Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, August 07, 2017

This Book of Life

(5) God continues to write his work in our hearts, but the characters will not be seen until the day of judgment. 

...We are now living in a time of faith. The Holy Spirit writes no more gospels except in our hearts. All we do from moment to moment is live this new gospel of the Holy Spirit. We, if we are holy, are the paper; our sufferings and our actions are the ink. The workings of the Holy Spirit are his pen, and with it he writes a living gospel; but it will never be read until that last day of glory when it leaves the printing press of this life. 
And what a splendid book it will be - the book the Holy Spirit is still writing! The book is on press and never a day passes when type is not set, ink applied and pages pulled. But we remain in the light of faith. The paper is blacker than the ink and the type is pied; the language is not of this world and we understand nothing. We shall be able to read it only in heaven. We could understand something of the complexity of God's activity if we could see our fellow humans not just as they appear superficially but in their very essence and see, too, how God is working on and within them. Yet there are difficulties. How can we read this book when its letters are unknown, of infinite variety and upside down, and its pages smeared with ink? Just think what an infinite number of different and worthwhile books are produced by the mixing up of twenty-six letters. We cannot understand this wonder, so how can we comprehend what God is doing in the universe? How can we read and understand so vast a book, one in which every single letter has its own special meaning and, within its tiny shape, contains the most profound mysteries? We can neither see nor feel these mysteries. Only by faith can they be known.  
And it is by their origin that faith judges how true and good they are, for in themselves these mysteries are so obscure that our mere reason can understand nothing of them.
So teach me, Holy Spirit, to read in this book of life! I long to become your disciple and, like a little child, to believe in what I cannot see. It is enough for me that my master speaks. He talks and explains, arranges the letters of the book and makes it comprehensible. That is all I need. I am convinced that everything is just as he says, although I cannot see why. But I know he is truth itself and he says nothing but the truth. He puts letters together to make a word, assembles more to form another. There are perhaps only three or six. But they are exactly right. Any different number would make nonsense. After all, he alone knows the thoughts of men, and so he alone can put them into words. Everything is significant and everything makes perfect sense. A line ends because he wants it to. There is not a single comma missing, or one full stop too many. Although I believe now, when the day of glory dawns the secrets of so many mysteries will be shown during my earthly life. What now seems to me so confused, so incoherent, so foolish and so fanciful will then delight and entrance me by its order, its beauty, its wisdom and the incomprehensible wonders I shall explore for all eternity. 
--Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence
This is a lovely little book that I borrowed from my brother's shelf last week. It is imperative for my spiritual life that I always have a devotional book going lest I grow weary. As some need the rosary, I need words and images to direct my prayers and meditations. "Drug of choice" jokes are cliché, but I really do see a change in the structure and quality of my spiritual life when I leave off reading, or when I'm between books and haven't settled on the next thing. "Know thyself" -- myself must read, or perish.

Abandonment to Divine Providence is a word in season. The measure of a devotional book is whether it takes root past the moment of reading to bear fruit in the moment of action. This book, this week, has turned me away many times from unproductive or actively sinful courses of thought and redirected me toward Jesus.

(3) Every moment is crammed with infinite riches which are given us according to the extent of our faith and love.
 Once we can grasp that each moment contains some sign of the will of God, we shall find in it all we can possibly desire, for there is nothing more reasonable, more excellent, more holy that his will. Can any variations of time, place or circumstance add anything to its infinite value? If you are taught the secret of finding its presence in every moment of our lives, then you possess all that is most precious and supremely worthwhile. What is it that you want - those of you seeking perfection? Give your desires free reign, setting absolutely no limits, no boundaries to them. Listen to me: let your hearts demand the infinite, for I can tell you how to fill them. There is never one moment in which I cannot show you how to find whatever you can desire. The present moment is always overflowing with immeasurable riches, far more than you are able to hold. Your faith will measure it out to you: as you believe, so you will receive. Love, too, is also a measure. The more you love the more you will want and the more you will get. Every moment the will of God is stretched out before us like a vast ocean which the desires of our hearts can never empty, but more and more of it will be ours as our souls grow in in faith in trust and in love. The entire universe cannot fill and satisfy our hearts, for they are greater than all apart from God. Mountains which overawe us are but tiny grains to our hearts. We must draw upon that will veiled and hidden beneath every little detail of our lives and shall find there a fullness, an amplitude infinitely more vast than all our longings. Fawn upon on one and have no illusions. They can do nothing for us. The will of God alone can satisfy us. That is what we must adore and drive direct toward it, casting aside all superficialities. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I read this book a few years back and I think I am the one who gave it to William.