"To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself. "

Thomas á Kempis

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"Obedience is the true holocaust which we sacrifice to God on the altar of our hearts."

St Philip Neri

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"Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars."

Thomas á Kempis

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PART 1 - The Sources of the Interior Life and Its End (cont)

Ch 4: The Blessed Trinity Present in Us, Uncreated Source of our Interior Life (cont)

 
SPIRITUAL CONSEQUENCES OF THIS DOCTRINE

A consequence of primary importance springs from these considerations. If the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in us cannot be conceived unless the just man can have a "quasi-experimental knowledge" of God present in him, what follows? That this knowledge, far from being something essentially extraordinary, like visions, revelations, or the stigmata, is in the normal way of sanctity.28 This quasi-experimental knowledge of God present in us springs from faith illumined by the gifts of wisdom and understanding, which are connected with charity; whence it follows that this knowledge ought normally to grow with the progress of charity, either under a clearly contemplative form, or under a form more directly oriented toward action. Farther on, we shall also declare that infused contemplation, in which this quasi-experience develops, begins, according to St. John of the Cross, with the illuminative way and
develops in the unitive way.(29) This quasi-experimental knowledge of God, of His goodness, will grow with the knowledge of our nothingness and wretchedness, according to the divine words spoken to St. Catherine of Siena: "I am who am; thou art she who is not."

It also follows that, when our charity increases notably, the divine persons are sent anew, says St. Thomas,(30) for They become more intimately present in us according to a new mode or degree of intimacy. This is true, for example, at the time of the second conversion, which marks the entrance into the illuminative way.

Finally, They are in us not only as an object of supernatural knowledge and love, but as principles of supernatural operations. Christ Himself said: "My Father worketh until now; and I work," especially in the intimacy of the heart, in the center of the soul.

We should, moreover, remember in a practical way that ordinarily God communicates Himself to His creature only in the measure of the creature's dispositions. When these become more pure, the divine persons also become more intimately present and active. Then God belongs to us and we to Him, and we desire above all to make progress in His love. "This doctrine of the invisible missions of the divine persons in us is one of the most powerful motives for spiritual advancement," says Father Chardon, "because it keeps the soul ever on the alert in regard to its progress, awake to produce incessantly ever stronger and more fervent acts of all the virtues, that, growing in grace, this new growth may bring God anew to it . . . for a union. . . which is characterized by greater intimacy, purity, and vigor." (31)

OUR DUTIES TOWARD THE DIVINE GUEST

In Proverbs we read: "My son, give Me thy heart." (32) And in the Apocalypse we are told: "Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear My voice and open to Me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." (33) The soul of a just man is like a heaven that is still obscure, since the Blessed Trinity is in him, and some day he will see It there unveiled.

Our duties toward the interior Guest may be summed up in the following suggestions: that we think often of Him and tell ourselves that God lives in us; that we consecrate our day, our hour, to the divine persons by saying, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost"; that we remember that the interior Guest is for us the source of light, consolation, and strength; that we pray to Him as Christ suggests: "Pray to thy Father in secret (in thy soul): and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee"; (34) that we adore the interior Guest saying: "My soul doth magnify the Lord"; that we believe in Him; that we trust absolutely in Him, and love Him with an increasingly pure, generous, and strong love; that we love Him by imitating Him, especially by goodness, according to the words of our Savior: "Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect"; (35) "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us." (36)

As we shall see more clearly in the following pages, all this leads us to think that far from being essentially extraordinary, the mystical life alone, which is characterized by the reality of the quasi-experimental knowledge of God present in us, is completely normal. Only the saints, all of whom live this sort of life, are fully in order. Before experiencing this intimate union with God present in us, we are somewhat like souls still half-asleep, souls not yet spiritually awakened. Our knowledge of the consoling mystery of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity is still too superficial and bookish, and yet overflowing life is offered to us.

Before entering into the intimacy of union with God, our adoration and love of Him are not what they ought to be, and frequently we consider the "one thing necessary" as if it were not the most important thing for us. Likewise we have not yet become profoundly cognizant of the gift that has been given us in the Eucharist, and we have only a superficial knowledge of the nature of the mystical body of Christ.

The Holy Ghost is the soul of the mystical body, of which Christ is the head. As in our body the soul is entirely in the whole body and entirely in each part, and exercises its superior functions in the head, so the Holy Ghost is entirely in all the mystical body, entirely in each just soul, and exercises His highest functions in the holy soul of the Savior, and through it on us. The vital principle which thus constitutes the unity of the mystical body is singularly more unitive than the soul which unifies our body, than the spirit of a family or of a nation. The spirit of a family is a certain manner of seeing, judging, feeling, loving, willing, and acting. The spirit of the mystical body is infinitely more unifying; it is the Holy Ghost the Sanctifier, source of all graces, source of living water springing up into eternal life. The stream of grace, which comes from the Holy Ghost, unceasingly reascends toward God under the form of adoration, prayer, merit, and sacrifice; it is the elevation toward God, the prelude of the life of heaven. Such are the supernatural realities of which we should become increasingly more conscious. Only in the mystical life does the soul truly awaken completely, and have that lively, profound, radiating consciousness of the gift of God that is necessary if the soul is to correspond fully with the love of God for us.
 

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Footnotes
 
 
28. Father Gardeil, O.P., holds the same opinion as we do on this subject. He says.(op. cit., II,89): "In this fourth part, we will devote our best effort to showing that the mystical experience is the final flowering of the life of the Christian in the state of grace"; and (p. 368): "Mystical knowledge, supreme but normal flowering of the state ofgrace."

29. St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul, Bk. I, chap. 14: "The way of . . . proficients, which is also called the illuminative way, or the way of infused contemplation, wherein God Himself teaches and refreshes the soul."

30. See Ia, q.43, a.6 ad 2um.

31. La croix de jesus, original edition, p. 457; 3rd conference, chap. 4

32. Provo 23:16.

33. Apoc. 3:20.

34. Matt. 6:6.

35. Ibid., 5:48.

36. John 17:21.