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Wherein the same thing is treated of; Discoursing the Interests which some Confessors and Spiritual Directors use to have; in which are declared the Qualities which they ought to have for the Exercise of Confession, and also for the Guiding of Souls through the Mystical Way.
49. The Confessor ought to get Penitents incouraged to Prayer; especially when they often present themselves at his Feet, and make known to him their Desire that they have of their Spiritual Good.
50. The Maxim which the Confessor ought mostly to observe, that he may never come into Perdition, is, Not to accept any Present, though the whole World were offered him.
51. Though there are abundance of Confessors, yet they are not all good ones, because some of ‘em know but little; others are very Ignorant; others betake themselves to the Applauses of the Gentry; some seek the Favours of their Penitents; some their Presents; some are full of Spiritual Ambition, and seek Credit and Fame, getting a multitude of Spiritual Children to themselves; others affect their Mastership and Command; other, affect the Visions and Revelations of their Spiritual Children, and instead of despising ‘em, the only way of securing ‘em to Humility, they commend ‘em, that they may not leave ‘em off and make them write ‘em that they may shew’em abroad for Ostentation: All this is Self-love and Vanity in these Guides, and great prejudice to the Spiritual Profit of Souls: since it is certain, that all these respects and interests serve only to hinder the use and exercise of their Office, with advantage and profit; which requires an universal freedom from such things, and whose end and aim ought only to be the glory of God.
52. Other Confessors there are, which with ease and lightness of Aeart, do believe, and approve, and commend all Spirits: Others falling into the vicious extream, do condemn without any reserve, all Visions and Revelations; such things are neither to be believed all, nor condemned all: Others also there are who are so enamoured of the Spirit of their Spiritual Daughters, that whatever they Dream, let ‘em be never so much Deceit, they reverence ‘em as sacred Mysteries! O what a world of Miseries are known in the Church by these means! Others Confessors there are also, having on the Garb of worldly Courtesie and Civility, having little regard to the holy Place of the Confessionary, discoursing with their Penitents concerning things vain, superfluous distractive, and far from that decency which the Sacrament requires, and from that disposition which should be fit to receive divine Grace; making particularly like discourses, and about the Houshold Affairs of their Penitents, before they come to accuse themselves of their sins: whereupon that little Devotion which they brought along with ‘em to the Sacrament, becomes cool’d and good for nothing: Sometimes it happens that many Penitents are fain to wait to be Confessed, who are full of business of their own, and when they see such a long demur, they grow weary and sad, and fall into impatience, losing the actual disposition of Mind wherewith they were before prepared to receive so healthful a Sacrament: whereupon the medley of these distractive, superfluous and vain matters, not only make ‘em lose their precious time, but also prejudiceth the holy Place, the Sacrament; the disposition of the Penitent who is confessed, and that of others who wait to be confessed; all of ‘em considerable mischiefs, and worthy to be redressed.
53. For Confession, there are some good; but for the Government of Spirits by the mystical Way, there are so few (says Father John Davila) that in a thousand, you shall possibly find one: St. Francis of Sales says, One among ten thousand: And the illuminated Thauler says, That in a hundred thousand, it was a hard thing to find one expert Master of Spirit. The reason is, because there are so few who dispose themselves to receive the mystical Science: Pauci ad eam recipiendam se disponunt; said Henry Arpias (Lib. 3. Par. 3. Cap. 22) Would to God it were not so true as it is. For then there would not be so many Cheats in the World, and there would be more Saints and fewer Sinners.
54. When the spiritual Guide desires effectually, that all should be in love with Vertue, and the love which they have of God, is pure and perfect, with few Words, and few Reasons, he will reap a very great deal of Benefit.
55. If the interiour Soul, when it is in the cleansing it self of Passions, and in the time of abstraction, has not a sure Guide to curb in the retirement and solitude, to which its Inclination and great Propension draws it, it will be unable and unfit for exercises of Confession, Preaching and Study, and also for those of its own Obligation, State and Calling.
56. The skilful Director therefore, ought to mind carefully when the Powers of it begin to be imployed in God, that there may not be given too free access to solitude, commanding the Soul not to omit the outward exercises of its state, as of Study, and other Employments, altho’ they should seem distractive, so that they be not contrary to his Calling; because the Soul is so much Abstracted in Solitude, is so turned inward in its retirement, and is removed to such a degree from Exteriority, that if it afterwards apply it self again, it doth it with toyl and resistance, and with prejudice to its powers, and the strength and soundness of Head: which is considerable hurt, and worthy the weighting of spiritual Directors.
57. But if these have no Experience, they will not know when the abstraction is formed, and at the same time, thinking it Holy Counsel, will encourage ‘em to Retirement, and find destruction in it: O how necessary it is that the Guide be expert in the spiritual and mystical way!
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