An Excerpt from the Meditations6
by William of Saint-Thierry
When I desire to stimulate, exercise, and accustom my heart for praying continually and effectively, I prefer to be instructed by no one in this schooling other than you, O Lord Jesus, Wisdom of God the Father. Consequently, I call to mind the ways of prayer that you used… sometimes praying alone, sometimes in the midst of a crowd, sometimes in exultation of spirit, once in a bloody sweat, and once exalted on the cross…
Because of habit itself, we are desensitized when seeing you crucified, thinking of you as dead and buried. What should pierce through further into the heart and more penetratingly is this: struck on the face with blows, scourged, mocked, spat upon, pierced by nails and the lance, crowned with thorns, given gall and vinegar to drink, you on your cross were thirsting for nothing but our salvation. The earth trembled when you were crucified; we laugh. Heaven with its lights was obscured; we burn to shine in the world. Rocks were rent; we harden our hearts… Unless repentance removes these sins, unless a bloody sweat expels them and the cross crucifies them, I do not find persons sinning willingly and knowingly to have a share in the prayer of the one sweating blood or hanging in sacrifice on the cross… For if you appear to have excluded all who sin knowingly, woe to the entire world, because you may appear to have embraced a very, very few persons…
But, Lord, transform your judgment into mercy, and condemn sin by sin. As you have justly condemned me for the so little love with which I love you then, now having received from your grace the fullness of your love, may I come before your Judgment and appear in your holy place, and before the eyes of your mercy, by the same reason by which that sinful woman appeared of whom you said, Many sins are forgiven her for she has loved much.
…Deign to let the fire of your perfect love set my heart on fire. Let its great ardor well up within me and boil away all poison of sin… May your cross crucify whatever has been collected through concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes, and pride of life, in the vast expanse of my negligence. May whatever has been singed and undermined by the flesh’s will and the mind’s consent be destroyed at the rebuke of your countenance…
I present my case before you and not before anyone else. I lie at the feet of your mercy. There I will lie, there I will lament until you make me hear your kind voice, the judgment of your mouth, the verdict of your justice and mine also, for you have given it to me: since she has loved much, many sins are forgiven her.
Lord, because the Father has handed over to you every judgement, today, come to me in advance with kindness. And judge me with this judgment. For because of the love of your love, I prefer to be justified and saved by this judgment than to be magnified and glorified in any other way. Lord, do not exclude me from the embrace of your redemption. For in everything I desire to share in your cross… And give to my heart a form of penitence pleasing to you. Furthermore, grant to me, Lord, a faith unadulterated and devoted, conscientious, strong, and unshaken, so that, giving grace for grace, you can also say to me, Go, for your faith has made you alive
6 William of Saint-Thierry. The Meditations with a Monastic Commentary. CF 91. Trans. Thomas X. Davis. Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2022. 29-35.