Tuesday, November 24, 2009

General Principles from Abandonment To Divine Providence

Our Lord has given me something better for you than that which you desire, something that it did not occur to you to ask for. It is a summary of some general principles to guide your conduct in life, with an explanation of the easiest way of putting them into practice.

1st Principle. The mainspring of the spiritual life is a good will, that is to say, a sincere desire to belong to God entirely and without reserve; consequently it is not possible to renew too frequently this holy desire in order to strengthen it, and to make it more lasting and efficacious.

2nd Principle. The firm resolution to belong to God should produce in you a determination to think only of Him, and this can be practiced in two ways, first by accustoming yourself never voluntarily to entertain thoughts, or to reflect on subjects which do not concern God directly or indirectly as to the duties of your state in general, or in particular. The best way of dealing with idle thoughts is not to combat and still less to be anxious and troubled about them, but just to let them drop, like a stone into the sea. Gradually the habit of acting thus will become easy. The second way to think only of God is to forget everything else, and one arrives at this state by dint of dropping all idle thoughts, so that it often happens that for some time one may pass whole days without, apparently, thinking of anything as though one had become quite stupid. It often happens that God even places certain souls in this state, which is called the emptiness of the spirit and of the understanding, or the state of nothingness. This annihilation of one’s own spirit wonderfully prepares the soul for the reception of that of Jesus Christ. This is the mystical death to the workings of one’s own activity, and renders the soul capable of undergoing the divine operation. This great emptiness of the spirit frequently produces another void even more painful—that of the will; so that one has seemingly, no feeling, either for the things of this world, or even for God, being equally callous to all. It is often God Himself who effects this second void in the souls of certain people. One must not, then, try to get rid of this state, since it is a preparation for the reception of God’s most precious operations, and is the second mystical death intended to precede a happy resurrection to a new life. This two-fold void must therefore be valued and retained. It is a double annihilation very difficult for pride and self-love to endure, and must be borne with the holy joy of an interior spirit.

3rd Principle. We must confine our whole attention to fulfilling as perfectly as possible the holy will of God to its full extent, abandoning everything else to Him, such as, the care of all our temporal and also our spiritual interests, as, our advancement in virtue. The practice of this double abandonment is, first—every time we feel in our hearts a desire, or a fear, or have ideas and form projects regarding our own interests or those of our parents and friends, to say to God, “Lord, I sacrifice all this; I give up all my miserable interests to You. May all that You please, all that You wish, happen. However, as there may be occasions when it is reasonably necessary to think and to act, I beg You to give me the thought at the right time, and thus I shall do nothing but follow what You deign to inspire, and I accept in advance either good or adverse results.” Having made this interior act we should let all our fears and desires drop like a stone, without troubling ourselves any more about them, being assured that God will give us, in His own good time, the thought and impulse to act according to His holy will and divine intention. Jean Pierre de Caussade SJ

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