Discussion and Prayers within the soul

 By Francesco da Fognano

Translated by Patrick Colbourne O.F.M.Cap.

Translator’s note:

This translation is based on the introduction, text and footnotes which were published by P. Costanzo Cargnoni O.F.M. Cap. In I Frati Cappuccini: Documenti e testimonianze dell primo secolo, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Perugia, vol III/1, pp.637-665. The only additions to the notes made by the translator are references to Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents, edited by Regis Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J. A. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. and William J. Short O.F.M. Conv., New York City Press, New York, London, Manila, (1999) for an English version of quotations from the Writings or Biographies of St Francis.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Constanzo Cargnoni O.F.M.Cap.

Francesco Visani (+ 1570) was born in Fognano near Brisighella, in the Porvince of Bologna. He was one of the most typical Italian preachers of the sixteenth century. The chroniclers of the Order speak of his zeal for the reform of morals especially by the moderation of lust and restraint in the sensual manner in which women dressed. He also devised new ways of helping the poor in times of famine. He helped as well in the reform of many monasteries of Nuns and assisted in setting up lay Confraternities including those at Linaiuoli, Barcaruoli and Rimini. It is significant that his only spiritual book was printed for the Confraternity of the Body of the Lord Magdalene in san Donato Street, Bologna.

In the Dedication we read that this work was meant to be “a way to live a spiritual life that teaches you how to bring order into your life with respect to all those things that are required to live as a Christian and to inflame people with divine love. This book will continually increase knowledge the more a person dedicates himself to what it contains.”

Francesco da Fognano wrote the book for his personal use making use of points taken from sermons. When the work fell into the hands of a “librarian” called Girolomo Veneziano who as we read in the colophon “was a special friend of the Confraternity” he had the work printed by a publisher by the name of Pellegrino Bonardo di Bologno. It is easy to deduce that he must have been one of its most fervent and devout members of the Confraternity of the Body of the Lord as it appears that, when he was presenting its content and its author, he addressed it to “the brothers and sisters of the Confraternity”. This short work teaches a person how to enflame himself with the love of his Lord and his neighbour, and prepares him to practice all the virtues and turn away from all sin, to avoid the punishments of hell and gain eternal life. In a very short space of time that person will learn things that are excellent and necessary for anyone who wishes to gain virtue and saintly ways and to know how to control his frail life. This short work ought to be embraced by everyone especially those who wish to live a Christian life especially those who belong to the Confraternity of the Body of the Lord seeing that it was composed for a Capuchin friar, who are known to live a bitter life and give good example to the world.”

As the author says, following a look at what we know about God and his gifts, the work contains forty “discussions concerning the soul” which treat forty subjects for meditating on the person of Jesus Christ and the holy mysteries, and on his words and deeds as a teacher of virtue and holiness. The final meditations deal with the love of neighbour and a religious lifestyle in practice, paying special attention to the restrictions that are brought about by sin and the celebration of confession and communion that conquer all vices and sins.

The method of meditating is very affective and practical: firstly, there is the “conversation of the soul” which unfolds in an affective manner in various points on which the soul must dwell in order to becomes inflamed with love, the second point, consists in a prayer that bring this altogether.

The pages that have been selected here in the order in which they appear in the index of the book are “discussions” n.n. 3, 5, 13, 20, 26,38 and 39. Note the author’s wide knowledge of Scripture but also how he expresses it in tones that are plain and simple yet sharp. The word of God is whispered in little thought that are suitable for simple people yet effective in making them love Jesus Christ and the spiritual life.

The soul’s discourse concerning its Lord

4253 O soul, you are beginning to notice how great your Lord is. Such knowledge comes because of his many great gifts, so that, out of love and truth, you are obliged to proclaim him to be Lord and to adore him. After that you will say this.

1. Firstly. My God, my Lord, my sweet Jesus who is gentle and merciful, I adore[1] you because of the quality of your divinity. Scripture says: Adore the Lord your God, and serve him alone. You shall adore the Lord your God and serve him alone.[2]

2. Secondly: O my God, my Lord, Jesus Christ son of the Virgin Mary, I adore you, I honour you, I respect you more than all the creatures in the whole world, indeed I respect creatures out of love for you, because you, my Lord, are:

The light that enlightens our darkness:[3]

The King who governs every will;

The law that teaches justice

The fountain that cleanses all stains;[4]

The judge who scrutinises every deed.[5]

4254 3. Thirdly: My God, my Lord, Jesus our judge and redeemer, I fear you more than anything out of holy and respectful fear, because you are God and I am your son by creation, reinstatement and redemption. I fear your divine Majesty much more the more that I recognise and see that you, my Lord, my God, do not alter your judgement because of words or prayers, because your judgement is holy and perfect.[6]

You do not change[7] your right judgement because of gifts, but because of deeds.

You do not yield to being beaten unless justice demands it.

You are not deceived by false witnesses because you possess the highest wisdom that can see everything.

You are not flattered by false and fictional talk because you, my Lord, know the heart of man.[8]

You are not tricked by false errors, because you are the light than enlightens the whole world.[9] In chapter nine Daniel says quite accurately: The Lord God is just in all his works. [10]

4255 Fourth: My Lord God, Jesus Christ the Son of God, I adore and love you completely, because you are just beyond measure and you love justice. [11] Justice dwells in you:

You receive penitent sinners with dignity;

Because you help those who trust in you;

Because you wipe out the enemies of those who love you;

Because you punish delinquents;

Because you save those who do good works;

 

5. Fifth: My God, my Lord, Jesus Christ my redeemer. you are to be honoured, embraced, loved, and sought after above all else because you alone deserve honour, you alone deserve to be embraced, loved and you alone, my Lord, deserve to be sought after since it is in you alone that we can find:

The infinite power that preserves everything;

The infinite wisdom that brings order to the universe;

The infinite goodness that helps everyone;

True justice without any defect;

Open-minded mercy to all penitents.

Sacred Scripture says respectfully: My God, his mercy shall protect me. [12]

Prayer

4256 My God, my Lord, I adore you because you are the only God who should be adored and so I adore your infinite Majesty with my whole heart. You are one God in three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You alone are the just judge and your justice can be seen in all your works.[13] You are the one in whom all truth and holiness is to be found. Indeed, O my Lord, you are the one who makes your truth and holiness known to others and all truth and holiness comes from you, my Lord, who should be praised and honoured always.

The soul discussing the great love that Jesus Chris has with regard to our salvation

4257 My soul, my life, how much you should praise your Lord, who not only shows you that he is your God, but in addition makes you know that he loves you and does not consider or see that you are a vile creature while he is God of the universe. O my soul, this is how your Lord shows you his infinite love.

1. My Lord, my God, my love Jesus Christ, you showed me your love through the sign of the Incarnation when you took on human flesh for us. Holy Mother the Church sings; He came down from heaven for our salvation and became man. [14]

2. My Lord, my God, Jesus Christ, Son of God, my love, by the suffering that you accepted for me you show your love. In chapter fifty-three Isaiah says: He has borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows.[15]

3. My Lord, my God, my Saviour Jesus Christ, my love, by coming among people you showed me how you love me since you came among people for our salvation. In chapter five Baruch says: After this he was seen on earth and conversed with men. [16]

4258 4. My Lord, My God, Jesus Christ, my refuge, my love, you teach the way to heaven, the path of virtue, how to flee from sin and avoid hell by your assiduous preaching. What a debt we owe you, O my lord, because you preach like this for our salvation!

5. My Lord, my God, Jesus Christ my Saviour, my love, you show me that you love me by the fact that you sent your disciples throughout the world to preach. My Lord not only do you preach but you also send others to preach because you love me so much. In chapter ten Luck said: He sent them two by two before his face into every city and place where he himself was to come. [17] In his last chapter Mark said: “Go preach the Gospel to every creature. [18]

6. My Lord, my God, Jesus Christ, my Saviour and my love, the many miracles that you performed show me that you love me. O how much you love me, my Lord for not only by means of your word, but also by means of miracles you make me realise the love that you had for me. In chapter fifteen John says: If I had not done among them the works that no other man has done, they would not have sin. [19]

4259 7. My Lord, my God, Jesus Christ, my Saviour, my love, because you cast out so many devils from human bodies, laboured so much for me and for my salvation, preaching and healing[20] your became so exhausted that you sat at the well and healed the Samaritan woman.[21] O my life, why do you not become exhausted for your Saviour seeing that it was because of you that he sat at the well worn out?

8. My Lord, my God, Jesus Christ, my consoler, my love, by means of the death that you wanted to die you showed me how much you loved me. There is nothing that is dearer to man than life, and you, my Lord know that a person would have to be[22] cruel not to thank you. Because he realised this the Apostle Paul said: He did not even spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all. [23]

9. My Lord, my God, Jesus Christ, my redeemer, my love, you showed me your love by the reconciliation that you brought about for me with your Father, and by the death that you died. This is what Paul said to the Romans: If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. [24]

4260 10. My Lord, my God, Jesus Christ, my life, my love, you have shown me your love by the institution of the holy sacraments and by drawing me, who am a man, through them to heaven, and even more by sending the Holy Spirits down visibly upon the Apostles, convincing us of your promise. O my lord, as long as I live I shall call out to you. My heart grows weak when I think about how great your love is and realise how small my love for you is. Up till now I have not even begun to love you.

11. My Lord, my God, my beloved Jesus Christ, my love, by the continuous inspirations by which you call to me, to abhor sin, and to work towards the remission of sin by commanding me to go to the sacrament of Confession, you show me your love , which not only is an inspiration to me, but also forgives my sins, teaching me the way and the means by which to purify myself, and, showing me that once I have been forgiven, that I should not sin any more, confirming what a great mistake sin is. Oh, my heart, why are you not moved by such love?

12. My Lord, my God, my teacher Jesus Christ, my love, by the example of all the virtue and perfection[25] and love, that you possessed, and by the way that you prayed, for our salvation you showed me how you want me to pray to your Father. Show me your love, my Lord. You were obedient, poor, humble, merciful,[26] and zealous about your Father’s honour and our soul. My Lord, you have always given me good example. Indeed, your whole life is a model and rule for doing what is good.

The soul’s discourse concerning Jesus Christ, concerning whom all should rejoice because he came into the world for us

4261 My God, perfect comforter of those who trust in you. I have never found that I have been deceived by you, O truthful Lord, and so I turn to you, my Lord, saying that you not only set men free, but arrange the appropriate time for them to recognise your wisdom clearly and perfectly. Thus, they can see clearly that when our doctor and saviour, your Son, comes from heaven to earth he consoles each and everyone and they can rejoice over his arrival.[27]

1. Since Jesus Christ is the ruler of the world.

2. Governor and director of the entire world.

3. Judge of his people, because he is just.

4. Judge and assessor of our faith, because he alone cares for us.

5. Lover of truth, indeed truth itself.

6. Giver of grace, because he is very generous.

7. The one who lifts up the brothers, because he loves them in a special way.[28]

8. Protector of his Mother, because he loved her so much.

9. One who despises vanity, because he is totally divine and belongs in heaven.

10. Wastrel of flesh, when he lay naked in the crib and became a very worthy model. He said: “learn from me.”[29]

11. One who stirs up[30] the heart, because he is always working for our salvation.

4262 12. One who enlightens the mind, because he is the living light that enlightens the whole world.[31]

13. Comforter of people, because he wishes to save everybody as far as he is concerned, and to help everyone and to listen to everyone so that whoever wants to be saved will be saved.

14. Our comforter who always tells us the way to heaven, what are the virtues and how to fly from sin and avoid hell.

15. Lover of people, when we see him going about all the cities and towns,[32] mountains and hills to console everyone and to show everyone his divine love.

16. The one who delivers from eternal death. O Jesus Christ, my Lord, you have set the entire world free from eternal death as far as you are concerned and have lovingly paid for this freedom with the price of your life, of your death, of your blood and of your glorious body.

17. Our God and our creator. God, since he is the Second person of the Most Holy Trinity, and our creator, who was sent to earth by his Father to look for a new kind of freedom so that we would not be the servants and slaves of sin.

18. Ruler of all the things in heaven, on earth or in hell under whose control everything progresses and reaches its destination.

4263 19. The truthful one who keeps all his promises! O my most sweet Jesus how very faithful I find you in everything connected with all your promises!

20. The one who triumphs most victoriously, who overcomes all trials and adversity to provide us with the triumph of eternal life.

21. One who provides the most satisfying rewards, as I see, my Lord, while the Angels in heaven are singing Gloria in excelsis,[33] as if to say: “This is he who confers glory in heaven!”

22. Our mediator, who brought about peace between makind and God the Father. He did it so well that the Angels sing: and on earth peace. [34] This is real peace for whoever wishes to have peace on earth.

23. The One who performs every good work. My Lord, I always see you ready at any hour to console all those who call upon you, and prepared to grant them your grace by means of which they carry out wonderful works. You not only grant them your grace, but also invite them to come to you, standing at the door of their hearts saying: “Open up for me, and I will eat with you.”[35] O my Lord, O my God, O my Jesus Christ, how happy I am that you came into the world. You have certainly made every person who wishes to come to you very happy.

Prayer

4264 In tears because of my great ingratitude I turn to your Majesty that is filled with every gift. I can see my Lord that you are full of countless presents which you wish to give to me and the world only out of your infinite goodness and generosity. Unhappy and ignorant man that I am, I have never thought about this even when I saw that I had been surrounded on every side by so many gifts. I saw good thing being given me whenever I wanted them. O my God, O my Lord, O my treasure, O holy glorious Christ, jewel of heaven. Lord and Master of the universe, I thank you for all your gifts, ask pardon for my faults. I thank you for coming into the world for this has been good and sanctifying for me. I offer to follow you for my entire life, and so, my Lord, because of your goodness deign to accept me, your worthless menial, as your servant forever living as your servant by your divine grace.

The soul’s discourse regarding how Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire the virtues[36]

4265 My God, my Lord, Jesus Christ Son of God you are not only the one who set us free but also our most worthy teacher who in such a loving, charitable and kind manner teaches the path and the way of the virtues and inflames the heart in so many of its activities. O my soul, think about how your Lord teaches you to acquire these holy virtues.

1. Firstly: Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire poverty. In chapter five Matthew says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’[37] In chapter 19 Matthew says: “Go and sell what you have, and give to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven.” [38]

2. Second: Jesus Christ taught how to become meek. In chapter five Matthew says: Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.” [39] In chapter eleven he says: “Learn from me, because I am meek and humble of heart.” [40]

3. Third: Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire austerity. In chapter four Matthew says: “Do penance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [41]

4266 4. Fourth: Jesus Christ teaches how to become merciful. In chapter 5 Matthew says: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” [42]

5. Five: Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire justice. In chapter five Matthew says: “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill.” [43]

6: Six: Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire the knowledge of one’s own defects. In chapter five Matthew says: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” [44]

7. Seven: Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire purity of heart. In chapter five Matthew writes: “Blessed are the clean of heart: they shall see God.” [45]

8. Eight: Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire peace. In chapter five Matthew writes: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” [46]

9. Nine: Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire patience and tolerance. In chapter five Matthew writes: “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [47] Blessed are those who are patient and who suffer tribulations for the sake of justice, for God’s honour, in order not to offend God, to acquire virtue, out of a desire to suffer for the love of Jesus Christ, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4267 10. Ten: Jesus Christ teaches how to give good example. In chapter five Matthew writes: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in heaven.” [48]

11. Eleven: Jesus Christ teaches how to act and perform good works. In chapter five Matthew writes: “He who shall do and teach men shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven,” [49]

12. Twelve: Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire honesty. In chapter five Matthew says: “If your right eye scandalises you, pluck it out and cast it from you.” [50] Remain mortified and on guard and avoid looking back. Do not place yourself in danger again.

13. Thirteen: Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire the virtue of fidelity which is the most beautiful of the virtues. In chapter seven Matthew says: “Everyone who hears my words, and does them, shall be like a wise man who built his house upon a rock.” [51]

4268 14. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire purity of intention which is an enrichment of our heart. In chapter six St Mathew says: “If your eye is single, your whole body will be lightsome. If your eye be evil your whole body will be darksome.” [52] If your eye is healthy, if your intention is pure your whole body will shine, all your actions will be pure, your whole body will be magnificent, and all your actions will then be honest and beautiful. If your intentions are evil all your actions will be wicked and bad because intentions define the intent of actions and whether they deserve merit or punishment.

15. Jesus Christ teaches how to learn how to pray, which is mankind’s assurance that a spiritual person will not do what is dangerous. In chapter six Matthew says: This is how you should pray: Our Father who art in heaven, This is teaching you how to pray and when you pray you should say: “Our Father who is in heaven may your name be held holy, may your kingdom come in us, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who are in debt to us and who have offended us, for we are commanded to forgive them. Do not let us fall into temptation and free us from evil,”[53]

16. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire the desire for eternal life more than anything in the world, which is fidelity in always doing what is good. In chapter six Matthew says: “Seek first therefore the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things will be added to you.” [54]

4269 17. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire resolve, confidence and decisiveness towards God. In chapter seven Matthew says: “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock and it shall be open to you.” [55] O what confidence and trust, my Lord, should I place in you, as I say the words: I knock, and it shall open, I ask and it shall be given, I seek and it shall appear!

18, Jesus teaches how to acquire justice. In chapter seven Matthew says; In everything, do to others what your would have them do to you.” [56]

19. Jesus Christ teaches how to be circumspect, prudent and careful. These are excellent virtues for calming the heart as well as external actions. In chapter seven Matthew says: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep. By their fruits you shall know them.” [57]

20. Jesus Christ teaches how to make our will conform to his. In chapter seven Matthew says: “The one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven, shall enter the kingdom of heaven,” [58] The virtue of having our will conform to the divine will is a most valuable virtue.

4270 21. Jesus Christ teaches how to follow him and imitate him. One cannot find anything better in the entire world than imitating Jesus Christ. In chapter eight Matthew says: “Follow me, and let the dead bury the dead.” [59]

22. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire prudence, which is an excellent virtue for controlling all that we do. In chapter ten Matthew says: “Be wise as serpents and simple as doves.” [60]

23. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire dependability and determination of mind which is human prudence. In chapter ten Matthew says: “They will deliver you up to councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. You shall be brought before governors and before kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. Do not be afraid of them, but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body… etc.” [61]

24. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire perseverance which is the crown of our labours. In chapter ten Matthew says: “He that perseveres to the end, he shall be saved.” [62]

4271 25. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire caution in everything, particularly during persecution. This is a sure sign of a good, God-fearing Christian. In chapter ten Matthew says: “When they shall persecute you in this city, flee into another.” [63] When they persecute you where you have been preaching you should flee elsewhere and be discrete.

26. Jesus Christ teaches how to faithfully confess his name which is more worthy than any other name to be praised, professed and preached. In chapter ten Matthew says: “Everyone therefore who shall confess my name before men, I will also confess him before my Father.” [64]

27. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire constant mortification which is the brake that stops sin entering us and staining our soul. In chapter ten Matthew writes: “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” [65]

28. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire evangelical perfection, which makes the path to heaven swift and easy for those who desire it. In chapter eleven Matthew says: “Take up my yoke, my yoke is sweet and my burden light.” [66]

4272 29. Jesus Christ teaches observance of the divine law for it is certain that without this there is no salvation. In chapter nineteen Matthew says: “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” [67]

30. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire humility, which is the basis for keeping all the commandments. In chapter eighteen Matthew says: “Unless you become as humble as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [68]

31. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire compassion for your neighbour since it is necessary for you to have this in order to gain merit and carry on with charity. In chapter eighteen Matthew says: “If your brother offends you go and rebuke him between you and him alone.” [69]

32. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire fraternity and unity, which brings consolation to the heart. In chapter eighteen Matthew says: “If tow of you shall consent upon earth, concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven. When two of you on earth agree that anything is useful and necessary for one’s soul and they ask for it, my Father will help him.[70] If they are united with me they could not ask for anything repugnant or contradictory. It they are united to me they will obtain everything in peace and holy charity.

4273 33. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire continence which honours the body and adorns the soul and confers zeal for God. In chapter nineteen Matthew says: “There are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the kingdom of God.[71] There are those who observe continence and maintain chastity of their body for the kingdom of heaven” and in order to remain pure and clean, in order to avoid the occasions of sin and what provokes it.

34. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire contempt of the world which is a good way to avoid sin since it promotes perfection. In chapter nineteen Matthew says: “If you wish to be perfect, go sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, and, come follow me.” [72] Oh, what saintly advice this is that you, my Lord, have given me concerning contempt for this miserable world.

35. Jesus Christ teaches how to be of assistance to your brother. This preserves fraternal charity and is a sign of compassion. In chapter twenty Matthew says: “Whoever wants to be first among you shall be your servant.” [73]

4274 36. Jesus Christ teaches how to shun the company of bad and evil people. This will bring about tranquillity of heart and peace with all around. In chapter twenty one Matthew says: “Leaving the Pharisees Jesus went out of the city and remained there,” that is in Bethania. [74]

37. Jesus Christ teaches how to give everyone what belongs to him. This is the sign of a just and virtuous person whom the world praises as he renders to everyone what is due to them. In chapter twenty-two Matthew says: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s.” [75]

38. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire real love which leads to eternal life with certainty. In chapter twenty-two Matthew says: “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole mind.” [76] You shall love the Lord steadfastly and firmly not moving away from such love because of any creature or because of any torment you can imagine.

4275 39. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire respect, which is a sign of being dedicated to people and what they are doing. In chapter twenty-three Matthew says: The Scribes and Pharisees sit on the chair of Moses Therefore observe and do whatever they shall tell you: but do not do as they do.” [77] We ought to have respect for all who speak to us about the divine law, but not imitate what they do when they break away from this law.

40. Jesus Christ teaches how to be careful and diligent in avoiding many evil things within us and others. In chapter twenty-four Matthew says; “Take care that no one seduce you.” [78]

41, Jesus Christ teaches how to be alert in life by heeding the guidance given by our conscience which will be our consolation at the time of death, since whoever is well prepared has no fear of death. In chapter twenty-four Matthew says: “Be prepared for you do not know the hour when the Son of Man will come.” [79] You must not sleep, when it is time to be awake. Let us not sleep in sin, but stay awake in divine grace.

4276 Jesus Christ teaches how to be vigilant and how to subject our body. This will protect our spiritual life and conduct. A person is spiritual to the amount that he keeps watch on himself and thinks about his wickedness. In chapter twenty-five Matthew says: “Watch and pray because you do not know the day or the hour.” [80]

43. Jesus Christ teaches how to consider the judgement. Such consideration gives rise to much good and virtue in us and stops us committing many sins. In chapter twenty-five Matthew says: “He shall separate the sheep from the goats, setting the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” [81] What a thought this is! It certainly puts fear into the heart of the sinner and consoles the just and anyone who wants to be just. It makes sinners amend and those who are just more vigilant in what they are doing.[82]

44. Jesus Christ teaches how to exert oneself which is certainly the right thing to do and the way to remove many sins from ourselves especially sloth of soul and what nourishes evil, weariness in prayer, in reading, in visiting the poor and giving alms, attending Mass and saying the Divine Office, making peace and putting things right and making more physical effort according to what needs to be done while being discrete with those with whom we are dealing. In chapter four John says: “Jesus being weary from his journey, sat on the well.” [83] Jesus my Lord, you were exhausted for my salvation, why do I not exhaust myself out of love for you by working and performing acts of charity towards my neighbour?

4277 45. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire the desire to abandon[84] oneself to the divine will. There is nothing that is more holy or necessary for a person than to always desire to abandon his will to the divine will by observing and performing all that God wills and commands including what he desires and wishes to do. Let us do everything in word and deed according to the divine will. In chapter four John says: “My food is to do the will of my father who is in heaven.” [85]

46. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire the elevation of the mind, which is calmness of heart, food for the soul, contentment in tribulation, the desire to suffer, contempt of the world and the wish to die in order to be more closely united to God. In chapter four John says: “They must adore him in spirit. We should adore him in spirit, in elevation of heart,” [86]

47. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire the desire for the salvation of the sinner which is an act of charity and a divine precept and something that adorns a person in this world and makes his win merit by removing from his heart all he has against his neighbour and making him ready to do everything possible to promote his neighbour’s salvation. In chapter four John says; “I have other food to eat which you know not.” [87] This is the salvation of sinners. Bless is he who has such a desire in his heart!

4278 48. Jesus Christ teaches how to run from all temporal things which will bring about the death of the soul for anyone who is not prudent. Such things are the cause of so many evils and dangers for oneself and for others. When they occur unwillingly or without being sought, they can be meritorious for someone who endures them patiently, regarding them as nothing and having more important things to deal with. In chapter six John says about Christ: “Jesus fled when he knew that the wanted to make him king.” [88]

49. Jesus Christ teaches how we should get to know our neighbour. This will bring about peace for us and for others when we talk to one another and promote truth and unity. In chapter thirteen John says: “I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.” [89]

50. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire love for one another. There is certainly nothing better in the world. It enables[90] us to avoid sins and imperfections. In chapter thirteen John says: By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” [91]

4279 51. Jesus Christ teaches how to acquire peace, which is the path to heaven, union of the soul with God, protection for the heart, safeguard of actions, regulator of speech, the charity that is part of all our deeds. In chapter fourteen John says; “Peace I leave with you: my peace I give you.” [92]

52. Jesus Christ teaches how to petition God. This helps in any tribulation or sickness. Thus, we find that whoever appeals to God in tribulation finds consolation in everything. In chapter seventeen John says: “Lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said: Father glorify me.” [93]

O my soul, throughout his life, during his sacred sermons Jesus Christ taught many other virtues that you can think about.

Prayer

4789 My Lord, my Jesus, my love, Jesus my teacher, I am obliged, in the presence of your divine Majesty, not only to love you but also to show a sign of my love, my good Jesus, by following the way that you have taught me, the path of the holy virtues that will make me acceptable to you and allow me to praise you and give you fitting thanks for having been taught how to practice virtue.

O my Lord, when I find myself disturbed, persecuted, injured, afflicted and unhappy, and I look at you, I see in you a mirror of all the virtues, which indeed shine within you, and in my every need, they teach me to control my soul and my body.

O my God, how happy it makes me feel, cheerful in the midst of so many evils and content in adversity when good comes out of what was evil. I thank you, my Lord, with all my heart for all the many virtues that you have shown me and that you continue to show me and which I see when looking at you. Amen.

The soul discusses how we should have wide-ranging love for each one of our neighbours, and seven things that are to be observed [94]

4281 In this appalling world that is filled with weaknesses, we need to strengthen the spiritual life so that it is not in danger through offending God in the midst of so many trials, through ignorance or negligence. Such evils are avoided by thoughtful and diligent souls who continue to strengthen themselves by employing the most necessary and expedient aids. Therefore, O my soul, desiring to follow the path which is safest for you, I wish you to know how you ought to love your neighbour with wide-ranging love and how this love ought to be regulated and what you are to do when you are with your neighbour all day.

Thus, you ought to know that there are seven things that teach us how to have wide-ranging love for our neighbour and they are:

1. First: Compassion. You must show compassion towards your neighbour regarding whatever happens to him, thinking that if our Saviour did not help you out of his goodness, you would do what your neighbour is doing or something worse. In the first letter to the Corinthians Paul says in chapter twelve: “If one member suffers all suffer together with it.” [95]

4282 2. Second: Rejoice with him: This means that you should rejoice with your neighbour, lifting up his downcast spirit, with such rejoicing being according to what God wants and not opposed to it. In chapter twelve to the Romans Paul says: Rejoice with them that rejoice,” [96] showing that you rejoice over the good thing that has happened to them.

3. Three. Give him peaceful support. This means that you will offer your neighbour quiet support, showing compassion over his weakness, never using strong language with him, but being a support to him in everything, remembering that Jesus Christ did and still does that for you and that others also support you. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul says in chapter four: “Be kind to one another,” [97] with one giving support to the other with acts of charity.

4. Four. Engage in kind conversation. This means that you speak to everyone kindly, that you are humble towards everyone, that your conversation is not finicky with some and loving with others, but that you speak to everyone with the same amount of kindness. Oh what a life would that person lead who would act differently towards different people, not being sweet, loving, affable, kind or supportive to this one or that one. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul writes in chapter four: “Be kind. Be kind to one another.”

4283 5. Five: Humble respect. This means showing humble respect to everyone according to his status and circumstances, not hurting those who are below you or more degraded, and not considering yourself worthy of the honours shown to those who are above you wanting to be regarded as their equal, just be respectful, humble whatever you do and wherever your are. Then you will be praised for being virtuous. In his letter to the Romans St Paul says in chapter twelve: “Outdo one another in showing honour,” [98] setting a good example for your present and future brothers.

6. Six: Warm union. This means that you are at one with everybody, at peace with all, united with all in charity, together with everyone, at peace with all people. In his letter to the Romans Paul says in chapter twelve: “If it be possible, have peace with all men.” [99]

7. Seven: give yourself lovingly to everyone. This means that you will be ready and prepared to help everyone, as far as you can, and thus lovingly offer your services, insignificant as they may be, but be willing and ready to help everybody for the salvation of your soul and to give honour to God. In chapter fifteen John says: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends.” [100] O my soul, Jesus Christ did this for you, so you should lay down your soul for his Majesty and for your neighbour.

Prayer

4284 My human tongue cannot express the joy and consolation I feel in my heart as I behold and know more than I could ever have realised. This says so much more with regard to what is divine than when I began to think with my weak powers. O my Lord, I know and realise that you are the God who understands now more deeply than ever my knowledge could have. I see that you are there with your arms open to enflame me with your love.

However, my Lord, when I turn to you to do this, I think of my neighbour to whom I have not shown the love that I ought to have shown. My Lord, now that I have been taught by your goodness, I will do better than I have done in the past. I am upset at offending you by not having loved my neighbour, in not observing the rules. I promise to change my life by observing these beautiful rules concerning love of neighbour, so as to give you praise, my Lord, for my soul’s benefit and to give good example to me neighbour. Amen.

The Soul’s discourse on how a person ought to prepare himself for Communion[101]

4285 After the inner man has been renewed and completely strengthened with divine grace in the sacramental bath of holy and salutary Confession, which purifies our heart, cleanses out soul, frees it from the infernal enemy, destroys hell and annihilates its sufferings – O glorious holy Confession, you not only bring about these wonderful effects, but also prepare and set the soul right to receive its Saviour, – O my soul, when you come to receive your Lord this is what you should do.

1. First: think of your sordidness and wickedness and the exaltedness and sublime nature of your God, who deigns to come to you.

2. Second: prepare your house, decorating it with the beautiful virtues of humility, purity, a good conscience, fervent charity, constant faith, lively hope and honourable bodily behaviour.

3. Third: abstain from all worldly occupations and out of respect for such a Sacrament those of you who have this obligation remain continent for at least two or three days, or at least for one day.

4. Four: avoid conversing with people, idle talk, looking here and there and going around from place to place.

5. Five: contemplate this very exalted Sacrament and how during his last supper with his disciples Jesus Christ ordained that this great sacrament should be a memorial of his life and death and of our redemption.

6. Six: think how Jesus Christ is inviting you to this meal saying: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” [102] O love of my good Jesus, what love is this! My Lord, you give me your flesh and your blood, and then invite me to receive this most exalted gift!

7. Seven: examine with tears your own conscience. Paul says: “Let a man examine himself.” [103] Let a person first examine his own conscience so that he may worthily, as far as that is possible for a member of the human family, receive his Lord.

8. Eight: pray fervently, speak together with all the choirs of Angels and rejoice with all the Saints over so great a gift and grace that the Son of God wishes to come to live in you when we receive his most holy body and blood.

4287 9. Nine: Arrange not to speak so that the body is well co-ordinated and disposed, humble and contrite, unsoiled and free from worries and impediments which usually stain and weaken it.

10. Ten: think how the one whom we want to receive is the King of the world, the Creator of the world, the glory of the Angels and the joy of the Apostles, the crown of martyrs, the triumph of true Christians and Catholics, the bread of Angels. The sweetest manna which is filled with all delights.

11. Eleven: remain prepared in the place designated for receiving your Lord receiving him devoutly with your mouth, kneeling on the ground and in your heart ponder on the fidelity of the saints and the devotion of many good people who receive him with devotion.

12. Twelve: while speaking with your heart invite all the Angels and Saints to share your joy and happiness because you have heard your Lord and beg them to pray for you so that you may never lose awareness of this holy Sacrament.

Prayer

4288 My God, my Lord, my heavenly Father, it is by means of your rule that all creatures exist and are preserved in existence. It is only because of your word that the whole world is so wonderful. The vast and spacious heavens exist only at your nod, and water, fire and air are all filled with wonderful properties because of your infinite will. Out of love for us you sent your blessed Son to earth to free all human seed from the eternal curse under which Adam found himself for not obeying the divine word. O eternal Father, your blessed Son came into the world to bring about our salvation by preaching, teaching healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind. He showed the world that he honoured his Father and brought freedom to his people whom he consoled in word and deed. He consoled us so well that when he knew that he would shortly leave us he instituted the Sacrament of his body and blood before he left forever until the end of the world. I, your wicked creature, intend to receive it in the morning, for the salvation of my soul. O my Jesus, O my God, O my life, what could I ever do to make myself worthy to receive such a gift?

4289 The memory forgets things; the intellect does not understand things and the will wills but does not know the excellence of its object. It simply wills what God wants. O Lord, you both want me and invite me to receive this great gift. I want this and accept it but do not regard myself as being worthy. Even when I receive you, O Lord, you are the one who prepares the house because of your infinite love. I only provide you with the house. I make this offer being repentant for my sins. I propose that with you help I will not sin again. I shall obey your holy law, wanting to be with you, loving you and finding no rest except in you.

Therefore, my Lord, open my heart and move my lips to receive you into my heart so that you may come to me with your divine grace and make my heart a fountain that will continually wash my soul and purify it by your grace. Do not do this only for me, O Lord, but do the same for whoever loves you and wants to hold you in his heart, and of your mercy soften hardened hearts so that they may recognise you and do the same as I have done. Amen.

The soul’s discourse regarding which are the gates through which to enter heaven[104]

4290 Looking up to heaven from earth I find that I want to know the way there. Nothing appears to be permanent in this world and I can see that my life is passing on and I do not know how to find my way. I do not like this. The one who came from heaven to earth established the way to go above and opened the gates through which to enter. However, some think that this is not so, since while he was on the earth he was covered by such indescribable sufferings. We do not know how to explain them, because they were sufferings that went beyond any other suffering. Nevertheless, this suffering opens the gates to eternity.

O my soul, consider carefully and you will find that there are twelve gates that are open for you and which are waiting for you to enter.

1. First: the gate of poverty of spirit. These are people who think of nothing but praising the Lord and do so in everything that they do. In chapter five Matthew says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [105]

4291 2. Second: The gate of the meek, those who live in this world showing kindness. In chapter five Matthew says: “Blessed are the meek: they shall possess the land of the living.”[106]

3. Third: The gate of those who mourn with desire for paradise and over their sins. These are the ones who mourn and pine when they think about how many sins they have committed and how much good they have forfeited. In chapter five Matthew says: “Blessed are they mourn: for they shall be comforted.” [107]

4. Four: The gate of hunger for justice. These are those who in order not to lose their soul and out of friendship with the Lord wish to suffer progressing from virtue to virtue. In chapter five Matthew says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.” [108]

5. Five: the gate for the merciful. These are they who have shown mercy towards their neighbour and their neighbour’s soul. In chapter five Matthew says: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” [109]

4292 6. Six: The gate for the peacemakers who because they love peace, make peace and keep the peace. In chapter five Matthew says: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” [110]

7. Seven: The gate for the clean of heart. These are those who are quiet, steadfast and stable and who from their heart desire what is immaculate. In their state of purity, they remain free from all stain of mortal sin. In chapter five Matthew says: “Blessed are the clean of heart: they shall see God.” [111]

8. Eight: The gate for persecutions that are endured for the love of Jesus and for justice in imitation of our Saviour who did not cry out when he suffered. O glorious gate that many avoid and few people desire. In chapter five Matthew says: “Blessed are they that suffer persecutions for the sake of justice: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [112]

4293 9. Nine: The gate of penance. This leads the soul to paradise, cleanses sin and appeases God. In chapter four Matthew says: “Do penance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [113]

10. Ten: The gate of humility. This overcomes everything, deals with everything, appeases God, acquires grace and preserves what has been acquired and promotes good works. In chapter twenty-three Matthew says: “Whoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” [114]

11. Eleven: The gate of observance of the law. This is the path to heaven, peace of soul, and the assurance of eternal life. In chapter nineteen Matthew says: “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” [115]

12. Twelve: the gate of holy prayer. This is our heart’s faithful guardian, the ship that brings us to the port of eternal life. It appeases God, cleanses the soul, casts off sin, acquires virtue, makes the spirit grow, makes the will constant and consoles a spiritual person in times of trials with the love of God. At this point you ought to pray saying:

Prayer

4294 My Lord, my God, Jesus Christ my love, what great goodness you have shown me! What gifts, how much grace! My Lord, I am speechless concerning the abundance of your gifts. Let them speak for me for although I want to speak I do not know how since I am full of ignorance and ingratitude.

You O my Lord, my God, my Jesus, you came down from heaven and threw it open and came into the world and laid out the road to go to heaven through the gates that were opened for us.

O my God, O my Lord, how much am I obliged to love and thank you! If I am unwilling or unable to enter through one gate, you, my Lord, have opened twelve gates when it is enough for me to enter by one gate.

What a wonderful thing! Whosoever enters through one, enters through all of them. O immense goodness allow me and all the faithful to enter through these gates to the happy homeland. Amen.


Endnotes:

  1. Compare this with the Orazioni devote by Bernardino d’Asti. This meditation is on pages 7-10 of this work.
  2. Deut. 6:13; Mt. 4:10; Lk. 4:8.
  3. Cf. Ps 18:29.
  4. Cf. Ps. 42:2.
  5. Cf. Is 33:22; Ps. 50:6; 75:8.
  6. Cf. Ps. 119:137.
  7. Cf. Mt. 3:6.
  8. Cf. Jn. 2:25,
  9. Cf. Jn. 1:9.
  10. Dan. 9:14.
  11. Ps 11:7.
  12. Ps. 59:11 (Vulg. 58:11).
  13. Cf. Ps 145:17; (Vulg. 144:17).
  14. From the Creed.
  15. Is. 53:4.
  16. Bar 3:38.
  17. Lk. 10:1.
  18. Mk 16:15.
  19. Jn. 15:24.
  20. Cf. Acts 10:18.
  21. Cf. Jn. 4:6.
  22. Seria in the text = sarebbe.
  23. Rom. 8:32.
  24. Rom. 9:10.
  25. In the text profettioni.
  26. Zelante
  27. That means that everyone can rejoice at his coming. The text of this meditation is in Discorsi e orationi…, 79-83.
  28. Ne in the text = ci.
  29. Cf. Mt. 11:29.
  30. Excitatore in the text = Eccitatore.
  31. Cf. Jn 1:9.
  32. Cf. Mt 9:35.
  33. Cf. Lk, 2:14.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Cf. Rev. 3:20.
  36. Discorsi et orationi …. 127-144.
  37. Mt. 5:3.
  38. Mt. 19:21.
  39. Mt. 5:4.
  40. Mt. 11:29.
  41. Mt. 4:17.
  42. Mt. 5:7.
  43. Mt. 5:6.
  44. Mt. 5:5.
  45. Mt. 5:8.
  46. Mt. 5:9.
  47. Mt. 5:10.
  48. Mt. 5:16.
  49. Mt. 5:19.
  50. Mt. 5:29.
  51. Cf. Mt. 7:24.
  52. Mt. 6:22-23.
  53. Mt. 6:9-13
  54. Mt. 6:33
  55. Mt. 7:7.
  56. Mt. 7:12.
  57. Mt. 7:15-16.
  58. Mt. 7:21.
  59. Mt. 8:22.
  60. Mt 10:16.
  61. Mt. 10:17-18, 28.
  62. Mt. 10:22.
  63. Mt 10:22.
  64. Mt. 10:32.
  65. Mt. 10:38.
  66. MT. 11:29.
  67. Mt. 19:17.
  68. Mt. 18:3.
  69. Mt. 18:15.
  70. Mt. 18:19.
  71. Mt. 19:12. 
  72. Mt. 19:21.
  73. Mt. 20:27.
  74. Mt. 21:17.
  75. Mt. 22:21.
  76. Mt. 22:37.
  77. Mt. 23:2.
  78. Mt. 24:4.
  79. Mt. 44:24.
  80. Mt. 25:13.
  81. Mt. 25:32-33.
  82. In the text ad apare is evidently a printing error.
  83. Jn. 4:6.
  84. Prefigure in the text is a Latin expression meaning fissarsi, abbandonarsi, mettersi.
  85. Jn. 4:34.
  86. Jn. 4:24.
  87. Jn. 4:32.
  88. Jn. 6:15.
  89. Jn. 13:15.
  90. In the text ci facci = ci fa.
  91. Jn, 13:35.
  92. Jn 14:27.
  93. Jn. 17:1.
  94. Discorsi et ortioni …. 179-183
  95. 1 Cor, 12:28.
  96. Rom. 12:15.
  97. Eph. 4:32.
  98. Rom. 12:10.
  99. Rom. 12:18.
  100. Jn 15:13.
  101. Discorsi et orationi…, 253-258.
  102. Jn. 6:57.
  103. 1 Cor. 11:28.
  104. Discorsi et orationi… 258-262.
  105. Mt. 5:3.
  106. Mt. 5:4.
  107. Mt. 5:5.
  108. Mt. 5:6.
  109. Mt. 5:7.
  110. Mt. 5:9.
  111. Mt. 5:8.
  112. Mt. 5:10.
  113. Mt. 4:17.
  114. Mt. 23:12.
  115. Mt. 19:17.