This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
WE may have remarked, in several of these sketches of Father Grou, that he lays great stress upon the importance of making interior souls understand how very necessary it is for them to repress their natural activity, and to accustom themselves by degrees to be very simple before God in the practice of prayer, to repose sweetly in God, and to fix in Him all the agitation of their minds and hearts. "It is in vain," he says, " that we seek for rest outside of God ; it is only and can only be found in God alone. It is not by agitating ourselves, or exciting ourselves, or making many acts, that we succeed in finding rest in God ; it is by putting a stop to all agitation, to all over-eagerness, and all restless activity, that we may give free scope to the action of God : God is always acting, and always perfectly tranquil. The soul united to God shares equally in His action, and in His repose ; she is always acting, even when she does not perceive it, but she acts then in the greatest peace; she does not outrun the action of God, but she waits until God pushes her forward ; she moves under the Divine impulse, as the hand of a child, who is learning to write, moves tinder the impulse of his master's hand. . . The soul that is under the action of God is never for one moment idle, as those imagine who have no true idea of what rest in God really means. . ."
406 Appendix. "Activity," he says again, "engenders multiplicity, and repose conduces to unity and simplicity, even to that simplicity of which Jesus Christ declares the necessity. Activity multiplies practices of piety ; it embraces every kind of new devotion ; it passes incessantly from one act to another ; it agitates itself, it torments itself, it thinks it has never done enough. Repose concentrates us in God, and fixes us on one thing only to listen for the voice of God in prayer ; and when we are not in prayer, to accomplish His Divine will in the moment that is passing, without troubling ourselves about the past or the future, in such a manner that the soul has never but one single object in view, and that she is never drawn away by exterior things, being less occupied with what she is actually doing, than with the will of God, which is its motive and
its end." This is the same doctrine as all the masters of the spiritual life teach, and especially one of the most celebrated of all, Saint Francis de Sales. " We place ourselves," he says, " in the presence of God for two special reasons ; the first is, to render to God the honour and homage we owe Him, and this can be done -without God speaking to us or our speaking to Him. This duty is done by acknowledging that He is our God, and that we are His vile creatures, and by remaining before Him, prostrate in spirit, waiting for His commands. How many courtiers there are who go a hundred times into the presence of the King, not to speak to Him, or to hear Him speak, but simply to be seen by Him, and to show, by this attention, that they are his faithful servants ! And this simple end of presenting ourselves before God solely to shoiv to Him our gratitude, and our goodwill, acknowledging that we are His faithful servants, is most excellent ', most holy, and consequently of the greatest perfection.
Appendix 407 " The second reason for our presenting ourselves before God is to speak to Him, and to hear Him speak to us by His inspirations and the interior movements of His grace. And one of these two benefits can never fail us in prayer. If we can speak to our Lord, let us speak, let us praise Him, let us listen to Him ; if we cannot speak to Him because we are hoarse, let us stay nevertheless in His presence and do Him reverence : He will see us there ; He will be pleased with our patience, and He will look with favour on our loving silence. Another time we may be quite amazed and overwhelmed when He takes us by the hand, and converses with us, and makes with us a hundred turns in the fragrant walks of His sweet garden of prayer ; but even if He never does this, let us be content that it is our duty to be among His followers, and that it is a great favour and a greater honour that He allows us to be in His presence. In this manner, we shall not be in a hurry to speak to Him, since the other way of being near Him is not less useful for us, although it may be a little less agreeable to our taste. Whenever, then, you come near our Lord, speak to Him if you can. If you cannot, remain there, let Him see you, and do not trouble yourself about anything else."
It is nevertheless too true that many good and pious souls who give themselves to prayer regard their silence before God as a sort of idleness which is disrespectful to His Divine Majesty, and even go so far as to confound it with Quietism. This is why it has seemed useful to us to terminate this Manual by a little treatise of Bossuet, the most celebrated adversary of Quietism, which is very little known.
A Short and Simple Manner of making our Prayer in the Spirit of Faith, and in the Simple Presence of God. I. We must accustom ourselves to nourish our souls with a simple and loving look at God and at Jesus Christ our Lord ; and to do this we must withdraw our souls gently from all reasoning, from all arguments, and from a multiplicity of affections, to keep them in simplicity, respect, and attention, and thus to draw nearer and nearer to God, our only Sovereign Good, our first beginning, and our last end. II. The perfection of this life consists in union with our Sovereign Good, and the greater our simplicity is, the closer and more perfect will this union be. This is why Divine grace interiorly persuades those who wish to be perfect to make themselves simple, that they may thus be capable of the enjoyment of the One Who alone is necessary that is to say, of the Eternal Unity : let us then say from our hearts, O unum necessarium, unum volo, unum qucero, unnm desidero, unum mihi est necessarium, Deus meus et omnia! One Who only art necessary ! It is Thee alone Whom 1 wish for, Thee alone Whom I seek after, Thee alone Whom I desire 1 Thou art my sole necessity, O my God and my All ! III. Meditation is very good in its proper time, and very useful in the beginning of the spiritual life ; but we must not stop there, when the soul, by her fidelity to mortification and recollection, generally receives the gift of a purer and higher state of prayer, which we may call the prayer of simplicity, because it consists in one simple look of ours,
Appendix. 409 one loving attention on our part, towards some Divine object either God in some of His infinite perfections, or Jesus Christ in some of His mysteries, or some of the Christian virtues. The soul, then, leaving all reasoning, makes use of a sweet contemplation, which keeps her in peace, attentive and susceptible to all the Divine operations and impressions which the Holy Spirit communicates to her. She does little, and receives much ; her labour is sweet, and nevertheless it is very fruitful ; and as she now approaches nearer to the Source of all light, of all grace, and of all virtue, these blessings also increase in her more and more. IV. The practice of this kind of prayer must begin on our first awaking, by our making an act of faith in the presence of God, Who is everywhere, and of Jesus Christ, Whose looks never leave us, even if we weYe to be swallowed up in the depths of the earth. This act may be produced either in a sensible and ordinary manner, by saying in our hearts: "I believe that my God is present;" or it maybe produced by a simple memory of pure faith, which sees God always present in a manner that is purer and more spiritual. V. After this, we need not try to produce several other acts or different dispositions, but we may remain simply and peacefully attentive to this presence of God, knowing that His Divine looks are fixed upon us, and continuing this devout attention as long as our Lord gives us the grace to do so, without troubling ourselves to do anything else than attend quietly to what is happening to us; for this prayer is a prayer with God alone, and a union which preeminently includes all other special dispositions and which forces the soul to be passive, because God is then the sole Master of her, and is acting in her in a more particular
4 1 o Appendix. manner than usual ; so that the less the creature labours, the more powerfully God works in her. And since the work of God is always also a rest and a deep peace, the soul becomes in this kind of prayer in a manner like unto Him, and receives also most wonderful effects from His
Divine goodness. And as the rays of the sun make the plants of the earth grow and flower and bear fruit, so the soul that is thus exposed and peacefully attentive to these rays of the Divine Sun of Justice will receive from It an outpouring of the Divine influence which will enrich her with every kind of virtue. VI. The continuation of the soul in this prayer of faith will help her to thank God for all the graces and blessings received from Him during the past night and the whole course of her life, to offer herself to Him, as well as all her actions, sufferings,' and intentions for the coming day, to pray for others, and so on. VII. The soul might imagine at first that she is losing a great deal for omitting formal acts, but experience will teach her that, on the contrary, she is gaining very much, because the greater her knowledge of God is, the purer will be her love, the more upright her intentions, the stronger her hatred of sin, the more continual her recollection, her mortification, and her humility. VIII. All this does not prevent her from producing acts of virtue, either interior or exterior, whenever she feels herself drawn to do so, by the impulse of grace ; but her ordinary state ought to be this loving attention of faith and union with God, which keeps her entirely abandoned into His hands and given up to His Divine love, that He may do with her as He wills.
Appendix. 411 IX. When the time for actual prayer has come, the soul must begin it with great respect by the simple remembrance of God, invoking His Holy Spirit and uniting herself closely to Jesus Christ; she may then continue it in the same manner, and also all her vocal prayers, her orifice in choir, the Holy Mass, either said or heard, and even her examination of conscience, for this same light of faith which keeps us attentive to God will also discover to us our least imperfections, and lead us to conceive the greatest sorrow and regret for them. We must also go to our meals in the same spirit of holy simplicity, paying more attention to God than to what we are eating, and thus being free to listen better to the reading that is going on. This practice makes us think of nothing but keeping our soul detached from all imperfections and attached only to God, being united
closely to Him, in which consists all our happiness. X. We must go to recreation in the same disposition, to give our body and mind some little distraction, but without allowing ourselves to become dissipated, or curious about news, or giving way to immoderate laughter or any indiscreet words ; but we must keep ourselves pure and free in our interior, without being a restraint upon others ; uniting ourselves frequently to God by a simple and loving look at Him, remembering that we are in His presence, and that He does not wish us ever to be separated from Him and from His holy will. It is the most ordinary rule of this state of simplicity, and the supreme disposition of such a soul, to wish to do the will of God in all things. To see everything come from God, and to pass on from everything to God, is what sustains and strengthens the soul in all events and occupations, and keeps us also in possession of simplicity. Let us then always follow the will of God, after the example of Jesus Christ, and united to Him as our
412 Appendix. Head ; and this is a most excellent means of increasing in us this kind of prayer, and attaining by it a more solid virtue and a more perfect holiness. XL We ought to behave in the same way, and with the same spirit, and preserve ourselves in this simple and close union with God, in all our actions and conduct, whether in the parlour or in our own cell, in the refectory or at recreation ; and I may also add, that in all our conversations we must try to edify our neighbour, making use of every occasion to exercise ourselves in piety and the love of God, and in the practice of good works, that we may be the sweet odour of Jesus Christ. " If any one speaks" ^ Peter says, " Id him speak the -words of God" that is, as if God were speaking by him. It is sufficient for this to give ourselves simply to the guidance of the Spirit of God ; He will suggest to us on all occasions the right words to say, without allowing us to fall into affectation. Finally, we will finish the day still in the presence of God; we will thus make our examination of conscience, our evening prayer, and we will lay ourselves down to rest and fall asleep in peace still with this loving attention, interrupting our repose with a few fervent and loving words if we happen to awake during the night, and send them as
so many swift arrows and tender aspirations straight from our heart to the heart of God. Such cries as these, for instance : " My God, be Thou all things to me ! I desire only Thee, for time and for eternity ! Lord, who is like unto Thee ? My Lord and my God ! My God and my All ! My God, and nothing else ! " XII. We must also observe that this true simplicity makes us live in a continual state of death to ourselves, and in a perfect detachment, because we must go to God with
Appendix. 413 a perfectly pure heart, without being held back by any created thing. But it is not by speculating about it that we obtain this grace of simplicity; it is by keeping our heart in great purity, and by a true mortification and contempt of ourselves. Any one who shuns suffering, humiliation, and dying to himself will never enter there. And this is also the reason that so few persons really advance, because so few really wish to renounce themselves, and thus they suffer an immense loss, and deprive themselves of inexpressible benefits. Happy are those faithful souls who spare themselves in nothing that they may belong entirely to God! happy are those religious persons who faithfully practise all the rules of their holy institute ! This fidelity makes them die continually to themselves, to their own judgment, their own will, and all their natural inclinations and aversions, and thus disposes them in an admirable though unknown manner for this excellent kind of prayer. For what is there more hidden from the world than a religious man or a religious woman who does nothing but follow his or her rule in all things, showing nothing extraordinary as to the exterior, but living all the time in a continual and wonderful state of total death to self? It is by this way of prayer that the Kingdom of God is established in our hearts, and everything else is given to us. XIII. We must not neglect the reading of spiritual books ; but we must read them simply and in a spirit of prayer, and not from curiosity. I call it to read in a spirit of prayer when we allow our soul to be impressed by the light from God and the pious feelings which the reading brings to us, and when this impression is made more by the thought of God than by our own industry.
414 Appendix. XIV. We must also be acquainted with two or three wise maxims : the first, that a devout person without prayer is a body without a soul ; the second, that we cannot have a true and solid spirit of prayer without mortification, recollection, and humility; and the third, that we have great need of perseverance, never to be discouraged by the difficulties which meet us on our way. XV. We must not forget that one of the greatest secrets of the spiritual life is that the Holy Spirit leads us in it not only by light and sweetness, by consolations, tendernesses, and facility of prayer, but also by obscurities and blindness, by insensibility, troubles, anguish of soul, sorrow and desolation, and often the rebellion of all our evil passions and tempers. And I will say more, and that is that this crucified state is necessary for us, that it is good, that it is the best and safest, and will bring us much sooner to the height of perfection. A soul that is really enlightened thinks very highly of this conduct of God with regard to her when He permits her to be tried by creatures and overwhelmed with temptations and desolations ; and she understands quite well that these are favours rather than hardships, and she would rather die upon the cross of Calvary than live in the sweetnesses of Thabor. Experience will teach her in time the truth of those beautiful words : Et nox illuminatio mea in deliciis mei's, et mea nox obscurant non habet, sed omnia in luce clarescunt. Even the night shall be a light to me in my happiness, and my night has no obscurity, but all things shine forth in clear light. After the passive purgation of the soul in this purgatory of suffering through which she must of necessity pass, will come light and rest and joy, through her close union with God, Who makes even this world, place of exile as it is, a little paradise to her. The best prayer of all is that in
Appendix. 4 1 5 which we abandon ourselves most to the feelings and dispositions which God Himself implants in the soul, and in which we study with the greatest simplicity, humility, and fidelity to conform ourselves to the will and example of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Great God ! Who by a wonderful concurrence of very special circumstances hast decreed from all eternity the composition of this little book, permit not that certain spirits, of which some will be wise and some spiritual, should ever be accused before Thy dread tribunal of having contributed in any way to hinder Thy Divine entrance into many hearts, because Thou didst wish to enter there in a manner whose very simplicity shocked them, and by a door which, open as it has been to Thy saints in all ages of the Church, they have wished to close because they knew it not ! Grant to us rather that, becoming all as little children, as Jesus Christ commanded us, we may enter ourselves once for all by this little door, and then may be able to show others the way more surely and more efficaciously. Amen.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.