Thursday, September 3, 2009
"As soon, therefore, as the soul experiences some disorderly attraction of the sense or a temptation of the spirit- an inclination to self-love, pride, or impurity, a movement of antipathy for someone, or a lack of charity- it turns immediately to God, and contemplates Him in His infinite beauty and admires His love. The Carmelite professes to God his complete and exclusive love, his desire to avoid all that can displease Him, and his wish to be united with Him. He asks God the Father, or the Sacred Humanity of Christ, to preserve him, telling Him that he relies on Him, and begging Him to draw him to Himself.
The Carmelite will renew these acts as long as may be necessary to establish himself peacefully in God. He will put into them all the fervor of which he is capable, taking care always to act calmly, for he will not be able to repose in God unless he avoids all excitement and fatigue of mind and heart.
St John of the Cross is consistent with himself in recommending this method, for he writes: 'In order to overcome the appetites and to mortify the attraction for created things towards which the will is naturally drawn with desire to enjoy them, there is need of a much deeper love which can only be the love of Christ.' However, this method presupposes that the soul is already experienced in love and has made progress in it, because it will succeed only if it is fervent. Hence the necessity of practising the love of God, loving Him for Himself and for what He has done for us; hence, the need of devoting oneself to contemplation and to the love of Christ.
It is certain that this intimate converse with God will develop in the soul a great facility for turning towards Him the moment an unruly tendency of nature or an attraction for creatures manifests itself. Accustomed to live in the company of God, and becoming captivated by Him, the soul will overcome temptations without great difficulty by rising above them, and will find itself united with God; recollected in Christ.
If, however, our love is not sufficiently lively to calm the temptation, the thoughts or the feelings which agitate us, St John of the Cross recommends that we have recourse to the ordinary manner of acting: rational reflection and making acts of the virtue opposed to the source of temptation. We should then consider how vain and passing is the thought or idea which presented itself to us and the satisfaction which attracted us; how vile and despicable is the act suggested by passion. We will then conclude that it would be unreasonable to let ourselves be carried away by such things; this would be a debasing human nature, a degradation from being a child of God and a consecrated person. then one must consider the consequences which the fault could have: the loss of the divine life and eternal punishment.
One the other hand, one must consider much more worthy it is to overcome one's passions and to be conscious of one's dignity as a Christian, living a life of detachment for God, and taking Christ as one's model. One can dwell on the advantages that will follow from this: growth in Christ, benefits accruing to His mystical body, and the eternal possession of God."
-- The Spirit and Prayer of Carmel by Fr François Jamart, ocd