"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."

St Augustine

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"For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God?"

Thomas á Kempis

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"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "

Thomas á Kempis

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Fr Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ   (1675 - 1751)

 

ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE (cont)

 

by Fr Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ

Book I. On the virtue of abandonment to Divine Providence. Its nature and excellence.
 

Ch 2. The Divine action works unceasingly for the sanctification of souls


Section 5 - The action of Jesus Christ in the Souls of Men

The divine action continues to write in the hearts of men the work begun by the holy Scriptures, but the characters made use of in this writing will not be visible till the day of judgment.

"Jesus Christ yesterday, to-day, and for ever" (Heb. xiii. 8), says the Apostle. From the beginning of the world He was, as God, the first cause of the existence of souls. He has participated as man from the first instant of His incarnation, in this prerogative of His divinity. During the whole course of our life He acts within our souls. The time that will elapse till the end of the world is but as a day; and this day abounds with His action. Jesus Christ has lived and lives still. He began from Himself and will continue in His Saints a life that will never end.

O life of Jesus! comprehending and extending beyond all the centuries of time, life effecting new operations of grace at every moment; if no one is capable of understanding all that could be written of the actual life of Jesus, all that He did and said while He was on earth; if the Gospel merely outlines a few of its features; how many Gospels would have to be written to record the history of all the moments of this mystical life of Jesus Christ in which miracles are multiplied to infinity and eternity. If the beginning of His natural life is so hidden yet so fruitful, what can be said of the divine action of that life of which every age of the world is the history?

The Holy Spirit has pointed out in infallible and incontestable characters, some moments in that ocean of time, in the Sacred Scriptures. In them we see by what secret and mysterious ways He has brought Jesus before the world. Amidst the confusion of the races of men can be distinguished the origin, race, and genealogy of this, the first-born. The whole of the Old Testament is but an outline of the profound mystery of this divine work; it contains only what is necessary to relate concerning the advent of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit has kept all the rest hidden among the treasures of His wisdom. From this ocean of the divine activity He only allows a tiny stream to escape, and this stream having gained its way to Jesus is lost in the Apostles, and has been engulfed in the Apocalypse; so that the history of this divine activity consisting of the life of Jesus in the souls of the just to the end of time, can only be divined by faith.

As the truth of God has been made known by word of mouth, so His charity is manifested by action. The Holy Spirit continues to carry on the work of our Saviour. While helping the Church to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, He writes His own Gospel in the hearts of the just. All their actions, every moment of their lives, are the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. The souls of the saints are the paper, the sufferings and actions the ink. The Holy Spirit with the pen of His power writes a living Gospel, but a Gospel that cannot be read until it has left the press of this life, and has been published on the day of eternity.

Oh! great history! grand book written by the Holy Spirit in this present time! It is still in the press. There is never a day when the type is not arranged, when the ink is not applied, or the pages are not primed. We are still in the dark night of faith. The paper is blacker than the ink, and there is great confusion in the type. It is written in characters of another world and there is no understanding it except in Heaven.

If we could see the life of God, and behold all creatures, not as they are in themselves, but as they exist in their first cause; and if again we could see the life of God in all His creatures, and could understand how the divine action animates them, and impels them all to press forward by different ways to the same goal, we should realize that all has a meaning, a measure, a connexion in this divine work. But how can we read a book the characters of which are foreign to us, the letters innumerable, the type reversed, and the pages blotted with ink?

If the transposition of twenty-five letters is incomprehensible as sufficing for the composition of a well-nigh infinite number of different volumes, each admirable of its kind, who can explain the works of God in the universe? Who can read and understand the meaning of so vast a book in which there is no letter but has its particular character, and encloses in its apparent insignificance the most profound mysteries?

Mysteries can neither be seen nor felt, they are objects of faith. Faith judges of their virtue and truth only by their origin, for they are so obscure in themselves that all that they show only serves to hide them and to blind those who judge only by reason.

"Teach me, divine Spirit, to read in this book of life. I desire to become Your disciple and, like a little child, to believe what I cannot understand, and cannot see. Sufficient for me that it is my Master who speaks. He says that! He pronounces this! He arranges the letters in such a fashion! He makes Himself heard in such a manner! That is enough. I decide that all is exactly as He says. I do not see the reason, but He is the infallible truth, therefore all that He says, all that He does is true.

He groups His letters to form a word, and different letters again to form another word. There may be three only, or six; then no more are necessary, and fewer would destroy the sense. He who reads the thoughts of men is the only one who can bring these letters together, and write the words. All has meaning, all has perfect sense. This line ends here because He makes it do so. Not a comma is missing, and there is no unnecessary full-stop. At present I believe, but in the glory to come when so many mysteries will be revealed, I shall see plainly what now I so little understand.

Then what appears to me at present so intricate, so perplexing, so foolish, so inconsistent, so imaginary; will all be entrancing and will delight me eternally by the beauty, order, knowledge, wisdom, and the incomprehensible wonders it will all display."