By Ludovicus Blosius (Louis De Blois), O.S.B., Abbott of Liessies
“Comfort, true and solid, is often the soul’s need.
The faint-hearted! How many there are! Truly may we say, the faint-hearted ‘we have always with us.’ …In the spiritual life success is, for the most part, invisible; the merit and reward is laid up in heaven far away; the failures are so many, so evident, so humbling, so wearisome, the cross so sore a weight, that discouragement with men of goodwill is one of the commonest as well as the most dangerous forms of temptation. We are all inclined to cry out in the anguish of our souls...
‘O when wilt Thou comfort me?’
‘Is there no balm in Galaad, or is there no physician there?”
Blosius answers this pitiful cry of the children of God by this book.”
So the Dominican translator prefaces this work in 1902; and he also tells us that “Not one word does he [Blosius] say to make men easy in their sins, or to promise them impunity if they cherish in their hearts wilful affection for any sin, however venial it may appear… All careful readers will recognise the wisdom of Blosius. He does not administer to our languid souls a mere stimulant to be followed by a reaction of still more hurtful sadness, depression and discouragement. This book, though full of sweetness, is a genuine tonic of lasting effect.”
The author himself tells us that he wrote it “for the comfort of men of goodwill, who, although they may formerly have sinned grievously, or even now offend often every day from human weakness, still have determination to amend their lives by the help of God’s grace, desire and strive to advance in a good and holy life, diligently trying to destroy within their souls all unruly love of created things.”
If this sounds like you, then this treatise, which covers an incredibly wide range of topics, filled with encouragement, guidance and medicine for consciences afflicted and desolate, or otherwise, will be a treasured reference!
The author draws heavily upon two Dominican authors of the German school of spiritual writers of the 14thcentury: Bl. Henry Suso and Dr. John Tauler; and to a lesser extent he quotes: St. Augustine, St. Bernard, St. Gregory, St. Ambrose and the Holy Scriptures. The former’s “A Short Prayer of a Friend of God” presented in this book, alone, is valuable, but that’s just the least of his very inspiring words to be found within these pages. Then, Tauler's works are well known as being the first that St. Francis de Sales directed St. Jane Frances de Chantal to read, and of whom St. John of the Cross studied carefully. And this will be of no wonder to you once you dip into this deeply edifying collection of his spiritual advice.
Forty chapters, each of between about one and five pages in length, will provide you nourishment for each day of Lent – or any other period.
Subjects widely vary for every challenge in life. Some examples of what chapters can be expected in this book, include:
- Of Scruples about Confession
- Impatience in the Time of Temptation and after Falling into Defects
- The Wondrous Mercy of God
- Comfort about Distractions in Prayer
- Resignation a kind of Martyrdom
- Of Dryness and the Absence of Sensible Devotion
- On the Causes and Fruits of Trials
- Other Comforts in Suffering
- Comfort about frequent Falls into Faults in Men of Good Will
- Death should not be too much feared
- Comfort about Temptations and Failings
It is difficult to convey the peace and tranquillity experienced whilst perusing this book, and thereafter whenever its contents are called to mind. I would wish this great benefit to be everyone’s!
An example of one of the many consoling reflections is in the chapter titled, Even imperfect Souls, persevering in humble Good Will, attain to a high degree of Union with God, wherein we are instructed:
“With our whole mind and with all possible love must we stretch forward to this goal, that we may be united to God, and may merit to become clear spiritual mirrors.
Therefore it is right that every one should try to draw with a strong hand the bow of good desire, that no moment may pass by in which he does not gain God more perfectly. For God will reward for ever the true desires of his soul, even if what he desires he should never obtain in this life. All his careless and lukewarm life God will judge in the light of the highest desire to which he ever attained in his life in this world.”
Finally, “A Letter: Written by the holy Abbot Blosius to a Friend,” occurring as a sort of Afterword, “is interesting for two reasons: first, because Blosius mentions the good effect wrought in the soul of the brother of the friend he is addressing, by his reading the ‘Comfort for the Faint-Hearted’; secondly, because it is such a characteristic letter, so clearly revealing the soul of Blosius, his zeal tempered with such extraordinary sweetness, gentleness, prudence, calmness and love. His spiritual character and direction bear a striking resemblance to that of St. Francis de Sales, whom he preceded by only a few years.”
Within this letter he encourages his friend regarding his brother, and we too as his brothers in Christ will similarly find solace when we read the likes of, “He does perfectly right in lamenting and grieving that in his past life he has so gravely and so frequently offended God; he must, however, take courage, and trust in the immense and most sweet mercy of God… ‘Whose property it is to have mercy and to spare’ those who humble themselves and ask pardon from their hearts.”
His beautiful letter closes, thus:
“Oh, what happiness to see God face to face! And, on the other hand, what extremity of misery to be deprived of that vision, to be cast into hell and there tormented for ever!
Farewell in the Lord, and pray for me.”