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SECTION I.—Confidence in God.
The less the soul in the state of abandonment feels the help it receives from God, the more efficaciously does He sustain it.
There is a kind of sanctity in which all the communications of God are luminous and distinct; but in the passive state of pure faith all that God communicates partakes of the nature of that inaccessible darkness that surrounds His throne, and all ideas are confused and indistinct. The soul, in this state of obscurity is often afraid, like the Prophet, of running headlong against a rock. “Fear not, faithful soul, for this is your right path, and the way by which God conducts you. There is no way more safe and sure than this dark way of faith.” “But it is so dark that I cannot tell which way to go.” “Go wherever you please; you cannot lose the way where there is no path; every way looks the same in the dark, you cannot see the end because nothing is visible.” “But I am afraid of everything. I feel as if, at any moment, I might fall over a precipice. Everything is an affliction to me; I well know that I am acting according to abandonment, but it seems to me that there are things I cannot do without acting contrary to virtue. I seem to be so far from all the virtues. The more I wish to practise them the more remote they seem. I love virtue, but the obscure impressions by which I am attracted seem to keep virtue far from me. I always give in to this attraction, and although I cannot perceive that it guides me well, I cannot help following it. The spirit seeks light; but the heart is in darkness. Enlightened persons, and those with lucid minds are congenial to my spirit, but when I hear conversations and listen to discourses, my heart understands nothing; its whole state and way is simply an impression of the gift of faith, which makes it love and appreciate those principles, truths, and paths wherein the spirit has neither object nor idea, and in which it trembles, shudders, and falters. I have an assurance, I do not know how, in the depths of my heart, that this way is right; not by the evidence of my senses, but by a feeling inspired by faith.“ This is because it 75is impossible for God to lead a soul without persuading it that the path is a right one, and this with a certainty all the greater the less it is perceived. And this certainty is victorious over all censures, fears, efforts, and all imaginations. The mind vainly cries out and seeks some better way. The bride recognises the Bridegroom unconsciously, but when she stretches out her hand to hold Him, He disappears. She understands that the Spouse to whom she belongs has rights over her, and she prefers to wander without order or method in abandoning herself to His guidance rather than to endeavour to gain confidence by following the beaten tracks of virtue.
Let us go to God, then, my soul, in abandonment, and let us acknowledge that we are incapable of acquiring virtue by our own industry or effort; but let us not allow this absence of particular virtues to diminish our confidence. Our divine Guide would not have reduced us to the necessity of walking if He had not intended to carry us in His arms. What need have we of lights and certainties, ideas and reflexions? Of what use would it be to us to see, to know, and to feel, when we are no longer walking but being carried in the arms of divine Providence. The more we have to suffer from darkness, and the more rocks, precipices, and deserts there are in our way; the more we have to endure from fears, dryness, weariness of mind, anguish of soul, and even despair, and the sight of purgatory and hell, the greater must be our confidence and faith. One glance at Him who carries us is sufficient to restore our courage in the greatest peril. We will forget the paths and what they are like; we will forget ourselves, and abandoning ourselves entirely to the wisdom, goodness, and power of our Guide we will think only of loving Him, and avoiding all sin, not only that which is evident, however venial it may be, but even the appearance of evil, and of fulfilling all the duties and obligations of our state.
This is the only charge You lay upon Your children, O divine Love! all the rest You take upon Yourself. The more terrible this may be, the more surely can Your presence be felt and recognised. Your children have only to love You without ceasing, and to fulfil their small duties like children. A child on its mother’s lap is occupied only with its games as if it had nothing else to do but to play with its mother. The soul should soar above the clouds, and, as no one can work during the darkness of the night, it is the time for repose. The light of reason can do nothing but deepen the darkness of faith: the radiance necessary to disperse it must proceed from the same source as itself. In this state God communicates Himself to the soul as its life, but He is no longer visible as its way, and its truth: The bride seeks the Bridegroom during this night; she seeks 76Him before her, and hurries forward; but He is behind her, and holding her with His hands. He is no longer object, or idea, but principle and source. For all the needs, difficulties, troubles, falls, overthrows, persecutions, and uncertainties of souls which have lost all confidence in themselves and their own action, there are secret and inspired resources in the divine action, marvellous and unknown. The more perplexing the circumstances the keener is the expectation of a satisfactory solution. The heart says “All goes well, it is God who carries on the work, there is nothing to fear.” That very suspense and desolation are verses in the canticle of darkness. It is a joy that not a single syllable is left out, and it all ends in a “Gloria Patri”; therefore we pursue the way of our wanderings, and darkness itself is a light for our guidance; and doubts are our best assurance. The more puzzled Isaac was to find something to sacrifice, the more completely did Abraham place all in the hands of Providence, and trust entirely in God.
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