THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
XVIII.-HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST IS NOT VAIN OF HIS OWN WORTH, BUT HUMBLES HIMSELF, AND IS GLAD TO BE HUMBLED.
It was the saying of St. Teresa, “Think not that thou hast advanced far in perfection till thou considerest thyself the worst of all, and desirest to be placed below all.”
And on this maxim the Saint acted, and so have done all the Saints; St. Francis of Assisi, St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, and the rest, considered themselves the greatest sinners in the world, and were surprised that the earth sheltered them, and did not rather open under their feet to swallow them up alive; and they expressed themselves to this effect with the sincerest conviction. The Blessed John of Avila, who from his earliest infancy had led a holy life, was on his death-bed; and the priest who came to attend him said many sublime things to him, taking him for what indeed he was, a great servant of God and a learned man; but Father Avila thus spoke to him : “Father, I pray you to make the recommendation of my soul, as of a criminal condemned to death; for such l am.” This is the opinion which Saints entertain of themselves in life and death.
We, too, must act in this manner, if we would save our souls, and keep ourselves in the grace of God till death, reposing all our confidence in God alone. The proud man relies on his own strength and falls on that account; but the humble man, by placing all his trust in God alone, stands firm and falls not, however violent and multiplied the temptations may be; for his watch¬word is: I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me-(Phil. iv. 13). The devil at one time tempts us to presumption, at another time to diffidence: whenever he suggests to us that we are in no danger of falling, then we should tremble the more; for were God but for an instant to withdraw His grace from us, we are lost. When, again, he tempts us to diffidence, then let us turn to God, and thus address! Him with great confidence: In thee, O Lord, have I hoped, I shall never be confounded-(Ps. xxx. 2). My God, in Thee I have put all my hopes; I hope never to meet with confusion, nor to be bereft of Thy grace. We ought to exercise ourselves continually, even to the very last moment of our life, in these acts of difference in ourselves and confidence in God, always beseeching God to grant us humility.