"To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself. "

Thomas á Kempis

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"God looks neither at long nor beautiful prayers, but at those that come from the heart."

The Cure D'Ars

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"There is nothing which gives greater security to our actions, or more effectually cuts the snares the devil lays for us, than to follow another person’s will, rather than our own, in doing good."

St Philip Neri

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John Nicholas Grou, S.J. 




by John Nicholas Grou, S.J.

Author's Preface

At the end of the little work which I wrote on the Marks of true devotion, I promised to write another under the title of Spiritual Maxims, in which I would explain in more detail the means for practising that devotion. The following work is the result.

I have put these Maxims in the form of verse in order that they may be more readily grasped and retained. To the Maxims I have added explanations which develop their meaning and show their importance and solidity, and enable me to enter into certain elucidations which I have judged necessary. These explanations will be short, considering the vast extent of these questions which embrace almost the whole of the spiritual life; but I have endeavoured to make them clear and adequate. It has not been my intention to write a big book, but one which would be easily accessible to all, and not so long as to discourage the reader.

For the sake of those who have not the other work, in the second Maxim I give a brief summary of the nature of devotion. But although I present it as fundamentally the same, yet it is under another aspect, so that it will appear new even to those who have read the former book.*** If I am obliged sometimes to say things that perhaps will not be understood by everybody, let them be assured that by putting these principles into practice they will in time arrive at an understanding of them. The great master of the interior life is experience. To know the interior way well, one must walk in it. One's understanding grows in proportion to the progress made.

Let no one be frightened by the name the interior way. All Christians must be interior. The kingdom of God is within you, said Our Lord. Anyone in whom God has not established this interior kingdom cannot be but an imperfect Christian.

Finally, let me protest that my intentions are altogether in accordance with the Church's teaching. Indeed, I have no wish but to teach what Our Lord himself taught and practised. In speaking, although with caution, of the passive way and of certain states out of the ordinary, it is possible that I may not have explained myself with sufficient clarity and precision. But who can hope to explain matters of such delicacy in a way that leaves nothing to be desired? I trust I will be believed when I say that I abhor all kinds of Quietism, and anything that might lead to it.

[Note: For obvious reasons, we have not attempted to translate literally the verse in which our author has expressed his Maxims. We may add that the chapter-headings briefly summarize the subject matter treated in the explanations which follow. They are not in the original.]