THE PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS OF ST ANSELM

Preface

The purpose of the prayers and meditations that follow is to stir up the mind of the reader to the love or fear of God, or to self-examination. They are not to be read in a turmoil, but quietly, not skimmed or hurried through, but taken a little at a time, with deep and thoughtful meditation.

The reader should not trouble about reading the whole of any of them, but only as much as, by God’s help, he finds useful in stirring up his spirit to pray, or as much as he likes. Nor is it necessary for him always to begin at the beginning, but wherever he pleases.

With this in mind the sections are divided into paragraphs, so that the reader can begin and leave off wherever he chooses; in this way he will not get bored with too much material but will be able to ponder more deeply those things that make him want to pray.

Letter of Anselm to the Countess Mathilda of Tuscany

(Schmitt, vol. 3, p. 4, before the Preface to the Prayers and Meditations)

Anselm, the unworthy bishop of the Church of Canterbury, sends salutations to the reverend Countess Mathilda.

It has seemed good to your Highness that I should send you these prayers, which I edited at the request of several brothers. Some of them are not appropriate to you, but I want to send them all, so that if you like them you may be able to compose others after their example. They are arranged so that by reading them the mind may be stirred up either to the love or fear of God, or to a consideration of both; so they should not be read cursorily or quickly, but little by little, with attention and deep meditation. It is not intended that the reader should feel impelled to read the whole, but only as much as will stir up the affections to prayer; so as much as does that, think it to be sufficient for you.

Second Letter to Countess Mathilda

(Schmitt, vol. 5, end of Letter 325, p. 256)

Your Highness has told me that you have not got the Prayers and Meditations which I myself have copied and I thought you had got. I send them to you by my son, Alexander. The Almighty God rule and protect you always; with my blessing.

1. Prayer to God

 

Almighty God, merciful Father, and my good Lord,

 

have mercy on me, a sinner.

 

Grant me forgiveness of my sins.

 

Make me guard against and overcome

5

all snares, temptations, and harmful pleasures.

 

May I shun utterly in word and in deed,

 

whatever you forbid,

 

and do and keep whatever you command.

 

Let me believe and hope, love and live,

10

according to your purpose and your will.

 

Give me heart-piercing goodness and humility;

 

discerning abstinence and mortification of the flesh.

 

Help me to love you and pray to you,

 

praise you and meditate upon you.

15

May I act and think in all things according to your will,

 

purely, soberly, devoutly,

 

and with a true and effective mind.

 

Let me know your commandments, and love them,

 

carry them out readily, and bring them into effect.

20

Always, Lord, let me go on with humility to better things

 

and never grow slack.

 

Lord, do not give me over

 

either to my human ignorance and weakness

 

or to my own deserts,

25

or to anything, other than your loving dealing with me.

 

Do you yourself in kindness dispose of me,

 

my thoughts and actions, according to your good pleasure,

 

so that your will may always be done

 

by me and in me and concerning me.

30

Deliver me from all evil

 

and lead me to eternal life

 

through the Lord.

2. Prayer to Christ

 

Lord Jesus Christ,

 

my Redeemer, my Mercy, and my Salvation:

 

I praise you and give you thanks.

 

They are far beneath the goodness of your gifts,

5

which deserve a better return of love;

 

but although I requite so poorly

 

the sweet riches of your love

 

which I have longed to have,

 

yet my soul will pay its debt

10

by some sort of praise and thanks,

 

not as I know I ought, but as I can.

 

*

 

Hope of my heart, strength of my soul,

 

help of my weakness,

 

by your powerful kindness complete

15

what in my powerless weakness I attempt.

 

My life, the end to which I strive,

 

although I have not yet attained to love you as I ought,

 

still let my desire for you

 

be as great as my love ought to be.

 

*

20

My light, you see my conscience,

 

because, ‘Lord, before you is all my desire’,

 

and if my soul wills any good, you gave it me.

 

Lord, if what you inspire is good,

 

or rather because it is good, that I should want to love you,

25

give me what you have made me want:

 

grant that I may attain to love you as much as you command.

 

I praise and thank you for the desire that you have inspired;

 

and I offer you praise and thanks

 

lest your gift to me be unfruitful,

30

which you have given me of your own accord.

 

Perfect what you have begun,

 

and grant me what you have made me long for,

 

not according to my deserts but out of your kindness

 

that came first to me.

 

*

35

Most merciful Lord,

 

turn my lukewarmness into a fervent love of you.

 

Most gentle Lord,

 

my prayer tends towards this –

 

that by remembering and meditating

40

on the good things you have done

 

I may be enkindled with your love.

 

Your goodness, Lord, created me;

 

Your mercy cleansed what you had created

 

from original sin;

45

your patience has hitherto borne with me,

 

fed me, waited for me,

 

when after I had lost the grace of my baptism

 

I wallowed in many sordid sins.

 

You wait, good Lord, for my amendment;

50

My soul waits for the inbreathing of your grace

 

in order to be sufficiently penitent

 

to lead a better life.

 

*

 

My Lord and my Creator,

 

you bear with me and nourish me –

55

be my helper.

 

I thirst for you, I hunger for you, I desire you,

 

I sigh for you, I covet you:

 

I am like an orphan deprived of the presence

 

of a very kind father,

60

who, weeping and wailing, does not cease to cling to

 

the dear face with his whole heart.

 

So, as much as I can, though not as much as I ought,

 

I am mindful of your passion,

 

your buffeting, your scourging, your cross, your wounds,

65

how you were slain for me,

 

how prepared for burial and buried;

 

and also I remember your glorious Resurrection,

 

and wonderful Ascension.

 

All this I hold with unwavering faith,

70

and weep over the hardship of exile,

 

hoping in the sole consolation of your coming,

 

ardently longing for the glorious contemplation of your face.

 

Alas for me, that I was not able to see

 

the Lord of Angels humbled to converse with men,

75

when God, the one insulted,

 

willed to die that the sinner might live.

 

Alas that I did not deserve to be amazed

 

in the presence of a love marvellous and beyond our grasp.

 

Why, O my soul, were you not there

80

to be pierced by a sword of bitter sorrow

 

when you could not bear

 

the piercing of the side of your Saviour with a lance?

 

Why could you not bear to see

 

the nails violate the hands and feet of your Creator?

85

Why did you not see with horror

 

the blood that poured out of the side of your Redeemer?

 

Why were you not drunk with bitter tears

 

when they gave him bitter gall to drink?

 

Why did you not share

90

the sufferings of the most pure virgin,

 

his worthy mother and your gentle lady?

 

*

 

My most merciful Lady,

 

what can I say about the fountains

 

that flowed from your most pure eyes

95

when you saw your only Son before you,

 

bound, beaten and hurt?

 

What do I know of the flood

 

that drenched your matchless face,

 

when you beheld your Son, your Lord, and your God,

100

stretched on the cross without guilt,

 

when the flesh of your flesh

 

was cruelly butchered by wicked men?

 

How can I judge what sobs troubled your most pure breast

 

when you heard, ‘Woman, behold your son,’

105

and the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother’,

 

when you received as a son

 

the disciple in place of the master,

 

the servant for the lord?

 

*

 

Would that I with happy Joseph

110

might have taken down my Lord, from the cross,

 

wrapped him in spiced grave-clothes

 

and laid him in the tomb;

 

or even followed after

 

so that such a burial

115

might not have been without my mourning.

 

Would that with the blessed band of women

 

I might have trembled at the vision of angels

 

and have heard the news of the Lord’s Resurrection,

 

news of my consolation,

120

so much looked for, so much desired.

 

Would that I might have heard from the angel’s mouth,

 

‘Fear not, Jesus who was crucified, whom you are seeking,

 

is not here; he is risen.’

 

*

 

Kindest, gentlest, most serene Lord,

125

will you not make it up to me for not seeing

 

the blessed incorruption of your flesh,

 

for not having kissed the place of the wounds

 

where the nails pierced,

 

for not having sprinkled with tears of joy

130

the scars that prove the truth of your body?

 

O wonder, beyond price and beyond compare,

 

‘how will you comfort and recompense me for my grief?’

 

For it cannot cease while I am a pilgrim, far from my Lord.

 

Alas, Lord, alas, my soul.

135

You have ascended, consoler of my life,

 

and you have not said farewell to me.

 

Going up on your way you blessed your own,

 

but I did not say good-bye;

 

‘lifting up your hands’

140

you were received by a cloud into heaven,

 

and I did not see it;

 

angels promised your return; and I did not hear it.

 

*

 

What shall I say? What shall I do? Whither shall I go?

 

Where shall I seek him? Where and when shall I find him?

145

Whom shall I ask? Who will tell me of my beloved?

 

‘for I am sick from love’.

 

The joy of my heart fails me’;

 

my laughter ‘is turned to mourning’;

 

my heart and my flesh fail me;

150

‘but God is the strength of my heart, my portion for ever.’

 

‘My soul refuses comfort,’ unless from you, my dear.

 

‘Whom have I in heaven but you,

 

and what do I desire upon earth beside you?’

 

I want you, I hope for you, I seek you;

155

‘to you my heart has said, seek my face’;

 

‘your face, Lord, have I sought;

 

turn not your face from me.’

 

*

 

Most kind lover of men,

 

‘the poor commits himself to you,

160

for you are the helper of the orphan’.

 

My most safe helper,

 

have mercy upon the orphan left to you.

 

I am become a child without a father;

 

my soul is like a widow.

165

Turn your gaze and behold my tears

 

which I offer to you till you return.

 

Come now, Lord, appear to me and I will be consoled;

 

show me your face and I shall be saved;

 

display your presence and I have obtained my desire;

170

reveal your glory and my joy will be full.

 

‘My soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs after you,’

 

my soul thirsts for God, the fountain of life;

 

‘when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?’

 

My consoler, for whom I wait, when will you come?

175

O that I might see the joy that I desire;

 

that I might be satisfied with the appearing of your glory

 

for which I hunger;

 

that I might be satisfied with the riches of your house

 

for which I sigh;

180

that I might drink of the torrent of your pleasures

 

for which I thirst.

 

*

 

Lord, meanwhile, let my tears be my meat day and night,

 

until they say to me, ‘Behold your God,’

 

until I hear, ‘Soul, behold your bridegroom.’

185

Meanwhile, let me be fed with griefs,

 

and let my tears be my drink;

 

comfort me with sorrows.

 

Perhaps then my Redeemer will come to me,

 

for he is good;

190

he is kind, he will not tarry,

 

to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

3. Prayer Before Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ

 

Lord Jesus Christ

 

by the Father’s plan and by the working of the Holy Ghost

 

of your own free will you died

 

and mercifully redeemed the world

5

from sin and everlasting death.

 

I adore and venerate you

 

as much as ever I can,

 

though my love is so cold, my devotion so poor.

 

Thank you for the good gift

10

of this your holy Body and Blood,

 

which I desire to receive, as cleansing from sin,

 

and for a defence against it.

 

*

 

Lord, I acknowledge that I am far from worthy

 

to approach and touch this sacrament;

15

but I trust in that mercy

 

which caused you to lay down your life for sinners

 

that they might be justified,

 

and because you gave yourself

 

willingly as a holy sacrifice to the Father.

20

A sinner, I presume to receive these gifts

 

so that I may be justified by them.

 

I beg and pray you, therefore, merciful lover of men,

 

let not that which you have given for the cleansing of sins

 

be unto me the increase of sin,

25

but rather for forgiveness and protection.

 

*

 

Make me, O Lord, so to perceive with lips and heart

 

and know by faith and by love,

 

that by virtue of this sacrament I may deserve to be

 

planted in the likeness of your death and resurrection,

30

by mortifying the old man,

 

and by renewal of the life of righteousness.

 

May I be worthy to be incorporated into your body

 

‘which is the church’,

 

so that I may be your member and you may be my head,

35

and that I may remain in you and you in me.

 

Then at the Resurrection you will refashion

 

the body of my humiliation

 

according to the body of your glory,

 

as you promised by your apostle,

40

and I shall rejoice in you for ever

 

to your glory,

 

who with the Father and the Holy Spirit

 

lives and reigns for ever. Amen.

4. Prayer to the Holy Cross

 

Holy Cross,

 

which calls to mind the cross

 

whereon our Lord Jesus Christ died,

 

to bring us back from that eternal death

5

to which our misery was leading us,

 

to the eternal life we had lost by sinning.

 

I adore, I venerate, and I glory in that cross

 

which you represent to us,

 

and by that cross I adore our merciful Lord

10

and what he has in mercy done for us.

 

Cross, worthy to be loved, in whom is our salvation,

 

our life, and resurrection.

 

Most precious wood, by whom we are saved and set free,

 

sign to be reverenced, by which we are sealed for God,

15

glorious cross, we ought to glory only in you.

 

*

 

We do not acknowledge you because of the cruelty

 

that godless and foolish men prepared you to effect

 

upon the most gentle Lord,

 

but because of the wisdom and goodness of him

20

who of his own free will took you up.

 

For they could not have done anything

 

unless his wisdom had permitted it,

 

and he could not suffer except that in his mercy he willed it.

 

They chose you

25

that they might carry out their evil deeds;

 

he chose you

 

that he might fulfil the work of his goodness.

 

They that by you

 

they might hand over the righteous to death;

30

he that through you he might save sinners from death.

 

They that they might kill life;

 

he that he might destroy death.

 

They that they might condemn the Saviour;

 

he that he might save the condemned.

35

They that they might bring death to the living;

 

he to bring life to the dead.

 

They acted foolishly and cruelly; he wisely and mercifully.

 

Therefore, O Cross to be wondered at,

 

we do not value you

40

because of the intention of their cruel folly,

 

but according to the working of mercy and wisdom.

 

*

 

In what way, then, shall I praise you,

 

how shall I exalt you,

 

with what love shall I pray to you,

45

and with what joy shall I glory in you?

 

By you hell is despoiled,

 

by you its mouth is stopped up to all the redeemed.

 

By you demons are made afraid and restrained,

 

conquered and trampled underfoot.

50

By you the world is renewed and made beautiful with truth,

 

governed by the light of righteousness.

 

By you sinful humanity is justified,

 

the condemned are saved,

 

the servants of sin and hell are set free,

55

the dead are raised to life.

 

By you the blessed city in heaven

 

is restored and made perfect.

 

By you God, the Son of God willed for our sakes

 

‘to become obedient to the Father, even unto death’,

60

because of which he is exalted and has received

 

‘the name which is above every name’.

 

By you ‘his throne is prepared’ and his kingdom established.

 

*

 

O Cross, chosen and prepared for such ineffable good,

 

the work that was accomplished on you exalts you more

65

than all the praises of human or angelic thought and tongue.

 

In you and through you is my life and my salvation;

 

in you and through you is the whole and all my good;

 

‘forbid that I should glory save in you’.

 

For why was I conceived and born, and given life,

70

if afterwards I am to descend to hell?

 

If that is to be my fate it were better for me

 

if I had never been conceived.

 

And it is certain that it would have been so

 

if I had not been redeemed by you.

 

*

75

With what love shall I glory in you, O Cross,

 

when without you

 

there would be nothing for me to glory in,

 

and in eternity I should have the grief and misery of hell.

 

With what delight will I rejoice in you,

80

when by you the servitude of hell which I inherited

 

is exchanged for the kingdom of heaven.

 

With what jubilation shall I laud you,

 

when without you I faced that future

 

which horrifies me, even if it had lasted only a moment,

85

and through you I now expect to rejoice in eternity.

 

Though now I serve God between hope and fear,

 

I am sure that if I give thanks, love, and live to your glory,

 

through you I shall at last come to that good.

 

*

 

So let my glory be through you and in you;

90

let my true hope be through you and in you.

 

By you my sins are wiped out,

 

by you my soul is dead to its old life

 

and lives to the new life of righteousness.

 

I beseech you, wash me by baptism from the sins

95

in which I was conceived and born,

 

and cleanse me again from those that I committed

 

after I was reborn,

 

so that by you I may come to those good things

 

for which man was created,

100

by the might of the same Jesus Christ our Lord

 

who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

A Letter to Gundolf at Caen

(Letter 28, Schmitt, vol. 3, pp. 135–6)

To the monk Gundolf, from Brother Anselm, who is Gundolf’s Anselm.

There is no need for me to say much about how long our friendship has lasted, to one who I know is my other self in the bond of love. Let me say this briefly about us – my love for you has never diminished by any change in me from its first beginning, and I am careful that alteration shall always serve only to increase it.

A certain brother asked me, not once but many times, if I would compose a prayer to the great St Mary. What he asks me in person here you also urge upon me in your absence. For I realized that if I did do this, I could also send it to you, so I have been more ready to agree to what he asked. I composed one prayer, as I was asked to do, but I was not satisfied, knowing what had been asked, so I started again and composed another. I was not satisfied with that either, so have done a third which at last is all right.

So accept them, for they have been made with you in mind, and do not blame me for their length, which was made at the request of someone else. And would that they might be so long that, before whoever was reading them – or better still, meditating on them, since that is what they are meant for – came to the end, he might be pierced by contrition or by love, through which we reach a concern for heavenly things. You will find that I have divided the prayers up into paragraphs to prevent you from becoming bored, so that you can begin to read at any place you like.

5. Prayer to St Mary (1)

when the mind is weighed down with heaviness

 

Mary, holy Mary,

 

among the holy ones the most holy after God.

 

Mother with virginity to be wondered at,

 

Virgin with fertility to be cherished,

5

you bore the Son of the most High,

 

and brought forth the Saviour of the lost human race.

 

Lady, shining before all others with such sanctity,

 

pre-eminent with such dignity,

 

it is very sure that you are not least in power and in honour.

10

Life-bearer, mother of salvation,

 

shrine of goodness and mercy,

 

I long to come before you in my misery,

 

sick with the sickness of vice,

 

in pain from the wounds of crimes,

15

putrid with the ulcers of sin.

 

However near I am to death, I reach out to you,

 

and I long to ask that by your powerful merits

 

and your loving prayers,

 

you will deign to heal me.

20

Good Lady,

 

a huge dullness is between you and me,

 

so that I am scarcely aware of the extent of my sickness.

 

I am so filthy and stinking

 

that I am afraid you will turn your merciful face from me.

25

So I look to you to convert me,

 

but I am held back by despair,

 

and even my lips are shut against prayer.

 

*

 

My sins, my wicked deeds,

 

since you have destroyed my soul with your poison,

30

why do you make it a horror with your filth,

 

so that no one can look on my misery?

 

If your weight is so great that I have no hope of being heard,

 

why by your shame do you block the voice of my prayer?

 

If you have made me mad with love for you,

35

why have you made my senses unfeeling with your torpor?

 

Alas, what a shameful thing is the filth of sin

 

before the brightness of holiness.

 

Alas, what confusion there is for an impure conscience

 

in the presence of shining purity.

 

*

40

You are blessed above all women,

 

in purity surpassing the angels,

 

in goodness overpassing the saints.

 

Already dying I long to be seen by such kindness,

 

but I blush before the gaze of such purity.

45

What I want to ask you, Lady, is

 

that by a glance from your mercy

 

you will cure the sickness and ulcers of my sins,

 

but before you I am confounded

 

by the smell and foulness of them.

50

I shudder, Lady, to show you all my foul state,

 

lest it makes you shudder at the sight of me,

 

but, alas for me, I cannot be seen any other way.

 

*

 

How disturbed and confused is the state of sin!

 

How my sins tear my heart in pieces and divide it,

55

gnaw at it and torment it.

 

Because of these sins of mine, Lady,

 

I desire to come to you and be cured,

 

but I flee from you for fear of being cursed.

 

My sins cannot be cured unless they are confessed,

60

but to acknowledge them throws me into confusion.

 

If they are concealed they cannot be healed,

 

if they are seen they are detestable.

 

They chafe me with sorrow, they terrify me with fear,

65

they bury me with their weight, they press upon me heavily,

 

and confound me with shame.

 

*

 

Mary, powerful in goodness, and good in power,

 

from whom was born the fount of mercy,

 

I pray you, do not withhold such true mercy

 

where you know there is such true misery.

70

The brightness of your holiness

 

confounds the darkness of my sins,

 

but surely you will not blush to feel kindness

 

towards such a wretch?

 

If I acknowledge my iniquity,

75

surely you will not refuse to show kindness?

 

If my misery is too great to be heard favourably,

 

surely your mercy will be less than it ought to be?

 

Lady, before God and before you my sins appear vile;

 

and therefore so much the more do they need

80

his healing and your help.

 

Most gentle Lady, heal my weakness,

 

and you will be taking away the filth that offends you.

 

Most kind Lady, take away my sickness,

 

and you will not experience the dirt you shudder at.

85

Most dear Lady, do not let what grieves you be,

 

and there will be nothing to defile your holiness.

 

Hear me, Lady,

 

and make whole the soul of a sinner who is your servant,

 

by virtue of the blessed fruit of your womb,

90

who sits at the right hand of his almighty Father

 

and is praised and glorified above all for ever. Amen.

6. Prayer to St Mary (2)

when the mind is anxious with fear

 

Virgin venerated throughout the world,

 

Mother dear to the human race,

 

Woman, marvel of the angels,

 

Mary, most holy.

5

By your blessed virginity you have made all integrity sacred,

 

and by your glorious child-bearing

 

you have brought salvation to all fruitfulness.

 

Great Lady,

 

to you the joyous company of the saints gives thanks;

10

to you the fearful crowd of the accused flee;

 

and to you, Lady of might and mercy,

 

I flee, a sinner every way, beyond measure distressed.

 

*

 

Lady, it seems to me as if I were already

 

before the all-powerful justice of the stern judge

15

facing the intolerable vehemence of his wrath,

 

while hanging over me is the enormity of my sins,

 

and the huge torments they deserve.

 

Most gentle Lady,

 

whose intercession should I implore

20

when I am troubled with horror, and shake with fear,

 

but hers, whose womb embraced

 

the reconciliation of the world?

 

Whence should I most surely hope for help quickly in need,

 

but from her whence I know came the world’s propitiation?

25

Who can more easily gain pardon for the accused

 

by her intercession,

 

than she who gave milk to him

 

who justly punishes or mercifully pardons all and each one?

 

Most blessed Lady, it is not possible for you to forget

30

that those merits which are so specially yours

 

are very necessary to us.

 

Most gentle Lady, it is not credible that you should not pity

 

such pitiable suppliants.

 

Well the world knows,

35

and we sinners do not in any way hide it from the world,

 

we know well enough, Lady, who is ‘the son of man’,

 

and to what sons of men ‘he came

 

to seek that which was lost’.

 

Lady, mother of my hope,

40

surely you will not forget in hatred of me

 

what you so mercifully brought into the world,

 

so happily revealed and lovingly embraced?

 

The son of man in his goodness came

 

of his own free will to save that which was lost;

45

how can the mother of God not care

 

when the lost cry to her?

 

The son of man came to ‘call sinners to repentance’ –

 

how can the mother of God despise

 

the prayers of the repentant?

50

The good God, the gentle man,

 

the merciful son of God, the good son of man,

 

came to seek the sinner who had strayed;

 

and will you, good mother of the man,

 

mighty mother of God,

55

repel wretches who pray to you?

 

*

 

O human virgin,

 

of you was born a human God, to save human sinners,

 

and see, before both son and mother

 

is a human sinner, penitent and confessing,

60

groaning and praying.

 

I beg you both,

 

good Lord and good Lady, dear son and dear mother,

 

by this truth which is the only hope of sinners,

 

that you will be her son and you will be his mother

65

to save this sinner.

 

Thus, thus let this sinner be absolved and cared for,

 

healed and saved.

 

In this he shows himself to be your sinner,

 

as indeed he is,

70

for he knows you to be both son and mother

 

for the salvation of sinners.

 

Indeed I am the sinner who belongs to you both.

 

*

 

When I have sinned against the son,

 

I have alienated the mother,

75

nor can I offend the mother without hurting the son.

 

What will you do, then, sinner?

 

Where will you flee?

 

Who can reconcile me to the son if the mother is my enemy,

 

or who will make my peace with the mother

80

if I have angered the son?

 

Surely if I have offended you both equally

 

you will both also be merciful?

 

So the accused flees from the just God

 

to the good mother of the merciful God.

85

The accused finds refuge from the mother he has offended

 

in the good son of the kind mother.

 

The accused is carried from one to the other

 

and throws himself between

 

the good son and the good mother.

 

*

90

Dear Lord, spare the servant of your mother;

 

dear Lady, spare the servant of your son.

 

Good son, make your servant’s peace with your mother;

 

good mother, reconcile your son to your servant.

 

When I throw myself between two

95

of such unbounded goodness

 

I shall not fall under the severity of their power.

 

Good son, good mother,

 

do not let me confess this truth about you in vain,

 

lest I blush for hoping in your goodness.

100

I love the truth I confess about you,

 

and I beg for that goodness which I hope for from you.

 

*

 

Tell me, judge of the world, whom you will spare,

 

tell me, reconciler of the world, whom you will reconcile,

 

if you, Lord, condemn, and you, Lady, turn away

105

your goodness and love from this little man

 

who confesses his sin with sorrow?

 

Saviour of each one, tell me whom you will save,

 

mother of salvation, tell me for whom you will pray,

 

if it is by your command, Lord,.

110

and with your consent, Lady,

 

that torments vex the sinner

 

who blames himself and prays to you,

 

that hell absorbs the prisoner

 

who accuses himself and entreats you,

115

that Tartarus devours the poor man

 

who despairs of himself and hopes in you.

 

*

 

God, who was made the son of a woman out of mercy;

 

woman, who was made mother of God out of mercy;

 

have mercy upon this wretch,

120

you forgiving, you interceding,

 

or show the unhappy man to whom he may flee for safety

 

and point out in whose power he may more certainly confide.

 

If it is – or rather because it is –

 

that my sin is so great and my faith so small,

125

so cool my love, so feeble my prayer,

 

so imperfect my satisfaction,

 

that I deserve neither the forgiveness of sins

 

nor the grace of salvation,

 

for this very reason I ask that in whatever way

130

you see that my merits are not sufficient for me,

 

there in your mercy you will not be found wanting.

 

So I ask you to hear me

 

by your own merits rather than mine,

 

so that by the goodness you pour forth

135

and the power in which you abound,

 

I may escape the sorrows of damnation which I deserve

 

and enter into the joy of the blessed

 

to praise you, God,

 

who are worthy to be praised and exalted for ever. Amen.

7. Prayer to St Mary (3)

to ask for her and Christ’s love

 

Mary, great Mary,

 

most blessed of all Marys,

 

greatest among all women,

 

great Lady, great beyond measure,

5

I long to love you with all my heart,

 

I want to praise you with my lips,

 

I desire to venerate you in my understanding,

 

I love to pray to you from my deepest being,

 

I commit myself wholly to your protection.

 

*

10

Heart of my soul, stir yourself up as much as ever you can

 

(if you can do anything at all),

 

and let all that is within me praise the good Mary has done,

 

love the blessing she has received,

 

wonder at her loftiness, and beseech her kindness;

15

for I need her defence daily,

 

and in my need I desire, implore, and beseech it,

 

and if it is not according to my desire,

 

at least let it be above, or rather contrary to, what I deserve.

 

*

 

Queen of angels, Lady of the world,

20

Mother of him who cleanses the world,

 

I confess that my heart is unclean,

 

and I am rightly ashamed to turn towards such cleanness,

 

but I turn towards it to be made clean

 

in order to come to it.

25

Mother of him who is the light of my heart,

 

nurse of him who is the strength of my soul,

 

I pray to you with my whole heart

 

to the extent of my powers.

 

Hear me, Lady, answer me, most mighty helper;

30

let this filth be washed from my mind,

 

let my darkness be illuminated, my lukewarmness blaze up,

 

my listlessness be stirred.

 

For in your blessed holiness you are exalted above all,

 

after the highest of all, your Son,

35

through your omnipotent Son, with your glorious Son,

 

by your blessed Son.

 

So as being above all after the Lord,

 

who is my God and my all, your Son,

 

in my heart I know and worship you,

40

love you and ask for your affection,

 

not because of my imperfect desires,

 

but because it belongs to your Son to make and to save,

 

to redeem and bring back to life.

 

*

 

Mother of the life of my soul,

45

nurse of the redeemer of my flesh,

 

who gave suck to the Saviour of my whole being –

 

but what am I saying?

 

My tongue fails me, for my love is not sufficient.

 

Lady, Lady, I am very anxious to thank you for so much,

50

but I cannot think of anything worthy to say to you,

 

and I am ashamed to offer you anything unworthy.

 

How can I speak worthily

 

of the mother of the Creator and Saviour,

 

by whose sanctity my sins are purged,

55

by whose integrity incorruptibility is given me,

 

by whose virginity my soul falls in love with its Lord

 

and is married to its God.

 

What can I worthily tell of the mother of my Lord and God

 

by whose fruitfulness I am redeemed from captivity,

60

by whose child-bearing

 

I am brought forth from eternal death,

 

by whose offspring I who was lost am restored,

 

and led back from my unhappy exile

 

to my blessed homeland.

 

*

65

‘Blessed among all women’,

 

all these things were given to me

 

by ‘the blessed fruit of your womb’

 

through his baptism of regeneration,

 

some in fact, others in hope;

70

yet by sinning I put it all away from me

 

so that now I have nothing and scarcely any hope.

 

What then?

 

If they vanished because of my guilt

 

surely I will not be ungrateful to her

75

by whom so many good things came to me?

 

Stop, lest I add iniquity upon iniquity!

 

I give great thanks for what I have had,

 

I weep for what I have not,

 

I pray so that I may have them again.

80

For I am sure that since through the Son

 

I could receive grace,

 

I can receive it again through the merits of the mother.

 

Therefore, Lady,

 

gateway of life, door of salvation,

85

way of reconciliation, approach to recovery,

 

I beg you by the salvation born of your fruitfulness,

 

see to it that my sins be pardoned

 

and the grace to live well be granted me,

 

and even to the end keep this your servant

90

under your protection.

 

*

 

Palace of universal propitiation,

 

cause of general reconciliation,

 

vase and temple of life and universal salvation:

 

I have made too little of your praises,

95

and in a little man like me it is especially vile

 

to belittle your merits.

 

For the world rejoices in your love

 

and so proclaims what you have done for it.

 

O Lady, to be wondered at for your unparalleled virginity;

100

to be venerated for a holiness beyond all reckoning –

 

you showed to the world its Lord and its God

 

whom it had not known.

 

You showed to the sight of all the world

 

its Creator whom it had not seen.

105

You gave birth to the restorer of the world

 

for whom the lost world longed.

 

You brought forth the world’s reconciliation,

 

which, in its guilt, it did not have before.

 

Through your fruitfulness, Lady,

110

the sinner is cleansed and justified,

 

the condemned is saved and the exile is restored.

 

Your offspring, Lady, redeemed the world from captivity,

 

made whole the sick, gave life to the dead.

 

The world was wrapped in darkness,

115

surrounded and oppressed by demons under which it lay,

 

but from you alone light was born into it,

 

which broke its bonds and trampled underfoot their power.

 

*

 

Heaven, stars, earth, waters, day and night,

 

and whatever was in the power or use of men was guilty;

120

they rejoice now, Lady, that they lost that glory,

 

for a new and ineffable grace

 

has been given them through you.

 

They are brought back to life and give thanks.

 

For all things were as if dead,

125

since they had lost that inborn dignity by virtue of which

 

they were ruled and used to the praise of God

 

for which they were made.

 

They were buried by oppression,

 

and tainted by being used in the service of idols

130

for which they were not made.

 

But see now, how they are raised to life, and praise the Lord,

 

for they are ruled by the power of those who confess God,

 

and are honoured by the use they put them to.

 

And now they bound with joy,

135

in a new and inestimable grace,

 

for they know the very God, the Creator,

 

not only ruling invisibly over them all

 

but visibly among them, sanctifying them by use.

 

So much good has come into the world

140

through the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb.

 

*

 

But, Lady, why do I only speak

 

of the benefits with which you fill the earth?

 

They go down to hell, they go up to heaven.

 

For through the fullness of your grace

145

those in hell rejoice that they are delivered,

 

and those in heaven are glad at that restoration.

 

By the glorious Son of your virginity,

 

all just men who died before his birth exult

 

that their captivity is broken down,

150

and the angels wish each other joy

 

in the rebuilding of their half-ruined city.

 

*

 

O woman, uniquely to be wondered at,

 

and to be wondered at for your uniqueness,

 

by you the elements are renewed, hell is redeemed,

155

demons are trampled down and men are saved,

 

even the fallen angels are restored to their place.

 

O woman full and overflowing with grace,

 

plenty flows from you

 

to make all creatures green again.

160

O virgin blessed and ever blessed,

 

whose blessing is upon all nature,

 

not only is the creature blessed by the Creator,

 

but the Creator is blessed by the creature too.

 

O highly exalted,

165

when the love of my heart tries to follow you,

 

whither do you escape the keenness of my sight?

 

O beautiful to gaze upon,

 

lovely to contemplate, delightful to love,

 

whither do you go to evade the breadth of my heart?

170

Lady, wait for the weakness of him who follows you;

 

do not hide yourself,

 

seeing the littleness of the soul that seeks you!

 

Have mercy, Lady,

 

upon the soul that pants after you with longing.

 

*

175

A thing to be wondered at –

 

at what a height do I behold the place of Mary!

 

Nothing equals Mary,

 

nothing but God is greater than Mary.

 

God gave his own Son, who alone from his heart

180

was born equal to him, loved as he loves himself, to Mary,

 

and of Mary was then born a Son

 

not another but the same one,

 

that naturally one might be the Son of God and of Mary.

 

All nature is created by God and God is born of Mary.

185

God created all things, and Mary gave birth to God.

 

God who made all things made himself of Mary,

 

and thus he refashioned everything he had made.

 

He who was able to make all things out of nothing

 

refused to remake it by force,

190

but first became the Son of Mary.

 

So God is the Father of all created things,

 

and Mary is the mother of all re-created things.

 

God is the Father of all that is established,

 

and Mary is the mother of all that is re-established.

195

For God gave birth to him by whom all things were made

 

and Mary brought forth him by whom all are saved.

 

God brought forth him without whom nothing is,

 

Mary bore him without whom nothing is good.

 

O truly, ‘the Lord is with you’,

200

to whom the Lord gave himself,

 

that all nature in you might be in him.

 

*

 

Mary, I beg you, by that grace

 

through which the Lord is with you

 

and you willed to be with him,

205

let your mercy be with me.

 

Let love for you always be with me,

 

and the care of me be always with you.

 

Let the cry of my need, as long as it persists,

 

be with you,

210

and the care of your goodness, as long as I need it,

 

be with me.

 

Let joy in your blessedness be always with me,

 

and compassion for my wretchedness, where I need it,

 

be with you.

 

*

215

O most blessed,

 

all that turns away from you, and that you oppose,

 

must needs be lost,

 

and equally it is not possible that whatever turns to you

 

and you regard with favour, should perish.

220

For just as, Lady, God begat him

 

in whom all things live,

 

so, O flower of virginity,

 

you bore him by whom the dead are raised up.

 

And as God through his Son

225

keeps the blessed angels from sin,

 

so, O glory of purity,

 

through your Son you save unhappy men who have sinned.

 

For just as in some way the Son of God

 

is the bliss of the just,

230

so in some way, O rich in saving grace,

 

your Son is the reconciliation of sinners.

 

For there is no reconciliation

 

except that which you conceived in chastity,

 

there is no salvation

235

except what you brought forth as a virgin.

 

Therefore, Lady,

 

you are mother of justifier and the justified,

 

bearer of reconciliation and the reconciled,

 

parent of salvation and of the saved.

 

*

240

Blessed assurance, safe refuge,

 

the mother of God is our mother.

 

The mother of him in whom alone we have hope,

 

whom alone we fear,

 

is our mother.

245

The mother of him who alone saves and condemns

 

is our mother.

 

*

 

You are blessed and exalted

 

not for yourself alone but for us too.

 

What great and loving thing is this

250

that I see coming to us through you?

 

Seeing it I rejoice, and hardly dare to speak of it.

 

For if you, Lady, are his mother,

 

surely then your sons are his brothers?

 

But who are the brothers and of whom?

255

Shall I speak out of the rejoicing of my heart,

 

or shall I be silent in case it is too high for me to mention?

 

But if I believe and love

 

why should I not confess it with praise?

 

So let me speak not out of pride but with thanksgiving.

 

*

260

For he was born of a mother to take our nature,

 

and to make us, by restoring our life, sons of his mother.

 

He invites us to confess ourselves his brethren.

 

So our judge is our brother,

 

the Saviour of the world is our brother,

265

and finally our God through Mary is our brother.

 

With what confidence then ought we to hope,

 

and thus consoled how can we fear,

 

when our salvation or damnation hangs on the will

 

of a good brother and a devoted mother?

270

With what affection should we love

 

this brother and this mother,

 

with what familiarity should we commit ourselves to them,

 

with what security may we flee to them!

 

For our good brother forgives us when we sin,

275

and turns away from us what our errors deserve,

 

he gives us what in penitence we ask.

 

The good mother prays and beseeches for us,

 

she asks and pleads that he may hear us favourably.

 

She pleads with the son on behalf of the sons,

280

the only-begotten for the adopted,

 

the lord for the servants.

 

The good son hears the mother on behalf of his brothers,

 

the only-begotten for those he has adopted,

 

the lord for those he has set free.

 

*

285

Mary, how much we owe you, Mother and Lady,

 

by whom we have such a brother!

 

What thanks and praise can we return to you?

 

Great Lord, our elder brother,

 

great Lady, our best of mothers,

290

teach my heart a sweet reverence in thinking of you.

 

You are good, and so are you;

 

you are gentle, and so are you.

 

Speak and give my soul the gift

 

of remembering you with love, delighting in you,

295

rejoicing in you, so that I may come to you.

 

Let me rise up to your love.

 

Desiring to be always with you, my heart is sick of love,

 

my soul melts in me, my flesh fails.

 

If only my inmost being might be on fire

300

with the sweet fervour of your love,

 

so that my outer being of flesh might wither away.

 

If only the spirit within me

 

might come close to the sweetness of your love,

 

so that the marrow of my body might be dried up.

 

*

305

Lord, son of my lady,

 

Lady, mother of my lord,

 

if I am not worthy of the bliss of your love,

 

certainly you are not unworthy of being so greatly loved.

 

So, most kind, do not refuse what I ask,

310

for though I confess I am not worthy of it,

 

you cannot worthily refuse it.

 

Give me not according to my deserts when I pray,

 

but something that will be worth your loving.

 

Give me, unworthy as I am,

315

something that I can worthily give back to you.

 

If you are not willing to give according to my desire,

 

at least do not refuse to give

 

what I ought to give back to you.

 

*

 

Perhaps I am presumptuous to speak,

320

but the goodness of you both makes me bold.

 

So I speak thus to my lord and my lady,

 

I, ‘who am dust and ashes’.

 

Lord and Lady, surely it is much better for you to give grace

 

to those who do not deserve it

325

han for you to exact what is owing to you in justice?

 

The first is praise-worthy, the other is wicked injustice.

 

Give us then your grace,

 

so that you may receive what is owing to you.

 

Show me your mercy,

330

for I need it and it is right for you to give it,

 

lest I act towards you unjustly,

 

which noone needs and is no good to anyone.

 

Be merciful to me because I ask it,

 

lest I be unjust towards you by whom I am cursed.

335

Kind Lord and Lady, do not make it difficult to pray to you,

 

but give my soul your love,

 

which not unjustly it asks and you justly expect it to ask,

 

lest I be ungrateful for your good gifts

 

because of that which in justice it shudders at

340

and you not unjustly punish.

 

*

 

Surely Jesus, Son of God, and Mary his mother,

 

you both want, and it is only right,

 

that whatever you love, we should love too.

 

So, good Son,

345

I ask you through the love you have for your mother,

 

that as she truly loves you and you her

 

you will grant that I may truly love her.

 

Good mother,

 

I ask you by the love you have for your Son,

350

that, as he truly loves you and you him,

 

you will grant that I may love him truly.

 

For see, I am asking what it is indeed your will to do,

 

for why does he not act as my sins deserve

 

when it is in his power?

355

Lover and ruler of mankind,

 

you could love those who accused you even to death,

 

and can you refuse, when you are asked,

 

those who love you and your mother?

 

Mother of our lover who carried him in her womb

360

and was willing to give him milk at her breast –

 

are you not able or are you unwilling to grant your love

 

to those who ask it?

 

*

 

So I venerate you both,

 

as far as my mind is worthy to do so;

365

I love you both,

 

as far as my heart is equal to it;

 

I prefer you both,

 

as much as my soul can;

 

and I serve you both,

370

as far as my flesh may.

 

And in this let my life be consummated

 

that for all eternity all my being may sing

 

‘Blessed be the Lord for ever. Amen.’

8. Prayer to St John the Baptist

 

St John:

 

you are that John who baptized God;

 

you were praised by an archangel

 

before you were begotten by your father;

5

you were full of God

 

before you were born of your mother;

 

you knew God before you knew the world;

 

you showed your mother the mother bearing God

 

before the mother who bore you within her

10

showed you the day.

 

It was of you that God said:

 

‘Among them that are born of women

 

there has not risen a greater’.

 

To you, sir, who are so great, holy and blessed,

15

comes a guilty, creeping thing,

 

a wretched little man

 

whose senses are almost dead with grief,

 

and, what grieves him even more, a sinner with a dead soul.

 

To you, so great a friend of God,

20

he comes, very fearful, doubtful of his salvation,

 

because he is sure of the greatness of his guilt,

 

but hoping in your greater grace;

 

for your grace, sir, is greater than my guilt;

 

what you are able to do before God

25

will more than blot out all my wickedness.

 

To you, then, sir,

 

whom grace has made such a friend of God,

 

to you, in my distress, I flee.

 

I, the accused of God through manifold iniquities,

30

worth nothing because of so much misery,

 

come to you whom grace has filled with blessedness.

 

Truly, sir, I admit this:

 

my sins have made me what I am,

 

but you have not made yourself what you are,

35

but the grace of God with you.

 

So remember, sir,

 

that as the grace of God made you so high,

 

so your mercy can raise him up

 

who is laid so low by his guilt.

40

Alas, what have I made of myself?

 

What was I, O God, as you had made me –

 

and how have I made myself again!

 

In sin I was conceived and born,

 

but you washed me and sanctified me;

45

and I have defiled myself still more.

 

Then I was born in sin of necessity,

 

but now I wallow in it of my own free will.

 

In sin I was conceived in ignorance,

 

but these sins I commit willingly, readily, and openly.

50

From them in mercy I was led forth by you;

 

to these miseries I have led myself.

 

I was redeemed from them by goodness,

 

and I have broken with that redemption by wickedness.

 

You healed, good God, a soul wounded in its first parents;

55

I, wicked man, have killed what was healed.

 

You set aside, merciful Lord, the old rags of original sin,

 

and clothed me in the garments of innocence,

 

promising me incorruptibility in the future;

 

and casting off what you had given me,

60

I busied myself with sordid sins;

 

despising what you had promised,

 

I chose rather the sorrows of eternal misery.

 

You had made the son of your wrath

 

into the son of your grace,

65

and I, contemptuous of that,

 

made myself the son of your hatred.

 

You refashioned your gracious image in me,

 

and I superimposed upon it the image that is hateful.

 

Alas, alas, how could I?

70

How could I, miserable and crazy little man that I am,

 

how could I superimpose that image

 

upon the image of God?

 

*

 

O why did I not blush to do that which I dread to speak of?

 

O why did I not loathe to imitate him

75

at whose name I shudder?

 

He fell because it was his lot to do so;

 

I chose to become vile.

 

Before him none had been punished for sin,

 

and he fell through pride;

80

but I, who had seen his punishment,

 

was contemptuous of it,

 

and rushed into sin.

 

He was created in innocence; I was restored to it.

 

He sinned against his maker;

85

I against him who made me, and re-made me.

 

He deserted God, and God let him go;

 

I fled from God, and God came with me.

 

He persisted in evil, cast off by God;

 

I ran headlong into the same evil,

90

when God was calling me back.

 

He hardened his heart when he was punished;

 

I hardened mine when I was kindly treated.

 

So we are both set against God:

 

he against him who does not want him;

95

I against him who died for me.

 

O wretched man that I am –

 

if indeed my humanity has not gone from me

 

where such huge malice closes in.

 

See – I shuddered at the horror of his appearance;

100

and I see myself in many ways more horrible than he.

 

*

 

Flee, flee,

 

you who are of I know not what horrible substance;

 

flee from yourself; be terribly afraid of yourself.

 

But, alas, you cannot flee from yourself,

105

nor can you look at yourself, because you cannot bear it.

 

For if you could bear it, without a horror of grief,

 

you would find your toleration intolerable.

 

Insofar as you can tolerate yourself

 

you are like the first sinner,

110

and thereby you are less tolerable to God,

 

for to tolerate yourself is not courage,

 

but the blunt edge of death;

 

it is not health, it is hardened sin;

 

it comes not from consolation but from damnation.

115

I cannot bear the interior horror of my face

 

without a huge groan in my heart.

 

So then, I cannot fly from myself,

 

nor can I look at myself, for I cannot bear myself.

 

*

 

But see, it is worse still if I do not look at myself;

120

for then I am deceived about myself.

 

O too heavy weight of anguish.

 

If I look within myself, I cannot bear myself;

 

if I do not look within myself, I do not know myself.

 

If I consider myself, what I see terrifies me;

125

if I do not consider myself, I fall to my damnation.

 

If I look at myself, it is an intolerable horror;

 

if I do not look at myself, death is unavoidable.

 

Evil here, worse there, ill on every side;

 

but there is too much evil here,

130

too much that is worse there,

 

too much ill on every side.

 

For he is very wretched whom his conscience torments,

 

when he cannot flee from it;

 

and even more wretched is he

135

who looks into his own damnation,

 

when he is not able to avoid it;

 

very unhappy is he who is horrible in his own eyes;

 

and more unhappy still will he be

 

when he undergoes eternal death.

140

Very wretched is he who is continually afraid

 

of the filthy horror of himself;

 

but more wretched still will he be

 

whom anguish will torture eternally because of his sins.

 

Evil here, and evil there;

145

too much here, and too much there.

 

*

 

To sin – how evil and bitter that is.

 

Sins – how easy to commit, how hard to give up.

 

Sinners – so misled by sins – are caught by their fetters.

 

Understand, O understand how evil and bitter it is

150

to have lost the Lord.

 

Sinner, turn back; refuse in your will to sin.

 

Refuse, I say, refuse.

 

It is evil and bitter – refuse.

 

*

 

Truly it is evil and bitter;

155

I am expert, in this I am expert indeed.

 

For either the sorrows of continual repentance

 

torture my life,

 

or eternal torments will vex my soul to punish it.

 

Both are evil, both are bitter,

160

and surely justly is the accused of God distressed

 

between evil and worse,

 

so much evil, among too, too much evil.

 

It is done justly, it is done rightly, my just judge;

 

but at least you are yourself

165

God, and Lord, and my Creator.

 

*

 

Take away, then, Creator,

 

take away so much evil from your creature;

 

if he is to give thanks that you made him;

 

Lord, snatch your servant away from so much evil,

170

if he is to rejoice to have you as his Lord.

 

Spare, God, spare your sinner,

 

if he is not to despair of your goodness.

 

For even if I have sinned more than the first sinner

 

I do not hate you as he does, nor detest your goodness.

 

*

175

Then, by the great merit of your Baptizer,

 

renew in me the grace of your baptizing.

 

Go before me with your grace; follow me with your mercy.

 

Give me back through the sorrow of penitence

 

what you had given through the sacrament of baptism.

180

Give to me who asks,

 

what you gave to him who knew you not.

 

Refashion the face that I have spoiled,

 

restore the innocence that I have violated.

 

You, Lord, were not involved in that sin

185

which you were born to bear.

 

Lord, take away the sin that I have contracted in living.

 

Take away, you who take away the sin of the world,

 

these which are sins of the world,

 

which I carry from living in the world.

190

Take away, you who take away the sin of the world,

 

by the merits of him who with that same word of witness

 

pointed you out to the world,

 

take away the sins that I have contracted in the world;

 

take from me whatever is not from you,

195

for I hate whatever is from me; and still I hope in you.

 

And you, St John,

 

who showed to the world

 

him who takes away the sin of the world,

 

by the grace given to you

200

gain for me that mercy to take away my sins.

 

*

 

You, God, take away the sin of the world,

 

and you, his friend, say,

 

‘Here is he who takes away the sin of the world.

 

Behold, before you,

205

him who is burdened with the sin of the world.’

 

You bear the sin – and you proclaim that he bears it.

 

Behold me, whose sin you bear as John proclaims.

 

Behold, healer, and the healer’s witness, here am I –

 

behold, the sick servant of the healer and his work

210

petitions here the healer and his witness.

 

True healer, I pray you heal me;

 

true witness, I beg you to pray for me.

 

Reconcile me to myself,

 

you by your action, you by your words.

215

Let me prove what I hear, let me experience what I believe.

 

Jesus, good Lord,

 

if you perform the work that he testifies of you,

 

John, revealer of God, if you witness to what he performs,

 

be it to me according to your word.

220

Lord, from whom comes healing, heal me.

 

Do this for me, Lord, since you are able to do it,

 

you are the great Lord,

 

and you, John, are ‘great in the sight of the Lord’.

 

You can do all things by your own nature;

225

you are very powerful before him.

 

You are the high and good God,

 

and you are the very good friend

 

of him who is in eternity the merciful and blessed God.

 

Amen.

9. Prayer to St Peter

 

Holy and most kind Peter,

 

faithful shepherd of the flock of God,

 

chief of the apostles,

 

prince among such mighty princes.

5

You are able to bind and loose as you will;

 

you are able to heal and raise up as you will;

 

you can give the kingdom of heaven to whom you will.

 

Great Peter,

 

rich with so many and such great gifts,

10

high in so many and such great dignities,

 

here am I,

 

the poorest and weakest of men,

 

surrounded by many difficulties and hardships.

 

In my misery I need the help of your power and kindness,

15

but I have no words to express my need as it really is,

 

and my love is not great enough to reach up

 

from such a depth as mine to such a height as yours.

 

*

 

Again and again I try

 

to shake the lethargy from my mind,

20

to prevent my thoughts

 

from being scattered among vanities,

 

but when I have gathered together all my strength

 

I am not able to break out of the shadows

 

of the torpor that holds me

25

because of the filth of my sins.

 

Nor do I have the strength

 

to remain for long of the same mind.

 

I am the most wretched of wretches.

 

It really is so, it is not pretence, it is true.

30

Who is there to help a wretch

 

who has not the strength to express his trouble in words

 

or show the sorrow of his heart?

 

*

 

O great Peter,

 

if the cry of my trouble does not come up as far as you,

35

let the care of your goodness come down as far as me!

 

Shatter my hardness, shine on my darkness,

 

look upon my wretchedness!

 

Have a care, kind shepherd,

 

for the lamb of the flock committed unto you,

40

and have mercy on the misery in which he toils.

 

Do not make demands according to his wickedness,

 

but make allowance according to his prayer.

 

*

 

See now, the sickly sheep,

 

lies groaning at the shepherd’s feet;

45

he comes before the Lord of the shepherd and the sheep.

 

The runaway returns

 

and asks forgiveness for his errors and disobedience.

 

He shows to the good and healing shepherd

 

the gashes of wounds, and the bites of wolves,

50

which he ran into when he strayed,

 

and the neglected sore places

 

that he has had for a long time.

 

He begs him to have mercy while there is still life in him,

 

and he prays more by showing his need

55

to the merciful shepherd

 

than by any beseeching.

 

*

 

Peter, good shepherd,

 

do not be difficult of access;

 

do not turn away your merciful eyes.

60

Have a care, I pray you,

 

lest you throw down the penitent,

 

and delay to hear a suppliant.

 

Because his soul loathes the life-giving pasture,

 

he grows weak for lack of strength;

65

because he indulges in what is unhealthy,

 

he attracts tormenting diseases.

 

Full-grown ulcers, open wounds, putrid decay,

 

draw him swiftly to death.

 

Wolves have tasted his blood and now they lie in ambush,

70

watching, and plotting his overthrow.

 

His enemy, ‘as a roaring lion’, goes about seeking him,

 

so that he ‘may devour him’.

 

Faithful shepherd, look upon him,

 

and recognize that he has been committed to you.

75

He may have strayed but at least it is not he

 

who has denied his Lord and Shepherd.

 

Consider his appearance

 

and see the sign of your Lord and his.

 

If, under so much filth, you do not recognize

80

a face washed and made white at the font of Christ,

 

see at least that he confesses the name of Christ.

 

Remember that Christ asked you three times

 

if you loved him,

 

and when three times you confessed it

85

he said to you, ‘Feed my sheep’.

 

He is indeed a lover of the sheep

 

who thus sifts the love of the shepherd

 

before committing them to him.

 

When you had confessed that you loved him,

90

then he confided his sheep to you.

 

How, then, can his shepherd spurn his sheep?

 

Peter, shepherd of Christ,

 

gather up the lamb of Christ.

 

Your Lord sought and found him,

95

and bore him on his shoulders, rejoicing;

 

do not repel him now he comes back and prays.

 

The Lord bought him with his own blood

 

before he was born;

 

Christ’s shepherd should not value him lightly

100

now he is reborn

 

and so diligently commended to him.

 

Alas, how long shall I not know

 

that I am received, healed, and cherished?

 

*

 

St Peter,

105

if the names shepherd and sheep do not move you,

 

prince of the apostles, let the name of apostle

 

and the name of a Christian soul, do so.

 

The sheep I am offering you

 

is my soul reborn by baptism in Christ.

110

Those wounds of which I spoke, those ulcers, those weals,

 

are not in the flesh of a sheep but in a rational being.

 

This hunger, this lack of strength, these sufferings,

 

are not in the belly of a sheep but in a human soul.

 

These wolves and lions are not animals but demons;

115

these ills come from poverty in virtue and heaped up sins.

 

*

 

I do not feel that I have yet obtained a favourable hearing,

 

so with urgent anguish

 

I will repeat my story from the beginning,

 

and begin my prayers over again.

120

To the door-keeper of the kingdom of heaven,

 

the prince of the apostles,

 

I will show a faithful soul, unhappy in the kingdom of sin,

 

longing for the kingdom of heaven;

 

and in this way I will call upon Peter,

125

door-keeper of heaven, prince of the apostles.

 

*

 

In your presence, merciful Peter,

 

I show you my soul, the strength of its virtue dissolved,

 

bound by the chains of sin,

 

weighed down by a burden of vices,

130

stinking and dirty with misdeeds,

 

torn by the wounds of devils,

 

festering and filthy with the ulcers of crimes.

 

By these and other grave ills, which you see better than I,

 

I am destitute, oppressed, surrounded,

135

overwhelmed, and relieved of all good.

 

See, here is a soul needing mercy,

 

and here is the merciful apostle Peter

 

before the God of mercy,

 

who had mercy upon the apostle Peter

140

and taught him what to do and gave him power to do it.

 

See, here is misery, and there is mercy,

 

the mercy of God and his apostle Peter,

 

and a soul in misery, confiding in God, and calling upon

 

God and his apostle Peter.

145

This soul, weighed down for so long by its misery,

 

looks towards God and Peter;

 

will it see now the mercy of God and of Peter?

 

*

 

O God, and you his greatest apostle,

 

is this misery of mine so huge

150

that it cannot be met by the wideness of your mercy?

 

Or if it can, but will not,

 

what is the enormity of my guilt

 

that exceeds the multitude of your mercies?

 

Is it that I have not confessed the whole of my sin?

155

Truly, I have confessed all that I know of my sins.

 

Or is it because I do not make amends

 

by sufficient penitence?

 

Or because the good in me does not equal the bad?

 

I acknowledge that all this is true,

160

but this is the very misery by which I am tormented.

 

Is it true, then, that the more I am oppressed by misery,

 

the more mercy will tarry?

 

That is an unheard-of word from one who is merciful

 

to one who prays.

 

*

165

And yet, just God,

 

I understand what reply you make to my soul:

 

I deserve to suffer

 

because I have sinned of my own free will,

 

I do not deserve to be heard because I have disobeyed.

170

Ah, how bitter it is to be without hope!

 

That, surely, is the sentence of justice, not of mercy,

 

and who calls on justice in my cause?

 

My talk was of mercy, not of justice.

 

In the wretched tribulation of my soul

175

I beg of you, my God, the bread of mercy;

 

why do you press the stone of justice into my mouth?

 

Let your mercy, merciful God,

 

and the intercession of your dear apostle, blessed Peter,

 

hasten to free me, my sins being forgiven.

180

St Peter, prince of the apostles,

 

by the mercy shown you and the power given you,

 

loose my chains, heal my wounds.

 

Free me from the misery of the kingdom of sin,

 

and lead me into the bliss of the kingdom of heaven,

185

where rejoicing with you

 

I may give thanks and praise God for ever. Amen.

10. Prayer to St Paul

 

St Paul, great Paul:

 

one of the great apostles of God.

 

You followed after all the rest in time,

 

but you surpassed them in labours and in effect

5

in the husbandry of God.

 

While you were still weighed down by the flesh

 

you were rapt ‘even to the third heaven’,

 

and heard ‘things that cannot be said by men’.

 

Among Christians you were like a nurse

10

who not only cared for her sons,

 

but in some way brought them forth a second time,

 

with careful and marvellous tenderness.

 

You were ‘made all things to all men’

 

so that ‘you might gain all’.

15

Sir, you are known to the world

 

by these and many other words and deeds

 

to be of great power before God

 

and of immense pity towards men:

 

to you I come, certainly a very great sinner

20

and greatly accused before God,

 

the powerful and strict judge.

 

Not by one, nor by a few am I accused,

 

but by innumerable offences;

 

not by small ones, but by those that are very great;

25

not in doubt, but quite certainly;

 

not by a short accusation, but by one that is long as life,

 

not by one accuser, but by as many as know my sins.

 

For the judge himself is my stern accuser

 

and I am clearly a sinner against him.

30

Moreover all spirits, good and evil, accuse me

 

in the presence of God.

 

The good because they owe justice to God;

 

the evil because they serve my injustice.

 

The good, because they bear witness

35

to the truth that they look to;

 

the evil, because they seek my punishment

 

which they look for.

 

They both judge my iniquity in this,

 

because they know that according to justice

40

I deserve to be damned.

 

Alas, how many judges, how many accusers

 

over one miserable man!

 

Alas, how hard they are on a fool,

 

how closely they look into what is manifest.

45

Alas, who will make excuse for him whom God accuses?

 

Or which one will be an intercessor for him,

 

if all are his accusers and judges?

 

*

 

But even more since I know my guilt,

 

I will be my own accuser and judge.

50

For I confess that I have sinned more than enough

 

and therefore deserve a heavy condemnation.

 

Even that which is irrational and insensible condemns me,

 

if I am not insensitive.

 

For I understand that I ought to blush

55

before the face of all creatures,

 

for I have sinned against him

 

who had the power to make them

 

and the goodness to will to do so.

 

And I am condemned by myself, too,

60

for I also was made by him.

 

Alas, whence have so many and so great evils poured in,

 

that so rush down upon a wretch?

 

*

 

My evil sins, it is from you that all these ills flow into me.

 

You encourage those who would make accusation;

65

You discourage those that would make excuse.

 

You lead on the ones who condemn;

 

you shut out those who intercede.

 

You call forth vengeance;

 

you turn away pardon.

70

You lead me on by your enticements to fear and confusion;

 

you tear away from me hope and consolation;

 

you push me on to eternal ruin;

 

you keep away from me all help;

 

and to increase my wretched state

75

you add this crowning unhappiness –

 

that while it is all true, yet it does not seem so to me.

 

*

 

In fact, if I did see the reality

 

I should not feel it or be moved by it.

 

Reason teaches this, but my heart does not grieve.

80

I see this because it is so,

 

and alas that I do not dissolve entirely in tears

 

because it is so.

 

If only I could do that, perhaps I might hope;

 

hoping, I might pray;

85

praying, I might obtain.

 

When truly, because of my wretchedness,

 

feeling and grief are not in me,

 

how can I hope?

 

Without hope, how can I pray?

90

And without prayer, what can I obtain?

 

*

 

Unhappy little man that I am!

 

What has become of my prayer?

 

Where have my hope and faith vanished to?

 

I began to pray with the hope of rashness,

95

and despair soon made me understand

 

the truth of my state;

 

my prayer itself slackened

 

because I could not hope in the goodness of anyone.

 

For if whatever is just is against me,

100

whose goodness is with me?

 

If all things that are right are turned against me,

 

who in pity will turn towards me?

 

If Creator and creatures rightly look down on me,

 

who will turn his gaze towards me?

105

Unhappy sinner, if this is so, nothing is left to you

 

except to be inert about hope and silent about prayer,

 

and thus always to lie down in your misery.

 

Since of your own accord you have made yourself wretched,

 

in justice it is right that you should always be wretched.

 

*

110

Is it thus, unhappy sins, that you keep your promises?

 

When you drew me on, you promised sweetness;

 

when it was done, and I was in your power,

 

you filled me with bitterness.

 

When you were persuading, you were gentle with me;

115

when you had persuaded, you stabbed my soul to death.

 

When you called me into your trap you showed me

 

that it was easy to get out by the grief of penitence;

 

in fact, when I rushed in headlong I fell and was buried.

 

Buried, I was blinded; blinded, I was hardened;

120

when I was hardened, all ways out were closed against me.

 

And thus, the wretch you have deceived and captured

 

you make fast in despair,

 

to be silent and lie insensible,

 

as if lost to God and forgetting God,

125

until he is sold to the merchants of hell,

 

who collect their merchandise in the lake of death.

 

All this you have done to me;

 

I am expert in all these matters,

 

even if I am not yet handed over to those merchants.

130

That is both what I expect at last in my miserable fear

 

and what they wait for with wicked delight.

 

Alas, how evil it is to despair and to be silent like this;

 

and alas, how vain it is to cry out without hope,

 

to strive without hope.

 

*

135

God, whose goodness is not exhausted,

 

whose mercy is not emptied out,

 

whose knowledge does not fail,

 

whose power can effect what you will;

 

whence shall I ever be able to get back life,

140

who have thus been driven desperate by my sins?

 

For if you are angry against sinners,

 

at least, kind Lord, you are accustomed to give counsel

 

to those who plead with you.

 

Teach me, O Lord, whence I ought to hope,

145

so that I can pray.

 

For I long to pray to you;

 

but I neither know how because of my ignorance,

 

nor am I able to because of my hardness.

 

And I am forbidden to do it by despair because of my sins.

150

I seek for something that will excuse me,

 

and there is nothing that does not accuse me.

 

I seek for someone who will pray for me,

 

and I find whatever exists is against me.

 

I seek for someone to have mercy upon a wretch,

155

and all that has being opposes the wretch.

 

*

 

Jesus, good Lord,

 

why did you come down from heaven,

 

what did you do in the world,

 

to what end did you give yourself over to death,

160

unless it was that you might save sinners?

 

St Paul, what did you teach

 

when you were passing through the world?

 

God, and his apostles, and you most of all,

 

invite us sinners to faith;

165

you show us this as our only safe refuge.

 

How then should I not hope, if I believe this,

 

and ask in this faith?

 

How can this hope be frustrated in me,

 

if that faith does not fail me

170

from which it was born?

 

*

 

Jesus, God, and you his apostle,

 

I, a sinner, believe in this faith by your command;

 

on this I throw myself;

 

indeed I have already thrown myself.

175

Thus clothed I have access to you when I pray.

 

In this faith I ask, I seek, I knock,

 

that you may both have mercy upon a sinner,

 

that you, Lord, may spare, and you, Paul, may intercede;

 

you save and you pray.

180

Before you both I wrap myself in this faith,

 

so that I may be hidden

 

from those who would search out my sins

 

and exact their deserts,

 

and from your buffeting, O God, my stern judge.

185

A sinner asks by your counsel to be concealed;

 

I beg you, do not reveal him, by your justice,

 

to damnation.

 

*

 

But alas, I fall into yet another heavy ill.

 

I thought to get hope through faith,

190

and lo, I see that I have no hold upon faith.

 

I had thought myself to be clothed in this faith,

 

and I know myself to be without it.

 

I was confident that I was concealed in it,

 

and I know myself to be far from it.

195

For ‘faith without works is dead’;

 

in truth, dead faith is not faith.

 

He then who has dead faith has no faith.

 

Alas, the fertility of evil works forbids me to have hope;

 

and sterility of good works proves me to be without faith.

200

Alas, the evil I have done!

 

Alas, the good I have neglected to do!

 

For if it is necessary that by evil works

 

God should be displeased;

 

then it is impossible without faith,

205

which counts for nothing without good works,

 

to please God.

 

*

 

But if ‘the just man lives by faith’,

 

whoever has no faith is dead.

 

But those who are sterile in good are dead;

210

then how much more dead are those who are fertile in evil?

 

For if ‘the tree that does not bear good fruit’

 

is cut down, as being withered;

 

that which bears bad fruit will even more

 

be rooted up as evil.

215

For this is death, not of the flesh, but of the soul.

 

How great and how much worse it is to die that death

 

than to die the death of the flesh.

 

For at the last all who die in human flesh rise again;

 

but all who die in the spirit rise not.

220

And that death destroys more by taking away a life

 

that perhaps can never be restored

 

than when it takes away life because necessity demands it.

 

It is worse to cease from a life of righteousness,

 

through which one loses the life of bliss,

225

than to let go of this miserable bodily life.

 

Finally and much more miserably does he perish

 

who goes forth from the life of the spirit,

 

that, if it had been preserved,

 

could restore to the body a better life in place of the life lost,

230

and without which it were better not to have been born,

 

than he who only loses the life of the body,

 

without which nothing prevents the soul from being blessed.

 

I live this unhappy life,

 

I am dead to that life of blessedness.

235

I live in that which is vile to me,

 

and I am dead to that which is better.

 

I am more dead than alive,

 

and I am worse dead than I shall be when I die in the flesh;

 

for that death will not be evil to me

240

unless the other precede it.

 

*

 

St Paul, I came to you as a sinner to be reconciled,

 

and lo, when I am in your presence

 

I find that I am a dead man to be raised.

 

I came as one accused, in need of an intercessor,

245

and I find rather that I am a dead man

 

needing to be restored to life.

 

As a wretch I came, and I find I am the most wretched of all.

 

I came to you as one living and accused;

 

and lo, before you I am dead and condemned.

250

Even if I am not yet handed over

 

to the torments of eternal death,

 

even now I am abandoned to the spiritual death

 

that draws to the other.

 

Even if it is not yet permitted that I be thrust down

255

into the prison of tortures,

 

already I am confined in a trap of sins.

 

For however much up till now

 

I may not have been buried in hell,

 

I am even now wound in the grave-clothes of sin.

 

*

260

Certainly neither could I pray, nor did I know how.

 

This was true, because I understood

 

that I was cursed by all things,

 

and I did not grieve, as if unfeeling.

 

I knew through my rational nature,

265

but I did not understand;

 

death had made me insensitive.

 

Indeed I was dead, and as a dead man I have come to you;

 

it is only now that I have realized that I am dead.

 

*

 

O God, who will pray for such a dead man?

270

St Paul, I have carried him before you;

 

do not turn him away;

 

pray on his behalf.

 

Lord, Elijah and Elisha brought the dead to life.

 

They joined themselves to the dead limbs

275

and brought the living from death.

 

Lord, these came to life by the living touching the dead,

 

and the dead only came to life to your glory.

 

Sir, you once said yourself that you ‘were made all things

 

to all men, that you might gain all’.

280

Friend of God, the example of others makes me bold,

 

your words draw me to have confidence.

 

So I say, ‘Sir, sir, come down upon this dead man;

 

stretch yourself upon this dead man;

 

make yourself not dead, but like the dead man.

285

Let the caress of your compassionate touch

 

make the dead man warm;

 

let the working of your power revive the dead man,

 

that the dead man may live to glorify God and you.’

 

*

 

Sir, you are not powerless to raise the dead,

290

for by the witness of God

 

the ‘grace of God is sufficient for you’.

 

For if when you lived on earth it was sufficient for you,

 

now that you stay in heaven

 

it will not be insufficient for you.

295

Why, sir, should what is offered to you

 

be any longer cast down,

 

dead without life,

 

when God attests your power

 

and you could attest his goodness?

300

Lord God, you said to Paul, ‘My grace is sufficient for you’.

 

St Paul, you said, ‘I can do all things’;

 

and see, the effect of your words is that this dead man

 

waits for this hope to be realized.

 

You have spoken, and hearing you the dead man hopes.

305

You have promised, and the dead man desires to pray.

 

You have spoken and by you it will be accomplished.

 

I beg you, let me experience the granting of that

 

which the world rejoices to have known through you.

 

If you do not refuse to speak,

310

why do you refuse to grant what is asked?

 

Or is there anyone to whom the dead man can more safely

 

be carried to be brought back to life,

 

if when he is offered to you, he is brought back dead?

 

To whom will you send him if you send him away?

315

Whither shall he go if he is sent away from you?

 

O God, who can bring back to life if God does not?

 

From whom shall he receive back the life he has lost

 

if not from him from whom he first received it?

 

In whom is there hope if there is no hope in God?

320

St Paul, who will be good to the poor and sorrowful

 

if he who promised to be weak with the weak be hard?

 

Who will deign to pray for sinners if he disdains it

 

who proclaimed himself to be made all things to all men?

 

Or who will be heard if he is not heard,

325

to whom the grace of God is sufficient?

 

If goodness and power are deficient in him,

 

in whom is the grace of God sufficient?

 

*

 

O you two, what will move you if all this does not?

 

Who will take up that which I offer you

330

to excite your mercy if you do not?

 

Dead soul, what can you show about yourself

 

that is not sinful and wretched?

 

Yet I pray, repenting and grieving.

 

*

 

O, if he who came from heaven to call sinners to repentance,

335

and he who after him in this same thing

 

laboured more than all,

 

if these condemn a penitent soul because a sinner,

 

if he who came from the Father’s heart to carry our sorrows,

 

and he who called himself weak with the weak,

340

if they despise sorrow because it is wretched,

 

if he who gave himself over to death

 

that dead souls might live,

 

and he who asserted that he was made all things to all men,

 

if they reject this prayer because it is dead –

345

let it not be so, God, let it not be so.

 

Keep that away, let it not be so.

 

If it is so, compassion has perished,

 

If it is so, pity is dead.

 

*

 

O soul, thrown backward and forward –

350

when you sin you are thrown forward,

 

when you pray you are thrown back,

 

whither shall you turn?

 

Turn yourself to importunity.

 

To be importuned by one who suffers, this is what they seek.

355

They love those who lament unceasingly before them.

 

Then do you seek this,

 

and show this to them without flagging.

 

*

 

O St Paul, where is he that was called

 

the nurse of the faithful, caressing his sons?

360

Who is that affectionate mother who declares everywhere

 

that she is in labour for her sons?

 

Sweet nurse, sweet mother,

 

who are the sons you are in labour with, and nurse,

 

but those whom by teaching the faith of Christ

365

you bear and instruct?

 

Or who is a Christian after your teaching

 

who is not born into the faith and established in it by you?

 

And if in that blessed faith we are born

 

and nursed by other apostles also,

370

it is most of all by you,

 

for you have laboured and done more than them all in this;

 

so if they are our mothers, you are our greatest mother.

 

*

 

So then, St Paul, your son is this dead man.

 

Mother, this dead man is certainly your son.

375

Dear mother, recognize your son

 

by the voice of his confession;

 

he recognizes his mother by her loving compassion.

 

Recognize your son by his confession of Christianity;

 

he recognizes his mother by the sweetness of goodness.

380

O mother, you who again give birth to your sons,

 

offer your dead son again, to be raised up by him

 

who by his death gives life to his servants.

 

O mother, offer your son to him

 

who by his death, which was not owing,

385

called back his condemned ones

 

from the death that was their due;

 

that he may call back to him the life he has lost.

 

By baptism he was led out of death;

 

by barrenness and corruption he is led back into death.

390

O mother, well known for your love,

 

your son knows the heart of a mother’s goodness.

 

Show him to God,

 

you who have brought him back to life

 

and cared for him living.

395

Pray to him for your son, who is his servant;

 

pray to him for his servant, who is your son.

 

*

 

And you, Jesus, are you not also a mother?

 

Are you not the mother who, like a hen,

 

gathers her chickens under her wings?

400

Truly, Lord, you are a mother;

 

for both they who are in labour

 

and they who are brought forth

 

are accepted by you.

 

You have died more than they, that they may labour to bear.

405

It is by your death that they have been born,

 

for if you had not been in labour,

 

you could not have borne death;

 

and if you had not died, you would not have brought forth.

 

For, longing to bear sons into life,

410

you tasted of death,

 

and by dying you begot them.

 

You did this in your own self,

 

your servants by your commands and help.

 

You as the author, they as the ministers.

415

So you, Lord God, are the great mother.

 

*

 

Then both of you are mothers.

 

Even if you are fathers, you are also mothers.

 

For you have brought it about that those born to death

 

should be reborn to life –

420

you by your own act, you by his power.

 

Therefore you are fathers by your effect

 

and mothers by your affection.

 

Fathers by your authority, mothers by your kindness.

 

Fathers by your teaching, mothers by your mercy.

425

Then you, Lord, are a mother,

 

and you, Paul, are a mother too.

 

If in quantity of affection you are unequal,

 

yet in quality you are not unalike.

 

Though in the greatness of your kindness

430

you are not co-equal,

 

yet in will you are of one heart.

 

Although you have not equal fullness of mercy,

 

yet in intention you are not unequal.

 

*

 

Why should I be silent about what you have said?

435

Why should I conceal what you have revealed?

 

Why should I hide what you have done?

 

You have revealed yourselves as mothers;

 

I know myself to be a son.

 

I give thanks that you brought me forth as a son

440

when you made me a Christian:

 

you, Lord, by yourself, you, Paul, through him;

 

you by the doctrine you made,

 

you by the doctrine breathed into you.

 

You by the grace you have granted to me,

445

you by the grace you accepted from him.

 

Paul, my mother, Christ bore you also;

 

so place your dead son at the feet of Christ, your mother,

 

because he also is Christ’s son.

 

Rather, throw him into the heart of Christ’s goodness,

450

for Christ is even more his mother.

 

Pray that he will give life to a dead son,

 

who is not so much yours as his.

 

St Paul, pray for your son, because you are his mother,

 

that the Lord, who is his mother too,

455

may give life to his son.

 

Do, mother of my soul,

 

what the mother of my flesh would do.

 

At least, if I may hope, I may pray as much as I can;

 

nor cease until I obtain what I can.

460

Certainly, if you will, you need not despair;

 

and if you pray, you are able to obtain.

 

Ask then, that this dead soul which you brought to life,

 

may be restored to life,

 

nor cease until he is given back to you, living.

 

*

465

And you, my soul, dead in yourself,

 

run under the wings of Jesus your mother

 

and lament your griefs under his feathers.

 

Ask that your wounds may be healed

 

and that, comforted, you may live again.

 

*

470

Christ, my mother,

 

you gather your chickens under your wings;

 

this dead chicken of yours puts himself under those wings.

 

For by your gentleness the badly frightened are comforted,

 

by your sweet smell the despairing are revived,

475

your warmth gives life to the dead,

 

your touch justifies sinners.

 

Mother, know again your dead son,

 

both by the sign of your cross and the voice of his confession.

 

Warm your chicken, give life to your dead man,

480

justify your sinner.

 

Let your terrified one be consoled by you;

 

despairing of himself, let him be comforted by you;

 

and in your whole and unceasing grace

 

let him be refashioned by you.

485

For from you flows consolation for sinners;

 

to you be blessing for ages and ages. Amen.

11. Prayer to St John the Evangelist (1)

by a man fearful of damnation

 

Holy and blessed John,

 

chief of the evangelists of God,

 

best beloved of the apostles of God.

 

You were pre-eminent in the love of God

5

among so many who were eminently loved,

 

so that outstanding love

 

was your characteristic sign amongst them all.

 

John, who reclined familiarly

 

on the glorious breast of the Most High;

10

God gave you to his mother as her son in place of himself

 

when he left her at bodily death.

 

To you, blessed one, so loving and so loved of God,

 

this little man who is accused of God

 

appeals with prayers,

15

so that by the intercession of one so loved

 

he may turn from himself the threat of the wrath of God.

 

For, sir, because of his sins he needs must

 

seek someone to intervene for him,

 

and he runs to that well-known friendship of yours

20

with him whom he fears as an avenger.

 

I know, sir, what power you have

 

through that same friendship

 

by which you can do what you wish before God.

 

I hope in your goodness,

25

for you will not turn away from a sinner

 

who calls to you in anguish.

 

I turn to you, although I am so dull,

 

yet with all the love of my heart,

 

and I presume to ask your powerful intercession

30

for my sinful soul,

 

so that you may draw it back from those torments

 

to which it is being drawn away

 

by evils of every kind.

 

*

 

But alas for my wretched state,

35

how my sins cry out against me!

 

For lo, when I try to find comfort

 

in your friendship with God,

 

I am compelled to hold back from that very friendship

 

because of my sin against God.

40

Beloved of God,

 

because I have sinned against your beloved,

 

I am certain that I have deserved your hatred also.

 

O immoderate offence, offence against God,

 

that offends not only him,

45

but also those who are able to intercede before him.

 

Indeed an offence against God deserves to be hated

 

by the friends of God,

 

and not only by his friends,

 

but by himself and all his creatures.

50

Sins, sins, the more considered,

 

the more horrible you become!

 

Where are you carrying him away to, whither do you take

 

this miserable little man whom you have seduced?

 

Where does he fall to, where will he be cast down to,

55

this unhappy soul who follows you?

 

What does he lose, I say, what hardships does he endure,

 

who is forced away by your malice from the love of God

 

to which he could hold by innocence,

 

to become abhorred of God and all his creatures?

 

*

60

If sins draw down upon themselves

 

such universal execration

 

for those whom they drag away from God,

 

where can he hide himself, to whom can he show himself,

 

this little man weighed down by the pack of his sins

65

which he is not able to put off,

 

with horrible and stinking wounds and sores of his sins

 

which he is not able to heal?

 

It is such a one that appeals to you, John, beloved of God.

 

Such is my soul that appeals openly to you.

70

No – rather, this is my misery,

 

that I am on such friendly terms with the world,

 

and weighed down by so many sins,

 

that I have made myself an enemy of God.

 

*

 

Alas, that is a name abhorred by all things,

75

the name of ‘enemy of God’!

 

How evil draws it to me, how justly it is imputed to me!

 

Alas, the truth of the matter convicts me

 

as an enemy of God,

 

but a great horror prevents me from avowing it.

80

Alas, I have provoked God and all things to vengeance,

 

and there is nothing left that is not offended

 

to intercede for me.

 

Grief, sorrow, groans, sighs,

 

where are you present if here you are absent?

85

Where are you fervent if here you are tepid?

 

Let my limbs be wrenched apart by torments,

 

let my inside be consumed with dryness,

 

let there be uproar in my inmost being,

 

if only he will look upon my misery with compassion!

90

O you compassionate friends of God,

 

have compassion upon one so needy,

 

by that same compassion that God had towards you!

 

Come to my help,

 

lest the wrath of God overwhelm me with his enemies!

95

I refuse, I detest, I loathe, being or being called

 

an enemy of God,

 

although I confess that I have sinned against him.

 

If only someone would help me!

 

*

 

John, that disciple whom Jesus loved,

100

if you will acknowledge that as your title,

 

I will pray to you by that same love:

 

I acknowledge my great need of your help.

 

John, John,

 

if you are that disciple whom Jesus loved,

105

I pray you, by that very thing,

 

let me, by your prayers,

 

be that sinner whom Jesus forgives.

 

If that glorious breast

 

was a familiar place for you to lean upon,

110

I ask that through you it may become to me

 

a place of salvation.

 

I confess, sir, beloved of God, that you are right to be angry

 

with one who has sinned against your beloved God,

 

but it is certain that the Lord will spare a suppliant servant

115

for the sake of his friend.

 

Therefore, O blessed John,

 

endowed with so much love before God,

 

his accused servant implores you to reconcile him to him.

 

Beloved of God, it is not contrary to the love of God

120

if you help one of his accused,

 

not by defending him, but by interceding for him.

 

I do not ask you to defend my iniquity,

 

nor do I want it defended,

 

but I make confession of it and seek for intervention.

125

Friend of God

 

do not count him God’s enemy or yours

 

who, with as much love as he can, confesses and believes

 

God to be your friend.

 

I believe and confess it,

130

and I want to love such a great love

 

as was granted you by God.

 

I ask you, by the grace that was given you,

 

turn away from me the hatred of God which is my due.

 

Do this, sir, for the sake of that love of yours.

135

Do this because I am his handiwork,

 

his servant, and his redeemed.

 

Do this therefore for his sake and in his presence,

 

lest what he has created be lost,

 

lest what he has redeemed perish.

140

Do this as you truly love his work,

 

and confess his blessed name.

 

*

 

Jesus, against whom I have grievously sinned,

 

Lord, whom I have wickedly despised,

 

Omnipotent God, whose anger I have stirred up by pride;

145

you are the lover of John, your blessed apostle,

 

and to him your terrified accused flees.

 

Your sinner, your offender, however great his wickedness,

 

however great his disgrace,

 

holds the name of your beloved

150

between him and the threatening sentence

 

of your just judgement.

 

By that blessed love spare him who seeks John’s protection.

 

Lord, by what name will you have mercy upon sinners

 

if you condemn someone who prays

155

by the name of your beloved?

 

Lord, under what cover is there protection,

 

if under the name of your beloved there is punishment?

 

Where is there refuge if with your beloved there is peril?

 

Lord, do not feel hatred for him who flees to your beloved.

160

Lord, Lord, do not let my iniquity avail for damnation

 

more than his grace avails for mercy!

 

Good Lord, do not let your hatred of me

 

mean the loss of the work of your hands,

 

but let your beloved avail

165

to spare the servant you have redeemed.

 

Most kind God, who ‘hatest nothing that you have made’,

 

behold what you have made and redeemed.

 

Why then will you damn him, Lord, who accuses himself

 

and calls upon you, if you do not hate him?

170

Do this then, Lord, on behalf of him whom you loved most

 

among your disciples,

 

so that you may not condemn me,

 

for you only are the Saviour,

 

may you be blessed for ever. Amen.

12. Prayer to St John the Evangelist (2)

to ask for the love of God and those near him.

 

St John,

 

one of the great apostles of God,

 

one of the great lords of the kingdom of God,

 

one of those who are very rich in love,

5

loving God, and loved by him,

 

the richest in love of those whom God loves.

 

John, wealthy with such blessed riches,

 

and rich with such blessed wealth.

 

See, here is a soul that is wretched but Christian,

10

poor, and in need of those riches with which you are rich.

 

Hungry, I plead at the gate of your clemency,

 

a beggar, I ask alms of your rich store.

 

Out of that which is able to satisfy you and many

 

without being diminished

15

at least share with me as much as will enable me to live.

 

Rich friend of God,

 

grant to the soul of a poor servant of God who loves you

 

from the wealthy store-room of your heart

 

that which is little to you but great to me,

20

easy to you, vital to me;

 

give me alms, that my Lord who has been pleased

 

to enrich you in order to make many rich

 

may deign through you to revive even this dying life.

 

My soul is poor, my lord, beloved of our Lord;

25

I am forced to confess it and I blush to do so.

 

It is poor in the love of God in both ways –

 

it loves God so much less than it ought,

 

and it has so much less of the love of God than it needs.

 

Of course, I confess that on the one hand I am most unjust

30

and on the other that God is just;

 

in both ways I know myself to be very wretched

 

in the just judgement of God.

 

*

 

Just and merciful God, when I say this,

 

I am not forgetting the many good gifts of your love

35

from the beginning of my creation,

 

nor am I ungrateful for them,

 

but my soul will always call itself poor and needy

 

until it is filled with your love in both ways.

 

Indeed that is in itself the best,

40

the most gracious of all your benefits to me,

 

that the sweet taste of you here has aroused desire in me,

 

so that ‘my soul refuses to be consoled’

 

except by your fullness.

 

It is not enough to pray for this

45

by the poor love of this sinner of yours;

 

to obtain this I call upon the merits of one

 

who loves you much and is loved by you.

 

Therefore you who are good with sweetness

 

and sweet with goodness,

50

from whom all good things do come,

 

make him favourable to me and you to him,

 

or rather may you both hear my entreaties,

 

so that through you both I may follow on

 

to be filled with the good that I desire.

55

Lord, I know and admit that I am not worthy of your love,

 

but surely you are not unworthy of my love?

 

Therefore grant to me, Lord,

 

by the merits of him from whom you have honour,

 

that I may be made worthy out of my unworthiness.

60

But he prays for me more powerfully,

 

for he is able to do more,

 

he whom you love, Lord Jesus.

 

Leaning on your dear heart he prays for me,

 

and there you hear my desire,

65

through him who is close to you.

 

*

 

St John, dear to Jesus Christ, my Lord,

 

the servant of your friend begs you,

 

according to the name of his Lord, your beloved,

 

to obtain for him that two-fold love of God.

70

Get for me, I beg you, grace

 

so that I may be worthy to love him

 

as I am loved by him.

 

For surely, friend of God, if he loves us because of you,

 

he will pay out mercy to us;

75

and if we love him through you,

 

he will repay that with grace.

 

Surely, sir, if you turn him to loving us,

 

you make us that much more your debtors,

 

and if you bring us near to loving him,

80

you yourself repay all our debt.

 

And surely, blessed John, however much you do

 

to make him love others,

 

there will be no less love for you;

 

and whatever you do to make others love him,

85

so much the more you repay that debt.

 

Then have mercy, sir, upon your suppliant,

 

so that I may be indebted to you for so much good

 

and you may restore to God a soul.

 

Do this, sir, I beseech you, do this,

90

for if you refuse, nothing but damnation will result;

 

but save your servant by your grace

 

that he may come to the glory of God.

 

*

 

Good and most dear disciple,

 

why should you, so rich, refuse one so poor,

95

you, so powerful, refuse this request

 

which brings evil to no one

 

and is liable to lead to so much good?

 

For if my sins stand in the way of that which I desire,

 

why do not your merits assist my prayers the more?

100

Are my sins potent for ill, and your merits impotent to help?

 

Let it not be so, sir, lest I be compelled to realize

 

that which I shudder even to say.

 

Why should my petition be refused

 

on account of my sins,

105

when I ask not trusting in my own deserts but yours?

 

Why, I say, when the merits that are offered to him

 

are greater than the sins that offend him?

 

For I am sure, sir, that if you will

 

your grace will count for so much before God who loves you

110

that he will forgive my sins

 

and by loving me he will make me his beloved.

 

*

 

So do this, blessed John,

 

so that he who loves you may also love me,

 

through the wideness of that love which you taught,

115

and which you have,

 

and by which you envy no one,

 

but rather wish that the good you rejoice in

 

may belong to all men.

 

Do this in exchange for the love that you owe him,

120

so that you may set free for him even my love with yours,

 

for you owe him not only your love

 

but that of many more.

 

Therefore, blessed John,

 

you are experienced in that blessedness of yours,

125

for just as no one is able to give to God

 

before he is in debt,

 

so no one can give back more than he is in debt for.

 

So however many love God, your lover, through you,

 

they will not be able to balance the debt.

130

I beg you, sir, do not reject one who asks

 

to be numbered among them.

 

Kindle love in my darkness and make me glow.

 

Help me to shine, hear my prayer.

 

*

 

Lord Jesus, by whom I long to be loved,

135

John, whose intercession I ask,

 

my desire constrains me thus

 

so that my heart desires to constrain you;

 

indeed not against your own will but of your own accord,

 

not unwillingly but willingly.

140

Therefore suffer me and spare me,

 

if what love plans, love may enforce.

 

Sustain me, I say,

 

because the love of the love of God constrains me.

 

Jesus and John,

145

I believe and know that you love each other,

 

but how can I experience this

 

if you do not grant what I ask of you both?

 

Jesus, how can I prove

 

your love for him, or for me, or my love for you both

150

unless through him you grant me what I long for –

 

to be loved of you and to love you?

 

John, how can I know that he loves you

 

if you do not grant me to be loved also?

 

Or that you love him

155

if you do not help me to love him too?

 

(Excuse my daring, beloved of God,

 

for it is this love of yours that urges me to speak so.)

 

*

 

So you, Lord God, and you, his beloved John,

 

do not love only yourselves in your blessedness,

160

but also us sinners in our misery.

 

We share your joy – do you share our sufferings.

 

Do not keep to yourselves the enjoyment of so much good,

 

but let some of it flow down to us

 

to be spread abroad among us,

165

and enrich and rejoice our souls.

 

*

 

John, lover and beloved of God,

 

you are secure in that blessed fullness of glory

 

which is your mutual love.

 

Behold this poor man,

170

a beggar for the two-fold love of God;

 

grant it to him liberally,

 

for you know you have it in great abundance

 

and you see me in great need.

 

You know, sir, what you yourself have written

175

in your Epistle

 

of whosoever has this world’s goods

 

and sees that his brother has need,

 

and shuts up his bowels of compassion to him;

 

what then, sir, if anyone has the goods of eternal life

180

and sees a soul near him have need?

 

Will he shut up his bowels of compassion to him?

 

Merciful teacher, if you have wished

 

that the bowels of compassion

 

of those that have this world’s goods

185

should not be shut to the needs of sufferers,

 

surely this is much more true

 

of those who have better goods,

 

to those whose need is even greater?

 

I hear you teach that we must open our hearts

190

and I see that you have the riches of loving God

 

and being loved by him,

 

and you see in what need my soul is.

 

Lo, here is the one who teaches this, and has this wealth,

 

in the presence of one who is in need,

195

and they gaze at each other.

 

If then, sir, your gaze has more good in it

 

than my prayer has devotion,

 

let your gaze become my prayer.

 

For you have not written

200

‘If any see his brother have need and praying,

 

and shuts his heart against him’,

 

but ‘If any sees his brother have need!’

 

Act, then, sir, seeing my need; for indeed you see just that.

 

*

 

O soul, my soul,

205

draw together all your love,

 

and bring it before him.

 

Cry, groan from the depths of your soul in his sight,

 

‘You see me’,

 

and a second time repeat the words with importunity,

210

‘You see me – see me!’

 

*

 

John, you see me; there is no doubt that you see me.

 

Then look on me!

 

Sir, see me, and know me,

 

look and have pity upon me!

215

You see and you know.

 

See in order that I may know it.

 

You see and know my need,

 

see that I may know your goodness.

 

Look, look on me, since you do see me!

220

At once I know, even now I experience that you see me.

 

I know, I experience it.

 

How my intellect charges me with what it hears.

 

I know well, sir, that you have ordained

 

that one should open one’s heart to one’s brother,

225

but whether I am that brother or that neighbour

 

I dare not assert though I long to be.

 

I do not want to claim that which is not right for me.

 

*

 

Jesus, John’s master, look on us.

 

Near to the waters my soul longs with thirst;

230

but there is nothing for it to drink

 

unless something flows from the fount.

 

Fount of mercy, flow from yourself through John

 

so that I may drink of you in him.

 

Good Lord, make answer on my behalf.

235

I go back to the fount itself, I can do no other.

 

Near to the fount of life no thirsting soul perishes.

 

Do not block the way of the thirsty to drink.

 

The one who is full of love hears your thought

 

and your thirsty one drinks your mercy through him.

240

Say to him, ‘John, who seems to you to have been neighbour

 

to him that fell among thieves?’

 

And, blessed John, do you answer

 

in the words the human race applied to the Samaritan

 

and give thanks to him –

245

reply, ‘He that had mercy upon him.’

 

Good Jesus, you have begun to help my prayer,

 

now into your hands I commend it,

 

so that your perfect goodness may perfect it.

 

Speak, I pray you, to your beloved John

250

to show him me, your servant,

 

and say to him, ‘Go and do thou likewise.’

 

*

 

Hope and rejoice,

 

rejoice and love, O my soul!

 

He whom so doubtfully you asked to hear you

255

himself prepares for you an intercessor.

 

As a beggar I prayed through another

 

because I had no confidence before him myself;

 

and lo, he himself takes care of me,

 

and prays where I myself failed.

260

What goodness, piety, and love!

 

See, he shows how much he loves me –

 

he comes near to me so that I may love him!

 

So I press on and I hope,

 

not in myself but in him,

265

for he listens to my desire who thus crowns my prayer.

 

‘My heart and my flesh’ rejoice in him and love him,

 

‘and all that is within me’ bless him. Amen.

A Letter from Anselm to the Princess Adelaide, Accompanying a Collection of Prayers and Selections from the Psalms

(Schmitt, vol. 3, Letter 10, pp. 113–4)

To the worthy and royal lady, Adelaide, who is noble by birth but more noble still by a holy life; greetings from her brother, Anselm. May you add to the lustre of your earthly nobility the glory of virtue, so that in everlasting bliss you may be united to the King of Kings.

I send herewith the ‘Flowers from the Psalms’ which from your high estate you deigned to command me to choose for you, for the love of God. I have executed the task, out of my low estate, as well and quickly as possible. Insofar as your order was a result of your devotion to God, just so far has my obedience been successful. I hope and pray that God Almighty will so preserve and nourish that same devotion in you, that on earth your heart may be filled with his dearest love and in heaven be fulfilled with the sight of his face. It is a poor and mean gift that I am sending to you who are rich and noble; do not despise it, coming from my poverty and insignificance. It is not encrusted with gold and jewels, but it has been made with loving faithfulness and it is given with faithful love.

After the ‘Flowers from the Psalms’ I have added seven prayers. The first of them is not so much a prayer as a meditation, in which briefly the soul shakes itself free from sin, despises it, is humbled by it, is troubled by fear of the Last Judgement and concludes by breaking out in tears and sighs. In the prayers proper, those to St Stephen and St Mary Magdalene tend more to the increase of love, if they are said from the depths of the heart and at a slow pace. And indeed in all seven I beg you, as your servant and loving friend, to give them your whole attention, and to do it as well as you are able, so that with humility of mind and the feeling of fear and love the sacrifice of prayer may be offered.

Farewell, now and in eternity, in God.

Farewell, and receive this little book which I am sending as a pledge of my faithfulness before God, with my prayers, for what they are worth.

At the end of my letter I add what I urge on you in them all: despise everything that will have to be left behind, even while you have it, with your whole mind set on things above; and strive only for that which can be kept for ever, as long as you have it not, with a humble mind. I pray the Holy Spirit to persuade you of all I want to urge upon you, in whom I say for the third time, farewell.

13. Prayer to St Stephen

 

Holy Stephen, blessed Stephen, loving Stephen,

 

mighty soldier of God,

 

first of the blessed army of the martyrs of God,

 

powerful prince, one of the great lords of heaven.

5

I call upon you, sir, with joy,

 

because I believe this of you:

 

when you were on earth

 

such light of holiness glowed within you

 

that your venerable face shone with the nobility of an angel,

10

for purity made your heart so clear

 

that your blessed eyes saw God in his glory;

 

and you were on fire with so much love

 

that in your goodness you prayed for the evil men

 

that surrounded you.

15

It was so, good Stephen, it was indeed so,

 

and I rejoice, praise, and exult that I know this of you.

 

For I am fearful,

 

knowing the wrath of the strict judge,

 

for I am a sinner, a prisoner deserving punishment,

20

and I need someone to help me.

 

In love and assurance I send you as my intercessor,

 

that you may make peace

 

between me and your powerful friend,

 

the Lord and Creator of both you and me.

25

For I am quite certain, sir,

 

that by your great merits you can do this,

 

and I am sure that out of your great charity you will do this.

 

I hope in the immense mercy of the Judge

 

that he will not refuse you.

30

So anxious and trembling I come to you for refuge

 

only too well aware that I am a sinner.

 

So, good Stephen, behold my wretchedness

 

and pour over it your love.

 

*

 

For see, the accused stands before the tremendous Judge.

35

He is accused of many and great offences.

 

He is convicted by the witness of his own conscience

 

and by the witness of the eyes of the Judge himself.

 

He has done no good deeds

 

that can be weighed against the bad ones.

40

He has not deserved to have a friend of the Judge

 

to act as his advocate because of some former service;

 

having offended everyone, he deserves to be accused.

 

Terrible is the severity of the Judge,

 

intolerably strict, for the offence against him is huge,

45

and he is exceedingly wrathful.

 

Once given, his sentence cannot be changed.

 

A prison with no remedy gapes;

 

in that prison lie great torments,

 

tormentors are ready, to snatch away to torment

50

those upon whom sentence of condemnation is given.

 

Torments without end, without interval, without respite,

 

horrible tortures which never slacken,

 

on which no one has pity.

 

Fear shakes the accused, his conscience confounds him,

55

thoughts beset him and he cannot flee.

 

Thus he stands,

 

with the heaviest of sentences hanging over him.

 

The wretch is in peril because of his distress

 

and in distress because of his peril.

60

See how much such a man is in need of swift aid!

 

Where now is the help of the one

 

who under the weight of stones

 

had pity on those who were stoning him?

 

He it is who will pray for him,

65

for he appeared before the severe Judge

 

to intercede for his murderers.

 

*

 

Stephen, Stephen,

 

indeed you are ‘Stephen’, for you are truly crowned!

 

Stephen, Stephen, I say:

70

here is a place for goodness, here is a time for mercy,

 

here at least is an opportunity to show charity!

 

For I stand continually in danger

 

although I do not always recognize this,

 

and I am the more miserable and wretched

75

when I forget that it is so.

 

For God always sees me and my sins,

 

always his severe judgement threatens

 

the sinfulness of my soul,

 

always hell gapes and its torments are ready

80

to snatch my wretched soul away to that place.

 

Thus am I placed when I wake, thus when I sleep;

 

I am thus when I smile, thus when I jest;

 

thus when I am proud, thus when I am humiliated;

 

thus when angry, thus when vindicated;

85

thus, thus I am when I miserably love

 

the delights of the flesh.

 

Thus am I then always and everywhere.

 

So I pray you, Stephen, make haste

 

before I am condemned,

90

before the enemies of the human race

 

snatch me away to torment,

 

before the prison of hell swallows me up,

 

before the torments of gehenna consume me.

 

*

 

But you, O my sins,

95

you are too great, you are too many,

 

and rightly is pardon refused to my soul.

 

It really is so, I acknowledge that it is so.

 

But however grave my unhappiness,

 

however bitter my need,

100

how much more wonderful will be

 

the goodness of him who forgives,

 

how much greater will appear

 

the grace of the one who intercedes

 

in the presence of the one who forgives!

105

I know well enough, sir, Stephen, beloved of God,

 

that in offending God

 

I have offended you also and all the saints.

 

Truly my need is great

 

when it impels me to ask for the help

110

even of those by whom I deserve to be punished.

 

But you and all the saints are so full of such wealth

 

from the unending fount of all goodness,

 

that you delight rather to free by your goodness

 

those whom by justice you are able to condemn.

 

*

115

Great Stephen,

 

your merits are so great

 

that they suffice for both you and for me,

 

and if they are used for me, they are not diminished for you.

 

See, blessed Stephen, before God and before you,

120

are all my sins

 

which terrify, distress, and weigh down my soul.

 

Do you, as a man of love, say to your best and dearest friend,

 

‘Lord, lay not these sins to his charge.’

 

Speak up for someone in need who asks it of you,

125

as you did for those who killed you.

 

If in your goodness and love you ask this, I am sure

 

the most loving God will remit the whole of my evil deeds.

 

For he is merciful and my creator,

 

I am wretched and his workmanship,

130

and you are the beloved friend of him who is

 

‘blessed for ever. Amen.’

 

*

 

When those who in their folly were your enemies

 

pressed upon you, O friend of God,

 

– this is what the truth of scripture testifies –

135

on your knees you cried with a loud voice,

 

‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.’

 

O heart, rich with the treasures of charity,

 

from which when it was afflicted

 

such copious mercy poured!

140

O mind, vehemently ablaze with love,

 

filled with the oil of charity,

 

from which when it was in tribulation such sparks shone,

 

sweetly burning and burning with sweetness!

 

O honeycomb, rich with the honey of love,

145

from which when it was pressed

 

such rich and joyous drops were distilled!

 

*

 

‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.’

 

Blessed man,

 

what hope you give to sinners who are your friends

150

when they hear that you were so concerned

 

about the wicked men who were your enemies!

 

Vessel of love, overflowing with fullness,

 

how richly will you give drink to those

 

who desire to hold you in their heart,

155

when you poured out so much

 

on those who cast you out of their city.

 

If you gave so much to your neighbours

 

who ran upon you, panting with fury,

 

how kindly will you deal with those

160

who run towards you, panting with fear?

 

*

 

‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.’

 

If this was the way he responded when he was provoked,

 

what will he do when he is invoked?

 

Now he is lifted up,

165

how will he cherish those who are cast down,

 

who, when he was cast down,

 

went to the help of those who thought themselves lifted up?

 

Now he is free and powerful

 

how swiftly will he free those who are afflicted,

170

if when he was afflicted he helped those who afflicted him?

 

They hastened to take away your life,

 

and you paid your creditors

 

by giving your life for their souls.

 

Stiff-necked, they raged furiously that you might perish,

175

and you on your knees prayed with a loud voice

 

that they might not perish.

 

Certainly you prayed with a great voice

 

for love is great,

 

and on your knees, for truth is simple.

180

Their pride vexed your humility with sharp stones,

 

and there came out a fragrant smell of charity.

 

Their hatred threw stones at your love,

 

and it gave back the ringing sound of goodness.

 

Their evil pressed stones on your goodness,

185

and the oil of mercy flowed out.

 

*

 

If only I could ever call forth by prayer

 

this oil of the love of Stephen

 

which they were able to force out with stones!

 

But my soul is weary with a very heavy languor

190

that nothing can heal except the oil of mercy.

 

If only someone would suggest to God

 

for me and all my sins,

 

that he ‘lay not these sins to his charge’.

 

Teach me, blessed soul of the blessed Stephen,

195

in what tasting you rejoice, in what fullness you burn,

 

when your heart ‘rejoices in such a good word’.

 

How sweet is your word in the jaws of my soul,

 

above honey and honeycomb in the mouth.

 

Eaten, it grows in sweetness,

200

and when that sweetest sap is sucked

 

it flows more and more within.

 

The more this word is seen, the brighter it looks.

 

In whatever way one examines it,

 

it always grows in delight.

205

It carries the form of faith, it has the solidity of patience,

 

it shines with the purity of simpleness,

 

it glows with the colour of kindness,

 

its taste is charity, its smell is goodness;

 

touched, it gives back gentleness;

210

sounded, it responds with mercy.

 

*

 

Then tell us, blessed Stephen,

 

what it was you cherished within you

 

that broke forth outwardly in such a sweet mixture?

 

Undoubtedly you were full of all these things,

215

you were adorned with and reckoned with all these things.

 

I ask you, loving Stephen, by all these virtues

 

in which you abounded,

 

to pray that ‘love, rich and full’ may ‘fill my hungry soul’.

 

Help me, so that my hungry soul

220

may be satisfied with the bread of love.

 

Do this, so that my frigid soul

 

may flame with the fire of love

 

in the presence of God its maker.

 

*

 

‘And having said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.’

225

Ah, he fell asleep!

 

Sleep with rest, rest with security, security with eternity.

 

Happy man, to rest in joy, and joy to rest.

 

Safe home, you are glorified in fullness

 

and you are filled with glory.

230

Your joy does not change, your light does not fail.

 

Whatever you could not do, being far away,

 

you can do now you are present to those who pray.

 

Your soul is ‘athirst for the fount of the living God’.

 

You have come to him

235

and you drink of the torrent of his pleasures,

 

as much as you want, whenever you want it,

 

and as long as you want it.

 

Always filled, always you drink,

 

because always you delight to drink,

240

and you are never wearied.

 

You do not drink to make yourself full,

 

as if you were not full,

 

but always you drink

 

so that the fullness you have may endure always.

245

For you always desire what you always have,

 

and what is always secured to you, you have always.

 

Of course you desire incessantly and delightfully

 

that delightful desire,

 

and always you drink with delighted ardour

250

what you desire, with the rich fullness of it.

 

O sufficient blessedness, and blessed sufficiency!

 

How happy to fall asleep, to fall asleep in the Lord.

 

In how much peace do they fall asleep

 

who fall asleep in the Lord.

255

For the heavy weight of the flesh does not oppress them,

 

nor do the sorrows of corruption afflict them.

 

They do not fight against the sting of temptation,

 

nor does the consciousness of sin terrify them.

 

‘God wipes away all tears from their eyes.’

 

*

260

O rich and blessed peace, how far I am from you!

 

For see, when I try even slightly

 

to savour the taste of alien happiness,

 

I am compelled to swallow in full measure

 

the bitter draught of my wretchedness.

265

The good that I cannot reach reminds me to be silent

 

and weep for the heavy evils that I suffer

 

and am able to touch.

 

Alas for my unhappiness, where I am not, where I am,

 

and alas that I know not where I shall be.

270

How miserably my soul is in discord

 

when it joins itself to my flesh;

 

the soul cannot follow the flesh without fear,

 

it dares not, nor does it want, to leave it without grief;

 

it wants to draw it after itself,

275

and cannot do so except with labour.

 

Unhappy man that I am,

 

who will free me from the body of this death?

 

*

 

I pray you, blessed Stephen,

 

have compassion on me for I am poor and in misery,

280

for I rejoice with you in your bliss that knows no lack.

 

Free me from the body of this death

 

by your merits by the grace of God

 

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

 

so that some day in peace and the self-same

285

I will be at rest and sleep in the Lord,

 

who lives and reigns, God, for all ages. Amen.

Letter to Prior Baldric and the other Brethren at Bec

(Schmitt, vol. 3, Letter 147, pp. 293–4)

Brother Anselm, to the Lord Prior Baldric and those who are brethren with him, in the desire that all may be well with you, within and without.

I am not yet able to tell you anything about the outcome of my journey to England on the business of the community, for the King still delays in answering my petition, however much he and the other English nobles show me love and honour.

The monk of the Lord Abbot Gislebert will be able to tell you more about my safety than a letter could. I hope you will receive him with kindness. I have no hope of returning any sooner than Lent. Send me letters with any news that you think I ought to know about.

Send me the prayer to St Nicholas which I composed, and the letter which I began against Roscelin, and any other letters of mine, if Dom Maurice has any he has not sent. Salute my mothers in the Lord, the Lady Eve and the Lady Basilia. Farewell.

14. Prayer to St Nicholas

 

Sinful little man, in such great need,

 

you have grieved God very much.

 

Stir up your mind,

 

look inwards at what really matters for you,

5

and call down pity upon your pitiable state.

 

My soul, be watchful; my wretchedness, rouse yourself;

 

my wickedness, call upon the God you have angered,

 

that he may by chance soften his regard towards you.

 

*

 

But he is Most High, and I am weak;

10

how can my voice reach up to him?

 

I will lift up my soul above myself,

 

that it may come before him who is above it,

 

perhaps he will hear me when I call.

 

But then he is Most Just, and I have greatly sinned;

15

how should he hear my cry?

 

I will enter into my inmost being,

 

exclude everything except him and myself,

 

and before him I will pour out my soul and all that is in me.

 

I will stir up my mind to grieve,

20

and with grieving love

 

I will spread out my hardship before him

 

and perhaps his great goodness may move him.

 

*

 

But my sins are without bounds or limits,

 

my prayer will not be heard,

25

all this is not enough without an intercessor.

 

I will pray to one of the great friends of God

 

and perhaps God will hear him on my behalf.

 

I will call upon Nicholas, that great confessor,

 

whose name is honoured throughout the world.

30

Nicholas!

 

If only he will hear me!

 

Great Nicholas!

 

*

 

But if God looks down on me, who will look up to me?

 

If God turns his face from me, who will look towards me?

35

If God hates me, who will dare speak on my behalf?

 

O God, ‘merciful and pitiful’,

 

do you indeed ward off one who would return to you,

 

so that you cannot bear to have mercy

 

upon one who cleaves to you?

40

Will you curse one who has grieved you so much

 

that you will not hear any of your friends on his behalf?

 

You are called ‘kind and merciful’

 

and ‘set above all malice’;

 

are you so inflamed against a penitent sinner

45

that you forget your own nature?

 

Either hear me yourself, or let someone else hear me

 

whom you will listen to on my behalf.

 

Lord, if it is my sins that hold you back from hearing me

 

you are within your rights,

50

but do not forbid another to hear a miserable suppliant,

 

because you are also good.

 

Kind Lord, your mercy goes beyond any understanding;

 

I feel this no less than I presume to hope it.

 

Your servant, created and re-created by your goodness,

55

has such confidence in you, Lord,

 

that when you accuse him

 

he dares to ask you for an intercessor.

 

For no one will pay attention to me, unless you order it,

 

nothing helps me without you,

60

and so I have a good hope that what you refuse me

 

on account of my sins,

 

you will grant me because of the merits of your friend.

 

Good Lord, do not show yourself to be an avenger

 

when I ask you for an intercessor,

65

for you do not give stones for bread,

 

a serpent for a fish, or for an egg a scorpion.

 

Give me then, Lord, Nicholas as my intercessor,

 

your great confessor whom you have glorified

 

with the name of blessed throughout the world.

 

*

70

St Nicholas, I pray to you through him

 

who has made your name venerated throughout the world;

 

do not refuse to help a needy suppliant.

 

Why, sir, are you called upon by all men in all the world

 

unless you are to be the advocate of all who pray to you?

75

Why does this sound in all ears,

 

‘My lord, St Nicholas’, ‘My lord, St Nicholas’,

 

unless it means,

 

‘My advocate, St Nicholas’, ‘My advocate, St Nicholas’?

 

Why is your name poured forth everywhere

80

except that the world may have

 

some great good poured into it?

 

Your fame calls to me,

 

your miracles send me to your intercession,

 

your works draw me to seek your help.

 

*

85

But why do I speak about your miracles,

 

when your power now is greater than them all?

 

Why do I recount what you have done,

 

when before God you now have supreme grace?

 

Why recount the help that you gave to many

90

when you are able to give spiritual help

 

now that you live in heaven,

 

of more value than the corporal help

 

that you gave during your pilgrimage upon earth?

 

For it is not as if you were able to do those things then

95

and can no longer do them.

 

No, I say, you could not have power only in those things

 

that come to nothing,

 

and be powerless in those that go on into eternity.

 

Indeed, you did not only accomplish the former,

100

you did not ascend merely that you might grant them.

 

Bestow upon us the spiritual things in which you glory,

 

the joys of eternity in which you rejoice,

 

pour upon us the heavenly things to which you have turned.

 

Through you we needy ones come to know that abundance

105

which you receive fully in a perpetual stream.

 

*

 

O your plenitude of goodness,

 

and my abundance of badness!

 

How far they are from each other!

 

How vehemently the first makes you happy,

110

how greatly does the latter make me unhappy.

 

The first comes down from the plenitude of God,

 

the latter goes up from the need of myself;

 

the first flows from the abundance of God,

 

the latter surges up from my poverty.

115

O if only that super-abundance would overflow

 

and flood into my abundant ills!

 

O if only that full plenitude would fill

 

the emptiness of my need!

 

I do not doubt, sir, that you can do this for me,

120

if you are willing to ask that much for me of my judge

 

who is your beloved friend.

 

*

 

Do not wait, sir, to hear my importunities,

 

because you know my weakness

 

when praying for a long time.

125

I fall away quickly, but do you be more swift to help.

 

Certainly if my heart was contrite,

 

if my heart was moved within me,

 

if my soul was turned to water,

 

if rivers of tears flowed from my eyes,

130

then I might hope that Nicholas would hear my prayers.

 

Therefore, my lord, St Nicholas, stir up my spirit,

 

excite my heart,

 

move my mind to love according to my need,

 

so that I may feel the effect of your compassion

135

according to your power.

 

*

 

But, alas, how long my tepid soul languishes,

 

how hardened is my heart with stupor,

 

how buried in torpor is my spirit.

 

Holy Nicholas, what is it that thus holds me back?

140

What is it that seems to be constricting my neck?

 

Whence is it that my gaze is darkened?

 

Whence comes it that my horizon is thus closed in?

 

My soul wants, sir, to turn towards God and to you,

 

and it is weighed down in a curve by a heavy weight.

145

It desires to direct its gaze towards you,

 

and it is obscured by dark shadows.

 

It makes efforts to release itself,

 

but it is held in bonds of iron.

 

It tries to come out,

150

and it is held in a metal prison.

 

*

 

What are these things, O God, what are these things

 

which thus darken my soul, weigh it down,

 

enclose and bind it?

 

Perhaps these are my sins?

155

Yes, indeed they are my sins; certainly they are.

 

Fleshly love weakens the sap of the spirit within me;

 

attention to earthly things

 

bends my soul away from knowledge of things above;

 

earthly love extinguishes in me delight in heavenly things.

160

The habit of vice has wiped away in me

 

the knowledge of true good.

 

I am far away from good, I am absorbed in evil.

 

I am excluded from those, I am included in these.

 

From those I have devolved, in these I am involved.

165

Here are darkness and chains,

 

there are shadows and weights.

 

My sins, for what end do you keep me in these chains,

 

in this prison, under this shadow and this weight?

 

For whom, unless for the strict judge,

170

and for your tortures and torments in eternity?

 

For what, if not for the prison of hell and eternal chains?

 

For what, if not for the darkness of perpetual night

 

and the weight of unending death?

 

Certainly these are the evils you keep me for,

175

this is the evil you are dragging me towards.

 

Certainly in these I will be involved

 

if before then I am not absolved.

 

Truly at that hour I will be their bond slave

 

if I am not set free from them earlier.

180

At any rate, the day is near, near I say, and yet unknown.

 

It comes suddenly and it may be today.

 

*

 

My sins, how can you be such an evil in the future,

 

when here and now you make my soul

 

drunk with your sweetness,

185

when you anoint my heart with your pleasures?

 

Why did you hide these things from me?

 

Why have you betrayed me?

 

In fact you have not betrayed me,

 

but I have betrayed myself by believing in you.

190

You did not deceive me, but I have deceived myself

 

because I have received you into myself.

 

O unheard-of insanity!

 

I knew there was no faith in you,

 

and yet I had faith in you.

195

Indeed I had no faith and I did not believe you,

 

but how horrible the way in which I saw this:

 

like a blind man I committed myself to you.

 

I saw, because I recognized you,

 

and I understood what evils come after you.

200

Yet I was blind,

 

because I did not guard against what I knew.

 

*

 

Alas! – sin; a name to be shuddered at,

 

a thing to be detested, no misfortune can be compared to it.

 

The blind man did not see the trench into which he fell,

205

the fool thought he ought to do what he did.

 

But he who sins willingly, seeing and knowing,

 

throws himself over a precipice.

 

Death and torments, however great such torments may be,

 

in them is no dishonour, because they are ordained.

210

But sin has in itself its own dishonour,

 

and brings with it eternal unhappiness.

 

For it were better to choose eternal torment,

 

which in itself does not bring eternal dishonour,

 

than sin, which joins dishonour to eternal sorrow.

215

And certainly, unhappy man,

 

you ought to avoid the dishonour of sin in itself,

 

more than whatever torments there are in eternity.

 

For in sinning, by a most dishonourable perversity,

 

you prefer yourself to God your Creator,

220

than which nothing is more unjust;

 

whereas in bearing torments,

 

according to a most perfect pattern,

 

the creature submits himself to the one who created him,

 

than which nothing is more just.

 

*

225

O man, where has your humanity vanished to?

 

You have been taught

 

that ‘whoever sins is the servant of sin’;

 

of what great evil are you the slave in committing sins?

 

Did you know

230

that ‘the spirit goes forth and does not return’?

 

You have thrown yourself into the abyss of sin,

 

which is irredeemable and bottomless.

 

Truly my sins are an abyss,

 

because their weight and depth cannot be understood,

235

and their number cannot be gauged or bounded.

 

That abyss cannot be redeemed

 

because out of its depths nothing returns

 

unless drawn out by grace,

 

and it is bottomless, because whoever sins willingly

240

merits to fall infinitely, if he is not held back by mercy.

 

*

 

‘Abyss calls to abyss.’

 

My sins, whatever torments you reserve for me are an abyss,

 

for they are infinite and incomprehensible.

 

Alas, prisons and chains,

245

darkness and the weight of sin, terrify me,

 

but I am made a slave to an evil

 

to which no other is comparable

 

and so I am drowned in an abyss,

 

and with this sorrowful servitude

250

I am buried in one abyss after another.

 

Woe upon woe; fear upon fear; sorrow upon sorrow.

 

*

 

Lo, there is a third abyss and that is yet more terrible.

 

‘The justice of God is very deep,’

 

and at the voice of the cataracts

255

my abyss calls to that abyss.

 

The cataracts are dark, the justice of God is dark.

 

Therefore abyss calls to abyss

 

in the voice of the cataracts of God,

 

where the abyss of sin meets the abyss of torment,

260

and they proclaim the justice of God.

 

If my sins were not an abyss, I would still fear greatly

 

the abyss of the great judgements of God,

 

for that is dark beyond human understanding.

 

*

 

Truly there is the abyss of the judgements of God,

265

the abyss of my sins,

 

and the abyss of torments that are my due.

 

The abyss of judgements above me,

 

the abyss of hell below me,

 

the abyss of the sin in which I am, and which is in me.

270

I fear that which threatens me from above,

 

lest it fall upon me,

 

so that I may be thrown into myself

 

and buried with my abyss in that which is revealed below,

 

where the torment of sin never ceases,

275

and sin is always torment.

 

*

 

Unhappy man that I am, against whom have I sinned,

 

to whom shall I reach out?

 

Whither shall I flee from God,

 

where can I be lost to him?

280

Who will seek me in the abyss of abysses?

 

Or who will look for the lost of God?

 

Who, outside the abyss of sin,

 

will hear the cry out of the deep?

 

*

 

But you, Lord, behold the depths.

285

Whither shall I go then from your spirit,

 

or where shall I flee from your presence?

 

Certainly, where I now am, you are not absent,

 

for when I descend into hell you are there.

 

And therefore if in my wickedness I flee from you

290

and hide myself in my abyss as one who is damned,

 

even there you behold me.

 

For who, except you, can move my soul to penitence,

 

and how could you move it,

 

if in the abyss you could not see it?

 

*

295

Good Lord,

 

you have roused and stirred me from the abyss of my sin

 

like one sleeping in a bed.

 

You have stirred up my torpor,

 

you have had a care to rouse my negligence,

300

you have made me repent of that which I rejoiced in,

 

and sorrow for that by which I was delighted.

 

You gave me counsel to ask for an intercessor,

 

you have shown me who he is to be.

 

Good God, you have done all this while I was in the abyss,

305

and do you not hear my cry out of the deep?

 

In all this you have gone before him who fled from you,

 

and will you not take him back when he wants to return

 

to perfect what you have begun?

 

Good Lord, thank you.

310

Truly you have sought out your lost one in the abyss,

 

and brought out him

 

whom you had driven there in fear because of his sin.

 

By the merits of St Nicholas, your beloved,

 

lead out from the abyss of sin

315

your lost one whom you have sought and found.

 

Do not lose your servant whom you have sought and found

 

in the abyss of hell, where no one is found.

 

I hear, Lord, that you order me to come forth,

 

but I cannot get out,

320

miserably bound and weighed down with so great a weight.

 

*

 

But, St Nicholas, why do I pray to God by your merits,

 

when you are in his presence and can do this better?

 

I pray you, sir, through his name,

 

do not turn away from one

325

whom he has already looked upon,

 

however much his accused slave he may be.

 

I ask you to plead for me in the presence of God,

 

I do not ask you to defend me, but to pray for me.

 

Before his face I cannot defend my sins;

330

I show them, not to excuse but to accuse.

 

I am the accused; I am under him,

 

and before him I am myself my accuser.

 

He who made me does not accuse me.

 

Alone I was sufficient for sinning,

335

alone I will be sufficient for accusing.

 

If he is Judge to pass sentence on his accused,

 

he is also Lord, to protect his servant,

 

Creator to watch over his handiwork,

 

and God, to save him who believes in him

340

and is his baptized.

 

For how will he judge that sinner to deserve condemnation,

 

who knows his wretched sins and is penitent?

 

Or how can he damn a sinner as an adversary,

 

when he grieves over his sin,

345

and flees to his friend as an intercessor?

 

*

 

God, in you have I trusted,

 

St Nicholas, to you I entrust my prayers,

 

upon you both I cast my care,

 

even on you I throw my soul.

350

This is what you exact from me,

 

you by your commands, you by your counsels.

 

Receive him who throws himself upon you both,

 

have him who is prostrate before you.

 

Keep me when I sleep, help me in whatever I do,

355

inspire me in whatever I think,

 

you, Lord, by your grace,

 

you, Nicholas, by your intercession;

 

you for the merits of your so loved confessor,

 

you according to the name of your and my Creator,

360

‘who is blessed for evermore’. Amen.

15. Prayer to St Benedict

 

Holy and blessed Benedict,

 

the grace of heaven has made you rich

 

with such full blessing of goodness

 

not only in order to raise you to the glory you desire,

5

to the rest of the blessed, to a seat in heaven,

 

but that many others be drawn to that same blessedness,

 

wondering at your life,

 

stirred by your kind admonitions,

 

instructed by your gentle doctrine,

10

called on by your miracles.

 

Benedict, blessed of God,

 

whom God has blessed with such wide benediction,

 

to you I flee, in anguish of soul.

 

I fling myself down before you

15

with all the humility of mind possible;

 

I pour forth my prayer to you

 

with all the fervour possible;

 

and implore your help with all the desire possible;

 

for my need is too great; I cannot bear it.

 

*

20

For I profess to lead a life

 

of continual turning to God,

 

as I promised by taking the name and habit of a monk;

 

but my long life cries out against me

 

and my conscience convicts me,

25

as a liar to God, to angels, and to men.

 

Holy Father Benedict

 

hear what I ask of you;

 

and I beg you not to be scandalized

 

by so many faults and such deceit,

30

but hear what I acknowledge before you,

 

and have more pity on my sorrows than I deserve.

 

*

 

At least, peerless leader

 

among the great leaders of the army of Christ,

 

you have pledged me to serve under your leadership,

35

however feeble a soldier;

 

you have placed me under your tutorship,

 

however ignorant a pupil;

 

I have vowed to live according to your Rule,

 

however carnal a monk.

40

My perverse heart is dry and as cold as a stone

 

when it comes to deploring the sins I have committed;

 

but when it comes to resisting occasions of sin

 

it is indeed pliant and soon defiled.

 

My depraved mind is swift and untiring

45

to study what is useless and vile;

 

but even to think of what is for its good

 

makes it weary and stupid.

 

My blind and distorted soul is swift and prompt

 

to throw itself into vices and wallow in them,

50

but how slowly and with what difficulty

 

do I even call to mind the virtues.

 

It would take too long, dearest Father,

 

to recall each thing separately.

 

It would be too long a story to tell

55

of all the gluttony, sloth, inconstancy, impatience,

 

vainglory, detraction, disobedience,

 

and all the other sins which my wretched soul commits,

 

deriding me each day.

 

Sometimes my sins drag me here and there,

60

mocking at this wretched and tattered little man;

 

and at other times they come in a mob

 

and trample me underfoot in triumph,

 

and triumph that they can trample me underfoot.

 

*

 

See then, blessed Benedict,

65

how bravely fights this soldier

 

who is under your leadership;

 

see how much progress your pupil is making

 

in your school;

 

see what a marvellous monk this is,

70

dead to sin and the desires of the flesh,

 

fervent and living only for virtue!

 

No, you see rather a false monk, lost to all virtue,

 

dominated by a crowd of vices,

 

burdened with a weight of sin.

 

*

75

For shame! Shameless monk that I am!

 

How dare I call myself a soldier of Christ

 

and a disciple of St Benedict?

 

False to my profession,

 

how have I the effrontery to let people see me

80

with the tonsure and habit of profession

 

when I do not live the life?

 

Alas, ‘anguish closes me in on every side,’

 

for if I deny my sovereign king,

 

my good teacher and my profession,

85

it is death to me;

 

but if I profess myself a soldier, scholar, monk,

 

my life argues that I am a liar

 

and I am judged thereby.

 

‘Faint within me, my spirit; be appalled, my heart;

90

break forth and cry, O my soul.’

 

*

 

Jesus, good Lord,

 

‘consider my affliction and my trouble

 

and forgive me all my sins.’

 

‘Hear, O Lord, do not cast me off or forsake me’,

95

but ‘lead me and help me to do your will’,

 

so that my life may attest

 

what my heart and mouth confess so freely.

 

‘Hear the voice of my prayer, my King and my God,’

 

by the merits and intercession of holy Benedict,

100

your dear friend, my master, and my leader.

 

*

 

And you, my good leader, my gentle master,

 

my dear father, blessed Benedict –

 

I pray and beseech you,

 

by the mercy you have shown to others

105

and by the mercy that God has shown to you,

 

have compassion on me in my misery,

 

for I rejoice with you in your bliss.

 

Help me! I beg you to be my protector.

 

Dig me out from the mass of sin that buries me,

110

free me from the ropes of sin that bind me,

 

loose me from the wickedness that entangles me.

 

Lift up him who is cast down, strengthen the wavering,

 

prepare the helpless with spiritual weapons of virtue,

 

lead and protect him who is fighting in the battle.

115

Bring me to the victory and lead me to the crown.

 

*

 

Do this, advocate of monks, of that charity

 

which you were so anxious for us to take

 

as our rule of life.

 

Make it your care that we may be sufficiently willing

120

and effectively able to do whatever we ought;

 

so that both you, on account of our discipleship,

 

and we, on account of your leadership,

 

may glory before the face of God

 

who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

16. Prayer to St Mary Magdalene

 

St Mary Magdalene,

 

you came with springing tears

 

to the spring of mercy, Christ;

 

from him your burning thirst was abundantly refreshed;

5

through him your sins were forgiven;

 

by him your bitter sorrow was consoled.

 

My dearest lady,

 

well you know by your own life

 

how a sinful soul can be reconciled with its creator,

10

what counsel a soul in misery needs,

 

what medicine will restore the sick to health.

 

It is enough for us to understand, dear friend of God,

 

to whom were ‘many sins forgiven, because she loved much’.

 

Most blessed lady,

15

I who am the most evil and sinful of men

 

do not recall your sins as a reproach,

 

but call upon the boundless mercy

 

by which they were blotted out.

 

This is my reassurance, so that I do not despair;

20

this is my longing, so that I shall not perish.

 

I say this of myself

 

miserably cast down into the depths of vice,

 

bowed down with the weight of crimes,

 

thrust down by my own hand into a dark prison of sins,

25

wrapped round with the shadows of darkness.

 

*

 

Therefore, since you are now with the chosen

 

because you are beloved

 

and are beloved because you are chosen of God,

 

I, in my misery, pray to you, in bliss;

30

in my darkness, I ask for light;

 

in my sins, redemption;

 

impure, I ask for purity.

 

Recall in loving kindness what you used to be,

 

how much you needed mercy,

35

and seek for me that same forgiving love

 

that you received when you were wanting it.

 

Ask urgently that I may have

 

the love that pierces the heart; tears that are humble;

 

desire for the homeland of heaven;

40

impatience with this earthly exile;

 

searing repentance; and a dread of torments in eternity.

 

Turn to my good that ready access

 

that you once had and still have to the spring of mercy.

 

Draw me to him where I may wash away my sins;

45

bring me to him who can slake my thirst;

 

pour over me those waters

 

that will make my dry places fresh.

 

You will not find it hard to gain all you desire

 

from so loving and so kind a Lord,

50

who is alive and reigns and is your friend.

 

*

 

For who can tell, belov’d and blest of God,

 

with what kind familiarity and familiar kindness

 

he himself replied on your behalf

 

to the calumnies of those who were against you?

55

How he defended you,

 

when the proud Pharisee was indignant,

 

how he excused you, when your sister complained,

 

how highly he praised your deed, when Judas begrudged it.

 

And, more than all this,

60

what can I say, how can I find words to tell,

 

about the burning love with which you sought him,

 

weeping at the sepulchre,

 

and wept for him in your seeking?

 

How he came, who can say how or with what kindness,

65

to comfort you, and made you burn with love still more;

 

how he hid from you when you wanted to see him,

 

and showed himself when you did not think to see him;

 

how he was there all the time you sought him,

 

and how he sought you when, seeking him, you wept.

 

*

70

But you, most holy Lord,

 

why do you ask her why she weeps?

 

Surely you can see;

 

her heart, the dear life of her soul, is cruelly slain.

 

O love to be wondered at;

75

O evil to be shuddered at;

 

you hung on the wood, pierced by iron nails,

 

stretched out like a thief for the mockery of wicked men;

 

and yet, ‘Woman,’ you say, ‘why are you weeping?’

 

She had not been able to prevent them from killing you,

80

but at least she longed to keep your body for a while

 

with ointments lest it decay.

 

No longer able to speak with you living,

 

at least she could mourn for you dead.

 

So, near to death and hating her own life,

85

she repeats in broken tones the words of life

 

which she had heard from the living.

 

And now, besides all this,

 

even the body which she was glad, in a way, to have kept,

 

she believes to have gone.

90

And can you ask her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’

 

Had she not reason to weep?

 

For she had seen with her own eyes –

 

if she could bear to look –

 

what cruel men cruelly did to you;

95

and now all that was left of you from their hands

 

she thinks she has lost.

 

All hope of you has fled,

 

for now she has not even your lifeless body

 

to remind her of you.

100

And someone asks,

 

‘Who are you looking for? Why are you weeping?’

 

You, her sole joy,

 

should be the last thus to increase her sorrow.

 

But you know it all well, and thus you wish it to be,

105

for only in such broken words and sighs

 

can she convey a cause of grief as great as hers.

 

The love you have inspired you do not ignore.

 

And indeed you know her well,

 

the gardener, who planted her soul in his garden.

110

What you plant, I think you also water.

 

Do you water, I wonder, or do you test her?

 

In fact, you are both watering and putting to the test.

 

*

 

But now, good Lord, gentle Master,

 

look upon your faithful servant and disciple,

115

so lately redeemed by your blood,

 

and see how she burns with anxiety, desiring you,

 

searching all round, questioning,

 

and what she longs for is nowhere found.

 

Nothing she sees can satisfy her,

120

since you whom alone she would behold, she sees not.

 

What then?

 

How long will my Lord leave his beloved to suffer thus?

 

Have you put off compassion

 

now you have put on in-corruption?

125

Did you let go of goodness

 

when you laid hold of immortality?

 

Let it not be so, Lord.

 

You will not despise us mortals

 

now you have made yourself immortal,

130

for you made yourself a mortal

 

in order to give us immortality.

 

*

 

And so it is; for love’s sake

 

he cannot bear her grief for long or go on hiding himself.

 

For the sweetness of love he shows himself

135

who would not for the bitterness of tears.

 

The Lord calls his servant by the name she has often heard

 

and the servant knows the voice of her own Lord.

 

I think, or rather I am sure,

 

that she responded to the gentle tone

140

with which he was accustomed to call, ‘Mary’.

 

What joy filled that voice, so gentle and full of love.

 

He could not have put it more simply and clearly:

 

‘I know who you are and what you want;

 

behold me;

145

do not weep, behold me;

 

I am he whom you seek.’

 

At once the tears are changed;

 

I do not believe that they stopped at once,

 

but where once they were wrung

150

from a heart broken and self-tormenting

 

they flow now from a heart exulting.

 

How different is, ‘Master!’

 

from ‘If you have taken him away, tell me’;

 

and, ‘They have taken away my Lord,

155

and I do not know where they have laid him,’

 

has a very different sound from,

 

‘I have seen the Lord, and he has spoken to me.’

 

*

 

But how should I, in misery and without love,

 

dare to describe the love of God

160

and the blessed friend of God?

 

Such a flavour of goodness will make my heart sick

 

if it has in itself nothing of that same virtue.

 

But in truth, you who are very truth, you know me well

 

and can testify that I write this for the love of your love,

165

my Lord, my most dear Jesus.

 

I want your love to burn in me as you command

 

so that I may desire to love you alone

 

and sacrifice to you a troubled spirit,

 

‘a broken and a contrite heart’.

170

Give me, O Lord, in this exile,

 

the bread of tears and sorrow

 

for which I hunger more than for any choice delights.

 

Hear me, for your love,

 

and for the dear merits of your beloved Mary,

175

and your blessed Mother, the greater Mary.

 

Redeemer, my good Jesus,

 

do not despise the prayers of one who has sinned against you

 

but strengthen the efforts of a weakling that loves you.

 

Shake my heart out of its indolence, Lord,

180

and in the ardour of your love

 

bring me to the everlasting sight of your glory

 

where with the Father and the Holy Spirit

 

you live and reign, God, for ever. Amen.

17. Prayer by a Bishop or Abbot to the Patron Saint of his Church

 

St N, Holy N, Blessed N,

 

one of the glorious apostles of God,

 

one of the blessed friends of God,

 

this sinner, this needy one, this one of yours,

5

although unworthy, although incapable,

 

although so unsuitable a substitute,

 

again and again comes back to you,

 

doubtful, ignorant, anxious about your people,

 

your congregation, and about his own peril.

10

Obviously I am a useless person,

 

adorned with no good works,

 

but darkened by a profound ignorance,

 

deformed by countless vices, burdened by huge sins.

 

I, I say, whom God and you after God,

15

either ordered or permitted (I know not which)

 

to be called abbot of this church under your patronage,

 

under your leadership, constituted under your name;

 

anxious about myself and those committed to me,

 

I beg to consult you, I pray you to listen,

20

and I expect you through all to work on my behalf.

 

*

 

For I am called master, but I do not know it is so;

 

I am named shepherd, but I deny that it is so;

 

they say that I am abbot, but I am not.

 

For they see me seated where the abbot sits,

25

but I see that I do not do the works that an abbot does.

 

They behold me preceded like an abbot,

 

but I do not behold that I live like an abbot.

 

They show me honour like an abbot,

 

but I do not show them the way of life of an abbot.

30

Scarcely have I led the life of a good layman,

 

and yet they expect me to live like a monk.

 

What have I done, a little man,

 

a creeping and decaying thing,

 

what have I done, to what have I presumed,

35

to what have I consented?

 

*

 

But you, God, and you, N, his apostle,

 

what have you done?

 

For you have done this,

 

either by commanding it or by permitting it.

40

So it is you, who have in some way done this thing,

 

who must act – you by praying, and you by giving –

 

so that what you have done

 

may hold back neither me nor others,

 

but may lead forward me and many others.

45

You have made an ignorant doctor, a blind leader,

 

an erring ruler:

 

teach the doctor you have established,

 

guide the leader you have appointed,

 

govern the ruler that you have approved.

50

I beg you,

 

teach me what I am to teach,

 

lead me in the way that I am to lead,

 

rule me so that I may rule others.

 

Or rather, teach them, and me through them,

55

lead them, and me with them,

 

rule them, and me among them.

 

*

 

Jesus, good shepherd, they are not mine but yours,

 

for I am not mine but yours.

 

I am yours, Lord, and they are yours,

60

because by your wisdom you have created

 

both them and me,

 

and by your death you have redeemed us.

 

So we are yours, good Lord, we are yours,

 

whom you have made with such wisdom

65

and bought so dearly.

 

Then if you commend them to me, Lord,

 

you do not therefore desert me or them.

 

You commend them to me:

 

I commend myself and them to you.

70

Yours is the flock, Lord, and yours is the shepherd.

 

Be shepherd of both your flock and shepherd.

 

*

 

Lord, by the merits of blessed N, your friend,

 

favourably hear the prayer of your sinner.

 

Lord, let him care for us,

75

whom you have given us as an advocate.

 

We know he prays for us,

 

and by him we daily entreat your help.

 

Through him we obtain your grace,

 

and through him we daily implore your majesty.

80

We confess that he is our advocate, Lord,

 

and by him we know you to be our Saviour.

 

Do not let our deserts prevail over his merits, Lord,

 

but blot out our sins by his prayer.

 

*

 

And you, O holy and blessed N, you are my advocate;

85

be my intercessor to God.

 

I pray you, entreat him,

 

I beg you, beseech him.

 

Offer him my prayer,

 

and bring his favourable answer back to me.

90

I intimate to him through you my sufferings,

 

and through you he gives back to me his consolation.

 

Show him my peril, and show me his aid.

 

*

 

For I have undertaken to rule the church of God under you,

 

I who can scarcely begin to rule my own soul.

95

For myself therefore I am timid,

 

and for others I am forced to be solicitous.

 

Weighed down by a weight of sins,

 

I am ordered to relieve others,

 

bowed down by a weight of crimes, I must put others right.

100

So holy, blessed and good N, recognize me

 

as in some kind of way your deputy,

 

and always go before me with your counsel,

 

and follow me with your help,

 

ruling me, and the flock committed to me.

105

For they are committed more to you than to me,

 

and those who are committed to me

 

are not taken away from you,

 

but I am the more greatly committed to you.

 

So what is enjoined upon me about them

110

do you perform for me and for them.

 

Do on my behalf what is enjoined upon me

 

to do in your place.

 

Act, sir, act for me,

 

for you see that I have neither the knowledge nor the ability

115

to act in your place.

 

Rather, act not for me but for yourself,

 

for this pertains first and more greatly to you than me,

 

and if it pertains to me, it is after and under you.

 

So you, sir, have more obligation, more knowledge,

120

and more power than I have,

 

so act more powerfully than me.

 

*

 

Let me not be weighed down, sir,

 

by anxiety about their care,

 

for I am weighed down quite enough

125

with the pack of my own sins.

 

Let me not be weighed down by them,

 

for I am too much weighed down by myself.

 

Let them not weigh upon me,

 

but neither let me be a burden to them,

130

nor let my sins impede them,

 

nor my evil deeds do them harm.

 

Let not my wrong-doing block the way of those

 

who ought to benefit by my well-doing.

 

Let them not be held back by me, sir,

135

by whom they ought to be led forward.

 

Let me not delay them whom I ought to urge on.

 

For my sins are more than sufficient for me;

 

do not let them be a drag on others.

 

It is too much for me if my sins damn me;

140

do not let them involve others with me.

 

*

 

But you, O apostle of God,

 

you can raise up me and them.

 

Carry me and them, excuse me and them!

 

Help us all, rule and protect us all,

145

so that I may rejoice in their salvation with me,

 

and they in mine with them,

 

so that with you, his blessed apostle,

 

we may always praise our good Lord Jesus Christ,

 

who is the blessed God, for ever and ever. Amen, Amen.

18. Prayer for Friends

 

Jesus Christ, my dear and gracious Lord,

 

you have shown a love greater than that of any man

 

and which no one can equal,

 

for you in no way deserved to die,

5

yet you laid down your dear life

 

for those who served you and sinned against you.

 

You prayed for those who were killing you

 

that you might make them just men and your brothers

 

and restore them to your merciful Father and to yourself.

10

Lord, who showed such love to your enemies,

 

you have also enjoined the same love upon your friends.

 

*

 

My good Lord,

 

with what affection should I think of your love

 

which is beyond measure?

15

What return shall I make for your boundless gifts?

 

For your loving kindness is beyond all telling,

 

the greatness of your gift surpasses all return.

 

Then what return shall I make

 

to him who created me and re-created me?

20

To him who has had mercy on me and redeemed me?

 

O God, you are my God,

 

my goods are nothing unto you,

 

for the whole world is yours and all that is in it.

 

*

 

Then what shall I, a beggar and poor,

25

a creeping thing of dust,

 

what return can I make to my God,

 

except to obey his commandment from my heart?

 

For this is your commandment, that we love one another.

 

Good man, good God, good Lord, good friend –

30

you are whatever good there is.

 

Your humble and contemptible slave

 

desires to obey your commandment.

 

You know, Lord, that I prize this love which you command,

 

I hold this love dear, and long for this charity.

35

This I ask, this I seek.

 

For this your poor man, your beggar,

 

beats and clamours at the gate of your mercy.

 

And now, insofar as I have already received

 

the sweet alms you freely give,

40

I love all men, in you and for your sake,

 

though not so much as I ought or as I desire.

 

I pray your mercy upon all men,

 

yet there are many whom I hold more dear

 

since your love has impressed them upon my heart

45

with a closer and more intimate love,

 

so that I desire their love more eagerly –

 

I would pray more ardently for these.

 

*

 

My good Lord,

 

as your servant I long to pray to you for my friends,

50

but as your debtor I am held back by my sins.

 

For I am not able to pray for my own pardon,

 

how then can I dare to ask openly

 

for your grace for others?

 

I anxiously seek intercessors on my own behalf,

55

how then shall I be so bold as to intercede for others?

 

What shall I do, Lord God, what shall I do?

 

You command me to pray for them

 

and my love prompts me to do so,

 

but my conscience cries out against me,

60

saying that I should be concerned about my own sins,

 

so that I tremble to speak for others.

 

Shall I then leave off from doing what you command

 

because I have done what you have forbidden?

 

No, rather since I have presumed so greatly

65

in what is forbidden,

 

all the more will I embrace what is commanded.

 

So perhaps obedience may heal presumption,

 

and charity may cover the multitude of my sins.

 

*

 

So I pray you, good and gracious God,

70

for those who love me for your sake

 

and whom I love in you.

 

And I pray more earnestly for those

 

whom you know love me and whom I do most truly love.

 

I am not doing this, Lord,

75

as being righteous and free from sin,

 

but as one urged on by some kind of love for others.

 

So love them, you source of love,

 

by whose command and gift I love them;

 

and if my prayer does not deserve to avail for them

80

because it is offered you by a sinner,

 

let it avail for them because it is made at your command.

 

Love them, Author and Giver of love,

 

for your own sake, not for mine,

 

and make them love you with all their heart,

85

all their soul, and all their mind,

 

so that they will and speak and do

 

only what pleases you and is expedient for them.

 

*

 

My prayer is but a cold affair, Lord,

 

because my love burns with so small a flame,

90

but you who are rich in mercy

 

will not mete out to them your gifts

 

according to the dullness of my zeal,

 

but as your kindness is above all human love

 

so let your eagerness to hear

95

be greater than the feeling in my prayers.

 

Do this for them and with them, Lord,

 

so that they may speed according to your will,

 

and thus ruled and protected by you,

 

always and everywhere,

100

may they come at last to glory and eternal rest,

 

through you who are living and reigning God,

 

through all ages. Amen.

19. Prayer for Enemies

 

Almighty and tender Lord Jesus Christ,

 

I have asked you to be good to my friends,

 

and now I bring before you what I desire in my heart

 

for my enemies.

5

For you see, O God, the reins and the heart,

 

you penetrate the secrets of my mind.

 

If you have sown in the soul of your servant

 

something that can be offered to you,

 

you see it there;

10

nor can it lie hid from you

 

if I and the enemy of mankind have sown there

 

that which will have to be consumed by fire.

 

Most gracious God,

 

do not despise what you have sown,

15

but cherish and increase it, perfect and preserve it.

 

I can begin nothing good without you,

 

neither can I bring anything to fruition

 

nor maintain it, without you.

 

Merciful God, do not judge me

20

according to that which displeases you in me,

 

but root up that which you have not sown

 

and save the soul you have created.

 

For without you I cannot amend,

 

because whatever is good in us you have made

25

and not we ourselves.

 

My soul would not be able to bear it

 

if you should judge it according to its sins.

 

*

 

You alone, Lord, are mighty;

 

you alone are merciful;

30

whatever you make me desire for my enemies,

 

give it to them and give the same back to me,

 

and if what I ask for them at any time

 

is outside the rule of charity,

 

whether through weakness, ignorance, or malice,

35

good Lord, do not give it to them

 

and do not give it back to me.

 

*

 

You who are the true light, lighten their darkness;

 

you who are the whole truth, correct their errors;

 

you who are the true life, give life to their souls.

40

For you have said to your beloved disciple

 

that he who loves not remains dead.

 

So I pray, Lord, that you will give them love for you

 

and love for their neighbour,

 

as far as you ordain that they should have it,

45

lest they should sin before you against their brother.

 

*

 

Tender Lord Jesus,

 

let me not be the cause of the death of my brothers,

 

let me not be to them

 

a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.

50

For it is more than enough, Lord,

 

that I should be a scandal to myself,

 

my sin is sufficient to me.

 

Your slave begs you for his fellow slaves,

 

lest because of me they offend

55

against the kindness of so good and great a lord.

 

Let them be reconciled to you and in concord with me,

 

according to your will and for your own sake.

 

*

 

This is the punishment

 

that in the secret of my heart

60

I want to exact

 

for those who serve with me and those who sin with me –

 

this is the punishment that I ask

 

for those who serve with me and hate me –

 

let us love you and each other

65

as you will and as is expedient for us,

 

so that we may make amends to the good Lord

 

for our own and for each other’s offences;

 

so that we may obey with one heart in love

 

one Lord and one Master.

70

This is the revenge your sinner asks

 

on all who wish him evil and act against him.

 

Most merciful Lord,

 

prepare the same punishment for your sinner.

 

*

 

Do this, my good Creator and my merciful Judge,

75

according to your mercy that cannot be measured.

 

Forgive me all my debts

 

as I before you forgive all those indebted to me.

 

Perhaps this may not be so

 

because in your sight I have not yet done this perfectly,

80

but my will is set to do it,

 

and to that end I am doing all I can.

 

So I offer this to you here, Lord,

 

so that you may perfectly forgive my sins

 

and deal with me as gently as you can.

 

*

85

Hear me, good and great Lord,

 

for my soul hungers and longs

 

to feed upon the experience of your love,

 

but it cannot fill itself with you;

 

for my heart can find no name to invoke

90

that will satisfy my heart.

 

For no words have here any taste to me

 

when my love receives from you that which you give.

 

I have prayed, Lord, as I can,

 

but I wish I could do more.

95

Hear me, and answer as you are able,

 

for you can do all that you will.

 

I have prayed as a weak man and a sinner;

 

you who are mighty and merciful, hear my prayer.

 

*

 

Fulfil my prayer, Lord, not only for my friends

100

and the enemies for whom I have prayed,

 

but distribute the healing of your mercy

 

wherever you know it may help anyone

 

and not be contrary to your will,

 

both to the living and the departed.

105

Hear me always with your favour,

 

not according as my heart wills or as my mouth asks,

 

but as you know and will that I ought to wish and ask,

 

O Saviour of the world,

 

who with the Father and the Holy Spirit

110

lives and reigns God

 

throughout all ages. Amen.

Letter from Durandus, Abbot of Casa-Dei, to Anselm

(Schmitt, vol. 3, Letter 70, pp. 190–1)

Durandus, Abbot of Casa-Dei, by the sole grace of God, to the Lord Anselm, the venerable prior of Bec – eternal salutations.

Two visitors have come to us from Bayeaux, with letters, young men of outstanding ability in every way: the younger is called Roger, and the other is William. They, and many others too, but mostly these two, have poured into our ears the sweet oil of your name and goodness.

‘I am afraid of my life, for however I look at it…’, with all that follows, was uttered and written, out of the goodness of your contrite heart. When we read these words, your pious tears were before us, drawing the same from us, so that we marvelled in every way, both that such a dew of blessing should overflow from your heart, and that from thence without a murmur such a stream should descend into our hearts. For this is in fact what happened. The goodness of the prayers you have written stirs this up in us, loving this in you, or rather you in them, and above them and through them loving God and you. Pray for us, for you are able to intercede, pray for us who pray for you as we are able, and if you have any more prayers that you have written beyond what we have, send them, for we have heard of them and ask for them in the love that lies between us.

(In his reply Anselm does not mention the Prayers and Meditations at all.)

Meditation 1

A meditation to stir up fear

I am afraid of my life. For when I examine myself carefully, it seems to me that my whole life is either sinful or sterile. If anything in it seems to be fruitful, it is either imperfect or it is a pretence, or even in some way corrupt, so that either it fails to please or it actually displeases God. So, sinner, now not almost [5] the whole, but certainly the whole of your life, is either sinful and damnable, or unfruitful and contemptible. But what is the difference between unfruitful and damnable? Whatever is unfruitful is also damnable, for what the truth said remains true: ‘Every tree that does not bear good fruit is hewn down and [10] cast into the fire.’ And even if I do something that is beneficial, in no way can I weigh it in the balance against the things of the body which I have wasted. Who pastures a beast unless he is worth as much as he consumes? Yet you, kind God, nourish and wait for this useless creeping thing, this foul smelling sinner. The [15] rotting corpse of a dog smells more tolerable than the soul of a sinful man to God, it is less displeasing to men than that other is to God. Alas, a sinner is not a man, but ‘the scorn of men’, more vile than a beast, worse than a corpse. ‘My soul is weary of my life’, I blush to be alive, I am afraid to die. Nothing is left for [20] you, sinner, but to deplore your whole life all your life long, so that the whole may deplore the whole. Yet it is in this that my soul in its misery is to be wondered at, and is miserable in being wondered at: it does not grieve at what it knows about itself, but it sleeps in security, as if it did not know anything was wrong [25] with it.

Barren soul, what are you doing? Sinful soul, why are you lying still? The day of judgement is coming, ‘that great day of the Lord is nigh, it is near and comes quickly, day of wrath and day of mourning, day of tribulation and anguish, day of calamity [30] and misery, day of darkness and shadows, day of clouds and eddies, day of trumpets and noises’. O bitter voice of the day of the Lord. O man, luke-warm and worthy to be spewed out, why are you sleeping? He who does not rouse himself and tremble before such thunder, is not asleep but dead. [35]

Barren tree, where is your fruit? You deserve to be cut down and burnt, cut up and put on the fire; where is your fruit? At least you bear the sharp and bitter thorns of sins. Would that they might so prick you to repentance that they might be broken, or become so bitter that they might disappear. Perhaps you [40] think of some sin as small? Would that the strict judge would regard any sin as small. But, alas for me, surely all sin dishonours God because it disobeys his laws? Where then is the sinner who dares to call any sin small? To dishonour God: how small a thing is that? [45]

Barren and useless wood, deserving eternal burning, what reply will you make in that day when at the twinkling of an eye an account is demanded of you for all the time that has been dealt out to you? How have you expended it? Whatever then is found in you that has not been directed according to the will of [50] God, whether in work or leisure, speech or silence, to the smallest thought, even all your living, will be condemned. How many sins will then rush forward as from an ambush, which at present you do not see at all. They are surely many, and probably more terrible than those that you do see. How many things that [55] you thought were not evil, how many that you believed to be good, will there with naked face appear as darkest sins? There beyond doubt you will be recompensed according to what you have done in the body; it will be no longer the time for mercy. Then your penitence will not be received, then you will not be [60] able to promise amendment. Think on your deeds here, and what you deserve to receive for them. If there is much good and little evil, be very glad; if there is much evil and little good, be very sorrowful.

Useless sinner, is not this sufficient to draw from you a great [65] groan? Is it not enough to draw forth your blood and marrow in tears? Here is hardness to be wondered at; such heavy hammers as these are too light to break it up. Here is dullness with so little feeling that even such sharp points are too blunt to stir it. What a sleep of death is this, that such harsh and [70] terrible thunder cannot disturb? Useless sinner, there is enough here to keep you continually mourning, there is enough here for you to be able to drink continual tears.

Why should I keep hidden from the eyes of my soul any of the gravity and greatness of the misery that threatens it? So that [75] unforeseen sorrows may rush in unexpectedly, so that an intolerable tempest may suddenly overwhelm it? That would be no help to a sinner. But even if I say whatever I can think of, it cannot be compared to the reality. Therefore let my eyes flow with tears day and night and cease not. O sinner, increase the [80] weight of wretchedness, add fear to fear, wailing to wailing. For your judge will be he who has seen the shame of whatever sin you have committed, in disobedience to God, or in treachery. He returned to me good for evil and I have repaid him with evil for good. He who is now most patient will then be most severe; now [85] most kind, then he will be most just. Alas, how greatly I have sinned; I have dishonoured God, I have provoked the Almighty. A sinner, what have I done, to whom have I done it, how wickedly have I behaved! Alas, wrath of the Almighty, do not fall upon me. Wrath of the Almighty, where will you find a place in me? [90] There is nothing in the whole of my being that can endure you.

Alas for me, here are sins accusing me – there is the terror of judgement. Below the horrible chaos of hell lies open – above is the wrath of the judge. Inside is the burning of conscience – outside is the burning of the world. Scarcely shall the just be saved, [95] – and thus overtaken, where can a sinner turn? I am bound fast, where shall I turn? How can I show myself? It will be impossible to hide, it will be intolerable to appear. I shall desire to hide and there will be nowhere to go; I shall curse being seen, and I will be exposed everywhere. What will happen then? [100] Who will deliver me out of the hands of God? Where shall I find counsel, where safety? Who is he who is called Angel of mighty counsel, who is called Saviour, that I may call upon his name?

But it is he himself, he himself is Jesus. The same is my judge, between whose hands I tremble. Take heart, sinner, and do not [105] despair. Hope in him whom you fear, flee to him from whom you have fled. Without ceasing invoke him whom you have provoked by pride. Jesus, Jesus, for your name’s sake, deal with me according to your name. Jesus, Jesus, forget the pride which provoked you, see only the wretchedness that invokes you. Dear name, [110] name of delight, name of comfort to the sinner, name of blessed hope. For what is Jesus except to say Saviour? So, Jesus, for your own sake, be to me Jesus. You have made me, do not let me perish. You have redeemed me, do not condemn me. You created me by your goodness, do not let the work of your hands perish by [115] my wickedness. I pray you, dearest Lord, do not let my sin destroy what your goodness has made. Most kind Lord, acknowledge what is yours in me, and take away anything that is not yours. Have mercy, Jesus, while the time of mercy lasts, lest in the time of judgement you condemn. For what profit is [120] there for you in my blood, if I go down to eternal corruption? ‘For the dead praise you not, Lord, nor those that go down into hell.’ If you take me into the wide heart of your mercy, Lord, it will not be the narrower on my account. O most desired Jesus, admit me to the number of your elect, so that with them I may [125] enjoy you, with them I may praise you, and glorify you with ‘all those that love your name’, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit shall be glorified for ever. Amen.

Meditation 2

A lament for virginity unhappily lost

My soul, my wretched soul, wretched soul of a wretched little man, shake off your lethargy, put away your sin, and pull yourself together. Let your heart break with the enormity of sin and let a huge groan break out of your heart. Unhappy man, turn your thoughts to the horror of your wickedness, and turn [5] yourself to horrible terror and terrible grief. Once I was washed with the whiteness of heaven, given the Holy Spirit, pledged to the profession of Christianity; I was a virgin, I was the spouse of Christ.

Too well I remember it. And who is it I have named? He is [10] not now the kind spouse of my virginity, but the terrible judge of my impurity. Alas, why does the memory of lost rejoicing thus make worse the weight of my present unhappiness? How wretched is the state of wicked men, for they are punished equally by both bad and good. I am tormented by a bad cons- [15] cience and its tortures in which I fear I shall burn; I am tormented by a good conscience, and the memory of its rewards which I know I have lost and cannot freely regain. Ah, the misery of loss, the grief of loss: to have lost irreparably what ought to have been preserved forever. Alas, to have lost inconsolably that [20] which is not only the loss of good, but the gain of torment.

O virginity, now not my delight but my loss, not my joy but my despair, whither have you gone? In what a stink, in what bitter filth have you abandoned me? O fornication, by which my mind is defiled, and my soul betrayed, whence have you [25] crept up on me in my misery? From what brightness and joy in which I stood have you cast me down? It is a bitter grief which burns me, to have lost virginity; but it is anguish and heavy sorrow, and fear of heavier yet, to have committed fornication. The one is an inconsolable loss; the other is intolerable torment. [30] There is deep sorrow either way. Thus do good and bad equally and justly punish miserable sinners while they are still alive. Deserved, yes, indeed it is.

For, O my soul, you are unfaithful to God, false to God, an adulterer from Christ; it is of your own free will that you are [35] miserably cast down from highest virginity into the lowest pit of fornication. You were once the spouse of the king of heaven and with alacrity you have made yourself the whore of the tormentor of hell. Cast off from God, you are cast forth to the devil. Even more, you have cast off God and embraced the [40] devil. Wretched and obstinate harlot, you have offered to divorce your God who first loved and created you, and of your own accord you have given yourself to the devil, who betrays and destroys you.

Most wretched, more than wretched exchange. Alas, from [45] what a height are you fallen, to what depths have you sunk? Alas, what kindness have you cast away, to what merciless evil have you joined yourself? Demented mind, mindless of defilement, defiled by sin, what have you done? You have abandoned your chaste lover in heaven and gone after your hateful corrupter [50] in hell, and in the lower world you have prepared for yourself not a marriage chamber but a brothel. Marvellous horror, that you have perverted your will; horrible marvel, that you willed your perversity. Where, my God, shall I find amendment for such depravity? How can I make satisfaction to you, Lord, for [55] such wickedness?

Miserable little man, throw yourself into the dark depths of boundless grief, for of your own will you fell into the dark depths of horrible iniquity. Unhappy man, let the weight of terrible sorrow bury you, for you freely sank into the mud of stinking [60] hell. Wrap yourself round, wretch, in the horrible darkness of inconsolable mourning, for you were willing to roll into the pit of sordid lust. Plunge into the whirlpool of bitterness – you have wallowed in the trough of moral corruption.

Fear to be shuddered at, grief to be afraid of, mourning that [65] cannot be comforted – heap yourselves upon me, rush on me, bury me, trouble me, wrap me round, possess me! It is just, indeed it is just! With shameless daring I despised you all, and provoked you with my stinking delights. I provoked God even more than you and now in unhappy repentance I long for [70] you. Torment the guilty and vindicate God! Let the fornicator feel beforehand the torments of hell that he has deserved, give him a foretaste of what he has to look forward to, let him become accustomed to what he will have to suffer. Immoderate sinner, show the mourning of repentance; too long have you [75] been showing the evil of your impurity. Spin round and round in the whirlpool of bitterness as you have spun round so often in the giddiness of lust.

Consolation, security, joy – I will have none of you, unless the forgiveness of my sins brings you back. Be far from me before [80] death, so that perhaps mercy will give you back to me after death. Let continual penitence be the bitter companion of my life, let sharp grief be the insatiable tormentor of my existence, may sorrow and sour mourning trouble my youth and my age without tiring. Would that it might be so! I choose, pray and desire that it [85] may be so! I am not worthy to lift up my eyes to heaven to pray, but I am not too unworthy to make them blind with weeping. My mind is confounded by the shame of my conscience when I pray – let it be equally confounded by a crowd of mournful sorrows and griefs. I fear to show myself before the presence of [90] God, so it is just that I should live with the torments of my wickedness.

My heart considers and reconsiders what it has done and what it deserves. Let my mind descend into ‘the land of darkness and the shadows of death’, and consider what there awaits my [95] sinful soul. Let me look inwards and contemplate, see and be disturbed; O God, what is this that I perceive, the land of ‘misery and darkness’? Horror! horror! What is this that I gaze upon, where they live without order, in eternal horror? Ah, a confusion of noises, a tumult of gnashing teeth, a babble [100] of groans. Ah, ah, too much, ah, too much woe! Sulphurous flames, flames of hell, eddying darknesses, swirling with terrible sounds. Worms living in the fire, is it not marvellous that such a greediness of burning should gnaw you, and that you should be burnt up by the flame of fire? Devils that burn [105] with us, raging with fire and gnashing your teeth in madness, why are you so cruel to those who roll about among you? These torments of every kind are restrained by justice, not by suffering. Can they be in no way tempered, have they no remedy or end? Is this indeed the end, great God, prepared for fornicators and [110] despisers of your law, of whom I am one?

Even I myself am one of them! My soul, be exceedingly afraid; tremble, my mind; be torn, my heart. Exactors of my wickedness, whither are you bearing me away? Whither are you pushing me, O my sins? To what have you delivered me up, my God? I [115] have acted in such a way that I am your accused, but surely you cannot act in such a way that I am no longer your creature? My chastity has gone from me, but you have surely not lost your mercy? Lord, my Lord, I have done that for which you are able to condemn me, but surely you have not lost that by which [120] you are able to save? Lord, in remembering my wickedness, do not forget your goodness. God of truth, where is it written that ‘as I live I do not desire the death of a sinner but rather that he be converted and live’? Lord, you do not lie; would it be truly not to ‘desire the death of a sinner’ to bury in hell a sinner [125] who cries out to you? Is to thrust down a sinner into hell to ‘desire not the death of a sinner’? Surely it is rather that ‘I will “that the sinner” “turn and live” ’. Lord, I am indeed the sinner. What is it that forces you to do what you do not will, in handing me over to death? If you will that the sinner ‘be converted [130] and live’, what prevents you from doing what you will, that is, converting me that I may live? Can the hugeness of my sin force you to do what you would not and prevent what you would, when you are the omnipotent God? Not so, my God, not so, my Lord; let not the wickedness of the sinner who [135] confesses and grieves prevail over the will of the Almighty.

Just and loving God, remember that you are merciful and my Creator and Redeemer. Good Lord, do not recall your just claims against your sinner, but remember mercy towards your creature. Do not remember wrath against your accused, but have [140] compassion on one who needs mercy. Of course my conscience deserves damnation and my penitence is not enough for satisfaction; but it is certain that your mercy outweighs all offences.

Good Lord, of whom comes salvation, and who does not will the death of a sinner, spare my sinful soul. In terror I flee from [145] the dread of your justice to the comfort of your mercy. However much the treasure of virginity is, alas, corrupted irreparably, at least let not the punishment of the fornicator who is penitent be unavoidable; this is not impossible to your power, nor unbecoming to your justice, nor unwonted to your mercy; for you [150] are good and your mercy is everlasting, who are blessed for ever. Amen.

Meditation on Human Redemption

Christian soul, brought to life again out of the heaviness of death, redeemed and set free from wretched servitude by the blood of God, rouse yourself and remember that you are risen, realize that you have been redeemed and set free. Consider again the strength of your salvation and where it is found. Meditate [5] upon it, delight in the contemplation of it. Shake off your lethargy and set your mind to thinking over these things. Taste the goodness of your Redeemer, be on fire with love for your Saviour. Chew the honeycomb of his words, suck their flavour which is sweeter than sap, swallow their wholesome sweetness. [10] Chew by thinking, suck by understanding, swallow by loving and rejoicing. Be glad to chew, be thankful to suck, rejoice to swallow.

What then is the strength and power of your salvation and where is it found? Christ has brought you back to life. He is the good Samaritan who healed you. He is the good friend who [15] redeemed you and set you free by laying down his life for you. Christ did all this. So the strength of your salvation is the strength of Christ.

Where is the strength of Christ? ‘Horns are in his hands, there is his strength hid.’ Indeed horns are in his hands, because his [20] hands were nailed to the arms of the cross. But what strength is there in such weakness, what height in such lowliness? What is there to be venerated in such abjection? Surely something is hidden by this weakness, something is concealed by this humility. There is something mysterious in this abjection. O [25] hidden strength: a man hangs on a cross and lifts the load of eternal death from the human race; a man nailed to wood looses the bonds of everlasting death that hold fast the world. O hidden power: a man condemned with thieves saves men condemned with devils, a man stretched out on the gibbet draws all men [30] to himself. O mysterious strength: one soul coming forth from torment draws countless souls with him out of hell, a man submits to the death of the body and destroys the death of souls.

Good Lord, living Redeemer, mighty Saviour, why did you conceal such power under such humility? Was it that you [35] might deceive the devil, who by deceiving man had thrown him out of paradise? But truth deceives no one. He who is ignorant or does not believe the truth, deceives himself, and whoever sees the truth and hates or despises it, deceives himself. But truth itself deceives no one. Or was it so that the devil might [40] deceive himself? No, even as truth deceives no one, so it does not mean anyone to deceive himself, although when it permits this it might be said to do so. You did not assume human nature to conceal what was known of yourself, but to reveal what was not known. You declared yourself to be true God; by what you did [45] you showed yourself to be true man. The thing was itself a mystery, not made mysterious. It was not done like this so that it might be hidden, but so that it might be accomplished in the way ordained. It was not secret to deceive anyone, but secret so that it might be carried out. If it is said to be mysterious, [50] this is only to say that it was not revealed to everyone. The truth does not show itself to all, but it refuses itself to no one. So, Lord, you did not do this to deceive anyone, or so that anyone might deceive himself, but only so that you might carry out your work, in all things established in the truth. So let anyone who is [55] deceived about your truth complain of his own falsehood, not of yours.

Or has the devil in justice anything against either God or man, that God had to act in this secret way for man, rather than openly by strength? Was it so that by unjustly killing a just man the [60] devil should justly lose the power he had over the unjust? But clearly God owes nothing to the devil except punishment, nor does man owe him anything except to reverse the defeat which in some way he allowed himself to suffer by sinning; and this he does by preserving his integrity intact even through the hardness [65] of death. But that also man owed to God alone, for he had not sinned against the devil but against God, and man was not of the devil, but both man and devil were of God. When the devil vexed man, he did it with the zeal of wickedness not of justice, and God did not order him to do it, but only permitted it; the justice of [70] God not of the devil exacted this. So then there is nothing on the side of the devil to cause God to hide or dissemble his strength in saving mankind.

Was it then another kind of necessity that made the highest humble himself so, and the mighty one labour so much to do this [75] work? But all necessities and impossibilities are subject to his will. What he wills, must be; what he wills not, cannot be. Therefore this was done by his will alone. And because his will is always good, he did this solely out of goodness.

God was not obliged to save mankind in this way, but human [80] nature needed to make amends to God like this. God had no need to suffer so laboriously, but man needed to be reconciled thus. God did not need to humble himself, but man needed this, so that he might be raised from the depths of hell. The divine nature did not need nor was it able to be humiliated and to labour. It [85] was for the sake of human nature that all these things needed to be done, so that it might be restored to that for which it was made. But neither human nature nor anything that was not God could suffice for this. For man cannot be restored to that state in which he was first established unless he is made like the angels in [90] whom there is no sin. And that could not be done unless he received forgiveness for all his sins, and that could not be unless he first made entire satisfaction.

To make such satisfaction it was necessary that the sinner, or someone for him, should give to God of his own something that [95] he does not owe him, and something more valuable than all that is not God. For to sin is to dishonour God, and this no man ought to do, even if it means that all that is other than God should perish. Immutable truth and plain reason then demand that whoever sins should give something better to God in return for [100] the honour of which he has deprived him, that is more than the supposed good for the sake of which he dishonoured him.

Human nature alone could not do this, nor could it be reconciled without the satisfaction of the debt, nor could the justice of God pass over the disorder of sin in his kingdom. The good- [105] ness of God came to help, and the Son of God assumed manhood in his own person, so that God and man should be one and the same person. He had what was above all beings that are other than God, and he took on himself all the debt that sinners ought to pay, and this when he himself owed nothing, so that he could [110] pay the debt for the others who owed it and could not pay.

More precious is the life of that man than all that is not God, and it is more than all the debt that sinners owe in order to make satisfaction for their sins. For his death was more than all that can be thought outside the person of God. It is clear that such a [115] life is more good than all sins are bad. This man, who was not obliged to die for a debt, because he was not a sinner, gave his life of his own accord to the Father, when he allowed his life to be taken from him, for the sake of righteousness. This gave an example to others not to reject the righteousness of God because [120] of death, which of necessity they would all at some time have to undergo, for he who was not obliged to suffer death and could have avoided it with justice, willed to give himself up to death and underwent it for the sake of righteousness. Thus in him human nature gave to God something it had of its own, willingly, [125] and not because it was owed. So through him human nature might be redeemed in the other men who had not got that which would pay the debt that they owed.

In all this, divine nature was not humbled but human nature was exalted. God was not made any less, but mankind was mercifully [130] helped. In that man, human nature did not suffer anything as of necessity, but solely of free will. He did not submit to violence, but freely embraced it out of goodness, to the honour of God and the benefit of other men. For praise and mercy he bore what evil brought upon him, and he was not coerced by [135] obedience, but he ordained it to be so by the power of his wisdom.

For the Father did not order that man to die and compel him to do so, but what Christ understood would please the Father and benefit man, that he did of his own free will. In this matter [140] the Father could not force him, for it was something that he had no right to exact from him. Such honour could not but please the Father, when the Son freely offered it with such good will. So the Son freely obeyed the Father, when he willed freely to do what he knew would please him. But since the Father gave [145] him that good will (which nevertheless was free), it is not undeservedly said that he received it as a command of the Father. In this way he was made ‘obedient to the Father’, ‘even unto death’, and ‘as the Father gave him commandment, even so he did’, and ‘the cup that the Father gave him, he drank’. This [150] is the perfect and free obedience of human nature, in that Christ freely submitted his own free will to God, and perfectly used in liberty the good will he had received, without any compulsion.

So that man redeemed all others in that what he freely gave to God paid for the debtors what they owed. By this price man was [155] not only redeemed from blame but whenever he returns with genuine penitence he is received, though that penitence is not promised to sinners. Because of that which was done on the cross, by the cross our Christ has redeemed us. Then whosoever wills to come to this grace with the love it deserves, will be saved. And [160] those who despise it are justly damned, because they do not pay the debt they owe.

See, Christian soul, here is the strength of your salvation, here is the cause of your freedom, here is the price of your redemption. You were a bond-slave and by this man you are free. By him [165] you are brought back from exile, lost, you are restored, dead, you are raised. Chew this, bite it, suck it, let your heart swallow it, when your mouth receives the body and blood of your Redeemer. Make it in this life your daily bread, your food, your way-bread, for through this and not otherwise than through this, [170] will you remain in Christ and Christ in you, and your joy will be full.

But, Lord, you gave yourself up to death that I might live; how can I be happy about a freedom which is not wrought without your chains? How can I rejoice in my salvation, which [175] would not be without your sorrows? How can I enjoy a life which meant your death? Shall I rejoice with those who by their cruelty made you suffer? For unless they had done it you would not have suffered, and if you had not suffered these good things would not have been mine. But if I grieve because of their cruelty, how can [180] I also rejoice in the benefits that I only possess because of your sufferings? Their wickedness could have done nothing unless you freely permitted it, nor did you suffer except because in love you willed it. Thus I must condemn their cruelty, imitate your death and sufferings, and share them with you, giving thanks for [185] the goodness of your love. And thus may I safely rejoice in the good that thereby comes to me.

Now, little man, leave their cruelties to the justice of God, and think of what you owe your Saviour. Consider what he was to you, what he did for you, and think that for what he did for you [190] he is the more worthy to be loved. Look into your need and his goodness, and see what thanks you should render him, and how much love you owe him. You were in darkness, on uncertain ground, descending into the chaos of hell that is beyond redemption. A huge leaden weight hung round your neck, dragging you [195] downwards, an unbearable burden pressed upon you, invisible enemies were striking at you with all their might. You were without any help and you did not know it, for you were conceived and born in that state. What was happening to you, to what place were you rushing away? Remember and tremble; think and be [200] afraid.

Good Lord Jesus Christ, thus was I placed, neither asking nor conjecturing, when as the sun you gave me light, and showed me what a state I was in. You threw away the leaden weight which was dragging me down, you took off the burden that [205] pressed upon me, you drove off those who were attacking me, and opposed them on my behalf. You called me by a new name, which you gave me from your name. And I who was bent down, you made upright in your sight, saying, ‘Be of good cheer. I have redeemed you. I have given my life for you. You shall leave [210] the evil you were in, and not fall into the pit to which you were going, if you cleave to me. I will lead you into my kingdom and make you an heir of God and co-heir with me.’ From then on you accepted me into your care so that nothing could harm my soul against my will. And lo, even before I cleaved to you as you [215] counselled, you did not let me fall into hell, but looked forward to when I should cleave to you; even then you were keeping your promises.

Lord, it was so with me, and this is what you have done for me. I was in darkness, knowing nothing of myself, in a slippery place, [220] for I was weak and prone to fall into sin, I was descending into the chaos of hell, for in my first parents I had fallen from righteousness into wickedness, which is the way to hell, and from blessedness to temporal misery for ever. The weight of original sin dragged me downwards, and the unbearable burden of the [225] judgement of God pressed upon me; my demon enemies thrust vehemently against me to make me do other damnable sins.

When I was destitute of all help, you illuminated me, and showed me what I was, for when I was still unable to see this, you taught others the truth on my behalf and you showed it to me [230] before I asked it. The load that dragged at me, the burden that weighed me down, the enemies that opposed me – you cast them all back when you removed the sin in which I was conceived and born and its condemnation. You forbade evil spirits to attack my soul. You made me a Christian, called by your own name, by [235] which I confessed you, and you acknowledged me to be among your redeemed. You have set me upright and raised me to the knowledge and love of yourself. You have made me sure of the salvation of my soul, for you have given your life for it, and you have promised me your glory if I follow you. And when I was not [240] following you, but was still committing many sins which you had forbidden, you waited for me to follow you till you could give me what you promised.

Consider, O my soul, and hear, all that is within me, how much my whole being owes to him! Lord, because you have made me, [245] I owe you the whole of my love; because you have redeemed me, I owe you the whole of myself; because you have promised so much, I owe you all my being. Moreover, I owe you as much more love than myself as you are greater than I, for whom you gave yourself and to whom you promised yourself. I pray you, [250] Lord, make me taste by love what I taste by knowledge; let me know by love what I know by understanding. I owe you more than my whole self, but I have no more, and by myself I cannot render the whole of it to you. Draw me to you, Lord, in the fullness of love. I am wholly yours by creation; make me all [255] yours, too, in love.

Lord, my heart is before you. I try, but by myself I can do nothing; do what I cannot. Admit me into the inner room of your love. I ask, I seek, I knock. You who made me seek, make me receive; you who gave the seeking, give the finding; you [260] who taught the knocking, open to my knock. To whom will you give, if you refuse my petition? Who finds, if this seeking is in vain? To whom is it opened, if to this knocking it is closed? What do you give to those who do not pray if you deny your love to those who do? By you I have desire; by you let me have [265] fulfilment. Cleave to him, my soul, and never leave off. Good Lord, do not reject me; I faint with hunger for your love; refresh me with it. Let me be filled with your love, rich in your affection, completely held in your care. Take me and possess me wholly, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit are alone [270] blessed to ages of ages. Amen.

Proslogion

Preface

At the pressing entreaties of some of my brethren I published a short work as an example of meditation on the meaning of faith, from the point of view of someone who, by silent reasoning in his own mind, inquires into things about which he is ignorant. When I reflected that this consisted in a connected chain of many arguments, I began to ask myself if it would be possible to find one single argument, needing no other proof than itself, to prove that God really exists, that he is the highest good, needing nothing, that it is he whom all things need for their being and well-being, and to prove whatever else we believe about the nature of God. I turned this over in my mind often and carefully; sometimes it seemed to me that what I was seeking was almost within my grasp; sometimes it eluded the keenness of my thought completely; so at last in desperation I was going to give up looking for something that it was impossible to find. But when I wanted to put the idea entirely out of my mind, lest it occupy me in vain and so keep out other ideas in which I could make some progress, then it began to force itself upon me with increasing urgency, however much I refused and resisted it. So one day, when I was tired out with resisting its importunity, that which I had despaired of finding came to me, in the conflict of my thoughts, and I welcomed eagerly the very thought which I had been so anxious to reject.

It seemed to me that this thing which had given me such joy to discover would, if it were written down, give pleasure to any who might read it. So I have written the following short work, dealing with this matter and with several others, from the point of view of someone trying to raise his mind to the contemplation of God, and seeking to understand what he believes. It does not seem to me that either this work or the one I mentioned before deserves to be called a book or to bear the name of its author; but I do not think they should be distributed without some sort of title, which might make those into whose hands they come read them, so I have given them these titles: the first, ‘An example of Meditation on the Meaning of Faith’; and the second, ‘Faith in Search of Understanding’.

Under these titles they have both already been transcribed by several people, and many of them (above all the reverend archbishop of Lyons, Hugh, apostolic delegate in Gaul, who has commanded this by his apostolic authority) have urged me to put my name on them. For the sake of greater convenience I have called the first book Monologion, that is, a soliloquy; and the other Proslogion, that is, a colloquy.

Chapter 1

In which the mind is aroused to the contemplation of God

 

Come now, little man,

 

turn aside for a while from your daily employment,

 

escape for a moment from the tumult of your thoughts.

 

Put aside your weighty cares,

5

let your burdensome distractions wait,

 

free yourself awhile for God

 

and rest awhile in him.

 

Enter the inner chamber of your soul,

 

shut out everything except God

10

and that which can help you in seeking him,

 

and when you have shut the door, seek him.

 

Now, my whole heart, say to God,

 

‘I seek your face,

 

Lord, it is your face I seek.’

 

*

15

O Lord my God,

 

teach my heart where and how to seek you,

 

where and how to find you.

 

Lord, if you are not here but absent,

 

where shall I seek you?

20

But you are everywhere, so you must be here,

 

why then do I not seek you?

 

Surely you dwell in light inaccessible –

 

where is it? and how can I

 

have access to light which is inaccessible?

25

Who will lead me and take me into it

 

so that I may see you there?

 

By what signs, under what forms, shall I seek you?

 

I have never seen you, O Lord my God,

 

I have never seen your face.

30

Most High Lord,

 

what shall an exile do

 

who is as far away from you as this?

 

What shall your servant do,

 

eager for your love, cast off far from your face?

35

He longs to see you,

 

but your countenance is too far away.

 

He wants to have access to you,

 

but your dwelling is inaccessible.

 

He longs to find you,

40

but he does not know where you are.

 

He loves to seek you,

 

but he does not know your face.

 

Lord, you are my Lord and my God,

 

and I have never seen you.

45

You have created and re-created me,

 

all the good I have comes from you,

 

and still I do not know you.

 

I was created to see you,

 

and I have not yet accomplished that for which I was made.

 

*

50

How wretched is the fate of man

 

when he has lost that for which he was created.

 

How hard and cruel was the Fall.

 

What has man lost, and what has he found?

 

What has he left, and what is left to him?

55

He has lost blessedness for which he was made

 

and he has found wretchedness for which he was not made.

 

He had left that without which there is no happiness,

 

and he has got that which is nothing but misery.

 

Once man did eat angels’ food,

60

and now he hungers for it;

 

now he eats the bread of sorrow,

 

which then he knew nothing of.

 

Ah, grief common to all men,

 

lamentation of all the sons of Adam.

65

Adam was so full he belched, we are so hungry we sigh;

 

he had abundance, and we go begging.

 

He held what he had in happiness and left it in misery;

 

we are unhappy in our wants and miserable in our desires,

 

and ah, how empty we remain.

70

Why did he not keep for us that which he possessed so easily,

 

and we lack despite such labour?

 

Why did he shut out our light

 

and surround us with darkness?

 

Why did he take away our life and give us the hurt of death?

75

From whence have we wretched men been pushed down,

 

to what place are we being pushed on?

 

From what position have we been cast down,

 

where are we being buried?

 

From our homeland into exile,

80

from the vision of God into our own blindness,

 

from the deathless state in which we rejoiced

 

into the bitterness of a death to be shuddered at.

 

Wretched exchange, so great a good for so much evil.

 

A grievous loss, a grievous sorrow,

85

the whole thing is grievous.

 

*

 

Alas, I am indeed wretched,

 

one of those wretched sons of Eve,

 

separated from God!

 

What have I begun, and what accomplished?

90

Where was I going and where have I got to?

 

To what did I reach out, for what do I long?

 

I sought after goodness, and lo, here is turmoil;

 

I was going towards God, and I was my own impediment.

 

I sought for peace within myself,

95

and in the depths of my heart I found trouble and sorrow.

 

I wanted to laugh for the joy of my heart,

 

and the pain of my heart made me groan.

 

It was gladness I was hoping for,

 

but sighs came thick and fast.

 

*

100

O Lord, how long?

 

How long, Lord, will you turn your face from us?

 

When will you look upon us and hear us?

 

When will you enlighten our eyes and show us your face?

 

When will you give yourself to us again?

105

Look upon us, Lord, and hear us,

 

enlighten us and show yourself to us.

 

Give yourself to us again that it may be well with us,

 

for without you it is ill with us.

 

Have mercy on us,

110

as we strive and labour to come to you,

 

for without you we can do nothing well.

 

You have invited us to cry out, ‘Help us’:

 

I pray you, Lord, let me not sigh without hope,

 

but hope and breathe again.

115

Let not my heart become bitter because of its desolation,

 

but sweeten it with your consolation.

 

When I was hungry I began to seek you, Lord;

 

do not let me go hungry away.

 

I came to you famished;

120

do not let me go from you unfed.

 

Poor, I have come to one who is rich,

 

miserable, I have come to one who is merciful;

 

do not let me return empty and despised.

 

If before I eat I sigh,

125

after my sighs give me to eat.

 

Lord, I am so bent I can only look downwards,

 

raise me, that I may look upwards.

 

My iniquities have gone over my head,

 

they cover me and weigh me down like a heavy burden.

130

Take this weight, this covering, from me,

 

lest the pit close its mouth over me.

 

Let me discern your light,

 

whether from afar or from the depths.

 

Teach me to seek you,

135

and as I seek you, show yourself to me,

 

for I cannot seek you unless you show me how,

 

and I will never find you

 

unless you show yourself to me.

 

Let me seek you by desiring you,

140

and desire you by seeking you;

 

let me find you by loving you,

 

and love you in finding you.

 

*

 

I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving,

 

that you have made me in your image,

145

so that I can remember you, think of you, and love you.

 

But that image is so worn and blotted out by faults,

 

so darkened by the smoke of sin,

 

that it cannot do that for which it was made,

 

unless you renew and refashion it.

150

Lord, I am not trying to make my way to your height,

 

for my understanding is in no way equal to that,

 

but I do desire to understand a little of your truth

 

which my heart already believes and loves.

 

I do not seek to understand so that I may believe,

155

but I believe so that I may understand;

 

and what is more,

 

I believe that unless I do believe I shall not understand.

Chapter 2

That God really exists

Now, Lord, since it is you who gives understanding to faith, grant me to understand as well as you think fit, that you exist as we believe, and that you are what we believe you to be. We [160] believe that you are that thing than which nothing greater can be thought. Or is there nothing of that kind in existence, since ‘the fool has said in his heart, there is no God’? But when the fool hears me use this phrase, ‘something than which nothing greater can be thought’, he understands what he hears; and what he [165] understands is in his understanding, even if he does not understand that it exists. For it is one thing to have something in the understanding, but quite another to understand that it actually exists. It is like a painter who, when he thinks out beforehand what he is going to create, has it in his understanding, but he does [170] not yet understand it as actually existing because he has not yet painted it. But when he has painted it, he both has it in his understanding and actually has it, because he has created it. So the fool has to agree that the concept of something than which nothing greater can be thought exists in his understanding, since [175] he understood what he heard and whatever is understood is in the understanding. And certainly that than which nothing greater can be thought cannot exist only in the understanding. For if it exists only in the understanding, it is possible to think of it existing also in reality, and that is greater. If that than which [180] nothing greater can be thought exists in the understanding alone, then this thing than which nothing greater can be thought is something than which a greater can be thought. And this is clearly impossible. Therefore there can be no doubt at all that something than which a greater cannot be thought exists both in [185] the understanding and in reality.

Chapter 3

That which it is not possible to think of as not existing

This is so truly, that it is not possible to think of it not existing. For it is possible to think of something existing which it is not possible to think of as not existing, and that is greater than something that can be thought not to exist. If that than which nothing [190] greater can be thought, can be thought of as not existing, then that than which nothing greater can be thought is not the same as that than which nothing greater can be thought. And that simply will not do. Something than which nothing greater can be thought so truly exists that it is not possible to think of it as not [195] existing.

This being is yourself, our Lord and God. Lord my God, you so truly are, that it is not possible to think of you as not existing. And rightly so. For if someone’s mind could think of something better than you, the creature would rise higher than its creator [200] and would judge its creator; which is clearly absurd. For whatever exists except you alone can be thought of as not existing. Therefore you alone of all most truly are, and you exist most fully of all things. For nothing else is as true as that, and therefore it has lessexistence. So why does the fool say in his heart, ‘there is [205] no God’, when it is perfectly clear to the reasoning mind that you exist most fully of all? Why, except that he is indeed stupid and a fool?

Chapter 4

That what the fool said in his heart is something that it is not possible to think

Now how has he ‘said in his heart’ what it is not possible to think; for how could he avoid thinking that which he ‘said in his [210] heart’, for to say in one’s heart is to think. But if he really did, or rather because he really did, both think, because he said in his heart, and not say in his heart, because he was not able to think, then there is not only one way of saying in one’s heart and thinking. For in a way one thinks a thing when one thinks the [215] word that signifies the thing; but one thinks it in another way when the thing itself is understood. So in one way it is possible to entertain the concept that God does not exist, but not in the other way. For no one who truly understands that which God is, can think that God does not exist, though he may say those words [220] in his heart, either without any, or with a special, meaning. For God is that than which nothing greater can be thought. Whoever truly understands this, understands that he is of such a kind of existence that he cannot be thought not to exist. So whoever understands this to be the nature of God, cannot think of him as [225] not existing.

Thank you, good Lord, thank you, for it was by your gift that I first believed, and now by your illumination I understand; if I did not want to believe that you existed, still I should not be able not to understand it. [230]

Chapter 5

God is whatever it is better to be than not to be; he exists in himself alone; and he creates everything else out of nothing

What are you, then, Lord God, you than whom nothing greater can be thought? What are you but that which exists alone over all things, and has made everything else out of nothing? For whatever is not that, is something less than can be thought; but this cannot be thought about you. Then what good can be lacking [235] to the highest good, through whom all other good exists? So you are just, true, blessed, and whatever it is better to be than not to be. For it is better to be just than unjust, blessed than not blessed.

Chapter 6

How he can be perceived, though he is not a body

Indeed it is better to be capable of perception, omnipotent, [240] merciful, and impassible, than not to be so; but how are you able to perceive if you are not a body, how are you omnipotent if you cannot do all things, and how can you be compassionate and beyond passion at the same time? For if only that which relates to the body can perceive things, since the senses are in the body [245] and concerned with it, how can he perceive, when he is not a body but the highest spirit, which is better than any body?

But if to perceive is nothing else but to know, or related to knowing, or if one perceives by knowing according to the appropriate sense, for instance, colours by seeing, tastes by [250] tasting – it is not inappropriate to say that whatever in some way is perceived, is also in some way known. Thus, Lord, although you do not have a body, you truly perceive in the highest way, for you know all things supremely, though not through the bodily senses like an animal. [255]

Chapter 7

How he is omnipotent, though there are many things he cannot do

But how can you be omnipotent if you cannot do all things? How can you do all things, if you cannot be corrupted, or lie, or make false what is true – which would be to make what is into nonbeing – and so forth? If this is so, how can you do all things?

Or is it that these things proceed not from power but from [260] powerlessness? For whoever can do these things, is able to do that which is harmful to him and which he should not do. And the more he can do these things, so much the more will adversity and perversity be in him, and he will be less opposed to them. Therefore he who can do these things, does them not by power [265] but by powerlessness. It is not said that he can do them because he is able to, but because of his powerlessness another can do them in him; or it is meant in some other way, as many other words are used improperly. For instance we use ‘to be’ instead of ‘not to be’, and ‘to do’, when we mean ‘not to do’, or ‘to do [270] nothing’. So we often say when someone denies that something exists, ‘that is as you say it is’, when it would be more correct for us to say, ‘it is not as you say it is not’. We also say, ‘he is sitting’, just as we say, ‘he is doing something’; or ‘he is resting’, just as we say ‘he is doing something’. But to sit is non-doing, [275] and to rest is to do nothing. So when we say that someone has the power to do or suffer something which is not good for him or which he ought not to do, by ‘power’ we really mean ‘powerlessness’. For the more someone has ‘power’ in that sense, the more power adversity and perversity have over him, and he is the more [280] powerless against them. So, Lord God, you are in fact more truly omnipotent because you cannot do anything through powerlessness, and nothing has power over you.

Chapter 8

How he is both compassionate and beyond passion

But how can you be at the same time both compassionate and beyond passion? If you are beyond passion, you cannot suffer [285] with anyone; if you cannot share suffering, your heart is not made wretched by entering into the sufferings of the wretched, which is what being compassionate is. But if you are not compassionate, where does so much consolation for those who are wretched come from? [290]

How then, Lord, can you be compassionate and yet not compassionate, unless you are compassionate from our point of view and not from yours? According to our meaning, not according to yours? When you look upon us in our wretchedness, we experience the effect of your compassion, but you do not experience [295] the emotion. So you are compassionate, when you save wretches, and pardon those who sin against you; but you are not compassionate because you do not experience the feeling of compassion for wretchedness.

Chapter 9

How he who is entirely and supremely righteous spares the wicked; and that it is right for him to have compassion on the wicked

If you are entirely and supremely righteous, how can you spare [300] the wicked? How does the entirely and supremely righteous one do something unrighteous? How can it be right to give eternal life to one who deserves eternal death? God of goodness, good to both good and wicked, how can you save the wicked, if it is not right to do so, and you cannot do anything that is not right? [305]

Because your goodness is beyond comprehension, is this matter hidden in the inaccessible light wherein you dwell? Truly the source whence flows the stream of your compassion is hidden in the deepest and most secret place of your goodness. For in being entirely and supremely righteous, even in this you [310] are kind to the wicked, just because your goodness is entire and supreme. For you would be less good if you were kind to none of the wicked, for better is he who is good to both good and evil men, than he who is good only to good men. And better is he who is good to the wicked by both punishing and sparing them, [315] than he who only punishes them. So you are compassionate because you are entirely and supremely good. And although one can see why you should deal out good to the good and bad to the bad, what is indeed to be wondered at is why you who are entirely righteous and want for nothing should give good gifts to [320] your wicked and guilty sons. How deep is your goodness, O God. The source of your compassion is seen, but is not seen clearly; whence the stream flows is known, but it is not fully known whence it springs. It is the fullness of your goodness that makes you loving towards those who sin against you, but why this [325] should be so is hidden in the depths of your goodness. For even granted that it is out of your goodness that you deal out good to the good and bad to the bad, yet the consideration of justice would also seem to require this. But when you give good things to the wicked, we know it is because the highest good has willed [330] to do it, but we wonder why the highest justice was able to do it.

 

Ah, from what generous love and loving generosity

 

compassion flows out to us!

 

Ah, what feelings of love should we sinners have

335

towards the unbounded goodness of God!

 

For you save the righteous

 

who are commended by their righteousness,

 

and you set free those

 

who by their unrighteousness are condemned;

340

the one by the help of what they have deserved,

 

the other in spite of what they have deserved.

 

In those you look to find the good you gave them;

 

in these you overlook the evil which you hate.

 

Ah, boundless goodness,

345

far beyond all understanding,

 

on me be your compassion

 

which comes from such generosity!

 

Let that which flows from you, flow into me.

 

Spare me out of mercy,

350

lest you take vengeance out of justice.

 

It is hard to understand

 

how your compassion is no different

 

from your righteousness,

 

but it is essential to believe

 

that it is in no way opposed to righteousness,

355

for it flows from goodness,

 

which is nothing without righteousness

 

and even coincides with it.

 

For you are compassionate

 

because you are entirely good,

360

and you are not entirely good

 

unless you are entirely righteous.

 

So you are compassionate

 

because you are entirely righteous.

 

O righteous and compassionate God,

365

whose light I seek,

 

help me to understand what I am saying!

 

Truly you are compassionate because you are entirely righteous.

Does not your compassion then proceed from your justice? Do you not then spare the wicked out of justice? If this is so, Lord, teach me how it can be so. Does justice lie in this, that you [370] are good in this way so that you cannot be conceived to be better, and you act with such power, so that you cannot be thought to be more powerful? What is more just than that? But that would not be so, if you were good only in punishment and not in forgiveness, or if you made good men only out of the non-good, and not [375] out of the wicked. So it is just that you should spare the wicked and make good out of bad. Finally, what is not done out of justice, ought not to be done, and what ought not to be done is unjustly done. If it is not right for you to have compassion on the wicked, you ought not to do it; and if you ought not to be com- [380] passionate, it is unjust for you to be so. If it is wrong to say that, then it is right to believe that you have compassion on the wicked with justice.

Chapter 10

How it is right for him to both punish and pardon the wicked

It is also right that you should punish the wicked. For what is more just than that the good should receive good and the bad [385] bad? How then is it just for you to punish the wicked, and also just for you to pardon the wicked?

Is the solution that out of justice you in one way punish the wicked and in another way you spare them? When you punish the wicked, this is just, because it is what they deserve; but when [390] you pardon them, this is just, not because of their deserts, but because it assorts well with your goodness. For in sparing the wicked you are just according to your own nature, not according to ours; in the same way as when we say you are compassionate it is not according to your nature but according to ours. When we [395] say you are compassionate towards us we do not mean you experience the sentiment of compassion, but that we experience compassion as feeling; and when you save those whom with justice you might have deserted, you are just not because you give us our due, but because you act in accordance with your nature [400] as being entirely good. So there is no inconsistency in saying that it is just both for you to punish and to pardon.

Chapter 11

How ‘all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth’, and yet ‘the Lord is righteous in all his ways’

But does it not also belong to your very nature, Lord, to exercise justice in punishing the wicked? It is just for you to exercise such justice, for you cannot be thought to be more just. You [405] would in no wise be so if you render good to the good and not bad to the bad. For more just is he who deals out what they deserve to both good and bad, than he who rewards only the good. So, just and merciful God, you act according to the justice inherent in your nature both when you punish and when you [410] pardon. Truly, ‘all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth’, and ‘the Lord is righteous in all his ways’. And this is not inconsistent. For it would not be right for those to be saved whom you choose to punish; and it would not be right that those whom you choose to pardon should be condemned. For the only thing [415] that is just, is what you will; and the only thing that is unjust, is what you do not will. So your compassion is derived from your righteousness, for it is right that you should be good in this way, that you might be good in forgiving. Perhaps that is why he who is entirely just can will good towards the wicked. But if in some [420] way it is possible to grasp the reason why you can will to save the wicked, reason certainly cannot comprehend why through your supreme goodness you should save some, and through your supreme justice condemn others, when both are equally evil.

So in fact you can perceive and you are all powerful; you are [425] compassionate and you cannot suffer; just as you are alive, wise, good, blessed, eternal, and whatever it is better to be than not to be.

Chapter 12

That he is the very life which he lives and the same is true of other attributes

Clearly, whatever you are, you are in your self; you are not derived from another. You are the very life by which you live, the [430] knowledge by which you know, the goodness by which you are good, and so forth.

Chapter 13

How he alone is without limits or time, yet other spirits also are without limits and time

Everything closed in by time or place in any way is less than that which no law of place or time constrains. Since nothing is greater than you, no place or time limits you, but you are always and [435] everywhere. Because I can say that only about you, you alone know no bounds of place or time. How then can it be said that other spirits are unlimited and eternal?

You alone of all things know no ending, just as you knew no beginning, so you alone are eternal. But how are you alone with- [440] out limits? Is it that compared to you the created spirit is limited, but compared to the body it is unlimited? Certainly that which when it is entirely in one place cannot be at the same time somewhere else, is in every way limited; and this is the case only with bodies. That is truly unlimited which is everywhere at [445] once; and this is understood to be true of you alone. That which when it is entirely in one place can also be entirely in another place, but not in every place, is both limited and unlimited; and that is the case with created spirits. For if the soul were not wholly in each part of its body, it would not perceive wholly in [450] each of them. Thus, Lord, you are unlimited and eternal in a special way, although other spirits are also unlimited and eternal.

Chapter 14

How and why God is both seen and not seen by those who seek him

 

O my soul,

455

have you found what you were looking for?

 

I was seeking God,

 

and I have found that he is above all things,

 

and that than which nothing greater can be thought.

 

I have found him to be

460

life and light, wisdom and goodness,

 

eternal blessedness and the bliss of eternity,

 

existing everywhere and at all times.

 

If I have not found my God,

 

what is it that I have found and understood

465

so truly and certainly?

 

But if I have found him,

 

why do I not experience what I have found?

 

Lord God,

 

if my soul has found you,

470

why has it no experience of you?

 

*

 

If I have not found you,

 

what is this light and truth that I have found?

 

How did I understand all this,

 

except by the light and the truth?

475

How could I understand anything at all about you,

 

except by your light and your truth?

 

So if I see the light and the truth

 

I have seen you.

 

If I have not seen you

480

I have not seen the light and the truth.

 

Or is it that I both saw light and truth,

 

and also did not see you,

 

because I only saw you in a certain degree,

 

and not as you are?

 

*

485

O Lord my God,

 

my Creator and my Re-creator,

 

my soul longs for you.

 

Tell me what you are, beyond what I have seen,

 

so that I may see clearly what I desire.

490

I strive to see more,

 

but I see nothing beyond what I have seen,

 

except darkness.

 

Or rather I do not see darkness

 

which is no part of you,

495

but I see that I cannot see further

 

because of my own darkness.

 

Why is this, Lord?

 

Are my eyes darkened by my weakness,

 

or dazzled by your glory?

500

The truth is, I am darkened by myself

 

and also dazzled by you.

 

I am clouded by my own smallness

 

and overwhelmed by your immensity;

 

I am restricted by my own narrowness

505

and mastered by your wideness.

 

How great is that light from which shines out

 

every truth that lightens the reasoning mind!

 

How wide is that truth

 

in which is everything that is true,

510

and outside which is nothingness and falsehood!

 

How boundless is that which in its single gaze

 

sees all created things,

 

and by whom and through whom and how

 

they were created out of nothing!

515

What purity, what simplicity,

 

what certainty and splendour, are here!

 

It is indeed more than a creature can understand!

Chapter 15

That he is greater than it is possible to think

Lord, you are then not only that than which nothing greater can be thought; you are something greater than it is possible to think about. For since it is possible to think that this could exist, if you [520] are not that thing, then a greater than you can be thought; and that will not do.

Chapter 16

That this is the ‘light inaccessible in which he dwells’

 

In truth, Lord,

 

this is that light inaccessible in which you dwell.

525

Nothing can pierce through it to see you there.

 

I cannot look directly into it,

 

it is too great for me.

 

But whatever I see, I see through it,

 

like a weak eye

530

that sees what it does by the light of the sun,

 

though it cannot look at the sun itself.

 

My understanding cannot take it in,

 

it is too bright, I cannot receive it;

 

the eye of my soul

535

cannot bear to turn towards it for too long.

 

It is dazzled by its glory, mastered by its fullness,

 

crushed by its immensity, confounded by its extent.

 

Light, entire and inaccessible!

 

Truth, whole and blessed!

540

How far you are from me who have come so close to you.

 

How remote you are from my sight,

 

while I am thus present in your sight.

 

Everywhere you are entirely present,

 

and I cannot see you.

545

In you I move and have my being,

 

and I cannot come to you.

 

You are within me and around me,

 

and I have no experience of you.

Chapter 17

That in God, in his own unutterable way, are harmony, smell, taste, softness, beauty

Still, Lord, you hide from my soul in your light and beauty, and therefore it still lives in darkness and in misery. I look all round, [550] but I do not see your beauty. I listen, but I do not hear your harmony. I smell, but I do not gather your fragrance. I taste, but do not know your savour. I touch, but do not feel your yielding. For, Lord God, it is in your own unutterable manner that you have these things; you have given them to what you have [555] created in a manner which can be felt, but the senses of my soul have been hardened, dulled, and blocked by the ancient sickness of sin.

Chapter 18

That there are no parts in God or in his eternity, which is himself

I seek for joy and gladness, and once again there is confusion; sorrow and grief stand in the way. My soul was hoping to be [560] filled, and once again it is overcome with need. I was striving to be filled, and now I hunger all the more. I tried to rise up to the light of God, and I have fallen back into the darkness of myself. Or rather I have not only fallen into it, I feel myself surrounded by it. ‘Before my mother conceived me’ I fell into it, I was conceived [565] in it, and when I was born it wrapped me round. In fact we all fell once in him ‘in whom we have all sinned’. There was that which he held easily, and unhappily lost for us and for himself; in him we have all lost it, and when we want to seek it, we are ignorant of it; when we look for it, we do not find it; when we [570] find it, it is not what we were looking for. Help me, ‘according to your goodness’, Lord. ‘I have sought your face; your face, Lord, will I seek; hide not your face from me’. Raise me from myself to you. Cleanse, heal, make keen, illuminate the eye of my inner being, so that I may see you. Let my soul gather together [575] all its powers, and direct its whole understanding towards you, Lord.

 

What are you, Lord, what are you,

 

What shall my heart understand you to be?

580

You are in very truth, life, wisdom and truth,

 

You are goodness, blessedness, eternity and all true good.

 

So many things you are; my narrow thought

 

Cannot behold them in a single glance

 

In order to delight in all at once.

585

So, Lord, how are you all these things?

 

Is each a part of you, or rather, is each wholly you?

 

For anything conjoined from several parts

 

Is not entirely one, but somehow plural and divided from itself,

590

It can be broken up, in fact or in the mind; such things

 

Are alien to the one than whom naught better can be thought.

 

No parts therefore are in you, Lord,

 

You are not many, you are so much one

 

And coextensive with yourself that nothing in you [595] is dissimilar;

 

For you are unity that cannot be divided by the mind.

 

Life, wisdom and the rest, are then not parts of you

600

But all are one and wholly what you are, as all are in the others.

 

Therefore since parts are not in you or your eternity,

 

No part of you or your eternity

 

Is anywhere at any time,

 

But whole and everywhere at every time

605

Yourself and your eternity exist as one.

Chapter 19

That he is neither place nor time, but all is in him

‘To have been’ is not ‘to be in the future’; ‘to be’ is not ‘to have been’ or ‘to be in the future’; yet through eternity you have been, and are, and will be. How is it that your eternity is always a whole?

Is it that in your eternity nothing is past in the sense that it is [610] not now, or future, as though it were not already existing? So it is not that you existed yesterday, or will exist tomorrow, but that yesterday, today, and tomorrow, you simply are. Or rather, you exist neither yesterday, today, nor tomorrow, but you exist directly right outside time. For yesterday, today, and tomorrow [615] are nothing else but time; you however, though nothing can be without you, are not in place or time; but all are in you. Nothing holds you, but you hold all things.

Chapter 20

That he is before and beyond all eternity

You then fill and enfold all things, you are before and beyond all things. You are before all things because before they were, you [620] already existed. In what way are you beyond all things? How are you beyond those things that have no ending?

Is it that without you they would not exist at all, while even if they return to nothing, your existence is in no way less? That is one way in which you are beyond them. Is it that they can be [625] thought to have an end, but that cannot in any way be thought of you? In that way they do indeed have an end and you do not. And clearly that which does not have an end is beyond that which has some kind of end. In that way you go beyond even eternal things, since your eternity and theirs is entirely present [630] to you; while they do not have their eternity that is still to come, nor do they now have what for them is past. Thus you are always beyond them, for that which they have not reached is where you always are, or rather it is always present to you.

Chapter 21

Whether this is ‘the age of the age’ or ‘ages of ages’

Is this then ‘the age of the age’ or ‘ages of ages’? Just as the age [635] of time contains all temporal things, so your eternity contains the ages of time. Because of its undivided unity this is an age; and because of its unlimited immensity, it is also ages. You are so great, Lord, that all things are filled by you and are in you; but you yourself have no dimension of space, so that there can be no [640] middle or half or other part in you.

Chapter 22

That he alone is what he is and who he is

Lord, you alone are what you are and who you are. For that thing is not entirely itself that is one thing as a whole, and another in its part, and in which there is that which can change. That thing does not strictly and absolutely exist that began to [645] exist out of nothing, that can be thought of as not existing, and that can return to not existing unless it subsists in something else, and that does not now have what it was before, and does not yet have what it will be in the future. You are what you are, truly, for whatever you are at any time and in any way, [650] that you are entirely and for ever.

You are that being who exists truly and simply, because you neither were nor will be but always already are, nor can you be thought not to be at any time. And you are life and light, wisdom and blessedness, eternity and many other such good [655] things, indeed you yourself are nothing other than the one and highest good, entirely sufficient to yourself, needing nothing, but he whom all things need for their being and well-being.

Chapter 23

That this good is equally Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and that this is the one Being necessary, which is entirely and wholly and solely good

God the Father, you are this good; this good is your word, that is, your Son. For in the word which you yourself utter, there can [660] be nothing other than yourself, or anything greater or less than you. For your word is true just as you are true, and so it is the truth that is you yourself and no other. You are one, and from you nothing can be born except yourself. And this is the one love, between you and your Son – the Holy Spirit which proceeds [665] from you both. This love is nothing less than you and your Son; for your love for him and he for you are as great as you are. That which is no different from you and him is not something other than you and him, for there cannot proceed from the height of your oneness anything that is not yourself. So Father, [670] Son, and Holy Spirit is wholly as Trinity what each is in himself; for each is none other than the highest single unity and the highest unity of persons, which can neither be multiplied nor made other.

‘Moreover, one thing is necessary,’ This is that one thing [675] necessary, which contains every good, or rather which is wholly, uniquely, entirely, and solely, good.

Chapter 24

Surmises about the nature and extent of this good

Now arouse yourself, my soul, attend with all your mind, and think as much as you can about the nature and extent of so great a good. For if each good thing is delightful, think carefully how [680] delightful must be that good which holds within it the joy of every good, and not such a good as we experience in created things, but as different as Creator is from creature. For if life that is created is good, how good must the life of the Creator be? If salvation that is wrought is joyful, how joyful must that salvation [685] be that saves all things? If the wisdom that knows everything that is made is lovable, how lovable must that wisdom be that made all things out of nothing? Finally, since there is so much and such deep delight in delightful things, how much better and deeper is the delight which is in him who made these delights? [690]

Chapter 25

Of the good that belongs to those who enjoy it, and how great it is

He who would enjoy this good, what will be his and what will not be his? He will have whatever he wants, and what he does not want he will not have. There will be those goods of body and soul, such as ‘the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, nor has the heart of man’ understood. So why do you wonder about so, little [695] man, seeking goods for your body and soul? Love that one good in which are all goods, and it suffices. Desire that one good that is every good, and that is enough. What does my flesh love, what does my soul desire? Whatever you love, whatever you desire, it is there, it is there indeed. [700]

If beauty delights you, ‘the just shall shine as the sun’. If you enjoy that speed, strength, and freedom of the body that nothing can withstand, ‘they will be like the angels of God’, for ‘that which was sown a natural body, shall rise as a spiritual body’, by a power beyond nature. If it is a long and healthy life [705] you desire, there is there a healthy eternity and an eternity of health, since ‘the just will live for ever’, and ‘the salvation of the just is from the Lord’. If you want abundance, they shall be satisfied ‘when the glory of God shall appear’. If it is drink you desire, ‘they will drink of the fullness of the house of God’. If it [710] is melody, there the choirs of angels sing together unceasingly before God. If you delight in any pleasure that is not impure but pure, ‘they shall drink from the torrent of the pleasures’ of God. If it is wisdom you crave, the wisdom of God himself will show itself to them. If it is friendship that delights you, they will love [715] God more than themselves, and each other as themselves; God will love them more than they love themselves, because it is through him that they have love for him and themselves and one another; and it is through his own self that God loves both himself and them. If your joy is in unity, there will be one will for [720] them all, for they will have nothing except the one will of God. If it is power you want, their wills will be all powerful just like God’s will. For as God can do what he wills in his own power, so through him they will be able to do what they will; for they will want nothing but his will, and therefore he will want whatever [725] they want; and what God wills needs must be. If it is honour and riches that you aim at, God will set his good and faithful servants over many things, even more, they will be called and will be ‘gods’ and ‘sons of God’; and where his Son is they will be also, ‘heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ’. If it is true security that [730] you long for, that security, or rather that good, will never in any way fail them, for they certainly will not lose it of their own free will, and the God who loves them will not take it away against their will from those who love him; and there is nothing more powerful than God, which could separate him and them against [735] their will.

Where there is such and so great a good, how rich and great must be the joy! If man abounded in all these things, how great would be the joy of his heart, that needy heart, well-versed in, indeed overwhelmed by, suffering. Question within yourself, [740] could you hold the joy of so great a bliss? But surely if another whom you loved in every way as yourself, had that same bliss, your joy would be double, for you would rejoice no less for him than for yourself. And if two or three or many more had this same blessedness, you would rejoice for each of them as much as [745] you do for yourself, if you loved each one as your self. So in that perfection of charity of countless blessed angels and men, where no one loves another any less than he loves himself, they will all rejoice for each other as they do for themselves. If the heart of man can scarcely hold the joy that comes to him from so great a [750] good, how will it hold so many and such great joys? In so far as each one loves another, so he will rejoice in the other’s good; and as in that perfection of happiness, each one will love God incomparably more than he loves either himself or others, so he will rejoice more and without regard in the happiness of God than [755] in that of himself and of everyone else. But if they love God with their whole heart, mind, and soul, while as yet their whole heart, mind, and soul is not equal to the dignity of that love, truly they will rejoice with their whole heart, and mind, and soul, so that their whole heart, mind, and soul will not suffice for the fullness [760] of their joy.

Chapter 26

Whether this is the ‘fullness of joy’ promised by the Lord

 

My Lord and my God,

 

my joy and the hope of my heart,

 

tell my soul if this is that joy

765

which you spoke to us about through your Son,

 

‘Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full.’

 

For I have found a fullness of joy

 

that is more than full.

 

It is a joy that fills the whole heart, mind, and soul,

770

indeed it fills the whole of a man,

 

and yet joy beyond measure still remains.

 

The whole of that joy cannot enter into those who rejoice,

 

but those who rejoice can enter wholly into that joy.

 

Speak, Lord, to your servant, in the depths of his heart,

775

tell him if this is that joy that your servants enter into

 

when they enter into ‘the joy of their Lord’?

 

But, of course,

 

that joy in which your chosen ones will rejoice,

 

‘neither has eye seen, nor ear heard,

780

nor has it entered into the heart of man’.

 

So as yet, Lord, I have not spoken about or understood

 

how greatly your blessed ones rejoice.

 

They will rejoice as much as they love,

 

and they will love as much as they know.

785

How much will they know you, Lord,

 

how much will they love you?

 

Truly in this life,

 

‘neither has eye seen, nor ear heard,

 

nor has it entered into the heart of man’,

790

how much they will know and love you in that life.

 

*

 

My God,

 

I pray that I may so know you and love you

 

that I may rejoice in you.

 

And if I may not do so fully in this life,

795

let me go steadily on

 

to the day when I come to that fullness.

 

Let the knowledge of you increase in me here,

 

and there let it come to its fullness.

 

Let your love grow in me here,

800

and there let it be fulfilled,

 

so that here my joy may be in a great hope,

 

and there in full reality.

 

Lord,

 

you have commanded, or rather advised us,

805

to ask by your Son,

 

and you have promised that we shall receive,

 

‘that our joy may be full’.

 

That which you counsel

 

through our ‘wonderful counsellor’

810

is what I am asking for, Lord.

 

Let me receive

 

that which you promised through your truth,

 

‘that my joy may be full’.

 

God of truth,

815

I ask that I may receive,

 

so that my joy may be full.

 

Meanwhile, let my mind meditate on it,

 

let my tongue speak of it,

 

let my heart love it,

820

let my mouth preach it,

 

let my soul hunger for it,

 

my flesh thirst for it,

 

and my whole being desire it,

 

until I enter into the joy of my Lord,

825

who is God one and triune, blessed forever. Amen.

Notes to the Prayers and Meditations

(References are to lines of the text)

(Prayer to God, p. 91)

2. Luke, 18, 13

12. Romans 8, 13

28. Matthew 6, 10

30. Matthew 6, 13

(Prayer to Christ, p. 93)

21. Psalm 38, 9

66. Anamnesis in the Roman Canon of the Mass

74. Baruch 3, 38

80. Luke 2, 35

82. John 19, 34

87. Matthew 27, 34

90. cf. John 19, 25

104–5. John 19, 27

109. Matthew 27, 57

116. Luke 24, 23

122. Matthew 28, 5 Mark 16, 6

128. John 20, 25

132. Psalm 119, 8b

133. Psalm 39, 12

139. Acts 1, 9 Luke 24, 50

142. Acts 1, 11

146. Canticle 2, 5

147. Lamentations 5, 15

148. Psalm 73, 26

152. Psalm 77, 2

153. Psalm 73, 25

155. Psalm 27, 8 and 9

159. Psalm 10, 14

167. Psalm 80, 3

172. Psalm 63, 1

174. Psalm 42, 2

178. Psalm 17, 15

180. Psalm 36, 8

182. Psalm 42, 3

184. Matthew 25, 6

191. Hebrews 10, 37

192. Romans 11, 36

(Prayer Before Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, p. 100)

11. 1 John 1, 7

13. Luke 7, 6

16. John 10, 15 and 17

23–5. Roman Canon of the Mass

29. Romans 6, 5

30. Romans 6, 6

31. Romans 6, 4

33. Colossians 1, 24

34–5. Ephesians 4, 15, 16

35. John 15, 4

37. Philippians 3, 21

(Prayer to the Holy Cross, p. 102)

12. Introit for the Mass of the Holy Cross

15. Galatians 6, 14

32. Acts 3, 15

34. Romans 4, 17

59. Philippians 2, 8 and 9

62. Psalm 9, 4

68. Galatians 6, 14

72. Matthew 26, 24

95. Psalm 51, 5

101. Romans 1, 25

(Prayer to St Mary (1), p. 107)

5. Luke 1, 32

40. Luke 1, 42

89. Luke 1, 42

90. The Nicene Creed

91. Daniel 3, 53 (Septuagint)

(Prayer to St Mary (2), p. 110)

21. Romans 11, 15

23. Romans 3, 25 and 1 John 4, 10

36–7. Luke 19, 10

47. Luke 5, 32

125. cf. Matthew 14, 31

139. Daniel 3, 53; cf. end of prayer 5

(Prayer to St Mary (3), p. 115)

25. Psalm 27, 1

32. Psalm 18, 28

65. Luke 1, 42

67. Titus 3, 5

76. Isaiah 30, 1

159. Luke 1, 28.

174. Lamentations 3, 25

181. Philippians 2, 6

195. The Nicene Creed

199. Luke 1, 28

263. Matthew 12, 49

282. cf. Galatians 4, 5 and Ephesians 1, 5

289. Romans 8, 29

297. Canticles 2, 5

298. Psalm 73, 26

333. Genesis 18, 27

357. Philippians 2, 8

361. Luke 11, 27

374. Psalm 89, 52

(Prayer to St John the Baptist, p. 127)

3. cf. Luke 1, 15

8. cf. Luke 1,41–45

13. Matthew 11, 11

19. cf. John 3, 29

44. Psalm 51, 5

45. 1 Corinthians 6, 11

59. 1 Corinthians 15, 53

63. Ephesians 2, 3

67. cf. Genesis 1, 26, 1 Corinthians 11, 7 and Colossians 3, 10

117. Psalm 38, 8

187. John 1, 29

220. Jeremiah 17, 14

223. Luke 1, 15

226. Psalm 136, 1

(Prayer to St Peter, p. 135)

2. cf. Antiphon on Magnificat, 1st Vespers SS Peter and Paul

3. ibid.

5. Matthew 16, 19

72–3. 1 Peter 5, 8

78. cf. Matthew 26, 75

79. Revelation 9, 4

85. John 21, 15–18

95. Luke 15, 5

97. 1 Corinthians 6, 20 and 1 Peter 1, 19

122. Romans 5, 21

125. Matthew 16, 19

186. Psalm 84, 4

(Prayer to St Paul, p. 141)

3. 1 Corinthians 15, 8

4. 1 Corinthians 15, 10

7. 2 Corinthians 12, 2 and 4

9. 1 Thessalonians 2,7

11. Galatians 4, 19

13. 1 Corinthians 9, 22

160. Matthew 9, 13 and 1 Timothy 1, 15

175. Matthew 7, 7

195. James 2, 20, James 2, 26

207. Romans 1, 17

211. Matthew 3, 10

230. Matthew 26, 24

258. Luke 16, 22

273. cf. 1 Kings 17, 21 and 2 Kings 4, 34

278. 1 Corinthians 9, 22

281–2. 1 Kings 17, 21 and 2 Kings 4, 34

291. 2 Corinthians 12, 9

292. 1 Corinthians 9, 22

300. 2 Corinthians 12, 9

334. Luke 5, 32

335. 1 Corinthians 15, 10

336. Isaiah 53, 4 and John 1, 18

337. 2 Corinthians 11,29

340. cf. Hebrews 2, 9

343. 1 Corinthians 9, 22

359. 1 Thessalonians 2, 7

360–61. Galatians 4, 19

371. 1 Corinthians 15, 10

375. Psalm 42, 4

380. 1 Thessalonians 2, 7

397–8. Matthew 23, 37

410. Hebrews 2, 9

419. cf. John 3, 3–5

442. cf. 1 Corinthians 7, 40

466. cf. Matthew 23, 37

467. Psalm 91, 4

471. Matthew 23, 37

486. Romans 1, 25

(Prayer to St John the Evangelist (1), p. 157)

8. John 13, 25

10. John 19, 26

64. 2 Corinthians 4, 10

99. John 13, 23

108. John 13, 25

135. Job 10, 3

166. Wisdom of Solomon 11, 24

(Prayer to St John the Evangelist (2), p. 163)

10. Psalm 37, 14, Psalm 72, 12 and Psalm 74, 19

37. Psalms 70, 5 and 109, 22

41. Psalm 34, 8

42. Psalm 77, 2

50. James 1, 17

175. ff. cf. 1 John 3, 17

186. Hebrews 10, 34

229. Psalm 42, 2

240. Luke 10, 36

245 and 251. Luke 10, 37

246. 2 Corinthians 8, 6 Philippians 1, 6

266. Psalm 84, 2

267. Psalm 103, 1

(Prayer to St Stephen, p. 174)

9. Acts 6, 15

11. Acts 7, 56

13. Acts 7, 60

63. Acts 7, 59–60

67. Stephen: Greek for crowned

69. Psalm 102, 13

88. Psalm 31, 2 and Psalm 70, 1

94. Psalm 69, 15

123. Acts 7, 60

131. Romans 1, 25

135. Acts 7, 60

155. Acts 7, 58

157. Acts 7, 57

174. Acts 7, 51

174. Acts 7, 54

179. Acts 7, 60

195. Psalm 34, 8

214. Psalm 63, 5

219. Psalm 107, 9

224. Acts 7, 60

228. Psalm 17, 15

233. Psalm 42, 2

235. Psalm 36, 8

259. Revelation 7, 17

276. Romans 7, 24

285. Psalm 4, 8

(Prayer to St Nicholas, p. 184)

2. Ephesians 4, 30

11. Psalm 143, 8

18. Psalm 42, 4

34. Psalm 13, 1

36. Psalm 111, 4

42. Joel 2, 13

65–6. Luke 11, 11

97. Psalm 58, 7

126. Psalm 51, 17

127. Genesis 43, 30

129. Canticle 5, 6

204. Matthew 15, 14

227. John 8, 34

230. Psalm 78, 39

241. Psalm 42, 7

253. Psalm 36, 6

256. Romans 11, 33

283. Daniel 3, 55 (Septuagint)

285. Psalm 139, 7

308. 2 Corinthians 8, 6

346. Psalm 78, 7

360. Romans 1, 25

(Prayer to St Benedict, p. 196)

8. Rule of St Benedict, Prologue

21. ibid., chapter 58

25. chapter 1

35. Prologue, and chapter 1

36. Prologue and chapter 2

38. chapter 58

40. cf. Ezekiel 11, 19 and 36, 26

66. Rule, Prologue

68. ibid., Prologue

71. chapters 1 and 5

80. chapters 1 and 58

82. Daniel 13, 22 (Septuagint)

84. Rule, Prologue

92. Psalm 25, 18

94. Psalm 27, 9

95. Psalm 143, 10

98. Psalm 5, 2

102. Rule, Prologue

123. ibid., Prologue

124. Psalm 35, 1

(Prayer to St Mary Magdalene, p. 201)

2. Luke 7, 38 and 44

9. Luke 7, 37 and 39

13. Luke 7, 47

56. cf. Luke 7, 39–40

57. Luke 10, 40

58. John 12, 45

61. John 20, 11 ff.

78. John 20, 15

81. Luke 24, 1

92. cf. John 19, 25

109. John 20, 15

112. cf. 1 Corinthians 3, 6–8

140. cf. John 20, 16

152. John 20, 16

153. John 20, 15

154. John 20, 13

157. cf. John 20, 18

169. Psalm 51, 17

171. Psalm 80, 5

(Prayer by a Bishop or an Abbot to the Patron Saint of his Church, p. 207)

33. Job 25, 6

60. Psalm 104, 24

82. 1 Corinthians 6, 19

93. Acts 20, 28 and 1 Timothy 3, 5

128. Job 7, 20

149. Psalm 89, 52

(Prayer for Friends, p. 212)

2. John 15, 13

6. 1 John 3, 16

7. Luke 23, 34

9. Romans 5, 10 and 2 Corinthians 5, 18

11. John 15, 12 and 17

15. Psalm 116, 12

21. Psalm 16, 2

23. Psalm 50, 12

24. Psalm 40, 17

25. Job 25, 6 and 30, 19

28. John 15, 12 and 17

36. Psalm 40, 17

68. 1 Peter 4, 8

84–5. Matthew 22, 37

90. Ephesians 2, 4

(Prayer for Enemies, p. 216)

5. Psalm 7, 9

11. Matthew 13, 25

21. Luke 19, 21

24. Psalm 100, 3

27. Psalm 130, 3

37. John 1, 9

38–9. John 14, 6

41. 1 John 3, 14

43. Matthew 22, 37 and 39

49. 1 Peter 2, 8

76. Matthew 6, 12

(Meditation 1, p. 221)

10–11. Matthew 3, 10

18. Psalm 22, 6

19–20. Job 10, 1

28–32. Zephaniah 1, 14–16

33. Revelation 3, 16

36. Matthew 3,10

46. Luke 23, 31

59. Psalm 102, 13

73. Jeremiah 14, 17

95. 1 Peter 4, 18

102. Isaiah 9, 6

103. Luke 2, 11

104. Matthew 1, 21

108. Psalm 109, 21

119. Psalm 102, 13

120–21. Psalm 30, 9

122. Psalm 115, 17

127. Psalm 5, 11

(Meditation 2, p. 225)

8. 2 Corinthians ii, 22

24. Deuteronomy 24, 1

36. Isaiah 14, 15

86. Luke 18, 13

94. Job 10, 21

100. Matthew 8, 12

101. Revelation 14, 10

103. Mark 9, 43–48

110. Matthew 25, 41

123–4. Ezekiel 33, 11

144. Psalm 30, 8

150. Psalm 118, 1

151. Romans 1, 25

(Meditation on Human Redemption, p. 230)

2. Galatians 5, 1

2. Ephesians 1, 7

15. Luke 10, 33 ff.

18. 2 Corinthians 12, 9

18. Habakkuk 3, 4

22. 2 Corinthians 12, 9

29. Mark 15, 27

30. John 12, 32

45. John 5, 36

54. John 8, 44

74. Philippians 2, 8

90. Mark 12, 25

148. Philippians 2, 8

149. John 14, 31

150. John 18, 11

160. Hebrews 7, 25

165. Galatians 4, 31

169. Luke 11, 3

171. John 6, 57

171. John 16, 24 and 1 John 1, 4; cf. Proslogion 26

196. Ephesians 6, 12

207. Revelations 2, 17

209. Matthew 9, 2 and 22

210. Isaiah 43, 1

210. John 10, 15

213. Romans 8, 17

240. John 17, 24

258. Canticle 3,4; cf. Proslogion 1

259. Matthew 7, 7 ff.

267. Canticle 2, 5

268. Lamentations 1, 2

271. Romans 1, 25

(Proslogion, p. 238)

8. Matthew 6, 6

13. Psalm 27, 8

22. 1 Timothy 6, 16

41. Psalm 51, 11

59. Psalm 78, 25

61. Psalm 127, 2

92. Psalm 122, 9

92. Jeremiah 14, 19

95. Psalm 116, 3

97. Psalm 38, 8

100. Psalm 13, 1

103. Psalm 13, 3

106. Psalm 80, 3

112. Psalm 79, 9

124. Job 3, 24

128. Psalm 38, 4

131. Psalm 69, 15

144. Genesis 1, 27

157. Isaiah 7, 9

205–21. Psalm 14, 1

307. 1 Timothy 6, 16

411. Psalm 25, 10

412. Psalm 145, 17

471. Psalm 43, 3

484. 1 John 3, 2

491. 1 John 1, 5

524. 1 Timothy 6, 16

545. Acts 17, 28

559. Jeremiah 14, 19

565. Psalm 51, 5

567. Romans 5, 12

571. Psalm 25, 6

572. Psalm 27, 8

574. Psalm 13, 3

619. Psalm 90, 2

694. 1 Corinthians 2, 9

701. Matthew 13, 43

703. Matthew 22, 30

704. 1 Corinthians 15, 44

707. Wisdom of Solomon 5, 15

707. Psalm 37, 39

709. Psalm 17, 15

710. Psalm 36, 8

713. ibid.

727. Matthew 25, 21

729. Matthew 5, 9

730. Romans 8, 17

756. Matthew 22, 37

766. John 16, 24

776. Matthew 25, 21

779. 1 Corinthians 2, 9

807. Matthew 25, 21

810. John 16, 24

816. Matthew 25, 21

825. Romans 1, 25

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