Chapter XXXIX Their mutual engagement

God directs our errors as well

“I accept this from you, my son!” he answered, “stand fast in it, live as mine, bear my name, and remain my own. Indeed you have been and are mine from all eternity, but you did not know it before. Long ago have I prepared the happiness for you to which I shall now lead you, but you did not understand it. I have led you to myself by strange paths, through byways and turns, but you knew it not, nor did you comprehend what I, the guide of all my elect, have meant thereby; for you have not perceived my work upon you. Nevertheless, I have been with you always and have led you in such devious byways in order that I might bring you so much the closer to myself. Neither the world, nor your guides, nor Solomon, could teach you anything, nor enrich you, nor satisfy you, nor fulfill the desires of your heart; for that which you sought was not to be found in them. But I shall teach you everything, enrich you, and satisfy you.”

All worldly striving should be transferred to God

2 “This only I request of you: that whenever you have seen in the world and in all human efforts for the attainment of temporal well-being, you would transfer and turn to me, let that be your work and occupation as long as you live; then that which men seek in the world without finding it, such as peace and joy, I will give you in abundance.”

Only Christ, the eternal spouse, should be joined

3 “You have seen in the married state how those who fall in love leave everything else in order that they might belong to each other; do likewise with me, abandon everything, even your own self, and give yourself wholly to me, and you will be mine, and it shall be well with you. Until you have done that, I assure you that you will seek peace of mind in vain; for everything in the world changes, no matter what your mind or desire may set themselves to attain, save myself; all else brings but toil and discontent, and finally will forsake you, and the delight which you had in it will turn to grief. Therefore, I advise you faithfully, my son, give up all things and cling to me alone, become mine and I yours! Let us shut ourselves together in this keep, and you will experience truer delights than could be found in an earthly marriage. Seek to please me alone, to have me for your counsellor, guide, witness, companion, and comrade in all your affairs. And whenever you speak to me, say, 'I only and Thou, my Lord'; to care for a third person is not necessary. Cling only to me, gaze only on me, converse sweetly with me, embrace me, kiss me, and in turn expect all these things from me.”

The only gain should be Christ himself

4 “You have observed in the second group with what infinite toil men seeking profit encumber themselves, what underhanded methods they employ and what dangers they risk. Deem all this drudgery as useless, knowing that but one thing is needful: the favor of God. Therefore, keeping to the one task which I have entrusted you, do your work faithfully, sincerely, and quietly, leaving to me the end and the goal of it all.”

A man must learn how to know Christ

5 “Among the learned you have seen how they tried to fathom all things; let the summit of all your learning be to search for me in my deeds to see how wonderfully I direct you as well as all else; here you will find more material for your consideration, and that with ineffable delight, than those scholars. Instead of all libraries, to read which is endless toil and but small profit, often harm, always weariness and sorrow, I give you this one book in which are deposited all the liberal arts. Here your grammar will consist in the contemplation of my words; your dialectics in the faith in them; your rhetoric, in prayers and sighs; your natural sciences, in the examination of my works; your metaphysics, in the delight in me and in things eternal; your mathematics, in the counting, weighing, and measuring of my blessings on the one hand, and of the ungratefulness of the world on the other; your ethics, in my love which is to be the rule of all your conduct both toward me and toward your neighbors. But seek in all these arts not to be seen of men, but rather to come closer to me. For the humbler you are, the more proficient in the arts you will become. For my light illumines none but the humble heart.”

How to recognize Christ as the best physician

6 “You have observed among the physicians their search for various remedies for the safeguarding of health and the prolongation of life; but why should you be anxious about how long you will live? Is it in your power? You did not enter the world at will, and you will not leave it at will, for that is governed by my providence. Be sure, therefore, that you live well, and I shall take care of how long you should live. Live humbly and sincerely according to my will, and I will be your physician; indeed, I will be your life and the length of your days. For without me even medicine is poison; when I command it, even poison must effect a cure. Therefore, commend your life and your health to me and give yourself no further concern about them.”

As counsellor guide and advocate

7 “You have observed in the legal profession the strange and tortuous quibblings by which men have been taught to contend with each other about their various disputes. Let these be your legal maxims: envy no one his property nor deny him your own, but leave every one to his possessions and do not withhold from him your own where he has need of it; pay all your obligations, and if you can benefit anyone beyond your obligations, regard it as your debt to do so; for the sake of peace give up all, even yourself; if anyone would take away your coat, give him your cloak also, and if he would strike you upon one cheek, turn to him also the other. These are my legal maxims; and if you observe them, you are certain of preserving peace.”

What the religion of Christ is

8 “You have observed in the new world how men in performing their religious duties indulge in ceremonies and quarrel over them. Let your religion consist in serving me quietly, and in being free from bondage to ceremonies, for I do not require them of you. And when you serve me as I teach you, in spirit and in truth, do not contend with anyone if he should call you a hypocrite, a heretic, or what not; but cling quietly to me and preserve in my service.”

And how his kingdom is administered

9 “Among the rulers and governors of human societies you have observed how men like to push themselves into the chief places and to rule others. But you, my son, as long as you live, seek the lower places and desire to obey rather than to command. It is easier, safer, and more comfortable to stand behind others than in the forefront. But if you still want to rule and to command, rule your own self; I entrust your body and soul, instead of a kingdom, into your keeping; you have there as many subjects as there are members of your body and impulses of your soul; seek to rule them so that all may be well. But if my providence be pleased to entrust you with something more, go obediently and do faithfully what I command; not because of your inclination, but because of my call.”

And what the wars are

10 “In the military class you have seen that heroism consists in the destruction and plunder of one’s own kind. But I direct you to oppose other enemies against whom from this moment you must strive to prove your heroism: namely, the devil, the world, and your own carnal desires. Guard yourself against these as best you can; the former two drive away, and the latter one strike and kill; if you acquit yourself valiantly in this warfare, I promise you truly that you shall obtain a more glorious crown than this world can grant.”

In Christ alone there is abundance of all

11 “You have likewise observed what men have sought in the castle of pretended happiness, and what they delighted in: wealth, pleasure, and glory. But you care for none of these things: for they give you no peace but rather unrest, and are the path to sorrow. Why should you care for great wealth? Wherefore should you desire it? Life’s necessities are but few and it is my concern to watch over everyone who serves me. Therefore seek to gather the inner treasures, enlightenment, and piety, and all those other things shall I add unto you. For heaven and earth shall be yours by hereditary right, I assure you. Neither will these treasures rot and oppress you, as is the case with the others, but will give you unspeakable delight.”

The most dear companion­ship is there

12 “In this world men gladly seek companion­ship, but as for you, avoid all noisy crowds and cultivate solitude. Company is but an aid to sin, or to trivialities, idleness, or waste of time. Do not fear that you are alone, even though you should be solitary; for I am with you, as well as the host of my angels, and you may have communion with us. Moreover, if at times you should desire some visible companion­ship, be sure to associate with men of the same spirit, so that your conversation may be for your mutual confirmation in God.”

There is delight

13 “Worldly men find their joy in an abundance of feasts; in eating, drinking, and laughter; let your delight be in hunger, thirst, and weeping, if need be, and in the bearing of blows and of all other afflictions, for my sake or with me. But if I grant you a life of comfort, you may rejoice in it (although not for its own sake indeed, but rather for my sake and in me).”

There is glory

14 “You have seen that worldlings aspire after glory and honor; but you care not for a reputation among men. Whether they speak well or ill of you, let it be of no concern to you, provided I am satisfied with you. Knowing that you are pleasing to me, care not to be pleasing to men, their favor is fickle, incomplete, and perverse; they often love what is worthy of hatred, and hate what is worthy of love. Nor is it ever possible to please them all: seeking to please one, you displease others. Therefore it is best for you to leave them all and to cleave to me alone; if we remain in mutual accord, the tongues of men will neither add nor detract anything from you or from me. Seek not to be known by many, my son; but make lowliness your fame, so that, if possible, the world may know nothing about you; this is the best and the safest way. My angels, meanwhile, will know you and will speak about you, will watch your course and, if need be, will proclaim your deeds on earth as well as in heaven; of that be assured. Of course, when the time of reification of all things shall come, all you who have surrendered yourselves to me shall be brought to a glory ineffable before all the angels as well as before the world. Compared with that, all worldly glory is but a shadow.”

Here is the summit of all

15 “Briefly, my son, I say: if you possess wealth, learning, handsome appearance, wit, favor of men, or any other thing deemed excellent in the world, do not on that account vaunt yourself; or if you have none of them, care not for it; but leaving all these external things, whether you or others possess them, have your communion with me here, inwardly, within yourself. Thus freeing yourself from all creatures and giving up and renouncing even your own self. I promise that you shall find me, and in me the fullness of peace.”

Total consecration to Christ is the most blessed thing

16 “Lord, my God, now I understand that Thou alone art all in all,” I exclaimed, “he who has Thee can easily dispense with the whole world, for in Thee he possesses more than he can ask for. Now I understand that I had gone astray while loitering through the world, seeking rest in created things. From this hour, I desire no other delight but Thee, and surrender myself wholly to Thee. Strengthen me, lest I fall away from Thee to created things, committing again the folly of which the world is full. May Thy grace protect me, for I rely on it alone.”