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Monday, 13 April 2015

More on Passive Purgation and Our Times

To go through the Dark Night entails one deciding to let God purify one and to stick with the pain and suffering. Garrigou-Lagrange notes that persecutions are "collective purifications", a fact I have mentioned on this blog.

Heroic virtue then is necessary. God almost forces some to become saints, if these people do not pass up the opportunity or bail out.

One cannot judge people's personal trials and tribulations. One cannot judge, period. In fact, one cannot even judge one's self.

In connection with this subject, it should be noted that there are also at times collective purifications, like persecutions, from which the soul must know how to draw profit. On such occasions the heroic degree of the virtues becomes necessary; one is in the happy necessity of becoming a saint in order not to be lost. Those who seem fairly good in prosperity are often weak and cowardly in these great difficulties; others, on the contrary, reveal their true character on these occasions. These grave moments should lead us to make the following salutary reflection: true sanctity does not require a lesser purification in outwardly calm periods than in periods troubled by persecution. The saints who lived in the calmest periods of the life of the Church had their interior trials, without which their souls would not have attained to the perfect purity which God willed to see in them.

No one knew the sufferings of St. Faustina, for example, or other nuns and monks, who suffered in silence. How many mothers have suffered for their children in silence, and in prayer? These sufferings are salutary, if one does not waste them by complaining.

In no period, however calm it may be, can anyone become a saint without carrying his cross, without being configured to Christ crucified. In troubled times, however, man often faces the urgent necessity of sanctifying himself completely in order not to lose his soul; he must then be heroically faithful in order not to fall back. In other calmer periods, this urgent necessity does not make itself thus felt, but even then, carrying his cross he must follow our Lord. Nothing unclean can enter heaven; one must be purified either before death, like the martyrs, or after it, like the souls in purgatory.

Nothing imperfect can enter heaven....let me end this with a description of  our choice to be excellent servants, not merely good ones. 

Lastly, there are other collective trials which demand great uprightness of will: for example, when in the society in which we live some exceptional event occurs that obliges us, though at the cost of great sacrifices, to declare ourselves for God. Such events are visits from the Lord; in them are distinguished His true servants, who, instead of being merely good, must become excellent. With this meaning, the aged Simeon said of the coming of the Child Jesus into the world: "Behold this Child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; . . . that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed." (3) In other words, Christ, who had come for the salvation of all, was to be an occasion of fall for many. Refusing to recognize the Savior in Him, they have fallen into infidelity. Thus the secret thoughts of the Pharisees were revealed, whereas they would have remained partly hidden had the Pharisees lived two centuries earlier. Something similar occurs when there is a great supernatural event, like the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin at Lourdes, an event about which the good and the bad are divided. There is, as Pascal says, sufficient light for those who wish to see and sufficient obscurity for those who do not wish to see. These great events, persecutions, or exceptional visits of the Lord, on the occasion of which the good and the tepid are profoundly divided, throw light on what we are saying here of the passive purification of the soul. In periods when the life of society is not marked by anything exceptionally bad or good, no less a purification is needed to reach sanctity than in periods of social upheaval.

So, we are fortunate in the fact that we live in these times of choice. May God grant us the grace always, and may we respond to His grace.

More tomorrow....