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fact which cannot be called into question. As long as you live, you are liable to fall anew into mortal sin. Even though you should have performed the most sublime miracles; though you should be more perfect in virtue than the august Mother of God herself; though you should have been, like S. Paul, transported to the third heaven, nevertheless, if God should withdraw His grace from you, you may at any moment fall into mortal sin. That soldier of whom we read among the forty martyrs of Sebaste, had bravely endured, almost throughout the entire night, the piercing cold of the frozen water; but just as he was about to be released from his sufferings by death, and his crown was already within his grasp, he yielded to temptation, flung himself into the tepid bath, prepared for those who were willing to apostatise, and died. Two priests in Japan, after having for a period of three years bravely endured, with Father Spinola, a most terrible imprisonment, during which they were even roasted at a slow fire for several hours, suddenly apostatised; and having been cast back into the fire by the executioners, as being renegades from their religion, they died miserable apostates, when they should have nobly died a martyr's death. Wherefore, "howl, thou fir-tree, for the cedar has fallen " (a); acknowledge yourself more fragile than glass, and tremble, since you, too, may relapse into mortal sin.
Moreover, since death may surprise you at any moment, you may happen to die in the very act of sin, may be called upon to present yourself in that state before the Judgment Seat of God, and thence
(a) Zacharias xi. 2.
be instantly hurled into hell. 0 terrible truth! O powerful motive for self-humiliation! I have merited hell; I may sin anew, may die in my sin, and may be damned for all eternity. And yet I indulge in pride ! and I pamper this sinfnl flesh of mine, which deserves to burn! If one of the damned could come out of hell, and the time and means of doing penance were granted to him, oh! with how many and what dreadful punishments would he chastise his body, in order to avoid the danger of relapsing into sin, to appease the Divine justice, and to atone for his former abuse of the Divine mercy. Why, then, do you not act in the same manner? Is it, perhaps, a lesser favour not to be hurled into hell after having so many times deserved it, than to escape from that dreadful prison after having entered it? Therefore, "humble thy spirit very much " (a), and chastise your body as one would do who had returned from hell.
Resolve, then; 1. to avoid henceforward all those sins —even venial ones, as far as possible—which sensuality and pride have induced you to commit. And, first of all, resolve not to think of, or do, or speak of anything which could possibly bring honour and glory to yourself, or disgrace and shame to others. (Here enter into particulars). 2. Resolve not to allow any vicious indulgence to your senses, and especially to the eyes, the taste, or the touch. Enter into particulars on this point, and do not close this book until you shall have committed your resolutions to writing. 3. Since, according to the plan of S. Ignatius, the advantage to be derived from the con
(a) Eccl. vii. 1 9.
sideration of our sins is "to detest their malice with sorrow, and with suitable satisfaction " (a), and since he prescribes, with a view to this end, some external penance also with respect to our food, our bed, and sleep, and even the chastisement of our bodies with a hair-shirt, discipline, or other instrument of penance, it follows, as a consequence, that we ought not only to make use of such during the time of retreat, but to propose to ourselves also to continue the use of them afterwards; for, according to the Saint, external penance produces the three following effects: (1.) It atones in some measure for past sins. (2.) A person, thereby, conquers himself in subjecting his inferior nature, which is his sensuality, to his nobler nature, which is his reason. (3.) By it we obtain more easily that gift of Divine grace which we are so anxiously seeking (b); and, above all, it affords us the greatest assistance in eradicating from our souls those poisonous roots of sin—pride and sensuality.
N.B.—The following Examen may be made during the time of spiritual lecture, or at some other time which is not occupied by the ordinary Exercises.
On the defects which spring from Pride and Sensuality. We have to-day detested the malice of our sins, and the root from which they spring. In the present Examen we shall discover the many evils which this root produces, in order that we may be incited thereby to pluck it more effectually from our hearts, and may be enabled to acquire a more thorough knowledge of ourselves.
(a) Directory ch. xi. n. 2. (b) Exercit. in addit. hebd. I.
I. Pride, then, which, according to S. Thomas, is an ill-regulated desire of our own excellence, is not only of its kind a mortal sin, of special malice, and more grievous than all the others, but it is also the fountain and source whence every other sin proceeds, "since it exercises a sort of universal influence on all other crimes" (a). Its daughters are principally vain-glory, ambition, . hypocrisy, anger, envy, detraction, hatred, rashness, scorn for our neighbour, boastful arrogance, presumption, stubbornness, ingratitude, disobedience, and a spirit of insubordination. For, pride is puffed up without cause, is ambitious of honours, simulates virtue, is enraged when kept in subjection, and murmurs against authority. It is envious, hates those who despise it, believes itself the exclusive possessor of wisdom, is loud in its own praise, looks down upon others, and audaciously presumes to achieve everything of itself. Finally, it is self-willed, ungrateful, disobedient, and rebellious.
Here examine yourself. 1. In all your actions, have you had the pure intention of only promoting the glory of God 1 or have you sought your own glory through means of them 1 Do you set undue value upon yourself, and upon your actions? Do you take a foolish complacency in them? Do you boast of them? Do you go about trumpeting your own praises in all directions, in order to win the esteem of men. 2. Examine, also, whether you love positions of distinction, and to soar high above others? Whether, by pretending to be disinterested, humble, and pious, you are secretly working your
(a) S. Thomas 2. 2. q. 162. a. 2. c
way to high positions, and to offices of distinction? Whether, through self-esteem, you are displeased at having lowly employments assigned to you? Whether you are sometimes envious when you see others attaining positions more exalted than your own? Whether you feel angry when others do not show you respect, or offend you; and whether you cherish resentment against the person so offending?
3. Examine, also, whether you belong to the class of those who fancy that they alone know everything; who despise everybody else; and lavishly bestow the most extravagant praise upon their own actions; who are persuaded that no honour is too exalted for their merits; and believe that they alone can achieve great things? Who are obstinate in their own opinions, scout the idea of obedience, and pretend to privileges because of some fancied merits? Who murmur against authority, and sow evil seeds in the community of which they are members, by resisting the regulations of those placed over them; because, indeed, to their thinking, they have not been fairly treated?
This brief examen will enable you to discover to what extent pride has cast its roots in your heart; and you will, accordingly, take measures to eradicate it. "Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind, or in thy words : for from it all perdition took its beginning" (a).
II . The other plague which poisons our heart is sensuality, which is to us the occasion of sins innumerable. It consists in the desire of those pleasures
(a) Tobias iv. 14.