Friday, July 3, 2009

On Cleaving to God: Part 14 of 16

That we should seek the verdict of our conscience in every decision

While we should strive for spiritual perfection of mind, purity and
peace in God, it will be found to be not a little beneficial to this
that we should return quietly into the inner secret place of the mind
in the face of everything said, thought or done to us. There, withdrawn
from everything else and completely recollected within ourselves, we
can place ourselves in the knowledge of the truth before us and
undoubtedly discover and understand that it does us absolutely no good,
and rather the contrary, when we are praised or honoured by others
while we recognise by the knowledge of the truth about ourselves within
that we are blameworthy and guilty. And just as nothing is any help if
externally people praise someone if his conscience internally accuses
him, in the same way on the contrary it does a man no harm to be
despised, maligned and persecuted when he remains internally just as
innocent, blameless and without fault. On the contrary he has all the
more good reason to rejoice in the Lord with patience, in peace and
silence. After all no adversity can do any harm where evil is not in
control, and just as no evil goes unpunished, so no good goes
unrewarded. Nor should we wish a reward with hypocrites or expect and
receive profit from men, but from the Lord God alone, not in the
present, but in the future, and not in fleeting time, but in eternity.
It is clear therefore that nothing is greater, and nothing better than
to enter into the inner secret place of the mind always and in every
tribulation and occurrence, and there to call upon the Lord Jesus
Christ himself, our helper in temptations and tribulations, and to
humble ourselves there by confession of sin, and praise God and Father
himself, the giver of correction and the giver of consolation.

Above all one should accept everything, in general and individually, in
oneself or in others, agreeable or disagreeable, with a prompt and
confident spirit, as coming from the hand of his infallible Providence
or the order he has arranged. This attitude will lead to the
forgiveness of our sins, the deliverance from bitterness, the enjoyment
of joy and security, the outpouring of grace and mercy, introduction
and establishment into a close relationship with God, abundant
enjoyment of his presence, and firm cleaving and union with him.

But let us not copy those who from hypocrisy and Pharisaism want to appear
better and different from what they are, and to make a better
impression and appearance before men of being something special, than
they know in truth inside to be so. For it is absolute madness to seek,
hunger for and aspire to human praise or renown, from oneself or
others, when one is in spite of it all inwardly full of cravings and
serious faults. And certainly the good things we have talked about
above will flee him who chases such vanities, and he will merely bring
disgrace on himself.

So always keep your faults and your own incapacity
before your eyes, and know yourself, so that you can be humbled and not
try to avoid being held as the lowest, vilest and most abject scum by
everyone when you are aware of the grave sins and serious faults in
yourself. For which reason consider yourself compared to others as
dross to gold, weeds to the wheat, chaff to the grain, a wolf to the
sheep, Satan to the children of God. And do not seek to be respected by
others and given precedence before others, but rather flee with all
your heart and soul the poison of this disease, the venom of praise,
the concern for boasting and vanity, lest, as the prophet says, The
wicked is praised in his own heart's desires, (Psalm 10.4) and Isaiah,
They who speak good of you, deceive you and destroy the way of your
feet, (Isaiah 3.12) and the Lord in Luke, Woe to you when men speak
well of you! (Luke 6.26).

You will find this lovely book from St. Albert of Jerusalem Here

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