OF THE VIRTUE OF THE HOLY NAME OF JESU by Richard Rolle of Hampole

Transcribed from A Book of the Love of Jesus: A Collection of Ancient English Devotions in Prose and Verse compiled and edited by Robert Hugh Benson M.A. Priest of the Diocese of Westminster. London. 1915. The short introduction to the Meditation is from Lambeth MS. No. 853. The Meditation itself, consisting of extracts from the original, is mainly from the MS. Thornton, published in the “Library of Early English Writers.” It is a translation from the Latin, attributed to R. Rolle.

Introduction

If thou wilt to be with God, and to have grace to rule thy life, and to come to the joy of love ; this name Jesu—fasten it so fast in thine heart, that it come never out of thy thought. And when thou speakest to him, and sayest Jesu, through custom, it shall be in thine ear joy, and in thy mouth honey, and in thine heart melody. For thou shalt think joy to hear the name of Jesu named, sweetness to speak it, mirth and song to think on it. If thou think on Jesu continually and hold it stably, it purgeth thy sin, it kindleth thy heart, it clarifieth thy soul, it removeth anger, it doeth away slowness, it bringeth in love fulfilled of charity, it chaseth the devil, it putteth out dread, it openeth heaven, it maketh contemplative men. Have Jesu often in mind ; For all vices and phantoms it putteth from the lover of it. Also thereto hail Mary often, both day and night, and then much joy and love shalt thou feel. If thou do after this sort, thou needest not greatly covet many books. Hold love in heart and in work, and thou hast all that we may say or write ; for fulness of law is charity ; in that hangeth all.

The Meditation

Oleum effusum nomen tuum. That is in English, Ointment outpoured is thy name. This name is ointment outpoured, for Jesu, the Word of God, has taken man’s nature. Jesu, thou fulfillest in work what thou art called in name : (in truth he saves man, he whom we call Saviour,)—therefore Jesu is thy name.

Ah ! ah ! that wonderful name ! Ah ! that delightable name ! This is the name that is above all names, the highest name of all, without which no man hopes for health. This name is in mine ear heavenly sound, in my mouth honeyful sweetness.

Soothly, Jesu, desirable is thy name, lovable and comfortable. None so sweet joy may be conceived, none so sweet song may be heard, none so sweet and delightable solace may be had in mind.

Soothly, nothing so slackens fell flames ; destroys ill thoughts ; puts out venomous affections ; does away curious and vain occupations from us.

This name Jesu, leally holden in mind, draws out vices by the root ; plants virtues ; sows charity ; pours in savour of heavenly things ; wastes discord ; forms again peace ; gives lasting rest ; does away grievousness of fleshly desires ; turns all earthly things to nought ; fills the loving with ghostly joy.

Wherefore what can fail him that covets ever lastingly to love the name of Jesu ? Soothly he loves and he yearns for to love ; for we have known that the love of God stands in such manner that the more we love the more we long to love. Wherefore it is said, Qui edunt me adhuc esurient, et qui bibunt me adhuc sitiunt ; that is to say, They that eat me hunger yet, and they that drink me thirst yet.

Therefore itself delightable and covetable is the name of Jesu and the love of it. Therefore joy shall not fail him that covets busily for to love him whom angels yearn for to behold. Angels ever see and ever they yearn for to see ; and they are so filled that their filling does not away their desire, and so their desire does not away their filling.

Therefore, Jesu, all shall joy that love thy name. Soothly shall they joy now by the inpouring of grace, and in time to come by the sight of joy ; and therefore shall they joy, for that they love thy name. In sooth, were they not loved, they might not joy ; and they that love more shall joy more ; for why ?—joy comes of love.

Therefore he that loves not, he shall evermore be without joy.

Therefore many poor wretches of the world, trowing that they shall joy with Christ, shall sorrow without end ; and why ? For that they loved not the name of Jesu. Whatsoever ye do, if ye give all that ye have unto the needy, except ye love the name of Jesu ye travail in vain. They alone may joy in Jesu that love him in this life ; and they that fill them with vices and venomous delights, doubtless they shall be put out of joy.

Also know all that the name of Jesu is healthful, fruitful, and glorious. Therefore who shall have health that loves it not ? Or who shall bear the fruit before Christ, that has not the flower ? And joy shall he not see that in his joying loved not the name of Jesu. The wicked shall be done away, that he see not the joy of God.

Soothly the righteous seek the joy and the life, and they find it in Jesu whom they love.

I went about those covetous of riches, and I found not Jesu.

I ran by the fleshly wantons, and I found not Jesu.

I sat in companies of worldly mirth, and I found not Jesu.

In all these I sought Jesu, but I found him not ; for he let me wit by his grace that he is not found in the land of soft living.

Therefore I turned by another way, and I ran about by poverty ; and I found Jesu, pureborn in the world, laid in a crib and lapped in clothes.

I went by suffering of weariness, and I found Jesu weary in the way, tormented with hunger, thirsty and cold, filled with reproofs and blames.

I sat by myself, fleeing the vanities of the world, and I found Jesu fasting in the desert, praying alone in the mount.

I ran by the pain of penance, and I found Jesu bounden, scourged, given gall to drink, nailed to the cross, hanging on the cross, and dying on the cross.

Therefore Jesu is not found in riches, but in poverty : not in delights, but in penance : not in wanton joying, but in bitter weeping : not among many, but in loneliness.

Soothly an evil man finds not Jesu, for where he is he seeks him not. He endeavours to seek Jesu in the joy of the world, where never shall he be found.

Soothly therefore the name of Jesu is healthful, and need behoves that it be loved of all that covet salvation. He covets well his salvation that keeps busily in him the name of Jesu.

Soothly I have no wonder if the tempted fall, who put not in lasting mind the name of Jesu.

Safely may he (or such as he) choose to live alone, that has chosen the name of Jesu to his own possession ; for there may no wicked spirit do harm, where Jesu is much in mind or named in mouth.

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