Index Previous Next
'Now tell me, doth our God at all times grant you [his] bounty? Yea, assuredly; for unceasingly he ministereth to you the breath whereby ye live. Verily, verily, I say unto you, every time that your body receiveth breath your heart ought to say: "God be thanked!"'
Then said John: 'It is most true what thou sayest, O master; teach us therefore the way to attain to this blessed condition.'
Jesus answered: 'Verily I say to you, one cannot attain to such condition by human powers, but rather by the mercy of God our Lord. It is true indeed that man ought to desire the good in order that God may give it him. Tell me, when ye are at table do ye take those meats which ye would not so much as look at? No, assuredly. Even so I say unto you that ye shall not receive that which ye will not desire. God is able, if ye desire holiness, to make you holy in less time than the twinkling of an eye, but in order that man may be sensible of the gift and the giver our God willeth that we should wait and ask.
'Have ye seen them that practise shooting at a mark? Assuredly they shoot many times in vain. Howbeit, they never wish to shoot in vain, but are always in hope to hit the mark. Now do ye this, ye who ever desire to have our God in remembrance, and when ye forget, mourn; for God shall give you grace to attain to all that I have said.
'Fasting and spiritual watching are so united one with the other that, if one break the watch, straightway the fast is broken. For in sinning a man breaketh the fast of the soul, and forgetteth God. So is it that watching and fasting as regardeth the soul are always necessary for us and for all men. For to none is it lawful to sin. But the fasting of the body and its watchings, believe me, they are not possible at all times, nor for all persons. For there are sick and aged folk, women with child, men that are put upon diet, children, and others that are of weak complexion. For indeed every one, even as he clotheth himself according to his proper measure, so should choose this [manner of] fasting. For just as the garments of a child are not suitable for a man of thirty years, even so the watchings and fastings of one are not suitable for another.'