The Voice of Christ
My child, pay careful attention to the movements of
nature and of grace, for they move in very contrary
and subtle ways, and can scarcely be distinguished by
anyone except a man who is spiritual and inwardly
enlightened. All men, indeed, desire what is good,
and strive for what is good in their words and deeds.
For this reason the appearance of good deceives many.
Nature is crafty and attracts many, ensnaring and
deceiving them while ever seeking itself. But grace
walks in simplicity, turns away from all appearance
of evil, offers no deceits, and does all purely for
God in whom she rests as her last end.
Nature is not willing to die, or to be kept down,
or to be overcome. Nor will it subdue itself or be
made subject. Grace, on the contrary, strives for
mortification of self. She resists sensuality, seeks
to be in subjection, longs to be conquered, has no
wish to use her own liberty, loves to be held under
discipline, and does not desire to rule over anyone,
but wishes rather to live, to stand, and to be always
under God for Whose sake she is willing to bow humbly
to every human creature.
Nature works for its own interest and looks to the
profit it can reap from another. Grace does not
consider what is useful and advantageous to herself,
but rather what is profitable to many. Nature likes
to receive honor and reverence, but grace faithfully
attributes all honor and glory to God. Nature fears
shame and contempt, but grace is happy to suffer
reproach for the name of Jesus. Nature loves ease and
physical rest. Grace, however, cannot bear to be idle
and embraces labor willingly. Nature seeks to possess
what is rare and beautiful, abhorring things that are
cheap and coarse. Grace, on the contrary, delights in
simple, humble things, not despising those that are
rough, nor refusing to be clothed in old garments.
Nature has regard for temporal wealth and rejoices in
earthly gains. It is sad over a loss and irritated by
a slight, injurious word. But grace looks to eternal
things and does not cling to those which are
temporal, being neither disturbed at loss nor angered
by hard words, because she has placed her treasure
and joy in heaven where nothing is lost.
Nature is covetous, and receives more willingly than
it gives. It loves to have its own private
possessions. Grace, however, is kind and openhearted.
Grace shuns private interest, is contented with
little, and judges it more blessed to give than to
Nature is inclined toward creatures, toward its
own flesh, toward vanities, and toward running about.
But grace draws near to God and to virtue, renounces
creatures, hates the desires of the flesh, restrains
her wanderings and blushes at being seen in public.
Nature likes to have some external comfort in which
it can take sensual delight, but grace seeks
consolation only in God, to find her delight in the
highest Good, above all visible things.
Nature does everything for its own gain and
interest. It can do nothing without pay and hopes for
its good deeds to receive their equal or better, or
else praise and favor. It is very desirous of having
its deeds and gifts highly regarded. Grace, however,
seeks nothing temporal, nor does she ask any
recompense but God alone. Of temporal necessities she
asks no more than will serve to obtain eternity.
Nature rejoices in many friends and kinsfolk, glories
in noble position and birth, fawns on the powerful,
flatters the rich, and applauds those who are like
itself. But grace loves even her enemies and is not
puffed up at having many friends. She does not think
highly of either position or birth unless there is
also virtue there. She favors the poor in preference
to the rich. She sympathizes with the innocent rather
than with the powerful. She rejoices with the true
man rather than with the deceitful, and is always
exhorting the good to strive for better gifts, to
become like the Son of God by practicing the virtues.
Nature is quick to complain of need and trouble;
grace is stanch in suffering want. Nature turns all
things back to self. It fights and argues for self.
Grace brings all things back to God in Whom they have
their source. To herself she ascribes no good, nor is
she arrogant or presumptuous. She is not contentious.
She does not prefer her own opinion to the opinion of
others, but in every matter of sense and thought
submits herself to eternal wisdom and the divine
Nature has a relish for knowing secrets and hearing
news. It wishes to appear abroad and to have many
sense experiences. It wishes to be known and to do
things for which it will be praised and admired. But
grace does not care to hear news or curious matters,
because all this arises from the old corruption of
man, since there is nothing new, nothing lasting on
earth. Grace teaches, therefore, restraint of the
senses, avoidance of vain self-satisfaction and show,
the humble hiding of deeds worthy of praise and
admiration, and the seeking in every thing and in
every knowledge the fruit of usefulness, the praise
and honor of God. She will not have herself or hers
exalted, but desires that God Who bestows all simply
out of love should be blessed in His gifts.
This grace is a supernatural light, a certain
special gift of God, the proper mark of the elect and
the pledge of everlasting salvation. It raises man up
from earthly things to love the things of heaven. It
makes a spiritual man of a carnal one.
The more, then, nature is held in check and
conquered, the more grace is given. Every day the
interior man is reformed by new visitations according
to the image of God.