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CHAPTER II.

HOW WE OUGHT TO BESTOW OUR TIME FROM OUR FIRST RISING TO MATINS IN THE MORNING. .

AS soon as you are awake and ready to rise to Matins, devoutly arm yourself with the sign of the Cross, and briefly pray to God that He will vouchsafe to blot out the stains of sin in you, and be pleased to help you. Then, casting all vain imaginations out of your mind, think upon some other thing that is spiritual, and conceive as much purity of heart as you can, rejoicing in yourself that you are called up to the praise and worship of your Creator. But if frailty of body, if heaviness of sleep, if conturbation of spirit, depress you, be not out of heart, but be comforted and force yourself, overcoming all impediments with reason and willingness; for the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Certainly, according to the labour which 9you undergo for the love of God, such shall be your recompense and reward. Being come off from your bed, commend and offer yourself, both body and soul, to the Most High; make haste to the choir, as to a place of refuge and the garden of spiritual delights. Until Divine Office begins, study to keep your mind in peace and simplicity, free from troubles and the multiplicity of uncertain thoughts; collecting a goodly and sweet affection towards your God by sincere meditation or prayer. In the performance of the Divine Office have a care to pronounce and hear the holy words reverently, perfectly, thankfully, and attentively, that you may taste that your Lord is sweet, and may feel that the Word of God hath incomprehensible sweetness and power. For whatsoever the Holy Ghost hath dictated is indeed the life-procuring food, and the delightful solace of a chaste, sober, and humble soul. Remember, therefore, to be there faithfully attentive, but avoid too vehement cogitations and motions of mind; especially if your head be weak, lest being hurt or wearied, confounded and straitened internally, you shut the sanctuary of God against yourself. Reject, likewise, too troublesome care, 10which commonly bringeth with it pusillanimity and restlessness, and persevere with a gentle, quiet, and watchful spirit in the praises of God, without singularity. But if you cannot keep your -heart from wanderings, be not dejected in mind; but patiently endeavour, patiently do what lieth in your power, committing the rest to the divine will. Persevere in your goodly affection towards God, and even your very defects, which you are no way able to exclude, will in a manner beget you consolation. For as the earth, which is of a convenient nature, Both by the casting of dung, oftentimes more faithfully send forth her seeds; so a mind of goodwill, out of the defects which by constraint it sustaineth, shall in due time receive the most sweet fruit of divine visitation, if it endure them with patience.

And what profit do you reap by being impatient? Do you not heap calamity upon calamity? Do you not show your want of true humility, and bewray in yourself a pernicious propriety?22   This word is here used in a sense perhaps new to many readers. It does not of course mean what we now commonly understand by it; but is used by Blosius and by many other ascetic writers to signify a habit of mind the opposite of that which is expressed by the word “detachment.” “Self-seeking” has been suggested to me as an equivalent, but it hardly is so. Perhaps “the thinking of things solely with reference to oneself,” or “a desire to possess things whether temporal or spiritual for oneself alone,” would express the idea intended to be conveyed by the word. But the periphrasis would be long and awkward, and I leave the word as it is, here and elsewhere in the treatise, with this explanation.11 As long as you do reverently assist, and are ready with a prompt desire of will to attend, you have satisfied God; neither will He impute the inordinateness of this instability to you, if so be by your negligence you give not consent unto it, and before the time of prayer you set a guard over your senses. If you cannot offer a perfect dutifulness, offer at least a good will: offer a right intent in the spirit of humility; and so the devil shall not find any occasion to cavil against you. Although you have nothing else to offer but a readiness, in body and spirit, to serve our Lord in holy fear, be sure of it that you shall not lose your reward. But, woe to your soul, if you be negligent and remiss, and care not to give attendance; for it is written—“Cursed is the man that doth the work of God negligently.” Be diligent, that you may perform what you are able, if you 12be not able to perform what you desire. Upon this security, be not troubled when impediments happen, and you be not able to perform as much as you would. When, I say, distraction of your senses, dejection of mind, dryness of heart, grief of head, or any other misery or temptation afflicteth you, beware you say not: I am left, our Lord hath cast me away, my duty pleaseth Him not. These . are words befitting the children of distrust. Endure, therefore, with a patient and joyful mind all things for His sake that hath called and chosen you, firmly believing that He is near to those that are of a contrite heart. For if you humbly, without murmuring, carry this burden laid on you, not by mortal tongue to be uttered, what a deal of glory you heap up for yourself in the life to come. You may truly say unto God: As a beast am I become with Thee. Believe me, Brother, if being replete with internal sweetness, and lifted up above yourself, you fly up to the third heaven, and there converse with Angels, you shall not do so great a deed as if for God’s sake you shall effectually endure grief and banishment of heart and be conformable to our Saviour; when, in 13extreme sorrow, anguish, fear, and adversity, crying unto His Father—“Let Thy will be done;” Who also, being thrust through His hands and feet, hanging on the Cross, had not whereon to lean His Head; Who also most lovingly endured for thee all the griefs and disgraces of His most bitter Passion. Therefore, in holy longanimity, contain yourself, and expect in silence until it shall please the Most High to dispose otherwise. And certainly in that day it shall not be demanded of you how much internal sweetness you have here felt;. but how faithful you have been in the love and service of God.

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