Our True Self is God

In fact, why be so concerned with self? The true self is God, since he is far more the life of my soul than my soul is the life of my body. God has created me only for himself: let our thought then be of him, and his thought shall be of us, while he will provide for everything far better than ourselves. When we fall, let us humiliate ourselves, pick ourselves up, and continue our way in peace. That way is at all times to ponder upon the true self which is God — God in whom we must plunge and lose ourselves, rather as we shall find ourselves plunged and lost in heaven, in the everlasting duration of eternity’s great day. — Amen! Amen!”from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 430-431

If our very self is God as we are made in his image and likeness, should not our very core — our soul — be wholly united to our creator?  We were not made for our own glory or our own path; for as Fr. de Caussade writes, our creator made us for his own glory that sets us on a path which, if we follow — or at the very start, desire to follow — will bring us wholly in union with him alone.

This path includes detachment from all created things for Christ is begotten, not made; it includes suffering as we unite with our sinless Christ who suffered for us, who deserve only hell; it includes persecution as we stand for truth, of which there is only one found in our Lord Jesus Christ. But it is only on this path that we  find true happiness, everlasting peace, and eternal life.

For if we do not renounce all that comes between us and God, we will always be searching for the only thing we desire. I would venture that most do not recognize what will bring them lasting peace. But whether we recognize it or not, the only thing we truly desire is full union with God since our very selves are God.

God calls us to a greater life, even though we are wholly unworthy. We would only settle for the lesser things of this world if we do not know him.

When We Feel That We Are Abandoning Ourselves to God Poorly

You love, you say, meanly and poorly–blessed be the poor in spirit. This is but an evidence of your interior humility and holy self-hatred.–Your life, you say too, has no props; that is to say it is lived in pure spirit and pure faith.–What happier state than that, though its happiness be hidden from the soul?–You walk blindly and at hazard, you remark.–In this lies pure self-abandonment: you do not feel it; you are not even aware of it, since if you felt and were aware of it, it would be not self-abandonment but the firmest guarantee of your salvation that you could desire. For what greater assurance could you have than the knowledge that throughout time and eternity you are surrendered to God? Self-abandonment is a virtue whose full merit can be acquired only in so far as you are ignorant of the existence of the merit. Live then at peace in the midst of your fears, your difficulties and your obscurities. Let your trust, which must ask neither to see nor to feel be altogether in God, in and through Jesus Christ. I pray that he may be always with you. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 267-268 [Fr. de Caussade responding to Sr. de Bousmard ] (emphasis mine)

We don’t know exactly what Sr. de Bousmard wrote to Fr. de Caussade, but perhaps she was lamenting how she did not  feel she was advancing in the spiritual life. Fr. de Caussade notes to her that God may well be hiding any progress that she is making so that she clings to Him all the more.

God may keep us from knowing the true extent of our piety also to save us from our pride. We will know we are growing in virtue by whether we are moving toward God. Knowing our state in the spiritual life, save for sin, is not as important as seeking God and his holy will in all things.

Trusting in God Instead of Our Merits

The fear of death and the judgement is good, provided it does not go so far as to trouble and disturb you; if it did so it would be an illusion of the devil.  After all, why should you be troubled?  Because you have not yet done what you have not been able to do?  Does God demand the impossible?  Beware here; the point is a very delicate one, for it looks as if there were a desire to acquire merits in order to trust in them.  That is not true confidence which can only be founded on the mercy of God and the infinite merits of Jesus Christ.  Any other confidence would be vain and presumptuous, being based on our own nothingness and I know not what wretched good works that are worthless in the eyes of God.  Without counting in any way on ourselves, we must try to accomplish all that he asks of us and hope only in his goodness and the merits of Jesus Christ his Son.  -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 176 (emphasis mine)

Our works are not our own, save for sin. The things that we are unable to accomplish are not about our abilities or lack of, as much as they are about God working in our lives in a unique and particular way. It is God who gives or takes away talent and ability. He does this not to make us unhappy, but rather to draw us nearer to him. The closer we are to God, the more we focus on him.  He desperately wants us to join him in Heaven, but he knows that we must first seek his kingdom.

 

Humility

The one cure for repeated unfaithfulness is to lament it, to be peacefully humble over it, and to turn again to God as soon as may be.  Until we die life’s difficulties and humiliations will be with us because of our besetting ingratitude and unfaithfulness. Yet provided that this is the result of our weakness of nature without affection of the heart, all is well. For God recognizes our weakness; he is aware of our wretchedness and our powerlessness to shun all unfaithfulness.  He perceives, further, that it is for our good to be reduced to that pitiful state since, failing it, we should be unable to resist the assaults of presumptuous pride and of secret trust in ourselves. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 198 (emphasis mine)

Hopefully these words give us great peace. When we realize that we are powerless “to shun all unfaithfulness” toward God, the burden to rely on ourselves is lifted, and what we are left with is humility.

Father de Caussade continues and explains that we will always have our imperfect natures unto death, but by embracing our shortcomings, Jesus cannot refuse us:

O God! How insidious is self-love!  Go in dread of this accursed self-love, remembering that, despite every effort of yours, it will die finally and irretrievably only in that last moment of your life. Offer no resistance, therefore, but allow the self to be abased, humiliated and destroyed.  there is nothing more calculated to purify the soul, nor can you bring to Holy communion a frame of mind more harmonious with that state of obliteration to which Jesus Christ is reduced in that mystery.  He will be unable to repulse you when you come into his presence with abysmal wretchedness and in humility verging on self-annihilation. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 199 (emphasis mine)

Where Can We Find God?

Summarized in his book Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Father Michael Gaitley, MIC writes the following three-part definition of St. Teresa of Avila’s prayer of recollection, “(1) a particularly effective form of prayer that always lies within our power to practice (2) by which we keep the Lord interiorly present (3) by gazing on him or speaking with him there.”

How can we keep God present in our life apart from our prayer times? Often, we may find that we compartmentalize God because, frankly, it’s difficult to recollect upon God when we are immersed in our day-to-day duties and leisure’s of life. And yet, St. Teresa calls the prayer of recollection, “One of the best ways to develop a deeper life of prayer…”

The way that we can reconcile this seeming paradox is by the following from Father de Caussade: 

“There is no moment at which God does not present himself under the guise of some suffering, some consolation or some duty.  All that occurs within us, around us and by our means covers and hides his divine action. His action is there, most really and certainly present, but in an invisible manner, the result of which is that we are always being taken by surprise and that we only recognize his operation after it has passed. Could we pierce the veil and were we vigilant and attentive, God would reveal himself continuously to us and we should rejoice in his action in everything that happens to us.”  -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 18-19. (emphasis mine)

Divine action is God. And everything, save for sin, is Divine action. When we think about the interior recollection of God as St. Teresa talked about, we need only look to the present moment to see where God is and how God is offering Himself to us. Suffering. Consolation. Duty.