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CHAPTER XII

Of his devoutness in prayer and in hearing Holy things

(1)

WHO can tell how devout and fervent he showed himself in prayer? Often while reciting the “Hours” he broke forth with the voice of joy through the superabundance of grace which was shed upon him, and in sweet sounding hymns 31poured forth his inward rejoicing; and as he sang softly within his heart, his spirit, as a flame, was borne upward to God. He had more delight in holy discourse and devout prayer than he had had of old in worldly revellings or in the varied strains of singing men. He had one John of Zutphen to minister to him, who was surnamed Brinckerinc, a devout clerk of stablished character and one dedicated to God from his youth: he was wont to recite the “Hours” with Gerard, and to accompany him hither and thither when he preached, and Gerard loved him with the love of a father for his son, for indeed he was a youth of an excellent spirit, well beloved of God and man, and scarcely could be torn from his master’s side. (2) Upon a time when they had made an end of reading the “Hours,” Gerard said to him: “Of what thinkest thou? Understandest thou what thou readest? Tell me what is in thy mind.” But he replied to his master: “How should I understand except some man should guide me.” Then said Gerard to his disciple: “To me there come divers and mystic interpretations, and they lead my mind secretly from one meaning to another so that I could feel no weariness in reading, but should rejoice to dwell some while longer upon these good words.” When he was upon a journey and had been received into a guest chamber, after saying Compline he spoke to his two companions, Florentius and the aforesaid John: “Let us say each one of us our daily suffrages”; and this too was a pious custom with them, that each one should tell the other of his own failings if he had seen anything worthy of blame in himself: they freely admonished one another in turn, gladly submitting themselves to censure, and acknowledging 32their sins with humility asked pardon therefor; and being thus corrected in brotherly love, they went to rest.

(3) Once when the people of Deventer were going out armed against their enemies, this man of God prayed earnestly for the safety of his fellow citizens, and it happened by a dispensation of God that as the foe drew near, a thick cloud rose between the armies by which the opposing host was terrified and took to flight, but the men of Deventer returned to their city with speed and in safety—for the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Every morning before he began to be about his worldly business, or to reply to those who questioned him, he would rekindle his mind by reading the Scriptures, for he ever studied to preface all that he should do with devout meditations and prayers according to that saying of the Psalmist: “My eyes to Thee have prevented the morning that I might meditate on thy words.”

(4) It was his rule to hear Mass daily with deep reverence and due devotion, seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and afterward devoting himself to the service of his neighbour, thus in this twofold duty he held to the right path, as it is said in the book of Canticles: “He set in order charity in me.” When he entered a Church he did not stand up to gaze upon the painted windows in the walls overhead, but bent the knee with humility before God, and prostrated himself in prayer; and he would hold no converse there, but delighted only to hear the praises of God, or to read the “Hours,” for he avoided every idle word in the Temple of the Almighty. Lest his devotion might be disturbed by the concourse of 33men, or his secret converse with God be observed of bystanders, he secured a secluded and private place among the Friars-minor, and there alone and in secret he lay prostrate in prayer, gazing upon and adoring the Holy Sacrament of the Altar: for there was a small window through which the several altars could be seen. Here with prayers and groaning he knocked at the gate of Heaven, beating upon his breast most grievously, like the Publican, beseeching God to be propitious to him, and to pardon his past sins; to cleanse him from evil and the passions which threatened him; and to protect him from further perils by the bestowal of His Fatherly care, as in times past.

(5) He was so eminent for devotion and meditation as to earn the comfort of a revelation from God, and the instruction of a spirit of prophecy as to future events. Thus he consoled one of his pupils, who was sad by reason of the long continued absence of a brother, with the tidings that he should soon come to him, “for thy brother is well,” said Gerard, “and will come shortly”; and so it came to pass. He also foretold of certain brothers who clung to him, that some of them should be promoted to the priesthood and some should take upon them the profession of the Religious Life. Once, being inflamed by a mighty longing for Eternal Life, he said to one of his pupils: “What further can I do here? would that I were with my Lord in Heaven”; and the brother answered him, saying: “Beloved Master, we cannot yet do without thy presence; who would instruct us as thou dost, and strive so earnestly on our behalf? We are few and feeble, and these worldlings perchance might soon put us to rout”; but 34Gerard again confidently affirmed: “I will ask the Father for you, that your devotion fail not, for it is a tree that the Lord hath planted upon this earth; I hope that this small beginning shall come to a great issue. God of His goodness shall provide for Himself another fitting man instead of me, who without doubt shall take his place as a buttress to the House of the Lord.

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