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CHAPTER V


OF HOLY PATIENCE


He who with steadfast humility and patience endureth tribulations for the fervent love of God, shall soon attain to great graces and virtues; he shall be lord of this world, and shall have an earnest of that glorious world which is to come.

Everything which a man doth, be it good or evil, he doeth it unto himself. Therefore, be not thou offended with him who injures thee, but rather, in humble patience, sorrow only for his sin, having compassion on him, and praying fervently for him to God. For, in so far as a man is strong to suffer and endure injuries and tribulations patiently for the love of God, so great, and no greater, is he before God; and the weaker a man is to endure sufferings and adversities for the love of God, the less is he in the sight of God.

If any man praise thee, speaking well of thee, render thou that praise unto God alone; and if any man reproach thee, speaking evil of thee, do thou help him by speaking of thyself still worse.

If thou wouldst maintain thine own cause, strive to make it appear evil, and maintain that of thy companion good, ever accusing thyself and sincerely excusing thy neighbour. When anyone strives and contends with thee, if thou wouldst conquer, lose thy case, and losing it thou shalt conquer; for if thou wilt go to law to obtain the victory, when thou believest thou hast obtained it, thou shalt find thyself shamefully defeated. Wherefore, my brother, believe me assuredly that the certain way to gain is to lose. But if we endure not tribulation well, we shall never attain to consolation eternal. It is a meritorious thing and far more blessed to endure injuries and reproaches patiently, without murmuring, for the love of God, than to feed a hundred poor men, or to keep a perpetual fast. But what profits it a man, or how does it benefit him, to afflict his body with many fasts, vigils and disciplines, if he cannot endure a little injury from his neighbour? And yet from this might he derive greater reward and higher merit than from all the sufferings he could inflict upon himself of his own will; for to endure reproaches and injuries from our neighbour with humble and uncomplaining patience, will purge away our sins more speedily than they could be by a fountain of many tears.

Blessed is the man who has ever before the eyes of his mind the remembrance of his sins and of the favours of God; for he will endure with patience all tribulations and adversities for which he expects so great consolation. The man who is truly humble looketh for no reward from God, but endeavours only to satisfy him in all things, knowing himself to be his debtor; every good thing which he hath he acknowledges to come from the free bounty of God, while every evil that befalleth him proceedeth from his sins alone.

A friar once said to Brother Giles: “Father, what shall we do if some great adversity or tribulation befall us in these times?” To whom Brother Giles replied: “My brother, I would have thee to know, that if we be such as we ought to be, though the Lord should rain down stones and lightening from heaven, they could not harm or injure us; because, if a man be in truth such as he ought to be, every evil and tribulation will be turned to his good; for we know how the Apostle saith, that all things shall be turned to good for them that love God; and in like manner all things shall turn to the condemnation and punishment of the man of evil will.

“If thou wouldst be saved and attain to eternal glory, desire not revenge, nor punishment of any creature; for the inheritance of the saints is ever to do good and to receive evil. If thou didst but know, indeed, how much and how grievously thou hast offended thy Creator, thou wouldst know that it is meet and right that all creatures should persecute thee, inflicting pain and sorrow upon thee, that so the offenses which thou hast offered to their Creator might be avenged.

“It is great and high virtue for a man to overcome himself; for he who overcometh himself shall overcome all his enemies and persevere in all good. But still greater virtue would it be if a man suffer himself to be overcome by all other men, for thus would he become victor over all his enemies, to wit, sin, the devil, the world and his own flesh. If thou wilt be saved, renounce and despise every consolation which all the things of this world and all mortal creatures can give thee, because greater and more frequent are the falls which arise from prosperity and consolation than those which come from adversity and tribulation.”

A certain Religious once complained of his superior in the presence of Brother Giles, because of a severe obedience which he had received from him; to whom Brother Giles made answer: “Dearest brother, the more thou complainest, the heavier dost thou make thy burden, and the harder will it be to carry; but the more humbly and devoutly thou submittest thy neck to the yoke of holy obedience, the sweeter and the lighter will that yoke be to bear. But it seems to me that thou art not willing to bear reproach in this world for the love of Christ, and yet desirest in the next world to be with Christ; thou art not willing in this world to be persecuted and evil spoken of for Christ, yet in the other world thou wouldst fain be blessed and welcomed by Christ; thou willest not to labour in this world, and thou wouldst repose and take thy rest in the other. Brother, brother! I tell thee that thou dost grievously deceive thyself, for it is by the way of shame, humiliation and reproach that a man attaineth to true celestial glory; and by patiently enduring derision and contumely for the love of Christ, doth a man attain to the glory of Christ. For the worldly proverb saith well: ‘He who gives not what costs him something, shall not receive that which he desires.’

“The horse is a noble and useful creature; for in his swiftest course he suffers himself to be ruled, guided, and turned hither and thither, backwards and forwards, according to the will of the rider; so likewise should it be with the servant of God, who should suffer himself to be ruled, guided, turned and bent, according to the will of his superior; nay, of all others, for the love of Christ.

“If thou wilt be perfect, strive earnestly to be virtuous and gracious, fighting valiantly against all vices, and bearing patiently all adversities, for the love of thy Lord, who was troubled, afflicted, reproached, beaten, crucified and slain for thy love, and not for his own fault, nor for his own glory, nor for his own profit, but only for thy salvation. And to the end that thou mayest do this which I say, it is needful above all that thou overcome thyself; for little will it profit thee to lead and draw other souls to God, if thou be not first drawn and led to him thyself.”


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