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Title: Abandonment - or Absolute Surrender to Divine Providence
Author: Caussade, J. P. de
Language: English
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                             Abandonment;


               Absolute Surrender to Divine Providence.


                            Posthumous Work

                                  OF

                     REV. J. P. DE CAUSSADE, S.J.


                       REVISED AND CORRECTED BY
                         Rev. H. RAMIÈRE, S.J.

              _Translated from the Eighth French Edition_

                                  BY

                          Miss ELLA McMAHON.


                 NEW YORK, CINCINNATI, AND ST. LOUIS:
                          BENZIGER BROTHERS,
                 _Printers to the Holy Apostolic See_.

      R. WASHBOURNE,                           M. H. GILL & SON,
 _18 Paternoster Row, London_.       _50 Upper O’Connell St., Dublin_.

                                 1887.


[Illustration: Coat of Arms of Archbishop of New York]


  Imprimatur,
               ☩ MICHAEL AUGUSTINE,
                          ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK.

  NEW YORK, Feb. 15, 1887.


                Copyright, 1887, by BENZIGER BROTHERS.



                               A PREFACE

                                ON THE

      _FOUNDATION AND TRUE NATURE OF THE VIRTUE OF ABANDONMENT_,

                         TO EXPLAIN AND DEFEND

                      FATHER CAUSSADE’S DOCTRINE.


There is no truth however clear which does not become error the moment
it is lessened or exaggerated; and there is no food however salutary
for the soul which may not, when ill-applied, become a fatal poison.

The virtue of abandonment does not escape this danger; the more holy
and profitable it is in itself the more serious are the dangers we risk
by misunderstanding its just limits.

These dangers, unfortunately, are not mere possibilities. The
seventeenth century witnessed the birth of a heresy,--that of the
Quietists,--which, while claiming to teach its followers perfect
abandonment to God, led them into the most terrible disorders. For a
time this sect wrought its ravages in the very capital of Catholicism,
and put forth such specious sophistries that the pious Fénelon himself,
while abhorring the practical consequences drawn from this teaching,
was for a time misled by its false appearance of perfection.

To preserve Father Caussade’s readers from these dangers, we think it
well to add to these writings a succinct exposition of the rules which
should guide us in a matter so delicate. By the light of the principles
jointly furnished us by reason and faith, we shall have no difficulty
in determining the just limits which should mark our abandonment to
divine Providence; and it will be easy for us afterwards to elucidate
the points in our author’s doctrine which might be wrongly interpreted.


I.

Father Caussade explains very clearly in his “Letters” the two
principles which form the unalterable basis of the virtue of
abandonment.

First principle: Nothing is done, nothing happens, either in the
material or in the moral world, which God has not foreseen from all
eternity, and which He has not willed, or at least permitted.

Second principle: God can will nothing, He can permit nothing, but in
view of the end He proposed to Himself in creating the world; _i.e._,
in view of His glory and the glory of the Man-God, Jesus Christ, His
only Son.

To these two principles laid down by our author we shall add a third,
which will complete the elucidation of this whole subject: As long as
man lives upon earth, God desires to be glorified through the happiness
of this privileged creature; and consequently in God’s designs the
interest of man’s sanctification and happiness is inseparable from the
interest of the divine glory.

If we do not lose sight of these principles, which no Christian can
question, we shall understand that our confidence in the Providence of
our Father in heaven cannot be too great, too absolute, too childlike.
If nothing but what He permits happens, and if He can permit nothing
but what is for our happiness, then we have nothing to fear, except
not being sufficiently submissive to God. As long as we keep ourselves
united with Him and we walk after His designs, were all creatures to
turn against us they could not harm us. He who relies upon God becomes
by this very reliance as powerful and as invincible as God, and created
powers can no more prevail against him than against God Himself.

This confidence in the fatherly providence of God cannot, evidently,
dispense us from doing all that is in our power to accomplish His
designs; but after having done all that depends upon our efforts we
will abandon ourselves completely to God for the rest.

This abandonment should extend, in fact, to everything--to the past, to
the present, to the future; to the body and all its conditions; to the
soul and all its miseries, as well as all its qualities; to blessings;
to afflictions; to the good will of men, and to their malice; to the
vicissitudes of the material, and the revolutions of the moral, world;
to life and to death; to time and to eternity.

However, as these different orders of things do not enter in the
same manner in the designs of divine Providence, neither should our
abandonment in regard to these be practised in the same manner; and
the rules which we should follow in the practice of this virtue should
be founded on the nature itself of the objects which call it forth. We
shall indicate the principal ones.

I. Among all the dispositions to which our abandonment can be applied,
there are first, those which depend solely upon God, where human
liberty has no part either in producing or averting them. Such are, for
example, certain scourges, and vicissitudes of the atmosphere; certain
accidents impossible to foresee, certain natural defects of body or
soul.

In regard to facts of this order, whether of the past, present, or
future, it is evident that our abandonment cannot be too absolute.

There is nothing to do here but to passively and lovingly endure all
that God sends us; to blindly accept in advance all that it may please
Him to send us in the future. Resistance would be useless, and only
serve to make us unhappy; a loving and frequently renewed acceptance,
on the contrary, would make these inevitable sufferings very
meritorious. And oh, the marvels of God’s goodness! Our abandonment
will not only sanctify and fructify real trials; it will enable us to
derive great merit from trials to which we shall never be subjected.
For, if we lovingly accept these trials when they present themselves to
our minds as probable, or simply possible, this willing acquiescence,
this _fiat_ uttered in the depths of the heart, cannot fail to please
God, and be very useful to our souls. Therefore, in regard to this
first order of events, the practice of abandonment cannot but be very
sanctifying, as it changes into means of sanctification not only real
but even purely imaginary trials.

       *       *       *       *       *

II. There are other sufferings which come to us through the malice of
creatures: persecutions, calumnies, ill-treatment, neglect, injustice,
and offences of every kind. What are we to do when we find ourselves
exposed to vexatious things of this sort?

1st. We evidently cannot like the offence against God with which they
are accompanied; we should, on the contrary, deplore and detest it, not
because it wounds our self-love, but because it is an offence against
the divine rights, and compromises the salvation of the offending souls.

2d. As for that which concerns us, on the contrary, we should regard
as a blessing that which is in itself an evil; and to do this we need
only recall the principles previously laid down: not to look only at
the creature who is the immediate cause of our sufferings, but to raise
our eyes higher and behold God, who has foreseen and permitted them
from all eternity, and who in permitting them had only our happiness in
view. This thought will be sufficient to dissipate the bitterness and
trouble which would take possession of our hearts were we to look only
at the injustice of which we are the victims.

3d. In regard to the effects of this injustice already consummated
and irreparable, we have only to resign ourselves as lovingly as
possible, and carefully gather their precious fruits. It is frequently
not difficult to divine the spiritual fruits God destined for us
in exposing us to temporal evils: to detach us from creatures; to
deliver us from inordinate affections, from our pride, from our
tepidity,--veritable maladies of the soul, frequently all the more
dangerous that they are less perceptible, and of which the heavenly
Physician wishes to cure us, using the malice of our neighbor as a
sharp instrument. We do not hesitate to endure much greater sufferings
to be delivered from corporal infirmities; then let us gratefully
accept the spiritual health, infinitely more precious, which God offers
us, however disagreeable the instrument through which He gives it to us.

4th. If it is in our power to avert the consequences of malice and
injustice, and if in our true interest, and in the interest of the
divine glory, we deem it necessary to take any measures to this end,
let us do so without departing from the practice of the holy virtue of
abandonment. Let us commit the success of our efforts to God, and be
ready to accept failure if God judges it more suitable to His designs
and more profitable to our souls. We are so blind that we always have
reason to fear being deceived; but God cannot be deceived, and we may
be certain, in advance, that what He determines will be best. Therefore
we cannot do better than abandon with fullest confidence the result of
our efforts to Him.

       *       *       *       *       *

III. But should this abandonment extend equally to our acts of
imprudence, to our faults, and all the annoyances of every kind in
which they may result?

It is important to distinguish here two things which self-love tends to
confound. In the fault itself we must distinguish what is culpable and
what is humiliating. Likewise in its consequences we must distinguish
what is detrimental to the divine glory and the confusion inflicted on
our self-love. Evidently we cannot hate too much the fault, properly so
called, nor regret too keenly the injury done to the divine glory. But
as for our humiliation, and the confusion inflicted on our self-love,
we should rejoice, and acquiesce in it with complete abandonment.
This kind of sacrifice is undoubtedly the best fitted to destroy in
us the most secret fibres of self-love, and to cause us to make rapid
progress in virtue. To souls who have attained a certain degree of
regularity and detachment, exterior humiliations are very little. When
we have learned the vanity of human glory, we easily endure the sting
of contempt; but we may still unite with this exterior detachment great
attachment to our own esteem and approbation, and a wholly egotistical
desire of perfection. In this case, self-love, by changing its object,
would only become more subtle and more dangerous. To destroy it, there
is no remedy more efficacious than the humiliation resulting from our
faults; and we cannot, consequently, strive too earnestly to apply the
practice of abandonment to this humiliation, endeavoring at the same
time to correct the faults themselves.

And what we say of faults of the past applies equally to faults of the
future. The practice of abandonment well understood should deliver us
from that impatience which makes us wish to at once attain the summit
of perfection, and which only serves to keep us from it by turning us
from the only path which leads to perfection. This path is humility,
and the impatience which we are censuring is only another form of
pride. Let us make every effort to correct our faults; but let us be
resigned to not seeing them all disappear in a day. Let us earnestly,
and with the most filial confidence, ask God to grant us that decisive
grace which will completely wrest us from ourselves, to make us
live only in Him; but let us leave to Him, with an equally filial
abandonment, the care of determining the day and hour in which this
grace shall be given us.

With still greater reason should we abandon to God the determining
of the degree of sanctity which we shall attain upon earth, the
extraordinary graces which will accompany this sanctity here below,
and the glory with which it will be crowned in heaven. In as far as
it depends upon us, we should leave nothing undone to increase this
sanctity and this glory, in order not to fall short of the degree
God has marked for us; but if we must earnestly devote ourselves to
realizing His designs, we must not desire to have them other than they
are. If our love for God is what it should be, we will thank Him for
having granted other souls favors that He has refused us, and we will
praise Him no less for our poverty than for our riches.

       *       *       *       *       *

IV. Should our abandonment go still farther? Should we, in view of
the hypothesis--perfectly possible, alas!--of our damnation, resign
ourselves thereto, and thus make to God the complete and absolute
sacrifice of all our own interests?

To this point would Fénelon have carried the purity of love and the
perfection of abandonment; and he did not lack plausible motives with
which to support this doctrine. He drew from the example and the
writings of the Saints arguments still more specious to prove that God
frequently requires this complete sacrifice of elect souls; and that to
obtain it He impresses them with an irresistible conviction of their
eternal loss. According to this great prelate, divine love is only
perfect in souls who have gone through this trial without faltering,
and who by a sacrifice have renounced, at least hypothetically, all
their own interest, even that of their eternal salvation.

But the Church has condemned this doctrine which, in proposing to man a
perfection contrary to his nature, reverses the order of God’s designs.
How, in fact, can perfection consist in destroying the most essential
law of our moral nature, viz., that irresistible inclination which
leads us to seek our happiness? How could love of God require that we
rob God of one of His attributes--the one which makes Him the supreme
object of our beatitude? How could one of the theological virtues
be contrary to another, and charity exclude hope? What is eternal
happiness if not the eternal reign of pure love? and how could the
pure love of time consist in excluding, even hypothetically, from our
desires the pure love of eternity?

That which perfect abandonment asks is that we observe in our desires
the order of God’s designs. God created all things for His glory
first; and secondly, but inseparably, for our happiness. Let us do as
He does: let us never separate the interest of His glory from that of
our happiness, but let us always make the second subordinate to the
first. Let us love God as the object of our beatitude, but let us love
Him above all for His infinite goodness. Let us desire and hope for our
eternal happiness; but since this happiness, when we shall enjoy it,
must result from the love of God for Himself, let us begin now to seek
it as it must be when we realize it, and refer the desire of it, as we
will one day refer its enjoyment, to the glory of this great God who
desires to be all in all things.

Thus, at one and the same time, we can practise charity and hope,
seek the glory of God and our own happiness, fill the designs of our
Creator, and satisfy the deepest and most imperative needs of our
nature.

The saints did not do otherwise; and Father Caussade, in one of his
letters, proves very clearly that the formulas of apparent despair that
they have sometimes used in the transports of their cruel sufferings
contained in reality acts of the most meritorious confidence. Elsewhere
he also shows most perfectly how ill-founded is this even hypothetic
separation between God’s interests and our true interests; and he
justly concludes therefrom that perfection cannot consist in supposing
this separation and sacrificing the interest of our eternal happiness
to that of the divine glory.


II.

We have no reason, therefore, to fear that in reading Father Caussade’s
treatise we are liable to confound, at least in this respect, the
abandonment he recommends with the Quietism condemned in Fénelon.

Is our author equally irreproachable in all the other points of his
doctrine? Might he not be accused of turning his readers from duties
which require labor and effort to keep them in an indolent repose?

There would be ground for this reproach if Father Caussade promised
to give his readers a complete treatise on Christian and religious
perfection; but this he does not do. He addresses himself to souls
already advanced in virtue and accustomed not only to faithfully
fulfil the essential precepts of Christianity, but also to observe
the prescriptions of religious discipline. Like the young man in
the Gospel who from his youth had kept the commandments, and who
begged our Saviour to show him a higher perfection, these souls ask
Father Caussade what they must do to sanctify themselves after having
accomplished all the duties imposed upon their free will. The man
of God answers them like our Saviour: If you would be perfect, rid
yourself of all that may still cling to you of attachment to your
own interests, your own ideas, your own will, and abandon yourself
completely to God. Practise the virtue of abandonment; practise it so
habitually that it will become the constant state of your soul: thus
you will cease to live to yourself, to live only in God.

This is a summary of the book we are re-editing to-day. To understand
it we must bear in mind, as we read it, the situation of the author,
and that of the souls to whom his counsels are addressed; viz., that
it is not, as we have already said, a complete treatise of Christian
perfection which he has claimed to write; his only object was to set
forth the advantages of a special virtue and a particular state. It is
true that this virtue is one of the most essential bases of sanctity,
and that this state is sanctity itself as far as it is attainable on
earth. But it is no less true that Father Caussade had no idea whatever
of telling all Christians what they should do to save their souls.
Therefore it would be a serious mistake to believe ourselves dispensed
from all duties of which he makes no mention, in order to devote
ourselves only to this great duty of abandonment, the importance of
which he so justly and eloquently portrays.

To avoid this dangerous error, and reap all the profit of this true
and very consoling doctrine of Father Caussade, it will be sufficient
to cast a general glance over the divine economy in the salvation of
souls, and to see what place abandonment to divine Providence occupies
in this great work.

We all know that sanctification is a work both divine and human. It is
divine through its immediate principle, the Holy Spirit; through its
meritorious cause, the Incarnation and the death of the Son of God;
through its end, the happiness of the Holy Trinity, in which holy souls
are to participate for all eternity; finally, through its chief means,
the teachings and the graces of Jesus Christ transmitted to men through
the Church.

But this work is human also, since the graces of the Holy Spirit, the
merits of the Son of God, the designs of the Holy Trinity, and all
the efforts of Providence can bear fruit in a soul only as far as she
freely co-operates with them.

This co-operation in our sanctification which God requires of us is
composed of three parts.

It consists first of all in the destruction of everything in our
corrupt nature which is an obstacle to the divine action: sins, vices,
sensible inclinations, defects, imperfections. This first labor is
what the masters of the spiritual life call the _purgative way_. It
is accomplished by examinations of conscience, works of penance and
mortification, and the various practices in use in the Church.

The second part of the labor which God imposes on the soul desirous
to attain sanctity is less painful, and easier. It is what is called
the _illuminative way_. The soul that God introduces therein exercises
herself in producing the interior acts of virtue with which grace
inspires her, and in practicing the good works to which this same grace
impels her.

Finally, when the obstacles are removed and the soul’s preparation
is completed, God unites Himself to her, fills her with His grace,
inflames her with His love, and uses her as a docile instrument for the
accomplishment of His designs: this is the _unitive way_.

But let us not misapprehend this condition. Even in this perfect state
in which God is fully master of His reasonable creature, He does not
act in her without her co-operation; He requires of her great fidelity
in avoiding the smallest faults, great vigilance over her affections,
great generosity in denying herself in all things, great fervor in
prayer. So far from dispensing her from the works of the illuminative
way by which she prepared herself for the divine union, He causes her
to accomplish them with greater perfection and merit.

Among these works common to the two ways of which we have just spoken,
there are some which are strictly of obligation, either because they
are prescribed to all Christians by the commandments of God and
the Church, or because they are imposed on each one by the special
circumstances of his state. There are others which are simply of
counsel, or even purely of supererogation, and which each one embraces
according to his more or less ardent desire of sanctification. In the
same way, among the works of penance which form the purgative way there
are some from which no one can dispense himself; but there are others
which, without being of absolute necessity, are more or less useful, or
even relatively necessary to certain souls, because of their particular
position, and the violence of the inclinations which impel them to
evil.

Such is man’s threefold part in the beginning, progress, and
consummation of the eminently divine work of sanctification--a part
essentially active, and so necessary that without it God’s part would
be hopelessly sterile. Father Caussade, however, says very little of
it in his book. Does he doubt its immense importance and absolute
necessity? Far from it. On the contrary, in many passages he is careful
to warn us that the _passiveness_ which he recommends to the soul in
no way dispenses her from the very active accomplishment of all that
is _duty_, whether general or special. He adds that the souls who walk
in the ordinary ways should not dispense themselves from the practices
of supererogation in use in the Church among pious persons, and from
following the rules traced by the masters of the spiritual life.
Even upon persons who have reached the passive state he imposes the
obligation of actively following the inspirations of grace when they
lead to action, and of doing all to which they are impelled by grace.

Why, then, after making these reservations in some parts of his
work does he seem to forget them, to solely extol the advantages of
abandonment to the divine action? We have already said why: because the
souls to whom he addressed himself, long exercised in the practice of
active virtue, had special need to perfect themselves in this passive
abandonment.

How many such souls there are in religious communities, or even in
the midst of the world, who have no need to be urged to activity in
the pursuit of sanctity, but who, on the contrary, need above all
things to learn to let God act in them! Father Caussade addresses
himself specially to these souls. Had his book no other result than
to enlighten them upon God’s real designs concerning them, to deliver
them from their disquieting agitation in order to introduce them into
a broad and peaceful path, and enable them to find powerful means of
salvation in unfortuitous events which they regard as obstacles, we
should still believe that in offering this work to them we are doing
them an eminent service.

But the salutary teaching of this book is not limited to a special
class of persons. Though written specially for souls who have already
attained a high degree of perfection, the doctrine it develops is
suited to all Christians. It makes it clear to all that if God does
not dispense them from laboring actively for their salvation, He takes
upon Himself the greatest part of this work; that He unceasingly labors
thereon; that He employs all creatures and all events to further it;
and that if they will only permit Him to do His will,--without doing
any more than they are doing, without suffering any more than they are
suffering, but only by recognizing and loving God’s action in things
which He obliges them to do and suffer, they will amass infinite merits
and attain great perfection.

Thus Father Caussade does not suppress our active co-operation in the
work of our sanctification, but he teaches us to profit much better
than we do of God’s part therein, by abandoning ourselves more to
Him. In events where too frequently we see only misfortunes, because
we regard them as more or less reprehensible effects of the malice
or the imperfection of creatures, he teaches us to see the divine
love using these same creatures as instruments either to correct our
vices or to cause us to practise virtue. Therefore he changes the
principal obstacles to the success of this great work into means of
sanctification, and teaches us the art of changing creatures the most
indifferent or the most hostile into powerful auxiliaries. With good
reason does he desire to be able to inculcate this doctrine in men of
all conditions; for there is no doubt that, if they understood it well,
sanctity would seem to them much more attainable; and that, seeing
God laboring unceasingly upon this work, they would fulfil with much
greater courage the duties imposed upon their free will.

  H. RAMIÈRE, S.J.



CONTENTS.

                                                PAGE

  PREFACE BY REV. H. RAMIÈRE, S.J.                 3

  BOOK FIRST.

  _OF THE NATURE AND EXCELLENCE OF THE
  VIRTUE OF HOLY ABANDONMENT._

  CHAPTER

  I. The sanctity of the righteous of the Old Law,
  and of Joseph and of Mary herself, consisted
  in fidelity to the order of God                 31

  II. The duties of each moment are the shadows
  which veil the divine action                    33

  III. How much easier sanctity becomes when
  studied from this point of view                 36

  IV. Perfection does not consist in knowing the
  order of God, but in submitting to it           42

  V. Reading and other exercises only sanctify us
  in so far as they are the channels of the
  divine action                                   44

  VI. The mind and other human means are useful
  only in so far as they are the instruments of
  the divine action                               49

  VII. There is no enduring peace but in submission
  to the divine action                            52

  VIII. The perfection of souls and the excellence of
  different states are in proportion to their conformity
  to the order of God                             54

  IX. All the riches of grace are the fruit of purity of
  heart and perfect self-abandonment              62


  BOOK SECOND.

  _THE DIVINE ACTION AND THE MANNER IN
  WHICH IT UNCEASINGLY WORKS THE
  SANCTIFICATION OF SOULS._

  CHAPTER                                       PAGE

  I. The divine action is everywhere and always
  present, though only visible to the eye of
  Faith                                           69

  II. The divine action is all the more visible to the
  eye of Faith when hidden under appearances
  most repugnant to the senses                    74

  III. The divine action offers us at each moment
  infinite blessings which we receive in proportion
  to our faith and love                           79

  IV. God reveals Himself to us as mysteriously, as
  adorably, and with as much reality in the
  most ordinary events as in the great events of
  history and the Holy Scriptures                 82

  V. The divine action continues in our hearts the
  revelation begun in Holy Scripture; but the
  characters in which it is written will be only
  visible at the last day                         86

  VI. Divine love is communicated to us through
  the veil of creatures, as Jesus communicates
  Himself to us through the veil of the Eucharistic
  species                                         92

  VII. The divine action, the will of God, is as unworthily
  treated and disregarded, in its daily
  manifestation, by many Christians, as was
  Jesus in the flesh by the Jews                  94

  VIII. The revelation of the present moment is the
  more profitable that it is addressed directly
  to us                                           97

  IX. The revelation of the present moment is an inexhaustible
  source of sanctity                              99

  X. The present moment is the manifestation of the
  name of God and the coming of His kingdom      101

  XI. The divine will imparts the highest sanctity
  to souls; they have but to abandon themselves
  to its divine action                           106

  XII. The divine action alone can sanctify us, for
  it forms us after the divine Model of our
  perfection                                     114


  BOOK THIRD.

  _THE PATERNAL CARE WITH WHICH GOD
  SURROUNDS SOULS WHOLLY ABANDONED
  TO HIM._

  CHAPTER                                       PAGE

  I. God Himself guides souls who wholly abandon
  themselves to Him                              119

  II. The more God seems to withdraw light from
  the soul abandoned to His direction, the more
  safely He guides her                           125

  III. The afflictions with which God visits the soul
  are but loving artifices at which she will one
  day rejoice                                    129

  IV. The more God seems to take from a soul wholly
  abandoned to Him, the more generous He is
  to her                                         133

  V. The less capable the faithful soul is of defending
  herself, the more powerfully does God
  defend her                                     136

  VI. The soul abandoned to the will of God, so far
  from resisting its enemies, finds in them useful
  auxiliaries                                    140

  VII. The soul that abandons itself to God has no
  need to justify herself by words or actions;
  the divine action abundantly justifies her     142

  VIII. God gives life to the soul abandoned to Him
  by means which apparently lead only to
  death                                          144

  IX. Love holds the place of all things to souls who
  walk in the way of abandonment                 149

  X. The faithful soul finds in submission to the will
  of God more force and strength than the
  proudest of those who resist Him               154

  XI. The soul abandoned to God learns to recognize
  His will, even in the proud who resist Him.
  All creatures, whether good or evil, reveal
  Him to her                                     158

  XII. God assures to faithful souls a glorious victory
  over the powers of earth and hell              160


  APPENDIX.
                                                PAGE

  I. A very easy means of acquiring peace of heart,
  by Fr. Surin                                   165

  II. On perfect abandonment, by Bossuet         172

  III. A short and easy method of making the prayer
  of faith, and of the simple presence of God,
  by Bossuet                                     173

  IV. Exercise of loving union of our will with that
  of God, by St. Francis de Sales                185

  V. Acts of abandonment                         188



Book First.

The Nature and Excellence of the Virtue of Holy Abandonment.



_CHAPTER I._

 The Sanctity of the Righteous of the Old Law, and of Joseph and of
 Mary herself, consisted in Fidelity to the Order of God.


God speaks to-day as He spoke to our fathers, when directors were
not so numerous, nor methods of direction so well defined. All their
spirituality consisted in simple fidelity to the order of God; but
it was not reduced to a science which explained it so sublimely or
minutely, or contained so many precepts, so many maxims, so much
instruction. Our present wants, no doubt, require this explanation. It
was not so in the first ages of the Church, when men were more simple
and upright. Each moment brought a duty to be faithfully fulfilled:
this was sufficient for interior souls of that day. Their whole
attention was concentrated simply upon the duty of each successive
moment with the fidelity of the hour-hand of a clock which steadily
traverses stroke by stroke the circle in which it is appointed to move.
The mind, unceasingly moved by divine grace, turned insensibly to the
new duty which presented itself in the order of God every hour. Such
were the hidden springs of Mary’s life, the most perfect example of
simple and absolute self-abandonment to the will of God. The simple
words, _Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum_, with which she was content to
answer the angel, expressed all the mystic theology of the ancients.
Then, as now, it was all reduced to the simplest and most absolute
abandonment of the soul to the will of God under whatever form it
manifested itself. This noble and exalted disposition, the basis of
all Mary’s spirituality, is brilliantly manifested in the words _Fiat
mihi_. Observe how perfectly they accord with those which our Lord
would have ever on our lips and in our hearts: _Fiat voluntas tua_.
True, the duty required of Mary at that supreme moment was a glorious
one for her. But all the splendor of that glory would have made no
impression upon her if the divine will, alone capable of influencing
her, had not arrested her attention. It was this divine will which
guided her in everything. Her occupations, whether ordinary or exalted,
were in her eyes but shadows more or less obscure in which she found
equal means of glorifying God and recognizing the workings of the
Almighty. She joyfully accepted the duty or suffering of each moment
as a gift from Him who fills with good things the hearts which are
nourished by Him alone, and not by appearances or created things.



_CHAPTER II._

 The Duties of each Moment are the Shadows which veil the Divine Action.


“_The power of the Most High shall overshadow thee_,” said the angel to
Mary.

This shadow, behind which the power of God effects the entrance and
growth of Jesus Christ in our souls, is the form assumed by the duties,
attractions, and crosses of each moment.

They are in truth but shadows like those to which we give the name in
the order of nature, and which envelop sensible objects and hide them
from our view. Thus in the moral and supernatural order the duties
of each moment under their obscure appearances conceal the truth of
the divine will, which alone merits our attention. Thus Mary regarded
them. Therefore these shadows passing before her senses, so far from
deceiving her, filled her with faith in Him who is always the same.
Withdraw, Archangel; thy moment passes; thou vanishest. Mary passes
beyond thee; she is ever in advance; but the Holy Ghost, with whom she
has been filled through the sensible appearances of thy mission, will
never abandon her.

There are few extraordinary events in the exterior life of Mary. At
least it is not to these that Holy Scripture calls our attention.
Her exterior life is represented as very simple, very ordinary. She
did and suffered as did others of her condition. She goes to visit
her cousin Elizabeth: the other relatives go also. She retires to a
stable: it is a consequence of her poverty. She returns to Nazareth:
the persecution of Herod had driven her forth. Jesus and Joseph lived
there with her, by the labor of their hands. Behold the daily bread of
the holy family! But with what bread was the faith of Mary and Joseph
nourished? What was the sacrament of all their sacred moments? What
did they discover under the ordinary appearance of the events which
filled their lives? Exteriorly, nothing more than was happening to the
rest of mankind; interiorly, faith discovers and develops nothing less
than God working great things. O bread of angels! Heavenly manna! Pearl
of the Gospel! Sacrament of the present moment! Thou givest God under
appearances as poor and mean as the manger, the hay, and the straw!
But to whom dost thou give Him? _Esurientes reples bonis._ God reveals
Himself to the humble in little things; and the proud, regarding only
the exterior, find Him not even in great things.



_CHAPTER III._

 How much Easier Sanctity becomes when studied from this Point of View.


If the work of our salvation offers obstacles apparently so
insurmountable, it is because we have not a just idea of it. In truth,
sanctity consists in but one thing--fidelity to the order of God; and
this fidelity is equally within the reach of all, whether in its active
or in its passive part.

The active part of fidelity consists in fulfilling the duties imposed
upon us either by the general commands of God and the Church, or by the
particular state we have embraced.

Its passive part consists in lovingly accepting all that God sends us
each moment.

Which of these two parts of sanctity is above our strength? Not the
active part, since the duties it enjoins cease to be duties for us the
moment our strength is really unequal to them. Will not the state of
your health permit you to hear Mass? You are no longer obliged to do
so. And so it is with all positive obligations which prescribe duties
to be fulfilled. Only those precepts which forbid things evil in
themselves admit of no exception, for it is never permitted to do evil.

Is there anything easier or more reasonable? What excuse can be urged
against it? Yet this is all the co-operation God requires of the soul
in the work of its sanctification.

He requires it of great and small, of strong and weak; in a word, of
all, at all times, in all places.

Therefore He only requires of us what is easy, since to attain eminent
sanctity requires but a simple good-will.

If over and above the commandments He shows us the counsels as the more
perfect end of our efforts, He is ever careful to accommodate their
observance to our position and character. As the chief mark of our
vocation for the counsels He sends us the attractions and graces which
facilitate the practice of them. He urges no one but in proportion to
his strength and according to his attainments. Again I ask, what could
be more just?

O you who aspire to perfection and are tempted to discouragement by
what you read in the lives of the saints and find prescribed in certain
pious books! O you who are overwhelmed by the terrible ideas that you
form of perfection! It is for your consolation that God permits that I
write this.

Learn what you seem not to know.

In the order of nature, necessary things, as air, water, earth, the God
of all goodness has made common and easy of attainment. Nothing is more
necessary than breath, sleep, food, and nothing is more common. Love
and fidelity are no less necessary in the spiritual order; therefore
the difficulty of acquiring them cannot be as great as you represent it
to yourselves.

Observe your life; of what does it consist? Of a multitude of
unimportant actions. Yet with these same unimportant actions God deigns
to be content. This is the co-operation required of the soul in the
work of its perfection. God Himself expresses it too clearly to admit
of doubt: “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is all man”
(Eccles. xii. 13). That is to say, this is all that is required on
man’s part; in this consists his active fidelity. Let him fulfil his
part; God will do the rest. Grace, working by itself, effects marvels
which surpass the intelligence of man. For ear has not heard, eye has
not seen, heart has not felt, what God conceives in His mind, resolves
in His will, executes by His power in souls wholly abandoned to Him.

The passive part of sanctity is still easier, since it consists in
accepting what very often we cannot avoid, and bearing with love, that
is, with consolation and sweetness, what we too frequently endure
with weariness and irritation. Again let me repeat, herein lies all
sanctity. It is the grain of mustard-seed the fruits of which we do not
gather, because we fail to recognize it in its littleness. It is the
drachma of the Gospel, the treasure which we do not find, do not seek,
because we imagine it too far beyond us.

Ask me not the secret of finding this treasure, for secret there is
none. This treasure is everywhere; it is offered to all, at all times,
in all places.

Through creatures, friends, and enemies it flows plentifully; it
flows over the faculties of our bodies, of our souls, and into the
very centre of our hearts. Let us but open our mouths and they will
be filled. The divine action floods the universe; it penetrates all
creatures; it floats above them, about them; it is ever present with
them; it precedes them; it accompanies them; it follows them, and they
have but to allow themselves to be borne onward on its tide.

Would to God kings and their ministers, princes of the Church and of
the world, priests, soldiers, peasants, laborers, in a word, all men,
knew how easily they can attain eminent sanctity! They have but to
fulfil the simple duties of religion and their state in life, and bear
with submission the crosses these duties bring, and accept with faith
and love the work and suffering which unsought and unceasingly come to
them through the order of Providence. This is the spirituality which
sanctified the patriarchs and prophets before there were so many
methods and so many masters in the spiritual life.[1]

 [1] It would be a gross misapprehension of the author’s words to
 suppose that he wishes to urge souls to enter the paths of the
 spiritual life without a director. He himself expressly states
 elsewhere that to be able to do without a director, one must have been
 long and skilfully directed. Still less does he wish to discourage
 the practices adopted by the Church for the extirpation of vice and
 the acquisition of virtue. What he desires to say, and what we cannot
 impress too much upon Christians, is that the first of all directions
 is the guidance of Providence, and that the most necessary and the
 most perfect of all practices is the faithful accomplishment and
 loving acceptance of all that this fatherly Providence sends us to do
 and suffer.

This is the spirituality of all ages and of all states, which cannot be
more surely sanctified, or in a manner more noble, more extraordinary,
more easy, than by the simple use of that which God, the Sovereign
Director of souls, gives them each moment to do or suffer.



_CHAPTER IV._

 Perfection does not consist in knowing the Order of God, but in
 submitting to it.


The order of God, the good pleasure of God, the will of God, the action
of God, the grace of God, all these are one and the same thing in this
life. It is God laboring to render the soul like unto Him. Perfection
is nothing but the soul’s faithful co-operation in this labor of
God. This work is silently effected in our souls, where it thrives,
increases, and is consummated unconsciously to ourselves.

Theology is full of conceptions and expressions which explain the
wonders of this work effected in individual souls according to their
capacity.

We may know all the theory of this work, admirably write and speak
thereon, and instruct and direct souls; but if our knowledge be only
theoretical, then I say that in comparison with souls which live and
act by the order of God and are guided by His divine will, though
ignorant of the theory of its operations or its different effects,
and unable to speak thereof, we are like a sick physician compared to
ordinary persons in perfect health.

The order of God, His divine will, received with simplicity by a
faithful soul, effects this divine work in her unconsciously to
herself, just as a remedy submissively taken restores the health of a
sick man, although he have not, and need not have, any knowledge of
medicine.

It is the fire which warms us, and not the philosophical knowledge of
the element and its effects; so it is the order of God, His divine
will, and not the curious speculation on its principles and its
methods, which produces the sanctification of our souls.

If we thirst, we must drink; theoretical explanations will not quench
our thirst. Curiosity for knowledge only makes us thirst still more.
Therefore, if we thirst for sanctification, curious speculations only
keep us farther from it. We must abandon all theories and drink in
simplicity of all that the will of God sends us of work and suffering.

That which comes to us each moment by the order of God is best and
holiest and most divine for us.



_CHAPTER V._

 Reading and other Exercises only sanctify us in so far as they are the
 Channels of the Divine Action.


All our science consists in recognizing God’s will in regard to the
present moment. All reading pursued in any other spirit than that of
submission to the order of God is injurious. The will of God, the order
of God, is the grace which works in the depths of our hearts by means
of our readings and by all our other works. Without it our readings
are but shadows, vain appearances, which, coming to us devoid of the
vivifying virtue of the order of God, serve only to empty the heart by
the very plenitude they cause in the mind.

The virtue of this divine will flowing into the soul of a simple,
ignorant girl by means of suffering or ordinary actions, effects in
the depths of her heart this mysterious work of the supernatural Being
without filling her mind with any idea likely to awaken pride; while
the proud man who studies spiritual books only through curiosity, and
does not unite his reading to the will of God, receives into his mind
the letter without the spirit, and becomes colder and more hardened
than ever.

The order of God, His divine will, is the life of the soul under
whatever appearances the soul receives it or applies it to herself.

Whatever may be the relation of the divine will to the mind, it
nourishes the soul, and unceasingly strengthens her growth by giving
her each moment what is best for her. Nor is one thing more efficacious
than another in producing these happy effects; no, it is simply the
duty of the present moment which comes to us by the order of God. That
which was best for us in the past moment is no longer best for us, for
it is stripped of the will of God, which has passed on to other things
from which it creates for us the duty of the present moment; and it is
this duty, under whatever appearance it is manifested, which will now
most perfectly sanctify our souls.

If the divine will make reading the duty of the present moment, the
reading will effect His mysterious work in the depths of the soul. If,
in obedience to the divine will, we leave the reading for the duty
of contemplation, this duty will create the new man in the depths of
the heart, and reading would then be injurious and useless. If the
divine will withdraw us from contemplation to hear confessions or to
other duties, and that during a considerable time, these duties form
Jesus Christ in the depths of the heart, and all the sweetness of
contemplation would only serve to banish Him.

The order of God is the fulness of all our moments. It flows under a
thousand different appearances which, successively becoming our present
duty, form, increase, and complete the new man in us, in all the
fulness which the divine wisdom has destined for us. This mysterious
growth of Jesus Christ in us is the work produced by the order of God;
it is the fruit of His grace and of His divine will.

This fruit, as we have said, is germinated, increased, and nourished by
the succession of our present duties filled with the virtue of this
same divine will.

In fulfilling these duties we are always sure of possessing the “better
part,” for this holy will is itself the better part. We have but to
yield to it, blindly abandon ourselves to it with perfect confidence.
It is infinitely holy, infinitely wise, infinitely powerful, for souls
which unreservedly hope in it, which love and seek but it alone, and
which believe with unfaltering faith that what it assigns to each
moment is best without seeking elsewhere for more or less, and without
pausing to consider the relation of material things with the order of
God, which is the seeking of pure self-love.

The will of God is the essential, the reality and virtue, of all
things; it is that which adapts and renders them suitable to the soul.

Without it all is emptiness, nothingness, falsehood, the empty husk,
the letter without the spirit, vanity, death.

The will of God is the health, the life, the salvation of soul and
body, whatever its manifestation or ways of reaching us.

Therefore we must not judge of the virtue of things by the relations
they bear to mind or body, for these relations are unimportant. It is
the will of God alone which gives to all things, whatever they may be,
the power to form Jesus Christ in the depth of our hearts. We must
frame no laws for this will and place no limit to its action, for it is
all-powerful.

Whatever the ideas which fill the mind, whatever the feelings which the
body experiences, were it for the mind but distractions and trouble,
for the body but sickness and death, the divine will nevertheless is
ever for the present moment the life of body and soul; for both one and
the other, whatever their condition, are sustained by it alone. Bread
without it is poison; and through it poison becomes a salutary remedy.
Without it, books but confuse and trouble us; with it, darkness is
turned into light. It is the wisdom, the truth, of all things. In all
things it gives us God: and God is the infinite Being who holds the
place of all things to the soul which possesses Him.



_CHAPTER VI._

 The Mind and other Human Means are Useful only in as far as they are
 the Instruments of the Divine Action.


The mind with all its powers would hold the first place among the
instruments of the divine will; but it must, like a dangerous slave, be
reduced to the last.

The simple of heart who know how to use it can derive great profit
therefrom; but it can also do much injury when not kept in subjection.

When the soul sighs after created means, the divine action whispers to
the heart that it sufficeth; when she would injudiciously reject them,
the divine action whispers that they are instruments not to be taken or
rejected at will, but to be simply received from Providence and adapted
to the order of God--the soul thus using all things as though not using
them, being deprived of all things, yet wanting nothing.

The divine action, being limitless in its fulness, can take possession
of a soul only in as far as the soul is void of all confidence in her
own action; for this confidence and self-activity fill the heart to
the exclusion of the divine action. It is an obstacle which, existing
in the soul herself, is more likely to arrest the divine action than
exterior obstacles, which Providence can change at will into powerful
aids; for it can work with all things, even those which are in
themselves useless. With the divine will nothing is everything, and
without it everything is nothing.

Whatever the value in itself of meditation, contemplation, vocal
prayer, interior silence, acts of the will whether sensible, distinct,
or less perceptible, retreat, or active life,--better than all of them
is what God wills for the soul at the present moment; and the soul
should regard everything else with perfect indifference, as being of no
value whatever.

Thus seeing God alone in all things, she should take or leave them at
His pleasure in order to live in, hope in, and be nourished by Him, and
not by the things which have force and virtue only through Him. Under
all circumstances the soul should constantly say with St. Paul, “Lord,
what wouldst Thou have me do?” Not this more than that, but simply Thy
adorable will! The spirit loves one thing, the flesh another; but,
Lord, let Thy will be mine. Contemplation, action, prayer vocal or
mental, affective or passive, light or darkness, special or general
graces,--all these are nothing, Lord, for in Thy will lies their sole
virtue. Thy will alone is the end of all my devotion, and not these
things, however elevated or sublime in themselves; for the end of
divine grace is the perfection of the heart, not of the mind.

The presence of God which sanctifies our souls is that indwelling of
the Trinity which penetrates to the depths of our hearts when they are
submissive to the divine will; for the presence of God which we enjoy
through the exercise of contemplation effects this intimate union in us
only as do all other things which come to us in the order of God. It
holds, however, the first rank among them, for it is the most excellent
means of uniting one’s self with God when He wills that we should use
it.

We may therefore justly esteem and love contemplation and other pious
exercises, provided the foundation of this esteem and love be wholly
God, who mercifully deigns through them to communicate Himself to our
souls.

We receive the prince himself when we receive his suite. It would be
showing him little respect to neglect his officers under pretext of
possessing him alone.



_CHAPTER VII._

 There is no Enduring Peace but in Submission to the Divine Action.


The soul that is not united solely to the will of God will find neither
rest nor sanctification in any self-chosen means--not even in the most
excellent exercises of piety. If that which God Himself chooses for you
does not suffice, what other hand can minister to your desires? If you
turn from the food the divine will itself has prepared for you, what
viands will not prove insipid to a taste so depraved? A soul cannot be
truly nourished, strengthened, purified, enriched, sanctified, except
by the fulness of the present moment. Then what more would you have?
Since you here find all good, why seek it elsewhere? Are you wiser
than God? Since He ordains it should be thus, how could you desire it
should be otherwise? Can His wisdom and goodness err? Should you not
from the moment He ordains an event be utterly convinced that it is the
best that could happen? Do you think you will find peace in struggling
with the Almighty? On the contrary, is it not this struggle too often
renewed, almost unconsciously, which is the cause of all our disquiet.
It is but just that the soul which is not satisfied with the divine
fulness of the present moment should be punished by an inability to
find contentment in anything else.

If books, the example of the saints, spiritual discourses, destroy
the peace of the soul, if they fill without satisfying, it is a mark
that we have not received them in simple abandonment to the divine
action, but have taken them ourselves in a spirit of proprietorship.
Their fulness, therefore, bars the entrance of God to the soul, and we
must rid ourselves of it as an obstacle to grace. But when the divine
action ordains the use of these means, the soul receives them as it
does everything else--that is, in the order of God. She accepts them as
she finds them, in her fidelity simply using them, never appropriating
them; and their moment passed she abandons them to find her contentment
in what follows in the order of Providence. In truth there is nothing
really beneficial for me but that which comes to me in the order
of God. Nowhere can I find any means, however good in itself, more
efficacious for my sanctification and more capable of giving peace to
my soul.



_CHAPTER VIII._

 The Perfection of Souls and the Excellence of Different States are in
 Proportion to their Conformity to the Order of God.


The order of God gives to all things which concern the faithful soul
a supernatural and divine value; all that it exacts, all that it
embraces, and all the objects upon which it sheds its light become
holiness and perfection, for its virtue is limitless: it makes all
that it touches divine. But in order to keep ourselves in the path of
perfection, swerving neither to the right nor the left, the soul must
follow no inspiration which she assumes comes from God without first
assuring herself that it does not interfere with the duties of her
state in life. These duties are the most certain indications of the
will of God, and nothing should be preferred to them; in fulfilling
them there is nothing to be feared, no exclusion or discrimination
to be made; the moments devoted to them are the most precious and
salutary for the soul from the fact that she is sure of accomplishing
the good pleasure of God. All the perfection of the saints consists in
their fidelity to the order of God; therefore we must refuse nothing,
seek nothing, but accept all from His hand, and nothing without Him.
Books, wise counsels, vocal prayers, interior affections, if they
come to us in the order of God, instruct, guide, and unite the soul
to Him. Quietism errs when it disclaims these means and all sensible
appearances, for there are souls whom God wills shall be always led in
this way, and their state and their attractions clearly indicate it. In
vain we picture to ourselves methods of abandonment whence all action
is excluded. When the order of God causes us to act, our sanctification
lies in action.

Besides the duties of each one’s state, God may further ask certain
actions which are not included in these duties, though not contrary
to them. Attraction and inspiration, then, indicate the divine order;
and the most perfect for souls whom God leads in this way is to add to
things of precept, things inspired, but always with the precautions
which inspiration requires to prevent its interfering with the duties
of one’s state and the ordinary events of Providence.

God makes saints as He chooses. They are formed by His divine action,
to which they are ever submissive, and this submission is the truest
abandonment and the most perfect.

Fidelity to the duties of one’s state and submission to the
dispositions of Providence are common to all the saints. They live
hidden in obscurity, for the world is so fatal to holiness that they
would avoid its quicksands; but not in this does their sanctity
consist, but wholly in their entire submission to the order of God.
The more absolute their submission the greater their sanctity. We must
not imagine that those whose virtues God is pleased to brilliantly
manifest by singular and extraordinary works, by undoubted attractions
and inspirations, are any less faithful in the path of abandonment.
Once the order of God makes these brilliant works a duty they fail
in abandonment to Him and His will which ceases to rule their every
moment, and their every moment ceases to be the exponent of the will
of God if they content themselves with the duties of their state and
the ordinary events of Providence. They must study and measure their
efforts according to the standard of God’s designs for them in that
path which their attractions indicate to them. Fidelity to inspiration
is for them a duty; and as there are souls whose whole duty is marked
by an exterior law, and who must be guided by it because God confines
them to it, so also there are others who, besides their exterior
duties, must be further faithful to that interior law which the Holy
Spirit engraves upon their hearts.

But who are the most perfect? Vain and idle research! Each one
must follow the path which is traced for him. Perfection consists
in absolute submission to the order of God and carefully availing
ourselves of all that is most perfect therein. It advances us little to
weigh the advantages of the different states considered in themselves,
since it is neither in the quality nor quantity of things enjoined that
sanctity is to be sought. If self-love be the principle of our actions,
or if we do not correct it when we recognize its workings, we will be
always poor in the midst of an abundance not provided by the order
of God. However, to decide in a measure the question, I think that
sanctity corresponds to the love one has for God’s good pleasure, and
the greater one’s love for this holy will and this order, whatever the
character of their manifestations, the greater one’s sanctity. This is
manifest in Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, for in their private life there
is more of love than of grandeur, and more of spirit than of matter;
and it is not written that these sacred persons sought the holiest of
things, but holiness in all things.

We must therefore conclude that there is no special way which can
be called the most perfect, but that the most perfect in general is
fidelity to the order of God, whether in the accomplishment of exterior
duties or in the interior dispositions, each one according to his state
and calling.

I believe that if souls seriously aspiring to perfection understood
this, and knew how direct is their path, they would be spared much
difficulty. I say the same equally of souls living in the world and of
souls consecrated to God. If the first knew the means of merit afforded
them by their ever-recurring daily duties and the ordinary actions of
their state in life; if the second could persuade themselves that the
foundation of sanctity lies in those very things which they consider
unimportant and even foreign to them; if both could understand that the
crosses sent by Providence which they constantly find in their state
in life lead them to the highest perfection by a surer and shorter
path than do extraordinary states or extraordinary works; and that
the true philosopher’s stone is submission to the order of God, which
changes into pure gold all their occupations, all their weariness,
all their sufferings--how happy they would be! What consolation and
what courage they would gather from this thought, that to acquire the
friendship of God and all the glory of heaven they have but to do
what they are doing, suffer what they are suffering; and that what
they lose and count as naught would suffice to obtain them eminent
sanctity. O my God, that I might be the missionary of Thy holy will,
and teach the whole world that there is nothing so easy, so simple,
so within the reach of all, as sanctity! Would that I could make them
understand that just as the good and bad thief had the same to do and
suffer to obtain their salvation, so two souls, one worldly and the
other wholly interior and spiritual, have nothing more to do, one than
the other; that she who sanctifies herself acquires eternal happiness
by doing in submission to the will of God what she who is lost does
through caprice; and that the latter is lost by suffering unwillingly
and impatiently what she who is saved endures with resignation. The
difference, therefore, is only in the heart.

O dear souls who read this, let me repeat to you: Sanctity will cost
you no more; do what you are doing; suffer what you are suffering: it
is only your heart that need be changed. By the heart we mean the will.
This change, then, consists in willing what comes to us by the order of
God. Yes, holiness of heart is a simple _fiat_, a simple disposition of
conformity to the will of God. And what is easier? For who could not
love so adorable and merciful a will? Let us love it, then, and through
this love alone all within us will become divine.



CHAPTER IX.

 All the Riches of Grace are the Fruit of Purity of Heart and Perfect
 Self-abandonment.


He, therefore, who would abundantly enjoy all good has but to
purify his heart, detach himself from creatures, and completely
abandon himself to the will of God. In this purity of heart and
self-abandonment he will find all things.

Let others, Lord, ask Thee all gifts, let them multiply their
petitions; I have but one gift to ask, but one prayer to make: Give
me a pure heart. O blessed pure of heart! In thy lively faith thou
beholdest God within thee. Thou seest Him in all things, and thou seest
Him at all times working within thee and about thee. Thou art in all
things His subject and His instrument. He guides thee in all things and
leads thee to all things. Frequently thou art unmindful; but He thinks
for thee. He only asks that thou _desire_ all that comes to thee or may
come to thee by His divine order. He _understands the preparation of
thy heart_. In thy salutary blindness thou seekest in vain to discover
this desire; but oh! it is clear to Him. How great is thy simplicity!
Knowest thou not that a well-disposed heart is no other than a heart
in which God dwells? Beholding His own desires in this heart He knows
it will be ever submissive to His order. He knows at the same time
that thou art ignorant what is best for thee, therefore it is His care
to provide for thee. He cares not that thy designs are thwarted. Thou
wouldst go east: He leads thee west. Thou art just upon the rocks:
He turns the helm and brings thee safely into port. Though knowing
neither chart, nor route, nor winds, nor tides, thy voyages are ever
prosperous. If pirates cross thy way an unexpected breeze bears thee
beyond their reach.

O good will! O purity of heart! Well did Jesus know your value when He
placed ye among the beatitudes. What greater happiness than to possess
God and be possessed by Him? O state most blessed and full of charm!
In it we sleep peacefully in the bosom of Providence, sporting like a
child with the divine wisdom, unheedful of our course, which is ever
onward; in spite of shoals, and pirates, and continual storms, we are
borne on to a prosperous end.

O purity of heart! O good will! Ye are the sole foundation of
all spiritual states. To you are given, and through you are made
profitable, the gifts of pure faith, pure hope, pure confidence, and
pure love. Upon your stem are grafted the desert flowers--I mean those
graces which we rarely find blooming but in utterly detached souls, of
which God takes possession as of an uninhabited dwelling, and there
abides to the exclusion of all other things. You are that bountiful
source whence flow all the streams which water the parterre of the
bridegroom and the garden of the bride. Alas! how truly mayest thou
say to all souls: Consider me well; I am the mother of fair love--that
love which develops all that is best and takes it to itself. It is I
who give birth to that sweet and salutary fear which inspires a horror
of evil, and makes you peacefully avoid it; I who ripen the sublime
knowledge of God’s greatness and reveal the value of the virtues which
honor Him. It is I, finally, who inspire those ardent desires which,
unceasingly sustained by holy confidence, stimulate you to practise
virtue in the expectation of that divine object, the enjoyment of which
will one day become, even as it is now (though then in a much more
perfect degree), the happiness of faithful souls. Well mayest thou
invite them all to enrich themselves from thy inexhaustible treasures,
for thou art the source of all spiritual conditions and ways. From thee
do they draw all their beauty, attraction, and charm. Those marvellous
fruits of grace and virtue which dazzle us on all sides, and with
which our devotion is nourished, are thy harvests. Thine is the land
of abundance and honey; thy breasts distil milk, thy bosom gives out
the sweet odor of myrrh; through thy fingers flow in all its purity
the divine wine which usually must be obtained by the labor of the
wine-press.

Let us fly then, dear souls, and plunge ourselves in that sea of love
which invites us. What await we? Why do we tarry? Let us hasten to lose
ourselves in God, in His very heart, that we may inebriate ourselves
with the wine of His charity; in this heart we shall find the key to
all heavenly treasures. Then let us proceed on our way to heaven, for
there is no secret of perfection which we may not penetrate: every
avenue is open to us, even to the garden, the cellar, the vineyard of
the Bridegroom. If we would breathe the air of the fields we have but
to direct our steps thither; in a word, we may come and go at will
armed with this key of David, this key of knowledge, this key of the
abyss which contains the hidden treasures of the divine wisdom. With
it we may also open the gates of the mystic death and descend into
its sacred shades; we may go down into the depths of the sea and into
the den of the lion. It is this divine key which unlocks those dark
dungeons into which it thrusts souls, to withdraw them purified and
sanctified; it introduces us into those blissful abodes where light
and knowledge dwell, where the Bridegroom takes His repose at midday,
and where He reveals to His faithful souls the secrets of His love. O
divine secrets, which may not be revealed, and which no mortal tongue
can express! This key, dear souls, is love. All blessings wait only
for love to enrich us. It gives sanctity and all its accompaniments;
its right hand and its left are filled with it that it may pour it in
abundance from all sources into hearts open to divine grace. O divine
seed of eternity! who can sufficiently praise thee? But why seek to
praise thee? It is better to possess thee in silence than to praise
thee by feeble words. What am I saying? We must praise thee, but only
because thou possessest us. For once thou possessest the heart, whether
we read or write, or speak, or act, or are silent, it is all one and
the same. We assume nothing, we refuse nothing; we are hermits, we are
apostles; we are ill, we are well, we are simple, we are eloquent; in a
word, we are what God wills we should be. The heart hears thy mandates,
and, as thy faithful echo, repeats them to the other faculties. In
this material and spiritual combination which thou deignest to regard
as thy kingdom the heart governs under thy guidance; as it contains
no desires uninspired by thee, all objects please it under whatever
form thou presentest them. Those which nature or the Evil One would
substitute for thine only fill it with disgust and horror. If sometimes
thou permittest the heart to be surprised, it is only that it may
become wiser and more humble; but as soon as it recognizes its illusion
it returns to thee with more love, and binds itself to Thee with
greater fidelity.



Book Second.

 The Divine Action and the Manner in which it unceasingly works the
 Sanctification of Souls.



_CHAPTER I._

 The Divine Action is everywhere and always Present, though only
 Visible to the Eye of Faith.


All creatures are living in the hand of God; the senses perceive
only the action of the creature, but faith sees the divine action
in all things. Faith realizes that Jesus Christ lives in all things
and works through all ages; that the least moment and the smallest
atom contain a portion of this hidden life, this mysterious action.
The instrumentality of creatures is a veil which covers the profound
mysteries of the divine action. The apparition of Jesus to His Apostles
after His resurrection surprised them: He presented Himself to them
under forms which disguised Him, and as soon as He manifested Himself
He disappeared. This same Jesus, who is ever living and laboring for
us, still surprises souls whose faith is not sufficiently lively to
discern Him.

There is no moment when God is not present with us under the appearance
of some obligation or some duty. All that is effected within us,
about us, and through us involves and hides His divine action: it is
veritably present, though in an invisible manner; therefore we do not
discern it, and only recognize its workings when it has ceased to
act. Could we pierce the veil which obscures it, and were we vigilant
and attentive, God would unceasingly reveal Himself to us, and we
would recognize His action in all that befell us. At every event we
would exclaim, _Dominus est!_--It is the Lord! and we should feel
each circumstance of our life an especial gift from Him. We should
regard creatures as feeble instruments in the hands of an all-powerful
workman; we should easily recognize that we lacked nothing, and that
God’s watchful care supplied the needs of every moment. Had we faith,
we should be grateful to all creatures; we should cherish them, and
in our hearts thank them that in the hand of God they have been so
serviceable to us and so favorable to the work of our perfection.

If we lived an uninterrupted life of faith we should be in continual
communion with God, we should speak with Him face to face. Just as the
air transmits our words and thoughts, so would all that we are called
to do and suffer transmit to us the words and thoughts of God; all
that came to us would be but the embodiment of His word; it would be
exteriorly manifested in all things; we should find everything holy and
profitable. The glory of God makes this the state of the blessed in
heaven, and faith would make it ours on earth; there would be only the
difference of means.

Faith is God’s interpreter; without its enlightenment we understand
nothing of the language of created things. It is a writing in cipher,
in which we see naught but confusion; it is a burning bush, from the
midst of which we little expect to hear God’s voice. But faith reveals
to us as to Moses the fire of divine charity burning in the midst of
the bush; it gives the key to the ciphers, and discovers to us in the
midst of the confusion the wonders of the divine wisdom. Faith gives
to the whole earth a heavenly aspect; faith transports, enraptures the
heart, and raises it above the things of this earth to converse with
the blessed.

Faith is the light of time: it alone grasps the truth without seeing
it; it touches what it does not feel; it sees this world as though it
existed not, beholding quite other things than those which are visible.
It is the key of the treasure-house, the key of the abyss, the key
of the science of God. It is faith which shows the falseness of all
creatures: through it God reveals and manifests Himself in all things;
by it all things are made divine; it lifts the veil from created things
and reveals the eternal truth.

All that our eyes behold is vanity and falsehood; in God alone lies the
truth of all things. How far above our illusions are the designs of
God! How is it that though continually reminded that all that passes
in the world is but a shadow, a figure, a mystery of faith, we are
guided by human feelings, by the natural sense of things, which after
all is but an enigma? We foolishly fall into snares instead of lifting
our eyes and rising to the principle, the source, the origin of all;
where all things bear other names and other qualities; where all is
supernatural, divine, sanctifying; where all is part of the fulness of
Jesus Christ; where everything forms a stone of the heavenly Jerusalem,
where everything leads to this marvellous edifice and enters therein.
We live by the things of sight and hearing, neglecting that light of
faith which would safely guide us through the labyrinth of shadows and
images through which we foolishly wander. He, on the contrary, who
walks by faith seeks but God alone, and all things from God; he lives
in God; unheeding and rising above the figures of sense.



_CHAPTER II._

 The Divine Action is all the more Visible to the Eye of Faith when
 hidden under Appearances most Repugnant to the Senses.


The soul enlightened by faith is far from judging of created things,
like those who measure them by their senses, and ignore the inestimable
treasure they contain. He who recognizes the king in disguise treats
him very differently from him who, judging by appearances alone, fails
to recognize his royalty. So the soul that sees the will of God in the
smallest things, and in the most desolating and fatal events, receives
all with equal joy, exultation, and respect. That which others fear and
fly from with horror she opens all her doors to receive with honor.
The retinue is poor, the senses despise it; but the heart, under these
humble appearances, discerns and does homage to the royal majesty; and
the more this majesty abases itself, coming secretly with modest suite,
the deeper is the love it inspires in the heart.

I have no words with which to portray the feelings of the heart when
it receives this divine will in the guise of humiliation, poverty,
annihilation. Ah! how moved was the beautiful heart of Mary at sight of
that poverty of a God, that annihilation which brought Him to lodge in
a manger, to repose on a handful of straw a trembling, weeping infant!
Ask the people of Bethlehem what they think of this child: were He in
a palace with royal surroundings they would do Him homage. But ask
Mary, Joseph, the Magi, the shepherds: they will tell you that in this
extreme poverty they find that which manifests God to them more sublime
and adorable. By just that which the senses lack is faith heightened,
increased, and nourished; the less there is to human eyes, the more
there is to the soul. The faith which adores Jesus on Thabor, which
loves the will of God in extraordinary events, is not that lively
faith which loves the will of God in common events and adores Jesus on
the cross. For the perfection of faith is seen only when visible and
material things contradict it and seek to destroy it. Through this war
of the senses faith comes out gloriously victorious.

It is not an ordinary but a grand and extraordinary faith which finds
God equally adorable in the simplest and commonest things as in the
greatest events of life.

To content ones’ self with the present moment is to love and adore
the divine will in all that comes to us to do or suffer through the
things which successively form the duties of the present moment.
Souls thus disposed adore God with redoubled ardor and respect in the
greatest humiliations; nothing hides Him from the piercing eye of their
faith. The more vehemently the senses exclaim, This is not from God!
the closer do they press this bundle of myrrh from the hand of the
Bridegroom; nothing disturbs them, nothing repels them.

Mary sees the Apostles fly, but she remains constant at the foot of
the cross; she recognizes her Son in that face spat upon and bruised.
These disfiguring wounds only render Him more adorable and worthy of
love in the eyes of this tender mother; and the blasphemies poured
forth against Him only serve to increase her profound veneration. In
like manner, a life of faith is but a continual pursuit of God through
all which disguises and disfigures Him; through all which, so to speak,
destroys and annihilates Him. It is truly a reproduction of the life
of Mary, who from the manger to Calvary remained constant to a God
whom the world despised, persecuted, and abandoned. So faithful souls,
despite a continual succession of deaths, veils, shadows, semblances
which disguise the will of God, perseveringly pursue it, and love it
unto death on the cross. They know that, unheeding all disguises, they
must follow this holy will; for, beyond the heaviest shadows, beyond
the darkest clouds, the divine Sun is shining to enlighten, enflame,
and vivify those constant hearts who bless, praise, and contemplate Him
from all points of this mysterious horizon.

Hasten, then, happy, faithful, untiring souls; hasten to follow this
dear Spouse who with giant strides traverses the heavens and from whom
nothing can be hidden. He passes over the smallest blade of grass as
above the loftiest cedars. The grains of sand are under His feet no
less than the mountains. Wherever your foot may rest He has passed, and
you have only to follow Him faithfully to find Him wherever you go.

Oh, the ineffable peace that is ours when faith has taught us thus
to see God through all creatures as through a transparent veil! Then
darkness becomes light, and bitter turns to sweet. Faith, manifesting
all things in their true light, changes their deformity into beauty,
and their malice into virtue. Faith is the mother of meekness,
confidence, and joy; she can feel naught but tenderness and compassion
for her enemies who so abundantly enrich her at their own expense. The
more malignant the action of the creature, the more profitable does God
render it to the soul. While the human instrument seeks to injure us,
the divine Artisan in whose hand it lies makes use of its very malice
to remove what is prejudicial to the soul.

The will of God has only consolations, graces, treasures, for
submissive souls; our confidence in it cannot be too great, nor our
abandonment thereto be too absolute. It always wills and effects that
which contributes most to our sanctification, provided meanwhile we
yield ourselves to its divine action. Faith never doubts it; the more
unbelieving, rebellious, despondent, and wavering the senses, the
louder Faith cries, “This is God! All is well!”

There is nothing Faith does not penetrate and overcome; it passes
beyond all shadows and through the darkest clouds to reach Truth;
clasps it in a firm embrace, and is never parted from it.



_CHAPTER III._

 The Divine Action offers us at each Moment Infinite Blessings, which
 we receive in proportion to our Faith and Love.


If we knew how to greet each moment as the manifestation of the divine
will, we would find in it all the heart could desire. For what indeed
is more reasonable, more perfect, more divine than the will of God?
Can its infinite value be increased by the paltry difference of time,
place, or circumstance? Were you given the secret of finding it at all
times and in all places, you would possess a gift most precious, most
worthy of your desires. What seek ye, holy souls? Give free scope to
your longings; place no limit to your aspirations; expand your heart to
the measure of the infinite. I have that wherewith to satisfy it: there
is no moment in which I may not cause you to find all you can desire.

The present moment is always filled with infinite treasures: it
contains more than you are capable of receiving. Faith is the measure
of these blessings: in proportion to your faith will you receive. By
love also are they measured: the more your heart loves the more it
desires, and the more it desires the more it receives. The will of
God is constantly before you as an unfathomable sea, which the heart
cannot exhaust: only in proportion as the heart is expanded by faith,
confidence, and love can it receive of its fulness. All created things
could not fill your heart, for its capacity is greater than anything
which is not God.

The mountains which affright the eye are but atoms to the heart. The
divine will is an abyss, of which the present moment is the entrance;
plunge fearlessly therein and you will find it more boundless than your
desires. Offer no homage to creatures; adore not phantoms: they can
give you nothing, they can take nothing from you. The will of God alone
shall be your fulness, and it shall leave no void in your soul. Adore
it; go direct to it, penetrating all appearances, casting aside all
impediments. The spoliation, the destruction, the death of the senses
is the reign of faith. The senses adore creatures; faith adores the
divine will. Wrest from the senses their idols, they will weep like
disconsolate children; but faith will triumph, for nothing can take
from her the will of God. When all the senses are famished, affrighted,
despoiled, then does the will of God nourish, enrich, and fortify
faith, which smiles at these apparent losses, as the commander of an
impregnable fortress smiles at the futile attacks of an enemy.

When the will of God reveals itself to a soul manifesting a desire
to wholly possess her, if the soul freely give herself in return she
experiences most powerful assistance in all difficulties; she then
tastes by experience the happiness of that coming of the Lord, and
her enjoyment is in proportion to the degree in which she learned to
practise that self abandonment which must bring her at all moments face
to face with this ever adorable will.



_CHAPTER IV._

 God reveals Himself to us as Mysteriously, as Adorably, and with as
 much Reality in the most Ordinary Events as in the great Events of
 History and the Holy Scriptures.


The written word of God is full of mystery; His word expressed in the
events of the world is no less so. These two books are truly sealed;
the letter of both killeth.

God is the centre of faith which is an abyss from whose depths
shadows rise which encompass all that comes forth from it. God is
incomprehensible; so also are His works, which require our faith.
All these words, all these works, are but obscure rays, so to speak,
of a sun still more obscure. In vain do we strive to gaze upon this
sun and its rays with the eyes of our body; the eyes of the soul
itself, through which we behold God and His works, are no less closed.
Obscurity here takes the place of light; knowledge is ignorance, and
we see though not seeing. Holy Scripture is the mysterious language
of a still more mysterious God. The events of the world are the
mysterious utterances of this same hidden and inscrutable God. They
are drops of the ocean, but an ocean of shadows. Every rivulet, every
drop of the stream, bears the impress of its origin. The fall of the
angels, the fall of man, the wickedness and idolatry of men before and
after the deluge, in the time of the Patriarchs who knew the history
of creation, with its recent preservation, and related it to their
children,--these are the truly mysterious words of Holy Scripture. A
handful of men preserved from idolatry amid the general corruption of
the whole world until the coming of the Messias; evil always dominant,
always powerful; the little band of the defenders of the faith always
ill-treated, always persecuted; the persecution of Christ; the plagues
of the Apocalypse--in these behold the words of God. It is what He has
revealed. It is what He has dictated. And the effects of these terrible
mysteries, which endure till the end of time, are still the living
words of God by which we learn His wisdom, goodness, and power. All
the events in the history of the world show forth these attributes and
glorify Him therein. We must believe it blindly, for, alas! we cannot
see.

What does God teach us by Turks, heretics, and all the enemies of
His Church? They preach forcibly. They all show forth His infinite
perfections. So do Pharao and all the impious hosts who followed him
and will still follow him; though truly, to the evidence of our senses,
the end of all these is most contrary to the divine glory. We must
close our corporal eyes and cease to reason if we would read the divine
mysteries in all this.

Thou speakest, Lord, to all mankind by general events. All revolutions
are but the tides of Thy Providence, which excite storms and tempests
in the minds of the curious. Thou speakest to each one in particular
by the events of his every moment. But instead of respecting the
mystery and obscurity of Thy words, and hearing Thy voice in all the
occurrences of life, they only see therein chance, the acts, the
caprice of men; they find fault in everything; they would add to,
diminish, reform--in fact, they indulge in liberties with these living
words of God, while they would consider it a sacrilege to alter a
comma of the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures they revere: they are the
word of God, they tell you; they are true and holy. Though they may
comprehend them little, their veneration for them is no less great, and
they justly give honor and glory to God for the depth of His wisdom.

But, dear souls, have you no respect for the words God addresses you
each moment,--words which are not conveyed to you by means of ink
and paper, but by what you have to do and suffer from moment to
moment,--do these words merit nothing from you? Why do you not revere
the truth and will of God in all things? There is nothing which fully
satisfies you; you criticise and cavil at all that happens. Do you not
see that you try to measure by the senses and reason that which can be
measured by faith alone? And that while reading the word of God in the
Holy Scriptures with the eyes of faith, you gravely err when you read
this same word with other eyes in His works?



_CHAPTER V._

 The Divine Action continues in our Hearts the Revelation begun in Holy
 Scripture; but the Characters in which it is written will be Visible
 only at the Last Day.


“Jesus Christ,” says the Apostle, “is the same yesterday, to-day, and
forever.” From the beginning of the world He was, as God, the principle
of the life of just souls. From the first moment of His incarnation His
humanity shared this prerogative of His divinity. Throughout our whole
lives He is working within us. The time of this world is but a day,
and this day is full of Him. Jesus Christ lived, and He still lives.
He began in Himself, and He continues in His saints, a life which will
never end. O life of Jesus, which embraces and exceeds all ages! Life
which unceasingly worketh new wonders! If the world is incapable of
embracing all that could have been written of the actual life of Jesus,
of all that He said and did upon earth; if the Gospel gives us only a
few traits of it; if so little is known even of that first hidden yet
fruitful hour of Bethlehem,--how many gospels must needs be written
to relate all the moments of that mystic life of Jesus Christ which
multiplies wonders infinitely, multiplies them eternally!--for all
times, properly speaking, are but the history of the divine action.

The Holy Spirit has marked in infallible and incontestable characters
certain moments of this vast duration, and gathered in the Scriptures
some drops of this boundless ocean. We see therein the secret and
hidden ways by which He has manifested Jesus Christ to the world. We
can follow the channels and veins which, amid the confusion of the
children of men, distinguish this Firstborn. The Old Testament is but
a small portion of the innumerable and inscrutable ways of this divine
work; it only contains what is necessary to reach Jesus Christ. The
Holy Spirit held the rest hidden in the treasures of His wisdom. And
from out this vast sea of the divine action but a thread of water
appears which reaches Jesus, loses itself in the Apostles, and is
swallowed up in the Apocalypse. So that by our faith alone can we learn
the history of this divine action which consists in the life which
Jesus Christ leads, and will lead in just souls until the end of time.

To the manifestation of God’s truth by word succeeded the manifestation
of His charity by action. The Holy Spirit continues the work of the
Saviour. While He assists the Church in preaching the gospel of Christ,
He Himself at the same time writes His own gospel in our hearts. Each
moment, each act, of the Saints is the gospel of the Holy Spirit. Holy
souls are the paper; their sufferings, their actions, are the ink. The
Holy Spirit by the pen of His action writes a living gospel; but we can
only read it on the last day, when it will be drawn from the press of
this life and published.

Oh, the glorious history, the beautiful book, which the Holy Spirit is
now writing! It is in press, holy souls; and not a day passes in which
type is not set, ink applied, and sheets of it printed. But we are in
the night of faith: the paper is blacker than the ink; the characters
are confused; it is the language of another world; we understand it
not; we shall only read its gospel in heaven. Oh, if we could but
see this life of God in all creatures, in all things, and learn to
regard them, not in themselves, but as the instruments of His will!
If we could see how the divine action impels them hither and thither,
unites them, disperses them, opposes them, and leads them by contrary
ways to the same end, we should recognize that all things have their
purpose, their reason, their proportion, their relations in this divine
work. But how shall we read this book with its hidden, innumerable,
contradictory, and obscure characters? If the combinations of
twenty-seven letters are incomprehensible to us and suffice to form an
unlimited number of different volumes, each admirable of its kind, who
can express what God does in His universe? Who can read and comprehend
a book so vast, in which there is not a letter which has not its own
significance and does not contain in its littleness profound mysteries?
Mysteries are neither seen nor felt; they are the subjects of faith.
Faith judges their worth and truth only by their source, for they are
so obscure in themselves that all their external appearances only serve
to conceal them, and mislead those who judge by reason alone.

Teach me, O divine Spirit, to read in this book of life! I would become
Thy disciple, and like a little child believe what I cannot see. It
sufficeth that my Master speaks. He tells me this, He proclaims that;
His words are arranged in one form. He interprets them in another:
that sufficeth me; I receive all as He presents it; I see not the
reason thereof, but I know He is the infallible Truth. His words, His
actions, are truth. He wills that these letters should form a word;
such a number, another. They are but three, but six; yet no more are
required, and less would mar the sense. He alone who knows all thought
can combine the characters to express it. Everything is significant;
everything has a perfect meaning. This line purposely ends here; there
is not a comma lacking therein, nor one useless point. I believe it
now; but on that glorious day, when so many mysteries will be revealed
me, I will see what I now only confusedly comprehend; and that which
appears so obscure, so perplexing, so contradictory to reason, so
vague, so visionary, will enrapture and delight me to all eternity with
the beauty, the order, the meaning, the wisdom, and the inconceivable
marvels I shall discover therein.



_CHAPTER VI._

 Divine Love is communicated to us through the Veil of Creatures, as
 Jesus communicates Himself to us through the Veil of the Eucharistic
 Species.


What sublime truths are hidden even from Christians who believe
themselves most enlightened! How many are there who realize that every
cross, every action, every attraction in the order of God gives Him
to us in a manner which cannot be better explained than by comparison
with the august mystery of the Eucharist! Yet what is more certain?
Does not reason, as well as faith, reveal to us the real presence of
divine love in all creatures, in all the events of life, as infallibly
as the word of Christ and His Church reveal to us the presence of the
sacred Body of the Saviour under the Eucharistic species? Do we not
know that the divine love seeks to communicate itself to us through all
creatures and through all events?--that it has effected, ordered, or
permitted all our surroundings, all that befalls us, only in view of
this union which is the sole end of all God’s designs?--that for this
end He makes use of the worst as well as the best creatures, of the
most grievous as well as the most pleasing events?--and that our union
with Him is even the more meritorious that the means which serve to
make the union closer are of a nature repugnant to us? But if all this
be true, why should not each moment be a form of communion in which we
receive divine love; and why should not this communion of every moment
be as profitable to our souls as that in which we receive the Body and
Blood of the Son of God? This latter, it is true, possesses sacramental
grace, which the other does not; but, on the other hand, how much
more frequently may not this first form of communion be repeated,
and how greatly may its merit be increased, by the perfection of the
dispositions with which it is accomplished! Therefore how true it is
that the holiest life is mysterious in its simplicity and apparent
lowliness! O heavenly banquet! O never-ending feast! A God always
given, and always received; not in sublime splendor or glorious light,
but in utter infirmity, weakness, and nothingness! That which the
natural man condemns, and human reason rejects, God chooses, and makes
thereof mysteries, sacraments of love, giving Himself to souls through
that which would seem to injure them most, and in proportion to their
faith which finds Him in all things.



_CHAPTER VII._

 The Divine Action, the Will of God, is as unworthily treated and
 disregarded in its Daily Manifestation by many Christians as was Jesus
 in the Flesh by the Jews.


What infidelity we find in the world! How unworthily men think of God!
They criticise His divine action as they would not dare to criticise
the work of the humblest artisan. They would force Him to act within
the narrow limits of their weak reason and follow its rules. They
pretend to reform all things. They unceasingly complain and murmur.

They are shocked at the treatment Jesus received at the hands of
the Jews. Ah! Divine Love! Adorable Will! Infallible Action! How do
they look upon Thee? Can the divine will err? Can anything it sends
be amiss? But I have this to do; I need such a thing; I have been
deprived of the necessary means; that man thwarts me in such good
works; is not this most unreasonable?--this sickness overtakes me when
I absolutely need my health. No, dear souls, the will of God is all
that is absolutely necessary to you, therefore you do not need what
He withholds from you--you lack nothing. If you could read aright
these things which you call accidents, disappointments, misfortunes,
contradictions, which you find unreasonable, untimely, you would blush
with confusion; you would regard your murmurs as blasphemies: but you
do not reflect that all these things are simply the will of God. This
adorable will is blasphemed by His dear children who fail to recognize
it.

When Thou wert upon earth, O my Jesus! the Jews treated Thee as a
sorcerer, called Thee a Samaritan; and now that Thou livest in all
ages, how do we regard Thy adorable will forever worthy of praise and
blessing? Has there been a moment from the creation to this present
one in which we live, and will there be one to the last day, in which
the holy Name of God is not worthy of praise?--that Name which fills
all time, and all the events of time; that Name which renders all
things salutary!

What! Can that which is called the will of God work me harm? Shall I
fear, shall I fly from the will of God? Ah! where shall I go to find
something more profitable if I fear the divine action and resist the
effect of the divine will?

How faithfully we should listen to the words which are each moment
uttered in the depths of our hearts! If our senses, our reason, hear
not, penetrate not the truth and wisdom of these words, is it not
because of their incapacity to divine eternal truths? Should I be
surprised that a mystery disconcerts reason? God speaks; it is a
mystery; therefore it is death to the senses and reason, for it is
the nature of mysteries to immolate to themselves sense and reason.
Through faith mystery becomes the life of the heart, to all else it
is contradiction. The divine action killeth while it quickeneth; the
more we feel death the firmer our faith that it will give life; the
more obscure the mystery, the more light it contains. Hence it is that
the simple soul finds nothing more divine than that which is least so
externally. The life of faith wholly consists in this constant struggle
against the senses.



_CHAPTER VIII._

 The Revelation of the Present Moment is the more Profitable that it is
 addressed Directly to us.


We are only truly instructed by the words which God pronounces
expressly for us. It is neither by books nor curious research that we
become learned in the science of God: these means of themselves give us
but a vain knowledge, which only serves to confuse us and inflate us
with pride.

That which really instructs us is all that comes to us by the order of
God from one moment to another: this is the knowledge of experience,
which Christ Himself was pleased to acquire before teaching. It was
indeed the only knowledge in which, according to the words of the
Gospel, He could grow; for as God there was no degree of speculative
knowledge which He did not possess. But if this knowledge was needful
to the Incarnate Word Himself, it is absolutely necessary for us if we
would speak to the hearts of those whom God sends to us.

We only know perfectly that which we have learned by experience through
suffering and action. This is the school of the Holy Spirit, who utters
the words of life to the heart; and all that we say to others should
come from this source. Whatsoever we read, whatsoever we see, becomes
divine science only through the fecundity, the virtue, the light, which
the possession of this experience gives. Without this science all our
learning is like unleavened dough, lacking the salt and seasoning of
experience; the mind is filled with crude, unfledged ideas; and we are
like the dreamer who, knowing all the highways of the world, misses the
path to his own home.

Therefore we have only to listen to God’s voice from moment to moment
if we would learn the science of the saints, which is all practice and
experience.

Heed not what is said to others; listen only to what is uttered for
you and to you: you will find therein sufficient to exercise your
faith, for this hidden language of God by its very obscurity exercises,
purifies, and increases your faith.



_CHAPTER IX._

 The Revelation of the Present Moment is an Inexhaustible Source of
 Sanctity.


O all ye who thirst! know that you have not far to seek for the
fountain of living waters; it springs close to you in the present
moment. Hasten then to approach it. Why with the source so near do you
weary yourselves running after shallow streams, which only excite your
thirst and give you to drink in small measure? The source alone can
satisfy you; it is inexhaustible. If you would think, write, and live
like the Prophets, Apostles, and Saints, abandon yourself, like them,
to divine inspiration.

O Love too little known! Men think Thy marvels are o’er, and that we
have but to copy Thy ancient works and quote Thy former teachings! And
they see not that Thy inexhaustible action is an infinite source of new
thoughts, new sufferings, new works, new Patriarchs, new Prophets, new
Apostles, new Saints, who have no need to copy the life or writings
one of the other, but only to live in perpetual self-abandonment to
Thy secret operations. We are wont to quote the “first ages of the
Church!--the times of the saints!” But is not all time the effects of
the divine action, the workings of the divine will, which absorbs all
moments, fills them, sanctifies them, supernaturalizes them? Has there
ever been a method of self-abandonment to the divine will which is not
now practicable? From the earliest ages had the saints other secrets of
holiness than that of becoming from moment to moment what the divine
action would make them? And will not this action even to the end of
time continue to pour its grace upon those who abandon themselves to
it without reserve?

Yes, adorable, eternal Love! Love eternally fruitful and always
marvellous! Will of my God, Thou art my book, my doctrine, my science;
in Thee are my thoughts, my words, my deeds, my crosses. Not by
consulting Thy other works can I become what Thou wouldst make me, but
only by receiving Thee through all things in that one royal way of
self-abandonment to Thy will--that ancient way, that way of my fathers.
I will think, speak, and be enlightened like them; following in this
way, I will imitate them, quote them, copy them, in all things.



_CHAPTER X._

 The Present Moment is the Manifestation of the Name of God and the
 Coming of His Kingdom.


The present moment is like an ambassador which declares the will of
God. The heart must ever answer _fiat_, and the soul will go steadily
on by means of all things to her centre and her term--never pausing
in her course, spreading her sails to all winds; all ways, all methods
equally further her progress towards the great, the infinite. All
things afford her equal means of sanctification. The one only essential
the soul finds in the present moment. It is no longer either prayer or
silence, retirement or conversation, reading or writing, reflections or
cessation of thought, avoidance or seeking of spiritualities, abundance
or privation, illness or health, life or death, but simply what
comes to her each moment by the order of God. In this consists that
privation, abnegation, renouncement of created things, whether real or
in will, in order that a soul may be nothing of herself or for herself,
but live wholly by the order of God, and at His good pleasure content
herself with the duty of the present moment, as though it were the one
thing in the world.

If whatsoever comes to a soul thus self-abandoned is her one essential,
we see clearly that she lacks nothing, and therefore should never
complain; that if she murmur she lacks faith, and lives by reason and
the senses alone, which, failing to recognize this sufficiency of
grace, are ever discontented.

To bless the name of God according to the expression of the Scriptures
is to love Him, adore Him, and recognize His holiness in all things.
In fact, all things like words proceed from the mouth of God. The
events of each moment are divine thoughts expressed by created objects;
thus all things which intimate His will to us are so many names, so
many words, by which He manifests His desires. This will is one in
itself; it bears but one incomprehensible, ineffable name; but it is
multiplied infinitely in its effects, and assumes their names. To
sanctify the name of God is to study, adore, and love the ineffable
Being whom this name represents. It is also to study, adore, and love
His blessed will at all times, in all its effects; regarding all things
as so many veils, shadows, names of this eternally holy will. It is
holy in all its works, holy in all its words, holy in all its forms of
manifestation, holy in all the names it bears.

It was thus Job blessed the name of God. The holy man blessed his
terrible desolation which expressed the will of God: he called it
not ruin, but a name of the Lord; and blessing it he declared that
this divine will expressed by the most terrible afflictions was ever
holy, whatever form, whatever name it bore. David also blessed it
at all times and in all places. Therefore it is by this continual
manifestation, this revelation of the will of God in all things that
His kingdom is within us that His will is done upon earth as it is in
heaven, that He gives us our daily bread.

Abandonment to the divine will contains the substance of that
incomparable prayer which Christ Himself has taught us. We repeat it
vocally many times a day according to the order of God and His holy
Church; but we utter it in the depth of our hearts each moment that we
lovingly receive or suffer whatever is ordained by this adorable will.
What the lips need words and time to express, the heart effectively
utters with each pulsation, and thus simple souls unceasingly bless
Him in the depth of their hearts. They sigh nevertheless over their
inability to praise Him as they desire: so true it is that God gives
His graces and favors to such souls by the very means which seem to
deprive them of these blessings. This is the secret of the divine
wisdom--to impoverish the senses while it enriches the heart, and to
fill the heart in proportion to the aching void in the senses.

Let us learn then to recognize in the event of each moment the imprint
of the will of God, of His adorable name. This name is infinitely
holy. It is but just therefore to bless it and receive it as a form
of sacrament which by its own virtue sanctifies the souls in which it
finds no obstacle to its grace. Can we do other than infinitely esteem
that which bears this august name? It is a divine manna which falls
from heaven to continually strengthen us in grace. It is a kingdom
of holiness which is established in the soul. It is the bread of
angels which is given upon earth as it is in heaven. No moment can be
unimportant since they all contain treasures of grace, angelic food.

Yes, Lord, let Thy kingdom come to my heart to sanctify it, to nourish
it, to purify it, to render it victorious over my enemies. Precious
moment! how insignificant thou art to the eyes of the world, but how
grand to the eyes enlightened by faith! And can I call that little
which is great in the eyes of my Father who reigns in heaven? All that
comes thence is most excellent. All that descends therefrom bears the
impress of its origin.



_CHAPTER XI._

 The Divine Will imparts the Highest Sanctity to Souls; they have but
 to abandon Themselves to its Divine Action.


It is only because they know not how to profit by the divine action
that so many Christians spend their lives anxiously seeking hither and
thither a multitude of means of sanctification; these are profitable
when the divine will ordains them, but become injurious the moment they
prevent one from simply uniting himself with the will of God. These
multiplied means cannot give what we will find in the will of God--that
principle of all life, which is ever present with us, and which
imparts to its every instrument an original and incomparable action.

Jesus has sent us a master whom we do not heed. He speaks to all
hearts, and to each one he utters the word of life, the incomparable
word; but we hear it not. We would know what he says to others, and we
hearken not to what is said to us. We do not sufficiently regard things
in the supernatural light which the divine action gives them. We must
always receive and worthily meet the divine action with an open heart,
full confidence and generosity; for to those who thus receive it it
can work no ill. This illimitable action, which from the beginning to
the end of all ages is ever the same in itself, flows on through all
moments, and gives itself in its immensity and its virtue to the simple
soul which adores it, loves it, and solely rejoices in it. You would be
enraptured, you say, to find an occasion of sacrificing your life for
God; such heroism enchants you. To lose all, to die forsaken and alone,
to sacrifice one’s self for others--such are the glorious deeds which
enchant you.

But let me, O Lord, render glory, all glory, to Thy divine action! In
it I find the happiness of the martyrs, austerities and sacrifice of
self for others. This action, this will, sufficeth me. Whatever life
or death it ordains for me I am content. It pleases me in itself far
more than all its instruments and its effects, since it permeates all
things, renders them divine, and transforms them into itself. It maketh
heaven for me everywhere; all my moments are purely filled with the
divine action; and living or dying, it is my sole contentment.

Yes, my Beloved, I will cease to prescribe Thee hours or methods; Thou
shalt be ever welcome. O divine action, Thou seemest to have revealed
me Thy immensity. I will but walk henceforth in the bosom of Thy
infinity. The tide of Thy power flows to-day as it flowed yesterday.
Thy foundation is the bed of the torrent whence graces unceasingly
flow; Thou holdest the waters thereof in Thy hand, and movest them at
will. No longer will I seek Thee within the narrow limits of a book,
the life of a saint, a sublime thought. No: these are but drops of that
great ocean which embraces all creatures. The divine action inundates
them all. They are but atoms which sink into this abyss. No longer will
I seek this action in spiritual intercourse. No more will I beg my
bread from door to door. I will depend upon no creature.

Yes, Lord, I would live to Thy honor as the worthy child of a true
Father, infinitely good, wise, and powerful. I would live as I believe,
and since the divine action labors incessantly and by means of all
things for my sanctification, I would draw my life from this great and
boundless reservoir, ever present, and ever practically available.
Is there a creature whose action equals that of God? And since this
uncreated hand directs all that comes to me, shall I go in search of
aid from creatures who are impotent, ignorant, and indifferent to me?
I was dying of thirst; I ran from fountain to fountain, from stream
to stream; and behold at hand was a source which caused a deluge;
water surrounded me on all sides! Yes, everything becomes bread to
nourish me, water to cleanse me, fire to purify me, a chisel to give
me celestial form. Everything is an instrument of grace for my
necessities; that which I sought in other things seeks me incessantly
and gives itself to me by means of all creatures.

O Love! will men never see that Thou meetest them at every step, while
they seek Thee hither and thither, where Thou art not? When in the open
country, what folly not to breathe its pure air; to pause and study
my steps when the path is smooth before me; to thirst when the flood
encompasses me; to hunger for God when I may find Him, relish Him, and
receive His will through all things!

Seek you, dear souls, the secret of union with God? There is none other
than to avail yourselves of all that He sends you. All things may
further this union; all things perfect it, save sin, and that which is
contrary to your duty. You have but to accept all that He sends and let
it do its work in you.

Everything is a banner to guide you, a stay to uphold you, an easy and
safe vehicle to bear you on.

Everything is the hand of God. Everything is earth, air, and water to
the soul. God’s action is more universally present than the elements.
His grace penetrates you through all your senses provided you but use
them according to His order; for you must guard and close them to all
that is not His will. There is not an atom which, entering your frame,
may not cause this divine action to penetrate to the very marrow of
your bones. It is the source and origin of all things. The vital fluid
which flows in your veins moves only by order of the divine will;
all the variations of your system, strength or weakness, languor or
vigor, life or death, are but the instruments with which the divine
action effects your sanctification. Under its influence all physical
conditions become operations of grace. All your thoughts, all your
emotions, whatever their apparent source, proceed from this invisible
hand. No created mind or heart can teach you what this divine action
will do in you; you will learn it by successive experience. Your life
unceasingly flows into this incomprehensible abyss, where we have but
to love and accept as best that which the present moment brings, with
perfect confidence in this divine action which of itself can only work
you good.

Yes, my Beloved, all souls might attain supernatural, admirable,
inconceivably sublime states if they would but submit themselves to
Thy divine action! Yes, if they would but yield to this divine hand
they would attain eminent sanctity. All could reach it, since it is
offered to all. You have but to open your heart and it will enter of
itself: for there is no soul which does not possess in Thee, my God,
its infinitely perfect model; no soul in which Thy divine action labors
not unceasingly to render it like unto Thy image. If they were faithful
they would all live, act, speak divinely; they need only copy one
another; the divine action would signalize each one of them through the
most ordinary things.

How, O my God! can I cause Thy creatures to relish what I advance? Must
I, possessing a treasure capable of enriching all, see souls perish in
their poverty? Must I see them die like desert plants when I point out
to them the source of living waters? Come, simple souls, who have no
feeling of devotion whatever, no talent, not even the first elements
of instruction,--you who understand nothing of spiritual terms, who
are filled with admiration and astonishment by the eloquence of the
learned,--come and I will teach you the secret of excelling these
brilliant intellects; and I will make perfection so attainable that
you will find it within you, about you, around you, at every step. I
will unite you to God, and He will hold you by the hand from the moment
you begin to practise what I tell you. Come, not to learn the chart of
this spiritual country, but to possess it, and to walk at ease therein
without fear of going astray. Come, not to study the theory of divine
grace, nor to learn what it has effected in all ages and is still
effecting, but to be simply the subjects of its operations. You have
no need to learn and ingenuously repeat the words addressed to others:
divine grace shall utter to you alone all that you require.



_CHAPTER XII._

 The Divine Action alone can sanctify us, for it forms us after the
 Divine Model of our Perfection.


The divine action executes in time the designs of the eternal Wisdom in
regard to all things. God alone can make known to each soul the design
which it is destined to realize. Though you read the will of God in
regard to others, this knowledge cannot direct you in anything. In the
Word, in God Himself, is the design after which you should be formed,
and after which you are modelled by the divine action. In the Word the
divine action finds that to which every soul may be conformed. Holy
Scripture contains a portion of this design, and the work of the Holy
Spirit in souls completes it after the model which the Word presents.
Is it not evident that the only secret for receiving the impress of
this eternal design is to be passively submissive in His hands, and
that no intellectual effort or speculation will help us to attain it?
Is it not manifest that skill, intelligence, or subtlety of mind will
not effect this work, but passive self-abandonment to the divine will,
yielding ourselves like metal to the mould, like canvas to the brush,
or like stone to the sculptor? It is clear that a knowledge of the
divine mysteries which the will of God effects in all ages is not what
renders us conformable to the design which the Word has conceived for
us. No: it is the impress of the divine Hand; and this imprint is not
graven in the mind through the medium of thought, but upon the will
through its submission to the will of God.

The wisdom of the simple soul consists in contentment with what is
suitable to her, in confining herself to the sphere of her duties, and
in never going beyond its boundary. She is not curious to know the
secrets of the divine economy: she is content with God’s will in her
regard, never striving to decipher its hidden meaning by conjecture
or comparison, desiring to know no more than each moment reveals,
listening to the voice of the Word when it speaks in the depth of her
heart, never asking what the Spouse of her soul utters to others,
contenting herself with what she receives in the depth of her soul;
so that from moment to moment all things, however insignificant or
whatever their nature, sanctify her unconsciously to herself. Thus the
Beloved speaks to His spouse by the palpable effects of His action,
which the spouse does not curiously study, but accepts with loving
gratitude. Therefore the spirituality of this soul is simple, most
solid, and interwoven with her whole being. Neither tumultuous thoughts
nor words influence her conduct; for these, when not the instruments
of divine grace, only inflate the mind. Many there are who assign an
important part to intellect in piety, yet it is of little account
therein, and not unfrequently prejudicial. We must make use of that
only which God sends us to do and suffer. Yet many of us leave this
divine essential to occupy our minds with the historic wonders of the
divine work, instead of increasing these wonders by our fidelity.

The marvels of this work which gratify the curiosity of our readings
serve only to disgust us with the apparently unimportant events
through which, if we despise them not, the divine love effects great
things in us. Foolish creatures that we are! We admire, we bless, this
divine action in its written history; but when it would continue to
write its gospel in our hearts, we hold the paper in continual unrest,
and we impede its action by our curiosity to know what it effects in us
and what it effects elsewhere.

Pardon, divine Love, for I am writing my own defects, and I have not
yet learned what it is to abandon myself to Thy hand. I have not yet
yielded myself to the mould. I have walked through Thy divine studios,
I have admired all Thy works, but I have not yet learned the needful
self-abandonment to receive the marks of Thy pencil. At last I have
found Thee, my dear Master, my Teacher, my Father, my dear Love! I will
be Thy disciple; I will learn in no other school but Thine. I return
like the prodigal hungering for Thy bread. I abandon the ideas which
only serve to gratify my curiosity. I will no longer seek after masters
or books; no, I will use these means only as Thy divine will ordains
them, and then not for my gratification, but to obey Thee by accepting
all that Thou sendest me. I would confine myself solely to the duty of
the present moment in order to prove my love, fulfil my obligations,
and leave thee free to do with me what Thou wilt.



Book Third.

 The Paternal Care with which God surrounds Souls wholly abandoned to
 Him.



_CHAPTER I._

 God Himself guides Souls who wholly abandon themselves to Him.


_Sacrificate sacrificium justitiæ et sperate in Domino: Sacrifice,
saith the prophet, a sacrifice of justice and hope in the Lord._ That
is to say that the grand and solid foundation of the spiritual life is
to give one’s self to God to be the subject of His good pleasure in all
things, interiorly as well as exteriorly, and to so utterly forget self
that we regard it as a thing sold and delivered, to which we have no
longer any right; so that our joy consists wholly in the good pleasure
of God, and His honor and glory are our sole contentment.

This foundation laid, the soul has but to pass her life rejoicing that
God is God, abandoning herself so completely to His good pleasure
that she is equally content to do one thing as another, according as
this good pleasure directs, never even pausing to reflect upon the
disposition which is made of her by the will of God.

Self-abandonment! this, then, is the grand duty which remains to
be fulfilled after one has faithfully acquitted himself of all the
obligations of his state. The perfection with which this grand duty is
accomplished is the measure of one’s sanctity.

A holy soul is a soul who, with the aid of grace, freely abandons
herself to the divine will. All that follows this pure self-abandonment
is the work of God and not of man. God asks nothing more of this soul
than to blindly receive all that He sends, in a spirit of submission
and universal indifference to the instruments of His will; the rest
He determines and chooses according to His designs for the soul as an
architect arranges and selects his materials according to the edifice
he would construct.

In all things, therefore, we must love God and His order; we must love
it as it is presented to us without desiring more. It is for God,
not for us, to determine the objects of our submission, and what He
sends is best for the soul. What a grand epitome of spirituality is
this maxim of pure and absolute self-abandonment to the will of God!
Self-abandonment, that continual forgetfulness of self which leaves
the soul free to eternally love and obey God, untroubled by those
fears, reflections, regrets, and anxieties which the care of one’s own
perfection and salvation gives! Since God offers to take upon Himself
the care of our affairs, let us once for all abandon them to His
infinite wisdom, that we may never more be occupied with aught but Him
and His interests.

Arise, then, my soul; let us walk with uplifted head above all that is
passing about us and within us, ever content with God--content with
what He does with us, and with what He gives us to do. Let us beware of
imprudently falling a prey to those numerous disquieting reflections
which, like so many tangled labyrinths, entrap the mind into useless,
endless wanderings. Let us avoid this snare of self-love by springing
over it, and not by following its interminable windings.

Onward, my soul, through weariness, sickness, dryness, infirmities
of temper, weakness of mind, snares of the devil and of men, their
suspicions, jealousies, evil thoughts, and prejudices! Let us soar
like the eagle above all these clouds, our eyes fixed upon the Sun
of Justice, and its rays which are our obligations. Doubtless we may
feel these trials; it does not depend upon us to be insensible to
them. But let us remember that our life is not a life of sentiment.
Let us live in this superior part of the soul where God and His will
work out for us an ever uniform, equable, immutable eternity. In this
wholly spiritual dwelling where the Uncreated, the Ineffable, the
Infinite holds the soul immeasurably separated from all shadows and
created atoms, reigns perpetual calm, even though the senses be the
prey of tempests. We have learned to rise above the senses; their
restlessness, their disquiet, their comings and goings, and their
hundred transformations disturb us no more than the clouds which
darken the sky for a moment and disappear. We know that in the region
of the senses all things are like the wind, without sequence or order,
in continual vicissitude. God’s will forms the eternal charm of the
heart in the state of faith, just as in the state of glory it shall
constitute its true happiness; and this glorious state of the heart
will influence the whole material being at present a prey to terrors
and temptations. Under these appearances, however terrible they may
be, the action of God, giving to the material being a facility wholly
divine, will cause it to shine like the sun; for the faculties of the
sensitive soul and those of the body are prepared here below like
gold, iron, flax, and stone. And like these different substances they
will attain the purity and splendor of their form only after they
have passed through many processes and suffered loss and destruction.
All that we endure here below at the hand of God is intended as a
preparation for our future state.

The faithful soul who knows the secret of God’s ways dwells in perfect
peace; and all that transpires within her, so far from alarming, only
reassures her. Intimately convinced that it is God who guides her, she
accepts everything as a grace, and lives wholly forgetful of self,
the object upon which God labors, that she may think only of the work
committed to her care. Her love unceasingly animates the courage which
enables her to faithfully and carefully fulfil her obligations.

Except the sins of a self-abandoned soul, which are light, and even
converted to her good by the divine will, there is nothing _distinctly
manifest_ in her but the action of grace. And this action is distinctly
manifest in all those painful or consoling impressions by means of
which the divine will unceasingly works the soul’s good. I use the term
“distinctly manifest,” for of all that transpires within the soul,
these impressions are what it best distinguishes. To find God under all
these appearances is the great art of faith; to make everything a means
of uniting one’s self with God is the exercise of faith.



_CHAPTER II._

 The more God seems to withdraw Light from the Soul abandoned to His
 Direction, the more Safely He guides Her.


It is particularly in souls wholly abandoned to God that the words of
St. John are accomplished: _You have no need that any man teach you;
but as His unction teacheth you of all things_. To know what God asks
of them, they have but to consult this unction, to sound the heart,
to heed its voice; it interprets the will of God according to their
present needs. For the divine action disguised reveals its designs, not
by thoughts, but by intuition. It manifests them to the soul either by
necessity, leaving it but the one present course to choose, or by a
first impulse, a sort of supernatural transport which impels to action
without reflection, or, finally, by a certain attraction or repulsion
which, while leaving the soul perfect liberty, no less attracts it to
or withdraws it from objects.

Were we to judge by appearances, it would seem most unwise to thus
pursue a course so uncertain; a course of conduct in which, according
to ordinary rules, we find nothing stable, uniform, or regular. It
is nevertheless at bottom the highest state of virtue, and one which
usually is only attained after long exercise therein. The virtue of
this state is virtue in all its purity; in fact, it is perfection. The
soul is like a musician who to long practice unites great knowledge
of music; he is so full of his art that, without any effort, all that
he does therein is perfection; and if his compositions be examined,
they will be found in perfect conformity with prescribed rules. One
is convinced that he will never succeed better than when he acts
without restraint, untrammelled by rules which fetter genius when too
scrupulously followed; and his impromptus, like so many masterpieces,
are the admiration of connoisseurs.

Thus the soul, after long exercise in the science and practice of
perfection under the empire of reason and the methods with which she
aids grace, insensibly forms a habit of acting in all things by divine
instinct. Such a soul seems to intuitively accept as best the first
duty that presents itself, without resorting to the reasoning which she
formerly found necessary.

She has only to act according to circumstances, unable to do anything
but abandon herself to that grace which can never mislead her. The work
of a soul in this state of simplicity is nothing less than marvellous
to eyes and minds divinely enlightened. Without rule, yet exactness
itself; without measure, yet nothing better proportioned; without
reflection, yet nothing more profound; without ingenuity, yet nothing
better managed; without effort, yet nothing more efficacious; without
forethought, yet nothing better fitted to unforeseen events.

The divine action frequently gives by means of spiritual reading
knowledge which the authors never possessed. God makes use of the
words and actions of others to inspire hidden truths. If He wills to
enlighten us by such means, it is the part of the self-abandoned soul
to accept them; and all means which become the instrument of the divine
will possess an efficacy far surpassing their natural and apparent
virtue.

A life of self-abandonment is characterized by mystery; it is a
life which receives from God extraordinary miraculous gifts through
commonplace, fortuitous events, chance encounters, where nothing is
visible to human eyes but the ordinary workings of men’s minds and
the natural course of the elements. Thus the simplest sermons, the
most commonplace conversations, the least elevating books, become to
these souls by virtue of the will of God sources of intelligence and
wisdom. Therefore they carefully gather the crumbs of wisdom which
the worldly-wise trample under foot. Everything is precious to them,
everything enriches them; so that, while supremely indifferent to all
things, they neglect or despise nothing, drawing profit from all.

When we behold God in all things, and use them by His order, it is not
using creatures, but enjoying the divine action which transmits its
gifts through these different channels. They are not of themselves
sanctifying, but only as instruments of the divine action which
can and frequently does communicate its graces to simple souls by
means apparently contrary to the end proposed. Yes, divine grace
can enlighten with clay as with the most subtle material, and its
instrument is always efficacious. All things are alike to it. Faith
never feels any need; she complains not of the lack of means apparently
necessary to her advancement, for the divine Workman for whom she
labors supplies all deficiencies by His will. This holy will is the
whole virtue of all creatures.



_CHAPTER III._

 The Afflictions with which God visits the Soul are but Loving
 Artifices at which she will One Day rejoice.


Souls who walk in light sing canticles of joy; those who walk amid
shadows sing anthems of woe. Let one and the other sing to the end the
portion and anthem God assigns them. We must add nothing to what He has
completed. There must flow every drop of this gall of divine bitterness
with which He wills to inebriate them. Behold Jeremias and Ezechiel:
theirs was the language of sighs and lamentations, and their only
consolation was in the continuation of their lament. He who would have
dried their tears would have deprived us of the most beautiful portions
of the Holy Scriptures. The spirit that afflicts is the only one which
can console. The streams of sorrow and consolation flow from the same
source.

When God astonishes a soul she must needs tremble; when He menaces, she
cannot but fear. We have but to leave the divine operation to its own
development; it bears within itself the remedy as well as the trial.
Weep, dear souls; tremble, suffer disquiet and anguish; make no effort
to escape these divine terrors, these heavenly lamentations. Receive
into the depth of your being the waters of that sea of bitterness which
inundated the soul of Christ. Continue to sow in tears at the will
of divine grace, and insensibly by the same will their source shall
be dried. The clouds will dissolve, the sun will shed its light, the
springtime will strew your path with flowers, and your self-abandonment
will manifest to you the whole extent of the admirable variety of the
divine action.

Truly, man disquiets himself in vain! All that passes within him
is like a dream. One shadow follows and effaces another, just as
the fancies of sleep succeed one another, some troubling, others
delighting, the mind. Man is the sport of these imaginations which
consume one another, and the grand awakening will show the equal
emptiness of them all. It will dissipate all illusions, and he will no
longer heed the perils or fortunes of this dream called life.

Lord, can it not be said that Thy children sleep in Thy bosom during
all the night of faith, while at Thy pleasure Thou fillest their souls
with an infinite number and infinite variety of experiences which are
in reality but holy and mysterious reveries? In this obscure night of
the soul they are filled with veritable and awful terrors, with anguish
and weariness which on the glorious day Thou wilt change into true and
solid joys.

At their awakening, holy souls, restored to a clearer vision and
fuller consciousness, will never weary admiring the skill, the art,
the invention, the loving artifices of the Bridegroom. They will
comprehend how impenetrable are His ways, how surpassing comprehension
are His devices, how beyond discovery His disguises, how impossible
consolation when He willed that they should mourn. On the day of
this awakening the Jeremias and the Davids will see that that which
wrought their bitterest pain was subject of rejoicing to God and the
angels. Wake not the spouse, worldly-wise, industrious minds filled
with self-activity; leave her to sigh and tremblingly seek for the
Bridegroom. True, He eludes her, and disguises Himself; she sleeps, and
her griefs are but as the phantoms which come with night and sleep.
But disturb her not; let the Bridegroom work upon this cherished soul
and depict in her what He alone can paint or express. Leave Him to
develop the result of this state. He will awake her when it is time.
Joseph causes Benjamin to weep; servants of Joseph, reveal not his
secret to this cherished brother! The artifice of Joseph is beyond the
penetration of Benjamin. He and his poor brothers are plunged in grief;
they see naught in the loving artifice of Joseph but irremediable
suffering. Enlighten them not: He will remedy all; He will reveal
himself to them, and they will admire the wisdom of Him who out of so
much woe and desolation wrought the truest joy they have ever known.



_CHAPTER IV._

 The more God seems to take from a Soul wholly abandoned to Him, the
 more Generous He is to her.


But let us go on in the study of the divine action and its loving
artifices. What the divine action seems to take from a good will
it gives in _disguise_, so to speak. It never leaves a good will
in need. For example, if we relieved the necessities of a friend
with generous gifts, allowing him to know they came from us, but
later, in his interest making a feint of withholding our gifts while
continuing to secretly assist him, the friend, not suspecting the ruse
or comprehending the kindly artifice, is grieved and hurt. Bitter
reflections and unkind thoughts of his benefactor torment him. But when
the loving ruse is revealed to him, imagine the joy, the confusion,
the love, the shame, the gratitude, which overwhelm him! And are not
his zeal and love for his benefactor greater henceforth? And has not
the trial only strengthened his love and made it proof against any
similar misunderstandings in the future?

The application is simple. The more we seem to lose with God, the
more we really gain; the more He deprives us of natural aid, the more
He gives us of supernatural. We loved Him a little for His gifts,
but these being no longer visible we come to love Him for Himself.
It is by the apparent withdrawal of these sensible gifts and favors
that He prepares us for Himself, the greatest of all gifts. The souls
once wholly submissive to the divine action should always interpret
all things favorably--yes, were it the loss of the most excellent of
directors, were it the distrust which they feel in spite of themselves
for those who too readily offer to fill his place; for usually the
guides who of themselves seek the direction of souls merit a little
distrust. Those who are truly animated by the Spirit of God are not
ordinarily so impetuous or self-confident: they are sought, they do not
offer themselves, and never cease to distrust themselves.

Let the soul that has wholly given herself to God walk fearlessly
through all these trials, letting none of them deprive her of
her liberty. Provided she be faithful to the divine action, this
all-powerful action will work wonders in her despite all obstacles.
God and the soul are engaged in the same work, the success of which,
though depending entirely on the action of the divine Workman, may
nevertheless be compromised by the infidelity of the soul.

When it is well with the soul, all goes well; for that which is of
God--that is, His part and action--are, so to speak, the rebound of
the soul’s fidelity. It is the right side of the work which, like
those famous tapestries, are done stitch by stitch on the wrong side.
The workman engaged thereon sees but his needle and the canvas, every
little hole of which is successively filled, forming a beautiful design
which is only visible however, when every detail is completed, and the
right side is held up to view, but during the process of the work all
its beauty and its marvels were unseen.

And thus it is with the self-abandoned soul: it sees only God and its
duty. The fulfilment of the duty of each moment is but the addition
of an imperceptible point, and yet it is by means of these apparent
trifles that God effects His wonders. We are given a presentment of
these wonders at times here below, but we shall only understand them
in the light of eternity. How full of wisdom and goodness are the ways
of God! He has made all that is great, elevating and ennobling so
completely the work of His grace and action, leaving to the soul what
is easy and simple to be accomplished with the aid of grace, that there
is no one who cannot attain eminent sanctity by the loving fulfilment
of obscure and humble duties.



_CHAPTER V._

 The less Capable the Faithful Soul is of defending Herself, the more
 Powerfully does God defend Her.


The supreme and infallible work of the divine action is always
opportunely applied to the simple soul, and she in all things wisely
corresponds to its intimate direction. She accepts all that comes
to her, all that transpires, all that she feels--all, all save sin;
sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, being impelled, not by
any reason, but by an indistinct impulse, to speak, to act, or not to
act.

Frequently the occasion and the reason which determine her course are
merely of the natural order; the simple soul sees no mystery therein,
but pure chance, necessity, conventionality; it is nothing in her eyes
or those of others: and yet the divine action, which is the wisdom, the
counsel, the knowledge of its friends, causes these simple things to
work their good. It appropriates them and turns them so energetically
against the schemes of the faithful soul’s enemies, that it is
impossible for them to injure her.

The divine action frees the soul from the petty anxious schemes so
necessary to human prudence. Such precautions are suitable for Herod
and the Pharisees: but the Magi have but to follow their star in peace;
the Babe has but to rest in His Mother’s arms; His enemies advance
His cause more than they injure it; the more they seek to thwart and
overwhelm it, the more peacefully and freely He advances. He will not
court or temporize with them to turn their attacks from Him; their
jealousies, their distrust, their persecutions, are necessary to Him.
Thus lived Jesus in Judea; and He still lives after this manner in
simple souls, where He is generous, gentle, free, peaceful; fearing
and needing no creature, but beholding them all in the hands of His
Father; eager to turn them to His service, some through their criminal
passions, others through their good actions, others through their
obedience and submission.

The divine action marvellously adjusts all these things: there is
neither too little nor too much; no more good and evil than needful.

The order of God sends each moment the appropriate instrument for its
work; and the simple soul enlightened by faith finds all things good,
desiring neither more nor less than she possesses. At all times she
blesses the divine Hand which so carefully supplies her needs and
frees her from obstacles; she receives friends and foes with equal
sweetness, for it is the way of Jesus to treat the whole world as a
divine instrument. We want for none, and yet we have need of all; the
divine action renders all necessary, and we must receive all from
it, accepting each thing according to its nature and quality, and
corresponding thereto with sweetness and humility, treating the simple
with simplicity, the ungentle with gentleness, after the teaching of
St. Paul and the more beautiful practice of the divine Master.

Divine grace alone can imprint that supernatural character which adapts
itself so marvellously to each individual nature. It is not learned
from books; it is a true spirit of prophecy, and the effect of intimate
revelation; it is the teaching of the Holy Spirit. To conceive it one
must have attained the highest degree of self-abandonment and the
most perfect detachment from all plans and interests, however holy
they may be. We must keep before our eyes the one important thing in
this world, viz., the passive abandonment to the divine action which
is required of us in order to devote ourselves to the duties of our
state, leaving the Holy Spirit to operate interiorly, indifferent as
to what He operates upon, even happy not to know it. Then, then we are
safe; for all the events of the world can only work the good of souls
perfectly submissive to the divine will of God.



_CHAPTER VI._

 The Soul abandoned to the Will of God, so far from resisting her
 Enemies, finds in them Useful Auxiliaries.


I fear my own action and that of my friends more than I do my enemies.
There is no prudence equal to that of offering no resistance to one’s
enemies but that of simple abandonment to the will of God; nothing
which so fully insures our peace; it is rowing with the tide, sailing
with a wind which swiftly brings us into port. There is nothing
better than simplicity with which to meet the prudence of this world;
it skilfully, though unconsciously, evades its snares without even
thinking of them.

Dealing with a simple soul is, in a measure, dealing with God. Who
can cope with the Almighty, whose ways are inscrutable? God espouses
the cause of the simple soul; she has no need to study the intrigues
of her enemies, to meet their activity with equal alertness, watching
all their movements: her Spouse relieves her of all this; she confides
all to Him, and then rests on His breast in peace and security. The
divine action inspires her with measures so just that they who sought
to surprise her are themselves surprised. She benefits by all their
efforts, and rises by the very means with which they sought to abase
her. All contradictions turn to her good; and by leaving her enemies
to work their will she draws so great and continual profit from them
that all she need fear is that she may interfere in a work in which
God wills to be the chief actor, using her enemies as His instruments,
and in which the soul has no other part than to peacefully watch the
working of the divine will and follow its guidance with simplicity.

The supernatural prudence of the divine Spirit, the principle of these
attractions, unerringly seizes the end and intimate relations of each
event, and, all unknown to the soul, so disposes them for her spiritual
welfare that all which opposes itself thereto must inevitably be
destroyed.



_CHAPTER VII._

 The Soul who abandons Herself to God has no Need to justify Herself by
 Words or Actions: the Divine Action justifies Her.


The broad, solid, firm rock upon which the faithful soul stands
sheltered from tides and storms is the order of the divine will, which
is ever present with us, veiled under crosses or the most ordinary
duties. Behind these shadows is hidden God’s Hand, which sustains and
upholds those who abandon themselves to Him.

The moment the soul is firmly established in this perfect
self-abandonment she is henceforth safe from the contradiction of
tongues, for she ceases to have anything to do or say in her own
defence. Since the work is God’s, from no other source must its
justification be sought. Its consequences and effects will sufficiently
justify it. We have but to leave it to its own development. _Dies diei
eructat verbum._

When we are no longer guided by our own ideas we need not defend
ourselves by words. Our words can only represent our ideas, and where
an absence of ideas is admitted no words are needed. Of what avail are
they? To give a reason for what we do? But we know not this reason;
it is hidden in the principle which animates our actions, and which
impresses us only in a most ineffable manner.

We must therefore leave to the results of our actions the task of
justifying their principle. All is metely sustained in this divine
procession; everything therein has a firm and solid basis, and the
reason for that which precedes is manifest in the result which follows.
It is no longer a life of thought, imagination, multiplied words:
these no longer occupy, nourish, or sustain the soul. She no longer
knows where she walks, or where her path may lie in the future; she
ceases to incite herself with reflections to bear the toils and
fatigues of the route; her strength lies in an intimate conviction of
her own weakness. A way is opened to her feet; she enters and walks
unhesitatingly therein with pure, straightforward, simple faith;
she follows the straight path of the commandments, leaning upon God
Himself, whom she finds at every turn of the way; and this God, the
sole object of her life, will take her justification upon Himself, and
so manifest His presence that she will be avenged of her detractors.



_CHAPTER VIII._

 God gives Life to the Soul abandoned to Him by Means which apparently
 lead only to Death.


There is a time when God wills to be the life of the soul and work
out her perfection Himself in a hidden and secret manner: then all
her own ideas, lights, efforts, researches, reasonings, become a
source of illusion. And when the soul, after many sad experiences, is
finally taught the uselessness of her self-activity, she finds that
God has hidden and obstructed all other channels of life that she may
live in Him alone. Then, convinced of her nothingness, and that her
self-activity is prejudicial to her, she abandons herself completely
to God and relies only upon Him. God then becomes a source of life to
the soul, not by means of thoughts, revelations, reflections (these are
now become a source of illusion), but effectively by the reality of
His grace hidden under the strangest appearances. The divine operation
being invisible to the soul, she receives its virtue, its substance,
under circumstances which she feels will prove her ruin. There is no
remedy for this obscurity; we must remain buried therein; for here,
in this night of faith, God gives Himself to us, and with Himself all
things. Henceforth the soul is but a blind subject; or rather she may
be likened to a sick man who, ignorant of the virtue of his remedies,
and feeling only their bitterness, frequently imagines they must lead
to death; the exhaustion and crisis which follow them seem to justify
his fears: nevertheless, under this semblance of death he receives
health, and he continues to accept the remedies at the word of the
physician.

Thus souls abandoned to God’s will take no heed of their infirmities,
except those of a nature sufficiently evident and grave to require care
and treatment. The languor and impotence of faithful souls are but
illusions and semblances which they must courageously face. God sends
and permits them to exercise their faith and self-abandonment, and in
these virtues lies the soul’s true remedy. She must go on generously,
utterly ignoring her infirmities, accepting all that comes to her to do
or suffer in the order of God, never hesitating to treat her body as
we do those beasts of burden only destined to spend their lives going
hither and thither at our will. This treatment is more efficacious than
all that delicate care which only weakens the vigor of the mind. This
strength of purpose has an indescribable virtue and power to sustain
a feeble body; and a year of this noble and generous life is worth a
century of selfish fears and care.

We must endeavor to habitually maintain an air of childlike gentleness
and good-will. Ah! what can we fear from this divine fortune? Guided,
sustained, and protected by the Providence of God, the whole exterior
conduct of His children should be nothing less than heroic. The
alarming objects which oppose their progress are naught in themselves:
they are only sent to embellish their lives by still more glorious
actions. They entangle them in embarrassments of every kind, whence
human prudence can see no issue, and, feeling its weakness, stops
short, confounded. Then does the divine fortune gloriously manifest
what it is for souls who wholly trust therein. It extricates them more
marvellously than the writers of fiction with unrestrained imagination
in the leisure and privacy of their study unraveled the intrigues and
perils of their imaginary heroes, bringing them invariably to a happy
end. More admirably still does it guide them safely through the perils
of death, the snares of demons, the terrors of temptation, the fears
of hell. It elevates these souls to heaven, and they are all the real
subject of those mystic histories more beautiful and curious than any
ever invented by the crude imagination of man.

Then onward, my soul, through perils and fears, guided, directed, and
sustained by the invisible, all-powerful, unerring Hand of divine
Providence. Let us go on fearlessly in joy and peace to the end,
turning obstacles into victories, remembering that it was to struggle
and conquer that we enrolled ourselves under His banner. _Exivit
vincens ut vinceret_, and every step under His guidance is a victory.
The book of souls lies open before the Holy Spirit, and their history
is still written, for holy souls will furnish material for its pages
to the end of the world. This history is but the relation of God’s
operations and designs upon man, and it depends upon ourselves whether
we shall appear in its pages and continue its narration by uniting our
sufferings and actions to His divine will.

No; let nothing we have to do or suffer alarm us: it can cause us no
loss; it is only sent us that we may furnish material for that holy
history, which is increasing day by day.



_CHAPTER IX._

 Love holds the Place of All Things to Souls who walk in the Way of
 Abandonment.


God, while He despoils a soul who wholly abandons herself to Him,
gives her something which takes the place of all things--of light, of
strength, of life, of wisdom. This gift is His love. Divine love is
like a supernatural instinct in these souls.

Everything in nature has that which is suited to its kind; each flower
has its peculiar charm, each animal its instinct, and each creature its
perfection. And so it is in the different states of grace; each has its
special grace, and this is a recompense to every one whose good will
brings him in harmony with the state in which Providence has placed him.

A soul becomes subject to the divine action the moment a good will is
formed in her heart; and this action influences her according to the
degree of her self-abandonment. The art of self-abandonment is simply
the art of loving; divine love grants all things to the soul who
refuses Him nothing. And as God’s love inspires the desires of a soul
who lives for him, He can never refuse them; therefore, cannot love
desire what it pleases?

The divine action only considers the good will of a soul; the capacity
or incapacity of the other faculties neither attract nor repel it.
If it find a soul good, pure, upright, simple, submissive, it is
all it requires; it takes possession of this soul and of all her
faculties, and so disposes all things for her good that she finds
means of sanctification in everything. That which would give death to
others, should it enter this soul will be harmless, for the antidote
of her good will will arrest the effect of the poison. If she stray
to the brink of the abyss, the divine action will withhold her from
its depths, or if she fall it will rescue her. And indeed the faults
of these souls are but faults of frailty and little perceptible;
God’s love knows how to turn them to her advantage, and by secret and
ineffable ways teaches her what she should say and do according to the
circumstances in which she is placed.

Such souls receive as it were rays of divine intelligence: _Intellectus
bonus omnibus facientibus eum_. For this divine intelligence
accompanies them in all their wanderings, and rescues them from the
snares into which their simplicity leads them. Have they committed
themselves by some mistaken measure? Providence disposes a happy
event which releases them. Vainly are intrigues multiplied against
them; Providence overcomes all the efforts of their enemies, and so
confounds and bewilders them that they fall into their own snares. Do
they seek to surprise the soul? Providence, by means of some apparently
unimportant action which she unconsciously performs, rescues her from
the embarrassments into which she has been led by her own uprightness
and the malice of her enemies.

Oh, the exquisite wisdom of this good will! What prudence in its
simplicity, what ingenuity in its innocence, what frankness in its
mysteries, what mystery in its candor!

Behold the young Tobias: he is a mere youth; but Raphael walks at his
side, and with such a guide he walks in safety, he feels no want,
nothing affrights him. Even the monsters he encounters furnish him food
and healing; the very creature which springs to devour him becomes his
nourishment. He is only occupied with nuptials and festivities, for
such is his present duty in the order of Providence; not that he is
without other cares, but they are abandoned to that divine intelligence
charged to assist him in all things; and the result of his affairs
is better than he could have made it, for everything succeeds and is
crowned with prosperity. Yet the mother bitterly grieves, while the
father is full of faith; but the child so sorely lamented joyfully
returns to become the happiness of his family.

Then for those souls who wholly abandon themselves to it, divine
love is the source of all good; and an earnest desire is all that is
necessary to obtain this inestimable blessing.

Yes, dear souls, God asks but your heart; if you seek you will find
this treasure, this kingdom where God alone reigns.

If your heart be wholly devoted to God, within it you will find the
treasure, the kingdom itself, which is the object of your desires. The
moment we desire God and His will, that moment we enjoy them, and our
enjoyment corresponds to the ardor of our desires. The earnest desire
to love God is loving Him. Because we love Him we desire to be the
instruments of His action, that His love may freely operate in us and
through us.

The work of the divine action is not in proportion to the capacity
of a simple holy soul, but to her purity of intention; nor does it
correspond to the means she adopts, the projects she forms, the counsel
she follows. The soul may err in all these, and this not rarely
happens; but with a good will and pure intention she can never be
misled. When God sees this good disposition He overlooks all the rest,
and accepts as done what the soul would assuredly do if circumstances
seconded her good will.

Therefore a good will has nothing to fear; if it falter, it can but
fall under that all-powerful Hand which guides and sustains it in all
its wanderings. It is this divine Hand which draws it towards the goal
when it has wandered therefrom, which restores it to the path whence
its feet have strayed; it is the soul’s refuge in the difficulties into
which the efforts of her blind faculties lead her; and the soul learns
to despise these, efforts to wholly abandon herself to the infallible
guidance of this divine Hand. Even the errors of these good souls
lead them to self-abandonment; and never will a good will find itself
unaided, for it is a dogma of faith that _all things work the good_ of
such souls.



_CHAPTER X._

 The Faithful Soul finds in Submission to the Will of God more Force
 and Strength than the Proudest of those who resist Him.


What avail the most sublime intelligence and divine revelations if we
love not the will of God? It was through these that Lucifer perished.
The work of the divine action which God revealed to him in the mystery
of the Incarnation excited only his envy. A simple soul, on the
contrary, enlightened by faith alone, never wearies admiring, praising,
and loving the order of God, recognizing it not only in holy things,
but even amid the greatest confusion and disorder of events. A simple
soul is more enlightened with a ray of pure faith than was Lucifer by
His sublime revelations.

The science of a soul faithful to her obligations, peacefully
submissive to the secret inspirations of grace, humble and gentle with
all, is worth more than the profound wisdom which penetrates mysteries.

If we would learn to see but the will of God in the pride and cruelty
of creatures, we would always meet them with gentleness and respect.
Whatever the consequences of their disorders, they can never mar the
divine order. We must only see in creatures the will of God, whose
instruments they are, and whose grace they communicate to us when
we receive them with meekness and humility. We have not to concern
ourselves for their course, but keep steadily on in our own; and thus,
with gentle firmness, we will triumph over all obstacles, were they
firmly rooted as cedars and irresistible as rocks.

What can resist the force of a meek, humble, faithful soul? If we
would vanquish all our adversaries, we have but to use the weapons God
has placed in our hands. He has given them for our defence, and there
is nothing to be feared in using them. We must not be cowardly but
generous, as becomes souls chosen to do God’s work. God’s workings are
sublime and marvellous; and never can human action, warring upon God,
resist one who is united to the divine will by the practice of meekness
and humility.

What was Lucifer? A beautiful spirit, more enlightened than all the
others; but a beautiful spirit rebellious against God and His will.

The mystery of evil is but the continuation of this rebellion in every
variety of form. Lucifer, as far as lies in his power, would subvert
all that God has done and ordained. Wherever he penetrates, God’s
work is marred. The greater one’s learning, science, understanding,
the greater his danger if he possess not that foundation of piety
which consists in submission to the will of God. It is a disciplined,
submissive heart which unites us to the divine action; without it all
our goodness is but natural virtue, and ordinarily in opposition to the
order of God. This all-powerful Workman only recognizes the humble as
His instruments, and condemns the rebellious proud to serve in spite of
themselves as the slaves of divine justice.

When I see a soul whose first object is God and submission to His will,
however much she may be lacking in other things, I say, Here is a soul
with great talents for serving God. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph
appear to have been after this model. Other gifts without this alarm
me; I fear to see the action of Lucifer repeated. I am on my guard, and
intrench myself in my simplicity to resist the dazzling splendor of
those gifts, of themselves so perishable and fragile.



_CHAPTER XI._

 The Soul abandoned to God learns to recognize His Will even in the
 Proud who resist Him. All Creatures, whether Good or Evil, reveal Him
 to her.


The will of God is the whole life of the simple soul. She respects this
will even in the evil actions by which the proud seek to abase her. The
proud despise a soul in whose eyes they are nothing; for she sees only
God in them and all their actions. Frequently they mistake her humble
demeanor for awe of themselves, when it is only a mark of her loving
fear of God and His will which is present to her in the proud.

No, poor foolish creatures, the simple soul fears ye not. Rather, she
compassionates you. It is to God she speaks when she seems to address
you; it is with Him she treats; she regards you only as His slaves, or
rather as shadows which veil Him. Therefore, the more overbearing you
are, the more humble she becomes; and when you think to entrap her you
find yourselves the dupes. Your diplomacy, your violence, are to her,
but favors of Providence. Yes, the proud are still an enigma which the
simple soul enlightened by faith clearly reads.

This recognition of the divine will in all that transpires each moment
within us and about us is the true science of the spiritual life;
it is a continual revelation of truth; it is a communication with
God incessantly renewed; it is the enjoyment of the Bridegroom, not
covertly, secretly, in the “clefts of the rock,” in the “vineyard,” but
openly, publicly, without fear of creatures. It is a depth of peace,
joy, love, and contentment with God, whom we see, or rather behold,
through faith, living and working the perfection of each event. It is
the eternal paradise, now tasted, it is true, only in things incomplete
and veiled in obscurity; but the Spirit of God disposes all the events
of this life by the fruitful omnipresence of His action, and on the
last day He will say, _Let there be light_ (_Fiat lux_); and then shall
be revealed the treasures of that abyss of peace and contentment with
God which each action, each cross, conceals.

When God thus gives Himself to a soul, all that is ordinary becomes
extraordinary; therefore it is that nothing appears of the great work
which is going on in the soul; the way itself is so marvellous that it
needs not the embellishment of marvels which belong not to it. It is
a miracle, a revelation, a continuous enjoyment of God, interrupted
only by little faults; but in itself it is characterized by the absence
of anything sensible or marvellous, while it renders marvellous all
ordinary and sensible things.



_CHAPTER XII._

 God assures to Faithful Souls a Glorious Victory over the Powers of
 Earth and Hell.


If the divine action is veiled here below by an exterior of weakness,
it is that the merit of faithful souls may be increased; but its
triumph is no less sure. The history of the world is simply the history
of the struggle maintained from the beginning by the powers of the
world and hell with souls humbly submissive to the divine action. In
the conflict all the advantage seems to be on the side of the proud;
yet humility is always victorious.

This world is represented to us under the form of a statue of gold,
brass, iron, and clay. This mystery of iniquity which was shown in a
dream to Nebuchadnezzar is but the confused assemblage of all the acts,
interior and exterior, of the children of darkness. These are again
represented by the beast coming up out of the abyss from the beginning
of all ages, to make war upon the interior and spiritual man; and
this war still continues. The monsters succeed one another; the abyss
swallows them and vomits them forth again, while unceasingly emitting
new and strange vapors. The combat begun in heaven between Lucifer and
St. Michael still wages. The heart of that proud and envious spirit has
become an inexhaustible abyss of every kind of evil; and his only aim
since the creation of the world has been to ever raise up among men new
workers of iniquity to replace those swallowed up in the abyss. Lucifer
is the chieftain of those who refuse obedience to the Almighty; this
mystery of iniquity is but the inversion of the order of God. It is the
order, or rather the disorder, of Satan. This disorder is a mystery,
for beneath a fair exterior it hides irremediable infinite evils.
All the wicked who have declared war against God, from Cain to those
who now lay waste the earth, have been seemingly great and powerful
princes, famous in the world and worshipped of men. But their apparent
splendor is a portion of the mystery; they are but the beasts which,
one after another, rise from the abyss to subvert the order of God.
But this order, which is another mystery, resists them with men truly
powerful and great, who give the death-blow to these monsters; and
even as hell vomits forth new monsters, heaven raises up new heroes
to battle with them. Ancient history, sacred and profane, is but the
record of this war. The will of God always triumphs. His followers
share His victories and reap a happy eternity. But iniquity can never
protect its followers, and the deserters from God’s cause reap death,
eternal death.

The wicked ever believe themselves invincible; but oh, my God, who
shall resist Thee! Were the powers of earth and hell ranged against one
single soul, she would have naught to fear in abandoning herself to the
will of God. That apparent might and irresistible power of iniquity,
that head of gold, that body of silver, brass, and iron, is but a
phantom of glittering dust. A pebble overthrows it and makes it the
sport of the winds.

How admirable is the work of the Holy Spirit throughout all ages! The
revolutions which irresistibly carry men along with them, the brilliant
heroes heralded with so much pomp, who shine like stars above the
rest of mankind, the marvels of the age, are all but as the dream of
Nebuchadnezzar, which at his awakening fled with all its terrors.

All these things are only sent to exercise the courage of the children
of God; and when their virtue is proved and confirmed, He permits them
to overcome these monsters, and continues to send new warriors into the
field. So that this life is a continual warfare which exercises the
courage of the saints on earth, and causes joy in heaven and confusion
in hell.

Thus all opposition to the will, the order of God, serves but to render
it more adorable. The servers of iniquity are the slaves of justice,
and from the ruins of Babylon the divine action builds the heavenly
Jerusalem.



APPENDIX.


Our readers will be grateful to us for adding to Father Caussade’s
treatise a few methods which facilitate the practice of abandonment. To
recommend these methods it suffices to say that their authors are St.
Francis de Sales, Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Bossuet, and Father
Surin.



I.

A very easy Means of acquiring Peace of Heart.

BY FATHER SURIN, S. J.


It seems to me that the multiplicity of methods we employ to acquire
and practise virtue is one of the obstacles to our being solidly
established therein. Not that I counsel being so irrevocably bound
to one method that we are not ready to change when God’s attraction
changes. But, after all, this attraction at bottom never changes, and
only presents itself under a more spiritual form. They who will be
faithful to the following rules will have no difficulty in practising
the virtues appropriate to the circumstances, the time, and the place
in which they find themselves, and in relishing in the exercise of
these virtues the peace and holy liberty of the children of God.

1st. Let us be fully convinced that we have but one thing to do: to
possess each moment the fulness of our mind, without permitting the
reasonable will to uselessly recall the past or excite vain anxieties
concerning the future.

True abandonment, which makes God look upon us with love, consists
in leaving the past to His ever merciful justice, and in confiding
the future to His fatherly Providence. The remembrance of our past
infidelities should humble but not trouble us, though we were convinced
that they are much more serious than they appear.

In regard to the future, let us place no trust whatever in our strength
and the sentiments of devotion we may experience; let us place all our
trust in Jesus alone, however contrary sensible impressions may be.
Relying on this foundation, it is no presumption to feel ourselves
stronger than earth and hell; and the greater this confidence, the more
it honors Jesus Christ, and the more it disposes His goodness to succor
us in all our needs.

2d. We shall sanctify the present moment by renewing as frequently as
we shall feel it needful the act of recollection which we must have
made the first time with all the fervor of which we are capable; but
this recollection should be very peaceful and dwell in the depths of
the soul more than in the sensible part.

3d. We can remain faithful to this recollection only on condition that
we frequently examine the interior and exterior condition of our soul.
As soon as we discover in her any irregularity, however small, or in
any degree displeasing to God, we should proceed to restore order with
a heart as tranquil as if we had never failed, without disquieting
ourselves with reflections springing from self-love, vexation at the
fault committed, or from a pretext of livelier contrition. These
sentiments can only retard our progress in virtue; for, while the soul
amuses itself caressing its chagrin and probing its past faults,
this useless introspection paralyzes its action and disposes it to
new falls. A peaceful regret for time ill employed, united with an
earnest endeavor to make better use of the present moment, is the true
character of love of God.

4th. The quickest means of attaining peace of heart is love of our
own abjection and miseries, voluntary offence against God, however,
excepted. This love of one’s personal abjection derives profit from
everything, even from falls, which should never discourage us.

A soul that loves her own abjection laughs at discouragement and
combats it with all her strength. Content to be of herself but
impotence and misery, she rejoices that Jesus Christ possesses the
fulness of all perfection, and that she cannot do without Him an
instant. She would not, were it in her power, will to have any strength
of herself, for her radical impotence for all good and her unceasing
need of Jesus Christ set forth His divine attributes to greater
advantage. This is the sole contentment of a soul that seeks only the
glory of God.

In this peaceful, humble way we advance in purity of divine love, and
in the extermination of our bad habits more rapidly in a week than we
would in a year of unquiet vigilance. Very little experience of God’s
way will convince us of this. For self-love is the motive and end of
those who yield to disquiet, while those who proceed with the calmness
of which we have spoken rely on Jesus Christ. Now, it is most evident
that seeking only God’s interest always gives strength, and that
egotism, even spiritual egotism, being a disorder, is weakening.

5th. The perfection of order is to be found in the complete fusion of
our interests with those of God. Therefore he who remains faithful to
this sweet habit is not astonished to see himself assailed by every
form of temptation; he bears the weary burden of them as the natural
fruit of his misery, maintains in the depth of his heart a resigned
acquiescence, and courageously drags this weary chain of his past
without permitting himself to be troubled or cast down by the memory
of his iniquities. When this thought assails him, he loses no time
examining whence it came, nor how long it has lasted, for such an
examination would be in itself a new distraction, more voluntary and
injurious than the first; he is satisfied with humbling himself at
sight of this infidelity, which, wholly involuntary as it is, proves,
nevertheless, that his heart is not wholly fixed upon God. Disquietude
in this case being a mark of self-love, we must return to God and seek
peace in love of our own abjection.

6th. We must follow the same rule in our relations with our neighbor,
and cause him to feel the truth of these words of our Saviour: “My yoke
is sweet, and My burden light.” No one who takes this yoke upon himself
can fail to realize these words, for they are the utterance of eternal
Truth. The practice of which we have just spoken will inevitably cause
us to taste its sweetness.

7th. When this feeling of disquiet has passed, and peace of mind
is restored, it is well then to recall our past faults in order to
humble and reprove ourselves. There is no one who should not feel the
need of doing this, so great is the depth of our pride and self-love
which never die, and never cease alas! to produce new fruits. If we
neglect this very important point, the foundation of our virtues will
inevitably lose its solidity. When, on the contrary, we persevere in
this habit, we always conceive a greater esteem for our neighbor;
unfavorable appearances no longer lead us to judge rashly, and we only
condemn ourselves, for, recognizing our nothingness and sinfulness, we
place ourselves under the feet of all.

8th. In considering our past faults, we must first see how we could
have avoided falling; then with a tranquil heart lay before Jesus our
misery and the will to be faithful to Him which He gives us; finally,
we must not vainly amuse ourselves with estimating the difficulty
or the facility we experience in doing good. We must not go to God
circuitously, but unceasingly rouse ourselves to that pure and generous
disinterestedness which will lead us directly to His most loving and
adorable Majesty.



II.

On Perfect Abandonment.

BY BOSSUET.


When we are truly abandoned to God’s will, we are ready for all that
may come to us: we suppose the worst that can be supposed, and we cast
ourselves blindly on the bosom of God. We forget ourselves, we lose
ourselves: and this entire forgetfulness of self is the most perfect
penance we can perform; for all conversion consists only in truly
renouncing and forgetting ourselves, to be occupied with God and filled
with Him. This forgetfulness of self is the martyrdom of self-love; it
is its death, and an annihilation which leaves it without resources:
then the heart dilates and is enlarged. We are relieved by casting from
us the dangerous weight of self which formerly overwhelmed us. We look
upon God as a good Father who leads us, as it were, by the hand in the
present moment; and all our rest is in humble and firm confidence in
His fatherly goodness.

If anything is capable of making a heart free and unrestrained, it
is perfect abandonment to God and His holy will: this abandonment
fills the heart with a divine peace more abundant than the fullest
and vastest floods. If anything can render a mind serene, dissipate
the keenest anxieties, soften the bitterest pains, it is assuredly
this perfect simplicity and liberty of a heart wholly abandoned to
the hands of God. The unction of abandonment gives a certain vigor to
all the actions, and spreads the joy of the Holy Spirit even over the
countenance and words. I will place all my strength, therefore, in this
perfect abandonment to God’s hands, through Jesus Christ, and He will
be my conclusion in all things in virtue of the Holy Spirit. Amen.



III.

 A Short and Easy Method of making the Prayer of Faith, and of the
 Simple Presence of God.

BY BOSSUET.


1st. We must accustom ourselves to nourish our soul with a simple and
loving thought of God, and of Jesus Christ, our Lord; and to this
end we must gently separate her from all discourse, reasoning, and
a multitude of affections, to keep her in simplicity, respect, and
attention, and thus bring her nearer and nearer to God, her sole and
sovereign good, her first principle, and her last end.

2d. The perfection of this life consists in union with our Sovereign
Good; and the greater the simplicity, the more perfect the union. It
is for this reason that those who would be perfect are interiorly
solicited by grace to become simple, that they may finally be capable
of enjoying the _one thing_ necessary--that is, eternal unity. Then let
us frequently say, in the depth of our hearts: _O unum necessarium,
unum volo, unum quæro, unum mihi est necessarium, Deus meus et omnia._
(Oh, one thing necessary! Thee alone do I wish, do I seek, do I desire!
Thou art all that I need, O my God and my all!)

3d. Meditation is very good in its time, and very useful at the
beginning of the spiritual life; but we must not stop at it, as the
soul by her fidelity to mortification, and recollection, usually
receives a purer and more intimate form of prayer which may be called
the prayer of “simplicity.” It consists in a simple and loving
attention, or contemplation of some divine object, either of God in
Himself or some of His perfections, or of Jesus Christ or some of
His mysteries, or some other of the Christian truths. Then the soul,
abandoning all reasoning, falls into a sweet contemplation which keeps
her tranquil, attentive, and susceptible of the operations and the
divine impressions which the Holy Spirit communicates to her: she does
little, and receives much; her labor is sweet, and yet most fruitful;
and as she approaches nearer to the source of all light, all grace, all
virtue, she also receives more.

4th. The practice of this prayer should begin at our awakening by an
act of faith in the presence of God, who is everywhere, and in Jesus
Christ, whose eyes never leave us though we were buried in the centre
of the earth. This act is made sensibly, in the usual manner; for
example, by saying interiorly, “I believe that my God is present;” or
by a simple thought of faith in God present with us, which is a purer
and more spiritual act.

5th. Then we must not endeavor to multiply, or produce several other
acts or various dispositions, but remain simply attentive to this
presence of God, exposed to this divine radiance, thus continuing this
devout attention or exposition as long as God gives us the grace of it,
without being eager to make other acts than those with which we are
inspired, since this prayer is a prayer with God alone, and a union
which eminently contains all the other special dispositions; and which
disposes the soul to passiveness; that is to say, God becomes sole
master of her interior, and there effects more special work. The less
the creature labors in this state, the more powerfully God acts in her;
and since the operation of God is a repose, the soul, in this prayer,
becomes in a manner like Him, and receives, also, marvellous effects;
and as the rays of the sun cause the plants to grow and blossom and
bear fruit, so the attentive soul, exposed in tranquillity to the rays
of the divine Sun of justice, more effectually imbibes the divine
influences which enrich her with all virtues.

6th. The continuation of this attention in faith will serve her
as thanksgiving for all the graces received during the night, and
throughout her life, as an offering of herself and all her actions, as
a direction of her intention, etc.

7th. The soul may fear to lose much by the omission of other acts,
but experience will teach her, on the contrary, that she gains a
great deal; for the greater her knowledge of God, the greater also
will be the purity of her love, of her intentions, the greater will
be her detestation of sin, and the greater and more continual her
recollection, mortification, and humility.

8th. This will not prevent her from making other interior or exterior
acts of virtue when she feels herself impelled thereto by grace; but
the fundamental and usual state of her interior should be that union
with God which will keep her abandoned to His hands and delivered up to
His love, to quietly accomplish all His will.

9th. The time of meditation being come, we must begin it with great
respect by a simple recollection of God, invoking His Spirit, and
uniting ourselves intimately with Jesus Christ; then continue it in
this same way. It will be the same with vocal prayers, office, and
the Holy Sacrifice, whether we celebrate it or assist at it. Even the
examination of conscience should be made after no other method: this
same light which keeps our attention upon God will cause us to discover
our slightest imperfections, and deeply deplore and regret them. We
should go to table with the same spirit of simplicity which will keep
us more occupied with God than with the repast, and leave us free to
give better attention to what is being read. This practice binds us
to nothing but to keep our soul detached from all imperfection, and
attached only to God and intimately united with Him, in which consists
all our welfare.

10th. We should take our recreation in the same disposition, to
give the body and mind relaxation without permitting ourselves the
dissipation of curious news, immoderate laughter, nor any indiscreet
word, etc.; always keeping ourselves pure and free interiorly without
disturbing others, frequently uniting ourselves to God by a simple and
loving thought of Him; remembering that we are in His presence, and
that He does not wish us to be separated at any moment from Him and
His holy will. The most ordinary rule of this state of simplicity and
the sovereign disposition of the soul is to do the will of God in all
things. Regarding all as coming from God and going from all to God, is
what sustains and fortifies the soul in all its occupations and in all
that comes to it, and maintains us in the possession of simplicity.
Then let us always follow the will of God, after the example of Jesus
Christ, and united to Him as our Head. This is an excellent means of
making progress in this manner of prayer, in order to attain through it
to the most solid virtue and the most perfect sanctity.

11th. We should console ourselves in the same manner, and preserve
this simple and intimate union with God in all our actions--in the
parlor, in the cell, at table, at recreation. Let us add, that in all
our intercourse we should endeavor to edify our neighbor, by taking
advantage of every occasion to lead one another to piety, the love of
God, the practice of good works, in order that we may diffuse the good
odor of Jesus Christ. _If any man speak_, says St. Peter, _let him
speak as the words of God_, and as if God Himself spoke through him. To
do this, it suffices to follow the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: He
will inspire you as to that which is simply and unaffectedly suitable
at all times.

Finally, we will finish the day by animating with the sentiment of this
holy presence our examen, evening prayer, and preparations for rest;
and we will go to sleep with this loving attention, interspersing our
rest, when we awake during the night, with a few fervent words, full of
unction, like so many transports, or cries of the heart to God. As for
example: My God, be all things to me! I desire only Thee for time and
eternity; Lord, who is like unto Thee? My Lord and my God; my God, and
nothing more!

12th. It must be remarked that this true simplicity makes us live in a
state of continual death to self and of perfect detachment, by causing
us to go with the utmost directness to God without stopping at any
creature. But this grace of simplicity is not obtained by speculation,
but by great purity of heart, and true mortification and contempt of
self. He who avoids suffering, humiliations, and refuses to die to
self, will never have any part in it. This is why there are so few
who advance herein; for few indeed are willing to leave themselves,
and they endure in consequence immense losses, and deprive themselves
of incomprehensible blessings. O happy souls who spare nothing to
belong wholly to God! Happy religious who faithfully follow all
the observances of their institute! Through this fidelity they die
continually to self, to their own judgment, to their own will, to their
inclinations and natural repugnances, and are thus admirably though
unconsciously disposed for this excellent method of prayer. There is
nothing more hidden than the life of a religious who follows in all
things the observances and ordinary exercises of his or her community,
giving no exterior manifestation of anything extraordinary: it is a
life which is a complete and continual death; through it the kingdom
of God is established in us, and all other things are liberally given
us.

13th. We should not neglect the reading of spiritual books; but we
should read with simplicity, and in a spirit of prayer, and not
through curious research. We read in a spirit of prayer when we
permit the lights and sentiments revealed to us through the reading
to be imprinted on our souls, and when this impression is made by the
presence of God rather than by our industry.

14th. We must be armed, moreover, with two or three maxims: first, that
a devout person without prayer is a body without a soul; second, that
there can be no true and solid prayer without mortification, without
recollection, without humility; third, that we need perseverance,
never to be disheartened by the difficulties to be encountered in this
exercise.

15th. It must be borne in mind that one of the greatest secrets of
the spiritual life is that the Holy Spirit guides us therein, not
only by lights, sweetness, consolations, and attractions, but also
by obscurities, darkness, insensibility, contradictions, anguish,
revolts of the passions, and inclinations. I say, moreover, that this
crucified way is necessary; that it is good; that it is the surest,
and that it leads us much more rapidly to perfection. An enlightened
soul dearly appreciates the guidance of God, which permits her to
be tried by creatures and overwhelmed with temptations and neglect;
and she fully understands that these things are favors rather than
misfortunes, preferring to die on the cross on Calvary than live in
sweetness on Thabor. Experience will teach her in time the truth of
these beautiful words: _Et nox illuminatio mea in deliciis meis; et mea
nox obscurum non habet; sed omnia in luce clarescunt._[2] The soul,
after her purification in the Purgatory of suffering through which she
must necessarily pass, will enjoy light, rest, and joy through intimate
union with God, who will make this world, exile as it is, a paradise
for her. The best prayer is that in which we most freely abandon
ourselves to the sentiments and dispositions which God gives the soul,
and in which we study with most simplicity, humility, and fidelity to
conform ourselves to His will and to the example of Jesus Christ.

 [2] And night shall be my light in my pleasures, and my night knoweth
 no darkness, but all things shine in light.

Great God, who by a series of marvellous and special circumstances
didst provide from all eternity for the composition of this little
work, permit not that certain minds, some of which are to be found
among scholars and others among spiritual persons, ever be accused
before Thy dread tribunal of having contributed in any way to close
Thee the entrance to innumerable hearts, because Thou didst will to
enter them in a manner the very simplicity of which shocked them,
and by a way which, opened as it was by the saints since the first
ages of the Church, was not yet, perhaps, sufficiently known to them:
grant rather that all of us becoming as little children, as our Lord
commands, we may enter upon this way, in order to teach it more safely
and efficaciously to others. Amen.



IV.

Exercise of Loving Union of our Will with that of God.

BY ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.


1st Point. Kneeling in deepest humility before the ineffable majesty
of God, adore His sovereign goodness which from all eternity called
you by your name, and resolved to save you, as He assures you in these
words of the Prophet: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love;
therefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee;” and destined for
you, among other means, this present day, which you can employ in works
of salvation and life.

2d Point. With this thought so full of truth, unite your will to that
of your heavenly Father, so good and so merciful, in the following or
similar words, from the depth of your heart: O sweet will of God, be
ever accomplished! O eternal designs of the divine will, I adore Thee;
I consecrate and dedicate my will to Thee; to ever will what Thou hast
willed from all eternity. May I accomplish to-day, and always, and in
all things Thy divine will, O my loving Creator! Yes, heavenly Father,
according to Thy good pleasure from all eternity, and forever! Amen! O
infinite Goodness, may it be as Thou hast willed! O eternal Will, live
and reign in my will, now and forever!

3d Point. Invoke again the divine assistance thus: O God, come to
my aid; let Thy strengthening hand confirm my poor, weak courage!
Behold, O my Saviour, this poor, miserable heart has conceived, through
Thy goodness, several holy affections; but alas! it is too weak and
wretched to execute the good it desires. I beg the intercession of the
Blessed Virgin, of my good angel, and of all the heavenly court. May
their assistance be given me according to Thy good pleasure.

4th Point. Make, then, in this way a strong and loving union of your
will with that of God; and in the midst of the temporal and spiritual
actions of the day frequently renew this union which you have
established in the morning, by simply casting an interior glance upon
the divine Goodness, saying by way of acquiescence: “Yes, Lord, I wish
it; yes, my Father, yes; always yes!” You can also, if you wish, make
the sign of the cross, or kiss the cross of your rosary, your medal, or
some pious picture; for all this will signify that you remit yourself
to the Providence of God, that you adore it, that you love it with all
your heart, that you unite your will irrevocably to that supreme will.

5th. But these whisperings of the heart, these interior words, should
be uttered peacefully and firmly; they should be distilled, so to
speak, softly and lovingly in the depths of the mind; and as we whisper
in the ear of a friend a word which we desire should penetrate his
heart alone, thus these whisperings will penetrate deeper and more
efficaciously than these transports, these ejaculatory prayers, and
these outbursts. Experience will prove this to you, provided you are
humble and simple.

May God and His holy Mother be praised!



V.

Act of Abandonment.

BY ST. JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL.


O sovereign goodness of the sovereign Providence of my God! I abandon
myself forever to Thy arms. Whether gentle or severe, lead me
henceforth whither Thou wilt; I will not regard the way through which
Thou wilt have me pass, but keep my eyes fixed upon Thee, my God, who
guidest me. My soul finds no rest without the arms and the bosom of
this heavenly Providence, my true Mother, my strength and my rampart.
Therefore I resolve with Thy divine assistance, O my Saviour, to follow
Thy desires and Thy ordinances, without regarding or examining why Thou
dost this rather than that; but I will blindly follow Thee according to
Thy divine will, without seeking my own inclinations.

Hence I am determined to leave all to Thee, taking no part therein save
by keeping myself in peace in Thy arms, desiring nothing except as Thou
incitest me to desire, to will, to wish. I offer Thee this desire, O my
God, beseeching Thee to bless it; I undertake all it includes, relying
on Thy goodness, liberality, and mercy, with entire confidence in Thee,
distrust of myself, and knowledge of my infinite misery and infirmity.


Another Act of Abandonment.

BY BOSSUET.

My God, who art goodness itself, I adore this infinite goodness;
I unite myself to it, and I rely upon it, even more than upon its
effects. I find no good in me, no good work done with the fidelity
and perfection Thou desirest, nor anything which can make me pleasing
to Thee; hence I place no trust in myself or in my works, but in Thee
alone, O infinite goodness, who in one moment canst effect in me all
that is needful to make me pleasing to Thee! In this belief I live; and
while I live, to my last sigh, I remit my heart, my body, my mind, my
soul, and my will into Thy divine hands.

O Jesus, only Son of the living God, who camest into the world to
redeem my sinful soul, I abandon it to Thee! I place Thy precious
blood, Thy holy death and passion, and Thy adorable wounds, and
particularly that of Thy Sacred Heart, between Thy divine justice and
my sins; and thus I live in the faith and hope I have in Thee, O Son of
God, who hast loved me and given Thyself for me. Amen.


Another Act of Abandonment.

BY VENERABLE FATHER PIGNATELLI.

O my God, I know not what must come to me to-day; but I am certain
that nothing can happen me which Thou hast not foreseen, decreed, and
ordained from all eternity: that is sufficient for me. I adore Thy
impenetrable and eternal designs, to which I submit with all my heart;
I desire, I accept them all, and I unite my sacrifice to that of Jesus
Christ, my divine Saviour; I ask in His name, and through His infinite
merits, patience in my trials, and perfect and entire submission to all
that comes to me by Thy good pleasure. Amen.



An Act of Confidence in God.

BY REV. CLAUDE DE LA COLOMBIERE, S.J.


My God, I believe so firmly that Thou watchest over all who hope in
Thee, and that we can want for nothing when we rely upon Thee in all
things, that I am resolved for the future to have no anxieties, and to
cast all my cares upon Thee. “_In peace in the self-same I will sleep
and I will rest; for Thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope._”

Men may deprive me of worldly goods and of honors; sickness may take
from me my strength and the means of serving Thee; I may even lose Thy
grace by sin: but my trust shall never leave me; I will preserve it to
the last moment of my life, and the powers of hell shall seek in vain
to wrest it from me. “_In peace in the self-same I will sleep and I
will rest._”

Let others seek happiness in their wealth, in their talents; let
them trust to the purity of their lives, the severity of their
mortifications, to the number of their good works, the fervor of
their prayers; as for me, O my God, in my very confidence lies all my
hope. “_For Thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope._” This
confidence can never be vain. “_No one has hoped in the Lord and has
been confounded._”

I am assured, therefore, of my eternal happiness, for I firmly hope for
it, and all my hope is in Thee. “_In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me
never be confounded._”

I know, alas! I know but too well that I am weak and unstable; I know
the power of temptation against the strongest virtue. I have seen stars
fall from heaven, and pillars of the firmament totter; but these things
alarm me not. While I hope in Thee I am sheltered from all misfortune,
and I am sure that my trust shall endure, for I rely upon Thee to
sustain this unfailing hope. Finally, I know that my confidence cannot
exceed Thy bounty, and that I shall never receive less than I have
hoped for from Thee. Therefore I hope that Thou wilt sustain me against
my evil inclinations; that Thou wilt protect me against the most
furious assaults of the evil one, and that Thou wilt cause my weakness
to triumph over my most powerful enemies. I hope that Thou wilt never
cease to love me, and that I shall love Thee unceasingly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation have been standardised but all other spelling and
punctuation remains unchanged.

The reference to the Quietests in the Preface has been corrected to
Quietists.

Italics are represented thus _italic_.





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