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Introduction to the Devout Life
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CHAPTER XVIII. Three Important and Final Counsels.

ON the first day of every month renew the resolution given in Part I. after meditation, and make continual protestation of your intention to keep it, saying with David, “I will never forget Thy Commandments, for with them Thou hast quickened me.” 212212    Ps. cxix. 93. And whenever you feel any deterioration in your spiritual condition, take out your protest, and prostrating yourself in a humble spirit, renew it heartily, and you will assuredly find great relief.

Make open profession of your desire to be devout; I will not say to be devout, but to desire it; and do not be ashamed of the ordinary, needful actions which lead us on in the Love of God. Acknowledge boldly that you try to meditate, that you would rather die than commit a mortal sin; that you frequent the Sacraments, and follow the advice of your director (although for various reasons it may not be necessary to mention his name). This open confession that you intend to serve God, and that you have devoted yourself deliberately and heartily to His Holy Love, is very acceptable to His Divine Majesty, for He would not have any of us ashamed of Him or of His Cross. Moreover, it cuts at the root of many a hindrance which the world tries to throw in our way, and so to say, commits us to the pursuit of holiness. The philosophers of old used to give themselves out as such, in order to be left unmolested in their philosophic life; and we ought to let it be known that we aim at devotion in order that we may be suffered to live devoutly. And if any one affirms that you can live a devout life without following all these practices and counsels, do not deny it, but answer meekly that your infirmity is great, and needs more help and support than many others may require.

Finally, my beloved child, I intreat you by all that is sacred in heaven and in earth, by your own Baptism, by the breast which Jesus sucked, by the tender Heart with which He loves you, and by the bowels of compassion in which you hope—be stedfast and persevere in this most blessed undertaking to live a devout life. Our days pass away, death is at hand. “The trumpet sounds a recall,” says S. Gregory Nazianzen, “in order that every one may make ready, for Judgment is near.” When S. Symphorian was led to his martyrdom, his mother cried out to him, “My son, my son, remember life eternal, look to Heaven, behold Him Who reigns there; for the brief course of this life will soon be ended.” Even so would I say to you: Look to Heaven, and do not lose it for earth; look at Hell, and do not plunge therein for the sake of this passing life; look at Jesus Christ, and do not deny Him for the world’s sake; amid if the devout life sometimes seems hard and dull, join in Saint Francis’ song, 213213     “Tanto `e il bene ch’ io aspetto
   Ch’ ogni pena m’ e diletto.”

   These are the words of Saint Francis d’Assisi, which S. Francis de Sales renders—

   “A cause des biens que j’attends,

   Les travaux me sont passe-temps.”

“So vast the joys that I await,

No earthly travail seemeth great.”

Glory be to Jesus, to Whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, now and ever, and to all Eternity. Amen.


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