Jean-Pierre de Caussade
It is the designs of God that are the fulfilment of all our moments. They manifest themselves in a thousand different ways which thus become our successive duties, and form, increase and perfect the ‘new man’ in us until we attain the full stature destined for us by divine wisdom. This mysterious growth in age of Jesus Christ in our hearts is the end and fulfilment produced by the designs of God; it is the fruit of his grace and his divine goodness.
This fruit, as we have said, is produced, fed and increased by the duties which are successively presented to us and are filled with the will of God. In performing these duties we are always sure of possessing the ‘better part’, for this holy will is itself the ‘better part’. We have only to allow it freedom to work in us and abandon ourselves blindly to it in perfect confidence. It is infinitely wise, infinitely powerful, infinitely beneficent towards souls who place their hope in it utterly without reserve, who love and seek nothing but it alone, and who believe with unshakeable faith and confidence that what it does at each moment is the best, without looking elsewhere for something more or something less, and without pausing to consider the connection between God’s designs and external things, for this is the mere seeking of self-love.
The will of God is the essential and real element and the power in all things; it is the will of God that adjusts and adapts them to the soul. Without it, all is nothingness, emptiness, lies and vanity, the mere letter without the spirit, empty husks and death. The will of God is the salvation, health and life of body and soul no matter what the external appearance of the thing to which it is applied.
We must not therefore examine the suitability of things to mind and body in order to assess their value, for this is of little importance; it is the will of God which gives to things, whatever they may be, the power to form Jesus Christ in the depths of our hearts. We must not dictate to God’s will nor set limits to its action, for it is all-powerful.
Whatever ideas the mind may choose to be filled with, whatever the feelings of the body; even if the mind be afflicted with distractions and worries, and the body with sickness and death, nevertheless the divine will is always for the present moment the life of the body and the soul, for in whatever state they are, both are ultimately sustained only by the divine will. Without it bread is poison; with it poison is a salutary remedy. Without it books do nothing but darken the mind, and with it darkness becomes light. It is everything that is good and true in all things. And in all things it gives us God, and God is the infinite being who takes the place of all things for the soul that possesses him. ND
From ‘Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence’
by Jean -Pierre de Caussade,
translated from the Standard French Edition of
Fr P.H. Ramiere sj by Algar Thorold (Collins Fontana, 1971)