Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Maintain the true traditions of an interior life to produce holiness

"...[W]here tradition of a true interior life is allowed to lapse, we see that the succession of holy souls begins to fail. Outwardly, we all may be well; the discipline, good; the zeal, unabated; but through the loss of the tradition no real progress is made. After twenty and thirty years in religion souls in such Houses may be heard to complain that they are almost where they were at the beginning of their conversion to God. They have unwittingly moved in a vicious circle.

This, we believe, is too often the true explanation why many reforms in more recent times have been without much real fruit. The reform has begun and ended with exterior discipline and observances, and these, however brave a show they may make, have in themselves but little power to effect a true interior reformation of life, without which the exterior appearance of virtue is of little worth. The remedy in all such cases is to take up the thread where it was broken: to go back to the point where outstanding holiness ceased, and to resume the old interior spirit, teaching, and tradition; and doubtless, the fruit of such a course will soon become apparent.

Where the tradition of a real interior life, from which alone holiness proceeds, has been carefully preserved and handed down in a community, a great responsibility rests on the shoulders of each succeeding generation to maintain it intact and to deliver it to those who shall come after them. Thus St Teresa finds fault with those who say, if only I lived at the beginning of the foundation, I should have been all right; I too would have become holy. For though it is true that where the teaching is fresh at the fountain-head the prospect of becoming holy is best; 'yet we should remember,' the Saint goes on to say, 'that we also are the foundations to those who come after us; and if we who are now living had not fallen away from the fervour of our predecessors, and if those who succeed us should not do the like, the building would always continue firm and immovable... The excuse we make in not belonging to the first beginnings is quite ridiculous, for we consider not the difference there is between our life and virtue, and the life of those saints on whom God bestowed such great favours.' That is so; hence the Religious House that maintains the true traditions of an interior life will continue to produce outstanding scholars of holiness."

-- Dom Benedict Weld-Blundell, osb

No comments: