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Full text of "How to walk before God, or, The holy exercise of the presence of God"

i To WALK BEFORE GOD 



VAUBERT 



k 



HOW TO WALK BEFORE GOD 

OR 

THK HOLY EXERCISE 

OF THE 

PRESENCE OF GOD. 



IN THREE PARTS. 



/?* 



Translated from the French 

OF 

T. F. VAUBERT : 
OF THE SOCIETY OF JESUS, 



REVISED EDITION. 



Ambula coram me et esto perfectus. 
Walk before me, and be perfect. 

Genesis, xvii, 1. 



B. HERDER 
17 SOUTH BROADWAY, ST. Louis, Mo. 

AND 

68, GREAT RUSSELL ST., LONDON, W. C. 
COL11917 

BI8. MAJOR 
TUKUiYIO 



N1HIL OBSTAT. 
Sti. Ludovici, die 1. Sept. 1910. 

F. G. HOLWECK, 

Censor Theologians. 

IMPRIMATUR. 
Sti. Ludovici, die 1. Sept. 1910. 

>J JOANNES J. GLENNON, 

Archiepiscopus Sti. Liidovici. 



-BECKTOLD- 

PRINTING AND BOOK MFG. CO. 
ST. LOUIS, MO. 



TO THE 
IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY, 

THAT HEART FULL OF GRACE, 
THE DELIGHT OF THE HOLY TRINITY, 

THE PALACE OF DIVINE LOVE, 

THE MODEL OF THE INTERIOR LIFE, 

THE SEAT OF ALL VIRTUES, 

"THE GOLDEN ALTAR," 

WHENCE CONTINUALLY ASCENDS THE 

INCENSE OF THE PUREST PRAISE, 

IS THIS TRANSLATION 

MOST HUMBLY DEDICATED, 

BY THE LAST AND LEAST WORTHY OF 

HER SERVANTS. 



PREFACE. 



The following little treatise on the 
manner of exercising the presence of 
God, selected from three authors greatly 
esteemed for their piety , will, it is hoped, 
be found very useful to such as desire 
to be instructed in their obligations re 
garding this holy practice, whatever be 
their state or condition, as well as to 
those who are charged by their ministry 
to teach and instruct them. Without a 
lively sense of the divine presence the 
mind languishes in the meditation of 
truths the most essential and affecting. 
A lively conviction of the presence of 
God is the soul of all good works. 



vi. Preface. 

Without it the Christian, like the hypo 
critical Jew, honors God with his lips 
whilst his heart is far from Him, and 
thus, so far from drawing down, by the 
holy exercise of prayer, some drops of 
the celestial dew of grace, he therein 
experiences disgust and dissatisfaction. 

Whence comes it that the Royal 
Prophet prays with so much fervor, and 
that the Holy Ghost has instructed so 
many by the truths contained in his 
psalms, but because he had God always 
present, I have, said he, God ever be 
fore my eyes. (Ps. xv. 8.) It is the 
exercise of the divine presence which 
has formed so many holy bishops and 
confessors, so many solitaries and re 
cluses, and sanctified so many others in 
all the bustle of active life ; it was what 
made holy Job tremble, and rendered 



Preface. vii. 

him so circumspect in all he did. I 
feared all my works, said he. 

Meditate on this great truth, Christian 
soul ; it is, alas ! one that is too little 
attended to. To the shame of our age 
be it said, we live as if the all-seeing 
eye of the Omnipotent were closed upon 
our ways. Let your faith, on the con 
trary, be practical ; by exercising it 
you will soon learn its advantages, and 
your advancement in piety and devotion 
will be so evident as to convince all that 
he who walks before God will assuredly 
become perfect. (Gen. xvii. 1.) 



THE HOLY EXERCISE 



OK QOD. 

PART I. 

CHAPTEK I. 

God every where present. 
God is every where present. He is 
in Heaven, on the throne of His glory, 
where He forms the delight of the 
blessed; He is on earth, not only by 
His knowledge of what passes there, or 
as the sun by his rays and influences, or 
as a king who is in every part of his do 
minions at one and the same moment by 
his authority, as some have erroneously 
imagined; but He is there by His es 
sence, by His presence, by His power ; 
ruling, preserving, governing all things. 
To this divine truth the greater part of 
Christians pay little or no attention. 



iO Presence of God. 

Children are taught in their infancy 
it is one of the first truths to be met in 
the Christian doctrine ; but as they re 
peat it without understanding it, it 
makes no impression on their minds, 
and has no influence on their after con 
duct. 

The prophet Jeremy, at the dictation 
of the Holy Ghost, declares to us that 
the Lord fills Heaven and earth. His 
immensity being essentially without lim 
its, it follows, by a necessary conse 
quence, that His being is intimately 
present in all beings that is, that there 
is nothing between God and them ; that 
He absorbs us in Himself, environs us, 
fills us, is more intimately united to us 
than we are to ourselves ; that we are 
in Him, that we live in Him, that we 
perform all our actions in Him. As St. 
Paul says, "The Lord is not far from 
any one of us, for in Him we live, move 
and have our being." (Actsxvii. 28.) 
Oh, how little is this consoling truth 



Presence of God. 11 

known, how few reflect on it. With 
what reason might we not reproach 
Christians, as St. John the Baptist re 
proached the Jews "There is one in 
the midst of you whom you know not," 
and whose presence you forget to honor 
and reverence, infinitely adorable though 
it be. ( John i. 26.) 

Convinced of our blindness, let us 
humbly ask of God, with the blind man 
in the gospel, to enlighten us: Lord, 
grant that I may see. (Luke xviii. 41.) 
Let us say with the Psalmist, where 
shall I go from thy spirit? or whither 
shall I flee from thy face? If I ascend 
to Heaven, thou art there ; if I descend 
to Hell, thou art there also. (Ps. 
cxxxviii. 7.) As the birds wherever 
they fly meet the air, and as the fishes 
wheresoever they swim meet the water, 
so whithersoever we go we continually 
find God, and find him, as St. Augustine 
says, more present to us than we are to 
ourselves. 



12 Presence of God. 

CHAPTER II. 

God is every where with all His Greatness. 

God, being infinitely perfect, is not 
composed of parts ; He is incapable of 
division, and, therefore, must be entire 
in every place. If whole and entire in 
all places, He is in all places with His 
divine perfections in all their excellence. 
In the least grain of sand as in the 
highest heaven, He is no less adorable, 
no less worthy of our respect and praise. 
His presence, then, demands our atten 
tion in all places ; His greatness de 
serves our praise, His omnipotence our 
respect, His beauty our admiration, His 
goodness our love, His mercy our confi 
dence, His liberality our gratitude, His 
justice our fear, His providence an en 
tire abandonment of ourselves into His 
adorable hands. It is this last sacred 
attribute that particularly claims our 
homage. In effect how is it possible 
not to confide in this Divine Providence 



Presence of God. 13 

since God permits, nay wishes, us to re 
gard Him as a Father, whose love 
infinitely surpasses that of all the fathers 
and mothers on earth put together: A 
father infinitely rich in mercies, always 
ready to forget our sins when we detest 
them, always present in our wants, 
overwhelming with His benefits those 
who fear Him ; covering them with His 
wings as an eagle does her young, 
writing them in His hands (Isaiah xlix. 
16,) and keeping an account even of 
the number of the hairs of their head. 
(Luke xii. 7.) How happy should we 
be, if our eyes were opened to so many 
wonders, and if, profiting by the light 
of faith, we were every where, and par 
ticularly within ourselves, contemplat 
ing the three divine persons of the Ador 
able Trinity, with all their glory and 
wonderful attributes. The earth would 
then become a paradise, and nothing 
would be capable of disturbing our 
repose ; even amid the strangest events 



14 Presence of God. 

and unforeseen accidents we should still 
remain in peace, conscious of being sur 
rounded on all sides by the power 
and goodness of an Omnipotent God, 
to whom all creatures on earth and in 
hell are subject and equally bound to 
obey. 

CHAPTER III. 

God being every where, we should remember His 
Divine presence in all places and at all times. 

If it be the property of great and won 
derful things so to attract our attention 
and occupy our minds that extreme vio 
lence would be necessary to withdraw 
our attention from them, how is it pos 
sible that we think so seldom of God, 
before whom honor is but a phantom, 
and beauty but a name? How can it be 
that this divine being, who during all 
eternity will be the admiration of the 
blessed, should be thus consigned to 
forgetfulness and every where entirely 
forgotten. O blindness of the human 



Presence of God. 16 

mind, how incomprehensible thou art! 
Entirely occupied with the earth, we 
seek all our support in creatures ; God 
alone is neglected. Though near, He is 
not seen ; we think as little of Him as 
if every thing were in our power and 
that nothing depended on him. 

The great St. Theresa, a seraphic 
soul, penetrated deeply with a sense of 
the divine greatness, declared that after 
having contemplated the majesty of 
God the most perfect creatures appeared 
in her eyes as so many atoms, and that 
she was covered with confusion at the 
idea that she could still occupy her 
mind with, and was yet in danger of 
fixing her affections on them. 

If we reflect on the occupation of the 
greater part of mankind, we shall find 
that it is confined to earthly things: 
houses, gardens, lands, horses, fnrniture 
equipage, dress, honors, pleasures, and 
other temporal things take up all their 
attention. It would seem, as St. Augus- 



{6 Presence of God. 



tine says, that man is become all flesh, 
for he thinks of nothing but what falls 
under the observation of his senses. 
He passes all his life, alas ! in the for- 
getfulness of a God present, who alone 
can constitute his happiness, and who 
alone deserves the thoughts of his mind 
and the affections of his heart. Strange 
corruption ! unfortunate blindness ! 
which, withdrawing man from his princi 
pal and only duty , enslaves him to sensible 
things. Infamous dominition of the an 
imal part, which, abasing man below 
the brutes, renders him the most unfor 
tunate and contemptible of all God s 
creatures. 

Can we be amazed, that after these 
reflections a person should joyfully pre 
fer solitude, which affords him the 
peaceful enjoyment of the company of 
the three Divine Persons of the most 
Holy Trinity, to the most agreeable 
earthly society, in which he can scarce 
ly have a single word or idea of spiritual 



Presence of God. 17 

things ! This is what formerly peopled 
the deserts with anchorets and the mon 
asteries with religious. Having no other 
company, no other pleasure than God 
alone, they possessed that solid peace of 
which the world is ignorant, and thus, 
leading an angelic life, already tasted 
by anticipation the delights of Paradise. 
Let no one, then, complain of loneli 
ness, since we have, in all places, that 
divine company which constitutes the 
bliss of the elect. Oh, that religious 
persons thought of this truth ! their sol 
itude would no longer appear weari 
some ; on the contrary, they would 
regard it as one of the truest sources 
of their happiness. Oh, that the poor 
and abandoned would reflect thereon! 
it would afford them the truest consola 
tion. Oh, that all persons recognized 
this gift of God! they would soon 
clearly see how easy it is to dispense 
with the creature when we have the 

Creator. 

2 



18 Presence of God. 

If we but knew the honor conferred 
on us by being allowed to entertain our 
selves with the Divine Majesty, there is 
nothing which we would not do to enjoy 
so divine a gift. A soul enlightened by 
the spirit of God clearly sees that to 
enjoy this happiness but for a single 
moment, it would not be too much to 
labor and suffer during her whole life. 
We can enjoy this inestimable honor 
whensoever we please, yet we slight 
and neglect it. Woe to us if we make 
of it such small account. Woe to thee, 
O world, which, having God present 
every where, in thy blindness regardest 
Him no where ; who art wearied with 
His blessed remembrance, and tired with 
the least word which is said of Him, 
preferring to Him the vilest interest and 
the most contemptible pleasure. 

But whence does this deplorable 
blindness proceed, if not from attach 
ment to earthly things ; or because the 
eyes of the soul, being obscured by sin, 



Presence of God. 19 

are incapable of beholding the divine 
light, and of contemplating spiritual 
things. Oh, "blessed are the clean of 
heart," for they shall see God. It is 
to such He manifests himself with 
such indescribable love ; it is on such 
He confers the favor of His divine 
presence. 

Purity of heart is, indeed, the best 
disposition for obtaining this precious 
gift; for though it be true that those 
who seek God sincerely will find Him, 
and hence, that those who, from time to 
time, apply themselves to the practice 
of His divine presence, will gradually, 
with His holy aid, acquire a habit of it, 
yet it is certain that He will manifest 
Himself much more perfectly to those 
who serve Him by a perfect renuncia 
tion of the world, themselves and all 
things else. 



20 Presence of God. 

CHAPTER IV. 

God being present every where, demands in all 
places our interior and exterior homage. 

Let us learn from the adorable Jesus, 
our divine master and model, what re 
spect we should render to the supreme 
majesty of God. This blessed Lord, 
who is equal to His Father, desires, in 
consequence of the profound respect He 
entertains for Him, to annihilate Him 
self before him in the adorable Euchar 
ist. Now, if He who is all, reduce 
Himself to such a state of abjection, to 
what should the creature, which is noth 
ing, reduce itself? Poor mortals as we 
are, shall there be henceforth anything 
too humbling for us ; or rather, shall we 
be able to find sufficient means to hum 
ble ourselves? It is no wonder that the 
saints have always lived in a spirit of 
sacrifice ; that they have made them 
selves living victims, immolating them 
selves continually to the greatness of 
God, by the destruction of their pas- 



Presence of God. 21 

sions, their self-will and self-love ; that 
they have endeavored to avoid the atten 
tion of men, and to have no part in their 
esteem or friendship, believing that it 
would be criminal to enter into compe 
tition with God, by dividing with him 
those minds and hearts which should be 
occupied only with him. It is extraor 
dinary what means this sentiment in 
duced them to adopt in order to be hid 
den from the creature and forgotten by 
men. 

The interior respect which we owe 
the divine presence i-s a state of perpet 
ual annihilation, which induces us to 
sacrifice continually to God all that we 
do, all that we suffer, and in fine, all 
that we are, and all that we may be, 
with regard to the rest of the world. In 
this state, regarding self no longer, one 
sees but God, and does all the good 
the divine majesty requires ; then the 
ways which conduct to Him, and which 
in the beginning appear most difficult, 



22 Presence of God. 

become smooth, and the heart, being 
lightened, runs, as it were, * in the 
path of perfection." (Ps. cxviii. 32.) 

Moreover, a person not only does 
good, but he does it in a manner exempt 
from an infinity of defects, which often 
destroy the merits of our best actions, 
while we are feeding ourselves with the 
notion of having done wonders and 
made a great progress in virtue. The 
presence of God sanctifies our most in 
different actions, as eating, drinking, 
sleeping, necessary recreation, and 
makes the Christian act as a Christian 
in all cases, being always animated by 
supernatural motives. 

As to the exterior respect we should 
render to the adorable presence of God, 
it is easy to conceive a just idea of it 
when we are persuaded that He sees us 
and attentively observes all our actions. 
If the presence of the great ones of the 
world, who are as nothing before God, 
inspires us with respect; if those who 



Presence of . God. 23 

are toying and amusing themselves, in 
stantly cease and regulate their exterior 
at the appearance of a person of quality, 
is there any place or any occasion 
in which our exterior should not be 
modest and respectful, since God is 
more intimately present to us in all 
places than we are to ourselves. This 
is what induced St. Paul to exhort us 
to great modesty, "Let your modesty 
be known to all men," said he, "for 
the Lord is nigh." (Philip iv. 5. ) The 
illustrious Bishop of Bellay, John de 
Camius, relates that having often 
watched St. Francis de Sales in his 
chamber, to see how he acted when alone, 
he always observed the greatest modesty 
and decorum in the holy prelate, because 
he never lost sight of the majesty of 
God. 

As Christians, we are bound to imi 
tate him. Animated by faith in this 
holy truth, we should put on the new 
man, separate our hearts from earthly 



24 Presence of God. 

things, and live in a continual attention 
and application to God, as far as is con 
sistent with our weakness. We should, 
as the Apostle says, live as children of 
light, and not as children of darkness, 
whose obscurity proceeds from their 
ignorance of divine things and this want 
of attention to the divine presence. 
(Eph. v. 8.) 

He who does evil, says our blessed 
Lord, shuns the light that is, he turns 
away from the remembrance of the 
presence of God, lest in its brightness 
he should perceive his own shame ; but 
those who walk in the divine presence 
do not act so, for they never do any 
thing when alone which they would 
fear to do before the greatest personage 
on earth. If they speak, it is like per 
sons who are heard by God; if they 
walk, or eat, or drink, it is as becomes 
those who are seen by God. In every 
place and time they observe a Christian 
moderation, and avoid the least excess ; 



Presence of God. 25 

they take recreation as children before 
a good and infinitely perfect parent who 
requires them to imitate Him. David, 
in the midst of the embarrassments at 
tendant on his kingly dignity, says that 
his "eyes were always on the Lord," 
that he had Him always in his sight. 
(Ps. xxiv. 15.) The idea of the pres 
ence of God, has made so deep an im 
pression on some enlightened souls, 
that they have been often found pros 
trate when alone and almost annihilated 
before His supreme greatness. The holy 
Baron de Renty and Gregory Lopez, 
went continually with their heads bare, 
sometimes exposed to rain and sun, 
through respect for the divine pres 
ence. 

But the principal effect which this di 
vine truth should produce, in us is to de 
ter us from committing sin. O that our 
faith in it were but sufficiently anima 
ted ; nothing could be more efficacious 
in preventing us from falling into sin 



26 Presence of God. 

than this great truth, GOD CONTINUALLY 
BEHOLDS us. What is most surprising 
of all is, that the sinner not only com 
mits sin in the presence of God, but 
even in God himself, His immensity 
filling all things. Several holy persons 
say that God is more present in us than 
our own soul that it is in Him we live, 
move and have our being ; and if this 
be so, and that He is the principle of our 
every movement, it follows that when 
we sin, we, by an execrable audacity, 
take advantage of the concurrence of 
our Creator, to offend and outrage Him 
by the bad use of the faculties, whether 
of mind or body, He has given us. Af 
ter such a horrible atrocity we should 
cease to wonder that sin is punished 
with eternal flames. 

It is an incontestable truth that God 
beholds us as attentively as if we were 
alone in the universe. He weighs our 
least thoughts, our slightest words and 
actions, and yet there are many of them 



Presence of God. 27 

that we would blush to have known to 
the humblest individual on earth. With 
much more reason should we be 
ashamed of their being known to this 
Divine Being. St. Theresa assures us 
that she was seized with such fear and 
terror when she reflected on the fright 
ful appearance a soul in sin made in 
the presence of God that it almost de 
prived her of life. Oh that all were 
filled with her sentiments ! 



CHAPTER V. 

God being every where present, every where de 
mands our love. 

As God s being is a consuming fire, 
according to St. Paul (Heb. xii. 29), 
and charity itself, according to the be 
loved disciple (John iv. 16), and as this 
Divine Being fills all things and is more 
present within us than we are to our 
selves, it follows that we are surround 
ed by Him on all sides, that we live in 



28 Presence of God. 

love itself. How comes it, then, to pass 
that we are so cold, that we have an im 
mense fire within us, and yet do not 
burn? If we considered deeply these 
words of our Divine Master, "I am 
come to cast fire upon earth, and what 
will I but that it be kindled" (Luke xii. 
49) ; if we entered into the designs of this 
God of love, we would neither labor for 
nor think of aught, but how to increase 
this conflagration, and to light up this 
divine fire where it does not yet burn. 
Such would be the object of our most 
ardent desires. Yes, we could not 
avoid crying out, according to the ex 
ample of a certain saint, Let us love, 
let us truly love this God alone in three 
persons. Let us, then, love God alone, 
whatever happens, and whatever it may 
cost us, and let us not be so unfortunate 
as to divide our hearts and affections. 
Let us love him in all His creatures, in 
all our actions, in all our sufferings, in 
all that we are ; let us love Him unceas- 



Presence of God. 29 

ingly, in all places and times, during 
our life, and at our death, that lov 
ing him may be our occupation for eter 
nity. 

He who loves God possesses Him, 
and, consequently, enjoys a sovereign 
and infinite God, which renders him 
perfectly happy, though he were the 
poorest and most abandoned of men, 
and loaded with all kinds of misery. 
We ought to reflect profoundly that God 
is the element of our souls, that He is 
the divine place of their habitation ; be 
cause immediately proceeding from God 
as their principle, they tend toward Him 
as to their centre and end. A fish 
would perish if taken out of its element, 
though it were placed in a basin of gold, 
ornamented with precious stones ; so 
will man, if he seeks out of God his 
consolation and repose. 

May the Lord be blessed for giving 
us a knowledge of these truths. The 
royal Prophet says he set the Lord al- 



30 Presence of God. 

ways before him, and that, therefore, 
his "heart was glad," his "tongue 
sang for joy," and, moreover, his "flesh 
reposed in hope." (Ps. xv. 9.) And 
afterwards he adds, that this is the way 
of life, that "the sight of God fills" him 
"with joy," and that "the delights it 
inspires have no end." (Ps. xv. ii.) 
Oh, how delightful, how glorious to 
preserve one s self continually in the 
presence of so good a Master. 



A PRAYER TO THE MOST HOLY 
TRINITY. 

O my God! Father, Son and Holy 
Ghost, who penetrate our hearts, who 
fill the universe by the immensity of 
your being, and bear us in your bosom, 
as the most tender of parents; spirit 
infinitely perfect, first principle of all 
things, in whom and by whom I exist, 
who are my centre and my only support, 
how blind have I not been in living so 



Presence of God. 31 

long without scarcely thinking of you, 
although continually in the presence of 
your Divine Majesty. You were in all 
the places in which I was, O Lord ; 
you heard all my words, you witnessed 
all my actions, you penetrated my most 
secret thoughts, you saw my heart, and 
I reflected not thereon. I walked, I 
spoke, I acted, I did all those things 
without remembering you, without a 
feeling of respecter love for you, as if I 
had not known, or had forgotten that 
you had given me a soul which can, at 
all times and at all places, enjoy you in 
secret by tending to you alone, and by 
giving to external occupations only the 
attention which it can not refuse them. 
What a happiness is not this, my God ! 
but how little is it known by the greater 
part of men. So much occupied and 
denied are they by their affection to crea 
tures that there is no place left for you 
in their minds or hearts. For my part, 
O my adorable Creator, I shall render 



32 Presence of God. 

you henceforward the love and respect 
which I owe you, and will apply myself 
seriously to the practice of your holy 
presence. I desire to renounce this 
sensual, carnal, exterior life, in order to 
live the life of the spirit that interior, 
supernatural and all divine life which 
your blessed Son came to communicate 
to men. Through His merits grant 
this grace to me, and to all who shall 
employ the means laid down for that 
purpose in this work, that being by 
them filled with your grace and spirit 
here, we may one day glorify you in 
Him and by Him in heaven. Amen. 



Presence of God. 



PART II. 

CHAPTER I. 

In what the exercise of the presence of God consists. 

The holy exercise of the presence of 
God, so much recommended by the 
Sacred Scriptures and by the Fathers of 
the Church, consists in a simple but 
affectionate remembrance of God pres 
ent within us. I say a simple idea or re 
membrance, for it does not require any 
representation or image, any reasoning 
or effort of the mind, or labor of the 
imagination, which might injure the 
head or cause other inconvenience. So 
far from this view of God being a hin 
drance to our occupations, it must, on 
the contrary, render them more easy 
and more agreeable, as would the pres 
ence of a good father, a kind friend, a 
beneficent king, for whom we would be 

obliged to labor, and whom alone we 
3 



34 Presence of God. 

would wish to please. And, then, since 
as Christians we should do all, even 
our most indifferent actions, for God, 
and as nothing can be done worthy of 
Him, or which can merit heaven, with 
out a particular grace, why is it that, 
knowing that God continually beholds 
us and is always ready to succor us, we 
are so slothful or so negligent as not to 
interrupt for some moments, our com 
merce with creatures to turn our minds 
to Him, and thus, insensibly acquire, 
like many holy souls, a facility in walk 
ing always in his presence, without 
being distracted from it by the most em 
barrassing occupations? 

This remembrance of God is not only 
simple, but amorous and affectionate ; 
not because it consists in forming par 
ticular acts of love of God, but because 
it is. always accompanied with a secret 
desire to please Him, to adore Him, to 
serve Him, which is nothing else, after 
all, but a mark of our love and of our anx- 



Presence of God. 35 

iety to unite and to attach ourselves to 
Him ; and, also, with a resolute will to 
remain so faithful to Him as to be able 
to say with the apostle, "Neither trib 
ulation, nor distress, nor famine nor per 
secution shall ever separate me from 
the charity of Christ." (Rom. viii. 
35.) 

1. We have said, in the definition 
of this exercise, that it was a simple 
remembrance of God present within us ; 
not that we may not consider Him as 
present in all places, but because to 
regard Him as present within ourselves 
induces more recollection and has been 
greatly esteemed by many saints. 

2. The exercise of the presence of 
God is, also, a simple regard which 
elevates, applies and unites us to God. 
St. Paul expresses it in these terms, 
"our conversation is in heaven." (Phil, 
iii. 20.) This regard or this look upon 
God, should be accompanied with 
peace and sweetness, the ordinary effect 



36 Presence of God. 

of our confidence in the goodness of 
this amiable Father, ever attentive to our 
necessities. So far, then, from employ 
ing in this exercise a violent applica 
tion, which would only render it diffi 
cult, it suffices to cast the eye of the 
soul frequently on this adorable object, 
in humble hope that He himself will 
render our attention to Him continual ; 
and, after having done what depends on 
us, to turn to him gently from time 
to time, saying in ourselves, O my 
soul, how hast thou been able to remain 
so long without thinking of God ! 

3. The exercise of the presence of 
God is, also, a secret invocation of His 
help and assistance. We might say it 
consists in often recurring to God, to 
induce Him to act with us, to fill us 
with His spirit, to be our light in dark 
ness, our strength in weakness, our con 
solation in trouble, our all in all, saying 
with the royal Prophet, O God, in 
cline unto my aid ; O Lord, make haste 



Presence of God. 37 

to help me." (Ps. Ixix.) This holy 
being, as he tells us, sought in God 
what the world unsuccessfully seeks in 
creatures: "I set the Lord always in 
my sight, says he, "for He is at my 
right hand that I be not moved. There 
fore my heart hath been glad, and my 
tongue hath rejoiced; moreover, my 
flesh also, shall rest in hope." (Ps. 
xv. 8, 9.) 

4. The exercise of the presence of 
God is, again, a respectful silence be 
fore the majesty of a God present, so 
that, penetrated with the sentiments of 
the same holy prophet, we exclaim, 
"Lord, I am as nothing before thee." 
(Ps. xxxvi. 7.) At other times the soul 
holds itself in that profound silence be 
fore God which St. Dionysius says is 
the praise most suited to His infinite 
majesty. It was the practice of this 
great saint, in his most intense ardors, 
as well as of other eminent servants of 
God, having no words to testify their 



38 Presence of God. 

gratitude, or to express what they saw of 
the greatness of God, to content them 
selves with admiring and adoring it, 
in the disposition to do all they could to 
acknowledge His goodness, and thus 
enter into that profound annihilation in 
His divine presence which was a true 
and real sacrifice of their minds and 
hearts. Such is that interior worship, 
that adoration "in spirit and truth," 
which our Lord speaks of in St. John 
(iv. 24) ; this respectful silence being 
nothing but the calm of the mind and 
heart from that agitation to which the 
greater part of Christians are never 
more subject than in time of prayer, 
and from which they cannot be freed 
without the practice of the divine pres 
ence. 

What an error, then, is it not to make 
devotion consist in a multitude of pray 
ers, often recited without attention to 
what we say, or to whom we speak, 
and without listening to what He 



Presence of God. 39 

speaks in us. St. Theresa says it is a 
great mistake, and that we lose consid 
erable in being so anxious to say much 
to God as to neglect hearkening to what 
he says to us. "Do you think," says 
she, "that God is silent when we speak 
to Him?" No, indeed. He speaks to 
our hearts every time that we address 
Him from our hearts. 

St. Augustine thus explains this com 
munication between God and us. The 
eternal Word and the soul have their 
particular language, by means of which 
they hold mutual intercourse. The lan 
guage of the Word is that goodness 
which induces Him to communicate 
Himself to the soul who speaks to 
Him. The language of the soul is that 
desire and that fervor which leads her 
to speak to and hear God. All this is 
effected in an admirable manner, and 
almost instantaneously, by its respectful 
silence. 

5. The exercise of the presence of 



40 Presence of God. 

God is, moreover, an interior abandon 
ment which the soul makes of itself 
and its interests to the good pleasure of 
this Sovereign Master, in whom she 
places all her confidence, saying with 
David, "my lots, O Lord, are in thy 
hands." (Ps. xxx. 16.) 

We are convinced by faith that we 
are always in the hands of God, the 
apostle having said that "it is in Him 
we live, move and have our being," 
&c. (Acts xvii. 28) ; and our Lord 
having declared that without His 
knowledge not a single hair falls from 
our head (Luke xxi. 18) ; yet we live 
as if we depended solely on ourselves, 
and, by a detestable ingratitude, we 
pass almost our whole life without 
thinking of that providential hand 
from which we receive so many gifts. 

The exercise of which we speak Is 
the remedy for this evil. A soul who 
remembers the presence of God is full 
of gratitude and confidence, and offers 



Presence of God. 41 

herself unceasingly to God, with all her 
interests and concerns, by this single 
word which she pronounces interiorly. 
All is yours, my God ; I wish for noth 
ing but you ; you are my treasure and 
my all ; or by any other words which 
grace inspires ; and little as this seems, 
it helps to withdraw her from creatures 
and makes her repose in God. 

6. The exercise of the presence of 
God may also be said to consist in a 
perfect submission of will to His, as 
our Lord himself teaches us in this 
petition of His own prayer, "Thy will 
be done on earth as it is in heaven." 
(Luke xxii. 42). One such act can re 
call a soul from its wanderings among 
creatures, and subject and elevate it to 
God, provided it be faithful enough to 
repeat it as often as He inspires ; and 
thus we may insensibly acquire the 
happy disposition of doing without 
pain the will of God in all things. 

7. In fine, the exercise of the pres- 



42 Presence of God. 

ence of God may he termed a supple 
ment to the sight of God, and it should 
produce in the soul who practices it 
something like to what the vision of 
God produces in the blessed. O my 
Lord and my God, what a consolation 
would it not be for us in our exile if we 
thought of you. And if, like Cain, we 
are fugitives from your presence and 
exiles from your heart, what reason 
have we not to fear, lest we become the 
prey of our passions, which are our 
most dangerous enemies. 

But those who are faithful to this 
holy exercise do not content themselves 
with merely regarding God, they apply 
themselves carefully to hear His orders, 
in order to execute them like the holy 
Psalmist, who says, "To thee have I 
lifted up my eyes who dwellest in the 
heavens. As the eyes of the servants 
are on the hands of their masters, so 
are our eyes to our Lord God, until He 
have mercy on us." (Ps. cxxiii.) 



Presence of God. 43 

Among the foregoing ideas of this 
holy exercise each one can select that 
which suits him best, and attach him 
self to its practice with perseverance, 
despite of the difficulties which he may 
meet at the outset. It should be re 
marked, according to F. Gonnelieu, of 
our Society, there is a presence of God 
for the mind, and another for the heart, 
as David says, "My heart, O Lord, 
hath spoken to you, my spirit hath 
sought 3 r ou." 

The presence of God for the mind is 
an actual, reiterated and continued view 
of God, looking upon and residing 
within us, which view animates us to 
regulate the movements of our hearts, 
to vanquish our passions, repress our 
humor, purify our intentions, and sepa 
rate ourselves from all that can remove 
us from God. It is a recollection of 
the mind in God which attracts His 
graces and benefits, supports us in 
temptations, consoles us in afflictions, 



44 Presence of God. 

renders our actions supernatural, our 
days full of merits, and our life worthy 
of God. 

This holy practice is the proper em 
ployment of a Christian, except love in 
God and for God ; according to St. 
Augustine, he can no more live a super 
natural life than his body could live a 
natural one without respiration. Hence, 
it is plain that a general act of the divine 
presence, formed in the morning, does 
not continue except it be frequently re 
newed, the lightness of our minds and 
the inclination of our hearts being 
proofs sufficiently strong of the facility 
with which we may pass from seeking 
God to seeking ourselves, and from 
ourselves to our passions. 

But, to resume our definition of the 
presence of God for the mind, it is an 
attending to the designs of God, to en 
ter on them with courage ; to His de 
sires, to content them with eagerness ; 
to His graces, to correspond to them 



Presence of God. 45 

with fidelity. It is a forgetfulness of 
all that has no reference to God, a 
separation from all that gratifies the 
heart and the senses against the com 
mands of God, a continual death to all 
human and irregular satisfactions; to 
find no pleasures but in what pleases 
God, as David says: "My soul refused 
to be comforted ; I remembered God 
and was delighted." (Ps. Ixxvi. 4.) 
It is an interior homage which the mind 
renders to God, a divine commerce 
which enriches us with the gifts of His 
grace and obtains for us those of His 
glory; which, by uniting us to God, 
renders us participators in His pleni 
tude, makes His love our ruling pas 
sion, and, in fine, makes us act in lov 
ing, and love in acting, and makes us 
die as we have lived, in thinking of and 
loving God. 

That Christian who has forgotten his 
Creator and his Saviour during his life 
must find himself in a lamentable state 



46 Presence of God. 

at death. It is a frightful thing to ap 
pear before a God whom he has little 
known and scarcely at all loved. Pre 
serve me, O Lord, from this misfortune. 
No, I shall never be tired of renewing 
the remembrance of your adorable pres 
ence, in order to elevate myself to you 
by confidence, and to attach myself to 
you by love. 

But the presence of God in the mind 
is not enough ; the heart must be fixed 
and riveted in Him by perpetually tend 
ing to Him, and by constant vigilance in 
obeying and loving Him. This is that 
continual prayer recommended in the 
Gospel, for we can not be always actu 
ally thinking of or speaking to God, 
but we can, and we should hold our 
hearts always turned toward Him, by a 
constant will to please and love Him. 
To do always what He wishes, to enter 
into all His designs, to make His good 
pleasure a law to one s self, is to pray 
always, to love always, to preserve al- 



Presence of God. . 47 

ways the presence of God. But as we 
have said that the presence of God to 
the mind must be often renewed, so 
also must this of the heart ; otherwise, 
it would soon be diverted from him by 
the artifices of self-love. 

After all, this tendency of the heart 
to God is the more necessary, as it 
alone helps to fix the mind in Him. 
The reason why we think so rarely of 
this divine Being is because we have 
him so seldom present to our minds, 
and that our hearts are empty of Him 
and attached to creatures. As Magda 
len did not allow herself to be so taken 
with the dazzling appearance of the 
angels who appeared at the sepulchre 
as to give up the search of "Him whom 
her soul loved," so a heart which sin 
cerely tends to God stops not, nor 
attaches itself to any thing created 
nothing supplying to it in any degree 
the place of God. 

The fire of divine love is ever in mo- 



48 Presence of God. 

tion, always carrying the heart toward 
heaven, purifying it from its irregular 
attachments, and disposing it to enter 
into the possession of the heart of God 
Himself ; hence the necessity of light 
ing up this sacred fire every morning, 
and of nourishing it during the day by 
frequent elevations of the soul, never 
suffering it to be extinguished by sin, or 
cooled by negligence or tepidity. By 
this means, the heart, ceasing to be it 
self, feels transported into God, and 
continues under the empire of His good 
pleasure. If a person perceive that he 
has withdrawn himself from this holy 
dominion by voluntary infidelities, he 
should at once detest them, and, despite 
of his repugnance, submit himself to 
it anew, with a purpose never again to 
withdraw from it. 

After having spoken of the practice 
of holy recollection of the mind and 
heart in God, it is necessary for a 
Christian who intends to sanctify him- 



Presence of God. 49 

self to be convinced of its necessity. 
The first proof is these words of our 
Lord, "God is a spirit, and they who 
adore Him should adore Him in spirit 
and in truth," for to adore God in spirit 
is to recollect one s self in His pres 
ence, to render Him internal homage, to 
join to one s prayers attention of mind 
and devotion of heart, to make frequent 
aspirations to heaven, and to frequently 
elevate one s thoughts to God; in fine, 
it is to devote one s mind and heart to 
render to this divine Being that interior 
worship and adoration which Jesus 
Christ requires from all Christians in 
these other words, used on the same 
occasion, "The hour cometh, and now 
is, when the true adorers shall adore 
the Father in spirit and in truth." 
(Johniv. 23.) 

The second proof is what our Lord 
said of the Jews, "This people honor 
me with their lips, while their heart is 
far from me." (Matt. xv. 18.) For 



50 Presence of God. 

these words at once convince us that a 
purely external worship is an abomina 
tion before God. 

Exercises of piety, then, in order to 
be sanctifying, should be performed with 
a mind recollected in the presence of 
God and a heart occupied solely with 
the desire of pleasing Him. It is very 
difficult to succeed without studying 
Jesus Christ, the perfect model of the 
interior life, without applying one s 
mind to know Him, and one s heart to 
love Him. It is thus alone we can 
form Him in our hearts, be animated 
by His spirit, and live by His life. 

But address yourself to this divine 
Master, with all the fervor of which 
you are capable, for the graces neces 
sary for this end, and endeavor to con 
ceive, by all He has done for you, what 
you should endeavor to do for Him. 



Presence of God. 51 



PRAYER TO THE INCARNATE WORD 
IN THE WOMB OF MARY. 

Adorable Jesus! who didst remain 
during nine months in the womb of 
your blessed Mother, hidden from and 
unknown to the world ; I regard you in 
this state as the model of the interior 
life of a Christian, a life despised by 
men, but honored by angels, and form 
ing even angels on earth by the wonder 
ful changes it operates. O infinite love 
of my God, how incomprehensible are 
you, and how frightful is our blindness. 
You have espoused or weakness and 
miseries to gain our hearts, and we re 
fuse to conceal, to hide, to lose our 
selves happily in you, thereby to get rid 
of our evils and enrich ourselves with 
your treasure. Yes, my Saviour! it is 
in those who love this interior life that 



52 Presence of God. 

you continually consummate the work 
of redemption, and it is in them you in 
carnate yourself in some sort every day 
in a spiritual manner, and thus, whilst 
they lodge you in their hearts, you live 
in theirs that hidden life which you 
lived on earth. 

Ah, my Saviour! may I ask one 
favor? It is that I, and all who read 
this work, may enter at once on the 
practice of this interior life, and faith 
fully persevere in it. May we, for this 
purpose, renounce ourselves and all 
creatures, and die to the carnal and sen 
sual life of worldlings, to live hidden 
with Christ in God. Amen. 



CHAPTER II. 

On the Excellence and Utility of this Holy Exer 
cise of the Presence of God. 

Fidelity to grace is not so much a 
particular virtue as the efficient cause, 
the mother, nurse, spirit and life of all 



Presence of God. 53 

virtues : it is the effect of good desires, 
the increase of holy resolutions, the ap 
plication of all the means of salvation, 
the pledge of perseverance, and the seal 
of predestination. It is this fidelity 
which makes saints ; no one has ever 
become perfect without obeying the in 
spirations of the Holy Ghost. 

But how have they acquired this fi 
delity, except by often remembering, 
and being attentive to the presence of 
God. The greater part of Christians 
lead a life wholly exterior, employing 
themselves in gratifying the senses and 
passions, and never entering into them 
selves to hear the voice of God, or to 
observe the movements of His grace ; 
but, on the contrary, are deaf to the 
one, and despise and reject the other. 
This was the precise cause of the de 
struction of Jerusalem, and the repro 
bation of the Jewish people. "All 
these evils shall come upon you," said 
our Lord, when weeping over the un- 



54 Presence of God. 

happy city, "because you have not 
known the time of your visitation." 
The same cause still produces the same 
unhappy effects "With desolation is 
all the earth made desolate, because 
there is no one who thinks in his 
heart." (Jerem. xii. 11.) Few recol 
lect themselves in the presence of God ; 
few reflect on the truths of holy faith. 
Almost all Christians, after a few vocal 
prayers, said with precipitation, and, 
perhaps, a mass heard without attention 
or devotion, give themselves full liberty 
the rest of the day to think, and say, 
and desire, and do what their inclina 
tions prompt, without regarding God 
more than if He did not exist for them ; 
without restraining or renouncing them 
selves in any thing. To give nothing 
to God or their salvation, which may 
cost them any pain or difficulty, is the 
description of devotion practiced by 
most Christians, and which is, indeed, 
the way of perdition. 



Presence of God. 55 

This life, wholly sensual, and more 
Pagan than Christian, is directly op 
posed to that which is led by the true 
servants of God, who, as David says, 
"have their eyes always fixed on their 
Master, to know His divine will." It 
appears that this holy being, who had 
the happiness of being according to 
God s own heart, was in this happy 
disposition, that he held himself always 
in the presence of God, and often re 
curred to Him by those lively and ardent 
effusions of faith and confidence which 
we admire in his Psalms. 

1, But let us consider the advan 
tages of this holy exercise. St. Am 
brose says it is a sovereign means to 
avoid sin ; and St. Thomas affirms that 
it would be impossible for us to offend 
God deliberately if we remembered that 
His eyes are always fixed on us. 

2. The presence of God is, also, 
according to St. Basil, a powerful sup 
port in time of temptation. Remem- 



56 Presence of God. 

ber, says St. Augustine, that God re 
gards you as a captain regards his 
troops in the field of battle, holding in 
one hand graces to help and assist you 
in your recurring to Him, and in the 
other, crowns to recompense you for 
the victories gained over His and your 
enemies. 

The same saint also says that the 
most efficacious means to destroy in 
ourselves the empire of sin and satan, 
is joy of heart in the divine presence, 
because a person may find paradise in 
all places, provided the heart be united 
to God. 

The pious author of the Imitation 
of Jesus Christ says, that "he to whom 
all things are one, who sees all things 
in one, that is, in God, can be always 
content;" and elsewhere he says, "to 
walk with God within one s self, and 
not to be entangled with any external 
affections, is the mark of an interior 
and spiritual man." 



Presence of God. 57 

3. The exercise of the presence of 
God is, if faithfully practiced, the short 
est way to attain perfection. When 
God is present, says a holy doctor, every 
thing else disappears, and the soul re 
mains alone with Him. What a happi 
ness for this soul ! Those who are en 
lightened by grace know by happy ex 
perience that one quarter of an hour 
spent thus is better than whole days 
employed in external affairs, which are 
useful only inasmuch as they lead us to 
God. O that all Christians, as the de 
vout De Bernierres, the author of the 
Interior Christians, used to say, were 
deeply penetrated with this truth. 

Some say, he adds, they have nothing 
to employ them. But how can this be 
true, since they have always labor 
through which they may unite them 
selves to God, and make Jesus Christ 
dwell in them permanently by the life 
of faith? A Christian should say, I, 
indeed, have much to do ; God is with- 



58 Presence of God. 

in me, and I must entertain Him ; He 
tills me, I must embrace Him, and 
unite myself to him, sirice He permits 
me this high, this unspeakable favor. 

Elsewhere the same holy man says, 
God is in all creatures, and the soul can 
find and unite herself to Him in them ; 
but He is present in the bottom of her 
heart as in a sacred temple, where he 
resides with complacency, if she be 
faithful to Him. It is there he makes 
himself be enjoyed by his creature in a 
manner which astonishes the angels. 

This is what the author of the Imita 
tion expresses in those charming words, 
which deserve to be engraved on all 
hearts: "Turn yourself to God with 
your whole heart, forsake this miserable 
world, and your soul shall find rest. 
Learn to despise exterior things, and 
to give yourself to the interior, and you 
will see that the kingdom of God is 
peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, which 
is not given to the wicked. Jesus Christ 



Presence of God. 59 

will come unto you and show you His 
divine sweetness if you prepare Him 
a worthy mansion within you. All the 
glory and beauty which the celestial 
Spouse loves is in the interior of the 
soul, and it is there He takes His de 
light. He Himself saj s, If any one 
love me, he will keep my words, and 
we will come unto him, and take up 
our abode with him. ( John xiv. 23.) 
Open, then, your heart to Jesus, and 
deny admittance to all others. When 
you possess Jesus, you are rich, and He 
alone suffices. He himself will take 
care of all that concerns you, and not 
disdain to act in your regard as a faith 
ful friend and a vigilant guardian, with 
out your being obliged to depend on 
men, who are always inefficient and 
powerless, if God make not use of them 
to succor you." 

4. The exercise of the presence of 
God wonderfully augments our faith, 
fortifies our hope and inflames our love. 



60 Presence of God. 

The best means to acquire a lively faith 
being to think often of God ; to in 
crease our hope, to regard Him often as 
our Father, and to remember that we 
are not only formed by Him, but that 
we are continually in His essence and 
in the bosom of His Providence ; to 
inflame our love, to turn our eyes often 
toward Him, because we thus attract 
on us His divine looks, which, like so 
many burning sparks, enkindle within 
us the fire of his charity. 

5. This holy exercise, moreover, im 
parts a wonderful facility in the prac 
tice of the different virtues, for it can 
be said with truth that a soul who holds 
herself in the presence of God with re 
spect and love, at one and the same 
moment adores Him, loves Him, 
thanks Him, abandons herself to and 
humbles herself before Him. This is 
what made St. Basil say, if you wish to 
do well what you perform, persuade 
yourself that God beholds you. 



Presence of God. 61 

6. If we want another proof of the 
sovereign excellence of this exercise, we 
have it in the words spoken by the Lord 
Himself to Abraham: "Walk before 
me and be perfect," which are equiv 
alent to His saying, keep yourself in my 
presence and you will be a saint. In 
deed, a person who does so, thereby lives 
with God, in God, and by God, in which 
perfection consists. He lives with God 
by an almost unceasing conversation 
with him ; he lives in God, seeking in 
Him alone His peace and repose ; he 
lives by God, since this interior and 
familiar intercourse renders God the 
food and life of his mind and heart. 

As a certain holy person exclaims, 
what a happiness to be always in God, 
but, alas, how little is this happiness 
known! He is a sun who shines day 
and night over us and within us, and 
we will not open our eyes to regard or 
look upon Him ; in the splendor of His 
light we are buried in darkness, and 



62 Presence of God. 

amid the fire and flames of His love we 
are frozen with cold. 

But, to animate you more powerfully 
to this holy exercise, consider the 
effects it produces in souls who faith 
fully practice it. They know God and 
themselves faT differently from what 
they previously did. Having their eyes 
always fixed on God, they see them 
selves in Him as in a resplendent mir 
ror, in which all their deformity is man 
ifested. The purity of God shows 
them their least defilement ; the sanc 
tity of God their smallest imperfection ; 
the fidelity of God their least infidelity. 
They become firmly persuaded that all 
that the world esteems is but vanity, 
and merits not a single thought. They 
say, in all sincerity and with the 
strongest conviction, God is all, the 
creature is nothing. 

These happy souls are remarkable 
for a great simplicity, which causes 
them to regard God purely in all 



Presence of God. 63 

things. They have that "simple eye," 
that purity of intention, spoken of in the 
Gospel those eyes of the dove, for 
which the spouse is praised in the Can 
ticles. They seek not their own inter 
est, or pleasure, or satisfaction even in 
this holy exercise, their sole object 
being to attach and unite themselves to 
God. Their affections are like so many 
magnets, which, being turned from 
their centre by violence, are in contin 
ual motion until they regain it. These 
souls do not occupy themselves unnec 
essarily with the things of earth. Every 
thing but God appears insipid and dis 
tasteful to them, as well as to St. Paul, 
who says that "he counted all things as 
loss that he might gain Jesus Christ." 
(Phil. iii. 8.) 

The faithful practice of this exercise 
for a considerable time renders a per 
son quite spiritual. By force of think 
ing of God and tending toward Him 
the soul becomes, as it were, divine and 



64 Presence of God. 

is rendered like to Him; for if we 
adopt the manners and sentiments of 
those with whom we often converse, if 
a painter who attentively regards an 
original, produces a perfect copy, and 
if, in fine, the continual sight of snow 
renders some animals perfectly white, 
why should not a soul who applies her 
self continually to look upon and love 
God, become as like to Him as human 
weakness can permit. A person can 
not remain long in a place filled with 
perfumes without retaining their odor ; 
nor can iron, if put in a burning fur 
nace, fail, however black and heavy of 
its own nature, to take the color and 
qualities of fire ; how, then, can we re 
main continually in the presence of God 
without participating in His divine 
qualities and being inflamed with His 
love? 

A soul who has firmly resolved to 
remember God frequently, and to walk 
always in His sight, regards Him in the 



Presence of God. 65 

bottom of her heart as her centre and 
true repose. She feels that out of Him 
she is in a state of violence, like a fish 
out of its element, or a bone out of its 
place ; and as an experimental knowl 
edge of the truth of these words of St. 
Augustine, "Thou hast made us, O 
Lord, for thyself, and our hearts are un 
quiet till they rest in thee." 

What we have said of the great ad 
vantages accruing from this exercise 
should suffice to stir up the most indif 
ferent to devote themselves to it ; but 
lest any thing withhold them, we shall, 
in the next place, show the futility of 
the excuses which some allege, to dis 
pense themselves from it, having first 
implored of God, through the interces 
sion of the Holy Virgin, the grace to 
relish these holy truths. 



PRAYER TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN. 

O Holy Virgin! who, always occu 
pied with the Divine Presence, have 
5 



66 Presence of God. 

merited to be saluted by an angel as full 
of grace ; and who from that moment 
were filled with the Holy Ghost, and 
made the habitation of the Incarnate 
Word, obtain for me of my Adorable 
Saviour a great facility in thinking of 
Him frequently, and of constantly pre 
serving His holy presence, that I may 
be one of those who worship Him in 
spirit and truth. Beg for me, also, O 
incomparable Virgin! a love of recol 
lection, in order to imitate, as much as 
possible, that interior and hidden life 
which you led upon earth, and that con 
tinual union which you had with your 
Divine Son. 

You were like Him continually pene 
trated with the view of the Eternal 
Father ; you constantly adored and 
loved Him ; your heart, while you 
abode on earth, was an interior heaven 
in which He took His delight. 

Ask for me once more, and for all 
who may read this little book, the love 



Presence of God. 67 

and fidelity necessary to enter on and 
persevere in this holy practice, in order 
that becoming your faithful imitators 
and true children on earth we may par 
ticipate in your glory in heaven. 
Amen. 

CHAPTER III. 

A refutation of the false objections made to this 
holy exercise. 

The first objection which we shall 
notice of those alleged against the pres 
ence of God is, that this practice is not 
for every one. To this we reply, that 
it is true some have more facility than 
others in keeping themselves in the 
Divine Presence ; yet we would be 
strangely deluded in giving it up for 
such a pretext. Being sent into the 
world for no other end than to know, 
love and serve God, how can we acquit 
ourselves of these duties without fre 
quently thinking of Him, and how can 
we think of Him without remembering 



68 Presence of God. 

His presence? Why do the greater 
portion of mankind live in as profound 
a forgetfulness of God, as if they had 
no knowledge of His absolute dominion 
over them, the obligations they lie under 
to Him, and that He is present in all 
places, but because they do not take the 
trouble of reflecting on it attentively. 

And, then, God is present to all with 
out exception ; therefore no one is ex 
empt from the obligation of attending 
to Him and paying Him that tribute of 
respect and love which His majesty de 
serves and demands. 

Second objection: TJiis exercise is 
too troublesome and too difficult. A 
Christian ought to blush and be 
ashamed at making this objection. Is 
it, then, difficult to remember a God 
whom we find everywhere, who is in 
cessantly doing us good, who holds in 
our regard the place of father, mother, 
brother, friend and spouse? What 
child would presume to say he could 



Presence of God. 69 

not remember his father while he abode 
in his house, and need only raise his 
eyes to behold him? Should he not, on 
the contrary, say that he could not for 
get him? To be sure, it may be diffi 
cult to think without intermission of 
God, and to preserve continually His 
holy presence. We are ready to admit 
that this is a favor He does not grant 
to all ; but to remember Him as often 
as possible, obdurate sinners alone can 
refuse to do, they having some partici 
pation already in the state of the 
damned in hell, who cannot bear the 
presence of an irritated God, from 
whom they can expect no mercy. But 
to sinners who wish to be converted, 
there is no object that can more power 
fully lead them to the way of salvation 
than a God present. With much more 
reason may we say the just can have no 
more powerful stimulus to advance in 
grace and virtue. 

Third objection : It is sloth and lazi- 



70 Presence of God. 

ness which engage persons in practices 
of this sort. Nothing so false, nothing 
more unfounded than this objection, 
though sometimes put forward by per 
sons making professions of virtue, but 
who have never properly understood 
what recollection is, and who believe 
they do nothing when they cease to act 
externally. In opposition to them we 
may say, with a holy servant of God, 
Divine idleness! little known by men 
who always wish to make a noise. 
Happy void! which makes us see our 
nothingness. Marvelous art! to die 
always to one s self, in order to live to 
Jesus Christ. Eloquent silence ! where 
the soul speaks incessantly by the hom 
age it renders to the Divinity. Charm 
ing empire over the passions! where 
the senses no longer occupy us. Tran 
quil desert! where we deprive our 
selves of all to find all, and where we 
are never less alone than when we are 
by ourselves. 



Presence of God. 71 

In effect, how can any one say that 
to adore God interiorly, annihilate one s 
self before His majesty, to abandon 
one s self to His holy will, to evince the 
desire of pleasing and loving Him more 
and more, can be idleness and loss of 
time? And yet it is in this the exercise 
of the divine presence consists. If there 
be any who, under pretense of practic 
ing it, dispense themselves from the du 
ties- or their state, the fault lies with 
them, and not with this exercise, which 
by no means authorizes or inspires any 
deviation from duty; and, after all, 
these persons, though apparently recol 
lected without, may be, and generally 
are, all dissipation within. 

Nor does this exercise hinder ; on the 
contrary, it helps us to make our 
prayer well attention to the adorable 
Object whom we then address being 
one of the best dispositions we can 
bring to it. Those who are not accus 
tomed to remember the presence of 



72 Presence of God. 

God can have no recollection at prayer ; 
and if, with much struggle, they en 
deavor to preserve themselves from 
yielding to willful distractions, they will 
not be able to preserve the advantages 
of it without attending to this holy ex 
ercise. It should, then, precede, ac 
company and follow our prayer. 

Fourth objection: The practice of the 
divine presence inspires vanity and 
presumption. It is very easy to prove 
the sophistry of this argument. It is 
true, persons may be vain of this exer 
cise ; but can they not also draw mo 
tives of vanity from the holy commu 
nion, yet who will venture to say that 
it is communion which generates this 
vicious sentiment? And, then, it is by 
no means true that this exercise leads 
to self-esteem ; on the contrary, it in 
spires humility, nothing being more 
efficacious for that end than the sight of 
the divine perfections and our compara 
tive nothingness and misery. If any 



Presence of God. 73 

thing were to be feared, it is that the 
soul might fall into discouragement, 
seeing its own innate corruption and 
the essential holiness and sanctity of 
the divine majesty. 

Besides, & soul who practices this 
exercise becomes so holy that she can 
not fall into the least sin without at once 
perceiving and being interiorly reproved 
for it without being immediately 
pressed to repair it by humbling herself 
before the divine majesty, just as a per 
son blushes for, and regrets a little word 
he has inadvertently said against another 
whom he respects, when he thinks it 
will be related to him. 

To show still more clearly how un 
founded this objection is, we should 
remember that humility is a virtue more 
than human, and one which Jesus 
Christ alone may be strictly said to 
have practiced glory and honor being 
essentially the Creator s due, abjection 
the portion of the creature, however 



74 Presence of God. 

holy, in consequence of its intrinsic 
nothingness. It follows, that this virtue 
can only be learned by frequenting His 
school and uniting ourselves to Him, 
and thus acquiring His spirit and love 
which is formally opposed to the irreg 
ular love of ourselves, the source of our 
pride, as well as of our other irregular 
ities. This can not be without keeping 
ourselves in His presence; and hence, 
instead of inspiring vanity and pre 
sumption, this holy practice leads to 
true humility. 

Fifth objection: Too much business 
and many embarrassments, instead of 
being a reason against, is, on the con 
trary, a powerful one to devote one s 
self to the exercise of the divine pres 
ence. Having much to do, you want 
more grace and strength than those who 
have little ; and then you should not 
abandon the care of your salvation, 
which is, after all, "the one thing nec 
essary," above any other care, however 



Presence of God. 75 

important. If your occupations be in 
the order of God, and of such a nature 
as not to allow you to think as often of 
Him as others who have more leisure, 
He will be satisfied with your good 
will, for He is so good that He is will 
ing to make allowances for our busi 
ness, and accommodates Himself to the 
duties which engage us. Provided, we 
turn our minds and hearts from time to 
time to Him, He is always ready to re 
ceive us, and takes a singular pleasure 
in beholding us leave the creature in 
spirit, though we do not forsake them 
exteriorly. 

God has some true adorers in the 
world as well as in the cloister, and it 
depends on ourselves to be of the num 
ber. And though we may not succeed 
in this point in our state for several 
years, as others do in a much shorter 
time, it matters nothing, provided it be 
not our own fault. Our merits will be 
not less abundant, since the violence we 



76 Presence of God. 

do ourselves will be the measure of our 
recompense. 

The opposition arising from our oc 
cupations is no pretext for dispensing 
ourselves from this exercise. And, 
after all, is not the great God whom we 
adore, the author and approver of these 
occupations? And if so, why should 
they exclude His remembrance? Is it 
not in difficulties and distractions that 
we have a greater want of His light and 
assistance, as being then in more danger 
of offending Him ? 

Such are our answers to the objec 
tions raised by some to authorize their 
sloth, their self-love and pusillanimity in 
the practice of this exercise. If they be 
not satisfactory, if all we have said of 
its advantages be still insufficient to in 
duce them to it, let them at least desire 
this happiness ; let them humbly ask it 
of God, bewailing often before Him the 
dissipation in which they live, and ac 
knowledging that it arises solely from 



Presence of God. 77 

their own negligence, and let them 
raise their hearts to him as often as 
possible. By this means God, blessing 
their desires, will, finally, overcome by 
His grace and mercy the obduracy of 
their hearts, and will bind them so by 
the chains of His love, that they will 
ultimately find their greatest joy and 
delight in thinking of and reposing in 
Him alone. 



PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH. 

O great saint ! nursing father to Jesus 
Christ, admirable model and patron of 
the interior and hidden life to which I 
aspire, and which is the particular char 
acter of your sanctity, obtain for me of 
my divine Saviour the strength and 
vigilance necessary to establish n^self 
solidly therein, that in imitating your 
fidelity in living unknown to the world, 
and being strictly united with Christ, 
I may reign eternally with you in 
heaven. Amen. 



78 Presence of God. 

CHAPTER IV. 

Means of acquiring the habit of preserving one s 
self in the presence of God. 

The first means of acquiring a facility 
in preserving one s self in the divine 
presence is, a firm resolution to give 
one s self entirely to God, and to pro 
test to Him often that we wish to be 
long to him without reserve. St. Fran 
cis de Sales, the great master of the 
Devout Life, required this of those 
whom he directed: "You do not for 
get your good purpose," he used to say 
to them, "Continue firm; we belong to 
God, and He is ours ; our Lord is our 
true and faithful friend, and what more 
do we look for?" And truly did this 
great saint speak thus, for whatever 
privation of life or consolation we en 
dure, if our Lord remains with us, we 
shall suffer nothing, since He is the 
author of grace and good, and one who 
will never forsake us, unless we compel 
Him by abandoning Him. 



Presence of God. 79 

The second means is, to try to per 
form our actions in the divine pres 
ence. But this should be with sweet 
ness and humility, in order to avoid a 
certain eagerness which spoils all, ac 
cording to St. Francis, by casting us 
into trouble, nourishing confidence in 
ourselves, and producing so many de 
sires that they stifle one another and re 
main unproductive. Besides, a person 
who would wish to acquire at once this 
holy habit, and who would do violence 
to his imagination, would become an 
annoyance to himself and to others. 
We should, then, content ourselves with 
humbly persevering in desiring and 
adopting the means conducive thereto, 
and leave the success entirely to God, 
who will be perfectly satisfied with our 
good will. 

The third means is, on falling into 
sin and imperfection, to present one s 
self before God to ask mercy and for 
giveness, and not imitate those whom 



80 Presence of God. 

self-love renders miserable on falling 
into a defect, until they can recur to 
their confessors, and who are not after 
having done so one whit better. Our 
faults themselves should not remove us 
from the presence of God by chagrin 
or inquietude ; they should rather con 
tribute to unite us more closely to Him, 
by prompting us to cast ourselves into 
His arms, and cling to Him more 
firmly, like a little child who, after 
making a false step, attaches himself 
more earnestly to the bosom of his 
father. 

The fourth means, and one which 
very much facilitates this exercise is, 
after the example of the saints, to enter 
into and seek God simply within our 
selves. St. Augustine says in his Man 
ual: "Fly, then, O man, for a little 
time, thy vain occupations, and re 
nounce the importunate wanderings of 
thy mind ; disengage thyself from thy 
solicitudes, and at thy leisure think of 



Presence of God. 81 

and take thy repose in God. Enter 
into the cabinet of thy heart, and expell 
ing all but thy Creator, and that which 
can help thee to find Him, close the 
door and say to Him, with all thy soul, 
My heart hath said to thee, my face 
hath sought thee; thy face, O Lord, 
will I still seek. Teach, then, my 
poor heart, O my amiable Master, how 
I can find you. Tell me if you are not 
within it, whither shall I go to seek you. 
St. Theresa, in her work entitled, 
"The Way of Perfection," regarding 
her soul as an interior heaven, in which 
Jesus Christ takes His delight and 
makes Himself known and loved, says : 
"Let those who are able to shut them 
selves up in the little heaven of their 
souls, where He resides who has made 
it, and created the world, believe that 
they are in an excellent way, and will ul 
timately drink at the fountain of life, for 
they get over much ground in a short 
time." 



82 Presence of God. 

St. Catherine, of Sienna, considered 
her heart as an oratory in which God 
dwelt: she remained there with Him 
amid the embarrassment and dissipat 
ing business with which her parents 
overwhelmed her, to prevent her attend 
ing to spiritual exercises, and thereby 
changed her particular devotions into a 
continual prayer. 

To facilitate this recollection, a per 
son may still make use of the following 
ideas : to hold himself in silence before 
the divine majesty, immolating himself 
to this God present in us, either as a 
spouse lovingly regarding Jesus Christ, 
or as a statue placed in a niche merely 
to please its owner, or as a penitent 
Magdalen at the foot of the cross, or a 
Mary listening at the feet of Jesus to 
His divine lessons. 

What, asks St. Francis de Sales, did 
St. Mary Magdalen at the feet of her 
Master? She listened to His divine 
work in profound tranquility ; she 



Presence of God. 83 

spoke not, wept not, prayed not, sighed 
not, acted not. What, then, did she 
do? She received the words of Jesus, 
she collected from his lips the myrrh of 
sweetness, which distilled from them 
drop by drop ; and this Divine Spouse, 
pleased with the amorous repose of His 
beloved, reproved Martha who wished 
to awake her, saying, in her defense, 
that "she had chosen the better part, 
and that it should not be taken from 
her." 

It may often happen that, however 
desirous we may be to remain in the 
presence of God, we shall be wearied 
with distraction, and even sometimes 
annoyed with disgusts ; but this can not 
injure our design to remain there only 
to please Him, and sacrifice ourselves 
to Him, and not to gratify our self-love, 
which wishes to feel satisfaction in 
works of piety, as well as in other things 
unconnected with it. 

The fifth means of preserving the 



84 Presence of God. 

divine presence is, to call it to mind in 
the morning on awakening; in open 
ing the eyes of the body to open those 
of the mind, to behold God present 
with us and adore him interiorly, and 
to preserve this view until we com 
mence our prayer, making use of the 
following or similar words to arrest the 
vivacity of our minds: "My eyes are 
opened, O Lord, only to contemplate 
your adorable face. How good you are 
to those who seek you. I value one 
glance of yours more than all the goods 
and honors of the earth. Woe is me 
that my sojourning is prolonged: I 
shall be satisfied only when thy glory 
shall appear." 

The sixth means is, never to com 
mence a prayer without placing one s 
self in the presence of God, and ador 
ing Him interiorly with profound 
respect, saying, with Jacob: "The 
Lord is here ; how awful is this place ;" 
or, with Abraham, "I will, who am 



Presence of God. 85 

but dust and ashes, speak to my Lord ;" 
or, with Samuel, * Speak, Lord, for 
thy servant heareth;" or, with David, 
"Lord, I am as a beast before you ;" 
or, with the Publican, "Lord, be raer- 
ciful to me a sinner." If this were 
attended to, persons would not speak to 
God, either in private or public, with 
that ridiculous precipitation, which be 
ing remarked by heretics particularly 
in boys who undertake to serve Mass 
is made by them a subject of- raillery 
and derision. 

How opposite to such conduct was 
that of a holy religious man whom St. 
John Climacus speaks of. "Observing 
one day," writes this saint, "that one 
of the monks was more attentive than 
the rest in chanting the office, and that 
he seemed, particularly on commenc 
ing the hymns, by the change of his 
countenance, as if speaking to some 
one ; I asked him the cause." To which 
he replied, "At the commencement of 



86 Presence of God. 

the office, Father, I am accustomed to 
call my heart, and mind, and thoughts 
before me, and say to them earnestly, 
Come, let us adore and fall down be 
fore the Lord who made us, because 
He is the Lord our God, we are His 
people, and the sheep of his pasture. " 
(Ps. xciv. 6, 7.) 

St. Chrysostom says, When you go 
to prayer, imagine that you enter the 
celestial court where the King of Glory 
is seated on a throne glittering with 
stars, and encompassed with myriads of 
angels who all have their eyes fixed on 
you ; for, as St. Paul says, we are made 
a spectacle to the world, and to angels, 
and to men. (I Cor. iv. 9.) 

St. Bernard gives us this important 
advice, which he supported by his own 
advice. When you enter the church, or 
go to prayer, say in yourself, stay out 
side, ye vain thoughts and irregular 
affections, and thou, my soul, enter into 



Presence of God. 87 

the joy of thy Lord that thou mayest 
know and accomplish His will. 

The seventh means of preserving the 
presence of God is, to represent to 
one s self that our Lord prays with 
us, and to endeavor to pray with Him 
and by Him. This can be easily done, 
particularly when reciting the Pater 
Noster, our Lord himself having pro 
nounced this prayer with us in the per 
son of His disciples. This was St. 
Theresa s custom, and experiencing its 
utility, she recommends it to all. 

The eighth means is, frequently dur 
ing the day to make some pious aspira 
tion, either to preserve or regain the 
presence of God. 

St. Bonaventure thus speaks of this 
holy practice : "The acts by which we 
should raise our hearts to God in the 
holy exercise of His presence are, cer 
tain inflamed desires of our hearts, 
ardent and loving sighs by which we 
invoke God, tender and pious move- 



88 Presence of God. 

meats of the will by which, as with 
spiritual wings, we fly to and reach 
God ; and (continues this saint) just 
as we breathe, quite indeliberately, 
thus sometimes, almost imperceptibly, 
the soul forms these acts which unite 
it to God and bind it more strictly to 
Him." 

The ninth means is, when lying down 
at night to endeavor to withdraw the 
heart and thought from creatures, 
and make them repose in God, saying, 
with the royal prophet, "In peace, in 
the self-same, I will sleep and will 
rest." (Ps. iv. 9); or, Lord, into thy 
hands I commend my spirit. My God, 
protect me under the shadow of thy 
wings ; may my flesh, O Lord, so sleep 
in thee that my mind may ever watch 
to thee. 

The tenth means is, often to read 
authors who treat of the presence of 
God, and of the interior life, as St. 
Theresa, St. Francis de Sales, De Ber- 



Presence of God. 89 

niere s Interior Christian, and many 
others, who have spoken of it with 
great attention and after much experi 
ence. 

All these means will wonderfully 
assist us in recollecting our minds in 
God, and making them turn to Him 
when they have strayed. And they are 
necessary, for though we may easily 
form the resolution of keeping our 
selves in the divine presence, and 
though at first sight it appears easy, yet 
our great habit of allowing ourselves to 
be carried away by the first object that 
presents itself, our natural love of lib 
erty and the gratification of the senses, 
form great obstacles to this holy prac 
tice, and compel us to say, with the 
apostle, "I feel in my body another law 
contradicting the law of my mind." 
(Rom. vii. 23.) We should, then, 
strive to gain insensibly what we can 
not attain all at once, expecting more 
from the fidelity we evince in adopting 



90 Presence of God. 

these little means than from great reso 
lutions; confidently hoping that God 
will enable us to preserve His presence 
after we shall have sought it with per 
severance. Then what at first gave us 
much pain by the restraint it required, 
will be the subject of our joy and con 
solation. 

But, as according to St. Theresa, it 
is necessary to employ continually a 
holy modesty, to recall our minds from 
their wanderings, and to re-establish 
them in sweet intercourse with our 
God, it remains for us to speak of cer 
tain little daily practices which succeed 
with many. For example, to recite 
some short prayer with a great deal of 
recollection and fervor when the clock 
strikes. If a person be in the country, 
or where there is no clock, he could 
stick a pin in his sleeve, or place some 
other mark before him, to remind him 
of God s holy presence. The sight of 
an image or picture, or church, can also 



Presence of God. 91 

serve to raise the mind to God ; and 
here let us observe that on passing the 
latter no Christian should omit saluting 
our Lord Jesus, who is really present 
there in the most holy sacrament. The 
verdure of the fields, the brightness of 
the sun, the lustre of the stars, should also 
remind one of Him that created them. 
When a person finds himself in a nu 
merous assembly, he could salute the 
angel guardian of those present, and 
unite with them in rendering to God 
His homage and adoration; on awak 
ing in the night it would be well to 
remember Him "who dwells in light 
inaccessible," and unite with so many 
religious persons who are then em 
ployed in singing His praises, or with 
the angels who are adoring Him in 
heaven, or with our Lord in the holy 
sacrament, who by His condition of vic 
tim continually renders to His Father 
that honor which is worthy of Him. 
Another useful practice, and one 



92 Presence of God. 

adopted in some religious communities, 
and even in some families, is to kneel 
at every hour to adore the most sacred 
Trinity every where present. The 
Chartreuse Fathers, a religious order 
founded by St. Bruno, on receiving a 
visit, commence the conversation by 
prayer; such was, also, the practice of 
the primitive Christians. Woe to us 
who have so much degenerated from 
their spirit and fervor. 

Some may think these little practices 
too great a restraint, but it is so great 
an honor for such as we are to be 
allowed to regard and entertain our 
God, and there is nothing we ought not 
to do to render ourselves worthy of it. 
We should withdraw our minds from 
creature whose presence deprives us of 
that of our Creator; renounce those 
attachments which engage our hearts 
and hinder them from ascending freely 
to God, and resolve to bear with pa 
tience the importunity arising from dis- 



Presence of God. 93 

tractions, and the annoyance proceed 
ing from the privation of sensible con 
solation, to which we may be subjected, 
as it often happens that in time the di 
vine presence ceases to be so percepti 
ble as at first. But faith should suffice 
us ; and then, if we consider the assi 
duity with which courtiers labor to ob 
tain a favorable look or gracious word 
from their sovereign, we shall find that 
our pains in preserving the presence of 
God are nothing in comparison. 

We shall now see the obstacles which 
generally hinder us from profiting by 
this exercise, after having first implored 
the intercession of a great patroness of 
the interior life. 

PRAYER TO ST. THERESA. 

O great saint, who hast had so much 
zeal for our progress in the science of 
prayer, and who has left us thereon such 
excellent advice, in my sincere desire to 
advance in it, and that holy exercise 



94 Presence of God. 

which mainly contributes to it, I turn 
to thee and beseech thee to obtain for 
me by thy prayers the light and grace I 
stand in need of to persevere in practic 
ing it. Beg of that Divine Master who 
has so abundantly filled thee with the 
spirit of this holy exercise, and who has, 
through thy writings, manifested its 
necessity and advantages to the world, 
that all who read this little work may 
devote themselves to its practice with 
such fidelity and love as to become His 
adorers in spirit and truth, and thereby 
be participators in thy happiness. Amen. 



CHAPTER V. 

Obstacles to the practice of the Divine Presence. 

After having spoken of the means of 
advancing in the holy exercise of the 
presence of God, it is now time to treat 
of its principal impediments, which 
are pride, self-love, attachment to crea 
tures, immortification of the mind, 



Presence of God. 95 

heart and senses, fondness for talking, 
curiosity, and involving ourselves in 
useless or unnecessary business. But 
let us speak of them in detail : 

1st. Pride, the first impediment, be 
ing a revolt of the creature against the 
Creator, and a rapine which we commit 
on what belongs solely to God, removes 
us from His light, and produces in our 
souls that strange blindness which hin 
ders us, though we have eyes, from see 
ing, greatly obscures our understand 
ing, and prevents God from manifesting 
Himself to us. 

2d. The irregular love of ourselves 
renders us the slaves of our passions and 
petty interests, and is not only the 
source of all our vices, because it in 
spires us to gratify self at the expense of 
the obedience we owe to God, but be 
cause it also leads us to banish Him 
from our minds and hearts, in order to 
follow with less restraint the inclination 
of corrupt nature. It is, besides, di- 



96 Presence of God. 

rectly opposed to true charity, which 
tends to strip us of ourselves, in order 
to dispose us for an intimate union with 
God. 

3d. Attachments to creatures is one of 
the greatest impediments ; for, binding 
us to and retaining us among sensible 
objects, it absolutely hinders us from 
raising our minds to invisible things, 
and thereby hinders our flight toward 
God. 

4th. Immortification of the mind, 
and heart, and senses, enslaves us to 
our irregular appetites, hinders us from 
reigning over ourselves, and from labor 
ing as we should without relaxation "to 
subject the flesh to the spirit, and the 
spirit to God." Indeed, it is impossible 
that he who does himself no violence to 
overcome his passions can be master of 
himself, and be able to assure himself 
that he can arrest at pleasure the torrent 
of his perverse inclination, in order to 
fix his thoughts and affections on God. 



Presence of God. 97 

5th. Fondness for talking without 
necessity so engages the powers of the 
soul that it can no longer preserve atten 
tion to God. As we cannot speak with 
out occupying our memory and imag 
ination with the species or images of 
what we have seen or heard, in order to 
enable our understanding to reason 
upon them, it follows that all the 
powers of the soul are thus engaged by 
the tongue, and on terrestrial things 
only ; the same happens to it as to a 
vessel of water which ceases to be clear 
and transparent as soon as one stirs up 
the sediment which lies at the bottom. 
Silence has always been the mark of an 
interior soul ; and as much as this vir 
tue helps to preserve purity of mind 
and calm of heart, so much does the 
contrary vice produce darkness and 
trouble in both. 

6th. Curiosity, or a desire to know 
what does not concern us and to pry 
into the actions of others, turns us 
7 



98 Presence of God. 

from the attention we ought to give to 
ourselves and our own defects, enter 
tains lightness of mind, and favors self- 
love by exposing us to a vain compla 
cency for ourselves and a criminal con 
tempt for our neighbor. Moreover, 
directing us to every thing but God, it 
deprives us of the means of uniting our 
selves to Him, and of having with Him 
that divine intercourse which is to 
those who enjoy it a source of the purest 
delights. 

7th. In fine, useless and unnecessary 
occupation, leading us to diffuse our 
selves on creatures, retaining us in dis 
sipation, and robbing us of that time 
which should be employed in our du 
ties, causes in our souls disorder and 
confusion, and destroys that peace and 
tranquil ity so necessary for conversing 
with God and preserving His holy 
presence. 



Presence of God. 99 



PART III. 



CHAPTER I. 

Method and practice of conversing with God. 

Conversation with those about us is 
one of the duties most ordinary and 
indispensable in human life. It is, 
however, subject to two inconveniences : 
the first, that those with whom we 
treat often disagree with us in humor 
or opinion ; the other, that when inter 
course with them pleases us most, it is 
dangerous or criminal. 

Conversation with God is exempt 
from these dangers : there is not to be 
found in it either sin or weariness, in 
nocence and joy being its usual ac 
companiments. If you wish to know 
it by your own experience, do with re 
gard to it what the Holy Ghost in the 
sacred Scriptures teaches you. 

1. God loves you ; do you love Him?..,. 



100 Presence of God. 

His delight is to be with you, let yours 
consist in being with Him, thus pass 
ing your time as you hope to pass your 
eternity, in His amiable company. 

Accustom 3 ourself to speak to Him 
confidently as to your friend, never sup 
posing that you should appear before 
Him as a hireling or a slave, who only 
thinks of flying from his master s pres 
ence to seek elsewhere his consolation 
and comfort. 

Why has God created us to His own 
image and likeness, and authorized us 
to call Him Father, if He be not will 
ing that we act toward Him as chil 
dren? Why has He given us His own 
Son to be our mediator and the price 
of our ransom, but in order that we 
may become one with Him? Why, in 
fine, has this blessed Son given us His 
own flesh and blood in the holy sacra 
ment of the altar, and promised to 
abide with us if we would remain in 
Him, but in order to banish from our 



Presence of God. 101 

hearts slavish and servile fear, and to 
induce us to serve Him with love and 
confidence ? 

2. God, who is the most powerful 
and formidable of masters when He 
commands, wishes to be the most fa 
miliar of friends when He loves. In 
His private conversations with those 
souls who seek to please Him, His im 
mensity proportions itself to the least as 
well as to the noblest and most exalted. 
Be not withheld, then, from communi 
cating to Him your projects, your busi 
ness, your fears, your hopes, and all 
that regards you, and this simply and 
confidentially, without quitting what 
you are employed in, just as you would 
to a tried friend when in his company. 
No doubt, God should be always 
treated with reverence and respect ; but 
in the circumstances we are consider 
ing, that is, when He reminds us of, or 
makes His presence sensible by some 
interior movement, the best return and 



102 Presence of God. 

the greatest tribute of respect we can 
pay Him is to speak to Him with all 
that confidence and affection which His 
own condescension inspires. To act 
otherwise would betray that false hu 
mility which St. Theresa condemns. 

3. The prophet tells us that the Lord 
hears the desires of the poor, and that 
His ears hear the preparation of their 
hearts. (Ps. x. 17.) 

Yes, without waiting till you go to 
Him, as soon as you sigh for His pres 
ence, this Divine Being presents Him 
self to you, bearing in His sacred hands 
graces and remedies proper for the 
miseries under which you labor. And 
here let us remark, that though present 
everywhere by His immensity, yet 
there are two places in which He par 
ticularly resides ; the one is the empyr 
eal heaven, where He communicates 
His glory to the angels and saints ; the 
other the hearts of the just, in which He 
is present by His grace and the opera- 



Presence of God. 103 

tions of His spirit, thus making of their 
solitudes a new terrestrial Paradise. 
Nor can we be astonished if God pre 
fers for his habitation a soul in grace to 
all other places, since, after the angels, 
it is the masterpiece of His omnipo 
tence, the purest and noblest emanation 
of His divinity, to which it is conse 
quently less disproportioned. This was 
what made St. Bernard exclaim, "O 
Christian soul, see and acknowledge thy 
dignity!" and which made holy Job 
regret those happy years when God 
was in the secret part of his tabernacle 
and the Most High was with Him. 
(Job xxix. 4.) 

And this happy society knows no in 
terruption, God being of all friends the 
most faithful and inseparable. Others 
have their hours for separating ; He 
never quits you. When the sun goes 
down He does not withdraw, says the 
wise man, but stands by your pillow to 
entertain you in the silence of night 



104 Presence of God. 

with His inspirations, and to enable 
you to take a holy repose amid the 
celestial sweets of this interior conver 
sation. He is present there in the morn 
ing, expecting to hear from you a word 
of confidence, and to be made the de 
positary of your first thoughts and de 
signs. 

Such being His care, fail not to ac 
knowledge it. The moment you awake 
turn your mind and heart toward Him, 
saying with a holy prophet, "Lord, 
my soul hath desired thee in the night 
(Isaiah xxvi. 9) ; or you can not doubt, 
Lord, that I am yours without reserve, 
seeing that the first movement of my 
heart on awakening is one of joy and 
gratitude that you still love me, and have 
not forsaken me as my infidelities de 
serve." 

4. You should be convinced that 
God regards as unknown to Him such 
matters as are not communicated to 
Him wjtb confidence, or referred to 



Presence of God. 



105 



Him by love. As there are tears shed 
before Him by hypocritical penitents 
which He does not see, and persons, 
obdurate sinners, whom He declares 
He knows not" (Matt. xxv. 12), 
so there are affairs of which we may in 
some manner say He is ignorant, as not 
being communicated to Him. Tell 
Him, then, all that regards your family, 
your joys and your sorrows ; the virtues 
you want to acquire and the vices you 
wish to correct; in fine, tell Him all 
your wants, and those of your neighbor 
with which you may have become 
acquainted. It is true He knows these 
things already by His omniscience, from 
which nothing is hidden, but He wishes 



to Tsnow them from 



you, 



in order to 



regard them as affairs in which His 
love for you is particularly interested. If 
you do not consult Him on matters in 
which you are in doubt, you are likely 
to fall into the same difficulty with the 
Israelites who lost a great battle, 



106 Presence of God. 

because as the Scripture says, they had 
not interrogated the mouth of the Lord. 
(Joshua ix. 14.) 

5. And do not say that God would 
deem it unworthy of Him to attend to 
the detail of what passes in a family, or 
in the soul of a poor creature. It is 
true, as St. Chrysostom says, that the 
employment of the Most High on His 
throne is to think of the designs of His 
wisdom and sanctity; but with you, 
His only care is to think of you ; His 
providence and love are only applied to 
your particular interests, and in those 
places where you are alone with Him 
He seems to be God but for you alone 
to be omnipotent only to assist you, 
and infinitely amiable only to be loved 
by you. When, then, any strange 
accident has befallen you, observe not a 
gloomy silence in His regard, but come 
and make your complaints to Him with 
humility and respect ; and if your confi 
dence be great, this suffices to obtain a 



Presence of God. 107 

deliverance from, or support under, 
your miseries. He is delighted on such 
occasions to hear you say: u See, O 
Lord, because I am troubled and full of 
bitterness (Thren. i. 20), all my de 
sires are before thee, and my groaning 
is not hidden from thee." (Ps. xxxvii. 
10.) 

This Lord is pleased in seeing you 
cast yourself into His arms, and com 
plain of the insufficiency or ingratitude 
of creatures, as holy Job did when he 
said, "My friends are full of words, my 
eye poureth out tears to God." (Job 
xvi. 21.) 

6. Another mark of confidence very 
pleasing to the Almighty, is to confess 
your faults to Him on their commission. 
When you have fallen, defer not till 
you approach the tribunal of penance to 
declare to this amiable confident the 
misfortune which has happened you. 
Say to Him with David, "I have sinned, 
Lord, very much in what I have done 



108 Presence of God. 

I have done exceedingly foolish." (II 
Kings xxiv. 10.) My God, I have just 
said an indiscreet word or done an 
action unworthy of my high destiny. I 
know not how I was so deluded, but I 
am sincerely sorry, and truly afflicted, 
because you have been thereb} 7 offended. 
However, if I have been less negligent 
and faithful than I should, you are not 
less merciful, but are still what your 
prophet describes you to be, "sweet and 
mild and plenteous in mercy." 

As I know you do not wish me to 
abandon myself to dejection and sadness, 
I can only humble myself for my fault, 
and bewail it in your presence. 

7. As to trivial faults, which occur 
almost every hour, do not disturb your 
self for them ; only beseech God to 
remember that He "alone is holy," and 
that you are by nature a sinner, and 
subject like a child to continual falls, 
which, as they arise from weakness, 
or inadvertence, it becomes His bounty 



Presence of God. 109 

not to remember. Great God, might 
you say, when I fall, be mindful only of 
what you are by love. I acknowledge 
that you have much reason to complain 
of me, who, despite of so many graces, 
commit so many offenses ; but it is my 
part to sigh and bewail them, and yours 
to raise me up, and take me into your 
arms, to dissipate my fears, and calm 
my disquietudes, by assuring me that 
you still love me, and have not ceased 
to be my God. 

However, I should be wrong if I ex 
pected that my sins should not displease 
your infinite sanctity. They displease 
myself, and I entertain for them a 
sincere sorrow ; but to excite your com 
passion, and to appease your wrath, 
consider, I beseech you, the state of 
your beloved Son on Calvary, and 
regard me sprinkled with the blood 
which He so copiously shed, and then I 
am sure you will have mercy on me, 
however great my demerits. 



110 Presence of God. 

8. It is of the highest importance, 
Christian soul, to have recourse to this 
infinitely enlightened and faithful friend 
when embarrassed by some difficulty or 
obscured by some doubt. Say with 
Judith on these occasions, Lord, give 
words to my mouth, and counsel to my 
heart (ix. 18). Tell my soul what it 
should say, or what I should do : which 
of all the advices given and means pro 
posed I should follow in this instance. 
Make known to me your will, and 
incline my heart to follow it. "I shall 
not err when your lamp shines over my 
head, and I walk by your light in dark 
ness." (Job xxix. 3.) 

9. Fear not, on finding yourself 
plunged in some adversity, to make to 
this Lord some tender reproaches. 
Complain to his love that He seems to 
abandon you, and despises your sighs 
and tears, saying with the holy psalmist, 
How long, O Lord, wilt thou depart 
far off from me ; or, with Job, I cry to 



Presence of God. Ill 

thee, and thou hearest me not ; I stand 
up and thou dost not regard me. Thou 
art changed to be cruel toward me, and 
in the hardness of thy heart thou art 
against me. But, ceasing these com 
plaints, return again to sentiments of 
humility and confidence, exclaiming 
with the same, "Thou stretchest not 
forth thy hand, notwithstanding their 
consumption." Whatever you do with 
me, Lord, I know you do not intend to 
destroy me ; it is your goodness which 
makes me suffer for my greater good. 
I submit, then, to your providence, 
which only entertains for me thoughts 
of peace and designs of love. 

10. Do not occupy yourself so much 
with 3 r our own miseries as to become 
insensible to those of your neighbor. 
Tell your Lord what you know of them, 
and endeavor to draw from His sacred 
heart some grace and mercy for the 
relief of the afflicted or the conversion 
of sinners. I can not go any where, my 



112 Presence of God. 

dear Master, might you say, without 
meeting persons in trouble, and my in 
ability to succor them is to me a source 
of affliction. Many pious persons go to 
the rich to collect alms for the sick 
poor; and I address myself to you, O 
God, who art rich in mercy, "who 
openest thy hand, and fillest every living 
thing with benedictions" (in behalf of 
those poor sufferers) ; do not send me 
away without giving me some relief for 
their misery. You have said that what 
ever we do for the least of our brethren 
you will consider as done for yourself ; 
enable me now to do what } T OU com 
mand, and command what you please ; 
give me the succors you wish me to 
bestow on them, and permit me not any 
longer to behold you suffering in their 
persons without being able to console 
you. 

11. It is not so common to forget to 
recur to God in adversity as in pros 
perity, and yet it is strange that when 



Presence of God. 113 

our affairs succeed, when all goes well 
with us, we neglect to speak of them to 
God, and thus lose the sweetest conso 
lation we can enjoy on earth that of 
entertaining ourselves with our amiable 
benefactor. As soon, then, as you re 
ceive any pleasing news, or that any 
thing advantageous happens to you, 
hasten, as fidelity and friendship re 
quire, to acquaint Him with it, adding, 
that what augments your joy is that you 
know your prosperity proceeds from the 
charitable hand of His providence. By 
this means your joy will increase, and 
will be more pure and more lasting. 

Like the Sunamite, the holy spouse 
of whom Solomon sings, declare to your 
Lord the multitude of His benefits, and 
the extent of His liberalities. Say with 
her, "In our gates all hath budded ; the 
new and the old, my beloved, I have 
kept for thee. You, my dear Spouse, 
are the donor of these numberless bene 
fits which contribute to my comfort. I 
8 



114 Presence of God. 

accept them from your hand to share 
them with you in the persons of your 
poor, and to testify to you my gratitude 
and love. If I love your benefits, O 
Lord, it is only for the sake of the bene 
factor; you alone will be always the 
God of my heart, my portion and in 
heritance for ever." (Ps. Ixxii. 26.) 

12. Although the Providence of God 
consoles the Christian in interior pains, 
which are of all others the most difficult 
to be supported, yet they hinder us from 
recurring to Him present in us, by 
retaining us buried as it were in our 
miseries, and giving rise to an infinity 
of desolating reflections. The soul, 
taking what she suffers for the effects 
of the divine wrath, instead of regard 
ing it, with the prophet, as the effect of a 
sanctifying indignation, is thus kept 
back rather than encouraged to recur 
to Him. 

The course to be pursued in these 
painful circumstances is, first, to omit 



Presence of God. 115 

nothing that God commands, whether 
with regard to our essential duties or 
our ordinary exercises of piety; how 
ever difficult and distasteful they appear, 
they will always be done well when 
done for God, and in spite of our own 
natural repugnance. 

Second. To assure one s self that God 
will give at death consolation for all 
that we do without consolation during 
life, and to submit to His will, enter 
into His designs and abandon one s self 
to His providence. 

Third. To hope against hope that 
He will derive glory from our miseries, 
and work our salvation by what seems 
capable of retarding it ; provided we 
resist temptations, particularly those 
arising from discouragement or impa 
tience. 

Fourth. To call to mind the favors 
received from the divine bounty, as well 
as those passages of Scripture calculated 
to excite our confidence thus, God is 



116 Presence of God. 

faithful and will not permit us to be 
tempted above what we are able. (I 
Cor. x. 13.) The Lord is nigh to all 
who are in tribulation, and He will save 
the humble of spirit. (Ps. xxxix. 19.) 
Because thou wast acceptable to God, 
it was necessary that temptation should 
prove thee. (Tob. xii. 13.) The best 
means of honoring God is, to consecrate 
ourselves to His service, and immolate 
ourselves to His glory. It is but just to 
please God in time, that he may be our 
consolation in eternity. 

It must, however, be confessed, that 
however reasonable and solid these sen 
timents are, they make not always a 
consoling impression, such as an afflicted 
soul would desire ; but to sanctify her 
pains it is quite enough to humble her 
self before the Lord, and to submit to 
His good pleasure. When, then, Chris 
tian soul, you experience those disgusts, 
dryness, distractions or discouragements 
too frequent in the spiritual life, and of 



Presence of God. 117 

which you are not able to trace the 
cause, address yourself to God with 
holy Job, saying: Now my soul fadeth 
within myself, and the days of affliction 
possess me. (Job. xxx. 16.) I can not 
tell you, my Lord, how I feel. My 
soul is disgusted with everything ; noth 
ing pleases it, not even yourself. My 
prayers are tepid and distracted ; I can 
not preserve in your presence the atten 
tion I owe you; "my strength faileth 
me, and the light of my eyes itself is 
not with me." (Ps. xxxvii. 11.) I 
know not whence proceeds this ill 
humor, this perverse inclination to trans 
gress your laws. I can not conceive 
how my ancient weakness has returned ; 
passions which I thought overcome, 
strong and vigorous ; habits which I 
thought destroyed, as rooted to all ap 
pearances as ever. All I know is, that 
you have my cure in your own hands, 
and that you have only to speak the 
word and the tempest shall be appeased. 



118 Presence of God. 

Remember, Lord, that I am misery 
itself. To whom shall I go but to thee, 
"who art my strength and my support, 
my refuge in every tribulation?" 

13. Nothing is more common than to 
be shaken by contradictions and un 
pleasant accidents, because they are 
either unexpected or we think them 
unjust and unreasonable. Regard those 
trying circumstances, for which man 
kind have so much disrelish, as precious 
occasions sent expressly by Providence 
to teach you to overcome yourself, and 
to confirm you in patience. Do the 
same with those corrupt infirmities, 
which St. Gregory styles merciful pun 
ishments, the justice of God acting on 
those occasions under the influence of 
His paternal bounty. Submitting to the 
hand which strikes you, will render 
your sufferings less insupportable and 
more meritorious. 

Your resignation, however, need not 
prevent you from applying to him for 



Presence of God. 119 

your cure. You can say without danger 
of offending God, Lord, if you will, 
you can make me clean; say but the 
ward and my disease shall be removed. 
I shall not say, with the poor woman in 
the Gospel, "If I can but touch the 
hem of your garment, I shall be healed," 
but if I am happy enough to receive 
you in the adorable sacrament of your 
love, I shall fear no evils of soul or 
body. I ask health of you, O Lord, to 
employ it in loving and serving you, 
and to procure your glory and the sal 
vation of my neighbor; but if you 
foresee I will not make this use of it, 
burn, cut, chastise this body of sin for 
the expiation of past crimes, and as a 
preventive against future ones. Let 
me suffer as long as you please, provided 
I suffer with patience. 

14. In those troubles which are not 
less contrary than the foregoing to your 
design of ever preserving your soul in 
peace, and of remaining always united 



120 Presence of God. 

to God, so that you can no longer 
remain with Mary at the feet of Jesus, 
but look after an infinity of affairs with 
Martha, do not say you can no longer 
hear His word or enjoy the sweetness 
of His divine conversation. You must 
know, faithful soul, that it would be an 
inexcusable error to believe that the 
occupations of your state, commanded 
as they are by God, should oblige you 
to forget Him ; and, surely, you will 
acknowledge that your labors do not 
preclude your speaking to the persons 
who chance to come in your way, with 
out, at the same time, ceasing or dimin 
ishing your attention. Now could you 
not as easily speak of them to God, 
who is really interested for you, and 
who will listen to all you have to say ? 
Could you not say, when about to com 
mence them, with the Holy Spouse, 
4 Let us get up early to the vineyards: 
let us see if the vineyards nourish, if the 
flowers be ready to bring forth fruit, if 



Presence of God. 121 

the pomegranates flourish?" (Cant. vii. 
12.) It is time to labor and apply to 
business, my beloved ; leave me not to 
myself amidst its embarrassments. I do 
not fear them, provided they do not 
separate me from you, and that while I 
labor, my eyes and my heart may be 
still with you. 

When a person speaks to God whije 
at work, labor is no longer a distraction, 
but a devotion of great merit ; its fatigue, 
too, is thereby considerably lessened. If 
Mary has more consolation than Martha, 
she has not more merit. A person who 
would preserve a spirit of recollection 
in the midst of a crowded market, or in 
the hurry of business, would undoubt 
edly, please God more than one who 
would allow his mind to be dissipated 
while he remained in his oratory. 

15. Those who imagine that to speak 
so freely to God is to trangress against 
the respect due to His Divine Majesty, 
are greatly deceived ; they know little of 



122 Presence of God. 

the greatness of G-od. His immensity 
infinitely surpasses all that we can con 
ceive of it, because at the same time that 
it is more unbounded than the earth, it is 
as limited as the smallest creature, and 
is found as entire in a flower as in the 
empyreal heaven. 

And this should convince us that He 
is the true and only object worthy of 
our love, since we find in Him alone 
the two qualities which more power 
fully claim our affections superiority 
and equality ; that is, a supreme great 
ness which raises Him infinitely above 
us, and an infinite bounty which abases 
Him to us. He is our master, and, at 
the same time, He is, in some manner, 
our equal. Of Him alone it is we can 
say with truth, "My beloved to me, and 
I to Him." (Can. ii. 16.) Though He 
is all, and I am nothing, He has placed 
Himself on a level with me. His 
wisdom has taken upon Him my 
misery, and rendered my. littleness ca- 



Presence of God. 123 

pable of containing His immensity. 

16. You are free, Christian soul, to 
humble and annihilate yourself in the 
temple of this great God, and, above 
all, at the time of sacrifice, when His 
Divine Son is immolated to His glory ; 
but at those periods which we have in 
dicated you are culpable of great ingrat 
itude, if you use not the respectable 
freedom of a spouse who tenderly loves 
her spouse, and who has no other lan 
guage than the language of love. It is 
in these happy moments that He calls 
you His well-beloved, and forbids you 
to call Him Lord or Master. 

Call me, does He say, call me the 
God of your heart, the God of your con 
solation, the Father of mercies, the 
sweetest object of your hopes and de 
sires, the most desirable, the most 
amiable, and the most perfect friend 
your all, in fine, whose heart is but one 
with yours, and whose grace and love 
are the life of your soul. 



124 Presence of God. 

But in these transports of tenderness, 
do not confine yourself to what merely 
relates to yourself ; speak to Him also 
of what concerns Himself, as His felicity, 
His greatness, His works, His attributes ; 
speak of them as the saints have done, 
by sighs and ejaculations, in which they 
displayed all their eloquence. O Lord, 
Our Lord, says David, how wonderful is 
thy name in all the earth. How lovely 
are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! 
O the depth of the riches of the wisdom 
and of the knowledge of God! Thy 
power and thy justice, O God, even to 
the highest, great things thou hast done 
O God, who is like to thee ? (Ps. Ixx. 19. ) 

Omit not, also, to entertain Him with 
the greatest of all miracles the Incar 
nation of the Word, and the redemption 
of the human race by His sufferings and 
death. Repeat to him all that you 
have heard or read of His sacred Pas 
sion, interspersing it with acts of faith 
and love, gratitude and confidence. 



Presence of God. 125 

Tell Him sometimes, with sentiments 
of compunction, that you see not less 
clearly on the cross the extraordinary 
effects of divine justice, than the wicked 
ness of your own criminal life, and the 
many motives you have to humble and 
annihilate yourself. Beg of Him to 
pardon the sins of your past life. Sa} T 
with the Psalmist: "The sins of my 
youth and my ignorances, remember 
not, O Lord ; I am afflicted that my 
heart is incapable of feeling all the 
sorrow they deserve. I wish I had all 
the contrition that has ever been expe 
rienced, that I might bewail them in 
some manner proportioned to their enor 
mity." 

This desire is very pleasing to God, 
as is seen in David, Peter, Magdalen, 
and many others who, in the excess of 
their grief, wished, after bewailing their 
sins for years, for a fountain of tears 
wherein to efface them. Imitate these 
holy penitents. Sometimes exclaim, 



126 Presence of God. 

"Why can not I, my God, intermingle 
torrents of tears with the torrents of 
blood which you shed for me in your 
passion? I am inconsolable when I 
reflect that though in your great mercy 
you have pardoned me my sins, yet 
that it will be always true that there 
was a time in which I was an object of 
indignation in your divine presence. 
My only consolation is, that you have 
promised by your prophet to "cast all 
our sins into the depths of the sea, 
because you delight in mercy." (Mich, 
vii. 19.) 

17. If ever you chance to be troubled 
by the fear of being guilty of some 
secret sin, or that God may have 
determined to rank you with the rep 
robate,, be quite ashamed of this dis 
quietude, considering it a fault more 
displeasing to His goodness and mercy 
than any other of which you may have 
been guilty. In the same manner, if 
you feel discouraged at the considera- 



Presence of God. 127 

tion of your weakness, or if your imag 
ination be disturbed by chimerical fears 
of the power of men or the malice of 
devils, take heed of indulging them; 
think that you are unworthy of the pro 
tection of the Most High, extended 
as it is over you, when you entertain 
such unfounded apprehension. 

Say to God on these occasions, 
Whence, O Lord, arises this anxiety, so 
injurious to your love? It is true, I am 
a vile sinner, but you are the Savior of 
sinners. I hear you say to me in accents 
of love and mercy: Little worm as 
thou art, worthy of being trampled on 
by all, console thyself; fear nothing, 
since I am thy Creator, thy beloved, thy 
faithful friend one who has sworn that 
the world should pass away rather than 
I should suffer thee to perish. 

These, my God, are consoling truths. 
Your prophet, moreover, assures me 
that you bear me in your arms as your 
cherished child, who knows not how to 



128 Presence of God. 

walk, and that even to old age you will 
not abandon me. (Ps. xlvi. 4.) 

I shall not fear, then, with so many 
motives of confidence, and I heartily 
regret my past disquietudes. 

To fortify this confidence, and open 
your heart more fully to peace and con 
solation, often call to mind the particular 
favors you have received from God, and 
the special proofs you have had of His 
goodness toward you. This is one of 
the subjects He is most pleased to hear 
you speak of. Say, then, to Him 
occasionally: It is you, O Lord, who 
hast stretched forth your hand, who 
hast delivered me from death, who hast 
dried up my tears, broken my chains, 
pardoned my ingratitudes, cured my 
maladies, strengthened my weakness, 
" crowned me with glory and honor, 
and make me a little less than the 
angels." "What shall I render to thee, 
O Lord, for all thou hast done for me? 
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all 



Presence of God. 129 

that is within me praise His holy name." 

18. What is the most advantageous in 
this holy conversation with God is, that 
though He seems not to speak to you, 
He has a certain language, which is 
peculiar to Himself, whereby He en 
graves in your soul, in an extraordinary 
manner, those truths which His love 
prompts Him to communicate. Some 
times it is by inspiring almost imper 
ceptibly certain things which console 
you, by shedding lights which illumine 
you, by reflections which discover what 
you should do, and which point out to 
3*ou the best means of succeeding in 
your undertakings. However, it may 
please Him to reply to you, it is certain 
that, provided you address Him with 
that holy freedom and confidence of 
what we have been speaking, He will 
not fail to do so not in words, but in a 
spiritual manner which faithful souls 
will understand, 

19. We have faithful souls, because 



130 Presence of God. 

to understand it requires detachment 
from earthly things and the practice of 
the interior life ; and from this we may 
infer the necessity all Christians are 
under of being interior men. To be 
more fully convinced of it, it is quite 
sufficient to reflect on these words of 
our Lord already quoted: "The hour 
cometh, and now is, when the true 
adorers will adore the Father in spirit 
and in truth. If the true adorers adore 
in spirit, they must be false adorers who 
do not. And, alas! how numerous are 
they not! Some cannot refrain from 
manifesting wrath and indignation if 
spoken to of being interior and spiritual, 
as if they deem it unworthy of them and 
the way of life they profess ; others, as 
if they imagined themselves incapable 
of attaining it, or were willing to think 
so, because they know it will cost them 
very dear : both because they persuade 
themselves that the interior life is not 
essential to salvation, as if the whole 



Presence of God. 131 

tendency of the Gospel was not to form 
it in the hearts of Christians. But to 
do away with the objections of those 
two classes, the interior life has been 
that led by Christ Jesus, our divine 
model, and that of all those who have 
sanctified themselves by His imitation, 
and whose sanctity ever has been es 
teemed in the Church in proportion as 
their lives have been interior. And 
then, so far from this holy practice 
being wearisome and disagreeable, as 
they suppose who know it not by ex 
perience, it has ever been found by 
those who have embraced it to be the 
truest source of peace and consolation. 

The only question now is, in what 
does this life consist, and how all Chris 
tians can and should aspire to it? 

20. By the corporal life, two things 
may be understood its principle, which 
is the union of the body and soul ; and 
the actual exercise of this life, which is 
to see, hear and speak; or, in fine, 



132 Presence of God. 

employ any of the corporal organs. 
The interior life, also, consists in two 
things : the union of the soul with God, 
and the actual exercise of this all-divine 
life, as to contemplate God, to speak to 
God, to listen to God, and to do all that 
is calculated to entertain that happy com 
merce a Christian soul can have with 
God. We do not mean to explain here 
that union with God which is called 
habitual, and which consists in being 
in his grace and friendship, and exempt 
from mortal sin, but the means of enter 
taining and preserving this union, which 
is no other than the practice of the in 
terior life. If we examine why so many 
Christians separate themselves from 
God by mortal sin, after contracting 
with Him an union which should be 
eternal, we shall find it to proceed from 
their negligence in regarding God pres 
ent, and from their want of fidelity in 
listening and speaking to Him. They 
content themselves with thinking of 



Presence of God. 133 

Him for a moment, and lightly, at 
prayer or when they approach the sac 
raments, but this scarcely without any 
interruption of their habit of thinking 
of and occupying themselves incessantly 
with creatures. There is no reason, 
then, to be astonished that they so ill 
observe the promises made to God and 
to His minister in the holy tribunal, nor 
at their abuse of the sacraments. 

But they are not sinners alone who 
fall into this blindness. Many poor 
souls who live exempt from crime make 
no progress in virtue, for want of culti 
vating the interior life. They are like 
those deaf and dumb persons who 
enjoy not the principal advantages of 
existence ; for must not that soul be 
blind, indeed, who knows and firmly 
believes that God is always present with 
her and in her, and yet who passes 
whole days without once beholding 
Him? Must she not be deaf when she 
scarcely knows what it is to hear His 



134 Presence of God. 

voice? Must she not, in fine, be dumb, 
when she is ignorant of the manner of 
conversing with this God? Thus it is, 
that living with this God as though He 
were remote from them, they always 
continue in their imperfections ; are 
always as full of self-love, as weak, as 
unfaithful, as attached to the things of 
earth, after many years of a pretended 
devout life, as if they only commenced 
yesterday. 

And let them not allege, by way of 
excuse, that the interior life is not for 
every one, and that all are not capable 
of it. For, after all, to become interior 
we have only to change the objects on 
which the powers of our soul act that 
is, to substitute God for the creature, to 
accustom ourselves to recollect in Him 
our minds, which are incessantly dissi 
pated on creatures, and to keep our 
hearts closely united to Him by love 
and affection ; to enter into ourselves, 
and keep ourselves retired in the sol- 



Presence of God. 135 

itude of the heart as much as we can, 
and there to speak to, look at, and listen 
to God. 

Our Lord invites us to this practice 
when He says, "Come to me all ye 
who labor and are burdened, and I will 
refresh you." (Matt. xi. 28.) Recol 
lect your wandering thoughts, return 
from your dissipation, relinquish your 
frivolous and vain affections, and I will 
console you ; I will make you taste 
those delights which they enjoy who are 
always with me. He solicits us again- 
to it in these words of the Apocalypse : 
"Behold, I stand at the gate and knock : 
if any man shall hear my voice, and 
open to me the door, I will come unto 
him and sup with him, and he with 
me." (iii. 20.) 

This mysterious supper is that holy 
commerce which God wishes to have 
with us in prayer, which is the true 
good of the soul, and the delicious ban 
quet after which we ought to hunger, 



136 Presence of God. 

ki order to be of the number of those of 
whom our Lord says, "Not in bread 
alone does man live, but in every word 
that proceedeth from the mouth of 
God." (Mat. iv. 4.) But to be nour 
ished by and reap advantage from this 
blessed food, we should be truly humble. 
Our Lord in His prayer the night be 
fore His passion, thanks His eternal 
Father for having concealed His secrets 
from the proud and revealed them to 
the humble and simple, which shows 
us that humility and contempt of self 
are necessary, in order to advance in the 
holy science of prayer and the interior 
life. 

In fine, as a last proof of our obliga 
tion to become interior, if we would be 
true Christians, we should attend to 
these other words of our Lord: "The 
kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 
xvii. 21), for they tell us plainly that it 
is in the heart God wishes to establish 
his throne ? and that it is in the secret of 



Presence of God. 137 

the soul He desires to be loved and 
adored, which certainly can never be 
effected without prayer and recollection. 
These words, too, insinuate the obli 
gation we are under of reigning over 
ourselves, and of subjecting our pas 
sions. But without the spirit of prayer 
and recollection this can not be done, 
the practice of the interior life being the 
only means of enabling us to say with 
the prophet: "I have run in the way of 
your commandments when you have 
dilated my heart." (Ps. cxviii. 32.) A 
man of prayer not only runs, but even 
flies in the path of virtue ; it being im 
possible to apply to this holy exercise, 
even for a short time, without experi 
encing a great facility in all that re 
gards the service of God, and making 
great advances towards Christian perfec 
tion. Once more, it is absolutely nec 
essary for it. As the new man is 
brought forth by the destruction of the 
old through salutary renunciation ; as 



138 Presence of God. 

the first duty of a Christian is to know 
and imitate Jesus Christ ; as the virtues 
proper of a Christian are humility, dis 
engagement, patience, sweetness, mor 
tification and penance, it is certain that 
one can not better do all this, which is 
so contrary to human inclination, than 
by having his heart penetrated by a 
frequent, lively and respectful view of 
the Divine Majesty, together w.ith the 
practice of meditation, which, after con 
vincing us of the necessity of these 
virtues, inspires us with resolution to 
practice them. 

Thus we avoid the misfortune of 
those who appear to do neither great 
good nor great evil : persons who might 
be called good pagans, but bad Chris 
tians ; men who are full of human sense, 
but have little faith and no piety. 

We have often said before in the 
course of this work that the holy exer 
cise of prayer and recollection was the 
way by which God conducted all His 



Presence of God. 139 

servants. St. Paul says of Moses, that 
he bore all adversities as seeing the 
Invisible ; and God himself says, by the 
mouth of the Psalmist, that He will 
give understanding and teach us the 
way by which we should go, having 
his eyes upon us, and engaging us to 
fix ours on Him. (Ps. xxxi. 8.) 

21. Since recollection is so advan 
tageous and so essential to a Christian 
that he can never attain the science of 
prayer without it, it is extremely desir 
able that all persons should employ 
therein some portion of each day. It 
is the true menns of fixing the incon 
stancy and lightness of the human mind, 
which, having contracted the habit of 
incessantly running from one object to 
another, to seek its repose and satisfac 
tion, can not bear the shadow of restraint. 
As a person can not read without having 
first learned to spell, so no one can pre 
serve himself long in the presence of 
God, amidst the cares and embarrass- 



140 Presence of God. 

ments of business, except he has accus 
tomed himself to it by the practice of 
prayer. 

As the only end a person proposes 
to himself in this holy exercise, is to 
occupy himself with God alone on what 
regards his salvation, this alone, if faith 
fully practiced, disposes to recollection 
during the day. 

It is not to those who begin to exercise 
the holy presence of God that prayer is 
necessary those who have long prac 
ticed it require it, too because the 
facility of preserving it diminishes with 
time, and is opposed by the attention 
and care necessary for external occupa 
tions. But some may say that they 
find it as hard to be recollected at 
prayer as at any other time ; and as this 
often arises from not knowing in what 
prayer consists, we shall give an idea 
of it in a few words borrowed from St. 
Theresa, so experienced in this holy 
science: "Prayer, or meditation," says 



Presence of God. 141 

this saint, "is nothing else, in my 
opinion, than the means of engaging 
ourselves to depend absolutely as slaves 
on the will of Him who has testified for 
us so much love ; it is an interior con 
versation of the soul with God, in which 
she testifies her love for Him, and her 
confidence that He reciprocally loves 
her." 

According to this definition, when we 
undertake to meditate we should call to 
mind the presence of Him to whom we 
are going to speak, and endeavor to 
retain our minds and hearts in that holy 
slavery, which St. Paul calls "the true 
liberty of the children of God" our 
minds, by withdrawing them from all 
other occupation, banishing all other 
ideas but those which lead us to God ; 
our hearts, by emptying them of every 
other feeling but that of praising, hon 
oring and serving Him. If we feel dis 
couraged at the difficulty we experience 
in doing this, we should console our- 



142 Presence of God. 

selves by the assurance given us by the 
same saint that the sole effort to pre 
serve ourselves in the Divine Presence 
is in itself a prayer. It is true, nature 
does not find its account in this, and 
hence tempts us to abandon it at once, 
under pretense of remaining idle and 
doing nothing therein ; but if we reflect 
that God invites and solicits us to re 
main with Him, if we consider that it 
is sufficient that He well knows that we 
remain with Him purely for His love, 
though we feel no satisfaction in doing 
so, we would never think of abandon 
ing, but rather faithfully persevere in it. 

22. Here some will reply: All that 
is very good for faithful souls who have 
been a long time serving God, but how 
can I, who have so much offended Him, 
and done nothing for Him, hope that 
He loves me? How can I testify how 
much I love Him, when I feel not a 
sentiment of His love? 

To this we reply, that to separate 



Presence of God. 143 

one s self from the rest of mankind, 
whom "God has so much loved," that, 
as the Apostle says, "He spared not 
even His own Son, but delivered Him 
up for them" (John iii. 16), would be 
in itself a fatal error. And, then, what 
has not this divine Son done to prove 
His love? He has given His life and 
blood, and even gives His sacred flesh 
in the most holy sacrament of the altar 
for this end. 

Such are a few of the general marks 
of His love. Are they insufficient to 
convince you of it? Could you require 
stronger and more authentic? As for 
the particular ones, you can not deny 
that they are beyond number; and, 
surely, you can not, without extreme 
ingratitude, forget them, or cease to say 
with David (after having acknowledged 
with Jeremy, that it is owing to the 
mercy of the Lord that you have not 
been consumed), "the mercies of the 
Lord I will sing for ever." (Ps. Ixxxviii.) 



144 Presence of God. 

These are the sentiments St. Theresa 
says we should entertain on approaching 
God in prayer ; and they may be followed 
by the greatest sinners, provided they 
have a sincere desire to be converted. 

As to the other part of the definition 
of prayer given us by the saint that it 
is nothing else than testifying to God 
how much we love Him it signifies 
that to prove to God how much we love 
Him, by using a holy violence in detach 
ing ourselves from creatures, and being 
occupied by him alone at a stated time 
every day, is prayer, because this is one 
of the things for which we should par 
ticularly pray, and we can acquit our 
selves of it perfectly, though without 
any lively or sensible feeling of love. 
Indeed, it is giving him a stronger 
proof of attachment to remain in prayer 
when we are bereft of consolation, for 
then, as St. Theresa says, a person 
serves God at one s own expense, and 
acquires considerable merit. 



Presence of God. 145 

The third idea of prayer is, that it 
consists of thinking of and understand 
ing what we say, and to whom we say 
it. In this manner, for example : Alas ! 
who am I, who have the boldness to 
converse with so great Majesty? This, 
and similar thoughts, says this enlight 
ened soul, are, properly speaking, mental 
prayer. Do not, then, allow the name 
to terrify you, as if it included or meant 
some incomprehensible mystery. Such 
is not the case. 

This is very consoling for those who 
find meditation or mental prayer diffi 
cult, since it shows that to perform this 
exercise does not require much reason 
ing or studied thoughts, but rather in 
considering the greatness of Him in 
whose presence we are, and our own 
unworthiness. There is nothing easier, 
and, at the same time, more necessary 
for all Christians, for prayer unac 
companied by these considerations, and 



10 



146 Presence of God. 

which consists only in words, can not 
be truly called prayer. 

If this be the case, some one may here 
ask, can not I meditate while reciting 
vocal prayers ? Without doubt you can, 
and you should, since vocal prayer is 
not a true prayer, if unaccompanied 
by application of the mind and heart ; 
if, as St. Theresa says, we do not " think 
of what we say, and to whom we 
speak," and, in fine, if our souls are 
not animated by sentiments of love, 
gratitude, confidence and humility. 

Another manner of mental prayer is, 
to reflect seriously before God on the 
importance of salvation, the different 
means of succeeding in it, and the 
various obstacles which oppose them 
selves to it, whether on the part of the 
world or our own passions. 

And now, after all that has been said 
in this little work, in recommendation 
of the practice of the presence of God, 
of the excellence and utility of mental 



Presence of God. 147 

prayer, of recollection and retirement 
within one s self, by which man can ac 
quire and preserve a life all spiritual, 
all holy, and, in some manner, all divine, 
it were deplorable that persons should 
be found who, obstinately bent on 
adhering to creatures, would remain in 
their dissipation without troubling them 
selves to call to mind often the presence 
of God, or making serious reflections 
from time to time on their duties and 
obligations towards His Divine Majesty, 
and on all that can contribute to aug 
ment their faith, hope and charity. 
Christians of this character, so far from 
making any progress in virtue, would 
be, on the contrary, in great danger of 
finding themselves at death in the broad 
road of perdition, having all their lives 
rejected what was most capable of 
securely conducting them in the narrow 
path which leads to God. 

In conclusion, may the most holy and 
adorable Trinity ever penetrate our 



148 Presence of God. 

hearts with respect for its supreme 
greatness, admiration and love for its 
incomprehensible perfections, and grat 
itude for its innumerable benefits, that 
every moment of our life, being ani 
mated and sanctified by sentiments of 
His fear and love, we may be able to ren 
der Him one day, in union with the holy 
angels, the eternal praise and thanks 
due to His infinite goodness. Amen. 
Amen. 

OX THE USE OF THE CRUCIFIX. 

The Crucifix, or image of Jesus cru 
cified, is not intended to be useless to 
us it is not set before us to look at 
with indifference. It is the image of 
images, there being none more holy, 
none more amiable. 

When alone with God often take up 
this sign of salvation and victory, and, 
regarding it earnestly, prostrate your 
self before it, kiss its wounds, give 
yourself its benediction, entertain your- 



Presence of God. 149 

self with all confidence with this pre 
cious pledge of love, this instrument of 
grace, and you will soon feel what 
wonders can be effected by it. 
. The image of Jesus crucified is the 
foundation of the interior edifice, the 
repeller of distractions, the scourge of 
devils, the antidote against temptations, 
the death of nature, the source of 
prayer, the life of the spirit, the gate of 
contemplation. 

There is not a more powerful means 
of recollecting our senses and recalling 
our minds from their wanderings than 
to lead them to Calvary and enchain 
them to the foot of the cross. There, 
empty of all things, they will become 
full of Jesus crucified, and our souls, 
with all their powers concentrated, as 
it were, and mixed up in His Passion. 

THE END. 



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