This is my second post of a public domain text entitled THE SECRET OF SANCTITY, which is a collection of teaching, advice and maxims on the spiritual life taken from the writings of several famous saints and spiritual directors. I believe the following excerpt is from Father Crasset’s CONSIDERATIONS CHRETIENNES. I suspect it was originally direct towards non-cloistered religious and to parish priests. Some of what is said here is obviously not practical for modern people in a modern world; for example, the insistence on regulating the time of one’s meals and (even more difficult today) one’s work. The importance of establishing order into your life so as to make time for prayer does, however, remain, and so the teaching found here remains valid, even if some of the suggestions do not.
Of the Blessing of a Life marked by Order.-Order and virtue are almost synonymous terms. Order is the guide of virtue, and virtue is the guide of order. Whatever good you do, if you do it not in order, you do it not well. Reason requires sometimes that we depart from the order we have prescribed; only to follow, however, a more perfect order required by necessity, charity, infirmity, or obedience. Inclination is the guide of beasts; reason of man; the Gospel of Christians; the rule of Religious; order of all creatures. Which will you chose? It is order that makes paradise, and disorder which makes hell. If your life is marked by order, you will be happy; if your life is one of disorder, you will be miserable. Who may live in peace, making war against God? And who makes war against Him if not he who disturbs order?
Were you at peace when your life was one of disorder? Is not a soldier who leaves his post punished at once by his captain? All that disturbs order disturbs peace, and he who is not at peace with God will never be at peace with himself. Seek the cause of your troubles.
Order assigns each thing its place; it preserves to all creatures their rank, their office, their employment; and this it is which constitutes the beauty, the perfection, the peace, and the happiness of all creatures. What is an army without order but a troop of victims led to death? What is a kingdom without order but a horde of brigands living by murder and rapine? What is religion without order but a body without a soul, all the parts of which are divided and detached? What is man without order but a chaos of passion waging mortal warfare and creating absolute confusion?
If the Church is an army, it is order which places it in battle-array; if the Church is a ship, order is its pilot and guide; if the Church is a body, it is order which constitutes its life; if the Church is a kingdom, by order is it governed. The same may be said of religion.
Order is the creator, so to speak, of the world; this it is which preserves and repairs it. From order do we proceed, by order are we maintained, through order do we live. All that God does is marked by order, and all that bears not this mark of order is not of God. Order leads us to God. We cannot go to a contrary by its contrary. God is order by essence; never will disorder lead us to God.
Reflection.-Is your state one of order? Is order your rule? Are your actions regulated? Do you do each thing in its appointed time? Are you not guided by inclination and caprice? Is your will sufficiently upright to serve as a rule or guide? If so, your sanctity equals that of God; for He alone can take his will as His guide and rule. No what is more ill-regulated than yours? What merit would you have in doing what you please? You serve God only by your actions, and if your actions are not marked by order how can they be pleasing to God?
Practice.-Prescribe a certain order for your day and let nothing disturb it short of a command of a superior to forego or interrupt it. Regulate the time for your meals, for your work, and for your recreation. Order is the law of heaven; begin therefore here on earth a life which you will continue throughout eternity, a life which will be more pleasing to God, more convenient for those about you, and more profitable for your salvation. God dwells in order and peace; the Evil One in trouble and discord. Which would you resemble?
False Maxims Destroyed.-There is no doubt that one must abandon a prescribed order to follow the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; but how do you know that your impulse is a movement of grace and not of nature; of the Spirit of God and not of the spirit of evil? The Holy Spirit is a spirit of order that inspires in souls submission and dependence. He withdraws men from the servitude of their passions, but not from the obedience they owe to the law. When rules are not binding, He would have us follow them without being bound thereby; when they are of precept, He would have us observe them without dispensing ourselves therefrom. The unction of divine grace does not make us reject the yoke of God’s law, but helps us to bear it.
Happy he who abandons himself to the guidance of God and does nothing but by His orders, who constantly studies His will, who holds himself ever ready at the least sign to go forward, to pause, to watch, or to rest.