How a Desolate Person Ought to Offer Himself into the Hands of God
"O Lord God, holy Father, be Thou now and forever blessed; for as Thou wilt, so it is done, and what Thou dost is always good. Let Thy servant rejoice in Thee, not in himself nor in any other: for Thou alone art true joy. Thou alone art my hope and my crown. Thou art my joy and my honor, O Lord. What hath Thy servant but what he hath received from Thee, even without any merit on his part? All things are Thine, both what Thou hast given and what Thou hast made. I am poor, and in labors from my youth, and my soul is saddened sometimes even unto tears, and sometimes too my spirit is disturbed within herself by reason of impending suffering.
2. I desire the joy of peace; I beg earnestly for the peace of Thy children, who are fed by Thee in the light of consolation. If Thou give peace, if Thou infuse holy joy, the soul of Thy servant shall be full of melody, and devout in Thy praise. But if Thou withdraw Thyself, as Thou art very often accustomed to do, he will not be able to run in the way of Thy commandments, but must rather bow down his knees, and strike his breast; because it is not with him as yesterday and the day before, when Thy lamp shone over his head, and he was protected under the shadow of Thy wings from assaulting temptations.
3. O just Father, holy, and ever to be praised, the hour is come for Thy servant to be tried. O Father worthy of all love, it is fitting that Thy servant should be at this hour suffering something for Thee. O Father always to be honored, the hour is come which from all eternity Thou didst forsee would arrive; that Thy servant for a short time should be oppressed exteriorly, but interiorly should strive ever live unto Thee; that he should be for a little slighted and humbled, and should fail in the sight of men. That he should be severely afflicted with sufferings and languor, that so he may rise again with Thee in the dawning of a new light, and be glorified in heaven. O holy Father, Thou hast so appointed, and such is Thy will; and that has come to pass which Thou has ordained.
4. For this is a favor to Thy friend, that he should suffer and be afflicted in this world for the love of Thee how often soever, by whomsoever, Thou permittest it to befall him. Without Thy design and providence, and without cause, nothing happeneth in the world. It is good for me, O Lord, that Thou hast humbled me, that I may learn Thy justifications, and that I may cast away all pride of heart and presumption. It is profitable for me that shame hath covered my face, that I may rather seek my comfort from Thee than from men. I have also hereby learned to fear Thy inscrutable judgment; who afflictest the just with the impious, but not without equity and justice.
5. I return Thee thanks that Thou hast not spared my evil ways, but hast bruised me with bitter stripes, inflicting anguish, and sending distress both within and without. Of all things under heaven, there is none that can comfort me but Thou, O Lord my God, the Heavenly Physician of souls, who woundest and healest, bringest down to hell and leadest back again. Thy discipline is upon me, and thy rod itself shall instruct me.
6. Behold, O beloved Father, I am in Thy hands; I bow myself down under the rod of Thy correction. Strike Thou my back and neck, that I may bend my perversity to Thy will. Make me a pious and humble disciple, as Thou in Thy goodness art wont to do, that I may walk according to every indication of Thy will. Myself and all that are mine I commit to Thee for Thy correction; it is better to be chastised here than hereafter. Thou knowest all and everything, and nothing in man's conscience lieth hidden from Thee. Coming events Thou knowest before they happen; and Thou hast no need to be taught or admonished by any one of what is being done on earth. Thou knowest what is expedient for my progress, and how much tribulation serveth to cleanse away the rust of sin. Do with me according to Thy desired good pleasure; and despise not my sinful life, to no one better or more clearly known than to Thyself alone.
7. Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know; to love what I ought to love; to praise that which is most pleasing to Thee; to esteem that which appeareth to Thee valuable; to abhor that which is filthy in Thy sight. suffer me not to judge according to the sight of the outward eyes, nor to give sentence according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men; but to determine upon matters both visible and spiritual with true judgment and, above all things, ever to seek Thy good will and pleasure.
8. The senses of men are often deceived in giving judgments; and the lovers of this world are deceived in loving only visible things. How is a man a whit better for being reputed greater by man? The deceitful deceiveth the deceitful, the vain deceiveth the vain, the blind the blind, the weak the weak, as often as he extolleth him; and, in truth, doth rather confound him, whilst he vainly praiseth him. For how much soever each one is in Thy eyes, so much is he and no more, saith the humble Saint Francis.
As God is the sovereign purity and the essence of sanctity, so He is pleased to purify our souls by the most painful and humiliating sufferings in this life, or by torments the most acute and piercing in purgatory, to fit them for the possession of Himself in the kingdom of heaven. By these means He brings them to that degree of purity which is necessary to qualify them for the eternal and happy possession of His sanctity. Hence, that which constitutes the confirmity of a faithful soul, with the designs of God for its sanctification and salvation is, first, to live in such purity of heart as to avoid all willful sin, all human attachments, and, above all, the pursuits of self-love, habitual faults, and self-will; secondly, it is to be ready to receive, from Jesus Christ, trials the most humiliating, and most contrary to its own inclinations; thirdly, it is to support and fight without ceasing, against the most violent and importunate temptations, by having perpetual recourse to God, with a firm confidence in His goodness; fourthly, in all sufferings, it is to keep up a continual spirit of compunction, mortification, and of a horror of sin, which will preserve us from falling into it; fifthly, it is to be most diligent in keeping a guard over the senses and the heart, that no sensual or merely human satisfaction may enter in; sixthly, it is to be humble, dependent, little, and nothing before God, to desire nothing but His will, and to rejoice in its accomplishment, even under the pressure of the heaviest calamities.
Although! I am convinced, O God, of the necessity of being humble, faithful, and resigned to affliction, yet to excuse my impatience, how often do I pretend that it is the result of a religious fear and anxiety, lest these trials should end in sin, instead of victory. But dost Thou not know better than I do, O Father of mercies, and God of all consolation? didst Thou not see this danger? and is this not sufficient to induce Thee, the best of fathers, to assist me? Alas! O Lord, abandon me not, and deliver me not to the desires of my corrupt heart. Remember, O Jesus, how much I have cost Thee, and suffered not Thy torments and death to plead for me in vain. I ardently desire that peace which Thou givest to Thy children, and I find nothing within me but trouble and agitation. Why am I so averse to good, and so much inclined to evil? Why is my soul so frequently bewildered amidst the irregular demands of my passions, and carried by its first impulse towards everything that is contrary to Thy holy will? I mourn over the corruption of my heart, and from Thee alone do I hope for deliverance. It is just I should suffer, on account of my sins; but it is not just I should sin in my sufferings. May I never offend Thee and ruin myself by impatience under affliction, but, O God, grant that by them I may sanctify my soul and secure my salvation. Amen."
Taken from The Following Of Christ:
In Four Books, by Thomas A. Kempis
. Book 3, Chapter L, pp. 389-396.