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SECTION II.—The Pains and Consolations of Abandonment.

The soul ought to strip itself of all things created in order to arrive at the state of abandonment.


This state is full of consolation for those who have attained it; but to do so it is necessary to pass through much anguish. The doctrine concerning pure love can only be taught by the action of God, and not by any effort of the mind. God teaches the soul by pains and obstacles, not by ideas.

This science is a practical knowledge by which God is enjoyed as the only good. In order to master this science it is necessary to be detached from all personal possessions, to gain this detachment, to be really deprived of them. Therefore it is only by constant crosses, and by a long succession of all kinds of mortifications, trials, and deprivations, that pure love becomes established in the soul. This must continue until all things created become as though they did not exist, and God becomes all in all. To effect this God combats all the personal affections of the soul, so that when these take any especial shape, such as some pious notion, some help to devotion; or when there is any idea of being able to attain perfection by some such method, or such a path or way, or by the guidance of some particular person; in fine to whatever the soul attaches itself, God upsets its plans, and allows it to find, instead of success in these projects, nothing but confusion, trouble, emptiness, and folly. 51Hardly has it said “I must go this way, I must consult this person, or, I must act in such a manner,” than God immediately says the exact contrary, and withdraws all the virtue usual in the means adopted by the soul. Thus, finding only deception and emptiness in everything, the soul is compelled to have recourse to God Himself, and to be content with Him.

Happy the soul that understands this lovingly severe conduct of God, and that corresponds faithfully with it. It is raised above all that passes away to repose in the immutable and the infinite. It is no longer dissipated among created things by giving them love and confidence, but allows them only when it becomes a duty to do so, or when enjoined by God, and when His will is made especially manifest in the matter. It inhabits a region above earthly abundance or dearth, in the fulness of God who is its permanent good. God finds this soul quite empty of its own inclinations, of its own movements, of its own choice. It is a dead subject, and shrouded in universal indifference. The whole of the divine Being, coming thus to fill the heart, casts over all created things a shadow, as of nothingness, absorbing all their distinctions and all their varieties. Thus there remains neither efficacy, nor virtue in anything created, and the heart is neither drawn towards, nor has any inclination for created things, because the majesty of God fills it to its utmost extent. Living in God in this way, the heart becomes dead to all else, and all is dead to it. It is for God, who gives life to all things, to revive the soul with regard to His creation, and to give a different aspect to all things in the eyes of the soul. It is the order of God which is this life. By this order the heart goes out towards the creature as far as is necessary or useful, and it is also by this order that the creature is carried towards the soul and is accepted by it. Without this divine virtue of the good pleasure of God, things created are not admitted by the soul; neither is the soul at all inclined towards them. This dissolution of all things as far as the soul is concerned, and then, by the will of God, their being brought once more into existence, compels the soul at each moment to see God in all things, for each moment is spent for the satisfaction of God only, and in an unreserved self-abandonment with regard to its relations to all possible created things, or rather to those created, or possibly to be created by the order of God. Therefore each moment contains all.

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