DEDICATED TO ST JOSEPH
"the one chosen shadow of God upon earth." -Father Faber.
"Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and last
revealed them to little ones. Yea Father, for so hath it seemed
good in thy sight:" Matt. xi, 25, 26.
Made in England by the Catholic Records Press, Haven Road, Exeter
The Rev. Jean Pierre de Caussade was one of the most remarkable
spiritual writers of the Society of Jesus in France in the 18th
Century. His death took place at Toulouse in 1751. His works have
gone through many editions and have been republished, and
translated into several foreign languages.
The present book gives an English translation of the tenth French
Edition of Fr. de Caussade's "Abandon à la Providence Divine,"
edited, to the great benefit of many souls, by Fr. H. Ramière, S.
A portion of this remarkable work in English has already appeared
in America, but many readers, to whom this precious little book
has become a favourite, will welcome a complete translation,
especially as what has already appeared m the English version may
be considered as merely the theoretical part, whilst the "Letters
of Direction" which form the greater portion of the present work
give the practical part. They answer objections, solve
difficulties, and give practical advice. The book thus gains
considerably in value and utility.
It is divided into two unequal parts, the first containing a
treatise on total abandonment to Divine Providence, and the
second, letters of direction for persons leading a spiritual life.
The " Treatise " comprises two different aspects of Abandonment to
Divine Providence; one as a virtue, common and necessary to all
Christians, the other as a state, proper to souls who have made a
special practice of abandonment to the holy will of God.
The "Letters of Direction," (not included here: Ed) now for the first time translated into
English, were addressed to Nuns of the Visitation at Nancy. Fr. de Caussade had been stationed in this town for some time, and when
later he was called away, his letters to the Nuns carried on the
powerful influence he had exercised over them. They were treasured
and preserved with religious care, and thus have come down to our
own days. Fr. de Ramière, S. J., collected these letters, and
edited them with painstaking labour.
These "Spiritual Letters" are completely suited to the present
time; Catholic spiritual life being ever the same, there is
nothing in them which might require alteration or revision.
Directors of souls will find them an answer to the daily and
constantly recurring difficulties and trials of the interior life,
from the initial difficulties of beginners to the hidden trials of
souls of great sanctity. Whilst the "Letters," from the fact that
they were originally written for the direction of Nuns, are
chiefly intended for Religious, yet earnest people living in the
world will derive from their perusal a most efficacious means for
the attainment of resignation and peace in the midst of the
worries and anxieties of life.
The leading idea in the letters of Fr. de Caussade is abandonment,
complete and absolute, to Divine Providence. This was the
mainspring of his own spiritual life, and the key-note of his
direction of souls. He promises peace and holiness to every soul,
however simple, that follows his counsel, if it has an upright
intention, and a good will.
The following extract is from Fr. H. Ramière's preface to the
"That which renders Dr. de Caussade's letters especially valuable,
and makes them useful in an eminently practical manner, is the
circumstance that they are, for the most part, addressed to
persons suffering under different kinds of darkness, desolation
and trials; in a word, to those whom God designs for a high degree
of sanctity. To all the doubts submitted to him, and to all the
sufferings exposed to him by his correspondents, the holy Director
applied but one and the same solution and remedy-abandonment; but,
with perfect tact he adapts this practice to the particular nature
of the trial, and proportions its exercise to the degree of
perfection to which each soul has attained. The same method of
direction he applies in a hundred different ways, and therefore
this correspondence can be justly compared to a ladder by which
the soul ascends by successive degrees from a still very imperfect
state, to one of the most intimate union with God, and to the most
heroic abandonment. To whatever degree a soul has attained we can
safely promise that it will find in these letters suitable advice
and a solution of the difficulties by which it is beset. Even
those who look upon the spiritual life as an inextricable
labyrinth will receive from the hands of Fr. de Caussade the clue
which will enable them to escape from the darkness that envelopes
them, and to enjoy peace in the midst of their uneasiness. May it
prove this to all those poor souls who are troubled, and who
`tremble for fear where there is nothing to fear.' (Ps. 13). May
this book realise the message of the Angels, and bring peace to
souls of a good will."
The "Abandonment to Divine Providence" of Fr. de Caussade is as
far removed from the false inactivity of the Quietists, as true
Christian resignation is distinct from the fatalism of
Mohammedans. It is a trusting, childlike, peaceful abandonment to
the guidance of grace, and of the Holy Spirit: an unquestioning
and undoubting submission to the holy will of God in all things
that may befall us, be they due to the action of man, or to the
direct permission of God. To Fr. de Caussade, abandonment to God,
the " Ita Pater " of our Divine Lord, the " Fiat " of our Blessed
Lady, is the shortest, surest, and easiest way to holiness and
peace. Fr. de Caussade's work must be read with a certain amount
of discretion, as naturally every advice he gives does not apply
to all readers indiscriminately. Some of his counsels may be
appropriate for beginners; others for souls of a more advanced
degree of spirituality. No one, however, can fail to recognise in
his writings the sure tone of a "Master," who has united practical
to theoretical knowledge of his subject.
Every page is redolent with the unction of the Spirit of God, and
readers will find in his doctrine a heavenly manna, a food of
unfailing strength for their souls. The present work has been
carefully translated into readable English, and more regard has
been paid to the meaning than to the literal exactness of the
sentences. The elevated, noble style of the author has been
preserved throughout. It is a real contribution to the spiritual
literature of England.
I am aware that our English word "Abandonment " does not
adequately render the meaning of the French word "Abandon," but we
have no better expression. The translation has been undertaken
solely for the purpose of helping souls to follow the hidden paths
of the spiritual life, and to surrender themselves entirely to the
guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Dom Arnold, O.S.B., Buckfast Abbey.
(Feast of All Saints, 1921.)