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Ctawlor Library 

V ^5^ lanE promenade 







Bishop and Prince of Geneva 



Printers to the Holy Apostolic See and the Sacred ConEregation 
of Rues 


Printed in U. S. A. 


* ♦ ♦ 


Abstract of the Life of the Author ix 

A Dedicatory Prayer xin 

The Author's Preface ... . . . xv 

Part Jirst. 


I. — The description of true devotion 
II. — The propriety and excellency of devotion 
III. — Devotion is compatible with eveiy station of life 
IV.- — Of the necessity of a guide to conduct us in the *ay of 


v. — That we must begin by purifying the soul 
VI. — Of the first purgation, which is that of mortal 
VII. — Of the second purgation, which is that of affect 
VIII. — Of the means to make this second purgation 
IX. — First meditation. — On our creation . 
X. — Second meditation. — On the end for whicl: 


XI. — Third meditation. — On the benefits of God 
XII. — Fourth meditation. — On sin . 

XIII. — Fifth meditation. — On death . 

XIV. — Sixth meditation. — On. judgment 
XV. — Seventh meditation. — On hell . 

XVI. — Eighth jirljrment. — On lieaven 
XVII. — Ninth meditation. — By way of election and 


tVlil. — Tenth meditation. — By way of election and choice which 
the soul makes of a devout life . 

sm . 
ons of sji. 

we weri 

choice of 









Chapter. Paob. 

XIX. --How to make a p^eneral confession .... 48 
XX. — An autlientic protestation, to enfjrave in the soul the 
resolution to serve God and to condude the acts of 

penance 50 

XXI. — Inferences drawn from the foreo'oing' protestation . 63 
XXII. — That we must purify ourselves from atfectioa to venal 

sin 54 

XXIII. — That we ought to purify ourselves from an affection to 

unprofitable amusements .57 

CXIV. — That we must purge ourselves from our evil inclina- 
tions 59 

part Si£C0ntJ, 

t. — Of the necessity of prayer . o .... 61 
n. — A short method for meditation; and, first, of the 
presence of God, which is the first point of prepara- 
tion 65 

ftl. — Of invocation the second point of the preparation . 68 
IV. — Of the third point of preparation, which consists in 
proposing the subject of the mystery on which we 

intend to meditate 69 

V. — Of considerations, which form the second part of the 

meditation 71 

VI. — Of atfections and resolutions, the third part of medita- 
tion 72 

VII. — Of the conclusion and spiritual nosegay ... 73 
vni. — Certain profitable advices on the subject of meditation, 74 
IX. — Of the drjMiess which we sometimes experience in 

meditation 77 

X. — Of the morning exercise 79 

XI. — Of the evening exercise and the examination of cou- 

science 81 

XII. — Of spiritual recollection . , ... 83 

XIII. — Of aspirations, ejaculatory prayers, and good thoughts, 86 
XIV. — Of the holy sacrifice of mass, and liow we ought to 

hear it 93 

XV. — Of vespers, and other public exercises .... 96 
XVI. — Of the honor and invocation of saints .... 97 


Chapter. Pass. 

XVII. — How we ought to hear and read the word of Gtod . 99 

XVIII. — How we ought to receive inspirations .... 101 

XXX. — Of holy confession ....... 105 

XX. — Of frequent communion ...... 109 

XXI. — How we ought to communicate ..... 114 

Part QTfjtrt). 

I. — Of the choice we ought to make as to the exercise of 

virtues 117 

n. — A continuation of the former discourse about the 

choice of virtues 123 

m. — Of patience 127 

rv. — Of exterior humility 133 

V. — Of more internal humility 136 

VI. — That humility makes us love our own abjection . . 143 
[. — How we are to preserve our good name in the prac- 
tice of humility 147 

VIII. — Of Dieekness towards our neighbor, and remedies 

against anger 152 

;. — Of meekness towards ourselves 158 

;. — That we must treat our affairs with diligence, but 

without eagerness or solicitude 161 

XI. — Of obedience 164 

CXII. — Of the necessity of j^hastity , 167 

an. — Advice how to preserve chastity 172 

^XIV. — Of poverty of spirit to be observed in the midst of 

riches 175 

XV. — How to practise true and real povertj', being notwith- 
standing really rich 179 

\jgXl. — How to practise riches of spirit in reil poverty . . 184 

['xvil. — Of friendship ; first, of that which is evil and frivolous, 186 

XVIII. — Of fond love 189 

XIX. — Of true friendship 194 

XX. — Of the ditference between true and vain friendships . 198 

XXI. — Advices and remedies against evil friendships . . 201 

_^xu. — Other advices on friendships 205 

XXIII. — ^ Of the exercises of exterior mortification . . . 208 


Chapter. Page. 

XXIV. — Of conversation and solitude 215 

XXV. — Of decency in attire 219 

XXVI. — Of discourse; and, first, how we must speak of God . 221 
xxvii. — Of modesty in our words, and the respect we owe to 

persons 223 

XXVIII. — Of rash judgment , 226 

XXIX. — Of detraction 232 

XXX. — Other advices with respect to conversation . . . 239 
XXXI. — Of pastimes and recreations ; and, first, of such as are 

lawful and commendable 241 

XXXII. — Of prohibited games 243 

XXXIII. — Of balls and pastimes which are lawful but dangerous, 245 

XXXIV. — At what time you may play or dance .... 248 
XXXV. — That we must be faithful both on great and small oc- 
casions . 249 

XXXVI. — That we must keep our mind just and reasonable . 253 

XXXVII. — Of desires ... 256 

Kxxviii. — Instructions for married persons . . . . 259 

XXXIX. — Of the sanctity of the marriage bed .... 269 

XL. — Instructions for widows 274 

XLI. — A word to virgins 280 

Part ^ourtfj. 

I- — That we must disregard the censure of worldlings . 282 
II. — That we must always have good courage . . . 286 

III. — Of the nature of temptations, and of tlif> diifcrence 

between feeling temptation and consenting to it . 28S 

IV. — Two good examples on this subject .... 291 
V. — An encouragement to a soul in temptation . . . 2^4 

VI. — How temptation and delectation may become sinful . 296 

VII. — Remedies against great temptations .... 299 

VIII. — That we must resist small temptations . . . . 301 

IX. — What remedies we aie to apply to small temptations . 303 

X. — How to fortify our hearts against temptations . , 304 

XI. — Of inquietude 306 

XII. — Of sadness 310 

XIII. — Of spiritual and sensible consolations, and how we 

must behave ourselves in them 313 


Chapter. Fage. 

XIV. — Of spiritual diyne: J 322 

XV. — A remarkable example ia coafirmatioa of the pre- 
ceding remarks 329 

Part jm!j. 

I. — That we ought every j-ear to renew our good resolutions 

by the following exercises 334 

II. — Considerations on the favor which God does us in calling 
us to his service, according to the protestation set down 

heretofore 336 

III. — Examination of our soul on its advancement in devotion, 339 

IV. — An examination of tlie state of our soul towards God, 341 

V. — An examination of our state with regard to ourselves, 344 
VI. — An examination of the state of our soul towards our 

neighbor . 346 

VII. — An examination of the affections of our soul . . . 347 

VIII. — Affections to be performed after this examination . . 348 

IX. — Considerations proper to renew our good resolutions, 349 

X. — I. Of the excellence of our souls ... . 350 

XI. — II. Of the excellence of virtue 351 

XII. — III. On the examples of the saints 353 

XIII. — IV. Of the love that Jesus Christ bears us . , . 354 

XIV. — V. Of the eternal love of God towards us . . . 356 
XV. — General affections on the preceding considerations, and 

a conclusion of this exercise 357 

XVI. — Of the sentiments we must retain after this exercise . 359 
XVII. — An answer to two objections which may be made to this 

•! introduction 360 

XVIII. — The three last and principal advices for this introduction, 362 
Conference between an eminent divine and a poor 
beggar, on the means of attaining to Christian per- 

fectiea . 865 





5^RANCIS was born of pious and noble parents in 
■^^ the town of Sales, which gave name to his family. 
From his tender years he gave signs of future sanctity, 
by his innocence, and the gravity of his manners. 
Having in his youth applied himself to the liberal 
Bciences, he soon after engaged in the study of phi- 
losophy and theology at Paris ; and, that nothing might 
be wanting to the cultivation of his mind, he obtained 
the degree of Doctor, both in the canon and civil law, 
with great applause, in the university of Padua. 
During a visit which he made to the holy house of 
Loretto he renewed the vow of perpetual chastity, 
which he had long before made at Paris, and nevel 
suffered himself to be withdrawn from a resolute 
adhesion to this virtue, either by the deceits of wicked 
spirits, or the allurements of the senses. 

Having refused an eminent dignity, offered him in the 
parliament of Savoy, he embraced the clerical state, 


and being ordained priest, and made provost of the 
church of Geneva, he so perfectly acquitted himself of 
every duty of that station, that Granerius, the bishop, 
made choice of him to preach the word of God to 
the inhabitants of Chablais, and other territories bor- 
dering upon Geneva, in order to reclaim them from the 
errors of Calvinism. He undertook this mission with 
cheerfulness and alacrity, and in the course of it 
suffered incredible labors, hardships, calumnies, and 
injuries, being often sought for by the heretics, and 
in danger of being assassinated by them. But in the 
midst of these numberless perils his constancy was 
alwa^'s so firm and inflexible, that, by the assistance of 
God, he is said to have reclaimed to the Catholic faith 
no less than seventy-two thousand persons, amongst 
whom are numbered many illustrious for their nobility 
and learning. 

After the death of Granerius, who had prevailed 
upon him to accept the office of coadjutor, he was 
consecrated Bishop. The brilliancy of his sanctity, the 
lustre of his zeal for Church discipline, his love of 
peace, his compassion for the poor, and all his other 
virtues, soon spread themselves abroad on all sides. 
For the greater honor and glory of God, he instituted 
a new order of religious women, which took its name 
from the Visitation of the blessed Virgin, under the 
rule of St. Austin ; to which he added his own con- 
stitutions, no less admirable for their wisdom than for 
their mildness and discretion. He also illustrated the 
Church by his writings, replete with heavenly doctrine, 
In which he points out a safe and plain way to Christian 


perfection. At length, in the fifty-eighth year of his 
age, on his return from France to Annessy, after having 
celebrated mass at Lyons, on the festival of St. John 
the Evangelist, he was seized with a grievous illness, 
and on the following day departed to heaven, in the 
year of our Lord 1622. His body was carried to 
Annessy, where it was honorably interred in the Church 
of the Nuns of the above-mentioned order, and soon 
became illustrious for several miracles ; which being 
duly proved, he was canonized in the year 1665 by 
Pope Alexander VIL, who assigned the 29th of January 
for his festival. 

In the bull of his canonization the following miracles 
are recorded to have been, upon the strictest examina- 
tion, found incontestable : — 

1. Jerome Gemin, who had been drowned, was carried 
in his winding-sheet to the grave ; his carcass, by its 
stench, denoted that putrefaction had already com- 
menced : when suddenly he returned to life, moved his 
arms, and raised his voice to publish the praises of 
Francis of Sales, who, as he related, had at that very 
instant appeared to him in his episcopal habit, with 
a mild and glorious countenance. Many other wonder- 
ful circumstances greatly added to the lustre of the 

2. Claudius Marmon, a boy of seven years of age, 
who had been blind from his birth, after having per- 
formed nine days' prayer, whilst he was lying prostrate 
at the feet of the holy prelate, received his sight upon 
the spot. 

8. Jane Petronilla Evrax, five years old, labored 


under so inveterate a palsy that no hopes were enter- 
tained of her recovery, her hips and legs being quite 
withered. At the very hour at which her father was 
praying for her, at the tomb of Francis, she was on a 
sudden perfectly cured, and, getting up, ran to her 

4. Claudius JuUer, aged ten j'ears, was afflicted in 
like manner with a palsy, which he had brought with 
him into the world, in so grievous a manner that he 
had not the use of either of his hips or of his legs. 
Being carried by his mother, for the third time, to kiss 
the tomb of Francis of Sales, he received, upon the 
spot, strength and vigor in all his joints and limbs, 
which were before useless, and in a moment raised 
himself up, stood upon his feet, and walked. 

5. Frances de la Pesse, who, by falling into a river^ 
had been drowned, was restored to life at the tomb, 
and b}' the intercession of the holy prelate. All the 
marks of deformity which that dreadful accident had 
left in her body, together with the livid color and 
swelling, were on a sudden wonderfully removed. 

6. James Guidi, whose nerves were contracted, an(f 
who had been an absolute cripple from his birth, im- 
ploring the assistance of tlie prayers of the servant of 
God, was in an instant pcrfectl}' cured. 

7. Charles Materon^ who had been a cripple from 
his very birth, and strangely deformed in his whole 
body, was, by the intercession of the saint, instantly 
cured, so that he received upon the spot the perfect 
figure of a man, together with the use of his limbs. 

All these miracle*", with their respective circum- 


stances, were proved with the utmost evidence, both as 
to the matters of fact, which were attested by many 
credible eye-witnesses, and as to their being clearly 
beyond all the powei' of nature or art ; tlie more so, 
because they were all of t.hem wrought almost instan- 


SWEET Jesus, my Lord, my Saviour, and my Godl 
behold me here prostrate before thy Majesty, devoting 
and consecrating this work to thy glory ; give Ufe to 
its words by thy blessing, that those souls for whom I 
have composed it may receive from it the sacred in- 
spirations which I desire for them. And particularly 
grant them that of imploring for me thy infinite mercy : 
to the end that, while I point out to others the way of 
devotion in this world, I may not m^^self be eternally 
rejected and confounded in the other ; but that with 
them I may forever sing, as a canticle of triumph, the 
words which with my whole heart I pronounce, in tes- 
timony of my fidelity amidst the hazards of this mortal 
life : Live, Jesus! live, Jesus ! yea. Lord Jesus! live and 
reign in our hearts forever and ever. Amen- 


My dear Reader, I pray thee to read this Preface for 
oar mutual satisfaction. 

^LYCERA,the nosegay-maker, knew so well how to 
diversify and arrange her flowers, that with tha 
same flowers slie made a great variety of nosegays. 
The painter Pausius, in attempting to imitate them, 
failed in his design, for he could not diversify hia 
painting so variously as Glycera did her nosegays. It 
is in like manner that the Holy Ghost disposes and 
orders, with so much variety, the instructions of de- 
votion which he gives us b}' the tongues and pens of 
his servants, that, although the doctrine be the same, 
the mode of treating it differs according to the several 
methods in which they are composed. I neither can 
nor will, nor indeed ought I to write anything in this 
Introduction, upon this subject, different from that 
■which has been alread}' published by our predecessors. 
The flowers which I present thee are the same ; but the 
nosega}' which I have made of them differs from theirs, 
being made up in a different order and method. 

Almost all that have hitherto treated of devotion 
have had in view the instruction of persons wholly re- 
ared from the world ; or have taught a kind of devo- 
4on leading to this absolute retirement ; whereas my 



intention is to instruct sucli as live in towns, in fami- 
lies, or at court, and wlio, by their condition, are 
obliged to lead, as to the exterior, a common life ; who 
frequently, under imaginary pretence of impossibility, 
will not scT much as think of undertaking a devout life : 
believing that as no beast dares taste the seed of the 
herb Palma Christi, so no man ought to aspire to the 
palm of Christian piety as long as he lives in the 
bustle of temporal affairs. Now, to such I shall prove 
that as the mother-pearl- fish lives in the sea without 
receiving a drop of salt water; and as towards the 
Chelidouian islands springs of fresh water may be fouu(f 
in the midst of the sea ; and as the fire-fly passes 
through the flames without burning its wings, so a 
vigorous and resolute soul may live in the world with- 
out being infected by any of its humors, may discover 
sweet springs of piety amidst its salt waters, and fly 
amongst the flames of earthly concupiscences without 
burning the wings of the holy desires of a devout life. 
This, it is true, is a difficult task, and, therefore, I 
wish that many would endeavor to accomplish it with 
more ardor than has been hitherto done ; and I, weak 
as I am, shall endeavor, by this treatise, to contribute 
some little assistance to such as, with a generous heart, 
shall undertake so worthy an enterprise. 

Yet it is not through my own choice, or inclination^ 
that this Introduction is now made public. A pious 
and virtuous soul, having some time since received of 
God the grace of asi)inng to a devout life, desired my 
parlioular assistance for that purpose. Being under 
many obligations to her, and having long before dis- 


covered in her a warra disposition to piety, I applied 
myself very diligently to her instruction ; and having 
conducted her through all the exercises suitable to her 
desire and condition, I left her certain memorials in 
writing, of which she might occasionally make use. 
These she afterwards communicated to a learned and 
devout religious man ; who, believing that many might 
profit by their perusal, earnestly requested me to have 
them published, to which I readily acquiesced, from a 
conviction that his judgment wis superior to mine, and 
because his friendship had great influence over my will. 

That the whole might be more profitable and agree- 
able, I have revised and connected the different parts, 
adding several advices and instructions which appeared 
suited to my intention. Numberless occupations left 
me little leisure for the accomplishment of my design , 
hence you will find in this treatise neither order nor 
method, but merely a collection of good admonitions 
which I have delivered in plain and intelligible words, 
without bestowing so much as a thought on the orna- 
ments of language, having business of more conse 
quence to attend to. 

I address my discourse to Philothea, because desiring 
to reduce whnt I at first had written for one only, to the 
common advantage of many souls ; I make use of a 
name applicable to all such as aspire to devotion : for 
the Greek word Philothea signifies a soul loving, or in 
love with, God. Regarding, then, throughout this work 
a soul wliich by the desire of devotion aspires to the 
love of God. I have divided it into five parts. In the 
first, I endeavor, by remonstrance and exercises, to 


convert the simple desire of Philothea into an absolute 
resolution, which she at last makes, by a firm protesta- 
tion, after her general confession, followed by the most 
holy communion, in which, giving herself up to her 
Saviour, she happily enters into his holy love. - In the 
second part, to lead her farther on, I show her the two 
great means by which she may unite herself more and 
more to his divine Majesty, viz., the use of the sacra- 
ments, by which our good God comes to us ; and holy 
prayer, by which he attracts us to himself. In the 
third, I show her how she ought to exercise herself in 
the virtues most proper for her advancement ; not stop- 
ping, except at some particular advices, which she could 
hardly have received elsewhere, or discovered herself. 
In the fourth part I expose to her view some of the 
snares of her enemies, showing her how she may escape 
them, and proceed forward in her laudable under- 
taking. In the fifth and last place I make her retire 
a little to refresh herself, recover breath, and repair her 
strength, that she may afterwards more happily gain 
ground, and advance in a devout life. 

Ill this capricious age I foresee that many will say 
that it belongs only to members of religious communi- 
ties to give particular directions concerning piety, since 
they have more leisure than a bishop can have who is 
charged with a diocese so heavy as mine is ; that such 
an undertaking too much distracts the understanding, 
which should be employed in affairs of importance. 
But I tell thee, dear reader, with the great St. Denys, 
that it belongs principally to bishops to conduct souls 
to perfection, since their order is as supreme among 


men as that of the seraphim is a-mong the angels, so 
that their leisure cannot be better employed. The 
ancient bishops and fathers of the church, it must be 
granted, were at least as careful of their charge as we 
are ; yet they declined not to superintend the particular 
conduct of several seals who had recourse to their assist- 
ance, as we see by their epistles, in which instance 
they hnitated the apostles, who, amidst the general 
harvest of the world, picked up certain remarkable ears 
of corn with a special and particular affection. Who is 
ignorant that Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Onesimus, St. 
Thecla, and Appia, were the dear disciples of the great 
St. Paul, as St. Mark and St. Petronilla were of St. 
Peter, — St. Petronilla, I say, who, as Baronius and 
Galonius learnedly prove, was not St. Peter's carnal, 
but only his spiritual, daughter? And does not St. John 
write one of his canonical epistles to the devout Lady 

It is painful, I confess, to direct souls in particular ; 
but it is a pain that gives a comfort like that which is 
felt by the laborers in the harvest and vintage, who are 
never better pleased than when they have most to do, 
and when their burdens are the heaviest. It is a labor 
which refreshes and revives the heart by the sweet 
delight it excites in those who are engaged in it ; as the 
cinnamon refreshes those who carry it through Arabia 
Felix. It is said that when the tigress finds one of her 
whelps, whicli the huntsman leaves in the way to amuse 
her, whilst he carries off the rest of the litter, she loads 
herself with it, and yet feels not herself encumbered ; 
but, on the contrary, more active in the course which sh€ 


takes to secure it in her den ; natural love diminishing 
the weight of ht'r burden. How much more willingly, 
then, will a fatherly heart take charge of a soul in which 
he has found a desire of holy perfection ; carrying it in 
his bosom as a mother does her little child, without 
being wearied by so precious a burden ! But this must 
be, indeed, a fatherly heart ; and therefore the apostles 
and apostolic men call their disciples not only their 
children, but, still more tenderly, their little children. 

It is true, dear reader, that I here write of a devout 
life, without being myself devout, yet certainly not 
without a desire of becoming so ; and it is this affection 
towards devotion which encourages me to instruct thee. 
For, as a great and learned man has said, " to stud3', 
is a good way to learn ; to hear, is a still better ; but to 
teach, is the best of all."— " It often happens," said St. 
Austin, writing to his devout Florentina, " that the 
office of distributing gives us the merit of receiving ; 
and that the office of teaching serves as a foundation 
for learning." 

Alexander caused the picture of his fair Campaspe 
to be drawn by the hand of the celebrated Apelles ; as 
the painter was obliged to look upon her for a consid- 
erable time together, as fast as he drew her features in 
his picture the love of them became nisensibly imprinted 
in his heart. The circumstance coming to the knowledge 
of Alexander, taking pity on Apelles, he gave her to 
him in marriage, depriving himself, for his sake, of 
the woman whom he loved most in the world, ni which 
action, says Pliny, he showed the greatness of his 
jaind as much as he could have done by the most 


signal victor}'. Now I am of opinion, beloved reader, 
ttiat it is tlie will of God, that I, being a bishop, should 
paint upon the hearts of his people, not only common 
virtues, but also his most dear and well-beloved devo- 
tion. And I willingly undertake the office, as well in 
obedience to him, and to discharge my duty, as with 
the hope that, by engraving her in the minds of others, 
m}- own may become enamored with her beauty Now, 
if ever this divine Majesty shall see me passionately 
in love with her, he will give her to me in an eternal 
marriage. The fair and chaste Rebecca, watering 
Isaac's camels, was destined to be his wife, and re- 
ceived, on his part, golden ear-rings and bracelets. 
Thus do I flatter m3-self, through the infinite goodness 
of God, that whilst I conduct his dear sheep to the 
wholesome waters of devotion, he will make my soul 
his spouse, putting in my ears the golden words of his 
holy love ; and on m}' arms, strength to practise good 
works, in which consists the essence of true devotion ; 
which I humbl}^ beseech his divine Majesty to grant to 
me, and all the children of his Church, to which I 
forever submit m)^ writings, my actions, my words, my 
thoughts and inclinations. 

1.T Annessy, the Feast of St. M. Magdalen, 1609. 




^art J'trst, 







55^0U aspire to devotion, my dearest Philothea, 
'®^ because, being a Cliristian, you know it to 
be a virtue extremely pleasing to the Divine 
Majesty. But since small faults, committed in 
the beginning of any undertaking, grow in the 
progress infinitely greater, and l^ecome in the end 
almost irreparable, you must first know what the 
virtue of devotion is ; for since there is but one 
true devotion, and many which are false and 
deceitful, if you cannot distinguish that which is 
true, you may easily deceive and amuse yourself 
in following some fantastical and superstitious 


As Aurelius painted all the faces of his picturess 
to the air and resemblance of the woman he loved, 
so every one paints devotion according to his own 
passion and fancy. He that is addicted to fasting 
thinks himself very devout if he fasts, though his 
heart be at the same time filled with rancor, and 
scrupling to moisten his tongue with wine, or even 
with water, through sobriety, he makes no diffi- 
culty to drink deep of his neighbor's blood, by 
detraction and calumny. Another considers him- 
self devout because he recites daily a multiplicity 
of prayers, though immediately afterwards he 
utters the most disagreeable, arrogant, and injuriy 
ous words amongst his domestics and neighboi;;^ 
Another cheerfully draws an alms out of his purse 
to relieve the poor, but cannot draw meekness out 
of his heart to forgive his enemies. Another 
readily forgives enemies, l)ut never satisfies his 
creditors but hy constraint. These, by some, 
are esteemed devout, while, in reality, they are 
by no means so. 

As Saul's servants sought David in his house, 
but Michol, laying a statue in his bed, and cover- 
ing it with his clothes, made them believe it was 
David himself, so many persons, by covering 
themselves with certain external actions l)elon<>:in": 
to devotion, make'the world believe that they are 
truly devout, whereas they are in reality nothing 
but statues and phantoms of devotion. 

True devotion, ]-*hilothea, presupposes, not a 
partial, but a thorough love of God. For inas- 
much as divine l()V(^ adorns the soul, it is called 
grace, making us pleasing to the Divine Majesty ; 


inasmuch as it gives us the strength to do good, 
it is called charity ; but when it is arrived at that 
degree of perfection by which it not only makes 
us do well, but also work diligently, frequently, 
and readily, then it is called devotion. 

As ostriches never fly, as hens fly low, heavily, 
and but seldom, and as eagles, doves, and swal- 
lows fly aloft, swiftly and frequently, so sinners 
fly not at all towards God, but lie, grovelling on 
earth, with only earthly objects in view. Good 
people, who have not as yet attained to devotion, 
fly towards God by their good works, but rarely 
slowly and heavily ; but devout souls ascend to 
Him by more frequent, prompt, and lofty flights. 
In short, devotion is nothing else but that spirit- 
ual agility and vivacity by which charity works 
in us, or we work by her, with alacrity and affec- 
tion ; and as it is the business of charity to make 
us ol)serve all God's commandments, generally 
and without exception, so it is the part of devo- 
tion to make us observe them more fully and with 
diligence. Wherefore he who observes not all 
the commandments of God cannot be esteemed 
either good or devout ; since to be good he must 
be possessed of charity ; and to be devout, besides 
charity, he must show a cheerfulness and alacrity 
in the performance of charital)le actions. 

As devotion, then, consists in a certain excellent 
degree of charity, it makes us not only active and 
diligent in the observance of God's command- 
ments, l)ut it also excites us to the performance 
of every good work with an affectionate alacrity, 
though it be not of precepts, but only of counsel. 


For as a man newly recovered from any infirmity 
walks as nmch as is necessary for him, but }et 
slowly and at his leisure, so a sinner, just healed 
of his iniquity, walks as far as God commands 
him, yet slowly and heavily, till such time as he 
attains to devotion ; for then, like a man in sound 
health, he not only walks, but runs, and springs 
forward in the way of God's commandments ; and, 
moreover, advances with rapidity in the paths of 
his heavenly counsels and inspiration. 

To conclude : charity and devotion differ no 
more from each other than lire does from flame ; 
for charity is a spiritual fire, which, when inflamed, 
is called devoton. Hence it appears that devotion 
adds nothing to the fire of charity but the flame, 
which makes it ready, active, and diligent, not 
only in the observance of the commandments of 
God, but also in the execution of his heavenly 
counsels and inspirations. 




I^IIEY who discouraged the Israelites from 
xA.^ going into the land of promise told them it 
was a country which devoured its inhabitants ; or. 
in other words, that it was impossible to withstand 
the pestilential infection of its air; and, further, 
tHat the natives were such monsters that they 


devoured men like locusts. It is in this manner, 
my dear Philothea, that the world defames holy 
devotion, representing devout persons as a peevish, 
gloomy, and sullen race of men, pretending that 
devotion begets melancholy and insupportable 
humors. But as Josue and Caleb protested that 
the promised land was not only good and fair, but 
also that the possession of it would he sweet and 
agreeable, so the Holy Ghost, by the mouths of 
all the saints, and our Saviour l)y his own, assure 
us that a devout life is a life of all others the most 
sweet, ha[)py, and amiable. 

The world beholds devout people to fast, pray, 
suffer injuries, serve the sick, and give alms to 
the poor; it sees them watch over themselves, re- 
strain their anger, stifle their passions, deprive 
themselves of sensual pleasures, and perform other 
actions in themselves painful and rigorous ; but 
the world discerns not the inward cordial devotion 
which renders all these actions agreeable, sweet, 
and easy. Look at the bees ; they find upon the 
thyme a very bitter juice, yet, in suckhig it, they 
convert it into honey, because such is their prop- 
erty. O worldlings ! devout souls, it is true, find 
much bitterness in their exercises of mortification ; 
but in performing them they convert tliem into 
the most delicious sweetness. The fires, flames, 
wheels, and swords, seemed flowers and perfumes 
to the martyrs, because they were devout. If, 
then, devotion can confer a sweetness on the most 
cruel torments, and even on death itself, what can 
it not do for virtuous actions? Sugar sweetens 
green fruits, and corrects whatever crudity or un- 


wholesomeness may be in those that are ripe. 
Now, devotion is that true spiritual sugar which 
corrects the bitterness of mortification by tlie 
sweetness of its consolations ; it removes dis- 
content from the poor ; solicitude from the rich ; 
sadness from the oppressed ; insolence from the 
exalted ; melancholy from the solitary, and dissipa- 
tion from him that is in company. It serves as 
well for lire in winter as for dew in summer. It 
knows as well how to use abundance as how to 
suffer want, and how to render honor and con- 
tempt equally profitable. In a word, it entertains 
pleasure and pain with equanimity, and replenishes 
the soul with an admirable SAveetness. 

Contemplate Jacol)'s ladder, for in it you have a 
true picture of a devout life. The two parallel 
sides between which we ascend, and in which the 
rounds are fixed, represent prayer, which obtains 
the love of God, and the sacraments which confer 
it. The rounds are the several degrees of charity 
by which we advance from virtue to virtue, either 
descending by action to the help and supjiort of 
our neighl)or, or ascending by contemplation to an 
amorous union with God. Now, look attentively, 
I beseech you, upon those who are on this ladder : 
they are either men who have angelical hearts, or 
angcils clothed in human bodies. They are not 
young, although they seem so, because they are 
full of vigor and si)iritual activity. They have 
wings to soar up to God by holy prayer ; but 
they have also feet to walk with men by a holy 
and editymg conversation. Tiieir countenances 
are fair and cheerful, because they receive all 


things with sweetness and content. Their legs, 
their arms, and heads are bare, because in all their 
thoughts, affections, and actions they have no 
other design or motive than that of pleasing God. 
The rest of their body has no other covering than 
a fair and light robe, to show that, although they 
make use of the world and worldly things, yet 
they use them in a most pure and moderate man- 
ner, not taking more of them than is necessary for 
their condition. Such are devout persons. Be- 
lieve me, dear Philothea, devotion is the quintes- 
sence of pleasures, the queen of virtues, and the 
perfection of charity. If charity be milk, devotion 
is the cream ; if charity be a plant, devotion is its 
flower ; if charity be a precious stone, devotion is 
its lustre ; if charity be a rich balm, devotion is its 
odor ; yea, the odor of sweetness, which comforts 
men and rejoices angels. 




S in the creation, God commanded the plants 
to bring forth their fruits, each one according 
to its kind, so he commands all Christians, who 
are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth 
the fruits of devotion, each according to his quality 
and vocation. Devotion ought, then, to be not only 
differently exercised by the gentleman, the trades- 


man, the servant, the prince, the widow, the maid, 
and the married woman, but its practice shouki be 
also adapted to the strength, the employments, and 
obligations of each one in particular. For I ask 
thee, Philothea, is it fit that a bishop should lead 
the solitary life of a Carthusian? or that married 
peopie should lay up no greater store than the 
Capuchin ? If a tradesman were to remain the 
whole day in the church, like the religious, or 
were the religious man continually exposed to 
encounter difficulties in the service of his neigh- 
bor, as the bishop is, would not such devotion be 
ridiculous, preposterous, and insupportal)le? This 
fault is, nevertheless, very common, and hence the 
world, which distinguishes not between real devo- 
tion and the indiscretion of those who imagine 
themselves to be devout, murmurs at the devotion 
which cannot prevent these disorders. 

No, Philothea, true devotion does no harm 
whatever, but rather gives perfection to all things ; 
but Avhen it is not comjiatible with our lawful 
vocation, then, without doubt, it is false. "The 
bee," says Aristotle, "extracts honey from flowers 
without injuring them, and leaves them as entire 
and fresh as she found them." True devotion goes 
still further, for it not only does no injury to any 
vocation or employment, 1)ut, on the contrary, 
adorns and beautifies it. As all sorts of precious 
stones, when cast into honey, receive a greater 
lustre, each according to its color, so every one's 
vocation becomes more agreeable when united 
with devotion. By devotion, the care of the 
fjEimily is rendered more peaceable, the love of 


the husband and wife more sincere ; the service of 
the prince more faithful ; and every employment 
more pleasant and agreeable. 

It is an 'irror, or rather a heresy, to say that 
devotion is incompatible with the life of a soldier, 
a tradesman, a prince, or a married woman. It is 
true, Philothea, that a devotion purely contem- 
plative, monastical, and religious, cannot be exer- 
cised in those vocations ; but, besides these three 
kinds of devotion, there are several others proper 
to conduct to perfection those who live in the secular 
state. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, David, Job, 
Tobias, Sarah, Rebecca, and Judith, bear witness 
of this in the Old Testament ; and in the New, St. 
Joseph, Lydia, and St. Crispin, practised perfect 
devotion in their shops ; St. Ann, St. Martha, St. 
Monica, Aquila, Priscilla, in their families ; Cor- 
nelius, St. Sebastian, St. Maurice, in the army ; 
Constantine, Helena, St Lewis, blessed Amedaeus, 
and St. Edward, on the throne. Nay, it has hap- 
pened that many have lost perfection in the desert 
who had preserved it in the world, which seems 
so little favorable to perfection. "Lot," says St. 
Gregory, " who was so chaste in the city, defiled 
himself in the wilderness." Wheresoever, then, we 
are, we niay, and should, aspire to a perfect life. 





?5^0UNG Tobias, lieing commanded to go to 
'^^ Rages, answered, "I know not the way." " Go 
then," replied his father, "and seek some man to 
conduct thee." I say the same to thee, my Philo- 
thea. Wouldst thou walk in earnest towards de- 
votion, seek some good man, who may guide and 
conduct thee ; this is the best advice I can give thee. 
"Though you search for the will of God," says 
the devout Avila, "you shall never so assuredly 
find it as in the way of humble obedience, so 
much recomuiended and practised by all holy per- 
sons who have aspired to devotion." St. Teresa, 
seeing the lady Catharine, of Cardona, perform 
such rigorous penances, desired anxiously to imi- 
tate her, contrary to the advice of her confessor. 
The saint was much tempted to disobey him in that 
particular; but God said to her: "Daughter, thou 
art in a good and secure way ; seest thou her pen- 
ance? But I value more thy obedience." Ilcnce 
she conceived so high an esteem for this virtue 
that, besides that which she owed to her superiors, 
she vowed a particular obedience to an excellent 
man, to whose direction and advice she implicitly 
submitted. In return for this obedience she, as 
well as many other devout souls ])efore and after 
her, who, that they might more entirely subject 
themselves to God. submitted their wills to that 


of his servants, enjoyed most unspeakable conso- 
lations. St. Catharine, of Sienna, in her dialogues, 
highly applauds this implicit obedience. The 
devout princess, St. Elizalicth, submitted herself 
with an entire obedience to the learned Conradus ; 
and the advice given by the great St. Lewis to his 
son, a little before his death, was, " Confess often ; 
choose a good confessor, a wise man, who may 
safely teach thee to do the things that shall be 
necessary for thee." 

" A faithful friend," says the Holy Scripture, " is 
a strong defence ; and he that hath found him hath 
found a treasure. A faithful friend is the medi- 
cine of life and immortality ; and they that fear 
the Lord shall find him." — Eccli., vi., 14., 16. 
These divine words, as you may easily perceive, 
refer to a happy immortality, for the attainment 
of which it is necessary that we should submit 
ourselves to the direction of a faithful friend, who, 
by the prudence and wisdom of his counsels, may 
guide us in all our actions, and secure us from the 
ambushes and deceits ot the wicked one. Such a 
friend will be to us as a treasure of wisdom and con- 
solation, in all our afflictions, our sorrows, and 
relapses ; he will serve as a medicine to cure, and 
as a cordial to comfort our hearts in our spiritual 
disorders ; he will guard us from evil, and make 
us advance in good ; and should any infirmity be- 
fall us, he will assist in our recovery, and prevent 
its being: unto death. 

But who shall find this friend ? They that fear 
the Lord, answers the wise man ; that is, the 
humble, who earnestly desire their spiritual ad- 


vancement. Since, then, it concerns you so much. 
Philothea, to travel with a good guide in this holy 
road CO devotion, beseech God, with the greatest 
importunity, to furnish you w^ith one who may be 
according to his own heart ; and l)e assured that 
he will rather send you an angel from heaven, as 
he did to young Tobias, than fail to grant your 

Now, such a guide, when you have found him, 
ought always to be an angel to you ; consider him 
not as a mere man ; place not your confidence in 
his human learning, but in God, whose minister 
he is, and who speaks to you by his means, put- 
tins: in his heart and in his mouth whatever shall 
be requisite for your happiness, so that you ought 
to pay as much attention to him as to an angel w ho 
would come down from heaven to conduct you 
thither. Open your heart to him w^ith all sincerity 
and fidelity, manifesting clearly and explicitly the 
state of your conscience without fiction or dissimu- 
lation ; l)y this means your good actions will be 
examined and approved ; and your evil ones cor- 
rected and remedied ; you will be comforted and 
strengthened in your afflictions, and be kept regu- 
larly in order in your consolations. Place great 
confidence in him, but let it be united with a holy 
reverence, so that the reverence may not diminish 
the confidence, nor the confidence the reverence. 
Confide in him with the respect of a daughter to- 
wards her father ; respect him with the confidence 
of a son towards his mother. In a word, your 
friendship for him ought to be strong and sweet, 
pure and holy, entirely spiritual and divine. 


*'For this end, choose one amongst a thousand," 
Bays Avila ; but I say, choose one amongst ten 
thousand ; for there are fewer than can he imagined 
who are capable of this office. He must be a man 
of charity, learning, and prudence. If any one of 
these three qualities be wanting in him, there is 
danger ; but I say to you again. Ask him of God, 
and having obtained him, bless his Divine Majesty, 
remain constant, and seek no other ; ]>ut proceed 
on, with sincerity, humility, and confidence, till 
you arrive at the happy end of your journey. 




f HE flowers have appeared in our land, the time 
*^ of i)runing is come." — Cantic. ii. 12. What 
else are the llowers of our hearts, O Philothea ! but 
good desires? Now, as soon as they apjiear wo 
must put our hand to the pruning-knife, to re- 
trench from our conscience all dead and superfluous 
works. As the alien maid, before she could marry 
an Israelite, was obliged to put ofi*the garment of 
her captivit3% pare her nails, and shave her hair, 
so the soul that aspires to the honor of being 
spouse to the Son of God must divest herself of 
the old man, and clothe herself with the new, by 
forsaking sin, and removing every obstacle which 
may prevent her union with God. To enjoy a 


good state of health, it is necessary that we be 
previously purged from offensive humois. St. Paul, 
in a moment, was cleansed with a perfect [)urgation ; 
so was St. Catherine, of Genoa, St. Mary INlagdalen, 
St. Pelalia, and some others ; but this kind of 
purgation is as miraculous and extraordinary in 
the order of grace as the resurrection of the dead 
is in that of nature ; and therefore to expect it 
would be presumptuous. The ordinary purification, 
or healing, whether of the body or the mind, is 
not instantaneously effected, but takes place grad- 
ually, by passing from one degree to another, with 
labor and patience. 

The angels upon Jacob's ladder had wings, yet 
they flew not, but ascended and descended in order 
from one step to another. The soul that rises 
from sin to devotion may be compared to the 
dawning of the day, which at its approach expels 
not the darkness instantaneously, l)ut by little and 
little. "The cure," says the medical aphorism, 
" which is made leisurely, is always the most per- 
fect." The diseases of the heart, as well as those of 
the body, o-ome posting on horseback, but depart 
leisurely on foot. Courage and patience then, 
Philothea, Hre necessary in this enter})rise. Alas ! 
how much are those souls to be pitied who, per- 
ceiving tiioniselves subject to many imperfections, 
after having for a while exercised themselves in 
devotion, l)egin to be dissatisfied, troubled, and 
discouraged, and suffer their hearts to be almost 
overcome with the temntation of forsaking all, 
and returning l)a('k to their former course of life. 
But, on the other hand, are not those souls also iu 


extreme danger, who, by a contrary temptation, 
believe themselves quite purified from their im- 
perfections the first day of their purgation ; who 
think themselves perfect, though as yet scarcely 
formed, and presume to fly without wings ! O 
Fhilothea ! in what danger are they of relapsing, 
being so soon out of the physician's hands ? " It is 
vain for you to rise before light " says the prophet 
(Ps. cxxvi, 2) ; "rise after you have sitten," and 
he himself practised this lesson ; for having been 
already washed and cleansed, he desires to be 
washed and cleansed still more and more. — Ps. i. 3. 
The exercise of purifying the soul neither can 
nor ought to end but with our life ; let us not 
then be disturbed at the sight of our imperfec- 
tions, for perfection consists in fighting against 
them : and how can we fiii:ht aijainst them without 
seeing them, or overcome them without encoun- 
tering them? Our victory consists not in being 
insensible to them, but in refusing them our con- 
sent ; now to be displeased with them, is not to 
consent to them. It is absolutely necessary for 
the exercise of our humility that we should some- 
times meet with wounds in this spiritual warfare ; 
but then we are never overcome, unless we eithei 
lose our life or our courage. Now, imperfections 
or venial sins cannot deprive us of our spiritual 
life, which is not lost, but by mortal sin. It then 
only remains that we lose not our courage. "Save 
me, O Lord ! " said David, " from pusillanimity of 
spirit, or cowardice and faint-heartedness." It is 
happy for us that in this warfare we shall always 
be victorious, provided we do but fight. 




5n^HE first purgation that must be made is that 
<^ of mortal sin; the means to make it is the 
holy sacrament of penance. Seek , in the first place, 
the best confessor you can find ; then procure some 
of those books which have been composed for as- 
sisting sinners to make a good confession ; such as 
Granada, Bruno, Arias, or Auger ; read them 
carefully, and remark, from point to point, in 
what you have offended from the time you came 
to the use of reason to the jDresent hour. Should 
you distrust your memory, write down what you 
have observed, and having thus pre})ared and col- 
lected together the bad humors of your conscience, 
detest and renounce them with the greatest con- 
trition and sorrow that your heart can conceive, 
considering these four things, (1) that by sin you 
have lost the grace of God ; (2) that you have re- 
signed your claim to heaven; (3) that you have 
chosen the eternal pains of hell ; and (4) that you 
have renounced the eternal love of God. You 
Bee, Philothca, that I speak of a general confes- 
sion of the whole life, which, though not ab- 
solutely necessary, yet I look ujion as exceedingly 
profitable inthebcginning, and, therefore, earnestly 
advise it. It fre(iuently happens that the ordinary 
confessions of those who lead a connnon worldly 
life are full of considerable defects; for they 
often make little or no preparation, ueither hava 


they sufficient contrition ; nay, it too frequently 
happens that they go to confession with a tacit 
inclination of returning to sin, which appear* 
from their subsequent unwillingness to avoid the 
occasions of sin, and to make use of the means 
necessary for the amendment of their life. In 
all these cases, a general confession calls us to 
the knowledge of ourselves ; it excites in us a 
wholesome confusion for our past life ; it makes 
us admire the mercy of God, who has so patiently 
waited for us ; it appeases our hearts ; composes 
our minds ; excites us to good resolutions ; gives 
occasion to our spiritual father to prescribe us 
advices more suitable to our condition, and opens 
our heart to declare ourselves with more confi- 
dence in our following confessions. Speaking, 
then, of a general renovation of your heart, and of 
an universal conversion of your soul to God, by 
undertaking a devout life, it appears necessary, 
Philothea, to exhort you to this general confes- 



^LTHOUGH all the Israelites departed in 
effect out of the land of Egypt, yet they did 
not all depart in affection ; wherefore many of 

' To understand better tlie sentiments of the Saint, in this chapter, 
with regard to the affections to sin, at which some have taken offenco- 


them regretted in the wilderness their want of the 
onions and flesli-pots of Egypt. In like manner, 
there are penitents who in effect depart from 
sin, bnt yet quit it not in aftection ; they propose 
to sin no more, but it is with a certain reluctancy 
of heart that they deprive themselves of, or 
abstain from, an unhappy delectation in sin. Al- 
though they renounce and avoid it, they never- 
theless often look back upon it, as Lot's wife did 
towards Sodom. They abstain from sin, as sick 
men do from melons, which they forl^ear to 
taste, because the physician threatens them with 
death if they eat them; but it is with the utmost 
reluctance that they refrain from them. They 
talk of them incessantly, and are unwilling to 
believe them hurtful. They have a continual 
longing for them, and think those happy who may 
eat them. Such is the case with loose and weak 
penitents ; they abstain for some time from sin, 
but it is with the utmost regret ; they would re- 
joice if they could sin, and not bo damned ; they 
s])cak of it with a certain pleasure and relish, and 
think those who sin more at ease. The man who 
was resolved to be revenored on another chano;es 
his mind in confession ; but shortly after you 

we mii'^t (lislinjriii^li two different act'eptatious of tlii'-;c words. For if, 
by art'cction to sin, we understand the wilful love, or desire of sin, or 
a voliintarv complac:eiK'y, or delit,Mit in the tliotiLclit of eoniniittin^i- sin, 
it is certain that in tiiis sense an affeetion to mortal sin is in itself a 
rnortid sin. Hut the holy prelate doi's not take tiie atfeetion to sin in 
this sense. He only means by the atfeetion to sin, a ecrtain propensity 
and inclination to sin, conlracted by a former evil Jialiit, which is apt 
to remain in the soul, as a relic of the old leaven, after her conversion 
to fJod, and her reconciliation in the sacrament of penance, whi(;h, 
thoMLTh upon retlection the soul resists it, is, nevertheless, of a very 
;lan;,''ei'ous nature, if not (lili;4(Miily iiiii-jred away, accoi'Uiuij to the sea- 
timcuts which the Saint hero inculcates. 


may find him among his friends, talking with 
pleasure to them of liis quarrel, and saying, 
'*Had it not been for the fear of God, and that the 
divine law in this article of forgiving is hard, — 
would to God it were allowed to reveno;e one's 
self! " Ah ! who does not see, that althouijh he be 
delivered from the sin, he is still entangled by an 
affection to it ; and that, being in effect out of 
Egypt, he is still there in affection, longing after 
its garlic and onions ; as a woman, who having 
detested her impure love, is, nevertheless, pleased 
with being courted and followed ! Alas, in how 
great danger are all such people ! 

If you desire, O Philothea ! to undertake a 
devout life, you must not only cease to sin, but 
also cleanse your heart from all affections to sin ; 
for, besides the danger of a relapse, these wretched 
affections will so perpetually weaken and depress 
your s})irits, that they will render you incapable 
of practising good works with alacrity and dili- 
gence, in which, nevertheless, consists the very 
essence of devotion. Souls that are recovered 
from the <« .ate of sin, and still retain these affec- 
tions, are, in my opinion, like minds in the green- 
sickness : though not sick, yet all their actions are 
sick ; they eat without relish, sleep without rest, 
laugh without joy, and rather drag themselves 
along than walk. This is exactly the case with 
those heie described : they do good, but with such 
a spiritiuvl heaviness that it takes away all the 
^•ace fron^ their good exercises, which are few in 
number and small in effect. 




^I^OW, the first means, nay, the veiy foundation, 
■A^ of this second purgation is a lively sense and 
strong apprehension of the dreadful evils in which 
sin involves the soul, by means of which we con- 
ceive a deep and vehement contrition. For as 
contrition, be it ever so small, when joined with 
the virtue of the sacrament, cleanses us sufficiently 
from sin, so when it is great and vehement, it 
cleanses us even from every affection to sin. A 
slight hatred or rancor creates an aversion to the 
person whom we hate, and makes us avoid his 
company ; but if it be a rooted and violent hatred, 
we not only ily and abhor him, but even loathe the 
conversation of his kindred and friends, and can- 
not endure so much as the sight of his picture, 
nor of anything that belongs to him. In like 
maimer, when a ptmitent hates sin only with a 
weak, though true contrition, he forms the resolu- 
tion to sin no more ; l)ut when he hates it with a 
rooted aud vigorous contrition, he not only detests 
the sin, l)ut also the ailections, connections, and 
occasions which lead towards it. AVe must, llicn, 
Philothea, enlarge our contrition as nuich as pos- 
sible ; we must extend it to everything tiiat has 
the least relation to sin. Thus Magdalen, in her 
convei'sion, lost so ellectually the taste of (he 
pleasure she had taken in her sins as nev(>r to 
think of them more. And David })rotcsted, not 


only his abhorrence of sin, but also of all the ways 
and paths that lead toit. -— Ps. xxviii. 104. In 
this point consists the soul's growing young again, 
which he beautifully compares to the renewing of 
the eao;le. — Ps, vii. 5. 

Now, in order to obtain this perfect contrition 
you must diligently exercise yourself in the fol- 
lowing meditations, which, by the help of God's 
grace, will eradicate from your heart both sin and 
the aff'ection to sin. As it is for this purpose I 
have composed them, use them in the order I 
have placed them, taking but one for each day, 
and that, if possible, in the morning, which is the 
best time for spiritual exercises ; and endeavor to 
ruminate on them during the rest of the day. But 
if you be not as yet accustomed to meditation, read 
what shall be said on this subject in the Second 



SOLACE yourself in the presence of God. 2. 
^^ Beseech him to inspire you. 


1. Consider that so many years ago you were 
not yet in the world, and that your being was a 
mere nothing. Where were we. O my soul I at 


that time? The world had then histed so long, 
and we were not known. 

2. God has drawn you out of this nothing, to 
make you what you now are, merely out of his 
own pure goodness, having no need of 3'ou what- 

3. Consider the being that God has given you ; 
it is the greatest in this visible world, capable of 
eternal life, and of being perfectly united to his 
Divine Majesty. 


1. Humble yourself profoundly before God, 
saying from your heart, with the Psalmist, " O 
Lord ! my whole being is as nothing l)ef()re thee, 
and how hadst thou remembrance of me to create 
me?" Alas, my soul! thou wast ingulfed in 
that ancient nothing, and hadst yet been therein 
had not God drawn thee thence ; and what couldst 
thou have done hadst thou remained in such a 
state ? 

2. Return thanks to God. O my great and 
good Creator I how much am I oI)llged to thee, 
since thou hast vouchsafed to draw me out of 
nothing, and J)y thy mercy to make me what I am ? 
What can I ever do to bless thy holy name as I 
ought, and to render due thanks to thy inestimable 




3. Confound yourself. But, alas ! my Creator, 
instead of uniting myself to thee by loving and 
eerx'ing thee I have made myself a ivbcl by my 
disorderly affections, separating myself, and stray 
vng far away from thee to unite myself to sin, 


valuing thy goodness no more than if thou hadst 
not been my Creator. 

4. Cast yourself down before God. my soul! 
know that the Lord is thy God; it is he that has 
made thee, and not thou thyself. O God! I am 
the work of thy hands. 

Henceforward, then, I will take no compla- 
cency in myself, since, of myself, I am nothing. 
What hast thou to glory in, dust and ashes? or, 
rather, thou very nothing! Why dost thou exalt 
thyself? To humble myself, therefore, I resolve 
to do such and such things, to suffer such and such 
disgraces. I will change my life, I will hencefor- 
ward follow my Creator, and esteem myself highly 
honored by the being which he has given me, em- 
ploying it entirely in obedience to his will, by 
such means as I shall learn from my spiritual 


1. Give thanks to God. Bless thy God, my 
soul 1 and let all that is within me praise his holy 
name; for his goodness has drawn me forth, and 
his mercy has created me out of nothing. 2. Offer. 
O my God I I offer to thee the being thou has given 
me; from my heart I dedicate and consecrate it to 
thee. 3. Pray. O God! strengthen me in these 
affections and resolutions, holy Virgin Mary! 
recommend them to the mercy of thy Son, with all 
those for whom I ought to pray. 

Our Father. Ilail Mary. 

After your prayer, gather a little nosegay of devotion, to re- 
fresh you during the rest of the day. 






^f^LACE yourself in the presence of God. 2. 
^^- Beseech him to inspire you. 


1. God has not placed you in this world because 
he had need of you, for you are altogether unpro- 
fitable to him, but only to exercise his goodness in 
you, by giving you his grace and glory. To this 
end he has given you an understanding, to know 
him ; a memory, to be mindful of him ; a will, to 
love him ; an imagination to represent his benefits 
to yourself; eyes to behold his wonderful works ; 
a tongue, 'o praise him ; and so of the other 

2. Being created, and placed in the world for 
this end, all actions contrary to it are to be re- 
jected, and whatever conduces not to it, ought to 
be condemned as vain and sr.pei-fluous. 

3. Consider the wretchedness of worldlings, 
who never think of their end, but live as if tliey 
believed themselves created for no other purpose 
than to build houses, plant trees, heap up riches, 
%nd amuse themselves with such like fooleries. 


1. Confound yourself, and reproach your soul 
»/ith her misery, which has been hitherto fco gnsai 


that she has seldom or never reflected on these 

Alas ! Of what was I thinking, O my God I 
when I thought not of thee ? What did I remem- 
ber when I forgot thee? What did I love when 
I loved not thee ? I ought, alas ! to have fed upon 
truth, and 3'et I glutted myself with vanity ; I 
served the world, which was created only to serve 

2. Detest your past life. O vain thoughts and 
unprofital)le amusements, I renounce you ! O 
hateful and frivolous remembrances, I abjure you ! 
O false and detestable friendships, lewd and 
wretched slaveries, miserable gratifications and 
irksome pleasures, I abhor you ! 

3. Return to God. O my God and my Saviour ! 
thou shalt henceforth be the sole object of my 
thoughts. I will no longer apply my mind to 
amusements which may be displeasing to thee. 
My memory shall be occupied all the days of my 
life with the recollection of the greatness of thy 
clemency, so sweetly exercised towards me ; thou 
shalt l)e the sole delight of my heart and the 
sweetness of my affections. 

Ah ! then the trifles and follies to which I have 
hitherto applied myself; those vain employments 
in which I have spent my days ; and those reflec- 
tions in which I have engaged my heart, shall 
henceforth be the ol)ject of my horror ; and with 
this intention I will use such and such effectual 



1. Thank God, who has created you for so ex- 
cellent an end. Thou hast made nie, O Lord ! for 
thyself, and for the eternal enjoyment of thy 
incomprehensible glory ! O when shall I be worthy 
of it ! When shalf I bless thee as I ought ? 2. Offer. 
I ort'er to thee, O dear Creator ! all these atlections 
and resolutions, with my whole heart and soul. 3. 
Pray. I beseech thee, O God ! to accept these my 
desires and purposes, and to give thy blessing to 
my soul, that it may be able to accomplish them, 
through the merits of the l)lood of thy blessed Son 
shed for me upon the cross. 

Our Fatlier. Hail Mary. 

Make a little nosegay of devotion. 




^f^LACE yourself in the presence of God. 2. 
^^' Beseech him to inspire you. 


1. Consider the corporal benefits which God 
has Ijcstowed on you : what a body ! what conven- 
iences to maintain it ! what health ! what lawful 
comforts for its u^^. "iid recreations for its sup- 


port ! what friends and what assistances ! How 
different is the situation of so man}' other persons, 
more worthy than yourself, who are destitute of 
these blessings ! Some are disabled in their bodies, 
their health, or their limbs ; others abandoned, and 
exposed to reproaches, contempt, and infamy ; 
others oppressed with poverty ; whilst God has 
not suffered you to become so miserable. 

2, Consider the gifts of the mind. How many 
are there in the world stupid, frantic, or mad, and 
why are not you of this number? Because God 
has favored you. How many are there who have 
been brought up rudely, and in gross ignorance? 
and you, by God's providence, have received a 
good and liberal education. 

3. Consider the spiritual graces. O Philothea ! 
you are a child of the Catholic Church ; God has 
taught you to know him, even from your child- 
hood. How often has he given you his sacia- 
ments? How many internal illuminations and 
reprehensions for your amendment? How fre- 
quently has he pardoned your faidts ? How often 
has he delivered you from those dangers of eternal 
perdition to which you were exposed? And were 
not all these years past given you as so many 
favorable opportunities of working out your salva- 
tion? Consider a little, by descending to partic- 
ulars, how sweet and gracious God has been to 


1. Admire the o-oodness of God. O how jjood 
is my God to me ! O how good indeed ! How 
rich is thy heart, O Lord, in mercy, and liberal in 


clemency ! O my soul ! let us recount forever the 
many favors he has done us. 

2. Wonder at your ingnithude. But what am 
I, O Lord ! that thou shouldst have ])een so mindful 
of me ? Ah ! how great is my un worthiness ! Alas ! 
I have trodden thy blessings under foot. I have 
abused thy graces, perverting them to the dishonor 
and contempt of thy sovereign goodness. 1 have 
opposed the abyss of my ingratitude to the abj'ss 
of thy bounty and favors. 

3. Excite yourself to make an acknowledgment. 
Well, then, O my heart ! resolve now to be no 
more unfaithful, ungrateful, or disloyal to thy 
great benefactor. And how? Shall not my soul 
be henceforth AvhoUy subject to God, who has 
wrought so many wonders and graces in me and 
for me? 

4. Ah ! withdraw then your body, Philothea, 
from such and such sensual pleasures, and conse- 
crate it to the service of God, who has done so 
much for it. Apply your soul to know and ac- 
knowledge him by such exercises as are requisite 
for that purpose. Employ diligently those means 
which are in the Church to help you to save your 
soul and love God. Yes, O my God ! I will be 
diligent in frequenting prayer and the sacraments ; 
I will listen to thy holy word, and put thy inspira- 
tions and counsels in practice. 


Thank God for the knowledge which he has now 
given you of your duty, and for all the benefits 
which you have hitherto received. 2. Off(;r him 

ON SIN. 29 

your heart, with all your resolutions. 3. Pray 
that he would 2:ive you strength to practise them 
faithfully, throuuh the merits and death of his Di- 
vine Son. Implore the intercession of the blessed 
Virgin and of the saints. 

Our Father. Hail Mary. 
Make a little spiritual nosegay. 




UNLACE yourself in the presence of God. 2. 
'^^- Beseech him to inspire you. 


1. Call to mind how long it is since you began 
to sin, and reflect how much, since that time, sin 
has multiplied in your heart ; how every day you 
have increased the number of your sins against 
God, your neighbor, and yourself, by work, by 
word, or by desire. 

2. Consider your evil incHnations, and how far 
you have followed them ; and by these two points 
you shall discover that your sins are more numer- 
ous than the hairs of your head, yea, than the 
sands of the sea. 


S. Oonsmer in particular tne sm or Rigratitude 
against God, which is a general sin, that extends 
itself over all the rest, and makes them infinitely 
more enormous. Consider then how many bene- 
fits God has bestowed on you, and how you have 
abused theni all, by turning them against the 
giver. Reflect in particular how many inspira- 
tions you have despised, how many good motions: 
you have rendered unprofitable, and, above all^ 
how many times you have received the sacraments^ 
and where are the fruits of them? What are be^ 
come of those precious jewels wherewith your deai 
spouse has adorned you? All these have been 
buried under your iniquities. With what prep- 
aration have you received them? Think on this 
injT^ratitude : that God havins; run so often after 
you, to save you, you have always run from him 
to lose yourself. 


1 . Be confounded at your misery. O my God ! 
how dare I appear in thy presence? I am, alas ! 
out the corruption of the world; a sink of ingrati- 
mde and inicjuity. Is it possible that I should have 
been so ungrateful as not to have left any one of 
the senses of iny body, or of the powers of my 
soul, which 1 have not corrupted, violated, and de- 
filed, and that not so much as one day of my life has 
passed which has not produced its wicked efl'ects? 
Is this the rciturn I should have made for tlu; bene- 
fits of my Creator and the ])lood of my Ivedeemer? 

2. Crave pardon, and cast yourself at the feet 
of our Lord, like the prodigal son, like Magda- 


leri, or like a woman who has defiled her marriage 
bed with all kind of adultery. Have mercy, O 
Lord, upon this poor sinner ! Akis ! O living 
fountain of compassion ! have pity on this mis- 
erable wretch. 

3. Resolve to live better. No, O Lord ! never 
more, with the help of thy grace, never more 
will I abandon myself to sin. Alas ! I have al- 
ready loved it too much ; I detest it now, and I 
embrace thee. O Father of mercies ! I resolve 
to live and die in thee. 

4. To expiate my past sins, I will accuse my- 
self of them courageously, and will banish every 
one of them from my heart. 

5. I will use all possible endeavors to eradi- 
cate the sources of ihem from my heart ; and in 
particular such and such vices to which I am 
most inclined. 

6. To accomplish this, I will fervently em- 
brace the means which I shall be advised to 
adopt, and will think that I have never done 
enough to repair such grevious offences. 


Eeturn thanks to God for waiting for you till 
this hour, and bless him for having given you 
these good affections. 2. Offer him your heart, 
that you may put them in execution. 3. Implore 
him to strengthen you. 

Our Father. Hail Mary. 
Make a spiritual nosegay. 





SOLACE yourself in the presence of God 2. 
■A^"^ Beseech him to inspire you by his grace. 3. 
Imagine yourself to be in the extremity of sick- 
ness, lying on your death-bed, without any hope 
of lecovery. 


1 . Consider the uncertainty of the da/ of your 
■death. O my soul ! thou shalt one day depart 
out of this body ! but Avlien shall the time be ? 
Shall it be in winter or in summer? In the city 
or in the country? By day or l)y night? Shall it 
•be suddenly or after due preparation ? By sick- 
ness or by accident? Shalt thou have leisure to 
make thy confession ? Shalt thou be assisted by 
thy spiritual father? Alas! of all this we know 
nothing; one thing only is certain: we shall die, 
and sooner than we imagine. 

2. Consider that then the world shall end for 
you, for it shall last no longer to you ; it shall be 
reversed before your eyes ; for then the pleas- 
ures, the vanities, the worldly joys, and vain 
aflections, of your life shall seem like empty 
shadows and airy clouds. Ah, wretch ! for what 
toys and deceitful vanities have I oflended my 
^od? You shall then see that, for a mer« 


nothing, you have forsaken him. On the other 
hand, devotion and good works will then seem 
to you sweet and delightful. Oh, why did I not 
follow this lovely and pleasant path? Then the 
sins which before seemed very small will appear as 
large as mountains, and your devotion very small. 
2. Consider the long and languishing farewell 
which your soul shall then give to this poor 
world? She shall then bid adieu to riches, vani- 
ties, and vain company; to pleasures, pastimes, 
friends, and neighbors ; to kindred, children, 
husband, and wife; in a word, to every crea- 
ture ; and finally to her own body, which she 
shall leave pale, ghastly, hideous, and loathsome. 

4. Consider with what precipitancy they will 
carry oft' this l)ody to bury it under the earth ; 
after which the world will think no more of 
you than you have thought of others. "The 
peace of God be with him," shall they say, and 
that is all. O death ! how void art thou of re- 
gard or pity ! 

5. Consider how the soul, being departed from 
the body, takes her flight to the right hand or 
to the left. Alas ! whither shall yours go ? 
what way sh.all it take? No other than that 
which it began here in this Avorld. 


1. Pray to God, and cast yourself into his arms. 
A-h ! receive me, O Lord ! into thy protection at 
that dreadful day ; make that hour happy and 
favorable to me ; and rather let all the other days 
of my life be sad and sorrowful. 


5. Despise the world. Since then I know not 
the hour in which I must leave thee, O wretched 
world ! I will no more set my heart on thee. O 
my dear friends and relations ! pardon me if I 
iove you no more, but with a holy friendship, 
which may last eternally ; for why should 1 unite 
myself to you, since I shall be one day forced to 
break those ties asunder? 

I will then prepare myself for that hour, and 
take all possible care to end this journey happily ; 
I ^v\\\ secure the state of my conscience to the 
best of my power, and will form immediate and 
efficacious resolutions for the amendment of 
such and such defects. 


Give thanks to God for these resolutions which 
he has given you. Offer them to his Divine 
Majesty. Beseech him to grant you a happy 
death, through the merits of the death of his 
beloved Son ; implore the assistance of the blessed 
Virgin and the saints in heaven. 

Our Father. Hail Mary. 
Make a nosegay of myrrh. 




SOLACE yourself before God. 2. Beseech him 
-^^ to inspire you. 


1. After the time God has prescribed for the 
duration of this Avorld ; after many dreadful signs 
and i)resages, which shall cause men to wither 
away through fear and apprehension ; a fire, raging 
like a torrent, shall burn and reduce to ashes the 
whole face of the earth ; nothing that exists shall 
escape its fury. 

2. After this delus^e of flames and of thunderbolts, 
all men shall rise from their graves, excepting such 
as are already risen, and at the voice of the angel 
they shall appear in the valley of Josaphat. But, 
alas ! with what difference ! for some shall arise 
with glorious and resplendent ])odies ; others in 
bodies most hideous and frightful. 

3. Consider the majesty with which the Sover- 
eign Judge will appear, surrounded by all the 
angels and saints. Before him shall be borne his 
cross, shining mrre brilliantly than the sun; a 
standard of mercy to the good, and of rigor to the 

4. This Sovereign Judsre, ])y his awful com- 
mand, which shall be suddenly executed, shall 
separate the good from the bad, placing the one at 


his right hand, and the other at his left. O ever- 
lasting separation, after wliich tliese two companies 
shall never more meet together ! 

5. This separation being made, and the book of 
conscience opened, all men shall clearly see the 
malice of the wicked, and their contempt of divine 
grace ; and, oii the other hand, the penitence of the 
good, and the effect of the grace which they have 
received ; for nothing shall be hidden. O good 
God ! what confusion will this be to the one, and 
what consolation to the other ! 

6. Consider the last sentence of the wicked ; 
"Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting tire, 
which was prepared for the devil and his angels." 
Ponder well these awful w^ords. " Depart from me." 
A sentence of eternal bsmishment against those 
miserable wretches, excluding them from his pres- 
ence for all eternity. He calls them cursed. O 
my soul, what a curse ! a general curse, including 
all manner of evils ! — a general curse, which com- 
prises all time and eternity ! He adds, " into ever- 
lasting tire ! " Behold, O my heart ! this vast eter- 
nity. O eternal eternity of pains, how dreadful art 
thou ! 

7. Consider the contrary sentence of the good. 
''Come," saith tli(! Judge. O the sweet word of 
salvation, by which (lod draws us to himself, and 
receives us into the ])()som of his goodness ! "\e 
blessed of my Father." O dear blessing, whicn 
comprises all blessings! "Possess the kingdom 
prej)are(l for you from the foundiition of the world." 
() good God ! wliMt an excess of bounty ! for this 
kiuirdouj shall never have an end. 



1. Tremble, O my soul ! at the remembrance of 
these things. O my God ! who shall secure me 
in that day when the pillars of heaven shall tremble 
for fear ! 

2. Detest your sins, which alone can condemn 
on that dreadful day. 

Ah ! I will judge myself now that I may not be 
judged then ! I will examine my conscience, and 
condemn myself; I will accuse myself, and amend 
my life, that the eternal Judge may not condemn 
me on that dreadful day. I will, therefore, confess 
ny sins, and receive all necessary advice. 


Thank God, who has given you the means of 
providing for your security at that day, and tune 
to do j)enance. Oifer him your heart to perform 
it. Beg of him to give you the grace duly to 
accom])lish it. 

Our Father. Hail Mary. 
Make your spiritual nosegay. 





J^LACE yourself in the presence of God. 2. 
^~^ Humble yourself, and implore his assistance. 
3. Represent to yourself a city involved in dark- 
ness, burning with brimstone and stinking pitch, 
and full of inhabitants who cannot make their es- 


1. The damned are in the abyss of hell, as 
within a woful city, where they suffer unspeakable 
torments in all their senses and members, because 
as they have employed all their senses and their 
members in sinning, so shall they suffer in each of 
them the punishment due to sin. The eyes for 
lascivious looks shall endure the horrible slight of 
devils and of hell. The ears, for having taken 
delight in vicious discourses, shall hear nothing 
but wailings, lamentations, desperate hoAvlings ; 
and so of the rest. 

2. Besides all these torments, there is yet a 
greater, which is the privation and loss of the glory 
of God, from the sight of which the danmcd are 
excluded for ever. Now, if Absalom found the 
privation of the amiable, iace of his father, David, 
more grievous to him than his banishment, good 
God ! what grief will it cause to be forever excluded 

ON HELL. 39 

from the sight of thy most sweet and gracious 
comiteiiance ? 

3, Consider, above all, the eternity of those 
pains, which alone makes hell insupportable. 
Alas ! if a little insect in your ear, or the heat of 
a fever, makes one short night seem so long and 
tedious, how terrible will the night of eternity be, 
accompanied with so many torments ! From this 
eternity proceed eternal despair, infinite rage, and 
blasphemies, etc. 


Terrify your soul with the words of the prophet 
Isaiah. O my soul ! art thou able to dwell with 
this devouring lire ? Canst thou endure to dwell 
with everlasting burning? Canst thou think of 
parting with thy God forever? 

Confess that you have often deserved it. But 
henceforward I will take a new course ; for why 
should I go down into this bottomless pit ? I will 
use such and such endeavors to avoid sin, which 
alone can bring me to this eternal death. Give 
thanks, offer, pray. 

Our rather. Hail Mary. 





II^LACE yourself in the presence of God. 2. 
^^' Beseech him to ins})ire you with his grace. 


1. Consider a fair and clear night, and reflect 
how delightful it is to behold the sky bespangled 
with all that nndtitude and variety of stars ; then 
join this beautiful sight with that of a line day, so 
that the brightness of the sun may not prevent the 
clear view of the stars nor of the moon ; and then 
say boldly that all this beauty })ut together is 
nothing when com])ared with the excellence of the 
great heavenly ])aradise. O how lovely, how de- 
sirable is this place I O how precious is this city ! 

2. Consider the glory, the beauty, and the mul- 
titude of the inhabitants of this hap])y country; 
millions of millions of angels, of chcrul)in and ser- 
aphin ; choirs of apostles, ])r()})licts, martyrs, con- 
fessors, virgins, and holy women; the nuiltitude is 
innumerable. () how glorious is this company ! 
the least of them is moi'c beautiful to behold than 
the whole world ; what a sight then will it l)e to 
behold them all ! Hut, () my (Jod ! how happy are 
they! they sing incessantly harmonious songs of 
eternal love I they always enjoy a state of felicity ; 


they mutually give each other unspeakable con- 
tentment, and live in the consolation of a happy, 
indissoluble society. 

3. In fine, consider how happy the blessed are 
in the enjoyment of God, who favors them for- 
evei with a sight of his lovely presence, and 
thereby infuses into their hearts a treasure of 
delights. How great a felicity must it be to be 
united to their first principle, their Sovereign Good. 
They are like happy birds, flying and singing 
perpetually in the air of his divinity, which en- 
compasses them on all sides with incredi])le pleas- 
ure. There every one does his utmost, and sings 
without envy the praises of his Creator. Blessed 
be thou forever, O sweet and sovereign Creator 
and Saviour, who art so good, and who dost com 
municate to us so liberally the everlasting treas 
ures of thy glory ! And blessed forever be you , 
says he, r\y beloved creatures, who have server' 
me so faithfully, with love and constancy ; behold 
you shall be admitted to sing my praises forever. 


1. Admire and praise this heavenly country, 

how beautiful art thou, my dear Jerusalem ! and 
how happy are thy inhabitants. 

2. Keproach your heart with the pusillanimity 
with which it has hitherto strayed so far out of 
the way of this glorious habitation. Oh ! why have 

1 wandered at so great a distance from my sover- 
eign happiness? Ah ! wretch that I am, for these 
false and trifling pleasures I have a thousand and 
« thousand times turned my back upon these pster- 


nal and infinite delights. Was I not mad to despist 
such precious blessings for gi'atifications so vain 
and contemptible ? 

8. Aspire with fervor to this most delightful 
abode. O good and gracious Lord ! since it has 
pleased thee at length to direct my wandering 
steps into thy ways, never hereafter will I return 
back from them. Let us go, O my dear soul ! 
let us walk towards this blessed land which is 
promised us: what are we doing in Egypt? I 
will therefore disburden myself of all such things 
as may divert or retard me in so happy a journey ; 
I will perform such and such things as may con- 
duct me thither. 

Give thanks, offer, pray. 

Our Father. Hail Mary. 






SOLACE yourself in tlie presence of God. 2. 
^^ Humble yourself l)cfore him, and beseech 
him to inspire you with iiis grace. 3. Imagine 
yourself to be in an open field, alone with your 
good ang(!l, like young Tobias going to Rages. 
Imagine that he shows you heaven open al)Ove, 
with all the pleasures represented in the last med'- 


tation ; and that then he shows you beneath hell 
open, with all the torments described in the medi- 
tation on hell. Being thus situated in imagi- 
nation, and kneeling before your good angel, 
make the following 


1. Consider that you are certainly placed be- 
tween heaven and hell ; and that both the one and 
the other lie open to receive you, according to the 
choice which you shall make. 

2. Consider that the choice which we make in 
this world shall last for all eternity in the world 
to come. 

3. And though both the one and the other be 
open to receive you according to your choice, yet 
God, who is ready to give you either the one by 
his justice, or the other by his mercy, wishes, 
nevertheless, with an incomparable desire, that 
you would choose heaven ; and your good angel 
also importunes you to it with all his power, of- 
fering you, in God's name, a thousand graces, and 
a thousand assistances to help you to obtain it. 

4. Con'iider that Jesus Christ in his clemency 
looks down upon you from above, and graciously 
invites you, saying, "Come, my dear soul, to en- 
joy an everlasting rest, within the arms of my 
goodness, where I have prepared immortal delights 
for thee in the abundance of my love." Behold 
likewise, with your interior eyes, the blessed 
Virgin, who with maternal tenderness exhorts you, 
saying, "Take courage, my child ; despise not the 
desires of my Son, nor the many sighs which \ 


have cast forth for thee, thirsting with him for thy 
eternal salvation." Behold the saints also exhort 
you, and millions of blessed souls sweetly invite 
you ; they wish for nothing more than to see your 
heart one day united with theirs in praising and 
loving God forever ; and assure you that the way 
to heaven is not so difficult as the world would 
persuade you. "Be of good heart, dear brother," 
say they ; " he that diligently considers the way of 
devotion by which we ascended hither, shall see 
that we acquired these inmiortal delights by pleas- 
ures incomparably more sweet than those of the 


1. O hell ! I detest thee now and forevermore ; 
I detest thy torments and pains ; I detest thy 
accursed and miserable eternity ; and above all, I 
detest those eternal blasphemies and maledictions 
which thou vomitest out against my God. And, 
turning my heart and my soul towards thee, O 
heavenly paradise, everlasting glory, and endless 
felicity ! I choose my habitation forever within 
thy holy and most lovely tabernacles. 1 bless thy 
mercy, O my God ! and I accept of the offer which 
thou art pleased to make me. O Jesus, my sweet 
Saviour ! I accept thy everlasting love, and the 
place which thou hast [lurchased for me in this 
l)lessed ,Ierusalem ; not so much for any other 
motive, as to love and bless thee forever and 

2. Acce])t the favors which the blessed Virgin 
and the saints olfcr you. Promise to make tiie 
beat of v:5ui^' ^voy to join their company ; and give 


your hand to your good angel, that he may coo- 
duct you ; encourage your soul to make this 

Our Father. Hail Mary. 





UNLACE yourself in the presence of God. 2. 
*^- Humble yourself before him, and implore his 


1. Imagine yourself again to be in an open field, 
alone with your good angel ; and that you see the 
devil on your left hand, seated on a lofty throne, 
attended by many hellish spirits, environed by a 
Qumerous band of worldlings, who submissively 
icknowledfife him for their lord, and do him 
homage, some by one sin, and some by another. 
01)serve the countenances of ail the wretched 
courtiers of this abominable king. Behold some 
of them transported with hatred, envy, and pas- 
sion ; others killing one another ; others consumed 
with cares, pensive and anxious to heap up riches ; 
others hpnt iii^on vanity, unable to ol)tain any but 
«mpty and unprofitable plb-asures ; others wallow- 


ing in the mire, buried and putrified in their 
brutish affections. Behold, there is no rest, no 
order, nor decency amongst them. Behold how 
they despise each other, and love in appearance 
only. In a word, you shall see a wretched com- 
monwealth, miserably tyrannized over by this 
cursed kin£ which wnll move you to compassion. 
2. On the right hand, behold Jesus Christ 
crucified, who, with a cordial love, prays for these 
poor enslaved people, that they may be freed from 
the sway of this tyrant; and calls them to himself; 
behold around him, a band of devout souls with 
their angels. Contemplate the beauty of this 
kingdom of devotion. Oh, what a sight ! to see 
this troop of virgins, men and women, whiter than 
lilies ; this assembly of widows, full of holy mor- 
tification and humility ! See the ranks of divers 
married people living together with mutual respect, 
which cannot be without great charity. Behold 
how these devout souls join the exterior cnre of 
the house with the care of the interior, the lo\e of 
the husband or wife with that of the heavenly 
Spouse. Consider them all universally, and you 
shall see them in a holy, sweet, and lovely order, 
uttending on our Lord, whom every one would 
willingly ])lant in the midst of his heart. They are 
joyful ; but it is with a comely, charital)le, and 
Well-ordered joy ; they love each other ; but their 
love is most pure and holy. Such as sufler atHic- 
lions amongst this devout j)eople, are perfectly re- 
signed, and never lose courage. To conclude, 
behold how they look on our Saviour, who com- 
forts them, and how they altogether aspire to him. 


3. You have already left Satan, with all his 
execrable troop, by the good aifections you have 
conceived ; but you have not as yet enrolled your- 
self under the standard of the King Jesus, nor 
united with his blessed company of devout souls, 
but you have been hitherto hesitating between the 
one and the other. 

4. The blessed Virgin, with St. Joseph, St. 
Lewis, St. Monica, and a hundred thousand others, 
who have lived in the midst of the world, invite 
and encourage you. 

5. The crucified King calls you by name : Come, 
O my well beloved ! come, that I may crown 
thee ! 


O world ! O abominable troop ! No, never shall 
you see me under your banners ! I have forever 
abandoned your trifles and vanities. O king of 
pride ! O accursed king ! infernal spirit ! I re- 
nounce thee with all thy vain pomps, I detest thee 
with all thy works. 

2. And, turning myself to thee, my dear Jesus I 
King of eternal glory and happinness ! I embrace 
thee with all the powers of my soul ! I adore thee 
with my whole heart, and choose thee now and for- 
ever for my king ; with this inviolable fidelity, I 
pay thee irrevocable homage, and submit myself 
to the obedience of thy holy laws and ordinances. 

.3. O sacred Virgin ! beloved Mother ! I choose 
thee for my guide, I put myself under thy pro- 
tection ; I offer thee a particular respect and spe- 
cial reverence. 

4. O my good Angel ! present me to this sacred 


assembly, and forsake me not till I am associated 
to this blessed com{)any, with whom I say, and 
will say forever in testimony of my choice, live 
Jesus, live Jesus ! 

Our Father. Hail Mary. 




^O^EHOLD here then, my dear Philothea, the 
J^ meditations necessary for our purpose. When 
you shall have made them all, proceed courage- 
ously in the spirit of humility to make your gen- 
eral confession ; but, I beseech you, suffer not 
yourself to be disturbed with any kind of appre- 
hension. The sting of the scorpion is poisonous ; 
but the scor})ion being reduced to oil, becomes a 
sovereign remedy against the venom of its own 
sting. Sin is shameful only when we conunit it ; 
but, being converted into confession and penance, 
it becomes honorable and wholesome, — contrition 
and confession being so beautiful and odoriferous 
as to efface its deformity and ])urify its stench. 
Simon the leper said that jMagd.-iicii was a sinner, 
but our Lord said no, alhidiiig to the sweet 
perfumes she jwured forth, and the greatness of 
her love. If we be very hunibl(\ Philothea, our sins 
will infinitely dis))lease us, biuauso (iod is offended 
by them ; but the accusjution of them will becoB"» 


sweet and agreeable, because God is honored 
thereby ; for it is a kind of comfort to acquaint the 
physician rightly with the nature of the evi\ that 
torments us. 

2. AVhen you kneel before your spiritual father, 
imagine that you are on Mount Calvary, under the 
feet of Jesus Christ crucitied, whose precious 
blood distils on all sides to Avash and cleanse you 
from your iniquities. For, though it be not the 
very blood of our Saviour, yet it is the merit of 
his blood shed for us that waters abundantly the 
soul of the penitent at the confession seat. Open 
then your heart perfectly, that you may cast out 
your sins by confession ; for, as fast as they depart 
from your heart, the precious merits of the passion 
of your Divine Saviour will enter in, to till it with 
his graces and blessings. 

3. But be sure to declare all with candor and 
sincerit3^ Having fully satisfied your conscience 
that you have done so, listen to the admonitions 
and ordinances of your confessor, and say in your 
heart, " Speak Lord ! for thy servant heareth." — 1 
Kings iii. 10. Yea, Philothea, it is God whora 
you hear ; since he has said to his vicegerents, " He 
that heareth you heareth me." — St. Luke x. 16. 

4. Afterwards make the following protestation, 
which may serve for a conclusion of your contri' 
tion, and on which you ought first to have medi- 
tated and reflected. Read it attentively, and with 
as much devotion as you possibly can. 




fN. N., in the presence of the eternal God, and 
» of the whole court of heaven, havmg considered 
the infinite mercy of his divine goodness towards 
me, a most unworthy and wretched creature, whom 
he has created out of nothing, preserved, sup- 
ported, and delivered from so many dangers, and 
loaded with so many benefits ; but considering, 
above all, the incomprehensible sweetness and 
clemency with which this merciful God has so 
graciously borne my iniquities ; so frequently 
called upon me and invited me to amendment, 
and so patiently waited for my repentance and 
conversion until this present time, notwithstanding 
the innumerable instances of ingratitude, dis- 
loyalty, and infidelity, l)y which I have despised 
his grace, rashly oftended him, and deferred my 
conversion from day to day ; having, moreover, 
reflected that upon the day of my hol}^ l)aptism I 
was dedicated to God, to be his child ; and that, 
contrary to the profession then made in my name, 
£ have so often, so execrably and detestably, pro- 
faned and violated all the powers of my soul and 
the senses of my l)ody, ai)plying and employing 
them against his divine majesty ; at length, 
returning to myself, prostrate in spirit before the 


throne of the divine justice, I acknowledge, avow, 
and confess myself lawfully attahited and convicted 
of treason ajjainst God, and a'uilty of the death 
and passion of Jesus Christ, on account of the sins 
I have connnittsd, for which he died and suffered 
the torment of the cross ; so that, consequently, I 
deserve to ])e cast away and condemned forever. 
But, turnino; myself towards the throne of the 
infinite mercy of the same eternal God, having 
detested with my whole heart and strenoth the 
many iniquities of my past life, I most humbly 
beg pardon, grace, and mercy, with an entire 
absolution from them, by virtue of the death and 
passion of this same Lord and Redeemer of my 
soul, on which relying, as on the only foundation 
of my hope, I confirm again and renew the sacred 
profession of allegiance to my God made in my 
behalf at my baptism; renouncing the devil, the 
world and the flesh ; detestinsj their base su^ijes- 
tions, vanities, and concupiscences during the resi- 
due of my mortal life, and for all eternity. And, 
turning myself towards my most gracious and 
merciful God, I desire, purpose, and am irrevo- 
cably resolved to serve and love him now and 
forever ; and to this end, I give and consecrate to 
him my soul with all its powers, my heart with 
all its affections, and my body with all its senses, 
protesting that I will never more abuse any part 
of my being against his divine will and sovereign 
majesty, to whom I offer up and sacrifice myself 
in spirit, to be forever his loyal, obedient, and 
faithful creature, without ever revoking or repent- 
ing of this my act and deed. 


But if, alas ! I should chance, through the 
suggestion of the enemy, or through human frailty, 
to transgress in any point, or fail in adhering to 
this my resolution and dedication, I protest from 
this moment, and am determined, with the assist- 
ance of the Holy Ghost, to rise as soon as I shall 
perceive my fall, and return again to the divine 
mercy, without any delay whatsoever. This is 
my inviolable and irrevocable will, intention, and 
resolution, which I declare and contirm without 
reservation or exception, in the sacred })resence of 
God, in the sight of the Church triumphant, and in 
presence of the (Church militant, my mother, which 
hears this my declaration in the person of him who, 
as her officer, hears me in this action. 

May it please thee, O my God ! eternal, al- 
mighty, and all-gracious Father, Son and Holy 
Ghost ! to contirm in me this resolution, and to 
accept this inward sacrifice of my heart, in the 
odor of sweetness. And as it hath pleased thee 
to inspire me with the will to do this, so grant me 
the strength and grace to i)erform it. O my God ! 
thou art my God, the God of my heart, the God 
of my soul, and the God of my spirit : as such I 
acknowledge and as such I adore thee now and 
forever. Live, O Jesus 1 




SLAVING made this protestation, open the ears 
»A. of your heart to hear the sentence of absoki- 
tion, which the Saviour of your soul, seated on the 
throne of his mercy, will pronounce before all the 
angels and saints in heaven, at the same instant 
that the priest, in his name, absolves you here 
upon earth ; so that all this blessed company, 
rejoicing at your conversion, will sing a spiritual 
canticle with incomparable joy, and each of them 
give the kiss of peace and fellowship to your 
heart, now restored to grace and sanctity. 

Good God ! Philothea ! what an admirable 
contract, what a happy treaty do you here enter 
into with the divine Majesty ! By giving your- 
self to him, you not only receive himself in ex- 
change, but eternal life also. Nothing, therefore, 
further remains but cheerfully to sign, with a 
sincere heart, the act of your protestation ; then 
approach with confidence to the altar, where God 
will reciprocally sign and seal your absolution, 
and the promise he makes you of his heavenly 
kingdom, putting himself, m the blessed sacra- 
ment, as a seal or signet upon your renovated 

Thus shall your soul, O Philothea ! l)e not only 
purged from sin, but from the affections thereto. 
But as these affections easily spring up again in 


the soul, as well through the weakness of depraved 
nature as through concupiscence, which may be 
mortitied, but can never die whilst we dwell in 
this mortal body, I will give you some instruc- 
tions, which, if diligently practised, will preserve 
you so effectually from mortal sin and all affection 
to it, that they will never iind place in your heart 
hereafter ; but, in order that they may contril)ute 
to a still more perfect purification, I will previously 
say something of that absolute purity to which I 
am desirous of conducting you. 





^J^S at the approach of daylight we perceive 
i^^ more clearly in a mirror the s}jots and stains 
that disfigure our faces, so, as the inward light of 
the Holy Spirit more and more enlightens our 
consciences, we see in a more distinct and clear 
manner the sins, inclinations, and imperfections 
which prevent us from attaining to true devotion , 
and the same light which enables us to perceive 
Ihose spots and blemishes infiamcs us with a desire 
to cleanse and purify ourselves from them. 

You will, then, discover, my dear Philothea, 
that, besides mortal shis and the affection to them, 
from which you have been purified by the fore- 


going exercises, there still remain in your soul 
several inclinations and affections to venial sins. I 
do not say that you shall discover the venial sins 
themselves, but your affections and inclinations to 
them ; because the one is very different from the 
other ; for although we can never be altogether so 
pure from venial sins as to continue for a long 
time without committing them^ yet we need not 
entertain any voluntary affection for tliem. Surely 
it is one thing to tell a lie now and then in jest, 
or in matters of small importance, and another to 
take pleasure in lying, and retain an affection for ii 
on every occasion. 

I therefore say that we must purge the soul 
from every affection to venial sins ; that is to say, 
we must not voluntarily nourish the desire of 
persevering in any kind of venial sm, be it ever so 
small ; because it displeases God, though not to 
that degree as to cause him to cast us off or damn 
us for it. Now, if venial sm offends him, the will 
and affection which we retain to venial sin is no 
better than a resolution to entertain the desire of 
displeasing his divme Majesty ; but is it possible 
that a generous soul should not only consent to 
offend her God, but also to retain with affection 
the desire of offending him? 

Such affections, Philothea, are as directly op- 
posite to devotion as an affection to mortal sin is 
contrary to charity ; they depress and weaken the 
spirit, prevent divine consolations, open the gate 
to temptations, and although they kill not, yet 
they make the soul extremely sick. " Dying flies," 
says the wise man, " spoil the sweetness of the oint- 


ment." — Eccles. x. 1. His meaning is, that flies 
which stay not long upon the ointment, ])ut only 
taste it in passing by, spoil no more than they take, 
the rest remaining sound ; but those wliich die in the 
ointment, deprive it of its sweetness. Thus venial 
sins, which come upon a devout soul, and stay not 
long there, do it no great damage ; but if they 
dwell in it by afiection, they make it lose the 
sweetness of ointment, that is, holy devotion. 

Spiders kill not the bees, but they spoil and 
corrupt their honey, and so entangle the honey- 
combs with their web that the bees cannot go 
forward in their work ; now tl»is is to be under- 
stood when the spiders make any stay among 
them. In like manner, venial sin kills not the 
soul, but it spoils devotion and entangle!^" the 
powers of the soul so much with bad habits and 
vicious inclinations, that she can no longer exert 
that promptitude of charity in which devotion con- 
sists, but this also is to be understood, when venial 
sin continues to dwell in our hearts, by the affec- 
tion with which we cherish it. 

It is not a matter of great consequence, Philo- 
thea, to tell some trifling lie, to fall into some 
little irregularity in words, in actions, in looks, in 
dress, in mirth, in play, in dancing, provided that 
as soon as these spiritual spiders ai-e entered into 
our conscience we chase and drive them away, as 
the bees do the corporal spiders ; but if we permit 
them to remain in our hearts, if we cherish the 
desire of retaining and nniHiplying Iheni, we shall 
soon And our honey destroyed, and the hive of our 
conscience corrupted and ruined. ^\Jx ^ say once 


more, what probability is there that a generous 
soul should take pleasure in displeasuig her God, 
or affect what would be disagreeable to him, or 
willingly do that which she knows would give him. 
offence ? 




l^LAY, dancing, feasting, dress, and theatrical 
-^^ shows, being things which, considered in their 
substance, are not evil, but indifferent, and such as 
may be used either well or ill ; nevertheless, as all 
these things are dangerous, to bear an affection to 
them is still more dangerous. I say then, Philo- 
thea, that although it be lawful to play, to dance, 
to dress, to feast, or to be present at innocent 
comedies,^ yet to have an affection to such things 
is not only contrary to devotion, but also extremely 
hurtful and dangerous. The evil does not consist 
in doing such things, but in a fond attachment to 
them. Ah, what a pity to sow, in the soil of our 
heart, such vain and foolish affections, which take 
up the room of good impressions, and hinder the 

_ ' It is not the meaiiinur of the saint in this passag-e to justify the as- 
sisting at any sucli comedies, or other plays, as have a tendency to en- 
coura<,'e vice, or irreliuion ; or which serve to inflame the passions, to 
enervate the soul, and to dispose her to impure love, which is too oiten. 
the case with our modern plays. For such as these the holy prelate- 
would by no means allow to be innocent, but i-ather would loudly con* 
iemn them, as the holy fathers and saints have always done. 


sap of our soul from being employed in good in- 
clinations ! 

Thus the ancient Nazareans abstained not only 
from whatever might inebriate, but also from the 
grape itself; not from an apprehension that the 
grape could intoxicate them, but lest by tasting 
the grape they might be tempted to drink of the 
wine also. Now, 1 do not say that we can never 
use these dangerous things, but I affirm that we can 
never set our aflections ui)on them without preju- 
dice to devotion. As the stags, when grown too 
fat, retire into their thickets, because, being en- 
cumbered with flesh, they know that they are not 
in a condition to run, should they be hunted, so 
the heart of man, burdening itself with these un- 
profitable, superfluous, and dangerous aflections, 
cannot certainly run after its God, the true point 
of devotion, readily, lightly, and easily. Let 
children please and fatigue themselves with pursu- 
ing butterflies, yet no one finds fault with them, 
because they are children ; but is it not ridiculous, 
or rather lamentalde, to see persons advanced ir» 
years fix their heart and aflections upon such toys 
and trifles as those which I have named, which are 
not only unprofitable, but which put us in imminent 
danger of falling into many irregularities and dis- 
orders in the pursuit of them? Wherefore, my 
dear Philothea, I say, we must })urge ourselves 
from these aflections ; for though the acts are not 
always contrary' to devotion, yet the aflections are 
always prejudicial to it. 




F-E have, moreover, Philothea, certain natural 
^ inclinations, which, though they spring from 
our particuhir sins, yet are not properly sins, either 
mortal or venial, but are called imperfections ; and 
the acts which proceed from them are termed 
defects and failings. For example, St. Paula, 
according to St. Jerom, had so great an inclina- 
tion to sadness that at the death of her children 
and husband she was in danger of dying wMth 
grief. This was an imperfection, but not a sin, be- 
cause she had it against her will. 

There are some people who are naturally of a 
light, others of a morose temper; some of an 
obstinate disposition, others inclined to indigna- 
tion ; some prone to anger, others to love ; in 
short, there are few in whom we may not observe 
some of these imperfections. Now, although they 
are peculiar and natural to each of us, yet by care 
and a contrary atlection, we may not only correct 
and moderate them, but even altogether free our- 
selves from them; and I tell you, Philothea, it is 
necessary that you should do so. As a means has 
been discovered to change bitter almond trees into 
sweet, by piercing them at the bottom to let out 
the juice, why may not we let out the juice of our 
perverse inclinations, and become better? For as 
there is no nature, though never so good, which 


may not be perverted to evil by vicious habits, so 
there is no disposition, though never so perverse, 
that may not, hy the grace of God and our own 
industry, ])e brought under and overcome. 

Wherefore, I shall now proceed to give you 
such instructions, and propose such exercises as 
may help to purge your soul, as well from your 
imperfections as from all dangerous affection to 
venial sins, and secure your conscience more ef- 
fectually against all mortal sin. May God grant 
you the grace to reduce them to practice ! 

Part Secontr, 




5'^RAYER. places our understanding in the bright- 
^^- ness and light of God, and exposes our will to 
the heat of heavenly love. There is nothing that 
so eftectually purges our understanding from its 
ignorance, or our will from its depraved affections, 
as prayer. It is the water of benediction, which 
makes the plants of our good desires grow green 
and nourish, which washes our souls from their 
imperfections, and quenches the thirst of passion 
in our hearts. 

But, above all, I recommend to you mental 
prayer, or the prayer of the heart, and particu- 
larly that which has for its object the life and 
})assion of our Lord. By making him the fre- 
quent subject of your meditation, your whole sou\ 
will be replenished with him ; you will imbibe his 
spirit, and frame all your actions according to the 
model of his. As he is the light of the world, it 
is then in him, l)y him, and for him. that we ought 
to acquire lustre, and be enlightenea. He is the 


tree of desire, under Avhosc shadow we ought to 
refresh ourselves. lie is tlie living fountain of 
Jacob, in which we may wash away all our stains. 
In fine, as little children, l)y hearing their mothers 
talk, lisp at first, and learn at length to speak their 
language, so we, by keeping close to our Saviour, 
by meditation and observing his words, actions, 
and atfections, shall, by the help of his grace, 
learn to speak, to act, and to will like him. Here 
we must stop, Philothea, as we cannot find access 
to God the Father, but through this gate ; for, as 
the mirror could never terminate our sight, if the 
back of it were not tinned or leaded, so we could 
never contemplate the divinity in this world, had 
we not been united to the sacred humanity of our 
Saviour, whose life and death is the most delight- 
ful, sweet, and profitable object we can select for 
our ordinary meditation. It is not without reason 
that our Saviour called himself the bread that 
came down from heaven ; for, as bread is to be 
eaten with all sorts of meat, so our Saviour should 
be the subject of our meditation, consideration, 
and imitation, in all our })rayers and actions. His 
!ife and death have been for this purpose dis})oscd 
and distributed into distinct poirits, by several 
authors. Those whom I reconnnend to you are, 
St. Bonaveuture, Bellintani, Bruno, Capilia, Gra- 
nada, and I)u Pont. 

Employ an hour every day, l)cfore dinner, in 
this spiritual exercise, or, if convenient, early in 
the morn nig, when your mind will l)e less dis- 
tracted, and more fresh after the repose of the 
night ; but i*ee that vou extend it not beyond ai? 


hour, except with the advice of your spiritual 

If you could perform this exercise in the church,' 
it would be the most proper and commodious 
place possible, because neither father nor mother, 
wife nor husband, nor any one else, could well 
prevent you from spending one hour in the church ; 
whereas, being, perhaps, under their subjection, 
you could not promise yourself so much leisure 
at home. 

Begin all your prayers, whether mental or 
vocal, with a lively sense of the presence of 
God. By attending strictly to this rule, you will 
soon become sensible of its salutary effects. 

If you follow my advice, Philothea, you will 
say your Pater, Ave, and Qredo in Latin ; but at 
the same time learn perfectly to comprehend the 
meaning of the words in your native tongue, that, 
whilst you unite with the faithful in prayer, in the 
common language of the Church, you may at the 
same time relish the delicious sense of those holy 
and admirable prayers. Pray with your attention 
fixed, and your affections excited by the sense of 
the words ; pray deliberately and from your heart ; 
for, believe me, only one Oiw Father, said with 
feeling and affection, is of infinitely more worth 
and value than ever so great a number run over 
in haste. 

The recitation of the Beads or Rosary, is a 
most profitable way of praying, provided you 
know how to say them properly ; to this end, 
procure one of those little books which teach 
the manner of reciting them. It is good also, to 


say the litanies of our Lord Jesus, the Blesses 
Virgin, and of the Saints, and other vocai 
prayers, which may be found in approved man' 
uals. If, however, you have the gift of mental 
prayer, you should always give it the prefer- 
ence, so tliat if, either through multit)licity of 
business, or some other cause, you cannot say 
your vocal prayers, you must not be troubled on 
that account, but rest contended with saying, 
either before oi after your meditation, the Pater^ 
Ave, and Credo. 

If, whilst at vocal prayer, you feel your heart 
inclined to mental prayer, refuse not tiie invita- 
tion, but let your mind turn gently that way, 
without being concerned at not finishing the 
vocal prayers you purpose to say ; for the choice 
you have made is more pleasing to God, anJ 
more profitable to your soul ; with this exception, 
however, that if you are bound to say the office 
of the Church, you must fulfil your obligation. 

Should it happen, through a pressure of busi- 
ness, or some accidental cause, that your morning 
should pass away without allowing you leisure 
for the exercise of mental prayer, endeavor to 
repair this loss at some remote hour after dinner; 
because by doing it immediately after, before 
digestion is advanced, besides being heavy and 
drowsy, you will injure your health. 

But if, in the whole course of the day, you can 
■find no leisure for this heavenly exercise, you 
may in some measure make amends by nmltiply- 
ing your ejaculatory prayers, reading some l)0()k; 
of devotion, or performing some penarce, which 


may prevent the ill consequences attending thia 
failure ; and make a firm resolution to repair your 
loss the following day. 




¥^UT perhaps, Philothea, you know not how to 
»^ pi'ay mentally, for it is a thing with which 
few in our age are so happy as to be acquainted. 
I therefore present you with the following short 
and plain method, till, by custom, or reading 
some of the good books which have been com- 
posed on this subject, you may be mora fully 

I shall begin with the preparation, which con- 
sists in placing yourself in the presence of God, 
and imploring his assistance. Now, to assist you 
to place yourself in the presence of God, I shall 
set before you four principal means. The first 
consists in a lively and attentive apprehension of 
his presence, in all things and in every j)lace ; for 
there is not a place in the world in which he is not 
truly present ; so that as birds, wherever they fly, 
always meet with the air, so we, wherever we go, 
or wherever we are, shall always find God present. 

Every one acknowledges this truth ; but few 
consider it with a lively attention. Blind men, 


who see not their prhice, though present among 
them, behave themselves, neverthless, with re- 
spect, when they are tokl of his presence ; but 
the fact is, because they see him not, they easily 
forget that he is present, and, having forgotten 
it, they still more easily lose their respect for 
him. Alas, Philothea, we do not see God, who 
is present with us ; and, though faith assures us 
of his presence, yet, not beholding him Avith our 
eyes, we too often forget him, and behave our- 
selves as thouo-h he were at a distance from us ; 
for, although we well know that he is present in 
all things, yet, not reflecting on it, we act as it' 
we knew it not. Therefore, before prayer, we 
must always excite in our souls a lively appre- 
hension of the presence of God, such as David 
conceived when he exclaimed : " If I ascend up 
into heaven, O my God, thou art there ; if I 
descend into hell, thou art there ! " — Ps. exxxviii. 
And thus we should use the words of Jacob, who 
having seen the sacred ladder, said : " Oh, how 
terrible is this place ! Indeed the Lord is in this 
place, audi knew it not." — Gen. xxxviii., meaning 
that he did not reflect on his presence, for he 
could not be ignorant that God was present every- 
where. When, therefore, you come to prayer, 
you must say with your whole heart, and in your 
heart: "O my heart! be attentive, for God is 
truly here." 

The second means to place yourself in his sa- 
cred presence, is to reflect that God is not only 
in the place in whi<'li you are, but that he is, in 
a most particular manner, in your heart ; nay. in 


the very centre of your spirit, which he enlivens 
and animates by his divine presence, being there 
as the heart of your heart, and tlie spirit of your 
spirit ; for, as the soul, being diffused through 
the whole body, is present in every part thereof, 
and yet resides in a special manner in the heart, 
so likewise God is present to all things, yet he 
resides in a more particular manner in our spirit ; 
for which reason David calls him "the God of his 
heart." — Ps. Ixxii. And St. Paul says, " that it is 
in God we live, and we move, and we are." — Acts 
xvii. In consideration, therefore, of this truth, 
excite in your heart a profound reverence towards 
God, who is there so intimately present. 

A third means is to consider our Saviour in 
his humanity looking down from heaven on all 
mankind, but especially on Christians, who are 
his children ; and more particularly on such as 
are at prayer, whose actions and behavior he 
minutely observes. This is by no means a mere 
flight of the imagination, but a most certain truth ; 
for although we see him not, yet it is true that he 
beholds us from above. It was thus that St. 
Stephen saw him at the time of his martyrdom. 
So that we may truly say with the Spouse : " Be- 
hold he standeth behind our wall, looking through 
the windows, looking through the lattices." — 
Cantic. ii. 

A fourth method consists in making use of the 
imagination, by representing to ourselves our 
Saviour in his sacred humanity, as if he were near 
us, as we sometimes imagine a friend to be present, 
saving, "Methiuks I see him," or something of the 


kind. But when you are before the Blessed 
Sacrament, this presence is real and not imag^ 
inary, since we must consider the species and 
appearance of In-ead only as a ta})estry behind 
which our Lord, being really present, observes us, 
though we cannot actually see him. Employ then 
some of these four means of placing yourself in 
the presence of God before pra}'er, not all at once, 
but one at a time, in as concise and simple a 
manner as possible. 



^p^EIXG sensible that you are in tlie presence of 
'-^^ God, prostrate yourself before him with the 
most profound reverence, acknowledging yourself 
unworthy to ai)pcar l)cfore so sovereign a majesty ; 
yet knowing that it is his divine will that you 
should do so, implore his grace to servo and 
worship him in this meditation. For this end you 
may use some short and inflamed asi)irations, such 
as these words of David : " ('ast lutMiot, O God ! 
away from thy face ; and take not thy Holy S})irit 
from me. Make tiiy liuc! to shine upon thy ser- 
vant, and I will consider the wondrous things of 
thy law. Give me understanding, and I will search 
vhy law, and I will keej) it with my whole heart. 
I am thy servant ; give me understanding." — Ps, 


c. viii. I would also advise you to invoke your 
guardian angel, as well as the holy saints who 
were concerned in the mystery on which you 
meditate. For example, in meditating on the 
death of our Lord, you may invoke the Blessed 
Virgin, St. John, St. Mary jNIagdalen, and the 
good thief, begging that the holy aftections which 
they then conceived may be communicated to 
you. Also, in meditating on your own death you 
may invoke your good angel, who will then be 
with you, beseeching him to inspire you with 
proper considerations ; and so of other mysteries. 





FTER these two general points of the prepara- 
tion, there remains a third, which is not 
common to every kind of meditation, and which 
consists in representing to your imagination the 
whole of the mystery on wdiich vou desire to 
meditate, as if it really passed in your presence. 
For example, if you meditate on the crucifixion of 
our Lord, imagine that you are on Mount Calvary, 
and that you there behold and hear all that was 
done or said at the time of our Lord's passion ; 
or, if you prefer it, imag-ine that they are crucify- 


ing our Saviour in the very place in Avhich you 
are, in the manner described by the holy evange- 

The same rule is to be observed when you 
meditate on death, or hell, or any mystery in 
which visible and sensible objects form a part of 
the subject ; but as to other mysteries, such, for 
example, as relate to the greatness of God, the 
excellency of virtue, the end for which we were 
created, etc., which are invisible things, Ave cannot 
make use of the imagination. We may, it is true, 
use some similitude or comparison to assist us in 
the consideration of these subjects, but this is 
attended with some difficulty ; and my intention is 
to instruct you in so plain and easy a manner, that 
your mind may be at perfect ease. By means of 
the imagination we confine our mind within the 
mystery on which we meditate, that it may not 
ramble to and fro, just as we shut up a ])ird in a 
cage, or tie a hawk by her leash, that she may 
rest on the hand. Some may perhaps tell you 
that it is better to use the simple thought of faith, 
and to conceive the subject in a manner altogether 
mental and s[)irituai in the representation of these 
mysteries, or else to imagine that the things take 
places in your own soul. But this method is too 
sublilc for beginners; therefore, until it shall 
please God to raise you higher, I advise you, 
Philothea, to remain in the low valley which I 
have shown you. 





^FTER the act of the imagination follows 
medication, or the act of the understanding, 
which consists in maki no- reflections and considera- 
tions, in order to raise up our ajSections to God 
and heavenly things. Hence meditation must not 
be confounded with study or other thoughts or 
reflections which have not the love of God or our 
spiritual welfare for their object ; but something 
else, as, for example, to acquire learning and 
knowledge, to write or dispute. Having, then, as 
I have already said, confined your mind within the 
limits of the subject on which you desire to medi- 
tate, either by means of the imagination, if the 
matter be sensible, or otherwise ]>y a simple 
proposal of it, begin to form considerations on it 
according to the models I have proposed to you 
in the foregoing meditations. Should you relish 
the fruit of any one of them, occupy yourself 
without going further, like the bees, who never 
quit the flower so long as they can extract any 
l^oney from it. But if, upon trial, j^ou succeed 
not with one consideration, accordino; to your 
wishes, proceed to another, calmly, tranquilly, 
without hurrying yourself or fatiguing your mind. 




^i^EDITATIOX produces pious -motions in the 
■A^ Avill, or artective part of our soul, such as 
the love of God and our neighbor ; a desire of 
heaven and eternal glory ; zeal for the salvation 
of souls ; imitation of the life of our Lord ; com- 
passion, admiration, joy ; the fear of God's dis- 
pleasure, of judgment, and of hell ; hatred of sin, 
confidence in the goodness and mercy of God, 
and confusion for the sins of our paet life. In 
these aftections our hearts should e?;pand as much 
as possible. You will be greatly assisted in this 
part of meditation by reading the preface to the 
first volume of the meditations of Dom Andrew 
Capilia, where he shows the manner of forming 
these aftections, as Father Arias does more at 
large in his second part of his treatise on prayer. 
Yet you must not, however, Phiiothea, dwell 
upon these general retlections without determining 
to reduce them to special and particular resolutions. 
For example ; the first word that our Lord spoke 
on the cross will doubtless excite in your soul a 
desire to })ardon and h)vc your enemies. But 
this will avail you little if you add not to the 
desire a practical resolution saying: "Well, then, 
I will not hereafter be ollcnded at what this or 
that person may say of me, nor resent any afiront 


he may offer me ; but, on the contrary, I will 
smbrace every opportunity to gain his aflection, 
and to appease him." By this means, Philothea, 
you will correct your faults in a short time^ 
whereas by affections only, your amendment will 
be but slow, and attended with great dilficulty. 



?f|^AST of all, we must conclude our meditation 
^^ by forming three acts, which must be done 
with the utmost humility. The tirst is to return 
thanks to God for the good affections and resolu- 
tions Avith which he has inspired us, and for his 
go()(hiess and mercy, which we have discovered 
in the mystery of the meditation. The second is 
to offer our affections and resolutions to his aood- 
ness and mercy, in union with the death, the 
blood, and the virtues of his Divine Son. The 
third is to conjure God to communicate to us the 
graces and virtues of his Son, and to bless our 
affections and resolutions, that we may faithfully 
reduce them to practice. We then pray for the 
Church, our pastors, friends, and others, im- 
ploring for that end the intercession of the 
Blessed Virgin, and of the angels and saints; 
and, lastly, us I have already observi^l, we con- 
clude by saying Our leather, and Hail Mary^ 


which are the general and necessary prayers of 
all the faithful. 

Besides all this, as I have already told you, 
you must gather a little nosegay of devotion. 
One who has been walking in a beautiful garden, 
departs not willingly without gathering a few 
flowers to smell during the remainder of the day ; 
thus ought we, when our soul has been entertain- 
ing itself by meditating on some mystery, to 
select one, or two, or three of those points in 
which we have found most relish, and which are 
most proper for our advancement, to think fre- 
quently on them, and smell them as it were 
spiritually during the course of the day. This 
is to be done in the place in which we have been 
meditating, either remaining there in silence, or 
walking by ourselves for some time after. 



^jW^BOVE all things, Philothea, when you rise 
'Ait fi-om meditation, remember the resolutions 
you have taken, and, as the occasion offers, care- 
fully reduce them to practice that very day. 
This is the o:r eat fruit of me ditation , without 
which it is not only unprofffalTIe, but froqucntl}' 
hurtful ; for virtues meditated upon, and not 
practised, often Dulf ui) the sjHrit, and make U5> 


imagine that we really are such as we resolve 
to be, which doubtless is true, when our resolu- 
tions are lively and solid ; now they are not so, 
but, on the contrary, vain and dangerous when 
they are not reduced to practice. We must, 
therefore, by all means, seek every occasion, little 
or great, of putting them in execution. For 
example : if I have resolved by mildness to gain 
the hearts of such as offend me, I will seek this 
very day an opportunity to meet them, and 
salute them kindly ; or, if I should not meet them, 
at least to speak well of them, and pray to God 
in their behalf. 

After prayer, be careful not to agitate your 
heart, lest you spill the precious balm it has re- 
ceived. My meaning is, that you must, for some 
time, if possible, remain in silence, and gently 
remove your heart from prayer to your other 
employments ; retaining, as long as you can, a 
feeling of the affections which you have con- 
ceived. A man who has received some precious 
liquor in a vase of porcelain, in carrying it 
home walks gently, not looking aside, but gen- 
erally before him, for fear of stumbling, and 
sometimes upon his dish, for fear of spilling the 
liquor. Thus ought you to act when you finish 
your meditation ; suffer nothing to distract you, 
but look forward with caution ; or, to speak more 
plainly, should you meet with any one with whom 
you are obliged to enter into conversation, there 
is no other remedy but to watch over your heart, 
that as little of the liquor of holy prayer as possi- 
ble may be Hpilt on the occasion. 


You must even accustom yourself to know 
how to pass from prayer to those occupations 
vvhich your state of life lawfully requires, though 
ever so foreign from the affections which you have 
received in })rayer. Thus the lawyer must learn 
to pass from [)rayer to pleading ; the merchant, to 
commerce ; and the married woman, to the care of 
her family, with so much ease and tranquillity tliat 
their minds may not be disturl^ed ; for, since prayer 
and the duties of your state of life are both in con- 
formity with the will of God, you must learn to 
pass from the one to the other in the spirit of 
humility and devotion. 

You must also know that it may sometimes 
happen that immediately after the preparation, 
vou will feel your affections moved towards God. 
In this case, Philothea, you nmst 3neld to the 
attraction, and cease to follow the method I have 
before given ; for, although, generally speaking, 
consideration precedes affections and resolutions, 
yet when the Holy Ghost gives you the latter 
before the former, you must not then seek the 
former, since it is used for no other purpose than 
to excite the latter. In a word, whenever alFec- 
tions present themselves, we nmst expand our 
hearts to make room for them, whether they 
come before or after considerations ; and, although 
I have i)hiced them after the considerations, I have 
done so merely to distinguish more })lainly the parts 
of prayer, for otherwise it is a general rule never 
to restrain the affections, but to let them have their 
free course wiienever they present themselves. 
This must be observed even with respect to 


thanksgiving, oblation, and petition, which may 
likewise be used in the midst of the considera- 
tions, for they must be restrained no more than 
the other aftections ; though afterwards, for the 
conclusion of the meditation, they must be re- 
peated. But as for resolutions, they are always 
to be made after the aifections, and immediately 
before the conclusion of the whole meditation ; 
because, as in these we represent to ourselves par- 
ticular and familiar objects, they would put us in 
dansrer of distractions should we minole them 
with our ati'ections. 

While we are forming our affections and resolu- 
tions it is advisable to use colloquies, and to speak, 
sometimes to our Lord, sometimes to the angels 
and the persons represented in the mysteries ; to 
the saints, to ourselves, to our own heart, to 
sinners, and even to insensible creatures ; after the 
example of David in his psalms, and of other 
saints in their prayers and meditations. 





^"HOULD it happen, Pnilothea, that you feel 
no relish or comfort in meditation, I conjure 
you not to disturb yourself on that account ; but 
sometnnes open the door of your heart to vocal 


prayer, complain of yourself to our Lord, confess 
your unworthiness, and beseech him to assist you. 
Kiss your crucifix if you have it at hand, saymg to 
him those words of Jacob, " I will not let thee go, 
O Lord 1 till thou hast o-iven me thv bjessino;," or 
those of the Canancan woman, " Yea, Lord ! I am a 
dog ; but yet the dogs eat ot the crumbs that fall 
from their master's table." 

At other times, take up some spiritual book, and 
read it with attention till your affections are moved, 
or endeavor to excite fervor in your heart by some 
posture of exterior devotion, such as prostrating 
yourself on the ground, crossing your hands before 
your breast, or embracing a crucifix ; provided you 
be alone or in some private place. But if, after 
all, you should receive no comfort, be not dis- 
turbed, no matter how excessive the dryness may 
be ; but continue to remain in a devout posture in 
the presence of God. How many courtiers enter 
a hundred times a year into the i)rince's presence- 
chamber without hopes of speaking to him, but 
merely to be seen by him, and to pay him their 
homage. So ought we, my dear Philothca, to 
come to holy prayer, purely ond merely to pay our 
homage, and testify our fidelity to God. Should 
it please his divine Majesty to speak to us and 
entertain himself with us by his holy inspirations 
and interior consolations, it would certainly be an 
honor above our merits, and the source of the 
sweetest consolation ; but should it not please him 
to grant us this favor, but leave us without taking 
any more notice of us than as if we were not in his 
presence, we must not therefore depart, but con- 


tinue with respect and devotion in presence of his 
adorable Majesty. Observing our diligence, our 
patience, and perseverance, he will, when we come 
again before him, favor us with his consohitions, 
and make us experience the sweetness of his holy 
prayer. Yet, if he should not do so, let us assure 
ourselves, Philothea, that we are highly honored 
by being permitted to appear in his presence. 



^T^ESIDES your daily meditation, and the vocal 
^^^ prayers which you ought to say once every 
day, there are five other shorter exercises which 
are, as it were, branches of the principal prayer ; 
the first is morning prayer, intended as a general 
preparation to all the actions of the day, which 
may l)e made in the following manner, 

1. Adore God most profoundly, and return him 
thanks for having preserved you from the dangers 
of the night -, and if, during the course of it, you 
bave committed any sin, implore his pardon. 

2. Consider that the present day is given you 
in order that you may gain the future day of eter- 
nity ; make a firm purpose, therefore, to employ 
it well with this intention. 

3. Foresee in what business or conversation you 
will probably be engaged ; what opportunities you 


will have to serve God ; to what temptations of 
offending him you will be exposed, either by 
anger, by vanity, or any other irregularity, and 
prepare yourself by a firm resolution to make the 
best use of those means which shall be offered you 
to serve God, and advance in devotion ; as also, on 
the other hand, dispose yourself carefully to avoid, 
resist, and overcome whatever may present itself 
that is prejudicial to your salvation and the glory 
of God. Now, it is not sufficient to make this 
resolution unless you also prepare the means of 
reducing it to practice. For example : if I fore- 
see that I am to treat of any business with one that 
is passionate, and easily provoked to anger, T will 
not only resolve to refrain from giving him any 
offence, but will also prepare M'ords of meekness 
to prevent his anger, or use the assistance of some 
person that may keep him in temper. If 1 foresee 
that I shall have an opportunity of visiting some 
sick i[)erson, I will determine the hour of the visit, 
the comforts and assistances I may afford him ; and 
so of the rest. 

4. This done, hum])le yourself in the presence 
of God, acknowledging that, of yourself, you are 
incapa))le of executing your resolutions, either to 
avoid evil, or to do good ; and, as if you held your 
heart in your hands, offer it, together with all your 
good designs, to his divine INIajcsty, beseeching 
him to take it under his protection, and so to 
strengthen it that it may proceed prosperously in 
his service, using these or the like words interiorly : 
"liehold, O Ijord ! this poor, miseral)le heart of 
mine, which, throup^'* thy sjcooduess, has conceived 


many good affections, but which, alas ! is of itself 
so weak and wretched, that it is incapable of exe- 
cuting the good which it desires, unless thou im- 
part to it thy heavenly blessing, which for this end 
I huml)ly beg of thee, O merciful Father ! through 
the merits of the passion of thy Son, to whose honor 
I consecrate this day, and all the remaining days 
of my life." Then invoke the Blessed Virgin, 
your good angel, and the saints, that they may al^ 
assist you by their intercession. 

But all these spiritual acts must be made briefly 
and fervently, and before you depart from your 
chamber, if it be possible, that by means of this 
prayer, all that you are to do throughout the 
whole day may be sanctified by the blessing of 
God ; and I beg of you, Philothea, never to omit 
this exercise. 




^^S before dinner you have made a spiritual re- 
^^* past by means of meditation, so before supper, 
you must make a devout spiritual collation. Take 
then some little opportunity, before supper, to 
prostrate yourself before God, and recollect your- 
self in the presence of Jesus Christ crucified, 
whom you may represent to yourself by a single 
consideration, and an interior glance of the eye, 


and rekindle in your heart the fire of your morning 
meditation by some lively aspirations, some acts 
of humility and love which you will make towards 
this divine Saviour of your soul ; or else, 1)y re- 
peating the points of your morning meditation 
which affected you most, or by exciting yourself 
up to devotion by some new spiritual subject, as 
you may prefer. 

As to the examination of conscience, which must 
be always made before you retire to rest, every one 
knows how it is to be performed. 1 . We give thanks 
to God for having preserved us during the day 
past. 2. We examine how wc have behaved our- 
selves throughout the whole course of it ; and to 
do this more easily, we may consider where we 
have been, with whom, and in what ])usiness we 
have been employed. 3. If we find that we have 
done any good, we must thank God for it ; or if, 
on the other hand, we have done any evil, whether 
in thought, word, or deed, we must ask pardon of 
his divine Majesty, firmly resolving to confess it 
at the first opportunity, and to avoid it for the 
future. 4. Wc afterwards recommend to the pro- 
tection of divine Providence our soul and body, the 
Holy Church, together with our })arents and 
friends ; and, finally, we beg the Blessed Virgin, 
our angel guardian, and all the saints, to watch 
over us and pray for us ; and thus, with the bless- 
ing of God, we go to take that rest which his will 
has appointed for us. 

This exercise, as well as that of the morning, 
must never be forgotten ; since by that you open 
the windows of your soul to the Sun of Justice ; 


and by this you close them against the darkness 
of hell. 



WcT is to this point, my dear Philothea, that I 
■^ wish to draw your particular attention, since 
in it consists one of the most assured means of 
your spiritual advancement. 

Recollect as often as you can, in the course of 
the day, by any of the four ways I have marked 
out for you, that you stand in the presence of God ; 
observe what he does, and what you are doing, 
and you shall find his eyes perpetually fixed upon 
you with an inconceivable love. Then say to 
him ; " O my God ! why do I not turn my eyes 
towards thee, as thou always lookest on me? Why 
dost thou think incessantly on me, O my Lord? 
and why do I so seldom think on thee? Where 
are we, O my soul? Our true place of rest is God, 
and where do we find ourselves?" 

As birds have their nests on trees, to which 
they occasionally retire, and the deer, bushes 
and thickets, in which they conceal themselves and 
enjoy the cool shade in the heai of summer, sc 
shall we, Philothea, choose some place every day, 
either on Mount Calvary, or in the wounds of oui 
Lord, or in some other place near him, as a retreat 
to wbich we may occasionally retire to refresh 


and recreate ourselves amidst our exterior occupa- 
tions ; and there, as in a stronghold, defend our- 
selves against temptations. Blessed is he that 
can say with truth to our Lord : " Thou art my 
place of strength and my refuge, my defence from 
storms, and my shadow from the heat." — Ps. Ixx. 
3 ; Isai. xxv. 4. 

Remember then, Phiiothea, to retire occasion- 
ally into the solitude of your heart while you ar«> 
outwardly engaged in business or conversation. 
This mental solitude cannot l)e prevented hy the 
m.ultitude of those w ho surround you ; for, as they 
are not about your heart, but your body, your 
heart may remain in the presence of God alone. 
This was the exercise which the holy King David 
practised amidst his various occupations, as he 
testifies in the following, as well as in .several 
other places of his psalms: "O Lord ! as for me, 
I am always w'ith thee. I beheld the Lord always 
before me. 1 have lifted up my eyes to thee, O my 
God ! who dwellest in heaven. My eyes are 
always toward God." And indeed our occupa- 
tions are seldom so serious as to prevent us from 
withdrawing our heart occasionally from them, in 
order to retire into this divine solitude. 

When the parents of St. Catharine of Sienna 
had deprived her of the opportunity of a place, 
and of leisure to pray and medit'ate, our Lord 
directed her, by his inspirations, to make a little 
interior oratory within her soul, into which, retir- 
ing mentally, slu; might, amidst her exterior 
occupations, enjoy this holy spiritual solitude ; 
and whea the world afterwards assaulted her, she 


received no inconvenience from it, because, as she 
said, she had shut herself up in her interior closet, 
where she comforted herself with her heavenly 
Spouse. From her own experience of the utility 
of this exercise, she afterwards counselled her 
spiritual children to practise it. 

Withdraw, then, your thoughts, from time ta 
time, into your heart, where, separated from all 
men, you may familiarly treat with God on the 
aflairs of your soul. Say with David : " I watched 
and am become like a pelican of the wilderness. I 
am like a nioht raven in the house. I have 
watched, and am become as a sparrow, all alone 
on the house-top." — Ps. cl. These words not only 
inform us that this great king spent some solitary 
hours in the contemplation of spiritual things, but 
they also point out, in a mystical sense, three 
excellent retreats or hermitages, in which we may 
imitate the solitude of our Saviour, who on jNlount 
Calvary was likened to the pelican of the wilder- 
ness, which nourishes and gives life to her young 
ones v»nth her own blood ; in his nativity, in a 
desolate stable, to the night raven in a ruinous 
building, mourning and weeping for our offences 
and sins; and, at his accession, to the sparroAV 
flying up to heaven, w^hich is, as it were, the 
house-top of the world. In these three solitudes 
we may make our spiritual retreats, even amidst 
the turmoils of our exterior employments. 
Blessed Elzear, Count of Arian in Provence, hav- 
ing been long ;i])sent from his devout and chaste 
Delphina, she sent an express to him to inquire 
after his health, by whom he returned this answer t 


"I iim very well, my dear spouse; but if you 
desire to see me, seek me in the wound of the side 
of our sweet Saviour; for, as it is there only that 
I dwell, it is there that you shall fmd me ; if you 
seek me elsewhere, you will search in vain." This 
was a Christian nobleman indeed. 



^^^I^E retire into God because we aspire to him ; 

^ and we aspire to him that we may retire 
into him, so that aspirations to God, and spiritual 
retirement are the mutual support of each other, 
and both proceed from the same source, viz., de- 
vout and pious thoughts. 

Make, then, Philothea, frequent aspirations to 
God l)y short but ardent motions of your heart ; 
admire his beaut}^ ; implore his assistance ; cast 
yourself in spirit at the foot of the cross ; adore 
his goodness ; converse with him frequentl}'^ on 
the ati'airs of your salvation ; present your soul to 
him a thousand times a day ; contemplate his 
clemency and his sweetness ; stretch out youi 
hand to him, as a little child to his father, that he 
may conduct you ; place him in your bosom, like 
a fragrant nosegay; plant him in y(>iii' soul, like a 
standard, and make a thousand ditt'eront motions 
of youj- htiHi't, to enkindle and excite within your- 


self a passionate and tender affection for your 
divine Spouse. Ejaculatoiy prayer was stren- 
uously recommended by the great St. Austin to 
the devout Lady Proba. Philothea, our mind, by 
habituating itself thus privately to the company 
and familiarity of our God, will be altogether per- 
fumed with his perfections. Now there is no 
difficulty in this exercise, as it may be intermixed 
with our other occupations, without any inconven- 
ience whatever, since in these spiritual and interior 
aspirations we only make short deviations, which, 
instead of preventing, rather assist us in the pur- 
suit of the oliject which we have in view. The 
pilgrim, though he stops to take a little wine to 
refresh himself, interrupts not his journey by 
doing so, but, on the contrary, acquires new 
strength to finish it with more ease and expedition, 
resting only that he may afterwards proceed the 

Many have collected a store of vocal aspirations, 
which may be very profitable ; but I would advise 
you not to confine yourself to any set form of 
words, but to pronounce, either with your heart 
or mouth, such as love, without any study, shall 
suggest to you ; for it will furnish you with as 
many as you can desire. It is true there are cer- 
tain words which have a peculiar force to satisfy 
the heart in this respect. Such as the aspirations 
interspersed so copiously throughout the Psalms 
of David ; the frequent invocations of the name of 
Jesus ; the ejaculations of love expressed in the 
Canticles, etc. Spiritual songs will also answei 
the same purpose when ^von^ with attention. 


They who love with a human and natural affec' 
tiou have their thoughts and hearts incessantly 
engaged by the object of their passion, and their 
mouth ever employed in its praise. When absent, 
they lose no opportunity of testifying their affec- 
tion by letters, and meet not a tree, on the bark 
of which they do not inscribe the name of their 
beloved. Thus, such as truly love God can never 
cease to think on him, breathe for him, aspire to 
him, and speak of him ; and, were it possi1)le, they 
would engrave the sacred name of Jesus on the 
breasts of all mankind. 

To this all things invite them, as there is no 
creature that does not declare to them the praisesi 
of their beloved ; and as St. Austin says, after 
St. Anthony, everything in the world addresses 
them in a silent, yet very intelligible hmguage, iiv 
favor of their love. All things excite them to 
good thoughts, which give birth to many animated 
motions and aspirations of the soul t^ God. Be- 
hold some examples. 

St. Gregory Nazianzen, walking on the sea- 
shore, oI)served how the waves, advancing upon 
the beach, left behind them shells and little ])cri- 
winkles, stalks of weeds, small oysters, and the 
like, which the sea had cast upon the shore, and 
then^ returning with other waves, took part of them 
back, and swallowed them up again, whilst the 
.adjoining rocks continued firm and immovable, 
though the billows l)eat against them with so much 
violence. Upon which he made this salutary re- 
6ection : that feeble souls, like shells and stalks of 
weeds, sutler themselves to be borne away, some- 


times by affliction, and at otlier times by consola- 
tion, at the mercy of the inconstant Ijillows of 
fortune ; but that courageous souls continue finUi 
and unmoved under all kinds of storms ; and from 
this thought he pi oceeded to those aspirations of 
David (Ps. Ixviii.) ; "Save me, O God! for the 
waters are come iei oven unto my soul. O Lord ! 
deliver me out ol these deep waters ; I am come 
into the depth of the sea, and a tempest hath 
overwhelmed mo : " for at that time he was ia 
affliction for the unhappy usurpation of his bish- 
opric attempted by Maxmius. 

St. Fulgent' as, bishop of Ruspa, being present 
at a general assembly of the Roman nobility, when 
Theodoric, iiing of the Goths, made an oration ta 
them, and beholding the splendor of so many great, 
lords, ranked each according to his quality, ex- 
claimed : " O God ! how glorious and beautiful 
must the heavenly Jerusalem be, since earthly 
Rome appears in so much pomp ! for, if in this- 
world the lovers of vanity 1)e permitted to shine- 
so bright, what must that glory be which is re- 
served in the next world for the lovers and con- 
templators of verity ! " 

St. Anselm, archliishop of Canterbury, by whose- 
birth oil" mountains have l)een highly honored, 
was admirable in the application of good thoughts. 
As this holy prelate was proceeding on a journey,, 
a hare pursued l)y hounds ran under his horse, as 
to a place of refuge, suggested by the imminent 
danger of death ; whilst the hounds, barking around, 
durst not attempt to violate the sanctuary to which 
their prey had taken recourse. A sight so very 


extriiordinary made the whole company burst int«i 
a lit of laughter ; but the saint, weeping and sigh« 
ing, cried out : " Alas ! you laugh, but the poor 
beast does not laugh ; the enemies of the soul, 
after hunting and driving her on, through various 
turnings and windings, into every kind of sin, lie 
in wait for her at the narrow passage of death, to 
catch and devour her ; but she, being territied, 
looks for succor and refuge on every side ; and if 
she find none, her enemies mock and deride her." 
When the saint had thus spoken, he rode on sigh- 

Constantino the Great wrote with respect to St. 
A.nthony ; at which the religious about him being 
greatly surprised, "Why," said he "are you as- 
tonished that a king should write to a man? Be 
astonished rather that the eternal God has written 
his law to mortal men ; nay, more, has spoken to 
them by word of mouth, in the person of his Sou." 

St. Francis seeing a sheep alone amidst a flock 
of goats, "Observe," said he to his companion, 
"the poor sheep, how mild it is amidst the goats ; 
our blessed Lord walked thus meekly and humbly 
among the Pharisees." At another time, seeing a 
laml) devoured by a hog, " Ah ! little lamb," said 
he, weeping, " in how lively a manner dost thou 
represent tiie death of my Saviour ! " 

The illustrious St. Francis JJorgia, while yet 
duke of Gandia, frequently recreated himself in 
hawking ; during this amusement he was accus- 
tomed to make a thousand devout reflections. "I 
admired," said he, afterwards, " liow the faleona 
come to hand, sutler thcmselve»j to be hooded and 


to he tied to the perch ; and that men are so rebel- 
lious to the voice of God." 

The great St. Basil said, that the rose in the 
midst of thorns makes this remonstrance to men : 
"Tliat whicli is most agreeable in this world, O ye 
mortals ! is minified with sorrow : nothino; here is 
pure ; regret always follows mirth ; widowhood, 
marriage ; care, fruitfulness ; and ignominy, glory. 
Expense follows honor ; loathing comes after de- 
lio;ht ; and sickness after health. The rose is a fair 
flower," said this holy man, "yet it makes me 
sorrowful, reminding me of my sin, for which the 
earth has been condemned to bring forth thorns." 

A devout soul, standing over a brook on a very 
clear night, and seeing the heavens and stars 
therein represented exclaimed, " O my God ! these 
very stars which I now behold shall be one day 
beneath my feet, when thou shalt have lodged me 
in thy celestial tabernacles ; and as the stars of 
heaven are here represented, even so are the men 
of this earth represented in the living fountain of 
divine charity." Another, seeing a river flowing 
swiftly along, cried out, "My soul shall never be 
at rest, till she be SAvallowed up in the sea of 
the divinity, her original source." St. Francisca, 
contemplating a pleasant brook, upon the bank of 
which she was kneeling at her prayers, being rapt 
into an ecstasy, often repeated these words, "The 
grace of my God flows thus gently and sweetly, 
like this little stream." Another, looking on the 
trees in bloom, sighed and said, "Ah! why am 
I alone Avithout blossom in the garden of the 
Church ! " Another, seeing little chickens gath- 


ered together under the hen said, "Preserve us, 
O Lord ! continually under the shadow of thy 
wings." Another, looking upon the tiower called 
Heliotropiuni, which turns to the sun, "When 
shall the time tome," said he, "O my God ! that 
my soul shall faithfully follow the attractions of 
riiy goodness?" And seeing the tlowcrs called 
pansies, which are Ijeautiful, but without fra- 
grance, " Ah ! " said he, " such are my conceptions, 
fair in appearance, but of no eflect, producing 

Behold, Philothea, how one may extract good 
thoughts and holy aspirations from everything 
that presents itself amidst the variety of this 
mortal life ! Unhap[)y they who withdraw the 
creatures from their Creator, to make them the 
instrument of sin ; and thrice happy they that 
turn the creatures to the glory of their Creator, 
and employ them to the honor of his sovereign 
Majesty. As St. Gregory Nazianzen says, " I am 
wont to refer all things to my spiritual profit." 
Read the devout epitaph of St. Paula, composed 
by St. Jerome. How agreeable to behold it inter- 
spersed with those aspirations and holy thoughts, 
which she was accustomed to draw from occur- 
rences of every nature ! 

Now, as the great work of devotion consists in 
the exercise of spiritual recollection and ejacula- 
tory prayers, the want of all other prayers may 
be sujjplied by them ; but the loss of these can 
scarcely be repaired by any other means. With- 
out tlicm we cannot lead a good, active life, mu-ch 
less a contemplative one. Without them repose 


would be but idleness and labor vexation. Where- 
fore, I conjure you to embrace this, exercise youi* 
whole heart, without ever desisting from its prao- 





^f|K'ITHEIlTO I have said nothing of the most 
^^ holy, sacred, and august sacrament and sacri- 
fice of the Mass ; the centre of the Christian re- 
ligion, the heart of devotion, and the soul of \ncty ; 
a mystery so ineffable as to comprise within itselt 
the abyss of divine charity ; a mystery in which 
God communicates himself really to us, and in a 
special manner replenishes our souls with spiritual 
graces and favors. 

2. When prayer, O Philothea ! is united to 
this divine sacrifice, it becomes so unspeakably 
efficacious as to cause the soul to overflow, as it 
were, with heavenly consolations. Here she re- 
clines upon her well-beloved, who fills her with 
so much spiritual sweetness, that she resembles, 
as it is said in the canticles, a pillar of smoke, 
proceeding from a fire of aromatic Avood, from 
myrrh and frankincense, and from all the powders 
of the ]ierfumer. 

3. Endeavor, therefore, to assist at Mass every 
day, that you may jointly, with the priest, offer 
up the ho'y sacrifice of your Kedeemer, to God 


his Father, for yourself and the whole Church. 
"The angels," says 8t. John Chrysostoni, "always 
attend in great numl:>ers to honor this adorable 
mystery " ; and we, by associating ourselves to 
them, with one and the same intention, cannot 
but receive many favorable inrtuences from so 
holy a society. The choirs of the Church tri- 
umphant and those of the Church militant unite 
themselves to our Lord in this divine action, that 
with him, in him, and through him, they may 
ravish the heart of God the Father, and make his 
mercy all our own. Oh, what a hap{)iness it is to 
a soul devoutly to contribute her atl'ections for 
obtaining so precious and desirable a treasure ! 

4. Should some indispensable business prevent 
you from assisting in person at the celebration 
of this sovereign sacritice, endeavor at least to 
assist at it by a spiritual presence, uniting your 
intention with that of all the faithful ; and using 
the same interior acts of devotion in your closet 
that you would use in some church represented to 
your imagination. 

5. Now, to hear Mass in a proper manner, 
either really or mentally, 1. From the begin- 
ning, till the priest goes up to the altar, make 
with him your ])reparation, Avhich consists in 
placing yourself in the presence of God, acknowl- 
edging yoin- unwoithiness and begging })ardon 
for your sins. 2. From the time he goes up to 
the altar till the Gospel, consider the birth and 
the life of our Lord, by a simple and general 
consideration. 3. From the Gospel till after the 
Creed, consider the preaching of our iSaviour, 


and protest that you resolve to live and die in 
the faith and obedience of his holy word, and in 
the communion of the holy Catholic Church. 
From the Creed to the Pater JSFoster apply your 
heart to the mysteries of the passion and death 
of our Redeemer, essentially represented in this 
holy sacrifice, and which, with the priest and 
the rest of the peoi)le, you must offer to the 
honor of God the Father, an . for your salvation. 
5. From the Pater JVbster to the Communion^ 
strive to excite a thousam' desires in your heart, 
ardently wishing to be forever united to our Sav- 
iour by everlasting love. 

6. From the Commun-on till the end, return 
thanks to Jesus Christ for his incarnation, life, 
passion, and death : as well as for the love he tes- 
tifies to us in this holy sacrifice ; conjuring him to 
be forever merciful to you ; to your parents and 
friends, and to the whole Church ; and finally, hum- 
bling yourself with your whole heart, receive de- 
voutly the benediction which our Lord gives you 
through the ministry of his officer, the officiating 

But should you prefer, during Mass, to meditate 
on the mystery you proposed for your consideration 
on that day, it is not necessary that you should di- 
vert your thoughts to make all these particular 
acts ; but, at the beginning, direct your intention 
to adore, and offer up this holy sacrifice, by the 
exercise of your meditations and prayer ; for in all 
meditations the aforesaid acts may be found either 
expressly or tacitly and equivalently. 




•^f^ESIDES hearino; Mass on Sundays and holidays, 
A^ you ought also, Philothea, to l)o present a/ 
Vespers and the other public offices of the Church 
as for as your convenience will permit. For, a* 
these days are dedicated to God, we ought to pcr« 
form more acts to his honor and glory on them than 
on other days. By this means you will experience 
the sweetness of devotion, as St. Austin did, who 
testifies in his confessions, that hearing the divine 
office in the beginning of his conversion, his heart 
melted into tenderness, and his eyes into tears of 
piety. And, indeed, to speak once for all, there 
is always more benefit and comfort to be derived 
from the public offices of the Church than from 
private devotions, God having ordained that com- 
munion of prayers should always have the prefer- 

Enter, then, willingly into the confraternities of 
the place in which you reside, and especially those 
whose exercises are most productive of fruit and 
edification, as in so doing you practise a sort of 
ol)edience acceptable to God ; for, although these 
confraternities are not commanded, they are nev- 
ertheless recommended by the Church, which, to 
testify her approbation of them, grants indulgences 
and other privileges to such as enter them. Be- 
sides, it is always very laudable to concur and co* 


jperate with many in their good designs ; for* 
although we might perform as good exercises alone 
as in the com]xiny of a confraternity, and perhaps 
take more pleasure in performing them in private, 
yet God is more glorified by the union and contri- 
bution we make of our good works with those of 
our brethren and neighbors. 

I say the same of all kinds of })ublic prayers and 
devotions, which Ave should countenance as much 
as possible with our good example, for the edifi- 
cation of our neighi)or, and our affection for thg 
glory of God and the common intention, 



^NCE God often sends us inspirations by his 
angels, we also ought frequently to send back 
our inspirations to him by the same messengers. 
The holy souls of the deceased, who dwell in heaven 
^vith the angels, and, as our Saviour says, are equal 
and like to the angels, Luke xv. 36, do also the 
same office of inspiring us, and interceding for us 
by their holy prayers. O my Philothea ! let us 
then join our hearts with these heavenly spirits, 
and happy souls ; and as the young nightingales 
learn to sing in company of the old, so, by the holy 
association we make with the saints, we shall learn 
to pray and to sing the divine praises in a much 


better manner. " I will sing praises to thee, O 
Lord," says David, "in the sight of the angels." 
Psalms cxxxvii. 2. 

Honor, reverence, love, and respect in a special 
manner, the sacred and glorious Virgin Mary, she 
being the mother of our sovereign Lord, and con- 
sequently our mother. Let us run, then, to her, 
and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her 
bosom with a perfect confidence, at all times, and 
in all .occurrences. Let us call upon this dear 
Mother ; let us invoke her motherly love ; and, en- 
deavoring to imitate her virtues, let us bear a true 
filial affection towards her. 

Make yourself familiar with the angels, and ])e- 
hold them frequently in spirit ; for, without being 
seen, they are at present with you. Always bear a 
particular love and reverence towards the angel of 
the diocese wherein you dwell, and of the persons 
with whom you live ; but especially towards your 
own angel guardian. Address yourself often to 
them, honor and praise them, and make use of 
their assistance and succor in all your afiairs, s})ir- 
itual or temporal, that they may cooperate with 
your intentions. 

The great Peter Faber, the first priest, the first 
preacher, and the first proposer of divinity in the 
Iloiy Society of Jesus, and the companion of St. 
Ignatius, its founder, returning from Germany, 
where he had done great service to the glory of 
our Lord, and travelling through this diocese, the 
place of his birth, rolat(ul, that having passed 
through many heretical i)laces, he had received in- 
numerable consolations from the guardian angels 


of the several parishes, and that on repeated occa- 
sions he had received the most sensible and con- 
vincing proofs of their protection. Sometimes 
they preserved him from the ambush of his enemies, 
at other times they rendered several souls more 
mild, and tractable to receive from him the doctrine 
of salvation : this he related with so much earnest- 
ness, that a gentlewoman then very young, who 
heard it from his own mouth, related it but four 
years ago, that is to say, about threescore years 
after he had told it, with an extraordinary feeling. 
I had the consolation last year to consecrate an 
altar on the spot where God was pleased this 
blessed man should be born, in a little village 
called Vilaret, amidst our most craggy mountains. 
Choose some particular saint or saints, whose 
lives may please you most, and whom you can 
best imitate, and in whose intercession you may 
have a particular confidence. The saint, whose 
name you bear, is already assigned you, from your 



J^ISTEN with devotion to the word of God, 

^^ whether you hear it in familiar conversation, 
with your spiritual friends, or in a sermon. Make 
all the profit of it you possibly can, and suffer it 
not to fall to the ground, but receive it into your 


heart as a precious biiliu ; imitating the most holy 
Virgin, who carefully preserved in her heart all 
the words which were spoken in praise of her Son. 
Remember tliat our Lord gathers up the words we 
speak to him in our prayers, according as we 
gather up those he speaketh to us by preaching. 
Always have at hand some approved book of 
devotion ; sucli as the spiritual works of St. Bona- 
venture, of Gerson, of Denis, the Carthusian, of 
Louis Blosius, of Granada, of Stella, of Arias, of 
Pihelle, of Dupont, of Avilla, the Spiritual Com- 
bat, St. Austin's Confessions, St. Jerome's Epis- 
tles, etc., etc., and read a little in them with as 
much devotion, every day, as if you were read- 
ing a letter, Avhich those saints had sent you from 
heaven to show you the way, and encourage you 
to come thither. Read, also, the histories and lives 
of the saints, in which, as in a looking-glass, you 
may behold the portraiture of a Christian life, and 
accommodate their actions to your state of life ; 
for, although several actions of the saints cannot 
absolutely be imitated by such as live in the midst 
of the world, yet they may, in some degree, be 
followed. For example, we may imitate the soli- 
tude of St. Paul, the first hermit, in our spiritual 
and real retirements, of which we shall hereafter 
speak, and have already spoken ; the extreme 
poverty of St. Francis, by the practices of poverty, 
and so of the rest. It is true, there are some of 
their histories that ffive more li«^ht for the con- 
duct of our lives than others, such as the life of 
the blessed mother Teresa, the lives of the first 
Jesuits, that of St. Charles Borromeus, archbishop 


of Milan ; of St. Lewis ; of St. Bernard ; the 
Chronicles of St. Francis ; and several others. 

There are others again, which contain more 
matter of admiration than of imitation ; as the life 
of St. Mary of Egypt, of St. Simeon Stylites, of 
the two St. Catharines of Sienna and of Genoa, of 
St. Angela, and the like ; which, nevertheless, fail 
aot, in general, to give us a great relish for the 
love of Ood. 




^Y inspirations are meant all those interior at- 
tractions, motions, reproaches and remorses, 
lights and conceptions, which God excites in us, 
preventing our hearts with his blessings, through 
his fatherly care and love, in order to awaken, 
stimulate, urge, and attract us to the practice of 
every virtue ; to heavenly love ; to good resolu- 
tions ; and, in a word, to everything that may help 
us on our way to eternal happiness. This is what 
the Spouse calls knocking at the door, and speak- 
ing to the heart of his spouse ; awaking her when 
she sleeps ; calling after her when she is absent ; in- 
viting her to gather apples and flowers in his 
garden ; to sing and to cause her sweet voice to 
sound in his ears. 

That you may the more perfectly comprehend 
me, I must use a comparison. Marriage should be 


preceded by three circumstances with relation to 
the lady who is to be married : first, the person is 
proposed io hex \ secondly, she entertains the prop- 
osition; thirdly, she gives her consent. In like 
manner, when God intends doing us some act of 
great charity, or through our means to some other 
person ; at first, he proposes it by inspiration ; 
secondly, we are pleased with it; and tJiirdly, we 
give our full consent to it. For, as there are 
three steps by which we descend to the commission 
of sin, viz., temptation, delectation, and consent; 
so there are also three steps by which we ascend 
to the practice of virtue : inspiration, which is op- 
posite to temptation ; the delectation conceived in 
the inspiration, which is opposite to the delecta- 
tion in the temptation ; and the consent to the 
inspiration, which is opposite to the consent given 
to the temptation. 

Now, though the inspiration should continue 
during our whole life, yet we could not render 
ourselves pleasing to God if we took no pleasure 
in it ; on the contrary, he would be offended with 
us, as he was with the Israelites, whose conversion 
he had been soliciting very nearly forty years. 
(Ps. xlv.) During this time they would give no 
ear to him, and he swore in his wrath that they 
should never enter into his rest. In like manner, 
the gentleman that had for a long time served a 
young lady would be very much disobliged, if, 
after all his attentions, she would not hearken to 
the marriage he desired. 

By the pleasure Ave take in inspirations we not 
only show a disposition to glorify God, but begii> 


already to please his divine Majesty. For aU 
though this delight is not an entire consent, yet 
it is a certain disposition towards it, and if it be 
a good sign to take pleasure in hearing the word 
of God, which is an exterior inspiration, it must 
also, no doubt, be a good thing and pleasing to 
God, to take delight in his internal aspirations. 
Of this kind of pleasure the sacred spouse speaks, 
Cant. V. 6 : "My soul melted when my beloved 
spoke." Thus the gentleman is already well 
pleased with the lady whom he serves, and 
esteems himself favored when he sees her take 
delight in his service. 

But, after all, it is the consent which perfects 
the virtuous act. For, if after receiving and 
taking pleasure in the inspiration, we neverthe- 
less refuse our consent, we show ourselves ex- 
tremely ungrateful, and highly offend his divine 
Majesty, by our contempt of his favors. Thus it 
happened to the spouse, for though the sweet 
voice of her beloved had touched her heart with 
a holy pleasure, yet she would not open to him 
the door, but excused herself by a frivolous ex- 
cuse, with which her spouse, being justly dis- 
pleased, went his way and left her. Thus, if 
the gentleman, who after having for a long time 
paid his addresses to a lady, and made his service 
agreeable to her, is at last shaken off and spurned, 
would he not have much more reason for dis- 
content than if his suit had never been favored 
with any encouragement? 

Resolve, then, Philothea, to accept with cor- 
diality all the inspirations it shall please God to 


send you ; and when they come receive them as 
ambassadors sent by the King of heaven, who 
desires to enter into a contract of marriage with 
you. Attend cahnly to his propositions, think 
of the love with which you are inspired, cherish 
the holy inspiration, and consent to the hol_y 
motion, with an entire, a loving and a permanent 
consent ; for, by this means, God, whom you 
cannot oblige, will hold himself greatly obliged 
to your good will. But before you consent to 
inspiratioris in things that are of great impoi'tance, 
or that are out of the ordinary Avay, always con- 
sult your spiritual guide, that he may examine 
whether the inspiration be true or false, lest 
you should l)e deceived ; Ijecause the enemy, 
seeing a soul ready to consent to inspirations, 
often proposes false ones to deceive her, which he 
can never do, so long as she with humility obeys 
her conductor. 

The consent being given, you must diligently 
procure the effects, and hasten to put the inspi- 
ration into execution, which is the height of true 
virtue; for to have the consent within the heart 
without producing its eticcts would be like i)lant- 
ino; a vine and not intendimj; it should bring forth 

Now, what contributes Av^onderfully to all this 
is the pnictice of tin; moi'uing exercise, and of 
those si)iritual retirements above reconnnended, 
as by these means we prei)are ourselves to do 
what is good, not only by a general, but also by 
a particular, preparation. 




^UR Saviour has left the holy sacrament of 
penance and confession to his Church, that 
in it we might cleanse ourselves from all our 
iniquities, as often as we should be detiled by 
them. Never suffer your heart then, O Philothea ! 
to remain long infected with sin, since you have 
so easy a remedy at hand. As the lioness, hav- 
ing been with the leopard, runs in haste to wash 
herself, and get rid of the stench which the 
meeting has left, lest the lion should be offended 
and provoked ; so the soul, which has consented 
to sin, ought to conceive a horror of herself, and 
cleanse herself as quickly as possible, out of the 
respect she ought to bear to the divine Majesty, 
who incessantly beholds her. Alas, why should 
we die a spiritual death, since we have so sover- 
eign a remedy at hand ! 

Confess yourself humbly and devoutly once 
every week, and always, if possible, before you 
communicate, although your conscience should 
not reproach you with the guilt of mortal sin, 
for by confession you not only receive absolution 
from the venial sins you confess, I)ut likewise 
strength to avoid them, light to discern them 
well, and grace to repair all the damage 3^ou may 
have sustained by them. You will also practise 
the virtues of humility, obedience, sincerity. 


charity ; nay, in a word, in this one act of confes- 
sion you shall exercise more virtues than in any 
other whatsoever. 

How small soever may be the sins which you 
confess, you must always conceive a sincere 
sorrow for them, and make a firm resolution 
never to commit them for the time to come. 
Many who confess their venial sins merely out 
of custom, and for the sake of order, without 
any thought of amendment, continue, by this 
means, their wiiole lifetime, under the guilt of 
these sins, and thus lose several spiritual adva^ 
tages. If, then, you confess that you have spoken 
some word that was not proper, or that you have 
played excessively, repent, and form a deter- 
mined resolution to amend ; for it is an abuse 
to confess any kind of sin, whether mortal or 
denial, without a will to be -delivered from it, 
(iince confession was instituted for no other end. 

Make no superfluous accusations, such as these : 
I have not loved God as much as I ought ; I have 
not prayed with as much devotion as 1 ought ; 
I have not cherished my neighbor as I ought ; 
I have not received the sacraments with as great 
reverence as I ought, etc., etc. ; for in saying this 
you will say nothing that can make your con- 
fessor understand the state of your conscience, 
since all the saints in heaven and on earth might 
say the same thing if they were to come to con- 
fession. Examine, then, what particular reason 
you may have to make these accusations ; and 
Avhcn you have discovQ>"ed it accuse yourself 
•iucerely and distinctly. For example, you ao^ 


cuse yourself, that you luive not loved your 
neighbor as much as you ought; perhaps, be- 
cause having seen some poor person in distress, 
whom you might easily have assisted, you took 
no notice of him. In this case, you should have 
said, " Having seen a poor man in necessity, 
I did not assist him as I might have done," 
through negligence, hard-heartedness, contempt, 
or according to whatever you may discover to 
have been the occasion of this fault. You must 
not accuse yourself either of not having prayed 
to God with as much devotion as you ought ; 
but if you have admitted any voluntary distrac- 
tion, or neglected to choose a proper place, or time, 
or posture, requisite for engaging your attention 
m prayer, accuse yourself of it with simplicity, 
ivithout those general allegations which signify 
aothing in confession. 

Content not yourself with confessing your venia! 
sins, merely as to the fact, l)ut accuse yourself 
also of the motive which induced you to commit, 
them. For example, be not content to say you 
have told a lie, without prejudice to any person j 
but also declare whether it was vainglory, to 
praise or to excuse yourself, or whether in jest or 
through obstinacy. If you have sinned in play, 
express whether it was from the desire of gain or 
irom the pleasure of conversation, and so of the 
rest. Tell, also, how long a time you have con- 
tinued in your sin ; for the length of time is ar\ 
ag<>ravation of the evil, there beino: a "Treat differ- 
ence betwixt a vain thought that has slipped into 
the soul for a quarter of an hour, and one whicb 


shtr has entertained for the space of two or three 
day.-, We must, then, tell the fact, the motive, and 
the cuitinuance of our sins. For though we are 
not bound to declare venial sins, nor absolutely 
obliged to confess them, yet those who desire to 
cleanse their souls perfectly, and attain to holy 
devotion, must be careful to make their spiritual 
physician acquainted with the evil of which they 
desired to be cured, no matter how small it may be. 

Fail not, then, to tell what is requisite, that he 
may perfectly comprehend the nature of your 
offence. For examj^le, a man with whom I am 
displeased speaks a light word to me in jest, and 
I put myself into a passion, whereas, if another, 
more agreeable to me, had said something more 
harsh, I should have taken it in good part,- in this 
case I would not fail to say, I have spoken angry 
words against a certain person, and been atlVonted 
dt some things he said to me, not so much on 
account of the Avords, as of my dislike to him. 
Moreover, if, to make the matter more clear, it 
svas necessary to express what the Avords were, I 
think it advisable to declare them, as l)y doing so, 
you not only discoA^er the sin, but also your evil 
inclinations, customs, habits, and other roots of the 
sin, by means of Avhich your confessor acquires a 
more perfect knowledge of the heart he treats Avith, 
and of the most proper remedies to he applied. 
But you nuist always conceal the person Avho has 
had any part in your sin, as much as lies in your 

Be upon your guard against a lunnber of sins 
which are apt to conceal tlunnselves and reign 


insensibly in the soul. In order that you may 
confess them and be al)le to free j^ourself of them, 
read attentively the 6th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 35th, 
and 36th chapters of the third part, and the 7th 
chapter of the fourth part. 

Change not easily your confessor, but, having 
made choice of one, continue, from time to time, to 
give him an account of the state of your conscience, 
with candor and sincerity, at least once every 
month or every two months. Let him also know 
the state of your inclinations, though 3'ou may not 
have sinned by them ; for instance, if you should 
be tormented with sadness or with melancholy, or 
if you should be inclined to mirth, or to the desires 
of acquiring worldly goods and such like inclina- 



WT is said that Mithridates, king of Pontus, hay- 
* ino- invented the mithridate, so strengthened 
Hi? body by the frequent use of it, that afterwards, 
endeavormg to poison himself to avoid falling 
under the servitude of the Romans, he could not 
effect his object. To the end that we should live 
forever, our Saviour has instituted the most ven- 
erable sacrament of the Eucharist, which contains 
really his flesh and his blood. Whoever, there- 
fore, frequently eateth of this food, with devotion, 


SO effectually confinneth the health of his soul 
that it is almost impossi])le he should be poisoned 
by any kind of evil affection ; for we cannot be 
nourished with this tlesli of life, and at the same 
time live with the affections of death. Thus, as 
men dwelling in the terrestrial paradise might 
have avoided corporal death by feeding on the 
fruit of the tree of life which God had planted 
therein, so they may also avoid spiritual death by 
feeding on this sacrament of life. If the most 
tender fruits, and such as are most sul)ject to cor- 
ruption, as cherries, strawberries, and apricots, 
can ])e easily preserved the whole year Avith sugar 
or honey, why should not our hearts, however 
frail and w^eak, be preserved from the corruptiop 
of sin, when seasoned and sweetened with the 
incorruptible flesh and blood of the Son of God'' 

Philothea ! what raply shall reprobate Christians 
be able to make, when the just Judge shall 
upbraid them with their folly, or rather madness, 
in having involved themselves in eternal death, 
since it was so easy to have maintained themselves 
in spiritual life and health, by feeding on his 
body, which he has left them with that intention? 
Miserable wretches ! will he say, why did you 
die, having the fruit and the food of life at your 
connnand ? 

"To receive the holy communion every day," 
says St. Augustine, "I neither recommend nor 
discourage ; but to comnnmicato every Sunday, 

1 persuade and exhort every one, ])rovided his 
soul ))e without any affection to sin." With the 
same holy doctor of the Church, I neither ah 


Bolutely condemn nor approve of the practice of 
communicating daily, but leave it to the discre- 
tion of the ghostly father of him that would be 
directed in this point. As the dispositions re- 
quired for daily communion ought to be the most 
exquisite, it is not prudent to recommend it gen- 
erally to all ; and as these dispositions may be 
found perfect in many holy souls, it is not ad- 
visable to dissuade generally from it, but it is 
better to leave it to be regulated by the consid- 
eration of the inward state of each individual. 
Wherefore, as it would be imprudent to advise 
every one, without distinction, to frequent com- 
munion, so it would be imprudent also to blame 
any one for it, especially if he followed the advice 
of a prudent director. When daily communion 
was objected against St. Catharine of Sienna, she 
returned this modest and graceful answer : 
" Since St. Austin blamed it not, I pray do not 
you blame it, and I shall be content." 

But as St. Austin, Philothea, strenuously ex- 
horts us to communicate every Sunday, comply 
with his advice as far as you may be able. For, 
since I suppose you have no affection to either 
mortal or venial sin, you are in that disposition 
which St. Austin requires ; yea, and in a more 
excellent degi'ee, since you have not only an 
aversion to commit sin, but you do not even retain 
in you an affection to sin ; so that, should your 
confessor think it proper, you may profitably com- 
municate still more frequently than every Sunday. 
However, many lawful impediments may occur., 
not perhaps on your own part, but on the part of 


those with whom you live, which may occasion a 
discreet guide to advise you not to communicate so 
often. For example : if you live in a state of 
subjection to persons who are so ill instructed, o? 
so capricious as to be troubled or disquieted to 
see you communicate so frequently, it would, in 
such a case, be advisable to condescend to their 
humor and receive holy connnunion but once a 
fortnight ; but this is to be understood, when you 
can by no other means remove the difficulty. As 
there can be no general rule prescribed in this 
case, we must act according to the advice of our 
spiritual director ; though I may say, with assur- 
ance, that the distance between the times of com- 
municating, for such as desire to serve God 
devoutly should not exceed a month. 

If you act with prudence, neither father, moth- 
er, husband, nor wife, will prevent you from 
communicating often ; for if, on the day of your 
communion, you are not less diligent in the dis- 
charge of your duties, but acquit yourself of 
them with more cheerfulness and alacrity, how- 
ever irksome they may be, there is no likelihood 
that any person will seek to prevent you from 
an exercise in which no kind of inconvenience i? 
found. But if the spirit of those with whom you 
live is so perverse and unreasonable as to give 
you trouble on this account, as 1 have said already, 
your director will advise you to use some conde- 

I must say a word to married people. In the 
old law, God disapproved that creditors should 
exact their debts on festival days, but h^ never 


disapproved that debtors should pay what they 
owed to such as exacted it. It is an indecency, 
thouifh not a great sin, to solicit the payment of 
the marriage debt on the day of connnunion ; bui 
it is not indecent, but rather meritorious, to \ia.y 
it. Wherefore no one ought to be debarred from 
the communion for paying this debt, if otherwise 
their devotion incite them to desire it. The 
primitive Christians communicated every day, 
although married, and blessed with a generation 
of children ; whence I infer frequent communion 
is by no means inconsistent with the state of a 
parent, husband or wife, provided the party that 
communicates be prudent and discreet. As for 
bodily diseases, there are none Avhich can be a 
lawful impediment to this holy devotion, excepting 
that which provokes to frequent vomiting. 

To communicate every eight days, it is requisite 
that one should be free from mortal sin, and any 
afi'ection to venial sin, and have, moreover, a 
great desire of communicating ; but to communi- 
cate every day, it is necessary we should over- 
come the greatest part of our evil inclinations, and 
that it should be by the advice of our spiritual 




Ji^REPARE yourself for holy communicn the 
-A^ evening before by many ejaculations of love, 
retiring earlier, that you may rise sooner in the 
morning. Should you awake in the night, raise 
your heart to God immediately, and make some 
ardent aspirations, in order to prepare your soul 
for the reception of her Spouse, who, being awake 
whilst you were asleep, prepares a thousand 
graces and favors for you, if, on your part, 
you are disposed to receive them. In the 
morning rise up with alacrity to enjoy the happi- 
ness you hope for ; and, having confessed, go with 
a great, but humble confidence, to receive this 
heavenly food, which nourishes your soul to im- 
mortality ; and after repeating thrice, "Lord, I am 
not worthy," etc., cease to move your head or your 
lips to pray, or to sigh, but opening your mouth 
gently and moderately, and lifting up your head 
as much as is necessary, that the priest may see 
what he is about, full of faith, hope, and charity, 
receive him, in whom, by whom, and for whom, 
you believe, hope, and whom you love. O Pliilo- 
thea 1 represent to yourself, that as the bee, after 
gathering from the ilowers the dew of heaven, and 
the choicest juice of the earth, reducing them into 
honey, carries it into her hive, so the priest, 
having taken from the altar the Saviour of thp 


world, the true Son of God, who, as the dew, is 
descended from heaven, and the true Son of the 
Vh'gin, who, as a Hower is sprung from the earth 
of our humanity, puts him as delicious food into 
your mouth and body. 

Having received him in your hreaist, excite your 
heart to do homage to the author of your salvation ; 
treat with him concerning your internal affairs ; 
consider that he has taken up his abode within 
you for your happiness ; make him, then, as 
welcome as you })ossibly can, and conduct your- 
self in such a manner as to make it appear oy all 
your actions that God is with you. 

But when you cannot enjoy the benefit of really 
communicating at the holy mass, communicate, at 
least, spiritually, uniting yourself l)y an ardent 
desire to this life-giving Hesh of our Saviour. 

Your principal intention in communicating 
should l)e to advance in virtue, to strengthen your- 
self in the love of God, and to receive comfort from 
this love ; for you must receive through love that 
which love alone caused to be given to you. You 
cannot consider our Saviour in an action, either 
more full of love or more tender than this, in which 
he annihilates himself, or, as we may more properly 
say, changes himself into food, that so he may 
penetrate our souls and unite himself most inti- 
mately to the heart and to the body of his faithful. 

If worldlings ask you why you communicate so 
often, tell them it is to learn to love God, to purify 
yourself from your imperfections, to be delivered 
from your miseries, to be comforted hi your atJlic- 
tions, and supported in your weaknesses. Tell 


them that tivo sorts of persons ought to comrauni- 
cjite frequently ; tbe 2J^f€c(^ because, ])eing well 
disposed, they would be greatly to blame not to 
approach to the source and fountain of perfection , 
and the imperfect, to the end that they maybe able 
to aspire to perfection ; the strong, lest they should 
become weak ; and the weak, that they may become 
strong; the sick, that they may be restored to 
health ; and the health?/, lest they should fall into 
sickness ; that for your part, being imperfect, weak, 
and sick, you have need to communicate frequently 
with Him who is your perfection, your strength, 
and your physician. Tell them that those who 
have not many worldly atiairs to look after ought 
to communicate often, because they have leisure ; 
that those who have much business ou hand sliould 
also communicate often, for he who labors nuicli 
and is loaded with pains ought to eat solid food, 
and that frequently. Tell them that you receive 
the holy sacrament to lear«i to receive it well ; 
because one hardly performs i\n action well which 
he does not often practise. 

Connnunicate frequently, then, Philothea, and 
as frecjuently as you can, with *Jie advice of your 
ghostly father ; and, l)elievc me, as hares in oui 
mountains become white in winter, because they 
neither see nor eat anything l)ut snow, so, by ap- 
proaching to, and eating beauty, })urity, and good- 
ness itself, in this divine sacrament, you will be- 
come altogether fair, pure, and virtuous. 

art Efitrti, 





'^^S the queen of the bees never goes ahi-oad into 
»^ the fields without being surrounded by all her 
little sulnects, so charity, the queen of virtues, 
never enters the heart without brinsfino^ all the 
other virtues in her train, exercising and disciplin- 
ing them as a captain does his soldiers. But she 
neither employs them all at the same time, nor in 
the same manner, nor in all seasons, nor in every 
place ; for as the just man, like a tree planted by 
the river side, brings forth fruit in due season, so 
charity, watering the soul, produces a variety of 
good works, each one in its proper time. " Music, 
how agreeable soever in itself, is out of season in 
time of mourning," says the proverlj. It is a great 
fault in many, who, undertaking the practice of 
Bome particular virtue, wish to exercise it on all 
occasions. Like some ancient philosophers, they 
either always weep or laugh ; and, what is yet 
worse, they censure those who do not always, like 
themselves, exercise the same virtues ; whereas, 


we should "rejoice with the joyful, and weep Avith 
tlieni that weep," says the Apostle ; " for charity 
is patient, kind, bountiful, discreet, and conde- 

There are, however, some virtues of so general 
utility as not only to require an exercise of them- 
selves apart, but also communicate their qualities 
to the practice of other virtues. Occasions are 
seldom presented for the exercise of fortitude, 
magnanimity, and magnificence ; but meekuess, 
temperance, modesty, and humility, are virtues 
wherewith all the actions of our life should be 
tempered. It is true, there arc other virtues 
more agreeal)le, but the use of these is more nec- 
essary. Sugar is more agreeal)le than salt ; but 
the use of salt is more necessary and genc)';il. 
Therefore we must constantly have a good store 
of these general virtues in readiness, since we 
stand in need of them almost continually. 

In the exercise of the virtues we should always 
prefer that which is most conformable to our duty, 
not that which is most agreeable to our imagina- 
tion. St. Paula was prejudiced in favor of corpo- 
ral austerities and mortifications, that she might 
more easily enjoy spiritual comfort ; but she was 
under a greater obligation to obey her superiors, 
and therefore St. Jerome blamed her for using 
immoderate abstinences against her bishop's ad- 
vice. The apostles, on the other hand, being 
commissioned to preach the gosi)el and distribute 
the bread of heaven, thought that they should act 
wrongly by interrupting these evangelical exer- 
cisea for tlio relief of the poor, which, though, is 


in itself an excellent virtue. Every condition of 
life has its own peculiar virtue. The virtues of 
a prelate are different from those of a prince ; 
those of a soldier from those of a married woman, 
or a widow, and so on through every class of soci- 
ety. Though all ought to possess all the virtues, 
yet all are not equall} bound to exercise them ; 
but each ought to practise, in a more particular 
manner, those virtues which are most requisite for 
the state of life to which he is called. 

Among the virtues unconnected with our par^ 
ticular duty we must prefer the excellent to the 
glittering and showy. Comets appear greater 
than stars, and apparently occupy a greater si)ace ; 
whereas, in reality, they can neither in magnitude 
noi- equality be compared to the stars ; for an 
they only seem great because they are nearer, and 
appear in a grosser manner than the stars, so there 
are certain virtues, which, on account of their 
proximity, become more sensible, or, to use the 
expression, more material, that are highly esteemed 
and always preferred by the vulgar. Hence it i^ 
that so many prefer corporal alms before spiritual ; 
the hair-shirt, fasting, going barefoot, using the 
discipline, and other such corporal mortifications, 
before meekness, mildness, modesty, and other 
mortifications of the heart ; which are, neverthe- 
less, more exalted. Choose then, Philothea, the 
best virtues, not the most esteemed ; the most 
noble, not the most apparent ; those that are 
actually the best, not those that are the most 
,>8tensible or shining. 

It is profitable for every one to exercise some 


particular virtue, yet not so as to abandon the 
rest, but to keep his spirit in a more settled order. 
A fair virgin, in royal attire, more bright than the 
sun, whose head was decorated with a crown of 
olives, appeared to St. John, bishop of Alexan- 
dria, and said to him : " I am the eldest daughter 
01 the king : if thou canst have me for thy friet.:^, 
I shall conduct thee to his presence." He under- 
stood that she was mercy towards the poor, which 
God recommended to him ; and therefore ever 
after he gave himself up so absolutely to the prac- 
tice of this virtue as to ol)tain the title of St. John 
the Almoner. Eulogius, the Alexandrian, desir- 
ing to render God some particular service, and not 
having strength enough to embrace a solitary life, 
nor to subject himself to the obedience of another, 
took a poor wretch, quite eaten up with the 
leprosy, into his house, that he might exercise 
towards him the virtues of charity and mortitica- 
tion ; and, to perform them the more wortlilly, he 
made a vow to honor and serve him as his lord 
and master : being tempted to separate, they 
addressed themselves to the great St. Anthony, 
who said, "Take care, my children, not to sepa- 
rate from each other, for being both of you near 
your end, if the angel should not find j'ou together, 
you run a great risk of losing your crown." 

St. Lewis visited hospitals, and attended the 
sick as diligently as if he had served for wages. 
St. Francis had so extraordinary a love for ])ov- 
erty as to call her his lady, and St. Domiuick, for 
preaching, from which his order takes its name. 
St. Gregory the Great, following the example of 


Abraham, took pleasure in entertaining pilgrims, 
and like him received the King of Glory in the 
form of a pilgrim. Tobias exercised his charity 
in burying the dead. St. Elizabeth, though a 
great princess, delighted in nothing so much as in 
abasini? herself. St. Catharine of Genoa, in her 
widowhood, dedicated herself to serve a hospital. 
Cassian relates that a devout lady, desirous to 
exercise the virtue of patience, came to St. Atha- 
nasius, who, at her request, placed with her a 
poor widow, so exceedingly peevish, choleric, and 
troublesome, that by her insupportable temper 
she gave the good lady ample occasion to exercise 
the virtues of meekness and charity. 

Thus, among the servants of God, some apply 
themselves to serve the sick ; others to relieve the 
poor ; others to propagate the knowledge of the 
Christian doctrine amongst children ; others to 
reclaim souls that are gone astray ; others to adorn 
churches and decorate altars ; others to restore 
peace and concord amongst those who have been 
at variance. As embroiderers lay gold, silver, 
and silk on their several grounds, with such an 
admirable variety of colors as to resemble all 
kinds of flowers, so these pious souls make choice 
of some particular devotion to ser\ e as a ground 
for the spiritual embroidery of all other virtues, 
holding therel)y all their actions and affections, 
better united and ordered, by referring them to 
their principal exercise ; and thus they show forth 
their spirit in its gilded clothing, surrounded with 
Yariety. Ps. xliv. 10. 

When assaulted by any vice we must embrace 


the practice of the contrary virtue, and refer all the 
others to it ; by wliicli means we shall overcome 
our enemy, and at tlie same time advance in all vir- 
tues. Thus, if assaulted by pride or by anger, we 
must, in all our actions, practise humility and meek- 
ness ; and make all our other exercises ot prayer, and 
the sacraments of prudence, constancy, and sobri- 
ety, subservient to this end. For as the wild 
boar, to sharpen his tusks, wets and i)olishes them 
with his other teeth, and by this means sharpens 
all of them ; so a virtuous man, having undertaken 
to perfect himself in that virtue of which he stands 
in most need for his defence, files and polishes it 
by the exercise of the other virtues, whilst they 
help to refine that one, make all of them become 
better polished. Thus it happened to Job, who, 
exercising himself particularly in patience, against 
the many temptations wherewith he was assaulted, 
became })erfectly established and confirmed in all 
kinds of virtues. Nay, St. Gregory Nazianzen 
says, "that by the perfect exercise of one only 
virtue a ])crson may attain to the height of all the 
rest ; " for which he alleges the example of Rahal), 
who, having exactly practised the virtue of hospi- 
tality, arrived at a great degree of Glory. But 
this is to be understood pf a virtue which is prac- 
tised with great fervo'r and charity. 




^^I^OUNG beginners in devotion, says St. Austin, 
^^^ commit certain faults, which, according to the 
rigor of the laws of perfection, are blamable and 
yet commendable, on account of the presage they 
give of future excellence in piety, to which they 
serve as a disposition. That low and servile fear 
which begets excessive scruples in the souls of 
new converts from a course of sin, is commendable 
in beginners, and a certain foreboding of a future 
purity of conscience ; but the same fear would be 
blamable in those who are far advanced, in whose 
heart love ought to reign, which by imperceptible 
degrees chases away this kind of servile fear. 

St. Bernard, at the beginning, was full of rigoi 
towards those that put themselves under his direc- 
tion ; he told them that they must leave the body 
behind, and come to him only with the spirit. 
When he heard their confessions he severely 
reprehended the most trivial faults, and urged 
them on to perfection, with, such vehemence that, 
instead of making them advance forward, he drew 
them back ; for they fell into despondency at 
seeing themselves so earnestly pressed up so steep 
and high an ascent. Observe, Philothea, it was an 
ardent zeal for perfect purity that induced this 
great saint to adopt this manner of proceeding. 


This zeal of the saint was a great virtue, but a 
virtue nevertheless reprehensible ; of which God 
himself, in a holy vision, made him sensible, infus- 
ing at the same time into his soul so meek, amiable, 
and tender a spirit, that, being totally changed, 
he repented of his former rigor and severity, and 
became so gracious and condescending to every 
one as to make himself all to all, that he miffht 
gain all. St. Jerome having related how his 
dear daughter, St. Pauhi, was not only excessive, 
but o1)stinate, in the exercise of bodily mortifica- 
tion, to such a degree that she would not yield to 
the contrary advice of Epiphanius, her bishop, and, 
moreover, that she suffered herself to be carried 
away with so excessive grief for the death of her 
friends as to be herself frequently in danger of 
death, concludes at length with these words : " Some 
will say, that, instead of writing the praises of this 
holy woman, I write reprehensions and dispraises ■ 
but I call Jesus to witness, whom she served, and 
whom I desire to serve, that 1 lie not either on the 
one side, or on the other, but set down sincerely 
what related to her, as one Christian should do of 
another ; that is to sa}^ 1 write her history, not 
her panegyric ; and that her vices are the virtues 
of others ; " meaning that the failings and defects of 
St. Paula would have been este(uned virtue in a 
soul less perfect, and that there are actions es- 
teemed imperfections in the perfect, which would 
be held great perfections in those who are imper- 

It is a good sign, when "at the end of sickness" 
Ihe legs of the sick person swell, for it shows that 


nature, now acquiring strength, expels her super- 
fluous humors ; hut this would he a had symptom 
in a healthy person ; as it would show that nature 
has not sufficient strength to resolve and dissipate 
the humors. We must, my Philothca, have a 
good opinion of those who practise virtue, though 
imperfectly, since we see the saints themselves 
have often practised them in this manner. But, as 
to ourselves, we must be careful to exercise them, 
not only faithfully, but discreetly ; and to this end 
we must strictly observe the advice of the wise 
man, " not to rely on our own prudence," but on the 
judgment of those whom God has given us for 

There are certain things which many esteem as 
virtues, Mhich in reality are not ; I mean ecstasies, 
or raptures, insensibilities, impassibilities, deitical 
unions, elevations, transformations, and similar 
perfections, treated of in certain books, which 
promise to elevate the soul to a contemplation 
purely intellectual, to an essential ap})lication of 
the spirit, and a supernatural life. But ol)serve 
well, Philothea, these perfections are not virtues, 
but rather the recompenses of virtues, or small 
specimens of the happiness of the life to come, 
which God sometimes presents to men, to make 
them enraptured with the whole piece, which is 
only to ])e found in heaven. 

liut we must not aspire to their favors, since' 
they are by no means necessary to the serving and 
loving of God, which should be our only preten- 
sion ; neither are they such as can be obtained by 
labor and industry, since they are rather passions 


than actions, wliich we may indeecl receive, but 
cannot })roduce in ourselves. I add that Ave have 
only undertaken, and nnist s trenuously endeavor 
to render ourselves good, devout, and godly ; but, 
if it should please God to elevate us to these an- 
gelical perfections, we, also, shall then be angels. 
In the meantime let us endeavor huml)ly and 
devoutly to acquire those simple virtues for which 
our Saviour has exhorted us to lal)or ; such as 
patience, meekness, mortification of the heart, 
humility, obedience, poverty, chastity, tenderness 
towards our neigh])()rs, bearing with their imper- 
fections, diligence, and holy fervor. Let us leave 
these supereminent favors to elevated souls ; we 
merit not so high a rank in the service of God ; 
we shall be too happy to serve him in his kitchen 
or to be his domestics in much lower .stations. If 
he should hereafter think proper to admit us into 
his cabinet, or privy council, it will be through 
the excess of his l)ountiful goodness. Yea, Pliilo- 
thea, the King of Glory does not recom|)ense his 
servants according to the dignity of the offices they 
hold, but according to the measure of the love 
and humility with which they exercise them. 
Saul, seeking the asses of his father, found the 
kingdom of Israel. Rebecca, watering the camels 
of Abraliam, became the spouse of his son. Ruth, 
gleaning after the reapers of Boaz, and laying 
down at his feet, was adv^anced to his .side and 
made his wife. High and eknated pretensions to 
extraordinaiy favors are siihject to illusion and 
deceit; and it sometimes hai)i)ens that thosi; who 
imaijine themselves angels arc not so much aa 


good men, and that there is more sublimity in 
their words and expressions than in their manner 
of tliinking and acting. We must neither despise 
nor censure any one ; but, blessing God for the 
supereminence of others, keep ourselves in oui 
lower but safer way, less eminent, but better 
suited to our insufficiency and littleness ; in w^hich, 
if we conduct ourselves with humility and fidelity, 
God will infallibly elevate us to a situation tha*; 
will be truly exalted. 



f^ATIENCE is necessary for you ; that, doing 
^^- the will of God, you may receive the 
premise," — Heb. x. 36. If our Saviour him- 
self has declared, Luke xxi. 19, "In your 
patience you shall possess your souls," should it 
not be, Philothea, a great happiness for man to 
possess his soul? — and the more perfect our pa- 
tience, the more absolutely do we possess them. 
Let us frequently call to mind, that as our Lord 
has saved us by patient sufferings, so we also ought 
to work out our salvation by sufferings and afflic- 
tions ; enduring injuries and contradictions w^ith 
all possible meekness. 

Limit not your patience to this or that kind of 
IDJuries and afflictions, but extend it universally 


to all those that it shall please God to send you. 
Some are unwillhig to sutler any tribulations bul 
those that are honorable ; for example, to be 
wounded in battle, to be a prisoner of war, to be 
persecuted for relig:ion, or impoverished by some 
lawsuit determined in their fovor ; now these 
people do not love the tribulation, but the honor 
wherewith it is accompanied ; whereas he that is 
truly patient suffers, indifferently, tribulations, 
whether accompanied by ignominy or honor. To 
be despised, reprehended, or accused by wicked 
men is pleasant to a man of good heart ; but to 
suffer blame and ill-treatment from the virtuous, 
or from our friends and relations, is the teM of 
true patience. I admire the meekness with which 
the great St. Charles Borromeo suffered a long 
time the public reprehensions that a great preacher 
of a strictly reformed order uttered against him 
in the pulpit, more than all the assaults ho re- 
ceived from others ; for as the sting of a bee is 
far more painful than that of a fly, so the evils we 
suffer from good men are much more insupporta- 
ble than those we suffer from others ; and yet i' 
often happens that two good men, having each of 
them the best intentions, through a diversity of 
opinion, foment great persecutions and contradic- 
tions against each other. 

Be patient, not only with respect to the sul)ject 
of the atHiclion which may befall you, but also 
with regard to its accessories or accidental circum- 
stances. Many could be content to encounter 
evils, {)roviiled they might not be incommoded by 
them. I am not vexed, says one, at being poor, 


if it had not disabled me to serve my friends, to 
give my children ])roper education ; or to live as 
honorable as I could wish. It would ij:ive me no 
concern, says another, were it not that tiio world 
would think it happened through my own fault. 
Another would be content to sufter the scandal 
patiently, provided no one would believe the 
detractor. Others are willing to suffer some part 
of the evil, but not the whole ; they do not com- 
plain on account of their sickness, but for the 
want of money to obtain a cure, or because they 
are so troublesome to those alout them. Now, I 
say, Philothea, we must not only bear sickness 
with patience, but also be content to suffer sick- 
ness under any disorder, and in any place, amongst 
those persons, and with those inconveniences, which 
God pleases ; and the same must be said of other 
tribulations. When any evil befalls you, ap})ly 
the remedies that may be in your power, agree- 
ably to the will of God ; for to act otherwise 
would be to temi)t divine Providence. Having 
done this, wait with resignation for the success it 
may i)Iease God to send ; and, should the remedies 
overcome the evil, return him thanks with hu- 
mility , but if, on the contrary, the evils overcome 
tl^e remedies, bless him with jxiticnce. 

Attend to the following advice of St. Gregory : 
whenever you are "justly accused" of a fault, 
humble yourself, and candidly confess that you 
deserve more than the accusation which is 
brought against you; but, if the charge be false, 
excuse yourself meekly, denying your guilt, for 
you owe this respect to truth, and to the edifi- 



cation of your neighbor. But if, ufter your true 
tmd lawful ex(;use, they should continue to ac- 
cuse you, trouble not yourself nor strive to have 
your excuse admitted ; for, having discharged your 
duty to truth, you must also do the same to hu- 
mility, by which means you neither ofl'end against 
the care you ought to have of your reputation, nor 
the love you owe to peace, meekness of heart, and 

Complain as little as possible of the wrongs you 
suffer ; for, commonly speaking, he that com- 
plains sins, because self-love magnifies the in- 
juries we suffer, and makes us believe them 
greater than they really are. jNIake no com- 
j)laint to choleric or consorious persons ; but if 
com[)laints be necessary, either to remedy the 
oft'ence or restore quiet to your mind, let them 
be made to the meek and charitable, who truly 
love God ; otherwise, instead of easing your heart, 
they will provoke it to greater pain ; for, instead 
of extracting the thorn, they will sink it the 

]\Iany, on being sick, afHicted, or injured by 
others, refrain from complaining or showing a 
sensibility of what they sutler, lest it should ap- 
pear tiiat they wanted Christian fortitude, and 
resignation to the will of (Jod ; but still they 
contrive divers artifices, that others shoidd not 
only pity and compassionate their sufferings and 
afflictions, but also admire their })atience and 
fortitude. Now this is not a tru(! ])atience, but 
rather a refined amI)ition and subtle vanity. 
"They have glory," says the apostle, "but not 


with God." The truly patient man neither com- 
plains himself nor desires to be pitied by others ; 
he speaks of his sufferings with truth and sin- 
cerity, without murmuring, complaining, or ag- 
gravating the matter. Pie patiently receives 
condolence, unless he is pitied for an evil which 
he does not suffer, for then he modestly declares 
that he does not suffer on that account, and thus 
he continues peaceable betwixt truth and patience, 
acknowledging, but not complaining of the e^'il. 

Amidst the contradictions which shall infalli- 
bly befall you in the exercise of devotion, re- 
member the words of our Lord, John xvi. 21 : 
" A woman when she is in la])or, hath sorrow 
because her hour is come ; but when she hath 
brought forth her child, she remcm1)ereth no 
more the anguish, for joy that a man is born 
into the world." For you have conceived Jesus 
Christ, the noblest child in the world, in your 
soul, and until he is quite brought forth, you 
cannot but suffer in your labor ; but be of good 
courage, these sorrows once past, everlasting joy 
shall remain with you for havino: brouijht him 
forth. Now you shall have wholly brought him 
forth, when you have entirely formed him in your 
heart and in your works, by an imitation of his 

In sickness offer up all your griefs and pains 
as a sacrifice to our Lord, and beseech him to 
unite them with the torments he suffered for 
you. 01)ey your physician, take your medicines, 
food, and other remedies, for the love of God, 
rememljcring the ojall he took for vour sake ; 


iesire to be cured, that you may serve him, 
but refuse not to continue sick, that you may 
oliey him ; and dispose yourself for death, if it 
be his pleasure, that you may praise and enjo^l 
him forever. 

Kemember, that as bees, whilst making their 
honey, live upon a l)itter provision, so we can 
never perform acts of greater sweetness, nor 
better compose the honey of excellent virtues, 
than whilst we eat the bread of bitterness, and 
live in the midst of aliiictions. And as the 
honey that is gathered from the flowers of thyme, 
a small bitter herb, is the best, so the virtue which 
is exercised in the l)itterness of the meanest and 
most a])ject tribulations is preferal)le. 

Consider frequently Christ Jesus crucified, 
naked, l)las[)hemed, slandered, forsaken, and 
overwhelmed with all sorts of troubles, sorrows, 
and labors ; and remember that all }'our sufler- 
ings, either in quality or quantity, are not com- 
parable to his, and that you can never sutler 
iinything for him c(|ual to that which he has 
endured for you. 

Consider the torments the martyrs have suf 
fered, and those which many at present endure 
more grievous without any com})arison than 
yours, and then say : Alas ! are not my suffer- 
ings consolations, and my pains i)leasures, in 
comparison of those, who, without any relief, 
assistance, or mitigation, live in a conlinuaJ 
death, overcharged with aliiictions inlinitely 
greater than mine ? 




5|^0RR0W empty vessels, not a few," said Eli- 
■^^ seus to the poor widow, 4 Kings iv. 3 ; " and 
pour oil into them." To receive the grace of God 
into our hearts they must l)e emptied of vainglory. 
As the Castrel,^ by crying and looking on the 
birds of prey, atfrights them by a secret property 
peculiar to itself, which makes the doves love her 
above all other birds, and live in security with 
her; so humility repels Satan, and preserves the 
grace and gift of the Holy Ghost Avithin us. All 
the Saints, but particularly the King of Saints and 
his Mother, have always honored and cherished 
this blessed virtue more than any amongst the 
moral virtues. We call that glory vain which we 
assume to ourselves, either for what is not in us, 
or for what is in us, and belongs to us, but deserves 
not that we should glory in it. The nobility of 
our ancestors, the favor of great men, and popular 
honor, are things, not in us, but either iu our pro- 
genitors, or in the esteem of other men. Some 
become proud and insolent, either by riding a good 
horse, wearing a feather in their hat, or by being 
dressed in a fine suit of clothes ; but who does not 
see the folly of this? for if there be any glory in 
such things, the glory belongs to the horse, the 
bird, and the tailor; and what a meanness of heart 

* Or Kestrel, a bird of the hawk kind 


must it he, to borrow esteem from a horse, from {\ 
feather, or some ridiculous nc\v fashion ! Others 
value themselves for a well-trimmed heard, for 
curled locks, or soft hands ; or hecause they can 
dance, sing, or play ; hut are not these effeminate 
men, who seek to raise their rei)nt:ition l)y so friv- 
olous and foolish things? Others, for a little 
(earning, would ])e honored and respected by the 
tvhole world, as if every one ought to become their 
pupil, and account them his masters. These are 
called pedants. Others strut like peacocks, con- 
templating their l)eauty and think themselves ad- 
mired l)y every one. All this is extremely vain, 
foolish, and impertinent ; and the glory which is 
raised on so weak foundations is justly esteemed 
vain and frivolous. 

True goodness is proved like true balm ; for as 
balm, when dropped into water, if it sinks and rests 
at the l)ottom, is so accounted the most excellent 
and precious ; so, if you would know whether l 
man be truly wise, learned, or generous, observe 
whether his qualifications tend to humiiit^s mod- 
esty, and submission ; for then they shall l)e good 
indeed ; but if they swim on the surface, and strive 
to appear above water, they shall be so much the 
less true, in the same proportion as they appear. 
As pearls, that are conceived iiiid nourished by the 
wind, or by the noise of thunder, ha\e nothing of 
the su])stance of pearls, but merely the external 
appearance ; so the virtues and good qualities of 
men that are bred and nourished l)y pride, osten- 
tation, and vanity, have nothing but the appearance 
of good. 


Honors, rank, and dignities, are like saffron, 
which thrives best, and grows most plentifully, 
when trodden under foot. It is no honor to be 
beautiful when a man prizes himself for it : beauty, 
to have a good grace, should be neglected ; and 
learning is a disgrace to us when it degenerates 
into pedantry. 

If we stand upon the punctilio for places, pre- 
cedency, and titles, besides exposing our qualities 
to be examined, tried, and contradicted, we render 
them vile and contemptible ; for as honor is 
beautiful when freely given, so it becomes base 
when exacted or sought after. When the peacock 
spreads his tall to admire himself, in raising up 
his beautiful feathers he ruffles all the rest, and 
discovers his deformities. Flowers that are fair 
whilst thev grow in the earth wither and fade 
when handled; and as they that smell the mandrake 
at a distance perceive a most agreeable fragrance, 
whilst they that approach become sick and stupefied, 
so honors give a pleasant satisfaction to those that 
view them afar oif, without stopping to amuse 
themselves with them, or being earnest about them. 
Those who aftect them, or feed on them, are 
exceedingly blamable, and worthy of reprehen- 

The pursuit and love of virtue begin to make us 
virtuous ; but the })ursuit and love of honor make 
us contempt il)le and worthy of blame. Generous 
minds do not amuse themselves about the petty 
toys of rank, honor, and salutation ; they have 
other things to perform ; such baubles only belong 
to degenerate spirits. 


Pie that may have pearls never loads himself 
with shells ; and such as aspire to virtue trouble 
not themselves about honors. Every one indeed 
may take and keep his own phice without })rejudice 
to luunihty, so that it be done carelessly, and 
without contention. For as they tliat come from 
Peru, besides gold and silver, bring also thence a})es 
and parrots, because they neither cost much, nor 
are burdensome ; so they that aspire to virtue 
refuse not the rank and honor due to them, j^ro- 
vided it cost them not too much care and attention, 
nor involve them in trouble, anxiety, disputes, or 
contentions. Nevertheless, I do not here allude 
to those whose dignity concerns the ])ublic, nor to 
certain particular occasions of im[M)rtant conse- 
V quences ; for in these every one ought to keep 
what belongs to him, with prudence and discretion, 
accompanied by charity and suavity of manners. 



^.UT you d(^sire, riiilolluM, to ]:)enetrate still 
deeper into humility ; lor what I have hitherto 
said r;?ther concerns wisdom than humility. I^'t us, 
then, proceed. Many neither will not and dare 
not consider the ])articular favors God done 
them, lest it might excite vainglory and self- 
complacency ; but in doing so they deceivo 


themselves ; for since the best means to attain the 
love of God (says the great angelical Doctor) is 
the consideration of his benefits, the more we know 
them the more shall we love him ; and as the par- 
ticular benefits he has conferred on us more power- 
fully move us than those that are common to others, 
so ought they to be more attentively considered. 
Certainly nothing can so effectually huml)le us be- 
fore the mercy of God as the multitude of his 
benefits ; nor so much humble us before his justice as 
the enormity of our innumerable oflences. Let us, 
then, consider wdiat he has done for us, and what we 
have done against him ; and as we reflect on our 
sins, one by one, so let us consider his favors in the 
same order. We must not fear lest the knowledge of 
his gifts make us proud, so long as we are attentive 
to this truth, "that whatsoever there is of orood m 
us IS not from ourselves." Do mules cease to be 
disgusting beasts, because they are laden with the 
precious and perfumed goods of the prince ? " What 
hast thou which thou hast not received?" says the 
apostle, 1 Cor. iv. 7. "And if thou hast received 
it, why dost thou glory?" Nay, on the contrary, 
the lively consideration of favors received makes 
us huml)le, because a knowledge of them excites 
gratitude. But if, in considering the favors that 
God has conferred on us, any thoughts of vanity 
should attack us, it will be an infallible remedy to 
recur to the consideration of our ingratitudes, 
imperfections, and miseries. If w^e consider what 
we did when God was not with us, we shall easily 
6e convinced that what we do while he is with us 
tiB not of our own exertion ; we shall indeed rejoice 


in it, because we enjoy it, but we shall glorify 
God, because he alone is the author of it. Thus 
the l)Ic8sc(l Virgin confesses that God had done 
great things for her, but it is only to humble 
herself, and to glorify God : "My soul," says she, 
" doth magnify the Lord, because he has done 
great things for me." Luke i. 46, 49. 

We often confess ourselves to be nothmg, nay, 
misery itself, and the refuse of the world ; but 
Avould be very sorry that any one should believe 
us, or tell otliers that we are really so miserable 
wretches. On the contrary, we pretend to retire, 
and hide ourselves, so that the world may run 
after us, and seek us out. We feign to wish 
ourselves considered as the last in the company, 
and sit down at the lowest end of the table ; l)ut it 
is with a view that we may l)e desired to pass to 
the upper end. True humility never makes a 
show of Jierself, nor uses many humble wordjj^ 
for she desfres not only to conceal all other virtues, 
/'but principally herself; and, were it hTWfunto 
disseml)le, or scandalize her neighbor, she would 
perform actions of arrogancy and haughtiness, 
that she misht conceal herself beneath them and 
remain aUogether unknown. 

My advice, therefore, Philothea, is that we 
should either not accustom ourselves to words of 
humility, or else use them with a sincere interior 
sentiment, conformably to what we pronounce 
outwardly. Let us never cast down our eyes but 
when we humble our hearts; let us not seem to 
desire to be the lowest, unless we sincerely desire 
it^ I think this rule so (general us to admit of no 


exception ; I only add, that civility requires we 
should sometimes offer precedency to those who 
will doubtless refuse it, and j^et this is neither 
duplicity nor false humility; for in this case, as 
the offer of i)recedency is only the beginning of 
honor, and since we cannot give it them entirely, 
we do well to give them the beginning. I say, 
though some w^ords of honor or respect may not 
seem strictly conformable to the truth, yet they 
are sufficiently so, provided the heart of him that 
pronounces them has a sincere intention to honor 
and respect him to wdiom they are addressed, for 
although the w^ords signify with some excess that 
which we would say, yet we do not act wrongly in 
using them Avhen common custom requires it ; 
however, I wish our words were always as nearly 
! as possible suited to our affections, that so we 
might follow ; in all and through all, a cordial 
sincerity and candor. A man that is truly humble 
woidd rather another should say to him that he is 
miserable, and that he is nothing, than to say it 
himself; at least, if he knows that any man says so 
he does not contradict it, but heartily agrees to it ; 
for, believing it himself firmly, he is pleased that 
others entertain the same opinion. 

Many say that they leave mental prayer to those 
that are perfect ; that, as for themselves, they are 
unworthy to use it. Others protest they dare 
not communicate often, because they find them- 
selves not sufficiently pure. Others fear they 
should bring disgrace upon devotion if they 
meddled with it, by reason of their great misery 
and frailty. Others refuse to employ their talents 


in the service of God and tlieir neiglibor, saying 
they know their own weakness, and fear they 
sliould l)ccome proud if they proved instruments 
of any good ; and that, in giving liglit to others, 
they shoukl consume tliemselves in the flames of 
vanity. All this is nothing but an artificial kind 
of humility, false and malicious, whereby they 
tacitly and subtilely seek to find fault with the 
things of God ; or, at the best, to conceal the love 
of their own opinion, humor, and sloth, under the 
pretext of humility. " Ask thee a sign of the Lord 
thy God either unto the depth of hell, or to the 
height above," said the prophet (Isaias vii. 11) 
to unhappy Acliaz ; and he answered, "I will not 
ask, neither will I tempt the Lord." Oh ! the 
wicked man ! He would seem to bear an extreme 
veverence to God, and excuses himself, under the 
color of humility, from aspiring to that grace 
which the divine goodness offers him ; but does he 
not see, that when God desires to oive us his 
graces, it is pride to refuse them ; that the gifts of 
God oblige us to receive them ; and that it is 
humility to obey, and to comply as nearly as we 
ean with his desires? The desire of God is, that 
we should be perfect, uniting ourselves to him, 
and imitating him as nearly as possible. The 
proud man, who trusts in himself, has just reason 
not to attempt anything ; but he that is humble is 
so much the more courageous, l)y how much the 
more he acknowledges his own inabilitv ; and the 
more wretched he esteems himself the more con- 
fident he becomes ; because he jjlnccs his Avhole 
trust in God, who delights to display his omnipo- 


tence in our weakness, and to elevate his mercy 
upon our misery. We may then humbly and 
devoutly presume to undertake all that may be 
judged proper for our advancement by those that 
conduct our souls. 

To imagine we know what we do not know iu 
folly ; to desire to pass for knowing that of which 
we are ignorant is an intolerable vanity. For my 
part, as I would not make a parade of the knowl- 
edge even of that which I know ; so, on the other 
hand, I would not pretend to be ignorant thereof. 
When charity requires it we must freely and 
mildly communicate to our neighbor, not only 
what is necessary for our instruction, but, also, 
what is profita])le for our consolation ; for humility, 
which conceals virtues, in order to preserve them, 
discovers them, nevertheless, w^hen charity re- 
quires it, in order that we may enlarge, increase, 
and perfect them. In this respect humility 
imitates a certain tree in the Isles of Tylos, that 
at night closes up her beautiful carnation flowers, 
and only opens them to the rising sun ; and as the 
inhabitants of the country say that those flowers 
sleep by night, so humility covers all our virtuous 
and human perfections, and never unfolds them 
except for the sake of charity, which, being not a 
human and moral, but a divine and heavenly vir- 
tue, is the true son of all other virtues, over which 
she ought always to have dominion. Hence we 
may conclude that those humilities which are 
prejudicial to charity are assuredly false. 

J-j>vould- Ji^rtlicr pretejKJ to be^ fool norawige 
man ; for if humilityiorbids metoconceaT my 


wisdom, candor and sincerity also forbid me to 
counterfeit the fool ; and as vanity is opposite to 
humility, so artifice, affectation, and dissimulation 
are contrary to sincerity. But, if some great ser- 
vants of God have pretended to l)e fools, to render 
themselves more abject in the eyes of the Avorld, 
we must admire, but not imitate, them ; for, having 
had peculiar and extraordinary motives that in- 
duced them to this excess, no one ought thence to 
draw any consequence for himself. David, when 
he danced and leaped before the ark of the cove- 
nant with an excess that ordinary decency could 
not admire, had no design to make the world be- 
lieve him foolish ; but, with all simi)licity and 
openness, he made use of those exterior motions 
to express the extraordinary and excessive joy he 
felt in his heart; and when Michol, his wife, re- 
proached him for it, as an act of folly, he did not 
regret to see himself vilified ; but, continuing in a 
true and sincere manifestation of his joy, he testi- 
fied that he was glad to be re})roachcd for his God. 
Wherefore remember, Philothea, that if, for acts of 
a true and sincere devotion, the world shall esteem 
you mean, abject, or foolish, humility will make 
you rejoice at this happy reproach, the cause of 
wich is not in you, but in those that reproach you. 




Wc PROCEED now, and tell you, Philothea, that 
-A. in all, and through all, you should love your 
own abjection. But you will ask me what it is to 
love your own abjection. In Latin " abjection" 
signifies " humility," and " humility " signifies 
"abjection"; so that when our Lady, in her 
sacred canticle, says, that " all generations should 
call her blessed," because our Lord had regarded 
the "humility of his handmaid," her meaning is, 
that our Lord had graciously looked down on her 
abjection, her meanness, and lowliness, to heap his 
graces and favors upon her. Nevertheless, there 
is a difference between the virtue of "humility" 
and our " abjection " ; for our " abjection " is the 
lowliness, meanness, and baseness that exists in 
us, without our knowledge ; whereas, the virtue 
of " humility " is a true knowledge and vohintary 
acknowledgment of our abjection. Now, the main 
point of this humility consists in being willing, 
not only to acknowledge our abjection, l)ut in 
loving and delighting in it ; and this, not through 
want of courage and generosity, but for the greater 
exaltation of the divine Majesty, and holding our 
neighbor in greater estimation than ourselves. To 
this I exhort you ; and, that you may comprehend 
me more clearly, I tell you that among the evils 
wh'ch we suffer some are abject, and others hon- 


orable ; many can easily accommodate themselves 
to those evils that are honorable, l)ut scarce any 
one to such as are al^ject. You see a devout old 
hermit covered with rags ; every one honors his 
tattered habit, and compassionates his sufferings ; 
but if a poor tradesman, or a poor gentleman, be 
in the like case, the world despises and scoffs at 
him ; and thus you see how his poverty is abject. 
A religious man receives a sharp reproof from his 
superior, or a child from his father, with meekness, 
and every one calls this mortification, obedience, 
and wisdom ; but should a gentleman or lady 
suffer the like from another, and although it were 
for the love of God, it is then called cowardice 
and want of spirit. Behold, then, here another evil 
that is abject. One has a canker in his arm, and 
another in his face ; the first has only the disease, 
but the other, together with the disease, has con- 
temj^t, disgrace, and abjection. I say, then, that 
we nuist not only love the evil, which is the duty 
of patience, but also embrace the abjection, by 
virtue of humility. There are, moreover, virtues 
which are abject, and virtues which are honorable. 
Patience, meekness, simplicity, and even humility 
itself, are virtues which worldlinijs consider as 
mean and abject; whilst, on the contrary, they 
hold i)rudence, fortitude, and lil)orality, in the 
highest estimation. There are also actions of o?«e 
and the same virtue, some of which are desj)i.sed 
and others honored ; to give alms, and forgive in- 
juries, are both acts of chariti/ ; yet the first is 
honored, whilst the latter is despised in the eyes 
of the world. A young gentleman or lady wh/" 


refuses to join in the disorders of a debauched 
company, or to talk, play, dance, drink, or dress, 
as the rest do, will incur their scorn and censure ; 
and their modesty will be termed bigotry or affec' 
tation ; to love this is to love our own abjection. 

Behold an abjection of another kind. "We go 
to visit the sick ; if I am sent to the most miser- 
able, it will be to me an abjection according to the 
world, for w^hich reason 1 will love it. If I am 
sent to a person of quality, it is an al^jection 
according to the spirit, for there is not so much 
virtue or merit in it, and therefore I will love this 
abjection. One falls in the midst of the street, 
and, besides his fall, receives shame ; we must 
love this abjection. There are even faults which 
have no other ill in them besides abjection ; and 
humility does not require that we should deliber- 
ately commit them, but that we should not vex 
ourselves when we have committed them. Such 
are certain follies, incivilities, and inadvertencies, 
which as we ought to avoid before they are com- 
mitted, for the sake of civility and discretion ; so 
when they are committed, we ought to be content 
with the abjection we meet with, and accept it 
willingly, for the sake of practising humility. 

I say yet more : should I, through passion or 
anger, have spoken any unbecoming words, 
wherewith God and my neighbor may have been 
offended, I will repent, and be sorry for the of- 
fence, and endeavor to make the best reparation 
I can, but yet will admit of the abjection, and the 
contempt which it has brought upon me : and 
could the one be separated from the other, I 


would most cheerfully cast away the sin, and 
humbly retain the abjection. 

But though we love the abjection that follows 
the evil, yet we must not neglect, by just and 
lawful means, to redress the evil that caused it 
especially when it is of consequence ; as, for ex- 
ample, should I have some disagreeable disorder 
in my face, I will endeavor to have it cured, but 
not with the intention of forgetting the abjection 
I received by it. If I have been guilty of some 
folly, which has given no one offence, I will give 
no apology for it ; because, although it were an 
offence, yet it is not permanent ; I could not, 
therefore, excuse it, but only with a view to rid 
myself of the abjection, which would not be 
agreeable to humility. But if, through inadver- 
tence or otherwise, I should have offended or 
scandalized any one, I will repair the ofl'ence by 
gome true excuse ; because the evil is permanent. 
And charity obliges me to remove it. Besides, it 
sometimes happens that charity requires Ave should 
remove the abjection for the good of our neighbor, 
to whom our reputation is necessary ; but in such 
a case, though we remove the abjection from 
before our neighbor's eyes, to prevent scandal, yet 
must we carefully shut it up in our heart for its 

But would you know, Philothea, Avhich arc the 
best abjections? I tell you j)lainly, that those 
are most profitable to our souls and most accepta- 
ble to God which befall us by accident, or by 
our condition of life ; because we have not chosen 
tnem ourselves, but received them as sent by God, 


whose choice is always better than our own. But 
were we to choose any, we should prefer the great- 
est, and those are esteemed such as are most 
contrary to our inclinations, provided that they be 
conformable to our vocation ; for, as I have 
already said, our own choice spoils or lessens 
almost all our virtues. Oh, who will enable us 
to say : " I have chosen to be an abject in thy 
house of God, rather than to dwell in the taber- 
nacles of sinners"? — Ps. Ixxxiii. 11. No 
one certainly, Philothea, l)ut he who, to exalt us, 
lived and died in such a manner as to become the 
reproach of men, and the abjection of the people. 
I have said many things to you which may seem 
hard to you in theory, but, believe mo, they will 
be more agreeable than sugar or honey when you 
put them in practice. 




^f^RAISE, honor, and glory are not given to 
^^' men for every degree of virtue, but for an 
excellence of a virtue ; for by praise we endeavoi 
to persuade others to esteem the excellency of 
those whom we praise ; by honor we testify that 
we ourselves esteem them ; and glory, in my 
opinion, is only a certain lustre of reputation that 


arises from the concurrence of praise and honor, 
so that honor and praise are like precious stones, 
from a collection of which glory proceeds like a 
certain enamelling. Now, humility not enduring 
that we should have any opinion of our own excel- 
lence, or think ourselves worthy to be preferred 
before others, cannot permit that we should seek 
after praise, honor, and glory, which are only due 
to excellence ; yet she consents to the counsel of 
the wise man, who admonishes us to be careful of 
our good name (Ecclus. xli. 15), because a good 
name is an esteem, not of an excellence, but only 
of an ordinary honesty and integrity of life, which 
humility does not for))id us either to acknowledge 
in ourselves, or to desire the reputation of it. It 
is true, humility would despise a good name if 
charity did not need it ; but, because it is one of 
the foundations of human society, and that without 
it we are not only unprofitable, but prejudicial to 
the public, by reason of the scandal it would 
receive, charity requires, and humility consents, 
tiiat we should desire it, and carefully preserve 

Moreover, as the leaves, which, in themselves^ 
are of little or no value, are, nevertheless, necessary, 
not only to beautify the tree, but also to preserve 
its young and tender fruits ; so a good reputation, 
which, though of itself not very desirable, is, not- 
withstanding, very proiitable, not only for the 
ornament of life, but also for the })reservation of 
virtue, e^specially of those virtues which arc as yet 
but weak and tender. 

The o])ligation of preseiwing our reputation, and 


of being actually such as we are thought to be, 
urges a generous spirit forward with a strong and 
agreeable impulse. Let us, then, preserve our 
virtues, dear Philothea, because they are acceptable 
to God, the sovereign oliject of all our actions. 
But as they who desire to preserve fruits are not 
content to cover them with sugar, but also put 
them into vessels that are proper to keep them ; 
so, although the love of God be the principal pre- 
server of our virtues, yet we may further employ 
our good name as very profitable for that purpose. 

Yet we must not be over-nice in regard to the 
preservation of our good name ; for those who are 
too tender and sensible in this point are like those 
persons who, for every slight indisposition, take 
physic, and, thinking to preserve their health, 
quite destroy it. Thus, persons, by endeavoring 
to maintain their reputation so delicately, entirely 
lose it ; for by this tenderness they become whim- 
sical, quarrelsome, and insupportable, and thus 
provoke the malice of detractors. 

The overlooking and despising of an injury or 
calumny is, generally speaking, by far a more 
effectual remedy than resentment, contention, and 
revenge ; for contempt causes them to vanish ; 
whereas, if we are angry, we seem to own them. 
Crocodiles hurt only those that fear them, and 
detraction, those that are vexed ])y it. An exces- 
sive fear of losing our good name betrays a great 
distrust of its foundation, which is the truth of a 
good life. The inhabitants of towns that have 
wooden ])ridges over groat rivers fear lest they 
should be carried away by every little Hood, but 


they that have l)riclge,s of .stone only apprehend 
extraordinary inundations ; so they that have a 
soul solidly grounded on Christian virtue des])ise 
the overflowing of injurious tongues ; but those 
that find themselves weak are disturbed with every 
discourse. In a Avord, Philothea, he that is too 
anxious to preserve his reputation loses it ; and 
that person deserves to lose honor who seeks to 
receive it from those whose vices render them truly 
infamous and dishonorable. 

Keputation is but a sign to point out the resi- 
dence of virtue ; it is virtue, then, that must be 
preferred in all and through all ; wherefore, should 
any one call you a hypocrite because you are 
devout, or a coward because you have pardoned 
an injury, laugh at him; for, although such judg- 
ments are passed on us by the weak and foolish, 
we must not forsake the path of virtue, even if we 
were to lose our reputation, because we must pre- 
fer the fruit before the leaves, viz., interior and 
spiritual graces before all external goods. It is 
lawful to be jealous, but not an idolator of our 
reputation ; and, as we should not offend the eyes 
of the good, so we must not strive to satisfy those 
of the wicked. The lioard is an ornament to the 
face of a man, and the hair to that of a woman ; 
if the beard be plucked from the chin, and the hair 
from the head, it will hardly grow again ; but if 
it be only cut, nay, though it be shaved close, it 
will soon be renewed, and errow stronsfcr and 
thicker than ever; so, although our rc})utation be 
cut, or even shaved by the tongues of detractors, 
which David compares to sharp razors, we must 


not make ourselves uneasy, for it will soon shoot 
forth again, not only as fair as before, but much 
more hrni and durable. But if our vices and 
wicked course of life take away our reputation, it 
will hardly return, because it is pulled up by the 
root ; for the root of a good name are virtue and 
probity, which, as long as they remain in us, can 
always recover the honor due to it. 

If any vain conversation, idle habit, fond love, 
or custom of frequenting improper company blast 
our reputation, we must forsake these gratifications 
because our good name is of more value than such 
vain contentments. But if, for the exercise of 
piety, the advancement of devotion, or our progi-ess 
towards heaven, men grumble, murmur, and speak 
evil of us, let us leave these, like curs, to bark at 
the moon ; for should they, at any time, be able 
to cast an aspersion on our good name, and by 
that means cut and shave the beard of our reputa- 
tion, it will quickly spring up again, and the razor 
of detraction will be as advantageous to our honor 
as the pruning-knife to the vine, which makes it 
abound and multiply in fruit. 

Let us incessantly fix our eyes on Jesus Christ 
crucified, and proceed in his service with confidence 
and sincerity, but yet with wisdom and discretion ; 
he will 1)6 the protector of our reputation ; and, 
should he suffer it to be taken from us, it will be 
either to restore it with advantage, or to make us 
profit in holy humility, one ounce of which is 
preferable to ten thousand pounds of honors. Are 
we blamed unjustly, let us peaceably oppose truth 
against calumny ; does the calumny continue, let 


as also continue to humble ourselves, resigning 
our reputation, together with our soul, into the 
hands of God ; we cannot secure it better. Let 
us serve God in evil and in good report ( 2 Cor. vi. ) , 
according to the example of St. Paul, that we may 
say with David (Ps. xviii.) : "For thy sake, O 
Lord, I have borne reproach, and shame hath 
covered my face." I except, nevertheless, certain 
crimes, so horrid and infamous, that no man ought 
to suffer the false imputation of them, if he can 
justly acquit himself; and also certain persons, on 
whose reputation depends the edification of many ; 
for, in these cases, according to the opinion of 
divines, we must quietly seek a reparation of the 
wrong received. 




H^HE holy chrism, which, by apostolical tradition, 
"^^ we use m the Church of God for confirmations 
and consecrations, is composed of oil of olives 
mingled with balm, which, amongst other things, 
represents to us the two favorite and Avell-beloved 
virtues which shone forth in the sacred i)erson of 
our Lord, and which he has strenuously recom- 
mended to us ; as if by them our hearts ought to 
be in a particular manner consecrated to his 
service, and dedicated to his imitation. "Learo 


of me," says he, "for I am meek and humble of 
heart." (Matt. xii. 29.) "Humility" perfects us 
with respect to God ; and " meekness," with regard 
to our neighbor. The bahii, which, as I have 
before observed, always sinks l)eneath all other 
liquors, represents humility ; and the oil of olives, 
that swims above, represents meekness and mild- 
ness,- which surmount all things, and excel 
amongst virtues, as he'mg the flower of charity, 
which, according to St. Bernard, is then in its 
perfection, when it is not only patient, but also 
meek and mild. But take care, Philothea, that 
this mystical chrism, compounded of meekness and 
humility, be Avithin your heart, for it is one of the 
great artifices of the enemy to make many deceive 
themselves with the expressions and exterior ap- 
pearance of these two virtues, who, not exam- 
ining thoroughly their interior affections, think 
themselves to be huml^le and meek ; whereas, in 
effect, there are no virtues to which they have less 
pretensions. This may be easily discovered, for, 
notwithstanding all their ceremonious mildness 
and humility, at the least cross word, or smallest 
injury, they exhibit an unparalleled arrogance. 
It is said that those who have taken the preserva- 
tive which is commonly called " the grace of St. 
Paul," do not swell when they are bitten and stung 
by a viper, provided the preservative be of the 
best sort; in like manner, when humility and 
meekness are good and true, they preserve us 
from that swelling and burning heat which injuries 
are wont to raise in our hearts. But if, being 
stung and bitten by detractors and enemies, we 


swell, and are enraged, it is a certain sign that 
neither our humility nor meekness is true and 
sincere, but only apparent and artificial. 

That holy and illustrious patriarch Joseph, 
sending back his brethren from Egypt to his 
father's house, gave them this only advice : "Be 
not angry Avith one another by the way." Gen. xlv. 
29. I say the same to you, Philothea ; this wretched 
life is but a journey to the happy life to come ; 
let us not, then, be angry with each other 1)y the 
way, but rather march on with the troop of our 
brethren and companions meekly, peaceably, and 
lovingly ; nay, I say to you, absolutely and with- 
out exception, be not angry at all if it be possible, 
and admit no pretext whatsoever to o]oen the gate 
of your heart to so destructive a passion ; for St. 
James tells us positively, and without reservation, 
"The anger of man works not the justice of God." 
St. James ii. 20. We must, indeed, resist evil, and 
restrain the vices of those that are under our 
charge constantly and courageously, but yet with 
meekness and compassion. Nothing so soon 
api)eases the enraged ele})hant as the sight of i. 
little lamb, and nothing so easily breaks the forct 
of a cannon-shot as wool. We do not value so 
much the correction Avhich proceeds from passion, 
though it be accompanied with reason, as that 
which })roceeds from reason alone ; for the reasona- 
ble soul, being naturally subject to reason, is 
never subject to ])assion ])ut through tyranny ; 
and, therefore, when reason is accompanied by 
passion, she makes herself odious, her just 
government being debased by the fellowship of 


tyranny. Princes do honor to their people, and 
make them rejoice exceedingly, when they visit 
them with a peaceable train ; but when they come 
at the head of armies, though it be for the common 
good, their visits are always disagreeable ; for 
although they cause military discipline to be 
rigorously observed among their soldiers, yet they 
can never do it so efiectually but that some disor- 
ders will always happen, by which the peasant 
will be a sufferer. In like manner, as long; as 
reason rules, and peaceably exercises chastise- 
ments, corrections, and reprehensions, although 
severely and exactly, every one loves and approves 
it; but when she l)rings anger, passion, and rage, 
which St. Austin calls her soldiers, along with 
her, she rather makes herself feared than loved, 
and even her own disordered heart is always the 
sutierer. "It is better," says the same St. Austin, 
writing to Profuturus, " to deny entrance to just 
and reasonable anger, than to admit to it, be it 
ever so little ; because, being once admitted, it is 
with difBcuhy driven out again ; for it enters as a 
little twig, and in a moment becomes a beam ; and 
if it can but once gain the night of us, and the sun 
set upon it, which the apostle forbids, it turns into 
a hatred, from which we have scarce any means to 
rid ourselves ; for it nourishes itself under a thou- 
sand false pretexts, since there was never an angry 
man that thought this anger unjust. 

It is better, then, to attem[)t to find the Avay 
to live without anger, than pretend to make a 
moderate and discreet use of it ; and when, through 
our imperfections and frailty, we find our'^elves 


surprised, it is better to drive it away speedily 
than enter into a parley ; for, if we give it ever so 
little leisure, it Avill become mistress of the place, 
like the serpent, who easily draws in his whole 
body where he can once get in his head. 

But how shall I banish it? you may say. 
You must, my dear Philothea, at the first alarm, 
speedily muster your forces ; not violently, not 
tumultuously, but mildly, and yet seriously ; for 
as we hear the ushers in public halls and courts 
of justice crying Silence, make more noise than 
the Avhole asseml)ly ; so it frequently happens 
that, by endeavoring with violence to restrain our 
anger, we stir up more trouble in our heart than 
wrath has excited before ; and the heart, being 
thus agitated) can be no longer master of itself. 
After this meek efibrt practise the advice which 
St. Austin, in his old age, gave the young bishop 
Auxilius. Do, says he, that which a man should 
do, if that befall you of which the man of God 
speaks in the Psalms: "My eye is troubled with 
wrath." Ps. xxx. Have recourse to God, crying 
out, " Have mercy on me, O Lord ! " that he may 
stretch forth his right hand to repress your anger. 
I mean we must invoke the assistance of God, 
when we find ourselves excited to wrath, in imi- 
tation of the apostles when they were tossed by 
the wind and the storm upon the waters ; for he 
will command our passions to cease, and a great 
calm shall ensue. But the prayer which is 
made against ])resent and })rcssing anger nnist 
always be performed calmly, and not violently ; 
•ind they must be observ<j(l ii) all the remedies 


ajrainst this evil. Moreover, as soon as ever 
you perceive yourself guilty of an act of wrath, 
repair the fault immediately, by an act of meek- 
ness towards the same person against whom 3'ou 
were angry. For, as it is a sovereign remedy 
against a lie, to contradict it upon the spot, as 
soon as Ave perceive we have told it, so we must 
repair anger instantly by a contrary act of meek- 
ness ; for fresh wounds are most easily cured. 

Again, when your mind is in a state of tran- 
quillity, supply yourself with meekness, speaking 
all your words, and doing all your actions, little 
and great, in the mildest manner possible, calling 
to mind, that as the Spouse- in the Canticles has 
not only honey in her lips, on her tongue, and in 
her breast, but milk also, so we must not only 
have our words sweet towards our neighbor, but 
also our whole breast ; that is to say, the whole 
^'nterior of our soul ; neither must we have the 
aromatic and fragrant sweetness of honey only, 
VIZ., the sweetness of civil conversation with 
strangers, but also the sweetness of milk amongst 
our family and neighbors ; in which those greatly 
fail, who in the street seem to be angels, and in 
their houses demons. 




NE of the best exercises of meekness we can 
perform is that of which the sul)ject is 
within ourselves, in never fretting at our own 
imperfections, for though reason requires that we 
should be sorry when we commit any fault, yet 
we must refrain from that bitter, gloomy, spiteful, 
und })assionate displeasure, for which many are 
greatly to blame, who, being overcome by anger, 
are angry for having been angry, and vexed to see 
themselves vexed ; for by this means they keep 
their heart perpetually steeped in passion ; and, 
though it seems as if the second anger destroyed 
the first, it serves, nevertheless, to open a passage 
for fresh anger on the first occasion that shall 
present itself. Besides, this anger and vexation 
against ourselves tend to pride, and flovv from no 
other source than self-love, which is troubled and 
disquieted to see itself imperfect. We nmst be 
displeased at our faults, ])ut in a peaceabhi, set- 
tled, and tirm manner; for, as a judge i)unislies 
malefactors much more justly when he is guided 
in his decisions by reason, and proceeds with the 
spirit of tranquillity, than when he acts with 
violence and i)assion (hocause, judging m passion, 
he does not ])unish the faults according to their 
enormity, but according to his passion), so we 
correct ourselves much better by a calm and 


steady repentance, than by that which is harsh, 
turbulent, and passionate ; for repentance exer- 
cised with violence proceeds not according to 
the quality of our faults, but according to our in- 
clinations. For example, he that affects chastity 
will vex himself beyond all bounds at the least 
fault he commits against that virtue, and will but 
laugh at a gross detraction he shall have beep 
guilty of; on the other hand, he that hates de- 
traction torments himself for a slight murmur, 
and makes no account of a gross fault committed 
against chastity ; and so of others. Now, all this 
springs from this source, that these men, in the 
judgment of their conscience, are not guided by 
reason, but by passion. 

Believe me, Philothea, as the mild and affec- 
tionate reproofs of a father have far greater power 
to reclaim his child than rage and passion ; so 
when we have committed any fault, if we repre- 
hend our heart with mild and calm remonstran^^es, 
having more compassion for it than passion 
against it, sweetly encouraging it to amendment, 
the repentance it shall conceive by this means 
will sink much deeper, and penetrate it more 
effectually, than a fretful, injurious, and stormy 

If, for example, I had formed a strong resolu- 
tion not to yield to the sin of vanity, and yet had 
fallen into it, I would not reprove my heart after 
this manner ; "Art thou not wretched and abomi- 
nable, that, after so many resolutions, hast suf- 
fered thyself to be thus carried away by vanity? 
Die with shame ; lift up no more thy eyes to 


heaven, blind, impudent traitor as thou art, a 
rebel to thy God ; " but I would correct it thus, 
rationally saying, by way of compassion : " Alas, 
my poor heart, behold we are fallen into the pit 
we had so hrmly resolved to avoid ! Well, let us 
rise again, and quit it forever; let us call upon 
the mercy of God, and hope tliat it will assist us 
to be more constant for the time to come, and let 
us enter again the path of humility. Let us be en- 
couraged ; let us from this day be more upon our 
guard ; God will help us ; we shall do better ; " 
and on this reprehension I would build a firm and 
constant resolution never more to relapse into 
that fault, using the proper means to avoid it by 
the advice of my director. 

However, if any one should find his heart not 
sufiiciently moved with this mild manner of rep- 
rehension, he may use one more sharp and severe, 
to excite it to deeper confusion, provided that he 
afterwards closes up all his grief and angler with 
a sweet and consoling confidence in God, in imita- 
tion of that illustrious penitent, wIk), seeing his 
soul afiHicted, raised it up in this manner, Ps. 
xliii. 5: "Why art thou sad, O my soul, and 
why dost thou disquiet me? Hope in God, for I 
will still give praise to him, who is the salvation 
of my countenance, and my God." 

Raise up your heart, then, again whenever it 
falls, but fairly and softly; humbling yourself 
before God, through the knowledge of your own 
misery, but without being sur[)rised at your fall, 
for it is no wonder that weakness should be weak, 
or misery wretched : detest, nevertheless, with all 


your power, the offence God has received from 
you, and return to your way of virtue, which you 
had forsaken, with great courage and confidence 
in his mercy. 




^W^HE care and diligence with which Ave should 
'^ attend to our concerns must never be con- 
founded with anxiety and solicitude. The angels 
are careful of our salvation, and procure it with 
diligence, yet they are never agitated by anxiety 
and solicitude ; for care and diligence naturally 
result from their charity, whereas solicitude and 
anxiety are utterly incompatible with their fe- 
licity ; because the former may l)e accompanied 
by a calm and tranquil state of mind, whereas 
the latter never can. 

Be careful and attentive, then, O Philothea ! 
to all those affairs which God has committed to 
your care, for such a disposition in you is agree- 
able to the will of his divine Majesty, without 
suffering your care and attention to degenerate 
into inquietude or anxiety ; be not flurried about 
them, for an over-solicitude disturl)s the reason 
and judgment, and prevents us from doing that 
properly for the execution of which we are so 
eager and anxious. 


When our Lord reprehended Martha, he said : 
" Martha, Martha, thou art sohcitous, and art 
troubled about many things. You must here 
observe, that she would not have been "troubled," 
had she been but merely diligent ; but, being 
over-concerned and disquieted, she hurried and 
troubled herself, and therefore received this rep- 
rehension from our Lord. As rivers, that flow 
slowly through the plains, bear large boats and 
rich merchandise ; and the rain, which falls gently 
in the open fields, makes them fruitful in grass and 
corn ; or, as torrents and rivers, which run 
rapidly, and overflow the grounds, ruin th«, 
bordering country, and render it unprofitable foi 
culture ; so, in like manner, vehement and tem- 
pestuous rains spoil the fields and meadows. 
That work is never well executed which is done 
with too much eagerness and hurry. We nnist listen 
leisurely, according to the proverb. " He that is 
in haste," says Solomon, Prov. xix. 2, " is in 
danger of stuml)ling." We perform our actions 
soon enough when we perform them well. As 
drones, although they make more noise, and are 
more eager at work than bees, make only wax, 
and no honey, so they that hurry themselves with 
a tormenting anxiety, and eager solicitude, never 
do much, and the little they do perform is never 
very profitable. 

As flies do not trouble us by their strength, but 
by their multitudes, so affjiirs of importance give 
us not so much tr()ul)le as trifling ones, when they 
tre in great number. Undertake, then, all your 
aflairs with a calm and peaceable mind, and en- 


deavor to despatch them in order, one after an- 
other ; for, if you make an effort to do them all at 
once, or in disorder, your spirit will ])e so over- 
charged and depressed, that it will probably sink 
under the burden without effecting anything. 

In all yoiu- affairs rely wholly on Divine Provi- 
dence, through which alone you must look for 
success ; labor, nevertheless, quietly on youi" 
part, to cooperate with its designs, and then you 
may be assured, if you trust, as you ought, in 
God, the success which shall come to you shall 
be always that which is the most profital)le for 
you, whether it appear good or bad, according 
to your private judgment. Imitate little chil- 
dren, who, as they with one hand hold fast by 
their father, with the other gather strawberries or 
blackberries along the hedges ; so you, gathering 
and handling the goods of this world with one 
hand, must with the other always hold fast the 
hand of your heavenly Father, turning yourself 
towards him, from time to time, to see if your 
actions or occupations be pleasing to him ; but, 
above all things, take heed that you never leave 
his protecting hand, nor think to gather more ; 
for, should he forsake you, you will not be able to 
go a step further without falling to the ground. 
My meaning is, Philothea, that amidst those or- 
dinary affairs and occupations, that require not so 
earnest an attention, you should look more on 
God than on them ; and when they are of such 
importance as to require your whole attention, 
that then, also, you should look, from time to time, 
towards God, like mariners, who, to arrive at tie 


port to which they are bound, look more up 
towards heaven than down on the sea on which 
they sail ; thus will God work with you, in you, 
and for you, and your labor shall be followed witi 




'HARITY alone can place us in perfection, but 
^^obedience, chastity, aud poverty, are the three 
principal means to attain to it. Obedience con- 
secrates our heart : chastity, our body ; and poverty, 
our means, to the love and service of God. These 
three branches of the spiritual cross are grounded 
on a fourth, viz., humilitv. I shall say nothino- of 
these three virtues, as they are solennily vowed, 
because this subject concerns the religious only ; 
nor even as they are simply vowed : for though a 
vow gives many graces and merits to virtues, 3'et, 
to make us perfect, it is not necessary they should 
be vowed, provided they l)e observed. For tlunigh 
being vowed, and especially solemnly, they place 
a man in the state of perfection ; yot to arrive 
at perfection itself, it suffices that they be ob- 
served : there being a material difference l)etwixC 
the state of perfection and perfection itself; since 
all l)isliops and religious are in the state of per- 
fection ; and yet, alas ! all are not arrived at 
perfection itself, as is too plainly tc be seen 


Let us endeavor, then, Philothea, to practise well 
these virtues, each one according to his vocation ; 
for though they do not place us in the state of 
perfection, yet they will make us perfect ; and, 
indeed, every one is obliged to practise them, 
thouijh not all after the same manner. 

There are two sorts of obedience, the one nec- 
essary, the other voluntary. By that which is 
necessary, you must obey your ecclesiastical 
superiors, as the Pope, the Bishop, the Parish 
Priest, and such as are commissioned by them ; as 
also your civil superiors, such as your Prince, 
and the magistrates he has establi?shed for admin- 
istering justice ; and, finally, your domestic su- 
periors, viz., your father and mother, master and 
mistress. Now, this obedience is called necessary, 
because no man can exempt himself from the 
duty of obeying his superiors, God having placed 
them in authority to command and govern, each 
in the department that is assigned to him. Yoa 
must, then, of necessity obey their commands ; but, 
to be perfect, follow their counsels also, nay, even 
their desires and inclinations, so far as charity and 
discretion will permit. Obey them when they order 
that which is agreeable, as to eat, or to take your 
recreation ; for though there seems no great virtue 
to obey on such occasions, yet it would be a 
great vice to disobey. Obey them in things 
indifferent, as to wear this or that dress ; to go 
one way or another; to sing or to be silent; and 
this will ])e a very commendable obedience. Obey 
them in things hard, troublesome, and disagreeable ; 
and thip will be a perfect obedience. Obey, in 


fine, meekly, without reply ; readily, without 
delay ; cheerfully, Avithout repining ; and, above all, 
obey lovingly, for the love of him, who, through 
his love for us, made hnnself obedient unto death, 
even to the death of the cross, and who, as St. 
Bernard says, rather chose to part with his life 
than his obedience. 

That you may learn effectually to obey your 
superiors, condescend easily to the will of your 
equals, yielding to their opinions in what is not sin. 
without being contentious or obstinate. Accommo- 
date yourself cheerfully to the desires of youl 
inferiors, as far as reason will permit ; nevel 
exercise an imperious authority over them so long 
as they are good. It is an illusion to believe that 
we should obey with ease if we were religiousj 
when we feel ourselves so backward and stubborn 
in what regards obedience to those whom God has 
placed ovei us. 

AVe call that obedience voluntary to which we 
oblige ourselves by our own choice, and which is 
not imposed on us by another. We do not com- 
monly choose our prince, our bishop, our fathei! 
or mother ; and even wives, many times, do not 
choose their husbands ; but we choose our con- 
fessor and director. If, then, in choosing we make 
a vow to obey, as the holy mother Tevexa did, who, 
as has been already observed, besides her obe- 
dience, solemnly vowed to the superior of her 
order, bound herself by a simple vow, to obey 
father Gratian ; or if, without a vow we dedicate 
ourselves to the obedience of any one, this obe- 
dience is always called voluntary, on account of 


its being grounded on our own free will and 

We must obey every one of our superiors, 
according to the charge he has over us. In 
political matters we must obey our prince ; in 
ecclesiastical, our prelates ; in domestic, our father, 
master, or husband ; and, in what regards the 
private conduct of the soul, om- ghostly "father, or 

Kequest your ghostly father to order you all 
the actions of piety you are to perform, in order 
that they may acquire a doul)le value ; the one of 
themselves, liecause they are works of piety ; the 
other of obedience to his commands, and in vh'tue 
of which they are performed. Happ}' are the 
obedient, for God will never sutler them to go 




sHASTITY, the lily of virtues, makes men 
^ almost equal to angels. Nothing is beautiful 
but what is pure, and the purity of men is chastity. 
Chastity is called honesli/, and the possession of 
it honor ; it is also named integrity/, and the 
op})osite, vice, corriqitioii. In short, it has its 
|)eculiar glory, to be the fair and unspotte'^ virtue 
of l)oth soul and body. 

It is nevei lawful to draw an impure pleasure 


from our b<'dies in any manner whatsoevei, ex- 
cept in lawful marriage, the sanctity of which 
may, l)y a just compensation, repair the damage 
we receive in that delectation ; and yet, even in 
marriage itself, the honesty of the intention must 
be observed, to the end that, if there be any 
indecency in the pleasure that is taken, there 
may be nothing but honesty in the will that 
takes it. 

The cb.aste heart is like the mother-pearl, that 
can receive no drop of water but such as comes 
from heaven ; for it can accept of no pleasure 
but that of marriage, which is ordained from 
heaven ; out of which it is not allowed so much 
as to think of it, so as to take a voluntary and 
delil)erate deliiiht in the thou<2:ht. 

For the first degree of this virtue, Philothea, 
beware of admitting any kind of forbidden pleas- 
ure, as all those are which are taken out of, or 
even in, marriage, when they are taken contrary 
to the rule of marriage. For the second, refrain 
as much as is possible from all unprofitable and 
superfluous delights, although lawful and per- 
mitted. For the tltird, set not your affection on 
pleasures and delights which arc ordained and 
commanded ; for though we must take these de- 
lectations that are necessary, I mean those which 
concern the end and institution of holy matrimony, 
yet we must never set our heart and mind upon 

As to the rest, every one stands in great need 
of this virtue. They that are in the state of 
■Vidowhood ouiiht to have a courageous chastity, 


to despise no! only present or future objects, but 
to resist also the impure imaginiitions which for- 
mer pleasures, lawfully received in marriage, may 
produce in their minds, which on this account 
are more susceptible of unclean allurements. For 
this cause St. Austin admires the purity of his 
friend Alipius, who had wholly forgotten and 
despised the pleasures of the flesh, of which, 
nevertheless, he had some experience in his youth. 

In effect, as when fruits are entire and sound, 
they may be preserved, some in straw, some in 
sand, and some in their own leaves, but beins" 
once cut or bruised, it is almost impossible to 
preserve them but by honey and sugar, in the 
form of sweetmeats ; so untainted chastity may 
many ways be kept ; but, after it has once been 
violated, nothing can preserve it but an extraor- 
dinary devotion, which, as I have often repeated, 
is the true honey and sugar of the spirit. 

Virgins have need of a chastity extremely 
sincere, nice, and tender, to banish from their 
hearts all sorts of curious thoughts, and to de- 
spise, with an absolute contempt, all sorts of un- 
clean pleasures ; which in truth deserve not to 
be desired by men, since they are better enjoyed 
by swine. Let, then, these pure souls be careful 
never to doubt but that chastity is incomparably 
better than all that which is incompatii)le with 
it ; for, as the great St. Jerome says, the enemy 
violently tempts virgins to desire to make a trial 
of these i)]easures, representing them as infinitely 
more agreeable and delightful than indeed they 
are,- which often troul)les them very much, whilstr 


as this holy father says, they esteem that more 
sweet of which they know nothing. 

For as the little butterfly, seeing the flame, 
hovers with a curiosity about it, to try whether 
it be as sweet as it is fair, and, Ijeing borne awaj 
with this fancy, ceases not till it is destroyed at 
the very first trial ; so young people suffer them- 
selves frequently to be so possessed with the 
ftxlse and foolish opinion they have formed of 
the pleasure of voluptuous desire, that after 
many curious thoughts they at length ruin them- 
selves, and perish in the flames ; more foolish in 
this than the butterflies, for these have some 
cause to imagine that the fire is sweet, because it 
is so beautiful ; but those knowing that which 
they seek to be extremely dishonest, cease not, 
nevertheless, to set a value on that brutish pleasure. 

But as for those who are married, it is most 
true, thouMi the vulo;ar cannot conceive it, that 
chastity is very necessary, also, for them ; because, 
in respect of them, it consists not in abstaining 
absolutely from carnal pleasures, but in contain- 
ing themselves in the midst of pleasures. Now 
as this commandment. Be anrjry and sin not, 
is, in my opinion, more difficult to be observed 
than this. Be not angry ; and as one may more 
easily abstain from anger than regulate it ; so it 
is easier to keep ourselves altogether from car- 
nal pleasures than to preserve a moderation in 
them. It is true, that the holy liberty of mar- 
riage has a particular force to extinguish the 
fire of concupiscence ; but the frailty of them 
that enjoys this liberty passes easily from per- 


mission to dissolution, and from use to abuoe ; 
and as we see many rich men steal, not through 
want but avarice, so also we may observe many 
married people fall into excess by mere intem- 
perance and incontinency, notwithstanding the 
lawful object to which they ought and might 
confine themselves ; their concupiscence being 
like wildfire, which runs l)urning here and there, 
without resting in any one place. It is always 
dangerous to take violent medicines, for if we 
take more than we should, or if they be not well 
prepared, they may be attended w^ith fatal con- 
sequences. Marriage was blessed and ordained 
in part as a remedy for concupiscence, and, 
doubtless, it is a very good remedy, but yet 
violent, and consequently very dangerous, if it 
be not used with discretion. 

I add, that the variety of human affairs, be- 
sides long diseases, oftentimes separates husbands 
from their wives ; and therefore married people 
have need of two kinds of chastity : the one for 
absolute alistinence, Avhen they are separated 
upon the occasions of w^hich I have been speak- 
ing ; the other for moderation, w^hen they are 
together in the ordinary course. St. Catharine 
of Sienna saw, amongst the damned, many souls 
grievously tormented for having violated the sanc- 
tity of marriage, which happened, said ohe, not 
for the enormity of the sin, for murders and blas- 
phemies are more enormous, but because they that 
commit it make no conscience of it, and thereof 
continue long in it. 

You see, then, that chastity is necessary for all 


classes of people : " Follow peace with all men," 
says the Apostle, "and holiness, without which no 
man sliall see God ; " by holiness is here under- 
stood " chastity " ; as St. Jerome and St. Chrysos- 
tom observe. No, Philothea, no one shall see God 
without chastity ; no one shall dwell in his holy 
tabernacle, that is not clean of heart; and, as our 
Saviour himself says, Apoc. xxii. 15, "Dogs and 
the unchaste shall be banished thence," and "Blessed 
are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." St. 
Matt. V. 8. 



^f^E exceedingly diligent in turning yourself from 
*^ all the approaches and allurements of inconti- 
nency : foi- this evil works insensibly, and, from 
small beginnings, advances to great accidents, 
which are always more easy to avoid than to cure. 
Human bodies are like glasses, which cannot be 
carried, when they touch one another, without 
danger of being broken, or like fruits which, 
though ever so sound and seasonable, yet by 
touching one another are impaired. Water itself, 
in a vessel, be it ever so fresh, being once touched 
by any beast of the earth, cannot long retain its 
freshness. Never suffer any one, Philothea, to 
touch you uncivilly, either through play or love ; 
for though perhaps chastity may be preserved in 


those actions which are rather light than lewd, yet 
the freshness and flower of chastity always re- 
ceive some detriment and loss ; but to suffer your- 
self to be touched immodestly is the utter ruin of 

Chastity depends on the heart as its source, yet 
regards the l)ody as its subject ; and therefore it 
may be lost as well by the exterior senses of the 
body as the interior thoughts and desires of ihe 
heart. It is impurity to behold, to hear, to speak, 
to smell, or touch any immodest thing in which 
the heart entertains itself, and takes pleasure. St. 
Paul says positively, " Let not fornication be so 
much as once named amongst you." 

The bees not only have an aversion to carrion, 
but avoid and hate extremely all sorts of stench 
which proceed from it. The sacred Spouse, in the 
Canticles, has her hands distilling myrrh, which is 
the antidote against corruption ; her lips are bound 
up with a scarlet ribbon, the mark of her modesty 
in her words ; she has the eyes of a dove, by 
reason of her cleanness ; her ears have gold ear- 
rings, in token of their purity ; her nose is amongst 
the cedars of Lebanon, which are incorruptible 
wood ; such ought to be the devout soul : chaste, 
clean, and pure, in hands, lips, ears, eyes, and in 
all her body. 

To this purpose I will remind you of an ex- 
pression which the ancient father John Cassian 
relates, as coming from the mouth of the great St. 
Basil, who, speaking of himself, said one day : "I 
know not what belongs to a woman, yet I am not 
a virgin. Certainly chastity may be lost as many 


ways as there are kinds of immodesty and wanton- 
ness ; so tliat, according astliey are great or little, 
some weaken it, others wound it, and others de- 
stroy it entirely. There are certain indiscreet and 
sensual familiarities and passions, which, to speak 
properly, do not destroy chastity, and yet they 
weaken it, leave it languishing, and stain its beau- 
tiful whiteness. There are other familiarities and 
passions not only indiscreet, l>ut vicious ; not only 
fond, but dishonest ; not only sensual, but carnal ; 
and by these chastity is at least grievously wounded. 
I say, at least; because it dies by them, and 
perishes altogether, when these fooleries and wan- 
ton dalliances cause in the flesh the utmost effect 
of impure delight ; for then chastity perishes in 
a more unworthy, more wicked, more wretchea 
manner than when it is lost by fornication, or even 
by adultery and incest ; since these latter kinds of 
filthiness are but sins, l)ut the former, as TertulliaT) 
says in his book of Chastity, are monsters of iniq- 
uity and sin. Now, neither does Cassian believe, 
nor do I believe myself, that St. Basil spoke of any 
such disorder, when he accused himself of not be- 
ing a virgin ; but I am of opinion that he only 
said this in relation to pleasure in evil thoughts, 
which, though they had not defiled his body, yet 
had contaminated the purity of which generous 
souls are exceedingly jealous. 

Frequent not the company of immodest persons, 
especially if they be also im})udcnt, as is generally 
the case ; for as when goats touch the sweet al- 
mond trees with their tongues, they make them 
become bitter : so these corrupted souls and in 


fected hearts scarcely speak to any, either of the 
same or a diiFerent sex, without causing them to 
fall in some degree from purity ; they have poison 
in their eyes and in their breath, like basilisks. 
On the contrary, keep company Avith the chaste 
and virtuous ; often meditate upon and road holy 
thinjjs ; for the word of God is chaste, and makes 
those also chaste that delioht in it ; which made 
David compare it to the Topaz, — a precious stone 
which has the property of assuaging the heat of 

Keep yourself always near to Jesus Christ 
crucified, both spiritually by meditation, and 
really by the holy communion. For as they who 
lie on the herb called agnus castus become chaste 
and modest ; so you, laying down your heart to 
rest upon our Lord, who is the true, chaste, and 
immaculate Lamb, shall see that your soul and 
your heart shall soon be cleansed from all the 





^^XESSED are the poor in spirit, for theirs is 
2^ the kingdom of heaven." Matt. v. 3. Cursed, 
then, are the rich in spirit, for the misery of hell is 
their portion. He is rich in spirit who has riches 
in his spirit, or his spirit in riches ; he is poor in 


spirit who has no riches in his spirit, nor his 
spirit in riches. The halcyons form their nest like 
an apple, and leave only a little opening at the top ,• 
they build them on the sea-shore, and make them so 
firm and impenetrable that, although the waves 
surprise them, the waters never can get into them, 
hut, keeping always firm, they remain in the midst 
of the sea, upon the sea and masters of the sea. 
Your heart, dear Philothea, ought to be in this 
manner open only to heaven, and impenetrable to 
riches and all transitory things. Whatever portion 
of them you may possess, keep your heart free 
from the least affection towards them ; keep it 
always above them, and amidst riches let it hold 
them in contempt, and be the master of riches. 
Do not suffer this heavenly spirit to be the captive 
of earthly goods ; let it be aways their master, but 
never their slave. 

There is a material difference between having 
poison and being poisoned ; as apothecaries have 
almost all kinds of poisons for use, on several 
occasions, and yet are not poisoned ; because they 
have not poison in their bodies, but in their store : 
so you may possess riches without being poisoned 
with them, if you keep them in your house or 
purse, and not in your heart. To be rich in 
effect and poor in affection is the great happiness 
of a Christian ; for by this means he has the 
benefit of riches for this world, and the merit of 
poverty for the world to come. 

Alas ! Philothea, no one ever acknowledge^- 
himself to be covetous ; every one disavows thai 
base and mean passion ; every one* excuses himself 


on recount of the charge of children, which 
oppresses him, and on that wisdom which requires 
that men should establish themselves in the workl ; 
he never has too much ; some pretence is always 
found to procure more ; nay, the most covetous 
not only deny they are avaricious, but even think 
in their conscience they are not so. Covetousness 
is a malignant fever, which makes itself so much 
the more insensible, by how much the more violent 
and ardent it is. Moses saw the sacred tire which 
burned the bush, and yet did not consume it ; but 
this profane fire of avarice, on the contrary-, 
consumes and devours the covetous person, and 
yet does not burn him, for, in the midst of the most 
violent heats of his avarice, he boasts of the most 
aofr^eable coolness in the world, and esteems his 
insatiable drought to be a natural and and pleasing 

If you have a longing desire to possess the 
goods which you have not, though you may say 
you would not possess them unjustly, you are, 
nevertheless, truly covetous. He that has a long- 
ing, ardent, and restless desire to drink, although 
he would drink nothing but water, is certainly 

O Philothea ! I know not whether it be a jus- 
tifiable desire to wish to have that justly which 
another justly possesses ; for it seems by this desire 
we should serve our own convenience to the 
prejudice of another. If a man possesses any- 
thing justly, has he not more reason to keep it 
justly than we to desire it justly? Why, then, do 
we extend our desires to his possessions, to de 


prive him of them ? At the best, if this desire be 
just, it certainly is not charitable ; for we would 
not, in any case, that another man should desire, 
although justly, that which we have a desire to keep 
justly. This was the sin of Achad, who desired 
to have Naboth's vineyard justly, which Naboth 
much more justly desired to keep ; Achad desired 
with an ardent and impatient desire, and therefore 
ofiended God. 

It is time enough, dear Philothea, to desire your 
neighbor's goods when he is desirous to part with 
them ; for then his desire will make yours not only 
just, but charitable also ; for I am willing you 
should take care to increase your wealth, provided 
it may be done, not only justly, but with peace 
and charity. 

If you have a strong attachment to the goods 
you possess, if you be too solicitous al)out them, 
set your heart on them, have them always in your 
thoughts, and fear the loss of them with a sensible 
apprehension, believe me you are still feverish ; 
for they that have a fever drink the water that is 
ffiven them with a certain eaijerness of attention 
and satisfaction which the healthy are not accus- 
tomed to have. It is impossible to take much 
pleasure in laughing without having an extraor- 
dinary aftection for it. 

If, when you sulfer loss of goods, you find your 
heart disconsolate, believe mc, l^hilothca, you have 
too great an atfection for Ihcm ; for nothing can be 
a stronger proof thereof than your afliiction for 
their loss. 

Desire not, then, with a full and express desire. 


the wealth which you have not, and do not place 
your affection on that which you have ; grieve not 
tpr the losses which may liefall you, and then you 
shall have some reason to l^elieve that, though 
rich in effect, you are not so in affection, ])ut rather 
poor in spirit, and consequently blessed, because 
the kingdom of heaven belongs to you. 




ffllHE painter, Parrhasius, painted the people of 
<^ Athens in a very ingenious manner, represent- 
ing their several variable dispositions, — choleric, 
unjust, inconstant, courteous, gentle, merciful, 
haughty, proud, humble, resolute, and timorous, 
and all this together. But I, dear Philothea, 
would infuse into your heart riches and poverty, 
a great care and a great contempt of temporal 

Be more careful than worldly men are, to make 
your goods profitable and fruitful. Are not the 
gardeners of great princes more careful and diligent 
in cultivating and embellishing the gardens com- 
mitted to their charge than if they were their own ? 
And why? Because they consider them as the 
gardens of kings and princes, to whom they desire 
to make themselves acceptable by their services. 


Philothea, our possessions are not our own, but 
were lent us by God to cultivate, and it is his will 
that we should render them fruitful and profitable, 
and therefore we do him an agreeable service in 
being careful of them ; but then it must be a 
greater and more solid care than that which 
worldlings have of their goods ; for they laboi 
only for love of themselves, but we must laboi 
for the love of God. Now, as self-love is violent, 
turbulent and impetuous, so the care which pro- 
ceeds from it is full of trouble, uneasiness, and 
disquiet ; /and as the love of God is sweet, peaceable, 
and calm, so the care which proceeds from this love, 
although it be for worldly goods, is yet amiable, 
sweet, and agreeable. Let us, then, exercise this 
peaceable care of preserving, nay, of even 
increasing, our temporal goods, whenever just 
occasions shall present themselves, and as far as 
our condition requires, for God desires us to do 
so throu2:h love of him. 

But beware lest self-love deceive you ; for 
sometimes it counterfeits the love of God so closely 
that one would imagine it to be the same. Now, 
that it may not deceive you, and that the care of 
your temporal goods may not degenerate into 
covetousncss, besides what I said in the former 
chapter, we must practise a real poverty in the 
midst of all the riches that God has given us. 

Deprive yourself, then, frequently of some part 
of your property, by bestowing it on the poor with 
a willing heart ; for to give away what we have 
is to impoverish ourselves in pr()i)ortion as we 
give ; and the more we give the poorer we become. 


It is true, God will repay us not only in the next 
world, but even in this ; for nothing makes us so 
prosperous in this world as alms ; but till such 
time as God shall restore it to us we remain so 
much the poorer by as much as we have given. 
Oh, how holy and rich is that poverty which is 
occasioned by giving alms ! 

Love the poor and poverty, and you shall become 
truly poor, since, as the Scripture says, " we are 
made like the thins^s which we love." Love 
makes the lovers equal. "Who is weak," saith 
St. Paul, "with whom I am not weak? lie mi^-ht 
have likewise said, Who is poor, with whom I am 
not poor? For love made him resemble those 
whom he loved; if, ihen, you love the poor you 
shall be truly a partaker of their poverty, and 
poor like them. Now, if you love the poor, be 
often in their company, be glad to see them in 
your house, and to visit them in theirs ; converse 
willingly with them, be pleased to have them neaf 
you in the church, in the streets, and elsewhere. 
Be poor in conversing with them, speaking to 
them as their companion ; but be rich in assisting, 
by imparting your goods to them, since you have 
more abundance. 

Besides, Philothea, content not yourself to be 
as poor, but poorer than the poor themselves ; 
but how may this be effected? The servant is 
lower than his master ; make yourself, then, a 
servant of the poor ; go and serve them in their 
beds when they are sick ; serve them with your 
own hands ; prepare their food for them yourself, 
and at your own expense ; be their sempstress 


and laundress. O PliilotheM ! this service is more 
glorious than a kingdom. 

I cannot sufficiently admire the ardor with which 
this counsel was practised by St. Lewis, one of 
the greatest kings that ever graced a throne ; great 
in every kind of greatness. He frequently served 
at table the poor whom he maintained, and caused 
three poor men to dine with him almost every day, 
and many times ate the remainder of their food 
with an incomparable love. When he visited the 
hospitals, which he frequently did, he commonly 
served the leprous, ulcerous, and such as had the 
most loathsome diseases, kneeling on the ground, 
respecting in their persons the Saviour of the 
world, and cherishing them as tenderly as any 
fond mother cherishes her child. St. Elizabeth, 
daughter of the king of Hungary, often visited 
the poor, and, for her recreation, sometimes 
clothed herself like a poor woman among her 
ladies, saying to them, "If I were poor I would 
dress in this manner." Good God, Philothea, 
how poor were this prince and princess in the 
midst of their riches, and how rich in their i)ov- 
erty ! Blessed are they who are poor in this 
manner, for to them l^elongs the kingdom of heaven. 
" I was hungry, and you gave me to eat ; I was 
naked, and you clothed me ; come, possess the 
kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of 
the world," he who is the King of the poor, as 
well as of kings, will say, when he addresses 
himself to the elect at the day of general judg- 

There is no one, who, on some occasion or other. 


docs not feel a want of some conveniency. Some- 
times we receive a visit from a guest, wliom we would 
entertain very well, but at present have not the 
means ; at other times, our best clothes are in one 
place when we want them in another, where we 
must be seen. Ao-ain, sometimes all the wines in 
our cellar ferment and turn, so that there remam 
only those that are bad or green ; at another time 
we happen to stop at some poor village, where all 
things are wanting ; where we have neither bed, 
chamber, tal)le, nor attendance ; in fine, it is very 
often easy to suffer the want of something, be 
we ever so rich. Now, this is to be poor in 
effect, with regard to the things we want. Philo- 
thea, rejoice on these occasions, accept them with 
a good heart, and sutler them cheerfully. 

But should you meet with losses which im- 
poverish you, more or less, as in the case of 
tempests, fires, inundations, dearths, robberies, 
or lawsuits, then is the proper season to practise 
poverty, receiving those losses with meekness, 
and submitting with patience and constancy to 
your impoverishment. Esau presented himself to 
his father with his hands covered with hair, and 
Jacob did the same ; hut as the hair on Jacol^'s 
hands belonged not to his skin, but his gloves, one 
might take away the hair without injuring the 
skin ; on the conti'ary, the hair on the hands of 
Esau adhered to his skin, so that if any one would 
attempt to pluck off his hair it would have caused 
excessive pain. Thus, when our worldly goods 
cleave to our heart, if a tempest, a thief, or an 
impostor, should take any part of them from us. 


what complaints, trouble, and impatience do we 
not fall into ? But when our goods do not cleave 
to our hearts, and are only considered on account 
of the care God would have us take of them, should 
they be taken from us, we lose neither our peace 
nor our senses. Hence the difference betwixt 
beasts and men, as to their garments ; for as the 
garments of the former, viz., their skin, adhere to 
their flesh, those of the latter are only put upon 
them, so that they may be taken off" at pleasure. 



^li^,UT if you be really poor, dear Philothea, be 
•^^ likewise, for God's sake, actually poor in 
spirit : make a virtue of necessity, and value this 
precious jewel of poverty at the high I'atc it de- 
serves : its lustre is not discovered in this world, 
and yet it is exceedingly rich and beautiful. 

Be patient ; you are in good company ; our 
Lord himself, his blessed mother, the apostles, 
and innumerable saints, both men and Avomen, 
have been poor; nay, even when they might have 
been rich, they refused to be so. IIow manj 
great personages have there been, who, in spite 
of contradictions from the world, have gone to 
seek after holy poverty in cloisters and hospitals, 
and took indcfatigaljle pains to find her 1 Witness 


St. Alexins, St. Paula, St. Paulinus, St. iVngela, 
and so many others ; and behold, Philothea, this 
holy poverty, more gracious towards you, comes 
to present herself to you in your own lodging ; 
you have met her without being at the trouble of 
seeking after her ; embrace her, then, as the dear 
friend of Jesus Christ, who was born, who lived, 
and who died in poverty ; poverty was his nurse 
during the whole course of his life. 

Your poverty, Philothea, enjoys two great 
privileges, l)y means of which you may consid- 
erably enhance its merits. The first is, that she 
3ame not to you by choice, but by the will of God, 
who has made you poor, without any concurrence 
of your own will. Now, that which we receive 
purely from the will of God is ahvays very 
agreeable to hmi, provided that Ave receive it with 
a good heart, and through a love of his holy will '^ 
where there is ^east of our own there is most of 
God ; the simple and pure acceptance of God's will 
makes our offerings extremely pure. 

The second privilege of this kind of poverty is 
that it is truly poverty. That poverty which is 
praised, caressed, es*;eemed, succored, and assisted 
is nearly allied Ao riches ; at least, it is not 
altogether i)overty ; but that which is despised, 
rejected, reproAched, and abandoned, is poverty 
indeed. Such Is ordinary poverty ; for, as the 
poor are not poor l^y their own choice, but from 
necessity, their poverty is not much esteemed, for 
which reason their poverty exceeds that of the 
religious ; although otherwise the poverty of the 
religious has a very great excellency, and is much. 


more commendable, by reason of the vow, and of 
the intention for which it is chosen. 

Complain not, then, my dear Philothea, of you? 
poverty; for Ave never com})hiin ])i'it of that which 
disi)Ieases us ; and if poverty dis})U'ase 3'ou, you 
are no longer poor in s})irit, but rich in allection. 

Be not disconsolate for your not being so well 
assisted as might appear necessary ; for in this 
consists the excellence of poverty. To be willing 
to be poor, and not to feel the hardshi})s of poverty, 
is to desire the honor of poverty with the conven- 
ience of riches. 

Be not ashamed to be poor, nor to ask alms in 
charity. Receive with humility what shall be 
given you, and l)ear the denial with meekness. 
Frequently remember the journey our blessed 
Lady undertook into Egypt, to preserve the life of 
her dear Son, and how much contempt, poverty, 
and misery she was oljliged to sutler ; provided 
you live thus, 3'ou will be very rich in your 



^^OVE holds the first place among the several 
■A^ passions of the soul ; it is the sovereign of all 
the motions of the heart; it directs all the rest 
towards it, and makes us such as is the object 
of its love. Be careful, then, O Philothea 1 to 


entertain no evil love, for, if you do, you will 
presently become evil. Friendship is the most 
dangerous love of all ; because other loves may 
be without communication ; but friendship, being 
AvhoUy grounded upon it, we can hardly hold a 
comnumication of friendship with any person 
without partaking of its qualities. 

All love IS not friendship ; for when one loves 
without being again beloved, then there is love, 
but not friendship ; because friendshij) is a com- 
munication of love, therefore, where love is not 
mutual, there can be no friendship. Nor is it 
enough that it be mutual, but the parties that love 
each other must know their mutual attection, for, if 
they know it not, they have love, but not friendship. 
There must be also some kind of communication 
])etween them, which may l)e the ground of friend- 
ship. Now, according to the diversity of the 
communications, the friendship also ditiers, and 
the communications are ditlerent according to the 
variety of the things which they communicate to 
each other ; if they l)e false and \'ain, the friendship 
is also false and vain; if they be true, the friend- 
ship is likewise true ; and the more laudal)le the 
goods may be the more laudable also is the 
friendship. For as that honey is best which is 
gathered from the blossom of the most exquisite 
tlowers, so that love which is founded upon the 
most exquisite communication is the most noble. 
And as there is honey in Heraclea of Pontus, 
wdiich is poisonous, and deprives those of reason 
that eat it, because it is gathered from the aconite, 
which abounds in that couniiy ; even so the friend- 


ship, grounded upon the communication of false 
and vicious goods, is altogether false and vicious. 

The communication of carnal pleasures is a 
mutual inclination and brutish allurement, which 
can no more bear the name of friendship among 
men than that of beasts for the like eft'ects ; and if 
there was no other connnunication in marriage 
there would be no friendship at all , but because, 
besides that, there is a connnunication in matri- 
mony of life, of indusury, of goods, of affections, 
and of an indissoluble fidelity, therefore the friend- 
ship of matrimony is a true and holy friendship. A 
friendship that is grounded on the comnumication 
of sensual pleasures is utterly gross, and unworthy 
of the name of friendship ; and so is that which is 
founded on virtues which are frivolous and vain ; 
because these virtues also depend on the senses. 
I call those pleasures sensual which are immedi- 
ately and principally annexed to the exterior 
senses ; such as the pleasure to behold a beautiful 
person, to hear a sweet voice, to touch, and the 
like. I call certain vain endowments and qualities 
frivolous accomplishments, which weak minds call 
virtues and perfections. Observe how the greater 
part of silly maids, women, and young peo})Ie talk ; 
they hesitate not to say : Such a gentleman has 
many virtues and perfections, for he dances 
gracefully, he plays well at all sorts of games, 
he dresses fashionably, he sings delightfully, 
speaks eloquently, and has a fine appearance ; it is 
thus that mountebanks esteem those, in their way, 
the most virtuous who are the greatest bufibons. 

But as all these things regard the senses, so ihfr 


friendships which proceed from them are termed 
sensual, vain, and frivolous, and deserve rather the 
name of foolish fondness than of friendship ; such 
are the ordinary friendships of young people 
which are grounded on curled locks, a fine head of 
hair, smiling glances, fine clothes, affected coun- 
tenances, and idle talk; a friendship suited to the 
age of those lovers whose virtue is, as yet, only 
in the lilossom, and their judgment in the bud ; 
and, indeed, such amities being but transitory, melt 
a^ay like snow in the sun. 



IfHEN these foolish friendships are maintained 
^ between persons of ditferent sexe^, without 
pretensions of marriage, they are called fond love ; 
for being but embryos, or rather phantoms of 
friendship, they deserve not the name cither of 
true friendship or true love, by reason of their 
excessive vanity and imperfection. Now, by means 
of these fondnesses, the hearts of men and of women 
are caught and entangled with each other in vain 
and foolish affections, based upon these frivolous 
comnumications and wretched complacencies of 
which I have been just speaking. 

And although these dangerous loves, commonly 
speaking, terminate at last in carnality and down- 



right lasciviousness, yet that is not the first design 
or intention of the persons between whom they 
pass ; otherwise they woukl not l)e merely fond 
loves, but aI)so]ute impurities and uncleannesses. 
Sometimes even many years pass l)efore anything 
directly contrary to the chastity of the body hap- 
pens between them, whilst they content themselves 
with giving their hearts the pleasure of wishes, de- 
sires, sighs, amorous entertainments, and such 
like fooleries and vanities ; and this upon different 

Some have no other design than to satisfy their 
hearts with loving and being loved, following in 
this their amorous inclination ; aud these re_o-ard 
nothing in the choice of their loves but their 
instinct : so that at the first meeting with an 
agreeable object, without examining the interior, 
or the com})ortment of the person, they begin this 
fond communication, and entangle themselves in 
these WTctched nets, from which afterwards they 
find great difficulty to disengage themselves. 
Others suffer themselves to be carried to fond 
loves, by the vanity of esteeming it no small glory 
to catch and bind hearts by love. Now these 
aiming at glory in the choice they make set their 
net and lay their snares in specious, high, rare, 
and illustrious places. Others are led away at 
the same time, both by their amorous inclination 
and by vam'ty ; for though their hearts l>e altogether 
inclined to love, yet they will not engage themselves 
in it without some advantage of glory. These 
loves are always crinnnal, foolish, and vain; 
criminal, because they end at length, and terminate 


in the sin of the flesh, and because they rob God, 
the wife and the liusband, of that love, and conse- 
quently of that heart, which belonged to them ; 
foolish, because they have neither foundation nor 
reason : vain, because they yield neither profit, 
honor, nor content ; on the contrary, they are 
attended by a loss of time, are prejudicial to 
honor, and bring no other pleasure than that of an 
eagerness in pretending and hoping, without 
knowing what they would have, or to what 
they would make [)retensions. For these wretched 
and weak minds still imagine they have something 
to expect from the testimonies which they receive 
of reciprocal love; but yet they cannot tell what 
this is ; the desire of which can never end, but 
goes on continually, pressing then* hearts with 
perpetual distrusts,, jealousies, and disquietudes. 
St. Gregory Nazianzen, in his discourse, ad- 
dressed indeed to vain women, but applicable also 
to men, says : " Thy natural beauty is sufficient for 
thy husband ; but if it l)e for many men, like a 
net spread out for a flock of birds, what will be 
the consequence? He shall be pleasing to thee 
who shall please himself with thy l^eauty ; thou 
wilt return hun glance for glance, look for look ; 
presently will follow smiles and little amorous 
words, dropped by stealth at the beginning, but 
soon after they will become more familiar, and pass 
to an open courtship. Take heed, my tongue ! of 
telling what will follow : yet wUI I say this one 
truth : nothing of all those things which young 
men and women say and do together in these 
foolish complacencies is exempted from grievous 


stings. All the links of wanton loves depend oa 
one another, and follow one another as one piece 
of iron, touched by the loadstone, draws many 
others after it." 

How wisely has this great bishop spoken ! AVhai 
is it you think to do? To give love? No ; for no 
one gives love vohintarily, that does not receive it 
necessarily. lie tliat catclies in this chase is like- 
wise caught himself. The herb (qiroxis receives 
and conceives fire as soon as it sees it : our hearts 
do the like : as soon as they see a soul inflamed 
with love for them they are presently intlamed 
with love for it. But some one will say, I am 
willing to entertain some of this love, but not too 
much. Alas ! you deceive yourselves, the fire of 
love is more active and penetrating than you im- 
agine : you think to receive but a spark, and will 
wonder to see it in a moment take possession of 
your whole heart, reduce all your resolutions to 
ashes, and your reputation to smoke. "Who will 
have pity on a charmer struck by a serpent?" 
Ecclus. xii. 13. And I also, after the wise man, 
cry out, O foolish and senseless people ! think you 
to chnrin love in such a manner as to be able to 
manage it at pleasure ? You would play with it, 
but it will sting and torment you cruelly ; and do 
you know that every one will mock and deride you 
for attempting to charm or tie down love, and on a 
false assurance ])ut into your bosom a dangerous 
serpent, which has spoiled and destroyed both your 
6oul and your honor? 

Good (lod ! what l)lindness is this, to l)lay 
awjvy thus at hazard, against such frivolous stakes, 


the principal power of our soul ! Yes, Pliilothea, 
for God regards not man, but for his soul ; 
nor his soul, but for his will ; nor his will, but for 
his love. Alas ! we have not near so nuich love 
as we stand in need of; I mean to say that we fall 
infinitely short of having sufficient wherewith to 
love God ; and yet, wretches as we are, we lavish 
it away foolishly on vain and frivolous things, as 
if we had some to spare. Ah! this great God, 
who hath reserved to himself the whole love of our 
souls, in acknowledgment of our creation, preser- 
vation, and redemption, will exact a strict account 
of all these criminal deductions we make from it ; 
for, if he will make so rigorous an examination 
into our idle Avords, how strictly will he not exam- 
me into our impertinent, foolish, and pernicious 
loves ! 

The walnut-tree is very prejudicial to the vmes 
and fields wherein it is planted ; because, being so 
large, it attracts all the moisture of the surrounding 
earth, and renders it incapable of nourishmg the 
other plants- the leaves are also so thick that 
they make a large and close shade ; and lastly, it 
allures the ])assengers to it, who, to beat down the 
fi-uit, spoil and trample upon all about it. These 
fond loves do the same injury to the soul, for they 
possess her in such manner, and so strongly draw 
her motions to themselves, that she has no strenofth 
left to produce any good work : the leaves, 
viz., their idle talk, their amusements, and their 
dalliance, are so frequent, that all leisure time is 
squandered away in thfm ; and, finally, they en- 
gender so many temptations, distractions, sus- 


picions, and other evil consequences, that the 
whole heart is trampled down and destroyed by 
them. In a word, these fond loves not only banish 
heavenly love, but also the fear of God from the 
soul ; they waste the spirit and ruin reputation ; 
they are the sport of courts, but the plague of 




^?-^OyE every one, Philothea, with a strenuous 
■ALiS love of charity, but have no friendship, except 
for those that communicate with you the things of 
virtue : and the more exquisite the virtues are, 
which shall be the matter of your communications, 
the more perfect shall your friendship also be. If 
this communication be in the sciences, -the friendship 
is certainly very commenda])le ; but still more so 
if it be in the moral virtues ; in prudence, discre- 
tion, fortitude, and justice. But should your 
reciprocal communications relate to charity, 
devotion, and Christian perfection, good God ! how 
precious will this friendship be ! It will be 
excellent, because it comes from God ; excellent, 
because it tends to God ; excellent, because its very 
band is God ; excellent, because it shall last 
eternally in God. Oh, how good it is to love on 
earth as they love in heaven ; to learn to cherish 


each otner in this world, as we shall ao eternally 
in the next ! 

I speak not here of that simple love of charity 
which, we must have for all men; but of that 
spiritual friendship, by which two, three, or more 
souls communicate one to another their devotion 
and spiritual aftections, and make themselves all 
but one spirit. Such happy souls may justly sing : 
"Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to 
dwell together in unity!" Ps. cxxxii. 1. For 
the delicious balm of devotion distils out of one 
heart into another, by so continual a participation, 
that it may be said that God has poured out upon 
this friendship " his blessing and life everlastmg." 
I consider all other friendships as l)ut so many 
shadows in respect to this, and that their bonds 
are but chains of glass or of jet, in comparison of this 
bond of holy devotion, which is more precious than 

Make no other kind of friendship than this : I 
speak of such friends as 3^ou choose yourself; but 
you must not, therefore, forsake or neglect the 
friendshii)S which nature or former duties oblige 
you to cultivate with your parents, kindred, bene- 
factors, neighbors, and others. 

Many perhaps may say ; " We shoidd have no 
kind of particular affection and friendship, because 
it occupies the heart, distracts the mind, and begets 
envy ; " but they are mistaken, because having seen, 
in the writings of many devout authors, that par- 
ticular friendships and extraordmary affection are 
of infinite prejudice to religious persons, they there- 
fore imagine that it is the same with regard to the 


rest of the world ; but there is a material difference ; 
for, as in a well-ordered monastery, where the 
common design of all tends to true devotion, It is 
not requisite to make these ]iartR'ular communi- 
cations of friendship, lest by seeking among indi- 
viduals for that which is connnon to the Avhole, 
they should fall from particularities to partialities. 
But for those who dwell among worldlings, and 
desire to embrace true virtue, it is necessary for 
them to unite themselves together by a holy and 
sacred friendship, since l)y this means they en- 
courage, assist, and conduct each other to good : 
for, as they that walk on ])lain ground need not 
lend each other a hand, Avhilst they that are in a 
rugged and slippery road hold one by the other, 
to walk more securely ; so they that are in religious 
orders stand in no want of particular friendships ; 
but they that are in the world have need of them, 
to secure and assist each other amidst the many 
dangerous passages through which they are to 
pass. In the world all are not directed by the 
same views, nor actuated by the same spirit; 
we must therefore separate ourselves, and contract 
friendships according to our several pretensions. 
This particularity causes indeed a partiality ; but it 
is a holy partiality, which creates no other division 
but that which of necessity should always subsist 
betwixt good and evil, sheep and goats, bees and 

No one surely can deny hnt that our Lord loved 
St. John, Lazarus, Martha, and Magdiden, with a 
more sweet and more special friendship. AVe 
know that St. Peter tenderly cherished St. Mark 


and St. Petronilla, as St. Paul did Timothy and 
St. Thecla. St. Gregory Nazianzen boasts an 
hundred times of the incomparable friendship he 
had with the Great St. Basil, and describes it in 
this manner : " It seemed that in us there was 1)ut 
one soul dwelling in two bodies, and if those are 
not to be believ^ed, who say that all things are in 
all things, yet of us two you may believe, that we 
were both in each other ; we had each of us one 
only pretension to cultivate virtue, and to accom- 
modate all the designs of our life to future hopes ; 
going in this manner out of mortal earth before we 
died in it." St. Austin testifies that St. Ambrose 
loved St. Monica entirely for the real virtue he 
saw in her, and that she reciprocally loved him as 
an angel of God. But I am blamable in detaining 
you so long on so clear a matter. St. Jerome, 
St. Austin, St. Gregory, St. Bernard, and all the 
greatest servants of God, have had very particular 
friendships, without any prejudice to their per- 
fection. St. Paul, reproaching the disorders of 
the gentiles, accuses them that they were people 
without affection ; that is to say, that they had no 
true friendship. And St. Thomas, with all the 
wisest philosophers, acknowledges that friendship 
is a virtue ; and he speaks of " particular friend- 
ship," since, as he says, " perfect friendship cannot 
be extended to a great many persons." Perfection 
therefore consists, not in having no friendship, but 
in having none but with such as are good and 




^BSERYE, Pliilothea, this iinporttint admoni- 
tion. As tlie poisonous honey of Heraclea is 
so simihir to the other that is wholesome, that 
there is o-i-oat (hiniier of mistakin2r the one for the 
other, or of taking- them mixed together (for the 
goodness of the one cannot destroy the poison of 
the other) ; so he must stand upon his guard who 
would not be deceived in friendships, particularly 
when contracted betwixt persons of dilferent sexes, 
under what pretext soever. The devil often etl'ects 
a change in those that love ; they l)egin with virt- 
uous love, with which, if not attended to with the 
utmost discretion, fond love will l)egin to mingle 
itself, then sensual love, and aft<'r\\ards carnal 
love ; yea, there is even danger in spiritual love, if 
we are not extremely upon our guard ; though in 
this it if] more diflicultto be imposed uj^on, l)ecause 
its purity and whiteness make the spots and stains 
which Satan seeks to mingle with it more :i]iparent, 
and therefore when he takes this in hand he does 
it more subtilely, and endeavors to introduce im- 
purities by almost insensible degrees. 

You may distinguish worldly from holy fricnd- 
shij) in the same manner as the ])()isonous honey of 
Ilcraclea is known from the other; for as the honey 
of Heraclea is sweeter than the ordin:irv honey, on 
account of the juice of the aconite, which gives it 


an additional flavor ; so worldly friendship ordi- 
narily produces a great profusion of endearing 
words, passionate expressions, with admiration of 
beauty, behavior, and other sensual qualities. 
Holy friendship, on the contrary, speaks a plain 
and sincere lanouaii'e, and commends nothing but 
virtue and the grace of God, the only foundation 
on which it subsists. As the honey of Heraclea, 
when swallowed, occasions a giddiness in the head, 
so false friendship produces a vertigo in the mind, 
which makes persons stagger in chastity and 
devotion, hurr\'ing them on to aflected, wanton, 
and immodest looks, sensual caresses, inordinate 
sighs, and ridiculous complaints of not Toeing 
beloved, to a studied and enticing carriage, to 
gallantries, to interchanging of kisses, with other 
familiarities and indecent favors, the certain and 
unquestionable presages of the approaching ruin of 
chastity. But the looks of holy friendship are 
simple and modest ; its caresses pure and sincere ; 
its siohs are but for heaven ; its familiarities are 
only spiritual ; its complaints but when God is nol 
beloved. These are infallible marks of a holy 
friendship. As the honey of Heraclea affects the 
sight, so this worldly friendship dazzles the 
judgment to such a degree, that they who are 
bfected with it think they do well when they act 
Ivrongly, and believe their excuses and pretexts 
for two reasons : they fear the light, and love 
ilarkness. But holy friendship is clear-sighted, 
and never conceals herself, but appears willingly 
before those that are good. In fine, as the honey 
of Heraclea leaves a great bitterness in the mouth, 


SO false friendships change into lewd and carnal 
words and demands ; and, in case of refusal, into 
injuries, slanders, imposture, sadness, confusion, 
and jealousies, which often terminate in madness. 
Chaste friendship is always equally honest, civil, 
and amiable, and changes only into a purer union 
of spirits ; a lively image of the blessed friendship 
existing in heaven. 

St. Gregory Nazianzen says, that as the cry of 
the peacock, when he struts and spreads his 
feathers, excites the peahens to lust, so, when we 
see a man dressed in his best apparel, approaching 
to flatter, and whisper in the ears of a woman, 
without pretension to lawful marriage, then no 
dou])t it is to incite her to impurity ; and every 
virtuous woman will stop her ears against the cry 
of tliis peacock, the voice of this enchanter, who 
seeks thus subtilely to charm her ; but, should she 
hearken to him, good God ! what an ill presage of 
the future loss of her heart ! 

Young people who use gestures, glances, and 
caresses, or speak words in which they would not 
"willingly be surprised by their fathers, mothers, 
husbands, wives, or confessors, testify here))y that 
they are treating of something contrary to honor 
and conscience. Our l)lessc(l Lady was troubled 
when she saw an angel in the shape of a man, 
because she was alone, and because he gave her 
extraordinary though heavenly pi'aises. O Saviour 
of the Avorld ! if purity itself be afraid of an angel 
in the shape of a man, why should not impurity 
fear a man, even though he should come in the 


shape of an angel, especially when lie praises hei 
with sensual and earthly commendations ? 




^UT what remedies must we take against this 
multitude of tilthy loves, fondnesses, and im- 
purities? As soon as you perceive the first 
approach of them, turn suddenly away, with an 
absolute horror and detestation, run to the cross 
of your Saviour, take the crown of thorns, and 
press it to your heart, so that the evil spirit may 
not come near it. Beware of coming to any kind 
of compromise Avith this enemy : do nor say I will 
hearken to him, but will do nothing of what he 
shall say to me : I will lend him my ears, but 
will refuse him my heart. Oh, no ! Philothea ; for 
God's sake, be resolute on these occasions : the 
heart and the ears correspond with each other ; 
and, as it is impossible to stop a torrent that 
descends by the brow of a mountain, so is it hard 
to prevent the love which has entered in at the 
ear from falling suddenly down into the heart. 

Alcma?on pretended that goats breathe by the 
ears, but Aristotle denies it ; as for myself I 
cannot decide the question ; but I know that our 
heart breathes by the ear ; and as it sends forth its 
own thoughts by the tongue, so it receives tb' 


thoughts of others by the ear. Let us, then, keep 
a diligent guard over our ears, that we may not 
inhale the corrupt air of filthy words, for otherwise 
our hearts will soon ])e infected. Hearken to no 
kind of propositions, under what pretext soever ; 
in this case alone there is no dana^er of being rude 
and uncivil. 

Remember that you have dedicated your heart 
to God, and that your love having been sacrificed 
to him, it would be a sacrilege to alienate the 
least part of it from him. Rather sacrifice it to 
him anew l)y a thousand resohitions and protes- 
tations ; and, keeping yourself close within them, 
as a deer within its covert, call upon God, and he 
Avill help you, and take you under his protection, 
that you may live for him alone. 

But if you arc already entangled in the nets of 
filthy loves, good God ! how difficult will it be to 
extricate yourself from them ! Place j^ourself 
before the divine JNIajesty, acknowledge, in his 
presence, the excess of your misery, frailty, and 
vanity. Then, with the greatest effort of Avhich 
your heart is capable, detest them ; abjure the 
vain profession you have made of them ; renounce 
all the promises received, and, with the most gen- 
erous and absolute resolution, determine in your 
heart never to permit them to occupy the least 
thought for the remainder of your life. 

An excellent remedy would be to withdraw 
yourself from the object ; for as they that have 
been bitten by serpents cannot easily l)e cured in 
the presence of those who were before wounded 
by the sywie animal, so the person stung with love 


will hiirdl}^ be cured of this passion as long as he 
is near the other who has been simihirly wounded. 
Change of phice contributes very mucli to allay 
the heat and pains of grief or love. The youth of 
whom St. Ambrose speaks, in his second book of 
Penance, having made a long journey, returned 
home altogether delivered from those fond loves 
he ha(\ formerly entertained, and so much changed 
that his foolish mistress meeting him, and saying, 
" Dost thou no: know me ? am I not the same that 
Iwas ?" — "Yes," answered he, "but I am no longer 
the same." Absence has wrought in him this happy 
chano-e. St. Austin also testifies that, to mitigate 
the grief he suffered for the death of his friend, he 
withdrew himself from Tagasta, the place in which 
his friend died, and went to Carthage. 

But what must he do who cannot withdraw 
himself? Let him absolutely retrench all particular 
familiarity, all private conversation, amorous looks, 
smiles, and, in general, all sorts of communication 
and allurement, which may nourish this dangerous 
passion ; if he must speak to the other party, let 
it be only to declare, with a bold, short, and serious 
protestation, the eternal divorce which he has 
sworn. I call upon every one who has fallen into 
these wretched snares : cut them, — break them, — 
tear them ; do not amuse yourself in unravelling 
these criminal friendships ; you must tear and rend 
them asunder; do not untie the knots, but break 
or cut them, so that the cords and strings may be 
rendered useless ; do not enter into any compromise 
with a love which is so contrary to the love of 


But after I have broken the chains of his infamous 
bondage there will still remain some vestiges : 
the marks and prints of the irons will still be 
imprinted in my feet ; that is, my affections. No, 
Philothea, they will not, provided you have con- 
ceived as great a detestation of the evil as it 
deserves ; you will now be excited witli no other 
motion but that of an extreme horror for this base 
love and all its appendages, and will entertain no 
other affection towards the forsak ai object but 
that of a pure charity, for God's sake. But if 
through the imperfection of your repentance, there 
should yet remain in you any evil inclinations, 
procure a mental solitude for your soul, according 
to what I have taught you before, and retire 
thither as often as you can, and by a thousand 
reiterated ejaculations renounce all your criminal 
inclinations, and reject them w^ith your whole force. 
Head pious and holy books Avith more than 
ordinary application ; go to confession and coni- 
numion more frequently ; treat huml)ly and 
sincerely with your director, or some prudent and 
faithful friend, concerning all the suggestions and 
temi)tations of this kind which may befall you, 
And doubt not but God will deliver you from those 
criminal j)assions, provided you continue faithfully 
in tiiese good exercises. 

Ah, will it not be ingratitude to break off a 
friendship so unmercifully? Oh, how happy is 
tliiit ingratitude which makes us ))leasing to (Jod ! 
jiut no, IMiilothea, I tell you, in the name of God, 
fhis will be no ingratitude, but a great benefit, 
tvhich you shall confer upon your lover ; because, 


in breaking your own bonds asunder, you shalJ 
also break his, since they were common to yoa 
both ; and though for the present he may not be 
sensible of his happiness, yet he will soon ac- 
knowledge it, and exclaim with you in thanks' 
giving : " O Lord, thou hast broken my bonds, I 
will sacrifice to thee a sacrifice of praise, and call 
upon thy holy name." Ps. ex v. 



fHAVE another important advice to give you 
on this subject. Friendship requires great 
communication l)etween friends, otherwise it can 
neither grow nor subsist. Wherefore it often 
happens, that with this communication of friend- 
ship many other communications insensibly glide 
from one heart to another, by a mutual infusion 
and reciprocal intercourse of affections, inclina- 
tions, and impressions. This happens especially 
when we have a high esteem for him whom we 
love ; for then we open our heart in such manner 
to his friendship that Avith it his inclinations and 
impressions, whether good or bad, enter rapidly. 
Certainly the bees, that gather the honey of 
Heraclea, seek nothing but honey ; yet with the 
honey they insensil)ly suck the poisonous qualitiea 
of the aconite, from which they gather it. Good 


God ! Philothea ; on these occasions we must care- 
fully practise what the Saviour of our souls was 
accustomed to say: "Be ye good bankers," or 
changers of money ; that is to say, " Receive not 
]>ad money with the good, nor base gold with the 
fine " ; separate that which is precious from that 
which is vile ; for there is scarcely any person 
that has not some imperfection. For why should 
we receive promiscuously the imperfections of a 
friend, together with his friendship? We must 
love Inm indeed, notwithstanding his imperfec- 
tions ; but we must neither love nor receive his 
imperfections ; for friendship requires a comnumi- 
cation of good, not of evil. Wherefore as they 
that draw gravel out of the river Tagus separate 
the gold which they find, to carry it away, and 
leave the sand on the banks ; so they, who have 
the communication of some good friendship ought 
to separate it from the imperfections, and not 
suffer them to enter their souls. St. Gregory 
Nazianzon testifies, that manv, lovinix and adniirins; 
St. Bazil, were brought insensibly to imitate him, 
even in his outward imperfections, as in speaking 
slowly, and with his spirit abstracted and pen- 
sive, in the fashion of his beard, and in his gait. 
And we often see husbands, wives, children, and 
friends, wdio, having a great esteem for their 
ii'iends, })ar(mts, husbands, and wives, acquire, 
either by condescension or imitation, a thousand 
little ill-humoi's in their connnunication of friend- 
ship. JS'ow this should not be so by any means, 
for every one has e\il inclinations enough of his 
own. without charging himself with those of 


others ; and friendship is so far from requiring it, 
that, on the contrary, it obliges us mutually to aid 
and assist one another, in order to free ourselves 
from all kind of imperfections. We must, indeed, 
meekly bear with our friend in his imperfections ; 
but we must not lead him into imperfections, much 
less imbibe his imperfections ourselves. But I 
speak only of imperfections ; for, as to sins, we 
must neither occasion them, nor tolerate them in 
our friends. It is either a weak or a wicked 
friendship to behold our friend perish, and not to 
help him; — to see him die of an imposthume, 
and not dare to save his life by opening it with 
the lancet of correction. True and livinsi; friend- 
ship cannot sul)sist in the midst of sins. As the 
salamander extinguishes the tire in Avhich he lies, 
so sin destroys the friendship in which it lodges. 
If it be but a transient sin, friendship will presently 
put it to flight by correction ; but if it be habitual, 
and take up its habitation, friendship immediately 
perishes ; for it subsists only upon the solid 
foundation of virtue. We must never, then, 
commit sin for the sake of friendship. A friend 
becomes an enemy when he would lead us to sin ; 
and he deserves to lose his friend when he would 
destroy his soul. It is an infallible mark of fiilse 
friendship to see it exercised towards a vicious 
person, be his sins of what kind soever ; for, if he 
whom w^e love be vicious, without doubt our 
friendship is also vicious, since, seeing it cannot 
regard true virtue, it must needs be Grounded on 
some frivolous virtue, or sensual quality. Society 
formed for traffic among merchants is but a shad- 


ow of true friendship ; since it is not made for 
the k)ve of the person, luit for the k)ve of gain. 

Finally, the following divine sentences are two 
main pillars, upon which reposes a Christian life-, 
the one is that of the wise man : "He that fearelh 
God shall likewise have a good friendship"; the 
other is that of the Apostle St. James : " The 
friendship of this world is the enemy of God. " 




YJTHKY who treat of agriculture tell us that if any 
<^ word be written upon a very sound alnioncl, 
und it be again enclosed in the shell and i)lanl('(I, 
all the fruit which that troe shall produce will have 
the same word engraven u[)()n it. As for mys(>lf, 
Philothea, I could never approve of the method of 
those who, to reform a man, begin with his 
exterior, such as his gesture's, his dress, or his 
hair; on the contrary, I think we ought to begin 
Avith his interior. "Be converted to me," said 
God, Joel ii., "with your whole heart." "Son, 
give me thy heart." Prov. xxiii. For, the heart 
being the genuine source of our actions, our works 
will always correspond to our heart. The divine 
Spouse, inviting the soul. Cant, v., "Put me,"siiys 
he, "as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy 
arm. Yes, verily ; for whoever has Jesus Chri^ 


in his heart will quickly show him in all his ex- 
terior actions. I desire, therefore, dear Philothea, 
above all things else, to engrave upon your heart 
this sacred motto, "Live, Jesus"; being assured 
that your life, which proceeds from the heart as an 
almond tree from its kernel, will afterwards 
produce the same words of salvation written upon 
all your actions ; for, as this sweet Jesus lives 
within your heart, so will he also live in all your 
exterior, in your eyes, your mouth, your hands, 
and even the hair on your head, so that you will 
be able to say, with St. Paul, "I live, now not I, 
but Christ liveth in me." In a word, he that has 
gained the heart has gained the whole man ; but 
even this heart, by which we would begin, requires 
to be instructed how it should frame its exterior 
behavior, so that men may not only behold holy 
devotion therein, but also wisdom and discretion ; 
for this end I desire your serious attention to the 
following short admonitions : — 

If you are able to endure fasting, you would do 
well to fast some days besides those which are 
commanded by the Church ; for besides the usual 
effects of fasting, viz., to elevate the spirit, to keep 
the flesh in subjection, to exercise virtue, and 
acquire a greater reward in heaven, it is a great 
means to restrain gluttony, and keep the sensual 
appetite and body subject to the law of the spirit ; 
and although we may not fast much, yet the enemy 
fears us when he discovers that we know how to 
fast. Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are 
the days in which the ancient Christians chiefly 
exercised themselves in abstinence ; choose, then. 


some of these days to fust, as far as }'our devotion 
and the discretion of your director shall advise 

I would willingly say to you, as St. Jerome 
said to the pious LaBta : "Long and immoderate 
fastings displease me greatly, especially in those 
that are yet in their tender age." I have learned, 
by experience, that young people, who l)ecome 
infirm through excess of fasting, easily give way 
to delicacies. We are greatly exposed to temp- 
tations, both when our body is too much i)ampered, 
and when it is too much weakened ; for the one 
makes it insolent with ease, and the other desperate 
with affliction. The Avant of this moderation in 
the use of fasting, discijilines, hair-shirts, and 
other austerities, renders the best years of many 
unprofitable in the service of charity, as it did 
even in St. Bernard, Avho repented that he had 
used so much austerity ; and the more cruelly they 
ill-treated their bodi(\s in the bogiiming, the more 
were they constraincul to favor them in the end. 
Would they not have done l)ctter to have mortified 
their bodies moderately, and in proportion to the 
offices and labors which their condition obliged 
them ? 

La])or, as well as fasting, serves to mortify and 
subdue the flesh. Now, provided the laI)or 3'ou 
undertake contributes to the glory of God and 
your own welfare, I would prefer that you should 
sutl'cr the \):i\n of lal)or rather than thnt of fasting. 
Tills is the int(Mitiou of the Church, wiiich exempts 
those labors that contribute to the service of God 
and our neighbor even from the fasts conmianded. 


Some find it painful to fast, others to serve the 
sick, or visit prisoners ; others to hear confession, 
to preach, to pray, and to perform similar exer- 
cises ; tliese last pains are of more vahie than the 
former ; for, besides subduing tlie body, they 
produce fruits much more desirable, and tlierefore, 
generally speaking, it is better to preserve our 
bodily btrength more than may be necessary, in 
order to perform these functions, than to Aveakeii 
it too much ; for we may always aljate it when Ave 
wish, but we cannot always repair it when we 

We should attend with OTeat reverence to the 
admonition given by our blessed Saviour to his 
disciples, Luke x. 9: "Eat the things that are 
set before you." It is, in my opinion, a greater 
virtue to eat, without choice, that which is laid 
before you, and in the same order as it is pre- 
sented, whether it be more or less agreeable to 
your taste, than always to choose the worst ; for 
although this latter way of living seems more 
austere, yet the former has, notwithstanding, more 
resignation, since by it we renounce not only our 
own taste, but even our own choice ; and it is no 
small mortification to accommodate our taste to 
every kind of meat, and keep it in subjection to all 
occurrences. Besides, this kind of mortification 
makes no parade, gives no trouble to any one, 
and is happily adai)ted to civil life. To set one 
kind of meat aside to eat another — to eat of every 
dish — to think nothing well dressed, or suificiently 
exquisite — bespeak a heart too much attached to 
delicacies and dainties. I esteem St. Bernard in 


drinking oil instead of Avater or wine, more than if 
he had drunk designedly the most bitter draught ; 
for it was a sure sign that he did not consider 
what he drank ; and in this indifference respecting 
our food consists the jierfection of the practice of 
that sacred rule, "Eat that which is set before you." 
I except, however, such meats as may prejudice 
the health, or incommode the spirit, such as hot 
and high-seasoned meats ; as also certain occasions, 
in which nature requires recreation and assistance 
in order to be able to support some labor for the 
glory of God. A continual and moderate sobriety 
is preferable to violent abstinences, practised occa- 
sionally, and mingled with great relaxations. 

A moderate use of discipline awakens the ap- 
petite of devotion. The hair shirt mortifies the 
flesh exceedingly ; but the use of it, generally 
speaking, is not proper either for married persons 
or tender complexions, or for such as have other 
great j)ains to support. However, upon some 
remarkable days of penance, it may be used by 
the advice of a discreet confessor. 

We must dedicate the night to sleep, every one 
as much as his constitution requires, so that he 
may be able to watch and s]iend the day i)rofit- 
ably ; and also because the Holy Scri))tures, the 
examples of the saints, and reason itself, strenu- 
ously recommend the morning to us. as the most 
fruitful part of time, and our Lord himself is 
named the Orient, or rising sun, and our ))lessed 
Lady the dawning of the day. I think it a ])oint 
of virtue to retire to rest early in the evening:, 
that we may be enabled to awake and rise early 


in the morning, wliicli is certainly, of all other 
times, tlie most favorable, the most agreeable, a^nd 
the least exposed to disturbance and distractions ; 
when the very birds invite us to awake and praise 
God ; so that early-rising is equally servicealde to 
health and holiness. 

Balaam, mounted on his ass, was going to king 
Balak ; but because he had not a right intention, 
the angel waited for him in the way, with a sword 
in his hand to kill them. The ass, on seeing the 
angel, stood still three several times, and became 
restive. Balaam in the mean time beat her cruelly 
with his staff to make her advance forward, until 
the beast at the third time, falling under Balaam, 
by an extraordinary miracle spoke to him, saying. 
Numb. xii. 28: "What have I done to thee? 
why strikest thou me, lo now this third time?" 
Balaam's eyes were soon opened, and he saw the 
angel, who said to him, " Why beatest thou thy 
ass ? if she had not turned out of the way giving 
place to me, I had slain thee, and she should have 
lived." Then Balaam said to the angel, "I have 
sinned, not knowing that thou didst stand against 
me." Behold, Philothea, although Balaam be the 
cause of the evil, yet he strikes and beats his poof 
beast, that could not prevent it. It is often the 
same case with us ; for example, a woman sees 
her husband or child sick, and presently betakes 
herself to fasting, hair-cloth, and the discipline, 
as David did on a similar occasion. Alas I my 
dear friend, you beat the poor beast, you afflict 
your body ; but it cannot remedy the evil, nor is it 
on that account that God's sword is drawn against 


you ; correct your hciirt, which is an idolator ol 
this husband, and which, having tolerated a thou- 
sand vices in this child, has destined it to pride, 
vanity, and ambition. Again, a man perceives 
himself frequently to rela])sc in a shameful manner 
into the sin of impurity ; an inward remorse as- 
sails his conscience, and his heart returning to 
Itself, he says, "Ah, wicked flesh ! ah, treacherous 
body! thou hast betrayed me;" and innnediately 
he inflicts great blows on his flesh, with innnoderate 
fasting, excessive disci})line, and insui)})()rtable 
hair-shirts. O poor soul ! if thy flesh could si)eak, 
as Balaam's beast did, she would say to thee, 
" Why, O wretch ! dost thou strike me?" It is 
against thoe, O my soul ! that God arms his ven- 
geance ; it is thou that art the criminal ; why dost 
thou lead me into bad conn)any? Avhy dost thou 
employ my eyes, my hands, and my lips in wan- 
tonness? why dost thou trouble me with impure 
imamnations ? Cherish good thouiihts, and I shall 
have no evil motions ; keep com[)any with those that 
are modest and chaste, and I shall not be provoked 
to lust. It is thou, alas, that throwest me into the 
fire, and yet thou wouldst not have me burn ; thou 
castest smoke into my eyes, and yet wouldst not 
have them inflamed. And God, without doubt, 
says to you in these cases. Beat, ])reak, rend, and 
crush your heart to pieces, for it is against it 
princii)ally that my anger is excited. Although, 
to remedy our vices, it may be good to mortify 
the flesh, yet it is still more necessary to purify 
uui' aflections and refresh our hearts. But let us 


neve}- undertake corporal austerities without tne 
advics of our spiritual director. 



W(c,0 seek and avoid conversation are two ex- 
'^ tremes equally blamaljle in the devotion of 
those that live in the world, which is that of which 
we are now treating. To shun all conversations 
gavors of disdain, and contempt of our neighbor; 
and to be addicted to them is a mark of sloth and 
idleness. We must love our neighbor as our- 
selves, and to prove that we love him we must 
not fly his company ; and to testify that we love 
ourselves w^e must remain with ourselves wdien 
we are alone by ourselves. " Think first of thy- 
self," says St. Bernard, "and then of others." If, 
then, nothing obliges you to go abroad into com- 
pany, or to receive company at home, remain with 
yourself, and entertain yourself with your own 
heart ; but if company visits you, or any just 
cause invites you into company, go in God's 
name, Philothea, and see your neighbor with a 
benevolent heart and a good intention. 

We call those conversations evil which are held 
with an evil intention, or when the company is vi- 
cious, indiscreet, and dissolute ; and must avoid 
them as bees «hun wasps or hornets. For, as when 


persons are bitten hy mad dogs, their perspiration, 
their breath, aud their very s})ittle, l)ecome infec- 
tious, especially for children, and those of a tender 
complexion ; so vicious and dissohite persons 
cannot be visited without the utmost hazard and 
danger, especially by those whose devotion is as 
yet young and tender. 

There are some unprotitable conversations held 
merely to recreate and divert us from our serious 
occupations, to which we must not be too much 
addicted, although we may allow them to occupy 
the leisure destined for recreation. Other con- 
versations have civility for their object, as in 
the case ot mutual visits, and certain assemblies 
made lo do honor to our neighbor. With respect 
to these, as we ought not to l)e superstitious in 
the practice of them, so neither nmst Ave be uncivil 
in contemning them, but modestly comply M'ith 
our duty in their regard, so that we may equally 
avoid both ill-lireeding and levity. 

It remains for us to speak of the profitable con- 
versation of devout and virtuous persons. To 
converse frequently, Philothea, with such persons 
■will be to you of the utmost benefit. As the vine 
that is planted amongst olive trees produces oily 
grapes, which have the taste of olives, so the soul 
which is often in the company of virtuous people 
cannot but partake of their (pialities. As drones 
cannot make honey without the assistance of the 
bees, so it is of great advantage to us in the 
exercise of devotion to converse with those that 
arc devout. 

In all conversations, sincerity, simplicity, meek- 


oess, and modesty should be preserved. There 
are some persons who make no gestui-e or motion 
without so mueli affectation as to trouble the- 
company ; and as he who cannot walk without 
counting his steps, or speak without singing, would 
be troublesome to the rest of mankind, so they 
who affect an artificial carriage, and do nothing 
Avithout aflfectation, are very disagreeable in con- 
versation, for in such persons there is always, 
some kind of presumption. Let a moderate cheer- 
fulness be ordinarily predominant in our conver 
sation. St. Romuald and St. Anthony are highly 
commended, that, notwithstanding all their aus- 
terities, they had always both their countenance 
and their discourse adorned with joy, gayety, and 
courtesy. " Rejoice with them that rejoice." Rom. 
xii. 13. And again I say to you, with the Apostle, 
" Rejoice always, but in the Lord. Let your 
modesty be known to all men." Phil. iv. 4. To 
rejoice in our Lord, the subject of your joy must 
not only be lawful, but also decent ; and this I 
say, because there are some things lawful, which 
yet are not decent ; and, that your modesty may be 
known to all, keep yourself free from Insolence, 
which is always reprehensible. To cause one of 
the company to fall down, to disfigure another's 
face, are foolish and insolent merriments. 

But, besides that mental solitude to which you 
may retreat, even amidst the greatest conversation, 
as I have hitherto ol)served, P. ii. ch. 12, you 
ought also to love local and real solitude : not that 
you should go into the desert, as St. Mary of 
Egypt, St. Paul, St. Anthony, St. Arsenius, and 


the other {incicnt solitaries, did ; but that you 
should remain for some time alone by yourself in 
your chamber or garden, or in some other place, 
where you may at leisure withdraw your spirit 
mto your heart, and recreate your soul Avith pious 
meditations, holy thoughts, or spiritual reading. 
St. Gregory Nazianzen, speaking of himself, says, 
"I walked with my.self about sunset, and passed 
the time upon the sea-shore ; for I am accustomed 
to use this recreation to refresh myself, and to 
shake oft' a little my ordinary troubles ; and after- 
wards he relates the pious reliections he made, 
which I hav'e already mentioned. St. Austin 
relates, that often going into the chamber of St. 
Ambrose, who never denied entrance to any one, 
he found him reading, and that after having 
remained awhile, for fear of interrui^ting him, he 
departed again without speaking a word, thinking 
that the little time that remained to this great 
pastor for recreating his spirit, after the hui-ry of 
his various atfairs, should not be taken from him. 
And when the apostles one day had told our Lord 
how they had preached, and how much they had 
done, he said to them, Mark vi. 13: " Come- ye 
apart into a desert place, and rest a little." 




^T. PAUL desires that devout women, and the 
^ame may be said of men, should be attired 
in decent apparel, adornins^ themselves with mod- 
esty and sobriety. 1 Tim. ii. 9. The decency and 
other ornaments of apparel depend on the matter, 
the form, and the cleanliness of them. As to the 
cleanlmess, it should be almost always entire in our 
apparel, on which we should not permit any kind 
of filth to remain. Exterior neatness represents in 
some des>i'ee the cleanliness of the interior : and 
God himself requires corporal cleanliness in those 
that approach the altar, and have the principal 
charge of devotion. 

As to the matter, form, and decency cf our 
dress, it should be considered according to the 
several circumstances of the time, the age, the 
quality, the company, and the occasions. People 
are ordinarily better dressed on holidays, and this 
in proportion to the solemnity of the feast which 
is celebrated. In times of penance, as in Lent, 
their ornaments are laid aside. At marriages 
they put on wedding-garments ; at funerals they 
use mourning ; when near the prince they dress 
themselves in their best attire ; which they put off 
when they are only amongst their own domestics. 

The married woman may and ought to adorn her- 
self when she is with her husband, and he desires 


ft ; Imt if she should do so when she is at a 
distance from hiin, it will be asked, whose eyes 
she desires to favor? A greater lil)erty in point 
of ornaments is allowed to maidens, because they 
may lawfully desire to appear agreeable to many, 
although with no other intention than to gain one 
by holy marriage. Neither is it blMmal)le in wid- 
ows, who propose to marry, to adorn themselves, 
provided they betray no levity ; for, having ah'cady 
been mistresses of families, and ])assed through the 
griefs of widowhood, they should be considered as 
being of a more mature and settled mind. 15ut as 
for those that are widows indeed, not only in body, 
but in heart also, no other ornament becomes them 
but humility, modesty, and devotion ; for, if they 
have an inclination to gain the love of men, they 
are not widows indeed ; and, if they have no such 
desire, why do they carry about them the instru- 
ments of love? Old people are always ridiculous 
when they wish to be gay ; this folly is only sup- 
portal)le in youth. 

Be neat , Philothea ; let nothing l)e negligent about 
you. It is a kind of contempt of those witli whom 
we converse, to frequent their company in uncomely 
apparel ; but, at the same time, avoid all affectation, 
vanity, curiosity, or levity in your dress. Keep 
yourself always, as much as possible, on the side 
of plaimiess and modesty, which, without doubt, 
is the greatest ornament of beauty, and the best 
excuse for the want of it. 

St. Peter, 1 E[)ist. iii. ^\, aduKinishes women in 
Darticular not to wear their hair much curled in 
"Suirlets and wreaths ; but men who aru so weak as 

or DISCOURSE. 221 

to amuse themselves about such toys are justly 
ridiculed for their effeminacy ; and even women^ 
who are thus vain, are esteemed to be very weak 
in their chastity ; at least, if they are chaste, it is 
not to be discovered amidst so many toys and fop- 
peries. They say they mean no evil by these 
things ; but I again repeat that the devil thinks 
very differently. I would have devout people, 
whether men or women, the best dressed of the 
company, but the least pompous and affected ; I 
would have them adorned with gracefuhiess, de- 
cency, and dignity. St Lewis says, in one word, 
that each one should dress according to his condi- 
tion ; so that the wise and the good may have no rea- 
son to complain that you do too much, nor young 
people to say that you do too little. But, in case 
young people will not content themselves with 
what is decent, we must conform to the judgment 
of the wise. 



^K^S physicians discover the health or sickness of 
^*^ a mail l)y looking on his tongue, so our words, 
are true indications of the qualities of our souls. 
*'By thy words," says our Saviour, Matt. xii. 37, 
^'thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou 
ehalt be condemned." We readily move our hand 


to the pain that we feel, and the tongue to the 
love we entertain. 

If, then, Philothea, you are in love with God, you 
will often speak of him, in your faniiliardiscourses 
with those of your household, your friends, and 
your neighl)ors : "For the mouth of the just will 
meditate on wisdom, and his tongue Avill speak 
judgment." Ps. xxxvi. 30. As bees, whh their 
little mouths, touch nothing but honey ; so should 
your tongue be always sweetened with its God, 
and tiud no greater pleasure than in the sweet 
praises and blessings of his name flowing between 
your lips, like St. Francis, who used to apply his 
tongue to his lips, after pronoiuicing the holy name 
of the Lord, to draw thence the greatest sweetness 
in the world. 

But speak always of God as of God ; that is, 
reverently and devoutly ; not Avith ostentation or 
affectation, but with a si)irit of meekness, charity, 
and humility, distilling as much as you can, as it 
is said of the Si)ouse in the Canticles, Cant. iv. 11, 
the delicious honey of devotion and of the things 
of God, imperceptibly, into the ears sometimes of 
one, and sometimes of another, and pray secretly 
to God, in your soul, that it would please him to 
make this holy dew sink deep into the heart of 
those that hear you. 

Above all thinijs, this anijelical ollice must be 
done meekly and sweetly ; not by way of correction, 
hut ins))iration ; for it is sur|)rising how jiowerfully 
A sweet and amiable manner of proposing good 
things attracts the hearts of the hearers. 

Never* therefore, sueak of God, or devotion, in « 


slight or thoughtless manner, l)ut rather with the 
utmost attention and reverence. I give you this 
advice, that you may avoid that remarkable vanity 
which is found in many false devotees, who upon 
every occasion speak words of piety and godliness 
by way of entertainment, without ever thinking 
of what they say, and afterwards falsely imagine 
themselves to be very devout. 





fF any offend not in words," says St. James, iii. 
2, " he is a perfect man." Be careful never to 
permit an indecent word to escape from your lips ; 
for, although you do not speak it with an ill inten- 
tion, yet it may l)e hurtful to those that hear it. 
An evil word falling into a weak heart spreads 
itself like a drop of oil falling on linen ; nay, it 
sometimes seizes on the heart in such a manner 
as to fill it with a thousand unclean thoughts and 
temptations to lust ; for, as the poison of the body 
enters by the mouth, so the poison of the heart 
enters by the ear, and the tongue which utters an 
indecent word is a nuirderer. For, although per- 
haps the poison, which it has cast forth, has not 
produced its effect, because it found the hearts of 
the hearers guarded by some preservative, yet 


there wanted no malice in the tongue to occasion 
their death. Let no man, therefore, tell me that 
he has no evil intention ; for our Lord, the Searcher 
of hearts, has said, " That out of the abundance of 
the heart, the mouth speaketh." But if we intend 
no evil on such occasions, yet the enemy, who is 
of a contrary opinion, secretly uses immodest 
i\^ords to pierce the heart of some one. As they 
that have eaten the herb angelica have always a 
sweet and agreeal)le breath, so they that have hon- 
esty and chastity, which is an angelical virtue, in 
.their hearts, have their words always modest and 
chaste. As for indecent and obscene things the 
apostle will not have them even named amongst 
us ; assuring us, " that nothing so much corrupteth 
good manners as wicked discourse." 

When immodest words are disguised with 
affectation and subtility, then they become infi- 
nitely more poisonous ; for, the more pointed the 
dart is, the more easily it enters our bodies ; so, 
also, the more pointed an obscene word is, tiie 
more deeply does it penetrate the heart ; and if 
they who esteem themselves men of gallantry for 
speaking such words were convinced that in con- 
versation they should be like a swarm of bees, 
convened together to collect honey from some 
sweet and virtuous entertainment, they certainly 
would not thus imitate a nest of wasps, assembled 
together to suck corruption. If some impudent 
person should address you in a lascivious manner, 
convince him that your ears are offended, either by 
turning yourself immodiat(»ly away, or I)y such other 
mark of resentment as your discretion may direct. 


To become a scoffer is one of the worst qualities 
of a wit. God, who detests this vice, has hereto- 
fore inflicted remarkable punishments on its per- 
petrators. Nothing is so opposite to charity or 
devotion as despising and contemning our neigh- 
bor. As derision and moclvcry is never witliout 
scoffing, therefore divines consider it is one of the 
worst oflences of which a man can be guilty against 
his neighbor, by words ; for other offences may be 
committed with some esteem of the party offended, 
but by this he is treated with scorn and contempt. 

As for certain good-humored jesting words, 
spoken by way of modest and innocent mirth, 
they belong to the virtue called Eiitrcqielia by the 
Greeks, which we may denominate good conversa- 
tion; and by these we take an honest and friendly 
recreation from those frivolous occasions with 
which human imperfections furnish us. AVe must 
be careful, however, not to pass from honest mirth 
to scoffing ; for scoffing excites laughter in the way 
of scorn and contempt of our neighbor ; whereas 
innocent mirth and drollery cause laughter by an 
unoffending lilierty, confidence, and familiar free- 
dom, joined to the sprightly wit of some ingenious 
conceit. St. Lewis, when the religious offered to 
speak to him, after dinner, of high and sublime 
matters, tokl them : " It is not now a time to 
allege texts, but to recreate ourselves with some 
cheerful conceits ; let every man say whatever 
innocent thing comes to his mind;" this he said 
when any of the nol)ility were present, to receive 
marks of kindness from his majesty. But let us 
T^emember, Philothea, to pass our time of recrea- 


tion in such a mtmner that we may never lose 
sight of the greatest of all concerns, Eternity. 

-o-o^O^ oo- 



g^UDGE not, and you shall not be judged," says 
^ the Saviour of our souls ; " Condemn not, and 
you shall not be condemned." St. Luke vi. 37. 
"Judge not," says the holy apostle, "before the 
time ; until the Lord come, who l)oth will liring 
to light the hidden things of darkness, and will 
make manifest the counsels of the hearts." 1 ("or. 
iv. 5. Oh, how displeasing are rash judgments 
to God ! The judgments of the children of men 
are rash, because they are not the judges of one 
another, and therefore usurp to themselves the 
office of our Lord. They are rash, because the 
principal malice of sin depends on the intent in 
the heart, which is an impenetral)le secret to us. 
They are not only rash, but also impertinent, 
because every one Avill find sufficient employment 
in judging himself, without taking ujion him to 
judge his neighbor. To avoid future judgment it 
is as necessary to refrain from judging others as 
to be careful to judge ourselves. For, as our Lord 
forbids the one, so the apostle enjoins the others, 
saying, that "if we judged ourselves we should 
aot be judged." But we act quite the contrary; 


for, by judging our neighbor on every occasion, 
we do that which is forbidden ; and, by not judg- 
ing ourselves, we neglect to practise that which we 
are strictly commanded. 

The remedies against rash judgments must he 
according to their different causes. There are 
some hearts naturally so l)itter and harsh as to 
make everything bitter and harsh that they receive, 
converting judgment, as the prophet Amos says, 
into ivorrmvood, by never judging their neighljors 
except with all rigor and harshness. These must 
seek the advice of a good spii tual physician, be- 
cause this bitterness of heart, being natural to 
them, is subdued with difficulty ; and though it 
be not in itself a sin, but an imperfection only, yet 
it is dangerous, because it introduces and causes 
rash judgment and detraction to reign in the soul. 
Some judge rashly, not through harshness, but 
through pride, imagining, that in the same pro- 
portion as they depress the honor of other men, 
they raise their own. Arrogant and presumptuous 
spirits, who admire and place themselves so high 
in their own esteem, look on all others as mean 
and abject. "I am not like the rest of men," said 
the foolish Pharisee. Luke xviii. 11. Others, 
who have not altogether this manifest pride, in- 
dulge a certain satisfaction in considering the evil 
qualities of other men, the more agreeably to cou' 
template, and make others admire the contrary 
good qualities wherewith they think themselves 
endowed ; for this complacency is so secret and 
imperceptible as not to be discovered even by 
those who are tainted therewith. Othera. to 


silence or assuage the remorse of their own con- 
sciences, ver^ willingly judge others to be guilty 
of the same vices to which they themselves are 
addicted, or of some other vices e(iu:illy as great ; 
thinking that the multitude of offenders diminishes 
the guilt of the sin. Many take the liberty of 
judging others rashly, merely for the pleasure of 
delivering their opinion and conjectures on their 
manners and humors, by way of exercising their 
wit ; and if, unhappily, they sometimes happen not 
to err in their judgment, their rashness increases 
to so violent an excess as to render it in a manner 
impossible ever to effect their cure. Others judge 
through passion and prejudice, always thinking 
well of what they love, and ill of that which they 
hate ; excepting in one case only, not less wonder- 
ful than true, in which the excess of love incites 
them to pass an ill judgment on that which they 
love, — a i)aradoxical efl'ect, which always proceeds 
from an impure and distempered love ; and this is 
jealous//, which, as every one knows, on account 
of a mere look, or the least smile, condemns the 
person beloved of disloyalty or adultery. In line, 
fear, ambition, and other similar weaknesses of the 
mind, frecjuently contribute towards the breeding 
of suspicious and rash judgments. 

But what is remedy? As they who drink the 
juice of the herb of ^Ethiopia, called ophiusa, im- 
agine that they everywhere behold scri)ents and 
other frightful objects ; so th(;y who have imbibed 
pride, envy, amlSition, and hatred, think every- 
thing they see evil and blamal)le. The former, to 
be healed, must drink palm wine ; and I say to the 


latter, drink copiously of the sacred wine of charity, 
•and it will deliver you from those noxious humors 
that engender rash judgment. As charity is afraid 
to meet evil, so she never seeks after it ; but 
whenever it falls in her way she turns her face 
aside, and does not notice it. At the firstalarm of 
evil she closes her eyes, and afterwards believes, 
with an honest simplicity, that it was not evil, but 
jnly its shadow or apparition ; and if she cannot 
avoid sometimes acknowled<2:ing it to be real evil 
she quickly turns from it, and endeavors to forget 
even its shadow. Charity is the sovereign remedy 
for all evils, but for this especially. All things ap- 
pear yellow to the eyes of those who are afHicted with 
the jaundice ; and it is said, that to cure this evil 
they must wear celandine under the soles of their 
feet. The sin of rash judgment is indeed a spirit- 
ual jaundice, and causes all things to appear evil 
to the eyes of those who are infected ; he that 
would be cured must not apply the remedies to 
his eyes, or his understanding ; but to his affections, 
which are the feet of the soul. If your affections 
are mild, your judgment will also be mild ; if your 
affections are charitable, your judgment will also 
])e charitable. I shall here present you with three 
admirable examples : Isaac had said that Rebecca 
Avas his sister; Abimelech saw him })laying with 
her, that is to say, caressing her in a tender man- 
ner. Gen. xxvi. 8, and presently he thought she 
was his wife. A malicious eye would rather have 
judged her to have Iieen his harlot, or, if she were 
his sister, that he had been incestuous ; but Abime- 
lech embraced the most charitable opinion he could 


concerning such an action. We must always do 
the same, Philothea, judging as much as possible 
in i\\\ov of our neighbors ; and, if one action could 
bear a hundred faces, we should always consider 
that which is the fairest. 

Our blessed Lady was with child, Matt. i. 9, 
and St. Joseph plainly perceived it ; but, on the 
other hand, as he saw her holy, pure, and angeli- 
cal, he could not believe she became pregnant in 
an unlawful manner ; so that he resolved to leave 
her privately, and commit the judgment of her 
case to God ; and though the argument was well 
calculated to make him conceive an ill opinion of 
his virgin spouse, yet he would never judge her; 
and why ? Because, says the spirit of God, " he was 
a just man." A just man, Avhen he can no longer 
•excuse either the action, or the intention, of him 
whom otherwise he sees to be virtuous, neverthe- 
less will not judge him, but endeavors to forget it, 
and leaves the judgment to God. Thus, our blessed 
Saviour on the cross, Luke xxiii. 24, not being 
able to excuse entirely the sin of those that cruci- 
fied him, extenuated the malice of it by alleging 
their i<>norance. When we cannot excuse the sin 
let us at least render it worthy of compassion, at- 
tributing it to the most favorable cause, such as 
ignorance or infirmity. 

But can we never judge our neighbor? No, 
/erily, never. It is God, O Philothea ! that judges 
malefactors in public justice. It is true that he 
uses the voice of judges to make himself intelligi- 
ble to our ears; they are his inleipreters, and 
ought to pronounce nothing but what they have 


learnt of him, as being his oracles ; if they act 
otherwise, by following their own passions, then, 
indeed, it is they that judge, and who consequently 
shall be judged ; for it is forbidden to men, in 
quality of men, to judge others. 

To see or know a thing is not to judge it; for 
judgment, at least according to Scripture, pre- 
sup[)oses some difficulty, great or small, true or 
apparent, which is to be decided ; Avherefore i1 
says, John iii. 18, that " He who believeth not is 
already judged," because there is no doubt of his 
damnation. Is it not, then, a sin to doubt of out 
neighbor? No, for we are not forbidden to doubt, 
but to judge ; however, it is only allowable to 
doubt or suspect as far as reason and argumenta 
aiay constrain us, otherwise our doubts and sus- 
picions will be rash. 

If some evil eye had seen Jacob when he kissed 
Rachel by the well, or had seen Rebecca receive 
bracelets and ear-rinos from Eliezer, a man un- 
known in that country, he would no doubt have 
thought ill of these two patrons of chastity; but 
without reason or foundation : for, when an action 
is in itself indifierent, it is a rash suspicion to draw 
an ill consequence from it, unless many circum- 
stances ijive streno'th to the armmient. It is also 
a ^'asli judgment to draw an argument from an 
action, in order to blame the person; but this } 
shall hereafter explain more clearly. 

In fine, those who have tender consciences arc 
not very subject to rash judgment ; for, as the 
bees in misty or cloudy weather keep in their 
hives to arrange their honey ; so the thoughts o£ 


good souls do not venture in search of objects that 
lie concealed amidst the cloudy actions of their 
neighI)ors ; but, to avoid meeting them, they retire 
into their own hearts, to arrange the ofood resolu- 
tions of then' own amendments. 

It is natural to an uni)rotital)le soul to amuse 
itself with examining the lives of other ])ersons : J 
except si)iritual directors, fathers of families, mag- 
istrates, etc., because a considerable part of theii 
duty consists in watching over the conduct of 
others ; let them discharge their duty with love, 
and, having done this, they must then attend to 
their own advancement in virtue. 




5^^ASII judgment engenders uneasiness, contempt 
Aik of our neighbor, ])ride, self-(;()mj)lacency, and 
many other most ])ernicious elfects ; among which 
detraction, the l)ane of conversation, holds the 
first i)lace. Oh that I possessed one of the burning 
coals of the holy altar to touch the ]i})s of men, so 
that their inicjuities might be taken away, and their 
sin cleansed, in imitation of the seraphim that 
purified the mouth of the pro})het Isaias ! Jsai. vi. 
He that would deliver the world from detraction 
would free it from a great num])er of sins. 
Whoever robs his neighbor of his good name is 


not only guilty of sin, but is also bound to make 
reparation ; for no man can enter into heaven with 
the goods of another ; and, amongst all exterior 
goods, a good name is the best. Detraction is a 
kind of murder; for we have three lives, viz., the 
spiritual, which consists in the grace of God ; the 
corporal, which depends on the soul ; and the civii, 
which consists in our good name : sin deprives us 
of the first, death takes away the second, and 
detraction robs us of the third. But the detractor 
by one blow of his tongue commits three murders ; 
he kills not only his own soul, and the soul of him 
that hears 'jm, but also, by a spiritual murder, 
takes away the civil life of the person detracted ; 
for, as St. Bernard says, both he that detracts and 
he that hearkens to the detractor have the devil 
about them ; the one in his tongue, and the other 
in his ear. David, speaking of detractors, says, 
"They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent." 
ps. cxxxix. Now, as the serpent's tongue, ac- 
cording to Aristotle, is forked, and has two points, 
BO is that of the detractor, who at one stroke stings 
and poisons the ear of the hearer, and the reputation 
of him against whom he is speaking. 

I earnestly conjure you, then, dear Philothea, 
never to detract any one, either directly or indi- 
rectly ; beware of falsely imputing crimes and sins 
to your neighbor ; of discovering his secret sins, or 
of aggravating those that are manifest ; or of making 
an evil interpretation of his good works ; or of 
denying the good which you know th;;t he possesses, 
or dissembling it maliciously, or diminishing it by 
words ; for in ail these ways you wil! highly offend 


God , but, most of all, l)y false accusations, and 
denying the truth to the prejudice of a third person ; 
for it is a double sin to calumniate and injure 
your neighbor at the same time. 

They who })ref:ice detraction by protestations of 
friendship and regard for the person detracted, or 
Avho make a})ologies in his favor, are the mott 
subtle and venomous of all detractors. "I protest," 
say they, " I love him ; in every other respect he is 
a worthy man ; but yet the truth must be told, he 
was wrong to commit so treacherous an action. 
She was very virtuous, but, alas ! she was sur- 
prised," etc. Do you not perceive the artifice? As 
the dexterous archer draws the arrow as near as 
possible to himself, that he may shoot the dart away 
with greater force, so, when these detractors seem to 
draw the detraction towards themselves, it is only 
with { view to shoot it away with more violence, 
that it may pierce more deeply into the hearts of 
their hearers. But the detraction which is uttered 
])y way of a witty jest is still more cruel tlian all 
the rest. For, as hemlock is not of itself a very 
quick, l)ut rather a slow, poison, which may be 
easily remedied, yet being taken with wine is 
incui-:;ble ; so detraction, whii;li of itself might 
j)ass lightly in at one ear, and out at the other, 
remains in the minds of the hearers, when it is 
couched under some subtle and meny jest. " The 
venom of asps," says David, " is under their lips." 
The bite of the asp is ahnost impercc^ptible, and 
its venom at first ])i-oduce(l a delightful itching, by 
means of which the heart uiid the bowels are 


expanded, and receive the poison ; against which 
there is afterwards no remed3\ 

Say not such a one is a drunkard, because you 
have seen him drunk ; nor that he is an adulterer, 
because he has l)een surprised in that sin ; nor that 
he is incestuous, because he has been guihy of that 
abominable action ; for one act alone is not suffi- 
cient to constitute a vice. The sun stood still once 
in favor of the victory of Josue, and was darkened 
-another time in favor of that of our Saviour ; yet 
none will say that the sun is either immovable or 
dark. Noah was once drunk, and Lot another 
time, and this latter also committed a gi'eat incest ; 
yet neither the one nor the other was a drunkard, 
nor was the latter an incestuous man. St. Peter 
had not a sanguinary disposition, because he once 
shed blood, nor was he a blasphemer, though he 
once blasphemed. To acquire the name of a vice 
or a virtue the action must be hal)itual ; one must 
bave made some progress in it. It is, then, an 
injustice to say that such a man is passionate, or a 
thief, because we have seen him once in a passion, 
or guilty of stealing. Although a man may have 
been a long time vicious, yet we are in danger of 
accusing him falsely if we call him vicious. 
Simon, the leper, called Magdalen a sinner, because 
she had been so not long before ; yet he accused 
her fjdsely, for she was then no longer a sinner, 
but a most holy penitent ; and therefore our 
Saviour took her cause under his protection. The 
proud pharisee considered the humble publican as 
a great sinner, or even perhaps an unjust man, an 
adulterer, an extortioner; but was greatly deceived. 


for at that very time he was justified. Alas ! sinct 
the goodness of God is so immense, tliat one 
moment suffices to obtain and receive his grace, 
wiiat assurance can we have that he who was 
yesterday a sinner is not a saint to-day ? The day 
that is past ought not to judge the day present, 
or the present day judge that which is past ; it is 
only the last day that judges all. AVe can, then, 
never say a man is wicked without exposing 
ourselves to the danger of lying; all that we can 
say, if we must speak, is, that he did such bad 
actions, or lived ill at such a time ; that he does ill 
at present ; but we must never draw consequences 
from yesterday to this day, nor from this day to 
yesterday, much less to to-morrow. 

Now, though we must be extremely cautious of 
speaking ill of our neighbor, yet we must avoid 
the contrary extreme, into which some tall, who, to 
avoid the sin of detraction, commend and si)cak 
well of vice. If a person be, indeed, a detractor, 
say not, in his excuse, he is a frank and free 
speaker ; if a person be notoriously v'ain, say not 
that he is genteel and elegant ; never call dan- 
gerous familiarities l)y the name of siniiilicity and 
Innocence ; nor disol)ttdicnce by the name of zeal ; 
•lor arrogance by the name of frectlom ; nor lasciv- 
!ousness by the name of friendshi}). No, dear 
U'hilothea, we nmst not, in order to avoid the 
vice of detraction, favor, fiatter, or cherish vice ; 
but we nmst openly and freely spc^dc of evil, and 
blame th:it which is blamabic ; lor in doing this we 
glorify God, provided we observe the folio wiiig 
conditions : — 


To speak commendably against the vices of 
another it is necessary that we should have in 
view the profit either of the person spoken of, or 
of those to whom we speak. For instance, when 
the indiscreet or danijerous familiarities of such or 
such persons are related in the company of young 
maids ; or the liberties taken by this or that 
person, in their words or gestures, are plainly 
lascivious : if I do not freely l)lame the evil, but 
rather excuse it, these tender souls, who hear of it, 
will perhaps take occasion to allow themselves 
some such like liberties. Their advantage, then, 
requires that I should freely reprehend these 
liberties upon the spot, unless I could reserve this 
good office to be done better, and with less prej- 
udice to the persons spoken of, on some other 

It is, moreover, requisite that it should be my 
duty to speak on this occasion, as Avhen I am one 
of the chief of the company; for, if I should keep 
silence, I would seem to approve of the vice ; but 
if I be one of the least, I must not take upon me to 
pass my censure. But, above all, it is necessary 
that I should be so cautious in my remarks as not 
to say a sin<xle word too much. For example, if I 
blame the familiarity of this young man, and that 
young maid, because it is apparently indiscreet 
and dangerous, good God ! Philothea, I must hold 
the balance so even as not to make the matter a 
single grain heavier. Should there be l)ut a slight 
appearance, I will call it no more ; if a mere indis' 
cretion, I would give it no worse name ; should 
there be neither indiscretion, nor real appearance 


of evil, l)ut only u proluibility that some malicious 
spirit may take from thence a pretext to speak ill, 
£ will either say nothing at all, or say this onl\', 
And no more. My tongue, whilst I am speaking 
of my neighbor, shall be in my mouth like a knife 
in the hand of a surgeon, who would cut between 
the sinews and the tendons. The l)low I shall give 
shall be neither more nor less than the truth. In 
Bne, it must be our principal care in blaming any 
rice to spare, as much as possible, the person iu 
Fvdioni it is found. 

It is true, we may speak freely of infamous 
public and notorious sinners, provided it be in the 
spirit of charity and compassion, and not with 
arrogance and i^resumption, nor with c()m])lacency 
in the evils of others, which is always the })art of a 
mean and abject heart. Amongst these, however, 
the declared enemies of God and his Church, such 
as the rini::leaders of heretics and schismatics, nuist 
be excepted, since it is charity to cry out against 
the wolf, wdierever he is, more especially when ho 
is among the sheep. 

Every one takes the liberty to censure princes 
and to speak ill of whole nations, according to the 
different alloctions they b(\'ir them. Philothca, 
avoid this fault ; for, besides the oilcnce against 
God, it may bring you into a thousand quarrels. 

When you hear any one spoken ill of, make the 
accusation doubtful, if you can do it justly ; if you 
cannot, excuse the intention of the party accus(>(l : 
if that cannot be done, express a conqjassion for 
him, change the topic of conversation, remem- 
bering yourself, and putting the company in mind. 


that they who do not fall owe their happiness to 
God alone ; recall the detractor to hhnself with 
meekness, and declare some good action of the 
party offended, if you know any. 



^•^ET your language be meek, open, and sincere, 
■A^ without the least mixture of equivocations, 
artifice, or dissimulation ; for although it may not 
be always advisable to say all that is true, yet it 
is never allowable to speak against the truth. 
Accustom yourself, therefore, never to tell a 
deliberate lie, either by way of excuse or other- 
whe ; remembering always that God is the God 
of truth. Should you tell a lie inadvertently, fail 
not to correct it upon the spot by some explanation 
or reparation ; an honest excuse has always more 
grace and force to bear one harmless than a lie. 

Though one may sometimes prudently disguise 
the truth by some equivocation, yet it must never 
be done but when the glory and service of God 
manifestly require it ; in any other case, such 
artifices are dangerous. The Holy Spirit dwells 
not in a deceitful soul. (Wisd. i.) No artifice is 
so good and desirable as plain-dealmg : worldly 
prudence and artifice belong to the children of 
the world ; but the children of God walk uprightly, 


and their heart is without guile. " lie that walked 
sincerely," says the wise man, Prov. x. 9, " walk- 
eth confidently." Lying, double-dealing, and 
dissimulation, are always sii!:ns of a weak and 
mean spirit. St. Austin had said, in the fourth 
book of his Confessions, that his soul and that of 
his friend were but one soul ; and that he had a 
horror for his life after the death of his friend, 
because he was not willing to live by halves ; 
and yet that for the same reason he was unwilling 
to die, lest his friend should die wholly. These 
words seemed to him afterwards so artful and 
affected, that he recalled them, and censured them 
in his book of lletractations. Observe, Philothca, 
the exactness of this holy soul with respect to the 
least artifice in his words. Fidelity, plainness, 
and sincerity of speech are the greatest ornaments 
of a Christian life ; " I will take heed," says holy 
David, "to my ways, that I may not sin with ni}' 
tongue. Set a watch, O Lord, before my moulh, 
and a door round about my li})s." It was the 
advice of St. Lewis, in order to avoid contention, 
not to contradict any one in discourse, unless it 
were either sinful, or very prejudicial to acquiesce 
to him. But should it be necessary to contradict 
any one, or oppose our own opinion to his, ^ve nuist 
do it with much mildness and dexterity, so as not 
to irritate his temper; for nothing is ever gained 
by harshness and violence. 

To si)cak little, a practice so much recommended 
by all wise men, does not consist in uttering few 
words, ])ut in uttering none that are unprofitable \ 
for in point of speaking one is not to regard the 


quantity so much as the quality of the words ; but 
in my opinion we ought to avoid both extremes. 
For to be too reserved, and refuse to join in con- 
versation, looks like disdain, or a want of confi- 
dence ; and, on the other hand, to be always talk- 
ing, so as to afford neither leisure nor opportunity 
to others to speak when they wish, is a mark 
of shallowness and levity. 

St. Lewis condemned whispernig in company, 
and particularly at table, lest it should give others 
occasion to suspect that some evil was spoken of 
them. "He that is at table," said he, "in good 
company, and has something to say that is merry 
and pleasant, should mention it so that all the 
company may hear him ; but if it be a thing of 
importance, let him reserve it for a more suitable 




^T is necessary sometimes to relax our minds, as 
^ well as our bodies, by some kind of recreation. 
St. John the Evangelist, as Cas.sian relates, 
amusing himself one day with a partridge on his 
hand, was asived by a huntsman, how such a man 
as he could spend his time in so unprofitable a 
manner? To whom St. John replied: "Why 
dost thou nqt carry thy bow always bent ? " — " Be- 


cause," answered the liuntsman, "were it always 
bent, I fear it would lose its spring and become use- 
less." — " Be not surprised, then," replied the apos- 
tle, "that 1 should sometimes rt-mit a little of my 
close a})plication and attention of mind to enjoy 
some little recreation, that I may afterwards employ 
myself more fervently in divine contem})lation." 
It is doubtless a defect to be so rigorous and aus- 
tere as neither to be willing to take any recreation 
ourselves, nor allow it to others. 

To take the air, to walk, to entertain ourselves 
with cheerful and friendly conversations, to play 
on the lute or any othei* instrument, to sing to 
music, or go hunting, are recreations so innocent, 
that, in a proper use of them, there needs but that 
common })rudence which gives to everything its 
due order, time, place, and measure. 

Those games in which the gain serves as a 
recompense for the dexterity and industr}^ of the 
body or of the mind, such as tennis ball, i)all-mall, 
running at the ring, chess, and ])ackgannnon, are 
recreations in themselves good and lawful ; pro- 
vided excess, either in the time enii)loycd in them, 
or in the sum that is played for, be a\'oid(Hl ; 
because, if too nuich time be s})ent in them, they 
are no longer an amusement, l)ut an occupation, in 
which neither the mind nor the body is refreshed, 
but on the contrary stupefied and ojipressed. 
After playing live or six hours at chess, the si)irits 
are altogetner fatigued and exhausted, 'i'o l)lay 
long at tennis is not to recreate, but fatigue, the 
body ; and if the sum j)la>'ed for be too great, the 
aflections of the players become irregular ; besides, 


it i's unjust to hazard so much upon skill of so little 
importance as that which is exercised at play. 
But, above all, Philothea, take particular care not 
10 set your affections upon these amusements ; for 
how innocent soever any recreation may be, when 
we set our hearts upon it, it becomes vicious. I 
do not say that you nuist take no pleasure whilst 
at play, for then it would be no recreation ; but I 
say you must not fix your affection on it, nor 
spend too much time in it, nor be too eager after it. 



fl^HE games of dice, cards, and the like, in which 
<*^ the gain depends principally on hazard, are 
not only dangerous recreations, as dancing, but 
are, of their own nature, bad and re})rehensible ; 
hence they have been forbidden by the laws, as 
well ecclesiastical as civil. You will say, perhaps, 
what great harm can there be in them? The evil 
consists in this, that the gain is not acquired at 
these games according to reason, but chance, 
which often falls upon him whose ability or 
industry deserves nothing ; and such a proceeding 
Is repugnant to reason. But you will say, it is 
according to the agreement of the parties. That 
serves indeed to show that the winner does no wrong 
to the loser, but it justifies neither the agreement 


nor the game ; for tlie gain, which ought to be the 
recompense of industry, is made the reward of 
chance, which deserves no reward whatever, since 
it depends not at all upon us. Besides, although 
these games l)ear the name of recreations, yet they 
are by no means recreations, but tiresome occupa- 
tions, for is it not tiresome to keej) the mind 
incessantly occupied by an unremitted attention, 
and provoked by perpetual ai)prehcnsions and solici- 
tudes? Can there ])e any attention more painful, 
gloomy, or melancholy, than that of gamesters? 
You nuist neither speak, laugh, nor cough, whilst 
they are at play, for fear of giving offence. In 
fact, there is no joy at play but when you win ; 
and is not that joy iniquitous which cannot be 
felt but by the loss or displeasure of a friend or 
com})anion? Surely such satisfaction is infamous. 
For these three reasons this kind of gaming is 

St. Lewis, hearing that his brother, the Count of 
Anjou, and JNIonsieur Gautier do Ni'inours, were 
gaming, arose from his bed, to which he was 
contiiu'd by sickness, went staggering to their 
chaml)er, and taking the tables, the dice, and part 
of the money, threw them out of the window into 
the sea. The holy and chaste damsel, Sara, 
speaking in prayer to God, brings this argument 
other innocency : "Thou knowest, O Lord, that 1 
have never joined myself with them that play." 
Tob. iii. 




^I^LTHOUGH balls and dancing be recreations 
•A%. of their own nature indirt'erent, yet, on account 
of the manner in which they are generally con- 
ducted, they preponderate very much on the side 
of evil, and are consequently extremely dangerous. 
Being generally carried on in the darkness and 
obscurity of night, it is by no means surprising 
that several vicious circumstances should obtain 
easy admittance, since the subject is of itself so 
susceptible of evil. The votaries of these amuse- 
ments, by sitting up late at night, disable them- 
selves from discharging their duty to God on the 
following morning. Is it not, then, a kind of 
madness to exchange the day for the night, 
light for darkness, and good works for criminal 
fooleries ? Every one strives who shall carry the 
most vanity to the ball ; and vanity is so con- 
genial, as well to evil aflections, as to dangerous 
familiarities, that both are easily engendered by 

I have the same opinion of dances, Philothea, 
that physicians have of mushrooms : as the best of 
them, in their opinion, are good for nothing, so 
1 tell you the best balls are good for nothing, If, 
nevertheless, you must eat mushrooms, be sure that 
they are well dressed. If upon some occasion, 
which you cannot well avoid, you must go to a 


l)all, see that your dancing l)c properly conducted. 
But you will ask me how must it be conducted? 
I answer, with modesty, gravity, and a good 
intention. Eat but sparingly, and seldom of 
mushrooms, say the physicians, for, how well 
soever they may be dressed, the quantity makes 
them poisonous ; dance but little, and very seldom, I 
say, Philothea, lest otherwise you put yourself 
in danger of contracting an affection for it. 

Mushrooms, according to Pliny, being spongy 
and porous, easily attract infection to themselves 
from the things which surround them ; so that 
being near serpents and toads, they imbibe their 
poison. Balls, dancing, and other nocturnal meet- 
ings, ordinarily attract the reigning vices and sins 
together, such as quarrels, envy, scoffing, and 
wanton love ; and as these exercises open the pores 
of the bodies of those that use them, so they also 
open the pores of their heart, and expose them to 
the danger of some serpent, seizing the favorable 
opi)ortunity to breathe some loose words or lasciv- 
ious sui^gestions into the ear, or of some basilisk 
casting an impure look, or wanton glance of love 
into the heart, which, being thus opened, is easily 
seized upon and poisoned. O Philothea! these 
idle recreations are ordinarily very dangerous ; 
they extinguish the spirit of devotion, and leave 
the soul in a languishing condition ; they cool the 
fervor of charity, and excite a thousand evil af- 
fections in the soul ; and therefore they are not to 
be used but with the greatest caution. 

But physicians say, that after mushrooms we 
Of Wit oiiuk iTood wiric ; and I say, that after 


dancing it is necessary to refresh our souls with 
some good uiid holy considerations, to prevent the 
baneful etfects of those dangerous impressions 
Avhich the vain pleasure taken in dancing may 
have left in our minds. But what considerations? 
1. Consider that, during the time 3-ou were at 
the ball, innumerable souls were l)urning in the 
flames of hell, for the sins which they had com- 
mitted or occasioned by their dancing. 2. That 
many religious and devout persons of both sexes 
were at the very time in the presence of God, 
singing his praises, and contemplating his beauty. 
Ah ! how much more profitably was their time 
em})loyed than yours! 3. That, whilst you were 
dancmg, many souls departed out of this world in 
great anouish, and that thousands of men and 
women were then sutfering dreadful pains m their 
beds, in hospitals, in the streets, by painful dis- 
tempers, or burning fevers. Alas ! they had no 
rest, and will you have no compassion for them? 
And do you not think that you shall one day groan, 
as they did, whilst others shall dance as you did? 
4. That our blessed Saviour, his virgin Mother, 
the angels and saints, beheld you at the ball. Ah ! 
how greatly did they pity you, seeing your heart 
pleased with so vain an amusement, and taken up 
with such childish toys! 5. Alas! whilst you 
were there time was passing away, and Death 
was approaching nearer ; behold how he mocks 
you, and invites you to his dance, in which the 
sighs of your friends shall serve for the music, and 
where you shall make but one step from this life 
to the next. The dance of death is, alas I the trua 


pastime of mortals, since by it we instantly pasa 
from the vain amusements of this world to the 
eternal pains or pleasures of the next. I have set 
you down these little considerations : God will 
suggest to you many more of a similar uatui'e, 
provided you fear him. 



WN order that playing and dancing may be law- 
■^ ful we must use them as a recreation, without 
having any affection for them ; Ave may use them 
for a short time, but we should not continue till 
we are wearied or stupefied with them ; and we 
must use them ])ut seldom, lest we should other- 
wise turn a recreation into an occupation. But 
on what occasions may we lawfully i)lay and 
dance? Just occasions of innocent games are 
frequent, whilst those of hazai'd are rare, on 
account of their beins; more blamal)lo and dan- 
>erous : wherefore, in one word, dance and play 
as your own })rudcnce and discretion may direct 
you, to comply with the civil request of the 
company in which you are eng.iged : for conde- 
scension is a branch of charity which makes 
indifferent thmgs good, and dangci'ous things 
allowable; it even takes away the hanu from those 
thiusrs that are iu some measure evil ; and therefore 


games of hazard, which otherwise would be rep- 
rehensible, are not so if we use them sometimes, 
through a just condescension. 

I was very much pleased to read, in the life of 
St. Charles Borromeo, how he condescended to the 
Swiss in certain things, in which otherwise he was 
very strict ; and that St. Ignatius, of Loyola, 
being invited to play, did not refuse. As to 
St. Elizabeth, of Hungary, she played and danced 
sometimes, when she was present at assemblies of 
recreation, without any prejudice to her devotion ; 
for devotion was so deeply rooted in her soul, that 
as the rocks about the lake of Rietta grow larger 
by the beating of the waves, so her devotion 
increased among the pomps and vanities to which 
her condition exposed her. Great tires increase 
by the wind ; but little ones are soon blown out,, 
if we carry them uncovered. 





f^HE sacred Spouse in the canticle says, that 
'^ his Spouse has wounded " his heart with one 
of her eves, and with one hair of her neck." Now, 
among all the exterior parts of the human l)ody, 
none is more noble, either for its construction or 
activity, than the eye, and none more inconsiderable 


than the hair. Wherefore the divine Spouse woula 
give us to understand, that he is phrased to accept 
not only the great works of devout persons, l)ut 
also the least and most trivial ; and that, to serve 
him as he desires, we uuist take; care to serve him 
well, not only in great and important things, but in 
those that are small and unimportant ; since we 
may ecjually by the one and the other wound his 
heart with love. 

l^vpare yourself, then, Philothea, to suffer 
many great afflictions, even martyrdom itself, for 
our Lord ; resolve to surrender to him whatever 
is most dear to you, when it shall please him to 
take it ; father, mother, husband, wife, brother, 
sister, children ; yea, even your eyes, or your 
life ; for to all these sacriticcs you ought to prepare 
your heart. But as long as divine Providence 
sends you not afflictions so sensible or so great, 
since he requires not your eyes, gi\e him at least 
your hair. I mean, suller meekly those small 
injuries, trilling inconveniences, and inconsiderable 
losses, which daily befall you ; for by means of 
such little circumstances as these, managed with 
love and affection, you will engage his heart 
entirely, and make it all your own. These little 
daily charities; this headache, or toothache ; this 
cold ; this ])erverse humor of a husband or wife ; 
this breaking of a glass; this contempt of scorn; 
this loss of a })air of gloves, of a ring, or a hand- 
kerchief; those little inconveniences which wo 
sutler by retiring to rest at an early hour, and 
rising early to i)ray or connnunicate ; that little 
V)ash fulness we have m performing certain acts of 


devotion in public ; in short, all these trivial 
sufterings, being accepted, and embraced with 
iove, are highly pleasing to the divine goodness, 
who for a cup of cold water only has promised an 
eternal reward to his faithful servants. Wherefore, 
as these occasions present themselves every mo- 
ment, to employ them to advantage will be a great 
means to heap up a store of spiritual riches. 

When I saw in the life of St. Catharine, of Sienna, 
her many raptures and elevations of spirit, so many 
w^ords olf Avisdom, nay, even profound instructions 
uttered by her, I doubted not but that, with the 
eye of contemplation, she had ravished the heart 
of her heavenly Spouse. But I was no less com- 
forted Avhen I found her in her father's kitchen, 
humbly turning the spit, kindling the hre, dressing 
the meat, kneading the bread, and performing the 
meanest offices of the house, with a courage full of 
love and affection towards her God ; for I esteem 
no less the little and humble meditations she made 
in the midst of these mean and abject employments 
than the ecstasies and raptures she so often enjoyed, 
which were perhaps granted to her only in recom- 
pense of her humility and abjection. Her manner 
of meditating was as follows : whilst she was dress- 
ing the meat for her father she imagined that, like 
another St. Martha, she was preparing it for our 
Saviour, and that her mother held the place of the 
blessed Virgin, and her brothers that of the apos- 
tles ; exciting herself in this manner to serve the 
whole court of heaven in spirit, whilst she em- 
ployed herself with great delighi in these humble 
services, because she knew that such was the will 


of God. I have adduced this example, Philothea, 
that you may know of what iini)ortaiice it is to di- 
rect all your actions, how inconsiderable soever 
they may be, with a i)ure intention, to the service 
of his divine Majesty. 

Wherefore I earnestly advise you to imitate the 
valiant woman Avhom the great Solomon so higiily 
eommends ; " she hath put outlier hands," he says, 
"to strong things" ; that is, to high, generous, and 
im))orl Hit things, and yet disdained not to " take 
hold of the spindle." Prov. xxxi. Put out your 
hand to strong things, exercise yourself in prayer 
and meditation, in frequenting the sacraments, in 
exciting souls to the love of God, and infusing 
good inspirations into their heai'ts, and, in a word, 
in the })erformance of great and important Avorks, 
according to your vocation ; but never forget your 
distaff or spindle ; or, in other words, take care to 
practise these low and humble virtues, which grow 
like Howers at the foot of the cross ; such as serv- 
ing the poor, visiting the sick, taking care of your 
family, and attcndins: to all your domestic con- 
cerns, with that protital)le diligence which will 
not sulfer you to be idle ; and, amidst all these oc- 
cujiations, mingle considerations similar to those I 
liave related above of St. Catharine. 

Great occasions of serving God present them- 
selves seldom ; but little ones, frequently. " Now 
he that shall be faithful in small matters," says our 
Saviour, "shall beset over great things. Perform 
ail things, then, in the name of God, and you will 
do all things Avell ; whether you eat, drink, sleep, 
recreate yourself, or turn the spit, provided you 


know how to refer all your actions to God, you 
will profit much in the sight of his divine Majesty- 




^T is reason alone tliat makes us men, and yet 
■^ it is a rare thing to find men truly reasonable ; 
because self-love ordinarily puts us out of the 
paths of reason, leading us insensibly to a thousand 
small, yet dangerous, injustices and partialities ; 
which, like the little foxes spoken of in the Canti- 
cles, destroy the vines ; for, because they are lit- 
tle, we take no notice of them ; but, being great in 
number, they fail not to injure us considerably. 

Are not the things of which I am about to speak 
unjust and unreasonable? We condemn every 
trifle in our neighbors, and excuse ourselves in 
things of importance ; we want to sell very dearly 
and to buy very cheaply ; we desire that justice 
should be executed in another man's house, but 
mercy and connivance in our own ; we would have 
everything we say taken in good part, but we are 
delicate and touchy with regard to Avhat others say 
of us ; we would insist on our neighbor parting 
tv'ith his goods, and taking our money ; but is it 
not more reasonable that he should keep his goods, 
And leave us our money? We take it ill that he 
will not accommodate us ; but has he not more 


reason to be offended that we should desire to io- 
coiiimode hliii ? 

If we love one particular exercise we despise 
all others, and set ourselves against everything 
that is not according to our own taste. If there 
be any of our inferiors who is not agreeable, or 
to whom we have taken once a dislike, we find 
fault with all that he does, and we cease not on 
es cry occasion to mortify him. On the contrary, 
if the conduct of any one be agrecal)Ie to us, he 
can do nothino; that Ave are not willing to oxcusc. 
There are some virtuous children, whom their 
parents can scarcely al>ide to see, on account of 
some bodily imperfections ; and there are others 
that are vicious, who are favorites, on account of 
some corporal gracefulness. On all occasions we 
prefer the rich before the poor, although they be 
neither of better condition, nor more virtuous ; 
we even prefer those who are best clad. We 
rigorously exact om* own dues, but we desire that 
others should be gentle in demanding theirs ; "\ve 
keep our own rank with precision, but would have 
others humble and condescending; we complain 
easily of our neighbor, but none must comi)lain 
of us ; what we do for others seems always very 
consideral)le, but what others do for us seems as 
nothing. In a word, we are like the j)artridges 
in Pai)hlagonia, Avhich have two hearts; for we 
have one heart, mild, favoraI)le, and courteous 
towards ourselves, and another hard, scNcrc, and 
rigorous towards our neighbor. \\'e lia\e two 
balances; one to weigh out to our own advantage, 
and l'» Ahor to weigh in to the detriment of out 


neighbor. " Deceitful lips," says the Scripture, 
Ps. xi. 3, "have spoken with a double heart," viz., 
two hearts ; and to have two weights, the one 
greater, with which we receive, and the other less, 
with Avhich we deliver out, is an al)ominable thing 
in the siofht of God. Deut. xxv. 13. 

Philothea, in order to perform all your actions 
with equity and justice, you must exchange situa- 
tions with your neighbor ; imagine yourself the 
seller whilst you are buying, and the buyer whilst 
you are selling ; and thus you will sell and Iniy 
according to justice and equity ; for, although 
small injustices, which exceed not the limits of 
rigor, in selling to our advantage, may not oblige 
to restitution : yet beinof defects contrarv to reason 
and charity, we are certainly obliged to correct 
and amend them ; at best, they are nothing but 
mere illusions ; for, believe me, a man of a gen- 
erous, just, and courteous disposition is never on 
the losing side. Neglect not, then, Philothea, 
frequently to examine whether your heart be such 
with respect to your neighbor as you would desire 
his to be with respect to you, were you in his 
situation; for this is the touchstone of true reason. 
Trajan, being l)lamed by his confidants for making 
the imperial majesty, as they thought, too ac- 
cessible, said, " Ought I not to be such an em- 
peror towards private men as I would desire an 
emperor to be towards me were I nnself a private 
man ? " 





^VERY one knows that wo are o1)li2;cd to re- 
frain from the desire of vicious thinu's, since 
even the desire of evil is of itself criminal ; hut 
I tell you, moreover, Philothea, you must not he 
anxious after halls, plays, or the like diversions, 
nor covet honors and offices, nor even visions and 
ecstasies ; for there is a <i-reat deal of danger, deceit, 
and vanity in such things. Desire not that which 
is at a great distance, nor that which cannot happen 
for a long time, as many do, who, l)y this means, 
weary and distract their hearts un})rolital)ly. If a 
young man earnestly desires to be settled in some 
office, before the proper time, what does all his 
anxiety avail him? If a married woman desires 
to be a nun, to what purpose? If I desire to buy 
my neighbor's goods before he is willing to sell 
them, is it not a loss of time to entertain this 
desire? If, whilst I am sick, I desire to preach, 
to celebrate mass, to visit others that are sick, 
and perform the exercises of those Avho are in 
health, are not all these desires in Nain, sinc^; it 
is out of my power to ])ut thcni in execution? 
Yet in the meantime these uni)ro(itable desires 
occu[)y the ])Iace of the virtues of patience, resig- 
nation, mortification, obedience, and meekness 
under sullerings, which is what (Jod wishes me to 
practise at that tiuK^ ; but we are often in the con- 


dition of those who long for cherries in autumn, 
and grapes in the spring. 

I can by no means approve that persons should 
desire to amuse themselves in any other kind of 
hfe than that in whicli they are ah'eady engaged ; 
nor in any exercises that are incompatible with 
their present condition ; for this dissipates tlie 
heart, and makes it untit for its necessary occu- 
pations. If I desire to practise the solitude of a 
Carthusian, I lose my time ; and this desire occu- 
pies the place of that whicli I ought to have to 
employ myself well in my actual state. No, I 
would not that any one should even desire to have 
more talents or judgment than he is ah-eady 
possessed of; for these desires are not only use- 
less, but moreover occupy the place of those 
which every one ought to have, of cultivating the 
genius he inherits from nature ; nor should anj 
one desire those means to serve God whicli he has 
not, but rather diligently employ those wdiich he 
has. Now, this is to be understood only of desires 
which totally occupy the heart ; for, as to simple 
wishes, if they be not too freiiuent, they do no 
harm whatever. 

Desire not crosses but in proportion to the 
patience with which you have supported those 
which have been already sent you ; for it is })re- 
sumptuous to desire martyrdom, .and not have the 
courage to bear an injury. The enemy often sug- 
gests a great desire of things that are absent, 
and which shall never occur, so that he may 
divert our mind from present objects, from which, 
however trivial they may be, we might obtaio 


considerable profit to ourselves. We fight wit* 
the monsters of Africa, in imagination; and, in 
the meantime, for want of attention, we suffer 
ours(^lvos to be killed ])y every insigiiific-aiit rep- 
tile that lies in our way. Desire not temptations, 
for that would be rashness ; but accustom your 
heart to expect them courageously, and to defend 
yourself against them Avhen they shall come. 

A variety of food, taken in any considera])le 
quantity, overloads the stomach, and, if it be 
weak, destroys it; overcharge not then, your 
soul, either with a multitude of worldly desires, 
Avhich may end in your ruin ; or even with such 
as are s})iritual, as they an; apt to })roduce dis- 
tractions. When the puritied soul finds herself 
freed from bad humors sht; feels a cr:i\ in<>: after 
spiritual things ; and, as one famished, she longs 
after a variety of exercises of l)iety, mortifica- 
tion, ])enance, humility, charity, and prayer. 
Philotlu'a, it is a sign of good health to have a 
keen appetite ; l)ut you must consider whether 
you can well digest all that you wish to eat. 
Amongst so many desires, choose, then, by the 
advice of your spiritual father, such as you can 
execute at present, and turn them to the best 
ad\ antage afterwards ; Ciod will send you others, 
which you may also ])ractise in their proper sea- 
son ; and thus you will never lose ^^our time in 
uiijti'ofitable desires, but bi-ing them all forth in 
good order; but as to those wliich cannot bo 
imme(liat('ly exccutctl, they should be reserved 
in some corner ol' the heart, till llieir time come. 
This advice 1 not only give to spiritual per'^ooa. 


but also to those of the workl ; for, without at- 
tending to it, we could not live without anxiety 
and confusion. 




^IM-ATRIMONY is a great Sacrament, l)ut I speak 
Wk in Christ, and in the Church," Eph. v. 32, 
It is honorable to all persons, in all persons, and 
in all things, that is, in all its parts. To all per- 
sons, because even virgins ought to honor it 
with humility ; in all persons, because it is eciuall}' 
holy in the rich and poor ; in all things, because 
its origin, its end, its advantages, its form, and 
its matter are all holy. It is the nursery of 
Christianity, which supplies the earth with faithful 
souls, to complete the number of the elect m 
heaven ; in a word, the preservation of marriage 
is of the highest importance to the commonwealth, 
for it is the origin and source of all its streams. 

Would to God that his most beloved Son were 
invited to all marriages, as he was to that of 
Cana ; then the wine of consolations and bene- 
dictions would never be wanting ; for the reason 
why there is commonly a scarcity of it at the 
beginning is, because Adonis is invited instead 
ofJesus Christ, and Venus instead of his blessed 
Mother, lie that would have his lambs fair and 
spotted as Jacob's were, must, like him, set fair 


rods of divers colors before the sheep when they 
meet to couple ; and he that would Ikinc a liappy 
success in marriage ought in his espousals to 
represent to himself the sanctity and dignity of 
this sacrament. But, alas ! instead of this there 
are a thousand disorders committed in diversions, 
feasting, and mnnodest discourse ; it is not sur- 
prising, then, that the success of marriages should 
not correspond. Above ail things, I exhort 
married })eople to that mutual love which the 
Holy Ghost so much recommends in the Scripture. 

you that are my rried ! 1 tell you not to love 
each other with a natural love, for it is thus that 
the turtles love ; nor do I say, love one another 
with a human love, for the heathens do this ; but 

1 say to you, after the great Apostle, "Husbands, 
love your wives, as Chi'ist also loved the Church." 
Eph. V. And you, wives, love your husbands, as 
the Church loveth her Saviour. It was God that 
brought Eve to our first father, Adam, and gave 
her him in marriage ; it is also God, () my friends ! 
who, with his invisible hand, has tied the knot of 
the holy bond of your marriage, and given you t(» 
one another; why do you not, then, cheKish each 
other with a holy, sacred, and divine love? 

The tirst etlect of this love is an indissolublo 
union of your hearts. Two pieces of lir glued 
together, if the glue be good, cleave so fast to 
each other that they can be more easily broken 
in any other ])lMce than that in which they wero 
joined. Hut God joins the hushand to the wife 
with his (>wn blood ; for which cause this union 
is so strong that the soul must sooner separate 


from the body of the one or the other, than the 
husband from the wife. Now, this union is not 
understood principally of the body, but of the 
heart, of the affection, and of the love. 

The second effect of this love ou^ht to be the 
inviolable tidelity of one party to the other. 
Seals were anciently graven u})on rings worn 
on the fingers, as the holy Scripture itself testi- 
fies. Behold, then, the mystery of this ceremony 
in marriage. The Church, which by the hand 
of the })riest blesses a ring, and gives it first to 
the man, testifies that she puts a seal upon his 
heart by this sacrament, to the end that hence- 
forward neither the name nor the love of any 
other woman may enter therein, so long as she 
shall live who has been given to him ; after- 
ward the bridegroom puts the ring on the hand 
of the bride, that she reciprocally may under- 
stand that her heart must never admit an affection 
to any other man, so long as he shall live upon 
earth whom our Lord here gives her for a 

The third fruit of marriage is the lawful pro- 
duction and education of children. It is a OTeat 
honor to you that are married, that God, design- 
ing to multiply souls, which may bless and praise 
him to all eternity, makes you cooperate with 
him in so noble a work, by the production of the 
l)odics, into which he infuses immortal souls, 
like heavenly drops, as he creates them. 

Preserve, then, O hus])ands ! a tender, con- 
stant, and cordial love for your wives ; for the 
woman was taken from that side of the first man 


which was nearest his heart, to the end she 
luiirht be loved by him cordially and tenderly. 
The weaknesses and intirniilies of your wives, 
whether in body or mind, ought never to pro- 
voke you to any kind of disdain, but rather to a 
mild and alfec-tionate compassion ; since (lod has 
created them such, to the end that, dei)cnding 
upon you, you should receive from them more 
honor and respect, and that you shouUl have 
them in such manner for your companions, that 
nevertheless you should be their heads and su- 
])eri()rs. And you, O wives ! love tenderly and 
cordially the husbands whom God has given 
you, but with a respectful love, and full of rev- 
erence ; for therefore did God create them of a 
sex more vigorous and ]iredominant : and was 
pleased to ordain that the woman should de- 
pend upon the man, being bone of his bone, and 
flesh of his flesh, and that she should be made 
of a rib taken from under his arm, to show that 
she ought to be under the hand and guidance 
of her husband. The holy Scrii)ture, Avhich 
strictly recommends to you this subjection, ren- 
ders it also agreeable, not only by ])rcscribing 
that you should accommodate yourselves to it 
with love, but also by connnanding your hus- 
bands to exercise it over you with charity, ten- 
derness, and conii)lacency. "Husbands," says St. 
Peter, "dwell with your wives 'according to 
knowledge, giving honor to the woman as to 
the weaker vessel." 1 Kpist. iii. 7. 

But while I exhort you to advance more and 
more m this nmtual love, which you owe one 


another, beware lest it degenerate into any 
kind of jealousy ; for it often happens, that as 
the worm is bred in the apple which is the most 
delicate and ripe, so jealousy grows in that love 
of married people Avhich is the most ardent and 
affectionate, of which, nevertheless, it spoils and 
corrupts the substance, breeduig, by insensible 
degrees, strifes, dissensions, and divorces. But 
jealousy is never seen Avhere the friendship is 
reciprocally grounded on solid virtue : it is, there- 
fore, an infallible mark that the love is in some 
degree sensual and gross, and has met with a 
virtue imperfect, inconstant, and subject to dis- 
trust. Jealousy is an absurd means of proving 
the sincerity of friendship. It may, indeed, be a 
sign of the greatness of the friendship, but never 
of its goodness, purity, and perfection ; since the 
perfection of friendship presupposes an assur- 
ance of the virtue of those whom we love, and 
jealousy presupposes a dou1)t of it. 

If you desire, O husbands ! that your, wives 
should be faithful to you, give them a lesson by 
your example. " How," says St. Gregory Na- 
zianzen, " can you exact purity of your wives, 
when you yourselves live in impurity? How 
can you require of them that which you give 
them not? Do you wish them to be chaste? 
behave yourselves chastely towards them : and, 
as St. Paul says, * let every man know how to 
possess his vessel in sanctification.' But if, on 
the contrary, you yourselves teach them not t« 
be virtuous, it is not surprising if you arc dis ■ 
graced by their perdition. But you, O wives I 


whose honor is insoparal)ly joined with purity 
and modesty, be zealous to preserve this your 
glory, and suffer no kind of loose ))ehavior to 
tarnish the whiteness of your reputation." Fear 
all kinds of assaults, how small soever they may 
be ; never suti'er any wanton addresses to ap- 
proach you : whoever })resunies to i)raise your 
beauty, or your general l)ehavior, ought to be 
suspected ; for he that ])raises the ware which 
he cannot buy is strongly tempted to steal it, 
but if to your praise he adds the dispraise of 
your husband, he offers you a heinous injury ; 
for it is evident that he not only desires to ruin 
you, but accounts you already half lost, since 
the l)argain is half made with the second mer- 
chant Avhen one is disgusted with the first. 

" Ladies formerly, as well as now, were accus- 
tomed to wear ear-rings of pearl, for the pleasure," 
says Pliny, "which they derive from hearing them 
jingle against each other." But for my part, as 
I know that the great friend of God, Isaac, sent 
ear-rings, as the lirst earnest of his love, to the 
chaste Kebecca, I believe that this mysterious 
ornament signifies that the first ]>:irt which a 
husband should take possession of in his Avife, 
and which his Mife should failhfully keep for him, 
is her ears ; in order that no other language or 
noise should enter there but only the sweet and 
amiable music of chaste and pure words, Avhich 
are the oriental pearls of the gospel ; for Ave nmst 
always ronieml)cr that souls are ])oisoned by the 
ear, as the Ixxly is liy the mouth. 

Love and fidelity joined together always pro- 


duce familiarity and confidence ; and therefore 
the saints have used many reciprocal caresses 
in their marriage ; caresses truly affectionate, 
but pure, tender, and sincere. Thus, Isaac and 
Kebecca, the most chaste married couple of 
antiquity, were seen through a window caress- 
ing one another in such manner that, though 
there was no immodesty, Al)imeiccli was con- 
vinced that they could be no other than man 
and wife. The great St. Lewis, equally rigor- 
ous to his own flesh, and tender in the love of 
his wife, was almost blamed for the al)undance 
of such caresses ; though, indeed, he rather de- 
served praise for being able to bring his martial 
and courageous spirit to stoop to these little du- 
ties so requisite for the preservation of conjugal 
love ; for, although these demonstrations of i)ure 
and free affection oind not the hearts, yet they 
tend to unite them, and serve for an agreeable 
disposition to nuitual conversation. 

St. Monica, being pregnant of the great St. 
Augustine, dedicated him by frequent oblations 
to the Christian religion, and to the service 
and glory of God, as he himself testifies, saying, 
that "he had already tasted the salt of God in 
his mother's womb." This is a great lesson for 
Christian women, to offer up to his divine Maj- 
esty the fruit of their wombs, even before they 
come into the world ; for God, who accepts the 
offerings of an humble and willino; heart, com- 
monly at that time seconds the affections of moth- 
ers ; witness Samuel, St. Thomas of Aquin, St. 
Andrew of Fiesola, and many others The 


Mother of St. BcniMnl, a mother Avorthy of such 
11 son, as soon as her ehiklren were born, took 
them in her arms, and offered them up to Jesus 
(Christ; and, from that moment, she loved thera 
with res[)eet as things consecrated to God and 
(Mitrusled by him to her care. Tliis pious custom 
was so pleasmg to God that her seveu children 
became afterwards eminent for sanctity. But 
when children begin to have the use of reason, 
both their fathers and mothers ought to take 
great care to imi)rint the fear of God in their 
hearts. The devout (jueen Blanche performed 
this duty most fervently with regard to St. 
Lewis, her son. She often said to him, " I would 
much rather, my dear child, see you die before 
my eyes, than see you conunit only one mortal 
sin," This caution remained so deeply engraved 
in his soul that, as he himself related, not one 
day of his life passed in which he did not re- 
meiiiber it, and take all possible care to ol)serve 
it faithfully. Families and g(Miei-ations are, in 
our lauiiuaire, called houses ; and e\'en the lie- 
brews called the fjeneratioiis of chiklreii the 
building up of a house ; for, iii this sense, it is 
said that God built houses for the midwives of 
Egv))t. Now, this is to show that the raising 
of a house, or family, consists not in stoiing up u 
quantity of worldly possessions, hut in the good 
education of children in the fear ot" (Jod, and in 
virtue, in winch no j)ains or lal)or ought to be 
8})ared ; for chihlren are the crown of their par- 
ents. Thus, St. Monica fought with so much 
ervor and constancy agamst the evil iiu Imation 


of her son St. Augustine, that, having followed 
him by sea and land, she made him more hap- 
pily the child of her tears, by the conversion of 
his soul, than he had been of her blood, by the 
generation of his body. 

St. Paul leaves to wives the care of the house- 
hold concerns as their portion, for which reason 
many think with truth that their devotion is more 
profital)le to the family than that of tlie hus1)and, 
who, not residing so among the domestics, cannot 
of consequence so easily frame them to virtue. 
On this consideration Solomon, in his Proverbs, 
makes the happiness of the whole family depend 
on the care and industry of the valiant woman 
whom he describes. 

It is said, in'the book of Genesis, that Isaac, see- 
ing his wife Rebecca barren, prayed to the Lord 
for her ; or, according to the Hebrew, prayed to 
the Lord opposite to her, because the one prayed 
on the one side of the oratory, and the other on 
ihe other ; and the prayer of the husband offered 
in this manner was heard. Such union as this of 
the husband and wife, in holy devotion, is the best 
and most fruitful of all ; and to this they ought 
mutually to encourage and to engage each other. 
There are fruits, as, for example, the quince, 
which, on account of the bitterness of their juice, 
are not agreeal)le unless they are preserved with 
sugar; there are others, which, on account of their 
tenderness, cannot be long kept, unless they are 
preserved in like manner, such as cherries and 
apricots ; thus, wives ought to wish that their hus- 
bands should be preserved with the sugar of devo- 


tion ; for u man without devotion is severe, harsh, 
and rou<>:h. And husbands ouijht to wish that 
their wives should be devout, because without 
devotion a woman is very frail, and lial)le to 
obscure, and })erha[)s to lose, her virtue. St. 
Paul says " that the unbelieving hus])and is sanc- 
tified by the believing wife ; and the unb(^ii('\ ing 
wife is sanctified by the believing husband"; 
because, in this strict alliance of marriage, the one 
may easily draw the other to virtue ; ])ut what a 
blessing is it when the man and wife, being both 
believers, sanctify each other in the true fear of 
God ! 

As to the rest, their muturJ bearing with each 
other ought to be so great that they should never 
be both angry with each other at the samethne, so 
that a dissension or debate be never seen between 
them. Ibices cannot stay in a i)lace where there 
are echoes or rebounding of voices ; nor can the 
Holy Ghost remain in a house in which there are 
reb(^undings of clamor, strife, and contradictions. 
St. Gregor-y Nazianzen tells us, that in his time 
married ])eople made; a feast on the anniversary 
day of their wedding. For my part, I should 
approve of the reviving of this custom, provided it 
■were not attended with i)reparations of worldly 
and sensual recreations ; but that the husband and 
wife should confess and connnunicate on that day, 
and reconunend to God, "with a more than ordinary 
fervor, the ha[)py progress of their marriage ; 
T-encnving their good pur{)oses to sanctify it still 
more and more by mutual love and lidelitv. and 
recovering l)r(!ath, as it were, in our Lord, in 


order to support with more ease the burdens of 
their calling. 



Ifl^HE marriage bed ought to be un defiled, as 
<^ the Apostle says, Heb. xiii. 5 ; that is to 
say, exempt from uncleamiess and all profane 
filthiness. Holy marriage was first instituted in 
the earthly paradise, where, as yet, there nevei 
had been any disorder of concupiscence, or of any- 
thing immodest. There is some resemblance 
between lustful pleasures and those that are taken 
in eating, for both of them have relation to the 
flesh, though the former, by reason of their brutal 
vehemence, are called simply carnal. I will, then, 
explain that which I cannot say of the one by that 
which I shall say of the other. 

1. Eating is ordained for our preservation : as, 
then, eating, merely to nourish and preserve health, 
is a good, holy, and necessary thing; so, that 
which is requisite in marriage for bringing children 
into the world and multiplying mankind is a good 
thing and very holy, as it is the principal end of 

2. As to eat, not for the preservation of life, 
but to keep u]) that mutual intercourse and con- 
descension which we owe to each other, is a thing 
in itself both lawful and just : so the mutual and 


lawful condescension of the parties united in holy 
marriage is called by St. Paul a debt of so 
obligatory a nature that he allows neither of the 
parties exoniption from it, without the voluntary 
consent of tht; other, not even t\)r the exercises of 
devotion, as I have already ol)served in the chap- 
ter on Holy Connnunion, j). 1 12. How much less, 
then, may either party be dispensed from it through 
a ca})ricious pretence of virtue, or through anger 
or disdain ? 

3. As they that eat to maintain a mutual inter- 
course of fri(!ndsliip with others ought to eat freely, 
and endeavor to show an appetite to their meat ; 
so the marriage delit should always be paid as 
faithfully and freely as if it were in hopes of hav- 
inir children, althouiih on some occasions there 
might be no such expectation. 

4. To eat for neither of these reasons, but 
merely to satisfy the appetite, may, indeed, be 
tolerated, but caimot be commended ; for the mere 
pleasure of the sensual appetite cannot l)e a sufB- 
cient object to render an action commendable. To 
eat not merely for the gratitication of the appetite, 
l)ut also with excess and irreguhirity, is a thing 
more or less blamable as the excess is more or less 

5. Now, excess in eating consists not only in 
eating too much, but also in the time and manner 
of eating. It is surprising, dear ]'liilothea, that 
honey, whicli is so ])r()per and wholesome a food 
for bees, may, nevertheless, become so Inu'tful to 
them as sometimes to make IIkmu sick: for in 
the spring, when they eat too nmch of it, being 


overcharged with it in the forepart of their head 
and wings, they become sick, and frequently die. 
In like manner, nuptial commerce, which is so 
holy, just, and commendable in itself, and so 
profitable to the commonwealth, is, nevertheless, in 
certain cases dangerous to those that exercise it ; 
for it frequently debilitates the soul with venial 
sin, as in cases of mere and simple excesp ; and 
sometimes it kills it effectually l)y mortal sii?, as 
when the order appointed for the procreation ^t. 
children is violated and perverted ; in which case 
according as one departs more or less from it, the 
sins are more or less abominable, but always 
mortal : for the procreation of children being the 
principal end of marriage one may never lawfully 
depart from the order which that end requires ; 
though, on account of some accident or circum- 
stance, it cannot at that time be brought about, as 
it happens when barrenness, or pregnancy, pre- 
vents generation. In these occurrences corporal 
commerce may still be just and holy, provided the 
rules of generation be followed : no accident what- 
soever l)eing able to prejudice the law which the 
principal end of marriage has imposed. Certainly 
the infamous and the execrable action of Onan in 
his marriage was detestable in the sight of God, 
as the holy text of the 38th chapter of Genesis 
testifies : for although certain heretics of our days, 
much more ])lamable than the Cynics, of whom St. 
Jerome speaks in his commentary on the Ejiistle 
to the Ephesians, have been pleased to say it was 
the perverse intention only of that wicked man 
which displeased God, the Scripture positively 


asserts tlio contrary, and assures us that the act 
itself \vliic'h he connnittcd was detestable and 
al)()iuinnl)l(^ in the sii:lit of God. 

It is a cortain niaik of a l)aso and abject spirit 
to think of eating before meal time, and, still more, 
to anuise ourselves afterwards with the })leasure 
which we took in eating, keeping it alive in our 
woi'ds and imagination, and delighting in die rec- 
ollection of the sensual satisfaction we had in 
swallowing: down those morsels ; as men do who 
before dinner have their minds fixed on the spit, 
and after dinner on the dishes ; men worthy to be 
"scullions" of a kitchen, " who," as St. Paul says, 
"make a god of their belly." Persons of honor 
.lever think of eatinjj: but at sitting down at table, 
and after dinner wash their hands and their mouth, 
that they may neither retain the taste nor the 
scent of what they have been eating. The ele- 
phant, although a gross beast, is yet the most 
decent and most sensible of any other ujion earth. 
I will give you a specimen of his chastity : although 
he never changes his female, and hath so tender a 
love for her whom he hath chosen, yet he n(>ver 
couples with her i)ut at the end of every three 
years, and then only for the sjiace of five days, 
but so privately that he is never seen in the act. 
On the sixth day afterwards, when he makes his 
a))pearance, the first thing he does is to goilirectly 
to seme river, wluu'c he washes his body entirely, 
being unwilling to return to the herd till be n 
quite [)uritied. May not these modest dispositions 
in sucn an animal serve as lessons to married 
people, not to keep their alfections engaged ia 


those sensual and carnal pleasures wliicli, accord- 
ing to their vocation, they have exercised; but 
when they are past to wash their heart and affec 
tion, and purify themselves from them as soon a? 
possible, that afterwards, with freedom of mind, 
they may practise other actions more pm^e and 
elevated. In liis advice consists the perfect prac- 
tice of that excellent doctrine of St. Paul to the 
Corinthians. ''The time is short," said he; "it 
remaineth that they who have wives be as though 
they have none." For, according to St. Gregory, 
that man has a wife as if he had none, who takes 
corporal satisfaction vnth her in such a manner as 
not to be diverted from spiritual exercises. Now, 
what is said of the husband is understood recipro- 
cally of the wife. " Let those that use the world," 
says the same apostle, " be as though they used it 
not." Let every one, then, use this world accord- 
ing to his calling, but in such manner that, not 
engaging his affection in it, he may be as free and 
ready to serve God as if he used it not. " It is the 
great evil of man," says St. Austin, " to desire to 
enjoy the things which he should only use." We 
should enjoy spiritual tilings, and only use corporal, 
of which when the use is turned into enjoyment, 
our rational soul is also changed into a brutish and 
beastly soul. I think I have said all that I would 
say to make myself understood, without saying 
that which I would not say. 




tAIXT PAUL instructs all ])rclat('s in tlio jxTson 
i^' ot" Timothy, saying, "Honor witlow.s that are 
widows indeed." 1 Tim. v. 3. Now, to be a widow 
indeed, the followini:: conditions are required : — 
1. That the 'widow he not only a widow in 
hody, hut in heart, also; that is, that she ])ut on 
an invioiahh; resolution to keep herself in the state 
of a chast(^ widowhood ; for those that are Avidows 
Didy till ail oi)i)ortunity presents its(df of heing 
married again arc only separate from inni as to 
the ])leasure.s of the body, l>iit are already joined 
to them according to the will of the heart. ])Ut, 
if she that is a wMdow indeed, in order to coiitirin 
herself in the state of widowhood, will oiler her 
l)ody and her chastity by vow to God, she will add 
a great ornament to her widowhood, and give a 
great security to her resolution. For since, after 
her vow, she lias it no longer in her ])ower to quit 
her cljastity without quitting her title to heaven, 
she will be so jealous of her design that she will 
not sull'er so much as tlu* least thought of marnago 
lo occu])y her heart for a single mouienl ; so that 
this sacred vow will serve as a strong barrier be- 
tween her soul and every project contrary to her 
lesolution. St. Augustine advises this vow very 
Bti'enuously to the Christian widow ; and the ancieni 
and learned Urigeii goes nmch further, for ho ex- 


horts married women to vow and dedicate them- 
selves to a chaste widowhood, in case their husband 
should die before them ; in order that, amidst the 
sensual pleasures of marriai^e, they may also, by 
means of this anticipated i)romise, enjoy the merit 
of a chaste widowhood. A vow not only makes 
the good works done in consequence of it more 
acceptable to God, but also encourages us to put 
them in execution ; it gives to God not only the 
good works, which are the fruits of our good will, 
but dedicates likewise to him the wall itself, which 
is the tree of all our actions. By simple chastity 
we lend, as it were, our body to God, retaining 
notwithstanding a liberty to subject it another day 
to sensual pleasure ; but by the vow of chastity 
we make him an absolute and irrevocable gift of 
our body, without reserving to ourselves any power 
Df recalling it, and thus happily render ourselves 
slaves to him whose service is better than any 
kingdom. Now, as I highly approve the advice of 
these two great men, sol should wish tlitit those souls 
which are so happy as to desire to follow it should 
do it prudently, piously, and solidly, having first 
well examined their resolutions, invoked the liijlit 
and grace of heaven, and taken the counsel of some 
wise and devout director* by this means all will 
be done with more fruit. 

2. ^Moreover, this renunciation of a second mar- 
riage must be made purely with the intention of 
turning all the allections of the soul towards God^ 
and of uniting the heart entirely with that of hia 
divine Majesty ; for if the desire to leave her chil- 
dren rich, or any other worldly pretension, should 


keep the widow in lier state of widowliood, she 
may perliaps liave praise for it, l)iit certainly not 
before God ; for in tlie eyes of God nothing can 
trnly merit praise but that wliich is done for his 

3. jNIoreover, the widow, that would be a widow 
indeed, must voluntarily se[)arate and restrain her- 
self from [)rofane satisfaction -, " for she that liveth 
in ])U'asiires is dead while she is living," says St. 
Paul, 1 Tim. v. 6. To desire to be a widow, and 
to be, ne\'ertheless, j)leased with being courted, 
flattered, and caressed ; to be fond of balls, danc- 
ing, and feasting ; to be perfumed, tinel\' dressed, 
etc., is to be a widow, living as to the body, but 
dead as to tlic soul. AVhat doth it signify, I pray 
you, whether the sign of the inn of Adonis, or ol 
profane love, consist of white feathers, in the form 
of a plume, or of black crape, spread like a net 
around the face? Yea, the black is often put 
o\er the white to make it look more conspicuous} 
and favorable to vanity ; for the widow lia\ ing 
made a trial of that fashion l)y which women can 
please men best casts the most dangerous baits 
before their minds. The widow, then, who lives in 
these fond delights is dead while she lives, and 
therefore, jjroperly speaking, she is but an idol of 

" The time of pruning is come ; the voice of the 
turtle is heard in our land," says the canticle. 
All that Avould live devoutly must i)rune and cut 
away all worldly suix-rlluitics. liut this is more 
particularly necessary for the true widow, who, like 
a chaste turtle, comes from weeping, bewailing, 


and lamenting the loss of her husband. When 
Noemi returned from Moab to Bethlehem, the 
women of the town, who had known her when she 
was first married, said one to another, "Is not that 
Noemi?" Ruth i. 20. But she answered, "Call 
me not Noemi, I pray you, for Noemi signifies 
comely and beautiful ; but call me Mara, for the 
Lord has tilled my soul with bitterness " ; this she 
said because she had lost her husband. Thus the 
devout widow never desires to be esteemed either 
beautiful or comely, contenting herself with being 
such as God desires her to be, that is to say, hum- 
ble and al)ject in her own eyes. 

Lamps in which aromatic oil is burnt emit a 
more sweet odor when their flame is extinguished ; 
so widows whose love has been pure in their mar- 
riage send forth a more sweet perfume of virtue 
and chastity when their light, that is, their 
husband, is extinguished by death. To love the 
husband as long as he lives is an ordinary thing 
amongst women ; Ijut to love him so well that after 
his death she will hear of no other is a degree of 
love which appertains only to them that are 
widows indeed. To hope in God whilst the 
husband serves for a support is by no means 
unusual ; but to hope in God when one is destitute 
of this support is worthy of great praise. Hence 
it is easy to know, in widowhood, the perfection 
of the virtues which a woman possessed during 
the life of her husliand. 

The widow who has children who stand in need 
of her guidance and support, principally in their 
spirituiii concerns and their establishments in life, 


ought not by any means to abandon them ; for the 
apostle St. Paul ttays clearly that they are obliged 
to that care of their children to make the like 
return to their parents. 1 Tim. iil. And that 
they 'who have no solicitude for those that belong 
to them, and especially for their own faniil}^ are 
worse than infidels. But if the children be in such 
a state as to stand in no need of her guidance, then 
should the widow collect all her affections and 
thouirhts, to aj)i)ly them more purely to her own 
advancement in the love of God. 

If some absolute necessity oblige not the con- 
science of the true wddow to external troubles, 
such as suits in law, I counsel her to avoid them 
alto^i^ether, and to follow that method in manaij- 
ing her affairs which appears the most peaceabU 
and quiet, although it may not seem the most 
advantageous. For the advantages to be reaped 
from worldly troubles nmst be very great to bear 
any comparison with the happiness of a holy tran- 
quillity. Moreover, disputes and lawsuits distract 
the heart and often open a gate to the enemies of 
chastity, because the parties, in order to ph'ase 
those M'hose favor they stand in need of, do 
not hesitate to render themselves d is}) leasing to 

Let prayer be the widow's continual exercise ; 
for as she ought now to love none but God, so 
she ought to s))eMk to scarcely any but God. For 
as the iron, which, l)ythe j)rescnce of the diamond, 
is hindered from following the attraction of tho 
loadstone, springs towards it as soon as the 
diamond is removed ; so the heart of the witlow, 


«vhicli could not well give itself up so entirely to 
God, nor follow the attractions of his divine love, 
during the life of her husband, ought immediately 
after his death to run ardently after the sweet 
odor of the heavenly perfumes, as if she said, in 
imitation of the heavenly Spouse : " O Lord ! now 
that I am all my own, receive me that I may be 
all thine ; draw me ; we will run after thee to 
the odor of thy ointments." 

The virtues proper for the exercise of a holy 
widow are perfect modesty, a renunciation of 
honors, ranks, assemblies, titles, and of all such 
varieties ; serving the poor and the sick, comfort- 
ing the afflicted, instructing girls in a devout life, 
and making themselves a perfect pattern of all 
virtues to young women : cleanliness and simplic- 
ity should be the ornaments of their dress ; humil- 
ity and charity the ornaments of their actions ; 
courtesy and mildness the ornaments of their 
speech ; modesty and purity the ornaments of their 
eyes ; and Jesus Christ crucified the only h vo of 
then* heart. In fine, the true widow is in the 
church a little violet of March, which sends forth 
an incomparable sweetness by the odor of her 
devotion, and almost always keeps herself con- 
cealed under the broad leaves of her abjection, 
since, by the obscurity of her attire, she testifies 
her mortification. She grows in cool and unculti- 
vated places, not willing to be importuned with 
the conversation of worldlings, the better to pre- 
serve the coolness of her heart against all the heats 
which the desire of riches, of honors, or even of 
fond love, might bring upon her. " She shall be 


blessed," says the holy apostle, " if she continue 
in this manner." 1 Cor. vii. 8. 

I could say much more upon this subject ; l)ut 
it Avill suflice to advise the widow who is solicitoug 
for the honor of her condition to read attentively 
the excellent epistles which tlie great 8t. Jerome 
wrote to Furia, Salvia, and all those other ladies 
who were so happy as to be the spiritual children 
of so great a father. Nothing can be added to his 
instructions except this admonition : that the true 
widow ought never to blame nor censure those 
who pass to a second, or even a third or a fourth 
marriage ; for in some cases God so disposes of 
them for his greater glory ; and that she must 
always have before her eyes this doctrine of the 
ancients, that neither widowhood nor virginity 
nave any other jjjace or rank in heaven but that 
which is assigned to them by humility. 



I VIRGINS ! I have only three words to say to 
^^^ you, for the rest you will lind elsewhere. If 
you pretend to a temporal marriage, be careful to 
keep your first love for your first husband. In my 
/)pini()n it is a great deceit to present, instead of 
an entire and sincere heart, a heart quite worn out, 
Bjjoiled and tired with love. But if you have the 


happiness to be called to the pure and virginal 
espousals of Christ, and you desire to preserve for- 
ever your virp;inity, O God ! keep your love with 
all possible diligence for this divine Spouse, who, 
being puriiy itself, loves nothing so much as purity, 
and to whom are due the first fruits of all things^ 
luit principally those of our love. St. Jerome's 
epistles will furnish you with all advices necessary 
for you ; and, as your condition obliges you to 
obedience, choose a guide under whose direction 
you may dedicate, in a more holy manner, your 
heart and body to his divine Majesty. 

Part jFourtfj. 




^S soon as the children of this world perceive 
that 3'ou desire to follow a devout life they 
will discharge arrows of mockery and detractiop 
against you without number. The most mali- 
cious will attribute your change to hypocrisy, 
bigotry, and artifice. They will say that, being 
frowned upon and rejected by the world, you tly 
for refuge to God. Your friends will make a 
thousand remonstrances, which they imagine to 
be very wise and (•harital)le. They will tell you 
that you Avill fall inlo some melancholy humor; 
that you will lose your credit in the world, and 
make yourself insupportable ; you Avill grow old 
])elbre your time; your domestic all'airs will 
sutler; vou nmst live in the world like one in 
the world ; salvation may be had w'thout so 
many mysteries ; and a thousand similar imper- 

Dear Philothca ! what is all this but foolish 
and empty bal>bjing? These people are not in- 


terested in your health or affairs. "If you had 
been of the world," says our blessed Saviour, "the 
world would love its own ; but because you are 
not of the world, therefore the world hateth you." 
St. John XV. 19. We have seen gentlemen 
and ladies pass the whole night, nay, many nights, 
together at chess or cards ; and can there be any 
attention more absurd, stupid, or gloomy, than 
that of gamesters? And yet worldlings say not 
a word, nor do friends ever trouble themselves 
about them; but should they spend an hour in 
meditation, or rise in the morning a little earlier 
than ordinary to prepare themselves for com- 
munion, every one would run to the physician 
to cure them of hypochondriacal humors and 
vapors. These persons can pass thirty nights 
in dancing without experiencing any inconven« 
ience; but for watching only one Christmas 
night every one coughs, and complains that he 
is sick the next morning. Who sees not that 
the world is an unjust judge, gracious and favor- 
able to its own children, but harsh and rigorous 
towards the children of God? 

We can never please the world unless we lose 
ourselves together with the world; it is so whim- 
sical that it is impossible to satisfy it. "John 
came neither eating nor drinking," says our Sav- 
iour, "and you say he hath a devil. The Son of 
Man is come eating and drinking, and you say: 
Behold a man that is a glutton, and a drinker of 
wine." St. Luke vii. 33. It is true, Phil- 
othea, that if, through condescension, we consent 
to laufjh, play, or dance with the world, the 


world will be scandalized at us ; and if we do not 
it Avill accuse us of hypocrisy or melancholy. If 
we dress gayly, the world will say that we do so 
for some evil end ; if Ave neglect our dress, it will 
impute it either to meanness or avarice. Our 
mirth will l)e termed dissoluteness, and our mor- 
tiHcation sullenness ; and as the world thus looks 
upon us with an evil eye, we can never be agree- 
able to it. It aggravates our imperfections, pub- 
lishing them as sins ; it makes our venial sins 
mortal, and our frailties sins of malice. Charity 
is benevolent and kind, says St. Paul, but the 
world is malicious ; charity thinks no evil, 
whereas, the world, on the contrary, always 
thinks evil, and when it cannot condemn our 
actions it will accuse our intentions. So that 
whether the sheep have horns or not, whether 
they be white or black, the wolf will not hesitate 
to devour them, if he can. 

AVhatever we do, the world will wage war 
against us. If we remain long at confession, 
it will wonder how we can have so much to say ; 
if we stay but a short time, it will say, we 
have not confessed all our sins. It will oi)serve 
all our motions, and for one word of anger that 
we utter it will protest that our temper is in- 
supportable ; the care of our affairs will be called • 
covetousness, and our meekness, folly. But as 
for the children of the world, tluMr anger is called 
ffenerosity; their avarice, economy; their famil- 
jarities, honoi-able entertainments : spiders always 
3j)oil the work of the bees. 

Let us turn u deaf car to fhls blind world. 


Philothea ; let it cry as long as it pleases, like an 
owl, to disturb the birds of the day. Let us b& 
constant in our designs, and invariable in our 
resolutions. Our perseverance will demonstrate 
whether we have, in good earnest, sacrificed our- 
selves to God and dedicated ourselves to a devout 
life. Comets and pkmets appear to be almost of 
an equal light ; but as comets are only certain 
fiery exhalations which pass away, and after a short 
time disap]:)ear, whereas planets remain in perpet- 
ual brightness ; so hypocrisy and true virtue have 
a great reseml^lance in their external appearance, 
but they are easily distinguished from each other ; 
because hypocrisy cannot long subsist, but la 
quickly dissipated like smoke, whereas true virtue 
is always firm and constant. 

It contributes highly to the security of devotion, 
at the beginning, to suffer reproaches and calumny 
on its account, since we thus avoid the dangers of 
pride and vanity, which may be compared to the 
midwives of Egypt, who had been ordered by the 
cruel Pharaoh to kill the male children of the 
Israelites on the very day of their birth. As we 
are crucified to the world, the world ought to be 
crucified to us ; since w^orldlings look upon us a«s 
foolish, let us regard them in the same light. 




PLIGHT, though it be l)eautiful and lovely to 
■AA' our eyes, nevertheless dazzles them after we 
have been long in the dark, lietbre we become 
familiar with the inha])itants of any country, no 
matter how courteous and gracious they may l)e, 
we liiid ourselves at a loss amongst them. It may 
probably happen, Philothea, that this general 
farewell, which you have bid to the follies and 
vanities of the world, may make some inij)rcssions 
of sadness and discouragement on your mind. If 
this should be the case, have a little patience, I 
pray, for these impressions will soon disappear. 
It is but a little strangeness, occasioned by 
novelty ; when it shall have ])assed away you will 
feel ten thousand consolations. 

It may perhaps be painful to you at first to 
renounce that praise which your vanities extorted 
from foolish worldlings ; but would you. for the 
sake of this insignificant reward, forfeit that eternal 
illorv with which (iod will assuredly recomi)ense 
you? The vain annisemenls, in which you have 
hitherto employed your time, will again re})resent 
themselves to allure your heart, and invite it to 
return to them ; but can you resolve to renounce 
eternal hapi)iness for such deceitful fooleries? 
Jii-licve me, if you i)ersevere, you will quickly 
receive consolations, so delicious and agreeable 


that they will force you to acknowledge that the 
world has nothing but gall in comparison of this 
honey, and that one day of devotion is preferable 
to a thousand years expended in all the pleasures 
that the world can afford. 

But you see the mountain of Christian perfection 
is exceedingly high. O my God ! you say, how 
shall I be able to ascend? Courage, Philothea ! 
When the young bees begin to assume their form 
we call them nymphs ; as yet they are unal)le to 
fly to the flowers, the mountains, or the neighbor- 
ing hills, to gather honey ; but, by continuing to 
^eed on the honey which the old ones have pre- 
pared, their wings appear, and they acquire suffi- 
cient strength to fly and seek their food all over 
the country. It is true we are as yet l)ut nymphs, 
or little bees, in devotion, and consequently unable 
to fly so high as to reach the top of Christian per- 
fection ; but yet, as our desires and resolutions 
beo'in to assume a form, and our wings be^in to 
grow, we may reasonal)ly hope that we shall one 
day become spiritual bees, and be able to fly ; in 
the meantime let us feed upon the honey of 
the many i»;ood instructions which other devout 
persons have left us, and pray to God to give us 
wrings like a dove, that we may not only be 
enabled to fly up, during the time of this present 
life, l)ut also rest on the mountain of eternity in 
the life to come. 




^'MAGIXE to yourself, Pliilotliea, a younir prin- 
^ cess, extremely Ijcloved by her spouse, and that 
sonic wicked man, in order to deiile her marriage 
bed, sends an infamous messenger to treat with 
her concernmg his abominable desiirn. First, the 
messenger proposes the intiMition of his master; 
setondhj, the })rincess is pleased or displeased with 
the proposition ; thlrdhj, she either consents or 
refuses. In the same manner, Satan, the world, 
and the ilesh, seeing a soul espoused to the Son of 
God, send her temptations and sugirestions, by 
which, 1. Sin is projjosed to her; 2. She is 
either pleased or dis})leased with the i)roposal ; 3. 
In tine, she either consents or refuses. Such are 
the three steps to ascend to iniipiity : temptation, 
delectativin, and consent. But though thes(; three 
actions are not so manifest in all kinds of sins, yet 
are they })alpal)ly seen in those that are enormous. 
Though the temptation to any sin whatsoever 
should last during lite it could never render us 
disagreeable to the divine Majesty, provided that 
we were not pleased with it, and did not give our 
consent to it ; the reason is, because we do not act, 
but suffer in temptation ; and as in this avc take 
no ])leasure, so we caimot incur any guilt. St. 
Paul suflered a long time the temptations of the 


flesh, and yet was so far from being displeasing to 
God on that account, that, on the contrary, God 
was glorified by his patient suffering. The 
blessed Angela de Fulgina suffered such cruel 
temptations of the flesh that she moves to com- 
passion when she relates them. St. Francis and 
St. Bennet also suffered such violent temptations 
that, in order to overcome them, the one was 
obliged to cast himself naked on thorns, and the 
other into snow ; 3'et they lost nothing of God's 
favor, but increased very much in grace. 

You must, then, be courageous, Philothea, 
amidst temptations, and never think yourself over- 
come as long as they displease 3'ou, observing 
well this difference between feeling and consent- 
ing, VIZ., we may feel temptations, though they 
displease us ; but we can never consent to them 
unless they please us, since to be pleased with 
them ordinarily serves as a step towards our con- 
sent. Let, then, the enemies of our salvation lay 
as many baits and allurements in our way as they 
please, let them stay always at the door of our 
heart in order to gain admittance, let them make 
as many proposals as they can ; still, as long as we 
remain steadfast in our resolution to take no pleas- 
ure in the temptation, it is utterly i iiposnible that 
we shoukl offend God, any more than th^ prince 
of whom I spoke could be displeased with his 
spouse for the infamous message sent to her, if she 
took no pleasure whatever in it. Yet, in this case, 
there is this difference between her and the soul, 
that the princess, having heard of the wicked prop- 
osition, may, if she please, drive away the mes- 


senger, and never suffer him to appear again ih 
her i)re.sence ; but it is not always in the power 
of the soul not to feel the temptation, though it be 
always in her ])()wer not to consent to it; and, 
therefore, no matter how long the temptation may 
last, it eannot hurt us as long as it is disagreeable 
to us. 

But, witli respect to the delectation which njay 
follow the temptation, it nuist l)e observed that, 
as there are two parts in the soul, the inferior and 
the superior, and that the inferior does not always 
follow the superior, but acts for itself apart, it 
fr(M|ucntly hapj^ens that the inferior part takes 
delight in the temi)tation without the consent, nay, 
against the will of the superior. That is that war 
fare which the Apostle describes. Gal. v. 17, when 
he says that the tiesh lusts against the spirit, and 
that there is a law of the members and a law of the 

Have you never seen, Philothea, a large lire- 
covered with ashes? Should one come ten or 
twelve hours after, in search of fire, he would find 
but little in the midst of tiie hearth, and even that 
would be found with dilliculty ; yet there it is, 
^ince there it is found, and with it he may kindle 
again the remainder of the coals that were dead. 
It is just so with charity, our s])iritual life, in the 
midst of violent t(Mni)tations ; for the temptation, 
castinir the delectation which accompanies it into 
the inferior part, covers the whole soul, as it were, 
with ashes, and reduces the love of God into a 
narrow compass ; for it apjicars nowhere but in the 
midst of the heart, in the interior of the soul : and 


even there it scarcely seems perceptible, and with 
much difficulty we find it ; yet there it is in reality, 
since, notwithstanding all the trouble and disorder 
we feel in our soul and our body, we still retain a 
resolution never to consent to the temptation ; and 
the delectation, which pleases the outward man, 
displeases the inward, so that, although it sur- 
rounds the will, yet it is not within it ; by which 
we see that such delectation, being contrary to the 
wiO. can b<i no sin. 



^S it is so important that you should understand 
^ this matter perfectly, I will explain it more at 
large. A young man, as St. Jerome relates, being 
fastened down with bands of silk on a delicate, 
soft bed, was enticed by all sorts of filthy allure- 
ments by a lascivious woman, who was employed 
by the persecutors on purpose to stagger his con- 
stancy. Ah, must not his chaste soul have felt 
strange disorders ? Must not his senses have been 
seized Avith delectation, and his imagination occu- 
pied by the presence of those voluptuous objects ? 
Undoubtedly ; yet among so many conflicts, in the 
midst of so terrible a storm of temptations, and 
Ihe many lustful pleasures that surrounded him, he 
mfficiently testified that his heart was not van- 


quishcd, and that his will gave no consent. Per- 
ceiving so general a rebellion against his will, and 
having now no })art of his l)()dy at command 
but his tongue, he bit it oil' and spit it in the face 
of that filthy woman, who tormented his soul more 
cruelly by her lust than all the executioners could 
ever have done by the greatest torments ; for the 
tyrant, despairing to conquer him by sutlering, 
thought to overcome liiin by these i)leasures. 

The history of the conflict of St. Catharine of 
Sienna, on the like occasion, is very admirable. 
The wicked s})irit had permission from (lod to as- 
sault the purity of this holy virgin w itli the great- 
est fury, yet so as not to be allowed to touch her. 
lie presented, then, all kinds of im])ure suggestions 
to her heart ; and, to move her the more, coming 
with his com})ani()ns in form of men and women, he 
connnittedatb Dusand acts immodest in her presence 
adding most filthy words and invitations ; and, al. 
though all these things wore exterior, nevertheless, 
l)y means of the senses, tlu^y penetrated deep into 
the heart of the virgin, which, as she herself con- 
fessed, was even brimful of them ; so that nothing 
remained in her excei)t the pure, sui)erior will, 
which was not shaken willi this tempest of fillhy 
carnal delectation. This tem})tati(>n conlinued for 
a longtime, till one day our Saviour, appearing to 
her, she said to him : " Where wertthou, my sweet 
Saviour, when my heart was full of so great dark- 
ness and micleamiess ? " To whidi he answered : " I 
was within thy heart, my daughter." — "Ihit how," 
replied she, " could you dwell in my heart, where 
there was so much impurity? Is it possible that 


thou couldst dwell in so unclean a place ? " To 
which our Lord replied : " Tell me, did these filthy 
thoughts of thy heart give thee pleasure or sad- 
ness, bitterness or delight?" — "The most extreme 
bitterness and sadness," said she. " Who was it, 
then," replied our Saviour, "that caused this great 
bitterness and sadness in thy heart but I, who re- 
mained concealed in the interior of thy soul ? Be- 
lieve me, daughter, had it not been for my pres- 
ence these thoughts which surrounded thy will 
would have doubtless entered in, and with pleas- 
ure would have brought death to thy soul ; but, 
being present, I infused this displeasu* 3 into thy 
heart, which enabled thee to reject the temptation 
as much as it could ; Ijut, not ])eing able to do it as 
much as it desired, it conceived a greater displeas- 
ure and hatred 1)oth against the temptation and thy- 
self; and thus these troubles have proved occa- 
sions of great merit to thee, and have served to 
increase thy strength and virtue." 

Behold, Philothea, how this fire w^as covered 
with ashes, and how the temptation had even 
entered the heart, and surrounded the will Avhich, 
assisted by our Saviour, held out to the last, 
making resistance ])y her aversion, displeasure, 
and detestation of the evil suggested, and con- 
stantly refusing her consent to the sin which be- 
sieged her on every side. Good God ! how 
distressins: must it be to a soul that loves God not 
to know whether he l)e within her or not, or 
whether the divine love, for which she fights, be 
altogether extinguished in her or not ! But it is 
the perfection of heavenly love to make the lover 


suffer and fight for love, not knowing whether he 
possesses that love for which, and by which, he 



|W1HESE violent assaults and extraordinary 
'^ temptations, Philothca are permitted by 
God against those souls only whom he desirej? 
to elevate to the highest degree of divine love; 
yet it does not follow that they shall afterwards 
attain it ; for it has often happened that those 
who have been constant under these assaults 
have, for want of faithfully corresponding with 
the divine favor, been afterwards overcome by 
very small tcmi)tations. This I tell you, that, if 
you should hapi)cn hereafter to be assaulted by 
great temptations, you may know that God con- 
fers an extraordinary favor on you when he 
thus declares his will to make you great in his 
sight ; and that, nevertheless, you must be always 
humble and fearful, not assuring yourself that 
you shall be able to overcome small temptations, 
after you have prevailed against great ones, by 
any other means than a constant fidelity to his 
divine Majesty. 

Whatever temptations, then, may hereafter be- 
fall you, or with whatever delectation they may 
be accompanied, so long as your will refuses her 


consent, not only to the temptation, but also to 
the delectation, give not yourself the least 
trouble, for God is not offended. As, when a 
man is so far gone in a fit as to show no sign of 
life, they lay their hand on his heart, and from 
the least palpitation they feel conclude that he 
is alive, and that l)y the application of some re- 
storative he may again recover his strength and 
senses ; so it sometimes happens that, through 
the violence of a temptation, our soul seems to 
have fallen into a fit, so as to have no longer anj 
spiritual life or motion ; l)ut, if we desire to know 
how it is with her, let us lay our hand upon our 
heart, and consider whether our will still retains 
its spiritual motion, that is to say, whether it has 
done its duty in refusing to consent and to yield 
to the temptation and delectation ; for, so long as 
this motion of refusal remains, we may rest as- 
sured that charity, the life of our soul, remains in 
us, and that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, although 
concealed, is there present ; so that by means of 
the continued exercise of prayer, the sacraments, 
and a confidence in God, we shall again return tc 
a strong, sound, and healthful spiritual life. 




|WTHE i)rinccss, of Avhom we spoke before, could 
'^ not i)rcvcnt the dishonoral)le proposal which 
was made to her, because, as was ])rcsupposed, it 
was made agahist her will ; but had she, on the 
contrary, given it the least encouragoniont, or 
betrayed a willingness to give her aifection to 
him that courted her, doubtless she Avould then 
have ])een guilty in the sight of God, and, how- 
ever she might dissemble it, would certainly de- 
serve both blame and ]iunishment. Thus it 
sometimes happens that the temptation alone 
involves us in sin, because we ourselves are the 
cause of it. For example, I know that when I 
play, I fall easily into violent passions and blas- 
phemy, and that gaming serves me as a tempta- 
tion to those sins; I sin, therefore, as often as 1 
play, and I am accountable for all the temptations 
which shall l)efall me. In like manner, if I know 
that certain conversations will exjiose me to the 
danger of falling into sin, and yet willingly ex- 
pose myself to them, I am doul)tless guilty of 
all the temptations I may meet with on such 

When the delectation which proceeds from the 
temptation can be avoided, it is always a greater 
or less sin to admit it, in })n>j)ortion as the 
pleasure wo take, or the consent we give to 


it, is of a longer or shorter duration. The young 
princess before aUuded to would be highly blani' 
able, if, alter having heard the tihhy proposal, 
she should take pleasure in it, and entertain her 
heart with satisfaction on so improper a subject : 
for, although she does not consent to the real exe- 
cution of what is proposed to her, she consents, 
nevertheless, to the spiritual application of her 
heart to the evil, by the pleasure she takes 
in it, because it is always criminal to apply 
either the heait or the body to anything that is 
immodest ; but the sin depends so much on the 
consent of the heart, that without it even the ap- 
plication of the body could not be a sin. 

Wherefore, whenever you are tempted to any 
sin, consider whether you have not voluntarily 
given occasion to the temptation ; for then the 
temptation itself puts you in a state of sin, on 
account of the danger to which you have exposed 
yourself; this is to be understood when you co'dd 
conveniently have avoided the occasion, and fore- 
saw, or ought to have foreseen, the approach of 
the temptation ; but, if you have given no occasion 
to the temptation, it cannot by any means be im- 
puted to you as a sin. 

When the delectation which follows tempta- 
tion might have been avoided, and yet has not, 
there is always some kind of sin, more or less 
considerable, according to the time you have dwelt 
upon it, or the pleasure you have taken in it. A 
woman who has given no occasion to her being 
courted, and yet takes pleasure therein, is, never- 
theless, to be blamed, if the pleasure which she 


takes originate in no other cause than the court 
ship. But, tor example, if the irallant wlio sues foi 
]()vc should ])lay (^xccllcntly well upon the lute^ 
and she should take pleasure, not in his courtship, 
but in the liarniony and sweetness of his hite, this 
would be no sin ; thouijh she ought not to indulue 
this pleasure long, for fear that she should pass 
thence to a desire of being courted. In like 
manner, if any one should projjose to me some 
ingenious stratagem, to take revenge of my enemy, 
and I should neither delight in, nor consent to, the 
proposed revenge, but only be pleased with the 
subtility of the artful invention ; although it would 
be no sin, still I ought not to continue long amus- 
ing myself with this pleasure, for fear that by 
degrees I might be induced to take some delight 
in the revenge itself. 

We are sometimes surprised by certam symp- 
toms of pleasure, which innnediately follow the 
temptation, before we are well aware of it. This 
at most can only be a light venial sin ; but it l)e- 
comes greater, if, after w^e have perceived the evil 
which lias befallen us, we stop some time, through 
negligence, to determme whether we shall admit 
or reject that delectation ; and the sin becomes 
otill greater, if, after being sensible of the delec- 
tation, we dwell ui)on it, through downright 
n<'gligcnce, without being determined to reject it ; 
but when we voluntarily, and with full delibera- 
tion, resolve to consent to this delectation, this of 
itself is a great sin, if the object in which we take 
rielight bo also a great sin. It is a great crime 
aH a woman to be willing to entertain dishonest 


love, although she never designs to yield herseli 
up really to her lovers. 



JS soon as you perceive yourself tempted, 
^ follow the example of children when they see 
a Avolf or a bear in the country ; for they immedi- 
ately run into the arms of their father or mother, 
or at least they call out to them for help or as- 
sistance. It is the remedy which our Lord has 
taught : "Pray that ye enter not into temptation." 
St. Matt. xxvi. 41. If you find that the tempta- 
tion, nevertheless, still continues, or even in- 
creases, run in spirit to embrace the holy cross, 
as if you saw our Saviour Jesus Christ crucified 
before you. Protest that you never will consent 
to the temptation, implore his assistance against 
it, and still refuse your consent as long as the 
temptation shall continue. 

But, in making these protestations and refusals 
ot consent, look not the temptation in the face, 
but look only on our Lord ; for if you look at the 
temptation, especially while it is strong, it may 
ehake your courage. Divert your thoughts to 
eome good and pious reflections, for, when good 
thoughts occupy your heart, they will drive away 
every temptation and suggestion. 

300 A DEVOUT Lirr. 

But the sovereign remedy against nil tempta 
tions, whether great or small, is to lay open your 
heart, and connnunicate its suggestions, feelings, 
and afl'eotions to your director; for you must 
observe, that the first condition that the onomy of 
salvation makes with a soul which he desires to 
seduce is to keep silence ; as those who intend to 
seduce nuuds, or married women, at the very first 
forhid them to conuiunncate their proposals to 
their parents or husbands; whereas (lod, on the 
oilier hand, by his ins})irations, re(]uires that we 
should make them known to our superiors and 

li\ after all this, the temptation should still 
continue to harass and persecute us, we have 
nothing to do on our part but to continue as 
resolute in our protestations never to consent to 
it ; for as maids can never be married as long as 
they answer no, so the soul, no matter how long 
the temptation may last, can never sin as long as 
she says no. 

Never dispute with your enemy, nor make him 
any reply but that witli which our Saviour con- 
founded him : " Begone, Satan, for it is written 
the Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only 
shalt thou serve." For as a chaste wife should 
never answer the wicked wretch that makes her 
a dishon()ral)l(^ ju'oposal, l)ut quit him abruptly, 
and at the same instant turn her heart towards her 
husband, and renew the ])roniise of fidelity which 
she has made to him; so the devout soul, that 
«ees herself assaulted by temptation, ought by no 
means to lose time in disputing, but with all sim- 


plicity turn herself towards Jesus Christ her 
Spouse, and renew her protestation of fidelity to 
him, and her resolution to remain solely and en- 
tirely his forever. 




ALTHOUGH we must oppose great tempta- 
tions with an invincible courage, and the 
victory we gain over them is extremely advan- 
tageous, it may happen, nevertheless, that we 
may profit more in resisting small ones, for as 
great temptations exceed in quality, so small 
ones exceed in quantity ; wherefore the victory 
over them may be comparable to that which is 
gained over the greatest. Wolves and bears are 
certainly more dangerous than Hies ; yet the for- 
mer neither give us so much trouble, nor exercise 
our patience so much, as the latter. It is easy to 
abstain from murder, but it is extremely difiicult 
to restrain all the little sallies of passion, the 
occasions of which present themselves every mo- 
ment. It is very easy for a man or a woman to 
refrain from adultery, but it is not as easy to 
refrain from glances of the eyes, from giving or 
receiving marks of love, or from uttering or lis- 
tening to flattery. It is easy not to admit a rival 
with the husband or wife, as to the body, but 
act as to the heart ; it is easy to refrain froik 


dotiliiiix tlic marriaiio l)ccl, but it is difEcult to 
retrain from everything tliat may be prejudicial 
to conjugal alTection ; it is easy not to steal other 
men's goods, but ditlicult not to covet tliem ; it 
is easy not to bear false witness in judgment, 
but difficult to observe truth strictly on every 
•occasion ; it is easy to refrain from drunkenness, 
but ditlicult to observe perfect sobriety ; it is easy 
to refrain from wishing another man's death, but 
difficult to refrain from desiring what may be 
inconvenient to him ; it is easy to abstain from 
defaming him, but it is sometimes ditlicult to re- 
frain from despising him. In a word, these small 
temptations of anger, suspicion, jealousy, envy, 
fond love, levity, vanity, insincerity, alfcctation, 
craftiness, and impure thoughts, are continually 
assaulting even those who are the most dcvoui 
and resolute. We must, therefore, diligently 
prepare ourselves, my dear Philothca, for this 
warfare ; and rest assured, that for as many vic- 
tories as w^e shall gain over these trilling ene- 
mies, so many gems shall be added to the crown 
of glory which God is preparing for us in heaven. 
Wherefore I say, that being ever ready to light 
courageously against great temptations, we nuist 
in the meantime diligently defend ourselves against 
those that seem small and inconsiderable. 




^IIRKOW as to these smaller temptations of vanity^ 
Wk suspicion, impatience, jealousy, envy, fond 
love, and such like trash, which, like flies and 
gnats, continually hover about us, and some- 
times sting us on the legs, the hands, or the 
face ; as it is impossilile to be altogether freed 
from them, the best defence that we can make is 
not to give ourselves much trouble about them ; 
for although they may tease us, yet they can never 
hurt us, so long as we continue firmly resolved to 
dedicate ourselves in earnest to the service of God. 
Despise, then, these petty assaults, without so 
much as thinking of what they suggest. Let 
them buzz and hover here and there around 
5^ou ; pay no more attention to them than you 
would to flies ; but when they oft'er to sting you, 
and you perceive them in the least to light upon 
your heart, content yourself with quietly remov- 
ing them, not by contending or disputing with 
them, but by performing some actions of a con- 
trary nature to the temptation, especially acts 
of the love of God. But you must not persevere, 
Philothea, in opposing to the temptation the 
act of the contrary virtue, for this would be to 
dispute with it ; but, after having performed a 
simple act of the contrary virtue, if you have 
had leisure to observe the quality of the tempta- 


tion, turn yi)ur heart gently towards Jesus Christ 
crucitied, and by an act of love kiss his sacred 
feet. This is the best means to overcome the 
enemy, as well in small as in great temptations ; 
for as the love of God contains within itself the 
perfection of all the virtues, and is even more ex- 
cellent than the virtues themselves, so it is also 
the sovereign antidote against every kind of vice ; 
and, by accustoming your mind on these occasions 
to have recourse to this remedy, you need not 
even examine by what kind of temptation it is 
troubled. Moreover, this grand remedy is so 
terrible to the enemy of onr souls, that as soon as 
he perceives that his temptation incites us to form 
acts of divine lo\'c he ceases to tempt us. Let 
these general })rinci[)les sutlice with respect to 
small and ordinary temptations; he who would 
wish to contend with them in particular would 
give himself much trouble to little or no purpose. 



sONSIDKR from time to time what passions are 
m(jst predoniinnnt in your soul ; and, having 
discovered them, adopt such a method of think- 
ing, s[)eaking, and acting, as may contradict tlu'm. 
If, for example, you tind 3'ourself inclined to 
vanity, think often on the miseries of human 


life ,* think of the inquietude which these vani- 
ties will raise in your conscience at the day of 
your death ; how unworthy they are of a gener- 
ous heart, and that they are nothing but empty 
toys, fit only for the amusement of children. 
Speak often against vanity, and, whatever re- 
pugnance you may feel, cease not to cry it down, 
for ])y this means you will engage yourself, even 
in honor, to the opposite side ; for by declaim- 
ina: against a thing we bring ourselves to hate 
it, though at first we might have had an affec- 
tion for it. Exercise works of a])jection and hu- 
mility as much as possible, though with ever so 
great a reluctance ; since by this means you ac- 
custom yourself to humility, and weaken your 
vanity ; so that, when the temptation comes, you 
will have less inclination to consent to it, and 
more strength to resist it. 

If you are inclined to covetousness, think fre- 
quently on the folly of a sin which makes us 
slaves to that which was only made to serve us, 
and that at death we must part with all, and leave 
it in the hands of those who perhaps may squander 
it away, or to whom it may be a cause of damna- 
tion. Speak loud against avarice, and in praise 
of an utter contempt of the world. Force your- 
self to give frequent alms, and neglect to improve 
some opportunities of gain. Should you be in- 
clined to give or receive fond love, often think 
how very dangerous this kind of amusement is, as 
well to yourself as others ; how unworthy a thing 
it is, to employ in an idle pastime the noblest 
affection of our soul, and how worthy of censure 


is SO extreme a levity of iniiul. Speak often in 
praise of j)urity and simplicity of heart, and let 
your actions, to the utmost of your power, l)e ever 
confonnal)l(» to your words, l)v avoidiiiu^ levities 
and fond lil)erties. In short, in time of peace, 
that is, when temptations to the sin to which you 
are most inclined do not molest you, make several 
acts of the contrary virtue ; and, if occasions of 
practising it do not })resent themselves, endeavor 
to seek them ; for hy this means you will 
strengthen your heart against future tempta- 



^S inquietude is not only a temptation, but 
^ the source of many temptations, it is there- 
fore necessary that I should say something con- 
cerning it. In(|uiotud(^ or sadness, then, is nolliing 
else hut that gri(!f of mind which we conceive for 
some evil Avhich we experience against our Avill, 
whether it be exterior, as poverty, sickness, eon- 
teuipt ; or interior, as ignoranc-e, avidity, re])ug- 
nance, and temptation. AA'hen the soul, then, 
jjcrceives that some evil has befallen her, she 
becomes sad, is displeased, and extrenu'ly anxious 
to rid herself of it; niid thus far slic is right, for 
every one naturally desires to eml)nice good, and 
fly from that which he apprehends to be ca il. If 


the soul, for the love of God, wishes to be freed 
from her evil, she will seek the means of her 
deliverance with patience, meekness, humility, and 
tranquillity, expecting it more from the providence 
of God than from her own industry or diligence. 
But if she seeks her deliverance, from a motive of 
self-love, then will she fatigue herself in quest of 
these means, as if the success depended more on 
herself than on God : I do not say that she thinks 
so, but that she acts as if she thought so. Now, 
if she succeeds not immediately according to her 
wishes, she falls into inquietude, which, instead 
of removing, aggravates the evil, and involves her 
in such anguish and distress, with so great loss of 
courage and strength, that she imagines her evil 
incurable. Thus, then, sadness, which in the 
l^eginning is just, produces inquietude, and inquie- 
tude produces an increase of sadness, which is 
extremely dangerous. 

Inquietude is the greatest evil that can befall 
the soul, sin only excepted. For, as the seditious 
and intestine commotions of any commonwealth 
prevent it from being able to resist a foreign in- 
vasion, so our heart, being troubled within itself, 
loses the strength necessary to maintain the virtue 
it had acquired, and the means to resist the temp- 
tations of the enemy, who then uses his utmost 
efforts to fish, as it is said, in troul)led waters. 

Inquietude proceeds from an inordinate desire 
of being delivered from the evil which we feel, or 
of acquiring the good which we desire : and yet 
there is nothing which tends more to increase evil, 
and to prevent the enjoyment of good, than an un- 


quiet mind. Birds reumiii prisoners in the nets, 
becuuso, when they find themselves caught, they 
eagerly Hutter about to extricate themselves, and 
by that means entangle themselves the more. 
Whenever, then, you are pressed with a desire to 
be freed from some evil, or to oI)taiu some good, 
be careful both to settle your mind in repose and 
tranquillity, and to compose your judgment and 
■vvill ; and then gently procure the accomplishment 
of your desire, taking in regidar order th(? means 
M-hich may be most convenient ; when I say gently, 
I do not mean negligently, but without "hurry, 
trouble, or in(]uietude ; otherwise, instead of ob- 
taining the effect of your desire, you will mar all, 
and embarrass yourself the more. 

" My soul is continually in my hands, O Lord, 
and I have not forgotten thy law," said David. Ps. 
cxviii. 109. Examine frequently in the day, or 
at least in the morning and evening, whether you 
have your soul in your hands, or'whct her some 
passion or incjuietude has not robbed )ou of it. 
Consider whether you have your heart at com- 
mand, or whether it has not escaped out of your 
liands, to engage itself to some disoixlerly alfec- 
tion of love, hatred, envy, covetousness, fear, un- 
easiness, or joy. If it should be gone astray, seek 
after it before you do anything else, and bring it 
back (juietly to the presence of God, subjecting 
all your aflections and desires to the olu'dicnce 
and directions of his divine will. For as they 
who are afraid of losing anything which is precious 
hold it fast in their hands; so, in imitation of this 
srreat king, we should always say, "O my God ! my 


soul is in danger, and therefore I carry it always 
(n my liands ; and in this manner I have not for- 
gotten thy holy law." 

Permit not your desires, how trivial soever they 
may ho, to dis,quiet you, lest afterwards those that 
are of greater importance should find your heart 
involved in trouble and disorder. AVhen you 
perceive that inquiet'.de begins to affect your mind 
reconmiend yourself to God, and resolve to do 
nothing until it is restored to tranquillity, unless 
it should be something that cannot be deferred ; in 
that case, moderating the current of your desires 
as much as possible, perfonn the action, not 
according to your desire but your reason. 

If you can disclose the cause of your disquietude 
to your spiritual director, or at least to some 
faithful and devout friend, be assured that you 
will presently find ease ; for communicating the 
grief of the heart produces the same effect on the 
soul as bleeding does in the body of him that is in 
a continual fever ; it is the remedy of remedies. 
Accordingly the holy king St. Lewis gave this 
counsel to his son: "If thou hast any uneasiness 
in thy heart, tell it immediately to thy confessor, 
or to some good person, and then thou shalt be 
enabled to bear thy evil very easily, by the com- 
fort he will give thee." 




yi^HE sadness that is according to God," says St. 
^A^ Paul, "worketh penance steadfast unto salva- 
tion,*' 2 Cor. vii. ; "l)uttlie sadness of tlic world 
worketh death." Sadness, then, may he good or 
evil, according to its ditfercnt etfects. It is Irue it 
produces more evil etl'ects than good, for it has only 
two that are good, compassion and repentance ; hut 
it ha;i six that are evil, viz., anxiety, sloth, 
indignation, jealousy, envy, and imi)atience, which 
caused the wise man to say, " sadness kills many, 
and there is no profit in it," Ecclus. xxx. 25; 
because, for two good streams Avhich flow from 
the source of sadness, there are six very evil. 

The enemy makes use of sadness and temptation 
against the just ; for, as he endeavors to make the 
wicked to rejoice in their sins, so he strives to 
make the good grieve in their good works ; and as 
he caimot procure the commission of evils hut by 
making it ai)pear agreeable, so he cannot divert us 
from good but by making it appear disagreeable. 
The prince of darkness is pleased with sadness and 
melaiu-holy, l)ecauso he is and will be sad and 
melancholy to all eternity ; therefore he desires 
that eveiy one should bo like himself. 

The sadness which is evil trouljles and per- 
plexes the soul, excites inordinate fears, creates a 
di.sgust for prayer, stu[)efies and oppresses the brain, 


deprives the mind of counsel, resolution, judgment, 
and courage, and destroys her strength. In a 
word, it is like a severe winter, which demolishes 
all the beauty of the country, and devours every 
living creature ; for it takes away all sweetness from 
the soul, and renders her disabled in all her 
faculties. If you should at any time be seized 
with the evil of sadness, Philothea, apply the 
following remedies. 

"Is any one sad," says St. James v. 13, "let 
him pray." Prayer is a sovereign remedy, for it 
lifts up the soul to God, our only joy and conso- 
lation. But, in praying, let your Avords and 
affections, whether interior or exterior, always 
tend to a lively confidence in the divine goodness, 
such as, "O God of mercy ! O infinite goodness ! O 
my sweet Saviour ! O God of my heart, my joy and 
my hope ! O my divine Spouse, the well-beloved 
of my soul ! " etc 

Oppose vigorously the least inclination to sad- 
ness, and, although it may seem that all your 
actions are at that time performed with tepidity 
and sloth, you must, nevertheless, persevere ; for 
the enemy, who seeks b}' sadness to make us weary 
of good works, seeing that we cease not on that 
account to perfonnthem, and that, being performed 
in spite of his opposition, they become more 
meritorious, will cease to trouble us any longer. 

Sing spiritual canticles, for the devil by this 
means has often desisted from his operations : 
witness the evil spirit with which Saul was atilicted, 
whose violence was repressed by such music. It 
is also necessarily serviceable to eniplov oua-selves 


in exterior works, and to vary them as much as 
possil)le, in order to divert the soul from the 
melancholy oI)ject, and to purify and "warm the 
spirits, sadness being a passion of a cohl and dry 

Perform external actions of fervor, although 
you may perform them without the least relish ; 
such as embraci.ig the crucifix, clasping it to your 
breast, kissing the feet and the hands, lifting up 
your eyes and your hands to heaven, raismg your 
voice to God by words of love and confidence like 
these: "My beloved is mine, and I am his. My 
beloved is to me a posy of myrrh, he shall dwell 
between my ])reasts. My eyes liave fainted after 
thee, O my God!" Say also: "When wilt thou 
comfort me? O Jesus, be thou a Jesus to me! 
Live, sweet Jesus, and my soul shall live ! AVho 
shall ever separate me from the love of God?" etc. 

The moderate use of the discipline is aNo good 
against sadness, because this vcduntary exterior 
atiliction begets interior consolation, and the soul, 
feeling pain without, diverts herself from the })ains 
which are within. But frequently the holy com- 
munion is the best remedy, because this luiavenly 
bread strengthens the heart, and rc'joices ths 

Disclose to your confessor, with humility and 
sincerity, all the feelings, atlections, and sug- 
gestions which proceed from your sadness. Seek 
the conversation of sj)iritual persons, and frequent 
their company as much as you can. In a word, 
resign yourself into the hands of God, preparing 
yourself to suffer this troublesome sadness with 


patience, as a just punishment of your vain joys; 
and doubt not but that God, after he has tried 
you, will deliver you from this evil. 




?0D continues the existence of this great, 
world in a perpetual vicissitude, l)y which the 
dti}^ is always succeeded by the night, the spring 
by the summer, the summer by the autumn, the 
autumn by the Avinter, and the wniter again by 
the spring. One day seldom perfectly resembles, 
another: some are cloudy, some rainy, some 
dry ; others windy, — a variety which adds con- 
siderably to the beauty of the universe. It is the 
same with man, who, according to the saying 
of the ancients, is an epitome of the universe, or 
another little world ; for he never remains long 
in the same state ; his life flows away upon the 
earth, like the waters, floating and undulating in 
a perpetual diversity of motion, which some- 
times lift him up w^ith hope, and sometimes 
bring him down with fear ; sometimes carry him 
to the right hand by consolation, sometimes to- 
the left by aflliction ; and not one of his days, 
no, not even one of his hours, is in every respect 
like another. 


Now, it is necessary that we should endeavor 
to preserve an inviohible equality of heart 
amidst so great an inequality ot" occurrences > 
and that, althouuli all things turn and cluingt 
around us, we should remain constantly immov- 
al)lc ; ever looking and aspiring towards God. 
No matter what course the ship may take ; no 
matter whether it sails towards the east, west, 
north, or south; no matter l)y Avhat wind it may 
be driven, — never will the needli; ot" the compass 
])()int in any other direction than towards the 
lair polar star. Let everything he m contusion, 
not only around us, but even within us ; let our 
soul be overwhelmed with sorrow or joy ; with 
sweetness or bitterness ; wnth i)eace or trouble ; 
with light or darkness ; with temiitation or re- 
pose ; with pleasure or disgust; with dryness or 
tenderness; whether it be scorched ])y the sun 
or refreshed l)y the dew ; yet the point of our 
heart, our s[)irit and our su])erior will, which is 
our conij)ass, must incessantly tend towards the 
love of God, its Creator, its Saviour, in a word, 
its only sovereign good. "Whether we live," says 
the Apostle, "we live unto the Lord, or whether 
we die, we die unto the Lord." And " Who shall 
separate us from the love of Christ?" No, notliing 
shall separate us from this love; neither Iribiiln- 
tion, nor anguisii, nor death, nor life, nor i)resent 
irrief, nor the tear of future Mccidcnts, nor the 
artitices of evil spirits, nor the height ot consola- 
tions, nor the depth of atllictions, nor tenderness, 
nor dryness, ought ever to separate us from thiy 
holy charity which is founded in Jesus Christ. 


This first absolute resolution, never to forsake 
God, nor to abandon liis divine love, serves as a 
counterpoise to our souls, to keep them in a holy 
equilibrium, amidst the inequality of the several 
motions attached to the condition of this life ; foi 
as little bees, surprised by a storm in the fields, 
embrace small stones, that they may be able to 
balance themselves in the air, and not be so 
easily carried away by the wind ; so our soul, 
having by resolution strongly embraced the pre- 
cious love of God, continues constant in the midst 
of the inconstancy and vicissitude of consolations 
and afflictions, whether spiritual or temporal, exte- 
rior or interior. But, besides this general doctrine^ 
we have need of some particular instructions. 

1. I say, thent that devotion does not always 
consist in that sweetnese, delight, consolation, 
or sensible tenderness of heart, which moves us 
to tears, and causes us to find satisfaction ii? 
some spiritual exercises. No, dear Philothea ^ 
for there are many souls who expcience these 
tendernesses and consolations, and who^ never- 
theless, are very vicious, and consequently have 
not a true love of God, much less true devotion. 
Saul, pursuing David, who was fleeing before 
him in the wilderness of Engaddi, entered alone 
into a cavern, in which David and his peoi)le lay 
concealed. David, who on this occasion had 
many opportunities of killing him, spared his 
life, and would not even put him in bodily fear ; 
but, having suffered him to go out at his pleasure, 
called after him to ])rove to him his innocence, 
and to convince him that he had been at hi* 


mercy. Now, upon this occjisioii, what did not 
Stiul do, to show that his rage against David was 
appeased? He called him his child, he wept 
aloud, lie praised him, he acknowledged his good- 
ness, he prayed to God for him, he foretold 
his future greatness, and he recommended to 
him his posterity. What greater display could 
iie juake of sweetness and tenderness of heart? 
Nevertheless his heart was not changed ; neither 
did he cease to persecute David as cruelly as 
before. In like manner there are some persons, 
who, considering the goodness of God, and the 
})assion of our Saviour, are tenderly aflected. 
They sigh, Aveep, pray, and give thanks, in so 
feeling a manner that we imagine that they have 
acquired an extraordinary degree of devotion ; 
l)ut, when the moment of trial arrives, we see, 
that as the passing showers of a hot summer, 
which fall in large drops on the earth, but do not 
sink into it, serve for nothing l)ut to j)roduce 
mushrooms, so these tender tears, falling on a 
vicious heart, and not penetrating ii, are altogether 
improtitable ; for, notwithstanding all this apparent 
devotion, these tend(;r souls Aviil not ])art with a 
farthing of the ill-gottcu riches they possess ; 
nor renounce one of their perverse affections ; nor 
suffer the least temporal inconvenience for the 
service of our Saviour, over whose sufferings they 
have just been wcc[)ing ; so that the good afl'cc- 
tions whicli they had were no better than si)iritual 
nuishrooms, and their devotion a mere delusion 
of the enemy, who amuses souls with these false 
consolations, to make them rest contented, lest tl)ev 


should search any fiirther after the true and solid 
devotion, which consists in a constant, resohite, 
prompt, and active will to reduce to practice what- 
ever we know to be pleasing to God. A child will 
weep tenderly when he sees his mother bled with a 
lancet; but if his mother, for whom he is weeping, 
would at the same time demand the apple or the 
sugar-plums which he had in his hand, he would 
by no means part with them ; such is the nature 
of our tender devotion, when, contemplating the 
stroke of the lancet which pierced the heart of 
Jesus Christ crucified, we weep bitterly. Alas, 
Philothea ! it is well to lament the painful death 
and passion of our Blessed Redeemer ; but why, 
then, do we not give him the apple which we have 
in our hands, for which he so earnestly asks? why 
do we not give him our heart, the only token of 
love which our dear Saviour requires of us? why 
do we not resign to him so many petty affections, 
delights, and complacencies, which he wants to 
pluck out of our hands but cannot, because wa 
feel more affection for these trifles than his heav- 
enly grace? Ah, Philothea ! these are the friend- 
ships of little children ; tender, indeed, but weak, 
capricious, and of no effect. Devotion, then, 
consists not in these sensible affections, which 
sometimes proceed from a soft nature, susceptible 
of any impression we may wish to give it ; some- 
times from the enemy, who, to amuse us, stirs up 
our imagination to conceive these effects. 

2. Yet these tender and deli>>:htful affections are 
sometimes good and profitable, for they excite the 
affections of the soul, strengthen the spirit, and add 


to the ])roinptitude of devotion a holy cheerfulness, 
^vhicli makes our actions lovely and agreeable even 
in the exterior. This relish Avhich we find in the 
things of (irod is that Avhich made David exclaim : 
" O Lord, how sweet are thy words to my palate ! 
more than honey to my mouth." Doubtless the 
least consolation of devotion that we receive is in 
every res[)ect preferaljle to the most ugrecal)le 
recreations of the world. The breasts of tlie heav- 
enly Spouse are sweeter to the soul than the wine 
of the most delicious pleasures on earth. He that 
has once tasted this sweetness esteems all other 
consolations no better than gall and wormwood. 
There is a certain herb, the taste of which is said 
to impart such sweetness as to prevent hunger and 
thh'st ; so they to whom God has given the heav- 
enly manna can neither desire nor relish the con- 
solations of the world, so far at least as to fix their 
atlcctions on them ; they are little foretastes of 
those immortal delights which God has in reserve 
for the souls that seek him ; they are little delica- 
cies which he gives to his chddren to allure them ; 
they are the cordials with which he strengthen? 
them, and they an; also sometinics the earnest of 
eternal felicity. It is said that Alexander the 
Great, sailing on the ocean, discovered Arabia 
Felix, by j)erceiving the fragrant odors which the 
Wind l)orc thence, and thereupon encouraged both 
himself and his companions; so we oftentimes re- 
ceive these sweet consolations in this sea of our 
mortal life, which doul)tless must give us a certain 
foretaste of the delights of that heavenly country 
to whUdi we tend and aspire. 


3. But you will perhaps say, since there are 
sensible consolations which are good, because they 
come from God ; and others unprofitable, danger- 
ous, and even pernicious, that proceed either from 
nature, or from the enemy, — -how shall I be able to 
distinguish the one from the other, or know those 
that are evil or unprofitable, from those that are 
good? It is a general doctrine, dear Philothea, 
with regard to the affections and passions of our 
souls, that we must know them by their fruits. 
Our hearts are the trees, the affections and passions 
are the branches, and their Avords and actions are 
the fruit. That heart is good which has good 
affections, and those affections and passions are 
good which produce in us good effects and hoi}' 
actions. If this sweetness, tenderness, and con- 
solation make us more hiunble, patient, tractable,^ 
charitable, and compassionate towards our neigh- 
bor ; more fervent in mortifying our concupis- 
cences and evil inclinations ; more constant in 
our exercises ; more pliant and submissive to those 
whom we ought to obey ; more sincere and upright 
:n our lives, — then, d()u])tless, Philothea, they pro- 
ceed from God. But if these consolations have 
no sweetness but for ourselves ; if they make us 
curious, harsh, quarrelsome, impatient, obstinate, 
haughty, presumptuous, and rigorous towards our 
neighbor, Avhen we already' imao-ine ourselves to 
be sahifs, and disdain to be any longer sul)ject to 
direction or correction, they are then, beyond all 
doubt, false and pernicious ; for a good tree cannot 
bring forth bad fruit. 

4. Whenever we experience these consolations 


we must hum])lo ourselves exceedingly before God, 
and beware of saying, " Oh, how good am I ! " No, 
Philothea, these considerations, as I have already 
said, cannot make us better ; devotion docs not 
consist in them ; l)ut let us say : " Oli, how good is 
God to such as hope in him, to the soul that seeks 
him!" 1. As the bare perception of something 
sweet cannot be said to render tiie palate itself 
sweet ; so although this ])rincij)al sweetness be 
excellent, and though God who gives it is sover- 
eignly good, yet it follows not that he whp receives 
it is also ffood. 2. Let us acknowledge that we 
are as yet but little children, wlio have need of 
milk, and that these dainties are given to us 
because our tender and delicate spirit stands in 
need of some allurement to entice us to the love 
of God. 3. Let us afterwards huml)ly accept 
these extraordinary graces and favors, and esteem 
them, not so nnich on account of their excellence, 
as because it is the hand of God which puts them 
into our hearts, as a mother would do, who, the 
more to please her child, puts the dainties into his 
mouth with her own hand, one by one ; for if the 
child has understanding he sets a greater value on 
the tenderness of his mother than the delicious 
morsels which he receives ; and thus, Philothea, it 
is a great matter to taste the sweetness of sensible 
cousolalions, but it is intinilely nuu'e sweet to con- 
sider that it is his most loving and tendiT hand tiiat 
puts them, as It were, into our mouth, our heart, 
our soul, and our spirit. 4. Having thus humbly 
received them, let us carefully enii)loy them accord- 
ing to the intention of the donor. Mow, to what 


end, think you, does God give us these sweet con- 
solations? To make us sweet towards every one, 
and excite us to love him. The mother gives little 
presents to her child to induce him to embrace her ; 
let us, then, embrace our blessed Saviour, who 
grants us these favors. But to embrace him is to 
obey him, to keep his commandments, do his will, 
and follow his desires, with a tender o1)edience and 
fidelity. Whenever, therefore, we receive any 
spiritual consolation, we must be more diligent in 
doing good, and in humbling ourselves. 5. Besides 
all tills we must, from time to time, renounce those 
sweet and tender consolations, by withdrawing our 
heart from them, and protesting that, although we 
hum1)ly accept them and love them because God 
sends them, and that they excite us to his love, yet 
it is not these we seek, but God himself, and his 
holy love ; not the consolations, but the comforter ; 
not their deliciousness, but the sweet Saviour ; not 
their tenderness, but him that is the delight of 
heaven and earth. It is in this manner we ought 
to dispose ourselves to persevere in the holy lovo 
of God, although throughout our whole life we 
were never to meet with any consolation, and be 
ready to say, as well upon Calvary as upon Thabor : 
"Lord ! it is good for me to be with thee, whether 
thou be upon the cross, or in thy glory." 6. To 
conclude, I admonish you, that should you experi- 
ence any great abundance of such consolations, 
tenderness, tears, sweetness, etc., you must confer 
faithfully with your spiritual director, that you 
may learn how to moderate and behave yourself 
under them, for it is written. " Thou has found 



honey, eat what is sufficient for thee." ProV. 
XXV. i6. 



^I^S long as consolation may hist, do as I have 
^^^ just now directed you, dear Philothca ! But 
(Ills fine and agreeable weather w^ill notalways con- 
tinue, ior sometimes you sh:dl find yourself so 
iihsohitcly destitute of all feeling of devotion that 
your soul shall seem to be a wild, fruitless, barren 
(leseil, in which there is no trace of a pathway to 
lind her (iod, nor any water of grace to refresh 
her, on account of the dryness which seems to 
threaten her with a total and absolute desolation. 
Alas ! how much does a poor soul in such a state 
deserve compassion ; but especially when the evil 
is vehement ; for then, in imitation of David, she 
feeds herself with tears ni<2:ht and day; while the 
enemy, to cast her into des|)air, mocks her In' a 
thousand suggestions of desj)ondency, saying : "Ah ! 
poor wretch, where is thy God? By what path 
shalt thou be al)le to find hini? AVho can ever 
restore to thee the joy of his holy grace?" 

A\'hat shall you then do, Philolhea? Examine 
the source whence this evil has flowed to you ; for 
we ourselves are often the cause of our sj)iritual 
dryness. 1. As a mother refuses to gratify the 
appetite of her child, when such gratification might 


increase its indisposition, so God witliholds consola- 
tions from us, when we take :i vain complacency 
in them, and are subject to tlie spu-itual maladies 
of self-conceit and presuni[)tion. " It is good for 
me that thou hast humbled me" ; yes, " for before 
I Avas humbled I otlended." Ps. cxviii. 2. When 
we neglect to gather the sweetness and delights of 
the love of God at the proi)er season, he removes 
them fromus in punishment of our sloth. The Israel- 
ite, who neglected to gather the manna betimes, 
could gather none after sunrise, for it had then all 
melted. 3. AVe are sometimes pleased in the bed 
of sensual consolations, as the sacred Spouse wa8 
in the Canticles ; the Spouse of our soul comes and 
knocks at the door of our heart, and invites us to 
return to our spiritual exercises ; but we put them 
off, because v^^e are unwilling to quit these vain 
amusements, and false satisfactions ; for this reason 
he departs, and permits us to slumber. But after- 
wards, when we desire to seek him, it is with great 
difficulty that we find him ; and it is no more than 
what we have justly deserved, since we have been 
so unfaithful and disloyal as to refuse the partici- 
pation of his love, to enjoy the consolations of the 
world. Ah ! if you still keep the flour of Egypt, 
you shad not have the manna of heaven. Bees 
detest artificial odors ; and the sweetness of the 
Holy Spirit is iiicompatiblc with the counterfeit 
delights of the world. 

4. The dou1)lc-dealing and subtlety which we 
use in our spiritual comnniiiications with our di- 
rector may also produce si)iritutii dimness; for, 
since you lie to the Holy Ghost, it is no wonder hd 


should refuse his consohitions. If you Avill not b« 
as sincere and plain as a little child, you shall not, 
then, have the sugar-plums of little children. 

5. If you have glutted yourself with worldly 
pleasures it is no wonder that you should find an 
unsavory taste in spiritual delights. When birds 
have once satiated their appetite the most delicious 
berries appear to them distasteful. "lie hath 
filled the hungry with good things, "says our Idessed 
Lady. Luke ii. 33. "And the rich he hath sent 
away empty." They that are glutted with the pleas- 
ures of the world are not capable of the delights 
of the Spirit. 

6. If you have been careful to preserve the 
fruits of the consolations which you have received, 
you shall receive new ones ; for, to him that 
has, more shall be given ; but he that has not 
kept, but lost, what was given him, through 
his own fault, shall never receive those graces 
which had been pr(>}iarcd for him. Rain enlivens 
green })lants, but it destroys those that have lost 
their verdure. 

There are several causes which occasion our 
fall from the consolations of devotion into dryness 
and barrenness of spirit. Let us, tiien, examine 
whether we can find any of them in ourselves ; 
but observe, Philothea, that this examination is 
not to be made either with inquietude or too much 
curiosity ; but if, after having faithfully considered 
our comportment, we find the cause of the evil to 
originate in ourselves, let us thank God for the 
discovery ; for the evil is half cured when the 
cause of it is known ; ])ut if, on the contrary, yoq 



can find nothing in particular which may seem to 
have occasioned this dryness, trouble not yourself 
about making any further inquiry, but with all 
simplicity do as I shall now advise you. 

1. Humble yourself very much before God, 
by acknowledging your own nothiugness and 
misery. Alas ! O Lord, what am I when left to 
myself but a dry, parched soil, which, far from 
receiving those showers, of which it stands in so 
so great need, is exposed to the wind, and thus 
reduced to dust. 2. Call upon God, and he^ 
comfoit of him. "Eestore unto me the joy ol 
thy salvation. Father, if it be possible, let this, 
chalice pass from me." Away, thou barren north 
wnnd, that witherest my soul ; and blow, gentle 
gale of consolations, upon the garden of my heart, 
that its good affections may diffuse the odor of 
sweetness. 3. Go to your confessor, and open- 
ing to him the several plaits and folds of your 
soul, follow his advice with the utmost simplicity 
and humilit}'; for God, who is well pleased with 
obedience, frequently renders the counsels we 
take from others, but especially from those who 
are the guides of our soul, profitable, when other- 
wise there might be no great appearance of success ; 
as he imparted healing qualities to the waters of 
Jordan, the use of which Eliseus had, without any 
appearance of human reason, prescribed to Naaman. 
4 Kings v. 14. 4. But, after aU this, there is 
nothing so profitable, so fruitful, in a state of 
spiritual dryness, as not to suffer our affections to 
be too strongly fixed upon the desire of being 
delivered from it. I do not say that we ought 


not simply to wish for a deliverance, but that we 
should not set our heart upon it ; hut rather yield 
ourselves up to the pure mercy and special provi- 
dence of God, that he may make use of us to serve 
him as long as he pleases. In the midst of these 
thorns and deserts let us say, " Father, if it he 
possible, let this chalice pass from me"; but let 
us also add, courageously, "nevertheless, not my 
will, but thine, be done." But here let us stop with 
as nuicli tranquillity as possible ; for God, behold- 
ing this holy indiil'erence, will comfort us with 
many graces and favors ; as was the case ^\ ith 
Abraham when he resolved to deprive himself of 
his son Isaac. God, who contented himself with 
seemg him in this disposition of a pure resignation, 
comforted him with a most delightful vision, 
accompanied by the most consolatory benedictions. 
We ought, then, under all kinds of atllirtions, 
whether corporal or si)iritual, and amidst all the 
distractions or subtractions of sensible devotion 
which may happen to us, to say from the bottom 
of our heart, "with profound submission. Job i. 21, 
"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; 
blessed be the name of the Lord." For, if we 
continue in this humility, he will restore us his 
delightful favors as he did to Job, who constantly 
used the like words in his desolations. 

Finally, riiilothea, in the midst of our si)iritual 
dryness, let us never lose courage, but v;ait with 
patience for the return of consolalii)n. Let us not 
omit any of our exercises of devotion, but, if 
possil)le, let us nuillii)ly our good woi-ks ; and, 
not being able to present to our di-ar S])()use the 


most exquisite dishes, let us offer him such as we 
c:ui procure ; for he is indifferent, provided the 
heart Avhich. offers them be perfectly fixed in the 
resolution of loving him. When the spring is fair 
the bees make more honey, and produce fewer 
young ones ; for, when the fine weather fiivors 
them, they are so busy in their harvest among the 
flowers that they forget the production of their 
young ; but when the spring is sharp and cloudy 
they produce more young ones, and less honey ; 
for, not ])eing able to go abroad to gather honey, 
they employ themselves at home to increase and 
multi[)ly their race. Thus it happens frequently, 
Phllothea, that the soul, finding herself in the fair 
spring of spiritual consolations, amuses herself so 
much in enjoying their sweetness, that in the a])un- 
dance of these delights she produces fewer good 
works ; whilst, on the contrary, in the midst of 
spiritual dryness, the more destitute she finds 
herself of the consolations of devotion, the more 
she multiplies her good works, and abounds in the 
interior generation of the virtues of i)atience, 
humility, self-contempt, resignation, and renun- 
ciation of self-love. 

JMany persons, especially women, falsely imagine 
that the spiritual exercises which they perform 
without relish, tenderness of heart, or sensible 
satisfiiction, are less agreeable to the divine Maj- 
esty. Our actions are like roses, which when 
fresh have more beauty, yet when dry have more 
strength and sweetness. Our works performed 
with tenderness of heart are more agreeable to 
ourselves, who regard only our own satisfaction, 


yet when performed in the time of dryness they 
possess more sweetness, and become more precious 
in the sight of God. Yes, dear Phdothea, m the 
time of dryness our will forces us to the service 
of God, as it were, by violence ; and, consequently, 
it nuist necessarily be more vigorous and constant 
than in the time of consolation. 

It is not great merit to serve a prince in the 
tnne of peace, amongst the delights of the coiu't ; but 
to serve him amidst the hardships of war troubles 
tiiid persecutions is a true mark of constancy and 
fidelity. The Blessed Angela de Fulgino says, 
that the prayer which is most acceptable to God 
is that which we make by force and constraint; 
the prayer to which we ai)ply ourselves, not for 
the pleasure which we tind in it, nor by inclination, 
but purely to please God ; to Avhich our will carries 
us against our inclinations, violently forcing its 
way through the midst of those clouds of avidity 
which oppose it. I say the same of every kind of 
good works, whether interior or exterior; for, the 
more repugnance we feel in performing them, the 
more agreeal)le they are in the sight of God. The 
less we consult our ])articul:ir interest in the pur- 
suit of virtues, the more brilliantly does the ])urity 
of divine love shine forth in them. A child easily 
is naturall}'' aflectionate to his motlun- when she 
gives him sugar ; but it is a sign of a great love if 
he manifests the same affect ion after she has given 
him wormwood, or any other bitter potion. 




W^O illustrate the whole of this instruction 1 
'^ will here relate an excellent passage from the 
history of St. Bernard, as I found it in a learned 
and judicious writer. Almost all, says he, Avho 
begin to serve God, and are not as yet experienced 
in the subtractions of grace, and in spiritual vicissi- 
tudes, finding themselves deprived of the sweet- 
ness of sensible devotion, and that agreeal)le light 
which invites them to run forward in the way of 
God, presently lose breath, and fall into pusil- 
lanimity and sadness. Persons of judgment ac- 
count for this by saying that our rational nature 
cannot continue, for a long time, famished, as it 
were, and without some kind of delight, either 
heavenly or earthly. Now, as souls that are ele- 
vated above themselves, by the enjoyment of 
spiritual pleasures, easily renounce visible objects ; 
so when, by the di^•ine disposition, spiritual joy is 
withdrawn from them, finding themselves at the 
same time deprived of corporal consolations, and 
not being as yet accustomed to wait with patience 
for the return of the true sun, it seems to them as 
if they were ncitlier in heaven nor on earth, and 
that they shall remain buried in a perpetual night. 
Thus, like little infants who have been weaned 
from the breast, they languish and moan, and be- 


come fretful and troublesome to every one, and 
especiall}'' to themselves. The following circum- 
stance happened, in a journey mentioned in this 
history, to one of the company, named Geolfry of 
Peronne, Avho had lately dedicated himself to the 
service of God. Being suddenly de})rived of con • 
solation, and overwhelmed with interior disgust, 
ho began to rememl)er his worldly friends, his 
kindred, and the riches which he had lately for- 
saken ; hy which he was assaulted with so strong 
a temptation that, not being able to conceal it in 
his behavior, one of his greatest confidants per- 
ceived it, and, having t:dven an o))poi"tuni(y, ac- 
costed him with mildness, and said to him in 
private, "What means this, GeoU'ry? Whence 
comes it, that, contrary to custom, thou art so 
pensive and melancholy?" — "Ah, brother!" an- 
swered Geotfry, with a deep sigh, "I shall never, 
never more be joyful whilst I live." The other, 
moved to pity at these words, went innncdiatcly, 
with fraternal zeal, and told it to their common 
father, St. Bernard, who, perceiving the danger, 
went into the next church to pray to God for 
him ; whilst Geotfry, in the meantime, being 
o\-cr\\helmed with sadness, and resting his Iii'ad 
ui)on a stone, fell asleep. Shortly after both of 
them arose, the one from prayer, having obtained 
the favor he had asked for, and the other from a 
sleep, ])ut with so i)leasant and serene a counte- 
nance that his friend, suri)rised at so great and 
sudden a chans^e, could not refrain from gently 
rcj)roaching him with the answer he had a littla 
before given him, to which Geotfry re])li<'d, "If J 


told thee before, that I should never more be joy- 
ful, I now assure thee that I shall never more be 

Such was the issue of the temptation of this de- 
vout person. But observe, in this relation, dear 
Philothea, 1. That God commonly grants some 
foretaste of heavenly delight to such as enter into 
liis service, in order to withdraw them from earthly 
pleasures, and encourage them in the pursuit of 
divine love; as a mother who, to allure her little 
infant to her breasts, puts honey upon them. 2. 
That, according to the secret designs of his provi- 
dence, he is pleased to withhold from us the milk 
and honey of consolation, that, l^y weaning us in 
this manner, we may learn to feed on the more dry 
and solid bread of a vigorous devotion, exercised 
under the trials of disgust and spiritual dryness. 
3. That, as violent temptations frequently arise 
during this desolating avidity, we must resolutely 
fight against them, since they proceed not from 
God; but, nevertheless, we must patiently sutler 
the avidity itself, since God has ordahied it for 
the exercise of our virtue. 4. That Ave must 
never lose courage amidst those interior pains and 
conflicts, nor say with goodGeoftry, "I shall never 
more be joyful" ; for in the midst of the darkness 
of the night we nuist look for the return of day- 
light : and, again, in the fairest spiritual weather 
we must not say, I shall never more be sorrowful ; 
for, as the wise man says, "In the day of good 
things be not unmindful of evils." Eccles. xi. 
27. AVe must hope in the midst of afflictions, 
and fear in the midst of prosperity ; and on both 


occasions we must always liiim])le ourselves. 5. 
That it is a soveroiixu remedy to discover our evdl 
to some spiritual friend, who may be able to give 
us comfort. 

I tiiink it necessary to ol)serve, Philothea, that 
in these conflicts God and our spiritual enemy have 
<^ontrary designs. Our good God seeks to con- 
duct us to perfect purity of heart, to an entire 
renunciation of self-interest in Avliat relates to hia 
service and to an a1)soluto self-dcuiiaj ; whereas 
our internal foe endeavors, by these severe trials, 
to discourage us from the practice of prayer, and 
entice us back to sensual pleasures, that l)y thus 
making us troul^lesome to oiu'selvc^s and to others 
he may discredit holy devotion. But, jjrovided you 
observe the lessons I have given you, you Avill, 
amidst these interior atUictions, raj)idly advance 
in the way of perfection. I cannot, however, dis- 
miss this important subject without adding a few 
words more. 

It sometimes happens that spiritual dr3''ness pro- 
ceeds from an indisposition of body, as when, 
through an excess of watching, labor, or fasting, 
i\'e find ourselves oppressed by fatigue, drowsiness, 
lassitude, and the like intirmitics, w^hich, though 
they depend on the body, yet are calculated to in- 
commode the spirit also, on account of the inti- 
mate connection that subsists between both. Now, 
)n such occasions, we must never omit to perform 
yevoral acts of virtue with the superior parts of 
our souls and the force of our will. For although 
our whole soul seems to be asleep, and over- 
whelmed with drows'noss and fatigue, yet th^ 


actions of the superior part cease not to be very 
acceptable to God ; and we may say at the same 
time, with the sacred Spouse, " I sleep, and my 
heart watclietii." Cant. v. 2. For, as I have ob- 
served before, tliouiih there is less satisfaction in 
this manner of performing our spiritual exercises, 
yet there is more merit and virtue. Now, the 
remedy on such occasion is to recruit the strength 
and vigor of our body by some kind of lawful rec- 
reation. So St. Francis ordained that his religious 
should use such moderation in their labors as not 
to oppress the fervor of their spirits. 

As I am speaking of this glorious father, I must 
not forget to tell you that he himself was once as- 
saulted by so deep a melancholy of spirit that he 
could not help showing it in his behavior ; for if 
he desired to converse with his relio-ious he was 
unable ; if he withdrew himself from them it Avas 
worse ; abstinence and corporal mortification op- 
pressed him, and prayer gave him no relief. He 
continued two years in this manner, so that he 
seemed to be quite abandoned by God ; but at 
length, after he had humbly suffered this violent 
storm, our Saviour, in an instant, restored him to 
a happy tranquillity. If, therefore, the greatest 
servants of God are sul)ject to these shocks, how 
can we be astonished if they sometimes happen 
to us? 

Part jFtftf)* 




•TJ^flE rirst point of these exercises consists in our 
'^ being thoroughly sensible of their iin}X)rtance. 
Human nature easily falls off from its good affcc- 
lions, on account of the frailty and evil inclinations 
of the llcsh, which dc})rcss the soul, and draw her 
always downwards, unless she often raise herself 
up by fervent resolutions ; just as birds which fall 
suddenly to the ground if they do not multiply the 
strokes of their wings to support themselves in the 
air. For this reason, dear Philothca, you must 
repeat very often the good resolutions you have 
niade to serve *God, lest, by neglecting to do so, 
you should relapse into your former state, or 
rallicr into a worse one; for sjiiritual falls always 
cast us down to a lower state than that from which 
we ascended up to devotion. 

As every watch, no matter how good it may 
be, must be daily wound up, and now and then 
taken asunder, to remove the rust and dust, 
and to mend and repair what may be broken or 


out of order; so he that is careful of his soul 
ought to wind it up daily to God by the forego- 
ing exercises, and at least once a year take it 
asunder to redress, rectify, and examine dili- 
gently all its affections and passions, that all its 
defects may be repaired. And as the watchmaker 
anoints the wheels, the springs, and all the works, 
with some delicate oils, that the motions of the 
wheels may be more easy, and the whole of the 
watch less subject to rust; so a devout person, 
after taking this review of his heart in order to 
renovate it, must anoint it with the Sacraments of 
Confession and the Holy Eucharist. This ex- 
ercise will fortify your spirit, impaired by time, 
warm your heart, reanimate your good resolutions, 
and make your virtues flourish with fresh vigor. 
The primitive Christians were careful to practise 
this devotion on the anniversary day of the bap- 
tism of our Lord, when, as St. Gregory Nazianzeu 
relates, they renewed those professions and prot- 
estations which are usually made in Ijaptism. Let 
us, also, my dearPhilothea, seriously dispose our- 
selves to follow their example. Having, then, for 
this purpose, chosen the most convenient time, 
according to the advice of your spiritual father, 
and withdrawn yourself into a little more solitude 
than ordinary, make one, two, or three meditations 
on the following points, according to the method 
I have prescribed in the second part. 






5||50NSIDElv the points of your protestation. 
^^ First, that you would lorsake, cast away, de- 
test, and renounce forever ail moral sin ; secondly, 
that you would dedicate and consecrate your soul, 
heart, and hody, Avith all their faculties, to the 
love and service of God ; thirdly, that, if you 
should chance to fail inio any sin, you would im- 
mediately rise again l)y the help of God's grace. 
Are not these just, noble, and generous resolu- 
tions? Consider well in thy soul, tlicn. liow holy 
and reasonable this protestation is, and how much 
to be desired. 

2. Consider to whom you have made this prot- 
estation ; for it is to God. If our word given to' 
men bind us strictly, how much more when we 
have given it to (Jod ! "It is to thee, O Lord I" 
said David, "my heart hath si)okeu it, my heart 
hath uttered a good word. Oh, I will never for- 
get it." Ps. xliv. 

3. Consider that you made this protestation in 
the presence of the whole coiu't of heaven. Ah, 
yes ! the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, your good 
angel, your holy patron, and all that blessed com- 
pany, beiield you, and their hearts were filled 
with joy and exultation at your words; the.V 


saw, with the eyes of unspeakable love, your heart 
prostrate at the feet of your Saviour, consecrating 
itself to his service. As there was a particular 
joy on that occasion in the heavenly Jerusalem, so 
there will be now a commemoration of the same, 
if, with a smcere heart, you renew your resolutions. 

4. Consider by what means you were induced 
to make your protestation. Ah ! how good and 
gracious was God to you at that time ! Oh, tell 
me sincerely, were you not invited to it by the 
sweet attractions of the Holy Ghost? Were 
not the cords, with which God drew your little 
boat to this blessed haven, composed of love and 
charity? How earnestly did he seek to allure 
you to it by the divine sweetness of the sacra- 
ments, spiritual reading, and prayer ! Alas, dear 
Philothea ! yoa were asleep, whilst God watched ; 
he thought over your soul's thoughts of peace, and 
meditated in your favor meditations of love. 

5. Consider that God inspired you with these 
holy resolutions in the flower of your age. Ah I 
what a happiness it is to learn early that which 
we cannot know but too late ! St. Austin, having 
been called at the age of thirty years, exclaimed, 
" O ancient beauty ! whence is it that 1 have 
known thee so late? Alas! I saw thee before, 
but I considered thee not " ; and you may well say, 
O ancient sweetness ! why did I not relish thee 
before? Alas ! you did not even then deserve it. 
However, acknowledging the special favor God 
has done you in attracting you to himself in your 
youth, say with David, ''Thou hast taught me, O 
God, from my youth ; and till now 1 will declare 


thy wonclcrful Morks." Ps. Ixx. 17. But if this 
has happened in your old age, ah ! Philothea, 
what an extraordinary grace, that, after havi.ngtliu? 
misspent idl your tbi'uier years, (rod sliould call 
you beibre your deatli, and stop the course of your 
misery at a time, in whicli, if it had continued, 
you must have been miserable for eternity ! 

Consider the effects of this vocation, and, com- 
paring Avhat you no^y are with what you have 
been, you will doul)tIess lind in yourself a great 
change for the better. Do you not esteem it a 
happiness to know how to converse with God 
by prayer; to be inilamed with a desire of loving 
him ; to have o1)taiiied a complete victory over the 
many passions with which you were troubled; to 
have avoided innumerable sins and perplexities of 
conscience ; and, in fine, to have communicated 
so much oftener than vou would have done, unit- 
ing yourself to that sovereign source of never- 
ending grace? Ah, how great are these favors "i 
We must weigh them, riiilothea, in the scales of 
the sanctuary ; it is God's right hand tlint had 
done all this. "The right hand of the Lord," says 
David, "hath exalted me; 1 shall not die, l)ut 
live, and shall declare with my heart, with my 
mouth, and by my actions, the wonderful works 
of the Lord.'' Ps. cxvii. 

After all these considerations, which must doubt- 
less luriiisli you with abundance of i)ious alfections, 
conclude simply with an act of thanksgiving and 
fervent prayer, that you may make good use of 
them ; retire with the most profound humility and 
the utmost confidence m God, deferring the making 


the effort of your resolutions till after the second 
point of this exercise. 



3^S the second part of the exercise is rather long, 
a^ in order to practise it I must tell you that it 
is not necessary that you should perform it all at 
once, but at different times, considering your du- 
ties towards God, at one tiuie ; what relates to 
yourself, at another ; what concerns your neighbor, 
at a third ; and your passions, at the fourth. 
Neither would I advise you to perform it on your 
knees, except at the beginning and the end, A\'hich 
comprise the affections. The other points of the 
examination you may perform piofitably whilst 
walking abroad, or still more profitably in bed, 
provided that you can preserve yourself against 
drowsiness, and keep thoroughly awake ; but then,, 
to do this, you must read them attentively before- 
hand. It is necessary, however, to go through 
the whole of the second point in three days and 
two nights at most, dedicating as much time to 
it on each day and night as you conveniently 
can ; for if this exercise should be deferred to times 
far distant from each other it would lose its force, 
and make but weak impressions. 

After each point of the examination you mus* 


remark in what you isluill find yourself (o have 
failed ; in uhat you are still defective, and the 
nature of the principal disorders you have discov- 
ered, that you may declare them to your confessor, 
in order to o])tain his advice, and acquire reso- 
hit ion and si)irilual strength to overcome them. 
Although on the days on which you perform this 
and the other exercises it is not absolutely neces- 
sary to withdraw yourself from all comi)any, yet 
3^ou must be more retired than usual, especially 
towards the evening, that you may sooner go to 
bed, and take that repose of body and mind which 
is necessary for consideration. You nmst also, 
during the day, make frequent aspirations to God, 
to the Blessed \'irgin, to the angels, and to the 
whole court of heaven; moreover, all this must be 
done with a heart totally inflamed with the love 
of God, and a desire of attaining i)erfcction. 

To begin, then, this examination ])r()i)erly, 
1. Place yourself in the presence of God. 2. 
Invoke the Holy Ghost, begging of him to en- 
lighten your understanding, that you may attain a 
perfect knowledge of yourself, crying out, with St. 
Austin, to God in the si)int of humility, "OLord ! 
let me know thee, and let me know myself" ; and 
with St. Francis, asking of God, " Lord ! who art 
thou, and who am I ? " Protest that it is not your 
intention to acquire this knowledge in order to at- 
tribute any glory to yourself on the occasion, l)ut 
that you may rejoice in God, return him thanks, 
and glorify his l)lessed name for all benefits. 
Protest likewise, that if you find, as you fear you 
shall, that you made but little or no advancement, 


or even that you have gone backward, you will 
not on that account be discouraged, grow colder, 
or be overcome by pusillanimity or faint-hearted- 
ness , but that, on the contrary, you will encourage 
and animate yourself, humble yourself the more, 
and apply, wilh the assistance of divine grace, the 
proper remedicb to your defects. Afterwards 
consider calmly how you have l)ehaved to the pres- 
ent hour towards God, your neighbor, and your- 



kOW stands your heart with respect to mortal 
sm? Are you firmly resolved never to com- 
mit it, on any account whatever r ILis this reso- 
lution continued from tlie time of your protestation 
till the present moment ? In this resolution consists 
the foundation of the spiritual life. 

How is your heart disposed with regard to the 
commandments of God? Do you find them good, 
sweet, and agreeable? Ah! my child, he whose 
taste is in good order, and whose stomach is sound, 
loves good moat and rejects bad. 

How is your heart affected with regard to venial 
sin ? We cannot keep ourselves so pure as not to 
fall now and then into such sins ; but is there none 
to which you have a particular inclination ; or^ 


A'hat "would 1)G still worse, is there none to whiclj 
you bear an atlection and love ? 

How is your heart ali'ected with i-cs^ard to spir- 
itual exercises? Do you love them? Do you 
esteem them? Do they not make you uneasy? 
Are you not disgusted with them? To which of 
them do you find yourself more or less inclined? 
To hear the word of God, to read it, to discourse 
of it, to meditate, to aspire to God, to go to con- 
fession, to receive spiritual counsel, to prepare 
yourself for connnunion, to communicate, to re- 
strain your affections, — in all this, Avhat is there to 
which you feel repugnance? If you find anything 
to which your heart has less inclination, examine 
the cause whence this dislike arises, and ai)ply the 

How stands your heart towards God himselfr 
Does it delight in the remembrance of God ? Does 
this remembrance leave an agreeable sweetness be- 
hind it ? " Ah ! " said David, " I remembered God, 
and I was delighted." Does your heart feelan m- 
clination to love (jod, and a particular satisfaction 
in relishing this love ? Does not vour heart love to 
rellect on the innnensity of God, on his goodness, 
on his sweetness? If the remembrance of God 
comes to you amidst the occupations and vanities 
of the world, do you not willingly receive it? 
Docs it not sei/e u])()n yonr heart ? Does it not 
seem to you that your heart tnrns towards that 
side, and, as it were, runs to meet her God? Cer- 
tainly there arc such souls to be found. 

When the husband of an affectionate wife re- 
turns home from a distant country, as soon as she 


is sensible of his approach, or hears his voice, 
although she be ever so much engaged in business, 
or forcil)ly detained from him l)y some urgent 
occupation, yet her heart is not withheld from 
him, but leaps over all other thoughts to think on 
her hus])and, who is returned. It is the same 
with souls that love God well ; let them be ever 
so busy, when tlie remembrance of God comes 
near them they lose almost the thought of all 
things else, so rejoiced are they that this dear 
remembrance is returned ; and this is a very good 

How is your heart affected towards Jesus Christ, 
God, and man? Do you place your happiness in 
him? As bees find pleasure in their honey, and 
wasps in corrupted things, so good souls seek 
their happiness in thinking on Jesus Christ, and 
fsel a tender affection towards him ; but the wicked 
please themselves about vanities. 

How is your heart affected towards the blessed 
Virgin, the saints, and your good angel? Do you 
love them ? Have you a special confidence in their 
patronage? Are you pleased with their pictures, 
their lives, and their praises? 

As to your tongue : how do you speak of God ? 
Do you find pleasure in speaking well of him, ac- 
cording to your condition and ability? Do you 
love to sing his praises? 

As to Avorks : consider whether you take the 
exterior glory of God to heart, and are emulous 
of doing something for his honor ; for such as 
love God love, like David, the adorning of his 


Can you discover that you have forsaken any 
aflcction, or renounced anythhig for the sake of 
God? for it is a good sign of love to deprive our- j 
selves of anything in fiivor of him whom we love. J 
What, then, have you hitherto forsaken for the lovt» " 
of God? 




S|KOW do you love yourself? Do you not love 
"Mit yourself too much for this world? If so, you 
will desire to live always here and be very solic- 
itous to establish yourself on this earth ; but if 
you love yourself for heaven, you Avill desire, or 
iit least be willing, to depart hence at whatever 
hour it shall please our Lord. 

Do you observe due order in the love of your- 
self? For the inordinate love of ourselves is the 
only thing that will cause our ruin. Now, a well- 
ordered love requires that we should love the soul 
more than the body; that we should be more 
solicitous to acquire virtue than anything else; 
the we should set a higher estimation on the fa- 
vor of heaven than on the honor of this low 
and perishable world. A well-ordered heart will 
oftener say within itself, "What will the angels 
say, if I think upon such a thing?" than "What 
will men say?" 


What kind of love have you for your own heart ? 
Are you not willing to serve it in its infirmities? 
Alas ! you ought to assist it, and procure assist- 
ance for it, whenever passions torment it, and 
for this purpose to neglect every other considera- 

What do you esteem yourself before God? 
Doubtless nothing. It is no great humility in a 
fly to esteem herself nothing in comparison of a 
mountain ; nor for a drop of water to hold itself 
for nothing in comparison of the sea ; nor for a 
spark of fire to hold itself nothing in respect to 
the sun ; but humility consists in not esteeming 
ourselves above others, and in not desiring to be 
so esteemed by others. How are you disposed 
in this respect? 

As to your tongue : Do you not sometimes 
boast of yourself in one way or another? Do 
you not flatter yourself in speaking of yourself? 

As to recreation : Do you allow yourself pleasure 
contrary to your health, — I mean vain or unprofit- 
able pleasure ; such, for example, as that which 
prevents you from retiring to bed at a proper hour 
*nd the like ? 





•JP|HE love of husband and wife ouirht to be 
''^ sweet and tran(|uil, constant and persevering, 
and this princi})ally because the "will of God re- 
quires it. 1 say the same of the love of our 
children, our near relations, and our friends, 
every one according to his rank. 

But, to speak in general, how is 3'our heart 
aftected towards your neighltor? Do you love 
him from your heart, and for the love of God? 
To discern this well you nnist represent to your- 
self troublesome and disagreeable persons, for it 
is among them that "\ve exercise the love of God 
towards our neighbor, and nnu-h more among 
those who injure us, either by their actions or 
words. Examine Avell whether your heart be Avell 
disposed towards them, or whether 3-ou do not lind 
a greater rei)ugnance to love them. 

Are you not a})t to speak ill of your neighbor, 
and especially of such as do not love you? Do 
you refrain from doing evil to your neighbor, 
either directly or indirectly? Provided you be 
reasonable, you will easily i)erceive it. 




^c HAVE thus protracted these points, in the ex- 
-^ aniination of which consists the knovvledo:e of our 
spiritual advancement ; for the examination of sin 
is rather for the confession of such as think not 
seriously of advancing in devotion. 

We must aot, however, delay too long on any 
of these points, but consider gently in what state 
our heart has been with regard to them, and what 
considerable faults we have committed. 

But, to abridge the whole^ we must reduce the 
examen to a search into our passions ; and if it bo 
inconvenient to consider every point in particular, 
as has l)een said, we may examine in general what 
have been our dispositions, and how we have be- 
haved ourselves in our love to God, our neighbor, 
and ourselves ; in our hatred for our own sins, and 
for those of others, — for we desire the extirpation 
of both ; in our desires relating to riches, pleasures, 
and honors ; in our fear of the dangers of sin, and 
in that of the loss of our worldly goods, — for we 
are apt to fear the one too much, and the other too 
little; in our hope, placing too much reliance on 
the world and creatures, and too little on God and 
thinii^s eternal : in an inordinate sadness, or exces- 
sive joy for vain things. In a word, we must 
examine what affections entangle our heart, what 
passions possess it, in what it has principally 


strayed out of the way ; for by the papsions we 
may judge of the state of the soul, by examining 
them one after the other ; and, as he that plays on 
the lute, l)y touciiing all the strings finds Avliich 
are out of tune, and makes them accord either by 
winding them up, or letting them down ; so, if after 
having examined the passions of love, hatred, 
desire, hope, sadness, and joy in our soul, we find 
them out of tune for that harmony which we desire 
to make to the greater glory of God, we may ac- 
cord them by means of his grace, and the counsel 
of our spiritual director. 



^FTEE. having quietly considered each point of 
the examination into the state of your soul, 
you must afterwards proceed to the affections in 
this manner ; — 

1. Return thanks to God for the little amend- 
ment you may have found in your life since your 
resohition, and acknowledge that it has been his 
mercy alone that has wrought it in and for you, 

2. Humble youi'sclf exceedingly ])cfore God, 
rtcknowlcdo-jniji; that, if you have not advanced 
much, it has been through your own fault, ])ecause 
you have not faitht'ully, courageously, and con- 
stantly corresponded with the inspirations, graces, 


and affections which he has given you in prayer, 
and at other times. 

3. Promise that 3'ou will eternally praise him 
for the graces which he has bestowed on you, and 
for having withdrawn you from your evil inclina- 
tions, to make this little amendment. 

4. Ask pardon for your intidelity and disloyalty 
in not corresponding with his graces. 

5. Ofl'er him your heart, that he may make him- 
self the sole master of it. 

6. Beseech him to make you forever faithful to 

7. Invoke the saints, the blessed Virgin, your 
good angel, your holy patron, St. Joseph, and the 
whole court of heaven. 



^FTER having made your examination, and 
conferred with some worthy director concern- 
ing your defects, and the proper remedies for them, 
make use of one of the following considerations 
every day, by way of meditation, employing in it 
the time of your mental prayer, observing always 
the same method with regard to the preparation 
'aidthe affections as you did in the meditations of the 
first part, liy placing yourself first in the presence 
of God, and then imploring his grace to establish 
you in his holy love and service. 




5^0XSIDER the worth and excellence of your 
^^ immortal soul, which is endued Avith an 
understanding capable of knowing, not only this 
visible world, but also that there are angels, an 
eternity, a heaven, and a most high sovereign, and 
ineffable God, and which, moreover, knows the 
means of living well in this visible w^orld, that she 
may one day be associated with the angels of 
heaven, and enjoy God for all eternity. 

Consider, also, that your soul has a Mill capable 
of loving God, and cannot hate him in himself. 
Take a view of your heart, and behold how gener- 
ous it is ; and that, as bees can never stay ui)on any 
corrupt thing, but only stop among the flowers, so 
no creature can ever satisfy your heart, for it can 
never rest but in God alone. Eecall to your re- 
membrance the dearest and strongest afl'ections 
(hat have hitherto engaged your heart, and judge 
in truth, whether, in the midst of them, it was not 
ful of anxious inquietudes, tormenting thoughts, 
and restless cares. 

Our heart, alas ! runs eagerly in i)ursuit of 
creatures, thinking that they will satisfy its desires ; 
but as soon as it has overtaken thcni it tinds its 
satisfaction still afar off, (iod being unwilling that 
our heart should lind any resting-j)lac(', like the 
dove which went out of Noah's ark, that it may 


return to himself, from whom it proceeded. Ah ! 
what natural beauty is there in our heart ! Why, 
then, do we detain it against its will in the service 
of creatures ? 

Since, then, O soul ! thou art capable of know- 
ing and loving God, why wilt thou amuse thyself 
about anything less than God ? Since thou may- 
est advance thy claim to eternity, why shouldst 
thou amuse thyself about transitory moments ? It 
was one of the most sorrowful reflections of the 
})rodigal son that he might have been faring de- 
liciously at his father's table whilst he was feeding 
amongst the filthy swine. Since, O my soul I thou 
art capable of God, w^oe be to thee if thou content 
thyself with anything less than God. 

Elevate your soul cheerfully with this consid- 
eration : remind her that she is immortal, and 
worthy of eternity ; animate her with courage oq 
this subject. 




sONSIDER that nothing but virtue and devotion 
*^ can satisfy your soul in this world. Behold 
how beautiful they are, and draw a comparison 
between the virtues and their contrary \dces. 
How amiable is patience, when compared with 
revenge! Meekness, compared with anger and 
vexation ! Humility; compared with arrogance and 


ambition ! Liberality, compared with covetousness ! 
Charity, in com[)ari.son with envy ! Sobriety, com- 
pared with revellings ! For virtues have this 
admiral)le quality, that they delight the soul with 
an incomi)arable sweetness and satisfaction after 
we have })ractised them ; whereas vices leave the 
soul exceedingly fatigued and disordered. Why, 
then, do we not endeavor to acquire this satis- 
faction ? 

With respect to vices, he that has Init little of 
them is uneasy, and he that has more of them is 
more discontented ; but as for virtues, he that has 
but a little has already some contentment, which 
increases as the virtues themselves increase. 

() devout life ! how ftiir, how lovely, how sweet 
and delightful art thou ! thou alle\iatest our tribu- 
lations, and addest sweetness to our consolations ; 
without thee good is evil, and pleasures are full 
of restlessness, trouble, and deceits. Ah ! he who 
would know thee well might exclaim, with the 
Samaritan woman, " Lord ! give me this water ! " — 
an as})irati()n frequently used by the holy mother 
Theresa, and St. Catherine of Genoa, although 
upon (hfferent occasions. 





^OXSIDER the examples of the saints in every 
condition ot" life. What have they not done 
to devote thoni.selves entirely to the love and ser- 
vice of God? Look on the invinci1)le resolution 
of the martyrs ; what torments have they not 
suiTered in defence of the faith? But, above all, 
behold that innumerable train of holy virgins, 
whiter than the lilies in purit}', fairer than the 
roses in charity ; of whom, some at twelve, others, 
at thirteen, tifteen, twenty, and twenty-five years- 
of age, have endured a thousand kinds of martyr- 
dom, rather than renounce their resolution, not 
only with regard to the profession of their faith, 
but, also, their protestation of devotion ; some 
dying rather than forsake their virginity ; others- 
rather than desist from the service of their com- 
panions in torments, from comforting the aliiicted,. 
and burying the dead. O good God ! what for- 
titude have they not evinced on these occasions ! 

Consider the unshaken constancy with which so 
many holy confessors have despised the world ; 
how invincible have they shown themselves in 
their resolutions, from which nothing could ever 
divert them ; they have embraced them without 
reserve, and practised them without exception. 
Good God ! what admira1)le things does St. Austin 
relate of his holy mother, St. Monica? With 


what constancy did she pursue her determination 
of serving God, both in marriage and in widow- 
hood? How admirably does St. Jerome speak of 
his dear daughter Paula, in the midst of so many 
oppositions, in the midst of such a variety of acci- 
dents ? What is there that we might not do after 
such excellent patterns ? They were what we are ; 
they served the same God, and practised the same 
virtues; why, then, should not we do as much, 
according to our condition and vocation, to pre- 
serve our resolution and holy j)rotestation? 



••he fourth consideration. — the love that JESUS CHRIST 


jONSIDER the incomparable love with Mhich 
Jesus Christ our Lord has suffered so much 
in this world, but especially in the Garden of 
Olives and upon Mount Calvary, for your sake. 
By all those pains and sud'erings lie obtained of 
God the Father good resolutions and protestations 
for your heart ; and by the same means he also 
obtained whatever is necessary to maintain, 
nourish, strengthen, and fulfil them. O resolu- 
tion, how ])recious art thou, being the daughter of 
such a mother, as is the ])assioii of my Saviour! 
Oh, how tenderly ought my soul to cherish thee, 
since thou hast been so dear to my sweet Jesus ! Alas, 


Saviour of my soul ! thou didst die to purchase 
for me these resolutions. Oh, grant me the grace 
rather to suffer death than to lose them ! 

Observe, my Philothea, it is certain that the 
heart of Jesus beheld your heart from the tree of 
the cross, and, by the love which he bore towards 
it, obtained for it all the good you shall ever have, 
and among the rest your resolutions. Yes, Phil- 
othea, we may all say, with the prophet Jeremias : 
"O Lord, before I had a being thou didst behold 
me, and called me by my name"; since the divine 
goodness did actually prepare for us all the general 
and particular means of salvation, and consequent- 
ly our good resolutions. As a pregnant woman 
prepares the cradle, the linen, and swathing- 
clothes, and even a nurse for the child which she 
hopes to bring forth, although it is not yet in the 
world ; so our Saviour, who designed to bring you 
forth to salvation, and make you his child, pre- 
pared all that was necessary for you upon the 
tree of the cross : your spiritual cradle, your linen, 
and swathing-clothes, your nurse, and all that was 
necessary for your happiness. Such are all those 
graces by which he seeks to attract your soul and 
bring it to perfection. 

Ah, my God! how deeply ought we to imprint 
this thy love in our memory ! Is it possible that 

1 could have been so tenderly beloved by my 
Saviour as that he should think of me in particular 
even in all these little occurrences, by which he 
has drawn me to himself? How much, then, ought 
we to love, cherish, and convert them all to our 
own profit ! O consoling reflection ! the amiable 


heart of God has thou<>:ht of Philothca, loved hei 
and procured lier athoiisand meansof salvation, even 
as many as if there had been no other soul.o in the 
world to think of. As the sun shining upon one 
place of the earth enlightens it no less than if it 
shined on no other, so in the very same manner is our 
Lord solicitous for all his dear children, thinking 
on each of them as though he had forgotten the 
rest. "He loved me," says St. Paul, "and deliv- 
ered himself for me." He says for me alone, as if 
he had done nothini:; for the rest. O Philotheal 
let this sacred truth ho imprinted in your soul, in 
order to cherish and nourish your resolution, which 
has been so precious to the heart of our Saviour. 





P50NSIDER the eternal love which God has 
borne towards you : for, ])efore our Lord Jesus 
Christ, as man, sulfered on the cross for you, his 
divine Majesty, by his omniscience, already foresaw 
your being, and loved you exceedingly. P)ut 
when did his love for you begin? Even when he 
beiran to l)e God. Ikit when did he begin to be 
God? Never, for he has always been without a 
beginning or end, so also has he always loved you 
from all eternity, and in consequence of this love 


he has prepared for you these graces and favors. 
Hence, speaking to you as well as others, by the 
prophet Jeremias, he says, "I have loved thee 
with an everlasting love, therefore have I drawn 
thee, taking pity on thee"; and amongst othei 
things he caused you to make firm resolutions to 
serve him. 

O God ! what resolutions are these on which 
thou hast thought and meditated from all eternity ! 
Ah, how dear and precious should they be to us I 
What ought we not to suffer, rather than forget 
the least of them 1 Though the whole world should 
be destroyed in consequence, yet we must observe 
them faithfully ; for the whole world is not worth 
one soul, and a soul is worth nothing without thesa 




^^^ DEAR resolutions ! fair tree of life, which 
^^^ God, with his own hand has planted in the 
midst of my heart, and which my Saviour desires to 
water with his blood to make thee fruitful : I will 
rather endure a thousand deaths than suffer any 
wind of prosperity or adversity to pluck thee up. 
No; neither vanity, delights, riches, nor tribula- 
tions, shall ever withdraw me from my design. 
Alas ! O Lord, it is thou thyself that hast 


planted and eternally preserved in thy fatherly 
bosom this fair tree for the garden of my heart. 
Alas ! how many souls are there who have not 
been favored in this manner ; and how, then, can I 
ever sufficiently humble myself beneath thy 
mercy ? 

O fair and holy resolutions ! if I preserve you 
you will preserve me ; if you live in my soul, my 
soul will live in you. Live, then, forever, O reso- 
lutions, which are eternal in the mercy of God ; 
live eternally in me, and let me never forsake 
you ! 

After these affections you must consider the 
particular means necessary to maintain these 
cherished resolutions, and determine to be faithful 
in making good use of them ; such as frequent 
prayer, the sacraments, good works, the amend- 
ment of your faults discovered in the examination, 
retrenching the occasions of evil, and following the 
counsels which shall be given you for this purpose. 

Afterwards, hy way of recruiting your strength, 
make a thousand protestations that you will per- 
severe in your resolutions ; and as if you held 
your heart, soul, and will in your hands, dedicate, 
consecrate, sacrifice, and innnolate thom to God, 
protesting never to take them hack again, but leave 
them in the hand of his divine JNIajesty, to follow 
on all occasions his holy ordinances. 

Pray to God to renovate you entirely, and to 
bless and strengthen this your protestation. In- 
voke the l)le.ssed Virgin, your guardian angel, and 
your holy ])atron. 

In this disposition of heart go to your spiritual 


father, and accuse yourself of the principal faults 
which you may have remarked since j^our general 
confession, and, receiving absolution in the same 
manner as the first time, pronounce and sign your 
protestation before him ; and, in conclusion, unite 
your renovated heart to its first principle, your 
Saviour, in the most holy sacrament of the Eu- 




N the day on which you have made this reno- 
vation, and the days immediately following, 
you ought frequently to repeat from your heart 
those intiamed words of St. Paul, St. Austin, St. 
Catherine of Genoa, etc. ; "No, I am no more my 
own ; whether I live, or whether I die, I am my 
Saviour's. I have no longer anything of me or 
mine ; my me is Jesus, and my mine is to be 
wholly his. O world ! thou art always thyself, 
and I have hitherto been always myself, but from 
henceforth I will be myself no more." No, we 
shall be no more ourselves, for we shall have our 
heart changed, and the world which has so often 
deceived us shall be deceived in us ; for, perceiv- 
ing our change only by degrees, it will think us 
still Esaus, but we shall find ourselves to be 
Jaco])s. All these exccist s ought to remain fixed 
in the heart, and whep we finish our consideration, 


and meditation we must turn gently and quietly 
towards our ordinary all'airs and conversations, lest 
the precious liquor of our resolutions should be 
suddenly spilt ; for it nuist penetrate through all 
parts of the soul, without, however, any eflbrt of 
mind or body. 




l^HE world will perhaps tell you, Philothea, that 
<^ these exercises and advices are so numerous, 
that he who would practise them must apply him- 
self to nothing else. Alas ! Philothea, should we 
do nothing else, we should do enough, since we 
should do all that we ought to do in this world. 
But do not you perceive the dchision? If they 
were all to be necessarily performed every day, 
they would then, indeed, constitute our whole oc- 
cupation ; but it is not requisite to perform them 
otherwise than in their j)ropcr time and place, as 
occasions may present themselves. How many 
civil laws and regulations there are which nnist be 
observed, but it is universally understood that they 
are to be executed on })ro})er occasions, and no one 
imagines that they are all to be put in force every 
day. David was a king charged with the most 
difficult affairs, yet he performed many more exer- 
cises than I have prescribed to you. St. Lewis 


was a prince admirable both in war and peace, and 
one who administered justice, and managed his 
affairs with the most assiduous attention, yet he 
heard two masses every day, said vespers and 
compline with his chaplain, made his meditation, 
visited hospitals every Friday, confessed and took 
the discipline, heard sermons frequently, and held 
very often spiritual conferences ; yet, notwith- 
standing all this, he never saw an occasion of pro- 
moting the public good which he did not improve, 
and diligently put in execution ; and his court was 
more splendid and flourishing than it had ever 
been in the time of his predecessors. Perform, 
then, these exercises as I have marked them out 
for you, and God will give you sufficient leisure 
and strength to perform all your other duties, 
although he should make the sun stand still for 
you, as he did for Josue. We always do enough 
when God works with us. 

The world will perhaps say that I suppose, 
almost throughout the whole work, that Philo- 
thea has the gift of mental prayer ; and yet 
every one has it not ; so that this introduction 
will not serve for all. It is true 1 have made 
this supposition ; it is also true that every one 
has not this gift ; but it is no less true that al- 
most all, even the most ignorant, may have it, 
provided they have good guides, and are will- 
ing to take as much pains to obtain it as it de- 
serves. But, should there be some who have 
not this gift in any degree whatever, which I 
think almost impossible, a prudent spiritual di- 
r«ctor will easily supply that defect, by teaching 


them to read, or to hear others read, the consdi- 
erations inc hided in the meditations with profound 
and close attention. 



|N the first day of every month repeat, after 
your meditations, the protestation inserted in 
the first part, p. 50 ; and at all times protest that 
you are determined to observe it ; saying, with 
David, "No, my God, thy justifications I will 
never forget, for by them thou hast given me 
life." Ps. cxviii. When you feel any disorder 
in your soul take your protestation in hand, and, 
prostrate in the spirit of humility, recite it Avitli 
your whole heart, and you will find great ease 
and comfort. 

Make an open confession, not of being devout, 
but of desiring to become devout. Be no\ 
ashamed to practise those necessary action* 
which conduct the soul to the love of God. Ac- 
knowledge frankly that you would rather die 
than commit a mortal sin ; that you are resolved 
to frequent the sacraments, and to follow the 
counsels of your director, though sometimes it 
may not be necessary to name him ; for this 
candid profession of our desire to serve God, 
end of consecrating ourselves entirely to his love, 


is very acceptable to his divine Majesty, who 
commands us not to be ashamed either of him or 
of liis cross. Besides, it presents many proposals 
and invitations which the world miofht make to 
draw us into the contrary way, and oblige us in 
honor to act according to what we profess. As 
the philosophers professed themselves philoso- 
phers, that they might be suffered to live like 
philosophers ; so we must profess ourselves to 
be desirous of devotion, that we may be suffered 
to live devoutly. If any one tell you that you 
may live devoutly without practising these ad- 
vices and exercises, answer him mildly, that, 
your weakness being so great, you stand i>i need 
of more help and assistance than others. 

In fine, my dearest Philothea, I conjuie you 
by all that is sacred in heaven and on eaifh, by 
the baptism which you have received, by the 
breasts with which Jesus Christ was nourished, by 
the charity with whicn ne loved you, and 1)y 
the bowels of that mercy in which you hope, 
continue to persevere in this blessed enterprise 
of a devout life. Our days glide away, and 
death is at the gate. " The trumpet sounds re- 
treat," says St. Gregory Nazianzen ; "let every 
man be ready, for judgment is near." St. Sym- 
[)horiau's mother, seeing him led to martyrdom, 
cried after him, "My son! remember eternal life, 
look up to heaven, and think upon hmi who 
reigns there ; your approaching end will quickly 
terminate the short career of this life." My Phi- 
lothea, I also will sdy to you, Look up to heaven, 
and do not forfeit it for this despicable earth; 


look down into hell, and do not cast yourself 
into it for transitory joys ; look at Jesus Christ, 
and do not renounce him for the world ; and, 
when the labors of a devout life seem painful to 
you, sing with St. Francis : — 

" How sweet are all those momentary toils, 
Which lead to never-ending heavenly joy ! " 

Live Jesus ! to whom, with the Father and 
Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, now and 
throughout the eiidless ages of eternity. — Amen. 



LERIUS, D.D., PRINTED AT PARIS, 1623, p. 833. 

f^HERE was a great divine who prayed, for the 
'^^ space ot eight years, that God would vouch- 
safe to direct him to a man who might show him 
the way of truth. Now it happened, on a certain 
day, whilst he found his soul excited to offer this 
petition with a more than ordinary fervor, he heard 
a. voice from Heaven, Avhich said to him, " Go out 
to the church porch, and there thou shalt meet 
with a man who will teach thee the way of truth." 
On going thither he found a poor beggar, M'hose 
feet were covered witli »ures, dirt, and mire, and 
all the clothes on his back not worth three far- 
things. Having courteou.sly saluted him , he wished 
him a ffood morning. To which the beffo-ar i"e- 
plied, " I never remember to have had a bad morn- 
ing." — "God prosper you," said the doctor. 
" What say you ? " said the beggar ; " I never was 
otherwise than prosperous." — "I wish you all 
happiness," replied the doctor; "l)ut what do you 
mean by speaking in this manner?" — "Why," 
said the poor man, "I never Avas unhaiip3\" — 
" God bless you," said the doctor ; " explain your- 
self, for I cannot well understand your meaning." 
The poor man answered, "That I shall do very 


willingly. You wished me, master doctor, a good 
morning ; and I answered that I never had a bad 
morning ; for if I am hungry I praise God ; if I 
suffer cold I praise God ; if it hail, snow, or rain, 
if the weather be fair or foul, I give praise to 
God ; if I am miserable and despised by all the 
world, I still give praise to God ; and therefore I 
never met with a bad morning. You also prayed 
that God would prosper me ; to which I answered, 
that I never was otherwise than prosperous ; for, 
having learned to live with God, I know for 
certain that all he does must necessarily be for 
the best ; and therefore whatever happens to me 
by his will, or his permission, whether it be 
pleasant or disagreeable, sweet or bitter, I always 
receive with joy, as coming from his merciful hand, 
for the best ; and therefore I never was otherwise 
than prosperous. You wished me also all happi- 
ness ; and I, in like manner, replied, that I had 
never been unhappy ; for I have resolved to adhere 
to the divine will alone, and have so absolutely 
relinquished self-will as to will always Avhatever 
God wills, and therefore I was never unhappy ; 
for I never desire to have any other will than liis, 
and therefore I resign my will entirely to him." 
" But what w^ould you say," said the doctor, " if it 
should be the will of this Lord of majesty to cast 
you down into the bottomless pit ? " — "How," said 
he, hastily, " cast me down into the bottomless i>it ! 
Why, if he should regally do so, I have two arms, — 
the one of true hunulity, by which I am united to 
his most sacred humanity, which I place under 
him ; the other, which is my right arm of love, hy 


which I am united to his divinity ; and with both 
I would embrace him so closely, and hold him so 
tirmly, that he would be obliged to go down with 
me ; and I would nuich rather choose to be, even 
in hell, Avith God, than in heaven without him." 
From this discourse the doctor learned that true 
resignation, accompanied with profound humility, 
is the shortest way to God. Having afterwards 
asked the beggar, whence he came, he answered, 
'■"From God." — "But where," said the doctor, 
"did you find God?" — "I found him," said he, 
"where I forsook all creatures." — "And where or 
with whom did you leave God ? " said the doctor. 
"I left him," said he, "with the clean of heart, 
dnd amongst men of good will." — ''But I pray 
thee tell me who, or what, art thou." — "I am a 
king," replied he. The doctor further asking him 
where his kingdom was, he replied, "My king- 
dom is in my soul ; for I can govern both my 
exterior and interior senses so absolutely that all 
the affections and forces of my soul are in perfect 
subjection to me ; which kingdom is doubtless 
more excellent than all the kino-doms of this 
world." The doctor asked him how he had at- 
tained to this perfection. He answered, "By 
silence, meditation, and by tending always to an 
union with God ; for I could never rest," said he, 
" in anything less than God ; and now, having found 
him, I enjoy peace and everlasting rest." 



BX 2179 .F8 1513 1920 

Francis, de Sales, 

Saint, 1567-1622. 
Introduction to a devout 

life, to whi ch is 
AVO-2966 (sk)