(Photo from Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. - God’s Excessive Love)
" “If you don’t behave as you believe you will end by believing as you behave.” – Venerable Fulton Sheen

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Musings - Which Kind of Soul Am I? - Part 2

(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
[In The Golden Key to Heaven – An Explanation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, St. Anthony Mary Claret discusses three distinct types of souls. Last week we looked at the first type (you can review that post here).  If you did not recognize yourself then, maybe what follows will be a more accurate description. This one might really smart - the Truth does that you know.]

The second class of men consists of those who have a true will to aspire to perfection, but it is not an all-inclusive, generous will…Let us return to the example of sick persons. Behold, my soul, another sick man very different from the first one. He desires to regain his health, and to achieve this he is ready to take medications and other remedies. But he is unwilling to take the iron or the caustic medications, or other similar disagreeable remedies. (He will take whatever medicine is prescribed, provided it does not taste bad.) Thus he, too, is unwilling to have all treatments that are necessary. What should be said of this sick man? It is true that he has a good will, but it lacks strength, whole-heartedness, and generosity.

A disposition resembling that of this sick man is that in which we find many spiritual people. They want to acquire perfection, and to obtain it they are ready to take some of the means, but not all. To bear up for many years with interior desolation and grave trials, to suffer humiliation and contempt without having given any occasion for it, and other things distasteful to corrupt nature, seems to these souls too great a burden for their shoulders. What should be said of these souls? One will say that they have some good will, but it is like that of the sick man unwilling to take all treatments that are necessary. What will follow for a will that holds back this way? Note this well, my soul and impress it well in your heart…Realize that:

A soul in this disposition will always lack consolation and peace – as it lacks holy indifference of will and complete, unreserved resignation to the Divine Will, the evil inclinations in it will never die. Pride and vainglory, caprice and attachment to one’s will and judgment, carelessness of speech, anger, melancholy, and harshness towards one’s neighbor will continue after many years of spiritual reading, mental prayer, frequenting of the Sacraments, and works of mercy. These faults will be as lively as when one began his pursuit of virtue. Rather, they will keep growing with the years and will develop like a sturdy tree which every year always gains more height and firmness. The burden of obedience to superiors will every day weigh more heavily on such a soul, and each experience of contempt will be harder to bear. One’s conversation will each time become less restrained, less controlled, and his treatment of his neighbor will become more discourteous and offensive. 

What peace, what consolation, could ever be found in a heart so ill disposed? One unmortified attachment is to a soul like a snake on a man’s body, who has rest when the serpent is asleep and does not bite or poison him; but the instant it wakes you, it bites and torments the unhappy man. This soul will not otherwise enjoy peace and quiet, except when its passions are not provoked. But if they are awakened, either by an offense done to him or some slight that he receives, or by a command that is not pleasing to him – oh, the storm, the torment he must suffer! Yet we are so blind that we do not see the source of our misery; and when we could easily discover it in our own heart, we turn everywhere else to try to find it.

This soul will go through life without making any progress in perfection – It is God Himself who thus explains the matter, and one may not expect Him to retract…”one…that doth not renounce all…cannot be My disciple.’ (Lk. 14:33). This means: One who does not renounce all creatures that capture the heart and does not completely abandon himself, without any reservations, to My Way of disposing matters, will never be able to attain to My Love nor become one with Me. And why? Listen to the reasons for this, my soul.

God is Infinite Authority. It is a matter for God’s choice to grant the particular graces that are necessary for reaching perfection. Now His established way is not to grant them to a soul that holds back and does not submit completely to His Majesty. Can God be criticized for this procedure?

God is Infinite Worthiness. To Him belongs the right that one’s whole heart be given Him with all its affections. It will never be possible for Him to surrender this right nor admit to union with Him a soul that fails to give itself to Him unreservedly.

Confession – This sick man is a vivid image of my soul, O Jesus. He wants to regain his health, but without labor, without taking unpleasant remedies. This is exactly the disposition of my soul. I would like to have perfect humility, but without bearing contempt; perfect obedience, but without painful commands; a perfect charity and meekness, but without undergoing ill treatment. That is, I want to be holy, but without suffering…Is not this to directly oppose the Will of the Heavenly Father, the doctrine and example of Jesus Christ, the designs and interior inspiration of the Holy Spirit?  Oh, what a fool I am! There has not been anyone before me nor will there be anyone afterwards, who became holy without suffering and without following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary to suffer, to die to self, to give up all useless, selfish pursuits, if one wants to acquire perfection. Yes, this is Thy doctrine, O my Jesus. This is the road that leads to holiness. And so, I wish to suffer with Thee, and to suffer even until all disorders disappear from my heart and all my perverse impulses have been mortified.







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