Of Purity of Heart, Which is to be Sought Above All Else

Would you journey by the shortest road, the straight and safe way unto eternal bliss, unto your true country, to grace and glory? Strive with all your might to obtain habitual cleanness of heart, purity of mind, quiet of the senses. Gather up your affections, and with your whole heart cleave unto God.

Withdraw as much as you can from your acquaintance and from all men, and abstain from such affairs as would hinder your purpose.

Seek out with jealous care the place, time, and means most suited to quiet and contemplation, and lovingly embrace silence and solitude.

Beware the dangers of which the times are full; fly the agitation of a world never at rest, never still.

Let your chief study be to gain purity, freedom, and peace of heart. Close the doors of your senses and dwell within, shutting your heart as diligently as you can against the shapes and images of earthly things.

Of all the practices of the spiritual life, purity of heart stands highest, and rightly, for it is the end and reward of all our labours, and is found only with those who live truly according to the spirit and as good religious.

Wherefore you should employ all your diligence and skill in order to free your heart, senses, and affections from whatever could trammel their liberty, or could fetter or ensnare your soul. Strive earnestly to gather in the wandering affections of your heart and fix them on the love of the sole and pure Truth, the Sovereign Good; then keep them, as it were, enchained within you.

Fix your gaze unwaveringly upon God and Divine things; spurn the follies of earth and seek to be wholly transformed in Jesus Christ, yea, even to the heart's core.

When you have begun to cleanse and purify your soul of earthly images, and to unify and tranquillize your heart and mind in God with loving confidence, to the end that you may taste and enjoy in all your powers the torrents of His good pleasure, and may fix your will and intelligence in Him, then you will no longer need to study and read the Holy Scriptures to learn the love of God and of your neighbour, for the Holy Spirit Himself will teach you.

Spare no pains, no labour, to purify your heart and to establish it in unbroken peace.

Abide in God in the secret place of your soul as tranquilly as though there had already risen upon you the dawn of Eternity, the unending Day of God.

Strong in the love of Jesus, go forth from yourself, with a heart pure, a conscience at peace, a faith unfeigned; and in every trial, every event, commit yourself unreservedly to God, having nothing so much at heart as perfect obedience to His will and good pleasure.

If you would arrive thus far, it is needful for you often to enter within your soul and to abide therein, disengaging yourself as much as you can from all things.

Keep the eye of your soul ever in purity and peace; suffer not the form and images of this world to defile your mind; preserve your will from every earthly care, and let every fibre of your heart be rooted in the love of the Sovereign Good. Thus will your whole soul, with all its powers, be recollected in God and form but one spirit with Him.

It is in this that the highest perfection possible to man here below consists.

This union of the spirit and of love, by which a man conforms himself in everything to the supreme and eternal will, enables us to become by grace what God is by His nature.

Let us not forget this truth: the moment a man, by the help of God, succeeds in overcoming his own will, that is, in freeing himself from every inordinate affection and care, to cast himself and all his miseries unreservedly into the bosom of God, that moment he becomes so pleasing to God that he receives the gift of grace. Grace brings charity, and charity drives out all fear and hesitation, and fills the soul with confidence and hope. What is more blessed than to cast all our care on Him Who cannot fail? As long as you lean upon yourself you will totter. Cast yourself fearlessly into the arms of God. He will embrace you, He will heal and save you.

If you would ponder often upon these truths they would bring to you more happiness than all the riches, delights, honours, of this false world, and would make you more blessed than all the wisdom and knowledge of this corruptible life, even though you should surpass all the wise men who have gone before you.

- text taken from On Union with God, by Saint Albert the Great, translated by a Benedictine of Princethorpe Priory; it has the Imprimatur of Edmund Surmont, Vicar General, Westminster, 7 December 1911