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Introduction to the Devout Life
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CHAPTER XVII. An Answer to Two Objections which may be made to this Book.

THE world will tell you, my child, that all these counsels and practices are so numerous, that anybody who tries to heed them can pay no attention to anything else. Verily, my dear daughter, if we did nothing else we should not be far wrong, since we should be doing all that we ought to do in this world. But you see the fallacy? If all these exercises were to be performed every day they would undoubtedly fill up all our time, but it is only necessary to use them according to time and place as they are wanted. What a quantity of laws there are in our civil codes and digests! But they are only called into use from time to time, as circumstances arise, not every day. Besides, for that matter, David, king as he was, and involved in a multiplicity of complicated affairs, fulfilled more religious duties than those which I have suggested; and S. Louis, a monarch unrivalled in time of peace or war, who was most diligent in the administration of justice and in ruling his country, nevertheless was wont to hear two masses daily, to say vespers and compline with his chaplain, and to make his meditation daily. He used to visit the hospitals every Friday, was regular at confession, took the discipline, often attended sermons and spiritual conferences, and withal he never lost any opportunity of promoting the public welfare, and his court was more flourishing and notable than that of any of his predecessors. Be bold and resolute then in performing the spiritual exercises I have set before you, and God will give you time and strength for all other duties, yea, even if He were to cause the sun to stand still, as He did in Joshua’s time. 211211    Josh. x. 12, 13. We are sure always to do enough when God works with us.

Moreover, the world will say that I take it for granted that those I address have the gift of mental prayer, which nevertheless every one does not possess, and that consequently this book will not be of use to all. Doubtless it is true that I have assumed this, and it is also true that every one has not the gift of mental prayer, but it is a gift which almost every one can obtain, even the most ignorant, provided they are under a good director, and will take as much pains as the thing deserves to acquire it. And if there are any altogether devoid of this gift (which I believe will very rarely be the case), a wise spiritual father will easily teach them how to supply the deficiency, by reading or listening to the meditations and considerations supplied in this book or elsewhere.


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