Four Great Dangers

Predigt zu Mariä Empfängnis, ca. 1340

We must guard against four things—four powers so dangerous and wicked they stand against us like jagged teeth.

They are the love of visible things, anger, delight in human reasoning, and pride in our accomplishments.

Many are so caught up in the love of visible and created things they ignore eternity. They pay no attention to their spiritual condition. Their own hearts are as unknown to them as some object a thousand miles away.

Others fall in anger on situations they do not understand. With loud, sharp, and unkind words they judge others, with their works and ways. But they are deceived and what they say is wrong.

Still others trust in the light of their own reasoning. They think they are wise, like God, and that they know everything. But what they know is what they imagine. The truth is far from them, and they never find the noble treasure of humility.

Last but not least come those that delight in their own abilities. They trust in their good looks, their talents, and the pleasures in which they indulge. But all these things are false and temporary. Like one nail must be driven out by another, we must drive out these things with the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Only as Christ comes into our lives does wickedness go out. Like God gave minerals and herbs to get rid of disease, he gave us his Son through whose sufferings and death he delivers us from the diseases of the soul.

Let us never forget this! Let us keep it in front of our eyes, lifting our hearts and minds to gaze on our Lord with holy longing and fear. The clearer, the plainer, the brighter we see him, the stronger, the quicker, the greater his work of conversion in us. The Lord may come to us in a flash, lighting up our hearts and taking control of our doings. Vividly conscious of his presence, we work from then on, or rest as we are moved of God, in him.

Johannes Tauler, ca. 1300-1361, Strasbourg, France

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