You Thought THAT Was Scary--Garrigou-Lagrange Again


What do you suppose this means?

from Christian Perfection and Contemplation
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

From all this, we see that a meritorious act which is too weak is an imperfection disposing to venial sin, as the latter disposes to mortal sin.

The proficient who is satisfied to act like a beginner ceases to make progress and becomes a retarded soul. People do not give sufficent thought to the fact that the number of these souls is considerable. Many indeed think of developing their intellect, of expanding their knowledge, their exterior activity or that of the group to which they belong (in which there may be not a little selfishness), and yet scarcely think of growing in supernatural chairty, which ought to have first place in us, and ought to inspire and vivify our entire llfe. . . . And many retarded souls end by becoming lukewarm, cowardly, and careless, especially when their natural bent is toward skepticism and raillery. In the end they may become hardened and, as a result, it is often more difficult to bring them back to a fervent life than to bring about the conversion of a great sinner.

I hear in this echoes of, and a deeper intuition and understanding of, Jesus' "letter" to the Laodiceans in the book of revelation. "You are neither hot nor cold, I spit you out of my mouth."

I think in the beginning of prayer life, there is a kind of natural progression. We move forward in the excitement of discovering something new. We've entered unknown territory. I also believe that what is written above is far less a danger for those inclined to pray without considering too much the theology of prayer, than for those inclined to investigate all the nuances and thus not pray as they ought. (I consider myself chief among the guilty here.) Jesus wants enthusiasm. He can work with either love or hate, but there is very little that moves mere indifference. What a dreadful state to be in!

I truly believe that constant reception of the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Confession, will help to keep these tendencies at bay. I think fervent recitation of vocal prayers help to lift the soul to God.

But Garrigou-Lagrange implies that at the time he wrote this there were a great many proficients who were content to be mere beginners. We must not fail god in prayer. Later Garrigoou-Lagrange quote St. Bernard, "Not to advance in the way of salvation is to fall back." And St. Francis de Sales, " If you follow Christ, you will always run, for He never stopped, but continued the course of His love and obedience 'unto death, even to the death of the cross.'"

This has really gotten me thinking and has moved me toward a better examen. Have I taken advantages of the opportunities God has given me in the day to love and praise Him? Do I love and praise Him in words only, or do I fulfill the duties of my station and vocation in life with the idea that it is for Him that I do all this. Am I truly Mary, even in my working day, or do I spend my day being Martha, complaining that no one will help me? Where did I miss an opportunity to love God more in spirit and in action? How can I be more aware of these opportunities, indeed, how can I become constantly aware of them?

God loves me so much that each day He gives me a million little things I can do to show my love. I am not nearly aware enough of these opportunities. And these are some of the ways in which I can practice meritorious charity that is strong enough for my place in prayer (wherever that might be). What is most interesting is that they almost never require of me anything extraordinary.

Anyway, I guess I'm trying to take the implied advice. Garrigou-Lagrange concludes the arguments of this chapter with the remarkable passage below.

And to think that contemplative souls have suffered so greatly because they willed to doubt God's munificence on behalf of the baptized soul! Rightly their hearts protested against the doubts raised by their souls. In what gentle harmony everything is bound up and united in God's truth! How calm must the soul of a St. Augustine or a St. Thomas have been, living habitually in the peace-giving contemplation of the being and unity of God! What love burst forth also from the seet knowledge of the supreme precept and of the grace offered to fulfil it ever more fully! . . .

The great poetry of the psalms has been revealed to us in order to be understood. To understand it well, however, and to make it vibrate in the depths of the soul, should we not have received infused contemplation which reaise the mind and th eheart even to the fountain of living water and the light of life?

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 2, 2004 5:52 PM.

Infused Contemplation--Garrigou-Lagrange again was the previous entry in this blog.

Prayer Requests 5/3/04 is the next entry in this blog.

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