I initially started reading this book because a very kind correspondent gave it to me. (Yes, she has much to answer for.) Seeing Garrigou-Lagrange on the cover, I figured I get through about half-a-dozen pages, consider it a valiant attempt and let it slide. Surprisingly in the course of that vacation alone, I got through something on the order of one-hundred pages.
Then it went into haitus, as heavy books are wont to do on my booklist. Interest revived when a Dominican who runs one of the better and more frequented blogs out there, but who shall otherwise remain nameless, suggested that the teachings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross might not be applicable to all in one sense or another. I took up Garrigou-Lagrange because he was a Dominican writing about St. John of the Cross and making the point that the teaching was for all (in a sense). Not necessarily a noble reason, but God uses all of our idiotic motivations to accomplish His meaningful work. I have already resolved upon an answer to our good Dominican's reservations, and when we are joined in the Beatific vision, we shall share our understandings better in this regard.
But once again, I laid Fr. G-L's book aside. It is too heavy-going to long sustain a reading of it (at least for me.) I need the time to assimilate the ideas and try to see what they say and in what direction they point me. Consistently they point in the direction of my own reluctance to engage God on his own terms. More readily expressed as the fact that while I desire to submit, I avoid submission. I cannot bring myself to the proper regard of God and Christ in my life. I am a weak and useless thing, too readily distracted, too easily drawn away from what should be the center of my life. But I don't feel particularly bad about that. In fact, I rejoice in my recognition of the fact. So long as I think I'm handling it fairly well, I know that I am really not living in reality. That I can recognize this weakness is a source of great joy. Another source of joy is that I'm not the only one in this boat. Many great and lowly people share the same dilemma. The one noted below said it far more succinctly and beautifully than this rambling note:
Holy Sonnet XIV
Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
"Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend," more simply said--I should know better than to do as I do. However, reason, also flawed by the fall, "is captived, and proves untrue." By myself I am nothing, only through God can I be rescued.
This is one of the things that Fr. G-L has pointed out to me time and again. He serves as God's present providence for me. I share what he writes, not necessarily because you would profit from it directly, but because I have profited from it greatly, and perhaps by seeing how, other works may also do the same for you. In some ways it is proving a lesson book on surrender and on submission. I am learning through this magnificent teacher what it really means to be a contemplative and how one reaches out for that end and goal.
The passage that leapt off the page into my head last night was another reminder of what we are called to as Christians.
from Christian Perfection and Contemplation
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
What the interior soul should desire above all else is the ever deeper reign of God in it, continual growth in charity. This is should long for because the precept of love is without limit and obliges us, if not to be saints, at least to tend to sanctity, each one acccording to his condition, and because Christ said to all: "Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." This is the goal which St. Teresa has shown us. The greatest tribute that can be given her is that she has marvelously praised the glory of God by making us see, in her wriings and in her life, God's great love for the humble, and all that He wishes to do for "souls determined to follow our Lord and to journey on, in spite of the cost even to the fountain of living water. . . . This is the royal road which leads to heaven."