More from Garrigou-Lagrange: more to help us all recognize this dark night.
We may profit by recalling the case of the holy Cure of Ars. His principal suffering sprang from the fact that he felt himself far from the ideal of the priesthood, whose grandeur appeared increasingly to him in the obscurity of faith, at the same time that he had an ever clearer understanding of the needs of the innumerable souls coming to him. The more he saw all the good that remained to be done, the less he saw what had already been accomplished; consequently he could not be complacent about it. His great suffering, which approached that of Jesus, Priest and Victim, and of Mary at the foot of the cross, was that which comes from the sight of sin and from the loss of souls. This suffering presupposes a penetrating view which is nothing else than the contemplation of the infinite goodness of God, who is disregarded and outraged, and of the value of eternal life. This contemplation grows more and more in the dark night of faith which we are discussing.
St. Catherine of Siena pointed out in her Dialogue that the contemplation of our indigence and wretchedness and that of the infinite majesty and goodness of God are like the lowest and highest points of a circle that could grow forever. In reality, in this contemplation there is a contrast, a clear-cut opposition between two things which in an admirable manner mutually illumine each other.
In the life of Blessed Angela of Foligno we find a striking example of this fact, which she recounts as follows: "I see myself deprived of every good, of every virtue, filled with a multitude of vices; . . . in my soul I see only defects. . . false humility, pride, hypocrisy. . . . I would wish to cry out my iniquities to others. . . . God is hidden for me. . . . How can I hope in Him? . . . Though all the wise men of the world and all the saints of paradise were to overwhelm me with their consolations, they would bring me no relief, if God does not change me in the depths of my soul. This interior torment is far worse than martyrdom. (7)
Modern people really do not identify with this low opinion of self. The great lies of modern New Age so-called ministries has been for 30 years about discovering self and one's gifts, with a complete centering on the self and NOT GOD. I have been totally against these diocesan courses on finding out about one's gifts, as these teach nothing about the stages of purification absolutely necessary before God can use someone.
So-called Gift Training Days are not of God. Sorry. One cannot even be used by God when one is full of self, self-love, self-aggrandizement and so on....
I had a long talk years ago with a laywoman who was conducting these types of courses; she could not see that this course actually takes the focus off Christ and on to one's self. This, of course, is a dead end and stops the route to perfection.
Then, recalling that God Himself was afflicted in Gethsemane, that during His passion He was scorned, buffeted, and tortured, she wished that her suffering might be increased still more, for it seemed to her a purifying suffering, which revealed to her the depths of the Passion. Some days later, on a road near Assisi, she heard these interior words: "O My daughter! I love thee more than any other person in this valley. . . . Thou hast prayed to My servant Francis, hoping to obtain with him and through him. Francis loved Me greatly, I did much in him; but if anyone loved Me more than Francis, I would do more for him. . . . I love with an immense love the soul that loves Me without falsehood. . . . Now, no one has any excuse, for all the world can love; God asks only love from the soul; for He Himself loves without falsehood, and is Himself the love of the soul." (8) Causing her to glimpse His passion, Jesus crucified added: "Look closely: dost thou find anything in Me which is not love?" (9)
To be continued....