Monday, January 21, 2008

Imitation Of Christ - On Compunction of Heart

The Imitation Of Christ

Book 1: Admissions For A Spiritual Life

Chapter 21
On Compunction Of Heart

If You want to make progress, keep your soul in the fear of God and never wish to be completely free. Discipline your senses and never indulge in hilarity.
Have sorrow for your sins and you will find interior peace. Repentance opens the way to many blessings, which dissipation soon destroys. It is a wonder that any of us can be wholly contented in this life when we think of our exile from God and of the daily dangers our soul faces. But because of frivolity and the negligence of our defects we are unaware of the misery of our own soul. Often we laugh when we ought to weep, for there is no perfect freedom nor real joy except in the fear of God and in a good conscience.

Those are truly happy who have the grace to rid themselves of temptation to distractions and turn to God by sincere contrition. Those, too, are happy who avoid the things that only give them a troubled conscience. Fight hard against your sins; bad habits are overcome by good habits. Do not make excuses that others hinder you; for if you let them alone, they will let you alone to do what you must.k Do not mind other people's business and do not become involved in the affairs of great persons. keep an eye on your own self and reprove yourself rather than your friends. Do not be upset if you are not in the favour of the worldly-minded; but rather be sorry that your behaviour is not that of a devout servant of God.

It is far better for a person to lack consolations in this life, particularly those of the flesh. If we receive little or no spiritual consolations it is our own fault (though sometimes the lack of them is a test of our faith); for we do not have true compunction of heart, nor do we refrain altogether from seeking consolations from without.

Realize that you are unworthy of supernatural consolations, but instead deserve tribulation. The comforts of the world are distasteful to those who have perfect contrition for their sins. Good people always find enough reason to have sorrow and to weep; for whether they look at themselves or think about their neighbour, they realize that no one lives in the world free from affliction; and the more thoroughly they look into thier own hearts, the deeper will be their sorrow. But the cause for real grief and contrition is the remembrance of our sins, in which we are so enmeshed that we can hardly think about spiritual matters.

If you would think more often about death than of a long life, you would be more eager to amend your life. If you thought seriously about the pains of hell or purgatory, you would gladly endure pain and labour, and no hardship would seem too much for you. But since these things do not penetrate the heart and wee still love the false pleasures of this world, we tend to be cold and indifferent.

It is the weakness of the spirit that often makes our wretched bodies complain for the slightest reason. Therefore, humbly pray to God, that in His merciful goodness He will give you the spirit of penance, and in hte words of the Prophet say to Him: Feed me, O Lord, "with the bread of tears" and give me "tears to drink beyoud measure" (Ps 80:6).

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