The devil knows that the soul whose heart is fixed on God is lost to hell, so he must drag the gaze back from God to self.
But when it comes to someone who has arrived at some measure of strongly conscious spirituality, who has proved a willingness to suffer for God and his truth, the devil must find subtler ways: he must find something which resembles God in this — that it is always present.
What could be better than self? — and what more certain to imprison and ultimately obsess a sensitive soul than awareness of something wrong with self?
Somehow or other the soul must be made to strive to attain a certain level of holiness, a certain peace or at least untroubledness, before abandoning itself to God. It will be held back by this, prevented from seeing more and more the beauty of God. The devil knows that the soul whose heart is fixed on God is lost to hell, so he must drag the gaze back from God to self. He whispers, through a clergyman or friend, or just your own prompting: "You are doing wrong. Of course you have no peace; you are putting your peace of soul before the happiness of better souls, anyway" — and so on and so on. If you listen, you half agree; you begin again to examine your motives; you let conflict and anxiety rage in you — which is in itself exhausting. A vicious circle begins: you are too tired to pray; you think all consolation has been taken from you, aridity sets in....
I feel sure that the treatment is to ignore the suggestions. Even ignore your own soul: keep your mind on God, on his love....
Do not wait until you feel not uneasy; do not wait to be doing a more prayerful act; do not wait to feel more unity and completeness: offer yourself, your will to do right, your anxiety about not doing it, your being interrupted just now, the act of taking So-and-so's temperature — all, just as it is, to God. Leave it to God to transform all this into himself. It's all you've got, and he gave it to you.
Caryll Houselander. "Casting Out the Demons." excerpt from The Letters Of Caryll Houselander: Her Spiritual Legacy (Sheed and Ward, New York, 1965).
Reproduced by kind permission of Continuum International Publishing Group, a Bloomsbury Company. This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in October 2012.
Caryll Houselander (1901-1954) was a British Roman Catholic laywoman; a mystic, writer, artist, visionary and healer. Her first book, This War is the Passion, written during World War II, launched her prolific writing career. She is best known for: A Rocking Horse Catholic, The Reed of God, The Way of the Cross, This War is the Passion, The Risen Christ, The Letters Of Caryll Houselander: Her Spiritual Legacy, and Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross: The Little Way of the Infant Jesus.Copyright © 1965 Caryll Houselander
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