samedi, avril 18, 2009

Spiritual mirage

By Fénelon

Almost all who aim at serving God do so more or less for their own sake. They want to win, not to lose. They want to be comforted, not to suffer. They want to possess, not to be deprived. They want to increase, not to diminish. Yet all the while our whole interior progress consists in losing, sacrificing, decreasing, humbling, and stripping self even of God’s own gifts, so as to be more completely his. We are often like an invalid who feels his pulse fifty times in the day, and wants the doctor to be perpetually ordering some fresh treatment, or telling him how much better he is.
Some people treat their spiritual director or pastor in this way. They move round and round in a petty circle of easy virtues, never stepping beyond it heartily and generously, while they expect the director (like the physician) to soothe, comfort, encourage, and foster perfectionism, only ordering little sedative treatments that drop into mere habit and routine. As soon as they are deprived of conscious grace – grace that they can feel inwardly, grace that is like the milk of babes – such people fancy that all is lost. But this is a plain proof that they cling too much to the means and overlook the end, and that self is their main object.
Privations are the food of strong minds; they invigorate the soul, take it out to itself, and offer it as a living sacrifice to God. But weak people are in despair at the first touch of privation. They fancy that all their work is being overthrown, just when it is really beginning to be solidly fixed and thoroughly purified. They are willing to let God do what He will with them, provided always it be something great and perfect. But they have no notion of being cast down and crushed, or of being offered as a sacrifice to be consumed in the divine flames. They seek to live by pure faith, yet want to retain all their worldly wisdom, to be as children, yet great at their own eyes. But what a spiritual mirage this is!

François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon

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