The Duties of Those Souls Called by God to the State of Abandonment, by Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Section I – Sacrifice, the Foundation of Sanctity

The first great duty of souls called by God to this state is the absolute and entire surrender of themselves to Him.

“Sacrificate sacrificium, et sperate in Domino.” That is to say that the great and solid foundation of the spiritual life is the sacrifice of oneself to God, subjecting oneself to His good pleasure in all things, both interior and exterior, and becoming so completely forgetful of self thereafter as to regard oneself as a chattel, sold and delivered, to which one no longer has any right. In this way the good pleasure of God forms one’s whole felicity; and His happiness, glory and existence one’s sole good. This foundation laid, the soul has nothing else to do but to rejoice that God is God, and to abandon itself so entirely to His good pleasure that it feels an equal satisfaction in whatever it does, nor ever reflects on the uses to which it is applied by the arrangements of this good pleasure. To abandon oneself, therefore, is the principal duty to be fulfilled, involving, as it does, the faithful discharge of all the obligations of one’s state. The perfection with which these duties are accomplished will be the measure of the sanctity of each individual soul. A saintly soul is a soul freely submissive, with the help of grace, to the divine will. All that follows on this free consent is the work of God, and not of man. The soul should blindly abandon itself and be indifferent about everything. This is all that God requires of it, and as to the rest He determines and chooses according to His own plans, as an architect selects and arranges the stones for the building he is about to construct. It is therefore of the first importance to love God and His will, and to love this will in whatever way it is made manifest to us, without desiring anything else. The soul has no concern in the choice of different objects, that is God’s affair, and whatever He gives is best for the soul. The whole of spirituality is an abridgment of this maxim, “Abandon yourself entirely to the over-ruling of God, and by self-oblivion be eternally occupied in loving and serving Him without any of those fears, reflexions, examens, and anxieties which the affair of our salvation, and perfection sometimes occasion.” Since God wishes to do all for us, let us place everything in His hands once and for all, leaving them to His infinite wisdom; and trouble no more about anything but what concerns Him. On then, my soul, on with head uplifted above earthly things, always satisfied with God, with everything He does, or makes you do. Take good care not to imprudently entertain a crowd of anxious reflexions which, like so many trackless ways, carry our footsteps far and wide until we are hopelessly astray. Let us go through that labyrinth of self-love by leaping over it, instead of traversing its interminable windings.

On, my soul, through despondency, illness, aridity, uncertain tempers, weakness of disposition, snares of the devil and of men; through suspicions, jealousies, evil imaginations and prejudices. Let us soar like the eagle above all these clouds with eyes always fixed on the sun, and on its ways, which represent our obligations. All this we must needs feel, but we must, at the same time, remember that ours is not a life of mere sentiment, and that it does not depend upon us either to feel, or to be callous. Let us live in the higher regions of the soul in which God and His will form an eternity ever equal, ever the same, ever unchanging. In this dwelling entirely spiritual, wherein the uncreated, immeasurable and ineffable holds the soul at an infinite distance from all that is specific in shadows and created atoms, it remains calm, even when the senses are tossed about by tempests. It has become independent of the senses; their troubles and agitations and innumerable vicissitudes no more affect it, than the clouds that obscure the sky for a moment and then fade away, affect the sun. We know that all passes away like clouds blown along by the wind, and nothing is consecutive nor ordered, but everything is in a state of perpetual change. In the state of faith, as in that of glory, God and His will is the eternal object that captivates the heart, and will one day form its true happiness, and this glorious state of the soul will influence the material part which at present is the prey of monsters and savage beasts. Beneath these appearances, terrible though they be, the divine action will so work on this material part as to make it partake of a heavenly power which will render it brilliant as the sun; for the faculties of the sensitive soul, and those of the body are prepared here below like gold or iron, or like canvas for a picture, or stones for a building. Like the matter of which these different materials are composed they will not attain their brilliance and purity of form until they have passed through many alterations, have endured many deprivations, and survived many destructions. Whatever they suffer here below under the hand of God serves to that end.

The soul, in the state of faith, which knows the secret of God, dwells always in peace. All that takes place interiorly, instead of alarming, reassures it. Deeply convinced that it is guided by God, it takes all that happens as so much grace, and overlooking the instrument with which God works, it thinks only of the work that He is doing.

It is actuated by love to fulfil faithfully and exactly all its duties. All that is distinct in a soul abandoned to God, is the work of grace, with the exception of those defects which are slight, and which the action of grace even turns to good account. I call that distinct of which a soul receives a sensible impression either of sorrow or consolation through those things applied to it unceasingly by the divine will for its improvement. I call it distinct because it is more clearly distinguished by the soul from all else that takes place within it. In all these things faith sees only God, and applies itself solely to become conformed to His will.

Section II – The Pains and Consolations of Abandonment

The soul ought to strip itself of all things created in order to arrive at the state of abandonment.

This state is full of consolation for those who have attained it; but to do so it is necessary to pass through much anguish. The doctrine concerning pure love can only be taught by the action of God, and not by any effort of the mind. God teaches the soul by pains and obstacles, not by ideas.

This science is a practical knowledge by which God is enjoyed as the only good. In order to master this science it is necessary to be detached from all personal possessions, to gain this detachment, to be really deprived of them. Therefore it is only by constant crosses, and by a long succession of all kinds of mortifications, trials, and deprivations, that pure love becomes established in the soul. This must continue until all things created become as though they did not exist, and God becomes all in all. To effect this God combats all the personal affections of the soul, so that when these take any especial shape, such as some pious notion, some help to devotion; or when there is any idea of being able to attain perfection by some such method, or such a path or way, or by the guidance of some particular person; in fine to whatever the soul attaches itself, God upsets its plans, and allows it to find, instead of success in these projects, nothing but confusion, trouble, emptiness, and folly. Hardly has it said “I must go this way, I must consult this person, or, I must act in such a manner,” than God immediately says the exact contrary, and withdraws all the virtue usual in the means adopted by the soul. Thus, finding only deception and emptiness in everything, the soul is compelled to have recourse to God Himself, and to be content with Him.

Happy the soul that understands this lovingly severe conduct of God, and that corresponds faithfully with it. It is raised above all that passes away to repose in the immutable and the infinite. It is no longer dissipated among created things by giving them love and confidence, but allows them only when it becomes a duty to do so, or when enjoined by God, and when His will is made especially manifest in the matter. It inhabits a region above earthly abundance or dearth, in the fulness of God who is its permanent good. God finds this soul quite empty of its own inclinations, of its own movements, of its own choice. It is a dead subject, and shrouded in universal indifference. The whole of the divine Being, coming thus to fill the heart, casts over all created things a shadow, as of nothingness, absorbing all their distinctions and all their varieties. Thus there remains neither efficacy, nor virtue in anything created, and the heart is neither drawn towards, nor has any inclination for created things, because the majesty of God fills it to its utmost extent. Living in God in this way, the heart becomes dead to all else, and all is dead to it. It is for God, who gives life to all things, to revive the soul with regard to His creation, and to give a different aspect to all things in the eyes of the soul. It is the order of God which is this life. By this order the heart goes out towards the creature as far as is necessary or useful, and it is also by this order that the creature is carried towards the soul and is accepted by it. Without this divine virtue of the good pleasure of God, things created are not admitted by the soul; neither is the soul at all inclined towards them. This dissolution of all things as far as the soul is concerned, and then, by the will of God, their being brought once more into existence, compels the soul at each moment to see God in all things, for each moment is spent for the satisfaction of God only, and in an unreserved self-abandonment with regard to its relations to all possible created things, or rather to those created, or possibly to be created by the order of God. Therefore each moment contains all.

Section III – The Different Duties of Abandonment

The active exercise of abandonment either in relation to precept, or to inspiration.

Although souls called by God to a state of abandonment are much more passive than active, yet they cannot expect to be exempted from all activity. This state being nothing else but the virtue of abandonment exercised more habitually, and with greater perfection, should, like this virtue, be composed of two kinds of duty; the active accomplishment of the divine will, and the passive acceptance of all that this will pleases to send.

It consists essentially, as we have already said, in the gift of our whole self to God to be used as He thinks fit. Well! the good pleasure of God makes use of us in two ways; either it compels us to perform certain actions, or it simply works within us. We, therefore, submit also in two ways; either by the faithful accomplishment of its clearly defined orders, or else by a simple and passive submission to its impressions of either pleasure or pain. Abandonment implies all this, being nothing else but a perfect submission to the order of God as made manifest at the present moment: It matters little to the soul in what manner it is obliged to abandon itself, and what the present moment contains; all that is absolutely necessary is that it should abandon itself unreservedly. There are, then, prescribed duties to be fulfilled, and necessary duties to be accepted, and further there is a third kind which also forms part of active fidelity, although it does not properly belong to works of precept. In this are comprised inspired duties; those to which the spirit of God inclines the hearts that are submissive to Him. The accomplishment of this kind of duty, requires a great simplicity, a gentle and cheerful heartiness, a soul easily moved by every breath of directing grace; for there is nothing else to do but to give oneself up, and to obey its inspirations simply and freely. So that souls may not be deceived, God never fails to give them wise guidance to indicate with what liberty or reserve these inspirations should be made use of. The third kind of duty takes precedence of all law, formalities, or marked-out rules. It is what, in saints, appears singular and extraordinary; it is what regulates their vocal prayer, interior words, the perception of their faculties, and also all that makes their lives noble, such as austerities, zeal, and the prodigality of their self-devotion for others. As all this belongs to the interior rule of the Holy Spirit, no one ought to try to obtain it, to imagine that they have it, to desire it, nor to regret that they do not possess the grace to undertake this kind of work, and to practise these uncommon virtues, because they are only really meritorious when practised according to the direction of God. If one is not content with this reserve one lays oneself open to the influence of one’s own ideas, and will become exposed to illusion.

It is necessary to remark that there are souls that God keeps hidden and little in their own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Far from giving them striking qualities, His design for them is that they should remain in obscurity. They would be deceived if they desired to attempt a different way. If they are well instructed they will recognise that fidelity to their nothingness is their right path, and they will find peace in their lowliness. The only difference, therefore, in their way and that of, apparently, more favoured souls, is the difference they make for themselves by the amount of their love and submission to the will of God; for, if they surpass in these virtues the souls that appear to work more than they exteriorly, their sanctity is, without doubt, so much the greater. This shows that each soul ought to content itself with the duties of its state, and the over-ruling of Providence; clearly God exacts this equally from all. As to attraction and the impressions received by the soul, these are given by God alone to whom He pleases. One must not try to produce them oneself, nor to make efforts to increase them. Natural effort is in direct opposition and quite contrary to infused inspirations, which should come in peace. The voice of the divine Spouse will awaken the soul, which should only proceed according to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, for, if it were to act according to its own ideas it would make no progress.

Therefore, if it should feel neither attraction nor grace to do those things that make the saints so much admired, it must, in justice to itself, say, “God has willed it thus for the saints, but not for me.”

Section IV – God Does All for a Soul of Goodwill

The conduct of a soul raised to a state of abandonment with regard to this twofold manifestation of the good pleasure of God.

Souls called by God to a life of perfect abandonment resemble in this respect our Lord, His holy Mother, and Saint Joseph. The will of God was, to them, the fulness of life. Submitting entirely to this will as to precept and inspiration directly it was made manifest to them, they were always in complete dependence on, what we might call, the purely providential will of God; From this it follows that their lives, although extraordinary in perfection, showed outwardly nothing that is not common to all, and quite ordinary. They fulfilled the duties of religion, and of their state as others do, and in, apparently, the same way. For the rest, if one scrutinizes their conduct, nothing can be discovered either striking or peculiar; all follows the same course of ordinary events. That which might single them out is not discernible; it is that dependence on the supreme will which arranges all things for them, and in which they habitually live. The divine will confers on them a complete self-mastery on account of the habitual submission of their hearts.

Therefore the souls in question are, by their state, both solitary and free; detached from all things in order to belong to God, to love Him in peace, and to fulfil faithfully the present duty according to His expressed will. They do not allow themselves to reflect, to neglect, nor to think of consequences, causes or reasons; it is enough for them to go on simply, accomplishing their plain duties just as if there did not exist for them anything but their present obligation, and their duty to God. The present moment, then, is like a desert in which the soul sees only God whom it enjoys; and is only occupied about those things which He requires of it, leaving and forgetting all else, and abandoning it to Providence. This soul, like an instrument, neither receives interiorly more than the operation of God effects passively, nor gives exteriorly more than this same operation applies actively.

This interior application is accompanied by a free and active co-operation which is, at the same time, infused and mystical; that is to say that God, finding in this soul all the necessary qualifications for acting according to His laws, and satisfied with its goodwill, spares it the trouble of doing so, by bestowing all that would otherwise be the fruit of its efforts, or of its effectual goodwill. It is as though someone, seeing a friend preparing for a troublesome journey, would go in his stead, so that the friend would have the intention of going, but he spared the trouble of the journey; yet by this impersonation he would have gone himself, at least virtually. This journey would be free because it would be the result of a free determination taken beforehand to please the friend who then takes upon himself the trouble and expense; it would also be active because it will be a real advance; and it will be interior because effected without outward activity; and, finally, it will be mystical because of the hidden principle it contains. But to return to that kind of co-operation that we have explained by this imaginary journey; you will observe that it is entirely different from fidelity in the fulfilment of obligations. The work of fulfilling these is neither mystical nor infused, but free and active as commonly understood. Therefore abandonment to the good pleasure of God contains activity as well as passivity. In it there is nothing of self, but an habitual general goodwill, which like an instrument, has no action of itself, but responds to the touch of the master. While in his hands it fulfils all the purposes for which it was formed. Intentional and determined obedience to the will of God is, in the ordinary order of vigilance, care, attention, prudence, and discretion; although ordinary efforts are sensibly aided, or begun by grace. Leaving God, then, to act for all the rest, reserve for yourself at the present moment, only love and obedience, which virtues the soul will practise eternally. This love, infused into the soul in silence, is a real action of which it makes a perpetual obligation. It ought, in fact, to preserve it faithfully, and to maintain itself constantly in those dispositions resulting from it, all of which, it is evident, cannot be done without action. The action, however, is quite different to obedience to the present duty, by which the soul so disposes its faculties as to fulfil perfectly the will of God made manifest to it exteriorly, without expecting anything extraordinary.

This divine will is to the soul in all things its method, its rule, and its direct and safe way. It is an unalterable law which is of all times, of all places, and of all states. It is a straight line which the soul must follow with courage and fidelity, neither diverging to the right, nor to the left, nor overstepping the bounds. Whatever is over and above must be received passively, as it carries on its work in abandonment. In a word, the soul is active in all that the present duty requires, but passive and submissive in all the rest, about which there should be no self-will, but patient waiting for the divine motion.

Section V – The Common Way of All Souls

The soul that aims at union with God should value all the operations of His grace, but should only attach itself to that of the present moment.

It is by union with the will of God that we enjoy and possess Him; and it is an illusion to endeavour to obtain this divine enjoyment by any other means. Union with the will of God is the universal means. It does not act by one method only, but all methods and all ways are, by its virtue, sanctified. The divine will unites God to our souls in many different ways, and that which suits us is always best for us. All ways should be esteemed and loved, because in each we should behold that which is ordained by God accommodating itself to each individual soul, and selecting the most suitable method of effecting by it the divine union. The duty of the soul is to submit to this choice, and to make none for itself; and this without dispensing itself from esteeming and loving this adorable will in its work in others. For instance, if this divine will should prevent me saying vocal prayers, having sensible devotion, or receiving lights on mysteries, I should still love and esteem the silence and bareness induced by the sight of the faith of others; while for myself I should make use of the present moment, and by it should become united to God. I should not, as the Quietists do, reduce all religion to personal inaction despising all other means; because what makes perfection is obedience to the law of God which always renders the means it applies suitable to the soul. No! I should not admit of obstacles or bounds to the will of God, neither should I take anything in place of it, but should welcome it in whatever way it was made manifest to me, and should revere it in whatever way it was pleased to unite itself to others. Thus all ordinary souls have but one common way in which each is distinct and different in order to form the variety of the mystical robe of the Church. All these souls mutually approve of, and esteem each other, and all say “We are going to the same goal by different paths, and are all united in the same way, and by the same means in the ordinance of God, which is so different in each.” It is in this sense that we must read the lives of the saints, and other spiritual books, without ever making a change, and forsaking our own path. For this reason it is necessary that we should neither read spiritual books, nor hold spiritual conversation unless God so will; for, if He makes it the duty of the present moment, the soul, far from making any change will be strengthened in its way, either by what it finds in conformity with its own method, or even by that in which it differs. But if the will of God does not make this reading, or spiritual intercourse a present duty it will cause nothing but trouble, and a confusion of ideas; and a succession of changes will ensue; because without the concurrence of God’s will there cannot be order in anything.

Since when, therefore, have we busied ourselves with the pains and anxieties of our souls which have nothing to do with our present duty? When will God be all in all to us? Let creatures act according to their nature, but let nothing hinder us, let us go beyond all created things and live entirely for God.

Section VI – The Duty of the Present Moment the Only Rule

From souls in this state God exacts the most perfect docility to the action of His grace.

It is necessary to be detached from all that one feels, and from all that one does, to follow this method, by which one subsists in God alone, and in the present duty. All regard to what is beyond this should be cut off as superfluous. One must restrict oneself to the present duty without thinking of the preceding one, or of the one which is to follow. I imagine the law of God to be always before you, and that the practice of abandonment has rendered your soul docile to the divine action. You feel some impulse that makes you say, “I have a drawing towards this person”; or “I have an inclination to read a certain book, to receive, or to give certain advice, to complain of certain things, to open my mind to another, or to receive confidence; to give away something, or to perform some action.” Well! obey this impulse according to the inspiration of grace without stopping to reflect, to reason, or to make efforts. Give yourself up to these things for as long as God wishes without doing so through any self-will. In the state in question the will of God is shown to us because He dwells within us. This will ought to supplant all our usual supports. At each moment we have to practise some virtue. To this the obedient soul is faithful; nothing of what it has learnt by reading, or hearing is forgotten, and the most mortified novice could not fulfil her duties better. It is for this that these souls are attracted sometimes to one book, sometimes to another; or else to make some remark, some reflexion on what may seem but a trifling circumstance. At one time God gives them the attraction to learn something that at some future time will encourage them in the practice of virtue. Whatever these souls do, they do because they feel an attraction for it, without knowing why. All they can explain on the subject can be reduced to this: “I feel myself drawn to write, to read, to ask, to examine this; I follow this attraction, and God who gives it to me keeps these particular things in reserve in my faculties to become in future the nucleus of other attractions which will become useful to myself and others.” This is what makes it necessary for these souls to be simple, gentle, yielding, and submissive to the faintest breath of these scarcely perceptible impressions.

In the state of abandonment the only rule is the duty of the present moment. In this the soul is light as a feather, liquid as water, simple as a child, active as a ball in receiving and following all the inspirations of grace. Such souls have no more consistence and rigidity than molten metal. As this takes any form according to the mould into which it is poured, so these souls are pliant and easily receptive of any form that God chooses to give them. In a word, their disposition resembles the atmosphere, which is affected by every breeze; or water, which flows into any shaped vessel exactly filling every crevice. They are before God like a perfectly woven fabric with a clear surface; and neither think, nor seek to know what God will be pleased to trace thereon, because they have confidence in Him, they abandon themselves to Him, and, entirely absorbed by their duty, they think not of themselves, nor of what may be necessary for them, nor of how to obtain it. The more assiduously do they apply themselves to their little work, so simple, so hidden, so secret, and outwardly contemptible, the more does God embroider and embellish it with brilliant colours. On the surface of this simple canvas of love and obedience His hand traces the most beautiful design, the most delicate, and intricate pattern, the most divine figures. “Mirificavit Dominus sanctum suum.” “The Lord hath made His holy one wonderful” (Psalm 4). It is true that a canvas simply and blindly given up to the work of the pencil only feels its movement at each moment. Each blow of the hammer on the chisel can only produce one cruel mark at a time, and the stone struck by repeated blows cannot know, nor see the form produced by them. It only feels that it is being diminished, filed, cut, and altered by the chisel. And a stone that is destined to become a crucifix or a statue without knowing it, if it were asked, “What is happening to you?” would reply if it could speak, “Do not ask me, I only know one thing, and that is, to remain immovable in the hands of my master, to love him, and to endure all that he inflicts upon me. As for the end for which I am destined, it is his business to understand how it is to be accomplished; I am as ignorant of what he is doing as of what I am destined to become; all I know is that his work is the best, and the most perfect that could be, and I receive each blow of the chisel as the most excellent thing that could happen to me, although, truth to tell, each blow, in my opinion, causes the idea of ruin, destruction, and disfigurement. But that is not my affair; content with the present moment, I think of nothing but my duty, and I endure the work of this clever master without knowing, or occupying myself about it.”

Yes! give to God what belongs to Him, and remain lovingly passive in his hands. Hold for certain that what takes place either exteriorly or interiorly is best for you.

Allow God to act, and abandon yourself to Him. Let the chisel perform its office, the needle do its work. Let the brush of the artist cover the canvas with many tints which only have the appearance of daubs. Correspond with all these divine operations by a simple and constant submission, a forgetfulness of self, and an assiduous application to duty. Continue thus in your own groove without studying the way, the ins and outs, and surroundings, the names or particulars of the places; go on blindly pursuing this path, and you will be shown what is to follow. Seek only the kingdom of God and His justice by love and obedience, and all the rest will be added to you. We meet with many souls who are distressed about themselves, and inquire anxiously, “Who will direct us so that we may become mortified and holy, and attain perfection?” Let them search in books for the description and characteristics of this marvellous work, its nature and qualities; but as for you, do you remain peacefully united to God by love, and follow blindly the clear straight path of duty. The angels are at your side during this time of darkness, and they will bear you up. If God requires more of you, He will make it known to you by His inspirations.

Section VII – Trust in the Guidance of God

The docile soul will not seek to learn by what road God is conducting it.

When God makes Himself the guide of a soul He exacts from it an absolute confidence in Him, and a freedom from any sort of disquietude as to the way in which He conducts it. This soul, therefore, is urged on without perceiving the path traced out before it. It does not imitate either what it has seen, or what it has read, but proceeds by its own action, and cannot do otherwise without grave risk. The divine action is ever fresh, it never retraces its steps, but always marks out new ways. Souls that are conducted by it never know where they are going; their ways are neither to be found in books, nor in their own minds; the divine action carries them step by step, and they progress only according to its movement.

When you are conducted by a guide who takes you through an unknown country at night across fields where there are no tracks, by his own skill, without asking advice from anyone, or giving you any inkling of his plans; how can you choose but abandon yourself? Of what use is it looking about to find out where you are, to ask the passers-by, or to consult maps and travellers? The plans or fancies of a guide who insists on being trusted would not allow of this. He would take pleasure in overcoming the anxiety and distrust of the soul, and would insist on an entire surrender to his guidance. If one is convinced that he is a good guide one must have faith in him, and abandon oneself to his care.

The divine action is essentially good; it does not need to be reformed or controlled. It began at the creation of the world; and to the present time has manifested ever fresh energy. Its operations are without limit, its fecundity inexhaustible. It acted in one way yesterday, today it acts differently. It is the same action applied at each moment to produce ever new effects, and it will extend from eternity to eternity. It has produced Abel, Noah, Abraham, all different types; Isaac, also original, and Jacob from no copy; neither does Joseph follow any prefigure. Moses has no prototype among his progenitors. David and the Prophets are quite apart from the Patriarchs. Saint John the Baptist stands alone. Jesus Christ is the first-born; the Apostles act more by the guidance of His spirit than in imitation of His works.

Jesus Christ did not set a limit for Himself, neither did He follow all His own maxims to the letter. The Holy Spirit ever inspired His holy soul and, being entirely abandoned to its every breath, it had no need to consult the moment that had passed, to know how to act in that which was coming. The breath of grace shaped every moment according to the eternal truths subsisting in the invisible and unfathomable wisdom of the Blessed Trinity. The soul of Jesus Christ received these directions at every moment, and acted upon them externally. The Gospel shows in the life of Jesus Christ a succession of these truths; and this same Jesus who lives and works always, continues to live and work in the souls of His saints.

If you would live according to the Gospel, abandon yourself simply and entirely to the action of God. Jesus Christ is its supreme mouthpiece. “He was yesterday, is today, and will be for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8); continuing, not recommencing His life. What He has done is finished; what remains to be done is being carried on at every moment. Each saint receives a share in this divine life, and in each, Jesus Christ is different, although the same in Himself. The life of each saint is the life of Jesus Christ; it is a new gospel. The cheeks of the spouse are compared to beds of flowers, to gardens filled with fragrant blossoms. The divine action is the gardener, admirably arranging the flower beds. This garden resembles no other, for among all the flowers there are no two alike, or that can be described as being of the same species, except in the fidelity with which they respond to the action of the Creator, in leaving Him free to do as He pleases, and, on their side, obeying the laws imposed on them by their nature. Let God act, and let us do what He requires of us; this is the Gospel; this is the general Scripture, and the common law.

Section VIII – Great Faith is Necessary

This total abandonment is as simple as its effects are marvellous.

Such then is the straight path to sanctity. Such is the state of perfection, and of the duties imposed by it; such the great and incomparable secret of abandonment; a secret that is, in reality, no secret, an art without art.

God, who exacts it of all, has explained it clearly, and made it intelligible, and quite simple. What is obscure in the way of pure faith is not necessary for the soul in that way, to practise; there is, in fact, nothing more easy to understand, nor more luminous; the mystery is only in what is done by God.

This is what takes place in the Blessed Eucharist. That which is necessary to change bread into the Body of Jesus Christ, is so clear and so easy that the most ignorant priest is capable of doing it; yet it is the mystery of mysteries, where all is so hidden, so obscure, so incomprehensible that the more spiritual and enlightened one is, the more faith is required to believe it. The way of pure faith presents much that is similar. Its effect is to enable one to find God at each moment; it is this that makes it so exalted, so mystical, so blessed. It is an inexhaustible fund of thought, of discourse, of writing, it is a whole collection, and source of wonders. To produce so prodigious an effect but one thing is necessary; to let God act, and to do all that He wills according to one’s state. Nothing in the spiritual life could be easier; nor more within the power of everyone; and yet nothing could be more wonderful, nor any path more obscure. To walk in it the soul has need of great faith, all the more so as reason is always suspicious, and has always some argument against it. All its ideas are confused. There is nothing in it that reason has ever known or read about, or been accustomed to admire; it is something quite new. “The Prophets were saints, but this Jesus is a sorcerer,” said the Jews. If the soul following their example, is scandalised, it shows but little faith, and well deserves to be deprived of those wonderful things that God is so ready to work in the faithful soul.