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SEE that thou perform not thy exercises with obstinate adherence to thy own choice; but in them also deny thyself. Thou shouldst carefully observe, and promptly follow the interior calls, and the hidden force and impulse of the Holy Spirit, and be ready, in obedience to His will, but not out of levity and in constancy, to change those exercises, to give them up, and to resume them.

In thy private prayers and holy aspirations to God, it will sometimes, perhaps, be best for thee to utter thy prayer peacefully in words; sometimes, it will suit thee better to pray mentally, At one time thou wilt take pleasure in passing through some parts without much delay, at another in dwelling long on parts of thy meditation. Sometimes thou wilt choose 65to pray by desires alone, or in very few words, repeating them often with sweetness and devotion; sometimes to pray in many and various words. It will be pleasant to thee, sometimes, to read thy prayers out of a book, sometimes to offer them to God without the aid of a book. Sometimes psalmody, sometimes another sort of contemplation may be most sweet to the taste of thy heart. In short, thou wilt be drawn to different practices at different times, and it will be good for thee to follow now one and now another form of exercises. For the Holy Spirit influences the interior man in various ways, and leads him by divers paths to the embraces of divine love; and we must ever be most watchful for His calls and impulses, that we may always bend to His will, utterly abandoning our own choice.

Seek not after sweetness in thy exercises from impure motives; rest not in it, but pass on through it to God. There is great danger in spiritual greediness. by which we abuse the sweetness of grace, and turn it to our own pleasure. The .soul which is deeply infected with this vice cannot be called a modest and faithful servant of Christ: for she will not serve God generously, but desires God’s gifts rather than God Himself. She is a mercenary slave, not a freeborn daughter. If that sensible sweetness passes away, she becomes at once all full of bitterness, indignation, turbulence, and impatience, and abandons the pursuit, of piety; and, shaking off the trammels of fear and shame, she gives herself up entirely to external consolations. That is to say, if God wills to give her 66pleasure, she serves God; if not, she withdraws from Him. On the other hand, the soul which deserves to be called the faithful handmaid, or the modest spouse of Christ, reposes not in the gift of God, but in God Himself. Whether God bestows on her interior sweetness or not, she remains tranquil, she cheerfully serves her Spouse, faithfully clings to Him, and constantly loves Him. She wishes the will of God to be clone rather than her own. Therefore, be careful that thy intention be ever chaste and pure; seek after the joy of the salvation of God (Ps. l. 14), not so much for thy own delight, as that thou mayest please God.

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