The School of Saints “My most holy Son and myself are trying to
find, among those who have arrived at the Way of the Cross, some soul, whom We
can instruct systematically in this Divine Science; and whom We can withdraw
from the worldly and diabolical wisdom, in which the sons of Adam, with blind
stubbornness, are rejecting the salutary discipline of sufferings. If thou
wishest to be our disciple, enter into this school, in which alone is taught the
Doctrine of the Cross and the manner of reaching true peace and veritable
delights. With this wisdom, the earthly love of sensible pleasures and riches
is not compatible; nor the vain ostentation and pomp, which fascinates the
bleary-eyed worldlings, who are so covetous of passing honors, and so full of
ignorant admiration for costly grandeur” (Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda). The Science of Saints “My daughter, in all that thou art made to understand and write concerning these mysteries, thou drawest upon thyself, and upon mortals, a severe judgment, if thou dost not overcome thy pusillanimity, ingratitude and baseness, by meditating day and night on the Passion and Death of Jesus crucified. This is the great Science of the Saints, so little heeded by the worldly, it is the Bread of Life and the Spiritual Food of the little ones, which gives Wisdom to them and the lack of which starves the lovers of this proud world . In this science I wish thee to be studious and wise, for with it thou canst buy thyself all good things. My Son and Lord taught us this Science when He said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no one cometh to My Father except through Me’ (John 14:6). ” (Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda).
THE THIRD SORROW OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days
Loss is usually a suffering. Nobody wants to lose anything—especially good, valuable and treasured things. The more we value something, the more we suffer at its loss. The pain of loss can be especially great at times. We all have a hierarchy of goods, whereby we are willing to lose or give up one thing, in order to preserve and keep something more valuable. Faced with losing a car and a child, one will agree to lose the car in order to save the child.
Yet, someone who is ignorant of the true value of things, may make a bad choice when faced with losing one thing or another, and, in their ignorance, they may choose the worst of two goods and let the better of the two things escape. He may make a superficial assessment and judgment, not looking beyond the surface of things, and so make a bad decision and lose the better thing. A man may be faced with a situation where he has to choose between God and man. His friends may be Liberal and sinful, yet, since he has no other friends and he finds these bad friends somewhat amusing at times, he goes along with them just to get along—since he does not want to lose his friends and be left friendless. However, in staying with these Liberal and sinful friends, he risks losing his one True Friend—God. But since he has no real experience of God and therefore no real love of God, he thinks little of going along with those who offend God.
The ultimate loss is, of course, the eternal loss of God—eternal damnation. Those who are damned finally see the true value of things—but by then it is too late! They see that talking to God in prayer was far more valuable than talking to human beings; they see that doing without things would have been far more beneficial than indulging in all things; that acquiring virtues was better than acquiring material goods; that growing in grace was better than growing in wealth; that to be hated by the world was better than being loved by the world, and so on. Yet, for the damned it is all too late!
It is said, that in Hell, the pain of losing God is far, far greater than the pains of the eternal fires and the tortures of the demons. The pains of the soul are always felt more keenly than the pains of the body. A woman, who has her child snatched by a kidnapper, has no wounds or bruises to the body, yet she feels terrible anxiety and pain at the loss of her child. In fact, if she was bruised or wounded in trying to prevent the kidnapping, then, most likely, she would still feel the loss of the child more keenly than she would her bruises or wounds.
We could place ourselves in a similar situation, where, perhaps, a neighbor or relative has entrusted their child to us while they are away somewhere, or in hospital. How would we feel if that young child went missing while in our care? What would we say to the parents? In the case of Mary and Joseph, we do not simply have a child, but a Child who is the Son of God!
Looking at the Gospel account of the incident, we see that Mary and Joseph were walking away from Jerusalem, each presuming that Jesus was with the other. We, too, can find ourselves walking along in life, presuming that Jesus is with us. However, the road that we are taking in life might well be leading us away from Jerusalem and Jesus! Our thoughts might well be presumptuous thoughts—“Oh, it’ll be alright, God will look after me!” or “Not to worry, I’ll just go to confession afterwards!” We forget that presumption is a sin, laying on the opposite spectrum from despair. Let us not presume that we are on the right road, or rationalize that something is okay when it is not. Let us pray and search diligently, all the time, to find out what the will of God may be in our regard in whatever paths we may tempted to take.
On that point, are we really searching for Jesus in life, or are we putting other things before Jesus and searching them out first? We cannot serve God and the world! We cannot be worldly and spiritual! That is like adultery! Remember the words of St. James who says: “Adulterers! Know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
We can tell how much someone or something is valued by the time and effort spent in searching for them, or the efforts made to seek out their company. Sadly, today, Jesus is not sought out very much, and is left abandoned in so many tabernacles of the world, where there is a possibility to visit Him, but it is never, or rarely, taken. Let us be seekers of Jesus and not seekers of the world. “Seek and you find, knock and it shall be opened to you, ask and you shall receive.”
It is in the Temple of God that Mary and Joseph finally find Jesus. We can find Him there too! We find His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Holy Eucharist—the most precious Thing we can have here on earth! We can also find Him in the Temple of the Confessional, where He is only too willing to forgive us our sins and help us rectify our lives. We can find Him in the Temple of Holy Scripture, for man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes forth from the mouth of God—and Scripture is God’s Word. Do we seek these things avidly, or are we indifferent and lukewarm about them.
Jesus is found in the Temple, listening to the doctors, asking them questions and even instructing them. How often do we turn to our Doctors of the Church and read them? They have the answers to many problems, if only one would consult them. Today, with literacy at a higher and broader level than before, and with the ease of access to the works of the Fathers—one does not even have buy their books anymore, as many writings are available on the internet. No cost involved—just spending time, not money.
Finally, the search for three days, reminds of us of the Three Ways! That is the Three Ways or Stages of the Spiritual Life that all souls have to go through to get to Heaven:
(1) The Purgative Way or The Way of Beginners: a result of the First Conversion. It is a conversion away from mortal sin to a life of grace. To be truly within this group, mortal sin must no longer be a part of a person’s life (or be very rare). Spiritual writers hold that lukewarm souls (who are in a state of grace) are not members of the First Way, or, at best, have one foot in the door and the other foot outside.
(2) The Illuminative Way or The Way of the Proficient: a result of the Second Conversion, whereby the soul turns away from all deliberate venial sin (or at least commits it rarely). In this stage, the soul passes from merely seeking to avoid sin, to a deliberate and calculated acquisition of the virtues. Not haphazardly, but in a systematic and progressive way.
(3) The Unitive Way or The Way of the Perfect: which is a result of the third conversion, whereby the soul, no longer sinning mortally or venially, now strives after true sanctity and total union with God. This entails always trying to do the most perfect thing, and trying to root out all remaining imperfections from the soul.
Considering their importance, it is pitiful and woeful that these stages of the spiritual life are so rarely explained. Everyone has to reach the third way of perfection before entering Heaven—we either achieve that here on earth, or we make up for our failure in the fires of Purgatory. Let us, at least, search out this information for ourselves since it is not being widely or hardly taught anywhere. If we truly serious about saving our souls, this is of utmost importance. It separates the “professional” or “full-time” Catholic from the “hobby” or “part-time” Catholic.
Below you will find two accounts of the Loss of the Child Jesus in the Jerusalem, as related by Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda, taken from the book, Mystical City of God. The first account is a shortened version of the full account, which takes up three entire chapters. For those who would like to read and reflect upon all three chapters, these will be included after the shortened version at a later date.
THE MYSTICAL CITY OF GOD: Volume 3 : The Transfixion Book 1: an abridgement of Chapters 4, 5 and 6 "The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days"
Some days after our Queen and Lady with her most holy Son and Saint Joseph had settled in Nazareth, the time of the year in which the Jews were obliged to present themselves before the Lord in the Temple of Jerusalem, was at hand. This commandment obliged the Jews to this duty three times each year, as can be seen in Exodus and Deuteronomy. But it obliged only the men, not the women (Exod. 23:17); therefore the women could go or not, according to their devotion; for it was neither commanded nor prohibited to them.
The heavenly Lady and her spouse conferred with each other as to what they should do in this regard. The holy husband much desired the company of the great Queen, his wife, and of her most holy Son; for he wished to offer Him anew to the eternal Father in the Temple. The most pure Mother also was drawn by her piety to worship the Lord in the Temple; but, as in things of that kind, she did not permit herself to decide without the counsel and direction of the incarnate Word, her Teacher, she asked His advice upon this matter. They finally arranged that, two times a year, Saint Joseph was to go to Jerusalem by himself, while on the third occasion they would go together. The Israelites visited the Temple on the feast of the Tabernacles (Deut. 16:13), the feast of the Weeks, or Pentecost, and the feast of the unleavened Breads or the Pasch of the preparation. To this latter the sweetest Jesus, most pure Mary, and Joseph went up together. It lasted seven days and during that time happened what I shall relate in the next chapter. For the other solemnities Saint Joseph went alone, leaving the Child and the Mother at home.
As I have said, Mary and Joseph repeated their visit to the Temple at the feast of the unleavened Bread every year. Also when the divine Child was twelve years old and when it was time to allow the splendors of His inaccessible and divine light to shine forth, they went to the Temple for this feast (Luke 2, 42). This festival, of the unleavened Bread, lasted seven days, according to the command of the Divine Law; and the more solemn days were the first and the last. On this account, our heavenly Pilgrims remained in Jerusalem during the whole week, spending their time in acts of worship and devotion, as the rest of the Jews, although, on account of the sacraments connected with each of them, their worship and devotion was entirely different and greatly exalted above that of the others. The blessed Mother and holy Joseph received, during these days, favors and blessings beyond the conception of the human mind.
Having thus spent all the seven days of the feast, they betook themselves on their way home to Nazareth. When His parents departed from Jerusalem and were pursuing their way homeward, the Child Jesus withdrew from them without their knowledge. For this purpose the Lord availed Himself of the separation of the men and women, which had become customary among the pilgrims, for reasons of decency as well as for greater recollection during their return homeward. The children, which accompanied their parents, were taken in charge either by the men or the women, since their company with either was a matter of indifference. Thus it happened that Saint Joseph could easily suppose that the Child Jesus had remained with His most holy Mother, with whom He generally remained. The thought that she would go without Him was far from his mind, since the heavenly Queen loved and delighted in Him more than any other creature human or angelic. The great Lady did not have so many reasons for supposing that her most holy Son was in the company of Saint Joseph: but the Lord himself so diverted her thoughts by holy and divine contemplations, that she did not notice His absence at first. When afterwards she became aware of her not being accompanied by her sweetest and beloved Son, she supposed that the blessed Joseph had taken Him along and that the Lord accompanied His foster-father for his consolation.
Thus assured, holy Mary and Joseph pursued their home journey for an entire day, as Saint Luke tells us. As the pilgrims proceeded onwards they gradually thinned out, each taking his own direction and joining again with his wife or family. The most holy Mary and Saint Joseph found themselves at length in the place where they had agreed to meet on the first evening after leaving Jerusalem. When the great Lady saw that the Child was not with Saint Joseph and when the holy Patriarch found that He was not with His Mother, the two were struck dumb with amazement and surprise for quite a while. Both, governed in their judgment by their most profound humility, felt overwhelmed with self-reproach at their remissness in watching over their most holy Son, and thus blamed themselves for His absence; for neither of them had any suspicion of the mysterious manner in which He had been able to elude their vigilance. After a time they recovered, somewhat, from their astonishment, and, with deepest sorrow, took counsel with each other as to what was to be done (Luke 2:45). The loving Mother said to Saint Joseph: "My Spouse and my master, my heart cannot rest, unless we return with all haste to Jerusalem in order to seek my most holy Son." This they proceeded to do, beginning their search among their relations and friends, of whom, however, none could give them any information or any comfort in their sorrow; on the contrary their answers only increased their anxiety, since none of them had so much as seen their Son since their departure from Jerusalem.
Thus, this sincerest Dove persevered in her tears and groans without cessation or rest, without sleeping or eating anything for three whole days. Although the ten thousand angels accompanied her in corporeal forms and witnessed her affliction and sorrow, yet they gave her no clue where to find her lost Child. On the third day the great Queen resolved to seek Him in the desert where Saint John was; for since she saw no indications that Archelaus had taken Him prisoner, she began to believe more firmly, that her most holy Son was with Saint John. When she was about to execute her resolve and was on the point of departing for the desert, the holy angels detained her, urging her not to undertake the journey, since the divine Word was not there. She wanted also to go to Bethlehem, in the hope of finding Him in the cave of the Nativity; but this the holy angels likewise prevented, telling her that He was not so far off. Although the blessed Mother heard these answers and well perceived that the holy angels knew the whereabouts of the Child Jesus, she was so considerate and reserved in her humility and prudence, that she gave no response, nor asked where she could find Him; for she understood that they withheld this information by command of the Lord. With such magnanimous reverence did the Queen of the angels treat the sacraments of the Most High and of His ministers and ambassadors (2 Mach. 2:9). This was one of the occasions in which the greatness of her queenly and magnanimous heart was made manifest.
Not all the sorrows, suffered by all the martyrs, ever reached the height of the sorrows of most holy Mary in this trial; nor will the patience, resignation and tolerance of this Lady ever be equalled, nor can they; for the loss of Jesus was greater to her than the loss of anything created, while her love and appreciation of Him exceeded all that can be conceived by any other creature. Since she did not know the cause of the loss, her anxiety was beyond all measure, as I have already said. Moreover, during these three days the Lord left her to her natural resources of nature and of grace, deprived of special privileges and favors; for, with the exception of the company and intercourse with the angels, He suspended all the other consolations and blessings so constantly vouchsafed to her most holy soul. From all this we can surmise what sorrow filled the loving heart of the heavenly Mother.
But, O prodigy of holiness, prudence, fortitude and perfection! In such unheard of affliction and sorrow she was not disturbed, nor lost her interior or exterior peace, nor did she entertain a thought of anger or indignation, nor allowed herself any improper movement or expression, nor fell into any excess of grief or annoyance, as is so common in great affliction with other children of Adam, who allow all their passions and faculties to be disarranged, yea even in small difficulties! The Mistress of all virtue held all her powers in heavenly order and harmony; though her sorrow was without comparison great and had pierced her inmost heart, she failed not in reverence and in the praise of the Lord, nor ceased in her prayers and petitions for the human race, and for the finding of her most holy Son.
With this heavenly wisdom, and with greatest diligence, she sought Him for three successive days, roaming through the streets of the city, asking different persons and describing to the daughters of Jerusalem the marks of her Beloved, searching the byways and the open squares of the city, and thereby fulfilling what was recorded in the Canticles of Solomon (Cant. 5:10). Some of the women asked her what were the distinctive marks of her lost and only Son; and she answered in the words of the Spouse: "My Beloved is white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands." One of the women, hearing her thus describing Him, said: "This Child, with those same marks, came yesterday to my door to ask for alms, and I gave some to Him; and His grace and beauty have ravished my heart. And when I gave Him alms, I felt myself overcome by compassion to see a Child so gracious in poverty and want."
This was the first news the sorrowful Mother heard of her Only-begotten in Jerusalem. A little respited in her sorrow, she pursued her quest and met other persons, who spoke of Him in like manner. Guided by this information, she directed her steps to the hospital of the city, thinking, that among the afflicted, she would find the Spouse and the Originator of patient poverty, among His own legitimate brethren and friends (Matth. 5:40). Inquiring at that place, she was informed that a Child of that description had paid His visits to the inmates, leaving some alms and speaking words of much consolation to the afflicted.
The report of these doings of her Beloved caused sentiments of sweetest and most tender affection in the heart of the heavenly Lady, which she sent forth from her inmost heart, as messengers to her lost and absent Son. Then the thought struck her, that, since He was not with the poor, He no doubt tarried in the Temple, as in the house of God and of prayer. The holy angels encouraged her and said: "Our Queen and Lady, the hour of thy consolation is at hand: soon wilt Thou see the Light of thy eyes; hasten thy footsteps and go to the Temple." The glorious patriarch Saint Joseph, at this moment again, met his Spouse, for, in order to increase their chance of finding the divine Child, they had separated in different directions. By another angel, he had now been likewise ordered to proceed to the Temple. During all these three days, he had suffered unspeakable sorrow and affliction, hastening from one place to another, sometimes without his heavenly Spouse, sometimes with her. He was in serious danger of losing his life during this time, if the hand of the Lord had not strengthened him and if the most prudent Lady had not consoled him and forced him to take some food and rest. His sincere and exquisite love for the divine Child made him so anxious and solicitous to find Him, that he would have allowed himself no time or care to take nourishment for the support of nature.
It was very near to the gate of the city, that the divine Child turned and hastened back through the streets. Foreseeing in His divine fore-knowledge all that was to happen, He offered it up to His eternal Father for the benefit of souls. He asked for alms during these three days, in order to ennoble, from that time on, humble mendicity as the first-born of holy poverty. He visited the hospitals of the poor, consoling them and giving them the alms which He had received; secretly He restored bodily health to some and spiritual health to many, by enlightening them interiorly and leading them back to the way of salvation. On some of the benefactors, who gave Him alms, He performed these wonders with a greater abundance of grace and light; thus fulfilling from that time on the promise, which He was afterwards to make to His Church; that he who gives to the just and to the prophet, in the name of a prophet, shall receive the reward of the just (Matth. 10:41).
Having thus busied Himself with these and other works of His Father, He betook Himself to the Temple. On the day, which the Evangelist mentions, it happened that also the rabbis, who were the learned and the teachers of the Temple, met in a certain part of the buildings, in order to confer among themselves concerning some doubtful points of Holy Scriptures. On this occasion the coming of the Messias was discussed; for on account of the report of the wonderful events, which had spread about since the birth of the Baptist and the visit of the Kings of the east, the rumor of the coming of the Redeemer and of His being already in the world, though yet unknown, had gained ground among the Jews. They were all seated in their places, filled with the sense of authority customary to those who are teachers and considered as learned.
The Child Jesus came to the meeting of these distinguished men; and He that was the King of kings, and Lord of lords (Apoc. 19:16), the infinite Wisdom itself (1 Cor. 1:24), and Who corrects the wise (Wis. 7:15), presented Himself before the teachers of this world as an humble disciple, giving them to understand that He had come to hear the discussion and inform Himself on the question treated of, namely: whether the Messias was already come, or, if not, concerning the time in which He should come into the world. Therefore the divine Child presented Himself to the disputants, manifesting the grace poured out over His lips (Ps. 44:3). He stepped into their midst with exceeding majesty and grace, as one who would propose some doubt or solution. By His pleasing appearance He awakened in the hearts of these learned men a desire to hear Him attentively.
The scribes and learned men, who heard Him, were all dumbfounded. Convinced by His arguments, they looked at each other and in great astonishment asked: "What miracle is this? And what prodigy of a boy! Whence has He come and who is the Child?" But, though thus astonished, they did not recognize or suspect who it was, that thus taught and enlightened them concerning such an important truth. During this time, and before Jesus had finished His argument, His most holy Mother and Saint Joseph her most chaste spouse arrived, just in time to hear Him advance His last arguments. When He had finished, all the teachers of the Law arose with stupendous amazement.
The heavenly Lady, absorbed in joy, approached her most loving Son and in the presence of the whole assembly, spoke to Him the words recorded by Saint Luke: "Son, why halt Thou done so to us? Behold thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing" (Luke 2, 48). This loving complaint the heavenly Mother uttered with equal reverence and affection, adoring Him as God and manifesting her maternal affliction. The Lord answered: "Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?"
The Evangelist says that they did not understand the mystery of these words (Luke 2:50); for it was hidden at the time to most holy Mary and Saint Joseph. And for two reasons; on the one hand, the interior joy of now reaping what they had sown in so much sorrow, and the visible presence of their precious Treasure, entirely filled the faculties of their souls; and on the other hand, the time for the full comprehension of what had just been treated of in this discussion had not yet arrived for them. Moreover, for the most solicitous Queen there was another hindrance just at that time, and it was, that the veil, concealing the interior of her most holy Son, had again intervened and was not removed until some time later.
The learned men departed, commenting in their amazement upon the wonderful event, by which they had been privileged to hear the teaching of eternal Wisdom, though they did not recognize it. Being thus left almost alone, the blessed Mother, embracing Him with maternal affection, said to Him: "Permit my longing heart, my Son, to give expression to its sorrow and pain; so that it may not die of grief as long as it can be of use to Thee. Do not cast me off from Thy sight; but accept me as Thy slave. If it was my negligence, which deprived me of Thy presence, pardon me and make me worthy of Thy company, and do not punish me with Thy absence." The divine Child received her with signs of pleasure and offered Himself as her Teacher and Companion, until the proper time should arrive. Thus was the dove-like and affectionate heart of the great Lady appeased, and they departed for Nazareth.
They arrived at Nazareth, where they occupied themselves in what I shall record later on. The evangelist Luke compendiously mentions all the mysteries in few words, saying the Child Jesus was subject to His parents, namely most holy Mary and Saint Joseph, and that His heavenly Mother noted and preserved within her heart all these events; and that Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men (Luke 2:52), of which, as far as my understanding goes, I will speak later on. Just now I wish only to mention, that the humility and obedience of our God and Master toward His parents were the admiration of the angels. But so was also the dignity and excellence of His most blessed Mother, who thus merited that the incarnate God should subject Himself and resign Himself to her care; so much so, that she, with the assistance of Saint Joseph, governed Him and disposed of Him as her own.
To the obedience and subjection of her most holy Son, the great Lady, on her part, responded by heroic works. Among her other excellences, she conceived as it were an incomprehensible humility and a most heartfelt gratitude for having regained the companionship of her Son. This blessing, of which the heavenly Queen deemed herself unworthy, vastly increased, in her most pure heart, her love and her anxiety to serve her divine Son. And she was so constant in showing her gratitude, so punctual and solicitous to serve Him, kneeling before Him and lowering herself to the dust, that it excited the admiration of the highest seraphim. Moreover, she sought with the closest attention to imitate Him in all His actions as they became known to her, and exerted herself most anxiously to copy them and reproduce them in her own life. The plenitude of her perfection wounded the heart of our Christ and Lord, and, according to our way of speaking, held Him bound to her with chains of invincible love. (Osee 11:4). His being thus bound, as God and as Son, to this heavenly Princess, gave rise to such an interchange and divine reciprocity of intense love, as surpasses all created understanding. For into the ocean of Mary's soul entered all the vast floods of the graces and blessings of the incarnate Word; and this ocean did not overflow (Eccles. 1:7), because it contained the depth and expanse necessary to receive them.
INSTRUCTION WHICH THE MOST HOLY QUEEN MARY GAVE ME
My daughter, all the works of my most holy Son, and my own actions, are full of mysterious instruction and doctrine for the mortals who contemplate them diligently and reverently. The Lord absented Himself from me in order that, seeking Him in sorrow and tears, I might find Him again in joy and with abundant fruits for my soul. I desire that thou imitate me in this mystery and seek Him with such earnestness, as to be consumed with a continual longing, without ever in thy whole life coming to any rest, until thou holdest Him and canst lose Him no more (Can. 5:4). In order that thou mayest understand better this sacrament of the Lord, remember, that the infinite Wisdom made men capable of His eternal felicity and placed them on the way to this happiness, but left them in doubt of its attainment, as long as they have not yet acquired it and thus filled them with joyful hope and sorrowful fear of its final acquisition.
This anxiety engenders in men a lifelong fear and abhorrence of sin, by which alone they can be deprived of beatitude and, thus, prevent them from being ensnared and misled by the corporeal and visible things of this earth. This anxiety the Creator assists by adding to the natural reasoning powers, faith and hope, which are the spurs of their love toward seeking and finding their last end. Besides these virtues and others infused at Baptism He sends His inspirations and helps to keep awake the soul in the absence of its Lord and to prevent forgetfulness of Him and of itself while deprived of His amiable presence. Thus it pursues the right course until it finds the great goal, where all its inclinations and longing shall be satiated.
Hence, thou canst estimate the listless ignorance of mortals and how few stop to consider the mysterious order of the creation and justification, and all the works of the Almighty tending toward this exalted end. From this forgetfulness flow so many evils endured by men, while they appropriate so many earthly goods and deceitful delights, as if they could ever find in them their ultimate end. The height of perversity opposed to the order of the Creator, is that mortals, in this transitory and short life, rejoice in visible things, as if they were their last end, while they ought, on the contrary, to make use of creatures to gain, not to lose, the highest Good. Do thou, therefore, my dearest, be mindful of this dangerous human folly. Consider all delights and joys of the world as insanity, its laughing as sorrow, sensible enjoyment as self deceit, as the source of foolishness, which intoxicates the heart and hinders and destroys all true wisdom. Live in constant and holy fear of losing eternal life and rejoice in nothing, except in the Lord, until thou obtainest full possession of Him.