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Poetry for the day [29 Mar 2006|09:41am]

It's the feast of John Keble, and here's his poem from The Christian Year for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, courtesy of Project Canterbury:

The RosebudCollapse )
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Today's poem [15 Mar 2006|09:50am]

PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth ;

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner's towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear ;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices, something understood.

--"Prayer (I)" by George Herbert

(All the poems I have posted so far are archived at the Luminarium.
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Henry Vaughan for Lent [14 Mar 2006|11:46am]


LORD, when Thou didst Thyself undress,
Laying by Thy robes of glory,
To make us more, Thou wouldst be less,
And becam'st a woful story.

To put on clouds instead of light,
And clothe the morning-star with dust,
Was a translation of such height
As, but in Thee, was ne'er express'd.

Brave worms and earth ! that thus could have
A God enclos'd within your cell,
Your Maker pent up in a grave,
Life lock'd in death, heav'n in a shell !

Ah, my dear Lord ! what couldst thou spy
In this impure, rebellious clay,
That made Thee thus resolve to die
For those that kill Thee every day ?

O what strange wonders could Thee move
To slight Thy precious blood, and breath ?
Sure it was love, my Lord ! for love
Is only stronger far than death !
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More poetry for Lent [13 Mar 2006|09:58am]

Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

--John Donne
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Mystical poetry for Lent [10 Mar 2006|02:14pm]

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

--George Herbert
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ADMIN: Seeking a helper/replacement [23 Sep 2005|12:29pm]

I am no longer able to give the time to this community that I have given formerly, and I am wondering whether there is anyone who would be willing to take over as moderator/maintainer and to update at least three or four times a week, picking up with The Scale of Perfection. Please leave a comment if you are interested. There could also be multiple maintainers so the burden of updating could be rotated around.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection [14 Sep 2005|11:37am]

Chapter Five

SECTION II: How Pride in Heretics and in Hypocrites is deadly sin

An heretic sinneth deadly in pride,
for he chooseth his rest and delight
in his own opinion, and in his own sayings,
for he imagineth them to be true;
which opinion or sayings are against God and holy Church,
and, therefore, he sinneth mortally in pride,
for he loveth himself and his own will and wit so much,
that though it be plainly against the ordinance of holy Church,
he will not leave it, but resteth thereon, as upon the truth,
and so maketh he it his god; but he beguileth himself,
for God and holy Church are so united and accorded together
that whoso doth against the one doth against both.
And, therefore, he that saith he loveth God, and keepeth His biddings,
and despiseth holy Church, and setteth at nought
the laws and ordinances thereof, made by the head and supreme thereof
appointed to govern all Christians, he lieth,
for he chooseth not God, but chooseth the love of himself,
contrary to the love of God, and so sinneth mortally.
And wherein he imagineth most to please God,
he most displeaseth Him;
for he is blind, and will not see.

Of this blindness and this false resting
of an heretic in his own feeling,
speaketh the wise man thus:
There is a way that seemeth right to a man,
and the last end of it bringeth him to endless death.
This way specially is called heresy:
for other fleshly sinners that sin mortally and lie therein,
commonly condemn themselves, and feel biting in conscience,
because they go not the right way;
but an heretic supposeth that he doth well,
and teacheth well, yea, and
that no man doth and teacheth so well as he,
and so judgeth his way to be right,
and, therefore, feeleth he no biting of conscience
nor humility in heart. And, soothly,
if God of His great mercy sendeth him not humility at the last end,
he goeth to hell. And, nevertheless,
yet weeneth he to have done well and
that he shall get the bliss of Heaven for his teaching.

The hypocrite also sinneth deadly in pride.
He is an hypocrite that chooseth vain joy in himself,
as the rest and full delight of his heart in this manner.

When a man doth many good deeds bodily and ghostly,
and then is put into his mind by the suggestion of the enemy,
the beholding of himself and those good deeds,
how good, how holy he is, how worthy in men’s deem,
and how high in God’s sight, above other men,
he perceiveth this stirring, and receiveth it willingly,
for he judgeth it to be good, and from God,
forasmuch as it is true (
for he doth these good deeds better than other men).
And when it is received thus by consent of his will,
there ariseth from it in his heart
so great a love and delight in himself,
that he hath so much grace, that for the time
it ravisheth his mind out of all other thoughts,
both corporal and spiritual,
and setteth it upon vain joy in himself,
as on a rest of his heart.
This ravishing in spiritual pride is delectable,
and, therefore, he keepeth it, holdeth it,
and nourisheth it as much as he can.
For this love and delight he prayeth,
watcheth, weareth haircloth, and doth other afflictions,
and all these trouble him but little.
He pretends to love God, and thanketh Him sometimes with his mouth;
sometimes wringeth a tear out of his eye,
and then he thinketh all safe enough.
But soothly, all this is for love of himself
which he chooseth, and mistaketh for love and joy in God,
and therein lies all his sin.
Not that he willingly chooseth sin, as it is sin,
but chooseth this delight and joy that he takes for good,
as the rest and repose of his soul.
Which, because he doth without any striving against it,
or displeasure at it in his will, therefore is it sin;
for he judgeth it to be a joy in God, and it is not so,
and, therefore, sinneth he mortally.
Job saith thus of an hypocrite:
"The joy of an hypocrite is as it were for a moment.
If his pride rise up even to the heavens,
and his head touch the clouds,
at the last end he shall be cast out as a dung-heap."
The joy of an hypocrite is but a point,
for if he worship himself never so much,
and joy in himself never so much,
all his lifetime, and bepaint himself
with all his good deeds,
in the sight and praisings of the world,
at the last it will prove right nought but sorrow and pain.

But thou wilt say: Sure there be few or none such
that are so blind as to hold and choose vain joy
in themselves for joy in God.

As to this I cannot answer, nor will, though I could;
only I will tell thee this one thing,
that there be many hypocrites, and, nevertheless,
they think themselves to be none,
and that there be many that dread
and fear themselves to be hypocrites,
and soothly are none;
who is the one, and who is the other,
God knows, and none but He.
Whoso will humbly dread, shall not be beguiled;
and whoso thinketh himself secure, he may lightly fall.
For St Paul saith: Whose esteemeth himself to be something,
whereas indeed he is nothing, he beguileth himself.
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Quote of the Day, continued: The Scale of Perfection [12 Sep 2005|05:32pm]

Chapter Five

SECTION I: Of the Seven Deadly Sins, and first of Pride, what it is, and when it is a deadly Sin and when but venial

Part three

Another reward there is that is Secondary, or Accidental,
which our Lord giveth for special good deeds,
which a man doth voluntarily,
over that he is bound to do.
Of these deeds three principal ones
the Doctors of holy Church do make mention of,
namely, Martyrdom, Preaching and Virginity.
These works, inasmuch as they pass all others in excellency,
shall have a special reward, which is called an Aureola,
which is nought else but a singular worship and a special token
ordained by God for reward of that special deed
they did above others, over and above
that Sovereign or Essential reward of the love of God
which is common to him and to all others.
Right so it is of all other special good deeds,
which, if they be done sincerely,
are specially acceptable in the sight of God,
and in the judgement of holy Church
are very excellent, as are the enclosing of Anchorets,
done by the authority of holy Church,
also entering into religion approved,
and the stricter that the religion is,
the more excellent is the deed
in the judgement of holy Church.

Also after these, and beneath these,
are the taking of the order of Priest,
either for cure of men’s souls,
and to minister the Sacraments of holy Church,
or else for singular Devotion to please God,
and profit our neighbour, by the sacrifice
of the precious body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Soothly these are special deeds,
and declared to be excellent
by the judgement of holy Church,
and in the sight of our Lord.
When they are done truly for God,
they are excellent, and shall have special reward,
each man in his degree, in the bliss of Heaven.
The state of Bishop and Prelate is above all these deeds,
as to the Accidental reward.
That this is so, appeareth out of holy Writ,
where it saith thus in the Prophet Daniel:
But go thou until the time prefixed,
and thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot
until the end of the days;
which is to say thus much:
The Angel when he had showed Daniel the secrets of God,
he said to him thus: Go thou to the rest of this bodily death,
and thou shalt stand in thy lot as a prophet at the last day.
And verily as Daniel shall stand as a prophet
at the last day of doom,
and have the worship and excellency of a prophet
above the Sovereign blessed reward of the love and sight of God,
right so shalt thou stand as an Anchoret in that lot,
and a Religious in the lot of the Religious,
and so shall it be with other excellent deeds,
and have a singular worship,
passing other men at the day of doom.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection [12 Sep 2005|05:10pm]

Chapter Five

SECTION I: Of the Seven Deadly Sins, and first of Pride, what it is, and when it is a deadly Sin and when but venial

Part two

But now thou wilt say:
Who doth choose the love of his worship, credit or honour,
instead of his God; I answer,
that he that loveth his worship,
as for to seem better and greater of estate than any other,
and travaileth about it as much as he can;
if he love it so much that
for the getting, or keeping, or the saving of it,
he breaketh the commandment of God,
or breaketh love and charity to his neighbour,
or is ready, or in full will to break it
rather than he would forbear his worship,
or lose anything of it, either in his name,
or in his estate,
or of fulfilling his will;
soothly he sinneth deadly,
for he loveth his worship,
and chooseth it more than the love of God and of his neighbour.
And nevertheless, the man that sinneth thus deadly
will say with his mouth
that he will not choose pride for his god,
but he beguileth himself,
for he chooseth it for his god in his deeds.

Nevertheless, another worldly man
that loveth his own worship and pursueth after it,
if he love it not so much, that he would not
for the getting or the saving of it do a deadly sin,
or break charity to his neighbour,
he sinneth not deadly but venially,
more or less according to the measure of his love
and of his liking, with other circumstances.

But a man or woman that disposeth himself or herself,
to live contemplatively, if it be so
that he forsake himself as to his own will,
and offer up himself wholly to God
with a full general will,
that he will not sin in pride wittingly,
nor have any joy in himself wilfully,
but only in God, as far as he can, and may;
and notwithstanding after this full will offered up to God,
feeleth many stirrings of vain-glory,
and delighteth in them for the time
(because at the first he did not so well perceive them),
this liking is but venial sin, and,
namely, if it be so, that
when he cometh to himself
he reproveth himself,
and withstandeth this stirring
with displeasure of his will,
and asketh mercy and help of God;
then the liking which before was some sin,
our Lord of his mercy soon forgiveth it;
and moreover he shall have reward
for his good travail in withstanding it.

And this is a courtesy of our Lord,
granted to all those who are specially His servants
and domestics of His court,
as are all those that for His love forsake,
with a good true will,
all worldly and all fleshly sin,
and give themselves wholly both body and soul unto His service,
with all their might and cunning,
as do truly Anchorites enclosed,
and all truly religious persons,
who for the love of God and salvation of their own souls
enter into any religious order approved by holy Church.
Or else, if it be so,
that they enter first for worldly respects,
or for their bodily sustenance, or some other such;
if they repent them and turn it into a spiritual respect,
as for the service of God;
these as long as they keep this will and pursue it
as well as their frailty will permit,
are true religious persons.

Also, what man or woman soever he be;
in what degree soever he liveth in holy Church,
priest, clerk or layman,
widow, maid or wife
that will for the love of God
and salvation of his, or her, own soul
forsake all the worships and likings of this world,
in the world, in his or her heart
truly and fully betwixt God and themselves,
and all unnecessary business and earthly things,
even to what they have bare need of,
and offer up their will entirely to be His servants,
in the constant exercise of devout prayers and holy thoughts,
with other good deeds that they may do bodily and ghostly,
and keep their will whole to God stedfastly,
all such are God’s special servants in holy Church.
And for this good will and good purpose
that they have by the gift of God,
they shall increase in grace and in charity here
all their life long;
and they shall have for this special will
a special reward in the bliss of heaven
above other chosen souls,
who offered not wholly their will
and their body to God’s service,
neither openly nor privately as they did.
All these, whom I call God’s servants,
and of His court more specially,
if they, through frailty and ignorance,
when they feel such stirrings of vainglory,
for the time delight therein,
and perceive not that they do so,
for that their reason and senses are letted
through that liking which they feel,
so that they cannot so well see those stirrings,
they sin not deadly in this liking of vainglory.
For that will that they have in general
set in their heart before, to please God,
and to forsake all manner of sin,
if they knew it, keepeth them here,
that they sin not deadly in such stirrings,
and in all other that come of frailty,
and will keep them still
as long as the ground of that will is kept whole.

I say moreover for thy comfort,
and for the comfort of all others
who live in the state of Anchorets enclosed,
and also by God’s grace, for the comfort
of all them that enter into any religious order
approved in holy Church, that all those
who through the mercy of God among them shall be saved,
shall have a special reward,
and a singular worship in the bliss of heaven;
for their state of living before other souls
that had not that state in holy Church,
though they were never so holy;
which worship is better than
all the worship of this world
without comparison;
for if thou couldst see what it is,
thou wouldst not for the worship of this world,
if thou mightest have it without sin,
change thy state either of Anchoret or of religious,
neither lose that singular reward in heaven,
which reward is called the Accidental Reward.

Nevertheless, that other men
may not mistake this that I say,
therefore I shall say it more plainly.
Thou shalt understand that
there be two rewards in the bliss of heaven,
which our Lord giveth to chosen souls.
The one is Sovereign and Principal,
and is called the Essential Reward,
and that is the knowing and loving of God
according to the measure of charity
given by God to the soul while she lived
here in mortal body.
This reward is best and Sovereign,
for it is God Himself,
and is common to all the souls
that shall be saved,
in what state or degree soever
they live in holy Church,
more or less according to the quantity and the muchness
of their charity in this life,
what degree soever they live in.
For he that loveth God by charity most
shall have most reward in the bliss of heaven
for he shall there love God and know Him most
and that is the Sovereign, or Essential reward,
and according to this reward
it may and shall fall out,
that some manner of man or woman,
as a lord or a lady, knight or esquire,
merchant or ploughman, or what degree he be,
in man or Yeoman may and shall have more reward
than some priest or friar, monk or canon,
or Anchoret enclosed. And why so? Soothly,
because he loved God more in charity.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection [07 Sep 2005|11:46am]

Chapter Five

SECTION I: Of the Seven Deadly Sins, and first of Pride, what it is, and when it is a deadly Sin and when but venial

Part one

Pride is nothing else (as the learned say)
but love of thy own excellency,
that is, of thy own worship.
The more thou lovest and likest thine own honour,
the more thou hast of this pride;
the more thou hast of this image in thee.
If thou feel in thy heart a stirring of pride,
that thou art holier, wiser,
better and more virtuous than others,
that God hath given thee grace
to serve Him better than others do,
and thinkest all others beneath thee,
and thyself above them,
or any other thought of thyself,
which showeth to the eye of thy soul
an excellency and a surpassing of others,
and thou feelest a love and delight in this stirring,
and a vain pleasing in thyself, that indeed thou art so;
this is a token that thou bearest this black image,
which, though it be privy from the eyes of men,
yet it appeareth openly in God’s sight.

But thou sayest that thou canst not eschew
such stirrings of pride, for oft
thou feelest them against thy will,
and therefore thou holdest them no sin;
or, if they be sin, they be nought but venial.

As to this, I answer that
the feeling of these stirrings of pride,
or of any other sin, which spring either
out of the corruption of this foul image
or by incasting or suggestion of the enemy,
is no sin so far as to the feeling of them.
Nevertheless, when by negligence and thy own blindness
this feeling is received unwarily in thy thoughts,
and turned into love and liking,
then is there sin in it more or less
according to the measure of this love,
sometime venial and sometime deadly.

This is a grace and privilege
by virtue of Christ’s passion granted
to all Christians baptized in water and the Holy Ghost.
For verily to Jews and Saracens,
who believe not in Jesus Christ,
all such stirrings are deadly sins.
For St Paul saith:
Whatsoever is done without faith in Christ is sin.
But we Christians have this privilege through His mercy,
that such feelings are no sins, but the pain of original sin.

But when it is venial and when it is deadly
I cannot fully tell thee; nevertheless,
a little I shall say, as methinketh.
When the stirrings of pride are received
and turned into liking, so far that
the heart chooseth them for a full rest and a full delight,
and seeketh no other end, but only the liking therein,
then is this pride deadly sin;
for he maketh and chooseth this delight as his god,
without any opposing of his reason or will,
and therefore it is deadly sin.

But now, sayest thou, who is such a fool
as to choose pride for his God?
No man living, sure, will do so.
To this I answer that I cannot tell thee in special
who sinneth deadly in pride. But in general
I shall say that there be two sorts of pride,
one bodily and the other spiritual.
Bodily pride is of fleshly living men;
spiritual is of hypocrites and heretics.
These three sin deadly in pride;
I mean such fleshly living men as St Paul speaks of:
If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.
Then say I thus: That a worldly man
who loveth and seeketh principally the worship of himself,
and chooseth the liking of it as the rest of his heart,
and the end of his bliss, he sinneth deadly.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection [05 Sep 2005|03:21pm]

SECTION II: What the said Image of sin is, properly, and what cometh out of it

I have already told thee of this image, that it is nought,
Nevertheless, if thou canst not understand
how this should be an image,
seeing nought can be nothing else but nought,
and so for all my telling thou canst make nothing of it,
I shall therefore tell thee more plainly of this image as methinketh.

This image is a false inordinate love of thyself.
Out of this there come all manner of sins by seven rivers,
Which are these: pride, envy, anger, sloth,
covetousness, gluttony and lechery.
Lo, this is somewhat that thou mayest understand.
By some one of these rivers runneth out all manner of sin,
and putteth thee out of the state of charity, if it be a deadly sin;
or letteth the fervour of thy charity if it be venial.
Now mayest thou grope at least that
this image is not altogether nought; but it is much of bad,
for it is a great spring of love unto thyself,
with such rivers as I have said.

But now, sayest thou, how can this be true?
For I have forsaken the world, and am shut up in a monastery;
I meddle with no man, I chide not, I strive not,
I neither buy nor sell, I have no worldly business,
but by the mercy of God keep myself chaste,
and withhold me from delights.
And, besides this, I pray, I watch,
I labour bodily and ghostly, as well as I can;
how should this image then be so much in me as thou speakest of?

To this I answer, granting thee that
I hope thou dost all these works and more;
and yet may it be true as I say.
Thou art busy to thy power to stop these rivers without,
but the spring within perhaps thou leavest whole.
Thou art like to a man which had in his yard a stinking well,
with many runnings from it,
who went and stopped the runnings,
and left the spring whole, and thought all was well;
but the water sprang up at the ground of the well,
and stood still insomuch that it corrupted
all the fairness of his garden,
and yet did no water run out.
Right so may it be with thee,
if it be so that thou hast by grace
stopped the rivers of this image without,
so far that all is done well,
but beware of the spring within;
surely unless thou stop and cleanse that
as much as thou canst,
it will corrupt all the flowers of the garden of thy soul,
show they never so fair outwardly in sight of men.

But now, sayest thou, whereby shall I know
that the ground is stopped, if I go about it?
As to this I shall tell thee, how by trying and experience
thou shalt know this image if it be in thee,
and how much it is in thee, and thereby
shalt thou know how much it is stopped in thee,
and how little also.
And inasmuch as pride is the principal river,
I shall begin with it.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection [01 Sep 2005|12:14pm]

Chapter Four, Section One: Of the Ground and Image of Sin in us, which is first to be found out and laboured against, and how it is to be done

Thou hast heard already what thy soul is,
and what dignity and beauty it had, and how it lost it,
and also how it may by grace and busy travail
be somewhat recovered again,
in feeling, in part in this life.
Now I shall tell thee (according to my feeble ability)
how thou mayest enter into thyself to see the ground of sin,
and destroy it as much as thou canst,
and so recover a part of thy soul’s dignity.

To do this thou shalt cease for a time from all bodily works,
and from all outward business as much as thou canst,
then shalt thou draw thy whole thought into thyself
from all thy bodily senses, which thou must hold in
and restrain from wandering forth,
so that thou take no heed of anything
thou seest or hearest or feelest,
and after this draw in thy thoughts nearer
from all imaginations of any bodily deeds
done before by thee, or of any other men’s deeds;
and this is not difficult to be done at that time
when thou hast devotion, but thou must do it
also when thou hast no such devotion,
and then it will be somewhat difficult.
And set thy intent and full purpose,
as if thou wouldst not seek nor find anything
but only the grace and spiritual presence of Jesus.

This will be painful; for vain thoughts
will press into thy heart very thick,
to draw thy mind down to them.
And in doing thus thou shalt find somewhat,
but not Jesus whom thou seekest,
but only a naked remembrance of His name.
But what then shalt thou find.
Surely this: a dark and ill-favoured image of thy own soul,
which hath neither light of knowledge nor feeling of love of God.
This image, if thou behold it heedfully,
is all inwrapped and clothed with black stinking rags of sin,
as pride, envy, anger, covetousness, gluttony, sloth and luxury.
This is not the image of Jesus, but the image of sin,
which St Paul calleth a body of sin and of death.
This image and this black shadow
thou bearest about with thee wheresoever thou goest;
out of this spring many great streams of sin, and small ones also.
Just as out of the image of Jesus,
if it be reformed in thee,
beams of spiritual light will spring
and ascend up towards heaven
burning desires, pure affections, wise thoughts
and all comeliness of virtues.
Even so out of this image spring stirrings
of pride, of envy and such other,
which cast thee down from the comeliness of a man into a beast’s likeness.

Peradventure now thou beginnest to think with thyself
what this image is like,
and that thou shouldst not study much upon it,
I will tell thee. It is like no bodily thing.
What is it then, sayest thou?
Verily it is nought, or no real thing,
as thou shalt find, if thou try
by doing as I have spoken;
that is, draw in thy thoughts into thyself
from all bodily things, and then shalt thou find
right nought wherein thy soul may rest.

This nothing is nought else but darkness of conscience,
and a lacking of the love of God and of light;
as sin is nought but a want of good,
if it were so that the ground of sin
was much abated and dried up in thee,
and thy soul was reformed right to the image of Jesus;
then if thou didst draw into thyself thy heart,
thou shouldst not find this nought,
but thou shouldst find Jesus;
not only the naked remembrance of this name,
but Jesus Christ in thy soul readily teaching thee;
thou shouldst there find light of understanding
and no darkness of ignorance,
a love and liking of Him, and no pain of bitterness,
heaviness or tediousness of Him.
But because thou art not reformed,
therefore when thy soul draweth into herself
from all bodily things and delights,
thou findest nothing but emptiness, darkness and heaviness;
so that thou thinkest it an hundred years
till thou be out again to some bodily delight or vain thoughts,
and it is no wonder; for he that cometh home to his house,
and findeth nothing but stink and smoke, and a chiding wife,
he will quickly run out of it.
Even so thy soul, finding no comfort in itself,
but black smoke of spiritual blindness,
or great chiding of guilty or fleshly thoughts,
crying upon thee that thou canst not be in peace,
verily it will quickly be weary of being alone and recollected,
until it be out again. And this is the darkness of conscience.

Nevertheless, in this dark conscience
it behoves him to labour and sweat;
that is to say, it behoveth thee
to draw thy thoughts into thyself
from all bodily things as much as thou canst,
and then when thou findest right nought but sorrow and pain,
and blindness in this darkness,
if thou wilt find Jesus,
thou must suffer the pain of this dark conscience,
and abide awhile therein.
And here also thou must beware
that thou take Jesus Christ into thy thoughts
against this darkness in thy mind,
by busy prayer and fervent desire to God,
not setting the point of thy thoughts
on that aforesaid nought,
but on Jesus Christ whom thou desirest.
Think stiffly on His Passion and on His humility,
and through His might thou shalt arise.
Do as if thou wouldst beat down this dark image,
and go through-stitch with it.
Thou shalt hate and loathe this darkness,
and this nought, just as the devil,
and thou shalt despise and all to break it.
For within this nought is Jesus hid in His joy,
whom thou shalt not find with all thy seeking,
unless thou pass this darkness of conscience.

This is the ghostly travail I spake of,
and the cause of all this writing is
to stir thee thereto, if thou have grace.
This darkness of conscience and this nought
is the image of the first Adam.
St Paul knew it well, for he said thus of it:
As we have before borne the image of the earthly man,
that is the first Adam, right so
that we might now bear the image of the heavenly man,
which is Jesus, the second Adam.
St Paul bore this image oft full heavily,
for it was so cumbersome to him that he cried out of it,
saying thus: O who shall Deliver me
from this body and this image of death?
And then he comforted himself and others also thus:
The grace of God through Jesus Christ.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection [31 Aug 2005|08:18pm]

Chapter Three, SECTION II: That this Dignity and Image is restored by Jesus, and how He is to be desired, sought and found; part two

Be thou, then, like the woman in the Gospel,
of whom our Lord saith: What woman is there,
that hath lost her groat and doth not light a candle,
and turn her house upside down, and seek till she finds it?
As who should say, there is none but would do so.
And when she hath found it, she calleth to her friends,
and saith to them thus: Make mirth with me and melody,
for I have found my groat which I had lost.
This groat is Jesus which thou hast lost,
and if thou wilt find Him, light up a lanthorn,
that is God’s Word, as David saith:
Thy Word is a lanthorn to my feet.
By this lanthorn shalt thou see where He is,
and how to find Him. And if thou wilt,
thou mayest together with this, light up another lanthorn,
that is the reason of thy soul. For as our Lord saith:
The lanthorn (or light) of thy body is thy bodily eye.
Right so may it be said, that the lanthorn of thy soul is reason,
by the which thy soul may see all spiritual things.
By this lanthorn mayest thou find Jesus,
that is if thou hold up this lanthorn from underneath the bushel,
as our Lord saith: No man lighteth a (candle or) lanthorn
to set it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick.
That is to say, thy reason must not be overlaid
with earthly business, or vain thoughts, and earthly affections,
but always upwards, above all vain thoughts and earthly things
as much as thou canst. If thou do so,
thou shalt see all the dust, all the filth and small motes in thy house
(for He is light itself), that is to say, all fleshly loves and fears in thy soul.
I mean not perfectly all; for as David saith:
Who knoweth all his trespasses?
As who should say, no man.
And thou shalt cast out of thy heart all such sins,
and sweep thy soul clean with the besom of the fear of God,
and wash it with thy tears, and so shalt thou find thy groat, Jesus;
He is thy groat, thy penny, thy heritage.

This groat will not be found so easily as ‘tis thought,
for this work is not of one hour nor of one day,
but many days and years, with much sweat and labour of body and travail of soul.
And if thou cease not, but seek busily,
sigh and sorrow deeply,
mourn stilly, and stoop low,
till thine eyes water for anguish and for pain,
for that thou hast lost thy treasure Jesus,
at the last (when His will is) well shalt thou find thy groat Jesus.
When thou hast found Him, as I have said,
that is when in purity of conscience
[thou] feelest the familiar and peaceful presence
of that blessed man Jesus Christ,
at least a shadow or glimmering of Him;
thou mayest, if thou wilt, call all thy friends to thee
to make mirth with thee and melody,
for that thou hast found thy groat Jesus.

See then the mercy and courtesy of Jesus.
Thou hast lost Him, but where?
Soothly in thy house, that is to say, in thy soul,
that if thou hadst lost all thy reason of thy soul by its first sin,
thou shouldst never have found Him again;
but He left thee thy reason,
and so He is still in thy soul,
and never is quite lost out of it.

Nevertheless thou art never the nearer Him
till thou hast found Him.
He is in thee, though He be lost from thee;
but thou art not in Him till thou hast found Him.
This is His mercy also, that He would suffer Himself
to be lost only there, where He may be found,
so that thou needest not run to Rome,
nor to Jerusalem to seek Him there,
but turn thy thoughts into thy own soul where He is hid,
as the Prophet saith: Truly thou art the hidden God,
hid in thy soul, and seek Him there.
Thus saith He Himself in the Gospel:
The Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a treasure hid in the field,
the which when a man findeth, for joy thereof,
he goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Jesus is a treasure hid in the soul.
Then if thou couldst find Him in thy soul, and thy soul in Him,
I am sure for joy thereof thou wouldst part with
the liking of all earthly things to have Him.
Jesus sleepeth in thy heart spiritually,
as He did sometime bodily when He was in the ship
with His disciples; but they, for fear of perishing,
wakened Him, and soon after He saved them from a tempest.
Do thou so, stir Him up by prayer,
and waken Him with great crying of desire,
and He will soon rise and help thee.

Nevertheless I believe thou sleepest oftener to Him
than He doth to thee; for He calleth thee full oft
with His sweet, secret voice, and stirreth thy heart full stilly,
that thou shouldst leave all other jangling of other vanities in thy soul,
and hearken only to Him.
Thus saith David in the person of our Lord:
Hear, O daughter, and consider; incline thine ear,
and forget thy own people and thy father’s house.
That is, forget the people of thy worldly thoughts,
and the house of thy fleshly and natural affections.
Here thou seest how our Lord calleth thee,
and all others that will hearken to Him.
And what hindereth thee that thou canst neither see nor hear Him?
Soothly there is so much din and noise in thy heart
of vain thoughts and fleshly desires,
that thou canst neither hear Him nor see Him?
Therefore put away those unquiet noises,
and destroy the love of sin and vanity,
and bring into thy heart the love of virtues and full charity,
and then shalt thou hear thy Lord speak to thee.

As long as Jesus findeth not His image reformed in thee,
He is strange, and the farther from thee;
therefore frame and shape thyself to be arrayed in His likeness,
that is in humility and charity, which are His liveries,
and then will He know thee,
and familiarly come to thee,
and acquaint thee with His secrets.
Thus saith He to His disciples:
Whoso loveth Me, he shall be loved of My Father,
and I will manifest Myself unto him.
There is not any virtue nor any good work
that can make thee like to our Lord without humility and charity,
for these two above all others are most acceptable to Him,
which appeareth plainly in the gospel,
where our Lord speaketh of humility thus:
Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble in heart.
He saith not, Learn of me to go barefoot,
or to go into the desert, and there to fast forty days,
nor yet to choose to yourselves disciples (as I did),
but learn of Me meekness, for I am meek and lowly in heart.
Also of charity He saith thus:
This is My commandment, that ye love one another
as I loved you, for by that men shall know you for My disciples.
Not that you work miracles, or cast out devils, or preach, or teach,
but that each one of you love one another in charity.
If therefore thou wilt be like Him, have humility and charity,
Now thou knowest what charity is,
namely, To love thy neighbour as thyself.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection [30 Aug 2005|06:27pm]

Chapter Three, SECTION II: That this Dignity and Image is restored by Jesus, and how He is to be desired, sought and found; part one

Seek, then, that which thou hast lost,
that thou mayest find it; for well I wot,
whosoever once hath an inward sight,
but a little of that dignity and that spiritual fairness
which a soul hath by creation, and shall have again by grace,
he will loathe in his heart all the bliss, the liking and the fairness
of this world, as the stink of carrion;
and he will never have any will or mind to do other deed, night or day (
save what mere need of nature requireth)
but desire, mourn, seek, and pray how he may come again thereto.

Nevertheless inasmuch as thou hast not as yet seen what it is fully,
for thy spiritual eye is not yet opened, I shall tell thee one word for all,
in the which thou shalt seek, desire and find it;
for in that one word is all that thou hast lost.
This word is Jesus:
I mean not this word Jesus painted upon the wall,
as written in letters on the book,
or formed by lips in sound of the mouth,
or framed in thy mind by imagination,
for in this wise may a man that is void of charity find Him;
but I mean Jesus Christ, that blessed Person,
God and Man, Son of the Virgin Mary,
whom this name betokeneth;
that is all goodness, endless wisdom, love and sweetness,
thy joy, thy glory, and thy everlasting bliss,
thy God, thy Lord, and thy salvation.

If, then, thou feelest a great desire in thy heart to Jesus,
either by calling to mind this name Jesus,
or by minding, or thinking, or saying of any other word;
or in Prayer, or Meditation, or any other deed which thou dost;
which desire is so much, that it putteth out, as it were, by force
all other thoughts and desires of the world, and of the flesh,
that they rest not in thy heart; then seekest thou well thy Lord Jesus.
And when thou feelest this desire to God, or to Jesus (for it is all one),
holpen and comforted by a ghostly might, insomuch that it is turned into love,
affection, and spiritual savour and sweetness,
into light and knowing of truth, so that for the time,
the point of thy thought is set upon no other created thing,
nor feeleth any stirring of vainglory, nor of self-love,
nor any other evil affection (for they cannot appear at that time),
but this thy desire is only enclosed, rested, softened, suppled,
and anointed in Jesus, then hast thou found somewhat of Jesus;
I mean not Him as He is, but a shadow of Him;
for the better that thou findest Him,
the more shalt thou desire Him.
Then observe by what manner of prayer, or meditation,
or exercise of devotion thou findest greatest and purest desire
stirred up in thee to Him, and most feeling of Him,
by that kind of prayer, exercise or work seekest thou Him best,
and shalt best find Him. Therefore if it come into thy mind,
asking as it were of thyself: What has thou lost, and what seekest thou?
lift up thy mind and the desire of thy heart to Jesus Christ,
though thou be blind, and canst see nought of His Godhead,
and say that: Him hast thou lost, and Him wouldst thou have,
and nothing but Him, to be with Him where His is.
No other joy, no other bliss in Heaven or in earth, but Him.

And though it be so, that thou feelest Him in devotion,
or in knowing, or by any other gift or grace, rest not there,
as though thou hadst fully found Jesus;
but forget that which thou hast found,
and always be desiring after Jesus more and more,
to find Him better, as though thou hadst right nought found in Him.
For wot thou well, that what thou feelest of Him, be it never so much,
yea, though thou wert ravished with St Paul into the third heaven,
yet hast thou not found Jesus as He is in His joy,
know thou, or feel thou never so much of Him,
He is still above it. And therefore,
if thou wilt fully find Him, as He is in His joy,
do thou never cease from spiritual desiring and loving of Him, whilst thou livest.

Verily I had rather feel and have a true and clean desire
in my heart to my Lord Jesus Christ,
though I see little of Him with my spiritual eye,
than to have without this desire all the bodily penance of all men living,
all visions, all revelations of Angels appearing,
all songs and sounding to the ear, all tastes and smellings,
fervours or any delights, or bodily feelings, and (to be brief)
all the joys of heaven and earth which are possible to be had,
without this desire to my Lord Jesus.
David the Prophet felt (as I conceive) this desire in himself,
when he said thus: What have I in Heaven but Thee,
and what can I desire on earth besides Thee?
As if he had said, Lord Jesus,
what heavenly joy is liking to me without desire of Thee,
whilst I am on earth, or without love of Thee
when I come to Heaven?
As who should say, right none.
If, then, thou wilt feel anything of Him, bodily or spiritually,
covet nothing but only to feel in truth within thee
a desire of His grace and of His merciful presence,
so that thou mayest think that it is not possible for thy heart
to find any rest in anything but in Him.
Thus coveted David, when he said thus:
My soul hath coveted, or longed after, the desire of thy righteousness at all times.
Seek, then, as David did, desire by desire.
And if thou feelest, by thy desire in prayers and in meditations,
the familiar presence of Jesus Christ in thy soul,
bind thy heart fast thereto, that it fall not from it;
and if thou shouldst stumble,
that thou mayest soon find Him again.

Seek, then, Jesus, whom thou hast lost,
for He would be sought, and is desirous to be found,
for He Himself saith: Every one that seeketh findeth.
The seeking is painful, but the finding is joyful;
do, therefore, after the counsel of the wise man,
if thou wilt find Him: If thou shalt seek wisdom (that is Jesus) like silver,
and as treasures shalt dig her up,
then shalt thou understand the fear of our Lord,
and shalt find the knowledge of God.
It behoveth thee to delve deep in thy heart,
for therein Jesus is hid,
and cast out perfectly all loves and likings,
sorrows and fears of all earthly things,
and so shalt thou find wisdom, that is Jesus.
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ADMIN: Apologies [30 Aug 2005|10:46am]

I am sorry for the hiatus in posting. I assure you, I haven't given up on this project; it's just that I am accustomed to post from work, and for the past week, the computer I normally use has been dead. I haven't been able to do any *work*, let alone anything else. I will make an effort to post from home starting this evening. Thank you for your patience.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection [22 Aug 2005|02:20pm]

Chapter Three, section one: That a Man should be industrious to recover again his ancient Dignity and reform within him the Image of the Trinity, and how it may be done

Nevertheless, though this that I have said be true,
through the endless mercy of God to thee and to me and to all mankind
we are not, therefore, in confidence hereof to be more careless,
or wilfully negligent in our living;
but the more busy to please Him,
and the rather, because now we are restored again in hope
by the passion of our Lord, to the dignity and bliss
which we had lost by Adam’s sin.
Though we should prove not to be able
to recover it fully here in this life,
yet should we desire and endeavour
to recover the image and likeness of the dignity we had,
so that our soul might be reformed, as it were in a shadow,
by grace to the image of the Trinity which we had by nature,
and hereafter shall have fully in bliss.
For that is the life which is truly contemplative to begin here,
in that feeling of love and spiritual knowing of God,
by opening of the spiritual eye,
which shall never be lost nor taken away,
but shall be perfected in a far higher manner in heaven.
Thus did our Lord promise to St Mary Magdalen
(that was a true Contemplative)
when He told her that she had chosen the better part
which was the love of God in Contemplation)
that should never be taken from her.

I do not say that in this life
thou canst recover so whole and so perfect
a cleanness and innocency,
knowing and loving of God,
as thou hadst at first,
and shalt have hereafter,
neither mayest escape all the wretchedness and pains of sin;
nor that thou living in mortal flesh
canst wholly destroy and kill within thee all false vain loves,
nor eschew all venial sins,
but that they will (unless they be stopped by great fervour of charity)
spring out of thy heart, as water doth out of a stinking well.
But I wish that if thou canst not fully quench it,
yet thou mayest somewhat slack it,
and come as near as thou canst to cleanness of soul.
For our Lord promised to the children of Israel,
when He led them into the land of Promise,
and in them by a figure to all Christians, saying:
All the land which thy foot shall tread upon shall be thine.
That is to say, so much land as thou canst tread upon
with thy foot of true desire,
so much shalt thou have in the land of Promise,
namely, in the bliss of Heaven, when thou comest thither.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection [19 Aug 2005|12:07pm]

Chapter Two, part two

But thou wilt object:
If this be true that thou sayest,
I wonder greatly at that which I find
in some holy men’s books,
for some say (as I understand them)
that he that cannot love this blessed Name Jesus
nor find and feel in it spiritual joy and delight with sweetness,
shall be a stranger to the bliss of Heaven, and never come there.
Verily when I read these words,
they astonished me, making me afraid.
For I hope (as you have said) that
through the mercy of our Lord they shall be safe,
by keeping of the commandments
and by true repentance for their former evil life,
who never felt any such spiritual sweetness, in the Name of Jesus,
and therefore I marvel the more, to find them say
(as me thinketh) the contrary hereto.

To this I answer that (in my opinion)
their saying (if it be well understood) is true,
and no whit contrary to what I have said,
for this Name Jesus is nothing else in English but healer or health.
Now every man that liveth in this wretched life is spiritually sick,
for there is no man that liveth without sin,
which is a spiritual sickness,
as St John saith of himself,
and of other perfect men thus:
If we say we have no sin,
we beguile ourselves,
and there is as no truth in us.
Therefore he can never come to the joy of Heaven,
till he be first healed of this ghostly sickness.
But this spiritual healing may no man have
(that hath the use of reason)
except he desire it, and love it, and have delight therein,
inasmuch as he hopeth to get it.
Now the Name of Jesus is nothing else
but this spiritual health;
wherefore it is true that they say,
that no man can be safe,
unless he love and like the Name of Jesus;
for no man can be spiritually healed,
until he love and desire spiritual health;
just as if a man were bodily sick,
there could no earthly thing be so dear,
nor so needful to him,
nor so much would he desire it,
as bodily health; for though
thou shouldst give him all the dignities and riches of this world,
and not make him whole (if thou couldst), thou pleaseth him not.
Right so it is to a man that is sick spiritually,
and feeleth the pain thereof;
nothing is so dear, nor so needful,
nor so much coveted by him,
as is ghostly health, and that is Jesus,
without whom all the joys of Heaven cannot please him.
And this is the reason (as I take it)
why our Lord when He took man’s nature upon Him
for our salvation, would not be called by a name
betokening His infinite essence,
or His wisdom, or His justice,
but only by that which betokened the cause of His coming,
namely, the salvation of man’s soul,
which salvation this name Jesus betokened.
Hereby, then, it appeareth that none can be saved
unless he love salvation, to have it
through the mercy of our Lord Jesus only,
by the merits of His passion;
which love he may have that liveth and dieth
in the very lowest degree of charity.

Also I may affirm on the other side,
that he that cannot love this blessed name Jesus
with a spiritual joy, nor increase in it
with heavenly melody here, shall never have nor feel
in Heaven the fulness of sovereign joy,
which he that could so love it in this life
by abundance of perfect charity in Jesus
shall then have and feel in Heaven,
and so may their saying be understood.

Nevertheless he shall be saved,
and have great reward in Heaven from God,
whosoever in this life is in the lowest degree of charity
by keeping God’s commandments.
For our Lord saith:
In My Father’s house are sundry mansions.
Some are perfect souls, who in this life
are filled with charity and graces of the Holy Spirit,
and sing most sweetly and lovingly to God in Contemplation of Him,
with wonderful sweetness and heavenly savour.
These because they have most charity and grace of the Holy Ghost
shall have the highest reward in the bliss of heaven,
for these are called God’s darlings.
Others there be, not disposed or enabled to Contemplation,
nor having the perfection of charity
(as the apostles and martyrs had in the beginning of the holy Church),
these shall have a lower reward in the bliss of Heaven,
for these are called God’s friends,
for thus doth our Lord call them:
Eat, O My friends, and be inebriated, O My darlings.
As if He had said: Ye that are My friends,
because ye have kept My commandments,
and preferred My love before the love of the world,
and loved me more than any earthly thing,
ye shall be fed with the spiritual food of the Bread of life.
But ye that are more than My friends,
that not only kept My commandments,
but also of your own free will fulfilled My counsels,
and loved Me entirely with all the powers of your souls,
and burned in My love with spiritual delight
(as especially did the apostles and martyrs
and all other souls that through grace
came to the gift of perfection)
ye shall be made drunken
with the noblest and freshest wine in My cellar,
which is the supreme joy of love in heaven.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection [17 Aug 2005|11:21am]

CHAPTER II: Of the Worthiness and Excellency of the Soul and how it was lost, part one

The soul of a man is a life consisting of three powers,
Memory, Understanding and Will,
after the image and likeness of the Blessed Trinity;
inasmuch as the Memory was made strong and stedfast
by the power of the Father
to hold and retain God in perpetual remembrance,
without forgetting, distracting or letting of any creature,
and so it hath the likeness of the Father.
The Understanding was made bright and clear,
without error or darkness,
as perfectly as a soul in a body unglorified could have,
and so it hath the likeness and image of the Son,
who is infinite wisdom.
The Will and affections were made pure and clean,
burning in love towards God, without sensual love of the flesh
or of any creature by the sovereign goodness of God the Holy Ghost,
and so it hath the likeness of the Holy Ghost,
which is blessed love.
Whereby you may see that man’s soul
(which may be called a created Trinity)
was in its natural estate replenished in its three powers
with the remembrance, sight and love
of the most blessed uncreated Trinity, which is God.

This was the dignity and worth of man’s soul
by nature at his first creation,
which thou hadst in Adam before the first sin.
But when Adam sinned, choosing love and delight
in himself and in the creatures,
he lost all his excellency and dignity,
and thou, also, in him,
and fell from that Blessed Trinity
into a foul, dark, wretched trinity;
that is to say, into forgetting of God and ignorance of himself,
and into a beastly love and liking of himself,
and all this he did wittingly and willingly.
For, as David saith in the Psalter:
Man being in honour understood it not,
and, therefore, he lost it, and became like a beast.

See then the wretchedness of thy soul,
for as the Memory was something established and fixed upon God,
so now it hath forgotten Him and seeketh its rest in the creatures,
now in one creature and then in another,
and never can find full rest,
having lost Him in whom is full rest.
So it is with the Understanding and the Will and affections,
both which were pure in spiritual favour and sweetness
but now is turned into a foul, beastly lust and liking
in itself and in the creatures and in fleshly favours,
both in the senses as in gluttony and lechery;
and in the imagination, as in pride,
vain-glory and covetousness,
insomuch that thou canst do no good deed
but it is defiled with vain-glory;
nor canst thou easily make use of any of thy five senses
cleanly upon anything that is pleasant,
but thy heart will be taken and enflamed
with a vain lust and liking of it,
which putteth out the love of God from thy heart,
so that no feeling of love or spiritual favour may come into it.

Every man that liveth in spirit understandeth well all this.
This is the soul’s wretchedness and our mischief
for the first man’s sin besides all other wretchedness and sins
which thou hast wilfully added thereto. And know thou well that
hadst thou never committed any sin with is thy body,
either mortal or venial, but only this which is called original
(for that is the first sin, and is nothing else
but the losing of our righteousness which we were created in),
thou shouldst never have been saved,
had not our Lord Jesus Christ by His precious Passion delivered thee,
and restored thee again.

And, therefore, if thou think I have herein spoken too high,
because thou canst neither understand it well,
nor practise it according as I have delivered,
I will now descend to thee,
and fall as low as thou canst desire,
both for thy profit and my own.
Then say thus: though thou be never so much a wretch,
and hast committed never so great sins,
do but forsake thyself and all thy works done,
both good and bad, and cry God mercy,
and ask salvation only by virtue of this precious Passion,
and that with a good trust, and without doubt thou shalt have it.
And as for original sin, and all other thou shalt be safe,
yea, as safe as an anchoret that is enclosed.
And not only thou, but all Christian souls
that trust upon His Passion and humble themselves,
acknowledging their wretchedness,
asking mercy and forgiveness,
and the fruit of this precious Passion only,
and submitting themselves to the Sacraments of holy Church,
though it be so that they have been
encumbered with sin all their lifetime,
and never had feeling of spiritual favour or sweetness,
or ghostly knowledge of God,
yet shall they in this faith,
and in their good will, by virtue of
this precious Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ be safe,
and come to the bliss of Heaven.

All this thou knowest well,
but yet it delights me to recite and speak of it,
that thou mayest see the endless mercy of our Lord,
how low He falleth to thee and to me and to all sinful caitiffs;
ask mercy therefore, and have it.
Thus saith the Prophet in the person of our Lord:
Every one that calleth upon the Name of our Lord shall be saved;
that is to say, asketh salvation by Jesus and His Passion.

This courtesy of our Lord some men understand aright,
and are saved thereby,
and others in trust of this mercy and this courtesy
lie still in their sins,
and think to have the benefit of it when they list,
but they are mistaken, for they are taken ere they are aware,
and so damn themselves.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection, Part Three [16 Aug 2005|12:01pm]

CHAPTER I: Of the Knowledge of a Man’s Soul and the Powers thereof necessary to Contemplation

There is one work more very needful and expedient to travail,
in which I esteem also to be the plain highway in our working
(as much as may be) to Contemplation: and that is,
for a man to enter into himself,
to know his own soul and the powers thereof.

By this inward sight thou shalt come to see
the nobility and dignity that naturally it had in its first creation;
and thou shalt also see the wretchedness and the mischief
which thou art fallen into by sin.
From this sight will arise a desire with great longing in thine heart
to recover again that dignity and nobleness which thou hast lost.
Also thou shalt feel a loathing and detestation of thyself,
with a great will and desire to destroy and beat down
thyself and all things that let thee from that dignity and that joy.
This is a spiritual work, hard and sharp in the beginning,
for those that will go speedily and seriously about it.
For it is an exercise in the soul against the ground of all sins,
little and great, which ground is nought else
but a false mistrusted love of man to himself.
Out of this love, as St Austin saith,
springeth all manner of sin, deadly and venial.

Verily until this ground be well ransacked and deep digged,
and as it were dried up by casting out
of all fleshly and worldly loves and fears,
a soul can never spiritually feel the burning love of Jesus Christ
nor have the homeliness of His gracious presence,
nor have a clear sight of spiritual things
by light in the understanding.
This then must be the travail and labour of a man,
to draw his heart and mind from the fleshly love and liking
of all earthly creatures,
from vain thoughts and from fleshly imaginations
and from the love and vicious feeling of himself,
so that the soul shall or may find or take no rest
in any fleshly thoughts or worldly affections.
Then inasmuch as the soul cannot as yet find
her spiritual rest and satisfaction in the sight and love of Jesus,
therefore it must needs be that in the meanwhile
she must find and feel some pain and wearisomeness.

This pain and travail is somewhat strait and narrow,
nevertheless I hope it is the way which Christ teacheth
to them that would be His perfect lovers in the Gospel, saying:
Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for strait is the gate,
and narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few men find it.
How strait this way is, He telleth us in another place:
Whoso will come after me,
let him forsake himself and hate his own soul.
That is to say, forsake all fleshly love and hate his own carnal life
and vain liking of all his bodily senses for love of Me;
and take the cross, that is suffer the pain of this awhile
and then follow Me; that is to say, in Contemplation
of My Humanity and of My Divinity.
This is a strait and narrow way that no bodily thing can pass through it,
for it is a slaying of all sin, as St Paul saith:
Mortify your members that are upon earth,
not the members of our body but of our soul,
as uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, avarice,
fond love to ourselves and earthly things.
Therefore as thy endeavour has been heretofore
to resist bodily sins and open temptations of the enemy,
and that in matters as it were from without;
right so it behoveth thee now,
in this spiritual work within thyself,
to batter down and destroy the ground of sin in thyself
as much as thou canst.
Which that thou mayest be better able to perform,
I shall give thee the best counsel I can.
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Quote of the Day: The Scale of Perfection, Part Two [13 Aug 2005|11:51am]

CHAPTER III: That a Man should know the measure of his Gift, that he may desire and take a better when God giveth it

Our holy Fathers heretofore taught us
that we should know the measure of our gift,
and therefore to work upon it, and according to it,
and not take upon us, out of our head or imagination,
to have more in our feeling or ability than indeed we have.
We may ever desire the best,
but we may not ever work the best or our utmost,
because we have not yet received that grace and ability.
A hound that runneth after the hare
only because he seeth other hounds run,
when he is weary, he stayeth and resteth,
or turneth home again; but if he run
because he seeth or is in view of the hare,
he will not spare for weariness till he have caught her.
Right so it is in the spiritual course,
whoso hath grace, be it never so little,
and wittingly leaveth it, and the working upon it,
and putteth himself to the exercise or practice of another kind,
for which he hath not as yet received a gift or grace,
but doth it only because he seeth, readeth,
or heareth that some others do so,
he may perhaps run awhile till he be weary
and then will he turn home again,
and if he be not the more wary,
may hurt his feet with such fancies before he get home.
But he that continueth working upon such grace as he hath,
and humbly beggeth by prayer perseverantly for more,
and after feeleth his heart stirred
to follow after the grace which he desired,
he may securely run, if he keep himself humble.
Therefore, desire of God as much as thou wilt or canst,
without measure or moderation at all
concerning any thing that belongs to His love or Heaven’s bliss,
for he that can desire most of God shall feel and receive most;
but work as thou mayest and cry God mercy,
for that thou canst not do.
Thus St Paul seems to mean, when he said:
Every one hath a proper gift of God, one so, and another so.
Also, when he said: There are varieties of gifts,
to one is given the word of wisdom,
to another the word of knowledge, etc.
And also when he said:
To every one of us is given grace,
according to the measure of the donation of Christ.
And further, where he said:
That we may know the things that are given us by God.
He saith that every one hath his gift of God:
For to every man that shall be saved is given
a grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Therefore it is speedful that we know the gifts
that are given us by God, that we may work in them,
for by those we shall be saved, as some by bodily works,
and by deeds of mercy, some by great bodily penance,
some by sorrow and weeping for their sins all their lifetime,
some by preaching and teaching, some by divers graces and gifts of devotion
shall be saved and come to bliss.
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