progress daily on the pathway of
spiritual life and obtaining great favor with God.
They were given as an example for all religious, and their power to
stimulate us to perfection ought to be greater than that of the
lukewarm to tempt us to laxity.
How great was the fervor of all religious in the beginning of their
holy institution! How great their devotion in prayer and their rivalry
for virtue! What splendid discipline flourished among them! What great
reverence and obedience in all things under the rule of a superior! The
footsteps they left behind still bear witness that they indeed were
holy and perfect men who fought bravely and conquered the world.
Today, he who is not a transgressor and who can bear patiently the
duties which he has taken upon himself is considered great. How
lukewarm and negligent we are! We lose our original fervor very quickly
and we even become weary of life from laziness! Do not you, who have
seen so many examples of the devout, fall asleep in the pursuit of
The Nineteenth Chapter
The Practices of a Good Religious
THE life of a good religious ought to abound in every virtue so that he
is interiorly what to others he appears to be. With good reason there
ought to be much more within than appears on the outside, for He who
sees within is God, Whom we ought to reverence most highly wherever we
are and in Whose sight we ought to walk pure as the angels.
Each day we ought to renew our resolutions and arouse ourselves to
fervor as though it were the first day of our religious life. We ought
to say: "Help me, O Lord God, in my good resolution and in Your holy
service. Grant me now, this very day, to begin perfectly, for thus far
I have done nothing."
As our intention is, so will be our progress; and he who desires
perfection must be very diligent. If the strong-willed man fails
frequently, what of the man who makes up his mind seldom or
half-heartedly? Many are the ways of failing in our resolutions; even a
slight omission of religious practice entails a loss of some kind.
Just men depend on the grace of God rather than on their own wisdom in
keeping their resolutions. In Him they confide every undertaking, for
man, indeed, proposes but God disposes, and God's way is not man's. If
a habitual exercise is sometimes omitted out of piety or in the
interests of another, it can easily be resumed later. But if it be
abandoned carelessly, through weariness or neglect, then the fault is
great and will prove hurtful. Much as we try, we still fail too easily
in many things. Yet we must always have some fixed purpose, especially
against things which beset us the most. Our outward and inward lives
alike must be closely watched and well ordered, for both are important
If you cannot recollect yourself continuously, do so once a day at
least, in the morning or in the evening. In the morning make a
resolution and in the evening examine yourself on what you have said
this day, what you have done and thought, for in these things perhaps
you have often offended God and those about you.
Arm yourself like a man against the devil's assaults. Curb your
appetite and you will more easily curb every inclination of the flesh.
Never be completely unoccupied, but read or write or pray or meditate
or do something for the common good. Bodily discipline, however, must
be undertaken with discretion and is not to be practiced
indiscriminately by everyone.
Devotions not common to all are not to be displayed in public, for such
personal things are better performed in private. Furthermore, beware of
indifference to community prayer through love of your own devotions.
If, however, after doing completely and faithfully all you are bound
and commanded to do, you then have leisure, use it as personal piety
Not everyone can have the same devotion. One exactly suits this person,
another that. Different exercises, likewise, are suitable for different
times, some for feast days and some again for weekdays. In time of
temptation we need certain devotions. For days of rest and peace we
need others. Some are suitable when we are sad, others when we are
joyful in the Lord.
About the time of the principal feasts good devotions ought to be
renewed and the intercession of the saints more fervently implored.
From one feast day to the next we ought to fix our purpose as though we
were then to pass from this world and come to the eternal holyday.
During holy seasons, finally, we ought to prepare ourselves carefully,
to live holier lives, and to observe each rule more strictly, as though
we were soon to receive from God the reward of our labors. If this end
be deferred, let us believe that we are not well prepared and that we
are not yet worthy of the great glory that shall in due time be
revealed to us. Let us try, meanwhile, to prepare ourselves better for
"Blessed is the servant," says Christ, "whom his master, when he
comes, shall find watching. Amen I say to you: he shall make him ruler
over all his goods." 
 Luke 12:43, 44.
The Twentieth Chapter
The Love of Solitude and Silence
SEEK a suitable time for leisure and meditate often on the favors of
God. Leave curiosities alone. Read such matters as bring sorrow to the
heart rather than occupation to the mind. If you withdraw yourself from
unnecessary talking and idle running about, from listening to gossip
and rumors, you will find enough time that is suitable for holy
Very many great saints avoided the company of men wherever possible and
chose to serve God in retirement. "As often as I have been among men,"
said one writer, "I have returned less a man." We often find this to be
true when we take part in long conversations. It is easier to be silent
altogether than not to speak too much. To stay at home is easier than
to be sufficiently on guard while away. Anyone, then, who aims to live
the inner and spiritual life must go apart, with Jesus, from the crowd.
No man appears in safety before the public eye unless he first relishes
obscurity. No man is safe in speaking unless he loves to be silent. No
man rules safely unless he is willing to be ruled. No man commands
safely unless he has learned well how to obey. No man rejoices safely
unless he has within him the testimony of a good conscience.
More than this, the security of the saints was always enveloped in the
fear of God, nor were they less cautious and humble because they were
conspicuous for great virtues and graces. The security of the wicked,
on the contrary, springs from pride and presumption, and will end in
their own deception.
Never promise yourself security in this life, even though you seem to
be a good religious, or a devout hermit. It happens very often that
those whom men esteem highly are more seriously endangered by their own
excessive confidence. Hence, for many it is better not to be too free
from temptations, but often to be tried lest they become too secure,
too filled with pride, or even too eager to fall back upon external
If only a man would never seek passing joys or entangle himself with
worldly affairs, what a good conscience he would have. What great peace
and tranquillity would be his, if he cut himself off from all empty
care and thought only of things divine, things helpful to his soul, and
put all his trust in God.
No man deserves the consolation of heaven unless he persistently
arouses himself to holy contrition. If you desire true sorrow of heart,
seek the privacy of your cell and shut out the uproar of the world, as
it is written: "In your chamber bewail your sins." There you will find
what too often you lose abroad.
Your cell will become dear to you if you remain in it, but if you do
not, it will become wearisome. If in the beginning of your religious
life, you live within your cell and keep to it, it will soon become a
special friend and a very great comfort.
In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and learns the
hidden truths of Scripture. There she finds a flood of tears with which
to bathe and cleanse herself nightly, that she may become the more
intimate with her Creator the farther she withdraws from all the tumult
of the world. For God and His holy angels will draw near to him who
withdraws from friends and acquaintances.
It is better for a man to be obscure and to attend to his salvation
than to neglect it and work miracles. It is praiseworthy for a
religious seldom to go abroad, to flee the sight of men and have no
wish to see them.
Why wish to see what you are not permitted to have? "The world passes
away and the concupiscence thereof." Sensual craving sometimes entices
you to wander around, but when the moment is past, what do you bring
back with you save a disturbed conscience and heavy heart? A happy
going often leads to a sad return, a merry evening to a mournful dawn.
Thus, all carnal joy begins sweetly but in the end brings remorse and
What can you find elsewhere that you cannot find here in your cell?
Behold heaven and earth and all the elements, for of these all things
are made. What can you see anywhere under the sun that will remain
long? Perhaps you think you will completely satisfy yourself, but you
cannot do so, for if you should see all existing things, what would
they be but an empty vision?
Raise your eyes to God in heaven and pray because of your sins and
shortcomings. Leave vanity to the vain. Set yourself to the things
which God has commanded you to do. Close the door upon yourself and
call to you Jesus, your Beloved. Remain with Him in your cell, for
nowhere else will you find such peace. If you had not left it, and had
not listened to idle gossip, you would have remained in greater peace.
But since you love, sometimes, to hear news, it is only right that you
should suffer sorrow of heart from it.
The Twenty-First Chapter
Sorrow of Heart
IF YOU wish to make progress in virtue, live in the fear of the Lord,
do not look for too much freedom, discipline your senses, and shun
inane silliness. Sorrow opens the door to many a blessing which
dissoluteness usually destroys.
It is a wonder that any man who considers and meditates on his exiled
state and the many dangers to his soul, can ever be perfectly happy in
this life. Lighthearted and heedless of our defects, we do not feel the
real sorrows of our souls, but often indulge in empty laughter when we
have good reason to weep. No liberty is true and no joy is genuine
unless it is founded in the fear of the Lord and a good conscience.
Happy is the man who can throw off the weight of every care and
recollect himself in holy contrition. Happy is the man who casts from
him all that can stain or burden his conscience.
Fight like a man. Habit is overcome by habit. If you leave men alone,
they will leave you alone to do what you have to do. Do not busy
yourself about the affairs of others and do not become entangled in the
business of your superiors. Keep an eye primarily on yourself and
admonish yourself instead of your friends.
If you do not enjoy the favor of men, do not let it sadden you; but
consider it a serious matter if you do not conduct yourself as well or
as carefully as is becoming for a servant of God and a devout
It is often better and safer for us to have few consolations in this
life, especially comforts of the body. Yet if we do not have divine
consolation or experience it rarely, it is our own fault because we
seek no sorrow of heart and do not forsake vain outward satisfaction.
Consider yourself unworthy of divine solace and deserving rather of
much tribulation. When a man is perfectly contrite, the whole world is
bitter and wearisome to him.
A good man always finds enough over which to mourn and weep; whether he
thinks of himself or of his neighbor he knows that no one lives here
without suffering, and the closer he examines himself the more he
The sins and vices in which we are so entangled that we can rarely
apply ourselves to the contemplation of heaven are matters for just
sorrow and inner remorse.
I do not doubt that you would correct yourself more earnestly if you
would think more of an early death than of a long life. And if you
pondered in your heart the future pains of hell or of purgatory, I
believe you would willingly endure labor and trouble and would fear no
hardship. But since these thoughts never pierce the heart and since we
are enamored of flattering pleasure, we remain very cold and
indifferent. Our wretched body complains so easily because our soul is
altogether too lifeless.
Pray humbly to the Lord, therefore, that He may give you the spirit of
contrition and say with the Prophet: "Feed me, Lord, with the bread of
mourning and give me to drink of tears in full measure." 
 Ps. 80:9.
The Twenty-Second Chapter
Thoughts on the Misery of Man
WHEREVER you are, wherever you go, you are miserable unless you turn to
God. So why be dismayed when things do not happen as you wish and
desire? Is there anyone who has everything as he wishes? No--neither I,
nor you, nor any man on earth. There is no one in the world, be he Pope
or king, who does not suffer trial and anguish.
Who is the better off then? Surely, it is the man who will suffer
something for God. Many unstable and weak-minded people say: "See how
well that man lives, how rich, how great he is, how powerful and
mighty." But you must lift up your eyes to the riches of heaven and
realize that the material goods of which they speak are nothing. These
things are uncertain and very burdensome because they are never
possessed without anxiety and fear. Man's happiness does not consist in
the possession of abundant goods; a very little is enough.
Living on earth is truly a misery. The more a man desires spiritual
life, the more bitter the present becomes to him, because he
understands better and sees more clearly the defects, the corruption of
human nature. To eat and drink, to watch and sleep, to rest, to labor,
and to be bound by other human necessities is certainly a great misery
and affliction to the devout man, who would gladly be released from
them and be free from all sin. Truly, the inner man is greatly burdened
in this world by the necessities of the body, and for this reason the
Prophet prayed that he might be as free from them as possible, when he
said: "From my necessities, O Lord, deliver me." 
But woe to those who know not their own misery, and greater woe to
those who love this miserable and corruptible life. Some, indeed, can
scarcely procure its necessities either by work or by begging; yet they
love it so much that, if they could live here always, they would care
nothing for the kingdom of God.
How foolish and faithless of heart are those who are so engrossed in
earthly things as to relish nothing but what is carnal! Miserable men
indeed, for in the end they will see to their sorrow how cheap and
worthless was the thing they loved.
The saints of God and all devout friends of Christ did not look to what
pleases the body nor to the things that are popular from time to time.
Their whole hope and aim centered on the everlasting good. Their whole
desire pointed upward to the lasting and invisible realm, lest the love
of what is visible drag them down to lower things.
Do not lose heart, then, my brother, in pursuing your spiritual life.
There is yet time, and your hour is not past. Why delay your purpose?
Arise! Begin at once and say: "Now is the time to act, now is the time
to fight, now is the proper time to amend."
When you are troubled and afflicted, that is the time to gain merit.
You must pass through water and fire before coming to rest. Unless you
do violence to yourself you will not overcome vice.
So long as we live in this fragile body, we can neither be free from
sin nor live without weariness and sorrow. Gladly would we rest from
all misery, but in losing innocence through sin we also lost true
blessedness. Therefore, we must have patience and await the mercy of
God until this iniquity passes, until mortality is swallowed up in
How great is the frailty of human nature which is ever prone to evil!
Today you confess your sins and tomorrow you again commit the sins
which you confessed. One moment you resolve to be careful, and yet
after an hour you act as though you had made no resolution.
We have cause, therefore, because of our frailty and feebleness, to
humble ourselves and never think anything great of ourselves. Through
neglect we may quickly lose that which by God's grace we have acquired
only through long, hard labor. What, eventually, will become of us who
so quickly grow lukewarm? Woe to us if we presume to rest in peace and
security when actually there is no true holiness in our lives. It would
be beneficial for us, like good novices, to be instructed once more in
the principles of a good life, to see if there be hope of amendment and
greater spiritual progress in the future.
 Ps. 34:17.
The Twenty-Third Chapter
Thoughts on Death
VERY soon your life here will end; consider, then, what may be in store
for you elsewhere. Today we live; tomorrow we die and are quickly
forgotten. Oh, the dullness and hardness of a heart which looks only to
the present instead of preparing for that which is to come!
Therefore, in every deed and every thought, act as though you were to
die this very day. If you had a good conscience you would not fear
death very much. It is better to avoid sin than to fear death. If you
are not prepared today, how will you be prepared tomorrow? Tomorrow is
an uncertain day; how do you know you will have a tomorrow?
What good is it to live a long life when we amend that life so little?
Indeed, a long life does not always benefit us, but on the contrary,
frequently adds to our guilt. Would that in this world we had lived
well throughout one single day. Many count up the years they have spent
in religion but find their lives made little holier. If it is so
terrifying to die, it is nevertheless possible that to live longer is
more dangerous. Blessed is he who keeps the moment of death ever before
his eyes and prepares for it every day.
If you have ever seen a man die, remember that you, too, must go the
same way. In the morning consider that you may not live till evening,
and when evening comes do not dare to promise yourself the dawn. Be
always ready, therefore, and so live that death will never take you
unprepared. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly, for in the unexpected
hour the Son of God will come. When that last moment arrives you will
begin to have a quite different opinion of the life that is now
entirely past and you will regret very much that you were so careless
How happy and prudent is he who tries now in life to be what he wants
to be found in death. Perfect contempt of the world, a lively desire to
advance in virtue, a love for discipline, the works of penance,
readiness to obey, self-denial, and the endurance of every hardship for
the love of Christ, these will give a man great expectations of a happy
You can do many good works when in good health; what can you do when
you are ill? Few are made better by sickness. Likewise they who
undertake many pilgrimages seldom become holy.
Do not put your trust in friends and relatives, and do not put off the
care of your soul till later, for men will forget you more quickly than
you think. It is better to provide now, in time, and send some good
account ahead of you than to rely on the help of others. If you do not
care for your own welfare now, who will care when you are gone?
The present is very precious; these are the days of salvation; now is
the acceptable time. How sad that you do not spend the time in which
you might purchase everlasting life in a better way. The time will come
when you will want just one day, just one hour in which to make amends,
and do you know whether you will obtain it?
See, then, dearly beloved, the great danger from which you can free
yourself and the great fear from which you can be saved, if only you
will always be wary and mindful of death. Try to live now in such a
manner that at the moment of death you may be glad rather than fearful.
Learn to die to the world now, that then you may begin to live with
Christ. Learn to spurn all things now, that then you may freely go to
Him. Chastise your body in penance now, that then you may have the
confidence born of certainty.
Ah, foolish man, why do you plan to live long when you are not sure of
living even a day? How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched
away! How often have you heard of persons being killed by drownings, by
fatal falls from high places, of persons dying at meals, at play, in
fires, by the sword, in pestilence, or at the hands of robbers! Death
is the end of everyone and the life of man quickly passes away like a
Who will remember you when you are dead? Who will pray for you? Do now,
beloved, what you can, because you do not know when you will die, nor
what your fate will be after death. Gather for yourself the riches of
immortality while you have time. Think of nothing but your salvation.
Care only for the things of God. Make friends for yourself now by
honoring the saints of God, by imitating their actions, so that when
you depart this life they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
Keep yourself as a stranger here on earth, a pilgrim whom its affairs
do not concern at all. Keep your heart free and raise it up to God, for
you have not here a lasting home. To Him direct your daily prayers,
your sighs and tears, that your soul may merit after death to pass in
happiness to the Lord.
The Twenty-Fourth Chapter
Judgment and the Punishment of Sin
IN ALL things consider the end; how you shall stand before the strict
Judge from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will pronounce judgment in
all justice, accepting neither bribes nor excuses. And you, miserable
and wretched sinner, who fear even the countenance of an angry man,
what answer will you make to the God Who knows all your sins? Why do
you not provide for yourself against the day of judgment when no man
can be excused or defended by another because each will have enough to
do to answer for himself? In this life your work is profitable, your
tears acceptable, your sighs audible, your sorrow satisfying and
The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory when he
grieves more over the malice of one who harms him than for his own
injury; when he prays readily for his enemies and forgives offenses
from his heart; when he does not hesitate to ask pardon of others; when
he is more easily moved to pity than to anger; when he does frequent
violence to himself and tries to bring the body into complete
subjection to the spirit.
It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than to keep
them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive ourselves by
our ill-advised love of the flesh. What will that fire feed upon but
our sins? The more we spare ourselves now and the more we satisfy the
flesh, the harder will the reckoning be and the more we keep for the
For a man will be more grievously punished in the things in which he
has sinned. There the lazy will be driven with burning prongs, and
gluttons tormented with unspeakable hunger and thirst; the wanton and
lust-loving will be bathed in burning pitch and foul brimstone; the
envious will howl in their grief like mad dogs.
Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud will be faced
with every confusion and the avaricious pinched with the most abject
want. One hour of suffering there will be more bitter than a hundred
years of the most severe penance here. In this life men sometimes rest
from work and enjoy the comfort of friends, but the damned have no rest
You must, therefore, take care and repent of your sins now so that on
the day of judgment you may rest secure with the blessed. For on that
day the just will stand firm against those who tortured and oppressed
them, and he who now submits humbly to the judgment of men will arise
to pass judgment upon them. The poor and humble will have great
confidence, while the proud will be struck with fear. He who learned to
be a fool in this world and to be scorned for Christ will then appear
to have been wise.
In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing and the
voice of iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be glad; the
irreligious will mourn; and the mortified body will rejoice far more
than if it had been pampered with every pleasure. Then the cheap
garment will shine with splendor and the rich one become faded and
worn; the poor cottage will be more praised than the gilded palace. In
that day persevering patience will count more than all the power in
this world; simple obedience will be exalted above all worldly
cleverness; a good and clean conscience will gladden the heart of man
far more than the philosophy of the learned; and contempt for riches
will be of more weight than every treasure on earth.
Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly than in
having fared daintily; you will be happy that you preferred silence to
Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair words;
strictness of life and hard penances will be more pleasing than all
Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not have to
suffer greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can bear
hereafter. If you can suffer only a little now, how will you be able to
endure eternal torment? If a little suffering makes you impatient now,
what will hell fire do? In truth, you cannot have two joys: you cannot
taste the pleasures of this world and afterward reign with Christ.
If your life to this moment had been full of honors and pleasures, what
good would it do if at this instant you should die? All is vanity,
therefore, except to love God and to serve Him alone.
He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or punishment
or judgment or hell, because perfect love assures access to God.
It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death and
It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet restrain you
from evil, at least the fear of hell does. The man who casts aside the
fear of God cannot continue long in goodness but will quickly fall into
the snares of the devil.
The Twenty-Fifth Chapter
Zeal in Amending our Lives
BE WATCHFUL and diligent in God's service and often think of why you
left the world and came here. Was it not that you might live for God
and become a spiritual man? Strive earnestly for perfection, then,
because in a short time you will receive the reward of your labor, and
neither fear nor sorrow shall come upon you at the hour of death.
Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in truth,
eternal joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in doing, God
will undoubtedly be faithful and generous in rewarding. Continue to
have reasonable hope of gaining salvation, but do not act as though you
were certain of it lest you grow indolent and proud.
One day when a certain man who wavered often and anxiously between hope
and fear was struck with sadness, he knelt in humble prayer before the
altar of a church. While meditating on these things, he said: "Oh if I
but knew whether I should persevere to the end!" Instantly he heard
within the divine answer: "If you knew this, what would you do? Do now
what you would do then and you will be quite secure." Immediately
consoled and comforted, he resigned himself to the divine will and the
anxious uncertainty ceased. His curiosity no longer sought to know what
the future held for him, and he tried instead to find the perfect, the
acceptable will of God in the beginning and end of every good work.
"Trust in the Lord and do good," says the Prophet; "dwell in the
land and you shall feed on its riches." 
There is one thing that keeps many from zealously improving their
lives, that is, dread of the difficulty, the toil of battle. Certainly
they who try bravely to overcome the most difficult and unpleasant
obstacles far outstrip others in the pursuit of virtue. A man makes the
most progress and merits the most grace precisely in those matters
wherein he gains the greatest victories over self and most mortifies
his will. True, each one has his own difficulties to meet and conquer,
but a diligent and sincere man will make greater progress even though
he have more passions than one who is more even-tempered but less
concerned about virtue.
Two things particularly further improvement--to withdraw oneself
forcibly from those vices to which nature is viciously inclined, and to
work fervently for those graces which are most needed.
Study also to guard against and to overcome the faults which in others
very frequently displease you. Make the best of every opportunity, so
that if you see or hear good example you may be moved to imitate it. On
the other hand, take care lest you be guilty of those things which you
consider reprehensible, or if you have ever been guilty of them, try to
correct yourself as soon as possible. As you see others, so they see
How pleasant and sweet to behold brethren fervent and devout, well
mannered and disciplined! How sad and painful to see them wandering in
dissolution, not practicing the things to which they are called! How
hurtful it is to neglect the purpose of their vocation and to attend to
what is not their business!
Remember the purpose you have undertaken, and keep in mind the image of
the Crucified. Even though you may have walked for many years on the
pathway to God, you may well be ashamed if, with the image of Christ
before you, you do not try to make yourself still more like Him.
The religious who concerns himself intently and devoutly with our
Lord's most holy life and passion will find there an abundance of all
things useful and necessary for him. He need not seek for anything
better than Jesus.
If the Crucified should come to our hearts, how quickly and abundantly
we would learn!
A fervent religious accepts all the things that are commanded him and
does them well, but a negligent and lukewarm religious has trial upon
trial, and suffers anguish from every side because he has no
consolation within and is forbidden to seek it from without. The
religious who does not live up to his rule exposes himself to dreadful
ruin, and he who wishes to be more free and untrammeled will always be
in trouble, for something or other will always displease him.
How do so many other religious who are confined in cloistered
discipline get along? They seldom go out, they live in contemplation,
their food is poor, their clothing coarse, they work hard, they speak
but little, keep long vigils, rise early, pray much, read frequently,
and subject themselves to all sorts of discipline. Think of the
Carthusians and the Cistercians, the monks and nuns of different
orders, how every night they rise to sing praise to the Lord. It would
be a shame if you should grow lazy in such holy service when so many
religious have already begun to rejoice in God.
If there were nothing else to do but praise the Lord God with all your
heart and voice, if you had never to eat, or drink, or sleep, but could
praise God always and occupy yourself solely with spiritual pursuits,
how much happier you would be than you are now, a slave to every
necessity of the body! Would that there were no such needs, but only
the spiritual refreshments of the soul which, sad to say, we taste too
When a man reaches a point where he seeks no solace from any creature,
then he begins to relish God perfectly. Then also he will be content no
matter what may happen to him. He will neither rejoice over great
things nor grieve over small ones, but will place himself entirely and
confidently in the hands of God, Who for him is all in all, to Whom
nothing ever perishes or dies, for Whom all things live, and Whom they
serve as He desires.
Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time never
returns. Without care and diligence you will never acquire virtue. When
you begin to grow lukewarm, you are falling into the beginning of evil;
but if you give yourself to fervor, you will find peace and will
experience less hardship because of God's grace and the love of virtue.
A fervent and diligent man is ready for all things. It is greater work
to resist vices and passions than to sweat in physical toil. He who
does not overcome small faults, shall fall little by little into
If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at
eventide. Watch over yourself, arouse yourself, warn yourself, and
regardless of what becomes of others, do not neglect yourself. The more
violence you do to yourself, the more progress you will make.
 Ps. 37:3.
THE INTERIOR LIFE
The First Chapter
“THE kingdom of God is within you," says the Lord. 
Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched world and
your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external things, to devote
yourself to those that are within, and you will see the kingdom of God
come unto you, that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
gifts not given to the impious.
Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit
dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He
takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are
frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great,
and His intimacy wonderful indeed.
Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that
He may come and dwell within you; He Himself says: "If any one love Me,
he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to
him, and will make Our abode with him." 
Give place, then, to Christ, but deny entrance to all others, for when
you have Christ you are rich and He is sufficient for you. He will
provide for you. He will supply your every want, so that you need not
trust in frail, changeable men. Christ remains forever, standing firmly
with us to the end.
Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful and
friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he sometimes
opposes and contradicts you. Those who are with us today may be against
us tomorrow, and vice versa, for men change with the wind. Place all
your trust in God; let Him be your fear and your love. He will answer
for you; He will do what is best for you.
You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a pilgrim
wherever you may be, and you shall have no rest until you are wholly
united with Christ.
Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your repose?
Dwell rather upon heaven and give but a passing glance to all earthly
things. They all pass away, and you together with them. Take care,
then, that you do not cling to them lest you be entrapped and perish.
Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray unceasingly to Christ.
If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct your
thoughts to Christ's passion and willingly behold His sacred wounds. If
you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmata of Christ, you
will find great comfort in suffering, you will mind but little the
scorn of men, and you will easily bear their slanderous talk.
When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of
need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths
of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to
complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers; do you want everyone
to be your friend, your benefactor? How can your patience be rewarded
if no adversity test it? How can you be a friend of Christ if you are
not willing to suffer any hardship? Suffer with Christ and for Christ
if you wish to reign with Him.
Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or tasted a
little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at all for your own
comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the reproach you suffer; for
love of Him makes a man despise himself.
A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth, a truly interior man who is
free from uncontrolled affections, can turn to God at will and rise
above himself to enjoy spiritual peace.
He who tastes life as it really is, not as men say or think it is, is
indeed wise with the wisdom of God rather than of men.
He who learns to live the interior life and to take little account of
outward things, does not seek special places or times to perform devout
exercises. A spiritual man quickly recollects himself because he has
never wasted his attention upon externals. No outside work, no business
that cannot wait stands in his way. He adjusts himself to things as
they happen. He whose disposition is well ordered cares nothing about
the strange, perverse behavior of others, for a man is upset and
distracted only in proportion as he engrosses himself in externals.
If all were well with you, therefore, and if you were purified from all
sin, everything would tend to your good and be to your profit. But
because you are as yet neither entirely dead to self nor free from all
earthly affection, there is much that often displeases and disturbs
you. Nothing so mars and defiles the heart of man as impure attachment
to created things. But if you refuse external consolation, you will be
able to contemplate heavenly things and often to experience interior
 Luke 17:21.
 John 14:23.
The Second Chapter
BE NOT troubled about those who are with you or against you, but take
care that God be with you in everything you do. Keep your conscience
clear and God will protect you, for the malice of man cannot harm one
whom God wishes to help. If you know how to suffer in silence, you will
undoubtedly experience God's help. He knows when and how to deliver
you; therefore, place yourself in His hands, for it is a divine
prerogative to help men and free them from all distress.
It is often good for us to have others know our faults and rebuke them,
for it gives us greater humility. When a man humbles himself because of
his faults, he easily placates those about him and readily appeases
those who are angry with him.
It is the humble man whom God protects and liberates; it is the humble
whom He loves and consoles. To the humble He turns and upon them
bestows great grace, that after their humiliation He may raise them up
to glory. He reveals His secrets to the humble, and with kind
invitation bids them come to Him. Thus, the humble man enjoys peace in
the midst of many vexations, because his trust is in God, not in the
world. Hence, you must not think that you have made any progress until
you look upon yourself as inferior to all others.
The Third Chapter
Goodness and Peace in Man
FIRST keep peace with yourself; then you will be able to bring peace to
others. A peaceful man does more good than a learned man. Whereas a
passionate man turns even good to evil and is quick to believe evil,
the peaceful man, being good himself, turns all things to good.
The man who is at perfect ease is never suspicious, but the disturbed
and discontented spirit is upset by many a suspicion. He neither rests
himself nor permits others to do so. He often says what ought not to be
said and leaves undone what ought to be done. He is concerned with the
duties of others but neglects his own.
Direct your zeal, therefore, first upon yourself; then you may with
justice exercise it upon those about you. You are well versed in
coloring your own actions with excuses which you will not accept from
others, though it would be more just to accuse yourself and excuse your
brother. If you wish men to bear with you, you must bear with them.
Behold, how far you are from true charity and humility which does not
know how to be angry with anyone, or to be indignant save only against
It is no great thing to associate with the good and gentle, for such
association is naturally pleasing. Everyone enjoys a peaceful life and
prefers persons of congenial habits. But to be able to live at peace
with harsh and perverse men, or with the undisciplined and those who
irritate us, is a great grace, a praiseworthy and manly thing.
Some people live at peace with themselves and with their fellow men,
but others are never at peace with themselves nor do they bring it to
anyone else. These latter are a burden to everyone, but they are more
of a burden to themselves. A few, finally, live at peace with
themselves and try to restore it to others.
Now, all our peace in this miserable life is found in humbly enduring
suffering rather than in being free from it. He who knows best how to
suffer will enjoy the greater peace, because he is the conqueror of
himself, the master of the world, a friend of Christ, and an heir of
The Fourth Chapter
Purity of Mind and Unity of Purpose
A MAN is raised up from the earth by two wings--simplicity and purity.
There must be simplicity in his intention and purity in his desires.
Simplicity leads to God, purity embraces and enjoys Him.
If your heart is free from ill-ordered affection, no good deed will be
difficult for you. If you aim at and seek after nothing but the
pleasure of God and the welfare of your neighbor, you will enjoy
If your heart were right, then every created thing would be a mirror of
life for you and a book of holy teaching, for there is no creature so
small and worthless that it does not show forth the goodness of God. If
inwardly you were good and pure, you would see all things clearly and
understand them rightly, for a pure heart penetrates to heaven and
hell, and as a man is within, so he judges what is without. If there be
joy in the world, the pure of heart certainly possess it; and if there
be anguish and affliction anywhere, an evil conscience knows it too
As iron cast into fire loses its rust and becomes glowing white, so he
who turns completely to God is stripped of his sluggishness and changed
into a new man. When a man begins to grow lax, he fears a little toil
and welcomes external comfort, but when he begins perfectly to conquer
himself and to walk bravely in the ways of God, then he thinks those
things less difficult which he thought so hard before.
The Fifth Chapter
WE MUST not rely too much upon ourselves, for grace and understanding
are often lacking in us. We have but little inborn light, and this we
quickly lose through negligence. Often we are not aware that we are so
blind in heart. Meanwhile we do wrong, and then do worse in excusing
it. At times we are moved by passion, and we think it zeal. We take
others to task for small mistakes, and overlook greater ones in
ourselves. We are quick enough to feel and brood over the things we
suffer from others, but we think nothing of how much others suffer from
us. If a man would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly, he would find
little cause to pass severe judgment on others.
The interior man puts the care of himself before all other concerns,
and he who attends to himself carefully does not find it hard to hold
his tongue about others. You will never be devout of heart unless you
are thus silent about the affairs of others and pay particular
attention to yourself. If you attend wholly to God and yourself, you
will be little disturbed by what you see about you.
Where are your thoughts when they are not upon yourself? And after
attending to various things, what have you gained if you have neglected
self? If you wish to have true peace of mind and unity of purpose, you
must cast all else aside and keep only yourself before your eyes.
You will make great progress if you keep yourself free from all
temporal cares, for to value anything that is temporal is a great
mistake. Consider nothing great, nothing high, nothing pleasing,
nothing acceptable, except God Himself or that which is of God.
Consider the consolations of creatures as vanity, for the soul that
loves God scorns all things that are inferior to Him. God alone, the
eternal and infinite, satisfies all, bringing comfort to the soul and
true joy to the body.
The Sixth Chapter
The Joy of a Good Conscience
THE glory of a good man is the testimony of a good conscience.
Therefore, keep your conscience good and you will always enjoy
happiness, for a good conscience can bear a great deal and can bring
joy even in the midst of adversity. But an evil conscience is ever
restive and fearful.
Sweet shall be your rest if your heart does not reproach you.
Do not rejoice unless you have done well. Sinners never experience true
interior joy or peace, for "there is no peace to the wicked," says the
Lord.  Even if they say: "We are at peace, no evil shall befall us
and no one dares to hurt us," do not believe them; for the wrath of God
will arise quickly, and their deeds will be brought to naught and their
thoughts will perish.
To glory in adversity is not hard for the man who loves, for this is to
glory in the cross of the Lord. But the glory given or received of men
is short lived, and the glory of the world is ever companioned by
sorrow. The glory of the good, however, is in their conscience and not
in the lips of men, for the joy of the just is from God and in God, and
their gladness is founded on truth.
The man who longs for the true, eternal glory does not care for that of
time; and he who seeks passing fame or does not in his heart despise
it, undoubtedly cares little for the glory of heaven.
He who minds neither praise nor blame possesses great peace of heart
and, if his conscience is good, he will easily be contented and at
Praise adds nothing to your holiness, nor does blame take anything from
it. You are what you are, and you cannot be said to be better than you
are in God's sight. If you consider well what you are within, you will
not care what men say about you. They look to appearances but God looks
to the heart. They consider the deed but God weighs the motive.
It is characteristic of a humble soul always to do good and to think
little of itself. It is a mark of great purity and deep faith to look
for no consolation in created things. The man who desires no
justification from without has clearly entrusted himself to God: "For
not he who commendeth himself is approved," says St. Paul, "but he whom
God commendeth." 
To walk with God interiorly, to be free from any external
affection--this is the state of the inward man.
 Isa. 48:22.
 2 Cor. 10:18.
The Seventh Chapter
Loving Jesus Above All Things
BLESSED is he who appreciates what it is to love Jesus and who despises
himself for the sake of Jesus. Give up all other love for His, since He
wishes to be loved alone above all things.
Affection for creatures is deceitful and inconstant, but the love of
Jesus is true and enduring. He who clings to a creature will fall with
its frailty, but he who gives himself to Jesus will ever be
Love Him, then; keep Him as a friend. He will not leave you as others
do, or let you suffer lasting death. Sometime, whether you will or not,
you will have to part with everything. Cling, therefore, to Jesus in
life and death; trust yourself to the glory of Him who alone can help
you when all others fail.
Your Beloved is such that He will not accept what belongs to
another--He wants your heart for Himself alone, to be enthroned therein
as King in His own right. If you but knew how to free yourself entirely
from all creatures, Jesus would gladly dwell within you.
You will find, apart from Him, that nearly all the trust you place in
men is a total loss. Therefore, neither confide in nor depend upon a
wind-shaken reed, for "all flesh is grass"  and all its glory, like
the flower of grass, will fade away.
You will quickly be deceived if you look only to the outward appearance
of men, and you will often be disappointed if you seek comfort and gain
in them. If, however, you seek Jesus in all things, you will surely
find Him. Likewise, if you seek yourself, you will find yourself--to
your own ruin. For the man who does not seek Jesus does himself much
greater harm than the whole world and all his enemies could ever do.
 Isa. 15:6.
The Eighth Chapter
The Intimate Friendship of Jesus
WHEN Jesus is near, all is well and nothing seems difficult. When He is
absent, all is hard. When Jesus does not speak within, all other
comfort is empty, but if He says only a word, it brings great
Did not Mary Magdalen rise at once from her weeping when Martha said to
her: "The Master is come, and calls for you"?  Happy is the hour
when Jesus calls one from tears to joy of spirit.
How dry and hard you are without Jesus! How foolish and vain if you
desire anything but Him! Is it not a greater loss than losing the whole
world? For what, without Jesus, can the world give you? Life without
Him is a relentless hell, but living with Him is a sweet paradise. If
Jesus be with you, no enemy can harm you.
He who finds Jesus finds a rare treasure, indeed, a good above every
good, whereas he who loses Him loses more than the whole world. The man
who lives without Jesus is the poorest of the poor, whereas no one is
so rich as the man who lives in His grace.
It is a great art to know how to converse with Jesus, and great wisdom
to know how to keep Him. Be humble and peaceful, and Jesus will be with
you. Be devout and calm, and He will remain with you. You may quickly
drive Him away and lose His grace, if you turn back to the outside
world. And, if you drive Him away and lose Him, to whom will you go and
whom will you then seek as a friend? You cannot live well without a
friend, and if Jesus be not your friend above all else, you will be
very sad and desolate. Thus, you are acting foolishly if you trust or
rejoice in any other. Choose the opposition of the whole world rather
than offend Jesus. Of all those who are dear to you, let Him be your
special love. Let all things be loved for the sake of Jesus, but Jesus
for His own sake.
Jesus Christ must be loved alone with a special love for He alone, of
all friends, is good and faithful. For Him and in Him you must love
friends and foes alike, and pray to Him that all may know and love Him.
Never desire special praise or love, for that belongs to God alone Who
has no equal. Never wish that anyone's affection be centered in you,
nor let yourself be taken up with the love of anyone, but let Jesus be
in you and in every good man. Be pure and free within, unentangled with
You must bring to God a clean and open heart if you wish to attend and
see how sweet the Lord is. Truly you will never attain this happiness
unless His grace prepares you and draws you on so that you may forsake
all things to be united with Him alone.
When the grace of God comes to a man he can do all things, but when it
leaves him he becomes poor and weak, abandoned, as it were, to
affliction. Yet, in this condition he should not become dejected or
despair. On the contrary, he should calmly await the will of God and
bear whatever befalls him in praise of Jesus Christ, for after winter
comes summer, after night, the day, and after the storm, a great calm.
 John 11:28.
The Ninth Chapter
Wanting No Share in Comfort
IT IS not hard to spurn human consolation when we have the divine. It
is, however, a very great thing indeed to be able to live without
either divine or human comforting and for the honor of God willingly to
endure this exile of heart, not to seek oneself in anything, and to
think nothing of one's own merit.
Does it matter much, if at the coming of grace, you are cheerful and
devout? This is an hour desired by all, for he whom the grace of God
sustains travels easily enough. What wonder if he feel no burden when
borne up by the Almighty and led on by the Supreme Guide! For we are
always glad to have something to comfort us, and only with difficulty
does a man divest himself of self.
The holy martyr, Lawrence, with his priest, conquered the world because
he despised everything in it that seemed pleasing to him, and for love
of Christ patiently suffered the great high priest of God, Sixtus, whom
he loved dearly, to be taken from him. Thus, by his love for the
Creator he overcame the love of man, and chose instead of human
consolation the good pleasure of God. So you, too, must learn to part
with an intimate and much-needed friend for the love of God. Do not
take it to heart when you are deserted by a friend, knowing that in the
end we must all be parted from one another.
A man must fight long and bravely against himself before he learns to
master himself fully and to direct all his affections toward God. When
he trusts in himself, he easily takes to human consolation. The true
lover of Christ, however, who sincerely pursues virtue, does not fall
back upon consolations nor seek such pleasures of sense, but prefers
severe trials and hard labors for the sake of Christ.
When, therefore, spiritual consolation is given by God, receive it
gratefully, but understand that it is His gift and not your meriting.
Do not exult, do not be overjoyed, do not be presumptuous, but be the
humbler for the gift, more careful and wary in all your actions, for
this hour will pass and temptation will come in its wake.
When consolation is taken away, do not at once despair but wait humbly
and patiently for the heavenly visit, since God can restore to you more
This is neither new nor strange to one who knows God's ways, for such
change of fortune often visited the great saints and prophets of old.
Thus there was one who, when grace was with him, declared: "In my
prosperity I said: I shall never be moved.'" But when grace was taken
away, he adds what he experienced in himself: "You did hide your
face, and I was troubled." Meanwhile he does not despair; rather he
prays more earnestly to the Lord, saying: "To you, O Lord, will I cry;
and I will make supplication to my God." At length, he receives the
fruit of his prayer, and testifying that he was heard, says "The Lord
has heard, and has had mercy on me: the Lord became my helper." And
how was he helped? "You have turned," he says, "my mourning into joy,
and have surrounded me with gladness." 
If this is the case with great saints, we who are weak and poor ought
not to despair because we are fervent at times and at other times cold,
for the spirit comes and goes according to His will. Of this the
blessed Job declared: "You visited him early in the morning, and You
proved him suddenly." 
In what can I hope, then, or in whom ought I trust, save only in the
great mercy of God and the hope of heavenly grace? For though I have
with me good men, devout brethren, faithful friends, holy books,
beautiful treatises, sweet songs and hymns, all these help and please
but little when I am abandoned by grace and left to my poverty. At such
times there is no better remedy than patience and resignation of self
to the will of God.
I have never met a man so religious and devout that he has not
experienced at some time a withdrawal of grace and felt a lessening of
fervor. No saint was so sublimely rapt and enlightened as not to be
tempted before and after. He, indeed, is not worthy of the sublime
contemplation of God who has not been tried by some tribulation for the
sake of God. For temptation is usually the sign preceding the
consolation that is to follow, and heavenly consolation is promised to
all those proved by temptation. "To him that overcomes," says Christ,
"I will give to eat of the Tree of Life."  Divine consolation,
then, is given in order to make a man braver in enduring adversity, and
temptation follows in order that he may not pride himself on the good
he has done.
The devil does not sleep, nor is the flesh yet dead; therefore, you
must never cease your preparation for battle, because on the right and
on the left are enemies who never rest.
 Ps. 29:7-12.
 Job 7:18.
 Apoc. 2:7.
The Tenth Chapter
Appreciating God's Grace
WHY do you look for rest when you were born to work? Resign yourself to
patience rather than to comfort, to carrying your cross rather than to
What man in the world, if he could always have them, would not readily
accept consolation and spiritual joy, benefits which excel all earthly
delights and pleasures of the body? The latter, indeed, are either vain
or base, while spiritual joys, born of virtue and infused by God into
pure minds, are alone truly pleasant and noble.
Now, since the moment of temptation is always nigh, since false freedom
of mind and overconfidence in self are serious obstacles to these
visitations from heaven, a man can never enjoy them just as he wishes.
God does well in giving the grace of consolation, but man does evil in
not returning everything gratefully to God. Thus, the gifts of grace
cannot flow in us when we are ungrateful to the Giver, when we do not
return them to the Fountainhead. Grace is always given to him who is
duly grateful, and what is wont to be given the humble will be taken
away from the proud.
I do not desire consolation that robs me of contrition, nor do I care
for contemplation that leads to pride, for not all that is high is
holy, nor is all that is sweet good, nor every desire pure, nor all
that is dear to us pleasing to God. I accept willingly the grace
whereby I become more humble and contrite, more willing to renounce
The man who has been taught by the gift of grace, and who learns by the
lash of its withdrawal, will never dare to attribute any good to
himself, but will rather admit his poverty and emptiness. Give to God
what is God's and ascribe to yourself what is yours. Give Him thanks,
then, for His grace, but place upon yourself alone the blame and the
punishment your fault deserves.
Always take the lowest place and the highest will be given you, for the
highest cannot exist apart from the lowest. The saints who are greatest
before God are those who consider themselves the least, and the more
humble they are within themselves, so much the more glorious they are.
Since they do not desire vainglory, they are full of truth and heavenly
glory. Being established and strengthened in God, they can by no means
be proud. They attribute to God whatever good they have received; they
seek no glory from one another but only that which comes from God
alone. They desire above all things that He be praised in themselves
and in all His saints--this is their constant purpose.
Be grateful, therefore, for the least gift and you will be worthy to
receive a greater. Consider the least gift as the greatest, the most
contemptible as something special. And, if you but look to the dignity
of the Giver, no gift will appear too small or worthless. Even though
He give punishments and scourges, accept them, because He acts for our
welfare in whatever He allows to befall us.
He who desires to keep the grace of God ought to be grateful when it is
given and patient when it is withdrawn. Let him pray that it return;
let him be cautious and humble lest he lose it.
The Eleventh Chapter
Few Love the Cross of Jesus
JESUS has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear
His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for
trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His
fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything
for Him. Many follow Him to the breaking of bread, but few to the
drinking of the chalice of His passion. Many revere His miracles; few
approach the shame of the Cross. Many love Him as long as they
encounter no hardship; many praise and bless Him as long as they
receive some comfort from Him. But if Jesus hides Himself and leaves
them for a while, they fall either into complaints or into deep
dejection. Those, on the contrary, who love Him for His own sake and
not for any comfort of their own, bless Him in all trial and anguish of
heart as well as in the bliss of consolation. Even if He should never
give them consolation, yet they would continue to praise Him and wish
always to give Him thanks. What power there is in pure love for
Jesus--love that is free from all self-interest and self-love!
Do not those who always seek consolation deserve to be called
mercenaries? Do not those who always think of their own profit and gain
prove that they love themselves rather than Christ? Where can a man be
found who desires to serve God for nothing? Rarely indeed is a man so
spiritual as to strip himself of all things. And who shall find a man
so truly poor in spirit as to be free from every creature? His value is
like that of things brought from the most distant lands.
If a man give all his wealth, it is nothing; if he do great penance, it
is little; if he gain all knowledge, he is still far afield; if he have
great virtue and much ardent devotion, he still lacks a great deal, and
especially, the one thing that is most necessary to him. What is this
one thing? That leaving all, he forsake himself, completely renounce
himself, and give up all private affections. Then, when he has done all
that he knows ought to be done, let him consider it as nothing, let him
make little of what may be considered great; let him in all honesty
call himself an unprofitable servant. For truth itself has said: "When
you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: we
are unprofitable servants.'" 
Then he will be truly poor and stripped in spirit, and with the prophet
may say: "I am alone and poor."  No one, however, is more wealthy
than such a man; no one is more powerful, no one freer than he who
knows how to leave all things and think of himself as the least of all.
 Luke 17:10.
 Ps. 24:16.
The Twelfth Chapter
The Royal Road of the Holy Cross
TO MANY the saying, "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me,"
 seems hard, but it will be much harder to hear that final word:
"Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire."  Those who hear
the word of the cross and follow it willingly now, need not fear that
they will hear of eternal damnation on the day of judgment. This sign
of the cross will be in the heavens when the Lord comes to judge. Then
all the servants of the cross, who during life made themselves one with
the Crucified, will draw near with great trust to Christ, the judge.
Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win
a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the
cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly
sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of
spirit, in the cross is highest virtue, in the cross is perfect
holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life
but in the cross.
Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Jesus, and you shall enter
eternal life. He Himself opened the way before you in carrying His
cross, and upon it He died for you, that you, too, might take up your
cross and long to die upon it. If you die with Him, you shall also live
with Him, and if you share His suffering, you shall also share His
Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon your dying on the cross
everything depends. There is no other way to life and to true inward
peace than the way of the holy cross and daily mortification. Go where
you will, seek what you will, you will not find a higher way, nor a
less exalted but safer way, than the way of the holy cross. Arrange and
order everything to suit your will and judgment, and still you will
find that some suffering must always be borne, willingly or
unwillingly, and thus you will always find the cross.
Either you will experience bodily pain or you will undergo tribulation
of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken by God, at times
troubled by those about you and, what is worse, you will often grow
weary of yourself. You cannot escape, you cannot be relieved by any
remedy or comfort but must bear with it as long as God wills. For He
wishes you to learn to bear trial without consolation, to submit
yourself wholly to Him that you may become more humble through
suffering. No one understands the passion of Christ so thoroughly or
heartily as the man whose lot it is to suffer the like himself.
The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No
matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you
take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you
will--above, below, without, or within--you will find a cross in
everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have
peace within and merit an eternal crown.
If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the
desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but here
there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for
yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If
you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier
one. Do you expect to escape what no mortal man can ever avoid? Which
of the saints was without a cross or trial on this earth? Not even
Jesus Christ, our Lord, Whose every hour on earth knew the pain of His
passion. "It behooves Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the
dead, . . . and so enter into his glory."  How is it that you look
for another way than this, the royal way of the holy cross?
The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, and do you seek
rest and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself, you are mistaken
if you seek anything but to suffer, for this mortal life is full of
miseries and marked with crosses on all sides. Indeed, the more
spiritual progress a person makes, so much heavier will he frequently
find the cross, because as his love increases, the pain of his exile
Yet such a man, though afflicted in many ways, is not without hope of
consolation, because he knows that great reward is coming to him for
bearing his cross. And when he carries it willingly, every pang of
tribulation is changed into hope of solace from God. Besides, the more
the flesh is distressed by affliction, so much the more is the spirit
strengthened by inward grace. Not infrequently a man is so strengthened
by his love of trials and hardship in his desire to conform to the
cross of Christ, that he does not wish to be without sorrow or pain,
since he believes he will be the more acceptable to God if he is able
to endure more and more grievous things for His sake.
It is the grace of Christ, and not the virtue of man, which can and
does bring it about that through fervor of spirit frail flesh learns to
love and to gain what it naturally hates and shuns.
To carry the cross, to love the cross, to chastise the body and bring
it to subjection, to flee honors, to endure contempt gladly, to despise
self and wish to be despised, to suffer any adversity and loss, to
desire no prosperous days on earth--this is not man's way. If you rely
upon yourself, you can do none of these things, but if you trust in the
Lord, strength will be given you from heaven and the world and the
flesh will be made subject to your word. You will not even fear your
enemy, the devil, if you are armed with faith and signed with the cross
Set yourself, then, like a good and faithful servant of Christ, to bear
bravely the cross of your Lord, Who out of love was crucified for you.
Be ready to suffer many adversities and many kinds of trouble in this
miserable life, for troublesome and miserable life will always be, no
matter where you are; and so you will find it wherever you may hide.
Thus it must be; and there is no way to evade the trials and sorrows of
life but to bear them.
Drink the chalice of the Lord with affection if you wish to be His
friend and to have part with Him. Leave consolation to God; let Him do
as most pleases Him. On your part, be ready to bear sufferings and
consider them the greatest consolation, for even though you alone were
to undergo them all, the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be
compared with the glory to come.
When you shall have come to the point where suffering is sweet and
acceptable for the sake of Christ, then consider yourself fortunate,
for you have found paradise on earth. But as long as suffering irks you
and you seek to escape, so long will you be unfortunate, and the
tribulation you seek to evade will follow you everywhere. If you put
your mind to the things you ought to consider, that is, to suffering
and death, you would soon be in a better state and would find peace.
Although you were taken to the third heaven with Paul, you were not
thereby insured against suffering. Jesus said: "I will show him how
great things he must suffer for My name's sake."  To suffer, then,
remains your lot, if you mean to love Jesus and serve Him forever.
If you were but worthy to suffer something for the name of Jesus, what
great glory would be in store for you, what great joy to all the saints
of God, what great edification to those about you! For all men praise
patience though there are few who wish to practice it.
With good reason, then, ought you to be willing to suffer a little for
Christ since many suffer much more for the world.
Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more a man dies to
himself, the more he begins to live unto God.
No man is fit to enjoy heaven unless he has resigned himself to suffer
hardship for Christ. Nothing is more acceptable to God, nothing more
helpful for you on this earth than to suffer willingly for Christ. If
you had to make a choice, you ought to wish rather to suffer for Christ
than to enjoy many consolations, for thus you would be more like Christ
and more like all the saints. Our merit and progress consist not in
many pleasures and comforts but rather in enduring great afflictions
If, indeed, there were anything better or more useful for man's
salvation than suffering, Christ would have shown it by word and
example. But He clearly exhorts the disciples who follow Him and all
who wish to follow Him to carry the cross, saying: "If any man will
come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and
follow Me." 
When, therefore, we have read and searched all that has been written,
let this be the final conclusion--that through much suffering we must
enter into the kingdom of God.
 Matt. 16:24.
 Matt. 25:41.
 Luke 24:46, 26.
 Acts 9:16.
 Luke 9:23.
The First Chapter
The Inward Conversation of Christ with the Faithful Soul
“I WILL hear what the Lord God will speak in me." 
Blessed is the soul who hears the Lord speaking within her, who
receives the word of consolation from His lips. Blessed are the ears
that catch the accents of divine whispering, and pay no heed to the
murmurings of this world. Blessed indeed are the ears that listen, not
to the voice which sounds without, but to the truth which teaches
within. Blessed are the eyes which are closed to exterior things and
are fixed upon those which are interior. Blessed are they who penetrate
inwardly, who try daily to prepare themselves more and more to
understand mysteries. Blessed are they who long to give their time to
God, and who cut themselves off from the hindrances of the world.
Consider these things, my soul, and close the door of your senses, so
that you can hear what the Lord your God speaks within you. "I am your
salvation," says your Beloved. "I am your peace and your life. Remain
with Me and you will find peace. Dismiss all passing things and seek
the eternal. What are all temporal things but snares? And what help
will all creatures be able to give you if you are deserted by the
Creator?" Leave all these things, therefore, and make yourself pleasing
and faithful to your Creator so that you may attain to true happiness.
 Ps. 84:9.
The Second Chapter
Truth Speaks Inwardly Without the Sound of Words
SPEAK, Lord, for Your servant hears."  "I am Your servant. Give me
understanding that I may know Your ordinances  . . . Incline my
heart to Your ordinances  . . . Let Your speech distil as the dew."
The children of Israel once said to Moses: "You speak to us and we
will hear you: let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die." 
Not so, Lord, not so do I pray. Rather with Samuel the prophet I
entreat humbly and earnestly: "Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears."
Do not let Moses or any of the prophets speak to me; but You speak, O
Lord God, Who inspired and enlightened all the prophets; for You alone,
without them, can instruct me perfectly, whereas they, without You, can
do nothing. They, indeed, utter fine words, but they cannot impart the
spirit. They do indeed speak beautifully, but if You remain silent they
cannot inflame the heart. They deliver the message; You lay bare the
sense. They place before us mysteries, but You unlock their meaning.
They proclaim commandments; You help us to keep them. They point out
the way; You give strength for the journey. They work only outwardly;
You instruct and enlighten our hearts. They water on the outside; You
give the increase.
They cry out words; You give understanding to the hearer.
Let not Moses speak to me, therefore, but You, the Lord my God,
everlasting truth, speak lest I die and prove barren if I am merely
given outward advice and am not inflamed within; lest the word heard
and not kept, known and not loved, believed and not obeyed, rise up in
judgment against me.
Speak, therefore, Lord, for Your servant listens. "You have the words
of eternal life."  Speak to me for the comfort of my soul and for
the amendment of my life, for Your praise, Your glory, and Your
 1 Kings 3:9.
 Ps. 119:125.
 Ps. 119:36.
 Deut. 32:2.
 Exod. 20:19.
 John 6:68.
The Third Chapter
Listen Humbly to the Words of God. Many Do Not Heed Them
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, hear My words, words of greatest sweetness surpassing all the
knowledge of the philosophers and wise men of earth. My words are
spirit and life, and they are not to be weighed by man's understanding.
They are not to be invoked in vanity but are to be heard in silence,
and accepted with all humility and with great affection.
"Happy is the man whom You admonish, O Lord, and teach out of
Your law, to give him peace from the days of evil,"  and that he be
not desolate on earth.
The Voice of Christ
I taught the prophets from the beginning, and even to this day I
continue to speak to all men. But many are hardened. Many are deaf to
My voice. Most men listen more willingly to the world than to God. They
are more ready to follow the appetite of their flesh than the good
pleasure of God. The world, which promises small and passing things, is
served with great eagerness: I promise great and eternal things and the
hearts of men grow dull. Who is there that serves and obeys Me in all
things with as great care as that with which the world and its masters
"Be ashamed, O Sidon, for the sea speaks."  And if you ask
why, listen to the cause: for a small gain they travel far; for eternal
life many will scarcely lift a foot from the ground. They seek a petty
reward, and sometimes fight shamefully in law courts for a single piece
of money. They are not afraid to work day and night for a trifle or an
empty promise. But, for an unchanging good, for a reward beyond
estimate, for the greatest honor and for glory everlasting, it must be
said to their shame that men begrudge even the least fatigue. Be
ashamed, then, lazy and complaining servant, that they should be found
more eager for perdition than you are for life, that they rejoice more
in vanity than you in truth.
Sometimes indeed their expectations fail them, but My promise never
deceives, nor does it send away empty-handed him who trusts in Me. What
I have promised I will give. What I have said I will fulfill, if only a
man remain faithful in My love to the end. I am the rewarder of all the
good, the strong approver of all who are devoted to Me.
Write My words in your heart and meditate on them earnestly, for in
time of temptation they will be very necessary. What you do not
understand when you read, you will learn in the day of visitation. I am
wont to visit My elect in two ways--by temptation and by consolation.
To them I read two lessons daily--one reproving their vices, the other
exhorting them to progress in virtue. He who has My words and despises
them has that which shall condemn him on the last day.
A Prayer for the Grace of Devotion
O Lord my God, You are all my good. And who am I that I should dare to
speak to You? I am Your poorest and meanest servant, a vile worm, much
more poor and contemptible than I know or dare to say. Yet remember me,
Lord, because I am nothing, I have nothing, and I can do nothing. You
alone are good, just, and holy. You can do all things, You give all
things, You fill all things: only the sinner do You leave empty-handed.
Remember Your tender mercies and fill my heart with Your grace, You Who
will not allow Your works to be in vain. How can I bear this life of
misery unless You comfort me with Your mercy and grace? Do not turn
Your face from me. Do not delay Your visitation. Do not withdraw Your
consolation, lest in Your sight my soul become as desert land. Teach
me, Lord, to do Your will. Teach me to live worthily and humbly in Your
sight, for You are my wisdom Who know me truly, and Who knew me even
before the world was made and before I was born into it.
 Ps. 94:12.
 Isa. 23:4.
The Fourth Chapter
We Must Walk Before God in Humility and Truth
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, walk before Me in truth, and seek Me always in the simplicity
of your heart. He who walks before Me in truth shall be defended from
the attacks of evil, and the truth shall free him from seducers and
from the slanders of wicked men. For if the truth has made you free,
then you shall be free indeed, and you shall not care for the vain
words of men.
O Lord, it is true. I ask that it be with me as You say. Let your truth
teach me. Let it guard me, and keep me safe to the end. Let it free me
from all evil affection and badly ordered love, and I shall walk with
You in great freedom of heart.
The Voice of Christ
I shall teach you those things which are right and pleasing to Me.
Consider your sins with great displeasure and sorrow, and never think
yourself to be someone because of your good works. You are truly a
sinner. You are subject to many passions and entangled in them. Of
yourself you always tend to nothing. You fall quickly, are quickly
overcome, quickly troubled, and quickly undone. You have nothing in
which you can glory, but you have many things for which you should
think yourself vile, for you are much weaker than you can comprehend.
Hence, let none of the things you do seem great to you. Let nothing
seem important or precious or desirable except that which is
everlasting. Let the eternal truth please you above all things, and let
your extreme unworthiness always displease you. Fear nothing, abhor
nothing, and fly nothing as you do your own vices and sins; these
should be more unpleasant for you than any material losses.
Some men walk before Me without sincerity. Led on by a certain
curiosity and arrogance, they wish to know My secrets and to understand
the high things of God, to the neglect of themselves and their own
salvation. Through their own pride and curiosity, and because I am
against them, such men often fall into great temptations and sins.
Fear the judgments of God! Dread the wrath of the Almighty! Do not
discuss the works of the Most High, but examine your sins--in what
serious things you have offended and how many good things you have
Some carry their devotion only in books, some in pictures, some in
outward signs and figures. Some have Me on their lips when there is
little of Me in their hearts. Others, indeed, with enlightened
understanding and purified affections, constantly long for everlasting
things; they are unwilling to hear of earthly affairs and only with
reluctance do they serve the necessities of nature. These sense what
the Spirit of truth speaks within them: for He teaches them to despise
earthly things and to love those of heaven, to neglect the world, and
each day and night to desire heaven.
The Fifth Chapter
The Wonderful Effect of Divine Love
I BLESS You, O heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, for
having condescended to remember me, a poor creature. Thanks to You, O
Father of mercies, God of all consolation, Who with Your comfort
sometimes refresh me, who am not worthy of it. I bless You always and
glorify You with Your only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, the
Paraclete, forever and ever.
Ah, Lord God, my holy Lover, when You come into my heart, all that is
within me will rejoice. You are my glory and the exultation of my
heart. You are my hope and refuge in the day of my tribulation. But
because my love is as yet weak and my virtue imperfect, I must be
strengthened and comforted by You. Visit me often, therefore, and teach
me Your holy discipline. Free me from evil passions and cleanse my
heart of all disorderly affection so that, healed and purified within,
I may be fit to love, strong to suffer, and firm to persevere.
Love is an excellent thing, a very great blessing, indeed. It makes
every difficulty easy, and bears all wrongs with equanimity. For it
bears a burden without being weighted and renders sweet all that is
bitter. The noble love of Jesus spurs to great deeds and excites
longing for that which is more perfect. Love tends upward; it will not
be held down by anything low. Love wishes to be free and estranged from
all worldly affections, lest its inward sight be obstructed, lest it be
entangled in any temporal interest and overcome by adversity.
Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger or higher or wider;
nothing is more pleasant, nothing fuller, and nothing better in heaven
or on earth, for love is born of God and cannot rest except in God, Who
is above all created things.
One who is in love flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free, not bound. He
gives all for all and possesses all in all, because he rests in the one
sovereign Good, Who is above all things, and from Whom every good flows
and proceeds. He does not look to the gift but turns himself above all
gifts to the Giver.
Love often knows no limits but overflows all bounds. Love feels no
burden, thinks nothing of troubles, attempts more than it is able, and
does not plead impossibility, because it believes that it may and can
do all things. For this reason, it is able to do all, performing and
effecting much where he who does not love fails and falls.
Love is watchful. Sleeping, it does not slumber. Wearied, it is not
tired. Pressed, it is not straitened. Alarmed, it is not confused, but
like a living flame, a burning torch, it forces its way upward and
passes unharmed through every obstacle.
If a man loves, he will know the sound of this voice. For this warm
affection of soul is a loud voice crying in the ears of God, and it
says: "My God, my love, You are all mine and I am all Yours. Give me an
increase of love, that I may learn to taste with the inward lips of my
heart how sweet it is to love, how sweet to be dissolved in love and
bathe in it. Let me be rapt in love. Let me rise above self in great
fervor and wonder. Let me sing the hymn of love, and let me follow You,
my Love, to the heights. Let my soul exhaust itself in praising You,
rejoicing out of love. Let me love You more than myself, and let me not
love myself except for Your sake. In You let me love all those who
truly love You, as the law of love, which shines forth from You,
Love is swift, sincere, kind, pleasant, and delightful. Love is strong,
patient and faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and manly. Love is never
self-seeking, for in whatever a person seeks himself there he falls
from love. Love is circumspect, humble, and upright. It is neither soft
nor light, nor intent upon vain things. It is sober and chaste, firm
and quiet, guarded in all the senses. Love is subject and obedient to
superiors. It is mean and contemptible in its own eyes, devoted and
thankful to God; always trusting and hoping in Him even when He is
distasteful to it, for there is no living in love without sorrow. He
who is not ready to suffer all things and to stand resigned to the will
of the Beloved is not worthy to be called a lover. A lover must embrace
willingly all that is difficult and bitter for the sake of the Beloved,
and he should not turn away from Him because of adversities.
The Sixth Chapter
The Proving of a True Lover
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, you are not yet a brave and wise lover.
The Voice of Christ
Because, on account of a slight difficulty you give up what you have
undertaken and are too eager to seek consolation.
The brave lover stands firm in temptations and pays no heed to the
crafty persuasions of the enemy. As I please him in prosperity, so in
adversity I am not displeasing to him. The wise lover regards not so
much the gift of Him Who loves as the love of Him Who gives. He regards
the affection of the Giver rather than the value of the gift, and sets
his Beloved above all gifts. The noble lover does not rest in the gift
but in Me Who am above every gift.
All is not lost, then, if you sometimes feel less devout than you wish
toward Me or My saints. That good and sweet feeling which you sometimes
have is the effect of present grace and a certain foretaste of your
heavenly home. You must not lean upon it too much, because it comes and
goes. But to fight against evil thoughts which attack you is a sign of
virtue and great merit. Do not, therefore, let strange fantasies
disturb you, no matter what they concern. Hold strongly to your
resolution and keep a right intention toward God.
It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy and then
quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart. For these are
evils which you suffer rather than commit; and so long as they
displease you and you struggle against them, it is a matter of merit
and not a loss.
You must know that the old enemy tries by all means in his power to
hinder your desire for good and to turn you from every devotional
practice, especially from the veneration of the saints, from devout
meditation on My passion, and from your firm purpose of advancing in
virtue. He suggests many evil thoughts that he may cause you weariness
and horror, and thus draw you away from prayer and holy reading. A
humble confession displeases him and, if he could, he would make you
omit Holy Communion.
Do not believe him or heed him, even though he often sets traps to
deceive you. When he suggests evil, unclean things, accuse him. Say to
him: "Away, unclean spirit! Shame, miserable creature! You are but
filth to bring such things to my ears. Begone, most wretched seducer!
You shall have no part in me, for Jesus will be my strength, and you
shall be confounded. I would rather die and suffer all torments than
consent to you. Be still! Be silent! Though you bring many troubles
upon me I will have none of you. “The Lord is my light, my salvation.
Whom shall I fear? Though armies unite against me, my heart will not
fear, for the Lord is my Helper, my Redeemer."
Fight like a good soldier and if you sometimes fall through weakness,
rise again with greater strength than before, trusting in My most
abundant grace. But beware of vain complacency and pride. For many are
led into error through these faults and sometimes fall into almost
perpetual blindness. Let the fall of these, who proudly presume on
self, be a warning to you and a constant incentive to humility.
The Seventh Chapter
Grace Must Be Hidden Under the Mantle of Humility
The Voice of Christ
IT IS better and safer for you to conceal the grace of devotion, not to
be elated by it, not to speak or think much of it, and instead to
humble yourself and fear lest it is being given to one unworthy of it.
Do not cling too closely to this affection, for it may quickly be
changed to its opposite. When you are in grace, think how miserable and
needy you are without it. Your progress in spiritual life does not
consist in having the grace of consolation, but in enduring its
withdrawal with humility, resignation, and patience, so that you
neither become listless in prayer nor neglect your other duties in the
least; but on the contrary do what you can do as well as you know how,
and do not neglect yourself completely because of your dryness or
anxiety of mind.
There are many, indeed, who immediately become impatient and lazy when
things do not go well with them. The way of man, however, does not
always lie in his own power. It is God's prerogative to give grace and
to console when He wishes, as much as He wishes, and whom He wishes, as
it shall please Him and no more.
Some careless persons, misusing the grace of devotion, have destroyed
themselves because they wished to do more than they were able. They
failed to take account of their own weakness, and followed the desire
of their heart rather than the judgment of their reason. Then, because
they presumed to greater things than pleased God they quickly lost His
grace. They who had built their homes in heaven became helpless, vile
outcasts, humbled and impoverished, that they might learn not to fly
with their own wings but to trust in Mine.
They who are still new and inexperienced in the way of the Lord may
easily be deceived and overthrown unless they guide themselves by the
advice of discreet persons. But if they wish to follow their own
notions rather than to trust in others who are more experienced, they
will be in danger of a sorry end, at least if they are unwilling to be
drawn from their vanity. Seldom do they who are wise in their own
conceits bear humbly the guidance of others. Yet a little knowledge
humbly and meekly pursued is better than great treasures of learning
sought in vain complacency. It is better for you to have little than to
have much which may become the source of pride.
He who gives himself up entirely to enjoyment acts very unwisely, for
he forgets his former helplessness and that chastened fear of the Lord
which dreads to lose a proffered grace. Nor is he very brave or wise
who becomes too despondent in times of adversity and difficulty and
thinks less confidently of Me than he should. He who wishes to be too
secure in time of peace will often become too dejected and fearful in
time of trial.
If you were wise enough to remain always humble and small in your own
eyes, and to restrain and rule your spirit well, you would not fall so
quickly into danger and offense.
When a spirit of fervor is enkindled within you, you may well meditate
on how you will feel when the fervor leaves. Then, when this happens,
remember that the light which I have withdrawn for a time as a warning
to you and for My own glory may again return. Such trials are often
more beneficial than if you had things always as you wish. For a man's
merits are not measured by many visions or consolations, or by
knowledge of the Scriptures, or by his being in a higher position than
others, but by the truth of his humility, by his capacity for divine
charity, by his constancy in seeking purely and entirely the honor of
God, by his disregard and positive contempt of self, and more, by
preferring to be despised and humiliated rather than honored by others.
The Eighth Chapter
Self-Abasement in the Sight of God
I WILL speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. If I consider
myself anything more than this, behold You stand against me, and my
sins bear witness to the truth which I cannot contradict. If I abase
myself, however, if I humble myself to nothingness, if I shrink from
all self-esteem and account myself as the dust which I am, Your grace
will favor me, Your light will enshroud my heart, and all self-esteem,
no matter how little, will sink in the depths of my nothingness to
It is there You show me to myself--what I am, what I have been, and
what I am coming to; for I am nothing and I did not know it. Left to
myself, I am nothing but total weakness. But if You look upon me for an
instant, I am at once made strong and filled with new joy. Great wonder
it is that I, who of my own weight always sink to the depths, am so
suddenly lifted up, and so graciously embraced by You.
It is Your love that does this, graciously upholding me, supporting me
in so many necessities, guarding me from so many grave dangers, and
snatching me, as I may truly say, from evils without number. Indeed, by
loving myself badly I lost myself; by seeking only You and by truly
loving You I have found both myself and You, and by that love I have
reduced myself more profoundly to nothing. For You, O sweetest Lord,
deal with me above all my merits and above all that I dare to hope or
May You be blessed, my God, for although I am unworthy of any benefits,
yet Your nobility and infinite goodness never cease to do good even for
those who are ungrateful and far from You. Convert us to You, that we
may be thankful, humble, and devout, for You are our salvation, our
courage, and our strength.
The Ninth Chapter
All Things should be Referred to God as their Last End
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, I must be your supreme and last end, if you truly desire to
be blessed. With this intention your affections, which are too often
perversely inclined to self and to creatures, will be purified. For if
you seek yourself in anything, you immediately fail interiorly and
become dry of heart.
Refer all things principally to Me, therefore, for it is I Who have
given them all. Consider each thing as flowing from the highest good,
and therefore to Me, as to their highest source, must all things be
From Me the small and the great, the poor and the rich draw the water
of life as from a living fountain, and they who serve Me willingly and
freely shall receive grace upon grace. He who wishes to glory in things
apart from Me, however, or to delight in some good as his own, shall
not be grounded in true joy or gladdened in his heart, but shall be
burdened and distressed in many ways. Hence you ought not to attribute
any good to yourself or ascribe virtue to any man, but give all to God
without Whom man has nothing.
I have given all things. I will that all be returned to Me again, and I
exact most strictly a return of thanks. This is the truth by which
vainglory is put to flight.
Where heavenly grace and true charity enter in, there neither envy nor
narrowness of heart nor self-love will have place. Divine love conquers
all and enlarges the powers of the soul.
If you are truly wise, you will rejoice only in Me, because no one is
good except God alone, Who is to be praised above all things and above
all to be blessed.
The Tenth Chapter
To Despise the World and Serve God is Sweet
NOW again I will speak, Lord, and will not be silent. I will speak to
the hearing of my God, my Lord, and my King Who is in heaven. How
great, O Lord, is the multitude of Your mercies which You have stored
up for those who love You. But what are You to those who love You? What
are You to those who serve You with their whole heart?
Truly beyond the power of words is the sweetness of contemplation You
give to those who love You. To me You have shown the sweetness of Your
charity, especially in having made me when I did not exist, in having
brought me back to serve You when I had gone far astray from You, in
having commanded me to love You.
O Fountain of unceasing love, what shall I say of You? How can I forget
You, Who have been pleased to remember me even after I had wasted away
and perished? You have shown mercy to Your servant beyond all hope, and
have exhibited grace and friendship beyond his deserving.
What return shall I make to You for this grace? For it is not given
every man to forsake all things, to renounce the world, and undertake
the religious life. Is it anything great that I should serve You Whom
every creature is bound to serve? It should not seem much to me;
instead it should appear great and wonderful that You condescend to
receive into Your service one who is so poor and unworthy. Behold, all
things are Yours, even those which I have and by which I serve You.
Behold, heaven and earth which You created for the service of man,
stand ready, and each day they do whatever You command. But even this
is little, for You have appointed angels also to minister to man--yea
more than all this--You Yourself have condescended to serve man and
have promised to give him Yourself.
What return shall I make for all these thousands of benefits? Would
that I could serve You all the days of my life! Would that for but one
day I could serve You worthily! Truly You are worthy of all service,
all honor, and everlasting praise. Truly You are my Lord, and I am Your
poor servant, bound to serve You with all my powers, praising You
without ever becoming weary. I wish to do this--this is my desire. Do
You supply whatever is wanting in me.
It is a great honor, a great glory to serve You and to despise all
things for Your sake. They who give themselves gladly to Your most holy
service will possess great grace. They who cast aside all carnal
delights for Your love will find the most sweet consolation of the Holy
Spirit. They who enter upon the narrow way for Your name and cast aside
all worldly care will attain great freedom of mind.
O sweet and joyful service of God, which makes man truly free and holy!
O sacred state of religious bondage which makes man equal to the
angels, pleasing to God, terrible to the demons, and worthy of the
commendation of all the faithful! O service to be embraced and always
desired, in which the highest good is offered and joy is won which
shall remain forever!
The Eleventh Chapter
The Longings of our Hearts Must Be Examined And Moderated
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, it is necessary for you to learn many things which you have
not yet learned well.
What are they, Lord?
The Voice of Christ
That you conform your desires entirely according to My good pleasure,
and be not a lover of self but an earnest doer of My will. Desires very
often inflame you and drive you madly on, but consider whether you act
for My honor, or for your own advantage. If I am the cause, you will be
well content with whatever I ordain. If, on the other hand, any
self-seeking lurk in you, it troubles you and weighs you down. Take
care, then, that you do not rely too much on preconceived desire that
has no reference to Me, lest you repent later on and be displeased with
what at first pleased you and which you desired as being for the best.
Not every desire which seems good should be followed immediately, nor,
on the other hand, should every contrary affection be at once rejected.
It is sometimes well to use a little restraint even in good desires and
inclinations, lest through too much eagerness you bring upon yourself
distraction of mind; lest through your lack of discipline you create
scandal for others; or lest you be suddenly upset and fall because of
resistance from others. Sometimes, however, you must use violence and
resist your sensual appetite bravely. You must pay no attention to what
the flesh does or does not desire, taking pains that it be subjected,
even by force, to the spirit. And it should be chastised and forced to
remain in subjection until it is prepared for anything and is taught to
be satisfied with little, to take pleasure in simple things, and not to
murmur against inconveniences.
The Twelfth Chapter
Acquiring Patience in the Fight Against Concupiscence
PATIENCE, O Lord God, is very necessary for me, I see, because there
are many adversities in this life. No matter what plans I make for my
own peace, my life cannot be free from struggle and sorrow.
The Voice of Christ
My child, you are right, yet My wish is not that you seek that peace
which is free from temptations or meets with no opposition, but rather
that you consider yourself as having found peace when you have been
tormented with many tribulations and tried with many adversities.
If you say that you cannot suffer much, how will you endure the fire of
purgatory? Of two evils, the lesser is always to be chosen. Therefore,
in order that you may escape the everlasting punishments to come, try
to bear present evils patiently for the sake of God.
Do you think that men of the world have no suffering, or perhaps but
little? Ask even those who enjoy the most delights and you will learn
otherwise. "But," you will say, "they enjoy many pleasures and follow
their own wishes; therefore they do not feel their troubles very much."
Granted that they do have whatever they wish, how long do you think it
will last? Behold, they who prosper in the world shall perish as smoke,
and there shall be no memory of their past joys. Even in this life they
do not find rest in these pleasures without bitterness, weariness, and
fear. For they often receive the penalty of sorrow from the very thing
whence they believe their happiness comes. And it is just. Since they
seek and follow after pleasures without reason, they should not enjoy
them without shame and bitterness.
How brief, how false, how unreasonable and shameful all these pleasures
are! Yet in their drunken blindness men do not understand this, but
like brute beasts incur death of soul for the miserly enjoyment of a
Therefore, My child, do not pursue your lusts, but turn away from your
own will. "Seek your pleasure in the Lord and He will give you your
heart's desires."  If you wish to be truly delighted and more
abundantly comforted by Me, behold, in contempt of all worldly things
and in the cutting off of all base pleasures shall your blessing be,
and great consolation shall be given you. Further, the more you
withdraw yourself from any solace of creatures, the sweeter and
stronger comfort will you find in Me.
At first you will not gain these blessings without sadness and toil and
conflict. Habit already formed will resist you, but it shall be
overcome by a better habit. The flesh will murmur against you, but it
will be bridled by fervor of spirit. The old serpent will sting and
trouble you, but prayer will put him to flight and by steadfast, useful
toil the way will be closed to him.
 Ps. 37:4.
The Thirteenth Chapter
The Obedience of One Humbly Subject to the Example of Jesus Christ
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, he who attempts to escape obeying withdraws himself from
grace. Likewise he who seeks private benefits for himself loses those
which are common to all. He who does not submit himself freely and
willingly to his superior, shows that his flesh is not yet perfectly
obedient but that it often rebels and murmurs against him.
Learn quickly, then, to submit yourself to your superior if you wish to
conquer your own flesh. For the exterior enemy is more quickly overcome
if the inner man is not laid waste. There is no more troublesome, no
worse enemy of the soul than you yourself, if you are not in harmony
with the spirit. It is absolutely necessary that you conceive a true
contempt for yourself if you wish to be victorious over flesh and
Because you still love yourself too inordinately, you are afraid to
resign yourself wholly to the will of others. Is it such a great matter
if you, who are but dust and nothingness, subject yourself to man for
the sake of God, when I, the All-Powerful, the Most High, Who created
all things out of nothing, humbly subjected Myself to man for your
sake? I became the most humble and the lowest of all men that you might
overcome your pride with My humility.
Learn to obey, you who are but dust! Learn to humble yourself, you who
are but earth and clay, and bow down under the foot of every man! Learn
to break your own will, to submit to all subjection! Be zealous against
yourself! Allow no pride to dwell in you, but prove yourself so humble
and lowly that all may walk over you and trample upon you as dust in
What have you, vain man, to complain of? What answer can you make, vile
sinner, to those who accuse you, you who have so often offended God and
so many times deserved hell? But My eye has spared you because your
soul was precious in My sight, so that you might know My love and
always be thankful for My benefits, so that you might give yourself
continually to true subjection and humility, and might patiently endure
The Fourteenth Chapter
Consider the Hidden Judgments of God Lest You Become Proud of Your Own Good Deeds
YOU thunder forth Your judgments over me, Lord. You shake all my bones
with fear and trembling, and my soul is very much afraid. I stand in
awe as I consider that the heavens are not pure in Your sight. If You
found wickedness in the angels and did not spare them, what will become
of me? Stars have fallen from heaven, and I--I who am but dust--how can
I be presumptuous? They whose deeds seemed worthy of praise have fallen
into the depths, and I have seen those who ate the bread of angels
delighting themselves with the husks of swine.
There is no holiness, then, if You withdraw Your hand, Lord. There is
no wisdom if You cease to guide, no courage if You cease to defend. No
chastity is secure if You do not guard it. Our vigilance avails nothing
if Your holy watchfulness does not protect us. Left to ourselves we
sink and perish, but visited by You we are lifted up and live. We are
truly unstable, but You make us strong. We grow lukewarm, but You
Oh, how humbly and lowly should I consider myself! How very little
should I esteem anything that seems good in me! How profoundly should I
submit to Your unfathomable judgments, Lord, where I find myself to be
O immeasurable weight! O impassable sea, where I find myself to be
nothing but bare nothingness! Where, then, is glory's hiding place?
Where can there be any trust in my own virtue? All vainglory is
swallowed up in the depths of Your judgments upon me.
What is all flesh in Your sight? Shall the clay glory against Him that
formed it? How can he whose heart is truly subject to God be lifted up
by vainglory? The whole world will not make him proud whom truth has
subjected to itself. Nor shall he who has placed all his hope in God be
moved by the tongues of flatterers. For behold, even they who speak are
nothing; they will pass away with the sound of their words, but the
truth of the Lord remains forever.
The Fifteenth Chapter
How One Should Feel and Speak on Every Desirable Thing
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, this is the way you must speak on every occasion: "Lord, if
it be pleasing to You, so be it. If it be to Your honor, Lord, be it
done in Your name. Lord, if You see that it is expedient and profitable
for me, then grant that I may use it to Your honor. But if You know
that it will be harmful to me, and of no good benefit to the welfare of
my soul, then take this desire away from me."
Not every desire is from the Holy Spirit, even though it may seem right
and good. It is difficult to be certain whether it is a good spirit or
a bad one that prompts one to this or that, and even to know whether
you are being moved by your own spirit. Many who seemed at first to be
led by a good spirit have been deceived in the end.
Whatever the mind sees as good, ask and desire in fear of God and
humility of heart. Above all, commit the whole matter to Me with true
resignation, and say: "Lord, You know what is better for me; let this
be done or that be done as You please. Grant what You will, as much as
You will, when You will. Do with me as You know best, as will most
please You, and will be for Your greater honor. Place me where You will
and deal with me freely in all things. I am in Your hand; turn me about
whichever way You will. Behold, I am Your servant, ready to obey in all
things. Not for myself do I desire to live, but for You--would that I
could do this worthily and perfectly!"
A Prayer that the Will of God Be Done
Grant me Your grace, O most merciful Jesus, that it may be with me, and
work with me, and remain with me to the very end. Grant that I may
always desire and will that which is most acceptable and pleasing to
You. Let Your will be mine. Let my will always follow Yours and agree
perfectly with it. Let my will be one with Yours in willing and in not
willing, and let me be unable to will or not will anything but what You
will or do not will. Grant that I may die to all things in this world,
and for Your sake love to be despised and unknown in this life. Give me
above all desires the desire to rest in You, and in You let my heart
have peace. You are true peace of heart. You alone are its rest.
Without You all things are difficult and troubled. In this peace, the
selfsame that is in You, the Most High, the everlasting Good, I will
sleep and take my rest. Amen.
The Sixteenth Chapter
True Comfort Is to Be Sought in God Alone
WHATEVER I can desire or imagine for my own comfort I look for not here
but hereafter. For if I alone should have all the world's comforts and
could enjoy all its delights, it is certain that they could not long
endure. Therefore, my soul, you cannot enjoy full consolation or
perfect delight except in God, the Consoler of the poor and the Helper
of the humble. Wait a little, my soul, wait for the divine promise and
you will have an abundance of all good things in heaven. If you desire
these present things too much, you will lose those which are
everlasting and heavenly. Use temporal things but desire eternal
things. You cannot be satisfied with any temporal goods because you
were not created to enjoy them.
Even if you possessed all created things you could not be happy and
blessed; for in God, Who created all these things, your whole
blessedness and happiness consists--not indeed such happiness as is
seen and praised by lovers of the world, but such as that for which the
good and faithful servants of Christ wait, and of which the spiritual
and pure of heart, whose conversation is in heaven, sometime have a
Vain and brief is all human consolation. But that which is received
inwardly from the Truth is blessed and true. The devout man carries his
Consoler, Jesus, everywhere with him, and he says to Him: "Be with me,
Lord Jesus, in every place and at all times. Let this be my
consolation, to be willing to forego all human comforting. And if Your
consolation be wanting to me, let Your will and just trial of me be my
greatest comfort. For You will not always be angry, nor will You
The Seventeenth Chapter
All Our Care is to Be Placed in God
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, allow me to do what I will with you. I know what is best for
you. You think as a man; you feel in many things as human affection
Lord, what You say is true. Your care for me is greater than all the
care I can take of myself. For he who does not cast all his care upon
You stands very unsafely. If only my will remain right and firm toward
You, Lord, do with me whatever pleases You. For whatever You shall do
with me can only be good.
If You wish me to be in darkness, I shall bless You. And if You wish me
to be in light, again I shall bless You. If You stoop down to comfort
me, I shall bless You, and if You wish me to be afflicted, I shall
bless You forever.
The Voice of Christ
My child, this is the disposition which you should have if you wish to
walk with Me. You should be as ready to suffer as to enjoy. You should
as willingly be destitute and poor as rich and satisfied.
O Lord, I shall suffer willingly for Your sake whatever You wish to
send me. I am ready to accept from Your hand both good and evil alike,
the sweet and the bitter together, sorrow with joy; and for all that
happens to me I am grateful. Keep me from all sin and I will fear
neither death nor hell. Do not cast me out forever nor blot me out of
the Book of Life, and whatever tribulation befalls will not harm me.