I can answer a question asked of me by several readers. Why is it, they want to
know, that the life of the virtues can only come to fruition after the
purgation of the Dark Night?
Two mains reasons, one of which I have written on in the Dark Night series last year, involve the same movement of the soul.
The first is the recognition of sin and the removal of all sin. This means one must resolve not to commit venial sin and allow God to take away imperfections.
The second reason rests in the long discussion of
St. Angela on humility. Humility, which should come from
the first stage of recognizing sin and repenting of sin, forms the basis for
the life of the virtues.
Angela notes that faith, hope and love only come into being and are only fruitful when one is humble.
One realizes the need for faith and obedience to God, His Scriptures and the Church only in humility. One asks for faith in humility. Those who are still in rebellion and disobedient do not ask for faith, because they are not humble.
One realizes that one can hope for salvation and the final union with God in heaven only after one is humble. No proud person can experience real hope, as this person would be relying on his own achievements and talents.
Love flows out of humility and one of the most beautiful sections in the book by
St. Angela reveals
that only the humble can truly love.
Let me put her ideas in the form of rhetorical questions.
Do you want to serve the ill, comforting them, caring for their needs? If not, why not? The humble realize those who are ill rely on others, and the humble know empathy.
Do you want to serve the poor, befriending them, and taking a personal interest in their needs? If not, why not? Could it be that pride keeps you from seeing that except by God’s grace and bounty, you would be poor as well? Do you grieve with the poor and unfortunate, or judge them?
Do you understand the role of Mary, Our Mother, in the Church? If not, why not? Could it be that you do not want to identify with the most humble creature ever made?
The basis for the virtues is humility and those caught up in egoism will never experience the life of the virtues.
The basis of humility is prayer, prayer, prayer.
St. Angela speaks to me personally when she writes that
Christ gave us the example of praying for everything. “Pray if thou desirest
faith; pray if thou desirest hope; pray if thou desirest love, or poverty, or
obedience, or chastity; pray is thou desirest any virtue whatsoever.”
Constant and persistent prayer cannot be overlooked in the pursuit of perfection. Prayer must be the center of our lives. All of our energies and minds must be centered on Christ and His ways.
People say they have no time for prayer. I have no time for trivia.
To be continued….