Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean Pierre de Caussade
(New York: Doubleday, 1750, 1975), 119
Fr. Raymund mentioned this the first time we had him over and then again and the guy's night I went to, and I have enjoyed reading it slowly and allowing it to be a point of prayer in my day. This reminds me a lot of The Practice of the Presence of God, and is a wonderful daily devotional also like The Imitation of Christ. Abandonment is such a simple concept, and so full of meaning to unpack.
- "True mystics are always much more practical than the ordinary run of people." (20)
I. On doing our part and leaving the rest to God.
(1) The holiness of the Old Testament saints, and indeed that of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin, came through their obedience to God's will.
(2) The duties of each moment are shadows which hide the action of the divine will.
- "the sacrament of the moment" (24)
(3) How easy it is to be holy.
- "holiness consists of one thing only: complete loyalty to God's will" (24)
(4)★ To become perfect, we need not understand the designs of God, but only obey them.
- "Holiness is produced in us by the will of God and our acceptance of it. It is not produced by intellectual speculation about it...The desire to know more about it will only drive it further away." (27)
(5) The reading of good books and any other pious exercises are useless unless they are the channels through which God operates.
- "All our learning should consist of finding out what God has planned for us at each moment. Anything we read which is not chosen for us by God is harmful." (27)
- "...the will of God is now manifesting itself in those circumstances which are the duty of the present moment. It is the fulfilling of this duty, no matter in what guise it presents itself, which does most to make one holy." (28)
- real productivity: "All our moments are made productive by our obedience to the will of God, which reveals itself in a thousand different ways, each of which successively becomes our immediate duty." (28)
(6) The use of our reason and other faculties is profitable only when it serves as an instrument of God's activity.
- "Contemplation stands supreme, for it is the most effective means of achieving this union, if God wills it." (30)
(7)★ We cannot enjoy true peace unless we submit to God's will.
- "If you are not satisfied with what God chooses for you, what else can please you?" (31)
- Just because it is "good" doesn't mean it is God's will: "If books, the example of the saints and discussions about spiritual matters, do nothing but disturb our peace of mind, and if we feel satiated but unsatisfied by them, it is a sure sign that we have not truly abandoned ourselves to God's will, and we are occupying with these things out of self-love...In reality, nothing benefits us that does not arise from God's will, and there is absolutely nothing that gives us more peace or does more to make us holy than obeying the will of God." (31)
(8) There is only one way to judge how holy we are: how closely we obey the will of God.
(9) To become holy is very easy when this doctrine is properly understood.
II. Embrace the present moment as an ever-flowing source of holiness.
(1) The activity of God is everywhere and always present, but it is visible only in the eye of faith.
(2) The will of God often appears repulsive, but faith enables us to see it as it really is.
(3) Every moment is crammed with infinite riches which are given us according to the extent of our faith and love.
(4) God reveals himself to us through the most commonplace happenings in a way just as mysterious and just as truly and as worthy of adoration as in the great occurrences of history and the Scriptures.
(5) God continues to write his word in our hearts, but the characters will not be seen until the day of judgment.
(6) The work of God in its daily manifestations is often treated by many Christians as Jesus Christ was treated by the Jews.
- "Now let me tell you that the will of God is all that is necessary, and what it does not give you is of no use to you at all." (46)
- "You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more nor less than blasphemies." (47)
(7) The love of God comes to us through all creatures but hidden as it is in the Blessed Sacrament.
(8) The disclosure that each moment brings is of such great value because it is meant for us personally.
(9) The present moment is an ever-flowing source of holiness
(10) The present moment always reveals the presence and the power of God.
- "Every moment we live through is like an ambassador who declares the will of God." (50)
- "We can find all that is necessary in the present moment." (51)
(11) The action of God inspires souls to seek the highest degree of holiness. What is required from each soul is complete abandonment to this activity.
- "So I shall no longer try to find you within the narrow limits of a book, in the life of a saint, or in some high-flown philosophy. All these are only drops of that ocean which flows over us all. God's activity moves through everything, and all else are but mere fragments which disappear within it." (54)
- "You give me...a chisel to shape my human form into one worthy of heaven." (54)
(12) Only God's activity can make us holy, for it alone can make us imitate the perfection of our Lord.
- "We are astonished by and glorify God's activities when we read about them, yet when he wishes to continue writing about them on our hearts we become restive and prevent him from doing so by our curiosity to see what he is doing in and around us." (57)
III. To surrender to God is to practice every virtue.
(1) The life of God in the soul.
(2) How God guides the soul through every kind of obscurity.
- cf Job 1:21 - "Whatever the world offers them is nothing...If he takes from them their powers of thought and speech, their books, their food, their friends, their health, and even life itself, it means no more to them than if he did the exact opposite." (61)
(3) Abandonment contains in itself pure faith, hope, and love.
(4) Abandonment involves the most heroic generosity.
- "Faith also produces a certain detachment of soul which enables us to handle any situation and every kind of person. With faith we are never unhappy and never weak." (64)
(5) Abandonment and pure faith do more for the soul than good works.
(6) Abandonment contains within itself the virtues of all other spiritual exercises.
- "So it is no business of ours to decide what our submission to God will bring to us. All we must do is submit to everything and be ready for every possibility...Everything else is his affair." (66)
(7) Everyone is called to enjoy the infinite benefits of this state.
(8) A pure heart and perfect abandonment bring us all the treasures of grace.
IV. Complete surrender to the will of God is the essence of spirituality.
(1) The complete and entire surrender of themselves to God is the supreme duty of souls called by him to the state of abandonment.
(2) If we wish to reach the state of abandonment, we must get rid of any love for created things.
(3) The active exercise of abandonment.
(4) How those people live who have been called to the state of abandonment.
- "We must be active in all that the present moment demands of us, but in everything else remain passive and abandoned and o nothing but peacefully await the promptings of God." (79)
(5) If we wish to be united to God we should value all the operations of his grace, but we should cling only to the duties of the present moment.
(6)★ From abandoned souls, God demands complete surrender to his grace.
- abandonment vs aimlessness: "If feel drawn to this person or this book...We must give ourselves to whatever God wishes and for as long as he wishes and yet never get personally involved in them...There is never a moment when there is not some virtue to be practiced." (81)
- "the duty of the present moment" (81)
(7) If we are truly docile, we shall ask no questions about the road along which God is taking us.
- "When we are led by this action, we have no idea where we are going, for the paths we tread cannot be discovered from books or by any of our thoughts. But these paths are always opened in front of us and we are impelled along them." (83)
(8) This perfect abandonment is as simple as its results are marvelous.
V. Only complete and true faith enables the soul to accept with joy everything that happens to it.
(1) The reproaches are unjustifiable criticisms of people said to be wise and pious.
(2) The apparent uselessness and faults of people chosen by God for the state of abandonment.
(3)★ Interior humiliations.
- "God knows how to make us holy, so let us leave the business to him and think no more about it." (91-92)
(4) The darkness in which these abandoned souls live and their apparent opposition to the will of God.
(5) The outcome of these trials and the conduct of the soul enduring them.
VI. All will be well if we abandon ourselves to God.
(1) God truly helps us however much we may feel we have lost his support.
- "Put your trust in God, who would not have taken away our ability to walk unless he was to carry us in his arms." (100)
(2) The afflictions which souls endure are loving deceptions of God which will one day fill them with great joy.
(3)★ The more God seems to take from the abandoned soul, the more he is really giving it.
- beautiful image of God weaving us into a tapestry on 104
(4) God seems to blind the abandoned soul, but, in fact, he is guiding it very safely.
(5) Although the abandoned soul seems incapable of defending itself, God himself protects it with all his powers.
(6) An abandoned soul is not afraid of its enemies, but finds them useful allies.
(7) An abandoned soul never need try to justify itself by word or deed. God does that.
(8) An abandoned soul is preserved by God by means which seem more likely to destroy it.
(9) The love God showers on us replaces everything for us if we accept it.
- "For those who abandon themselves to it, God's love contains every good thing, and if you long for it with all your heart and soul it will be yours." (114)
(10) When the soul has embraced abandonment it receives more insight and strength, by its submission to God's will, than do all those who defy it because of their pride.
- "The more knowledge and intelligence a person has, the more misgivings we should have about him unless he has not that basic piety which consists in being happy to serve God and do all he wants." (116)
(11) To the abandoned soul God is visible even in the proud souls who oppose him. Every creature, whether good or evil, reveals God to him.
(12) To all his faithful souls, God promises a glorious victory over the powers of the world and of hell.
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