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CHAPTER XI.

PERSEVERANCE IN CONFESSION OF THE FAITH UNDER TRIALS, AFTER THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.

IF by the permission of God thou shouldst fall into such sir; sits as to be forced either to deny the Christian faith, or to undergo torments, and even death itself; do thou rather die a thousand times, so to speak, than say a word, or give a sign of impious denial. Flatter not thyself, say not to thyself, 1 am weak, I have a horror of tortures: what harm will it do if, compelled by fear, 1 deny Christ by a word or a sign, provided I confess and adore Him meanwhile in my heart? Does He not regard the mind rather than words or works? 1 will outwardly deny Him, but I will not deny Him inwardly. Thou art utterly mistaken if thou thus persuadest thyself. For it is written, “With the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. x. 10). The Christian faith must be confessed not only in secret, but openly, when occasion requires it. He says who 28is Truth itself, “He that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven” (Matth. x. 33).

If thou hast denied Him, thou hast fallen away from God, and art cut off and separated from the communion of the faithful; nor canst thou be again received into their number, unless thou dost boldly confess the faith which thou hast, impiously denied; and, having imitated the Apostle St. Peter in his denial, dost imitate him also in his penance (St. Luke xxii. 62).

If thou fearest thy own weakness, avoid persecution, if thou canst. But if, when thou fliest from it, thou art caught and questioned, know that then thou canst no longer evade it. Blessed is that martyr, who humbly and patiently lays down his life, even though with fear and sadness, either for the Christian faith, or for the good of his neighbour, or for the sake of justice and truth. For our Lord, wishing to console His elect, who, from human frailty, are overcome with fear, and tremble at the prospect of death, transferred their weakness to Himself, when, at the approach of His Passion, full of fear and sadness, He said, “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death,” (St. Mark, xiv. 31).

Whatever troubles may befall thee, whether they be great or small, accustom thyself to commend and offer them to the eternal praise of the Most High in these or similar words; “O Lord, 1 commend and offer Thee, to the everlasting praise of Thy name, this necessity, this misery, this difficulty, this temptation; I offer Thee this calamity, in union with the Passion and 29 sorrows of Thy only begotten Son, to Thy eternal glory.” Thou mayest in the same way offer to God any of thy works or exercises. This oblation can be made even in a moment without words, namely, by the simple and placid elevation of the mind to God. From this custom thou wilt reap immense fruit. For thus thy works, which of themselves are vile and imperfect, being united to the merits of Christ, will be come perfect and most worthy.

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