Coelestis Pastor – Condemning the Errors of Miguel de Molinos, by Pope Innocent XI, 20 November 1687
In order to free the world, prostrate in darkness and bound by numerous pagan errors, from the power of the devil who held it a wretched prisoner after the fall of our first parent, the heavenly shepherd, Christ our Lord, by his ineffable mercy, condescended to take flesh and, as a living victim, offer himself to God for us on the wood of the cross, nailing the guarantee of our redemption to the wood of the cross as a proof of his love for us. Then before returning to heaven he left on earth the Catholic Church his bride, as a new city, a holy Jerusalem, coming down from heaven without wrinkle or spot, one and holy, protected by his mighty weapons against the gates of hell. Its government he entrusted to the prince of the apostles, Peter, and his successors; they are to preserve whole and entire the teaching drawn from his lips, lest the sheep redeemed by his precious blood feed on poisonous ideas and fall back into age-old errors. This power sacred Scripture teaches us he entrusted especially to blessed Peter. For to which of the apostles but Peter did he say: “Feed my sheep.” And again: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when once you have turned, strengthen your brothers.” Therefore, we who occupy Peter’s throne and possess power equal to his, not by our own merits but because of almighty God’s inscrutable wisdom, steadfastly desire that the Christian people embrace that faith proclaimed by Christ our Lord through his apostles in a continuous and uninterrupted tradition; the faith which he promised will endure to the end of the world.
1. Recently it has been brought to the attention of our apostolic office that a certain Miguel de Molinos, under pretext of the prayer of quiet, but actually at variance with the teaching and practice of the holy fathers from the very beginnings, was teaching false doctrines by word and writings, and in practice was following them; these doctrines were leading the faithful from true religion and from the purity of Christian piety into terrible errors and every indecency. Therefore, since we have always been deeply concerned that the souls of the faithful committed to us by God will arrive safely at the hoped-for harbor of salvation by being kept free from such depraved errors, we have ordered, after legitimate investigation, the aforesaid Molinos put in prison. Then in person and in the presence of our honorable brothers, cardinals of the holy Roman Church who had been especially assigned as general inquisitors throughout Christendom, we consulted a number of masters of sacred theology and received their judgment in word and writing, and weighed it carefully. Even imploring the assistance of the Holy Spirit, we have determined to condemn, with the unanimous consent of these our brothers, the following propositions of this same Molinos. He had acknowledged these propositions as his own and had been convicted for dictating, writing, disseminating, and holding them, or had acknowledged his guilt, as is more fully explained in the judicial procedures and verdict issued by our mandate of 28 August 1687.
1. It is necessary that man reduce his own powers to nothingness, and this is the interior way.
2. To wish to operate actively is to offend God, who wishes to be himself the sole agent; and therefore it is necessary to abandon oneself wholly in God and thereafter to continue in existence as an inanimate body.
3. Vows about doing something are impediments to perfection.
4. Natural activity is the enemy of grace, and impedes the operations of God and true perfection, because God wishes to operate in us without us.
5. By doing nothing the soul annihilates itself and returns to its beginning and to its origin, which is the essence of God, in which it remains transformed and divinized, and God then remains in himself, because then the two things are no more united, but are one alone, and in this manner God lives and reigns in us, and the soul annihilates itself in operative being.
6. The interior way is that in which neither light, nor love, nor resignation is recognized, and it is not necessary to understand God, and in this way one makes progress correctly.
7. A soul ought to consider neither the reward, nor punishment, nor paradise, nor hell, nor death, nor eternity.
8. He ought not to wish to know whether he is progressing according to the will of God, or whether or not with the same resigned will he stands still; nor is it necessary that he wish to know his own state or his own nothingness; but he ought to remain as an inanimate body.
9. The soul ought not to remember either itself, or God, or anything whatsoever, and in the interior life all reflection is harmful, even reflection upon its human actions and upon its own defects.
10. If one scandalizes others by one’s own defects, it is not necessary to reflect, as long as the will to scandalize is not present; not to be able to reflect upon one’s own defects, is a grace of God.
11. It is not necessary to reflect upon doubts as to whether one is proceeding rightly or not.
12. He who gives his own free will to God should care about nothing, neither about hell, nor about heaven; neither ought he to have a desire for his own perfection, nor for virtues, nor his own sanctity, nor his own salvation-the hope of which he ought to remove.
13. After our free will has been resigned to God, reflection and care about everything of our own must be left to that same God, and we ought to leave it to him, so that he may work his divine will in us without us.
14. It is not seemly that he who is resigned to the divine will, ask anything of God; because asking is an imperfection, since the act is of one’s own will and election, and this is wishing that the divine will be conformed to ours, and not that ours be conformed to the divine; and this from the Gospel: “Seek and you shall find,” was not said by Christ for interior souls who do not wish to have free will; nay indeed, souls of this kind reach this state, that they cannot seek anything from God.
15. Just as they ought not ask anything from God, so should they not give thanks to him for anything, because either is an act of their own will.
16. It is not proper to seek indulgences for punishment due to one’s own sins, because it is better to satisfy divine justice than to seek divine mercy, since the latter proceeds from pure love of God, and the former from an interested love of ourselves, and that is not a thing pleasing to God and meritorious, because it is a desire to shun the cross.
17. When free will has been surrendered to God, and the care and thought of our soul left to the same God, no consideration of temptations need any longer be of concern; neither should any but a negative resistance be made to them, with the application of no energy, and if nature is aroused, one must let it be aroused, because it is nature.
18. He who in his prayer uses images, figures, pretension, and his own conceptions, does not adore God “in spirit and in truth.”
19. He who loves God in the way which reason points out or the intellect comprehends, does not love the true God.
20. To assert that in prayer it is necessary to help oneself by discourse and by reflections, when God does not speak to the soul, is ignorance. God never speaks; his way of speaking is operation, and he always operates in the soul when this soul does not impede him by its discourses, reflections, and operations.
21. In prayer it is necessary to remain in obscure and universal faith, with quiet and forgetfulness of any particular and distinct thought of the attributes of God and the Trinity, and thus to remain in the presence of God for adoring and loving him and serving him, but without producing acts, because God has no pleasure in these.
22. This knowledge through faith is not an act produced by a creature, but it is a knowledge given by God to the creature, which the creature neither recognizes that he has, and neither later knows that he had it; and the same is said of love. 23. The mystics with St. Bernard in the Scala Claustralium (The Ladder of the Recluses) distinguished four steps: reading, meditation, prayer, and infused contemplation. He who always remains in the first, never passes over to the second. He who always persists in the second, never arrives at the third, which is our acquired contemplation, in which one must persist throughout all life, provided that God does not draw the soul (without the soul expecting it) to infused contemplation; and if this ceases, the soul should turn back to the third step and remain in that, without returning again to the second or first.
24. Whatever thoughts occur in prayer, even impure, or against God, the saints, faith, and the sacraments, if they are not voluntarily nourished, nor voluntarily expelled, but tolerated with indifference and resignation, do not impede the prayer of faith; indeed they make it more perfect, because the soul then remains more resigned to the divine will.
25. Even if one becomes sleepy and falls asleep, nevertheless there is prayer and actual contemplation, because prayer and resignation, resignation and prayer are the same, and while resignation endures, prayer also endures.
26. The three ways: the purgative, illuminative, and unitive, are the greatest absurdity ever spoken about in mystical (theology), since there is only one way, namely, the interior way.
27. He who desires and embraces sensible devotion does not desire nor seek God, but himself; and anyone who walks by the interior way, in holy places as well as on feast days, acts badly when he desires it and tries to possess it.
28. Weariness for spiritual matters is good, if indeed by it one’s own love is purified.
29. As long as the interior soul disdains discourses about God, disdains the virtues, and remains cold, feeling no fervor in himself, it is a good sign.
30. Everything sensible which we experience in the spiritual life, is abominable, base, and unclean.
31. No meditative person exercises true interior virtues; these should not be recognized by the senses. It is necessary to abandon the virtues.
32. Neither before nor after communion is any other preparation or act of thanksgiving required for these interior souls than continuance in a customary passive resignation, because in a more perfect way it supplies all acts of virtues, which can be practiced and are practiced in the ordinary way. And, if on this occasion of communion there arise emotions of humility, of petition, or of thanksgiving, they are to be repressed, as often as it is not discerned that they are from a special impulse of God; otherwise they are impulses of nature not yet dead.
33. That soul acts badly which proceeds by this interior way, if it wishes on feast days by any particular effort to excite some sensible devotion in itself, since for an interior soul all days are equal, all festal. And the same is said of holy places, because to souls of this kind all places are alike.
34. To give thanks to God by words and by speech is not for interior souls which ought to remain in silence, placing no obstacle before God, because he operates in them; and the more they resign themselves to God, they discover that they cannot recite the Lord’s prayer, i.e., Our Father.
35. It is not fitting for souls of this interior life to perform works, even virtuous ones, by their own choice and activity; otherwise they would not be dead. Neither should they elicit acts of love for the Blessed Virgin, saints, or the humanity of Christ, because since they are sensible objects, so, too, is their love toward them.
36. No creature, neither the Blessed Virgin nor the saints, ought to abide in our heart, because God alone wishes to occupy and possess it.
37. On occasion of temptations, even violent ones, the soul ought not to elicit explicit acts of opposite virtues, but should persevere in the above mentioned love and resignation.
38. The voluntary cross of mortifications is a heavy weight and fruitless, and therefore to be dismissed.
39. The more holy works and penances, which the saints performed, are not enough to remove from the soul even a single tie.
40. The Blessed Virgin never performed any exterior work, and nevertheless was holier than all the saints. Therefore, one can arrive at sanctity without exterior work.
41. God permits and wishes to humiliate us and to conduct us to a true transformation, because in some perfect souls, even though not inspired, the demon inflicts violence on their bodies and makes them commit carnal acts, even in wakefulness and without the bewilderment of the mind, by physically moving their hands and other members against their wills. And the same is said as far as concerns other actions sinful in themselves, in which case they are not sins, but in them (because with these) the consent is not present.
42. A case may be given, that things of this kind contrary to the will result in carnal acts at the same time on the part of two persons, for example man and woman, and on the part of both an act follows.
43. God in past ages has created saints through the ministry of tyrants; now in truth he produces saints through the ministry of demons, who, by causing the aforesaid things contrary to the will, bring it about that they despise themselves the more and annihilate and resign themselves to God.