Catholic belief, prayers and spiritual teaching
ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE (cont)
by Fr Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ
Book 2 - On the state of abandonment
Ch 2. The duties of those souls called by God to the state of abandonment
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.
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
he 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."
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 distresses
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