by Rev. F. Arnout, S.J.
The Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Rev. F. Arnout, S.J. written in 1846 is a Book of rare merit, and worthy of keeping company with the immortal "Following of Christ," of the venerable a Kempis.
This work it resembles in teaching the highest practical truths, but it differs from the same, in that it is more regular in plan; more complete, actual, definite.
To appreciate the "Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus," it should not merely be read once and again: it should be used as a constant and cherished guide to point out to us how, in every circumstance of life, we may learn to avail ourselves of God's favors and dispensations, to lay up treasures in heaven.
To understand this we need only refer to the general design of the work. It takes a person at the beginning, lays down before him the ground work of the interior, the spiritual life; and proceeds methodically to lead him, step by step, through its mysterious pathways, until it brings him to the very summit of Christian perfection. Nor is this done by simply inculcating abstract theories and sublime teachings: our Lord is, throughout, introduced, placing before us the living example of His Heart, and applying, practically and in detail, His own lessons.
The very soul, so to speak, of the work, is the love of the Heart of Jesus. Other virtues form, as it were, the body. Certain leading principles, like so many veins pervading all, complete the whole. These leading principles are the main-spring of the spiritual life. The chief among them may be said to be: a great purity of heart and horror of sin avoiding, however, a false delicacy, or scrupulousness of conscience, an unfeigned esteem of genuine virtue, a generous spirit of self-denial, an ardent affection for prayer, a perfect resignation to the divine Will, a true idea and appreciation of the Church and her mission upon earth, and, consequently, a sincere, a childlike devotion to her; in fine, a real zeal for the salvation of others and for all the interests of Jesus, with whom the soul has, in some manner, become identified. But, in order to realize all this, the reader should give proper attention to the Directory, placed before each of the four Books. This is an essential portion of the work, and exceedingly well adapted to enable us to reap from it the intended spiritual profit.
Whence it appears that the work possesses no ordinary solidity; and, in truth, for directors of souls, for religious, yea, for every Christian who desires to make progress in virtue and perfection it should become an inseparable companion.
[color]From the Introduction--pages xx. - xxi.
The Voice of Jesus: My Child, My Heart, knowing that the frailty of mortals is of such a nature, that, whilst on earth, they cannot live without sin, has devised a saving means, whereby, if it is rightly used, they may not only obtain the remission of their sins, but also receive an increase of grace.
God is faithful, and, according to His word, He forgives their sins to those that confess them; and He gives grace to those that pray for it, and seek to live better. (I. John. i. 9, and v. 14.)
What would become of most men, if there were no Confession? How few should be saved! And how many of those who now rejoice in heaven, or shall possess it hereafter, should be lost!
The Voice of the Disciple: O most benign Jesus, how wholesome, how consoling a device of Thy Heart, is the Sacrament of Penance! How astonishing a condescension, how wonderful a sweetness, that of the Blood of thy Heart Thou makest a bath, wherewith Thou mayst cleanse us from our sins! --page 68, 76
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