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THE SERMONS AND CONFERENCES 

OF 

JOHN TAULER 

OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS 

Surnamed 'THE ILLUMINATED DOCTOR" 

BEING 



HIS SPIRITUAL DOCTRINE 

First Complete English Translation with Introduction and Index 



BY 



VERY REV. WALTER ELLIOTT 

Of the Paulitt Fathers 



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'•- EX llDRIf 
ST. BASIL'S SCHOLASTICATE 



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no. ^3^1 t /.v — &/(,/$ a. 



1910 

APOSTOLIC MISSION HOUSE 

Brookland Station 

Washington, D. C. 



APR 25 1952 



•Xthtl nbfitat 

JOSEPH McSORLEY, C. S. P. 

CUM PERMISSU SUPERIORUM 

Nihil nbetat 

JOHN F. FENLON, S. S., D. D. 

Rector Collegii Sancti Augustini, Washington, D. C. 
CENSOR DEPUTATUS 

ihnprtmi putrst 

+ JACOBUS, CARDINALIS GIBBONS 

ARCHEPISCOPUS BALTIMORENSIS 
DIE MARTII XXVII MCMX 
IN DIE SANCTO PASCH/E 





DEDICATION 






This translation is affectionately dedi- 


Gated 


to Father A. P. Doyle, C. 


S. P.. 


without whose zealous and skillful 


CO-OPM- 


ation it could not have been published. 






W. E. 



This Volume is 



No 



of Five Hundred Copies 



Copyright 
Walter Elliott 



l Ijia lEmmettre 3lamea CGaroittal (i&ibbana, Arrhbtatjnp of 
IBalttmor?. 

l i^ia Sxcellennj Siamese iffalratua, Apaatoltr itltgat*. 



{fatrmta among ilj? ArrljbtHijflpH 

2 Most Kev. Jas. H. Blenk, D.D., Archbishop of New Orleans, La. 
4 I Most Eev. J. L. Spalding, D.D., Peoria 111. 

7 y Most Kev. J. M. Farley, D.D., Archbishop of New York 

8 J 

I Most Eev. John Ireland, D.D., Archbishop of St. Paul 

111 

12 

13 

14 

15 

16 

17 

18 

19 

20j 

211 

22 r Most Rev. J. E. Quigley, D.D., Archbishop of Chicago 

231 

oi f Most Rev. J. J. Keane, D.D., Archbishop of Dubuque, Iowa 

25 Most Rev. P. W. Riordan, D.U., Archbishop of San Francisco 



- Most Rev. P. J. Ryan D.D., Archbishop of Philadelphia, Pa. 



l f ColtOD, Rt. Rev. Chas., Bishop of Buffalo 



Corrigan, Rt. Rev. Owen B., Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore. 



Patrotu among th,r SiaijopB 

26 Alerding, Rt. Rev. II. J., Bishop of Fort Wayne, Ind. 

27 Allen, Rt. Rev. Edward, Bishop of Mobile, Ala. 

I Bonacum, Rt. Rev. Thos., Bishop of Lincoln, Neb. 

30 Burke, Rt. Rev. Maurice F., Bishop of St. Joseph, Mo. 

Y Canevin, Rt. Rev. Regis, Bishop of Pittsburg, Pa. 

38 Carroll, Rt. Rev. John P., Bishop of Helena, Mont. 

34 

35. 

86 

87 - Conaty. Rt. Rev. Thos. J., Bishop of Los Angeles, Cal. 

38 

39 

40 

41] 

42,'- Cusack, Rt. Rev. Thos. F., Auxiliary Bishop of New York 

43j 

4*1 Dunne, Rt. Rev. Edw. J., Bishop of Dallas, Texas 

45 

4 g Fox, Rt. Rev., Joseph J., Bishop of Green Bay, Wis. 

47 Garrigan, Rt. Rev. P. J., Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa 

4g Garvey, Rt. Rev. E. A., Bishop of Altoona, Pa. 

W Grace, Rt. Rev. Thos., Bishop of Sacramento, Cal. 

50J 

51 

52 

53 

54 

55 

56 

57 

5cj - Ilarkins. Rt. Rev. Matthew, Bishop of Providence, R. I. 

59 

60 

68 
64 
65 



Haid Et. Eev. Leo, O.S.B., Bishop of North Carolina 
Hennessey, Et. Eev. John, Bishop of Wichita, Kan. 
Heslin, Et. Eev. Thos., Bishop of Natchez, Miss. 

Hoban, Et. Eev. M. J., Bishop of Scranton, Pa. 

Janssens, Et. Eev. John, Bishop of Belleville, 111. 

Koudelka, Et. Eev. Joseph M., Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland 

Keane, Et. Eev. J. J., Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyo. 

75 Maes, Et. Eev. Camillus P., Bishop of Covington, Ky. 

76 Monaghan, Et. Eev. J. J., Bishop of Wilmington, Del. 

77 1 Muldoon, Et. Eev. P. J., Bishop of Eockford, 111. 

78/ 

7 ® l McGolrick, Et. Eev. Jas., Bishop of Duluth, Minn. 
80J 

81 Northrop, Et. Eev. H. P., Bishop of Charleston, S. C. 

82 O'Connell, Et. Eev. D. J., Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco 
831 Prendergast, Et. Eev. E. F., Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, 
84J Pa. 

85 Schinner, Et. Eev. A. F., Bishop of Superior, Wis. 

ft( _ j- Trobec, Et. Eev. James, Bishop of St. Cloud, Minn. 

89 j- Van de Vyver, Et. Eev. A., Bishop of Eichmond. 

90j 

91 Lenihan, Et. Eev. M. C, Great Falls, Mont 

•patnma among tljr JfrHatra 

101 Connolly, Et. Eev. Mgr. J. N., New York 
102 1 Duffy, Et. Eev. Mgr. J. S., Brooklyn, N. Y. 

104] 

105 j- Edwards, Et. Eev. Mgr. John, New York 

106J 



107 
108 
101) Lavelle, Rt. Rev. Mgr. .Michael V. G., New York 

11" 
111 
112 McNamara, Rt. Rev. Mgr. P. J., Brooklyn, N. Y. 

il! McCready, Rt. Rev. Mgr. Charles, New York. 

114 

U5 McGean, Rt. Rev. Mgr. -lames, New York. 

116 McCarty, Rt. Rev. Mgr. Edw., Brooklyn 

117 O'Brien, Rt. Rev. Mgr. John, East Cambridge, Mass. 
Il» Tih.-n. Rt. Rev. Mgr. J. II. Wichita, Kans. 

119 Wall, Rt. Rev. Mgr. P. A., New York 

120 Engel, Rt. Rev. lVter, O.S.B., Collegeville, Minn. 

Patrottfl ammtg % Pmatfi 

124 Bnckley, Rev. .lohn, Delavan, Wis. 

II'.") Bresnahan, Rev. Patrick J., Tallahassee, Fla. 

126 Brosnahan, Rev. Timothy, Waltham, Mass. 

127 Branchean, Rev. L. I)., Lansing, Mich. 

128 Corrigan, Rev. M. P., Dunmore, Pa. 

129 Carroll. Rev. John H., Wallingford, Conn. 

130 Cavanaugh, Very Rev. John, C.S.C., Notre Dame University 
I'M Corrigan, Rev. (Jeorge W., Newark, N. J. 

132 Chidwick, Very Rev. John, St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie. 

133 Coyle, Rev. Richard, LL.T)., Jamestown, N. Y. 

134 Coopman, Rev. A. R., Anaconda, Mont. 

135 Crowe, Very Rev; John W., Rontt College, Jacksonville, 111. 

Connolly, Rev. M. D., San Francisco, Cal. 

Cleary, Rev. J. M., Minneapolis, Minn. 
Carrigan, Rev. J. P., Denver, Col. 
Cnnnion, Rev. Malick, New York 
Coyle, Rev. -lames E., Birmingham, Ala. 
Dobbin, Rev. W. A., Darwin, Minn. 
Driscoll, Rev. J. J., Jerseyville, 111. 
Dixon, Rev. < i. J., Blossbnrg, Pa. 
Dongherty, Kev. James, Canandaigua, N. Y. 



146 Devlin, Kev. Thos., Pittsburg, Pa. 

147 Duggan, Eev. Thos. S., Hartford, Conn. 

148 Dougherty, Kev. W. F., Bronx, New York City 

149 Donnellon, Kev. John J., Erie, Pa. 

150 Dillon, Rev. John J., Albany, N. Y. 

151 Eisler, Rev. Geo. J., Caledonia, N. Y. 

152 Early, Rev. J. L., Hopkinton, Mass. 

153 Ellis, Rev. John H., Sacramento, Cal. 

154 Foley, Rev. Maurice P., St. Augustine, Fla. 

155 Finn, Rev. Thos., Rockford, 111. 

156 Gallagher, Rev. Michael, Washington, D. C. 

157 i Huntman, Rev. Gerard, 405 W. 125th Streeet, New York 

158 J 

159 Hamel, Rev. J. J., Olean, N. Y. 

16°| Hanna, Rev Edward, D.D., Rochester, N. Y. 

162 Hogan, Rev. Thaddeus, Trenton, N. J. 

163 Hackett, Rev. Edw. J., Mobile, Ala. 

164 Hally, Rev. Jas. A., Wyandotte, Mich. 

165 Howlett, Rev. M. J., Loveland, Col. 
166 
167 



169 \ 
170/ 



Jennings, Rev. Gilbert, Cleveland, Ohio 



168 Kress, Rev. William, Stephens, Cleveland, Ohio 



Kirwin, Rev. James, Galveston, Texas. 
Keane, Rev. Francis, Pittsburg, Pa. 



171 1 

172 J 

173 Kehoe, Rev. Francis B., Alton, 111 

174^ 

175 

176 

177 

178 

179 

180 

181 

182 

183 j 

184 Murphy, Rev. J., Decatur, 111 



- Lyons, Very Rev. John V. G., Wilmington, Del. 



I - - 

- Morrissey, Very Rev. Andrew, C.S.C., Notre Dame, Ind. 

187 Moore, Rev. R. T., J.L.I ).. New Britain, Conn. 

' l Murray, Rev. M. J, Eiverdale on Hudson, New York City 
189J 

190 Matutaitis. Rev. \V. V., Grand Rapids, Mich. 

191 Mahoney, Rev. T., South Boston, Mass. 

192 Mahoney, Rev. P. J., D.D., New York. 

193 Moran, Rev. Francis T., Cleveland, Ohio 

194 Moffitt, Rev. James A., Taylor, Pa. 

195 MeGuire, Rev. Hugh, Chicago, 111. 

196 McEvoy, Rev. H., Pittsburg, Pa. 

197 Mclnerney, Rev. Patrick, Kansas City, Kans. 
Ui> McGivney, Rev. P. J., Middletown, Conn. 

199 M .Clean, Rev. Peter, Milford, Conn. 

~V* I- McQuirk, Rev. John, D.D., New York 

202 McQuaid, Rev. W. P., Boston, Mass. 

203 McCall, Rev. M. J., Salem, Mass. 

204 McAdam, Very Rev. W. J., Brooklyn, N. Y. 

205 Noll, Rev. J. P., Hartford City, Ind. 

206 Nihil, Rev. John B., Bridgeport, Conn. 

207 O'Malley, Rev. Peter, Dubuque, Iowa 

2os O'Brien, Rev. James J., Somerville, Mass. 

2QlJ . ( >'Beilly, Very Rev. Jas. T., O.S.A., Lawrence, Mass. 

210. 

211 O'Grady, Rev. Jas., Louisville, Ky. 

212 O'Keefe, Rev. Thos M., New York 

213 | Price, Rev. John, Pittsburg, Pa. 

215 l'yne, Rev. William, Providence, R. I. 

216 Power, Kev. Jas. W., New York 
JIT Phelan, Rev. R. W., Bath, Maine 

218 Phelan, Rev. James, Kansas City, Mo. 

219 Plamondan, Rev. W. A., Burlington, Vt. 

220 Pfeil, Rev. Nicholas, Cleveland, Ohio 

221 I'hilipps, Rev. M., Buffalo, N. Y. 

222 I. .van, Rev. D. J., Auburn, 111. 

223 Ryves, Rev. John. Terre Haute, Ind. 



224 Kosensteel, Eev. T. W., Sharpsburg, Pa. 

225 Eandall, Eev. W. E., St. Louis, Mo. 

226 Smith, Kev. J. T., Omaha, Neb. 

227 Stapleton, Rev. John H., Hartford, Conn. 

228 Shaw, Very Eev. J. W., Mobile, Ala. 

229 Stephan, Eev. J. L., Buffalo, N. Y. 

230 Orosz, Eev. Frederic, Elmhurst, Providence, E. I. 

ooi > Van Dyke, Eev. Ernest, Detroit, Mich. 

2331 y an Antwerp, Eev. Francis J., Detroit, Mich. 
234] 

235 Walsh, Eev. James, Kansas City, Kan. 

236 White, Eev. William, Brooklyn, N. Y. 

237 Wheeler, Eev. Jas., Detroit, Mich. 

238 Salter, Eev. J. B., Spring Valley, N. Y. 

239 Savage, Eev. D., Montgomery, Ala. 
239a Scullin, Eev. Felix, Niagara Falls 

240 Gavisk, Very Eev. Francis H., Indianapolis, Ind. 

241 Hurley, Eev. Geo. Auburn, Mass. 

242 Fitzgerald, Eev. Eobert J., Minneapolis, Minn. 

243a] 

243b [ Coyle, Eev. Denis F., New York 

243cJ 

244 Sweeney, Eev. Edwin M., New York 

245 Tracy, Eev. Joseph V., Boston, Mass. 

246 Quilter, Eev. P. J., Pittsburg, Pa. 

247 McEae, Eev. K. J., Brechin, Ont. 
247a Drumm, Eev. Thos. W., Dubuque, la. 
247b Kittenhoffen, Eev. F. J., St. Johns, Ore. 
247c Kelty, Eev. Wm, Crafton, Pa. 

247d Mulcahy, V. Eev. D. J., Anderson, Ind. 

Itatrottfi among % Srlujtoua fflrtora 

248 Franciscan Fathers, Very Eev. J. B. Stark, New* York 

249 Passionist Fathers, Eev. Bertrand, West Hoboken, N. J. 
249a Benedictine Fathers, Julius, Eev. O. S. B., Bristow, Va. 

250 Benedictine Fathers, Et. Eev. Nepomecene Jaeger, O.S.B., Chi- 

cago, 111. 



261 Benedictine Fathers, Rt. Rev. Frowin Conrad, O.S.B., Concep- 
tion, M<>. 
Benedictine Fathers, Rev. Leonard, Walter, O.S.B., Manches- 
ter. N. II. 

253 Benedictine Fathers, Bt Rev. Abbot Bernard, O.S.B., St. 
Bernards, Ala. 

„ Benedictine Fathers, St. Mary's Abbey, Richardtown, N. D. 
*> J 

Benedictine Fathers, Rt. Rev. Innocent Wolf, O.S.B., St. 
Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, Kan. 
159 Benedictine Fathers, Very Rev. I. Hitmann, St. Procopius 

College, Lisle, 111. 
258a Benedictine Fathers, Rev. P. J. Sittenauer, O.S.B., Atchison, 
Kan. 

259 Benedictine Sisters, St. Mary's, Elk Co., Pa. 
259a Benedict ine Sisters, Erie, Pa. 

260 Benedictine Sisters, Bristow, Va. 

- Benedictine Sisters, Villa Sancta Scholastica, Duluth, Minn. 
2 J 

' ;- Carmelite Sisters, Cor. Caroline and Biddle, Baltimore, Md. 
2 l 
264a Carmelite Bisters, Roxbury, Mass. 

265 Carmelite Sisters, Cor. 18th Street and Victor, St. Louis, Mo. 

266 Carmelite Sisters, 1808 Howell Street, Seattle, Wash. 

267*1 Carmelite Sisters, Discalced, 1236 N. Rampart St., New 

268 J Orleans, La. 

269 Dominican Fathers, Rev. B. F. Logan, Minneapolis, Minn. 

~! I Dominican Fathers, Rev. F. A. Linahan, Springfield, Ky. 

070 i Dominican Fathers, Rev. C. H. McKenna, Lexington Avenue, 
273 N. Y. 

274] Dominican Sisters, Corpus Christi Monastery, Hunts Point, 
275]" N. Y. 

L'7''. 

Dominican Bisters. 13th Avenue and 9th Street, Newark, N. J. 

278 Dominican Sisters, Park Street, Fall River, Mass. 

279 Dominican Sisters, Sacred Heart Academy, Grand Rapids, 

Mich. 



ocan 

t I Dominican Sisters, Aquinas Academy, Tacoma, Wash. 

281 J 

282 Dominican Sisters of Perpetual Rosary, Hale's Corners, Wis. 

2831 

I Dominican Sisters, Jersey City, N. J. 

285 Dominican Sisters, St. Mary's of Springs, Shepard, Ohio 
«*85a ^ 

ockk r Dominican Sisters, Detroit, Mich. 

2oOD I 

286 Franciscan Fathers, Very Eev. Edw. Blecke, Paterson, N. J. 

287 Franciscan Sisters, Maryland Avenue, Baltimore, Md. 

288 Fathers of Blessed Sacrament, Eev. F. Letellier, E. 76th Street, 

New York 

289 Helpers of Holy Souls, E. 86th Street, New York 

2901 

± Jesuit Fathers, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo. 

292 Jesuit Fathers, College of Sacred Heart, Denver, Col. 

293 Religious of Sacred Heart, Rev. Mother Dupont, Chicago 

294 Religious of Sacred Heart, Lake Forest, 111. 

295 l Marist Fathers, Dr. Gunn, S. M., Atlanta, Ga. 
296J 

297 Marist Fathers, Rev. J. Guinan, S.M., All Hallows, Salt Lake 

City 

298 Norbertine Fathers, Very Rev. Pennings, West de Pere, Wis. 

299 Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Very Rev. H. A. Constantineau, 

San Antonio, Texas 

300 Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Brownsville, Texas 

301 Passionist Fathers, Brighton, Mass. 

3021 

r Passionist Fathers, Normandy, Mo. 

_ . .1 

Passionist Fathers, Very Rev. Stanislaus, Grennan, West 

Hoboken, New Jersey 

Paulist Fathers, W. 59th Street, New York 

Paulist Fathers, Austin, Texas 

Paulist Fathers, San Francisco, Cal. 

Redemptorist Fathers, Very Rev. Caspar Ritter, New York 

Redemptorist Fathers, Very Rev. Francis Klauder, Annapolis 

Redemptorist Fathers, Very Rev. J. J. Frawley, Brooklyn, N. Y. 



Sisters of Mercy, St. Mary's Hospital, San Francisco, Cal. 



316 Bedemptorisl Fathers, Very Rev. Jas. Hayes, Mission Church, 

Boston, Mass. 

317 Sisters of Mercy, Sister M. de Sales, Xavier Park, Chicago 

318 Sisters of Mercy, Manchester, N. H. 

319 Sisters of Mercy, Freeman Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 
820 Sisters of Mercy, Sr. Rosalia, Cincinnati, Ohio 

321 Bisters of Mercy, Mother M. Vincent, St. Bernard's Hospital, 

Council Bluffs, Iowa 

B22 Sisters <>f Mercy, St. Joseph's Academy, Sacramento, Cal. 
323 
324 
325 
32b] 
327J 

::.> Sisters of Mercy, Altoona, Pa. 

829 sisters of Mercy, Sister M. Antonio, St. Xavier, Beatty, Pa. 

330 Sisters of Mercy, Sister M. Louise, East Oakland, Cal. 

331 Sisters of the Visitation, Brooklyn, N. Y. 

332~\ 

"l Sisters of the Visitation, Wilmington, Del. 
333 J 

:: :i Sisters of the Visitation, Cabanne Place, St. Louis, Mo. 

3351 

, j- Sisters of the Visitation, Mount de Chantal, Wheeling, W. Va. 

837 Sisters of the Visitation, Riverdale on Hudson, New York 

837s Sisters of the Visitation, Elfindale, Springfield, Mo. 

3381 

339 j" Sisters of the Visitation, St. Paul, Minn. 

3401 

341 r Sisters of Charity, Mount St. Vincent's on Hudson, New York 

342J, 

343 Sisters of Charity, Mount St. Joseph, Cincinnati, Ohio 

844 Sisters of Charity, Mount Seton, Greensburg, Pa. 

846 Sisters of Charity, St. Mary's Academy, Leavenworth, Kans. 

346 Sisters of Charity of Blessed Virgin, Mount St. Joseph's Col. 

lege, Dubuque, Iowa 

317 Sisters of Notre Dame, Dayton, Ohio 

848 Sisters of Notre Dame, Grandin Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 



„_ ft i- Sisters of Providence, St. Mary's of Woods, Vigo County, Ind. 

3511 

o-oj" Sisters of St. Joseph, 4th and Jackson, Troy, N. Y. 

353 | 

354 1 

355 |- Sisters of St. Joseph, Carondelet, St. Louis, Mo. 
356' 
357 

I Sister of Presentation, Holy Family Institute, Fitchburg, Mass. 

oDa J 

3601 

« fi1 >■ Sisters of Presentation, Sacred Heart Academy, Fargo, N. D. 

362 1, 

363 J- Sisters Poor Clare, Sr. M. Coletta, Abbess, Chicago, 111. 

364 J 

365 Sisters Poor Clare, Omaha, Neb. 

366 Sisters of Holy Names, Webster Street, Oakland, Cal. 

367 Servants of Mary, Mount St. Mary, Cherokee, Iowa 

\- Sisters of Good Shepherd, Gravois Avenue, St. Louis, Mo. 
obyj 

370 Sisters of Precious Blood, Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn, N. Y. 

3711 
7 y Sisters of Loretto, Nerinx, P. O., Ky. 

373 Sisters of Holy Childhood, Mother Ethelburga, New York 

3741 

_ r Ursuline Sisters, Columbia, S. C. 

376 Ursuline Sisters, Mother Jerome, Paola, Kan. 

377 Resurrectionist Fathers, Rev. Michael Jaglowicz, C. R., St. 

Mary's, Ky. 

378 Josephite Fathers, Rev. Justin McCarthy, Baltimore, Md. 

379 Les Religieuses Dominicaines, Billancourt, France 

380 Visitation Sisters, Mobile, Ala. 

381 Carmelite Sisters, Philadelphia, Pa. 

3821 

383/ 

384 Sisters of Mercy, Pittsburg, Pa., Mother Gertrude 

385 Paulist Fathers, Winchester, Tenn. 

386 Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor, New York 



Dominican Sisters Mission, San Jose, Cal. 



I Caffrey, J. J. 1320 S. Floyd Street, Louisville, Ky. 



87 Bentley, Rev. <». I... Copenhagen, New York 
388 Bnber, Rev. 1... C.P.P.S., Dayton, Ohio 
Delany, Rev. Joseph P., IU>.. New York 

390 Kelly. Tims. B.. New York 

395 Gereet, Rev. Regie. O. P., Cienfuegos, Cuba 

392 Dooley, Ki*v. Patrick, St. Louis, Mo. 

393 Fenlon, \ erj Rev. John F., S. S., Washington, D. C. 

JJatrmtH among tty iCaity 

100 Burritt, .Miss Mary L. St. Regis House, New York 

4IU Boyle, .lames J., Mauch Chunk, Pa. 

402 Brown, Edward Osgood, Chicago, 111. 

103 Campbell Napoleon, Northampton, Mass. 

in I Coyle, John G., M. D., New York 

in." Coyle, John A., Attorney at Law, Lancaster, Pa. 

406] 

407 

408 

409 

410 

411 Daly, Daniel, New York 

411! Dunphy, James W., Eoxbury, Mass. 

4141 

Kmmet, Thos. Addis, M. D., New York 

415J 

416 Finlay, Miss Alice, New York 

117 Frawley, Uon. James J., Senate, Albany, N. Y T . 

1 1 s Pahy, Thos A., Philadelphia, Pa. 

419 Fenton, T. E., Boone, Iowa 

420 Urifliss Mrs., Baltimore, Md. 
41'U 
422 
423 
424 
425 

4 20 J- Grady, Hon. Thos F., New York Senate, New York 
427 

42* 

429 Sealy, Mrs. Martha E., Preston, Minn. 






- Oallagher, E. P., Philadelphia, Pa. 



430 Hartigan, John J., Troy, N. Y. 

431 

432 

433 }- Hirst, A. A., Philadephia, Pa. 

434 

435 

436 Haas, Michael S., Baltimore, Md. 

437 Horstmann, Ignatius J., Philadelphia, Pa. 

438 Kelly, J. F., North Tonawanda, N. Y. 

439 King, James W., Philadelphia, Pa. 
410 Lally, P. E. C, Uenison, Iowa. 

441 Meighen, Thos. J., Preston, Minn. 

442 Murphy, The John Co., Baltimore, Md. 

443 Murrin, Jas. B., Carbondale, Pa. 

444 McAleer, George, M. D., Worcester, Mass. 

445 McNainee, John, Brooklyn, N. Y. 

446 Mahoney, Daniel H., Philadelphia, Pa. 

447 McPartland, John E., New Haven, Conn. 

448 O'Halloran, D., St. Paul, Minn. 

4491 

450J 

451| 

452/ 

453 Quinn, P. H., Providence, R. I. 

454 Roesch, Hon. Geo. F., Municipal Court, New York 

fJHiV Routt, Harvey John, Jacksonville, 111. 
456 J 

457) Storer, Miss Agnes, Newport, R. I. 
458/ 

459 Sloan, Peter Elendorf, Greystone Park, N. J. 

460 Scanlan, P. B., El Paso, Texas 

461 Shriver, C. C, Metropolitan Savings Bank, Baltimore, Md. 

462 Smith, Thos R., Philadelphia, Pa. 

n \ Sullivan, Alexander, Chicago, 111. 
464J 

465 Thompson, Katherine Beach, New York 

466 Reilly, Richard M., Lancaster, Pa. 

467 Roe, J. A., Detroit, Mich. 

468 McCusker, Bernard E., Troy, N. Y. 



Prendergast, James M., Boston, Mass. 
Prendergast, W. A., Comptroller, New York City 



169 Amberg, \V. A., Chicago, 111. 

-i To Penneasey, Capt. Jeremiah G., Court House, Boston, Mass. 

471 Flaherty, James A., Supremo Knight K. of C, 1'hiladelpbia, Pa. 

472 Berrick, John P., M.D. 

17:: Cullen, Hon. Thos. 11.. Brooklyn, N. Y 

17 1 Cronin, Hon. Barth, Senate, Albany, N. Y. 

17.") Hodson, [ngo Bernard, Montclova, Mexico 

176 Baiden, Hon. Thos. C, Senate, Albany, N. Y. 

*i' I Von Hoffman, Baroness, Oberniais, Tyrol 

I7:» Ryan, .M. P., Chicago, 111. 

180 Wakelin, Catherine, Allegheny, Pa. 

181 M (Oscar. Edward J., M. D., Fort Wayne, Ind. 



H2 
4^3 



Cary, Miss Ehnma P., Cambridge, Mass. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Page 

Introduction 3 

The History of the Reverend Master John Tauler 9 

The Interview of Master John Tauler With a Beggar 49 

Advent and Its Lessons — Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent 51 

Going Into the Dessert to Find God — Sermon for the Third Sunday of 

Advent 55 

Unity and Multiplicity — Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent 61 

The Three Births of Christ — First Sermon for the Feast of Christmas. . 66 
The Four Dwelling Places of Christ — Second Sermon for the Feast of 

Christmas 72 

The Generation of the Word in a Perfect Soul — Sermon for the Sunday 

After Christmas 75 

Lessons for the New Year — Sermon for New- Year's Day 83 

The Holy Trinity in the Soul's Essence — Sermon for the Sunday After 

New Year's 87 

The Day of Perfection — First Sermon for the Vigil of the Epiphany 96 

Seeking for God — Second Sermon for the Vigil of the Epiphany 101 

How Bitter Myrrh is Turned into Sweet Incense — First Sermon for the 

Feast of the Epiphany 103 

How Ignorance Leads to Wisdom — Second Sermon for the Feast of the 

Epiphany 107 

God's Light in the Soul — Third Sermon for the Feast of the Epiphany. . . 113 
God is Gained by Detachment from Creatures — Sermon for the First Sun- 
day After the Epiphany 117 

How Men Thrist After God Differently — Sermon for the Second Sunday 

After the Epiphany 124 

The Ftve Porches of the Pool of Healing — Sermon for the Third Sunday 

After the Epiphany 131 

Marks of a Truly Converted Soul — Sermon for the Fourth Sunday After 

the Epiphany 137 

The Yoke of Christ is the Soul's Thought of God — Sermon for the Fifth 

Sunday After the Epiphany 144 

Signs of a True Scholar of Christ — Sermon for the Sixth Sunday After 

the Epiphany 149 

The Different Degrees of Spirituality— Sermon for Septuagesima Sun- 
day 152 

Not Our Own, but God's Activity Makes Us Perfect — Sermon for Sexa- 

gesima Sunday 160 

Suffering a Condition for Interior Progress — Sermon for Quinquagesima 

Sunday 164 

Gradations of Merit — Sermon for Ash Wednesday 171 

True and False Spiriiuality Compared — Sermon for the First Sunday of 

Lent , , . , . . 180 



TABLE OF CONTENTS— Continued 

Page 

The Hi iumf.nts of Perfection— First Sermon for the Second Sunday of 

Lent • 192 

lh tanrsM as an Element 01 I )evotion— Second Sermon for the Sec- 
ond Sunday of Lent 19i 

ciini'KKN or Abraham: True and False— Sermon for the Third Sunday 

of Lent 202 

JESUS THE l'<xrs ok Divine Light— First Sermon for the Fourth Sunday 

of Lent 206 

Tin: Soil's FESTIVAL Day— Second Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Lent 211 

IUahi.m. and Bleeding fob Christ— First Sermon for Passion Sunday 216 

< u 1 h siring to ex Perfect — Second Sermon for Passion Sunday 222 

Bhori Ci is to Holiness — First Sermon for Palm Sunday 225 

Chbibt's <i eansing of the Temple of the Soul — Second Sermon for Palm 

Sunday ^28 

l i bsoiib OF Christ's Passion — First Sermon for Good Friday 233 

How <;oi> Draws Soils to Himself — Second Sermon for Good Friday 239 

I'mon With God — Sermon for Easter Sunday : First Part 242 

Union With God — Sermon for Easter Sunday : Second Part 248 

The DE6REE8 of Love — Sermon for Easter Monday 251 

The Qualities of Love — Sermon for Thursday in Easter Week 259 

The Call to Peace — First Sermon for Low Sunday 261 

Prayers Outward and Inward — Second Sermon for Low Sunday 26S 

The Winter of the Soul — Sermon for the Second Sunday After Easter... 271 
The Paraclete's Judgment Against the World — First Sermon for the 

Fourth Sunday After Easter 277 

Hindering the Coming of the Holy Ghost — Second Sermon for the Fourth 

Sun. lay After Easter 282 

Why Prayer is Without Fruit — Sermon for the Rogation Days 287 

Why Christ Upbraids Men — First Sermon for the Feast of the Ascension. 293 

The Suit's Five Captivities — Second Sermon for the Feast of the Ascension 299 

How to Ascend with Christ into Heaven — Third Sermon for the Feast of 

the Ascension 304 

IIdw We Witness to Christ in Unrest and Suffering — Fourth Sermon 

f«>r the Feast of the Ascension 309 

The Exchange of Matthias for Judas in the Inner Life — Fifth Sermon 

for the Feast of the Ascension 314 

Prudence and Praying— Sermon for the Sunday After the Ascension 317 

Preparing to Receive the Holy Ghost — First Sermon for the Feast of 

Pentecost 322 

Giving God Unhindered Liberty in the Soul — Second Sermon for the 

Feast of Pentecost 328 

Tin GIFTS of the Holy Ghost— Third Sermon for the Feast of Pentecost. 334 
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep — Fourth Sermon for the Feast of 

Pentecost 342 

The Apostles Before Pentecost — Fifth Sermon for the Feast of Pentecost 346 

THE I >ra\vin<; of the Holy Ghost— Sixth Sermon for Pentecost 349 

Knowing God— First Sermon for Trinity Sunday 357 

The Trinity and the Interior Life— Second Sermon for Trinity Sunday. . 362 



TABLE OF CONTENTS— Continued 

Page 

^--^^On Holy Communion — First Sermon for the Feast of Corpus Christi 36S 

Dispositions for Holy Communion — Second Sermon for the Feast of 

Corpus Christi 371 

The Dignity and Worth of Holy Communion — Third Sermon for the 

Feast of Corpus Christi 383 

The Fruit of Holy Communion — Fourth Sermon for the Feast of Corpus 

Christi 390 

Foretastes of Heaven— Sermon for the Second Sunday After Trinity 397 

-?-Three Foundation Stones: Humility, Love and Detachment — First Ser- 
mon for the Third Sunday After Trinity 401 

Four Classes of Sinners — Second Sermon for the Third Sunday After 

Trinity 410 

God's Deep Searching of Our Souls — Third Sermon for the Third Sunday 

After Trinity 417 

Patience with Men and Patience with God — First Sermon for the Fourth 

Trinity 442 

Giving God Good Measure — Second Sermon for the Fourth Sunday After 

Trinity 42S 

Prayer, Vocal and Mental — First Sermon for the Fifth Sunday After 
J _— Trinity 434 

Fishing in Deep Waters — Second Sermon for the Fifth Sunday After 

Trinity 442 

Interior Obedience to God — Third Sermon for the Fifth Sunday After 

Trinity 448 

From the Alpha to the Omega of Perfection — Sermon for the Sixth 

Sunday After Trinity 453 

Who May Go Often to Communion — Sermon for the Seventh Sunday 

After Trinity 460 

The Inspirations of Grace — Sermon for the Eighth Sunday After Trinity 464 

Fidelity in Little Things — First Sermon for the Tenth Sunday After 

Trinity 472 

Election and Reprobation — Second Sermon for the Tenth Sunday After 

Trinity 477 

Hindering and Helping a Worthy Communion — Sermon for the Eleventh 

Suuday After Trinity 482 

How Patience Begets Hope and Love — First Sermon for the Twelfth Sun- 
day After Trinity 490 

Spiritual Deafness — Second Sermon for the Twelfth Sunday After 

Trinity 491 

Spiritual Blindness — First Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday After 

Trinity 49S 

The Inner Revelation — Second Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday After 

Trinity 504 

In What Way a Perfect Man is Like God — Sermon for the Fourteenth 

Sunday After Trinity 511 

Ideals High and Low — First Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday After Trinity 514 

Trusting God — Second Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday After Trinity. . 521 
The Dimensions of the Soul — Third Sermon for the Fifteenth Sunday 

After Trinity 527 



TABLE OF CONTENTS— Continued 

Page 

Bfi.innkrs, Proficients and the Perfect — First Sermon for the Sixteenth 

Sunday After Trinity 535 

Peaci Through Patience and Mkekness — Second Sermon for Sixteenth 

Sunday After Trinity 540 

1\\\am> Pharisaism — Sermon for the Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity.. 544 
Renewal of Spirit — Sormon for the Eighteenth Sunday After Trinity.... 552 
A i iikim, iiik Bride for the Bridegroom — First Sermon for the Nineteenth 

Sunday After Trinity 559 

Laying the Axe to the Roots of Imperfection — Second Sermon for the 

Nineteenth Sunday After Trinity 564 

i >\ Ti mii AiiciNs Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday After Trinity 570 

Tin Wide Sweep of Love — Sermon for the Twenty-first Sunday After 

Trinity 575 

Sin Deception, Its Cause and Its Cure — First Sermon for the Twenty- 
third Sunday After Trinity 582 

God Alone— Second Sermon for the Twenty-third Sunday After Trinity 580 
Dwelling with God- Sermon for the Feast of St. Andrew, the Apostle.. 593 
I M mini; Honestly with God — Sermon for the Feast of St. Barbara, or for 

that of any Virgin 600 

Holy Severity with Self — Sermon for the Feast of Our Lady's Coneep- 

t ion 604 

A Dying Life Sermon for the Feast of St. Stephen 610 

Si 1 1 I in i iiKix and Its Root — Sermon for the Feast of Our Lady's Nativity 620 
Mystical Prayer — Sermon for the Feast of Our Lady's Visitation, or for 

the o.tave of Her Nativity 625 

Christian Purity — Sermon for the Feast of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr 631 

The VIRGINAL State — Sermon for the Feast of St. Agatha, Virgin and 

Martyr 636 

Mary's Place in the Incarnation — Sermon for the Feast of the Annuncia- 
tion of Our Blessed Lady 640 

Sim Revelation- First Sermon for the Feast of the Nativity of St. John 

the Baptist 646 

Con the Light or the Son. — Second Sermon for the Feast of the Nativity 

..I" St. John the Baptist , 654 

Fraternal Correction — Sermon for the Feast of St. Timothy 663 

ii mNG off Superfluities — Sermon for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene. 667 

Guidanci : Human and Divine— Sermon for the Feast of St. Lawrence, 

Martyr 676 

Watching fob Friends and Enemies — Sermon for the Feast of St. Augus- 
tine 683 

The Supri m acy oi the < uoss ok Christ — First Sermon for the Feast of the 

Exaltation of the Holy Cross 680 

Interior Cructfiction— Second Sermon for the Feast of the Exaltation of 

the Holy Cross 693 

Jesus fine nun Third Sermon for the Feast of the Exaltation of the 

Holy Cross 700 

Giving Up All Sermon for the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evange- 
list 705 



TABLE OF CONTENTS— Continued 

Paqe 

The Holy Angels — Sermon for the Feast of St. Michael and all Holy 

Angels 711 

The Beatitudes — First Sermon for the Feast of all Saints 716 

Interior Cleanliness — Second Sermon for the Feast of all Saints 724 

Perfection the Pearl of Great Price — Sermon for the Feast of St. Cath- 
erine, Virgin and Martyr 72S 

How Holy Love Joins Us to the Three Divine Persons — Sermon for the 

Feast of all the Holy Apostles 733 

The Suffering of a Bloodless Martyrdom and its Crown — Sermon for 

the Feast of Many Holy Martyrs 738 

How to Meet Temptations — Sermon for the Feast of a Holy Martyr 744 

On Human Respect — Sermon for the Feast of a Holy Bishop Confessor.. 751 

The Mistake of Turning Outward Instead of Inward — Sermon for a 

Feast of Many Holy Confessors 758 

-**■ The Triple Crown of Holy Love : Self-abnegation, Patience and Earn- 
estness — Sermon for a Feast of Many Holy Virgins 762 

Human Nature Depraved and Sanctified — First Sermon for the Adver- 
sary of the Dedication of a Church 768 

Faith as a Practical Means of Sanctification — Second Sermon for the 

Anniversary of the Dedication of a Church 772 

Two Useful Instructions About Confession 776 

On the Attributes of God 778 



Spiritual Doctrine of John Tauler 



The Sermons and Conferences 
of John Tauler 



OF THE 



ORDER OF PREACHERS 



Surnamed "The Illuminated Doctor" 



FIRST COMPLETE ENGLISH TRANSLATION 
WITH INTRODUCTION AND INDEX 

By Rev. Walter Elliott 

Of the Paulist Father- 



APOSTOLIC MISSION HOUSE 
Brook land Station 
Washington, D. C. 



APR 25 1952 



||owamtttWoif| 



INTRODUCTION. 

John Tauler was born in the city of Strassburg about the year 
1290. His family was in easy circumstances, his father, as it is sur- 
mised, having been a member of the city council. At eighteen years 
of age, or even earlier, John entered the Dominican novitiate in his 
native city, a young man full of religious fervor, and endowed with 
high intellectual gifts. His order gave him the best possible educa- 
tion, sending him to their greater house of studies at Cologne, and 
perhaps to their famous school at the University of Paris. Besides 
profiting by the usual scholastic training in the spirit and letter of 
St. Thomas Aquinas, Tauler, it is noted, became well versed in the 
Fathers of the Church, especially St. Augustine. He merited and 
obtained his order's highest diploma, that of Master of Sacred Theol- 
ogy. He soon manifested a taste for the mystics, studying St. 
Dionysius, St. Bernard, and Hugo and Richard of St. Victor with 
characteristic ardor. 

This mystical tendency was strengthened by personal association 
with men of like tastes, some of them of the highest degree of 
spirituality, mostly members of his own order. On his return to 
Strassburg at the end of his studies, Tauler entered into familiar 
friendship with Master Eckhart, a leading spirit of that day, and 
also with Blessed Henry Suso, one of the most beautiful religious 
characters of the era. Both were distinguished Dominicans. Their 
influence on their young friend and brother was powerful and 
permanent. 

Tauler's lot was cast in troubled times, the epoch of the papal 
residence at Avignon, to be followed not long after his death by the 
Great Western Schism. Churchmen, monarchs and statesmen, of 
every degree of sincerity or of treachery, kept the whole Christian 
world in a state of conflict the most tremendous, perhaps, the Church 
ever experienced. Their good deeds and their misdeeds monopolize 
nearly every page of the history of the times. But the activity of the 
humble saints, missionaries and mystics of this era, including such 
various types as Tauler, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Vincent 
Ferrer, accounts for the final settlement of the Church's difficulties 
more adequately than all the expedients of statecraft. In the supreme 
work of preaching Jesus crucified, and of enforcing the maxims of 



The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



the Goepel, Tauler's place was very important He was one of many 
greal preachers in the Rhine country, members of the religious orders 
and of the secular clergy, who labored incessantly to divert men's 
gaie from the perplexed external condition of religious affairs, to the 
:„• glories of the interior life of God in their own soul. Though 
preaching in Latin to an occasional audience of the educated, Tauler 
usually preached in the rough German dialect of his day to all 
classes of Hie people, and with a power seldom equaled. 

His field of activity was all lower Germany, especially along the 
Rhine between Basel and Cologne; and his opportunity was given him 
by his greal and learned order, which was everywhere venerated, and 
which had houses and churches in most of the larger towns. 

The least acquaintance with Tauler's sermons show^s him to have 
the ideal preacher. With soundness of Catholic faith and its 
simplest spirit he combined real learning, gentleness of heart, and 
dignity as well as fearlessness of address. It is true that his denun- 
ciation of the vices prevalent at the time verged on the extravagant 
ami excited hostile criticism. On one occasion some of his violent 
sermons caused his Dominican brethren of the convent in which he 
was stationed — no cowards themselves, we may be sure — to forbid 
him their pulpit. But the people, including many whom Tauler had 
scourged for their vices, petitioned the friars to remove the prohibi- 
tion. They did so, gladly enough, we venture to say. But this inci- 
dent is fine testimony to our mystic's mingled kindliness and boldness. 
In fact, he or any other preacher could do little good in those 
desperate days, without giving offense to the timid and time-serving. 
Such is the fate of all who assail popular errors and vices. 

Rut these sermons on popular themes, wdth some exceptions of 
doubtful authenticity, have not come down to us. What w r e have 
are Tauler's ascefical and mystical discourses, a priceless treasure 
for souls who are seeking by the more interior methods to make 
themselves wholly responsive to the divine guidance. 

These are the only ones that critics generally will allow to be his. 
They treat of the life of the counsels of perfection, the virtues to be 
practiced if one would become entirely pleasing to God, the spirit 
of holy living as well as the various methods to be adopted. They 
were addressed to religious communities, mostly in convents of 
Dominican nuns. Rut it is plain that they were not strictly private 
conferences, but rather sermons delivered in the public oratories of 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 



these communities, in the main room of which were assembled con- 
gregations of the people, including both clergy and laity, the sisters 
meanwhile being inside their cloister whose grating formed one side 
of the sanctuary. To the zeal of these nuns principally, if not 
wholly, we are indebted for what is known as Tauler's sermons, 
meaning his spiritual doctrine. They made notes of his preaching 
and afterwards compared and arranged them. This was done with 
much intelligence as to ordinary ascetical and mystical matters, 
though with some defects as to theological terms and passages of 
Scripture. 

As to Tauler's life, the reader is referred to the brief History which 
precedes his Sermons in this book. Therein is given an account of the 
most important event in his spiritual career. Perhaps he himself 
would call it his second conversion to a life of perfection. There 
also will be found a touching account of his death. 

Tauler has been accused of being a forerunner of Martin Luther; 
of having openly disobeyed the Pope and defied his authority; and of 
having joined an heretical association called the Friends of God. 
But he is held guiltless of all these accusations by the best critics, 
especially by the more recent historical students, including both 
Catholics and non-Catholics. 

Tauler's activity in later life centered at the Dominican house at 
Cologne, in which city he preached incessantly for many years, the 
''eight years" mentioned in the History, referring only to the last 
eight years of his life. He was also confessor and spiritual director 
of a convent of Dominican nuns in Cologne. But at the end he 
returned to Strassburg. He died there June 16, 1361, and was buried 
in the Dominican convent. 

Tauler's fame rests solely upon the solid and magnificent foundation 
of the sermons here given for the first time in English.* The little 

* Twenty-five of them were translated into English by Miss Maria Winkworth, 
a Protestant lady, and published in England in 1857. These are less than one 
fourth of all the sermons, and the translator expressly excluded the more dis- 
tinctively Catholic ones. As to the spirit and tone of that translation, it is 
enough for Catholics to know that Charles Kingsley was chosen to write the 
preface to the book. 

A translation of thirty-five of the sermons has lately been procured and 
published by an Anglican clergyman, Mr. Arthur Wallaston Hutton. It is con- 
ceived and executed in a true spirit of fairness. The little book is useful, and 
the editor and translator are worthy of thanks and praise. 

For a very able vindication of Tauler against the claims of Protestants and 
the suspicions of certain Catholics, our readers are referred to a masterly and 
learned article by the English Oratorian, Father J. B. Dalgairns, Dublin Review 
March, 1858. 



6 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

hook known ai Tauter^ Imitation of Christ, is undoubtedly spurious. 
A few brief spiritual letters to nuns and some little ascetical instruc- 
tions, together with some short devout poetical pieces, may rightly 
iscribed to him. The Divinae Enstitntiones so often quoted as his, 
are but a collection of maxims drawn from Ruysbroek and other 
mystics no less than from Tauler's Sermons. A book of Meditations 
on our Saviour's Passion, attributed to him, has recently been given an 
English dress under the learned and sympathetic editorship of the 
late Father Bertrand Wilberforce, O. P. The book is worthy of our 
great author and has some of the characteristics of his powerful 
style. Hut its authenticity lacks extrinsic evidence. 

In tin- spring <»f L904 we engaged a friend to make an English 
version of these Sermons; but when that failed to give satisfaction 
we ventured upon the task ourselves, constantly being drawn nearer 
to Tauler by the attraction of his wisdom and force. And now with 
God's favor we offer the result of many delightful hours of labor to 
the devout Catholic public. We have used Dr. Julius Bamberger's 
modernized German edition (Frankfurt am Main, 1864), adhering as 
closely as possible to his rendering. Sainte-Foi's fine French trans- 
lation i Haiis, 1855) has also been consulted, together with a very 
early edition of Surius's Latin version (1553). 

It must be understood that a translator of these Sermons is some- 
times compelled to interpret them. Not any part of them was pub- 
lished by Tan lei- himself, for, as we have seen, they are an assortment 
of notes taken down by some of his auditors, persons zealous and 
intelligent, indeed, but plainly lacking in theological training. This 
lias left us with occasional awkward statements of doctrine to deal 
with and misplaced quotations of Scripture. Besides this general 
difficulty, Tauler occasionally is made to use terms open to misun- 
derstanding on various other grounds, especially in view of the errors 
of quietism condemned by the Holy See in the seventeenth centurv.* 



•The reader would do well to begin this book with the sermon for the first 
Bunday of Lent, for in that, especially the second half of it, will be found 
Tauler's Blngularly explicit adherence to the approved doctrines on the subject 
Of contemplative prayer. With that sermon in his mind one may go from begin- 
ning to end of our volume with a perfect safeguard against misunderstandings on 
tiie score of quietism 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 



All of which necessitates interpretation. This has always been 
done by his translators and editors, and in different ways; some- 
times by foot notes, again by sentences of their own placed in the text 
in brackets, and at other times by incorporating Tauler's own words 
used elsewhere but in the same connexion — his exact words or their 
equivalent. Some passages of the original German are so obscure, 
even meaningless, that they are usually entirely omitted in the 
translations. Now and then Taulers' extravagance in assailing evil 

doers does not suffer literal translation into English, however much 
one may admire his sincerity and his splendid vehemence. 

No effort has been spared to make this English version as perfect a 
reflex of the German original as our literary deficiencies allow. It 
may be added that in Dr. Hamburger's edition there are a few 
sermons which he agrees are not Tauler's; we have not translated 
these. 

A reader not familiar with the mystics may object that Tauler 
constantly repeats himself — if not verbally, at least substantially — 
in these discourses. So he does. But so does the medical professor 
repeat his instructions as he walks the hospital wards with his class. 
Over and over again does he explain the same disease, symptom for 
symptom — but yet rarely suggesting identically the same treatment 
and remedies. For though the malady is the same the patients 
greatly differ one from another, and each requires some change of 
treatment, each case affords something new to be learned about the 
common disease. It is so with Tauler in teaching us the cure of spirit- 
ual ailments, and the building up of the newly recovered soul into 
perfect holiness. No doubt there is frequent repetition of the chief 
means of perfection, but with an infinite variety of personal appli- 
cation and of illustration, enlisting the renewed and unfailing interest 
of the student of the soul's welfare. 

We heartily recommend these sermons to all who aspire to whole- 
hearted service of God, whether they are led into mystical states of 
prayer or not. They will find Tauler a master of the entire course 
between repentance from grievious sin and ecstatic union with God. 
He is as serviceable a guide in the ordinary degrees of the asceticai 
life as in those of high contemplation, ever coupling the two states 
together into an integral Christian career. 



The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



si. Paul of the doss was certainly a competent judge of the worth 
of all kinds of spiritual writings; for besides being (as every saint 
must be) a contemplative, he was also a most practical leader in the 
devoul ways common to all fervent souls. And in advising one of his 
Passionista about bearing the stress of care and disappointment inci- 
dent to the office of rector, St. Paul says of our author: "My dear 
Father rector, now is the time to dwell in the depth of Tauler. I 
in. .in in interior solitude, and to take the repose of love in sinu Dei. 
There you will learn to perform well the duties of your office of 
rector, and to become a saint." And much more praise of Tauler is 
added bj the saint. (Oratorian Life of St. Paul of the Cross, Vol. II. 
Ch. X 1 1. The same testimony is borne by many other devout writers — 
that Tauler is a most enlightened and trustworthy guide to Christian 
perfection in all its grades; and that he is especially helpful in 
showing the simplest and shortest way, namely steadfast self-abnega- 
tion, joined to restful acquiescence in God's outward good pleasure, 
as well as ready responsiveness to the inward touches of divine 
grace. 

The Translator. 

The Apostolic Mission House, 
Washington, D. G. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 9 



THE HISTORY OF THE REVEREND MASTER JOHN TAULER. 



CHAPTER FIRST. 

In the year of Christ 1340, a certain Master in sacred theology was 
engaged in preaching in a certain city. He was listened to gladly, 
and his teaching was spoken of for many miles around. Now it hap- 
pened that a layman, a man rich in grace, was admonished in sleep 
that he should go to that city and hear that preacher; and this 
message came to him three times. The city, however, was thirty miles 
away, and was in a different country. But this man said to himself: 
Thou shalt go there and wait upon God as to that He wills thee to do. 
So he went and he heard the Master preach five times. Upon this 
God gave him to understand that the Master was of a sweet disposi- 
tion, kindly and good hearted by nature, with a good mind, and well 
versed in Scripture; but that as to the light of grace, he was dark. 
This deeply aroused the man's pity for him, and he went to him and 
said: "My dear good Master, I have journeyed thirty miles for thy 
sake, for I wanted to hear thee preach. I have heard thee five times; 
and now I beg thee for God's love to hear my confession." The master 
said: "Gladly." Then the man made his confession very simply, and 
as he wished to receive the Lord's body, the Master gave it to him. 
Twelve weeks passed away; and then the man said to the Master: 
"Dear Sir, I ask thee, in God's name, to preach, and to explain to us 
the closest place to God and the highest perfection that a man may 
have in this life." The Master said: "Ah, dear son, what is this thou 
asketh? Why should I speak of such high things to thee, for I well 
believe that thou understandeth little of them." Then the man 
answered: "Ah, dear sir, even if I may learn little or nothing of this 
doctrine, yet I may at least be moved to lament my ignorance. Many 
people run after thee; and if among them all only a single one should 
understand thee, thy work were well done." Then the Master «aid: 
"Dear son, if I shall do this, I must first study hard to get the 
material together." And the man did not give over, but begged and 
insisted so long, that at last the Master promised him to do it. 



10 



The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



So the next time he preached, he announced to the people that they 
should come again three days afterwards, for he had been requested to 
preach how a man conld arrive at the closest place to God, and reach 
the highest and besl spiritual state possible in this life. When the 
day arrived a multitude of people came to hear the sermon, and the 
man took a good place for hearing. The Master began his address, 
and spoke as follows. 



CHAPTER SECOND. 

Dear children, I have much to tell you in this sermon about what 
I promised; therefore I cannot explain the Sunday's gospel to yon 
today, as my custom has been. Nor shall I use much Latin in this ser- 
mon; but what I have to say I will prove by holy Scripture. 

Dear children, you should know that there are many men who reach 
a clear knowledge of spiritual things and have an intellectual under- 
standing of them, but this they have by means of forms and figures 
imparted by men's instruction and without Scripture. And we meet 
with others, who, when they have learned something through the 
Scripture, stop there contented. Such men are far off from their 
supreme good. Dear children, when such a man has broken through 
and gone beyond all that, and when he has thereby died to himself, 
and when he has passed through forty years of such contemplation 
and of the reasonings and imaginings and figurings of his soul- 
then he has gained a place dearer to God than that of a hundred 
thousand men, who have never got out of self and who live in a state 
of self approval. Into these God cannot come, nor in them can He 
act. The reason is their self will, and because their simplicity of 
spirit is self chosen; it is on account of their self approval, their 
resting in the forms and figures of their intelligence. But the men 
who have gone beyond this, giving themselves up to God in the dying 
spiritual way and by renouncing all things, attaining to a state above 
the contemplation of the forms and images of the mind— in such 
men, let me assure you, children, God finds His place of rest; there 
He dwells and there He works as He wills. St. Dionvsius savs of 
such a on,-: -The light of faith demands that a soul shall transcend 
the power and scope of its own reason." When God thus encounters 
no resistance. He does His own will in the soul, drawing it to Him- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 11 

self and into Himself. You must know that these men are excep- 
tional, for their spiritual life is hidden to all but those whose inner 
experience has been like their own; and these, alas, are not numerous. 
Another thing to bear in mind is that this noble degree of perfection 
no man can achieve without boundless humility; and he must also 
have a clear head and sound reasoning faculties. By lack of humility 
several learned doctors have fallen, and other dignitaries in holy 
church. And how many brilliant spirits of the angelic choirs went 
astray, and fell away eternally from divine truth, though by their 
very nature they were beings of the highest endowments of reason. 
Thus it happens to all who trust to their own reason, who would make 
themselves like unto God in their obstinate self opinionatedness. On 
account of all this, it is necessary to understand what kind of a man 
the right, true, reasonable, enlightened, contemplative man should be. 
And this, dear children, is what I will tell you, as far as I can gather 
it from holy Scripture. And there are twenty-four qualities which 
such a man should possess. 

The first is placed by the sovereign teacher of all teachers, and 
the source of all science and wisdom, our Lord Jesus Christ: "This 
is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you" 
(John xv:12); as if He had said: If you have all wisdom and 
knowledge and high reasoning power, it is all in vain unless you 
have mutual trust and love along with it. One might think that 
Balaam was very intellectual, knowing as he did many things that 
God was to do for hundreds of years. That, however, helped him 
little enough, because he did not follow up what he knew with fidelity 
of heart and great love. 

The second trait of a truly reasonable and enlightened man, is 
that he must be detached from self. And when he has come to that, 
he must in no wise be proud of it, but must strive onward to a greater 
and greater degree of self renunciation; he must banish from his 
soul all love of created things. 

The third is this: he must give himself up to God that He may 
work His will in him; nor dare he ascribe to himself any of the 
results of that divine operation, but on the contrary, he must esteem 
himself incapable of it. 

The fourth: searching carefully within his soul, in whatsoever thing 
he finds his own self to be his aim and object, from that he must 



12 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

depart for time and for eternity. This exercise of the spirit will give 
him much increase in vin ae. 

The fifth: he Bhonld consult his own interest in no manner or \ 
matter whatsoever or in any creature, either for time or for eternity; 
and this ministers to true content of heart. 

The sixth: he should constantly attend upon God to learn what 
His will may be about liim. and then with the divine help fulfill it, 
oor in any \\ ise claim the merit of it. 

The Beventh: it should be his daily practice to surrender his will 
to God's will, saying: O God I will naught but what Thou dost 
will. 

The eighth: he should so adjust his mind to God, and so stead- 
fastly apply all its force and love to God, that God cannot act in him 
wit limit him. nor can he act in God without God. 

The ninth: ho must profit by God's presence in all his activity, at 
all times ;in<l in all places, just as God disposes, whether for sweet- | 
aess or bitterness. 

The tenth: he must feel neither pleasure nor pain from any crea- 
ture, but only from God. Although God often works through crea- 
tures, vet a perfect man receives their influence as from God direct. 

The eleventh: he shall not be fettered by any pleasurable emotions 
lived from creatures, nor be influenced by it beyond reasonable 
necessity. 

The twelfth: no mishap shall force him out of the path of truth; 
let him tread closely and faithfully in it. 

The thirteenth: he must not be betrayed by the deceitful attrac- 
tions of .rented things. Let him take things kindly and quietly as 
they come, and make the best of them for his own perfection, nor be 
in any wise worried. This spiritual trait is a sure sign of the presence 
of the Holy ('.host. 

The fourteenth: in order to oppose vice within him with all his 
might and to win the victory over it, he must be armed with every 
virtue and always ready for the conflict. 

The fifteenth: he must look directly at the naked truth of things, 
just as truth is in itself, according as God guides him and as far as is 
humanly possible, and live perfectly up to this knowledge. 

The sixteenth: he should be a man of few words, and much given 
to the interior life. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 13 

The seventeenth ; he must be a perfect man, and yet by no means 
think himself perfect. 

The eighteenth: his life must be open and sincere with all men, 
and he must preach better by his life than by his words. 

The nineteenth: he should seek God's honor in all things, nor have 
aught else in view in his daily conduct. 

The twentieth: in contending with others he shall suffer himself 
to be corrected and shall yield his rights, unless indeed he is con- 
tending for God's rights. 

The twenty-first: he shall look for no personal advantage in any- 
thing whatsoever, esteeming himself worthy of not even the lowest 
place. 

The twenty-second: he shall esteem himself the least instructed 
and the least deserving of all men; and yet he shall hold in his heart 
a great treasure of faith. He shall lay no store by his mental 
acquirements or his intellectual powers, and in regard of such things 
he shall rank himself beneath all men. For it is the author of all 
wisdom who is doing His supernatural work in him, but only on con- 
dition that his soul shall be found humbled to the very depth; and 
it is God Himself who goes before to prepare the soul for His coming, 
as He did with St. Paul. But it seems to me that in our days, alas, 
little heed is given to this. 

The twenty-third: he shall set before his eyes the life and doctrine 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be the model of his own life, words and 
works. Into this he shall constantly gaze as into a mirror, striving 
always, to the best of his ability, to lay aside whatsoever is inconsis- 
tent with this divine rule of life. 

The twenty-fourth and last: he shall always reproach himself with 
being a slothful servant of God; he shall always set to work as if he 
were a beginner in a good life. And if this draws on him the con- 
tempt of his fellows, let him value it more than the favor of the whole 
world. 

And now, you dear children, these are the marks of a well seasoned 
and prudently grounded spiritual life, enlightened and instructed by 
rules of all truth. Any man who cannot show these spiritual signs 
then neither he can consider himself nor can any one else consider him 
a reasonable man. 

May God the eternal truth, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, help us all 
to be thus formed upon the pattern of our Lord's truth and humility. 
Amen. 






1 j The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

CHAPTER THIRD. 

At the end of the sermon the man returned to his lodgings, and 
there In- wrote it down word for word, just as the Master had preached 
It. Be then took it to the Master, and said: "I have written out thy 
Bermon, and if it will not weary thee, I will read it over to thee." 1 
The Master answered: "I will hear it gladly." When the man had 
done reading it. he said: "I ask thee, dear sir, if I have left out a sin- : 
gle word." The Master answered: "Dear son, thou hast written it 
down exactly as it came from my mouth. I assure thee that if I 
could have been paid a high price to compose it anew from the holy 
Bcriptures and to write it out again, I could not do it as exactly as 
thou hast done it. And let me confess that I stand in much admira- 
tion of thee; I marvel that thou hast been so long with me and yet 
remain hidden to me, and that I have not observed thy great intelli- 
gent ie; and that thou hast often made thy confessions to me, and 
yel held back from me thy real character, so that I have not known i 
thee for what thou art." When the man made as if he w r anted to go i 
away, lie said: "Dear sir, if God pleases I will return home." Upon ! 
which the Master said: "Dear son, what wilt thou do there? Thou 
haal neither wife nor child to care for, and thou canst fare as well i 
here as there; for with the blessing of God I intend to preach more ! 
upon the subject of a perfect life." And the man answered: "Dear 
Master, you should know that I did not come here on account of thy 
preaching. I came here with the thought that by God's help I should 
offer thee some advice." The Master said: "And what advice couldst 
thou give me? Thou art a layman, thou dost not understand the 
Scriptures. It is unbecoming that thou shouldst want to preach. 
Stay here longer; perhaps God will grant me such perfect preaching 
thai thou sliiilt gladly listen to it." And the man answered: "Master, 
I would willingly have said something to thee, but I feared that thou 
mightesl not willingly bear it." And the Master said: "Son, say 
whatever thou wilt; I pledge myself to bear it patiently." Upon 
this the ui.iii spoke as follows: "Thou are a great clergyman, and in 
thy sermon thou has given a good doctrine; but thou thyself dost not 
live up i., it. And yet thou talkest to me about it, and asketh me to 
st;i\ longer and hear yet another sermon. Sir, be sure of this: thy 
preaching and thy outward talking, and all like things that anyone 
can say in the whole world, can have no effect in my soul; but on the 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 15 

contrary it has hindered me rather than advanced me. And the rea- 
son is this: when I came away from the sermon I found that it 
caused me various distracting thoughts, which I was scarcely able to 
get rid of after long continued efforts. The fact is thou hast 
preached thyself. But when the sovereign Master of all truth comes 
into a man, his spirit must be empty of all transitory things. Be sure 
that when that Master comes to me, He teaches me more in one hour 
than thou canst ever do, and all other teachers from Adam's time to 
the end of the world." Then said the Master: "Dear son, I beg thee 
as thou dost reverence our Lord's death that wouldst remain with 
me." Upon which the man answered: "Dost thou adjure me so 
solemnly to stay with thee? Well, then, if I remain here out of 
divine obedience, it shall only be because thou shalt promise me, that 
what I have said to thee and shall say to thee, shall be held by thee as 
sacred a secret as that of confession, and shall never be told." The 
Master said: "Dear son, that I will do gladly, if thou wilt only stay." 
And the man said: "Thou hast imparted much good instruction in 
that sermon; but as thou didst preach, a thought came into my miud. 
It was that thy sermon was just as if someone should take good 
clear wine, and mix dregs with it till it was all muddied*" Then the 
Master said: "Dear son, what meanest thou?" And the man an- 
swered: "I mean that thy vessel is unclean, and many dregs adhere to 
it. That is to say, thou hast allowed thyself to be killed by the letter 
of thy doctrine, and dost continue so daily and hourly, although thou 
knowest well what the Scripture says: 'For the letter killetb, but the 
spirit quickenetk' (ii Cor. iii : G). Now thou mayst be certain that 
the same letter that killeth thee will make thee alive again, in so 
far as thou wilt allow it. But in that life in which thou now dost 
live, thou shouldst know that thou hast no light. Thou art in the 
night, in which thou mayst indeed know the letter, but the sweetness 
of the Holy Ghost thou hast not yet tasted, and on that account thou 
art as yet but a Pharisee." And then the Master said : "Dear son, I am a 
man of mature age, and believe me that such words have never before 
been spoken to me." Then said the man: "Where is thy preaching 
now? Dost thou now preceive how thou dost stand? And although 
thou thinkest that I have spoken too hard against thee, yet thou hast 
only thyself to blame. And I will prove that to thee." Then said 
the Master: "I beg thee to do so, for I have never been considered a 
Pharisee." And the man answered: "I will first show thee how it 
happens that the letter killeth thee. 






16 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

"Dear Bir, thou wilt remember that when the time came for thee to 
know the difference between evil and good, thou begannest to learn 
the letter of religion, and therein thou didst seek thy own interest; 
and qow op to this very day thou art of the same mind. That is to 
say. thou hast given thyself up to thy own intelligence for guidance. 
Thoudosl nol have in view God alone, nor love Him alone, but resteth 
in the letter, seeking thy own self and not God's glory alone, to which 
end, notwithstanding, the holy Scripture directs us. Thou art in- 
clined t<> creatures; and especially to one creature art thou inclined, 
and thai <»nc iliou lovest inordinately; and that is the reason why 
the letter killeth thee. And when I said that thou art an unclean 
vessel, I said true; for thou dost not take God into account in all 
things. When thou shalt come to know thvself, thou shalt find 
lodged in a portion of thy soul vain and frivolous things. These 
disturb thy soul and adhere to it as the dregs and lees do to a vessel 
of wine. When the clear, pure wine of divine doctrine passes through 
the unclean vessel that thou art, then it comes to pass that pure 
souls and loving hearts find no divine flavor in thy w T ords; thou 
impartesl no grace to them. And I further have told thee, that thou 
art in the night, and that thou hast not the true light; now that is also 
a fact. And that is easily seen, because so few receive an increase 
of the grace of the Holy Ghost from thy preaching. And when I said 
that thou art a Pharisee I told but the truth. Of course I do not 
mean that thou art one of those false wretches of our Lord's dav. 
Hut was it not a trait of the Pharisees, that they were dear to 
themselves in all things, that they kept themselves ever in view T in 
all that they did, rather than God's glory? Now study thyself care- 
fully, dear sir. and see if thou art not a genuine Pharisee in God's 
eyes. Dear Master, thou oughtest to know that there are many 
people now a days, great and small, who are Pharisees in God's eyes 
because He knows their hearts and their lives." 

As the man said these words, the Master took him in his arms and 
embraced him and kissed him. And he said: "Thou hast shown me a 
trne picture of myself. I see myself as the heathen woman saw her 
image in the waters of the fountain. I confess to thee, dear son, that 
all my sins and imperfections have -been manifested to me by thy 
words. Thou hast told me the things that I had hidden away in my 
soul, and especially that I am inclined particularly towards one crea- 
ture; hut thou Rhouldst know that T was not aware of this myself. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 1 7 

and I believe that not a soul in the whole world knows it. And I am 
at a loss to know who has told thee of it. I doubt not but that thou 
hast got it from God. And now, dear son, I beg thee as thou honorest 
the death of Christ, that thou will become my spiritual father and 
take me for thy poor, sinful son." Then the man said: ''Dear sir, if 
thou thus speakest against the right order of things I will uot stay 
with thee — I will go away at once; thou mayst be sure of that." 
Then spoke the Master: "Ah no, I beg thee for God's sake do no such 
thing; stay with me for a while; I promise thee willingly not to speak 
like that again. I have the will to become a better man, with God's 
help and with thy counsel; what thou approvest that will I gladly be 
guided by for the improvement of my life." Then the man said: "I 
declare to thee that the letter and the science of things mislead 
many great Masters, bringing some to an awful purgatory, and others 
into hell, according to the life they have led. And I declare to thee 
furthermore, that it is no trifling matter that God should give a man 
such great knowledge through the holy Scripture, and that neverthe- 
less he should not put it in practice in his own life." 



CHAPTER FOURTH. 

Then the Master said: "I beg thee for the love of God to tell me 
how thou earnest to thy present manner of life, and how thou hast 
begun ; and what has been thy custom and way of spiritual exercise." 
The man answered: "That is a simple enough request, and I will 
answer with the exact truth. And if I should write down the 
wonderful things that God does for me, a poor, sinful man, during 
the past twelve years, it would make a bigger book than any thou 
hast; at any rate on this occasion I will tell thee something of it. 

"What first helped me was that God found in me a real state of 
detachment and a fathomless humility. Now I think that there is 
no need of my telling thee what were my external and bodily devo- 
tional practices, for men's natures differ greatly. But when a man 
has humbly resigned himself to God with interior sincerity, then 
God begins and never ceases to give him inward discipline by 
allowing certain temptations to afflict him; by that and other like 
means which He knows to be useful and which the soul is able to 
bear — if it only will — God tries it well. But thou shouldst under- 



I s The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Stand that any man who seeks many counsellors is very likely to go 
astray; for each one will advise according to his own devotional 
customs. Hue man may benefit by one kind of spiritual exercises 
the like of which would be of no help to another. The devil some- 
times excites a man to severe penances, thinking that thereby he will 
break down his health and lead him info imperfections, or hurt his 
brain and make him an imbecile, or the like of that. 

"And I will tell thee what happened to me in the beginning. I read 
the lives of the sain is in the German language; and thought within 
myseli thai they were only men as I am a man, but that they had not 
Binned as I had. And at that thought I began to imitate the saints 
in \a.iu„s ways; and soon I was brought so low in health that I was 
at the point of death. One morning at daybreak, after I had prac- 
ticed hard austerities, I became so weak that my eyes closed in spite 
of myself and I fell asleep. And then it seemed to me that a voice 
spoke to me saying: O thou simple-minded man, what art thou about? 
TIh.u wilt kill thyself with penances, suffering dreadful pain. Let 
God exercise thee in the spiritual life; He can serve thee better than 
thyself, or the devil's counsels. When I heard the devil's name I 
woke up, very much frightened; I rose and went into a wood near 
the city. Then as I found myself alone, I recalled how I had begun 
those austerities without seeking advice, and I said that I could seek 
counsel about my condition from the old hermit living there. I did 
)h is. and I repeated to him the words that I had heard in sleep. I 
begged him for the love of God to give me his best advice. Then 
Hi.- hermit said, to me: 'Thou must tell me what thy customary exer- 
cises of piety have been, before I can advise thee.' I told him what 
they were. He said: 'Who has counselled thee to do these things?' 
said: 'I did them of my own will.' He said: 'Thou must know 
that it was at the devil's suggestion that thou didst them; and thou 
must no longer be ruled by him. Thou must give thyself wholly up 
T " God; lie can better practice thee than thyself or the devil' 
Behold, dear Master, how it was I quit those austerities, and yielded 
myself and all my doings with deepest sincerity to God. Now besides 
all this, thou shouldst know that by nature I am a sensible, capable 
and kindly disposed man, although I have had no training in divinity 
as thon hast had. Thus I began to know myself according to my 
reasonable intelligence, and sometimes it happened that I was so 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 19 

highly exalted that I was astonished. Once it happened that I 
thought within myself: Thou hast so intellectual a gift, that if thou 
shouldst apply thyself earnestly to study, thou wouldst comprehend 
something. But as this thought took shape, I saw at once that it 
was a suggestion of the devil, and detected its utter perversity. 
Then I said: O thou wicked spirit, what false and filthy counsel hast 
thou given me — treacherous counsellor as thou art. For if we had 
a God who could be comprehended by our reason, I would not give 
a straw for Him. At another time, when at midnight I began to 
recite matins, a great longing took possession of me, so that I said : 

eternal and merciful God, I would that thou shouldst grant me 
to experience something above and beyond the power of reason. But 
as soon as I had thus spoken, I was terrified at this eager desire, and 

1 exclaimed : Alas, my God and my Lord, forgive me in Thy boundless 
mercy for acting thus — that I a poor worm of the earth should allow 
such a thought to enter my heart, desiring so rich a gift and one so 
full of Thy grace — I, a man who, as I fully confess, have heretofore 
by no means lived as well as I ought. I confess, dear Lord, that in 
all things I have been ungrateful to Thee. Therefore I am convinced 
that I am not worthy to tread the earth after harboring such a pre- 
sumptuous desire for Thy rich favors : — the earth is burdened with 
my worthless carcass. I then flogged myself till the blood flowed 
upon my naked body. The words I spoke to God burned jn my heart 
and were on my lips till day broke, and meanwhile my blood flowed 
in my penance. Then did God show me mercy, and to my reason he 
granted a much clearer light than before. But presently I was 
ravished out of my reason into an ecstacy, and the time of it seemed 
exceedingly short. When God permitted me to return to myself, I 
beheld a marvellous supernatural sign, so that I could say even with 
St. Peter: 'Master, it is good for us to be here' (Luke ix. 33). Let 
me assure thee, dear sir, that I learned more truth in that short hour, 
and was given clearer perception of spiritual things, than all the 
teachers in the world could bestow with all their natural learning. 
And now, dear sir, I have said enough to show thee how thou standest 
before God." 



20 



The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



CHAPTER FIFTH. 

Then the Master Bpoke: -May God give thee grace to say more to 
me, for that would be very welcome, for I am telling thee the simple 
troth, when I Bay that I have heard thee gladly. Go on and do it, 
dear son. and do not leave me but stay with me. If thou needest 
money, I will not let thee suffer want, even if I must pawn one of 
my books." Then said the man: "May God reward thee, dear sir. 
Bnl 1 do not need thy gift, for God has made me his steward to the 
extent of five thousand florins. These are God's, and did I but know 
seme one who needed them, or any other purpose God had for them. I 
would give them away." Then the Master said: "Dear son, thou art 
thus a rich man, a very great steward of the Lord. But I am aston- 
ished at thy saying, that I and all other teachers till the day of judg- 
ment, could not teach thee as much as thou didst learn in one hour. 
Explain this to me, I will gladly listen. And is it not true that the 
Scriptures have come from the Holy Ghost?" The man answered: 
-Sir, it seems incredible that thou shouldst talk so childishly after 
all that I have told thee. And I will ask thee a question, and if 
thou shalt answer it with all thy intelligence, with or without the 
help of Scripture, I will give thee ten thousand florins." The Master 
asked : "What is it?" And the man said : "Canst thou instruct me how 
to write a letter to a heathen, one buried deep in a heathen country,. 
in such style and language that the heathen can read it and under- 
stand it, and that the letter will have such an effect on him as that 
lie will come to the Christian faith?" The Master said: "Dear son, 
that is the work of the Holy Ghost; tell me where that has ever 
happened, if thou knowest anything of the sort. Did it ever happen 
to thee?" The man answered: "Yes. Although I am a miserable 
sinner, through me the Holy Ghost has done that work. It would 
take too long to tell how it happened — one could fill a book with an 
account of it. The heathen w r as a well meaning man, and he often 
cried out to heaven, and implored Him who had created him and all 
the world besides, saying: O Thou creator of all things, here am I 
born in this country, and I find that the Jews have one faith and the 
Christians another. O Lord, thou art over us all and thou hast made 
all creatures: I implore Thy light to know. Is there no faith better 
than i he one in which I was born — none whatever? If there is, I 
heseech Thee to show it to me that I may believe it — show it in what- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 21 

soever way it pleaseth Thee. I will gladly obey Thee and believe. 
But if it should happen that Thou dost not grant my prayer nor 
showest me a better faith, and that I shall die in my present faith 
because I know none better and because Thou hast not revealed a 
better one to me, then shalt Thou have done me an injustice. Now 
understand, dear sir, that a letter was written and sent to that 
heathen by me, a poor sinner, and by its means he came to the 
Christian faith. And he wrote me a letter in answer, in which he 
told me what had happened to him, and his letter was written in 
good plain German, so that I could very easily read it. Dear sir, 
much more might be said about this, but enough for the present; 
and thou wilt understand the meaning of what I have said." Then 
the Master spoke: "God is wonderful in all His works and gifts. 
Dear son, thou hast told things that are strange indeed." 

The man said : "I fear that some of the things I have said may 
have distressed thee, and that is because I am a layman and thou a 
great master of sacred learning; and yet have I presumed to say so 
much after the manner of the learned. But I meant it all affection- 
ately, seeking thy soul's welfare and wholly for God's honor, as He 
bears me witness." Then the Master answered : "Dear sir, if it will 
not anger thee, I will tell thee what has really distrssed me." And 
the man said : "Be assured on that point, thou needest have no fear 
of angering me." The Master said: "My mind is in a state of amaze- 
ment, and I do feel distressed, that thou being but a layman and I a 
clergyman, I should receive instruction from thee. And it further- 
more annoys me that thou didst call me a Pharisee." Then spoke the 
man: "Does nothing else weigh on thy mind?" The Master said: 

"I can think of nothing else." And the man said: "May I inform 
thee on both these points?" The Master said: "Yes, dear son, and 
I ask it of thee in all friendliness, and for God's sake." Then the man 
said : "Tell me, dear sir, how did it happen, that dear St. Catherine, 
who was but a young girl of fourteen years, yet vanquished by her 
discourse fifty of the greatest professors, so that they were ready to 
die for the truth? Who worked that wonder?" Then the Master 
said: "The Holy Ghost did that." And the man said: "Think you 
not that the Holy Ghost still has that power?" The Master 
answered: "Yes, I believe it firmly." Then said the man: "Why then 
wilt thou not believe, that the same Holy Ghost here and now speaks 
to thee through me, all unworthy as I am and a poor sinner: even as 



22 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

He spoke the truth by the mouth of Caiaphas, who was also a sinner. 
But thou mayst be sure, that since thou receivest my message thus 
evilly, therefore will I be careful to have no more speech with thee." 
Then said the .Master: "Dear son, say not so. I hope, if God wills it, 
to improve my soul's state through thy words." Then the man spoke: 
"Ah, dear sir, it distressed thee that I said that thou art a Pharisee. 
And yet when I did so, I added enough to prove to thee that I did 
thee no wrong; thou shouldst have rested content. But as thou art 
not satisfied, I must go on further, and I will show more plainly that I 
am right, and that thou deservest the name Pharisee. Dear sir, 
thou knowest full well that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself said of 
the Pharisees: 'They bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay 
them on men's shoulders; but with a finger of their own they will 
not move them, (Matt, xxiii: 4). Now, dear sir, thou hast in thy 
sermon bound together twenty-four burdens, and thou takest little 
account of them for thy own self. Our Lord also said: 'All things 
whatsoever they [the Pharisees] shall say to you, observe and do: 
but according to their works do ye not; for they say and do not' 
(Matt, xxxiii: 3)." Then the Master spoke: "Our dear Lord said 
thase words for that occasion and time." And the man answered: 
"He speaks them yet, now and forevermore, and to all men. Dear 
Master, look into thyself and see if they are not to be applied to thee 
or to thy way of living: God knows if that be the case, and so dost 
thyself. And I avow to thee, as regards thyself, that I had rather be 
guided by thy words than by thy life. Lay it to heart as to whether 
or not thou mayst be called a Pharisee in the sight of God; but I do 
not mean that thou art one of those false Pharisees whose portion is 
the fire of hell." The Master spoke: "I know not what to say. I 
confess freely that I am a sinner, and I declare that I will reform my 
life; I will do it if it kills me. Dear son, I can no longer postpone 
this holy work, and I beg thee sincerely and for God's sake, to tell me 
how I shall take hold and begin. Teach me and guide me how to 
reach the highest perfection that man can reach in this life." The 
man spoke : "Dear sir, I beg thee not to be angry with me ; but I must 
tell thee in all truth that thou art hard to advise. For if thou art 
to be converted, it will be a woeful thing to thy established manner 
and custom of living, for all the old ways must be given up; and 
now thou art nigh fifty years old." Then the Master answered : "That 
may all be so. But ah, dear son, remember that to him who came 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 23 

at the eleventh hour the same penny was paid as to him who came 
at the first. And I will tell thee this, my dear son : I have thought 
it all over, and I have set it firmly in my heart that with God's- 
assistance I will give up the life and enjoyment of my senses, and 
also my intellectual way of meditating; and I will follow thy direc- 
tion, and consider it all one if it costs me even my life. I beg thee 
for God's sake to delay me no longer, but to tell me at once how I 
shall make a beginning." Then the man said : "Since thou hast 
now received grace from God to wish to be humbled beneath a vile, 
poor, worthless creature, and to be subjected to him and bend under 
his yoke: let us give praise to God for all this, for this grace comes 
wholly from Him and must return again to Him by our thanksgiving. 
Dear sir, inasmuch as it is wholly on God's account that T will guide 
thee, I will call Him into help. I will instruct thee in divine love, 
and I will give thee a lesson to learn, as is done with children in 
school; it is the twenty-four letters of the alphabet. And so I begin 
with A." 



CHAPTER SIXTH. 

"A. Make a beginning of a new life in the spirit of a man and 
with no childish timidity. 

"B. Give up all wickedness; and do good with thy mind made up, 
and all diligently. 

"C. Be temperate and moderate in everything; learn to hold the 
safe middle course. 

"D. Be humble in everything, in word and deed. 

"E. Thy own will must thou renounce in the most thoroughgoing 
spirit, steadfastly and earnestly clinging to God and abiding in God. 

"F. Be zealous, obedient, and willing for all good works, and be 
wholly free from murmuring. 

"G. Diligently practice thyself in all divine works of mercy, both 
corporal and spiritual. 

"H. Look not backwards, neither towards the world, nor crea- 
tures, nor thy own affairs. 

"I. Deep in thy heart recall thy past life with entire truthfulness, 
real repentance, with bitterness of heart, and tearful eyes. 

"K. Boldly and sturdily withstand the temptations of the devil, 
of the world, and of the flesh. 



•_•} The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

"L. Loam K. overcome idleness courageously, and all delicacy in 
bodily matters, and the devil's suggestions of personal comfort. 

• M. Willi burning love, with assured hope, with mighty faith, 
live in Godj and hear thyself towards thy neighbor as thou wouldst 
towards thyself. 

•X. Covet do man's goods, be they bodily or spiritual. 

'(>. Make the best of all things as they happen, never borrowing 
trouble. 

"P. Penances, come they from God or from thy neighbor or from 
any creature, thou shalt willingly accept and suffer to atone for thy 
sins. 

"Q. Whosoever shall harm thee in thought, word or deed, acquit 
him and pardon him in all sincerity. 

"K. Purity of body and of soul, destitution of goods and of honors, 
thou shall cultivate with all earnestness. 

• S. Be gentle minded in all happenings, and find a way of improv- 
ing thyself under all circumstances. 

"T. Fidelity and truthfulness shalt thou cherish in thy dealings 
with all men, shunning all double dealing. 

"U. Zealously learn to refrain from all and any kind of excess in 
eating. 

"X. Follow the example of our beloved Lord, guiding thy every 
step thereby, as far as thou art able. 

"Y. Ceaselessly beseech our dear Lady's intercession that she may 
help thee to learn this our lesson. 

"Z. Ilold thy will and thy senses in an even balance, so that thou 
mayst enjoy peace in all things, whether it be those between God 
and thee, or between thee and all created things. 

'•Now this whole lesson must be learned and observed without 
contradiction, with a free heart, and a good will." 



CHAPTER SEVENTH. 

"Now, dear sir, take this lesson of a child, without any objections, 
as if it came from God to thee for thy good, through me, a poor 
unworthy man." 

Then the Master spoke: "It may please thee to call this a child's 
lesson, but to my thinking it will be a manly exploit to observe it all. 
And now tell me, dear son, how long a time wilt thou give me to 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 25 

learn it?" The man answered: "We will take five weeks, to do honor 
to the five holy wounds, so that thou mayst the better learn thy task. 
Thou shalt be thy own master; and when one or other of these 
sentences arranged by the alphabet is not observed, and thou thinkest 
that thou canst not master it, then strip thyself naked and chastise 
thy body, so that it may be reduced to submission to the soul and to 
reason." Then the Master said: "I will gladly be obedient." 

At the end of three weeks the man asked the Master: "Dear sir, 
how stands it with thee?" The Master said: "Let me tell thee, dear 
son, that during these three weeks I have been whipped harder on 
account of this lesson, than ever I was whipped before in my whole 
life." Then spoke the man: "Dear sir, thou must understand that 
before one goes onward in a lesson, he must learn perfectly what 
goes before — namely, the first lines." The Master answered: "If I 
should say that I now knew them well, I should say what is not true." 
Then the man said: "Go right on that way, till thou hast learnt thy 
task well." At the end of three weeks more, the Master sent for the 
man, and said: "Dear son, rejoice with me, for it seems to me that 
with God's help I now know the first lines well. And now, if thou 
wilt, I am ready to recite the lesson to thee." The man said : "No, 
dear sir; but I will gladly rejoice with thee, and fully credit thee 
that thou knowest thy lesson well." And the Master answered : "1 
tell thee in all sincerity, that I have something heavy on my mind. 
And dear son, I beg thee to teach me yet further." Then spoke the 
man : "I can teach thee nothing more, as far as I am personally con- 
cerned. But if it pleases God to teach thee through me, I will gladly 
do my part, willingly acting as the instrument by which onr Lord 
will act upon thee. 

"Listen, dear sir, for I will counsel thee about divine love and 
brotherly fidelity; so that when the Lord's call shall come to thee, as 
it did to the young man in the gospel, I shall have no responsibility: 
'If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, 
and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: and come follow Me" 
(Matt, xix: 21). Then the Master spoke: "Dear son, thou needst not 
care for that, for I have already yielded myself to that call, and with 
God's help I will go forward obedient in it to God and to thee." 
Then spoke the man: "Because thou hast made that secure, giving 
thyself entirely over to God to have a care of thee, then will 1 earnestly 
counsel thee ever to be obedient to the rules of thy Order and to thy 



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_^^^^^^__^_^_^___^^^ 

superiors; for it may easily happen, that if thou wouldst tread the 
Straight, narrow way, thou shalt be oppressed by others, and 
(specially by thy own brethren. And when that happens, thy 
thoughts will be bent on the words by which thou didst vow thyself 
to God, being tempted meanwhile to find some way of loosing thyself 
from the cross. But that must not be. For thou must willingly 
be obedient, suffering gladly what happens to thee, from whomsoever 
it may come to thee. Thou must tread the way the Lord pointed out 
to the young man, namely, thou must take up thy cross and follow 
Jesus Christ, imitating Him in very truth; in all humility and in 
patience. That proud, cultivated intelligence of thine, w r hich thou 
hast gained by study of sacred learning, thou must let pass from thee. 
During this thy time of preparation thou must neither study nor 
preach. But toward thy penitents, both men and women, thou shalt 
bear thyself very simply when they make their confessions And 
when they are done, instead of giving them thy usual advice, say to 
them: I am now anxiously learning how to give myself good advice, 
and when I have succeeded in that, I will then give you good advice. 
If any one askest thee when thou wilt preach, refuse to tell him; but 
say to him in all truth that thou art not idle; and thus the people 
will excuse thee." Then the Master spoke: "Dear son, all this I will 
gladly do; but what occupation shall I have meanwhile?" The man 
said: "Thou shalt go into thy cell and read thy breviary, and attend 
in choir and join in the singing; thou shalt celebrate thy daily mass 
when thou canst do so. Whatever time is left over, take it up with 
the passion of our Lord, and meditate how thy life stands in com- 
parison with His. Think also on the lost time of thy life, namely 
that in which thou didst have thyself in view as thy aim and purpose. 
Think, too, how very small has been thy love compared to His love. 
These things shalt thou study and that very humbly, so that thou 
mayst attain to some degree of real humility, thereby becoming rid 
of thy old habit of mind and quite departing from it And when 
our Lord decides that the time is come, then will He make a new man 
of thee, supposing that thou shalt have been born again of God. 

"But be sure that ere all this happens, thou must sell all that tbou 
hast, and humbly give it up to God. And that means all that thou 
dost possess in thy proud intelligence, whether of Scripture learning 
or other learning, whereby thou mightest achieve honor in this life, 
or thai lias before this ministered to thy joy. All this thou must now 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 27 

let go, and thou must with St. Mary Magdalen fall at Christ's feet, 
and earnestly undertake all these ways of perfection. Then without 
doubt the King of Heaven will look upon thee with favor. But He 
by no means allows things to rest thus, for He will push thee further 
yet, so that thou mayst be purified still more, even as gold in the 
furnace. And it may well happen that He will offer thee the bitter 
draught that He offered His only begotten Son. And I surmise that by 
God's will all that thou doest and all that thou leavest undone, and 
indeed thy whole life, shall be brought to contempt and made nothing 
of in the eyes of the people. All thy penitents will leave thee, think- 
ing that thou hast not good sense any longer. All thy good friends 
and brothers in thy monastery, will take offense at thy way of life, 
and say that thou hast adopted a preposterous kind of devotion. 

"But when all this comes to pass, do not be affrighted, but rather 
be rejoiced, for just then thy salvation is at hand. To be sure thy 
human weakness will be terrified and sickened by it. But neverthe- 
less, dear sir, do not give up, but trust God steadfastly, for He in 
no wise abandons His servants; and thou knowest that full well from 
thy knowledge of the lives of the dear saints. Now, dear sir, if thou 
wilt indeed undertake this way, realize that nothing in the world 
is better for thee or more useful than great detachment — boundless 
and humble, extending to all things, as well sweet as bitter, whether 
for weal or woe, so that thou shalt be able to say truthfully: Ah, my 
Lord and my God, if it were thy will that I should stay in this pain 
and in this anguish of heart till the end of the world, yet would I not 
depart from Thee and I would steadfastly continue in Thy service. 
And now, my dear sir, I kuow that in thy heart thou sayest, that this is 
indeed a heavy task that I have conferred with thee about. And for 
that reason it was that I begged thee to dismiss me, and that I said 
that if thou shouldst fall short of thy purpose, I should not be to 
blame." 

Then the Master said: "Thou hast spoken truly; I own that it 
seems to me somewhat hard to undertake this way." The man spoke: 
"But thou didst beg me to teach thee the shortest road to the highest 
state of contemplation. Now I know no shorter, no surer way than 
this, if one would model on the true example of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. But, dear sir, I counsel thee by all my truth, that thou take 
time to think over all this: and what God then gives thee to do, that 



28 



The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 






do in His name." Then the Master said: "I will do that; and I will 
wait and see if with God's help I may overcome my repugnance." 






CHAPTER EIGHT. 

After eleven days the Master sent for the man and said to him: 
"Ah, dear son, what martyrdom have I suffered, and what interior 
battles have I fought day and night, ere I could vanquish the devil 
and my own flesh. But with the grace of God, I have now concen- 
trated all my faculties of mind and powers of bodv to this decision- I 
will cheerfully undertake this way, and I will remain in it fast and 
firm, come weal come woe." Then the man said: "Dear sir, dost thou 
recall the words I used with thee, when thou didst ask me how thou 
shouldst make a beginning?" The Master spoke: "Yes, for the 
moment thou hadst gone from me I wrote thy advice down word for 
word." Then the man said: "Dear sir, that thou hast received this 
bold spirit from God, I am heartily glad, and value it for thee as if 
it were for myself, and of this God is my witness. And now in the 
name of our Lord Jesus Christ make a beginning." Then the man 
said farewell, and he took his departure, and the Master did as he j 
had been directed. 

A nd it came to pass ere a year elapsed, that the Master was held 
in be good for nothing in the monastery, even by his most trusted 
friends. And his penitents all left him; they were gone from him as if I 
they had never seen him. All this was a heavy blow to him and 
caused him much suffering. Meanwhile his head began to grow 
weak. And now he sent for the man, and told him how things were 
with him, and how his whole body was almost in a state of sickness, 
and especially his head. Then the man said: "Sir, do not be alarmed. 
Humbly .leave to God, and trust Him implicitly. I assure thee that 
I am well pleased with thee; all goes well with thy life, and will 
daily go better. 

"Dear sir, thou knowest well, that whosoever will take the right 
road and travel onward, must imitate the sufferings of our Lord 
i Christ. Therefore stand thy ground, and give thyself wholly 
up to God. I assure thee that thy experience was also my own. And 
meanwhile, as thou art now undergoing those interior trials, treat 
thy body with some consideration, giving it wholesome food. As to 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 29 

thy head, I will have made for thee a decoction of herbs, the same as 
strengthened me when I was in thy situation. But bear in mind that 
I ever gave both body and soul to God, to do with them entirely as he 
pleased." 

Then the Master spoke: "But thou toldst me before to avoid good 
food and drink." And the man answered: "Yes, sir; but that was in 
the first beginnings, while as yet the body was robust; but now that it 
becomes dry and thin and would be all submission to the spirit, there- 
fore thou mayst come to its help and build it up somewhat, or other- 
wise thou wouldst be tempting God by excessive austerity. Whilst 
thou art in thy present weak state thou dost a service to God if thou 
dost discretely nourish thy body; but by no means shalt thou inordi- 
nately indulge thy appetite — that must not be. Dear sir, call in God 
to thy help and go forward cheerfully. Give thyself up to God in 
trustful and entire self renunciation; rely confidently on his infinite 
mercy, and wait for His grace. Whatever God may demand of thee, 
sweet or bitter, prove thyself equal to it with His help. And now 
I beg thee for God's sake not to take it amiss that I must return home, 
for thither I am called by an affair of great importance; my interest 
is much involved — that I say to thee in all sincerity. But if it should 
happen that thou canst not get on without me, send to my city for 
me, and I will willingly come to thee. But if thou canst endure to 
suffer without the help of any creature, that is everyway the best for 
thee." Then the Master spoke: "Dear son, say no such thing to me, 
for I cannot and will not get on without thee for any length of time. 
If thou goest away it will be excessively painful to me, for I can 
have no comfort in this world now." The man answered : "Dear sir, I 
will tell thee of a better comfort, and that is the Holy Ghost, who 
has called thee to this way, lovingly invited thee, and brought thee 
so far onward, by means of me a poor sinner. His is the work done 
in thee, not mine; and I have been but His instrument, gladly serving 
Him in it, to God's glory and to thy happiness." Then the Master 
spoke: "Dear son, may God be thy eternal recompense. And because 
thy affairs are so urgent I must let thee go. I will resign myself to 
God to suffer as best I may." The man spoke: "Dear sir, now that 
thou art subjected to the divine discipline, and hast entered a life 
of true spirituality in obedience to God, and inasmuch as this is thy 
free act, I now admonish thee to bear thyself discreetly, and care 
for thyself prudently, lest thou shouklst regret that thou art forsaken 



30 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

by all creatures. Hut if it should happen that thou fallest into want 
and money fails thee, then I advise thee to pawn a part of thy books, 
and to avoid Buffering excessively. But on no account shalt thou sell 
the hooks, for the time is sure to come again, when good books will 
be useful to thee, and indeed necessary." Then the man made his 
farewell and took his departure. But as to the Master, his eyes over- 
flowed and he began to weep. 



CHAPTER NINTH. 

So it happened that the Master suffered great trials and tempta- 
tions for two years, and these included disgrace in the eyes of all his 
friends. To this was added such destitution that he was forced to 
pawn a portion of his library. Meanwhile his body was reduced to 
great weakness. But he bore it all, and found himself sincerely 
humble. And it came to pass in the night of the feast of St. Paul's 
conversion, that he was assailed by the worst temptation that could 
be imagined. And at that moment all his natural force was so weak, 
that he could not so much as walk to the choir to attend at matins, 
and must perforce sit idly in his cell, giving himself up to God most 
meekly, void of all comfort and help from creatures. This was his 
sorest trial. Now amid all that feebleness, he meditated on the pas- 
sion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and on the great love He had for us. 
And then he considered his own life, and how petty a thing it was, 
compared to the love of God for him. Upon this he entered into a 
very deep sorrow for all his sins, and of regret for all the time he had 
wasted, and he spoke to God with heart and mouth: Ah merciful 
God! In thy boundless mercy take pity on me a poor sinner, for I 
am unworthy to walk the earth. And as he sat there in his utter 
helplessness and sadness, and being quite wide awake, he heard with 
his bodily ears a voice that said: Stand fast in thy peace, and trust 
in God. And remember that when He was on earth in His human 
nature, when He cured men of bodily sickness, He also made them 
well in their souls. The moment these words were spoken, he lost 
all sense and reason, and knew not whether he was carried away nor 
how. But when he came to his senses again, he found a great change 
had taken place in him. All his interior and his outward faculties 
were conscious of a new strength; and he was gifted with clear 
perceptions of matters that before had been very strange and alien 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 3j 

to him. He greatly wondered from whence this change had come; 
and then he thought: Thou canst not rightly place thyself now, and 
thou wilt send for thy friend and tell him of this. 

So he sent for the man, and when he came the Master told him all 
that had happened. Then spoke the man : "These thy words I have 
heard with joy from the bottom of my heart. Dear sir, thou must 
understand that now for the very first time thou hast found the true, 
the great grace in God. I say to thee that now for the very first 
time thou hast been touched by the Most High. And this thou must 
know: as formerly the letter had somewhat killed thee, so now shall 
the same make thee alive again. For now thy teaching comes from 
God the Holy Ghost, whereas before it was from the tlesh. Now 
thou hast the light of the Holy Ghost, received from the grace of 
God, and thou hast the holy Scriptures in thee. Therefore hast thou 
now a great advantage, and in the future far more than formerly 
thou shalt understand the Scriptures; for thou knowest full well 
that the Scriptures in many places seem to contradict themselves. 
But now that in the light of the Holy Ghost thou hast received 
divine grace to possess the holy Scripture in thyself, so wilt thou 
understand that all Scripture has the same meaning and is never 
self-contradictory. And now thou wilt go on right, following the 
example of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thou must begin to preach again, 
teaching thy fellow men the right road to eternal life. The time is 
come when good books are useful to thee. And be sure that now one 
sermon will profit the people and give them good fruit more than did 
a hundred formerly. For the words that thou shalt speak go forth 
from a purified soul, judging and weighing all things in simplicity 
of spirit. Hence just in proportion as thou hast been good for 
nothing in the people's estimation, thou shalt now become all the 
better appreciated and loved. 

"But it is of particular necessity that thou shalt keep thyself 
truly humble. Thou knowest that whosoever carries a precious 
treasure openly in his hand, must be on his guard against thieves. 
I assure thee that the devil is greatly frightened, when he finds that 
God has confided to a man so dear a prize, so noble a treasure as 
thou possessest. He will exert all his skill and cunning to rob thee 
of it. Therefore be prudently on thy guard. And thou canst in no 
way baffle his scheming so well as by boundless humility. Now, dear 
sir, there is no longer any need of my speaking to thee by way of 



32 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

instruction, as 1 did before. For now thou thyself hast that Master 
right and true, whose instrument I have been. Hearken to Him and 
be obedienl ; that do I counsel thee with all my faithful heart. 

"And now I on my part wish to be instructed in divine love by 
thee, for with the help of God I have done thee the favor that God 
led me here to do. So. if God wills, I shall stay a good while with 
thee and hear thy preaching. For if God grants it, I am of opinion 
thai thou shouldst begin preaching again." Then the Master spoke: 
"Dear son. what is thy advice? I have placed many good books in 
pawn for thirty florins." Then said the man: "I will give thee 
that sum of money for God's sake; and if after thy books are 
redeemed aught remains over, thou mayst give it to God ; for all that 
we have is His, whether goods of body or soul." And thus did the 
Master redeem his books. 

He then announced publicly that he would preach the third day 
following. The people were amazed at this, because he had stopped 
preaching for so long a time, and a great throng came to hear him. 
When he saw that the crowd was so great, the Master mounted a 
high pulpit so that all could hear him better. He knelt and covered 
his face with his cowl, and he prayed silently: Merciful and ever- 
lasting God, if it be Thy will, grant me the grace to speak so that 
Thy divine name may be praised and honored, and these people 
thereby advanced in Thy love. And as he said these words, his eyes 
overflowed with tears so abundantly, welling up from his heart, that 
never a word could he utter from the power of his feelings. That 
lasted so long that the people were much annoyed. And a man in 
the crowd spoke: "Sir, how long must we sit here waiting for thee? 
It is already very late; if thou art not going to preach, then say so 
and let us go home." But the Master yet remained weeping and in 
deep recollection, and again did he speak to God: Ah my Lord and 
my Cod, if it be Thy divine will, then take this weeping from my eyes, 
and grant that I may preach this sermon to Thy praise and glory. 
Bnt if Thou dost not do this, so is it a sign that thou deemest that 
I have not yet been despised and scorned enough. Now, dear Lord, 
perfect Thy divine will upon poor me, to Thy praise and to my need. 
Bnt this prayer helped nothing, for the weeping grew harder and 
harder. Then did he understand that God would have it thus. And 
so he addressed the people: "My dear children, it is a deep pain to 
my heart, that 1 have detained you so long, for I can say not a single 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 33 

word for weeping. Pray to God for me that He may help me. And 
I with His grace will preach for your benefit another time — the soonest 
I possibly can." And so the people went away, and this occurrence 
was noised abroad over the whole city. He was greatly ridiculed for 
all this, and made nothing of by everybody. People said: "It is now 
plain enough that he has become a veritable fool." Then his own 
brethren in the monastery strictly forbade him to preach again, for 
this occurrence gave much scandal in their community ; and they said 
that he made the Order a scandal in the people's eyes, by the foolish 
spirituality which he had adopted, and which hurt his brain and made 
an idiot of him. 

Then the Master sent for the man, and he related all that had 
happened to him. The man said : "Dear sir, do not be alarmed at 
this occurrence. The Bridegroom is accustomed thus to try all His 
best loved friends, and this is a certain sign that God is thy good 
friend. Without doubt there was something of pride hidden in thy 
soul unknown to thyself. This is why thou hast been scorned and 
ridiculed. And it may be that hereby thou hast received some great 
gifts from God, of which thou art thyself as yet unaware — granted 
thee through the exercise of patience in this trial. Therefore be at 
peace, and be cheerful and humble. Nor needst thou take this for 
so very strange a thing, for I have known the same and worse to happen 
to others. Thou shouldst not be ashamed of the burden of tins cross 
that God has sent thee, but rather value it as a great treasure, a very 
precious gift of God. I counsel thee to stay by thyself for five days, 
shut off from speech with all men, to the praise and honor of the 
five holy wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ. And when the five days 
are passed, beg thy Prior for leave to deliver a sermon in Latin. If 
he will not permit that, then pray him to try thee in class, and permit 
thee to deliver a lecture to the brethren." 

Now this last permission was granted him. And he lectured to 
the community in so deep-searching a way, that they never heard 
the like in their whole lives, so great and profound a divine doctrine 
did he teach. Then they allowed him to deliver a sermon to the 
people. One day after one of the brethren had preached to the people 
in the church — the same in which the Master had formerly been 
accustomed to preach — that brother announced: "I have been 
directed to announce that the Master will preach in this place 



34 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

tomorrow. If whai happened to him lately should occur again, then 
I am not to he blamed for it. But this much I can truthfully say, 
thai in our convent school he has lectured to us with such great and 
deep doctrine and such divine knowledge as we have not heard this 
many B day. How he will succeed with you God knows, not I." 
The Following day the Master came to the church of that convent (it 
was a convent of nuns) and he began to preach as follows: 



CHAPTER TENTH. 



Dear children, it may well be two years or more since last I 
preached. I then spoke to you of twenty-four points of the spiritual 
life. It was then my custom to use much Latin in my sermons, and 
to divide them into points. But it is now my purpose not to do so 
any more; and when I do speak in Latin, it will be when the educated 
are present who can understand it. And now let us say an Ave Maria 
and beg God's grace. 

Dear children, I have chosen a text for my sermon, and I will 
discuss it and adhere to it. In German it is as follows : 

"Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet Him" (Matt. 
xxv : 6). The Bridegroom is our dear Lord Jesus Christ, and the 
bride is Holy Church and Christianity. Ah, dear children, we are 
thus all spouses of Christ, and we should all gladly go forth to meet 
Him. But in that, alas, we are found wanting. Dear children, the 
right roads and the plain ways on which we should go forth to meet 
the Bridegroom, have become deserted and overgrown,, and we are 
even beginning nowadays to have little knowledge of them at all. 
The road to Christ is strange enough to many a one among us — that 
road on which we should gladly meet our true Bridegroom. Of this, 
with God's help, I will speak on another occasion. But now, knowing 
that we are all chosen to be spouses of Christ, I will have something 
to say, showing how the bride should act if she would really go forth 
to meet the Bridegroom. 

My dear children, a faithful bride should strictly avoid all that is 
against the Bridegroom. That is all vainglory, pride, envy, together 
with all the sins of this world, all the concupiscence of the flesh, 
whether of delicate and luxurious pampering of the body or any other 
such thing: everything indeed except what is of real necessity. And 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor :;:, 

when that happens, that is when the bride for sake of the Bridegroom 
detests all this and forsakes it totally, then does the bride begin to 
be somewhat pleasing to the Bridegroom. 

But if she would become yet more pleasing, then must she humbly 
bow down and say with heart and mouth : Ah my dear Lord Bride- 
groom, Thou knowest all hearts well ; and now with all my heart I 
say this to Thee — that I will do all that lies in my power to learn 
from Thee through my heart's reason, what is pleasing to Thee. Now 
when the bride pays these vows to the Bridegroom, He turns and 
looks upon the bride. Then she requests Him to give her a jewel for 
a keepsake. And what is that jewel? It is that she shall be visited 
with many inner and outer trials, according to the way He is accus- 
tomed to try His special friends. 

But if it happens that the bride is as yet unused to suffering, then 
will she say to Him : "Ah, dear Lord Bridegroom, this is very hard 
upon me, and I feel most anxious lest I shall not be able to endure 
it. Therefore, dear Lord Bridegroom, I beg thee to mak i my suffer- 
ings somewhat lighter, or to take away a part of them. Then the 
Bridegroom says : But let Me ask this, My dear bride : should the 
bride be now better off than the Bridegroom once was? If thou 
wilt go forth to meet the Bridegroom, thou must in some degree 
imitate Him; and it is altogether proper that a faithful bride should 
suffer somewhat out of sympathy with her Bridegroom. 

And Avhen the bride thus heard her Bridegroom's will and perceived 
His earnestness, she was much frightened, and said : Dear Lord 
Bridegroom, Thou must not be angry with me, for I will gladly be 
obedient. Visit me with what trials Thou pleasest, and I will gladly 
suffer it all with Thy help and in Thy love. When the Bridegroom 
heard this, the bride was somewhat more dear to Him than before. 
Therefore He would give her a better cup to drink. Now the draught 
He gave was that she should be quit of all her thoughts, that all doing 
and not doing should become entirely tasteless to her because it had 
ceased to please her in the least degree. No matter how good things 
might be in themselves, as she did them she could only think how 
much she angered her Bridegroom by doing them; and she greatly 
forboded how much punishment she must perhaps suffer for it all. 
As this showed itself outwardly, she was scorned and derided by 
everybody, and whatever she did was accounted nothing but fool- 
ishness. 



;;,; The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Now, dear children, all this time the bride was worn and feeble 
in all 1h T natural powers; she constantly dreaded that she could not 
hold out but inusi finally die during her trial. Therefore she was 
affrighted. This was because she was still cowardly and weak- 
Bpirited. So she invoked her Bridegroom anxiously, and said: Ah, 
dear Lord Bridegroom, how Thou hast terrified me, oh so dreadfully. 
I cannot suffer long this way; I am about to die. Then the Bride- 
groom spoke: If thou wilt go forth rightly to meet the Bridegroom, 
it is lining that thou shouldst first go after Him a part of the way 
Be has gone over. Now the Bridegroom suffered for thirty-three 
years — much shame, hunger, thirst, cold, heat, and bitter torments. 
At last lie suffered a cruel death. And all this he bore out of true 
love of His bride and entirely for her sake. Is it not then proper 
that the bride should risk death for His sake, and out of heart's love 
for Him? Surely, if thou hadst right trust and true love for Him, 
all thy fears would vanish away. 

When the bride heard these words from her Bridgeroom, she was 
much frightened and her whole heart trembled ; and she said : Ah, 
dear Lord, I confess most sincerely that I have done wrong in mur- 
muring; and on that account I am exceedingly afraid. It cuts me to 
the heart that I have not given myself up to Thee most trustfully unto 
death. Dear Lord Bridgeroom, I will now most truthfully promise 
Thee all that Thou wilt have me: Whatever Thou dost will, that do 
I will also: sick or well, for weal or woe, for sweet or bitter, cold or 
hot, dry or wet — just as Thou wilt so do I will. I will give my will 
up to Thee entirely. I will be wholly and gladly obedient to Thee. 
Apart from what Thou dost will, I will never desire anything what- 
soever. Do with me, a poor worthless creature, all that Thou wilt 
in time and in eternity. For, dear Lord, when I consider what there 
is in me and of me, I feel that I am not worthy to tread the earth. 

When the Bridegroom saw this true heartfelt loyalty of the bride, 
and the deep fund of humility in her, what did He do? He was moved 
with pity; and He bestowed a present on the bride, namely, a blessed 
sweel draught. And what draught is this? It is that He caused 
her yet greater trials, and afflicted her with yet greater anguish than 
she ever before had suffered. Now when the bride became aware of 
this, when she knew His stern purpose and His will, she suffered all 
this willingly on the Bridegroom's account. And she bowed down 
humbly before Him, and said : Ah dear Lord Bridegroom, it is indeed 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor :;7 

right that Thou shouldst not will as I will, but rather that I should 
will as Thou dost. From Thy divine hand will I receive this new 
present, all willingly and gladly, and wholly for the sake of Thy love, 
whether to my flesh come weal or woe: for to Thy love and Thy will 
have I most lovingly given myself up. 

When the Bridegroom in His eternal wisdom knew this purpose 
of His bride's soul, knew the downright earnestness of this humble 
bride, then she became very dear to Him. And out of true love He 
left her this present of his — namely to suffer in all her natural 
powers so long as was necessary to cure all her imperfections, and to 
cleanse away all the stains of her former sins, until she should be all 
pure and beautiful. And so He spoke : All hail my well loved bride, 
so beautiful and so well pleasing to Me; for now thou art all clean 
and without spot, and thou art most acceptable to Me. Then did 
He gaze upon her with an immeasurably great and divine affection. 
And presently to the joys of the marriage feast comes the Bridegroom's 
eternal Father, and He says to the bride: All hail, my well loved 
chosen friend. It is now high time that we should go to the church, 
to solemnize the espousals. And then He takes the Bridegroom and 
the bride, and leads them to the church, and He plights them to each 
other, and binds them together in divine love ; and God binds them in 
a union so fast and firm, that the bride says that neither in time nor 
eternity shall they ever be separated. And when they have thus beeD 
made one in the divine espousals, the Bridegroom says : Dear, eternal 
Father, what shall now be our wedding gift to the bride? The Father 
says : That shall be the Holy Ghost, for that office is due to Him as 
standing for the Father Upon this was poured into the bride the 
overflowing divine love, so superabundant that it seemed to overflow 
upon even the Bridegroom. And now the Bride was ravished out 
of herself, and was wholly inebriated with love, and became forgetful 
of self and of all creatures in time and eternity. 

Now, my dear children, whosoever has been invited to so noble a 
spiritual espousals, and has accepted the invitation and come to the 
marriage feast, the same shall begin to taste the true, the solemnly 
promised, the richly gifted sweetness of the Holy Ghost. This bride 
is then a true adorer, for she prays to the Father in the Holy Ghost. 
At this marriage feast is joy upon joy. Here in one hour more peace 
and joy is had than all creatures in time and eternity can ever bestow. 



38 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

The joy of the bride with the Bridegroom is greater than any human 
mind can ever comprehend. 

As the .Master reached thus far in his sermon and spoke these words, 
a certain man cried out very loud: "It is true!" and he fell down as 
if he were dead. And then a woman cried out from among the 
people: "Sir, stop speaking, or this man will die on our hands." 
Then the Master said: Ah, dear children, the Bridegroom then took 
the bride and led her away to His home. Let us gladly leave her to 
Him. And thus will I make an end of my sermon. Dear children, 
let us all call out to heaven to our God and Lord for His help. For 
there is sore need to do so, since we have grown so dull and foolish 
that we have no compassion one for another, although we know that 
we have been named by God brothers and sisters. There are few 
enough among us who are willing to crucify their flesh in imitation 
of the Bridegroom, and in order to obtain a better joy and have an 
espousals rich in graces. 

You should know that in our days there are not many who have 
in all sincerity gone forth to meet the Bridegroom, as many a one 
did in former times. Hence the need that every one of us should 
study his soul, and take earnest account of himself. For the time 
approaches and is indeed now come, that most of those living here 
have eyes and see not, have ears and hear not. Dear children, let all 
of us strive to win to this most blessed, loving and joyous marriage 
feast. 

Now after the bride had taken her departure from the espousals 
and was left to herself, and found herself still living amid this life's 
misery, then she said in her soul: Alas, poor me, miserable me; am 
I yet in this life? And so she was somewhat sad within herself. 
But she was so entirely detached in her inmost soul, and so perfectly 
humbled towards her Bridegroom, that she dared not so much as 
think of or desire her Bridegroom's return, esteeming herself wholly 
unworthy of Him. But therefore did the Bridegroom by no means 
desert her, but He looked upon her from time to time, for He knew 
full well that no one could comfort her except Himself alone. 

Now, dear children, do not be astonished that I have not told you 
how affectionately the Bridegroom conversed with the bride. It is 
possible that men would not believe me (except it be one here and 
there who has tasted this sweet union), if I told them the strange 
and marvellous words the bride speaks with her Bridegroom. We 



of John Tauler, t he Illuminated Doctor 



39 



find such things in the Scripture; for when the inner soul speaks 
with its beloved the words cannot be perfectly uttered. And even 
in these days, it happens that when the espoused soul speaks out loud 
with its Bridegroom, those who listen say that the soul is drunk, or 

silly. , „ , .. 

Now, dear children, I fear that I have held you too long. But it 
did not seem long to me; and I meant it all very kindly. Nor could 
I on this occasion be easily more brief, if I would rightly explain 
this matter. So I beg you to take it in good part. God grant us all 
to become true and perfect brides of our Lord Jesus Christ; that we 
may go forth in real and boundless self-abandonment and humility 
to meet our blessed Bridegroom; and that we may ever and eternally 
remain espoused to Him. To this happy lot may God the Father, 
and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost lovingly assist is. Amen. 



CHAPTER ELEVENTH. 



When this sermon was over, the Master went and offered mass, and 
he gave God's body in communion to several good souls. But fully 
forty men staid behind in the churchyard lying as it were in a swoon. 
Now the man who had previously given counsel to the Master, when 
he learned of this, told the Master of it, and when mass was over he 
led him to the churchyard that he might see these people and consider 
what ailed them. But while mass was being said they had risen up 
and gone away, all but twelve, who still lay there. Then the Master 
said to the man : "Dear son, what thinkest thou we should do with these 
men'" Then the man went from one to another of them and touched 
them. But they moved very little, and lay there almost as if they 
were dead. This was a very strange thing to the Master, for he had 
never seen the like before. So he said to the man: -Tell me; what 
dost thou think? Are these people dead or living?" The man smi led 
and said: "Were they dead, the blame would be on thee and the 
Bridegroom. How canst thou bring them back to consciousness? 
The Master spoke: "If the Bridegroom is with me in tins under- 
taking, then can I indeed restore them." Then the man said: These 
men are still alive, and I beg thee to request the sisters' leave to have 
them carried under shelter, lest by exposure to the night air and by 
lyin^ on the cold earth, they should catch cold." And so the Master 



10 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

had them carried into a warm place. Then the sisters said: "Dear 
■ir, here is one of our sisters to whom the same thing has happened, 
and \vh<> lies in bed as if she were dead." The Master said: "Have 
B i are, my dear children, for all these sick people for God's sake, and 
aa soon as any of them returns to consciousness, give him something 
warm if lie is able to lake it." And the sisters said that Ihey would 
gladly do so. And now the Master took his departure, and the man 
also, and they went to the Master's cell. Then the man spoke: "Now, 
dear sir, what thinkesl thou? Didst thou ever see the like of this in 
thy whole life? Thou now seest plainly what wonders God will do 
by one who is a fit instrument of his work. Dear sir, I foresee that 
this sermon will move many people, and they will discuss it one with 
another. If it be thy will, I would advise that thou leave these weak 
children awhile in peace, for they must have a long time to deal with 
this discourse. And if thou thinkest well of it, and God is favorable, 
then thou mightest give a sermon to people of the secular state of 
life, for it is now the time of Lent. The Master willingly complied, 
and he preached very well to the people living in the world, several 
of whom were greatly improved. 

The next year it happened that the Master went to a certain 
monastery of nuns, and five of the sisters begged him for the love of 
God to give them a sermon, instructing them how a true religious 
should pass her life. Then the Master said: "That I will gladly 
do, with God's blessing, next Sunday." And when he arrived, many 
people attended the sermon, and the Master entered anu began as 
follows: 



CHAPTER TWELFTH. 

1 >ear children, St. Paul gives us good instruction in this day's 
Epistle, from which I make this extract: "I know a mau in Christ 
above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not, or out of 
the body, I know not; God knoweth), such a one caught up to the 
third heaven" i II Cor. xii:2). Now we notice that our dear apostle, 
who is speaking of himself, had kept these wonderful things secret for 
fourteen years, nor would he ever have revealed them but by God's 
permission. Be did not do as people do nowadays. For if some 
little grace is granted them, they f^orthw^thJblazen it abroad without 




of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 41 

God's leave, telling it to others who know as little as themselves what 
it may signify. This is very foolish, and is an injury to themselves. 
Therefore be on your guard against such an indiscretion. We find 
few men, alas, in our time who have correct judgment in such matters. 
Therefore, dear children, no one should without God's permission 
publish around the graces he may have received. God granted leave 
to St. Paul to tell us his wonderful experiences, and this was for our 
improvement. And also to teach the doctrine that when God gives 
a man the antecedent and unmerited graces, he should not s-hrink from 
any heavy task God may lay upon him; as He did in the case of St. 
Paul. 

And, dear children, you must know that God's gifts are to come 
to us through suffering; and if they come before suffering, then are 
they none the less to be preserved by suffering. And because suffering 
so greatly ennobles the soul, and is so fruitful of good to it, therefore 
does God give great suffering to his dear, holy friends, and He did 
especially to His only begotten Son. Men suffer in this life by God's 
will, and this is on account of the fruitfulness of suffering. This 
is why God granted leave to St. Paul to tell us of his sufferings, and 
also of his graces. In this day's Epistle he says: "In many more 
labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths 
often. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes, save one. 
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered 
shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea. In 
journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils 
from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, 
in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false 
brethren" (II Cor. xi : 23-26). 

These and many other pains and miseries did the apostle suffer, 
and why? Further on in this Epistle he tells us why sufferings were 
sent him : "And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, 
there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan to buffet me. 
For which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart 
from me. And He said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for 
power is made perfect in infirmity." And then St. Paul adds : 
"Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of 
Christ may dwell in me" (II Cor. xii:7-9). Now, dear children, it 
behooves us to believe St. Paul when he says suffering is useful and 
fruitful, and imitate his example in bearing all kinds of inflictions. 



42 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

For be sure that if ever we come to a fruitful Christian life, there 
is no other way but this: a voluntary renunciation of our nature, so 
that a man shall take leave of all natural joy, and do it from his 
inmost heart, providing only for reasonable necessity and that solely 
because it advances him nearer to God. Whatever provision for 
nature is over and above that, he must renounce wholly and be totally 
stripped of. 

Be 6ure that nobody can possess and taste God's sweetness, until 
he has put away from him and totally rooted out the inclinations of 
the life of the senses, and the concupiscence of his entire nature. 
Hence did St. Paul again say: "For if you live according to the 
flesh, you shall die : but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the 
flesh, you shall live" (Rom. viii : 13). My dear children, we must 
frame ourselves into the sweet image of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here 
again St. Paul teaches us to put off the old man and clothe ourselves 
with Christ: "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not pro- 
vision for the flesh in its concupiscences" (Rom. xiii : 14). 

But even beyond all this there is a much nobler and greater self- 
denial. For after the spirit has fully vanquished the flesh, and has 
suppressed all the lower, sensual, fleshly uprisings of nature, then 
does the spirit leap upward into things eternal, and the spiritual life 
becomes full of sweetness, and the former works of nature are heartily 
hated. Now when that happens, when a man's spirit begins to enjoy 
supernatural things, all very high and noble, another step must be 
taken. As first of all he renounced all the sweetness of nature, it 
now remains for him to renounce his own will. And he must give 
up joy in spirtual things; he must renounce the superfluities of the 
spirit as he did before those of nature; he must give up to God, and 
let Him do His work in him just as He pleases. And heroin does he 
first come to real self-renunciation, real and true, arriving at that 
poverty of spirit which is rewarded with the kingdom of heaven. 

Now, my dear children, it happens that some souls, drawing them- 
selves inward, place their joy in themselves, picking and choosing 
what pleases them in the spiritual life. They do not abandon them- 
selves to God, but all in self-will they follow their own self-chosen 
devotional methods. The souls that act that way enjoy God's gifts 
and graces inordinately, receiving little fruit, and sometimes none at 
all. Now God knows that if He should cast a brighter light upon 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 43 

such people's faults, and if He withdrew from them their devotional 
sweetness, they would not remain faithful to Him. That is why He 
gives such spirits the sweet solace of religious feeling, lest they should 
quite give up His service. They are yet petty and weak of character ; 
and the reason is because they are full of self-will. They are very 
dear to themselves. As to perfection, they mistake the show for the 
reality. They are essentially outward characters, having little 
interior life. Hence they are all too readily led astray. 

But there are other souls, who have given up to God in a state of 
most interior detachment, receiving everything from God with equal 
indifference whether it be bitter or sweet. And if spiritual joy 
departs, that loss moves them not one whit farther from God. These 
souls prefer the reality to the show of perfection ; they lead spiritual 
lives fruitful of the essentials of religion. They are the true, interior 
spirits. 

And you should know this: the man who has thus freely given up 
everything in the body and in the soul that is not God has made great 
and indescribable progress. What he now needs is the counsel of the 
wise and the good. And he must also very carefully cultivate a deep, 
a boundless humility, and in that constantly abide, for the evil beasts of 
hell never give over their purpose to destroy him. 

Dear children, deep resignation — that is to say, a sincere detachment 
from all our natural inclinations — is a good beginning. But that should 
be inspired with real humility, as St. Peter teaches : "Be you humbled, 
therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in the 
time of visitation" (I Peter v, 6). Dear children, could wo but 
learn how to be gladly and totally free from desires, that would bo good. 
Upon this subject St. Dionysius speaks: "When it happens that God 
actually and truly dwells within my soul, then is my spirit so exalted 
that it seems to me that nothing in the world is lacking to mo. and if He 
at the same moment made all created things subject to me, it would not 
be a favor done me. But when it happens that God is in my soul 
only by His presence and by way of satisfaction in Him and perception 
of His sovereignty, then do I yet have a longing for Him, and thai long- 
ing can only exist because of some imperfection of which I am guilty; 
for, as Solomon teaches, we should have peace in all Divine works." 
Thus does St. Dionysius reckon interior longing to be in a kind of a 
way a defect, for it is self-evident that if one longs for entire detach- 
ment he has not yet fully attained to it. The most perfeel detachment is 



14 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

to be detached from one's very detachment, if we may say so. But this 
will seem a strange doctrine to certain men among us, who are advocat- 
ing novel and erroneous views, for they have beheld God only according 
to their own spiritual joys. 

But 1 must now grant the request of these Sisters and tell them what 
are the virtues proper to their state of life. And I say this: A true 
nun should all her life long be purified from all creatures and be 
detached from them. She should have so pure a soul that it may be 
tit and able to help to eternal salvation all who hold the faith of Christ. 
Bui one of the Sisters might say : I have so much human weakness that 
it is necessary for me to be now and then recreated and refreshed with 
human company, and I must spend some time conversing with people. 
I answer : Alas, thou poor creature, in this thou art under the guidance 
of the devil! Make up thy mind that whosoever seeks in the cloister 
anything else but willing suffering through God enters there very unad- 
visedly. Some enter the cloister with such motives that it seems a sin 
for them to live on the alms given to their order, for they would be very 
unwilling to practice actual poverty; that is to say, to lead the life of 
those poor people on the streets who are in actual want and subsist by 
begging. Besides this, when a Sister joins the community she should set 
about becoming free from all imperfections of the bodily and of the 
spi ritual life. She must willingly go along with Jesus Christ to Calvary 
and be crucified with Him for the salvation of all mankind. For Christ 
exclaimed from the cross : "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken 
Me?" (Matt, xxvii, 46). And as God the Father did thus forsake His 
only begotten Son for men's salvation, so must all true monks and nuns 
forsake all created things, all worldly and fleshly desires. Otherwise, 
they have their labor for their pains. Holy Mary Magdalen was a true 
nun, for she willingly gave up all self-love and gladly chose to be 
deprived of all human help. 

The Heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son in human nature, 
that He might endure suffering, and we would fly from all suffer- 
ing. I tell you emphatically that, do what we may, if we would find 
the safest and the shortest and the most reasonable way to perfection, 
i hen we have no choice but to set our Lord's life and passion before us as 
our pattern and follow after Him by suffering. 

Bui I must tell you something else: The Heavenly Father is not so 
hard with us as He was with His only begotten Son. If we will but give 
ourselves to God in a state of suffering and do it with all our powers; 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 4 .~i 

if we but gladly accept sufferings because He so wills it; if we do not 
seek to escape from suffering when He visits it upon us, but stand fast 
and firm: when the Heavenly Father finds us at last thus disposed 
toward Him, then, in due time, He will withdraw all suffering from us 
and He will bestow on us a comfort divinely joyful. When a man 
experiences these happy and gracious joys in his espousals with God, 
he will never again think of earthly joys. The joys even of Christmas 
and of Easter seem to him to be all merged in the unbroken happiness 
of his perpetual marriage feast, as God ever comes to him with over- 
flowing supernatural graces. Whatever day that first happens to him 
is the great day of his heavenly jubilation. 

Dear children, these are the reasons why we should gladly suflvr all 
that our tender Father inflicts upon us. W T e know full well that the 
man who through suffering attains to the Divine espousals is made a 
wise man, and his life is a well-ordered life. He overflows with the 
influence of the Holy Ghost, giving him plain guidance what to do and 
what to leave undone and making all his activity spiritually fruitful. 
But, meanwhile, such a man makes nothing of himself. He is pro- 
foundly humble, and he feels a continual fear, dreading lest he is falling 
short of his duty to his well-loved Father. God grant us to learn how to 
suffer in all our life. May God the Father and the Son and the Holy 
Ghost help us to enjoy the Divine espousals. Amen. 



CHAPTER THIRTEENTH. 

Dear child, if thou wilt finally come to thy perfection and to God, 
thou must observe three things: Firstly — Thou must make God thy one 
and only motive and meaning, seeking God's honor in everything and 
by no means thy own honor — His will and not thy own. Secondly — In 
all external activity thou shalt keep a close watch on thyself. Gaze 
down into thy own utter nothingness and take good heed of that. Look 
carefully to thy relations to persons and things around about thee, and 
to thy own sentiments and feelings about them, looking inward toward 
thy most secret thoughts. Thirdly — Meddle not with what does not 
concern thee. Let things be as they are, if they are not committed to 
thy charge. What is good, is good; what is bad, is bad, and thou canst 
not help it. Turn inward to thy own soul and there abide, waiting for 
the tones of thy Father's voice calling thee to be and remain steadfastly 
in Him. 



Mi The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

And. O dear child, if thou wilt but observe these two other things, 
thou shalt win a great victory. Firstly — Thou must in all sincerity be 
little in thy own esteem, whether thou considerest thy outward or thy 
inward Life. Nor should this sentiment be in words only, but in thy 
heart's truest sincerity. Reckon thyself as of small account, yea, of no 
account at all, and let this be the clear persuasion of thy mind and the 
strong feeling of thy heart, with not the least taint of hypocrisy. Sec- 
ondly — Have true Divine love. And this is not to be what we call love 
in our life of the senses, but rather that essential manner of loving by 
which our intention is fixed singly and wholly on God in our inmost 
soul. 

O man, thou shalt be void of all attention, understanding and activity 
of the senses that is not directed to God, because the Lord God Him- 
self is empty and void [to thy apprehension] in order that the spirit 
may be assimilated to the infinite, absolute Divine essence. It is neces- 
sary that thy soul should thus stand free and detached if it shall ever be 
able to comprehend the hidden mystery of familiar union with God. 
Thus must a man renounce all things in which he detects any trace of 
self-love. Amen. 



CHAPTER FOURTEENTH. 

And now you must know that this Master increased in a godly life 
and became, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, so wise that he was often 
called on to preach both to the clergy and the laity, following the way 
we have described. He was much loved in both town and country. What- 
ever weighty matter was to be settled, he was called on for guidance, 
not only in spiritual, but also in temporal affairs, for his advice was 
implicitly followed. When the Master had passed eight years of these 
fruitful labors it was God's will to leave him no longer in this state of 
exile. And He would have him come to Him without any purgatory. 
God then sent him the decree of death. He was attacked by a severe 
illness and lay abed for full twenty weeks, a most painful time and full 
of deep sorrows. Finally he knew, in the grace of the Holy Ghost, 
that he was about to bid farewell to this world, for God would now 
reward him for his labors. Therefore did the Master send for that 
holy man, his beloved friend, telling him that he had not long to live. 
The man was obedient and came to the Master, who received him very 
affectionately. The man was glad to find him yet alive, and he said: 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 47 

"Dear sir, how art thou?" The Master answered: ik I believe that the 
time is at hand when God would take me out of this life. Therefore, 
dear son, it is a great comfort to me that thou shalt be with me at my 
end. And I pray thee to take the books lying there. Thou shalt find 
written in them all the conferences that thou gavest to me and my 
answer to thy words. Thou shalt also find there some account of my 
life and of what God has done for me, His poor, unworthy servant. 
Dear son, if thou thiukest well of it and God grants thee the grace to 
do it, thou wilt make a little book of all this." Then the man spoke : 
"Dear sir, I have written down thy five sermons, and if thou approve 
of it I will add them to the little book thou askest me to make about 
thee." Then the Master said: "I admonish thee with all the earnest- 
ness I am capable of, and for the love of God, that thou shalt write 
nothing about me and shall not mention my name. For thou shouldst 
certainly know that my way of life, the words, the works that have 
been done through me, a poor, unworthy, sinful man, are not mine, 
but Almighty God's — they are His alone, now and forevermore. There- 
fore, dear son, if thou shalt write the little book for the benefit of our 
fellow-Christians, so write it that neither my name nor thine shall once 
be mentioned. Thou mayst, however, use the words — the Master, the 
man. Again, permit not this little book to be read or to be seen by 
anyone in this city, for they would easily know that T was the Master 
named. Take it with thee into thy own country, lest my interior life 
should be be revealed in this place." 

During full eleven days the Master conversed with the man. And 
then the time came when he must die. And he said : "Dear son, I beg 
thee, for God's sake, that thou wilt consent, if God is willing, that after 
ray death my spirit should appear to thee and tell thee how it is with 
me." Then the man said: "Dear Sir, if God pleases, I will gladly 
consent." 

And it came to pass that when he was dying the Master had a manner 
and appearance the most shocking and fearful, so that all the brethren 
in the monastery, and, indeed, others from without, were distressed and 
amazed, such was the anguish that he seemed to endure when he died. 
His death caused universal sorrow, both in his community and in the 
city generally. When people were told of the long and confidential 
friendship between him and the man, many came to see the latter and 
wished to show him honor, inviting him to visit them. But when this 
happened he instantly left the city and returned home. And while 1 he 



|v The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

was \<i on his journey, the third day after the Master's death, he and 
his servant were overtaken by nightfall at a little village. Seeing a 
Dobleman going along the road, he said to him: "Dear friend, is there 
an inn in this Tillage?" The nobleman answered: "No." And the man 
said : "Wilt thou be so kind, dear friend, to give us a night's lodging for 
the love of God? and we will pay thee what thou wilt." The nobleman 
answered : "If thou will put up with our accommodations I will gladly 
lodge you as best I may." And he led them to his house. And so he lay 
down to sleep in a room, and the servant lay on the straw in the barn. 

Now, it happened during the night that the man awoke, and presently 
he heard a voice speaking, but he saw no one. Then he began to be fright- 
ened, and he made the sign of the cross on himself. The voice spoke: 
''Fear not, my dear son, it is I, the Master." Then spoke the man : "My 
dear Master, is it thou? Then I do beg of thee from my heart's depths 
to tell me, if such be God's will, how 7 it is with thee and how it happened 
that thou hadst so distressful a death? For thy brethren in the mon- 
astery almost despaired for thee; thy own fellow-religious, it would 
seem, were much shocked at the manner of thy death." Then the Mas- 
ter's voice spoke: "Dear son, I will tell thee, and thou must know that 
the Lord God willed me to have so painful and anxious an end in order 
that the holy angels might receive my soul instantly after death and 
bear it away to Heaven. And I must tell thee, besides, that thou also 
shalt, for the same reason, have the same distressful kind of a death. 
It was necessary for me to suffer that trial in order to escape the pains 
of purgatory. I must tell thee, too, that the evil spirit caused me 
grievous pain and tempted me with great cunning, so that I was much 
alarmed lest I should fall into despair. But, however dreadful was my 
suffering at death, I now see how little it was compared to the additional 
joy granted me on that account by the Almighty, Eternal and Merciful 
God. The instant that my soul was parted from my body the blessed 
angels took it and they bore me away to Paradise. And they said to me : 
'Here shall thou tarry five days; but have no anxiety, nor the least fear 
that the evil spirits will harm thee more; nor shalt thou have any toil. 
Only this : Thou shalt be postponed here for five days from the everlast- 
ing and blissful company of Heaven. At the end of that time we will 
come to thee again and we will lead thee into the unspeakable joy of 
Beaven.' Now. dear son, more than this I dare not tell thee, nor mayst 
thou [awfully ask to know. I pray God to reward thee for thy good 
spiritual teaching of me and thy most profitable counsel. For this I 
can never give God and thyself sufficient thanks." 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 49 

Then the man spoke : "Dear sir, I beg of thee from the depths of my 
heart that when thou shalt come to God thou wilt pray for me." What 
the man said after this received no answer. And then, being tired out, 
he would gladly have slept, and turned now on one side and then on the 
other, but all in vain. He could rest no more that night, and he was 
so anxious that he could scarcely wait the break of day. At daylight 
he instantly wrote to the Prior of the monastery and to the brethren 
there all that the Master's spirit had said to him. He then returned 
to his home, and in due time he made a good and happy end. 

May we all follow the sweet example of our Lord Jesus Christ , so that 
we may pass through this miserable life and all its transitory joys and 
enter the ever-enduring joys of Heaven with God and His elect. May 
God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, grant us that 
unspeakable favor. Amen. 

END OF THE HISTORY OF MASTER JOHN TAULER. 



THE INTERVIEW OF MASTER JOHN TAULER 
WITH A BEGGAR.* 

There was once a famous Master of holy learning who for eight years 
prayed God to send him a man able to teach him the way of truth. It 
happened one day that this longing was more than usually earnest 
within bim, and presently he heard a voice from on bigh, saying: "Go 
forth to the church door and thou shalt find the man thou hast been 
looking for." Going to the church door, the Master met a beggar there. 
He was in a miserable plight, his feet covered with mud and all his tat- 
tered clothes not worth three pennies. The Master said : "Goo 1 day, 
my friend." The beggar : "I never remember to have had a bad day my 
whole life long." The Master: "May God grant thee prosperity/' The 
beggar: "I never have known adversity." The Master: "Well, then, 
may God make thee happy." The beggar : "T have never been unhappy/' 
The Master : "At any rate, may God save thee. And I beg thee to speak 
more plainly to me, for I do not catch thy meaning." The beggar : "Thou 
didst bid me good day and I answered that I have never had a bad one. 



♦The authenticity of this incident is more than doubtful. It is not given in the 
German critical edition of Tauler that we have followed in our translation. But 
we give it here because it is inseparably associated with Tauler's name and 
career, and is in itself very instructive. 



50 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

In fact, when I am bungry, I praise God; when I am cold, or it hails, 
or snows, or rains, if the air is clear or foggy, I praise God. If I am 
favored 1>\ men or despised, I praise Him equally. And all this is why 
1 have never known a bad day. Thou didst wish me prosperity, and I 
answered that 1 have never known adversity, for I have learned to live 
with God, and I am certain that all that He does can be naught but good. 
Therefore, all thai happens to me that is pleasing, or the contrary — 
sweet or bitter — I receive from Him as being very good for me. Thus 
I have never been in adversity. Thou hast wished me happiness, and I 
answered that I have never been unhappy, for I have resolved to fix my 
affections only on the Divine will. Hence it comes that I desire only 
what God desires." The Master: "But what wouldst thou say if God 
would will to cast thee into hell?" The beggar: "God cast me into 
hell? If He did it, I would embrace Him with my two arms. With the 
a i in of humility I would embrace His sacred humanity, and with the 
arm of love I would embrace His divinity, and I would thus force Him 
to descend with me into hell. For hell with Him would be more happy 
than Heaven without Him." The Master concluded from this that 
resignation, united to profound humility, is the shortest road to God. 
Then he asked the beggar: "Whence comest thou?" The beggar: 
•From God." The Master : "Where didst thou find God ?" The beggar : 
•Where I left all creatures." The Master: "Where is God?" The 
beggar : "In hearts that are pure and in men of good-will." The Master : 
"Who art thou ?" The beggar : "I am a king." The Master : "Where is 
thy kingdom?" The beggar: "In my soul; for I have learned to order 
and govern my interior faculties and my exterior senses in such a way 
that I am master of all my affections and of all the powers of my soul. 
Now, that kingdom is certainly to be preferred to all the kingdoms of 
the world." The Master : "By what means hast thou gained this degree 
of perfection?" The beggar: "By silence, meditation and union with 
God. I have never been able to find rest in anything, be it what it 
might, that was less than God. I have found my God, and in Him I 
have found rest and peace eternal." 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 51 



Afcwnt attb 3t0 mtBaatiB 

Synopsis — Mortal sin — Uses of suffering — Interior life — Our Saviour's 
three motives. 



SERMON FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT. 

It is now the hour for us to arise from sleep. — Rom. xiii, 11. 

Today we celebrated the beginning of Advent, the coming of our Lord. 
A precious time has begun for us, and we find during this season words 
of joy and devotion in the lessons and songs of holy Church. Even as 
the month of May is the most delightful and beautiful part of the year, 
so the season of Advent has a holiness and sweetness all its own. It is 
the time toward which the prophets and saints of the ancient covenant 
during four thousand years sighed with incomparable ardor, crying out 
to God: "O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down!" 
(Isaias, Ixiv, 1.) to deliver those that sit in darkness and in the shadow 
of death. All the happenings, all the symbols of the Old Testament, had 
the one end of setting forth the grandeur of Him who was to come, and 
who now has come. Let us, then, thank God and always praise Him, 
that He has created us at this time and under this law of grace, that He 
has willed to give us His gifts and His riches in such abundance, if we 
will only take them. The Holy Apostle exhorts us to awake from the 
sleep of sin : "The night is passed, the day is at hand * * * let us 
walk honestly as in the day" (Rom. xiii, 12-13). We must, therefore, 
consider carefully how we have fallen and how we can rise again out of 
our sins and vices to our first innocence. 

God created us to fill the places from which Lucifer and His angels 
were driven out. Through hate and envy of us Lucifer treacherously 
led the first man into disobedience and caused him to lose all the graces 
and virtues which made him like God and the angels. In this way was 
man poisoned and his noble nature stained. By his sin he wounded it 
mortally. And by this transgression has come upon us blindness of 
reason, perversity of will, disorder of the appetite of concupiscence 
and weakness in resisting evil. "Man when he was in honor did not 



52 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

understand; he hath been compared to senseless beasts and made like 
unto them" (Ts. xlviii, 21). 

We thus have three enemies to combat, which triumph, unhappily, 
almost universally, and rule in the breasts of nearly all men — the world, 
the devil and the flesh. When these three enemies have worked their will 
in man his soul is lost — that soul so noble, chosen out bv God with so 
much love — for he who allows himself to be wholly overcome shall most 
certainly go down to eternal death. God's friends — those who seek in 
all things II is glory — can hardly keep back their tears when they behold 
the hateful tyranny with which these three enemies hold sway over so 
gnat a multitude of men, among whom they usurp the place of God. 
And these souls are to be found both in the worldly state of life and in 
the cloister. To God's friends the eternal destruction of their brethren 
is a great torture. Their hearts wither away with sorrow as they con- 
sider that self-love is so rooted in the world that there are few who love 
God purely and tend toward Him solely. 

The world rules by pride — exterior pride or that of the spirit. How 
many men belong to this order of the devil ! They wish to be something, 
to make a fine showing, and they could not count their sins and vices 
if they tried. Satan excites his subjects to hate, wrath, bitterness, sus- 
picions, rash judgments and revenge, to aversions and discord. His 
disciples are glad to sow dissensions; they are without love for their 
brethren. Our flesh seeks its own interest in everything, in all sensual 
and voluptuous pleasures. Men ignore all the misery this surely brings, 
those above all who suffer from it. Bv these three enemies is the 
greater part of men drawn into hell. If one wishes to recover his first 
glory and the dignity which Adam lost by sin and which we have lost 
with him; if one wishes, I say, to make a place in his heart for the 
coming of Jesus Christ, he must flee from the world, triumph over 
demons, overcome his flesh with sound reason and in all discretion, and 
carefully exercise himself in the virtues which I shall explain to you. 

In the earthly paradise man fell by two things — sensuality and pride. 
Now we must rise up and regain the early force of our nature by two 
things. Firstly — We must resist courageously and with judgment, even 
unto death, every ill-regulated pleasure. Secondly — W T e must humble 
ourselves in deep abasement, not only under God, against whom we have 
risen in pride, but even under all men. W r ouldst thou rise to the first 
place, choose always the lowest. By these two means it is that nature 
wins back her first energy. 






of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 53 

Man must become like the angels in two ways. Firstly — He must 
willingly pardon all who have offended him and love his enemies sin- 
cerely, as do the angels in our case when we vex them by our sins. Sec- 
ondly — He must render willing service to our neighbor, even as the 
angels serve us for the love of God. In two ways we should become like 
God — in the practice of obedience after our Saviour's example, who 
obeyed His Heavenly Father even unto death, and by growth and perse- 
verance in that virtue and in all others. Thus do we become heavenly 
men ; thus are we made one spirit with God through deep humility, by 
entire yielding up of self, by patience full of sweetness, by poverty of 
spirit and by warmth of charity. All who do this — and their number, 
alas ! is very small — shall triumph over their foes. God will free them 
from the heavy burdens which weigh them down and help them in bear- 
ing the trials, many and painful, which He sends ; for he sends trials in 
order that men entering within themselves may consider the reasons of 
these trials, so that being, as it were, thrown back on themselves by 
suffering, they may be kept in a state of recollection. He wishes them to 
ask themselves why God crushes them beneath so heavy a weight; for 
whithersoever God shall lead them by these trials they must follow, sub- 
missive to His Divine will. Again, God sends trials so that men may 
depart from themselves and from all creatures, and likewise that by 
suffering they may have patience. 

But in what does this patience consist? Is it that a man is inacces- 
sible to all external emotion ? No ; certainly not. To be truly patient 
is to hold for certain that no one can do us wrong; nay, far more than 
that, we feel that those who make us suffer are right in what they do 
against us, that they ought, indeed, to torment us yet more, and that 
we ought to feel a tender gentleness toward them. Such patient men 
follow Jesus Christ in His humility, who says : "If you continue in My 
word you shall be My disciples, indeed; and you shall know the truth, 
and the truth shall make you free" (John viii, 31-32) . 

There are two ways of hearing the Word of Jesus Christ. Some hear 
it with joy, as far as they can; reason and the senses listen to it with 
pleasure; but this is only a natural light. What they cannot feel nor 
taste they reject, and, since such food cannot satisfy them, they cease 
not running about looking for something new, something more that they 
can hear and understand. They do not perceive that they must stop 
these useless searchings and adopt another way if they would become 
better. The others, on the contrary, enter within themselves and dwell 
in the remotest depth of their being, observing simply by their reason, 



54 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

enlightened by grace, the commands of God, and they wait until He 
calls them and invites them directly and without any perceptible inter- 
mediary whither He wills to conduct them. Whatever Divine influence 
comes by such exterior means as perishable creatures has little flavor; is, 
as it were, wrapped up in multiplicity and contains a seed of bitterness. 
One finds herein a certain savor of the creature, from which the posses- 
sion of God must be freed if the spirit shall truly taste Him and if He 
shall sink into the deepest depths of the soul. Those who look within 
themselves for the gifts and decrees of God partake of them at their very 
fountainhead, and there they give them back again. They draw and taste 
at the very fountainhead, whilst the former class are self-seekers in 
everything. And yet nowhere can they find their own selves in a way 
so certain and so simple as in that innermost depth, where we feel the 
immediate presence of God. 

Perhaps you will ask me how we can do and observe without hin- 
drance what God requires of us? It is by being careful to dwell within 
ourselves. Let each one dwell within and give over all seeking on the 
outside. So shall a man soon and surely learn what he should do, what 
God wills of him interiorly and exteriorly; and, when he know T s it, let 
him yield himself to God and follow along whatsoever road He shall 
conduct him, whether it be in the active life or the contemplative or 
the unitive, in suffering or in joy. If God gives him nothing, let him 
resign himself simply to His will, and, for love of Him, agree to be 
deprived of His gifts. And let him sink yet deeper into his inner life, 
having ever before his eyes the dear image of our Lord. Our Lord had 
three motives in all His actions; He sought only His Heavenly 
Father's glory, with no thought of anything else, great or small, and 
He referred all to His Father's glory. Secondly— From the depths 
of His being He willed our salvation and our happiness. He willed 
the salvation of all, and to bring all to the knowledge of His name; even 
as St. Paul says that God "Will have all men to be saved and come to the 
knowledge of the truth" (I Tim., ii, 4). Thirdly— In all His words 
and deeds and life our Lord willed to leave us in an eminent degree the 
true pattern and exemplar of a perfect life. His followers are the 
noblest and most lovable of all men. Those who are born spiritually 
with Him are the choicest treasures of the Church— always striving 
after perfection and having no care if their works be great or small, but 
in all things seeing only God. and therefore it is that their works are 
perfect. They do by no means consider whether God shall set them very 
high or very low, for they have taste only for the Divine will. 

.May God grunt us these dispositions ! . Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 55 



(going into % Insert to iFino (Soil 

Synopsis — Spiritual direction — Self-knowledge — Brotherly love — Lov- 
ing God — Growth in love — Imitation of the saints — Beholding 
Christ — Sensible devotion. 



SERMON FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT.* 

What went ye out into the desert to see? — Matt, xi, 7. 

Our Lord asks the Jews: "What went ye out into the desert to see? 
A reed shaken by the wind?" We find in these words three matters for 
consideration — the going out, the desert, and what they went to see. 
Let us first speak of the going out. This is done in four ways, for we 
must go out from the world, that is to say, from its concupiscence, by 
contempt for it, according to St. John's words : "Love not the world, 
nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the 
charity of the Father is not in him" (I John, ii, 15). Those who 
renounce the love of the world depart truly out of Egypt; they leave 
King Pharaoh's service in renouncing pride, vainglory, presumption and 
all other sins; and those who would go out of the world have great need 
of finding a Moses who will serve them as conductor — one who will be 
like the first Moses, full of gentleness and compassion. They need a 
guide — sweet, kindly and patient — who will make their going forth, 
which costs so dearly, more easy to them. There are others who go forth 
out of Sodom and Gomorrah, that is to say, from avarice, intemperance 
and impurity, and who have still to suffer dire assaults from these vices. 
They should have an angel for director and counsellor; that is to say, a 
man compassionate, grave and of an austere manner of life. He who 
allows himself to be thus directed or led will surely escape pride, avarice 
and sensuality, according to the words of Isaias: "For you shall go 
out with joy and be led forth with peace" (Isaias lv, 12). Or, accord- 
ing to our Saviour: "In the world you shall have distress" (John xvi, 
33), and in Me, peace. 

We must go forth from all exterior things, useless preoccupations, 
self-love and self-will, and enter into ourselves if we would know our- 



•Tauler has left no sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent. 






56 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

selves and distinguish clearly (he nature and origin of the motives \ 
which actuate us. Whosoever does not go forth from himself, whether 
on account of self-love or some other motive, cannot learn to know him- 
self, aci ording t<> the teaching of St. Bernard: "There are plenty of men 
who know many things, but who yet know absolutely nothing of them- | 
selves. Now, to know oneself and to realize how sick one is and full of 

is is of more worth than to possess all sciences. Says Solomon in ; 
th. Canticle: 'If thou know not thyself, O fairest among women, go 
forth iintl follow after the steps of the flocks and feed thy kids beside ' 
the tents of the shepherds' " (Cant, i, 7). That is to say, look at thy- 
self in the lives of the saints and follow their example, instead of fol- 
lowing thy own will. 

Thou must depart from thy own ease and sense and thou must give 
thyself up wholly to the service of thy neighbor, helping him with all i 
thy might by good advice, good works and pious example, by a deep and | 
constant charity, in order that he may the more easilv attain to eternal 
happiness. For such is our Saviour's precept : "A new commandment I 
give unto you, that you love one another. * * * By this shall all 
men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another." 
(John xiii, 34-35). And St. Paul says: "Bear ye one another's burdens, j 
and so shall ye fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. vi, 2). And in Genesis 
we read that Joseph said to his brethren : "You shall not see my face 
unless you bring your youngest brother with you" (Gen. xliii, 3). 
And again in the Canticle we read: "Come, My beloved, let us go forth i 
into the field, let us abide in the villages; let us get up early to the j] 
vineyards" (Cant, vii, 11). 

We must go forth from all that is not God ; in such a manner that our 
love for Him surpasses all other love, and that we love Bim with all 
our soul, all our heart and all our strength. Of old God said to Abra- 
ham : "Go forth out of thy country and from thy kindred, and out of thy ' 
father's house" (Gen. xii, 1). That means fix not thy heart on perish- 
able things, but on God alone; seek Him and love Him in all that thou ! 
dost possess. The Canaanitish woman had thus gone forth, as her words 
testify, and, therefore, she got from Jesus all that she asked. In the 
Canticle God invites the faithful soul and its companions to this going 
forth, saying to them: "Go forth, ye daughter of Sion" (Cant, iii, 11). 
[t is right that He should give them the name of daughters rather than 
that of sons, for their spirit is yet weak, troubled by the fears and dis- 
tresses of women, for they are not yet strong enough of resolution to j 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 57 

undertake to give up all, and they have still the weakness and delicacy 
of a young girl. 

Let us now speak of the desert. Scarcely have we quit worldly desires 
and sin than we encounter the desert, an image of that life, spiritual and 
detached, that we must lead here below. But there are two kinds of 
desert — one good and the other bad. The latter is that in which the 
heart of man fills itself with vanity, stripping itself of charity and of 
heavenly longings. In the temple of the soul are no longer heard the 
chants of divine praise; and the sheep of the house of Israel, that is to 
say, good thoughts, are scattered and go forth each on his way. The 
fertile desert is that wherein a man has driven down into the lowest 
depths of his heart the stormy disturbance of passions, the irregularity 
of worldly desires and the love of created things. He still sometimes 
experiences, it is true, in his body or his senses the first movements of 
the passions, but his will remains inaccessible to their attempts. There 
is the good desert — storm without and the sweetness of peace within. It 
is of this desert that God speaks to the prophet : "I will lead her into 
the wilderness and will speak to her heart" (Osee ii, 14), for no one 
hears or understands what is within himself or what God says within 
until He reaches that desert. 

It is called a desert, this life of detachment and separation, because of 
the small number of those who go into it after being separated from the 
world. These are few enough when compared with the great number of 
those who continue to yield to their sensual desires. We must drive out 
of our hearts the world and its images and advance into the interior of 
the desert, to dwell there with Moses. There can we the more easily 
guard our flocks; that is to say, free ourselves from our interior tempta- 
tions and the caprices of our imagination. When Moses had led his 
flocks into the interior of the desert God showed Himself to him in a 
burning bush, which signifies that the fire of charity and holy desires 
shall fill our heart, and then it is that we can follow God whithersoever 
He calls us. 

There is to be found that delightful desert of which it is written : 
"Who is she that goeth up by the desert as a pillar of smoke of aromat- 
ical spices?" (Cant, iii, 6). St. Gregory says that the nature of love is 
to rise each day higher above oneself toward God by holy desires and 
never to rest until one has reached the supreme good. For upon the 
earth there is nothing that can attract a loving soul's glances; but his 
whole effort is to go to God, raising himself above himself. Such is the 



" s The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

heritage of Cod's friends, and the more they are united to Him by the 
fervor of their longings, the more wearisome and painful becomes all 
that smiles on them in the world. It is of this desert that the angels 
speak in the Canticle, saying: ''Who is she that goeth up by the desert?" 
And to them the fervent soul makes answer: "I found Him whom my 
soul loveth; I held Him, and I will not let Him go" (Cant, iii, 4). For 
whoever penetrates into this desert knows how to savor and how to 
express interior and mystical things. Charity by its good works renews 
and increases all the virtues, and this our Saviour well showed us when 
he clothed himself with glory on Mount Tabor and discovered to us the 
fruits that we gather in the desert when we are sincerely converted to 
God. Thus St. Paul tells us : "We all, beholding the glory of the Lord 
with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to 
glory, as by the spirit of the Lord" (II Cor. iii, 18). 

We find, besides, in the desert a multitude of beautiful flowers on 
which the foot of man has never trodden. It is even so with a life of 
renunciation and separation; by pious practices, hard to nature, the habit 
of Christian virtue is acquired. But, as these practices cost much effort 
and pain, there are but few who make up their minds to adopt them. In 
this desert we find lilies and other flowers of shining whiteness, namely, 
purity of soul and body. There we also find deep red roses, namely, 
mortification, exhausting to flesh and blood, triumphing over sin and 
causing us, if necessary, bravely to suffer martyrdom. Ah, there are 
things there which one can hardly get in the world. This desert grows 
also the violet, the symbol of humility, and many other precious plants 
and flowers; that is to say, the example of the saints. Choose, then, for 
thyself a spot in that desert by living piously, by imitating the purity, 
poverty and obedience of the saints and their other virtues, according to 
what is written in the Canticle: "The flowers have appeared in our 
land" (Cant, ii, 12), which means that many men have departed this 
life full of virtue and of merit. 

But one must not expect to find his ease in the desert, and it is on this 
account that the lovers of this world cannot endure it. The children of 
Israel murmured against Moses because of the very many privations to 
which they were subjected. Those privations are a symbol of the sober, 
severe and recollected life necessary for every Christian; for, had we 
the whole universe at our command, we ought yet to use only what is 
needful, and we ought ever to dread going beyond the just measure of 
necessity ; it is thus that the soul strengthens itself. This desert minis- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 59 

ters, it is true, very little that is pleasing to the senses, hut in compensa- 
tion we find abundance of spiritual comforts, much surpassing worldly 
joys. "The Lord will comfort Sion. * * * He will make her desert 
a place of pleasure and her wilderness a garden of the Lord" (Isaias 
ii, 3). And again the prophet says: "That which was dry land shall 
become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water" (Isaias xxxv, 7). 
The solitary soul shall be granted a more numerous posterity, that 
is to say, a greater number of merits, than the soul that is wedded to the 
world. God had commanded Pharaoh to let the people of God go into 
the desert to sacrifice to the Lord, for they were to receive spiritual con- 
solations in place of the worldly consolations of Egypt. 

When we have penetrated into this desert we shall, with the eyes of 
the soul, see the King and His bride, namely, God and the soul ; and that 
sight is a fountain of delights for us. So it is written in the Canticle: 
"Go forth, daughters of Sion, and see King Solomon" (Cant, iii, 2) ; 
that is to say, Christ, of whom Isaias says : "A child is born to us. and 
His name is Wonderful" (Isaias ix, 6). Behold, indeed, how much 
God is wonderful, since He has even willed to become man for the sake 
of His bride. This is the marvel that Moses saw and of which he tells : 
"I will go and see this great sight — why the bush is not burnt" (Exo- 
dus iii, 3). That bush is the human nature of Christ; the flame is His 
holy soul, burning with love, and the light, that is His divinity united to 
His mortal body. Come, then, and behold Christ, this Solomon into 
whom is poured the infinitude of wisdom and who understands all 
things. He is the truth that has shown us the road to Heaven. The 
soul should contemplate Him without ceasing, in order to be able to 
imitate Him by living according to the Spirit and not according to 
nature. And even nature will be greatly strengthened in her struggles, 
if she will hold her eyes fixed on her King, and meditate how it was that 
He accomplished His pilgrimage here below. It is a great consolation 
for a loving soul to consider in Jesus Christ at one time the infirmity 
of human nature, and again the spiritual life that He led so superior to 
human nature. 

According to an illustrious teacher, an abundance of consolations 
weakens our energies, and spiritual joys even wholly devour the soul 
when they are excessive. A very lively happiness cannot last long, and a 
prompt change is made necessary, for here below the soul is not admitted 
to serve God in the holy of holies: "Thy chalice, which inebriateth me, 
how goodly it is!" (Ps. xxii, 5). The soul should, therefore, consider 



60 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

„ . _ — 

in Jesus Christ sometimes the glory of His divinity, sometimes the 
excellence of His humanity. As to souls estranged from God, whom He 
has not yet visited, in them we should arouse faith; but interior souls, 
well proved and rich in experience, them we must lead to contemplate i 
1 his King in His beauty. Souls consumed with love should also study 
with the inner eye how they may guide other souls; or, if need be, how 
to resist them for their own good. 

"Lord," exclaims St. Bernard, "come to me and reign from Thy throne 
in me, for, alas ! it too often happens that I occupy it myself." Pride, 
covetousness, lust and sloth would reign in me ; wrath, hate and calumny 
make deadly attacks upon me and claim control of my will. I resist l 
them, I mourn over their assaults and I cry out: I will have no king 
but Jesus Christ. O peaceful King, come and reign in me, for I desire 
no other king but Thee! I await Thee, O Lord, with wonder, with i 
prayers and burning supplications, with many changes of grief and joy ! , 
O, how can we for an instant leave off preparing to receive so great a 
King — a God who has made our poor nature capable of receiving His 
Divine Being, who has taken it and united it to Himself, and clothed 
Himself with its shades and colors and displayed its beauty to us. He 
loves us much more than we love Him. I shall, therefore, be without 
excuse if I do not love Him above all things, for He asks nothing else 
of us but that we love Him. We should, therefore, go forth entirely 
from ourselves, and enter into that blessed solitude, and long to know 
and to contemplate the true King and spouse of our soul. For this we \ 
need Moses — that is to say, a good will to conduct us even to that ' 
mountain where God dwells. 

The people taken out of Egypt by Moses are our old habits, for after 
our conversion we easily go back to our accustomed ways and, with our 
fleshly desires and our unclean or worldly thoughts, make, as it were, a I 
golden calf, that we may live according to the flesh and enjoy creatures 
rather than God. On this account we have great need that the true 
Moses, Jesus Christ, should lead us and guide us on our way ; that He 
may draw us after Him, in order to make us enter into the interior 
desert of our soul, in which is the mysterious dwelling place of the Lord. 
May He grant us this grace. Amen. 






of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor »;i 



Unity mb Mnitxpiuity 

Synopsis — Definition of simplicity — Three classes of created things- 
Abandonment — Purity of heart — Unquiet souls— Perfection de- 
fined — Souls abandoned by God — Contemplating Christ. 



SERMON FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT. 

I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the 
Lord.— John i, 23. 

We are close to that festival, so full of charm, in which the Eternal 
Word took birth in human nature, in order that He might ceaselessly 
be begotten in every one of us. Speech, or word, and the voice are closely 
related to each other. Yesterday I explained to you how we should 
sincerely abandon ourselves to God, and annihilate ourselves before Him 
from the depth of our soul. Would it not be a great help if, in order to 
reach that end, we could find a road shorter than all others? That road 
is simplicity. And to obtain simplicity one must close his senses, empty 
his mind of every image, and despise himself. Amid the infinite multi- 
plicity of our outward actions we should remain masters of our senses, 
for without this they will carry us outside of ourselves, and bring back 
into us a thousand foreign images. We read of a father of the desert, 
venerable for the holiness of his life, that, being obliged to go outside of 
his cell in the month of May, he covered his eyes with his hood. When 
asked why he did so he said : a So that my eyes may not look at the trees 
of these country places, and that I may be nowise hindered from seeing 
my soul." Ah, my children, if the sight of a lonely forest was a hin- 
drance to that holy man, what an injury to us shall often be the worldly 
and trifling things which surround us. The second means to lead us to 
that simplicity, is to love God above all things. 

Now, we can make three classes of the things amid which we live. 
One class is injurious; the other is vain and fleeting; the third, though 
consisting of good things, is yet capable of being made a hindrance to 
us. Outward things are hurtful to us when they draw creatures to us 
with pleasure and content and we are happy with them, and when we 
seek or enjoy in them ill-regulated or blameworthy delight. Ah, chil- 



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di en, no one can tell how* disastrous such things are to us, for they force 
< tod to draw away from us to make room for them, even when we have no 
intention of sinning, in clinging to them. Why rob that sweet friend 
of our souls of the happiness and pleasure He would love to enjoy in 
His own palace? Why defile this precious vine of His as if by a poison- 
ous vapor ; and we while in that state can no longer say, with the spouse 
in the Canticle: "Our bed is flourishing" (Cant, i, 15). 

Bui here a distinction must be made. A man who loves God sincerely 
and who would love Him yet more, sometimes experiences the influence 
of creatures pressing upon him against his will and inflicting on him a 
kind of martyrdom, even unto death. What, then, should he do? 
Suffer them with patience and in abandonment to God — providing, 
always, that he is himself in no manner the cause of these temptations 
by his attachment to creatures. Happy, children, a thousand times 
happy, is the man whose purity shall never have been soiled by any 
image alien to purity. He will possess a priceless treasure. 

Besides bad things, there are those that are vain and useless. As to 
these, we should be no more disturbed by them than by flies flying about, 
or the Rhine flowing along; these are no real hindrances to us, and no 
one here below* is quite free from them ; only it happens that by them 
some are more disturbed than others. --When the heart is full of the 
love of God," says St. Bernard, ''vain things no longer find any room 
in it." What w*e should do in such a case, is to drive out one nail by 
driving in another on top of it, which means the sinking deep into our 
heart of thoughts of Divine things, so as to drive out thoughts of vain 
things. 

Finally, there are things which, in spite of their usefulness, are yet 
for us a hindrance. We meet with people who make as much anxiety 
and uneasiness for themselves as if the river Rhine flowed over their 
soul. Their heart never can enjoy a moment of calm. If they try to 
taste a little outward peace and rest, they are prevented by the multi- 
tude of thoughts and cares that trouble them, as the wind tosses the 
leaves of a tree. They cannot free their hearts of the things they have 
undertaken to do, and they carry them on with such struggles of mind, 
that they are never happy, and enjoy no interior peace. Beloved chil- 
dren, when one wishes for many things he loses unity. I know that 
there are men w*ho are quiet and restful by character. These more easily 
avoid these anxious preoccupations than the others do. But if men of 
a lively and eager disposition, had a little persistence in overcoming 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 63 

their restless nature, and would but do violence to themselves, thus con- 
quering and winning peace of heart, they would become very superior to 
the others. 

These unquiet and agitated souls should watch themselves closely and 
unremittingly; they should renounce and avoid all frivolity, put under 
the ban certain recreations and amusements, if they would reach a 
perfect way of life and fulfill God's will. Like brave and loyal knights, 
they should behave with honor on the field of battle and fight generously. 
They should break down nature, triumph over the images which usurp 
their mind, and act like a man who bas a chain entangled in his hair and 
cannot remove it without pain — cut off and cast away what enslaves 
them. If a schoolmaster had among his pupils a child who, instead of 
learning his lessons, went gadding about and playing, he would correct 
him once or twice ; then, if he saw that all this was useless, he would 
turn away from him and leave him to become what he willed. That is 
what our Saviour does with those wbom He has deigned to invite into 
His Divine school, that holy state in which one enjoys His familiar 
company, learns to love Him tenderly and tastes His sweetness. His 
disciples — these are members of communities or others who are striving 
for perfection ; his school — it is the spiritual life in which, by leaving the 
world, one frees himself from a multitude of sorrows and cares in order 
to love God sincerely and in the most perfect way, fixing one's glances 
ever upon God and oneself, and dying wholly to nature, to the senses, and 
to the world. There we are under the eyes of God ; He warns, punishes, 
strikes us; and if, in spite of this, we run away to play instead of attend- 
ing to His lessons, He expels us from His school and gives us up to our 
own will. From that on warnings cease, and so do chastisements; and 
thus without love and, so to speak, without grace, yea, without God, we 
are content to live in a deceitful calm, for now our Master deigns no 
more to chide us, to strike us or to be concerned about us. O children, 
how disquieting and perilous is that state? Guard carefully against 
falling into it. 

A spiritual man should long only for God, forgetting self and crea- 
tures, acting as worldlings do who, if they can but obtain the earthly 
goods for which they strive, are indifferent to the pleasure or pain it 
costs them. Our Lord complains that the children of light are less wise 
in seeking their ends than the children of darkness. A spiritual man 
should be so aflame with Divine fire, and become so Divine inwardly 
and outwardly, that we could only see God in him, and that no heart 



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would be bo cold but it would be warmed in His company, as we see 
dead coals lighted up again by a burning one placed among them, receiv- 
ing from it their light and heat. Be sure of this, children; there is not 
a single instant in which God does not pour into us some Divine influ- 
ence, which we would plainly feel if we were but more attentive: for 
God is borne on by His nature to communicate Himself unceasingly, 
and all the nature of our spirit is formed to receive Him. God is all 
act, and the soul is all receptivity. The soul should be to God. who is 
our origin and our end, what the stream is to its fountainhead. But, 
alas, poor creatures that we are, we are ever going out of ourselves and 
remaining in the life of the senses! Therein we deceive and injure our- 
selves, even though we know that Jesus Christ has said : "God is a 
spirit, and they that adore Him must adore Him in spirit and in truth" 
(John iii, 24), and, therefore, not externally alone with the senses and 
the imagination. 

But do not fancy that I wish to strip thee of all images ; there is one 
which I would engrave deeply in thy soul. Enter, then, into thy interior, 
and from thence take thy flight, even to the heart of God; there possess 
thyself of that supreme image which is eternally being formed, and which 
God is ever drawing forth from the abyss of His Divinity, namely, Jesus 
Christ, God's only begotten Son. Go yet deeper into that Divine abyss 
in order to sink that ravishing image yet further down into the depths 
of thy being, as if in a mirror, until it penetrates all the powers of thy 
soul. Whether thou dost walk or stand still, dost eat or drink, sleep or 
wake, let not that beloved image be absent one instant from thy mind 
and thy imagination. According to it, guide and arrange all thy being 
and ail thy life, whether inward or outward. Do as a painter does 
who would copy a masterpiece; at every touch of his brush his eye is 
carefully fixed on the model before him, which he reproduces as exactly 
as he possibly can. 

Enter thou, therefore, into the Divine depths; contemplate there 
unceasingly that Divine and enrapturing image and all that it has 
received of the Father, and make after that picture the copy thou 
desirest; fix thy gaze upon both its Divinity and its holy humanity; 
studv its humility and kindness; but stav not for anv fixed form ; rather 
elevate thyself above all forms and use them all vaguely, according to 
circnmstances, having everywhere and always thy mirror before thy 
eyes, as well amid the throngs of men as alone in solitude. If thou art 
even the busy porter of a convent, or occupied in other outward works. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 65 

let that sweet image be none the less familiar to thee than if thou wert 
seated quietly in thy chamber or in the church ; act and speak as if thou 
wert ever in its presence. When thou eatest, moisten each mouthful 
with the precious blood of the heart of Jesus; if thou drinkest, think 
that it is He who giveth thee His blood to drink out of His sacred 
wounds; if thou sleepest, rest upon His bleeding heart; if thou speakest, 
realize that He is very close to thee and hears thy words, that He is 
present with thee and sees all thy movements and all thy thoughts, and 
thus busy thyself in the contemplation of this Divine model. 

And He will draw thee yet further, and will lift thee up to that image 
without form, without mode, which nothing can picture or describe as 
it is revealed to devout souls interiorly. Go ever onward and upward, 
for whosoever halts and sits down before God has ordered him to do so, 
shall be expelled from his place. Sometimes we have many purposes in 
our mind, and when that is the case we lose unity with God- Formerly 
and in happier times a master of spiritual life saiu: "Watch well the 
depths of the soul, what works and observances raise thee up most 
quickly to that Divine image above all forms, and choose them instead 
of others, until thou shalt be stripped of thyself and of all images and 
absorbed into the Divine being." May God grant us that grace. Amen. 



G<; The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



®J}? JMfr** lirtlja of ^xxbX 

Synopsis — The three Christmas masses — The birth of Christ in our 
soul. The eternal generation of the Son of God — His generation 
in ns. Interior emptiness and fullness — Practical suggestions — 
Detachment — Relation of virtuous acts to the inner life — Interior 
silence and retirement. 



FIRST SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF CHRISTMAS. 
For a Child is born to us, and a Son is given to us. — Isaias ix, 6. 

Today the church celebrates three births, each of which is such a 
source of joy and delight that we should break forth into jubilation, love 
and thanksgiving, and whoever does not feel such sentiments should mis- 
trust himself. The first birth and the most sublime, is that whereby the 
Heavenly Father begets His only Son in the Divine essence, and in the 
distinction of the Divine persons. The second birth is that which made 
Mary a mother in virginity most pure and inviolate. The third is that 
by which every day and every hour God is truly and spiritually begotten 
in our souls by grace and love. These three births are shown forth by 
the three masses of Christmas Day. The first is sung at midnight, com- 
mencing with the words : "Thou art My Son ; this day have I begotten 
Thee'- (Ps. ii, 7), that is to say, in eternity. 

This brings home to us the hidden birth accomplished in the darksome 
mystery of the inaccessible Divinity. The second mass begins with 
these words: "Today light has shined upon us" (Isaias ix, 2). It 
figures the glory of human nature Divinely influenced by its union with 
the Word. That mass is celebrated partly in the night and partly in 
the day, because the birth it represents is partly known to us and partly 
unknown. The third mass is sung in the daytime, and begins with the 
words : "A Child is born to us and a Son is given to us." It figures that 
mysterious birth which should happen, and does happen, every day and 
every instant in holy souls, when they dispose themselves for it by deep 
attention and sincere love; for one can never experience that birth 
except by the recollection of all one's powers. In that nativity God 
belongs to us and gives Himself to us so completely, that nothing what- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 67 

ever is more our own than He is. And that is what those words say to 
us : "A Child is born to us, and a Son is given to us." He is, therefore, 
our own; He is ours totally and everywhere, for He is always being 
begotten within us. 

Let us speak first of the ineffable birth represented by the third mass 
of Christmas, and let us explain how it may be brought about in us in 
a manner the most perfect and efficacious. To that end let us consider 
the qualities of that first generation, by which the Father begets the Son 
in eternity. The ineffable riches of the Divine good are so overflowing 
that God cannot contain Himself, and by His very nature He is forced to 
expend and communicate Himself. "It is God's nature to expend Him- 
self," says St. Augustine. The Father has thus poured Himself out into 
the other two Divine persons; after that He communicated Himself to 
creatures. The same saint says further: "It is because God is good 
that we are good, and all the good that the creature has is good with the 
essential goodness of God." What, then, is the peculiar character of 
the Divine generation? The Father, inasmuch as He is Father, turns 
inward to Himself and His Divine intelligence; He sees Himself and 
penetrates Himself with a gaze which wholly embraces His Divine 
essence, and then, just as He sees and knows Himself, so does He utter 
Himself completely; and the act whereby He knows Himself and the 
Word whereby He utters Himself is also the act whereby He begets His 
Son in eternity. 

Thus the Father Himself remains within Himself in the unity of His 
essence, and goes out of Himself in the distinction of persons. Again 
He returns into Himself, and therein He rests in unspeakable self- 
delight, and that self-delight goes forth and overflows in ineffable love, 
which is the Holy Spirit. Thus does God dwell within Himself and go 
forth out of Himself to return again into Himself. Therefore, is all out- 
going for the sake of ingoing again. And hence in the material universe 
is the movement of the heavenly spheres most noble and most perfect, 
because it unceasingly returns again to the origin and beginning from 
which it first set forth. And so also is the course of man ever noblest 
and most perfect, when it returns again upon its source and origin. 

The quality which the Heavenly Father has in this His incoming and 
outgoing, the same should every man have who will become the spiritual 
mother in this divine bringing forth. He must enter wholly into him- 
self, and again go out of himself; as the soul has three noble powers, 
wherein it is the true image of the blessed Trinity — memory, understand- 



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ing mid free will. Through These powers is the soul capable of receiving 
:iml clinging to God, and all that God is, has and can bestow, and in this 
way it ran i_ r :i/.e upon Him in eternity. For the soul is created between 
time and eternity; with its superior part it belongs to eternity, 
and with the inferior — the sensitive, animal powers — it belongs to time. 
I'.nt both the higher and lower powers of the soul wander away into 
time and into the fleeting things of time, and this is because of the kin^ 
Bhip between its higher and lower powers. Very easy is it in this stray 
ing thus to go astray from eternity. If we would be born again with the 
Divine birth, then we need to start back again, earnestly struggle 
inward and there gather up all our powers, lower and higher, if we 
would restore all dissipation of mind to unity, since united forces are 
ever the strongest, and they become united when drawn back from 
multiplicity. When a hunter would hit the mark he shuts one eve in 
order that with the other he may look straighter; when one would think 
deeply about anything, he closes all his senses and unites all his powers 
in his inmost soul, out of which, as branches from a tree, all the senses 
go forth into activity. When all our powers of sense and motion are 
thus by an inward movement assembled together in the highest power, ta 
which is the force and foundation of them all, then happens an outward, | 
yea, an overflowing movement, beyond and above self, by which we | 
renounce all ownership of will, of appetite and of activity. There I 
remains for thee then only a pure and clear intention to be of God and ! 
of God's purposes, to be nothing whatever of self, or ever to become any- I 
thing of self, to be for Him alone, to give room to Him alone, whether in 
things high or low, so that He may work His will in thee and bring ; 
about His birth in thee, and therein remain unhindered by thee to 
the end. 

If two are to be made one, then must one stand passive and the other i 
active. If my eye is to receive an image, it must be free from all other I 
images : for if it already has so much as one, it cannot see another, nor 
can the ear hear a sound if it be occupied with one already. Any power I 
of receiving must first be empty before it can receive anything. Hence 
St. Augustine says: "Empty thyself if thou wouldst be filled. Go 
fori li. if thou wouldst enter in." And elsewhere he says: "O noble soul, 
noble creature of God, wherefore goest thou outside thyself in search 
of Him who is always and most certainly within thee, and through 
Whom thou art made a partaker of the divine nature? What hast 
thou to do or why dost thou concern thyself with creatures?" 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor G9 

When a man thus clears the ground and makes his soul ready, without 
doubt God must fill up the void. The very heavens would fall down to 
fill up empty space, and much rather will God not allow thee to remain 
empty, for that would be against His nature, His attributes ; yea, and 
against His justice. If, therefore, thou wilt be silent, the Word of this 
Divine birth shall speak in thee and shall be heard ; but, if thou speakest, 

if be sure He will be silent. Thou canst not serve the Word better than 
by being silent and by listening. If thou goest out of self, He without 

i doubt goeth in, and so it will be much or little of His entering in, accord- 
ing to much or little of thy going out. 

An illustration of this going out of self is given in the book of Moses, 
I how God made Abraham go forth from his country and his kinsfolk, so 
; that He might show him all good things. The Divine birth in the soul 
of man — that means certainly all good things, and that alone is its 
meaning. The country or region out of which the soul must go — that 
means the body, with its lusts and concupiscences of whatever kind. 
The friends he must have — these are his inclinations and the sensitive 
or sensible powers with their images, which draw him on and fasten 
him down. These set love and pain in motion, joy and sorrow, longing 
and dread, care and frivolity. These friends are very near akin to us; 
against them we must be strictly on our guard if we would wholly elude 
them, and if we would have born in us the all-good that this Divine, birth 
really is for us. A proverb says : A boy kept too much at home behaves 
like a calf when away from home, which means that men who have not 
gone beyond their natural life, nor raised themselves above what the 
senses furnish to be seen, heard, tasted, moving about — men who have 
thus never gone forth from this the native home of all sensible life, 
are veritable animals when there is question of understanding the high 
things of God. Their interior being is like a mountain of iron, in which 
no gleam of light ever shines. When outward things and images and 
forms are gone, they no longer know and feel anything. They are, 
indeed, at home; but for that very reason they do not experience this 
wonderful resignation. Therefore did Christ say : "If any man come to 
Me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and 
brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My 
disciple" (Luke xiv, 26). 

We have so far spoken of the first and last births, and how by the last 
we learn a lesson about the first. And now we shall instruct you about 
the second birth, in which this night the Son of God is born of His 



Til 



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mother and becomes our lirother. In eternity He was born a Son with- 
oo1 a mother, and in time He was born a Son without a father. Now 
Saint Augustine tells us: -.Mary is much more blessed because God was 
born spiritually in her soul than because He was born her fleshly Son." 
. w hosoever would experience this spiritual and blessed birth in his 
soul, as .Man did in her soul, should consider the qualities of Mary, that 
mother of Ood both fleshly and spiritual. She was a virgin, all chaste 
and pure, and ye1 she was retired and separated from all things, and so 
tin- angel found her. It is thus that one must be who would bring forth 
< .ud in his soul. That soul must be chaste and pure. If it has strayed 
away from purity, then must it come back and be made pure again; for 
the meaning of virginity in this teaching, is to be outwardly unfruitful 
and inwardly very fruitful. And this virgin soul must close 'its outward 
senses, having little external occupation, for from such it can have little 
fruit Mary 1 bought of nothing else but of Divine things. Inwardly 
tli- soul must have much fruit; the beauty of the King's daughter is all 
within. Bence must this virgin soul live in detachment in all its habits 
senses, behavior, in all its speech. Thus will it bear many and great 
fruits, namely, (Jod's Son, God's Word, Who is all in all and contains 
all things in Himself. 

Mary was a wedded virgin, and so must the soul be wedded, as St. 
Paul teaches. Thou must sink thy tickle will deep into the Divine will, 
which is immovably steadfast, so that thy feebleness mav be strength- 
ened. Mary lived retired, and so must the soul espoused to God be in 
retirement, if it will experience the interior regeneration. But not alone 
from those wanderings after temporal things which appear to be faulty 
hut even from the sensible devotion attached to the practice of virtue 
must I he soul refrain. It must establish rest and stillness as an enclos- 
»'•'• « which to dwell, hiding from and cutting off nature and the senses, 
gjaarding quiet and interior peace, rest and repose. It is of this state of 
the soul that we shall sing next Sunday in the introit of the mass: 
•W h.le all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of 
her course, Thine Almighty Word, O Lord, came down from Heaven 
",»» Ot Thy royal throne" (Wisdom xviii, 14-15). That was the 
Eternal Word going forth from the Father's heart It is amid this 



£th we hear this Word; for when God would speak thou must be 
silent \\ hen God would enter in, all things must go out. When our 
Lord entered Egypt, all the idols in the land fell down. Howler good 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 71 

or holy anything may seem, if it hinders the actual and immediate 
Divine generation in thee it is an idol. Our Lord tells us that He has 
come bringing a sword, cutting off all that clings to men, even mother, 
brother, sister; for whatever is intimately joined to thee without God 
is thy enemy, forming, as it does, a multitude of imaginations covering 
and hiding the Divine Word. 

Although this tranquillity may not as yet wholly possess thee, nor 
last all the time within thee, yet thou shouldst so constantly cultivate 
interior silence as a means of experiencing the Divine birth, that it shall 
finally become a spiritual habit. What is easy to a well-practiced man 
may seem impossible to an unpracticed one, for practice makes perfect. 
May God grant us all the grace of inner stillness, and thereby the birth 
of His Divine Word in our souls. Amen. 



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uhr #mtr Buirlltmj $lar?fl of (HJjrtBt 

Synopsis Christ upon the altar — In the pulpit — In the literal flesh- 
Jn the human soul — Conditions for interior union with God. 



SECOND SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF CHRISTMAS. 

In tlie beginning was the Word. — John i, 1. 

Learned men say of the Eternal Word, that God never spoke it but 
once, and that in a certain sense it is yet unspoken, which means that 
the Eternal Word is the speech of the Father, even His only begotten 
Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, without beginning and without 
end, has tbe Father uttered all created things. Nor can we say, in every 
meaning of the terms, that the Word has been uttered, since He has 
never come forth out of the Father. 

And, mark well, dear children, that we may understand this Word in 
four ways. The first is His place on the altar in the hands of the priest; 
there shall we know and love the Eternal Word, just as we shall be 
known to the Father in the same Eternal Word. Again shall we know 
the Eternal Word in what we are taught by the preacher from the 
pulpit, uttering His Divine truth. And we must receive Him thus 
properly, for, as water flows through the stream, so comes the Eternal 
Word through the lips of the preacher. We must not be hindered by 
the preacher's defects; we must rather look at the Eternal Word in His 
very essence, as He floweth forth eternally from the depths of His being. 
Thirdly, we must recognize the Eternal Word in all our Lord's friends, 
who, having imitated Him here on earth, are now joined to Him in 
everlasting life, or who are yet His disciples here below. These are all 
they who are in living union with our Lord Jesus Christ. Fourthly, we 
must know the Eternal Word as He is uttered in our very souls by God 
Himself ; and this is a revelation of Him not to be described, for the soul 
baa do words that can tell it. 

Vmi must know that the Eternal Word is self-begotten in the soul and 
dial the soul itself, when favored with the Divine generation within it, 
knows the Eternal Word better than all teachers can describe Him. 
What one can put into speech is all too little, and, therefore, the Word 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 73 

itself quickly teaches the soul. Hence we are instructed to hurry gladly 
to that school in which the Holy Spirit is the schoolmaster. And be 
sure, dear children, that when He is the schoolmaster, He wants to find 
His scholars very well prepared for Him, so that they may be able to 
understand the precious lessons which He draws for them from the 
Father's heart. 

Hence the soul which would experience this birth of the Word must 
stand forth in great purity, and its life must be a noble one and wholly 
interior, not running after the pleasures of the five senses, nor absorbed 
in multiplicity of created things; but it must live in the utmost purity 
of heart. Says Master Eckhart: "What God does in a soul which He 
finds free and stripped of all things, so detached from creatures that He 
can be spiritually born in it, is both more pleasing to Him and more 
communicative of His own self than the creative act by which He drew 
all things out of nothing." 

And why is this? Because God has no creature with so great a 
capacity as a soul in which He is spiritually generated, for in none can 
He express Himself so perfectly ; into none can He pour Himself out so 
entirely and in all the force and essence of His being. Now, we have 
already said that the birth of God in the soul, is nothing else than that 
He reveals Himself to the soul with a new knowledge and after a new 
manner of communication. 

It may be asked if the greatest blessedness of the soul is to be found 
in this work of God in it? I answer: Although God has more joy in 
this than in all His other works among creatures, whether in Heaven 
or earth, yet the soul's supreme joy is rather in its own work of recep- 
tivity while this birth of God takes place in it. It is not the soul's 
supreme joy that God is born in it, but rather that, with intimate love 
and union, it responds to the knowledge God imparts by this generation, 
whereby the soul is born again and restored to Him who is its origin. 
In this the soul departs from self and cleaves to God, and is thereby 
blessed not by self-blessedness, but by God's. The soul now has, if it 
will, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Now is it dissolved 
into the Divine Unity; now shall be revealed God alone to the soul's 
self alone. Hence a famous doctor teaches, that no one may come to this 
state who has so much of earthly taint on him as could be held by the 
point of a needle. Into the pure Godhead can no man enter except he 
be as pure as when he came forth from God. Tims teach spiritual 
writers, and they wisely counsel us to yield the victory to God, and 



, I The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

r. • eive everything from Bim direct and nothing from creatures. And 
it is thus we give <!<m1 His hest glory, and, being detached and empty, 
we await His action, when and how He wills it; for we must own that 
God does all things best. Our part is to help God, as far as in us lies, to 
advance His glory. 

A certain teacher says that a king pays little heed to those of his 
underlings who <!<> menial service, but he is attentive to those who are 
his personal associates, and these he always favors. God acts thus with 
His « hiiscn friends — souls that are in His company in His hidden retire- 
ment ; <;<»<! ictuses them no petition. Some teachers tell us, however, 
thai many souls reach the Kingdom of neaven, who on earth enjoyed no 
more familiar intereourse with God than a man buried in a dark forest 
enjo,\ s I he sunlight. But let us in our lives and in our purposes earnestly 
Btrive after the highest privilege; and may God grant us His help. 
Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 75 



®lj* <gnt*nittmt of t\\t Horh in a ffrfrrt §>oul 

Synopsis — What part of the soul is made conscious of the divine gen- 
eration — The soul's inner sanctuary is God's holy place — Union 
effected without similitudes — The soul's preparation is silence 
and quiet — Reference in footnote to another sermon of Tattler's — 
Teaching of St. Augustine — Fruits of this divine generation are 
heavenly wisdom and increased assurance of perseverance. 



SERMON FOR THE SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS. 

While all things were in quiet silence. — Wisd. xviii, 14. 

We are to speak today of the eternal generation, by which in eternity 
and without cessation God the Father begets the Eternal Word, and now 
in our Saviour's person born in time and in human nature. Says St. 
Augustine: "What is it to me that the eternal generation of the Word 
ceaselessly takes place if He is not generated in me? All depends on 
whether or not He is born in me." 

Thus it behooves us to speak of this generation, begun and perfected 
when God the Father utters His Eternal Word in a perfect soul. Herein 
understand me to be speaking of a perfect man, one who has walked in 
God's paths, and that steadfastly until now, and not of men who are 
natural and unexercised in a devout life; for these are far removed 
from and unknowing of this Divine generation. The wise man Solomon 
says "While all things were in quiet silence * * * Thy Almighty 
Word leaped down from Heaven from Thy royal throne." This Word is 
the subject of our sermon. Of it we remark three things. First, we ask : 
Where in the soul does God the Father utter His Word? What part of 
the soul is made conscious of this Divine operation? That must be the 
part that is purest, noblest and most delicately sensitive. Indeed, what- 
ever of nobility God, with all His power, has implanted by creation in 
the soul's nature, and whatever of nobility the soul has afterwards 
received from Him, upon all of this must God work in imparting this 
Divine generation. Therefore, the soul must keep itself all purified 
and high-minded, living in simplicity and wholly interiorly, restraining 



76 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Itself from sensible things and the multiplicity of creatures, for God's 
work is done in the purest, simplest and most recollected state of the 
bouL 

The Becond qnestion is this: Just how should the soul behave toward 
this Divine generation? Should it labor in co-operation with it, so as to 
facilitate the Divine birth, forming images in the understanding and in 
the thoughts, saying to itself such things as God is wise, almighty, 
eternal? Or is it better to assist the Divine fatherly act by withdraw- 
ing totally from all thoughts, words and acts, and from all images of the 
mind, resting quite passive under God's influence, as far as this may be 
done, and letting Him alone to act? Which of these two ways best 
serves the Divine birth in the soul? 

Thirdly, we are to consider how great are the benefits of this Divine 
generation. 

And now, reverting to our first question. And I will herein use ordi- 
nary and natural language, easily understood. For, although I believe 
the Scriptures more than I do myself, yet ordinary terms will be better 
understood. Our text tells us that a secret word was uttered amid quiet 
silence. O Lord, where, then, is that silence, where is the spot in which 
that word is uttered? As I said before, so now say I again: It is the 
purest place the soul can offer and the noblest; it is in the soul's very 
renovated depths; yea, in its most essential being. That place it is that 
holds the quiet silence ministering to this Divine birth. Never doea 
any created thing or any image enter there; nor in that innermost soul 
is there any action, or understanding, or knowledge ; no, nor any figure, 
whether of herself or of any creature. Everything the soul does it does 
by its faculties. If it thinks, it is with its reason ; if it recalls the past, 
it is with the memory, and if it loves, it is with the will. Thus, it is ever 
with the soul's faculties and not with its essential being that it acts; 
all its activity depends on some intermediary. The pow r er of seeing 
works not without the eyes; without them, seeing is not. And the same 
is true of the soul's activity through all the other senses; it always 
depends on an intermediary. But in the essential being of the soul there 
is no action, for the faculties with which it works flow out of this very 
essence. In this alone abides that silence, that perfect quiet, that 
proper condition for God to operate the Divine generation and speak 
His Internal Word. In this depths of its being the soul is by its very 
nature incapable of receiving anything but God's own essence, and that 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 77 

without any intermediary. God enters here Himself alone, Himself 
wholly and not partially, and God enters into the soul's very essence. 

None but God alone can have access to the soul's essence; creatures 
cannot, for they must stay outside among the soul's faculties, in which 
it beholds their image, by means of which it gives them entrance. When 
the soul's faculties come into touch with creatures, these faculties form 
an image of them and present it to the soul, which in that way knows 
them. No deeper than this can creatures sink into the soul. Nor doe3 
the soul ever approach creatures except by willingly receiving an image 
of them, and by the presence of the same it is brought in contact with 
creatures. The soul forms the image from the thing itself by means of 
i its own faculties; knowing, for example, and being joined to, a stone, 
a horse, or a man by the image thus made and perceived, the knowledge 
necessarily coming into the soul from outside through the senses. Hence 
it happens that nothing is so little known to the soul as its own real 
self. And hence a certain teacher says that the soul is unable to form 
or receive an image of its own self, for the reason that all images enter 
through the senses, and these cannot perceive the soul. It knows all 
other things, but itself it knows not. Of nothing is it so ignorant as of 
itself, and this is for lack of necessary intermediate image. 

And be assured that when the soul is freed from all images and inter- 
mediaries, God can for that reason join it to Himself directly and with- 
out the interposition of anything whatsoever. Consider that whatever 
power thou dost claim for any human master, thou must own God to 
possess the same, and that beyond all measure. Now, the wiser and 
mightier such a master is, the less does he need means and instruments 
to influence thee and the simpler is his power. But man needs many 
means and instruments for his outward works, and between his plan- 
ning and his performance there is much preparation. On the other 
hand, the moon and sun in their masterful work of illuminating the 
world, need no longer than the twinkling of an eye to fill all the ends 
of the earth with light. And an angel needs even less means and uses 
fewer images; while the very highest seraph has but one single figure in 
which he knows and acts his part, though lesser spirits need a multi- 
plicity of such aids. But God needs no aid of images or instruments 
at all, not even of one. God acts upon the soul directly, without image 
or figure; yea, upon the soul's deepest depths, into which no image has 
ever penetrated, nor any being other than God's self. This ran no 
created thing ever accomplish. God the Father thus begets His Son in 



78 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

the soul, and not as creatures act, by showing figure and likeness, but 
j u>i afl Be begets Bim In eternity. 

And tmu is this 1 >i\ ine generation accomplished in the soul? Remem- 
ber that God the Father has a knowledge of Himself which penetrates 
His being perfectly and without the interposition of any image; and it 
is thus thai God the Father generates His Son in true unity of Divine 
nai ore. Now in no other manner does God the Father beget His Son in 
the essence and being of the soul, and in doiDg so unite Himself with 
the soul. Bnt if in this Divine work there were any intermediary of 
figure or image, there could be no true and perfect union, and upon such 
a union depends all the soul's happiness. 

Bui you may object that by nature the soul is ever full of images. I 
answer no; for if that were true the soul could never be happy, nor 
could God ever make a being capable of perfect bliss; nor would God 
be our greatest joy and last end — God, who is the beginning and the 
end of all. No creature can ever be the bliss of another creature, nor 
its perfection. The perfection of all virtue in this mortal life is fol- 
lowed by the perfection of immortal life hereafter, which consists in 
immediate union with God. If thou wouldst, therefore, enjoy here 
below a foretaste of thy future bliss, thou must needs retire inward and 
dwell in thy soul's depths and essence. There must it be that God will 
touch thee with His most simple being, without medium or similitude. 
No image is for its own sake, but only to show its original, coming from 
without by means of the senses acting on creatures; and as no creature 
dan ever make us happy, much less can any image of creatures. 

And now let us consider our second question, namely : What shall one 
do to win and merit that this Divine generation shall take place within 
his soul? Shall we co-operate by meditating on God, and that by means 
of similitudes? Or shall one rather rest in mental silence and wait for 
God in quiet of mind, leaving to Him alone all active working? And 
now let me repeat what I have said before : Such a matter as this con- 
cerns only perfect souls, who have already won to themselves, as it 
were essentially, all virtuous living, doing good without any effort — 
men who are living examples of the life and teaching of our Lord. Let 
snch as these know that if they would be granted this divine life, their 
best and h ighest part is to be still and let God act and speak.* When 

•Tauler's teaching here and elsewhere about the prayer of quiet, is to be supple- 
mented and explained by that in the Sermon for the First Sunday of Lent. Therein 
tie exposes and condemns the quietism of the false mystics. There, too, he explains 
the restful and passive receptivity of real contemplation, just as it has ever been 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 79 



all the powers of a soul are withdrawn from all activity and all simili- 
tudes of creatures, then in that soul shall the Divine Word be uttered. 
According to our text: "While all things were in quiet silence the 
Almighty Word leaped down from Heaven." Therefore, in proportion 
as thou dost earnestly gather inward all thy faculties in forgetfulness 
of all created things and of all their similitudes, being recollected wholly 
in thyself in obliviousness of creatures, the nearer art thou to receive 
the generation of the Divine Word. 

O, if thou couldst but forget all things ! Yea, if thou couldst but be 
unconscious of thy own very life, and be able to say, with St. Paul : 
''Whether in the body or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth" 
(II Cor. xii, 2) . In him had the spiritual part so entirely absorbed the 
natural faculties that he forgot his bodily existence; memory and under- 
standing no longer acted, nor did the senses and powers whose office is 
to regulate corporal life. His bodily heat was suspended, and yet with- 
out hurt to his physical condition, aud he suffered no injury from being 
for three days without meat and drink. The same was the case with 
Moses ; he fasted during the forty days he was with God in the moun- 
tain, and was no weaker, but just as strong, the last day as the first. 
So must one withdraw from the life of the senses and, turning inward 
all his powers, forget everything, even his very self. Hence a teacher 
says: "Quit the unrest of external activity, fly and hide from the 
storms of outward things and inward thoughts, for these breed disturb- 
ance." If God shall utter His Word in the soul, the soul must be in 
peace and tranquillity. It is then that He, indeed, utters His Word 
and His own self in the soul ; it is not any resemblance, but it is His 
very self. St. Dionysius says : "God has no similitude or image of Him- 
self, for He is essentially all good, all truth, all being." He docs all 
in the twinkling of an eye, whether He acts in Himself or out of Him- 
self. Do not imagine that when God made the heavens and earth and 
all things, that he made one today and another tomorrow; for, even 
though Moses thus writes, he does so in order that his readers may the 
more easily understand God's creative act, for He Himself was better 
informed. God's act of creation was only this: He willed and it was 
done. God acts without means or figures; and the more thou art freed 
from them, the more apt art thou to receive His influence ; and, being the 

taught by approved mystical writers. He shows that it is a relative ami not an 
absolute cessation of mental action. While the ordinary activity of the faculties 
is suspended, the soul is gazing into God with a distinct longing, intensely reaching 
onward into deeper and deeper joy of contemplation. 



80 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

more introverted and self-forgetful, thou art all the nearer to Him. 
About this St. Dionysius counsels his disciple, Timothy: "Chasten thy 
senses, elevate thyself above thyself and all thy powers above speech 
and reason, above works and methods and existence,and abide in hidden, 
quiet darkness, and it is thus that thou shalt come to the knowledge of 
the unknown and all-good God." There must be withdrawal of the soul 
from all things; God feels it beneath His dignity to act by means of 
images. 

You might ask. Where does God act without any image? It is in 
the depths and essence of the soul. I cannot know it in the ordinary 
way of knowing, for my soul's faculties perceive nothing except in 
[mages, each object being necessarily known by its proper image; for 
example, the soul cannot see and recognize a horse in the figure of a 
man; and, because all images enter the soul from without, the Divine 
generation is hidden and mysterious to it, and that is all for the best. 
This Divine act within the soul being so unaccountable, it sinks it deep 
in amazement. Then it forthwith studies this event within its depths, 
and that very eagerly, and knows better and better that it is most real, 
though it cannot tell how it is, nor exactly what it is, only it soon knows 
that it is God. When a man knows the cause of anything, forthwith 
he tires of it and looks about to find something else to investigate, ever 
striving after knowledge and never resting content. But in this obscure 
knowledge of God acting within it, the soul is fixed fast and keeps on 
constantly enquiring. Hence the wise man's teaching in our text, that 
His hidden Word was uttered amid quiet silence of all things, in a very 
secret way, stealing into my soul unawares. But you may ask how can 
this be a hidden Word, since the very nature of every word is to reveal 
something. And I answer that this Word, as it flashes forth in my soul 
does, indeed, reveal something, for it is a witness of God, and only 
t herefore is it called a Word. But that it was the Divine W T ord, was at 
first hidden from me by reason of its stealing into my soul in secret 
and in stillness. 

And the benefit of this is that it makes us search for it, since it is hid- 
den and vet with us, appears and yet is concealed, and so perforce we 
must yearn and sigh after it. So St. Paul urges us to follow after it 
and never give over till we have possessed it; for he had come back from 
the third heaven, having there beheld all Divine things; yet he forgot 
them, and this was because he had been rapt so deep into God that his 
reason conld not act there. When he would seek to tell of what hap- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 81 

pened, he found it concealed from him ; and so he looked for it within his 
very soul, and not by mental exertion toward what was outward ; for 
such things are within and not without, absolutely within ; and because 
he was interiorly sure of this so did he say : "I am sure that neither 
death nor life shall be able to separate us from the love of God" (Rom. 
viii, 38-39) ; namely, that love he felt the Divine Word had generated 
within him. 

A heathen sage said this beautiful word : "I see something true within 
me, shining before my spirit. I know full well that it is something real, 
but what it is I cannot understand, only I believe that if I could but 
grasp it I should know all truth." And then another sage answered 
him: "Ah, yes, keep up thy search for this hidden thing; for if thou 
canst but grasp it thou shalt have all good, thou shalt have eternal life." 

St. Augustine likewise teaches: "I have discovered something in my 
soul which lights it up and which, if it could but be perfected within me, 
I would be life eternal. It is hidden and yet revealed, coming in 
secretly. And its meaning is that it will steal all things away from the 
soul. What it reveals to me is that it is come to gain entrance to my 
soul and lead it away, and cause it to strip itself of all things." In the 
same sense the prophet prayed that the Lord might take from him his 
spirit and give him the Divine Spirit. And so spoke the love-stricken 
soul in the Canticle: "My soul melted when He [my beloved] spoke" 
(Cant, v, 6) . As if to say, when He entered my soul I fainted away with 
love. And such is Christ's meaning when he tells us that whosoever 
leaveth father or mother for His sake shall receive a hundred-fold 
(Matt, xix, 29). And in St. John's Gospel (xii, 26) : "He that would 
minister to Me, let him follow after Me," and not after his senses. 

Perhaps thou wilt say : Oh, Lord, wilt thou reverse the soul's natural 
life and work against its nature? For by our senses and their image- 
making must we live. Art thou going to turn back this our soul's order 
of life? No; by no means. But dost thou know what nobility ( tod hath 
implanted in this same nature, yet all unknown, all hidden? Those 
who have written about the soul's nobility have never come nearer to it 
than their natural reason could carry them. They have never entered 
into the depths, and hence much has been hidden from them and remains 
unknown. Hence the prophet says: "I will hear what the Lord will 
speak in me" (Ps. lxxxiv, 9). It was because of this hidden nobility 
of the soul that the Word came down in the darkness of night. And 
St. John says: "The light shineth in darkness." And he also (ells 



82 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

us that the WOnl, coming among His own, they yet received Him not, 
but that -as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become 
the Bona of < ;«»<!" i John i. L2). 

Let us now consider our third point, the point of the Heavenly Word, 
and of the darkness which is His peculiar accompaniment. In brief, 
it is thai thou shalt be born as the heavenly Father's child and nothing 
less, for herein Be gives thee the power to be made a son of God. 

Mark well this fruit. For all the truth that those teachers who follow 
reason alone have ever taught, all that such will ever teach till the last 
day, is oothing in comparison to the wisdom in the depths of this soul. 
Although litis interior life is darkness and ignorance, yet it has more 
wisdom than all external knowledge whatsoever. It strips us of all 
knowledge of things gained by reason; it even strips us of self. As 
Christ says: "If any man cometh to me and hate not his father, and 
mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters; yea, and his 
own life also [and all the external things else], he cannot be My disciple" 
i Luke xiv, 26) . It is as if He would say, whosoever does not give up all 
that is outward in creatures is incapable of this Divine inward genera- 
tion. If thou wilt divest thee of thy own very self and of all that is 
external to thee, then God will in very truth give thee His Divine gen- 
eration. And I firmly believe that the man who thus stands inwardly 
upright with God, would rather suffer the most shameful death than 
commit the least mortal sin. I will even affirm that as long as he con- 
tinues thus joined to God, he will not be guilty of ordinary daily venial 
faults against himself or others, as far as these are wilful, whether by 
act or permission. He is so strongly drawn to God that he feels as if he 
cannot turn away from Him, and always sighs and yearns after Him. 

May God help us to obtain this Divine birth within us— God who is 
now born unto us a Man— so that we poor, weak men, as we are, may be 
divinely born unto Him. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 83 



Heumma for ttj* N*m f tnt 

Synopsis— Causes of relapse into sin. — Lack of thoroughness, and 
of humility, which is defined — Lack of the interior spirit, and of 
resolute purpose — Examples of two virgins — Lack of recollection, 
which is defined — Practical suggestions. 



SERMON FOR NEW-YEAR'S DAY. 

On this happy New-Year's Day should every pious Christian cut him- 
self off from his former transgressions and his evil habits, and over and 
over again renew his good resolutions. For many a one, warned by 
God or his own friends, begins a new course; but he quickly falls away 
again from his good manner of life, and before he knows how or where it 
happened, he has slipped back, and this comes mainly from the follow- 
ing causes : 

The first is that one is not loosened from his inclinations and tastes 
for created things. It may be love of thy own self that holds thee down. 
or it may be some other transitory good. Whatever is not God, whether 
small or great, fetches thee down, even without thy knowing it, so that 
thou mayst not stay in the right way, or with God. 

The second cause is that one is not rooted in humility. Whoever will 
have his tree grow must sink the roots deep in the earth ; otherwise, no 
matter how the sun shines and the water is poured upon it, it all 
avails nothing to make it grow and bear fruit. Once it is well planted, 
and the deeper it is sunk below, the higher it grows up above. Just so 
then, supposing the soil to be good, it grows well and bears much fruit, 
with thyself. Are thy roots, that is to say, thy intentions, not planted 
in the good, fertile soil that God alone is, in real and submissive humil- 
ity, and that, without any doubt? Then all light and teaching ami all 
the waters of devout sentiments help thee nothing. Thou must even be 
withered and dried up before thou canst come to anything. And true 
humility is not such talk as this: I am a good-for-nothing creature. Bui 
rather that one is in all reality totally subjected to God. not in outward 
show, but in his deepest heart, in the renunciation of self in all things 



84 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

and separation of soul from all creatures, until one clings to nothing 
but what God gives, cleaving to Him with steadfast earnestness, in 
humble fear, ever lying prostrate at His feet in constant prayer. True 
humility is to wait on God's blessed will in joy and sorrow, in plenty and 
want, living in detachment and interior conformity to God; giving up 
one's own will to the eternal will of God, which one waits on with patient 
trust, accepting everything from Him, and in turn offering all to Him 
again, with a willing soul stripped all naked and in poverty; appropriat- 
ing to oneself not a hair's weight of all the gifts God grants him ; every- 
thing of this done in deepest spiritual silence, the innermost soul sunk 
in humble recollection, without the least self-consciousness, without 
sitting in judgment on other men. 

The third cause of failure is a man being too much occupied with his 
outward senses, not abstaining enough from efforts of his own, acting 
as if God could do nothing without his help. A man must in all things 
turn inward, wait inwardly, watch there for God, let God act, and be to 
God nothing but an instrument in His hands. Let him do God's will 
simply, passively and not actively, acknowledging as God's his every 
effort, act and word. Surrender thy will to God in all things, and live 
and act interiorly. Draw thyself in to the innermost recesses of thy 
soul, for it is there that God dwells; gather there unto Him all thy 
faculties and senses, all will and all activity, and busy thyself only with 
longing for the all-lovely will of God. And if thou hast no longing, yet 
long 1.) have a longing; be God's bondsman, not in name, but essentially, 
by an act beyond power of words to tell, or thought, or understanding, 
in a manner all passive, mysteriously sunk down in the darkness of thy 
inmost being, and in pure faith. Only then it is that one prays most 
perfect ly in the spirit, and seeks the heavenly Father with a prayer that 
is always heard and granted. 

Take an example. There were two virgins in a convent, one versed 
in high learning and deep questions; the other had no thought of such 
things, but in simplicity of soul was absorbed in God, and ever gave her- 
self up to Him, This latter was powerful with God, who at once granted 
her all she asked. And whatever others asked her to pray for, God forth- 
wiih granted it to them, even when she had forgotten to pray for it. 
When i hey thanked her she said to God : Ah, my dear Lord, how has this 
happened, for I forgot to offer the prayers which Thou yet hast granted ! 
And He answered her : There was no need of thou thyself begging these 
favors; it was enough for Me that thou wast asked to do so, and that I 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 85 

knew thy good purpose to pray. I must always make it good, because 
thou hast given over to Me all thy will. And so we affirm that those 
who are entirely abandoned to God pray better without words, and, as 
it seems to them, even without thoughts or desires, than others do with 
long prayers full of tears; for the former pray in God and with God; 
all their conduct and their life is purely a prayer. 

Any man who gives himself to God essentially determined always to 
remain His prisoner, to him will God in turn deliver Himself entirely, 
and, as it were, become his captive. And then God leads him ineffably 
above all captivity into Divine freedom in His own self, and makes him, 
in a certain way, rather a Divine than a human being. They who 
approach such a man come near to God, and they who would know him 
well must know him in God. Herein are all his wounds healed, all his 
debts paid, and he has passed out of creatures into God. His natural 
state has in a manner been changed into a Divine state. This blessed 
exchange is beyond comprehension, beyond sensible perception and feel- 
ing, for it is beyond natural conditions. Whosoever have found this 
interior way have found the shortest and happiest; and the most perfect 
and eternal enjoyment of God is theirs. We had better be silent about 
this than discourse of it, better experience it than comprehend it. 

These souls are ever abandoned to God in their will and in all things 
as God desires, keeping always a close guard over themselves. God is 
constantly present to them in their perceptions and feelings; at no time 
or in any act do they lose touch of Him or He of them ; they always mean 
God and seek Him in what they do, never themselves. And if it ever 
happens that they lose the sense of God's nearness, whether in their souls 
or in outward nature, then they immediately suffer. Multiplicity, 
unrest, darkness, dissipation of mind, afflict them and cause dissatisfac- 
tion in their labors. This is the test as to whether or not one works 
for God alone. Thus easily and strongly does Nature seek herself in 
all things, even, alas, in the things of God. 

O, if a man will reach the possession of the Supreme Good, he must 
labor as hard and as skilfully as one who would master a difficult art! 
Let him always lie prostrate at God's feet as a poor little worm, as 
being nothing and good for nothing, actually realizing the words of 
the prophet: "I have become as a beast before Thee, and I am always 
with Thee" (Ps. lxii, 23). And again the Holy Spirit says to the 
bride: "If thou knowest not thyself, O fairest among women, go forth 
and follow after the steps of the flocks!" (Cant, i, 7). This means: 



86 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Learn a lesson from the patient beast, who eats nothing and does noth- 
ing excel >t as guided by his owner and according as the heavenly bodies 
influence him. O, if any one will but give himself up to God and follow 
Him, he will always be with God and with the prophets, and will, 
indeed, be happy! If you strike an ox, he does not resent it; if you 
caress him, he regards it not; he neither rejoices nor mourns, but leaves 
all things to themselves. If we shall ever come to that state on account 
of absorption in God we shall, indeed, be perfect men. Whosoever is 
really detached from himself and savors God alone, to him God makes 
a plain response in all things, in pleasure and in pain, in plenty and in 
want. 

If one will arrive at this state, let him fly away, be still, wait and 
repose. Whosoever has gained these four helps easily overcomes any 
affliction. He who thinks always of his last end, and with a yearning 
heart awaits eternity, easily despises all earthly things. Thou shalt 
never taste the Divine sweetness, until thou dost reject earthly sweetness 
as if it were the taste of death. Whosoever will be saved must be saved 
by means of great care and watchfulness. If thy thoughts shall dwell 
in Heaven, Heaven shall be granted thee on earth. Whatever virtue is 
thine without interior silence it will be impossible for thee to keep. 
Know thyself, for many men know many things and never know them- 
selves. He who has mastered his thoughts, and keeps them hidden from 
men and the world, is secure from the strokes of the enemy. He who 
is happy when all alone, is secretly visited by God, and the enemy dis- 
turbs him not in his inner life, while his outward life rests in much 
peace. But he that is involved in multiplicity must suffer many 
wounds. Whatsoever man begins to disregard the little things in the 
spiritual life and to heed not his trifling faults, loses courage and zeal 
little by little, and at last comes to nothing. May God save us all 
from this. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 87 



3tye ^olg Srtnltg in % BoixVb HsBtntt 

Synopsis — The divine generation is continuous in the perfect sou 
Explanation of natural spiritual activity — Examples drawn from 
Christ's dealing with His Apostles — Interior and exterior quiet 
necessary — How compatible with duty — Union of action with con- 
templation — How contemplation is superior to action — How the 
intelligence acts during contemplation — Zeal, when inordinate — 
Vows and other obligations, how related to higher states of prayer. 



SERMON FOR THE SUNDAY AFTER NEW YEAR'S. 

Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business? — Luke ii, 49. 

These words serve our purpose well, for I am going to speak of the 
eternal birth, which yet happens in time and does happen every day. in 
the innermost depths of the soul, far from all outward things. If any- 
one will receive this Divine favor, it is before all things necessary for 
him to be about the Father's business. 

What, then, is peculiar to the Father? We give to Him among the 
three Divine persons the attribute of power. If, therefore, the Divine 
generation is surely felt, it must be with great power, both in overcom- 
ing one's outward self and breaking away from the senses in all things. 
It takes strong force to throw back and subdue all our faculties, sup- 
pressing their activity. Force must be applied; only by force can this 
ever succeed. Christ says : "The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, 
and the violent bear it away" (Matt, xi, 12). 

And now a question arises. Does this Divine generation take place 
continuously in the soul, or only at intervals? I answer thai thai is 
according to our dispositions, and whether or not one applies himself 
earnestly to God's work, for that end striving day and night to forgel 
all things. And now we must make a distinction. Man is en. lowed 
with active intelligence, passive intelligence, and that which is only 
possible intelligence. The first is always at work upon something 
present to it; the second works by accepting the net ion of another; the 
third remains in readiness to act and holds possession of what ii may 
act upon. For example, what things one spoke ten years ago he now 



88 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



holds in memory, and although he does not at present speak them, yet 
are they as close to him as what he now does actually speak. The past 
things (nol ye1 retailed to mind) he holds by virtue of what is called 
habit ; thai is to say, a power seated in him and ready to act; the latter 
he holds under actual consideration. It is thus with the Divine genera- 
tion. Our Lord said : "Yet a little while and you shall not see Me, and 
again a little while and you shall see Me" (John xvi, 17). And so it 
is with our good God; sometimes He reveals Himself, sometimes He 
hides Himself. Our Lord took the three apostles with Himself into 
the mountain and showed them the bodily glory which was His by His 
union with the Godhead (and which shall be ours after the resurrec- 
tion i ; and immediately Peter would gladly have remained there forever. 
And. in truth, when a man finds good things he cannot give them up, in 
-o far as they are good. And, therefore, when the intelligence has found 
good things, so must the memory afterwards recall them with love. Nor 
i an our love be withdrawn from anything good unless we feel that there 
is some evil mixed with it. Our Lord, knowing all this full well, must 
Bometimes hide Himself away from us or we should lose our freedom of 
accepting or rejecting Him. 

Notice, besides, that the active intelligence is always busy with some 
object, whether it be God or creatures. And when it acts reasonably 
upon creatures, that is to say, referring them by well-ordered reason to 
their first cause, namely, to God's glory and praise, then all is well 
with the intelligence, which is then rightly said to be active. But when 
God Himself undertakes to act within it, then the soul must hold itself 
passive. Meanwhile the possible intelligence co-operates with both the 
active and passive, so that while God acts and the soul receives His 
action, the best possible effect may be produced. The soul is active when 
it busies itself with its work; it must be passive and tranquil when God 
alone works within it; and ere this is begun and perfected the soul looks 
to God and to itself that it may possess a perfected work. In this 
position the intelligence is called the possible reason; and this, taken 
by itself, is of little value and produces no fruit. But in so far as the 
soul acts up to its possibilities in all fidelity, in so far does God's Spirit 
rule the soul and its activity; then does it see the power of God and 
receive His Spirit. But since the sight of God in this corporal life is 
oppressive, therefore at intervals He withdraws Himself. Hence: 
' Vet a little while and you shall not see Me, and again a little and you 
shall see Me," which is as much as to say that the good God sometimes 
shows and sometimes hides Himself to our understanding. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 89 

Call to mind what I have said about Peter and the other disciples at 
the Transfiguration, and how we cannot give up any good, as such, 
when we find it. Wherever the intelligence perceives good, the will 
and memory follow after, and the entire soul cleaves to it until it finds 
in it something evil. Hence if our Lord, Who is the Supreme < rood, did 
not at times hide His glory from the soul, it would so turn inward to 
Him and therein fixedly remain, that it could not care for the body, of 
which it is the single indispensable form and the actual life. . Hence St. 
Paul's words about his vision : "'Whether in the body or out of the 
body, I know not" (II Cor. xii, 2). If he had been thus rapt away 
in the spirit during a hundred years, contemplating the infinite good, 
he could not come back to his body, and he would be meanwhile totally 
forgetful of it. That this Divine influence does not belong to this 
earthly life our gracious Father knows full well, and hence He imparts 
it to us only at intervals and in a way most fitting our weakness, just as 
a good physician gives a sick man medicine. It is all God's work, not 
thine; and He acts or He acts not by turns, for thy best interests. His 
hand is ever upon thee to guide thee to much or little of His Divine 
influence, holding thee away from Him w T hen His Divinity becomes 
intolerable to thee. He is no destroyer of nature ; rather He perfects it ; 
but only according as thou art by degrees prepared for Him. 

And now here is a difficulty. Since one must, in order to prepare 
for God's visit to his soul, be quite stripped of all interior images 
and freed from all activity of his mental faculties, which is yet ever 
man's natural condition, what shall we say of outward works of broth- 
erly love? Is it not certain that these must sometimes be performed, 
such as instructing the ignorant and comforting the unfortunate? Must 
all these be quite given up, the very works that the Lord's disciples so 
often gloried in doing? A father of the church says that St. Paul was 
so filled with love of the people that he seemed to bear the whole world 
of humanity in his heart. Must one be deprived of this great good for 
the sake of a lesser one? In answer I bid you to observe this : The one 
good is in itself the nobler; the other the more beneficial. Mary was 
praised for choosing the better part, and yet Martha's part was in a 
certain sense the more useful, for she ministered to our Lord and His 
disciples. St. Thomas teaches that the active life is better than the 
contemplative, as long as one's activity springs from that very love 
which one has gained in contemplation. Thus the two kinds of holiness 
are one; for the active man is only fruitful when he holds fast to the 



90 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

contemplative Btate as to the root of his activity. Herein is placed the 
fruit fulness of the active life, namely, that it fulfills the purposes or 
the bouI's contemplative state. One kind of life may seem wholly active, 
and yei it is in reality <>f a piece with the contemplative. It is as if one 
entered in and came out of a house now by one and then by another 
door. The doors are different; the house is one and the same. There- 
fore, in active holiness one has nothing that is preferable to contempla- 
tive holiness; for one kind reposes in and is founded on the other and 
carries out its designs. In God's sight there is thus perfect unity 
between the two states, in one of which He shows the principle of action 
and in the other shows how to carry it out in the same spirit. In the 
one thou ministerest good to thyself; in the other the same ministry is 
extended to the brethren. This manner of life Christ our Lord perfectly 
illustrated in His own career, and He enforces it upon us by His teaching 
and example. This is most plainly shown in His whole life, as well as 
in the lives of all His disciples, all His saints whom He sent forth to 
serve the common good of all. 

St. Paul writes to his dear son, Timothy: "Preach the Word" (II 
Tim. iv, 2). Does he mean the outward word that beats the air? No, 
by no means ; but rather that inwardly given word which lies hidden in 
the depths of the soul. He is to preach it in such wise that the powers 
of his hearers' souls shall receive it and be fed with it. He shall possess 
it so that he may be enabled to announce it to other men in all plainness. 
And a further grace is added : He shall so live outwardly that whatever 
his neighbor stands in need of, shall be found revealed in his outward 
conduct. The word he preaches shall thereby light up men's thoughts, 
reason, will and senses. According to our Lord : "Let your light so shine 
before men that thev may see vour good works, and glorifv vour Father, 
Who is in Heaven*' (Matt, v, 16). This teaching is against certain 
men who value contemplation and at the same time do not value active 
virtue. They say we have no need of the practice of virtue, we have 
progressed above that. Of these our Lord did not speak when He said : 
"Some fell on good ground and brought forth fruit a hundred-fold" 
(Matt, xiii, 8). And elsewhere He says: "The tree that bringeth not 
forth good fruit shall be cut down" (Matt. iii. 10). 

Thou mayst ask : What, then, becomes of the hush and silence of 
which thou hast told us before? For to the active life belong many 
images, every act having its own, either within or without; as, for 
instance, that I teach this or do that, causes figures and forms in my 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 91 



mind. And what, then, becomes of my interior quiet? Whatever the 
reason knows or the will determines or Hie memory recalls — all makes 
forms and images. I answer thus : 1 )octors, as I have already stated, 
tell us of a working or active intelligence, and of a receiving or passive 
intelligence. The active intelligence observes the forms of outward 
things and strips them of what is material and accidental ; these images 
are then deposited in the passive intelligence as spiritual images. When 
the passive intelligence has thus become fertilized and impregnated, it 
knows outward things in these their images; but after this has hap- 
pened the mind can only recall them with the turtner co-operation of the 
active intelligence, shedding new light upon the passive intelligence. 
Now, understand that all this work done by the active intelligence in the 
natural man, God Himself exclusively and completely does in a man 
wholly and supernaturally detached from all things. He suspends the 
active intelligence and puts Himself in its place; and then He does 
directly Himself the work that belongs to the active intelligence. This 
man has subjugated himself and reduced his active intelligence to inac- 
tivity. Therefore, God, if He wills him to work actively, must Himself 
be the worker and act directly on the passive intelligence. 

Bear in mind that the active intelligence cannot contain two images 
at the same time; one must be before or after the other. Two colors 
may be in different quarters of the heavens, but thou canst see only one 
at a time. Now, mark well that this is not so when God Himself directly 
impregnates the mind in the stead of the active intelligence doing so, for 
He then conveys many forms and images to the passive intelligence 
at the same moment. When God inspires thee to one good work, imme- 
diately all good works are before thee; thy spirit is lifted on high a 
thousand times more swiftly than before, and is direel ed to all good. 
In one instant all the good thou canst do is displayed before thee; and 
this shows that the work is not of thv reason, but rather of Him Who 
has all forms and images in Himself at one and the same moment. 
Hence, says St. Paul: "I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth 
me" (Phil, iv, 13) ; not only this or that thing, but all things whatsoever. 
Learn by this that, when thou comest to this high state, the forms 
according to which thy work is done a re not thine nor nature's ; they are 
His, Who is nature's master; He it is Who has placed the forms and 
done the work. This has happened to thee in time, bu1 it is generated 
and done by God in eternity and in a manner above all forms. 

Thou mayst ask: Since my intelligence is herein si ripped of iis own 
natural activity, its own natural works and images, upon what support 



92 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Bhall it then real ? for some support it must have. Can one's faculties 
ii. .u have any basis from which to act, either of memory, reason or- will? 
In answer I say that the soul has for its basis of action not the acci- 
dentals of being, bu1 b£ing itself. When it perceives real being it imme- 
diately is drawn to it and rests in it, and therefrom does the soul reason- 
ably sp.-ak its word or do its act. Until it finds the very truth of being, 
and touches the essence of what it knows, and can say it is precisely 
this and nothing else, it refuses to rest, but ever searches further, ever 
longing and seeking. Thus does the soul labor sometimes a whole year 
in the study of even some natural truth. Yet a longer time will the 
mind work at separating the non-essential from the essential, resting on 
no basis and making no decision. 

This is true of the soul's relation to natural truth. As to knowing 
supernatural truth, that is to say, God, never in this life can the soul be 
without longing and laboring, always remaining in greater ignorance 
than knowledge of Him, even in the highest spiritual states; for He 
never reveals Himself very much to His friends here below. What they 
are given to know of Him is nothing compared to w T hat He really is. Yet 
it is really God in His very essence that is in the soul, but to the reason 
known only in a dark and hidden manner. And the soul is, therefore, 
; vcr without rest, struggling to know more, searching for w'hat is con- 
eealed and yet is to be revealed of Him. Thus it is that we cannot know 
what God is in Himself, but we learn more of Him by unceasingly 
abstracting from our thoughts of Him whatever He is not, always seek- 
ing Him as matter seeks form. Matter never rests till filled with all . 
forms; nor does reason, until it has possessed that truth which informs 
and enfolds all things; and that it must have in its essence. God with- 
holds this, drawing the soul on, exciting its longing and its endeavors 
in search of greater and yet greater good. And the soul is by its nature 
never content with trifling things, but ever strives after the highest. 

Thou mayst say : Master, thou hast told us before that all our powers 
must be still, and yet now Thou hast taught us that in this stillness there 
is a knowledge of and longing after all things in God. Is not this a 
loud cry and an eager speech after what one does not possess, an expect- 
ing and a longing — not stillness and rest? Is it not absence of real 
repose, and rather studying and wishing, seeking, thanking and prais- 
ing, filling the mind with images? I answer by pointing out a distinc- 
tion. If a man is stripped naked of self and all things else and that 
in his every faculty and in every way, then whatever happens in his soul 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 93 



is no longer his, but it is God's, to whom he has given himself up. Let 
me insist: The word or action of which we speak, whose word is it? 
Is it His Who speaks or his who hears? Although it is in a certain 
way his who hears, yet it is essentially the Word of Him Who generates 
it and utters it, not of him who hears it. Take an example: The 
sun sheds its light into the air, which receives it and gives it to us, so 
that we can distinguish colors. And yet the light, though as to its form 
it be in the air, yet in its essence it is in the sun. It comes from the sun 
and not from the air, which yet receives it and distributes it to every- 
thing that is capable of it. It is thus with God's generation of His grace 
in the soul. Thy soul receives it in its powers in many ways — in aspira- 
tions, in intentions, in newness of life, in thanksgiving. Although action 
thus affects thee, it is all God's and not thy own. Take, therefore, all that 
happens within thee as His and not as thy own, as it is written : "The 
Holy Spirit breathes very softly even amid the tempest (III Kings xix, 
12) . He does not pray in us, but we pray in Him, as St. Paul says : "No 
man can say the Lord Jesus but by the Holy Ghost" (I Cor. xii, 3) . It is 
thus before all things necesary for thee not to cling to anything, but to 
surrender thyself totally to God, that He may act within thee according 
to His will. The task is His; He generates His Word within thee and 
thereby generates all thy activity, and, indeed, all else that concerns 
thee. If thou hast yielded thyself with all thy faculties to God. offering 
up all thy being and its attributes, then must God enter into thy being 
and into its faculties, because thou hast renounced all self-ownership 
and made thy soul like a desert waste before Him. Then happens what 
is written : "The voice of one crying in the wilderness." (Isaias xl, 3.) 
Let this voice resound within thee just as loudly as may be pleasing to 
God, who sounds it, and for thy part guard thyself with all carefulness. 
Dost thou complain and ask how shall a man behave who is despoiled 
and cut loose from self and from all things else? Shall he stay waiting 
perpetually for God's action? Or shall he do some things that belong 
to a devout life — pray, fast, watch at night, read pious books— as long 
as he takes nothing from without, but all from God, who is within him? 
If a man does nothing, is he not a sluggard? Mark my answer: Ee 
must bv no means neglect outward works, for those are commanded of 
him for the sake of good order; they lead him to God in a spiritual life. 
and they are for praiseworthy ends. Good works hinder his slipping 
downward into an irregular way of living, and, as they become habitual, 
they guard him from straying into eccentricities. By such means docs 



!•! The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

God prepare him for His more interior life, hindering him from that 
grossness of life which lie cannot tolerate. 

Hui remember that thou tnnst guard against the inordinate longings 
<>f zeal; for the greater one's longing for outward things, the farther 
removed is one's happiness. Also, the greater one's love of God, the 
more bitter is one's pain, for love leads to detachment, and that is pain- 
ful. He assured that all good works are rightly practiced if they lead 
a man captive to God and preserve him from strange, foolish and 
ungodh conduct; and this applies to all such works as prayer, reading 
good hooks, singing God's praises, fasting and kneeling. Hence, if one 
perceives that God is not actively working His will within him, then 
he can do nothing better than practice any and all virtues, choosing 
those Unit are most needful for his soul, never seeking any advantage 
that is not truly spiritual. Let me caution such a one against all 
spiritual rudeness, for he must do nothing but what unites him closer 
to God. And then, when God once more visits him in high, supernatural 
ways, He will find Himself at home in his servant's interior life. Well- 
grounded interior life is the exclusion of outward unrest. Now T , it may 
happen that God will ravish thy soul out of itself into a state of ecstasy, 
and then, perforce, thou must be totally passive. As to such pious 
practices as are imposed on thee by thy vows, even those thou shalt be 
for a while wholly unable to observe ; for in that state God elevates the 
soul above all and into a state higher than all — into Himself. Consider 
an illustration : Suppose that a layman has vowed prayers, pilgrimages 
and fasts ; now, as soon as he enter a religious order these vows are dis- 
pensed; for in his new state he is bound to all virtues and to God by a 
new tie; and this shows what I mean in saying, that w r hen a man is rapt 
in God rightly and truly, he is released from all such obligations, for he 
cannot fulfill them, because he is absorbed and immersed in God in 
ecstasy. And if the soul thus remains wholly inactive a w T eek or a 
month it is not time lost as God sees things, for the soul must be entirely 
faithful to Him. 

But as soon as a man returns to himself from his rapture he must at 
once apply himself to fulfill all obligations, without imagining, however, 
that what has been omitted of rule and duty should be now made good. 
<io«] is responsible for all that, because He it is that had made thee 
incapable of observing it. Nor shouldst thou wish that He would have 
enabled thee to perform all those holy duties, for the very least thing 
thai < lod does is greater than all things else. And now be it well under- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 95 

stood that all this teaching refers only to men who are by God and Holy 
Scripture well instructed and fully enlightened. 

But what shall we say of an ordinary layman who knows nothing of 
this state, and is instructed only in external observances of piety, but 
who has made a vow to pray or to fast? If in an enlightened conscience 
he is convinced that the fulfillment of his vow interferes with his certain 
and ordinary duty to God, then he is dispensed from his vow. What- 
soever leads thee to God and places thee closer to Him, whether it be 
a vow or anything else, follow that earnestly, being sure that it is best 
for thy interior life. According to St. Paul : ''When that which is per- 
fect is come, that which is in part shall be done away" (I Cor. xiii, 10). 

Vows differ one from another. Some are never dispensed, as the 
marriage vow, which, though made in the hands of the priest, is yet as 
sacred as if vowed to God in His open Divine presence. As to other 
kinds of vows, it is good to bind oneself to God to accomplish what one 
believes to be some better work. But if later on one finds his conscience 
oppressed, as often enough happens, and is convinced that to keep his 
vow would be injurious to God's honor and his soul's welfare, then he 
should release himself from his vow and find a surer way leading to 
eternal happiness. Nor is this a hard matter, for we have only to 
regard the fruit likely to result and the intrinsic truth involved, rather 
than the outward work. So St. Paul says: "The letter killeth;" thai 
is to say, the external observance viewed entirely in itself; "but the 
Spirit giveth life" (II Cor. iii, 6), which means an interior perception of 
the actual realities of the case. Be earnestly watchful of thyself ; what- 
ever duty lies before thee, do it at once and in preference to everything 
else; cultivate an ardent and elevated spirit within thee and not a cow- 
ardly one, and all this in a state of interior tranquillity. Meanwhile 
take counsel with thy superior or some other enlightened friend of God, 
so as to avoid vain self-reliance. If thou canst not find such a one, 
consult at least thy father confessor; and in this course thou shalt be 
safe and secure. Remember that God guards thee, knowing well all tin- 
wants before thou dost tell Him them. And, therefore, let thy prayers 
be simple, unlike those of the Pharisees, of whom our Lord Jesus < Jhrisl 
said that they trusted to be heard by reason of their long prayers, 
and meanwhile they were the enemies of God and man (Matt. wiii. 1 I I. 

May the Blessed Trinity— God the Father, and God the Son. and God 
the Holy Ghost — bestow upon our spirit this blissful stillness, in which 
the Eternal Word shall be generated within us. A men. 



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(Ety> Hag of ^tvUttwn 

Synojisis — Be not hasty or premature in beginning — Overcome world- 
lincss — Bravely repress sensuality — Resist all envy and bitterness 
—Pray for divine guidance and wait for it — The part that pa- 
tience play*; and obedience and holy fear — Finally pattern on 
Jesus in His life and death. 



FIRST SERMON FOR THE VIGIL OF THE EPIPHANY. 

Take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel.— Matt, ii, 20. 

If one reads the Holy Gospels a thousand times and preaches and 
meditates them as many, he will ever find some new truth unperceived 
before by any man. "Take the Child and His mother and go into the 
land of Israel, for they are dead that sought the Child's life." Dear 
children, as soon as some men are conscious of an inward striving 
toward a new life, they are rash and over eager. The newness of the 
Holy Spirit within them leads them to a sudden resolve to do great 
things for God. Meanwhile they have not considered whether their 
nature is such, or the store of grace in them is such as to make a success 
of what they are undertaking. Therefore, let every one look to the end 
before he embarks in such a work, considering his inner state and his 
outer surroundings carefully. Interiorly he should at once place him- 
self in touch with God's Spirit, so that every work begun may in Him 
and by Him be happily ended. Yet some start away instantly, begin 
with untried methods, venturing this or that scheme blindly; and hereby 
many injure themselves in soul and body. They build upon their own 
foundation both in things natural and spiritual. Often one thinks he 
is guided by God, while he is but following his natural bent. 

Our dear St. Joseph, abiding in his exile with the Child and His 
mother, received the angel's message that Herod was dead and that they 
were to return to the land of Israel ; but he learned by human means that 
Herod's son, Archelaus, reigned in his father's place, and he feared that 
the beloved little Infant would be killed by him. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 97 

Dear children, what shall we understand from this? Herod, who had 
hunted the Child and would have killed Him, may he compared to Hie 
world, which would kill the Divine Infant in our souls. From the world 
we must flee if we would preserve 11m ( Jhild alive within us. Indeed, our 
own soul is the Child. And when one lias fled from the world externally 
and gone into a convent or monastery, presently Archelaus rises up and 
begins to rule interiorlv in the soul. It mav he that this Archelaus can 
never conquer thee; but that is because thou shalt by the strength of 
God, fortify thyself with great and earnest industry in devout practices ; 
for I assure thee that thou hast many fierce enemies arrayed against 
thee and ready to assail thee. 

The first enemy is the world. This attacks thee with spiritual pride, 
leading thee to walk before men's eyes and be esteemed holy by them. 
Thou shalt be tempted to please others by thy dress, thy manners, lofty 
speech, wisdom, friends, wealth, honors; and all these things are nothing 
else than the devil's uniform. 

Another enemy is a man's own flesh, which assails him with bodily and 
spiritual temptations to impurity, with evil suggestions of word and 
deed. In these ways are all those men guilty who wilfully indulge sen- 
suality in any way whatsoever. Let every man subject to these attacks, 
guard himself most carefully in all his senses, and in all those irregular 
emotions wherein one is likely to suffer uncleanness. Any man whose 
mind is tenderly inclined toward creatures, whether lay people or 
religious, cherishing tender sentiments about them in his heart day and 
night, such a one is being drawn into that vice whose ugly name is 
impurity. And just as external unchastity deprives the body of its 
purity, so does interior unchastity smirch the beautiful purity of the 
soul. And as the soul is nobler than the body, in the same degree is 
interior impurity fouler than external. 

The third enemy is bitterness of heart, that evil spirit which poisons 
thy soul with bad wishes, judgments, hatred, revenge; so ami so has 
done thee this injury and has said such and such things to thee; 1! 
injuries thou wilt by no means tolerate and thou gives! him angry looks, 
a scornful bearing, bitter and violent words. Hence come dissensions, 
mutual mistreatment, and other vicious things. Children, this is without 
any doubt the inspiration, seed sowing and actual work of the devil. 

Be sure that if thou wilt ever be blessed thou must fly from all this 
and must, for Cod's sake, yield thyself up to suffer all things kindly and 
meekly, whether men treat thee justly or unjustly. Leave thy vindica- 



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tion to God arid the truth and do not defend thyself; and then will the 
peace of God be born within thee, and be spread around thee in all 
I alienee and love. But if thou failest to do this with zeal and earnest- 
ness, then is thy Aivhelaus present and he will surely slay the Child, 
namely, the precious grace of God, within thy soul. We know how care- 
fully the humble Joseph enquired, in order to discover if there was any 
one near who sought the Child Jesus to kill Him. 

And even when all these vices are overcome there yet remain a thou- 
sand bands to be broken asunder, and these no one knows but a truly 
converted man ; for Joseph's example teaches us an earnest perseverance 
in a godly and blessed way of living, together with an ever-growing love 
of God's will. By such virtues did he most faithfully guard the little 
Child and his mother from those who would have killed Him. 

Joseph was warned by God's angel and led back by him into the land 
of Israel. Now, Israel means the land of vision. And, children, you 
must understand that many men are ruined, because they would prema- 
turely break through the numerous cords of imperfections which bind 
them ; that is to say, before God's mercy has graciously released them, 
before God's angel has warned them and led them forth. They fall 
into the grievous error of trying to perfect themselves before God really 
wills it. They think to succeed by their intellectual gifts and their 
eloquence about high things, and because they can meditate deeply and 
discourse loftily upon the Holy Trinity. It is a great misery that this 
delusion has now become so prevalent and grows worse day by day. 
Such men will not patiently endure the restrictions of God's Providence 
and the darkness of Egypt, for Egypt signifies darkness; for it must be 
well understood that no creature that God ever made can be released 
from the bonds of spiritual imprisonment by its own strength; the 
eternal and all-merciful God, and none other, can release us. Turn 
thee this way or that way, it must be so if all shall be well with thee. 
Run through the whole world, seek up and down everywhere, nowhere 
and from no one shalt thou find this release but from God alone. An 
instrument for His work He may choose, whether it be angel or man, 
but, none the less, He Himself does the work, and none other can do it. 
Therefore, search inwardly for God in the depths of thy soul, and give 
over outward searching. Suffer willingly for God's sake; dwell in the 
darkness of Egypt until thou art plainly invited by God's angel to come 
forth. 

Joseph was warned in sleep. He that sleeps sins not. Thus the 
devout man should repose in peaceful sleep, indifferent to all the afflic- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 99 

tions and oppositions that may come upon him, bowing meekly and in 
all patience under every sorrow, nor adverting to them unduly, willingly 
resigning himself and gladly suffering for God's sake. Surely in no 
other way canst thou set thyself free than thus to remain, as it were, in 
this sleep of patience without sin, until, like Joseph, thou shalt be 
rewarded for thy humble submission by the heavenly invitation to come 
forth. 

Understand, too, that Joseph, the Child's guardian, represents the 

rulers of holy church, parish priests, bishops, abbots, priors, and father 

confessors. These are placed for ruling men and for directing them for 

God's praise and according to His will. But many among them are, 

alas, blind; and the blind thus leading the blind, it is to be feared that 

both will fall into the pit of eternal damnation. Now, each of us has 

many superiors. Thus I have over me a subprior, a prior, a provincial, 

a bishop and a pope ; and suppose that by an impossibility each and all 

of them wished to do me evil, were all turned into wolves striving to bite 

me ; yet I ought, none the less, meekly to resign myself and be submissive 

under them, and that without any murmuring or contradiction. If it 

happens that they do me good, I ought to receive it humbly, as from God ; 

if it happens that they do me evil and wrong me, I ought to accept it in 

all good will and cheerfulness, and suffer it for the sake and love of God. 

Notice, again, dear children, that Joseph was in constant fear until 

God's angel announced that they were dead who sought the Child's life ; 

and then with all diligence he enquired who reigned in the land of 

[Israel. Children, some men err by giving up all fear, for you must 

l^know that we should not ever be without fear as long as life lasts; for 

I thus speaks the holy prophet : "The fear of the Lord is holy, enduring 

'forever and ever" (Ps. xviii, 10). So, then, even when the angel calls 

thee forth, thou oughtest still to fear and diligently enquire what it is 

that reigns within thee, and whether it be truly God or only thy own 

nature. 

Then holy Joseph took the Child Jesus and His ever-blessed and 
humble mother. The Child Jesus represents a pure, clean man. A man 
should be wholly clean and pure, quite unsullied by taint of outward 
things. And he should also be lowly minded, subject under God and 
under all creatures for God's sake in deep humility. The blessed mother 
of Christ represents to us godlike love in all sweetness and purity l for 
such love is the unfeigned humbling of a man in his own esteem, joined 
to entire subjection to God's will in all sincerity. Children, a man thus 



inn The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

placed is a little child and ought not to stray away foolishly into the 
land of vision. Upon occasions he may enjoy some relaxation there, but 
onlv (»n condition that he shall betimes come back again into the land 
of Egj p1 ; ami. this continues until he has grown up to perfect manhood 
under the watch and ward of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

He it is who truly teaches us the way of perfection in all things, giv- 
ing ns the pattern of His pure and guileless life. And if we could not 
BO much as have God's word, yet in His pure and holy life we should 
find all that is necessary to possess eternal happiness. He went to 
Jerusalem when He was twelve years old, but He did not remain there; 
He came away again because He had not yet perfectly arrived at man's 
estate. He stayed away till that time had come, and then in His perfect 
manhood He was daily in Jerusalem teaching the Jews the way of 
truth. He went throughout the land of Galilee ; He was in Capharnaum 
and in the city of Nazareth; He was everywhere in the land of Juda 
as a mighty teacher, doing signs and wonders. And thus must every 
devout man act. He must not dwell in the holy land of contemplation, 
but only go there from time to time and quickly withdraw again, for he 
is not perfectly grown up to manhood ; he is a young and unpracticed 
and imperfect spirit. When he has become a strong, perfect and manly 
spirit, then let him enter into the land of Juda — I mean the perfect 
knowledge of God. Then let him in all freedom go up to Jerusalem, the 
true city of peace. Thou mayst then, at last, joyfully and plentifully 
teach others and correct them and journey to Galilee, which means a 
passing over. 

Children, when one has thus gone onward, and has passed over all 
things created, he finally arrives at the city of Nazareth, the sweet 
flower-garden of joy, in which grow the beautiful and fragrant blossoms 
of eternal life. There he finds unspeakable peace, solace, and comfort, 
tranquil rest in God alone, all beyond the power of human tongue to 
describe. 

Children, into this depth of God's being all those men are absorbed, 
who for God's sake have humbly and with good will borne the assaults 
of the passions, in inward and outward conflict. They have meekly 
bowed under God's yoke; they have been submissive to all creatures, and 
they have persevered till the ever good God has Himself released them 
and led them forth by His grace into His holy peace. Then it happens 
that it is given them often to enjoy for a brief moment, a sweet foretaste 
of the happiness that shall be theirs in God for all eternity. May God 
grant us all this in His infinite bounty. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 101 



gwktttg for (Bab 

Synopsis — The natural yearning for God and its defectiveness — By 
grace one is drawn to God in the depths of his own soul—Effect 
of the inner finding of God on one's mind and heart. 



SECOND SERMON FOR THE VIGIL OF THE EPIPHANY. 

Where is He that is born King of the Jews? — Matt, ii, 2. 

The soul knows that God exists, and that even by the light of natural 
reason ; but as to who He is it has no knowledge ; this is hidden from it. 
Now, there arises in every guileless soul a sweet yearning for more 
knowledge of its God; it seeks earnestly and enquires anxiously for 
Him ; how gladly would it find Him Who is so hidden away from it. In 
this diligent search there appears to the soul a star, which is a gleam of 
the light of Divine grace. This light speaks to the soul and says, He is 
born today; and at the same time it points out His birthplace. Now, 
this cannot be any natural guidance, for all who follow nature's light in 
seeking God's birthplace will but go astray. God's birth would not be 
known but for the shining of a Divine light, telling us what that birth is, 
and where it has taken place. Foolish men cannot wait for the light of 
grace to shine and guide them on till they find the Divine generation ; 
they break away and seek for it by the natural light of reason, and all in 
vain ; they must bide their time, which has not yet come. This yearning 
for God works strong within them ; in some it becomes so violent as to 
pierce flesh and blood ; yea, to penetrate even to the marrow of I he bones. 
It is true that our natural reason has a part to play and must use all its 
powers, if the soul's longing for God shall be satisfied; but natural 
reason does not know God's generation in us, and cannot. Therefore, 
reveal it. 

Herein are three things to be considered. One is the yearning, another 
is the seeking, and the third is the finding out of the Divine birth. < Jon- 
sider, too, three other things in the soul of man. One is what cleaves to 
his fleshly nature, his bodily senses and sensibility; another is his 



1(l - The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

reason ; and the third is the naked and essential substance of the soul. 
AH three differ one from another, each one acting unlike the other and 
according to its own nature. The sun's light is one in itself and simple; 
bnt when shining through glass it is various, being black,yellow or white' 
according to the glass's color. Black glass may stand for our sensible 
life, yellow for that of reason, white for the essential spirit's very self. 
Now, when the senses enter the reason and the reason penetrates the 
pnrerj essential spirit, then the black has become yellow and the yellow 
has become white. Thus a purely simple state of light results, and in 
that, and that alone, the light of the Divine birth shines forth. When 
rightly received all images, forms, and resemblances vanish away from 
the soul, and the light of the Divine birth alone beams in very truth 
within it. The natural light of day may be obscured by darkness, but 
when the sun rises in all his splendor, he triumphs over darkness, and 
all lesser luminaries disappear from sight. It is thus that the 'clear 
beams of this supernatural light shine in the soul, all forms and images 
disappearing. And hence wherever it shines natural lights are quenched 
for the star that showed the three kings the Divine birthplace was not 
like other stars; it was not naturally fixed in the sky like them The 
senses of man take from material things their images, and these are 
fairer than the things themselves. Then the understanding in turn 
strips these images of their sensible grossness, and retains only the 
heavenly forms that are in them by making them reason's images— the 
yellow glass acting upon the black. And finally the understanding 
itself may become the white glass; that is to say, if it will cleanse itself 
by self-renunciation, and thereby be made a purely spiritual faculty. 
Into this soul alone does the star of the Divine birth brightlv shine. 
Toward this happy lot does all human life constantly tend. 

Now, these three answers that I have given to the three questions, may 
be compared to the three gifts of the three kings; and this shall be the 
subject of tomorrow's sermon. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 103 



Ijjiui Utito fHurrij \b Emmh into %>mn\ SmmBt 

Synopsis — Spirituality is a bitter task — Even innocent joys must be 
chastened — The bitterness that is sent specially by God — This 
leads us to great things, the chief being power to suffer for God's 
sake — Danger of seeking pain out of self-ioill — The crowning bit- 
terness is inner anguish caused by God's testing the soul's fidelity 
—Patience herein — The joy finally resulting. 



FIRST SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY. 

And opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts : gold, frankincense and 
myrrh. — Matt, ii, 11. 

Let us first consider the myrrh. This means the bitterness that one 
must taste ere he finds God ; for in turning to God one must turn away 
from the world; and, besides that, he must banish away all pleasure and 
concupiscence. It is a matter of necessity that whatever a man holds 
dear must be given up, and that is a task bitter in the extreme. What- 
ever was sweet before must become just as bitter to thee now, and this 
calls for a strong and diligent effort; the greater the pleasure before, 
the greater the bitterness now. 

Thou demandest how a man can live without pleasure, joy or desire. 
If I am hungry, I eat ; if I am thirsty, I drink ; if I am drowsy, I sleep ; if 
I am cold, I warm myself. All this is nature's law, and how can I 
change it as long as nature is what it is? How can what is sweet 
by nature be turned into bitterness? I answer that these joys, 
pleasures, savors, satisfactions, complaisances, when they are not sin- 
ful, may not be totally destroyed ; but, at least, they ought not to enter 
into the inner depths of the soul nor have any place there. These feel- 
ings should come and go with the acts which caused them, and leave 
behind no trace of their existence. Thou shalt take no pleasure in them, 
but let them pass off and away. Whatever of the world and of created 
things thou findest lingering in thy soul, thou shouldst not consider as 
thy own to possess, nor permit thyself the least satisfaction therein. 
Creatures and the pleasure arising from creatures, must be to thee some 



lit I The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

thing thou hast overcome and put to death. And this applies even to 
i he joys thou findest with men who are friends of God. 'Whatsoever of 
this kind of joy thou findest thyself inclined to must be totallv overcome. 
Thy soul is the child, and until Herod and all his court who seek that 
child an- really dead to thee, thou deceivest thyself if thou imaginest 
that thou makest any progress. Be not without fear; be not too eager; 

• how things stand with thee. 

There is yet another kind of myrrh, whose bitterness goes far beyond 
the first kind. That is the myrrh that God gives. It is trouble and 
suffering, whether interior or exterior, sent especially by God. Oh, if 
thou canst but receive that myrrh with the same deep-hearted love with 
A hi eh God gives it, what a happy state shall be generated within thee — 
joy and peace and elevation of soul! Yes, whether God sends thee suf- 
fering little or great, it is from the depths of His unspeakable love; and 
in this He but gives thee something greater and more useful than any 
gift; namely, His very love itself. If God has numbered the hairs of 
thy head, so that not one of them falls to the ground without His knowl- 
edge and will, much rather has He foreseen from all eternity the least 
suffering He gives thee to endure, and hast loved it ; and He has willed it 
for thy advancement in perfection. 

Hence if thy finger pain thee or thy skin is hurt, if thy feet are cold 
or thou art hungry and thirsty, if someone annoys thee by word or deed, 
if anything whatever distresses thee with want or pain, it is all a prepa- 
ration fur the joyful time to come. It was all foreseen and ordered by 
God, as if weighed out and measured and numbered by Him for thy 
perfection. That my eye rests sound in my head, God has eternally 
foreseen. That its light goes out and I become blind, or that I become 
deaf, the heavenly Father has foreseen it eternally, decreed it in His 
eternal counsels. And shall not I, though blind and deaf outwardly, 
lift up my soul's glances and thank my God that His eternal decree has 
been fulfilled in me? Instead of my misfortune afflicting me, it should 
wonderfully excite me to thanksgiving. It is the same with the loss of 
friends, goods, honors, the comforts of life; such calamities are given by 
God to prepare thee for the truest interior peace if thou but knowest 
how to receive them. And if thou sayst: These afflictions have come 
from ii iy harboring an evil thing in my soul and I have deserved them 
us a punishment, then I answer: Dear child, whether these painful 
things are deserved or undeserved, they equally come from God. In 
either case thank Him for them, suffer them and be resigned. 

All the myrrh of suffering that God sends, is by Him intended to lead 
thee to great things. It is that we may be privileged to suffer, that God 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 



105 



arrays all things in opposition to us. It were as easy for God to have 
bread ready baked grow in the field as raw wheat; but in this and all 
other things God wills that man must be tried. Everything that hap- 
pens is thus foreseen and prearranged by Him. We know how caref u 1 1 y 
the painter calculates the strokes of his brush, broad or narrow, short 
or long, mingling the red and the blue with all foresight to produce a 
masterpiece of his art. God is a thousand times more intent than this 
upon making a man the masterpiece of His Divine art ; and ne does this 
by His strokes of suffering and His colors of pain. O that we would 
accept and use the Divine gift of myrrh in the same spirit in which it is 
given ! 

And there are some men who are not content with the myrrh that God 
gives; they seek and find other pains out of self-will, injuring their 
brains and breeding illusions, suffering much and long from this indis- 
creet mortification. Little grace comes to them, for they build upon 
their own foundation, whether in penances, fastings, praying or other 
devotional practices. In such cases God must wait till their meddle- 
some interference is over and done. It has brought them no good. It is 
God's way not to reward any works other than His own. In Heaven, 
He will bestow on thee a crown for His works and not for thine. What- 
soever work of thine God does not work in thee, counts for nothing. 

The third kind of myrrh is very bitter; it is God's gift of inward 
anguish and darkness, aridity and distaste for spiritual things. Who- 
soever recognizes God's hand in this and resigns himself to it, will find 
flesh and blood and human nature consumed in him ; the Divine artist's 
inward work changes the colors far more than all one's own outward 
practices. God tries us herein with dreadful tests, and in amazing and 
strange ways, unknown to all save those who have experienced them. 
There is a wonderful store of the myrrh of suffering in man's nature, 
which, if it were set loose, we could scarcely endure ; but God knows how 
to use it for our good. If one does not understand this, then when the 
trial comes he is more deeply injured than can be imagined ; for no heart 
can measure God's love for us in giving us this myrrh of inner sorrow. 
Given to us for our profit, we may yet get no good from it by bearing it 
with sleepy indifference or with murmuring of spirit. And if thou com 
plainest : O, I am all dry and dark within my soul, 1 answer thee : 1 >ear 
child, bear it patiently, and thou shalt be much better on account of 
it than if thou hadst been full of sensible sweetness. 

Now, the bitterness of this myrrh is felt both in the senses and in the 
mind. When felt in our sensible and external life, a man will sometimes 



li k; The Sermons and Spiritual Conference^. 

venture to relieve himself of it, being wise in his own conceit. He 
attributes his misery to external happenings, and seeks to avoid pain by 
remedying adversities; and, indeed, he may succeed in doing this; but all 
the time he is thereby setting himself up as wiser than God, Whom he 
would presume to guide and correct, being quite unwilling to accept any- 
ihing and everything from His Divine hand. In the end these suffer the 
bitterest woe. 

Others would manage their interior distress and sweeten their myrrh's 
bitterness, by using the resources of natural reason. They take refuge 
from their inward sorrow in the occupations and images of their intelli- 
gence. It, therefore, often happens that uneducated persons are sooner 
granted a solace than the learned. These uneducated souls are more 
single-minded and follow God's guidance more implicitly, knowing no 
other method than that of perfect trust in Him. Would that the more 
intellectual would do the same! This way would bring them to an 
elevated and free state of soul even sooner than it does the others, 
because they would be aided by their mental endowments. O that thou 
wouldst give thyself thus up to God, not a drop of blood in thy body but 
would help thee to thy perfection ! 

Out of this soul is breathed forth the frankincense of the magi — a 
little vapor from the fragrant grains of incense. Incense has a sweet 
odor. When the fire takes hold of its grains, it sucks into itself the 
sweetness concealed in them, and then gives it forth in its fragrant 
fumes. By the fire is meant nothing else than the burning love of God 
which blazes up in prayer. Prayer is the smoke of incense, arising from 
our souls to God during our devout exercises; for prayer is defined as 
the elevation of the soul to God. External devotion, however, is like 
straw; its whole use is for the wheat, and after the grain has been 
1 hrashed out of it, it is good for nothing better than to make a bed, or for 
kindling a very smoky fire. So outward devotional exercises are of no 
other use than to excite interior devotion, which is the sweet perfume 
of 1he soul before God. When thou feelest thy soul rising upward in 
interior aspiration, then cease the external practice; but this ought not 
to be done when holy Church commands us to observe outward devo- 
tional exercises, or when our father confessor imposes them by way of 
a penance. 

May our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, help us thus to benefit 
by these uifts of frankincense and myrrh, and may He draw our hearts' 
prayers thus upward to God. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 107 



Synopsis — Difference between God's presence in the natural order and 
in the supernatural — His presence by grace is a divine birth in 
the soul — How this is hindered by sin — Rules for discovering 
God's interior guidance in ordinary things — God's deeper visita- 
tion baffles the soul's faculties and makes it stupid, alienates 
friends, and shrouds it in darkness — In due time this state of 
ignorance and misery is changed for one of God's own wisdom 
and power. 



SECOND SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY. 

Where is He that is born King of the Jews? — Matt, ii, 2. 

Consider this birth attentively as to where it takes place. And as I 
have many times told you before, so now I say again : This eternal 
generation is in our souls, and that in no other way than it takes place 
in eternity. It is thus in the essence and depth of our souls. And this 
gives rise to some questions. 

The first point is this : God is present in all things, and that more inti- 
mately and naturally than they are present to themselves. Now, wher- 
ever God is, He must act; that means He must know Himself and 
thereby utter His eternal Word. How, then, is the soul of man to be 
compared with other created things in reference to this Divine birth? 
/ In this way : God is in all things by His essence, His action and His 
power; but in the soul alone is He born. We find a trace of God 
and His footprints in all creatures; but the soul is by nature made after 
God's likeness, and that likeness of God is perfected by this Divine birth. 
> No other earthly creature is capable of experiencing it. Resemblance to 
God is the soul's perfection, whether in form of light, or grace, or happi- 
ness; and this is bestowed only by the Divine generation. Await this in 
thy interior life, and thou shalt obtain all that is precious, consoling and 
joyful, most truly and most essentially. Neglect it, and thou neglectest 
everything good, and everything happy. It will bring thee pure and 
essential blessedness. Whatsoever joy thou seekesl apart from it, will 



L08 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

ruin run thing, no matter how thou shalt manage it. This birth alone 
gives essential life; the oilier way destroys it. Heroin thou art made 
partaker <>f the Divine influence, with all its gifts. No creature not 
made in < tod's image and likeness can be capable of receiving it, for it is 
thai Divine likeness in the soul, that has reference properly and pecu- 
liarly to the eternal generation, which, at the entrance of the heavenly 
Father int<> the soul's deepest depths, is therein accomplished, no other 
image but God's ever having penetrated there. 

The second question is this: Inasmuch as the Divine birth is accom- 
plished in the soul's depths, why shall it not be in a sinner's as well as 
in a good man's? for the essential nature of one soul is the same as that 
of another. Yea, even in hell a man's natural nobility of soul still sub- 
a. And to this 1 answer, I hat it is proper to the Divine birth always 
to shed i new light upon the soul, pouring forth God's own self in that 
illumination — first in the interior and essence, and then overflowing into 
all the faculties of the spirit, and finally into a man's external life. It 
happened thus to St. Paul at Damascus, when God's light smote him 
and spoke to him. A reflection of that light shone outwardly round 
about him and was seen by his companions. It is ever so with pious 
souls; God's light fills their inner depths, and then its overflow is seen 
in their bodily existence, which is thereby made lightsome. Of all this 
the sinner is wholly incapable, totally unworthy, for he is filled with 
sin and wickedness, which holds his spirit in darkness. As St. John 
says: The darkness did not comprehend the. light. This is because the 
path of the light is blocked up by .falsehood and darkness. Light and 
darkness cannot exist together in the soul. Nor can God and the crea- 
i ire rule there together; before God enters in, the creature must be 
driven out. 

How does a man first perceive this light? When he is converted to 
God a light glimmers and shines in his soul, giving him to understand 
what he oughl to do and what he ought not to do; many a plain guidance 
shall be thine which thou hadst not any notion of before. And if thou 
askest, How shall I know it? I answer that thy heart shall be touched 
by Cod and led away from worldly things. How can this be done 
excepl by enlightening thee? And it will be so gentle and so sweet, 
ihai everything that is not God or inclining thee to God shall distress 
ili"-. This enlightenment of soul will enrapture thee with God. Thou 
shall become conscious of many good admonitions within thee, not 
knowing from whence they come to thee; only it shall be plain that this 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 109 

interior inclination does not come from any created things; it is plainly 
none of their influence. Whatever a creature works in thee comes 
always from without. But God's light touches the inner depths of thy 
soul, and that alone, and the more fully thou art freed from creatures, 
the more distinctly dost thou perceive, that it is the light and truth of 
God that reigns within thee. Therefore, one never goes astray if he 
keeps to this true way. But he does wander blindly if he leaves it and 
trusts for guidance to outward things. Hence St. Augustine teaches 
that many, indeed, seek the light and the truth, but only toward the 
exterior, where it is not, and they often go to such a length as never to 
turn their eyes into their own souls at all. They have not found the 
true path, because the guide is within and not without. Whosoever 
would learn how to find and to recognize the true light, let him wait and 
watch for the Divine birth in his inmost soul; soon all his spiritual 
powers will be lighted up, and also his outward faculties. For as soon 
as God touches the interior with His truth, all of a man's forces are filled 
with light, and by that light he learns more than anyone can teach him. 
Hence the prophet says : "1 have understood more than all my teachers" 
(Ps. cxviii, 99). But since such a light as this cannot shine in a sinful 
soul, it is impossible that the Divine birth can be accomplished there. 
This light can have no fellowship with the darkness of sin, for it acts 
not in the faculties, but in the essence of the soul. 

It may reasonably be asked why this regeneration does not take place 
in the soul's faculties. Now, consider that every act is done for a 
certain end, which has first place in intention and last place in fulfill- 
ment; and God intends a most blessed end in all His works, namely, II is 
own very self. And He would bring the soul, with all its powers, to that 
same end — union with Himself. With this end in view, God does all His 
works; and He generates His Son in the soul so that all its powers may 
be made partakers of the Divine birth. All that the soul has and is, 
God gathers up, and He leads it all to this Divine entertainment. If, 
meanwhile, the soul turns its powers into the outer life, the eyes dis- 
tracting it with their gazing, the ears with hearing, the taste with eat- 
ing, and the like, in just that degree is it incapable of acting interiorly, 
for every mental power that lacks concentration is acting imperfectly. 
If the soul will have a forceful life it must call home all its powers, and 
all the bodily senses, and concentrate them upon an interior life. St. 
Augustine saj's : "The soul is more really present with whal it loves than 
with its own body." A certain heathen master was absorbed in a math- 



llii The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

ematicaJ calculation to that degree that he forgot to eat and drink. A 
soldier rushed into his room and brandished a sword over his head, 
knowing nothing of who he was. "Tell me who thou art or I will kill 
thee !" he shouted. But the mathematician was so absorbed in his prob- 
lem that he neither saw nor heard his enemy, nor was he able to utter a 
word. The soldier called and threatened loud and long without any 
response, and at last he cut off the master's head. And this absorption 
was the fascination of purely natural science. How much rather ought 
we to withdraw ourselves from all things, and assemble all our mental 
forces to contemplate and to know the eternal and immeasurable truth 
that is God. Gather, therefore, all thy reason, faculties, and senses into 
the depths of thy soul, for there is thy hidden treasure. Freed from all 
action and holily unknowing of all things, thou shalt surely find God. 

Thou mightest say : Dear brother, would it not be better that each of 
the soul's powers should maintain its own peculiar activity, each one 
not interfering with the others? I answer that I can in no wise know 
created things without suffering some hindrance therefrom. How, then, 
does God know all things without hindrance, and His blessed saints 
also? It is because the saints behold God Himself; and in Him it is 
that they behold all things else, even in one single image. And so does 
God behold all things in Himself, having no need to turn from one thing 
in order to behold another, as we must do. If in this life we could 
have a mirror, in which with one glance and in one image we could see 
and know all things, then our activity and our knowledge would work 
no hindrance in our spiritual life. But since we must always turn 
away from one thing if we would know another, therefore our knowl- 
edge of the one must hinder our knowledge of the other ; for the soul is so 
bound up with its faculties that, withersoever any one of them goes, the 
soul goes forth with it. It is present with every faculty in all its 
activity; if it is not with them thinking, then they cannot be acting. 
Hence if it is poured out with them in the care of external things, so 
much the w r eaker must it become for the care of interior things. And 
for the Divine generation God will and must have a soul free and unen- 
cumbered, a spirit in which there shall be naught but Himself alone. 
He demands a soul which waits on nothing and nobody but Himself 
alone ; and thus did Christ teach : "If any man come to Me and hate 
not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and 
sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 
xi\ \ 26) . He came upon earth not to send peace, but the sword" (Matt. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 111 

x, 34), cutting off from thee sisters, brothers, mother, children and 
friends. Whatsoever is near and dear to thee becomes really thy enemy. 
If thou wilt see all things and hear all, and if in thy heart thou wilt con- 
sider all things, then in very truth thy soul shall be wasted and scat- 
tered among them all. Hence a certain master says : "If a man would 
lead an interior life, let him draw all his powers, as it were, into a 
corner of his soul and hide himself with them there, far from all forms 
and images, and then he may act." Now, that man must forget all 
things, ignore all things, and rest hushed in stillness, in order that the 
Divine Word may be born within him. Let him know that he can now 
serve God's Word in no other way, except by being still and tranquil. 
He hears the Word speak amid his own silence ; he sees the Divine light 
amid his own ignorance ; when he has come to know nothing, then does 
the Word reveal itself to him. 

You may say : Sir, thou placest all our perfection in a certain kind of 
ignorance, and ignorance is a fault, for God has made man to know, and 
the prophet prayed God to make men know. Ignorance is the cause of 
sin and vanity; an ignorant man is a fool, and is like an ape. And I 
answer thus : What thou sayest is all true if a man continue in his ignor- 
ance. But mark well that from the ignorance I speak of, a man emerges 
into a knowledge high above all forms and images. Again, this ignorance 
is not the continuance of a previous ignorance; it is from motives of 
wisdom that a man herein makes himself ignorant. We ought to make 
ourselves ignorant for the sake of having Divine wisdom ; whereupon our 
souls, unknowing and empty, are presently adorned and ennobled with 
supernatural knowledge. In this process, if we but rest passive, we are 
made more perfect than if we actively worked. Hence the saying of a 
certain master : "We learn more wisdom by hearing than by seeing." 

It is related of a heathen philosopher, that as he was about to die his 
disciples told him of a great discovery in science. He raised his head 
and said: "Let me know about this, that I may enjoy it in eternity." 
Hearing brings things into us ; seeing gives us out to things. Hence in 
eternal life we shall have more joy in the faculty of hearing than in that 
of seeing, for my act of hearing the Eternal Word is all within me, and 
that of seeing goes forth out of me. By hearing I am made passive ; In- 
seeing, active; and our happiness does not consist in our activity, but in 
what we passively receive from God. As God is greater than all crea- 
tures, so is his action greater than mine. And it is by His Infinite love 
that He has made our blessedness depend on His action and not on our 



liL' The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

own. For our capacity to receive is greater than our capacity to give 
forth, and every gifi we receive increases our capacity for the reception 
of 01 her gifts, deepening our longing for yet greater things. And hence 
certain teachers say: ''In this is the soul like unto God, that as He is 
boundless in giving, so is the soul boundless in receiving; and as God 
is all-powerful in action, so is the soul all-capable in its passiveness; and 
thus is it transformed with -God and in God. Let God work, let the ... 
soul suffer His working." Then it shall know itself with His knowledge, 
love with His love, ever be happier with His blessedness than with its 
own. And hence the soul's happiness is placed not in its own activity, 
but in God's. St. Dionysius was once asked whv his disciDle Timothy 
surpassed all his other disciples in perfection of virtue. He answered : 
•Timothy is more perfect than all other men, because he is a man who is 
passive under God's action." 

All this explains how this kind of ignorance is not a defect, but a per- 
fection ; and how thy not doing is thy highest work and far above thy 
doing. Cease from all activity, be silent in every one of thy powers 
and faculties, and thou shalt in very truth experience the birth of the 
Divine Word within thee, and find thy new-born King within thy soul. 
Whatever else besides Him thou now findest there, thou must give up 
and cast away from thee. All whatsoever that is not pleasing to Him 
may He help us totally to reject — He Who was born a Child unto us that 
we might be made children of God. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 113 



(faub's Sltgitt in % Btml 

Synopsis — Row men mistake the light of human reason for the light 
of grace — Shown by persistence in sinfulness — The right way is 
the preparation of self-denial — The darkness of suffering goes 
before the dawn of God's light — Outward activity, how regulated 
in view of God's inner activity and the coming of His light. 



THIRD SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY. 
Arise and be enlightened, O Jerusalem. — Isaias lx, 1. 

God desires nothing upon earth but one thing, and that He has set His 
heart upon — that He may find the deep abyss that He has created in 
man's spirit empty and read} 7 for the perfect work He will do there. In 
all earth and Heaven He has full power; one thing alone is lacking Him. 
the accomplishment of His all holy will in man's soul. And what is 
man's part, that God may light up and take possession of his inmost 
soul ? He should arise, says Holy Writ : Arise, O Jerusalem ! This is 
as much as to say, that a man has his own part to play in the Divine 
work, and that it is to arise from all things whatsoever that are not 
God — from all creatures, including himself. It is in this rising up thai 
the soul's depths are quickly stirred with longing for God. The more 
all inordinate desires are shaken off, the stronger and stronger grows 
the yearning for God, until it seems to pierce flesh and blood and bones 
and marrow, and enter into the soul's verv essence. 

This movement toward God is managed in two different ways. One 
class of men work with their natural activity of mind, using the images 
and high thoughts of reason, with the result that they confuse the soul's 
inner life and stifle its yearnings, substituting their own efforts at under 
standing things for the longing after God. They imagine that by 
reason's activity they have made their souls God's city of peace. Others. 
men of the same class, think that they can prepare their souls by 
arrangements and methods of their own selection in prayers and medi- 
tations and the like, and thereby secure tranquillity. That this is a 



J 14 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

false peace is proved by their continuing in their defects, their pride, 
their sensuality and self-indulgence, in suspicions and rash judgments; 
they arc Irritated by reproof; easily moved to excuses, to hatred and to 
oilier wilful faults. From all this it is plain, that in taking in hand 
their own preparation for God's work they have hindered Him from 
doing ii ; that they have not arisen to be enlightened in the right way. 
Let iheni not fancy that their soul has been made God's holv citv of 
Jerusalem, the abode of peace. They should rather resolve to overcome 
their vices, follow our Lord's pattern in their daily lives, do humble 
works of holy charity, die to themselves in all things; that is their way 
to learn how to arise and be enlightened. 

Uut the others, they who in very truth arise and are enlightened, yield 
to God the task of preparing their souls' depths. These renounce them- 
selves in everything. They are attached to neither words, methods or 
acts, totally content in joy or in sorrow. To them all things are 
acceptable as coming from God, and are received in humble fear. They 
stand before Him in entire self-abandonment, bowed down in willing 
submission. Whatever may be God's good pleasure is welcome. Be it 
peaceful or the reverse, it is all one to them, for all things are from God. 
To them may be applied our Lord's words to His disciples when they 
asked Him to go to Jerusalem to the festival day: "My time is not yet 
come, but your time is always ready" (John vii, 6). These men's 
time is all the time, for waiting and suffering is always ready for them ; 
but God's time is not yet. When and how He will act and enlighten 
them they leave wholly to Him, in entire self-renunciation and the spirit 
of long suffering. It is thus peculiar to these men that to God is given 
over the preparation of their souls, and by no means do they assume the 
task themselves. Doubtless they occasionally feel the first movements 
of vice within them, from which, indeed, no one is exempt. But at the 
first evil suggestion, whether of pride or lust, or worldliness, anger or 
hatred, they immediately and most humbly turn to God, and give them- 
selves up to Him for protection. Such souls do most certainly arise, 
passing upward above all things, including self; they are, indeed, a city 
of peace, a real Jerusalem, enjoying tranquillity in the midst of unrest, 
and happiness in the midst of pain, having relish only for God's will in 
all happenings. The whole world is powerless to deprive them of their 
peace, nor could all men and devils together disturb it. They are 
assuredly enlightened by God, who shines in their souls brightly and 
powerfully, even more brightly and powerfully amid seeming darkness. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 11.") 

O, these are gentle souls, supernaturally guided by God, without Whose 
will they do nothing whatsoever. And, if we dared say so, they are in a 
kind of a way nothing of themselves, but God is all in all within them. 
O, it is these beautiful souls who are the pillars of the world ! Blessed 
is he who is so fortunate as to be one of them. 

These, then, are the two different classes. One class presumes to get 
their souls ready for God by their own efforts rather than His. with tin- 
result that they remain fettered by their sins, powerless to free them- 
selves; or they sink into self-content and self-will. The other class are 
blessed souls, full of utter self-detachment, elevated in spirit, watching 
their lightest defects, and at once flying to God for pardon, and receiving 
from Him a Divine freedom of spirit. 

It may be asked : Shall not these men whom God is thus preparing 
do any outward works ? Is it not, indeed, a necessity for them ? because 
the command is : Arise, O Jerusalem ! and to arise is itself to do some- 
thing. I answer : Yes ; one work is theirs to do, and that they ought to 
be engaged in as long as life lasts, if they would come to perfection. They 
must rise up constantly ; they must be constantly lifting up their souls 
in God and in a spirit of entire detachment, asking, in holy fear, Where 
is He that is born King? They must be ever searching what God's will 
is for them in their outward conduct or inward, and what they should 
do to please Him. Does God require them to be quietly passive, they 
rest still; does He bid them be active, they set to work; does He grant 
them contemplation, they enjoy its privileges. Their own inmost soul 
bears witness what He wills them to do, for His light is shining there, 
and that is God's chosen abode, which He will not share with any crea- 
ture. And of those other men, those overactive and self-guided spirits 
of whom we have before spoken, it must be said that God works within 
them also, but not directly and without means and images, as He does in 
the nobler and really detached spirits. In these last God's influence is 
felt without figures and images, and, as far as they can perceive, imme- 
diately upon the essence of their souls. And it is not possible to 
describe or explain His work in them, nor does anyone understand it 
except one who has himself experienced it, and such a one can only say 
that God has taken possession of the center of his spirit. He soon finds 
himself freed from being absorbed by external activity, and at the same 
time his realization of God's life in his soul grows ever stronger. When, 
finally, by his own great earnestness and God's blessed graces, he has 
attained to the highest perfection, his self-renunciation is complete 



116 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

according to our blessed Lord's words: "When you shall have done all 
these things that are commanded of you, say: We are unprofitable 
siivants" (Luke xvii, 10). This shows that, however perfect a man 
becomes, he should, nevertheless, stand in humble awe and fear of God. 
Yea, if he reaches the very highest point of holiness, he should say to 
God with deepest sincerity: "Thy will be done!" (Matt, vi, 10). He 
ought to maintain a sleepless watch over himself, examining whether 
he clings to even one single earthly thing, whether God finds in the 
interior of His soul, even the very least hindrance to His immediate 
influence upon his spiritual life. 

May God help us all thus to arise and be enlightened and to experi- 
ence His Divine action within us. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 117 



<8ob ta (&mwb bg irtadpttpnt from (Hxtatixrta 

Synopsis — Human activity must yield to divine — The passive state is 
receptive of God — The pain of the soul's solitude and silence pre- 
cedes the joy of God's coming — The soul must be empty of crea- 
tures before being filled with God — The good use of penances in 
this regard. 



SERMON FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. 

And when He was twelve years old. — Luke ii, 42. 

We read in the Holy Gospel that when our Lord was twelve years old 
He went with His parents to the temple, and that when they started 
homeward He remained there and they knew it not. Then when they 
missed Him on the journey and could not find Him among their kins- 
folk and acquaintance, they must go back to the temple seeking Him. 
And so they found Him. 

We may use this event to show thee, that if thou wouldst find the 
Divine generation thou must quit all men, and go back to the source 
from which thou hast sprung. All the powers of the soul, intelligence 
and understanding, memory and will, lead thee into multiplicity. There 
fore, thou must give them all up in so far as they lead thee into the 
life of the senses and of images in which thou seekest and findest thy- 
self; then and not otherwise shalt thou find the Divine generation. It 
is not to be found among kinsfolk and acquaintance, but, on the con- 
trary, the search for it among them only leads thee astray. 

And now it may be asked: Shall a man find this birth in certain 
works which are in themselves Divine, but which give us representations 
of God contributed by our senses, showing God's goodness, wisdom and 
mercy — framed by our own reason and yet Godlike in very truth? I 
answer no. Although these are good and Godlike, yet they come from 
our outward life of the human senses, and the Divine generation must 
come from within us and direct from God. When this Divine illumina- 
tion shines within thee in actual reality, then thy activity must all 
cease and thy soul's powers must minister to God's and not to thy own 



1 1 *> The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

activity; or. rather, God must alone be active and thou must rest pas- 
sive. When thou hast given up thy own willing and knowing, then does 
God enter in, and He then lights up thy soul brilliantly with His pres- 
ence. Wherever God would know Himself, there must thy power of 
knowing I h\ self cease to act. Do not imagine that thy reason may ever 
be so highly developed as to be able to know God by its native power 
in this Divine generation. If this light shines within thee, it borrows no 
pays from thy natural knowledge, but rather both thy reason and thy- 
self must be brought to nothing before God, and His light shall possess 
thee. And when He thus comes to thee, He will bring with Him every- 
thing that thou hast renounced for His sake increased a thousand- 
fold, to be known and enjoyed by thee in a new and all-embracing form. 
An example of this is given us in the Gospel, where our Lord conversed 
with the Samaritan woman at the well, and she left her pitcher and ran 
into the city and announced to the people that the Messias had come, 
and they believed her. But when they hastened out to the well and saw 
our Lord Himself, then they said to her : "We now believe, not for thy 
saying, for we ourselves have heard Him and know that this, indeed, is 
the Saviour of the World" (John iv, 42). And so in very truth, all 
created things and all sciences, added to thy own wisdom, cannot give 
thee the knowledge of God as God is divinely known. Wilt thou gain 
this knowledge? Then thou must give up all knowledge and become 
oblivious to all created things, even to thyself. 

Alas, then, thou mayst complain, what will become of my poor mind, 
standing thus vacant and inert? Can such a way be right, since it 
directs my thoughts to an unknown knowledge? And how can this 
really be, for I cannot know at all without knowing something? If I 
know anything I am not, according to thy teaching, rightly prepared for 
God. Must I actually be in utter darkness? Yes, I answer, undoubt- 
edly ; thou art never better off than when thou art sunk in the darkness 
of unknowing. And if thou askest : Is this to be my final state, from 
which I shall never return? I answer: Yes; certainly yes. Again, if 
thou wouldst know what this darkness is, what name it has, I answer 
that it is thy soul reduced to a state of pure and simple receptivity, 
which alone can fit thee to attain to perfection. Out of this thou art 
not to come forth, except it be by a way that is not the way of truth. 
Thou mayst, indeed, do so, but it must be by the way either of the 
senses, the world or the devil. And that path will lead thee necessarily 
into irnnsgressions; perhaps it may lead thee so far from God as to 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 11!: 

cause thy eternal downfall. Let there he no going backwards, therefore ; 
thou art to press ever forward with thy longing for God, until all thy 
capacity for Him has been filled by His blessed presence; thy soul's long- 
ing will never cease until it is entirely filled with God. Unformed 
matter never rests till its form is granted it to the extent of its capacity; 
nor does the soul of man ever find repose till it possesses God according 
to the fullness of its capacity. 

A heathen philosopher has said: "In all nature nothing is so swift 
as the flight of the heavenly bodies, and yet the mind of man overtakes 
and passes beyond them." If our spirit were only true to its original 
power and unfettered by lower and degenerate influences, it would 
transcend the highest heavens, and would never be content till it had 
touched the remotest goal, and fed upon the most perfect food. Such 
was its original capacity, which it should long to restore. This it will 
do by entering upon a state of entire abandonment to its nobler 
impulses, in a state of entire self-renunciation, and never returning from 
this salutary darkness. In this way it will finally win possession of 
Him Who is all in all, and its progress toward this end is in proportion 
to its emptiness and to its obliviousness to all created things. Hence 
God speaks of the human soul by the prophet Osee : "I will allure and 
will lead her into the wilderness and will speak to her heart" (Osee ii. 
14). The true and eternal Word is spoken only in that solitude of heart, 
in which a man has laid waste his affections for creatures and for his 
very self, being quite alienated from self-love and all multiplicity. This 
solitude and self-alienation is spoken of by the prophet David: "Who 
will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly and be at rest?" (Ps. liv. 
7). Where shall we find rest? Assuredly in the rejection and aliena- 
tion of all created things. Hence David says again : "I have chosen to 
be an abject in the house my God, rather than to dwell in the taber- 
nacles of sinners" (Ps. Ixxxiii, 11). 

And now thou mayst ask: Must one of necessity be spoiled of all 
things and alienated from them inwardly and outwardly, including his 
own natural faculties and their operation? it is a grievous thing that 
God should thus leave a man wholly without support : as the prophet 
says: "Woe is me, that my sojourning is prolonged!" i Ps. cxix, 5.) 
When God prolongs my waiting in a state of self-spoliation, not light- 
ing up my soul, nor speaking I lis Word, nor being anywise active 
within me, as thou hast here been teaching me; when, in a word, a man 
is sunk in absolute nothingness, is it not better thai he should do some- 



li'i) The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

thing to relieve the gloom and desolation of his spirit? Should he not 
■ay prayers, read good books, hear sermons, or resort for help to other 
pious means of relief? And to all this I answer no. These are all good 
in their place and time, but now God offers thee what is better. Be 
assured that to endure to the uttermost in thy patient silence, is in 
every w ay the best for thee. Out of that state thou canst not withdraw 
thyself without injury, no matter to what solace thou niayst resort. 
Thou art being made ready for God's coming, and thou wishest to have 
thy own share of this work of preparation, which cannot be ; it belongs 
all to Him. Thou hast not, seemingly, so much as the power to think 
it or desire it. God alone must prepare thy soul. If, by an impossi- 
bility, thou couldst have for thy part the preparation and He have for 
His part the entering in and possessing of thy soul, yet be assured that 
when thy part were done and thy soul prepared, God must at that 
moment enter in and possess thee. But all this is impossible. Do not 
dream that God acts upon thy soul as a carpenter does his task, now 
working and again leaving off, all just as He pleases. No, but on the 
contrary, the moment God finds thy soul prepared, He enters in and 
dwells there. It is like the shining of the sun — shine it must if the air 
is clear. It would be attributing a grave fault to God to suppose that 
He would not do His great work in thee, as soon as He finds thee capable 
of receiving it; that is to say, wholly resigned and detached. 

Learned men tell us, that the instant a human body is materially 
formed in the maternal womb, God imparts to it the spiritual soul, which 
is that body's living form; the readiness of the flesh and the pouring 
in of the spirit being simultaneous in this case, as in every other. When 
nature has been brought to its highest point of perfection, then and in 
the same instant God grants His grace. As soon as thy spirit is pre- 
pared for Him, God enters in without a moment's delay. In the Apoc- 
alypse we read our Lord's words: "Behold, I stand at the gate, and 
knock ! If any man shall hear My voice and open to Me the door, I will 
eome in to him and will sup with him, and he with Me" (Apoc. iii, 20). 
Search not here nor there for Him; He is not far from thee; He is even 
at the door. There He stands and waits. Whomsoever He finds ready, 
He inspires to open the door and bring Him in. Thou needst not call 
loudly for Him, as if He were far off, for He is at hand and eager to 
have thee ready for His coming — a thousand times more so than thou art 
t hyself. The very instant thy soul's door is opened to Him, He is within 
thee. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 121 

If thou objectest that thou dost not feel His presence, I answer that 
thy feelings are not thine, but His, to control as He sees best. When 
He is with thee, He may show Himself or conceal Himself, as best suits 
His purpose. Accordingly our Lord said to Nicodemus: "The spirit 
breatheth where He will, and thou hearest His voice, but thou knowest 
not whence He cometh and whither He goeth" (John iii, 8). He has 
often spoken to thee, and thou hast heard Him and yet hast not under- 
stood Him. But God, whether as master of nature, or of grace, will not 
permit a vacuum. And when thou thinkest that thy soul is empty, 
having no feeling of God's presence, in truth it is not empty; God is 
there. Einptyness of soul cannot continue; it must be filled by heaven 
coming down into it, or by its own self returning to its earthly fullness. 
God never permits a vacuum. Therefore, stand thy ground in all tran- 
quillity; suffer thy soul to be emptied; for if thou departest from this 
detachment thou canst not again easily recover it. 

And now thou mayst ask an explanation about the Divine generation 
of the Son of God, of which we have been treating. May I, thou wilt 
ask, have a sign given by which I shall know it has happened? Yes, 
certainly; and the sign is threefold. Men often ask me, if one may ever 
attain to such a spiritual state that nothing hinders his perfection — 
neither the lapse of time, nor the oppressive weight of material exist- 
ence, nor the distractions of the multitudes about him. And in very 
truth a man has reached that freedom, when this Divine generation has 
come to him ; all created things after that are instinctively referred to 
God, and to His birth within the soul. Take an example from a stroke 
of lightning. Whatever object is struck it is instantly turned toward 
the lightning. A man may turn his back away from it, but when struck 
he is quickly swung around again; the tree's leaves are all drawn 
toward the lightning that strikes it. So when this Divine birth strikes 
the soul it is instantly turned toward it, carrying with it all the condi- 
tions and circumstances of its existence, even the most unfavorable 
ones being transformed into benefits, by the soul's new relationship to 
God. No matter what thou seest or hearest, it all comes to thee sancti- 
fied by the Divine generation in thy soul. Everything becomes, as it 
were, God to thee, for thou knowest and lovest naught but God. It is 
like a man who has been gazing straight at the sun in the sky ; when he 
turns to look at other objects he sees the sun's disc shining in them. 
And if thou shouldst fail in this, and dost not sock and love Cod alone 
in everything, even the least, then instantly know thai this Divine 
birth hath failed within thee. 



[22 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Thou mightest ask : Ought not a man to continue to practice penance? 
Is he not to blame if, on account of this Divine state, he ceases his peni- 
tential exercises? I answer that all such practices, including vigils, 
fasts, tears, sorrowful prayer, disciplines and hair shirts, are good, 
because the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the body is grown too 
strung for the soul, producing an unceasing conflict. Here in this life 
the flesh is bold and strong, for this earth is its native home, and the 
world around us is allied with this fleshly uprising. Food and drink 
and all the comforts of life are injurious to the spirit, which is in exile 
in this mortal existence. But in Heaven everything favors the spirit. 
There is its fatherland and its home, and Heaven's freedom from fleshly 
hindrance is granted the soul, if it would but direct its thoughts and 
its love to Heaven's inhabitants, who are its real friends and kindred. 
Here below in our exile we must weaken the fleshly instincts and appe- 
tites, lest they overpower the spirit. This we succeed in doing by pain- 
ful penances, putting a curb on the body's ease and comfort. Thereby 
the soul holds its own against the uprising of fleshly passions, and Anally 
reduces them to captivity. Only lay on the appetites the curb and the 
fetter of heavenly love, and thou shalt most quickly and most over- 
whelmingly subjugate them. Hence about nothing does God complain 
so severely as about our want of love. Love is like the hook on a fisher- 
man's line; the fish must take the hook or the fisherman can never catch 
him. After the hook is once in his mouth, the fish may swim about and 
even swim away from the shore, but the fisherman is sure to finally 
land him. And this I compare with love. Whoever is caught by love 
is held perfectly fast, and yet in a sweet captivity. Whoever has received 
the gift of Divine love, obtains from it more freedom from base natural 
tendencies than by practicing all possible penances and austerities. He 
it is that can most sweetly endure all misfortunes that happen to him or 
threaten to overwhelm him ; he is the one who most readily forgives all 
the injuries that can be inflicted on him. Nothing brings thee nearer to 
God ; nothing makes God so much thy own, as the sweet bond of love. 
Whosoever has found this way never seeks any other. Whosoever is 
caught by this hook is so entirely captive, that feet, hands, mouth, eyes 
and heart— everything that is himself — becomes God's own. Therefore, 
if ihou wouldst conquer these enemies, namely, corrupt natural tenden- 
cies, and render them harmless, love is thy best weapon. Therefore, it 
is written : "Love is strong as death, [its] jealousy hard as hell" (Cant. 
viii, 6). Death cats the soul from the body, but love cuts all things 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 123 

from the soul. When the soul loves, then whatsoever is not God or God- 
like, it suffers not to rest with it for an instant. Whosoever is enlisted 
in this warfare and treads this path, what he does or what he does not 
in active good works, or what he is not able to do, makes no difference — 
whether something or nothing, all is for love. The work of perfect love 
is more fruitful to a man's own soul and to the souls of all other men 
with whom he deals, and it brings more glory to God, than all other 
works, even if these be free from mortal sin, but are done in a state of 
weaker love. The mere quiet repose of a soul with perfect love, is of 
more worth to God and man than the active labors of another soul. 
Therefore, do thou but cleave fast and firm to this hook of Divine love 
and thou shalt be God's happy captive, and the more entirely captive, 
the more perfectly free shalt thou be. That this captivity and liberty 
may be vouchsafed us, we pray God the Father, and God the Son, and 
God the Holy Ghost. Amen. 



I- I The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



i^ntu Mm Sfjtnit After (&nb Biffmntlg 

Synopsis — Beginners long for God amid trials and temptations — They 
gain Him by meditation on Christ's passion — Proficients seek for 
Hi in in correcting the least defects — This is followed by the joy 
of jubilee with God — Perfect souls now experience a torment of 
thirst, for God seems lost and gone from them forever — These find 
God again by groping through darkness into their deeper spirit. 



SERMON FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. 

And on the last and great day of tbe festivity, Jesus stood and cried: If any 
man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. — John vii, 37. 

What is the thirst of which our Lord Jesus Christ here speaks? 
Nothing else but this : When the Holy Ghost enters a soul, that soul feels 
a fire of love; indeed, a very conflagration of love burns in that soul, 
causing a fiery thirst after God ; that is to say, an interior longing to 1 
possess Him. And it often happens that such a soul is mystified and 
cannot account for its condition, knowing only that it suffers interior 
emptiness and anguish, and that it loathes all created things. 

Three kinds of men experience this thirst, and each kind differently, 
one kind being beginners, the second those who are making some prog- 
ress, and the third are perfect, as far as may be in this life. King David 
says: "As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so my soul 
panteth after Thee, O God!" (Ps. xli, 1). When the hart is driven 
by the hounds through forests and over mountains, he is burnt with a 
consuming thirst and longs for water more than any other kind of 
animal. Now, beginners in the spiritual life, much more than any other 
class, are pursued by heavy trials and temptations, and they are like 
the hart hunted by hounds. When a man first turns away from the 
world and repents of his gross sinfulness, then the seven deadly sins 
assail him like so many horrible dogs, tormenting him more now, per- 
haps, ihan while he was yet a worldling; he was then tempted, indeed, 
but now he is fairly hunted by his vicious tendencies. Therefore, Solo- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 125 

mon teaches : "Son, when thou comcst to the service of God, stand in 
justice and fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation" (Ecclus. ii, L). 
But remember that, according to the violence of thy temptations, so 
should be the fire of thy thirst for God. 

Now, it often happens that the hounds overtake the hart, spring on his 
flanks and fasten their teeth in him, and he cannot shake them off; and 
then he runs under the outspreading branches of a tree, which strikes 
them and breaks their heads, and thus he is released from them. This 
shows what a devout man may do against his temptations. When they 
fasten on him, let him run with all his might under the tree of the 
cross, meditating piously on the passion and death of our dear Lord 
Jesus Christ. This it is that breaks the heads of his enemies; that 
is to say, enables him to overcome all temptations. And, again, it may 
happen that when the big hounds are shaken off, then the hart is 
attacked by little ones, which snap off little pieces of flesh; and if their 
attacks are neglected they may cause serious hurt; that is to say, a 
spiritual beginner, having overcome heavy and grievous temptations, 
must be watchful against trifling faults, for venial sins can mislead 
him to this side or that, distract his heart from God, hinder his devoted- 
ness to the interior life. These hindrances are such things as idle recre- 
ations, vain companionship, vanity in dress, human solace and comfort. 
Unless he carefully abstain from them, soon his devout way of living 
grows less earnest, and he loses grace and the spirit of recollection. It 
often happens that this petty warfare injures a soul, as far as perfection 
goes, more than did the heavier conflict; in the latter he was energetic 
in his resistance, for he knew that his enemies directly sought his life; 
whereas now he fancies he may disregard his lesser foes, because they 
allure him only to venial faults. Under cover of this delusion they 
assail him unawares, and we know that a disguised enemy is more dan- 
gerous than an open one, though the former be much weaker than the 
latter. So, therefore, let a man resist all kinds of temptations with 
equal courage and vigilence. And as the hart, the more he is hunted. 
the hotter grows his thirst, so the fiercer a man's temptations are, the 
more do all and each of them consume his heart with a burning thirst 
after the love of our Lord, in Whoin he shall at last find all truth, all 
joy, all comfort and all righteousness. 

When the hunters perceive that the hart is worn out, then the hunt 
grows tiresome to them, and they call off the hounds and feed and rest 
them, letting the hart roam at will till his strength is restored and he 



126 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

can afford them better sport. And thus does our blesed Lord deal with 
men during this period of trial; when He perceives that it is too much 
for them, He calls off the temptation, He gives the wearied soul a 
refreshing draught from His sacred heart, a taste of the sweetness of 
Divine things. All that is not God now seems very bitter to the soul, 
which imagines that the victory is finallv and forever won. But it is 
not so; this is nothing else than an interval of refreshment, granted in 
preparation for further temptations, all unexpectedly assailing a man, 
like hounds springing suddenly upon the neck of a hunted beast. 

But if the trials are now more severe than ever before, so is the soul 
stronger to resist them than in previous conflicts. Now, dear children, 
it is only because of God's faithful and unbounded love for us, that He 
allows this terrible ordeal; for it is plain that by so fearful a conflict a 
man is made glad to run to God, as the hunted beast runs to a fountain 
of water. A man's heart, by constantly struggling against his enemies, 
becomes tormented with yearnings to possess God's joy and grace in 
perfect truth and entire security. And all the thirstier he is, all the 
sweeter shall the waters of life be to him, even here below; and then 
also hereafter, as he drinks his till at the fountain head of all joy in the 
heart of his heavenly Father. Hence all his sufferings seem trifling, in 
comparison with the comfort he feels in bearing them for God's sake. 

And now that the hart has shaken off and distanced all the hounds, he 
comes to a clear stream of water; he joyfully plunges down into it and 
drinks all he wants and is fully refreshed. So it is with the soul at the 
w; iters of Divine consolation. When, without Lord's help, he has driven 
off his temptations and at last comes to God with all confidence, what 
shall he do but drink deep of God's love and joy? And then he is so 
filled with God, that in his happiness and peace he forgets himself and 
thinks that he can work great miracles; he is ready joyously to go 
through fire and water for God, and to face a thousand drawn swords ; 
he fears neither life nor death, neither pleasure nor pain. And so it 
would seem that he is intoxicated with God's love. 

This is the joy of jubilee. Sometimes such a one weeps for joy ; some- 
times he laughs, and again he sings. Men about him, whose only guide 
is natural reason, cannot understand all this, knowing nothing of the 
wonderful ways of the Holy Spirit with elect souls. Look at this 
strange conduct, they exclaim ; and they at once sit in judgment upon 
these chosen spirits and harshly condemn them. But meantime these 
enjoy unspeakable happiness; happiness comes to them from everything 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor lL'T 

that occurs. Do what you please to them, visit them with good or evil, 
it is all one. They rest wholly unconcerned, free and contented. What- 
ever happens without, the joy of God glows bright within them, a deli- 
cious thirst for God rules their souls without intermission, and is as 
constantly gratified. Some of them die of jubilation, their hearts quite 
overcome with love for our Lord. For, dear children, it is a mark of 
God's greatest work in their souls, that they can no longer endure its 
bliss and live in the body. Many a one of these favored men has yielded 
up with such entire abandonment to this wonderful visitation of God, 
that poor, weak human nature has given way and death has followed. 

Dear children, when our Lord sees men thus intoxicated with His 
spiritual gifts, He acts like a prudent father of a family, whose children, 
taking advantage of their father's being in bed asleep, go down into his 
cellar and drink to excess the good wine he has stored there. When the 
father wakes up and sees what has happened, he goes out and cut a good, 
strong switch, and he comes and gives his children a severe whipping, 
and afterwards he gives them nothing but water to drink till they are 
perfectly sobered again. So does God deal with His chosen ones. While 
they drink to excess the delights of His love, He is, as it were, asleep. 
But presently he punishes them by withdrawing the strong, sweet wine 
of His joy, for their want of moderation has hindered its benefiting them. 
And now comfort and peace, and the sweetest sense of God's presence are 
gone, and they are as sad as if they never had been joyous ; they are now 
as sadly sober as before they were wildly intoxicated. And when this 
state begins to darken upon them, they yearn mightily after our Lord ; 
but by this deprivation He leads them once more out of themselves, and 
frees them more than ever before from all captivity to created things. 
They are restored to their sober senses and reason; they are moderated 
and brought down to their own proper level; they learn just what they 
are and what they can do when left to themselves. A while ago and they 
were ready to suffer such things for God as anyone might name and 
away beyond that; and now they cannot undertake the least little thing 
for God without the greatest difficulty, and if you say a cross word to 
them they can scarcely bear it, even for God's sake. In this state of 
spiritual collapse, they see with perfect clearness just what little good 
they are capable of, while acting with their own forces and following 
their own lights. Another effect is this: The abstraction of '>iod"s 
sensible graces makes them so humble, and so takes away (heir self con 
ceit, that they grow amazingly kind and well-disposed toward all men. 



128 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

and in their outard activity they become very unassuming, all of which 
is quite peculiar to souls who have been chastised by God. 

And yet you must know that all that God has thus far accomplished 
in such souls, causing these stormy times there, has happened among the 
lowest spiritual powers. My dear children, God's chosen dwelling is 
not there, nor will lie there tarry long, for it is all too narrow a place for 
Him if He would do a perfect work. His proper place is only in the 
superior part of the soul, both to dwell and to work. There alone does 
He find H is i mage and likeness. See Him there and nowhere else, if thou 
wouldst surely find Him. 

And there it is that in all truth, and very quickly, too, an earnest 
soul finds what it has been seeking with so much unrest. There, in a 
sort of rapturous ecstasy, the soul's very self is lifted above all its 
powers into a spiritual wilderness quite impossible to describe, in whose 
hidden obscurity it discovers the unspeakable Good, and is absorbed in 
the Divine unity, so completely as to lose all sense of diversity; multi- 
plicity is lost in unity. Children, when these men return to themselves, 
they find that God has granted them a most joyous knowledge of diver- 
sity, a wisdom otherwise unknown in this life, and born only in souls who 
have been thus absorbed in the Divine unity. All of the articles of holy 
faith now shine clear and distinct one from another. Bright light beams 
into the soul about the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, one 
true and eternal God. No one knows the Divine Trinity better than 
these souls, taught by God's Divine unity. Such is this indescribable 
darkness, which is yet God's essential light; such is this desert waste 
wherein no man finds road or path, for it is traversed in a Divinely 
supernatural manner. 

This obscurity is, therefore, in reality a light ; but because it is essen- 
tially superior to the nature of the human intelligence it is darkness to 
it. It is a desert because it is naturally inaccessible to us, and its paths 
are ways unknown to our nature. Into the midst of this state is the 
spirit of a man led by God, in a manner wholly incapable of his compre- 
hension. There he drinks deep of the waters of life flowing from the 
well-spring of the very Deity. Heretofore the waters were bitter and 
tepid, for they were in the common, open stream ; now, like the waters 
of any bubbling spring, they are sweet and cold. O how sweet are the 
waters drunk from the fountainhead of God! Into those waters the 
soul longs to cast itself, to be wholly filled with them and to be immersed 
in them. But it finds that this is a boon not to be granted in this life. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 129 

Meanwhile the soul is absorbed in God, as a summer shower sinks into 
the bosom of the earth. 

JSTow, dear children, suppose a man arrived at this state; in ease he 
allows his lower spiritual faculties to be idle and useless, then the 
higher life will profit him nothing. He must use his ordinary faculties 
according to their nature; otherwise the Spirit of God will depart from 
him, resulting in the return of the reign of pride, ill-regulated liberty, 
and intellectual self-conceit. Let such a man continually humble him- 
self in subjection to the will of God, practice entire detachment from 
created things, hush all sounds of earth from within and without, and, 
in fact, abound in all the virtues of the ordinary Christian. Then will 
God continue His intimate union with him and transform him more and 
more into a Godlike man. 

Children, behold in what marvelous ways God leads souls, and how 
strange a play he makes with them ! First, He introduces Himself into 
their inner powers, so that He gradually absorbs them and they Him, 
and then they cannot restrain themselves and fall into singular and 
foolish ways. After that He draws them deeper into Himself and 
imparts His very Deity, quite differently from His former way, and this 
sets them rightly ordered in all things. And now the soul may truly 
say, in the words of the Canticle: "He brought me into the cellar of 
wine, He set in order charity in me" (Cant, ii, 4). He hath ordered 
all things well in the soul's life, leading it across a wonderful desert 
deep into its own self, showing it there what surpasses all sense and all 
reason, and what is quite above human experience, because it is a ver- 
itable foretaste of life eternal. Behold, dear children, how the gentle, 
kindly goodness of God is able so to hide His dealings with His chosen 
ones that, as He makes them perfect, He performs a most marvelous 
work. His aim is always to draw us to union with Himself in a holy and 
happy life. He would have us all athirst after His everlasting peace 
and love, calling to us with a loud, resounding voice: "If any man 
thirst, let him come to Me and drink" living water. He Himself, as it 
were, thirsts to find a true thirst in our souls, which ne quenches by 
filling us with such sweet and heavenly fullness, that out of us "shall 
flow rivers of living water" (John vii, 37) unto life eternal. It is as 
when we are nourished with bodily food ; it passes from the stomach into 
every member of the body, giving strength to all. So docs the soul drink 
a Divine nourishment in this interior communication with Go<l. which 
spreads Divine love everywhere throughout our faculties, making our 



130 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



works, our life and our very existence, rightly ordered in God and all 
devoted to the welfare of our fellow-men. In such wise it is, that from 
the interior operation of God our outward life is well ordered. Thus 
our labors blossom and bear great fruit in God's own way, making for 
eternal happiness. To attain to this blessed end may God mercifully 
grant us His help. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 131 



3% 3Fttn> Porrijejs of % fool of %altttg 

Synopsis — The first is humility — The second is recollection of spirit, 
especially needful for active spirits — The third is repentance deep 
and true — The fourth is joyous voluntary poverty, forming a 
noble and elevated character — The fifth is referring all gifts of 
God back to the giver, being opposed to spiritual gluttony — The 
waters of the pool of healing are the most Precious Blood of 
Christ. 



SERMON FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. 

After these things there was a festival day of the Jews, and Jesus went up to 
Jerusalem. — John v, 1. 

This part of the Holy Gospel tells us that Jesus went to a festival at 
Jerusalem, and that He visited a pool of healing there enclosed by five 
porches. "In these lay a great multitude of sick, of blind, of lame, 
of withered, w r aiting for the moving of the water. And an angel of the 
Lord descended at certain times into the pond, and the water was moved. 
And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water, 
was made whole, of whatsoever infirmitv he lay under." Our Redeemer 
there saw a man lying on a mattress who had been sick for thirty-eight 
years. Moved with pity, He said to him : "Wilt thou be made whole?" 
The infirm man answered : "Sir, I have no man, when the water is 
troubled, to put me into the pond; for, whilst I am coming, another 
goeth down before me." Then said our dear Lord to him : "Arise, take 
up thy bed, and walk !" And immediately the man was made whole, and 
he took up his bed and walked, not knowing who it was that had healed 
him. But "Afterwards Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith to 
him : Behold, thou art made whole ! Sin no more, lest some w r orse thing 
happen to thee." 

The pool of healing, what is it but the sweet and noble person of our 
beloved Lord Jesus Christ Himself? And the health-giving water, is the 
adorable and most precious blood of the eternal Son of God, tine God 
and true Man, Who has washed and cleansed us in thai bath of love, 



13l» The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



and Who, out of His own tender love, will thus wash and cleanse all men 
who come to Him with real sorrow for their sinful lives, together with 
a sincere resolve to be better for the future. The sick who lay around 
this healing pool in such great numbers, waiting for the angel to come 
down and stir the waters, may be called the whole human race, who, 
before our Lord's coming, lay in captivity under the law of the Old Tes- 
tament while they lived, and after death waited in limbo for the moving 
of the waters; that is, till our Lord's precious blood was poured out at 
His blessed and bitter death, giving them eternal health and salvation. 
And so also in these last days, which are the time of salvation, no man 
can ever be healed and saved except by the adorable and precious blood 
of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

And you should know, too, that all sick souls that will not pass 
through our Lord's pool of healing will, without doubt, perish everlast- 
ingly. But there are yet other souls who feel the stirring of these waters 
only outwardly; they are influenced by the admonitions of their fellow- 
men, threatening them with the punishments of hell, or painful visita- 
tions of Providence afflicting soul or body ; or. again, they are moved by 
the Word of God preached to them. All such come, indeed, into these 
healing waters, but only half-heartedly. And these are much to be 
pitied ; for, although they are made whole of their sinfulness, yet thej 
hold off as much as they dare from true and entire conversion to God. 
Let us pity them, I say, for they live and die but half-cleansed, and are 
finally cast into the bitter pains of purgatory, there to remain till they 
are entirely purified. 

The pool of healing had fi\* porches, before which lay a great number 
of infirm persons, each and all waiting to be first in the waters as the 
angel stirred them, and thereby to be healed. This means the proud, the 
wrathful, the vengeful, the covetous and the unchaste — all these, let us 
well remember it — are w r ashed in the blood of Jesus and are made whole 
if they will but accept the cleansing. 

We may also consider the five porches as representing our Lord's five 
holy wounds, by the overflow of Whose precious blood, we are healed 
and saved from the mortal sickness of sin. Yet another meaning may 
be given, for the five porches are like the five virtues of very great 
prominence in the Christian's life, all needed for every soul, but this one 
or that especially necessary to each, according to his peculiar spiritual 
sickness. 

Humility is the first — humility, deep and unfeigned. By this a man 
rates himself as worthless ; bows himself down beneath the hand of God 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 133 

and of every creature ; meekly accepts all adversity and prosperity, sor- 
row and joy, no matter from what source it comes, as allotted him by 
God alone; is ever in fear and shame before the face of God; never 
repining. 

The second portico of the pool of healing, is diligent attention to the 
interior life — recollection of spirit. O, how necessary is this virtue to 
many simple, well-meaning men! They do not wait for God's signal, 
but, wholly self-guided, they rush outwards to the showiest kind of teach- 
ing, preaching and the like, little realizing that they are influenced only 
by the human motive of sensible and natural satisfaction. St. Augus- 
tine tells us, that it sometimes happens that men who thus abandon a 
recollected life and unguardmgly mingle with the joys of creatures, 
never more return. Be assured, dear children, that whoever would 
engage in external works should keep a careful watch over his interior, 
earnestly inspecting his motives. Laboring externally with this safe- 
guard, he ever preserves peace and security both within and without. 
Imprudent activity breeds unrest, the soul being guided by the attrac- 
tions of sensible joy and the casual happenings of life, instead of God's 
interior leadings and admonitions. 

The third portico is repentence for sin, deep and true. It is turning 
away in all sincerity from everything that is not God, or that does not 
come from God. The very marrow of true contrition consists in this — 
that a sinner returns absolutely to God with all that he is inwardly 
and outwardly. That a man is wholly absorbed in trustfulness of God's 
goodness, that he ardently longs to possess Him and Him only, that he 
is resolutely determined to cleave to Him forever in all love, that he has 
the purpose clear and distinct to do God's will alone to the utmost of 
his power : My dear children, this is what repentance essentially is. Who- 
soever has it in that spirit, his sins are without any doubt forgiven him 
wholly, and the deeper the intensity of his earnestness, so much the 
more perfectly is he cleansed. 

The fourth portico is a joyous voluntary poverty. You know, chil- 
dren, that there is a poverty arising from outward conditions, and an 
interior, that is to say, a real and true poverty. To outward poverty 
all men are not called ; but to interior poverty all are called who would 
be true friends of God. By this virtue God alone is our riches ; in our 
inmost heart we value Him and Him only. Whatever else we may have, 
is possessed only because we are sure He wills us to have it, and it is held 
in sincere poverty of spirit. St. Paul tells us of this poverty : "As hav- 



134 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



ing nothing and possessing all things" (II Cor. vi, 10). And we must 
understand this to mean, that we do not wish to possess anything in this 
life thai God would have us be without; that we yield up to Him quickly 
and gladly our goods and our friends and our honor, our very body and 
soul, if He so wills it, for His love and glory. This should be our mind 
every hour of our lives, even though we have to overcome the resistance 
of mean, cowardly human nature; for this is essentially the poverty 
required of all good men. And this forms a noble character — one set at 
liberty from all attachment to creatures, and elevated in spirit above the 
vicissitudes of life, whether of joy or sorrow, ever ready to give up all 
earthly things as God wills it. If such a one were monarch of a king- 
dom, he would in spirit be no different from a literally poverty-stricken 
man, nor would his royal riches in the least degree hinder his soul from 
profiting fully by any of God's graces. Being incapable of resting for 
peace and joy upon perishable things, he constantly stands in spirit 
before God like a beggar asking for an alms from a kind, loving Father ; 
and that alms, the only gift that can ever satisfy him, is nothing less 
and nothing else than God Himself. It is true that when some temporal 
gain or loss happens, such men are momentarily glad or sorrowful; but 
this is only felt in the lower part of the soul, is not yielded to, and is 
followed instanth by an elevation of the spirit to God. 

The fifth portico is giving back to God the glory of all His gifts, a 
steadfast reference of all graces and favors to the Divine origin from 
which they have flowed forth. Many men, when God bestows special 
spiritual favors on them, regenerating them into His wonderful light, 
begin to felicitate themselves. They riot in spiritual gluttony; they 
never think of humbly attributing their good fortune to its only origin, 
but appropriate God's graces to themselves in a feeling of personal 
ownership. And this is very perilous to their souls. We should so 
steadfastly look to God alone in all happenings, that we shall scarcely 
perceive the gifts which he is showering upon us. Consider a man gaz- 
ing at something through a narrow opening in a wall; if he fixes his 
attention wholly upon the object he is inspecting, the wall serves him 
well; but if he begins to examine the wall itself, asking how thick or 
thin it may be, then the wall is a hindrance to him. It is thus with 
the soul and God's gifts, little or great. Rest thy mind on them, study 
how noble and beautiful they are, indulge recklessly in all their joys, 
and then art thou hindered from possessing God, Who alone is to be 
praised and glorified in His graces. Thou oughtest instantly to refer 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 135 

back to God all the favors He bestows on thee, sinking thyself deep into 
the glorious depths of Divine love, from which they all have come forth. 

Children, many infirm men lay in the porticos enclosing the pool of 
healing, and whichever one of them first entered the waters after the 
angel stirred them, was made whole. And what meaning has this stir- 
ring of the waters? Nothing less than the descent of the Holy Spirit 
into a man's soul, stirring up with a powerful movement of grace his 
whole interior life. Thereby is he so totally transformed, that things 
which once he loved have now become absolutely tasteless to him. Once 
he fairly dreaded and strenuously avoided what now he covets with all 
his heart — to be stripped of all things and to live like a banished man ; 
to retire into inner silence; to be humiliated and to be cast off by all 
men. Such things become sweetest joys to him, when God's Spirit stirs 
the deep waters of his soul. All this happens to the sick man ; that is to 
say, the man whose spiritual powers have been absorbed in the outward 
things of life ; these faculties of his soul are now washed and completely 
cleansed in the adorable and precious blood of Jesus Christ. Only by 
this deep searching and cleansing process can he be cured of all his soul's 
ailments, as it is written : "As many as touched Him were made whole" 
(Mark vi, 56). 

And now, dear children, sometimes when our beloved Saviour has cured 
a sick soul it does not know it, and it may even go on during its whole 
life hardly aware of it. But this is permitted all for the best ; for our 
Lord knows full well, that if that soul thought itself all cured and safe 
and sound, it would quickly yield to self-complacency. It is, therefore, 
only out of special affection that He allows it to remain in ignorance of 
its happy condition, being all its days securely fixed in holy fear and 
anguish of spirit, and quite humiliated in God's sight. Such a soul is 
perfectly safeguarded against offending God, even if the whole world 
were offered it, and this is a high degree of holiness. Rather than arouse 
the wrath of God by sinning, such a soul would gladly and joyfully be 
put to death. And, indeed, it dies daily for God's sake within its inmost 
self, being entirely self-abandoned to His blessed will, and that in the 
darkness of a holy ignorance of what may be its standing with Him. 
One only purpose actuates such a soul: To be bound captive to God's 
ana in their outward activity they become very unassuming, all of which 
will in time and in eternity, and without the least shadow of contradic- 
tion on its part. 

And what is the termination of this devout resignation to a state of 
ignorance of God's love or hatred? It is this : When, at last, the heav- 



136 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

enly Father comes to lead that soul to its eternal home, He dispels all 
ignorance and darkness and gives it a foretaste of the everlasting joys 
of Paradise. And such a well-tried soul dies full of joy and confidence; 
and, having been so loyal to God during the long years of darkness and 
desolation of spirit, it is led instantly and without any interval of 
purgatory into His Divine embrace. This is what is meant by the 
words of Scripture: "And I heard another voice from Heaven, saying 
to me write : Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord" ( Apoc. xiv, 13) . 
It is related in the Gospel that our Lord found a man at the pool of 
healing who had been sick thirty-eight years. Mark well that this 
sickness, however long continued, was not unto death, but that the glory 
of God might be manifested. O, dear children, may God grant us to 
learn this lesson well — the example of a man who, because for thirty- 
eight years he so patiently waited on God, was at last rewarded. God 
Himself came to him, made him sound and well, bade him take up his 
bed and walk. This teaching, dear children, is a sharp admonition to 
many spiritual men of our day. I refer to those who have, indeed, 
repented of their sins and entered on a pious life, but who say that all 
is lost if it happens that our Lord gives them no extraordinary graces; 
Ihey act as if they thought God had treated them unjustly. They are 
by no means content humbly to retire into themselves and patiently to 
wait on the Divine will. O, how few there are who possess that beau- 
tiful virtue! How few who sweetly and in perfect good-will give them- 
selves up entirely to God's blessed guidance. Such souls little know 
bow pleasing they are in His sight, and therein they are very fortunate. 
May God teach us how noble and profitable a thing it is to surrender 
oneself captive to His will, never for a moment wishing to be released 
from His blessed bonds of ignorance and darkness, until His own 
appointed time. May God grant us this grace, giving us steadfast confi- 
dence and courageous long-suffering under His guidance, even amid mis- 
givings and anguish of heart. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 137 



fHarka of a ®whj (RtmrnxUb §>rml 

Synopsis — As Israel of old fell away from God, so do many Christians 
now — This often happens from imperfect conversion to a devout 
life — First mark of a true conversion, low opinion of self; second, 
brotherly love; third, bearing wrongs patiently; fourth, compas- 
sionate kindness; fifth, humble subjection to others; sixth, alac- 
rity and exactness in well doing; seventh, strict abstemiousness ; 
eighth, rigid observance of the rules of chastity. 



SERMON FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. 

Return, O Israel, to the Lord thy God. — Osee xiv, 2. 

We read in this day's Gospel, that Jesus went up into a ship, and that 
His disciples followed Him. So should all Christians do ; repenting of 
their sins, they should follow Christ, according to the teaching of the 
prophet : "Return, O Israel, to the Lord thy God !" 

Out of all the races of the world our Lord chose one, upon which He 
bestowed many favors, covenanting to give them yet more, if they 
would turn to Him and would not follow the ways of other people who, 
in willful blindness of heart, lived only to gratify their sensual passions, 
led astray by their love of the vanities of the world, and by the deceits of 
the evil one. God visibly guided His own people by His servants and 
prophets, giving them His holy commandments. He showed forth His 
Infinite power by fighting for them against their enemies. He lavished 
His loving kindness upon them, by bestowing innumerable benefits on 
them, and promised to continue to favor them, if they would but turn to 
Him and love Him and keep His commandments. He bade them never 
forget the day on which He had delivered them from bondage and toil, 
and that they should set themselves with all diligence and earnestness 
to observe His law. But this people were stiff necked, shortsighted and 
ungrateful. They would not obey the precepts God gave them by His 
servants, but, on the contrary, showed themselves self-willed, rebellious 
and light-minded. Therefore, our Lord punished them; many of them 



138 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



He caused to be put to death, and He permitted all of them to die in the 
wilderness. To their children He continued to send His messengers, 
Baying: 0, my chosen people, return to Me and be converted with all 
your hear! ; wander not off in the devious ways of sin, but follow after 
Me, returning from the paths of Egyptian darkness and of wickedness 
and of damnation, and 1 will bring you into the land of promise and will 
give yon all good things there. 

These events happened under the Old Testament and in very ancient 
times and amid many wonders. But therein are to be found various 
signs of what was to happen after the incarnation of the Son of God, 
and even in our own days; for God uses the self-same words to cause 
us to turn to Him and to do so with all earnestness, giving us many 
reasons, warnings, instructions and inducements; leading us, if we will 
but follow, with signs and wonders and mighty power, exhorting us to 
depart out of the Egypt of this world and out of the bondage of Pharaoh, 
its king. All this does God do, both secretly in our souls and openly 
before our eyes, in order to work our conversion to Him. Would that 
we received it with thankfulness and were sincerely converted. But it 
is with us as it was of old with the people of Israel. We follow God in 
body and we remain in Egypt in our heart's desires. We all march after 
the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, but our joy is in the comforts of 
the world and the pleasures of the flesh. We are very earnest about 
external religious practices, about how to be religiously dressed, when to 
sing and when to be silent, when to bow down and to genuflect; if all 
this be exactly observed we are sure that we are delivered out of Egypt. 
Not so, my dear children, not so; this is only the pillar of cloud and of 
fire; these observances, if they lack this interior meaning, are but the 
leaves of the fig tree, and not the fruit that can nourish our souls and 
make them a fit offering to God. A man who thus acts is like the tree 
that God cursed and condemned to eternal barrenness. O, how often 
have you been taught that you must not trust to the appearances and 
shadows of religion ! These things are good, and even punctilious prac- 
tice of them is necessary for beginners in the spiritual life ; but, consid- 
ered apart from the essence and truth of holiness, for the sake of which 
they are instituted, they avail nothing. Unless a man is on his guard he 
will stick fast in these purely external practices, and in his heart will 
remain as wicked and corrupt as those who have not even this appear- 
a nee of virtue ; and, finally, he will fall into yet worse vices, sinking back 
into the Egypt of this world. Indeed, it would have been better to have 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 139 



remained in undisguised worldliness and sin, for the final condemnation 
of these external Christians will be all the greater, because their sins 
have the added guilt of being done under the garb of holiness, and in the 
outward profession of a sacred state of life. 

Children, I know of nothing more necessary than that beginners, 
while taking their first steps in the spiritual life, should be carefully 
instructed in what is most essentially required; namely, that, being 
practiced in sound and useful external devotions, they should by no 
means stop at these, which, if emptied of their true meaning, are of 
little help, and are at best only given us as a good preparation for a 
perfect life. If this wisdom is implanted in youthful souls, quick and 
ardent for perfection, many of them will doubtless earnestly resolve to 
go forward to better things. But, alas and alas! How sad it is to see 
those who began witb such fervor of spirit that they were once very 
guarded in their choice of company, finalty absorbed in the society of 
worldlings! At first they could hardly bear to listen to a frivolous 
word, and now they are never done with conversation about profane 
things, early and late engaged in silly speech and foolish disputes. Once 
they longed for quiet retirement and were glad to follow their pious 
exercises undisturbed, and now the more distracting occupations they 
can have the better they are pleased. O, this and the like of this is all 
a plain sign, that such souls are held in captivity by their fleshly pas- 
sions, and, as far as their hearts' desires are concerned, are wandering 
backward into Egyptian darkness. Children, for the love of Christ, let 
each one of you be on his guard. Once you have begun a good course, do 
not stop short ; all may be lost again if you are not extremely vigilant ; 
our inconstancy is beyond belief. 

Consider how some fall away from a state so perfect that at first they 
are scandalized by an idle word ; yet no long time afterwards the}' feel 
not a qualm of conscience for much flippant and even malicious speech, 
greatly to the injury of others, making nothing of the guilt of such 
conduct. We meet with men who in the beginning patiently endured 
opposition and contradiction, prepared, if need be and in spite of the 
very devil, to suffer martyrdom itself. And behold them now, after 
living for a while with even very pious people ! You never saw or heard 
of men so perverse, self-willed and obstinate. 

Others, again, in their first fervor are hot and eager for austerities; 
all the hard mortifications they see around them are little and trilling 
to them. But wait a while, and you find that they cannot bring them- 



14<> The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

si Ives to perform such moderate acts of self-denial as are common to all 
Christians. And they incessantly complain, if their demands for ease 
and comfort are not instantly complied with, making themselves in every 
\s av burdensome to others, no matter how much is done for them. 

Very different are those devout, interior men, who, though they must 
struggle hard to make a beginning, and can only move forward slowly 
and step by step, yet resolutely keep on until they become an edifying 
example to all others, while the overeager spirits, who at first promised 
so much, have finally come to nothing. Let us be very regardful of our 
want of steadfastness, for we know not what the future has in store 
for us. 

And now, dear children, I will tell you how one may know whether 
or not he has been truly converted to God, and has really renounced the 
evil one and all his works and pomps. When we were baptized we made 
our vows to God and holy Church never to commit sin, and to practice all. 
Christian virtue. But we were afterwards led astray by the evil spirit 
and fell into sin, losing thereby the grace of God conferred on us in bap- 
tism. And then God, in His unspeakable mercy, called us back to His 
friendship, and on our repentance He restored all His favors. But now 
many allow themselves to be again deceived by the evil one, for he cun- 
ningly endeavors to make the soul's contrition for all past sins more 
apparent than real. Let us consider this matter attentively, so that we 
may the better avoid such a misfortune. 

A truly converted Christian stands humbly persuaded of his own 
nothingness, and to be so regarded by everyone is his only desire. He 
would by no means hold authority over anybody, but in all lowliness of 
heart he is pleased to be subjected to others, and glad to do their will, 
whosoever they may be. He despises himself, regards himself as a 
thief, chooses the least and lowest of everything, is readily guided by 
others, and makes the best of whatever happens to him. Thus, standing 
toward men iu all gentleness and toward God in all fearfulness, he 
accepts with thanksgiving all that is commanded him or advised him, or 
even wished. The contrary is the case with those who are but superfi- 
cially converted. They stand high in their own opinion, and they set a 
high value on their words and works. To be subjected to others is to 
them a disgraceful thing, and they will not suffer the rule of a superior. 
They volunteer instructing others with a flood of talk, discoursing boast- 
fully of high spirituality. And all this they do with a show of holy 
humility, lest their real condition should be suspected. If you pay them 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 141 

no regard they are immediately up in arms against you, and if you differ 
with them they defend themselves vigorously. They are rash, boastful 
and quarrelsome. All these are under the hand of the enemy of souls. 

How different are the truly converted, who are ever affectionate to 
their neighbors, praising them with all brotherly love as far as truth will 
allow, rejoicing in their prosperity, aiding them in adversity, and over- 
flowing with pity for all in distress — quite unlike the falsely converted, 
who are offensive to others, envious of their welfare and even of their 
piety, given to railing and contention, vindictive, contemptuous, self- 
assertive. 

Rightly converted men patiently bear oppression and injustice, as 
trials permitted by God for their spiritual benefit. With peaceful hearts 
they suffer on, always gentle in speech, gladly and easily reconciled to 
those who have done them injury. Half -converted souls, on the con- 
trary, blaze up quickly with anger, are sorry at the good fortune of 
others, are backbiters, double-dealers and gossipers; they murmur 
against their superiors; they complain about their inferiors. 

The truly converted are ever kind and compassionate, ready-handed to 
give and to help ; for they make little of earthly goods, even rejoicing 
in poverty and humiliations, for which they return unfeigned thanks to 
God, to Whom alone they look for their daily support. Their aim is to 
be delivered from temporal things and the care of them, so they may be 
wholly absorbed in eternal things. The falsely converted are afire with 
love for the good things of this life, ever seeking after personal con- 
venience and pleasure. They misuse their time, deceiving their supe- 
riors if they can, and if that be not possible, then acting in defiance of 
them. They must be well praised for all they do and amply rewarded ; 
for if they are made little of they are like men possessed, and secretly 
or openly they set about doing all the harm they can. For every work 
of religion they expect temporal gain. They often practice gross deceit 
to procure worldly honors. 

Men who are right-hearted, diligently devote all their time to doing 
good to their neighbor or advancing God's honor, finding much spiritual 
joy in such a life. They are very careful to do everything exactly right, 
trusting with all their hearts for God's blessing on their labors. And 
the wrong-hearted are ever slothful to do good and inclined to evil, 
bitter-minded in dealing with others, petty, deceitful — as becomes bar- 
ren-hearted men. 

The right-hearted are ever temperate and self-restrained in minister- 
ing to their natural wants, and much averse to all superfluity. If they 



1 \'-l The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

experience excessive craving for anything, it is precisely that thing that 
i hey deny themselves. They keep themselves in good discipline by meager 
diet, and with all precaution they guard against excess in drink. On 
the < mil raryj the evil-inclined are given to excess in eating and drinking, 
are overindulgent to themselves and thankless to God. Severe sickness 
often results from their shameless conduct in this respect. After their 
banquets they give themselves up to silly talk and mirth, jokes and idle 
stories; or they are inclined to quarrel; they are easily enraged, and 
when angered they shout and roar like jackasses; or, again, they are 
totally stupefied and can only lie down and sleep, not able to say so much 
as a Pater Xoster. All this comes from heavy drinking and glutton- 
ous feeding. Hence the extreme care taken by all holy men against over- 
eating and drinking, in order to safeguard themselves and their disciples 
against such wickedness. But, alas, it has now come to such a pass that 
even some clergymen — and this is most of all to be regretted — cannot 
and will not be content with what suffices even rich worldlings. The 
men who thus behave are spiritually blinded and are seldom able to 
resist the temptations of the devil, who leads them, before they are aware 
of it, into foul impurity, smirching their souls with unclean thoughts and 
desires. Finally, they fall into detestible sins, calling down on their 
heads God's maledictions beyond anything they can appreciate. These 
wilful impurities unfit them for any good and useful works, and make 
them offensive to all devout people. And now, blinded by their passion- 
ate desires, they rush into low company and give themselves up to vice 
and the pleasures of the table. Their language is flippant, their minds 
totally averted from any pious practice; they no sooner begin any exer- 
cise of devotion than they are filled with the evil memories of their sins, 
the devil playing the ape in their thoughts and acting over again the 
orgies of their bad companionship, causing them to laugh aloud when 
they should be absorbed in penitential thoughts. 

How different are men who have been truly converted! They stand 
before God and His angels so chaste and so timid and cautious, that they 
had rather suffer death itself than wilfully harbor a single unchaste 
thought. They keep so close a watch over their hearts, senses and mem- 
bers, that they hardly presume to look even upon themselves, being 
greatly distrustful of their own virtue. They chastise their bodies with 
fasts and vigils and hard labors; they constantly lift their souls to God, 
placing their confidence in Him alone — all to safeguard holy chastity. 
Those, on the contrary, who are only seemingly converted, care little 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 143 

whether or not they are thinking of impure things. So, then, it happens 
often enough that gross, sensual emotions of mind and body run riot in 
them. They are brought to the very gate of hell ; nay, they overstep the 
limits of mere temptation and would fall heart and soul and body into 
open carnal wickedness, if they had but the means of doing so. Such is 
the end of their self-love; such the end of their tendency to gratify their 
love of bodily ease. Some of these men fall into such a besotted state 
of mind, that they are ready even to hate God because He has forbidden 
them the lusts of the flesh. They are so blinded by their vicious habits, 
that they would be glad if He had no knowledge of their sins and no 
power to punish them, which is equivalent to wishing that God did not 
exist. 

O, dear children, consider earnestly how you stand; bear in mind 
what dangers surround us all. Let none of you be self-trustful ; let each 
and all stand in holy fear. No matter how good you may now seem to 
be, by no means rely on that. And, on the other hand, no matter how 
sadly you may before this have fallen and gone astray from virtue, take 
courage and come back to God, this time by a true conversion. As long 
as God spares your life His favor is always ready to be bestowed. God 
help us all to that happiness ! Amen. 



144 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



3Uj? $flk? nf Qlijrtat is tlj? haul's utyougfjt of (&ab 

Synopsis — The inner man is the yoke upon the outer man — The soul 
is driven inward by all of God's creatures — Yet any of them may 
be made a hindrance — At least once a day we should seek God's 
light yoke by holy thoughts — Example of an ancient hermit — 
Christ's burden is the misery of this life — Sorrow is turned into 
joy by suhmissiveness to God's will. 



SERMON FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. 

My yoke is sweet and My burden is light. — Matt, xi, 30. 

It is eternal truth itself — our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ — who 
utters these words. And yet men contradict Him, men who live accord- 
ing to mere matter; these by act and word affirm that God's yoke is 
bitter and his burden is heavy. But the right is with God. 

Anything that crushes a man and drags him down is a burden. Now, 
we understand by the word yoke, as here used, the inner man ; and by 
the word burden, the outer man. The inner man has come from God, 
and he is a noble being, made after God's image and likeness. And as 
he comes from God, so is he invited and urgently called back to God, so 
that, being drawn into the Divine life, he may become partaker of all 
good. The blessedness that belongs to God by nature the soul may 
hereby obtain by grace. Now, dear children, the treasures that God has 
hidden in the depths of our souls, whosoever discovers them and contem- 
plates them becomes, indeed, a happy man. And, although a man may 
allow his spiritual insight to be for a time diverted from Divine things, 
yet he is incessantly drawn again to consider God's interior presence; he 
can never otherwise be at rest. The whole universe is not enough to 
content him. All outward things only turn him back into his inner 
life, whether he perceives it or not; for there is God, his final end and 
the only purpose of his existence. As all material things rest on their 
proper basis, as a stone on the earth ; or as they rise upward into their 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 145 

proper element, as fire into the air ; so does a devout soul rest upon God 
and rise into God as its only salvation. 

Now, to what men is this yoke sweet and light, as they accept it and 
bear it along? Surely only to those whose thoughts are turned inward 
in search of God, and quite turned away from all created things. Chil- 
dren, our souls ever stand on the boundary line between time and 
eternity. If we turn toward time, we shall without doubt forget eternity, 
and soon be led far away from the things of God. Whatever we see from 
a distance looks small ; whatever we see close at hand looks large, for 
there is but little intervening space. Thus the sun is many times larger 
than the earth, but if reflected in a cup of clear water on a summer's, 
midday it seems no bigger than a little bean, and any little object that 
should come between the sun and that mirror, would be large enough to 
entirely take away the image of the great luminary. So it is with a 
man's soul. No matter how trifling may be the earthly image he places 
in the depths of his soul, it is enough to interfere with God's light shin- 
ing there; the infinite good that God is may easily be hindered from 
entering and possessing the soul of man. And this is equally true when 
it happens that the image in the soul is not an evil and a little thing, 
but a great and really good thing; it may hinder the entrance of God, 
Who is without any image or intermediary whatsoever. Know, there- 
fore, for a certainty, that in whatever soul the infinitely good God shall 
be mirrored, it must be totally freed and emptied of all images ; if the soul 
reflects a single created thing, that is enough to exclude the reflection of 
God. All souls who have not established in their very depths this free- 
dom from creatures, who have not uncovered and laid bare before God 
their innermost recesses, are as yet only scullions in the Divine service, 
and to them God's yoke is bitter. And, says Origen, the man who has 
not looked into the deeper depths of his being has a plain sign, that as 
yet he has not tasted of the eternal sweetness of God. 

Let it be well understood, therefore, my dear children, that at least 
once in the day we should turn inwards with all possible recollected- 
ness; for if we do not even that much for the interior life, we are 
without doubt unworthy the name of Christians. And all who cleanse 
the mirror of their souls perfectly clear of the images of created things, 
so that God may pour in the sunlight of His divinity quite unobstructed, 
to them His yoke is sweet beyond all other possible sweetness. To such 
souls whatsoever is not God is tasteless ; yea, it is bitter and loathsome 
to the taste, whether it be within them or come from without, and the 



140 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

very remembrance of the sweetness of creatures is bitter as gall. The 
sweet ness of God enters so deep,thatit seems to have become the marrow 
in the bones and the blood in the veins of the truly converted man. 
God's eternal image expels completely from the soul every other image 
whatsoever. 

But let us ask, children, why it is that the things amid which we live 
here below hinder us spiritually? It is because thou clothest thyself 
with them as if with thy own proper personal qualities; for if thy mind 
were in very truth unencumbered with their images, thou mightest be 
master of a kingdom and suffer no spiritual harm. Be but free from all 
images, and all sense of ownership of creatures, and all is well with thee. 
What thou needest, thou mayst in humility and in fear of God without 
doubt possess and use, and God is thereby pleased. If thou fallest short 
of thy needful substance, trust God confidently, for He will provide for 
thee, even, if necessary, by means of His dumb creatures; He no more 
forsakes His children than He gives up His own eternal life. 

There was once an ancient hermit, whose soul was so free that no 
created thing encumbered his thoughts. Now, it happened that a cer- 
tain man knocked at the door of his cell, and when the hermit opened it 
and went out to him, the man asked him to give him a certain object in- 
side the cell, and the hermit turned and entered to do so. But when he 
would seek for it he found he had, meantime, forgotten what it was. 
After a while the man knocked at the door again, and then the holy 
hermit came out, and bade him go inside himself and take what he 
wanted : ''For," said he, "my dear son, I cannot retain in my mind what 
it is thou dost want me to give thee, for I am entirely stripped of all 
thoughts of created things." 

Children, in such imageless souls, the light of God shines without hin- 
drance. They are elevated in spirit and set at liberty from creatures, 
even detached from their own selves, and their wills in all joy and sor- 
row, in all work and rest, are entirely united to God. They are most 
joyfully enveloped by God's will, as if they were caught in a net. To 
them pain and pleasure are all one, or rather are instantly forgotten, for 
God's yoke is sweet to their souls. All creatures, considered in them- 
selves, look far off and seem petty and contemptible, for they behold 
them from the Divine bosom, into which they have sunken away; and 
eternal things are close at hand and most wonderfully grand, for them 
they behold in their own souls with God. If men hate them or love 
them Iheir peace is equally untroubled, for the sweetness of Divine love 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 147 

imparts a calm that can be disturbed by neither friend nor foe. The 
sweetness of our Saviour's yoke safeguards them from all bitterness of 
creatures. 

Now, we are to consider that other Word of Christ : "My burden is 
light." This refers to the many sorrows we suffer in our external life. 
O, good and merciful God, who are those that nowadays find Thy burden 
light? For, alas, men no longer want to bear the burdens of life, even 
those that are unavoidably necessary for our welfare. And yet which- 
ever way thou turnest thou must bear burdens, in spite of thyself. Fly 
from the heat and thou shalt fall into the deep cold snow. O, give thy- 
self up willingly and joyfully to suffer, commending thyself piously to 
God's protection in whatever may happen to thee. Consider how bit- 
terly our Lord Jesus Christ suffered, and how it was by suffering that 
He entered into His glory and into the bosom of His heavenly Father. 

And what, dear children, shall a servant of God suffer? Thou must 
suffer all the visitations of God's providence, and that in entire submis- 
siveness, without arguing about their justice or injustice, whether they 
are allowed to come to thee from men or come direct from God — the 
death of thy friends, the loss of thy property or of thy good name, the 
privation of consolations, whether exterior or interior, from God or from 
creatures. My dear child, these burdens must thou take up cheerfully 
and bear joyously. And, besides these, thou must bear with thy own 
defects, however painful they may be to thee, and however miserably 
thou hast failed to overcome them. Put thy shoulder meekly under thy 
burdens, and trust to God for strength to suffer; let God's blessed love 
be thy guide for time and eternity. Take an example from horses in the 
stable. Their manure is filthy and it is offensive to the smell. But the 
same horse that makes it, draws it with great labor into the fields and 
there it makes fine wheat and rich wine — all the better wheat and wine 
for the filthiness of the manure. Thus mayst thou use those disgusting 
faults of thine which thou canst not quite overcome. Scatter them upon 
the field of God's holy will, and abandon thyself very humbly to His lov- 
ing care; rich fruit of virtue thou shalt without doubt gather to the 
honor of God and the edification of His servants. 

Whatsoever man bows his back humbly under God's dispensations, 
and yields himself joyfully to His holy will in weal and woe; whatsoever 
man looks to God for everything in steadfast hope, receiving all from 
Him and returning all to Him in sincere detachment of spirit ; whatso- 
ever man sinks himself deep down into his own soul, seeking only for 



148 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

God's will in entire renunciation of self and of all creatures; whatso- 
ever man, I say, does all this with a true heart and perseveres stead- 
fastly in it, to him will God's burden in very truth be made light. Yes, 
children, so light that if it were possible to lay on that man alone all 
the burdens of the world, they would seem so light to him that it would 
be a joy to carry them — a joy that would seem like that of Heaven. For 
you must understand, that it is God Himself who bears such a man's 
burden ; God has entered into him and taken charge of all that he does 
and all that he endures. May the eternal God do the like in us. May 
He thus make His yoke sweet and His burden light to us, God the 
Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 149 



£>Ujttfl of a Sriw ^rljalar nf (EijHat 

Synopsis — That one is a diligent pupil of Christ is shown by not fear- 
ing or avoiding disgrace; by readily blaming himself ; by esteem- 
ing all men his superiors; by holding rich friends in no higher 
favor than poor strangers; by readily seeing God's will in all 
circumstances of life, and finally by patient endurance of suf- 
fering. 



SERMON FOR THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. 

Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart. — Matt, xi, 29. 

Christ, our beloved Lord, true master of all wisdom and virtue, 
example of all perfection, came down from Heaven that He might teach 
us poor, ignorant men. And in doing so He did not use great subtility, 
nor did He address us in mysterious ways. No ; He taught us our les- 
son in short sentences, and very plain words, at the same time giving 
us in His own blessed humanity a pattern to go by. He is Himself our 
book — open, easy to read and written with plainest letters. And His 
lesson — it reads thus : "Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of 
heart." 

What lesson could be more easily taught; what lesson more easily 
understood and learned than this? So, let us study it diligently, reading 
it over and over again, putting it in practice in our daily lives, keeping 
ever before our eyes as our model the life of Christ, so rich in the virtues 
He would teach us. His whole life was kindly and gently humble, and 
all His words ever taught this same holy lesson. It was for the sake 
of this virtue that he chose for His disciples and pupils men in a lowly 
state of life, apt to learn meekness and humility. Especially to elevate 
this lesson to the highest place, did He choose for His beloved mother one 
who, as she conceived Him in her womb, could say : "He hath regarded 
the humility of His handmaid." (Luke i, 48.) And in today's Gospel, 
He thanks His Father for this same virtue: "I confess to Thee, O 
Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because Thou hast hid these things 
from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them to little ones" (Matt. 



150 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



xi, 25) ; that is to say, to the humble. From all this we conclude, that 
to the humble-hearted alone is the hidden wisdom of God revealed. 
Therefore, dear children, that we may the better learn our Lord's lesson 
and acquire this beautiful virtue of His, let us consider certain signs 
of real humility, bearing in mind that gentle kindness is ever its close 
companion. 

The first sign is this : A truly humble man never is ashamed to do 
any outward act because worldlings will think that it disgraces him, for 
it is a true sign of conversion from a sinful life, and of real pain of 
heart for past bad conduct, if a man is ready and willing to be thrust 
backward to the lowest place, so that this may help him to be advanced 
to true humility of heart and interior subjection of soul. Whosoever 
would make progress in God's happy way of perfection, must keep a 
close watch on himself and avail himself of such opportunities, and for 
this God will give him such graces as he never had before. 

The second sign of real humility, is that one is ready to blame himself 
to others, to look on all men as his superiors in virtue; one effect of 
which is to draw 7 men's hearts to him, enabling him to lead them onward 
in the practice of humility. And if it sometimes happens that a man is 
accused of what he is not guilty of, still let him bear himself meekly, 
and confess that if he happen to be guiltless, it is God alone that has 
saved him from this sin, as He had forgiven him other sins — the same 
grace both in pardoning and preventing. 

The third work is this: The truly humble soul loves all men alike, 
showing no partiality for near friends or relatives over poor strangers. 
All men he loves in God ; all are given him by God as his neighbors, and, 
according to their needs, he loves them all, w T hether good or bad, not from 
natural inclination, but rather from Christian principle. 

In the fourth place, a truly humble man contents himself with a free 
and detached spirit; he is content w T ith all circumstances of life. The 
merciful God may join him in closest union with another whose heart is 
entirely given to the world. In such a case, indeed, w r e see a man's 
humility, for he is sunk under God and all creatures, self-effaced in 
spirit and in act, entirely resigned to his lot for God's sake. 

The fifth sign of true humility is patient endurance of suffering, 
offering everything up for God's glory, and in deep love of God, in single- 
hearted trust entirely submitting to His will. 

Herein you will perceive that progress in humility is marked by 
patience, by loving abandonment to God in all faith, and by steadfast 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 151 

confidence in Him. In this way the soul grows into a sense of the state 
of exile that this life really is. A man gains a brighter and brighter 
consciousness of God as his Creator; and he is granted a complete 
subjection of his will to God's holy will — all this for the Divine honor 
and for no selfish ends of his own. That we may thus learn our Saviour's 
lesson of humility, may God aid us. Amen. 



152 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



31je Biffmnt Brgrmi of g>jrintualtig 

Synopsis — Beginners are absorbed in external good works, and 
easily are led astray — Others are quite detached from earthly 
things, but yet absorbed in the sweetness of devout feelings, and 
thereby are much hindered — Still other souls rise above this, but 
arc liable to a more subtle spiritual self-indulgence; this is shown 
by indiscreet mortifications — The real work of perfection is wholly 
God's, and is done in the hidden life — Examples drawn from vine 
culture. 



SERMON FOR SEPTUAGESIMA SUNDAY. 

The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the 
morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. — Matt xx, 1. 

Dear children, this householder went out at the first hour, the third 
hour, and the sixth, and hired laborers at a penny a day. And even when 
evening was come, he still found men standing idle, and he said to them : 
Why stand ye here all the day idle? Go ye also into my vineyard and 
I will give you what is just. Now, dear children, this householder is our 
Lord Jesus Christ, and His house is eternal life, this earth, purgatory 
and hell. The heavenly Father saw that human nature had gone astray, 
leaving His beautiful vineyard sterile and desolate — that vineyard which 
He had created man to cultivate and make fruitful. To call human 
nature back again into His vineyard the heavenly Father now goes 
forth "early in the morning." 

Dear children, our Lord Jesus Christ goes forth from the heavenly 
Father's bosom and jet remains there; and this is one meaning of the 
words goes forth "early in the morning." But He may be said to go 
forth also in another sense, namely, in His human nature, that He may 
again hire us into His holy vineyard. This He does variously at the 
first, third, sixth and ninth hours. And yet once again He goes forth 
into the market place of the human race, namely, at the approach of 
evening, and He finds other men standing there idle. To these He 
speaks sharply: "Why stand ye here all the day idle? And they 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 153 

answered Him : Because no man hath hired us." Now, these men whom 
no man has hired, are those who still retain their natural innocence and 
guilelessness. They may well be called happy, for the eternal God finds 
them yet unhired ; that is to say, unfettered by the world and by created 
things. 

Again, dear children, there are some men who have once been enslaved 
by the world and by creatures, but have been liberated and are now free ; 
and these are standing idle and unhired from spiritual tepidity and 
coldness of heart, without love and without grace. And whosoever is 
without grace stands in nature alone. Let such a one (by an impossi- 
bility) do all the good works in the whole world, yet will he, all the 
same, stand idle and fruitless and empty, helped thereby in no manner 
whatsoever. Going out "early in the morning" means the going forth 
of God's grace to men ; for the morning puts an end to the darkness of 
night, and the coming of grace into the soul of man is the dawning of 
God's day: "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" Go into my vine- 
yard and I will pay you what is right. 

It is plain, children, that all these men go into the Lord's vineyard 
quite variously. Some are beginners. These labor for God with external 
religious works and according to their own plans, and they continue in 
that course, doing what they consider great things, fasting, keeping 
vigils, reciting prayers; at the same time paying little regard to the 
strictly interior religious life and resting wholly in sensible sweetness 
of devotion, thereby judging whether they are in God's favor or disfavor. 
From this state flow evil results — injustice to others, rash judgments, 
many faults of vanity and pride, bitterness of spirit and obstinacy, 
enmities and many other defects besides. Thus are they led astray from 
Divine grace and soon break forth openly into sinful words and deeds. 
Whosoever finds himself resting on this false foundation should at once 
take measures to change to the true foundation, which is interior, before 
he suffers further injury or inflicts it upon those who are his associates. 

The second kind of laborers, dear children, who have gone into the 
Lord's vineyard are those who despise all transitory things and who 
have quite overcome their sensual appetites; and by these means they 
have attained to a good degree of virtue. They are absorbed in the 
joys of interior spiritual exercises, cleaving close to the supreme truth. 
But they are defective in this; they rest content with these their pres- 
ent consolations; they do not press onward through and beyond all 
consolations to the possession of God Himself, in Whom alone, and not 
in His gifts, they should find their resting place. 



1 5 1 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

The third kind of laborers in God's vineyard are those most noble 
souls, who pass over and beyond all things in search simply of God — 
men who think of nothing, strive after nothing but God Himself,and God 
for His own self's sake alone — neither Divine consolations, nor any other 
outpourings from God, but His own very essential Deity, into which they 
sink their own existence in single-hearted devotedness. God's honor and 
I naise, the perfecting in them and by them of God's own will — this, and 
this alone, is the end and object of all their strivings. To suffer all things 
for His sake, to stand in total abandonment to His providence in all 
events of life, and to attribute no good thing to their own power or merit, 
such is their invariable and universal purpose. As water seeks its level, 
so in their heart's allegiance do all of God's gifts return to Him. They 
will not tolerate the thought of receiving any gifts from God for their 
own joy or profit in any wise whatsoever; God alone, God alone is the 
starting point and the returning point of everything they receive from 
Him, whether it be a favor for their inner or for their outer existence. 

And it is thus that such souls are lifted out of and above themselves 
into God, their intentions and purposes being singly and solely for Him. 
But meanwhile human nature must be reckoned with, for a man cannot 
be totally separated from his natural self; and therefore, whether he 
will or not, he longs with a natural longing to be happy, even while he 
would be absorbed in God alone. But this inclination of nature should 
not be strong in such elect souls ; it should be reduced to the smallest 
possible degree of influence. Effecting this causes suffering in very 
spiritual men, for they can hardly help being pleasurably absorbed in 
the good works to which they devote themselves. Hence they are apt to 
seek for new ways of practicing virtue, with a view to the spiritual 
joys to be found therein — prayer, meditation, holy tears and many long 
vigils. And herein, often without realizing it, they go to excess, never 
getting enough of spiritual sweetness; and when that goes from them, as 
it surely will, then they are afflicted. They now have an aversion for 
devout practices and become cold-hearted. The blame is all their own ; 
they have ceased to think of God alone and to seek Him alone ; they have 
drifted back into an attachment to the sweetness of His service. A man 
must never seek joy in God's gifts; neither in methods of piety, in words 
and prayers, or in works of zeal. It is not God's gifts, but God's own 
self that we should seek. 

Yes, children, there are some who cannot abide being empty of all 
spiritual solace and comfort. From this holy emptiness of soul they take 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 155 

refuge, for instance, with the saints and angels of Heaven, whom they 
appropriate to themselves without due regard to God, and from them 
they look for spiritual joys. They say, in effect, this favorite saint of 
mine, this beloved angel, shall be my comfort in preference to all others. 
Now, this is unfair to God and really gives little rest to the soul, hut 
rather breeds much unrest. Endeavor to be detached entirely from all 
creatures, whether in Heaven or on earth, except clearly in view of God ; 
lean upon God and upon none other. Once thou hast done that honestly, 
then thou shalt have learned how rightly to honor all of God's saints. 
For our beloved saints, are they not continually immersed in the depths 
of the Divine immensity — in the most holy Trinity? 

I say to thee in that truth that God is : If thou wilt become a man 
after God's will, then all things to which thou cleavest must perish 
within thee. And this means that thou must not cleave to the graces 
God grants thee, nor to His Saints as something apart from Himself, nor 
to anything else ; for whatsoever ministereth to thy spiritual joy must 
be cut off. Before God can perfect within thee His Divine work of light 
and love, thou must be unencumbered from everything that gives thee 
comfort except God's own very self. 

Children, you are not to suppose that we are forbidden to venerate 
our dear saints in Heaven, but only to cling to them with a sense of 
proprietorship — with a selfish purpose of enjoying them. I say to thee 
that if thou wert enriched with all heavenly graces, and, in addition, 
wert granted all the merits of all holy men, the moment that thou 
shouldst appropriate these to thyself in spiritual joy, that moment they 
would be tainted with thy own personal sinfulness. The true and 
faithful servant of God goes ever right onward — consolation or no con- 
solation, pleasure or pain, plenty or want — ever right onward through 
all these things to God's own self. It is by forgetfulness of this that a 
man will, all unconsciously, stray apart from the true path of Divine wis- 
dom and love, and by returning again to this the only right way, does 
he attain to perfection. 

Children, a really devout man should imitate a laborer in a vineyard 
who works all day long; and if he must stop to eat at certain intervals, 
the whole time thus taken up is hardly an hour, while the work absorbs 
the entire day. He eats because he must have food, for that makes his 
blood and flesh, bones and marrow, which, as they are consumed bv 
working, must be renewed by eating; but much work and a little eating 
is his rule for laboring in his vineyard. And in like manner in God's vine- 



150 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



yard. When one feels a yearning for the heavenly joy of Divine grace, 
let him indulge himself a little in it, so that he may be strengthened to 
work on more courageously, ever giving back to God in thanksgiving 
the joy that he has received from Him ; and repeating this process from 
time to time, as he feels the yearning for God's joy and the need of its 
nourishment to strengthen him in his holy labors. The spiritual men 
who thus deal with God in their interior and external life, humbly 
accepting and gratefully returning to God all His gifts, constantly 
become more worthy of them. Such Godlike men would be worthy to 
feed upon the finest pearls and gold and silver, if these could be turned 
into food. The best that the world possesses is but their family inher- 
itance^ — theirs and no one else's. But all worldly treasures are as 
nothing at all to them, and they are often the poor men of God, trusting, 
as they must, with all confidence in their heavenly Father's care of them ; 
and He does provide for them — if they were hidden away in the heart of 
a rock he would provide for them. 

Such men are like a vinestock, which outwardly is black, hard, dry 
and ugly, and, if one went by appearances, would be only fit to chop 
down and make into firewood. But under this unfavorable appearance 
are hidden the channels of the sap, and the rich natural forces that give 
life and sweetness to the noblest fruit of any plant that grows. It is 
thus with those recollected souls that are at all times sunken so deep 
in God. Outwardly, they seem dry and dull and useless creatures, for 
they are humble and retiring, and they appear very insignificant, with 
neither fine words nor showy works, nor elaborate devotional methods, 
in every way appearing the least among their fellows. But concealed 
within their souls are the veins of God's grace. They no longer belong 
to themselves, but God has made them and their lives and their inner- 
most being His own portion among men. 

And now, children, consider how the vine-dresser goes out and prunes 
his vines, cutting away the wild growth; for if he let it grow on with the 
useful branches, then the unpruned vine would give him only sour wine. 
It is thus that true spiritual men must do ; they must cut out from their 
ways and inclinations, and their joys and sorrows, all whatsoever is ill- 
regulated. Thou must exterminate from thy heart all thy defects; thou 
canst do it and yet not break thy head or thy bones, for thou shouldst 
hold back the knife until thou art well advised what thou shouldst 
prune away. If the vine-dresser is not skillful at his trade, he may cut 
the wood that bears the grapes instead of the useless and barren 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 157 

branches, and thus injuring, instead of benefiting, the vineyard. Thus 
act imprudent and ignorant men in the spiritual vineyard. They cut 
and wound our poor, innocent human nature, while they pass over 
untouched the evil tendencies rooted in our corrupt human nature. Our 
nature is in itself noble and good. Why, then, wilt thou hack at it as if 
it were essentially evil? I say to thee that it may happen, that when 
thou hast come to the time of gathering the spiritual harvest, namely, 
when thou hast the grace of a devout, happy and pious life, thou shalt 
find that thou hast by thy indiscreet mortifications in earlier days 
destroyed the forces of nature within thee. 

After the vine-dresser has pruned his vine he ties it carefully, bending 
it toward the ground, and then fastens it securely to a stake. And in 
all this we have the sweet figure of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ in 
His lire and passion, which must be made our only support. Bound 
fast to Jesus crucified, the superior faculties of our mind are sunk in 
lowly humility, in His sufferings and death. Our whole interior and 
external existence is by this means subjected to Him, and that not in mere 
mechanical imitation, but in true and hearty conformity to His death, 
each one, according to his state of life, giving Him his senses and his 
thoughts in entire and constant abandonment. This is the taming of 
an overfree will under the rule of God's will, in all things inward and 
outward, exerting every effort to be truly obedient to God, and to respond 
to His grace, in all work and rest. Then one's humility is so true, that if 
he had done all the meritorious works of all mankind, and possessed all 
the inner graces of all saintly men, he would not be spoiled by any sense 
of proprietorship; his virtues would seem no different to him than if 
they were the virtues of someone else, and would all be readily attributed 
to God. In such a soul as that, will God the Father quickly and without 
hindrance complete His hidden work of perfection. And those who fail 
to acquire these dispositions will without doubt fail to experience God's 
perfect regeneration within their souls. 

And, again, the vine-dresser digs up the soil about the vine and roots 
out the weeds; that is to say, the devout man vigilantly searches his 
soul's very depths, and if he finds spiritual weeds there, imperfect ten- 
dencies, whether great or small, he puts in his spade and cuts them out 
by the root. He thus gives the bright sun of God's grace free entrance to 
the inmost depths of his being, enlightening and vivifying all his powers. 
God's grace thus draws up into active fruitful life all the forces of the 
soul. Ah, dear children, how sweet and nourishing is the fruit of 



l.'.s The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Divine urate, when we thus give God's sunlight full entrance into our 
Bonis by cleaving away all that may hinder it! How beautiful its light 
and htiw sweet the fragrance of the flowers it produces, a fragrance 
which is the antidote to all spiritual poison, and fatal to the presence of 
the tempting serpent. children, children, when the beams of God's 
sunlight are allowed to fall directly on the human soul, they draw the 
soul's whole life, inner and outer both, upward to Heaven! All that 
such a soul thinks and does, now tastes of God, so that the evil one and 
all his poisonous efforts come instantly to naught. If all the devils in 
hell conspired against that soul, and if all the evil men on earth joined 
them, they could not harm it, for it thinks and loves and acts only in 
God, and deeper and deeper into God's life would their machinations 
drive it. Nay, if such a man were (by an impossibility) sunk even into 
the pit of hell, he would bring down Heaven there, with God and all His 
blessedness. And in practical daily life, he is perfectly safeguarded 
against all dangers that may beset his path. 

Now, as the sun of God's holy presence in the soul shines clearer and 
warmer as time goes on, so the virtues of that soul become riper, and the 
fruit of holy living is more and more filled with spiritual sweetness; 
for the hindrances to the Divine influence are lessened continually, just 
in proportion to the earnestness and discretion of the soul's co-operation. 
A man's entire spiritual conduct is in a way then made Divine, his 
chief, and we might say his only, inner conception being God. But this 
is a state of soul too far beyond ordinary human existence to be capable 
of description. 

Finally the vine-dresser trims away the leaves, to allow the sunlight 
to complete its work of ripening the grapes. In like manner various 
devotional helps become after a time of little aid to the soul, such as 
the usual pious practices and prayers, and remembrances of the saints. 
But this only happens when God has drawn the soul very deep into Him- 
self, and His grace influences it in a way quite above its natural com- 
prehension. For the glory and the' sweetness of God's communion, trans- 
cend all purely human methods and mediums of spiritual life, and the 
soul hardlv knows how r to distinguish its life from that of God. That 
the soul's very being should be penetrated through and through by God's 
sweetness, is His special purpose in this work of sanctification, just as if 
He were a cask of wine absorbing a little drop of water, until the soul 
is, as it were, unconscious of a separate life from that of God, uncon- 
scious of the lowly human existence to which it belongs. A secret and 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 159 



silent unity of man and God, quite beyond the power of description, is 
thus produced. Children, one hour, even one moment, of this blissful 
state of union, is a thousand times more beneficial to the soul and more 
useful to its fellow-men, redounds a thousand times more to God's honor 
and glory, than fifty years spent in self-chosen spiritual exercises, even 
the most approved. May God grant us grace to give Him place for His 
work within our souls. May we die to all that we should die to, live for 
all that we should live for, and do everything that His grace demands, 
in preparation for His Divine regeneration within our souls. Amen. 



1G0 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Not (§ur ©tun, but (gob % Artimtg fflnkta la $nf?tt 

Synopsis — Going out of self and into God — Giving up the joy of virtue 
for the sake of virtue's self — Danger of self-inspired activity — 
Christ's passion a meditation safe against pride — Vigor of ex- 
temal zeal not lessened but increased by interior quiet. 



SERMON FOR SEXAGESIMA SUNDAY. 

The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside 
and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some 
fell upon a rock, and as soon as it was sprung up it withered away, because it had 
no moisture. And other some fell among thorns, and the thorns growing up with 
it choked it. And other some fell upon good ground, and being sprung up, yielded 
fruit a hundred-fold. — Luke v, 8. 

Dear children, take things as we may, the beginning of a spiritual life 
is a going forth; thou must undoubtedly go out if thou wouldst ever 
amount to anything in the Christian state — go forth and out of all self- 
content, self-conceit, and self-will. Thou must strive to have dear to 
thyself nothing whatever but God's honor and glory. Mark well: In 
whatsoever condition of mind or body thou findest thyself, out of that 
thou must go, whether it be a multitude of companions, or any other 
comfort of creatures. And this going forth must effect something more 
than a bodily change; it must be a deep-seated change in thy very 
soul. If God is ever to do a fruitful work in thee, thy spirit must be cut 
off and separated from all multiplicity. There is no escape from it ; thou 
must forsake thy own activity, all thy natural faculties, forcibly break 
asunder the hard bands of nature; go out from thy manners and thy 
habits and all other such things ; for it is clinging to these that especially 
hinders thy spiritual progress. Do as the ants do; when they have 
gathered the grains of wheat, they eat away and destroy the living kernel 
of each grain, lest it should sprout, and thus they save up their store of 
food. And so must thou destroy the kernel of joy that is in all thy incli- 
nations and affections, lest when thou thinkest thyself making good 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 101 

spiritual progress thou art really near to complete failure. Thou must 
thus go forth out of all things. 

Philosophers tell us that a man's power of going forth lies in his will, 
though the intelligence invites him to do it. As soon as my mind per- 
ceives something good, then the will is informed of it, and forthwith 
starts away to obtain it and to enjoy it; for it is on account of the good 
contained in anything that we love it and seek to possess it. Now, this 
means the good that is in one's own self, as well as that which we may 
find in other creatures. This is the better activity of the will. For if 
one's love is false and narrow, one's will does not go out, but would by 
a bad activity appropriate the desired good selfishly and slothfully. 
And it is certainly thus that all those persons act who seek themselves 
in serving God, calculating simply on their own spiritual profit. Their 
love is untrue and narrow and I would not give a penny for it all. 

Dear child, thou must, in the love of thy God, so go out of thyself 
that thou shalt love Dim alone, thinking as little as possible of joy or 
profit or reward, but only of His goodness and His glory. And, although 
thou knowest full well that He will recompense thee, yet on that thou 
must not allow thy mind to dwell, hiding it away as carefully as if thou 
didst not know it at all. Let nothing whatever but God's honor influ- 
ence thee; let thy heart melt with zeal for that; forget thyself in that, 
adverting little to thy own profit in what thou dost for God in soul or 
body. Otherwise what thou dost is thine and not God's, for thou hast 
done it and not God. Consider Him always and seek to please Him, 
never anxiously asking whether or not or how much He will reward 
thee. Meantime be sure that all that thou thus givest exclusively to Him 
He will turn back upon thee. The less thou thinkest of thy glory and 
profit and recompense, the more will He think of thee in regard of all 
such things. Therefore does St. John say : ''Perfect charity casteth 
out fear." (I John iv, IS.) Men who act in this way know not fear, 
for they never think of themselves, whether for gain or loss; all such 
things are shut out of their souls, which know nothing but love. And 
they are finally rewarded as Simeon was, to whom it was granted to lake 
the infant Jesus in his arms. 

But one might object : Is it really right that I should go out of my 
own activity and become void of all doing, thinking and willing? Is 
there no danger of my neglecting my bounden duly in (his? Should I 
not even meditate on our Lord's life 1 and passion? On how God in His 
goodness created me after His own image, and bore my sins on the cross? 



162 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

And on the joys of eternal life? I answer that this is all good, and well 
calculated to arouse the love of God in one's soul, and elicit acts of 
thanksgiving. But beware lest with these devout thoughts other 
thoughts and mental images intrude themselves. St. Paul bids us walk 
in faith, and his meaning is that we should know God and truth by the 
feeling of faith. The very essence of truth must shine into our souls, and 
that requires that the soul should be totally free from all images of 
created things. God forbid that thou shouldst make little of our 
Redeemer's passion, or draw away thy mind from thoughts of His cruci- 
fixion; but rather and on the contrary, having out of supreme love and 
gratitude stripped thy mind of all images for His sake, then and in that 
state shouldst thou contemplate Him crucified. If a man owes me five 
shillings, he pays me best in one single coin equal to the five shillings. 
Martha, Lazarus and Mary all knew the same Christ, but each one very 
differently from the others, and each received Him differently. 

Now, take all this teaching, and act as a skillful artist does in painting 
a picture. He has skill in coloring, and in drawing and in other 
branches of his art, but they are all joined by him in a single united 
effort to produce the figure upon his canvas. 

If thou wouldst return God the thanks most pleasing to Him, then 
keep thy soul void, in order that He may do His perfect work in thee, 
and that work is to give thee to know Him and love Him disinterestedly. 
A skillful artist and a rude peasant may stand together gazing upon a 
picture; but how differently do they appreciate it. The artist feels 
at once the full general influence of beauty and power; the peasant 
carefully counts and names the various figures. So wilt thou be better 
thankful to God, if thou wilt empty thy heart to receive Him in 
all loving simplicity, rather than distract and disturb thyself with 
studying and numbering thy devotional acts. What the lower orders 
of the angels behold in many images, the higher ones enjoy in a single 
act of contemplation. Choose for thy meditation those subjects which 
are most familiar to thee and which profit thee best, for our Lord 
approves that simple way, meanwhile ever ministering His joy and peace 
to thy soul. He seems to forego His own rights for a time, doing so in 
the interests of brotherly love among His children. Thus He says in 
the Gospel: "If thou comest to the altar to offer thy gift, and there 
thou rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave thy 
gift at the altar, and going, first be reconciled to thy brother ; and then 
come and offer thy gift. (Matt, v, 23-24.) Nor needst thou fear lest 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 163 

thou shalt lose anything by resting still in contemplation. Give thyself 
wholly to God in interior abandonment to His will, and be sure that thy 
external activity shall lose none of its vigor. What better canst thou 
do than work for God out of the single motive of love? Some think that 
everything in the spiritual life depends on their own exertions, and they 
constantly strive to absorb the Divine light into that of their natural 
reason. Far be this from thee, for that would be to change the uncreated 
wisdom into that of a poor creature. But do thou just the contrary ; by 
an effort of perfect love cast all thy wisdom deep into God's — the lowest 
must not presume to master the highest. That we may go out of our- 
selves in all sincerity of detachment, and thereby prepare our souls as 
good soil for the seed of God's Word, may God impart to us His grace. 
Amen. 



164 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



fttiffmmj a (Eottfcttum far 3ntmnr Progress 

Synopsis — Interior degeneracy is in pride, in routine and in ingrati- 
tude — Progress is seen in earnestness, in humility without limit, 
absorbtion in Christ's passion, universal love of God's creatures, 
all crowned by steadfast perseverance — Progress becomes perfec- 
tion by peculiarly painful trials, a very filial love of God and en- 
tire abandonment to Him. 



SERMON FOR QUINQUAGES1MA SUNDAY. 

With Christ I am nailed to the cross. And I live, now not I, but Christ liveth 
in me. — Gal. ii, 19. 

The holy apostle St. Paul, whose life was a spectacle of suffering for 
Christ and of conforming to God's will, shows us how a spiritual man 
should bring forth the fruit of eternal life. It is by being joined close to 
Christ : "With Christ I am nailed to the cross. And I live, now not I, 
but Christ liveth in me;" and he adds : "And that I live now in the flesh, 
I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Him- 
self for me." This is salutary counsel. The apostle bids us so to live 
that Christ may appear in us and be honored in us ; that His passion and 
death may be exhibited in our mortal bodies, to our own profit and that 
of our neighbor. Now, although we have many afflictions to suffer, and 
each of these crosses has its length, breadth, depth and height, yet we 
should clearly understand, that it is only by the cross of Christ's holy 
humanity that we are saved. To this cross is joined— if we may so 
express ourselves— the cross of Christ's divinity, all painless and ele- 
vated in heavenly joy. And on either side of the cross of Christ stood 
two others— on the right that of the penitent thief, on the left that of the 
impenitent thief. These three crosses will serve to illustrate how our 
sufferings may be made to advance our spiritual welfare. 

By the cross of the bad thief, we may understand those persons who 
belong to some holy state of life, and who are therefore obligated to cer- 
tain painful outward observances. They have well deserved their suf- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 165 

ferings, and yet they are not spiritually helped by them, for they obsti- 
nately continue in their wicked self will and fall into other sins. Al- 
though nailed to their cross, such persons may suffer eternal loss with 
the impenitent thief. So that, having borne a heavy burden here, they 
may bear an infinitely heavier one hereafter. 

The height of this cross is spiritual pride and self-sufficiency. They 
set themselves arrogantly over other men; they are insufferably 
vain of their austerities. No one is good euough to be their equal in 
virtue, so they think; and they look with contempt on all who do not 
practice their manner of life. To such as these St. Augustine wrote: 
"Dear brothers, rather than have you say or even think that you are 
better than other men, or any way different from them, I would prefer 
that you went back into the world. You should say, with Christ, as 
represented by the prophet : 'I am a worm and no man, the reproach 
of men and the outcast of the people.' (Ps. xxi, 7.) And you should 
say, with the poor sinner : I have sinned ; Lord, have mercy on me, a 
sinner." 

The depth of this cross is the depth of sinfulness in such a man. His 
motives are essentially false, and he has never seriously been converted 
to God, never realized his unmortified state, nor really desired to 
change for the better. He has rested wholly upon his external observ- 
ances, and even that very unwillingly and under compulsion. He knows 
nothing at all of intimate union of the soul with God — thinks and 
enquires about such things and longs for them as little as does the Grand 
Turk. To him the real spiritual life is as if it did not exist. If he hears 
devout men speaking of such things, he understands it as little as an 
Italian does German. He mumbles his Pater Nosters, and he mechan- 
ically recites his psalms, and he performs his barren routine of observ- 
ance of rule, and so he is quite content. As to God uniting Himself 
intimately to men's soul, what does he care or know about such a thing 
as that? If by some outward religious practices one may gain some 
profit or attract some attention, then, indeed, he takes a living interest 
in the matter. Cross his will, if you dare; he at once is revealed as an 
ordinary senseless worldling. Hence St. Augustine says, that he knows 
no man worse than one who falls from a holy state of life, for it often 
happens that he ends in rejecting the true faith and impugning the 
teaching of Holy Scripture. Thus deep does such a man sink with the 
cross to which he is nailed. 

The breadth of this evil cross is that it points to the broad and well- 
trodden road that leads to hell. Men fixed to it live according to the 



166 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 






flesh, taring naught for the sweetness of the spirit. Whosoever lives in 
the flesh cannot be pleasing to God. Whosoever treads not the narrow 
way that Leads to eternal life, will surely go astray and jeopardize his 
eternal welfare. These men are self-seekers, and they are self-opinion- 
ated in everything. They must be favored in everything; they must be 
continually dispensed from the Lord's counsels of perfection; in one 
wind, their whole object in life is never to suffer. But this cross they 
must suffer, whether they will or no — sharp pangs of conscience. For 
they can have no trust in God, because they have rejected and despised 
Him ; nor in the world, for the world, in turn, despises them. Ah, dear 
children, they have, indeed, a hard life and carry a painful cross ! They 
would be without any suffering, and yet they have the bitterest kind. 
Add to this the forebodings of eternal suffering if thev do not return to 
God. 

And that brings us to consider the length of this cross. This is shown 
when its votaries persevere in vice even to the end, which comes from 
their ingratitude. They have received many great graces from God, the 
like of which, if given to persons living in the world, would have been 
gratefully received by them. But all these graces they have wilfully 
rejected; they have disregarded God's many inner admonitions, even 
sometimes being themselves amazed at their own hardness of heart. 
They have not turned to God, and have finally reached that dreadful 
state spoken of by St. Paul : "It is impossible for those who were once 
illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made par- 
takers of the Holy Ghost, have moreover tasted the good Word of God, 
and the powers of the world to come, and are fallen away ; to be renewed 
again to penance; crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and 
making Him a mockery." And the apostle adds a comparison : "For the 
earth that drinketh in the rain which cometh often upon it, and bringeth 
forth herbs meet for them by whom it is tilled, receiveth blessings from 
God. But that which bringeth forth thorns and briars, is reprobate, and 
very near unto a curse, whose end is to be burnt." (Heb. vi, 4-8.) 
Which all means this: These men who have been given so many graces, 
who have been favored with so many marks of God's special love, and 
who have wilfully refused Him their heart's allegiance and persevered 
in their wickedness— it is to be feared that they will finally suffer God's 
eternal anathema. See to it, my dear children, that you do not allow 
yourselves to be fixed to this cross of eternal condemnation, lest you 
remain hanging there till the end. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 167 

The cross of the thief at the right hand is good, for he has made it 
fruitful unto eternal life. It serves to illustrate the resolute earnest- 
ness of those who have entered upon a life of penance, turning away 
from the world and from all sinfulness with heartfelt sincerity. They 
have regarded it as a favor to suffer very painfully for their former 
sins, thus atoning for the free rein they once gave to their fleshly pas- 
sions and to their proud self-will. All this they have now quite and 
entirely given up for the sake of God, and they are content to suffer 
whatever penalties God may inflict on them. To them the cross is not 
only salutary; it is also comforting, sweet and well beloved. The cross 
brings to them, as it did to the good thief, strong faith joined to an 
unshaken confidence in God's unspeakable love and mercy. Ah, my 
dear children, what greater good could the dying thief ever have gained 
in this poor, fleeting life than to hear those welcome words : "Amen, I 
say to thee, this day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." (Luke xxiii, 
43.) And what more consoling words could a soul so well disposed, so 
truly converted, ever hear than these: "Come to Me all ye that labor 
and are heavy burdened, and I will refresh you?" (Matt, xi, 28.) 
Which means that I will receive and embrace you by My grace, assist 
you in times of trial, and aid you to bear your burdens ; and after brief 
intervals of spiritual toil, will continually and sweetly strengthen you. 

The depth of this cross represents humility without limit. By this 
virtue a man never rates himself higher than others, and sees no one's 
faults but his own. He is like the good thief, who freely confessed that 
he suffered justly for his crimes. A good man, therefore, amid the 
acutest pains, willingly owns that he deserves yet more for his sins. AH 
the sufferings of earth and hell, he really thinks, are not enough to 
atone for his former wickedness. Such a man can despise no one but 
himself, nor judge and condemn anyone except himself. And this 
humble state of the soul is the blossom and fruit of this tree of the cross. 

Its height is elevation of spirit, withdrawal from outward things, and 
contemplation of heavenly ones. This means that we should train and 
direct our souls upward to thoughts of the eternal life, steering clear 
of all bodily delusions. We should meditate on the life and character 
of our beloved Lord, the soul's rich mine of all virtues — His sufferings 
and His bitter death, His resurrection, His ascension and His glory in 
the Kingdom of Heaven. This occupation of mind it is that makes our 
cross very light, as it did that of the good thief, who was thinking of 
Heaven and longing for it when he prayed : "Lord, remember me when 
Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom." (Luke xxiii, 42.) 



108 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

The breadth of this cross is universal and true-hearted love of God and 
creatures; by which a man is ever inspired to pray, not only for himself, 
lmi for all men, even for his very enemies. His prayers know no bounds. 
His kind feelings are lavished upon all men. And his special task is to 
appease the wrath of God aroused against men who have dishonored 
Him. This is the love spoken of by St. Peter (I Peter iv, 8) and by 
our Lord about Mary .Magdalene as covering a multitude of sins : ''Many 
sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much." (Luke vii, 47.) 

The length of this cross is perseverance and the increase of good 
works, for such men are never done doing good. And they practice their 
virtues in such good order and with such prudence, that in all things they 
may put off the old man and clothe themselves with the new man, 
newly created by God in the righteousness and holiness of truth. By 
this means their inner man is from day to day renewed, and they press 
onward through all sorrow, pain and opposition, so that they may truly 
say with St. Paul: "That which is at present momentary and light of 
our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly, an eternal 
weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at 
the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are tem- 
poral ; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (II Cor. iv, 17-19.) 

The third cross is the cross of Christ. This means the perfect man, 
to whom the heavenly Father imparts a peculiar glory and honor in 
union with His only begotten Son. To such men He sends many 
peculiar sufferings, contradictions, troubles and various other crosses. 
To them he grants the privilege of drinking the same chalice that His 
beloved Son drank, as our Lord foretold to His blessed apostles John 
and James: "Can you drink the chalice that I shall drink?" They say 
to Him : "We can." He saith to them : "My chalice, indeed, you shall 
drink." (Matt, xx, 22-23.) As if he would say (for they had been 
contending about the first places in His kingdom) : If you would become 
God's best and most favored friends, then make up your minds to endure 
the greatest opposition, for the disciple is not above his Master. If it 
was necessary for Christ to suffer and to carry the cross in order to enter 
into His Father's kingdom, so without any doubt every friend of God 
must endure suffering. 

The depth of this cross is a filial fear of God, by which these men give 
themselves up wholly into His hands, and have an anxious care lest they 
may offend Him. Its height is the true hope of finally coming to eternal 
bliss. This is no vain trust in their own merits or in their devout life. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 109 

but is rooted in the humility of a firm faith in God, and entire surrender 
to His infinite goodness — a trust that shall never be confounded, for it is 
such as St. Paul describes : "The charity of God is poured forth in our 
hearts by the Holy Ghost, Who is given to us." (Eom. v, 5.) The 
breadth of this cross is charity unfeigned toward God, toward self and 
toward every man for God's sake. Such men diligently cultivate unity 
of spirit in the bonds of peace, being ever on the watch against bitter- 
ness of heart, anxious to serve everybody and to be hurtful to none. 
Gladly do they bear adversity, if they can but thereby lead souls back 
to God. The length of this cross is the lifting upward of their thoughts 
to eternal life, for which they will cheerfully suffer every pain. What- 
soever God shall allot to them in time or in eternity, that is the most 
pleasing to them — let Him do or not do, place them here or place them 
there, it is all one; repining or contradiction is quite unknown to them. 
Thev can in all sinceritv make Christ's words to His Father their own : 
"Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." (Matt, xxvi, 39.) Their sharpest 
pain is the thought that they cannot totally uproot their own will, being- 
yet subject to some human weaknesses. O, how happy are these men ! 
And how fruitful a tree is their cross, not only for themselves, but for all 
Christendom. 

This cross leads them on to the ineffable cross of the Divine nature, 
as St. Paul wished his converts: "That Christ may dwell by faith in 
your hearts ; that, being rooted and founded in charity, you may be able 
to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and 
height, and depth." (Eph. iii, 17-18.) The length is God's endless 
eternity ; the breadth is the immensity of His goodness and gentleness, 
poured out and to be poured out upon all men and creatures; the height 
is His infinite power ; the depth is the abyss of His eternal wisdom. But 
whosoever would attain to the cross of God's Divine nature, must first 
be conformed to the cross of His humanity. Round about this cross are 
gathered all those who lead a truly spiritual life, as we have already 
explained. They must strictly abstain from all works of the flesh, which 
God abhors, and they must have an earnest love of all holy living, their 
souls' hands being, as it were, actually nailed to God's Divine cross. 
They must, furthermore, constantly strive to fulfill God's will, stead- 
fastly fix their thoughts upon Him, and most carefully avoid whatever 
they perceive to be displeasing in His eyes. And this will stand for the 
nailing of their right foot to the cross of God's nature. Again, they 
must learn to choose between two joys; namely, never to be drawn into 



170 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

the anhappj joy of this world, and never to refuse the joyful misery 
of God's service. If they choose wisely, then are they fastened by their 
left foot to the cross of the Divine nature. Yet again, they must have a 
profound sympathy for God, on account of the dishonor that has been 
done Him from the beginning of the world until now, and that shall yet 
be done Him even to the end by all mankind, including the wickedness 
of those whose state of life has called for the highest virtue. And they 
must include in this their compassion for God's dishonor; namely, that 
which is suffered for His sake by His beloved friends who have rallied 
to the side of Christ crucified ; for them also must they wish to suffer, 
that God's glory may be increased in their lives. Such as these will He 
guard as He does the apple of His eye, for whosoever does injury to them 
does it to God Himself. That we may thus be nailed to the cross of 
Christ's humanity, and that we may finally be brought to the eternal 
vision of His unveiled divinity, may the almighty and the all-holy 
Trinity mercifully grant. Amen. 









of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 171 



(grafcattmtH of Mtrrt 

Synopsis — Remarks on the perverse ingratitude of sinners — First 
grade of merit is religious fear of hell, forming an unstable con- 
dition of virtue and beset with many dangers — Second, fear of 
purgatory, and is far in advance of the first; but is mercenary and 
lacks whole-heartedness — Third class is made up of souls deter- 
mined to win heaven by entirely generous devotion to God — Some 
of these unconsciously are self-interested — Perfect gratitude fin- 
ishes their course. 



SERMON FOR ASH WEDNESDAY. 

Convert us, O Lord, to Thee, and we shall be converted. — Lamentations v, 21. 

God is very pitiful of poor human nature, and He never ceases His 
endeavors to convert us, always looking out for our acceptance of His 
loving invitations. Some He calls by such visitations as sickness or 
poverty, or the like misfortunes ; others He would draw to Him by the 
teaching and example of good men ; some by His interior admonitions ; 
some by force, as in St. Paul's case ; now it is a severe way ; again it is a 
gentle way that He uses to arouse men's consciences. 

As to what hinders men's turning to God, we notice three things: 
Love of this transitory existence, greediness for worldly possessions, and 
desire of sensual indulgence. For some are infatuated by the honors of 
this world and set their hearts on temporal riches, so that they may 
gratify the lusts of the flesh. After they have persisted a while in this 
wickedness, they become hard-hearted and unresponsive to grace, even 
ready to undergo any toil or suffering to satisfy their passions. St. 
Gregory bids us look at the example of the people of Israel : They 
yearned for the flesh-pots of Egypt, which they had enjoyed only after 
most painful labor. They preferred this, with slavery, to the heavenly 
bread God gave them in the wilderness, full of every sweetness. Ah, my 
dear children, how sad a lesson is this! God had lovingly led this 
people out from bondage, showing forth for their sake His great power. 



L72 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

and working many wonders, all His affection and all His mighty works 
h;i\ ing do other object than to turn their hearts sincerely to Him, and 
to cause them to observe His commandments. And behold, children, all 
this they regarded not, but quickly went back to their former evil ways 
and sinful pleasures. They revolted against Moses, God's friend and 
their appointed leader; they murmured and resisted him, now in one 
w ay and again in another. Until, at last, our loving Lord became impa- 
licnt with them, and scourged them with serpents and with fire, and 
gave them over to the will of their enemies. And of all those who had 
journeyed into the wilderness, He allowed but two to enter the land that 
He had promised them. 

Ah, how many are there among us, whom God with all power and 
mercy has delivered from the slavery of sin and evil habits and led 
toward a true conversion, so that we might lead a Godly life, according 
to His teaching and His Son's example ! And we have but put on an 
appearance of conversion, outwardly doing things that might make one 
think that in all truth we were sincerely turned away from our former 
vicious practices. But how pitiful it is that this is all outward show. 
Inwardly we still long for the flesh-pots, secretly and weakly yielding 
to our bodily appetites, and if these enjoyments are now less accessible 
than before, we give ourselves up to murmurings wholly unworthy of 
religious men. And wmat is yet worse, w T e will not be content with the 
worldly goods that belong to our state of life, but whatever luxuries we 
hear of the rich enjoying, we, poor beggars, must crave to possess. Noth- 
ing pleases us. Our heavenly Father feeds and clothes and shelters our 
bodies; He gives our souls sweet and nourishing spiritual food — all in 
vain. He cannot win our love; we will not give ourselves up to Him 
in a deep and true conversion. But, on the contrary, we become too 
often a scandal to our brethren by our perverse discontent. And as we 
read that God destroyed from the earth certain leaders of the discon- 
tented Israelites, so does He sometimes similarly act among us. 

These are often no better than openly wicked men, as is shown if you 
cross their will. They seem to be really possessed and driven onward, in 
their evil course, by Satan. Sometimes it happens that they get all 
thai they want and rest quite satisfied with their success; and that is a 
plain sign of their final loss; the evil one has been given entrance, their 
hearts are hardened. No real peace or joy can be theirs, however, for 
their souls are sick with sin, and the enemy casts his fatal net about 
them. But let them make a mighty effort — naught else will suffice; let 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 173 

them painfully enter into themselves, cast away all that they have 
wrongfully possessed or coveted of this world's joys; let them humbly 
crave pardon of all whom they have injured; let them beg the prayers 
and the help of all who are fit to instruct them how to be freed from 
Satan's slavery; and thus, with hearts full of contrition, let them return 
again to God's service. 

Alas, my dear children ! What can we say of our conversion to God 
nowadays? It is for the most part only in external signs. Taking us 
all in all, we are like the fig tree that the Lord cursed : We bear leaves, 
indeed, but not fruit — not more than one in a hundred is a thoroughly 
converted man. We are self-seekers; we enjoy all sorts of material 
conveniences and the pleasures of this life, sometimes more abundantly 
than if we were still living among worldlings; for those who live in the 
outer world must, with all their luxuries, suffer besides many anxieties. 
We have become so spiritually enfeebled, that we have no will to suffer 
pain of any kind. If we can but imagine a new comfort, we must forth- 
with have it. If the superiors of the community will not give it, then we 
go to our friends and relatives outside. Complaints by letters and by 
word of mouth, every species of endeavor for a soft and easy life — all 
this goes on endlessly. Alas ! shall we never ask ourselves why we came 
into religion? Shall we forever remain in this childish self-indulgence? 
But we now conclude our lament over this sad state of things, lest it 
should detain us the whole day long. 

There are three things that make sin a most detestable evil. The first 
is that offending God is monstrous and shameful — the only thing that 
can possibly be offensive to Him is sin. The man who lives in sin, if he 
would but look into his condition, would be overwhelmed with horror at 
the intolerable and disgraceful state he has brought his soul into. The 
second is the shortness of the sinner's time — the swift approach of his 
death. The third is the horror that must fill him at the thought of the 
eternal death of his soul in hell. As to the reasons for a sinner's con- 
version, they are one of these three: His sins grievously afflict him 
because he dreads eternal damnation ; or because he begins to long for 
the happiness of Heaven ; or because his heart is touched a I the thoughl 
of God's infinite love for him. These are the inner sources of nil con- 
version to God. 

The sinner recalls to his mind the principles of his Christian faith: 
There is a God, and He is all powerful and all just, and the dread of His 
judgment fills the sinner's soul with anguish. And, again, his faith 



174 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

tells him that God is all merciful, and that a virtuous life is rewarded 
with a hlissful eternity; and now a joyous hope begins to glow within 
his soul. But. furthermore, he remembers our blessed Redeemer, and 
how God, pitying our fallen state, became man for man's salvation. 
This lights the holy fires of love and of gratitude in his heart, and he 
longs for 1 lie privilege of eternally serving and loving so good a God. 
When this noble sentiment inspires him, neither the fire of hell nor the 
joys of Heaven are the motives of his repentance. The fire of love 
devours every other feeling, and carries every thought upward into union 
with the Divine will. It is to heavenly love that he turns as the one 
source of all his happiness. And herein is found love rightly so called. 
The other two motives of conversion — fear of hell and longing for 
Heaven — have some mixture of self-love in them, and are not so pleasing 
to God as the third. Let us now consider each of these three motives 
more in detail. 

Three kinds of men are converted by fear of hell. The first kind fear 
its pains taken by themselves, without fearing the God whose penalties 
they are. These are gross and bad natures, and if they should die with 
no better mind than this, they cannot be saved. The fear of death, sure 
to come, but the time of it never known beforehand, haunts them and 
tortures them with inward anguish, and finally drives them to repent- 
ance and reform of life. Feeling that the ordinary life of this world is 
too dangerous for them, these men sometimes enter religious communi- 
ties. And their fatal error is that they think that if they but refrain 
from mortal sin in their holy order, they will surely escape eternal loss; 
that is the whole basis of their conduct, namely, to avoid mortal sin. 
All sorts of venial faults, however, they do not dream of avoiding, and 
have no sorrow whatever for committing them. Nor do they for a 
moment think it necessary to atone for their past mortal sins by true- 
hearted works of penance. No desire to advance in the practice of 
virtue actuates them, the reason being that there is little love in their 
souls. When they go to confession and perform the penance imposed 
on them, they think that they may now dismiss the fear of hell, and 
that gives them content. They thus continue cold and slothful, vain, 
neglectful, and frivolous, self-indulgent and ever seeking after superflui- 
ties ; consulting their personal advantage in everything, only limited in 
careless living by the need of keeping up good appearances. Inte- 
riorly their thoughts and affections are ruled by self-will and pride, 
holding them back against all generous impulses, meantime showing an 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 175 

exterior decency of behavior. If one opposes them, they are irritable 
and impatient. If you would advise them, they are obstinate and act 
ugly toward you. They can talk wisely, and often have good mind, 
and this they would have to take the place of virtue. If things go well 
with them, they yield to excessive joy ; if ill, they are sunk in despondency. 
They sit in judgment on other men, pointing out their defects very 
freely, and this they do by way of justifying their own. Such, then, are 
the characteristics in heart and in conduct of this class of souls. They 
are, nevertheless, on their guard against committing mortal sins, and yet 
ere they are well aware of it they fall into them most miserably. 

Such men, all content as they are with an exterior conversion to God, 
are, as we have said, found in some religious communities and are an 
intolerable burden to them. The fervent members would rather have 
savage lions and bears living among them. It is by their means that 
our mortal enemy, the devil, can work his purposes, for in reality they 
are his slaves, no matter how many holy vestments they may wear. 
But, as they are very unstable of purpose, it is always doubtful whether 
or not they will continue in the community. The evil one keeps them 
in or sends them out, as suits his ends. If it happens that they return 
to right reason and would then wish to remain in the convent, they soon 
begin to realize, that they run as much risk of grave sin and of an 
unhappy death in a religious community, as they did when living in the 
world. Then they grow doubtful and undecided, exceedingly impatient 
and distressed. And now if they have no friends who will plead for 
them with God, none to help rescue them, they will surely fall into 
deadly sins, and will finally forsake their devout associates. They say 
to themselves: When I was in the world and in my sins, I had at 
least good hopes of salvation by entering a religious community; but 
now that I am bad in spite of these holy surroundings, what is to become 
of me? Some of them, fallen thus into despair and mistrusting God's 
goodness, leave the community, and are immediately sunken into their 
former vicious conduct ; for they are too proud to reveal their tempta- 
tions to anyone, and thus they act hastily and without good counsel. 
And now they go on from bad to worse, they rush headlong into the 
embrace of the enemy of their souls, giving themselves up to every evil 
propensity, at first secretly, but soon openly, until some of them are 
beside themselves with the resistless torrent of their vices and tempta- 
tions. It may be that they escape the very worst consequences of their 
sinfulness and receive the sacraments at the point of death ; but at the 



176 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

lasi ii is ex irrmrly doubtful whether their end is good or bad. Perhaps 
an all-merciful God, will grant them an altogether unusual grace of 
sorrow and love during their last hours; then they, indeed, escape hell; 
but their purgatory will be long and bitter; thank God that it is not 
everlasting. And when Heaven is reached, their spirits will be placed 
below the least of the angels; for it was not out of love that they 
returned to God. Those who are saved, as it were, by mere compulsion 
of anguish and dread, must be content to be placed in the company of the 
least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who turn to God merely out of 
fear, and who do not serve Him for love first or last, should not enter a 
convent. It is better for them to remain in the world in some worthy 
state of life. The visitations of Providence will there chasten them and 
elevate their motives. Meantime they bring no shame on a devout com- 
munity, nor inflict any injury on its religious observance. It is a mighty 
and a difficult task to change such creatures into men of interior spirit. 
And now if this is the sad condition of men who would, indeed, keep 
out of grave sin, but yet only half-heartedly, what must we think of those 
unhappy souls who constantly wallow in wickedness, and never give a 
thought to repentance? 

The other class of men not only fear hell, but they have a lively dread 
of the fires of purgatory. They, indeed, avoid mortal sin very carefully, 
but they go beyond that ; they diligently avoid committing venial faults. 
They sigh and weep over their former wickedness ; they do painful pen- 
ance. And yet if they die in no better state of virtue than this, they 
will suffer a long and painful purgatory, for they have so far been 
actuated only by self-love and not purely by the love of God. Yet we 
must know that their purgation will be a hundred times less painful 
than that of the cowardly souls above described. But how much better 
is it to do penance out of love and not by constraint of fear only ! The 
souls we are now describing have not been loyal in all single-heartedness 
to the Supreme Good that God is ; their inspiration has not been a pure- 
motived trust in the goodness and sufferings and merits of the Son of 
God. This lack of whole-heartedness they must painfuly make up in 
purgatory ; that done and over, they shall be introduced into the second 
choir of the blessed spirits of Heaven. And one reason why they are a 
hundred-fold more generously rewarded than the others, is because they 
have left edifying examples of virtue to their neighbor. 

The third class not only fear the pains of hell and purgatory, but they 
earnestly purpose to go straight to God without any purgatory at all. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 177 

They, therefore, dread and avoid not alone grave sins, not alone venial 
sins — our daily petty transgressions — hut they anxiously watch against 
the very least imperfections. How earnestly do they not strive that the 
searching fires of purgatory shall find no material in them upon which to 
feed! To the very best of their power they conquer depraved nature, 
now by penitential exercises, again by accepting thankfully all painful 
happenings, and also by applying themselves to every sort of good works. 
These are more pleasing to God than the former class. And yet they, 
too, must suffer purgatory, for there has been a mixture of self-love in 
their motives. Their only and all-controlling motive was not God's 
honor. But their purgatory shall be much shorter, because real love 
has had a place in their virtuous lives. When their purgatory is done 
and over they shall be enrolled in the third choir of angels; namely, 
those that are specially called the Powers or virtues, for they have 
labored hard to overcome their self-indulgence. Hence their place is 
higher than that of the others. So far we have been considering only 
the first degree of conversion to God — that of souls moved by some sort 
of fear or anxiety for themselves. Of all of these it may be said that 
they enter into external bliss by the left-hand gate of Heaven. 

Another class of men are converted to God by desire of eternal glory, 
and these enter Heaven by the right-hand gate. They are in general of 
a naturally joyous disposition. To them the joys of eternal life are a 
more powerful inducement to virtue than the pains of eternal loss. If 
the happiness of this transitory life, they say, is so sweet, what must be 
the everlasting bliss of Heaven? Such thoughts draw them away from 
earthly pleasure. They readily forget the allurements of the world, and 
soon begin to serve God earnestly, moved by nobler motives than the 
other classes we have considered, whose primary motive is fear. Once 
they have turned to God and have joined a religious communitv, or 
entered some other worthy Christian state, they advance immediately 
in virtue. They not only avoid all sin, whether mortal or venial, but 
they eagerly embrace every opportunity of serving God, determined to 
become perfect. As to heavy labors or deep afflictions, nothing of all 
this can hinder them, for they are ever absorbed in the thought of 
eternity. They are very receptive of Divine grace, and grow more and 
more so every day; and if they persevere until death, they arc given a 
place among a yet higher choir of the heavenly spirits; (his is the 
reward of their great earnestness. And yet they do not entirely escape 
the pains of purgatory, for they have sought their own happiness rather 



1 ' s The Sermo ns and Spiritual Conferences! 

than the honor of God purely and simply, even though this was more or 
less the result of inexperience and inadvertence. If ever they emerge 
out of this imperfect condition, it will be by means of temptations man- 
fully resisted, and sufferings patiently endured. Only these sore trials 
can reveal to them how much they have sought themselves, and how 
unconsciously they have forgotten God as the one only motive of their 
lives. Their painful probation must be long and wearisome. It is a 
tiresome and interminable task to leave oneself, to renounce self inces- 
sant ly. It is indescribably hard to love God above one's own self, and 
to love one's neighbor as one's self; that is to say, in the meaning of 
those words when applied to a perfect life. But if they approach this 
state closely, and die in the full ardor of this love, then are they enrolled 
in the fifth angelic choir, that of the Principalities. Still, even these 
must suffer some small detention in purgatory, for their love is hardly 
quite and entirely pure. 

If before death they progress yet further in God's righteousness, suf- I 
fering many miseries and the contempt of men in a yet greater degree, 
and with motives still more purified, until at last they are unmoved by 
any and all pains and temptations, and if they finally are able com- 
pletely to renounce all selfhood, all spirit of proprietorship, O, how i 
happy are they ! Penance is perfected ; peace reigns supreme ; they are : 
masters of all temptations. And at death they are introduced into 
that choir of the angels called the Dominations. 

The third kind of conversion is that of souls who realize how very 
good God has been to them, all undeserving as they are. A powerful 
impulse of gratitude possesses them, and an admirable yearning to serve 
God perfectly and forevermore. Not knowing what to do that God may 
best be honored by them, they cry out to God in deep anguish of heart : 
saying, with St. Paul: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Acts 
ix, 6.) Ah, how gladly would I know Thy will, what I am to do or 
suffer or give up for Thy sake! O, grant me that knowledge, for I 
promise Thee that I will not spare myself any trial or pain "to- fulfill 
Thy purpose! Hell has no terrors for such souls, Heaven has no joys 
until they know God's designs with them. Deep sorrow they have for 
their sins, yet not on account of the pains of hell, but out of downright 
love of God-that love to which they know they once were faithless. 
They cannot forget their past infidelity to so good a God, and tbey are 
at a loss to find penances severe enough to offer in atonement They 
even imagine that if they had God's power over themselves, they would 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 179 

cast themselves into hell. Now, it must be affirmed of such souls, that 
God will not condemn them to any puoishment in purgatory whatsoever, 
for the reason that they have so upright a purpose to condemn them- 
selves with absolute justice, doing penance to the uttermost limit of 
their ability. If such a man had been guilty of the sins of all other 
men put together, God would forgive him everything the instant he had 
attained this state of perfect love. If he dies in these dispositions, we 
repeat that he shall have no purgatory, but shall be quickly transported 
into the seventh choir of the angelic host, that of the Thrones, for he is 
become, indeed, a throne of God and a vessel of election. 

But, supposing these men to make yet further progress in holy love 
before death, then they are placed among the Cherubim. They can 
praise God with the prophet : "My heart is ready, O God ; my heart is 
ready." (Ps. lvi, 8.) I am ready for joy or sorrow, to do or leave 
undone, according to Thy will — everything for Thy will and nothing for 
mine, in time and in eternity. And if death is yet further postponed, 
and such a soul makes yet greater progress in Divine love, then is he fit 
for the company of even the Seraphim. He exclaims, with St. Paul: 
"Who shall deliver me from the body of this death" (Rom. vii, 24) , that I 
may live with Christ? As to their neighbor, such men say with the 
same apostle, and in all sincerity : "1 wished myself to be an anathema 
from Christ for my brethren." (Rom. ix, 3.) This refers to the fruit of 
Divine grace they would help their brethren to enjoy, even at their own 
expense, and it is a disinterestedness of soul exceedingly pleasing to 
God. For now God, seeing them so ready to advance His kingdom in 
men's hearts, descends into their own in a most intimate union, so that 
the apostle's words may be made their own : "And I live, now not I, 
but Christ liveth in me." (Gal. ii, 20.) May God grant us to be thus 
converted. Amen. 



I s " The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



$m? txtib 4Mb? ^ptrttualitg (Hompnvtb 

Synopsis — Piety to men's eyes and self-indulgence to God's — Hot and 
cold by turns in endless succession; this results in final forgetful- 
ncss of God — The worst state is a false quiet of souls, cherishing 
a state of mental blindness and stagnation as that of a divine 
prayer — What supernatural quiet of soul is, as compared with 
the false and natural — The errors and delusions incident to the 
latter. 



SERMON FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT.* 

Thou shalt walk on the asp and the basilisk ; and thou shalt trample under foot 
the lion and the dragon. — Ps. xc, 13. 

Thus does the Holy Spirit address devout, spiritual men ; and we may 
use these four beasts to typify four great delusions, four subtle tempta- 
tions in the spiritual life. 

The asp, or snake, represents the devil and his more secret attempts 
to ruin the soul, which are also signified earlier in the same Psalm : 
"Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night," referring to the 
nocturnal terrors which beset beginners in God's service. 

By the second beast, the basilisk, we may understand impurity. For 
the basilisk of fable was so venomous that even to look upon it was to 
die instantly — just as the soul dies that dallies wilfully with the occa- 
sions of unchastity. Again, the prophet in the same Psalm says that 
the true friend of God shall "not be afraid of the arrow that flyeth in 



♦This sermon serves to refute all accusations made against Tauler of favoring 
false quietism. Whatsoever he says in other sermons about the passive state of 
the soul and the inopportuneness of external works in the highest contemplative 
state, is to be understood in the light of these explanations of false passivity. No 
doubt some of his expressions are in other sermons obscure and capable of being 
misunderstood, but not in this sermon. It covers the whole debatable ground ; it 
is as plain as day, and the doubtful passages found elsewhere in his discourses 
must be adjusted to what is given here, which is incapable of any meaning but 
the Catholic one. And in saying this of Tauler we say what might apply to all 
or nearly all the orthodox mystical authors, nearly every one of whom, including 
St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa, stands in need of similar adjustments and 
reconciliations of meaning. — (Translator's Note.) 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 181 

the day." He means that those who enter upon a devout life will be 
assailed by open enemies of chastity, striving first to corrupt their heart, 
and then to sully their outward conduct. 

By the third beast, the dragon, we mean love of money, elsewhere 
called by the Psalmist "the business that walketh about in the dark" — 
the specter of greed. For this ugly vice may take a spiritual form, as 
when God's truth is sold for a price by its teachers or by learned men. 
By the fourth beast, the lion, we understand spiritual pride, "the inva- 
sion, or the noonday devil." St. Paul thus describes him : "For satan 
himself transformed himself into an angel of light." (II Cor. xi, 14.) 
Under this disguise the evil one openly and grievously deceives men, 
watching till they have gone on well for a while, and then leading them 
astray by some wickedness under the appearance of good — good works 
done against good order, or fasting and vigils obstinately persisted in 
against obedience, and thereby turned into evil. 

Let us consider the significance of each of these beasts ; and first, the 
asp, or snake, a creature naturally hateful, creeping silently to its 
deadly work. This means the insinuating temptations that afflict 
devout men, who are self-indulgent in eating and drinking and lodging 
and all personal comforts. These will not tolerate a hard manner of 
living. Both to themselves and to others they are soft and good- 
natured, and in a scheming way manage to enjoy all sorts of conven- 
iences. But, like a snake, they turn venomously on those who are differ- 
ent-minded, and who hinder their self-indulgence; they condemn them 
for singularity; and, while pretending to a kindly disposition, they yet 
violate charity. They gratify every natural inclination, secretly if need 
be, ever obstinately following their own will. Because they may happen 
to belong to a devout community and can count many years of external 
piety free from gross sinfulness, they imagine that God will condone 
their enjoyment of worldly relaxations. Nearly all Christians living in 
the world are in our days subject to this delusion, and the same is to be 
said of not a few living in the religious state. But alas, they slip 
almost unknowingly into mortal sin, open or secret, doing deadly harm 
to their own souls and to those of their soft-natured associates. 

By the basilisk we may understand men outwardly spiritual, but 
interiorly addicted to impurity. In dress and manners they are 
classed as edifying Christians, but God sees that their minds are filled 
with unchaste desires. This state comes from their performing good 
spiritual exercises without the right interior dispositions. Tbe devil, 



182 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

therefore, finds the door open. They now and again fall into impurity, 
sometimes secret, even sometimes open. Notice in them that they are 
variable in their moods, and that they are keen observers of other men's 
sins. How different is a true Christian ; steady-minded, simple-hearted, 
disinclined to watch his neighbors, and drawn by God's interior light to 
an intimate union with Him — a condition wholly unknown to the other 
class Notice in them, again, a fertile imagination, dressing up their 
musings on high spiritual matters, in pretentions and winning words; 
meanwhile void themselves of inner taste for such things, while vainly 
trying to create it in others. The really devout man has an infused 
wisdom; he knows truth easily and teaches it fruitfully, all in simple 
words ; treating not of lofty and difficult things, more calculated to mis- 
lead than enlighten, but giving plain and useful instruction for an 
interior life. The false spirit is the reverse of simple; it is, besides, 
quarrelsome, and readily attacks the teaching of others, no matter how 
admirable it may be. Such men do little that is praiseworthy, for they 
are quickly wearied with works of zeal. And, whatever they may do, 
they are puffed up with spiritual pride. See the difference : The right- 
minded Christian ever blossoms out into universal love for all in Heaven 
or on earth; the false-minded has some favorite or other; but at the bot- 
tom he loves but one single man, and that is his own beloved self, whom 
he esteems the wisest and best of mankind. He would have everybody 
follow him in all he teaches and does, and no one else, and if he notices 
that you follow anyone else, he is full sure that you are wrong. He 
yields to his appetites in excess; makes little of venial sins; he is not 
fair toward his neighbor ; he has no real humility ; toward the poor and 
unfortunate he is not kind or pitying, and in his heart of hearts he has 
no real virtue nor love of God. But let us be on our guard, lest we 
look around us and judge anyone to be thus miserably placed; let us 
rather sit in judgment on ourselves. Let us fix our eyes on Christ as 
our model, who offered Himself up, body and soul, for all mankind. So 
far have we considered the kind of temptation typified by the basilisk, 
namely, that of interior and external impurity. It is rooted in a false 
spirituality, fair-appearing outwardly, but with no Divine spirit within, 
being infected with sensuality in the inner springs of life. 

The dragon may be taken to mean a yet worse condition, namely, that 
of men whose piety is infected with a sort of spiritual avarice, shown in 
four different ways. Some of these have an inordinate desire for bodily 
relaxation and creature comfort, which consumes them like a fever. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 183 

They must also know about everything, talk about everything, oblivious 
only of themselves. They encumber their souls with the care of things 
which concern them not at all ; you may distress them with any trifling 
matter; their minds teem with useless anxieties — now about this, again 
about that. All the day long they are entangled in other people's 
affairs; sleeping and waking, they are distraught with cares. All this 
may not mean mortal sin, but it is yet seriously hurtful to the interior 
spirit. 

A second kind of spiritual avarice is like a fever which returns every 
other day; that is to say, an alternation of too much fervor and too 
much indifference. It is the disease of men who, having received God's 
grace, presently feel the lack of the sweetness of devotion. Then they 
waver in fidelit} 7 , and beat about for one and then another practice of 
penance to recover it. They resolve to keep silence; that failing, they 
will try pious conversation; they resolve to join a certain order, and 
soon they would choose a different one; at one time they purpose to 
practice poverty, at another to retain their earthly goods; they plan a 
long pilgrimage ; they aspire to become hermits ; they purpose to prepare 
for holy communion, and presently forget all about it; now they will 
devote themselves to pious reading, and soon will change it for medita- 
tion. All this endless change comes from inconstancy of heart ; it results 
from an extravagant esteem for the temporal and external side of 
religion, instead of the simple love of God in all things inward and out- 
ward, for that would free the soul from all inconstancy. 

And even when the thought of God is present in such minds, it is too 
often held subordinate to that of self-chosen pious observances, and this 
is a yet worse sort of inconstancy of heart. Corrupt nature may easily 
mingle its influences with really religious ones, and that so impercep- 
tibly that they remain for a time unobserved. Such men choose now 
one, and again another confessor. They are forever seeking advice, but 
very seldom do they follow it, often quickly forgetting it. If you reprove 
them they resent it; and yet they are habitually reproving themselves. 
They have fine spiritual talk, with no interior fruit. They gladly wel- 
come praise for their virtues — even great praise for trifling virtues. All 
the good they do they publicly parade. Thus they are interiorly vain 
and empty and lack the savor of virtue. They presume to instruct and 
guide others, but to be guided themselves they will not tolerate, least of 
all to be admonished for their faults. Just commonplace self-love domi- 
nates their conduct, and hidden pride. This explains their inconstancy. 



1>» The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Thev ever tread on the brink of grave sinfulness; a single false step 
oasts them downward into hell. 

The fourth kind of spiritual avarice arises out of the other kinds, and 
is ye1 worse than any of them. From inconstancy of heart toward God 
conns forgetfulness of Him, disregard of one's self, obliviousness to all 
truth and virtue, and finally such a condition of error and doubt as to 
know not what to believe or what to do. Forgetfulness of God soon 
results in disregard of all devout practices. The least thought of 
reforming one's life is oppressive. The grossest sins are very likely to 
follow; soon it is as if God were not known at all. Nor is it easv for 
such a one to recover grace, unless it may be by taking refuge in thoughts 
of the passion and death of the ever-merciful Saviour. A man of this 
sort may stand his ground against open sinfulness, and may even make 
a career in studies, may be chosen for various offices and the manage- 
ment of business affairs, having an appearance of spirituality and 
apparent firmness of character. And all this is hurtful to the really 
interior spirits who may happen to be subject to his jurisdiction. Men 
like these are often overstrict in enforcing outward observances, and 
they are harsh to their inferiors. They love to play the master over 
others, but not to move them upward to God. They are always full of 
pride and self-conceit — true dragons, devouring all that approach them 
and resist them. 

The lion, the king of beasts, typifies the highest grade of sin and error; 
namely, spiritual pride. It means religious men, members of communi- 
ties, who follow their devout practices without having really given them- 
selves up to God. Absorbed in themselves, making the object of life 
earthly things, the end they have in view cannot be good. All men by 
their very nature seek peace and joy— good men in God, the wicked in 
themselves and in other creatures. And these last are often little aware 
how great is their delusion. Joy and peace seem to be their possession 
in a sort of natural quiescence of soul, and it becomes extremely difficult 
for them to perceive that they are blinded by spiritual pride. It is 
good, so they are persuaded, thus to rest and be content in peace and 
quiet of soul, and from this dangerous state they cannot easily recover. 
It is young men, inexperienced and unmortified, who are mostly subject 
to this delusion. They imagine this false peace to be a true and good 
spiritual condition. Now, nature cannot be content with any natural 
repose, for God alone can content us; hence this counterfeit tranquillity 
is presently an occasion of sin. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 185 

A man may, indeed, be detached and recollected from things of the 
senses, and settled in a sort of rest and quiet of mind, freed from all 
activity; but in this he has arrived at a merely natural state of tran- 
quillity; namely, that of his sensitive nature. Any man may attain to 
this without the aid of God's grace; he has but to empty his mind of all 
imaginings, and at the same time cease from all external activity. But 
no good man can continue in that mental and bodily sloth ; Divine love 
cannot rest indolent. This is but a form of self-seeking. This natural 
quiet, this resting in complete emptiness of mind and stillness of body, 
with the sole object of being at peace and unhindered by all things, is 
nothing less than sinful. It makes mental blindness and ignorance and 
stagnation the object of the soul's endeavor taken in themselves and 
separated from all good works. Such a quiet is nothing but a false 
recollection of soul, in which one forgets God and oneself and all else, 
as far as the real duty of life is concerned. 

On the contrary, the holy quiet of the soul in God is a loving seclusion 
from all things for the sake of God, and it is joined to single-minded 
contemplation of the incomprehensible glory of God. This means that 
the soul seeks this union with God by an interior activity of desire 
which never is at rest. This holy quiet is only acquired in the form of a 
longing altogether energetic, is enjoyed in an ever-burning love, and, 
when wholly possessed, it is none the less ardently and energetically 
longed for. This shows the deception in the other and false state of 
quiet, in which men by mere natural effort sink away into natural repose 
of the mental and bodily powers. They do not yearn for God; tbey do 
not seek Him with positive aspirations of love, and do not, of course, 
find Him. The quiet of soul they reach leads but to detachment from 
self, and from what by nature and habit they are inclined to; but this by 
no means is to find God. It is an emptiness of soul that a Jew or a 
heathen might attain, or any wicked man ; they have only to cease ques- 
tioning their conscience, live wholly self-absorbed, and withdraw from all 
active life — a state of quiet very enjoyable to a certain class of men. 
Taken in itself, it is not sinful, for it is only what all men naturally are 
when entirely void of active exertion. But it is far otherwise if one 
positively seeks to have it and enjoy it to the exclusion of the good 
works of a Christian life. Then it becomes sinful, and produces a state 
of spiritual pride and self-assurance from which the soul seldom recov- 
ers. Such a man imagines at times that he possesses God, nay, that he 



186 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

has beeD made one being with God ; whereas he is in reality in that state 
which is most absolutely incompatible with union with God. In this 
false quiet and false detachment, he considers that all our devout 
religious exercises only hinder him in his inner peace, which delusion is 
but in reality to resist the entrance of God into his soul. It was thus 
that the bad angels acted; for what else did they do but turn away from 
God to themselves and follow their own natural lights? That was the 
cause of their blindness; it was that which led to their expulsion from 
the light and the repose of heaven into the eternal unrest of hell. But 
the good angels, from the first instant of their creation, turned absolutely 
to God as the only end and object of all their existence, and thereby were 
granted everlasting happiness. Now, as the lion is the king of beasts, 
so do these falsely guided souls imagine themselves the masters of all 
virtues; whereas they are the worst enemies of virtue, and in God's 
sight are hypocrites. Such is the state of souls whose spirituality is 
based upon a merely natural detachment. 

This delusion leads to yet another evil, namely, a kind of spiritualized 
impurity; for spirituality without a sincere yearning for God lays one 
open to all sorts of errors and temptations. A man is herein averted 
from God and devoted to self; hence he instinctively seeks pleasure and 
solace in natural ways. 

This soul is like a merchant who thinks of nothing but gain; all his 
spiritual labors and sufferings are for his own selfish profit, which soon 
leads to seeking satisfaction in forbidden pleasures. They sometimes 
practice severe mortifications, but always in a selfish spirit and that they 
may be honored as holy men. It may happen, too, that they do austeri- 
ties with a view to the eternal reward ; self-love craves praise, and works 
for a recompense in time and in eternity. They demand great favors 
from God. and are deluded with the thought that they have received 
them, for sometimes the evil one serves their ends, thereby puffing them 
up with yet greater pride, in which they remain fast fixed, God's grace 
meanwhile being absent from their interior life. They are elated by 
trifling feelings of apparently spiritual joy, little dreaming of the real 
inner comfort their selfhood has cost them. The interior sensuality, 
the spiritual lust of our fallen nature, quite absorbs them, being totally 
enamored of self, always passionately addicted to self, seeking their own 
selfish interests in everything. None can be more obstinately self- 
willed; if they fail to get what they want, even from God Himself, they 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 187 

are almost bereft of their senses, and sometimes say and do abominable 
things. And it has happened that some have suffered themselves 
actually to be possessed by evil spirits, in order to obtain what neither 
God nor man was willing to grant them. Alas, how manifestly do they 
live in contradiction to the Holy Spirit ! How different are they from 
a good, humble Christian, who unceasingly offers to God all that he is 
and all that he has, and who can only be content with the possession of 
the supreme and incomprehensible good that God alone is ! 

Natural love and Divine love are as much alike as two hairs of a man's 
head, as far as outward activity and appearances go, but totally unlike 
in the interior of the soul. The good spirit seeks God's honor within 
and without the soul, seeks and longs for it alone, and with ever-increas- 
ino- earnestness. Natural love invariably seeks self in one form or 
another, and when it has grown so strong as to dominate Divine love in 
the soul, four vices enter into possession — spiritual pride, avarice, glut- 
tony and impurity. Such was the fall of Adam in Eden, and with him 
fell all human nature. It was because Adam made himself the object 
of his natural and inordinate love, that he turned away from God and in 
his pride contemned the Divine law. His craving for knowledge and 
wisdom was his sin of spiritual avarice; upon this followed his indul- 
gence in gluttonous eating and drinking ; and then came impurity. But 
behold Mary, the mother of God ! She recovered the grace that Adam 
lost, and a greater grace besides. Hence she is called the mother of 
fair love, for all her works of love were directed straight to God. She 
conceived Christ in her womb in all humility ; from the depths of her soul 
she offered to the heavenly Father all her trials and sufferings; she cov- 
eted neither knowledge nor wisdom ; no, nor even any virtue in a spirit 
of selfishness or avarice; she sought not any joy or solace in the con- 
sciousness of her virtues, any more than in earthly comfort; in all her 
life and in all her soul and body she was unspotted. She alone, th< re 
fore, has overcome all heretics and hypocrites. 

Out of these two illusions comes forth a third, and in every way the 
worst that can mislead men who are considered to be contemplatives. 
It is detected in their state of natural quiet and detachment; for 
they have the presumption to claim that they are exempted from the 
liability to sin; that they are united to God directly and without any 
intermediation whatsoever, understanding this in a perverted meaning; 
that they are emancipated from obedience to holy church ; that they are 
not bound by God's commandments; and that they are no longer required 



188 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

to pracl ice virtue. They justify these errors by saying that their detach- 
ment is so noble a slate, that nothing whatever must be permitted to 
interfere with it. Thus, then, they stand free from all authority, with- 
out a single good work in things high or low — as idle as a workman's 
tool waiting for his hand to take it up and use it. They fancy that if 
they do anything, God will be hindered from acting through them, and 
thus they are vacant and empty of every virtuous act. They go to the 
extent of ceasing to thank and praise God; they must have nothing, 
know nothing, love nothing, pray for nothing. They already have all 
they could pray for — such is their delusion. They think that they are 
truly poor in spirit because they have renounced all will and all proprie- 
torship, whether present or future. They have arrived, as they imagine, 
at the complete and final possession of the holiness which the church 
was instituted to bestow, and no one can give them or take from them 
anvthing whatsoever. Nor can God Himself increase their sanctitv, so 
they dream ; for they consider themselves as placed high above all pious 
practices and all virtues, maintaining that perfect detachment consists 
in detachment even from all virtue, and that men should labor more 
diligently to be detached from virtue than to acquire virtue. This 
accounts for their assertion of a false liberty and their refusal of obedi- 
ence to every authority, whether of pope, bishop or parish priest. If 
they do sometimes obey, it is only outwardly, for interiorly they consider 
themselves subject to none, either in soul or body; and they are deter- 
mined to be exempt from all church authority. They say openly that 
as long as a man strives after virtue he is still in a state of imperfection, 
knowing nothing of spiritual poverty and spiritual liberty. They rate 
themselves above all angels and men, above all human merit and faith, 
incapable of further increase in holiness, incapable of committing sin ; 
for they live, as they think, in a state devoid of the action of the will, 
in spiritual quiet and detachment so perfect as to amount to self- 
annihilation and total absorption into God. Meanwhile, what nature 
craves, that they may freely grant themselves, all without sin ; for they 
have reached the highest grade of innocence — no law can bind them. 
Hence when nature yearns for any self-indulgence, they yield without 
scruple in order that their liberty of soul may not be hindered. As to 
fast days, festivals and commandments, they pay no heed to them, 
except in order to keep up appearances ; for they are no longer guided 
by conscience. 

Let each one of us examine himself carefully, lest he may be tainted 
with these delusions. These falsely spiritual men are worse than any 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 189 

shameless sinners, even murderers, for the latter own that they are 
wicked and the others know it not. It is extremely hard to convert 
them ; sometimes they have even fallen under control of the devil. They 
are clever reasoners, and it is almost impossible to silence their argu- 
ments, except it be by the life of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy 
Scriptures — a plain mark that they are under deception. 

And now we are to consider the fourth kind of illusion which affects 
certain men calling themselves contemplatives,who resemble, but yet dif- 
fer from the class we have just been treating. This fourth class consider 
themselves as mere passive instruments of God, set totally free from all 
activity of their own. God works within them; and they have thereby, 
so they claim, more merit than others who do good works and whose 
personal activity is ever inspired by Divine grace. They call their state 
a Divine passivity. Although they do nothing, they yet merit reward, so 
they affirm, and are by no means to be blamed for their inactivity. They 
live a life of perfect interior rest in God, as they think ; and, cultivating 
a very humble demeanor, they pay no regard to anything whatsoever, 
and are quite patient with whatever befalls them — as bright souls which 
are mere instruments of the Divine will. Thev have manv points of 
resemblance with men of sound spirituality. But here is what proves 
that they are wrong: Whatever they feel themselves interiorly moved 
to do, whether it be good or bad, they are persuaded is the work of the 
Holy Ghost. But the Holy Ghost never inspires men to be idle and use- 
less, least of all, to do evil things, nor to do anything against the life and 
doctrine of Christ and His holy Scriptures. And this demonstrates that 
such men are under deception. But it is not easy to detect them, for they 
are cunning in concealing their vagaries. However, they are betrayed 
by their obstinate self-will. They will rather die than yield the least 
point of their infatuation. They are greatly opposed to those who tell 
them that they are not in a way of perfection, for they hold that they 
are in a most meritorious state. Be assured that all such men are fore- 
runners of anti-Christ, preparing the way for the spread of unbelief and 
the eternal loss of souls. 

And now let us briefly consider how we may escape these fatal snares. 
No man can be dispensed from keeping the commandments of God and 
practicing virtue. No man can be united to God in a state of detach- 
ment from creatures without having the love of God and the desire of 
God. No man is holy or can be made holy without good works. No 
good man shall cease doing good works. No man can rest in God with- 



L90 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

out loving God. No man can be raised to any state which he does not 
desire and which he does not experience. No man shall cease to do good 
works under the pretext that his works hinder God's work in him, but 
rather he must co-operate with God in all thankfulness. No man shall 
serve God except with gratitude and with praise; for God is the creator 
of all men, Who alone has the right to give and to withhold — infinitely 
rich and powerful. A man may advance in virtue and in merit and in 
the practice of religion as long as he lives; but no one will receive more 
reward than he merits, however vainly he may imagine that he lets 
God work within him while he himself rests passive. God's work is 
in itself eternal and changeless, done by Himself alone and not otherwise; 
and in this respect His work receives no increase from any creature, nor 
gains any value; for it is of God alone, than Whom there can be nothing 
greater or better. But creatures are granted by God to have activity 
of their own, and this is placed in works of nature, of grace, and, finally, 
in the glory of Heaven. And if it were possible (as it is not) that our 
spiritual nature should be totally deprived of its activity, and should be, 
as it were, annihilated in itself and absorbed into oneness with God, as 
it was in God's mind before being created ; if, in a word, a reasonable 
creature could bring about such a state of existence, then what would 
follow? Simply this: Such a man could merit nothing whatever, any 
more than he could before his creation. Such a human being could no 
more be holy nor happy than wood or stone. 

Let it be well understood, that without our own activity in knowing 
and loving God we can never be happy. What does it avail us that God 
is happy, and is so from all eternity, unless we shall know Him and love 
Him? Hence this emptiness of spirit, of which we have been treating, 
is undoubtedly a deception. But the souls thus led astray are very hard 
to undeceive, so subtle is their spirit; indeed, they are not unlike the 
souls of the damned. The damned have neither joy in God, nor do they 
want to know Him; they have neither thanksgiving, nor worship, nor 
praise for Him, and they are lost eternally. The deluded souls whom w r e 
have been considering, have only this same fate aw r aiting them in eter- 
nity, when the justice of God shall be revealed in them. 

Against them stands Christ and the example of His life. He lived 
His w r hole life long constantly loving, desiring, thanking and praising 
His heavenly Father, with Whom in the Divine essence He was most 
closely joined ; and yet He never had the emptiness of soul these deluded 
men boast of. And all the saints of God incessantly hungered and 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 191 

thirsted with love for Him, always longing to possess Him, never having 
enough of Him. The blessedness of Christ and of all His saints was to 
enjoy God, in a union beyond all power of heart to conceive or tongue to 
tell ; to attain to this has ever been the object of the striving of all elect 
souls. They worked and struggled for that as their only bliss. And 
such must be the perfection of every good man — a state of virtue which 
is measured by the extent of his love, finally bestowing on him a 
righteousness which shall never pass away. 

And how shall we be safeguarded against all such delusions? By 
adorning our lives with interior and exterior virtues, and by good Chris- 
tian living, docile in all such things to the guidance of holy Church and 
the teachings of Scripture, and constantly offering ourselves to God 
with that end in view. Thereby do we meet God with His own gifts, 
and these He makes use of to touch our hearts with love for Him, a love 
active and energetic, resulting in the fullness of fidelity to Him. And 
now we overflow with love for all mankind; and presently, entering into 
our souls, we are filled with loving thanks and praise toward God in 
our interior life, rooted fast and firm in simple-hearted peace, well 
pleasing to God. It is by a love thus active, and by God's light thus 
clear in our souls, that we are enabled to advance toward that union 
with God which is direct and without any intermediary influence, in the 
proper meaning of the words, in the enjoyment of perfect repose of 
spirit. Thus, besides, do we learn how to live a life always interior, 
readily and constantly withdrawing into our soul's depths to be alone 
with God — the truest means of acquiring and maintaining virtue. That 
we may have such a life, and be freed from all danger of delusion, may 
God mercifully grant. Amen. 



192 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



©iff 2Utfctm*ttt0 of Iferfrrttan 

Synopsis — Every man is called in a way peculiar to himself, yet all 
have a common road to travel — First, all must learn to hate mor- 
tal sin by studying Ghiist's passion — Second, all must suppress 
tin evil tendencies of nature — Third, all must adopt a rule of life 
which makes sure of needful devout practices and penances — 
Fourth, all must patiently bear the painful happenings permitted 
by providence — Perfection of both motive and act surely results 
in God's good time. 



FIRST SERMON FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT. 

For He hath delivered rue from the snare of the hunters and from the sharp 
word. — Ps. xc, 3. 

Thus spoke the great prophet and king, David, of those who give thein- 
selves up to the will and the protection of God. By the word snare, we 
must understand the poisonous temptations of the devil. And by the 
sharp word, we are to understand the day of doom and judgment then 
to be visited upon sinners : "Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlast- 
ing fire." (Matt, xxv, 41.) The man who has not often pondered these 
awful words is no servant of God; for it is by this means that we escape 
the snare and the hunter of our souls, and it is by a good life that we 
guard against the dreadful fate of the wicked. 

Now, it can be said of every saint : "There was not found the like to 
him in glory who kept the law of the Most High." -(Eccli. xliv, 20.) 
Every man called by God to repentance is called in a way peculiar to his 
own outward circumstances; but interiorly it is to one and the same 
love all are invited; they — all, without exception — love justice and 
hate iniquity. 

If we are going to serve God, God must give us His grace of conver- 
sion. And now, if you will bear a little with my dullness, I will, 
to the best of my ability, show you a plain way by which to advance 
in perfection, if you will but follow it. 

The first point is, for the love of God to renounce all mortal sin ; and 
then for the sake of both penance and perfection, to meditate carefully 
on the passion of Jesus Christ the Son of God, especially on His five 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 193 

holy wounds : Jesus crucified must a man study daily, with particularly 
fervent prayers and devotions. 

The second point is to suppress the gross concupiscence of nature, 
overcoming it from hour to hour ; and this we should do by means of all 
the penitential exercises that we can endure. For this end one should 
gladly be much alone with God. As for the rest, one must seek every 
opportunity to do good to others and practice himself in all virtues. 

The third point is this : A man must shut out all inordinate human 
love; his heart must be emptied of love of any creature in preference to 
God or on an equality with God. The better to accomplish this, he 
should make a beginning with such a desire as this : That God would 
punish him for his sins in this life by sending him suffering. And he 
should also undertake penitential works of his own prudent choice, 
lament and weep for his sins, and have at least a sincere longing to 
atone fully for them. For the better doing of all this he should adopt 
a rule of life, and begin at once, and with some severity, to hold himself 
as firmly as possible to his virtuous practices, having constantly before 
his eyes the example of Christ's humanity. And let him live in obedi- 
ence to the precepts of holy church to the very best of his ability. 

The fourth point concerns the bearing of trouble and adversity. For 
when this man has acquired some virtue and become pleasing in God's 
sight, He sends him many sorrows, both interior and exterior, and soon 
all devotional practices cease to attract him. Now is the time for him 
to be patient; he must by no means lessen his diligence in spiritual 
exercises; if all interior comfort be withdrawn, let him go right on 
without it, for thus does he become truly poor in spirit. Let him under- 
stand that now God is giving him lessons how to love, not for the sake of 
his own profit, but wholly for that of his beloved. Finally, he must 
not be actuated, as his chief motive, by the hope of reward in doing his 
good works; nor should he fear any suffering, looking upon all that as 
a form of self-love ; God's honor alone should inspire him. 

After a time such a one wonders how a spiritual man can serve God 
mainly for any reward, temporal or eternal. He seeks no interior com- 
fort in this life, nor does he advert to reward hereafter as the motive of 
virtue; no thought of his personal profit enters his mind. He wills 
simply what God wills; and this state of soul is sweeter to him than the 
thought of any recompense can ever be. May Almighty God grant us 
these happy dispositions, whereby we may escape the snares of the 
hunters of our souls, and may never hear the sharp word of condemna- 
tion spoken against us by the Supreme Judge. Amen. 



194: The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



l5>t?a&fafitup0B afl an iElrmntt af Swatum 

Synopsis — The danger in self -chosen devotional methods — The divine 
method hneds patience with delays on God's part — Exposition of 
the Cainanitish woman's steadfastness in prayer — To stand one's 
ground when hope seems gone is an indispensaole requisite for 
perfection — Disinterestedness of spirit — Example of a holy nun. 



SECOND SERMON FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT. 

And Jesus went from thence and retired into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And 
behold a woman of Canaan who came out of those coasts, crying out, said to Him : 
Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou son of David ; my daughter is grievously 
troubled by a devil. Who answered her not a word. Aud His disciples came and 
besought Him, saving: Send her away, for she crieth after us. And He answer- 
ing, said : I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel. But 
she came and adored Him, saying : Lord, help me. Who answering, said : It is 
not good to take the bread of the children and to cast it to the dogs. But she 
said: Yea. Lord; for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table 
of their masters. Then Jesus answering, said to her : O woman, great is thy 
faith: be it done to thee as thou wilt: and her daughter was cured from that 
hour.— Matt, xv, 21-28. 

Ah, dear children, this passage of the Gospel shows us the noblest, 
most profitable, surest and deepest conversion to God that a man can 
ever experience. Aud be assured, besides, that any conversion that is 
not, some way or other, effected after this manner, will be of little or no 
benefit, no matter what we may do or leave undone. 

"Our Saviour went from thence," says the Gospel. And from whom 
did He depart? From the scribes and the hypocrites. Mark well that 
the scribes were the wise ones of this world, who trusted in their own 
knowledge and went according to their own plans. Children, this 
points out the most injurious condition in which spiritual men can be 
placed; many a noble soul is in this way brought to total failure, some- 
times by one, sometimes by both of two different errors. Indeed, there 
are few who wholly escape. By scribes we mean intellectual men, who 
value everything according to the standard of their reason and the 
observation of their senses, and they have a great store of this kind of 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 195 

knowledge. Presently they are much admired; they discourse with 
beautiful and stately words. But in the depths of their souls— that 
interior source of all true science — there is nothing but an empty and 
barren waste. 

The hypocrites, or Pharisees, are those who rank themselves good 
spiritual men, and yet are full of self-esteem. Their own plans and cus- 
toms are the only rule they follow, and their one aim in life is to be 
praised by men. They hotly condemn all who venture to differ from 
them. Mark well, that our beloved Lord went forth from among such 
men as these, for they had demanded of Him : ' ; Why do Thy disciples 
transgress the traditions of the ancients? For they wash not their 
hands when they eat bread." But he gently reproved them : ''Why do 
you also transgress the commandment of God for your tradition?" 
(Matt, xv, 2-3.) So do these men of whom we are speaking value their 
own methods and practices above the interior admonitions of God's 
Spirit, condemning God's real friends because they will not be guided 
by their inventions, but prefer to be directed by the hidden impulses of 
grace. Yet these or any other kind of misguided men, should not 
be condemned openly in a monastic community, for that would not be 
in accordance with religious discipline. 

Let everyone be on his guard privately against such men. There are 
always religious men who are totally absorbed in the external side of a 
good life, and who yet interiorly are miserably held captive by love of 
created things. They have many prayers to recite, many readings of 
the Psalter. As much may be said for the poor, deluded Jews of our 
time, devoted as they are to reading the Psalms and the other Scrip- 
tures, and yet the true knowledge of God is entirely hidden from them. 
These men take the discipline, they pray and fast and watch, and yet 
God is not purely and simply the motive of any of these practices, but 
only poor, deluded human nature. All this parade of spiritual exer- 
cises is entirely directed by their self-love. This Phariseeism excludes 
the eternal God from their souls. This vineyard was never planted by 
the heavenly Father, but will be disowned and destroyed, as our Lord 
Himself declared: "He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that 
gathereth not with Me, scattereth." (Matt, xii, 30.) When the time 
of the harvest has come, then God will gather in His corn, that is to say, 
His elect; and those who do not gather with Him shall be rejected; in 
whatsoever souls He finds a harvest that He has not planted, those 
also shall be rejected. Beware, then, of the influence of this false devo- 



196 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

lional spirit. The tendency to be guided by natural motives, after the 
manner of the scribes and Pharisees, running into the excessive use of 
external and showy exercises of religion, prevails greatly nowadays 
among all classes. Many are so much affected by the spirit of the 
scribes of old, that a conscientious father confessor can hardly hear 
their confessions, so obstinately are they rooted in their purpose to 
persist in their delusion. Out of the company of such men Jesus goes 
forth, and ever will go forth. 

But whither goeth our blessed Lord? He goes into the land of Tyre 
and Sidon. Now, Tyre may be taken to mean somebody suffering from 
anguish of heart, aud Sidon, one who is hunted. Alas, dear children, 
how few men there are who appreciate the value of interior suffering 
and of interior persecution, or being hunted ! Yet nothing in the world 
is so honorable or so precious as that both these trials should meet 
together in our souls. When one has safely gone through such an 
experience, then alone can he understand what nobility of soul and what 
fruit of virtue result from these bitter struggles. 

But what do I mean by a man who is hunted? I mean that an 
interior man must insist on being always close to God as the only true 
state of his soul, and this forces him incessantly to hunt and drive him- 
self inward to God's presence in his interior consciousness. Now, this 
provokes the violent resistance of the outward man that is in us all; 
we would ever and again seek to return forcibly to the outward things 
that minister to our natural weakness. Here, then, is the conflict. 
The inner man's proper place is with God; of this he ever thinks and for 
it he ever yearns, and toward that union with God our Lord is ever 
driving and hunting him. Now, to our outward man this is always 
offensive and against nature, and he always fights against it. St. Paul 
tells of this struggle : "I am delighted with the law of God according 
to the inward man, but I see another law in my members fighting 
against the law of my mind." (Bom. vii, 22-23.) And hence the 
apostle complains that what he wills not that he yet does, and what he 
wills he is not able to do. This is the war between nature and reason, 
into which God enters with His grace, and hunts and drives both before 
Him. And be it well understood, children, that when this is rightly 
appreciated by you, then all is well; for whosoever is thus hunted by 
God's Holy Spirit is one of God's elect. 

You can easily understand, children, that from this constant hunting 
of a man's soul bitter anguish results. But when at last he is content 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 197 

to abide, for God's sake, without any consolation, then will Jesus surely 
come to him and possess him. But if he will not patiently suffer the 
anguish of the conflict between grace and nature, then will Jesus not 
come to him. All who have not experienced this interior distress and 
sincerely accepted it — even unto the very death of nature — from them 
nothing good can be expected; they are bound captive to the world. 
Sometimes such men never realize the meaning of what has been groins: 
on within their souls, for there are many trials of body and of soul 
whose end and purpose is little observed by us, and which, if humbly 
and thankfully received from God and patiently endured, will end hap- 
pily with the inpouring of Divine grace. Sometimes, again, the world, 
that is to say, our fellow-men, conspire to mislead us, and do even 
violently assail us. Add to this the cunning of the evil one, and the 
uprisings of fleshly passion, and the poor soul seems beset with fatal 
outward difficulties, while interiorly God Himself seems to oppress her 
and she is tormented b}' her naturally inordinate impulses — altogether 
a sad and bitter state of suffering. 

Children, what can this poor, belated and desolate man do that he 
may hold his own, and not be driven to extremities in this dreadful 
hunted condition? No otherwise than the Canaanitess did in her 
deep sorrow — run to Jesus Christ and call out to Him with all his 
strength: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Ah, children, in 
this hunted state of soul, there is granted a voice to utter a holy call to 
God; the answer will be the measureless joys of the interior life. Our 
prayer is a sigh of the spirit yearning for God, so deep and so sad that 
it flies through measureless space far over all the range of nature — 
straight to the Divine heart. Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit Himself that 
now assumes charge of and perfects this work in us; and as St. Paul 
says, it is His voice that pleads for us : "The Spirit Himself asketh for 
us with unspeakable groanings." (Rom. viii, 26.) And, dear children, 
when the Holy Ghost thus prepares us, no other preparation can com- 
pare with it. 

But now something strange occurs; for occasionally it happens that 
the soul's cry seems to be unheard by God. After bravely enduring 
the inner anguish and the outward tribulation, after crying aloud with 
a strength of yearning that seems to pierce Heaven itself, (hen, yea even 
then, God sometimes acts as if He would have nothing to do with this 
afflicted soul. This is the crudest trial of all. Ah, children, how deep 
must be the self-denial of that soul, and how disinterested its loyalty to 



198 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

God, if it now turns all the more resolutely to Him and relies wholly 
upon Him, and upon none other, and suffers simply and purely for His 
\ti v sake, in this its hour of unspeakable desolation! Oh! it exclaims, 
how can it be that God has shut against me the door of infinite mercy? 
And ye1 that soul remains true to Him. 

II in so it happened with the Canaanitess — as she cried out her prayer 
after Christ, His mercy seemed shut against her. And when His 
disciples pleaded for her, His answer was a cold and stern refusal: "I 
was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel." Then 
when she came and adored Him and implored Him to grant her prayer, 
He said these harsh words to her : "It is not good to take the bread of 
the children and to cast it to the dogs." To His refusal He added the 
sting of most bitter words, calling her not only an unworthy creature, 
but even a dog. Could He have dealt more severelv with her? Could 
He have crushed her down more pitilessly? And, now, what did this 
poor soul do in her agony of woe ? She suffered everything meekly and 
patiently; she let herself be hunted like a dog by the Lord her God 
according as He willed. Nay, she more than accepted his dreadful 
chastisement. He had called her a dog, she called herself less than a 
dog — avowed herself to be only a dog's whelp, a pitiful and miserable 
little puppy. By this entire self-annihilation, she proclaimed her true- 
hearted and steadfast trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. How beautiful 
are her words : "Yea, Lord, for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that 
fall from the table of their masters." 

Ah, dear children, happy is the man and holy, who can strike so deep 
down into his heart to find the will of God there. This is not a matter 
of words or of any pious use of the senses, but of truest earnestness, for 
it annihilates us in a self-renunciation deeper than anything else in us, 
human or Divine. Anguish, suffering, shame are at their worst in that 
man's soul, and yet he trusts God with unshaken constancy, and his 
confidence in the Divine loving-kindness grows stronger and stronger, as 
God's abandonment of him seems to grow 7 more certain — just as was the 
case with the Canaanitess when rejected by our Lord. The harder He 
treated her the more confidently did she beg His mercy ; and it was for 
this reason alone that she got all she asked from Him. Dear children, 
this is the right and the Divine road to true spirituality. The man that 
can thus stand his ground meekly under all God's visitations of inner 
and outer affliction, looking to nothing but God's will for guidance, 
awaiting God's time of relief most patiently — the man who will thus 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 109 

stand his ground until death without the least repining— ah, children, 
he has found the straight road to union with God without any inter- 
mediation. That road is total self-renunciation, in mind and in heart, 
in the face of God and of all creatures; the soul willingly suffering ban 
ishment from all joy, and maintaining that self-renunciation with all 
confidence in God, even to the end. To such a true and faithful soul the 
Lord will, at last, speak words similar to the ones He addressed to the 
Canaanitess : "O, woman, great is thy faith ! Be it done to thee as thou 
wilt." 

Children, I tell you the everlasting truth when I say, that all who 
tread this path will one day, without doubt, hear such words as these : 
My beloved, whatsoever thou shalt ask of Me, shall be granted thee in all 
fullness, for thou hast for My sake gone out of thyself and away from 
all that is thine, whether in mind or in body. Enter, now, into My 
inmost spirit and be joined to Me without any intermediation, to be 
made one with Me by My grace, as I am one in My nature. Children, 
such an entrance into Infinite Good, is granted only to one who has 
given up all things, all selfhood in soul and body. For just in propor- 
tion as a man gives up self in all things, so does he enter into God by 
the help of Divine grace. He that voluntarily loses all things for God's 
sake, finds all things in God. 

And now I will give you an example of a maiden whose case is like 
that of the Canaanitess; she is still living, and the incident occurred 
within four years. Once it happened that she was rapt out of her 
senses so far and high, that she seemed to behold God and our Lady and 
all the saints in their glory ; but as to herself, she seemed to be separated 
from this glorious company by an immeasurable space. And this ban- 
ishment gave her a pain so inexpressibly bitter, that it could be compared 
only to that of hell itself; for we know that the pain of hell Is essen- 
tially this — the lost souls know that they have wilfully cut themselves 
off from God and His saints, never more to see Him and to love Him. 
Our good maiden in her anguish, now humbly besought our Blessed 
Lady and the saints to intercede for her. But, alas, they were all so 
deeply absorbed in the joy of God that they could not grant her a single 
instant's attention ; her cry for relief was unheard. Then she turned to 
Jesus crucified ; she implored Him by His bitter passion and cruel death 
to have pity on her. An answer came reproving her for praying to Him : 
Thou hast never yet proved thyself worthy of the favor thou asketh. 
Upon this, seeing that neither our Lady, the saints, no, nor even our 



200 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

crucified Saviour, would help her, she went direct to God aud said: 
O Lord, O my everlasting God, no one will help me, Thy unhappy crea- 
ture, in my misfortune! And now, O my Lord and Creator, my Eternal 
Father, I humbly accept Thy righteous judgment upon me! If it be 
Thy will that this awful pain, seemingly like that of hell itself, shall be 
mine eternally, then may Thy will be done upon me in time and eternity ; 
to Thy disposal I meekly abandon myself. Whatever shall please Thee 
in me and from me, heavenly Father, to that 1 give myself up for all 
eternity. Thus did she offer herself to God absolutely and without 
any reserve. And instantly she felt herself carried away from her ban- 
ishment and absorbed, without any intermediation, in the abyss of 
God's being. And since then not a day passes but that she is again 
drawn in that manner into union with God. I am firmly convinced that 
she has never in her whole life committed a mortal sin; and yet see 
what dreadful pain she has had to suffer. Ah, dear children, what 
manifold suffering must not we undergo before God grants us that per- 
fect union with Him — we who have often offended God grievously and 
even now cling so tenaciously to created things ! Learn a good lesson 
from this pious maiden's case, who was so lovingly submissive to God's 
holy Avill that (if such an impossible thing could be) she would eternally 
endure the pains of hell, if that were His decree. 

But that is precisely what we do not do when we enter upon the 
spiritual life. We count upon making wonderful progress inside of 
four or five years. We are accustomed to say to others : Dear brothers, 
pray to our Lord for me, that I may become one of His dearest friends 
both in time and eternity. But be assured of this : If thou wert in the 
right way thou wouldst not think thyself at all worthy of any such 
honor, or of being enrolled even in the lowest rank of the friends of 
God. Therefore, sit thee down in the lowest place, as the Gospel 
teaches, for then only wilt thou be sure of being raised up higher, for 
all those who exalt themselves, will undoubtedlv be humbled and cast 
down lower. Beg God's guidance that thou mayest clearly know where 
He would place thee, both in His own sight and in that of men. Be 
content with that place and aspire to none other. . 

Children, it is in entire self-renunciation for the love of God in all 
our doings, in plenty and in want, as well in matters spiritual as cor- 
poral, that God enters the soul without any intermediation. Mark well, 
my children, that even a little drop of such virtue as this, joined to only 
a faint emotion of Divine love in the soul, is a better preparation for 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 201 

intimate union with God in our soul's depths, than if we stripped our- 
selves naked to clothe the poor or fasted upon rocks and briars. A 
single minute of this perfect self-renunciation is of more profit to a man, 
than forty years following his own religious contrivances. It is the 
most praiseworthy way to God, and the shortest; of all ways that can 
be thought of it is the easiest, and the most beneficial. O, my God, how 
many men are there forever circling about and losing the precious time 
of Divine grace, instead of going direct by this way to the possession 
of the Supreme Good, which would then be given them in a life wholly 
regenerated ! Year after year they continue oblivious to the grace that 
awaits their fidelity, as if they were lulled to sleep by their forgetfulness 
of God. After the better part of a lifetime, they still remain as far 
removed from perfection as at the beginning — a lamentable evil among 
spiritual men. Did they but recognize the injury, great and perilous, 
that they do themselves by following their own inventions and methods, 
the marrow in their bones would wither up and the blood would freeze 
in their veins. 

That we may sink deep down into the abyss of God's life, and will- 
ingly yield ourselves to His eternal decrees, grant us, O Father, and Son, 
and Holy Ghost. Amen. 



l'ol' The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



QlljUiirrn of Abraljmn: Ernt mb iFals? 

Synopsis— The test is whether self is sought or God alone in one's de- 
votion — How this is revealed in the sacrament of penance — Piety 
reckoned by observances practiced compared with that generated 
by love of God and man — The soul captured by God is interiorily 
directed straight to Him, and is patient in exterior adversity and 
pain. 



SERMON FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT. 

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him : If you continue in My word, 
you shall be My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth 
shall make you free. They answered Him : We are the seed of Abraham, and we 
have never been the slaves of any man : how sayest Thou : You shall be free? — 
John viii, 31-33. 

Upon this angry reply from the Jews, Jesus told them that not only 
Abraham, but the devil, was their father, for it was the devil's work 
they were occupied with. "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant 
of sin. Now, the servant abideth not in the house forever, but the Son 
abideth forever; if, therefore, the Son shall make you free, you shall be 
free, indeed. * * * My Word hath no place in you. I speak that 
which I have seen with My Father, and you do the things which you 
have seen with your Father." 

Herein we may distinguish between the true and the false in the spir- 
itual life. The false spirit does not seek God, but self, and that in 
everything whatsoever — personal advantage or personal enjoyment in 
all created things. And it takes all things not as leading to God or 
coming from God, but in a selfish spirit. The master and the father of 
this way is the evil one, who, when he has accomplished his purpose, 
leads his victims into his own house. They are not sons of God, but 
servants of the devil. They have been cast out of God's house and 
rejected by Him. 

The other spirit — and the only true one, because it is born of God — 
is altogether admirable and praiseworthy. It would go straight to 
God as a ray of sunlight darts down to the earth. It is as Jesus said: 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 203 

"I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again I 
leave the world and I go to the Father." (John xvi, 28.) The Son 
returns to His Father with all that He brought out from the Father. 
And that man is Christ's in word and in doctrine, who holds back 
nothing from God of all that he has received from Him — no, not a hair's 
weight. As he came forth from God, so does he return again to God. 
In this is he the Lord's true disciple, full of love and of thanksgiving 
to His Father, reserving no joy in self nor approval of self, having no 
thought and no sentiment whatever, that is not veritably consecrated to 
the Father's honor. 

But there are some in whom, together with this solid foundation, 
there is mingled a certain weakness, the soul thinking of other things 
and having other affections, together with those devoted to God. And 
this defect a man must cure by the sacrament of penance, nourish- 
ing deep contrition and performing penitential works. This requires 
that one should learn how to confess his sins with much intelligence, 
and in a very interior spirit of sorrow. The father confessor must, on 
his part, carefully point out to the penitent in what manner his dispo- 
sitions are defective— a duty very generally neglected nowadays, either 
from lack of skill or want of time ; or, as is perhaps more often the case, 
from lack of affectionate interest of the priest in the penitent. Mean- 
while the penitent should enter deeply into his own soul, and thoroughly 
search and discover what his motives are for everything he does or 
even thinks. And then, whatsoever he discovers inordinate or faulty, 
let him resolutely set to work to correct it. Let him pour out all his 
imperfections into the very heart of God, consumed with deep interior 
sorrow. By this means a man soon learns how to know himself; purity 
of heart is acquired, and fear of God. and earnest zeal of virtue, espe- 
cially to guard against future defects. And if it should happen that 
when he goes to confession he forgets some faults, he has, nevertheless, 
already repented of them fully and been pardoned. His constant and 
contrite confessions to God, should be so made as to bring him contin- 
ually in spirit before God's awful tribunal. There let him prostrate 
himself at God's feet in the deepest humility, and so remain till he is 
at least all afire with the Divine love, and melted, as it were, with confi- 
dence in the Divine mercy. O how good a gift of God is this, and how 
deserving of heartfelt thanks ! And if it happens — as, indeed, it may — 
that the soul still continues to suffer from the remembrance of past 
infidelity to God, let this be accepted humbly and fearfully as God's 
blessed will. 



204 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Many men, however, who have begun in this right way, give it up and 
exchange it for the wrong way, because they must have consolations and 
spiritual solaces. But what peace can there be between the temporal 
and the eternal? Can joy in transitory things exist in the same heart 
with joy in eternal things? Where the joys of this life dwell, there the 
joys of eternal life cannot abide. These deluded men say with the 
Jews: We are the children of Abraham; we are spiritual men; do we 
not sing hymns and read pious books and say fine prayers? Why, 
then, should we not have the comfort of created things? Do we not 
know by experience that these relaxations and consolations are not 
harmful? Are we not well-disposed and really pious men? Are we 
not always in the state of Divine grace? Dear children, listen to St. 
Paul's answer to all this : "If I speak with the tongue of men, and of 
angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a 
(inkling cymbal. * * * And if I should distribute all my goods to 
feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned and have not 
charity, it profiteth me nothing." (I Cor. xiii, 1-3.) And tell me, I 
pray thee, how can that love be called God's love, which is given in all 
joy and self-satisfaction to created things? Ah, this is a false spiritual 
way ! It is quite otherwise in the true way, in which all one's love is 
held captive to God alone. 

This captivity is twofold — interior and exterior. The interior affects 
the higher faculties of the soul, directing them so resolutely to God, 
and binding them so fast to His will, that they shall not ever resist Him. 
The external captivity to God is best shown when heavy sorrows are 
borne in all patience for God's sake. When one's worldly goods, one's 
honor, beloved friends and relatives, are all lost; ah, then poor human 
nature weeps and wails to God and to all creatures in earth and Heaven 
for relief. And this painful experience must happen to all well-tried 
friends of God. They must have their inmost soul full of God and 
their outward life full of suffering. But the outward tribulations and 
pains can well be endured, if the interior life be only fast and firm in 
its union with God. 

But, again, the inner man is sorely tried by temptations — those of 
pride, impurity, irritability, silliness, rashness and many others — as 
St. Augustine teaches: "For such is the misery of our poor fallen 
nature. O let us grapple courageously with these evil tendencies and 
ever keep God and His blessed law before our eyes, absolutely resigned 
to suffer all these trials, simply and entirely because such is the Divine 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 205 

will!" Not the slightest thing happens to us but that our heavenly 
Father knows it, and knows just exactly when and where and how it 
happens. Let us even be thankful to God that He permits us thus to 
suffer temptation, remembering that God allows the bitterest sufferings 
to fall on those whom he best loves. And this applies especially to 
those whom He has set over His people as their teachers or father con- 
fessors. Of that class, those who have had the hard lot of trial and 
temptation are the ones who are very compassionate in dealing with 
sinners. Others are not so much so, but are too often over-severe with 
them. 

Whatsoever man, therefore, shall steadfastly endure this course of 
trial repeated over and over again, has become in very truth God's dis- 
ciple. He will easily find the right path to perfection. Him the truth 
will in very deed make free from all subjection to sinful inclinations. 
And one effect of this self-renunciation will be that even his body will 
by God's grace be so freed from its weakness and fitted for all possible 
virtue, that it will become a proper companion for his soul. That we 
may thus be made God's disciples, and that we may thus be made free, 
may His blessed grace be granted us. Amen. 



206 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



3?8\xb tlir Jorus of Wxmnt Ktg^t 

Synopsis— Man's tendency to truth and joy is the craving of darkness 
for light — Hindrances the worldly spirit; self-conceit and self- 
guidance— Helps; unfeigned self-abnegation; recourse to Jesus in 
joy and sorrow alike; avowal of sinfulness; devotion to the hu- 
manity of Jesus. 



FIRST SERMON FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT. 

I am the light of the world. — John viii, 12. 

To these words of our beloved Saviour the Jews could only reply by 
reproaches and contradictious. He insisted, and continued to teach 
them that He was the light of the world and of all mankind. 

And, indeed, He is the light of the world, even of the material uni- 
verse, for He gives the sun its light, and the moon and stars; He is the 
light of our bodily eyes; He is especially the beautiful light of reason 
shining in our souls. And to this light, to God our Saviour, the source 
of all light, must the light in every creature return again or it will lapse 
into utter darkness; and He that is the light of the world hateth dark- 
ness. Now, Jesus says to thee : I am the true light, and I will give thee 
My eternal light to expel thy darkness, and with My light I will give 
thee My being, My life, My glory and My joy. He will join us to Him- 
self, as He prayed His Father to make us one with the Father and with 
Himself. He says to thee : I would that thou shouldst be in Me and 
I in thee, not simply joined, but united in one— "that they also may be 
one in Us" (John xvii, 21) ; not, indeed, by unity of nature, but by the 
mysterious operation of grace. We know that all things tend toward 
the original source of their existence, as even the rocks and the elements 
of fire and air and water. What, then, shall we say of man's tendency 
toward God his Creator— man, for whose sake God made the heavens 
and the earth and all things that are in them, so that they might min- 
ister to his wants and help him to serve his Creator the better. Is it 
not a pitiful thing that man, full of the light of reason and God's noblest 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 207 

creature, should of all creatures remain alone fettered and helpless, and 
should not return again to his heavenly origin — into the true and 
eternal light of God ? 

Let us study this matter and learn what hinders our making God the 
end and object of our life, and then what is the manner and method to 
follow to attain to our final destiny in God. 

It must be something very strong, my dear children, that can hinder 
us from gaining possession of infinite good. With one class of men it 
is this : Their hearts are worldly. They live for the joy they find in 
created things, which they intensely love. They are wrapped up in the 
sensual enjoyment of creatures, in which they wear themselves out and 
squander their precious time. Children, these men are not only envel- 
oped in darkness, but they resist the light that God is and they sin 
against it. 

Another kind of men are, indeed, in a kind of a way spiritual — at 
least as far as name and appearances go. They fancy that they have 
soared high above the realms of darkness ; but, as God sees their inner 
life, they are in reality but Pharisees, full of self-love and self-will ; 
and they are themselves the only object of all their strivings. It is not 
easv to distinguish them from the friends of God, whom thev often sur- 
pass in practicing external devotions, such as prayers, fasting, vigils 
and outward austerity of life. But if thou hast the true spirit thou 
canst detect them. Only one external difference from right-minded souls 
they all have, and that is censoriousness ; they are addicted to judging 
and condemning, especially really devout men, and, of course, praising 
themselves. It is just the reverse with those who are in the right way; 
these readily condemn themselves and just as readily praise others. 
Self-seeking characterizes the others, whether in things human or 
Divine, a defect (peculiar to the Pharisees) so deeply rooted in our 
fallen nature that it tends to influence everything we do. The men 
whose false spirituality we are considering, are as hard to change in 
this as it is to pierce a mountain of iron ; that is to say, by any natural 
influence or argument. No, children, one thing alone can overcome 
their obstinate selfhood: God must come with all His goodness and 
gain the upper hand in their hearts and thus possess Himself of them. 
But, alas, this happens but very seldom. The blame is not God's, it is 
ours ; we all too willingly admit created things to have that place and 
power in our thoughts and affections which belongs alone to God. 

A reasonable being should never give himself rest until he has 
struggled through all created things to the possession of God alone; 



_" s The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

and ii is an unspeakable misery, that the world is full of men whose 
lives show that they do not recognize this duty. God's friends are 
a til ic ted to the marrow of their bones, as they see and hear the injury 
done to God and the harm to immortal souls by men's affection for 
creatures, which is all too prevalent around them. Therefore, dear 
children, be zealous and diligent in acquiring the true spirit of detach- 
ment, for it involves a lifelong conflict. To be guided by one's own 
lighl and not by God's, is the chief cause of our not attaining to union 
with God. And, no matter how courageously we combat, the victory 
is never quite complete. There is an overmastering joy in self-guidance, 
even in spiritual matters; nature is intoxicated by this pleasure more 
than by any other; and, withal, it is deceitful, and its hurtfulness too 
often remains hidden. It was this natural self-guidance that the 
heathen philosophers knew so well and loved so dearly. In that they 
remained; they were powerless to go onward to union with God; and 
hence it was that they dwelt in eternal darkness. 

And now let us consider the true way, and the shortest way leading 
into the very focus of this heavenly light. Briefly, it is unfeigned self- 
denial joined to boundless love of God — one's own self in not a single 
particular and God's honor in all things. Let there be no crooked, but 
all straight ways in thee; whatever comes to thee, accept it as immedi- 
ately out of the hand of God, sweet or bitter, and refer it all back again 
into the same loving hand, in entire abandonment to His holy will. 
This is the straight road to perfection, even the highest. And it is this 
that gives the test, as to who are the true and who are the false friends 
of God. The latter look to self ; they accept even God's gifts in a spirit 
of proprietorship. They are far from accepting His graces in a spirit 
of self-renunciation and entire thankfulness — by no means absorbed in 
the Divine Giver, in spirit and in flesh, inwardly and outwardly. The 
former are God's true friends, because their self-renunciation and their 
loyalty to God has become a personal trait, deep-rooted in heart and 
mind. Without this a man stands in self-love, and is addicted to created 
things, and while in that state he can never see the true light of God. 

But, dear children, mark further, that the false spirit is often deceit- 
fully mingled with the rays of Divine light in the soul, and this involves 
serious peril. Many a time one cannot tell whether or not he is seeking 
to do God's will only ; and it often turns out that he has been but guided 
by natural impulses. Adversity opens his eyes; grievous suffering 
re\cals the hand of God. When trouble comes, then God's true friends 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 209 

fly to the feet of Jesus, and there they suffer in all patience, lost in His 
love, accepting every pain from His hand. And their sincerity in this is 
so deep, and their love of God so true, that presently their sorrow is 
turned into joy, because they now suffer because God wills it. 

Those whose spirit is not the right one, as soon as adversity falls 
upon them, are at a loss to know what to do and whither to fly for relief. 
They run to this one and that one for help, for counsel and for comfort, 
and are frantic even to despair. How sad to think that such men some- 
times are overtaken by death in this condition of soul. In their whole 
lives they have never sought for God sincerely, never truly loved Him — 
God is not in their souls during their last moments. They have not 
built their lives upon Christ as the only foundation, and the building 
can now only fall to the ground. Such men are worse off a thousand 
times than mere worldlings, who make no Pharisaical pretentions. 
Ordinary sinners are conscious of their evil state, and are not devoid of 
some salutary fear of God, as was the case with the common multitude 
that always obediently followed after our Lord Jesus Christ. The 
Pharisees, on the contrary, and the elders and scribes — men with the 
external show of holiness — never ceased to contradict and to oppose 
Him, and at last they put Him to a cruel and shameful death. To 
the like of these you dare not say a word, for if you try to advise them 
about their sins, they resist you violently and scornfully, or they 
instantly fly from you — just as did the Jews when our Lord wrote their 
wickedness with his finger on the ground. They will not own to their 
wickedness; but they take to flight, beginning with the oldest and the 
greatest and including the very least among them, till the precincts of 
the temple are cleared of them all. Simple and commonplace sinners 
are far more easily led back to God, because they will not deny that they 
are sinners. Many a time, while they dread that they are yet God's 
enemies, they have in reality become His friends, because their humble- 
hearted fear has brought them to the feet of our Redeemer. 

Amid all this distrss our heavenly Father has comforted us. Out of 
the love of His Divine heart for us, He has sent us His only begotten 
Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Before our eyes stands His holy life, filled 
with divinely perfect virtue; in our souls is His glorious truth; we have 
the merits of His bitter suffering, His shame, His poverty, His death — 
all given to us with unspeakable love and all for our salvation. And, 
besides, it is all given to us as an example to follow with every possible 
earnestness, inward and outward, so that we may pass out of the dark- 



210 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

ness of sin into His glorious sunshine of truth and love. And that this 
may the more efficaciously be granted to us, God has given us His holyi 
sacraments, beginning with the grace of the true faith in holy baptism, j 
and then the sacrament of confirmation; holy penance, with its deep; 
sorrow for sin, humble confession and sincere satisfaction; our Kedeem- 
precious body and blood in holy communion; and in our last 
moments the sacred anointing. All these Divine gifts has He given us, 
in order that when we unhappily fall from His grace we may the more 
readily be restored to His friendship. 

These are all helps to guide us back to God's first love for us, as St. 
Augustine teaches : "The infinite Divine light has placed a lesser lumi- 
nary between itself and us, not to hinder, but to temper the over-brilliant 
rays of heavenly influence." The great light is the heavenly Father, 
and the lesser one is the humanity of God the Son, our Lord Jesus 
Christ. Although in His divinity He is the equal of the Father, yet He 
has humbled Himself and taken our humanity, not so much to conceal 
His divinity as to temper its majesty, so that it might be possible for us 
to look upon it. For He is the true light that eniighteneth every man' 
that cometh into this world — the light that shineth in darkness and the 
darkness received it not. 

Xo man receives this light who is not poor in spirit. He is a man 
who is totally empty of self-love and self-will. But, alas, we meet with 
men not a few, who for forty years have been poor, indeed, in the goods 
of this world and yet have not an atom of poverty of spirit. In theory 
and in external observance, yes; in the depths of the soul and in all 
sincerity they are by no means self-denying men. True poverty of siprit 
is unknown and strange to them, absent and distant from their souls. 
Dear children, I beg you to bend all your energies, in principle and in 
outward endeavor, to acquire the right dispositions and to do the right 
tilings for enjoying the bright rays of God's light; for that will bring 
you back to God, the source and origin of all light. Long for it 
earnestly ; pray and strive for it incessantly with mental and vocal 
pious exercises; implore the Divine aid and that of all of God's friends 
in earth and Heaven, that you may be brought to union with Him. 
May He graciously grant us this favor. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 211 



Si)? 9mtl'0 Jfastttml lay 

Synopsis — The sacredness of longing for God's jog — Need of energetic 
purpose in spiritual affairs — Our baptismal votes bind us irrevo- 
cably to strive for God's joy alone — Community vows and rules 
are for the same end — And the joy of God is essentially in our 
soul's deeper depths. 



SECOND SERMON FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT. 

My time is uot yet come. — John vii, 6. 

And when He had said this to His disciples, our Saviour added : "Go 
you up to this festival day ; but I go not up to this festival day, because 
My time is not yet accomplished." As He had already said to them : 
"My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready." 

Let us enquire what this festival day is, to which our Lord invites us, 
and whose time it is that is always ready. It is the greatest of all 
festival days, namely, the feast of everlasting life, eternal beatitude in 
God's unveiled presence. This cannot yet be ours; now our festival 
day is but a foretaste of that eternal jubilee. It consists in the pres- 
ence of God in the interior of our souls, to obtain the joy of which, is 
the object of the seeking and the longing of all our time— the purpose 
of all work and life and love. To obtain this festival enjoyment of 
God in our souls, we must journey far beyond ourselves, we must go 
beyond all that is not God, and this must be done with our whole 
heart and in all sincerity. The time for doing this is always. 

Now, inasmuch as men naturally desire to be happy, so, however 
dimly, do they desire this festival day by an impulse of nature itself. 
But such a longing is not enough ; it by no means can be naturally satis- 
fied. We must know God better; we must seek Him for His own sake, 
and that will give us a foretaste of Him. To this happy state many 
souls would gladly attain, and they complain that they are powerless 
to do so. When they find no festive joy of God within them, they start 
to pray, and they practice other devotional exercises, trusting thereby 
to succeed in their wishes. But when they fail they lose courage, they 



212 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

lessen their pious practices, they give up or but half perform their 
good works, and in their distress they complain that they have no feel- 
ing of God. 

Now, no man should act that way. We should never relax our 
energy in well doing from any such cause, for God is really present with 
us. whether we feel Him or not. As Jesus did with His disciples, so 
does God do with us ; He comes secretly into our hearts, and where He 
is there in xery truth is the festival day. It cannot be otherwise ; God 
niusi be with any soul that seeks Him and Him alone, and that in all 
things. He may be either secretly or openly present; He is none the 
less there. And whether we are consciously influenced by Him or not, 
yet must we ever turn inward to Him, passing over and beyond all self- 
hood. This is what our Lord meant when he said: "Your time is 
always ready;" that is to say, your time to pass interiorly beyond self 
and into God. His time is not yet come; that is to say, to reveal Him- 
self to you ; leave the choice of that time entirely to Him. Without the 
faintest doubt He is with you, right there in your soul, but in a hidden 
manner ; pleased that you will think of Him as being there and that you 
will there commune with Him. Do not, therefore, relax your fervor in 
your devotions, for He will in His own good time most certainly dis- 
cover Himself to you. 

To this end serve all the pious exercises of our holy religious orders, 
and all their good works ; all sacred laws and rules of what kind soever 
they may be have this object in view: That we may make ready our 
souls to hold high festivity with God in the interior life, unencumbered 
by any other thing whatsoever. In so far as our devout observances 
minister to this, just so far are they useful and praiseworthy, and 
where they fail in this the fault is our own ; we have caused them to 
rank only with the observances of the Jewish synagogue. The Old 
Testament prescribed many things great and holy in themselves, and 
some of them difficult to perform, and yet all of them taken together 
could not bring eternal salvation ; they were one and all no more than a 
preparation for the New Testament, to which alone the gates of God's 
kingdom were thrown open. So must it ever be with external observ- 
ances; they are useful as a preparation; and, taken by and in them- 
selves, no man can find in them the Divine festival day. The Old Tes- 
tament led up to and was ended in the New, because the New alone 
reached into the depths of the soul. So all devotions and pious works 
must do, or they serve our spiritual life but little. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 213 

We have all vowed and sworn to God in holy baptism that we shall 
serve and love Him until death, an obligation from which no priest or 
bishop can ever dispense a Christian. It binds us more firmly than any 
oath taken in a human court; to break which, nevertheless, makes us 
liable to the penalties of perjury. How much blacker shall be our per- 
jury, if wilfully and deliberately we forswear ourselves to God, by giv- 
ing to creatures the hearts and souls that we have vowed to Him. 
When our holy father, St. Dominic, was about to die, our brothers 
besought him to tell them what was the distinguishing spirit of the holy 
order, the spirit that inspired him when he made all our rules. They 
wanted to know the essential reason of those external precepts, all of 
which they, like ourselves, knew perfectly well. And he gave them the 
essence of the rule : It is, said he, the love of God, humility and poverty 
both of spirit and of worldly goods. Thus he would teach us to 
love God with a whole-hearted love; that, and only that, is the founda- 
tion of all ; and then to love one another as we love our own selves, being 
subject to one another in God, in all meekness of behavior; and, further, 
to be totally void of all sense of ownership, whether of ourselves or 
of all things else except God alone, our own will no less than the things 
of this world that may lead us away from God ; all this in order that 
He may enter into our souls. God had made them in His own image, 
and He wills to take free and entire possession of them, for in that is 
placed all His content and all His joy. 

Dear Sisters, this is the whole meaning of our order. And it is 
the same with all orders, all the rules and discipline, laws and observ- 
ances, even of hermitages, as well as of every manner of living devoutly, 
no matter what its form or its name. The better they serve to bring 
God into His chosen abode, our interior life, the more useful are they 
and the more strictly to be observed. This is the meaning of our vows 
to God; this measures the extent of our guilt if we are unfaithful. If 
we fail from this point of view we are forsworn to God ; if we are true, 
then we have the very essence of our order, just as our holy father, St. 
Dominic, taught, and also St. Benedict, St. Augustine, St. Bernard and 
St. Francis. One and all, their minds were ever preoccupied with this 
one essential order, for whose sake all their outward rules were made. 
Dear children, I bid you learn this rule well and thoroughly: to love 
God and to have Him ever in view, and to love all things only in so far 
as they actually help you to that end. Keep this rule, and our Lord will 
keep with you a great and a perfect festival day. 



214 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

We must keep many rules. We must go to choir to sing and to read 
office; this we must do, whether we like it or not. Well, then, let us 
do this with a festive and joyous soul, rather than with a spiritless 
observance, dragging ourselves to the task. Let us be faithful to our 
rules in order not to forfeit the eternal festival day in Heaven. It is, 
indeed, very true that a man who lives a life free from mortal sin, doing 
nothing wilfully against God's law, will hold fast to the holy faith. 
But if you would enjoy the happiness of God's festival day in y:ur 
interior life, then, by way of preparation, you must disencumber your 
soul of everything that is not God. All true piety of life must have 
this for its single purpose : That nothing whatsoever shall taste good to 
thy soul but God alone, whether in thinking or in loving. Such is thy 
glorious vocation; for that alone has God called thee into tbis order. 
For that has He called thee away and freed thee from a deceitful, 
wicked world, and drawn thee into this holy penitential life; because by 
our sins we are by nature children of wrath and of everlasting death 
and damnation. St. Augustine says : "Man is formed of ccirupt mate- 
rial, as if he were made of rotten wood and vile earth, and his end is 
eternal death." Then, for his salvation, there is granted him a life 
of penance, the same to which God has called you, by no merits of yours, 
but only by His free and loving gift 

And what is that life of penance in very truth and in its essential 
quality? Nothing else thaii a whole-hearted turning away from all 
that is not God, and an equally sincere turning to all that leads to God 
and means God. The more one answers to that requirement the more 
penance he does and the better. In this spirit, dear children, must you 
gladly thank God that He has called you to this order. Your vocation 
should fill you with confidence that He will linallv brinsr vou to His 
holy company for all eternity; for He has gathered you together here 
out of a deceitful world, that He might make you His own chosen 
friends and spouses, and introduce you into most intimate union with 
Him. It is the plainest sign that God is present in us, when in our 
early youth he has visited us by our vocation and touched our young 
hearts with His love. We were by nature inclined to worldly joys, 
and yet we bridled our appetites and passions, we turned away from 
the world and all created things, and we followed after God. What if 
we have no great sensible feeling of devotion, nor lively consciousness of 
God's indwelling presence! This one fact stands plain : I gladly suffer 
pain for His sake. Now, that could not be if God were not with me, in 
however hidden a manner it mav be. 



i of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 215 

O, dear children, bend all your energies to make sure of the enjoy- 
i ment of the Divine festival day in your souls, when God shall manifest 
Himself to your inner perceptions. Let all prayer and work of yours 
minister to preparation for that close, personal possession of God ; for 
in any other way you cannot feel that you possess Him. He who pos- 
sesses God in that true way, him also does God possess, and never does 
He allow him to leave His holy presence. Is not this a happy lot? Is 
not this the soul's festival day? Is not our life blessedly happy when 
we are thus in God and God in us, as well in time as in eternity? May 
God grant us this. Amen. 



210 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Bearing attb BUrtittuj far (Effriat 

Synopsis — The way of Christ is that of His disciples: self-immolation 
and obedience to the Father— This is His teaching; how we hear it 
with the hearing of the heart — How Christ's word affects the vari- 
ous powers of the soul — Hearing His word with an inferior hear- 
ing, and the good that may come of it — Bleeding for Christ is by 
prudent, penitential works by suffering patiently all of life's ills, 
and by sadness for Christ's sake at the sight of sin — A joyful 
bloodshedding is granted in the bliss of divine interior union. 



FIRST SERMON FOR PASSION SUNDAY. 

He that is of God heareth the words of God. — John viii, 47. 

I beg you, my dear children, to give me your close attention, and to 
turn your hearts and minds to this discourse, which will show you your 
present state of soul, and instruct you what to long for and what to 
strive after. Our Redeemer says : "He that is of God heareth the words 
of God. Therefore, you hear them not because you are not of God." 
And then He added : "If any man keep My word, he shall not see death 
forever." 

Children, this is the time of year when we contemplate the holy pas- 
sion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let none of us now give himself up to 
rest, but rather let him open and read this holy book of Calvary, in 
which he will find all comfort and all truth, all knowledge and all gift 
of counsel. Be well assured that whosoever knows bow to study the 
precious book of Christ's passion, is rightly learned and understands all 
books whatsoever. And whosoever cannot do so walks in twilight. Let 
our rule and our pattern be the life and death of Jesus Christ, whom 
we are called on by God to follow. Therefore does St. Paul teach us 
in today's epistle : "But Christ, being come an High Priest of the good 
things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with 
hands, that is, not of this creation ; neither by the blood of goats, or of 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 217 

calves, but by His own blood, entered once into the holies, having 
obtained eternal redemption." (Heb. ix, 11-12.) Children, let us 
follow right after this our High Priest, as you were exhorted to do yes- 
terday. Let us seek His honor alone in all things, and with all our own 
heart and mind. 

Our beloved Lord, our High Priest, has gone before us with both the 
higher faculties and the lower ones of His nature. With the high 
powers of the Divine nature, to which He was united, He never ceased 
to regard the entire race of mankind and all their words, works and 
thoughts. He never lost sight of any one of the human beings made by 
His heavenly Father, and all the happenings of their lives, whether 
past, present or to come. He heard the word of God that 1 now speak 
to you. He saw all our faces here, looked into our deepest souls and 
saw all our thoughts and all our inclinations, with every one of the 
differences that characterizes us. And all this, even of the entire race, 
did He offer up to His Father, from Whom He had received it all, not 
excepting the very least thing; for in everything without exception He 
sought but the glory of His Father. Now, in this our Lord's return to 
His Father of all that was His, His true friends should faithfully imi- 
tate Him. They should not make an exception of a single gift; no, not 
the very least; but they should give back to God for His glory alone, 
even though it may be a painful thing to do, everything whatsoever that 
is theirs, making no reservation at all. 

The other way in which our High Priest has gone before us, is that of 
His inferior or human faculties. And this is the way of His practicing 
all virtues, especially that of suffering so bitterly for sins of which He 
was wholly guiltless, because He was determined to seek His Father's 
glory. It was for this cause that He patiently bore the persecutions of 
the Pharisees — men who esteemed themselves righteous. So must all 
of Christ's followers suffer pain, especially those who have sworn and 
vowed to seek Him and serve Him, suffering, as they must, from the 
persecution of those who have fallen away from Him. The followers 
of Christ seek after nothing, keep nothing in view in their conduct, but 
God. They do not confine themselves to particular ways of serving 
Him, but in every way that is God's, and always as He guides them do 
they go forward, making no choice for themselves. It is for this reason 
that they must suffer from those who seek themselves, and will hear of 
no way of serving God except their own chosen way. These do not 
understand men who, not in any particular or favorite way, but in any 
way and in all ways whatsoever serve God. 



218 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Notice thai our Lord said: "He that is of God heareth the Word of 
God." St. Gregory comments on this in a lesson of this day's matins, 
bidding every one of us search his conscience as to where he stands and 
to whom he belongs, and whether or not he hears God's Word with the 
hearing of the heart. God commands us to cherish thoughts of our 
heavenly fatherland, and to banish the concupiscence of the flesh, and 
to shun the honors of this world. Hence, insists St. Gregory, each one 
should examine whether it is his heart that hears and heeds the Word 
of God ; for, he says, there are some whose lives are so unworthy, that 
they are incapable of interiorly understanding God's word, and are 
hardly able to listen to it with their bodily ears. 

God spoke two words for men's hearing: First, the heavenly Father 
spoke His eternal Word in the Godhead itself. How closely the human 
soul is related to that Word in that life of the soul which extends 
beyond space and time, no human understanding can grasp. The soul 
of man is exceedingly close to God and kindred to Him in the soul's 
deepest depths, hidden in that inner and Divine stillness. There it is 
that the heavenly Father utters His Word, a hundred times quicker 
than the twinkling of an eye. There that Word is understood, more 
plainly or less, in proportion as the interior ear of the soul is turned 
more or less intently to listen, in proportion as the soul abides in 
greater or less interior quiet and union of spirit with the Word. 

But however deeply hidden in the soul that Word may be, it yet 
rises and spreads upward and outward into those powers of the soul 
that are above the imagination; that is to say, into the will and the 
understanding. Therefore might God say that His Word was not His, 
but ours as well as His. Now, when the will is made aware of the 
Word within the soul, it quickly starts up, but does not know what it 
has heard. And then it exclaims : I do not know what I should do, or 
whether I should do anything. But the understanding now comes to 
the aid of the will, for it also has heard the Word, and it says to the 
will: Follow me carefully, for I can teach thee and guide thee. And 
the understanding forthwith teaches the will what to do and w r hat not 
to do. And then the Word is sounded within, deeper and farther; 
namely, into the soul's power of desire, teaching the soul detachment 
from all created things that can hinder God's work in it; teaching 
temperance in the use of all things innocent; not in restraint of nature's 
real necessities, but of superfluities. And then the Word is heard in 
what philosophers call the soul's irascible faculty, the faculty by which 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 219 

a man resents and avoids what is injurious; herein the Word teaches 
us patience and meekness, virtues which more than any others will 
transform thee into what God would have thee. Search thy soul dili- 
gently as to what effect God's Word has had on thee, first in thy inner- 
most soul, and then in its different powers. This will be a sign to thee 
as to whether thou art of God or not, as truth itself has spoken : u He 
that is of God heareth the Words of God. Therefore, you hear them 
not because you are not of God." 

How shall one continue in this W T ord, that he may always hear i t and 
understand it? The first way is fouud in the interior of the soul, where 
it hears the Word in a state raised above time and space. Does the 
soul there obey the Word with inward detachment of spirit? That is 
the question. Those noble souls whose external life has been well 
trained in devout practices, never, as long as body and soul hang 
together, consider themselves well enough advanced in virtue. Such 
a one the moment he hears the Word spoken within him, must draw in 
to his interior consciousness all his exterior faculties, and, soaring 
above space and time, he must direct his gaze into eternity. Thus says 
St. Augustine: "When a man's interior spirit is turned toward 
eternity, forthwith he has nothing to do with time." Even the active 
life and that of the senses, to such chosen spirits as these, is almost 
wholly raised above this temporal existence, and it is only those who 
have arrived at this state, who hear the Word and receive it in their 
interior souls. As to the others, they hear the Word in their less 
spiritual, that is to say, their inferior faculties. Their response is 
given by a service of mortification and suffering, totally submissive to 
God's visitations and good pleasure. Yet be cautious; be not impru- 
dent; thou are not allowed to overburden thyself. But yet bend thy 
back obediently under all afflictions coming from God, whether direct 
or through men, suffering with all willingness, as under His chastening 
hand. Carry all burdens back again to Him. Lay every sorrow at ITis 
feet with unfeigned gratitude. Our High Priest has not entered in 
without the shedding of blood; He shed His blood for us; nay. He 
poured it all out most generously; and there are four ways in which we 
can shed our blood for Him. 

The first is by true penitential works, both of the spirit and of the 
flesh. When a man has departed from God by his disorderly pleasures 
and his indulgence in this world's joys, he must turn back and away 
from such things and wean himself from them, turning now to God; 



•j L >n The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

and this is the essential thing about true penance — a true turning 
away from sin and a true turning back to God. This is, indeed, to shed 
one's blood; and it is hard and bitter in proportion to the joy we have 
had in creatures while we were turned away from God; our blood is 
now spilt in the death struggle against sin. As one begins this combat, 
his body is fair and strong; if his penance is genuine, his blood is 
gradually consumed in God's service, and his body becomes pale, weak 
and crippled. 

The second bloodshedding is in the outw r ard senses ; for these are so 
tamed by penance, that their disorderly use dies out of a man, and 
pleasure in such things as are heard or seen quite ceases; a man then 
readily constrains himself to look and listen for inward joys alone. 
Part of this bloodshedding, is in the persecution God's friends suffer 
from those who live without taking God into account, and who pierce 
them through and through with their ill-treatment. This affliction, if 
they cannot escape it, they must suffer with all mildness. And now a 
question is asked by strong-souled men, at once pious and bold, but 
overeager in their own opinion : Should we avoid, should we endeavor to 
escape, any suffering that overtakes us? As to themselves, they never do 
so, for they are not rightly guided and do not know from what and when 
to fly, for their souls are full of impressions which have entered in from 
the outward world. But the true friend of God knows well what trials 
to fly from and how r long to avoid them. For example : As often as my 
presence wounds my neighbor's sensibilities rather than helps to sanc- 
tify him, then I must leave him. How bright an example have we in 
our beloved Lord, as we have several times read in the lessons of this 
week, as He repeatedly fled from among the Jews and hid Himself ! 

The third bloodshedding is a great one. It is that God's friends must 
stand by and behold their God, whom they love better than life itself, 
grossly dishonored by His creatures, the very souls whom He purchased 
at so dear a price. Sometimes it seems to them — O, what agony ! — that 
the whole world cares nothing for God or ever thinks of Him, not only 
laymen, but sometimes even clergymen dishonoring Him. This is a 
two-edged sword, and it cuts through their very heart and soul. They 
love their neighbor most sincerely, and literally as deeply as they love 
themselves, and here they behold them doing themselves deadly injury 
and caring very little about it. One longs to cry out : If thou art bap- 
tized a thousand times, and if thou wearest a hundred different religious 
garbs, it all avails thee nothing if thou dost those things that are not 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 221 

right. It is cause of the deepest sorrow that holy Church, God's blessed 
flower garden of virtue, is in many lands laid waste by such evil men. 
And it is a fortunate thing that so many of God's friends are not father 
confessors, for their hearts would be broken with the knowledge of this 
misery. 

The fourth bloodshedding is very delightful. It happens when God, 
the Supreme and Blessed Good, takes possession of the soul in its inner- 
most being, withdrawing it from its own self and from all created 
things and fixing it in Himself most blissfully. Then does a man at 
last behold the infinite and most sweet Good that God is, that no 
created being can fully comprehend. Then does he know that all the 
praise and love that is due to the saints and angels, is as nothing com- 
pared to the glory that is due to the Being that is now present to his 
soul. Ah, when the spirit of a man thus learns the superessential 
infinity of God, how utterly sinks away out of his sight the pettiness 
of self and of all creatures! Now, at last, he is able to say: I hold 
back nothing from God. The soul stripped of everything that is not 
God, is immersed in the abyss of the Godhead ; self-existence is lost and 
gone, as it were, and the soul dwells in God alone, and God, in turn, 
loves and praises the soul and has His delight in it. This blood- 
shedding, — is it not, indeed, delightful when the creature is thus im- 
mersed in God the Creator? That we may all attain to this happy end, 
may our good God grant us. Amen. 



L'L'i: The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Synopsis — The sin of disliking spiritual doctrine — Desire of perfection 
is in itself a grade of perfection — Contentment with present spir- 
itual conditions is apt to be sinful — Unrest is often a sign of vig- 
orous spiritual health. 



SECOND SEEMON FOE PASSION SUNDAY. 

He that is of God heareth the words of God. — John viii, 47. 

Dear children, although you may not live up to God's word, yet you 
should none the less hear it, and then you should speak about it. For 
as long as you continue to love it and wish to possess it, it is in a way 
yours, and you will yet be made eternal partakers of it. We meet with 
those who turn away from high spiritual doctrine, because they cannot 
comprehend it, and they think they have no concern with it; and at 
last they have an aversion either to speak about it or hear others do so. 
I have no notion of these things, one will say, and it is best that I have 
nothing to say or hear about them, for I am better without them, and 
so I wish to remain ; and then they even try to turn others away from 
high spiritual thoughts, as if they, too, had better avoid them. But 
meanwhile, though pretending to be well satisfied with their own way, 
they know in their hearts that it is not the best. All this indicates 
plainly that they will never reach their best interior state, nor partake 
of the infinite Good, except God leads them through a season of grief 
and mental trial. 

St. Bernard says : "O man, dost thou yearn for a noble and holy life, 
and dost thou beg this favor of God? If thou dost, then persevere faith- 
fully in this state of soul, and thy prayer shall be granted thee a single 
day, yea, even one hour before thy death; and if God does not grant it 
thee in this life, then all the more surely will He do so in eternity in 
union with Himself." Therefore, never give up thy hopes and thy 
prayers because they are not immediately heard and fulfilled or are 
heard only for an occasional moment. And be not disheartened because 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 223 

this holy purpose easily escapes from thy mind. To lose it totally were 
a great misfortune, hut that shall not, Ave hope, be thy sad lot. When 
thou hearest God's word cleave fast to it as if for all eternity, resolve 
to keep it and live by it forever and ever, sinking it deep into thy soul. 
It may happen that thou shalt afterwards quite cease to think of it ; but, 
for all that, the love of it and the longing to observe it with which thou 
didst first receive it, shall always shine brightly in God's sight, and in 
His own good time lie will make His word efficacious for thy eternal 
welfare. 

What we can actually do may not amount to much, but we can always 
desire to do great things. A man may not play a great part in act, but 
he always can have great good will; and whatsoever he would wish to 
be, supposing that his whole heart and soul and mind are in his wish, 
that as a matter of fact — in some true way, at least — he actually is. 
We have little strength to do, much strength to desire to do, and that it 
is that constantly grows within us, and finally goes forth from us into 
the heart of God. Of course, we do not mean that a man should idly 
dream that he would like to be equal to such or such a saint or angel, 
but simply this : I long most earnestly to give myself entirely and 
exclusively to God — to God alone. If a man cannot be God's as much 
as he would gladly wish to be, yet let him be as much God's as he can be. 
Whatever a man is, let him be that to God wholly; and what be cannot 
be to God, let him wish earnestly yet to become, by God and in God. 
And it may well happen, that we have God more in this state of priva- 
tion than in some states of possession. Therefore, be thou God's man ; 
wait patiently on God; hold God to thee and in thee and with thee; 
nothing will now ever go wrong with thee. 

Do not for a moment suppose that our Lord God will grant thee 
special favors, such as perfect spiritual contentment, enlightenment or 
warmth of love, as He sometimes does in the beginning of conversion. 
That thought is only a sort of alluring snare, such as the falconer uses 
to capture his hawk. Our Lord deals with His own thus: First, He 
teaches them, and then He lets them work for themselves. .lust as He 
caused Moses to make his tables of the law after the pattern He Him- 
self had set. So God allows a man to stand by himself, and, having 
awakened, enlightened and attracted him, after a time he does so no 
more; He leaves us now to utilize His graces. We must arouse our own 
slothfulness, awaken our consciences and perceptions, light up the fires 
of energetic action, and serve God diligently at our own cost. While 



224 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

children are yet quite young their father helps them in everything, giv- 
ing them all that they need and turning them out to their play, happy 
and contented and well provided for — all at the father's expense and 
care. When they are grown, he gives them a share of his property and 
bids them care for themselves; all playtime is now over and done, and 
they must learn how to become rich men by their own exertions. 

God treats us the same way. The beginning of a devout life is all 
joy and sensible devotion, for He is now alluring us by His gifts. 
He so manages that we find His will in everything that we do ; His will 
coincides with ours entirely. But presently all this is changed. Now 
God insists that we shall give up our own will in spite of ourselves ; in 
fact go against our own will — a very hard and unpleasant task, indeed. 
We must learn to suffer; and, besides, we must grope along in the dark; 
and, although we are quite willing, yet it is not by our natural will, but 
in spite of it, that we yield all guidance to Him. Thus did our Lord 
prophesy to Peter: "Amen, amen, I say to thee, when thou wast younger 
thou didst gird thyself, and didst walk where thou wouldst. But when 
thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thv hand and another shall 
gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not." (John xxi, 18-19.) 

Thus in the beginning we fettered ourselves with God's will by the 
help of His loving and sweet influences, and we went by His leave 
whithersoever we would, our will and His being perfectly in harmony. 
And now it is altogether different; He will bind us all unwilling and 
lead us whither we do not want to go. Against all our natural incli- 
nations He will lead us by dark paths into Himself. This He will 
continue till He has stripped us of our natural will, wholly brought it 
under subjection and totally consumed it. His purpose is that finally 
to will and not to will shall not any longer be considered by us, nor 
giving and keeping, nor having and lacking. The end will be to forget 
all things created, and let them go from us and let them stay away from 
us, and, instead, to accept and possess God alone, to have Him alone in 
all joy and sorrow. We become most dear children of God only when 
neither happiness nor misery, pleasure nor pain can keep us back from 
God. W T hat all this means in the soul cannot be described, but this 
much is plain : It is incomparably better than if one were all afire with 
devotional sentiment, accompanied with a lesser degree of thorough- 
going self-renunciation, having more self-chosen spiritual methods with 
pious feelings, and at the same time less true-hearted loyalty to God. 
May God help us to the better state of His love. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 225 



Synopsis — One is the way of public shame; another is by a call to 
extraordinary penances, accompanied by deep humility — Herein 
is danger of self -righteousness. 



FIRST SERMON FOR PALM SUNDAY. 

It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people. — John xi, 50. 

St. John adds that Caiaphas spoke not of himself when he said these 
words, but that he was moved by the Holy Ghost to prophesy ; and you 
will notice, dear children, that this last prophesying was just before 
our Saviour's death. The chief priests had said : ''What do we, for this 
Man doth many miracles. If we let Him alone so, all will believe in 
Him, and the Romans will come and will take away our place and 
nation." Children, let us admire the deep and unspeakable love of 
Jesus for us, shown by the wonderful sufferings He endured in all His 
powers of body and of mind, in His inner and in His outer life. 

Now, children, many men enquire for the shortest road to the highest 
truth. Mark well that to answer this our Lord calls three kinds of 
men to perfection. One kind He calls to suffer public humiliation, in 
order that they may turn to God and maintain entire purity of inten- 
tion ; and such as these, if they but accept their lot humbly, will experi- 
ence wonderful effects of Divine grace. To our outward senses such 
souls may seem deserving of condemnation, for appearances are often 
against them. But if we do condemn them, we shall only hurt our own 
selves. 

Another kind of men God draws to Himself by works of penance. 
But let us ask, What is true penance? It is, for example, that when a 
man would gladly talk, he yet, for God's sake, keeps silence ; and when 
he would with much pleasure enjoy looking at something or indulging 
any of his other senses, he yet will not allow himself to do it, but, for 
God's sake, shuts himself away from it. The third kind of men our 
beloved Lord draws by His own self. 

Mark this well, children : Every man must die if all shall go well with 
him. And what "man" do we mean bv this? We mean a man's own 



226 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

will, his spiritual sense of proprietorship; that is what must die. And 
to what tilings must a man die? Be assured of this, children : If thou 
hadsi suffered all the pains of the martyrs and of the other saints, and 
hailst done the good that all Christendom has done or shall do to the 
end of the world, unless this has entered into thy soul and has done its 
work within thee, it will profit thee nothing, and thou hast not died to 
thyself; no, nor unless thou hast wholly renounced everything to which 
thou hast cleaved for thy own satisfaction. 

And what sign shall a man have, that he has thus spiritually and in 
very truth died? Be it known to thee that if thou wert dead and 
raised to life a thousand times over, and if thou hadst fed daily only on 
rocks and thorns, and been broken on the wheel, yet all this would not 
be the true sign of dying to self. But rather this, and this alone : If 
thou hast bowed thyself down beneath the infinite mercy of God with 
all humilitv and self-renunciation, vea, and under the feet of all crea- 
tures, then know for certain that Christ, entirely out of His loving kind- 
ness and compassion, has granted thee His gift. 

And here shines forth Christ's teachiug: "So you also, when you shall 
have done all these things that are commanded you, say : We are 
unprofitable servants." (Luke xvii, 10.) And if it should happen 
that a man comes to the end and expires fixed fast in his own will, 
then the Romans shall come and take away his place and nation. For, 
as the Empire of Rome was the greatest power in the world, so is 
spi ritual pride the greatest among all the vices, holding possession, as it 
does, of the very highest powers of the soul — those that God alone 
should possess by His grace. It is this terrible enemy, pride, that 
destroys the whole virtue of a man in all his powers, from the highest 
to the lowest, as the Romans smote and destroyed the Jews. 

Children, be on your guard, for there are many men who seem to be 
something wonderful, and who, with all their great knowledge and fame, 
go astray from this one only way to God. As long as self-guidance and 
self-will rules in us and is not exterminated, it will go right onward in 
its fatal course, till all that Christ has done within our souls is destroyed. 
How many men are there not — men of fair appearance spiritually, and 
with whom God in the beginning worked wonders — who have, neverthe- 
less, finally failed? It was because they did not accept this truth in 
single-hearted sincerity, but rested upon self, inwardly and outwardly, 
in mind and body. Look at King Solomon as an example of this ; God 
once spoke familiarly with him. Look at Samson, who received God's 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 227 

messages by a holy angel. And upon both of these fell God's wrath 
and condemnation, because they were nol willing to die to themselves 
in spirit and in act, as they ought to have done. They rested and dwelt 
on God's gifts for their own self's sake; they took His favors with a 
sense of personal ownership, and with unbridled enjoyment of them; 
and they failed in thankfulness to God. And now how stands it with 
them in the final judgment of the Most High? Holy Church knows not 
whether they are saved or lost, and we must blindly leave them to the 
goodness of God. 

And now come yet another class — men rich in the treasures of their 
own natural understanding and puffed up with self-importance, and 
they would boast that they have acquired all spirituality. No, children, 
their spirit is false; go not after them. For all that our poor fallen 
nature gives, it exacts again; and what Christ gives, He also exacts 
again. Yet these men often seem to bear pain more courageously than 
really spiritual men, to whom they speak and say : God have mercy on 
us! What an unmortified man art thou! Thus they mock a man who 
is really mortified in spirit as well as in outward behavior. But some- 
times these really good men do not appear mortified, for God grants 
them, as a sign of their genuine and interior self-denial, the grace of 
being cheerful and hopeful toward God and toward all men, good and 
bad ; they are gentle and kindly and happy in their manners. Creatures 
can neither give nor take, in their case; for what they long to possess, 
namely, God's holy will, that they ever have, whether in pain or ease, 
weal or woe. That alone they desire in time and eternity, whether, they 
reckon for themselves or think of created things. Children, waste no 
time with self-righteous men, led only by reason's light. About them 
Christ has taught us: "Every plant which My heavenly Father hath 
not planted, shall be rooted up." (Matt, xv, 13.) This fate is visited 
upon them because they will not repent and turn to better ways. Thor- 
oughly good men, on the other hand, are instructed by the example of 
our Lord in the garden. When His bitter agony came upon him, He 
sweat blood, so great was His anguish of soul; and in this awful pain 
of heart did He continue, till He lovingly gave up His life for us. 
Every man must do in like manner. He must suffer death in soul and 
body, in what he does and what he leaves undone. Children, learn our 
Saviour's lesson : It is to give yourselves up to all suffering for His 
sake; it is to be wholly subject to God and to all His creatures, even 
unto death, both in spirit and in body. God grant us this. Amen. 



l'l's The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



OIljriBt'B (Ulrattrntuj of tty ufcmpl? nf tlje £>xml 

Synopsis — Who are the traffickers— All who deal with God not purely 
out of love — Danger of counting too surely on a recompense for 
virtue — Beauty of holiness all freed of mercenary motives — Reve- 
lations of Jesus to a soul devoid of selfhood. 



SECOND SERMON FOR PALM SUNDAY. 

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and 
bought in the temple. — Matt, xxi, 12. 

And when Jesus had done this He spoke to those who sold doves and 
said : "Take these things away." It was His will to cleanse His temple. 
It was as if He had said : I am the owner of this temple, and I alone 
shall dwell in it and be master of it. 

And what is this temple in which God alone shall rule with all power 
and according to His own will? It is man's soul, which He has created 
in close resemblance to Himself, according to His word : "Let us make 
man after Our image and likeness." (Gen. i, 26.) And this likeness 
of man's soul to God is so close, that nothing else is to be compared with 
it for close resemblance to Him in Heaven or on earth. This is why 
God will have our soul free and clear of everything but Himself alone, 
and when that is done He is well pleased to make His abode there alone. 

Who were those that bought and sold in the temple, and who are they 
that do so now? And take notice that I am to speak only of those 
buyers and sellers in the temple who are good people, and who are never- 
theless scourged out of His temple by the Lord; not gross sinners or 
such as are consciously in a state of mortal sin ; and yet they are buyers 
and sellers. They are souls who, indeed, guard against grievous sins, 
and would do good works for God's glory ; they fast and pray and keep 
vigils and do other good things. But what is their motive? It is that 
God would in return do good things to them, bestow on them the favors 
thev wish. Thev are, therefore, self-seekers; thev are merchandisers 
with God, as anyone can see. They give that they may get. They 
must traffic with our Lord. And meanwhile in all their trading with 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 229 



God they are self-deceived. For what is there of all they possess and 
trade with but God has given it to them? God owes them nothing, no 
matter what they may give Him or do for Him. Whatever they are, 
they are from God; whatever they have, they have from God, and are 
nothing and have nothing of themselves. 

Hence I say again, God owes them nothing for all they may do for 
Him or give Him. He has given them all they have willingly out of His 
free grace, not on account of their works or gifts. They have nothing 
of their own to give Him ; no power of their own bestowal wherewith to 
work for Him, as Christ says: "Without Me you can do nothing." 
(John xv, 5.) How dull and foolish are such men. to think that they 
really trade with the Lord ! They perceive the truth of Divine things 
scarcely at all, and hence the Lord scourges them out of His temple. 
Light and darkness can have no fellowship. God in His very essence is 
truth and light, and when He enters His temple He drives ignorance 
and darkness out of it, revealing Himself in all His brightness. When 
truth enters in and is recognized, then trafficking must go out; truth 
can tolerate no trafficking with God. God is not selfish, but in all His 
works He is free, being directed wholly by perfect love. And thus acts 
every man who is united to God. In all that he does he is free and 
unselfish, acting purely from love, never asking why and wherefore; 
that is to say, never seeking his own, but only God and His glory ; and 
in all this God is working in him. 

And let me insist: As long as a man in all his good works seeks or 
desires as his controlling motive what God may give him as a recom- 
pense, so long is he like the traffickers in the temple. If thou wilt be 
quit and done with all such trafficking, then do all the good that thou 
dost for God's praise alone, and stand as entirely free as if there were 
to be no return made thee. Then thy good deeds become entirely spir- 
itual and Godlike. Then are all traffickers driven out of the temple of 
thy soul. God alone dwells in the soul of a man that in his good works 
takes Him and Him alone into account. This is then the purifying of 
the soul from all self-seeking, God and His honor becoming the end and 
purpose of all. 

But this Gospel points out to us a yet higher grade of disinterested- 
ness. For there are some who have a pure intention in their well- 
doing, and yet are hindered from attaining a high state of perfection; 
namely, those who keep up a less blameworthy traffic with creatures, 
like those dealers in doves whose chairs the Lord overthrew in the 



230 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

temple. The traffic in doves was well meant at first, and yet it was 
unseemly; and it became the occasion of avarice rather than a help to] 
ilic worship of God in the temple. So it is with some men, who have 
an upright intention and serve God without self-seeking. Yet they still 
yield to a feeling of ownership in their good deeds. The}' insist on 
doing them in a certain sense mechanically, and strictly according to 
time and place and number and routine, and according to specified 
plans, and this hinders their coming to the hest spiritual state. They 
should hold their souls free from all such things, just as our Saviour 
Himself did, and be ever ready to begin anew, without waiting for cer- 
tain times or going to certain places. They should give themselves over 
to the guidance of the heavenly Father just as Christ did; yea, obedient 
to the least intimation of His holy will, determined on one thing only — 
to be perfectly under the loving influence of His fatherly heart. Thus 
one is led to a life of the truest perfection, unhindered by methods and 
arrangements of his own, only anxious to yield instantly, and, as it 
were, to the beck and nod of God's will; and in the same spirit to return 
God's gifts back again into the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ with all 
praise and thanksgiving. Then it comes to pass that all hindrances to 
spiritual progress are taken away; from such a soul even the doves 
and their venders are expelled — all sense of proprietorship whatsoever, 
even that which is least blameworthy, is done away, and a man seeks 
himself in nothing at all. Our Lord is determined that no one shall 
make any disturbance in His temple; He will permit no running about 
here and there, as St. Matthew tells us. Which means that a spiritual 
man must purify his motives, until they are clear of every obstacle that 
may divert him from advancing even a single step in perfection. 

And when this purification of the temple of the soul has been accom- 
plished, and all ignorance and proprietorship are cleansed away, then 
God's work in it shines so beautiful and so bright that it excels the 
glory of any other of His creations. No beauty can outshine that of such 
a soul, save only the uncreated beauty of God Himself, whom it resem- 
bles more than any other creature can. No angel can be like it; not 
even the highest of them; for, though it have much resemblance to it, 
it is yet not quite like it. For to the progress of an angel there is now, in 
a certain sense, a limit fixed as to the beatific vision, whereas this soul 
can continue to grow more and more perfect as long as it lives in time. 
Suppose a man who is still in this life gifted with the virtue of a certain 
angel; his freedom and his opportunities are such as to enable him to 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 231 

advance every instant beyond the angel in perfection. God alone is 
free with uncreated liberty, and so is the soul free, but not in uncreated 
liberty; and herein is there a peculiar resemblance between God and 
the soul. And when the soul departs this life, it is absorbed in light 
uncreated — in God — then it must attain to union with Him by full 
knowledge of Him. And this, as we have already shown, is begun by 
our Lord Jesus Christ, when He enters the soul and drives out of it the 
buyers and sellers, and begins intimately to speak to it. 

Dear children, rest assured that if any one undertakes to speak in the 
temple — that is, in our soul — except Jesus alone, then does Jesus imme- 
diately become silent. He no longer feels at home there; indeed, it is 
now not His home, for it entertains strange guests and holds converse 
with them. Not only so ; but if Jesus is to speak, the soul itself must 
be silent, and do nothing but listen to Him. The moment it sits still and 
listens, He begins to speak. What does He say He says, I am : I am 
the Father's Word. And then in the same Word thus spoken the Fat her 
Himself speaks, the entire Divine nature is heard — all that is God. all 
that God's Word is to God's self, perfect in self-knowledge and infiii ite 
in power. God is infinitely perfect in His utterance to the soul, for the 
Word He utters is Himself; it is the Second Divine person of the God 
head, of the same nature with the Father. 

And in speaking this Divine Word God utters all reasonable beings in 
created existence, thus forming them like unto His uncreated Word, as 
It ever dwells within Him. All the brightness of created intelligences, 
is made after the image of the glory of this uncreated Word of Go d. 
And this resemblance consists essentially, in the capability the crea 
soul has of receiving by Divine grace God's uncreated Word : ye i, even 
the very Word that is God, receiving It as It is in Itself. This was all 
uttered by God, when He divinely spoke His infinite Word in the God- 
head. Now, one might enquire: Since the Father has thus spoken His 
Word, what does Jesus speak in the soul? Dear children, I answer you 
by recalling what I have already said of the manner of His communica- 
tion: He speaks and reveals His own self, and that includes all that 
the Father has spoken in the Divine act of uttering the Word, all being 
now addressed to the soul according to its capacity to receive it. 

First, He reveals the Father's supreme majesty in the soul, in His 
sovereign and immeasurable power. And when the soul feels and per- 
ceives this almighty power in God's Son — feels itself made a partaker 
of that power in all virtue and in perfect purification, so thai neither 



232 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

joy nor sorrow nor any other created force can unsettle its peace; 
then in that Divine power it rests, strong against all adversaries, great 
or little. 

In addition to this, the Lord reveals Himself in the soul in infinite 
wisdom — in the very Divine wisdom that He is Himself, that in which 
the Father knows Himself with His almighty paternity; and, again, 
the Word that is wisdom itself and is one essence with the Father. 
When this wisdom is united to the soul, all doubting and all straying 
away is stopped, and all spiritual darkness vanishes, and the soul is 
placed in the clear light that is God's self. It is now as the prophet 
said: "In Thy light we shall see light." (Ps. xxxv, 10.) That is to 
say : Lord, all light is seen in the soul in the light that Thou art. Thu3 
is God known in the soul by the light that God Himself is. And thus is 
Wisdom known by the light of Wisdom Itself; and with it the soul 
knows itself and all things else that it knows. Thus, again, by this 
wisdom is known God's fatherhood in majesty, His essential unchange- 
ableness, and His Divine and indivisible unity. 

Thirdly, Jesus reveals Himself within the soul with infinite love, with 
sweetness and abundance of love welling forth from the Holy Ghost, 
and overflowing into the heart, all docile and receptive of its rich 
streams. Yes, it is by means of the Love that Jesus is that He reveals 
Himself to the soul and unites it to Himself. It is this sweetness that 
causes the soul to flow into itself, and then to overflow beyond all crea- 
tures—melted by Divine grace, given power to return again into God 
its first fountain and origin. Then the outward man bows down obe- 
dient to the inward man — obedient unto death; then are both the 
inward and outward faculties at peace with each other in God's service. 
May God grant us this happy state; may He expel and destroy all hin- 
drances in us in both soul and bodv, so that we mav be made one with 
Him in time and in eternity. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 233 



&»000tta nf (Hljrtfit b PaBBton 

Synopsis — His nakedness makes voluntary poverty a divine virtue — 
His being placed between two thieves shows tlie splendor of broth- 
erly love — Eis pity for His enemies tells us of God's mercy to 
sinners — Obedience is taught by His resignation to His father's 
will even unto death — Holy friendship is illustrated by His treat- 
ment of His mother and St. John — Patience and perseverance are 
inculcated by the nailing of His holy body to the cross — Con- 
stancy in prayer is shown by His ending His life with a sigh of 
prayerful hope. 



FIRST SERMON FOR GOOD FRIDAY. 
With Christ I am nailed to the cross. — Gal. ii, 19. 

Thus speaks the apostle, teaching us that we must never permit the 
sacred passion of our Lord to be absent from our thoughts, but that 
with deep emotion, sympathy and gratitude, we must ever meditate on it. 
There is no surer, easier or better way to be freed from our sins and to 
acquire all virtues, graces and joys than this devout practice. Nay, 
there is no other way to go to God; it is the one only way that all the 
saints have trodden. O, how much is to be said on this holy theme, one 
which surpasses the angels' powers of understanding: Of how God 
became man out of His great love for us, and then for such vile sinners 
humbled Himself even to the bitter cross ! 

And if the everlasting Lord and God of all, suffered such shame and 
such torment for us, should not all who claim to be His friends willingly 
suffer whatsoever God allots them, whether they be guilty or innocent? 
Should they not esteem themselves honored, thus to be made like Him 
and allowed to follow after Him in this His chosen way of the cross? 
Hence the holy apostle St. Peter admonishes us: "Christ, therefore, 
having suffered in the flesh, be you also armed with the same thought." 
(I Peter, iv. 1.) And so does our holy and faithful mother, the Church, 
tell us that this thought should never be absent from our hearts. This 



L'34 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

she does not only by the holy scriptures and in her public worship, but 
also she would help our weakness with pious pictures and statues of 
our Lord's sufferings. She never ceases to exhort us to praise and 
thank God for His infinite love, most perfectly proved by His blessed 
death for our souls. This is also holy Church's reason for giving us 
the pictures and other representations of her saints. These are offered 
us to make us imitate their holy lives, to help us battle manfully against 
evil, and suffer patiently for God's sake, to strengthen us in our faith, 
to arouse our sleeping energies to the faithful service of God. Above 
all these emblems is the figure of Jesus crucified — above all to be prized, 
most often to be venerated, and interiorly to be contemplated. Let us 
now study the lessons that our beloved Lord has written upon His cru- 
cified body, and let us print them indelibly in our hearts. 

The first lesson is taught by the nakedness of His body on the cross ; 
it is voluntary poverty. So must we learn to be poor for His sake, 
since He became poor for our sakes. Out of all His rich kingdoms, He 
kept not so much as would serve to cover Him as He hung on the cross. 
He had said : "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom 
of Heaven." i Matt, v, 3.) Is not the Kingdom of Heaven a rich treas- 
ure to him who is so fortunate as to possess it? And it is a blessed 
lot for more reasons than its riches. Voluntary poverty bestows more 
upon a man than he can desire. What he has contents him ; he is satis- 
fied in his poor estate, so much so that he does not feel himself poor at 
all. The covetous man ever covets to gain yet more, ever dreads to be 
robbed ; the poor man of Christ is ever thinking that he has more than 
enough. Therefore is he rightly called blessed and happy, because he 
has all that he desires; for all he desires is to be poor, and to suffer want 
is his purpose — very willingly and for God's sake. Such men have, 
indeed, learned by heart and in their hearts how to be poor. They have 
always before their eyes the spectacle of Jesus crucified. His blessed 
humanity, poor and in want all His days on earth, is printed on their 
heart's tablets. Blessed are these men; no man can rob them, for they 
own nothing worth stealing. Again they are blessed, because they have 
been granted a foretaste of Heaven's blessed freedom, owning all and 
more than all that is needful even in and by their poverty; for that 
gives them a sweet contentment of mind, to be rewarded after death by 
the Kingdom of Heaven itself. 

The second lesson of Jesus crucified is perfect brotherly love, for you 
know that He was hung between two thieves; and this was His own 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 235 

choice, for He desired to bear the penalty of their guilt. How could 
He ever have better shown that His love was perfect, than by bearing 
the burden of the guilt of His enemies on His own shoulders, having it 
struck and cut into all His members? If He had but died for His 
friends alone, even so it were a mark of mighty love ; but that He died 
for His enemies is a mark of perfect love. In this He teaches us that we 
should love our enemies, and that we should do so by serving them in all 
their necessities. Our Lord would be put to death not only for His 
friends and for good people; He would suffer all His bitter passion and 
His cruel death for the wicked and for His enemies. And if He showed 
such love to His very enemies, what, think you, must be His love for His 
friends, who have so faithfully followed Him? St. Paul tells us : ''When 
as yet we were enemies, according to the time, Christ died for us ; much 
rather therefore now, being justified by His blood, shall we be saved 
from wrath through Him." (Rom. v, 0.) 

The third lesson of Jesus crucified is His overflowing mercy. See 
how He treated the thief that hung all justly for his crimes alongside of 
Him on the cross, and who had reviled and blasphemed Him. (Matt, 
xxvii, 44.) But when this malefactor repented and begged a grace of 
Jesus, He instantly pardoned him, and He granted him a greater boon 
than he had asked. He said : "Lord, remember me when Thou comest 
into Thy kingdom." Jesus gladly hearkened to him, and answered : 
"Amen, I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." 
Jesus not only thought of him kindly and spoke a good word to him, 
but He joined the poor wretch very closely to Himself, Who is the true 
and living paradise of eternal joy. And you know how our Lord, as 
soon as He died, descended in His human soul joined to His Divine 
nature into the Limbus of the just, and announced to all those God- 
fearing souls there the near approach of their eternal happiness. In 
that happy journey the good thief was our Lord's companion, and his 
paradise was to see Jesus then amid His chosen friends. Was not this 
a proof of a heart overflowing with mercy? And if He treated an 
enemy thus, will not His love overflow yet more generously toward His 
friends? But, besides adoring His mercy, let us be sure to imitate it 
in our conduct toward friends and foes, and especially the latter. 

The fourth lesson learned beneath the cross of Christ is, perfect and 
devout obedience. Obedience it was that nailed Him to the cross, and 
that virtue did He especially show when He bowed His head and gave up 
the ghost. Herein piety and obedience are both shown forth. For it 



236 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

was an act of absolute obedience to His Father, when He accepted death 
and gave up His soul out of His body; and that He reverently bowed 
down His bead, was a mark of the devout feeling with which His heart 
was filled. And listen to His last words: "Father, into Thy hands I 
commend My spirit." (Luke xxiii, 46.) As if to say: Father, I have 
obeyed Thee even unto death, and all of Thy holy will I have com- 
pletely accomplished: "It is consummated'' (John xix, 30) ; and, bow- 
ing His sacred bead, He gave up the ghost. Learn from this to be not 
only obedient, but devoutly obedient, as our Lord was. Whatever is 
commanded us, or advised, or counselled, let us receive it witb a 
devoutly bowed head. Thus will men know that we have gentle hearts 
and a devout spirit in our obedience; for the devotional spirit is always 
gentle and yielding. 

Let me tell you what is true piety toward God. It is that one 
interiorly realizes for whose sake we give up our body and our goods 
in holy obedience— namely, for God's sake. And when one receives 
directions from a superior, let him say in his own mind: My Lord and 
Father and Redeemer, I gladly accept this obedience out of love for 
Thee ; receive this the submission of my will as a sacrifice to Thy glory. 
And let us maintain this devout obedience to the end, even unto death; 
for St. Paul teaches what Christ did for us : "He humbled Himself, 
becoming obedient unto death." (Phil, ii, 8.) We should often medi- 
tate on Christ's obedience, gaining thereby strength to practice obedi- 
ence ourselves. For whosoever comes to the end of his life and is not 
found in a state of holy obedience, cannot hope to share in the merits of 
Christ's obedience on the cross. 

The fifth lesson of Jesus crucified is that of respect and friendship. 
Mark well His treatment of His beloved mother. As she stood beneath 
His cross, He would not allow her to suffer her dreadful sorrow without 
any solace. However sad His own desolation as He hung there, He yet 
did not forget her. He could not speak much with her, so great w r as 
His pain. But the few words He did say, proved to her how boundless 
was His love and His respect for her. All sweetly did He address her, 
as best He might in His state of torture, being nigh unto death, His 
bodily forces wasting fast away : "Woman, behold thy son !" How 
mindful was He of His beloved mother, even amid such bodily torments. 
He committed her to the care of His beloved disciple St. John, as if He 
would say : You perceive, dear mother, to what a pass I, thy only Son, am 
come. I know that My sufferings pierce thy soul with a sharp sword of 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 237 

agony, beholding Me hanging here before thy eyes, all dripping with 
blood ; but behold John, thy son ! Let him comfort thee in My place. 
How well this teaches us to honor and reverence our father and mother, 
and not only our natural parents, but also our spiritual parents — our 
fathers and mothers in religion ; yea, and our brothers and sisters, too — 
all for the sake of God and in God, just as our Lord has commanded us, 
so that it may be well with us in the land He will give us. 

The sixth lesson of Jesus crucified is the virtue of patience. For our 
Lord, in allowing Himself to be nailed fast to the cross, as much as 
said to His torturers: Inflict on Me all the suffering you wish; I will 
gladly bear it all. In his whole life He never did anything that merited 
the least punishment. And yet, now that He is so cruelly treated, He 
is so patient that He has not a single bitter thought, not one word of 
reproach. For what did He say? "Father, forgive them" — these men 
who are torturing Me; "forgive them, for they know not what they do." 
This teaches us to willingly accept unjust punishment, to patiently 
suffer wrong, never forgetting how patient the Lord was as lie allowed 
Himself to be nailed to the cross. What else does this mean but that we 
should suffer miseries visited on us rightly or wrongly, with equal and 
entire submission, accepting meekly whatever God permits to happen 
to us. 

The seventh lesson of Christ's cross is steadfast perseverance. Mark 
that he allowed His feet to be nailed to the cross, as if to say : I will 
stand fast here in My obedience to Mv Father ; I will not move one step 
away ; here stand I till death. Thus should we stand fast in a good life, 
bearing the cross of penance to the end, hands and feet nailed to the 
cross of a dying life, never harboring a single thought except that of 
following Jesus crucified, crucifying all our vices and concupiscences 
with great good will, and so persisting even unto death. If Jesus finds 
us thus fastened to the cross. He will forgive us every evil thing thai we 
ever did. To stand fast in good — that is our purpose; for if one had 
lived a good life for a thousand years, and afterwards fell away but for 
one hour and thus died, then in spite of all his former goodness he would 
be lost. Therefore, let us persevere with all steadfastness, and, as it 
were, nailed hands and feet to the cross, even unto the end ; for as we are 
found at the moment of death so shall we be judged. 

The eighth lesson of Christ's cross is constant prayer, for von know 
that our Lord, amid all his pains, prayed without ceasing. A certain 
teacher surmises that He recited a hundred and fifty verses of the 



-MS The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

psalms, a verse for every psalm in the psalter. According to this, He 
began with the twenty -first psalm, "O God, My God, look upon Me; why 
hast Thou forsaken Me?" and ending with the sixth verse of the thirtieth 
psalm, "Into Thy hands I commend My spirit." And with these last 
words He gave up the ghost. Now, just consider that Jesus the Son of 
God. who was all innocent and guileless, was so desolate in His last 
agony as to exclaim, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me !" 
When we consider that, must we poor sinners not shrink in dismay from 
the thought of our own last agony? What shall we then say to God? 
Jesus prayed to His Father thus humbly, and as if He had been a life- 
long sinner, and He did so to set us an example, so that now and always 
until death we should meekly appeal for pardon to our Heavenly 
Father. Such should be our constant prayer, for prayer is always nec- 
essary, and if diligently persevered in, as death comes, when it is most 
necessary, we can easily turn our heart, with all its emotions and 
affections, perfectly to God. Then shall we be granted deep and humble 
confidence in God's blessed mercy; we shall be enabled with this prayer 
to beat off all evil spirits, who will then assail us more fiercely than 
ever before, in order to bring us to eternal ruin. May God grant that 
they shall have no power to hurt us. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 239 



lorn (&ob Sratufl iwulH to l^tmaplf 

Synopsis — This drawing is essentially inward— Need of detachment if 
this drawing is to be felt — How adversity and suffering should 
turn us towards God's inward drawing, and even more the sense 
of desolation. 



SECOND SERMON FOR GOOD FRIDAY. 

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself. — John 
xii, 32. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ means that He will draw all men to Himself 
when He is lifted up; for man has a share of all things in himself — in 
common with the stones of the earth he has existence, life with the trees 
and plants, sense with animals, and reason with angels. 

But someone might say, O Christ, Thou eternal truth, I do not feel 
Thy drawing, I am not attracted to Thee. St. Augustine answers : 
"Then pray that thou mayst be drawn to Him." The fisherman casts 
his baited hook that the fish may seize it, and if it does not do so, then 
the fisherman does not get the fish; if it does, then the fisherman is 
sure of it and draws it in to the shore. So has God cast his hooks and 
his nets toward us and all around us; they are His angels and all His 
other creatures, by w r hich He would draw us to Him most gladly by our 
eyes and our ears and our hearts. By joyous things he draws us to 
Him, and by painful things as w r ell. Whosoever is not caught and 
drawn to God has only himself to blame, for he has wilfully avoided 
the angels' drawing — he will not receive God's baited hook nor enter 
His net. If he had done so, God would have surely captured him ; we 
have only to reach a hand toward God, and He will never fail to grasp 
it and draw us to Himself. Suppose you are at the bottom of a deep 
well and someone comes and lets down a rope to you ; ought you not to 
grasp it and be saved? 

The soul is like a feather blown about by the wind ; but if a weight 
is attached to it, it rests idly on the ground. So does a soul freed from 
all weight of sinfulness easily soar aloft to God on the wings of hol\ 



240 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

meditation. Such a soul is lightened and cleansed of all thoughts ahout 
bodily things, and set at rest in all stillness of spirit. Its intentions 
and aspirations cleave close to the unchangeable Good that God is. 
God's praises are unceasingly sounded in that soul. And this happens 
because the soul is self-denying in all things, as far as its state of life 
will allow. Whosoever is for God's sake far removed from love of 
earthly things, becomes transformed, and, like an angel, he is drawn 
deep into God. And, being so closely joined to Him, then whatever 
happens to that soul in its outward life is received in God and on 
account of God — eating or drinking, sleeping or waking, or whatsoever 
else he does, that man does all for the best honor of God. 

A man's highest perfection consists in interior tranquillity, all his 
faculties drawn in by an indescribably powerful detachment from 
created things, producing an angelic state of soul. Such a one is freed 
from what is offensively unlike God, and is granted a foretaste of that 
Divine union which he shall enjoy in eternity. Therefore, retire into 
thyself and be at rest from all outward and inward stirring, as far as 
God's law will allow thee; give thyself up to Him in that state of mind, 
receiving His communication with thee directly or otherwise, according 
to His good pleasure. And whatever then comes to thee from God, 
accept it in entire self-renunciation, as being wholly from His hand, and 
be sure to return it back to Him in deep gratitude ; receive all as a loan 
from Him, for it is His and not thine, and ever so remains. Thus wilt 
thou give God His glory, and thy own nature and heart and mind will 
abide in holy poverty in His sight. 

When a man is thoroughly detached from all transitory things, and 
is rightly ordered in self-renunciation, he is in the first degree of his 
progress toward God. The second degree is when his soul is established 
in peace and rest. The third degree is when he receives all things, pleas- 
ant or unpleasant, from God's hand in equal contentment of mind and 
is wholly resigned to God. This happens when a man lives in self-for- 
getfulness, in forgetfulness of all created things, and is lost in God. 
This degree is the highest perfection of purity of heart. 

But let no man presume to take up this high and holy work of God 
of his own initiative. Rather let him humbly await God's guidance, 
abandoning himself in all peacefulness and in total detachment to the 
Divine influence, whenever and however it may come to him. This will 
be all that God requires of him — that he stand before Him meekly and 
as a poor sinner, and await in entire self-denial the working of Divine 



of John Tauler, the Illu minated Doctor 241 

grace in his soul. The man who thus passively yields himself up to 
God's hidden operations of grace, him will the power of the Almighty 
Father visit, and the light of the only begotten Son will shine within 
him, and the infinite love of the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father 
and' the Son, will be poured out upon him, and the heavens will rain 
down on him the dew of divine sweetness, and the earth and all crea- 
tures will minister to his happiness. 

The lowest grade of these men are drawn close into God ; those of the 
higher grade are illuminated and strengthened; the highest are elevated 
into union with Him. Yet be it known, that the entrancing joy and the. 
quiet stillness of God's peace is not always perceptible to one's natural 
faculties ; the soul is often placed in a state of poverty of feeling. In 
that state let one remain content in all self-renunciation, for God reveals 
Himself only in a supernatural manner. What if a man, who has given 
himself up entirely to God as the source of all his being and is lost 
entirely in the Divine will— what if he does not always experience the 
sensible emotions of piety and of love; he is none the less pure of heart, 
none the less pleasing to God. The more God leaves a man in a state of 
natural desolation of spirit, the stronger does He establish him in super- 
natural grace. The more a man is tried by natural feelings of dread 
and of anguish— as long as these are not quite intolerable— the more do 
these very sufferings become an element of security in his spiritual life 
by nourishing holy humility. They hold him back from ruin; tiny are 
like a stout wall built up between him and the danger of losing all the 
graces that have been granted him. These trials hinder him from rash- 
ness and over-security. May God's eternal love, overflowing and ever 
faithful, thus be given to us. Amen. 



242 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences, 



Itwm Kitty (Bob 

Synopsis— Our natural yearning for unity— Multiplicity is a trait of 
fallen nature— Dying to self is followed by rising into union with 
God — Many ways shown of thus dying and rising again— After 
that created things may be more safely used — Marvellous effects 
on the deeper interior life. 



SERMON FOR EASTER SUNDAY: FIRST PART. 

That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee * * * and 
I in them, and Thou in Me ; that they may be made perfect in one.— John xvii, 

To this union St. Paul had attained, for he says : "And I live, now 
not I, but Christ liveth in me." (Gal. ii, 20.) Let us ask how we, too, 
may be made one with God. Not otherwise than by losing ourselves 
and forgetting ourselves, and then by being made over again in God by 
God's spirit. For as long as a man is self-conscious, even though he 
have God and is even conscious of Him, just so long is He not one, but 
two— he has not become one with God: this is multiplicity and not 
perfect unity. In unity a man loses multiplicity. True unity is the 
state in which a man finds himself solely in One, the One that is called 
and is God. In this state a man has, as it were, lost his selfhood in 
God ; so that he has no joy in self, no thought of self, no outward life of 
self. Nor does it seem to him that it is his own self that knows and 
loves either God or creatures -all seems done by God. Self is absorbed 
as it were in God. 

All creatures seek after this unity; all multiplicity struggles toward 
it— the universal aim of all life is always this unity. Every creature 
comes forth from this unity by an immediate creative act, and each one 
tends again to be absorbed in its entire existence into indivisible unity, 
according to each one's capability. All activity of mind and body, and 
aJl love, as well as all unrest, has an end and purpose; it alf tends 
toward entire rest ; and this rest is to be found nowhere but in the one, 
indivisible unity that is God. All that flows outward is to flow back- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 243 

ward into its source — God. And when this has happened, and not 
before, do we find rest and tranquillity. When all that goes to make 
up a man's being has become lovingly one with God, then all the soul's 
cries are hushed, and the unrest of longing and of acting has ceased. 
Nature itself universally craves this unity, and consumes everything, 
even its own life, in its strivings to attain to it ; but to true unity can 
nature never come except in God, the only being wholly one. And O 
how anxious, how uncertain is the soul of man whilst deprived of this 
union ! How can he abide out of it a single instant ! How can he find 
in himself aught worth knowing or loving as long as he is out of God ! 

What is the best way to enter into God and to be made one with him? 
Certainly there is but one way : To die to self ; to totally give up all 
self-seeking, all multiplicity. If thou wilt be made white, thou must 
wash off the black; the less black, the more w r hite. The less thou art 
multiplied, the more shalt thou be single-minded and single-hearted. 
God does not work in thee rightly and by Himself alone, as long as thou 
art multiplied; His living work in thee must be one. The more the 
soul's powers are detached from outward things and gathered into one 
in the interior life, all the stronger grows God's action inwardly, and all 
the diviner and more perfect. This state no man can achieve except 
by dying to himself. The sooner and the more truly and the more 
perfectly he dies to himself, the sooner, the more truly and the more 
perfectly will he find his life made one with God's. Therefore, Christ 
died a physical death that He might show us the way to die a spiritual 
death. That He might rise from the dead into immortality, He must 
die to mortality. If we would reach a condition of unity, we must die 
to multiplicity; we must die to all mortality, to all self-ownership, to 
all divisibility. Unity has no division; division is lost and so is multi- 
plicity — all made one in unity. Of Christ we read that, "Rising again 
from the dead, He dieth now no more; death shall no more have domin- 
ion over Him." (Rom. vi, 9.) Out of death comes life that dies no 
more. There is no true and undying life in us except the life that comes 
forth from death. If water is to become hot, then cold must die out 
of it. If wood is to be made fire, then the nature of wood must die. 
The life we seek cannot be in us, it cannot become our very selves, we 
cannot be itself, unless we gain it by first ceasing to be what we are; 
we acquire this life through death. 

In very truth there is, rightly speaking, but one death and one life. 
However many deaths there may seem to be, they all are but one. 



244 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

namely, the death a man dies to his own will, to his sense of proprietor- 
ship, to division and multiplicity and activity — in so far as this is pos- 
sible to a creature. And there is one life, and onlv one, namelv, the 
one ineffable, incomprehensible, uncreated, essential, divine life. 
Toward this life all other life hurries on, is driven forward, streams 
along, being irresistibly drawn to possess it. The nearer our life comes 
to this essential life, and the more it is likened to it, the more truly do 
we live, for in this and from this life is all life, and not otherwise. 
Any life that lives apart from this, to it may be said these words: 
"Thou hast the name of being alive, and thou art dead." (Apoc. iii, 1.) 

Whosoever will have this Divine life living within him, made most 
essentially and most truly his own, such a one must most essentially 
and most truly die to himself. Whosoever fails to die will fail to live. 
And whosoever totally dies to self, such a one is wholly made alive in 
God and without any separation. And this death has many degrees, 
just as life has. A man, for example, may die a thousand deaths in a 
single day, and each is instantly followed by a joyous life in God — death 
is no longer death. This happens perforce, because God cannot refuse 
the offering of death nor resist its plea for life. And the stronger death 
is and the more complete, so is the life that responds to it all the 
stronger and more integral; just as death is, so shall life be. And as 
life succeeds to death, so does life prepare a man to die a more perfect 
death to himself. 

And it is thus that a man dies to himself : if he meekly accepts an 
insult for God's sake, if he curbs his inclination for inner or outward 
joy for the same Divine motive; if in any way whatsoever, in pleasure 
or in pain, he bridles his wayward will for God's sake in words or deeds, 
in labor or rest, in seeing or tasting ; if he bears unjust reproof in silence 
and in all patience; if in any of his unmortified tendencies he dies to 
self, he begins to live to God. At first he yields to this holy death of 
selfhood reluctantly and with much pain ; later on he grows used to it, 
and to die to self and to live to God grows into a holy habit. No mat- 
ter how small the death an earnest man dies to himself, it wins him a 
great life, and this great life heartens him to die another and a yet 
greater death. And soon it comes to pass that the most joyous thing 
in life is to die to oneself, far more joyous than any life that is lived for 
self's sake. For life is now found only in death, and light shineth only 
in darkness. In outward things a man may so constantly die to self, 
that in course of time there is nothing left in him of any inclination to 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 243 

them that is not dead. Then, indeed, he hath fought a good fight ; and 
yet in his interior life there is much that must die. 

When one is truly mortified or dead to his selfhood, then all things 
are his and he can use them moderately without danger. Indeed, no 
man has real and reasonable joy in created things, until he has first gone 
forth out of all joy in them for the love of God — until he has died to 
them and they have died to him. Only after that canst thou turn again 
to their use, without feeling anxiety lest thou misuse them. No man 
truly loves his father and mother, his sisters and brothers and all his 
other friends, with the love that is in God, until he has first given them 
up and wholly died to them out of love for God ; until that happens they 
are rather enemies to his spiritual welfare than friends. Therefore, our 
Lord teaches: "For I came to set a man at variance against his father, 
and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against 
her mother-in-law. And a man's enemies shall be they of his own house- 
hold." (Matt, x, 35-36.) 

But it is only a lesser death when one has died to outward things; 
for when a man has sincerely renounced the world and all its superflui- 
ties, and entered upon an interior and divine life, it is an easy matter to 
be quite dead to external enjoyments. To him the death he has yet to 
die is hidden. What bitterness can he suffer who is full of the sweet- 
ness of a devout life? What battle can he have to fight who has escaped 
from the clutches of his enemy, and is journeying safely along the way 
of peace? If a man be truly converted to lead a perfect life inwardly, 
no matter what outward things cross his path, they do not touch his 
interior life. Mary was turned to Christ in all her inner faculties, and 
hence she sat at His feet unconcerned about the many things that 
troubled Martha, who complained about her. Mary thought not at all 
of justifying herself — quite other things absorbed her thoughts and her 
feelings and her love. So does it happen with any soul that is turned 
inward to God and away from all transitory things — turned to God, 
revealed within him, and by no intermediary, but directly. Whether 
such a soul wills it or not, it must forget everything but God. All 
images of things created are gone; such a man has within him that 
which is the original of all things. He is liberated from creatures ; he 
has no room in his soul for figures and types, and strange happenings 
and contradictions make no impression on him. 

Such men as these St. Paul may have had in view when he said : "For 
you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. iii. 3.) 



246 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Hut now it is to be remarked, that they may progress to a vet closer 
union ; for they are hid with Christ, and are therefore two and not one 
with Him. On the other hand, our Lord prayed to His Father that 
"they may be one, as Thon, Father, in Me, and I in Thee." As if it were 
not in what made Father and Son different persons, but rather in what 
made them one essence, one life, one Divine operation — as if He prayed 
that this union might be granted us and perfected in us, as far as we are 

r 

capable of it. Is it not true to say that to bring about this unity with 
God's being. His life aud operation, a thousand times more perfect death 
to self and to creatures must be experienced? If God is to go into the 
soul, nature must go out totally, even to the last atom; fire and water 
cannot dwell together in one. He whose life is to be made God's life, 
must quickly and entirely die to any other life. If a man be already 
averse to the things of this earthly existence, then he more easily dies 
to himself; but whether or not this be so. the man who will have God 
to live within him and be his only support and only comfort, must be 
dead to all transitory things and they dead to him, absolutely stripped 
of their support and void of their comfort. Life has its hiding place 
in death; consolation has its hiding place in desolation. When the out- 
ward man is hushed still, then the inward man begins to live; then does 
he begin truly to speak his happy words, according to the prophet: 
"My soul refused to be comforted ; I remembered God and was delighted 
and was exercised, and my spirit swooned away." (Ps. lxxvi, 3-4.) 
The outward craves the outward life in everything. It is true that the 
outward life longs for God's help in some exterior form, as the Psalmist 
says: "It is good for me to adhere [that is to say, exteriorly] to my 
God." (Ps. lxvii, 28.) But even this comfort has a savor of self- 
seeking, and it, too, must die out of the soul. 

The death of self and the union with God that we have been consider- 
ing, affects all the powers of the soul, even the most interior ones. The 
will must efface its symbols and images and rest motionless ; the under- 
standing, including knowledge and memory, and, indeed, all mental 
powers, must set aside, as far as possible, the objects of their activity. 
Listen to our Lord's words: "He that findeth his life, shall lose it; 
and he that shall lose his life for Me, shall find it." (Matt, x, 39.) It is 
a hard death to the soul, when all natural lights in it and all its facul- 
ties go out in darkness; and a yet harder death when even the bright 
rays of light shed by God's own gifts, must be quenched in darkness; 
for these are not God, and God alone must finally content the soul. All 
these are, as it were, but a part of God and not God one and indivisible. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 247 

But in truth it is only when all that lives within a man, and all that 
gives him light has died out and gone from him — it is then, and only 
then, that he finds his real soul — never otherwise. Does he not find it? 
Can you say that in such a state he rather has utterly lost it? No, by 
no means; for freedom of the will yet remains, and responsibility for 
choosing to act or not to act. Does he not now stand in control of his 
spiritual powers to will and to act, and how to choose? See how our 
Saviour and our model acted in His agony : "Father * * * not as 
I will, but as Thou wilt." (Matt, xxvi, 39.) As if to say: I have no 
will ; but Thou, Father, shalt have My will, for I am stripped of My 
will and dead to it, and now in Thy will I am absorbed and restored 
to life. 

Union with God is not action, in the human meaning of the term, nor 
knowing, nor loving with diversity ; for in God all is one and all is rest 
and peace. Knowing and loving, bringing forth and being brought 
forth, and all manner of simply human activity, is the product of diver- 
sity. In God, in this One, is all action ended and unified, and we are 
made one in God through Christ. Amen. 



-1* The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 






Union With (&ab 1 

Synopsis — Self-surrender precedes union icith God — The light of God 
shines in souls united to Him — The scene of this union is the 
depths of the soul— It resembles and partakes of the union of the 
Persons of the Holy Trinity — The high kind of brotherly love it 
produces. 



SERMON FOR EASTER SUNDAY : SECOND PART. 

That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee * * * and 
I in them, and Thou in Me; that they may be made perfect in one. — John xvii, 
21-23. 

Herein our Lord and Saviour tenches that when a man has left all 
things of his outward life, father and mother, and, indeed, all multi- 
plicity totally surrendered for God's sake, then must he turn inward 
and do in like manner in his inward life. He must surrender his soul 
to God in total forgetfulness of whatsoever is native to his inner life, 
his soul to he dismantled and, as it were, taken to pieces, that it may be 
rebuilt and newly adorned, in a life wherein all images find their proto- 
types, namely, in God. If one loves in a human spirit, there is danger 
of one's hating; if he hopes in that spirit, he can scarcely be entirely hum- 
bled. But if one willingly has nothing even that is lowly, he can scarcely 
be ambitious of the high things of this life. Let him, then, die to all and 
enter into God in search of the highest. This means, as I have said, that 
God will dismantle him, and then build and adorn him over again. All 
virtuous imaginings, may lead to selfish picking and choosing this or that 
A\ay to gain virtue; but when the end is reached, the way is not needed 
and should be forgotten — the end is God. Virtues will never be so 
much our own, so true and so deep-seated in us, as when we have been 
stripped of their images and joined in unity with God. It then comes 
to pass that these virtues are not for this or that place or time, nor for 
any manner of self-seeking whatsoever; for they act within us for 
virtue's own sake and, as it were, by their own holy force. God is the 
essence of all virtues, which without Him are non-existent; possess Him 






of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 249 

_ 

in holy unity of life, and good is done in thee for the sake of the Supreme 
Good, with no other why or wherefore but that essential Good, and 
because of it. Thou shalt then love for the sake of love itself, be true 
for the sake of truth itself, righteous for the sake of this supreme 
holiness. 

We ask why Christ did not answer Pilate when he inquired, "What 
is truth?" And the usual explanation is that Pilate was unworthy of 
an answer. So is it here. W T hosoever departs from Divine unity of life, 
is not worthy to know what truth is. Such a one can say nothing but 
this : Truth is truth. He can neither take nor give on such a subject. 
The true, the good are indivisible and one in God — simple unity. A 
creature possesses good; as we say a good angel, a good man, a good 
heaven — all these have good in them, as they have also truth and being; 
but it is not with them as with God, for they have these as a manner of 
existence, all in place and measure and all with limitation. God has 
good because He is esential good. 

But if thou wouldst have all the true and the good and all essential 
being, thou shalt find them in their fountain and origin, wholly without 
limitation. Pass over man and angel and Heaven into the indivisible 
and limitless good and true. All else may but hide God's unity of 
goodness and truth from thee, and may become a prison to thee. Unity 
looks not outward; it covets nothing foreign to itself whether far or 
near ; it is not measurable as broad or long ; it is one, it is God, who has 
all good in Himself, and there is none out of Him. It is He who give* 
being and its good to creatures — not they to Him. Any spiritual 
method, in so far as it is Divine, is not outside of God, for all that is 
indivisible and true and good is in Him. 

A man in whom all manner of self-seeking has quite perished away 
and been replaced by love, and who has God in him and is himself in 
God — whatsoever that man does in and through God is the best 
and done in the most perfect manner. And this perfection is inherent 
in the work and not borrowed from without ; it is not from length and 
breadth, but from the unity of purpose with God; and so little works 
and great ones become in a way equally good in such a state of soul, 
from the uniform greatness of their origin. Say an Ave Maria with 
God's holy unity, and it wins as much as a whole psalter less perfectly 
said; one step with God is equal to a pilgrimage beyond the seas without 
Him. Great works with upright intention shall be granted great 
reward ; but the real worth of a good deed is in the disinterested love 



250 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

with which it is (lone; its value is intrinsic. One grain of gold has all 
the nature of gold that a thousand golden marks have. Therefore, if we 
desire more than one gold piece, it is because we desire something besides 
the essence of gold. But as to Divine things, all the good in them is in 
their essential nature and not in their quantity, and there is as much 
good in the least as in the most that we do, when we act entirely united 
to God. 

The external is but a symbol of the internal, as a sign may tell us 
that there is wine in a cellar; yet there may be wine where no sign is 
hung out, and it is then of none the less worth to its owner. The main 
thing is to have a good will to serve God; that being made secure, my 
soul ranges free over the good deeds of all men, including the saints, all 
their sufferings for religion, their alms to the poor. Of these I think 
with a longing heart to do and to suffer them all for God's sake, and 
that most gladly — but I lack the opportunity. In God's eyes it is as if 
I had done them all. I fail in none of the merit, if my good will is equal 
to the effort that would be required for their actual accomplishment. 
And as I read of the holy men of the past, and keep my heart fixed on 
their marvels of virtue, my good will gives me a share in their merit; 
1o God a thousand years are as a day that is passed. 

St. Augustine says: "Turn into thyself; there alone shalt thou find 
God." And as thou turnest — so we may add — thou turnest in God 
Himself, with whom thou hast been made one. In God is life and all 
things; and, as St. John tells us, "He came into His own, and His own 
received Him not. But as many as received Him, He gave them pow r er 
to be made the sons of God." (John i, 11-12.) Now, God's Son is of 
one nature with His Father, and a Godlike man is not by nature, but by 
grace, one with Him, by Whom he is made Godlike; and if there be any- 
thing in him that is not Godlike, in just so far is he out of God. Truly 
is he God's son, and one with Him after the image of the sonship of the 
only begotten Son ; so that God out of him acts not, nor does he act out 
of God. And as God does not separate Himself from His only begotten 
Son, so neither does He separate Himself from a Godlike man, unless^S. 
because this man has first separated himself from God. . A certain 
master exclaims: "I do not envy all the good that God has given to 
His only begotten Son, because I can by the mystery of grace become 
unified with that same Son, out from Whom, through Whom and in 
Whom are all things — so truly one with Him that no part remains not 
united." 






of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 251 

Philosophers say that God does nothing out of — that is, outside of- 
Himself. In the same way a man who is truly good and Godlike, does 
all things he does in God, having Him as the only end of all ; yet further, 
we may say that a Godlike man never thinks of God outside of his own 
self, for when and where and in whatever manner he considers God, he 
finds himself one with Him. 

Since God works all through the man with whom He is one, it follows 
that not the man, but God, does the works that the man seems to do. 
As Jesus taught : "The Father who abideth in Me, He doeth the works. " 
(John xiv, 10.) To this Godlike man, therefore, his own works are 
very strange to him, and seem to him as if they were not his own ; he is 
so deeply one with God that it is He who is 1 in him and He who works 
in him, and not the man himself — so does he feel. If this fails and he 
appropriates his works to himself in distinction from God, so does he 
instantly cease to be enveloped in God's unity. 

Our Saviour said : "I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent 
me" (John viii, 16) ; and again: "Believe you not that I am in the 
Father and the Father in me?" (John xiv, 11.) Therefore does St. 
Augustine teach: "God became man that I might become God; He 
became the Son of man that I might become the son of God." And 
David says : "I have said, you are gods, and all of you sons of the Most 
High." (Ps. lxxxi, 6.) What God gave to His only begotten Son made 
man, that is He ready to give to His Son's brethren, each in his place 
and measure. If they refuse to receive it, then God is not to blame; 
just as the sunlight is not to blame if a room is dark at midday — the 
owner of the house has shut the blinds. 

The nature of man which our beloved Lord assumed, is as much mine 
as it is His ; although the case is infinitely different in regard to His per- 
son, which is wholly Divine. He took to Himself my very nature, and 
thereby He took me to Himself wholly. Now, what remains for my 
part? That I give myself to Him personally. If I hold back, what can 
He do about my perversity? Did He not take our nature so fully as to 
be as truly man as He is truly God's own Son and the Eternal Word? 
Hence we must truly say that the virgin's Son is God, precisely as we 
say the same of the Only Begotten of the Father; and this conies from 
the unity of person in the Son of Mary and the Son of God. In this 
manner He has shared with me by grace all that the Father gave Him 
by nature, making it all mine, just as it is all His. But woe to me if, 
having been made one with Him by community of our human nature. I 



252 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

yet refuse to join with Him in a loving personal union. Do I not know 
thai I am by nature one with all men and as near of kin to them as to 
my ownself — to the Sultan of Turkey as well as to my next-door neigh- 
bor — one with the wisest and with the simplest, the least and the 
greatest ? Do I not know that all men stand together and alike one in 
nature? Thus does our Lord stand as near to me as I do to myself; 
and I stand likewise as near to Him as He does to Himself — all this in 
His human nature. But woe to me if I am far removed from personal 
union with Him by my own self-love and self-seeking, removed from 
Him and joined to self in His despite; or, again, if I am by my selfish- 
ness removed from a loving union with any man and all men, even if 
they be a thousand miles distant from me. For all of us men are of one 
nature and should be as one man in love ; we should be one in personal 
union of love. To all men should my heart be given, and their welfare 
should be as dear to me as my own, their misfortune as bitter to me as 
my own. In this way do I go out of myself, if I am true to the unity of 
nature God has made among men ; until at last I think of my own and 
enjoy my own no more and no less because it is mine, than if it belonged 
to a man whom I have never seen. 

But from this we must not suppose that this common love is to be 
equally distributed over all men ; for, though God loves all equally, He 
yet bestows His favors unequally. First come parents, children, 
friends and neighbors; begin to bestow thy love on these, and then go 
forth with thy loving service to others as best thou canst. One must 
consider those committed to his nearest care by Providence, as entitled 
to the perfect and immediate overflowing of love, not exactly because 
one is a father and mother and friend, but because God has made them 
such. For it might be that God would lead thee away over the seas, to 
serve with equal love men whom thou hadst before never heard of ; love 
is equal within the soul, and shown by God's will unequally in outward 
act. It is the man who has gone out of self in all things, and been 
made one with God in Christ, who does all this wisely. Being one in 
God and with God, then it follows that whatsoever all men and angels 
have of joy and bliss, is also his in God ; and whatsoever others may 
have of badness or punishment, that is not his, but their own, for it is 
not in God. 

In very truth, in proportion as a man goes out of selfhood does he 
enter into oneness with God. Yet he must not have regard to himself 
in this relation, for the less he regards himself the more does he find 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 253 

himself in God. Whosoever totally gives up self achieves total union 
without any doubt. All things now come to him consciously from God, 
and all are alike to Him, whether for joy or sorrow. Hence our 
Saviour's teaching: "Take up my yoke upon you." (Matt, xi, 29.) 
That means that His will shall always dominate ours and be infinitely 
dearer to us than our own. It was in giving up His will to His Father 
that Jesus saved us, for nothing is dearer to a man than his own will. 

Thus it is that a man stands in indifference to all things ; it is because 
he has passed out of self, as if he were become quite as different to him- 
self as to the Sultan of the Turks and had merged his selfhood in God's 
unity. Not, of course, that he is the equal of God, but that in uniting 
himself to God he has become oblivious to what equality means, so 
absorbed has he become in the Divine unity. It is unity and not 
equality that he has attained to in God. When emptying himself of 
all self-seeking, he has given himself up to God to be one with Him. 
Nor does he lose his natural existence ; but in all his thoughts and deeds 
he does not perceive himself or consciously consider himself, but only 
God. As the prophet says : '"For my heart hath been enflamed, and my 
reins have been changed, and I am brought to nothing, and I knew not." 
(Ps. lxxiii, 21-22.) He knows not how to describe this change of his 
soul into God's life, for it has no description, no image ; all his interior 
representations are covered by the one uncreated being of God taking 
the place of all. He himself, so it seems to him, knows not, acts not ; 
God knows and acts in him and through him, according to His Divine 
will and without any obstacles, in a manner above what the soul can 
understand. And now it is needful that I should cease to speak on this 
subject, recalling only our Lord's words, and begging Him to fulfill in 
blissful unity what He said to His Father: "That they all may be one, 
as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee * * * and I in them, and 
Thou in Me; that they may be made perfect in one." A men. 



254 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



®lj* Snjma of Son* 

Synopsis — The first is active love, full of pious exercises and good 
works — The second is persevering love, shown in Magdalene, who 
was faithful unto Calvary — The third is the fiery love, and is very 
fervent — The fourth is a penetrating love, which has a peculiar 
gift of understanding God — The fifth is overflowing love, which 
casts the soul out of itself into the Beloved. 



SERMON FOR EASTER MONDAY. 

And they said one to another : Was not our heart burning within us whilst He 
spoke in the way, and opened to us the scriptures? — Luke xxiv, 32. 

Dear children, one of these two disciples of our Lord was named 
Cleophas, and the other, as some think, was St. Luke, the evangelist, 
who tells of this apparition of our Lord the evening of the resurrection. 
Their eyes were held as the Lord appeared to them, and He was dis- 
guised as a pilgrim ; they did not recognize Him at first. St. Gregory 
says that He appeared to them because they loved Him, and that yet He 
concealed who He was, because they were still doubtful about His resur- 
rection. Hence He upbraided them fo • their incredulity and hardness 
of heart and their w r ant of understanding, and opened to them the 
hidden meaning of the scriptures. Their faith was mingled with 
doubt, and yet they had been speaking affectionately about Him ; and 
when He joined in their conversation, His words made their hearts burn 
within them. 

St. Dionysius tells us that love has five degrees. The first degree is 
the active one, and is less closely joined to God than the others. In this 
degree the soul begins to turn to God and to cherish Him with a kind 
of anxious love. It practices certain devout exercises very earnestly, 
is afraid that it will cool in its ardor, and would seek its beloved and 
ever follow T Him. Its voice is that of Ihe bride: "In my bed by night 
I sought Him whom my soul loveth." (Cant, iii, 1.) But the Bride- 
groom finds this couch of active love too narrow, and this state is not 
according to His will. But the soul does not give Him up; on the con- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 255 

trary, it seeks to possess Him with much distress of mind, as Zacheus 
eagerly climbed a tree in order to behold our Lord Jesus Christ. Such 
an undersized man is every lover of Jesus, when first he turns in all 
seriousness to the love of God. Like Zacheus, he avows himself a great 
sinner, overcomes his shame in a good confession and reveals all his 
wickedness. He says with St. Paul : ''Christ Jesus came into this world 
to save sinners, of whom I am the chief." (I Tim. i, 15.) And this 
sinner is enriched with grace, for as in him sin did abound, so now dues 
grace superabound. Let every one aspire to enter this first degree of 
love, as Zacheus climbed the tree to behold Jesus; let none despair 
because his sins are grievous. This is the degree of active love in which 
the soul diligently practices all sorts of meritorious works, its sins not 
only being forgiven, but, as St. Augustine teaches, many great gifts 
bestowed upon it. 

The two disciples who journeyed toward Emmaus, had this sort of 
love, meanwhile conversing about their beloved Master with afflicted 
hearts. Although every lover of Christ is in this world like a sojourner 
in Egypt, and is bowed down under a heavy burden of fear and of 
anguish, yet he has the privilege of this degree of love. And the 
thought of the eternal life hereafter, now and again fills his soul with 
deepest joy. Yet there are brief intervals, during which he overflows 
with spiritual happiness and says with Sarah: "God hath made a 
laughter for me ; whosoever shall hear of it will laugh with me." (Gen. 
xxi, 6.) But presently all is changed and the soul exclaims: "Woe 
is me, that my sojourning is prolonged!" (Ps. exix, 5.) And again 
with Job : "Who will grant me, that I might be according to the months 
past, according to the days in which God kept me, when his lamp shined 
over my head and I walked by His light in darkness? * * * When 
I washed my feet in butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil?" 
(Job. xxix, 2, 3, 6.) What else is the souPs lamp but Divine grace, 
and what is its shining, but the bright rays of that same grace enlighten- 
ing our mind? The lamp is over our heads and guides us forward in 
the darkness, till we pass out of and beyond this first degree, namely, 
that of active love. We may also compare the soul's faculties of desir- 
ing and seeking, to a man's spiritual feet, which are now to carry him 
into the more interior regions of the spiritual life. The oil that flowed 
from the rock, may be taken to mean the tears of sweet joy shed by the 
soul in its love of God. 



250 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

The second degree of love is perseverance. By this love we continue 
to hold fast and firm to God in joy and sorrow, nay, even when we are 
groping in darkness; what we began with, that we keep on even to the 
end, just as Mary Magdalene outstayed all the disciples at the Saviour's 
tomb. And as her perseverance in love was rewarded with the first 
apparition of the risen Lord, so shall we be likewise blest if we remain 
steadfast in His grace. The worth of perseverance and the perfect 
completeness of our task of love, was typified in the old testament by 
the law that no beast that had been deprived of his tail was to be otfered 
in sacrifice to God. Joseph's coat, so long as to reach to his feet, had 
the same signification of steadfastness in our devout exercises of love, 
no matter what our darkness of mind. To the same effect is the word 
of the bride in the Canticle : "My soul melted when He spoke ; I sought 
Him and found Him not; I called, and He did not answer me. The 
keepers that go about the city found me; they struck me and wounded 
me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me." (Cant, v, 
6-7.) The veil is perseverance in love. And then the bride heartens 
herself to renewed seeking for her Beloved : "I adjure you, O daughters 
of Jerusalem, if you find my Beloved, that you tell Him that I languish 
with love!" (Ibid., 8.) 

The third degree of love is fervor, by which the heart receives a grace 
which sets it on fire. Thus Job asks : "Art not thy garments hot when 
the south wind blows upon earth?" (Job xxxvii, 17.) Then it is that 
both of the soul's powers, those of loving and understanding, are 
aroused and enflamed. Therefore, Hugo of St. Victor teaches : "When 
thou dost not seek thy Beloved with ardor, thou remainest apart from 
His true lovers, dull and heavy." And St. Augustine: "O love, ever 
burning and never extinguished, how late have I come to know thee! 
Thou wast within me and I sought thee out of me ; thou wast with me 
and I was not with thee." Love, like the burning bush that Moses saw, 
is alwa} T s burning and never consumed. For however much the lover is 
tormented by his love, he is also comforted by it and well pleaseo. with 
it, as witness the two disciples : "Was not our heart burning within us 
whilst He spoke in the way, and opened to us the scriptures?" And 
they partook of the second grade of love, for with strengthened faith 
they turned back to Jerusalem; and also of the first grade, for they 
showed the active zeal of love in constraining Christ, whilst they 
thought Him only a pilgrim, to accept their hospitality. 

The fourth grade of love is its penetration. This was granted to the 
patriarch Jacob : "I have seen God face to face, and my soul has been 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 257 

saved." (Gen. xxxii, 30.) This means that my soul has been granted 
love's gift of knowledge, by which I know my beloved by love's sweet 
way of understanding, and in the same way I know that I am known by 
Him. This was St. Augustine's petition: "Lord, help me, that I may 
know Thee and myself." And it was thus that the two disciples knew 
the Lord after their loving conversation with Him, in the breaking of 
bread. This penetration of love pierces through obstacles, and sheds so 
clear a light as to show forth its own glorious brightness in the soul, 
relieving the lover of many a bitter pain. St. Augustine says in his 
confessions: "O Lord, when I cling to Thee with all my might, I am 
unburdened of the heavy load that I am to myself; my life is full of Tbee. 
and toil and distress are done. O, who will grant rue to have Thee dwell 
within my heart and so to inebriate me with love that I shall forget all 
my pains !" Hugo of St. Victor says : "The fire of love bursts forth in 
flames strong and consuming; it burns until the lover is united to the 
beloved : 'I found him whom my soul loveth ; 1 held him, and I will not 
let him go till I bring him into my mother's house and into the cham- 
ber of her that bore me.'" (Cant, iii, 4.) That happens when the 
penetration of love has entered into the deepest depths that can be 
explored, a state of love beyond what one can understand — love enters 
within and understanding remains without. 

The fifth degree is love so overflowing as to obtain a gift beyond even 
that of penetration, namely, love's freedom. The heart is like a vessel 
of water boiling over in the fire. The fire of love in the heart casts the 
soul out of itself, so fierce is its energy — a force all hidden and known 
only by its mighty effects. In the Book of Job, Elihu said: "Behold, 
my belly is new wine which wanteth vent, which bursteth the new ves- 
sels" (Job. xxx, 19), meaning that his soul was overfloAving with his 
message to Job. And thus the lover in the Canticles : "My soul melted 
when he spoke" (Cant, v, 6) , as if to say : As molten gold is poured into 
its mold and takes its shape, so am I melted and poured into and 
shaped by my beloved. Hence St. Paul says: "For whom He fore- 
knew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His 
Son." (Rom. viii, 29.) And, again, the apostle quotes from Moses: 
"Our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. xii, 29.) When at last the soul 
is thus melted by God and rests at peace in Him, it is united to Him 
and filled with His light. Love, then, gives a man power to say : All 
things are common with Him and with me, for I have nothing of my 
own; we two have but one house, one heritage, one table, one couch. 



- ,s The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

But if any weakness in such a soul happens to intervene between it 
and God, then it is instantly in anguish. Ah, it says, tell my beloved 
thai 1 languish with love; for that soul cannot remain separated from 
Him. This painful visitation has happened to the soul because it still 
harbors some remnants of self-love. Yet, in all its pain, the soul is still 
faithful to its beloved, and this is shown by its diligence in keeping up 
ils swirl exercises of devotion to God. Gilbert says: "Wheresoever 
love is, there is an active and powerful impulse toward the beloved, 
especially if h is withdrawn from it." The holy prophet Daniel suffered 
from this, for "He was a man of desires'' (Dan. ix, 23) ; his yearning 
for Divine things made him weak and sick. And the two disciples on 
the way to Emmaus were likewise greatly distressed, till they had ques- 
tioned the Lord and listened to Him, and finally were made sure of His 
resurrection; and then they were united to Him in the breaking of 
bread. God grant us the same favor. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 259 



®lj? (fttaltttPH of iktmz 

Synopsis — True love is without limits, as universal as Himself — It 
loves God without rivals, God and God alone — It loves Him un- 
ceasingly, either by praises or by good works — Meantime God 
constantly rewards such love with the gift of greater desire and 
power of loving — A summary of God's ivorthiness of our love. 






SERMON FOR THURSDAY IN EASTER WEEK. 

She turning, saith to Him : Rabboni (which is to say, Master). — John xx, 16. 

When Jesus rose from the dead, Mary Magdalene longed with all her 
heart to behold Him. But He appeared to her in the form of a gar- 
dener, and she did not recognize him. Then He said to her : "Mary !" 
She, turning, saith to Him : "Rabboni !" (which is to say, Master.) 

You will notice that as long as Mary stood gazing into the empty 
tomb and looked at the angels, Jesus stood behind her and concealed 
Himself from her. This means that our Lord God hides Himself from 
those who are busied with creatures, absorbed and distressed about 
created things. The moment the soul turns away from them and goes 
in search of God, then God reveals Himself. And the meaning of our 
Lord's word "Mary" is, literally, the star of the sea, or otherwise the 
queen — queen of the world enlightened by the Holy Spirit, shining like 
a star. 

Whosoever longs for the sight of God must soar aloft like a star, 
and must have an aversion for all transitory things; he must be much 
enlightened by God if he would behold heavenly sights. Mary recog- 
nized her Lord when He called her name, and she answered instantly, 
Rabboni (Master). That was the name she and His other disciples 
usually addressed Him with, for He had approved it: "You call Me 
Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am." (John xiii, 13.) He 
is, indeed, the Master of the supreme good, and as such we must love 
Him supremely and above all things. He is the Master of all truth, 
and therefore we must contemplate Him. He is Master of the highest 



260 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

9 

perfection, aud therefore we must follow Him without ever looking 
backward. 

Master of the supreme good : such is his true name, and it entitles 
Him to our love above all things. But you might say: God being 
infinite good and the soul finite, how can the soul love Him or even 
know him? Ah, mark well that, although God be infinite good and the 
soul finite, yet the soul's longing is an abyss without limit; the human 
soul can never be content, except with the possession of an infinite good. 
And the more the soul longs for God, the more does it yearn for deeper 
longings; the more we love God, the more we yearn to love Him with 
yet greater intensity. God is a good without the slightest imperfec- 
tion; He is the fountain-head of the living and exhaustless waters of 
love. The soul is created in the image of God, and even for that reason 
is made capable of knowing and loving Him as He is; and as Christ is 
the Master of the supreme good, so must the soul love Him supremely 
and above all things. He is love; out of Him floweth love into us as 
out of an overflowing fountain of life ; the fountain of life is love. For, 
says St. John : "He that loveth not, abideth in death." (I John iii, 14.) 
Christ, the fountain of love and the master of the highest good, must 
have our perfect love. It is a characteristic trait of the soul to have a 
longing to love Him who is God, who is Supreme Good — to love Him 
without limits to its love, Him and none other except for His sake, Him 
to love with increasing praise. 

Without limits. As St. Bernard teaches : "The reason why the soul 
should love God is God Himself; but the limit of this love is without 
limits, for God is unlimited good, without count and without end." And 
St. Paul says: "And this I pray, that your love may more and more 
abound in knowledge and in all understanding." (Phil, i, 9.) And St. 
Bernard again : "In loving God there is no other method or distinc- 
tion, than that we should love Him as He has loved us." He has loved 
us unto the end in order that we should love Him unto the end, or rather 
without end. Hence all through our earthly existence, our desire to love 
God should constantly increase in our inner life. But bear in mind 
that, however the inner work of loving God should always grow stronger, 
yet the outward exercise of that love should be regulated with prudence : 
we should choose such devout practices of love as may not injure our 
spirit. 

We must love Him without rivals — God, and God alone. This means 
that in that degree in which we love God, no created being shall be 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 2GI 

allowed to enter. Whatever creature we may love, it must be done for 
God's sake alone ; that love must be some way a love for God and in God ; 
for God's sake, since God is the origin and only reason of that creature's 
existence; a love of the creature, yet a love for God, who is the sole 
good that any creature possesses or may be loved for ; in God, because He 
is the only joy that love of any sort can minister to our souls; and He 
is the term and end of all our love. This is, therefore, how we love 
creatures in God and God in creatures. Thus did our Saviour teach : 
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy 
whole soul, and with thy whole mind." (Matt, xxii, 37.) St. Augus- 
tine says that our Lord by these words means that a man should have 
no idle and empty power in his soul, but all should be occupied with the 
love of God and filled with Him ; and that whatever the soul cares for in 
its outward life, is to be referred to God's love and be used for God love. 
God loves the soul; and therefore should the soul love God without a 
rival. 

In the third place, we must love Him with unceasing praise ; our love 
must never be silent, but must forever call upon our beloved and beseech 
Him. St. Gregory said that our speaking to God is by the voice of the 
mouth and by the voice of good works, and that the latter has more 
power than the former. Listen to the Psalmist : "I have labored with 
crying." (Ps. lxviii, 4.) "It is a trait of lovers," says St. Chrysostom, 
"not to be able to conceal their love, nor ever to be silent while with 
their beloved, to whom they must entrust their heart's burning affec- 
tions." So do God's lovers speak to Him, revealing to Him even their 
faults; they do this over and over again, because they love Him too 
well to hide their sins from Him; and because in doing so they are com- 
forted and encouraged. The voice of the lover by outward works is the 
utterance of the inward depths of love. "The proof of Divine love," 
says St. Gregory, "is in good works. Wherever love is, love acts; if 
there is no act, there is no love." 

Rightly did Magdalen exclaim, Master ! For Christ is, indeed, master 
of all good, and therefore He must have our supreme love. But over 
love our Saviour has a triple sovereignty. For as our sovereign Master 
He rewards us for nothing but for our love for Him ; he rewards us on 
account of nothing but His own love for us; and He rewards us with 
nothing but with the gift of His love for us. Every way we look at His 
reward to us it is love. 

Now, one can serve God meritoriously with outward works, with 
inward contemplation, and with inward longings. Outward works are 



262 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

worthy of reward only when done from motives of inward love, for in 
themselves they are transitory, and therefore cannot win an eternal 
recompense. On the other hand, "Love never falleth away," says St. 
Paul. (I Cor. xiii.) Works done apart from love cannot merit eternal 
life, and hence whosoever loves God separates himself from all that is 
not God — craving the uncreated good, he despises all created good. 

And God rewards us on account of nothing but His own love for us, 
and that reward is the gift of Himself; not partly, but wholly Himself, 
for He loves us with an eternal love. Remember what He said to Abra- 
ham : -Fear not, I am thy protector, and thy reward exceeding great." 
(Gen. xv, 1.) 

Again, as we have seen, He rewards us with a gift of love or of loving, 
whereby a man clearly and without any medium contemplates God, a 
love which enables the soul to enjoy God and posses Him everlastingly. 
Hence, Christian soul, say to Him with all the fervor of Mary Magda- 
len, speaking from thy inmost heart : O my Master, Master of all good, 
and my God, draw me to Thee by the love which Thou Thyself art, for 
I crave to possess Thee, Thou infinite good, and to prize Thee above all 
things. 

Let us return to my first affirmation, namely, that God is master of 
the supreme good, and that we must contemplate Him as such. Thou 
art aware that thou canst contemplate God in nis creatures, even 
though they are made out of nothing, for thou canst learn herein that 
He is almighty. His infinite wisdom also is apparent in them, as thou 
studiest their laws of being and the admirable order that prevails in 
them; and this Divine wisdom is attributed to the Son of God. And 
when thou observest the gentleness and affection that exists more or 
less in all of God's creatures, thou mayst learn by them God's loving- 
kindness, which is attributed to the Holy Ghost. And this is what St. 
Paul teaches : ' k For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the 
world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; 
His eternal power also, and divinity." (Rom. i, 20.) Divine grace, 
too, gives the soul light to see God : ''and in Thy light we shall see light" 
(Ps. xxxv, 10), says the Psalmist, meaning God Himself, a light in 
which there is no manner of darkness. Finally, we shall see God in the 
light of glory, knowing Him then without any intermediary, as He is 
in Himself. Truly He is the master of truth, and He gives us all truth. 

And He is master of perfection, requiring us to give up everything in 
order to follow Him alone. Man finds in God the complete and unified 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 263 

assemblage of all the excellences that creatures have in imperfection 
and only partially. O man, wouldst thou be perfect? then follow (!od. 
Hence our Saviour says: "If any man come to Me, and hate not his 
father, and mother, and wife and children, and brother? and sisters, 
yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." (Luke xiv,26.) For 
does it not often happen, that one's very parents and brothers and sisters 
and all other creatures become enemies, when he lovesthem so dearly that 
they stand in the way of his serving God and his neighbor? Therefore 
do thou give up all created things and follow after the Master of Per- 
fection, Jesus Christ, Who is blessed forever. May H< grant us this 
privilege by His holy grace. Amen. 



264 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Stye (Hall to Prar* 

Synopsis— The first call of God is to give up the world, leading the 
soul from an outward to an inward life— The second call is to be 
transformed into the living image of Christ by meditation on Him, 
perfected by Holy Communion — The third call is more rare, and 
is the opening of a door which leads into a state of absolute aban- 
donment to God — The privileges of this call. 



FIRST SERMON FOR LOW SUNDAY. 
Jesus said to theni : Peace be to you. — John xx, 19. 

"Peace be to you !" exclaimed our beloved Lord, as He appeared to His 
disciples after His resurrection. All men long for rest and peace by a 
law of their very nature. Toward this end are directed all their striv- 
ings, all their manifold labors, their devotions and spiritual exercises. 
But they will never attain to true peace, no, not if they struggled for it 
for all eternity, except they seek it where alone it can be found, namely, 
in God. What, then, is the way to this true peace, as it is in most 
perfect truth, in God? We may learn this by the threefold vocation of 
St. John the Evangelist, for in this way does God call all men to eternal 
peace. 

The first, was when He called St. John from the world and made him 
an apostle. The second, was when He drew him close to him and made 
him rest his head on His breast. And the third and most perfect, was on 
holy Pentecost day, when He gave the apostle the Holy Ghost, and 
opened the door to his entrance to perfect love. 

So shalt thou be first called, namely, to give up the world. This means 
±o subject all thy lower powers and thy appetites to reason ; to learn to 
know thyself thoroughly and remain at home with thyself, watching all 
thy words carefully, lest thou sayest anything different from what thou 
wouldst have others say to thee; also keeping guard over all thy emo- 
tions and scrutinizing them, as to whether or not they come from God, 
and are fit to be directed back again to God; over thy thoughts, never 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 265 

harboring evil thoughts or occupied with idle ones, and if they intrude 
themselves against thy will, struggling manfully against them, and using 
this conflict as a preparation for better things; finally over thy works, 
so that in all of them thou hast God alone and His honor in view and 
the happiness of thy fellow-men. It is in this wise that the Lord calls 
thee from the world and makes thee His apostle; thus dost thou learn 
the change from being an outward living man to becoming an inward 
living one. Of such a kind is the beginner in the spiritual life. 

The second call is to repose on Christ's bosom. If thou wilt enjoy 
this privilege with St. John, thou must be transformed into the holy and 
living image of our Saviour. It means that thou shalt cultivate very 
diligently the study of His blessed meekness, His burning love for friends 
and foes, and His wonderful and most self-denying indifference to all 
things except His Father's will, in all methods, states and ways of life. 

Consider His unbounded kindness to all our race, and also His 
blessed poverty. Heaven and earth were His and He owned it all, but 
He was in it as if He owned nothing of it. Every word He spoke, every- 
thing He did, was for His Father's honor and the happiness of all man- 
kind. Look yet closer upon Him, look deeper into His heart, study 
Him with perfect attention, and then look upon thyself, and behold how 
different thou art from Him; acknowledge thy pettiness. Now it is 
when thou has honestly done this that our Lord draws thee to Himself, 
and makes thee rest thy head upon His bosom. For this end there is 
nothing so useful as the holy sacrament of our Saviour's body and blood. 
And thou shalt be also aided by the counsel of one whose soul has been 
enlightened by Divine grace more fully than thine own. Thou shalt 
hereby be so filled with the sweetness of heavenly consolation, that thou 
canst easily renounce all the sweetness of this world. 

These two calls to God are common enough among men, and many 
sincerely resolve to persevere in them. But it often happens that a 
certain rashness of temperament hinders them from going forward in 
answer to the third call of God. For, although St. John reposed on our 
Lord's bosom, yet when Christ was seized by His enemies he desci 
him and fled away. So let it not be with thee. When temptation tries 
thee, resist all self-seeking, resolutely stand fast by thy Saviour; and, 
on the other hand, do not allow any impetuosity of temper to cause thee 
to make a false step. If thou hast done well in these two ways and wilt 
not allow the love of created things to lead thee astray, God will then 
draw thee closer to Him. When thou feelest this drawing, let no pious 



2G(5 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

method or practice of thine own devising hold thee back, but yield thy- 
self without form or image lovingly to Him as an instrument in His 
hands. If He is allowed His way, then in less (ime than it takes to 
say a Pater Noster He will sanctify thee, and thereby give honor to Him- 
self — more than thou canst do by a hundred years of thy devotions in 
the two former ways. But one might at a certain point begin to ask 
himself : Hast thou not now passed beyond thy former state and come 
into the higher one? Always answer : No ! For no man can go forward 
otherwise than after the pattern of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rather 
ask thyself this: Hast thou progressed beyond the spirit of self-love in 
the pious exercises that thou hast practiced? Diligently examine thy- 
self in this regard, and then accept God's good pleasure as He leads thee 
forward from one devout way to another. 

The third call was when St. John received the Holy Ghost, and the 
heavenly door was opened in his soul. This happens to some in the form 
of an ecstasy, to others simply by absolute abandonment to God. Thus 
speaks St. Paul : "Eye hath- not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it 
entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them 
that love Him." (I Cor. ii, 9.) But one must never presume to think 
that he can reach his highest degree of perfection ; it only happens when 
the outer man is absorbed in the inner, for only then is a man fully 
mastered by God, and the Divine marvels and riches are revealed in him. 
And you must understand, children, that those who are partakers of 
this privilege, must often lie abed quite enfeebled and helpless, for 
nature cannot endure such a strain; nay, one has, as it were, died a 
painful death many times over before reaching this state — death within 
and death without ; but a death that means eternal life. Nor does one 
day bring it all about, nor one year of preparation. But be not fright- 
ened ; for if it takes time and self-denial and purification of heart, it is 
also the most perfect way of all. 

By these three processes does a man acquire that purity of heart that 
St. John had in a superior degree, and of which our Lord taught: 
"Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." (Matt, v, 8.) 
A clean heart is more highly prized by our Lord than anything on earth. 
That heart is very noble, splendidly adorned with virtue, the golden 
temple of the Holy Ghost in which God loves to dwell ; it is the oratory 
of the Divine Son in which He intercedes for us with His Father, and 
in which He daily offers His Divine sacrifice. A purified heart is the 
ehair of the highest judge; it is the chamber of rest of the holy Trinity; 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 267 

the light of eternal glory shines within it; it is the secret council hall 
of the three Divine persons ; it is the treasure-house of all Divine riches ; 
its banquet is a foretaste of the sweetness of everlasting joy in God ; it is 
the symbol of eternal wisdom; it is the tiysting place of Divine love 
and confidence; it is the dispensation of all the graces of Christ's life 
and passion; it is the heavenly Father's tabernacle with men; it is the 
spouse of Christ ; it is the trusted friend of the Holy Spirit ; it is the 
envy of the saints above ; it is a beloved sister of the angels ; the expecta- 
tion of the celestial army ; the brother of all good men ; the terror of 
evildoers; the complete victory over temptation; a weapon to resist 
every assault of the enemy ; an assemblage of all good gifts ; a treasury 
of all virtues ; an example to all men ; a restoration of all that was ever 
lost. 

Who, then, has such a heart as this? He — we have already described 
him — who is wholly and absolutely content with God and intent on God ; 
who has no taste for anything but God ; who fixes his thoughts ever 
and always on God; to whom all that is not God or has not God for its 
inspiration, is strange and remote and unwelcome; who holds himself 
aloof from all intruding forms and images, all joys and sorrows of the 
outer life, as far as he may, and who for this end makes the best of every- 
thing that happens ; for to the clean all things are clean, and to the meek 
and humble of heart nothing is bitter. Amen. 



lifJS The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Pray?r: dhrttuarfc m\b 3muard 

Synopsis — Prayer of every kind must begin by an act of retirement 
into God — How vocal prayer is joined with this — An illustration 
drawn from a church edifice — How we may pray the Father for 
the Son. 



SECOND SERMON FOR LOW SUNDAY. 

And now glorify Thou Me, O Father. — John xvii, 5. 

As our beloved Saviour uttered these words, the evangelist tells us 
that He lifted up His eyes to Heaven, thus showing us how we should 
raise our eyes and hands and hearts and all our powers upward to 
Heaven, and with Him and in Him and through Him offer our prayers 
to God. The homage that the Son of God paid His heavenly Father 
was the greatest of His works on earth — an incomprehensible mystery, 
far surpassing all human understanding, known only to the Holy Ghost. 
St. Anselm and St. Augustine say that prayer is an ascension of the soul 
in God. 

Children, rich men come to you and give you — as you may be poor and 
needy and sick — five or six pennies, and agree with you for many genu- 
flections and perhaps a hundred Pater Nosters in return. What the 
eternal God thinks of this kind of barter I know not; only this I say: 
When you pray, turn away from yourself in all sincerity, lift up your 
soul above all created things, and turn your thoughts to God alone ; do 
this in the inmost depths of your being. Sink thy soul into God's 
infinite spirit, abandoning thyself to Him in all thy faculties, high and 
low, all thy senses and understanding, in order that thou mayst be 
entirely united to Him; and do this very interiorly. By this kind of 
prayer thou shalt attain to something beyond all methods and practices 
of devotion. And when thou art placed thus with God, then offer all 
the prayers to which thou art obligated, or that others have asked of 
thee and that God wills thee to offer. And be well assured, that 
as one penny is to a hundred / thousand golden marks, so are all 
external forms of prayer compared to this prayer of thy inner soul. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 269 

For it is real union with God ; it is the absorption and melting away ot 
the created spirit of man into the uncreated Spirit of God. 

Children, if this kind of prayer may be made in company with prayer 
of the lips and tongue, then join them together without hesitation ; and, 
besides, thou mayst have promised to offer vocal prayers, or thy vows 
may require thee to do so. But as thou prayest with thy lips, be sure 
to do with thy thoughts what Moses did with his flocks — lead them all 
into the wilderness. But if any of thy particular methods of prayer 
hinder, or any outward occupations interfere with this interior prayer 
of the spirit, set them all on one side, and I will take the responsibility ; 
unless, indeed, these happen to be appointed thee by lawful authority. 
Vocal prayer of all kinds is good, just as the straw is good to ripen the 
wheat. Thus Christ taught : "The true adorers shall adore the Father 
in spirit and in truth." (John iv, 23.) It is in the spirit of a man that 
all his outer devotions are perfected; and if that perfecting of the 
external prayer by the interior spirit has not yet taken place in thee, 
then begin diligently to bring it about; for one moment of sincere 
and inward prayer is worth all external devotions whatever that are 
devoid of it — all that ever were offered from the time of Adam till now. 

Behold this church and the many parts that go to make it compelte — ■ 
foundation and walls and stones — and you know that it is all built for 
the interior life of prayer, to aid men in offering real and fruitful 
prayer to God ; and if it served not that purpose it might as well in- 
stantly be swept out of existence. Our Lord once said to His Father : 
"I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." (John xvii, 4.) 
And He did not refer to His work in time, but rather in eternity, for He 
had yet much to accomplish in time : He was to suffer and die and rise 
again from the dead. He meant His work for all time and for all 
eternity. It is so with men whose spiritual life is rightly guided ; for 
their outward work in time is extended in spirit into eternity, namely, 
in God's Spirit, in whom they pray and live and labor, and in whom 
they have died to themselves. No man can be transformed until he 
ceases to be what he has been. If he would pray and work in the Spirit, 
he must be born again where the Son is born of the Father, namely, in 
the inmost depths of the Deity ; there he is absorbed, without form and 
image, his soul, as it were, stripped of forms and images and all meth- 
ods. Such a state of prayer obtains all things, and such men pray the 
Father for the Son — that is to say, for the extension of His kingdom ; 
just as before the Son had prayed His Father for them. 



270 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

You ask : How ran they pray the Father for the Son? I answer that 
our Lord taught us to pray 1hat God's name might be hallowed- These 
man. therefore, pray that it may be made known and reverenced every- 
where and dearly loved on earth, just as He wills it to be honored in 
Heaven and in all eternity, and that His precious passion and death 
and merits may be made fruitful. And they pray, besides, for all the 
Christian people, and their prayer is always heard. They accept, 
furthermore, all happenings of life as sent from God, and receive them 
with all peace of mind ; they feel neither prosperity nor adversity. Joy 
or pain is all the same to them, one as gladly accepted as the other. And 
in this there is great merit. 

Our Saviour also prayed : "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, 
in Me, and I in Thee." (John xvii, 21.) Now, this union is brought 
about in two ways, for it is external and internal, by intermediate 
influences or without them, in spirit and in nature. But this is some- 
times erroneously understood, for the Divinity has no accidents; nor 
can we understand how we are united to It. But this is no wonder; 
for can we understand how the human body and soul are united? How 
can the soul act in the hands and feet? If this is incomprehensible, no 
wonder we cannot understand how the human soul is joined into unity 
with God. 

But we know that those who come to the state we are considering 
act in time and outwardly, and yet their act extends into eternity. 
Their created life is projected into the uncreated life, their multiplicity 
into simplicity of being. Amid unrest they enjoy peace, and with deep 
longing they pass into the depths of God, drawing with them all things 
that concern them, being thereby made eternally in Him as He would 
know them and love them to be. This is to come nearer to God than 
ordinary prayer can bring the soul — very much nearer. But to this 
state those cannot attain, whose spiritual life has been developed in 
exercises framed by natural reason alone; nor those who have been 
foolishly self-guided ; least of all those who have lived in the enjoyments 
of the senses. A venerable spiritual teacher formerly discoursed to 
you on this subject, and you have misunderstood him, for you took his 
meaning in a temporal sense, and he was instructing you from the 
eternal point of view. Perhaps I have gone beyond bounds ; though as 
God sees it, it is not so. At any rate, you will forgive me, dear children, 
and I will endeavor to do better in future. God grant that all this 
be so. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 271 



(% WrnUt of % g>oul 



Synopsis — Turning inward, the soul sometimes finds a wintry land: 
the heart has really grown cold towards God — Warmth is restored 
by courageous penance and fervent prayer — Sometimes the cold 
is but an illusion: the soul is being tried by withdrawal of sensi- 
ble fervor — This is restored by patient waiting upon God — Re- 
marks on the friends and foes of Jesus among the Jews, and in 
our own day. 



SERMON FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EASTER, 

And it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem, and it was winter. And 
Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon's porch. The Jews therefore came round 
about Him, and said to Him : How long dost Thou hold our souls in suspense? 
If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them : I speak to you, and 
you believe not. * * * My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they 
follow Me. And I give them life everlasting ; and they shall not perish forever, 
and no man shall pluck them out of My hand. — John x, 22-2S. 

All this took place in the temple of Solomon, of which the Psalmist 
spoke: "His place is in peace." (Ps. lxxv, 2.) The name Solomon 
means peaceful, and Christ is the eternal Solomon, whose abode can 
be none else than that of peace, interior peace. 

The temple into which the loving Jesus enters is the purified soul, 
the soul of the man given up to the interior life. Upon that soul God 
lays more store than on all His other creatures, and is more occupied 
with it than with all else. In this temple is the feast of dedication, 
namely, of renewal. And how does this renovation take place, the 
renewing of that temple in which God so loves to dwell ; yea, rather than 
in any temple of His that was ever built? 

We call anything new whilst it is not long after its beginning; and a 
man is made new when he turns inward, and enters into the temple of 
his own soul with all his faculties. There he finds God in all His eternal 
truth, dwelling and acting there very perceptibly — not as the bodily 
senses perceive, nor even as the mind reasons, nor yet according to what 
one may have read or heard. No; but the Divine action in the soul is 



272 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

perceived by the soul's spiritual power of tasting and experiencing the 
Divine influences, welling up in its depth as out of their own fountain — 
not introduced from without. A fountain is better than a cistern; the 
latter is easily muddied and is liable to dry up; but the fountain ever 
bursts forth fresh and pure, and its water is always its own. Now, in 
the temple of the soul there is a true feast of dedication — that is to say, 
of renovation, as often as a man enters his interior soul — even a thou- 
sand times a day, if that were possible. And at every dedication there 
is new purity of intention, new light, new grace and new virtues be- 
stowed. O, this turning inward is a beautiful act; to do it and to do 
it right, all external devotions and all good works serve to assist, receiv- 
ing from it in return all their perfection. Indeed, without this interior 
movement external religious practices are of no great worth. However 
active one may be in all pious practices, above all other things he should 
constantly practice this turning inward to his soul's renewal. 

"And it was winter." Now, when is it really winter? It is when the 
heart has grown cold ; when it has within it neither grace, nor God, nor 
any Godlike things. Snow and frost are those miserable, pitiable created 
things which hold the soul fast bound in love of them and pleasure in 
their use. They quench the fire of the Holy Ghost there; they freeze 
up the fountains of grace with a dreadful spiritual coldness. They 
destroy all spiritual comfort and sweet familiarity with God. 

But there is yet another winter. This is suffered by a really God- 
fearing man. He is mindful of God and loves Him, and is careful to 
avoid all sin. But God seems to have forsaken him. As far as his feel- 
ings go, he is dry, dark and cold, devoid of all heavenly consolation and 
spiritual sweetness. Our Lord Himself suffered this spiritual winter, 
being deserted by His heavenly Father and deprived of His help. 
Although He was united to the Divine nature, yet His poor human 
nature received no drop of comfort from the Godhead during His 
unspeakably bitter passion — not an instant's consolation in His sorest 
need. He was the most forsaken and helpless and agonizing of all men. 
Now this is a lesson to His chosen friends. These must with all joy and 
entire good-will endure this state of abandonment in union with Christ. 
For He is their shepherd; they are privileged to be His sheep; they 
must suffer patiently in their interior souls, and show all patience in 
their outward behavior, in imitation of Jesus Christ. If they are but 
overjoyed to follow Him into this His winter time of desolation, aban- 
donment by God and all creatures, then will God in actual reality be 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 273 

present with them, and in a manner far more to their advantage than 
if they experienced the brightest possible summer-time of His sensible 
favor. No one can fully understand all the good that lies hidden in this 
stern trial of desolation of spirit, this dark and frozen spiritual win- 
ter — supposing always that one holds his mind steady and firm in 
patient endurance. 

The gospel tells us, further, that "the Jews came round about" Jesus. 
There were among them, as amoug us, some good and some bad. Now, 
the word Jew may be taken to mean one who confesses God. And when 
the soul's powers turn into the interior, down to the very roots of life, 
using natural and supernatural means of perfection, then the soul con- 
fesses or truly acknowledges God, and does so in a manner full of feel- 
ing and spiritual enjoyment. This is an act of faith so true and living 
that it wins all that is born of faith. Its power is so great that pro 
claiming God in all sincerity absorbs the soul's entire life: Interiorly, 
in the understanding and the will ; outwardly, in every external human 
faculty; in deeds and words, in doing and refusing to do, and in all 
sufferings. A man now feels and knows nothing in act or in contempla- 
tion except the confessing of God in perfect truth. This may have been 
Christ's meaning when He said : "Every one, therefore, that shall con- 
fess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father Who is in 
Heaven." (Matt, x, 32.) Be well assured of this: Whatsoever work 
thou dost in which thou settest before thee any other end but God, in 
doing that work thou forgettest God. God by His very nature must 
be the end and object of all things, and of all thoughts and intentions; 
and if thou placest any other object before thee, it is as if thou didst 
deny God, for thou givest to a creature what belongs to God alone and 
that by prerogative of His very nature. 

And there were bad Jews round about our Lord, hearts full of bitter- 
ness, men who could not endure to look on Him or suffer Him for a mo- 
ment. They were stony-hearted against Him. Alas, do we not see the 
like of this among Christians today? We meet with some men who are 
enraged against God's friends; who cannot behold their good deeds 
without the bitterest opposition; who do their utmost to hinder their 
good works and destroy the good effects of them; who are totally 
opposed to their ways and their lives, and are ever seeking to misin- 
terpret them — in a word, they act toward good Christians as the bad 
Jews did toward our Lord. This is a very dangerous state to be in. 
No sign is as plain of having no part with God and His friends in 



274 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

eternity, as when a man has within him no favor for what is good and 
pleasing to God in other men's conduct. Therefore did Christ teach: 
"He that is not with Me is against Me." (Matt, xii, 30.) On the other 
hand, it is plainly a sign of God's friendship when men are like the 
good Jews, who were kind to our Saviour. These praise the virtuous 
lives of fervent Christians in all candor and good will, without false 
interpretations, full of affection, favor and uprightness of intention — a 
true sign that God dwells in their inmost souls, and that they shall 
finally possess eternal joy. The others are altogether different. Of them 
did He speak on that same occasion, saying : ''Ye are not of My sheep, for 
My sheep hear My voice." 

Now let us ask why our Lord so often calls His friends sheep. Be- 
cause sheep have two qualities that our Lord especially loves, namely, 
innocence and gentle meekness. We read in the Apocalypse that the 
pure and guileless "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." (Apoc. 
xiv, 4.) The meek and humble of heart are near to God, and they hear 
His voice ; proud and haughty men never hear it. When the wind howls 
and the doors and windows clatter, one can hardly hear the voice of man. 
As to the voice of God, that fatherly, whispered, secret word, uttered in 
the inmost depths of thy soul — if thou wilt hear it, thou must be deaf 
to all the roar of the world without, and hush all the voices of thy own 
inner life. Thou must yield thyself up like a meek and gentle little 
sheep, confess thy sins, and, all humbly hushed and quieted, hearken to 
this voice of God; it is denied to all who are not thus made like unto 
slice jx It was to His sheep that the Lord spoke, as we read in the les- 
sons of this night's office: "I will give thee a lovely land, the goodly 
inheritance of the army of the Gentiles. And I said : Thou shalt call 
Me Father and shalt not cease to walk after Me." (Jer. iii, 19.) And 
what is this lovely land which He has promised His chosen sheep, His 
beloved friends? That land is their own body. Our bodies are by 
nature full of concupiscence and rebellious, but He enables His friends 
to reduce them to obedience, and they find much joy in compelling them 
to do their will. What was once waste and barren is now become a 
fertile and well-tilled land, in which one sows and reaps in all abun- 
dance. 

;ui what is the goodly inheritance? O, it is nothing less than our 
Lord Jesus Christ Himself, for He is the heir of His Father and we are 
co-heirs with Him, as St. Paul tells us : "Heirs, indeed, of God, and joint 
heirs with Christ." (Bom. viii, 17.) The Son has received from the 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 27f> 

Father all that He is and all that He can do; and into His hand hatb 
the Father given all things. And, in turn, the Son hath given back 
to His Father all that He received from Him, even to the very least, 
seeking the Father's glory alone in all things. And in this we are to 
imitate God's Son. For if He is to be made our inheritance, we must 
restore to His Father everything without exception that we are and 
that we have power to do, holding back not a hair's weight of all that 
is ours in our interior or our exterior existence. No matter how it has 
come to us, direct or indirect, everything must go to Him Who is its 
owner: do thou make no exception whatever. And then seek God 
Himself. Our miserable nature is greedy and selfish, seeking its own 
in everything, and hereby our lovely inheritance is obscured; for to 
appropriate to self what is God's alone, is to debase the Godlike to the 
state of the creature, and is to obscure the glory of our heavenly 
inheritance. 

And what does He mean by the words : I will give thee the exercise of 
the heathen? This means that the soul shall receive God's grace with 
the humility of a converted pagan. Those converts received grace as 
grace, having no pious practices to help them, nor any holiness to begin 
with, and starting without any merits; whereas the Jews were more 
fortunate in having their law and their ceremonies and their good 
works, and many other helps. The heathen had nothing whatever to 
build on but God's grace and mercy alone. Now in that spirit should 
thy devout practices be offered up, trusting to God's great mercy and 
kindness and nothing else. 

Thou must not place too much confidence in thy own good prepara- 
tions, or take much account of thy worthiness. Many men follow the 
Jews in this respect, building on their own methods, and trusting (how- 
ever secretly and unconsciously it may be) to their own works. And 
if it happens that they miss doing certain pious things, they think 
that all is lost, and forthwith they lose trust in God and man. By 
saying this I do not mean that one should give up his devout practices; 
no, let him do them well and punctually, but without making I hem- 
rather than God's blessed grace— the foundation of his hopes. Such 
men depend wholly for their union with God upon the boast that they 
have worn haircloth and chains, fasted and prayed and watched, been 
poor men for forty years; and apart from these things they would have 
no solid trust in God. But if a man has done all the good works in the 
world, then it but gives him the occasion to be detached from them in 



276 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

his soul, and to stand before God as if he had never done a single good 
deed his whole life long, whether great or small, accepting God's grace 
for its own sake alone and as a gift of His loving mercy, rejecting every 
thought of trusting in his own personal preparation for it. This is 
what we may call the exercise of the heathen. May God help us to what 
He has promised in the prophecy of Jeremias : "I will give thee a lovely 
land, the goodly inheritance of the army of the Gentiles. And I said : 
Thou shalt call Me Father, and shalt not cease to walk after Me." 
Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 277 



Slje fararlrt* a Subgm^nt Against % World 

Synopsis — We here mean by the world our own heart — The Holy 
Spirit will condemn the hidden wickedness of refusing to avow 
our sinfulness — Also for secret self-righteousness on accoiuit of 
our good works — Again, for sitting in judgment upon our neigh- 
bor — // we meekly accept the Paraclete's judgment, He will en- 
lighten us and cleanse us unto perfection — How this is done. 



FIRST SERMON FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.* 

It is expedient to you that I go ; for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to 
you ; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He is come, He will convince 
the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment. — John xvi, 7, 8. 

Children, note carefully this teaching, which tells us that if God's 
well-loved friends and followers shall receive the Holy Ghost, then Jesus 
must first depart from them. Depart? And how depart? It is noth- 
ing less than leaving us in utter abandonment, void of comfort, inca- 
pable; so that we become dull, heavy, cold and dark in regard to all good 
deeds. That is what is meant by Christ's going away from us. Whoso- 
ever is thus placed by God, and shall learn how to take advantage of 
his state will find it exceedingly profitable, a blessed and a Godlike gift. 
If he but wisely abandons himself to God's will, then all his multiplicity 
is turned into unity ; in the midst of suffering he finds joy ; he is patient 
of all shame, peaceful amid strife, and he extracts sweetness out of bit- 
terness. 

When our Lord says that the Holy Ghost at His coming will con- 
demn the world, He means that He will show us clearly whether or not 
the world lies concealed in the depths of our soul. If He finds it there, 
He will expose it, convict it, and condemn it. And what is the world in 
us but its methods and works and images; or again, its comforts and 
joys and sorrows, its fears and hopes and cares? Hence St. Bernard 
tells us : "With what thou art made joyous or sad, with that thou shalt 
be judged." Children, this is what the Holy Spirit will condemn in 



♦Tauler left no sermon for the third Sunday after Easter. 



278 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

ua — that we would never have rest nor peace except when possessed by 
the miserable and wicked influence of the world. In whatever man 
this tendency is found unrepressed, that is to say, joy in creatures, in 
the same man, whether living or dead, is found what our Lord means by 
the world. And this is, again, a plain sign that in such a soul the Holy 
Ghost has not taken up His abode. For Christ has declared that when 
He comes He will condemn all such things. 

He will also condemn the world for its sins. And what sins? Now 
you know, children, that the eternal God made all things, and that He 
hath rightly ordered all things to their proper end, just as fire is made to 
go upward and the stone to fall downward. And in our own nature He 
has made our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our hands to work, our feet 
to walk, and these and all our members to be obedient to our will, 
whether hard or easy, bitter or sweet ; yea, even for life or death. And 
this will power is perversely used by many lovers of this world, who 
gladly give up all their goods and their honor, that they may possess and 
enjoy what ministers to their fleshly indulgence. Now sinners, to 
excuse their sloth, seem to address the Lord and say: Who is there 
nowadays, Lord, that obeys Thee truly and keeps all Thy command- 
ments, who does it willingly and is content in his inmost soul to give 
up all self and all transitory things at Thy behest? Children, this sin 
will the Holy Ghost punish when He comes; it is the sin of resisting the 
Divine will, stilling God's warning voice within, and doing it over and 
over again— this will He punish, and many a hidden wickedness besides. 
This judgment produces in the soul a sudden sense of being condemned 
by God, a pain so sharp, a woe so unbearable that it is like the torment 
of hell, a feeling the like of which is almost unknown to the worldly 
minded, or to men who blindly follow their natural instincts. This 
feeling is the plainest sign that the Holy Ghost is, indeed, present in the 
soul ; and it gives us a cause of real confidence in God, for it shows the 
true state of things. For if a man has committed a thousand sins and 
knows them and sincerely confesses them, it is infinitely better than to 
be guilty of one single offense that he will not avow, that he does not 
admit to be sinful, and to which he continues to give himself up. O, 
dear children, be assured that any so-called spiritual man who rests 
in total self-content, who is well pleased with his state of soul and his 
manner of living, is really in great danger and is committing offenses 
perilous to his salvation. He is a self-willed man from whom nothing 
good can be expected. 



©f John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 279 

And then the Holy Ghost will convict and punish us for the sake of 
justice or righteousness. O merciful God, how poor and contemptible is 
our justice in Thy sight ! Therefore, says St. Augustine : "Woe to all 
justice and woe over again, if God, when He comes, will not judge our 
justice according to His mercy." And Isaias says: "All our justices 
are as the rag of a menstruous woman." (Isaias lxiv. 6.) And our 
Lord thus taught His well-loved disciples: "When you shall have done 
all these things that are commanded you, say : We are unprofitable 
servants." (Luke xxvii, 10.) What deception is plainer, children, 
than that by which a man reckons himself to be what in reality he is 
not. Many a one is so infatuated with his own way of acting, that he 
will yield to neither God nor man; indeed, such men very carefully 
guard against giving themselves up to God. When the Divine warnings 
overtake them, whether coming from God direct or through some inter- 
mediary, they pay no heed to them — unmortified men, pleasing neither 
to God nor to His creatures. But it may happen that the Holy Ghost 
visits them with the judgment and condemnation of their spiritual 
exercises and methods; and then such a man confesses his faults in all 
sincerity, learns in his own heart the lessons of self-denial, humility, 
and all other virtues that fit him for eternal happiness. 

Children, the Holy Ghost, as our Lord tells us, will convince the 
world of judgment. And this applies to any man who, blind to his: own 
faults, sits in judgment upon other men's faults. Our Saviour t< 
"Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with whnt judgment 3 ou 
judge, you shall be judged, and with what measure you mete ii shall be 
measured to you again." (Matt, vii, 1-2.) Children, it has come to 
pass nowadays, that everybody, without exception is wanting in this 
respect — clergy and laity, bishops, priests, monks, provincials, abbots, 
nobles and common people, these are ever judging and condemning one 
another, and thereby building up a high wall between themselves and 
God. Be on your guard against this failing, as you love God and His 
eternal bliss. On the contrary, judge and condemn yourselves. 1 
will be of much benefit to you, and will save you from being condem ted 
by the eternal God and all His blessed saints. 

Children, never condemn anything whatsoever, unless it is manifestly 
and openly a grievous sin. Bite your tongue till it bleeds rather than 
speak words in condemnation of others, be it in matters greal or small. 
What seems evil to thee, do thou silently recommend to God's eternal 
justice. From the practice of judging one's neighbor grows u;- a habit 



280 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

of self-righteousness, pride and contempt for one's neighbor, the seed 
of Satan, by means of which inany a heart is defiled. This is a sign 
that the Holy Ghost is not really present, Who would guide the soul to 
right and timely judgment, as necessity and one's office would require. 
It sometimes happens that in healing one wound, a man by his violent 
temper inflicts three or four other wounds. Hard words should not be 
used in collection, but rather those of affection. One should not crush 
another's heart ; love, all kindly and meek, should be the invariable rule 
in administering correction, whether among clergy or laity. By this 
spirit one keeps his own soul in meekness; he never loses self-control, 
but knows in all calmness of mind what he is about, whether he be 
addressing many or few; never failing to treat others in all single- 
mindedness as he would be treated by them; setting aside in silence all 
that does not strictly belong to the duty in hand. 

Children, assume no airs of superior wisdom. Look in all simplicity 
into your own hearts and study yourselves in body and soul. Go not 
astray after God's deep secrets, such as Divine emanation and Divine 
immanation, the difference between being and not being, or essence of 
being in the soul. Christ has taught that the secret things of God are 
not for us to know. Hold fast by the faith, the true and simple faith ; 
believe in one God and three Divine persons without a multiplicity of 
fine distinctions. Sabellius and Arius had wonderful imaginings about 
the Trinity, and Solomon and Origen have transmitted to Holy Churcl' 
wonderful disquisitions — and what has been their eternal fate? Wt 
know not. Take heed to yourselves; permit no one to answer for you 
except yourselves. Have regard to God and His holy will ; stick to the 
calling in which God has placed you, and fulfill it truly and with a 
pure intention. 

If you do not know what God's will may be in any matter, then seek 
counsel of men more enlightened by God's Holy Spirit than you are. If 
none such are at hand, then go direct to God, and doubt not but that He 
will give you all needed direction ; stand fast by that. But if even this 
leaves you doubtful, then diligently seek out the way most unpleasant to 
flesh and blood and to which you have the least inclination ; follow that 
to begin with, for God most certainly dwells and His grace increases in 
a heart that is dead to self. 

Now, children, since God's well-loved disciples cannot receive the 
Holy Ghost until Christ Jesus has in this way departed from *;hem, it 
behooves us also to willingly prepare ourselves for that de ^arture. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 281 

Give up all things for God, and without doubt God will give you Him- 
self in all things. Do that, children; do it earnestly, resting your 
thoughts in the inward life in very truth, and your reward even in this 
world will be wonderfully great. 

Our Saviour also teaches, that when the Holy Ghost comes He will 
teach us all things, even future things. This does not mean that we 
shall be taught beforehand whether the corn harvest will be great or the 
price high or low ; but that He will teach us all that is necessary for a 
perfect life. He will teach us the secret wisdom of God: that this 
world is false, our natural lights are misguiding, that the evil spirits are 
crafty. Children, go forward steadfastly in God's paths and with all 
discretion ; look well to the duties of your state of life as being God's 
merciful vocation — be ever-faithful in this course. Do not act as some 
do: if God would have them bv their vocation cultivate the inner life, 

mi 

they forthwith turn away to the outward life; and if He calls them to 
the outward life, they turn obstinately to the inward life — spirits hard 
and perverse. 

Now, children, it is in this wise that the Holy Ghost teaches us all 
truth when He comes to us: He reveals to us our sins as they are in 
reality, and He annihilates us in our own eyes; He shows us how to live 
purely and simply for truth and according to truth ; He teaches us how 
to sink down with true humility in subjection to God and all of God's 
creatures. Is not this real knowledge? Does it not embrace in itself 
all the knowledge and all the wisdom a man needs for perfection and 
happiness? namely, genuine humility, deep seated in the soul. This is 
very different from the humility of some men, who humble themselves 
in words, and if you use the very same words about them, they will not 
tolerate it for an instant. This meekness is not well grounded ; there 
is little good back of it, for such people are self-absorbed. Nor can a 
man's life ever amount to anything with our Lord, unless he has real 
and heartfelt humility. May God grant us sincere subjection of soul 
under His hand and under all His creatures. May He draw us into 
entire conformity to His holy will. May His Holy Spirit come to us 
and possess us with His grace, teaching us all the truth of His holy way 
of life. Amen. 



282 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



ijmdmng tlje (Doming of % ijolu, C&hoat 

Synopsis — The wilfully wicked are the first class ivho reject the Spirit, 
being slaves of vice — Good men lessen His influence in their souls 
by using mechanically the outicard parts of the confession and 
communion, nor fully adverting to the interior graces — Some suf- 
fer themselves to be deluded by fancied visions. — This often comes 
from mistaken thoughts about our Lord's humanity — The true 
iniy of meditating on Christ's humanity. 



SECOND SERMON FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER. 

It is expedient to you that I go ; for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to 
you. — John xvi, 7. 

Mark well, dear children, to how high a place a man must he con- 
ducted if he shall achieve perfect happiness. That can only come to 
pass by his sincerely renouncing all those things that are most pleasing 
to human nature. From all these he must be mortified; he must let 
them all go, no matter how good and precious they may seem to him, 
nay. even holy and spiritual. The disciples of Christ — were they not 
required to give up their Master in His humanity, so full of grace, so 
holy and so beloved? And this was expedient to them, in order that 
they might he made capable of receiving the Holy Ghost. Therefore, no 
man shall be fit to receive Divine grace whose heart is in possession of 
creatures. Three kinds of obstacles in as many kinds of men hinder 
the coming of the Holy Ghost. 

The first class are wilfully wicked men. having their pleasures in 
creatures against God's law ; far away from God's paths are these. Of 
these the Psalmist speaks: ''Cursed are they that depart from the way 
of the Lord" (Ps. cxviii, 21) ; that is to say, go away from God to 
creatures. And there are others who are really good people, but who 
are anxious about their needs, or who take over much pleasure in out- 
ward things. Therefore does our Lord oppose them, saying: "He that 
loveth his life shall lose it." (John xii, 25.) He means carnal love of 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 283 

life; and He immediately adds: "He that hateth his life in this world, 
keepeth it into life eternal." These latter are the ones who resist and 
suppress their disorderly appetites. 

The second hindrance of good men to attaining real spirituality, is 
misunderstanding the seven sacraments, fixing their soul too exclusively 
upon the outward signs therein, and thereby failing to obtain the full 
inward grace; for the holy sacraments are instituted to lead us to single- 
hearted truth. Thus the married life is a sign of the union of the 
Divine and the human natures in Christ, and also represents the espou- 
sals of the soul with God. Hence those who rest wholly upon the out- 
ward sign in this sacrament, through their sensual understanding of it 
prevent its helping them to the eternal truth ; they do not live rightly in 
the married state. 

Again, some men lean too much on the outward part of the sacrament 
of penance, on the saying of its prayers and on the confession of sin, 
not going down into its very truth. To admonish these our Saviour 
said : "He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean 
wholly." (John xiii, 10.) Which means that when a man has washed 
his soul once by a good confession, being deeply penitent and honestly 
confessing all his sins, he need not suppose he must keep on repenting 
his old sins, already repented of, already confessed. Let him tell his 
daily venial sins; let him, as it were, wash his feet from the petty faults 
of life as his conscience reproves him, and thereby he shall be made 
clean wholly. 

And good men are often burdened by the outward customs they 
observe in receiving our Lord in holy Communion. They have so many 
outward devotions that these consume their interior fervor. The true 
sacramental state is an interior longing for God and an interior union 
with Him, and not a union in appearance only. Hence some do not 
receive this sacrament properly, for this and all sacraments lead us to 
God in all simplicity of truth. 

We must realize that God is to be rightly adored by all men, in all 
states of life, and at all times. Now whosoever would rightly adore the 
heavenly Father, must set his soul into solitude, and give himself up to 
his longing for God, and have steadfast confidence in Him ; and this con- 
dition belongs to the highest part of the soul. When thus placed, the 
spirit of a man rests oblivious to time and to bodily life. St. Paul bids 
us ever to rejoice, give thanks to God without ceasing and always to pray. 
To pray without ceasing is to do all one's works in God's love, mean- 



284 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

while renouncing all self-gratulation in them, and at the same time to 
bow down humbly before God, and give up our souls freely to His influ- 
ence. When these dispositions are united together in the highest fac- 
ulties of the soul, then is the soul spiritualized. It then cleaves to God 
with perfect union of its will. It becomes, as it were, divinized, and 
then a man begins first to have the right and true adoration of God, 
for he has attained the end for which he was created. 

2s"ow there are some, yes, there are many, who do not adore the Father 
rightly and in truth. For as often as we pray to God on account simply 
of benefiting by creatures, we pray to our own injury. The creature is 
what it is — a creature, and can only bring with it bitterness, hurt and 
evil. Men who pray for created things, without any spiritual intention, 
are rightly served when they suffer misery ; they have implicitly prayed 
for the infliction they now endure. Whosoever seeks God and seeks 
anything else with Him, will not find Him. Whosoever seeks God alone 
in all sincerity, will find Him and all besides that God may give. 

Many good men are hindered from their perfection, because they rest 
in a deluded spirit upon the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, by 
which means they give themselves up too much to visions. They see 
in spirit angels or men, or the humanity of Christ ; and they believe the 
words they think are spoken to them, assuring them that they are God's 
favorites, or that certain persons have committed sins or practiced 
virtues, or that God is going to do something by their means. By all of 
which they are often deceived, for whatsoever God does, He does by His 
goodness; he has no need of creatures. Hence our Lord said to His 
disciples: "It is expedient to you that I go." This was because He 
would lead them to higher perfection. Even His humanity was a 
hindrance to them, because they cleaved to it with inordinate pleasure. 
They must follow God in all their ways, and His humanity should lead 
them to His Godhead. Christ said : "I am the way, and the truth, and 
the life. No man cometh to the Father but by Me." (John xiv, 6.) 
Hence those men are much mistaken who flatter themselves that they 
can do anything good of themselves. Jesus Himself said : "From God 
I proceeded and came; for I came not of Myself." (John viii, 42.) 

We must adore the humanity of Christ only on account of its union 
with the Godhead. The man Christ is truly God, and God is truly man. 
Let us not concern ourselves with any creature; let us be absorbed in 
God, in our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is our way to the Father. 
And yet even where we have entered mentally upon the way of truth 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 



285 



that Christ is, even vet. I say, we are not perfectly happy, although we 
have caught sight of Divine truth. For as a matter of fact, when we 
only contemplate an object we are not yet made one with it, nor can 
this take place while it remains in our understanding associated with 
anything else. Because where there is only one, then only one is seen; 
and hence we cannot see God except in blindness, nor know Him except 
in unknowing. "No soul can come to God." says St. Augustine, "except 
it goes to Him without creatures, and tastes Him as an incomparable 
sweetness." 

Because the soul is a creature, therefore must it give itself up and go 
out of itself in the moment of contemplation ; yea, even give up for the 
moment the contemplation of all the angels and saints. These are all 
but creatures, and taken in themselves can only interfere wifh the 
soul's Divine union. When the soul stands free and in need of nothing 
whatsoever, then it can come to God, as it were, resembling Himself; 
for nothing helps union so well as resemblance. As soon as the soul 
takes on the Divine colors, as it may be expressed, so soon does God 
grant Himself to the soul's powers, and then the soul grows in a Divine 
resemblance, and is, if we dare say so, tinted and shaded with the 
colors of the Divinity. The image is in the soul's powers, the resem- 
blance is in its virtues, the Divine coloring is in the union. And thus 
what we may call God-coloring becomes so intimate, that the soul seems 
no longer to act in the form of a creature, but in the divinely colored 
form of its union with God. And while the soul is in a state of contem- 
plation of God and has grown into this yet closer union with Him, and 
after He is yet more deeply poured into the soul's depths and has drawn 
it wholly to Himself, then it happens that there remains no power in the 
soul to know what sort of a being it is now to consider itself to be; 
yet meanwhile God holds it in its place as a creature. Thus it is that 
the light of grace expels from thee the light of nature; for the higher 
the soul is elevated in the knowledge that the light of grace gives, the 
darker grows the light of nature. If the soul will know the very truth, 
let it consider whether or not it be withdrawn from all things, whether or 
not it is lost to itself, loves God with real love, and is not hindered from 
Him by anything whatsoever; and finally whether or not He alone 
lives within it. If the soul can answer rightly to all this, then it has 
lost Christ, as His mother Mary lost Him in the temple, as He tarried 
in the school of His Father's highest doctrine, and seemed no longer to 
think of even His mother — only to find Him again, as she did, in greater 



28G The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

joy. Thus it is with that noble soul that goes to school to the Godhead, 
there to learn what God is in relation to the humanity of Christ. There, 
too, it learns to know the most adorable will of God. That man is most 
perfectly God's man, who does all and loves all and wills all in the 
will of His heavenly Father. That we may all come to this happy 
state and be freed from every hindrance thereto, may God grant us. 
Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 287 



Prayer ta Uttfjout iFruit 

Synopsis — The first and greatest gift ice should ask is love; and then 
guidance as to how to pray; after that we should calmly but 
closely look into our good thoughts — Prayer is made fruitless by 
disordered interior affections — Before God's love co)iies in all 
other love must go out, or be ready to be sanctified — Interior re- 
sentments hinder good prayer, and often stifle even the graces of 
Holy Communion — Discouragement after faults is a serious hin- 
drance to fruitful prayer — The example of the prayer of Lazarus, 
the beggar. 



SERMON FOR THE ROGATION DAYS. 

Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to hiui at midnight, and shall 
say to him : Friend, lend me three loaves ; because a friend of mine is come off 
his journey to me. and I have not what to set before him. And he from within 
should answer, and say : Trouble me not, the door is now shut, and my children 
are with me in bed ; I cannot rise and give to thee. Yet if he shall continue knock- 
ing, I say to you, although he will not rise and give to him because he is his 
friend ; yet, because of his importunity, he will rise and give him as many as he 
needeth. — Luke xi, 5-9. 

This is part of our Lord's teaching about how we should pray. And he 
immediately adds : "And I say to you : Ask, and it shall be given you ; 
seek, and you shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every 
one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that 
knocketk, it shall be opened." Now let us consider the difference 
between asking, seeking and knocking. Asking means the turning of 
a really interior man to God, begging some favor with deep sincerity. 
Seeking is praying for something because we have a particularly earnest 
longing to posses it more than other things. Knocking means con- 
stancy in one's petition, never giving up till one has obtained what he 
asks for. 

Venerable Bede explains this teaching thus : "The friend spoken of by 
our Lord is the soul of man, which, having strayed away into distant 
and foreign lands of unspiritual thoughts, returns again and again to 
itself hungry and thirsty after all good, and finds nothing granted to it. 
Then that soul turns to its friend, namely, God, and, standing before 



288 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

His door, prays and knocks, begging three loaves of Him, meaning the 
knowledge of the Holy Trinity. He that is within excuses Himself, and 
says that He has gone to bed and so have His servants; and these 
servants mean God's appointed teachers, who are absorbed with Him 
in a state of holy contemplation. But the soul, standing without at the 
door, perseveres, and it continues to knock, until He that is within at 
last arises and gives him what he desires." He gives him His answer 
by means of teachers, or by directly teaching him without any interme- 
diary. And this is why Christ said : "Ask, and it shall be given you ; 
seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you." 

Here we may remark God's unspeakable goodness ; for He grants us 
gladly just for the asking, and He earnestly bids us ask, exhorts us to 
do so, and teaches us how. But His gifts are not granted to the sloth- 
ful, but to earnest askers and to those who persevere in their petitions. 

And what shall we ask? Love. When one sets himself to pray, 
when he calls home his wandering thoughts and banishes all distrac- 
tions, then let him with genuine humility cast himself at God's feet and 
crave love as an alms from the Divine charity ; let him knock at the door 
of his Father's heart, and beg as a gift the bread of love. If one had 
all the food in the world except bread, his meals would be tasteless and 
unprofitable. So is it with regard to all things without Divine love. 

Again, let a man beg God's guidance as to how he shall pray. Ask 
of God that prayer that pleases Him best, that kind of interior exercise 
that will serve thy soul's best interests. After having done that, accept 
whatsoever devout thoughts come before thee, whether they be of the 
Godhead simply, of the blessed Trinity, or of the sufferings and the 
wounds of our Lord. 

Remember that all are not able to pray wholly with spiritual acts of 
the mind, for many must pray with words. Dear child, pray to our 
Lord as thou canst, with all possible pious and Divine words, and thou 
shalt find thy heart and mind enraptured with joy. And pray to thy 
heavenly Father, that through the merits of His only begotten Son He 
will present His own blessed self to thy soul as the object of thy worship, 
in whatever manner is most pleasing to Him. Then when thou findest 
any manner or method of praying very productive of devotion and most 
pleasing to thee, stick to that— whether it be the sorrowful thought of 
thy sins, or anything else whatsoever. Our Lord's way for us to seek 
and to find, is seeking and finding the grace to do His will and to best 
serve our neighbor. Knock at that door with all persistence: he that 
perseveres shall be granted the crown. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 280 

Our Saviour says : "And which of yon, if lie ask his father bread, will 
he give him a stone? Or a fish — will he for a fish give him a serpent? 
Or if he shall ask an egg, will be reach him a scropion? If you then, 
being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more 
will your Father in Heaven give the good spirit to them that ask Him?" 
(Luke xi, 11-13.) Now, the gift of a fish may be taken to mean confi- 
dencejn God, and the gift of an egg may signify living faith. 

But if truth itself says, "Ask and you shall receive," how does it hap 
pen that so many men are asking their lives long and the living bread is 
never given them? And yet we know that God is unspeakably kind and 
a thousand times more ready to grant than man is to receive His favors. 
They utter the same devout prayers every day — Pater Nosters, the psal- 
ter, and other prayers taught us by the Holy Spirit, and yet they are not 
heard. There must be some great cause for this, and it is a wonderful 
thing. Children, I will reveal it to you : Your inmost hearts, your love 
and your intention are all in the possession of some alien affection. 
Whatever it may be that you expend your love upon, the living or the 
dead, yourself or your kindred, that holds possession of your heart, it 
occupies the place that true Divine love should occupy, that love which 
is God's bread of life. Pray and ask as you like, and as much as you 
like, and it is all in vain. Hence Hugo of St. Victor teaches : "That a 
man can live without some love or other is as impossible as thai he can 
live without a soul." 

Let each one study carefully his own case. Remember that before 
one love can come in, the other love must go out. See to it at once, says 
St. Augustine, that thou art filled with the right love. Men come with 
their worldly hearts to God, hearts preoccupied in their inmost depths, 
and when they pray and ask, the heavenly bread is not given them. Is 
this God's fault? If they get a stone instead of bread, is it not their 
own stony heart, dry and cold, from which all devotion and grace are 
absent? They read many good books, and they enjoy them, but what 
they read does not open the springs of grace in their souls. As a man 
does his daily task of work and sleeps and wakes and works again and 
over again, so does he pray, and all in the same routine spirit ; and he 
thinks that that is enough. Meanwhile his heart is as hard as a mill- 
stone, and is not any more capable of being softened or broken. If you 
happen to propose anything to him that he does not like, whether to do 
or not to do, you soon find that you are beating upon a heart of stone. 
Dear child, beware of this hardness of spirit. And have little to say to 
such a man ; deliver thy message in one word and l!y from him ; let it 



290 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

be our Lord's: Yea, yea, or no, no. Take care lest such a one cast 
his stone at thy head — avoid it, be on thy guard, never answer him with 
hard words, shut thy lips tight and raise thy heart to God: Do this, I 
beseech thee, and do it for God's sake. Always be like a meek and 
gentle lamb in dealing with those who oppose thee. Be silent, be 
patient, keep a close watch on thy feelings. Stoniness of soul often lies 
hidden for a long time, until in some way or other one becomes con- 
scious of it. 

Let me assure you that when I find these men harboring hidden hate 
and resentment and refusing to give it up, I will not allow them to 
receive the Lord's body. There are many who go to confession for 
twenty or thirty years, and never do it rightly, nor are every rightly 
absorbed, and yet always afterwards receive the blessed Sacrament — 
a most distressing, a most terrible thing. The Pope himself, who has 
the highest power in Christendom, could not validly absolve such men. 
The oftener they receive holy communion, and the more they pray and 
do good works, the harder and stonier grow their hearts, and the blinder 
and duller do they become; they fancy that all is well with them, for 
they are trusting to the outward good deeds they do. Better do no 
good thing, than to approach our Lord in communion without quitting 
their sinful state and curing the cause of it. Be sure of this : God will 
never allow such conduct to go unpunished ; He will visit it with penal- 
ties, not only for the soul's pain, but also for the body's — they will 
receive a serpent instead of a fish. 

Children, another bad trait in these men is their tendency to rash 
judgment. The serpent instills his poison into them, and they spit it 
out upon their neighbor by making little of his good deeds and by 
destroying his reputation, their evil work extending in all directions. 
They never consider their own state of sin, but watch and count their 
neighbor's sins, often playing their snake-like part by injecting their 
poison secretly. Be on your guard against this; judge yourselves, and 
judge nobody else. 

And, again, such men have received a scorpion instead of an egg; 
that is to say, they are deluded about themselves and cultivate a false 
confidence in their supposed virtue ; and they despise others. Why, they 
ask, shall not I get on as well as such and such others? Do not 1 pray, 
and read pious books, and sing pious hymns, and live as well as they do ? 
Just as the scorpion shows no venom with his mouth, and yet stings with 
his tail. Such is the case with those whose confidence is misplaced and 
falsely grounded. And what happens when they begin to realize that 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 291 

they are wrong? They fall into despair, and they are stung with death's 
poisonous sting, and are lost eternally. 

Children, this comes from the dreadful failure to take true account of 
what is going on in the interior of the soul, and what offenses against 
God we have committed. Children, it is for this reason that some sins 
are reserved for absolution to the Pope, some to specially appointed con- 
fessors and to bishops. This is by no means done foolishly, but that men 
may learn the difference between various kinds of sins, think of them 
more intelligently, and thereby have greater sorrow for them and guard 
more carefully against committing them. Children, did you but koow 
how horrible a sin it is to drink the precious blood of Christ our God — 
blood poured out for love of us — while the soul is in this wicked state, 
you would be ready to expire with grief. It is for this reason that in 
some monasteries it is the rule to receive communion only once in three 
weeks, so that each one may have full time rightly to prepare for this 
great banquet, and that it may have full opportunity to complete its 
good results within him. But as to you, you should stimulate your 
hearts to ardent longings to receive holy communion, and establish a 
custom of often doing so. Pray to our Lord that He take this prepara- 
tion of thy soul into His own hands. Live kindly disposed toward all, 
be inclined to the interior life, be humble to all men, and be detached 
from created things. 

A certain master was once asked, how it pleased him that certain 
persons wished to receive our Lord oftener than was the custom in their 
community. He answered: "May our Lord God be praised, and may 
we rejoice in our hearts that there are any who long and yearn after God 
in this manner; the inmates of whatever monastery that has them, 
should most earnestly help them to enjoy this privilege." But such as 
these should carefully abstain from thinking that those who act differ- 
ently are worse than they are. For others there are who often abstain 
from motives of humility, deeming themselves unworthy of so high a 
favor. And if it should happen that anyone sits in judgment on thee, 
and, as it were, throws stones of condemnation at thee in the shape of 
hard words, let this be to thee as if it came direct upon thee from God 
Himself. 

And there are other stones: As when a man is sincerely detached 
from this world and longs for God with all his heart, and yet his soul 
remains hard and dry, cold and dull. If thou art thus afflicted, then I bid 
thee stand carefully on thy guard, suffer this spiritual dryness patiently, 
and willingly continue in it. Take heed lest thou seek a solace for it in 



292 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

some alien comfort, which, indeed, can only result in interior disorder. 
Stay at home in thy desolate heart. Attack thy faults, condemn thyself 
severely for them with resolute courage, chastise thyself hard. And if 
this judgment of God rests on thee a whole year long, all the better. 
Keep on stoning thy guilty self in God's presence. 

And just the same shouldst thou do immediately that thou art con- 
scious of having committed some fault. Confess it to God without any 
delay. And if this defect escapes thy mind when thou dost make thy 
confession to the priest, be sure that thy sincere repentance more than 
compensates for this lapse of memory, for the sacrament of confession 
is given to Holy Church primarily for the remission of mortal sins; and 
one should not be distressed with doubts in any venial matters. It 
may be that thou shalt imagine that the devout exercises of thy voca- 
tion hinder thy spiritual progress ; such exercises, I mean, as assisting 
in choir, and the usual works done by obedience to rule. But this is a 
delusion. Be by no means diverted from keeping thy rule, for disorder 
in this respect would be the real hindrance to thy progress. If thou 
shouldst yield to this error, it would show that the actual cause of thy 
trouble is that thy love of God is not disinterested, that thy resolutions 
have not been made with purity of intention, and that thou art in reality 
preoccupied with alien things, and art become thy own real hindrance. 

Jesus once said: "I am the door. By Me, if any man enter in, he 
shall be saved." (John x, 9.) Now it is on three parts of this door 
that a man must knock if he would be surely let in. First, he must 
knock at our Lord Jesus Christ's heart, which is invitingly offered him, 
and which was cut in two after His death. And when he enters in, let 
him do so with profound reverence, avowing his utter poverty, his abso- 
lute nothingness; let him take pattern by poor Lazarus who lay at the 
rich man's door; let him crave the crumbs that fall from the table of 
God's grace. The grace that will be granted thee will change thee into 
a divinely supernatural being. 

The second knock must be on the holy wounds in our Redeemer's 
blessed hands, wounds ever open to thee. This knock is to obtain real 
Godlike knowledge, which will be like His wounded hands guiding thee 
and lifting thee upwards. Then knock on the door of His holy feet, 
begging the gift of true Divine love, whereby thou sbalt be united to 
Him, sunk into Him, enclosed within Him. - That we may all pray thus, 
asking and seeking and knocking, and that we may all be called within,, 
may God grant us. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 293 



»m (UlirtBt Ipbrafta Mm 

Synopsis — Both by outward authority and interior voices Christ re- 
proaches us for our shortcomings — Slowness to believe Him im- 
plicitly is one fault : men believe without relishing the truth — 
This arises from ill-ordered affection for created things — Another 
fault is preferring the outer to the inner ways of serving God — 
Disdain of weaker brethren is also offensive to Him — Richard 
of St. Victor's four degrees of love. 



FIRST SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION. 

At length He appeared to the eleven as they were at table ; and He upbraided 
them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe 
them who had seen Him after He was risen again. — Mark xvi, 14. 

This reproach of our dear Lord is spoken every day, and it is directed 
against men of all conditions who have hard and unbelieving hearts. 
But it is especially meant for members of approved religious orders, or 
others in like state of life. The message sometimes comes to them from 
our Lord through His appointed teachers, sometimes by the inner voice 
of conscience, if men would but hearken to it. All persons in this state 
of life well deserve to be reproached, if they are hard of heart and 
unready to believe, for it is a favor exceptionally great that they should 
be called by God to so high a spiritual vocation; it is something for 
which they should thank God sincerely and love Him fervently. 

Our Saviour upbraids these men for their hardness of heart and in- 
credulity, but they receive His reproof ungraciously. Would that they 
acknowledged their fault ; then they would be open to good advice. St. 
James teaches: -Faith without works is dead." (James ii, 26.) If 
they, in answer, quote our Lord : ''He that believeth and is baptized 
shall be saved" (Mark xvi, 16), and add that they make professions of 
their faith with their mouth, they are silenced by St. Paul : 'Know you 
not that all we who are baptized in Christ Jesus are baptized in His 
death?" (Rom. vi, 3.) And St. Augustine teaches: "That is not true 
faith which stops at the mouth alone, and does not go on to God with 



294 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

living love and good works." Our lack of faith clearly appears if any- 
thing suits us better than God, or if we cannot truly say : Thou art my 
God, and nothing is well with me except in Thee. These men have, in j 
fact, fallen off from a real and living faith; and this is true of them, 
though they have the name of spiritual men and have been under God's 
influence, even supernaturally, sleeping or waking, and have been 
admonished by Him in their inmost soul. 

It is an awful thing that when our Lord has upbraided them for 
hardness of heart and has called out unto them, they yet do not relish 
Divine things. They have no taste for their prayers and spiritual prac- 
tices, whereas other things give them great pleasure. Their hearts are 
soft to many things, but are stony enough to God. Of such as these — 
if God will save them — the Lord spoke by His prophet: "And 1 will 
take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart 
of flesh." (Ezech. xi, 19.) 

And let us ask what makes these men's hearts hard? Why are they 
so dry and cold about all good works, or only do them by a sort of out- 
ward observance? It is because their heart cherishes something that 
is not God, and continues in that state in spite of our Lord's admoni- 
tion. Of this He spoke by Jeremias : "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at 
this, and ye gates thereof be very desolate, saith the Lord. For My 
people have done two evils. They have forsaken Me, the fountain of 
living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns — broken cisterns, 
that can hold no water." (Jer. ii, 12-13.) What comes into the cistern 
of their heart is foul and dirty rain water. They have nothing of God 
in their hearts, and that is the great evil that God, through the prophet, 
laments in the sight of Heaven and earth. 

And of what people does he complain ? Alas, it is of His own people, 
men in spiritual states of life. These are the ones who have forsaken 
the fountain of living water that God is. In their interior they have 
little left of light and life. They remain in their external observances 
and methods, clinging to the outward part and not at all penetrating to 
the inner meaning, from which alone all good must spring forth. And 
even their external conformity slips away from them as soon as it ceases 
to please. At best, all their spirituality consists in their observances, 
and these they have undertaken according to their own way of thinking. 
They never turn to the interior life; for that they have no thirst, and 
in their souls its waters do not spring up. If they go through their 
outward routine, they are content and all is well with them, in their 






of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 295 

own opinion. They are satisfied with their broken cistern ; its waters 
are good enough for them, but God is not sweet to them, and they drink 
not from His living waters. They lie down at night, they rise in the 
morning, always following their old-established devotional customs — in 
them they rest, for with them they are pleased. The Lord says of them 
by the prophet that they have done unchastely and have become unclean, 
because they have forsaken Him, the fountain of living water, and 
digged to themselves broken cisterns. The foulness of these cisterns is 
in their adhering to external practices without the inward spirit — 
inward, indeed, are found only pride, self-will and stiff-neckedness. 

As to their neighbor, they have no love nor any kindly feelings for 
him, and they speak injurious words, uttering them against him regard- 
less of circumstances of time and place. Many of them would, indeed, 
help their neighbor, but it is with rash zeal; like one who, in striving to 
put out the fire in his neighbor's house, sets fire to and burns his own — 
he has enough of destructive zeal in him to burn two or three houses 
if he had the opportunity. If some poor, afflicted soul comes to them, 
they call him a bad man or a silly creature. Ah, you are good cisterns, 
indeed ! If your desert waste of hearts flowed with living waters, you 
would make no distinction of persons. There would be no belittling of 
others, nor harsh judgments, nor oppressive treatment, if God's love 
were in your souls. And in all these cisterns the muddy waters are ever 
growing more foul. 

It sometimes happens that these cisterns are men of cultivated minds, 
speaking high things, having fine intelligence. As those just treated of 
are self-satisfied with their outward appearance of good works, so are 
these proud of their noble words and their elevated thoughts. What, 
think you, will be their fate when the storm of wrath overtakes them 
and sweeps them away, them and all their vain conceits — these miser- 
able plagues of humanity? Then will be heard such lamentation as is 
almost incredible; and it will come from men who made a parade of 
external holiness in works and words, and within were void of all living 
virtue, cisterns into which all filth had been cast. One blow from 
Satan's axe and the ruin is complete; all is scattered abroad, not a drop 
of good is found within, and the outward show is broken to pieces. 

Children, you will one day remember what I have said to you, though 
it be only in the other world. I know perfectly well that this false show 
of virtue is common enough among all those men who, though in devout 
states of life, cling to external virtue only, blindly practicing the out- 



296 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

ward good without the inward spirit. And I know that many Chris- 
tians living in the world in the state of matrimony, as well as many 
widows, far surpass in virtue such pretended spiritual men. May God 
in His mercy convert them in their last hours. And if He does, then 
doubtless they will suffer an incredibly severe and prolonged purgatory, 
far removed from the joy of God's presence. I beseech you for the love 
of God, children, to examine your soul's interior motives with every 
possible vigilance. Be kind and gentle, be subject to God and to every 
creature, for of you does God complain to earth and Heaven and all His 
creation. To Heaven — that means all good and heavenly hearts; for 
every good man is God's paradise. The wicked come close to Heaven 
and never enter in. The greatest torment of the damned, is the cer- 
tainty that they shall never enter Heaven. 

Our Lord says to the soul through His prophet : "Thou hast prosti- 
tuted thyself to many lovers ; nevertheless return to Me, saith the Lord, 
and I will receive thee." (Jer. iii, 1.) This means: Come to Me, O 
soul, and I will pour into thee the living waters of holy sorrow — if thou 
wilt only come to Me in whole-hearted sincerity. Adore the boundless 
and unspeakable mercy of God. See how gladly He helps us, if we are 
but willing to be helped, how affectionately He receives us, if we will 
but return to Him. But the Lord has said to those who will not 
return : "Therefore will I yet contend in judgment with you" (Jer. ii, 9) . 
Is not that to be a fearful contention; and do we not know w r ho will 
get the upper hand? Take care lest He does not at the last say to thee 
That thou art not of His sheep. For His sheep hear His voice, and the 
voice of strangers they hear not nor go after them. 

And what is the "prostitution wdth many lovers" of which the Lord 
speaks? Taken in a spiritual sense, it means — if it be no worse — 
delivering one's soul up to a sort of devotional sensuality, being quite 
seduced by the sweetness in the external forms and figures of religion. 
For the sake of all this does the soul depart from that chaste service of 
God, which alone is sincere because it is interior. 

But return to Me, He says, and I will give you living water. This 
He tells of in two places in the gospel : "If any man thirst, let him come 
to Me, and drink. He that believelh in Me, as the scripture saith: 
Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John vii, 37, 38) ; and 
again to the woman at the well : "He that shall drink of the water that 
I shall give him, shall not thirst forever;" He had previously said to 
her: "If thou didst know the gift of God, and who He is that saith to 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 297 

thee : Give me to drink ; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of Him, and 
He would have given thee living water" (John iv, 10, and 13, 14) . And 
now when the woman asked Him for this water, He refused her. And 
He showed her why, by revealing to her His knowledge of her living in 
unlawful union with a certain man. As if to say : Before I give thee 
the waters of Divine grace, cleanse the cistern of thy soul from sin, 
study thy wickedness, and come to Me and confess thy sin humbly and 
completely — only then shall the waters of life be thine. When He told 
her that she had lived unlawfully with five men, it was as if He spoke 
of the five senses, which the sinful soul uses for forbidden purposes. 
This makes it unworthy of the living springs of God's love. As thus : 
Be converted from thy disorderly life, return to Me, and I will receive 
thee. 

The Lord spoke thus by the prophet : ''My Beloved had a vineyard 
on a hill in a fruitful place. And he fenced it in, and picked the stones 
out of it, and planted it with the choicest vines, and built a tower in the 
midst thereof, and set up a wine-press therein; and He looked that it 
should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes" (Isaias 
v, 1, 2). God addressed this to the people of Israel, but it applies to 
all people to the end of the world. To every unfaithful soul He says : 
Thou hast become bitter to Me; I planted thee a vineyard of choicest 
vines, and from them only sour wine has come forth — bad deeds are the 
result of all my care for thee. And therefore I will contend in judg- 
ment with thee — unless thou art converted to Me and ask for the living 
waters of My love. 

Richard of St. Victor, a great master of spiritual doctrine, speaks of 
this living water as being four degrees of love. The first degree is 
wounded love. God wounds the soul with a stroke i. f true love, and it 
is thus He grants it the living waters of grace. And then the soul in 
turn wounds God with its stroke of love. For the Lord thus speaks to 
the bride in the Canticles: "Thou hast wounded My heart. My sisler. 
My spouse, thou hast wounded My heart with one of thy eyes, and with 
one hair of thy neck" (Cant, iv, 9) . Here the word eye means an eager 
glance of the intelligence, resting on God and on Him alone; and the 
word hair means pure and unalloyed love. And it is thus that God 
may be said to be wounded. 

The second degree is captive love, as it is described by the prophet: 
"I will draw them by the cords of Adam" (Osee xi, 4). 

The third is a fainting love, described by the words of Hie bride in 
the Canticles: "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my 



298 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

beloved, that you tell Him that I languish with love" (Cant, v, 8). The 
fourth degree is a devouring love: "My soul hath fainted after Thy 
salvation ; and in Thy word I have very much hoped" (Ps. cxviii, 81) . 

To illustrate wounded love, I ask you to consider a merchant sailing 
about in a ship, his heart all wounded with desire of profit; here and 
there and everywhere he gathers his cargo till his ship is filled. Thus 
acts the soul : it gathers into itself all imaginations of its beloved, and 
is filled with thoughts of Him, is absorbed in devout practices in honor 
of the beloved one. And thus laden, the ship of the soul starts home- 
ward — a strong ship and able to withstand the storm. The wind that 
wafts the ship is love, driving it home into the Godhead, all prosperously 
and according to its longing desires. The rudder is deep down in the 
ocean that is God. 

But the wound in the soul is ever aching — the more God is granted to 
the soul the more the soul longs for Him. What seems perfect love 
turns out not so; it creates new powers of loving and receiving and 
enjoying God, new emptiness to be filled; new wounds of love are ever 
opening. And now the second degree of love begins. The Lord cuts 
in twain the cable by which He drew the ship onward. That is to say, 
he casts the soul adrift and leaves it to the mercy of the storm, break- 
ing the rudder and the oars and all that could steady it — leaving, in a 
word, a man imprisoned helplessly in love, yet abandoned seemingly by 
God, wholly unable to guide or help himself. And this is captive love. 
In the first degree He is like a knight sorely wounded in battle, and yet 
able to escape. But if he is too helpless to escape, then he is made a 
prisoner and is no longer his own master. And thus it is with love's 
captive in the second degree. He has no control over either thought or 
action : all this he must perforce yield up to the control of the beloved 
with no other law but love. May God grant us true love. May He 
enable us to give up all our own cisterns, so that into our souls the 
waters of true love may be generously poured. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 299 



5Jlj* Snid'a W\w (Eaptttriifrfi 

Synopsis — Inordinate love of creatures is the first, which is ended only 
after remorse and painful penance — The second is the lamentable 
captivity of good men by self-love, self-interested motives and self- 
indulgence — The third affects bright minds, dazzled and often 
perverted by intellectual self-conceit — The going astray aftei' 
the sweetness of devotion is another and a pitiful enslavement— 
The fifth is the delusion that increase in holiness is due to one's 
own exertions, not attributing both our activity and our power 
of suffering to God's grace alone. 



SECOND SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION. 

Ascending on high, He led captivity captive. — Bph. iv, 8. 

There are five kinds of captivity in this life, and they are very hard ; 
but Christ has taken us out of them all, if He has spiritually ascended in 
our souls. 

The first is our enslavement to creatures, whether living or dead, 
unless our captivity to them be on God's account. This arises from 
human love, a very intimate power of our nature on account of our 
kinship to one another. The injury done us is quite beyond descrip- 
tion, and is twofold. One class know themselves to be involved in it, 
dread it, suffer deep pain of mind, offer hard resistance and suffer 
keenly; all this is a good sign that they are not abandoned by God. 
God leaves such a soul in its misery day and night, whether eating or 
drinking. But when its ears are not shut to Him, soon a happier state 
is reached. 

The other class of men are in this hurtful captivity of attachment to 
creatures, and abide in it with all security of feeling, wholly deaf and 
blind to their misery. They live on quite free from anxiety, and must 
have themselves reckoned as pious men. They do many good things, 
sing and read piously, or keep the rule of silence; they serve and pray 
much. Their purpose, however, by all this is that they may be approved 
as devout souls by their fellows, and may have some feeling of being 



300 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

right with God. How dangerous a state : for all the time it is the evil 
one who guides them, keeping them in captivity. And, besides, their 
natural vagaries mislead them, and they are assailed by grievous temp- 
tations. It were better for a man in this state that he quit praying as 
he does, for he prays for what is against his own best interests — far 
better that he sank into oppression of soul and woe and sorrow. This 
would much sooner lead him to a release from his deadly captivity; for 
he is under the power of Satan, and is in danger of dying so and being 

eternally lost. 

The second captivity is that of men who have, indeed, been released 
from the slavish love of creatures and external things, but have then 
fallen into the slavery of self-love. And it is marvelous how virtuous 
this seems, and how complacently they regard it. No one reproves 
them for it, least of all do they reproach themselves. They are arrayed 
in seeming beauty of virtue — not a word can be said against them. 
And yet they seek themselves in everything— self-love guides them to 
seek their own personal advantage, enjoyment, consolation and honor. 
They are so deep sunk in self that they seek self in everything, even in 
God. Getting to the bottom of this evil, what shall we find in a state 
so false and yet so well-seeming? How hard it is to help men so self- 
indulgent, and yet so full of reasons and methods— how can they be 
freed from captivity? Who can help one who is piously absorbed in 
mere nature? Surely none but God alone. Such a man finds a thou- 
sand things necessary — his needs are everywhere and about everything, 
and his health is so delicate. Touch anything of his, his room, a 
friend, his goods, his honor, interfere in the least with his comfort, and 
he offends God with a furious outburst of passionate words or even 
deeds, sometimes by detraction and calumny. He is no longer a man- 
he is rather a snarling dog, a savage wolf. How lamentable is the 
captivity of self-love ! 

The third captivity is that of the intelligence, and some men are 
sorely injured by it. Whatsoever their brains can produce turns to 
their hurt. They glory in learning, in knowledge of doctrine, in their 
bright understanding, and their talent for speaking. It all lifts them 
up high and honorable — but it never changes for the better their mode 
of living, nor leads to good works. Even the sweet image of our Lord 
they view only from reason's standpoint. If they attempt to discourse 
in the supernatural spirit, it is in strong contrast with what is the real 
spirit. Their mind, compared to the spiritual mind, is like a candle 



of John Tauler. the Illuminated Doctor 301 

compared to the noonday sun — so much less is natural light than Divine 
light. The former shines forth outwardly in pride, self-assurance, 
seeking the applause of men, judging others. The Divinely enlightened 
reason, on the contrary, is full of real truth, tramples all self-seeking 
under foot. A true man rates himself the least of all, the meanest and 
feeblest and blindest. And this is plain fact, for what else is man face 
to face with God? And such a man looks ever inward and away from 
the outer world, seeking God in his inmost soul, in which he is begotten 
to God, and into which he is ever ready to hasten with all speed. A 
Divinely enlightened man sinks down deep in search of the root of life 
from which he has sprung. And his quest is full of energy. Hence the 
great difference between those who live up to the scripture and those 
who just read it. These latter seek praise for their knowledge of it, 
and at the same time they despise those who live up to its maxims. 
They consider such souls foolish, even perverse. They go so far as to 
curse them, scorn them and condemn them outright. Those who actually 
live according to the teaching of the scripture deem themselves sin- 
ners, and as to the others, they have a kindly, merciful feeling for them. 
And as the lives of these two classes are so different, so also is their 
end different: one class finds life and the other death. This is accord- 
ing to St. Paul: "For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" (II 
Cor. iii, 6). 

The fourth captivity is sweetness of devotion, and many men go 
astray in this, yielding up to it and sticking fast in it. It seems a great 
good thing; but it is only poor human nature cleaving to its own self in 
much joy, meanwhile dreaming that it cleaves to God. Hence let us 
carefully distinguish between God and self in all our spiritual feelings. 
Here is a test : when the sweet feeling of devotion passes away, dost 
thou feel unhappy, unrestful and distressed? Dost thou find thyself 
less faithful and willing in God's work? If so. then it is plain that 
God was not the cause of thy sensible pleasure in His service. Forty 
years of sensible devotion may suddenly end, and thou shalt be in danger 
of gravely falling away from God. And if a man had the highest degree 
of these natural feelings in his religious practices, and died in them, God 
alone knows whether or not he would be saved — he might, indeed, be 
lost. 

The fifth captivity is self-will. By this I mean the state of a man who 
is set on having his own way, and that in Divine things, nay, even as to 
God Himself. If bv an act of mv own will I could be freed from the 



302 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

guilt of my sins, and be adorned with all virtue and perfection, it would 
seem to be folly in me not to exert my will to this end. But a moment's 
thought makes me exclaim: No, Lord, no; not by my grace or gift or 
will, but by Thine alone; and, O Lord, if it were not Thy will, I had 
rather feel the want of Thy grace according to Thy will (if it be lawful 
to say so), than possess it according to my own. And by cultivating 
this sense of abandonment to God, a man gains more by far, than ever 
he could acquire from God or His creatures by virtue of his own will. 
Humble and voluntary subjection to the sense of deprivation, in a true 
spirit of detachment from one's own will, this is infinitely more profit- 
able than any efforts inspired by one's own will. I had much rather see 
a man really detached from his own will and having no great show of 
religious works, than one less detached from self-choice and abounding 
in high and showy works of virtue. 

While our Lord lived with His disciples, they so deeply and blindly 
loved His humanity, that it hindered their attaining to His divinity. 
Hence He said to them : "It is expedient to you that I go ; for if I go 
not, the Paraclete will not come to you (John xvi, 7). And He must 
remain with them forty days longer, before He could win their entire 
souls to a heavenly state, and bear them with Himself upward to God ; 
and even then they must wait ten more days before the Holy Ghost was 
sent them. What those ten days were to them, so many years must be 
to us ; for since they were to be our foundation, their preparation was 
to ours as a day is to a year. 

Let a man do what he pleases, he shall never have true peace, he shall 
never be essentially a heavenly man, until he has passed the equivalent 
of those forty days between the Lord's resurrection and His ascen- 
sion — until he has finished, as it were, his forty years of preparation. 
He can never be what God would have him to be, before God's allotted 
time is passed and over. Such a one has much to do with men by neces- 
sity of nature, driven now this way and again that way, nature often 
ruling every motive ; and yet he thinks that God is his motive — and this 
may be called his forty years' probation. This again is followed by ten 
years more of waiting — like the additional ten days' waiting of the 
Lord's disciples — before the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, is received; 
that Spirit that teaches the soul all things. When the disciples at last 
were given the Holy Spirit, it was after they had resigned life's dearest 
treasures for Jesus' sake. They had made the best preparation; they 
loved God above all things; He had carried their hearts and souls with 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 303 

Him into Heaven. This preparation having all heen completed by their 
last ten days of patient waiting, the Holy Ghost came down upon them. 
They were assembled together in deep seclusion, and thus they waited. 
So must we be, as we end, so to speak, our forty years of preparation, 
having meanwhile overcome depraved nature, and celebrated the festival 
of our heavenly transformation. Even after that, we must wait ten 
years longer. We must have a maturity of preparation equal to fifty 
years of self-renunciation, ere we shall receive the Holy Ghost in the 
most perfect manner, so that He may teach us all truth. During that 
final period of probation, natural defects are at last quite overcome, 
and the soul enters upon a Godlike existence. A man turns inward, and 
sinks into God, being blended with the one, pure, Divine Good. The 
light of his life is now returned into the Divine flame from which is first 
flashed forth. When this overflow of the soul into God is perfect, then 
all its debt of sin is fully paid, were it as heavy as that of all sinful 
men put together from the beginning of the world. Then all the grace 
and joy destined for the soul is granted to it. Then, in fine, the soul is 
made Godlike. Such men as these are the pillars of the world, the 
mainstay of the Church. May God grant us some share of this happi- 
ness. Amen. 



;{(I4 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



%am ttt Aarpn^ tmtlj GUjriat Into Hmxtm 

Synopsis — The road to heaven is shown us in the whole life and pas- 
sion of Christ — Christ draws us upward after Him like a magnet 
— The force of this drawing differs greatly among men — The end 
of the drawing upward is hard, being the ascent of the Mount of 
Olives, that is the place of sadness and toil. 



THIRD SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION. 

And the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven — 
Mark xvi, 19. 

The most blessed Son of God, Christ Jesus our Lord, after He had 
sat with His disciples on Mount Olivet, and had chided them for their 
incredulity and hardness of heart, ascended out of their sight into 
Heaven. 

Ah, children, what think you were the thoughts in the hearts of those 
disciples, who loved their Lord so well? Must they not all have felt a 
bitter pain of heart after His departure? Indeed they had loved Him 
well, and we know that where one's treasure is, there is his heart also. 
Jesus Christ carries away with Him in His glorious ascension, the hearts 
and senses and all the faculties of His chosen friends. Never again can 
they feel at home in this world. All their goings and comings and all 
their life is now in Heaven — all is now with God. Dear children, how 
can it be otherwise? Must not the members be with the head? And 
our Head has this day most affectionately gone before us to prepare a 
place for us. Hence we can but echo the words of the bride in the 
Canticles: "Draw me after Thee" (Cant, i, 3). Who can prevent us 
following our Head, Jesus Christ? He Himself has said : "I ascend to 
My Father and to your Father" (John xx, 17). His principle of life, 
His final end, His eternal bliss, are all made one with ours in Him. We 
have come forth from the same origin as He, we are associated to Him 
in the end and purpose of His life — if we will but fit ourselves rightly 
for this high destiny. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 305 

Consider, children, that Jesus Christ has gone before us into the 
blessedness of His heavenly Father. Now if we would follow Him 
effectively, we must mark carefully the path He trod. And we find that 
for thirty years he laid out the journey to Heaven by enduring misery, 
poverty, shame, and finally the bitterness of death itself. Behold then 
the road we have to travel if we would join Him in Heaven ! If all 
teachers were dead, if all books were burnt, the story of His life alone 
is doctrine enough for us. He is Himself the way, and there is no 
other. Let us press on after Him in this His path to the blissful end 
that awaits us ; let us go forward with all our strength. As the magnet 
draws iron to it, so does Jesus Christ draw after Himself all hearts that 
He touches. And furthermore, as the iron itself receives the magnet's 
power of attraction, and is moved and lifted up and joined to the mag- 
net in spite of its own nature, so it is with souls touched by the magnet 
of the eternal Son of God. Such men no longer feel the force of their 
own love, or joy, or consolation : they are drawn out of themselves 
upward to God. They forget the laws of their own nature, and follow 
the touch of God. And this they do all the more readily and perfectly, 
according as they are more deeply influenced by the Divine attraction. 

So, then, let each one of us put himself to the test, as to whether or 
not he has been touched by God. Men who are not really drawn by 
God's magnet, start up with various fine methods and systems of devo- 
tion, lacking the interior spirit. They fancy they will gain great 
results, and before they are aware, it all comes to naught. For you 
must know that they soon fall back into their old ways, giving them- 
selves up to natural joys and the love of created things. They act like 
good-for-nothing hounds in a hunt, which care nothing for the game 
or whither it runs; they only follow the good hounds lazily along, until 
they are distanced ; and then they go astray and are lost. I say to thee 
in all sincerity : it may be but a little half hour during which thou dost 
grievously neglect thy duty, or cleavest to thy forbidden pleasures. 
And in that short interval the game has escaped thee, thou art not 
among those who have a share in its capture. Those who may be com- 
pared to the good and faithful hounds are God's true servants. These 
track the game and fiercely pursue it through fire and water, till they 
overtake and capture it. So do good men act who duly appreciate the 
Divine object they are striving after— they never give up till they 
have possessed themselves of it, they are hindered by neither the joys 
nor sorrows of this life. The others are wholly inactive, they rest slug- 



306 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

gishly idle; and if they so continue till death, then they are in peril of 
remaining so after death and through God's eternity. 

Children, if a man is not moved by God, he must not lay the blame 
on Him. Yet sometimes one says : Almighty God does not influence me 
to good as He does this one or that one. Such talk is false. God 
touches, influences and admonishes all men, and will bring all men, as 
far as they will allow Him, to happiness. But His gifts, His admoni- 
tions and His touches, are received by men very diversely. When He 
visits some, bringing His precious favors with Him, He finds their souls 
occupied before Him by other gifts, and in a state of uncleanness. What 
can He then do but turn back from us, since our souls are fixed upon 
and lt>ve a rival lover? So then He carries His gifts to another soul, 
who has kept its heart free and clean from love of all created things. 
Thus it is that the cause and the guilt of our eternal misery is in our- 
selves and not in God. What utter folly is ours, thus idly to dally with 
the poor creatures of this life, regardless of the presence of the infinite 
God — doing ourselves thereby an eternal injury. 

How shall we escape from this infatuation with natural joys? In no 
better and surer way than by quickly and courageously turning to God, 
and practicing prayer in an earnest and devoted spirit. Not otherwise 
can we win a steadfast heart and obtain great confidence in God's 
boundless mercy, as being all our hope of salvation. Add to this a 
determined purpose to be absolutely subject to God's will in all things, 
in doing and not doing, in things spiritual and things natural. 

Again, children, remark that the spot from which Jesus Christ, the 
Son of God, ascended into Heaven was the Mount of Olives, and this 
may be made a threefold lesson of light. First, the Mount is raised 
above the earth east of Jerusalem, and is lit up by the rising of the sun ; 
later in the morning, the brightness of the sun is reflected back on the 
Mount from the shining pinnacles of the temple; finally, the Mount's 
fruit, oil, is the food of light in our lamps. So is it with the soul in 
which God's ascension sweetly takes place without any intermediary. 
It must be elevated above earthly and transitory things if it will be 
resplendent with God's threefold light, namely the Divine Trinity 
shining and acting within it just as God wills. 

Again, this Mount lay between Jerusalem and Bethania, and, chil- 
dren, be assured that whosoever would follow after Jesus Christ, must 
climb up this Mount, no matter how bitter the toil may be. For there is 
no hill in all this wide world so sweet and so beautiful — give to its 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 307 

climbing all your hard pain and labor. Children, every follower of our 
Lord Jesus Christ must say good-by to his natural joys; for there is 
many a one who would gladly follow God, if it cost no toil or pain and 
caused bim no bitterness. Many a one would gladly be on top of the 
Mount that is so near Jerusalem, the city of peace, if he could be there 
without overcoming difficulties. In truth it is in themselves that such 
men seek for peace and consolation and happiness; and nothng comes 
of it all. Yet, as they idly tarry on the Bethania side they are miser- 
able, for there they find only obedience to others and suffering. Of one 
of these the Psalmist speaks as having an abode in "The vale of tears, 
in the place which be hath set" (Ps. lxxxiii, 6). 

Children, be sure that whosoever does not struggle up this Mount, will 
always remain spiritually sterile and will amount to nothing. A devout 
man should keep his longing eyes fixed on his soul's spouse, Jesus Christ, 
ascended now so far above him and so hidden and unknown. Realize 
fully, that the deeper the touch of God in thy soul, the more surely is 
one side of thy life a vale of tears. If this served no other purpose, it 
would in thy direst need preserve thee from the sinfulness that lies con- 
cealed in thy poor human nature — those tendencies which hinder many 
a one from turning wholly to God. God's grace can and should rule 
in us continuously. And so it does, when one without ceasing makes 
sacrifices to God of all things whatsoever that may lead him away from 
God. These weaknesses too often prevail in the soul of man, where 
God alone should hold undisputed sway. And conquering them is win- 
ning up the side of the Mount of Olives that is toward Bethania. 

Children, whosoever looks deep into his soul begins to draw near 
Jerusalem. And it were well that he should watch the different influ- 
ences of God and of nature, in all that he does or does not. It were 
good that he nerved himself to suffer more bravely all sorrow and pain, 
and not weakly yield to nature in such visitations. When he seems for- 
saken by God, and stands in all bitterness and desolation of spirit, 
oppressed from within and from without, then let him diligently call 
to mind God's goodness. And in times of spiritual joy, let him antici- 
pate sorrow; as the Wise Man says: "In the day of good things be not 
unmindful of evils" (Eccli. xi, 27). 

Children, both sides of the Mount must be in our souls together. For 
if the word Jerusalem means a city of peace, yet in that city was God's 
Son Jesus Christ put to death. Our peaceful city must be the scene of 
many a suffering, for thou must without doubt suffer greatly, and in all 



80S The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

peacefulness die totally to self : there is no escape. Ascend, therefore, 
high up into God's holy will, sincerely deny thyself in all things hoth of 
spin! and tiesh. Thou must fall into the hands of, as it were, the mali- 
cious Jews, who will torture and scourge thee, and drive thee out from 
among them as a hase and wicked man, condemn thee to the worst pun- 
ishments they can think of, and put thee to death in the minds of all 
men, as far as they can do so. I say to thee that in thy inmost soul 
thou must die the death, if the eternal God shall become thy only life. 
As it happened to Jesus Christ, that when He was put to death the 
Jews thought their crime was a great honor to God, so shall it happen 
in thy case. All who despise thee and condemn thee and torment thee, 
will think that in doing so they have greatly served God. Ah, beloved 
children, how happy of heart shall such a man be, when he thus dwells 
in Jerusalem the city of peace, full of peace indeed, even in the midst of 
this dire unrest ; for in his soul's depths the essential peace of God is 
born to Him, coming out of God's own abyss of truth and love. 

Children, on this Mount grows the olive tree; and therein we can 
perceive what true religious devotion is. Real devotion is an interior 
clnging to God Himself, with a soul entirely ready to possess all things 
and to think of all things just as God does. A devout man is one who is 
in all things fast bound to God in his will and in his understanding. 
Such a soul is indeed a sweet olive tree to our heavenly Father and to 
all His elect. Hast thou this in thy inner life? This devout spirit must 
ever and again be renewed by the fire of Divine love; and it must be 
aided by earnest searching in the soul's depths, lest something that is 
not God in all truth, shall be hiding there. Therein must be nothing 
deceptive; for it is nature that sometimes inspires us when we think 
that all is being done for God. And this, also, is too often the case with 
men, both in communities and in the world : they do>not think and love 
wholly and absolutely according to God, but rather according to self, 
whether in matters spiritual or corporal. Few are to be found who 
serve God for His own sake alone, having regard neither to consolations 
nor joys—no object but God alone, not even (if it were permissible or 
possible) His holy grace in time and eternity, but just simply God's 
own self alone. That we may thus ascend with the Son of God, and rise 
high above this land of exile, far above all creatures; that we may pos- 
sess eternal life with Him — may God the Father, and the Son, and the 
Holv Ghost mercifully grant us. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 309 



^nm Wt WxtxttBB ta (Hartal m Inrest anb ^uffrrtng 

Synopsis — Entire self-renunciation is needed for Christ's discipleship 
— Unrest of soul, borne patiently, shows our fidelity — How one 
may inordinately cleave to spiritual sweetness ; its use and abuse 
— How an entirely detached soul stands betiveen earth and heaven, 
his higher faculties resting calm in God, and his lower ones busy 
with God's external works. 



FOURTH SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION. 

You shall be witnesses unto Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria. — 
Acts i, 8. 

Dear children, since our Head, Jesus Christ, has ascended into 
Heaven, it is both possible and proper that we His members should 
ascend thither after Him. We should neither seek nor desire comfort 
or joy in this unstable life of ours, nor put up with any delay here. To 
follow Him always, to desire Him with a yearning heart and without 
resting, to love Him, to keep Him in view in everything, to urge others 
to follow fast after Him who with such bitter suffering led the way filled 
with love for their eternal happiness — all this should be our task. 

It was necessary that Christ should die, and in that manner return 
to the glory of His heavenly Father. Let us ever follow our beloved 
Captain, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. He has unfurled the 
banner of bitter pain, and borne it faithfully forward with heroic 
patience. With like patience should all His chosen friends grasp and 
hold aloft that holy standard of suffering, each one to the very best of 
his power. Wouldst thou be a true follower of God's eternal Son? 
Then humbly take up thy cross of pain, and suffer gladly for the sake 
of God, no matter whence may come thy sorrow, whether it be merited 
or unmerited, interior or exterior. And by this means thou shall joy- 
fully ascend to the Son of God and into eternal life. 

Beloved children, you know that in our times many a man serves the 
world for the sake of its petty honor and fame. For this end he gives 
up all comfort of body and all his worldly goods, journeying often into 



310 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

a strange land to fight in battle in order to win glory and gain. In 
like manner must a man act if he would be a true follower of Jesus 
Christ the eternal Son of God. He must renounce everything for His 
sake, and he must do it freely and joyfully. All comfort and conven- 
ience of life must be given up and all honors, if he would come to union 
with the very truth and essence of life that God Himself is. For if 
there is any single member of the whole body that is not joined with the 
head, it is a rotten member and must be cut off. 

Christ our Lord said to His disciples : "You shall be witnesses unto 
Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the utter- 
most part of the earth." Now Jerusalem, the city of peace, was to 
Jesus Christ also a city of unrest, for in that city of peace He had 
received inhuman torment and suffered a cruel death, all for the love of 
men. In that same kind of city shall we be witnesses unto Jesus 
Christ, not by words alone, but by works, by our life, by our imitation of 
Him to the uttermost of our ability. 

You all know, children, that all would gladly bear witness to our 
Lord in peace, if only everything went on as they willed. They would 
gladly be holy, if devotional exercises were never distasteful and 
God's work was always easy. They would gladly proclaim God, if it 
were to be done always in sweetness and consolation, never amid power- 
ful temptations or deep interior darkness. But when such men find 
themselves in interior desolation, and are at the same time outwardly 
forsaken, then they turn back to their old ways : they are not witnesses 
of God in very truth. All men seek peace in their relations of life; 
but, my dear children, we must die to this kind of seeking after peace, 
and go forth out of it. We must seek for peace in another way, namely, 
in the midst of unrest, and that with all earnestness ; that peace alone 
can give us a supernatural, holy and Divine life. That peace alone gen- 
erates in us true and Divine peace, always abiding, ever enduring within 
us. Any other peace causes thee self-deception. But if thou canst 
be willing to seek joy in sorrow, steadfast peace in unrest, single- 
mindedness amid multiplicity, comfort in bitterness, then veritably 
thou shalt be made a worthy witness of God. Jesus Christ promised 
His chosen followers peace, both before His death and after His resur- 
rection. Yet as long as they lived they never found outward peace. 
But they none the less really found peace amid all their troubles, and 
they got it from all the unpeaceful men they met, essential peace. They 
stood immovably peaceful in all pain and pleasure. From death they 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 311 

received life; they rejoiced when they were hated and judged and con- 
demned to death. And thus they became true witnesses of God. 

There are many men whose souls and bodies are so saturated with 
Divine sweetness, that it seems to now through their very veins and 
marrow. But when suffering comes, and when they are left in dark- 
ness, when they seem forsaken by God and creatures both interiorly and 
externally, then they are at a loss to know what to do with themselves ; 
nothing good can be made of them. Dear children, when the tempest 
strikes men's souls, that is to say when interior abandonment oppresses 
them, and when opposition and temptations assail them from without; 
when the world, the flesh and the devil conspire against them — which- 
ever one of them can stand up against all this with genuine patience, 
will find true peace. He will find essential peace in all trouble, a peace 
that no creature can take from him. And whosoever does not tread 
this path shall never attain to true peace. 

Our Lord also said to His apostles : "You shall be witnesses unto Me 
in Judea." Judea may be taken to mean first confessing and second 
praising God. Children, we must be God's witnesses in such wise that we 
follow after our beloved Lord in all our works, ways and intentions 
steadfastly, without any intermission, and not because things go well 
with us, nor because of our spiritual consolations and devotional senti- 
ments. While we enjoy these feelings, we flatter ourselves that we are 
right with God, and we imagine that we cannot yearn enough after Him, 
nor ever be satisfied with Him. But when the shock of spiritual adver- 
sity strikes us, then we do not know what to think of our former state, 
or of how we now stand with God. And this shows that formerly the 
interior foundation was not God alone. 

Sweet feelings of devotion were the unstable basis on which our confi- 
dence in God was built — not just God alone, God in all joy and all 
sorrow. God's true witnesses ever rest fast and firm on God alone and 
on His most adorable will, come weal, come woe. God gives or God 
takes away — they remain always in peace, resting wholly on God, not 
at all on their own devotional contrivances. When all seems prosper- 
ous, and when they feel as if they could do mighty things for God, they 
nevertheless do not build upon that; distrust of self and real lowliness 
of spirit possess their souls. God often deprives them of all comfort, 
and He does so because He is true to their better spiritual interests. 
And so it happens frequently that such men can accomplish nothing. 
If they would gladly keep holy vigil, they fall asleep in spite of them- 



312 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

selves; they try to fast, and cannot help but eat; they crave repose, 
and they are forced into the very opposite. All this happens because God 
would withdraw from them all support but Himself alone. On Him 
simply and solely must they rest, themselves being annihilated in all 
things of soul and body, their souls dropping deep down into pure single- 
hearted faith in God. For as worldly men do themselves harm by their 
excessive enjoyment of the pleasures of the senses and of their temporal 
goods and honors, so do spiritual men hurt themselves by excessive joy 
in God's spiritual gifts, whether in good works or in the sweetness of 
devotion. They rest with inordinate joy in God's ever-flowing spiritual 
favors, instead of resting simply on the only true foundation, namely 
God's own self, held and possessed in true poverty of spirit. 

Judea also may be taken to mean the praise of God. Ah, children, if 
a man could but be guided to praise the eternal God in all things no 
matter whence they come, interior or exterior, for him or against him, 
then, indeed, would he be journeying along the right road. And if a 
man would but offer all things up to God with thanksgiving, then would 
he become a true witness of God. Therefore, dear child, render back 
into God's deep being all that has thence come forth to thee; do this 
invariably; and never tarry in thine own self, which is mere nothing- 
ness. Rather restore thyself habitually to thy source and origin, namely 
the abyss of God's love. Out of this thy act, be well assured, shall 
come forth a noble praise of God; from this will be granted thee a 
fruitful harvest of virtue. The blossom and the fruit are one, for herein 
God is in God and light in light. All that is outward thou shalt give 
to God, as created things affect thee in joy or sorrow; and all inward 
things, too, of whatever kind they may be, and thyself along with them. 

Christ also said : "You shall be witnesses of Me in Samaria," and that 
name may be considered to mean union with God. This refers to the 
truest witness that man can bear to God in this life, namely when he is 
most perfectly united to Him. Then, as it were, there slips away from 
him his own spirit, and all creatures seem gone: in the Divine unity all 
multiplicity vanishes away. The highest powers of the soul are now 
drawn up to Heaven, where God the Holy Spirit dwells in God the 
Father and God the Son, in the Divine unity. The soul now finds its 
highest bliss in very truth, enjoying God with a delightful sweetness, 
drawing after it, too, its lower powers, as far as this is possible in our 
mortal life. And, absorbed into the Divine abyss of being, the soul need 
do nothing more than humbly abandon itself to enjoy all the gifts of 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 313 

God's grace; for now it beholds them in God, and is entirely without 
self-consciousness concerning them. 

After this, again, the soul is led into yet another heaven in the Divine 
being, in which it loses itself and sinks into God. No man can tell what 
happens there to the soul in the possession of God and in His enjoy- 
ment — neither tell, nor think, nor even understand. How can the soul 
tell or understand what has come upon it, while it was meted out of 
itself and absorbed in the Divine abyss, knowing nothing, seeing noth- 
ing, feeling nothing but only the pure, simple being of God? But after 
that experience, dear children, you may be sure that a man can look into 
the very essence of all his devotional exercises, even the littlest of them. 
And he can plainly discover all imperfections in his use of them, find 
out why they do not profit him, and how they may be freshened anew 
and made more fruitful. 

Thus does the faithful and detached soul stand between Heaven and 
earth. With the higher faculties of his being he dwells always in God 
his Lord, elevated high above self and all things else ; and with his lower 
faculties he is placed under foot of all things, sunk down in deep 
humility, not otherwise than if he Avere a mere beginner in the spiritual 
life. He can content himself in the lowest order of devout practices, 
for he is ashamed of nothing that is good, however contemptible it may 
seem to others. He keeps true peace with all creatures in spirit and in 
act, in joy and sorrow. Such a man is in very truth a witness of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, who first came down from Heaven, and ascended 
again into the Heaven of Heavens. And all who would dwell there must 
become one with Him, that in Him and with Him and through Him 
they may ascend to Heaven. 

Whatsoever man shall earnestly endeavor after this end, and shall 
bid farewell to all the joys and pains of creatures, shall not go astray in 
his conscience. He shall not have a silly head ; he shall not be found 
gadding about asking foolish questions, wasting his time and following 
delusions. May God make us His true witnesses in things spiritual and 
things natural ; may He raise us up to Heaven with His eternal Son ; 
may He grant us all this as He is God the Father, and God the Son, and 
God the Holy Ghost. Amen. 



314 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



(HI)* Exrljaitg* of fKattljtaH far Strima tn % 3tttt*r £tfr 

Synopsis — /£ is the enthronement of high motives in place of ignoble 
ones — The Judas within us is our self appropriation of God's gifts 
— Our Matthias is the heartfelt and universal attribution back 
to God of all His favors, especially spiritual ones. 



FIFTH SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION. 

In those days Peter, rising up in the midst of the brethren, said, etc. — Acts 
i, 15-26. 

On the return of our Lord's disciples to Jerusalem after His ascension 
into Heaven, Peter addressed them about choosing someone to take the 
place of Judas, who had fallen away. Two disciples, Joseph, called the 
Just, and Matthias, were then set apart, and the latter was selected to 
hold that high place of an apostle, and to become a witness of Jesus 
Christ. 

Mark well, beloved children, that the disciples came to Jerusalem, 
which in our previous discourse today we have called a place of holy 
peace, and also a place of unrest. And we have explained how no one 
can come to true peace except in two ways — he must gain peace through 
conflict, as well as joy through sorrow; and he must learn to possess 
abundance through suffering want. The disciples returned to Mount 
Sion. And so must we go upward with all our powers and all our mind 
to the eternal festival of God, rising high over all lower and created 
existence, leaving all things as Abraham did, when he left his servant 
and his ass behind, and took his son up the mount of vision to sacrifice 
him. This upgoing is led by the will, which commands all the faculties 
of man as a prince in his kingdom and a father in his house. This 
prince, our will, should always command a man to go upward above all 
created things. 

The disciples went to the cenaculum, which may be taken to mean a 
banquet hall, for coena means a supper. Now after supper there is no 
other meal that day, nor is there any real labor done; repose now has 
its place — a fact carefully to be noted. For as the disciples abide in the 
banquet hall, their minds and all their faculties should be at rest : the 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 315 

soul's labors should know their end, for now, indeed, there is no longer 
any meal nor any labor, namely in God, in Whom there is everlasting 
repose. The man who forces his attention toward anything whatsoever 
it may be, does not mean the supreme good, God. He is not waiting in 
expectancy of receiving the Holy Ghost 

When one's soul is in the cenaculum, then Peter rises up ; and Peter 
may be taken to mean a man who confesses God. His purpose is to 
choose a true witness to take the vacant place of Judas, for it much dis- 
tressed Peter that Judas was a thief and a traitor. And so we, too, 
have a Judas within us, namely, our miserable tendency to appropriate 
to ourselves by theft and treason all the good that God by His free gift 
works within us. This Judas-like trait in us would cause us to unjustly 
assume ownership of God's work in us. Now that distresses the sense of 
right in us, which confesses God, inclining us to choose another state of 
soul to take the place of the Judas-like one which is to be expelled from 
within us. Lots are cast between Joseph, who was called and really was 
a just man, and Matthias. Joseph was also called Barsabas, which may 
be taken to mean obedient. Against him is placed Matthias, and he may 
be taken to mean a man who is little in the sight of God. And upon 
which of these two did the choice fall, in order to fill this holy apostolic 
vacancy? Not upon obedient and just Joseph, with all his merit, but it 
fell upon him who Avas little before God. Ah, children, this quality out- 
weighed justice and obedience, great as may be the merit of these vir- 
tues. The little and the humble surpass all others in worth. And such 
a man it was that was chosen. 

And wilt thou reach the highest perfection by the shortest way? 
Wilt thou be chosen God's disciple, and be made in the highest degree 
His true witness? Then thou must confess thyself before the face of 
God the least and the littlest of all mankind, and sincerely hold thyself 
to be so. Then and not till then will the lot fall upon thee. Let all thy 
diligence be exerted, that thou mayst be considered little and mayst be 
despised. Then shalt thou be raised to the greatest place, and be set 
nearest to God, and given the most honorable position God can bestow, 
namely a place among the apostles. To this thou canst never come 
except by thorough-going belittling of self. 

And this must be no mere apparent humility, or one of imagination, 
for that delusion is but a sister of pride, and a mere play-acting of 
humility. In this condition pride is very deep-rooted ; and the soul has 
often the very reverse of a real sentiment of liltleness before God. nor 



316 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

does it really desire to be an object of contempt to both God and man. 
Now, children, the man who is fully determined to make of himself real 
nothingness before God, has entered on the truest preparation for receiv- 
ing the Holy Ghost. He has begun to tread the shortest path to God, 
and God's grace will meet him and conduct him forward. That we may 
thus be made ready for the Holy Ghost, and that we may finally receive 
Him in all reality, may God grant. Amen. 






of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 317 



JjJrutottre and Jlratjttig 



Synopsis — The sweetness of God's grace should lead us to watchfulness 
in prayer — Like the habit of using drugs is the intoxication of 
spiritual intemperance — The prayer of thanksgiving is an anti- 
dote to this gluttony — Some instructions about mingling good 
thoughts with good vocal prayers. 



SERMON FOR THE SUNDAY AFTER THE ASCENSION. 

Be prudent, therefore, and watch in prayers. — I Feter iv, 7. 

Let every man now prepare for the approaching feast of the Holy 
Ghost, that he may receive Him with the best possible dispositions, 
keeping only God in view. Let each one search his whole way of life 
with all care, considering his interior soul, and whether anything dwells 
therein that is not God. This preparation will consist of four disposi 
tions: detachment, self-renunciation, the interior spirit, and union with 
God. 

A man should also be practiced outwardly in the natural virtues, and 
his lower spiritual powers in moral virtues. Then the Holy Ghost should 
be placed in possession of one's higher spiritual powers, to adorn them 
with the theological virtues. All this should be done with discretion 
and in right order in every respect. We should carefully examine if 
anything has found place in our life that is not entirely for God; and if 
so, then it should be at once condemned and reformed. We should imi- 
tate the farmer in the month of March ; as the sun gains power he prunes 
his trees and he digs his ground and works his farm with great industry. 
So should we industriously dig up the ground of our soul and find out 
what is underneath the surface; we should prune the tree of our out- 
ward life of the senses, and we should clean out all weeds, as well as sub- 
ject our lower powers to the higher ones. We must cut out the seven 
capital sins by the very roots. Pride should be exterminated inwardly 
and outwardly; and all avarice and hate and envy; all foul lust in body 
and soul, in heart and senses, in spirit and act must be totally expelled; 
no sloth of any kind must be allowed to lurk in the soul : all these evils 



;*, 1 S The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

must be cut away and totally rooted out. As yet the soul remains cold 
and hard, for although the sun grows warmer, it is yet far from sum- 
mer's clear and genial light. But soon all is changed. The Divine sun 
begins to do its heavenly work in the well-prepared garden of the soul. 

When, therefore, the genial sun of God's grace begins to shine brightly 
upon this well-cultivated garden, all the soul's inner and outer faculties 
being fully prepared, all its higher and lower tendencies directed to- 
wards Heaven, then indeed the sweet flowers of May begin to bloom, 
and all the welcome gifts of summertime. The eternal God causes the 
soul to blossom forth and to produce good fruit of virtue; and the joy 
in that soul no tongue can tell. For now the Holy Ghost is there, and 
His brightness shines directly upon the soul, yea, into its inmost depths. 
Well may He now be called the true Comforter, since His influence is 
so delicious. O how great a joy! O how rich a feast, the sweet odors 
of whose nourishing food excite the soul's deepest longing ! These are 
granted in every plenty of enjoyment to the rightly prepared soul by the 
gentle Spirit of God. One drop of this Divine comfort is worth more 
than all the joys of created things put together; and it overpowers and 
quenches all longing for them whatsoever. 

When a man feels this action of the Divine Comforter so wonderfully 
great and so unexpected, he would gladly sink down into its depths and 
rest and slumber in it forever. He feels like St. Peter at the Lord's 
Transfiguration ;it is good for him to be there, and he would set up three 
tabernacles of joy out of one drop of the happiness now granted him, 
and there dwell forever. But such is not our Lord's will. When Peter 
said "It is good for us to be here," he was far from that degree in the 
spiritual life that his Lord would lead him to. So it is with souls in this 
stage: they think they have got all when they are in this brilliant sun- 
shine of God's favor, and they would like to lie down and bask in it 
forever. And all the souls who actually do so, remain stationary in 
their, career. They amount to nothing unless they rise up and go for- 
ward. 

To some of these it happens that they slip down into unlawful liberty. 
Their poor human nature turns inward and regards itself with self- 
complacency, a weakness toward which we are above all other things 
inclined. It is with them as with sick persons who trust too much to 
medicines. I have heard physicians say that men, finding relief in 
drugs, trust to them entirely and not at all to their natural forces, and 
that this breeds indolence. If a man is doubtful of all help from others, 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 319 

then he energetically sets to work to help himself. Remark, children, 
bow this poisonous longing for ease and convenience, penetrates every- 
where in our natural life. And it is a thousand times worse in our 
spiritual life. When this very unusual joy is felt, the soul forthwith 
counts upon being sure to keep it. Earnest and faithful labor is now 
thought unnecessary; a soft lethargy possesses the spirit — no more 
activity of virtue, no more zealous toil, all is to be rest and peace. And 
this is Satan's chance. He comes to this soul, thus indolently reclining, 
and he insinuates into it a false sweetness, hoping to hold it fast in this 
wrong state of rest. 

What shall we do, then? Shall we run away from this happiness? 
No, by no means. But, receiving it with much gratitude, we must 
humbly return it again into God's hands praising Him in all sincerity, 
as we nevertheless protest ourselves to be wholly unworthy of such a 
favor. We should act like a young and robust traveler, but poor and 
hungry and thirsty as he starts on his journey. If he goes forward 
four miles and can only manage to get a meal to eat, he springs forward 
blithely and makes ten miles more. So let us do, when God feeds us 
with His sweet food of spiritual joy. Whatever good things such a 
man formerly did, he does more and better things now, loves God more, 
praises and thanks Him more. He is more upright, his heart is full of 
a more burning love, and thereby he becomes worthy of the gift of a yet 
deeper interior comfort. Just as we may fancy a man going to the 
Pope and giving him a florin, and receiving in return a hundred thou- 
sand, and getting the same exchange every time he gave a florin : so is 
the exchange between God and a rightly guided soul. As often as he 
goes to God in all love and gratitude and humility, so often does God 
meet him on the instant with gifts and graces a thousandfold more 
precious than before. Thus it is that sweetness of devotion is made a 
help to us, and leads to greater good : we must use our spiritual gifts 
and not enjoy them. It is like riding in a wagon : we are there for the 
good of the journey and for the progress made, and not for the enjoyment 
of the wagon's soft seat. So let it be with God's gifts ; draw the good 
out of them, leaving to God the joy. Hence St. Peter's warning to us to 
be sober and watchful ; not to sink into the slumber of sensual pleasure, 
a state in which the soul is but half alive and is incapable of activity. 
The sober-minded man works right on courageously and intelligently: 
"Be sober and watch : because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, 
goeth about seeking whom he may devour; whom resist ye strong in 
faith" (I Peter v, 8). 



320 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

And again the Apostle bids us be "prudent and watch in prayers," 
that is, not to be so dull as to rest in anything that is not God; to keep 
the light of piety brightly burning; to keep a vigilant outlook over our- 
selves; always to long for God alone. It was on this account that our 
Saviour's disciples must give up the bodily presence of their Master, if 
they would receive the Holy Ghost. "If I go not," said He, "the Para- 
clete will not come to you" (John xvi, 7). These loving disciples were 
so possessed of the visible presence of the Lord, that heart, soul, senses 
and faculties were entirely absorbed — inner and outer life all taken up. 
This condition must be changed, if they were to arrive at the true, 
spiritual, interior comfort of God — they must be cut off from the out- 
ward presence, no matter how bitter the stroke. Otherwise they should 
have remained in the lowest spiritual degree, that of the sensible life 
of religion. When they rose above the senses, it was to enter the 
religious life of the highest powers of the soul, every way nobler and 
more delightful. 

After that the soul enters further into its own deep interior, the very 
hidden shrine of God's presence within it. Divine sweetness is there 
and there only quite at home, there fully and essentially experienced. 
And there alone is the soul wide awake and watchful. 

The apostle bids us be sober, watchful and prayerful, for our "adver- 
sary the devil goeth about like a roaring lion." What prayer does he 
mean? That of the mouth? Reading the Psalms over and over? All 
that is truly prayer, but he means a yet higher prayer. It is the prayer 
our Lord meant when He said : "The true adorers shall adore the Father 
in spirit and in truth" (John iv, 23). Saints and Divines teach us that 
prayer is the elevation of the soul to God. If thy prayer by word of 
mouth serves this purpose, well and good. But even so : if my clothing- 
serves me, all the same it is not my own self. Thus does all prayer of 
the mouth serve true prayer; but in itself and taken alone it is not true 
prayer. For by true prayer the heart and soul of a man must go direct 
to God, and that is the esential thing. True prayer is this and nothing 
besides : a man's mind is totally subjected to God in loving desire and 
genuine humility. 

Clergymen and members of orders are indeed especially bound at cer- 
tain times to recite vocal prayers. But none of these prayers are so 
devout and lovely as the sacred prayer taught us by the supreme master 
of prayer Himself, namely the Pater Noster. That prayer approaches 
the nearest of all vocal prayer to the truest, the most essential. This 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 321 

prayer of spirit we lift up incessantly toward Heaven, and it lifts the 
soul with it straight up to God. And it is equally true to say, that the 
soul penetrates into its own most sacred and interior depths, where 
alone it may form a union with God. Thus St. Augustine says : "The 
soul has within itself a hidden abyss, and the things of time and of this 
world have no place therein, but only what is high above them and 
above all that concerns the body and its activities." In these heavenly 
abysses the soul finds all its sweetness, and there is the eternal abode of 
all Divine joys. In them the soul is still, fixed in God, cut off from crea- 
tures, and drawn into uncreated bliss. There is God Himself, acting, 
dwelling, ruling, granting the soul an incomparable Divine life. Into 
this life the soul melts away — into the infinite light and fire of love that 
God is by essence and by nature. Back and forth into this relation 
with God does such a man pass in prayer, as he pleads for every necessity 
of all Christendom, his holy petitions, his deep yearnings ever guided by 
God Himself. Thus does he pray for his friends on earth, even sinners, 
and for the souls in purgatory. The needs of every soul in holy Church 
are not beyond his help by counsel as well as by prayer. And yet such 
favored spirits do not always pray exactly for this or that particular 
person or object. But with a certain kind of wide-sweeping universal 
and yet most simple prayer do they embrace all souls of men, just as I 
stand here and behold with one glance all of you sitting before me. They 
see all in the same Divine abyss, God's love, as in a Divine contemplation, 
and in the fire of Divine love — viewing thus as with one glance the neces- 
sities of all Christians. They may seem to themselves to be in and out 
of God in their soul's movements, and yet they are ever in Him, deep in 
the calm of fathomless love: therein is their life and being, therein all 
their life's activity. Nothing is to be discovered in them under any 
and all circumstances but a Divine existence; whether doing things or 
leaving them undone, everything tells of God. These are noble souls, 
necessary for holy Church, sanctifying and consoling all men, giving 
honor to God. Wherever they may be, God dwells in them and they in 
Him. May God help us to the methods and the devotion leading to 
such an end. Amen. 



322 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Synopsis — The only right preparation is cutting off attachments to 
earthly things — This is the more nobly done in the higher powers 
of the soul by deep longings for God, and Him alone — Scruples 
and foolish misgivings are a hindrance — But reasonable self-sus- 
pecting is most useful — Example of the serpent changing his skin. 



FIRST SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF PENTECOST. 
Be prudent, therefore. — I Peter iv, 7. 

Holy Church at this time celebrates the sending of the Holy Ghost 
upon the apostles, who received Him in a most interior manner. It 
was necessary for our sakes that they should make such a beginning of 
a new existence, for we are by their means to receive the same Divine 
gift. And it was good that they should be comforted, for they had 
languished comfortless and forsaken within and without. And it 
finally came to pass, that as long as they continued in this life the 
disciples constantly grew into deeper union with the Holy Ghost. So 
should every true friend of God celebrate this lovely festival every day he 
li ves — yes, every day and every hour should he receive the Holy Ghost in 
his soul. The whole task of his life is to prepare a loving welcome for 
Him. And His coming again and again continuously fits the soul better 
and better for His ever-renewed entrance. As Pentecost day was the 
festival of the Holy Ghost's being sent to the disciples, so is every day 
of the year a Pentecost day to each Christian. If he will but thoroughly 
prepare his soul, the Divine Spirit will enter in with all His graces and 
gifts. 

And now, Children, here is our dear apostle St. Peter to teach us what 
that preparation is. He says to us: "Be prudent, therefore." And 
this does not only mean wisdom, but experience also, by which a man 
knows how to do a thing all the better, because he has made trial of 
doing it over and over again. The apostle means that we should have 
the habitual knowledge and the foresight which come from practice, 
and that in all our spiritual affairs. He means that we shall thereby 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 323 

be made able to understand clearly the difference between God and 
creatures on all occasions. 

Children, the men who rightly comprehend this preparation, and who 
understand the noblest manner of receiving the Holy Ghost, are those 
who cut off all things but God, who are made entirely empty, and thus 
attain to the interior life and Divine unity : these are rightly prepared 
for the Holy Ghost. 

And what is this true and genuine detachment? It is voluntary 
separation from all that is not simply and purely God. It is the search- 
ing of the soul with careful scrutiny, to discover if there is even the 
least thing, though it be in its inmost depths, that is not simply God. 
It is constantly enquiring whether or not God and God alone is had 
in view in all things done or omitted. And when anything is found 
that savors aught else than God alone, it means cutting it off absolutely. 
And this preparation is the task not only of men whose lives are very 
holy and interior, but of every good man whatsoever. 

Children, we meet with good men, well versed in excellent religious 
exercises, who yet know nothing whatever of the interior life. Yet 
these are bounden to search out all that may interfere with God's reign 
in their souls, and instantly to cut it off. This much detachment every 
one must certainly have ; otherwise he cannot receive the Holy Ghost and 
His Divine gifts. It is taking God into account in all things, separating 
ourself from all that is not God. 

But men differ much in way of this separation, and in their waiting 
for God's Spirit. Some receive Him in the way of the senses and of 
devotional feeling; others, more nobly, by w r ay of the soul's highest 
faculties and in the reason, far removed from sensible emotions; others, 
again, while partaking of both these ways, receive the Holy Spirit in 
the hidden recesses of their soul, in that secret Kingdom of God, where 
the sweet vision of the Holy Trinity is enshrined : and this is the noblest 
way of all. Ah, children, how gladly does the Holy Ghost make such 
a soul as that His chosen abode, and how divinely are His gifts imparted 
there. As often as that man but glances intelligently into his interior 
life, so often does he renew his union with the Holy Spirit, each instant 
receiving new favors. Nothing more is needed than that he maintain 
his earnest purpose to be ever turned toward God alone, in all wisdom, 
and in all detachment of spirit. He scrutinizes all his doings and all 
his ways and words and works, eager to detect whatever may not have 
God alone for its meaning, instantly correcting himself when necessary. 



324 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

By the Holy Spirit's light of grace, he guides his steps in all the moral 
virtues — such as humility, mildness, gentleness, silence and piety; 
watching his motives lest any of these good acts should be done for 
other intention than God only. And the natural virtues of prudence, 
justice, fortitude and temperance, are all under this same Divine light, 
as he performs their holy acts. This is indeed the good ordering of a 
man, a divine ordering, the establishing of purely Divine motives, all 
things arranged in God, all done for God's sake. 

When the Holy Ghost finds that a man has done his part in this field 
of the natural virtues, He pours into the natural light of the soul His 
supernatural illumination, and with it the grace of the supernatural 
virtues — Divine faith, and hope, and love. Now he is enlightened ; now 
he becomes a virtuous man indeed, a Godlike man in his state of disen- 
gagement from created things. But as to this, one must act with pru- 
dence, for it often happens that what appears to be God's action, is, 
when more closely considered, found to be not so, and hence one must be 
on one's guard. 

And furthermore it sometimes happens that a man who has entirely 
given himself up to God, yet fancies with much anguish of mind that 
he has not done so sincerely. He then thinks that all the good he ever 
did is lost and wasted. Peace has now fled from his soul, all is trouble 
and woe. Children, this anguish frequently comes from natural bodily 
causes; or, again, it is due to bad weather acting on the nerves; or it is 
the influence of the evil one, who would gladly distress the soul of so good 
a man. And such an unfavorable condition one must meet in all quiet- 
ness of mind and meekness of spirit. 

Some would oppose it with violence, storm against it with forceful 
measures, and by such means make fools of themselves. They run 
about to learned doctors and to devout servants of God begging advice. 
But they are asking for what they cannot have : no one can give them 
relief. Children, when this interior storm strikes a man, he should 
do as one does when overtaken by a storm of wind, rain and hail — he 
should take shelter under a roof till the storm passes over. Is a man 
conscious that he desires nothing whatever but God? Then when this 
trial assails him, let him humbly bow to it, let him patiently suffer in all 
abandonment to God, in all painful detachment of spirit, and wait upon 
God in his deep affliction, his soul all calm and gentle. Who can tell in 
what manner the loving God will come to him and grant him His pre- 
cious favors? Dear soul, remain under the sheltering roof of God's will 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 325 

in patient meekness, and this is more pleasing to Him a hundred times, 
than sweet spiritual joys in practicing virtue — thy stormy sorrows 
bravely borne are more welcome to Him than the beautiful sunshine and 
the bright blossoms of fair-weather virtue. In this anguish of spirit, a 
man cannot lose his upright intention so easily as when he revels in con- 
solations and the sweetness of devotion. Among these nature can 
readily insinuate lower motives, and the taint of spiritual self-indul- 
gence may unconsciously stain the soul. God's gifts are not God's self. 
Our joy must be in God alone, not in His gifts. 

Children, human nature is ever greedy, ever selfish. We hinder God's 
work in us, we destroy his glorious gifts after they are granted us, 
because we allow selfishness to appropriate what is not our own, yield- 
ing to the poisonous influences inherited from original sin. Our nature 
looks to self in everything. St. Thomas teaches that by this infection 
of nature, man is inclined to love himself more than anything else, even 
the angels, nay, even more than God — not that God created us thus per- 
verse, but it has all resulted from the original turning away from God 
in the fall of Adam. And this evil tendency is rooted so deep in us, that 
its traces baffle the search of all the wise men in the world. All the 
industry of man cannot correct this innate weakness of both his inner 
and outer life. It often happens, that when we fancied God alone was 
our motive, it turned out that it was only the poisonous influences of 
nature that guided us — we were but seeking self in everything. St. Paul 
was a true prophet when he said : "In the last days, shall come danger- 
ous times. Men shall be lovers of themselves" (II Tim. iii, 1, 2). This 
is manifestly the case in these times; for the world is full of misery 
because men, both of the world and of the clerical state — how pitiful a 
spectacle ! — are both openly and secretly striving to defraud one another. 
And father confessors are sometimes privy to this, by condoning it by 
means of their novel and pagan interpretations of holy scripture. Chil- 
dren, if any of you fall under my accusations in this matter, I beg him 
to amend at once, if he would come to God. O if one could but give up 
self in his outer and inner life, in spirit and in nature, it were a precious 
gain ! It would be a small price to pay if he gave up gold and silver and 
castles and farms for this end. Even in our interior spirit and in our 
devotions, nay, in our closest approach to God, nature secretly insinu- 
ates selfishness, so great is the deordination of self-love; and herein 
God's way of having us act, is rightly given us by St. Peter : "Be ye pru- 
dent, therefore." 



326 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Our Lord Jesus Christ also admonishes us how to be wise: "Be ye 
therefore wise as serpents" (Matt, x, 16). Remark how the eternal Son 
of God has given us this very humble comparison, to teach us the wisdom 
of His Father, and His Own unspeakably glorious wisdom. As He was 
Himself always very humble, so is His teaching very simple. Now you 
should know the wisdom of the serpent in this : when it finds its skin 
grown old, it selects a place where two stones are close together, and by 
going between them it draws off the old skin, and soon is furnished with 
a new one. So must a man get rid of his old skin, that is whatsoever he 
possesses by nature, no matter how great or how precious — all that is 
not purely God he must lay aside. To accomplish this he must pass 
between two Divine stones, one being the eternal Godhead, which is 
truth itself ; and the other is the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who 
is the way and the truth. Between these must be drawn a man's very 
life in its essence and its action, including all his virtues, both natural 
or moral. Of this stone that Christ is, St. Paul speaks : "Jesus Christ 
being the chief corner-stone" (Eph. ii, 20). And thou mayst be sure, 
that if thou dost not truly strip thyself thus most humbly between these 
stones, then nothing will avail thee, even if thou wert as wise as Solomon 
and as strong as Samson. Lose thyself in Christ's poverty, in His obedi- 
ence, in His love, drawing all thy transgressions off of thy soul in detach- 
ment of spirit ; and then take upon thee all His virtues, His doctrine, 
and His life. By this means will a man receive the seven gifts of the 
Holy Ghost, and more especially the three Divine virtues of faith, hope 
and charity, all perfection, and all truth, interior peace and joy in the 
Holy Ghost. 

From this detachment is born kindness, and also separation from all 
worldly things; so that one now receives freely from God's hands and 
with entire thankfulness, joy or sorrow, or whatever else may befall him 
in the inner life or the outer: everything helps him to eternal happiness. 
Such a man has the grace to feel, that whatever happens him has been 
eternally foreseen by his heavenly Father, and in the very way it does 
happen, and, viewing all things as God does, he rests in peace of mind, 
no matter what occurs. This peace of soul is gained only in the practice 
of real detachment, and in solicitude of spirit ; in that school and in no 
other can it be acquired. Let a man seek it in all sincerity, and it will 
soon be his, and become a virtue rooted in the depths of his being. 

All that I have preached to you in this sermon is addressed to noble- 
hearted men ; let such bear these rules continually in mind, and in word 






of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 327 

and work carry them out practically; then they will find it all quite 
possible for them to do. The result will be that they will keep God 
before them as their single motive, stripping themselves of all hin- 
drances to grace by means of our corner-stone, Jesus Christ, who liveth 
and reigneth eternally with God the Father, God the Son, and God the 
Holy Ghost. Amen. 



328 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



(fctttutg <&od Sttljmtorrii Etbertu. in % g>*rol 

Synopsis— Seeming abandonment by God is often the prelude of high 
perfection — // we but let Him, God does the work of preparation 
Himself in the soul — Signs of this are dullness and self-disgust, de- 
spondency arising from self-contempt and a feeling of total empti- 
ness of good— Delusions resulting from the first joys of divine 
union: self-appropriation of divine gifts, silly excess of spiritual 
enjoyment, forgetfulness of inborn weakness — On return to their 
good sense, these souls honor God by wisdom of speech, and by 
charity of act, and by invincible patience. 



SECOND SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF PENTECOST. 

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak * * * 
the wonderful works of God. — Acts ii, 4, 11. 

Beloved children, this is the day on which the precious treasure of 
Divine love, lost so sadly in the garden of Eden by Adam's disobedience, 
was restored to us. The whole race of man had fallen into eternal death, 
had lost the sevenfold gifts of the Divine Comforter, and lay under the 
wrath of God in the bands of everlasting servitude. Jesus Christ broke 
these bands on Good Friday, as He was bound fast in death to His cross. 
He made perfect peace between His Father and mankind; and today 
He confirms that reconciliation. He restores the lost treasures of grace 
in the Holy Ghost. Our hearts and souls and senses are incapable of 
understanding the superabundant wealth of love that is in our Saviour, 
and which overflowed the souls of His disciples when they received the 
Holy Ghost. It was like a downpour of rain which overflows the 
streams and fertilizes the valleys and fields. And as with the disciples 
then, so in all ages and without any intermission ever since then ; the 
Holy Ghost overflows the inmost hearts of men with His graces, if only 
He finds those inner depths ready and open to receive His gifts. And 
now suppose that this our land were like Palestine in the days of Elias, 
when for three years and six months the earth was parched with drouth 
and no man could sow or reap, and that then there should come a sweet 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 



329 



plentiful rain, quickening the fields with new life — and one single man's 
farm were left dry: would not he and all his friends cry out with 
misery? In the same way, a man who feels himself parched with spir- 
itual drouth in heart and soul about interior things and external things 
of religion, empty and loveless, entirely void of the overflowing comfort 
of the Holy Spirit — shall that man not mourn over his state of abandon- 
ment? Let us then consider what is to be done in order to obtain the 
Holy Ghost. 

The first and most important preparation must be made by the Holy 
Ghost Himself, making ready a proper place for His abode; and that He 
does by two acts. One is to empty the soul, the other is afterwards to 
fill it. The emptying is the greatest preparation, for the more the soul 
is emptied of human attachment, the more receptive of God's Spirit 
does it become. If thou wouidst fill a cup with some liquid, thou must 
first empty it of any other liquid that may be in it. Of two different 
materials, one cannot be perfectly itself if it is to be blended with the 
other. If fire is to come in, water must first go out, for these elements are 
naturally opposed. Well then, if God is to come into the soul, creatures 
must first go out — all that is not God must go out. Thus, again, the 
animal instincts must yield place to the dictates of reason, if these shall 
hold sway. Thus, therefore, a man must surrender himself captive, be 
empty, detached, and ready. Nay, even this state of detachment itself — 
as far as any honor shall be due to it — must be surrendered to God in 
total self-annihilation ; otherwise a man will prevent the highest activity 
of the Holy Ghost within him. But to go to this extent no one now- 
adays seems willing. 

But when this emptying of the soul has been done, at once the Holy 
Ghost does His second work : He gratifies the soul's capacity to receive 
Him. Yes; if thou art truly detached thou shalt receive abundantly, 
and if thou art but partially detached, thou shalt receive but partially. 
Thou must be totally emptied of self-will, self-love, self-opinion. Con- 
sider that if Heaven itself stood open before thee, thou wouidst not dare 
to enter in, until thou hadst known if God would have thee do so — such 
must be thy detachment from self. This is the state and this alone, in 
which the soul must be if the Holy Ghost is to be given to it unto perfect 
fullness. 

Ah, children, when a man feels himself dull, hard and slow, being 
oppressed by nature; when peace is gone; when he is become quite help- 
less; then let him detach his soul's affections from everything, yield him- 



330 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

self up entirely to God, suffer these trials and all other evils patiently, 
and he will have obtained real poverty of spirit; and then the Holy 
Ghost will soon fill the empty void. Into such a soul He pours all His 
riches, overflowing with His presence the whole man both inward and 
outward, enriching the highest faculties and the lowest. Tn this the 
man's own part is to allow himself to be prepared by the Holy Ghost, 
and to make room for Him as He begins His Divine work. Few men 
do this, even of those whose vocation calls for it, and who show outward 
signs of spirituality. There is a widespread state of delusion and self- 
hood in such matters. This is owing to our acting in self-chosen ways, 
full of self-assurance. Nobody seems willing to yield simply up to the 
Holy Spirit's action; everybody must have his own plan of spiritual 
life — such is the rule in our perilous times. Let thy only rule be to 
allow the Holy Ghost unhindered liberty in thy soul. He will thereupon 
so possess thee with His Divine influence, that even in thy outward con- 
duct every word and work shall be according to His will — all in due 
order and quiet. As to thy interior life, He will turn thee inward to 
achieve great spiritual things, even though thou shalt be hardly aware 
of His action. For just as the soul acts in the body, so does the Holy 
Ghost act in our innermost life, all without our easily perceiving it, until 
we turn again and bend our mental powers deep into those recesses of 
the soul in which the Divine Guest has taken up His abode. 

And then a man is apt to become foolish. When he sees these great 
things of God in his heart, he appropriates them to himself. It is as if 
a great painter had begun a masterpiece and some fool should come 
along and meddle with it and quite destroy its beauty. Thus do we act 
when we meddle with God's work in our souls. This is done by the 
inordinate joy to which we give ourselves up, as we perceive how God is 
doing His holy work within us, for, indeed, that joy exceeds all other joys 
known to this life. But by means of this self -appropriation, God's work 
is destroyed. It is very true that as long as a man does not fall into 
mortal sin the Holy Ghost is not driven out, but his soul may meanwhile 
be far removed from self-renunciation. 

Sometimes a man will be under the delusion that his inner life is all 
of God, and as a matter of fact it is all his own self, his own self-suffi- 
ciency. A man may receive high spiritual gifts, even revelations and 
knowledge of secret things, and yet it may remain very doubtful as to 
what will become of him in the end — it is quite possible for him to be 
eternally lost from the consequences of his self-appropriation of these 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 331 

supernatural things. Children, spiritual matters are not as you fancy. 
A man must go out of himself and stay out of himself, if the Holy Spirit 
shall have His way with him according to His supreme and infinite dig- 
nity : beware of placing obstacles in His way. If thou hast, however, 
made this mistake, it is not necessary for thee to run off at once and 
annoy thy father confessor with matters so hard to explain. Turn imme- 
diately into thy own heart's deep chambers, confess thy faults humbly to 
God there, and He will place His Divine hand on thy head and heal thee. 

Thus said our Lord : "They shall lay their hands upon the sick, and 
they shall recover" (Mark xvi, 18). And again He says: "They shall 
cast out devils." God will thus grant thee power to detect the devil's 
deceits and to escape them — a reward for thy soul's self-renunciation. 
"They shall take up serpents," meaning an interior man's patience in 
bearing with snake-like men, with their overbearing manners and their 
usurped authority. These may sting and wound God's servants in their 
lowermost faculties, but they cannot touch the higher powers of their 
souls — be of good courage and never let them distress thee. Our Saviour 
says also : "If they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them." 
Does not this mean suffering from bad men, in whom everything turns to 
poison? They make the worst of everything, spinning around all that 
comes near them a poisonous web of wickedness. If it should happen 
that thou art desirous of receiving the fulness of the Holy Spirit, and 
that on that account thy sister should assail thee with her scolding 
tongue, then if thou wilt only accept this patiently for God's sake, be cer- 
tain that this is the work of the Holy Ghost. If thou wilt only be silent 
and bear with thyself sweetly, be sure that it is a preparation for the 
coming of the Holy Ghost. It hurts thy outward self, but it cannot 
injure thy interior self. 

Children, would you be always happy, always at your best ? Then hold 
fast to these two little points : Empty yourselves totally of all created 
things, including your own self, maintaining a well-ordered inner and 
outer life, so that the work of the Holy Ghost may be unhindered in you. 
Secondly, accept every happening of your existence, whether in the soul 
or in the outer life, as coming directly from God's hand : come from 
where it may, be it what it will, look upon it as given you to help you 
make ready for His great gifts and for no other purpose whatsoever, 
knowing that only by trial and hardship, whether coming from the evil 
one or from unruly men, you can attain the supernatural and marvelous 
perfection to which God has called you. 




332 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Our Redeemer also said of His apostles : "They shall speak with new 
tongues" (Mark xvi, 17). This means that a man must cripple his 
tongue — that is to say, he must restrain his natural tendency to talk. 
Children, learn how to guard your tongue, learn that art before every 
other art. Habitually take care what you say, or you will never amount 
to anything with God. See to it that your words are all to God's honor, 
or to your neighbor's good, or to your own peace of mind. Converse with 
God without ceasing. St. Bernard says : "I condemn and detest talking 
much with men; but we can never talk too much with God." Thank 
God loudly with your tongue, and praise Him continually. If thou hadst 
only this to thank Him for — that He has patiently borne with thee to 
this hour and silently suffered thy disorderly conduct before His face, 
thou oughtest to demand new tongues of Him to give Him proper thanks, 
even if He never led thee onward to the complete fulfilment of His holy 
designs with thee. And among yourselves, as often as you meet together 
talk about God and about a virtuous life. This does not mean disputa- 
tions about the Deity or any other such things, nor does it mean subtle 
reasoning of any kind ; for that will only help to damn your soul and the 
souls of those you draw into such controversies. But converse about 
God and virtue, out of a heart full of God and of virtue. Avoid subtle 
and disputatious men, who are the serpents of whom we were lately dis- 
coursing. They are externalized men ; thou must not draw them into 
thy sacred interior life. By their means the evil one may manage to 
entrap thee, taking advantage of thy weaker tendencies. 

Besides this, the Holy Ghost works His supernatural ends according 
to the good natural tendencies He finds in thee. As God's work grows 
in thee, He will draw under His influence both thy soul and body. When 
He finds a good and willing natural disposition, He works along its lines. 
Just as a copious rain produces a good harvest, so does God will that His 
gifts shall not be unfruitful — He develops all natural powers of soul and 
body, so that He may in due order act by their means for thy sanctifica- 
tion. But all this is on condition that God finds thee in true poverty of 
spirit. Hence thou must cast out of thy soul whatever thou hast cher- 
ished there that is not the effect of the action of the Holy Ghost; all 
hardness of heart, suspicious rash judgments — of all such things thou 
must be entirely emptied. But thou shouldst bear in mind that what- 
ever happens to thee against thy will can do thee no harm. 

Again, do not suppose that thou shouldst wait inertly for the Holy 
Ghost, ceasing to perform thy usual external works of religion, ceasing 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 333 

to observe thy rule of life, such as singing and reading thy prayers, 
serving thy neighbor, and doing works of charity. No, it is not thus 
that we must wait for the Holy Spirit — supinely letting everything 
slip away from us. The man who loves God and serves Him gladly, 
will do all things out of love, to the praise of God, for the sake of good 
order, in a becoming manner, according as God has arranged by His 
Providence. Let everything be done by thee in a kindly spirit, in all 
gentleness and self-denial, resolved to be at peace with thyself and 
with thy neighbor. It is not the work that hinders thee ; no, but rather 
it is thy spirit of disorder in doing the work that hinders thy spiritual 
progress. Set that right, and keep God alone in view in all thy activity. 
Look carefully into thyself very often ; take heed to what thy mind is 
occupied with; admit no confusion of motives there, whether about joy 
or sorrow; guard carefully thy external behavior. By these means 
thou shalt abide in contentment in all thy doings ; the Holy Ghost will 
come to thee and fill thy soul. He will dwell within thee. If thou wilt 
but hearken to His teaching, He will work miracles within thee. To 
that happy state may God help us all. Amei%. 



334 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Sty* &tftH of % f olu (&*!OBt 

Synopsis — The scene and circumstances of the coming of the Holy 
Ghost — The first gift is Divine fear, which is a supernatural in- 
stinct of seeking safety from danger — Then comes the gift of 
piety, which is a Divine trustfulness in God amid all inward dis- 
turbances and outward calamities — The third is the gift of knowl- 
edge, by which we learn how to place reason in supreme control 
over sense and God over all — The fourth is fortitude, by which a 
a man does wonderful things and overcomes horrible obstacles to 
holiness — Counsel is a gift revealing our defects in their naked de- 
formity, and showing us how to overcome them — Understanding 
and wisdom arc the perfect gifts, and place the soul in close but 
indescribable union with God. 



THIRD SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF PENTECOST. 

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. — Acts ii, 4. 

This is the blessed day on which the Holy Ghost was sent down upon 
the Lord's holy disciples, and upon all who were united to them in 
God's love. Today was restored to us by God's mercy that precious 
gift of grace, first lost to us in Eden through the evil counsel of Satan 
and human weakness. The outward manner of this high gift was 
wonderful, to say nothing of the hidden marvels enclosed in the apostles' 
souls, for this is incomprehensible to all reason and sense. The Holy 
Spirit is so immeasurable and so lovable a boon, that His infinite great- 
ness totally surpasses all our pqflMrs of understanding by means of 
figures and mental conceptions. AMittle grain of dust compared to the 
whole bulk of the world, even this is more than all our power of think- 
ing and imagining, compared to the task of understanding the Holy 
Ghost. And all creatures together are infinitely less than our least 
thoughts of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it is that wheresoever He shall 
take up His abode, He must Himself make ready all things for His 
reception. God's own deep abyss must be God's place of welcome, and 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 335 

that even in His creatures. The house in which the disciples were 
gathered was filled with God — "and It tilled the whole house where they 
were sitting" (Acts ii, 2). Be sure of this: into whatsoever soul God 
comes, He fills every corner of it, according as it is receptive of Him. 

The disciples were all filled with the Holy Ghost. This brings us to 
the consideration of their condition at the time ; and it is that of all of 
God's followers when they are to receive Him. We find that they were 
all shut in and assembled together in one place, and that they sat in all 
stillness, when they received the Holy Ghost. And so with us. This 
beloved Spirit of God is given to each one of us, as often and as much as 
we are shut off from all creatures and turned wholly to God. The very 
instant this happens in a man, the Holy Ghost comes to him with all 
His graces, and He fills every desire ; He takes possession of the very 
being and essence of the soul. And, on the other hand, the very instant 
the soul turns away from God — that is to say deliberately — and gives 
itself to creatures apart from God, having its own self and not God in 
view, that very instant the Holy Ghost takes His departure from the 
soul with all His treasures. 

"And filled the whole House" where the disciples were sitting. And 
herein we may understand holy Church to be meant, which is indeed 
God's house ; and in another sense it may mean each man among us. For 
each one should be a temple and dwelling place of God, well beloved by 
the Holy Ghost as being His chosen shrine. And as in every house there 
are many different living rooms, so in a man there are many senses, 
powers and activities, into all of which the Holy Ghost comes with His 
gifts. And the moment He enters in He lights up a man's soul inte- 
riorly with His brightness, He excites him to the practice of virtue. 
This entrance of God into the soul and His interior working is not 
always perceived, although He is thus present in all good men. If one 
would plainly feel that holy presence and taste God's sweetness, he must 
gather all his faculties together into one place, as it were ; he must shut 
himself away from all outward 1 hinge, and give himself up in all still- 
ness to His Divine Guest. Then williie feel Him in all his soul's activi- 
ties, all the more in proportion to the increase of his fervor in turning 
wholly to Him, hour by hour adding to his first impulse of devoted 
allegiance. 

The disciples of God were shut in out of fear of the Jews. merciful 
God, how much more necessary a thousand times is it not for us in these 
days, to take flight and to be shut in and separated from the wicked 



336 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Jews whom we meet at every corner of our life, and who fill all our 
houses. Ah, beloved children, beware of these hateful Jews, that is to 
say the men who would rob you of God, of confidence in God, and of the 
delightful communion of your soul with the Holy Ghost. The Jews of 
old could do no more against the apostles than take away the life of 
their bodies, but the men of the wretched world of today can deprive 
you of eternal life, rob you of your soul and of God. Fly from these 
Jews, shut yourselves safely away from them, put an end to your dan- 
gerous companionship with them, beware of dallying with them, whether 
by words or deeds ; for God's honor and praise is not with them. And 
if you fail in this, be sure that you will lose the Holy Ghost and forfeit 
all His gifts. 

But someone might say : No, sir, this intercourse with men does me 
no harm, because I mean no evil in it. And I must recreate myself and 
enjoy some little relaxation. But O my God, how is it that Thou, the 
sweetest and the only good, Thou eternal and infinite joy — how is it that 
Thou hast no sweetness to our taste, while we can find peace and happi- 
ness in the enjoyment of miserable, perishing creatures, full of darkness 
and destruction. O man, how canst thou prefer the joy of creatures to 
that of God, and drive from thy heart the blessed Spirit that made thee r 
and is and must be thy truest consolation ? 

But, dear children, fly not the company of good men, those who long 
for God's love alone, and who keep Him ever in mind with deep sincerity. 
When such as these are engaged with outward things, they nevertheless 
remain preoccupied with their interior life, where they are always priv- 
ileged to enjoy the peace and happiness of the Holy Ghost. 

The disciples of God were all assembled together; and this teaches 
us to gather in to our hearts all our mental faculties and all our bodily 
senses, so that the Holy Ghost may constantly act upon them, producing, 
as He is sure to do, wonderful fruits of grace, when place and time are 
found appropriate. 

The disciples of God were seated when they received the Holy Ghost. 
So must thou in very truth sit down submissive to God's will in all 
events, whether joyful or sad, doing or not doing. And this is a neces- 
sary requirement on the part of God from all who would become spirit- 
ual men. For what is meant by spirituality, except to be intimately 
united to God in one will? All Christians who would be saved are 
bound to this — to will nothing against God's will. 

And now one might enquire whether all men in the ecclesiastical 
state are bound to become perfect. They are bound, answers St. Thomas, 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 337 

to live and strive always toward perfection. You must understand that 
the Holy Ghost imparts seven gifts, through which He does seven works 
in the soul. By three of them He prepares a man for high and true 
perfection ; by the other four, He finishes His interior and external work, 
granting the highest and most splendid achievement of all perfection. 

The first gift is Divine fear, which is the certain entrance way to per- 
fection even the highest. The gift of fear is like a solid wall of resist- 
ance against all transgressions and all hindrances. Holy fear causes 
one to flee from deadly snares, as well as to escape falling into the deep 
pit. The soul becomes like a bird that the hunter would entrap, but 
which flies swiftly away into safety. As God gives this instinct of 
safety to His inanimate creatures, so does He bestow His blessed gift of 
fear upon us, to enable us to escape whatever would hinder us from 
union with Him. This noble gift guards us from the world, from the 
evil spirit and from our own weakness — from every manner of means by 
which we may forfeit our peace of soul. Whatever man has really given 
place to the Holy Ghost within him, quickly flees from danger ; and he 
makes no terms with evil, nor holds any middle place between what is 
for God and what is against Him, that is to say in what involves mortal 
sin. And in all this, the gift of fear is, as the prophet taught, the 
beginning of wisdom. 

After the gift of fear comes that of piety, a gentle endowment, which 
leads the soul far in advance on the journey toward union with sovereign 
truth. This gift takes from a man all depressing influences that might 
result from fear, lifting him out of his heaviness of spirit, so that he 
may have Divine trustfulness in all that may occur, both in inward 
feelings and outward happenings. Piety cures spiritual weariness, 
remedies obstinacy, and softens bitterness against one's self. And it 
makes one kindly toward one's neighbor in word and deed, very peace- 
ful in outward behavior : and as to rashness, that the Spirit of God by 
this gift banishes totally away. 

The third gift follows after, elevating the soul yet higher — the gift of 
knowledge. These gifts lap over one another and partake more or less 
of one another, but each in turn places the soul nearer to God. Dear 
children, in God a man is enabled by this gift to hearken to the Holy 
Ghost's interior voice warning him and guiding him, according to the 
words of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ : "When He, the Spirit of Truth, 
is come, He will teach you all truth" (John xvi, 13) ; that is to say, all 
things that we need to know. The warning of God is like this : O man. 



338 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

beware of doing that, for such and such evil results may follow. Or 
again : Do not say that ; go not that way. These are prohibitions. But 
God also bids us do things : Act in such and such a way ; give up this and 
undertake that. All these things are the gentle leadings of the Holy 
Spirit. He would have our souls possess the mastery over our bodies 
in all things, ruling them with a noble spiritual supremacy. He would 
have our bodies live a worthy life, by practicing virtue and in steadfast 
industry. He would have us suffer disgrace patiently. He would draw 
every single one of us to Himself, that He may elevate us to a thousand- 
fold more perfect union, banishing inordinate fear. 

They who are faithful to this gift of knowledge, God leads to the 
fourth gift, Divine fortitude. O children, how noble and how very 
superior a gift of God is this, for it lifts us high above our human 
weakness. This was the force in the holy martyrs, as they cheerfully 
suffered death through God's assistance. Fortitude makes a man great- 
hearted. He feels able to perfectly accomplish everything for God, to 
suffer everything for His sake, as St. Paul said : "I can do all things in 
Him who strengtheneth me" (Phil, iv, 13). To such a man neither fire 
nor water nor death itself has any terrors ; as St. Paul again teaches : 
"For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor principalities, nor pow- 
ers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor 
depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love 
of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. viii, 38, 39). With 
this gift a man becomes so strong, that he goes far beyond abstaining 
from mortal sins ; he would rather die than deliberately commit even a 
single venial sin. And this is a doctrine taught us by our dear saints; 
for if all will admit that we should give up life rather than wilfully 
commit a mortal sin, the saints, in addition to this by example and teach- 
ing, lead us to abhor venial sin. 

With the gift of fortitude the soul can do wonderful things. You 
must know, dear children, that when the Spirit of God comes into our 
souls, He always brings great joy, bright light, sweet consolation, for 
He is called and He is the Comforter. And now what too often hap- 
pens? When the silly man feels this happiness, he appropriates it to 
himself in a state of self-satisfaction. He diverts his mind away from 
God to the enjoyment of God's gifts. Quite the contrary is the way of 
the wise Christian. He ever reverts to the origin of his joy, restores all 
God's gifts back to God with clear-minded self-renunciation. Not this 
or that particular one; but all without exception that he is and has he 
refers straight back to God alone. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 339 

Upon this follows the Divine gift of counsel, the fifth in order. Ah, 
how great is the need of God's counsel now; for it will be as if He had 
taken away all that He had given before, showing a man in naked reality 
what he is and what he can do ! But He will instruct him how he should 
bear himself in this sore trial of self-knowledge. A man is now left 
destitute ; of God he knows nothing — so it appears to him, — has nothing 
of His grate, is wholly deprived of comfort. Whatever he had before is 
gone — gone, at least, out of his knowledge, snatched away and vanished. 
He stands desolate, at a loss what to do or whither to turn. The gift 
of counsel is now of essential necessity, if he would behave as God would 
have him, and yield himself up to God's holy will, dying to self, standing 
in utter abandonment to his heavenly Father, giving himself cheerfully 
up to the awful secret judgment of God, by which he has been despoiled — 
so he thinks — of those graces which were once his perfect salvation and 
joy and comfort. This gift is no less a grace than to be content to be 
robbed of one's very self — this utter abandonment to God's will, this 
sinking down into the abyss of the Divine sovereignty. Nor is it enough 
to be willing to accept this fate for a week or a month of dark suffering, 
but for a long thousand years, if God so wills it — nay (if such a thing 
were possible consistently with loving God), to accept the eternal pains 
of hell, if God so willed, so that one might at last be wholly conformed 
to the Divine decree. 

Dear children, here is a grade of self-renunciation above all others. 
Compared to this, the giving up of a thousand worlds is nothing ; or the 
offering of their lives that the blessed martyrs made, for they had God's 
comfort in their souls, so that they could laugh at tortures and could die 
joyously. But there is no torture to compare with the loss of God that 
is now felt by the soul undergoing this trial. And, besides, all the 
misery that the soul had previously endured with patience, all the temp- 
tations it had previously overcome, all the faults it had rooted out — all 
this together now returns upon it and assails it, and that with a violence 
far greater than when the soul was struggling out of a state of sinful- 
ness. Now let a man suffer meekly, now let him give up to God's will, 
and that for as long a time as God pleases. Sometimes a good soul will 
be so self-weary as to find solitude an unbearable agony — not for one 
hour can he be alone. For relief he turns now to this solace and again 
to that, and ever in vain : his only recourse is to struggle meekly through 
it all and yield himself up to God. Why, think yon, did the Lord say to 
St. Peter, that a man should forgive his enemy seventy times seven 



340 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

times? except because He knows our weakness, and would instruct us 
that as often as we turn again to Him repenting and confessing, so often 
will He pardon us. How great a boon is it, for a sinner to be taught 
what it means to fall away from God and then to return to Him again. 
Dear children, in this trial as in all things else, one must resign himself 
into God's hands, and be guided by His gift of counsel, lifting himself 
high above all created existence, and becoming united to the origin and 
essence that is God's will. 

Dear children, by the three first gifts of the Holy Spirit — fear of God, 
piety toward God, and God's science or knowledge — a man is made good 
and holy ; but by those of fortitude and counsel he becomes heavenly, and 
as it were Divine. It is by these, in truth, that God sets a man in ever- 
lasting life. After enduring the agony we have described, the soul 
endures no other agony whether in earth or hell. It is impossible that 
the eternal God would ever give that soul up, any more than He would 
give Himself up, for the soul has yielded itself totally to the Divine will. 
That soul has placed itself safely in the one only origin of all things, 
and if all the suffering in this world fell upon it, it would regard it not 
at all, it would experience no manner of harm, nay, it would even turn it 
into joy — such a soul seems to be in Heaven itself. That man's conver- 
sation is in that blessed home of his soul, into which he has, as it were, 
placed one foot ; and now he has only to draw the other one after it in 
order to be wholly in life eternal. He is in direct communication with 
everlasting joy, which, indeed, has already begun in his soul. 

And now come the last two gifts, understanding and wisdom, which 
lead a man directly into the abyss of God's being, and in a manner far 
above any other means. The way of these gifts is understood by God 
alone, for they grant a savor of His own essential wisdom. When the 
soul is given them, it is forthwith lost to its own consciousness. Self is 
absorbed in God. A man can think of nothing of his own, neither 
works, nor feelings, nor knowledge, nor life. All this has been absorbed 
and centered in one simple infinite good, to which it is joined in the 
unspeakable depths of God, joined in essential unity. What God has 
in Himself by nature, that He now imparts to the soul by grace, the 
Divine being, unnamed and without form or manner of existence that 
we can express. And now everything that is done in that soul God 
Himself does, acting, knowing, loving, praising, enjoying; all of which 
the soul has and does as if it were passive instrument of God's activity. 
One can no more speak of this state clearly than he can speak clearly 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 341 

of the Divine life itself. To men and angels it is far too high for expres- 
sion. The created mind is incapable of understanding God's life, 
whether in Himself in His natural activity, or in these favored souls, 
when it is a gift of grace. 

And thus it is that the Holy Ghost leads those who prepare their souls 
for Him, who long to be filled with Him, who would entertain Him as 
their Divine Guest, who would yield themselves freely and loyally to 
His guidance. How glad and more than glad should we not be to 
extend Him this welcome, giving up for His dear sake ourselves and 
all things else. That is what the disciples did when He was granted 
them on the feast we today celebrate; that is what is done daily and 
hourly by all who make themselves ready for His coming. May God the 
Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, grant us the privilege 
of this noblest way of union with the Holy Spirit. Amen. 



342 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



(Elf* (Bonh JMpptprft anb ijia £>tytp 

Synopsis — The sheepfold is God's heart — The sheep are all saints and 
angels — The thieves are those who try to enter, trusting to their 
own natural good qualities — The robbers are the envious and 
backbiters — Every man who would enter God's heart must try 
himself by these tests. 



FOURTH SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF PENTECOST. 

Amen, amen, I say to you : He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, 
but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber. — John x, 1. 

Our Lord teaches in the same chapter that He is Himself the door of 
the sheep. And what is the sheepfold ? It is the Divine Father's heart ; 
of this our beloved Lord is the door, ever opening to admit us, ever clos- 
ing to keep us in. For we know that till our Saviour came, the door of 
God's heart was shut against us. In that sheepfold is the assemblage 
of all the saints. The shepherd is the Eternal Word, the door is the 
humanity of Christ, the sheep in this beautiful house of the shepherd 
are the souls of men, and, we may add, that this is the dwelling place 
of all angelic natures. The Good Shepherd, the Eternal Word, has 
shown all reasonable creatures the road to the Divine sheepfold. And 
who is the doorkeeper? The Holy Ghost, as Saints Ambrose and Jerome 
teach : "All truth that is ever known or ever spoken comes from the 
Holv Ghost." As to how the Holv Ghost instructs our hearts, inclines 
them, incessantly compels and enraptures them, that is known by those 
who have entered deeply into their own interior life. 

Ah, how sweetly does the fatherly heart of God shut to the door when 
we have entered in, how generously does He lavish upon us the hidden 
riches of His house of love. No one can fully understand how ready and 
as it were thirsty God is thus to receive our souls, meeting us every 
instant halfway and with all eagerness as w T e advance toward Him. 
children, how does it happen that we hold back, and that we refuse this 
gracious invitation, that we do it so often and for such frivolous reasons? 
We read in Scripture that when King Assuerus invited Vasti, his queen, 
to a royal banquet, she refused to come ; and then the king detested her 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 343 

and cast her off forever, and chose another queen in her place. Ah, 
children, how many invitations of God Himself have we not refused; 
for they come to us directly from Him in our hearts, and again through 
the medium of creatures. God would have us to be with Himself, and 
we refuse and insist on being joined to others. 

Now the Holy Spirit, the Gatekeeper of the Sheepfold, calleth His 
own sheep by name. Some refuse to hear Him and go away, but others 
hear His sweet voice gladly, and follow Him faithfully, turning neither 
to the right nor left and following no other. He leads onward, and they 
follow loyally after Him into the fatherly heart, into their peaceful 
home, passing through the door of the Eternal Word in His beloved 
humanity. True sheep of God are these; no alien shepherds do they 
follow ; only God and His honor do such souls regard, guided absolutely 
by the Divine will — true sheep of the one Good Shepherd. Our Saviour 
says that He knows them and they know Him and recognize His voice, 
the voice that calls them to the door that opens into everlasting life; 
for He is the way, the truth and the life. Whosoever cometh to the 
Father must go through the door that Jesus is. To strive to enter any 
other way is to be a thief and a robber. 

And who, dear children, are the thieves? All who would enter into 
God's sheepfold trusting to their natural good qualities ; those who do 
not keep God alone in mind and heart in humble self-denial, nor follow 
the lovely form of Jesus Christ in entire disengagement of spirit ; those 
who will not acknowledge themselves worthy of rejection — all these 
men enter in by the wrong door. And who else is the thief? The bad 
man who seeks out other men to corrupt them, the treacherous man of 
the evil eye. It is the selfish man, wholly consumed with self-love, who 
would appropriate to himself everything, grasping after what is God's 
and his neighbors. This evil trait drives the soul to appropriate all to 
itself, and then selfishly to seek to enjoy the comfort of God's generous 
gifts, harboring ambitious thoughts of being holy. And this evil state 
is fastened on the soul, unless it be sternly resisted, and self-denial be 
practiced in all inward and outward things. For it is ever against 
nature for a man to be content with oppression, to be glad to die to 
his own will, and to make that the starting point. Self-interest is always 
the hidden thief in our hearts, stealing from the eternal God His due 
honor, and from ourselves the truth of God and our everlasting perfec- 
tion. This spiritual thief within us, dear children, does more harm to 
men than those criminals who are hanged for stealing our natural goods. 



344 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

Therefore I warn you against this secret thief ; as you value your eternal 
welfare resist self-love, lest it steal from you the fruit of Heaven's joy. 

So much for the thieves. And now, dear children, let us ask who are 
the wicked robbers. They are rash judgments of our neighbor. Some 
men — and you find them in all states of life — are full of the spirit of 
rash judgment; so much so that their condemnation of others prevents 
them from knowing and condemning themselves. Such a one inwardly 
exclaims : That man talks too much, that other talks too little ; this one 
is overbusy, that one is too idle ; one has committed that fault, another 
this fault. And thus injurious reflections are multiplied as well as 
heavy condemnations, and at last a pitiable and sinful state of interior 
uncharity results. This inner contempt for one's neighbor often breaks 
out in ugly words, and characterizes the whole outward demeaner. It 
spreads the deadly infection to other men, slaying souls right and left. 
Ah, thou poor, blind creature; why dost thou not sit in judgment on 
thyself? What canst thou know of the heart of thy neighbor, or the 
way God is leading him with His loving favors, or of the inspirations 
and drawings of the eternal God in his inner life? What! Wilt thou, 
poor wretch that thou art, sit in judgment on these secret things, known 
to God's eye alone? Wilt thou thus presume to decide about what is 
wholly God's work, to meddle with it and destroy it? Repent of this 
before God and His saints and angels, repent sincerely, for all judg- 
ment is God's alone. 

This death-stroke of evil judging works great harm in religious com- 
munities. It is a pitiful thing that such uncharitable spirits should 
forget our Lord's words : "Judge not, that you may not be judged. For 
with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with what 
measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matt, vii, 1, 2). 
One must never condemn anything except mortal sin. If it happens 
that a man must pass judgment because he holds an office, then the 
Holy Ghost judges and punishes through him, and he therefore should 
act with Divine gentleness, lest in curing one wound he inflict ten others. 
Divine love, brotherly charity, a meek and gentle heart — these are the 
right dispositions for a judge. Without these, a religious superior 
gropes in darkness and soon wanders away from the truth. Ever 
and always should we first sit in judgment on ourselves. As long as 
thou Iivest thou hast hanging about thy neck a sack full of thy own 
sins, calling out constantly for judgment. As to judgment and punish- 
ment of thy neighbor, leave that to himself and his God, if thou wouldst 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 345 

make sure of entering into the fold of eternal life. For I say to thee in 
all truth, that as many judgments as thou visitest on others, so many 
shall be visited on thyself. 

Dear children, when a man turns inward, he discovers in his soul these 
two enemies, the thief of self-appropriation of God's graces, and the 
robber of rash judgment against his neighbor. These hidden enemies 
steal and destroy the treasures of God's grace, and lay waste His inte- 
rior kingdom. Let a man turn one enemy upon the other. Let him 
force the robber of rash judgment to exercise true judgment upon the 
thief of spiritual self-conceit, and then follows what often happens: 
both suffer death, the robber and the thief destroy each other. O chil- 
dren, happy is the soul in which this happens. Blessed is the life of a 
man when nature's fierce tendency to condemn, is turned upon its greedy 
self to inflict punishment for appropriation of Divine gifts. Then he 
rests meekly under God's judgment, in his own case and in that of all 
others ; then he soon finds himself at the door that is Jesus Christ our 
Lord; then the beloved Doorkeeper, the Holy Ghost, opens wide the 
portals of eternal life, and introduces the soul into the deep abyss of the 
Father's love, into and out of which it passes, always enjoying rich 
pastures of grace. 

That soul sinks with unspeakable joy into the Deity, comes forth 
again with equal joy by union with the blessed humanity of Christ, ful- 
filling the word of our Saviour spoken through His prophet concerning 
His sheep: "I will feed them in the most fruitful pastures, and their 
pastures shall be in the high mountains of Israel ; there shall they rest 
on the green grass (Ezechiel xxxiv, 14). Then shall the soul's work 
and rest be made one. May that be our blessed lot, by the help of God. 
Amen. 



346 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Sty? ApoBtkfl Ifefor* tymtttast 

Synopsis — Deserted by the world, the Apostles turned inward to God 
— They went bach to the city, recalling the teaching of Jesus — 
They fearfully examined their souls and bitterly repented of their 
sins — They grew in hope, and confidently awaited the Holy Spirit 
— Reasons why He had not been granted them before. 



FIFTH SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF PENTECOST. 
Then they returned to Jerusalem. — Acts i, 12. 

When the eternal Son of God had finished the work His Father had 
sent Him to accomplish, and His bodily presence had been taken away 
from His disciples, they returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem. 

And there they did six things. First, seeing themselves deserted by 
the whole world, seeing, too, that all Heaven's joy and consolation had 
been taken away from them, they turned inward. They withdrew their 
thoughts from all outward things, for this world was now wholly dead 
to them, and with it all the joy of transitory things. 

Secondly, they resolved on self-renunciation. Now they had as leave 
die as live. As long as God's will were done and His honor saved, they 
cared not what might happen to them. Hence it was that they went 
back into the city, a place full of their enemies, because they had been 
so commanded by the Lord, there to await what His will had in store 
for them. This they did, although not without great fear. 

Thirdly, they called to mind the sweet and holy teaching of Jesus by 
word and by example ; and how stupidly they had received it all ; how 
unworthy they had been to hear His words and to look upon Him ; and 
how feebly they had responded to His loving care. Recognizing all this, 
they confessed it before God with bitter sorrow of heart, and upbraided 
themselves with interior reproaches. 

Fourthly, they now remembered how their beloved Master had in all 
things practiced self-sacrifice; that in His whole life He never was a 
self-seeker. They recalled, too. His words : "If any man will come after 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 347 

Me, let him deny himself" (Matt, xv, 24). Upon this they inspected 
their own souls, and they owned that they were very far from true 
denial of self, and that they had copied Christ's example only in a 
natural way. They became aware that fear and other natural motives 
had not been displaced by higher ones. They sorrowfully confessed all 
this, and accused themselves bitterly, and despised themselves heartily. 

Fifthly, they rose out of this humble state of mind, this candid avowal 
of dullness of soul and of disorderly inclinations, and they turned with 
sincere longings to their beloved Master. From the depths of their heart 
they implored Him to forgive their great imperfections, to cure all cow- 
ardice within them, to correct all the self-seeking of their perverted 
nature, and to utterly strip them of anything that could lead them 
astray from a true life, establishing in them the rule of His blessed 
humanity. All this they did with most hearty sincerity; otherwise, I 
do not believe that they would have received the Holy Ghost. 

Sixthly, they aroused within their souls a gentle sentiment of confi- 
dence, recalling the word of their Master that He would bring them 
help and would comfort them. Although they saw themselves forsaken 
and opposed by all, and in the sorest necessity, yet were they full of a 
great confidence in their faithful Master and Lord. They were sure 
that He would not abandon them, even though they felt some misgivings 
on account of their unworthiness, and their lack of disengagement from 
worldly things. 

And now you might ask this question : Since the disciples were dead 
to the world, and since they sincerely longed that all shortcomings of 
nature might be remedied by the Divine light, why was the Holy Ghost 
not given them immediately after the Lord's ascension? I answer that 
we cannot believe that the Holy Spirit was withheld from them during 
the interval between the ascension and Pentecost, and we may be sure 
that they received Him ; but only in a preparatory sort of way. They 
were to receive Him in far greater fullness at Pentecost. The more they 
advanced in self-knowledge and self-annihilation, so much the more 
plentifully was He imparted to them. He was delayed till Pentecost 
as to the fullnes of His graces, because they were not as yet entirely 
emptied of self. Then it was that their souls were perfectly ready for 
Him because entirely disengaged from other claimants. Only then ; 
that is to say when God's Spirit was poured into them and the Divine 
power finished the work of preparation : that preparation had been 
going on beforehand, but only then was it completed. God now was 



348 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

in their souls content with Himself as He possessed them. And this 
we will more fully explain in the next sermon. St. Gregory speaks of 
the disciples and of souls similar to them, when he says : "In proportion 
as the Divine power grows within us, so does our own spirit lose its 
strength; and thus do we increase wholly in God, as we decrease wholly 
in ourself." May this holy gift be granted us by the Father, and the 
Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 349 



(UIjp Dratmng of % Soly (StjoBt 

Synopsis — TVte /irst drawing is through creatures, giving proofs of His 
existence — Secret and interior touches of consolation or of chas- 
tisement are a, second attraction — The third is a drawing to a very 
close embrace of love — This is followed by entire self-renunciation, 
sometimes in joy, more often in sorrow — Another drawing is into 
a state of interior prayer without images or forms — The other 
drawings perfect all these and add new heavenly joys to the soul. 



SIXTH SERMON FOR PENTECOST. 

No man can come to Me except the Father, who hath sent Me, draw him. — John 
Ti, 44. 

These words apply to our Saviour's disciples after the ascension, for 
they were very wretched. They lay, as it were, imprisoned in the deep 
dungeon of their sinfulness, bound by their own inclinations as by fet- 
ters of iron. Conscious at last of their own powerlessness, they now cry 
out pitifully to the eternal Father. For St. Luke tells us that they were 
persevering with one mind in prayer — prayer to be set free from their 
heavy chains, to be released from their dark dungeon. And God their 
Father heard their fervent prayer. He struck off their chains, He drew 
them forth from prison, and set them in the Divine school of the Holy 
Ghost, in which they were to be filled with all truth. The cords with 
which He drew them forth were six in number. 

The first is that He turned upon them His eyes of compassion. Nor 
was this in the way of His ordinary mercy, but with particular mercy 
for them. God draws men to Himself by created things, through which 
He reveals His existence in the created light of their souls. St. Thomas 
teaches that some of the heathen saw God's presence as He dwelt in the 
created world about them, which showed Him as its Creator and Master, 
so that men should pay Him honor in every part of the world. Thus 
God draws men through His creatures, thereby giving them proofs of 
His existence. 



350 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

In addition to this, God manifests Himself to the soul of man by His 
secret word of truth within them. St. Augustine says: "The heathen 
have discoursed of certain truths that they know from the everlasting 
law of God, and not from their own natural knowledge." Such is the 
case with all men who utter truth, as St. Ambrose teaches : "Whatsoever 
is true, no matter by whom it may be spoken, comes from the Holy 
Ghost." Hence it happens that when the soul is deeply recollected, it 
often becomes sensitive to the words of eternal truth, a state that some- 
times comes upon us in the night time toward morning. This influence 
may be either in the nature of a caress from God or of a chastisement. 

Yet again God influences the soul when a man gives himself entirely 
up to Him, waiting solely upon God's blessed will, truly disengaged 
from love of self and of all created things. Then the eternal Father, 
finding his creature's will offering no manner of resistance, draws him 
in a way that causes his soul to adhere to Him in an especially affection- 
ate manner. This drawing is called a union, an embracing. Its gift is 
the possession of the Supreme Good, Who made Heaven and earth and 
all things for our sake, Who came on earth and humbled Himself to the 
death of the cross. It is because man is dearer to God than all Heaven's 
glory or that of earth, that He seeks to possess him, and that He desires 
to guide him in all his ways. This attraction for man it was that turned 
God's gracious glances upon Christ's disciples, this is the reason of all 
the joys and sorrows with which He visited them. All was to fit them to 
respond to His drawing of their souls. And when at last the disciples 
allowed God to manage them after His own will, they answered His 
drawing perfectly. This will appear better as we go on. 

One might enquire : Why did God prepare the disciples for this priv- 
ilege and does not thus prepare me and other men, at least in this won- 
derfully special manner? I answer that there are two reasons. One is 
God's free choice, by which He prefers some men rather than others for 
the bestowal of His most familiar love, just as a king by his royal free- 
dom of choice, calls to his privy council certain of his nobles rather than 
others. Another reason is that some men correspond better with God's 
invitation and more diligently co-operate with it than others do, using 
every means at hand, overcoming all obstacles. This extraordinary 
Divine drawing was given to our dear disciples, because they prepared 
for it by most hearty prayers for pardon. They lamented most sincerely 
their former dullness of heart, and their unworthy lives while their 
beloved Master had been with them. They painfully called to mind His 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 351 

holy life and bitter death, His boundless love for them, His giving up 
all that man holds dear for their sakes ; and they despised their own stu- 
pidity and ingratitude. Then they set a watch over themselves, aban- 
doned themselves wholly into God's hands, cut themselves loose from all 
attachments as far as they were able, and begged God's help to fully 
complete their disengagement from earthly things. And in that frame 
of mind they humbly waited on God's blessed will. This explains why 
they were so specially favored. 

One might object that the disciples could not thus prepare for God by 
their own power, for it is written : "Without Me you can do nothing" 
(John xv, 5) ; it is God who has led them through these degrees of prep- 
aration, and drawn their wills to Him. In answer I say that it is true 
that without God's general sanctifying influence we can do no good 
thing, and that without the Holy Spirit's particular influence we can 
take no single step in advance. And yet it also stands true that we have 
our part to perform, for it is certain that we can resist the Holy Ghost 
and cling to self in spite of Him. God does not sanctify a man without 
his own free will. Our eyes cannot see without light shining ; and yet 
when the light beams we must open our eyes, or we shall not see, in spite 
of our having the light. No matter how brightly the sun shines, if I 
bandage my eyes with a thick cloth, it shines not for me ; in spite of all 
the sunshine I do not see. Thus, therefore, when the eternal Father 
cast His light upon the disciples, they stripped off all bandages, and set 
aside as far as they could all things else that intervened between them 
and Him. Then God did His work, and drew them to Him with a special 
attraction. This was the work of the beloved Son of God, the guide of 
all hearts. He pierced every obstacle with His light, He banished every 
hindrance to the full enlightenment of their souls. 

The second drawing is now to be considered. By it the heavenly 
Father enabled them to answer His first attraction in a spirit of entire 
and permanent self-renunciation. This He had taught them by His 
beloved Son : "Do not possess gold, nor silver, nor money in your 
purses ; nor scrip for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff" 
(Matt, x, 9, 10). Anyone can see, that to obey this a strong drawing 
away from all bodily comfort is needed. It is a call to enter the school 
of eternal light, which teaches us to cast our heart's affections high 
above even the third heaven, to say nothing of all the things of time. 
Besides this, they must give no place whatever in their souls to any sense 
of proprietorship; and, joined to this, they are to cultivate a spirit of 



352 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

repose, withdrawing into the unchanging tranquillity of the secret 
depths of their hearts, far from the storm, that is to say, the imperfec- 
tions, of the outward life. There they become, as it were, partakers of 
that light eternal that is God — a light clear and steadfast, different 
from the light of the sun and moon, which alternates with darkness. 
Thus did the disciples need to be released from the narrowness and the 
degradation and the unrest that is essential to created things, and to be 
freed from all bodily fetters. St. Jerome says : "As it is impossible that 
a stone can have the wisdom of an angel, so is it impossible that God can 
communicate Himself in time or in the things of time." 

And now occurs a question. Since God draws some men to Him 
by means of joy and others by means of sorrow, by which of these did He 
draw the disciples? The answer is found in considering their life. It 
was passed in our Saviour's company in much hardship, ending in great 
shame and distress. So they were drawn to God more by sorrow than 
by joy. And especially after their Master's cruel death were they in a 
state of bitter suffering, until they had become entirely detached. And 
thus, by the special favor of their heavenly Father, they were made fit 
to receive the Holy Spirit by the way of suffering. The drawing through 
sorrow is a safer way than that through joy. And it is in this sense 
that St. Gregory understands the psalmist: "A thousand shall fall at 
thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand" (Ps. xc, 7) ; meaning that 
a thousand helpers shall fail thee in time of sorrow and persecution, 
but ten thousand in time of joy and prosperity. 

And the way to God through sorrow is more like Christ's way in all 
His life, and in His death. It is, besides, a better sign of God's love, 
for it is written : "Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise" ( Apoc. iii, 19) . 
It is, indeed, true that the disciples enjoyed a close familiar companion- 
ship with the Divine Master, but it was embittered by the knowledge 
that for every gift they got they must suffer the death of all self-love. 
And as fast as God relieved them of one suffering he sent them another 
just as hard — for God is always accustomed to thus treat his beloved 
friends. The disciples found this to be the case, and so must they keep 
on suffering to the end, according as their heavenly Father arranged for 
them. Until at last their sorrow was turned into joy, and they were 
glad to suffer for the name of Jesus. 

The third drawing of the heavenly Father, had the effect of freeing the 
disciples from thinking of the humanity of Christ under gross bodily 
forms. God granted them deliverance from this and all other kinds of 






of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 353 

such mental images in their union with Him, just as if He had but now 
newly created their spiritual existence. This was necessary, if they 
were to enter the glorious school of the Holy Spirit. Four reasons may 
be given for this. The first is that truth and love — for about these is all 
teaching imparted— can, strictly speaking, have no images. Can any 
painter in the world picture truth and love, whether in the inner or 
outer order of existence? Whatever form comes forth into our minds 
from love is not the form of love's own self; and the same is to be said 
about images of truth. The second reason is that truth and love are 
not, in this high school, taught by the external images and figures found 
in books. For now the truth is imparted interiorly ; it is spoken with- 
out words or figures or forms of any created kind, which, indeed, are not 
according to truth's essential nature. Therefore did the humble St. 
Francis exhort his brothers in his rule, that they should not busy 
themselves much with books and writings. If they were unlettered, let 
them not be too anxious to learn to read, but rather be absorbed above 
all things in striving after the spirit of God, and with pure hearts pray 
for His holy operation in their souls. 

Thirdly, one is to renounce such images and forms in the mind, be- 
cause in the holy school of God, wisdom is learned by humility, speech 
by silence, life by death, knowledge by forgetting. John slept when he 
gazed upon the fountain head of eternal wisdom. When Paul in his 
trance looked upon eternal truth, he knew not whether his soul were 
in the body or out of the body. In like manner must the souls of the 
disciples be imageless, if they would have places in such a school. 
Fourthly, when the mind is occupied with images, these run through 
the imagination in the order and succession of time. N^-^ that is not 
the way with the Holy Spirit's highest school, wherein not images nor 
intervals of time, but the touch of God, quicker than a flash, moves the 
soul and enlightens it. St. Gregory says : "The Holy Ghost is a marvel- 
ous master workman. He takes up His abode in a fisherman and makes 
him a preacher ; He takes up His abode in a cruel persecutor and makes 
him a teacher of nations; He takes up His abode in a publican and 
makes him an evangelist." Who is like this master workman? To 
teach everything that He pleases He requires no time — a single touch 
and all is taught the soul — nothing more is necessary. 

Now from these four reasons, it is plain that the disciples' souls must 
be drawn away from forms and images. And yet in this drawing, they 
did not see all that St. Paul did when he was rapt into the third heaven ; 



354 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

for, as St. Augustine thinks, Paul and Moses on the mount saw the 
Divine Essence direct and without any intermediation. This was not 
granted to the disciples, because they still were conscious of being in 
their bodies. And yet in their inmost souls they were so flooded with 
Divine light, that they experienced essentially the same as St. Paul did, 
some more completely than others. 

The fourth drawing was that whereby the heavenly Father drew the 
disciples out of themselves. He emptied them of self and self-seeking, 
so that they stood in entire freedom from self-enthrallment, and were 
wholly disengaged from self-interest. All complaint now ceased among 
them, and all anguish and pain was dead. Herein was perfected most 
highly the first drawing, in which they were started toward perfect 
Divine union, and of which we have already treated. For now the 
eternal Father shall not meet with any resistance from their natural 
inclinations in His designs for their sanctification. This drawing is to 
give God His place as master in their souls, a free and undivided and 
most loving supremacy. From it they shall learn His perfections and 
be made like unto Him. No wonder that they must be drawn out of 
and away from self, for selfhood is wholly inconsistent with Divine lib- 
erty, love and nobility. 

And now one might inquire: Did the disciples' natural life now die 
within them, since all forms and images were drawn out of their minds? 
Is nature now entirely dead ? The answer is, no, nature is not now dead 
within them. Nay, in this their self-renunciation they are more truly 
natural than ever before. For whatsoever the Lord of nature operates in 
his creature, that is to be judged most perfectly natural, and resistance 
to it is resistance to nature. Thus says St. Augustine : "That the rod 
was turned into a serpent in the Old Testament was not against nature, 
because it was done by the will of God." And so I say, that inasmuch 
as the disciples yielded themselves wholly to God's will, they were in the 
highest degree natural. Their nature did not die, but it was elevated 
into the right order of existence. As to mental images and forms, they 
still had them no less than before, but they did not direct them upon 
selfish ends nor any otherwise than according to God's will. When I 
said that they were emptied of all images, my meaning was, that these 
forms in the soul were now like a candle in the light of the noonday sun. 
The candle shines as much as ever, but its beams are mingled and lost 
in the sun's rays, which are now the means of distributing the candle's 
light. Thus do the mental images and the whole nature of the apostles, 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor Ho5 

work through the illumination of the Divine light. They use that 
Divine light, and are made thereby truer to nature and have more forms 
and images than ever before. 

The fifth drawing now took place. By it the heavenly Father, finding 
the souls of His disciples in all freedom of spirit and entirely set at 
liberty from self and created things, drew them into a proportionately 
close union with Himself. God had obtained His way and purpose 
with them, for He could have asked no more from them than entire self- 
surrender. And on their part, all their aspirations for the possession 
of God were now fulfilled. Nor was it that the Holy Ghost gave them 
Himself alone, but that God the Father and God the Son gave them- 
selves also in the fulness of the indivisible Godhead. For when we 
attribute love to the Holy Ghost (as we do wisdom to the Son), so we 
must remember that in the distinction of the Divine persons it is proper 
to infinite love to unite the Father and the Son in the one Godhead. 

And now you might enquire, as to whether or not God drew all the 
disciples to Himself in the same degree of love, and endowed them with 
the same degree of holiness, since they were all equally absorbed in Him 
and given up to Him. I answer that although all of them were equally 
detached in spirit, nevertheless they turned to God with different 
degrees of love and with varying ardor. It was with them as with the 
angels who remained true to God; they differed one from another in 
the greatness of their love, and God gave Himself in different degrees 
to them, although each and all partook of His union. Thus were God's 
gifts granted to all the disciples, but not in equal distribution. The 
beloved disciple John, for example, inasmuch as he gazed more pro- 
foundly into the Godhead, was the more richly gifted. But we must 
remark that God is wholly free in .the granting of His favors, and 
bestows them just as He wills, and for no other reason than his Own will. 
And we must bear in mind, that God gave Himself personally to the 
disciples not only on Pentecost, but on many other occasions. For 
Richard of St. Victor and other teachers inform us, that as often as 
sanctifying grace is given us, so often is the person of the Holy Ghost 
imparted. Therefore they had received Him personally many times 
before, but they had not then been entirely detached from creaturs, nor 
had they received the fullness of His gifts. And in this sense it was that 
they received Him for the first time on Pentecost. 

The sixth drawing of the disciples into the Holy Ghost's high school, 
was a peculiar enlightenment of mind. By this grace the most secret 



356 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

meaning of holy scripture was imparted to them, and the truth of God 
was revealed nakedly to them, and that in a way wholly incompre- 
hensible to all the doctors in the schools. God's greatness was first 
presented to their souls, implanting deep within them the gift of filial 
fear, there to remain till the end of their lives. Besides this, they were 
taught a universal power to do good, joined to a deep insight into God's 
being — the gift of fortitude. In addition, they were shown how to keep 
not only God's commandments, but also how to observe the counsels of 
Christ — the gift of counsel. Joined to these was the gift of piety, the 
enjoyment of the sweet familiarity of sons with their father, in their 
union with God. To this, again, was added a penetrating knowledge of 
God's creatures and all their mutual distinctions, with power to detect 
the difference between God's supernatural light and that of our natural 
reason — the gift of science. God also taught them to compare their 
present spiritual state with former conditions, granting them thereby 
the gift of understanding. Finally He bestowed the gift of wisdom, 
and with it gave them a most precious union with Himself, and a man- 
ner of life altogether Divine. This was what God taught in His high 
school of the Holy Ghost, namely His seven spiritual gifts ; just as He 
teaches us in the school of nature His seven natural sciences, and in that 
of holy faith, the seven sacraments. 

You might enquire whether or not the disciples, being thus taught in 
the sublime school of the Holy Ghost, learned all the knowledge learned 
in natural and human schools. I answer ves, in so far as human art 
and science conduces to God's glory and to man's eternal welfare : they 
were taught it all, from the course of the stars down to the simplest 
knowledge. But otherwise not ; whatever does not benefit the soul they 
were not taught, nor did that leave them less happy, less perfect. Thus 
says St. Augustine: "How miserable is the man who knows all things 
and knows not God ; and how blessed is he who knows God, and knows 
nothing at all about anything else." Whosoever knows God and all 
things else, is not at all happier from knowing what is not God : God 
alone it is that makes him happy. May God help us to this happy state ; 
may He thus draw us to Himself, and thus cause His light of truth 
to shine in our interior souls. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 357 



Summing (&ab 

Synopsis — God is known by our resemblances to Him — These are in 
our virtues — And Be is known by contrast, when we consider our 
sins and our evil tendencies, which are directly contrary to Him — 
How our knowledge of God is increased by trials and contradic- 
tions, meekly born for His sake. 



FIRST SERMON FOR TRINITY SUNDAY. 

Amen, amen, I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what 
we have seen. — John iii, 11. 

Dear children, this is the happy day when we celebrate the glorious 
feast of the blessed Trinity. And you should know that all our other 
festivals are to be valued on account of what we commemorate today, 
just as the blossoms of a tree are esteemed for the sake of its fruit. I 
know not what words to choose to fitly show its greatness, for it sur- 
passes our power of expression, telling as it does of the reward of all our 
labors and giving them their perfect ending. As a seraph surpasses a 
beast in intelligence, so do the lessons of this day go beyond human 
reason. Therefore, St. Dionysius said : ''Whatsoever a man says about 
the holy Trinity seems to be empty of truth, even like to a lie, for no man 
can in the least degree understand this Divine mystery." How then can 
one discourse about it, without saying things which in one's ignorance 
are, as it were, untruths ? 

Dear children, foolish men talk of the holy Trinity as if they had pene- 
trated its mystery — a gift denied to all created beings. Let it be other- 
wise with you. Talk little of this sublime theme, as St. Paul admon- 
ishes us. Leave study of it and discourse about it to great doctors, who, 
however, can but stammer about it. Yet they must treat of it for the 
purposes of holy Church in refuting the errors of heretics. But such 
learned discoursing is not your privilege. 

In my text Christ says: ''We speak what we know, and we testify 
what we have seen." Applying this to the knowledge of the holy Trin- 
ity, dear children, then only Christ alone has seen it and known it. As 
to us here below, we can know nothing of it except through the witness- 



358 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

ing of our Lord Jesus Christ. And He is a witness in two ways, one by 
similarity, the other by difference or contrast, namely in His lower and 
in His higher powers. If we lack either of these witnessings of His, we 
shall fail to reach a true knowledge. These two ways are like two sis- 
ters inseparably joined in their lives. It is not as if the knowledge in 
the lower faculties goes in advance and that in the higher follows 
after, but they must work together, inseparably associated. By this 
means the mind finds itself made ready for the knowledge to be gained 
by contrast, on account of already possessing the knowledge gained by 
similarities; and then vice versa. It is thus, too, one gains joy by sor- 
row, sorrow by joy ; he gains honor by disgrace, comfort by misery. Dear 
children, these relationships cannot be achieved by the powers of our 
poor fallen nature, or in our outward life alone. But by the aid of 
Divine grace one may essentially reach the mutual effect of like upon 
unlike. 

But nature must suffer many a bitter death, death inward and out- 
ward, before the soul stands absolutely indifferent to joy or sorrow. 
Ah, what fervent thanks do we owe to God for these many deaths, by 
dying which we gain possession of a glorious and Divine life — if we 
would only realize the gift of God. Children, we should carefully watch 
our souls, and yearn and long for, and sincerely pray for this death, 
which grants us so perfect a life. For by its means the enlightened 
spirit is indifferent to pain or pleasure, truly balancing like and unlike, 
incapable of disturbance by any happening whatsoever; hate or love of 
men, consolation and misery, being to such a soul, one in no wise differ- 
ent from the other. 

We find many men. both of the clergy and the laity, who would gladly 
be perfect followers of Christ if all things were pleasant, if they met 
with no contradictions. But when opposition is met, inwardly or 
outwardly or from their fellow-men, then they turn off from God. And 
yet trouble would be much better for them, and more useful, than peace. 
Tribulation leads to the essence of truth and is its fruit, and peace is but 
its flower. Peace is serviceable to tribulation which it precedes, helping 
us to bear trouble. But only in the midst of tribulation is God born 
into our lives, all in a hidden manner. Hence must a man stand indif- 
ferent between the favorable and unfavorable circumstances of life. 
But alas, nowadays nobody wants to follow God on this road nor love 
Him in adversity — many would on this account almost hate Him and 
forsake Him. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 359 

These are by no means true witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ, for 
He is truly typified by that brazen serpent which Moses hung up before 
the people, and upon which all must gaze if they were to be restored 
to health. Let us always look earnestly upon this symbol, and bear true 
witness to Him in all poverty of spirit and boundless self-denial. We 
should suffer all trials and all opposition with burning zeal, whether 
they afflict our inner souls or oppress us from without, coming from the 
evil one, from our corrupt inclinations, or from our neighbor. 

And let me say in all truth, that if every trial were done and over, 
all contradictions passed and opposition overcome, then we should 
most earnestly invite them back again. For by suffering them again 
they might cleanse us from the rust that they had left after them. A 
true and enlightened man needs to suffer from the feelings and the ten- 
dencies to sin that lurk in his flesh and blood, in order to know himself 
thoroughly, and to hate his weakness and sinfulness. A great sinner, 
who stands amid his sinful inclinations, is sure to fall and is lost. A 
perfect man, on the contrary, struggling with his natural weakneses, is 
only made the purer, and from this painful conflict passes into eternal 
life. The bad man knows nothing of the steadfast resistance of virtue 
against vice, gladly if painfully maintained by a good man to the very 
end. 

And now, children, let me ask why there is such a difference between 
these two men. both whose souls are nevertheless occupied with the 
forms and images of sin. I answer that they have an essentially differ- 
ent way of acting. The devout man suffers these imaginations for 
God's sake — God is exclusively his thought and his support ; from God 
he accepts the sweet and bitter of life, giving himselt up to God wholly. 
The wicked man makes no account of God, and falls wilfully into sin ; 
he would do so without any temptation. No matter how God would treat 
him, he would never be content. If he had his way, his whole life would 
consist in having much of everything without price or labor, and this 
state of mind is in the end his death. Therefore, dear children, if you 
seek God purely, and love Him in all your ways, nothing whatsoever 
can hurt you — if all the devils in hell pour all their malice and unclean- 
ness through your soul and body and your flesh and blood, and if the 
wicked world joins all its baseness and filthiness to that flood of evil, 
as long as it all happens against your will, and if you had rather die than 
commit a single sin against God, then all this wickedness can do you not 
a hair's weight of harm, even though your temptation lasted ten years 



300 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

and longer. Nay, the very contrary. For this trial would undoubtedly 
merit a great reward, and would prepare your soul for incalculable 
good both here and hereafter. God works miracles in the life of such a 
man — a steadfast soul, that never falls away from the Divine friend- 
ship in word or work. 

Therefore the Son of God teaches us in the gospel : "Unless a man be 
born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the King- 
dom of God" (John iii, 5). By the word ghost or spirit one may mean 
the joys of life, and by the word water, its sorrows. The ugly external 
aspect of adversity disguises its noble interior advantages. Be assured, 
children, that whosoever will persevere in patient suffering, to him will 
be unveiled a clear view of the unspeakably precious qualities to be 
found in suffering. This revelation is to be gained only by one who 
accepts adversity with a loving spirit, loving, that is to say, to suffer 
pain more than to enjoy pleasure, yea, even in all things and under all 
circumstances. The clearer the value of afflictions is understood, the 
deeper is the inner joy found in outward suffering. To this was Lucifer 
wilfully blind — he would be established in joy without passing through 
sorrow. And therefore did he lose all joy and was buried in unspeakable 
and eternal sorrow. But the good angels, faithful and true, were will- 
ing to suffer the sorrowful trial God imposed on them, and forthwith 
they were absorbed in the unspeakable joy of God. 

Ah, children, how sweet is the fruit grown upon this soil — a spirit 
fully enlightened about adversity, and pervaded with Divine love. Such 
a man, entirely melted into God's will to receive all trials, is presently 
given a spiritual power far above his nature and rooted in the Divine 
life. He is cleansed from the imperfections of his inner and outer exist- 
ence ; he grows well accustomed to self-denial ; and he is finally absorbed 
most sweetly in the Divinity. When a man does his own utmost, reach 
ing the highest possible point of his striving, then does God's infinitude 
take up the work. In the innermost spirit of such a man the Divine 
light begins to gleam, and with it is imparted a supernatural force. 
Finally the soul is drawn out of itself into thoughts of God wholly 
beyond power of expression — a preparation on earth for the eternal hap- 
piness of Heaven. This is the work of God's power, a turning inward 
not to be told in words, not to be conceived in the mind. Although 
the soul is so far advanced beyond the previous time of suffering, yet 
that patient endurance has served to win it the grace of interior union. 
The steadfast uprightness of intention, the will all pliant to God's 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 361 

influence, the deep longings for God, all words and works offered for 
God, every pang of pain meekly borne for God's sake — this has all served 
to prepare the devout soul for the inward reception of God's heavenly 
visitation. 

Children, this turning toward God is not the gift of angels or saints, 
much less of any earthly benefactor, but comes forth direct from the 
deepest heart of God Himself; by Him granted, by Him to be perfected. 
Into the Divine obscurity the soul enters, to be there joined to God in a 
Divine stillness. And now all sense of what is pleasant or unpleasant 
in life is quite lost, nay the soul's very identity seems gone, and its 
knowledge of God is so elevated, that it seems as if it were not knowl- 
edge, but just a perfect union. 

You should know, children, that to find this happy lot, a man must 
die to all created things. Joy and sorrow, whether in body or mind, or 
in flesh and blood, must be indifferent to him. He must love God alone. 
He must diligently cultivate the interior virtues with a view to suffering 
gladly all adversity. He must behave himself very virtuously, be fond 
of a hidden life, never complain, never seek outward comfort — very dif- 
ferent from those who have made little progress in virtue, who know 
little of God in their interior souls. Really good men fly from all the mul- 
tiplicity of external human existence, are ever removing hindrances to 
virtue, offer up everything to God, and by this manner of life are brought 
to that blessed and ever-adorable Trinity of which I am wholly unworthy 
to speak, or even to have any knowledge. That such a grace may be 
granted to us, help us, O God the Father, and God the Son, and God the 
Holy Ghost. Amen. 



362 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



Sty? Srtnttg uxib tty SnUvwr £tfr 

Synopsis — Definitions of the Trinity — Inner perception of the mys- 
tery — Witness of a pagan writer — How a detached soul is taught 
the divine generation interiorly — And also tlie divine procession 
— The imparting of the gifts of the Holy Ghost in this experience 
— Practical suggestions. 



SECOND SERMON FOR TRINITY SUNDAY. 

• 

Amen, amen I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what 
we have seen, and you receive not our testimony. If I have spoken to you 
earthly things, and you believe not ; how will you believe if I shall speak to 
you heavenly things. — John iii : 11, 12. 

We read these words in the Gospel of this feast of the Holy 
Trinity, the most glorious feast of the year, the end and perfection of 
all others; just as the beginning and course and term of all creatures, 
especially reasonable creatures, is in God one and triune. We are at 
a loss for words to tell the glory of the Holy Trinity, and yet words 
must be used to endeavor to describe this overpowering mystery of 
the Godhead. To rightly discourse on this theme, is as impossible as 
to reach from earth to heaven; for as a needle point is compared to 
the bulk of the earth and sky, so, only a thousand times less, is all 
human speech and thought compared to the Trinity. 

It is beyond all comprehension how God, who is so simply one in 
His essence, is yet with this essential unity three fold in personality. 
And, again, the distinction of the persons: how the Father begets 
His Son, and how the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the 
Son, and yet remains in Himself, self-conscious ; how the Father utters 
His eternal Word, and from the knowledge going forth therefrom 
there proceeds an inexpressible love which is the Holy Ghost; how 
this outflowing is also in turn an inflowing into inexpressible perfec- 
tion of the deity's essential unity — all this is absolutely beyond our 
power to comprehend. So is the Father what the Son is and what the 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 363 

Holy Ghost is in power, wisdom and love; and the Son and the Holy 
Ghost with the Father are all one; and yet is there great distinction 
between the persons, though one in nature mutually and formlessly 
inflowing and outflowing. 

Many wondrous words may be uttered about this divine unity in 
distinction, but all must yet remain unspoken and uncomprehended, 
for it is better to feel this mystery than to speak of it. Nor is it 
pleasant to discourse about the Holy Trinity or even to listen to others 
discoursing, no matter from what source the words may be drawn, 
for every one is unequal to the task. The mystery is a strange thing 
to us and far removed from us, deeply hidden, incapable of under- 
standing even by the minds of angels. Men in high places must treat 
of it in order to defend it; let them do so, whilst we on our part shall 
be content to believe. St. Thomas says: "Let no man go beyond the 
teaching of the doctors of the Church ; these have been disciples of the 
Holy Trinity in their lives, and therefore has the Holy Spirit guided 
them in their teachings." To feel the Holy Trinity is the sweetest 
experience; to err concerning it, is the worst calamity. Therefore 
refrain from disputation and hold your faith in all simplicity, giving 
your souls up to God, longing to have Him born within your souls, not 
after the manner of human reason, but in the essential depths of your 
being. 

We shall experience the divine Trinity within us in proportion as 
we are conformed to it in all truth and reality. The resemblance to 
God is in our souls certainly by nature, though of course in no such 
noble manner as the resemblance of the divine persons one to another. 
Hence we need to cherish the determination to consider the divine image 

within us most attentively, the glory of which no man can rightly 
describe. For God is here formed in us in a formless way : truly is it 
formless, though spiritual writers often strive to picture this divine 
image to us by many forms and comparisons. All teachers say that 
He is in the highest faculties of our soul, memory, understanding and 
will, by means of which we are made rightly conscious of the Trinity. 
Yet all this is but in the lowest grade of perception of God's presence, 
for it is merely in the natural exercise of the soul's powers. St. 
Thomas gives us a plainer description : "The perfection of this divine 
image is rather in its operation in the soul and in the activity of its 
powers — the active memory, active understanding, active love." So 



364 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

far St. Thomas. Other doctors go much farther. They say it is in 
the most secret recesses of the soul that God is most essentially to 
be known, in which He acts, and exists, and enjoys His own divine 
life. And while that state continues a man can no more separate 
himself from God than from his own self. This union is rooted in the 
depths; and therein has the soul by grace a participation of all that 

God has by nature. As the soul yields itself to God, so is grace born 
in the highest degree within its interior life — there and in no other 
part. 

The pagan writer Proclus says: "As long as a man is concerned 
with images of things beneath him, so long is it impossible for him to 
fathom the depths of his being." It seems to some of us a sort of 
delusion that men should think there is such an inner depth to our 
soul. Wilt thou realize its actual existence? Then renounce all 
multiplicity and observe thy inner life intelligently. Wilt thou have 
a yet clearer knowledge? Then renounce even thy reason's observa- 
tion of the interior life — for reason's activitv is beneath thee — and 
become one with the One. The same Proclus considers this state as 
a silent, insensible, slumbering and divine perception. Children, how 
great a shame it is that this heathen philosopher attained to such 
knowledge, while we Christians are so far from it and are so unequal 
to acquiring it. But our Lord teaches: "The Kingdom of God is 
within you"(Luke xvii:21) — namely, in those interior depths, tran- 
scending all the operations of the mental faculties — there it is guaran- 
teed by God's grace. But we do not search it out, as this day's gospel 
tells us: "We speak what we know, and we testify what we have 
seen, and you receive not our testimony." Alas, how can a brutish, 

sensual man, ever absorbed in outward things, accept this testimony 
of an interior life wholly incredible to him. Thus spoke the Lord by 
His prophet: "As the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are My 
ways exalted above your ways and so are My thoughts above your 
thoughts" (Isaias lv:9). And thus our Savior reproached the Jews 
in this day's Gospel "If I have spoken to you earthly things, and you 
believe not; how will you believe if I shall speak to you heavenly 
things?" 

Formerly, children, I spoke to you of the wounds of love, and you 
told me that you did not know what I was saying — and that was a 
discourse about earthly things: how then can you now understand 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 365 

me, since our subject is the divine work in our interior soul? Your 
life is wholly given up to outward occupation, all absorbed in the 

activity of the senses, and this testimony of mine is not about that. 
Our testimony is truly found in the depths of the soul, all formless. 
There it is that the heavenly Father generates His only begotten Son 
swifter a thousand times than the twinkling of an eye. It is done 
in the swiftness of eternity, in an eternal newness of life, and in the 
unspeakable glory of the divinity. Whosoever would experience this, 
let him turn himself inward, abstract himself from all outward works, 
suspend the activity of his faculties, and exclude from his imagination 
all that it has drawn from the outer world. Then let him melt awav 
into the depths. And now the fatherly power of God will come and 
call the soul through His only begotten Son. And as the Son is 
begotten of the Father and returns again into the Father, so shall the 
soul of this man be born of the Father in the Son, return into the 
Father with the Son, and be made one with Him. It is thus that the 
Lord would have us call Him our Father, and never cease to follow 
after Him as He mounts upwards; as if to say: This day have I 
begotten thee by My Son and in My Son. And at the same time the 
Holy Ghost is poured into the inmost depths of the heart with un- 
speakable love and joy, bestowing His heavenly gifts of justice and 
of knowledge. 

A man then becomes most righteous and most gentle, and his knowl- 
edge of the path he must tread becomes entirely clear. But this 
supposes that all virtues have already been acquired, for the gifts now 
imparted lead the soul into a state of perfection beyond that of the 
ordinary virtues. Then follow the passive virtues which work 
together, namely, counsel and fortitude, to which are added the con- 
templative gifts. These are fear, which holds fast in all carefulness 
the graces granted by the Holy Ghost; and understanding and 
wisdom — the two highest — which give the taste of God's truth to the 
soul. Children, the enemy of mankind antagonizes a man of that 
kind more than all other men in the world. 

Especially is he combatted by the more subtle demons, and hence 
he is in special need of the gift of knowledge. 

Children, a moment of this divine influence is better for the soul 
than all the outward works a man can do. And the prayers of such a 
man united so deeply to God, when offered for his friends living and 



f 



360 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

dead, are of more avail than the reading of a hundred thousand 
psalters by an ordinary Christian. 

This is the true witnessing of the Holy Ghost within us that we 
are the Sons of God, as in this day's epistle it is spoken of. In this 
thy inner heaven there are three witnesses, the Father, the Word, and 
the Spirit, testifying to thee most truly that thou art God's child, 
and brightly illuminating thy soul's depths. This in turn reveals 
thy own self to thee with all thy defects in deed or omission, and that 
whether thou wiliest or not. All thy life is hereby manifested to 
thee if thou wilt but advert to it. If thou shalt heed this interior 
witnessing and be guided by it in thy outer and inner conduct, then 
shalt thou be exempt from the adverse testimony of the last day. If 
in word and work and life thou dost reject this hidden witnessing, 
then at the end of all it shall be thy condemnation, and thine the blame 
for it, not God's, for not God only but also thy own self shall be thy 
judge. 

Therefore, dear children, keep a watchful eye upon your interior 
life, recognize God's witness there, and it will be a joy to you. Hast 
thou overcome thy external weaknesses? Then hasten home to thy 
interior soul. There thou shalt find thy real self — there more than 
in thy outward life, or in thy outward methods and devotions. We 
read in the Lives of the Fathers of the Desert that once a devout 
married man retired into a forest to escape the obstacles to his per- 
fection, and that his wife in like manner went into a solitude. And 
soon this good man had two hundred brethren living under him and 
she had many women with her. This shows the value of single- 
minded and hidden retirement, a state of soul in which the senses with 
their methods are no longer in control. 

But you might say: I am a help to interior souls, and I would 
gladly aid all those who are touched interiorly by God and have seen 
the divine light. And I answer that whatsoever external minded 
person forces good souls to accept his rude external methods in place 
of the interior ones, subjects himself to a terrible condemnation, for 
he thus hinders God's work more than the pagans and Jews did of old. 
Therefore, ye hard and censorious spirits, take heed to yourselves, with 
your bitter words and your scornful manner, how you meddle with 
these good souls. 

And now, dear child, wouldst thou attain to the union of thy soul 
with the Holy Spirit, then must thou diligently do three things. One 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 367 

is to keep God and His honor in view in all that thou dost and in all 
that happens to thee, and make no account of thyself. The second is 
to hold a vigilant watch over thyself in all thy doings, keeping at home 
to thyself in thy thoughts, and recognizing thy utter nothingness; 
meanwhile cautiously observing thy surroundings. Thirdly, meddle 
not with what does not concern thee; what is not committed to thee, 
let it take care of itself — what is good, let it alone, what seems evil, 
trouble not thyself about it. Turn into thy interior life and therein 
abide, listening to the fatherly voice that there is calling to thee. If 
one were thus absorbed in the interior life, a great wealth of gifts 
would be bestowed on him, and he would be so enlightened that even 
priests would receive instruction from him. 

Dear child, if thou wouldst forget all that has so far been said to 
thee in this discourse, yet hold fast to two thoughts. One is that thou 
shouldst be a little, insignificant thing in thy own estimation, and not 
in words but in the deep sincerity of thy soul, not in outward show 
but in the very truth of thy conviction. The other is that thou 
shouldst love God; and this should be not in the way of sentiment and 
feeling so much as essentially, and in the deepest interior life of divine 
love. Nor should this be simply an advertence to God in thy outward 
conduct, as we commonly understand when we speak of good inten- 
tion. No, it is more than that. It is having God for one's end in one's 
very soul; just as a man racing towards a goal fixes his eye upon it; 
or one shooting at a mark never for an instant loses sight of it. That 
we may all obtain this interior spirit, that we may all totally annihi- 
late self and find instead the Holy Trinity within ourselves, we pray 
the same Holy Trinity graciously to grant us. Amen. 



368 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



(iDn iifllij (£nmmunum 



Synopsis — God's goodness slwion in the real presence — The process of 
assimilation "between God and man — The bitter taste and the 
sweet nourishment — The inner change from the human into the 
divine — Tlie good of frequent communion — Advice about prepara- 
tion. 



FIRST SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI. 

For My flesh is meat indeed. — John vi : 56. 

This is a most blessed day, on which we venerate the precious body 
of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although the Sacrament of the Altar is 
honored every day of the year, and has a special festival on Maunday 
Thursday, yet our holy mother, the Church, sets this day apart that 
we may do particular honor to our Lord in the blessed Sacrament, 
thereby renewing our devotion to Jesus really present with us. Thus 
has holy Church done her part ; and she has met with hearty response 
from her children, who honor our Lord in the blessed Sacrament by 
carrying Him in procession from one church to another, with splendid 
and costly ornaments, the sound of church bells and of organs and of 
loud musical chants. 

Children, all this is good, because it helps the interior praise of Christ 
in our souls — everything even the littlest may be made to serve that 
end. Let us gladly do reverence to God ever}' way we can think of — 
the humblest little earth worm, had it but the use of reason, would 
willingly lift up its head to God and then bow down in all reverence 
to Him. But as to man, he has a high degree of praise to offer, for he 
has the privilege to love and honor God out of the depths of a heart 
endowed with intelligence; and this far surpasses all that he can ever 
do without this in the external order of religion. 

And he can reach a yet higher grade of praise, namely, by having so 
full a knowledge of God's greatness and of his own littleness, that he 
feels that he cannot praise Him enough — a veneration of God exceed- 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 3<'<9 

ing all speech, song, memory and understanding. A certain master 
teaches, that the man who discourses most beautifully of God, is the 
one who from his knowledge of the interior riches of God, can be 
content to remain silent about Him. Once a certain doctor praised 
God with many words, and another doctor bade him hold his peace, 
saying: "Thou blasphemest God." And both were right. It is a 
wonderful thing, that the unspeakable Goodness is so great that no 
one can rightly praise it. Eight praise of God is infinitely beyond the 
two degrees we have mentioned, and exceeds all words and methods of 
veneration. Let a man be absorbed in God, blending selfhood into 
God, until in this man's soul it is God who praises Himself and 
returns thanks to Himself; and whosoever reaches this state, it can 
hardly be supposed that God will permit him to fall away from Him. 

Our Lord says : "My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink 
indeed," and He adds: "He that eatheth My flesh and drinketh My 
blood, abideth in Me and I in him." Behold our Lord's fathomless 
humility, in that He is silent about His infinite greatness, and speaks 
only of the least of His attributes. His greatness is His adorable 
Godhead, and yet he speaks only of His flesh and His blood. Yet in 
the Holy Communion His blessed soul and His divine nature are also 
present. His amazing and unspeakable love for us is shown in that 
He was not content to make Himself our brother and assume our poor 
human nature. No, He became man that man might become God — 
nay more: He insists that He shall become our food. Of this St. 
Augustine speaks: "No nation is. so great as the Christian people, 
nor any to whom God has come so close as to us: we feed upon our 
God." How wonderful a love is His, to invent this way of union. 
This love overwhelms us ; it should wound every heart of man with its 
overpowering greatness. No act in our material existence is so close 
to us, or enters so intimately into our bodily life, as eating and drink 
ing. And this is the reason why our Savior chose this marvellous 
way of being brought into the closest and most interior union with us,. 

Let us consider the processes of taking bodily food ; it may seem ai 
gross thing, but it serves to illustrate the Holy Communion. St. 
Bernard says: "When we eat this food, we ourselves are eaten." 
When we take food we first chew it, then it passes into the stomnch 
and is changed in the heat of our organs of digestion, which separate 
the coarser and useless portions from the good parts; sometimes oat 



370 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

of a whole pound of food only a small portion really serves for oar 
nourishment, and the rest is rejected, the good part passing througn 
three processes of digestion. When the bodily powers have done their 
work, a higher force comes from the soul, making flesh and blood, and 
distributes the food into the head and the heart and every member, 
filling the veins with blood. It is thus with us and our Lord's body and 
blood, only differently in this: whereas our bodily food is changed 
into ourselves, on the contrary when we receive our Lord's body and 
blood we are changed into Him. Thus did He say to St. Augustine: 
"I shall not be changed into thee, but thou shalt be changed into Me." 
Whosoever receives this divine food worthily, it penetrates the veins 
of his most interior existence. 

Let us explain St. Bernard's saying: "When we eat this food, we 
ourselves are eaten." For then God feasts upon us; as He enters He 
scourges us for our sins, which He > reveals plainly to us — His divine 
presence scourges our conscience. As one turns his food over aud 
over again in his mouth and continually bites it, so is a man cast back 
and forth under God's scourging, namely, in anguish, dread and sor- 
row about his sins. Dear child, gladly endure this biting of God's 
presence in thee, let Him eat thee and chew thee to pieces, seek not to 
escape His chastisement, and offer Him the deep sighs of thy heart : Oh, 
Lord, have mercy on me a poor sinner ; and meantime keep close within 
thyself. Be sure that all this is more for thy profit than much pious 
reading or praying if these should take thee out of thyself. But be 
on thy guard lest the evil one cunningly afflict thee with excessive 
sadness about thy sins ; for he would gladly sow in thy heart the seed 
of bitter sorrow. Our Lord sows the seed of a sorrow that is sweet 
and good. 

After the chastisement comes a gentle softening of one's soul, loving 
trust, divine confidence, holy hope: it is now that God is absorbing 
and, as it were, swallowing thee. And just as well-cooked food when 
it is chewed, softly and gently sinks into the stomach, so shall it be 
with thee in Communion when thy conscience has been prepared. But 
thou must give thyself up to our Lord with all trust, and then shalt 
thou be gently absorbed in Him. If we have followed St. Paul's 
directions about the Eucharist: "Let a man prove himself, and so let 
him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice" (I Cor. xi:28), then 
our Lord will consume us as we consume our food. This is done by 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor S71 

renouncing all our selfhood, and destroying out of our lives all attach- 
ment to created things. The more carefully food is masticated the 
more it becomes unlike its former self. Thou shalt find out if thou 
art absorbed into God as His food, if thou are so changed as to find 
nothing in thyself except Him, and findest thyself nowhere else but 
in Him. For does He not say : "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh 
My blood abideth in Me and I in him." Therefore must thou be 
stripped of thy old self, as it were, by the divine mastication of thy 
soul — just as thou dost change thy food by chewing it. If anything 
will be turned into what it is not, surely it must cease to be what it 
is — when wood is turned into fire it is perforce no longer wood. If 
thou shalt be changed, as it were, into God thou must cease to be 
thyself. 

Again, our Lord says: "He that eatheth Me, the same shall live by 
Me." Hence, if thou wouldst gain the life of Jesus, thou must receive 
the blessed Sacrament often, for thereby the old Adam within thee 
shall be wholly destroyed. As the forces of nature fill our veins with 
the strength that is in our food, making it one thing with ourselves, 
so shall the divine food entirely change thee into itself. Thou shalt 
know if this is done, if after receiving this Sacrament thou feelest 
thy heart wholly detached from whatever is not God. And this new 
life within thee will work outwardly and be manifested in thy conduct 
and actions and conversation. This adorable Sacrament separates 
all that is bad, profitless and superfluous, casting it all out of the soul ; 
and then God enters into all one's life, love, thought, intention, making 
all newer, cleaner and more divine. 

This Sacrament cures a man's inner blindness and gives him to 
know himself, teaching him how to turn away from self and all created 
things. Thus says the wise man : "With the bread of life and under- 
standing, she shall feed him" (Eccli. xv:3). This divine food so 
changes a man into itself, that his whole life is regulated by God. He 
is led by God, he is changed by God, through this food. Therefore, if 
a man goes to Communion and still remains empty of heart, vain and 
arrogant, his demeanor frivolous, if he be yet addicted to fine clothes, 
fond of amusements — if, I say, he wilfully adheres to these defects, 
then his going to Communion is a perilous thing. Better a thousand 
times that he stayed away. He goes to confession, indeed, but he does 
not give up the occasions of sin. Not the Pope himself can forgive the 



372 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

sins of an impenitent man; yet such a one goes to the altar along with 
the rest. 

Prudent confessors will tell each one how often he should receive 
Communion, some every week, others every month; and these should 
be able to spend a week before and after each Communion very piously. 
Yea, yea, and nay, nay, should be their guileless rule of life, besides 
much moderation at their morning and evening meals. Others, again, 
may receive Communion at the great festivals, and some at Easter. 
These will do little enough if they spend all Lent in preparation. And 
some, alas, should never approach the holy table as long as they have 
no grief for their sins nor any firm purpose of amendment of life — 
such a one would make himself guilty of the body and blood of our 
Lord Jesus Christ. 

Children, you know not how serious a matter this is, for some seem 
to think going to Communion a sort of recreation. But I assure you 
that it is a matter of life and death as to what diligence one exercises 
in preparing for this Sacrament. Any man who neglects the teaching 
of the Church's ministry in this matter of preparing for Communion, 
falls into a state of the greatest possible danger. There is a class, 
besides, who will go to Comunion weekly, often actuated by no spirit 
of devotion nor moved by any divine impulse, but rather out of mere 
custom, or because they see others going. No, no — let none yield 
to such a tendency. If, however, a man would approach the altar 
weekly out of gladness of heart towards God, and with reverent fear, 
and in order to strengthen his soul against damnation — by no means 
to put on airs of perfection — a man, in fact, who is of good life and 
carefully guarded against the occasions of sin, then let him do it, 
after obtaining the counsel of his father confessor. Let me tell you 
this : if I found a man who had been a vile sinner, and who now has 
given up his vices and turned to God with all his heart, I had rather 
give him Communion every day for half a year, than do so a single 
time to a half-hearted and lukewarm man. For 1 believe that thereby 
I should drive the world out of my poor penitent's heart. 

I have shown you the reasons why the holy Sacrament does these 
tepid men so little good — men who once had some trace of God in 
them, and who now after Communion remain cold-hearted. One rea- 
son is a secret sin, a deed of inner or outer wickedness. Perhaps it 
is the sin of unguarded speech. The harm thereby done is often 
incalculable — attend to that, for God's sake, or you will come to 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 373 

nothing. Another reason is going to Communion not out of real love 
but from custom. 

Now there are some customs that are really good, such as that of 
staying home in one's interior self after Communion, the lack of 
which does much harm, and hinders the realizing of the good effects 
of this heavenly food. The immediate fruits of Communion are per- 
ceptible for three or four days, if one will but advert devoutly to them. 
Dwelling with one's interior self sweetly and happily, one will not fail 
to experience them, no matter in what circumstances he may be placed 
or in what company, as long as he avoids as much as possible what 
hinders his soul's solitude. Be sure that if thou keepest faithfully to 
thyself, the holy Sacrament will keep thee company and work its way 
in thee, changing thee into a noble being. Any priest whatsoever will 
serve thee for receiving this Sacrament, and it may happen to be better 
for thee than for himself. And every time thou hearest mass thou 
shouldst cherish a longing for Communion, a practice which tends to 
train one's thoughts towards God. And may God grant us that we 
may all worthily receive this adorable Sacrament. Amen. 



374 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



SifljiflfitiumB fur If nig OJommmtum 

Synopsis — The four requisites according to St. Dionysius: freedom 
from sin, the virtues of Christ, devoted to divine things, and peace- 
fully disposed — How the onslaughts of Satan may oe made a help 
— And the persecutions of men — Preference of divine visitations 
over self-chosen austerities — Daily communion — Spiritual com- 
munion — The holy inner silence that should follow communion — 
How to use this Sacrament in periods of inner desolation. 



SECOND SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI. 

He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me and I In him. 
—John vi, 57. 

Dear children, rightly to praise the holy and adorable Sacrament is 
beyond the power of the tongnes and hearts of men, and yet to that 
end are our devotions now directed, for in it is concentrated all our 
joy, all our hopes of salvation. Let us avail ourselves of St. Bernard's 
words (although they may seem somewhat coarse to us), as, by com- 
parison with bodily food, he tells of the qualities of this heavenly 
nourishment — of the chewing and the swallowing, the digestion and 
the assimilating of the Son of God. Proud men and subtle minds may 
not be pleased with such figures of speech, but a humble spirit always 
loves simple ways of explaining divine things. Thus says our Lord: 
"I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou 
hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed 
them to little ones" (Matt. xi:25). 

Dear children, we must view this glorious gift of God with both 
enlightened reason and ardent love. How humble is our Lord, to thus 
give Himself to us under such lowly appearances as bread and wine, 
so that all may partake of Him just as they do of their ordinary food. 
This can mean nothing else than His purpose to press in so close to 
us, to sink so deep within us, to be so entirely made one with us as 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 375. 

possibly could be — made one with us with all His gifts and graces. 
He might, indeed, have chosen to come to us with greater outward 
splendor, as He does sometimes miraculously appear in Communion, 
according to St. Hildegrade. He was once seen by a sister of our 
order with her bodily eyes, lighting up priest and altar with indescrib- 
able splendor, surrounded by His glorious angels, whilst He imparted 
to her soul the most beautiful sentiments. But in this era of grace 
nothing is more precious to us than receiving this adorable Sacrament 
devoutly and humbly. Nor is there anything more frightful than 
Communion received unworthily or without preparation. Hence, 
says our beloved St. Dionysius: "Four things are necesary for receiv- 
ing the holy Sacrament : first, to be free from all sin ; second, to be 
clothed with the virtues of our Lord Jesus Christ ; third, to be eman- 
cipated from self and given over to God ; fourth, to be God's temple." 

As to being free from sin : that means clear knowledge of one's sins, 
then Sacramental confession of them and acceptance and performance 
of the penance imposed according to the rules of holy Church. After 
that let a man interiorly sigh for a perfect knowledge of his sinfulness, 
a spiritual exercise of far more benefit than vacantly reciting vocal 
prayers. In addition to this one must have a firm purpose of amend- 
ment, including a determination to avoid all occasions of sin in the 
future. These dispositions being posessed, one's soul is set free from 
sin. The second is to possess the virtues of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
namely, mildness, obedience, purity of intention, patience, gentleness 
and mercy, readiness to be silent, and love for all men, friends and 
enemies, good and bad, for the sake of God. The third is emancipa- 
tion from self and subjection to God. This means that having become 
possessed of the virtues of Christ, one cultivates peacefulness of soul 
in God's inner presence. Then it is that one experiences the meaning 
of our Lord's words: "He that eatheth My flesh and drinketh My 
blood abideth in Me and I in him." One should with carefulness 
preserve this peace, allowing himself never to be disturbed by any 
word or deed, for it must not be mistaken for any natural state of 
restfulness, but rather the inward peace that belongs to God's Spirit 
alone, extending to all sorrow and joy, all things natural and spiritual. 
For in so far as a man is in God truly, just bo securely is he placed in 
quietness of soul ; and in so far as he is out of God, so is he in unrest, 
And when he has thus entered essentially upon peace, he becomes the 
temple of God in very truth, for the abode of God is in peace. Thereby 



:',7(') The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

docs he attain to the fourth holy state spoken of by St. Dionysius, in 
which God inspires all this man's works, he being now only God's 
instrument for both his interior and exterior activity. 

Hut let us again consider St. Bernard's words about receiving our 
Lord in holy Communion: "As we have eaten Him, in like manner 
shall we be eaten by Him." Now by the word eating he means — as we 
have already said — the punishment and, as it were, the biting which 
the Lord inflicts on our conscience, and which He causes all created 
things to inflict upon it. Herein does a man find himself hunted like 
a wild animal that the emperor's huntsmen pursue, in order that their 
master can capture him. We know that the emperor is better pleased 
to have the animal resist so that the hounds shall bite and tear him, 
rather than if he meekly submitted. Dear children, the eternal God 
is the divine monarch who will possess Himself of our hunted souls, 
and, as it were, feed upon them. His dogs are the evil spirits, who 
pursue and bite the soul with many unclean temptations. Again they 
assail the soul with pride, avarice and various other evil suggestions; 
now from one side, again from another, striving to throw him into 
despondency and excessive sadness. I say to thee, stand thy ground. 
Nothing of this can hurt thee. If thou shalt ever succeed in the 
spiritual life thou must thus be hunted. 

But besides the evil spirits, this world and thy fellowmen will hunt 
thee with their injurious words and their false accusations. And yet 
further thy own imperfection, thy tendency to yield to corrupt nature, 
will assail thee. And thus is a man hunted and driven by everything 
that is bad, if he is ever going to acquire patience by true humility 
and mildness in all things of soul and body. Meanwhile he must culti- 
vate a merciful and forgiving feeling for those dreadful men who have 
thus persecuted him, scoffed at him, tortured him, despised him, and 
maligned him to others as a wicked man. Let him now cry out from 
a heart all full of love: O eternal. Lord and God of all creatures! Have 
pity upon them and upon me. Thus pray to God. Also be on thy 
guard by thy very soul lest thou endeavor to escape from thy trials — 
as if by running away from thy hunters across hedges and through the 
woods: our wild animal keeps to the straight, smooth road that lies 
before him, nor does he bite back at his hunters nor bellow at them. 

Now the heavenly Father has His hunting hounds everywhere — in 
convents and monasteries, in our homes and in cities, and in the 






of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 377 

forests; and you may be certain that all chosen friends of God are 
going to be sorely hunted by all created things. As the hart is driven 
by the hunters, tormented with thirst, so must thou be driven on till 
thou findest thy refuge in God. To make us thirst for God alone in 
time and in eternity — that is the divine purpose in allowing us men 
to be thus hunted, each one according to his special circumstances of 
life. Go forward, then, in all humility, patience and mildness, for 
without doubt thou shalt at last come to our Savior's sweet fountains, 
which will refresh thee beyond the power of words to describe. Once 
thou hast truly gained His refuge, thou shalt attain the highest perfec- 
tion, and then will How into thy spirit all those noble virtues of which 
we have already treated, humility, merciful sympathy, divine love 
for God and thy neighbor. 

Ah, dear children, how sad it is that the universal virtue of love of 
God is quenched out of the world, gone from all states of life. If we 
could find a man pursuing the course of divine love, we ought to revere 
him above all others, no matter what his condition in life. All crea- 
tures should do him service, for he has gained the eternal inheritance 
of the heavenly Father. And vet God sometimes withdraws His 
comfort from these elect souls, because He thereby advances them 
still further in virtue; they must yet again be willing to be hunted 
by all creatures, suffering in silence and in self-abnegation, com- 
plaining by no word or action. 

Such an immolation of the soul to God is more pleasing to Him, and 
is more valued by all choice spirits, than any kind of self-chosen 
means of perfection, such as fasting, vigils, reciting prayers — yea, or 
a thousand strokes of the discipline every day, although it all be done 
for God's sake. The reason is because the trials sent by God work 
their good effects in the inner depths of thy soul — and there it is that 
God must be united to thee in very truth. Stand this test bravely, 
and God will make thee worthy to partake of His heavenly nourish- 
ment in holy Communion as often as thy soul desirest, were it even as 
often as every day. For the High Priest of eternal truth would thus 
permit, since He has at heart in everything He does for thee thy wel- 
fare for time and for eternity. 

How perilous a thing for a man to approach this holy table unpre- 
pared and unworthy, especially if he be absorbed in the love of crea- 
tures living or dead, and unwilling freely to give them up for the love 
of God. How different is it with the soul that gladly gives up every 



378 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

creature of God for God's own sake, as far as he is conscious of loving 
them and realizes that God would wean him from them. Such a one, 
entirely resigned to God's chastening hand, wholly willing to be 
hunted by God and by all created things, is furnished with the great 
virtue of holy patience. If thou art such a one, then the oftener thou 
receivest Christ the better for thee. 

Art thou conscious that God's work of purification is increasing 
within thee, and that thy soul is being softened to its influences and 
humbled beneath God's hand in real detachment? Dost thou perceive 
an increase of the love of God in thee? Dost thou also perceive the 
lessening and the quenching of thy desires after earthly things, with an 
increase of childlike and reverent fear of God? Are these thy disposi- 
tions in very truth? Then the wide world does not possess a more 
profitable thing for thy soul than to receive the body and blood of our 
dear Lord Jesus Christ. Dost thou inquire how often? St. Ambrose, 
in commenting on the words, "Give us this day our daily bread," takes 
them to mean daily Communion. But where shall we find a priest so 
kind as to allow us to be daily communicants? But be not distressed 
if thy priest, dear child, shall refuse thee this privilege. Earnestly 
endeavor to maintain thy detachment of spirit, keep thy soul in quiet 
peace, fall back upon the thought of thy own nothingness, and mean- 
while do not doubt but that the Lord will grant thee in compensation 
spiritual gifts greater, perhaps, than those which thou wouldst have 
received in the holy Sacrament. Eat and drink of Him spiritually 
and in the Holy Ghost, for even then His words will be true: "He 
that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me and I in 
him." This kind of dwelling in Him is one of the degrees of holiness 
granted by this Sacrament. 

And there are yet two more degrees, both of them higher and more 
glorious than any we have yet spoken of. By one we receive graces 
of both knowledge and feeling, bestowing on us the emptying of self 
unto its annihilation. The other is feeling without knowledge, an 
oppression of spirit born of this annihilation; for in proportion as 
selfhood possesses us, just in that degree must our anguish be bitter 
and sore. 

Thus does St. Bernard teach us, when he says that we must be con- 
sumed as food by God in our process of detachment. For as food 
suffers a change into something not itself, so must we, if we would be 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 379 

truly united to God. All our preferences and our activities and our 
acquisitiveness and selfhood must be destroyed. Nothing less than 
this can happen to us, for two rival existences cannot be united into 
one, of that we may be sure. If heat enters in cold must go out. If 
God enters in all created life that is not sanctified must go out, and all 
created proprietorship. If God really acts in thee, thou must rest in 
a passive state, all thy powers being stripped of their own activity, 
their own initiative, placed in self-renunciation and, as it were 
resting in their own nothingness. The more perfect is that sense of 
thy own nothingness, the truer and the more essential is thy union 
with God. See the annihilation of self that happened to the adorable 
soul of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ. If it were possible (as it is 
not) that any man could show the same in his soul, his union with God 
would be the same. 

If God shall truly speak within thy soul, then all thy soul's powers 
must sit in silence. This is not a case of doing but of undoing. If 
bodily food shall be changed into the natural man, it must be first 
annihilated out of its own self and be made totally unlike itself, as if 
it had never been the food that once it was. If this be true of the food 
of our natural life, it is a thousand times more true of the food of 
our spiritual life. But, dear children, I must tell you that hurt is 
herein done by the interference of the human reason, which too often 
insists on having a share in this divine work, wanting to know all 
about it, and refusing to be willingly undone by God. Be on your 
guard against this ; I warn you for God's sake and for the sake of your 
eternal welfare. And if frequently receiving the holy Sacrament be 
an aid to thee in yielding willingly to God, thou mayst receive it, even 
two or three times a week. But do not run to it over eagerly, espe- 
cially when thou art conscious that God is interiorly leading thee to 
the degree of self-renunciation proper for the best effects of Com- 
munion. 

Dear child, thou must know that a soul so placed feels an intolerable 
inward woe in its self -destitution, so that the whole earth seems too 
narrow for it, until it is at loss to know what ails it, so bitter is the 
oppression upon it, for God seems gone from it never to return. It 
is all caused by the self -surrender to God: it is a dreadful thing to 
wish not to die and yet be compelled truly to die to oneself. In this 
state St. Paul's words about the holy Sacrament are applicable to 



380 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

the soul itself: "As often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the 
chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord until He come" (I Cor. 
xi: 26). This showing of the Lord's death is not simply in words tell- 
ing of the actual fact of His decease — that is no difficult thing. No; 
it is rather to show the Lord's death in the dying of the soul to itself 
by the power of His death. And this is hindered by three things, all 
of which thou must overcome. One is clinging too selfishly to the 
adorable Sacrament; the second, clinging in the same spirit to God's 
word ; and the third, over-attachment to thy own chosen devotional 
practices. For in truth everything that might be a help to thee in 
ordinary circumstances may during this trial be turned into a 
hindrance. Ah, dear child, if in this thy time of anguish thou wouldst 
but make up thy mind willingly to suffer, and positively resist the 
tendency to break away from the visitation of God, that would avail 
thee more than all that thou couldst possibly do. And that is just the 
trouble; for many a one runs about from one counsellor to another, 
vainly seeking comfort, and therefore remains uncomforted by the 
eternal truth. Stand fast and be patient, and the very essence of that 
eternal truth will be born within thee. 

One cannot express the harm that is done souls by yielding to 
nature's weakness, and seeking, while in this process of purification, to 
be relieved from the inner distress that accompanies it. Reason rises 
up within thee and demands an object for its activity ; and it says to 
thee: Alas, what art thou about? Hast thou no end in life? Thou 
art neglecting thyself in everything. And then thou fanciest that 
thou must say prayers ; and forthwith the evil spirit says : What art 
thou doing here? Thou art wasting thy time; thou shouldst be en- 
gaged in some good work ; get up at once and set to work. After that 
come rude men with their favorite pious devices, and these say to thee : 
My dear man, what art thou about? Thou shouldst go to Church 
and listen to God's word. Now let me remind thee that all these are 
God's hunting dogs, and thou thyself art a hunting dog teasing and 
barking at thyself along with them, and saying to thyself: What ails 
thee to be wandering about this way? — thou shouldst receive the holy 
Communion. 

Now children, while one is thus interiorly tried he should not ex- 
pect to be relieved by the holy Sacrament. If thou earnest to me for 
advice about going to Communion while thus suffering, I should cross- 
question thee to discover whether it were God moving thee thereto, or 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 381 

only an impulse of nature, or the force of pious custom. If nature or 
custom guided thee, then I would refuse to allow thee to receive Com- 
munion, unless, indeed, thou wert reduced to a state of misery simply 
unbearable. Then, indeed, once or twice a week thou mightst receive 
Communion; but not to relieve thee of thy distress — rather to 
strengthen thee in bearing it. 

God's generation within thee shall never take place — be sure of 
that — until thou hast passed through this agony. Whatever gives 
thee relief, that same and not God is born in thee. Be sure that thy 
distressed nature had rather journey to Kome than patiently suffer 
this trial to the bitter end — a trial of far greater advantage than any 
other possible gift; for it is better to suffer than to labor. And some- 
times this poor man calls to mind his former sweetness of devotion at 
Communion and while hearing the word of God, and afflicted nature 
would gladly enjoy that comfort again. But it has been withdrawn, 
and to that withdrawal the soul must submit in its inmost depths r 
in misery, in death — yea, a death more bitter to nature than any other 
death. 

But, dear children, thou must not misunderstand me, as if I had 
forbidden thee the Sacrament and the word of God. Thou art aware 
that in the first two degrees nothing is more profitable to a blessed,. 
a divine life than Communion and sermons — these stand above all else. 
Only this : in the present degree of God's dealing with the soul, every- 
thing that ordinarily helps the soul is liable to become a hindrance. 
For in seeking help the soul, as it were, turns its back on God and 
seems to say to Him : I will not go by Thy guidance, but I will go by 
my own — and that is to our Lord as if He were crucified again ; for His 
adorable will cannot now be effectuated in that soul. Alas, that this 
incalculable benefit should be lost to that soul, simply because it will 
not yield itself up to suffer the want of all comfort in body and in 
spirit. 

And now let us consider these words of St. Bernard : "I am eaten by 
God when I am transformed by Him ; I am made one with Him when I 
am conformed to Him." And we exclaim: O blessed Father, when 
shall this sorowful state of soul have an end?— with all its undoing. 
and anguish, and pain. But O how noble an end that shall be, when 
at last the soul is made over again and new-formed in God, united 
to God. St. Paul teaches us this, having himself learned it in the 
school of God, in the third heaven: "But we all, beholding the glory of 



382 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from 
glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Cor. iii: 18). Therein 
does God's Spirit draw a man into Himself, changing him into Him- 
self. We have already recalled that St. Augustine heard God speaking 
to him: "Thou shalt be changed into Me, not I into thee." As to 
how this change takes place the man himself is made aware, but not 
by any manifold way of knowing, but rather in a very simple way, 
beyond words to describe. 

You should also know that there are men who are only in the first 
degree of those who follow devout practices, and to whom, neverthe- 
less, the new forming of soul is granted. It comes as in a flash of 
supernatural light, sometimes once or twice a week. It is granted 
wholly according to God's merciful will, for it is something that can- 
not be merited. Sometimes it comes with clear knowledge, at other 
times without knowledge and in darkness. Such a man is left in a 
state of soul all wounded by love. But those of whom we treated 
above are fettered by love, being conformed to love and drawn into it, 
and one can better feel this condition than describe it. This class 
is made up of men wholly self-abandoned, perfectly well ordered — far 
beyond spiritual men who lack this divinely established degree of 
holiness. May God prepare us all for this detachment of spirit. May 
God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost perfect His great 
work within us, removing all hindrances. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 385 



Slip Digntig anb Uxirtb of ijnlij (Enmrnumon 

Synopsis — Difficulty of explaining so divine a gift — It is known only 
to very detached spirits — Various comparisons to help understand 
this — The elimination of defectiveness natural and acquired — 
Heretical exaggerations — Delusions of certain imperfect communi- 
cants — Marvellous results of careful preparation for communion — 
Daily communion according to St. Augustine — Striking comment 
on a passage from St. Thomas. 



THIED SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI. 

He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life, and I 
will raise him up in the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood 
is drink indeed. — John vi : 55,56. 

The more a man receives from God the more is he a debtor; the 
greater is his debt of thanks and praise, honor and service to God. All 
devout practises lead to God and prepare the way for Him, so that a 
man may at last come to God and be in Him. and herein is the holy 
Sacrament both the end and the reward, for it gives us God without 
intermediary. It unites a man to God directly, in simple unity — the 
most adorable and superessentially divine of all gifts, far surpassing all 
others. The celebration of Holy Thursday is, therefore, not enough for 
us, for Easter Sunday comes too soon afterwards. Hence has holy 
Church remedied this difficulty by calling us to celebrate this festival 
of Corpus Christi with all possible thankfulness, praise and love. 

"My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed." If under- 
stood as an outward ceremony, this Sacrament is but drinking and 
eating wine and bread; and thus one knows nothing of the unspeakable 
sweetness, the heavenly fruit, hidden in the Sacrament. The food of 
our bodies is dead matter, and gets its life from the man who eats it, 
who thereby gives it a noble destiny. But this sacramental food is 
living bread; it is the very essence of life, and all who are fed by it 
receive from it everlasting life — as our Lord teaches : "He that eateth 



384 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life." And as He 
spoke these words, many of His friends went away from Him; they 
did not understand what He meant. "This saying is hard, and who can 
bear it," they said. They understood Him only in the outward way 
of the senses, and that was why they left Him, whereas in truth this 
gift is far above the senses, for the food that is given and the giver 
of the food are one. 

Three things may here be considered. One is the pre-eminent dignity 
of this food; the second, its inestimable worth to all who worthily 
receive it; the third has reference to the preparation one should make 
for this divine banquet. Now in speaking of all this, as God's grace 
guides me, I am at a loss for words, or even thoughts ; for this marvel- 
ous Sacrament surpasses all grasp of human reason, aye even angelic 
thoughts. Dear children, only a perfectly detached man, one given 
over wholly to the interior life, can rightly understand and inwardly 
taste the meaning of the holy Sacrament. But even he could not frame 
right words for its description, for sense and reason are wholly at 
fault in its contemplation. And yet, alas, we find not a few seemingly 
spiritual persons, who, from childhood to old age, rest in themselves; 
they are engaged in multiform religious activity, and yet know nothing 
of the real nature of this precious treasure, never enjoy the real taste 
of this holy food, however often they may partake of it. It can not 
be otherwise with them, because they receive the Sacrament absorbed 
in the life of the outward senses. 

Whosoever would know the dignity of this marvelous banquet, must 
be a man detached and set free from created things, and given up to 
the interior life. But this must not be misunderstood. I do not mean 
that one must literally separate himself from his state of life in order 
rightly to communicate, nor adopt any peculiar ways and customs. 
Some think that when they cannot do the like of that they must give 
over, and therefore they turn away from Communion. Do not thou 
act thus, dear child; do not imagine that this supreme good of our 
life cannot be fully thine, because thou livest in a secular state of 
life. Only be earnest, only be diligent and thou shalt possess God in 
this Sacrament without at all interfering with the duties and cus- 
toms of thy state of life. Thou must, indeed, acquire a true knowledge 
of thyself; thou must keep a strong guard over multiplicity in all 
thy doings, methods, devotions, for these should be mainly engaged 
with the interior life. Seek God earnestly in thy souFs depths; for 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 3S5 

this end leave on one side, as far as possible, certain very external 
devout practices, gathering together inwardly thy outer senses and 
thy soul's powers, all deep sunken in the soul. 

Children, for me rightly to speak of and you rightly to understand 
the dignity of this Sacrament is not possible. We could not under- 
stand the dignity of Adam as he stood in Paradise, even while as yet 
unendowed with grace, but only full of the sweetness and beauty of 
guileness nature. How then can our poor little minds comprehend 
what takes place in the inmost depths of the soul, as it becomes united 
to this living food, changing man into its divine self. The human soul 
becomes like a drop of water lost and mingled in a cask of wine; like 
a pane of glass with the sunshine pouring through it; like the body 
united to the soul and made into one man, one being with it. 

By this union our spirit is elevated above all its natural weakness 
and is cleansed and illuminated. It is raised above its natural forces. 
It is penetrated with God. It is led away from itself in a divine man- 
ner, and experiences within itself the divine generation, losing mean- 
while its native incompatibility with God; and it is brought to 
divine unity. Compare this union to that of fire and wood. First the 
dampness and greenness is consumed, and gradually the wood grows 
hotter and hotter till it is made like unto fire; as the fire approaches 
nearer and nearer so does the resemblance increase, until in one short 
hour the fire has absorbed the substance of the wood. The difference 
between the fire and the wood is gone, for the wood has become fire — 
the two are not simply alike, they are the same thing. So does this 
spiritual food draw out of the soul and consume all difference, chang- 
ing difference into resemblance, and changing resemblance into unity. 
That happens to an enlightened spirit, losing likeness and difference in 
unity with God. The fire of divine love has absorbed all the soul's 
foulness, all its unresemblance to God. In partaking of this food the 
soul is absorbed and lost in the Godhead. It is as St. Augustine 
heard our blessed Lord say: "I am the food of the full-grown; purify 
thyself and eat Me; thou shalt not change Me into Thee, but thou shalt 
be changed into Me." 

O children, before this shall happen nature must die many a death. 
By many a wild and desert way does God lead the soul as He teaches 
it to die. But, O children, what a noble life is born of this death — 
noble and joyous and fruitful. O how precious a thing it is to be able 
thus to die. You know well enough how our bodily food must die to 



386 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

itself and be undone before it is absorbed into our nature and united 
to us, undergoing, so to speak, many a death in the process, ere it en tern 
our vitals and receives a new existence, entering into our heart and 
liver and the organs of the senses, into close union even with the 
reason in the brain. At the end it is so unlike its former self that the 
sharpest eye could not perceive any resemblance, nor could the sub- 
tlest mind detect it. We know it to be the same food in substance, 
but we cannot perceive it to be so with our senses. Much less can we 
understand how in this Sacrament our soul is unmade and then 
remade and absorbed into divine union, itself being lost so entirely 
as to escape our power of understanding it. 

Foolish men understand this in a fleshly way, affirming that they 
are changed into divine nature; and that is a heresy, false and wicked. 
For after the very highest union of our soul with God, closest and 
most intimate, the divine nature and essence is removed to a height 
far beyond us, higher than all height. That is a divine eminence unto 
which no creature can ever, attain. Let us not be too curious about the 
union of the soul with God in the holy Sacrament. Even the marvel- 
lous change of bodily food into our physical system is beyond the keen- 
est search of our mind, so noble is human nature. And wilt thou 
intrude upon the hidden ways and deepest mysteries of the union of 
the Sacrament with a holy soul, superior as this is to its dull and cum- 
bersome body? That union is a fathomless mystery. Give up thy 
disputations about it, for it is removed far from thy reach, being 
hidden in the depths of the illuminated soul and in God. 

It happens to some, that if they experience the sweetness of devotion 
two or three times a day at their prayers, they are sure that all goes 
well with them. No, children, no — they are immeasurably far from 
what they fancy. We are all too ready to involve our souls in the 
excessive sweetness of the grosser kinds of spiritual joy, and that is 
evil in God's sight. He is not pleased that we should be content with 
the trifles of the spiritual life. Nothing is so pleasing to God as to 
give us His own very self, and that in the best and highest way. 
Therefore we should go forward beyond every gift. We should strive 
right onward with all our senses, powers, longings — with all our 
heart — directly to God Himself. We should be content with nothing 
less than God, and not simply in sensible mental forms, but in a way 
that is supernatural. This leads us into the divine depths, for one 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 387 

can never attain to so deep a place in God bnt that a deeper depth 
opens out before him. 

children, many men do themselves incalculable hurt by tarrying 
amid their senses' life and in prayer using only the lowest faculties 
of their souls. Nothing, therefore, comes of their spirituality; any 
more than bodily food helps head and heart and bodily members when 
it lodges undigested in the stomach. The food must change its nature 
or no good comes of it. We shall never secure the real good of this 
blessed food, to eat which God has invited us, until our whole interior 
life, with its powers highest and lowest, shall be conformed to God and 
delivered over to Him, far beyond natural effort, with single-hearted 
faith living in good works, and full of the practice of virtue. 

For our faith must not be a mere pretence, but must be shown forth 
in our life. And when God sees that a man can do no more, then He 
Himself comes and works in a hidden way that nature knows nothing 
of, leading the soul beyond and above its natural ways. These aids 
of God are his who aproaches the adorable Sacrament best prepared, 
and with the most devout sentiments. To such a one God truly gives 
Himself in a personal manner and esentially. All who long with lov- 
ing hearts to attain the highest perfection, should keep themselves 
well disposed often to partake of this living bread. Whosoever feels 
within himself an increase of divine love, nor yields to any disregard 
or belittling of spiritual things, the oftener such a one communicates 
the more profitable it is. St. Augustine plainly shows this. "Whoso- 
ever feels the love of God growing within him, and at special times 
knows himself to be not unworthy to receive the Sacrament, why 
should he not be made worthy to receive it every day?" Worthiness 
does not ever come from human effort or deserving, but purely from 
the grace and merits of our Lord Jesus Christ flowing from God into 
our souls. And if this happens once a year, or monthly or weekly, 
why shall it not happen daily, as long as a man yearns for it, and does 
his part to obtain it? 

1 knew of no shorter or surer way than this for an interior man to 
attain his best spiritual state. I make bold to counsel all my friends, 
that if God's fear does not lessen within them, and if God's love grows 
within them, then let them come often to Communion. Nothing pre- 
pares fuel for the fire so well as to bring it close up to the fire. Wet- 
ness and hardness gradually yield to the heat as the closeness of 



388 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

contact continues, until at last the fuel is like the fire, and then it is 
actually turned into fire — all in proportion as the fuel is apt and pre- 
pared. No man is so soaked with sin, so hard and perverse, so inclined 
to the wickedness of the world or of creatures, but that this fire will 
communicate its heat to him, melt his stony heart, and make him a 
godly man — supposing he receives Communion with true devotion, 
does all his part in preparation, and will keep his place close to the 
divine warmth. 

And as to preparation, none is better than what God Himself gives. 
Suppose that to-morrow is to be some high festival ; how better can I 
prepare to celebrate it than to receive to-day, with all devotion, the 
eternal and all-merciful God in holy Communion? How better can I 
honor God than by offering God His own very self? How better can 
I give a new life to my imperfect and un spiritual nature, how better 
baptize anew, as it were, my old corrupt nature, than to receive God's 
true and only Son, His living divine flesh, His all cleansing blood, His 
Holy Spirit, His all-loving heart and His sweet human nature, even 
the Holy Trinity itself, and all that God is and has and may do? 
How can God refuse the least to one to whom He has promised to give 
the greatest? What gift is too great for Him to give who has given 
Himself wholly, and yet wills to give Himself again. God's purpose is 
not gained by the mere outward granting of the Sacrament. But 
rather in that He shall be with this child of the human race according 
to His word: "My delights are to be with the children of men" (Prov. 
viii: 31). And by this is meant men of loving hearts and souls. All 
this have I spoken to you by the grace of God ; but what follows is the 
best that I have found in the writings of the masters. 

St. Thomas says: "All the graces which our Savior Jesus Christ in 
His humanity brought to the whole world, these brings He to each par- 
ticular man with His holy body and blood. And He grants all the 
fruit of His death, resurrection and ascension, together with the glory 
and blessedness of His holy body and blood, soul and divinity." St. 
Thomas thus embraces in his teaching about holy Communion the 
granting of every grace that one may imagine. Take a commonplace 
comparison, for worldly-minded men view things only after the man- 
ner of the senses. Suppose a mighty monarch to whom belonged all 
the riches, dominion, beauty and pleasures of all mankind taken 
together, his every heart's desire gratified perfectly; suppose him to 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 383 

take a man who was the outcast of the human race, covered with the 
scabs of leprosy, offensive with foulest odors, blind and crippled, and 
to join him to himself, and that he should make the union absolute, 
so that he poured into this miserable man his own glorious heart, head, 
hands, feet and whole being, inner and outer, poured himself thus 
wholly into this man's body, so that the body and the members that 
were the monarch's have now become the unfortunate man's own body 
and members: — would not this be a great and marvelous act of love? 
But a thousand times greater, incomprehensibly greater, is the loving 
union that God gives us in the holy Sacrament. And now it remains 
for us to discourse of the fruit of this holy Sacrament. That we may 
well succeed in that task, let us beg our beloved Lord to remedy our 
deficiencies by His blessed grace. Amen. 



390 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 



®lj? Jrutt of ISfolg damnumum 

Synopsis — The purification of the heart and life of the worthy re- 
cipient — Grades of worthiness — Advantages of spiritual commun- 
ion to highly devout souls — Venial sins: the many hindrance* 
they place in the way of the fruitfulness of communion — A dis- 
quisition on venial sins, deliberate and indeliberate, with special 
reference to communion — Interior spiritual self-indulgence is the 
fault of spiritual men — God's painful way of curing this fault — 
Effect of communion in relieving souls in purgatory. 



FOURTH SERMON FOR THE FEAST OF CORPUS CHRISTI. 

For My flesh is meat Indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. — John vi, 56. 

Yesterday I spoke of the dignity of the holy Sacrament (though, 
indeed, no one can worthily do so) ; of its benefits; and finally of the 
preparation we should make to receive it. If this be too high for us, 
yet the words of St. Thomas, which I quoted, in some measure aid us — 
that all the glory, grace and happiness that our Lord Jesus Christ 
brought to the world with His humanity, living, suffering, dead, risen 
again and ascending into heaven, that all of this He bestows on every 
single man with His holy body and blood. There is no imaginable 
grace not embraced in this divine gift. Think as deep or as high or aa 
interiorly as thou mayst in thy devotions, whatever thou framest by thy 
own powers is all nothing compared to the holy Sacrament. Other 
devotions may be indeed divine, but this one is the divinity itself. 
Here the illuminated man is changed into God, as St. Augustine was 
taught by our Lord: "Not I into thee, but thou into Me." 

What is thy pious purpose? Wilt thorn overcome thy failings, win 
grace, acquire virtue, consolation, love? Thou shalt find all here, if 
thou seekest rightly. If a man had lived a hundred years, and had 
committed a hundred mortal sins every day, and if God should but 
give him a true conversion from sin, and if with that disposition he 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 391 

should go to holy Communion, then it would he hut a little thing for 
our Lord to forgive him all his sins in the twinkling of an eye with 
this blessed gift of the Sacrament — as easy as to blow a grain of dust 
from off His hand. Yes, and the conversion thus wrought could be 
so efficacious that every penalty and penance due to the man's sins 
should be at once remitted, and he should be made entirely holy. 

In the city of Cologne there is a good custom of receiving the 
blessed Sacrament quite often, but it is done with much difference of 
dispositions. Some receive it sacramentally, indeed, but not spirit- 
ually nor happily, and these do so in a state of mortal sin, as did 
Judas. Others receive it both sacramentally and spiritually in their 
souls, and yet gain little comfort, grace or fruit, for they are stained 
with many venial sins, and communicate without preparation and in- 
devoutly. A third class receive it with great and holy fruit and 
incalculable advantage to their souls. A fourth class receive it spir- 
itually without actual sacramental communion — good and clean 
hearted souls full of holy desires for Communion, more so, perhaps, 
than those who receive sacramentally. One may do that a hundred 
times a day, if he is a good man, and in any place, be he sick or well, 
whereas once a day is all he could receive it sacramentally. This 
spiritual Communion, if made with deep desire, secures incalculable 
fruit of divine grace. Many a man, receiving this Sacrament in his 
soul, will enjoy it in life eternal — supposing him to be free from grave 
sin. But not so if the priceless treasures of holy Communion are to 
him not in the depths of his soul, but are matters of outward observ- 
ance, his life meanwhile being lukewarm, being full of venial sins, 
and graceless. Then is the soul cold and barren and grace inoperative, 
on account of these hindrances. 

What then are the hindrances which do men such a harm, prevent- 
ing this treasury of the riches of earth and heaven from benefiting 
them? — a misery that we daily behold around us. Mark well that it 
is all venial sin daily committed. This it is that cools the warmth of 
love, dissipates the heart's affections, lessens devotion, expels the 
consolation of the Holy Ghost, and makes God a strange thing to the 
soul. Venial sins do not destroy the grace of God, but this harm they 
do: they lay the soul open to dangerous occasions of losing His grace 
and to perilous tendencies to mortal sin. And these sins are of two 
kinds. 



392 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

One kind of venial sin is obstinate and continued yielding to affec- 
tion for created things — affection that has not God for its motive. 
Love for creatures for their own sake, satisfaction in their possession 
and joy in them, hinder the effects of Communion. Children, all sensi- 
ble pleasures in created things enjoyed wholly apart from God are 
venial sins ; and these sometimes are so gross that ten years and more 
of the fires of purgatory will not atone for them, if one dies without 
having done proper penance. Of course this means that such affection 
for creatures is for their own sakes, whereby they usurp the place of 
God in our heart, hindering His supremacy and His action there. 
Hence the need of closely observing our interior life, marking all dis- 
orderly inclinations and joys, watching our self-satisfaction in what 
we have or what we do. 

Ah, children, how sad a state of transgression is this. And how 
commonly do we meet men in all states of life, eagerly gathering 
together all they can of this world's goods, going beyond all meas- 
ure. No one has enough, everyone is planning to get more. They 
build great houses, adorn them foolishly and furnish them with rare 
things, consulting only their worldly taste, amassing silver table serv- 
ice, rich bodily ornaments, and then luxuriously feasting. Pleasure is 
their universal aim, and venial sins are their regular habit. Their 
only pain is that they have so little of what they covet. They run 
after company and recreations and all sorts of frivolity, neither seek- 
ing God nor thinking of Him, and of course never finding Him. Ah, 
children, how close are these to mortal sin and its pitiable ruin. Ere 
they think of it they fall into it and are sunk into its depths. 

Venial sins, therefore, dear children, are the standard obstacles that 
prevent men from receivng the graces of the body and blood of our 
Lord Jesus Christ. Yet amid all this each one has his own particular 
devotions, meantime refusing to give up his dangerous practices. In 
Communion they feel neither God's presence nor enjoy His consolation. 
They leave that on one side, clinging to their own consolation, namely, 
the love of the creature. And yet sometimes they spend forty of fifty 
years with a show of spirituality. They do not realize what their 
state is, but it is a serious question as to whether or not they are 
saved; for to the very end their hearts are entangled with created 
things. And they are full of excuses: I must have such and such a 
thing, they say; or, that will do me no harm; and again: this is not 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 393 

sinful. They thus create their own hindrances to grace, until the 
evil goes so far that they have no conscience left about it. These pow- 
erful obstacles are built up like a wall against the action of God upon 
the soul. And yet the soul is often unconscious of them. Such a 
soul may do what it pleases to better its condition : so long as it is 
filled with the love of created things, so long does God turn away 
from it. 

Besides this first kind of obstacles, namely, wilful venial sins, there 
is the other kind yet to consider. These are venial sins of weakness. 
There are men who are by no means enslaved by love of created 
things, who are ever ready to renounce what they are made aware is 
not according to God, whether it be affection for friends or for the 
goods of this life, and who are nevertheless not careful enough. They 
are not sufficiently guarded against their natural weaknesses. They 
do not readily enough repress anger, or it may be pride, sloth, frivol- 
ous talk. Nor do they search earnestly after the causes of these 
defects, such as excessive talk, excessive mirth, lack of restraint of 
appetite at table, too great absorption in wordly occupations. If such 
venial sins are due to ill health, or happen in moments of forgetfulness, 
the obstacle to grace is less serious than when they are more deliberate. 

If these faults occur the day itself of Communion or the day before, 
the harm is all the greater, hindering union with God, distracting the 
mind, weakening confidence, making the soul unresponsive to the 
light and the sweetness of the Sacrament. If the faults were done 
yesterday and without wilfulness, and I sincerely deplore them to-day 
at my Communion, they do not hurt me so much as if they happened 
to-day, for the bitterness of my sorrow cleanses off the rust of my 
transgressions, at least in great part. It is different when one frivol- 
ously yields to distractions the very day of Communion, chats and 
gossips freely, is over occupied with secular affairs; this adds obstacle 
to obstacle and is a serious harm. But yet in such a case one should 
not omit his Communion, for he does not sin in receiving, and his 
weakness is a matter of regret to him. 

Nature, again, puts an obstacle to grace by yielding to excessive 
sleep or eating. One should hardly eat a mouthful without question- 
ing his soul about excess. Children, the soul into which God shall 
enter by holy Communion must be entirely detached, or the divine 
influence, the divine generosity, is hindered in its secret work. 



394 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

But if honest self-denying men are dull and sleepy against their will, 
nature demanding much more rest than they like to yield, in such 
case they need not struggle against it. 

Again, there are hindrances of a hidden kind which beset spiritual 
men. These are spiritual self-seeking, indulgence in sensible consola- 
tions and in devotional feelings. Some, if they do not experience these 
emotions, will not receive Communion. They unconsciously crave for 
something besides God. But God often intervenes and draws these 
men to Him forceably by outward painful visitations, and so violently 
that it seems as if He were striking them with a sledge hammer. Or, 
perhaps, inwardly He cures them by an anguish so dreadful that it is 
like the agony of hell. And if they are not thus visited, then will 
their purgatory be dreadful hereafter. They too often remain to the 
end of their days thus imperfectly disposed. 

Others are good souls who are fuH of blind fear. If they do not 
feel a veritable fire of love within them or experience some great 
movement of God, they abstain from Communion, even though they are 
not aware of any real reason for it. And so they remain, making no 
progress. 

But the ones who best receive the blessed fruit of the holy Sacra- 
ment, are they whose souls are cleansed of all sin and whose intention 
is wholly pure, who rest entirely upon God's mercy. To them it is 
all one if God gives or takes; they trust Him ever the same in abun- 
dance or in want. In holy Communion God is born in them and they 
are born in God. If they find any obstacle to God's grace, whether 
it be in their inner or their outer life, they are not distressed; they 
instantly reject and turn away from it. They recognize God's will in 
everything. They dwell upon Him and not upon His gifts — upon His 
very self alone. All that they have they accept from Him, and to Him 
they refer it all back again. Marvellously does the holy Sacrament 
do its work in men like these, flooding their souls with blessed light, 
and giving them the shortest road to perfection. A man may reach 
such an earnestness of devotion in communicating, that if he were to 
depart this life immediately afterwards, instead of attaining to the 
lowest choir of the blessed — to which he was destined — he would by 
this Communion be granted entrance into the second, perhaps into 
the third or fourth choir. Nay, by frequent Communion in such dispo- 
sitions he would be made worthy of the highest choir, surpassing the 
seraphs and all the angelic natures. But of this he must not think, 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 395 

nor desire any such lot, but only long to do the blessed will of God 
and advance His honor. 

The miracles of grace wrought by this Sacrament in a truly mor- 
tified spirit, are beyond the comprehension of angels, for it is now 
elevated above itself, drawn into God in its interior life, and closely 
united to Him. And if it happens that such a man is unable to receive 
Communion, he humbly resigns himself ; he daily communicates spirit- 
ually, and this he does whether he can hear mass or not. Ah, chil- 
dren, what wonders of grace will not God work within us if we will but 
be converted sincerely to Him. We shall find all good things in His 
Sacrament, and heaven will be established in our souls. But, alas, 
we do not do our part. Dissipation of mind goes beyond all limits. 
We may go to a sermon and hear its lessons — and presently we forget 
all about it — wandering about from one preacher to another, like silly 
women, unstable of mind, to-day glad and to-morrow sorrowful. 

I have been in a certain country, where the people are so manly and 
turn to God so earnestly and steadfastly, that the word of God pro- 
duces more practical fruit among them in one year than here in 
Cologne in ten. There among that lovely people do we see marvels of 
divine grace. Some countries breed only effeminate characters: no 
matter what one may do for them, nothing comes of it. You do not 
find it pleasant to hear such things said about you ; but, children, we 
must become men. We must make a free and vigorous start away 
from created things, and go forward to God. We must have God in 
mind in all our life as the final end — God, and not creatures. We 
must live in Him, not in self nor in creatures. How lamentable it is 
that the blessed grace of God is ignored among us: it is enough to 
break one's heart to think of it. Alas, even in many convents, it is 
what is the latest news that interests souls, filling them with foolish 
thoughts. There are those, to be sure, who gladly hear about divine 
things, but the others condemn them for it. Children, depart from 
them, and have nothing to do with their pretended piety. Hide your- 
selves away and wait upon the will of God. When that appears, 
follow it faithfully. 

And if you are seeking to know the divine will, let me give you some 
good advice. When the question comes as to doing or n»t doing, then 
enter into yourself and earnestly consider. And bear in mind that 
the safest course is to choose what is most opposed to nature. What- 
ever nature is fondest of, that is the most unsafe. The more you live 



396 The Sermons and Spiritual Conferences 

in nature and in its pleasure, the less do you live in God and in His 
will. The less of nature, the more of God. The more you live in the 
Spirit, the less you live in nature. 

Such is my teaching about this Holy Sacrament. It is but a small 
part of what one should say of its worth and its holiness. It is God's 
honor, it is the joy of the blessed, it is the reformation of mankind, 
the conversion of sinners, the release of souls from purgatory. 

It is related that once a friend of God had a vision. A soul ap- 
peared to him clothed in a burning flame, and said to him: "These 
intolerable pains, the agony of which words cannot tell, I suffer in 
punishment for having received the blessed Sacrament of our Lord 
Jesus Christ without due preparation." And the soul then added: 
"If thou wilt receive our Lord's body and blood once for me that will 
help me." The good man did this, and the next day the soul appeared 
to him again shining as bright as the sun; it announced that it had 
been freed from all its unbearable pains and taken up into eternal 
happiness. May God grant us thus to receive holy Communion, and 
to live a life in accordance with its graces. Amen. 



of John Tauler, the Illuminated Doctor 39" 



SoxttmttB of Ifymvm 

Synopsis — TJie first is granted to those icho turn away from the ban- 
quet of worldly joy — This is not always accompanied by devotional 
sweetness — the second is holy Communion — A doctrinal expla- 
nation — The various benefits of mass and communion — How these 
are hindered by venial sins, and also by neglect of spiritual exer- 
cises — They are made permanent by detachment and self-abase- 
ment. 



SEEMON FOE THE SECOND SUNDAY AFTEE TEINITY.* 

A certain man made a great supper and invited many. And he sent his 
servant at the hour of supper to say to them that were invited, that they should