Concerning the Assistance Rendered by the Fatherly Providence of God to Those Souls Who Have Abandoned Themselves to Him, by Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Section I – Confidence in God

The less the soul in the state of abandonment feels the help it receives from God, the more efficaciously does He sustain it.

There is a kind of sanctity in which all the communications of God are luminous and distinct; but in the passive state of pure faith all that God communicates partakes of the nature of that inaccessible darkness that surrounds His throne, and all ideas are confused and indistinct. The soul, in this state of obscurity is often afraid, like the Prophet, of running headlong against a rock. “Fear not, faithful soul, for this is your right path, and the way by which God conducts you. There is no way more safe and sure than this dark way of faith.” “But it is so dark that I cannot tell which way to go.” “Go wherever you please; you cannot lose the way where there is no path; every way looks the same in the dark, you cannot see the end because nothing is visible.” “But I am afraid of everything. I feel as if, at any moment, I might fall over a precipice. Everything is an affliction to me; I well know that I am acting according to abandonment, but it seems to me that there are things I cannot do without acting contrary to virtue. I seem to be so far from all the virtues. The more I wish to practise them the more remote they seem. I love virtue, but the obscure impressions by which I am attracted seem to keep virtue far from me. I always give in to this attraction, and although I cannot perceive that it guides me well, I cannot help following it. The spirit seeks light; but the heart is in darkness. Enlightened persons, and those with lucid minds are congenial to my spirit, but when I hear conversations and listen to discourses, my heart understands nothing; its whole state and way is simply an impression of the gift of faith, which makes it love and appreciate those principles, truths, and paths wherein the spirit has neither object nor idea, and in which it trembles, shudders, and falters. I have an assurance, I do not know how, in the depths of my heart, that this way is right; not by the evidence of my senses, but by a feeling inspired by faith.” This is because it is impossible for God to lead a soul without persuading it that the path is a right one, and this with a certainty all the greater the less it is perceived. And this certainty is victorious over all censures, fears, efforts, and all imaginations. The mind vainly cries out and seeks some better way. The bride recognises the Bridegroom unconsciously, but when she stretches out her hand to hold Him, He disappears. She understands that the Spouse to whom she belongs has rights over her, and she prefers to wander without order or method in abandoning herself to His guidance rather than to endeavour to gain confidence by following the beaten tracks of virtue.

Let us go to God, then, my soul, in abandonment, and let us acknowledge that we are incapable of acquiring virtue by our own industry or effort; but let us not allow this absence of particular virtues to diminish our confidence. Our divine Guide would not have reduced us to the necessity of walking if He had not intended to carry us in His arms. What need have we of lights and certainties, ideas and reflexions? Of what use would it be to us to see, to know, and to feel, when we are no longer walking but being carried in the arms of divine Providence. The more we have to suffer from darkness, and the more rocks, precipices, and deserts there are in our way; the more we have to endure from fears, dryness, weariness of mind, anguish of soul, and even despair, and the sight of purgatory and hell, the greater must be our confidence and faith. One glance at Him who carries us is sufficient to restore our courage in the greatest peril. We will forget the paths and what they are like; we will forget ourselves, and abandoning ourselves entirely to the wisdom, goodness, and power of our Guide we will think only of loving Him, and avoiding all sin, not only that which is evident, however venial it may be, but even the appearance of evil, and of fulfilling all the duties and obligations of our state.

This is the only charge You lay upon Your children, O divine Love! all the rest You take upon Yourself. The more terrible this may be, the more surely can Your presence be felt and recognised. Your children have only to love You without ceasing, and to fulfil their small duties like children. A child on its mother’s lap is occupied only with its games as if it had nothing else to do but to play with its mother. The soul should soar above the clouds, and, as no one can work during the darkness of the night, it is the time for repose. The light of reason can do nothing but deepen the darkness of faith: the radiance necessary to disperse it must proceed from the same source as itself. In this state God communicates Himself to the soul as its life, but He is no longer visible as its way, and its truth: The bride seeks the Bridegroom during this night; she seeks Him before her, and hurries forward; but He is behind her, and holding her with His hands. He is no longer object, or idea, but principle and source. For all the needs, difficulties, troubles, falls, overthrows, persecutions, and uncertainties of souls which have lost all confidence in themselves and their own action, there are secret and inspired resources in the divine action, marvellous and unknown. The more perplexing the circumstances the keener is the expectation of a satisfactory solution. The heart says “All goes well, it is God who carries on the work, there is nothing to fear.” That very suspense and desolation are verses in the canticle of darkness. It is a joy that not a single syllable is left out, and it all ends in a “Gloria Patri”; therefore we pursue the way of our wanderings, and darkness itself is a light for our guidance; and doubts are our best assurance. The more puzzled Isaac was to find something to sacrifice, the more completely did Abraham place all in the hands of Providence, and trust entirely in God.

Section II – Diversity of Grace

The afflictions which the soul is made to endure are but loving artifices of God which will, one day, give it great joy.

Souls that walk in light sing the canticles of the light; those that walk in darkness sing the songs of the darkness. Both must be allowed to sing to the end the part allotted to them by God in the great Oratorio. Nothing must be added to the score, nothing left out; every drop of bitterness must be allowed to flow freely at whatever cost. It was thus with Jeremias and Ezechiel whose utterances were broken by tears and sobs, and who could find no consolation except in continuing their lamentations. Had the course of their grief been interrupted, we should have lost the most beautiful passages of Scripture. The Spirit that afflicts can also console; these diverse waters flow from the same source. When God appears angry the soul trembles; when He threatens it is terrified. The divine operation must be allowed to develop, for with the evil it carries a remedy; so continue to weep and to tremble; let restlessness and agony invade your souls, make no effort to free yourselves from these divine terrors, these heavenly troubles, but open your hearts to receive these little streams from that immense sea of sorrows which God bore in His most holy soul. Sow in sorrow for as long as grace requires, and that same grace will gradually dry your tears. Darkness will disappear before the radiance of the sun, springtime will come with its flowers, and the result of your abandonment will be seen in the admirable diversity of the divine action. Indeed it is quite useless for man to trouble himself; all that takes place in him is like a dream. One cloud chases another like imaginations in the brain of the sleeper, some sorrowful, others consoling. The soul is the playground of these phantoms which follow each other with great rapidity, and on awaking it feels that, in all this, there is nothing to detain it. When these impressions have passed away it takes no notice of the joys or sorrows of dreams.

O Lord! it can be truly said that You carry Your children in Your arms during this long night of faith, and that You are pleased to allow an infinite variety of thoughts to pass through their minds; thoughts holy and mysterious. In the state in which these dreams of the night place them, they indeed experience the utmost torment of fear, anguish, and weariness, but on the bright day of eternal glory these will give place to a true and solid joy.

It is at the moment of, and just after the awakening that holy souls, returning to themselves, and with full right to judge, can never tire of admiring and praising the tact, the inventions and refinements of loving deception practised by the divine Spouse. They understand how impenetrable are His ways, how impossible it is to guess His enigmas, to find out His disguises, or to receive consolation when it is His will to spread terror and alarm.

At this awakening those who, like Jeremias and David, have been inconsolable in their grief, will see that in their desolation they have been a subject of joy to the angels, and of glory to God. The bride sleeps through the bustle of industries, and of human actions, and in spite of the sneers of sceptics. In her sleep she will sigh and tremble; in her dreams she will pursue and seek her Spouse, who disguises Himself to deceive her.

Let her dream; her fears are only born of the night, and of sleep. When the Spouse has exercised her beloved soul, and shown forth in it what can only be expressed by Him, He will develop the result of these dreams and will awaken it at the right time.

Joseph caused Benjamin to weep, and his servants kept his secret from this beloved brother. Joseph deceived him, and not all his penetration and wit could fathom this deception. Benjamin and his brothers were plunged in unspeakable sorrow but Joseph was only playing a trick on them, although the poor brothers could see nothing but an evil without any remedy. When he reveals himself and puts everything right they admire his wisdom in making them think that all is lost, and to cause them to despair about that which turns out to be a subject of the greatest joy they have ever experienced.

Section III – The Generosity of God

The more God seems to despoil the soul that is in the state of abandonment, the more generous are His gifts.

Let us continue to advance in the knowledge of the divine action and of its loving deceptions. That which it withdraws from the perception, it bestows incognito, as it were, on the goodwill. It never allows it to want for anything. It is as if someone who had maintained a friend by bounties bestowed personally upon him, should suddenly, for the welfare of this same friend, pretend that he could no longer oblige him, yet continues to assist him without making himself known. The friend, not suspecting any stratagem in this mystery of love, feels hurt, and entertains all sorts of ideas and criticisms on the conduct, of his benefactor.

When, however, the mystery begins to be revealed, God knows what different feelings arise in the soul; joy, tenderness, gratitude, love, confusion and admiration; followed by an increase of zeal for, and attachment to the benefactor. And this trial will be the means of strengthening the soul, and accustoming it to similar surprises.

The application is easy. With God, the more one seems to lose the more one gains. The more He strikes off of what is natural, the more He gives of what is supernatural. He is loved at first for His gifts, but when these are no longer perceptible He is at last loved for Himself. It is by the apparent withdrawal of these sensible gifts that He prepares the way for that great gift which is the most precious and the most extensive of all, since it embraces all others. Souls which have once for all submitted themselves to the divine action, ought to interpret everything favourably. Yes, everything! even the loss of the most excellent directors, and the want of confidence they cannot help feeling in those who offer themselves for that post.

In truth those guides who, of their own accord, run after souls, deserve to be distrusted. Those who are truly inspired by the spirit of God do not, as a rule, show so much eagerness and self sufficiency. They do not come forward until they are appealed to, and even then they proceed with caution. May the soul that has given itself entirely to God pass without fear through all these trials without losing its balance. Provided it is faithful to the divine action, this all-powerful action can produce marvels in it in spite of every obstacle.

God and the soul work in common, and the success of the work depends entirely on the divine Workman, and can only be spoilt if the soul prove unfaithful. When the soul is well, all is well, because what is from God, that is to say, His part and His action are, as it were, the counterpoise of the fidelity of the soul. It is the best part of the work, which is done something like beautiful tapestry, stitch by stitch from the wrong side. The worker employed on it sees only the stitch he is making, and the needle with which he makes it, while all the stitches combined form magnificent figures which do not show until, every part being complete, the right side is turned outwards. All the beauty and perfection of the work remain in obscurity during its progress. It is the same with the soul that has abandoned itself to God; it has eyes only for Him and for its duty. The performance of this duty is, at each moment, but an imperceptible stitch added to the work, and yet with these stitches God performs wonders of which He sometimes allows a glimpse to be seen, but which will not be visible in their entirety till revealed on the great day of eternity. How full of goodness and wisdom is the guidance of God! He has so entirely kept for His own grace, and His own action, all that is admirable, great, exalted and sublime; and so completely left to our souls, with the aid of grace, all that is little, light and easy, that there is no one in the world who cannot easily reach a most eminent degree of perfection in accomplishing lovingly the most ordinary and obscure duties.

Section IV – The Most Ordinary Things are Channels of Grace

In the state of abandonment God guides the soul more safely the more completely He seems to blind it.

It is most especially with regard to souls that abandon themselves entirely to God that the words of Saint John are applicable: “You have no need that any man teach you, as His unction teacheth you of all things” (I Ephesians, John 2:20). To know what God demands of them they need only probe their own hearts, and listen to the inspirations of this unction, which interpret the will of God according to circumstances.

The divine action, concealed though it is, reveals its designs, not through ideas, but intuitively. It shows them to the soul either necessarily, by not permitting any other thing to be chosen but what is actually present, or else by a sudden impulse, a sort of supernatural feeling that impels the soul to act without premeditation; or, in fine, by some kind of inclination or aversion which, while leaving it complete liberty, yet none the less leads it to take or refuse what is presented to it. If one were to judge by appearances, it seems as if it would be a great want of virtue to be swayed and influenced in this manner; and if one were to judge by ordinary rules, there appears a want of regulation and method in such conduct; but in reality it is the highest degree of virtue, and only after having practised it for a long time does one succeed. The virtue in this state is pure virtue; it is, in fact, perfection itself. One is like a musician, who combines a perfect knowledge of music with technical skill: he would be so full of his art that, without thinking, all that he performed within its compass would be perfect; and if his compositions were examined afterwards, they would be found in perfect conformity with prescribed rules. One would then become convinced that he would never succeed better than when, free from the rules that keep genius in fetters when too scrupulously followed, he acted without constraint; and that his impromptus would be admired as chef d’oeuvres by all connoisseurs. Thus the soul, trained for a long time in the science and practice of perfection under the influence of reasonings and methods of which it made use to assist grace, forms for itself a habit of acting in all things by the instincts implanted by God. It then knows that it can do nothing better than what first presents itself, without all those arguments of which it had need formerly. The only thing to be done is to act at random when unable to trust in anything but the workings of grace which cannot mislead it. The effects of grace, visible to watchful eyes, and intelligent minds, are nothing short of marvellous.

Without method, yet most exact; without rule, yet most orderly; without reflexion, yet most profound; without skill, yet thoroughly well constructed; without effort, yet everything accomplished; and without foresight, yet nothing better suited to unexpected events. Spiritual reading with the divine action, often contains a meaning that the author never thought of. God makes use of the words and actions of others to infuse truths which might otherwise have remained hidden. If He wishes to impart light in this way, it is for the submissive soul to avail itself of this light. Every expedient of the divine action has an efficacy which always surpasses its apparent and natural virtue.

It is the nature of abandonment always to lead a mysterious life, and to receive great and miraculous gifts from God by means of the most ordinary things, things that may be natural, accidental, or that seem to happen by chance, and in which there seems no other agency than the ordinary course of the ways of the world, or of the elements. In this way the simplest sermons, the most commonplace conversations, and the least high-toned books, become to these souls, by the virtue of God’s will, sources of knowledge and wisdom. This is why they carefully gather up the crumbs that sceptics trample underfoot. Everything is precious in their eyes, everything enriches them. They are inexpressibly indifferent towards all things, and yet neglect nothing, having a respect for, and making use of all things. As God is everywhere, the use made of things by His will is not so much the use of creatures, as the enjoyment of the divine action which transmits His gifts by different channels. They cannot sanctify of themselves, but only as instruments of the divine action, which has power to communicate His grace, and often does communicate it to simple souls in ways and by means which seem opposed to the end intended. It enlightens through mud as well as through glass, and the instrument of which it makes use is always singular. To it everything is alike. Faith always believes that nothing is wanting to it, and never complains of the privation of means which might prove useful for its increase, because the Workman, who employs them efficaciously, supplies what is wanting by His action. The divine action is the whole virtue of the creature.

Section V – Nature and Grace the Instruments of God

The less capable the soul in the state of abandonment is of defending itself, the more powerfully does God defend it.

The one and infallible influence of the divine action is invariably applied to the submissive soul at an opportune moment, and this soul corresponds in everything to its interior direction. It is pleased with everything that has taken place, with everything that is happening, and with all that affects it, with the exception of sin. Sometimes the soul acts with full consciousness, sometimes unknowingly, being led only by obscure instincts to say, to do, or to leave certain things, without being able to give a reason for its action.

Often the occasion and the determining reason are only of the natural order; the soul, perceiving no sort of mystery therein, acts by pure chance, necessity, or convenience, and its act has no other aspect either in its own eyes, or those of others; while all the time the divine action, through the intellect, the wisdom, or the counsel of friends, makes use of the simplest things in its favour. It makes them its own, and opposes so persistently every effort prejudicial to them, that it becomes impossible that these should succeed.

To have to deal with a simple soul is, in a certain way, to have to deal with God. What can be done against the will of the Almighty and His inscrutable designs? God takes the cause of the simple soul in hand. It is unnecessary for it to study the intrigues of others, to trouble about their worries, or to scrutinize their conduct; its Spouse relieves it of all these anxieties, and it can repose in Him full of peace, and in security.

The divine action frees and exempts the soul from all those low and noisy ways so necessary to human prudence. These suited Herod and the Pharisees, but the Magi had only to follow their star in peace. The child has but to rest in His Mother’s arms. His enemies do more to advance His interests than to hinder His work. The greater efforts they exert to thwart, and to take Him unawares, the more freely and tranquilly does He act. He never humours them, nor basely truckles to them to make them turn aside their blows; their jealousies, suspicions, and persecutions are necessary to Him. Thus did Jesus Christ live in Judea, and thus does He live now in simple souls. In them He is generous, sweet, free, peaceful, fearless, needing no one, beholding all creatures in His Father’s hands, and obliged to serve Him, some by their criminal passions, others by their holy actions; the former by their contradictions, the latter by their obedience and submission. The divine action balances all this in a wonderful manner, nothing is wanting nor is anything superfluous, but of good and evil there is only what is necessary. The will of God applies, at each moment, the proper means to the end in view, and the simple soul, instructed by faith, finds everything right, and desires neither more nor less than what it has. It ever blesses that divine hand which so well apportions the means, and turns every obstacle aside. It receives friends and enemies with the same patient courtesy with which Jesus treated everyone, and as divine instruments. It has need of no one and yet needs all. The divine action renders all necessary, and all must be received from it, according to their quality and nature, and corresponded to with sweetness and humility; the simple treated simply, and the unpolished kindly. This is what Saint Paul teaches, and what Jesus Christ practised most perfectly.

Only grace can impress this supernatural character, which is appropriate to, and adapts itself to each person. This is never learnt from books, but from a true prophetic spirit, and is the effect of a special inspiration, and a doctrine of the Holy Spirit. To understand it one must be in the highest state of abandonment, the most perfect freedom from all design, and from all interests, however holy. One must have in view the only serious business in the world, that of following submissively the divine action. To do this one must apply oneself to the fulfilling of the obligations of one’s state; and allow the Holy Spirit to act interiorly without trying to understand His operations, but even being pleased to be kept in ignorance about them. Then one is safe, for all that happens in the world can work nothing but good for souls perfectly submissive to the will of God.

Section VI – Supernatural Prudence

The soul, in the state of abandonment, does not fear its enemies, but finds in them useful helps.

I fear more my own action and that of my friends than that of my enemies. There is no prudence so great as that which offers no resistance to enemies, and which opposes to them only a simple abandonment. This is to run before the wind, and as there is nothing else to be done, to keep quiet and peaceful. There is nothing that is more entirely opposed to worldly prudence than simplicity; it turns aside all schemes without comprehending them, without so much as a thought about them. The divine action makes the soul take such just measures as to surprise those who want to take it by surprise themselves. It profits by all their efforts, and is raised by the very things that are done to lower it. They are the galley slaves who bring the ship into port with hard rowing. All obstacles turn to the good of this soul, and by allowing its enemies a free hand, it obtains a continual service, so sufficing that all it has to fear is lest it should itself take part in a work of which God would be principal, and His enemies the agents, and in which it has nothing to do but to peacefully observe the work of God, and to follow with simplicity the attractions He gives it. The supernatural prudence of the Divine Spirit, the principle of these attractions, infallibly attains its end; and the precise circumstances of each event are so applied to the soul, without its perception, that everything opposed to them cannot fail to be destroyed.

Section VII – Conviction of Weakness

The soul in the state of abandonment can abstain from justifying itself by word or deed. The divine action justifies it.

This order of the divine will is the solid and firm rock on which the submissive soul reposes, sheltered from change and tempest. It is continually present under the veil of crosses, and of the most ordinary actions. Behind this veil the hand of God is hidden to sustain and to support those who abandon themselves entirely to Him. From the time that a soul becomes firmly established in abandonment, it will be protected from the opposition of talkers, for it need not ever say or do anything in self-defence. Since the work is of God, justification must never be sought elsewhere. Its effects and its consequences are justification enough. There is nothing but to let it develop “Day to day uttereth speech” (Psalm 18:3). When one is no longer guided by reflexion, words must no longer be used in self-defence. Our words can only express our thoughts; where no ideas are supposed to exist, words cannot be used. Of what use would they be? To give a satisfactory explanation of our conduct? But we cannot explain that of which we know nothing for it is hidden in the principle of our actions, and we have experienced nothing but an impression, and that in an ineffable manner. We must, therefore, let the results justify their principles.

All the links of this divine chain remain firm and solid, and the reason of that which precedes as cause is seen in that which follows as effect. It is no longer a life of dreams, a life of imaginations, a life of a multiplicity of words. The soul is no longer occupied with these things, nor nourished and maintained in this way; they are no longer of any avail, and afford no support.

The soul no longer sees where it is going, nor foresees where it will go; reflexions no longer help it to gain courage to endure fatigue, and to sustain the hardships of the way. All this is swept aside by an interior conviction of weakness. The road widens as it advances; it has started, and goes on without hesitation. Being perfectly simple and straightforward, it follows the path of God’s commandments quietly, relying on God Himself whom it finds at every step, and God, whom it seeks above all things, takes upon Himself to manifest His presence in such a way as to avenge it on its unjust detractors.

Section VIII – Self-guidance a Mistake

God imparts to the soul in the state of abandonment by means which seem more likely to destroy it.

There is a time when God would be the life of the soul, and Himself accomplish its perfection in secret and unknown ways. Then all its own ideas, lights, industries, examinations, and reasonings become sources of illusion. After many experiences of the sad consequences of self-guidance, the soul recognising its uselessness, and finding that God has hidden and confused all the issues, is forced to fly to Him to find life. Then, convinced of its nothingness and of the harmfulness of all that it derives from itself, it abandons itself to God to gain all from Him. It is then that God becomes the source of its life, not by means of ideas, lights, or reflexions, for all this is no longer anything to it but a source of illusion; but in reality, and by His grace, which is hidden under the strangest appearances.

The divine operation, unknown to the soul, communicates its virtue and substance by many circumstances that the soul believes will be its destruction. There is no cure for this ignorance, it must be allowed its course. God gives Himself therein, and with Himself, he gives all things in the obscurity of faith. The soul is but a blind subject, or, in other words, it is like a sick person who knows nothing of the properties of remedies and tastes only their bitterness. He often imagines that what is given him will be his death; the pain and weakness which result seem to justify his fears; nevertheless it is under the semblance of death that his health is restored, and he takes the medicines on the word of the physician. In the same way the submissive soul is in no way pre-occupied about its infirmities, except as regards obvious maladies which by their nature compel it to rest; and to take suitable remedies. The languor and weakness of souls in the state of abandonment are only illusory appearances which they ought to defy with confidence. God sends them, or permits them in order to give opportunities for the exercise of faith and abandonment which are the true remedies. Without paying the least attention to them, these souls should generously pursue their way, following by their actions and sufferings the order of God, making use without hesitation of the body as though it were a horse on hire, which is intended to be driven until it is worn out. This is better than thinking of health so much as to harm the soul.

A courageous spirit does much to maintain a feeble body, and one year of a life spent in so noble and generous a manner is of more value than would be a century of care-taking and nervous fears. One ought to be able to show outwardly that one is in a state of grace and goodwill. What is there to be afraid of in fulfilling the divine will? The conduct of one who is upheld and sustained by it should show nothing exteriorly but what is heroic. The terrifying experiences that have to be encountered are really nothing. They are only sent that life may be adorned with more glorious victories. The divine will involves the soul in troubles of every kind, where human prudence can neither see nor imagine any outlet. It then feels all its weakness, and, finding out its shortcomings, is confounded. The divine will then asserts itself in all its power to those who give themselves to it without reserve. It succours them more marvellously than the writers of fiction, in the fertility of their imagination, unravel the intrigues and perils of their imaginary heroes, and bring them to a happy end. With a much more admirable skill, and much more happily, does the divine will guide the soul through deadly perils and monsters, even through the fires of hell with their demons and sufferings. It raises souls to the heights of heaven, and makes them the subjects of histories both real and mystical, more beautiful, and more extraordinary than any invented by the vain imagination of man.

On then, my soul, through perils and monsters, guided and sustained by that mighty invisible hand of divine Providence. On, without fear, to the end, in peace and joy, and make all the incidents of life occasions of fresh victories. We march under His Standard, to fight and to conquer: “He went forth conquering that he might conquer” (Apocalypse 6:2).

As many steps as we take under His command will be the triumphs we gain. The Holy Spirit of God writes in an open book this sacred history which is not yet finished, nor will be till the end of the world. This history contains an account of the guidance and designs of God with regard to men. It remains for us to figure in this history, and to continue the thread of it by the union of our actions and sufferings with His will. No! It is not to cause the loss of our souls that we have so much to do, and to suffer; but that we may furnish matter for that holy writing which is added to day by day.

Section IX – Divine Love, the Principle of All Good

To those who follow this path, divine love is all-sufficing.

While despoiling of all things those souls who give themselves entirely to Him, God gives them something in place of them. Instead of light, wisdom, life, and strength, He gives them His love. The divine love in these souls is like a supernatural instinct. In nature, each thing contains that which is suitable to its kind. Each flower has its special beauty, each animal its instinct, and each creature its perfection. Also in the different states of grace, each has a special grace. This is the recompense for everyone who accepts with goodwill the state in which he is placed by Providence. A soul comes under the divine action from the moment that a habit of goodwill is formed within it, and this action influences it more or less according to its degree of abandonment. The whole art of abandonment is simply that of loving, and the divine action is nothing else than the action of divine love. How can it be that these two loves seeking each other should do otherwise than unite when they meet? How can the divine love refuse aught to a soul whose every desire it directs? And how can a soul that lives only for Him refuse Him anything? Love can refuse nothing that love desires, nor desire anything that love refuses. The divine action regards only the goodwill; the capability of the other faculties does not attract it, nor does the want of capability repel it. All that it requires is a heart that is good, pure, just, simple, submissive, filial, and respectful. It takes possession of such a heart, and of all its faculties, and so arranges everything for its benefit that it finds in all things its sanctification. That which destroys other souls would find in this soul an antidote of goodwill which would nullify its poison. Even at the edge of a precipice the divine action would draw it back, or even if it were allowed to remain there it would prevent it from falling; and if it fell, it would rescue it. After all, the faults of such a soul are only faults of frailty; love takes but little notice of them, and well knows how to turn them to advantage. It makes the soul understand by secret suggestions what it ought to say, or to do, according to circumstances. These suggestions it receives as rays of light from the divine understanding: “A good understanding to all that do it” (Psalm 110:10), for this divine understanding accompanies such souls step by step, and prevents them taking those false steps which their simplicity encourages. If they make arrangements which would involve them in some promise prejudicial to them, divine Providence arranges some fortunate occurrence which rectifies everything. In vain are schemes formed against them repeatedly; divine Providence cuts all the knots, brings the authors to confusion, and so turns their heads as to make them fall into their own trap. Under its guidance those souls that they wish to take by surprise do certain things that seem very useless at the time, but that serve afterwards to deliver them from all the troubles into which their uprightness and the malice of their enemies would have plunged them. Oh! what good policy it is to have goodwill! What prudence there is in simplicity! What ability in its innocence and candour! What mysteries and secrets in its straightforwardness! Look at the youthful Tobias; he is but a lad, yet with what confidence he proceeds, having the archangel Raphael for his guide. Nothing frightens him, nothing is wanting to him. The very monsters he encounters furnish him with food and remedies; the one that rushes forward to devour him becomes itself his sustenance. By the order of Providence he has nothing to attend to but feasts and weddings, everything else is left to the management of the guiding spirit appointed to help him. These things are so well managed that never before have they been so successful, nor so blessed and prosperous. However, his mother weeps, and is in great distress at his supposed loss, but his father remains full of faith. The son, so bitterly mourned returns to rejoice his family and to share their happiness.

Divine love then, is to those who give themselves up to it without reserve, the principle of all good. To acquire this inestimable treasure the only thing necessary is greatly to desire it. Yes, God only asks for love, and if you seek this treasure, this kingdom in which God reigns alone, you will find it. If your heart is entirely devoted to God, it is itself, for that very reason, the treasure and the kingdom that you seek and desire. From the time that one desires God and His holy will, one enjoys God and His will, and this enjoyment corresponds to the ardour of the desire. To desire to love God is truly to love Him, and because we love Him we wish to become instruments of His action in order that His love may be exercised in, and by us. The divine action does not correspond to the aims of a saintly and simple soul, nor to the steps it takes, nor to the projects it forms, nor to the manner in which it reflects, nor to the means it chooses, nor to the purity of its intention. It often happens that the soul can be deceived in all this, but its good intention and uprightness can never deceive it. Provided that God perceives in it a good intention, He can dispense with all the rest, and He holds as done for Him what it will eventually do when truer ideas second its goodwill.

Goodwill, therefore, has nothing to fear. If it fall, it can only do so under the almighty hand which guides and sustains it in all its wanderings. It is this divine hand which turns it again to face the goal from which it has strayed; which replaces it in the right path when it has wandered. In it the soul finds resources for the deviations to which the blind faculties which deceive it, render it subject. It is made to feel how much it ought to despise them, and to rely on God alone, abandoning itself absolutely to His infallible guidance. The failings into which good souls fall are put an end to by abandonment. Never can goodwill be taken unawares. That all things work for its good is an article of faith.

Section X – We Must See God in all His Creatures

In the state of abandonment the soul finds more light and strength, through submission to the divine action, than all those possess who resist it through pride.

Of what use are the most sublime illuminations, the most divine revelations, if one has no love for the will of God? It was because of this that Lucifer fell. The ruling of the divine action revealed to him by God, in showing him the mystery of the Incarnation, produced in him nothing but envy.

On the other hand a simple soul, enlightened only by faith, can never tire of admiring, praising, and loving the order of God; of finding it not only in holy creatures, but even in the most irregular confusion and disorder. One grain of pure faith will give more light to a simple soul than Lucifer received in his highest intelligence. The devotion of the faithful soul to its obligations; its quiet submission to the intimate promptings of grace; its gentleness and humility towards everyone; are of more value than the most profound insight into mysteries. If one regarded only the divine action in all the pride and harshness of creatures, one would never treat them with anything but sweetness and respect. Their roughness would never disturb the divine order, whatever course it might take. One must only see in it the divine action, given and taken, as long as one is faithful in the practice of sweetness and humility. It is best not to observe their way of proceeding, but always to walk with firm steps in our own path. It is thus that by bending gently, cedars are broken, and rocks overthrown. Who amongst creatures can resist a faithful, gentle, and humble soul? These are the only arms to be taken if we wish to conquer all our enemies. Jesus Christ has placed them in our hands that we may defend ourselves; there is nothing to fear if we know how to use them.

We must not be cowardly, but generous. This is the only disposition suitable to the instruments of God.

All the works of God are sublime and marvellous; while one’s own actions, when they war against God, cannot resist the divine action in one who is united to it by sweetness and humility.

Who is Lucifer? He is a pure spirit, and was the most enlightened of all pure spirits, but is now at war with God and with His rule. The mystery of sin is merely the result of this conflict, which manifests itself in every possible way. Lucifer, as much as in him lies, will leave no stone upturned to destroy what God has made and ordered. Wherever he enters, there is the work of God defaced. The more light, science, and capacity a person has, the more he is to be feared if he does not possess a foundation of piety, which consists in being satisfied with God and His will. It is by a well-regulated heart that one is united to the divine action; without this everything is purely natural, and generally, in direct opposition to the divine order. God makes use only of the humble as His instruments. Always contradicted by the proud, He yet makes use of them, like slaves, for the accomplishment of His designs.

When I find a soul which does all for God alone, and in submission to His order, however wanting it may be in all things else, I say “This is a soul with a great aptitude for serving God.” The holy Virgin and Saint Joseph were like this. All else without these qualities makes me fear. I am afraid to see in it the action of Lucifer. I remain on my guard, and shut myself up in my foundation of simplicity, in opposition to all this outward glitter which, by itself, is nothing to me but a bit of broken glass.

Section XI – The Strength of Simplicity

The soul in the state of abandonment knows how to see God even in the proud who oppose His action. All creatures, good or evil, reveal Him to it.

The whole practice of the simple soul is in the accomplishment of the will of God. This it respects even in those unruly actions by which the proud attempt to depreciate it. The proud soul despises one in whose sight it is as nothing, who beholds only God in it, and in all its actions. Often it imagines that the modesty of the simple soul is a mark of appreciation for itself; when, all the time, it is only a sign of that loving fear of God and of His holy will as shown to it in the person of the proud. No, poor fool, the simple soul fears you not at all. You excite its compassion; it is answering God when you think it is speaking to you: it is with Him that it believes it has to do; it regards you only as one of His slaves, or rather as a mask with which He disguises Himself. Therefore the more you take a high tone, the lower you become in its estimation; and when you think to take it by surprise, it surprises you. Your wiles and violence are just favours from Heaven.

The proud soul cannot comprehend itself, but the simple soul, with the light of faith, can very clearly see through it.

The finding of the divine action in all that occurs at each moment, in and around us, is true science, a continuous revelation of truth, and an unceasingly renewed intercourse with God. It is a rejoicing with the Spouse, not in secret, nor by stealth, in the cellar, or the vineyard, but openly, and in public, without any human respect. It is a fund of peace, of joy, of love, and of satisfaction with God who is seen, known, or rather, believed in, living and operating in the most perfect manner in everything that happens. It is the beginning of eternal happiness not yet perfectly realised and tasted, except in an incomplete and hidden manner.

The Holy Spirit, who arranges all the pieces on the board of life, will, by this fruitful and continual presence of His action, say at the hour of death, “fiat lux,” “let there be light” (Genesis 1:14), and then will be seen the treasures which faith hides in this abyss of peace and contentment with God, and which will be found in those things that have been every moment done, or suffered for Him.

When God gives Himself thus, all that is common becomes wonderful; and it is on this account that nothing seems to be so, because this way is, in itself, extraordinary. Consequently it is unnecessary to make it full of strange and unsuitable marvels. It is, in itself, a miracle, a revelation, a constant joy even with the prevalence of minor faults. But it is a miracle which, while rendering all common and sensible things wonderful, has nothing in itself that is sensibly marvellous.

Section XII – The Triumph of Humility

To the souls which are faithful to Him, God promises a glorious victory over the powers of the world and of hell.

If the divine action is hidden here below under the appearance of weakness, it is in order to increase the merit of souls which are faithful to it; but its triumph is none the less certain.

The history of the world from the beginning is but the history of the struggle between the powers of the world, and of hell, against the souls which are humbly devoted to the divine action. In this struggle all the advantage seems to be on the side of pride, yet the victory always remains with humility. The image of the world is always presented to our eyes as a statue of gold, brass, iron, and clay. This mystery of iniquity, shown in a dream to Nabuchodonosor, is nothing but a confused medley of all the actions, interior and exterior, of the children of darkness. This is also typified by the beast coming out of the pit to make war, from the beginning of time, against the interior and spiritual life of man. All that takes place in our days is the consequence of this war. Monster follows monster out of the pit, which swallows, and vomits them forth again amidst incessant clouds of smoke. The combat between Saint Michael and Lucifer, that began in Heaven, still continues. The heart of this once magnificent angel, has become, through envy, an inexhaustible abyss of every kind of evil. He made angel revolt against angel in Heaven, and from the creation of the world his whole energy is exerted to make more criminals among men to fill the ranks of those who have been swallowed up in the pit. Lucifer is the chief of those who refuse obedience to the Almighty. This mystery of iniquity is the very inversion of the order of God; it is the order, or rather, the disorder of the devil.

This disorder is a mystery because, under a false appearance of good, it hides irremediable and infinite evil. Every wicked man, who, from the time of Cain, up to the present moment, has declared war against God, has outwardly been great and powerful, making a great stir in the world, and being worshiped by all. But this outward semblance is a mystery. In reality they are beasts which have ascended from the pit one after another to overthrow the order of God. But this order, which is another mystery, has always opposed to them really great and powerful men who have dealt these monsters a mortal wound. As fast as hell vomits them forth, Heaven at the same time creates fresh heroes to combat them. Ancient history, sacred and profane, is but a record of this war. The order of God has ever remained victorious and those who have ranged themselves on the side of God have shared His triumph, and are happy for all eternity. Injustice has never been able to protect deserters. It can reward them only by death, an eternal death.

Those who practise iniquity imagine themselves invincible. O God! who can resist You? If a single soul has the whole world and all hell against it, it need have no fear if, by abandonment, it takes its stand on the side of God and His order.

The monstrous spectacle of wickedness armed with so much power, the head of gold, the body of silver, brass, and iron, is nothing more than the image of clay; a small stone cast at it will scatter it to the four winds of Heaven.

How wonderfully has the Holy Spirit illustrated the centuries of the world! So many startling revelations! so many renowned heroes following each other like so many brilliant stars! So many wonderful events!

All this is like the dream of Nabuchodonosor, forgotten on awaking, however terrible the impression it made at the time.

All these monsters only come into the world to exercise the courage of the children of God, and if these are well trained, God gives them the pleasure of slaying the monsters, and sends fresh athletes into the arena.

And this life is a spectacle to angels, causing continual joy in Heaven, work for saints on earth, and confusion to the devils in hell.

So all that is opposed to the order of God renders it only the more to be adored. All workers of iniquity are slaves of justice, and the divine action builds the heavenly Jerusalem on the ruins of Babylon.