The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for the ‘Secret of Sanctity’ Category

The Secret of Sanctity: The Advantage of a Rule

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 9, 2009

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.

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The Secret of Sanctity (Introduction)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 8, 2009

Our great happiness as Christians is to posses, in this world, through grace and love, Him Who deigns to be our beatitude for all eternity; and our greatest misfortune, after sin, is not to know or to recognize this secret of eternal charity. God would have us holy even as He is holy; He would have us live His very life. It is for this end that He has given us His Divine Son, and with Him the infinite richesy of His heart; that is, His merits, His sacraments, His Church. Sanctity consists in believing and receiving these divine communications, of which Jesus Christ is the source, the instrument, and the end; consequently, it also consists in a uniting ourselves with Him by loving Him, and in modelling ourselves upon Him by imitating Him; it can and ought to pervade every life, the busiest as well as the simplest.
“I believe,” says Father de Caussade, “that if souls seriously aspiring to perfection understood this, and knew how to direct their path, they would be spared much difficulty. I say the same of souls living in the world, and of souls consecrated to God. If the first knew the means of merit afforded them by their ever-recurring daily duties and the ordinary actions of their state of life; if the second could persuade themselves that the foundation of sanctity lies in those very things which they consider unimportant and even foreign to them; if both could understand that the crosses sent by Providence which they constantly find in their state of life lead them to the highest perfection by a surer and shorter path than do extraordinary states or extraordinary works; and that the true philosopher’s stone is submission to the order of God, which changes into pure gold all their occupations, all their weariness, all their sufferings,-how happy they would be! What consolation and what courage they would gather from this thought, that to acquire the friendship of God and all the glory of heaven they have but to do what they are doing, suffer what they are suffering, and that what they lose and count as naught would suffice to obtain for them eminent sanctity!

“O my God, that I might be the missionary of Thy holy will, and teach the whole world that there is nothing so easy, so simple, so within the reach of all, as sanctity! Would that I could make them understand that just as the good and the bad theif had the same to do and the same to suffer to obtain their salvation, so two souls, one worldly and the other wholly interior and spiritual, have nothing more to do one than the other; that eh who sanctifies himself acquires eternal happiness by doing in submission to the will of God what he who is lost does through caprice; and that the latter is lost bu suffering unwillingly and impatiently what he who is saved endures with resignation. The difference, therefore, is only in the heart. O dear souls who read this, let me repeat to you: Sanctity will cost you no more; do what you are doing; suffer what you are suffering: it is only your heart that needs be changed. By the heart we mean the will. This change, then, consists in willing what comes to us by the order of God. Yes, holiness of heart is a simple fiat, a simple disposition of conformity to the will of God. And what is easier? For who could not love so adorable and merciful a will? Let us love it, then, and through this love alone all within us will become divine” (ABANDONMENT TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE).

But what will enable us to realize this ideal of a Christian and holy life? Prayer, or rather a spirit of confidence and faith which must pervade all our relations with God. I mean by this that disposition of the soul in which it recognizes that God loves it, that He cares for it, and that He desires in all things only the greater good of His little creature.

He who possesses the secret of this blessed science has the secret of a good life, of true strength, and of perfect happiness. “He lives well who prays well,” says St Augustine.

Prayer, thus understood, should not be either a rare or a difficult exercise; for God is our Father, He is our end, He is the indulgent, merciful, untiring Benefactor of our exile; His relations with us are ever present and always infinitely kind. How is it possible that a means by which we correspond to all that He is, and to all that He does for us, should be a difficult exercise? Important and necessary, yes, but difficult, no. I should even say that the more necessary prayer is the more frequent and easy it should be. Providence, in fact, has ordained that the more necessary a thing is the more attainable it is. See, for example, air, water, bread, the sustenance of corporal life. Water, the matter of the sacrament which communicates spiritual life; bread and wine, the matter of the sacrament which sustains and increases this life of grace. All these elements, being necessary, are very easily procured. But is not God still more within our reach? “There is nothing,” says St Bernard, “of which God is so prodigal as of Himself.” Therefore, prayer which gives Him to us, prayer which makes us live in Him, with Him, and by Him, should not be difficult, but easy. We must be convinced of this, and bring to the exercise of this duty the good-will which makes God’s gifts bear fruit in us. It is to aid this good-ill that we purpose to collect the safest rules given by the saints for performing well this double prayer of the heart and of acts.
This is the first post of a series from a public domain text entitled THE SECRET OF SANCTITY. It is my intention to post on this subject at least once a week. You will be able to access these posts by clicking on “Secrets of Sanctity” in the link field below this blogs header.

Posted in Devotional Resources, Quotes, Secret of Sanctity, St Francis de Sales | Leave a Comment »

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