How To Make Your Soul Happy
The Imitation of The Sacred Heart of Jesus
A good heart makes the soul happy, gladdens heaven, terrifies hell
1. The voice of Jesus
Well-beloved, if thou hast come to this, that thy heart has nothing wherewith to reproach thee, rejoice, yea rejoice, because peace, like a stream of bliss, is thine.
A good heart makes the soul happy, gladdens heaven, terrifies hell. But a wicked heart fills the sinner with wretchedness, moves the Saints with pity, inspires the demons with fiendish joy and exultation.
Picture to thyself all the possible calamities of this world; thou shalt never be able to imagine misfortunes so great, as those which the sinner bears in his heart.
How hard, how abject, is the slavery of the sinner! with how many chains, and how tightly lies he fettered beneath the yoke of the basest masters, the demon and his own tyrannical passions!
His understanding is bound with the chain of a dull ignorance, so that he may not see the truth: his will is chained with the fetters of an accursed malice, that he may not love goodness.
His senses are riveted with the fetters of concupiscence, that he may not follow righteousness: he is pressed down by the weight of the chains of his passionate desires, that he may not gain the sweet freedom of grace.
2. The sinner
Who is more foolish than the sinner, who is himself the cause of his deepest degradation?
If, on earth, there be a foretaste of hell, it is surely in the heart of the wicked; who, inflamed with the fire of his passions, suffers all the tortures of an evil conscience.
How can he ever truly rejoice, who knows that, were the slender thread of life broken, he should be hurled into the depths of hell?
Verily, I know not how he dares betake himself to his nightly rest, who knows not whether he shall not awake in eternity as a reprobate?
3. The human heart
The human heart necessarily strives after happiness: but, blindly hurried away by a mind unbridled and unsubdued, the sinner seeks happiness there, where only greater misery can be found.
Some seem to imagine that they may be able to satisfy their passions, by gratifying them completely; and that, when they are sated, then, at last, peace will come. Alas! how great an error!
For who, in order to put out a conflagration, will cast fresh fuel on the fire? Would he not, by so doing, rather increase than extinguish it?
Even so, if a man should sacrifice to his passions the salvation of his soul, and the health of his body; unsated still, they would exclaim: Thine we are, give us food.
O, were the heart of the sinner exposed, what wretchedness, what disgustful objects might be descried therein! Yet all things are open and visible to Me, who cannot err, and whom men cannot deceive.
4. Evil habits
A heart given to evil habits, sometimes goes so far that it no longer fancies, loves, or relishes anything, except what may gratify the passions: and, although it knows that it is hurrying on to an abyss of misery, yet it heeds not, but, like a senseless beast, it runs after its lusts, trampling under foot, not the good things of eternity alone, but also decency, and honor, and life itself.
The sinner needs no enemy to hurt or torment him: he himself is his own greatest enemy, and most cruel torturer.
Even from the things with which he seeks to delight and gratify himself, he is wont to receive manifold tortures.
5. The freedom of the children of God
How can he enjoy peace, who nourishes within himself the cause of his disturbance? or how can he even once breathe freely, who is the slave of the devil?
How unhappy must he be, who allows Satan to seat himself on the throne of his heart, and to be lord and master therein!
Blessed is he, that has never experienced the slavery of the devil! that has never groaned beneath the weight of the shackles of sin!
My Child, if thou hast never yet felt the wretchedness of the state of sin, rejoice thou with thy whole heart, and never seek to know what it is to serve the devil.
But if, unfortunately, thou art his subject, have pity on thy soul; eagerly cast off his yoke, burst his chains, enjoy the freedom of the children of God.
6. The voice of the Disciple
O Lord ! how great is the wretchedness of the state of sin! How truly unhappy is the soul, that languishes in this most pitiful state! what peace, what joy can she possess, when she has Thee, the Almighty and All-knowing One, for an enemy! when she knows herself banished from Thy Heart, her last place of refuge! when she is conscious that at any moment she may be plunged into fire everlasting.
How truly unhappy, when she cannot look up to heaven, without seeing that she has lost all right to the same! when she cannot look around her, without being upbraided, and without being terrified at every accident! when she cannot even cast down her eyes, without being silently reminded, that hell is her dwelling-place!
How truly unhappy, when she cannot turn to her own heart, without finding Satan therein! without being tortured therein as in a hell tasted beforehand, where there is nothing joyous, nothing consoling; but everywhere horror, and darkness, and dread, and torments.
O most wretched soul! how changed from what thou wast, when, adorned with celestial grace, ennobled by divine adoption, thou wast so fair, so great, as to be an object of wonder to the Saints and Angels!
How disfigured by sin! how abject! how base under every aspect!
7. Restore me O Lord
O Jesus! would that I were able, even at the price of my blood, to undo what has unfortunately been done! would that I had never fallen into so great a wretchedness, but that I had rather lost my life instead of Thy grace!
O blessed are they that have never lost their innocence! that have never experienced the misery of the state of sin!
Restore to me, I entreat Thee, my first garment; give me back my innocence: and lo! in the newness of life I will so serve Thee, as to preserve it stainless for Thee all my days, even to the end.
“Voice of Jesus” is taken from Arnoudt’s “Imitation of the Sacred Heart”, translated from the Latin of J.M. Fastre; Benziger Bros. Copyright 1866