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The testimony of a preacher
97,1. The Prior, suffused with the highest bliss, goes out to his brethren as the Lord has commanded him. So we go after him to see how he will manage his office.
97,2. Behold, our familiar, talkative monk is already approaching him and asks him with a frightened expression: "Listen, brother, how is it possible that in this most dreadful time, in which we all await the implacable judge, can you come with us with such an elated expression on your face from your good hiding place! Has the simple leader done such to you, or have you persuaded yourself thus? Tell me and all of us how you came to this happiness? To the Lord be all praise, all honor, and thanksgiving, that He has allowed you such joy. But we poor sinners here are even more afraid and anxious. If a little help could be given to us, it would be something extraordinary for our frightened mind.
97,3. Indeed, on the earth, I have often preached to the people from the pulpit how terrible it is to appear before the face of the Implacable Judge, and how terrible to fall into the hands of the living Almighty God! Many of my listeners may have been shaken to the core of my sermons, but I have certainly taken my sermons to heart, and, as you know, let me taste a good bite as well as a good glass of wine. Here, however, it is precisely the proverbial question: Whoever digs a pit for another falls in it himself. And so, too, am I lying over my neck and head in this pit, and now feels strongly and vividly that which in my lifetime I should have made others feel through my sermons. So I ask you all the more that you do give me and all of us a somewhat consoling message; how is it possible for you to be so cheerful as you are?
97,4. The prior says, 'Listen, then, my beloved brother: My former and your present fear of the Lord is the reason why we never wanted to have the Lord as He is, but we made Him ourselves to be the most terrible Being of all beings. We have thus lost the true Christ, that is, the Christ who, still bleeding and dying on the Cross, blessed His greatest enemies, tormentors, and martyrs, and excused them for their own ignorance. We have lost the Christ, who took up the prodigal, who had turned to Him, with the most open heart, and did not condemn even those who reviled Him on thecross. Instead of this true Christ, we have formed a tyrant-Christ, who continually plots revenge to the by-us-defined judgement day, while we could easily have thought that the Lord, if He wanted to take revenge on His wretched creatures, would not need such a long indefinite period, but could have done to them as He did with Sodom and Gomorrah.
97,5. Furthermore, we imagined Christ continually in inaccessible loftiness, from where He took little care of His creatures, but left them free until the Day of Judgment, since they have His Word and His Law. But we thought little of what the good Shepherd was talking about. And the promise, "I will abide with you unto the end of all times," likewise passed dumbly by our hearts: we contented ourselves with the living presence of Christ with the dead ceremony alone, by which we were only ever losing the true Christ.
97,6. We put everything into matter; in the end, we imagined ourselves to be creators of Christ, and based on this heavenly power, we sinned against the Divine Love and mercy so much, that it was a shameful disgrace! Since the loving Christ did not profit us as much than would the strictest and most implacable, we ascribed all to His most absolute righteousness, rather than to entreat His eternal love and mercy as weak beings. And as we made Him so time-tolerant and profitable, so He has remained in our minds even to the present time.
97,7. Do you think, however, that the true Christ has really changed and shaped Himself in the way we foolishly shaped Him in us? Oh, no, my dear brethren! He, as He has been forever and ever, remained to this very present moment, the very Holy Father, and will remain forever and eternity.
97,8. He is still the same loving Friend who speaks to all: "Come to Me, all who are laborious and heavy laden, I will refresh you all." He is still the same Christ, who is crucified in Himself, His offenders, His Enemies, and tormentors, and forgave them all in the fullness of His Divine love.
97,9. O, friends and brothers! I would like to say that if a citizen of earth can commit a great and grave sin, then there can be no greater one than this, that someone could out of shameful earthly self-interest, fail to appreciate the unspeakable kindness and love of the Lord, as we have failed to recognize it.
97,10. Look, and consider the parable of the prodigal son. What action did he take to reconcile himself with his deeply grieved father? Nothing but the fact that he was driven and compelled by the highest, terrible need to return home to his father, to be the last servant there at most. But what did the father do? He met this returning son halfway. And as this man, coming to him, fell, and cried out to him his compelling desire, the father lifted him up as soon as he could, and pressed him to his holy breast, and immediately put on him the most magnificent garments, and ordered a great festive meal.
97,11. Tell me, dear brothers, have we ever looked at Christ from this point of view? We probably preached the prodigal son, but how? The lost son had to turn back by our confession, then by all sorts of impositions, which were not infrequently worse than the swine feed of the prodigal son abroad. If such a lost son really turned around, he found, nevertheless, instead of the only true, good father, nothing but us, which we have induced him to assume, and did not consider who the father is and where He is and whither the prodigal son should have turned!
97,12. So we did. But the good Father have never changed even a bit. We are nothing but such lost sons, who have prematurely squandered and whored the good things obtained from the Father on the earth. We have experienced our poverty outside the Father's house for a really long, bitter time. Let us go back and throw ourselves at His feet. Not that He should prepare us a delicious meal and receive us in great honors, but that we should be the very last in His Father's house, and should love Him from all our living power!
97,13. The monk says, O brother! What words have you now spoken, and what a heavenly balm have you poured into our hearts? Yes, you have spoken the eternal truth. Then we should, with the greatest joy and the greatest of love, await our most good and most holy Father, whom we have feared so much. Yes, my dear brother, I can assure you that you have completely taken away all fear for the Lord, so much so that I am no longer afraid of the most severe of judgments. For I know this, that I can dare to love such a most loving Christ. Because He is so infinitely goodand loving in Himself, I feel able to be happy everywhere, where I can always love Him, the Most Loving.
97,14. I thank you, dear brother, also in the name of all our brethren, that you have given us such glorious insight, which that loving, simple man certainly has given to you. I also give you the full assurance that I, and we all will love the true Christ, yes, will never cease ever to love, because He is so infinitely good and loving in Himself and out of Himself! Yes, therefore, whoever could not love Him would have to be, indeed, worse than the worst hellish devil. As I have formerly feared to appear before His face, from now on this will always be my most passionate wish, in my great unworthiness, to get to see the most holy Father only once.
97,15. O You my Christ, You! How much I love You now that I have come to know You better than on earth! Be merciful and graceful to me, poor sinner, and do not refuse me not the bliss, consisting of that I may love You with all my might, in whichever way Your mercy and Your holy will might take me. O, Lord! I forever do not long anything of you, for I am not even worthy of the least of mercy. Just let me love You, and if it is possible, let me dissolve in such love for You!
97,16. The Prior says, "My dear brother, tell me, after changing in your mind, how do you like my simple man, who has just come out from behind the foliage?
97,17. The monk says, "Dearest brother, this man has been very pleasing to me since his first appearance. I could follow him wherever he wanted, and if he were to station me here or there according to the Lord's will, I could hold myself like a rock on one spot for half an eternity, without shifting myself a hair's breadth. That would be a man I could fall around the neck and pour all my love on him. The Prior says, "What would you do if the Lord of all heavens and all the worlds would approach you in such simplicity?
97,18. The monk says, "To express such a feeling, the words in the breast would get stuck even in the throat of a most exalted, highest heavenly spirit! For it would be unbearably great if only a momentary bliss!
97,19. The Prior says, "Discuss this with the simple man yourself, who is now approaching us. This one will give you the best information, where, believe me, my brother, I will leave all my language in the lurch. I tell you, go, you are all going to meet this simple man. He will show you, like me, the true way to the Father and also the Father Himself! - I can not tell you more.
97,20. Now the simple man opens his arms and says, "Little child!" Come into the arms of your good Father, for I am the One whom you have feared so much!
97,21. A general outcry ensues, and all fall down before Him and weep out of too great a love for Him! And all that is heard of them is, O good Holy Father! So infinitely good are you! O that we can only love You so much as You are worthy of all love!
97,22. And behold, the LORD bows down to them, and lifts them all up, and says to them, Little children, listen and hear My righteous judgment, which is thus, Follow Me. For I, your only true, good Father, will lead you to the place of your ever-growing destiny in My kingdom. But not here in this place where there is still so much visible of your delusional thinking, but in a living, pure place, I will show you what you are to do, and how you are to love Me completely in spirit and in truth, and to worship Me in such Love as the only eternally true God! And so leave everything here, and follow Me.
97,23. Now see how the dear Father again brings home a little group of lost children, and we see how they follow Him, praising His Holy Name! - Let us also follow them, so that we can also see the complete unfolding.
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