Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 6

The Proof of a True Lover


MY SON, you are not as yet a valiant and prudent lover.


Why, O Lord?


Because you fall off from what you have begun, upon meeting with a little adversity and too greedily seek after consolation.

A valiant lover stands his ground in temptations and yields not to the crafty persuasions of the enemy.

As he is pleased with Me in prosperity so I displease him not when I send adversity.

2. A prudent lover considers not so much the gift of the lover as the love of the giver.

He looks more at the good will than the value, and prizes his Beloved above all His gifts.

A generous lover rests not in the gift, but in Me above every gift.

All is not lost if sometimes you have not that sense of devotion towards Me or My saints which you would have.

That good and delightful affection, which you sometimes perceive, is the effect of present grace and a certain foretaste of your heavenly country, but you must not rely too much upon it, because it comes and goes.

But to fight against the evil motions of the mind which arise, and to despise the suggestions of the devil is a sign of virtue and of great merit.

3. Let not, therefore, strange fancies trouble you, of what kind soever they be that are suggested to you.

Keep your resolution firm and your intention upright towards God.

Neither is it an illusion that sometimes you are transported into an ecstasy and presently return to the accustomed weakness of your heart.

For these you rather suffer against thy will than procure, and as long as you are pleased with them and do resist them it is merit and not loss.

4. Know that the old enemy strives by all means to hinder your desire after good and to divert you from every devout exercise, namely from the veneration of the saints, from the pious meditation of My Passion, from the profitable remembrance of your sins, from keeping a guard upon your own heart and from a firm purpose of advancing in virtue.

He suggests to you many evil thoughts that he may wear you out, and frighten you that he may withdraw you from prayer and the reading of devout books.

He is displeased with humble confession, and if he could he would cause you to omit Communion.

Give no credit to him, value him not, although he often lays his deceitful snares in your way.

Charge him with it when he suggests wicked and unclean things and say to him:

Begone, unclean spirit; be ashamed, miserable wretch; you are very filthy indeed to suggest such things as these to Me.

Depart from me, you wicked imposter, you shall have no share in me, but my Jesus will be with me as a valiant warrior and you shall be confounded.

I would rather die and undergo any torment whatsoever than yield to your suggestions.

Be silent, I will hear no more of you, although you so often strive to be troublesome to me. “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”

“If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear. The Lord is my helper and my Redeemer.”

5. Fight like a good soldier, and if sometimes you fall through frailty rise up again with greater strength than before, confiding in My more abundant grace, but take great care you yield not to any vain complacency and pride.

Through this many are led into error and sometimes fall into incurable blindness.

Let this fall of the proud, who foolishly rely on their own strength, serve for you a warning and keep you always humble.

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