Bearing with Oneself

A soul to which God has revealed its shortcomings is far more of a burden to itself than its neighbour can be.  For, however near he be, that neighbour is not always by our side, while in no case is he within us.  We are our own burden, on the other hand; we cannot escape ourselves for a single moment, nor lose ourselves from sight and feeling, nor cease from trailing everywhere we go our imperfections and our failings.  The supreme manifestation of God’s infinite goodness lies in the fact that the sorrow and the shame these failings cause us, cure us of them, always provided that the shame does not become vexation and that the sorrow is inspired by love of God and not by self-love. Sorrow born of self-love is full of perturbation and bitterness: far from healing our soul’s wounds it serves only to pour poison into them. On the contrary, sorrow springing from love of God is serene and full of abandonment. While it abhors the fault, it delights in the humiliation which is its sequel: as a consequence it gives all the credit to the humiliation, thus making loss itself an opportunity for gain. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 188-189 (emphasis mine)

When we practice patience with our faults, not only do we gain peace, but humility as well. Knowing that we fall far from God’s perfect nature, knowing that we are mere creatures of the most high God should release us from the burden to be flawless. As with any virtue, patience is a habit that we must practice. Reflecting on God’s gentleness and mercy can help us to be patient with ourselves.  For if God, who never makes mistakes, is patient with our faults, who are we to do any less?

No longer, then, torment yourself on account of your failings and of the imperfection of your works.  Make God an offering of the sorrow that imperfection brings you, and allow his merciful Providence to redeem these small infidelities by small afflictions and troubles of every kind.  Let patience be your one weapon; after a fall pick yourself up as speedily as possible, lamenting the tumble only with meek and tranquil humility. God wills it thus. Moreover, by such unwearied patience, you render him more glory and yourself make more progress than you could ever do by the most violent effort. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 189 (emphasis mine)

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To Suffer Humbly

Know…that you are to thank God, as though for a grace, for what you suffer meanly and weakly, that is to say, without much courage.  At such times you feel overcome by your ills, upon the verge of giving way to them, inclined to grumble about them and to yield to the rebelliousness of your human nature.  Indeed, this is a true grace and a great grace at that, since to suffer this is to suffer with humility and with no great spirit.  If, instead, you feel a measure of courage, a measure of strength and conscious resignation, your heart is puffed up by these, and you become, yourself unaware, full of trust in yourself, interiorly proud and presumptuous. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg 298 [Fr. de Caussade is writing to Sr. Marie-Thérèse de Vioménil] (emphasis mine)

God is so good to us! Where at once we are inclined to condemn ourselves because we do not suffer with quiet humility as the Saints did, we can take comfort in God that he would keep us from the sin of pride were we to laud the accomplishment of suffering well.

Fr. de Caussade continues to encourage Sr. de Vioménil:

In such a state as yours, however, we draw near to God, altogether weak, humiliated and disconcerted at having suffered so feebly.  This truth is sure and comforting, essentially interior, and little known.  Remember it on all those occasions upon which, feeling more keenly the weight of your tribulations and sufferings, you feel your weakness also, looking always inward in peace and simplicity to all that God wills; for this is the most satisfying way of suffering. You must apply this rule in every painful ordeal, and recall it particularly in the midst of those daily difficulties that come your way through the person you find trying, and at all times when you feel antagonistic towards others. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg. 298-299 (emphasis mine)

Fr. de Caussade describes this truth as “little known”.  To save us from our wretched self-love, God mercifully works in and through us though we do not perceive it.

Surrendering Our Ideals

Not a few of the devout, wedded to their own ideas, headstrong in their supposed renunciation, far from mortified in their mortifications, are driven to commit many faults through ignorance or forgetfulness of this truth. What illusion they harbour not to realize that self-love spoils and corrupts the most holy of practices! Whoever, out of love of God, shall once renounce will, judgement and ideas shall make great progress in the ways of true and lasting perfection. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence , pg. 223 (emphasis mine)

Are we hanging on to our ideals? In other words, are we clinging to what we think our lives should look like? Or are we accepting all the circumstances that God offers us in an effort to trust in him more completely?

Fr. de Caussade goes on to explain how we can renounce our own desires:

Henceforth use your intelligence and your reason solely to learn what is required of you, and do it with ready cheerfulness, utter trust in God and complete surrender to his mercy. This trust will come to you easily as soon as your one ambition is to do his holy will. -from Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, pg 223-224 (emphasis mine)

When our lives don’t look like we think they should, we may become discouraged. Unfortunately, discouragement can unwittingly foster our self-love if we try to “fix” things ourselves.

But God is not only asking us to accept our present circumstances as difficult as they may be, but he also asks us to be at peace about our weakness and sin. This is not a license to become complacent about our piety, but rather an opportunity to recognize our wretchedness which causes us to grow in humility.

And so to completely “surrender to his mercy”, we must peacefully lay our feelings of inadequacy at the feet of Jesus, confident in his love and trusting in his desire to heal us in his perfect time.

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)