"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."

St Philip Neri

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"God has no need of men."

St Philip Neri

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"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. "

Thomas á Kempis

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Blessed John of Rusybroeck   (1293-1381)

 

THE ADORNMENT OF THE SPIRITUAL MARRIAGE (cont)

 

by Blessed John of Rusybroeck

 

THE SECOND BOOK

13. Of Gratitude


Inward devotion often brings forth gratitude; for none can thank and praise God so well as the inward and devout man. And it is just that we should thank and praise God, because He has created us as reasonable creatures, and has ordained and destined heaven and earth and the angels to our service; and because He became man for our sins, and taught us, and lived for our sake, and showed us the way; and because He has ministered to us in humble raiment, and suffered an ignominous death for the love of us, and promised us His eternal kingdom and Himself also for our reward and for our wage.

And He has spared us in our sins, and has forgiven us or will forgive us; and has poured His grace and His love into our souls, and will dwell and remain with us, and in us, throughout eternity. And He has visited us and will visit us all the days of our lives with His noble sacraments, according to the need of each, and has left us His Flesh and His Blood for food and drink, according to the desire and the hunger of each; and has set before us nature and the Scriptures and all creatures, as examples, and as a mirror, that therein we may look and learn how we may turn all our deeds to works of virtue; and has given us health and strength and power, and sometimes for our own good has sent us sickness; and in outward need has established inward peace and happiness in us; and has caused us to be called by Christian names and to have been born of Christian parents. For all these things we should thank God here on earth, that hereafter we may thank Him in eternity.

We should also praise God by means of everything that we can offer to Him. To praise God, means that all his life long a man glorifies, reverences and venerates the Divine Omnipotence. The praise of God is the meet and proper work of the angels and the saints in heaven, and of loving men on earth. God should be praised by desire, by the lifting up of all our powers, by words, by works, with body and with soul, and faith whatsoever one possesses; in humble service, from without and from within. He who does not praise God while here on earth shall in eternity be dumb. To praise God is the dearest and most joyous work of every loving heart; and the heart which is full of praise desires that every creature should praise God. The praise of God has no end, for it is our bliss; and most justly shall we praise Him in eternity.
 

14. Of Two Griefs which arise from Inward Gratitude


From inward gratitude and praise there arises a two fold grief of the heart and torment of desire. The first grief is, that we feel ourselves to lag behind in thanking, praising, glorifying and serving God. The second is, that we do not grow in charity, in virtue, in faith, and in perfect behaviour as much as we desire, that we may become worthy to thank and praise and serve God as it is proper to do. This is the second grief. These two are root and fruit, beginning and end, of all inward virtues.

Inward grief and pain for our shortcomings in virtue and the praise of God, is the highest effect of this first degree of the inward exercise; and by it this degree is perfectly achieved.
 

15. A Similitude how we should perform the First Degree of our Inward Exercise


Now consider in a similitude, how this inward exercise should be performed. When the natural fire has by its heat and power stirred water, or some other liquid, until it bubbles up; then this is its highest achievement. Then the water boils up and falls down to the bottom, and is then stirred again to the same activity by the power of the fire: so that the water is incessantly bubbling up, and the fire incessantly stirring it.

And so likewise works the inward fire of the Holy Ghost. It stirs and goads and drives the heart and all the powers of the soul until they boil; that is, until they thank and praise God in the way of which I have told you. And then one falls down to that very ground, where the Spirit of God is burning. So that the fire of love ever burns, and the man's heart ever thanks and praises God with words and with works and yet always abides in lowliness; esteeming that which he should do and would do to be great, and that which he is able to do to be small.
 

16. Another Similitude concerning the same Exercise


When summer draws near and the sun rises higher, it draws the moisture out of the earth through the roots, and through the trunks of the trees, into the twigs; and hence come foliage, flower, and fruit.

So likewise, when Christ the Eternal Sun rises and ascends in our hearts, so that it is summer in the adornment of our virtues, He gives His light and His heat to our desires, and draws the heart from all the multiplicity of earthly things, and brings about unity and inwardness; and makes the heart grow and bring forth the leaves of inward love, the flowers of ardent devotion, and the fruits of thanksgiving and praise, and makes these fruits to endure eternally, in humble grief, because of our shortcomings.

Here ends the first of the four chief degrees of that inward working whereby the lowest part of man is adorned.