August 10, 1539

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On August 10, 1539, the German Carthusian monk and ascetical writer John Justus of Landsberg passed away. He was born in 1489. His family name was Gerecht, of which Justus is merely a Latin translation. The appellation, however, by which he is generally known is that of Lanspergius (latinization ‘of Landsberg’), from his birthplace.
Although he is not a Carthusian saint, he is present in the Carthusian liturgy today. In fact, an extract from his book «Epistle of Jesus Christ to the faithful soul» is read at Matins. This is the text we share below.

Portrait of Lanspergius (18th c.)

If anyone reproaches or criticizes you, look mild and behave gently, keep your peace, and smile bashfully and modestly to show your charity which accepts everything in good part and takes all things well, without either thinking of revenge or remembering harm done. Be careful at such times not to speak more than two or three words, and do so very temperately. Be so humble that no one is afraid to reprove, displease or reproach you. When anyone checks or criticizes you, learn to keep silent, to bear it patiently, and then you will certainly find my grace.

You can never have my grace by any other means than by being quiet, and suffering patiently whatever I send to try you. My daughter and my spouse, you have my life as a perfect example of patience and meekness. It was not without reason that I said, Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart. My life is a model of patience, humility and meekness. Did I complain in the middle of afflictions and torments? Did I murmur amidst the derisions and blasphemies, and the cruel menaces of my enemies? Did I curse any of my foes? To which of them did I speak sharply? Which of them did I answer? To which of them did I wish any harm? No, I had rather compassion on them, and prayed for them all.

Have patience, in silence and quietness; remain gentle without murmuring or complaining. Don’t fight for yourself, or answer back. Don’t defend or excuse yourself. Hold your peace and commit yourself and your cause to my protection. I shall fight for you.

Keep close to me in all quietness without any perturbation or commotion in your soul, being ready quite gladly to suffer any confusion for my sake rather than inwardly in your mind or outwardly in your appearance to murmur in the least way against me. As long as you believe that you have been wronged, as long as you think that you have suffered unjustly, or that you have not deserved the things you are suffering, you have not reached true patience, or a perfect knowledge of yourself.

I want you always to be ready with a joyful and devout heart to run and meet any pain or adversity which happens to you, and to offer yourself to me as willing to suffer hardship and bear misery. Think any day wasted on which you have not received some cross. If you knew the merit acquired by patience, you would honour and show gratitude to those who afflict you. Consider how I, as an innocent lamb, did carry a most meek and quiet mind, without any bitterness to those who spat on me, scourged me and crucified me. But I excused them and prayed for them.

Source: Gill’s Spiritual Classics, trans. J. Griffiths, 1990, p. 108-109; An Epistle of JC, Transl. Philip, Burns Oates, 1926, p. 125-128. In: Lectionary for Matins – Sanctoral C – 10 August: Saint Lawrence, martyr – Saint Hugh’s Charterhouse (2021)

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