Tauler Sermon Week 2
The Rudiments of Perfection
First Sermon for the Second Sunday of Lent
Venal sin means
The book of Ecclesiasticus (Eccli.) is not found in the King James Version. It is accepted in the Roman Catholic canon but is noncanonical for Jews and Protestants.
Concupiscence generally means an ardent, usually sensual, longing. In Catholic theology, concupiscence is seen as a desire of the lower appetite contrary to reason.
In the third point Tauler makes he explains that the view that God sends us suffering as a means of punishment is a view for beginners on the spiritual journey.
For He hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters and from the sharp word. (Ps. 90:3)
Thus spoke the great prophet and king, David, of those who give themselves up to the will and the protection of God. By the word snare, we must understand the poisonous temptations of the devil. And by the sharp word, we are to understand the day of doom and judgment then to be visited upon sinners: Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire. (Matt. 25:41) The man who has not often pondered these awful words is no servant of God; for it is by this means that we escape the snare and the hunter of our souls, and it is by a good life that we guard against the dreadful fate of the wicked.
Now, it can be said of every saint: There was not found the like to him in glory who kept the law of the Most High. (Eccli. 44:20.) Every man called by God to repentance is called in a way peculiar to his own outward circumstances; but interiorly it is to one and the same love all are invited; they—all, without exception—love justice and hate iniquity.
If we are going to serve God, God must give us His grace of conversion. And now, if you will bear a little with my dullness, I will, to the best of my ability, show you a plain way by which to advance in perfection, if you will but follow it.
The first point is, for the love of God to renounce all mortal sin; and then for the sake of both penance and perfection, to meditate carefully on the passion of Jesus Christ the Son of God, especially on His five holy wounds: Jesus crucified must man study daily, with particularly fervent prayers and devotions.
The second point is to suppress the gross concupiscence of nature, overcoming it from hour to hour; and we should do this by means of all the penitential exercises that we can endure. For this end one should gladly be much alone with God. As for the rest, one must seek every opportunity to do good to others and practice himself in all virtues.
The third point is this: man must shut out all inordinate human love; his heart must be emptied of love of any creature in preference to God or on an equality with God. In order to better accomplish this, he should make a beginning with such desire as this: That God would punish him for his sins in this life by sending him suffering. And he should also undertake penitential works of his own prudent choice, lament and weep for his sins, and have at least sincere longing to atone fully for them. For the better doing of all this he should adopt a rule of life, and begin at once, and with some severity, to hold himself as firmly as possible to his virtuous practices, having constantly before his eyes the example of Christ’s humanity. And let him live in obedience to the precepts of holy church to the very best of his ability.
The fourth point concerns the bearing of trouble and adversity. For when this man has acquired some virtue and become pleasing in God’s sight, He sends him many sorrows, both interior and exterior, and soon all devotional practices cease to attract him. Now is the time for him to be patient; he must by no means lessen his diligence in spiritual exercises; if all interior comfort is withdrawn, let him go right on without it, for thus does he become truly poor in spirit. Let him understand that now God is giving him lessons on how to love, not for the sake of his own profit, but wholly for that of his beloved.
Finally, he must not be actuated, as his chief motive, by the hope of reward in doing his good works; nor should he fear any suffering, looking upon all that as a form of self-love; God’s honour alone should inspire him. After a time such a person wonders how a spiritual man can serve God mainly for any reward, temporal or eternal. He seeks no interior comfort in this life, nor does he pay attention to a reward hereafter as the motive of virtue; no thought of his personal profit enters his mind. He wills simply what God wills; and this state of soul is sweeter to him than the thought of any recompense can ever be.
May Almighty God grant us these happy dispositions, by which we may escape the snares of the hunters of our souls, and may never hear the sharp word of condemnation spoken against us by the Supreme Judge. Amen.
Some Important points:
Every man called by God to repentance is called in a way peculiar to his own outward circumstances; but interiorly it is to one and the same love all are invited; they—all, without exception—love justice and hate iniquity.
The first point is, for the love of God to renounce all mortal sin.
The second point is to suppress the gross concupiscence of nature.
The third point is this: man must shut out all inordinate human love.
The fourth point concerns the bearing of trouble and adversity.
Finally, he must not be actuated, as his chief motive, by the hope of reward.