Thursday, August 27, 2009

"The Apostle Of Paris" A French Jesuit On Spirtual Progress

This is from a wonderful book called Conferences on the Spiritual Life by a famous French Jesuit preacher and writer named Pere Gustave Fran├žois Xavier de la Croix de Ravignan. it is a written version of his retreat. He was called the "Apostle of Paris"

There are in certain lives, fixed habits and decided tastes, virtues which are not practiced, faults which are cherished and never struggled against. These persons are embarrassed, entangled in the spirit of the world; they persist in neglecting to listen to the true maxims of the Gospel, and linger far from the imitation of Our Blessed Lord : nevertheless, up to a certain point, they are desirous of doing better. But here is what happens: in this frame of mind one argues, one calculates, one makes certain arrangements with oneself how far, and no farther, one may go; saying to oneself:
" After all, this is not necessary, I have no occasion to change my life; no reformation, no transformation is absolutely required. I intend to gain my salvation, but my habits need not be changed. How, must I attack my tastes, surmount my repugnances, bring my senses into subjection ? Assuredly not. Must I condemn myself to a perpetual vigilance, to an unceasing constraint ? No, God does not exact this : I will go on living as I have done."
This is to say, that of the end one makes the means, and of the means, the end. Instead of looking towards the end as the end, instead of looking to God as God, instead of taking the precepts of the Gospel as the rule, direction, and guide of life, instead of regulating and reforming the character according to the Will of God, and by the voice of conscience, instead of following the one true path which leads to salvation; instead of looking incessantly, I repeat, towards this as our end, one sees but one end, but one principle of life :
that is to adhere to our habits, to our tastes, to our idle and useless lives, to our worldly relationships, to our vanities, and to our faults! and thus nothing is reformed in our life, because we wish to establish a kind of medium state between God and the world, if it were possible.
Where is the flaw in this spiritual disposition, which is not actually a renegation of holy things, but is an imperfect, dangerous, and lukewarm state ? It is as follows ; it is that all interior warfare against self has ceased, it is that even prayer is cowardly, undeserving of being answered, full of treason against God. And how comes this ?
Ah! my children, it comes because we must suffer if we wish to be in the right way, in order, at peace, it means that we must fight against ourselves and must work. Surely our souls are a ground which ought to bring forth fine fruits. We must be determined ; above all we must pray against our habits, our pride, our impatience, our haughtiness, our hard-hardheartedness, against our repugnances, frivolity, and love of ease.
We must say: " My God, I wish to overcome my inclinations, my worldly tastes ; it shall not be to them that I submit myself, but to Thee alone P* I repeat, the secret of this grievous condition is, that you do not pray sufficiently against self, that you do not learn."

Link (here) to the portion of a full chapter entitled, On Spiritual Progress from the book, Conferences on the Spiritual Life, the 19th century French Jesuit, Pere
Gustave Fran├žois Xavier de la Croix de Ravignan.

Photo is of the Sacre Coeur, in Paris, France

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