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CHAPTER XXVII.

ON OBEDIENCE AND DISOBEDIENCE. ON A MODEST AND EDIFYING DEPORTMENT.

THOU shalt always prefer to thy private exercises, the duties to be performed in community, and those which relate to obedience or to the necessities of our neighbour, so that thou mayest cease to belong to thyself. Obedience is the greatest virtue, it is, certainly, the chief of virtues; on the other hand, to refuse acquiescence is the most grievous wickedness. Thou wilt, sometimes, make more progress in perfection of life by an insignificant work done under obedience, than by sublime exercises performed by thy own choice. What thou doest through disobedience, is utterly rejected by God, and, instead of being useful to thee, turns wholly to thy injury. Do thou, therefore, obey God, obey the Catholic Church, obey those who hold the place of C4od; obey thy Prelates, and reverence them, even if they seem not to lead very good lives. For, if thou obeyest not these, thou obeyest not God: since He saith, “He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me” (St. Luke x. 16). Thou shalt prefer nothing whatever to holy obedience; but submit thyself in all things which are not certainly evil.

Heresies have no other origin than pride and disobedience. For what is it that heretics do? They deride the simplicity which is in Christ; they contemn the holy traditions and customs of the Church, 71they impiously call them vain dreams of men, and empty ceremonies; with presumptuous daring they heap up blasphemies against the Saints of God, against the Virgin Mary the Mother of Christ, against the Sacraments of our religion, and, lastly, even against the Blessed Trinity; they spurn, ridicule, hate, and persecute all faithful Catholics; they esteem themselves alone to be wise, evangelical, and full of the Holy Spirit; they make a monstrous confusion of dogmas, they adhere pertinaciously to their own opinions; they will not follow the footsteps of the orthodox Fathers, they will not humble themselves at the feet of .Mother Church; but, full of arrogance, full of envy and insane fury, they persist in their perverse dogmas; and many of them are led by their blindness and hardness of heart to such a degree of folly that they undergo death with courage and alacrity for the defence of their errors, becoming in deed martyrs, not of Christ, but of Satan. In the martyrs of Christ, holy humility shines forth; in martyrs of the devil, the harshness of pride is conspicuous. Do thou sedulously pray to God for such men, and hold their pestilent opinions in abhorrence.

Submit to the decrees of the Church, which is ever governed by the Holy Spirit; follow her teaching, as thou dost the Gospel itself, even if thou shouldst see that many of her members, not only among the common people, but also among the rulers and those of high rank, give way to vices; for she is a threshing-floor, containing both wheat and chaff.

Beware of obstinacy in thy own opinion. Consult 72willingly spiritual men and those who fear God; prefer their judgment to thine own. For he goes not readily astray, who is humble and leans more on the prudence of others than on his own; and if in his simplicity he should err, the Lord will not impute to him the error.

Avoid all blameable singularity, and as much as in thee lies, guard against giving scandal to any. If, how ever, any one is offended at thy doing or saving what it is right for thee to do or to say, desist not on that account from what thou hast begun, but humbly persevering, and praying for those who are scandalized, commit the affair to God.

Do thou carefully rule all thy members, and retrain all thy senses. Be composed and staid in thy manners, joyful and serene, in countenance, modest in aspect, calm and gentle in voice, innocent and pure in thought, faithful and vigorous in works, kind and affable in conversation; but thy affability must never lead to foolish mirth. Abstain prudently from blame worthy trifling, from violent laughter, from games that are wanting in due propriety and moderation; for by these unbecoming liberties the purity of the heart is injured, and the sanctuary of holy modesty violated, Thou mayest, however, at fitting times relax and recreate thy mind to the honour of God, even in outward amusements, that thou mayest return with the morn vigour to thy spiritual exercises; but it must be done with moderation and from pure motives. God does not command us to refuse all solace from creatures, which He made to praise Him; He 73does not enjoin us to separate ourselves from them, except inasmuch as they impede our love and familiarity towards Him. They impede us, when we are attached to them more or otherwise than is fitting; when we cling to them and rest in them.

Every inordinate affection must, therefore, be utterly rooted out; after this is done, these same creatures will not separate us from God, but will lead us to Him, as it were, by the hand.

Whatever sweetness, whatever joy, whatever objects worthy of love or admiration, offer themselves to thy senses, receive them with a chaste mind, and learn to refer them to God, or to the state of eternal blessedness. So wilt thou be joyful in the Lord,

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