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Saturday, 25 May 2013

"patience produces roses."

I do not know where Garrigou-Lagrange found this phrase, but this is so true.

One must become very patient and wait for God. One must willingly be objective and see one's sins in the horror which these are. One must fight temptations to impatience.

Above all, at this stage, one must learn how to suffer, perhaps even constantly.

My comments in blue.

If we bear these trials well, they produce precious effects in us. It is said that "patience produces roses." Among the effects of the passive purification of the senses, must be numbered a profound and experimental knowledge of God and self.

St. John of the Cross points out: "These aridities and the emptiness of the faculties as to their former abounding, and the difficulty which good works present, bring the soul to a knowledge of its own vileness and misery." (20)

This is a repetition from an earlier post, but cannot be said too often. Knowledge of self brings humility. Can anyone really love another person unless one knows who one is?

This knowledge is the effect of nascent infused contemplation, which shows that infused contemplation is in the normal way of sanctity. St. John of the Cross says: "The soul possesses and retains more truly that excellent and necessary virtue of self-knowledge, counting itself for nothing, and having no satisfaction in itself, because it sees that of itself it does and can do nothing. This diminished satisfaction with self, and the affliction it feels because it thinks that it is not serving God, God esteems more highly than all its former delights and all its good works." (21)
With this knowledge of its indigence, its poverty, the soul comprehends better the majesty of God, His infinite goodness toward us, the value also of Christ's merits, of His precious blood, the infinite value of the Mass, and the value of Communion. "God enlightens the soul, making it see not only its own misery and meanness, . . . but also His grandeur and majesty." (22) 

St. Bernard of Clairvaux notes in his sermons on the Song of Songs that God, the Bridegroom, demands an honesty from the Bride and removes Himself from her if she is caught in falsities. The Bride must decide to be completely honest with herself in order to be loved and to love.

St. Teresa speaks in like manner: "For instance, they read that we must not be troubled when men speak ill of us, that we are to be then more pleased than when they speak well of us, . . . with many other things of the same kind. The disposition to practice this must be, in my opinion, the gift of God, for it seems to me a supernatural good." (23) "People may desire honors or possessions in monasteries as well as outside them (yet the sin is greater as the temptation is less), but such souls, although they may have spent years in prayer, or rather in speculations (for perfect prayer eventually destroys these vices), will never make great progress nor enjoy the real fruit of prayer." (24)

One must be completely detached from everything and, also, objective about one's self and others.

St. Catherine of Siena, too, taught the same doctrine: that the knowledge of God and that of our indigence are like the highest and the lowest points of a circle which could grow forever.(25) This infused knowledge of our misery is the source of true humility of heart, of the humility which leads one to desire to be nothing that God may be all,amare nesciri et pro nihilo reputari. Infused knowledge of the infinite goodness of God gives birth in us to a much more lively charity, a more generous and disinterested love of God and of souls in Him, a greater confidence in prayer.
As St. John of the Cross says: "The love of God is practiced, because the soul is no longer attracted by sweetness and consolation, but by God only. . . . In the midst of these aridities and hardships, God communicates to the soul, when it least expects it, spiritual sweetness, most pure love, and spiritual knowledge of the most exalted kind, of greater worth and profit than any of which it had previous experience, though at first the soul may not think so, for the spiritual influence now communicated is most delicate and imperceptible by sense." (26)

Again, this section is worth repeating. Does not one love someone not for what that person can give us, but merely, or not merely, who that person is? Do we not desire to be with the Beloved without wanting anything but Him?

The soul travels here in a spiritual light and shade; it rises above the inferior obscurity which comes from matter, error, and sin; it enters the higher obscurity which comes from a light that is too great for our weak eyes. It is the obscurity of the divine life, the light of which is inaccessible to the senses and to natural reason. But between these two obscurities, the lower and the higher, there is a ray of illumination from the Holy Ghost; it is the illuminative life which truly begins. Then are realized the Savior's words: "He that followeth Me walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life," (27) and he already has it.  

The obscurity is not frightening, but like a cave which is safe from all the storms of life. This safe place is like being in the womb of God. Then, in this dimness, one receives a light which penetrates all the darkness. However, one soon realizes that the light and the dark are the same thing. One cannot comprehend the light from God, as this life is too great to understand or even absorb, so for the person receiving this light, this creates a temporary darkness, as when a light is switched on and one's eyes have to take a few seconds to adjust to the light. However, when one gets accustomed to the light, one begins to see more and more Truth, Who is God.

Under this light, affective charity becomes effective and generous. Through the spirit of sacrifice it more and more takes first place in the soul; it establishes peace in us and gives it to others. Such are the principal effects of the passive purification of the senses, which subjects our sensibility to the spirit and spiritualizes that sensibility. Thus this purification appears in the normal way of sanctity. 

Normal means normal. God wants all people to undergo this process-all. And, as purgatory is punishment, God desires that all enter into this purification now, on earth, where there is merit. 

Later the passive purification of the spirit will have as its purpose to supernaturalize our spirit, to subject it fully to God in view of perfect divine union, which is the normal prelude to that of eternity.

Someone asked me today how long this passive purification takes. I have no idea. I think some nuns in the monastery may experience this in the third to fifth year, before final vows. For others, this happens before they enter, and for others, a long time, perhaps until death. I do not know how long this takes. 

 These are the superior laws of the life of grace, or of its full development, in its relation to the two parts of the soul. The senses should, in the end, be fully subjected to the spirit, and the spirit to God.

First, the rational takes over and then the spirit. There is nothing anti-intellectual about this process.

Finally, it should be pointed out that the passive purification of the senses, even for those who enter it, is more or less manifest and also more or less well borne. St. John of the Cross points out this fact when he speaks of those who show less generosity: "The night of aridities is not continuous with them, they are sometimes in it, and sometimes not; they are at one time unable to meditate, and at another able as before. . . . These persons are never wholly weaned from the breasts of meditations and reflections, but only, as I have said, at intervals and at certain seasons." (28)

The key at this stage is to recognize that meditation must be given up and not sought. One lives in Faith and in the knowledge that God will reveal Himself as He pleases.

 In The Living Flame, the mystical doctor, explaining why this is so, says: "Because these souls flee purifying suffering, God does not continue to purify them; they wish to be perfect without allowing themselves to be led by the way of trial which forms the perfect." (29)

Perhaps the most important point is found in the above statement. One must accept trial and suffering. The nuns at Tyburn understand this. They accept penances and take on more than "necessary" in order to cooperate with this passive purification. The crosses sent by God do not matter. Suffering does not matter. One must accept this way, if one wants to be united to the Crucified God. If one pulls back, the graces are withheld until one opens one's heart again and again, begging the Bridegroom to return. God chooses the trials, a person does not.

To be continued...