Simplicity brings back the joys of Paradise. Not that we have pure pleasure without a moment's suffering, but when we are surrendered to God, we are not grasping for pleasure, and even our troubles are received with thanksgiving. This inner harmony, and this deliverance from fear and the tormenting desires of self, create a satisfaction in the soul which is above all the intoxicating joys of this world put together.
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How different the peace of God from that of the world! It calms the passions, preserves the purity of the conscience, is inseparable from righteousness, unites us to God and strengthens us against temptations. The peace of the soul consists in an absolute resignation to the will of God.
Alas! how many souls there are full of self, and yet desirous of doing good and serving God, but in such a way as to suit themselves; who desire to impose rules upon God as to His manner of drawing them to Himself. They want to serve and possess Him, but they are not willing to be possessed by Him.
As the reflections of our pride upon our defects are bitter, disheartening, and vexatious, so the return of the soul towards God is peaceful and sustained by confidence. You will find by experience how much more your progress will be aided by this simple, peaceful turning towards God, than by all your chagrin and spite at .the faults that exist in you.
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Do we accustom ourselves to see all things in the light of faith? Do we correct all our judgments by it? Alas! The greater part of Christians think and act like mere heathens; if we judge (as we justly may) of their faith by their practice, we must conclude they have no faith at all.
Simplicity is the straightforwardness of a soul which refuses itself any reaction with regard to itself or its deeds. This virtue differs from and surpasses sincerity. We see many people who are sincere without being simple. They do not wish to be taken for other than what they are; but they are always fearing lest they should be taken for what they are not.
God felt, God tasted and enjoyed is indeed God, but God with those gifts which flatter the soul, God in darkness, in privation, in forsakenness, in sensibility, is so much God, that he is so to speak God bare and alone. Shall we fear this death, which is to produce in us the true divine life of grace?
Wine is the source of the greatest evils among communities. It causes diseases, quarrels, seditions, idleness, aversion to labor, and family disorders. . . . It is a species of poison that causes madness. It does not make a man die, but it degrades him into a brute. Men may preserve their health and vigor without wine; with wine they run the risk of ruining their health and losing their morals.
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The Christian life is a long and continual tendency of our hearts toward that eternal goodness which we desire on earth. All our happiness consists in thirsting for it. Now this thirst is prayer. Ever desire to approach your Creator, and you will never cease to pray. Do not think it necessary to pronounce many words.
On this earth all is temptation. Crosses tempt us by irritating our pride, and prosperity by flattering it. Our life is a continual combat, but one in which Jesus Christ fights for us. We must pass on unmoved, while temptations rage around us, as the traveler, overtaken by a storm, simply wraps his cloak more closely about him, and pushes on more vigorously toward his destined home.
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A cross borne in simplicity, without the interference of self-love to augment it, is only half a cross. Suffering in this simplicity of love, we are not only happy in spile of the cross, but because of it; for love is pleased in suffering for the Well Beloved, and the cross which forms us into His image is a consoling bond of love.
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When we are truly in this interior simplicity our whole appearance is franker, more natural. This true simplicity. . . makes us conscious of a certain openness, gentleness, innocence, gaiety, and serenity. O, how amiable this simplicity is! Who will give it to me? I leave all for this. It is the pearl of the Gospel.
Let me follow in Thy footsteps, O Jesus ! I would imitate Thee, but cannot without the aid of Thy grace! O humble and lowly Saviour, grant me the knowledge of the true Christian, and that I may willingly despise myself; let me learn the lesson so incomprehensible to the mind of man, that I must die to myself by an abandonment that shall produce true humility.
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I had often heard Mentor say, that the voluptuous were never brave, and I now found by experience that it was true; for the Cyprians whose jollity had been so extravagant and tumultuous, now sunk under a sense of their danger and wept like women. I heard nothing but the screams of terror and the wailings of hopeless distress. Some lamented the loss of pleasures that were never to return; but none had presence of mind either to undertake or direct the navigation of the menaced vessel.
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