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the Gospel. Listen to its words attentively; and full of faith adore them, that is, show all due veneration by the position of your body. Corporal veneration is shown by the bending of the body; secondly, by holding the head as is wont; thirdly, by bowing at the words JESUS and Mary, for so the devout have done. Furthermore, when the Gospel is read, the mind ought not to set before it any other prayer, or to direct its attention to any other lesson. He that lets his attention wander on several things, is more likely to miss the meaning of each in detail; and as the canon commands the words of the Gospel, and the writings of the apostle, to be read on solemn days, we should hear it to no purpose if we did not attend. Therefore, we ought not to read, or meditate on, any other thing but what is before us, then; and this we owe to the Gospel, for from it all our discourse and all our meditation springs. Again, our bending down, and corporal veneration, are signs of mental veneration ; but these would be of no avail and false, if they proceeded from other causes than those which were signified; so these exterior signs of mental veneration, must correspond with those within, or they are bootless.
14. Again, we ought to show our veneration more with the lips and heart, than with the lips and outward form. Wherefore, I will hear formally,--I will hear with the ear,—I will hear also with the spirit ; or otherwise I am as a tinkling cymbal and sounding brass ; for what are voices and words to me, if I notice them not. Therefore, with bended knee, and head uncovered, stand bowing down after the consecration of the sacrament, if you are near enough to see it and the chalice. This mode of humble adoration and bowing of the body is seemly in the sight of God, and becoming as an handmaid of devotion,-yea, most suitable, as you doubtless have often felt. Above all, the servant should show reverence to his Lord in the presence of his Lord ; and bowing down is admirably suited to the devotion of the mind, on account of its natural humbling. When you are far off, and cannot see, you may cast down your head entirely, and pray to your God in secret, from the Sanctus to the Pax, and again, whether you receive or not, from that time till St. John's Gospel.
15. Take the Pax with veneration and devotion, because you are touched with our Lord's body, by the mouth of the priest. Was He not adored by Veronica ? Is not the picture of Christ worshipped, because dedicated to his body? All the faithful were wont in the primitive Church to communicate ; in place of which communion, the Pax is now given, as it were a certain partaking of the body of Christ. But why this blessed body is not given now a-days comes from this, I think, that in those days they showed more fervour to his blood ; that the state of religion was in vigour and greatness,—which hath now waxed old amongst us ; whence also He withdrew himself. When the Pax comes, then, be ye as ready, as if you were going to receive him corporally, and then lift up your desires, that if you do not partake of the Sacrament corporally, you may at least eat Him in spirit. After such a communion as the Pax, you ought to tarry with your desires, and to dwell with him inwardly a long time. If, however, your mind begins to wander, as it is wont to happen to thee, from not having set in order before-hand your meditations, GO TO THE PASSION OF CHRIST.
16. Moreover, from the Sanctus sanctus, prepare thyself to see the Sacrament. Are not all men wont to prepare themselves for seeking a king, by whom also they may be seen ? After you have looked on Him, prepare to receive Him; and do no other thing; for at that time the presence of Christ works within you, and helps thy weakness; and so you will be stirred up to a greater love of the Sacrament. This unfolds the meaning of those words which precede the canon, SURSUM CORDA, and the response, HABEMUS AD DOMINUM; wherefore draw near to the priest, who allows you so high an honour as to hear Mass; to see the blessed Sacrament, and to stand in his presence.
Of abstinence, the following regulations are good :— 1st. Keep the fasts that are commanded; and secondly, never eat flesh. You will find reasons in that pearl of the decretals, De Consecratione. Thirdly, always fast during Advent, and Septuagesima ; and never omit it with. out cause. Fourthly, fast daily, by never eating till you are satisfied. All the philosophers advise this, especially Seneca and Aristotle. While then your appetite is yet good, withdraw your hand; and as satiety knows not due bounds, consider well when it would be reasonable to stop its craving. Fifthly, about the end of your meals, consider within yourself how much you have eaten, and how much you could eat, and cut off what is superfluous. Sixthly, set bounds to your eating, by considering beforehand thy meal, and how much. Seventhly, beware after your meal, even of one roasted pear, though it were not large, yea, very small. Eighthly, take your meal between the fourth and fifth hour, unless guests, or weakness, or some accident, or journey, prevent you. This is approved on several grounds. It is suitable to digestion ; and no hindrance in your watching. Therefore do not let a raw apple, or any the like tempt thee by day; your sleep will also be better; your study and prayers will be less hindered by drowsiness, you will thus have the
whole day for labour and prayer; your vigils will be sober and fasting, you will be more alert and ready for God's service, and your appetite better. Moreover, it is the custom of the Carthusians, and Bernardites, and some others, to take but one meal, from the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross to the Pasch; that is, from the middle of September, till about the vernal equinox.
17. Again, in great cold, it is allowed to eat more, but not more than one meal, which is the doctrine of Hippocrates. Besides, this helps to keep out the cold, which can hardly be subdued otherwise. So when you are allowed to eat twice, let it be a small affair, and digestable, such as one egg.--not more; or some simples, such as bread and wine, or the like, with a little loaf, and wine for digestion's sake.
Moreover, I never wish to drink wine without cause, when I am well, lest I should act against the doctrine of St. Paul, who says, that in it there is luxury, besides, its great expense. Therefore, before, or after, or during dinner, I would never drink it, except infirmity, or some good cause or reason obliged it. In toil, or after it, I would not drink, except having cooled myself, and so it be good for body and soul. May no thirst induce me to drink between hours, or to break the fasts. It is good to set the feet in wisdom's stocks. It seems to me, that the fathers in the desert made short, but frequent prayers, and from this, had their hearts raised up continually to the Lord, and not fixed on earthly things; so must we withdraw our hearts from earthly things,so must we do in like manner,
18. This counsel I give you in the name of the Lord, not as a fised rule, but as something to strive after; namely, to fast on the fourth feriæ of the week, and on the fifth, and ou Saturday in like manner. For on the fourth day Judas betrayed our Lord; on the fifth He was crucified, and he that fasteth not then, without necessity, seemeth as it were to betray and crucify Christ. I hold this the more, for that I am a clerk in the lot of the Lord. Moreover, health is better kept thereby, and the mind in a better state with its God. Although, then, thy body be a little hurt, heed it not, you will always be better when you have fasted; always pay something to thy God, and you will remember Him the more.
19. Beware of sudden, covetous, and greedy eating, for you will fall thereby into inordinate affection. Eating fast, has in it of the desire and vice of gluttony. St. Gregory, in his exposition of the book of Job, says : “ Gluttony kindleth talkativeness, yea, as drunkenness inebriates, inflames, and overrules, it also inflames, and begetteth
snares. Moreover, it cutteth off and shutteth out all thought of God. It is better to delay and eat slow, than to guzzle down quick. Besides, the food taken slow is more wholesome to the health of the body, and more readily digested; so also, in reading, writing, speaking, or acting, do nothing hastily. Again, thereby you reflect more on God's honour, than when you rush into a thing with all your strength. Learn, then, to act slowly and deliberately. You will do no good if you fall into disobedience. In your worldly affairs, books, and the like, look upon yourself as a steward, and see that you be found therein prudent and faithful. Use, then, your food and clothing sparingly, that you may have more for those that are in want, and for the salvation of souls. Give nothing to any one who is not in want, for you will find very many who are in need. And if you give to him that aboundeth, you act not as a faithful steward, nor wisely to your own salvation So also, let not carnal affection influence you in your giving away. I will take no gift from any one, seeing those that are poorer may be found ; and I will not ask anything of others, which I would not wish to do myself. For no worldly matter ought a man to be annoyed. He that doeth what he knows, deserveth much knowledge; and he that doeth not what he knoweth, much blindness.
20. It is a great thing to be obedient in such things as are contrary and burthensome to a man; for in this true obedience consists. Above all and in all, then, study to humble thyself, especially in thy heart, and even externally before thy brethren ;—“Scientia scientiarum est scire se nihil scire.” The more a man knoweth that he is far from perfection, the nearer he is to perfection. (See Ps. Ixxii.) The beginning of vain glory is to take pleasure in oneself. In nothing is man known better than in his praise. You ought, then, always to strive after some good, and to note and think of it in another. As often as our inordinate desires go away from GOD, so often do we commit fornication against God. Therefore, the prophet says: “It is good for me to adhere unto my God.” (Ps. lxi. 3.) We ought to be men in prayer, and not to give over through levity, not to think of what God loves not to hear, but to repel such thoughts as often as they rise, and never to despair. The weak ought to pray, as a son did to his merciful father; as it is said in the Gospel, “ Which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone ? or a fish, will he give him a serpent? or if he ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion ?" (St. Luc. xi. 11.) In every worldly affair there is a temptation, although man perceive it
But the greatest temptation is when a man is not tempted. So
long as a man finds something within him which may be cut off, he stands well. Whenever any evil suggests itself to you, consider what you would say if any of your companions were to ask you that question, and the devil will stand confounded. Always hope more in the eternal glory, than tremble for hell. Let all beware of scandalizing others, but study to correct his own morals, and to be always honest, that others may be the more edified. With such thoughts as a man goes to sleep, with the like will he rise. It is profitable to pray, or to read some psalms. A little confusion here blots out everlasting confusion in the sight of God, and all his saints. Seek, then, only to please Him, and to fear Him, who knoweth thee, and all that concerneth thee. Suppose you please all, but displease God, what then? Turn then away you heart from creatures, even with all thy strength; turn away, that so you may perfectly overcome thyself, and lift up your heart to God, saying with the prophet: " Mine eyes are ever unto the Lord.” (Ps. xxiv. 6.) Thanks be to God!
EPITAPHIUM VETUS ET INCONDITUM VENERABILIS
MAGISTRI GERARDI MAGNI.
FINIS VITÆ M. GERARDI MAGNI.