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Of his abstinence, and the shirt of hair which be wore


THIS new soldier of Christ therefore, fearlessly took his post in the Carthusian Camp: and within he was not overcome by the weariness of his cell, nor abroad was he broken down by the burden of his toil, but as a true son of the Cloister he kept watch over both heart and lips. Moreover he carefully tilled the field of his own heart, making a daily and rigorous inspection of the same, rooting out the thorns of vice and sowing the seeds of virtue.

So Gerard waging spiritual warfare against flesh and blood, was by his retreat strongly armed against himself that he might the more quickly overthrow the Devil, the Ruler of this world and the Prince of Darkness.

He did not pamper himself, as loving, luxury, nor spare himself as being weak, nor make excuses for himself as being innocent, nor put off the time of repentance like a careless and lukewarm servant; but mindful of his former evil living, he took unto him the spirit of contrition, and for the name of Jesus, crucified his own flesh with its affections and lusts, desiring to win favour in the sight of Christ. Though his body was frail, he laid upon it frequent fasts; he abstained from flesh (as is the custom of the Carthusian order), and also from many foods which that Custom allows; he prolonged the watches of the night, 16and drove away the heaviness of sleep from his eyes by standing, by prayer and by genuflexion; and in the spirit of devotion he compelled the body to be a slave to the soul.

(2) He girt his loins with a cloth of hair which was very rough and full of knots that the wantonness of the flesh might not allure him: and he faithfully mortified the body for the soul’s sake, constraining his reins with the firm strength of purity. Thus he truly, and to the very letter fulfilled the words of the prophet in the Psalm, and could justly say, “But as for me, when they were troublesome to me I was clothed with hair-cloth.”

“O good Master who were they that were thine enemies in the Cloister?”

“Verily the desires of the flesh, the allurements of the world, and the temptations of the Devil.”

“Wondrous is it that in this retreat where thou dwellest far from worldly things thou shouldest have temptations!”

“I am not safe, neither I nor any man who is born in sinful flesh; but that I may not be overcome of depraved affections or moved by evil example I have sought a place of solitude in the greater hope of divine protection. Even Christ Himself was never so openly tempted as when He entered into the desert and fasted from food, and yet He was not disturbed by any human passion. I, therefore, who am a sinner, that I may give the more satisfaction to my God, have withdrawn myself from men and humbled my soul with fasting that my prayer might be turned into mine own bosom.”

A certain devout sister, whom Gerard had converted, told me certain things: how that after his death she saw his hair shirt, and touched it with 17her hands; it was very long and rough and had many knots in it for the infliction of greater punishment upon him.

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