Category Archives: Gertrude More — Confessions

Dame Gertrude More — The Fifth Confession

THE FIFTH CONFESSION

Tell me, O Lord, I beseech you, what can my soul pretend, if it seeks anything with you which is an impediment to my truly loving you? What can I, I say, pretend, seeing no peace or comfort can be found, but in you alone? What do we when we desire comfort outside of you, but deprive ourselves of a most happy liberty, which they enjoy who desire nothing for time or eternity, but (without all regard of themselves) to be perfectly conformable to you?

If we would live without all intention or wish but of enjoying you (which cannot be done but by a truly humble and faithful soul), the devil could not overcome us by any wile. We should easily retain true peace with ourselves, with all the world, and, above all, with you. For when we adhere to any created thing, we become a slave to our passion and are in imminent danger of sin. No way is plain, secure, easy, and without peril of all error but this: that the soul seeks nothing but you, her creator: this is the way in which a fool cannot err. This is the way, without question, in which a soul without all impediment adheres to you, the fountain of all true wisdom, who willingly illuminates our needy souls, if we will but give you our heart and soul for yourself.

You consider not our former sins after you have once blotted them out, but do most bountifully and abundantly bestow your grace upon those who have had the manners of beasts in time past and do refresh them with the sweet dew of your grace. This, having been tasted in their soul, makes them loathe all that is less than you. Neither can they take any content but in hearing your name, speaking to you, and longing for you, after you have wounded their soul with your divine charity.

Oh, let me sit alone, silent to all the world and it to me, that I may learn the song of love and praise of you which is infinitely due to you from me! This song none can sing but those that truly love you, and whose only consolation is to be without all comfort as often and as much as it shall please you. In nothing, as you know, do I put any joy or comfort but in sighing after you, who cannot here be seen by us as you are.

Oh, teach me those virtues which draw a soul so out of herself into you that she becomes insensible to all things but you! These virtues are true humility, which knows not how to exalt itself, perfect subjection to you, and discretion, which can only be taught by your majesty, and yet is so necessary that no virtue hath more virtue in it than partakes of true discretion. For without that, we, instead of true virtue, practice absurd follies. O my Lord, above all things let me seek your glory, and may you be praised by all creatures for all eternity! Amen.

pretend: lay claim to

 

Eternal,

 I seek you in silence, but am so often distracted by things that I think are you but are shades of you. And, of course, by all those things that aren’t you at all. Silence my monkey-mind; strengthen my resolve to find you; and stop, stop me feeling like I’m playing at this, an habitual dilettante. My soul is immersed in me. Draw me out and to your eagle-eye view, your wound of love, that just for a moment is a glimpse of totality that only you can gift.

 Amen.

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Dame Gertrude More — The Second Confession

THE SECOND CONFESSION

 ” Omnis ex vobis qui non renuntiat omnibus, quae possidet, non potest meus esse discipulus. Qui habet aures audiendi,audiat”- (” Every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be My disciple. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear “).

 LUKE xiv. 33, 35.

 These are Thy words, my Lord, which, though they seem hard at first, yet, being unfolded to our souls by Thee, they become most easy, and sweet to perform. Teach me therefore, my God, I beseech Thee for Thy mercy’s sake teach me, I say, how I shall perform this to the glory of Thy Holy Name. Thou hast inflamed my heart, as Thou knowest, with such a continual desire and longing after Thee, that it seemeth easy to me to perform whatsoever is exacted by Thee. For though I be frail above all I can express or imagine, yet I am confident in Thee, by whose help and power it is possible to do all that it pleaseth Thee to exact of me.

Teach me to do Thy will, because Thou art my God. Let me love Thee, because to lack Thy love is a most grievous affliction to me. Far is it from me, as Thou knowest, to have a divided heart towards Thee. Is it possible that, having but one soul and heart, I should bestow any of the affections they are capable of on any thing but Thee? Oh, far be this from me! Nothing that could happen to my soul would so afflict and discomfort me as to see it adhere to any created thing, or to its very self, willingly, to the impediment of my being wholly possessed by Thee.

Make me as Thou wouldst have me, that I may, as Thou exactest, praise Thee. This shall be my study, my care, and all my endeavour to sing in my heart songs of love to Thee Who art only desired and sought after by me. In Thy praise only I am happy, in this my joy I will exult with all that love Thee. For what can be a comfort to me, while I live separated from Thee, but only to remember that my God, Who is more mine than I am my own, is absolutely and infinitely happy? Oh, let this Thy love wholly transform me into itself, that I may become insensible to all created things whatsoever; let me be wholly possessed by Thee, Who by so many titles layeth claim to me.

Can I say or think that anything is worthy of love but Thee? Oh no; but if I had ten thousand hearts, all were too little to bestow upon Thee. Shall I any more be so miserable as, by loving, having, adhering to, or desiring any created thing, to become estranged from Thee, in Whom I have placed all my hope, love, and desire? I have indeed chosen Thee for my only love, light, hope, comfort, refuge, delight, and whatsoever else can be desired or imagined. But it was not of my self, but Thy mercy and goodness that compelled me, even whether I would or no, by sending me the means to know how to serve Thee, and withal by giving me the grace of loathing all that was not to be a help to me.

Oh! these Thy mercies, when I recount them before Thee, even deprive me of my very senses to see Thee to have been so good and merciful to her who, as it is made plain to me by Thee, hath offended and been more ungrateful to Thee than any I did either see or hear of. Shall not I, therefore, humble my soul before Thee, and at the feet of all for love of Thee, Who hath been thus tender of her good, who of all Thine is the last and least and most contemptible? This being so apparent to me, I will yet more and more humble myself by desiring to be despised by all, for Thy honour and glory.

Thus, my Lord, may dust and ashes presume to speak unto Thee, and sitting alone, I read what I write of Thee, and calling to mind what Thou hast done for me, I rejoice in the multitude of Thy mercy. For nothing can be discovered of what I here write for my comfort, and while I am banished from Him in nothing will I rest, for nothing can satiate me till I may enjoy Him as He is in Himself. Yet, as I say, it causeth me grief for having offended Thee, and of being thus remote from my beginning, to which most ardently I long to return as pure as when I was created by Thee. My speaking thus to Thee in all my misery none, therefore, can wonder at. For as one desiring the presence of her Beloved, and expecting when it shall be, can take no comfort till she see the One whom she so much desireth in the meanwhile spending her time, some times with thinking that this joy will shortly be to her, and sometimes being wearied with long expectations so she employeth herself in something which may a little recreate her heart, while thus with her it must be; and above all it is a pleasure to her to hear of Him Whom she cannot yet see.

Thus, O Lord, it passeth even in that love which will and deserveth to pass, which none deserveth but Thou. And there is no comparison able to express the love which is between a faithful soul and Thee. For the more we love Thee, the more pure and quiet becometh the soul by this Thy heavenly charity. Whereas, alas! it fareth far otherwise with us when we love anything out of Thee, and which is an impediment to Thy love. This misery before Thee, in the bitterness of my soul, I bemoan. Thou having made our soul so capable of Thy Divine love, and so able to have relation in all to Thee, it is an ingratitude able to astonish me that we should cast away our love upon that which is so little able to satisfy our soul, and whereof there is as little certainty as there is of the wind. Yea, even in a moment we lose the favour and opinion of one upon whom we have bestowed much time in winning it.

O folly, be thou henceforth far from me! Let that infinite and desirable freedom of my will pour itself out wholly upon Thee, that at last I may become perfectly united to Thy Divine Majesty. Oh, how little worth, when I am with Thee, is the desire of the praise, applause, and commendation of men, who are now of one mind and now of another, nothing being permanent under the sun! Verily, when in Thy light I see this truth, it seemeth to me to be an intolerable burden to be esteemed and praised by men, whose favour often maketh us incur Thy displeasure at least, my frailty causeth this effect in my case. Help me, therefore, and make me by all to become truly humble and pleasing to Thee.

Be Thou adored, Three and One for all eternity, to Thy infinite glory. Amen.

*****

Infinite,

It is so hard to let go of everything we have achieved in this world, to give everything away and follow you. We spend a lifetime seeking recognition; told from so young that success is a good and necessary thing. But everything was always yours: the accolade, the harvest, such as it was, was never mine to keep. But it really did feel good in the moment and left me wanting more. Aren’t I meant to act in the world, to build Jerusalem here in this place? Doesn’t the praise of good people matter?

When my free will is bound with yours; when my will is moved by your purpose in the world, not mine; then, and only then, I can act to your glory. There is no other goal than yours worth my attention. This is a unity I crave with you; that with common purpose, I can be an instrument of your sacred magic in this place.

Teach me to recognize the difference between my needs and yours. I am so easily misled, by my own restless mind. Pour me out, and fill that void with you. I started this life so capable of your love—find me again, and I will so run to you.

Amen.

*****

 

 

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Dame Gertrude More — The First Confession

THE FIRST CONFESSION

My Lord, we often read in our Office of the Breviary that those that forsake all for Thy sake shall receive a hundredfold in this life and life everlasting in the next. This we read and hear; this was spoken by Thy own mouth, and therefore of the truth thereof we cannot doubt, nor in the hope thereof can we be deceived, presupposing that we on our part be not wanting in that which is necessary to the performance of what Thou exactest.

But tell me, I beseech Thee, my God tell me, I say, for Thy own sake, what is it that Thou exactest of them who shall obtain this Thy promise? For I see many leave their parents, friends, acquaintances, their fortunes, their rich possessions, country and all, and yet is it plain that they find not this hundredfold in this life, which is the forerunner of the everlasting life in the world to come. For I see their state is a burden to them, and the obligations of obedience and religious observance are esteemed by them a great servitude and burden.

What is the meaning of this, my Lord? Shall I doubt that those who resolutely and willingly forsake all the world for Thee would stick at forsaking themselves also, seeing that, by forsaking and denying themselves, they should find Thee in a most particular manner in their souls? Is such forsaking of ourselves to be accounted a losing of ourselves? Oh no! but it is a most sweet and happy exchange to leave our own wills to perform Thine; to be subject for Thee to every living creature is not a burden, but the greatest liberty in this world.

But, alas! my God, the reason why we find Thy yoke a burden is because we bear it not with Thee, by which only it is to be made an easy yoke. If souls who have actually forsaken the world, and in desire themselves also (which most coming into religion are desirous to do), were but put into some course between Thee and their souls by those who had the care of them or authority over them, they would not, as they do, fly back from their first intention, but would every day more and more, by conversing with Thee, get more light to know Thy will and strength to perform it.

But these souls, being ignorant how to converse with Thee, and how in all things to have relation to Thee, Thy yoke becomes more and more burdensome to them, and every day they fall into new difficulties and inconveniences, and are in danger at last to fall into open rebellion against their lawful superiors, and some of them admit of strange friendships, a thing which is worthy to be bewailed with tears of blood. Alas that hearts capable of Thy love, and by profession consecrated thereunto, should so miserably lose themselves in pouring out themselves to those from whom no true comfort can be found or had!

O Lord, remove these impediments from those who are Thine by so many titles; let them know Thee and know of Thee, that they may love nothing but Thee; and let them love Thee, that they may know themselves and their own weakness, and also Thy power and majesty. O my Lord, how infinitely is my soul bound to praise and love Thee, since by means of a faithful servant of Thine I have been instructed in Thy law, and taught how to have in all things relation to Thee, my only Beloved. By this means all crosses, miseries, pains, disgraces, temptations, are most tolerable to me, for having Thee so present to me may speak or write to Thee, by Whom (though I am contemptible in the eyes, as I justly deserve to be, of all the world) I am not yet despised or neglected; for which infinite mercy all praise and honour be given to Thee.

Oh! when shall I be grateful to Thee ? Or what shall I render for all Thou bestowest on me? I have nothing but a heart desirous to love and praise Thee, but ability to do either, alas, my God! it is wanting to me. Oh that all love might be wholly converted to Thee! At least let those who have dedicated themselves to Thee cease to desire anything out of Thee. Send them means to know how sweet it is to have no friend but Thee, and to be neglected by all but Thy sweet mercy.

Oh, can that soul that loves her God

For very shame complain

To any other than Himself

Of what she doth sustain!

No way to her was ever found,

Nor ever shall there be,

But taking up Thy Cross, my Lord,

Thereby to follow Thee.

This is the Way, the Truth, the Life,

Which leadeth unto Heaven;

None is secure but only this

Though seeming ne’er so even.

Those that do walk this happy path

Jesus doth company;

But those who go another way

Will err most miserably.

And in this way do not think much,

That thou dost much endure;

No, though it be from holy men;

For God doth this procure,

That thou mayst seek Himself alone,

And put thy trust in Him,

And not in any creature living,

How good soe’er they seem.

For suffering by the means of th’ill

Will little thee advance;

But to be censur’d by the good,

Goes near to thee perchance.

Alas ! we show but little love

If we must choose which way

Our Lord must try our love to Him,

And not in all obey.

We must submit ourselves to Him

And be of cheerful heart,

For He expecteth much of them

Who be of Mary’s part.

For she must bear a censure hard

From all without exception;

But Thou, O Lord, wilt her excuse,

Who art her soul’s election.

If she will patiently sustain

And be to Thee attent,

Thou favourably will judge of her,

Who know’st her heart’s intent.

For all but Thou, as well she sees,

May err concerning her;

They only judge as they conceive,

But Thou canst never err.

 

Complain not, therefore, loving soul,

If thou wilt be of those

Who love their God more than themselves,

And Mary’s part have chose.

If all thou dost be taken ill

By those of high perfection,

And further if thou be accus’d

To be of some great faction,

 

Our Lord will answer all for thee,

If thou wilt hold thy peace,

And from contention and complaints

Wilt patiently surcease,

Leaving all care unto thy God.

And only Him intend;

Yet what is ill reform in thee,

And this will all amend.

As far as He doth think it good,

Who is most just and wise,

He will thee by afflictions purge

From what displease His eyes.

Wilt thou of all that love thy God

From suff’ring be exempt?

Oh no, but bless, as others do

Thy God, and live content.

Amidst the various accidents,

That do to thee befall,

Commit thyself and all to God,

Who seeks our good in all.

Thyself art blind, and cannot judge

What is the best for thee;

But He doth pierce into all things,

How hid soe’er they be.

My heart shall only this desire,

That Thou my Lord dispose,

E’en as Thou pleasest in all things,

Till these mine eyes Thou close

By death, which I so much desire,

Because it will procure

Me to enjoy my God, my all,

Where I shall be secure

That none from me can take my Lord;

But for eternity

I shall enjoy my only good,

And to Him ever be

United by a knot of love,

Which nothing shall untie,

But will remain as permanent

As His Divinity.

O happy hour, when wilt thou come,

And set my spirit free,

That I may love and praise my God

For perpetuity,

Contemplating His glorious face,

With all that Him adore,

Singing with them His sweetest praise

For ever ever more?

In this is such great comfort and peace that well may the soul be termed to receive a hundredfold in this life who despiseth herself and all other things that she may find Thee. Oh, how free is such a soul to fly with the wings of love to the throne of Thy Divine Majesty! Never was there, or can there be imagined, such a love as between a humble soul and Thee. Who can express what passeth between such a soul and Thee? Verily neither man nor Angel is able to do it sufficiently, and the more such a soul knows of Thee, the more sound becometh her humility. This Thyself only can teach one perfectly, and it is impossible to get it in truth and perfection but by conversing with Thee.

O my God, bestow this heavenly gift on me, which only findeth favour before Thee! Those that possess it are able in and by Thee to bear all things, to understand all things, as far as it is necessary for them. For one learneth more in prayer of Thee in one hour than all creatures in the world could teach one in fifty years; for that which Thou teachest is sound, solid, and secure, because it tends to nothing but to love Thee and neglect oneself. Thy words bring force and strength in themselves; Thy words are words of peace to the soul; Thy words are not like the words of men, which pass as a sound through the air, but Thine pierce the very bottom of our souls.

Let me hearken therefore to Thee, Who speaketh love and most certain truth. The wisdom of the world is foolishness before Thee, but Thy wisdom is much to be desired, and for it willingly ought we to give all our substance; to it we ought to be espoused; and by it, if we will be happy, all our actions ought to be governed.

Although Thou didst say that unless we become as little children we could not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, yet withal Thou hast said that we ought to be as wise as serpents and simple as doves; that is, that we should be wise before we be simple, and not place simplicity before wisdom; whereof I ask Thee the reason, O my Lord, with all the humility I am able, for it seems to me that therein, as in all Thy words, there is a hidden mystery.

Tell me, I say, my God (of Whom in all cases and doubts I ask solution, and many times by it Thou dost make many things manifest to my simplicity) tell me, I say, what was the reason? Verily it seems to me that Thou biddest us be wise before we become simple, because that only is true simplicity which followeth true wisdom. For we cannot become truly simplified in our soul but by Thy heavenly gift of true wisdom; for there is a simplicity which is without wisdom and discretion which little availeth unto perfection.

This virtue of simplicity becometh more and more perfect in the soul as she increaseth in humility and charity; yet at the very beginning of our conversion this is in some sort practised by us, if we do as we ought to do as, for example, to become pleasing to Thee it is absolutely necessary that a soul walk simply and sincerely before Thee and all men, and read and hear, obey and perform all in a simple and humble manner, not searching into that which belongeth not unto her. This, I say, Thou dost exact, for nothing is more odious to Thee than the contrary practice. But yet this doth not diminish our natural reason, but maketh it more clear and able to comprehend what is necessary for us. This virtue also, therefore, bestow upon me, who even naturally (as Thou well knowest) did ever above all things hate dissembling and dissimulation.

O Lord, poor as I am and most sinful, Thou seest how I thus presume to speak unto Thee. But easily shall I obtain pardon of Thee, because Thou overflowest with the abundance of Thy mercy, for which glory, praise, adoration be to Thee, Who art my Lord and my God, and only desired by me. I have no friend to speak or treat with but Thee, and some of Thy Saints to whom Thou hast given charge of me and to whom I fly when my sins affright me, amongst whom next after Thy dear Mother, the Queen of Mercy, is my beloved St. Augustine.  

O glorious Saint, whose heart did burn

And flame with love Divine,

Remember me, most sinful wretch,

Who starv’d doth sorely pine

For want of that which thou enjoyest

In such abundant measure,

It is my God that I do mean,

My joy and all my treasure.

Thy words, O Saint, are truly sweet,

Because thou dost address

Them unto Him Who’s only meet

Our mis’ries to redress.

At the intercession of these Saints much hast Thou done for me.  Honour them, my Lord, for me, who am so poor that I have nothing to present them or Thee, only a desire of being grateful to Thee. Be Thou by all eternally praised. Amen.

*****

Infinite,

We each search for you with our body and soul, knowing that a life with you demands obedience, poverty, and chastity in all things, including the desire for knowledge. So much of your truth lies at the intersection of two or more realities, clothed in contradiction and paradox.  We strive to know you, and to stay humble on the journey, but we have from you, Eternal, minds that crave, and fear, and crave again the hidden mysteries of the universe. Remind us that the more we know, the more there is to know, and so keep us humble and full of wonder.

It’s so easy to put trust in the wrong place. I will rely on your answers only, Infinite, and will find you in the luminal place between silent prayer and benediction. If I have the strength to listen; if I can, through unforced concentration, find the peace where you are, there will, in that moment out of time, be grace.

Amen.

*****

 

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