Friday, May 22, 2015

faith has its darkness as well as its light

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Temptations will come, including those against faith.  The deceiver will seek to lead you into despair and seeing you drawn along by love will cast darkness and trouble over your soul and give rise to revolt in your senses.  Yet, even here love can run ahead of faith; although not felt except for the sorrow experienced in your soul.  There will only be uncertainty but your unconscious longing for God will be your most constant prayer.  Be of good courage - for you are on the right road and will be led by God's loving care as He clasps you to His Heart.  Tell Him you accept all on His Word alone; until at last you see Him face to face and when He will give Himself to you in the full and unremitting blaze of His beauty.

You are passing through one of those terrible trials through which every soul called to close union with Jesus must pass. “Because you were pleasing to God,” said the Angel to Tobias, “it was necessary that temptation should try you.” My child, we cannot go to God but through union with Jesus. “I am the way—no one goeth to the Father but through Me.” Now Jesus went to His Father by passing through Gethsemane and Calvary, and every soul united to Him must pass by the same way.
These temptations against faith are a real crucifixion, and yet you really do believe, but unconsciously, and that is why your love subsists and seems to go ahead of your faith. The devil is doing his best to cast you into despair, for he sees that you will one day be very closely united with Him Whom he hates, hence he casts darkness and trouble into your soul, and revolt perhaps in your senses, but this is the path by which all interior souls must pass, if they are to reach perfect union. Blessed is the man who suffers temptation, says St. James, for when he has been tried, he will receive the crown of life.

The Holy Ghost says, “Blessed is the man who is tempted,” and St. James adds, “Beloved, be filled with great joy when you pass through various temptations.”

Those against faith and hope are the most distressing, and a real agony, but most salutary. The secret subconscious longing for God is a sure sign of the presence of the Holy Ghost in your soul, it is a vision of God’s beauty in the darkness of faith; but just as the beatific vision which the soul of Jesus always enjoyed did not diminish His agony, nor prevent His soul being sad even unto death, so with yours. It is your purgatory, and our Lord is holding your soul in those flames until all selfishness and self-seeking are burned out, then you will enter into the ineffable grandeur of God.

The very nature of the trial through which you are passing is the terrible uncertainty it leaves in the soul as to her state. She seems to herself to have lost faith and love, for she feels nothing. It is pure naked faith. This longing for God is a most powerful and constant prayer, for God reads the inmost “thoughts of our hearts, and this thirst for Him is a way to His Father’s Heart. “Thy ear hath heard the desire of the poor,” and no one is poorer than those who are serving God in the trials of pure faith.

So now courage! You are on the right road and all you require is great patience and absolute confidence in our Lord’s loving care. You are very dear to Him though you may imagine the contrary. He wants you to see for yourself how really miserable and unworthy you are, and that it is His sheer mercy which thus clasps you to His Heart. During all eternity God will give Himself to you in the full and unremitting blaze of His beauty. Here below His glory requires that He be served in faith. Let us try to serve Him in faith, just as if we gazed on Him in vision.

In practice adore God profoundly, then tell Him you accept all He has revealed on His Word alone, and as the Church speaks in His name you accept her voice and teaching as His. Make these acts through love, even though you feel nothing.

You are passing through a winter, but it is that you may reach a greater union. For the moment remain united (with Jesus) by faith: Sponsabo te mihi in fide, says the Spouse: “I will espouse thee in faith.” But faith has its darkness as well as its light, and God is as good when He presents Himself in the darkness of faith as when He appears upon the Tabor of consolation.

Blessed Columba Marmion. 

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