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 4. Concerning the assistance rendered by the fatherly providence of God to those souls who have abandoned themselves to Him
The soul, in the state of abandonment, does not fear its enemies, but finds in them useful helps.
I fear more my own action and that of my friends than that of my enemies. There is no prudence so great as that which offers no resistance to enemies, and which opposes to them only a simple abandonment. This is to run before the wind, and as there is nothing else to be done, to keep quiet and peaceful. There is nothing that is more entirely opposed to worldly prudence than simplicity; it turns aside all schemes without comprehending them, without so much as a thought about them. The divine action makes the soul take such just measures as to surprise those who want to take it by surprise themselves. It profits by all their efforts, and is raised by the very things that are done to lower it. They are the galley slaves who bring the ship into port with hard rowing. All obstacles turn to the good of this soul, and by allowing its enemies a free hand, it obtains a continual service, so sufficing that all it has to fear is lest it should itself take part in a work of which God would be principal, and His enemies the agents, and in which it has nothing to do but to peacefully observe the work of God, and to follow with simplicity the attractions He gives it. The supernatural prudence of the Divine Spirit, the principle of these attractions, infallibly attains its end; and the precise circumstances of each event are so applied to the soul, without its perception, that everything opposed to them cannot fail to be destroyed
The soul in the state of abandonment can abstain from justifying itself by word or deed. The divine action justifies it.
This order of the divine will is the solid and firm rock on which the submissive soul reposes, sheltered from change and tempest. It is continually present under the veil of crosses; and of the most ordinary actions. Behind this veil the hand of God is hidden to sustain and to support those who abandon themselves entirely to Him.
From the time that a soul becomes
firmly established in abandonment, it will be protected from the
opposition of talkers, for it need not ever say or do anything in
self-defence. Since the work is of God, justification must never
be sought elsewhere. Its effects and its consequences are
justification enough. There is nothing but to let it develop "Dies
diei eructat verbum"; "Day to day uttereth speech" (Ps xviii. 3).
When one is no longer guided by reflexion, words must no longer be
used in self-defence. Our words can only express our thoughts;
where no ideas are supposed to exist, words cannot be used. Of
what use would they be? To give a satisfactory explanation of our
conduct? But we cannot explain that of which we know nothing for
it is hidden in the principle of our actions, and we have
experienced nothing but an impression, and that in an ineffable
manner. We must, therefore, let the results justify their
God imparts to the soul in the state of abandonment by means which seem more likely to destroy it.
There is a time when God would be the life of the soul, and Himself accomplish its perfection in secret and unknown ways. Then all its own ideas, lights, industries, examinations, and reasonings become sources of illusion. After many experiences of the sad consequences of self-guidance, the soul recognising its uselessness, and finding that God has hidden and confused all the issues, is forced to fly to Him to find life.
Then, convinced of its nothingness and of the harmfulness of all
that it derives from itself, it abandons itself to God to gain all
from Him. It is then that God becomes the source of its life, not
by means of ideas, lights, or reflexions, for all this is no
longer anything to it but a source of illusion; but in reality,
and by His grace, which is hidden under the strangest appearances.
In the same way the submissive soul is in no way pre-occupied about its infirmities, except as regards obvious maladies which by their nature compel it to rest; and to take suitable remedies. The languor and weakness of souls in the state of abandonment are only illusory appearances which they ought to defy with confidence. God sends them, or permits them in order to give opportunities for the exercise of faith and abandonment which are the true remedies.
Without paying the least attention to them,
these souls should generously pursue their way, following by their
actions and sufferings the order of God, making use without
hesitation of the body as though it were a horse on hire, which is
intended to be driven until it is worn out. This is better than
thinking of health so much as to harm the soul.
The conduct of one who is upheld and sustained by it should show nothing exteriorly but what is heroic. The terrifying experiences that have to be encountered are really nothing. They are only sent that life may be adorned with more glorious victories. The divine will involves the soul in troubles of every kind, where human prudence can neither see nor imagine any outlet. It then feels all its weakness, and, finding out its shortcomings, is confounded.
The divine will then asserts itself in all its power to those who give themselves to it without reserve. It succours them more marvellously than the writers of fiction, in the fertility of their imagination, unravel the intrigues and perils of their imaginary heroes, and bring them to a happy end.
With a much more admirable skill, and much
more happily, does the divine will guide the soul through deadly
perils and monsters, even through the fires of hell with their
demons and sufferings. It raises souls to the heights of heaven,
and makes them the subjects of histories both real and mystical,
more beautiful, and more extraordinary than any invented by the
vain imagination of man.