"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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"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."

St Philip Neri

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"Lord, here burn, here cut, and dry up in me all that hinders me from going to You, that You may spare me in eternity."

St Louis Bertrand

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




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

Section 9 - Divine Love, the Principle of All Good.

To those who follow this path, divine love is all-sufficing.

While despoiling of all things those souls who give themselves entirely to Him, God gives them something in place of them. Instead of light, wisdom, life, and strength, He gives them His love.

The divine love in these souls is like a supernatural instinct. In nature, each thing contains that which is suitable to its kind. Each flower has its special beauty, each animal its instinct, and each creature its perfection. Also in the different states of grace, each has a special grace.

This is the recompense for everyone who accepts with goodwill the state in which he is placed by Providence. A soul comes under the divine action from the moment that a habit of goodwill is formed within it, and this action influences it more or less according to its degree of abandonment. The whole art of abandonment is simply that of loving, and the divine action is nothing else than the action of divine love.

How can it be that these two loves seeking each other should do otherwise than unite when they meet? How can the divine love refuse aught to a soul whose every desire it directs? And how can a soul that lives only for Him refuse Him anything? Love can refuse nothing that love desires, nor desire anything that love refuses. The divine action regards only the goodwill; the capability of the other faculties does not attract it, nor does the want of capability repel it. All that it requires is a heart that is good, pure, just, simple, submissive, filial, and respectful.

It takes possession of such a heart, and of all its faculties, and so arranges everything for its benefit that it finds in all things its sanctification. That which destroys other souls would find in this soul an antidote of goodwill which would nullify its poison. Even at the edge of a precipice the divine action would draw it back, or even if it were allowed to remain there it would prevent it from falling; and if it fell, it would rescue it. After all, the faults of such a soul are only faults of frailty; love takes but little notice of them, and well knows how to turn them to advantage.

It makes the soul understand by secret suggestions what it ought to say, or to do, according to circumstances. These suggestions it receives as rays of light from the divine understanding : "intellectus bonus omnibus facientibus eum"; "A good understanding to all that do it" (Ps. cx. 10), for this divine understanding accompanies such souls step by step, and prevents them taking those false steps which their simplicity encourages.

If they make arrangements which would involve them in some promise prejudicial to them, divine Providence arranges some fortunate occurrence which rectifies everything. In vain are schemes formed against them repeatedly; divine Providence cuts all the knots, brings the authors to confusion, and so turns their heads as to make them fall into their own trap. Under its guidance those souls that they wish to take by surprise do certain things that seem very useless at the time, but that serve afterwards to deliver them from all the troubles into which their uprightness and the malice of their enemies would have plunged them.

Oh! what good policy it is to have goodwill! What prudence there is in simplicity! What ability in its innocence and candour! What mysteries and secrets in its straightforwardness! Look at the youthful Tobias; he is but a lad, yet with what confidence he proceeds, having the archangel Raphael for his guide. Nothing frightens him, nothing is wanting to him. The very monsters he encounters furnish him with food and remedies; the one that rushes forward to devour him becomes itself his sustenance. By the order of Providence he has nothing to attend to but feasts and weddings, everything else is left to the management of the guiding spirit appointed to help him.

These things are so well managed that never before have they been so successful, nor so blessed and prosperous. However, his mother weeps, and is in great distress at his supposed loss, but his father remains full of faith. The son, so bitterly mourned returns to rejoice his family and to share their happiness.

Divine love then, is to those who give themselves up to it without reserve, the principle of all good. To acquire this inestimable treasure the only thing necessary is greatly to desire it. Yes, God only asks for love, and if you seek this treasure, this kingdom in which God reigns alone, you will find it. If your heart is entirely devoted to God, it is itself, for that very reason, the treasure and the kingdom that you seek and desire. From the time that one desires God and His holy will, one enjoys God and His will, and this enjoyment corresponds to the ardour of the desire.

To desire to love God is truly to love Him, and because we love Him we wish to become instruments of His action in order that His love may be exercised in, and by us: The divine action does not correspond to the aims of a saintly and simple soul, nor to the steps it takes, nor to the projects it forms, nor to the manner in which it reflects, nor to the means it chooses, nor to the purity of its intention. It often happens that the soul can be deceived in all this, but its good intention and uprightness can never deceive it. Provided that God perceives in it a good intention, He can dispense with all the rest, and He holds as done for Him what it will eventually do when truer ideas second its goodwill.

Goodwill, therefore, has nothing to fear. If it fall, it can only do so under the almighty hand which guides and sustains it in all its wanderings. It is this divine hand which turns it again to face the goal from which it has strayed; which replaces it in the right path when it has wandered. In it the soul finds resources for the deviations to which the blind faculties which deceive it, render it subject. It is made to feel how much it ought to despise them, and to rely on God alone, abandoning itself absolutely to His infallible guidance.

The failings into which good souls fall are put an end to by abandonment. Never can goodwill be taken unawares. That all things work for its good is an article of faith.