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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Good news regarding the second conversion and passive purification

Peter was not acting in a holy manner when he was running from Rome and death. He was avoiding his martyrdom, which takes the place of the passive purification. Martyrdom is a shortcut to purification, through intense pain, suffering and obedience to God's Will.

If one cooperates, the process of passive purification, the way most of us must take, states the experts, goes much more quickly, than if one fights suffering. This is why the nuns embrace the penances and poverty of their state. They are on the fast road to union with God.

Here is a helpful paragraph from Garrigou-Lagrange. I have read de Caussade several times and do highly recommend him. Also, of course, like many of you, I have read St. John of the Cross. I have read bits of the book by St. Francis de Sales, which is mentioned. I have not read Boudon.

There is, first of all, a general rule. These afflicted souls should be treated with kindness and helped that they may be led to full conformity to the divine will. The first rule of direction is that these souls should accept this trial generously for as long a time as, according to the good pleasure of God, it may last, and they should live in abandonment to the divine will. Moreover, as a general rule, the more generously they accept this purification, the quicker it will end, since the effect for which God wills it, will be more promptly accomplished. If it is more intense, it will generally be shorter (like the purification of purgatory) unless the soul is to suffer specially for sinners, over and above its personal purification.
Excellent books have been written on abandonment to Providence in this period of the spiritual life. Besides The Dark Night (Bk. II) of St. John of the Cross, there is the Treatise on The Love of God (Bk. IX) of St. Francis de Sales on the love of submission and of holy indifference in spiritual afflictions.(1) In the seventeenth century, Father A. Piny, O.P., wrote Le plus parfait, or the way of abandonment to the will of God, and also L'Etat du pur amour. In the same period we find Les saintes voies de la croix by the Venerable Henry Mary Boudon; in the eighteenth century, Abandonment to Divine Providence by Father de Caussade, S.J.; and recently (1919), Le saint abandon by Dom Vitalis Lehodey, O.C.R.

I have warned people about quietism last year in a blog or two, and here is a reminder from Garrigou-Lagrange.

In this question of abandonment, two dangers must be avoided: quietism and the opposing error. Quietism or semi-quietism denies the necessity of our cooperation and goes so far as to demand in these trials the sacrifice of our hope or desire of salvation.(2) On the contrary, we must in this case, as St. Paul says: "Against hope believe in hope." (3)

A delicate balance is needed between action and inaction. I believe the Holy Spirit can directly help here, and, of course, one must do what is needed in one's daily responsibilities.

The contrary error would consist in exaggerating the necessity of our cooperation while diminishing that of prayer and disregarding the efficacy of our petitions and the conduct of Providence which directs all. It would amount to a sort of practical naturalism. Tried souls should, on the contrary, pray particularly, ask the help of God to persevere in faith, trust, and love. They must be told that, if they continue to pray in this severe trial, it is a sign that, in spite of appearances, their prayer is granted; for no one can continue to pray without a new actual grace. And God who, from all eternity, has foreseen and willed our prayers, excites them in us.

I have had a terrible trial for three years, about which few people know. I am still asking God to help me directly with this. Perseverance is a grace. One lives by Faith, which is hoping and trusting in God for that which is not seen.

To this general rule of the generous acceptance of the trial in conformity with the divine will, must be added three special rules relating to the three theological virtues, by which especially one must live during the night of the spirit. Here more particularly is verified the expression: "The just man liveth by faith." (4) The night of the spirit is that of faith whose object is obscure mysteries which appear so much the more obscure in proportion as they are higher above the senses. St. Thomas often says: "Fides est de non visis," the object of faith is things not seen. One does not believe on testimony what one sees.

I cannot emphasize this boldface section enough. Only by Faith and not anxiety or pushing or impatience, does the passive purification lead to light and finally, union with God.

To be continued....