Imitation of Christ: THE PROOF OF A TRUE LOVER
CHAPTER 6: OF THE PROOF OF A TRUE LOVER
MY son, thou art not yet a valiant and a prudent lover.
Why, O Lord? Because thou fallest off from what thou hast begun upon meeting with a little adversity, and too eagerly seekest after consolation.
A valiant lover standeth his ground in temptations, and yieldeth not to the crafty persuasions of the enemy.
As I please him when in prosperity, so I displease him not in adversity.
2. A prudent lover considereth not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver.
He looketh more at the good-will than the value, and setteth every gift beneath the Beloved.
A generous lover resteth not in the gift, but in Me, above every gift.
All, therefore, is not lost, if sometimes thou has not that feeling (of devotion) towards Me or My Saints which thou wouldst have.
That good and delightful affection which thou sometimes perceivest is the effect of present grace, and a certain foretaste of thy heavenly country, upon which thou oughtest not to lean too much, because it goeth and cometh.
But to fight against the evil motions of the mind which arise, and to despise the suggestions of the devil, is a sign of virtue of great merit.
3. Let not, therefore, strange fantasies of whatever kind suggested trouble thee.
Keep thy resolution firm, and thine intention upright, towards God.
Neither is it an illusion, because sometimes thou art rapt in ecstasy, and presently returnest to the accustomed frivolities of thy heart.
For these thou rather unwillingly bearest with than occasionest; and as long as they displease thee, and thou resistest them, it is merit and not loss.
4. Know that the old enemy striveth by all means to hinder thy desire after good, and to draw thee from every devout exercise-----namely, from the veneration of the Saints, from the pious remembrance of My Passion, from the profitable calling to mind of thy sins, from watchfulness over thine own heart, and from a firm purpose of advancing in virtue.
He suggesteth many evil thoughts, that he may cause thee tediousness and horror, that he may call thee away from prayer and holy reading.
He is displeased with humble Confession; and if he could, he would cause thee to cease from Communion.
Give no credit to him, care not for him, although he often set for thee a snare of deception.
Charge him with it when he suggests wicked and unclean things, and say to him:
Begone, unclean spirit; be ashamed, miserable wretch; most unclean art thou to suggest such things in my ears.
Depart from me, thou most wicked seducer; thou shalt have no part in me; but Jesus will be with me as a valiant warrior, and thou shalt stand confounded.
I prefer to die and undergo any torment whatsoever, rather than consent to thee.
Hold thy peace and be silent; I will hear thee no further, although thou many times molest me.
The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?
If whole armies should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear. The Lord is my Helper and my Redeemer.
5. Fight like a good soldier; and if sometimes thou fall through frailty, resume greater courage than before, confiding in My more abundant grace. But take very great care against vain complacency and pride.
Through this many are led into error, and sometimes fall into almost incurable blindness.
Let this fall of the proud, foolishly presuming on themselves, serve thee
as a warning and keep thee always humble.
I KNOW that the true love of God may consist more in suffering, for His sake,
dryness, disgust, and the most grievous temptations, without yielding to them, than in the enjoyment of interior delights, sweetnesses, and consolations; for in the one instance we receive much from God, in the other we give much to Him. In the one we love the gifts of God, in the other we love Himself and His holy will preferably to all His gifts; and the love by which we love God for what He is, is much more perfect than that by which we love Him for what He bestows upon us. Ah! how pleasing to Almighty God to behold a soul ever watchful over itself to keep its heart free from the least faults, ever attentive to its duties, in obedience to His orders, and in resignation to His holy will, and ever willing generously to resist the demands of nature and the temptations of the devil. A soul which neither allows nor pardons itself anything, but endeavors to correspond with the holy designs of God in its regard, to destroy in itself everything human, and to overthrow self-love, takes for the rule of its conduct that rule of true love: "All to please God, and nothing to gratify myself." But what most pleases God is to see that this soul, really clothed with the strength and grace of His Spirit, in all its contests with itself and its passions, can endure nothing contrary to His good pleasure; to see that it neither asks, nor seeks, nor finds any consolation or sensible support, its delight being the delight which God takes in seeing it suffer, even without being sensibly assured that He takes pleasure in it. Its submission and its self-renunciation are its consolation and support, happy in becoming a victim of immolation to the love of God.
ABANDON me not, O Lord, to the sensitiveness of self-love, which will suffer nothing; nor to the inefficacy of my desires, by which I ever will what I never perform. Penetrate my heart with a conviction of the happiness and obligation of suffering all for Thee, and as Thou didst suffer. Grant that, having no other interest but Thine, and willing only what Thou willest, I may receive pains of mind as cheerfully as consolations of spirit; and hoping that, punishing me here, Thou wilt spare me hereafter, I may often say to Thee, in the time of suffering: May Thy justice be satisfied whatever I may have to endure in this life. The less I enjoy Thee, the more will I love Thee; the more will I resist the irregular desires of my heart, that I may ultimately deserve the more to possess Thee. O my God! my Savior! I am willing to be deprived of all consolation here below, provided I never offend Thee. What a happiness to become a victim of Calvary, a martyr to Thy crucified Heart, and entirely devoted to Thy good pleasure! Amen.