Write In Between

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Writer's Wednesday -- Jean-Pierre de Caussaude

From abandoned souls, God demands complete surrender to his grace.

We must keep ourselves detached from all we feel or do if we are to travel along his path and live only for God and the duties of the present moment. We must stop all imaginings about the future, keep our attention on what is happening now and not bother about anything that has gone before or what may follow. I imagine that God's will always governs you. You will then have some inner prompting which makes you say: "I feel drawn toward this person or this book; I would like to give another person some advice or ask for some myself; I wish to complain about something, to open my heart to someone and in turn receive confidence, to give something away or to perform a certain action." We should at once obey these promptings of grace without relying on our reason or considering the matter at all. We must give ourselves to whatever God wishes and for as long as he wishes and yet never get personally involved in them. In this condition of self-abandonment the will of God moves us because he dwells within us, and it should completely replace everything on which we usually rely for strength and support...

All we can say can be reduced to this: "I feel drawn to write, to read, to question and examine. I obey this feeling, and God, who is responsible for it, thus builds up within me a kind of spiritual store which, in the future, will develop into a core of usefulness for myself and for others." This is what make it essential for us to be simple-hearted, gentle, compliant and sensitive to the slightest breath of these imperceptible promptings.

If we have abandoned ourselves, there is only one rule for us: the duty of the present moment. The soul is as light as a feather, as fluid as water, simple as a child and as lively as a ball in responding to the impulses of grace. We are like molten metal which takes the shape of the mold into which it is poured, and can just as easily assume any for God wishes to give us. We are like the air which stirs continually, or water which fills every vessel no matter what its shape.

We must offer ourselves to God like a clean, smooth canvas and not worry ourselves abut what God may choose to paint on it, for we have perfect trust in him, have abandoned ourselves to him, and are so busy doing our duty that we forget ourselves and all our needs. The more closely we devote ourselves to our little task, which is so simple, so secret and so hidden and apparently so paltry, the more does God enrich and adorn it: "God works wonders for those he loves" (Psalm 4: 3).

It is true that a canvas simply and blindly offered to the brush feels at teach moment only the stroke of the brush... We might ask it: "What do you think is happening to you?" And it might answer: "Don't ask me. All I know is that I must stay immovable in the hands of the [artist], and I must love him and endure all... to produce the [art] he has in mind. He knows how to do it. As for me, I have no idea what he is doing, nor do I know what he will make of me. But what I do know is that his work is the best possible. It is perfect. I welcome [it] as the best thing that could happen to me... I concentrate on the present moment, think only of my duty..."

Yes... leave to God what is his business and carry on peacefully with your work. Be quite sure that whatever happens to your spiritual life or to your activities in the world is always for the best. Let God act, and abandon yourself to him. Let the... brush do [its] work even though the brush covers the canvas with so many colors that, instead of a picture, it seems there is only a daub. Let us work together with the will of God by a steady and simple submission, a complete forgetfulness of self and concentration on our duties.

Let us go straight ahead. Never mind the lack of a map, ignore the lie of the land and take no notice of the places you pass through. Keep going and you will attain all you desire. Everything will be given you if, with love and obedience, you seek God's kingdom and his righteousness. There are many people who are uneasy and ask: "Who will guide us toward that mortification of self which will lead us to perfect happiness?" [...]

Let us stay united with God by love and let us walk blindly along the clear straight path of duty. His angels protect you, and if he wants more from you he will let you know.

-----Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751), a Jesuit priest and mystic. This quote is taken from Abandonment to Divine Providence published post-humorously.

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