THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
XXIII.-HE THAT LOVES JESUS CHRIST DESIRES NOTHING BUT JESUS CHRIST
Let us be especially on our guard against all ambitious seeking of preference, and sensibility in points of honour. St. Teresa said, “Where points of honour prevail, there spirituality will never prevail.” Many persons make profession of a spiritual life, but they are worshippers of self. They have the semblance of certain virtues, but they are ambitious of being praised in all their undertakings; and if nobody else praises them they praise themselves. In short, they strive to appear better than others; and if their honour be touched, they lose their peace, they leave off Holy Communion, they omit all their devotions, and find no rest till they imagine they have got back their former standing. The true lovers of God do not so behave. They not only carefully shun every word of self-complacency, but, further, they are sorry at hearing themselves commended by others, and it is their joy to see themselves held in small repute by the rest of men.
That saying of St. Francis of Assisi is most true: “What I am before God, that I am.” Of what use is it to pass for great in the eyes of the world, if before God we be vile and worthless? And on the contrary, what matters it to be despised by the world, provided we be dear and acceptable in the eyes of God? St. Augustine thus writes: “The approbation of him who praises, neither heals a bad conscience, nor does the reproach of him who blames wound a good conscience.” As the man who praises us cannot deliver us from the chastisement of our evil doings, so neither can he who blames us rob us of the merit of our good actions. “What does it matter,” says St. Teresa, “though we be condemned and reviled by creatures, if before Thee, O God, we are great and without blame?” The Saints had no other desire but to live unknown, and to pass for contemptible in the estimation of all. Thus writes St. Francis de Sales: “But what wrong do we suffer when people have a bad opinion of us, since we ought to have such of ourselves? Perhaps we know that we are bad, and yet wish to pass off for good in the estimation of others.”