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Introduction to the Devout Life
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CHAPTER VII. Examination as to the Affectations of the Soul.

I HAVE dwelt thus at length on these points, on a due examination of which all true knowledge of our spiritual progress rests; as to an examination of sins, that rather pertains to the confessions of those who are not eager to advance. But it is well to take ourselves to task soberly concerning these different matters, investigating how we have been going on since we made good resolutions concerning them, and what notable faults we have committed. But the summary of all is to examine into our passions; and if you are worried by so detailed an investigation as that already suggested, you may make a briefer inquiry as to what you have been, and how you have acted, in some such manner as this:—In your love of God, your neighbour, and yourself.

In hatred for the sin which is in yourself, for the sin which you find in others, since you ought to desire the extirpation of both; in your desires concerning riches, pleasure, and honour.

In fear of the perils of sin, and of the loss of this world’s goods; we fear the one too much and the other too little.

In hope, fixed overmuch it may be on things of this world and the creature; too little on God and things eternal.

In sadness, whether it be excessive concerning unimportant matters.

In gladness, whether it be excessive concerning unworthy objects.

In short, examine what attachments hinder your spiritual life, what passions engross it, and what chiefly attracts you.

It is by testing the passions of the soul, one by one, that we ascertain our spiritual condition, just as one who plays the lute tries every string, touching those which are discordant, either raising or lowering them. Thus having tried our soul as to love, hate, desire, fear, hope, sadness and joy, if we find our strings out of tune for the melody we wish to raise, which is God’s Glory, we must tune them afresh with the help of His Grace, and the counsel of our spiritual father.

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