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, October 23, 2017

Domestic Sorrows

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.

Reflections on her conversion.

The sorrow, therefore, which pained her life before her conversion, remained afterward. It was a wound of the heart, deep and terrible, but which cannot well be appreciated or expressed. To a woman who possesses those confiding and affectionate inclinations which characterize and adorn the sex, there is no compensation, there can be no compensation, for an absence of love, — least of all, in that sacred and ennobling relation, in which she gives up her heart, in the fond expectation of a heart's return. It is true, that it was a marriage, in the first instance, without much acquaintance; but still it was not without some degree of confidence, and still less without hope. But it ought to be said that Madame Guyon always refers to this painful subject with dignity and candor, — not condemning others with severity; and willing to take a full share of blame to herself. These trials would never have been known from her pen, had they not been written at the express and positive command of her Spiritual Director, whom she regarded it a religious duty to obey. At the time of her writing she had no expectation that her statements would be made public. We do not think it necessary to repeat every thing that is said on this subject in her Life; it is perhaps best, that it should pass away and be forgotten. Only one or two statements more will be given.

The waiting-maid, who had gained so much influence over her husband,

...became, every day more haughty. It seemed as if Satan were in her, to incite her to torment me. And what enraged her most of all was, that her vexatious treatment, her fretfulness, and her impertinent complaints and rebukes, had ceased to trouble me as they once did. Inwardly supported, I remained silent. It was then that she thought, that if she could hinder me from going to partake of the holy Sacrament, she would give me the greatest of all vexations. She was not mistaken, O divine Spouse of holy souls! since the only satisfaction of my life was to receive and honor Thee. The church at which I worshiped, was called the Magdalen Church. I loved to visit it. I had done something to ornament it, and to furnish it with the silver plates and chalices of the Communion service. It was there, when things were in such a situation at my house as to allow me to do it, that I retired and spent hours in prayer. It was there, with a heart filled with love, that I  partook of the holy Sacrament. This girl, who knew where my affections were and how to wound them, took it into her head to watch me daily. Sometimes I evaded her, and had my seasons of retirement .and prayer. Whenever it was otherwise, and she discovered my going thither, she immediately ran to tell my mother-in-law and my husband.
One of their alleged grounds of complaint was the length of time which I spent in religious services. Accordingly, when the maid servant informed them, that I had gone to the church, it was enough to excite their angry feelings. Whenever this took place, I had no rest from their reproofs and invectives that day. If I said anything in my own justification, it was enough to make them speak against me as guilty and sacrilegious, and to cry out against all devotion. If I remained silent and made no answer at all, the result was merely to heighten their indignation, and to make them say the most unpleasant things they could devise. If I were out of health, which was not unfrequently the case, they took occasion to come and quarrel with me at my bedside, saying that my prayers and my sacramental communions were the occasions of my sickness. As if there were nothing else which could make me ill, but my devotions to Thee, O my Lord!

The efforts of the step-mother were not limited to attempts to dissociate the affections of her husband; she endeavored also to alienate from her the respect and affections of her eldest son. And she too well succeeded; although there is reason to think that he came to better dispositions in after life. There was something in this, so deep and sacred is a mother's love, which seems to have affected the feelings of Madame Guyon more keenly than anything else in her domestic afflictions.

The heaviest cross, which I was called to bear, was the loss of my eldest son's affections and his open revolt against me. He exhibited so great disregard and contempt of me, that I could not see him without causing me severe grief.

She says, that she conversed with one of her pious friends in relation to this strange and heavy trial, whose advice was, that since she could not remedy it, she must suffer it patiently, and leave every thing to God.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 8.

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