Friday, February 24, 2012

The Essence of Self-Denial

Magnificat’s Mediation of the Day

God instructs the heart not by means of ideas, but by pains and contradiction. The science of this state is a practical knowledge by which one tastes God as the sole good. In order to possess it, we have to be disentangled from all particular goods, and to reach that state of disentanglement we have to be really deprived of them. Thus, it is only through a continual self-contradiction and a long series of all kinds of mortifications, trials, and strippings that one can be established in the state of pure love. We have to arrive at the point at which the whole created universe no longer exists for us, and God is everything.

For that purpose it is necessary that God should oppose himself to all the particular affections of the soul, so that when it is led to some particular form of prayer or idea of piety or method of devotion, when it proposes to attain perfection by such and such plans or ways or by the direction of such and such people, in fact, when it attaches itself to anything whatever, God upsets its ideas and permits that instead of what it thought it would do, it finds in it all nothing but confusion, trouble, emptiness, folly. No sooner has it said, that is my path, there is the person I ought to consult, that is how I should act, then God immediately says the contrary and withdraws his power from the means chosen by the soul.

So, finding in everything only deception and nothingness, the soul is constrained to have recourse to God himself and be content with him.

-Father de Caussade (1751) was a French Jesuit priest, a writer, and revered spiritual director.