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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Discernment Part Five

There is much more in Garrigou-Lagrange's book and much more on this subject, but I want to highlight only this selection below. I have found that in my life there have been people who have seemed holy only for me to discover that they do not love the Church, or desire the Eucharist. One wonders at the discrepancies, until one realizes that all the virtues come to be exhibited by the person who is truly holy. All the baptized are called to holiness. but without discernment, we can be fooled in following erroneous ideas or waste time in groups or endeavors which actually lead us into pride.

Too many people also fall into the category described below as "exotic". Eccentricity is not a sign of holiness.  Simplicity and a genuine humility are always signs of the spirit of God, whether in priests or in lay people. That God allows humiliation in one's life is a sign that He is working on the virtues, freeing one from the ego so that these virtues may flourish.

I have emphasized some characteristics of this topic in order to show that we are capable of developing the gift of discernment which has a real purpose in our lives. It is too easy for anyone to fall into self-deceit concerning progress on the road to perfection without a grounding in discernment.

Here are the last paragraphs for consideration at this time. One can see how these ideas follow some of the entries in Raissa's Journal. That Garrigou-Lagrange was part of the lives of the Maritains should surprise none of my readers.

Therefore the spirit which chafes under humiliation is not a perfect spirit: neither is the spirit which neglects to deny itself a spirit of solid virtue, since all the virtues ought to develop in unison as they are so closely related to each other.

It follows, therefore, that a spirit which prompts a man to numerous acts of mortification but not to ready obedience is imperfect, and must be regarded at least to some extent as having an evil intention, since it is so insistent on following its own will. True it is that such a spirit is often the cause of many good works but these are not inspired by any love of God, as is evident from the lack of growth in humble obedience the sure sign of loving conformity to the will of God.
Neither is that spirit to be trusted which is always urging man to paradoxical action, which is continually forming judgments that conflict with the common opinion of prudent men. Such a spirit is, so to speak, exotic and artificial; it is impulsive rather than virtuous.

Similarly, there cannot be any doubt about the evil nature of a spirit which fosters in man a desire for what is extraordinary and willingly speaks of this to all and sundry. God would never lead a soul to the higher planes of the spiritual life without making it at the same time extremely humble, since all the virtues arc inter-related and so are perfected together. That is why it is so easy to distinguish the truly high-minded person from one who is presumptuous. It is part of the devil's plan to incite in man a desire for what is new, curious, abnormal, amazing, unusual, and so to excite the wonder and admiration of others that they will think of him as a saint.
The same holds true of a person not yet firmly grounded in the virtues of humility and obedience, who while professing a desire to imitate the saints, concentrates on details of their lives which were never intended to be imitated but simply admired, and dedicates himself to a life of extraordinary forms of prayer and penance.

How foolish to commence erecting a spiritual mansion from the top, like a bird trying to fly without wings! We should never be misled by the apparent success of a soul which makes such an attempt; its flight into the realms of mysticism is deceptive, dangerous, and to no purpose.