The Following of Christ, Book I, Chapter XIX

cover of the ebook 'The Following of Christ'Of the exercises of a good religious man

1. The life of a good religious man ought to be eminent in all virtue: that he may be such interiorly, as he appears to men in his exterior.

And with good reason ought he to be much more in his interior, than he exteriorly appears; because he who beholds us is God, of whom we ought exceedingly to stand in awe, wherever we are, and like angels walk pure in his sight.

We ought every day to renew our resolution, and excite ourselves to fervour, as if it were the first day of our conversion, and to say:

Help me, O Lord God, in my good resolution, and in thy holy service, and give me grace now this day perfectly to begin; for what I have hitherto done, is nothing.

2. According as our resolution is, will the progress of our advancement be; and he had need of much diligence who would advance much.

Now if he that makes a strong resolution often fails: what will he do who seldom or but weakly resolves?

The falling off from our resolution happens divers ways: and a small omission in our exercises seldom passeth without some loss.

The resolutions of the just depend on the grace of God, rather than on their own wisdom: and in whom they always put their trust, whatever they take in hand.

For man proposes, but God disposes: nor is the way of man in his own hands.

3. If for piety’s sake, or with a design to the profit of our brother, we sometimes omit our accustomed exercises, it may afterwards be easily recovered.

But if through a loathing of mind, or negligence, it be lightly let alone, it is no small fault, and will prove hurtful.

Let us endeavour what we can, we shall still be apt to fail in many things.

But yet we must always resolve on something certain, and in particular against those things which hinder us most.

We must examine and order well both our exterior and interior! because both conduce to our advancement.

4. If thou canst not continually recollect thyself, do it sometimes, and at least once a day, that is, at morning or evening.

In the morning resolve, in the evening examine thy performances: how thou hast behaved this day in word, work, or thought: because in these perhaps thou hast often offended God and thy neighbour.

Prepare thyself like a man to resist the wicked attacks of the devil; bridle gluttony, and thou shalt the easier restrain all carnal inclinations.

Be never altogether idle: but either reading, or writing, or praying, or meditating, or labouring in something that may be for the common good.

Yet in bodily exercises, a discretion is to be used: nor are they equally to be undertaken by all.

5. Those things which are not common are not to be done in public: for particular things are more safely done in private.

But take care then be not slack in common exercises, and more forward in things of thy own particular devotion: but having fully, and faithfully performed what thou art bound to, and what is enjoined thee, if thou hast any time remaining, give thyself to thyself according as thy devotion shall incline thee.

All cannot have the self same exercise: but this is more proper for one, and that for another.

Moreover, according to the diversity of times, divers exercises are more pleasing: for some relish better on festival days, others on common days.

We stand in need of one kind in time of temptation, and of another in time of peace and rest.

Some we willingly think on when we are sad, others when we are joyful in the Lord.

6. About the time of the principal festivals, we must renew our good exercises: and more fervently implore the prayers of the saints.

We ought to make our resolution from festival to festival: as if we were then to depart out of this world, and to come to the everlasting festival.

Therefore we ought carefully to prepare ourselves at times of devotion; and to converse more devoutly, and keep all observances more strictly, as being shortly to receive the reward of our labour from God.

7. And if it be deferred, let us believe that we are not well prepared, and that we are as yet unworthy of the great glory which shall be revealed in us at the appointed time: and let us endeavour to prepare ourselves better for our departure.

Blessed is that servant, says the evangelist Saint Luke, whom when his Lord shall come he shall find watching. Amen, I say to you, he shall set him over all his possessions. – Luke 13