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“ I am thy servant, give me understanding, O Lord;" for to read, and not to understand, is to neglect.
And " how can I understand, unless some man show me?” (Acts viii. 31.) And who can teach better than Thou, O God, in all things ? Blessed is the man, whom thou, O Lord, instructest and teachest out of thy law! Better is the hearing, and the teaching of thy doctrine, than merchandise of silver and gold, and all wealth! Therefore do I fly unto Thee, O Lord, teach me to do thy will, and to forsake my
All that is necessary for me consists in this, that at all times, I may say, Father, “ Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Nothing is better, nothing is more salutary for my soul. O Lord, Thou art all my good. Thou art my teacher; Thou art my book, for without Thee I am unlearned, and unprofitable in all things.
2. Woe to the unlearned clerk, and to him without sacred books, who is often the cause of error to himself and others. For the clerk without sacred books, is like a soldier without arms, a horse without a bridle, a boat without oars, a writer without pens, a bird without wings, a shoe-maker without awls, a tyler without ladders, a smith without hammers, a tailor without needle and thread, a barber without razors, an archer without arrows, a traveller without a staff, a blind man without a guide.
All these can make but little way, or profit, without their several implements, and a good instructor; in like manner, a cloister or congregation of clerks without holy books, is like a cook without his pots, a table without food, a well without water, a river without fish, a trunk without clothes, a garden without flowers, a purse without money, a vine without grapes, a tower without warders, a house without furniture.
From all these evils, and destruction of the soul, may our merciful Lord, Jesus Christ preserve us, and may He be to us ALL IN ALL, now and for ever. Amen.
CHAP. VIII.-ON THE SINGING OF THE CHURCH IN HYMNS
1. “ Laus Ejus in Ecclesia Sanctorum." (Ps. cxlix. I.) “Let His praise be in the Church."
Arise, brother, who sleepest, and Christ shall enlighten thee !
Arise, thou sluggard, the bells sound; and Christ calleth thee ! Arise quickly, for delay is perilous.
Behold, Jesus cometh with Mary, and all the choir of Angels await thee, with a crown, which in this very hour thou mayest deserve.
But Satan whispers the reverse: lie still, and sleep thee a little longer ; it is yet early enough ; thou shalt yet come in good time.
So does the frail flesh persuade and lure,—30 does the cunning enemy draw and take in his net him who gives into his wiles and sleeps. For there is nothing so good, or holy, or pleasant, so divine or salutary, but that the evil spirit strives to hinder it, and to draw it unto evil. “ Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field ? Whence, then, hath it cockle ? And he said to them: An enemy hath done this.” (St. Matth. xiii. 27.)
2. But how shall we gather it up, Lord ? St. Peter replies : “Resist ye, strong in faith.” (1 Peter v. 9.) And St. James, in like man. ner, “Resist the devil, and he will fly from you.” (St. James iv. 7.) If evil suggest itself to you, consent not unto it. If the flesh allure you with its pleasures, cast it out, reject and throw it aside. Wherefore, you must call upon Jesus, and invoke the Holy Ghost, with all his gifts, who giveth grace to the humble, that he may give you strength against the malice of the devil. For the Holy Spirit suggests to the mind such things as are good and humble, that is chaste, sober, honourable, peaceful, simple, kind, devout, heavenly, eternal. But, alas! the evil spirit, full of deceit, either suggests open evils, or, if he tells of good, it is with a bad intention, that he may seduce. He is the workman of all deceit, and attacks in a thousand ways, and, though driven away, returns again and tempts. When you do good he grieves ; and if you are cast down he rejoices; but yet he never ceases to persuade unto evil.
Let Jesu then be in thy heart; Holy Mary on thy lips. For the unclean enemy will fly far away from you, if he hear those sweet names. as often as you utter these holy words, so many darts do you cast at the enemy
As soon as you cease to pray or read, so does the enemy begin to conquer and rejoice; but if you persevere in the way of peace, the proud Aies away,
for he is confounded. Before prayer, shut out all earthly things. At prayer, set Jesus Christ before you, or in the crib, or on the cross.
After prayer, give thanks, and whithersoever you go, let it go with thee and dwell with thee. On all that you do, or think, or say, let this be the end. Blessed be God for all good, in heaven, and on earth.
CHAP. IX.-ON THE FESTIVALS OF CHRIST, AND OF THE RELICS OF
1. “Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuæ, et locum habitationis gloriæ tuæ.” (Ps. xxv. 8.)
“I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house ; and the place where thy glory dwelleth."
This is thy house, O God, manifoldly and mightily adorned, for thy festivals, and for the relics of thy saints, revered in many places, that thereby the devotion of the faithful may be more inflamed to thy praise.
Thou hast adorned the heavens with holy angels; the firmament, with the sun, and moon, and stars; the air with birds; the water with fishes; the earth with men and beasts,—with other good things innumerable, for our use. And then, in the end of ages, for a special gift, Thou hast given us Thyself, in the BLESSED SACRAMENT, like most sweet MANNA, for our food, that we mnight not be in this world without God, and angels' food; and, therefore, every place and Church, wheresoever the CONSECRATED HOST inay be on the altar, or in the closed ark, He ought to be held in the greatest reverence, with all the books, vessels, and vestments that pertain unto the worship of God.
2. Look ye, therefore, and consider the wondrous works of God in his holy Church. The temples of Christ are the castles of Christians, to watch therein, and pray, and to fight against the devil. The festivals of Christ and his saints denote the joys of heaven,--where they who have despised the world now reign with Christ. The names of the saints, and inost of all, those of Jesus and Mary, are the stripes and thunderbolts by which the devils are struck with terror, so as to fly before them. The acts of the saints confirm the hearts of the weak, so that they may be constant, and follow them in the narrow way. The writings of the saints are the lamps of travellers, that they may not err in the faith, but rather trust firmly in the words of the saints. The miracles of the saints confound the works of the wicked, lest they oppress the good, and glory in their malice. The relics of the saints strengthen the faith of the people, that they may not fear to die, but rather, that they may trust to rise again with the elect.
3. The images of saints excite the minds of the devout to their love and veneration, so that they may pray for us. The pictures of the saints are the writings of the laymen, wherein they may see what to do, and whither they ought to incline.
The instruments of music in the Church, move the hearts of the lukewarm to desire the eternal rewards of the blessed. The singing of the Psalms enkindles the hearts of the dry to their former fervour, by the mouth of many. The singing of the hymns refreshes the ears of the clerics, that they may sing and exult in the sight of God and his angels. As the many pipes in an organ give out a sweet sound to those who hear it, so many brethren, singing psalms in concord, are well pleasing unto God, and all the inhabitants of heaven. Wherefore, let all pray together, and call upon Christ ; and may the King of angels lead us to the society of the heavenly inhabitants. Amen.
CHAP. X.-OF THE VIRTUES OF THE HUMBLE BROTHER, AND OF THE
VICES OF THE SLOTHFUL AND PROUD. • Respexit Deus in orationem humilium, et non sprevit preces eorum.” (Ps. ci. 18.)
“ The Lord hath had regard unto the prayer of the humble; and he hath not despised their petition.” A most excellent lesson, teaching us to pray humbly, and not to despair of the mercy of God.
1. Look, therefore, O Lord, upon my humility, my vileness, my weakness, and daily defects, and forgive me all my sins, through thy holy name, and for the merits of thy saints in heaven, and of the good on earth.
Let not the foot of pride come unto me,—let not vain glory deceive me,- neither let evil sadness cast me down.
Let no despite disturb me, lest haply I sin against Thee, through impatience.
Be thou my helper in good, and my protector in evil, my God, and my mercy.
From my youth up, Thou art my hope, my consolation in all my tribulation.
Thou art the salvation of my countenance ; Thou art my God, and no other. In thee is all my salvation, my strength, and my glory. Amen.
§ 2.-ON THE HUMBLE BROTHER. The humble and devout brother is a lover of poverty, a follower of simplicity, a servant of patience, a son of obedience, a keeper of chastity, a witness of innocence, a friend of peace :—-severe to himself, but kind to others : he seeketh to dwell in secret, he flyeth from tumult, he loveth silence, he shunneth long conversations, he desireth to
give himself to God alone; he despiseth all earthly things, at all times, he desireth to be with Christ.
§ 3.-OF THE PROUD BROTHER. The proud brother, alas ! is the reverse of the humble; bold, harsh, wandering and worldly, tedious, and burthensome to many, easily excited to wrath, difficult to ask pardon ; he seeketh his own private ends, neglects those of the community; he is seldom well contentednever at peace with himself.
§ 4. OF THE SLOTHFUL BROTHER. The slothful brother is like one always sick; the last commonly in every place and time-one given to idleness and sleep. Late he comes to work, and soon withdraws therefrom ; ready to go out, slow to return; jolly at dinner, sad in fasting ; early to bed, lazy to rise; hoarse in singing, but clear-throated in talking ; deaf to obedience, lame at works.
This heavy lukewarmness of heart is a desire of the soul, which begets weariness at work, and seeketh for consolation abroad, that is of little worth ; nor is it better overcome than by diligence in good works, by the study of the holy Scriptures, and the frequent use of prayer, with the remembrance of our Lord's passion.
He that would overcome his vices, ought very often to do violence to nature, and to implore humbly the grace of Christ, and to await it in patience.
CHAP. XI.-ON DENYING ONESELF, AND ALL THINGS. 1. “Qui non renunciaverit omnibus quæ possidet, non potest meus esse discipulus." (Sti. Luc. xiv. 26.)
“ He that renounceth not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple.” O Lord, God, this thy word seemeth hard, and who can fulfil it ?
Hearken unto me, my son, and what I have said will no longer seem unto thee heavy or impossible. Love me, and forsake thyself, and thou shalt find me always, and everywhere. I am the sovran Good, and the sovranly desirable of thy soul. Behold, I stand at the gate of thy heart, and knock; open unto me, and I will enter in unto thee; for I am thy salvation, and thy life. I am thine all in all,--and to be loved and praised above all. I am thy whole, present here and everywhere; but the blind seeth me not, and the deaf heareth me not, neither doth the fool understand these things. Be thou, therefore, wholly mine