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BOOK ONE
THOUGHTS HELPFUL
IN THE LIFE OF THE SOUL

Liber Primus
Admonitiones ad Vitam spiritualem utiles.

Chapter 25
ZEAL IN AMENDING OUR LIVES

BE WATCHFUL and diligent in God's service and often think of why you left the world and came here. Was it not that you might live for God and become a spiritual man? Strive earnestly for perfection, then, because in a short time you will receive the reward of your labor, and neither fear nor sorrow shall come upon you at the hour of death. Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in truth, eternal joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in doing, God will undoubtedly be faithful and generous in rewarding. Continue to have reasonable hope of gaining salvation, but do not act as though you were certain of it lest you grow indolent and proud.

Cap. 25.
De ferventi emendatione totius vitæ.

1. Esto vigilans et diligens in Dei fervitio, et cogita frequenter ad quid venisti, et cur sæculum reliquisti. Nonne ut Deo viveres, et spiritualis fieres? Igitur ad profectum ferveas, quia mercedem laborum tuorum in brevi recipies. Nec erit tunc amplius timor aut dolor in finibus tuis. Modicum nunc laborabis, et magnam requiem, imo perpetuam lætitiam, invenies. Si tu permanseris fidelis et fervidus in agendo, Deus procul dubio erit fidelis, et locuples in retribuendo. Spem bonam retinere debes, quod ad palmam pervenies, sed securitatem capere non oportet ne torpeas, aut elatus fias.

One day when a certain man who wavered often and anxiously between hope and fear was struck with sadness, he knelt in humble prayer before the altar of a church. While meditating on these things, he said: "Oh if I but knew whether I should persevere to the end!" Instantly he heard within the divine answer: "If you knew this, what would you do? Do now what you would do then and you will be quite secure." Immediately consoled and comforted, he resigned himself to the divine will and the anxious uncertainty ceased. His curiosity no longer sought to know what the future held for him, and he tried instead to find the perfect, the acceptable will of God in the beginning and end of every good work.   2. Cum enim quidam anxius inter metum et spem frequenter fluctuaret, et quadam vice moerore confectus in ecclesia ante quoddam altare se in oratione prostravisset, hæc intra se resolvit dicens: O, si scirem, quod adhuc perserveratus essem; statimque audivit divinum intus responsum. Quid, si hoc scires, quid facere velles? Fac nunc quod facere velles, et bene securus eris. Moxque consolatus et confortatus divinæ se commisit voluntati, et cessavit anxia fluctuatio. Noluitque curiose se investigare, ut sciret quæ sibi essent futura, sed magis studuit inquirere quæ esset voluntas Dei beneplacens et perfecta ad omne opus inchoandum et perficiendum.  
"Trust thou in the Lord and do good," says the Prophet; "dwell in the land and thou shalt feed on its riches." There is one thing that keeps many from zealously improving their lives, that is, dread of the difficulty, the toil of battle. Certainly they who try bravely to overcome the most difficult and unpleasant obstacles far outstrip others in the pursuit of virtue. A man makes the most progress and merits the most grace precisely in those matters wherein he gains the greatest victories over self and most mortifies his will. 3. Spera in Domino et fac bonitatem, ait Propheta, et inhabita terram, et pasceris in divitiis ejus. Unum est quod multos a profectu et ferventi emendatione retrahit: horror difficultatis seu labor certaminis. Illi maxime præ aliis in virtutibus proficiunt, qui ea quæ sibi magis gravia et contraria sunt vincere nituntur. Nam ibi homo plus proficit, et gratiam meretur ampliorem, ubi magis se ipsum vincit, et in spiritu mortificat.  
True, each one has his own difficulties to meet and conquer, but a diligent and sincere man will make greater progress even though he have more passions than one who is more even-tempered but less concerned about virtue. Two things particularly further improvement -- to withdraw oneself forcibly from those vices to which nature is viciously inclined, and to work fervently for those graces which are most needed. Study also to guard against and to overcome the faults which in others very frequently displease you. 4. Sed non omnes habent æque multum ad vincendum et moriendum. Diligens autem æmulator valentior erit ad proficiendum, etiamsi plures habeat passiones, quam alius bene morigeratus, minus tamen fervens ad virtutes. Duo specialiter ad magnam emendationem juvant, videlicet subtrahere se violenter ad quod natura vitiose inclinatur, et ferventer instare pro bono, quo amplius quis indiget. Illa etiam magis studeas cavere et vincere quæ tibi in aliis frequentius displicent. 
Make the best of every opportunity, so that if you see or hear good example you may be moved to imitate it. On the other hand, take care lest you be guilty of those things which you consider reprehensible, or if you have ever been guilty of them, try to correct yourself as soon as possible. As you see others, so they see you. How pleasant and sweet to behold brethren fervent and devout, well mannered and disciplined! How sad and painful to see them wandering in dissolution, not practicing the things to which they are called! How hurtful it is to neglect the purpose of their vocation and to attend to what is not their business!   5. Ubique profectum tuum capies ut si bona exempla videas vel audias, de imitandis accendaris. Si quid autem reprehensibile confideraveris, cave ne idem facias, aut si aliquando fecisti, citius emendare te studeas. Sicut oculus tuus alios confiderat, sic iterum ab aliis notaris. Quam jucundum et dulce est videre fervidos et devotos Fratres bene morigeratos et disciiplinatos. Quam triste est et grave videre inordinate ambulantes, qui ea ad quæ vocati sunt non exercent. Quam nocivum est negligere vocationis suæ propositum, et ad non comissia sensum inclinare.  
Remember the purpose you have undertaken, and keep in mind the image of the Crucified. Even though you may have walked for many years on the pathway to God, you may well be ashamed if, with the image of Christ before you, you do not try to make yourself still more like Him. The religious who concerns himself intently and devoutly with our Lord's most holy life and passion will find there an abundance of all things useful and necessary for him. He need not seek for anything better than Jesus. If the Crucified should come to our hearts, how quickly and abundantly we would learn!   6. Memor esto arrepti propositi, et imaginem crucifixi tibi propone. Bene verecundari potes inspecta vita Jesu Christi, quia necdum magis illi te conformare studuisti, licet diu in via Dei fuisti. Religiosus qui se intente et devote in sanctissima vita et passione Domini exercet, omnia utilia et necessaria sibi abundanter ibi inveniet. Nec opus est ut extra Jesum aliquid melius quærat. O, si Jesus crucifixus in cor nostrum veniret, quam cito et sufficienter docti essemus. Religiosus fervidus bene omnia portat et capit, quæ illi jubentur.  
A fervent religious accepts all the things that are commanded him and does them well, but a negligent and lukewarm religious has trial upon trial, and suffers anguish from every side because he has no consolation within and is forbidden to seek it from without. The religious who does not live up to his rule exposes himself to dreadful ruin, and he who wishes to be more free and untrammeled will always be in trouble, for something or other will always displease him. 7. Religiosus negligens et tepidus habet tribulationem super tribulationem et ex omni parte patitur angustiam, quia interiori consolatione caret, et exteriorem quærere prohibetur. Religiosus extra disciplinam vivens gravi patet ruinæ. Qui laxiora quærit et remissiora, semper in angustiis erit, quia unum aut reliquum displicebit sibi.  

 

How do so many other religious who are confined in cloistered discipline get along? They seldom go out, they live in contemplation, their food is poor, their clothing coarse, they work hard, they speak but little, keep long vigils, rise early, pray much, read frequently, and subject themselves to all sorts of discipline. Think of the Carthusians and the Cistercians, the monks and nuns of different orders, how every night they rise to sing praise to the Lord. It would be a shame if you should grow lazy in such holy service when so many religious have already begun to rejoice in God.

8. Quomodo faciunt tam multi alii Religiosi qui satis arctati sunt sub disciplina claustrali, rare execunt, abstracte vivunt, pauperrime comedunt, grosse vestiuntur, multum laborant, parum loquuntur, diu vigilant, mature surgunt, et orationes prolongant, frequenter legunt et se in omni disciplina custodiunt. Attende Cartusienses et Benedictinos, et Cistercienses ac diversæ religionis Monachos et Moniales qualiter omni nocte ad psallendum Deo surgunt. Et ideo turpe esset, ut tu debeas in tam sancto opere dormitare et pigritare, ubi tanta multitudo Religiosorum incipit Deo jubilare.  
If there were nothing else to do but praise the Lord God with all your heart and voice, if you had never to eat, or drink, or sleep, but could praise God always and occupy yourself solely with spiritual pursuits, how much happier you would be than you are now, a slave to every necessity of the body! Would that there were no such needs, but only the spiritual refreshments of the soul which, sad to say, we taste too seldom!   9. O, si nihil aliud faciendum incumberet, nisi Dominum Deum nostrum tot corde et ore laudare. O, si nunquam indigeres comedere, nec bibere, nec dormire, sed semper posses Deum laudare, et solummodo spiritualibus studiis vacare, tunc multo felicior esses, quam modo carni ex qualicumque necessitate serviens. Utinam non essent istæ necessitates, sed solummodo spirituales animæ refectiones, quas heu satis raro degustamus.  
When a man reaches a point where he seeks no solace from any creature, then he begins to relish God perfectly. Then also he will be content no matter what may happen to him. He will neither rejoice over great things nor grieve over small ones, but will place himself entirely and confidently in the hands of God, Who for him is all in all, to Whom nothing ever perishes or dies, for Whom all things live, and Whom they serve as He desires.   10. Quando homo ad hoc pervenit, quod de nulla creatura consolationem quærit, tunc ei Deus primo perfecte sapere incipit, tunc etiam bene contentus de omni eventu rerum erit, tunc nec pro magno lætabitur, nec pro modico contristabitur, sed ponit se integre, et fiducialiter in Deo, qui est ei omnia in omnibus, cui nihil utique parit, nec moritur, sed omnia ei vivunt, et ad nutum incunctanter deserviunt. 
Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time never returns. Without care and diligence you will never acquire virtue. When you begin to grow lukewarm, you are falling into the beginning of evil; but if you give yourself to fervor, you will find peace and will experience less hardship because of God's grace and the love of virtue. A fervent and diligent man is ready for all things. It is greater work to resist vices and passions than to sweat in physical toil. He who does not overcome small faults, shall fall little by little into greater ones. If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at eventide. Watch over yourself, arouse yourself, warn yourself, and regardless of what becomes of others, do not neglect yourself. The more violence you do to yourself, the more progress you will make.   11. Memento semper finis, et quia perditum non redit tempus, sine sollicitudine, et diligentia nunquam acquires virtutes. Si incipis tepescere, incipis male habere. Si autem dederis te ad fervorem, invenies magnam pacem, et senties leviorem laborem propter Dei gratiam et virtutis amorem. Homo fervidus et diligens ad omnia est paratus. Major labor est resistere vitiis et passionibus, quam corporalibus insudare laboribus. Qui parvos non devitat defectus, paulatim labitur ad majora. Gaudebis semper de vespere, si diem expendes fructuose. Vigila semper te ipsum et quidquid de aliis sit non negligas te ipsum. Tantum proficies, quantum tibi ipsi vim intuleris. Amen.
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