When God lives in the soul, it should surrender itself completely to His providence. When the soul lives in God, it must take trouble to obtain for itself regularly and carefully, every possible means to achieve union with Him. The whole procedure is marked out – the readings, the examinations of conscience, the resolutions. Its guide is always present, everything is by rule, even the hours for conversation.
When God lives in the soul, it has nothing left of self, but only that which the Spirit imparts to it moment by moment. Nothing is provided for the future, no road is mapped out, but the soul is like a child who can be lead wherever one pleases, and has nothing but feeling to distinguish what is offered to it. No more books with marked passages for these souls; often they are even deprived of a regular spiritual director, for God allows them no other support than Himself. They dwell in darkness, forgotten and deserted, in death and nothingness. They suffer distresses and miseries without knowing where to find relief. Keeping their eyes toward Heaven alone, they wait peacefully and without fear for help to come. And God, who seeks no purer disposition in His loved ones than this entire surrender of self-interest in order to live by grace and divine operation alone, provides them with the necessary books, thoughts, self-understanding, advice and wise counsel. Everything that others discover by diligent searching these souls find in self-surrender. What others store up with care so they can find it again, these souls receive the very moment there is need of it, and afterwords they relinquish it again, taking only what God is willing to give, in order to live through Him alone.
Others undertake an infinity of good works for the glory of God, but these souls are often cast aside in a corner of the world like bits of broken crockery, apparently of no use to anyone. There these souls, forsaken by men but enjoying God with a very real, true and passionate, though deeply tranquil love, attempt nothing by their own impulse. They know only that they must surrender themselves and remain in God’s hands to be used by Him as He pleases. Often they do not know of what use they might be, but God knows well. The world considers them of no account, but it is nonetheless true that in mysterious ways and through hidden channels these souls spread abroad an infinite amount of grace on persons who often are unaware of them, people of whom these souls may themselves be unaware.
In these surrendered souls everything effectively preaches the Good News of the Gospel. God gives their silence, their quiet, their self-forgetfulness, their words and their gestures a certain virtue, which unknown to themselves, works in the hearts of those around them; and, just as they are guided by the random actions of innumerable creatures that are unknowingly influenced by grace, they themselves, in their turn, are used to support and guide others without any direct acquaintance with them or knowledge that this is what they are doing.
It is God who works in them in unforeseen and often unknown impulses. In this way they are like Jesus, from whom went out a secret virtue for the healing of others. There is this difference between Him and them: often they are not conscious of the outflow of this virtue and contribute nothing by way of co-operation. It is like a hidden balm which men perceive without recognizing, and which is itself unaware of its own healing virtue.
Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade – Click here to learn more about the writings of Father de Caussade.
Art for this post on when the soul lives in God: Cover of Abandonment to Divine Providence courtesy of Dan Burke. Christ Detail from Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, Heinrich Hofmann, 1 June 1889, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.