I shall do a little mini-series on this excellent book. One of the things which Fr. Chautard emphasizes is that political actions and religious activity mean nothing if not backed up with prayer. The good priest reminds us that God created us to have a rich interior life, which leads to union with him.
Secum vivebat St. Gregory the Great said of Benedict--He lived with himself. By cultivating a relationship with God, we come to know ourselves and God. Living in the present moment with God means living with ourselves fully as well. This problem of running away from one's true self mars the growth of our own culture. What Father describes here is the focus of my life, and that of every true Catholic who has fallen in love with God.
To live with oneself, within oneself; to desire self-control, and not allow
oneself to be dominated by exterior things; to reduce the imagination, the feelings, and
even the intelligence and memory to the position of servants of the will and to make this
will conform, without ceasing, with the will of God: all this is a program that is less and
less welcome to a century of excitement that has seen the birth of a new ideal: the love of
action for action’s sake.
Any pretext will serve, if we can only escape this discipline of our faculties:
business, family problems, health, good reputation, patriotism, the honor of one’s
congregation, and the pretended glory of God, all vie with one another in preventing us
from living within ourselves. This sort of frenzy for exterior life finally succeeds in
gaining over us an attraction which we can no longer resist.
Over activity leads to self-deceit. One can think one is doing good deeds for God when in reality God has been set aside . Daily, I see in this country people hiding from God, letting themselves be distracted by things, people, action, action, action.
Frenzy is from Satan. Period. Novelty is from the Evil One. Distractions kill the life of the soul.
And, unless Americans think I am picking unduly on them, Father Chautard is only too aware of the heresy of Americanism, which includes an unhealthy preoccupation with good deeds and building a physical Kingdom of God, rather than a spiritual one.
Is there any reason to be surprised, then, that the interior life is neglected?
“Neglected” is putting it mildly. It is often enough despised and turned to ridicule by
the very people who ought to be the first to appreciate its advantages and its necessity.
This situation even called forth the celebrated letter of Leo XIII to Cardinal Gibbons,in protest against the disastrous consequences of an exclusive admiration for active
I feel today as if this good priest is speaking to me personally-with my desire to set up a place for the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.
Priests are so anxious to avoid the effort required to live an interior life that they
reach the point of overlooking the value of living with Christ, in Christ and through
Christ, and of forgetting that everything, in the plan of Redemption, is based on the
Eucharistic life as much as it is upon the rock of Peter. The unconscious preoccupation of
these partisans of a spirituality that is all noise and fanfare, is to thrust what is essential into the background. True, the Church has not yet become for them a Protestant chapel;
the Tabernacle is not yet empty. But in their eyes, the Eucharistic life can hardly be
adapted to the needs of modern civilization, still less can it suffice for its needs. The
interior life, which is a necessary consequence of the Eucharistic life, has had its day.
For the people steeped in these theories, and their number is legion, Holy
Communion has lost the true meaning which the early Christians were able to see in it.
They believe in the Eucharist, yes; but they no longer see in it something absolutely
necessary, both to their works and to themselves. We must not be astonished, then, that
since they have lost nearly all ability to converse intimately with Jesus in the Blessed
Sacrament, as with a friend, they have come to consider the interior life as a memory of
the Middle Ages.
So, as we are only too aware, the Church has come under attack, even by priests, who want to protestantize the Mass and all the sacraments, as well as uglify the churches in the name of progress. Contemplation is a lost art, a misplaced goal, in this country. And, to placate those who have ridicules the life of prayer in monasteries and convents in the past, too many Catholics have fallen into the false ideal which states that actions are more important than prayer.
Hard words follow....
Imperceptibly, a number of the faithful, and even of priests and religious, follow this cult
of action to the point of making it a kind of dogma which inspires their attitude and all
their actions, and leads them to throw themselves without restraint into a life of
extroversion. “The Church, the diocese, the parish, the congregation, the work has need
of me,” we can almost hear them say, “God finds me pretty useful.” And if no one dares
come right out with such a piece of stupidity, nevertheless there exists, deep down in the
heart, the presumption on which it is based and the lack of faith which fomented it.
I have written before that the worst thing which has happened has been the destruction of the quiet, prayerful home, centered around the heart of the home, the stay-at-home mum, would can pray and set up the discipline and schedule necessary for all in the family to become saints. The quiet, peaceful home is rare, as contemplation flees a house of chaotic, ceaseless action.
More later,...busybakson, and how ironic....