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When pea-hens hatch in very white places their young ones are also white: and when our intentions are in the love of God whilst we project some good work, or undertake some vocation, all the actions that issue thence take their worth and derive their nobility from the love whence they have their origin; for who does not see that the actions which are proper 546to my vocation and requisite to my design depend on this first election and resolution which I have made?

Yet, Theotimus, one must not stay there; but to make excellent progress in devotion, we must not only in the beginning of our conversion, and afterwards every year, address all our life and all our actions to God, but we must also offer them to him every day following the Morning Exercise which we have taught Philothea; for in this daily renewing of our oblation, we spread the vigour and virtue of love upon our actions by a fresh uniting of our heart with the Divine glory, by means whereof it is ever more and more sanctified.

Besides this, let us a hundred and a hundred times a day unite our life to Divine love by the practice of ejaculatory prayers, elevations of heart and spiritual retirements; for these holy exercises, casting and lifting our spirits continually into God, bear also up to him all our actions. And how could it be, I pray you, that a soul who at every moment darts up unto the Divine goodness, and who incessantly breathes words of love, in order to keep her heart always lodged in the bosom of her heavenly Father, should not be considered to do all her works in God and for God?

She who says: "Ah! Lord, I am thine—My beloved is wholly mine, and I, I am all his—My God, thou art my all—O Jesus thou art my life—Ah! who will do me the favour that I may die to myself, that I may live only to thee—O to love! to advance! to die to self! O to live to God! O to be in God! O God, whatsoever is not thy very self is nothing to me!"—she, I say, does she not continually dedicate her actions to her heavenly spouse? O how blessed is the soul who has once for all made the offstripping and the perfect resignation of herself in and into the hands of God, whereof we have spoken above!—for afterwards she will only need to make one little sigh and one look at God, to renew and confirm her offstripping, resignation, and oblation, together with the protestation that she wishes nothing but God and for God, and neither loves herself nor anything in the world save in God and for the love of God.

The exercise then of continual aspirations is very useful for 547vivifying all our works with love; but especially does it most abundantly suffice for the small and ordinary actions of our life; for as to heroic works and matters of consequence, it is expedient, if we intend to make any great profit, to use the ensuing method, as I have already in brief declared elsewhere.596596Book viii. 14.

Let us in these occurrences elevate our heart and spirit to God; let us with deep consideration and extended thought ponder on eternity, so holy and so glorious; let us behold how throughout eternity the Divine goodness tenderly cherished us, preparing all suitable means for our salvation and progress in his love, and in particular the chance of doing the good which now presents itself to us, or suffering the evil which has come upon us: this done, spreading out, if I may so speak, and lifting up, the arms of our consent, let us embrace dearly, fervently and most amorously, the good that presents itself to be done, or the evil that must be suffered, in consideration of this that it has been eternally willed by God, to please him and to obey his Providence.

Behold the great S. Charles, when the plague attacked his diocese. He lifted up his heart to God, and reflected attentively that in the eternity of Divine Providence, this scourge was prepared and determined for his flock, and that the same Providence had ordained that in this their scourge he should take a most tender care to serve, solace and cordially assist the afflicted, since in this occurrence he found himself the ghostly father, pastor and bishop of that province. Whereupon, representing to himself the greatness of the pains, toils and hazards which it would be incumbent on him to undergo in that behalf, he immolated himself in spirit to God's good-pleasure, and tenderly kissing this his cross, he cried from the bottom of his heart, in imitation of S. Andrew: "I salute thee, O precious cross, I salute thee, O blessed tribulation! O holy affliction, how delightful thou art, since thou didst issue from the loving breast of this Father of eternal mercy, who willed thee from all eternity, and ordained thee for my dear people and me! O cross, my heart wills thee, since the heart of my God has willed thee; O cross, my soul cherishes and embraces thee, with its whole affection!"


In this sort we are to undertake the gravest affairs, and to meet the sharpest tribulations that can befal us. But if they prove to be of long continuance, we must from time to time, and very frequently, repeat this exercise, that we may more profitably continue our union with God's good will and pleasure, pronouncing this short yet wholly divine protestation of his Son; Yea, eternal Father, for so it hath seemed good in thy sight.597597Matt. xi. 26. O God, Theotimus, what treasures are in this practice!


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