Seek a suitable time for leisure and meditate often
on the favors of God. Leave curiosities alone. Read
such matters as bring sorrow to the heart rather than
occupation to the mind. If you withdraw yourself from
unnecessary talking and idle running about, from
listening to gossip and rumors, you will find enough
time that is suitable for holy meditation.
many great saints avoided the company of men wherever
possible and chose to serve God in retirement. "As
often as I have been among men," said one writer, "I
have returned less a man." We often find this to be
true when we take part in long conversations. It is
easier to be silent altogether than not to speak too
much. To stay at home is easier than to be
sufficiently on guard while away. Anyone, then, who
aims to live the inner and spiritual life must go
apart, with Jesus, from the crowd.
No man appears in safety before the public eye
unless he first relishes obscurity. No man is safe in
speaking unless he loves to be silent. No man rules
safely unless he is willing to be ruled. No man
commands safely unless he has learned well how to
obey. No man rejoices safely unless he has within him
the testimony of a good conscience.
More than this, the security of the saints was always
enveloped in the fear of God, nor were they less
cautious and humble because they were conspicuous for
great virtues and graces. The security of the wicked,
on the contrary, springs from pride and presumption,
and will end in their own deception.
Never promise yourself security in this life, even
though you seem to be a good religious, or a devout
hermit. It happens very often that those whom men
esteem highly are more seriously endangered by their
own excessive confidence. Hence, for many it is
better not to be too free from temptations, but often
to be tried lest they become too secure, too filled
with pride, or even too eager to fall back upon
If only a man would never seek passing joys or
entangle himself with worldly affairs, what a good
conscience he would have. What great peace and
tranquillity would be his, if he cut himself off from
all empty care and thought only of things divine,
things helpful to his soul, and put all his trust in
No man deserves the consolation of heaven unless
he persistently arouses himself to holy contrition.
If you desire true sorrow of heart, seek the
privacy of your cell and shut out the uproar of the
world, as it is written: "In your chamber bewail your
sins." There you will find what too often you lose
Your cell will become dear to you if you remain in
it, but if you do not, it will become wearisome. If
in the beginning of your religious life, you live
within your cell and keep to it, it will soon become
a special friend and a very great comfort.
In silence and quiet the devout soul advances in
virtue and learns the hidden truths of Scripture.
There she finds a flood of tears with which to bathe
and cleanse herself nightly, that she may become the
more intimate with her Creator the farther she
withdraws from all the tumult of the world. For God
and His holy angels will draw near to him who
withdraws from friends and acquaintances.
It is better for a man to be obscure and to attend
to his salvation than to neglect it and work
miracles. It is praiseworthy for a religious seldom
to go abroad, to flee the sight of men and have no
wish to see them.
Why wish to see what you are not permitted to
have? "The world passes away and the concupiscence
thereof." Sensual craving sometimes entices you to
wander around, but when the moment is past, what do
you bring back with you save a disturbed conscience
and heavy heart? A happy going often leads to a sad
return, a merry evening to a mournful dawn. Thus, all
carnal joy begins sweetly but in the end brings
remorse and death.
What can you find elsewhere that you cannot find here
in your cell? Behold heaven and earth and all the
elements, for of these all things are made. What can
you see anywhere under the sun that will remain long?
Perhaps you think you will completely satisfy
yourself, but you cannot do so, for if you should see
all existing things, what would they be but an empty
Raise your eyes to God in heaven and pray because
of your sins and shortcomings. Leave vanity to the
vain. Set yourself to the things which God has
commanded you to do. Close the door upon yourself and
call to you Jesus, your Beloved. Remain with Him in
your cell, for nowhere else will you find such peace.
If you had not left it, and had not listened to idle
gossip, you would have remained in greater peace. But
since you love, sometimes, to hear news, it is only
right that you should suffer sorrow of heart from it.