THE DISCIPLE. 0 Lord God, heavenly Father, blessed be Your Name for ever. As You decree, so it is done, and whatever You do is always good. Let all my joy depend on You, not on myself or on any other thing, for I am Your servant. You alone are my true joy, Lord; my hope and my crown, my gladness and my honour. I, Your servant, possess nothing that is not Your gift, and have no merit of my own.(ICor.4:7) All things are Yours, both what You have given, and what You have created. I am poor and in trouble from my youth up, (Ps.88:15) and my soul is often distressed to the point of tears ; sometimes, too, it is oppressed by the sufferings that beset me. I long for the joys of Your peace, and I pray most earnestly for the peace of Your children, who are refreshed in the light of Your comfort. Give me this peace, and fill my heart with holy joy; then will the soul of Your servant be full of song and entirely devoted to Your praise. But when You withdraw Yourself, as You often do, I cannot follow the way of Your commandments. (Ps.119:35) Instead, I fall on my knees and beat my breast, because things are not with me as they formerly were, when Your light shone upon my head, (Job 29:3) and I was protected under the shadow of Your wings (Ps. 17:8) from the temptations that assailed me.
0 righteous Father, ever to be praised, now is the hour of Your servant's trial. Father, worthy of all love, it is right that I should now suffer something for Your sake. 0 Father, ever to be honoured, the hour has come (John 16:32) which has lain in Your foreknowledge from all eternity, when for a while Your servant will seem utterly defeated; yet let him inwardly feel Your presence. He will be maligned and humiliated, a failure in the eyes of men, broken by suffering and sickness, that with You he may rise again in the light of a new dawn, and receive glory in Heaven. This, most holy Father, is by Your appointment, and all is done as You have ordained.
To Your friends You grant this favour, that for love of You, they endure every trouble that You allow to come upon them, for nothing can happen in this world without Your foreknowledge and consent. Lord, it is good for me that You have humbled me, that I may learn Your justice,(Ps.119:71) and banish all conceit and presumption from my heart. It is good for me that I have suffered humiliation,(Ps. 119:7) that I may seek comfort in Yourself rather than in men. Thus have I learned to stand in awe of Your unsearchable judgements, who correct both the just and the wicked with equity and justice.
I thank You that You have not spared my wrongdoing, but have punished me with bitter pain, inflicted sorrow on me, and sent me troubles of every kind. Nothing under heaven can comfort me but You alone, 0 Lord my God, for You are the heavenly Physician of souls, who both wound and heal, who cast down and raise up again .(ISam. 2:6) Your discipline corrects me, and Your very scourge will heal me.(Ps.18:35)
Most loving Father, I place myself entirely in Your hands. I submit to Your correction ; strike me, until my wayward stubbornness yields to Your will. Make me Your true and humble disciple, as You are wont to do, that I may serve
Your good pleasure in all things. To Your correction, Lord, I deliver myself and all I am; for it is better to be punished in this life than the next. All things lie within Your knowledge, and nothing in the conscience of man is hid from Your eyes. You know all things before they come to pass, and need no man to inform You of the happenings of this earth. You know what is needful to my progress, and how well trouble serves to scour away the rust of my wickedness. Do with me according to Your good pleasure, and do not reject my sinful life, known to none more fully and clearly than Yourself.
Grant me, Lord, to know all that I should know, to love what I should love, to esteem what most pleases You, and to reject all that is evil in Your sight. Let me not judge superficially by what I see, nor be influenced by what I hear from ignorant men, but with true judgement to discern between things spiritual and material, and to seek Your will and good pleasure at all times and above all else.
The mind of man is often deceived in its judgement, and worldly men are deceived in their concern for material things alone. Is any man made the better for being highly honoured by his fellows? When one man flatters another, then one deceiver deceives another ; the vain deceives the vain, the weak deceives the weak; and the higher the flattery, the deeper the shame it brings in its train. For, `what every man is in Your sight, 0 Lord, that he is and nothing more', says the humble Saint Francis.(S.Conaventura, Life of S. Francis, Ch. 6)
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