Book Talk Tuesday, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 5, Chapter 3

Book Talk Tuesday, Introduction to the Devout Life, Part 5, Chapter 3

CHAPTER III. Examination of the Soul as to its Progress in the Devout Life.

THIS second point is somewhat lengthy, and I would begin by saying that
there is no need for you to carry it out all at once. Divide it by
taking your conduct towards God at one time, all that concerns yourself
another time, all that concerns your neighbour, and fourthly, the
examination of your passions. It is neither necessary nor expedient
that you make it upon your knees, always excepting the beginning and
the end, which includes the affections. The other points of
self-examination you may make profitably when out walking, or better
still, in bed, that is, if you can keep wide awake and free from
drowsiness; but to do this you must read them over carefully
beforehand. Anyhow, it is desirable to go through this second point in
three days and two nights at the most, taking that season which you can
best manage; for if you go through it at too distant intervals you will
lose the depth of impression which ought to be made by this spiritual
exercise. After each point of examination observe wherein you have
failed, and what is lacking to you, and in what you have chiefly
failed, so that you may be able to explain your troubles, get counsel
and comfort, and make fresh resolutions. It is not necessary entirely
to shun all society on the days you select for this work, but you must
contrive a certain amount of retirement, especially in the evening, so
as to get to bed somewhat earlier than usual, with a view to that rest,
bodily and mental, which is so important for serious thought. And
during the day make frequent aspirations to Our Lord, Our Lady, the
Angels, and all the Heavenly Jerusalem. Everything must be done with a
heart full of God’s Love, and an earnest desire for spiritual
perfection. To begin this examination,–

1. Place yourself in the Presence of God.

2. Invoke the Holy Spirit, and ask light of Him, so that you may know
yourself, as S. Augustine did, crying out, “Lord, teach me to know
Thee, and to know myself;” and S. Francis, who asked, “Who art Thou,
Lord, and who am I?” Resolve not to note any progress with any
self-satisfaction or self-glorification, but give the glory to God
Alone, and thank Him duly for it.

Resolve, too, that if you should seem to yourself to have made but
little progress, or even to have gone back, that you will not be
discouraged thereby, nor grow cool or indolent in the matter; but that,
on the contrary, you will take fresh pains to humble yourself and
conquer your faults, with God’s Help.

Then go on to examine quietly and patiently how you have conducted
yourself towards God, your neighbour and yourself, up to the present