I HAVE dwelt thus at length on these points, on a due examination of
which all true knowledge of our spiritual progress rests; as to an
examination of sins, that rather pertains to the confessions of those
who are not eager to advance. But it is well to take ourselves to task
soberly concerning these different matters, investigating how we have
been going on since we made good resolutions concerning them, and what
notable faults we have committed. But the summary of all is to examine
into our passions; and if you are worried by so detailed an
investigation as that already suggested, you may make a briefer inquiry
as to what you have been, and how you have acted, in some such manner
as this:–In your love of God, your neighbour, and yourself.
In hatred for the sin which is in yourself, for the sin which you find
in others, since you ought to desire the extirpation of both; in your
desires concerning riches, pleasure, and honour.
In fear of the perils of sin, and of the loss of this world’s goods; we
fear the one too much and the other too little.
In hope, fixed overmuch it may be on things of this world and the
creature; too little on God and things eternal.
In sadness, whether it be excessive concerning unimportant matters.
In gladness, whether it be excessive concerning unworthy objects.
In short, examine what attachments hinder your spiritual life, what
passions engross it, and what chiefly attracts you.
It is by testing the passions of the soul, one by one, that we
ascertain our spiritual condition, just as one who plays the lute tries
every string, touching those which are discordant, either raising or
lowering them. Thus having tried our soul as to love, hate, desire,
fear, hope, sadness and joy, if we find our strings out of tune for the
melody we wish to raise, which is God’s Glory, we must tune them afresh
with the help of His Grace, and the counsel of our spiritual father.