This is the obstacle most likely to impede divine action, namely, that which is found in the soul itself, for in the case of external obstacles the divine action can, when it chooses, convert them into useful means. Everything is equally useful and useless to it. Without it everything is as nothing, and with it nothing becomes everything.
Meditation, contemplation, vocal prayers, interior silence, acts of the faculties of the soul, whether accompanied by emotional feelings, and whether distinctly or less clearly perceived, a life of retirement or an active one, all these things may be valuable in themselves, but the best of all for the soul is what God wills at this particular moment, and all else must be regarded by the soul with perfect indifference as being nothing at all.
Thus, seeing only God in all things, the soul must take or leave them all at his will so as to live, to grow, and to hope only in his designs, and not in things which have no power or value except through him. It must say like Saint Paul always and of everything: "Lord, what will you have me do?" Not this thing or that, but: "All that you wish!" The mind likes one thing: the body another, but, Lord, I desire nothing but your holy will. Prayer or action, vocal or mental prayer, whether active or passive, in the darkness of faith or in the light of understanding, with a special gift of grace or by ordinary grace, all these things are as nothing, Lord, for it is your will that gives them all their real and sole value. Your will alone is the object of my devotion, and not created things, however elevated and sublime they may be; for the fulfillment of grace is the perfection of the heart and not of the mind.
Father Jean Pierre de Caussade, S.J. "Why We Say Yes to the Dinner Invitation." excerpt from The Joy of Full Surrender (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2008).
Reprinted with permission from Paraclete Press.
This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in November 2012.
Father Jean Pierre de Caussade, S.J. (1675-1751) was a French Jesuit priest and writer known for his work Abandonment to Divine Providence (also translated as The Joy of Full Surrender) and his posthumously-published letters of instruction to the Nuns of the Visitation at Nancy, Spiritual Letters of Jean-Pierre De Caussade, where he was spiritual director from 1733–1740. He also spent years as preacher in southern and central France, as a college rector (at Perpignan and at Albi), and as the director of theological students at the Jesuit house in Toulouse.
Copyright © 2008 Paraclete Press