Section 6 - On the Use of Mental Faculties.
The mind with all the consequences of its activity might take the
foremost rank among the tools employed by God, but has to be
deputed to the lowest as a dangerous slave. It might be of great
service if made use of in a right manner, but is a danger if not
kept in subjection. When the soul longs for outward help it is
made to understand that the divine action is sufficient for it.
When without reason it would disclaim this outward help, the
divine action shows it that such help should be received and
adapted with simplicity in obedience to the order established by
God, and that we should use it as a tool, not for its own sake but
as though we used it not, and when deprived of all help as though
we wanted nothing.
The divine action although of infinite power can only take full
possession of the soul in so far as it is void of all confidence
in its own action; for this confidence, being founded on a false
idea of its own capacity, excludes the divine action. This is the
obstacle most likely to arrest it, being in the soul itself; for,
as regards obstacles that are exterior, God can change them if He
so pleases into means for making progress. All is alike to Him,
equally useful, or equally useless. Without the divine action all
things are as nothing, and with it the veriest nothing can be
turned to account.
Whether it be meditation, contemplation, vocal prayer, interior
silence, or the active use of any of the faculties, either
sensible and distinct, or almost imperceptible; quiet retreat, or
active employment, whatever it may be in itself, even if very
desirable, that which God wills for the present moment is best and
all else must be regarded by the soul as being nothing at all.
Thus, beholding God in all things it must take or leave them all
as He pleases, and neither desire to live, nor to improve, nor to
hope, except as He ordains, and never by the help of things which
have neither power nor virtue except from Him. It ought, at every
moment and on all occasions, to say with St. Paul, "Lord, what
wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts ix, 6) without choosing this thing
or that, but "whatsoever You will. The mind prefers one thing, the
body another, but, Lord, I desire nothing but to accomplish Your
holy will. Work, contemplation or prayer whether vocal or mental,
active or passive; the prayer of faith or of understanding; that
which is distinguished in kind, or gifted with universal grace: it
is all nothing Lord unless made real and useful by Your will. It
is to Your holy will that I devote myself and not to any of these
things, however high and sublime they may be, because it is the
perfection of the heart for which grace is given, and not for that
of the mind."
The presence of God which sanctifies our souls is the dwelling of
the Holy Trinity in the depths of our hearts when they submit to
His holy will. The act of the presence of God made in
contemplation effects this intimate union only like other acts
that are according to the order of God.
There is, therefore, nothing unlawful in the love and esteem we
have for contemplation and other pious exercises, if this love and
esteem are directed entirely to the God of all goodness who
willingly makes use of these means to unite our souls to Himself.
In entertaining the suite of a prince, one entertains the prince
himself, and he would consider any discourtesy shown to his
officers under pretence of wishing for him alone as an insult to