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SECTION VI.—The Duty of the Present Moment the Only Rule.
From souls in this state God exacts the most perfect docility to the action of His grace.
It is necessary to be detached from all that one feels, and from all that one does, to follow this method, by which one subsists in God alone, and in the present duty. All regard to what is beyond this should be cut off as superfluous. One must restrict oneself to the present duty without thinking of the preceding one, or of the one which is to follow. I imagine the law of God to be always before you, and that the practice of abandonment has rendered your soul docile to the divine action. You feel some impulse that makes you say, “I have a drawing towards this person”; or “I have an inclination to read a certain book, to receive, or to give certain advice, to complain of certain things, to open my mind to another, or to receive confidence; to give away something, or to perform some action.” Well! obey this impulse according to the inspiration of grace without stopping to reflect, to reason, or to make efforts. Give yourself up to these things for as long as God wishes without doing so through any self-will. In the state in question the will of God is shown to us because He dwells within us. This will ought to supplant all our usual supports. At each moment we have to practise some virtue. To this the obedient soul is faithful; nothing of what it has learnt by reading, or hearing is forgotten, and the most mortified novice could not fulfil her duties better. It is for this that these souls are attracted sometimes to one book, sometimes to another; or else to make some remark, some reflexion on what may seem but a trifling circumstance. At one time God gives them the attraction to learn something that at some future time will encourage them in the practice of virtue. Whatever these souls do, they do because they feel an attraction for it, without knowing why. All they can explain on the subject can be reduced to this: “I feel myself drawn to write, to read, to ask, to examine this; I follow this attraction, and God who gives it to me keeps these particular things in reserve in my faculties to become in future the nucleus of other attractions which will become useful to myself and others.” This is what makes it necessary for these souls to be simple, gentle, yielding, and submissive to the faintest breath of these scarcely perceptible impressions.
In the state of abandonment the only rule is the duty of the present moment. In this the soul is light as a feather, liquid as water, simple as a child, active as a ball in receiving and following 58all the inspirations of grace. Such souls have no more consistence and rigidity than molten metal. As this takes any form according to the mould into which it is poured, so these souls are pliant and easily receptive of any form that God chooses to give them. In a word, their disposition resembles the atmosphere, which is affected by every breeze; or water, which flows into any shaped vessel exactly filling every crevice. They are before God like a perfectly woven fabric with a clear surface; and neither think, nor seek to know what God will be pleased to trace thereon, because they have confidence in Him, they abandon themselves to Him, and, entirely absorbed by their duty, they think not of themselves, nor of what may be necessary for them, nor of how to obtain it. The more assiduously do they apply themselves to their little work, so simple, so hidden, so secret, and outwardly contemptible, the more does God embroider and embellish it with brilliant colours. On the surface of this simple canvas of love and obedience His hand traces the most beautiful design, the most delicate, and intricate pattern, the most divine figures. “Mirificavit Dominus sanctum suum.” “The Lord hath made His holy one wonderful” (Psalm iv). It is true that a canvas simply and blindly given up to the work of the pencil only feels its movement at each moment. Each blow of the hammer on the chisel can only produce one cruel mark at a time, and the stone struck by repeated blows cannot know, nor see the form produced by them. It only feels that it is being diminished, filed, cut, and altered by the chisel. And a stone that is destined to become a crucifix or a statue without knowing it, if it were asked, “What is happening to you?” would reply if it could speak, “Do not ask me, I only know one thing, and that is, to remain immovable in the hands of my master, to love him, and to endure all that he inflicts upon me. As for the end for which I am destined, it is his business to understand how it is to be accomplished; I am as ignorant of what he is doing as of what I am destined to become; all I know is that his work is the best, and the most perfect that could be, and I receive each blow of the chisel as the most excellent thing that could happen to me, although, truth to tell, each blow, in my opinion, causes the idea of ruin, destruction, and disfigurement. But that is not my affair; content with the present moment, I think of nothing but my duty, and I endure the work of this clever master without knowing, or occupying myself about it.”
Yes! give to God what belongs to Him, and remain lovingly passive in his hands. Hold for certain that what takes place either exteriorly or interiorly is best for you.59
Allow God to act, and abandon yourself to Him. Let the chisel perform its office, the needle do its work. Let the brush of the artist cover the canvas with many tints which only have the appearance of daubs. Correspond with all these divine operations by a simple and constant submission, a forgetfulness of self, and an assiduous application to duty. Continue thus in your own groove without studying the way, the ins and outs, and surroundings, the names or particulars of the places; go on blindly pursuing this path, and you will be shown what is to follow. Seek only the kingdom of God and His justice by love and obedience, and all the rest will be added to you. We meet with many souls who are distressed about themselves, and inquire anxiously, “Who will direct us so that we may become mortified and holy, and attain perfection?” Let them search in books for the description and characteristics of this marvellous work, its nature and qualities; but as for you, do you remain peacefully united to God by love, and follow blindly the clear straight path of duty. The angels are at your side during this time of darkness, and they will bear you up. If God requires more of you, He will make it known to you by His inspirations.
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