On the Feast of the Twelve Apostles
On the life of men who serve God, and desire to please Him in Perfect Love. How it comes to pass that so few men are really spiritual.

Si dilegitis me, mandata mea servate.

"If ye love Me, keep My commandments."

St John tells us in his Gospel, and also proves to us, that as our dear Lord had loved His own that were in the world, so He loved them unto the very end, giving them many proofs of His consoling love, which He showed to them, especially in word and deed, at the Last Supper, of which He so earnestly desired to partake with them. He exhorted them also to that love which they justly owed to Him; and because they could only truly show it by keeping His commandments, He would pray to His Heavenly Father to send and give them another Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, Who would abide with them for ever, and Whom the world could not receive because it hath neither seen Him (Jesus) nor known Him.

Therefore, dear children, I will once more speak of love, because it is always most sweet and pleasant to speak of it; but much sweeter is it to taste and experience it. Now God commands all those who are dear to Him, to show their love to Him by keeping His commandments: therefore he who openly breaks them, or does not keep them, cannot love Him. It is plain to all that God hates those who live in sin; therefore I will not say any more about them; but I will speak, as well as I can, of the life of those who serve God in the highest love.

Those who wish to love God must keep His commandments; that is, they must be ready to do the Will of God, and to have no will of their own; but must be able to say in truth, "Not my will but Thine be done." God's Will is true love; and true love has no love for self, but loves self only for the sake of those who are loved. Three things are needed for this. First, we must diligently keep guard over our outer senses, so that we may learn to close and to keep careful watch over the gates of our five senses, resisting all irregular desires, overcoming them at once, always watching them closely, and never giving way to them.

The second thing we have to do is to learn to die to all inner delights, our own ways and modes of living, not consenting to them in any way, and especially guarding ourselves against these five spiritual gates of hell: our own free will or love, satisfaction or presumption, our own spiritual delights, our own judgment, and our own wisdom.

Thirdly, a loving soul must have its daily work and discipline towards God and towards self, that it may offer itself, out of pure love, as a living sacrifice unto God, in perfect fear, before all men. This takes place in such marvellous love, that it cannot well be expressed in words; but we ought rather to try it and to taste it, for it surpasses all the powers of nature and sense. For the soul overflows with the freedom of the spirit with which it is endowed, and goes to the Heavenly Father, and unites itself with Him, as far as it can, by the absolute annihilation of self, to His high and blessed praise. It yields itself wholly to Him, in a fathomless Nothingness, in the Abyss of His Godhead, and beseeches Him to make it fruitful in His service; and, as He has loved and chosen it from all eternity, that He will bring to pass in it, and in all creatures, that for which He has created them, according to His most precious and sweet Will, whatever it may be, without any self-choosing. Thus the soul desires to be an example and pattern of righteousness and mercy, if so it pleases Him, and not that it should earn condemnation by its works. It therefore lifts itself up in prayer to God for strength to carry out His Blessed Will.

From the Father it goes to the Eternal Wisdom, and yields itself up in true simplicity, ready to be nothing, to know nothing, to see nothing, to taste nothing, of self, but that all it does, or leaves undone, may be to His praise and in accordance with His dear Will. It beeches Him to perfect in it and in all creatures, according to His Divine Wisdom, all that He sees right and is most praiseworthy in His sight and is the most fruitful for all men. It does not regard self, but is content with all things in true simplicity, and waits for the working of God. It believes and expects, nothing doubting, that He will do it, hoping that all comes from God. Then, whatever happens to the soul to the praise of God, it accepts as from the Hand of God. It neither strives to prove or experience anything, but simply does all that it believes to be His Will; not sure of it but believing it. If the soul were to follow its own ideas, things might often seem opposed to its integrity; but it must not do thus, but must rest in faith and in perfect confidence on God. Thus God is exalted in it according to His Wisdom, and its understanding is abased. This discipline is also cherished and used by the loving soul in small and insignificant things. Thus it is purified by the Wisdom of God in true simplicity, and comes thus to the unscrutable Divinity in the Darkness of His Obscurity, wherein He is exalted and incomprehensible to all creatures. For He is a pure Being, to Whom the created powers of man cannot attain, though they may be united with Him by faith, hope and love.

Now, when all this has been completed, the loving soul goes to the Holy Ghost, Which proceeds both from the Father and the Son, and submits itself to Him, uniting itself so completely with Him, that it is exalted above all created things, and rises above faith, hope and love in God. It is united with this love, far above all gifts in the Abyss of His Uncreatedness, so deeply and so closely, that but few created beings can attain to it by the understanding. For the union and the freedom which exist are incomprehensible to all creatures; and thus man attains a little of the Humanity of Christ, if we may so speak, and is not ashamed, but has fellowship and union with Christ; so that, when he desires to ask anything of the Father, he takes Christ with him to pray the Father. This takes place especially in the Blessed Sacrament; and thus they offer themselves together to the Eternal Father, in the same power and fruitfulness of the Holy Church, in which Christ offered Himself upon the Cross saying: "Into Thy Hands I commend My Spirit." Then the man says again in different love: "O Lord, be merciful unto me, as Thy Father was merciful unto Thee, and help me to pray that the Will of the Holy Trinity may be done in me, according to the measure of my miserable imperfections, as perfectly as it was done in Thee; and let me be one with Thee in the fear of the Holy Church. O Lord, Thou hast suffered once, and hast redeemed the world; Thou canst not therefore suffer any more; but I desire to suffer in Thy place. Therefore spare me not, as Thy Father spared Thee not; for my heart is ready for all that may seem good to Thee in time and in eternity. O Lord, Thou knowest how I can most praiseworthily thank Thee and be helpful to all men. Therefore, O Lord, command Thou me." Thus we trust all to God, that all shall be to the glory of God; but, before his soul is able to offer itself up, it must travel by many an unknown, painful and desert way.

God comes to those who have passed along these two ways, and leads in the loving soul Himself and instructs it in the third way of love; and thus it becomes truly united with God; of which something has already been said. Alas! alas! that so few men are truly spiritual. This arises from the fact that men will not walk in this way and others like it, and therefore they are not fruitful before all men. a man who wished thus to devote himself to the commands of love ought to be more fruitful and more useful than ten other men who also wished to serve God, but in unguarded outbursts of impatience; not in simplicity, but in outward active service; not in contemplative love, as has been said.

It is thus that men come from the sleep of darkness into the True Light. For now fresh grace is offered to us; and, if we do not lay hold of it, it will flee from us and vanish away, how we shall not know. Therefore let us all unite in calling upon God for real simplicity and humility, that from the bottom of our hearts we may humble and despise ourselves, and that we may look upon ourselves as the most despised, the most rejected and the most unworthy of men to be found in this world; so that all who see us will shake their heads at us and mock us, and we are so unworthy that all creatures will lift themselves up against us. Thus we may truly learn to die to our own wills, and also learn to keep ourselves free from self, both outwardly and inwardly, and learn further to offer up ourselves to the glory of God, doing the Will of God, not drawing back again, or choosing for ourselves, either in time or eternity. That we may do thus, not to please ourselves, but from the desire to be well-pleasing unto God, as I have attempted to show, may God grant. Amen.

sermon xxviii on the feast
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