If you wish to make progress in virtue, live in the
fear of the Lord, do not look for too much freedom,
discipline your senses, and shun inane
silliness. Sorrow opens the door to many a blessing
which dissoluteness usually destroys.
It is a wonder that any man who considers and
meditates on his exiled state and the many dangers to
his soul, can ever be perfectly happy in this life.
Lighthearted and heedless of our defects, we do not
feel the real sorrows of our souls, but often indulge
in empty laughter when we have good reason to weep.
No liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is
founded in the fear of the Lord and a good
Happy is the man who can throw off the
weight of every care and recollect himself in holy
contrition. Happy is the man who casts from him all
that can stain or burden his conscience.
Fight like a man. Habit is overcome by habit. If
you leave men alone, they will leave you alone to do
what you have to do. Do not busy yourself about the
affairs of others and do not become entangled in the
business of your superiors. Keep an eye primarily on
yourself and admonish yourself instead of your
If you do not enjoy the favor of men, do not let
it sadden you; but consider it a serious matter if
you do not conduct yourself as well or as carefully
as is becoming for a servant of God and a devout
It is often better and safer for us to have few
consolations in this life, especially comforts of the
body. Yet if we do not have divine consolation or
experience it rarely, it is our own fault because we
seek no sorrow of heart and do not forsake vain
Consider yourself unworthy of divine solace and
deserving rather of much tribulation. When a man is
perfectly contrite, the whole world is bitter and
wearisome to him.
A good man always finds enough over which to mourn
and weep; whether he thinks of himself or of his
neighbor he knows that no one lives here without
suffering, and the closer he examines himself the
more he grieves.
The sins and vices in which we are so entangled
that we can rarely apply ourselves to the
contemplation of heaven are matters for just sorrow
and inner remorse.
I do not doubt that you would correct yourself
more earnestly if you would think more of an early
death than of a long life. And if you pondered in
your heart the future pains of hell or of purgatory,
I believe you would willingly endure labor and
trouble and would fear no hardship. But since these
thoughts never pierce the heart and since we are
enamored of flattering pleasure, we remain very cold
and indifferent. Our wretched body complains so
easily because our soul is altogether too lifeless.
Pray humbly to the Lord, therefore, that He may
give you the spirit of contrition and say with the
Prophet: "Feed me, Lord, with the bread of mourning
and give me to drink of tears in full measure."(1)