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How he once entered into a loving account with God.

DURING this season of the Servitor’s sufferings, and in the places where he then lived, if he sometimes happened to go into the infirmary to give a little refreshment to his sick body, or if he sat silent at table according to his custom, he was sorely tried by mocking discourse and unseemly words; and this at first was 136a great suffering to him, and made him feel such pity for himself that the hot tears would often run down his cheeks, and force their way with what he ate or drank into his mouth. At such times he used to look up silently to God, and, groaning inwardly, exclaim:—Alas, O God! art not Thou content with the misery which I suffer day and night? Must even my scanty food at table be mingled with great persecutions? This happened to him oftentimes and abundantly.

Once on leaving table he could restrain himself no longer, and, going into his place of privacy, he said to God:—Dear God, Lord of the whole world, be gentle and gracious to me, poor man, for I must enter into account with Thee to-day. I cannot help doing it; and though in truth Thou owest no man aught, and art bound to no one by reason of Thy high sovereignty, nevertheless it well beseems Thy infinite goodness graciously to suffer a fall heart to seek refreshment in Thee, when it has no one else to whom it can make its plaint or who can comfort it. O Lord, I call Thee to witness, who knowest all things, that from my mother’s womb all my life through I have had a tender heart. I never yet saw any one in 137pain or sadness but I had a heartfelt pity for him; and I never willingly gave ear to talk which would grieve any one, whether behind his back or in his presence. All my companions must allow that it has been seldom heard of me that I ever by my words made worse the case of any brother, or of any one else, either to the prelate or to others; but I made every one’s case better, so far as I was able; and when I could not do this, I was silent, or I fled away that I might not hear it. Out of pity I showed all the more friendship towards those who were wounded in their honour, that they might more easily recover their good repute. I was called the faithful father of the poor. I was a special friend of all God’s friends. All who ever came to me in sorrow, or aggrieved, always received some good counsel from me, which made them leave me joyful and consoled; for I wept with those who wept, and I sorrowed with those who were in sorrow, until, like a mother, I brought them round again. No one ever caused me any suffering however great, but if he only smiled kindly on me afterwards, it was all past and over in God’s name, as if it had never been. O Lord, I will say no more about mankind, for 138I could not even see or hear the needs and sorrows of all the little birds and beasts and other creatures of God without being pierced to the heart thereby, and I used to pray the kind Lord of all to help them. Whatever lives on earth met with favour and tender treatment from me. And yet Thou, O kind Lord, sufferest some, of whom dear Paul speaks, calling them false brethren, to behave to me so exceeding cruelly, as Thou knowest well, O Lord, and it is manifest enough. Alas, kind Lord! look at this, and console me for it with Thyself.

After he had spent a long time in thus refreshing his heart with God, there came upon him a stillness of repose, and he was inwardly illuminated by God in this wise:—The childish account which thou hast entered into with Me comes from this, that thou dost not always keep before thee the words and ways of the suffering Christ. Thou must know that God is not satisfied with the mere kindliness of heart which thou professest; He wants still more from thee. What He wants is, that when thou art openly ill-treated by any one in words or behaviour, thou shalt not only bear it patiently, but shalt die to self so utterly as not to go to sleep that night until thou hast sought out thy 139persecutor, and, as far as possible, calmed his incensed heart with thy sweet words and ways; for with such meek lowliness thou wilt take from him sword and knife, and make him powerless in his malevolence. See, this is the old and perfect way which the dear Christ taught His disciples, when He said, “Behold, I send you as lambs among the wolves” (Luke x. 3).

When the Servitor came to himself again, this perfect way seemed to him too burdensome, and it was grievous to him to contemplate it, and still more grievous to follow it. Nevertheless he submitted himself thereto, and began to learn it.

Now it happened one day after this that a lay brother spoke very insolently to him, and abused him openly. The Servitor bore it patiently in silence, and he would gladly have let it rest there. But he was inwardly admonished that he must do something better than this. Accordingly, when it became evening, and the brother was eating in the infirmary, the Servitor went and stood in front of the infirmary, waiting for him to come out. As soon as he came out, the Servitor fell on his knees before him, and addressed him in words of humble entreaty:—140I pray thee, dear worthy father, honour God in me, poor man, and if I have troubled you, for give me, for God’s sake. The brother stood still, and, looking up in amazement, exclaimed, with a loud cry:—Ah me! what a marvellous thing you are doing! and yet you never injured me, nor any one else. It is I who have openly outraged you by my villanous words. You must indeed forgive me, I entreat you. In this way his heart was stilled and restored to peace.

Once upon a time, as he sat at table in the guest-house, a brother insulted him with scornful talk. Upon which the Servitor turned to wards him very lovingly, and smiled upon him, as though he had just received a precious jewel from him. The brother was so moved by this, that he became silent, and turned his face again in kindliness towards the Servitor. When the meal was ended, the brother spoke of it in the town, saying:—I have never been so grossly insulted as I was to-day at table; for, after I had treated the Servitor with open rudeness at table, he bowed his face towards me so very sweetly, that I became red with shame; and it shall always be a good lesson to me.

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