THE DOCTRINE OF TRUTH

HAPPY is he to whom truth manifests itself, not in signs and words that fade,
but as it actually is. Our opinions, our senses often deceive us and we discern very little.
What good is much discussion of involved and obscure matters when our
ignorance of them will not be held against us on Judgment Day? Neglect of things
which are profitable and necessary and undue concern with those which are irrelevant
and harmful, are great folly.

We have eyes and do not see. What, therefore, have we to do with questions of philosophy? He to whom the
Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing. For from this Word are all things and of
Him all things speak — the Beginning Who also speaks to us. Without this Word no man
understands or judges aright. He to whom it becomes everything, who traces all things
to it and who sees all things in it, may ease his heart and remain at peace with God.

O God, You Who are the truth, make me one with You in love everlasting. I am
often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in You is all that I long for. Let
the learned be still, let all creatures be silent before You; You alone speak to me.
The more recollected a man is, and the more simple of heart he becomes, the
easier he understands sublime things, for he receives the light of knowledge from
above. The pure, simple, and steadfast spirit is not distracted by many labors, for he
does them all for the honor of God. And since he enjoys interior peace he seeks no
selfish end in anything. What, indeed, gives more trouble and affliction than
uncontrolled desires of the heart?

A good and devout man arranges in his mind the things he has to do, not
according to the whims of evil inclination but according to the dictates of right reason.
Who is forced to struggle more than he who tries to master himself? This ought to be
our purpose, then: to conquer self, to become stronger each day, to advance in virtue.
Every perfection in this life has some imperfection mixed with it and no learning
of ours is without some darkness. Humble knowledge of self is a surer path to God than
the ardent pursuit of learning. Not that learning is to be considered evil, or knowledge,
which is good in itself and so ordained by God; but a clean conscience and virtuous life
ought always to be preferred. Many often err and accomplish little or nothing because
they try to become learned rather than to live well.

If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting virtues as they do in
discussing problems, there would not be so much evil and scandal in the world, or such
laxity in religious organizations. On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked
what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well
we have lived.

Tell me, where now are all the masters and teachers whom you knew so well in
life and who were famous for their learning? Others have already taken their places and
I know not whether they ever think of their predecessors. During life they seemed to be
something; now they are seldom remembered. How quickly the glory of the world
passes away! If only their lives had kept pace with their learning, then their study and
reading would have been worth while.

How many there are who perish because of vain worldly knowledge and too
little care for serving God. They became vain in their own conceits because they chose to
be great rather than humble.

He is truly great who has great charity. He is truly great who is little in his own
eyes and makes nothing of the highest honor. He is truly wise who looks upon all
earthly things as folly that he may gain Christ. He who does God’s will and renounces
his own is truly very learned.

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