IX.-HOW TO CONVERSE CONTINUALLY AND FAMILIARLY WITH GOD
That you may be able ever to keep yourself in a state of recollection and union with God, turn everything you see or hear into an occasion for raising your mind to God. Running water will remind you how your life is running on and carrying you nearer and nearer to death; and the lamp going out for want of oil will warn you that thus also shall you one day see your life come to an end.
That you may be able to keep yourself ever in a state of recollection and union with God, as long as you live, and as far as may be possible, turn everything that you may see or hear into an occasion for raising your mind to God, or for taking a glance into eternity. For example, when you see running water reflect that your life is also in like manner running on, and carrying you nearer and nearer to death. When you see a lamp going out for want of oil, reflect that thus also one day you will have to see your life come to its end. When you see the graves or remains of the dead, consider that you too will one day be buried in a grave. When you see the great ones of this world rejoicing in their wealth or distinction, pity their folly, and say: For me God is sufficient: Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we in the name of the Lord-(Ps. xix. 8). Let them glory in such vanity; I will make nothing my glory but the grace and the love of my God. When you behold the pompous funerals, or the fine sepulchral monuments of the great ones that are dead, say: If these are damned what is the good of all this pomp to them?
When you behold the sea in a calm or in storm, consider the difference there is between a soul in, and a soul out of, the grace of God. When you see a tree that is withered, consider that a soul without God is serviceable for nothing but to be cast into fire. If you ever happen to see one who has been guilty of some great crime, trembling with shame and fright in the presence of his judge, or of his father, or of his bishop, consider what the terror of a sinner will be in the presence of Christ, his Judge. When it thunders, and you become alarmed, reflect how those miserable ones who are damned tremble as they hear continually in hell the thunders of the divine wrath. If you ever see one who has been condemned to suffer a painful death, and who says: Is there, then, no longer any means for my escaping death? consider what will be the despair of a soul when it is condemned to hell, as it says, Is there, then, no longer any means for escaping from eternal ruin?