All that lies around us is false and vain. All the affairs of the world are but shadows, yet we still persist in looking at them as if they had an intrinsic value and reality. The result is that everything remains a riddle to us and we behave like fools. What we should do is gaze at the principle, the source and the origin of all things. Then we should find that everything has a supernatural quality, something divine about it that can lead us onward to holiness. If we persist in living according to what we see and feel, we shall wander like imbeciles through a maze shrouded with darkness and phantasmagoria.
Nothing is safer than the way of self abandonment.
We keep ourselves detached from all we feel and do as we travel along this path and live only for the present moment.
If we have abandoned ourselves, there is only one rule for us: the duty of the present moment. The soul is as light as a feather, as fluid as water, as simple as a child and as lively as a ball in responding to all the impulses of grace. We are like molten metal which takes the shape of the mould into which it is poured, and can just as easily assume any form God wishes to give us. We are like water which fills every vessel no matter what its shape.
The realization that God is active in all that happens at every moment is a continuous revelation.
Seldom do we find a person so spiritual that she lives stripped of everything. Who can find someone truly poor in spirit and totally detached from all the things of this world? Her price is well beyond anything on earth! If a person were to give up all possessions, that would still be nothing. If great penance were to be done, it would still be a little thing. And if all knowledge were to be learnt, we would still be far off. And if one had great virtue and burned with a passionate devotion, still much would be lacking; that is, the one thing which is supremely necessary. And what is it? That having left all things behind, we must also leave self – totally abandon self – keeping nothing of self. Then we will be truly poor and naked in spirit. Yet no one is richer, no one more powerful, no one more free.
– Imitation of Christ. II:11
Totally abandon self – just for a moment.
Then we will be truly poor and naked in spirit – just for a moment.
Yet no one is richer, no one more powerful, no one more free – just for a moment.
One has to follow this method…
this method of emptying
the faculties of their natural occupations
to make room for illumination.
The preparation for this union
is not an understanding,
nor the taste, feeling, or imagining of God or any other object,
but the stripping off
of all experiences
for God alone.
- St John of the Cross. Ascent of Mount Carmel
“Remain in Me”. It is the Word of God who expresses this wish. “Remain in Me”, not for a few moments, a few hours which must pass away, but “remain”… permanently, habitually…
We must enter ever deeper into the divine Being through recollection… we must descend daily this pathway of the Abyss which is God. Abyss calls to abyss. It is there in the very depths that the divine impact takes place, where the abyss of our nothingness encounters the Abyss of mercy, the immensity of the all of God. There we will find the strength to die to ourselves and, losing all vestige of self, we will be changed into love … Blessed are those who die in the Lord !
- St Elizabeth of the Trinity. Heaven in Faith
being alive should no longer mean living with our own life, but with his life.
With us, Christ’s love is a compelling motive, and this is the conviction we have reached: if one man died on behalf of all, then all thereby became dead men; Christ died for us all, so that being alive should no longer mean living with our own life, but with his life who died for us and has risen again. (2 Cor 5:14-15)
We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus may be openly shown. So death is our practise. (2 Cor 4: 7-12)
And this is the way in which the perfect lover behaves, wholly and entirely to despoil himself of himself to have the thing he loves, and refusing to allow himself to be clothed in anything except the thing he loves; and this is not merely for a time, but to be wrapped in it forever, in the full and final forgetfulness of self. This is a love making that none can know save one that has experience of it. This is what our Lord is teaching when he says: “If any man love me, let him forsake himself,” as though he said : “Let him despoil himself of himself if he truly wishes to be clothed in me, who am the rich garment of everlasting love that shall never have an end.”
( extract from ‘A letter of Private Direction’ – by the author of ‘The Cloud of Unknowing’)
Man comes, in the most profound sense, to himself, not through what he does, but through what he accepts. He must wait for the gift of love, and love can only be received as a gift. It cannot be “made” on one’s own, without anyone else; one must wait for it, let it be given. And one cannot become wholly human in any other way than by being loved. By letting oneself be loved.
Love represents simultaneously both man’s highest possibility and his deepest need and this most necessary thing is at the same time the freest and the most unenforceable.
Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph. Introduction to Christianity. ( pp. 266-267)
It is openness to the whole, to the infinite, that makes man complete. Man is man by reaching out infinitely beyond himself, and he is consequently more of a man the less enclosed he is in himself, the less limited he is. For – let me repeat – that man is most fully man, indeed the true man, who is most unlimited, who not only has contact with the infinite – the infinite Being! – but is one with him.
The man shut off in himself, who wants to assert himself, stand only in himself, is then the man of the past whom we must leave behind us.
- Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph. (1969) Introduction to Christianity. p 234 -40