Tuesday, January 27, 2015

He who suffers in us . . .

Real meditation on the passion always becomes suffering with Christ, Caryll Houselander tells us.  To draw close to the suffering Christ is never easy; nor is it without real sorrow and pain.  We are all "other Christs" - but not all know it and in this life of ours we shall act in different parts as all those who entered into his first passion did.  Some find comfort in the knowledge that they are one with Him and can face every onslaught, knowing that he who is in them has overcome the world.  Others will grasp the even harder truth that whatever we do now, we did to Christ in his passion.  All things are present to him and in Gethsemane he saw our world now, feared with our fear and the angel who brought the chalice brought all that any of us would do to comfort him.  We do this when we recognize him in our suffering but especially when we serve and love him in our neighbor.  

It is never easy to meditate on the passion; the more we know of real sorrow and real pain, the more we see of suffering, the more difficult it becomes to think about the pain and sorrow of Christ.

Indeed, it becomes impossible, because once we know inwardly, with our hearts, not only our minds, how real Christ is - and what suffering is - we can no longer bear to have beautiful thoughts about the suffering Christ.  The mind becomes bleak, we begin to suffer with him - and that is what real meditation on the passion always becomes, suffering with him.

It is more than that, it is actually Christ suffering in us.  We are united to him, we are one, and it is when his passion becomes real to us, through experience and love, that we grow aware of his presence in us.  But for this presence of Christ, his living in us, his actually being our life, we could not bear the things which have actually happened to some, indeed to many, and which are more than a threat to everyone.  We can bear them for one reason only, because Christ, Who is identified with us, Who is in us, has already suffered and overcome everything that we shall suffer, or ever can suffer.

We cannot shed a tear, but that tear has already blinded the eyes of Christ.  We cannot be without tears, but that constriction of the heart has constricted his Heart.  He has known all and every kind of fear that we know, and there is no possible loneliness, no agony of separation, but it is Christ's; indeed, not one of us can die, but it is Christ dying.  And Christ, Who faces all these things in our lives, has overcome them all and has sanctified them by his limitless love.  His love made every moment of his passion redeeming and healing and life-giving, and this love, this Chirst-love, is ours, just as much as his suffering is.

We are now beginning in very earnest to experience the contemplation which consists in suffering with Christ, and the way to sanctify it is not so much to offer with him as to ask him to let us realize that he it is Who suffers in us.  For, this understood, we cannot help abandoning our will to his completely, and letting him suffer in us in his way, and his way is the way of love.  Complete though it is, in his grief there is no bitterness; and what seems to be frustration and waste is not, it is fruitful; this is because every moment of his passion is informed by love.

Our work is to love too, to love always, to love everyone, and to love to the end.

The words spoken by Our Lord on the cross reveal far more that we can hope to grasp; they are in themselves enough to show us how to live through his experience of his passion . . .  .That is the only excuse for tearing the mind away from its direct, unthinking acceptance of our present suffering, to consider some of Christ words on the cross, one by one.

Caryll Houselander

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

As lambs in Him

Many times you are hard pressed by the realities of life, but that pressure is meant to supple your souls for Love.  You are already enclosed in that Love having only to come to see it in the very things that are fearful and the hardships that weigh heavily upon you.

Jesus, Lamb of God, comes down to enter our sheepfold - the Lamb of sacrifice - and in His entering He makes all our sacrifice sacrificial, redemptive, pure as His own.  We no longer stumble through life as beasts, we live, as lambs in Him.  And as well as Lamb, He is Shepherd, enclosing us in the sweet warmth of the Father's Home, which is not only "in heaven" but here because of Jesus . . .  .

Sr. Wendy Beckett

Monday, January 12, 2015

O the dignity of the state of the Christian

Dear Daughters of St Philip Neri, 

Dom Mark Kirby posted a magnificent reflection today entitled,  "Are you a Victim?"  I would encourage you to read it in its entirety and simply offer you a brief selection here from one of our favorite resources, thanks to Dom Mark's translation work, Mother Catherine Mectilde de Bar.  The depth and beauty of her expression of the mystery of our unity with and shared victimhood with Christ in His immolation is incomparable.  It is Christ's desire, she tells us, that we make up for what is "lacking" in his sacrifice and this desire is fulfilled through being offered with with Christ at the altar: "The priest holds you mystically in his hands and, in this manner, you are in the host."  It is this state of victimhood that we enter into and are bound by virtue of our baptism and we are renewed and strengthened in it (being clothed in Christ's "adorable dispositions") at the Holy Altar.

Writing in the 17th century, Catherine–Mectilde de Bar gave luminous expression to the victimal quality of the Christian life. Mother Mectilde presents victimhood in relationship to Baptism. One united to Christ by Baptism enters into the mystery of His immolation, becoming with Him a single victim made over to the Father.
Regarding the sacrifice of the altar, you know that it is the memorial of [the sacrifice of] the cross and a continuation of this most adorable sacrifice . . . no longer bloody, but remaining efficacious.  You were not present on Calvary to consent to your crucifixion; Our Lord, therefore, wants you to consent to that of the altar in order to accomplish what was lacking to His Passion, in such wise that, as His member, you are offered to the Father with Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ. The priest holds you mystically in his hands and, in this manner, you are in the Host.
O the dignity of the state of the Christian: to be made one thing with Jesus Christ, to be crucified with Him and to be immolated every day upon the altar with Him!
This is the vocation of all Christians chosen to have the honour of the divine character which makes them children of God and consorts of Jesus Christ. They are destined, consequently, to possess the treasures of His grace, remaining united to Him not only as children of God, but as His members, forming but one body with Jesus Christ and, thus, one single host and victim, clothed in His adorable dispositions.
I invite you to double again your fidelities so as to make yourselves true victims; this is not a new quality. It is a title that Jesus Christ impressed upon us at Baptism, with the obligation of making it efficacious. (Letter to the community of Paris quoted in J. Daoust, Catherine de Bar, Mère Mectilde du Saint–Sacrement, Téqui, Paris 1979, pp. 57–58)
This [vow of victimhood] is not, properly speaking, a particular vow. By Baptism every Christian becomes a victim unto God, and this by virtue of relationship and union with Jesus Christ. The members are united to the Head and enlivened by Him, the divine Saviour, the victim of His divine Father. Christians, being members united to Him, cannot dispense themselves from entering into this state of victimhood. (Le véritable esprit quoted in J. Daoust, p. 58)

Throughout the remainder of the reflection Dom Mark clarifies how we understand the term "victimhood" in order that we might not simply fall into a pious sentimentalism but rather think with the mind of the Church and allow it to be a true articulation of her liturgical life and always seen as untied to Christ's self offering to the Father. 

Dom Mark, we thank you for your labors through which we have so often been nourished!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

You can't afford to having anything but Jesus

Sometimes the failures or lack of success we have can be arranged providentially by God in order that we might give Him the pure love He desires from our hearts.  At the heart of this for us is trust, the true means by which we come to know God.  In this trust, we give ourselves over fully to the day's activities, knowing however that they aren't ends in themselves and don't really matter.  What matters is our surrender to Jesus in them so that we are able to impress upon others the sheer beauty of God simply by being ourselves.  What becomes most valuable to us then in the end are the failures and poverty that drive us to Christ like nothing else.  They become His gifts to us. . . .

I know you are truly trying to receive Jesus in His sure fullness and let Him shine out in what seem drudgery and unsuccess.  Maybe He has arranged everything about you so that you can give Him the pure love He has craved for so long.  The basic is trust, love.  Trust isn't the cherry on top, it's the whole cake!  We don't love Him without it, because that means that we do not know Him.  From the knowledge of what God is, trust flowers of its own accord.  Dear daughter, when we say: "I can't do it, I can't live up to it - what is the "it"?  The "it" of our lives is to let Him love us and love others through us.  That involves full attention on all the day's activities, but in themselves they don't matter.  He could get all these ends fulfilled in other ways.  But the receiving of His joy, the statement in a life of surrender of what Jesus is: only each individual can do that.  You are meant by God to do nothing else - proclaiming His goodness in your being, unable not to press on all you meet the sheer beauty of God, just in being yourself.  Your vocation, love: and it means you can't afford to have anything but Jesus.  Any willed wanting of other things limits your capacity for Him - but the unwilled, that is a sign of one's failure and poverty, the sharp pain of which drives us to Him as nothing else.  To me contrition and shame are the surest signs of His presence.  They set us free if we use them.  What precious gifts He gives my daughter . . . 

Sr. Wendy Beckett

Friday, January 9, 2015

He must increase

Too often we live in some distant and imagined place and imagined fulness rather than in the reality of God who wants to give Himself to us now.  We remain in a constant state of preparation because we fear to truly open our hearts to receive the self-less and self-emptying love of Jesus.  We remain held in the grip of our doubts, our anxiety or our sins until we want that love of Christ enough and all that it means.

About the future: you should know that God shows me nothing specific, only that the future is pure love, is himself . . .  . But what comes home to me very strongly is that now is the future; no link in the chain is subordinated to another.  All God wants is to give himself now, and it is this moment that makes the total gift still to come possible, or not.  I think we can lose momentum by unconsciously regarding his great designs of love as being somehow "in preparation," and they are not: in Jesus they have come.  And they have come, most surely, for you . . .  .

Turn your mind, often and eagerly, to the way God gives himself to everybody.  All are infinitely dear to him, really dear, worth dying for . . .  .

The heart of Jesus broke because he could not bring all his brethren into his Father's house; he was not himself, not fully and wholly Jesus, until he had made that homecoming possible.  Open your heart . . . to receive from the Spirit this glad, agonizing, self-forgetful love of Jesus.  Then one day you will turn round and find your own imprisoned self has vanished and there is only God's love keeping you alive.  He gives it when we want it enough, and all it means.

Sr. Wendy Beckett

Thursday, January 8, 2015

His day now

With great delicacy but also with a holy firmness, Sr. Wendy seeks to lift up her dear friend and challenge her to live in the Love to whom she is so committed.  Sr. Wendy pleas with her ("Love, is there nothing consoling anywhere?"), because she was inclined, as we often are, to focus on the dark side of her difficult situation.  The good Sister's advice is solid enough: Give the day away in advance to Jesus so that all the hard things may receive His imprint.  

Sr. Wendy also addresses the common experience of feeling that we don't speak the same language as others and so are alone or work at cross purposes.  While not diminishing the strain of this, Sr. Wendy challenges her friend and us to step out of ourselves, trusting that Christ, the Word, will provide the grace to speak to one another's hearts in pure love and reverence.  We must not become a barrier to the communication of either His love or joy.

Your poor suffering letter has just come, but of course I've been very aware of the weight of loneliness and misery that Jesus has laid upon you.  But that's it, isn't it?  Jesus lays the weight, and Jesus carries it, never mind whether you feel His support or no.  You know, and you know too that He chose you very deliberately to do this holy work of His and be his joyful presence in the cold north.  My heart aches for you, but my deepest heart rejoices.  I know that awakening dread, and still find no better way to cope with it than I did as a child, and that is to give my day away in advance to Jesus.  His day now, I specifically renounce anything for me in it.  Then everything - sunlight, a smile, a hot drink - is sheer bonus, and all the hard things, being His already by gift, are free to receive His imprint.  I know too that dreadful sense of not speaking the same language, but am sure this is not "meant" by Jesus.  One of His own names is Word, and if they do not speak my language then, somehow, I must speak theirs.  This is often easier in one-to-one encounters, so I hope you can manage to meet, in pure love and reverence . . . and let Jesus break through the communication barrier.  How can they receive His joy from you unless they become aware of it?  O, my dear, how I pray for this!

Love, is there nothing consoling anywhere?

Sr. Wendy Beckett

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

To make you His heaven

The path of one who says "Yes" to God's call to offer Him everything, to have Him as one's only reality, to be His "Heaven," leaves one defenseless.  It is to become a lamb; but, as Sr. Wendy writes, "not any lamb, but the Lamb of God who bears the weight of the world's sin."  To give yourself over to Him is not to experience a worldly joy.  The reality is very different - He does become life to us, it really happens.  But how is another matter.  Whatever means helps you to surrender to Him the most is best.  Whether you like it or want it is not of paramount importance.  You bear the world's suffering and because you do so with Him you will become a source of joy and hope for others.      

You have never sent me a lovelier card: all urgency, as you say, yet what freedom and space and beauty.  The only snag is that my heart is wrenched by your words inside it.  However, it is a holy wrench, because I know it is not so much as me as "me" you are missing; it is heaven.  For His own mysterious reason, God has made me a test case - in fact, a show case, of His love.  Though pure gift, He makes me heaven, in that He is heaven and He is the only reality I have: and when we are together, you feel in your own land.  My sweet, you are always there - I just make it evident to you.  Whatever He did in those weeks, that at least I can see as His prime object: to make you His heaven at an even greater depth.  And somehow that is bound up with being a lamb: a small defenseless creature that goes merely and innocently to the slaughter of life.   Not any lamb, though: Lamb of God, who bears the weight of the world's sin.  Not feeling the joy of Jesus is part, for you, here and now of that bearing.  It makes no difference, as long as you live in the joy as the lamb does in the sun and springtime grass. 

Ever since I was told of your situation, I've been held in a vise of prayer, seeking to discern what Jesus wants.  He wants you, that is all I can see, and if this struggle is the means that best surrenders you to Him, then I can't but urge you on to the total "Yes" that is His own.  You offered Him a blank-cheque, a gesture of love: He has filled it in and made the gesture "real".  Dearest lamb, whether you like it or want it doesn't matter, does it?  What does Jesus want?  Clearly this, because if there were some other way of leading you deeper into joy, He would have chosen it.  So that my first reaction: with an ache in my heart I give you wholly to all that this situation means, because this is pure Love and we trust Him.  But apart from being His way of taking possession of you, of becoming every more your joy, I truly believe He wants something for others, directly.  Despite all that has been said, I'm sure you could do much in your house to show what it means to love God.  I've every trust that you will be a living presence of Jesus' joy in what has been severely diminished to worldly eyes.

Sr. Wendy Beckett

Monday, January 5, 2015

All yours if you want Him . . .

This is a very challenging letter of Sr. Wendy to a dear friend who is carrying a heavy cross.  Sr. Wendy does not romanticize suffering or hold out a kind of false optimism about personal trials.  Sometimes there is only the darkness that Jesus experienced in the garden and on Calvary and like Him we must stretch out our hands to the Father and say "Yes" to His will despite the cost of doing so.

Your beautiful, generous letter is pure balm to the aching desire of Jesus.  You make it possible for Him to give you to the Father in Himself.  What has happened is a paradigm of Love's action, isn't it. Our fears come true, and we hold out our welcoming arms to them, "because we know the Father!"

I have an optimistic heart in general, but feel we must base our giving on darkness.  I surrender, fully aware it may be worse than I think, but knowing, if so, that is where Jesus is . . . I shall be holding you steadily in Him.

I am careful to qualify my optimism by adding "in general".  In this case I do not, in fact, feel much optimism, but that is an irrelevance.  Jesus felt no optimism at all: "His chalice" was how He saw it from the first, but having seen that it was indeed His Father's will, He stopped all reflection of His own hopeless misery.  He simply held out both hands - pierced hands - and took the chalice with steadfast love.  I can't overemphasize how much I think this matters for you, my darling.  Not only because we can chip away at our own "Yes" if we let ourselves think of the horror of it all, but also because "we" can't do it.  Only Jesus can do it, and for this He must have our total trust.  It all becomes still and martyred if we can't smile in our will and believe He is all Love  . . .  .

As Hebrews says, it is man He has chosen not angels: poor, filthy man, for whom Jesus pours out His heart in love.  Think only of Him and His Love.  Bind yourself to it.  Promise Him only loving thoughts: His thoughts.  Keep all other insights in reserve until His Love can show you from within what in these is true or false.  This is a very costly surrender, but now you must jettison all confidence in your own wisdom and cling, naked, to the Crucified and Risen Jesus.  All yours if you want Him . . . 

Sr. Wendy Beckett

Sunday, January 4, 2015

What is love asking of you?

Dear Daughters,

What more can we desire than to be offered to the Father by the pierced hands of the Beloved.  It is in our suffering, disappointments, betrayals that our generosity unfolds beautifully.  The one thing Jesus desires is the one thing, however, that we so often withhold from Him.  The world cannot see this and neither can we until we are wholly living in Jesus.

 "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him . . . "  My poor love, everything he does must be lovely to us, and especially when we do not see it as lovely.  Here is your great opportunity to live out your real trust, sinking back into the loving pierced hands of Jesus and letting Him offer you with Him to the Father.  Not to understand, not to desire, not to feel resigned or happy or anything but outraged and somehow betrayed: what scope for love at last to take over!  Please don't think I feel anything but the deepest compassion for you, but I do know that much will depend for you on how total your generosity is in responding.

What is love asking of you?  I don't know, but something He is not getting.  Remember, my dearest, that only Jesus sees us as we are.  So only when we are wholly in Jesus, seeing through His eyes, loving with His heart, judging with His mind, can we see another truly.  No person exists for us "out there" - only "in here", and if my inner heart fears or repels them, then distortedly.  But the Heart of Jesus accepts them wholly as they are . . .  .

Sister Wendy Beckett

Saturday, January 3, 2015

What are a few drops of water?

At the Offertory of the Holy Mass, the priest first puts wine in the chalice.  Then he has to add a few drops of water.  Thus, our Lord's role and ours are symbolized, together with the proportional value of His action and ours.  The wine alone would suffice for the licitness of the Consecration.  Nevertheless, the drops of water must be added, and by the effect of the Divine words of Consecration, they are changed, as well as the wine, into the Precious Blood.

Granted, our part in the Redemption of the world is infinitesimally small; what are a few drops of water?  But God requires it and He transubstantiates this tiny addition by uniting it with His own offering.  This mere nothing becomes all-powerful, in virtue of the power communicated to it by God.  Thanks to this "nothing" which has become "something," souls will be ransomed.  Without the offering of this "nothing" - so intrinsically insignificant and yet so really precious, on account of our union with Christ - many souls would probably be lost.  

The world needs all its potential saviors: it needs Jesus, its chief Savior, it Savior par excellence; it needs each one of us, who are called to co-operate with Him in the redemption of the world.  As Lacordaire says: "The human race had perished as a whole, by men's solidarity, that is to say by its corporeal and moral union with Adam its origin.  Hence, it was fitting that humanity should be saved in the measure and manner of its loss, that is by the means of solidarity.  Where the solidarity of evil had lost all, by the solidarity of good, all has been re-established."

We are almost ignorant of our greatness as Christians, if we do not know our obligation of sharing in the work of Redemption.  If we try to shirk our part, we are omitting a most noble as well as a most peremptory, duty.

The Ideal of Reparation
Raoul Plus, S.J.

In that deathly closeness


Although somewhat cryptic in its statements, this passage from Sr. Wendy's letters is talking about life in the embrace of the Spirit.  Insofar as it lacks tangible or sensible assurances, it has the appearance of "death".  But, to the contrary, this "death" is "life" for us.  Will you let the crucified one take you in His embrace and come to you as He chooses; even and especially in the humiliation and pain of life's bewilderments? 

In every other sphere, the sound of what we hear ourselves say and know ourselves think can deceive us: only with God are we absolute in our bare choice.  We can have of Him exactly as much as we want - and we know what we want from what we in fact have.  A terrifying demand: no wonder people fear the inescapable closeness of prayer.  Yet in that deathly closeness is the only Life, Way, and Truth.

Remember that Jesus has been through the whole gamut: dread, and then dreadful reality, right under the bitter waters.  But He came out the other side, crying "Consummatum" and my prayer is for Him to cry that out in you.

Whatever life may feel like, this is, in literal truth, its purpose: He can only come to us in time and through our unidealized circumstances . . . all "corruptible things" though they are.  So I think it's a grace that you see your corruption, both the inescapable without and the somehow secretly, though unwillingly, willed within.  Daughter, so much hangs upon your lettering Jesus come to you as He chooses, and your responding to Him in this painful and demanding reality.

The Lord never "makes demands", never, never.  All He says is: Let me bear it, let me take the pressure.  Or rather, He tells us He has taken the pressure - and let it kill Him, and it was that death that gave Him wholly to His Father, and us in Him.  All the anxious side of things is over, Daughter.  We have conquered, in Jesus.  So bear the humiliation and pain of life's bewilderments gladly, in His gladness: "Now is the Father glorified."

When Jesus is all to us, in the Spirit, it means in practice we have nothing tangible or sensible: death.  But this is life.
Sr. Wendy Beckett

deeply human utterly divine


While the wounds of sin permeate the whole of life, society and relationships, it is precisely in this woundedness that we perceive the call of God.  It is in the yearning and discontent of the human heart that we discover most truly that we are made for union with the divine.  When we begin to acknowledge this truth, the anxiety that so often plagues our experience of life begins to be transformed.  It becomes the door to divine intimacy.  Our vocation therefore is deeply human and utterly divine.  It is profoundly related to earth and to heaven, denying neither and embracing both.  It is based on a single Person, yet demands the conscious, free, and continuous participation of each individual as he or she grows in humanity and adopted divinity.

In genuine faith - which must, of course, be worked for - and in that surrender of self which is faith in act, we begin to discern that, far from our helplessness being a human misfortune, something that ought not to be, it signals a limitless calling and is the other side of a vocation that goes behind what can be perceived by mind and sense.  To accept it is to assent to our vocation, to becoming who we truly are, to being truly human.  We are made for union with the divine, nothing less.  We are called to share the life of God.  Our restlessness, our insatiable longings, our discontent and experience of helplessness are to be traced to our divine destiny.  Commitment in faith to this truth is to destroy existential anxiety.

Faith alone can overcome the world and the threat the world imposes.  It does not follow that we lose the feeling of anxiety and fear - we would be the poorer for that - but these now play a role that is creative, not destructive.  Fear can cripple, paralyze, prompt us to shirk and evade life.  Faith enables us to live with reality, braving its challenge.
Sister Ruth Burrows, O.C.D.

Bring them to me . . .

“I should so love You to be happy in my heart.”
“Your desire in itself is a call that pleases Me and gives Me great honor. You make amends for yourself and you make amends for the ingratitude of so many others. Do they think of Me with a little affection even once a year? Do they accept the thought of My love for each one of them? When will they realize that time—the span of earthly life—is too short, that I need all eternity to love them? That this present life of theirs is not their goal, but only a means given to them to earn the other life?

“Pray for them. You can do a great deal without seeing the fruit. But I see; I hear. I see that in helping others to arise, you rise yourself. Do you believe Me? Come to Me and bring others with you. I know how to talk to them all—to the ashamed and the timid as well as to the rebellious and the proud. Didn’t I say to Saul, ‘It’s hard for you kicking against the goad’? And immediately he surrendered his will and asked, ‘What must I do?’

“Oh, My child, what power there is in My gentleness and in the tenderness of My voice! You know a little about this, don’t you? Imitate Me as much as you are able. If you could only bring all the people around you to Me! Try to tell them that I love them and how much I love them. My love is so vehement that I’ll forgive them everything from the moment they repent. Bring them to Me and I’ll enfold you with them.”

Excerpt From: Gabrielle Bossis. “He and I.”

In his "weakness" we are real


Being separated from our illusions is painful, especially our religious illusions.  We cling to a notion of spiritual perfection shaped by human wisdom and driven by the ego.  Only the cross - the reality of suffering Love - can lead us to surrender our grip upon that illusion; can help us understand that our limitations (physical, mental and spiritual) are vehicles of grace.  
Without this understanding, we will never love the Church completely. We must love the disfigured and suffering Christ within it, never shrinking from the task of love. More importantly, we must allow Jesus to give Himself to us through the woundedness of the Body and never simply in spite of it.

Everything in your life he has designed to free you of self and expand your heart to enter into his limitless Love.  The things that seem most to be an obstacle to this are usually what most deeply frees and opens out - if we surrender deeply enough . . .

People look in the wrong direction for holiness.  Subconsciously they are expecting transformation in Jesus to mean that they cease to be themselves: they become "perfect."  But if we think holiness is "perfections" we have never understood the human reality of Jesus.  In his "weakness" we are real.  And just as his Love doesn't transform our physical limitations, so neither does it our psychic: the stupid remain stupid and the emotionally unstable retain their personal affliction.  But now it is "different" - it is a vehicle of grace . . .
All that we are is potential entrance for his Love, but it humbles us to admit it!  Here is the great actual divide between what people really believe and what they think they believe

Loving the Church:

Remember always that the Spirit of Jesus found only one perfect expression, and that was Jesus himself.  And following comes his dear pure Mother, as proof of what Jesus will do in a surrendered heart.  Only He could receive the Spirit wholly from the Father, but Mary and the saints are in their degree wholly given.  But only these wholly given ones can show forth anything at all of the Spirit.  Think of the Church, which Jesus loves, which is himself, in a mystical sense, and think of the vile shameful things in her history, and of the bitter tears we still shed over her image and actions today - the complacency, materialism, lovelessness - the sheer non-Jesus face she shows the world and drives away from Him, the honest but ignorant.  Ah, but it is still his beloved Body, and to reject her would be to reject the disfigured, suffering Christ.  Daughter, just as love of Jesus means love of his poor, faithless Church, she can only be made faithful to the extent that His lovers are a force within her. Never say or think you are alien to her; what you are alien to is the dead and crippling elements that disfigure her and conceal with their spittle the lovely Face of Jesus.  It is what is not authentic you shrink from, what is false and contradictory to her.  I can't bear to hear you think it is the Church "in se" you don't want, but in this life, as Jesus knew in His blood, the image must be continually cleansed.  You, and how many more among you, though never fully, and it is for those who share your love and vision to keep it from obscurity.  But you can't do this alone - hence the vital importance of community.  And finding those who think the same and can support each other is your present task.  O Daughter, once again I feel how badly I've put all this, and can only rely on that inward echo of yours that "hears" what He is saying, however blurred the human instrument . . .  .

A Deeper Sense of Your Vocation: 

How Christ yearns that all things should be "consummated", handed over to the Father, the work of the Spirit of Love achieved.  If we only let Him, with all that it terribly implies, He can't but "do" it.  And this applies very specially to the community situation.  Lie, pure and open-eyed, in His wounded Hands, even if you "see" only darkness.  He sees.  He will do it through your very blindness if your eye is pure and attentive.

If I were asked to say what you need, it would be a deeper sense of your vocation.  There is a whole area of mystery unexplored yet in your life.  You have come so far along the path of love, but still too much in propria persona - if you follow me?  You are accepting the pain of the spiritual life, and struggling to give God its sacrifices, but you don't fully see the "abundance" side.

What I am trying to say is that to belong to the Church has a sacramental efficacy.  Something of your passionate concern for Jesus, for others to know and love Him, for His sweetness and sheer goodness to be bread and drink for us all: something of this is yours by right of membership - a vine-and-branch mystery, if you let it be so.  But you haven't fully surrendered here.  Not a thing Jesus blames you for, dear one, but a real area where He is waiting to give Himself through the Body and never "in spite of", which is what you are sometimes tempted to think!

Sr. Wendy Beckett

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Life of Reparation


To complete what we have said about union with God in the perfect, we should deal at least briefly with the life of reparation, which, through prayer and suffering, is an apostolate, willed by God to render abundantly fruitful the doctrinal apostolate by preaching.
Our Lord saved the world even more by His heroic love on the cross than by His sermons. His words gave us light, pointed out to us the way to follow; His death on the cross obtained for us the grace to follow this way.

Mary, who merited the title of Coredemptrix and that of universal Mediatrix, is the model of reparatory souls through her sufferings at the foot of the cross. By them she merited congruously for us, or by a merit of propriety based on charity, all that the Word made flesh merited for us in strict justice. His Holiness Pius X (1) approved this common teaching of theologians, and Pope Benedict XV ratified her title of Coredemptrix, saying that "Mary, in union with Christ, redeemed the human race." (2) Thus Mary became the spiritual mother of all men.

More recently, in the encyclical Miseremissimus Redemptor, His Holiness Pius XI reminded the faithful of the necessity of reparation, exhorting them to unite the oblation of all their vexations and sufferings to the oblation ever living in the heart of our Lord, the principal Priest of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

In the Mass, the immolation of Jesus is no longer bloody and painful as on the cross, but the painful immolation ought to continue in the mystical body of the Savior and will continue until the end of the world. While progressively incorporating into Himself the faithful whom He vivifies, Jesus, in fact, reproduces in them something of His life as a child, of His hidden, His public, and His sorrowful life, before making them share in His glorious life in heaven. By so doing He enables them to work, to cooperate with Him, through Him, and in Him, for the salvation of souls by the same means as He used. In this sense St. Paul wrote: "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church." (3) Nothing is wanting in the sufferings of Christ in themselves. They have an infinite and superabundant value by reason of the personality of the Word of God made man; but something is lacking in their radiation in us.


The priest in particular should be "another Christ." Jesus is Priest and Victim. The priest cannot wish to participate in the priesthood of Christ without sharing in some way in His state as victim, in the measure willed for him by Providence. When the priest ascends the altar, he bears on the front and back of his chasuble a cross which recalls our Savior's.
Great bishops who, in times of persecution, gave their lives for their flocks thus understood it. A similar idea of the priesthood distinguishes priest saints, like St. Bernard, St. Dominic, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Philip Neri, and nearer our own day the Cure of Ars, who, while offering the body and precious blood of our Lord, offered all his sufferings for the faithful who came to him.

Likewise too, the friend of the Cure of Ars, Venerable Father Chevrier of Lyons, used to say in substance to the priests whom he trained: "The priest should be another Christ. Thinking of the crib, he should be humble and poor; the more he is so, the more he glorifies God and is useful to his neighbor. The priest should be a man who is stripped. Recalling Calvary, he should think of immolating himself in order to give life. The priest should be a crucified man. Meditating on the tabernacle, he should remember that he ought to give himself incessantly to others; he should become like good bread for souls. The priest should be a man who is consumed." (4)

Father Charles de Foucauld, who offered his life in order to seal with his blood his apostolate among the Moslems, wrote in a notebook, which he always carried on his person: "Live as if you were to die a martyr today. The more everything is lacking to us on earth, the more we find the best thing that earth can give us: the cross." (5)

This attitude of soul is patent in the lives of many founders of religious orders, who, following the example of our Lord, had to complete their work by perfect self-immolation. This is especially manifest, and most strikingly so, in the life of St. Paul of the Cross, who founded the Passionists in the eighteenth century.(6) His life is one of the greatest examples of the life of reparation in a founder. By forty-five years of sufferings which were like a continual prayer in the Garden of Olives, he confirmed his work. St. Paul died in 1775 at the age of eighty-one; the last months of his life were like an anticipated heaven.

The profound pages in the book just mentioned, in our opinion throw light on the lives of several other saints, in particular on the last years of St. Alphonsus Liguori when he was so severely tried. A superficial reading of the interior sufferings described in his Life, written by Father Berthe, might lead one to believe that they were those of the passive purification of the senses united to those of the spirit. In reality, the soul of this great saint, then eighty years of age, was already purified, and these great trials at the end were chiefly reparatory for the sanctification of sinners. It is the great apostolate through suffering that makes the saints share in the sorrowful life of our Lord and that allows them to seal their work as He sealed His on the cross.


If the priest ought to be another Christ, the simple Christian should also "take up his cross daily" (7) and offer his sufferings in union with the sacrifice of Jesus perpetuated on the altar. He ought to offer them for himself and for the souls for whose salvation he should work.

St. Benedict Joseph Labre was not a priest. He did not share, in the real sense of the word, in the priesthood of Christ, but he shared largely in His state as a victim. As much must be said of many spouses of Christ, who, following Mary's example, share in His sufferings and find therein a profound spiritual motherhood, which is like a reflection of the spiritual maternity of the Blessed Virgin in relation to souls redeemed by the blood of her Son.
Mary did not receive the priestly character; she could not consecrate the Holy Eucharist, but as Father Olier says, "she received the plenitude of the spirit of the priesthood," which is the spirit of Christ the Redeemer. She penetrated the mystery of our altars far more than did the Apostle St. John, when he celebrated Mass in her presence and gave her Holy Communion. In the early Church, Mary, by her interior oblation united to that of the Mass, rendered the apostolate of the Twelve fruitful. By her interior suffering at the sight of the nascent heresies that denied the divinity of her Son, she was the spiritual mother of souls to a degree unimaginable without profound experience of this hidden apostolate. She thus continued the sacrifice of her Son.

A servant of God who lived by this truth for a long time said to us: "The mystical body of Christ can no more live without suffering than our eyes without the light of the sun. On earth, the nearer a soul is to God, that is, the more it loves, the more it is dedicated to suffering. For souls that have received everything from the Church, is it not a noble vocation to live and immolate themselves for their Mother?" (8) The same valiant religious said also: "Patience is necessary, but I shall win her. Our Lord will win her. . . . I always say to Him: I want that soul at the cost of no matter what suffering." (9) "Until the end of the world, Christ will agonize in His members, and it is by these sufferings and this agony that the Church, His spouse, will bring forth saints. . . . Since the death of Jesus, the law has not changed: souls are saved only by suffering and dying for them." (10) "The eternally glorified heart of Jesus will suffer no more, it can no longer suffer; henceforth it is our turn. . . . What happiness that it is our turn and no longer His to suffer now!" (11)

The Lord causes these reparatory souls to hear words such as these: "Have you not asked Me for a share in My passion? Choose: do you wish the joy of unclouded faith, ravishing you and flooding your soul with delights, or do you wish darkness, suffering, which will make you cooperate in the salvation of souls?" (12) Our Lord invites such souls to choose quite freely; but, as if powerless to resist, they abandon joy and choose suffering with all its darkness, so that light, sanctity, and salvation may be given to others.

From time to time, God allows them to see the hardness of hearts, and at certain times hell seems unchained to tear from them an act of despair. They fight for hours; it is a struggle of spirit against spirit; at no matter what cost, they must follow the Master to the end. He lets them understand with increasing clearness that He expects from them love of scorn and complete destruction, like that of the grain of wheat cast into the earth, which must die that it may bring forth much fruit. This life of reparation is that of souls called to the intimate service of the Lord Jesus.(13)

Such is the sign of perfect love, as it is described in The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena: "This is seen by the same sign that was given to the holy disciples after they had received the Holy Spirit, . . . not fearing pain, but rather glorying therein. . . . Through this charity, which is of the Holy Spirit, the soul participates in His will, fortifying her own." (14) In the same book, we read (it is the Lord who speaks):

These, I say, as if enamored of My honor, and famished for the food of souls, run to the table of the most holy cross, willing to suffer pain and endure much for the service of the neighbor, and desiring to preserve and acquire the virtues, bearing in their body the stigmata of Christ crucified, causing the crucified love which is theirs to shine, being visible through self-contempt and delighted endurance of the shames and vexations on every side. 

. . . Such as these follow the Immaculate Lamb, My only-begotten Son, who was both blessed and sorrowful on the cross. . . . These souls, thrown into the furnace of My charity, no part of their will remaining outside, but the whole of them being inflamed in Me, are like a brand wholly consumed in the furnace, so that no one can take hold of it to extinguish it, because it has become fire. In the same way, no one can seize these souls or draw them outside of Me." (16)

This is perfect configuration to Jesus Christ; it is, in the life of reparation, the transforming union which has become fruitful and radiating. It is the participation in the state of Jesus as victim and, even in saints who have not received the priesthood properly so called, it is a very close union with the eternal Priest, in which are admirably realized St. Peter's words: "Unto whom coming, as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen and made honorable by God, be you also as living stones built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (16)
This configuration to Christ crucified by the life of reparation is like the immediate prelude of eternal life.


The reading of the works of St. John of the Cross leads one to consider the night of the spirit chiefly as a personal passive purification, which prepares the soul for the perfect union with God, called the transfonning union. This purification, which in its passive aspect is a mystical state and implies infused contemplation, appears thus as necessary to remove the defects of proficients of whom the author speaks in The Dark Night.(2) .This is particularly true of a secret spiritual pride, whIch is sometimes the cause of manyillusions. The night of the spirit is a purgatory before death, but a purgatory in which the soul merits and grows greatly in love. Finally, this darkness and the affliction experienced in this state give way to the superior light and joy of the transforming union, the immediate prelude of the life of heaven. The winter of the night of the spirit seems followed by a springtime and a perpetual summer, after which there would no longer be an autumn.

Such is the impression created by the reading of The Dark Night and The Living Flame of Love. It may be said that for advanced souls the night of the spirit is only a tunnel to be traversed before entering the transforming union, and that afterward the soul need not pass through it again.

The lives of some great servants of God especially dedicated to reparation, to immolation for the salvation of souls or to the apostolate by interior suffering, make one think, however, of a prolongation of the night of the spirit even after their entrance into the transforming union. In such cases, this trial would no longer be chiefly purificatory; it would be above all reparative.

Though St. John of the Cross does not insist particularly on this point, he alludes several times to the interior trials endured by the saints for the salvation of sinners.(3) St. Teresa also mentions them when she writes of the great generosity of souls that have entered the seventh mansion.(4)

What should be our attitude toward a night of the spirit that is more reparatory than purificatory and is even prolonged over lengthy period after the entrance into the transforming union, when the tried soul is already personally purified? We treated this question briefly in another work; (5) here it is expedient to recall in regard to this point the incontrovertible principles and some significant facts.

First of all, the Christian mind cannot forget that the great interior sufferings which our Lord and His holy Mother experienced at the sight of sin and in the offering of themselves as victims for us were not for their purification but for our redemption, and that the more souls advance in the spiritual life, the more their interior sufferings resemble those of Jesus and Mary. The common opinion is that the servants of God are more particularly tried, whether it be that they need a more profound purification, or whether, following the example of our Lord, they must work by the same means as He used for a great spiritual cause, such as the foundation of a religious order or the salvation of many other souls. St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa almost continually experienced this, as the facts clearly show.

We shall point out here a particularly striking fact in this connection, and we shall then briefly compare the purifying night of the spirit with that which is chiefly reparatory and which contains an apostolate through suffering that is as fruitful as hidden.

Let us note first of all, though without insistence, a fairly characteristic fact, verified toward the close of the life of St. Alphonsus Liguori. A superficial reading of this period of his life, he was then eighty, might give the impression that he was experiencing the passive night of the senses, which is frequently accompanied by strong temptations against chastity and patience, virtues having their seat in the sensible part of the soul. The holy old man had at this time such violent temptations that his servant wondered if they would not cause him to lose his mind. But consideration of all the work already accomplished by grace in the soul of this great saint leads to the conclusion that this trial in his last years was not precisely for him the passive purification of the senses (although it had all the appearances of being so), but a series of afflictions that he endured chiefly for his neighbor and for the consolidation of his Order for which he had already suffered so much.

There is an even more striking example in the life of St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists. We may form an exact idea of his interior life from his numerous letters,(6) from the notes left by his confessor and director, Father John Mary, and from other documents of the period, quoted in the process of canonization and the preparatory work. Father Cajetan of the Holy Name of Mary, CP., assembled the most important of these documents in his book, Oraison et ascension mystique de saint Paul de la Croix.(7) Father Cajetan kindly gave us some other documents which he plans to publish soon and which confirm the contents of those already published.

We shall cite here only the most significant facts in the long and austere life of the saint, which was wholly dedicated to the service of God. Born in 1694, St. Paul of the Cross, who lived to be eighty-one, became the founder of a religious order vowed to reparation.
Brought up in a thoroughly Christian manner and accustomed from his youth to complete abnegation and the practice of all the virtues, St. Paul very early in life had the affective prayer of simple gaze, and at about the age of nineteen a notable increase in piety. He called this period "his conversion"; in it appear the signs of the passive purification of the senses, accompanied, as is not unusual, by an attack of scruples. (8)

From this time on, Father Cajetan rightly distinguishes three periods in his mystical life. In the first, which lasted twelve years, the saint was raised progressively to the different degrees of prayer described by St. Teresa, even to the transforming union. In the second period, which lasted forty-five years, he had exceptionally profound experience of the life of reparation. In the third period, which comprised the last five years of his life, although his trials continued, consolations increased in proportion as he drew near the end of his journey.
In the first period, after the passive purification of the senses and the painful attack of scruples, the servant of God, who had received the grace of infused contemplation, remained for three or four hours at a time in prayer.(9) He gave seven hours daily to mental prayer. According to the testimony of his confessor, Father John Mary, he had experience of ecstatic prayer at about the age of twenty-four, being often rapt out of his senses. He then received great lights on the mysteries of faith and was favored with visions which gave him to understand that he should found an order Consecrated to the Passion.(10) At this period he also received a vision of the Blessed Trinity, one of heaven, and another of hell; his faith "seemed to him changed into evidence." (11)

It seems certain that St. Paul of the Cross personally underwent the passive purification of the spirit at the age of twenty-six, chiefly during a retreat of forty days in 1720. Father Cajetan relates these trials at length.(12) At this time the saint heard words uttered against God, "diabolical words, which, he said, pierced his heart and soul" (13)

This passive purification of the spirit was completed by a contemplation of our Savior's passion,(14) a contemplation which led the saint "through love to make the most holy sufferings of Jesus his own." "The soul," he says, "all immersed in pure love, without an image, in most pure and naked faith, suddenly finds itself, when it so pleases the Sovereign Good, plunged equally into the ocean of the Savior's sufferings" and sees "that the Passion is wholly a work of love." (15)

From this time on, the saint's prayer consisted in putting on the sufferings of Jesus and in allowing himself to be immersed in our Savior's divinity.(16) Before the age of thirty-one, St. Paul of the Cross received the grace of the transforming union. This fact can scarcely be doubted if, after carefully considering the loftiness of the purifying graces which preceded it, one takes cognizance of the testimony gathered by Father Cajetan.(17) This signal grace was even accompanied by the symbolism which sometimes manifests it sensibly: by the apparition of our Lord, of His Blessed Mother, and of several saints. St. Paul of the Cross also received a gold ring on which were represented the instruments of the Passion.
When we see to what close union with Jesus crucified the servant of God attained before the age of thirty-one, and consider that he was to live to the age of eighty-one and found an order vowed to reparation, we are less astonished at seeing him associated afterward for a period of forty-five years with the sorrowful life of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, after receiving the grace of the transforming union, he had, according to the testimony of his confessor,(18) to pass through forty-five years of interior desolations, most painful abandonment, during which, "from time to time only, the Lord granted him a short respite." (19)

His life was truly a life of reparation in all its depth and elevation; it was the apostolate by spiritual suffering to an exceptional degree. This suffering consisted not only in the subtraction of sensible consolations, but, as it were, in the eclipse of the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. The saint believed himself abandoned by God, he believed that God was irritated with him. His temptations to despair and sadness were overwhelming; and yet in this interminable trial, St. Paul showed great patience, perfect resignation to the divine will, and extreme kindness to all who approached him, as Father Cajetan relates.(20) In the Summary of the ordinary processes in view of his canonization, are the following declarations: "One day St. Paul said to his director: 'If anyone should ask me at any time what I was thinking about, it seems to me that I could reply that I was thinking of God.' " (21) This was likewise the case even in his greatest spiritual desolations, at a time when it seemed to him that he no longer had faith, hope, or charity. (22) He was accustomed to say: "It seems to me impossible not to think of God, since our spirit is wholly filled with God and we are entirely in Him." (23)

Actually, when St. Paul of the Cross went through the streets of Rome exclaiming: "A via Pauli, libera nos, Domine," he was unable to breathe spiritually except in God. Day and night for fortyfive years his prayer was a painful, heroic, incessant prayer, which sought God ardently, and which sought Him to give Him to the souls for whom this great saint suffered. More fruitful than years of preaching inspired by a lesser love, these painful years were a sublime realization of the Master's words: "We ought always to pray, and not to faint." (24) The saint's life and trials throw light on the import of the following thought of St. John of the Cross: "A single act of pure love can do more good in the Church than many exterior works" inspired by a lesser charity.

Near the close of these fony-five years of suffering, St. Paul of the Cross experienced intervals of consolation. He felt himself drawn into our Savior's wounds, and Jesus crucified said to him: "You are in My heart." (25) The Blessed Virgin appeared to him, and also the soul of a priest condemned to purgatory, for whom he was to suffer. Our Savior's passion was, so to speak, imprinted on his heart.(26)

After forty-five years, his trial was mitigated, and spiritual consolations increased progressively during the last five years of his long life. He had an apparition of our Lady of Sorrows and other favors in the sacristy of the church of SS. John and Paul in Rome, ecstasies with and without levitation. The last months of his life, at the age of eighty-one, were like the immediate prelude of the beatitude of heaven.

The facts we have just recounted are certainly most exceptional. From time to time, however, we find, more particularly in contemplative orders vowed to prayer and immolation, somewhat similar facts in souls that have a reparatory vocation and have made a vow consecrating themselves to this apostolate through suffering. We have known three very generous Carmelites and a priest, all of whom seemed to be in an interminable night of the spirit (thirty and forty years); yet these souls were apparently already purified, but their oblation for the salvation of sinners seemed to have been accepted.

After the examination of these facts, in the light of principles we believe that we can reach the following conclusion: When the night of the spirit is chiefly purificatory, under the influence of the grace that is exercised mainly by the gift of understanding, the theological vinues and humility are purified of all human alloy. As we have shown elsewhere,(27) the formal motive of these virtues is freed from every accessory motive, and their primary object brought into powerful relief above every secondary object. The soul thus purified can pass beyond the formulas of mysteries and enter into "the deep things of God," as St. Paul says.(28) Then, in spite of all temptations against faith and hope, the soul firmly believes by a direct act in a most pure and sublime manner which surmounts temptation; it believes for the sole and most pure motive supernaturally attained: the authority of God revealing. It also hopes for the sole reason that He is ever helpful, infinite Mercy. It loves Him in the most complete aridity, because He is infinitely better in Himself than all the gifts which He could grant us. The first revealing Truth, formal motive of infused faith, the divine, helpful Mercy, formal motive of hope, the infinite Goodness of God sovereignly lovable in itself, then appear more and more in their transcendent supernaturalness like three stars of first magnitude in the night of the spirit.(29)

When this trial is chiefly reparatory, when it has principally for its end to make the already purified soul work for the salvation of its neighbor, then it preserves the same lofty characteristics just described, but takes on an additional character more reminiscent of the intimate sufferings of Jesus and Mary, who did not need to be purified. In this case the suffering makes one think of that of a lifesaver who, in a storm, struggles heroically to save from death those who are on the point of drowning. Spiritual life-savers, like St. Paul of the Cross, struggle not only for hours and months, but sometimes for years in order to snatch souls from eternal death; and, in a way, these reparative souls must resist the temptations of the souls they seek to save that they may come efficaciously to their assistance. Reparative souls are intimately associated with our Savior's sorrowful life; in them St. Paul's words (30) are fully realized: "Heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ; yet so, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him."
1. Encyclical Ad diem illum, February 1, 1904.
2. Acta Apost. Sed., X, 181, Letter of March 11, 1918.
3. Col. 1:24.
4. Cf. Anthony Lestra, Le Pere Chevrier (Paris, 1934), p. 165.
5. As another example of the life of reparation, we cite that of the holy Abbe Girard, subdeacon of Coutances, who died in 1921 after twenty-two years of suffering. His life has been written under the title: Vingt-deux ans de martyre, by Myriam de G. (Lyons), who herself has been nailed to a bed of pain for twenty-five years. After receiving the subdiaconate, the holy cleric was stricken with tuberculosis of the bones of the knees. In spite of several operations and his pilgrimages to Lourdes, he did not recover, but he obtained a greater grace, that of daily offering his suffering to render fruitful the apostolate of the priests of his generation. After twenty-two years of martyrdom, his body, eaten away by tuberculosis, was one great wound. As he lay dying, he accepted the continuation of his sufferings for as many years more if it were necessary. His painful immolation, united to that of the Mass, had made a saint of him; it must have obtained the conversion of a great number of souls.
6. Father Cajetan of the Holy Name of Mary, C.P., Oraison et ascension mystique de saint Paul de la Croix (Louvain, 1930), pp. 86-88, 115-77. See also the appendix to this chapter.
7. Luke 9:23: "And He said to all: If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
8. Mere Franfoise de Jesus (abridgment of her life, to which we have added extracts from her writings), p. 53.
9. Ibid., p. 54.
10. Ibid., pp. 143-45.
11. Ibid., p. 147.
12. Ibid., p. 177.
13. Ibid., p. 179.
14. The Dialogue, chap. 74.
15. Ibid., chap. 78.
16. Cf. I Pet. 2:4f.
1. These pages appeared in the October, 1938, issue of the Etudes carmelitaines, which was devoted to the study of the "mystical night." This number contained articles dealing with a psychological description, a theological explanation, the examination of natural or morbid cases which have some resemblances to this state.
2. Bk. II, chap. 10.
3. Cf. A Spiritual Canticle, Part II, st. 10.
4. The Interior Castle, seventh mansion, chap. 4: "His Majesty can bestow no greater favor on us than to give us a life such as was led by His beloved Son. Therefore, as I have often told you, I feel certain that these graces (of the transforming union) are sent to strengthen our weakness so that we may imitate Him by suffering much. We always find that those nearest to Christ our Lord bear the heaviest cross: think of what His glorious Mother and the apostles bore."
5. L'Amour de Dieu et la croix de Jesus (1919), II, 625-31, 814-23.
6. Lettere, edited by Father Amedeo, Rome, 1914, 4 vols. See also the first biography of the saint by Blessed V. Strambi, 1786.
7. Museum Lessianum, Louvain, 1930.
8. Cf. Father Cajetan, op. cit., p. 8.
9. Op.cit., p. 12.
10. Ibid., p. 15.
11. Ibid., p. 19.
12. Ibid., pp. 41-63.
13. Ibid., p. 55.
14. Ibid., pp. 57-73.
15. Ibid., p. 57.
16. Ibid., p. 62.
17. Ibid., pp. 85-97.
18 Ibid., pp. 2, 115-77.
19.Ibid., p. 2.
20. Ibid., p. 96.
21. Summary of the Process, I, 317, 64.
22. Ibid., I, 324, 103.
23. Ibid., I, 324, 105.
24. Luke 18: 1.
25. Father Cajetan, op. cit., p. 167.
26. Ibid.
27. L'Amour de Dieu et la croix de Jesus, II, 549-656.
28. Cf. I Cor. 2:10.
29. As far as we are acquainted with the life of Father Surin, we think that he underwent this passive purification and acquired great merits in it.
30. Rom. 8: 17. Moreover, even when the night of the spirit is chiefly purificatory and precedes the transforming union, often there exists in it to some degree the other character of reparation for one's neighbor. This statement can be verified in Bk. III, chap. 11, sect. I of the Life of St. Vincent de Paul by Abelly (cf. Revue d'ascetique et mystique, 1932, pp. 398 ff.), where the author says that St. Vincent accepted to suffer for a doctor of the Sorbonne who was greatly tormented by temptations against faith. Then for four years St. Vincent de Paul himself had to resist such strong temptations against this virtue that he kept asking himself whether or not he consented to them. A this time he wrote the Credo on a sheet of paper which he placed over his heart, and when the temptation was most violent, he would press the Credo against his heart to give himself an exterior sign of his fidelity. At the end of these four years, St. Vincent de Paul's faith was notably increased by all the heroic acts he had had to make while passing through this tunnel. We believe that the same observation must be made in regard to the greatest interior sufferings of the holy Cure of Ars and also in regard to the passive purification of the spirit which St. Teresa of the Child Jesus underwent toward the end of her life (cf. Histoire d'une ame, 1923, chaps. 9, 12). What she wrote at this time is quite revealing and should be reread.
Cf. also L. Reypens, "La nuit de l'esprit chez Ruusbroec" (Etudes carmelitaines, October, 1938, p. 78) on the summit of the mystical life in emptiness and abandonment.
The night of the spirit seems also to have been prolonged after the transforming union in the life of Venerable Mary of the Incarnation, Ursuline of Tours and Quebec. Cf. P. J. Klein, M.S.C., L'Itineraire mystique de la venerable Mere Marie de l'Incarnation, Paris, 1937. The conclusions of this author's thesis are, however, very debatable on several points. Cf. Ami du clerge, February 16, 1939, pp. 98-100.
To conclude we shall quote from a Sermon for the Monday before Palm Sunday (transl. Hugueny, 1, 265-69) by Tauler, a great spiritual writer whom St. Paul of the Cross often read. This is how Tauler describes the divine union in the higher faculties: "The spirit is then ravished above all its faculties, in a desolate desert of which no one can speak, in the secret darkness of the good without determined mode. There the spirit is introduced into the unity of Unity, simple and without determined mode, so profoundly that it loses the feeling of every distinction. . . . But when these men return to themselves, they discern all things in joy and perfection, as no one can do. This discernment is born in simple Unity. Thus they discern with clarity and truth all the articles of pure faith. . . . No one understands true discernment better than those who attain to Unity. It is called, and it truly is, ineffable darkness, and yet it is the essential light. It is also called a desert desolate beyond all expression; no one can find a road or anything definite in it: it is superior to every mode.
"This is how this darkness must be understood: It is a light which no created intellect can naturally attain or comprehend. And it is a savage place, because it has no (natural) way of access. When the spirit is introduced here, it is above itself. . . . Man should then in great humility keep himself submissive to God's will. God then demands from man a greater detachment than ever. . . , more purity, more simplicity . . . , profound humility, and all the virtues which develop in the lower faculties. It is thus that man becomes the familiar of God and thence is born a divine man." St. Paul of the Cross, who often read Tauler, must have read this page, which seems to explain in part the reparatory night in which he lived for so long a time after having been raised to the transforming union.
Reginald Garrigou Lagrange, O.P.
Three Ages of the Interior Life