IX. God Alone Unchangeable


Quo ego vado, non potes Me modo sequi, sequeris autem postea.
Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow hereafter

1. THOU alone, O my God, art what Thou ever hast been! Man changes. Thou art unchangeable; nay, even as man Thou hast ever been unchangeable, for Jesus is yesterday and today Himself, and for ever. Thy word endureth in heaven and earth. Thy decrees are fixed; Thy gifts are without repentance. Thy Nature, Thy Attributes, are ever the same. There ever was Father, ever Son, ever Holy Ghost. I adore Thee in the peace and serenity of Thy unchangeableness. I adore Thee in that imperturbable heaven, which is Thyself. Thou wast perfect from the first; nothing couldest Thou gain, and nothing mightest Thou lose. There was nothing that could touch Thee, because there was nothing but what Thou didst create and couldst destroy. Again, I adore Thee in this Thy infinite stability, which is the centre and stay of all created things.

2. Man on the contrary is ever changing. Not a day passes but I am nearer the grave. Whatever be {370} my age, whatever the number of my years, I am ever narrowing the interval between time and eternity. I am ever changing in myself. Youth is not like age; and I am continually changing, as I pass along out of youth towards the end of life. O my God, I am crumbling away, as I go on! I am already dissolving into my first elements. My soul indeed cannot die, for Thou hast made it immortal; but my bodily frame is continually resolving into that dust out of which it was taken. All below heaven changes: spring, summer, autumn, each has its turn. The fortunes of the world change; what was high, lies low; what was low rises high. Riches take wings and flee away; bereavements happen. Friends become enemies, and enemies friends. Our wishes, aims, and plans change. There is nothing stable but Thou, O my God! And Thou art the centre and life of all who change, who trust Thee as their Father, who look to Thee, and who are content to put themselves into Thy hands.

3. I know, O my God, I must change, if I am to see Thy face! I must undergo the change of death. Body and soul must die to this world. My real self, my soul, must change by a true regeneration. None but the holy can see Thee. Like Peter, I cannot have a blessing now, which I shall have afterwards. "Thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow hereafter." Oh, support me, as I proceed in this great, awful, happy change, with the grace of Thy unchangeableness. My unchangeableness here below is perseverance in changing. Let me day by day be moulded upon Thee, and be changed from glory to glory, by {371} ever looking towards Thee, and ever leaning on Thy arm. I know, O Lord, I must go through trial, temptation, and much conflict, if I am to come to Thee. I know not what lies before me, but I know as much as this. I know, too, that if Thou art not with me, my change will be for the worse, not for the better. Whatever fortune I have, be I rich or poor, healthy or sick, with friends or without, all will turn to evil if I am not sustained by the Unchangeable; all will turn to good if I have Jesus with me, yesterday and today the same, and for ever.

X. God is Love


Jesus saith to him, Lovest thou Me more than these?

1. THOU askest us to love Thee, O my God, and Thou art Thyself Love. There was one attribute of Thine which Thou didst exercise from eternity, and that was Love. We hear of no exercise of Thy power whilst Thou wast alone, nor of Thy justice before there were creatures on their trial; nor of Thy wisdom before the acts and works of Thy Providence; but from eternity Thou didst love, for Thou art not only One but Three. The Father loved from eternity His only begotten Son, and the Son returned to Him an equal love. And the Holy Ghost is that love in substance, wherewith the Father and the Son love one another. This, O Lord, is Thine ineffable and special blessedness. It is love. I adore Thee, O my infinite Love!

2. And when Thou hadst created us, then Thou didst but love more, if that were possible. Thou didst love not only Thy own Co-equal Self in the multiplied Personality of the Godhead, but Thou didst love Thy creatures also. Thou wast love to us, as well as Love in Thyself. Thou wast love to man, {373} more than to any other creatures. It was love that brought Thee from heaven, and subjected Thee to the laws of a created nature. It was love alone which was able to conquer Thee, the Highest—and bring Thee low. Thou didst die through Thine infinite love of sinners. And it is love, which keeps Thee here still, even now that Thou hast ascended on high, in a small tabernacle, and under cheap and common outward forms. O Amor meus, if Thou wert not infinite Love, wouldest Thou remain here, one hour, imprisoned and exposed to slight, indignity, and insult? O my God, I do not know what infinity means—but one thing I see, that Thou art loving to a depth and height far beyond any measurement of mine.

3. And now Thou biddest me love Thee in turn, for Thou hast loved me. Thou wooest me to love Thee specially, above others. Thou dost say, "Lovest thou Me more than these?" O my God, how shameful that such a question need be put to me! yet, after all, do I really love Thee more than the run of men? The run of men do not really love Thee at all, but put Thee out of their thoughts. They feel it unpleasant to them to think of Thee; they have no sort of heart for Thee, yet Thou hast need to ask me whether I love Thee even a little. Why should I not love Thee much, how can I help loving Thee much, whom Thou hast brought so near to Thyself, whom Thou hast so wonderfully chosen out of the world to be Thy own special servant and son? Have I not cause to love Thee abundantly more than others, though all ought to love Thee? I {374} do not know what Thou hast done for others personally, though Thou hast died for all—but I know what Thou hast done specially for me. Thou hast done that for me, O my love, which ought to make me love Thee with all my powers.

XI. The Sanctity of God


1. THOU art holy, O Lord, in that Thou art infinitely separate from everything but Thyself, and incommunicable. I adore Thee, O Lord, in this Thy proper sanctity and everlasting purity, for that all Thy blessedness comes from within, and nothing touches Thee from without. I adore Thee as infinitely blessed, yet having all Thy blessedness in Thyself. I adore Thee in that perfect and most holy knowledge of Thyself, in which we conceive the generation of the Word. I adore Thee in that infinite and most pure love of Thyself, a love of Thy Son, and Thy Son's love for Thee, in which we conceive the procession of the Holy Ghost. I adore Thee in that blessedness which Thou didst possess in Thyself from all eternity. My God, I do not understand these heavenly things. I use words which I cannot master; but I believe, O God, that to be true, which I thus feebly express in human language.

2. My God, I adore Thee, as holy without, as well as holy within. I adore Thee as holy in all Thy works as well as in Thy own nature. No creature can approach Thy incommunicable sanctity, but Thou dost approach, and touch, and compass, and possess, {376} all creatures; and nothing lives but in Thee, and nothing hast Thou created but what is good. I adore Thee, as having made everything good after its kind. I adore Thee, as having infused Thy preserving and sustaining power into all things, while Thou didst create them, so that they continue to live, though Thou dost not touch them, and do not crumble back into nothing. I adore Thee, as having put real power into them, so that they are able to act, although from Thee and with Thee and yet of themselves. I adore Thee as having given power to will what is right, and Thy holy grace to Thy rational creatures. I adore Thee as having created man upright, and having bountifully given him an integrity of nature, and having filled him with Thy free grace, so that he was like an Angel upon earth; and I adore Thee still more, for having given him Thy grace over again in still more copious measure, and with far more lasting fruits, through Thy Eternal Son incarnate. In all Thy works Thou art holy, O my God, and I adore Thee in them all.

3. Holy art Thou in all Thy works, O Lord, and, if there is sin in the world it is not from Thee—it is from an enemy, it is from me and mine. To me, to man, be the shame, for we might will what is right, and we will what is evil. What a gulf is there between Thee and me, O my Creator—not only as to nature but as to will! Thy will is ever holy; how, O Lord, shall I ever dare approach Thee? What have I to do with Thee? Yet I must approach Thee; Thou wilt call me to Thee when I die, and judge me. Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell in the {377} midst of a people of unclean lips! Thy Cross, O Lord, shows the distance that is between Thee and me, while it takes it away. It shows both my great sinfulness and Thy utter abhorrence of sin. Impart to me, my dear Lord, the doctrine of the Cross in its fulness, that it may not only teach me my alienation from Thee, but convey to me the virtue of Thy reconciliation.

XII. The Forty Days' Teaching


(1) The Kingdom of God

1. MY Lord Jesus, how wonderful were those conversations which Thou didst hold from time to time with Thy disciples after Thy resurrection. When Thou wentest with two of them to Emmaus, Thou didst explain all the prophecies which related to Thyself. And Thou didst commit to the Apostles the Sacraments in fulness, and the truths which it was Thy will to reveal, and the principles and maxims by which Thy Church was to be maintained and governed. And thus Thou didst prepare them against the day of Pentecost (as the risen bodies were put into shape for the Spirit in the Prophet's Vision), when life and illumination was to be infused into them. I will think over all Thou didst say to them with a true and simple faith. The "kingdom of God" was Thy sacred subject. Let me never for an instant forget that Thou hast established on earth a kingdom of Thy own, that the Church is Thy work, Thy establishment, Thy instrument; that we are under Thy rule, Thy laws and Thy eye—that when the {379} Church speaks Thou dost speak. Let not familiarity with this wonderful truth lead me to be insensible to it—let not the weakness of Thy human representatives lead me to forget that it is Thou who dost speak and act through them. It was just when Thou wast going away, that then Thou didst leave this kingdom of Thine to take Thy place on to the end of the world, to speak for Thee, as Thy visible form, when Thy Personal Presence, sensible to man, was departing. I will in true loving faith bring Thee before me, teaching all the truths and laws of this kingdom to Thy Apostles, and I will adore Thee, while in my thoughts I gaze upon Thee and listen to Thy words.

2. Come, O my dear Lord, and teach me in like manner. I need it not, and do not ask it, as far as this, that the word of truth which in the beginning was given to the Apostles by Thee, has been handed down from age to age, and has already been taught to me, and Thy Infallible Church is the warrant of it. But I need Thee to teach me day by day, according to each day's opportunities and needs. I need Thee to give me that true Divine instinct about revealed matters that, knowing one part, I may be able to anticipate or to approve of others. I need that understanding of the truths about Thyself which may prepare me for all Thy other truths—or at least may save me from conjecturing wrongly about them or commenting falsely upon them. I need the mind of the Spirit, which is the mind of the holy Fathers, and of the Church by which I may not only say what they say on definite points, but think what they think; in all I need to be saved from an originality {380} of thought, which is not true if it leads away from Thee. Give me the gift of discriminating between true and false in all discourse of mind.

3. And, for that end, give me, O my Lord, that purity of conscience which alone can receive, which alone can improve Thy inspirations. My ears are dull, so that I cannot hear Thy voice. My eyes are dim, so that I cannot see Thy tokens. Thou alone canst quicken my hearing, and purge my sight, and cleanse and renew my heart. Teach me, like Mary, to sit at Thy feet, and to hear Thy word. Give me that true wisdom, which seeks Thy will by prayer and meditation, by direct intercourse with Thee, more than by reading and reasoning. Give me the discernment to know Thy voice from the voice of strangers, and to rest upon it and to seek it in the first place, as something external to myself; and answer me through my own mind, if I worship and rely on Thee as above and beyond it.

(2) Resignation to God's Will
Quid ad te? Tu me sequere.
What is it to thee? Follow thou Me

1. O MY God, Thou and Thou alone art all-wise and all-knowing! Thou knowest, Thou hast determined everything which will happen to us from first to last. Thou hast ordered things in the  {381} wisest way, and Thou knowest what will be my lot year by year till I die. Thou knowest how long I have to live. Thou knowest how I shall die. Thou hast precisely ordained everything, sin excepted. Every event of my life is the best for me that could be, for it comes from Thee. Thou dost bring me on year by year, by Thy wonderful Providence, from youth to age, with the most perfect wisdom, and with the most perfect love.

2. My Lord, who camest into this world to do Thy Father's will, not Thine own, give me a most absolute and simple submission to the will of Father and Son. I believe, O my Saviour, that Thou knowest just what is best for me. I believe that Thou lovest me better than I love myself, that Thou art all-wise in Thy Providence, and all-powerful in Thy protection. I am as ignorant as Peter was what is to happen to me in time to come; but I resign myself entirely to my ignorance, and thank Thee with all my heart that Thou hast taken me out of my own keeping, and, instead of putting such a serious charge upon me, hast bidden me put myself into Thy hands. I can ask nothing better than this, to be Thy care, not my own. I protest, O my Lord, that, through Thy grace, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest, and will not lead the way. I will wait on Thee for Thy guidance, and, on obtaining it, I will act upon it in simplicity and without fear. And I promise that I will not be impatient, if at any time I am kept by Thee in darkness and perplexity; nor will I ever complain or fret if I come into any misfortune or anxiety. {382}

3. I know, O Lord, Thou wilt do Thy part towards me, as I, through Thy grace, desire to do my part towards Thee. I know well Thou never canst forsake those who seek Thee, or canst disappoint those who trust Thee. Yet I know too, the more I pray for Thy protection, the more surely and fully I shall have it. And therefore now I cry out to Thee, and intreat Thee, first that Thou wouldest keep me from myself, and from following any will but Thine. Next I beg of Thee, that in Thy infinite compassion, Thou wouldest temper Thy will to me, that it may not be severe, but indulgent to me. Visit me not, O my loving Lord—if it be not wrong so to pray—visit me not with those trying visitations which saints alone can bear! Pity my weakness, and lead me heavenwards in a safe and tranquil course. Still I leave all in Thy hands, my dear Saviour—I bargain for nothing—only, if Thou shalt bring heavier trials on me, give me more grace—flood me with the fulness of Thy strength and consolation, that they may work in me not death, but life and salvation.

(3) Our Lord's Parting with His Apostles

1. I ADORE Thee, O my God! together with Thy Apostles, during the forty days in which Thou didst visit them after Thy resurrection. So blessed was the time, so calm, so undisturbed from without, that it was good to be there with Thee, and when it was over, they could hardly believe that it was more than begun. How quickly must that first {383} Tempus Paschale have flown! and they perhaps hardly knew when it was to end. At least, they did not like to anticipate its ending, but were engrossed with the joy of the present moment. O what a time of consolation! What a contrast to what had lately taken place! It was their happy time on earth—the foretaste of heaven; not noticed, not interfered with, by man. They passed it in wonder, in musing, in adoration, rejoicing in Thy light, O my risen God!

2. But Thou, O my dear Lord, didst know better than they! They hoped and desired, perhaps fancied, that that resting time, that refrigerium, never would end till it was superseded by something better; but Thou didst know, in Thy eternal wisdom, that, in order to arrive at what was higher than any blessing which they were then enjoying, it was fitting, it was necessary, that they should sustain conflict and suffering. Thou knewest well, that unless Thou hadst departed, the Paraclete could not have come to them; and therefore Thou didst go, that they might gain more by Thy sorrowful absence than by Thy sensible visitations. I adore Thee, O Father, for sending the Son and the Holy Ghost! I adore Thee, O Son, and Thee, O Holy Ghost, for vouchsafing to be sent to us!

3. O my God, let me never forget that seasons of consolation are refreshments here, and nothing more; not our abiding state. They will not remain with us except in heaven. Here they are only intended to prepare us for doing and suffering. I pray Thee, O my God, to give them to me from time to time. Shed {384} over me the sweetness of Thy Presence, lest I faint by the way; lest I find religious service wearisome, through my exceeding infirmity, and give over prayer and meditation; lest I go about my daily work in a dry spirit, or am tempted to take pleasure in it for its own sake, and not for Thee. Give me Thy Divine consolations from time to time; but let me not rest in them. Let me use them for the purpose for which Thou givest them. Let me not think it grievous, let me not be downcast, if they go. Let them carry me forward to the thought and the desire of heaven.

(4) God's Ways not Our Ways
Quia hęc locutus sum vobis, tristitia implevit cor vestrum.
Sed ego veritatem dico vobis. Expedit vobis.
Because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
But I tell you the truth: it is expedient for you

1. O MY Saviour, I adore Thee for Thy infinite wisdom, which sees what we do not see, and orderest all things in its own most perfect way. When Thou didst say to the Apostles that Thou wast going away, they cried out, as if Thou hadst, if it may be so said, broken faith with them. They seemed to say to Thee, "O Jesu, did we not leave all things for Thee? Did we not give up home and family, father and wife, friends and neighbours, our habits, our accustomed way of living, that we might join Thee? {385} Did we not divorce ourselves from the world, or rather die to it, that we might be eternally united and live to Thee? And now Thou sayest that Thou art leaving us. Is this reasonable? is this just? is this faithfulness to Thy promise? Did we bargain for this? O Lord Jesus, we adore Thee, but we are confounded, and we know not what to say!"

2. Yet let God be true, and every man a liar. Let the Divine Word triumph in our minds over every argument and persuasion of sensible appearances. Let faith rule us and not sight. Thou art justified, O Lord, when Thou art arraigned, and dost gain the cause when Thou art judged. For Thou didst know that the true way of possessing Thee was to lose Thee. Thou didst know that what man stands most of all in need of, and in the first place, is not an outward guide, though that he needs too, but an inward, intimate, invisible aid. Thou didst intend to heal him thoroughly, not slightly; not merely to reform the surface, but to remove and destroy the heart and root of all his ills. Thou then didst purpose to visit his soul, and Thou didst depart in body, that Thou mightest come again to him in spirit. Thou didst not stay with Thy Apostles therefore, as in the days of Thy flesh, but Thou didst come to them and abide with them for ever, with a much more immediate and true communion in the power of the Paraclete.

3. O my God, in Thy sight, I confess and bewail my extreme weakness, in distrusting, if not Thee, at least Thy own servants and representatives, when things do not turn out as I would have them, or expected! {386} Thou hast given me St. Philip, that great creation of Thy grace, for my master and patron—and I have committed myself to him—and he has done very great things for me, and has in many ways fulfilled towards me all that I can fairly reckon he had promised. But, because in some things he has disappointed me, and delayed, I have got impatient; and have served him, though without conscious disloyalty, yet with peevishness and coldness. O my dear Lord, give me a generous faith in Thee and in Thy servants!

XIII. The Ascension


(1) He Ascended

1. MY Lord, I follow Thee up to heaven; as Thou goest up, my heart and mind go with Thee. Never was triumph like this. Thou didst appear a babe in human flesh at Bethlehem. That flesh, taken from the Blessed Virgin, was not before Thou didst form it into a body; it was a new work of Thy hands. And Thy soul was new altogether, created by Thy Omnipotence, at the moment when Thou didst enter into her sacred breast. That pure soul and body, taken as a garment for Thyself, began on earth, and never had been elsewhere. This is the triumph. Earth rises to heaven. I see Thee going up. I see that Form which hung upon the Cross, those scarred hands and feet, that pierced side; they are mounting up to heaven. And the Angels are full of jubilee; the myriads of blessed spirits, which people the glorious expanse, part like the waters to let Thee pass. And the living pavement of God's palaces is cleft in twain, and the Cherubim with flaming swords, who form the rampart of heaven {388} against fallen man, give way and open out, that Thou mayest enter, and Thy saints after Thee. O memorable day!

2. O memorable day! The Apostles feel it to be so, now that it is come, though they felt so differently before it came. When it was coming they dreaded it. They could not think but it would be a great bereavement; but now, as we read, they returned to Jerusalem "with great joy." O what a time of triumph! They understood it now. They understood how weak it had been in them to grudge their Lord and Master, the glorious Captain of their salvation, the Champion and First fruits of the human family, this crown of His great work. It was the triumph of redeemed man. It is the completion of his redemption. It was the last act, making the whole sure, for now man is actually in heaven. He has entered into possession of his inheritance. The sinful race has now one of its own children there, its own flesh and blood, in the person of the Eternal Son. O what a wonderful marriage between heaven and earth! It began in sorrow; but now the long travail of that mysterious wedding day is over; the marriage feast is begun; marriage and birth have gone together; man is new born when Emmanuel enters heaven.

3. O Emmanuel, O God in our flesh! we too hope, by Thy grace, to follow Thee. We will cling to the skirts of Thy garments, as Thou goest up; for without Thee we cannot ascend. O Emmanuel, what a day of joy when we shall enter heaven! O inexpressible {389} ecstasy, after all trouble! There is none strong but Thou. Tenuisti manum dexteram meam: et in voluntate tua deduxisti me, et cum gloria suscepisti me. Quid enim mihi est in cœlo, et a Te quid volui super terram? Defecit caro mea et cor meum; Deus cordis mei, et pars mea Deus in ęternum.—"Thou hast held me by my right hand; and by Thy will Thou hast conducted me, and with Thy glory Thou hast received me. For what have I in heaven? And besides Thee what do I desire upon earth? For Thee my flesh and my heart hath fainted away: Thou art the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion for ever."

(2) Ascendit in Cœlum
He ascended into Heaven

1. MY Lord is gone up into heaven. I adore Thee, Son of Mary, Jesu Emmanuel, my God and my Saviour. I am allowed to adore Thee, my Saviour and my own Brother, for Thou art God. I follow Thee in my thoughts, O Thou First fruits of our race, as I hope one day by Thy grace to follow Thee in my person. To go to heaven is to go to God. God is there and God alone: for perfect bliss is there and nothing else, and none can be blessed who is not bathed and hidden and absorbed in the glory of the Divine Nature. All holy creatures are but the vestment of the Highest, which He has put on for ever, and which is bright with His uncreated light. There are many things on earth, and each is {390} its own centre, but one Name alone is named above. It is God alone. This is that true supernatural life; and if I would live a supernatural life on earth, and attain to the supernatural eternal life which is in heaven, I have one thing to do, viz. to live on the thought of God here. Teach me this, O God; give me Thy supernatural grace to practise it; to have my reason, affections, intentions, aims, all penetrated and possessed by the love of Thee, plunged and drowned in the one Vision of Thee.

2. There is but one Name and one Thought above: there are many thoughts below. This is the earthly life, which leads to death, viz. to follow the numberless objects and aims and toils and amusements which men pursue on earth. Even the good that is here below does not lead to heaven; it is spoilt in the handselling; it perishes in the using; it has no stay, no integrity, no consistency. It runs off into evil before it has well ceased, before it has well begun to be good. It is at best vanity, when it is nothing worse. It has in it commonly the seeds of real sin. My God, I acknowledge all this. My Lord Jesu, I confess and know that Thou only art the True, the Beautiful, and the Good. Thou alone canst make me bright and glorious, and canst lead me up after Thee. Thou art the way, the truth, and the life, and none but Thou. Earth will never lead me to heaven. Thou alone art the Way; Thou alone.

3. My God, shall I for one moment doubt where my path lies? Shall I not at once take Thee for my {391} portion? To whom should I go? Thou hast the words of Eternal Life. Thou camest down for the very purpose of doing that which no one here below could do for me. None but He who is in heaven can bring me to heaven. What strength have I to scale the high mountain? Though I served the world ever so well, though I did my duty in it (as men speak), what could the world do for me, however hard it tried? Though I filled my station well, did good to my fellows, had a fair name or a wide reputation, though I did great deeds and was celebrated, though I had the praise of history, how would all this bring me to heaven? I choose Thee then for my One Portion, because Thou livest and diest not. I cast away all idols. I give myself to Thee. I pray Thee to teach me, guide me, enable me, and receive me to Thee.

(3) Our Advocate Above

1. I ADORE Thee, O my Lord, as is most fitting, for Thou art gone to heaven to take my part there, and defend my interests. I have one to plead for me with the Lord of all. On earth we try to put ourselves under the protection of powerful men when we have any important business on hand; we know the value of their influence, and we make much of any promise they make us. Thou art omnipotent, and Thou dost exert Thy omnipotence for me. There are millions of men in the world: thou didst die for them all; but Thou livest for {392} Thy people, whom Thou hast chosen out of the world. And still more marvellously dost Thou live for Thy predestinate. Thou hast engraven them upon the palms of Thy hands; their names are ever before Thee. Thou countest the full roll of them; Thou knowest them by heart: Thou orderest the crown of the world for them; and, when their number shall be completed, the world shall end.

2. For me, Thou hast chosen me for present grace—and thus Thou hast put me in the way for future glory. I know perfectly well that, whatever be Thy secret counsels about me, it will be simply, entirely, most really my own fault if I am not written in Thy book. I cannot understand Thee: I can understand myself enough to know and be sure of this. Thou hast put me on such especial vantage ground that the prize is almost in my hand. If I am at present in the society of Angels or Saints, it is hard if I cannot make interest with them that the fellowship begun between them and me should endure. Men of the world know how to turn such opportunities to account in their own matters. If Thou hast given me Mary for my Mother, who, O my God! is Thine, cannot I now establish, as it were, a family interest in her, so that she will not cast me off at the last? If I have the right to pray and the gift of impetration, may I not thereby secure that perseverance to the end, which I cannot merit, and which is the sign and assurance of my predestination? I have in my hands all the means of that which I have not, and may infallibly obtain, even though I cannot certainly secure it. {393}

3. O my Lord, I sink down almost in despair, in utter remorse certainly and disgust at myself, that I so utterly neglect these means which Thou hast put into my hands, content to let things take their course, as if grace would infallibly lead to glory without my own trouble in the matter. What shall I say to Thee, O my Saviour! except that I am in the chains of habit, feeble, helpless, stunted, growthless, and as if I were meant to walk through life, as the inferior creatures, with my face down to the earth, on hands and feet, or crawling on, instead of having an erect posture and a heavenward face? O give me what I need—contrition for all those infinitely numerous venial sins, negligences, slovenliness, which are the surest foreboding that I am not of Thy predestinate. Who can save me from myself but Thou?

(4) Our Advocate Above

1. I CANNOT penetrate Thy secret decrees, O Lord! I know Thou didst die for all men really; but since thou hast not effectually willed the salvation of all, and since Thou mightest have done so, it is certain that Thou doest for one what Thou dost not do for another. I cannot tell what has been Thy everlasting purpose about myself, but, if I go by all the signs which Thou hast lavished upon me, I may hope that I am one of those whose names are written in Thy book. But this I know and feel most entirely, what I believe in the case of all men, but {394} know and feel in my own case, that, if I do not attain to that crown which I see and which is within my reach, it is entirely my own fault. Thou hast surrounded me from childhood with Thy mercies; Thou hast taken as much pains with me as if I was of importance to Thee, and my loss of heaven would be Thy loss of me. Thou hast led me on by ten thousand merciful providences; Thou hast brought me near to Thee in the most intimate of ways; Thou hast brought me into Thy house and chamber; Thou hast fed me with Thyself. Dost Thou not love me? really, truly, substantially, efficaciously love me, without any limitation of the word? I know it. I have an utter conviction of it. Thou art ever waiting to do me benefits, to pour upon me blessings. Thou art ever waiting for me to ask Thee to be merciful to me.

2. Yes, my Lord, Thou dost desire that I should ask Thee; Thou art ever listening for my voice. There is nothing I cannot get from Thee. Oh I confess my heinous neglect of this great privilege. I am very guilty. I have trifled with the highest of gifts, the power to move Omnipotence. How slack am I in praying to Thee for my own needs! how little have I thought of the needs of others! How little have I brought before Thee the needs of the world—of Thy Church! How little I have asked for graces in detail! and for aid in daily wants! How little have I interceded for individuals! How little have I accompanied actions and undertakings, in themselves good, with prayer for Thy guidance and blessing! {395}

3. O my Lord Jesu, I will use the time. It will be too late to pray, when life is over. There is no prayer in the grave—there is no meriting in Purgatory. Low as I am in Thy all holy sight, I am strong in Thee, strong through Thy Immaculate Mother, through Thy Saints: and thus I can do much for the Church, for the world, for all I love. O let not the blood of souls be on my head! O let me not walk my own way without thinking of Thee. Let me bring everything before Thee, asking Thy leave for everything I purpose, Thy blessing on everything I do. I will not move without Thee. I will ever lift up my heart to Thee. I will never forget that Thou art my Advocate at the Throne of the Highest. As the dial speaks of the sun, so will I be ruled by Thee above, if Thou wilt take me and rule me. Be it so, my Lord Jesus. I give myself wholly to Thee.

XIV. The Paraclete


(1) The Paraclete, the Life of all Things

1. I ADORE Thee, my Lord and God, the Eternal Paraclete, co-equal with the Father and the Son. I adore Thee as the Life of all that live. Through Thee the whole material Universe hangs together and consists, remains in its place, and moves internally in the order and reciprocity of its several parts. Through Thee the earth was brought into its present state, and was matured through its six days to be a habitation for man. Through Thee, all trees, herbs, fruits, thrive and are perfected. Through Thee, spring comes after winter and renews all things. That wonderful and beautiful, that irresistible burst into life again, in spite of all obstacles, that awful triumph of nature, is but Thy glorious Presence. Through Thee the many tribes of brute animals live day by day, drawing in their breath from Thee. Thou art the life of the whole creation, O Eternal Paraclete—and if of this animal and material framework, how much more of the world of spirits! Through {397} Thee, Almighty Lord, the angels and saints sing Thee praises in heaven. Through Thee our own dead souls are quickened to serve Thee. From Thee is every good thought and desire, every good purpose, every good effort, every good success. It is by Thee that sinners are turned into saints. It is by Thee the Church is refreshed and strengthened, and champions start forth, and martyrs are carried on to their crown. Through Thee new religious orders, new devotions in the Church come into being; new countries are added to the faith, new manifestations and illustrations are given to the ancient Apostolic creed. I praise and adore Thee, my Sovereign Lord God, the Holy Ghost.

2. I adore Thee, O dread Lord, for what Thou hast done for my soul. I acknowledge and feel, not only as a matter of faith but of experience, that I cannot have one good thought or do one good act without Thee. I know, that if I attempt anything good in my own strength, I shall to a certainty fail. I have bitter experience of this. My God, I am only safe when Thou dost breathe upon me. If Thou withdraw Thy breath, forthwith my three mortal enemies rush on me and overcome me. I am as weak as water, I am utterly impotent without Thee. The minute Thou dost cease to act in me, I begin to languish, to gasp, and to faint away. Of my good desires, whatever they may be, of my good aims, aspirations, attempts, successes, habits, practices, Thou art the sole cause and present continual source. I have nothing but what I have received, and I protest now in Thy presence, O Sovereign Paraclete, that I have {398} nothing to glory in, and everything to be humbled at.

3. O my dear Lord, how merciful Thou hast been to me. When I was young, Thou didst put into my heart a special devotion to Thee. Thou hast taken me up in my youth, and in my age Thou wilt not forsake me. Not for my merit, but from Thy free and bountiful love Thou didst put good resolutions into me when I was young, and didst turn me to Thee. Thou wilt never forsake me. I do earnestly trust so—never certainly without fearful provocation on my part. Yet I trust and pray, that Thou wilt keep me from that provocation. O keep me from the provocation of lukewarmness and sloth. O my dear Lord, lead me forward from strength to strength, gently, sweetly, tenderly, lovingly, powerfully, effectually, remembering my fretfulness and feebleness, till Thou bringest me into Thy heaven.

(2) The Paraclete, the Life of the Church

1. I ADORE Thee, O my Lord, the Third Person of the All-Blessed Trinity, that Thou hast set up in this world of sin a great light upon a hill. Thou hast founded the Church, Thou hast established and maintained it. Thou fillest it continually with Thy gifts, that men may see, and draw near, and take, and live. Thou hast in this way brought down heaven upon earth. For Thou hast set up a great company which Angels visit by that ladder which the {399} Patriarch saw in vision. Thou hast by Thy Presence restored the communion between God above and man below. Thou hast given him that light of grace which is one with and the commencement of the light of glory. I adore and praise Thee for Thy infinite mercy towards us, O my Lord and God.

2. I adore Thee, O Almighty Lord, the Paraclete, because Thou in Thy infinite compassion hast brought me into this Church, the work of Thy supernatural power. I had no claim on Thee for so wonderful a favour over anyone else in the whole world. There were many men far better than I by nature, gifted with more pleasing natural gifts, and less stained with sin. Yet Thou, in Thy inscrutable love for me, hast chosen me and brought me into Thy fold. Thou hast a reason for everything Thou dost. I know there must have been an all-wise reason, as we speak in human language, for Thy choosing me and not another—but I know that that reason was something external to myself. I did nothing towards it—I did everything against it. I did everything to thwart Thy purpose. And thus I owe all to Thy grace. I should have lived and died in darkness and sin; I should have become worse and worse the longer I lived; I should have got more to hate and abjure Thee, O Source of my bliss; I should have got yearly more fit for hell, and at length I should have gone there, but for Thy incomprehensible love to me. O my God, that overpowering love took me captive. Was any boyhood so impious as some years of mine! Did I not in fact dare Thee to do Thy worst? Ah, how I struggled to get free from Thee; {400} but Thou art stronger than I and hast prevailed. I have not a word to say, but to bow down in awe before the depths of Thy love.

3. And then, in course of time, slowly but infallibly did Thy grace bring me on into Thy Church. Now then give me this further grace, Lord, to use all this grace well, and to turn it to my salvation. Teach me, make me, to come to the fountains of mercy continually with an awakened, eager mind, and with lively devotion. Give me a love of Thy Sacraments and Ordinances. Teach me to value as I ought, to prize as the inestimable pearl, that pardon which again and again Thou givest me, and the great and heavenly gift of the Presence of Him whose Spirit Thou art, upon the Altar. Without Thee I can do nothing, and Thou art there where Thy Church is and Thy Sacraments. Give me grace to rest in them for ever, till they are lost in the glory of Thy manifestation in the world to come.

(3) The Paraclete, the Life of my Soul

1. MY God, I adore Thee for taking on Thee the charge of sinners; of those, who not only cannot profit Thee, but who continually grieve and profane Thee. Thou hast taken on Thyself the office of a minister, and that for those who did not ask for it. I adore Thee for Thy incomprehensible condescension in ministering to me. I know and feel, O my God, that Thou mightest have left me, as I {401} wished to be left, to go my own way, to go straight forward in my wilfulness and self-trust to hell. Thou mightest have left me in that enmity to Thee which is in itself death. I should at length have died the second death, and should have had no one to blame for it but myself. But Thou, O Eternal Father, hast been kinder to me than I am to myself. Thou hast given me, Thou hast poured out upon me Thy grace, and thus I live.

2. My God, I adore Thee, O Eternal Paraclete, the light and the life of my soul. Thou mightest have been content with merely giving me good suggestions, inspiring grace and helping from without. Thou mightest thus have led me on, cleansing me with Thy inward virtue, when I changed my state from this world to the next. But in Thine infinite compassion Thou hast from the first entered into my soul, and taken possession of it. Thou hast made it Thy Temple. Thou dwellest in me by Thy grace in an ineffable way, uniting me to Thyself and the whole company of angels and saints. Nay, as some have held, Thou art present in me, not only by Thy grace, but by Thy eternal substance, as if, though I did not lose my own individuality, yet in some sense I was even here absorbed in God. Nay—as though Thou hadst taken possession of my very, body, this earthly, fleshly, wretched tabernacle—even my body is Thy Temple. O astonishing, awful truth! I believe it, I know it, O my God!

3. O my God, can I sin when Thou art so intimately with me? Can I forget who is with me, who {402} is in me? Can I expel a Divine Inhabitant by that which He abhors more than anything else, which is the one thing in the whole world which is offensive to Him, the only thing which is not His? Would not this be a kind of sin against the Holy Ghost? My God, I have a double security against sinning; first the dread of such a profanation of all Thou art to me in Thy very Presence; and next because I do trust that that Presence will preserve me from sin. My God, Thou wilt go from me, if I sin; and I shall be left to my own miserable self. God forbid! I will use what Thou hast given me; I will call on Thee when tried and tempted. I will guard against the sloth and carelessness into which I am continually falling. Through Thee I will never forsake Thee.

(4) The Paraclete, the Fount of Love

1. MY God, I adore Thee, as the Third Person of the Ever-Blessed Trinity, under the name and designation of Love. Thou art that Living Love, wherewith the Father and the Son love each other. And Thou art the Author of supernatural love in our hearts—"Fons vivus, ignis, charitas." As a fire Thou didst come down from heaven on the day of Pentecost; and as a fire Thou burnest away the dross of sin and vanity in the heart and dost light up the pure flame of devotion and affection. It is Thou who unitest heaven and earth by showing to us the glory and beauty of the Divine Nature, and making {403} us love what is in Itself so winning and transporting. I adore Thee, O uncreate and everlasting Fire, by which our souls live, by which alone they are made fit for heaven.

2. My God, the Paraclete, I acknowledge Thee as the Giver of that great gift, by which alone we are saved, supernatural love. Man is by nature blind and hardhearted in all spiritual matters; how is he to reach heaven? It is by the flame of Thy grace, which consumes him in order to new-make him, and so to fit him to enjoy what without Thee he would have no taste for. It is Thou, O Almighty Paraclete, who hast been and art the strength, the vigour and endurance, of the martyr in the midst of his torments. Thou art the stay of the confessor in his long, tedious, and humiliating toils. Thou art the fire, by which the preacher wins souls, without thought of himself, in his missionary labours. By Thee we wake up from the death of sin, to exchange the idolatry of the creature for the pure love of the Creator. By Thee we make acts of faith, hope, charity, and contrition. By Thee we live in the atmosphere of earth, proof against its infection. By Thee we are able to consecrate ourselves to the sacred ministry, and fulfil our awful engagements to it. By the fire which Thou didst kindle within us, we pray, and meditate, and do penance. As well could our bodies live, if the sun were extinguished, as our souls, if Thou art away.

3. My most Holy Lord and Sanctifier, whatever there is of good in me is Thine. Without Thee, I {404} should but get worse and worse as years went on, and should tend to be a devil. If I differ at all from the world, it is because Thou hast chosen me out of the world, and hast lit up the love of God in my heart. If I differ from Thy Saints, it is because I do not ask earnestly enough for Thy grace, and for enough of it, and because I do not diligently improve what Thou hast given me. Increase in me this grace of love, in spite of all my unworthiness. It is more precious than anything else in the world. I accept it in place of all the world can give me. O give it to me! It is my life.

XV. The Holy Sacrifice


(1) The Mass

1. I ADORE Thee, O my Lord God, with the most profound awe for thy passion and crucifixion, in sacrifice for our sins. Thou didst' suffer incommunicable sufferings in Thy sinless soul. Thou wast exposed in Thy innocent body to ignominious torments, to mingled pain and shame. Thou wast stripped and fiercely scourged, Thy sacred body vibrating under the heavy flail as trees under the blast. Thou wast, when thus mangled, hung up upon the Cross, naked, a spectacle for all to see Thee quivering and dying. What does all this imply, O Mighty God! What a depth is here which we cannot fathom! My God, I know well, Thou couldst have saved us at Thy word, without Thyself suffering; but Thou didst choose to purchase us at the price of Thy Blood. I look on Thee, the Victim lifted up on Calvary, and I know and protest that that death of Thine was an expiation for the sins of the whole world. I believe and know, that Thou alone couldst have offered a meritorious atonement; for it was Thy Divine Nature which gave Thy sufferings worth. {406} Rather then than I should perish according to my deserts, Thou wast nailed to the Tree and didst die.

2. Such a sacrifice was not to be forgotten. It was not to be—it could not be—a mere event in the world's history, which was to be done and over, and was to pass away except in its obscure, unrecognised effects. If that great deed was what we believe it to be, what we know it is, it must remain present, though past; it must be a standing fact for all times. Our own careful reflection upon it tells us this; and therefore, when we are told that Thou, O Lord, though Thou hast ascended to glory, hast renewed and perpetuated Thy sacrifice to the end of all things, not only is the news most touching and joyful, as testifying to so tender a Lord and Saviour, but it carries with it the full assent and sympathy of our reason. Though we neither could, nor would have dared, anticipate so wonderful a doctrine, yet we adore its very suitableness to Thy perfections, as well as its infinite compassionateness for us, now that we are told of it. Yes, my Lord, though Thou hast left the world, Thou art daily offered up in the Mass; and, though Thou canst not suffer pain and death, Thou dost still subject Thyself to indignity and restraint to carry out to the full Thy mercies towards us. Thou dost humble Thyself daily; for, being infinite, Thou couldst not end Thy humiliation while they existed for whom Thou didst submit to it. So Thou remainest a Priest for ever.

3. My Lord, I offer Thee myself in turn as a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Thou hast died for me, and I {407} in turn make myself over to Thee. I am not my own. Thou hast bought me; I will by my own act and deed complete the purchase. My wish is to be separated from everything of this world; to cleanse myself simply from sin; to put away from me even what is innocent, if used for its own sake, and not for Thine. I put away reputation and honour, and influence, and power, for my praise and strength shall be in Thee. Enable me to carry out what I profess.

(2) Holy Communion

1. MY God, who can be inhabited by Thee, except the pure and holy? Sinners may come to Thee, but to whom shouldst Thou come except to the sanctified? My God, I adore Thee as the Holiest; and, when Thou didst come upon earth, Thou didst prepare a holy habitation for Thyself in the most chaste womb of the Blessed Virgin. Thou didst make a dwelling place special for Thyself. She did not receive Thee without first being prepared for Thee; for from the moment that she was at all, she was filled with Thy grace, so that she never knew sin. And so she went on increasing in grace and merit year after year, till the time came, when Thou didst send down the Archangel to signify to her Thy presence within her. So holy must be the dwelling place of the Highest. I adore and glorify Thee, O Lord my God, for Thy great holiness. {408}

2. O my God, holiness becometh Thy House, and yet Thou dost make Thy abode in my breast. My Lord, my Saviour, to me Thou comest, hidden under the semblance of earthly things, yet in that very flesh and blood which Thou didst take from Mary. Thou, who didst first inhabit Mary's breast, dost come to me. My God, Thou seest me; I cannot see myself. Were I ever so good a judge about myself, ever so unbiassed, and with ever so correct a rule of judging, still, from my very nature, I cannot look at myself, and view myself truly and wholly. But Thou, as Thou comest to me, contemplatest me. When I say, Domine, non sum dignus—"Lord, I am not worthy"—Thou whom I am addressing, alone understandest in their fulness the words which I use. Thou seest how unworthy so great a sinner is to receive the One Holy God, whom the Seraphim adore with trembling. Thou seest, not only the stains and scars of past sins, but the mutilations, the deep cavities, the chronic disorders which they have left in my soul. Thou seest the innumerable living sins, though they be not mortal, living in their power and presence, their guilt, and their penalties, which clothe me. Thou seest all my bad habits, all my mean principles, all wayward lawless thoughts, my multitude of infirmities and miseries, yet Thou comest. Thou seest most perfectly how little I really feel what I am now saying, yet Thou comest. O my God, left to myself should I not perish under the awful splendour and the consuming fire of Thy Majesty. Enable me to bear Thee, lest I have to say with Peter, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" {409}

3. My God, enable me to bear Thee, for Thou alone canst. Cleanse my heart and mind from all that is past. Wipe out clean all my recollections of evil. Rid me from all languor, sickliness, irritability, feebleness of soul. Give me a true perception of things unseen, and make me truly, practically, and in the details of life, prefer Thee to anything on earth, and the future world to the present. Give me courage, a true instinct determining between right and wrong, humility in all things, and a tender longing love of Thee.

(3) The Food of the Soul
Sitivit in Te anima mea
For Thee my soul hath thirsted

1. IN Thee, O Lord, all things live, and Thou dost give them their food. Oculi omnium in Te sperant—"the eyes of all hope in Thee." To the beasts of the field Thou givest meat and drink. They live on day by day, because Thou dost give them day by day to live. And, if Thou givest not, they feel their misery at once. Nature witnesses to this great truth, for they are visited at once with great agony, and they cry out and wildly wander about, seeking what they need. But, as to us Thy children, Thou feedest us with another food. Thou knowest, O my God, who madest us, that nothing can satisfy us but Thyself, and therefore Thou hast caused Thy own self to be meat and drink to us. O most adorable mystery! O most stupendous of mercies! Thou {410} most Glorious, and Beautiful, and Strong, and Sweet, Thou didst know well that nothing else would support our immortal natures, our frail hearts, but Thyself; and so Thou didst take a human flesh and blood, that they, as being the flesh and blood of God, might be our life.

2. O what an awful thought! Thou dealest otherwise with others, but, as to me, the flesh and blood of God is my sole life. I shall perish without it; yet shall I not perish with it and by it? How can I raise myself to such an act as to feed upon God? O my God, I am in a strait—shall I go forward, or shall I go back? I will go forward: I will go to meet Thee. I will open my mouth, and receive Thy gift. I do so with great awe and fear, but what else can I do? to whom should I go but to Thee? Who can save me but Thou? Who can cleanse me but Thou? Who can make me overcome myself but Thou? Who can raise my body from the grave but Thou? Therefore I come to Thee in all these my necessities, in fear, but in faith.

3. My God, Thou art my life; if I leave Thee, I cannot but thirst. Lost spirits thirst in hell, because they have not God. They thirst, though they fain would have it otherwise, from the necessity of their original nature. But I, my God, wish to thirst for Thee with a better thirst. I wish to be clad in that new nature, which so longs for Thee from loving Thee, as to overcome in me the fear of coming to Thee. I come to Thee, O Lord, not only because I am unhappy without Thee, not only because I feel I {411} need Thee, but because Thy grace draws me on to seek Thee for Thy own sake, because Thou art so glorious and beautiful. I come in great fear, but in greater love. O may I never lose, as years pass away, and the heart shuts up, and all things are a burden, let me never lose this youthful, eager, elastic love of Thee. Make Thy grace supply the failure of nature. Do the more for me, the less I can do for myself. The more I refuse to open my heart to Thee, so much the fuller and stronger be Thy supernatural visitings, and the more urgent and efficacious Thy presence in me.

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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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