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SECTION III.—The Different Duties of Abandonment.

52

The active exercise of abandonment either in relation to precept, or to inspiration.


Although souls called by God to a state of abandonment are much more passive than active, yet they cannot expect to be exempted from all activity. This state being nothing else but the virtue of abandonment exercised more habitually, and with greater perfection, should, like this virtue, be composed of two kinds of duty; the active accomplishment of the divine will, and the passive acceptance of all that this will pleases to send.

It consists essentially, as we have already said, in the gift of our whole self to God to be used as He thinks fit. Well! the good pleasure of God makes use of us in two ways; either it compels us to perform certain actions, or it simply works within us. We, therefore, submit also in two ways; either by the faithful accomplishment of its clearly defined orders, or else by a simple and passive submission to its impressions of either pleasure or pain. Abandonment implies all this, being nothing else but a perfect submission to the order of God as made manifest at the present moment: It matters little to the soul in what manner it is obliged to abandon itself, and what the present moment contains; all that is absolutely necessary is that it should abandon itself unreservedly. There are, then, prescribed duties to be fulfilled, and necessary duties to be accepted, and further there is a third kind which also forms part of active fidelity, although it does not properly belong to works of precept. In this are comprised inspired duties; those to which the spirit of God inclines the hearts that are submissive to Him. The accomplishment of this kind of duty, requires a great simplicity, a gentle and cheerful heartiness, a soul easily moved by every breath of directing grace; for there is nothing else to do but to give oneself up, and to obey its inspirations simply and freely. So that souls may not be deceived, God never fails to give them wise guidance to indicate with what liberty or reserve these inspirations should be made use of. The third kind of duty takes precedence of all law, formalities, or marked-out rules. It is what, in saints, appears singular and extraordinary; it is what regulates their vocal prayer, interior words, the perception of their faculties, and also all that makes their lives noble, such as austerities, zeal, and the prodigality of their self-devotion for others. As all this belongs to the interior rule of the Holy Spirit, no one ought to try to obtain it, to imagine that they have it, to desire it, nor to regret that they do not possess the grace 53to undertake this kind of work, and to practise these uncommon virtues, because they are only really meritorious when practised according to the direction of God. If one is not content with this reserve one lays oneself open to the influence of one’s own ideas, and will become exposed to illusion.

It is necessary to remark that there are souls that God keeps hidden and little in their own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Far from giving them striking qualities, His design for them is that they should remain in obscurity. They would be deceived if they desired to attempt a different way. If they are well instructed they will recognise that fidelity to their nothingness is their right path, and they will find peace in their lowliness. The only difference, therefore, in their way and that of, apparently, more favoured souls, is the difference they make for themselves by the amount of their love and submission to the will of God; for, if they surpass in these virtues the souls that appear to work more than they exteriorly, their sanctity is, without doubt, so much the greater. This shows that each soul ought to content itself with the duties of its state, and the over-ruling of Providence; clearly God exacts this equally from all. As to attraction and the impressions received by the soul, these are given by God alone to whom He pleases. One must not try to produce them oneself, nor to make efforts to increase them. Natural effort is in direct opposition and quite contrary to infused inspirations, which should come in peace. The voice of the divine Spouse will awaken the soul, which should only proceed according to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, for, if it were to act according to its own ideas it would make no progress.

Therefore, if it should feel neither attraction nor grace to do those things that make the saints so much admired, it must, in justice to itself, say, “God has willed it thus for the saints, but not for me.”

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