The Thirty-First Chapter
To Find the Creator, Forsake All Creatures
O LORD, I am in sore need still of greater grace if I am to arrive
at the point where no man and no created thing can be an obstacle
to me. For as long as anything holds me back, I cannot freely fly
to You. He that said "Oh that I had wings like a dove, that I
might fly away and be at rest!" (Ps. 54:7). desired to fly freely to You.
Who is more at rest than he who aims at nothing but God? And who
more free than the man who desires nothing on earth?
It is well, then, to pass over all creation, perfectly to
abandon self, and to see in ecstasy of mind that You, the Creator
of all, have no likeness among all Your creatures, and that unless
a man be freed from all creatures, he cannot attend freely to the
Divine. The reason why so few contemplative persons are found, is
that so few know how to separate themselves entirely from what is
transitory and created.
For this, indeed, great grace is needed, grace that will
raise the soul and lift it up above itself. Unless a man be
elevated in spirit, free from all creatures, and completely united
to God, all his knowledge and possessions are of little moment. He
who considers anything great except the one, immense, eternal good
will long be little and lie groveling on the earth. Whatever is
not God is nothing and must be accounted as nothing.
There is great difference between the wisdom of an
enlightened and devout man and the learning of a well-read and
brilliant scholar, for the knowledge which flows down from divine
sources is much nobler than that laboriously acquired by human
Many there are who desire contemplation, but who do not care
to do the things which contemplation requires. It is also a great
obstacle to be satisfied with externals and sensible things, and
to have so little of perfect mortification. I know not what it is,
or by what spirit we are led, or to what we pretend -- we who wish
to be called spiritual -- that we spend so much labor and even
more anxiety on things that are transitory and mean, while we
seldom or never advert with full consciousness to our interior
Alas, after very little recollection we falter, not weighing
our deeds by strict examination. We pay no attention to where our
affections lie, nor do we deplore the fact that our actions are
Remember that because all flesh had corrupted its course, the
great deluge followed. Since, then, our interior affection is
corrupt, it must be that the action which follows from it, the
index as it were of our lack of inward strength, is also corrupt.
Out of a pure heart come the fruits of a good life.
People are wont to ask how much a man has done, but they
think little of the virtue with which he acts. They ask: Is he
strong? rich? handsome? a good writer? a good singer? or a good
worker? They say little, however, about how poor he is in spirit,
how patient and meek, how devout and spiritual. Nature looks to
his outward appearance; grace turns to his inward being. The one
often errs, the other trusts in God and is not deceived.
The Thirty-Second Chapter
Self-Denial and the Renunciation of Evil Appetites
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, you can never be perfectly free unless you completely
renounce self, for all who seek their own interest and who love
themselves are bound in fetters. They are unsettled by
covetousness and curiosity, always searching for ease and not for
the things of Christ, often devising and framing that which will
not last, for anything that is not of God will fail completely.
Hold to this short and perfect advice, therefore: give up
your desires and you will find rest. Think upon it in your heart,
and when you have put it into practice you will understand all
But this, Lord, is not the work of one day, nor is it mere
child's play; indeed, in this brief sentence is included all the
perfection of holy persons.
The Voice of Christ
My child, you should not turn away or be downcast when you
hear the way of the perfect. Rather you ought to be spurred on the
more toward their sublime heights, or at least be moved to seek
I would this were the case with you -- that you had
progressed to the point where you no longer loved self but simply
awaited My bidding and his whom I have placed as father over you.
Then you would please Me very much, and your whole life would pass
in peace and joy. But you have yet many things which you must give
up, and unless you resign them entirely to Me you will not obtain
that which you ask.
"I counsel thee to buy of me gold, fire-tried, that thou
mayest be made rich" (Apoc. 3:18) -- rich in heavenly wisdom which treads
underfoot all that is low. Put aside earthly wisdom, all human
I have said: exchange what is precious and valued among men
for that which is considered contemptible. For true heavenly
wisdom -- not to think highly of self and not to seek glory on
earth -- does indeed seem mean and small and is well-nigh
forgotten, as many men praise it with their mouths but shy far
away from it in their lives. Yet this heavenly wisdom is a pearl
of great price, which is hidden from many.
The Thirty-Third Chapter
Restlessness of Soul -- Directing Our Final Intention Toward God
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, do not trust in your present feeling, for it will soon
give way to another. As long as you live you will be subject to
changeableness in spite of yourself. You will become merry at one
time and sad at another, now peaceful but again disturbed, at one
moment devout and the next indevout, sometimes diligent while at
other times lazy, now grave and again flippant.
But the man who is wise and whose spirit is well instructed
stands superior to these changes. He pays no attention to what he
feels in himself or from what quarter the wind of fickleness
blows, so long as the whole intention of his mind is conducive to
his proper and desired end. For thus he can stand undivided,
unchanged, and unshaken, with the singleness of his intention
directed unwaveringly toward Me, even in the midst of so many
changing events. And the purer this singleness of intention is,
with so much the more constancy does he pass through many storms.
But in many ways the eye of pure intention grows dim, because
it is attracted to any delightful thing that it meets. Indeed, it
is rare to find one who is entirely free from all taint of self-
seeking. The Jews of old, for example, came to Bethany to Martha
and Mary, not for Jesus' sake alone, but in order to see Lazarus.
The eye of your intention, therefore, must be cleansed so
that it is single and right. It must be directed toward Me,
despite all the objects which may interfere.
The Thirty-Fourth Chapter
God is Sweet Above All Things and in All Things
to Those Who Love Him
BEHOLD, my God and my all! What more do I wish for; what greater
happiness can I desire? O sweet and delicious word! But sweet only
to him who loves it, and not to the world or the things that are
in the world.
My God and my all! These words are enough for him who
understands, and for him who loves it is a joy to repeat them
often. For when You are present, all things are delightful; when
You are absent, all things become loathsome. It is You Who give a
heart tranquillity, great peace and festive joy. It is You Who
make us think well of all things, and praise You in all things.
Without You nothing can give pleasure for very long, for if it is
to be pleasing and tasteful, Your grace and the seasoning of Your
wisdom must be in it. What is there that can displease him whose
happiness is in You? And, on the contrary, what can satisfy him
whose delight is not in You?
The wise men of the world, the men who lust for the flesh,
are wanting in Your wisdom, because in the world is found the
utmost vanity, and in the flesh is death. But they who follow You
by disdaining worldly things and mortifying the flesh are known to
be truly wise, for they are transported from vanity to truth, from
flesh to spirit. By such as these God is relished, and whatever
good is found in creatures they turn to praise of the Creator. But
great -- yes, very great, indeed -- is the difference between
delight in the Creator and in the creature, in eternity and in
time, in Light uncreated and in the light that is reflected.
O Light eternal, surpassing all created brightness, flash
forth the lightning from above and enlighten the inmost recesses
of my heart. Cleanse, cheer, enlighten, and vivify my spirit with
all its powers, that it may cleave to You in ecstasies of joy. Oh,
when will that happy and wished-for hour come, that You may fill
me with Your presence and become all in all to me? So long as this
is not given me, my joy will not be complete.
The old man, alas, yet lives within me. He has not yet been
entirely crucified; he is not yet entirely dead. He still lusts
strongly against the spirit, and he will not leave the kingdom of
my soul in peace. But You, Who can command the power of the sea
and calm the tumult of its waves, arise and help me. Scatter the
nations that delight in war; crush them in Your sight. Show forth
I beg, Your wonderful works and let Your right hand be glorified,
because for me there is no other hope or refuge except in You, O
Lord, my God.
The Thirty-Fifth Chapter
There is No Security from Temptation in This Life
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, in this life you are never safe, and as long as you live
the weapons of the spirit will ever be necessary to you. You dwell
among enemies. You are subject to attack from the right and the
left. If, therefore, you do not guard yourself from every quarter
with the shield of patience, you will not remain long unscathed.
Moreover, if you do not steadily set your heart on Me, with a
firm will to suffer everything for My sake, you will not be able
to bear the heat of this battle or to win the crown of the
blessed. You ought, therefore, to pass through all these things
bravely and to oppose a strong hand to whatever stands in your
way. For to him who triumphs heavenly bread is given, while for
him who is too lazy to fight there remains much misery.
If you look for rest in this life, how will you attain to
everlasting rest? Dispose yourself, then, not for much rest but
for great patience. Seek true peace, not on earth but in heaven;
not in men or in other creatures but in God alone. For love of God
you should undergo all things cheerfully, all labors and sorrows,
temptations and trials, anxieties, weaknesses, necessities,
injuries, slanders, rebukes, humiliations, confusions,
corrections, and contempt. For these are helps to virtue. These
are the trials of Christ's recruit. These form the heavenly crown.
For a little brief labor I will give an everlasting crown, and for
passing confusion, glory that is eternal.
Do you think that you will always have spiritual consolations
as you desire? My saints did not always have them. Instead, they
had many afflictions, temptations of various kinds, and great
desolation. Yet they bore them all patiently. They placed their
confidence in God rather than in themselves, knowing that the
sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the
glory that is to come. And you -- do you wish to have at once that
which others have scarcely obtained after many tears and great
Wait for the Lord, act bravely, and have courage. Do not lose
trust. Do not turn back but devote your body and soul constantly
to God's glory. I will reward you most plentifully. I will be with
you in every tribulation.
The Thirty-Sixth Chapter
The Vain Judgments of Men
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, trust firmly in the Lord, and do not fear the judgment
of men when conscience tells you that you are upright and
innocent. For it is good and blessed to suffer such things, and
they will not weigh heavily on the humble heart that trusts in God
rather than in itself. Many men say many things, and therefore
little faith is to be put in them.
Likewise, it is impossible to satisfy all men. Although Paul
tried to please all in the Lord, and became all things to all men,
yet he made little of their opinions. He labored abundantly for
the edification and salvation of others, as much as lay in him and
as much as he could, but he could not escape being sometimes
judged and despised by others. Therefore, he committed all to God
Who knows all things, and defended himself by his patience and
humility against the tongues of those who spoke unjustly or
thought foolish things and lies, or made accusations against him.
Sometimes, indeed, he did answer them, but only lest his silence
scandalize the weak.
Who are you, then, that you should be afraid of mortal man?
Today he is here, tomorrow he is not seen. Fear God and you will
not be afraid of the terrors of men. What can anyone do to you by
word or injury? He hurts himself rather than you, and no matter
who he may be he cannot escape the judgment of God. Keep God
before your eyes, therefore, and do not quarrel with peevish
If it seems, then, that you are worsted and that you suffer
undeserved shame, do not repine over it and do not lessen your
crown by impatience. Look instead to heaven, to Me, Who have power
to deliver you from all disgrace and injury, and to render to
everyone according to his works.
The Thirty-Seventh Chapter
Pure and Entire Resignation of Self to Obtain Freedom of Heart
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, renounce self and you shall find Me. Give up your own
self-will, your possessions, and you shall always gain. For once
you resign yourself irrevocably, greater grace will be given you.
How often, Lord, shall I resign myself? And in what shall I
The Voice of Christ
Always, at every hour, in small matters as well as great -- I
except nothing. In all things I wish you to be stripped of self.
How otherwise can you be mine or I yours unless you be despoiled
of your own will both inwardly and outwardly? The sooner you do
this the better it will be for you, and the more fully and
sincerely you do it the more you will please Me and the greater
gain you will merit.
Some there are who resign themselves, but with certain
reservation; they do not trust fully in God and therefore they try
to provide for themselves. Others, again, at first offer all, but
afterward are assailed by temptation and return to what they have
renounced, thereby making no progress in virtue. These will not
reach the true liberty of a pure heart nor the grace of happy
friendship with Me unless they first make a full resignation and a
daily sacrifice of themselves. Without this no fruitful union
lasts nor will last.
I have said to you very often, and now I say again: forsake
yourself, renounce yourself and you shall enjoy great inward
peace. Give all for all. Ask nothing, demand nothing in return.
Trust purely and without hesitation in Me, and you shall possess
Me. You will be free of heart and darkness will not overwhelm you.
Strive for this, pray for this, desire this -- to be stripped
of all selfishness and naked to follow the naked Jesus, to die to
self and live forever for Me. Then all vain imaginations, all
wicked disturbances and superfluous cares will vanish. Then also
immoderate fear will leave you and inordinate love will die.
The Thirty-Eighth Chapter
The Right Ordering of External Affairs; Recourse to God in Dangers
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, you must strive diligently to be inwardly free, to have
mastery over yourself everywhere, in every external act and
occupation, that all things be subject to you and not you to them,
that you be the master and director of your actions, not a slave
or a mere hired servant. You should be rather a free man and a
true Hebrew, arising to the status and freedom of the children of
God who stand above present things to contemplate those which are
eternal; who look upon passing affairs with the left eye and upon
those of heaven with the right; whom temporal things do not so
attract that they cling to them, but who rather put these things
to such proper service as is ordained and instituted by God, the
great Workmaster, Who leaves nothing unordered in His creation.
If, likewise, in every happening you are not content simply
with outward appearances, if you do not regard with carnal eyes
things which you see and hear, but whatever be the affair, enter
with Moses into the tabernacle to ask advice of the Lord, you will
sometimes hear the divine answer and return instructed in many
things present and to come. For Moses always had recourse to the
tabernacle for the solution of doubts and questions, and fled to
prayer for support in dangers and the evil deeds of men. So you
also should take refuge in the secret chamber of your heart,
begging earnestly for divine aid.
For this reason, as we read, Joshua and the children of
Israel were deceived by the Gibeonites because they did not first
seek counsel of the Lord, but trusted too much in fair words and
hence were deceived by false piety.
The Thirty-Ninth Chapter
A Man Should Not Be Unduly Solicitous About His Affairs
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, always commit your cause to Me. I will dispose of it
rightly in good time. Await My ordering of it and it will be to
Lord, I willingly commit all things to You, for my anxiety
can profit me little. But I would that I were not so concerned
about the future, and instead offered myself without hesitation to
Your good pleasure.
The Voice of Christ
My child, it often happens that a man seeks ardently after
something he desires and then when he has attained it he begins to
think that it is not at all desirable; for affections do not
remain fixed on the same thing, but rather flit from one to
another. It is no very small matter, therefore, for a man to
forsake himself even in things that are very small.
A man's true progress consists in denying himself, and the
man who has denied himself is truly free and secure. The old
enemy, however, setting himself against all good, never ceases to
tempt them, but day and night plots dangerous snares to cast the
unwary into the net of deceit. "Watch ye and pray," says the Lord,
"that ye enter not into temptation" (Matt. 16:41).
The Fortieth Chapter
Man Has No Good in Himself and Can Glory in Nothing
LORD, what is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man
that You visit him? What has man deserved that You should give him
Your grace? What cause have I, Lord, to complain if You desert me,
or what objection can I have if You do not do what I ask? This I
may think and say in all truth: "Lord, I am nothing, of myself I
have nothing that is good; I am lacking in all things, and I am
ever tending toward nothing. And unless I have Your help and am
inwardly strengthened by You, I become quite lukewarm and lax."
But You, Lord, are always the same. You remain forever,
always good, just, and holy; doing all things rightly, justly, and
holily, disposing them wisely. I, however, who am more ready to go
backward than forward, do not remain always in one state, for I
change with the seasons. Yet my condition quickly improves when it
pleases You and when You reach forth Your helping hand. For You
alone, without human aid, can help me and strengthen me so greatly
that my heart shall no more change but be converted and rest
solely in You. Hence, if I knew well how to cast aside all earthly
consolation, either to attain devotion or because of the necessity
which, in the absence of human solace, compels me to seek You
alone, then I could deservedly hope for Your grace and rejoice in
the gift of new consolation.
Thanks be to You from Whom all things come, whenever it is
well with me. In Your sight I am vanity and nothingness, a weak,
unstable man. In what, therefore, can I glory, and how can I wish
to be highly regarded? Is it because I am nothing? This, too, is
utterly vain. Indeed, the greatest vanity is the evil plague of
empty self-glory, because it draws one away from true glory and
robs one of heavenly grace. For when a man is pleased with himself
he displeases You, when he pants after human praise he is deprived
of true virtue. But it is true glory and holy exultation to glory
in You and not in self, to rejoice in Your name rather than in
one's own virtue, and not to delight in any creature except for
Let Your name, not mine, be praised. Let Your work, not mine,
be magnified. Let Your holy name be blessed, but let no human
praise be given to me. You are my glory. You are the joy of my
heart. In You I will glory and rejoice all the day, and for myself
I will glory in nothing but my infirmities.
Let the Jews seek the glory that comes from another. I will
seek that which comes from God alone. All human glory, all
temporal honor, all worldly position is truly vanity and
foolishness compared to Your everlasting glory. O my Truth, my
Mercy, my God, O Blessed Trinity, to You alone be praise and
honor, power and glory, throughout all the endless ages of ages.
The Forty-First Chapter
Contempt for All Earthly Honor
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, do not take it to heart if you see others honored and
advanced, while you yourself are despised and humbled. Lift up
your heart to Me in heaven and the contempt of men on earth will
not grieve you.
Lord, we are blinded and quickly misled by vanity. If I
examine myself rightly, no injury has ever been done me by any
creature; hence I have nothing for which to make just complaint to
You. But I have sinned often and gravely against You; therefore is
every creature in arms against me. Confusion and contempt should
in justice come upon me, but to You due praise, honor, and glory.
And unless I prepare myself to be willingly despised and forsaken
by every creature, to be considered absolutely nothing, I cannot
have interior peace and strength, nor can I be enlightened
spiritually or completely united with You.
The Forty-Second Chapter
Peace is Not to Be Placed in Men
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, if you place your peace in any creature because of your
own feeling or for the sake of his company, you will be unsettled
and entangled. But if you have recourse to the ever-living and
abiding Truth, you will not grieve if a friend should die or
forsake you. Your love for your friend should be grounded in Me,
and for My sake you should love whoever seems to be good and is
very dear to you in this life. Without Me friendship has no
strength and cannot endure. Love which I do not bind is neither
true nor pure.
You ought, therefore, to be so dead to such human affections
as to wish as far as lies within you to be without the fellowship
of men. Man draws nearer to God in proportion as he withdraws
farther from all earthly comfort. And he ascends higher to God as
he descends lower into himself and grows more vile in his own
eyes. He who attributes any good to himself hinders God's grace
from coming into his heart, for the grace of the Holy Spirit seeks
always the humble heart.
If you knew how to annihilate yourself completely and empty
yourself of all created love, then I should overflow in you with
great grace. When you look to creatures, the sight of the Creator
is taken from you. Learn, therefore, to conquer yourself in all
things for the sake of your Maker. Then will you be able to attain
to divine knowledge. But anything, no matter how small, that is
loved and regarded inordinately keeps you back from the highest
good and corrupts the soul.
The Forty-Third Chapter
Beware Vain and Worldly Knowledge
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, do not let the fine-sounding and subtle words of men
deceive you. For the kingdom of heaven consists not in talk but in
virtue. Attend, rather, to My words which enkindle the heart and
enlighten the mind, which excite contrition and abound in manifold
consolations. Never read them for the purpose of appearing more
learned or more wise. Apply yourself to mortifying your vices, for
this will benefit you more than your understanding of many
Though you shall have read and learned many things, it will
always be necessary for you to return to this one principle: I am
He who teaches man knowledge, and to the little ones I give a
clearer understanding than can be taught by man. He to whom I
speak will soon be wise and his soul will profit. But woe to those
who inquire of men about many curious things, and care very little
about the way they serve Me.
The time will come when Christ, the Teacher of teachers, the
Lord of angels, will appear to hear the lessons of all -- that is,
to examine the conscience of everyone. Then He will search
Jerusalem with lamps and the hidden things of darkness will be
brought to light and the arguings of men's tongues be silenced.
I am He Who in one moment so enlightens the humble mind that
it comprehends more of eternal truth than could be learned by ten
years in the schools. I teach without noise of words or clash of
opinions, without ambition for honor or confusion of argument.
I am He Who teaches man to despise earthly possessions and to
loathe present things, to ask after the eternal, to hunger for
heaven, to fly honors and to bear with scandals, to place all hope
in Me, to desire nothing apart from Me, and to love Me ardently
above all things. For a certain man by loving Me intimately
learned divine truths and spoke wonders. He profited more by
leaving all things than by studying subtle questions.
To some I speak of common things, to others of special
matters. To some I appear with sweetness in signs and figures, and
to others I appear in great light and reveal mysteries. The voice
of books is but a single voice, yet it does not teach all men
alike, because I within them am the Teacher and the Truth, the
Examiner of hearts, the Understander of thoughts, the Promoter of
acts, distributing to each as I see fit.
The Forty-Fourth Chapter
Do Not Be Concerned About Outward Things
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, there are many matters of which it is well for you to be
ignorant, and to consider yourself as one who is dead upon the
earth and to whom the whole world is crucified. There are many
things, too, which it is well to pass by with a deaf ear,
thinking, instead, of what is more to your peace. It is more
profitable to turn away from things which displease you and to
leave to every man his own opinion than to take part in
quarrelsome talk. If you stand well with God and look to His
judgment, you will more easily bear being worsted.
To what have we come, Lord? Behold, we bewail a temporal
loss. We labor and fret for a small gain, while loss of the soul
is forgotten and scarcely ever returns to mind. That which is of
little or no value claims our attention, whereas that which is of
highest necessity is neglected -- all because man gives himself
wholly to outward things. And unless he withdraws himself quickly,
he willingly lies immersed in externals.
The Forty-Fifth Chapter
All Men Are Not to Be Believed, for It Is Easy to Err in Speech
GRANT me help in my needs, O Lord, for the aid of man is useless.
How often have I failed to find faithfulness in places where I
thought I possessed it! And how many times I have found it where I
least expected it! Vain, therefore, is hope in men, but the
salvation of the just is in You, O God. Blessed be Your name, O
Lord my God, in everything that befalls us.
We are weak and unstable, quickly deceived and changed. Who
is the man that is able to guard himself with such caution and
care as not sometimes to fall into deception or perplexity? He who
confides in You, O Lord, and seeks You with a simple heart does
not fall so easily. And if some trouble should come upon him, no
matter how entangled in it he may be, he will be more quickly
delivered and comforted by You. For You will not forsake him who
trusts in You to the very end.
Rare is the friend who remains faithful through all his
friend's distress. But You, Lord, and You alone, are entirely
faithful in all things; other than You, there is none so faithful.
Oh, how wise is that holy soul (St. Agatha) who said: "My mind is
firmly settled and founded in Christ." If that were true of me,
human fear would not so easily cause me anxiety, nor would the
darts of words disturb. But who can foresee all things and provide
against all evils? And if things foreseen have often hurt, can
those which are unlooked for do otherwise than wound us gravely?
Why, indeed, have I not provided better for my wretched self? Why,
too, have I so easily kept faith in others? We are but men,
however, nothing more than weak men, although we are thought by
many to be, and are called, angels.
In whom shall I put my faith, Lord? In whom but You? You are
the truth which does not deceive and cannot be deceived. Every
man, on the other hand, is a liar, weak, unstable, and likely to
err, especially in words, so that one ought not to be too quick to
believe even that which seems, on the face of it, to sound true.
How wise was Your warning to beware of men; that a man's enemies
are those of his own household; that we should not believe if
anyone says: "Behold he is here, or behold he is there."
I have been taught to my own cost, and I hope it has given me
greater caution, not greater folly. "Beware," they say, "beware
and keep to yourself what I tell you!" Then while I keep silent,
believing that the matter is secret, he who asks me to be silent
cannot remain silent himself, but immediately betrays both me and
himself, and goes his way. From tales of this kind and from such
careless men protect me, O Lord, lest I fall into their hands and
into their ways. Put in my mouth words that are true and steadfast
and keep far from me the crafty tongue, because what I am not
willing to suffer I ought by all means to shun.
Oh, how good and how peaceful it is to be silent about
others, not to believe without discrimination all that is said,
not easily to report it further, to reveal oneself to few, always
to seek You as the discerner of hearts, and not to be blown away
by every wind of words, but to wish that all things, within and
beyond us, be done according to the pleasure of Thy will.
How conducive it is for the keeping of heavenly grace to fly
the gaze of men, not to seek abroad things which seem to cause
admiration, but to follow with utmost diligence those which give
fervor and amendment of life! How many have been harmed by having
their virtue known and praised too hastily! And how truly
profitable it has been when grace remained hidden during this
frail life, which is all temptation and warfare!
The Forty-Sixth Chapter
Trust in God Against Slander
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, stand firm and trust in Me. For what are words but
words? They fly through the air but hurt not a stone. If you are
guilty, consider how you would gladly amend. If you are not
conscious of any fault, think that you wish to bear this for the
sake of God. It is little enough for you occasionally to endure
words, since you are not yet strong enough to bear hard blows.
And why do such small matters pierce you to the heart, unless
because you are still carnal and pay more heed to men than you
ought? You do not wish to be reproved for your faults and you seek
shelter in excuses because you are afraid of being despised. But
look into yourself more thoroughly and you will learn that the
world is still alive in you, in a vain desire to please men. For
when you shrink from being abased and confounded for your
failings, it is plain indeed that you are not truly humble or
truly dead to the world, and that the world is not crucified in
Listen to My word, and you will not value ten thousand words
of men. Behold, if every malicious thing that could possibly be
invented were uttered against you, what harm could it do if you
ignored it all and gave it no more thought than you would a blade
of grass? Could it so much as pluck one hair from your head?
He who does not keep his heart within him, and who does not
have God before his eyes is easily moved by a word of
disparagement. He who trusts in Me, on the other hand, and who has
no desire to stand by his own judgment, will be free from the fear
of men. For I am the judge and discerner of all secrets. I know
how all things happen. I know who causes injury and who suffers
it. From Me that word proceeded, and with My permission it
happened, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed. I
shall judge the guilty and the innocent; but I have wished
beforehand to try them both by secret judgment.
The testimony of man is often deceiving, but My judgment is
true -- it will stand and not be overthrown. It is hidden from
many and made known to but a few. Yet it is never mistaken and
cannot be mistaken even though it does not seem right in the eyes
of the unwise.
To Me, therefore, you ought to come in every decision, not
depending on your own judgment. For the just man will not be
disturbed, no matter what may befall him from God. Even if an
unjust charge be made against him he will not be much troubled.
Neither will he exult vainly if through others he is justly
acquitted. He considers that it is I Who search the hearts and
inmost thoughts of men, that I do not judge according to the face
of things or human appearances. For what the judgment of men
considers praiseworthy is often worthy of blame in My sight.
O Lord God, just Judge, strong and patient, You Who know the
weakness and depravity of men, be my strength and all my
confidence, for my own conscience is not sufficient for me. You
know what I do not know, and, therefore, I ought to humble myself
whenever I am accused and bear it meekly. Forgive me, then, in
Your mercy for my every failure in this regard, and give me once
more the grace of greater endurance. Better to me is Your abundant
mercy in obtaining pardon than the justice which I imagine in
defending the secrets of my conscience. And though I am not
conscious to myself of any fault, yet I cannot thereby justify
myself, because without Your mercy no man living will be justified
in Your sight.
The Forty-Seventh Chapter
Every Trial Must Be Borne for the Sake of Eternal Life
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, do not let the labors which you have taken up for My
sake break you, and do not let troubles, from whatever source,
cast you down; but in everything let My promise strengthen and
console you. I am able to reward you beyond all means and measure.
You will not labor here long, nor will you always be
oppressed by sorrows. Wait a little while and you will see a
speedy end of evils. The hour will come when all labor and trouble
shall be no more. All that passes away with time is trivial.
What you do, do well. Work faithfully in My vineyard. I will
be your reward. Write, read, sing, mourn, keep silence, pray, and
bear hardships like a man. Eternal life is worth all these and
greater battles. Peace will come on a day which is known to the
Lord, and then there shall be no day or night as at present but
perpetual light, infinite brightness, lasting peace, and safe
repose. Then you will not say: "Who shall deliver me from the body
of this death?" nor will you cry: "Woe is me, because my sojourn
is prolonged." For then death will be banished, and there will be
health unfailing. There will be no anxiety then, but blessed joy
and sweet, noble companionship.
If you could see the everlasting crowns of the saints in
heaven, and the great glory wherein they now rejoice -- they who
were once considered contemptible in this world and, as it were,
unworthy of life itself -- you would certainly humble yourself at
once to the very earth, and seek to be subject to all rather than
to command even one. Nor would you desire the pleasant days of
this life, but rather be glad to suffer for God, considering it
your greatest gain to be counted as nothing among men.
Oh, if these things appealed to you and penetrated deeply
into your heart, how could you dare to complain even once? Ought
not all trials be borne for the sake of everlasting life? In
truth, the loss or gain of God's kingdom is no small matter.
Lift up your countenance to heaven, then. Behold Me, and with
Me all My saints. They had great trials in this life, but now they
rejoice. They are consoled. Now they are safe and at rest. And
they shall abide with Me for all eternity in the kingdom of My
The Forty-Eighth Chapter
The Day of Eternity and the Distresses of This Life
O MOST happy mansion of the city above! O most bright day of
eternity, which night does not darken, but which the highest truth
ever enlightens! O day, ever joyful and ever secure, which never
changes its state to the opposite! Oh, that this day shine forth,
that all these temporal things come to an end! It envelops the
saints all resplendent with heavenly brightness, but it appears
far off as through a glass to us wanderers on the earth. The
citizens of heaven know how joyful that day is, but the exiled
sons of Eve mourn that this one is bitter and tedious.
The days of this life are short and evil, full of grief and
distress. Here man is defiled by many sins, ensnared in many
passions, enslaved by many fears, and burdened with many cares. He
is distracted by many curiosities and entangled in many vanities,
surrounded by many errors and worn by many labors, oppressed by
temptations, weakened by pleasures, and tortured by want.
Oh, when will these evils end? When shall I be freed from the
miserable slavery of vice? When, Lord, shall I think of You alone?
When shall I fully rejoice in You? When shall I be without
hindrance, in true liberty, free from every grievance of mind and
body? When will there be solid peace, undisturbed and secure,
inward peace and outward peace, peace secured on every side? O
good Jesus, when shall I stand to gaze upon You? When shall I
contemplate the glory of Your kingdom? When will You be all in all
to me? Oh, when shall I be with You in that kingdom of Yours,
which You have prepared for Your beloved from all eternity?
I am left poor and exiled in a hostile land, where every day
sees wars and very great misfortunes. Console my banishment,
assuage my sorrow. My whole desire is for You. Whatever solace
this world offers is a burden to me. I desire to enjoy You
intimately, but I cannot attain to it. I wish to cling fast to
heavenly things, but temporal affairs and unmortified passions
bear me down. I wish in mind to be above all things, but I am
forced by the flesh to be unwillingly subject to them. Thus, I
fight with myself, unhappy that I am, and am become a burden to
myself, while my spirit seeks to rise upward and my flesh to sink
downward. Oh, what inward suffering I undergo when I consider
heavenly things; when I pray, a multitude of carnal thoughts rush
O my God, do not remove Yourself far from me, and depart not
in anger from Your servant. Dart forth Your lightning and disperse
them; send forth Your arrows and let the phantoms of the enemy be
put to flight. Draw my senses toward You and make me forget all
worldly things. Grant me the grace to cast away quickly all
vicious imaginings and to scorn them. Aid me, O heavenly Truth,
that no vanity may move me. Come, heavenly Sweetness, and let all
impurity fly from before Your face.
Pardon me also, and deal mercifully with me, as often as I
think of anything besides You in prayer. For I confess truly that
I am accustomed to be very much distracted. Very often I am not
where bodily I stand or sit; rather, I am where my thoughts carry
me. Where my thoughts are, there am I; and frequently my thoughts
are where my love is. That which naturally delights, or is by
habit pleasing, comes to me quickly. Hence You Who are Truth
itself, have plainly said: "For where your treasure is, there is
your heart also." If I love heaven, I think willingly of heavenly
things. If I love the world, I rejoice at the happiness of the
world and grieve at its troubles. If I love the flesh, I often
imagine things that are carnal. If I love the spirit, I delight in
thinking of spiritual matters. For whatever I love, I am willing
to speak and hear about.
Blessed is the man who for Your sake, O Lord, dismisses all
creatures, does violence to nature, crucifies the desires of the
flesh in fervor of spirit, so that with serene conscience he can
offer You a pure prayer and, having excluded all earthly things
inwardly and outwardly, becomes worthy to enter into the heavenly
The Forty-Ninth Chapter
The Desire of Eternal Life;
the Great Rewards Promised to Those Who Struggle
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, when you feel the desire for everlasting happiness
poured out upon you from above, and when you long to depart out of
the tabernacle of the body that you may contemplate My glory
without threat of change, open wide your heart and receive this
holy inspiration with all eagerness. Give deepest thanks to the
heavenly Goodness which deals with you so understandingly, visits
you so mercifully, stirs you so fervently, and sustains you so
powerfully lest under your own weight you sink down to earthly
things. For you obtain this not by your own thought or effort, but
simply by the condescension of heavenly grace and divine regard.
And the purpose of it is that you may advance in virtue and in
greater humility, that you may prepare yourself for future trials,
that you may strive to cling to Me with all the affection of your
heart, and may serve Me with a fervent will.
My child, often, when the fire is burning the flame does not
ascend without smoke. Likewise, the desires of some burn toward
heavenly things, and yet they are not free from temptations of
carnal affection. Therefore, it is not altogether for the pure
honor of God that they act when they petition Him so earnestly.
Such, too, is often your desire which you profess to be so strong.
For that which is alloyed with self-interest is not pure and
Ask, therefore, not for what is pleasing and convenient to
yourself, but for what is acceptable to Me and is for My honor,
because if you judge rightly, you ought to prefer and follow My
will, not your own desire or whatever things you wish.
I know your longings and I have heard your frequent sighs.
Already you wish to be in the liberty of the glory of the sons of
God. Already you desire the delights of the eternal home, the
heavenly land that is full of joy. But that hour is not yet come.
There remains yet another hour, a time of war, of labor, and of
trial. You long to be filled with the highest good, but you cannot
attain it now. I am that sovereign Good. Await Me, until the
kingdom of God shall come.
You must still be tried on earth, and exercised in many
things. Consolation will sometimes be given you, but the complete
fullness of it is not granted. Take courage, therefore, and be
strong both to do and to suffer what is contrary to nature.
You must put on the new man. You must be changed into another
man. You must often do the things you do not wish to do and forego
those you do wish. What pleases others will succeed; what pleases
you will not. The words of others will be heard; what you say will
be accounted as nothing. Others will ask and receive; you will ask
and not receive. Others will gain great fame among men; about you
nothing will be said. To others the doing of this or that will be
entrusted; you will be judged useless. At all this nature will
sometimes be sad, and it will be a great thing if you bear this
sadness in silence. For in these and many similar ways the
faithful servant of the Lord is wont to be tried, to see how far
he can deny himself and break himself in all things.
There is scarcely anything in which you so need to die to
self as in seeing and suffering things that are against your will,
especially when things that are commanded seem inconvenient or
useless. Then, because you are under authority, and dare not
resist the higher power, it seems hard to submit to the will of
another and give up your own opinion entirely.
But consider, my child, the fruit of these labors, how soon
they will end and how greatly they will be rewarded, and you will
not be saddened by them, but your patience will receive the
strongest consolation. For instead of the little will that you now
readily give up, you shall always have your will in heaven. There,
indeed, you shall find all that you could desire. There you shall
have possession of every good without fear of losing it. There
shall your will be forever one with Mine. It shall desire nothing
outside of Me and nothing for itself. There no one shall oppose
you, no one shall complain of you, no one hinder you, and nothing
stand in your way. All that you desire will be present there,
replenishing your affection and satisfying it to the full. There I
shall render you glory for the reproach you have suffered here;
for your sorrow I shall give you a garment of praise, and for the
lowest place a seat of power forever. There the fruit of glory
will appear, the labor of penance rejoice, and humble subjection
be gloriously crowned.
Bow humbly, therefore, under the will of all, and do not heed
who said this or commanded that. But let it be your special care
when something is commanded, or even hinted at, whether by a
superior or an inferior or an equal, that you take it in good part
and try honestly to perform it. Let one person seek one thing and
another something else. Let one glory in this, another in that,
and both be praised a thousand times over. But as for you, rejoice
neither in one or the other, but only in contempt of yourself and
in My pleasure and honor. Let this be your wish: That whether in
life or in death God may be glorified in you.
The Fiftieth Chapter
How a Desolate Person Ought to Commit Himself
Into the Hands of God
LORD God, Holy Father, may You be blessed now and in eternity. For
as You will, so is it done; and what You do is good. Let Your
servant rejoice in You -- not in himself or in any other, for You
alone are true joy. You are my hope and my crown. You, O Lord, are
my joy and my honor.
What does Your servant possess that he has not received from
You, and that without any merit of his own? Yours are all the
things which You have given, all the things which You have made.
I am poor and in labors since my youth, and my soul is
sorrowful sometimes even to the point of tears. At times, also, my
spirit is troubled because of impending sufferings. I long for the
joy of peace. Earnestly I beg for the peace of Your children who
are fed by You in the light of consolation. If You give peace, if
You infuse holy joy, the soul of Your servant shall be filled with
holy song and be devout in praising You. But if You withdraw
Yourself, as You so very often do, he will not be able to follow
the way of Your commandments, but will rather be obliged to strike
his breast and bend the knee, because his today is different from
yesterday and the day before when Your light shone upon his head
and he was protected in the shadow of Your wings from the
temptations rushing upon him.
Just Father, ever to be praised, the hour is come for Your
servant to be tried. Beloved Father, it is right that in this hour
Your servant should suffer something for You. O Father, forever to
be honored, the hour which You knew from all eternity is at hand,
when for a short time Your servant should be outwardly oppressed,
but inwardly should ever live with You.
Let him be a little slighted, let him be humbled, let him
fail in the sight of men, let him be afflicted with sufferings and
pains, so that he may rise again with You in the dawn of the new
light and be glorified in heaven.
Holy Father, You have so appointed and wished it. What has
happened is what You commanded. For this is a favor to Your
friend, to suffer and be troubled in the world for Your love, no
matter how often and by whom You permit it to happen to him.
Nothing happens in the world without Your design and
providence, and without cause. It is well for me, O Lord, that You
have humbled me, that I may learn the justice of Your judgments
and cast away all presumption and haughtiness of heart. It is
profitable for me that shame has covered my face that I may look
to You rather than to men for consolation. Hereby I have learned
also to fear Your inscrutable judgment falling alike upon the just
and unjust yet not without equity and justice.
Thanks to You that You have not spared me evils but have
bruised me with bitter blows, inflicting sorrows, sending distress
without and within. Under heaven there is none to console me
except You, my Lord God, the heavenly Physician of souls, Who
wound and heal, Who cast down to hell and raise up again. Your
discipline is upon me and Your very rod shall instruct me.
Behold, beloved Father, I am in Your hands. I bow myself
under Your correcting chastisement. Strike my back and my neck,
that I may bend my crookedness to Your will. Make of me a pious
and humble follower, as in Your goodness You are wont to do, that
I may walk according to Your every nod. Myself and all that is
mine I commit to You to be corrected, for it is better to be
punished here than hereafter.
You know all things without exception, and nothing in man's
conscience is hidden from You. Coming events You know before they
happen, and there is no need for anyone to teach or admonish You
of what is being done on earth. You know what will promote my
progress, and how much tribulation will serve to cleanse away the
rust of vice. Deal with me according to Your good pleasure and do
not despise my sinful life, which is known to none so well or so
clearly as to You alone.
Grant me, O Lord, the grace to know what should be known, to
praise what is most pleasing to You, to esteem that which appears
most precious to You, and to abhor what is unclean in Your sight.
Do not allow me to judge according to the light of my bodily
eyes, nor to give sentence according to the hearing of ignorant
men's ears. But let me distinguish with true judgment between
things visible and spiritual, and always seek above all things
Your good pleasure. The senses of men often err in their
judgments, and the lovers of this world also err in loving only
visible things. How is a man the better for being thought greater
by men? The deceiver deceives the deceitful, the vain man deceives
the vain, the blind deceives the blind, the weak deceives the weak
as often as he extols them, and in truth his foolish praise shames
them the more. For, as the humble St. Francis says, whatever
anyone is in Your sight, that he is and nothing more.
The Fifty-First Chapter
When We Cannot Attain to the Highest,
We Must Practice the Humble Works
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, you cannot always continue in the more fervent desire of
virtue, or remain in the higher stage of contemplation, but
because of humanity's sin you must sometimes descend to lower
things and bear the burden of this corruptible life, albeit
unwillingly and wearily. As long as you wear a mortal body you
will suffer weariness and heaviness of heart. You ought,
therefore, to bewail in the flesh the burden of the flesh which
keeps you from giving yourself unceasingly to spiritual exercises
and divine contemplation.
In such condition, it is well for you to apply yourself to
humble, outward works and to refresh yourself in good deeds, to
await with unshaken confidence My heavenly visitation, patiently
to bear your exile and dryness of mind until you are again visited
by Me and freed of all anxieties. For I will cause you to forget
your labors and to enjoy inward quiet. I will spread before you
the open fields of the Scriptures, so that with an open heart you
may begin to advance in the way of My commandments. And you will
say: the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared
with the future glory which shall be revealed to us.
The Fifty-Second Chapter
A Man Ought Not to Consider Himself Worthy of Consolation,
But Rather Deserving of Chastisement
LORD, I am not worthy of Your consolation or of any spiritual
visitation. Therefore, You treat me justly when You leave me poor
and desolate. For though I could shed a sea of tears, yet I should
not be worthy of Your consolation. Hence, I deserve only to be
scourged and punished because I have offended You often and
grievously, and have sinned greatly in many things. In all
justice, therefore, I am not worthy of any consolation.
But You, O gracious and merciful God, Who do not will that
Your works should perish, deign to console Your servant beyond all
his merit and above human measure, to show the riches of Your
goodness toward the vessels of mercy. For Your consolations are
not like the words of men.
What have I done, Lord, that You should confer on me any
heavenly comfort? I remember that I have done nothing good, but
that I have always been prone to sin and slow to amend. That is
true. I cannot deny it. If I said otherwise You would stand
against me, and there would be no one to defend me. What have I
deserved for my sins except hell and everlasting fire?
In truth, I confess that I am deserving of all scorn and
contempt. Neither is it fitting that I should be remembered among
Your devoted servants. And although it is hard for me to hear
this, yet for truth's sake I will allege my sins against myself,
so that I may more easily deserve to beg Your mercy. What shall I
say, guilty as I am and full of all confusion? My tongue can say
nothing but this alone: "I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned;
have mercy on me and pardon me. Suffer me a little that I may pour
out my grief, before I go to that dark land that is covered with
the shadow of death."
What do you especially demand of a guilty and wretched
sinner, except that he be contrite and humble himself for his
sins? In true sorrow and humility of heart hope of forgiveness is
born, the troubled conscience is reconciled, grace is found, man
is preserved from the wrath to come, and God and the penitent meet
with a holy kiss.
To You, O Lord, humble sorrow for sins is an acceptable
sacrifice, a sacrifice far sweeter than the perfume of incense.
This is also the pleasing ointment which You would have poured
upon Your sacred feet, for a contrite and humble heart You have
never despised. Here is a place of refuge from the force of the
enemy's anger. Here is amended and washed away whatever defilement
has been contracted elsewhere.
The Fifty-Third Chapter
God's Grace Is Not Given to the Earthly Minded
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, my grace is precious. It does not allow itself to be
mixed with external things or with earthly consolations. Cast away
all obstacles to grace, therefore, if you wish to receive its
Seek to retire within yourself. Love to dwell alone with
yourself. Seek no man's conversation, but rather pour forth devout
prayer to God that you may keep your mind contrite and your heart
Consider the whole world as nothing. Prefer attendance upon
God to all outward occupation, for you cannot attend upon Me and
at the same time take delight in external things. You must remove
yourself from acquaintances and from dear friends, and keep your
mind free of all temporal consolation. Thus the blessed Apostle
St. Peter begs the faithful of Christ to keep themselves as
strangers and pilgrims in the world (Peter 2:11).
What great confidence at the hour of death shall be his who
is not attached to this world by any affection. But the sickly
soul does not know what it is to have a heart thus separated from
all things, nor does the natural man know the liberty of the
spiritual man. Yet, if he truly wishes to be spiritual, he must
renounce both strangers and friends, and must beware of no one
more than himself.
If you completely conquer yourself, you will more easily
subdue all other things. The perfect victory is to triumph over
self. For he who holds himself in such subjection that sensuality
obeys reason and reason obeys Me in all matters, is truly his own
conqueror and master of the world.
Now, if you wish to climb to this high position you must
begin like a man, and lay the ax to the root, in order to tear out
and destroy any hidden unruly love of self or of earthly goods.
From this vice of too much self-love comes almost every other vice
that must be uprooted. And when this evil is vanquished, and
brought under control, great peace and quiet will follow at once.
But because few labor to die entirely to self, or tend
completely away from self, therefore they remain entangled in
self, and cannot be lifted in spirit above themselves. But he who
desires to walk freely with Me must mortify all his low and
inordinate affections, and must not cling with selfish love or
desire to any creature.
The Fifty-Fourth Chapter
The Different Motions of Nature and Grace
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, pay careful attention to the movements of nature and of
grace, for they move in very contrary and subtle ways, and can
scarcely be distinguished by anyone except a man who is spiritual
and inwardly enlightened. All men, indeed, desire what is good,
and strive for what is good in their words and deeds. For this
reason the appearance of good deceives many.
Nature is crafty and attracts many, ensnaring and deceiving
them while ever seeking itself. But grace walks in simplicity,
turns away from all appearance of evil, offers no deceits, and
does all purely for God in whom she rests as her last end.
Nature is not willing to die, or to be kept down, or to be
overcome. Nor will it subdue itself or be made subject. Grace, on
the contrary, strives for mortification of self. She resists
sensuality, seeks to be in subjection, longs to be conquered, has
no wish to use her own liberty, loves to be held under discipline,
and does not desire to rule over anyone, but wishes rather to
live, to stand, and to be always under God for Whose sake she is
willing to bow humbly to every human creature.
Nature works for its own interest and looks to the profit it
can reap from another. Grace does not consider what is useful and
advantageous to herself, but rather what is profitable to many.
Nature likes to receive honor and reverence, but grace faithfully
attributes all honor and glory to God. Nature fears shame and
contempt, but grace is happy to suffer reproach for the name of
Jesus. Nature loves ease and physical rest. Grace, however, cannot
bear to be idle and embraces labor willingly. Nature seeks to
possess what is rare and beautiful, abhorring things that are
cheap and coarse. Grace, on the contrary, delights in simple,
humble things, not despising those that are rough, nor refusing to
be clothed in old garments.
Nature has regard for temporal wealth and rejoices in earthly
gains. It is sad over a loss and irritated by a slight, injurious
word. But grace looks to eternal things and does not cling to
those which are temporal, being neither disturbed at loss nor
angered by hard words, because she has placed her treasure and joy
in heaven where nothing is lost.
Nature is covetous, and receives more willingly than it
gives. It loves to have its own private possessions. Grace,
however, is kind and openhearted. Grace shuns private interest, is
contented with little, and judges it more blessed to give than to
Nature is inclined toward creatures, toward its own flesh,
toward vanities, and toward running about. But grace draws near to
God and to virtue, renounces creatures, hates the desires of the
flesh, restrains her wanderings and blushes at being seen in
Nature likes to have some external comfort in which it can
take sensual delight, but grace seeks consolation only in God, to
find her delight in the highest Good, above all visible things.
Nature does everything for its own gain and interest. It can
do nothing without pay and hopes for its good deeds to receive
their equal or better, or else praise and favor. It is very
desirous of having its deeds and gifts highly regarded. Grace,
however, seeks nothing temporal, nor does she ask any recompense
but God alone. Of temporal necessities she asks no more than will
serve to obtain eternity.
Nature rejoices in many friends and kinsfolk, glories in
noble position and birth, fawns on the powerful, flatters the
rich, and applauds those who are like itself. But grace loves even
her enemies and is not puffed up at having many friends. She does
not think highly of either position or birth unless there is also
virtue there. She favors the poor in preference to the rich. She
sympathizes with the innocent rather than with the powerful. She
rejoices with the true man rather than with the deceitful, and is
always exhorting the good to strive for better gifts, to become
like the Son of God by practicing the virtues.
Nature is quick to complain of need and trouble; grace is
stanch in suffering want. Nature turns all things back to self. It
fights and argues for self. Grace brings all things back to God in
Whom they have their source. To herself she ascribes no good, nor
is she arrogant or presumptuous. She is not contentious. She does
not prefer her own opinion to the opinion of others, but in every
matter of sense and thought submits herself to eternal wisdom and
the divine judgment.
Nature has a relish for knowing secrets and hearing news. It
wishes to appear abroad and to have many sense experiences. It
wishes to be known and to do things for which it will be praised
and admired. But grace does not care to hear news or curious
matters, because all this arises from the old corruption of man,
since there is nothing new, nothing lasting on earth. Grace
teaches, therefore, restraint of the senses, avoidance of vain
self-satisfaction and show, the humble hiding of deeds worthy of
praise and admiration, and the seeking in every thing and in every
knowledge the fruit of usefulness, the praise and honor of God.
She will not have herself or hers exalted, but desires that God
Who bestows all simply out of love should be blessed in His gifts.
This grace is a supernatural light, a certain special gift of
God, the proper mark of the elect and the pledge of everlasting
salvation. It raises man up from earthly things to love the things
of heaven. It makes a spiritual man of a carnal one. The more,
then, nature is held in check and conquered, the more grace is
given. Every day the interior man is reformed by new visitations
according to the image of God.
The Fifty-Fifth Chapter
The Corruption of Nature and the Efficacy of Divine Grace
O LORD, my God, Who created me to Your own image and likeness,
grant me this grace which You have shown to be so great and
necessary for salvation, that I may overcome my very evil nature
that is drawing me to sin and perdition. For I feel in my flesh
the law of sin contradicting the law of my mind and leading me
captive to serve sensuality in many things. I cannot resist the
passions thereof unless Your most holy grace warmly infused into
my heart assist me.
There is need of Your grace, and of great grace, in order to
overcome a nature prone to evil from youth. For through the first
man, Adam, nature is fallen and weakened by sin, and the
punishment of that stain has fallen upon all mankind. Thus nature
itself, which You created good and right, is considered a symbol
of vice and the weakness of corrupted nature, because when left to
itself it tends toward evil and to baser things. The little
strength remaining in it is like a spark hidden in ashes. That
strength is natural reason which, surrounded by thick darkness,
still has the power of judging good and evil, of seeing the
difference between true and false, though it is not able to
fulfill all that it approves and does not enjoy the full light of
truth or soundness of affection.
Hence it is, my God, that according to the inward man I
delight in Your law, knowing that Your command is good, just, and
holy, and that it proves the necessity of shunning all evil and
sin. But in the flesh I keep the law of sin, obeying sensuality
rather than reason. Hence, also, it is that the will to good is
present in me, but how to accomplish it I know not. Hence, too, I
often propose many good things, but because the grace to help my
weakness is lacking, I recoil and give up at the slightest
resistance. Thus it is that I know the way of perfection and see
clearly enough how I ought to act, but because I am pressed down
by the weight of my own corruption I do not rise to more perfect
How extremely necessary to me, O Lord, Your grace is to begin
any good deed, to carry it on and bring it to completion! For
without grace I can do nothing, but with its strength I can do all
things in You. O Grace truly heavenly, without which our merits
are nothing and no gifts of nature are to be esteemed!
Before You, O Lord, no arts or riches, no beauty or strength,
no wit or intelligence avail without grace. For the gifts of
nature are common to good and bad alike, but the peculiar gift of
Your elect is grace or love, and those who are signed with it are
held worthy of everlasting life. So excellent is this grace that
without it no gift of prophecy or of miracles, no meditation be it
ever so exalted, can be considered anything. Not even faith or
hope or other virtues are acceptable to You without charity and
O most blessed grace, which makes the poor in spirit rich in
virtues, which renders him who is rich in many good things humble
of heart, come, descend upon me, fill me quickly with your
consolation lest my soul faint with weariness and dryness of mind.
Let me find grace in Your sight, I beg, Lord, for Your grace
is enough for me, even though I obtain none of the things which
nature desires. If I am tempted and afflicted with many
tribulations, I will fear no evils while Your grace is with me.
This is my strength. This will give me counsel and help. This is
more powerful than all my enemies and wiser than all the wise.
This is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the
light of the heart, the consoler in anguish, the banisher of
sorrow, the expeller of fear, the nourisher of devotion, the
producer of tears. What am I without grace, but dead wood, a
useless branch, fit only to be cast away?
Let Your grace, therefore, go before me and follow me, O
Lord, and make me always intent upon good works, through Jesus
Christ, Your Son.
The Fifty-Sixth Chapter
We Ought to Deny Ourselves and Imitate Christ
Through Bearing the Cross
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, the more you depart from yourself, the more you will be
able to enter into Me. As the giving up of exterior things brings
interior peace, so the forsaking of self unites you to God. I will
have you learn perfect surrender to My will, without contradiction
Follow Me. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without the
Way, there is no going. Without the Truth, there is no knowing.
Without the Life, there is no living. I am the Way which you must
follow, the Truth which you must believe, the Life for which you
must hope. I am the inviolable Way, the infallible Truth, the
unending Life. I am the Way that is straight, the supreme Truth,
the Life that is true, the blessed, the uncreated Life. If you
abide in My Way you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make
you free, and you shall attain life everlasting.
If you wish to enter into life, keep My commandments. If you
will know the truth, believe in Me. If you will be perfect, sell
all. If you will be My disciple, deny yourself. If you will
possess the blessed life, despise this present life. If you will
be exalted in heaven, humble yourself on earth. If you wish to
reign with Me, carry the Cross with Me. For only the servants of
the Cross find the life of blessedness and of true light.
Lord Jesus, because Your way is narrow and despised by the
world, grant that I may despise the world and imitate You. For the
servant is not greater than his Lord, nor the disciple above the
Master. Let Your servant be trained in Your life, for there is my
salvation and true holiness. Whatever else I read or hear does not
fully refresh or delight me.
The Voice of Christ
My child, now that you know these things and have read them
all, happy will you be if you do them. He who has My commandments
and keeps them, he it is that loves Me. And I will love him and
will show Myself to him, and will bring it about that he will sit
down with Me in My Father's Kingdom.
Lord Jesus, as You have said, so be it, and what You have
promised, let it be my lot to win. I have received the cross, from
Your hand I have received it. I will carry it, carry it even unto
death as You have laid it upon me. Truly, the life of a good
religious man is a cross, but it leads to paradise. We have begun
-- we may not go back, nor may we leave off.
Take courage, brethren, let us go forward together and Jesus
will be with us. For Jesus' sake we have taken this cross. For
Jesus' sake let us persevere with it. He will be our help as He is
also our leader and guide. Behold, our King goes before us and
will fight for us. Let us follow like men. Let no man fear any
terrors. Let us be prepared to meet death valiantly in battle. Let
us not suffer our glory to be blemished by fleeing from the Cross.
The Fifty-Seventh Chapter
A Man Should Not Be Too Downcast When He Falls Into Defects
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, patience and humility in adversity are more pleasing to
Me than much consolation and devotion when things are going well.
Why are you saddened by some little thing said against you?
Even if it had been more you ought not to have been affected. But
now let it pass. It is not the first, nor is it anything new, and
if you live long it will not be the last.
You are manly enough so long as you meet no opposition. You
give good advice to others, and you know how to strengthen them
with words, but when unexpected tribulation comes to your door,
you fail both in counsel and in strength. Consider your great
weakness, then, which you experience so often in small matters.
Yet when these and like trials happen, they happen for your good.
Put it out of your heart as best you know how, and if it has
touched you, still do not let it cast you down or confuse you for
long. Bear it patiently at least, if you cannot bear it
cheerfully. Even though you bear it unwillingly, and are indignant
at it, restrain yourself and let no ill-ordered words pass your
lips at which the weak might be scandalized. The storm that is now
aroused will soon be quieted and your inward grief will be
sweetened by returning grace. "I yet live," says the Lord, "ready
to help you and to console you more and more, if you trust in Me
and call devoutly upon Me."
Remain tranquil and prepare to bear still greater trials. All
is not lost even though you be troubled oftener or tempted more
grievously. You are a man, not God. You are flesh, not an angel.
How can you possibly expect to remain always in the same state of
virtue when the angels in heaven and the first man in paradise
failed to do so? I am He Who rescues the afflicted and brings to
My divinity those who know their own weakness.
Blessed be Your words, O Lord, sweeter to my mouth than honey
and the honeycomb. What would I do in such great trials and
anxieties, if You did not strengthen me with Your holy words? If I
may but attain to the haven of salvation, what does it matter what
or how much I suffer? Grant me a good end. Grant me a happy
passage out of this world. Remember me, my God, and lead me by the
right way into Your kingdom.
The Fifty-Eighth Chapter
High Matters and the Hidden Judgments of God
Are Not to Be Scrutinized
The Voice of Christ
MY CHILD, beware of discussing high matters and God's hidden
judgments -- why this person is so forsaken and why that one is
favored with so great a grace, or why one man is so afflicted and
another so highly exalted. Such things are beyond all human
understanding and no reason or disputation can fathom the
judgments of God.
When the enemy puts such suggestions in your mind, therefore,
or when some curious persons raise questions about them, answer
with the prophet: "Thou art just, O Lord, and righteous are Thy judgments"
(Ps. 118:137); and this: "The judgments of the Lord are true and
wholly righteous" (Ps. 18:10). My judgments are to be feared, not
discussed, because they are incomprehensible to the understanding
In like manner, do not inquire or dispute about the merits of
the saints, as to which is more holy, or which shall be greater in
the kingdom of heaven. Such things often breed strife and useless
contentions. They nourish pride and vainglory, whence arise envy
and quarrels, when one proudly tries to exalt one saint and the
other another. A desire to know and pry into such matters brings
forth no fruit. On the contrary, it displeases the saints, because
I am the God, not of dissension, but of peace -- of that peace
which consists in true humility rather than in self-exaltation.
Some are drawn by the ardor of their love with greater
affection to these saints or to those, but this affection is human
and not divine. I am He who made all the saints. I gave them
grace: I brought them to glory. I know the merits of each of them.
I came before them in the blessings of My sweetness. I knew My
beloved ones before the ages. I chose them out of the world --
they did not choose Me. I called them by grace, I drew them on by
mercy. I led them safely through various temptations. I poured
into them glorious consolations. I gave them perseverance and I
crowned their patience. I know the first and the last. I embrace
them all with love inestimable. I am to be praised in all My
saints. I am to be blessed above all things, and honored in each
of those whom I have exalted and predestined so gloriously without
any previous merits of their own.
He who despises one of the least of mine, therefore, does no
honor to the greatest, for both the small and the great I made.
And he who disparages one of the saints disparages Me also and all
others in the kingdom of heaven. They are all one through the bond
of charity. They have the same thought and the same will, and they
mutually love one another; but, what is a much greater thing, they
love Me more than themselves or their own merits. Rapt above
themselves, and drawn beyond love of self, they are entirely
absorbed in love of Me, in Whom they rest. There is nothing that
can draw them away or depress them, for they who are filled with
eternal truth burn with the fire of unquenchable love.
Therefore, let carnal and sensual men, who know only how to
love their own selfish joys, forbear to dispute about the state of
God's saints. Such men take away and add according to their own
inclinations and not as it pleases the Eternal Truth. In many this
is sheer ignorance, especially in those who are but little
enlightened and can rarely love anyone with a purely spiritual
love. They are still strongly drawn by natural affection and human
friendship to one person or another, and on their behavior in such
things here below are based their imaginings of heavenly things.
But there is an incomparable distance between the things which the
imperfect imagine and those which enlightened men contemplate
through revelation from above.
Be careful, then, My child, of treating matters beyond your
knowledge out of curiosity. Let it rather be your business and aim
to be found, even though the least, in the kingdom of God. For
though one were to know who is more holy than another, or who is
greater in the kingdom of heaven, of what value would this
knowledge be to him unless out of it he should humble himself
before Me and should rise up in greater praise of My name?
The man who thinks of the greatness of his own sins and the
littleness of his virtues, and of the distance between himself and
the perfection of the saints, acts much more acceptably to God
than the one who argues about who is greater or who is less. It is
better to invoke the saints with devout prayers and tears, and
with a humble mind to beg their glorious aid, than to search with
vain inquisitiveness into their secrets.
The saints are well and perfectly contented if men know how
to content themselves and cease their useless discussions. They do
not glory in their own merits, for they attribute no good to
themselves but all to Me, because out of My infinite charity I
gave all to them. They are filled with such love of God and with
such overflowing joy, that no glory is wanting to them and they
can lack no happiness. All the saints are so much higher in glory
as they are more humble in themselves; nearer to Me, and more
beloved by Me. Therefore, you find it written that they cast their
crowns before God, and fell down upon their faces before the Lamb,
and adored Him Who lives forever.
Many ask who is the greater in the kingdom of heaven when
they do not know whether they themselves shall be worthy of being
numbered among its least. It is a great thing to be even the least
in heaven where all are great because all shall be called, and
shall be, the children of God. The least shall be as a thousand,
and the sinner of a hundred years shall die. For when the
disciples asked who should be greater in the kingdom of heaven
they heard this response: "Unless you be converted and become as
little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, he
is the greater in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3, 4).
Woe to those, therefore, who disdain to humble themselves
willingly with the little children, for the low gate of the
heavenly kingdom will not permit them to enter. Woe also to the
rich who have their consolations here, for when the poor enter
into God's kingdom, they will stand outside lamenting. Rejoice,
you humble, and exult, you poor, for the kingdom of God is yours,
if only you walk in the truth.
The Fifty-Ninth Chapter
All Hope and Trust Are to Be Fixed In God Alone
WHAT, Lord, is the trust which I have in this life, or what is my
greatest comfort among all the things that appear under heaven? Is
it not You, O Lord, my God, Whose mercies are without number?
Where have I ever fared well but for You? Or how could things go
badly when You were present? I had rather be poor for Your sake
than rich without You. I prefer rather to wander on the earth with
You than to possess heaven without You. Where You are there is
heaven, and where You are not are death and hell. You are my
desire and therefore I must cry after You and sigh and pray. In
none can I fully trust to help me in my necessities, but in You
alone, my God. You are my hope. You are my confidence. You are my
consoler, most faithful in every need.
All seek their own interests. You, however, place my
salvation and my profit first, and turn all things to my good.
Even though exposing me to various temptations and hardships, You
Who are accustomed to prove Your loved ones in a thousand ways,
order all this for my good. You ought not to be loved or praised
less in this trial than if You had filled me with heavenly
In You, therefore, O Lord God, I place all my hope and my
refuge. On You I cast all my troubles and anguish, because
whatever I have outside of You I find to be weak and unstable. It
will not serve me to have many friends, nor will powerful helpers
be able to assist me, nor prudent advisers to give useful answers,
nor the books of learned men to console, nor any precious
substance to win my freedom, nor any place, secret and beautiful
though it be, to shelter me, if You Yourself do not assist,
comfort, console, instruct, and guard me. For all things which
seem to be for our peace and happiness are nothing when You are
absent, and truly confer no happiness.
You, indeed, are the fountain of all good, the height of
life, the depth of all that can be spoken. To trust in You above
all things is the strongest comfort of Your servants.
My God, the Father of mercies, to You I look, in You I trust.
Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly benediction, so that it
may become Your holy dwelling and the seat of Your eternal glory.
And in this temple of Your dignity let nothing be found that might
offend Your majesty. In Your great goodness, and in the multitude
of Your mercies, look upon me and listen to the prayer of Your
poor servant exiled from You in the region of the shadow of death.
Protect and preserve the soul of Your poor servant among the many
dangers of this corruptible life, and direct him by Your
accompanying grace, through the ways of peace, to the land of