IN THE LIFE OF THE SOUL
The First Chapter
Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth
HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness," says the Lord
(John 8:12). By
these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and
habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all
blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study
the life of Jesus Christ.
The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice
of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden
manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care
little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet
whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to
pattern his whole life on that of Christ.
What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if,
lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not
learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes
him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how
to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible
by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live
without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is
vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.
This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven
through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek
and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor
and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts
of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later
must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little
about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the
present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is
vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where
eternal joy abides.
Often recall the proverb: "The eye is not satisfied with
seeing nor the ear filled with hearing" (Eccles. 1:8). Try, moreover, to turn
your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to
things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions
stain their consciences and lose the grace of God.
The Second Chapter
Having a Humble Opinion of Self
EVERY man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge
without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is
better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study
the course of the stars. He who knows himself well becomes mean in
his own eyes and is not happy when praised by men.
If I knew all things in the world and had not charity, what
would it profit me before God Who will judge me by my deeds?
Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is
much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned
and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of
which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns
himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is
Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the
mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God.
The more you know and the better you understand, the more
severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more
holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or
skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you. If you think
you know many things and understand them well enough, realize at
the same time that there is much you do not know. Hence, do not
affect wisdom, but admit your ignorance. Why prefer yourself to
anyone else when many are more learned, more cultured than you?
If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while,
then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know
and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel. To think of
oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others
is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another
sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself
better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good
estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more
frail than yourself.
The Third Chapter
The Doctrine of Truth
HAPPY is he to whom truth manifests itself, not in signs and words
that fade, but as it actually is. Our opinions, our senses often
deceive us and we discern very little.
What good is much discussion of involved and obscure matters
when our ignorance of them will not be held against us on Judgment
Day? Neglect of things which are profitable and necessary and
undue concern with those which are irrelevant and harmful, are
We have eyes and do not see.
What, therefore, have we to do with questions of philosophy?
He to whom the Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing. For
from this Word are all things and of Him all things speak -- the
Beginning Who also speaks to us. Without this Word no man
understands or judges aright. He to whom it becomes everything,
who traces all things to it and who sees all things in it, may
ease his heart and remain at peace with God.
O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love
everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and
read, but in You is all that I long for. Let the learned be still,
let all creatures be silent before You; You alone speak to me.
The more recollected a man is, and the more simple of heart
he becomes, the easier he understands sublime things, for he
receives the light of knowledge from above. The pure, simple, and
steadfast spirit is not distracted by many labors, for he does
them all for the honor of God. And since he enjoys interior peace
he seeks no selfish end in anything. What, indeed, gives more
trouble and affliction than uncontrolled desires of the heart?
A good and devout man arranges in his mind the things he has
to do, not according to the whims of evil inclination but
according to the dictates of right reason. Who is forced to
struggle more than he who tries to master himself? This ought to
be our purpose, then: to conquer self, to become stronger each
day, to advance in virtue.
Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed
with it and no learning of ours is without some darkness. Humble
knowledge of self is a surer path to God than the ardent pursuit
of learning. Not that learning is to be considered evil, or
knowledge, which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a
clean conscience and virtuous life ought always to be preferred.
Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because they try
to become learned rather than to live well.
If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting
virtues as they do in discussing problems, there would not be so
much evil and scandal in the world, or such laxity in religious
organizations. On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be
asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we
have spoken but how well we have lived.
Tell me, where now are all the masters and teachers whom you
knew so well in life and who were famous for their learning?
Others have already taken their places and I know not whether they
ever think of their predecessors. During life they seemed to be
something; now they are seldom remembered. How quickly the glory
of the world passes away! If only their lives had kept pace with
their learning, then their study and reading would have been worth
How many there are who perish because of vain worldly
knowledge and too little care for serving God. They became vain in
their own conceits because they chose to be great rather than
He is truly great who has great charity. He is truly great
who is little in his own eyes and makes nothing of the highest
honor. He is truly wise who looks upon all earthly things as folly
that he may gain Christ. He who does God's will and renounces his
own is truly very learned.
The Fourth Chapter
Prudence in Action
DO NOT yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider things
carefully and patiently in the light of God's will. For very
often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil
of others rather than good. Perfect men, however, do not readily
believe every talebearer, because they know that human frailty is
prone to evil and is likely to appear in speech.
Not to act rashly or to cling obstinately to one's opinion,
not to believe everything people say or to spread abroad the
gossip one has heard, is great wisdom.
Take counsel with a wise and conscientious man. Seek the
advice of your betters in preference to following your own
A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him
experience in many things, for the more humble he is and the more
subject to God, the wiser and the more at peace he will be in all
The Fifth Chapter
Reading the Holy Scripture
TRUTH, not eloquence, is to be sought in reading the Holy
Scriptures; and every part must be read in the spirit in which it
was written. For in the Scriptures we ought to seek profit rather
than polished diction.
Likewise we ought to read simple and devout books as
willingly as learned and profound ones. We ought not to be swayed
by the authority of the writer, whether he be a great literary
light or an insignificant person, but by the love of simple truth.
We ought not to ask who is speaking, but mark what is said. Men
pass away, but the truth of the Lord remains forever. God speaks
to us in many ways without regard for persons.
Our curiosity often impedes our reading of the Scriptures,
when we wish to understand and mull over what we ought simply to
read and pass by.
If you would profit from it, therefore, read with humility,
simplicity, and faith, and never seek a reputation for being
learned. Seek willingly and listen attentively to the words of the
saints; do not be displeased with the sayings of the ancients, for
they were not made without purpose.
The Sixth Chapter
WHEN a man desires a thing too much, he at once becomes ill at
ease. A proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who is
poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace. An unmortified
man is quickly tempted and overcome in small, trifling evils; his
spirit is weak, in a measure carnal and inclined to sensual
things; he can hardly abstain from earthly desires. Hence it makes
him sad to forego them; he is quick to anger if reproved. Yet if
he satisfies his desires, remorse of conscience overwhelms him
because he followed his passions and they did not lead to the
peace he sought.
True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions,
not in satisfying them. There is no peace in the carnal man, in
the man given to vain attractions, but there is peace in the
fervent and spiritual man.
The Seventh Chapter
Avoiding False Hope and Pride
VAIN is the man who puts his trust in men, in created things.
Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus
Christ and to seem poor in this world. Do not be self-sufficient
but place your trust in God. Do what lies in your power and God
will aid your good will. Put no trust in your own learning nor in
the cunning of any man, but rather in the grace of God Who helps
the humble and humbles the proud.
If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends
because they are powerful, but in God Who gives all things and Who
desires above all to give Himself. Do not boast of personal
stature or of physical beauty, qualities which are marred and
destroyed by a little sickness. Do not take pride in your talent
or ability, lest you displease God to Whom belongs all the natural
gifts that you have.
Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you
be accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not
take pride in your good deeds, for God's judgments differ from
those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him. If there
is good in you, see more good in others, so that you may remain
humble. It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else,
but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. The
humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud
are envy and frequent anger.
The Eighth Chapter
DO NOT open your heart to every man, but discuss your affairs with
one who is wise and who fears God. Do not keep company with young
people and strangers. Do not fawn upon the rich, and do not be
fond of mingling with the great. Associate with the humble and the
simple, with the devout and virtuous, and with them speak of
edifying things. Be not intimate with any woman, but generally
commend all good women to God. Seek only the intimacy of God and
of His angels, and avoid the notice of men.
We ought to have charity for all men but familiarity with all
is not expedient. Sometimes it happens that a person enjoys a good
reputation among those who do not know him, but at the same time
is held in slight regard by those who do. Frequently we think we
are pleasing others by our presence and we begin rather to
displease them by the faults they find in us.
The Ninth Chapter
Obedience and Subjection
IT IS a very great thing to obey, to live under a superior and not
to be one's own master, for it is much safer to be subject than it
is to command. Many live in obedience more from necessity than
from love. Such become discontented and dejected on the slightest
pretext; they will never gain peace of mind unless they subject
themselves wholeheartedly for the love of God.
Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble
obedience to the rule of authority. Dreams of happiness expected
from change and different places have deceived many.
Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is
attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we
must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace.
Furthermore, who is so wise that he can have full knowledge
of everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions, but be
willing to listen to those of others. If, though your own be good,
you accept another's opinion for love of God, you will gain much
more merit; for I have often heard that it is safer to listen to
advice and take it than to give it. It may happen, too, that while
one's own opinion may be good, refusal to agree with others when
reason and occasion demand it, is a sign of pride and obstinacy.
The Tenth Chapter
Avoiding Idle Talk
SHUN the gossip of men as much as possible, for discussion of
worldly affairs, even though sincere, is a great distraction
inasmuch as we are quickly ensnared and captivated by vanity.
Many a time I wish that I had held my peace and had not
associated with men. Why, indeed, do we converse and gossip among
ourselves when we so seldom part without a troubled conscience? We
do so because we seek comfort from one another's conversation and
wish to ease the mind wearied by diverse thoughts. Hence, we talk
and think quite fondly of things we like very much or of things we
dislike intensely. But, sad to say, we often talk vainly and to no
purpose; for this external pleasure effectively bars inward and
Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly.
When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say
something that will edify.
Bad habits and indifference to spiritual progress do much to
remove the guard from the tongue. Devout conversation on spiritual
matters, on the contrary, is a great aid to spiritual progress,
especially when persons of the same mind and spirit associate
together in God.
The Eleventh Chapter
Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection
WE SHOULD enjoy much peace if we did not concern ourselves with
what others say and do, for these are no concern of ours. How can
a man who meddles in affairs not his own, who seeks strange
distractions, and who is little or seldom inwardly recollected,
live long in peace?
Blessed are the simple of heart for they shall enjoy peace in
Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to
contemplation? Because they tried to mortify entirely in
themselves all earthly desires, and thus they were able to attach
themselves to God with all their heart and freely to concentrate
their innermost thoughts.
We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken
up with passing things. Rarely do we completely conquer even one
vice, and we are not inflamed with the desire to improve ourselves
day by day; hence, we remain cold and indifferent. If we mortified
our bodies perfectly and allowed no distractions to enter our
minds, we could appreciate divine things and experience something
of heavenly contemplation.
The greatest obstacle, indeed, the only obstacle, is that we
are not free from passions and lusts, that we do not try to follow
the perfect way of the saints. Thus when we encounter some slight
difficulty, we are too easily dejected and turn to human
consolations. If we tried, however, to stand as brave men in
battle, the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain us.
For He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory, is
ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace.
If we let our progress in religious life depend on the
observance of its externals alone, our devotion will quickly come
to an end. Let us, then, lay the ax to the root that we may be
freed from our passions and thus have peace of mind.
If we were to uproot only one vice each year, we should soon
The contrary, however, is often the case -- we
feel that we were better and purer in the first fervor of our
conversion than we are after many years in the practice of our
faith. Our fervor and progress ought to increase day by day; yet
it is now considered noteworthy if a man can retain even a part of
his first fervor.
If we did a little violence to ourselves at the start, we
should afterwards be able to do all things with ease and joy.
is hard to break old habits, but harder still to go against our
If you do not overcome small, trifling things, how will you
overcome the more difficult? Resist temptations in the beginning,
and unlearn the evil habit lest perhaps, little by little, it lead
to a more evil one.
If you but consider what peace a good life will bring to
yourself and what joy it will give to others, I think you will be
more concerned about your spiritual progress.
The Twelfth Chapter
The Value of Adversity
IT IS good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they
often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in
any worldly thing. It is good for us sometimes to suffer
contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and
mean well. These things help us to be humble and shield us from
vainglory. When to all outward appearances men give us no credit,
when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to
seek God Who sees our hearts. Therefore, a man ought to root
himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of
When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented
by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is
God, without Whom he can do no good. Saddened by his miseries and
sufferings, he laments and prays. He wearies of living longer and
wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be with Christ.
Then he understands fully that perfect security and complete peace
cannot be found on earth.
The Thirteenth Chapter
SO LONG as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and
temptation. Whence it is written in Job: "The life of man upon
earth is a warfare" (Job 7:1). Everyone, therefore, must guard against
temptation and must watch in prayer lest the devil, who never
sleeps but goes about seeking whom he may devour, find occasion to
deceive him. No one is so perfect or so holy but he is sometimes
tempted; man cannot be altogether free from temptation.
Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often
useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and
instructed. The saints all passed through many temptations and
trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist became
reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy, no place so
secret that temptations and trials will not come. Man is never
safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from within us
-- in sin we were born. When one temptation or trial passes,
another comes; we shall always have something to suffer because we
have lost the state of original blessedness.
Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more
deeply. We cannot conquer simply by fleeing, but by patience and
true humility we become stronger than all our enemies. The man who
only shuns temptations outwardly and does not uproot them will
make little progress; indeed they will quickly return, more
violent than before.
Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will
overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your
own rash ways. Often take counsel when tempted; and do not be
harsh with others who are tempted, but console them as you
yourself would wish to be consoled.
The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and
little trust in God, for as a rudderless ship is driven hither and
yon by waves, so a careless and irresolute man is tempted in many
ways. Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just. Often we
do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we
Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings
of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is
refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold
when he knocks.
Someone has said very aptly: "Resist the beginnings; remedies
come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength."
First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination,
followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he
is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the
longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he
become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against
Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their
conversion, others toward the end, while some are troubled almost
constantly throughout their life. Others, again, are tempted but
lightly according to the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence
Who weighs the status and merit of each and prepares all for the
salvation of His elect.
We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but
pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us, for
according to the word of Paul, He will make issue with temptation
that we may be able to bear it. Let us humble our souls under the
hand of God in every trial and temptation for He will save and
exalt the humble in spirit.
In temptations and trials the progress of a man is measured;
in them opportunity for merit and virtue is made more manifest.
When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be
fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of
adversity, there is hope for great progress.
Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently
overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in
small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great
The Fourteenth Chapter
Avoiding Rash Judgment
TURN your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds
of other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly, often
makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking
stock of himself he does something that is always profitable.
We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be,
for through personal feeling true perspective is easily lost.
If God were the sole object of our desire, we should not be
disturbed so easily by opposition to our opinions. But often
something lurks within or happens from without to draw us along
Many, unawares, seek themselves in the things they do. They
seem even to enjoy peace of mind when things happen according to
their wish and liking, but if otherwise than they desire, they are
soon disturbed and saddened. Differences of feeling and opinion
often divide friends and acquaintances, even those who are
religious and devout.
An old habit is hard to break, and no one is willing to be
led farther than he can see.
If you rely more upon your intelligence or industry than upon
the virtue of submission to Jesus Christ, you will hardly, and in
any case slowly, become an enlightened man. God wants us to be
completely subject to Him and, through ardent love, to rise above
all human wisdom.
The Fifteenth Chapter
Works Done in Charity
NEVER do evil for anything in the world, or for the love of any
man. For one who is in need, however, a good work may at times be
purposely left undone or changed for a better one. This is not the
omission of a good deed but rather its improvement.
Without charity external work is of no value, but anything
done in charity, be it ever so small and trivial, is entirely
fruitful inasmuch as God weighs the love with which a man acts
rather than the deed itself.
He does much who loves much. He does much who does a thing
well. He does well who serves the common good rather than his own
Now, that which seems to be charity is oftentimes really
sensuality, for man's own inclination, his own will, his hope of
reward, and his self-interest, are motives seldom absent.
contrary, he who has true and perfect charity seeks self in
nothing, but searches all things for the glory of God. Moreover,
he envies no man, because he desires no personal pleasure nor does
he wish to rejoice in himself; rather he desires the greater glory
of God above all things. He ascribes to man nothing that is good
but attributes it wholly to God from Whom all things proceed as
from a fountain, and in Whom all the blessed shall rest as their
last end and fruition.
If man had but a spark of true charity he would surely sense
that all the things of earth are full of vanity!
The Sixteenth Chapter
Bearing with the Faults of Others
UNTIL God ordains otherwise, a man ought to bear patiently
whatever he cannot correct in himself and in others. Consider it
better thus -- perhaps to try your patience and to test you, for
without such patience and trial your merits are of little account.
Nevertheless, under such difficulties you should pray that God
will consent to help you bear them calmly.
If, after being admonished once or twice, a person does not
amend, do not argue with him but commit the whole matter to God
that His will and honor may be furthered in all His servants, for
God knows well how to turn evil to good. Try to bear patiently
with the defects and infirmities of others, whatever they may be,
because you also have many a fault which others must endure.
If you cannot make yourself what you would wish to be, how
can you bend others to your will? We want them to be perfect, yet
we do not correct our own faults. We wish them to be severely
corrected, yet we will not correct ourselves. Their great liberty
displeases us, yet we would not be denied what we ask. We would
have them bound by laws, yet we will allow ourselves to be
restrained in nothing. Hence, it is clear how seldom we think of
others as we do of ourselves.
If all were perfect, what should we have to suffer from
others for God's sake? But God has so ordained, that we may learn
to bear with one another's burdens, for there is no man without
fault, no man without burden, no man sufficient to himself nor
wise enough. Hence we must support one another, console one
another, mutually help, counsel, and advise, for the measure of
every man's virtue is best revealed in time of adversity --
adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.
The Seventeenth Chapter
IF YOU wish peace and concord with others, you must learn to break
your will in many things. To live in monasteries or religious
communities, to remain there without complaint, and to persevere
faithfully till death is no small matter. Blessed indeed is he who
there lives a good life and there ends his days in happiness.
If you would persevere in seeking perfection, you must
consider yourself a pilgrim, an exile on earth. If you would
become a religious, you must be content to seem a fool for the
sake of Christ. Habit and tonsure change a man but little; it is
the change of life, the complete mortification of passions that
endow a true religious.
He who seeks anything but God alone and the salvation of his
soul will find only trouble and grief, and he who does not try to
become the least, the servant of all, cannot remain at peace for
You have come to serve, not to rule. You must understand,
too, that you have been called to suffer and to work, not to idle
and gossip away your time. Here men are tried as gold in a
furnace. Here no man can remain unless he desires with all his
heart to humble himself before God.
The Eighteenth Chapter
The Example Set Us by the Holy Fathers
CONSIDER the lively examples set us by the saints, who possessed
the light of true perfection and religion, and you will see how
little, how nearly nothing, we do. What, alas, is our life,
compared with theirs? The saints and friends of Christ served the
Lord in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, in work and
fatigue, in vigils and fasts, in prayers and holy meditations, in
persecutions and many afflictions. How many and severe were the
trials they suffered -- the Apostles, martyrs, confessors,
virgins, and all the rest who willed to follow in the footsteps of
Christ! They hated their lives on earth that they might have life
How strict and detached were the lives the holy hermits led
in the desert! What long and grave temptations they suffered! How
often were they beset by the enemy! What frequent and ardent
prayers they offered to God! What rigorous fasts they observed!
How great their zeal and their love for spiritual perfection! How
brave the fight they waged to master their evil habits! What pure
and straightforward purpose they showed toward God! By day they
labored and by night they spent themselves in long prayers. Even
at work they did not cease from mental prayer. They used all their
time profitably; every hour seemed too short for serving God, and
in the great sweetness of contemplation, they forgot even their
They renounced all riches, dignities, honors, friends, and
associates. They desired nothing of the world. They scarcely
allowed themselves the necessities of life, and the service of the
body, even when necessary, was irksome to them. They were poor in
earthly things but rich in grace and virtue. Outwardly destitute,
inwardly they were full of grace and divine consolation. Strangers
to the world, they were close and intimate friends of God. To
themselves they seemed as nothing, and they were despised by the
world, but in the eyes of God they were precious and beloved. They
lived in true humility and simple obedience; they walked in
charity and patience, making progress daily on the pathway of
spiritual life and obtaining great favor with God.
They were given as an example for all religious, and their
power to stimulate us to perfection ought to be greater than that
of the lukewarm to tempt us to laxity.
How great was the fervor of all religious in the beginning of
their holy institution! How great their devotion in prayer and
their rivalry for virtue! What splendid discipline flourished
among them! What great reverence and obedience in all things under
the rule of a superior! The footsteps they left behind still bear
witness that they indeed were holy and perfect men who fought
bravely and conquered the world.
Today, he who is not a transgressor and who can bear
patiently the duties which he has taken upon himself is considered
great. How lukewarm and negligent we are! We lose our original
fervor very quickly and we even become weary of life from
laziness! Do not you, who have seen so many examples of the
devout, fall asleep in the pursuit of virtue!
The Nineteenth Chapter
The Practices of a Good Religious
THE life of a good religious ought to abound in every virtue so
that he is interiorly what to others he appears to be. With good
reason there ought to be much more within than appears on the
outside, for He who sees within is God, Whom we ought to reverence
most highly wherever we are and in Whose sight we ought to walk
pure as the angels.
Each day we ought to renew our resolutions and arouse
ourselves to fervor as though it were the first day of our
religious life. We ought to say: "Help me, O Lord God, in my good
resolution and in Your holy service. Grant me now, this very day,
to begin perfectly, for thus far I have done nothing."
As our intention is, so will be our progress; and he who
desires perfection must be very diligent. If the strong-willed man
fails frequently, what of the man who makes up his mind seldom or
half-heartedly? Many are the ways of failing in our resolutions;
even a slight omission of religious practice entails a loss of
Just men depend on the grace of God rather than on their own
wisdom in keeping their resolutions. In Him they confide every
undertaking, for man, indeed, proposes but God disposes, and God's
way is not man's. If a habitual exercise is sometimes omitted out
of piety or in the interests of another, it can easily be resumed
later. But if it be abandoned carelessly, through weariness or
neglect, then the fault is great and will prove hurtful. Much as
we try, we still fail too easily in many things. Yet we must
always have some fixed purpose, especially against things which
beset us the most. Our outward and inward lives alike must be
closely watched and well ordered, for both are important to
If you cannot recollect yourself continuously, do so once a
day at least, in the morning or in the evening. In the morning
make a resolution and in the evening examine yourself on what you
have said this day, what you have done and thought, for in these
things perhaps you have often offended God and those about you.
Arm yourself like a man against the devil's assaults. Curb
your appetite and you will more easily curb every inclination of
the flesh. Never be completely unoccupied, but read or write or
pray or meditate or do something for the common good. Bodily
discipline, however, must be undertaken with discretion and is not
to be practiced indiscriminately by everyone.
Devotions not common to all are not to be displayed in
public, for such personal things are better performed in private.
Furthermore, beware of indifference to community prayer through
love of your own devotions. If, however, after doing completely
and faithfully all you are bound and commanded to do, you then
have leisure, use it as personal piety suggests.
Not everyone can have the same devotion. One exactly suits
this person, another that. Different exercises, likewise, are
suitable for different times, some for feast days and some again
for weekdays. In time of temptation we need certain devotions. For
days of rest and peace we need others. Some are suitable when we
are sad, others when we are joyful in the Lord.
About the time of the principal feasts good devotions ought
to be renewed and the intercession of the saints more fervently
implored. From one feast day to the next we ought to fix our
purpose as though we were then to pass from this world and come to
the eternal holyday.
During holy seasons, finally, we ought to prepare ourselves
carefully, to live holier lives, and to observe each rule more
strictly, as though we were soon to receive from God the reward of
our labors. If this end be deferred, let us believe that we are
not well prepared and that we are not yet worthy of the great
glory that shall in due time be revealed to us. Let us try,
meanwhile, to prepare ourselves better for death.
"Blessed is the servant," says Christ, "whom his master, when
he cometh, shall find watching. Amen I say to you: he shall make
him ruler over all his goods" (Luke 12:43, 44).
The Twentieth Chapter
The Love of Solitude and Silence
SEEK a suitable time for leisure and meditate often on the favors
of God. Leave curiosities alone. Read such matters as bring sorrow
to the heart rather than occupation to the mind. If you withdraw
yourself from unnecessary talking and idle running about, from
listening to gossip and rumors, you will find enough time that is
suitable for holy meditation.
Very many great saints avoided the company of men wherever
possible and chose to serve God in retirement. "As often as I have
been among men," said one writer, "I have returned less a man." We
often find this to be true when we take part in long
conversations. It is easier to be silent altogether than not to
speak too much. To stay at home is easier than to be sufficiently
on guard while away. Anyone, then, who aims to live the inner and
spiritual life must go apart, with Jesus, from the crowd.
No man appears in safety before the public eye unless he
first relishes obscurity. No man is safe in speaking unless he
loves to be silent. No man rules safely unless he is willing to be
ruled. No man commands safely unless he has learned well how to
obey. No man rejoices safely unless he has within him the
testimony of a good conscience.
More than this, the security of the saints was always
enveloped in the fear of God, nor were they less cautious and
humble because they were conspicuous for great virtues and graces.
The security of the wicked, on the contrary, springs from pride
and presumption, and will end in their own deception.
Never promise yourself security in this life, even though you
seem to be a good religious, or a devout hermit. It happens very
often that those whom men esteem highly are more seriously
endangered by their own excessive confidence. Hence, for many it
is better not to be too free from temptations, but often to be
tried lest they become too secure, too filled with pride, or even
too eager to fall back upon external comforts.
If only a man would never seek passing joys or entangle
himself with worldly affairs, what a good conscience he would
have. What great peace and tranquillity would be his, if he cut
himself off from all empty care and thought only of things divine,
things helpful to his soul, and put all his trust in God.
No man deserves the consolation of heaven unless he
persistently arouses himself to holy contrition. If you desire
true sorrow of heart, seek the privacy of your cell and shut out
the uproar of the world, as it is written: "In your chamber bewail
your sins." There you will find what too often you lose abroad.
Your cell will become dear to you if you remain in it, but if
you do not, it will become wearisome. If in the beginning of your
religious life, you live within your cell and keep to it, it will
soon become a special friend and a very great comfort.
In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in virtue and
learns the hidden truths of Scripture. There she finds a flood of
tears with which to bathe and cleanse herself nightly, that she
may become the more intimate with her Creator the farther she
withdraws from all the tumult of the world. For God and His holy
angels will draw near to him who withdraws from friends and
It is better for a man to be obscure and to attend to his
salvation than to neglect it and work miracles. It is praiseworthy
for a religious seldom to go abroad, to flee the sight of men and
have no wish to see them.
Why wish to see what you are not permitted to have? "The
world passes away and the concupiscence thereof." Sensual craving
sometimes entices you to wander around, but when the moment is
past, what do you bring back with you save a disturbed conscience
and heavy heart? A happy going often leads to a sad return, a
merry evening to a mournful dawn. Thus, all carnal joy begins
sweetly but in the end brings remorse and death.
What can you find elsewhere that you cannot find here in your
cell? Behold heaven and earth and all the elements, for of these
all things are made. What can you see anywhere under the sun that
will remain long? Perhaps you think you will completely satisfy
yourself, but you cannot do so, for if you should see all existing
things, what would they be but an empty vision?
Raise your eyes to God in heaven and pray because of your
sins and shortcomings. Leave vanity to the vain. Set yourself to
the things which God has commanded you to do. Close the door upon
yourself and call to you Jesus, your Beloved. Remain with Him in
your cell, for nowhere else will you find such peace. If you had
not left it, and had not listened to idle gossip, you would have
remained in greater peace. But since you love, sometimes, to hear
news, it is only right that you should suffer sorrow of heart from
The Twenty-First Chapter
Sorrow of Heart
IF YOU wish to make progress in virtue, live in the fear of the
Lord, do not look for too much freedom, discipline your senses,
and shun inane silliness. Sorrow opens the door to many a blessing
which dissoluteness usually destroys.
It is a wonder that any man who considers and meditates on
his exiled state and the many dangers to his soul, can ever be
perfectly happy in this life. Lighthearted and heedless of our
defects, we do not feel the real sorrows of our souls, but often
indulge in empty laughter when we have good reason to weep. No
liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is founded in the
fear of the Lord and a good conscience.
Happy is the man who can throw off the weight of every care
and recollect himself in holy contrition. Happy is the man who
casts from him all that can stain or burden his conscience.
Fight like a man. Habit is overcome by habit. If you leave
men alone, they will leave you alone to do what you have to do. Do
not busy yourself about the affairs of others and do not become
entangled in the business of your superiors. Keep an eye primarily
on yourself and admonish yourself instead of your friends.
If you do not enjoy the favor of men, do not let it sadden
you; but consider it a serious matter if you do not conduct
yourself as well or as carefully as is becoming for a servant of
God and a devout religious.
It is often better and safer for us to have few consolations
in this life, especially comforts of the body. Yet if we do not
have divine consolation or experience it rarely, it is our own
fault because we seek no sorrow of heart and do not forsake vain
Consider yourself unworthy of divine solace and deserving
rather of much tribulation. When a man is perfectly contrite, the
whole world is bitter and wearisome to him.
A good man always finds enough over which to mourn and weep;
whether he thinks of himself or of his neighbor he knows that no
one lives here without suffering, and the closer he examines
himself the more he grieves.
The sins and vices in which we are so entangled that we can
rarely apply ourselves to the contemplation of heaven are matters
for just sorrow and inner remorse.
I do not doubt that you would correct yourself more earnestly
if you would think more of an early death than of a long life. And
if you pondered in your heart the future pains of hell or of
purgatory, I believe you would willingly endure labor and trouble
and would fear no hardship. But since these thoughts never pierce
the heart and since we are enamored of flattering pleasure, we
remain very cold and indifferent. Our wretched body complains so
easily because our soul is altogether too lifeless.
Pray humbly to the Lord, therefore, that He may give you the
spirit of contrition and say with the Prophet: "Feed me, Lord,
with the bread of mourning and give me to drink of tears in full measure" (Ps. 79:6).
The Twenty-Second Chapter
Thoughts on the Misery of Man
WHEREVER you are, wherever you go, you are miserable unless you
turn to God. So why be dismayed when things do not happen as you
wish and desire? Is there anyone who has everything as he wishes?
No -- neither I, nor you, nor any man on earth. There is no one in
the world, be he Pope or king, who does not suffer trial and
Who is the better off then? Surely, it is the man who will
suffer something for God. Many unstable and weak-minded people
say: "See how well that man lives, how rich, how great he is, how
powerful and mighty." But you must lift up your eyes to the riches
of heaven and realize that the material goods of which they speak
are nothing. These things are uncertain and very burdensome
because they are never possessed without anxiety and fear. Man's
happiness does not consist in the possession of abundant goods; a
very little is enough.
Living on earth is truly a misery. The more a man desires
spiritual life, the more bitter the present becomes to him,
because he understands better and sees more clearly the defects,
the corruption of human nature. To eat and drink, to watch and
sleep, to rest, to labor, and to be bound by other human
necessities is certainly a great misery and affliction to the
devout man, who would gladly be released from them and be free
from all sin. Truly, the inner man is greatly burdened in this
world by the necessities of the body, and for this reason the
Prophet prayed that he might be as free from them as possible,
when he said: "From my necessities, O Lord, deliver me" (Ps. 24:17).
But woe to those who know not their own misery, and greater
woe to those who love this miserable and corruptible life. Some,
indeed, can scarcely procure its necessities either by work or by
begging; yet they love it so much that, if they could live here
always, they would care nothing for the kingdom of God.
How foolish and faithless of heart are those who are so
engrossed in earthly things as to relish nothing but what is
carnal! Miserable men indeed, for in the end they will see to
their sorrow how cheap and worthless was the thing they loved.
The saints of God and all devout friends of Christ did not
look to what pleases the body nor to the things that are popular
from time to time. Their whole hope and aim centered on the
everlasting good. Their whole desire pointed upward to the lasting
and invisible realm, lest the love of what is visible drag them
down to lower things.
Do not lose heart, then, my brother, in pursuing your
spiritual life. There is yet time, and your hour is not past. Why
delay your purpose? Arise! Begin at once and say: "Now is the time
to act, now is the time to fight, now is the proper time to
When you are troubled and afflicted, that is the time to gain
merit. You must pass through water and fire before coming to rest.
Unless you do violence to yourself you will not overcome vice.
So long as we live in this fragile body, we can neither be
free from sin nor live without weariness and sorrow. Gladly would
we rest from all misery, but in losing innocence through sin we
also lost true blessedness. Therefore, we must have patience and
await the mercy of God until this iniquity passes, until mortality
is swallowed up in life.
How great is the frailty of human nature which is ever prone
to evil! Today you confess your sins and tomorrow you again commit
the sins which you confessed. One moment you resolve to be
careful, and yet after an hour you act as though you had made no
We have cause, therefore, because of our frailty and
feebleness, to humble ourselves and never think anything great of
ourselves. Through neglect we may quickly lose that which by God's
grace we have acquired only through long, hard labor. What,
eventually, will become of us who so quickly grow lukewarm? Woe to
us if we presume to rest in peace and security when actually there
is no true holiness in our lives. It would be beneficial for us,
like good novices, to be instructed once more in the principles of
a good life, to see if there be hope of amendment and greater
spiritual progress in the future.
The Twenty-Third Chapter
Thoughts on Death
VERY soon your life here will end; consider, then, what may be in
store for you elsewhere. Today we live; tomorrow we die and are
quickly forgotten. Oh, the dullness and hardness of a heart which
looks only to the present instead of preparing for that which is
Therefore, in every deed and every thought, act as though you
were to die this very day. If you had a good conscience you would
not fear death very much. It is better to avoid sin than to fear
death. If you are not prepared today, how will you be prepared
tomorrow? Tomorrow is an uncertain day; how do you know you will
have a tomorrow?
What good is it to live a long life when we amend that life
so little? Indeed, a long life does not always benefit us, but on
the contrary, frequently adds to our guilt. Would that in this
world we had lived well throughout one single day. Many count up
the years they have spent in religion but find their lives made
little holier. If it is so terrifying to die, it is nevertheless
possible that to live longer is more dangerous. Blessed is he who
keeps the moment of death ever before his eyes and prepares for it
If you have ever seen a man die, remember that you, too, must
go the same way. In the morning consider that you may not live
till evening, and when evening comes do not dare to promise
yourself the dawn. Be always ready, therefore, and so live that
death will never take you unprepared. Many die suddenly and
unexpectedly, for in the unexpected hour the Son of God will come.
When that last moment arrives you will begin to have a quite
different opinion of the life that is now entirely past and you
will regret very much that you were so careless and remiss.
How happy and prudent is he who tries now in life to be what
he wants to be found in death. Perfect contempt of the world, a
lively desire to advance in virtue, a love for discipline, the
works of penance, readiness to obey, self-denial, and the
endurance of every hardship for the love of Christ, these will
give a man great expectations of a happy death.
You can do many good works when in good health; what can you
do when you are ill? Few are made better by sickness. Likewise
they who undertake many pilgrimages seldom become holy.
Do not put your trust in friends and relatives, and do not
put off the care of your soul till later, for men will forget you
more quickly than you think. It is better to provide now, in time,
and send some good account ahead of you than to rely on the help
of others. If you do not care for your own welfare now, who will
care when you are gone?
The present is very precious; these are the days of
salvation; now is the acceptable time. How sad that you do not
spend the time in which you might purchase everlasting life in a
better way. The time will come when you will want just one day,
just one hour in which to make amends, and do you know whether you
will obtain it?
See, then, dearly beloved, the great danger from which you
can free yourself and the great fear from which you can be saved,
if only you will always be wary and mindful of death. Try to live
now in such a manner that at the moment of death you may be glad
rather than fearful. Learn to die to the world now, that then you
may begin to live with Christ. Learn to spurn all things now, that
then you may freely go to Him. Chastise your body in penance now,
that then you may have the confidence born of certainty.
Ah, foolish man, why do you plan to live long when you are
not sure of living even a day? How many have been deceived and
suddenly snatched away! How often have you heard of persons being
killed by drownings, by fatal falls from high places, of persons
dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the sword, in pestilence, or
at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of everyone and the life
of man quickly passes away like a shadow.
Who will remember you when you are dead? Who will pray for
you? Do now, beloved, what you can, because you do not know when
you will die, nor what your fate will be after death. Gather for
yourself the riches of immortality while you have time. Think of
nothing but your salvation. Care only for the things of God. Make
friends for yourself now by honoring the saints of God, by
imitating their actions, so that when you depart this life they
may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
Keep yourself as a stranger here on earth, a pilgrim whom its
affairs do not concern at all. Keep your heart free and raise it
up to God, for you have not here a lasting home. To Him direct
your daily prayers, your sighs and tears, that your soul may merit
after death to pass in happiness to the Lord.
The Twenty-Fourth Chapter
Judgment and the Punishment of Sin
IN ALL things consider the end; how you shall stand before the
strict Judge from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will pronounce
judgment in all justice, accepting neither bribes nor excuses. And
you, miserable and wretched sinner, who fear even the countenance
of an angry man, what answer will you make to the God Who knows
all your sins? Why do you not provide for yourself against the day
of judgment when no man can be excused or defended by another
because each will have enough to do to answer for himself? In this
life your work is profitable, your tears acceptable, your sighs
audible, your sorrow satisfying and purifying.
The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory
when he grieves more over the malice of one who harms him than for
his own injury; when he prays readily for his enemies and forgives
offenses from his heart; when he does not hesitate to ask pardon
of others; when he is more easily moved to pity than to anger;
when he does frequent violence to himself and tries to bring the
body into complete subjection to the spirit.
It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than
to keep them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive
ourselves by our ill-advised love of the flesh. What will that
fire feed upon but our sins? The more we spare ourselves now and
the more we satisfy the flesh, the harder will the reckoning be
and the more we keep for the burning.
For a man will be more grievously punished in the things in
which he has sinned. There the lazy will be driven with burning
prongs, and gluttons tormented with unspeakable hunger and thirst;
the wanton and lust-loving will be bathed in burning pitch and
foul brimstone; the envious will howl in their grief like mad
Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud
will be faced with every confusion and the avaricious pinched with
the most abject want. One hour of suffering there will be more
bitter than a hundred years of the most severe penance here. In
this life men sometimes rest from work and enjoy the comfort of
friends, but the damned have no rest or consolation.
You must, therefore, take care and repent of your sins now so
that on the day of judgment you may rest secure with the blessed.
For on that day the just will stand firm against those who
tortured and oppressed them, and he who now submits humbly to the
judgment of men will arise to pass judgment upon them. The poor
and humble will have great confidence, while the proud will be
struck with fear. He who learned to be a fool in this world and to
be scorned for Christ will then appear to have been wise.
In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing
and the voice of iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be
glad; the irreligious will mourn; and the mortified body will
rejoice far more than if it had been pampered with every pleasure.
Then the cheap garment will shine with splendor and the rich one
become faded and worn; the poor cottage will be more praised than
the gilded palace. In that day persevering patience will count
more than all the power in this world; simple obedience will be
exalted above all worldly cleverness; a good and clean conscience
will gladden the heart of man far more than the philosophy of the
learned; and contempt for riches will be of more weight than every
treasure on earth.
Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly
than in having fared daintily; you will be happy that you
preferred silence to prolonged gossip.
Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair
words; strictness of life and hard penances will be more pleasing
than all earthly delights.
Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not
have to suffer greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can
bear hereafter. If you can suffer only a little now, how will you
be able to endure eternal torment? If a little suffering makes you
impatient now, what will hell fire do? In truth, you cannot have
two joys: you cannot taste the pleasures of this world and
afterward reign with Christ.
If your life to this moment had been full of honors and
pleasures, what good would it do if at this instant you should
die? All is vanity, therefore, except to love God and to serve Him
He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or
punishment or judgment or hell, because perfect love assures
access to God.
It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death
It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet
restrain you from evil, at least the fear of hell does. The man
who casts aside the fear of God cannot continue long in goodness
but will quickly fall into the snares of the devil.
The Twenty-Fifth Chapter
Zeal in Amending our Lives
BE WATCHFUL and diligent in God's service and often think of why
you left the world and came here. Was it not that you might live
for God and become a spiritual man? Strive earnestly for
perfection, then, because in a short time you will receive the
reward of your labor, and neither fear nor sorrow shall come upon
you at the hour of death.
Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in
truth, eternal joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in
doing, God will undoubtedly be faithful and generous in rewarding.
Continue to have reasonable hope of gaining salvation, but do not
act as though you were certain of it lest you grow indolent and
One day when a certain man who wavered often and anxiously
between hope and fear was struck with sadness, he knelt in humble
prayer before the altar of a church. While meditating on these
things, he said: "Oh if I but knew whether I should persevere to
the end!" Instantly he heard within the divine answer: "If you
knew this, what would you do? Do now what you would do then and
you will be quite secure." Immediately consoled and comforted, he
resigned himself to the divine will and the anxious uncertainty
ceased. His curiosity no longer sought to know what the future
held for him, and he tried instead to find the perfect, the
acceptable will of God in the beginning and end of every good
"Trust thou in the Lord and do good," says the Prophet;
"dwell in the land and thou shalt feed on its riches" (Ps. 36:3).
There is one thing that keeps many from zealously improving
their lives, that is, dread of the difficulty, the toil of battle.
Certainly they who try bravely to overcome the most difficult and
unpleasant obstacles far outstrip others in the pursuit of virtue.
A man makes the most progress and merits the most grace precisely
in those matters wherein he gains the greatest victories over self
and most mortifies his will. True, each one has his own
difficulties to meet and conquer, but a diligent and sincere man
will make greater progress even though he have more passions than
one who is more even-tempered but less concerned about virtue.
Two things particularly further improvement -- to withdraw
oneself forcibly from those vices to which nature is viciously
inclined, and to work fervently for those graces which are most
Study also to guard against and to overcome the faults which
in others very frequently displease you. Make the best of every
opportunity, so that if you see or hear good example you may be
moved to imitate it. On the other hand, take care lest you be
guilty of those things which you consider reprehensible, or if you
have ever been guilty of them, try to correct yourself as soon as
possible. As you see others, so they see you.
How pleasant and sweet to behold brethren fervent and devout,
well mannered and disciplined! How sad and painful to see them
wandering in dissolution, not practicing the things to which they
are called! How hurtful it is to neglect the purpose of their
vocation and to attend to what is not their business!
Remember the purpose you have undertaken, and keep in mind
the image of the Crucified. Even though you may have walked for
many years on the pathway to God, you may well be ashamed if, with
the image of Christ before you, you do not try to make yourself
still more like Him.
The religious who concerns himself intently and devoutly with
our Lord's most holy life and passion will find there an abundance
of all things useful and necessary for him. He need not seek for
anything better than Jesus.
If the Crucified should come to our hearts, how quickly and
abundantly we would learn!
A fervent religious accepts all the things that are commanded
him and does them well, but a negligent and lukewarm religious has
trial upon trial, and suffers anguish from every side because he
has no consolation within and is forbidden to seek it from
without. The religious who does not live up to his rule exposes
himself to dreadful ruin, and he who wishes to be more free and
untrammeled will always be in trouble, for something or other will
always displease him.
How do so many other religious who are confined in cloistered
discipline get along? They seldom go out, they live in
contemplation, their food is poor, their clothing coarse, they
work hard, they speak but little, keep long vigils, rise early,
pray much, read frequently, and subject themselves to all sorts of
discipline. Think of the Carthusians and the Cistercians, the
monks and nuns of different orders, how every night they rise to
sing praise to the Lord. It would be a shame if you should grow
lazy in such holy service when so many religious have already
begun to rejoice in God.
If there were nothing else to do but praise the Lord God with
all your heart and voice, if you had never to eat, or drink, or
sleep, but could praise God always and occupy yourself solely with
spiritual pursuits, how much happier you would be than you are
now, a slave to every necessity of the body! Would that there were
no such needs, but only the spiritual refreshments of the soul
which, sad to say, we taste too seldom!
When a man reaches a point where he seeks no solace from any
creature, then he begins to relish God perfectly. Then also he
will be content no matter what may happen to him. He will neither
rejoice over great things nor grieve over small ones, but will
place himself entirely and confidently in the hands of God, Who
for him is all in all, to Whom nothing ever perishes or dies, for
Whom all things live, and Whom they serve as He desires.
Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time
never returns. Without care and diligence you will never acquire
virtue. When you begin to grow lukewarm, you are falling into the
beginning of evil; but if you give yourself to fervor, you will
find peace and will experience less hardship because of God's
grace and the love of virtue.
A fervent and diligent man is ready for all things. It is
greater work to resist vices and passions than to sweat in
physical toil. He who does not overcome small faults, shall fall
little by little into greater ones.
If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be
happy at eventide. Watch over yourself, arouse yourself, warn
yourself, and regardless of what becomes of others, do not neglect
yourself. The more violence you do to yourself, the more progress
you will make.