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Instructions and Counsels to Confessors and Spiritual Directors.
28. The highest and most profitable Ministry, is that of a Confessor, and Spiritual Director; and irreparable are the damages, if it be not well performed.
29. It would be prudently done, to chuse a Patron for so great a Ministry; and that should be the Saints to whom one has greatest Devotion.
30. The chief and most secure Document is, to endavour the internal and continual retirement; and so he’ll walk well in all the exercises and employments of his own State and Calling, particularly in that of the Confession seat; for when the Soul inwardly Recollected, sallies out to be employed in those external and necessary Exercises, it is God who Illuminates and Works in them.
31. In the Conduct of Souls that are Internal, Documents are not to be given to them, but with mildness and prudence: The Obstacles which hinder the Influences of God, are only to be taken out of the way; however it may be needful to arm them with that holy Counsel of Sacretum meum mihi.
32. Many Souls think, that all Confessors are capable of internal Matters; but besides, that is a mistake, it is found by experience to be a great prejudice to communicate them to those who are not so: Because, tho God hath placed them in the inward Way, yet they’ll not know these matters, nor advise them to Souls, for want of experience; so that they’ll hinder the Progress to Contemplation, enjoying them to Meditate by force, tho’ they cannot; and by that means, they stun and ruin instead of helping them in their Flight: for God will have them to advance to Contemplation, and they draw them to Meditation, because they know no other way.
33. If a Confessor would reap Fruit, he is not to look out for any Soul that he may Guide it; it concerns them to come of themselves, and all are not to be admitted, especially if they be Women, because they are not wont to come with sufficient disposition: Not to make ones self a Master, nor be willing to appear so, is an excellent means of doing good.
34. The Confessor is to make use of the name of Daughter, as little as he can; because it is most dangerous, God being so Jealous, and the Epithet so Amorous.
35. The Employments which a confessor accepts of, out of his Confession seat, ought to be but few; because God will not have him to be an Agent in Business; and if it were possible, he should not be seen, but in his Confession chair.
36. A God-father, or Executor to a Man’s last Will and Testament, he ought not, so much as once, to be, all his life long, because it brings many disturbances to the Soul, all of ‘um contrary to the Perfection of so high a Ministry.
37. The Confessor or spiritual Director never ought to Visit his spiritual Daughters, not so much as in case of Sickness, unless he should indeed be then sent for, on the part of her that is ill.
38. If the Confessor procures an inward and outward Recollection, his words will be (tho’ he knows it not) like Coals kindled, setting their Souls afire.
39. In the Confessionary, his Reproofs must be ordinarily gentle and sweet, altho’ in the Pulpit they are severe and rigorous; because in this he ought to be raging as a Lyon, and in that, he ought to put on the meekness of a Lamb: O how powerful is sweet Reproof for Penitents! In the Confessionary they are already moved; but in the Pulpit their blindness and hardness, makes it necessary to frighten ‘um: yet these ought to be perswaded and reproved rigorously, who come indisposed, and would have Absolution by force.
40. When all that is possible, is done for the benefit of Souls, the Fruit of it is not to be lookt after; because the Devil doth subtilly make that seem his own, which is God’s; and assaults with self Conceit and vain Complacency, the capital Enemies of Annihilation; which the Confessor always ought to bring about for such a spiritual Dying.
41. Altho’ he often see that Souls are not advantaged, and that those which are edified, loose the Spirit, let him not be disquieted at this, but possess himself in peace, like the Guardian Angles; then let him take courage inwardly, with the sense of his own Sincerity, because sometimes God suffers such a thing among other ends, to humble him.
42. The Confessor ought to avoid himself, and perswade the Souls under his conduct, also, to avoid all sort of outwardness, because it is much abhorred by the Lord.
43. Although he ought not to order Souls to be Communicated, nor take any Communion from ‘em, whether for Tryal or Mortification (since there are infinite waies of Trying ‘em and Mortifying ‘em, without so great a prejudice) yet he ought not to be niggardly with those Souls which are moved by a true Desire, because Jesus Christ indured not to be shut up.
44. Experience shews us that ‘tis a difficult thing to fulfil a Penance, when it is great and immoderate: ‘tis alwaies best to have it, of some profitable and moderate matter.
45. If the Spiritual Father shews, with any singularity, a greater affection to a Daughter, and such as gives very great disturbance to others of her Sex: here he must use privacy and prudence, and must not speak to any with particularity; because the Devil loves to make strife with the Guide of Souls, and makes use of those very words to disturb others.
46. The continual and principle Exercise of Souls, purely Mystical, must be in the interior Man, producing with privacy, the destruction of Self-love, and the encouraging of ‘em to the enduring of inward Mortifications; by which the Lord Cleanses, Annihilates and perfects them.
47. The Desire of Revelations, uses to be a great hindrance to the interior Soul, especially to Women; and there is not an ordinary Dream, but they will Christen it with the name of a Vision. ‘Tis necessary to shew abhorrence to all these hindrances.
48. Although Silence be a difficult thing to Women, in the things which the Director orders ‘em, yet must he procure it: since it is not good that the things inspired into him from the Lord, should become the Mark for Censures to shoot at.
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