Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
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Father Peter Arnoudt S.J.
Nihil Obstat Imprimatur 1904

PROLOGUE
 
I. THE most ancient special devotion of Christians is doubtless that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Son of God. The holy Sacraments and the other objects of devotion did not yet exist, when the Blessed Virgin Mary found her delight in worshiping the most Sweet Heart of her Jesus; already did Holy Joseph clasp that Heart to his bosom; even then were the Shepherds and the Magi, Simeon and Anna, the Apostles and the Disciples attracted to It and by It: they longed to show to It the affection and love of their hearts. But after Jesus had called upon all men to learn, "that He is meek and humble of Heart;" after He had drawn from the treasury of His Heart that best of all gifts, the Sacrament of the Most Blessed Eucharist; lastly, after He had willed that, upon the Cross, His Heart should be opened, and continue open, as a place of refuge for all; then was devotion to His Divine Heart wonderfully increased. The Apostles now spread it throughout the world as a special worship. Thenceforth, the Fathers of the Church themselves practiced it most tenderly, and commended it most carefully to others. The Saints of every after age became devoted disciples of the Heart of Jesus. But when came the fullness of time, at which He had decreed to pour forth all the riches of His Heart, the goodness and kindness of the Saviour were made manifest, and Himself revealed His wish that, thereafter, this devotion should be a most especial one; since He declared and promised that He would lavish the abundance of His graces upon all who should consecrate themselves to the worship of His Heart.

2. The object of this worship is the Heart Itself of Jesus. And since in Jesus Christ there are two natures, the Divine and the human, and only one person, the Divine Person; the Heart of Jesus Christ is the Heart of the Divine Person, the Heart of the Word Incarnate. And because the Divine Person is to be honored with the highest worship; the worship to be paid to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which can neither be separated nor taken away from the Divine Person, is likewise supreme. This is a Catholic truth, which has prevailed over all contrary errors.

3. The end of this devotion is threefold. The first, to make Jesus a return for that boundless love, of which His Heart is the symbol, that made Him do so much and suffer so immeasurably for our sake; and induced Him to bestow upon us that sweetest and most precious of all gifts, the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The second, that, through the fervor of our piety, we may, as far as we can, make amends for all the insults which have been, or are even now offered to His most Sacred Heart, which He exhibits to us as the throne of His affections. The third, that imitating what we worship, we may be inspired with the same affections, the same sentiments that animated His Heart during His life of toil and suffering, and still animate It in His blissful and Sacramental life.

4. From its antiquity, object, and manifold end, it is plain that this devotion is most excellent, most profitable, most solid, and most consoling. But since to imitate what we worship is the abridgment of religion, and since the other ends are contained and reduced to practice in a true Imitation; therefore, in order to insist on this Imitation, and, as far as it is allowed, to direct the same, this little volume is presented to all.

5. This work, which contains a summary of Ascetic Theology, and embraces the doctrine, as well as the practice, of the spiritual and interior life, will supply ample matter for daily meditation, throughout the whole year. In this manner the reader will be enabled to repeat it every year, to examine it more closely, and to impress it more deeply on his mind and heart. He can, if it so pleases, start from the beginning and continue to the end of the work; or he may, whilst going on from the beginning, occasionally break off this order, either when some necessity or advantage invites him to some portion specially adapted to his present feelings; or when, on the days on which he approaches holy Communion, his devotion suggests the last Book as better suited to his actual circumstances.

6. For very weighty reasons, things are not proposed here in general and in common, as is usually done in books for meditation, but everything is laid down specially and in particular, both in regard to the evil to be avoided, and the good to be practiced. First, that the reader may not be left in uncertainty or beating the air, aiming and grasping at whatever presents itself by the way, and yet gain, or secure nothing. Secondly, that having assiduously before his eyes something determinate, he may direct his strength and efforts, as well in time of prayer and meditation as during self-examination and the performance of good works, to this, that he subdue what is to be subdued, that he acquire what is to be acquired. Lastly, that by destroying separately those things which are the causes, or, as it were, the roots of other evils, he may the more easily and the more efficaciously demolish the rest; and that, by learning and acquiring separately those capital virtues of which, in the lowliness and charity of His Heart, Jesus has given us the example, he may the more readily and the more certainly obtain all other virtues.

7. What regards the manner of writing, although it is most true, that the testimony of Christ must not be announced in loftiness of speech or wisdom, since the kingdom of God consists not in speech hut in virtue; yet, it seemed proper to attend carefully to two things: first, that the style should everywhere be suited to the subject; secondly, that the diction should be sufficiently pure.

8. Finally, it must be observed, that the character of this little work is such, as to require, not that it should be read in public to others, but that every one, who desires to use it, may read it privately to himself alone. For its form, its reasoning demand that, in order to relish it, you should, in some manner converse alone with Jesus, face to face, heart to heart.

DIRECTORY FOR THE FIRST BOOK

I. WHOEVER desires to gather for himself the whole fruit of this work, must rightly understand the aim of each Book, properly apply the means proposed, and diligently strive to surmount the obstacles to the attainment of this aim. Wherefore, in relation to these things, we shall briefly and clearly lay down before every Book that which may serve to direct you with safety.

2. The aim of the first Book is, to teach you how to free the heart, first, from the stains of sin, after- wards from. the love of a corrupt world, and lastly, from the inordinate affection for self. And this may be understood in three ways, and reached through as many degrees.

And first, it is required that you free your soul from every mortal sin, and from the love of the world and every ill-regulated affection for yourself, so far as actually to prefer God, your Creator and Saviour, before all things; and consequently, to be unwilling, for anything whatsoever, to offend mortally the Divine Majesty.

Secondly, that you cleanse your heart from every deliberate vernal sin, and from the love of the world and the ill-regulated affection for self, so that not even to obtain all things created, nor even to preserve life itself, you would commit any deliberate venial sin.

Thirdly, that you purify yourself from those imperfections which a great fidelity to Divine grace may enable you to avoid; and that you so dispose yourself as to abhor the world, and to detest every inordinate affection for self.

Whence it follows that all, they that begin, they that are advanced, yea the perfect themselves, may profitably make use of this book and go over it again and again. For, "Believe me," says St. Bernard, "things cut off sprout forth again, what is driven off returns, what is put out is again enkindled, and what lies slumbering is again awakened. It is therefore but little to have pruned once, the pruning-knife should be applied, yea, if possible, always; if you are in earnest, you will always find something which needs pruning."

Here it must carefully be observed, that a perfect cleansing of the heart is a matter of the utmost importance, whereon almost everything in the spiritual life depends. The chief reason why there are so few who find the path of virtue easy and pleasant; so few who continue to advance readily and perseveringly; so few who attain to the Divine union; so few, in fine, who even in this life enjoy the good things which the Lord has here promised to the clean of heart,-----is, because so few do perfectly cleanse their interior. Many there are who labor much and make little progress: they are often obliged to begin anew; they scarcely, or almost never, taste the sweetness of virtue. They carry the cross, but do not experience its unction. And, although they may at last be saved, yet for all eternity, they deprive God of a great glory, and themselves of an immense bliss, which they could easily have merited, had they cleansed themselves perfectly. Wherefore, there is hardly anything which the demon strives more to hinder than a complete cleansing of the heart. He suffers us quietly enough to practice virtues, and even to apply ourselves to perfection, provided we neglect purity of heart. For he knows, that in this way we will fall into delusions, and never acquire genuine and solid virtues, much less true perfection. Now, this is the common illusion, against which souls, that are not yet well purified, should especially be on their guard: They desire namely, after a superficial cleansing of the heart, forthwith to deal on terms of intimacy in the interior life with Jesus, to be entertained with Him amid the flowers of virtues, and to taste the most delicious fruits: or, which is still more dangerous, neglecting perfect purity of heart, they aspire to the enjoyment of internal union with Jesus, so full of love and sweetness. There are other illusions, to which souls that enter upon the spiritual life are exposed; for example: they practice external
mortification even to excess; they wish,-----with a mind in some manner interiorly stubborn, and through a certain violence,-----to be freed from something that is irksome to them, or to acquire that for which they long; they keep up fear, even unto down-heartedness. But these things, although dangerous, are not so common nor baneful, as that whereby a person is induced to overlook interior purity.

3. To this, therefore, you must direct all your endeavors. First, having well understood that you are called to true bliss everlasting, learn, as perfectly as possible, all the malice and all the evil of sin, and feel in some manner, in your soul all the deformity caused in you by sin; secondly, acquire as perfect a knowledge as possible of the vanity and wickedness of the world, and comprehend most intimately the lamentable fate of those that suffer themselves, of their own accord, to be forever utterly destroyed by the world; thirdly, have a true knowledge of your own self,-----what you have made yourself through your offenses, how miserable you are of yourself, and to what you tend of
yourself.

To attain to all this, it is not enough to read the Book in a hasty manner, but you should meditate with attention and diligence on what is said, and reduce it to practice. For, in this work things are not so much unfolded as pointed out: first, in order that you may reflect thereon, and endeavor to develop and apply the same to yourself; secondly, that you may stir up the affections of your heart, and ask of the Lord whatever you may need, according to the state of your soul; lastly, that you may secure an inward relish and gather more abundant fruit. For, by thus meditating, by pious desires, by earnest prayer, you shall understand the matter more clearly, and apply it with more profit; and, in return, the Lord, according to the generosity of His Heart, will reward your endeavors, and bless them with His grace. All which is to be understood as referring not to the first Book only, but to the others likewise.

4. There are two methods of using this first Book: each of which is perfectly safe and easy, as is proved by the experience of very many, even uneducated persons, who are wont to spend whole hours in meditation, without weariness and with much fruit.

The first method is mainly suitable for beginners, who, not yet accustomed to mental prayer, cannot keep up a continuous reasoning; nothing, however, hinders others from employing this same method, particularly when they do not feel themselves properly disposed to make deeper reflections.

First, therefore, recite a preparatory prayer, which may always be the same, and as follows: "Gather unto Thee, Lord Jesus, all my senses; cleanse my heart from all evil and unbecoming thoughts; enlighten my understanding, inflame my heart, that, during this prayer, I may employ attentively and devoutly the senses of my body and the powers of my soul, for Thy glory and my salvation; and that, through Thy most Sacred Heart, I may deserve to be heard in the sight of Thy Divine Majesty. Amen. Lord Jesus, in unison with that Divine intention of Thy Heart, whereby Thou didst pay to God the tribute of Thy praise, I offer to Thee this prayer."

After which, place yourself before the Lord, in some appropriate mystery, or as dwelling in the holy Tabernacle.

Finally, beg fervently of Him the fruit of the prayer which you are about to make. These three things constitute the beginning or introduction of the meditation, in whichsoever manner it is made.

Next, if you make use of the first method of prayer, first, read slowly and attentively one or more verses, according as you may find it necessary or useful; secondly, consider how true that is which you have just now read; how true all the Saints deemed it, as well as all they that were anxious to deliver their souls from everlasting perdition, and to save them for eternity; how true you yourself will think it at the moment of death; thirdly, examine yourself, endeavoring to discover what has hitherto been, in practice, your conduct concerning it; if good, return thanks to the Lord, and ascribe to Him all the glory, and do not neglect to beg for grace to be enabled to persevere in well-doing, yea, to act even better and more perfectly; if, on the contrary, evil, grieve, excite an act of contrition, ask pardon; fourthly, form a good resolution of correcting yourself, or making progress for the better: select means adapted to this purpose, and ask for grace to execute your resolve. This being done, if the allotted time for meditation is not elapsed, pass over to other verses, following the same order.

But if you make use of the second method of meditation, after the aforesaid introduction, 1, exercise your memory, either by reading or recalling to mind the matter of the meditation; 2, exercise the understanding, first, by reasoning on the subject of the meditation, proceeding through causes and effects; secondly, by investigating what practical applications can be drawn therefrom; thirdly, what reasons or incitements urge you to this; fourthly, how you have acted till now; fifthly, what is to be done for the future; sixthly, what obstacles should be removed; seventhly, what means must be chosen; 3, exercise the will, first, by stirring up pious and appropriate affections and making internal acts; secondly, by forming good specific resolutions, adapted to the present state of your soul; thirdly, by earnestly imploring grace for yourself and for others.

Lastly, 1, a colloquy is made with Jesus by an outpouring of heart; 2, the concluding prayer is recited after this manner: "Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst deign, by a new favor to Thy Church, to disclose the unspeakable riches of Thy Heart, grant, I beseech Thee, that I may be able to correspond to the love of this most Sacred Heart, make atonement by worthy homage for the insults offered by thankless men to Thy most afflicted Heart, and be inspired in all things with the sentiments of the same Heart; who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God world without end. Amen"; 3, finish by recommending yourself to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, to your Angel Guardian and your holy Patrons. These three things form the end or close of every kind of meditation.

Since experience proves that the examples of the Saints exercise a wonderful and saving influence, on the hearts of sinners as well as of the just, they are frequently brought forward. But, to meditate on these with more fruit, you should consider some particular Saint or Saints, whom you choose for Patron, or to whom you entertain a special devotion, For different persons are edified and moved by different examples: thus a religious is wont to know better, and to study more, the lives of the Saints of his Order; and they that live in the world and strive to serve God, feel more devotion to those Saints whose example seems better adapted to themselves. When, therefore, the Saints are said to have done something after the example of the Heart of Jesus, or to have been distinguished in some specialty, you ought to select in your mind some particular Saint, and see what he did, and how he acted; implore his intercession with God, and recommend yourself to him. And if no Saint occurs to you at the time, you can always recall the example of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, and beg her intercession and protection.

5. Then, in order to guard against, or overcome the obstacles which the enemy of your everlasting happiness throws in your way, and which are wont to relate to conscience; you should, first, rightly understand what is meant by conscience. Now, conscience is the dictate presented through reason, which inwardly warns, or shows us, in particular cases, what is to be done or omitted, and this either under pain of sin, because it is a matter of precept; or, on account of an increase of merit, or the greater good-pleasure of God, because it is only a matter of counsel. It is called a dictate presented through reason; because it is a practical conclusion deduced from principles, known to reason, either by the light of nature, or of grace or faith. For example: My conscience tells me, that
today (Sunday) I am obliged to hear Mass. This is deduced from these implied premises: On Sundays there is an obligation of hearing Mass: but today is a Sunday; therefore, today there is an obligation of hearing Mass. But it must be remarked that an inference of this kind is secretly drawn, and presented to man, even in spite of himself: as is made manifest in those who are unwilling to listen to the voice of conscience, lest they be deterred from things wherein they unlawfully indulge, or lest they be disturbed in them. For it is altogether against their will that they hear, that conscience forbids something and condemns them. Hence it appears that conscience, when really such, is independent of man and superior to him.

He that is too prone to timidity or scrupulousness, should here carefully observe and learn, that conscience is not an agitation of the nerves, nor a representation of the fancy, nor a vague fear, nor, finally, the possibility of a case. On the other hand, he that is too inclined to laxity or to rashness, should observe, that a desire of the will, the propensity or aversion of nature, that some passion, or, lastly, some subtle artifice, is not conscience. But let them both remember, that conscience is the dictate presented through reason, or the voice of the Spirit of God, Who speaks to us inwardly by reason, as an interior organ, and makes known to us, in particular cases, His Will that commands, or His good-pleasure that counsels.

Conscience is true or right. A right conscience is that one, which shows things as they are in reality; as commanded or obliging, what is commanded; as dangerous, what is dangerous; as counseled or better, what belongs to counselor perfection. This conscience, if we follow it in such a manner that, from a holy fear of God,-----whereby like good children we dread to offend God,-----we avoid sins which destroy His friendship, or His paternal good-will towards us, is called a fair conscience. But, if we are so faithful that, at its bidding, we guard against every voluntary' defect, and are obedient to the same in all things, it is called a delicate conscience.

Again, conscience may be false or erroneous. Such is that one which shows things falsely or differently from what they are in truth. This happens, for the most part, through the fault of man, who vitiates the instrument of which the Spirit of God makes use, so that it does not transmit the Divine voice. Ignorance, the habit of sin, every inordinate passion, spoils it more or less. Or, to speak more plainly, ignorance, the habit of sin, every inordinate passion, have, each by itself, the effect of causing something false or trifling, to be assumed as one of the principles from which a practical inference, or conscience, is deduced. Whence it happens, that such a conscience is the voice, not of the Spirit of God; but of another spirit, that uses passion, or any of those other causes, to speak to man's interior.

If conscience errs by our voluntary fault, it is styled vincibly erroneous, and makes us guilty of the errors. Now, it is vincibly erroneous, through our voluntary fault, if, when we put an act, or the cause of an act, a knowledge or a doubt of an error occurs to the mind, and the obligation of a voiding the error is noticed, and when, over and above, ordinary diligence to know the truth is neglected. But, if conscience errs without such a fault on our part, it is called invincibly erroneous, and does not make us guilty in the sight of God.

To erroneous conscience belong likewise, both the scrupulous and the lax conscience, being the opposite extremes. A scrupulous conscience is that which believes it sees, and even when corrected, persists in believing, that it sees, sin where there is no sin; it errs for the most part, because a soul gives in to the imagination, to the obstinacy of her own judgment, or some passion which fetters the heart; whence, being inwardly agitated and perplexed, she sees objects differently from what they really are, or confounds one thing with another, precepts with counsels, things probable with possible, sin and its danger with the appearance or semblance of sin and danger.

A lax conscience, on the other hand, is the conscience of a soul that persuades herself that she does not see-----and, even when warned, continues to persuade herself that she does not see-----sin, or the danger of sin, where it really exists. An individual falls into this error because he has a mind which labors under culpable ignorance, or a sin to which he is habitually addicted; or because he indulges a passion by which he covets or abhors something inordinately. Whence it happens, that he who has such a conscience is blamable: because he can guard against errors by removing their cause; which he must certainly do when he sufficiently perceives the obligation of removing the same.

We should guard, with the greatest care, as well against a scrupulous, as against a lax, conscience. Both are not only dangerous, but destructive: the one, as well as the other, hinders perfection, and renders it impossible: and, what is more to be dreaded, both are wont to expose salvation itself to the danger of perdition. Wherefore, let every one be careful to have a right conscience.

But, to commit a formal sin, or a sin by which God is offended and man becomes guilty, it is necessary, first, that the act, whether internal or external, by which sin is committed, either through commission or omission, be evil or unlawful, or is considered as evil or unlawful by conscience; secondly, that his mind, when he does the act, or puts the cause of the act, advert to the moral evil of the act, or see that the act is unlawful; thirdly, that the will, whilst he possesses the internal liberty of choosing between consent and dissent, knowing that the act is evil or unlawful, freely consent thereto. For, if he does an internal or external act, the moral evil of which he does not notice, either when he does the act, or puts the cause of the act; he indeed wills or can will the act, but not as morally evil, while he does not see that the same is unlawful. For nothing is willed that is not known. Wherefore, by willing, or doing, such an act, he commits only a material sin, which is nothing else than an error of a conscience, invincibly erroneous whereby God is not offended and man not rendered guilty.

To commit a mortal sin, it is required, as not only the theologians, but the Saints also teach, first, that the internal or external act be grievously evil, or deemed grievously evil by conscience; secondly, that, when he does the act or puts the cause of the act, the mind does fully advert to the grievous evil of the act; thirdly, that the will, knowingly and freely, give its consent. If one of these three things be wanting, the sin, which would otherwise be mortal, is venial.

No one commits a formal sin in spite of his will: for man cannot sin, formally, except by his own free will. He can, however, if he so wills, through an abuse of his free will, think evil or that which is unlawful; propose or imagine it to himself, give his consent thereto, and commit sin. Moreover, the demon can, with the Divine permission, and really does, cause in him thoughts and imaginations, evil ones too, that he may entice him to give the consent of the will; but he can never force him to consent. Finally, God Himself, His good and blessed Sprits are wont to suggest thoughts, and to propose objects, but always to induce man to good: they assist his will to do good, but they never force him.

Whence it appears, that in man there is a triple kind of thoughts and emotions; the first, springing from the free will of man himself; the second, thrown in from without by the demon, the evil spirit; the third, also suggested from without, but by the good Spirit. Now then, "By their reasonings we shall know them: and the suggestion itself will make known which spirit it is that speaks" (St. Bern.)-----The following rules, which the Saints lay down for the discernment of Spirits, will help you to understand this matter:

I. To them that easily sin mortally, the evil spirit is commonly wont to suggest, or propose the
seeming delights of the flesh, sensual pleasures; that thereby he may hold them more securely in
his service, and plunge them deeper into sins and vices.

Towards such persons the good Spirit pursues the opposite course: he continually stings and disturbs their conscience; that he may render them conscious of the unhappy state of their soul, may deter them from sin, and convert them.

II. By deceitful counsel and cunning, the evil spirit endeavors to lead man to an inordinate love and greediness for riches, or the superfluity of possessions, that, afterwards, he may cause him to fall more easily into sin.

But the good Spirit whispers, that the heart should be kept free from the inordinate love and
eagerness for earthly possessions, lest it be entangled by them.

III. The evil spirit allures, presses, persists, in order to induce man to aspire to vain honors.

The good Spirit places before him, and teaches, generous humility, the true and safe glory of
man.

IV. To them that perceive the heedfullness of their devoting themselves to their everlasting salvation, and who begin seriously to think of securing the same, the evil spirit is wont to suggest a certain shame. or human respect, that he may check these good beginnings.

The good Spirit encourages and stimulates them, that, spurning all human considerations, they may bravely go forward.

V. To those who are sincerely careful to cleanse themselves from faults and vices, and who advance more and more in the desire of serving God, the evil spirit suggests molestations, scruples, sadness, false reasonings, and other annoyances of this kind, that thereby he may hinder their progress.

The good Spirit, on the contrary, is wont to supply strength and courage to those that act rightly or endeavor to do well, to enlighten their mind, to pour in consolation, to give peace and tranquillity, that they may ever the more readily and cheerfully by means of good works, continue to make further progress.

VI. With al! his might does the evil spirit strive that the soul, which he desires to deceive and to lead to ruin, do keep secret his wily suggestions. He exerts himself, as much as he is able, that his attempts be not made known to a spiritual director; since he knows that, in this event, he fails in them.

But the good Spirit loves light and order, because He acts fairly, and His works are good.

VII. The evil spirit is accustomed to conduct himself like a commander in war. For as this only examines the arrangements, and reconnoitres the strength of the citadel which he desires to take, and assails it on the weakest side; so the evil spirit explores our disposition and all our virtues, both theological and moral, and at whatever point he finds is weaker, there he is wont to attack and try to take us by storm.

VIII. The evil spirit, the tempter, is wont to lose, altogether, his courage and strength, whenever he sees his spiritual antagonist, struggling with a bold front and unterrified heart against temptations but, on the contrary, if he perceives that he trembles, and, as it were, loses courage, there is no wild beast on earth more fierce or headstrong against man than this same enemy, in order to accomplish the desire of his wicked and perverse mind.   -----------ST. IGNAT., ST. THOM., ST. TERES.

THE FIRST BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR PURIFYING THE HEART

CHAPTER I. THE FOUNDATION

1. The voice of Jesus.-----Learn of Me because I am meek and humble of Heart; and ye shall find rest for your souls.

The voice of the Disciple.-----These are the words of Jesus Christ, whereby we are commanded to learn and imitate the Virtues of His Heart, that we may be set free from all misery of soul, and be made truly happy.

This is His doctrine, this is the method of learning, this is the fruit, this is the end.

The first inducement to learn is the excellence of the Master. What is there more excellent than the Son of God, Who alone is our Master, appointed by His eternal Father, in Whom also are all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God?

His doctrine is the truth, surpassing all the arts and sciences of this world: it smooths the way not to some perishable wealth, some passing pleasures, or a short-lived renown: but to boundless riches, that cease not to last, to unuttered delights, that are constant, to honors supreme, that endure forever.

Whatever He taught us to do, He reduced to one lesson: Learn of Me because I am meek and humble of Heart: this He adapted to all men, this He gives to all, that all may learn the same, the little as well as the great; knowing full well that in this precept, if rightly understood and kept, are contained all things necessary.

His whole life was the application of this doctrine, which He began to practice, before He taught it to others.

2. Let us learn this short lesson, and we shall be wise enough, and sufficiently instructed; nor shall we have to look for any thing more.

The method of learning consists in action, which is performed in two ways: by studying and by practicing.

But first, in order to understand what we strive to learn, and reduce to practice what we have understood, we must pray earnestly.

Afterwards, we must diligently revolve in our mind the depth, the height, the breadth of the lesson; keeping unceasingly before our eyes the Divine likeness of our Master, and examining what we ought to amend, what to avoid, what to hold, and to what to aspire.

Lastly, since it is not enough to know, but we must also practice, the lesson, as it wholly consists in action, and can only be perfectly learnt by acting; we must, as soon as we begin to learn, also begin to practice, showing ourselves before God and men, meek and humble of heart in thought, word and deed.

And, whilst we progress in understanding and practice, we should so labor that the spirit of the lesson unfold itself ever more perfectly in the plan of our life, in our inmost feelings, in our conversations, in our every action, yea, in the very modifications of the same.

3. If, after this manner, we learn what our Lord has given us to learn, we shall reap the fruit, whereby our zeal and toil shall most certainly be rewarded, according to the promise of Him Who cannot possibly deceive nor be deceived.

Which is that promised fruit? Of all-----the most desirable. Ye shall find rest, says He. And what is it, to find rest?

Nothing less than to find that with which we may repose, filled and satisfied; without any need to seek for aught more, and without fear of ever losing it, against our will.

Whoever shall have found this rest, will be truly calm and happy: but he that finds it not, whatever else he may possess, shall ever be restless and unhappy; because in his heart he is not satisfied, is obliged to seek for more, and is ever in danger of losing, even against his will, what he has acquired.

We are all so framed that, by nature, we are compelled to covet a blissful repose; neither have we
it in our power not to desire the same. A great blessing it doubtless was, that the Lord placed within us this awakening desire, this urging power; for, more firmly in action, more gently in manner, do we by its means, pursue that which is to make us happy.

And although, by the freedom of our will, we are enabled to seek rest in a variety of things; yet will this longing of ours, this power, importune and drive us onward, until we find the object for the seeking and attaining of which this faculty has been given to us.

Christ the Lord, our God, Who implanted this faculty in our souls, and Who would not have given us this irresistible faculty without an object, nor have given it without the ability of attaining the same,-----shows us here where we should seek, and how we may find the true object.

Learn of Me because I am meek and humble of Heart, and ye shall find rest. He makes no distinction, no exception: we shall then find true rest, unalloyed happiness.

For although our rest, our soul's happiness, as long as we dwell here below, cannot be every way complete, yet it will be real; such as the Lord promises and such as has been experienced by numberless Saints, who were meek and humble Disciples of the meek and humble Jesus.

We shall truly enjoy that peace, which no outward enemy can disturb: we shall delight in that repose, which no inward agitation can disquiet: lastly we shall possess that Divine likeness and union, wherein is contained supreme happiness! yea, every good here upon earth, and of which no one can deprive us, against our will.

4. Whilst we gather this fruit, we shall, at the same time, secure our end, the everlasting bliss of our souls. For He says: Ye shall find rest for your souls.

If our souls are ours, they are not ours because we created them, since He Himself created us, and not we ourselves: but they are ours because He gave them to us. In giving them to us, He gave them for an end worthy of Himself, that we,-----after He had done what He ought, which He always does, since He is infinitely perfect,-----might act jointly with Him, and thus gain for our souls a blissful and abiding tranquillity.

This then is the end: everlasting beatitude of the soul, intimately connected with the glory of the Lord, Who, in creating her, had this end in view.

For if God is full of glory in all His works, how glorified must He be, in so great a work as that of the salvation of souls exulting forever in triumph, and praising Him without ceasing!

To attain this end, He helps and strengthens us in a thousand ways and by countless means: for this He goes before us, as a good father before His children, as a guide and companion, pointing out a safe and pleasant way, whilst, at the same time, He relieves and refreshes us.

5. This being so, let us joyously follow so great and so good a leader. What can be more honorable for us? Is it not a great glory to follow the Lord? Is it not supreme honor, to be the beloved Disciples of His Heart?

What worldly honor can be imagined, which does not become mere emptiness, when compared with such a dignity?

Nor is there anything more useful, since on it depends our soul's rest: our happiness both in time and in eternity. Now, this is a matter of such importance, that alone it deserves our attention; because without it, all other things are useless and delusive Lastly, it is sweet and easy; for His commands are not heavy; since He enjoins such things, as with the means which He affords, we cannot only perform, but from the fulfillment of which no enemy of our salvation, no obstacles can hinder us.

And, if we learn of the very Heart of the Saviour, we draw from the sweetest fountain of love; so that we either do not feel the labor, or if we do, we  cherish it as to find it easy and delightful.

O Jesus, meek and humble of Heart! receive me, I pray Thee, as Thy Disciple, the Disciple of Thy Heart, and grant me to learn diligently of Thee to be meek and lowly of heart, that thus I may find rest for my soul, to Thy everlasting glory.

CHAPTER II. THAT NO OBJECT IN THIS WORLD CAN SET OUR HEART TRULY AT REST OR MAKE IT TRULY CONTENTED

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, thou art created for happiness. This experience affirms, this reason proves, this faith teaches.

Thou seekest incessantly for happiness, and thou dost well. But leave off seeking thy happiness in things created; in them thou shalt not find it.

No object of this world can satisfy the longings of thy heart; even shouldst thou alone possess at once all things created, thy heart should still be empty and wretched.

Things of this earth awaken the thirst of the heart, they cannot allay it; yea, the more thou dost possess, the more eagerly shalt thou thirst.

How canst thou find in creatures that which exists not in them? Can anyone give what he does not possess?

2. Shalt thou obtain what no mortal was ever able to obtain? Behold, the wisest of men abounded in all good things, he was affluent with ever-fresh delights, he astonished nations with his boundless wealth, he had filled the uttermost lands with the renown of his glory.

Yet, on account of the void of his heart, he is forced to exclaim: Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.
Grant that thou possess whatever thy heart may long for in this world: that thou be lord of the
whole earth: that all men do thee honor: try all things; and thou shalt find that thou hast as yet found nothing, except vanity and affliction of spirit.

3. Do not wonder at this, My Child: thy heart is not made for this world. Therefore, whatever
this world contains is unworthy of thy noble destiny and of thy heart's affection.

Thou art created for greater things, thou art born for things everlasting, thou art destined to things without limit. Do not then give thyself up to what is low and mean, since thou art made to rule forever.

What could it avail thee to gain the whole world, if thou shouldst lose thy soul? Surely, thou wouldst be twice unhappy: here, on account of the wicked state of thy conscience, thou wouldst suffer a torturing agony; hereafter, thou wouldst have to undergo misery everlasting.

Blessed, therefore, is he who spurns whatever may mislead the heart; who nobly casts aside every obstacle to true felicity; who, mindful of his noble destiny, seeks happiness above all in his Creator.

4. The voice of the Disciple.-----My God, my Saviour, Thou didst create me for happiness; hitherto I have not ceased to seek it, still I have never yet tasted, nor have I ever yet found happiness.

My passions were ever and anon crying to me: here it is, or there. In my madness, I believed them, and, blinded by my unruly desires, I ran hither and thither; but, instead of the sought-for bliss, I found wretchedness, and tasted its bitterness.

Ah, wretched me! created for happiness in Thee.

My God! I toiled in vain, whilst I sought it in creatures outside of Thee; and behold! I strayed still further away from the bliss for which I was created, and I found wretchedness, for which I was not made, and perished therein.

God, my Saviour! open my eyes, that now I may distinctly see this great mistake of mine; and grant that, free from error, I may effectually seek in Thee that beatitude which I cannot find in creatures.

CHAPTER III. THAT IN THE HEART OF JESUS OUR HEART MAY FIND TRUE REST,
UNALLOYED FELICITY

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, if thou desirest to attain true felicity, render thy whole heart similar and conformable to My Heart.

In My Heart thou shalt find peace and tranquillity, which the world cannot give nor take away.
 
If once thou hadst entered perfectly into the interior of My Heart, thou wouldst thence behold all
things earthly, such as they are in themselves, not as they are esteemed by the foolish worshipers of the world.

Then thou wouldst free thyself from the irksome and unnecessary care of creatures, and think nothing worthy of itself, except what is truly good.

2. Now, thy heart, subject to continual fluctuation, changes seven times a day, so that at one time it is glad, at another sad; now calm, then troubled, again inflamed with the love of creatures, and again wearied with the emptiness of them; sometimes it glows with fervor, and next it falls into lukewarmness, and thus, like the sea, it is ever changing.

But, if thy heart were united with Mine, a great and enduring calm would suddenly ensue.

For, safe in thy union with My Heart, as in a harbor of protection, thou shouldst be enabled to remain ever the same and unshaken; secure against change, whether the winds of adversity or of prosperity were blowing.

If thou art sheltered in My Heart, no enemy shall hurt thee. The devil, indeed, runs about, seeking whom he may destroy; and many does he drag into destruction; but thee he shall not approach, nor shall he disturb thy peace.

3. Oh! if thou wouldst acknowledge the Divine gift! Oh! if thou wert willing to know what good things lie hidden therein! It does truly contain all that is needed for thy felicity.

Continual peace, undisturbed security, true joy of heart is the portion of all those that love My Heart, and make their abode within the same.

Of what avail are riches, honor, yea the greatest delights, if the heart be not satisfied and at rest?

And what can the whole world give, except restlessness and sickliness of heart?

Wretched therefore shalt thou be, whatever thou mayst possess, until thou shalt rest in Me, Who alone can give thee all.

4. The voice of the Disciple.-----Experience has taught me this, O Lord; for in all things have I sought peace, and nothing have I found except trouble upon trouble.

Thou didst assuredly will, for Thy Own sake, as well as for ours, that our heart should find peace in Thee alone. For Thou, O Lord, didst make our heart for Thyself: and restless and unhappy must it be, until it repose in Thee.

O Heart of Jesus most sweet! O Thou the delight of the most Holy Trinity! O Thou the joy of the Angels and Saints! O most blissful Paradise of souls! what can I wish outside of Thee, since in Thee is all that I can and must desire?

In Thee, Heaven has its beatitude; in Thee, the earth its felicity: since, then, Thou art the bliss of all, why shouldst Thou not also be mine?

Yes, indeed, O sweetest Heart of My Jesus! Thou art my repose, Thou art my bliss for evermore.

CHAPTER IV. THAT IT IS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION TO IMITATE THE HEART OF JESUS

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, one thing above all others is necessary, to save thy soul. For if she is lost, all is lost; but if she is saved, all else is saved.

Yet, thou shalt not attain thy eternal salvation, if thou do not imitate My Heart.

For those whom God did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.

Which is this image of the Son of God, whereunto all those that will be saved are to be conformed, if it be not My Heart?

It is not given to everyone, to imitate My outward actions; nor does it depend on man to do the wonderful works, which I have wrought.

Besides, by reason of the diversity of men's conditions in life, all cannot follow My exterior manner of living; but the interior dispositions of My Heart can be imitated by all, the great and the small, the learned and the ignorant, in whatever condition they may live.

If then thou desirest to be saved, be conformed to My Heart; and do thou reproduce in thy heart, whatever sentiments animate Mine.

2. Though thou shouldst distribute thy possessions among the poor; though thou shouldst give up thy body to the greatest penances; though thou shouldst understand all mysteries; though thou shouldst work astonishing miracles; if thy heart be not after the likeness of Mine, thou art nothing, and all those things shall avail thee nothing forever.

By the likeness of thy heart to Mine art thou to be judged, and thence is thy eternal state to be determined.

But, at the judgment, many will say: Lord, have we not in Thy name prophesied? have we not cast out devils? have we not wrought many wonders? And I will say to them: I know you not: do ye see the wounds which ye have inflicted? Do ye recognize the Side, which ye have pierced, and which for your sake remained open; yet ye would not enter into the same? Whatever, therefore, thou mayst do, it avails thee nothing, unless thou do it according to My Heart.

3. Not the outward appearance of piety, but a devoted heart makes a man truly good, and dear to Me.

Thou wilt place thy salvation in security, in proportion as thou dost conform thy heart to My
Heart.

Do for thy salvation whatever thou art capable of doing: no zeal can be too great, when an eternity is at stake.

When thou art about to die, thou shalt find that everything is lost, whatsoever thou mayst have done; unless thou didst direct it to Me, and to thy salvation.-----If, then, thy everlasting salvation is of the greatest importance, remember, as much as thy salvation is worth, so much is the Imitation of My Heart to be prized.

4. The voice of the Disciple.-----O eternal salvation of the soul! important affair, thou alone art to me supremely necessary! Why am I in this world If not to save my soul? Why was I redeemed, why furnished with so many means, why loaded with Divine favors, if it was not that I might, with more ease and pleasure, secure my soul's salvation?

But alas! I did not yet begin earnestly, that for which I am placed in this world. Ransomed as I was, I sold myself again into a more disgraceful slavery, and perished by misusing the very means and blessings, whereby I might so easily have secured my salvation and my happiness.

O Lord my God! Thou couldst most justly have permitted that I should perish forever, and suffer that never-ending destruction, which my wickedness and the wasting of Thy gifts have deserved for me.

Yet, since the infinite goodness of Thy Heart did not allow this; nay more, since by a new and exceedingly great blessing, Thou hast induced me to value and love the salvation of my soul; I will no longer be ungrateful, I will no longer expose my soul to everlasting ruin.

I resolve and promise to co-operate with Thy Heart's most sweet designs of saving my soul, and rendering her forever happy.

CHAPTER V. THAT ALL OUR PERFECTIONS CONSIST IN IMITATING THE HEART OF JESUS

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, all thy perfection consists in thy resemblance to My Divine Heart.

For My Heart, which is the Heart of the Word of God, is the standard of all virtues, is holiness itself.

Whoever, therefore, imitates my Heart, imitates God, his Saviour, perfection itself.

Now, since My Heart is the model of sanctity and the source of every grace, thou shalt learn of My Heart, what it behooves thee to do, that thou mayst render thyself holy; and thou shalt draw thence the necessary strength to effect this.

If, then, thou wilt become perfect, imitate My Heart: the more conformed thou art to It, the more
perfect shalt thou be.

2. My Heart is humble: humility is the foundation of true sanctity.
 
If thou do not learn humility of My Heart, thou shalt never possess this virtue; nor shalt thou know aught of it except the name.

And if thou build the structure of perfection upon aught else, it cannot be solid; and it shall be overthrown by the least breath of wind, and great shall be the fall thereof.

Moreover, My Heart is meek, full of charity: now, charity is the perfection holiness.

But thy heart shall never be inflamed with charity, unless it be enkindled by that fire of love wherewith My Own is burning.

Woe to thee, if thou enkindlest thy heart with any strange fire! thou wilt indeed burn, but for thy destruction.
3. Thou shalt never acquire solid virtues, not attain true sanctity, except by imitating My Heart.

Whatever signs of virtue thou mayst display, how devout soever thou mayest appear: so long as thy heart does not imitate Mine, all thy piety shall be nothing more, than a mask thrown over thy features.

There is no hope of perfection, unless thou propose to thyself My Heart as a pattern of perfection.

4. So it has been from the beginning of the world. For, in the Old Law, it was foretold and known of what sort My Heart would be; and no one was numbered with the Elect, unless he had foreshadowed in his heart the qualities of My future Heart.

And from the beginning of the Church to the present time, My Heart was ever the sanctification of the Apostles, the fortitude of Martyrs, the constancy of Confessors, the purity of Virgins, the perseverance of the Just; in short, the perfection of all the Saints.

Therefore, take courage, My Child, follow My Heart, whithersoever I may lead thee: the more closely thou shalt follow the same, the nearer thou shalt come to complete perfection.

On the Imitation of My Heart depends the entire fulfillment of the Law, all sanctity.

The constant endeavor of imitating My Heart, is a sure sign of predestination.
 
5. The voice of the Disciple.-----O sweet Jesus, fountain of life and grace! arouse me, help me to understand and imitate Thy Heart, the standard of virtue, the pattern of sanctity.

Free my heart from every illusion, from every obstacle: grant, that with a guileless and pure heart, I may seek Thee; that I may make Thy interior thoughts, the feelings of Thy Heart, my own; that I may make myself inwardly similar to Thee.

Alas! O Lord, how unlike in heart am I to Thee! How little have I hitherto labored to portray the life of Thy Heart by my own! Would that I had not struggled to estrange my heart and turn it away from Thine! O blindness! O madness of my soul!

Have Thou pity on me, Lord Jesus! have pity on me, according to the great mercy of Thy Heart.

How many there are, who have not lived so long, nor had so many means, and yet have sanctified themselves by becoming fervent Disciples of Thy Heart! And I have not yet begun to be holy: I am still a sinner!

It is time, O Lord, it is time to begin the work of my sanctification, which I have so long neglected.
 
This arouses me, this spurs me on, that I can yet be made holy, that I can yet become the Disciple of Thy Heart, that I can yet be marked with that most joyous sign of predestination.

Cheer me up, Jesus most kind, give help, give courage: behold, now I begin.

CHAPTER VI. THAT WHOEVER DESIRES TO IMITATE THE HEART OF JESUS, MUST PURIFY HIS OWN HEART

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, if thou wilt enter into the intimacy of My Heart, and taste the unutterable sweetness of Its intercourse, cleanse thy heart from every evil.

For I, thy Well-beloved, am pure and stainless, I delight Myself among the lilies.

How could there exist a union betwixt My Heart and thine, unless thou hadst carefully purified it?

For who shall accuse My Heart of sin? And how canst thou say: My heart is clean; since thy heart itself is conscious of the contrary?

Alas! My Child, what a heart is thine! Born in sin, so long an abode of evil spirits, defiled and disfigured by so many stains, strongly drawn to evil and sadly estranged from supernal good; fostering so many ill-regulated affections, the fruitful sources of sin, full of itself and of the world; accustomed, for the most part, to have itself in all things for its ultimate object.

2. Wonderful indeed is it, that thou darest invite Me to enter into such a heart, and to reside amid such uncleanness.

A wicked heart is to Me an object of abhorrence, but an unclean heart I loathe: how then could it delight Me to dwell therein?

I seek a pure heart, and all My delight is to dwell therein; and to be there entertained among
lilies.

Whoever, therefore, loves cleanness of heart, shall enjoy My presence, and shall experience the tenderness, and Divine sweetness of My Heart.

3. Be not deceived, My Child, thinking that it is well with thee, provided thou dost outwardly deport thyself in a proper manner, since I look chiefly at the heart.

And what will it avail thee to have been pleasing by thy outward conduct, to all creatures, if, by thy inward dispositions, thou hast been displeasing to Me?

If thy heart is stainless, then shalt thou be wholly pure: since it is from the heart that proceed evil thoughts, uncleanness, fraud, blasphemy and all manner of evil. 

Purify thy heart, therefore, and nothing shall hinder thee from being sweetly united to My Heart, and from tasting the fullness of Its delights.

But, if only outwardly thou turn away from evil, if thou do not root out sin from thy heart, thou shalt never be free from vices: they shall sprout forth with ten times greater vigor from within, than thou shalt be able to shun from without; and, whilst thou appearest to stand firm, thou shalt sink beneath the weight of inward evils.

4. Come then, My Child, prepare a neat dwelling-place for Me in thy heart, and I, when I come, will be wholly thine, and thou shalt be wholly Mine; and there shall exist a wonderful intimacy between us, and a union known only to those who have tried it by experience.

Be of good courage, and begin forthwith this all-important work: thou canst feel no true joy, until thou finish it entirely.

Fear of trouble hinders many from perfectly purifying their hearts.

This is a device of the enemy: the wily foe,-----knowing that on a true and thorough cleansing of the heart depends not thy salvation and perfection alone, but also that of others, and, above all, My glory,-----strives, by every means, to keep thee from this undertaking.

Give no heed to the suggestions of the crafty schemer, who cares not, whether it be by true or false means, that he attains his object.

Do thou pray, ask for Divine grace; with this, set about thy work bravely; and thou shalt see that all difficulties vanish before thy greatness of spirit; and, to thy astonishment, thou shalt find, that where thou didst look for the greatest hardships, there shalt thou meet the greatest consolations.

5. The voice of the Disciple.-----I beg and beseech Thee, Lord, create a clean heart in me, and renew a right spirit in my interior.

My whole heart is defiled with uncleanness: and from the heart, infection has spread over the powers of my soul, and over the senses of my body. Alas! O Lord! what is there in me without blemish, or altogether pure?

Send forth, I beseech Thee, the light of Thy grace, and illumine my mind; that I may know, and bewail, all the evil I have done, and the good which I have neglected.

O how I regret, sweetest Jesus, that I have dishonored Thy dwelling-place in so unworthy a manner, that I have displeased Thee, that I have saddened Thy Heart! I grieve, O my supreme Good: I lament and abhor all my sins: I avow my malice and my ungratefulness: I implore the mercy of Thy Heart.

Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean: wash me from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Yea, from hidden offenses, and from those not my own, purify my heart.

Come, Jesus, enter my heart, and make for Thyself a scourge with the cords of holy fear, of lively gratitude, and of pure love, and drive out all them that defile this Thy dwelling.

Behold, henceforth I will give admittance to none of them: Thy house shall be called a house of prayer: in it, I will worship Thee; in it, I will love Thee; in it, I will occupy myself with Thee alone.

CHAPTER VII. THAT OUR HEART MUST BE ESPECIALLY CLEAN FROM MORTAL SIN, THE GREATEST OF EVILS

1. The voice of Jesus.-----Look thou, My Child, lest in thy heart there be that sin which causeth the death of the soul.

How canst thou love, or darest thou receive, as a guest, into thy heart, thy deadly foe; who, when admitted, will, without doubt, make thee the slave of Hell, the most wretched of men; yea, more base than the irrational beings themselves.

How many there are who exclaim: Alas! what evils ravage the earth! Yet sin is the only evil, and there is none other besides.

Avoid sin, and whatever may befall thee, it will turn to thy advantage.

2. It is marvelous, that a being, gifted with reason, should, of its own accord, commit sin, which, in its very nature, is so unbecoming and detestable, that, even were there no Heaven nor Hell, it ought to be shunned on account of its inherent foulness.

If thou considerest the infinite Majesty of Him that is offended, and the infinite meanness of the one offending; thou wilt understand, that sin is in some sort an infinite evil.

Whoever sins mortally, assails God, and would do away with God Himself, if that were possible: nor is it for want of will, on the part of the sinner, that the God of Heaven and earth is not destroyed.

3. So great an evil is sin, that, in order to destroy this hell-born monster, and to satisfy the Divine justice, I, the Son of the Most High, must needs come down from My throne of Majesty, and being made man, suffer during life a ceaseless Martyrdom, and, at last, writhing in agony, expire upon a Cross.

Alas! wretched man, how canst thou love to do that, which has cost Me so much? Or how canst thou be willing, for a moment's pleasure, to renew all My toils, My sufferings, and My most bitter death?
When thou sinnest mortally, thou makest thyself guilty of a far more grievous crime than the Jews, My torturers. For these, had they known Me as the Lord of eternal glory, would never have put Me to death. But thou, thou knowest Me: yea, knowest Who, and how good I am, and knowest this by the experience of My favors.

4. Was it not by My charity alone, that I not only created, redeemed, and preserved thee; but that I ever protected, guided, and cherished thee more kindly than the most tender-hearted parent?

Whatever thou art, whatever thou hast, I have given thee, and, over and above all, I have given thee My Own Self: and is this the return which thou makest?

Behold, if thou throwest to an animal, devoid of reason, a morsel of the meanest food, it shows thee gratefulness, as much as it is able. But I have bestowed upon thee boundless favors, and, in return, thou persecutest Me, even unto the death! Reflect, then, what shouldst thou think of thyself?

5. O child of My everlasting love! whom I have loved more than My life, sin thou no more.

If thou lovest Me, yea, if thou lovest thyself, flee from sin.

For, whenever thou committest a mortal sin, thou diest in a supernatural manner; thou losest whatever merits thou didst possess; thou dost forfeit thy right to the heavenly inheritance; thou becomest a co-heir with the devils; thou givest the preference to misery over bliss, to Hell over Heaven, to Satan over Me.

Meditate upon these things, My Child, that thou mayst learn fully, as far as the human mind can understand, how great an evil sin is; and that thou mayst shun that, which alone can make thee wretched for evermore.

6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O my soul! behold sin! Truly the greatest of evils, that places man below the brute, blocks up the gates of Heaven, throws open the abyss of Hell. O monster to be abhorred, a thousand times more frightful than the demon himself!

O my God! I blush to own it, and disown it I cannot, I have become the vilest slave of sin, and by the greatest madness, the greatest ingratitude, the greatest malice; with it, and by it, I have again and again insulted Thy dread Majesty, before which the awe-struck Angels tremble with reverence.

I feel wholly confounded, because I have become viler than any irrational creature; I have done iniquity which my reason disapproved, and I have misused all the powers of my soul, all the senses of my body.

7. O Lord my God! Thou didst establish in me Thy sweet likeness; and I, after having defiled the same, have substituted in its stead the horrid image of Satan; yea, in various ways, I have rendered myself even more horrible than the devil.

He sinned through pride, when no punishment had yet been inflicted for sin; I sinned knowing,
but disregarding Thy vengeance: he was placed in innocence but once; I was restored to it so many
times: he rose up against Him Who made him-----I against Him, Who also remade me.

Most wretched sinner that I am; for nothing, yea, for an object baser than nothing, I have voluntarily cast aside Thy friendship, the blissful peace of my soul, the right to eternal beatitude; I have delivered myself up, as a hapless slave, to the devil; thus, sharing from this time his unhappy condition, and ready to partake of his never-ending torments, unless, returning to my senses, I find mercy in Thy Heart.

S. I acknowledge, Lord Jesus, that I am unworthy to find that mercy, which I have so often abused: I am not worthy to serve Thee, since I have become the slave of the devil. If Thou wilt treat me as I deserve, Hell must be my abode.

Yet, Jesus, my Saviour! there is infinite mercy in Thy Heart: my very sins show this; for unless Thy mercy were infinite, Thou wouldst never have tolerated the infinite malice of my sins.

  O Jesus! have pity on me, according to Thy great mercy. A suppliant, I implore forgiveness I hope that Thou wilt pardon me, a wretched sinner. I am sincerely sorry for the sins I have committed, and I firmly resolve to serve Thee faithfully henceforth, and to love Thee fervently.

CHAPTER VIII. THAT OUR HEART MUST BE FREE FROM THE LEAST SIN

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, cleanse thy heart from every fault: and keep thyself carefully from the stain of even the least sin.

There is nothing, there can be nothing, for the sake of which it is allowed to commit a sin, however light.

Wherefore, although thou mightst thereby save the whole world from ruin, it would be unlawful to offend Me, even in the least thing, since I am infinitely more excellent than the whole universe.

Some guard themselves against grievous offenses, but of light faults they render themselves guilty without scruple; a clear sign that they are rather governed by self-love, than by love for Me.

Deluded souls! they will learn, at their cost, how greatly they have deceived themselves.

2. Whoever overlooks little things, will gradually fail in great ones; and, having accustomed himself to think everything little, he will still fancy, that all is well with him; when, without much uneasiness of conscience, he commits great sins.

In his folly, he finds it delightful to walk on the brink of the precipice: yet, it will come to pass, and that justly too, that, at the first slip of his foot, he is thrown headlong into the abyss.

Beware, therefore, of venial trespasses, lest thou fall into mortal sins. As long as thou yielded, even to the slightest fault, so long wilt thou expose thy salvation to danger.

3. Many seem heartily to abhor the renewal of My death by mortal sin; and yet, they cease not, by small offenses, to load My Heart with bitterness, and afflict It with continued sorrows.

Ah! My Child, consider again and again, and carefully attend to what thou art doing. For, whilst thou art willing to inflict a small wound on My Heart, perhaps thou shalt mistake, as has happened to many, and thou shalt pierce My Heart with a mortal blow.

  O perverseness of the human heart! Many dread more to give offense to the meanest of men, than to Me, their God and Saviour.

4. So long as thou continues to sin, even slightly, thou shalt be ill at ease; for shalt thou taste true happiness.

If thou hast thy perfection at heart, as it behooves, unless thou avoidest every voluntary sin, thou shall labor in vain, whatever efforts thou mayst make.

For, venial sin lessens charity, brings on lukewarmness, vitiates acts of virtue, obstructs the sources of special grace; and, finally, despoiling, by degrees, the soul of her possessions, leaves her empty.

5. And for what is it, in most cases, that man exposes himself to evils so numerous, and so great? Is it not for self-interest, or for self-gratification?

But consider, how great a loss will ensue, and how severely thou shalt have to suffer in Purgatory.

There, torments are undergone, which far exceed all the pains of this world, and all the ills of life: nor shalt thou go thence, until thou hast paid the last farthing.

How exceedingly shalt thou then deplore, that thou didst commit even the smallest offense, on account of which thou perceivest, too late, alas! that thou art excluded from Heaven, and most sorely tormented?

Do not, My Child, render useless My Heart's desires and endeavors of making thee happy; neither be thou so thoughtless as to choose to be unhappy, in spite of Me.

6. The voice of the Disciple.-----Venial sin, O Lord, is then no small evil, since it offends Thy Divine Majesty, wounds Thy Heart, deprives the soul of special graces and helps, hinders her progress, vitiates her good deeds, prepares the way for her destruction, exposes her to the danger of everlasting perdition, and excludes her from Heaven.

And evils so great, I have deemed small! O what madness was mine! And, what is worse, I have committed them without number, without measure. My transgressions have exceeded all bounds.

Where are the limits? Behold! as many powers of the soul, and senses of the body as there are in me, so many kinds of sin: as many gifts and favors, so many faults of misuse or ungratefulness: as many species of employments, so many sorts of offenses. Alas! amongst all my actions, even those of religion or of piety, which is the one wherein Thou findest not some short-coming?

  O my soul, we commit so many faults through want of attention, by surprise, and through frailty; ought not these to suffice? Should we add greater ones through carelessness, through the abuse of our free-will, through malice?

Is this the return we make to the Lord, by Whose goodness we live, to Whose love we owe whatever we are and possess?

7. O Lord God, my Saviour! that I have not perished beneath the weight and multitude of my offenses, this I acknowledge is altogether due to the kindness of Thy Heart: yea, to Thy Heart's mercy it is owing, O Lord, that I have not been utterly destroyed.

I have been lowered to the dust: my strength has forsaken me; darkness has overspread me: my heart itself has grown faint within me. Lo! ever deeper have I sunk, and through very weariness, I am now unable to extricate myself. O, how great is my misery!

O! who shall give water to my eyes, and strength to my heart, that I may weep, and move Thee, O Lord, to set me free!

Have pity on me, good Jesus! and deliver me: cleanse and renew me wholly.

Inflame my heart with the love of Thy Heart: with Its Divine fire do Thou consume my offenses: nor keep them for the fire of Purgatory. Here, I beseech Thee, here let me burn and be cleansed in the fire of Thy sweet love; not there in the fire of avenging flames.

Behold! O most sweet Jesus, love for Thee will now make me do, what fear has hitherto been unable to effect: through love for Thee, I will shun every sin, even the slightest.


ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR PURIFYING THE HEART

CHAPTER IX. THAT THE HEART OF THE SINNER CAN TASTE ONLY THE BITTERNESS OF MISERY

1. The voice of Jesus.-----Well-beloved, if thou hast come to this, that thy heart has nothing wherewith to reproach thee, rejoice, yea rejoice, because peace, like a stream of bliss, is thine.

A good heart makes the soul happy, gladdens Heaven, terrifies Hell. But a wicked heart fills the sinner with wretchedness, moves the Saints with pity, inspires the demons with fiendish joy and exultation.

Picture to thyself all the possible calamities of this world; thou shalt never be able to imagine misfortunes so great, as those which the sinner bears in his heart.

How hard, how abject, is the slavery of the sinner! with how many chains, and how tightly lies he fettered beneath the yoke of the basest masters, the demon and his own tyrannical passions!

His understanding is bound with the chain of a dull ignorance. so that he may not see the truth: his will is chained with the fetters of an accursed malice, that he may not love goodness.

His senses are riveted with the fetters of concupiscence, that he may not follow righteousness: he is pressed down by the weight of the chains of his passionate desires, that he may not gain the sweet freedom of grace.

2. Who is more foolish than the sinner, who is himself the cause of his deepest degradation?

If, on earth, there be a foretaste of Hell, it is surely in the heart of the wicked; who, inflamed
with the fire of his passions, suffers all the tortures of an evil conscience.

How can he ever truly rejoice, who knows that were the slender thread of life broken, he should be hurled into the depths of Hell?

Verily, I know not how he dares betake himself to his nightly rest, who knows not whether he shall not awake in eternity as a reprobate?

3. The human heart necessarily strives after happiness: but, blindly hurried away by a mind unbridled and unsubdued, the sinner seeks happiness there, where only greater misery can be found.

Some seem to imagine that they may be able to satisfy their passions, by gratifying them completely; and that, when they are sated, then, at last, peace will come. Alas! how great an error!
For who, in order to put out a conflagration, will cast fresh fuel on the fire? Would he not, by so doing, rather increase than extinguish it?

Even so, if a man should sacrifice to his passions the salvation of his soul, and the health of his body, unsated, still, they would exclaim: Thine we are, give us food.

Oh, were the heart of the sinner exposed, what wretchedness, what disgustful objects might be descried therein! Yet all things are open and visible to Me, Who cannot err, and Whom men cannot
deceive.

4. A heart given to evil habits, sometimes goes so far that it no longer fancies, loves, or relishes anything, except what may gratify the passions and, although it knows that it is hurrying on to an abyss of misery, yet it heeds not, but, like a senseless beast, it runs after its lusts, trampling under foot, not the good things of eternity alone, but also decency, and honor, and life itself.

The sinner needs no enemy to hurt or torment him: he himself is his own greatest enemy, and most cruel torturer.

Even from the things with which he seeks to delight and gratify himself, he is wont to receive manifold tortures.

5. How can he enjoy peace, who nourishes within himself the cause of his disturbance? Or how can he even once breathe freely, who is the slave of the devil?

How unhappy must he be, who allows Satan to seat himself on the throne of his heart, and to be lord and master therein!
 
Blessed is he, that has never experienced the slavery of the devil! that has never groaned beneath the weight of the shackles of sin!

My Child, if thou hast never yet felt the wretchedness of the state of sin, rejoice thou with thy whole heart, and never seek to know what it is to serve the devil.

But if, unfortunately, thou art his subject, have pity on thy soul; eagerly cast off his yoke, burst his chains, enjoy the freedom of the children of God.

6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord! how great is the wretchedness of the state of sin! How truly unhappy is the soul, that languishes in this most pitiful state! What peace, what joy can she possess, when she has Thee, the Almighty and All-knowing One, for an enemy! When she knows herself banished from Thy Heart, her last place of refuge! When she is conscious that at any moment
she may be plunged into fire everlasting.

How truly unhappy, when she cannot look up to Heaven, without seeing that she has lost all right to the same! When she cannot look around her, without being upbraided, and without being terrified at every accident! When she cannot even cast down her eyes, without being silently reminded, that Hell is her dwelling-place!

How truly unhappy, when she cannot turn to her own heart, without finding Satan therein! Without being tortured therein as in a Hell tasted beforehand, where there is nothing joyous, nothing consoling; but everywhere horror, and darkness, and dread, and torments.

O most wretched soul! how changed from what thou wast, when, adorned with celestial grace, ennobled by Divine adoption, thou wast so fair, so great, as to be an object of wonder to the Saints and Angels!

How disfigured by sin! how abject! how base under every aspect!

7. O Jesus! would that I were able, even at the price of my blood, to undo what has unfortunately been done! Would that I had never fallen into so great a wretchedness, but that I had rather lost my life instead of Thy grace!

O blessed are they, that have never lost their innocence! that have never experienced the misery of the state of sin!

Restore to me, I entreat Thee, my first garment; give me back my innocence: and lo! in the newness of life I will so serve Thee, as to preserve it stainless for Thee all my days, even to the end.

CHAPTER X. THAT THE HEART OF JESUS INVITES ALL, EVEN SINNERS

1. The voice of Jesus.-----Come to Me, all ye that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.

He that is just, let him come, that he may be made still more just: he that is lukewarm, let him come, that he may become fervent: he that is a sinner, let him come, that he may be cleansed and made holy.

Alas for human frailty! Where is the man, that has not sinned? For, whosoever shall say, that he has no sin, deceives himself, and the truth is not in him.

2. My Child, if thou feelest thyself burdened with sins, or troubled with defects, hasten to My Heart: here shalt thou be made free; here thou shalt breathe again.

Let not the greatness of thy sins hinder thee, nor the grandeur of My Majesty: I came not to call the just to repentance, but sinners.

The greater the miseries to which thou art subject, the greater the pity I feel for thee: and the
more thou art ill, the greater need thou hast of a physician.

I am not astonished at thy infirmities; for I know thy frame and thy heart. That thou didst not fall into greater evils, thou owest chiefly to My grace.

But at this I wonder, that, when I present Myself to heal thee, thou art unwilling to be healed; or, if thou art willing, thou seemest to doubt My goodness.

Ah! My Child, do not offer this most bitter insult to My Heart. For My Heart loves to forgive, and does not grow weary with pardoning.

Behold, with what kindness I treat truly repentant sinners, so that I have even been called the friend of sinners.

3. Where is the heart, that loves as My Heart? No man has a greater love, than that he lay down his life for his friends; but I, the Son of God, have a greater one than this, for I laid down My life for My enemies.

Who ever loved Me first? Or who ever bestowed his affections upon Me, who did not first experience the effects of My love?

4. Since many lose their innocence, before they understand clearly what innocence is, or how great its price, it is a great glory of My Heart, to triumph also over their hearts; and of sinners to make
them Saints.

O didst thou but know the charity of My Heart, thou mightst then be able to understand, how dearly It loves faithful souls, and how sweetly It invites sinners.

Who is suffering, and My Heart is not suffering with him? Who sins, and My Heart is not thereby affected? Who is ill, and My Heart does not afford a remedy? Who is unhappy, and My Heart does not feel it? Who, in fine, is there in the world, to whom My Heart does no good?

5. I am a good Father; and My children, begotten on the Cross, I embrace with the love of My Heart-----which remains open for them, that, at all times, they may have a place of refuge, nor this a common one, but the very centre of My affections.

Whilst they sleep, My Heart is awake to watch over them; whilst they are watching, It is occupied with their preservation.

So great is the love wherewith My Heart is inflamed for them, that I love and cherish each, as if he were My only one.

And if some one, misled by the enemy, wanders away, My Heart wails over him, as over the death of an only-born. I pursue him with My love, I invite, I press, I promise. But if he be unwilling to hearken to Me, I have patience, I stand at the door of his heart, and knock again and again.

If, at last, he resolves to return to Me; I fly to meet him, I press him to My bosom, whilst My Heart leaps for joy; because I see the child, whom I had bewailed as dead, alive and safely restored to Me.
 
In My joy, I call together all Heaven, that they may congratulate Me, and exult with Me.

6. If, therefore, thou desirest to delight My Heart, to gladden Heaven, and to refresh thy soul, be converted to Me with thy whole heart.

It matters not how much, or how little, thou mayst have sinned, come to My Heart, and thou shalt find a cure for all thy ills.

Trust in Me, My Child, and fear nothing: I call thee, not to upbraid thee with thy faults; but that I may wash them away.

Come, Child come: I await thee, with open arms, and a burning Heart.

7. The voice of the Disciple.-----Behold, most sweet Jesus, behold, I come, aroused and reassured by
the exceeding goodness of Thy Heart. Coming, I beseech and exclaim: Kindly receive Thy prodigal child, returning from a far-off country, squalid with sin, filled with misery.

I am not worthy to be called Thy child, since I left Thee in a manner so unbecoming, dishonored Thee so shamefully, and grieved Thee so much.

I have sinned against Heaven and before Thee: guilty as I am, I dare not now throw myself into Thy arms: behold, I prostrate myself in the dust before Thy feet, appealing to Thy paternal Heart, imploring pardon.

Lo, Thou didst recall me when I fled away: Thou didst seek me, when I was lost: Thou didst bear with me, when I was abusing Thy goodness: with wonderful mildness Thou didst induce me to return: when, at last, I come in this pitiful state, Thou dost not only receive me, but, O goodness!
Thou dost even embrace me! O Jesus! O never was there such a father!

Let all the Angels and Saints be glad, and rejoice with me: let them praise and extol Thy mercy
forever!

Behold, now I am Thine for evermore: ever faithful I will love Thee, O Lord, and, through love for Thee, I will comply with all Thy wishes.

CHAPTER XI. HOW THE CLEANSING OF THE HEART IS TO BE UNDERTAKEN

1. The voice of the Disciple.-----Numberless, O Lord, are the things which urge me on to free myself entirely from faults. Heaven holds out promises, Hell threatens, earth can at any moment hurl me into eternity.

My heart, also, full of thy gifts, impelled by its own wretchedness as well, and drawn by the infinite goodness of Thy Heart, never ceases to incite me.

But, how shall I perform so great an undertaking? For, although I see that I ought to do it, yet, I know not how to accomplish it.

Do Thou, I beseech Thee, good Jesus, teach me the manner of truly amending and reforming myself. All the glory, thence arising, shall belong to  Thee, and to Thy most loving Heart.

2. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, if thou wishest to cleanse thy heart, and to root out everything vicious, begin the work with a great courage and a generous mind.

Have the good and determined will of correcting thyself, and be never ceasing to strive after a complete cleansing; at the same time, cherish a sincere desire of co-operating with the Divine grace, and of following its guidance: and thus thy endeavors shall, at last, be crowned with success.

This is the first and chief means on thy part: from it all the rest derives its strength and efficacy, and without it, however powerful it may be, of itself, everything else can hardly effect any good.

This strong determination of ever striving, with God's grace, to cleanse the heart, and to preserve it unsullied, is the first hope of future purity of heart, the first sign of future perfection, the first token whereby future Saints are distinguished, yea, the first characteristic mark of the true Disciples of My Heart.

3. Being made ready for the work, by this disposition of thy soul, take fire, and enkindle thy heart therewith, that thou mayst consume the sins and defects which exist therein.

Understand, Child, what I say. Thou hast to clear a garden, all bristling with noxious plants and weeds, and disfigured with filthy objects; thou shalt succeed, however, if thou usest the proper means, if thou cuttest away all things hurtful, if thou tearest up and carriest out everything useless; but thou shalt not finish thy work, except after a long time, and with hard labor.

But, by applying the fire, without trouble and in a short time, thou shalt see the whole garden cleansed.

Nay, more; by this burning, the garden itself shall become richer, and better suited to produce flowers and fruits.

In like manner, Child, thou wilt cleanse thy heart, which may be likened to this garden, much more readily, and more easily, by using the fire of Divine love, rather than by any other means.

Thereby also thou shalt find thy heart better adapted to produce the flowers of virtue, and the fruits of sanctity.

4. Now, this fire thou mayst obtain from My Heart, if thou drawest near to It, through prayer; if thou prayest, not with the lips alone, but also with thy mind and heart.

For, if thou weighest properly in thy mind the sufferings of Hell, or of Purgatory, which thou hast so often deserved: if thou considerest attentively My Divine favors bestowed upon thee, and all thy ungratefulness:

If thou meditatest carefully on My infinite perfections so worthy of all love and honor, and on thy offenses, so deserving of punishment:

If, moreover, thou viewest Me, exhausted with toils, through love for thee, and suffering so many things, for thy transgressions,-----hanging on the Cross, with arms extended, and with My Bosom opened for thee:

If, in fine, thou enterest into My Heart Itself, and considerest to what degree that innocent Heart did suffer for thy sins, and how, for them, it was spent and consumed:

If, at the same time, through loving desires, and fervent petitions, thou appliest, as it were, thy heart to Mine:-----
 
Then, doubtless, in prayer, shall blaze out that fire, that heat of Divine love, of which I am speaking.
 
5. From this love do thou draw forth contrition; that is, sorrow for sin committed, and a resolve of not sinning again in future.

No one, My Child, obtains the pardon of his sins, unless he bewail them; nor is anyone healed of his vices, unless he hate them.

Wherefore, as much as thou art able, do thou hate and detest, in thy heart. thy sins and vices; which thou canst not hate nor detest too much.

The more thou shalt draw this sorrow from the Divine love, the more perfect shall thy contrition be, even if thou do not actually feel the same.

And the more sincerely thou shalt bewail and detest thy sins, with an upright heart, the more certain shalt thou be of the pardon of thy offenses, and the more secure against committing new ones.

6. Thou hast a sure mark of sorrow for the sin of the past, if thou abstainest from committing new ones.

Therefore, have thou, and preserve always, a firm resolve of shunning whatever thou knowest to be displeasing to Me; and of suffering rather all the evils of this life, than to commit a voluntary sin.

But, take heed, lest thou deceive thyself, by imagining, that any kind of resolve will be sufficient.

 For a vague desire is not enough: a resolution made through custom, or for form's sake, is not enough neither does an ineffectual purpose suffice,-----when one appears to will and not to will; when, as he fancies, he is willing to sin no more, and yet, he is unwilling effectually to use the means necessary to avoid sin.

It is requisite, My Child, that the resolution be really sincere, settled, and efficacious, that by it thou mayst be induced to employ the means, which may hinder thee from again committing sin.

Now, to keep this resolution ever alive within thee, renew it often, pray frequently, nourish thy devotion by spiritual exercises: and thus obtain for thyself that special grace whereby thou mayst the more easily become constant and persevering.

7. The voice of the Disciple.-----My Heart, O Lord, is truly like an abandoned field, wherein many noxious weeds spring up and many useful plants lie spoiled.

It is a great work, to clear the heart of all these, and, of myself, I can do nothing profitable.

But do Thou help me, I beseech Thee, with Thy efficient and powerful grace, that I may be able to finish happily so great an undertaking.

For I desire eagerly to complete, according to Thy direction, a work so necessary, so useful, so holy; and am resolved not to leave it off, before I have finished it in reality.

Do not suffer, O most kind Jesus, that I ever grow slothful or careless, in so important an enterprise. For, I confess, that I am prone to grow weak in courage, and that I am wont, even after I have begun with zeal, by degrees to fall into lukewarmness.

But do Thou arouse, encourage, and stir me up strongly, nor allow me to cease from my labor, until I bring the work to its wished-for completion.

CHAPTER XII. THAT THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF PENANCE IS AN EASY AND EFFECTUAL MEANS OF CLEANSING ONE'S SELF FROM SINS AND VICES

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, My Heart,-----knowing that the frailty of mortals is of such a nature, that, whilst on earth, they cannot live without sin,-----has devised a saving means, whereby, if it is rightly used, they may not only obtain the remission of their sins, but also receive an increase
of grace.

God is faithful, and, according to His word, He forgives their sins to those that confess them; and He gives grace to those that pray for it, and seek to live better. (1 John i. 9, and v. 14.)

What would become of most men, if there were no Confession? How few should be saved! And how many of those who now rejoice in Heaven, or shall possess it hereafter, should be lost!

2. Therefore have I given power to the Church. that whose sins she shall forgive, they be forgiven them; and whose sins she shall retain, they be retained. (Matt. xviii. John, xx.)

"If, then, either hatred, or infidelity, or any other sin, have secretly crept into the heart of anyone, let him not be ashamed to confess the same, to him that presides, that, through the word of God, and through wholesome advice, he may be healed by him." (St. Clement of Rome. I. Century.)

"But, if thou wouldst withdraw thyself from Confession, meditate in thy heart on Hell, which Confession will extinguish for thee. Therefore, knowing that against Hell, after that first safeguard of Baptism, there remains still this second help in Confession, why dost thou abandon thy salvation? Represent first to thyself the greatness of the punishment, and thou wilt not hesitate to take the remedy." (Tertullian. II. Cent.)

"For there is a remission of sins, although a toilsome one, through Penance, when the sinner moistens his couch with his tears, and when he is not ashamed to make known his sins to the priest of God, and to seek a remedy." (Origen. III. Cent.)

"This remedy of Confession is eagerly to be desired by all, since the soul is harassed by greater danger than the body; and the healing for hidden diseases must be applied as soon as possible." (Lactantius. IV. Cent.)

"Confess, then: let all corrupted matter come out, and flow off in Confession: what remains, shall be easily healed. Dost thou fear to confess, when, by not confessing, thou canst not remain concealed? God, who knows all things, requires Confession, that He may free the humble: for this He condemns him that does not confess, that He may punish the proud." (St. Augustine. V. Cent.)

"But confess thou, in such a manner, that thou do not again turn to thy sins: for then is the Confession of sin profitable, when the sinner, who confesses, does no more, what he had wickedly done." (St. Fulgentius. VI. Cent.)

"Man ought to abstain from sin, when he has confessed: Confession goes before, remission follows." (St. Isidore. VII. Cent.)

For "the Church, which is founded on Christ, has received from Him the power of freeing men from their sins." (Ven. Bede. VIII. Cent.)

"If sinners are unwilling to confess their sins, God Himself, Who is now their witness, shall also be their avenger." (Haymo. IX. Cent.)

"Sins should not be repeated publicly: it is sufficient to make known, to the priests alone, by a private confession, the faults of conscience." (Luitprand. X. Cent.)

"Therefore, reason moves, and God impels the sinner to confess." (St. Peter Damian, XI. Cent.)

"Confession is necessary to the sinner; and is no less proper for the just." (St. Bernard. XII. Cent.)

"Confession should be made, in a threefold manner: without palliating, without excusing, without delaying." (St. Bonaventure. XIII. Cent.)

"Let the penitent, therefore, accuse himself before the priest, with a lively feeling of sorrow, with a firm purpose of amendment, and let him perform the works which may be enjoined." (Thauler.
XIV. Cent.)

"Penance is a Sacrament, the matter of which consists in the acts of the penitent, which are divided into three parts. The first is contrition of heart: the second is the oral Confession: the third, satisfaction." (Council of Florence. XIV. Cent.)

Behold, Child, how, from the beginning, the faithful of all times, and of all parts of the world, have regarded and esteemed this sweet and saving Sacrament.

3. What can be more advantageous than rightly to confess? Through Confession, man is freed from faults, he returns into favor with Me, he receives peace of heart; so that he who before felt himself tortured, with anguish now finds himself calm and happy.

The Sacrament of Penance is the medicine of the soul whereby vices are healed, temptations put to flight, the snares of the devil destroyed, new grace is imparted, piety increased, virtue rendered more and more solid.

Through Confession, the soul regains her rights, which she had lost by committing sin; and recovers her beauty, which unrighteousness had disfigured.

4. But it sometimes happens that the sinner, when he approaches this Sacrament of Divine mercy, impelled either by shame or fear, throws himself into the abyss of sacrilege; so that now he is not simply a sinner, but becomes a frightful monster of sin.

Art thou able, wretched man, to hide thyself from Me? Art thou able to hinder Me from thrusting thee down into that lowest depth, which thou thyself hast dug?

Dost thou sacrilegiously conceal thy sins from a Confessor, who, by the strictest laws, human and Divine, is bound to an everlasting and complete secrecy? I will make them known before thy face, not to one man alone, not to one nation, but to Heaven and Earth, to all that shall ever have existed.

Then, in the excess of thy confusion, thou wilt call upon the mountains, that, covering thee, they may screen thee from shame; yea, thou wilt wish to hide thyself in Hell; but thou shalt not be able: thou shalt stand and undergo, publicly, thy whole confusion and deserved ignominy.

Foolish man! thou wast not ashamed to sin to thy disgrace and perdition; why dost thou blush to confess for thy salvation and glory?

But, consider: why shouldst thou hesitate to unfold thy conscience before him who is appointed by Me, and holds My place in thy regard?

When thou presentest thyself, as a penitent, before him, thou oughtest, indeed, to look upon the Confessor even as upon Myself; for he verily represents Me, and possesses My power.
 
Yet, he also is a man, and has his own miseries; and he, too, as well as thyself, is obliged to make Confession: which is all the harder for him, as, by reason of his elevated condition, he ought to be more perfect.

Thus has it been ordained from Heaven in a most wise and holy manner, that all-----priests no less than laymen----who desire to be freed from grievous sin, should be obliged to confess: and that it be especially proper that the priests, whose sacred employments demand a greater holiness, should cleanse themselves, by frequent Confession, even from slighter trespasses.

Hence, laymen confess, with greater freedom and confidence, to the priests; and priests learn, by experience, to feel compassion for their miseries, to be weak with them that are weak, and to weep with them that weep.

5. But there are those that confess their sins candidly enough, and yet are not improved. And why? Because they do not strive with a sincere heart to correct themselves.

Some approach the Sacrament of Penance from necessity, others through human respect, others again from a certain custom. Why wonder, then, if they that approach in this manner derive from it but little or no fruit?

Do, thou, My Child,----having ever thy own salvation and My good pleasure before thy eyes,----make each Confession, as if it were to be the last of thy life: thus wilt thou experience sweet and wonderful effects.

6. Yet, know thyself, My Child, and learn, that thou shalt often be tempted to do again those things, over which thou hadst wept, and which thou hadst resolved to shun.

Do not, on that account, lose courage, Child, nor be thou saddened overmuch. These will be the effects, not of malice, but of frailty; being involuntary, rather than deliberate transgressions.

Thence, learn thou the goodness of My Heart, ever ready to pardon thee; and, in like manner, the pitiful condition of thy heart, which is ever inclined to evil, and frequently betrays thee.

Beware, however, lest, on account of this thy great frailty, thou neglect Confession: but the weaker thou feelest thyself, the more frequently have thou recourse to it.

7. Some hold Confession in dread, and do not approach it without trembling.

Behold, the greatest sinners, as well as the greatest Saints, find consolation therein: and art thou tormented with anxiety!

There the dead return to life and the living live more fully. Why, then, tremblest thou, as if thou wert going to death, or to the rack?

Thou errest, my Child, thou errest; this most wholesome Sacrament was not instituted for torturing, but for solacing the heart.

8. Cast aside, therefore, all uneasiness and anxiety. I am not a God of agitation, but of peace; I find My delight, not in the commotion, but in the good will of the soul.

Do what thou canst, and confess with as sincere a heart, as thou art able to do: after that, remain
in peace, nor be thou disturbed by the suggestions of the enemy, or of thy own imagination. My Heart is the place of refuge for sinners. As often as anyone flies hither with a contrite and humble heart, I will neither cast him off, nor will I despise him.

Do, then, frequently resort to that Divine bath, wherein My Heart will wash thy soul with My Blood, and wash her yet more, until she be wholly pure and stainless. +

9. The voice of the Disciple.-----O most benign Jesus, how wholesome, how consoling a device of Thy Heart, is the Sacrament of Penance! How astonishing a condescension, how wonderful a sweetness, that of the Blood of Thy Heart Thou makest a bath, wherewith Thou mayst cleanse us from our
sins!

Had not Thy Heart found out this secret, so full of all consolation, who could have thought of it? And hadst Thou not made it known, what should have become of us, what of me?

Thanks to Thee, most sweet Jesus! let the Angels, and all the Blessed, let all peoples and tongues, return thanks to Thee, for that Thou didst institute this life-giving, this sanctifying Sacrament, whereby the guilty dwellers of earth are saved, and Heaven is filled with a multitude of Saints.

That, therefore, I may not misuse so great a blessing, and that I may gather from it every desirable fruit; behold, I will confess not only frequently, but also carefully: as if preparing myself for death, I will always, before making my Confession, elicit from my heart an act of true sorrow, and of firm resolve, peacefully indeed, but with the greatest sincerity as well: I will lay every fault before my Confessor, with the same candor that I would use before Thee, were I to behold Thee with my eyes: at the earliest opportunity I will perform the penance enjoined: lastly, I will strive to be grateful, and to live with a new fervor, and a purer heart.

O Jesus! what consolation, what sweetness is felt, when my soul, in this Sacrament of Thy mercy, is washed and cleansed by the most sacred and pure Blood of Thy Heart: O do Thou wash me frequently, I beseech Thee, and I shall be made wholly clean: wash me yet more, and I shall be made whiter than snow!
 
+ This may be explained by a truly wonderful and consoling fact, related in the life of St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi. When, on a certain day,----in the Church of her Convent, where Confessions were being heard,----this holy Virgin was pouring forth her heart before our Lord, present in the Tabernacle, and whilst she was rapt up by Divine communications, she perceived that the spiritual world became, in some manner, unveiled before her. For she saw the souls, such as they were, of each one of the penitents, whilst they were confessing. And, at the moment when the Sacramental absolution was given, she beheld the Divine Blood of Jesus mystically poured upon each of them, and washing them, so that they became exceedingly pure and fair. Now, if such be the effect of one Confession, what must be the effect of frequent Confession? If the soul becomes so pure, so beautiful, when washed only once in the Blood of the Heart of Jesus,----which is applied to us in the Sacrament of Penance; how pure, how beautiful must she become, when she is thus cleansed frequently! Brown and soiled linen is not only made clean by frequent washing, but is made as white as snow. Shall not then a soul, often washed in the Divine Blood of Jesus, become, at last, perfectly pure and unutterably beautiful? This most pious thought may, at least, serve to increase your love for the holy Sacrament of Penance; and whilst you receive it actually, ought sweetly to occupy your mind, and greatly to console you.


CHAPTER XIII. THAT FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF OUR SINS WE MUST FIRMLY RELY UPON OUR LORD, AFTER WE HAVE SINCERELY DONE WHAT WAS MORALLY IN OUR POWER

1. The voice of Jesus.-----As I live, I desire not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live.

If the sinner do penance for all the sins which he has committed, and keep all My commands, living, he shall live, and not die.

The ungodliness of the ungodly shall not hurt him, in whatever day he shall turn away from his ungodliness: the sins which he has sinned shall not be imputed to him.

Why, then, art thou troubled, My Child, or why fearest thou so immoderately? Am I like a man, that I should lie or change? Did I say it, and shall I not do it? Did I promise, and shall I not make it good? Did I swear, and shall I not keep My word?

Why dost thou doubt, O man of little faith? Amen: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.

2. Behold, God, My heavenly Father, Who, for thy salvation, did not spare His only Son, but delivered Him up for thee, no less than for the rest; did He not give thee, together with Him, all other things, pardon, perseverance, Paradise, every blessing? Through Me, therefore, the only-begotten Son of God, thou art become rich in all things, so that thou canst be wanting in no grace. For, where sin abounded, there grace did more abound.

Go then, with confidence, to the throne of grace, that thou mayst obtain those things that are needful to thee.

3. My Child, I came down from Heaven, that I might snatch thee from the jaws of Hell: all the days of My life, I was in suffering, that thou mightst be happy through all eternity; I was willingly condemned to die, that thou mightst be free from everlasting death: and all these things I did for thee, when thou wast My enemy; what, then, will I not do, or what can I refuse, when thou lovest Me?

If thy sins affrighten thee, know, My Child, that My infinite merits are infinitely more powerful to save thee, if thou art willing, than thy sins to destroy thee, if thou art uneasy.

If, by reason of thy sins, thou standest in dread of My judgment, call to mind, that, I thy Saviour, who, even at the right hand of God, My Father, intercedes for thee, shall be thy Judge.

4. Enlarge, therefore, thy heart in the Holy Spirit, Whom thou didst receive in the Sacrament of Divine mercy. That Spirit of love, that consuming fire, will destroy the remnant of thy sins, and cast out all inordinate fear.

Hadst thou been an exceedingly great sinner, like the thief crucified with Me; hadst thou, like Paul, persecuted Me; hadst thou even denied Me, like Peter: behold, if once thou confessest rightly, so as to enjoy the effect of the Sacrament, all thy sins are forgiven thee.

5, Why art thou sad, My Child, and why dost thou disquiet thyself? Thinkest thou that I am a harsh master, Whom it is difficult to satisfy?

Thou art mistaken, Child; thou art greatly deceived. For, behold, am I not a Father, Whose Heart is goodness itself? Dost thou not know this? Hast thou not experienced it?

Do not then dishonor Me; do not revile Me, by attributing to Me things which are so wrongful.

6. My Child, thou hast not received the spirit of bondage again in fear: but thou hast received the spirit of adoption of the sons of God, whereby thou mayst love and address Me: Abba, Father!

Do not, then, fear, Child; do not, by worrying thyself uselessly, lose the time which thou oughtest to spend happily in loving Me. For I do not require anguish, but love.

Have confidence, My Child, that thy sins have been forgiven thee. Do now strive to love Me the more, the more I have forgiven thee.

7. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Jesus! O my love! my life! How delightful to me, how sweet are the words thou utterest from Thy Heart!

O Lord, my God! Thou didst wash not my feet, not my hands, not my head alone, but my soul, my whole self, and that with Thy Own Blood.

Behold, Thou didst cast my sins into the depth of a sea, into the abyss of the mercy of Thy Heart, where they have disappeared from Thy sight.

O Jesus! how can I ever be unmindful of Thy mercies, whereby Thou hast thus restored me to life!

I will sing Thy mercies, O Lord, forever: I will praise the goodness of Thy heart for evermore.

8. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within me bless His Sacred Heart. Yea, bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all He has done for thee. Who forgives all thy iniquities: Who heals all thy diseases.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins nor has He rewarded us according to our iniquities: but He has blotted them out according to the multitude of the mercies of His Heart.

As a father has pity on his children, so has the Lord had pity on us; because He is good, because His mercy endures forever.

9. Love the Lord, O my soul, love Jesus, love Him much; because He has forgiven thee much.

Let them love less to whom He has forgiven less: but do thou, by the greatness of thy love, strive to make a suitable return for the greatness of His bounty.

Yea, O most sweet Jesus, I will love Thee with all my strength: nor will I henceforward pass my time in vexing my heart, Thy kingdom now; but I will employ it better, more usefully to me, more pleasingly to Thee: Thy love shall ever be my occupation. In peace in the self-same, will I take my rest and repose.

CHAPTER XIV. HOW  WE MUST GUARD AGAINST A RELAPSE

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, hast thou fallen into sin? Do not again give thyself up to it; but so guard against the future as not to return to the past.

When the demon has been expelled from a heart, he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and, returning, attempts to enter again. If man does not resist, the enemies enter, and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.

If, therefore, thou desire not to become the prey of Hell, thou must, by all means, resist the temptations of the devil.

Do not be afflicted nor sad, My Child, because thou art assailed, against thy will, by various temptations; be rather rejoiced and consoled. For it is a sign that thou art in the state of grace, and that thou followest My standard.

If thou didst adhere to the devil, he would surely not attack what is his own; but because thou standest by Me, therefore does he tempt thee, and endeavor to draw thee over to his ranks.

2. My Child, temptation is not prevarication; yea, so long as it is displeasing to thee, it is meritorious of a Divine reward.

Therefore, however loathsome the things which the enemy may suggest, be not uneasy; however violently he may entice thee to evil, think not that thou art forsaken by Me.

Never am I nearer to thee, or more ready to help thee, than when thou sufferest under these trials.

When thou art tempted, Child, I stand by, looking on the struggle, and helping thee, that, being thus encouraged and aided, thou mayst not only withstand the foe, but gloriously triumph over him.

Be, therefore, ready for the combat: no one shall be crowned, unless he has struggled lawfully; and he that shall overcome shall receive the crown of life.

3. As thou dwellest among enemies to the right and to the left, and art exposed to their assaults from within and from without; thou oughtest to be so well armed at all times that they can never find thee defenseless.

Have thy heart lifted up and united to Mine, with a determined and generous resolve, to endure all things, yea, even to die in the struggle, rather than turn thy back upon Me. Otherwise thou shalt not be able fully to withstand the stubbornness of the contest.

4. In this warfare, two kinds of weapons are necessary to thee: the one, defensive, the other, offensive.

Humility will furnish thee weapons to defend thyself. By means of this virtue, place no reliance upon thyself, put all thy trust in Me: and, being convinced of thy own frailty, shun, as much as thou art able, all dangerous occasions.

For it were an inexcusable, and most shameful presumption, to seek them, or to go to meet them, especially if they are of the flesh.

5. If, nevertheless, the foe assails, call upon Me; rely upon My help, confidingly and lovingly.

He that prays amid temptation, as he ought, cannot be overcome; but he that neglects prayer, is usually vanquished.

Resist generously from the very beginning of the temptation, and pray fervently in this, or a similar manner: O, Jesus! hide me within Thy Heart, that I may not be separated from Thee . . . O, God! my God! come to my assistance . . . Jesus and Mary! make haste to help me . . . I will rather die, O Lord, than commit sin.

If the enemy continue to tempt, faithfully withdraw thy mind from the object of the temptation; and, having earnestly turned it to other things, either good or indifferent, persevere in prayer, persevere in thus resisting, not with anxiety or impatience, but calmly and steadily: and the foe shall either flee away, or stand abashed.
 
6. Let it not be enough for thee to repulse Satan; strive, also, to injure him. This thou canst do, if, by means of the weapons which Divine love will furnish thee, thou turn the temptations of the enemy against himself.

As often, therefore, as the demon tempts thee, so often use temptation against his aim and object, that thou mayst unite thyself more closely with Me; glorify Me by thy faithfulness, and acquire for thyself greater strength and merit.

So it shall come to pass, that thy adversary, frightened by his defeat, either dares not return, or, if he dares, will secure for thee a more signal victory and a brighter crown.

7. But, if ever thou be so unfortunate as to fall, arise without delay; fight with more humility and courage; and beware, above all, lest thou surrender and make thyself a slave to the foe.

Many have been lost, because, after having fought bravely,-----when they were on the point of gaining the victory,-----cast down by the troublesomeness of the temptation, they surrendered disgracefully, and perished miserably.

Up then, My Child; the struggle is short, but the prize everlasting.

Be magnanimous: courage is a great part of the victory. It prepares thee for grace; it raises the heart, increases strength, moderates labor, frightens and weakens the enemy.

For Me, thy God and Saviour, for thy salvation, for an everlasting crown, for the very Kingdom of Heaven, fight thou bravely, and display a sight worthy of God, of the Angels, and of men.

8. The voice of the Disciple.-----Thanks to Thee, most benign Jesus, Who thus teachest my hands to fight and my fingers to war.

Behold, Thou also cheerest up my heart, and givest me courage, so that I am ready to put forth my strength, and to act valiantly.

But I know and confess that of myself I am weak and cowardly: if I am left to myself alone. if I rely upon myself alone, what can be looked for, except that I shall shamefully fall away from Thee and perish ignobly?

Give me grace, I entreat Thee, that I may not presume on myself; that, of my own accord, I may not expose myself; but that I may, with prudence, shun every occasion of falling, and, by watchfulness, escape all the snares of my foes.

And at what time Thou shalt see me attacked by the enemy, or engaged with him, do Thou arise, I beseech Thee, hasten to my assistance; because Thou, O Lord, art my strength.

Be thou near me, I pray, set me beside Thee, and let any man's hand fight against me; with Thee I will conquer, with Thee I will triumph.

CHAPTER XV. HOW THE ROOTS OF VICES AND DEFECTS ARE TO BE WHOLLY PLUCKED UP

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, to obtain perfect purity of heart, it is not enough to cherish a good will, to meditate and pray frequently, to confess often and devoutly. These means are very efficient and necessary, and therefore never to be omitted, nor neglected.

But, alone, they do not suffice; since they are not wont to pluck up completely the roots of vices and defects.

It is necessary, then, to use besides another means, whereby thou mayst, so to speak, exterminate the noxious roots, and thus render thy heart perfectly clean.

These sweet and wholesome effects are produced, in a marvelous manner, by self-examination, an exercise apparently trifling indeed, and a small matter but in itself very efficient, and more deeply penetrating than any two-edged instrument,-----reaching even to the dividing of the soul and the discerning of spirits, and searching into thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Nor does it serve merely to root out evil habits and defects; but, what is more wonderful, to acquire solid virtues, and even to attain to perfection.

2. This self-examination is threefold. The first, which is used to collect one's self, consists in this, that, when an opportunity offers, thou turn to thy heart, and inspect it for a short time, observing whence it is moved, with what things it busies itself; or what it has done, and in what manner; what it should do in future, and how.

Opportunities of performing a very short self-examination of this sort, are wont to present themselves frequently. When, for example, thou beginnest any of the more important actions of the day; and when thou hast performed them.

When something is presented to thy senses, or to thy mind, by which thou mayst be allured, or tempted; also, when thou hast fallen into some defect. When thou meetest with any difficulty which may occasion trouble, or disturb thee: lastly, as often as, during some length of time, thou hast not looked into thy heart.

Now, this can easily be done, at any time, and in any place, even whilst others are present, and without attracting their attention.

In the exercise itself, there is no difficulty whatever. At first, indeed, some attention should be used, but no straining of the mind; and, in a short time, thou shalt begin to acquire a holy and consoling habit, and gather from it the sweetest and most wholesome fruits.

3. The second is a general examination, by which, twice, or at least once, every day, thou devotest a short time, some minutes, exclusively to asking of thyself an account of thy way of living.

Having briefly returned thanks to God, and begged for Divine light, inspect and scrutinize, how, since thou didst last examine thyself, thou hast deported thyself, in thy exterior and interior.

Examine thy thoughts, words, and deeds: see wherein thou hast sinned, or failed: then, carefully mark each sin, or defect, at least mentally.

If thou hast already practically learnt something of the interior life, place thy heart near to Mine, compare, and notice the difference between the thoughts, sensations, and actions of both.

After thou hast, in this manner, discovered thy faults and failings, then see and acknowledge thy unthankfulness for My Divine favors; form an act of sorrow, as perfect as possible, beg for grace to amend thyself, and to make better progress.

4. Lastly, the particular examination is that, by means of which thou exertest thyself, to root out, separately, only one vice or defect at a time.

Most wonderful is the power, and incredible the efficacy, of this exercise. Would that thou didst understand it well, My Child, and that thou didst perform it in a proper manner!

There is no habit so deep-rooted, no vice so great, which, by this means, cannot be overcome and subdued.

For, with God's grace, it can, in some manner, do all things. How many sinners have, by its means, been freed from vices, which had grown on them like a second nature! How many souls has it  enabled to cleanse themselves thoroughly! How many has it helped to reach perfection!

Whatever defects, then, thou mayst have, be of good cheer, My Child: sure art thou of victory: sure of future freedom, if thou use this means diligently and perseveringly.

Attack, first, that vice or defect which may be a stumbling-block, or a just cause of offense, to thy neighbor; afterwards, the one which seems to be thy chief fault. When the leader is overthrown, the rest are easily overcome.

5. Now, thy method of proceeding shall be this: In the morning, resolve firmly and considerately, that, during the day, thou wilt shun what thou mayst have chosen to he avoided in a particular manner; at the same time, beg for grace, that thou mayst be faithful to thy resolution.

Then, twice, or only once a day, according as thou makest the general self-examination, thou shalt also search thyself and see how often, since the last scrutiny, thou hast failed in thy special resolve; and mark the number of times.

Afterwards, grieve not only for thy faults in general, but also for these defects in particular: and resolve again to be specially on thy guard against them, and for this end implore also special grace.

Meanwhile, My Child, it will help thee very much, if, when thou perceivest thyself growing, in some way, indifferent or careless, thou inflict upon thyself some small punishment; and this as often as thou offendest against thy particular examination.

6. But that thou mayst use rightly and constantly these and other means, thou needest a guide to direct, to teach, to fashion thee; to keep thee in. or stir thee up, and cheer thee on at all times.

No one, when left to himself, can walk with safety in the path of the spiritual and interior life; for, oftentimes, he will be exposed to the danger of going astray, of losing heart, of falling into the snares of the foe; nay more, of perishing.

Wert thou a Saint, or a chosen Apostle, thou yet wouldst need some guide. Was not Paul, although a Vessel of election to carry My name among the nations, at My command, instructed and directed by Ananias? Were not the Saints trained to holiness, by others that led a holy life?

Pray, therefore, My Child, that thou mayst be worthy to find a guide according to My Heart, either in thy Confessor, thy Superior, or some other person, who possesses authority, skill and experience in spiritual matters, and a practical knowledge of the interior life.

To such a one, My Child, do thou occasionally make known thy heart: at certain times give some account of thyself, that thou mayst know whether thou advancest rightly; what thou must correct, and how it is to be done; on what thou oughtest to insist, and in what manner it is to be accomplished.

The subjects, concerning which this interior manifestation should be made, are usually: the disclosing of the soul's state or habitual feeling, whether it be peaceful or agitated; what longings for a more perfect life thou feelest within thyself; what obstacles embarrass thee; to what practices of devotion and mortification thou art wont to apply thyself.

What method thou hast in prayer and meditation; with what relish and fruit thou advancest by this method; what spiritual books thou readest, and whether they agree with the present degree of thy interior life: whether thou readest in a manner proper and profitable.

In what manner thou approachest the Sacraments; with what preparation, with what feelings of piety, with what thanksgiving, with what results.

How thou makest thy self-examinations; with what painstaking, and with what fruit.

How thou performest the duties of thy state of life, the obligations of thy office, thy ordinary actions,-----by what motive or principle, whether of nature or of grace, with what object,-----what end thou hast in view.

In what manner thou deportest thyself towards others, with what disposition of heart, with what profit or loss to thyself and to them.

With what fidelity thou obeyest God's inspirations; how thou feelest disposed towards Me; finally, in what degree thou relishest the sentiments of My Heart.

Do thou, My Child, modestly and religiously, with humble candor and docile charity, make known such and similar matters, sometimes one, then another, according as spiritual necessity or usefulness may require.

All this, if thou perform it after this manner, thou shalt find easy, most useful, and full of consolation.*

7. The voice of the Disciple.-----Lord Jesus, to execute all those things, greatly, indeed, do I need light from above,-----wherewith to discover my defects,-----and Divine assistance, to remove them.

For many of them lie hidden from human eyes nor can I see them myself, neither can anyone point them out to me, unless aided by a supernatural light.

But if, with the brightness of this light, Thou deignest to illumine my inmost soul, behold! all things therein, great and small, shall be unveiled. For even as the sun shining into a chamber reveals the very atoms that fill its every space, so Thy grace gleaming on my heart, shall bring to view numberless defects, the existence of which I did nowise suspect.

But what shall it avail me to know my defects, if I cannot uproot them? Thy help, therefore, is also necessary to me, who, without it, can effect nothing conducive to salvation.

Lord Jesus, by Thy most Sacred Heart, I beg and beseech Thee, grant me uninterruptedly the plentifulness of this two-fold grace, that thereby I may be enlightened and assisted.

Without this grace, no assiduity of mine, no care of a director, however much he may toil, whatever zeal he may exercise, can aught avail.

Thou, therefore, O Jesus, the eternal Wisdom, the infinite Goodness, Thou art the supreme Director: do Thou, I pray, guide me, through him whom Thou mayst will to hold Thy place, and with whom I am willing to act in all things as with Thyself.

* Purity of heart, being of the greatest importance, it is thought proper to bring together, in this place, the means to attain it, although they have been given separately. The first is a settled and constant determination of always trying to improve. The second, stated and repeated mental and vocal prayer. The third, the pious and frequent use of the Sacraments. The fourth, the faithful practice of the three-fold self-examination, especially of the particular examination. The fifth, the candid disclosing of our interior life; and, on the other hand, a holy guidance. Whoever makes a right use of these means, will doubtless attain to as great a purity of heart, as the Lord is ordinarily wont to require. But if He require something extraordinary, He Himself will provide the means; for no one is able to make provision under such circumstances. Yet, as things are wont to be preserved by the same means that produced them, you shall preserve interior purity, by the same means that have been pointed out to attain it. These then are, "the five loaves of the show-bread, which must be ever new and fresh before the Lord." Wherefore, these means are always to be used with the same care. And, lest you grow lukewarm by degrees, either through frailty or carelessness. examine yourself from time to time, and make known how you use them; and if you have in any wise fallen off, do as quickly as possible to strive to regain your former fervor. As long as you shall employ these means, even with ordinary diligence, you shall have within yourself the consoling sign, that you are on the right road, which leads to perfection.

 CHAPTER XVI. THAT HE WHO DESIRES TO FOLLOW THE HEART OF JESUS, MUST ALSO
WITHDRAW HIS HEART FROM THE WORLD

1. The voice of Jesus.-----Woe to the world, My Child: woe to the heart that clings to its allurements and its vanities!

It is not enough to cast Satan out of thy heart, thou must also expel the world. If thou inwardly cherish the world, whatever else thou mayst do wholly to amend thyself, shall avail thee little.

For the world will continue to infect thy heart, will doubtless pervert, and finally betray thee into the power of the demon.

2. What is the world, except an inordinate or perverse love of pleasure, riches, honors; whereby its votaries are themselves corrupted and corrupt others?

If thou desirest to know what thou oughtest to think of the world, consider what I Myself have judged of it.

Behold! I passed through life doing good to all; I loved the enemies that persecuted Me; when fastened to the Cross, I prayed for those that crucified me; but for the world I prayed not.

The world is of the devil, is wholly placed in wickedness, and cannot possess My Spirit: even as falsehood cannot be truth, as corruption cannot be purity.

3. The world is itself a proof, not only of the undeniable existence-----but even of the necessity of a Hell.

What can there be in common between the world and My Heart, since the world, either openly or secretly, favors every vice; whilst My Heart breathes naught, except what is holy?

The world in league with Satan, its prince, seeks for souls to destroy them forever; My Heart longs to save them all.

Thou canst, therefore, not serve the world and Me: for, if thou art the friend of the world, thou becomest the enemy of My Heart.

4. If thou art a votary of the world, thou wilt perish with the world: but if thou followest My Heart, thou wilt go into life everlasting.

If thou drivest the world, and the maxims of the world, from thy heart, so as to offer it wholly to Me, the offering will be pleasing and honorable to Me, and full of glory and merit to thyself. The Angels and the Saints will applaud the deed, and the world itself shall be compelled to admire the lofty heroism of thy mind.

Blessed is he, My Child, who withdraws his affections from the things of the world, and consecrates them to Me alone!

5. What findest thou in the world, on account of which thou wouldst love it? Behold! all that is in the world, is the desire of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And the end of all these is death and Hell.

If, then, thou lovest the world, or the things which are of the world, thou takest into thy embrace everlasting perdition.

What good has the world done to thee, that thou wouldst devote thy affections to it? It has done, and never will do thee aught but evil. How, then, canst thou give thy heart to it?

Trust not, My Child, to the smiles and blandishments of the world; they show only a covert desire to deceive and destroy thee.

But hearken to the invitings of My Heart, that longs to save thee from the everlasting misfortunes, which the world is preparing for thee.

6. If thou dost not forsake the world, the world will forsake thee, when thou art spent and worn out in its service; yea, it will laugh and mock at thy destruction; and, when thou standest most in need of help, thou shalt be alone and powerless.

Think frequently, which of the two, when thou art about to go into eternity, thou shalt rather wish to have followed, the world or Me.

Do freely, therefore, and meritoriously now, what without merit, thou shalt be forced to do then.

Apply thyself to draw thy heart from the love of earthly things; and, by a complete disengagement from it, to triumph over the world.

Have confidence, My Child, I have overcome the world: if thou art willing. thou also canst vanquish it. So soon as thou shalt have conquered, I will give thee a most delightful place in My Heart.

5. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord, how foolishly have I acted! how wickedly have I lived! A willing dupe, I have been misled by the false appearances of pleasure, of riches, of honor; I have forsaken Thee, to make myself a slave of the world, Thy enemy.

I have left the fountain of every good, to go down to the pestilential pool of the world. There made I myself drunk with poisonous draughts; I grew senseless, and, in my madness, I cast aside everything.

I became forgetful of Thee, my God and my all; I gave myself wholly to the world; and in its service, I unhallowed Thy gifts, my external senses, and the inward powers of my soul.

Alas! I became exceedingly guilty: my soul was filled with iniquity: I drew myself nigh to Hell.

Thy wrath came upon me, and Thy terrors troubled me, so that night and day I was wretched.

8. Alas! good Jesus! even after-----seized with a great dread of Thy judgment and fear of Hell-----I had resolved to lead a good life, into what fatal illusion did I fall! how banefully did I go astray!

I divided my heart between Thee and the world: I wished, at one and the same time, to serve Thee and the world.

O! how great an insult did I offer to Thee, when I placed Thee on an equality with the world! I pleased neither the world nor Thee: and, meanwhile, I was most wretched, because, not being satisfied with the world, nor with Thee, I found true happiness in neither.

But now that Thou didst open my eyes, and move my heart, behold! O Lord Jesus, I will serve Thee alone: I give my whole heart to Thee forever.

Take out of my heart, I beseech Thee, all affection for the world: change for me all its apparent sweets into real bitterness.

So fill me with the delight of Thy love, that the world, with all its vanities, become tasteless to me.

CHAPTER XVII. HOW DECEITFUL THE WORLD IS

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, the whole world is made up of deceits, and by its arts and wiles, it allures to itself the unwary.

It holds out to man pleasures, honors, and riches; and says, all these things will I give to thee, if thou serve me.

But attend thou, not to what it promises, but to what it gives.

Through the deceitful hope of pleasant things, it brings its votaries beneath the cruel tyranny of the passions, and thence leads them to the ceaseless tortures of the stings of conscience.

Didst thou ever find a worldling, even the most fortunate, whose heart was every way satisfied?

 Neither shalt thou find such a one, even if thou searchest the whole earth.

The world, indeed, promises good things; but, in reality, it bestows true evils only; because what it gives, makes man wicked, and hinders him, by no means, from being truly unhappy.

2. The voice of the Disciple.-----Yet, O Lord, worldlings frequently obtain possession of those things which they covet; and, therefore, they care little for the spiritual distresses of the heart.

The voice of Jesus.-----Even so, My Child: grant that they abound in whatever things they may lust after in this world; as they possess them with an inordinate affection, and misuse them, they enjoy them not, except for their present and future unhappiness.

Besides, they appear, indeed, not to care for the interior tortures of the soul; but, My Child, if thou couldst look, as I do, into their hearts, thou shouldst see how many things they suffer within, which they endeavor to hide outwardly, and thou wouldst conclude that the happiness of man consists, not in having an abundance of the things of this world, but rather herein, that he keeps his heart free from every worldly object, and calmly and permanently satisfied in Me.

Moreover, how long shall these things of worldlings last? Behold! yet a little while, and eternity shall summon them to appear. What then shall the plentifulness of delights and other things avail them? They shall leave the world, taking with them nothing, except the load of their sins.

Wouldst thou, then, be willing, for the misuse of the things of time, to lose the use of those of eternity? or, for the false possessions of earth, to forfeit the true riches of Heaven?

3. My Child, if thou cleavest to the world, thou ceasest, in fact, to be a Christian, and thou foregoest the possession of all the privileges which belong to that noble name.

For, at thy new birth, in the waters of Baptism, thou didst, by a solemn promise made before Heaven and earth, renounce the world and its wickedness; nor would I, without that promise, have adopted thee as My Child.

If, after this, thou goest again over to the party of the world, thou art not only faithless, but even worse than the heathen, who made no such promise. For it is better not to promise than not to make good what is promised.

4. Ask the departed, what they think of the world. The Elect will answer, that their happiness began from the time they learnt to despise the things of earth: and the reprobate will reply, that they were deceived and ruined by the world.

Thyself, My Child, shalt, one day, think and experience concerning the world, the one or the other of these things.

Be timely wise, My Child, lest hereafter thou feel sorrow to no purpose: follow the footprints of the Saints, by withdrawing thy heart from the world, and keeping thy affections from its contagion.

5. Use the things of this world, as if thou didst not use them; and, whilst thou treadest the earth with thy foot, have thy heart in Heaven.

The more thou shalt withdraw thyself from creatures, the nearer shalt thou come to the Creator; and the more proper shalt thou be to receive Divine gifts.

If thy heart be wholly disengaged from the world, so far from being hurtful to thee, the world itself will be, in many ways, subservient to thy interests.

O, how base the whole world would grow in thy sight, if thou didst truly consider, what awaits thee in eternity!

6. The voice of the Disciple.-----Truly O Lord, the world is a deceiver. Such have I experienced it to be, to my own loss.

When it offered me its own favors, madman that I was, I believed that thereby I should be happy.

But Oh! how greatly was I deceived! how truly wretched was I, even when, giddy with worldly love, I fancied myself most happy!

The animal man within me made me imagine that I was happy, whilst I was feeding on the husks, which the world threw before me: and in spite of myself, I groaned full often beneath the degradation of my slavery, beneath the burden of my heart's misery.

I fully acknowledge now, that I was myself the author of my own unhappiness; and that I can, with justice, blame no one except myself.

Because I was unwilling to serve Thee with joy and gladness of heart, amid the abundance of all things, I became a slave to Thy enemy and to mine,-----served him in hunger, and thirst, and every want, in so far even, that I delighted to fill myself with the food of the vilest animals.

7. Would, O Lord, that I could blot out from the number of my years, those during which, estranged from Thee, I served the world!

What fruit do I now reap from them, except bitterness, stings of conscience, anguish of heart, sins to be atoned for, either in this life by sorrow, or to be bewailed in vain in the next?

Be gracious to me, O my Saviour! and forgive me all my offenses, which I committed by following the world, and which I now detest from my innermost heart.

Suffer no more, I entreat Thee, that my heart cling again to aught-----even the least object-----of this wicked world: withdraw it wholly, with all its affections, from the false tinseling of earth, which contains naught except deceit, emptiness, and affliction of heart.

CHAPTER XVIII. THAT TO SERVE THE WORLD IS A CRUEL SLAVERY

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, he that loves to serve the world, knows not the world.

The world is a true tyrant: and wretched slaves are they that serve it.

How many things,-----what sacrifices does it not exact from its votaries, whom, for all their services; it repays with unceasing evils!

It demands, that its slaves become the base tools of their passions; that they sacrifice body and soul; that they damn themselves without complaint.

And when it has completed their destruction, it forsakes them as useless wretches, fit only for hell-fire.

2. Oh! at how great a cost do worldlings purchase their own ruin! If they did for Me the half of what they do for the world, how happy should they be, and what Saints!

How cruel is the world's slavery! under it, how many interior sufferings must be undergone! what hardships endured! And all this for the hope of obtaining such things as, when once tasted, cause
death; or such as will produce tortures, either at present, by the irksome possession of them, or after awhile, by a bitter separation.

Truly, it is an iron yoke which presses on the neck of worldlings, the weight of which no one does fully know, unless he either tried it, or considers it as he stands on the threshold of eternity.

3. Whoever desires to be saved must separate his heart from the world.

There are those who, by their mode of life, having outwardly bidden farewell to the world, inwardly captivated by the world, in most things, govern themselves by worldly sentiments.

There are others, whom their condition in life obliges to live exposed to the dangers of the world; who yet have so divested themselves of every affection for the world, that they never defile themselves with aught that is worldly.

It is, therefore, not the kind of life which he leads, nor the shape of the dress which he wears, that connects a man with the world, or estranges him from it; but the affection of the heart, the disposition of the soul.

Wherefore, he that is farthest separated in heart from the world, and most closely united to Me, he is dearest to My Heart, in whatever state of life he may live.

Wherever, then, My Divine Will may have placed thee, there do thou serve Me in holiness. Since, in every state or condition of life, which is good in itself, thou canst live for Me, and sanctify thyself: although it remains true, that a state of life separated from the world, conduces most to secure salvation, and to reach perfection.

4. How many followers of the world there are, who, convinced of the world's wickedness, see the necessity of renouncing it by a change of life; yet, dare not do so, too fearful lest the world may rail at them.

Is this your fortitude, ye friends of the world? Great-souled, forsooth, ye are all, who, through fear of empty talk, dare not do what faith dictates, what reason approves, what your greatest interest demands.

What are words, but sounds passing through the air and disappearing? Can they stir so much as a hair of the head?

5. Shalt thou be so fainthearted, My Child, that, for the sake of such words, thou wouldst draw on thyself ruin in time and in eternity?

Choose, either to serve Me, to be blissful in My service, and to enjoy the enduring delights of Heaven hereafter: or, to serve the world, to lead inwardly a wretched life, and, at last, to undergo torments never-ending.

6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O kind Jesus! how could I falter in my choice? Wretched me! how could I ever choose what was to render me so unhappy!

  O infinite Goodness, O my God! Thou hast freed me from error, and hast taught me the truth.
Behold! now I am wholly Thine forever, O Jesus, my true beatitude!

Away with thee, deceitful world, most wicked seducer, enemy of God, and of my salvation; thou foe of all that is good, thou defender of all that is evil; O thou, the most cruel of all tyrants!

  O world, thou minister of Satan! too late have I known thee: too long have I loved thee. From this hour, farewell to thee, farewell for evermore!


CHAPTER XIX. THAT THE YOKE OF JESUS IS TRULY SWEET

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, take up My yoke upon thee; for My yoke is sweet, and My burden light.

My service, Child, is not that of a tyrant, nor of a harsh master; but of 'a most loving Father, Who is near His children, who are submissive to Him, that He may help and entertain them.

Love is the spirit of My service: and love finds all things easy.

My commands are not heavy; and to those that love, they are exceedingly light and sweet.

Try and taste My Child, how pleasant it is to serve Me; how delightful, to enjoy My sweetness; how good, to gain possession of the very fountain of all good things.

2. If thou seekest delights, thou shalt find the true ones, in My service alone.

All the pleasures of the world, are either empty or pernicious. But My consolations surpass, beyond comparison, all the delights of earth: they ravish hearts by their purity, they satiate them by their truth.

Yea, betimes, they so overwhelm man, that they give him a certain foretaste of those heavenly delights, wherewith the Blessed in Paradise are inebriated.

3. He that serves Me, is not as the slave of the world, who toils to gather for himself treasures on earth, and in the end, finds his hands empty.

But he lays up for himself treasures in Heaven, where neither the rust, nor the moth, can destroy; where thieves cannot dig them up, nor carry away.

All the wealth of earth, compared with the treasures of Heaven, is only dust and nothingness.

4. If thou aimest to be honored, behold! what greater honor can be desired, than to be with Me, to be approved and distinguished by Me?

The glory of the world, wherewith one man deludes the other is false and short-lived:  but the glory of My service is true, and shall endure for ever.

Greater is the least of My servants, than the lord of a kingdom in the world.

5. Was there ever found a man, who, at the hour of death, repented that he had served Me? Yet, at that last moment, how exceedingly do worldlings regret to have been in the service of the world! or if they bewail it not, how much more wretched are they!

Truthful is the saying, My Child, that he, who serves Me faithfully during life, possesses two heavens, the one in time, the other in eternity: and that he, who spends his life in the service of the wicked world, endures two hells, one now, another hereafter.

6. Courage! then, My Child; bend thyself beneath the yoke, which is borne by the Angels in Heaven, and the Elect on earth; and beneath which they enjoy true bliss.

Take it up joyously, and bear it cheerfully. Thou servest the same Lord, that is served by the Blessed in Heaven. Whilst thou imitatest them in their service, imitate them also in their cheerfulness.

Let the slaves of sin, and of the world, be sad: joy and exultation are the portion of My servants.

Serve Me, then, but serve Me with gladness: let thy heart, for joy, cheer up thy countenance; and, by thy holy gaiety, teach the world, what blessedness there is in serving Me.

7. The voice of the Disciple.-----To serve Thee, O most benign Jesus, is truly sweet for me: what
then must it be for those that love Thee! what for those that have centered their heart's affection in
Thee!

If I, who only begin to love, find so great a sweetness in Thee; in what sweetness do they delight, who, fondly devoted to Thee, with a generous heart, have long lived for Thee alone; are admitted into the innermost of Thy Heart, and partake of all Thy bliss most plentifully!

O Jesus, unutterable sweetness! what is man that Thou exaltest him thus? Or the son of man, that Thou settest Thy heart upon Him?

8. Behold! to live for Thee, to comply with Thy Will, is not to serve, but to reign. In Thy service, no one is a servant, everyone is a King, is a Lord: for thou art the King of kings, and the Lord of
lords.

In Thy service, no one is a menial, no one is miserable: each one is noble, each one is fortunate; for Thou art the King of glory; honors and riches abound in Thy house.

In Thy service, no one is wicked; and, therefore, no one is unhappy: but all are good, happy all: for Thou art the King of virtues, the peace and joy of hearts.

Blessed, therefore, are the undefiled, who walk in Thy law! their blessedness is ever-during: for Thy kingdom is the kingdom of all ages.

O most sweet Jesus! what is there for me outside of Thee, or what do I desire upon earth beside Thee? God of my heart, Thou art my life, Thou my blessedness, Thou my portion forever.

CHAPTER XX. THAT, WITHOUT KEEPING ANYTHING FOR OURSELVES,
WE SHOULD GIVE OUR WHOLE HEART TO JESUS

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child,  give Me thy heart.

To release thy heart from sin, and from the world, is not enough: thou must, moreover, disengage it from thyself.

As the complete renouncing of sin renders the friendship of God steadfast, and as the putting away of the world, and its vanities, prepares the soul for the interior life; so, the forsaking of one's self, leads to union with Me.

It is, therefore, necessary to give Me thy whole heart, without reserving aught for thyself, if thou desirest to enjoy that blessedness, than which there is none greater in this life, and by which alone thou canst be truly happy.

2. Thy heart, Child is Mine. For, when it had no being, I created it; when it was lost, I sought and ransomed it; when it lay an easy prey to the enemies, that were going to carry it off, I protected and preserved it. Thus, by giving Me thy heart, thou dost only give Me what is Mine.

But, on how many accounts do I deserve its every affection! What good dost thou possess, in thy body, or in thy soul, whether in the natural or the supernatural order, which thou didst not receive from My Heart?

How many years ago shouldst thou have been burning in Hell if I had either dealt with thee according to thy deserts; or had not preserved thee from sins which deserve Hell and its just punishments!

But it was my love, Child, that dealt with thee in so sweet and wonderful a manner; the love of My Heart, with which I loved thee from eternity, and with which, even till now, I have never ceased to favor thee.

Thy whole life has been a succession of blessings, on My part, uninterrupted and manifold: nor has there been any point of time which was not marked with some new favor.

3. And what, O Child of My love, do I ask of thee in return for all these thousands of favors?

 Surely, whatever I might ask of thee, and whatever thou mightest be able to give, would be far below the greatness and the number of My gifts. Yet, one thing only I demand, thy whole heart; it is enough, if thou give Me that.

Thy heart excepted, I care naught for whatever thou mayst give; because, beyond all else, I long for thy heart.

4. Upon whom canst thou bestow thy heart with more advantage? Thou canst not live without loving, and without giving the affections of thy heart to some object.

Wouldst thou give thy heart to the demon, thy sworn and relentless enemy? Or to the world, the demon's corrupt and corrupting ally? Woe, My Child, a thousand times woe to thee, if thou givest it to either of these!

Art thou desirous of reserving the affections of thy heart for thyself? But, My Child, if thou lovest thyself only, thou shalt find a requital in thyself alone. Now, what is the reward of self-love?

 Behold, self-love digs out a hell, and leads to the same.

Give, then, thy heart to Me, Child: I will fill it with peace, and with gladness, and with bliss.

5. Do not desire to reserve for thyself aught of thy affections: for if thou do this, thou shalt neither be admitted into the secrets of My Heart, nor shalt thou ever be able to taste the sweetness of My love: nay more, thou shalt not be able to keep thyself from the danger of being perverted.
 
Yet it is not unusual for many, even those who wish to be considered good and pious, to keep, through self-love,-----under a specious pretext,-----an affection for some one or other created object.

What is there more frequent? what can be more dangerous? what more baneful?

I wish to possess the whole heart, Child: I am its Lord; I, a jealous God, am its only end, its sole beatitude.

6. Love, then, My Child: it is given thee to love; to love is necessary: for this thy heart was made but love thou what deserves to be loved; love Me; and, if thou cherish aught else besides, love it for love of Me alone.

When beside Me thou wilt love nothing except for love of Me,-----when thou givest entrance into thy heart to nothing except to Me, or for love of Me,-----then, at last, shalt thou possess a heart wholly pure.

Wherefore, My Child, give Me thy whole heart, as a burnt-offering, for an odor of sweetness; nor do thou take it back, not even the least portion of the same: for I hate robbery in a holocaust.

Be ever mindful that, whether in prosperity or in adversity, there can be nowhere a better place for thy heart than with Me.

7. The voice of the Disciple.-----It follows, then, O Lord, that I must also disengage my heart from all self-love, from inordinate affection towards myself; so that I may wholly be filled with Thy love, and may live by Thy Spirit alone.

Alas! my God, here is the labor, here is the difficulty: there exist in my heart so many things ill-regulated, and these I have followed so long, that to live according to them, has become to me, as it were, a second nature.

Hitherto, the natural disposition of my heart, either inclination or aversion, has been almost the sole rule of my life: this I have followed, in my dealings with others, in the undertaking and the execution of my actions: yea, in the very performance of my practices of religion and piety.

Hitherto, with grief I must own it, whatever pleased my natural inclination, I was wont to pursue: whatever displeased it, I abhorred. Hence, I find my labors, for the most part, void: I see that well-nigh all my actions were those of self-love; and that they have given me, in return, the fruits only of self-love.

And, unless Thou, by the light of Thy grace, hadst showed me these things, I might have continued with them, without ever suspecting them. So much was I blinded by self-love.

But, since, by Thy gracious kindness, Thou hast laid open before my eyes these baleful evils lurking in my heart, grant me, I beseech Thee, a special help to remove them altogether.

I entreat Thee, O Lord, suffer naught, which is not Thine, in my heart: if ever anything foreign appear therein, oblige me forthwith to cast it out or do Thou, even against my will, take it thence.

CHAPTER XXI. OF WATCHING OVER OUR HEART

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, with all watchfulness, keep thy heart safe for Me: for from it proceeds either life or death.

The greatest and most pleasing gift thou canst offer, is to present thy whole heart irrevocably to Me; and thou canst have no better, nor more wholesome employment, than, to preserve thy heart faithfully for Me.

In vain dost thou devote thy heart to Me, if thou do not guard it sedulously: for the enemy, even without thy being fully aware of it, will corrupt it and tear it away.
 
2. A man, loose in heart, and given up to outward things, may, indeed, on occasion of some swift-passing fervor, devote his feelings to Me; but soon when this warmth of devotion disappears, he will fall into a worse than his wonted low estate.

A heart not watched over, is rarely self-present, and more rarely still, mindful of Me: hence, in a short time, it becomes unfeeling, and grows hardened against things spiritual.

It lies open to every one, like a public thoroughfare, through which thoughts, temptations, errors of every sort may freely pass.

All its enemies come and go through it; and, in various ways, disturb, defile, and corrupt it.

A man, given to outward things, never seriously gives heed to this; and, shrinking from the very thought of dwelling within himself, or of busying himself with what goes on in his heart, he endeavors to flee from himself, or to turn away his mind.

And thus the evil grows worse; and, from day to day, the condition of his heart becomes more dangerous.

3. If thou art unwilling to be the victim of miseries so great, remove their causes, and the effects will cease.

By calling to mind the Divine presence, by frequent recourse to Me, check thou all levity, and take heed, lest thou be too indulgent to thy ever-changing nature; which always seeks to go abroad, which is prone to vanity, which seeks to show itself everywhere, which studies continually how it may gratify the senses.

Shun things trifling and useless; shut out all outer things, with which it is not needful to busy thyself; accustom thyself to dwell within thyself, and to live interiorly in such a manner, as if thou wast alone with Me in the world.

Study, always and everywhere, to possess thyself and to be self-collected: to this thou mayst attain by grace, by effort, and by practice, so that it will become, as it were, natural to thee.

And, when thou hast acquired it, this self-presence of the mind will bring its own reward. For it is a boundless treasure to man.

4. The self-collected man keeps watch over all the avenues of the heart; Me, his God and Saviour, he entertains within himself; with Me he deals generously, with Me he converses familiarly.
 
Everywhere self-possesssed, he peacefully enjoys the Beloved of his soul, and is ever saved from wearisomeness, and from numberless faults.

Whilst inwardly recollected, he makes progress in virtue; and, in spite of every obstacle, he hastens on to perfection.

Wherefore, allow not thy spirit to grow dissipated, My Child; neither on account of the appearance of external objects, nor on account of the varied throng of circumstances, nor on account of the urgency of labor, nor on account of the comfortless inward state of thy soul.

Observe carefully, with what objects thy heart busies itself; by what it is moved, towards what it tends.

Turn thyself wholly to interior things; and, intent on these, preserve inward peace, and rejoice in My presence.

5. The voice of the Disciple.-----Grant me, I beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, an inward spirit, that I may keep my heart for Thee, that I may watch over its employments.

For I find it ever busy but, by reason of my neglectfulness, it heeds neither place, nor time, nor objects.

Behold! frequently have I surprised it in strange places, pouring out its feelings, whether of love or of aversion, distracted with emotions, becoming stained by the objects which engaged it.

Frequently have I found it to steal away and give itself up to dissipation at the hours, yea at the very moments, which were specially consecrated to Thee; and when it ought to have been praying to Thee, praising Thee, loving Thee, enjoying Thee.

How often have I seen it engaged with objects vain, or even forbidden, when it should have occupied itself with things good or useful! When unguarded, it slips forthwith away, it runs to and fro, it is carried towards different objects, according as it is swayed by different impulses of nature.

It is never at rest: when it escapes from one object, it is entangled in another. It is excited by curiosity, it is allured by cupidity, it is misled by vanity, it is defiled by pleasure, it is wasted by sadness, it is tortured by envy, it is disturbed by love and hatred, it is worried by its own misery, and by worrying itself it is broken down.

Thus is my heart busied, thus is it defiled, when , watch not over it, or when I am careless about it.

6. O Lord! how great the need of being vigilant! How great the need of guarding my heart! It must not only be made to stay at home in recollection, but it must also be kept busy, yet only with Thee or for Thee.

I must examine, then, by what it is impelled, whether by nature or by grace: how it acts, whether according to Thy good pleasure, or according to its own natural likings; what it has ultimately in view, Thee or itself.

And I must watch constantly, until my heart, in some manner, has grown accustomed, sweetly and courageously to follow, for love of Thee, the motion of grace.

O Jesus! of how great an importance is this work! whatever efforts be needed to accomplish it, behold! I will not cease to pursue the same, until I see it perfected.

If I loved Thee, if I were all captivated with Thy love, how easily, and how speedily should this work be completed! For, if my heart were filled with love for Thee, it would repose in Thee, it would not stray from Thee:-----in Thee it would find its happiness; all else it would, of its own accord, drive off or cast away.

O sweetest Jesus! how wonderful is Thy love! Replenish Thou my heart with Thy love and Thy grace, and my heart will gladly stand watch over itself, will zealously reserve itself for Thee.

CHAPTER XXII. OF THE SHORTNESS OF THIS LIFE

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child,  in all thy works, remember thy last end: and thou shalt never
sin.

Whilst thou hast time, do whatever thou canst for eternity, mindful that thy life is exceedingly short. Soon thou must return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken; for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.
 
What is the life of man upon earth? A vapor, which appears, for a little time, then vanishes away, and leaves not even a vestige behind.

Ever since thou wast born, thou hast not ceased to hasten on to death; neither is it in thy power to stay thy steps.

2. Think over the time thou hast lived. Does it not appear like a dream? Yet know, My Child, that it shall seem still more so, when death is near, which thou must meet full soon.

For what is even the longest life? Behold! the number of man's days are threescore and ten years: and, if he be among the powerful, fourscore years. But, compared with eternity, these years are accounted as a drop in the waters of the ocean.

Nay more, the time of this life, placed in comparison with the endless duration of the life hereafter, is only a point. Yet on this point is hung thy eternity, whether of bliss or of woe.

Yea, hadst thou lived from the beginning of the world, even to this hour, if thou wert now about to die, what should this life be worth to thee, when thou art entering into eternity; in which there are neither days, nor years, nor ages, but which flow perpetually onward, through an uninterrupted forever.

3. Wherefore, My Child, understand well the value of time. Time is the measure of life: as much as thou squanderest of time, so much dost thou lose of thy life.

Time exceeds in value all the treasures of this world. With all the riches of earth, thou couldst not purchase a second of time: but, with time, everlasting treasures may be secured.

Oh! could the dead return from eternity, thinkest thou that they would misspend even a moment? That they would not employ it; some to free themselves from punishments, others to increase their merits?

But alas! though nothing is more precious than time, to many there is naught more wearisome.

There are those,-----not only among persons that follow the spirit of the world, but even among such as make a profession of piety,-----to whom time seems a burden. They complain of its dullness; they love to waste it; they rejoice when they have spent it uselessly, but without irksomeness.

And thus they squander, in dishonoring Me, and in harming themselves, that by means of which they were able and obliged to glorify Me; to help their neighbor; to gather treasures of merit for eternity.
 
4. Frequently call to mind, My Child, for what purpose thou didst enter into this world. Evidently for none other, except to prepare thyself for eternity. For, what else is the present life, if not a novitiate of eternity?

Whilst this brief career continues, thou hast numberless duties to fulfill. For, there are thy many faults to be atoned for; thy soul to be saved and sanctified; Hell to be escaped; Purgatory to be
avoided; Heaven to be secured; thou hast a neighbor whom thou must edify and help to life everlasting; lastly, thou hast to honor and glorify Me in a befitting manner, and with all thy powers.

If thou do not this during life, after it, time shall be no more: and, throughout eternity, thou shalt bear the consequences of thy heedlessness and neglect.

Time is Mine, not thine: I have lent it to thee, that thou mayst use it to perform those things, which I demand, or desire of thee.

If thou squanderest it, thou shalt one day be held to a most strict account: but if thou usest it well, thou canst merit, at every moment, a new degree of grace, and of ever-enduring glory.

5. Hearken, My Child: frequently imagine thyself at that point, when time shall cease, and eternity begin: and weigh, attentively, what thoughts will then occupy thy mind, both concerning all the past, and concerning the whole future.

Behold! eternity is thy dwelling-place: eternity is thy country: eternity is thy lasting home.

Thou art a traveler and a stranger upon earth; fleetly thou passest over it, in search of thy kindred in eternity. Thither, all that have been, that are, and that shall be, must repair. There all, the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the well-formed and the misshapen, shall be without distinction, except such a one as arises from virtue.

Yet a little time, My Child, and thou also shalt be there.

There shalt thou live: yea, live an endless life. Behold! what a lofty thought, My Child! Time shall wing away its flight, ages shall succeed to ages, the world itself shall perish: but thou shalt never cease to be; thou shalt never cease to live.

Oh! would, my Child, that thou didst understand this rightly!

6. If thou savest not thyself for eternity, who will save thee? Most certainly, no one: not even I; for, although I created thee without thee, I will not save thee without thee.

And if thou dost not now work out thy salvation and perfection, how wilt thou do it hereafter? The future is a time, which, perhaps, thou shalt not have, and which thou canst, by no means, promise to thyself. But even wert thou to possess it, the matter would grow more difficult from day to day and would induce thee to delay still farther: and thus thou shouldst stand, at the gates of eternity, still unprepared.

Believe every day to be the last, and live each day in such a manner, that, when the Son of man comes, far from fearing, thou mayst be able to rejoice at His coming.

Blessed is he whom, when I come, I shall find thus employed. Verily, I say, I will place him over all My possessions.

7. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord, how short is life, and how many, and what great things have to be done during it! But, alas! how have I spent hitherto the time of my life!

All these things of supreme importance, which Thou gavest me to do for eternity, I have overlooked, as if they were of little or no worth.

O blindness! O wickedness of mine! Although these things deserve to be wept over, with tears of blood, oh! would that they were my worst transgressions! Woe is me: I have employed a great part of the time of my life in tormenting and grieving Thy Heart, in committing and heaping up sins for myself.

Much of it have I wasted in serving the world, in seeking after its empty possessions, in pursuing its fruitless glory, deceitful pleasures, trifles of every kind.

Much of it have I squandered in satisfying myself, in fostering self-love, in gratifying the inclinations of nature, yea, even in things which otherwise were good and pious.

O my Saviour! how wretchedly have I lived! Instead of virtues and merits, I have gathered wood, and straw, and stubble, to feed the fire, and burn myself in the life to come.

Pardon, I entreat Thee, O pardon the evils, I have done: grant me grace to redeem lost time, to repair the past and make it good, by fervently employing what still remains of my life, in those things for the performing of which it was given me.

The source of my misfortunes was that I did not love Thee, Lord Jesus; that I felt indifferent toward Thee; that I was defiled with a corrupt and corrupting love for other objects.

O my God, Thou Who hast freed me from so great a curse, I beseech Thee, enkindle my heart with that fire of love with which Thy Heart is burning. This most hallowed flame will utterly destroy my offenses; this will arouse me faithfully to perform whatever is enjoined to secure a blissful eternity.

CHAPTER XXIII. OF DEATH

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, remember, thou must die: because it is appointed for all men once to die.

Do whatever thou wilt, thou canst by no possible effort escape the grasp of death. The Almighty Himself has fixed the bounds, beyond which none can pass. When thou hast reached them, no matter what may be thy condition, thou shalt die the death.

Whilst life endures, there is naught more certain than death: yet there is naught more hidden in uncertainty, than the time of death, and its attendant surroundings.

Thou knowest not, indeed, when thou shalt die: yet, hold this for certain, that thou shalt die, when thou thinkest not.

Whether thou shalt see the end of this year, or even of this day, of that thou art wholly ignorant.

Many, counting on a long life, and regardless of making preparation for death, dream of much to be done in the future; when suddenly death puts an end to all their plans, and drags them away into eternity.

Whether thou shalt die at home, or abroad, of sickness, or by violence; whether strengthened with the Sacraments, or deprived of their soothing comforts, all this lies hidden in the mysterious unknown.

2. However, My Child, thou shalt die only once: if once thou diest well, thy everlasting bliss is secured; if once thou diest ill, thy destruction is endless and irreparable.

O inconceivable stupidity of the heart of man! Very many fear not to live in a state of damnation; and yet it is certain, that they shall die unexpectedly. The unchangeable declaration remains firm: The Son of man will come, when He is not expected.

For a reason worthy of God's Wisdom, the time of His coming remains hidden, that men may keep themselves in the state of grace-----ever ready. But, as many disregard this, it happens that not a few die without being prepared, and in a twinkling are buried in Hell.

Woe, therefore, to them whom death shall overtake in a bad state! When they are dead, hope shall be no more; because from a death in time, they fall into the death of eternity, and from finite evils they pass over to those which are infinite.
 
Most wretched is the death of sinners: frightful is the death of the lukewarm; but precious, and filled with consolation, is the death of them that have sanctified themselves.

Blessed are they who end a saintly life with a holy death! They reach the end of their labors, their afflictions, their trials, and of all dangers, and they enter into a bliss secure and complete.

3. How differently are different persons impressed at the moment of death! some are terror-stricken at the thought of the past, of the present, and of the future; others are filled with comfort: these feel their hearts dilating, those feel them compressed with anguish: but all wish that they had lived piously.

To be well prepared to die, is the greatest consolation of him that sees the near approach of death.

To how great a danger of dying unprepared is he exposed, who thinks of making ready only when death is at the door! Then, either time is wanting, or the pangs of sickness hinder the use of the soul's powers, or passions still have their wonted sway, whilst the habit of neglecting to correspond to grace still prevails; and, meanwhile, the devil's assaults are greater than ever before.

Look forward, then, My Child, before the night overtake thee, wherein no one can securely work, but when every one begins to garner what he has sown.

A good life is the best preparation for death. It is generally true, that he that lives well, dies well.

Daily, before retiring to thy nightly rest, put thy soul in order, as if, the same night, thou hadst to set out for eternity.

4. Death is a good counselor, My Child; wherefore, before thou undertakest, or leavest off, aught of importance, ask advice of death, that thou mayst know, when it calls thee, what thou wouldst like to have done, what thou wouldst regret to have left undone.

By perfect purity of heart thou canst make thy death most safe and consoling.

Take no counsel of the flesh when there is question of securing a happy death; but, even in spite of its murmurings, pursue what is good, that, in the end, thou mayst save both the body and the soul.

After death thy body shall become the food of worms, and whatever remains of, it, shall be the prey of corruption.

Yet, thereafter, it shall arise again, whether thou art willing or not, to share the everlasting destiny of the soul.

Let death be most familiar to thee, My Child. If thou be faithful in asking its advice, and in following it, it will be thy solace in adversity, it will keep thee in due bounds in prosperity, it will be useful to thee in all things, it will not cease to do thee good; and, in the end, it will free thee from this place of exile, and introduce thee into thy blissful country in Heaven.

5. The voice of the Disciple.-----Is it possible, O Lord, that anyone will hold himself unprepared, when at any moment he may have to meet death?

My conscience bears me witness, what I shall wish for at the approach of death: then my sole
desire shall the that I had led a life of innocence; that for Thee I had kept my heart undefiled; that I had sanctified my soul.

But, alas! should death overtake me now I should wish for all this in vain; since, as yet, I possess no sign of holiness; but rather many marks of lukewarmness.

O compassionate and merciful Lord, bear with me a little while, that I may weep over my neglectfulness, and that I may do what I would desire to have performed, when death comes.

6. O my soul, soon time shall be no more. Let others do as they list: let us, whilst yet there is
time, devote ourselves to the work of our salvation.

Each one for himself. When death comes no one can take our place; nor can anyone, in our
stead, go into eternity. Whatever, therefore, others may say or do, let us place our everlasting destiny beyond all danger.

And what means, O Lord Jesus, can be better and safer, than a true love for Thee, disengaged from every thing besides; since this both cleanses us from our faults, and renders us holy?

If I love Thee truly, I will not fear death, nor aught of all that follows thereafter. Thy love will drive away fear: Thy love will enable me to approach Thee with confidence.

Thou, then, O Jesus, my love, be Thou henceforth my life. If Thou art my life, to die shall be my gain.

For love of Thee, let me daily die to sin, to the world, to myself, that I may live for Thee: let me become free from things created, and be made wholly pure, so that, when death opens the door, I may appear before Thee rejoicingly.

CHAPTER XXIV. OF JUDGMENT

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, so soon as thou hast gone into eternity, thou shalt find thyself before My Judgment-seat, to give an account of thy life, and to hear the decision of thy lot forever.

I Myself, the Searcher and Knower of hearts,-----to whom all power is given in Heaven and on earth,-----I will preside over this judgment.

All and everyone, whether they be willing or not, must make their appearance before Me, the Judge of the living and the dead, to receive the final sentence: nor is it possible thereafter to appeal to another tribunal.

What is just, I will judge: neither by gifts nor by promises will I be conciliated; nor shall the prayers of anyone change My Heart; neither will I be moved by repentance.

That day shall be a day of justice, not of mercy. Then shall each one receive according to his works.

2. What shall thy feeling be then, My Child, when thou shalt stand alone before the infinite Majesty, with naught except thy works alone, whether they be good or evil?

Then will the devil arise in judgment against thee, and accuse thee, ready to drag thee into Hell,

Thy Guardian Angel will stand up against thee, to bear witness to the truth of what is brought against thee.

Nay, even thy own conscience will accuse thee, and overwhelm thee with alarm, and dread, and terror.

Thus accused, with none to take thy defense, thou shalt wither away for fear; nor shalt thou dare to open thy mouth.

3. For all things, whether they be known or unknown, are in My sight; nor is there any thing hidden from My eyes.

Yet, searching, will search the heart, from the first dawn of its reason, even to the last breath of its life.

From it will I draw forth every evil, be it public or private: whether its own work, or that of another; whether great or small; whatever thou hast committed by thought, and word, and deed, and omission.

And not only of things evil, but also of those that are vain, or idle, or useless, will I exact an account.

Nay more, justice itself will I judge: I will weigh, in the scales of the sanctuary, even thy good deeds, and see what was wanting in them; either in the motive, in the manner of doing, or in the end intended, scrutinizing whether all was supernatural and perfect.
 
Then, many things, which, during life, appeared good, shall be found void and evil.

Then, the showy semblances of the virtues of the lukewarm, shall be seen as they are, and shall be cast aside, as dry stubble, fit only to be burnt.

And, searching still further, I will seek out the fruit of all the favors which I bestow, of all the graces, of all the means of salvation and perfection.

Yea, I will summon time itself against thee, and I will thoroughly investigate in what manner thou didst use it.

4. What shalt thou do then, O sinner, when even the just shall hardly be secure?

Above thee thou shalt descry a Heaven uncertain; below, the yawning abyss; at thy right, Angels as witnesses; at thy left, demons enraged; before thee, the supreme Arbiter of life and death.

5. Ah! My Child, now act with care, that thou mayst find safety then. Now it is easy, then it shall be impossible.

Follow now the invitings of My mercy, that thou mayst not then feel the severity of My justice.

Now withdraw thyself wholly from a depraved world, that then, with reprobate worldlings, thou
mayst not be forced to hear: Depart, ye accursed, into everlasting fire.

Now, untrammeled by aught of earth, follow thou the Saints, that with them, thou mayst be worthy then to hear: Come, ye Blessed of My Father, possess the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord! how much better it is, here to examine and judge myself strictly, that I may not be condemned before Thy Judgment-seat!

How much better, here to weigh well all my thoughts, and words, and deeds, that I may plainly see whether they are good, whether they are wholly according to Thy will, whether they shall be able to stand Thy searching, and deserve Thy approval!
 
At present there is still a remedy, then every effort shall prove unavailing: now mercy is still offered me, then justice will thunder forth: Give an account of every thing.

Lord, O Lord! if Thou wilt mark iniquities, who shall endure it? If Thou searchest also things indifferent, yea, even those that are good, who can stand before Thee?

O Jesus! although I am inwardly rejoiced that Thou, and none other, art to be my Judge, yet, when I reflect that I am obliged to give an account of matters so numerous and so dreadful, I tremble with fear.

For, on what can I rely, when even my good deeds must be mistrusted? On what shall I ground my hope? Behold! naught do I find, whereon to place a safe reliance, except on Thy Heart.

In this, therefore, will I hope: for, though It shall then be the Heart of my Judge, yet It will still remain the Heart of my Jesus, of One that loves them that love Him.

O my Jesus! be mindful of Thy word, in which Thou hast given me hope: for Thou hast said: Who loves Me, him also will I love.

If I love Thee, and am loved by Thee, then will I surely not fear to come and appear before Thee.

Lo, therefore, what I will do: I will love Thee, most lovely and most loving Jesus; I will love Thee with my whole heart, and love Thee all the days of my life.

CHAPTER XXV. OF HELL

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child,  so long as men live, I do, in some manner, love them all; the good I cherish with a Divine affection; the wicked I tolerate, because I await their conversion; and I go in search of those that are straying. My Heart, wherein I bear them all written, deviseth and uses a thousand ways and means to save all.

But, if there are any who disappoint the hope of My mercy, if they come to judgment laden with the guilt of grievous sin, confirmed in their obstinacy; I will blot them altogether out of My Heart, and, with the thunderbolts of My justice, I will hurl them into the depths of Hell.

2. There, they are bereft of Heaven and all its delights, and never shall they behold My countenance in the kingdom of My glory.

They endure an infinite punishment: because they have lost an infinite good.

Plunged in a shoreless lake of fire, they burn and suffer for evermore; and the smoke of their tortures mounts up unendingly.

All evils rush upon them. There, every sense of the body, every power of the soul, shall have its own and proper punishment.

In that, whereby each has sinned, shall he be specially tormented: as much as he has delighted in evil, so much is he tortured with pain.
 
There, the unclean are forever devoured with a burning heat, overwhelmed with intolerable stench gnawed by never-dying worms.

There, the wickedly rich are oppressed by extreme want; and suffer a most frightful hunger and thirst, nor shall they find relief forever.

There, they that wrongly sought after honors are infinitely debased, and despised and trodden underfoot by the very demons.

There, no interruption is felt in torments, not even for a moment; but they continue, and shall continue forever and ever.

There, everyone receives according to his deserts.

3. The place, the masters, the company, everything superadds to the punishments, in an inconceivable manner.

What can there be more terrible than the dungeons of Hell, where no ray of light, no order, but continued darkness and everlasting horror dwell?

What more cruel than the demons, who exhaust their arts to invent new tortures, and their strength to inflict them?

What more gloomy than that wretched throng of sufferers, howling endlessly, hopelessly? As many companions as there are suffering, so many new torments are experienced.

4. Behold! so shall he be punished, who is unwilling to serve Me, his God, his Creator, his Redeemer, his unwearied Benefactor.

As I live, every knee shall be bent to Me, and all nations shall serve Me.

Whoever does not willingly serve My Goodness in time, shall unwillingly serve My justice in eternity.

Be not amazed, My Child, at the punishment of the damned: they themselves are not astounded, but confess that they receive things worthy of their deeds.

No one goes to the torments of Hell against his will: all the reprobate rush thither of their own free choice; therefore, they complain of no one except themselves.

They confess, that I am infinitely bountiful, and acknowledge, that they are exceedingly wicked.

5. The gate of Hell is sin; the paths that lead to the same, whatever allures man to sin.

How many have perished by an unlawful desire for pleasure, by an inordinate love of riches, by a wicked pursuit of honors!

Long thou for naught, My Child, which may entangle thee in its toils, and afterwards hurl thee into the abyss.

Nor is it less dangerous, in all things to seek thyself. How many, alas! there are, who seem to begin well, but who, because they do not abandon sin, relapse at length-----are thrust into deeper evils, and, finally, are miserably lost!

To escape Hell, therefore, it is not enough to have begun well, but it is necessary to have persevered in well-doing.

Forsake sin and the world forever, lest thou be in the end forsaken by Me: forsake, moreover, thyself, lest by thy own weight, thou be dragged down to the lowest depths.

Do all, dearly beloved, endure all, that thou mayst avoid never-ending torments. All the labors and afflictions of this life, are as naught, when compared with the sufferings of Hell.

Here upon earth, in a short time, there shall be an end to labors and sorrows: but there is no being redeemed out of Hell.

6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord, our God! how awful is Thy justice in eternity: Nevertheless, Thy judgments are just, yea, acknowledged just by the reprobate themselves.

But, although nothing terrifies me more than Hell, yet, I know of nothing better adapted to awaken in my heart a love for Thee.

How, indeed, O Lord Jesus, can I think of the fire of Hell, without being inflamed with love for Thee?

What is there, that manifests, in a more sensible manner, the bounty of Thy Heart towards me?

What is there, that presses me more forcibly to love Thee in return?

Behold! if Thou shouldst free some reprobate soul from the torments of Hell, and if to her, thus restored to this life, Thou shouldst give most plentiful means, whereby she might not only save herself, in an easy manner, but also gain an everlasting throne of glory in Heaven: O how would that soul love Thee! Would she think that she could ever be able to show Thee sufficient thankfulness? Could she ever think of Hell, without wholly melting with love for Thee? O how pure would she keep her heart for Thee! how saint-like would she live for Thee!

Now, O Lord, I am indebted to Thee for much more than that soul should be. By preserving me from the pains of Hell, Thou didst far greater and better things for me. For, is it not a greater and
better blessing to be entirely kept from an evil, than to be released from it, after having undergone its pangs?

Yet, these things, so astonishing, so wonderful, so sweet, Thou didst do for me; not once, not twice, not thrice, but as often as I committed mortal sin.

Had I committed no mortal sin, my obligation should still be greater, my debt of gratitude should be increased, as well as my reasons for loving Thee. For I should be infinitely more obliged to Thee.

Had not the infinite goodness of Thy Heart preserved me by grace, how long ago might I have fallen into a sin deserving of Hell! For there is no sin which one commits, which another may not also commit, unless Thou prevent him by a special grace.

Whatever, then, I may have been, this O most sweet Jesus, this I owe, first of all, to Thee, that I'm not now in Hell, that I am still able to gain Heaven. Thou hast freed me from destruction; Thou hast freed me, according to the multitude and greatness of the goodness of Thy heart, from the depth of Hell, from the hands of them that lay in wait for mv soul.

Come ye, therefore, and I will tell you, all ye that fear the Lord, what great things He has done for my soul.

Should I, then, not love Thee, O Jesus, infinite Goodness! Should I not cherish Thee! yea, I love Thee, I love Thee above all things; and I will continue to love Thee thus, as long as I have being, forever and ever. Thou alone shalt possess all my affections: for Thee, O Jesus, will I live, for Thee, alone, to Whom I owe my all.

CHAPTER XXVI. OF HEAVEN

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor has the heart of man conceived, what things I have prepared for them, that love and serve Me faithfully to the end.
 
Who can portray for those who have not experienced it, what Heaven is,-----that blissful abode from which all ills are banished, in which there is an overflowing of all good things?

No labor shall be there, no sorrow, no temptation, no danger: all these things have passed away with mortal life; they have given place to perfect rest, to endless joy, to a peace that cannot be disturbed, to a security that none can take away.

2. There shall be neither cold, nor heat; neither inclemency, nor change of seasons; neither unpleasant days, nor gloomy nights. Those realms of bliss are illumined by My everlasting glory, softened by the Divine serenity of My countenance, enlivened by the infinite sweetness of My Heart so that everything smiles in the purest light, in the newness of a heavenly spring, for evermore.

Blessed are they that dwell therein! They neither hunger, nor thirst; nor are they subject to aught that is unpleasant; nor shall they be weakened in vigor forever.

There they are replenished and inebriated from the torrent of the delights of God; they flourish in perpetual youth, and, immortal, they shine brighter than the sun for all eternity.
 
3. My Child, there thou shalt behold Me as I am, and gaze upon Me face to face, in the most entrancing splendors of My Majesty.

There, by the intuition of My infinite perfections, thou shalt be rapt with admiration, and overflow with bliss; in the excess of thy joy thou shalt, of thy own accord, burst forth in boundless praises, and exaltation of My most lovely Attributes.

Then also thou shalt understand the mysteries of faith, and the secrets of nature.

All the science of philosophers is but ignorance, when compared with the knowledge possessed by
the least of the Elect. Then shalt thou view all the display of My everlasting kingdom, its unbounded treasures, its ever-enduring dignities.

At the contemplation of a loveliness so varied, and so great, thou shalt be inflamed with an ineffable love for Me.

4. Then, My Child, then, wilt thou love Me, in a perfect manner, without any division of thy affections, without remissness, without end.

Now, thou art sometimes in trouble, because thou knowest not whether thou art worthy of love or of hatred: then, to thy unutterable joy, thou shalt know with certainty, that thou lovest Me, and wilt love Me forever; and that, in return, thou art loved, and shalt be loved by Me, throughout eternity.

Then shalt thou repose on My Heart, with perfect security; and thou shalt taste how delightful it is, to love Me, and to melt away in My love.

Thou shalt be inebriated with an exceeding great sweetness, and rapt above thyself; thou shalt swim in an ocean of love, with the Angels and the Saints amid jubilant hymns of love, for evermore.

 Thus shalt thou spend ages, and while away eterity, ever wishing, and ever longing, to love; and, at the same time, ever sated, and ever blissful, with love.
 
5. Then, at last, Child, shalt thou possess Me, and enjoy Me forever: which is the completing of beatitude.

Thou shalt be wholly Mine, and I will be wholly thine: thou shalt enjoy Me, in a manner ever new, ever most delightful.

In Me thou shalt possess every good, and have whatever thou canst wish or desire.

Let thy mind conceive, if possible, how beautiful, how wonderful, how charming, all things are there: how rapturous to behold the glory and exquisite adornment of the heavens, to be present among the choirs of the Angels, to exult unceasingly with the Saints, to contemplate and love the most Blessed Virgin, the glorious Queen of the heavenly kingdom; and, in return, to attract Her sweet looks, and gain Her love.

What delightful dwellings, O My Child! what pleasant companionship! what charming beatitude and all to endure forever and ever!

Behold, My Child, behold the exceeding great reward of those that serve Me with their whole heart. Can the world give such things? Or even promise them?

Lift up thy eyes, therefore, and see what awaits thee, if thou art faithful to Me; even to the end.

Be of good cheer, My Child; and as much as thou art able, with the Divine grace and thy own co-operation, cleanse thy heart and preserve it pure. For nothing defiled, be it ever so little, shall enter into Heaven.

But the purer thou art here, the more glorious shalt thou be there; and the nearer to Me, and the dearer to My Heart.

6. The voice of the Disciple.-----O  Jesus, how blessed are they, that dwell in Heaven with Thee!

O happy mortals they, who serve Thee with a clean heart! What ineffable beatitude shall they enjoy in eternity! yea, who is more happy than they, even in time!

O bliss-creating service of Jesus, which gains such a reward! Thou renderest easy and pleasant
all things, that lead to so great a glory and blessedness.
 
O most sweet Jesus, bid me do, bid me suffer, for Thy sake, whatever Thou wilt: willingly and gladly do I embrace everything, that I may please Thee in time, and possess Thee in eternity.
 
By Thy most Sacred Heart, do I entreat Thee, lead me safe, through whatever way Thou mayst choose, into Thy kingdom; that, with the Angels and Saints, I may behold Thee, love Thee, enjoy Thee, for evermore. Amen.

DIRECTORY FOR THE SECOND BOOK

1. The object of the Second Book is, to teach us-----after we have become disengaged from our evil and inordinate affections, how we should exert ourselves, that, by the practice of virtue, we may be enabled to make our election sure. In order to do this the more efficaciously, and the more sweetly, at the same time, we should place before our eyes Jesus, with the inward dispositions of His Heart; because, by following Him Who is the way, the truth, and the life, we shall proceed, with safety, certainty, and pleasure, from virtue to virtue, and secure our salvation.

The practice of the virtues, by which we may follow the Heart of Jesus, and express His interior life in ourselves, can, in every state and condition of life, be performed in two ways. The first, by practicing those virtues which are of precept, and which the state and condition of every one require. The second, by exercising, according to the Divine good pleasure, those virtues also, which are of counsel, whereby our salvation is better secured, and the Divine glory and our merits are the more increased. But since both these ways contain limitless degrees, whereby virtue is ever practiced with greater perfection, there is no one, how perfect soever he may be, who cannot here occupy himself profitably, and gather more abundant fruit.

As, however, Jesus willed that, in the imitation of His virtues, we should, above all, be humble and meek of heart, we must diligently attend and take care, both that, whatever virtues we learn and imitate in Him, we place them upon true humility as their groundwork, and perfect them in a meek charity; and again, that, in the very manner of imitating His virtues, we be especially meek and humble of heart.

2. Nowhere can we learn virtues more safely, and more easily, than in the Heart of Jesus. For, as that Heart is the pattern of true virtue, by merely looking upon It with attention, we shall see what virtue is, and what qualities it ought to possess: neither shall we run the risk of erring in a matter which is to us of so much importance, both for time and eternity. Thence shall we learn, to our unspeakable consolation, that virtue is a right affection of the heart for an object, which is, in some manner, good: and we shall perceive, that this good object,-----which sometimes we call, figuratively, virtue,-----is not in truth virtue itself, but simply the object of virtue. Thence we shall likewise learn, that virtue, in order to be such as it ought to be in every Christian, must not be natural, but supernatural; and we shall clearly distinguish the difference between the two. The affections of the Heart of Jesus, which He reduced to acts, whether internal or external, did not spring from an impulse or motion of His human nature, but from a supernal or Divine principle; they were not performed according to the sentiments of His human nature, but according to the Divine good pleasure; they did not tend to some temporal delight of His human nature, but throughout to God, as to their last end.

Whence, if, from the impulse or emotion of mere nature, we strive after what is good; if we act simply according to the feelings of nature, whether of inclination or aversion; if we seek merely a natural end, we have only natural virtue, whereby we shall acquire no Christian perfection in this life,-----no fruit of merit in eternity. But, if of the Heart of Jesus, we learn supernatural virtue, and the practice of the same; replenished with graces and merits, we shall lead an interior life, like to His Own.
 
What is the interior life,-----for which the life of the Heart of Jesus serves us as a model,-----except to begin all our voluntary acts, internal as well as external, by the grace of God, or a supernatural principle; to perform them according to God's Will; to direct them to God and His interests, as to our end; to occupy ourselves in our Heart with God, our Saviour; and to live for Him by love? Now, all this he does, who begins all his voluntary acts by the Divine good pleasure; who performs them according to the Divine good pleasure; directs them to the Divine good pleasure, as his end,-----being most constantly occupied internally with the Lord, through love. Behold the truly interior life, by which genuine and solid virtues are acquired; by which we may attain, safely and sweetly, to true sanctity and Divine union. This life is fitted for every state and condition; it is adapted, not only to ecclesiastics and religious, but equally to all laics and persons in the world. Did not the first Christians generally lead this life? Does not the Gospel teach this life to all?

Whoever has a good will may lead this sanctifying life, practice supernatural virtue and attain to perfection. For, the acquiring, or not acquiring of virtue, does not depend on temperament, on a mild or passionate character, as many seem to believe: but it depends on the grace of God, and the co-operation of man's will. For, since God gives grace, not in view of natural qualities, but first gratuitously, and afterwards also in consideration of supernatural merits and prayers; and since the human will, whatever be the natural disposition of a man, is truly free to co-operate, or not to co-operate with grace, it is evident, that virtue does not depend on temperament or natural disposition. Wherefore, we acquire virtue the better, and the more perfectly, not in proportion as our natural disposition is yielding, but in proportion as our co-operation is more efficacious: we reach a more pure and more solid virtue, not by reason of the fewness of natural repugnances we feel, but by means of the more generous acts of the will, which we perform, in spite of natural repugnances. This doctrine, so full of consolation,-----which the Saints unanimously teach, and which they learned of the very Heart of Jesus,-----deserves our whole attention.
 
In the practice of virtue, we must guard against delusions, among which this one is the chief and most common: That we are satisfied with producing the object of a virtue, whilst we do not practice the virtue itself; or, that we believe that we practice a virtue, then we bring forward the object of virtue through a natural inclination or intention; or even, that we think, we can acquire true and solid virtue, without repeated and generous acts, whereby the emotions of the passions, and the impulses of nature are overcome or denied. They that neglect to cleanse their heart perfectly, are especially wont to fall into this dreadful delusion. Other delusions, which may occasionally occur in the practice of virtue, arise nearly all from the preceding. Such are, on the one hand, to grow despondent in mind, on account of the difficulties or oppositions of nature: to look upon these as obstacles to virtue, not as means,-----such as they may be in reality, if they are used with a generous heart,-----to acquire true and solid virtue: on the other hand, to deem the good qualities of nature, freedom from vices or temptations, a virtue; or, even, overlooking true and solid virtue, to aspire to Divine union. Now, these, and other delusions, you will easily avoid, if, like a true Disciple of the Heart of Jesus, you lead an interior life.
 
3. When, therefore, you have come to that part of the spiritual life, which the Heart of Jesus teaches in this Book, you should direct your endeavors to this: to know and love Jesus as perfectly as you can, to learn and acquire, ever better and better, in thinking, in speaking, in acting, the dispositions of His Heart. To attain to this, besides the two methods of meditating,-----which are given before the first Book, and which you may also employ here, if you find them useful,-----what follows will enable you to understand more fully this matter.

4. The proper method of using the second Book, is twofold: the one of meditating, the other of contemplating: both agree entirely with what the Saints have taught us concerning mental prayer.

If you meditate, let the memory represent to you some virtue of the Heart of Jesus, And let it retain the same, after the meditation; so as to put it in practice.

Let the understanding consider the qualities of the virtue proposed; then, let it compare your own heart with the Heart of Jesus, in regard to the virtue considered; afterwards, let it recall your past life, whether and how far you have practiced this virtue; if sufficiently, return thanks, and give honor to God, your Saviour; but, if the contrary, grieve and ask pardon; lastly, let it look forward into the future, considering when, and how, you can improve this virtue.
 
Let the will embrace the same virtue, excite internal acts of the same; yea, conversing with Jesus Himself, let it utter the sentiments of the heart: for what it is sorry, what it proposes; what it fears, what it hopes; what it dislikes, what it loves; nay, let it devoutly communicate its every desire, and, finally, ask much.

But, if you contemplate, see in the mystery, or in the particular subject which you propose to contemplate, what are the sentiments of the Heart of Jesus, or of Jesus in His Heart, concerning all and each of the things that occur in the subject; what He esteems, and how highly; what, He condemns, and how greatly; what He shuns, and what He embraces.

Then, give heed, in this matter, to the words which issue from the Heart of Jesus, and what words are not even thought in His Heart, much less uttered.

Lastly, observe, in the same manner, what kind of acts proceed from the Heart of Jesus, and with what virtues they are adorned.

And, throughout the whole contemplation, according to your devotion, or your wants, or the motions of grace, indulge and persist in acts, that is, pious affections and petitions.

Learn, in this manner, by contemplation, to feel, and speak, and act, like Jesus Himself.

The acts, specially recommended in this part of the interior life, besides acts of the theological virtues, are frequent acts of that virtue to which you are applying yourself, of generous self-abnegation of your ill-ordered nature, of a noble love of Jesus. Repeat these constantly.

But, whether you meditate, or whether you contemplate, you ought so to consider the mysteries of the life of Jesus, as if you were present at them: which is expressly taught by St. Bonaventure: "If you desire," says he, "to derive fruit from these things, you must, with all the affection of your mind, setting aside all other cares and anxieties, represent yourself as present at what is related to have been spoken or done by the Lord Jesus Christ; in such a manner as if you heard them with your ears, saw them with your eyes."

5. The Saints, who were skilled in the interior ways of the spiritual life, teach us that the demon, the evil spirit, is more wont to tempt, under the appearance of good, those who, leading a life already exempt from sins, exercise themselves in acquiring virtues. Wherefore, to such persons, they recommend the following rules, to enable them to discern between the good and the evil spirit, and between the suggestions of either.

I. In those who are advancing from good to better, the good Spirit moves the soul peacefully, calmly, gently:

The evil spirit moves the soul roughly, confusedly, violently.

But on those who proceed from bad to worse, the said spirits act in a contrary manner. For the good Spirit stings them inwardly, disquiets and arouses them, that he may bring them to conversion.

And the wicked spirit endeavors to make them quiet in sin, caresses, and flatters them, that he may keep and push them onward in evil.

II. It is peculiar to God, as well as to every good Spirit, in His motions, to give to them that act rightly, or use sincere efforts, true joy and spiritual consolation, and to remove the sadness and trouble, which the evil spirit causes.

And it is the characteristic of the evil spirit to fight against such joy and consolation, by adducing specious reasons, subtleties, and various fallacies.

III. The evil spirit observes very much, whether a soul possesses a delicate or a loose conscience: If it is a delicate one, he strives to render it still more delicate, even to scrupulousness and every extreme, so that he may the more easily trouble and overcome her: thus, if he sees that a soul commits no mortal sin, nor venial, nor any voluntary defect, the evil spirit, as he cannot make her fall into some sin, tries to cause her to judge and think that a sin, which is not sin:

But if the soul is of lax conscience, the evil spirit strives to make her still more lax and gross; so that, if before she made no account of venial sins, he endeavors to induce her now to make light of mortal sins; and, if before she cared little for grievous sins, he uses his efforts to make her now care much less, or even nothing at all, for them.

IV. A soul that desires to make progress in the spiritual life, must always proceed in a manner contrary to that by which the evil spirit proceeds. Wherefore, if he tries to make the soul more lax, she must take care to render herself more delicate: in like manner, if he endeavors to make her so delicate, as to lead her to extremes, or to scruples, she should manage to place herself firmly in the golden mean, so that she may render and keep herself altogether quiet.

V. It is the characteristic of the evil spirit, who transforms himself sometimes into an Angel of light, to begin by thrusting in thoughts conformable to the pious soul, and to finish, by suggesting his own wicked ones.

VI. The soul should rightly attend to the course of the thoughts suggested: for if the beginning, the middle, and the end are good, and tend to a good object, it is a sign that the thoughts suggested come from the good Spirit: but if in the succession of thoughts, which the spirit suggests, he ends with something bad,-----or which turns away from a certain good,-----or even with a less good than that which the soul had before resolved to do, or, if he renders the soul restless, or disturbs her, by taking away the tranquillity and peace which she enjoyed before, it is an evident sign, that those thoughts come from the evil spirit.

VII. When the enemy has been discovered, and, is known by the evil, to which he leads, it is then useful, that the soul consider the course of thoughts suggested to her, under the appearance of good; and that she review from the beginning, how the enemy tried to overthrow, and take away by degrees, her interior peace and tranquillity, until he brought in his own wicked intention. Taught by this experience, the soul will for the future guard more easily against the deceits of the evil spirit.   -----------ST. IGNAT., ST. BERNARD, ST. GERTRUDE.

THE SECOND BOOK:
ADMONITIONS USEFUL FOR THE IMITATION OF THE MOST
SACRED HEART OF JESUS IN HIS ACTIVE LIFE

CHAPTER I. HOW MUCH WE SHOULD ESTEEM AND CHERISH SANCTIFYING GRACE

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, do not disregard grace, but carefully preserve so sacred a deposit, which has been entrusted to thee.

For this is thy treasure, this thy glory, this thy happiness, this thy every good.

This informs thee, the image of God, and renders thee alike to Him.

Know, then, thy dignity, O man, who, by sanctifying grace, art raised even to the likeness of God, and becomest more exalted than the whole world, so that naught of earth can be compared to thee.

What is the splendor of the stars? What the beauty of all creatures, when placed in comparison with the excellence of a soul adorned with Divine grace, and thus assimilated to God Himself?

Lift up thyself, therefore, and, mindful of thy dignity, do not defile nor debase thyself.

2. God adopts thee, resplendent with this grace not simply as His child, but as the child of His love and predilection.

Thus, what I possess by nature, thou receivest by adoption; so that thou art not only called, but art in very truth, a child of God.

Understand, if thou art able, what it is, to be a child of God: what it is, to be loved and cherished by such a Father.

In the world, children esteem themselves happy, and glory in having parents, who are wise, good, influential-----or wealthy, great, illustrious.

But what are the distinctions of all the parents of this earth, when compared with the Attributes of God?

With how much more reason, therefore, shouldst thou glory and rejoice in having for thy Father, God Himself, the Lord of Heaven and earth!

Ponder, then, with a true judgment the excellence of this Divine adoption. For, when formerly thou wast a castaway, reduced in the lowest depth of degradation, thou becamest, by sanctifying grace, from bond, free; from one disowned, the acknowledged child of God; that, thus ennobled, thou mayst rejoice in the affluence of the good things of the Lord.

Blessed is he who knows the price of sanctifying grace, whereby he was raised to be a child of God; and who so esteems this, the highest nobility, that on no account, he shows himself degenerate, but ever continues a child worthy of such a Father!

3. If, by grace, thou art a child, by the same thou art also made an heir,-----even the heir of God, and co-heir with Me.

Wherefore, My Child, the everlasting kingdom, which is thine by right of nature, becomes thine in virtue of sanctifying grace.

When thou lookest up to Heaven, and viewest, in spirit, the glory, the beatitude, and all the good things of eternity, say to thyself: Behold my possessions, behold my inheritance, if I preserve the title of grace.

My merits obtained, that this grace should confer upon thee a settled right to the possessions of Heaven; of which none, except thyself, can deprive thee.

God's promise remains firm; He is faithful to His word: but, if thou losest sanctifying grace, thou throwest aside thy right, and becomest disinherited.

4. Grace, My Child,-----which constitutes thee an heir of the heavenly kingdom,-----makes thee also a companion of the Angels, a brother of the Saints.

If thou art glad when thou enjoyest the intercourse of distinguished companions, mortal men though they be, and subject to change; if thou art delighted at having brothers according to the flesh, although their number divides and lessens thy earthly inheritance: how great must be thy joy that, by grace, thou hast the blessed Angels for companions, the chosen Saints of God for brothers,-----whose countless number neither divides nor lessens thy celestial inheritance, but, on the contrary, increases and multiplies the same!

And what brothers, too, My Child! how innumerable, how illustrious, how mighty, how good!

They are thy elder brothers: celebrated for their triumphs, crowned with the glory of beatitude, secure of themselves, solicitous for thee; they love thee in truth, encourage thee by their example, help thee by their prayers, invite thee by their rewards.

Blissful grace, which makes thee the brother of such heroes! Oh, My Child, would that thou didst fully understand this!

5. Moreover, by an effect of sanctifying grace, thou mayst, even in this life, enjoy true happiness. This grace is the foundation of interior peace: without it, there is no real peace: with it, an undisturbed calm pervades the soul.

Who, that resists sanctifying grace, has ever enjoyed peace? And what happiness can there exist, where there is no peace?

If thou rejoicest in the peace of grace, thou mayst justly and safely be glad amid prosperity, and thou canst easily and usefully find solace in adversity.
 
Preserve thyself in grace, and thou shalt always be enabled to possess peace and happiness. Witness all the Saints: yea, also they who, when once converted, kept carefully within themselves the grace of God. When they had this, and compared their present feelings with those of their former life, taught by experience, they could say to Me: Better is one day in Thy courts, O Lord, than thousands in the dwellings of sinners.

6. Nay more, My Child, if thou livest in sanctifying grace. My kingdom is within thee; so that repose and reign in thy heart as on My throne.

Now, My kingdom consists in the tranquilly and joy of the Holy Ghost, Who is a Spirit of charity and sanctification.

In this kingdom I hold sway, not, as a Lord ruling My subjects, but as a Father training My Child, whom I design to reign with Me.

So long, therefore, as thou continuest under this rule of grace, I guide thee specially by My Wisdom, I protect thee by My power, I attend and encompass thee by My love.

Neither hast thou aught to fear, My Child, for this kingdom so governed, so protected, so cherished; unless, indeed, thyself becomest its betrayer.

If thou art faithful, it shall, doubtless, stand firm and endure for evermore: nor can all its enemies combined overthrow, or even weaken the same.

How sweet, how consoling is this thought, O My Child! How well suited to make thee esteem sanctifying grace above everything!

7. See now, My Child, how many, and what great possessions thou hast in this one good alone!

Does not this one good surpass, in excellence, all the riches of this world?

Pray, Child, that thou mayst ever understand better, and more perfectly the value of grace, and prize it in reality as highly as thou shouldst do.

If thou dost understand and appreciate it rightly, thou wilt deem it little, or certainly not too much, to sacrifice for its preservation not only fortune, fame, and all that is dear and pleasing, but even health, and, if it were necessary, life itself.

Did not My holy Martyrs, and all My sainted heroes,-----among whom thou beholdest so many children and tender Virgins,-----prize it thus? Did not thousands among them, when it was left to their choice, prefer to sacrifice, amid torments, all the blessings of life, yea, life itself, rather than lose the same, for any possession, however great, that was offered?

Thou, therefore, the child of such heroes, use thy every effort, constant watchfulness, and thy greatest care, to preserve grace, the most precious of all gifts; the more so, as the most powerful exertions of thy enemies are directed to despoil thee, and thus to accomplish thy destruction.

For the rest, dearly beloved, be thou strengthened in grace: increase in the same, and, by acts of true virtue, advance thou, even unto perfection.

Didst thou understand all these things, My Child?

8. The Voice of the Disciple.-----Yea, Lord. Would that I had understood all this before! Would I not then, after I had lost Thy grace, have wept and moaned more dolefully than Esau, when he had forfeited his birthright? For greater, beyond comparison, was my loss, and sustained too, for a far baser object.

Oh! had I understood all this, would I, for aught here below, have cast away so great a treasure?

Lord Jesus, would that I had never lost this greatest of all possessions! One thing, however, brings me solace, it is not yet too late; I may still enjoy the privileges of Thy grace, and thereby sanctify myself.
Thanks to thee, most sweet Jesus, for that Thou hast showed so great a mercy to me, so unworthy. The ineffable kindness of Thy Heart, I will not forget forever.

O Jesus! hereafter, grant me sooner to die than to lose Thy grace. By Thy most Sacred Heart, I beg and entreat Thee, hearken graciously to my petition.

Let others seek after silver and gold, honor and distinction, the joys of this world and its consolations: taught by Thee, O Lord, this alone do I desire above all else, to preserve Thy grace, and to increase therein all the days of my life.

CHAPTER II. WHY THE SON OF GOD WISHED TO BECOME INCARNATE

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, God alone it good. He is the supreme Goodness, supreme Wisdom, supreme Power, supreme Perfection.

What, then, can be better, or more perfect, than to follow and imitate God?

But, as God falls not under the senses, and men are inclined to sensible things, it was thought befitting that I, a Divine Person, should become man: that thus I might unvail to them an external form to captivate their senses, and induce them, in a more easy and pleasing manner, to imitate God.

The first men aspired after lofty things: they desired and endeavored to be assimilated to God, that, like gods, they might know good and evil, and they fell: they lost the good which they knew, and suffered the evil which they knew not.

But I wished to present Myself before men in such a form, that, without presumption, without danger, they might safely desire so to render themselves like unto God, as to be freed from evil, and to acquire what is good.

2. First of all, men were to be redeemed; and when their debts had been canceled, they were to be made free.

Heavy were those debts which weighed upon them. So greatly had they offended the Divine Majesty, that no mere creature, but God alone, having become man, could fully satisfy the Divine justice, and truly repair the honor of the Divine Majesty.

Miserable slaves of Hell, they lay cast down, and groaning, without having in themselves any means of bettering their condition. I pitied the wretched multitude; and came among them, with a Heart overflowing with mercy, to redeem them, and lead them to a sweet and holy freedom.

3. Heaven had been closed by sin, and, among created beings, whether in Heaven or upon earth, there was none able to open it again; had not I come down and unlocked it, no mortal could ever have entered Heaven.

Before My coming, God was indeed known in Judea, where some few served Him worthily; but only through the grace given to men in view of My future coming. Among the Nations, how very small was the number of those, who, co-operating with this grace, feared God, practiced justice, and were pleasing to Him!

In how great a darkness were the greater part of them heedlessly groping! In how deep, and how measureless an abyss of wickedness were they buried!

Nay more, even now,-----after the work of Redemption has been fulfilled,-----what kind of life do many men lead, in spite of the countless means of salvation! Through their own fault, ignorant or forgetful of Me, they roam in blindness, and wickedly rush to destruction.

What, then, should have become of the human race, unless I, the Word, had been made flesh? None could have attained to God, to supernatural beatitude.
 
But, by assuming flesh, I united in Myself the utmost degree of Divine greatness to the utmost of human lowliness, in such a manner, that, whosoever was willing, could, through Me, reach God and supernatural beatitude.

4. I came to glorify God, My Father; to make known to men His name and His love.

Of old the name of God, was the holy and dread Name of the Lord: now, the Name of God, is the holy and sweet Name of a Father.
 
The Old Law, was a Law of fear: the New, is a Law of love. God so loved men, that He gave His only-begotten Son.

And I, through love for My Father and for men, was incarnated by the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of love.

The whole work of the Incarnation, is, therefore, a work of love, but of a gratuitous love, of an infinite love.

5. I came from Heaven, and I return to Heaven, pointing out to all the way that leads thither, that where I am, they also may be who follow Me in this way.

I am the truth: I appeared shining in the darkness of the world, to enlighten every man that comes into this world, that everyone might surely and safely guide his steps on the journey.

I am the life: for this I came into the world, that they who were dead might have life, and have it more abundantly; namely, the life of grace on their way, and the life of glory in their heavenly country.

Yet, behold! even after man was born again to the life of grace, freed from the slavery of death; and after he had been taught by Me the way to his true country, weak and unstrengthened as he was he could not have been able to follow Me.

Great were his infirmities, My Child, great his faintness: but greater was the all-powerful Physician, greater the Divine remedy, which heals every infirmity, every faintness.

This remedy is manifold grace, the price of My sufferings, the gift of My Heart; which induces every man to long for health; strengthens him when healed, and helps him to follow Me.

When I came upon earth, I might have run My career more swiftly than a giant. But the multitude of those that were suffering so moved My Heart, that, loitering in their midst, I seemed, in some manner, to grow weak with them; and, going before them, I so smoothed the roughness of the way, so helped and cheered up every one, that, were they but willing, they could easily and joyously follow My footprints towards the kingdom of Heaven.

6. See now, My Child, how I have loved thee. These things I did for all in general, and for every one in particular as well: therefore, also for thee as if thou wert alone in the world, wretched and forsaken: and, as if I had come down from Heaven, to seek thee, to redeem thee, to save thee alone.

Wherefore, since I came down in this manner that I might be thy guide to My everlasting kingdom, follow thou Me.

In whatsoever condition, in whatsoever state thou mayst be, under all circumstances, propose to thyself My life, as the sure and safe way to Heaven.

Neither shouldst thou imagine that My outer life only is such, because My inner life is the principal.

My interior is My Heart: therein is found all glory: therein resides the principle of all virtues.

My Child, be not like the Jews, who gazed upon My outward appearance only, and considered not the feelings and dispositions of My Heart.

Do thou enter into the interior of My Heart: carefully examine the same, study It, be wholly busied therewith.

7. If thou feelest grateful towards Me, if thou lovest Me in return, thou wilt diligently search after whatever may be pleasing to My Heart, and thou wilt do it faithfully.

But thou must seek this in prayer, ask it by love, embrace it by love, perform it with love.

My Child, prayer is the key of Heaven: nay more, prayer is the key of My Heart. With this
key open thou and enjoy all the treasures of My Heart.

8. The Voice of the Disciple.-----Everlasting thanks to Thee, Lord God, Creator and Redeemer of mankind, for Thy gratuitous and exceedingly great charity, whereby Thou didst create us men, in so wonderful a manner, and didst restore us still more wonderfully.

O Christ Jesus! Who, unutterably existing from eternity, as the Son of God, through an excess of Thy love for us, wast willing to become the Son of man; who will not love Thee in return? Who will not cling inseparably to Thee? Who will not live solely for Thee, to Whom he owes his all?

O delightful consolation! O wonderful sweetness! to behold the Son of God, the Son of a Virgin!

I adore thee, O Jesus, Son of the living God, Thee made flesh of Mary! I hope in Thee, O infinite goodness! I love Thee with my whole heart, O most loving and most lovable love! Thou art my way: Thou, my truth: Thou, my life.

CHAPTER III. THAT OUR HEART MUST BE FULLY DEVOTED TO GOD

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, the first act of My Heart, after the Incarnation, was an act of love, whereby I devoted Myself completely to My heavenly Father.

There was in Me nothing which I did not consecrate with all My mind to My Father: nor was there aught in the Will of My Father, which I did not embrace with My whole Heart.

Even then did I practically say, in My inmost Heart: Behold! My Father, I come as the victim of Thy Will: at the head of the book of life it is written of Me, that I would do Thy Will: behold I have willed it, and the law of Thy good pleasure is in the midst of My Heart.

At the first moment of My life, My Father placed before Me all the toils and hardships, all the humiliations and sorrows, all I was to do and to suffer, even to the last breath of My life.
With a willing and perfectly devoted Heart, I received all and each of them, according to My Father's good pleasure:

And this inward disposition of My Heart, I cherished every moment of My life; by this was I ever pressed onward, so that I always did whatsoever was pleasing to My Father.

2. Behold, My Child, the model of a true devotion, that, taught by it, at the very beginning of thy career, in the way of virtue, thou mayst, in like manner, devote thyself with thy whole heart.

Nothing, perhaps, is of so much importance, in the spiritual life, as a true and entire devotion of heart. For, a heart that is not altogether devoted to Me proves that it lacks perfect purity.

If thou dealest with Me in a sparing manner, I will also deal with thee sparingly: but, if thou art generous toward Me, I will, in return, be generous toward thee, and I will ever excel thee in generosity.

If, with a liberal heart, thou devote thyself, and all thou hast, to Me, so as to em brace effectually My good pleasure in all things; I Myself will lead thee, safely and happily, through whatsoever may befall thee; I will even, in some manner, be obliged to save thee.
 
3. This perfect self-devotedness has ever been the beginning of holiness in all My Elect.

Those noble and generous souls deemed the greatest sacrifices of life as nothing; so that they consecrated and wholly devoted to Me whatsoever they possessed, whatsoever they were.

Therefore, too, did I show to them such liberality and bountifulness, that often, even during this mortal life,-----on account of the exceeding sweetness of consolation,-----they burst into tears, and whilst on earth, enjoyed a foretaste of that bliss, wherewith they were hereafter to be inebriated in Heaven.

Yet now very many of those that make profession of a great love of piety, are willing to be devoted, but only in things, and under circumstances, which are pleasing to them.

These are assuredly rather devoted to themselves than to Me. Wherefore, they continue to be slaves of self-love, and remain miserable and devoid of inward happiness; neither do they become disposed to the Divine union.

Thou, My Child, if thou wilt be truly free and happy, withdraw thy heart from every object except Myself; and give all thy affections to Me alone.

If thou canst keep thy heart perfectly devoted to Me, thou shalt be able to continue calm and undisturbed under all circumstances. For, every agitation of mind arises, not from passing events, but from a heart ill-inclined toward God's good pleasure.

And if thou desirest to attain to an intimate union with Me, thou must be free from all creatures, and wholly devoted to Me, in all things.

4. My Child, let not thy devotion be like that of many others, which is wholly exterior, satisfied with outward things alone, and, therefore, merely a semblance of devotion, not devotion itself. Let thy devotion be truly interior, which has its principle in a heart so disposed, that, with the Divine grace, thou art ready to resign thyself, unconditionally, to all My wishes, and to sacrifice all thou hast to serve Me.

Thy devotion, however, must pass over to outward things, since thou art a man, and not an Angel. And, as thou possessest a body and a soul, both My gifts, thou must with both honor Me and sanctify thyself. But let the things, which are outwardly seen in thee, overflow, as it were, from the abundance of the heart: thus shall thy devotion be solid, and thou shalt be a true follower of My Heart.

5. This devotion, My Child, is the effect of supernatural grace, which, enlightening the intellect, and moving the will, makes a person ready to comply, willingly, with everything that belongs to the service of God. To this devotion thou shalt never attain by any natural means, because it is itself supernatural, and is practiced by supernatural assistance. Unless, therefore, thou art aided by Divine grace, thou shalt labor in vain; even shouldst thou declare thyself devoted to Me, and appear so in thy own estimation. Pray, then, that thou mayst receive plentiful grace, and obtain the spirit of devotion. Thou shalt obtain it, if thou prayest well. All things are promised to prayer.

With the aid of grace, and the co-operation of thy own endeavors, true devotion,-----which to many, guided by self-love, is known by name only or appears a burden,-----shall be easy and sweet to thee.

Whether thou hast sensible consolations or not, thou wilt continue, in peace and with fruit, to transact thy affairs, to fulfill thy duties, and to be faithful to thy spiritual practices.

Without anxiety and solicitude, thou wilt repose in the arms of My Providence, as an infant on the bosom of its mother: and thou shalt be calm and contented in the various ways, through which I may lead thee to life everlasting.

6. The Voice of the Disciple.-----Lord Jesus, Who for my salvation, didst consume Thyself, and, as an evidence of Thy love, didst leave me Thy Heart, delivered up for love of me: grant me, I beseech Thee, the grace of a perfect devotion, that everything, except Thyself, being withdrawn from my heart, through love of Thee, I may become wholly Thine.

Relying upon the aid of Thy grace, which I humbly implore, I offer myself, with all my heart, to Thee, that I may be thoroughly devoted to Thee, to Thy service, and Thy interests.

O sweetest Jesus! receive me, all I am, and all I possess, as given and consecrated to Thee: grant me the spirit of holy devotion, that it may fill my heart with its unction; make piety tasteful to me, foster my love for Thee, render prayer sweet to me, and dispose me rightly for action.

Enlivened by it, I will continue ever joyous and constant in Thy service; I will gently draw my neighbor to Thee, and gladden the Angels and Saints themselves; yea, what is more excellent than all, I will rejoice Thy Heart, and fill It with delights.

CHAPTER IV.  THAT WE MUST BE TAUGHT BY THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS

1. The voice of  the Disciple.-----Come ye and see, all ye creatures! wonder and be astonished: Behold! God bowed the heavens, and came down, and lo! He dwells with us!

O infant God! O prodigy of love! O delight of the Angels, who came from Heaven, to gaze upon Thee reclining in this manger!

O Jesus, Son of God, born of a Virgin! how lovely! how sweet to me art Thou, thus become an Infant!

Wonderful indeed, in the Majesty of Thy Divinity: more wonderful, in the loveliness of Thy littleness.

Supremely worthy of love, in the boundlessness of Thy Divine perfections: ravishing all hearts by the excess of Thy childhood's sweetness.

Who, O infinite goodness! can here be satiated with gazing upon Thee, with loving Thee, with inebriating himself with the delightfulness of Thy Heart's love!

How sweet art Thou! O my Jesus! how sweet art Thou, besides what lies hidden within! what then must be Thy inner Spirit? A most exquisite one, assuredly, and sweet above honey.

2. The voice of Jesus.-----Yea, My Child, it is the Spirit of My Heart, that produces, that quickens these wonderful, these most delightful things.

This Spirit of Mine,-----that, by love, drew Me from the bosom of the Father into the bosom of the Virgin; and that, with so much sweetness, brought Me, the Only-begotten of the Father, upon earth,-----this Spirit ever pervades, directs, and leads My Heart, that whithersoever the impulse of the Spirit is, thither It may go.

The fullness of this Spirit dwells in My Heart: for, Whom God has sent, to Him He does not give the Spirit by measure.

Upon My Heart that Spirit reposes, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and fortitude, the Spirit of knowledge and piety, the Spirit of the fear of God, the Spirit of grace and prayer, the Spirit of love.

Such is the Spirit of My Heart; a supernatural, Divine Spirit, Who is charity, a love embracing all virtues.

This Spirit of My Heart, is love breathing love; gently and strongly leading, He directs to things perfect, moves to make sacrifices, allures to deeds heroic.

3. Blessed is he, My Child, who possesses the Divine Spirit of My Heart, and allows himself to be guided, in all things, by the same! For they who are impelled by the Spirit of God, the same are the sons of God.

Not appearance, nor profession, but the Spirit makes thee a true Disciple of My Heart.

What will all else avail thee, if thou dost not possess this Spirit? He that has not My Spirit, is not of Mine.

Without My Spirit, the things which I do, shall have no meaning for thee; thou wilt not rightly understand what I teach; nor wilt thou find a hearty relish, for what I enjoin. Thou canst know, understand, and enjoy the things, which are Mine, only insomuch as thou shalt be possessed of My Spirit.

If thou art endowed with My Spirit, My judgments shall be thy judgments: My sentiments, thy sentiments: the life of My Heart, the life of thy heart.

In this Spirit, every true Disciple of My Heart, views all things: by this alone, he judges of all things: by this alone, he acts, and is impelled.

Be, then, possessed of the Spirit of My Heart, and do whatsoever thou wilt: this Spirit will guide thee safely, and protect thee in all things.

4. This, My Spirit, has influenced all the Saints: Its unction taught them, Its virtues strengthened them, Its holiness shaped them.

See, what It taught the Apostles and Martyrs, the Confessors and Virgins: behold, to what degree It strengthened them: see how It formed them, so that, trampling upon the whole world, and forsaking themselves, some went to the tortures of death, as if they were hastening to a glorious triumph; others endeavored to equal the Angels themselves; others again, trod blamelessly the common walks of life: but all followed Me with cheerfulness, and kept themselves to the end, in My company, amid all the vicissitudes of earth.

What is there, which the Saints, incited by My Spirit, did not undertake? What did they not do, that, whilst sanctifying themselves, they might ever love and glorify Me, more and more, and, as far as they were able, bring all men to love and glorify Me?

These were perfect Disciples of My Heart; filled with My holy Spirit, they drew thence all their thoughts, regulated all their words, directed all their works, and shaped their whole life.

5. My Child, if thou desirest to learn this Spirit of My Heart, study My life, and meditate devotedly thereon; enter into the interior of My Heart, and affectionately examine and weigh Its sentiments: by Its fruits thou shalt know the same everywhere.

Dost thou not find My Spirit working in all, and in every mystery of My life?

What will it avail to know My Spirit, unless thou receivest of Its fullness? Pray then, My Child, pray fervently, that thou mayst be quickened by It, or obtain an increase of Its quickening.

If thou prayest, as it behooves thee, thou wilt doubtless receive It: for I have promised to give My good Spirit to them that ask.

The better, and the more thou prayest, the more thou shalt receive of the same, the more perfectly thou shalt know It, and the more easily thou shalt follow its guidance.

6. The voice of  the Disciple.-----O Jesus! of the fullness of Whose Spirit, Thy Disciples so receive, as to live thereby, send, I beseech Thee, the Spirit of Thy Heart into my heart, that It may quicken and guide me in all and through all.

Neither, as Eliseus asked Elias, do I beg that Thy twofold Spirit may dwell in me, since my little heart cannot even contain Thy single one; but I entreat Thee, replenish me wholly with Thy Spirit, expel from me forever the spirit of the world, and the spirit of self.

Grant that, in Thy Spirit, my heart may rightly relish that wherein Thy Heart delights; understand whatever It teaches; taste in a manner affective, as well as effective, whatever It does.

Grant me to live, hereafter, by Thy Spirit, not simply the life of nature, but of grace; not simply a human life, but one, in some manner, god-like, the life of Thy Spirit.

CHAPTER V. THAT OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS,
WHILST AN INFANT WE MUST LEARN HUMILITY

1. The voice of the Disciple.-----How, O Jesus! art Thou born for us a Child, and given to us an Infant! Art not Thou Who Art: is not this Thy name forevermore?

Who shall declare Thy generation! Behold! Thou art from eternity to eternity.

Who shall speak Thy power, or make known Thy other perfections? Through Thee, all things were made: by Thee, all are ruled: Thou fillest the heavens and the earth: and lo! in what a state do I behold Thee here!

  O prodigy! O miracle! God, behold! the infinite God, lies here an Infant, in this cave!

He emptied Himself, having become a Child, an exile in the midst of humiliations, unknown and contented.

How, O most sweet Jesus, how, I beseech Thee, wast Thou born a Babe, and given us as a Child?

2. The voice of the Jesus.-----My Child, I came to save that which we lost. So great was the fall of the human race that its restoration demanded such an humiliation of the Son of God.

Man had sunk into the abyss of pride: in lowliness I came down, and entered the abyss, to snatch him thence.

Before I came into the world, pride had so far darkened and corrupted the minds of nations, that they not only did not acknowledge humility as a virtue; but, on the contrary, deemed it weakness of soul, and were shocked thereat.

For when they knew God, Whose light is placed as a seal upon the human heart, they glorified Him not as God; they became vain in their thoughts and their foolish heart was darkened: they grew corrupt and abominable in their desires. Thus, well-nigh all flesh had corrupted its way.

What could be better, and more effective, to free the world from so great and baneful an error, than the example of a God, supremely wise and perfect, abasing Himself unto emptiness, thus confounding all human pride, and refuting forever its false reasonings and pretenses.

3. Pride, My Child, has ever been and will continue to be the source of all evils; but humility is the principle of all good things.

Truth begets humility, which is the virtue of virtues, and charity gives it life and form.

First of all, then, thoroughly know thyself and God, that thou mayst attribute to God the things which are of God, and to thyself what is thy own.

Take care, therefore, My Child, to understand what thou art of thyself. What art thou of thyself? What, except a mere nothing, out of which God created thee? This nothingness is thine own, but the being which thou art, is of God.

If thou thinkest that thou art something, whereas, of thyself, thou art nothing, thou deceivest, thou misleadest thyself.

What dost thou possess of thyself, by nature or by grace? In the order of nature, thou hast, indeed, the powers of the soul, the senses of the body, the gifts of the mind, the outward qualities of person. But whence did all these things, of what kind soever they be, come to thee? Whose are they? Take away that which God made, and gave to thee, and what remains, except nothingness? This latter again, is thine own, the former is of God.

In giving thee these things, He gave them for an end, that they might use them for His glory, and for thy salvation. If thou hast ever made use of all and every one of them, for that end, thou hast done what thou wast obliged to do. If, at any time, thou hast made an ill use of them, behold! beside thy nothingness, thou must claim also as thine own, ungratefulness, frowardness, and the mis-spending of God's favors.

Now, what art thou in the order of grace? My Child, is not this  a fathomless abyss? It is certain that of thyself, without the help of grace, thou possessest nothing which can promote thy salvation; thou canst do nothing to save thyself. Whatsoever, therefore, has hast of the supernatural order; what ever virtues, what ever merits, thou mayst possess; all these are the effects of grace, without which they could not have even been begun, much less brought to perfection. If, then, God rewards these things in thee, He does but crown His Own gifts.

It is, indeed, true, My Child, that to acquire these things thou didst co-operate with grace. But this very co-operation, if duly considered, what does it disclose? It is evident, by faith, that thou must one day give a strict account of every grace. For, thou art obliged to cause each grace to produce its fruit by thy co-operation.

Did not this consideration fill the very Saints with the lowliest sentiments? What thoughts, then, must it needs force upon thee, who so often ill co-operatest with grace, nay, even slightest it?

If thou art unable to count the shortcomings of thy co-operation with grace, ponder the number and magnitude of the debts thou hats contracted, by the neglect or ill use of the gifts of God, in addition to thine own nothingness, and powerlessness, in the order of grace.

My Child, if thou rightly considerest the obligation of co-operating with God's grace, and of making  a proper use of His gifts, even of those in the natural order; thou wilt understand, as the Saints understood it, that the more and the greater the favors thou didst receive, the greater reason thou hast for deeply humbling thyself.

4. But there are things worse and more humiliating hidden from the sight. See and examine thy manifold miseries, offenses, and sins: and weigh well, what thou hast justly deserved thereby.

Hadst thou received what is rightly due thee, shouldst thou not long since have felt the contempt of all the inhabitants of Heaven, of earth, and of Hell, and suffered everlasting degradation?

And if, perhaps, thou hast done naught on account of which thou deservest to be cast away, thou hast no cause to be elated. For, that thou wast thus kept from grievous faults, is not thy own, but chiefly the work of grace.

Nay more, by one venial transgression, committed against the infinite Majesty of God, thou didst deserve greater humiliations than the world can inflict upon thee.

5. What, then, My Child, what art thou? What compared with all men? Nothing more than a drop of water compared with all the oceans. And what are all men viewed in connection with all the myriads of Angels? Assuredly less than this earth is to the boundless heavens. And what are all the Angels in comparison with God Himself? Behold! they are as if they were not; because the difference is infinite. Now, compared with the infinite God, what art thou, a puny being, dwelling in a little corner of this globe?

What art thou, in truth, My Child, or what dost thou possess, to make thee proud? Yea, what hast thou for which thou shouldst not humble thyself?

I do not say these things to cause thee to blush, but to give thee warning, thee, well-beloved Child of My Heart, lest, misled by pride, thou fall away and perish.

6. To God alone be honor and glory, from every creature. He alone is truly and exceedingly worthy to receive empire, and power, and benediction, and praise, and supreme worship, forever and ever.

All the perfections seen in creatures, how excellent soever they may appear, are only darksome
rays of God's perfections, which are every way absolute and infinite.

Even had God not so commanded, His boundless perfections should have to be acknowledged and honored by every reason-gifted being.

Nay more, His Own glory is so essentially to be referred to God, that He Himself cannot be indifferent in its regard: for He alone is worthy of Himself.

7. Precious, My Child, is the knowledge of God and of thyself, for it reveals a great truth, most fit to humble thee. Yet this knowledge itself is not humility, since virtue consists not in knowledge but in affection.

Neither does the virtue of humility consist in humiliation, but rather in the love of humiliation. For, there is no virtue, unless there be affection, or motion of a good will.

How many there are who humble themselves, or are humbled by others, and yet are not humble! How many do outwardly give signs of humility, and yet keep pride within themselves.

In order that humility be a virtue, such as that of My Disciples ought to be, and that self-abasement be an act of such a virtue, it must receive its life and form from charity, or supernatural affection.

The virtue of humility is that supernatural affection which inclines and moves thee, always so to tend to thy proper place, that thou givest to God the things which belong to God, thanksgiving, honor, glory; and ascribest to thyself whatsoever is thine, nothingness and unworthiness of every kind.

Now, which is thy own proper place? O My Child, how deep, how terrible is that place which thou hast deserved! But see the love of My Heart! To console thee, to exalt thee, I became man, humbled Myself in thy stead, and assigned thee a better and more honorable place. Since that time, thy place is with Me.

But where shalt thou be with Me? Where shalt thou find Me? An Infant in the manger, exiled and unknown in Egypt, hidden at Nazareth, toiling and suffering in public, occupying the last place, and dying therein.

8. With Me, Child, thou shalt be far from pride, which is hateful to God and men, begets every sin, corrupts every virtue, despoils of merits, heaps up punishments, despises the example of My Heart, follows the footsteps of the devil.

Happy lowliness! blissful virtue, which makes thee find favor with God and men! For, whilst God resists the proud, He gives His grace to the lowly; and, whilst the proud themselves look down upon the proud, they admire the humble.

Humility is the first of virtues: no virtue is acquired without it. Humility produces all other virtues, nourishes them when produced, and preserves them safe and sound.

A noble virtue is humility, which makes man truly generous and great-souled. By its means he overcomes, not only what is more arduous, but he even conquers himself.

Whilst the proud man, with his narrow heart, fettered by the dread of humiliation, which may, perhaps, befall him, struggles with himself, shrinking back at one time, hesitating at another, whether or not to assail the difficulty placed before him; tile humble one, with a great and expanded heart, has already subdued himself, overcome the difficulty. and marches onward rejoicingly.

It is the virtue that inspires courage-----disposes the soul for the greatest deeds. For the humble man, overlooking himself, and relying upon God, exchanges his own strength, and puts on the strength of God, upon Whom he rests, and in Whom he can do all things.

He is an object of terror to the very demons.

These enemies dread the humble: no other mortals do they fear so much.

Lastly, it is a solid virtue, because it so strengthens man, that he is neither shaken by the sayings or doings of others, nor cast down by his own faults or miseries.

It is not, therefore, the virtue of humility, but its counterfeit, which renders thee fainthearted, timorous, or in any wise dejected. So noble a virtue does not produce such ignoble effects.

9. My Child, although humility is so just, so useful, so necessary, so excellent, thou shouldst notwithstanding know, that it is not according to human feelings, not to find one's delight in some object, but in all things to refer absolutely the whole glory to God,-----to attribute to one's self nothing except unworthiness,-----to be contented with Me in the lowest place, to embrace heartily whatever My Heart embraces.

Certainly, if thou consultest nature, it will shrink back from such things, and seek to avoid them.

Yet, if thou desirest to be a Disciple of My Heart, thou must not follow nature, but grace: and act, not according to the bent of thy natural feeling, but according to Divine love, whereby thou mayst imitate My Heart, even in spite of nature.

If thou dost this, it will be with thee as it was with the Saints, who tasted a sweetness exceeding nature, in humility, and found by experience that humiliations themselves were full of delight.

Secure for thyself, by prayer and meditation, the powerful help of grace, and, generously co-operating with the same, embrace humility with mind and heart,-----exercise thyself in it, until thou art able readily to reduce it to practice in thought, word, and deed.

My Child, be ever mindful of My example, and forget not My words. Behold! I, an Infant, give thee a new command, the command of My Heart: Learn of Me, that I am meek and humble of Heart.

10. The voice of the Disciple.-----O most sweet Jesus! O Infant God, Who didst empty Thyself by humility! Lo! the stable, wherein Thou dwellest, the darkness, wherein Thou art hidden, the very silence, that surrounds Thee, all cry out, how humble of Heart Thou art.

O Thou Teacher of humility! behold me prostrate at Thy feet, that of Thee I may learn that all-important virtue.

Enlightened and enkindled by the flames of Thy Heart, may I ever know Thee, ever know myself, that thus I may always and everywhere ascribe to Thee what is Thine, and to me what is mine!

Hitherto, I own it, I have never rightly understood the meaning of humility. Now I understand, now I see, that by the virtue of humility I am neither debased nor disgraced, but raised and ennobled; since by it I am elevated to the resemblance of Thyself, Who alone art eminently noble.

O most kind Jesus! givest Thou me a place near Thee! O Lord! I am not worthy. And yet, how did I ever seek any other place, as if I could find a better place than with Thee! Forgive, O Lord, forgive my ungratefulness, my injustice, my madness.

Henceforth, behold, I am forever with Thee.

Let them seek after higher places, who are anxious to be above others: for myself, as much as I am allowed, I will strive for the lowest, convinced that there I shall be with Thee. My only longing is to be with Thee: with Thee I will be contented wherever I may be.

CHAPTER VI. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, BORN IN A STABLE,
TEACHES US HOLY POVERTY

1. The voice of  the Disciple.-----For Thee, Lord Jesus, for Thee, my heart longs: Thee, my soul seeks, whom she loves. Show me, I entreat Thee, where Thou dwellest.

The voice of Jesus.-----Come, My Child, and see. This shall be a sign to thee: thou shalt find Me poor, in a stable.

Hearken thou, and give heed to what My Heart may speak to thee.

The foxes have their holes, the birds of the air have their nests: but the Son of man has nowhere to recline His head.

Yet, My Child, the whole earth is Mine, and the fullness thereof. But, behold! when I was the richest, I became the poorest of all.

From the time I was born needy in the stable, until I breathed My last destitute upon the Cross, I lived ever in perfect poverty, and as I ever loved it as My mother, so I ever honored it as a Son.
 
And for what reason, thinkest thou, with what design does My Heart so lovingly embrace poverty?

Undoubtedly, My Child, because My Heart, filled as It is with humility and charity, cherishes these virtues most tenderly, and desires most ardently, by their means, to draw the hearts of men from
things earthly and perishable, and raise them aloft to that which is heavenly and everlasting.

2. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven: blessed, for that they are free from the greatest obstacles to everlasting salvation: blessed, for that they possess a wholesome opportunity of practicing numberless virtues: blessed, lastly, because in their heart, they are conformed to Me.

 My Child, to have nothing, nay, even to be in want, is not the virtue of poverty: but to keep the heart disengaged from the created things of the world; this constitutes the true virtue of poverty. For love of Me, to bid farewell to all things of earth, to possess nothing as one's own, to cling with the heart to no created object, is the perfection of the virtue of poverty. To this latter all are not called, but to the former all and every one must tend, insomuch, that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for anyone without it to enter the kingdom of Heaven. For, unless a man renounce, with the heart at least, all things, he cannot be My Disciple.

3. There is nothing more wicked than the love of money, for this love perverts the judgment, and misleads the heart: and, since all things obey money, he that loves it, blinded by its inordinate desire, sets his own soul for sale, so that he is ready to sell this immortal gift for a perishable object.

The Saints used the things of earth, with a heart free from them; amid the greatest wealth, they were poor in spirit.

Yet, there are not a few who allow the enemy of man's salvation to deceive them, by the appearance of what is good or right. That crafty foe strives to persuade men that riches or the abundance of the good things of earth,-----as they are indifferent in themselves, and may be usefully spent,-----can be coveted and sought after without danger.

But, whosoever suffers himself to be so deceived, soon discovers, that he has become entangled in the snares of the devil's artifices, that he is weighed down by troubles, darkness, perverse inclinations; that, whatever his state of life, he is unable to attain to its perfection; and that, finally, he imperils, in no small degree, his everlasting salvation.
 
4. My Child, if thou hast riches, set not thy heart upon them: for thou art a steward, rather than a master. With a heart disengaged from them, either renounce them altogether, if such be the Divine Will, or use them for My glory, and for the real benefit of thy soul.

Thou must be so disposed that, if it be My Will, thou shouldst renounce all things, or, if I suffer thee to be deprived of them, thou do willingly submit thyself to Me.

If thou art poor, rejoice, My Child, and be exceedingly glad: and lose not the fruit of so great a blessing, by suffering, repiningly, the efforts of poverty.

Be not ashamed of being in moderate, or even destitute circumstances, for My sake, Who was not ashamed of becoming destitute for thee: but rather glory, for that thou possessest what I purchased for Myself, by many and great humiliations.

5. Whether thou art needy, or rich, cherish holy poverty, and practice a virtue so dear to My Heart and so advantageous to thyself.

There is, indeed, no condition of life in which this virtue may and should not be practiced: frequent opportunities daily present themselves everywhere.
 
This great virtue may be exercised in regard to one's dwelling-place, furniture, food and drink; in short, the whole manner of living.

For, in all these things, either something is wanting, which is not really necessary; or, if not, it is not according to the desires of nature; or something may, without danger, be withdrawn from what is had for nature's convenience.

If thou lovest holy poverty in thy heart, as is proper, thou shalt not want means and opportunities of practicing the same.
 
How many poor there are who do not gather any merit from their poverty, but use it to make themselves more wretched, and to offend God! Would that they were wise! Then, instead of bitterness, they would taste sweetness, and sanctify themselves.

6. The name of the poor in spirit, who love and practice poverty,-----whether it arises from necessity or free choice,-----is honorable before Me. With them, I hold fellowship and intercourse; their heart is like a fertile soil, which receives the seed of My words, and brings forth fruit a hundred-fold.

Who is happier than the possessor of holy poverty, who has whatever he desires in this world? Who is richer than he, to whom belongs the kingdom of Heaven?

Do not then, My Child, neglect thy sanctification, for the sake of gathering treasures on earth: use thy endeavors principally to sanctify thyself, and thus to lay up treasures in Heaven.

Wheresoever the object of thy affections may chance to be, where thy treasure is, there also will be thy heart.

7. True it is, that for man, left to himself, it is very difficult to despise in his heart riches, and to practice poverty in deed, and in affection.

Thou shouldst, therefore, pray fervently, that Divine grace may help thee to perform that, which thy own strength does not enable thee to accomplish in a meritorious manner.
 
If thou perceivest within thyself feelings opposed to poverty, persevere in prayer, and beg the more fervently, even against thy inclinations. that grace may not spare those inordinate feelings, but root them out completely, until thy heart is altogether free, and looks solely to the Will and glory of God.

My Child, if once the affections of thy heart are well-ordered, thou wilt find, through Divine grace, the virtue of poverty not only easy, but even full of sweetness.

8. The voice of the Disciple.-----O sweet Jesus, Son of God! Thou holdest and swayest the whole universe: Thou didst adorn the heavens with glittering stars: Thou didst embellish the earth with wonderful splendor; and behold! here Thou reclinest in a poor stable, a Babe hardly covered with tattered clothes.

O how marvelous, how salutary are the disposings of Thy Heart! Who will not, after so great an example,-----which ravishes the very Angels,----- consider poverty lovely and desirable!

Good Jesus, Teacher of the Truth, and model of holy poverty! enlighten my mind, that I may understand the price of this virtue, and tear away my heart, even in spite of itself, from every inordinate affection for things created, lest, busied with various cares and desires, it become estranged from Thee.

Grant, I beseech Thee, that I may look upon all the things of time as speedily vanishing, and upon myself as passing away with them to things everlasting; allow me the use of the possessions of earth, only insomuch as they are means to guide me to heavenly possessions. Everything is Thine, O Lord: if, then, Thou desirest me to live in opulence, as the steward of Thy possessions, Thy Will be done: if Thou desirest me to be in poverty, a perfect follower of Thy life, again Thy Will be done.

Yet, so far as it is left to me, and as it is pleasing to Thee, I choose rather to be poor with Thee, O Jesus, the Son of God, than to be rich with the world: I prefer to possess the lasting blessings of poverty, rather than undergo the ceaseless dangers of riches.

I offer myself, therefore, to Thee, most benign Jesus, as a companion of Thy poverty: I implore Thee as such to receive me. If with Thee, I am contented: if I possess Thee, I am rich enough.

CHAPTER VII. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS,
DWELLING IN SOLITUDE AMONG THE ANGELS,
TEACHES US HOLY CHASTITY

1. The voice of Jesus.-----Come, My Child, come to the solitude of the sacred Cave: here will I speak to thy heart: here will I unveil for thee the secrets of My Heart.

Here look around: attend to what thou perceivest: see, what surrounds Me: observe the objects which keep Me company.

The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord, I perceive Thy Virgin Mother, Thy Virgin Foster-father, a multitude of Angels, rejoicing and singing, in Thy presence, hymns of jubilee. I see Thee, O Jesus, most beautiful, the Lamb of God, without blemish!

I behold before me innocence far removed from every object that flatters the senses, ravishing Heaven and earth by its loveliness.

The voice of Jesus.-----Amid these, My Child, My Heart rejoices, and finds Its delight, because It feeds on purity among the lilies.

I am holiness itself. Born of a pure Virgin, nourished by a pure Virgin; I am the most tender lover of all purity, and shrink, with all My Heart, from every object which is hurtful or contrary to this virtue.

2. My Heart is the fountain of holy purity, whence all they draw, who desire to be loved by Me.
 
From this Divine fountain, all the Disciples of My Heart drink in the love of chastity, each one according to his capacity; and by this love, as by a certain mark, are they distinguished.

What is more excellent than chastity, whereby thou offerest to God the Father, Who is a Spirit, a spiritual sacrifice most grateful to Him; whereby, honoring thy body, thou honorest My Own members; whereby thou payest reverence to the Holy Ghost, Whose temple thou art?

This is the virtue which transforms men into Angels; yea, raises them above the heavenly Spirits.

My Child, whosoever is chaste, is an Angel: nay more, in merit, he surpasses the Angel, since, in spite of nature, he becomes through virtue, what the Angel is, without effort, by nature.

This is the glory of the Church, the triumph of grace, the flower of life, the ornament of the body and soul, the fairest picture of Heaven.

3. How beautiful is a chaste life! Immortal is the remembrance thereof; because it is known to God, and grateful to men.

A marvelous virtue it is, which imparts its freshness and beauty, not only to the soul but even to the body.

What the lily is among flowers, that purity is among virtues; by its celestial brightness and elegance, it delights and refreshes the very inhabitants of Paradise.

So much does its loveliness captivate all hearts that, even in the world, there is none, unless he
has altogether lost his reason, who does not admire its excellence.

4. Man, with a clean heart and chaste body, enters Heaven; passes even into the sanctuary of the
Divinity, and enjoys the familiar intercourse of God and His Angels.

The carnal man, like a senseless animal wallowing in filth, understands not the things which are of the Spirit, but finds his delight among sensual objects, the fruits of which are alike destructive to soul and body.

How wretched is he that is impure! how debased in the sight of Heaven and earth! how like in his interior to the demon, who is called the unclean spirit!

The world, submerged by the Flood, bears witness how this loathsome vice is punished; so does the land of Sodom, laid waste with fire and brimstone from above; so does every unchaste man, delivered up to his reprobate sense; so, above all, does Hell. Purity, on the other hand, saves from the tyranny of the passions, imparts a most delightful peace, fills the whole man with heavenly joys; yea, adorns him with the seal of the Elect.

5. Which, My Child, are the chief delights of My Heart? Are they not pure souls? These are they that by the purity of their love, fill My Heart with most pleasure; these busy themselves more frequently about Me; solicitous to know, how, above all others, they may render themselves agreeable to Me; these, being both inwardly and outwardly more holy, long more fervently to live for Me.

These are they that understand more easily the secrets of My Heart, enjoy with more relish the unction of My Spirit, are more glowing with piety, and are wont to be more generous and faithful.

To these My Heart, in return, communicates Itself more abundantly; upon them, It pours the streams of more perfect love and consolation; for them, It reserves more special graces and favors.

Them I admit into the innermost sanctuary of My Heart: with them I treat in a more intimate manner; them I keep nearer to Me upon earth, as well as in Heaven.

In whatever condition of life, therefore, thou mayst be, if thou wishest to be as dear as possible to My Heart: if thou desirest to experience the fullness of Its tenderness: if thou longest to taste, in the most copious manner, Its sweetness, be thou pure in body and soul.

6. My Child, this treasure thou carriest in a frail vessel; unless thou proceedest cautiously, thou wilt easily lose the same. Take heed, however, lest thou advance too warily for an excessive fear becomes a source of danger.

Thou must, first of all, guard thy heart, watch over its inclinations, check its thoughts. For, if thou allowest thy heart to wander about, it shall not long continue unstained.

Be never altogether idle: idleness is the dwelling-place of the unclean spirit.

Desire not to be too familiar with any mortal, even were he a Saint, or a worker of miracles.

Fly dangerous occasions, as thou wouldst a pestilence. How many there are, who, though elsewhere sufficiently secure, perish here miserably.

7. Turn away thy eyes, lest they behold the seductions of vanity; be modest: without modesty, chastity cannot endure.

Hedge in thy ears with care, lest, through them, the enemy find access to thy heart. For, where there is no hedge, the possession shall be laid waste.

Keep the tongue not only from unclean words, but also from all scurrility, and every kind of language, of which the devil may take advantage to tempt thee or others.

Restrain the taste in such a manner, that the temperance in food and drink hinder the flesh from rebelling, and endow and strengthen the spirit with vigor.

Mortify the touch assiduously, not only in those things which, when unlawfully touched, may cause thee to die the death, but also in those which, savoring of sensuality, may, by the aid of Satan, arouse the passions.

S. Be persuaded, however, My Child, that, after thou hast done all this, thou art not able to preserve this most precious, most beautiful, yea, most useful and necessary virtue, except with the help of Divine grace.

Wherefore, thou shouldst frequently and earnestly ask for this heavenly gift, and beg for it by fervent prayer, through the intercession of My Virgin Mother, My Virginal Foster-father, thy Guardian Angel, and, finally, of all the inhabitants of Heaven.

The enemy, knowing that, through purity, men become associated with the choirs of Angels, and merit among them that place which he, by his uncleanness, has forfeited, raves with envy, and leaves nothing undone, to despoil men of this virtue.

But let not thy heart fear, My Child, nor be disturbed; My grace is sufficient for thee, provided by neglecting the proper means, thou be not wanting to thyself.

9. Be exceedingly careful, lest thou expose thyself rashly to dangers; and, after having overcome temptations, do not ascribe the glory of the victors to thyself: for, since all this springs from pride, it will doubtless be punished with a disgraceful humiliation.

Through grace, thou shalt be the more chaste, the more humble thou art: for it is humility which deserves that chastity be given. My Child, be ever mindful of these words.

It thou wilt be perfect in the virtue of chastity, be inflamed with a god-like love for Me: for no one, unless he be perfect in the love of Jesus, can be perfect in chastity; but whosoever loves Jesus perfectly, shall be perfectly chaste, perfectly pure. Keep this secret in thy memory, keep it in thy heart.

10. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Jesus, Thou Virgin of Virgins! Whose Mother is a Virgin, Whose Foster-father is a Virgin, Whose inseparable companions are Angels; Whom when I approach, I am clean; Whom when I love, I am chaste: endless thanks to Thee, for that Thou didst keep my heart free from the love of all carnal pleasure, and didst enkindle it with the love of holy purity.

Ah, they that love Thee, behold! are hastening after Thee, drawn by the odor of Thy must delightful innocence, and, as closely as they can, they are following Thee, the Lamb, whithersoever Thou goest.

O Jesus, Thou lover of chaste souls! grant me, I implore Thee, for love of Thee, with all the Disciples of Thy Heart, to value supremely, to love most tenderly this virtue of Angels, and shun with the greatest abhorrence, all that is contrary thereto.

Sanctify my heart and body with Thy love, that I may serve Thee with a chaste body, and please Thee with a clean heart.

O Jesus, my love and my God! Who didst create me in Thy likeness, permit not that I ever sully or unhallow it by any defilement.

Suffer not, that for a short-lived pleasure,-----for which I must, either now or afterwards, endure shame and punishment,-----I lose that virtue, which is my present and future glory and felicity.

If ever, O most sweet Jesus, Thy love should find me insensible to the loveliness and the rewards of purity; I beseech Thee, let the dread of the everlasting flames of Hell, prevent the flame of vice.

CHAPTER VIII. THAT FROM THE MANGER, THE MOST
SACRED HEART OF JESUS TEACHES US HOLY OBEDIENCE

1. The voice of Jesus.-----Be attentive, My Child: thou must hear some things which thou hast never learnt, never sufficiently understood.

Learn once for all of My Heart, and remember what obedience is. Lo! from this moment even to My latest sigh, obedience is My food, My life.

Observe intently and devotedly My example; consider the dispositions of My Heart.

Behold, if they put Me in a rough manger, I remain contented therein: if they lift Me in their arms, I am content to be carried: wheresoever they place Me, there I stay contented.

Whatever be the wish of those whom My heavenly Father has given authority over Me, that do I will likewise: I have no other will than to will or not to will that which they will.

Neither does My Heart ask, why they will Me here or there: the judgment of the authority that wills, is the judgment of Myself Who obey.

2. Thus, My Child, did I, the All-knowing and All-powerful Lord, subject Myself most humbly to creatures, that thou, weak in understanding and will, mayst learn to submit thyself to them that
hold My place in thy regard.

Be, therefore, obedient to them, with a humble heart, in all things wherein they have authority over thee, whether it be in temporal or in spiritual matters. For all power is from God.

Wherefore, My Child, when thou obeyest thy Superior, thou obeyest Me. For thou art obedient and submissive to the authority communicated to him by Me.

3. If the Superior be devoid of virtue and good qualities, this is no reason why thou shouldst obey him the less. For he does not, on that account, the less possess My authority, and hold My place.

Whenever he enjoins things which are not evidently opposed to Me, heed thou, and perform
whatsoever he may say: but thou art not obliged to follow him in his doings.

Be not concerned, My Child, about the qualifications of the one that commands, but attend to that which is commanded: and perform it faithfully, as if commanded by Myself.

Let the Superior be whatever he may; let him act through this motive or that; what matters it to thee? follow thou Me: seek to imitate My Heart, My Will, and be not troubled or uneasy about the
rest.

4. The simple performance of another's will is not the virtue of obedience. Do not irrational
creatures do so? nay more, even machines made by the hand of man? It is necessary, when thou dost the will of the Superior, to be willing to perform with a submissive heart, that which he wishes thee to do; that thus thou mayst cheerfully carry out My Will, made known through the Superior.

For, although it may happen that the Superior does command through ill-will or passion, it is yet My Will that, when no evil is commanded, thou perform, with a good heart, what the Superior requires. For the rest, I will judge the motive of the Superior, who commands, and of the inferior, who obeys; and render to each one that which is just.

My Child, do not imitate them who, deceiving themselves, endeavor, by direct or indirect means, to bring over the Superior to their own will. These, although, in this manner, they have the will and consent of the Superior, do not fulfill My Will, but their own; nor do they practice the virtue of obedience, but they obey self-love; nor are they guided by Me, but by themselves.

5. In order that the virtue of obedience be perfect, it is necessary that,-----believing that whatever I require of thee through obedience is justly demanded,-----thou submit also thy understanding or judgment to My Divine authority, represented in the person of the Superior.

The less thou shalt see the reason of the things which are demanded of thee, and the more inconsistent that which is enjoined shall appear to thy manner of judging; so much the nobler shall be thy obedience, and so much the more merit shalt thou have, if thou submit thy understanding, and fulfill with a good will what is commanded.

Cast aside, therefore, without examination, whatsoever the pride of reason, or the repugnance of sense, may object, in the sincere belief that My Divine Will, made known to thee through the Superior, rests upon the best and most certain motives, although thou thyself dost not see them.

It happens, frequently, that the inferior does not see, and that the Superior does not know, the true reasons for which, by the Superior's command, I desire such, or such other things to be done by the inferior. Both are not rarely unconscious instruments in the fulfillment of My secret designs.

If thou wert humble of heart, and burning with love for Me, it would not be hard, or difficult, to abandon, for My sake, thy judgment and will; and it would be most consoling and sweet to have thy weak understanding guided by My infinite Wisdom, and thy will, prone to evil, conformed to My Divine. Will, the rule of all good. 
 
6. A great thing is obedience: a sublime virtue, whereby a person overcomes himself, and so dedicates himself wholly to Me, that he retains for himself nothing of his own, but offers himself entirely to Me, as a holocaust.

Do I desire other sacrifices without this one? Do I not rather require that I be obeyed? Better is obedience than a victim.

Who is stronger than the obedient man? The obedient man shall speak triumphantly; yea, shall triumph under all circumstances. For he aims at naught, except the doing of the Divine Will, which he always secures.

What is there, My Child, which the obedient man dares not? He dares everything, when commanded; he brings to a favorable issue many and great things, whilst the disobedient loses courage and fails.

7. Nothing is safer or more secure than obedience. The obedient person is never lost; nor does he perish who submits his will and judgment to authority. But he that disobeys, he that follows his own judgment and will, to the neglect of authority, he is generally lost, and perishes.

The obedient man, certain of the reward of his actions, shall not even be held to an account: they that are placed over him, and direct him, shall be obliged to give the account.

8. Lastly, My Child, so necessary is obedience, that no works, howsoever good they be otherwise, if contrary thereto, can be pleasing to Me; nor can they acquire for thee any merits.

There is no state, no condition, no person on earth, that is not bound to obey. Without obedience, the order which God, Who loves order necessarily, has established, could not be preserved. Wherever thou mayst be placed by obedience, be assured, that thou couldst nowhere be better; and that thou canst do nothing more pleasing to Me, and more useful to thyself, than that which is enjoined by obedience.

Blessed are the obedient! they hasten on toward Heaven, with true liberty, in great peace, in permanent security; hut the disobedient groan beneath the galling tyranny of their own will: they enjoy no rest of heart, through a wearisome road they wander toward perdition.

9. My Child, whence is wont to arise the difficulty in obeying? Is it not from this, that thou regardest the person of the Superior, his qualifications, his manner of acting, or his motives for commanding? That thou considerest not, in singleness of faith, as thou shouldst, the divine authority and Will alone?

Such an example, My Child, I did not give. Such was not the disposition of My Heart. Although I was wiser and better than all the mortals who exercised authority over Me, yet I was heartily submissive to them, without considering the persons or their qualifications, without judging the motives which made them act or command.

Nay more, I did willingly and faithfully obey, as if it were the manifestation of My Father's Will, the command of Caesar Augustus, a pagan, who issued his decree with an evil-minded will: and, by complying with this order, I did really do My Father's Will-----that I should be born in the city of Bethlehem, as the prophets inspired by the Holy Ghost had foretold. 

Observe My whole life: thou wilt find it frequently distinguished by similar deeds.

Look, then, My Child, and act according to the example which My Heart has given thee. If thou do this, thou wilt find obedience easy, sweet, and full of consolation.

10. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Jesus! how holy, how wonderful is Thy Heart! how great and profound the lessons It teaches! how easy It makes everything! Happy he that understands this!

Yea, blessed he that, taught by the example of Thy Heart, fulfills the Divine Will with cheerfulness!

 Behold, such a one is guided by infinite Wisdom, helped by almighty Power, protected by the Divine Goodness.

Who, save the obedient man, enjoys these favors? Let them preside and command who have received the power: for me, it is every way sweeter and better to be subject and obedient.

O truly happy me, if I am truly obedient! For the Lord God rules me, and I shall want nothing: set in a place of Divine pasture, I roam secure therein; there never-failing streamlets of living waters flow; there Manna is daily showered down from Heaven; there do I live for Thee, O Jesus; there do I surely and contentedly merit Heaven.

By Thy most holy obedience, O Jesus, most meek and humble of Heart, grant me, I beseech Thee, Thy grace and Thy love, that I may be perfectly obedient, by renouncing my own will and judgment, and by following, in singleness of faith, Thy Divine Will and authority, manifested to me through lawful Superiors.

Certainly, if I, blind-born as I am, follow self-love as a guide, what else awaits me, blind in my judgment and inclinations, except to fall into the pit and perish there?

I tremble in every limb, O Lord, when I call to mind that many men, distinguished for deep science and extraordinary human prudence, through want of obedience, have strayed from the way of salvation and become reprobates.

Behold, I devote and intrust myself altogether to Thy most wise, holy, and Divine Will. Give me, I entreat Thee, Thy singleness of understanding, Thy readiness of Will: grant me the lowliness and charity of Thy Heart, that I may be like Thee, as an infant that remains contented, wheresoever it may be placed, whithersoever it may be carried; in short, in whatsoever manner it may be treated.

CHAPTER IX. THAT AT THE CIRCUMCISION, THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS
TEACHES US MORTIFICATION OF THE HEART

1. The voice of Disciple.-----Scarcely yet art Thou come among us, O Thou the delight of Heaven, sweet Jesus! and behold! Thou pourest out Thy Blood! Disclose to me, I pray, what was the design of Thy Heart therein: show me, I entreat Thee, what were then the feelings of Thy Heart. For, whatsoever, Thy Heart feels, I also long to feel.

The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, thou oughtest to be so disposed, as not to stop at the things which thou perceivest by the senses; but so as to go forward even unto My very Heart.

Attend then, and consider how mortified is My Heart. I knew well that I was not at all bound by the law of Circumcision; that, by complying therewith, I should be reckoned among sinners, lowered before men; that My Body should undergo sufferings, and My Soul debasement; but My Heart, moved by the Divine Will, enkindled by love as with a living flame, overcame all this.

Understand, My Child, the inner sentiments of My Heart, and be mindful of putting on the same.
 
All things were well-ordered in My Heart; there is naught inordinate in My whole Humanity. Yet, I did never act from a mere inclination of My human nature.

This I either overcame or passed by, and in all things, even those which were natural, I acted ever from a supernatural principle.

Whether the things, to be done or undergone, were pleasing or displeasing to the feelings of human nature; this was never the cause, or reason, why I did either embrace or shun them.

I was ever moved by the Divine Will to do and suffer, with a willing Heart, all things that were according to the Divine good pleasure.
 
2. Behold, My Child, the example which thou must follow, if thou desirest to be a true Disciple of My Heart.

If thou lookest well into thy heart, thou shalt find it divided, as it were, into two parts, each of which is anxious to sway it.

One of these, a sensual propensity, is called the inferior; the other, a rational inclination, the superior part. The former is especially vitiated by Original Sin: the latter is still guided by a supernal ray.

With the first, the spirit of evil is wont to harmonize; the good Spirit, on the other hand, espouses the cause of the second.

The inferior part struggles to extend its sway over the whole heart, and maintain it by means of pride and self-love, the leaders of all other vices.

The superior part, through humility and charity-----which preside over the whole host of virtues-----desires, with perfect justice, to rule, to conquer and subdue, as its foe, the part opposed.

3. These two parts, My Child, are the two domestic enemies that hardly ever cease to war against each other, whose aims are opposite,-----that can be put down and subjugated, but never destroyed or exterminated.

The superior part, through the Divine favor, by the freedom of its will, possesses such strength that not only the inferior part, but the whole world and all Hell united, cannot force it to a surrender.

Therefore, the inferior part, together with the evil spirit, endeavors, by every possible means, to encompass, to disturb, to deceive, to worry the same. It tries every artifice: at one time violence, at another caresses; now perverseness, then uprightness; sometimes it shows itself an enemy, at others a friend.

Unless thou do carefully attend, thou wilt hardly be able to distinguish between them. Yet it is necessary to know them distinctly. For on this discernment depends the right governing of the heart; by it illusions are avoided, vain fears are made to disappear, inward peace is preserved and retained, even amid the greatest afflictions.

The more one part is mortified and subdued, the more the other is made to live and triumph.

4. The first thing, therefore, to be deadened in thy heart is that inferior part, the inordinate craving of nature, which is also called selfishness, or the spirit of nature. Against this thou must never cease to fight.
If, at any time, this enemy, frightened by thy bravery, be put to flight, or forced to conceal himself----until a more favorable opportunity presents itself----do thou diligently seek him out, and, when found, strike him down with fresh ardor.

Thou wilt know him by this mark, that he ever aims immoderately at what is either too high or too low, being ever carried off by an inordinate liking, or dislike, beyond the order which Divine Providence has established.

On the one hand, proud and wandering beyond his sphere, and relying on his own powers, he would fain search and look into the insearchable counsels of the Diety; and, although he does not fully comprehend aught of what is beneath him, yet, he would measure, by his own dullness and imbecility, the Wisdom, Power, and other perfections of God, which, in their very nature, are incomprehensible.

He struggles against admitting, what he does not both see and love.

He is ashamed and unwilling to own that he has erred: if it is proved, he grows stubborn, he seeks to be prominent; he shrinks from the thought of being surpassed, or brought under in anything.

He takes for granted that he can do everything: if he has brought something to a prosperous issue, he is wonderfully self-pleased, and boasts as if he had performed a miracle: has he done aught unsuccessfully? he murmurs, excuses himself, or throws the blame upon others.

He is not concerned about what he is in reality, but about what he may appear to be before others: he seeks to be esteemed: he is anxious that others should speak of him: he longs to possess the affection of men.

He gains enough, if he is praised: if no one praise him, he himself makes up the deficiency.

In himself, he either sees no faults, or he disguises them: in his neighbor, he descries them everywhere.
 
He is prone to despise others; to suspect many things, and to twist them into evil.

Hence, on the other hand, he is ever inclined to what is low: what pleases the flesh, what flatters the senses, what savors of the world, he loves, he relishes.

He judges matters according to his own propensity, not according to the reality of the things themselves.

As he has himself for an end, he seeks in everything his own convenience or pleasure: he even endeavors betimes to adapt things Divine to himself. For he undertakes occasionally to serve Me, whilst he desires to gratify himself.
 
Wherefore, he easily gives admittance to the Angel of darkness, who, taking the shape of an Angel of light, suggests to him many things apparently pious, beautifully thought, tenderly felt: all which increases his pride, and keeps up his self-love.

5. My Child, if this spirit of nature triumphs over the heart, it effects the ruin of the heart.

It behooves thee, therefore, to deaden this part of the heart, by resisting it, by going counter thereto, and by unceasingly repressing the same, as long as it remains vitiated or ill-ordered.

Do not think this hard, My Child: it is incomparably more easy and pleasant to subdue the same, and govern it when subdued, than to be ruled and tormented thereby.

6. But, since natural reason cannot, by itself, attain to a supernatural end, thou must likewise, by mortification, purify and elevate the superior part of the heart.

For, if thou actest from natural reason alone, thou canst thence gather no merit for life everlasting; nor wilt thou be called a Disciple of My Heart.

Thou must, then, mortify the whole heart, and subject it to grace; so that, in all things, it obeys the Divine good pleasure.

In thoughts, in words, in deeds, in sufferings, thou shouldst be moved by Divine grace, guided by a supernatural reason, directed to Me as thy end. Nowhere suffer thyself to be hurried into any
act, by the mere motion or impulse of nature; but follow grace, act according to My Spirit.

Use the powers of nature, not as causes or principles, but as means or instruments for things
supernatural.

7. This mortification of the heart-----which is the rule of the interior life, and the spirit of the Saints-----is that more useful and necessary mortification, whereby the roots of vices are plucked up, the dangers of temptations avoided, the very causes of inward troubles removed.

This holy mortification is to be practiced, not with fretfulness, harshness or anxiety, but with a tranquil and generous heart.

Now, My Child, in thy heart there are things so great and numerous to be mortified, and they lie so hidden from thee, that, unless enlightened by grace, thou couldst not so much as see them; and when thou seest them, unless strengthened by grace, thou mightst be overpowered by the sight of them.
Wherefore, thou must have recourse to prayer without intermission, that thou mayst obtain light and strength from above.

Then will I-----knowing that, as yet, thou art unable to bear the knowledge of all the imperfections of thy heart-----so gently order things, that thou mayst know and overcome them by degrees, since I will proportion the grace of strength to the grace of light.

And thou, My Child, must unremittingly be on thy guard, lest thou shut thy eyes to this light sent from above, or neglect to co-operate with this heaven-given strength. For this might be the beginning of thy downfall.

Be faithful: allow thyself to be led by grace in all and to all; and thou wilt experience such things as the Saints have experienced, whereby thou wilt doubtless come to My Heart, and God shall be exalted, and thou shalt be made holy; the more perfectly, the more closely thou shalt become assimilated to My Heart.

8. The voice of the Disciple.-----O most kind and sweet Jesus! how great is the goodness of Thy
Heart! Even to me unworthy, Thou hast made known the way of the interior life, wherein all the Saints walk with Thee.

Behold! my heart is ready to follow Thee in this holy way: guide me in truth, and teach me to do Thy good pleasure.

Too long have I followed the motion of nature: too long have I acted by natural propensity or aversion: I have led altogether too much of a natural life.

Grant me, I beseech Thee, Lord, to live henceforth by grace; to follow Thy Spirit in whatever I may have to do or suffer.

Grant that my heart, created by Thee, ransomed by the price of the Blood of Thy Heart, endowed by Thee, at its every pulsation, with new favors-----may at last, disengaged from creatures, soar to Thee, live for Thee alone, love Thee alone above all else.

CHAPTER X. THAT AFTER THE EXAMPLE OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS,
ADORED BY THE MAGI, WE SHOULD OVERCOME ALL HUMAN RESPECT

1. The voice of Jesus.-----Behold! My Child, the Magi had come from the East: and, entering the Cave, they found Me, an Infant, with Mary, My Virgin Mother.

Observe My Heart, and imitate Its disposition. Such as It was in the presence of My Own, such It is before strangers; as It was before shepherds of the lowest estate, so It is before Magi of the highest rank: I was not ashamed of the lowliness of My Birth, the obscurity of My condition, the practice of every virtue.

In this, My Heart does not regard the judgments of men, but, setting aside human respect, It pursues the things that please My Father.

2. Happy he, that imitates this fortitude of My Heart; that, with his heart undaunted, overcomes human respect!

For as My heavenly Father confessed Me, because I confessed Him; so, whosoever shall confess Me before men, him also will I confess before My Father.

But woe to him, that shall be ashamed before men of Me, of My teaching, of My example! Of him will I also be ashamed before My Father, the Angels, and men themselves, when I shall come in Majesty to judge.

3. What fearest thou, O man? Does not reason itself tell thee, that honor is due to virtue, dishonor to vice? why then dost thou dread to practice virtue, as if thou thoughtest it a disgrace?

Behold! beside God, none witness thy actions except Angels and men. Now, pray then, which of these shouldst thou mind?

The good Angels-----if thou boldly avowest thyself My servant-----will joyfully extol thy greatness of soul, and pray for the continuance of thy fortitude. And men, as well as the Saints in Heaven, as the wise and good upon earth, feeling similarly disposed in thy regard, will act in like manner.

Yea, the reprobate Angels, and foolish and wicked men, will admire thee, at least inwardly, in spite of themselves, although outwardly they speak against thee, to hide their own faint-heartedness and cowardice. Oughtest thou to heed the false judgments and idle talk of these? Wouldst thou be reckoned among these, and become a partaker of their lot?

Were all men to talk about thee, wouldst thou be different from what thou art? Thou art just what thou art before Me, My Child; nor can the tongues of all creatures make thee greater or smaller.

4. Who is he that can be pleasing to all? None; neither could I Myself obtain this. Do not, then, attempt what is impossible.

Strive to please Me, as much as thou art able; and, in this holy endeavor, care not for what the world may think concerning thee.

If thou art still guided by a regard for men; it is plain that thou hast not yet learnt humility and charity of My Heart.

Whosoever is humble of heart, and impelled by Divine love, desires not to please men; nor fears he to displease them, when he cannot otherwise satisfy Me.

Neither stands he in dread of the judgments and scoffs of the world, but he keeps his countenance, and goes his way; and, if My honor requires it, he utters his opinion with a holy freedom.

He does nothing that he may be seen, he omits nothing through fear of being seen: he cares naught whether he be praised or blamed by a foolish world; whether he be esteemed much or little.

The world is for him, as if it were not: Me alone he has in view, since he knows that to Me everything is due; to Me he loves to refer all, by whom alone he can and will be approved and rewarded as he deserves.

But it is no wonder, that whosoever gratifies pride and self-love, becomes the slave of human respect.
For surely none is more a slave, than he that is swayed by human respect; since he has as many masters, as he sees men.

Meanwhile such a one will do nothing worthy of Me-----worthy of his own perfection.

5. My Child, wheresoever thou mayst be, whether living in the world, or secluded from the world, beware of human respect. This vice is met everywhere, not only among people of the world, but even among religious: from the world it enters into the sanctuary, and there it stands an abomination in the Holy of Holies.

Many, deceiving themselves, under the semblance of charity or prudence, yield to human respect: and were they to look properly into themselves, they would discover, that it is not the virtue of charity or prudence, but the vail of timid pride and self-love.

The voice of the Disciple.-----Yet, Lord, is it proper always and everywhere, publicly to proclaim virtue, and to profess it openly? If so, I pray Thee, how is this to be done? if not, what rule should be followed?
The voice of Jesus.-----Sometimes, My Child, it is not expedient rashly to expose piety; but never and nowhere is it allowed to betray piety.

In the practice of virtue, it is a sure and safe rule, to consider not one's own, but the Divine honor; not to neglect the open profession of virtue, simply to avoid thy own confusion; but to omit its open profession, when My honor or glory might suffer in consequence.

6. In general, My Child, in whatever place thou mayst be, if, inasmuch as this rule allows, thou beginnest at once openly to practice virtue, it will not only give Me great honor, but also prove very advantageous to thyself. For thus the good and the wicked, as well as the fervent and the lukewarm, shall know thee; the first will seek thy company, and sustain thee: the last will let thee alone, and not ensnare thee.

If any there be who do find fault with thy conscientiously free and noble-souled deportment, be not, therefore, troubled or cast down; but call to mind, that if, to the in jury of thy conscience, thou didst still seek to please men, thou shouldst not be the servant of God, nor a Disciple of My Heart.

Besides, what would it avail, to be blamed by none, and to be pleasing to all? Couldst thou in the end be defended by mortal man, when I will be thy Judge? or couldst thou be saved, whilst I condemn thee?

What will be the feelings, after death, before Me, their Judge, of those cowardly souls, that, through human respect, placed during life the opinions of a foolish world before My judgments, and betrayed My cause?

Alas! how many reprobates has human respect made, whose lot, had they spurned it, should now be among the Saints!

7. Believe me, Child, it is every way better to regard My judgments, rather than those of men: if thou art pleasing to Me, that is enough for thee; to please men alone, is simple vanity, mere mockery.

Cheer up thy courage, My Child, look down upon the false sayings of men, that fly through the air, and only reach those who grasp them for themselves.

If thou dost once fully learn to raise thyself above every human respect, thou wilt hardly be again annoyed by it, and, thyself consistent, thou wilt pity the madness of the world, and the silliness of men, who suffer themselves, in so slavish a manner, to be dragged to destruction.

And when thou hast come to this, that thou art no longer moved by any human respect, then, freed from a very great hindrance to salvation and perfection, thou shalt safely advance in the way of virtue.
 
8. The voice of the Disciple.-----How true, how holy a doctrine Thou teachest, good Master, sweet Jesus! Help me, I entreat Thee, to reduce it to practice.

I am justly ashamed, Lord, of my past cowardice, my faint-heartedness. Often did I blush or fear to do what my heart approved as good and worthy of honor: on the other hand, I did not blush to give way to human respect, which it acknowledged to be evil and unbecoming.

From a base fear of men's opinions, I have frequently betrayed Thy interests and Thy holy service, and thus rendered myself deserving of great shame and punishment.

Have mercy on me, my God, and forgive my offenses, whereby, through human respect, I have turned away from Thy Will, and chosen rather, despite my conscience, to follow the opinion of the world.

But now, mercifully recalled and taught by Thee, behold! I am resolved to follow Thee, the sole guide to eternal blessedness.

Let worldlings continue to call good, evil, and evil, good: let them still estimate honor by the changeable and worthless opinion of deluded men: let them still feed on vanity; from Thee I know, and hold with certainty, that to cleave to Thee, is unchangeably good; that to follow Thee, is truly honorable; that to enjoy Thee, most sweet Jesus, the fountain of life and of all good things, does really constitute bliss.

CHAPTER XI. THAT OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, PRESENTED IN THE TEMPLE,
WE SHOULD  LEARN TO HAVE IN ALL THINGS A RIGHT INTENTION

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, when the days were accomplished, that they should present Me to the Lord, I offered Myself and all I had, to My heavenly Father, with a pure desire of pleasing Him.

Although, at My Incarnation, I had forever consecrated Myself and My whole life to My Father yet, I never omitted to dedicate to Him every particular action of My life, and keep in view His good
pleasure.

But, since a good intention is a matter of such importance in the interior life, that no one can be a true Disciple of My Heart without it, My Heart did not cease to show, teach, inculcate this by Its example. 

Look at My life from its beginning unto the end: did My Heart anywhere please Itself? Did It seek the glory of the world?

In all My life, Child, can be found no act arising from the mere impulse of human nature, none from mere custom, none from mere necessity, none, finally, whether great or small, which did not spring from the motive of fulfilling the Divine Will, of pleasing the Divine Majesty.

2. How happy he that has put on this sentiment of My Heart! he is ever useful to himself, ever dear to Me, his Saviour-God.

What is that which is acceptable to Me? The inward affection, rather than the outward act; the intentions of the heart, rather than the fulfillment of the work. What do I reward forever? The fruit of grace, whereby thou art moved to act, and wherewith thou co-operatest, not the effect of nature-----whereby thou art stirred up, or which thou followest.

My grace moves the Will to do whatsoever things are by Me directly or indirectly commanded or desired. These I wish to be so done, that they be supernaturally good and meritorious: wherefore, to
do them, I give an actual grace, without which they could not be supernaturally good and meritorious. If, then, thou art induced to act by My Will or good pleasure, know, that thou art moved by grace, a supernatural principle.

But the end or intention of thy will forms the species of the act. Such as is thy intention, such will be the act that follows.

If thou hast a right intention, thou wilt, before and above all, intend and seek My good pleasure, Me-----thy end and supreme Good.

It sometimes happens, that the primary intention of all action is right, but that a wrong secondary intention creeps in. When this occurs, the goodness of the action indeed is not wholly destroyed, but is lessened in part: and the actor becomes guilty of so much, as there has been of ill-regulated or evil will, in the vitiated intention.

Behold! My Child, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end: therefore, all things must be derived from Me-----be referred to Me.

If, then, thou wouldst be blamed, when thou dost not refer them to Me; how much more so, if thou turnest them aside to thyself, or to My enemy the world?

3. A precious thing, a wonderful virtue, My Child, is a right intention, whereby actions, although natural and indifferent in themselves, when done by means of grace, become, supernatural and meritorious. A marvelous secret, whereby lead, and brass, and other metals, are changed into pure gold.

Beware, however, lest thou fall into that quite common delusion which makes men fancy that, by substituting a good intention, they can render meritorious a work or action undertaken, not by grace, or by My Will, but from the sole motive of nature, aversion or inclination, or from self-will alone.

Follow thou, with a right aim, everything begun according to My good pleasure.

Of what avail is a work, how great or praiseworthy soever it may outwardly appear, to him that does it without a right intention?

On the other hand, that which is done with a pure intention, how little and lowly soever it may seem, becomes excellent, and altogether beneficial.

4. Would that men knew and practiced this art of acting rightly! How easily could they merit a bright crown in Heaven!

There are those who work much and gain little; who busy themselves about everything; who attempt many and various things, but, in the end, find themselves with almost empty hands; because, like irrational creatures, they act without an end, or pursue an end ill-ordered and unworthy.

How many there are, who exchange the fruit of their labors for an empty breath of praise or admiration; wherewith they ever long to feed their weary and hungry heart!

Behold! how many there are, who make so much of the smoke of vain glory, that they buy it at a price by which they might purchase for themselves the kingdom of endless glory.

Is there not an endless number of such madmen: Take heed, My Child, lest thou be reckoned among them.

There are others who appear to be doing little, and yet deserve to become very holy; these are they who think, that he does enough, who does the Will of God.

5. My Child, when thou devotest thyself to Me in exercises of piety, thou must place, even above these practices themselves, the intention of doing My good pleasure. Thus, whether thou feel est consolation or desolation, thou shalt remain calm, gather certain fruit, and honor Me.

If thou art engaged in works of duty or charity toward thy neighbor, let Me be the end of those works; for thus it will happen, that thou shalt never fail of thy reward, and that thou shalt lose nothing of thy peace-----whether thy neighbor be or be not improved.

If thou hast in view no other object except My sole good pleasure, thou shalt be contented and happy in every event; because thou knowest that I do not demand of thee, and will not crown in thee, aught save only thy good efficacious will; and that success depends upon Me, Who orders all things according to infinite Wisdom.

By means of a pure intention, thou art enabled to remain undisturbed and tranquil amid hardships, distresses, yea amid temptations themselves; for, since purity of intention raises thee before Me above sensible things, thou needest not to be annoyed by what thou feelest against thy will.

Finally, My Child, whether thou art in action or at rest, whether thou laborest or divertest thyself, whether thou art watching or sleeping, whether thou eatest or drinkest; whether, in short, thou art doing aught else, do all things, to follow My good pleasure, to be acceptable to Me; and, behold! a great and ever-increasing amount of merits will accrue to thee.

6. In the morning, thou must daily make a general intention, whereby everything to be done or
suffered during that day, is directed to this last end, that, for love of Me, thou mayst accomplish My Will, and thus please Me. This good, this holy intention, will give life to all things that follow, and will virtually continue to add vigor to them.

It is also of the greatest importance to renew, during the day, thy good intention before every action; nay more, when it can be done conveniently, to renew the same during the action.

But to do all things with a right end, it will be of very great help, to foresee occasions of meriting, dangers of losing-----virtues to be practiced, snares of pride and self-love to be avoided.

One and the same action may be directed to several and different proximate ends, which, directly or indirectly, tend to the salvation of thy own soul, or of thy neighbor, or to My honor. Whence thou mayst acquire a great treasure of merits, of which they, who act with no aim of this kind, are deprived.

Moreover, every action may be made up of several virtues: as thou practicest as many virtues as
thou intendest, and as to every act of virtue corresponds a new degree of present grace and future glory, it is easy to see how important a matter is this holy intention.

But, My Child, thou must take care that these things be not done with anxiety, with injury to inward freedom, or with the loss of peace: for, so far from being useful, they would, on the contrary, be hurtful.
Remember, lastly, that, inspired by the spirit of the same intention that animated Me, thou oughtest to unite all thy actions and sufferings with Mine, if, as a Disciple of My Heart, thou art desirous of acting in a manner worthy of so high a vocation.

7. My Child, vain self-love is so subtle that it can easily assume any shape, and thrust itself into all things.

Whence it will happen, that, unless thou be cautious, thou mayst be animated and led by that spirit of self, rather than by My own. Nor does human light or prudence suffice to distinguish this, since neither can, of itself, discern things supernatural; but a light from above, and the Divine assistance are needed.

Wherefore, thou must pray without ceasing, that thou mayst be enlightened from Heaven; and beg
fervently that thou mayst be helped by grace, whereby thou art enabled to tend, rightly and singly, above all things to Me.

8. The voice of the Disciple.-----I pray and beseech Thee, Lord Jesus, Author of all good, give Thou light to my mind, love to my heart, strength to my whole being, that I may ever rightly accomplish what is pleasing to Thee.

Grant me true earnestness, a holy intention, that, in all things, I may do Thy good pleasure, without turning to the right or to the left.

Suffer not that, henceforth, I be so foolish as to lose the merit of my actions, for the sake of grasping an airy phantom; nor so undutiful as to snatch away the glory which belongs to Thee!

Pour into my heart, I implore Thee, the purity of Thy Heart, that I may, above all else, direct my thoughts to Thee, find Thee, and repose in Thee my God, my beginning and my end, the centre and rest of my soul.

CHAPTER XII. OF THE FREEDOM OF HEART, WHICH THE MOST
SACRED HEART OF JESUS,  IN HIS FLIGHT INTO EGYPT, TEACHES US

1. The voice of Jesus.-----Bebold, My Child, king Herod sought Me, a Child, that he might put Me to death. But Joseph, warned by an Angel, took Me and My Mother, by night, and retired into Egypt.
 
The unseasonable hour of the night, My tender age, the condition of My parents, the abandoning of My native land, the dwelling in a foreign country, the tarrying among infidels, whose manners were contrary to Mine, the poverty and obscureness of My life, drudgery and hardship, everything in fine, was suited to render the heart cheerless.

Yet, amid all this, My Heart remained so free, that neither time, nor place, nor men, nor any created objects whatsoever could render It captive.

2. My Child, strive, by every means in thy power, to imitate this holy freedom of My Heart.

My Heart, elevated above the reach of all else, was restrained by the good pleasure of My Father alone.

So also should thy heart, raised above all created objects, be held by the Divine Will alone.

The greatest freedom to which the heart of man can aspire is this, to be dependent upon no one, except its God.

This is that true, that perfect liberty, whereby man is nobly exalted, and elevated above his very Superiors, through whom, as the organs of God, he is pleased to have My Will made known.

Whosoever possesses this freedom is raised above every created power, above all the whims and fickleness of men-----above all the casual events of times, places, and circumstances; in so much, that, unless he betray himself, he can be enslaved by no created object.

But none can gain this privilege, unless he wholly devote to Me his heart, disengaged from every creature.

For, so long as thou inordinately desirest or fearest aught, so long will thy heart be fettered and embarrassed.

Thy heart will be a slave, so long as it follows its natural inclination in either direction, or seeks in anything, even in what is good, itself as its end.

There are those who, released from sin and the world, endeavor to be also released from themselves, that they may freely live for Me: who yet sigh in My service, as under a heavy yoke; because they suffer themselves to be insnared by a delusion, whereby they fancy Me a troublesome ruler, or a harsh master, ever bent on discovering something to punish.

These, assuredly, do Me great injustice, deter their neighbors from My service, and render them selves wretched to no purpose.

3. Am I not a Father? Where is there a father's heart like Mine? Who then is so much a father, as I am? A Father infinitely wise, Who knows everything-----what is useful, what is hurtful to My children: infinitely powerful, against Whose will no enemies, whether visible or invisible, can do the least harm to My children: infinitely good, Who love My children with a Heart burning with a Divine love, and long to turn all things, evil as well as good, to their advantage.

Wherefore, show in My service that thou art the worthy child of such a Father: and do not, by a most unseemly crime, conduct thyself as the servant of an overbearing master.

Do but keep the good will, of shunning whatsoever thou knowest is displeasing, and of doing whatsoever thou understandest is agreeable to Me: and then expand thy heart-----not, indeed, to the false freedom, the hard yoke of the children of the world, but to the true freedom, the sweet privilege of the children of My Heart.

4. This do I love, that My children enjoy a holy freedom; and I consider Myself greatly honored thereby.

Use, therefore, a becoming diligence to please Me, and be not anxious to know, whether in reality thou art pleasing to Me: but, setting aside all subtlety of the understanding, and all uneasiness of the will, throw thyself with confidence on My Heart. It cannot be otherwise than that, so far from being offended, I will rather be delighted with this freedom of heart, inspired by a pure and generous love.
 
Under My guidance, under My protection, under My Divine care, be thou free from all inordinateness; neither do thou excessively fear Hell, the world, nor thyself. For although, of thyself, thou art able to do nothing, thou canst do much in Me, in Whom thou believest, in Whom thou hopest, Whom thou lovest.

If, at any time thou fallest into faults, do not conduct thyself like a menial servant, who, full of alarm, stands in dread of stripes, and is desirous either of running away, or of cowardly hiding himself: but act like a child that loves his father, and forthwith endeavors to make up for his guilt-----who runs to his father, with so much the more freedom, the greater the goodness which he knows him to possess.

As often, therefore, as thou sadly fallest, do thou return to Me in a child-like manner-----ask forgiveness, and renew thy resolve of being faithful: nor suffer thou the peace of thy heart to be disturbed, or thy freedom lessened.
 
5. Neither should the means of perfection fetter thy heart; for even these, if they took away the holy freedom of thy heart, would be obstacles rather than means.

Wherefore, so soon as I make known to thee My Will, thou must freely overlook everything else, and be solely dependent on My bidding.

Take heed, however, My Child, lest, under pretense of a holy freedom, thou indulge the fickleness of the heart-----as they do who allow themselves to be guided by feeling, not by principle.

To them, that which a little before was pleasing, now becomes irksome: in the glow of fervor, they assume spiritual practices, and soon afterwards leave them off again, or perform them with distaste; they live now in one way, and, in a short time, wearied therewith, they try another; now, they mortify themselves severely, as if they were wholly spiritual; and, soon again, having become really sensual, they flatter nature.

This, surely, is not to be a child of freedom, but the sport of fickleness, the slave of feeling.

6. My Child, be thou more steadfast in regard to thy freedom. If thou art busied with any employments, do not give thyself up to them-----merely lend thyself to them-----lest, instead of thyself being their master, they perchance rule thee.

As often as thou feelest thyself impelled by nature, either to undertake or to perform something, do thou forthwith check thy ardor: otherwise thou shalt soon perceive that thy heart is being fettered, and that the matter itself is less rightly done.

Let no place on earth hold thy heart bound to itself: keep it free everywhere, knowing that I, thy God, am found in all places; that My children are everywhere cherished by My Spirit; finally, that where My Spirit is, there is true freedom.

Wherever, therefore, thou mayst be, be master of thyself: in all things whatsoever, whether internal or external, whether spiritual or temporal, whether lofty or lowly, keep thy heart free, united above everything with the Divine Will.

7. My Child, thou shouldst so cherish and guard the freedom of thy heart, that no one-----neither thy inferior, nor an equal, nor even thy Superior-----can take it away.

Wherefore, thou oughtest to judge of nothing, nor strive after it, according to the semblance of things, the opinion of men, or thy own feeling. In all things, let the standard of thy judgment be the truth, which thou wilt find, by examining how My Heart has judged them: and let My Will be the rule of thy desiring. This truth will free thee, and thou shalt be free indeed: this Divine Will shall guide thee, and keep thee free.

The more glorious this holy freedom of heart is to Me-----the more useful to thyself and to thy neighbor-----with the more care is it to be fostered, the more resolutely is it to be defended against thy foes.

Beside the demon and the world, nature will also frequently rise up against it. Pride, with many reasonings, and self-love, in various ways, will prey upon it, to cause it to yield, at least in some or other matter.

But thou wilt frustrate and overcome the assaults and stratagems of thy enemies, if thou goest boldly counter to what these foes suggest, and if thou simply followest My Will.

Whosoever wills everything according to My Divine good pleasure-----whosoever lives by this, and seeks his happiness therein-----enjoys a true and holy freedom, which I desire every Disciple of My Heart to possess, and which neither Hell, nor the world, nor any creature, can take away.

8. The voice of the Disciple.-----Holy freedom! how sweet a name! but sweeter far its possession: most sweet its fruit. Would, O good Jesus, that I might enjoy it!

But alas, wretched me! of how many things am I still the slave! blushing with shame, I confess to Thee, O Lord, that my heart is full often captivated and held by various things, yea, the most trifling or imaginary.

Give me, I entreat Thee, give me light to know and strength to burst asunder all my chains, that at last I may be free in truth and holiness.

Mercifully grant, most benign Jesus, that, to preserve holy freedom of heart, I may stand with a heart firm and undaunted, amid all the temptations of Hell; that I be unconquered and unshaken by the good and evil things, the sayings and doings of the world; that, above all which is of self, I may repose and persevere in Thy most holy, most delightful good pleasure.


CHAPTER XIII. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, GOING UP INTO THE TEMPLE,
TEACHES US TO PRAY

1. The voice of Jesus.-----Attend, My Child, and see how solicitous My Heart was, that, in public as well as in private, It might teach, by example, the ways of salvation and perfection.

From My Childhood, I was wont, not only frequently to pray alone, but also to go up to Jerusalem, and to pray publicly in the Temple, and this according to custom.

My Child, what was My whole life, if not a prayer, from which My Heart never ceased, with which It was always and everywhere occupied?

Where did Mary, My Mother, and Joseph find Me when I was lost, if not in the Temple, the house of prayer? Where My Disciples and friends-----except returning from prayer, with My Heart still praying?

 Where, in fine, My enemies-----except praying in the solitude of Gethsemane?

Examine carefully every day of My life; behold! the very dawn found Me at prayer, and, even at that time, sanctifying the labors of the day.

When the toils of day were over, lot when all nature was at rest, the darkness of the night beheld Me praying, and pouring forth My Heart before My Father-----with the Angels alone as My witnesses.

But even amidst the very labors of the day, how often did I withdraw a little from the multitude! how often, whilst in the midst of the multitude, and during My labors, did I raise My Heart to My
Father!

2. My Child, strive thou with special care and diligence, to acquire this Spirit of prayer, this holy habit of praying.

All the Saints, and followers of the Saints, all the Disciples of My Heart, learned this holy and sanctifying use of prayer. They prayed at stated times, not merely with their lips, but also with their mind and heart: again, wherever they were, under every circumstance of fortune, they had inwardly recourse to Me by prayer-----making known to My Heart their joy and gratefulness, amid prosperity; imploring My help and comfort, in adversity; asking counsel, in their doubts.

So shouldst thou also do, My Child, if thou wilt aspire to holiness; yea, if thou art desirous of securing thy salvation.

3. Meditate devoutly, every day. But beware, lest thy meditation prove a musing, rather than a prayer; a pious study, rather than a Divine intercourse.

Let the mind reason and reflect, as much as is necessary; but let the heart elicit acts, sometimes of faith, hope, charity; sometimes of sorrow, humility, self-denial; again, of fortitude, of good and firm resolve; again, of thanksgiving, of joy and exultation of heart with the Angels and Saints; now of resignation, of conformity to the Divine Will, of pure love, reposing in God's good pleasure; or of any other virtue whatsoever; then let it fervently petition much for itself, and also for others:-----for the Church and her ministers, for the perfection of the Saints dwelling on earth, for the perseverance of the just, for the conversion of all sinners, heretics, and infidels.

In proportion as thou advancest in the interior life, and attainest to a more perfect degree in the same, thou shouldst shorten thy reasonings, and give freer scope to the affections, so that thou treatest with Me in thy heart, by means of acts and petitions, and, at last, by the mere occupation of Divine union.

Meditate and pray in this manner, My Child, and remember that, whether thou prayest orally or mentally, the heart must be foremost, in order that every prayer and supplication may be performed in an attentive and devout manner.

Although thou mayst not be able to pray so well as thou desirest, do not think little of thy prayer, or neglect it. Verily, I Myself, do neither deem it of little importance, nor do I overlook the same.

Do with a good will whatever thou art able; by so doing, be convinced that thou prayest well and meritoriously, and that thou wilt make progress in virtue, as well as in prayer.
 
4. Let it not be sufficient for thee to pray at certain times: for it behooves thee to pray always, and not to grow faint. Behold My sweet command, according to which thou canst approach Me at all times, and, as a child, converse with Me.

Everywhere there are obstacles, within and without: temptations from every side, both open and
secret: always dangers, lest the crown promised to perseverance be lost. Exceedingly necessary, therefore, is grace, which, however, is not wont to be given, in a special manner, except to them
that pray.

Almost everything, then, depends on prayer: without prayer, evil things find no remedy, good things become dangerous; but to him who prays, both good and evil will prove advantageous. Nowhere, My Child, except in prayer, wilt thou acquire a true knowledge of Me and of thyself: therefore, without prayer, thou wilt never attain to true humility and charity.

Without prayer, thou wilt never fully understand My Heart, nor possess Its Spirit. Without prayer, thou wilt, in many things, not seize the sentiments of My Heart; and, what is more dangerous, thou wilt measure My Heart by thy own.

If in thy concerns thou hast recourse to prayer, it will not rarely happen, that thou judgest differently of them, from what thou didst before; because the light of Divine grace, which is wont to be poured into the soul during prayer, is infinitely purer than the light of human reason.
 
What thou didst think to have sprung from grace, thou shalt often find to be the offspring of nature: what thou didst fancy a virtue, thou shalt sometimes perceive to be self-love: what thou didst judge to be for My greater glory, thou shalt often understand to be the effect of thy hidden pride.

5. The interior man, amid his troubles, has first recourse to Me, and begs for help: therefore, he is relieved, and obtains frequently extraordinary favors; whereas, he that has first recourse to human means, so far from being disburdened, increases his difficulties; until, entering into himself, he comes to Me, without whose aid human endeavors are of no avail to the suffering heart.

My Child, if thou comest to My Heart whenever thou art in affliction, there will be no need to look for human consolations: thou shalt find one drop of My consolation sweeter and more effectual than all the flood of men's consoling words.

If, betimes, for My honor and for thy advantage, I give thee no sensible consolation to taste; thou shalt still ever find true comfort in My Heart, both by resigning thyself to My good pleasure, and by receiving My assistance.

This holy resignation, although, on the one hand, it is contrary to the feelings, and, therefore, bitter; yet, on the other, by means of grace, becomes so sweet, in spite of the feelings, that no one, unless he has experienced it, can fully understand the same.

6. When the man of prayer is tempted, he becomes more united with Me; he is not cast down but raised; he is not saddened but cheered up; he is not shaken but rendered more firm.

If, at any time, thou art overtaken by the storm, or even wrapt up in its thick darkness, turn thyself to Me-----Who am ever present-----and, with thy heart, cling to Me confidingly: thou shalt be secure amid the very rage and gloom of the tempest; and, sometimes, thou shalt be illumined with a ray of softest light from above, that thereby thou mayst see, that what thou thoughtest certain destruction, was either a mere nothing, or even an advantage.

When thou art desirous of saying or doing something, and a doubt or perplexity presents itself,
whether or not it be lawful; entering into thyself, hearken to My Spirit, and if, by having frequently recourse to Me, thou hast learned to distinguish My whisperings, thou wilt perceive a clear decision-----which thou mayst follow with safety.

A soul accustomed to have recourse to Me, has everywhere with her a protector, a counsellor and comforter, whom-----not only when she is alone, but also whilst dealing with her neighbor-----she knows, and loves to call upon in her heart, to consult, and to entertain.

7. After this do thou strive, My Child, for this do thou leave naught undone, that thou mayst acquire this pious habit of having recourse to My Heart, of tending towards Me as thy centre, of busying thyself inwardly with Me, of dealing with Me by means of prayer. This is that Spirit of prayer, which, if thou secure it for thyself, will lovingly entertain thee in solitude, will guard thee in public, will solace thee in adversity, will check thee in prosperity, will protect thee in dangers, and, everywhere at thy service, will guide thee to holiness.

The voice of the Disciple.-----This, O Lord, this is a great good, exceedingly to be desired: yea, it seems that this alone is one of the main secrets of the interior life. But, by what means, I pray, shall I acquire this pious habit?

The voice of Jesus.-----First of all, My Child, thou oughtest frequently to beg for the gift of prayer, of all gifts the best-----which embraces every gift: by prayer, as other things, so, especially, is the gift of prayer obtained.

Next, it is a good counsel-----well-suited to acquire for thyself the habit of prayer-----as much as possible, so to arrange thy occupations, that no long interval ever intervene, during which thou dost not for sometime-----or at least for a few moments-----confer with Me by means of some spiritual practice.

Then, thou must make use of both inward and outward temptations and troubles, as of so many warnings, to turn thyself to Me, for the sake of evincing thy love, imploring grace, and renewing thy resolve of being faithful.

Lastly, thou shouldst persist in thy repeated efforts, until thou art accustomed to make use of prayer, until thou hast recourse to Me under every circumstance, like a child to its parent-----not by the power of reason and reflection, but by a spontaneous instinct.

8. Cheer up, My Child, spare neither care nor diligence to acquire this science of the Elect, this object of the longing of all the Disciples of My Heart. It is worth all that and more.

In prayer thou hast a support in thy wants; amends for thy shortcomings, means for progress; a safe hope of perseverance; whatsoever it is profitable to possess.

Prayer is the refreshment of them that hunger and thirst after justice: prayer is the delight of pure souls: prayer, to sum up all, is the employment of the Saints, and their repose as well.

Whilst thou prayest, thou honorest and glorifiest Me, thou performest that upon earth, which the Angels and Saints are doing in Heaven, and which must be thy blissful occupation throughout a joyous eternity.

9. The voice of the Disciple.-----Delightful, indeed, Lord Jesus, are the things which Thou teachest me concerning prayer: they affect the heart by their unction, and fill it with love for that holy exercise.

Behold, Lord, as much as I am able will I pray: I will pray with my mind, I will pray with my heart, I will pray with my lips. Help me with Thy grace.
 
By Thy most Sacred Heart, I beseech Thee, grant me the spirit of prayer, in order that prayer, which is manifold, may also be my life.

I ask not for extraordinary gifts, not the gift of prophecy, not the gift of miracles: grant these to them, whom, in Thy loving-kindness, Thou choosest: never will I envy them.

But this I beg humbly; this, I entreat Thee, grant Thou me, the gift of prayer-----the gift which is above every gift to me.

Through it comes every good: through it I have access to the fountain of all Good: through it I find entrance into Thy very Heart.


CHAPTER XIV. OF THE LOVE OF SOLITUDE, AFTER THE EXAMPLE OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, ABIDING AT NAZARETH.

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, after I had been at Jerusalem, engaged in the things which are My Father's, so long as My Father Himself willed it; I went down to Nazareth, and there unknown, I advanced in grace with God and with men.

Understand this My hidden life: study the sentiments of My Heart, and strive to imitate them sedulously.
Thou mightst have seen Me, with a serene countenance and a joyous Heart, now at home, intent on My various duties and occupations: now abroad, applying Myself to divers labors: always ready for everything: everywhere obedient: at all times and in every place, a spectacle full of grace, to God My Father, to My Virgin Mother, to Joseph, and to the wondering Angels.

Behold how the Son of God was employed for so long a time! behold how He grew up, like the lily of the valleys, hidden indeed from the world, but prominent and pleasing in the sight of Heaven.
 
2. Wonder not, My Child, that I passed so many years in retirement, that I did not show Myself to the world, except after a long time. This example of Mine, this interior love of solitude, was exceedingly necessary to men.

Without this love of solitude, men, influenced by corrupt nature, pour themselves out, as it were, into external things: most of them follow self-love, by imaginary and unusual ways and means of salvation and perfection-----whereby they are deceived, and led astray from the spirit of their state and vocation; others obey a secret pride, undertake affairs and fill employments, without due preparation, without regularity-----seeking not the things which are Mine, but those which are their own.
 
Whence it happens, that they wander from the right path. And as-----on account of the ceaseless bustle, and their applications to external things-----they heed not the Divine inspirations, they fall from
one error into another; they become more and more wrapt up in their delusions, until, at last, they render fruitless to themselves every means of salvation and perfection.

3. The object of the example of My hidden and inward life is two-fold: to teach men to guard against such evils, that they may keep the safe road of salvation; and to show to them, wherein true perfection consists.

Whatever glitters or resounds, whatever awakens in some manner the attention or admiration of men, upon this most men are wont to look, as something more perfect, and better adapted to glorify God, and to shine before their neighbor.

But how great an error! how great a delusion! For it all arises from secret pride, and ends in self-love.

In truth, perfection, as is made evident by the example of My Heart, consists in doing the Divine good pleasure with humility and charity.
 
Without a regard for solitude, man is not wont to understand, at all times, the Divine Will, to guard humility, or to preserve true-----not fictitious-----charity.

Pray, therefore, My Child, that thou mayst be worthy to acquire and cherish a love for solitude. It is so great a good, that there exists hardly anything so useful, both to act with a right spirit, and to pray with the same spirit.

Examine the lives of the Saints, and thou shalt not find one among them who did not love sacred solitude.

4. The solitude, which the faithful must cherish, is relative to their state and condition of life. Whence it may happen that what is praised in one ought to be blamed in another.

Now, this is a safe rule, the true method for every faithful soul, of all states or conditions: To love solitude in such a manner, that, after having duly performed whatsoever thy duties or employments demand, thou retire with Me from the crowd, and collect thyself near Me, until the Divine Will calls thee away.

If thou withdraw thyself from unnecessary company, useless conversation, the idle rumors of the world; in short, from all matters which do not concern thee, thou shalt have sufficient time to deal with Me in solitude.

But when, from the intercourse of men, thou retirest into solitude, do not simply leave men, and yet carry thy cares with thee.

For there are those, who are no less distracted and dissipated in solitude than they were in the company of men, and amid their occupations; because they give free scope to the vagaries of the imagination, to the inquisitiveness of the understanding, and the fretfulness of the will.

It is necessary, first of all, to arrange thy free time in an orderly manner, so that, to a settled time, be assigned a fixed employment, lest, overcome by disgust, thou wander about, or waste time in discussing how thou shouldst spend it.
 
Order, in all things, is of the greatest advantage: it drives away idleness and dullness of spirit it prevents many temptations and difficulties; it affords an opportunity of doing well, and with ease, many things; lastly, it makes thee live for Me.

5. He that is alone with Me in the sight of Angels, either makes amends for the past, or strengthens himself in what is good: and, whilst reflecting on himself and his actions, he is taught many things. For it is not so much length of time, or multiplicity of matters, as the purity of prayer and meditation, which renders a man truly experienced.
 
He that is collected within himself, away from the turmoil of the world, recovers his peace, if lost, or strengthens it, when preserved: he rejoices in the communication of graces of divers kinds; he rightly arranges beforehand that which he may afterward be able to perform with fruit and merit.

Whence, My Child, does it come, except from union with Me, that interior men-----even under the most trying circumstances-----continue so self-possessed that they are an object of admiration to the multitude; and are so persevering that they execute, with the greatest fearlessness. whatsoever they have once resolved?
 
How many defects shalt thou avoid, how many virtues shalt thou practice, if thou do but cherish solitude!
All the Disciples of My Heart have ever held as certain, that they were so much the nearer to My Heart, the farther they were with their heart removed from creatures.

8. My Child, if thou art truly humble, thou wilt seek after solitude: for, as much as it is able, humility loves to be concealed, and dreads to be noticed. If thou art enkindled with a true and Divine love, thou wilt seek after solitude: for the flame of love, exposed to every breath of the world, is easily extinguished, unless it be frequently fed in solitude.

Or what is worse, charity, if always dissipated, becomes, by degrees, a disguised sensuality.

Solitude, when adapted to each one's circumstances, and properly kept, becomes sweeter little by little, and secures numberless advantages.

For it is the safeguard of innocence, the dwelling of peace, the abode of the interior life, the school of holiness, the place of heavenly secrets, the chosen means of Divine communication.

If thou art desirous of enjoying these things, love sacred solitude: frequently will I invite thee, frequently will I lead thee into the same, that there I may speak to thy heart.

7. Be not deterred from cherishing sacred solitude-----even should men occasionally censure thee, on account of thy love of retirement. Let talkers have their say: for thyself, attend thou to what is good.
If thou desirest to suit thy life to the opinions of others, thou wilt have to assume as many different shapes as thou meetest men: for there are as many opinions as there are minds.
 
When the Divine Will does not make known to thee, that thou shouldst be with men, stay thou alone with Me.

Thus the Saints, unless called forth by the Divine Will, would have continued in solitude, even to their dying hour, unknown to men.

Nevertheless, My Child, as often as by My Will-----in whatsoever manner it be made known-----thou art sent forth by Me, thou shouldst leave thy solitude with the same readiness and freedom of mind with which thou didst enter it.

At My bidding, leave thou as speedily as possible, or rather exchange for the better, whatever useful occupation detains thee-----gladly accommodating thyself, without any sign of displeasure, to circumstances which present themselves.

Do not bind thyself to any preconceived method, rather than to My Divine Will; do not, through a false exactness, and an ill-regulated strictness, render piety hateful or unlovely.

If thou hast learnt of My Heart a truly interior spirit, thou wilt safely follow a middle course, avoiding both extremes.

Therefore, imitate not those dissipated persons, who-----thinking that the time spent in solitude is lost, or perceiving that things interior are distasteful to them-----do ever seek pretenses of pouring themselves out upon outward objects, entangle themselves with what does not concern. them, frequently neglect what they ought to perform, and do what they should omit.

Neither follow thou the footsteps of those who, under cover of piety, neglect all things external, and, with all access shut off, so hide themselves in solitude that neither the inviting of My Spirit, nor charity, nor obedience, is able to draw them thence: and who, if, at any time, necessity drives them out, or disturbs them, are indignant, sullen and fretful.

For thyself, My Child, follow the Divine Will. love to be with Me in solitude, according to My good pleasure: and, whenever it is My Will that thou shouldst be with creatures, love to be with them, for love of Me.

8. The voice of the Disciple.-----O sacred solitude! how great and how numberless the blessings wherewith thou overflowest!

Didst thou understand all these things, my soul? frequently, then, hasten away into solitude: thither go thou as much as thou canst: thither do thou often resort, away from all turmoil, were it only for a little while-----but more with the heart than with the body.

There do thou breathe freely; there refresh thyself; there advance in grace; there, among the Angels, entertain thyself with thy Beloved. O Beloved of my heart, most sweet Jesus! give me, I beseech Thee, and nourish in me, the love of sacred solitude, wherein I may find Thee, wherein I may enjoy Thee, wherein I may be happy with Thee.

Thy conversation, unlike that of men, has no bitterness; neither has Thy intercourse any irksomeness; it is all spiritual joy, pure delight, Divine sweetness.

CHAPTER XV. OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE, WHEREIN WE ARE TAUGHT TO LIVE, BY THE EXAMPLE OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, BAPTIZED.

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, beginning about the age of thirty years, sent by the Will of My Father, I left Nazareth and came to the Jordan, to be Baptized.

And when I was Baptized, coming forthwith out of the water, I betook Myself to prayer. But lo! whilst I prayed, and the crowd of men were thronging around Me, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit, under the form of a dove, came upon Me; and the voice of My Father was heard, saying: This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.

What solemnity, My Child! how glorious! but not displayed for Me. This voice came not for Me, but for men, that they might acknowledge Me as their Saviour, and, believing in Me, hoping in Me, loving Me, they might have life everlasting.

I needed not this outward display for Myself; since, what was done visibly at My Baptism, I enjoyed unseen at all times. Everywhere and always, the Father and the Holy Spirit were with Me.

My Heart possessed always every sufficiency in things internal: in these It rejoiced fully: in these It found supreme delight.

My Heart united to the Godhead, by act and affection ever present to the same, lived as if ever absorbed therein.

2. My Child, as much as thou canst, imitate this example of My Heart. Concerning which I have to tell thee many things-----but agreeable and full of consolation.

Exert thyself, My Child, that thou mayst ever enjoy the Divine presence, that thou mayst everywhere live before Me, thy Saviour-God.

If thou lovest Me, thou wilt find thy delight in walking before Me, in enjoying My presence. Was it ever heard, or has it ever happened, that anyone did not find his delight in the presence of him whom he loves?

Behold! I am always and everywhere with thee, inasmuch as I am a Divine Person-----nowhere do I lose sight of thee.

Nay more, in My sight no creature is unseen.

In every place My eyes behold both the good and the wicked, and look into the very heart of each of them. Who can hide himself from My sight? Whether he conceal himself in darkness, whether he hide in the loneliness of the wilderness, whether he bury himself in the depths of the earth or the sea, whether he goes down even to Hell-----everywhere My eyes are upon him.

In such a manner, My Child, am I present to all and each one, that, with My all-powerful hand, I can reach every one, both to restrain or punish, to help or reward him.

3. I am also with thee, not only with all the sweetness of My Divinity, but also with that of My Humanity-----in the sacred Tabernacle.

Whithersoever, therefore, thou goest, whether to the right or to the left: wheresoever thou mayst
be, whether in thy own country, or in the land of the stranger; in every place, where the Most Holy Sacrament reposes, thou hast Me present, not only with My Divinity, but also My Soul and Body. There thou findest Me present with the same countenance, the same lips, the same ears, the same affections of the Heart, that once were the delight of My Disciples-----as they are even now that of the Angels and Saints in Heaven.

Understand, My Child, the whole mystery of love. Behold! from out the sacred Tabernacle, I am with thee, in some manner-----wherever upon earth thou mayst be-----by the love of My Heart. In My Heart, I busy Myself about thee: with My love, I follow thee everywhere.

4. How, then, canst thou be forgetful of Me? how not be taken up with love for Me? how with mind and heart stray away from Me?

Then, My Child, dost thou truly walk before Me, when thy mind thinks actually or virtually on Me; when, in like manner, thy heart is occupied with love of Me as present.

Now, of this Divine presence there are certain degrees, which interior souls arrange in their heart, and by which thy come ever more closely to Me.

The first is, when man, by virtue of actual attention, or at least of a virtual intention, lives so self-collected that he does everything in a manner worthy of My sight, and, meanwhile, by repeated acts, turns himself to Me.

In the next place, when-----with a heart cleansed from every ill-regulated affection, and dedicated to Me as a special sanctuary-----man attends faithfully, listening to what I speak within, and is ever ready to answer to My whisperings.

Lastly, when the interior soul, in some manner absorbed in Me, so lives for Me that she is wont not to be mindful of herself except in Me; not to love herself, except in Me-----ever reposing in Me with a certain sweet and divine union, and enjoying My presence more perfectly than the bird enjoys the air wherein he flies, or a healthy man the health that gives him vigor.

This is the completing of Divine union, which surpasses all understanding, to which pure souls-----that, by generous sacrifices, whether external or internal, have disposed themselves, with a perfect heart leaving all creatures, and even themselves with the aid of grace are wont to attain.

5. My Child, the remembrance of My presence is the most efficacious means of avoiding sins. For who, if he calls to mind that he stands in the sight of God, could dare to offend Him, Who, at the same instant, can hurl both body and soul into Hell?

If, with thy own eyes, thou wert to behold Me present to thee, in a sensible form, wouldst thou be willing, My Child, wouldst thou dare to commit sin in My very sight? Wouldst thou not deport thyself in a respectful manner? But, with the eyes of faith, thou seest Me more clearly and more certainly present, than if thou sawest Me with the eyes of the body.

Remember and love Me Who am present to thee, and thou shalt not sin forever. What is it that renders sinless the inhabitants of Heaven? Is it not the Vision and the love of the Godhead, and that which arises thence?

When, by faith, thy mind beholds thy God, when thy heart loves Him, thou wilt not offend so great
a Majesty. Although, by nature, thou art weak and liable to fall; yet this Divine vision will not allow thee to be deceived, nor will this love suffer thee to fall. For whoever abides therein sins not.

Wherefore, My Child, so long as, by faith and love, thou walkest before Me, thou shalt be sinless; not indeed, by thy nature, but by My presence.

Whenever thou didst sin, surely, whilst resolving to sin, thou sawest Me not by faith, neither knewest thou Me by love. For whosoever sins neither sees nor knows his God.

6. What is there more delightful than My presence? what more pleasant? what more useful for everything? Is it not an enduring Paradise? Whom the Angels and Saints gaze upon, face to face, Whom they truly possess in Heaven the same thou beholdest upon earth by faith, the same thou enjoyest
by love-----whilst thou growest all the while in merits.

Without the practice of the Divine presence, solitude is wont to be dangerous, the intercourse of men hurtful. But, by the use of it, both are helped and made holy.

Thou shalt scarcely find anyone practice of piety which contains such a number, such a variety, and such a frequency of acts of virtue as this holy exercise of the Divine presence.

Be of good cheer, then, My Child: endeavor piously and diligently to acquire the habit of living in My presence. When once acquired, it will serve thee as a protection amid dangers, as a light in darkness, as a comfort in solitude, as a safeguard in the world-----everywhere as a constant practice of virtues, everywhere as a Divine fellowship.

7. The voice of the Disciple.-----But, good Master, most sweet Jesus, in what manner, pray, shall I acquire this sacred habit?

The voice of Jesus.-----Before everything else, My Child, thou must often pray, earnestly beg for grace; whereby thou mayst be excited to call to mind, with a lively faith and a confiding love, the Divine presence.

The senses, also, are to be kept under strict discipline; and the inordinate desire of perceiving external things is to be mortified.

Then, the internal faculties are to be guarded: not only wicked, but also useless thoughts, are to be kept from the mind, vain and idle occupations from the heart.

Afterwards thou shouldst endeavor to turn thyself frequently to Me by short and fervent aspirations, which will be all the more profitable to thee in proportion as they are more adapted to the state and circumstances of thy soul.

Finally, My Child, in all things seen, thou oughtest to seek Me, the unseen, the Beloved of thy heart.

Do not the very creatures, which surround thee on every side, warn thee of My presence? Lift up thy eyes and behold how all things, each after its own manner, proclaim that I am present.

Do not the serenity of the sky and the very storm proclaim it? Do not the fruits and flowers? Do not consolations and afflictions? Do not virtues and the fountains of grace?

My Child, if thou art an interior Disciple of My Heart, all things that present themselves before thee will help thee to be mindful of Me, and to love Me present everywhere.

Everywhere thou shalt find Me; and thou shalt pass over all even unto Me, in Whom alone thou shalt find joy and repose.

8. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Lord, God invisible beholding all things, incomprehensible and present everywhere, whither shall I flee from, Thy face?

Behold! if I go up into Heaven, Thou art there; if I go down into Hell, Thou art present. If I take wings at the dawn, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, there also Thy hands will guide and hold me.
Darkness has no gloom before Thee: night is to Thee as the day. Everywhere am I in Thy sight; within and without am I unveiled before Thy eyes.

9. Lo then, Thou art ever present to me. How sweet a thought! how great a consolation! what reasons for confidence! how great an incitement to love!

But yet, whithersoever I turn, Thy creatures awaken my faith, warn me of Thy presence, of Thy power, of Thy love, of Thy loveliness. If the shadow of the object is so pleasant, so fair, so good, what must be the object itself?

Behold! this creature is pleasing, that other strong; this one is fair, that one good: but incomparably more pleasing, and, at the same time, stronger, fairer, sweeter, and everywhere better art Thou, O Beloved, Whom my soul loves!

O Jesus, My Saviour God, delightful Paradise of my heart! grant, I beseech Thee, that always and everywhere I be mindful of Thee, that I love Thee always and everywhere present.

Make my heart a pure and holy dwelling, wherein I may find Thee, possess Thee, enjoy Thee, for the sanctification of my soul, and the ever-enduring glory of Thy heart.

CHAPTER XVI. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, TEMPTED IN THE DESERT,
TEACHES US TO PRESERVE PEACE OF HEART

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, when I went away from the Jordan, I was led by the Spirit into the desert. Behold a sight, which filled the Angels themselves with admiration.

For, removed from human society, dwelling among the wild beasts of the wilderness, I passed My days and nights in fasting and austerity, exposed to all the changes of the weather.

My Heart persevered in Divine communings with My heavenly Father, in sublime contemplation, in ceaseless prayer.

Meanwhile, forgotten, or even insulted by the world, I was assailed by Satan in wonderful ways: yea, I was even seized by him, carried elsewhere, and variously and exceedingly tempted.

What impelled Me to undergo these things, if not the love of My Heart, that I might console thee My Child, and teach thee by My example?

Taught and encouraged by this, thou needest not wonder, if, in thy condition of life, thou art tempted by the demon, or annoyed by the world: neither shouldst thou, on account of human events, or the devil's assaults, lose thy peace of heart.

Naught of all this world could disturb or disquiet My Heart: but, ever tranquil and at rest, with a firm Will turning Itself away from the objects cast before It, It went on in peace.

2. My Child, do thou with all diligence aspire to this holy peace, and follow it up with all care.

Blessed is the good soul that keeps herself in true peace! In such a one I abide as in My Own kingdom: in her heart I find My delight as on a throne.

My Heart loves to communicate Itself to a tranquil heart; because there Its Inspirations are heard, are fostered, and bring forth fruit.

If thou desirest to commit the fewest faults possible, if thou desirest to derive profit from thy very faults, if thou desirest to practice virtues, in a proper manner, keep thy peace of heart.

If thou wishest usefully to resist the temptations of the devil, and to bring to naught the wicked attempts of Hell, be in peace, and continue therein.

3. The enemy,-----knowing that he can do little against a soul, so long as she keeps herself in this holy peace,-----strives in every way to trouble her.

For this purpose, he sets sometimes every power in motion, and stirs it up: he excites the imagination, he calls out the passions, he suggests many things contrary, now to this virtue, then to that; at one time he assails by flattery, at another by fright; sometimes he persists stubbornly.

If things of this kind befall thee, My Child, be not uneasy, do not lose thy peace. So long as thou continuest in a holy peace, all is safe: but if thou beginnest to be troubled, thou beginnest also to be in danger: and although, by Divine grace, thou withholdest thyself from a willful consent, yet the enemy has gained enough to be satisfied for the present.

He does not think that he can overthrow thee in the first assault, but that, by degrees, if he be able to disturb thy heart, he may worry thee, weaken thee, and so at last destroy thee.

Beware, therefore, that thou be not disturbed, by whatsoever temptation, or for how long soever a time, thou mayst be assailed.

4. My Child, let not thy heart be troubled, whatever may happen. The peace of the heart is not to be lost for aught of this world.

Although thou mayst have rendered thyself guilty of some defect or sin, even then be thou not disturbed in heart. For, if thou troublest thyself after committing a fault, dost thou thereby afford any remedy to the evil? On the contrary, thou committest a fault more dangerous than the first.

Therefore, after an offense has been unhappily committed, be not annoyed by troubles, nor lose thou courage: but, by an act of humble love, throw thyself with a contrite heart upon My Heart, that thy fault may be consumed by this Divine fire, and thy heart be made clean.

Above all, My Child, a firm and unruffled peace of heart is necessary, when, for the greater glory of My Heart, and thy own greater good, thou art suffered to be oppressed by inward desolateness;
whereby the understanding is wrapped in darkness, and the will feels itself pushed on to evil, so that sometimes thou seemest abandoned to thyself alone, and to a stubborn enemy.

If in that state thou givest thyself up to mental perturbation, thou wilt render vain the intention of My Heart, and run great risk-----not only of depriving thyself of the proffered treasure of merits, and a sublime degree of holiness,-----but also of going astray, and of falling.

But if, with a quiet and undaunted heart, thou goest obediently onward, whithersoever My Spirit may lead thee; and instead and despite of thy own feeling, thou followest His guidance, thou shalt pass through the ordeal unhurt, and come out of it more perfect.

5. In exterior things also, much will occur to move and trouble thy heart, unless it be well established in peace.

It will happen, that thou findest men unfaithful, nay more, at times, opposed to thee,-----even those that are bound to thee by the obligation of gratitude, friendship, station or office.

If thy peace rests upon the dispositions or doings of mortals, or depends thereon, it will be exposed to sad vicissitudes.

Many judge accordingly as their heart is affected: therefore, it is to be expected that they will not rarely think ill of thee, will find fault with thy doings, will condemn thy eager pursuit of an interior life; in short, will try thy virtue in various ways.

When these things happen, My Child, suffer not thy heart to be troubled: but remain in peace, and allow everything to pass, precisely as thou allowest the clouds to pass over thy head.

And truly, of what avail would it be to thee to be troubled by these matters? Shouldst thou not add a burden, and reap bitterness as the fruit of thy toil?

Accustom thyself to bear patiently things adverse, to hear in silence what is unpleasant, to be quiet among the boisterous, to remain tranquil whilst the world is blustering.

6. The voice of the Disciple.-----But, O Lord Jesus, how hard it seems in practice, when temptations annoy me inwardly, whilst I long to serve Thee faithfully; or when the torments of adverse circumstances and men assail me, whilst I mean well; not to feel them, not to be troubled by them! Verily, O Lord, this seems impossible to me.

The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, it is no evil to feel things which are burthensome, or capable of disturbing the heart: thou must needs feel them to be able to resist them.

It is certainly impossible not to feel them, how pious soever thou mayst be. For piety does neither destroy nor blunt the powers of the soul; but, on the contrary, it renders them more pure and perfect.
Neither is it possible that the inferior part of the heart be not sometimes affected thereby. But these emotions, unless they be consented to by the superior part, can by no means harm thee: nay more, they may be useful to establish thy peace the more solidly; since, the more victories thou gainest over the inferior part, the more subject and tranquil thou wilt keep it, and the greater safety thou wilt enjoy.
But yet, it is ever in thy power to preserve thyself in peace. For-----since thou possessest freewill, and receivest ever a sufficient grace-----neither the malice of Hell, nor the wickedness of men, nor any adversity can disturb thy heart, unless itself be willing.

It depends, therefore, on thyself alone, My Child, ever to possess this good, which is so great, that,
next to the state of grace, it is the greatest good of this life.

7. The voice of the Disciple.-----Yea, Lord Jesus, so it is assuredly. Teach me, then, I beseech Thee, the way of holy peace, which Thou didst show me to be so useful and necessary for all things.

The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, many there are who say much about the means of obtaining and
preserving peace; but I say: learn ye of Me, because I am meek and humble of Heart, and ye shall find rest-----the perfection of peace.

First then, a virtuous heart alone-----which, living in grace, strives to imitate the virtues of My Heart-----can possess true peace, because there is no peace for the wicked.

Again, a humble heart, which is satisfied with holding an inferior place among men, and which, distrustful of self, has, in every difficulty, recourse to Me-----can alone preserve an undisturbed peace.

Finally, a heart enlivened by charity, which is united, or at least resigned, to the Divine Will, can alone enjoy, without interruption, the sweetness of holy peace, and persevere securely therein.

If thou art perfectly imbued with the sentiments of My Heart, so that, for love of a more complete resemblance to Me, and a proof of a more disinterested love, thou choosest, according to the Divine good pleasure, to suffer with Me in this world: then, My Child, wilt thou overflow with the plenty of a most delightful peace, enjoy a continued tranquillity, in spite of all the changes of sensible things; and thou wilt be ever jubilant with a cheerful heart; because the very source, whence the heart is wont to be troubled, shall strengthen it in thee.

Behold, My Child, the way to true peace, which leads up by degrees even to perfection. Blessed are they that walk therein. Outside of it can be found no real, no solid, no lasting peace.

If thou possessest not a virtuous heart, resigned to the Divine Will by humility and love, do whatsoever thou wilt, go whithersoever thou choosest, nowhere shalt thou find the happiness of peace.

When the heart is not well-disposed within, neither the shunning of occasions, nor the change of places, nor the loneliness of living, nor spiritual books, nor, in fine, the counseling of men can give true peace.

8. Remember, My Child, that the causes of inward trouble do not lie in objects outside of thee; but within thee, in the ill-ordered dispositions of the heart. Whenever thou dost no longer allow these causes to exist within thyself, outward objects will cease to be an occasion of trouble.

Now, there are as many causes that can make thee lose thy peace as there are ill-regulated affections of the heart. And not only do the affection for evil or vain things belong to this class, but also those for good and holy objects, if indulged in contrary to the Divine good pleasure.

Wherefore, so soon as thou detectest aught inordinate within thyself, thou shouldst persist in the use of prayer, special self-examination, and other fit remedies, that thou mayst, quietly and effectually, cast it out of thy heart.

How many, even virtuous souls, there are that anxiously seek after peace-----using for this purpose various means, and these no bad means-----and yet find only greater uneasiness; because they proceed in an unorderly manner, longing too much or too eagerly for the end of the trouble which they feel, or for the obtaining of rest after which they sigh, or because they annoy themselves in the use of the means, or desire to experience a sensible peace!

Seek thou peace in a peaceful manner; and, as it is to be found in the superior part of the heart-----where the rational will presides, under faith and grace-----possess and preserve it there.

Thus, My Child, thou shalt be able to enjoy constantly a holy peace, My peace, which is the privilege of every true Disciple of My Heart, the seasoning of prosperity, the soother of adversity, the chief of all blessings; in short, the sweet and necessary means of perfection and holiness.

9. The voice of the Disciple.-----O Jesus, God of peace, and Father of all consolation! Oh! how I desire, how I long for peace, Thy peace, so sweet and holy!

Let others, who wish for them, possess the other good things of life; to me, I beseech Thee, give Thou peace, for me the greatest good of this life, embracing all I desire.

Grant me kindly, to make a proper use of the means appointed, that thus I may become a true Disciple of Thy Heart,-----ever peaceful in meekness and humbleness of heart.

O Prince of peace, most sweet Jesus! Whose delight it is to reign in a pure and quiet heart; so establish Thy kingdom in my heart that it be never disturbed, but constantly strengthened more and more until Thou admittest me to rule with Thee in heavenly bliss, where, with the Angels and Saints, Thou reignest in peace everlasting.

CHAPTER XVII. THAT THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS,
ENTERING UPON HIS PUBLIC LIFE, TEACHES US ZEAL FOR SOULS

1. The voice of Jesus.-----My Child, God sent His Son into the world, that the world may be saved by
Him.

Do not then wonder, if zeal for souls was ever pressing and incessantly urging on My Heart, that
It might spread the kingdom of Divine love over the hearts of men, by every means which My heavenly Father had placed at Its disposal.

Hitherto I had remained hidden in solitude, as it were to prepare Myself for the work, and to teach all the Disciples of My Heart that they must first have an ardent zeal for them selves before they can profitably exhibit zeal for their neighbor.

Behold! whilst I was sanctifying Myself for the salvation of souls, how often, and with how great a fervor of Heart, was I wont to pray for them, that they might live for the Lord their God, do no evil, and make progress in virtue!

I also associated with My Disciples and Apostles, whom, filled with the Spirit of My zeal, I cheered on; to whom I communicated My intentions; upon whom I looked rejoiced in Heart, because they applied themselves strenuously to the salvation of souls.

I went around, teaching, and speaking of the kingdom of God,-----seizing every opportunity, in private and in public, to induce men to do better.

The example of My life shone forth, like a light that had risen for a people seated in darkness. For I went about doing good to all, and manifesting to everyone the humility and charity of My Heart.

How greatly they were edified and moved when they beheld Me toiling all day for their advantage and salvation; and, in the mean time, frequently withdrawing from the multitude, that, for a little while, I might pray alone! When they learned that, after the labors and journeys of the day-----whilst My wearied Apostles refreshed themselves by nightly slumbers-----I Myself was wont to spend the night in prayer!
Finally, since all power in Heaven and on earth had been given to Me, I employed the same for the exercise of the zeal of My Heart, for the Divine glory, for the gaining of souls; and I wrought as many miracles as were necessary and proper for the salvation of all.

Behold, My Child, the means which the zeal of My Heart employed to win souls. Are not the same means at thy disposal, in whatever state of life thou mayst be? Use them, therefore, earnestly for My glory and the salvation of souls.

2. Do thou frequently pray; and, in the spirit of prayer, offer some mortifications-----little and light though they be-----some works of piety and mercy, thy spiritual exercises, and even thy ordinary occupations for this, that My straying children-----who are miserably pining away in the far-off country, either of infidelity, heresy, or sin-making, at last, a better use of their freedom, may rejoice My Heart by their happy return; moreover, that the good may advance in virtue, may strive after better gifts, and continue to aspire to perfection.

O, if thou didst know how powerful prayer is for the salvation of souls! How many interior persons there are, and they too secluded from intercourse with the world, who, individually, by prayer alone, have snatched thousands of souls from infidelity, heresy or sin, and raised them to bliss everlasting!

 Understand, then, My Child, what thou mayst effect by prayer.

Try to inspire some persons with zeal; they thus become thy disciples and apostles, whom thou sendest in quest of souls.

Thus thou wilt perform many things, not by thyself alone, but also through others; who, in turn, will animate and send others; and, in this manner, transmit them from generation to generation.

Be eager to speak frequently on subjects that breathe piety; which promote edification, and render virtue attractive. How many are there now in Heaven who owe the occasion of their everlasting felicity to some pious conversation?

It is, indeed, true, My Child, that thou shouldst not be importunate; so as to deter thy neighbor from virtue, rather than draw him to it; but a genuine and fervent zeal knows how to employ a holy dexterity, to produce and employ fit opportunities of conversing on subjects of piety.

Wonderfully effective is good example. It gives life and power to all other outward means. Take this away, and what can all the rest effect? It may cause a noise to the senses, it cannot move the heart.

By the example of thy life, therefore, do thou show forth the incomparable delights of My love; prove to thy neighbor that he, who lovingly serves Me, is, even in this world, most happy. Thus thou shalt, in some manner, force thy neighbor to taste and experience how pleasant is the service of My Heart-----the service of My love.

If thou canst not work miracles, so as to suspend the laws of the universe, thou canst, by co-operating with Divine grace, perform wonders. Why? is it not wonderful, nay prodigious, that, for pure love of Me, thou overlookest thy own interest, that thou mayst have a care of that of others? thou returnest good for evil? esteemest thyself blissful with Me, in the midst of humiliations?

These and the like prodigies of grace, My Child, have sometimes moved hearts that had resisted all other means, and induced them to pursue a better course.

3. In every place, and at all times, My Child, be thou full of zeal for souls; so that whosoever approaches thee may feel an incentive to virtue or perfection. Do not believe that thou art a true Disciple of My Heart, if thou hast no zeal, no efficacious will for the salvation and perfection of souls. But if thou art desirous of proving in deed, that thou really lovest and followest My Heart, foster an ardent zeal.

What canst thou do more pleasing to My Heart than to labor at the salvation and perfection of
souls-----created to love and glorify Me for evermore?

If thou sendest only one soul to Heaven, thou givest Me more glory than all men together, on earth, have ever given Me, or can ever procure for Me. For, whatever glory mortals, on earth, give Me, is limited by the number of acts which are at last finished: but the glory which a blessed soul, in Heaven, gives Me-----since it is ever-enduring-----is equivalent to a number of acts to which there shall be no end forever. Consider, My Child, how greatly I valued the salvation of souls, since for this object I came down from Heaven; sought it through incessant and arduous labors and hardships; and, lastly, sacrificed My very life for the same.

Oh, if thou didst know the worth of a soul, with how great a zeal for her salvation wouldst thou be inflamed! Learn what she is worth, by the price at which I ransomed her.

Save a soul, and behold! thou shalt have performed a deed incomparably more precious than
if thou hadst gained this whole world, with all its possessions.

My Child, if thou savest the soul of thy neighbor, thou freest thy own: for he that shall cause a sinner to turn from the error of his way, shall save his own soul from death, and cover a multitude of sins.

How great a joy shall it be to thee, My Child, after this life, to behold in Heaven the Elect, who, after grace, owe to thee-----some their heavenly bliss, others the height of their sanctity, and a corresponding everlasting glory; and who will repay thee with a thousand thanksgivings forever!

Verily, the help in the salvation and perfection of souls is not only the most excellent of all things human, but even the most godlike of all things Divine.

4. Pray frequently, that thy heart may be endowed with a true zeal-----one which humility supports, charity stimulates, science shapes, discretion guides and perseverance strengthens.

Take heed, lest thou suffer thyself to be animated with a zeal which springs, not from grace in a meek and humble heart, but from nature, under the influence of some passion. He that is led by this zeal, whilst he endeavors to root out sins, multiplies them; and whilst he burns to make others better in deed, renders them worse in heart.

Strive, as much as thou morally canst, everywhere to correct what is evil, and to promote what is good.

But, whilst thou art doing what is in thy power, endure patiently whatsoever thou art unable to correct or improve-----intrusting all things to My Divine Providence, and praying that all may, at last, serve for My greater glory.

My Child, if the work of thy zeal do not succeed at the first attempt, try again and again. It happens that men-----listening secretly to the evil spirit, or lulled to sleep by lukewarmness-----at first scarcely hearken to what is better; but that afterward-----when the good Spirit, by means of interior remorse, repeats what they have heard, and exhorts them from within-----the zeal of the zealous laborer urging them on, and grace moving them, they turn and surrender.

So long as I wait, so long as I endure a mortal, thou shouldst by no means despair of him. If he
is an unbeliever now, how knowest thou whether he will not soon be a believer? If he is a heretic at present, whence knowest thou that he will not soon follow Catholic truth? If a schismatic today, he may be united to the Church tomorrow.

Paul was in the morning a persecutor of the Church; in the evening he was a Vessel of election. Magdalen was a sinner in the city on one day; on the following she was a model of every virtue,-----a Seraph-like lover of My Heart.

How many there are, who, seemingly lost beyond all hope, in their errors or sins, were yet converted, and found the happy life of grace in this world and the blissful life of glory in the next? Has, then, the power of grace grown less? has man's freewill become extinct?

5. If, in spite of thy endeavors, men be unwilling to be converted, do not lose thy peace of heart.

Imitate the holy Guardian Angels, who, after having done whatever they should and could have done-----if the men committed to their charge do not repent nor improve-----remain equally peaceful, equally blissful.

If there be any who do not avail themselves of the efforts of thy zeal for the good of their souls, these endeavors shall not be less rewarded; since, with Me, an efficacious will is reputed equal to success.

It is thy duty to water the plants of grace-----not to give them increase. Water them, ,therefore, and labor cheerfully, and, whether or not thou seest an increase, thou shalt never toil without profit to thyself, and honor to Me.

6. Meanwhile, My Child, thou must take heed, lest, whilst thou art laboring to save others, or to make them perfect, thou suffer thyself to become a castaway or a disregarder of thy own perfection.

In thy heart believe that they, to whose spiritual good thou appliest thyself, are already better than thyself, or that they shall be so some day: and how much good soever thou effectest in souls, deem thyself no more than a cymbal, which, without another's aid, cannot give forth a sound.

The more disinterestedly thou shalt have Me for thy aim, and the more humbly thou shalt think concerning thyself, the more fit shalt thou be to promote the salvation and perfection of souls.

For I select weak instruments of this kind-----weak in their own eyes-----to perform My own great works; that no one may glory in his strength, but that to Me may be given all the honor and glory.

7. Th
e Voice of the Disciple.-----It is not, then, enough, Lord Jesus, that I alone love Thee: it is necessary that others also love Thee; that all serve Thee. For Thou art supremely, Thou art for every reason, worthy of the love of all hearts.

O Jesus! if men knew Thee, would they ever offend Thee? Would they not love Thee with their whole heart?

How sweet a labor, to win hearts to Thee! how angelic an employment! how godlike a work!

Who will grant me, to travel over the whole earth, to captivate all hearts, to enkindle them with love for Thee!

Oh would, most sweet Jesus, that I held possession of all hearts, that I might devote them all to Thee, consecrate them to Thy love!

Receive, I beseech Thee, the desire of my heart, whereby I long to be able to secure for Thee, upon earth, as great a love from all men as Thy Angels and Saints show Thee in Heaven.

Let me become, I entreat Thee, the apostle of Thy Heart, that I may spread Thy love everywhere; that, with a ready and generous heart, I may spend my labor, my pains, my every means, and, over and above, spend myself, for souls that may love and glorify Thee through all eternity.

Part One