The Following of Christ, Book I, Chapter XXI

cover of the ebook 'The Following of Christ'Of compunction of heart

1. If thou wilt make any progress keep thyself in the fear of God, and be not too free, but restrain all thy senses under discipline, and give not thyself up to foolish mirth.

Give thyself to compunction of heart, and thou shalt find devotion.

Compunction opens the way to much good, which dissolution is wont quickly to lose.

It is wonderful that any man can heartily rejoice in this life, who weighs and considers his banishment, and the many dangers of his soul.

2. Through levity of heart, and the little thought we have of our defects, we feel not the sorrows of our soul: but often vainly laugh, when in all reason we ought to weep.

There is no true liberty, nor good joy, but in the fear of God with a good conscience.

Happy is he who can cast away all impediments of distractions, and recollect himself to the union of holy communion.

Happy is he who separates himself from all that may burden or defile his conscience.

Strive manfully: custom is overcome by custom.

If thou canst let men alone, they will let thee do what thou hast to do.

3. Busy not thyself with other men’s affairs, nor entangle thyself with the causes of great ones.

Have always an eye upon thyself in the first place: and take special care to admonish thyself preferably to all thy dearest friends.

If thou hast not the favour of men, be not grieved thereat: but let thy concern be, that thou dost not carry thyself so well and so circumspectly as it becomes a servant of God, and a devout religious man to demean himself.

It is oftentimes more profitable and more secure for a man not to have many comforts in this life; especially according to the flesh.

Yet, that we have not divine comforts, or seldom experience them, is our own faults: because we do not seek compunction of heart, nor cast off altogether vain and outward satisfactions.

4. Acknowledge thyself unworthy of divine consolation, and rather worthy of much tribulation.

When a man has perfect compunction, then the whole world is to him burdensome and distasteful.

A good man always finds subject enough for mourning and weeping.

For whether he considers himself, or thinks of his neighbour, he knows that no man lives here without tribulations; and the more thoroughly he considers himself, the more he grieves.

The subjects for just grief and interior compunction are our vices and sins, in which we lie entangled in such manner, as seldom to be able to contemplate heavenly things.

5. If thou wouldst oftener think of thy death, than of a long life, no doubt but thou wouldst more fervently amend thyself.

And if thou didst seriously consider in thy heart the future punishments of hell and purgatory, I believe thou wouldst willingly endure labour and pain, and fear no kind of austerity.

But because these things reach not the heart, and we still love the things which flatter us, therefore we remain cold and very sluggish.

6. It is oftentimes a want of spirit, which makes the wretched body so easily complain.

Pray therefore humbly to our Lord, that he may give thee the spirit of compunction: and say with the prophet: Feed me, Lord, with the food of tears, and give me drink of tears in measure.