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Monday, 15 June 2015

Trusting vs. Triumphalism I

In his great work, Providence, Garrigou-Lagrange clearly states that true trust involves humility, and the awareness that one is never worthy of God's graces or protection.

Starting with this quotation, one begins to sense the difference between Triumphalism and Trusting in Divine Providence.

As the psalms declare: "Blessed are they that trust in the Lord" (2: 12) ; "They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion: he shall not be moved forever that dwelleth in Jerusalem" (124: 1) ; "Preserve me, O Lord, for I have put my trust in Thee" (15: 1) ; "In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me not be confounded" (30: 1).
St. Paul (Rom. 4: 18) reminds us how Abraham, in spite of his advanced years, believed in the divine promise that he would be the father of many nations, and adds: "Against hope, he believed in hope.... In the promise also of God he staggered not by distrust: but was strengthened in faith,, giving glory to God: most fully knowing that whatsoever He has promised, He is able to perform."
We, too, while fulfilling our daily duties, should look to our Lord for the realization of these words of His: "My sheep hear My voice: and I know them, and they follow Me... and no man shall pluck them out of My hand" (John 10: 27). As Father Piny notes, [74] to do one's duty in all earnestness and then to resign oneself with entire confidence into our Lord's hands is the true mark of a member of His flock. What better way can there be of hearkening to the voice of the good Shepherd than by constantly acquiescing in all that He demands of us, lovingly beseeching Him to have pity on us, throwing ourselves confidently into the arms of His mercy with all our failings and regrets? By so doing, we are at the same time placing in His hands all our fears for both the past and the future. This holy self-abandonment is not at all opposed to hope, but is childlike confidence in its holiest form united with a love becoming ever more and more purified.

Two keys to trusting and not falling into Triumphalism have been defined as humility and childlike confidence, which is not the same as a prideful arrogance which either borders on presumption, or leads to the sin of presumption.

The unpurified, those who have not gone through the Dark Nights, and have not moved into the Illuminative State, in other words, the beginners, float back and forth between presumption and doubt. This vacillation is caused by the lack of humility, and the still present predominant fault, which interferes with purity of heart.

One can see this dynamic in one's life, if one is honest.

More from the great Dominican:

Our Lord loves with a most tender love those who are so happy as to abandon themselves wholly to His fatherly care, letting themselves be governed by His divine providence, without any idle speculations as to whether the workings of this providence will be useful to them, to their profit, or painful to their loss, and this because they are well assured that nothing can be sent, nothing permitted by this paternal and most loving heart, which will not be a source of good and profit to them. All that is required is that they should place all their confidence in Him. [75]... When, in fulfilling our daily duties, we abandon everything, our Lord takes care of everything and orders everything.... The soul has nothing else to do but to rest in the arms of our Lord like a child on its mother's breast. When she puts it down to walk, it walks until she takes it up again, and when she wishes to carry it, she is allowed to do so. It neither knows nor thinks where it is going, but allows itself to be carried or led wherever its mother pleases. So this soul lets itself be carried when it lovingly accepts God's good pleasure in all things that happen, and walks when it carefully effects all that the known (expressed) will of God demands. [76]
Then it can truly say with our Lord: "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me" (John 4: 34). Therein it finds its peace, which even now is in some sort the beginning of eternal life within us—inchoatio vitae aeternae.

The mystery of the times of persecution involve the purification of the elect, those who desire God and want to learn to trust completely in Providence.

If, then, as a result of our failings, something happens to distress us, it is a providential lesson which we must accept in all humility and thus derive some profit from it. If, through no fault of our own, God permits us to be deprived of certain help, this is because that help is not really necessary for our sanctification and salvation. The saints find that in a sense nothing is wanting to them unless it be a greater love for God. If only we knew the inner meaning of those incidents we call hindrances, contradictions, reverses, disappointments, misfortunes, and failures, we should of course deplore any disorder they might involve (and the saints deplored it, were pained by it far more than we), but we should also reproach ourselves for complaining and give more consideration to the higher purpose God is pursuing in all that He wills and even in His divine permission of evil. [77]
Should we wonder that the ways of providence are some times mysterious and that reason is disconcerted at the mystery? "The just man liveth by faith" (Rom. 1: 17), says the Scripture, and in particular he lives by the mystery of providence and its ways. Eventually he realizes that, far from being contradictory, the mystery cannot be rejected without every phase of our life becoming a contradiction.

The problem is that most people do not want to spend the time necessary to learn patience, and humility.

Could we but grasp this truth, then not only the time of mass or our hours of prayer and visits to the Blessed Sacrament would be a source of sanctification to us, but every hour of the day would take on a supernatural significance and remind us that we are on our way to eternity. Hence the pious practice of blessing each hour as it begins, calling down the divine benediction upon it. At every moment we should be at God's service; there is no moment of the day that has not some duty for us to fulfil, some duty toward God or our neighbor, the duty at least of patiently waiting when external action is no longer possible. Every minute must find us hallowing the name of God as though there were nothing more to keep us here in time, as though the next moment must see our entry into eternity.

The reference to the War is significant for us today. War is just another form of the justice of God allowing people to be punished for serious sin, as we see over and over again in the Old and the New Testament.

In the World War this was the attitude of the more spiritually-minded when under gunfire. In those three-minute intervals before firing recommenced, they would say to themselves: "One moment, perhaps, and then death, " and they would live the present moment as though it were the prelude to eternity.

This, too, was the attitude of the saints, not only in exceptional circumstances, but in the ordinary routine of their lives: they never lost the sense of God's presence. Now light is thrown on this attitude of theirs by the Gospel principles we mentioned and which are as applicable to us as to them.

The key is humility, humility, humility...and the refusal to fall into subjective attitudes. 

 As often noted, in many cases where souls have given themselves to God in all sincerity and have made generous, even heroic efforts to prove their love for Him, a critical moment comes when they must abandon a too personal way of judging and acting—though it may be of a high order—so as to enter upon the path of true humility, that "little humility" which loses sight of self and looks henceforward on God alone.

One must move away from all narcissism. One must look at the Cross.

At that moment two widely different courses are possible: either the soul seeks for itself the course to take and pursues it, or it fails to do so, sometimes going so far astray in its upward path as to go back again without being altogether aware of it.

To see this path of true humility is to discover in our everyday life, from morning to night, opportunities of performing seemingly trivial acts for the love of God. But the frequent repetition of these acts is of immense value and leads to a delicacy of attitude to God and our neighbor which, if constant and truly sincere, is the mark of perfect charity.

Trivial acts bring us closer to the depth of cleaning out the ugliness of our hearts and minds. The little things are important., not just the big things.

If one truly gives one's self to God, He more than meets that generous spirit with His Own Abundant generosity. God cannot be outdone in generosity.

If a soul that has shown itself generous or even heroic, after reaching this point is still far too personal in its manner of judging and acting and does not see the need of a change, it continues on its way with a merely acquired impetus, and its prayer and activities are no longer what they should be. There is a real danger here. The soul may become stunted and its development arrested like one dwarfed through some deformity. Or it may take a false direction. Instead of true humility, it may almost unawares develop a sort of refined pride, which scarcely appears at first except in the small details of daily life. For that reason this will remain unknown to a spiritual director living apart from those he directs. This pride will steadily take the form of an amused condescension, and subsequently develop into an acerbity of manner in our relations with our neighbor, permeating the whole life of the day and thus stultifying everything. This acerbity may lead to rancor and contempt for our neighbor, whom nevertheless we should love for God's sake.

Triumphalism is based on pride or fear. Trust is based on a loving relationship with the Father, which destroys both pride and fear.

I have written on the Illumination State and I have only met three people in my life who have reached this state. 

Here is Garrigou-Lagrange again, and look up the many posts on Providence and the Dark Nights posts.

In God's dealings with souls that abandon themselves to Him, much remains obscure, mysterious, disconcerting, impenetrable; but He makes it all contribute to their spiritual welfare, and some day they will see that what at times to them was the cause of profound desolation was the source of much joy to the angels.
Moreover, God enlightens the soul by means of this very darkness and just when He appears to blind it. When the things of sense, which once so charmed and fascinated us, are obliterated, then the grandeur of spiritual things begins to be seen. A fallen monarch, like Louis XVI after losing his throne, sees more clearly than ever before the sublimity of the Gospel and of the many graces he has received in the past. Formerly he scarcely gave them a thought, being too absorbed in the external splendors of his kingdom. And now it is the kingdom of heaven that is revealed to him.
An important law in the spiritual world is that the transcendent darkness of divine things is in a sense more illuminating than the obviousness of earthly things. We have an illustration of this in the sensible order. Surprising as the truth may at first appear, we see much farther in the darkness of the night than in the light of day. The sun, in fact, must first be hidden before we can see the stars and have a glimpse of the unfathomable depths of the sky. The spectacle presented to us on a starry night is sometimes incomparably more beautiful than anything to be seen on even the sunniest day. In the daytime, doubtless, our view may extend far over the surrounding country, and even to the sun itself, though its light takes eight minutes to reach us. But in the darkness of the night we see at a single glance thousands of stars, although the light from even the nearest requires four and a half years to reach us. From the spiritual point of view the same holds true: as the sun prevents our seeing the stars, so in human life there are things which by their glare obstruct our view of the splendors of the faith. It is fitting, then, that from time to time in our lives Providence should subdue this glare of inferior things so as to give us a glimpse of something far more precious for our soul and our salvation.

Mary is our model for such trust and humility. She is Queen of Heaven and Earth because she trusted in God, totally. 

more later....