Chapter 3 – The Doctrine of Faith
III The Doctrine of Truth download the pdf
I suppose you are going to school, and you are learning to read and to write. In course of time, if you persevere, you will learn many more good and useful things. Maybe you are even now studying arithmetic and geography, grammar and book-keeping, natural philosophy, and some such useful branches. This is all very good; and certainly it is God’s will that you should learn such things. He has given you a good talent to learn, and He wants you to use it.
But you have never read what Thomas a Kempis says. Here are the words: “Knowledge is not to be blamed, nor simple acquaintance with things, which is all good in itself and ordained by God; but a good conscience and a virtuous life are always to be preferred.”
Do you see? All the learning you may have or get, and let it be ever so big a heap, unless it helps you to lead a good life, will do you no good. The more you have learned, the greater will be the account you must give to God one day. So, then, go ahead and learn all you can, and ask God to help you and to keep you from learning what would not be good for you. You may need all you can learn now for some future time, when you have entered the position or state of life that God has called you to. But—here comes a but —you must not forget. You must also learn to become humble, obedient, kind, patient, pure, and holy; you must learn to pray and to love God and your neighbour; in short you must learn to become a true follower of Jesus. Yes, and this is just the principal thing you must learn. If you have not learned this—to become a true follower of Jesus—all the rest that you have learned can help you nothing.
Now, who will teach you? Do you think you can learn this science—the science of the saints it is called—from books? Certainly, there are books which give you instructions how to become a follower of Jesus. But you must have a teacher: and your Teacher is Jesus Himself.
Jesus is the eternal Truth. He says: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He will speak to you and instruct you; He will teach you how to become a true follower of His—how to become a saint. Just you listen to Him, and do what He tells you.
Sometimes He speaks through your father and mother, through you teacher and through the priest. When they tell you something that you should do or not do, it is just as much as if Jesus Himself tells you: “He that hears you, hears Me;” and He also said: “He that despises you, despises Me.”
Sometimes Jesus speaks to you Himself. You cannot hear His voice with the ears of your body; but you can hear it in your heart. He will open your mind and give you clear thoughts; and He will touch your heart and move you to do His will. You will learn to know Jesus better, His goodness, His infinite love for you, and what is His holy will. And you may learn it this way better than if you should study the best of books.
Especially, the more humble you are, the more Jesus will love you, and the more He will reveal Himself to you and teach you. You know what the Blessed Virgin sang? “He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for, behold, from henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed.”
Yes, even though you could not read a single word, could not even spell, you could learn more of Jesus and how to be His devoted follower, than the smartest, most learned man in the world. Have a humble heart, and have a desire, a burning desire, to learn God’s truth: Jesus Himself, the eternal Truth, will teach you.
Did you ever hear the story about St. Bonaventure and Brother Giles? This Brother had no learning at all; but he was very humble, child-like, and good-hearted. One day he said to St. Bonaventure:
“My reverend Father, you are very happy; you learned theologians can love God much more than we can, and work out your salvation much more easily.”
“You are mistaken, Brother Giles; for, with the assistance of grace, every one can love God as much as he will!”
“What!” exclaimed the good monk, “poor ignorant creatures, who can neither read nor write, can love God as perfectly as those who have made studies?”
“Why, certainly they can; and, moreover, a poor peasant may sometimes love God more than a learned theologian.”
At these words good Brother Giles feels himself transported with joy, and runs to the garden, opens the door that leads to the street, and begins to cry out as loud as he can:
Halloo! Poor people, halloo! Good women who can neither read nor write, come and hear the good news: If you choose, you can love the good God as much as any theologian, and even as much as our reverend Father Bonaventure!”
Here, for the conclusion, is a passage from The Following of Christ:
“The more a man is united within himself, and interiorly simple, so much the more and deeper things doth he understand without labor; for he receiveth the light of understanding from on high.”