It is necessary to mention here a great deception that often befalls those who begin to serve God. Sometimes they read in spiritual books how great the consolations of the Holy Spirit are and how sweet charity is and they think that the whole path to perfection is filled with delights and that there is no effort or fatigue involved. As a result, they prepare themselves for it as for something easy and pleasant and do not arm themselves for entering battle. They do not realize that while the love of God is in itself very sweet and delectable, the way to perfect charity is arduous, because to attain it, one must completely conquer self-love, and this involves a constant struggle against self. Thus, Isaiah says: “Shake yourself from the dust; arise, sit up, O Jerusalem.” In other words, the soul must shake off the dust of worldly affections and attachments and arise from its sins before it can enjoy the pleasure of seating itself in charity. However, God bestows marvelous consolations on those who faithfully struggle and on all those who trade the delights of earth for the joys of heaven. But if this barter is not made and a man does not want to surrender his spoils, this celestial refreshment will not be given to him. For we know that the heavenly manna was not given to the children of Israel until they had finished the grain that they had brought with them out of Egypt.
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