PART 3 - The Illuminative Way of Proficients
Ch 32 : The New Elements in
Some declare that the explanation often given of infused prayer, which attributes it to a special inspiration received with docility through the gifts of the Holy Ghost, is insufficient. According to them, this explanation does not sufficiently account for what is new in infused prayer and shows that it differs only in degree from acquired prayer, in which the gifts of the Holy Ghost have begun to intervene in a latent manner.(1)
To explain this matter we shall examine two points: first, whether the character of newness always clearly appears in the transition from acquired to infused prayer; next, whether this transition is to be explained by the inspiration and special illumination of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
The character of newness is incontestably clear if a soul passes suddenly from more or less simplified discursive meditation (occasionally called, in its last phase, acquired contemplation) not to arid but to consoled quiet, which St. Teresa speaks of in the second chapter of the fourth mansion. In this infused prayer "the will is captivated" by the interior illumination that shows it the goodness of God present in it as a source of living water: "This joy is not, like earthly happiness, at once felt by the heart; after gradually filling it to the brim, the delight overflows throughout all the mansions and faculties. . . . They [the celestial waters] appear to dilate and enlarge us internally, and benefit us in an inexplicable manner, nor does even the soul itself understand what it receives." (2)
However, the saint says in the same chapter, it happens that in this state the understanding and imagination do not cease to be disturbed and to trouble the will. (3) The character of newness of infused prayer would, therefore, be still more sensible if the understanding itself were captivated and if the imagination and memory ceased to be disturbed, as happens in the prayer of union,(4) which is compared to rain which falls from heaven, and no longer only to the water wheel (noria) which draws water from a well.(5)
But more often it happens that the transition from the last acquired prayer to initial infused prayer is not so clearly distinguished. St. John of the Cross shows this in The Dark Night, where he describes the night of the senses, which is recognized by the three signs often cited: "The first is this: when we find no comfort in the things of God (proposed in a sensible way by the intermediary of the senses and the imagination, as in meditation). . . . The second test and condition of this purgation are that the memory dwells ordinarily upon God with a painful anxiety and carefulness; the soul thinks it is not serving God, but going backwards. . . . The third sign. . . is inability to meditate and make reflections, and to excite the imagination as before, notwithstanding all the efforts we may make; for God begins now to communicate Himself, no longer through the channel of sense, as formerly, in consecutive reflections, by which we arranged and divided our knowledge, but in pure spirit, which admits not of successive reflections, and in the act of pure contemplation." (6)
This prayer is initial infused contemplation, accompanied by persistent sensible aridity; consequently this state has often been called arid quiet. St. Jane de Chantal (7) often spoke of this prayer, which differs appreciably from the consoled quiet, described by St. Teresa in the second chapter of the fourth mansion. In the description given by St. John of the Cross, the character of newness of initial infused contemplation is not very striking. The same is true of the description contained in Bossuet's well known little work, Maniere facile et courte de faire l'oraison en foi.
The first phase of this prayer is acquired, the second is patently infused. (8) Hence we can see why this prayer is spoken of as a mixed prayer, in which the influence of the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which is at first latent, begins to make itself felt.(9)
The great spiritual writers have even pointed out several times that certain very generous interior souls often have infused contemplation without realizing it, since contemplation may exist in the great obscurities of the night of the senses and of that of the spirit.
The passage from acquired to infused prayer is not, therefore always stamped with a marked character of newness; and, even when this new character is quite manifest, it is not the same in arid quiet and in consoled quiet.
When the transition from acquired to infused prayer is slow, progressive, as St. John of the Cross describes it in the night of the senses, the special inspiration passively received through the gifts of the Holy Ghost sufficiently explains the new character that presents itself here.
But to understand it thus, we must see clearly the specific difference between the human mode in which even the infused virtues operate and the superhuman mode of operation of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the acts of which have precisely as their immediate rule the illumination and special inspiration of the interior Master. This inspiration is an elevated form of actual operating grace, which moves us to act freely above all discursive deliberation. It is thus notably superior to common actual grace, called cooperating grace, which moves us according to discursive deliberation to place a given act of faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, or of some other virtue. St. Thomas stressed this difference profoundly in two articles which we have often explained: "Do the gifts differ [specifically] from the infused virtues by their object and their formal motive?" (10) "How does operating grace differ from cooperating grace?" (11)
The difference is manifest: For example, I see that the customary hour to say my Office has come; I move myself then (aided by common actual grace, which in this case is cooperating) to perform the acts of faith and religion proper to the recitation of this prayer.
On the contrary, in the midst of a difficult, absorbing study, I suddenly receive, without expecting it, a special inspiration to pray, either for a better comprehension of what I am reading or for a friend who must need prayers at that moment. In the first case, Christian prudence inclines me to say the Divine Office and to perform the acts of faith and religion that this liturgical prayer demands; in the second, the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which is above prudential deliberation, inclines me to pray.
There is certainly a new element here, although the transition from one mode to the other may at times be slow and progressive, and at others more rapid and even instantaneous.
When the transition is rapid - for example, if a soul passes without intermediary from simplified discursive meditation to the consoled quiet which is described by St. Teresa - why would not the inspiration and special illumination received through the gifts of the Holy Ghost suffice to explain it?
At this point in our study, it is important that we consider the gifts not only in a general, schematic, and bookish manner, but also in particular, in a concrete and living manner, as St. Thomas and the great spiritual writers, such as St. Bonaventure, Ruysbroeck, Tauler, and Father Lallemant, have described them.
The gift of knowledge explains the experimental knowledge of the emptiness of created things in contrast to divine things; in particular, such a knowledge of the gravity of mortal sin as an offense against God, that one has a horror of sin. This knowledge and horror have been remarked in certain converts at the moment of their conversion. The simple, attentive reading of books of piety, joined to the examination of conscience, could never have given them this lively contrition, which manifests a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost. In this case there is certainly a new element.
Likewise the gift of piety, which is in the will, explains why this faculty is captivated in the prayer of quiet by the sweet presence of God, experientially known, as St. Thomas says in his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans: "You have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God." (12) St. Thomas remarks in the same passage that the Holy Ghost gives this testimony by the filial affection He inspires in us for Himself, to which we could not have moved ourselves by common actual grace. Thus the disciples of Emmaus said: "Was not our heart burning within us, whilst He spoke in the way, and opened to us the Scriptures?" (13) By the gift of piety, too, is explained, according to St. Thomas, what we read in the Epistle to the Romans: "The Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings." (14)
Lastly, the gift of wisdom is, according to St. Thomas,(15) the principle of a quasi-experiential knowledge of the presence of God in us, a knowledge based both on the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost and on the connaturalness with divine things which comes from charity. The special inspiration makes use of this connaturalness which it actualizes (infused act of love) to show us how greatly the mysteries of faith satisfy to the full our loftiest aspirations and give rise to new ones. In this case there is an act of infused love and of infused knowledge, of sweet and penetrating faith. These acts are said to be infused, not only because they proceed from infused virtues (in this case from the theological virtues), but because they would not be produced without the special inspiration to which the gifts render us docile. We could not have moved ourselves to these acts by ourselves, with common actual grace, called cooperating grace; we needed a special operating grace.(16)
It has been objected that this traditional explanation, although given by the greatest masters, shows only a difference of degree and not one of nature; therefore the really new character of infused prayer is not sufficiently explained.
To this objection we reply that there is clearly a specific difference, and not only a difference of degree, between the gifts of the Holy Ghost and the infused virtues. The rule of our acts differs according as they are performed either through or without the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost.(17) This is clear, for example, in regard to the inspiration of the gift of counsel which supplies for the imperfection of prudence when it is absolutely hesitant before an indiscreet question and is faced with the problem of avoiding a lie and keeping another's secret. Sometimes only the inspiration of the Holy Ghost will furnish the answer promptly. Such an inspiration will be given by the Holy Ghost to generous interior souls that are, on the whole, docile to Him.
This specific difference is manifest when a discursively deliberate act of prudence is followed by an act of the gift of counsel (above discursive deliberation), which proceeds from the special inspiration of the interior Master, in such a way that prudence, remaining hesitant, is no longer exercised at the same time. But sometimes the special inspiration is given only to facilitate prudential deliberation by reminding us, for example, of a certain expression from the Gospel; then the difference is less evident.
Similarly, a man who is steering a boat will find an appreciable difference between advancing by means of oars and advancing under the impulsion of a favorable wind; this difference is apparent when the wind becomes strong enough to dispense with rowing. In this case there is certainly more than a difference of degree. The difference is less obvious if the breeze does not dispense the rower from all effort, but only facilitates his work.
Just so, says St. Teresa, prayer may be symbolized by several different ways of watering a garden: one may draw water by hard labor from a well, or bring it up by a pump, called a noria, or irrigate the garden with water from a river, or lastly rain may water the garden.(18) If there is a brusque transition from the first way to the fourth, the change is manifest; but the transition may be made in a progressive manner. Moreover, infused prayer also, symbolized by the rain from heaven, may be explained by the special illumination and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, received through the gifts of understanding, wisdom, and piety, when these gifts, which grow with charity, exist in a higher degree.
We have shown at length elsewhere (19) that to explain mystical contemplation, according to St. Thomas and St. John of the Cross, it is not necessary to have recourse to infused species or ideas similar to those of the angels, that it suffices to have the infused light, called the special illumination and inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which grows continually in every generous interior soul that unites love of the cross with docility to the interior Master. Faith thus becomes increasingly penetrating and sweet.
Neither is it necessary to have recourse to prophetic light, since that of the gifts suffices. St. Thomas makes this point clear when he speaks of infused contemplation in Adam in the state of innocence and then in us. He says: "In contemplation God is seen by this means which is the light of wisdom, which lifts the spirit to perceive divine things, although the divine essence is not seen immediately; and thus, since original sin, by grace God is seen by the contemplative, although less perfectly than in the state of innocence." (20) The light of wisdom spoken of here is the gift of wisdom which St. Thomas treats of ex professo, IIa IIae, q. 45. There is no reason to see in it a light specifically distinct from that which this gift disposes us to receive. Thus the new element found in infused prayer is sufficiently explained by the traditional doctrine of the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, received through the gifts. This point is confirmed by St. Thomas' emphatically clear teaching that the grace of the virtues and the gifts, which unites us to God, is very superior to graces gratis datae, which only make us know the signs of the divine intervention.(21)
Close union with God intimately present in us is superior to these signs, which are evidently subordinate to it. The divine reality, the hidden God, is superior to all symbols; excessive attention to these signs would, says St. John of the Cross, turn us away from infused contemplation, which attains God Himself in the obscurity of faith.
In January, 1937, Father Lithard, C.S.Sp., sent the following statement of his exact opinion on the special illumination of the Holy Ghost to the editor of La Vie spirituelle.
La Vie spirituelle for November 1 published a short article on the occasion of a note which appeared under my name in the Revue d' ascetique et de mystique. I should like to add some precise statements to that note, and I trust that you will accept them as readily as did Father Garrigou-Lagrange when I spoke to him about the question in which I referred to him. I shall be brief.
I readily agree with Father Garrigou-Lagrange about the distinction that should be made between the helps which strengthen our personal initiative and those which manifest the divine initiative. In the first, the mode is purely human and we have no experience of it; the others, on the contrary, bear the mark of the gifts through which we receive them; they are "instinctive," and we are easily aware of them. We have experience of passivity.
But I pointed out that the helps received through the gifts do not all seem to be of the same nature, a point which Father Garrigou-Lagrange does not seem disposed to concede. Why, he says, "would special illumination not suffice" in the second case as well as in the first? My answer is this: because the experience of the mystics seems clearly to demand another kind of illumination in infused contemplation. Whereas hitherto, under the plainly instinctive action of graces, either of prayer or of action, they have been conscious only of their own acts, - acts, moreover, which are within their capacity, abstraction being made of instinctive delight, with the sole helps conceded to their personal initiative - in infused contemplation they have, in addition, the consciousness of being in contact with God, to the extent that they speak with assurance of seeing, feeling, touching God. And, on doing so, they no longer refer only to the passivity of this specific act which is beyond all human power. For this reason we declare that these acts are doubly infused and supernatural. And it is at this point that these fortunate privileged souls speak of a distinctly new, additional experience, introducing them as it were into another world: what they knew by faith, they taste in faith. Evidently it is the gifts which serve to receive these graces, since they are by their nature, as Father Garrigou-Lagrange willingly agrees, habitus receptivi, and not operativi, as the virtues are.
Must we not, moreover, admit, beyond indistinct infused contemplation, helps of another nature for distinct infused contemplation, which requires infused species that render it extraordinary? God is rich, and therefore varied in His gifts.
But I quite willingly admit with Father Garrigou-Lagrange that the transitions are divinely gentle, at first scarcely perceptible insinuations, whose nature is shrouded in distant mystery and reveals itself only progressively. Is this not true in all God's works? If it is hard to say where one color ends and another begins in the work of nature, must we be astonished at our ignorance in the work of grace?
In the preceding pages we have already answered the questions asked in Father Lithard's letter. To complete the subject we shall add the following observations.
I. To explain the new element in infused contemplation, we must recall the specific difference between the gifts of the Holy Ghost and the Christian virtues; emphasizing the fact that the gifts dispose us to receive the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost which moves us, above discursive deliberation, to infused acts to which we could not have moved ourselves deliberately by the virtues alone with the help of actual cooperating grace. Thus, we said, there is a notable difference, and more than a difference of degree, in the progress of a boat by dint of rowing or under the impulse of a favorable wind, although at times the breeze favors the work of the rowers without rendering it useless. Similarly, the gifts are exercised in a latent manner in the ascetical life, and at times in a manifest but rare manner; when their influence becomes at once frequent and manifest to an experienced director, then the mystical life begins. This life is quite easily discerned by the three signs which St. John of the Cross gives of the passive purification of the senses, in which, he says, infused contemplation begins.(22)
We also pointed out that the new character of infused contemplation appears more clearly when one passes from discursive meditation (symbolized, for example, by the noria) to consoled quiet; (23) whereas this new character stands out less clearly when one passes, as ordinarily happens, from discursive meditation to the arid quiet of the passive night of the senses.
2. We admit a great variety in the gifts, since each has its distinct specification. For example, among the intellectual gifts, that of counsel, which is of a purely practical order, supplies for the imperfections of even infused prudence; the gift of knowledge, which is often exercised in the aridity of the night of the senses, shows us either the nothingness of creatures and the gravity of sin, or the symbolism of sensible things in relation to divine things. The gift of understanding gives us a special penetration of the truths of faith as happens particularly in the night of the spirit in spite of the great spiritual aridity found therein. Lastly, the gift of wisdom gives us a quasi-experiential knowledge of the presence of God in us by the wholly filial affection, by the infused love, which God inspires in us for Himself. (24)
3. We have also often pointed out that in certain mystical souls the intellectual gifts, even that of wisdom, do not intervene under the form of a brilliant light, as in the great contemplatives, but under the form of a diffused light which is, nevertheless, very precious, for it illumines all things from above, in particular one's conduct and the good to be done to souls. This is the case, for example, in the entire apostolic life of St. Vincent de Paul.
4. What we do not admit is that one and the same habitus, like that of the gift of wisdom, is ordained to acts of a different nature in such a way that the ordinary mode of the first would not be ordained to the extraordinary mode of the second. The unity of the habitus would no longer be safeguarded. We explained our thought in this matter in La Vie spirituelle,(25) and we need not repeat it here. Suffice it to state here that St. Thomas clearly admits that the same gift, for example, that of wisdom, has acts that differ notably on earth and in heaven, but the earthly mode in the obscurity of faith is essentially ordained to the celestial mode, which will be found in the clarity of vision; thus, the unity of the habitus is safeguarded. It would not be so otherwise.
The gifts dispose us to receive a special inspiration, but in view of a determined operation having a formal object, which specifies one gift rather than another. By the gifts, St. Thomas says, we are more passive than active, but each is a habitus receptivus, ordained to a special action and not to actions of different natures.(26) It is thus that contemplation, to which the gift of wisdom is ordained, merits by its very nature the name of "infused," since we cannot obtain it by our own efforts and it absolutely requires a special inspiration or illumination of the Holy Ghost, which we can only receive, as the earth receives the desired rain.
We are not speaking here of the more or less extraordinary phenomena that accidentally accompany infused contemplation, or of the occasionally simultaneous influence of certain graces gratis datae. But we are speaking of what is essentially required for infused contemplation, which has, moreover, many degrees, from the passive night of the senses up to the transforming union.
To avoid all confusion, all these questions should be distinguished from one another. This being the case, we say that, according to St. Thomas and St. John of the Cross, the full normal actualization of the gift of wisdom deserves the name of infused contemplation, properly so called, and that without this contemplation the full normal actualization of this gift does not yet exist. We do not believe that a Thomist can deny this proposition.
5. We have also established at length (27) that, according to St. Thomas and St. John of the Cross, infused contemplation does not demand infused species or infused ideas, but only the infused light of the gifts of understanding and wisdom, or the special illumination which they dispose us to receive. Replying to Father Lithard,(28) we showed that the texts from St. Thomas on the mystical knowledge of Adam in the state of innocence do not permit us to affirm anything additional. The light of wisdom, which he speaks of in De veritate, (29) is clearly the infused light of the gift of wisdom, which he treats of ex professo in the Summa.(30)
Moreover, in his letter Father Lithard, in order to characterize he distinctly new experience of mystics "which introduces them into another world," says: "What they knew by faith, they taste in faith." This is, strictly speaking, the quasi-experiential knowledge which, according to St. Thomas, proceeds from the gift of wisdom and makes faith sweet. In these spiritual tastes, so different from sensible consolations, there are, besides, many degrees, from the initial infused contemplation of the passive night of the senses up to that of the transforming union.
If essentially mystical contemplation required a special light other than that to which the gift of wisdom normally disposes us, there might be a great non-mystical contemplative who would have a high degree of the gift of wisdom without this special particularity and, inversely, there might be a mystic who would not have the eminent exercise of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, but only a charismatic light suggestive rather of graces gratis datae.
6. In our writings on these subjects over a period of twenty years we have pointed out that, as a rule, the persons who adhere to the doctrine that we consider traditional are especially those who have experience of infused contemplation, and that many of those who do not adhere to this doctrine admit that they have not this experience. But they seek to imagine it according to their reading, and question the meaning of the terms used by the mystics: to see God, to feel Him, to touch Him. It is not indeed a question of the immediate vision of God as He is but, as St. Thomas says, of a quasi-experiential knowledge of God in the infused love which He inspires in us for Himself.(31)
In that part of his letter where he says, as it were incidentally, "abstraction being made of instinctive delight," Father Lithard recognizes that this delight is not within our capability or in our power, but that it is infused. Is it then something negligible? And is it not precisely because of this delight that farther on in the same letter he can write: "The fortunate privileged souls speak of a distinctly new, additional experience, introducing them as it were into another world: what they knew by faith, they taste in faith"? This is what St. Thomas always calls the essential effect of the gift of wisdom, when he quotes the well-known text: "Taste, and see that the Lord is sweet." (32)
7. Father Lithard thinks that the masters of the spiritual life have given us the general principles, but have left us the task of stating them precisely: a question of progress in this branch of theology, as in dogmatic and moral theology.
We believe that masters like St. Thomas, St. John of the Cross, and St. Francis de Sales, have given us more than general principles,
and that we are still far from a full comprehension of what their works contain on these difficult questions. Before setting ourselves
the task of completing their work, we must try to understand thoroughly what they have written. In particular the author of
We must always revert to the definition of infused contemplation
given by St. John of the Cross in The Dark Night, a definition that is
so conformable to the teaching of St. Thomas: "Contemplation is the
science of love, which is an infused loving knowledge of God." (33) In
this definition St. John does not speak of a direct and immediate
intuition of the supernatural gifts of grace and of the infused
virtues, an intuition which, moreover, would give us a certitude of
being in the state of grace before even reaching the transforming
union. For all these reasons we maintain here what we stated about the
intimate nature of infused contemplation in articles 3-6, chapter 4 of
Christian Perfection and Contemplation.
1. On the subject of mystical contemplation we read in the Revue d'ascetique et de mystique (April, 1936, p. 175): "It is the experience of a new presence of God. . . . This knowledge is so evidently new that all contemplatives are at first wonderstruck by its beauty, grandeur, and sweetness. If uneasiness soon begins to develop in the soul that fears illusion, it is never experienced in the very act itself of this contact with God which brings with it certitude and peace. It is no longer a question here of greater or less differences in what has been experienced up to this point; the experience is completely distinct from all that has been felt up to this moment." V. Lithard, C.S.Sp.
The author adds: "The theory of Canon Saudreau and of Father Garrigou Lagrange seems insufficient here; this grace is not only eminent; it is, without being extraordinary, of a different nature."
Do inspiration and special illumination, received with docility through the gifts of understanding and wisdom, no longer suffice here, contrary to the teaching of so many great masters on these gifts and on infused prayer? The author seems to say so; nevertheless, according to him, there is no need of the angelic species, which, he says, was explicitly rejected by St. Thomas (De veritate, q. 18, a. I); but he has recourse to the light of grace of which St. .Thomas speaks in connection with the mystical knowledge Adam had while still innocent: "By a certain spiritual light and a divine influx into the mind of man, which was like an expressed similitude of uncreated light, he saw God" (De veritate, q. 18, a. I); "By this mode he [Adam in his innocence] knew God not from visible creatures, but from a certain spiritual similitude impressed on his mind" (ibid., a.2). St. Thomas says in the same reference, two lines above: "From the perfection of grace, man in the state of innocence had the power to know God through interior inspiration from the radiation of divine wisdom."
It remains to be known in what this interior inspiration differs from the more or less elevated special inspiration which the gifts of understanding and wisdom dispose us to receive. This special inspiration of the gifts of understanding and wisdom is not made by means of sensible things (such as preaching), but is purely spiritual and is above discourse or reasoning. It will be difficult, therefore, to show that between it and the light of grace, which Adam had in his innocence, there is a difference not only of degree, but of nature. Moreover, in this same question 18 of De veritate (a. I ad 4um). St. Thomas says with regard to Adam in his innocence: "In contemplation God is seen through a medium, which is the light of wisdom elevating the mind to discern divine things" (it is the light of the gift of wisdom). And St. Thomas adds: "And thus by grace God is seen by the contemplative after the state of sin, although more perfectly in the state of innocence." This text is important.
2 The Interior Castle, fourth mansion, chap. 2.
3. Ibid., chap. I; The
Way of Perfection, chap. 31.
5. Life, by herself, chaps. 14, 18.
6. Bk. I, chap. 9.
7. Reponses (2nd ed.; Paris, 1665), pp. 508 ff.
8. Bossuet says at the end of this admirable opuscule: "After the purgation of the soul by the purgatory of sufferings, through which it must necessarily pass, will come illumination, repose, joy, through intimate union with God, who will render this world, exile though it be, like a paradise for the soul".
Frequent meditation on this little work of Bossuet, will show that it
differs notably from what he had said in Instructions sur les etats d'oraison (no. 22),
In the opuscule of which we are speaking, Bossuet says of the prayer of simplicity that "the soul, through its fidelity in mortifying and recollecting itself, ordinarily receives it." The second phase of this prayer is infused: "Therefore leaving reasoning, the soul makes use of a sweet contemplation, which holds it peaceful, attentive, susceptible to the divine operations and impressions which the Holy Ghost communicates to it. It does little and receives much. . . . The less the creature works, the more powerfully God operates. . . . The divine influences enrich the soul with all sorts of virtues.
9. Cf. Note sur la contemplation acquire chez les theologiens du Carmel, by Father Gabriel of St. Magdalen, CD., reproduced in our book, Perfection chretienne et contemplation, II, 745-68.
10. Summa, Ia IIae, q.68, a. I: "Man needs yet higher perfections whereby to be disposed to be moved by God." The inspiratio specialis is not only motio quoad exercitium, but also regulatio superior to that of reason enlightened by faith.
11. Summa, Ia IIae, q.III, a.2: "In that effect in which our mind is moved and does not move, but in which God is the sole mover, the operation is attributed to God, and it is with reference to this that we speak of operating grace. But in that effect in which our mind both moves and is moved, the operation is not only attributed to God, but also to the soul; and it is with reference to this that we speak of cooperating grace."
In Christian Perfection and Contemplation (pp. 290-94), we
explained this difference at length. See also ibid., pp. 272-77, on
the specific distinction between the gifts and even the infused
virtues, a distinction based on their formal motive. Their formal
motive is the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which is the
immediate rule of the act of the gifts; it is a superhuman direction
which has as a consequence a superhuman mode of acting. This is
evident when it is a question of the act of the gift of counsel,
superior to the act of infused prudence. This is also the case in the
inspiration of the gifts of understanding and wisdom, which leads to
an act of penetrating and sweet
faith (called an infused act), notably different from the act of faith
12. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, 8: 15 f.
13. Luke 24: 32.
14. Rom. 8:26.
15. Summa, IIa IIae, q.45, a. I, 2. Article I speaks of special
Article 2 deals with the connaturalness which special inspiration
manifest to us how greatly the mysteries of faith correspond to our
16. Summa, Ia IIae, q. III, a. 2. Ct. supra, I, 91-93.
17. Summa, Ia IIae, q.68, a. 1, 2, 3.
18. Life, chaps. 15-19.
19. Cf. Perfection cbretienne et contemplation, II, first appendix, pp.  and p. . Does mystical contemplation require infused ideas? The texts from the works of St. Thomas and those of St. John of the Cross enable us to reply in the negative.
20. De veritate, q. 18, a. I ad 4. Cf. also, IIa IIae, q.5, a. I ad I um; Ia, q.94, a. 1 ad 3 um.
21. Summa, Ia IIae, q. III, a. 5: "Sanctifying grace is nobler than gratia gratis data." Therefore if mystical contemplation, properly so called, depended on prophetic light or any other gratia gratis data, since the latter is inferior to the grace of the virtues and gifts, it might happen that a great contemplative was not a mystic and a person only meagerly endowed with contemplation was very mystical, for the first would have the gifts in a very high degree, but without prophetic light, and the second would have this light without a high degree of the gifts.
22. The Dark Night, Bk. I, chaps. 8, 9, 14.
23. The Interior Castle, fourth mansion.
24. Cf. St. Thomas, Comm. in Ep. ad Rom., 8: 16.
25. October I, 1933. Cf. supra, I, 78-82.
26. The seven gifts cannot be specified, as Father Lithard would wish, by simple receptivity, independently of the formal object of their acts. Were this true, two gifts would suffice, one in the intellect and the other in the will, to enable these faculties to receive the divine impulsion. As a matter of fact, there are seven specifically distinct gifts.
27. Perfection chretienne et contemplation, 7th ed., II, -.
28. La Vie spirituelle, November, 1936, pp. ff.
29. Q.18,a.1 ad 4um.
30. Cf. IIa IIae, q.45.
31. Cf. St. Thomas, ln Ep. ad Rom., 8: 16: "The Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God by the effect of filial love which He produces in us." The texts of St. Thomas relative to the quasiexperiential knowledge of God through the gift of wisdom have been assembled several times; we did so in The Love of God and the Cross of Jesus, I, 140-73, when treating this question ex professo.
32. Ps. 33:9.