The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Crucified to Internal Joys

Another and remarkable characteristic of this state of mind [often called interior annihilation] is this. He, who is the subject of it, is dead and crucified to all internal joys also, as well as to all pleasures and joys of an external kind. He has no sympathy with those, who are always crying, "Make me happy." "Pay me well, and I will be holy." Personal happiness, as a supreme or even a separate object of desire, never enters his thought. It makes no difference what the form of that happiness is, whether pleasures of the senses or pleasures of the mind. He is willing to abandon and sacrifice even the pure and sublime pleasure, almost the only consolation left to him in this sad world, which flows from communion with those, who, like himself, are sanctified to God. His true happiness consists in hanging upon the Cross, and in being crucified to self. Whether he is tempted or not tempted, interiorly and in the bottom of his heart he can say, all is well. Whether he suffers or does not suffer, the throne of peace is erected in the centre of his soul. Wretchedness and joy are alike. He welcomes sorrow, even the deepest sorrow of the heart, with as warm a gush of gratitude as he welcomes happiness, IF THE WILL OF GOD IS ACCOMPLISHED.  In that will his soul is lost, as in a bottomless ocean.

"Lord, I will not follow Thee," says a devout person, "by the way of consolations and self-pleasures, but only by LOVE. I desire Thee only, and nothing out of Thee for myself. If I ever mention any thing as appertaining to me, if I name myself, I mean Thee only; for Thou only art me and mine. My whole essence is in Thee. I desire nothing, which comes from Thee, but Thee  thyself. I had rather suffer forever the cruel torments of Hell, than enjoy eternal happiness without Thee. If I knew I should be annihilated, yet would I serve Thee with the same zeal; for it is not for my sake, but thine, that I serve Thee. Oh, how great is my joy, that Thou art sovereignly good and perfect." [Cardinal Bona, as quoted in Fenelon's Pastoral Letter on the Love of God. See also, for similar sentiments, Bona's Principes de la Vie Chretienne, Ch. 47.]

In connection with what has been said, it will not be surprising when we say further, that the person, to whom these statements will apply, makes but little account of raptures, visions, ecstasies, special illuminations, sudden and remarkable impressions, or any thing of the kind, except so far as they tend, which, alas, is frequently not the case, to extinguish self, and to lead the soul into the abyss of the Supreme Divinity.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 12.

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