The Three Ages of the interior Life
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THE THREE AGES OF THE INTERIOR LIFE
Prelude of Eternal Life
by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.The summary of a course in ascetical and mystical theology given for over 20 years at the Angelicum in Rome

PART 1
 
Preface
 
 
This work represents the summary of a course in ascetical and mystical theology which we have been giving for twenty years at the Angelicum in Rome. In this book we take up in a simpler and higher manner the study of the same subjects that we treated in two other works: Christian Perfection and Contemplation and L' amour de Dieu et la croix de Jesus. Complying with a request, we offer in this volume our preceding research in the form of a synthesis, in which the different parts mutually balance and illuminate each other. In accordance with advice from various groups, we have eliminated from this exposition discussions to which it is no longer necessary to return. The book thus conceived is accessible to all interior souls.
We have not given this study the form of a manual because we are not seeking to accumulate knowledge, as is too often done in academic overloading, but to form the mind, to give it the firmness of principles and the suppleness required for the variety of their applications, in order that it may thus be capable of judging the problems which may arise. The humanities were formerly conceived in this fashion, whereas often today minds are transformed into manuals, into repertories, or even into collections of opinions and of formulas, whose reasons and profound consequences they do not seek to know.

Moreover, questions of spirituality, because they are most vital and at times most hidden, do not easily fall into the framework of a manual; or to put the matter more clearly, great risk is run of being superficial in materially classifying things and in substituting an artificial mechanism for the profound dynamism of the life of grace, of the infused virtues, and of the gifts. This explains why the great spiritual writers have not set forth their thought under this schematic form, which risks giving us a skeleton where we seek for life.

In these questions we have followed particularly three doctors of the Church who have treated these matters, each from his own point of view: St. Thomas, St. John of the Cross, and St. Francis de Sales. In the light of the theological principles of St. Thomas, we have tried to grasp what is most traditional in the mystical doctrine of The Dark Night by St. John of the Cross and in the Treatise on the Love of God by St. Francis de Sales.

We have thus found a confirmation of what we believe to be the truth about the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith, which seems to us more and more to be in the normal way of sanctity and to be morally necessary to the full perfection of Christian life. In certain advanced souls, this infused contemplation does not yet appear as a habitual state, but from time to time as a transitory act, which in the interval remains more or less latent, although it throws its light on their entire life. However, if these souls are generous, docile to the Holy Ghost, faithful to prayer and to continual interior recollection, their faith becomes increasingly contemplative, penetrating, and full of savor, and it directs their action while making it ever more fruitful. In this sense, we maintain and we explain what seems to us the traditional teaching, which is more and more accepted today: namely, that the normal prelude of the vision of heaven, the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith, is, by docility to the Holy Ghost, prayer, and the cross, accessible to all fervent interior souls.

We believe also that, according to the doctrine of the greatest spiritual writers, notably of St. John of the Cross, there is a degree of perfection that is not obtained without the passive purifications, properly so called, which are a mystical state. This seems to us clearly indicated by all the teaching of St. John of the Cross on these passive purifications, and in particular by these two texts of capital importance from The Dark Night: "The night of sense is common, and the lot of many: these are the beginners"; "In the blessed night of the purgation of sense, the soul began to set out on the way of the spirit, the way of beginners and proficients, which is also called the illuminative way, or the way of infused contemplation, wherein God Himself teaches and refreshes the soul without meditation or any active efforts that itself may deliberately make." (1)

We have never said, moreover, as some have asserted we did, that "the state of infused contemplation, properly so called, is the only normal way to reach the perfection of charity." This infused contemplation, in fact, generally begins only with the passive purification of the senses, or, according to St. John of the Cross, at the beginning of the full illuminative way such as he describes it. Many souls are, therefore, in the normal way of sanctity before receiving infused contemplation, properly so called; but this contemplation, we say, is in the normal way of sanctity, at the summit of this way.

Without fully agreeing with us, a contemporary theologian, who is a professor of ascetical and mystical theology in the Gregorian University, wrote about our book, Christian Perfection and Contemplation, and that of Father Joret, O.P., La contemplation mystique d'apres saint Thomas d'Aquin: "No one could seriously dispute the fact that this doctrine is remarkably constructed and superbly arrived at; that it sets forth with beautiful lucidity the spiritual riches of Dominican theology in the definitive form given to it in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by the great interpreters of St. Thomas, namely, Cajetan, Banez, and John of St. Thomas; that the synthesis thus presented groups in a strong and harmonious unity a considerable mass of teaching and experience of Catholic spiritual tradition; and that it allows the full value of many of the most beautiful pages of our great contemplatives to be brought out." (2)

The author of these lines adds that everything in this synthesis is not of equal value and does not have the same authority. It is certain that after the truths of faith and the commonly received theological conclusions, which represent what is surest in the sum of theological science, what we put forward on the authority of St. Thomas and of his best commentators does not command our adherence to the same extent as the principles which are its foundation. Yet it is difficult to subtract from this synthesis a single important element without compromising its solidity and harmony.

Has not a notable harmony already been realized when we consider that the most attentive critics recognize the admirable construction and superb growth of a doctrine?

The Carmelite Congress held at Madrid in 1923, the conclusions of which were published in the review, El Monte Carmela (Burgos), May, 1923, recognized the truth of these two important points on the subject of infused contemplation (Theme V): "The state of contemplation is characterized by the growing predominance of the gifts of the Holy Ghost and by the superhuman mode with which all good actions are performed. As the virtues find their ultimate perfection in the gifts, and as the gifts find their perfect actualization in contemplation, it follows that contemplation is the ordinary 'way' of sanctity and of habitually heroic virtue."

In his Precis de theologie ascetique et mystique (1928), Father Tanquerey, the Sulpician, joins also in this teaching, to the extent that he writes:

"When infused contemplation is considered independently of the extraordinary mystical phenomena that sometimes accompany it, it is not something miraculous or abnormal, but the result of two causes: the growth of our supernatural organism, especially of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and of an operating grace which is itself in no way miraculous. . . . This doctrine seems clearly to be the traditional doctrine such as it is found in the works of mystical authors, from Clement of Alexandria to St. Francis de Sales. . . . Almost all these authors treat contemplation as the normal crowning of Christian life. (3)

"With the same meaning we can quote what St. Ignatius of Loyola says in a well-known letter to St. Francis Borgia. (Rome, 1548): "Without these gifts (divine impressions and illuminations), all our thoughts, words, and works are imperfect, cold, and troubled. We ought to desire these gifts that by them our works may become just, ardent, and clear for the greater service of God." In 1924, Father Peeters, S.J., in chapter 8 of his interesting study, Vers l'union divine par les exercices de saint Ignace (Museum Lessianum, Bruges), wrote: "What does the author of the Exercises think of the universal vocation to the mystical state? It is impossible to admit that he considers it a quasi-abnormal exception. . . . His optimistic confidence in the divine liberality is known. "Few men," said the saint, "suspect what God would make them if they placed no obstacle to His work" Such, in truth, is human weakness that only a singularly generous elite accepts the formidable exigencies of grace. Heroism never was and never will be banal, and sanctity cannot be conceived without heroism. . . .

"In the entire book of the Exercises, with an insistence revealing his deep conviction, he offers to his generous disciples the unlimited hope of the divine communications, the possibility of attaining God, of tasting the sweetness of the divinity, of entering into immediate communication with God, of aspiring to the divine familiarity. He said: "The more the soul attaches itself to God and shows itself generous toward Him, the more apt it becomes to receive graces and spiritual gifts in abundance." . . .

"This is putting it still too mildly. The graces of prayer seem to him not only desirable, but hypothetically necessary to eminent sanctity, especially in apostolic men. (4)

This is what we wished to show in the present work. Agreement on these great questions is increasingly acknowledged, and is also more real than it seems. Some, who are professional theologians as we ourselves are, consider the life of grace, the seed of glory, in itself in order to judge what ought to be the full, normal development of the infused virtues and of the gifts, the proximate disposition for receiving the beatific vision without passing through purgatory; in other words, their full development in a completely purified soul that has profited richly by the trials of life on earth and no longer has to expiate its faults after death. Whence we conclude that infused contemplation is, in principle or in theory, in the normal way of sanctity, although there are exceptions arising from the individual temperament or from absorbing occupations or from less favorable surroundings, and so on. (5)

Other authors, considering especially the facts, or the individual souls in which the life of grace exists, declare there are truly generous interior souls that do not reach this summit, which is, nevertheless, in itself the full, normal development of habitual grace, of the infused virtues, and of the gifts.

Spiritual theology, like every science, ought to consider the interior life as such, and not in a given individual in the midst of rather unfavorable given circumstances. Because there are stunted oaks, it does not follow that the oak is not a tall tree. Spiritual theology, while noting the exceptions that may arise from the absence of a given condition, ought especially to establish the higher laws of the full development of the life of grace as such, and the proximate disposition to receive the beatific vision immediately in a fully purified soul.

Purgatory, being a punishment, presupposes a fault that we could have avoided and that we could have expiated before death by accepting the trials of the present life with an ever better will. We are seeking here to determine the normal way of sanctity or of a perfection such that one could enter heaven immediately after death. From this point of view, we must consider the life of grace inasmuch as it is the seed of eternal life, and consequently it is the correct idea of eternal life, the end of our course, which must illuminate the entire road to be traveled. Movement is not specified by its point of departure or by the obstacles it encounters, but by the end toward which it tends. Thus the life of grace must be defined by eternal life of which it is the seed; and then the proximate and perfect disposition to receive the beatific vision immediately is in the normal way of sanctity.

In the following pages we insist far more on the principles generally accepted in theology, by showing their value and their radiation, than on the variety of opinions on one particular point or another proposed by often quite secondary authors. There are some recent works, already indicated, which mention all these opinions in detail. We propose another aim, and that is why we quote mostly from the greatest masters. Constant recourse to the foundations of their doctrine seems to us what is most necessary for the formation of the mind, which is more important than erudition. The secondary ought not make us forget the primary, and the complexity of certain questions ought not to make us lose sight of the certitude of the great directive principles that illuminate all spirituality. We ought particularly not to be content with repeating these principles like I so many platitudes, but to scrutinize them, to probe their depths, and to revert to them continually that we may better understand I them.

Doubtless such a course of action lays one open to repetition; but those who seek true theological science over and above contingent opinions which may be in vogue for several years, know that it is above all wisdom. They know that it is not so much preoccupied with deducing new conclusions, but with connecting all the more or less numerous conclusions with the same higher principles, like the different sides of a pyramid with the same apex. Then the fact that in relation to every problem we recall the loftiest principle of the synthesis is not a repetition but a way of drawing near to circular contemplation, which, St. Thomas says,(6) ever reverts to the same eminent truth the better to grasp all its potentialities, and which, like the flight of a bird, describes several times the same circle around the same point. This center, like the apex of a pyramid, is in its way a symbol of the single instant of immobile eternity, which corresponds to all the successive instants of time that passes. From this point of view, our readers will pardon us for repeating several times the same dominant themes which constitute the charm, the unity, and the grandeur of spiritual theology.
 

Translator's Preface
 
 
This translation of Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's synthesis of the spiritual life, Les Trois Ages de la Vie Interieure, has been made possible by the interest and encouragement of Mother Mary Samuel, O.P., Mother General of the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters.
Gratitude is due especially to the Very Reverend Peter O'Brien, O.P., S.T.Lr., Ph.D., Provincial of the Province of St. Albert the Great, River Forest, Illinois, for reading the manuscript, to other Fathers of the Dominican House of Studies in River Forest for criticisms and helpful suggestions, and to Sister Mary Aquinas Devlin, O.P., Chairman of the Department of English, Rosary College, for reading the entire manuscript.

Grateful acknowledgement is also made to the Benedictines of Stanbrook Abbey for permission to use quotations from their editions of The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle; to Thomas Baker for quotations from the Works of St. John of the Cross; to Benziger Brothers for the many quotations from their English edition of the Summa Theologica; to Burns, Oates, Washbourne for quotations from The Dialogue.

This translation is offered to Mary, Queen of the Most Holy rosary and Mediatrix of All Graces, and to St. Mary Magdalen, protectress of the Order of Preachers and patroness of the interior life, as a prayer that it may lead many souls to the contemplation of the mysteries of salvation in which they shared so profoundly.

Sister M. Timothea Doyle, O.P.

 
Foreword
 
 
 Sister Mary Timothea Doyle has done us a real service in giving us this translation of Father R. Garrigou-Lagrange's classical work Les Trois Ages de la Vie Interieure. Doctrinally sound, this work has been accepted for its clear presentation of the way of perfection or, as St. Francis de Sales calls it, the life of devotion. The author is profound in his studies without losing that clarity of thought which is so necessary and helpful in works on the spiritual life. Analyzing the teaching of the great masters through the centuries, he has succeeded in giving us a synthesis of their thought which cannot but be helpful to those who are seeking closer and closer union with God.
The basic thought of this book is given in the words of our Blessed Savior: "Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." We are called in our vocation as sons of God to dare to imitate divine perfection-to be participators of the divine nature. Our supernatural birthright, lost to us in Eden, was restored in the blood of the Savior on Calvary. Indeed human nature is weak, but in the grace of God it can soar to the heights of perfection and hold before it as its ideal the very perfection of God. To be in very truth in the light of Christian doctrine a son of God is the worthiest ambition of our souls.

The way is love. To be encompassed in the love of God for us and to seek always supernaturally to return to God love is the spiritual life of the Christian soul. Now love impels the soul to union with God, and God in His love gives the soul the capacity for supernatural union with Him. All the teachings on the spiritual life are synthesized in this one thought - love. Just how God leads the soul in divine love and how the soul may exercise itself in the discipline of love is the subject matter of the great works on the spiritual life.

Sublime indeed is the thought that Christian charity brings to our minds. We reach up to God, and God reaches down to us, and in divine love we are made sharers of the Divinity. All things we love in God, and because we love them in God we seek to realize in our use of them and relations with them the harmony of the divine will. Of its very nature charity is not quiescent but operative. The soul in the pursuit of the way of perfection labors tirelessly according to its state in life to bring all men to God. Were it to content itself with its own perfection, it would lose the very thing it seeks. How can we love God and not love with God? How can we find God without searching in love for the things which God loves? Certainly one of the fruits of the spiritual life is peace, but this peace postulates our conforming our wills with the divine will. All the noble aspirations of the heart of man, aspirations which so often seem unrealizable in our condition of human weakness, are answered in our seeking to be ever more and more perfect in the spiritual life.

Men are talking much these days about realism, and they tell us that in life idealism must yield to compromise. Yet in every circumstance in life we can be sons of God in supernatural union with Him. This fact is the very basis of true Christian realism. We must not and dare not be defeatists. What human nature can never do can be done in the supernatural power of divine grace. It is therefore opportune in these times to give us this translation of this classical work of the spiritual life because it strengthens us in our effort to work out more perfectly our vocation of sons of God. We can build a better world. Human weakness is not an impassable barrier. The Savior died on the cross for us and rose to glorious life. With the graces of Redemption we are strong enough to labor for the realization of God's plan and on our way to heaven to love with an operative love all those whom we meet on our pilgrimage of life.

We hope that pious souls will read this book, ponder over its pages, and gain new strength from it. It is a challenge to Christians to arise and labor unceasingly for the kingdom of Christ - wherein there is peace and true progress.

Samuel Cardinal Stritch Archbishop of Chicago

Footnotes
 
 1.  Bk. I, chaps. 8, 14.
2. J. de Guibert, S.J., Revue d'ascetique et de mystique, July, 1924, p. 294. See also the same author's work: Theologia spiritualis ascetica et mystica (Rome, 193tJ), pp. 374-89. On page 381 of this work Father de Guibert concedes us a great deal in teaching: "Although generous souls may ordinarily seem not really to reach perfection unless God grants them some touches of or brief participations in those graces which constitute infused contemplation, properly so called, the way or state of infused contemplation is, nevertheless, not the only normal way to the perfection of charity; and therefore souls can ascend to any degree of sanctity if they go by this way in the habitual manner."

We do not say that the state of infused contemplation is the only normal way of sanctity, but that it is at the summit of the normal way of sanctity. We wish to show in the present work that there is a degree of perfection and also of reparatory life which remains inaccessible as a characterized state without the passive purifications of the senses arid spirit, properly so called.

In this teaching we differ from Father de Guibert, and we think that we follow the traditional doctrine of the great spiritual writers, notably St. John of the Cross, in the passage where he speaks of the necessity of these two passive purifications for removing the defects of beginners and those of proficients (cf. The Dark Night, Bk. I, chaps. 8 f.; Bk. II, chaps. 2 f.). Exterior sufferings are doubtless also very purifying, but, without the passive purifications, properly so called, they are not supported with all the perfection required. St. John of the Cross points out (ibid.) that if these purifications are undergone only at intervals, the soul does not reach the summit which he speaks of.

3. Nos. 1564, 1566.

4.  Father Peeters expresses himself in like manner in the second revised and augmented edition of this same work (1931), pp 216-21.

5. This distinction explains, we believe, certain apparent contradictions in the writings of St. Teresa, which she herself has pointed out, saying that they are not real.

In many texts she speaks of the general call of interior souls to the living waters of prayer, and in other texts she speaks of particular cases. Thus she says in chapter 20 of The Way of Perfection: "The last chapter seems to contradict what I said when, to console those who were not contemplatives, I told them that God had made many ways of reaching Him, just as He has made 'many mansions.' " And she holds as a fact the principle of the general call, which she explains anew: "I repeat that His Majesty, being God, knows our weakness and has provided for us. He did not say: 'Let some men come to Me by some other means.' His mercy is so great that He hinders no one from drinking of the fountain of life. . . . Indeed, He calls us loudly and publicly to do so ('Jesus stood and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink.' John 7:37). . . . You see, sisters, there is no fear you will die of drought on the way of prayer. . . . Then take my advice; do not loiter on the road, but struggle manfully until you perish in the attempt." The restrictions made by St. Teresa do not concern the general and remote call, but the individual and proximate call, as we have explained. Cf. Christian Perfection and Contemplation, pp. 345-81.

6. See IIa, IIae, q.180, a.6.
 

Introduction 
 
 
 
I. THE ONE THING NECESSARY
II. THE QUESTION OF THE ONE THING NECESSARY AT THE PRESENT TIME

III. THE AIM OF THIS WORK

IV. THE OBJECT OF ASCETICAL AND MYSTICAL THEOLOGY

V. THE METHOD OF ASCETICAL AND MYSTICAL THEOLOGY

VI. THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN ASCETICAL AND MYSTICAL THEOLOGY AND THEIR RELATIONS TO EACH OTHER

VII. DIVISION OF THIS WORK
 

We propose in this book to synthesize two other works, Christian Perfection and Contemplation, and L'amour de Dieu et la croix de Jesus. In those two works we studied, in the light of the principles of St. Thomas, the main problems of the spiritual life and in particular one which has been stated more explicitly in recent years, namely: Is the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith and the union with God which results therefrom an intrinsically extraordinary grace, or is it, on the contrary, in the normal way of sanctity?

We purpose here to consider these questions again in a simpler and loftier manner, with the perspective needed the better to see the subordination of all the elements of the interior life in relation to union with God. With this end in view, we shall consider first of all the foundations of the interior life, then the elimination of obstacles, the progress of the soul purified and illuminated by the light of the Holy Ghost, the docility which it ought to have toward Him, and finally the union with God which the soul attains by this docility, by the spirit of prayer, and by the cross borne with patience, gratitude, and love.

By way of introduction, we shall briefly recall what constitutes the one thing necessary for every Christian, and we shall also recall how urgently this question is being raised at the present time.

I. THE ONE THING NECESSARY

As everyone can easily understand, the interior life is an elevated form of intimate conversation which everyone has with himself as soon as he is alone, even in the tumult of a great city. From the moment he ceases to converse with his fellow men, man converses interiorly with himself about what preoccupies him most. This conversation varies greatly according to the different ages of life; that of an old man is not that of a youth. It also varies greatly according as a man is good or bad.

As soon as a man seriously seeks truth and goodness, this intimate conversation with himself tends to become conversation with God. Little by little, instead of seeking himself in everything, instead of tending more or less consciously to make himself a center, man tends to seek God in everything, and to substitute for egoism love of God and of souls in Him. This constitutes the interior life. No sincere man will have any difficulty in recognizing it. The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary (1) consists in hearing the word of God and living by it.

The interior life thus conceived is something far more profound and more necessary in us than intellectual life or the cultivation of the sciences, than artistic or literary life, than social or political life. Unfortunately, some great scholars, mathematicians, physicists, and astronomers have no interior life, so to speak, but devote themselves to the study of their science as if God did not exist. In their mo­ments of solitude they have no intimate conversation with Him. Their life appears to be in certain respects the search for the true and the good in a more or less definite and restricted domain, but it is so tainted with self-love and intellectual pride that we may legitimately question whether it will bear fruit for eternity. Many artists, literary men, and statesmen never rise above this level of purely human activity which is, in short, quite exterior. Do the depths of their souls live by God? It would seem not.

This shows that the interior life, or the life of the soul with God, well deserves to be called the one thing necessary, since by it we tend to our last end and assure our salvation. This last must not be too widely separated from progressive sanctification, for it is the very way of salvation.

There are those who seem to think that it is sufficient to be saved and that it is not necessary to be a saint. It is clearly not necessary to be a saint who performs miracles and whose sanctity is officially recognized by the Church. To be saved, we must take the way of salvation, which is identical with that of sanctity. There will be only saints in heaven, whether they enter there immediately after death or after purification in purgatory. No one enters heaven unless he has that sanctity which consists in perfect purity of soul. Every sin though it should be venial, must be effaced, and the punishment due to sin must be borne or remitted, in order that a soul may enjoy forever the vision of God, see Him as He sees Himself, and love Him as He loves Himself. Should a soul enter heaven before the total remission of its sins, it could not remain there and it would cast itself into purgatory to be purified.

The interior life of a just man who tends toward God and who already lives by Him is indeed the one thing necessary. To be a saint, neither intellectual culture nor great exterior activity is a requisite; it suffices that we live profoundly by God. This truth is evident in the saints of the early Church; several of those saints were poor people, even slaves. It is evident also in St. Francis, St. Benedict Joseph Labre, in the Cure of Ars, and many others. They all had a deep understanding of these words of our Savior: "For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?" (2) If people sacrifice so many things to save the life of the body, which must ultimately die, what should we not sacrifice to save the life of our soul, which is to last forever? Ought not man to love his soul more than his body? "Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?" our Lord adds. (3) "One thing is necessary," He tells us.(4) To save our soul, one thing alone is necessary: to hear the word of God and to live by it. Therein lies the best part, which will not be taken away from a faithful soul even though it should lose everything else.

II. THE QUESTION OF THE ONE THING NECESSARY AT THE PRESENT TIME

What we have just said is true at all times; but the question of the interior life is being more sharply raised today than in several periods less troubled than ours. The explanation of this interest lies in the fact that many men have separated themselves from God and tried to organize intellectual and social life without Him. The great problems that have always preoccupied humanity have taken on a new and sometimes tragic aspect. To wish to get along without God, first Cause and last End, leads to an abyss; not only to nothingness, but also to physical and moral wretchedness that is worse than noth­ingness. Likewise, great problems grow exasperatingly serious, and man must finally perceive that all these problems ultimately lead to the fundamental religious problem; in other words, he will finally have to declare himself entirely for God or against Him. This is in its essence the problem of the interior life. Christ Himself says: "He that is not with Me is against Me." (5)

The great modern scientific and social tendencies, in the midst of the conflicts that arise among them and in spite of the opposition of those who represent them, converge in this way, whether one wills it or not, toward the fundamental question of the intimate rela­tions of man with God. This point is reached' after many deviations. When man will no longer fulfill his great religious duties toward God who created him and who is his last End, he makes a religion for himself since he absolutely cannot get along without religion. To replace the superior ideal which he has abandoned, man may, for example, place his religion in science or in the cult of social justice or in some human ideal, which finally he considers in a religious manner and even in a mystical manner. Thus he turns away from supreme reality, and there arises a vast number of problems that will be solved only if he returns to the fundamental problem of the intimate relations of the soul with God.

It has often been remarked that today science pretends to be a religion. Likewise socialism and communism claim to be a code of ethics and present themselves under the guise of a feverish cult of justice, thereby trying to captivate hearts and minds. As a matter of fact, the modern scholar seems to have a scrupulous devotion to the scientific method. He cultivates it to such a degree that he often seems to prefer the method of research to the truth. If he bestowed equally serious care on his interior life, he would quickly reach sanctity. Often, however, this religion of science is directed toward the apotheosis of man rather than toward the love of God. As much must be said of social activity, particularly under the form it assumes in socialism and communism. It is inspired by a mysticism which purposes a transfiguration of man, while at times it denies in the most absolute manner the rights of God.

This is simply a reiteration of the statement that the religious problem of the relations of man with God is at the basis of every great problem. We must declare ourselves for or against Him; indifference is no longer possible, as our times show in a striking manner. The present world-wide economic crisis demonstrates what men can do when they seek to get along without God.

Without God, the seriousness of life gets out of focus. If religion is no longer a grave matter but something to smile at, then the serious element in life must be sought elsewhere. Some place it, or pretend to place it, in science or in social activity; they devote the selves religiously to the search for scientific truth or to the establishment of justice between classes or peoples. After a while they are forced to perceive that they have ended in fearful disorder and that the relations between individuals and nations become more and more difficult, if not impossible. As St. Augustine and St. Thomas (6) have said, it is evident that the same material goods, as opposed to those of the spirit, cannot at one and the same time belong integrally to several persons. The same house, the same land, cannot simultaneously belong wholly to several men, nor the same territory to several nations. As a result, interests conflict when man feverishly makes these lesser goods his last end.

St. Augustine, on the other hand, insists on the fact that the same spiritual goods can belong simultaneously and integrally to all and to each individual in particular. Without doing harm to another, we can fully possess the same truth, the same virtue, the same God. This is why our Lord says to us: "Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God and His justice; and all these things shall be added unto you." (7) Failure to hearken to this lesson, is to work at one's destruction and to verify once more the words of the Psalmist: "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it." (8)

If the serious element in life is out of focus, if it no longer is concerned with our duties toward God, but with the scientific and social activities of man; if man continually seeks himself instead of God, his last End, then events are not slow in showing him that he has taken an impossible way, which leads not only to nothingness, but to unbearable disorder and misery. We must again and again revert to Christ's words: "He that is not with Me, is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth." (9) The facts confirm this declaration.

We conclude logically that religion can give an efficacious and truly realistic answer to the great modern problems only if it is a religion that is profoundly lived, not simply a superficial and cheap religion made up of some vocal prayers and some ceremonies in which religious art has more place than true piety. As a matter of fact, no religion that is profoundly lived is without an interior life, without that intimate and frequent conversation which we have not only with ourselves but with God.

The last encyclicals of Pope Pius XI make this clear. To respond to what is good in the general aspirations of nations, aspirations to justice and charity among individuals, classes, and peoples, the Holy Father wrote the encyclicals on Christ the King, on His sanctifying influence in all His mystical body, on the family, on the sanctity of Christian marriage, on social questions, on the necessity of reparation, and on the missions. In all these encyclicals he deals with the reign of Christ over all humanity. The logical conclusion to be drawn is that religion, the interior life, must be profound, must be a true life of union with God if it is to keep the pre-eminence it should have over scientific and social activities. This is a manifest necessity.


   
Footnotes

   
 1. Luke 10:41.
2. Matt. 16::6.

3. Ibid.

4. Luke 10:41.

5. Matt. 12:30.

6. Ct. St. Thomas, Ia IIae, q.28, a.4 ad 2um; IIIa, q.23, a.1 ad 3um.

7. Matt. 6:33

8. Ps. 126:1.

9. Matt. 12:3


III. THE AIM OF THIS WORK

How shall we deal with the interior life? We shall not take up in a technical manner many questions about sanctifying grace and the infused virtues that have been treated at length by theologians. We assume them here, and we shall revert to them only in the measure necessary for the understanding of what the spiritual life should be.
Our aim is to invite souls to become more interior and to tend to union with God. To do so, two very different dangers must be avoided.

Rather frequently the spirit animating scientific research even in these matters tarries over details to such an extent that the mind is turned away from the contemplation of divine things. The majority of interior souls do not need many of the critical studies indispensable to the theologian. To understand them, they would need a philosophical initiation which they do not possess and which, in a sense, would hamper them who in an instant and in a different manner go higher, as in the case of St. Francis of Assisi. He was astonished to see that in the course of philosophy given to his religious, time was taken to prove the existence of God. Today, occasionally exaggerated specialization in studies produces in many minds a lack of the general view needed to judge wisely of things, even of those in which they are especially interested and whose relation with every thing else they no longer see. The cult of detail ought not to make us lose sight of the whole. Instead of becoming spiritual, we would then become materialistic, and under pretext of exact and detailed learning, we would turn away from the true interior life and from lofty Christian wisdom.

On the other hand, many books on religious subjects that are written in a popular style, and many pious books lack a solid doctrinal foundation. Popularization, because the kind of simplification imposed upon it is material rather than formal, often avoids the examination of certain fundamental and difficult problems from which, nevertheless, light would come, and at times the light of life.

To avoid these two opposite dangers, we shall follow the way pointed out by St. Thomas, who was not a popularizer and who is still the great classic authority on theology. He rose from the learned complexity of his first works and of the Quaestiones disputatae to the superior simplicity of the most beautiful articles of the Summa theologica. He ascended to this height so well that at the end of his life, absorbed in lofty contemplation, he could not dictate the end of his Summa because he could no longer descend to the complexity of the questions and articles that he still wished to compose.

The cult of detail and that of superficial simplification, each in its way alienates the soul from Christian contemplation, which rises above these opposing deviations like a summit toward which all prayerful souls tend.

IV. THE OBJECT OF ASCETICAL AND MYSTICAL THEOLOGY

One sees from the matter which ascetical and mystical theology should treat that it is a branch or a part of theology, an application of theology to the direction of souls. It must, therefore, proceed under the light of revelation, which alone gives a knowledge of the nature of the life of grace and of the supernatural union of the soul with God.

This part of theology is, above all, a development of the treatise on the love of God and of that on the gifts of the Holy Ghost, to show how they are applied or to lead souls to divine union.(10)  Similarly, casuistry is, in a less elevated domain, an application of moral theology to the practical discernment of what is obligatory under pain of mortal or venial sin. Moral theology ought to treat, not only of sins to be avoided, but of virtues to be practiced, and of docility in following the inspirations of the Holy Ghost. From this point of view, its applications are called ascetical and mystical theology.

Ascetical theology treats especially of the mortification of vices or defects and of the practice of the virtues. Mystical theology treats principally of docility to the Holy Ghost, of the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith, of the union with God which proceeds from it, and also of extraordinary graces, such as visions and revelations, which sometimes accompany infused contemplation.(11)

We shall examine the question whether ascetical theology is essentially ordained to mystical theology by asking whether the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith and the union with God that results from it is an essentially extraordinary grace, such as visions an revelations, or whether in the perfect it is not rather the eminent but normal exercise of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which are in all the just. The answer to this question, which has been discussed several times in recent years, will form the conclusion of this work.

V. THE METHOD OF ASCETICAL AND MYSTICAL THEOLOGY

We shall limit ourselves here to what is essential in regard to the method to be followed.(12) We must avoid two contrary deviations that are easily grasped: one would result from the almost exclusive use of the descriptive or inductive method, the other from a contrary excess.

The almost exclusive use of the descriptive or inductive method would lead us to forget that ascetical and mystical theology is a branch of theology, and we would end by considering it a part of experimental psychology. We would thus assemble only the material of mystical theology. By losing the directing light, all would be impoverished and diminished. Mystical theology must be set forth by the great principles of theology on the life of grace, on the infused virtues, and on the seven gifts; in so doing, light is shed on all of it, and one is face to face with a science and not a collection of more or less well described phenomena.

If the descriptive method were used almost exclusively, we would be struck especially by the more or less sensible signs of the mystical state and not by the basic law of the progress of grace, whose essential supernaturalness is of too elevated an order to fall under the grasp of observation. More attention might then be given to certain extraordinary and, so to speak, exterior graces, such as visions, revelations, stigmata, than to the normal and elevated development of sanctifying grace, of the infused virtues, and of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. By so doing, we might be led to confound with what is essentially extraordinary that which is only extrinsically so, that is, what is eminent but normal; to confound intimate union with God in its elevated forms with the extraordinary and relatively inferior graces which sometimes accompany it.

Lastly, the exclusive use of the descriptive method might give too much importance to this easily established fact, that intimate union with God and the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith are relatively rare. This idea might lead us to think that all interior and generous souls are not called to it, even in a general and remote manner.(13) This would be to forget the words of our Lord so frequently quoted by the mystics in this connection: "Many are called, but few are chosen."

On the other hand, care must be taken to avoid another deviation that would spring from the almost exclusive use of the deductive theological method. Some souls that are rather inclined to over-simplify things would be led to deduce the solution of the most difficult problems of spirituality by starting from the accepted doctrine in theology about the infused virtues and the gifts, as it is set forth by St. Thomas, without sufficiently considering the admirable descriptions given by St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, St. Francis de Sales, and other saints, of the various degrees of the spiritual life, especially of the mystical union. It is to these facts that the principles must be applied, or rather it is these facts, first of all well understood in themselves, that must be illuminated by the light of principles, especially to discern what is truly extraordinary in them and what is eminent but normal.

The excessive use of the deductive method in this case would lead to a confusion radically opposed to the one indicated above. Since, according to tradition and St. Thomas, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are in every soul in the state of grace, we might thus be inclined to believe that the mystical state or infused contemplation is very frequent, and we might confound with them what is only their prelude, as simplified effective prayer.(14) We would thus be led not to take sufficiently into account the concomitant phenomena of certain degrees of the mystical union, such as suspension of the faculties and ecstasy, and we would fall into the opposite extreme from that of the partisans of the solely descriptive method.

Practically, as a result of these two excesses two extremes also are to be avoided in spiritual direction: advising souls to leave the ascetical way too soon or too late. We will discuss this matter at length in the course of this work.

Obviously the two methods, the inductive and the deductive, or the analytic and the synthetic, must be combined.

The concepts and the facts of the spiritual life must be analyzed. First of all, must be analyzed the concepts of the interior life and of Christian perfection, of sanctity, which the Gospel gives us, in order that we may see clearly the end proposed by the Savior Himself to all interior souls, and see this end in all its elevation without in any way diminishing it. Then must be analyzed the facts: the imperfections of beginners, the active and passive purifications, the various degrees of union, and so on, to distinguish what is essential in them and what is accessory.

After this work of analysis, we must make a synthesis and point out what is necessary or very useful and desirable to reach the full perfection of Christian life, and what, on the other hand, is properly extraordinary and in no way required for the highest sanctity.(15)

Several of these questions are very difficult, either because of the elevation of the subject treated, or because of the contingencies that are met with in the application and that depend on the temperament of the persons to be directed or on the good pleasure of God, who, for example, sometimes grants the grace of contemplation to beginners and withdraws it temporarily from advanced souls. Because of these multiple difficulties, the study of ascetical and mystical theology requires a profound knowledge of theology, especially of the treatises on grace, on the infused virtues, on the gifts of the Holy Ghost in their relations with the great mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the redemption, and the Blessed Eucharist. It requires also familiarity with the great spiritual writers, especially those who have been designated by the Church as guides in these matters.


Footnotes
   
 10. This explains how St. Francis de Sales could set forth all that concerns ascetical and mystical theology under the title, Treatise on the Love of God.
11. We are speaking of doctrinal mystical theology. It hould be remem­bered that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries infused contemplation itself was sometimes called mystical theology.

12. In Christian Perfection and Contemplation, pp. 12-47, we dealt at greater length with the object and method of ascetical and mystical theology (the descriptive method, the deductive method, the union of the two), and we examined the position of the problem relative to the distinction between ascetical and mystical theology according to the texts of several ancient and modem writers.

13. We might also fail to distinguish sufficiently between the general and remote call and the individual and proximate call.

14. Some authors, by thus proceeding too a priori, have maintained that the actual influence of the gifts of the Holy Ghost is necessary even for a feeble act (remissus) of the infused virtues; for example, for an act of faith in which there is as yet no penetration or any relish of the mystery in which one believes.

16. To settle the question whether it is legitimate humbly to desire the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith and the union with God which results from it, manifestly it is not sufficient to know this contemplation and this union from the exterior by signs. We must know their nature, and also whether they are essentially extraordinary or something eminent but normal. The practically exclusive use of the descriptive method would lead us to consider this question of nature as almost inexplicable and one about which only few words are written at the end of a treatise. On the contrary, it is an Important question which should be treated ex professo.
  
 
VI. THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN ASCETICAL AND MYSTICAL THEOLOGY AND THEIR RELATIONS TO EACH OTHER

We must recall here the division between ascetical and mystical theology that was generally accepted until the eighteenth century, and then the modification that Scaramelli and those who followed him introduced at that time. The reader will, therefore, more readily understand why, with several contemporary theologians, we return to the division that seems to us truly traditional and conformable to the principles of the great masters.
Until the eighteenth century, authors generally set forth under the title Theologia mystica all the questions that ascetical and mystical theology treats of today. This is evident from the title of the works written by Blessed Bartholomew of the Martyrs, O.P., Philip of the Blessed Trinity, O.C.D., Anthony of the Holy Ghost, O.C.D., Thomas Vallgornera, O.P., Schram, O.S.B.., and others. Under the title Theologia mystica all these authors treated of the purgative way of beginners, of the illuminative way of proficients, and of the unitive way of the perfect. In one or the other of these last two parts, they spoke of infused contemplation and the extraordinary graces which sometimes accompany it, that is to say, visions, revelations, and like favors. Moreover, in their introduction these authors customarily treated of experimental mystical theology, that is, of infused contemplation itself, for their treatises were directed to it and to the intimate union with God which results from it.

An example of this division which was generally admitted in former times may be found in Vallgornera's Mystica theologia divi Thomae (1662). He closely follows the Carmelite, Philip of the Blessed Trinity, by linking the division Philip gave with that of earlier authors and with certain characteristic texts from the works of St. John of the Cross on the period when the passive purifications of the senses and of the spirit generally appear.(16) He divides his treatise for contemplatives into three parts (the purgative way, the illuminative way, the unitive way).

I. The purgative way, proper to beginners, in which he treats of the active purification of the external and internal senses, of the passions, of the intellect and the will, by mortification, meditation, and prayer, and finally of the passive purification of the senses, which is like a second conversion and in which infused contemplation begins. It is the transition to the illuminative way.

This last point is of prime importance in this division, and it conforms closely to two of the most important texts from the works of St. John of the Cross: "The night of sense is common, and the lot of many: these are the beginners." (17) "The soul began to set out on the way of the spirit, the way of proficients, which is also called the illuminative way, or the way of infused contemplation, wherein God Himself teaches and refreshes the soul." (18) Infused contemplation begins, according to St. John of the Cross, with the passive purification of the senses, which thus marks the transition from the way of beginners to that of proficients. Vallgornera clearly preserves this doctrine in this division as well as in the one that follows.

2. The illuminative way, proper to proficients, in which, after a preliminary chapter on the divisions of contemplation, are discussed the gifts of the Holy Ghost, infused contemplation, which proceeds especially from the gifts of understanding and wisdom and which is declared desirable for all interior souls,(19) as morally necessary for the full perfection of Christian life. After several articles relating to extraordinary graces (visions, revelations, interior words), this second part of the work closes with a chapter of nine articles dealing with the passive purification of the spirit, which marks the passage to the unitive way. This also is what St. John of the Cross taught.(20)

3. The unitive way, proper to the perfect, in which is discussed the intimate union of the contemplative soul with God and its degrees up to the transforming union. Vallgornera considers this division traditional, truly conformable to the doctrine of the fathers, to the principles of St. Thomas, and to the teaching of the greatest mystics who have written on the three ages of the spiritual life, not­ing how the transition from one to the other is generally made.(21)

In the eighteenth century, Scaramelli (1687-1752), who was followed by many authors of that period, proposed an entirely different division. First of all, he does not treat of ascetical and mystical theology in the same work but in two separate works, comprising four treatises: (1) Christian perfection and the means that lead to it; (2) Obstacles (or the purgative way); (3) The proximate dispositions to Christian perfection, consisting in the moral virtues in the perfect degree (or the way of proficients); (4) The essential perfection of the Christian, consisting in the theological virtues and especially in charity (the love of conformity in the perfect). This ascetical directory does not, so to speak, discuss the gifts of the Holy Ghost. The high degree of the moral and theological virtues therein described is, nevertheless, not reached without the gifts, according to the common teaching of the doctors.

The Direttorio mistico is composed of five treatises: (1) The introduction, in which are discussed the gifts of the Holy Ghost and graces gratis datae; (2) Acquired and infused contemplation, for which the gifts suffice, as Scaramelli recognizes (chap. 14); (3) The degrees of indistinct infused contemplation, from passive recollection to the transforming union. In chapter 32, Scaramelli admits that several authors teach that infused contemplation may be humbly desired by all interior souls, but he ends by concluding that practically it is better not to desire it before receiving a special call: "altiora te ne quaesieris"; (22) (4) The degrees of distinct infused contemplation (visions and extraordinary interior words); (5) The passive purifications of the senses and the spirit.

It is surprising to find only at the end of this mystical directory the treatise on the passive purification of the senses which, in the opinion of St. John of the Cross and the authors quoted above, marks the entrance into the illuminative way.

By a fear of quietism, at times excessive, which cast discredit on mystical theology, many authors in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries followed Scaramelli, who was most highly esteemed by them. According to their point of view, ascetical theology treats of the exercises which lead to perfection according to the ordinary way, whereas mystical theology treats of the extraordinary way, to which the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith would belong. At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the present period this tendency appears again clearly marked in the study of mental prayer by Father de Maumigny, S.].,(23) in the writings of Bishop Farges,(24) and in the work of the Sulpician, Father Pourrat.(25) According to these authors, ascetical theology is not only distinct from mystical theology, but is separated from it; it is not ordained to it, for mystical theology treats only of extraordinary graces which are not necessary for the full perfection of Christian life. Taking this point of view, some writers even maintained that, since St. Teresa of the Child Jesus did not receive extraordinary graces, she sanctified herself by the ascetical way and not by the mystical way. Strange supposition.

In the last thirty years, Father Arintero, O.P.,(26) Monsignor Saudreau,(27) the Eudist, Father Lamballe,(28) Father de la Taille, S.J.,(29) Father Gardeil, O.P.,(30) Father Joret, O.P.,(31) Father Gerest,(32) several Carmelites in France and in Belgium,(33) Benedictines such as Dom Huijben, Dom Louismet, and several others,(34) examined attentively the bases of the position taken by Scaramelli and his successors.

As we have shown at length elsewhere,(35) we have been led, as these authors were, to formulate the three following questions on the subject of the division given by Scaramelli and his successors:
I. Is this absolute distinction or separation between ascetical and mystical theology entirely traditional, or is it not rather an innovation made in the eighteenth century? Does it conform to the principles of St. Thomas and to the doctrine of St. John of the Cross? St. Thomas teaches that the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, while specifically distinct from the infused virtues, are, nevertheless, in all the just, for they are connected with charity.(36) He says, moreover, that they are necessary for salvation, for a just man may find himself in difficult circumstances where even the infused virtues would not suffice and where he needs a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost to which the gifts render us docile. St. Thomas likewise considers that the gifts intervene rather frequently in ordinary circumstances to give to the acts of the virtues in generous interior souls a perfection, an impulse, and a promptness which would not exist without the superior intervention of the Holy Ghost.(37)

On the other hand, St. John of the Cross, as we have said, wrote these most significant words: "The passive purification of the senses is common. It takes place in the greater number of beginners." (38) According to St. John, infused contemplation begins with it. And again he says: "The soul began to set out on the way of the spirit, the way of proficients, which is also called the illuminative way, or the way of infused contemplation, wherein God Himself teaches and refreshes the soul." (39) In this text the holy doctor did not wish to affirm something accidental, but something normal. St. Francis de Sales expresses the same thought (40). The division proposed by Scaramelli could not be reconciled with this doctrine because he speaks of the passive purifications of the senses and the spirit only at the end of the unitive way, as not only eminent but essentially extraordinary.

2. It may be asked whether such a distinction or separation between ascetical and mystical theology does not diminish the unity of the spiritual life. A good division, in order to be necessarily basic and not superficial an accidental, should rest on the very definition of the whole to be divided, on the nature of, this whole, which in this case is the life of grace, called by tradition the "grace of the virtues and the gifts"; (41) for the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, being connected with charity, are part of the spiritual organism and are necessary for perfection.

3. Does not the sharply marked division between ascetical and mystical theology, proposed by Scaramelli and several others, also diminish the elevation of evangelical perfection, when it treats of it in ascetical theology, taking away from it the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith, and the union which results therefrom? Does not this new conception weaken the motives for practicing mortification and for exercising the virtues, and does it not do so by losing sight of the divine intimacy for which this work should prepare us? Does it not lessen the illuminative and unitive ways when it speaks of them simply from the ascetical point of view? Can these two ways normally exist without the exercise of the gifts of the Holy Ghost proportioned to that of charity and of the other infused virtues? Finally, does not this new conception diminish also the importance and the gravity of mystical theology, which, separated thus from ascetical theology, seems to become a luxury in the spirituality of some privileged souls, and one that is not without danger?
Are there six ways (three ascetical and ordinary, and three mystical and extraordinary, not only in fact but in essence) and not just three ways, three ages of the spiritual life, as the ancients used to say?

As soon as ascetical treatises on the illuminative and unitive ways are separated from mystical theology, they contain scarcely more than abstract considerations first on the moral and then on the theological virtues. On the other hand, if they treat practically and concretely of the progress and the perfection of these virtues, as Scaramelli does in his Direttorio ascetico, this perfection, according to the teaching of St. John of the Cross, is manifestly unattainable without the passive purifications, at least without that of the senses, and without the cooperation of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. The question then arises whether the passive purification of the senses in which, according to St. John of the Cross, infused contemplation and the mystical life, properly so called, begins is something essentially extraordinary or, on the contrary, a normal grace, the principle of a second conversion, which marks the entrance into the illuminative way. Without this passive purification, can a soul reach the perfection which Scaramelli speaks of in his Direttorio ascetico? Let us not forget what St. Teresa says: "For instance, they read that we must not be troubled when men speak ill of us, that we are to be then more pleased than when they speak well of us; that we must despise our own good name, be detached from our kindred. . . with many other things of the same kind. The disposition to practice this must be, in my opinion, the gift of God; for it seems to me a supernatural good." (42) By this statement the saint means that they are due to a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, like the prayers which she calls "supernatural" or infused.

For these different reasons the contemporary authors whom we quoted above reject the absolute distinction and separation between ascetical and mystical theology that was introduced in the eighteenth century.

It is important to note here that the division of a science or of one of the branches of theology is not a matter of slight importance. This may be seen by the division of moral theology, which is notably different as it is made according to the distinction of the precepts of the decalogue, or according to the distinction of the theological and moral virtues. If moral theology is divided according to the precepts of the decalogue, several of which are negative, more insistence is placed on sins to be avoided than on virtues to be practiced more and more perfectly; and often the grandeur of the supreme precept of the love of God and of one's neighbor, which dominates the decalogue and which ought to be as the soul of our life, no longer stands forth clearly enough. On the contrary, if moral theology is divided according to the distinction of the virtues, then all the elevation of the theological virtues will be evident, especially that of charity over all the moral virtues, which it should inspire and animate. If this division is made, the quickening impulse of the theological virtues is felt, especially when they are accompanied by the special inspirations of the Holy Ghost. Moral theology thus conceived develops normally into mystical theology, which is, as we see in the work of St. Francis de Sales, a simple development of the treatise on the love of God.

What, then, is ascetical theology for the contemporary theologians who return to the traditional division? According to the principles of St. Thomas Aquinas, the doctrine of St. John of the Cross and also of St. Francis de Sales, ascetical theology treats of the purgative way of beginners who, understanding that they should not remain retarded and tepid souls, exercise themselves generously in the practice of the virtues, but still according to the human mode of the virtues, ex industria propria, with the help of ordinary actual grace. Mystical theology, on the contrary, begins with the illuminative way, in which proficients, under the illumination of the Holy Ghost, already act in a rather frequent and manifest manner according to the superhuman mode of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.(43) Under the special inspiration of the interior Master, they no longer act ex industria propria, but the superhuman mode of the gifts, latent until now or only occasionally patent, becomes quite manifest and frequent.

According to these authors, the mystical life is not essentially extraordinary, like visions and revelations, but something eminent in the normal way of sanctity. They consider this true even for souls called to sanctify themselves in the active life, such as a St. Vincent de Paul. They do not at all doubt that the saints of the active life have had normally rather frequent infused contemplation of the mysteries of the redeeming Incarnation, of the Mass, of the mystical body of Christ, of the value of eternal life, although these saints differ from pure contemplatives in this respect, that their infused contemplation is more immediately ordained to action, to all the works of mercy.

It follows that mystical theology is useful not alone for the direction of some souls led by extraordinary ways, but also for the direction of all interior souls who do not wish to remain retarded, who tend generously toward perfection, and who endeavor to maintain union with God in the midst of the labors and contradictions of everyday life. From this point of view, a spiritual director's ignorance of mystical theology may become a serious obstacle for the souls he directs, as St. John of the Cross remarks in the prologue of The Ascent of Mount Carmel. If the sadness of the neurasthenic should not be taken for the passive purification of the senses, neither should melancholy be diagnosed when the passive purification does appear.

From what we have just said, it is evident that ascetical theology is ordained to mystical theology.

In short, for all Catholic authors, mystical theology which does not presuppose serious asceticism is false. Such was that of the quietists, who, like Molinos, suppressed ascetical theology by thrusting themselves into the mystical way before receiving that grace, confounding acquired passivity, which is obtained by the cessation of acts, of activity, and which turns to somnolence, with infused passivity, which springs from the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost to which the gifts render us docile. By this radical confusion, the quietism of Molinos suppressed asceticism and developed into a caricature of true mysticism.

Lastly, it is of prime importance to remark that the normal way of sanctity may be judged from two very different points of view. We may judge it by taking our nature as a starting point, and then the position that we defend as traditional will seem exaggerated. We may also judge it by taking as a starting point the supernatural mysteries of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity, the redeeming Incarnation, and the Blessed Eucharist. This manner of judging per altissimam causam is the only one that represents the judgment of wisdom; the other manner judges by the lowest cause, and we know how "spiritual folly," which St. Thomas speaks of, is contrary to wisdom.(44)

If the Blessed Trinity truly dwells in us, if the Word actually was made flesh, died for us, is really present in the Holy Eucharist, offers Himself sacramentally for us every day in the Mass, gives Himself to us as food, if all this is true, then only the saints are fully in order, for they live by this divine presence through frequent, quasi­experimental knowledge and through an ever-growing love in the midst of the obscurities and difficulties of life. And the life of close union with God, far from appearing in its essential quality as something intrinsically extraordinary, appears alone as fully normal. Before reaching such a union, we are like people still half-asleep, who do not truly live sufficiently by the immense treasure given to us and by the continually new graces granted to those who wish to follow our Lord generously.

By sanctity we understand close union with God, that is, a great perfection of the love of God and neighbor, a perfection which nevertheless always remains in the normal way, for the precept of love has no limits.(45) To be more exact, we shall say that the sanctity in question here is the normal, immediate prelude of the life of heaven, a prelude which is realized, either on earth before death, or in purgatory, and which assumes that the soul is fully purified, is capable of receiving the beatific vision immediately. This is the meaning of the words "prelude of eternal life" used in the title of this work.

When we say, in short, that infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith is necessary for sanctity, we mean morally necessary; that is, in the majority of cases a soul could not reach sanctity without it. We shall add that without it a soul will not in reality possess the full perfection of Christian life, which implies the eminent exercise of the theological virtues and of the gifts of the Holy Ghost which accompany them. The purpose of this book is to establish this thesis.

VII. DIVISION OF THIS WORK

Following what we have said, we shall divide this book into five parts:

1. The sources of the interior life and its end.

The life of grace, the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity, the in
fluence of Christ the Mediator and of Mary Mediatrix on us. Christian perfection, to which the interior life is ordained, and the obligation of each individual to tend to it according to his condition.

II. The purification of the soul in beginners.

The removal of obstacles, the struggle against sin and its results, and against the predominant fault; the active purification of the senses, of the memory, the will, and the understanding. The use of the sacraments for the purification of the soul. The prayer of be­ginners. The second conversion or passive purification of the senses in order to enter the illuminative way of proficients.

III. The progress of the soul under the light of the Holy Ghost.

The spiritual age of proficients. The progress of the theological and moral virtues. The gifts of the Holy Ghost in proficients. The progressive illumination of the soul by the Sacrifice of the Mass and Holy Communion. The contemplative prayer of proficients. Questions relating to infused contemplation: its nature, its degrees; the call to contemplation; the direction of souls in this connection.

IV. The union of perfect souls with God.

The entrance into this way by the passive purification of the soul. The spiritual age of the perfect. The heroic degree of the theological and moral virtues. Perfect apostolic life and infused contemplation. The life of reparation. The transforming union. The perfection of love in its relation to infused contemplation, to the spiritual espousals and spiritual marriage.

V. Extraordinary graces.

The graces gratis datae. How they differ from the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to St. Thomas. Application of this doctrine to extraordinary graces, according to the teaching of St. John of the Cross. Divine revelations: interior words, the stigmata, and ecstasy.

Conclusion. Reply to the question: Is the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith and the union with God which results from it an essentially extraordinary grace, or is it in the normal way of sanctity? Is it the normal prelude to eternal life, to the beatific vision to which all souls are called?

We could discuss here the terminology used by the mystics as compared with that used by theologians. The question is of great importance. Its meaning and its import will, however, be better grasped later on, that is, at the beginning of the part of this work that deals with the illuminative way.

We could also at the end of this introduction set forth in general terms what the fathers and the great doctors of the Church teach us in the domain of spirituality. It will, however, be more profitable to do so at the end of the first part of this work when we treat of the traditional doctrine of the three ways and of the manner in which it should be understood.

Moreover, we have elsewhere set forth this teaching and that of different schools of spirituality.(46) On this point Monsignor Saudreau's work, La vie d'union a Dieu et les moyens d'y arriver d'apres les grands mattres de la spiritualite,(47) may be consulted with profit. It will be well also to read Father Pourrat's study, La spiritualite chretienne. This work is conceived from a point of view opposed to the book mentioned above, for it considers every essentially mystical grace as extraordinary. We recommend particularly the excellent work of Father Cayre, A.A., Precis de patrologie,(48) in which he sets forth with great care and in a very objective manner the spiritual doctrine of the fathers and of the great doctors of the Church, including St. John of the Cross and St. Francis de Sales.(49)
  
Footnotes
     
 17. The Dark Night of the Soul, Bk. I, chap. 8.
18. Ibid., chap. 14.

19. Prior to Vallgornera, Philip of the Blessed Trinity had affirmed this idea in the same terms in that part of his work in which he speaks of infused contemplation. This is the same teaching that is found also in the works of the Carmelites, Anthony of the Holy Ghost, Joseph of the Holy Ghost, and of many others whom we shall quote farther on when discussing this subject.

20. The Dark Night of the Soul, Bk. II, chaps. 2, 11

21. Another Dominican, Giovanni Maria di Lauro, in his Theologia mystica which appeared in Naples in 1743, divides his work in the same way, placing the passive purification of the senses as the transition to the illuminative way (p. 113 ), and the passive purification of the spirit as the disposition to the perfect unitive life (p. 303), according to the teaching of St. John of the Cross.

22. Scaramelli, Direttorio mistico, tr. I, chap. I, no. 10.

23. Pratique de l'oraison mentale, 2e traite: Oraison extraordinaire, 8e ed. Paris: G. Beauchesne, 1911.

24. Les phenomenes mystiques (Traite de theologie mystique). Paris, 1920.

25. La spiritualite chretienne. Cf. Introduction, pp. vi if.

26. Evolucion mistica. Salamanca, 198. Cuestiones misticas, 2nd. ed. Salamanca, 1920.

27. La vie d'union a Dieu, 3d ed., 1921; Les degres de la vie spirituelle, 2 vols.,5th ed., 1920; L'etat mystique, sa nature, ses phases, 2nd ed., 1921.

28. La contemplation (principles of mystical theology). Paris, 1912.

29. L'oraison contemplative. Paris: Beauchesne, 1921. See also Louis Peeters, S.J., Vers l'union divine par les exercises de saint Ignace (Museum Lessi­anum), 2nd ed., 1931.

30. La structure de l'ame et l'experience mystique, 2 vols. Paris, 1927. See also the posthumous book of the same aUthor: La vraie vie chretienne. Paris, 1935.

31. La contemplation mystique d'apres St. Thomas d'Aquin. Paris, 1923.

32. Memento de vie spirituelle, 1923.

33. Gabriel of St. Magdalen, O.CD., "La contemplation acquise chez les theologiens carmes dechausses," an article which appeared in La vie spirituelle.

34. Cf. "The Inquiry" on this point which appeared in the supplement of La vie spirituelle from September, 1929 to May, 193 I. It will be of interest to read in particular the testimony of Fathers Marechal, S.J., Alb. Valensin, S.J., M. de la Taille, S.J., Cayre, Assumptionist, Jerome of the Mother of God, Carmelite, and Schryvers, Redemptorist.

35. Christian Perfection and Contemplation, chaps. 1, 2, 4, a.3, 4; chap. 5, a. 3-5; chap. 6, a.I-5. L'amour de Dieu et la croix de jesus, 1929, Vol. II, Parts IV and V. Les trois conversions et les trois voies, 1932, chap. 4 and
appendix.

36. See Ia IIae, q.68.

37. Ibid., a. 1,1,5.

38. The Dark Night of the Soul, Bk. I, chap. 8.

39. Ibid., chap. 14.

40. Treatise on the Love of God, Bk. VI, chap. 3. "So it is with prayer; it is called meditation until it has produced the honey of devotion; after that it becomes contemplation." See the following chapters on contemplation.

41. See IIIa, q.62, a.2: "Whether sacramental grace confers anything in addition to the grace of the virtues and gifts." In this article, St. Thomas states that habitual or sanctifying grace perfects the essence of the soul, and that the infused virtues (theological and moral) and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost spring from it in the faculties.

42. St. Teresa, Life, chap. 31, par. 11

43. From this point of view, which is ours, mystical theology. properly so called, begins with the age of proficients when the three signs of the passive purification of the senses appear, as noted by St. John of the Cross (The Dark Night of the Soul, Bk. I, chap. 9). Infused contemplation of the mysteries of salvation, contemplation which leads to close union with God, begins then in prolonged aridity, accompanied by true generosity. We shall see that these three signs of the passive purification of the senses are: (I) prolonged sensible aridity; (2) a keen desire for perfection and for God; (3) a quasi-inability to apply oneself to discursive meditation and the inclination to consider God by a simple gaze with loving attention. These three signs must exist together; one alone would not suffice.

44. See IIa IIae, q.46.

45.  See ibid., q. 184, a.3.

46 Cf. Perfection chretienne et contemplation, II, 662-769.

47. Third edition, Paris, Amat, 1921. (Les Peres grecs, les Peres latins, la doctrine mystique au XIIe, au XIIIe, au XIVe, au XVIe, au XVIIe, siecle et depuis lors.)

48. Desclee, Paris, 1930, 2 vols. (Histoire et doctrines des Peres et Docteurs de l'Eglise.)

49. Ibid. See the analytical table in volumes I and 2 of this work and also II, chap. 20, p. 3.


PART 1 - The Sources of the Interior Life and Its End
 
 
PROLOGUE

Since the interior life is an increasingly conscious form of the life of grace in every generous soul, we shall first of all discuss the life of grace to see its value clearly. We shall then see the nature of the spiritual organism of the infused virtues and of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which spring from sanctifying grace in every just soul. We shall thus be led to speak of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the souls of the just, and also of the continual influence exercised on them by our Lord Jesus Christ, universal Mediator, and by Mary, Mediatrix of all graces.
Such are the very elevated sources of the interior life; in their loftiness they resemble the high mountain sources of great rivers. Because our interior life descends to us from on high, it can reascend even to God and lead us to a very close union with Him. After speaking, in this first part, of the sources of interior life, we shall treat of its end, that is, of Christian perfection to which it is directed, and of everyone's obligation to tend toward it, according to his condition. In all things the end should be considered first; for it is first in the order of intention, although it may be last in the order of execution. The end is desired first of all, even though it is last to be obtained. For this reason our Lord began His preaching by speaking of the beatitudes, and for this reason also moral theology begins with the treatise on the last end to which all our acts must be directed.
 
 
Ch 1: The Life of Grace, Eternal life begun
 
 
The interior life of a Christian presupposes the state of grace, which is opposed to the state of mortal sin. In the present plan of Providence every soul is either in the state of grace or in the state of mortal sin; in other words, it is either turned toward God, its supernatural last end, or turned away from Him. No man is in a purely natural state, for all are called to the supernatural end, which consists in the immediate vision of God and the love which results from that vision. From the moment of creation, man was destined for this supreme end. It is to this end that we are led by Christ who, after the Fall, offered Himself as a victim for the salvation of all men.
To have a true interior life it is doubtless not sufficient to be in the state of grace, like a child after baptism or every penitent after the absolution of his sins. The interior life requires further a struggle against everything that inclines us to fall back into sin, a serious propensity of the soul toward God. If we had a profound knowledge of the state of grace, we would see that it is not only the principle of a true and very holy interior life, but that it is the germ of eternal life. We think that insistence on this point from the outset is important, recalling the words of St. Thomas: "The good of grace in one is greater than the good of nature in the whole universe"; (1) for grace is the germ of eternal life, incomparably superior to the natural life of our soul or to that of the angels.

This fact best shows us the value of sanctifying grace, which we received in baptism and which absolution restores to us if we have had the misfortune to lose it.(2)

The value of a seed can be known only if we have some idea of what should grow from it; for example, in the order of nature, to know the value of the seed contained in an acorn, we must have seen a fully developed oak. In the human order, to know the value of the rational soul which still slumbers in a little child, we must know the normal possibilities of the human soul in a man who has reached his full development. Likewise, we cannot know the value of sanctifying grace, which is in the soul of every baptized infant and in all the just, unless we have considered, at least imperfectly, what the full development of this grace will be in the life of eternity. Moreover, it should be seen in the very light of the Savior's words, for they are "spirit and life" and are more savory than any commentary. The language of the Gospel, the style used by our Lord, lead us more directly to contemplation than the technical language of the surest and loftiest theology. Nothing is more salutary than to breathe the pure air of these heights from which flow down the living waters of the stream of Christian doctrine.

ETERNAL LIFE PROMISED BY THE SAVIOR TO MEN OF GOOD WILL

The expression "eternal life" rarely occurs in the Old Testament, where the recompense of the just after death is often presented in a symbolical manner under the figure, for example, of the Promised Land. The rare occurrence of the expression is more easily understood when we remember that after death the just of the Old Testament had to wait for the accomplishment of the passion of the Savior and the sacrifice of the cross to see the gates of heaven opened. Everything in the Old Testament was directed primarily to the coming of the promised Savior.

In the preaching of Jesus, everything is directed immediately toward eternal life. If we are attentive to His words, we shall see how the life of eternity differs from the future life spoken of by the best philosophers, such as Plato. The future life they spoke of belonged, in their opinion, to the natural order; they though it "a fine risk to run," (3) without having absolute certltude about it. On the other hand, the Savior speaks with the most absolute assurance not only of a future life, but of eternal life superior to the past, the present, and the future; an entirely supernatural life, measured like the intimate life of God, of which it is the participation, by the single instant of immobile eternity.

Christ tells us that the way leading to eternal life is narrow,(4) and that to obtain that life we must turn away from sin and keep the commandments of God.(5) On several occasions He says in the Fourth Gospel: "He who heareth My word and believeth Him that sent Me, hath life everlasting," (6) that is, he who believes in Me, the Son of God, with a living faith united to charity, to the practice of the precepts, that man has eternal life begun. Christ also affirms this in the eight beatitudes as soon as He begins to preach: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. . . . Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. . . . Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God." (7) What is eternal life, then, if not this repletion, this vision of God in His kingdom? In particular to those who suffer persecution for justice' sake is it said: "Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven." (8) Before His passion Jesus says even more clearly, as St. John records: "Father, the hour is come. Glorify Thy Son that Thy Son may glorify Thee. As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He may give eternal life to all whom Thou hast given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." (9)

St. John the Evangelist himself explains these words of the Savior when he writes: "Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when He shall appear we shall be like to Him: because we shall see Him as He is." (10) We shall see Him as He is, and not only by the reflection of His perfections in creatures, in sensible nature, or in the souls of the saints, in their words and their acts; we shall see Him immediately as He is in Himself.

St. Paul adds: "We see (God) now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known." (11) Observe that St. Paul does not say that I shall know Him as I know myself, as I know the interior of my conscience. I certainly know the interior of my soul better than other men do; but it has secrets from me, for I cannot measure all the gravity of my directly or indirectly voluntary faults. God alone knows me thoroughly; the secrets of my heart are perfectly open only to His gaze.

St. Paul actually says that then I shall know Him even as I am known by Him. In the same way that God knows the essence of my soul and my inner life without any intermediary, so I shall see Him without the intermediary of any creature, and even, theology adds, (12) without the intermediary of any created idea. No created idea can, in fact, represent such as He is in Himself the eternally subsistent, pure intellectual radiance that is God and His infinite truth. Every created idea is finite; it is a concept of one or another perfection of God, of His being, of His truth or His goodness, of His wisdom or His love, of His mercy or His justice. These divers concepts of the divine perfections are, however, incapable of making us know such as it is in itself the supremely simple divine essence, the Deity or the intimate life of God. These multiple concepts are to the intimate life of God, to the divine simplicity, somewhat as the seven colors of the rainbow are to the white light from which they proceed. On earth we are like men who have seen only the seven colors and who would like to see the pure light which is their eminent source. As long as we have not seen the Deity, such as It is in Itself, we shall not succeed in seeing the intimate harmony of the divine perfections, in particular that of infinite mercy and infinite justice. Our created ideas of the divine attributes are like little squares of mosaic which slightly harden the spiritual physiognomy of God. When we think of His justice, it may appear too rigid to us; when we think of the gratuitous predilections of His mercy, they may seem arbitrary to us. On reflection, we say to ourselves that in God justice and mercy are one and the same thIng and that there is no real distinction between them. We affirm with certitude that this is true, but we do not yet see the intimate harmony of these
divine perfections. To see it, we should have to see immediately the divine essence, such as it is in itself, without the intermediary of any created idea.

This vision will constitute eternal life. No one can express the joy and love that will be born in us of this vision. It will be so strong, so absolute a love of God that thenceforth nothing will be able to destroy it or even to diminish it. It will be a love by which we shall above all rejoice that God is God, infinitely holy, just, and merciful. We shall adore all the decrees of His providence in view of the manifestation of His goodness. We shall have entered into His beatitude, according to Christ's own words: "Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." (13) We shall see God as He sees Himself, immediately, without however exhausting the depth of His being, His love, and His power, and we shall love Him as He loves Himself. We shall also see our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Such is eternal beatitude in its essence, not to speak of the accidental joy that we shall experience in seeing and loving the Blessed Virgin and all the saints, more particularly the souls whom we knew during our time on earth.

THE SEED OF ETERNAL LIFE IN US

The immediate vision of God, of which we have just spoken, surpasses the natural capacity of every created intellect, whether angelic or human. Naturally a created intellect may indeed know God by the reflection of His perfections in the created order, angelic or human, but it cannot see Him immediately in Himself as He sees Himself.(14) If a created intellect could by its natural powers alone see God immediately, it would have the same formal object as the divine Intellect; it would then be of the same nature as God. This would be the pantheistic confusion of a created nature and the divine nature.

A created intellect can be raised to the immediate vision of the divine essence only by a gratuitous help, by a grace of God. In the angel and in us this grace somewhat resembles a graft made on a wild shrub to enable it to bear good fruit. The angel and the human soul become capable of a supernatural knowledge of God and a supernatural love only if they have received this divine graft, habitual or sanctifying grace, which is a participation in the divine nature and in the inner life of God. Only this grace, received in the essence of our soul as a free gift, can render the soul radically capable of essentially divine operations, can make it capable of seeing God immediately as He sees Himself and of loving Him as He loves Himself. In other words, the deification of the intellect and that of the will presuppose the deification of the soul itself (in its essence), whence these faculties spring.
When this grace is consummated and inamissible, it is called glory. From it proceed, in the intellects of the blessed in heaven, the supernatural light which gives them the strength to see God, and in their wills the infused charity which makes them love Him without being able thereafter to turn away from Him.

Through baptism we have already received the seed of eternal life, for through it we received sanctifying grace which is the radical principle of that life; and with sanctifying grace we received infused charity, which ought to last forever.

This is what our Savior told the Samaritan woman, as St. John recounts: "If thou didst know the gift of God, and who He is that saith to thee: Give Me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water. . . . Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him shall not thirst forever. But the water that I will give him shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting." (15) If one should ask whether these words of our Lord belong to the ascetical or the mystical order, the question would seem unintelligent; for, if our Lord is speaking here of the life of heaven, all the more do His words apply to the close union which prepares the soul for that life.

St. Thomas says: "He who will drink of the living water of grace given by the Savior will no longer desire another, but he will desire this water more abundantly. . . . Moreover, whereas material water descends, the spiritual water of grace rises. It is a living water ever united to its (eminent) source and one that springs up to eternal life, which it makes us merit." (16) This living water comes from God, and that is why it can reascend even to Him.

Likewise, in the temple at Jerusalem on the last day of the feast of tabernacles, Christ stood and cried in a loud voice: "If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink. He that believeth in Me, as the Scripture saith: Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (17) He who drinks spiritually, believing in the Savior, draws from the source of living water, and can draw from it not only for himself but also for other souls to be saved.

On several occasions, as we have already remarked, Jesus repeats: "He that believeth in Me, hath everlasting life." (18) Not only will he have it later on, but in a sense he already possesses it, for the life of grace is eternal life begun.

It is, in fact, the same life in its essence, just as the seed which is in an acorn has the same life as the full-grown oak, and as the spiritual soul of the little child is the same one that will eventually develop in the mature man.

Fundamentally, the same divine life exists as a germ or a seed in the Christian on earth and as a fully developed life in the saints in heaven. It is these who truly live eternal life. This explains why Christ said also: "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day." (19) "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say: Behold here or behold there. For lo, the kingdom of God is within you." (20) It is hidden there like the mustard seed, like the leaven which causes the dough to rise, like the treasure buried in the field.

How do we know that we have already received this life which should last forever? St. John explains the matter to us at length: "We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren. He that loveth not, abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. And you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in himself."(21) "These things I write to you, that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God." (22) Jesus had said: "Amen, amen I say to you: If any man keep My word, he shall not see death forever." (23) In fact, the liturgy expresses this idea in the preface of the Mass for the Dead: "For to those who believe in Thee, Lord, life is only changed, not taken away"; on the contrary, it reaches its full development in heaven. All tradition declares that the life of grace on earth is in reality the seed of glory. St. Thomas delights also in saying: "For grace is nothing else than a beginning of glory in us." (24) Bossuet often expresses himself in the same terms.(25)

This explains why St. Thomas likes to say: "The good of grace in one is greater than the good of nature in the whole universe." (26) The slightest degree of sanctifying grace contained in the soul of an infant after baptism is more precious than the natural good of the entire universe, all angelic natures taken together included therein; for the least degree of sanctifying grace belongs to an enormously superior order, to the order of the inner life of God, which is superior to all miracles and to all the outward signs of divine revelation.(27)

The same supernatural life, the same sanctifying grace, is in the just on earth and in the saints in heaven. This is likewise true of infused charity, with these two differences: on earth we know God not in the clarity of vision, but in the obscurity of infused faith; and besides, though we hope to possess Him in such a way as never to lose Him, we can lose Him here on earth through our own fault.

In spite of these two differences pertaining to faith and hope, the life is the same because it is the same sanctifying grace and the same charity, both of which should last forever. This is exactly what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman: "If thou didst know the gift of God. . . thou perhaps wouldst have asked of Him. . . . He that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst forever: but the water that I will give him shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting." (28) By the light of this principle we must judge what our interior life should be and what should be its full, normal development that it may be the worthy prelude of the life of eternity. Since sanctifying grace, the infused virtues, and the gifts are intrinsically ordained to eternal life, are they not also ordained to the mystical union? Is not this union the normal prelude of the life of eternity in souls that are in truth completely generous?

AN IMPORTANT CONSEQUENCE

From what we have just said, we may at least infer the non­extraordinary character of the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith and of the union with God which results therefrom. This presumption will be more and more confirmed in what follows and will become a certitude.

Sanctifying grace and charity, which unite us to God in His intimate life, are, in fact, very superior to graces gratis datae and extraordinary, such as prophecy and the gift of tongues, which are only signs of the divine intervention and which by themselves do not unite us closely to God. St. Paul affirms this clearly,(29) and St. Thomas explains it quite well.(30)

Infused contemplation, an act of infused faith illumined by the gifts of understanding and wisdom, proceeds, as we shall see, from sanctifying grace, called "the grace of the virtues and the gifts," (31) received by all in baptism, and not from graces gratis datae and extraordinary. Theologians commonly concede this. We may, therefore, even now seriously presume that infused contemplation and the union with God resulting from it are not intrinsically extraordinary, like prophecy or the gift of tongues. Since they are not essentially extraordinary, are they not in the normal way of sanctity?

A second and even more striking reason springs immediately from what we have just said: namely, sanctifying grace, being by its very nature ordained to eternal life, is also essentially ordained, in a normal manner, to the proximate perfect disposition to receive the light of glory immediately. This proximate disposition is perfect charity with the keen desire for the beatific .vision, an ardent desire which is ordinarily found only in the union with God resulting from the infused contemplation of the mysteries of salvation.

This contemplation is, therefore, not intrinsically extraordinary like prophecy, but something eminent which already appears indeed to be in the normal way of sanctity, although relatively rare like lofty perfection.

We must likewise add that the ardent desire for the beatific vision is found according to its full perfection only in the transforming union, or the higher mystical union, which consequently does not seem to be outside the normal way of sanctity. To grasp the meaning and import of this reason, we may remark that, if there is one good which the Christian ought to desire keenly, it is God seen face to face and loved above all, without any further possibility of sin. Evidently there should be proportion between the intensity of the desire and the value of the good desired; in this case, its value is infinite. We should all be "pilgrims of the Absolute" "while. . . we are absent from the Lord." (32)

Finally, as sanctifying grace is essentially ordained to eternal life, it is also ordained to a proximate disposition for us to receive the light of glory immediately after death without passing through purgatory. Purgatory is a punishment which presupposes a sin that could have been avoided, and an insufficient satisfaction that could have been completed if we had accepted with better dispositions the sufferings of the present life. It is certain, in fact, that no one will be detained in purgatory except for sins he could have avoided or for negligence in making reparation for them. Normally purgatory should be spent in this life while meriting, while growing in love, instead of after death without merit.

The proximate disposition to receive the light of glory immediately after death presupposes a true purification analogous to that in souls that are about to leave purgatory and that have an ardent desire for the beatific vision.(33) This ardent desire exists ordinarily in this life only in the union with God which results from the infused contemplation of the mysteries of salvation. Hence contemplation stands out clearly even now, not as an extraordinary grace,
but as an eminent grace in the normal way of sanctity.

The keen desire for God, the sovereign Good, which is the normal proximate disposition to the beatific vision, is admirably expressed by St. Paul: "Though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. . . . For in this also we groan, desiring to be clothed upon with our habitation that is from heaven. . . . Now He that maketh us for this very thing, is God, who hath given us the pledge of the Spirit." (34)

Obviously, that we may treat of questions of ascetical and mystical theology in a fitting manner, we must not lose sight of these heights as they are made known to us by Holy Scripture explained by the theology of the great masters. If there is a field in which men must be considered not only as they are, but as they ought to be, that field is evidently spirituality. One should be able there to breathe freely the air of the heights above human conventions. Blessed are those tried souls who, like St. Paul of the Cross, breathe freely only in the domain of God and who aspire to Him with all their strength.
 
 Footnotes
   
 1. See Ia IIae, q. 1 13, a.9 ad 2um.
2. At the beginning of a treatise on the interior life, it is important to get a high idea of sanctifying grace; Protestantism, following several nominalists of the fourteenth century, has lost the conception of it. In Luther's opinion, man is justified not by a new infused life, but by the exterior imputation of the merits of Christ, in such a way that he is not interiorly changed and that it is not necessary for his salvation that he observe the precept of the love of God above all else. Such an opinion is a radical misconception of the interior life spoken of in the Gospel. This lamentable doctrine was prepared by that of the nominalists, who said that grace is a gift which is not essentially supernatural, but which morally gives a right to eternal life, like paper money which, though only paper, gives a right, by reason of a legal institution, to receive money. This doctrine constituted the negation of the essentially supernatural life; it was a failure to recognize the very essence of grace and of the theological virtues.

3. Even in the Phaedon, the future is thus represented.

4. Matt. 7: 14.

5. Ibid., 19: 17.

6. John 5:24; 6:40, 47, 55.

7. Matt. 5:3-8.

8. Ibid., 5: 12.

9. John 17: 1-3.

10. See I John 3:2.

11. See I Cor. 13: 12.

12. St. Thomas, Ia, q.12, a.2.

13. Matt. 25:21, 23.

14. St. Thomas, Ia, q.12, a.4.

15. John 4: 10-14.

16. Commentum in Joannem, 4:3 ff.

17. John 7:37 f.

18. John 3:36; 5:24, 39; 6:40,47,55.

19 John 6: 55.

20. Luke 17:20f.

21. See I John 3: 14 f.

22. Ibid., 5: 13.

23. John 8: 51.

24. See IIa IIae, q. 24, a. 3 ad 2um; Ia IIae, q.69, a.2; De veritate, q. 14, a.2.

25. Meditations sur l'evangile, Part II, 37th day, in Joan. 17: 3.

26. See Ia IIae, q. I 13, a.9 ad 2um.

27. Ibid., q. II I, a. 5: "Gratia gratum faciens is much more excellent than gratia gratis data"; in other words, sanctifying grace, which unites us to God Himself, is very much superior to prophecy, to miracles, and to all the signs of divine intervention.

28. John 4: 10-14.

29. See I Cor. 12:28 ff.; 13:1 ff.

30. Cf. Ia IIae, q. III, a.5: "Gratia gratum faciens is much more excellent than gratia gratis data."

31. See IIIa, q.62, a. 1.

32. See II Cor. 5:6.

33. St. Thomas gives a good explanation of this keen desire for God which the souls in purgatory have. (We shall return to this point later on when we speak of the passive purifications.) Cf. IV Sent., d.21, a.1 ad quaestionem 3am. "The more a thing is desired, just so much the more is its absence painful. And because the love, by which the highest good is desired after this life, is most intense in holy souls, because love is not held back by the weight of the body, and also, because the time of enjoying the highest Good has now come, unless something impedes it, for the very same reason they suffer to a great degree from the delay." Thus we would suffer greatly from hunger if deprived of food for more than a day, when it would be in the radical order of our organism to restore itself. It is radical to the order of the life of the soul, in the actual economy of salvation, to possess God immediately after death. Far from being essentially extraordinary, this is the normal way, as we see it in the lives of the saints.

Ch 2: The Interior Life and Intimate Conversation with God
 
 
"Our conversation is in heaven." (Phil. 3:20.)
The interior life, as we said, presupposes the state of grace, which is the seed of eternal life. Nevertheless the state of grace, which exists in every infant after baptism and in every penitent after the absolution of his sins, does not suffice to constitute what is customarily called the interior life of a Christian. In addition there are required a struggle against what would make us fall back into sin and a serious tendency of the soul toward God.

From this point of view, to give a clear idea of what the interior life should be, we shall do well to compare it with the intimate conversation that each of us has with himself. If one is faithful, this intimate conversation tends, under the influence of grace, to become elevated, to be transformed, and to become a conversation with God. This remark is elementary; but the most vital and profound truths are elementary truths about which we have thought for a long time, by which we have lived, and which finally become the object of almost continual contemplation.

We shall consider successively these two forms of intimate conversation: the one human, the other more and more divine or supernatural.

CONVERSATION WITH ONESELF

As soon as a man ceases to be outwardly occupied, to talk with his fellow men, as soon as he is alone, even in the noisy streets of a great city, he begins to carry on a conversation with himself. If he is young, he often thinks of his future; if he is old, he thinks of the past and his happy or unhappy experience of life makes him usually judge persons and events very differently.. . . .

If a man is fundamentally egotistical, his intimate conversation with himself is inspired by sensuality or pride. He converses with himself about the object of his cupidity, of his envy; finding therein sadness and death, he tries to flee from himself, to live outside of himself, to divert himself in order to forget the emptiness and the nothingness of his life. In this intimate conversation of the egoist with himself there is a certain very inferior self-knowledge and a no less inferior self-love.

He is acquainted especially with the sensitive part of his soul, that part which is common to man and to the animal. Thus he has sensible joys, sensible sorrows, according as the weather is pleasant or unpleasant, as he wins money or loses it. He has desires and aversions of the same sensible order; and when he is opposed, he has moments of impatience and anger prompted by inordinate self-love. But the egoist knows little about the spiritual part of his soul, that which is common to the angel and to man. Even if he believes in the spirituality of the soul and of the higher faculties, intellect and will, he does not live in this spiritual order. He does not, so to speak, know experimentally this higher part of himself and he does not love it sufficiently. If he knew it, he would find in it the image of God and he would begin to love himself, not in an egotistical manner for himself, but for God. His thoughts almost always fall back on what is inferior in him, and though he often shows intelligence and cleverness which may even become craftiness and cunning; his intellect, instead of rising, always inclines toward what is inferior to it. It is made to contemplate God, the supreme truth, and it often dallies in error, sometimes obstinately defending the error by every means. It has been said that, if life is not on a level with thought, thought ends by descending to the level of life. All declines, and one's highest convictions gradually grow weaker.

The intimate conversation of the egoist with himself proceeds thus to death and is therefore not an interior life. His self-love leads himI to wish to make himself the center of everything, to draw everything to himself, both persons and things. Since this is impossible, he frequently ends in disillusionment and disgust; he becomes unbearable to himself and to others, and ends by hating himself because he wished to love himself excessively. At times he ends by hating life because he desired too greatly what is inferior in it.(1)

If a man who is not in the state of grace begins to seek goodness, his intimate conversation with himself is already quite different. He converses with himself, for example, about what is necessary to live becomingly and to support his family. This at times preoccupies him greatly; he feels his weakness and the need of placing his confidence no longer in himself alone, but in God.

While still in the state of mortal sin, this man may have Christian faith and hope, which subsist in us even after the loss of charity as long as we have not sinned mortally by incredulity, despair, or presumption. When this is so, this man's intimate conversation with himself is occasionally illumined by the supernatural light of faith; now and then he thinks of eternal life and desires it, although this desire remains weak. He is sometimes led by a special inspiration to enter a church to pray.

Finally, if this man has at least attrition for his sins and receives absolution for them, he recovers the state of grace and charity, the love of God and neighbor. Thenceforth when he is alone, his intimate conversation with himself changes. He begins to love himself in a holy manner, not for himself but for God, and to love his own for God; he begins to understand that he must pardon his enemies and love them, and to wish eternal life for them as he does for himself. Often, however, the intimate conversation of a man in the state of grace continues to be tainted with egoism, self-love, sensuality, and pride. These sins are no longer mortal in him, they are venial; but if they are repeated, they incline him to fall into a serious sin, that is, to fall back into spiritual death. Should this happen, this man tends again to flee from himself because what he finds in himself is no longer life but death. Instead of making a salutary reflection on this subject, he may hurl himself back farther into death by casting himself into pleasure, into the satisfactions of sensuality or of pride.

In a man's hours of solitude, this intimate conversation begins again in spite of everything, as if to prove to him that it cannot stop. He would like to interrupt it, yet he cannot do so. The center of the soul has an irrestrainable need which demands satisfaction. In reality, God alone can answer this need, and the only solution is straightway to take the road leading to Him. The soul must converse with someone other than itself. Why? Because it is not its own last end; because its end is the living God, and it cannot rest entirely except in Him. As St. Augustine puts it: "Our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee." (2)

INTERIOR CONVERSATION WITH GOD

The interior life is precisely an elevation and a transformation of the intimate conversation that everyone has with himself as soon as it tends to become a conversation with God.

St. Paul says: "For what man knoweth the things of a man but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God." (3) The Spirit of God progressively manifests to souls of good will what God desires of them and what He wishes to give them. May we receive with docility all that God wishes to give us! Our Lord says to those who seek Him: "Thou wouldst not seek Me if thou hadst not already found Me."

This progressive manifestation of God to the soul that seeks Him is not unaccompanied by a struggle; the soul must free itself from the bonds which are the results of sin, and gradually there disappears what St. Paul calls "the old man" and there takes shape "the new man."

He writes to the Romans: "I find then a law, that when I have a will to do good, evil is present with me. For I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man; but I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind." (4)

What St. Paul calls "the inward man" is what is primary and most elevated in us: reason illumined by faith and the will, which should dominate the sensibility, common to man and animals.

St. Paul also says: "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man is corrupted, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (5) His spiritual youth is continually renewed, like that of the eagle, by the graces which he receives daily. This is so true that the priest who ascends the altar can always say, though he be ninety years old: "I will go in to the altar of God: to God who giveth joy to my youth." (6)

St. Paul insists on this thought in his epistle to the Colossians: "Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of Him that created him, where there is neither Gentile nor Jew. . . nor barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free. But Christ is all and in all." (7) The inward man is renewed unceasingly in the image of God, who does not grow old. The life of God is above the past, the present, and the future; it is measured by the single instant of immobile eternity. Likewise the risen Christ dies no more and possesses eternal youth. Now He vivifies us by ever new graces that He may render us like Himself. St. Paul wrote in a similar strain to the Ephesians: "For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened by His Spirit with might unto the inward man, that Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts; that, being rooted and founded in charity, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth; to know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God." (8)

St. Paul clearly depicts in these lines the interior life in its depth, that life which tends constantly toward the contemplation of the mystery of God and lives by it in an increasingly closer union with Him. He wrote this letter not for some privileged souls alone, but to all the Christians of Ephesus as well as those of Corinth.

Furthermore, St. Paul adds: "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind: and put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth. . . . And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness." (9)

In the light of these inspired words, which recall all that Jesus promised us in the beatitudes and all that He gave us in dying for us, we can define the interior life as follows: It is a supernatural life which, by a true spirit of abnegation and prayer, makes us tend to union with God and leads us to it.

It implies one phase in which purification dominates, another of progressive illumination in view of union with God, as all tradition teaches, thus making a distinction between the purgative way of beginners, the illuminative way of proficients, and the unitive way of the perfect.

The interior life thus becomes more and more a conversation with God, in which man gradually frees himself from egoism, self-love, sensuality, and pride, and in which, by frequent prayer, he asks the Lord for the ever new graces that he needs. (10)

As a result, man begins to know experimentally no longer only the inferior part of his being, but also the highest part. Above all, he begins to know God in a vital manner; he begins to have experience of the things of God. Little by little the thought of his own ego, toward which he made everything converge, gives place to the habitual thought of God; and egotistical love of self and of what is less good in him also gives place progressively to the love of God and of souls in God. His interior conversation changes so much that St. Paul can say: "Our conversation is in heaven." (11) St. Thomas often insisted on this point.(12)

Therefore the interior life is in a soul that is in the state of grace, especially a life of humility, abnegation, faith, hope, and charity, with the peace given by the progressive subordination of our feelings and wishes to the love of God, who will be the object of our beatitude.

Hence, to have an interior life, an exceedingly active exterior apostolate does not suffice, nor does great theological knowledge. Nor is the latter necessary. A generous beginner, who already has a genuine spirit of abnegation and prayer, already possesses a true interior life which ought to continue developing.

In this interior conversation with God, which tends to become continual, the soul speaks by prayer, oratio, which is speech in its most excellent form. Such speech would exist if God had created only a single soul or one angel; for this creature, endowed with intellect and love, would speak with its Creator. Prayer takes the form now of petition, now of adoration and thanksgiving; it is always an elevation of the soul toward God. And God answers by recalling to our minds what has been said to us in the Gospel and what is useful for the sanctification of the present moment. Did not Christ say: "But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you"? (18)

Man thus becomes more and more the child of God; he recognizes more profoundly that God is his Father, and he even becomes more and more a little child in his relations with God. He understands what Christ meant when He told Nicodemus that a man must return to the bosom of God that he may be spiritually reborn, and each day more intimately so, by that spiritual birth which is a remote similitude of the eternal birth of the Word.(14) The saints truly follow this way, and then between their souls and God is established that conversation which does not, so to speak, cease. Thus it was said that St. Dominic knew how to speak only of God or with God; this is what made it possible for him to be always charitable toward men and at the same time prudent, strong, and just.

This conversation with God is established through the influence of Christ, our Mediator, as the liturgy often says, particularly in the hymn Jesu dulcis memoria, which is a splendid expression of the Christian's interior life:

Jesu, spes poenitentibus,
Quam pius es petentibus!
Quam bonus te quaerentibus!
Sed quid invenientibus!
Nec lingua valet dicere,
Nec littera exprimere,
Expertus potest credere
Quid sit Jesum diligere.

Let us strive to be of the number of those who seek Him, and to whom it is said: "Thou wouldst not seek Me, if thou hadst not already found Me."

Footnotes
   
 1. See IIa IIae, q.25, a.7: Whether Sinners Love Themselves. "Since the wicked do not know themselves aright, they do not love themselves aright, but love what they think themselves to be. But the good know themselves truly, and therefore truly love themselves. . . as to the inward man. . . and they take pleasure in entering into their own hearts. . . . On the other hand, the wicked have no wish to be preserved in the integrity of the inward man, nor do they desire spiritual goods for him, nor do they work for that end, nor do they take pleasure in their own company by entering into their own hearts, because whatever they find there, present, past, and future, is evil and horrible; nor do they agree with themselves, on account of the gnawings of conscience."
2. The Confessions, Bk. I, chap. I. "Our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee." This is the proof for the existence of God through natural desire for true and lasting happiness, which can be found only in the Sovereign Good, known at least imperfectly and loved above all, and more than ourselves. We develop this proof in La Providence et la confiance en Dieu, pp. 50-64.

3. See I Cor. 2:11

4. Rom. 7:21-13.

5. See II Cor. 4: 16.

6. Ps. 42:4.

7. Col. 3:9-11

8. Eph. 3: 14-19

9. Ibid., 4:23 f.; 5:2.

10. The author of The Imitation of Christ, beginning with the first chapter of Book I, explains well the nature of the interior life when he says: "The teaching of Christ surpasseth all the teachings of the saints; and he that hath His Spirit, will find therein a hidden manna. But it happeneth that many, from the frequent hearing of the Gospel, feel little emotion, because they have not the Spirit of Christ. But he that would fully and with relish understand the words of Christ must study to conform his whole life to His."

11. Phil. 3:20.

12. He does so in particular in two important chapters of the Contra Gentes (IV, 21, 22) on the effects and the signs of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in us.

At the beginning of chapter 22 he writes: "To converse with one's friend is the highest characteristic of friendship. Moreover, man's conversation with God is by contemplation of Him, as the Apostle used to say: 'Our conversation is in heaven' (Phil. 3: 20). Therefore, because the Holy Spirit makes us lovers of God, it follows that by the Holy Spirit we are constituted contemplators of God: whence the Apostle says: 'But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord'" (II Cor. 3: 18).
Those who meditate on chapters 21 and 22 of Book IV of the Contra Gentes will be able to get a clear idea as to whether or not, in the opinion of St. Thomas, the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith is in the normal way of sanctity.

13. John 14:26.

14. St. Francis de Sales remarks somewhere in his writings that on the one hand as a man grows up he should be self-sufficient and depend less and less on his mother, who becomes less necessary to him when he reaches manhood, and especially when he reaches full maturity; on the contrary, as the interior man grows, he becomes daily more aware of his divine sonship, which makes him the child of God, and he becomes more and more a child in regard to God, even to the extent of re-entering, so to speak, the bosom of God. The blessed in heaven are always in this bosom of God.


 
Ch 3: The Spiritual Organism
 
 
The interior life, which presupposes the state of grace, consists, as we have seen, in a generous tendency of the soul toward God, in which little by little each one's intimate conversation with himself is elevated, is transformed, and becomes an intimate conversation of the soul with God. It is, we said, eternal life begun in the obscurity of faith before reaching its full development in the clarity of that vision which cannot be lost.
Better to comprehend what this seed of eternal life, semen gloriae, is in us, we must ponder the fact that from sanctifying grace spring forth in our faculties the infused virtues, both theological and moral, and also the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost; virtues and gifts which are like the subordinated functions of one and the same organism, a spiritual organism, which ought to develop until our entrance into heaven.

ARTICLE I - THE NATURAL LIFE AND THE SUPERNATURAL LIFE OF THE SOUL

We must distinguish clearly in our soul what belongs to its very nature and what is an entirely gratuitous gift of God. The same distinction must be made for the angels who also have a nature which, though entirely spiritual, is very inferior to the gift of grace.

If we carefully consider the human soul in its nature, we see two quite different regions in it: one belongs to the sensible order, the other to the suprasensible or intellectual order. The sensitive part of the soul is that which is common to men and animals; it includes the external senses and the internal senses, comprising the imagination, the sensible memory, and also sensibility, or the sensitive appetite, whence spring the yarious passions or emotions, which we call sensible love and hatred, desire and aversion, sensible joy and sadness, hope and despair, audacity and fear, and anger. All this sensitive life exists in the animal, whether its passions are mild like those of the dove or lamb, or whether they are strong like those of the wolf and the lion.

Above this sensitive part common to men and animals, our nature likewise possesses an intellectual part, which is common to men and angels, although it is far more vigorous and beautiful in the angel. By this intellectual part our soul towers above our body; this is why we say that the soul is spiritual, that it does not intrinsically depend on the body and will thus be able to survive the body after death.

From the essence of the soul in this elevated region spring our two higher faculties, the intellect and the will.(1) The intellect knows not only sensible qualities, colors, and sounds, but also being, the intelligible reality, of necessary and universal truths, such as the following: "Nothing happens without a cause, and, in the last analysis, without a supreme cause. We must do good and avoid evil. Do what you ought to, come what may." An animal will never attain to the knowledge of these principles; even if its imagination were continually growing in perfection, it would never attain to the intellectual order of necessary and universal truths. Its imagination does not pass beyond the order of sensible qualities, known here or there in their contingent singularity.

Since the intellect knows the good in a universal manner, and not only the delectable or useful good but the upright and reasonable good (for example: Die rather than become a traitor), it follows that the will can love this good, will it, and accomplish it. Thereby the intellect immensely dominates the sensitive part or the emotions common to men and animals. By his intellect and his will, man resembles the angel; although his intellect, in contrast to the angelic intellect, depends in this present life on the senses, which propose to it the first objects that it knows.

The two higher faculties, the intellect and the will, can develop greatly as we see in men of genius and superior men of action. These faculties could, however, develop forever without ever knowing and loving the intimate life of God, which is of another order, entirely supernatural, and supernatural alike for angels and men. Man and the angel can indeed know God naturally from without, by the reflection of His perfections in creatures; but no created and creatable intellect can by its natural powers attain, even confusedly and obscurely, the essential and formal object of the divine intellect.(2) To hold that it could be done would be to maintain that this created intellect is of the same nature as God, since it would be specified by the same formal object.(3) As St. Paul says: "For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God." (4) This order is essentially supernatural.

Sanctifying grace, the seed of glory, introduces us into this higher order of truth and life. It is an essentially supernatural life, a participation in the intimate life of God, in the divine nature, since it even now prepares us to see God some day as He sees Himself and to love Him as He loves Himself. St. Paul has declared to us: "That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him. But to us God hath revealed them by His Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (5)

Sanctifying grace, which makes us begin to live in this higher, supra-angelic order of the intimate life of God, is like a divine graft received in the very essence of the soul to elevate its vitality and to make it bear no longer merely natural fruits but supernatural ones, meritorious acts that merit eternal life for us.

This divine graft of sanctifying grace is, therefore, in us an essentially supernatural life, immensely superior to a sensible miracle and above the natural life of our spiritual and immortal sou1.(6)

Even now this life of grace develops in us under the form of the infused virtues and of the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. As in the natural order, our intellectual and sensitive faculties spring from the very essence of our soul, so in the supernatural order, from sanctifying grace, received in the essence of the soul, spring, in our superior and inferior faculties, the infused virtues and the gifts which constitute, with the root from which they proceed, our spiritual or supernatural organism.(7) It was given to us in baptism, and is restored to us by absolution if we have the misfortune to lose it.

St.Thomas' treatise on each of the virtues, where he speaks of the corresponding gift.(8) The gift of fear corresponds both to temperance and to hope,(9) but this latter virtue is also aided by the gift of knowledge, which shows us the emptiness of created things and thereby makes us desire God and depend on Him.(10)

ARTICLE II - THE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES

The theological virtues are infused virtues which have for their object God Himself, our supernatural last end. This is why they are called theological. By contrast, the moral virtues have for their object the supernatural means proportioned to our last end. Thus prudence directs our acts to this end; religion makes us render to God the worship that is due Him; justice makes us give to everyone what we owe him; fortitude and temperance regulate the sensible part of our soul to prevent it from going astray and to make it cooperate, according to its manner, in our progress toward God.(1)

Among the theological virtues, infused faith, which makes us believe all that God has revealed because He is Truth itself, is like a higher spiritual sense which allows us to hear a divine harmony that is inaccessible to every other means of knowing. Infused faith is like a higher sense of hearing for the audition of a spiritual symphony which has God for its composer. This explains why there is an immense difference between the purely historical study of the Gospel and of the miracles which confirm it and the supernatural act of faith by which we believe in the Gospel as in the word of God. A very learned man who seeks the truth sincerely can make a historical and critical study of the Gospel and of the miracles which confirm it without as yet coming to the point where he believes. He will believe supernaturally only after receiving the grace of faith, which will introduce him into a higher world, superior even to the natural life ofthe angels. "Faith...  is the gift of God," says St. Paul.(2) It is the basis of justification, for it makes us know the supernatural end toward which we must tend.(3) The Church has defined against the Semi-Pelagians that even the beginning of faith is a gift of grace.(4) All the great theologians have shown that infused faith is essentially supernatural, of a supernatural character very superior to that of the sensible miracle and also to that of prophecy which announces a contingent future in the natural order, such as the end of a war. Faith makes us, in fact, adhere supernaturally and infallibly to what God reveals to us about His intimate life, according as the Church, which is charged with preserving revelation, proposes it to us.

Infused faith belongs thus to an order immensely superior to the historical and critical study of the Gospel. As Lacordaire rightly sayS: "A scholar may study Catholic doctrine, not reject it bitterly, and may even say repeatedly: 'You are blessed to have faith; I should like to have it, but I cannot believe.' And he tells the truth:he wishes and he cannot (as yet), for study and good faith do not always conquer the truth, so that it may be clear that rational certitude is not the first certitude on which Catholic doctrine rests. This scholar therefore knows Catholic doctrine; he admits its facts; he feels its power; he agrees that there existed a man named Jesus Christ, who lived and died in a prodigious manner. He is touched by the blood of the martyrs, by the constitution of the Church; he will willingly say that it is the greatest phenomenon that has passed over the world. He will almost say that it is true. And yet he does not conclude; he feels himself oppressed by truth, as one is in a dream where one sees without seeing. The day comes, however, when this scholar drops on his knees; feeling the wretchedness of man, he lifts his hands to heaven and exclaims: 'Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, a Lord!' At this moment something takes place in him, scales drop from his eyes, a mystery is accomplished, and he is changed. He is a man, meek and humble of heart; he can die, he has conquered the truth." (6)

If acquired faith, born of the historical examination of the Gospel and of the miracles which confirm it, were sufficient to attain the formal motive of Christian faith, infused faith would be useless, as would likewise infused hope and infused charity. Natural good will, spoken of by the Pelagians, would suffice. In the opinion of the Pelagians, grace and the infused virtues were not absolutely necessary for salvation, but only for the easier accomplishment of the acts of Christian life.(7)

Infused faith is like a faculty of supernatural audition, like a higher musical sense, which permits us to hear the spiritual harmonies of the kingdom of heaven, to hear, in a way, the voice of God through the prophets and His Son before we are admitted to see Him face to face. Between the unbeliever, who studies the Gospel, and the believer, there is a difference similar to that which exists between two persons who are listening to a Beethoven symphony, one of whom has a musical ear and the other has not. Both hear all the notes of the symphony, but one alone grasps its meaning and its soul. Similarly, only the believer adheres supernaturally to the Gospel as to the supernatural word of God; and he adheres to it even though untutored, while the learned man with all his means of criticism cannot, without infused faith, adhere to it in this manner. "He that believeth in the Son of God, hath the testimony of God in himself." (8)
This is what prompted Lacordaire to say: "What takes place in us when we believe is a phenomenon of intimate and superhuman light. I do not say that exterior things do not act on us as rational motives of certitude; but the very act of this supreme certitude, which I speak of, affects us directly like a luminous phenomenon (infused light of faith); I would even add, like a transluminous phenomenon. . . . We are affected by a transluminous light. . . . Otherwise how could there be proportion between our adherence, which would be natural and rational, and an object that surpasses nature and reason? . . . (9) Similarly sympathetic intuition between two men accomplishes in a single moment what logic could not have, brought about in many years. Just so, a sudden illumination sometimes enlightens the genius.

"A convert will tell you: 'I read, reasoned, wished, and I did not arrive. Then one day, I don't know how, on the street corner or at my fireside, I don't know, but I was no longer the same; I believed. . . . What took place in me at the moment of final conviction is of a totally different nature from what preceded. Remember the two disciples who were going to Emmaus.' " (10)

Fifty years ago, a man who did not yet know radio would have been surprised to hear it said that the day would come when a symphony that was being played in Vienna could be heard in Rome. By infused faith we hear a spiritual symphony which originates in heaven. The perfect chords of this symphony are called the mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the redemption, the Mass, and eternal life. By this superior sense of hearing man is guided toward eternity; he ought ever to advance toward the summit from which this harmony comes.

To tend effectively toward this supernatural end and to reach it, man has received two helps, hope and charity, which are like two wings. Without them he could make progress only in the direction indicated by reason; with them he flies in the direction pointed out by faith.

Just as our intellect cannot know our supernatural end without the infused light of faith, so our will cannot tend toward it unless its powers are augmented, increased more than tenfold, raised to a higher order. For this the will needs a supernatural love and a new impulse.

By hope we desire to possess God, and in order to attain Him we rely, not on our natural powers but on the help that He promised us. We rely on God Himself who always comes to the assistance of those who invoke Him.

Charity is a superior and more disinterested love of God. It makes us love God, not only in order to possess Him some day, but for Himself and more than ourselves, because of His infinite goodness, which is more lovable in itself than all the benefits we receive from it.(11) This virtue makes us love God above all else as a friend who has first loved us. It ordains to Him the acts of all the other virtues, which it vivifies and renders meritorious. Charity is our great supernatural force, the power of love which through centuries of persecution has surmounted all obstacles, even in weak children, such as St. Agnes and St. Lucy.

A man illumined by faith thus advances toward God by the two wings of hope and love. As soon as he sins mortally, however, he loses sanctifying grace and charity, since he turns away from God, whom he ceases to love more than himself. But divine mercy preserves infused faith and infused hope in him as long as he does not sin mortally against these virtues. He still preserves the light which indicates the road to be followed and he can still entrust himself to infinite mercy in order to ask of it the grace of conversion.

Of these three theological virtues, charity is the'highest, and together with sanctifying grace, it ought to endure forever. "Charity," says St. Paul, "never falleth away. . . . Now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity." (12) It will last forever, eternally, when faith will have disappeared to give place to vision, and when hope will be succeeded by the inamissible possession of God clearly known.

Such are the superior functions of the spiritual organism: the three theological virtues which grow together, and with them the infused moral virtues that accompany them.

Footnotes
   
 1. To know and to will, the human soul and the angel need two faculties; in this respect both differ from God. God, who is Being itself, Thought, Wisdom, and Love, does not need faculties to know and to love. On the contrary, since the angel and the soul are not being itself, they have only a nature or an essence capable of receiving existence. Moreover, in them restricted existence, which is proper to them, is distinct from acts of knowledge and of will which have an object that is not limited; as a result the essence of the soul or of the angel, which receives the existence that is proper to them, is distinct from the faculties or powers capable of producing, not the permanent act of existence, but the successive acts of knowledge and of will. Cf. St. Thomas, Ia, q. 54, a. 1-3.

2 Thus a peasant who only very confusedly grasps intelligible reality, which is the object of philosophy, has, nevertheless, an intellect of the same nature as that of the philosopher; but neither one nor the other can by the sole natural powers of his reason know the intimate life of God.
3. Summa, Ia, q. 12, a.4.

4. See I Cor. 1:11.

5. Ibid.,2:9f.

6 The sensible miracle of the resurrection of a body restores natural life to the body in a supernatural manner; whereas sanctifying grace, which resuscitates a soul, is an essentially supernatural life. The miraculous effect of the corporal resurrection is not supernatural in itself but only by the mode of its production, "non quoad essentiam, sed quoad modum productionis suae." This is why a miracle, although supernatural by reason of its cause, is naturally knowable, whereas the essentially supernatural life of grace could not be known naturally. To mark this difference a miracle is often said to be preternatural rather than supernatural, and the latter word is reserved to designate the supernatural life.

7 See Ia IIae, q.63, a.3.

8. Summa, IIa IIae.

9. See ibid., q. 141, a.1 ad 3um: "Temperance also has a corresponding gift, namely, fear, whereby man is withheld from the pleasures of the flesh, according to Ps. 118: 120: 'Pierce Thou my flesh with Thy fear.' . . . It also corresponds to the virtue of hope."

10. See ibid., q.9, a.4.


1. See Ia IIae, q.62, a.1 f.

2. Eph. 2:8.

3. Rom. 4: 1-25. Abraham was justified by faith in God, "it was reputed to him unto justice." We ourselves will obtain salvation only by faith, which is a gift of God, by faith in Jesus Christ.

4. Cf. Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 178.

5. St. Thomas, IIa IIae, q.6, a. I, 2. As the virtues are specified by their objeect and their formal motive, this essentially supernatural character of infused faith depends on its first object and on its formal motive, which are inaccessible to all natural knowledge. The first object of faith is, in fact, God Himself in His intimate life, and the formal motive of infused faith is the authority of God revealing. Now we can by reason alone know the authority of God the Author of nature, and even the, Author of the sensible miracle; but we cannot by reason alone adhere to the authority of God the Author of grace. It is as the Author of grace that God intervenes when He reveals to us the essentially supernatural mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the redemption, the Eucharist, and eternal life. We have treated this important point at length in De revelatione, I, chap. 14, pp' 458-514, and in Christian Perfection and Contemplation, pp. 61-80.

6. H. Lacordaire, Conferences a Notre-Dame de Paris, 17th conference.

7. Cf. Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 179. Acquired faith exists in the demons who have lost infused faith, but who believe as it were reluctantly because of the evidence of miracles and other signs of revelation. Cf. St. Thomas, IIa IIae, q.5, a.2; De veritate, q. 14, a.9 ad 4um.

8. See I John 5: 10.

9. St. Thomas says the same thing in De veritate, q.I4, a.2: "Eternal life consists in the full knowledge of God. Hence there should be in us some beginning of this supernatural knowledge; and this is through faith, which from an infused light believes things that exceed natural reason."

Summa, IIa IIae, q.6, a.1, 2: Doubtless the light of faith is still obscure, but it is transluminiously obscure, that is, superior and not inferior to the evidences of reason.

10. Lacordaire, loco cit.

11. See Ia IIae, q.62, a.4

12. See I Cor. 13:8,13


 
Ch 3: The Spiritual Organism (cont)
 
 
ARTICLE III - THE MORAL VIRTUES

To understand what the action of the spiritual organism should be, we must clearly distinguish on the level below the theological virtues, the acquired moral virtues which were described by the moralists of pagan antiquity and which can exist without the state of grace, and the infused moral virtues which were unknown to pagan moralists and which are described in the Gospel. The acquired moral virtues, as their name indicates, are acquired by the repetition of acts under the direction of more or less cultivated natural reason. The infused moral virtues are called infused because God alone can produce them in us. They are not the result of the repetition of our acts; we received them in baptism as parts of our spiritual organism, and absolution restores them to us if we have had the misfortune to lose them. The acquired moral virtues, known by the pagans, have an object accessible to natural reason; the infused moral virtues have an essentially supernatural object commensurate with our supernatural end, an object which would be inaccessible without the infused light of faith in eternal life, in the gravity of sin, in the redemptive value of our Savior's passion, in the value of grace and of the sacraments. (1)

In relation to the interior life, we shall discuss first of all the acquired moral virtues, then the infused moral virtues, and finally the relationship of the first to the second. This subject matter is important, especially since some souls consecrated to God do not in their youth give sufficient importance to the moral virtues. Over and above a rather calm and pure sensibility, they seem to have the three theological virtues, but they almost lack the moral virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and so on.(2) Something like an intermediary stage seems to be lacking in their souls. Yet they have the infused moral virtues, but not the corresponding acquired moral virtues in a sufficient degree. Others, on the contrary, who are older and have seen the importance of the moral virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and so on, in social life, do not sufficiently value the theological virtues, which are, however, incomparably higher since they unite us to God.

THE ACQUIRED MORAL VIRTUES

We shall ascend progressively from the lower degrees of natural morality to those of supernatural morality. We must, first of all, observe with St. Thomas that in a man in the state of mortal sin there are often false virtues, such as the temperance of the miser. He practices it, not for love of honest and reasonable good, not for the sake of living according to right reason, but for love of that useful good, money. Similarly, if he pays his debts, it is rather to avoid the costs of a lawsuit than for love of justice.

Above these false virtues, true acquired moral virtues may exist even in a man in the state of mortal sin. Some practice sobriety in order to live reasonably; for the same motive they pay their debts and teach some good principles to their children. But as long as a man remains in the state of mortal sin these true virtues remain in the state of a somewhat unstable disposition (in statu dispositionis facile mobilis); they are not yet in the state of solid virtue (difficile mobilis). Why is this? The answer is that, as long as a man is in the state of mortal sin, his will is habitually turned away from God. Instead of loving Him above all else, the sinner loves himself more than God, with the consequent result that he shows great weakness in accomplishing moral good, even of the natural order.

Moreover, the true acquired virtues which are in a man in the state of mortal sin lack solidity because they are not connected, because they are not sufficiently supported by the closely related moral virtues that are often lacking. We may take as an example a soldier who is naturally inclined to acts of bravery and has often shown himself courageous, but who is also inclined to become intoxicated. It may happen that, by reason of intemperance, on certain days he fails in the acquired virtue of fortitude and neglects his essential duties as a soldier.(3) This man, who is inclined by temperament to be courageous, has not the virtue of fortitude as a virtue. Intemperance makes him fail in prudence, even in the domain of the virtue of fortitude. Prudence, which ought to direct all. the moral virtues, supposes in fact that our will and our sensible appetites are habitually rectified as regards the end of these virtues. A man who drives several horses hitched to a chariot must see to it that each animal is already broken and docile. Now prudence is like the driver of all the moral virtues, auriga virtutunl, and it ought to have them all in hand, so to speak. One does not go without the other: they are connected in prudence, which directs them.

Therefore, that true acquired virtues may not be simply in a state of unstable disposition, and that they may be in a state of solid virtue (in statu virtutis), they must be connected. That this may be so, a man must no longer be in the state of mortal sin, but his will must be set straight in regard to his last end. He must love God more than himself, at least with a real and efficacious love of esteem, if not with a love that is felt. This love is impossible without the state of grace and without charity.(4) But after justification or conversion, these true acquired virtues may come to be stable virtues; they may become connected, relying on each other. Finally, under the influx of infused charity, they become the principle of acts meritorious of eternal life. For this reason, some theologians, such as Duns Scotus, have even thought it not necessary that we should have infused moral virtues.

THE INFUSED MORAL VIRTUES

Are the acquired moral virtues we have just spoken of sufficient, under the influence of charity, to constitute the spiritual organism of the virtues in a Christian? Must we receive infused moral virtues?

In conformity with tradition and with a decision of Pope Clement V at the Council of Vienne,(5) the Catechism of the Council of Trent (Part II, On baptism and its effects), answers: "The grace (sanctifying), which baptism confers, is accompanied by the glorious cortege of all the virtues, which, by a special gift of God, penetrate the soul simultaneously with it." This gift is an admirable effect of the Savior's passion which is applied to us by the sacrament of regeneration.

Moreover, in this bestowal of the infused moral virtues, there is a lofty fitness that has been well set forth by St. Thomas.(6) The means, he observes, must be proportioned to the end. By the infused theological virtues we are raised and directed toward the supernatural last end. Hence it is highly fitting that we should be raised and directed by the infused moral virtues in regard to supernatural means capable of leading us to our supernatural end.

God provides for our needs not less in the order of grace than in that of nature. Therefore, since in the order of nature He has given us the capacity to succeed in practicing the acquired moral virtues, it is highly fitting that in the order of grace He should give us infused moral virtues.

The acquired moral virtues do not suffice in a Christian to make him will, as he ought, the supernatural means ordained to eternal life. St. Thomas says, in fact, that there is an essential difference between the acquired temperance described by pagan moralists, and the Christian temperance spoken of in the Gospel. (7) The difference is analogous to that of an octave between two musical notes of the same name, separated by a complete scale. We often distinguish between philosophical temperance and Christian temperance, or again between the philosophical poverty of Crates' and the evangelical poverty of the disciples of Christ.

As St. Thomas remarks,(8) acquired temperance has a rule and formal object different from those of infused temperance. Acquired temperance keeps a just medium in the matter of food in order that we may live reasonably, that we may not injure our health or the exercise of our reason. Infused temperance, on the contrary, keeps a superior happy mean in the use of food in order that we may live in a Christian manner, as children of God, en route to the wholly supernatural life of eternity. Infused temperance thus implies a more severe mortification than is implied by acquired temperance; it requires, as St. Paul says, that man chastise his body and bring it into subjection,(9) that he may become not only a virtuous citizen of society on earth, but one of the "fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God." (10)

The same difference exists between the acquired virtue of religion, which ought to render to God, the Author of nature, the worship due Him, and the infused virtue of religion, which offers to God, the Author of grace, the essentially supernatural sacrifice of the Mass, which perpetuates in substance that of the cross. Between these two virtues of the same name, there is even more than the difference of an octave; there is a difference of orders, so that the acquired virtue of religion or that of temperance could grow forever by the repetition of acts without ever attaining the dignity of the slightest degree of the infused virtue of the same name. The tonality is entirely different; the spirit animating the word is no longer the same. In the case of the acquired virtue, the spirit is simply that of right reason; in the infused virtue, the spirit is that of faith which comes from God through grace.

These two formal objects and two motives of action differ greatly. Acquired prudence is ignorant of the supernatural motives of action; infused prudence knows them. Proceeding not from reason alone, but from reason illumined by infused faith, it knows the infinite elevation of our supernatural last end, God seen face to face. It knows, consequently, the gravity of mortal sin, the value of sanctifying grace and of the actual graces we must ask for every day in order to persevere, and the value of the sacraments that are to be received. Acquired prudence is ignorant of all of this, because this matter belongs to an essentially supernatural order.

What a difference there is between the philosophical modesty described by Aristotle and Christian humility! The latter presupposes the knowledge of two dogmas: that of creation ex nihilo, and that of the necessity of actual grace for taking the slightest step forward in the way of salvation. What a distance there is also between the virginity of the vestal virgin, whose duty it was to keep up the sacred fire, and that of the Christian virgin who consecrates her body and heart to God that she may follow our Lord Jesus Christ more perfectly!

These infused moral virtues are Christian prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, and those which accompany them, such as meekness and humility. They are connected with charity in this sense, that charity, which sets us aright in regard to our supernatural last end, cannot exist without them, without this multiple rectification in regard to the supernatural means of salvation.(11) Moreover, he who loses charity by a mortal sin, loses the infused moral virtues; because, by turning away from the supernatural end, he loses infused rectification in regard to the means proportioned to this end. But it does not follow that he loses faith and hope, or that he loses the acquired virtues; the latter, however, cease to be stable and connected in him. In fact, a man who is in the state of mortal sin loves himself more than he does God and tends through egoism to fail in his duties even in the natural order.

RELATIONS BETWEEN THE INFUSED MORAL VIRTUES AND THE ACQUIRED MORAL VIRTUES

The relations between these virtues and their subordination are explained by what we have just said.(12) First of all, the facility of virtuous acts is not assured in the same way by the infused moral virtues as by the acquired moral virtues. The infused virtues give an intrinsic facility, without always excluding the extrinsic obstacles; whereas these extrinsic obstacles are excluded by the repetition of acts that engender the acquired virtues.

This is easily understood when by sacramental absolution the infused moral virtues, united to sanctifying grace and to charity, are restored to a penitent who, though he has imperfect contrition for his sins, has not the acquired moral virtues. This happens, for example, in the case of a man who is accustomed to becoming intoxicated and who makes his Easter confession with sufficient attrition. By absolution he receives, together with charity, the infused moral virtues, including temperance; but he has not yet the acquired virtue of temperance. The infused virtue that he receives gives him a certain intrinsic facility for the exercise of the obligatory acts of sobriety; but this infused virtue does not exclude the extrinsic obstacles which would be eliminated by the repetition of the acts that engender acquired temperance.(13) This penitent ought also to watch seriously over himself in order to avoid the occasions that would cause him to fall back into his habitual sin. For this reason it is evident that the acquired virtue of temperance greatly facilitates the exercise of the infused virtue of the same name.(14)

How are the virtues exercised? They are exercised simultaneously in such a way that the acquired virtue is subordinated to the infused virtue as a favorable disposition. Thus, in another domain, the agility of a pianist's or a harpist's fingers, which is acquired by a repetition of acts, favors the exercise of the musical art that is in the artist's intellect and not in his fingers. If he completely loses the nimbleness of his fingers as a result of paralysis, he can no longer exercise his art because of an extrinsic obstacle. His art, however, remains in his practical intellect, as we see in the case of a musical genius who is stricken with paralysis. Normally there ought to be two subordinated functions that should be exercised together. The same holds true for the acquired virtue and for the infused virtue of the same name.(15) In like manner the imagination is at the service of the intellect, and the memory at that of knowledge.

These moral virtues consist in a happy mean between two extremes, shown by excess on the one hand and deficiency on the other. Thus the virtue of fortitude inclines us to keep a happy mean between fear, which flees danger without a reasonable motive, and temerity, which would lead us into the danger of getting our head broken without sufficient reason. However, this happy mean may be misunderstood. Epicureans and the tepid intend to keep a happy mean not for love of virtue, but for convenience' sake in order to flee from the discomforts of the contrary vices. They confuse the happy mean with mediocrity, which is found not precisely between two contrary evils, but halfway between good and evil. Mediocrity or tepidity flees the higher good as an extreme to be avoided. It hides its laziness under this principle: "The best is sometimes the enemy of the good"; and it ends by saying: "The best is often, if not always, the enemy of the good." It thus ends by confusing the good with the mediocre.

The right happy medium of true virtue is not only a mean between two contrary vices; it is also a summit. It rises like a culminating point between these contrary deviations; thus fortitude is superior to fear and temerity; true prudence to imprudence and cunning; magnanimity to pusillanimity and vain and ambitious presumption; liberality to avarice or stinginess and prodigality; true religion to impiety and superstition.

Moreover, this happy medium, which is at the same time a summit, tends to rise without deviating to the right or the left in proportion as virtue grows. In this sense the mean of the infused virtue is superior to that of the corresponding acquired virtue, for it depends on a higher rule and has in view a more elevated object.

We note, lastly, that spiritual authors insist particularly, as the Gospel does, on certain moral virtues which have a more special relation with God and an affinity with the theological virtues. They are religion or solid piety,(16) penance,(17) which render to God the worship and the reparation which are due to Him; meekness, (18) united to patience, perfect chastity, virginity,(19) and humility,(20) a fundamental virtue which excludes pride, the principle of every sin. By abasing us before God, humility raises us above pusillanimity and pride and prepares us for the contemplation of divine things, for union with God. "God giveth grace to the humble," (21) and He makes them humble in order to load them with His gifts. Christ delighted in saying: "Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart." (22) He alone, who was so well established in truth, could speak of His humility without losing it.

Such are the infused and acquired moral virtues which, with the theological virtues to which they are subordinated, constitute our spiritual organism. This ensemble of functions possesses great harmony, although venial sin may more or less frequently introduce discordant notes in it. All the parts of this spiritual organism grow together, says St. Thomas, like the five fingers of one hand.(23) This proportionate growth demonstrates that a soul cannot have lofty charity without profound humility, just as the highest branch of a tree rises toward heaven in proportion as its roots plunge more deeply into the soil. We must take care in the interior life that nothing troubles the harmony of this spiritual organism, as happens unfortunately in those who, while perhaps remaining in the stat of grace, seem more preoccupied with human learning or exterior relations than with growth in faith, confidence, and the love of God.

To form a right idea of the spiritual organism, it is not sufficient to know these virtues. We must consider the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, and not ignore the diverse forms under which divine help is offered.


Footnotes
   
 1.  See Ia IIae, q.63, a.4.
2. Nevertheless these persons, being in the state of grace, do have the infusedd moral virtues always united to charity, but their attention is not sufficiently focused on them, and they have the corresponding acquired virtues only in a feeble degree.

3. See Ia IIae, q.65, a.2. Thomists generally admit this proposition: "Without charity there can be true acquired moral virtues, but imperfect ones, as there were actually in many peoples." Cf. John of St. Thomas, Cursus theol., De proprietate virtutum, disp. XVII, a. 2, nos. 6, 8, 10, 11, 14. Salmanticenses, Cursus theol., De virtutibus, disp. IV, dub. I, no. I; dub. 2, nos. 26, 27. Billuart, Cursus theol., De passionibus et virtutibus, diss. II, a.4, par. 3, especially in fine.

We treated this subject at greater length in the Revue Thomiste, July, 1937: "The instability of the acquired moral virtues in the state of mortal sin." Consult in particular St. Thomas, Ia IIae, q.49, a.2 ad 3 um; this text is of primary importance.

4. See Ia IIae, q.65, a.2. In the present state of humanity, every man is either the state of mortal sin or in the state of grace. Since the Fall, man cannot, in fact, efficaciously love God the Author of his nature more than himself without healing grace, a grace which is not really distinct from sanctifying grace which elevates. Cf. St. Thomas, Ia IIae, q. 109, a.3.

5 Clement V at the Council of Vienne (Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 483), thus settled this question, which was formulated under Innocent III (Den­zinger, no. 410): "Whether faith, charity, and the other virtues are infused into children in baptism." He answers: "We, however, considering the gen­eral efficacy of the death of Christ, which is applied by baptism equally to all the baptized, think that, with the approval of the sacred Council, we should choose as more probable and more consonant and harmonious with the teachings of the saints and of modern doctors of theology, the second opinion, which declares that informing grace and the virtues are bestowed in baptism on infants as well as adults." By these words, "and the virtues," Clement V means.not only the theological virtues, but the moral virtues, for they also were involved in the question formulated under Innocent III.

6. See Ia IIae, q.63, a.3.

7. Ibid., a.4.

8. Ibid.

9. See I Cor. 9:27.

10. Eph. 2:19.

11. See Ia IIae, q.65, a. 3.

12. Cf. St. Thomas, Quaest. disp.: De virtutibus in communi, a. 10, in corp., ad 1 um, ad 13 um, ad 16um; also P. Bernard, O.P., La vie spirituelle, January, 1935; suppl., pp. 25-54: "La vertu acquise et la vertu infuse."

13. Hence it follows that this penitent has through experience a much greater knowledge of the obstacles to be conquered than of the infused virtue of temperance, which he has just received, and which is of too elevated an order to fall under the scope of sensible experience.

14. Infused temperance can exist without acquired temperance, as in the case we have just discussed. And inversely, acquired temperance can exist without the infused virtue, for the latter is lost after every mortal sin, whereas acquired temperance remains at least in an imperfect state (in statu dispositionis facile mobilis) if it existed before this sin. Thus the sensible memory, which is at the service of intellectual knowledge, can exist without it; inversely, a great scholar, preserving his knowledge in his intellect, can, by reason of a cerebral lesion, lose his memory which facilitated the exercise of this knowledge.

15. In the just man, charity commands or inspires the act of acquired temperance by the intermediary of the simultaneous act of infused temperance. And even outside the production of their acts, since these two virtues are united in the same faculty, the infused confirms the acquired. Only in those Christians who live a more supernatural life, does the supernatural motive most appear as the explicit motive of acting; in others it is a rational motive, and the supernatural remains somewhat latent (remissus). Similarly, one pianist may show great technique and a modicum of inspiration, whereas in another the inverse may be true. The motives of inferior reason, which touch on health, are more or less explicit according as a person is more or less freed from these preoccupations, or according as he is so healthy that he need not think of his health.

16. See IIa IIae, q.81.

17. See III q.85.

18. See IIa IIae, q. 157.

19. Ibid., q. 151, 152.

20. Ibid., q. 161.

21. Jas. 4:6.

22. Matt. II: 19.

23. See Ia IIae, q.66, a.2. These virtues grow together with charity because of their connection with this virtue, just as the different parts of our physical organism grow simultaneously. But the infused moral virtues grow especially with charity. The acquired virtues may not develop as much if tbey are not sufficiently exercised.


Ch 3: The Spiritual Organism (cont)
 
 
ARTICLE IV - THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST

We shall recall what divine revelation, the traditional teaching of the Church, and the explanation of this teaching given by theologians, especially St. Thomas, teach us about the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost.

THE TEACHING OF SCRIPTURE

The revealed doctrine on the gifts of the Holy Ghost is contained principally in the classic text of Isaias (II: 2) which the fathers have often commented upon, saying that it is applied first of all to the Messias, and then by participation to all the just, to whom Christ promised to send the Holy Ghost. In this text, Isaias says in reference to the Messias: "And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness, and He shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord." (1)

In the Book of Wisdom we read also: "Wherefore I wished, and understanding was given me; and I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came upon me. And I preferred her before kingdoms and thrones. . . . Silver in respect to her shall be counted as clay. I loved her above health and beauty. . . . Now all good things came to me together with her. . . . I knew not that she was the mother of them all. Which I have learned without guile, and communicate without envy. . . . For she is an infinite treasure to men, which they that use, become the friends of God. . . . She reneweth all things, and through nations conveyeth herself into holy souls, she maketh the friends of God and prophets. For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom." (2) This passage in itself shows that wisdom is the highest of the gifts of the Holy Ghost enumerated by Isaias.

This Old Testament revelation takes on its full meaning in the light of our Savior's words: "If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you forever. The spirit of truth . . . shall be in you. . . . The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you." (3) To fortify the faithful against the promoters of heresy, St. John adds: "But you have the unction from the Holy One. . . . Let the unction, which you have received from Him, abide in you. And you have no need that any man teach you; but as His unction teacheth you of all things and is truth, and is no lie." (4) Moreover, Scripture contains texts commonly quoted as relating to each gift in particular.(5)

TRADITION

In the course of time, the fathers of the Church often commented on these words of Scripture, and, beginning with the third century, tradition explicitly affirms that the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost are in all the just.(6) Pope St. Damasus, in 382, speaks of the seven­fold Spirit which rested on the Messias, and he enumerates the gifts.(7)

St. Augustine, especially, explains this doctrine in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount.(8) He shows the correspondence between the evangelical beatitudes and the seven gifts. Fear represents the first degree of the spiritual life; wisdom is its crown. Between these two extremes, St. Augustine distinguishes a double period of purifying preparation for wisdom: a remote preparation, by the active practice of the moral virtues corresponding to the gifts of piety, fortitude, knowledge, and counsel; then an immediate preparation, in which the soul is purified as a result of a more enlightened faith by the gift of understanding, of a firmer hope sustained by the gift of fortitude, and of a more ardent charity. The first preparation is called the active life; the second, the contemplative life,(9) because moral activity is here entirely subordinated to a faith rendered luminous by contemplation, which, in pacified and docile souls, will one day culminate in perfect wisdom.(10)

To know the teaching of the Church on this subject we shall re­call what the Council of Trent says: "The efficient cause [of our justification] is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously (I Cor. 6: II), signing and anointing with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance (Eph. I: 13 f.)." (11)

The Catechism of the Council of Trent fixes this point exactly by enumerating the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost according to Isaias (11: 2 f.), and by adding: "These gifts of the Holy Ghost are for us, as it were, a divine source whence we draw the living knowledge of the precepts of Christian life. Moreover, by them we can know whether the Holy Ghost dwells in us." (12) St. Paul says, in fact: "For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God." (13) He gives us this testimony by the filial love which He inspires in us, and by which He makes Himself, so to speak, felt by us.(14)

One of the most beautiful testimonies that tradition offers us on the seven gifts is found in the liturgy for Pentecost. We read in the sequence for the Mass of that day:

Veni sancte Spiritus,
Et entitle coelitus
Lucis tuae radium.

"Come, 0 Holy Ghost, and send from heaven a ray of Thy light. Come, Father of the poor. Come, Giver of graces. Come, Light of hearts, excellent Counselor, sweet Guest of our soul, sweet Refresh ment, Rest in labor, Coolness in heat, Comfort in tears."

0 lux beatissima,
Reple cordis intima
Tuorum fidelium.

"0 blessed Light, inundate the very depths of the hearts of Thy faithful. . . . Warm what is cold, straighten what is crooked."

Da tuis fidelibus,
In te confidentibus,
Sacrum septenarium.

"Give to Thy faithful who trust in Thee, the sacred sevenfold gift. Give them the merit of virtue. Give them a happy end. Give them eternal joy."

In the Veni Creator Spiritus, we read likewise:

Tu septiformis munere. . . .
Accende lumen sensibus,
lnfunde amorem cordibus.

"The sevenfold gift is Thine. . . . Kindle our senses with fire from above and pour Thy love into our hearts." (15)

Finally, the testimony of tradition is admirably expressed by the encyclical of Leo XIII on the Holy Ghost, in which the Pope declares that to complete our supernatural life we need the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. He says:

"The just man, that is to say, he who lives the life of divine grace and acts by the fitting virtues as by means of faculties, has need of those seven gifts, which are properly attributed to the Holy Ghost. By means of them the soul is furnished and strengthened so as to be able to obey more easily and promptly His voice and impulse. Wherefore these gifts are of such efficacy that they lead the just man to the highest degree of sanctity; and of such excellence that they continue to exist even in heaven, though in a more perfect way. By means of these gifts the soul is excited and encouraged to seek after and attain the evangelical beatitudes which, like the flowers that come forth in the springtime, are the signs and harbingers of eternal beatitude. . . .

These sublime truths, which so clearly show forth the infinite goodness of the Holy Ghost towards us, certainly demand that we should direct towards Him the highest homage of our love and devotion. Christians may do this most effectually if they will daily strive to know Him, to love Him, and to implore Him more earnestly. . . . What should be chiefly dwelt upon and clearly explained is the multitude and greatness of the benefits which have been bestowed, and are constantly bestowed, upon us by this divine Giver. . . . We owe to the Holy Ghost love, because He is God. . . . He is also to be loved because He is the substantial, eternal, primal Love, and nothing is more lovable than love. . . . In the second place it will obtain for us a still more abundant supply of heavenly gifts; for whilst a narrow heart contracts the hand of the giver, a grateful and mindful heart causes it to expand. . . . Lastly, we ought confidently and continually to beg of Him to illuminate us daily more and more with His light and inflame us with His charity: for, thus inspired with faith and love, we may press onward earnestly towards our eternal reward, since "He is the pledge of our inheritance." (16)

Such are the principal testimonies of tradition regarding the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost. We shall recall briefly the exact statements brought to bear on this point by theology, especially in the doctrine of St. Thomas. His teaching has been approved in substance by Leo XIII, who often quoted the Angelic Doctor in the encyclical, the principal parts of which we have just cited.
    
 Footnotes
   
 1. The Hebrew text does not mention the gift of piety, but the Septuagint and the Vulgate do. Since the third century, tradition affirms this sevenfold number. Moreover, in the Hebrew text of Isaias, fear is named a second time in verse 3, and in the Old Testament the terms "fear of God" and "piety" have almost the same meaning.
2 Wisd. 7:7-28.

3. John 14: 15-26. .

4. See I John 2:20, 27.

5. St. Thomas quotes these texts when he treats of each of the seven gifts.

6. A. Gardeil, D.P., "Dons du Saint-Esprit," Dictionnaire de theologie catholique, IV, 1728-81.

7. Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 83.

8. De sermone Domini, I, 1-4; De doctrina christiana, II, 7; Sermo 347.

9. Cf. De Trinitate, I, 12-14.

10. Cf. Fulbert Cayre, A.A., La contemplation augustinienne, chaps. 2 f. He shows here that contemplation, according to St. Augustine, is a supernatural wisdom. It has for its principle, together with faith, a superior action of the Holy Ghost, which makes the soul, so to speak, touch and taste God.

11. Council of Trent, Sess. VI, chap. 7.

12. Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part I, chap. 9, 3: "I believe in the Holy Ghost."

13. Rom. 8: 16.

14. Cf. St. Thomas, In Ep. ad Rom., 8: 1

15. The composer of this beautiful prayer, which will be said until the end of the world, must have been a great contemplative. It is useless to know his name; he was a voice of God.

16. Encyclical Divinum illud munus (May 9, 1897), circa finem. This text shows: (I) the necessity of the gifts ("has need of"); (2) their nature: they make us docile to the Holy Ghost; (3) their effects: they can lead us to the summit of sanctity.


Ch 3: The Spiritual Organism (cont)
 
 
ARTICLE IV - THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST (cont)

THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST ACCORDING TO ST. THOMAS (17)

The holy doctor shows us three things in particular: that the gifts are habitual permanent dispositions (habitus) specifically distinct from the virtues; that the gifts are necessary to salvation; and that they are connected with charity and grow with it. St. Thomas says:

"To differentiate the gifts from the virtues, we must be guided by the way Scripture expresses itself, for we find there that the term employed is spirit rather than gift. For thus it is written (Isa. 11:2 f.): "The spirit . . . of wisdom and of understanding. . . shall rest upon Him," and so on: from which words we are clearly given to understand that these seven are there set down as being in us by divine inspiration. Now inspiration denotes motion from without. For it must be noted that in man there is a twofold principle of movement, one within him, namely, the reason; the other extrinsic to him, namely, God, as stated above (Ia IIae, q. 9, a. 4. 6), and also by the Philosopher in the chapter on Good Fortune (Ethic. Eudem.,vii).

Now it is evident that whatever is moved must be proportionate to its mover: and the perfection of the thing moved as such consists in a disposition whereby the thing moved is made proportionate to its mover. Hence the more exalted the mover, the more perfect must be the disposition whereby the movable object is made proportionate to its mover: thus we see that a disciple needs a more perfect disposition in order to receive a higher teaching from his master. Now it is manifest that human virtues perfect man according as it is natural for him to be moved by his reason (18) in his interior and exterior actions. Consequently man needs yet higher perfections, whereby to be disposed to be moved by God. These perfections are called gifts, not only because they are infused by God, but also because by them man is disposed to become amenable to the divine inspiration,(19) according to Isa. I: 5: "The Lord . . . hath opened my ear, and I do not resist; I have not gone back." Even the Philosopher says in the chapter on Good Fortune (Ethic. Eudem., loco cit.) that for those who are moved by divine instinct, there is no need to take counsel according to human reason, but only to follow their inner promptings, since they are moved by a principle higher than human reason. This, then, is what some say, that the gifts perfect man for acts which are higher than acts of virtue.(20)"

Thus we see that the gifts of the Holy Ghost are not acts, or actual motions, or passing helps of grace, but rather qualities or permanent infused dispositions (habitus), (21) which render a man promptly docile to divine inspirations. Leo XIII, in the encyclical Divinum illud munus, which we quoted at length a few pages back, placed his approval on this manner of conceiving of the gifts. They dispose man to obey the Holy Ghost promptly, as sails prepare a ship to follow the impulse of a favorable wind. By this passive docility, the gifts help us to produce those excellent works known as the beatitudes.(22) From this point of view, the saints are like great sailing vessels which, under full sail, properly catch the impelling force of the wind. The art of navigation teaches a mariner how and when he may most opportunely spread his sails to profit by a favorable breeze.

This figure is used by our Lord Himself when He says: "The Spirit breatheth where He will; and thou hearest His voice, but thou knowest not whence He cometh and whither He goeth. So is everyone that is born of the Spirit" (23) and is docile to His inspiration. St. Thomas says (24) we do not really know where precisely the wind that blows was formed, or how far it will make itself felt. In the same way, we, do not know where precisely a divine inspiration begins, or to what degree of perfection it would lead us if we were wholly faithful to it. Let us not be like sailing vessels which, because of neglect in noting a favorable wind, have their sails furled when they should be spread.

According to these principles, the great majority of theologians hold with St. Thomas that the gifts are really and specifically distinct from the infused virtues, just as the principles which direct them are distinct: that is, the Holy Ghost and reason illumined by faith. We have here two regulating motions, two different rules that constitute different formal motives. It is a fundamental principle that habits are specified by their object and their formal motive, as sight by color and light, and hearing by sound. The human mode of acting results from the human rule; the superhuman mode results from the superhuman or divine rule, from the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, "modus a mensura causatur." (25) Thus even infused prudence proceeds by discursive deliberation, in which it differs from the gift of counsel, which disposes us to receive a special inspiration of a superdiscursive order.(26) Even infused prudence hesitates, for example, about what answer to give to an indiscreet question so as to avoid a lie and keep a secret; while a special inspiration of the Holy Ghost will enable us to find a proper reply, as Christ told His disciples.(27)

Likewise, while faith adheres simply to revealed truths, the gift of understanding makes us scrutinize their depths, and that of wisdom makes us taste them. The gifts are thus specifically distinct from the virtues.(28)

St. Thomas adds in his Summa (29) a statement that he had not made in his Commentary on the Sentences, namely, that the gifts of the Holy Ghost are necessary to salvation. The Book of Wisdom (7: 28) tells us in fact that: "God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom"; and we read in Ecclesiasticus (I: 28): "He that is without fear (of God), cannot be justified." Wisdom is the highest of the gifts, and fear the lowest.

Moreover, St. Thomas notes that even the infused virtues, both theological and moral, which are adapted to the human mode of our faculties, leave us in a state of inferiority in regard to our supernatural end which should be known in a more lively, more penetrating, more delightful manner, and toward which we ought to advance with greater ardor. (30)

Even when faith is elevated, it remains essentially, imperfect for three reasons: (I) because of the obscurity of its object, which it does not attain immediately, but "through a glass in a dark manner" (I Cor. 13: I2); (2) it attains its object only by multiple dogmatic formulas, whereas God is supremely simple; (3) it attains its object in an abstract manner, by affirmative and negative propositions (componendo et dividendo), whereas, on the contrary, the living God is the light of life, whom we ought to be able to know, not in an abstract manner but in a quasi-experimental manner.(31) Hope shares the imperfection of faith, and so does charity as long as its object is proposed by faith.

With even greater reason, prudence, though infused, is imperfect from the fact that it must have recourse to reasoning, to the search for reasons for acting in order to direct the moral virtues. It frequently hesitates, for example, about a suitable answer to give to an indiscreet question so as to keep a secret and avoid a lie. In certain cases, only a good inspiration would be necessary to do so. The same thing is true when it is a case of efficaciously resisting certain temptations, either subtle, or violent and prolonged.

"Human reason," says St. Thomas, "even when perfected by the theological virtues, does not know all things, or all possible things. Consequently it is unable to avoid folly (stultitia) and other like things. . . . God, however, to whose knowledge and power all things are subject, by His motion safeguards us from all folly, ignorance, dullness of mind, hardness of heart, and the rest. Consequently the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which make us docile to His promptings, are said to be given as remedies for these defects." (32)

In this sense they are necessary to salvation, as sails are on a vessel that it may be responsive to a favorable wind, although it may advance also by means of oars. These two ways of advancing are quite distinct, although they may be united or simultaneous.

"By the theological and moral virtues," says St. Thomas, "man is not so perfected in respect of his last end as not to stand in continual need of being moved by the yet higher promptings of the Holy Ghost." (33) This need is permanent in man; for this reason the gifts are in us a permanent, infused disposition.(34)

We make use of the gifts somewhat as we do of the virtue of obedience in order to receive a superior direction with docility and to act according to this direction; but we do not have this superior inspiration whenever we wish.(35) In this sense by means of the gifts we are passive in regard to the Holy Ghost that we may act under His influence. This will explain more clearly why, like obedience, the gifts are a permanent disposition in the just man.(36)

This great fitness, and even this necessity of the gifts, is better seen if we consider the perfection which each of them gives either to the intellect, or to the will and to the sensible part of the soul, as St. Thomas points out.(37)

The following synopsis explains the statement just made:

We see that those gifts which direct the others are superior; among them the gift of wisdom is the highest because it gives us a quasi experimental knowledge of God, and thereby, a judgment about divine things which is superior even to the penetration of the gift of understanding (which belongs rather to first apprehension than to judgment).

The gift of knowledge corresponds to hope in this sense, that it makes us see the emptiness of created things and of human help, and consequently the necessity of placing our confidence in God in order to attain to the possession of Him. The gift of fear also perfects hope by preserving us from presumption; but it corresponds also to temperance to aid us against temptations.(38) To these seven gifts correspond the beatitudes which are their acts, as St. Thomas so well shows.(39)

Finally, from the necessity of the gifts for salvation it follows that they are connected with charity, according to St. Paul's words to the Romans (5: 5): "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us." The Holy Ghost does not come to us without His seven gifts, which thus accompany charity and which, consequently, are lost with it by mortal sin.

They thus belong to the spiritual organism of sanctifying grace, which is therefore called "the grace of the virtues and the gifts."(40) Since all the infused virtues grow together like the five fingers of the hand,(41) the same must be said of the seven gifts. Hence we cannot conceive of a Christian having that high degree of charity which is proper to perfection, without at the same time having the gifts of the Holy Ghost in a proportionate degree, although perhaps in him the gifts of understanding and of wisdom may be exercised under a less contemplative and more practical form than in others. This was the case with St. Vincent de Paul and many other saints who were called to devote themselves to their neighbor in the works of the active life.(42)

We shall treat later of docility to the Holy Ghost and of the conditions it demands,(43) but we see even now the value of this spiritual organism, which is eternal life begun in us. This life is more precious than sight, than physical life, than the use of reason, in this sense, that the loss of the use of reason does not deprive the just man of this treasure, which death itself cannot snatch from us. This grace of the virtues and gifts is also more precious than the gift of miracles or of tongues or of prophecy; for these charismata are, so to speak, only exterior, supernatural signs, which can point out the way that leads to God, but cannot unite us to Him as sanctifying grace and charity can.(44)

To see more clearly how the diverse functions of this spiritual organism should be exercised, we must speak of the actual grace necessary to the exercise of the virtues and the gifts.(45)

Footnotes
   
 17. Cf. St. Thomas, In III Sent., dist. 34 f.; Ia IIae, q.68; IIa IIae, q.8, 9, 19, 45, 52, 121, 139; see his commentators, especially Cajetan and John of St. Thomas, on Ia IIae, q.68.
St. Bonaventure may also be consulted with profit. His doctrine differs on certain secondary points from that of St. Thomas; cf. Breviloquium, Part V, chaps. 5 f., and J. Fr. Bonnefoy, Le Saint-Esprit et ses dons selon saint Bonaventure (Paris: Vrin, 1929), and also art. "Bonaventure," Dict. de spiritualite.
See also Dionysius the Carthusian, De donis Spiritus Sancti (an excellent treatise); J. B. de Saint-Jure, S.J., L'homme spirituel, Part I, chap. 4, "Des sept dons"; L. Lallemant, S.J., La doctrine spirituelle, 4th principle, "La docilite a la conduite du Saint-Esprit." B. Froget, O.P., De l'habitation du Saint-Esprit dans les ames justes (Paris, 1900), pp. 378-424. A. Gardeil, O.P., "Dons du Saint-Esprit," Dict. de theol. cathol., IV, 1728-81; La structure de l'ame et l'experience mystique (Paris, 1927), II, 192-281; Les dons du Saint-Esprit dans les saint dominicains (the introduction particularly), 1903. See several other articles on various gifts in particular by the same theologian in La vie spirituelle, 1932, 1933.
D. Joret, O.P., La contemplation mystique d'apres saint Thomas d'Aquin, 1927, pp. 30-62.
We have also treated this important subject at length in Christian Perfection and Contemplation, chap 5, a.5 f., pp. 271-331. See also La vie spirituelle, November 19, 1932, suppl.: 'Les dons ont-ils un mode humain"; ibid., October, 1933, suppl.: "A propos du mode supra-humain des dons du Saint-Esprit," reproduced in this book, infra, pp. 78-88.
18. In the supernatural order, it is a question of reason enlightened by faith. It is thus, in particular, that infused prudence directs the infused moral virtues.

19. "Secundum ea homo disponitur, ut efficiatur prompte mobilis ab inspira tione divina."

20. See Ia IIae, q.68, a. 1.

21. Ibid., a. 3, and III Sent. D. XXXIV, q. I, a. I.

22. See la IIae, q.68, a. 3: "The gifts of the Holy Ghost are habits whereby man is perfected to obey readily the Holy Ghost." Cf. ibid., q.70, a.2: "The beatitudes are none but perfect works, which, by reason of their perfection, are assigned to the gifts rather than to the virtues."

28 John 3:8.

24. St. Thomas, In Joannem, 3:8.

25. This principle, contained in the commentary of St. Thomas on the Sentences and in his Summa, marks the continuity of these two works. Cf. III,D. XXXIV, q.2, a.1, qc.3; q.3, a.1, qc.1; and Ia IIae, q.68, a.1, a.2 ad rum. See
also Perfection chretienne et contemplation, 7th ed., II, [52]-[64J.

26. See IIa IIae, q.52, a. I ad 1um.

27. Matt. 10: 19.

28. Other serious difficulties would follow the negation of the specific distinction between the virtues and the gifts. We could not explain why certain gifts, such as fear, are not numbered among the virtues, or why Christ had the seven gifts, as Isaias teaches us (II: 2 f.), without having certain infused virtues, such as faith, hope, and penance, which suppose an imperfection.

29. See Ia IIae, q.68, a.2.

30. Ibid.

31. The gift of wisdom makes this possible.

32. Ibid., a.2 ad 3um.

33. Ibid., ad 2um. Some theologians, as Abbe Perriot (Ami du clerge, 1891, p. 391), basing their argument on the text of St. Thomas that we have just quoted, have thought that in his opinion the gifts intervene in every meritorious work. Father Froget, O.P. (De l'habitation du Saint-Esprit dans les ames justes, Part IV, chap. 6, pp. 47-14) and Father Gardeil, O.P. (Dict. theol. cath., art. "Dons," col. 1779) have shown that this is not at all the true thought of St. Thomas. To say that the gifts of the Holy Ghost must intervene in every meritorious act, even though it be imperfect (remissus et quantumvis remissus), would be to confound ordinary actual grace with the special inspiration to which the gifts render us docile. In the text which we have just quoted, St. Thomas means that man is not perfected to such a degree by the theological virtues that he does not always need to be inspired by the interior Master (semper not pro-semper), as we say: "I always need this hat," not however from morning until night, or from night until morning. Similarly a medical student not so well instructed that he does not always need the assistance of his master for certain operations. The need we experience is not transitory but permanent; all of which goes to show that the gifts should be not transitory inspirations, like the grace of prophecy, but permanent infused dispositions.

Moreover, it is certain that man can make a supernatural act of faith with a actual grace, without any assistance from the gifts of the Holy Ghost, without penetrating or tasting the mysteries to which he adheres. This is the case with the believer who is in the state of mortal sin, and who, on losing charity, has lost the seven gifts.

But, on the other hand, it is commonly admitted that the gifts of the Holy Ghost frequently influence us in a latent manner without our being aware of it, in order to give our meritorious acts a perfection which they would not have without this influence. In like manner, a favorable breeze facilitates the work of the rowers.

As S . Thomas teaches, Ia IIae, q.68, a.8, the gifts are in this way superior to the used moral virtues. Although the gifts are less elevated than the theological virtues, they bring them an added perfection, that, for example, of penetrating and delighting in the mysteries of faith.

34. See Ia IIae, q.68, a.3.

35. John of St. Thomas, De donis, Disp. 18, a.:z, no. 3 I.

36. St. Thomas (Ia IIae, q.68, a.3) and his commentators, in particular John of St. Thomas, show clearly that it is highly fitting that the gifts should be permanent dispositions in us (habitus) in order to render us habitually docile to the Holy Ghost, who always remains in the just soul, as the moral virtues are permanent dispositions to render the will and the sensible part of the soul habitually docile to the direction of right reason.
If it were otherwise, the organism of the life of grace, which is the greatest of the gifts of God, would remain imperfect. It is not fitting that, according to the plan of Providence, which disposes all things suaviter et fortiter, the organism of the supernatural life in the just soul should be in this respect less perfect than that of the acquired virtues directed by reason. Finally, according to tradition, habitual grace is called "the grace of the virtues and gifts." Cf. St. Thomas, IIIa, q.62, a.2.

37. See Ia IIae, q.68, a.4, and IIa IIae, q.8, a.6.

38. See lIa lIae, q. 141, a. 1 ad 3um.

39. See Ia IIae, q.69, a.3, c. and ad 3um; IIa IIae, q.8, a.7; q.9, a.4; q.45, a.6; q.19,a.12; q.121, a.2; q.139,a.2.
Following St. Augustine, St. Thomas shows that the gift of wisdom corresponds to the beatitude of the peacemakers, for it gives peace and allows the soul possessing it to give it to others, at times even to the most troubled. The gift of understanding corresponds to the beatitude of the clean of heart; for those who possess this cleanness of heart begin here on earth, in a certain way, to see God in all that happens to us. The gift of knowledge, which shows us the gravity of sin, corresponds to the beatitude of those who weep for their sins. The gift of counsel, which inclines the soul to mercy, corresponds to the beatitude of the merciful. The gift of piety, which makes us see in men not rivals, but children of God and our brothers, corresponds to the beatitude of the meek. The gift of fortitude corresponds to that of those who unger and thirst after justice and never become discouraged. Finally, the gift of fear corresponds to the beatitude of the poor in spirit; they possess the holy fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom.

40. See IIIa, q.62, a. 2: "Whether sacramental grace confers anything in addition to the grace of the virtues and gifts." St. Thomas says here that habitual grace is so called because from it proceed the infused virtues and the gifts, as so many functions of the same organism.

41 See Ia IIae, q.66, a.1.

42 Pursuing the comparison we have already used, we note that among sailing vessels equally responsive to the wind, the brig differs from the schooner; the form and arrangement of the sails vary; certain places one type of sail is better than another. Something similar is found in the order of spiritual navigation toward the port of salvation.

43. Cf. infra, Part III, chap. 23.

44. See Ia IIae, q. III, a.5: "Whether gratia gratum faciens is nobler than gratia gratis data." St. Thomas answers with St. Paul (I Cor. 13: 1) that sanctifying grace, which is inseparable from charity, is far more excellent than graces gratis datae.

45. The theological virtues, which unite us to the Holy Ghost, are superior to the seven gifts, although they receive a new perfection from the gifts; thus a tree is more perfect than its fruit. These virtues are the rule of the gifts, in the sense that the gifts make us penetrate more deeply and taste with greater delight the mysteries to which we adhere by faith; but the immediate rule of the act of the gifts is the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost
 
Ch 3: The Spiritual Organism (cont)
 
 
APPENDIX - THE SUPERHUMAN MODE OF THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST

Since we have treated this question of the superhuman mode of the gifts of the Holy Ghost in other works, (1) we shall briefly recall the exact meaning of what we have previously written on this point and add some new and exact statements.

IN WHAT SENSE CAN THE GIFTS HAVE TWO MODES, THAT ON EARTH AND THAT OF HEAVEN?

We have several times recalled this incontestable truth, namely, that one habitus can have acts whose formal object is distinct from that of the habitus, and we have admitted that in the specifying object of the habitus two different modes of acting may be found, as, for example, in the case of the infused virtues and the gifts, their mode of acting here on earth and their mode in heaven. But we have emphasized the fact that one and the same habitus cannot be the principle of acts that have distinct modes, such as that of earth and that of heaven, unless the first mode is ordained to the second and thus falls under one and the same formal object.

A recent work offering an entirely contrary opinion (2) states that the gifts of the Holy Ghost would, according to St. Thomas, have even here on earth two specifically distinct modes, the one ordinary, the other essentially extraordinary; the latter would be required for the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith. Consequently contemplation would not be in the normal way of sanctity.

We replied to this opinion.(3) The essence of our reply, which should not be overlooked, was as follows: "If there were here on earth two specifically distinct modes for the gifts of the Holy Ghost, one of which would be ordinary, and the other not only eminent, but intrinsically and extrinsically extraordinary, the act characterized by the human mode would not be ordained to the act characterized by a superhuman and essentially extraordinary mode. (It would not be ordained to it any more than to the acts which suppose graces gratis datae, such as prophecy.) On the contrary, the act of the gifts exercised on earth is essentially ordained to that of heaven. They are, as St. Thomas insisted in the Quaestiones disputatae, 'in eadem serie motus,' in the same series of operations, and the last must be placed, otherwise all that precede fail to attain their end.

"This text from the Quaestiones disputatae (4), in no way contradicts what we have said. It does not state that the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost have on earth two specifically distinct acts, one ordinary, the other essentially extraordinary. It states quite the contrary; for it demands that for one and the same habitus the less perfect act should be ordained to the second, just as the foundation of a building is to the superstructure, as Christian life on earth is to that of heaven." We even underlined (ibid., p. 76) in the text of St. Thomas invoked against our opinion, the word ordinetur, which the writer had neglected to consider.

R. Dalbiez, writing in the Etudes Carmelitaines, April, 1933 (pp. 250 ff.), made the same observation that we did. He placed in parallel columns the integral text of St. Thomas and the quotation that Father Chrysogonous had taken from it, although the latter failed to cite these significant words: "Si autem non accipiatur unum in ordine ad aliud, tunc non erunt eaedem virtutes, nec secundum actum nec secundum habitum." (5) Father Dalbiez adds (ibid.): "The passage which I have underlined and which Father Chrysogonous did not quote is quite unfavorable to his thesis. . . . The idea of finding in this so-called definitive text the slightest support for the thesis of the two modes, human and superhuman, of the terrestrial acts of the gifts of the Holy Ghost must be abandoned."

P. Perinelle, in the Revue des sciences philosophiques et theologiques, November, 1932 (p. 692), makes a like observation on the central argument of the thesis. He adds that Father Chrysogonous was mistaken in saying that according to St. Thomas there are three infused intellectual virtues (understanding, knowledge, and wisdom) parallel to the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and that it is only since the Fall that the gifts are necessary.

What most interests us here is that the author did not at all succeed in proving the principal point that he wished to establish: namely, that the gifts have here below two specifically distinct modes of operating, one ordinary, the other essentially extraordinary, which would characterize infused contemplation.

WHETHER THE SUPERHUMAN MODE OF THE GIFTS CAN BE LATENT

We have often affirmed that ordinarily the superhuman mode of the gifts is at first quite hidden, that is, in the ascetical life, and that this mode becomes more manifest in the mystical life, at least for an experienced director.(6) We may express this teaching more exactly by stating that in the ascetical life the influence of the gifts is either latent and quite frequent (it makes one think of the breeze which only facilitates the work of the rowers), or manifest but rare (in certain striking circumstances), whereas, on the contrary, in the mystical life the influence of the gifts is both frequent and manifest. It is not, however, always striking, as in the case of the great contemplatives, but occasionally diffuse, very real nevertheless, as is the case in saints who have an active vocation, such as St. Vincent de Paul. (7)

Some may object: "The operation belonging to the superhuman mode could not remain hidden; the soul necessarily perceives it from the very fact that this operation deviates from the natural mode of the subject." This assertion springs from the preceding one which, we have seen, has not been proved. It would be true if the gifts had here on earth two specifically distinct modes, and if the superhuman mode were extraordinary to the point of requiring infused ideas or a manifestly supernatural arrangement of our acquired ideas. But this is not so. Even in the case of prophecy, which is an extraordinary grace, there may be, says St. Thomas, a prophetic instinct hidden even from him who receives it; by it he can, like Caiphas, prophesy without knowing it. "The prophet's mind is instructed by God in two ways: in one way by an express revelation, in another way by a most mysterious instinct 'to which the human mind is subjected without knowing it,' as Augustine says (Gen. ad lit., II, 17)." (8)

Since this is true for prophecy, which is an essentially extra ordinary grace, with even greater reason is it true of the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, to which the gifts, present in all the just, should render them docile. All spiritual writers admit that this special inspiration, which resembles the breeze that comes up at the right moment, is ordinarily latent and almost imperceptible at first, and that, if it is not resisted, it generally becomes stronger and more urgent. Innumerable passages from Scripture, from the fathers, from St. Thomas, and St. John of the Cross could be quoted on this point. They make this statement in particular when commenting on Christ's words: "The Spirit breatheth where He will, and thou hearest His voice; but thou knowest not whence He cometh and whither He goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit." (9) The inspiration, at first latent and obscure, becomes more manifest, luminous, and compelling if one is faithful.

St. John of the Cross expresses the same idea in The Ascent of Mount Carmel: "It is indispensable to possess this knowledge proper to contemplation before leaving discursive meditation. But it is to be remembered that this general knowledge. . . is at times so subtle and delicate, particularly when most pure, simple, perfect, spiritual, and interior, that the soul, though in the practice thereof, is not observant or conscious of it." (10)

The special inspiration which we should receive with docility through the gifts of the Holy Ghost is undoubtedly often quite hidden. According to spiritual writers, we must establish ourselves in silence that we may be attentive to this inspiration, hear it, and then distinguish between it and one that might lead us astray. This is the whole question of the discernment of spirits. This admonition is frequently expressed in The Imitation of Christ: "Consider these things, 0 my soul, and close up the doors of thy sensual desires; that thou mayest hear what the Lord thy God speaketh within thee." (11) Moreover, there are certainly many degrees of docility to the Holy Ghost, from our first response to the attraction of our vocation up to the last moment when we give up our souls to God.

ARE THERE DEGREES IN DETACHMENT FROM CREATURES?

Is detachment from creatures the same for the greatest saints and for souls that have reached a lesser perfection? To formulate the question is to solve it; we have never had the slightest doubt on this point.

One must be possessed of a certain juvenile daring to write: "Detachment from creatures ought to be the same for all perfect souls: that is, total, absolute, universal. It is impossible to find a mean between having and not having defects. Now perfection by its nature excludes all defects, whether directly or indirectly voluntary. The interior fervor exercised in detaching oneself from everything will vary in the subject according to the degree of the grace received, which is the seed of more or less striking victories; but objectively speaking, the renunciation of everything, no matter how small, which is opposed to the divine will, must be total and witnout any exception."

The logical formalism which halts at the formula: "It is impossible to find a mean between having and not having defects," ought not to make us forget the concrete order of things, or the great difference that exists among perfect souls, from the least elevated up to the holy soul of Christ. In concrete reality, renunciation, even objectively considered, progresses together with the fervor of will of the subject in which it exists. In fact, an already perfect soul can undeniably still progress, and in that soul detachment from creatures increases with union with God. These are two aspects of the progress of the life of grace, which continues in the unitive way. Thus many indirectly voluntary defects, the result of a practically unheeded negligence, are progressively eliminated in proportion as the depth of the soul is purified and more intimately and continually united to God.

Moreover, it is certain that a just man, even though perfect, cannot continually avoid all venial sins, although he can avoid each venal sin in particular. As he grows in charity, he avoids them more and more, so that in the transforming union, as St. Teresa explains,(12) the soul is practically freed from the trouble of the passions; as long as it is under the actual grace of the transforming union, it does not commit deliberate venial sins. Outside of these moments, it may still commit some venial fault, which is quickly atoned for. Though some perfect souls are confirmed in good, this is not true of all of them.

Finally, we must not forget that detachment from creatures was far greater in the Blessed Virgin than in the greatest saints, since she never committed the slightest venial sin. It was even greater still in the holy soul of Christ, who not only never actually sinned, but who was, even here on earth, absolutely impeccable. Therefore it is truly an exaggeration of simplicity to say: "It is impossible to find a mean between having and not having defects." What is true, is that there is no mean between being or not being absolutely impeccable, between continually avoiding or not avoiding every venial sin, between wishing or not wishing to strive henceforth to avoid them more and more. According to St. Thomas, "man (poenitens) needs to have the purpose of taking steps to commit fewer venial sins." (13) According as this will is more or less intense or fervent, he will actually avoid them more or less. Detachment from creatures will increase with the progress of charity or of attachment to God. Father Chardon strongly insisted on this point in his beautiful book, La croix de Jesus.

From all evidence, there are many degrees in what St. Thomas expresses in this manner: "Perfection can be had in this life. . . by the removal from man's affections not only of whatever is contrary to charity, but also of whatever hinders the mind's affections from tending wholly to God." (14) In this detachment there are many degrees even in regard to the exclusion of venial sins: "Those who are perfect in this life are said to offend in many things with regard to venial sins, which result from a weakness of the present life." (15) This statement is not exaggerated in its simplicity; it is rather the simple expression of Christian good sense.(16)

ARE THE PASSIVE PURIFICATIONS NECESSARY TO ELIMINATE MORAL DEFECTS?

Our opponent writes in one of his replies: "We think that the defects pointed out by St. John of the Cross in The Dark Night under the name of capital sins, are all voluntary and that consequently the soul can, with the help of ordinary grace, free itself from them. Does Father Garrigou-Lagrange believe that the soul cannot purify itself of spiritual gluttony, spiritual laziness, spiritual pride, and other defects of this type. . . by the exercise of asceticism? We repeat here what we wrote elsewhere: that, if it could not free itself from them, these defects would no longer be voluntary and consequently would not hinder perfection."

We answer that St. Thomas avoids this excessively simple and superficial manner of considering things, when he teaches the necessity of the gifts of the Holy Ghost and of the corresponding inspirations for salvation and perfection.(17) We have seen in the course of this study that he by no means admits that the gifts would have here on earth two specifically distinct modes, one ordinary, the other essentially extraordinary, such as that of graces gratis datae.

The soul can free itself of certain moral defects only by docility to the special inspirations of the Holy Ghost. It would be entirely false to say that if the soul cannot deliver itself from them without these special inspirations, "these defects are no longer voluntary and therefore do not hinder perfection." The gifts of the Holy Ghost are given to all the just precisely to enable them to receive with docility these special inspirations, whose superhuman mode, that is at first latent, grows progressively more manifest if the soul is docile. St. Thomas says in fitting terms: "Whether we consider human reason as perfected in its natural perfection, or as perfected by the theological virtues, it does not know all things, or all possible things. Consequently it is unable to avoid folly and other like things mentioned in the objection. God, however, to whose knowledge and power all things are subject, by His motion safeguards us from all folly, ignorance, dullness of mind, and hardness of heart, and the rest. Consequently the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which make us amenable to His promptings, are said to be given as remedies for these defects." (18)

We hold, therefore, that the special inspirations of the Holy
Ghost are necessary that the soul may be purified of a certain rudeness or harshness, of dullness, of spiritual folly, and other similar defects, which are not only opposed to a certain psychological purity, but to moral purity. Without progressive docility to these special inspirations of the Holy Ghost, the depth of the soul will not be purified of its more or less unconscious egoism which mingles, under the form of indirectly voluntary negligence, in many of our acts and in many more or less culpable omissions.

To say that the passive purifications are not necessary to perfect moral purity would be to deny the necessity of the passive purification of the will, which frees the acts of hope and charity from all human alloy.(19) In this connection we may profitably recall what St. Teresa wrote in her Life: "For instance, they read that we must not be troubled when men speak ill of us, that we are to be then more pleased than when they speak well of us; that we must despise our own good name, be detached from our kindred, . . . with many other things of the same kind. The disposition to practice this must be, in my opinion, the gift of God; for it seems to me a supernatural good." (20) The meaning which the saint gives to this last expression is well known. Moreover, she remarks more than once that the progress of the virtues normally accompanies that of prayer, and that profound humility is ordinarily the fruit of the infused contemplation of the infinite grandeur of God and of our own wretchedness. This growth in virtue is not something accidental; it is the normal development of the interior life.

St. John of the Cross clearly holds that the passive purifications are necessary for the profound purity of the will. It will suffice to recall what he says of the defects that necessitate the passive purification of the senses and that of the spirit. In The Dark Night of the Soul (Bk. I, chaps. 2-9, and Bk. II, chaps. I f.) he speaks, especially in the last two chapters named, of the "stains of the old man" which still remain in the spirit, like rust which will disappear only under the action of an intense fire. Among the defects of proficients which require "the strong lye of the night of the spirit," he mentions rudeness, impatience, secret pride, unconscious egoism which causes some souls to use spiritual goods in anything but a detached manner, with the result that they fall into illusions. Evidently they lack not only psychological but moral purity. Finally, in the opinion of St. John of the Cross, these passive purifications (which belong to the mystical order) and infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith are indubitably in the normal way of sanctity since he wrote the two following propositions, which are of primary importance in his work: "The passive purification of the senses is common, it takes place in the greater number of beginners"; being passive, it belongs not to the ascetical but to the mystical order.(21) "The soul began to set out on the way of the spirit, the way of proficients, which is also called the illuminative way, or the way of infused contemplation, wherein God Himself teaches and refreshes the soul" (22) St. John of the Cross most certainly wished to note here not something accidental, but something that is produced normally in the way of sanctity when a soul that is truly docile to the Holy Ghost does not recoil in the face of trial.

We maintain, therefore, what we have always taught on this point. Moreover, the Carmelite theologians have taught the same doctrine. Philip of the Blessed Trinity (23) and Anthony of the Holy Ghost (24) state very clearly: "All ought to aspire to supernatural contemplation. All, and especially souls consecrated to God, ought to aspire and to tend to the actual union of enjoyment with God." (These theologians assign the same meaning to the words "supernatural" and "infused" when they apply them to contemplation.)

Finally, as we have more than once remarked, Joseph of the Holy Ghost wrote: "If infused contemplation is taken in the sense of rapture, ecstasy, or similar favors, we cannot apply ourselves to it, or ask it of God, or desire it; but as for infused contemplation in itself, as an act of contemplation (abstraction being made of ecstasy which may accidentally accompany it), we can aspire to it, desire it ardently, and humbly ask it of God, although we cannot certainly endeavor to have it by our own industry or our own activity." (25) Joseph of the Holy Ghost even says: "God usually raises to infused contemplation the soul that exercises itself fervently in acquired contemplation. This is the common teaching." (26)

We have never taught anything else. This is truly the teaching of St. John of the Cross, and it conforms fully to that left us by St. Thomas on the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, which are connected with charity and which, as infused habits, grow with charity. The full perfection of Christian life is inconceivable without them and without the special inspirations to which they render us docile.

Footnotes
   
 1. Cf. Christian Perfection and Contemplation, pp. 272-77, 324 ff.
2. P. Chrysogonous, O.C.D., La perfection et la mystique selon les principes de saint Thomas, Bruges, 1931.

3. Cf. La Vie spirituelle, November, 1931, suppl., pp. [77] ff.

4. Quaestio unica de virtutibus cardinalibus, a.4: "Utrum virtutes cardinales maneant in patria."

5. Quaestio unica de virtutibus cardinalibus, a.4, in corp

6. Cf: Christian Perfection and Contemplation, pp. 282-85; 324 ff.; 328.

7. bId., pp. 320 ff.

8. See IIa IIae, q.171, a.5. Cf. ibid., q.I73, a.4, where St. Thomas gives the example of Caiphas, who prophesied without knowing that he did so.

9. John 3:8.

10 Bk. II, chap. 14.

11 Bk. III, chap. I; ibid., chaps. 2 f.

12. The Interior Castle, seventh mansion, chap. 2

I3. Summa, IIIa, q.87, a.1 ad 1um.

14 See IIa IIae, q. 184, a.2.

15. Ibid., ad 1um.

16. These last texts quoted from St. Thomas demonstrate, in spite of what may have been occasionally said on the subject, that he would by no means condemn the teaching of spiritual writers in regard to the mortification of activity that is called "natural," that is, not sanctified, which develops to the detriment of the life of grace. St. Thomas insists here that in order to reach perfection one should will to exclude "whatever hinders the mind's affections from tending wholly to God." If a person does not oblige himself by vow to practice the three evangelical counsels, he ought at least to have the spirit of these counsels in order to be perfect (IIa IIae, q. 184, a. 3) To attain this end, it is thus recommended that a person should not be too much concerned with earthly things, but should use the goods of this world as though not using them. In this renunciation there is evidently a progress even in those who are already perfect.

17 See Ia IIae, q.68, a.2.

18. Ibid., ad 3um.

19. We treated this subject at considerable length in L'amour de Dieu et la croix de Jesus, II, 597-632; "The Passive Purification of Hope and of Charity."

20. Life, chap. 31, 21.

21. The Dark Night of the Soul, Bk. I, chap. 8.

22. Ibid., Bk. II, chap. 14.

23. Summa theol. myst. (ed. 1874), II, 299; III, 43.

24. Directorium mysticum (ed. 1733), tr. III, disp. III, sect. IV; tr. IV, disp. I, sect. VI.

25. Cursus theol. scol. myst., II, II Praed., disp. XI, q. 11, nos. 18, 23.

26. Ibid., disp. VIII.


Ch 3: The Spiritual Organism (cont)
 
 
ARTICLE V - ACTUAL GRACE AND ITS DIVERS FORMS

We shall recall here: (1) the necessity of actual grace; (2) its
divers forms; and (3) the general nature of fidelity to grace.

THE NECESSITY OF ACTUAL GRACE

Even in the natural order, no created agent acts or operates without the cooperation of God, first Mover of bodies and spirits. In this sense, St. Paul says in his discourse on the Areopagus: "Although He (God) be not far from every one of us; for in Him we live and move and are." (1) With even greater reason in the supernatural order, that we may produce acts of the infused virtues and of the gifts, we need a divine motion, which is called actual grace. It is a truth of faith defined against the Pelagians and the Semi-Pelagians,(2) that, without this grace, we can neither dispose ourselves positively to conversion, nor persevere for a notable time in good, nor above all persevere until death. Without actual grace, we cannot produce the slightest salutary act, or, with even greater reason, reach perfection. This is what Christ meant when He said to His disciples: "Without Me you can do nothing." (3) St. Paul adds with regard to the order of salvation: "Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves," (4) and that "It is God who worketh in you both to will and to accomplish," (5) by actualizing our liberty without violating it. It is He who gives us to dispose ourselves to habitual grace and to act meritoriously. When He crowns our merits, it is still His gifts that He crowns, says St. Augustine. The Church has often recalled this idea in her councils.(6)

This explains why we must always pray. The necessity of prayer is founded on the necessity of actual grace. Except for the first grace, which is gratuitously given to us without our praying for it, since it is the very principle of prayer, it is a thoroughly established truth that prayer is the normal, efficacious, and universal means by which God wishes that we should obtain all the actual graces we need. This is why our Lord inculcates so often the necessity of prayer to obtain grace. He says: "Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened." (7) He recalls this necessity of prayer to obtain actual grace, especially when temptation is to be resisted: "Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (8) In prayer we ought to recognize that God is the Author of all good; and therefore all confidence not founded on prayer is presumptuous.(9)

Therefore the Council of Trent declares in St. Augustine's own words: "God never commands the impossible, but in commanding He tells us to do what we can, to ask for that which we are not able to do, and He helps us in order that we may be able." (10) By His actual grace He even helps us to pray. There are, consequently, actual graces which we can obtain only by prayer.(11)

We could not insist too strongly on this point, for many beginners, unwittingly impregnated with practical naturalism, as the Pelagians and the Semi-Pelagians were, imagine that everything can be attained with will and energy, even without actual grace. Experience soon shows them the profound truth of Christ's words: "Without Me you can do nothing," and also that of St. Paul's statement: "It is God who worketh in you both to will and to accomplish." Therefore we must ask Him for the actual grace ever more faithfully to keep the commandments, especially the supreme precept of the love of God and of our neighbor.

THE DIFFERENT ACTUAL GRACES

Actual grace, the necessity of which we have just recalled, presents itself under many forms which it is highly useful to know in the spiritual life. It will be well at this point to review the principles as clearly as possible, without failing to recognize the mystery they express. It is one of the most remarkable partly clear and partly obscure mysteries of Christian doctrine.

Actual grace is often given to us as a light or interior illumination. For example, while reading the Epistle or Gospel of the day at Mass, an interior light is given to us that we may better grasp its meaning. We are struck by these words of Christ to the Samaritan woman: "If thou didst know the gift of God," (12) or by those of St. Paul: "The Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself for me," (13) and we consider that He continues to offer Himself for us in the Mass and that, if we wish, He will give Himself to us, especially in Holy Communion. This light constitutes a grace of interior illumination.(14) It is followed by a grace of inspiration and attraction, for, in thinking of the generous and disinterested love of the Savior, we feel ourselves strongly led to return Him love for love. This is an actual grace which acts on the will and leads to love and to action. At times it even brings one to will to give oneself fully to God, to suffer, and if need be, to die for Him. Then it is not only a grace of attraction, but a grace of strength, which, though often received without our being at all aware of it, makes it possible for us in aridity to endure and to wait (15)

How does actual grace, which moves the will, influence it? It does this in two ways: either by proposing to it an object which attracts it, or by a motion or interior impulse which God alone can  give.(16) God can evidently incline our will toward good by proposing an object to it, for example, by the promise of eternal beatitude, or of progress in love. Thus a mother inclines the will of her child to good, either by proposing to him a sensible object which attracts him, or by persuading him to conduct himself in a becoming manner. Our guardian angels can do this also by suggesting good thoughts to us. What God alone can do, is to move our will to good by an interior motion or impulse, for He is closer to us than we are to ourselves. He preserves in existence our soul and our faculties, of which He is the Author; and, without doing violence to them, He can move them from within according to their natural inclination by giving us a new energy. An example will help to make this understood: In order to teach her child to walk, a mother takes hold of him under his arms and helps him not only with her voice by showing him an object to attain, but by her gesture; by lifting him up. What the mother does thus in the corporeal order, God can do in the spiritual order. He can lift up, not only our body but our will itself, to lead it to good. He is the very Author of our will; He has given it its fundamental inclination to good, and in consequence He alone can move it from within according to this inclination. He acts thus in us, in the very inmost depths of our will, to make us will and act. The more urgently we ask Him to do this, the more strongly does He act to increase in us the love that we should have for Him.

Moreover, actual grace is called prevenient grace when it arouses a good thought or good feeling in us, when we have done nothing to exciJe it in ourselves. If we do not resist this grace, God adds to it a helping or concomitant grace, which will assist our will to produce the salutary act demanded and to realize our good designs. Thus, as St. Paul says: "God works in us both to will and to accomplish."

Finally, we must note that God sometimes moves us to act by deliberation according to the human mode, and at other times by special inspiration to act in a superior manner without deliberation on our part. The following is an example of the first case: I see that the habitual hour to recite the Rosary has come, and of my own accord I am led by deliberation to recite it. I do so under the influence of a common actual grace, called cooperating, for it cooperates in my action according to the human mode of deliberation.

The second mode may be illustrated by the following example: It may happen that in an unexpected way while doing absorbing work, I receive a special inspiration to say a short prayer, and I immediately do it. This special inspiration is called an operating grace, for it operates in us without deliberation on our part, not however without vital, free, and meritorious consent. (17) In the first manner, God generally moves us to act according to the human mode of the virtues; in the second manner, He moves us to act according to the superhuman mode of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Our ship then advances no longer solely by dint of rowing, but by the superior impulse of a favorable wind.


Under operating grace, we are more passive than active, and our activity consists especially in consenting freely to the operation of God, in allowing ourselves to be led by the Holy Ghost, in promptly and generously follbwing His inspirations.(19) But even under cooperating grace all our salutary action is from God as from the First Cause, and it is all from us as from the second cause.

FIDELITY TO GRACE

Fidelity to grace is of the utmost importance, and especially so is increasing fidelity to the actual grace of the present moment, that we may correspond to the duty of that moment, which manifests the will of God in our regard. St. Augustine says: "God who created you without yourself, will not sanctify you without yourself." (20) Our consent is needed and likewise our obedience to the precepts. God's help is given us, he says again, not that our will should do nothing, but that it may act in a salutary and meritorious manner. Actual grace is constantly offered to us for the accomplishment of the duty of the present moment, just as air comes constantly into our lungs to permit us to breathe. As we must inhale in order to draw into our lungs the air which renews our blood, so we must will to receive with docility the grace which renews our spiritual energies in the journey toward God. A person who does not inhale will die of asphyxiation; he who does not receive grace with docility will eventually die of spiritual asphyxiation. This is why St. Paul says: "And we helping do exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain." (21) We must correspond with it and cooperate generously with it. Were this elementary truth put into practice daily, it would lead to sanctity.

Without a doubt, God takes the first step toward us by His prevenient grace, then He helps us to consent to it. He accompanies us in all our ways and difficulties, even to the moment of death. On our part, we should not forget that, instead of resisting His prevenient graces, we should be faithful to them. How can we do this? First of all, we can do so by joyfully welcoming the first illuminations of grace, then by following its inspirations with docility in spite of obstacles, and finally by putting these inspirations into practice no matter what the cost. Then we shall cooperate in the work of God, and our action will be the fruit of His grace and of our free will. It will be entirely from God as First Cause, and entirely from us as second cause.

The first grace of light, which efficaciously produces a good thought in us, is sufficient in relation to a voluntary good consent, in this sense, that it gives us, not this act, but the power to produce it. However, if we resist this good thought, we deprive ourselves of the actual grace which would have efficaciously led us to a good consent. Resistance falls on sufficient grace like hail on a tree in bloom which promised much fruit; the flowers are destroyed and the fruit will not form. Efficacious grace is offered us in sufficient grace, as the fruit is in the flower; moreover, the flower must not be destroyed if the fruit is to be given to us. If we do not resist sufficient grace, actual efficacious grace is given us, and by it we advance surely in the way of salvation. Sufficient grace thus leaves us without excuse before God, and efficacious grace does not allow us to glory in ourselves; with it we advance humbly and generously.(22)

We should not resist the divine prevenient graces of Him who has given us sanctifying grace, the infused virtues, the gifts, and who daily draws us to Himself. We should not be content with living a mediocre life and with producing only imperfect fruits, since our Savior came that we "may have life, and may have it more abundantly," (23) and that from within us "shall flow rivers of living water," (24) that we may eternally enjoy His beatitude. God is magnanimous; let us, too, be so.

This fidelity is required, first of all, that we may preserve the life of grace by avoiding mortal sin. The life of grace is incomparably more precious than that of the body, than the power to perform miracles; it is of such worth that our Savior delivered Himself up to death in order to restore it to us. If were given to us to contemplate unveiled the amazing splendor of sanctifying grace, we should be ravished. Moreover, fidelity is required to merit and obtain the increase of the life of grace, which ought to grow until our entrance into heaven, since we are travelers on the road to eternity and since we advance toward our goal by growing in the love of God. Thence comes the necessity of sanctifying each and every one of our acts, even the most ordinary, by accomplishing them with purity of intention, for a supernatural motive, and in union with our Lord. If we were thus faithful from morning until evening, each of our days would contain hundreds of meritorious acts, hundreds of acts of love of God and of neighbor, made on every pleasant or painful occasion, and when evening came, our union with God would be more intimate and much stronger. It has often been said that to sanctify ourselves there is no more practical and more efficacious means that is more within the reach of all, than thus to supernaturalize each of our acts by offering them in union with our Lord, to God for His glory and the good of souls.(25)

Footnotes
   
 1. Acts 17:27f.
2.  Cf. The Council of Orange (Denzinger, Enchiridion, nos. 176-200) and also St. Thomas, Ia IIae, q.109.

3. John 15:5.

4. See II Cor. 3:5.

5. Phil. 3:13.

6. Denzinger, nos. 182-200 and 141.

7. Matt. 7:7 f.

8. Ibid., 26:41.

9. Summa, IIa IIae, q.83, a.2, c. and ad 3um.

10. Session VI, chap. II (Denzinger,804)

11. Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part IV, chap. I, no. 3.

12 John 4: 10.

13 Gal. 2:20.

14. Sometimes a very elevated luminous grace gives the impression of obscurity: the obscurity is transluminous, like the excessively strong light of the sun which dazzles the weak eyes of an owl.

15. Many of these graces are not felt at all when received; they are of an entirely spiritual and supernatural order and consequently surpass our natural means of knowledge. Some of them are felt by reason of the repercussion they have on our sensibility, for example, under the form of sensible consolations. Of others, which do not have this repercussion, we may, nevertheless, be conscious, in the sense that God, especially by the gift of wisdom, makes Himself spiritually felt by us as the principle of the filial love for Him which He inspires in us. Cf. St. Thomas, In Ep. ad Rom., 8: 16.

16. See Ia, q.105, a.4; Ia IIae, q.9, a.6; q.10, a.4; q.109, a.2,3,4,10.

17. See Ia IIae, q. III, a.2. Under cooperating grace, the will moves itself deliberately in virtue of an anterior act. It is thus that, already willing the end, it is led to the choice of means; whereas under operating grace it is moved not by virtue of an anterior act, but of a special inspiration.

18. Here there is certainly deliberation. It is not, however, by virtue of deliberation and of an anterior act that the sinner, at the moment of his conversion, is moved efficaciously to will the supernatural last end, for every anterior act is inferior to this efficacious will, and can only dispose to it. Consequently a special operating grace is necessary here. This grace is not required when, already efficaciously willing the end, we are led of ourselves to will the means. Then, only cooperating grace is required.

19. We treated this subject at greater length in Christian Perfection and Contemplation, pp. 285-310; "The special inspiration of the Holy Ghost and common actual grace." According to a number of texts from St. Thomas, and following several great Thomists, in particular Father del Prado, we showed in that article that God moves the will, either before deliberation (when He leads it to will beatitude in general, or also the supernatural last end), or after deliberation, or with it (when He moves it to determine by discursive deliberation to will the means in view of the previously willed end), or above deliberation (by special inspiration, in particular by that to which the gifts of the Holy Ghost render us docile).

St. Thomas enumerates these three modes of motion in various passages: Ia IIae, q.9, a.6 ad 3 um; q.68, a.2 f.; q.109, a.1, 2, 6, 9; q.III, a.2; De veritate, q.24,a.15.

It suffices here to quote the classic text of Ia IIae, q. III, a. 2, on the distinction between operating and cooperating grace: "The operation of an effect is not attributed to the thing moved but to the mover. Hence in that effect in which our mind is moved and does not move, but in which God is the sole mover, the operation is attributed to God, and it is with reference to this that we speak of operating grace. But in that effect in which our mind both moves and is moved (virtute prioris actus), the operation is attributed not only to God, but also to the soul; and it is with reference 'to this that we peak of cooperating grace." The operating grace may, however, present itself under several forms: (1) it may be only exciting, leading to a salutary good thought, which, as a matter of fact, remains sterile; (2) it may lead even to a salutary act of faith or hope, without there being the influence of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, as happens in the believer in the state of mortal sinl; (3) it may lead even to a salutary and meritorious act of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. In this last case particularly, there is a special inspiration, not
only before deliberation but above it. We can either be moved, or we can move ourselves to an act of faith (although it may be simple and not discursive), whereas we cannot of ourselves move ourselves to an act of the gifts.

20. Sermon 15, chap. I.

21. See II Cor. 6: I.

22. Herein lies the great mystery of grace; its two aspects, which are to be harmonized, may be expressed in the following manner: this mystery contains a striking light and shade: the light is expressed in two principles; the shade is their intimate harmonization. On the one hand, God never commands the impossible (that would be neither just nor merciful); but out of love, He makes the duties to be performed really possible for all. No adult is deprived of the grace necessary for salvation unless he refuses it by resisting the divine call, as did the bad thief dying beside the Savior. On the other hand, "since the love of God for us is the cause of all good, no one would be better than another if he were not more greatly loved by God," as St. Thomas says (Ia, q.20, a.3). In this sense, Christ said: "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5); and in speaking of the elect, He added: "No one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father" (John 10:29). St. Paul also asks: "For who distinguisheth thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received?" (I Cor. 4:7.) What more profound lesson in humility could be taught?

As a council of the Middle Ages states: "If some are saved, it is by the gift of the Savior; if others are lost, it is through their own fault." (Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 318.) Resistance to grace is an evil which can come only from us; non-resistance is a good which springs from the Source of all good. These formulas reconcile the two aspects of the mystery, and the principles that we have just recalled are incontestable. Each of these two principles ta en separately is absolutely certain. That salvation is possible to all is a principle as certain as that "no one would be better than another if he were not more loved by God." "What have we that we have not received?" But how can these two incontestable principles be intimately reconciled? No created intellect can see this harmony before receiving the beatific vision. In fact, were we to see it, we would see how infinite mercy, infinite justice, an.d sovereign liberty harmonize in the eminence of the Deity. We explained this problem in its relations to the spiritual life at greater length in Christian Perfection and Contemplation, pp. 80-113; Providence (English translation), pp. 334-40; Predestination (English translation), pp. 221 ff., 335 ff.

23. John 10: 10.

24. Ibid., 7:38.

25. Some have thought that the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost diminishes the liberty of our act and that the act immediately caused by it, is not meritorious. This special inspiration no more diminishes our liberty than the absolute impeccability of Christ diminished His perfect liberty of obedience to the precepts of His Father. He could not disobey; He obeyed infallibly, but freely, the precept to die, for He preserved the indifference of judgment and of choice in the face of the painful death of the cross, which did not invincibly attract His will, as did the immediate vision of the divine goodness. We have explained this at length elsewhere (Le Sauveur, pp. 204-18).


Ch 4: The Blessed Trinity Present in Us, Uncreated Source of our Interior Life
 
 
Since we have treated of the life of grace, of the spiritual organism of the infused virtues and the gifts, we may fittingly consider the uncreated Source of our interior life, that is, the Blessed Trinity present in all just souls on earth, in purgatory, and in heaven. We shall see, first of all, what divine revelation, contained in Scripture, tells us about this consoling mystery. We shall then briefly consider the testimony of tradition, and finally we shall see the exact ideas offered by theology, particularly by St. Thomas Aquinas,(1) and the spiritual consequences of this doctrine.
THE TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURE

Scripture teaches us that God is present in every creature by a general presence, often called the presence of immensity. We read in particular in Ps. 138:7: "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy face? If I ascend into heaven, Thou art there; if I descend into hell, Thou art present." This is what made St. Paul say, when preaching to the Athenians: "God, who made the world, . . . being Lord of heaven and earth, . . . though He be not far from everyone of us: for in Him we live and move and are." (2) God, in fact, sees all, preserves all things in existence, and inclines every creature to the action which is suitable for him. He is like the radiant source from which the life of creation springs, and also the central force that draws everything to itself: "O God, sustaining force of creation, remaining in Thyself, unmoved."

Holy Scripture does not, however, speak only of this general presence of God in all things; it also speaks of a special presence of God in the just. We read, in fact, even in the Old Testament: "Wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins." (3) Would only created grace or the created gift of wisdom dwell in the just soul? Christ's words bring us a new light and show us that it is the divine persons Themselves who come and dwell in us: "If anyone love Me," He says, "he will keep My word. And My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him." (4) These words should be noted: "We will come." Who will come? Would it be only created effects: sanctifying grace, the infused virtues, the gifts? No indeed; Those who come are Those who love: the divine persons, the Father and the Son, from whom the Holy Ghost is never separated, that Spirit of Love promised, moreover, by our Lord and visibly sent on Pentecost. "We will come to him," to the just soul who loves God, and "We will come" not only in a transitory, passing manner, but "We will make our abode with him," that is to say, We will dwell in him as long as he remains just, or in the state of grace, as long as he preserves charity. Such were our Lord's own words.

These words are confirmed by those that promise the Holy Ghost: "I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide "with you forever, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not, nor knoweth Him. But you shall know Him; because He shall abide with you and shall be in you. . . . He will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you." (5) These words were not only addressed to the apostles; they were verified in them on Pentecost, which is renewed for us by confirmation. This testimony of our Savior is clear, and it states exactly and in an admirable manner what we read in the Book of Wisdom (I: 4). It is indeed the three divine persons who come and dwell in the souls of the just. Thus the apostles understood it. St. John writes: "God is charity: and he that abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him." (6) He possesses God in his heart; but still more God possesses him and holds him, preserving not only his natural existence, but the life of grace and charity in him. St. Paul speaks in like manner: "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost who is given to us." (7) We have received not only created charity, but the Holy Ghost Himself who has been given to us. St. Paul speaks of Him especially, because charity likens us more to the Holy Ghost, who is personal love, than to the Father and to the Son. They are also in us, according to the testimony of Christ, but we will be made perfectly like Them only when we receive the light of glory, which will imprint in us the resemblance to the Word, who is the splendor of the Father. On several different occasions St. Paul refers to this consoling doctrine: "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (8) "Or know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body." (9) Scripture thus teaches explicitly that the three divine persons dwell in every just soul, in every soul in the state of grace.

THE TESTIMONY OF TRADITION

Tradition, moreover, shows by the voice of the first martyrs, by that of the fathers, by the official teaching of the Church, that the words of Scripture must be understood in this way.(10)

At the beginning of the second century, St. Ignatius of Antioch declares in his letters that true Christians bear God in themselves; he calls them "theophoroi" or God-bearers. This doctrine was widespread in the primitive Church: the martyrs proclaimed it before their judges. St. Lucy of Syracuse answered Paschasius:

"Words cannot fail those who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them."
"Is the Holy Ghost in you?"
"Yes, all those who lead a chaste and pious life are the temples of the Holy Ghost."

Among the Greek fathers, St. Athanasius says that the three divine persons are in us.(11) St. Basil declares that the Holy Ghost, by His presence, makes us more and more spiritual and like to the image of the only Son.(12) St. Cyril of Alexandria also speaks of this intimate union between the just soul and the Holy Ghost.(13) Among the Latin fathers, St. Ambrose teaches that we receive Him in baptism and even more in confirmation.(14) St. Augustine shows that, according to the testimony of the early fathers, not only grace was given us, but God Himself, the Holy Ghost and His seven gifts. (15)

This revealed doctrine is finally brought home to us by the official teaching of the Church. In the Credo of St. Epiphanius, which adults were obliged to recite before receiving baptism, we read: "The Holy Spirit who. . . spoke in the apostles and dwells in the saints." (16) The Council of Trent declares also: "The efficient cause [of our justification] is the merciful God, who washes and sanctifies gratui­tously, signing and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance" (Eph. I: 13) .(17)

The official teaching of the Church on this point has been stated even more precisely in our times by Leo XIII in his encyclical on the Holy Ghost, Divinun illud munus (May 9, 1897), in which the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the souls of the just is thus described:

It is well to recall the explanation given by the Doctors of the Church of the words of Holy Scripture. They say that God is present and exists in all things "by His power in so far as all things are subject to His power; by His presence, inasmuch as all things are naked and open to His eyes; by His essence, inasmuch as He is present to all as the cause of their being" (St. Thomas, la, q. 8, a. 3). But God is in man, not only as in inanimate things, but because He is more fully known and loved by him, since even by nature we spontaneously love, desire, and seek after the good. Moreover, God by grace resides in the just soul as in a temple, in a most intimate and peculiar manner. From this proceeds that union of affection by which the soul adheres most closely to God, more so than the friend is united to his most loving and beloved friend, and enjoys God in all fullness and sweetness.

Now this wonderful union, which is properly called "indwelling," differing only in degree or state from that with which God beatifies the saints in heaven, although it is most certainly produced by the presence of the whole Blessed Trinity-"We will come to him and make Our abode with him" (John 14: 2 3)-nevertheless is attributed in a peculiar manner to the Holy Ghost. For, whilst traces of divine power and wisdom appear even in the wicked man, charity, which, as it were, is the special mark of the Holy Ghost, is shared in only by the just. . . . Wherefore the Apostle, when calling us the temple of God, does not expressly mention the Father, or the Son, but the Holy Ghost: "Know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God?" (I Cor. 6: 19')

The fullness of divine gifts is in many ways a consequence of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the souls of the just. . . . Among these gifts are those secret warnings and invitations which from time to time are excited in our minds and hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Without these there is no beginning of a good life, no progress, no arriving at eternal salvation.

Such is, in substance, the testimony of tradition expressed by the teaching authority of the Church under its different forms. We shall now see what theology adds in order to give us, in addition, a cer­tain understanding of this revealed mystery. We shall follow the teaching of St. Thomas on this subject.

THE THEOLOGICAL EXPLANATION OF THIS MYSTERY

Different explanations of this mystery have been proposed.(18) Among these different points of view, that of St. Thomas, preserved by Leo XIII in his encyclical on the Holy Ghost, seems the truest.

For God is in all things by His essence, power, and presence, according to His one common mode, as the cause existing in the effects which participate In His goodness. Above and beyond this common mode, however, there is one special mode belonging to the rational nature wherein God is said to be present as the object known is in the knower, and the beloved in the lover. And since the rational creature by its own operation of (supernatural) knowledge and love attains to God Himself, according to this special mode, God is said not only to exist in the rational creature, but also to dwell therein as in His own temple. So no other effect can be put down as the reason why the divine Person is in the rational creature in a new mode, except sanctifying grace. . . . Again, we are said to possess only what we can freely use or enjoy: but to have the power of enjoying the divine Person can only be according to sanctifying grace.(20)

Without sanctifying grace and charity, God does not, in fact, dwell in us. It is not sufficient to know Him by a natural philosophical knowledge, or even by the supernatural knowledge of imperfect faith united to hope, as the believer in the state of mortal sin knows Him. (God is, so to speak, distant from a believer who is turned away from Him.) We must be able to know Him by living faith and the gifts of the Holy Ghost connected with charity. This last knowledge, being quasi-experimental, attains God not as a distant and simply represented reality, but as a present, possessed reality which we can enjoy even now. This is evidently what St. Thomas means in the text quoted.(21) It is a question, he says, of a knowledge which attains God Himself, and permits us to possess Him and to enjoy Him. That the divine persons may dwell in us, we must be able to know Them in a quasi-experimental and loving manner, based on infused charity, which gives us a connaturality or sympathy with the intimate life of God.(22) That the Blessed Trinity may dwell in us, this quasi-experimental knowledge need not, however, be actual; it suffices that we be able to have it by the grace of the virtues and gifts. Thus the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity endures in the just man even during sleep and as long as he remains in the state of grace.(23) From time to time, however, God may make Himself felt by us as the soul of our soul, the life of our life. This is what St. Paul declares in his epistle to the Romans (8: 15 f.): "You have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father). For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God." In his commentary on this epistle, St. Thomas says: "The Holy Spirit gives this testimony to our spirit by the effect of filial love which He produces in us." (24) For this
reason the disciples of Emmaus exclaimed after Jesus disappeared: "Was not our heart burning within us, whilst He spoke in the way and opened to us the Scriptures?" (25)

In giving the explanation we have just quoted, St. Thomas simply shows us the profound meaning of the words of Christ that we cited previously: "If anyone love Me, he will keep My word. And My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him." (26) "The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you." (27) According to this teaching, the Blessed Trinity dwells, in a sense, more perfectly in the just soul than the body of the Savior does in a consecrated host. Christ is, indeed, really and substantially present under the Eucharistic species, but these species of bread do not know and do not love. The Blessed Trinity dwells in the just soul as in a living temple which knows and loves in varying degrees. It dwells in the souls of the blessed who contemplate It unveiled, especially in the most holy soul of the Savior, to which the Word is personally united. And even here on earth, in the penumbra of faith, the Blessed Trinity, without our seeing It, dwells in us in order to vivify us more and more, up to the moment of our entrance into glory where It will appear to us.

This intimate presence of the Blessed Trinity in us does not
dispense us, certainly, from approaching the Eucharistic table or from praying in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, for the Blessed Trinity dwells far more intimately in the holy soul of the Savior, personally united to the Word, than in us. If we draw profit from approaching a saint who is entirely possessed by God, like a holy Cure of Ars, how much more will we profit from approaching our Savior? We can say to Him: "Come, even with Thy cross, and take more complete possession of us. Grant that the prayer, 'Thou in us and we in Thee' may be more fully realized." Let us also think of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the soul of the Blessed Virgin both here on earth and in heaven.

Footnotes
   
 1. This subject has been well treated by Father Froget, O.P., in De l'habitation du Saint-Esprit dans les ames justes (3rd ed. Paris: Lethielleux, 1900). More recently, the subject was treated by Father Gardeil, O.P., La structure de l'ame et l'experience mystique (Paris: Gabalda, 1927), II, 6-60. We have also dealt at length with this subject in L'amour de Dieu et la croix de Jesus, I, 163-206; II, 657-86.
2. Acts 17:24,27 f.

3. Wisd. 1:4.

4. John 14:13.

5. John 14: 16 f., 16.

6. See I John 4: 16.

7. Rom. 5:5.

8. See I Cor. 3:16.

9. Ibid., 6: 19 f.

10. In the present case, we see clearly the importance of essentially divine tradition, which transmits to us through the legitimate shepherds of the Church, an orally revealed doctrine, whether it was later established in Scripture or not. All the organs of divine tradition may be invoked in the present case: the solemn teaching authority of the Church, and also its ordinary teachmg authority expressed by the morally unanimous preaching of the bishops, by the consent of the fathers and of theologians, and by the Christian
sense of the faithful.

11. Ep.1 ad Serap., 31; PO, XXVI, 601.

12. De Spiritu Sancto, chap. 9, nos. 21 fl.; chap. 18, no. 47.

13. Dialog., VII, PG, LXXV, 1085.

14. De Spiritu Sancto, I, chaps. 5-6.

15. De fide et symbolo, chap. 9, and De Trinitate, XV, chap. 27.

16. Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 13.

17. Council of Trent, Sess. VI, chap. 7; Denzinger, no. 799.

18. We set forth these explanations elsewhere (L'amour de Dieu et la croix de Jesus, 1, 167-205), and we compared that of the Angelic Doctor, as understood by John of St. Thomas, and in more recent years by Father Gardeil, O.P., with those of Vasquez and Suarez. It will be sufficient here to review these opinions briefly.

Vasquez reduces every real presence of God in us to the general presence of immensity, according to which God is present in all things which He preserves in existence. As an object known and loved, God is not really present in the just soul; He is, as it were, only represented there in the manner of an absent but very much loved person.

Suarez, on the contrary, maintains that, even if God were not already present in the just by the general presence of immensity, He would become really and substantially present in them by reason of the charity which unites them to Him. This opinion runs counter to the following strong objection: Although we love the humanity of the Savior and the Blessed Virgin by charity, it does not follow that they are really present in us, that they dwell in our souls. Of itself, charity constitutes an affective union and makes us desire real union; but how could it constitute this union?

John of St. Thomas (In lam, q.43, a.3, disp. XVII, nos. 8-10) and Father Gardeil (op. cit., II, 7-60) have shown that the thought of St. Thomas towers above the mutually contradictory conceptions of Vasquez and of Suarez. According to the Angelic Doctor, contrary to what Suarez says, the special presence of the Blessed Trinity in the just man presupposes the general pres­ence of immensity; but (and this is what Vasquez did not see) by sanctifying grace God is rendered really present in a new manner as an experimentally knowable object which the just soul can enjoy. He is not there only as a very much loved person who is absent, but He is really there, and at times He makes Himself felt by us. If, by an impossibility, God were not already in the just as the preserving cause of his natural being, He would, as a result, become specially present in him as the producing and preserving cause of grace and charity, and as a quasi-experimentally knowable object, and, from time to time, as an object known and loved.

19. The systems, which do not attain to a superior synthesis, are generally true in what they affirm, and false in what they deny. What is true in each one of them is found again in the superior synthesis when the mind has discovered the eminent principle which permits the harmonization of the different aspects of the problem. In the present case, Vasquez seems to be wrong in denying that the special presence is that of an experimentally knowable object really present; and Suarez seems, indeed, to err in denying that this special presence presupposes the general presence of immensity by which God preserves all things in existence.

20. See Ia, q.43, a.3.

21. Ibid., a. I, c. and ad I um, 2 um.

22. St. Thomas had already stated this in his Commentary on the Sentences, I dist., 14, q.2, a.2 ad 3um. "Non qualiscumque cognitio sufficit ad rationem mlsslonis, sed solum ilia quae accipitur ex aliquo dono appropriato personae, per quod efficitur in nobis conjunctio ad Deum, secundum modum proprium illius personae, scilicet per amorem, quando Spiritus Sanctus datur, unde cognitio ista est quasi-experimentalis" (ibid., ad 1um). This quasi-experimental knowledge of God, based on charity, which gives us a connaturality with divine things, proceeds especially from the gift of wisdom, as St. Thomas
says (IIa IIae, q.45, a.2).

23. Thus our soul is always present to itself, as an experimentally knowable object, without always being actually known: for example, in deep sleep.

24. See Ia IIae, q. 112, a.5: "Whoever receives it (grace) knows, by experiencing a certain sweetness, which is not experienced by one who does not receive it." It is a sign permitting us to conjecture and to have a moral certitude that we are in the state of grace.

25. Luke 24:32

26. John 14:23.

27. Ibid., 26.


Ch 4: The Blessed Trinity Present in Us, Uncreated Source of our Interior Life (cont)
 
 
SPIRITUAL CONSEQUENCES OF THIS DOCTRINE
A consequence of primary importance springs from these considerations. If the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in us cannot be conceived unless the just man can have a "quasi-experimental knowledge" of God present in him, what follows? That this knowledge, far from being something essentially extraordinary, like visions, revelations, or the stigmata, is in the normal way of sanctity.28 This quasi-experimental knowledge of God present in us springs from faith illumined by the gifts of wisdom and understanding, which are connected with charity; whence it follows that this knowledge ought normally to grow with the progress of charity, either under a clearly contemplative form, or under a form more directly oriented toward action. Farther on, we shall also declare that infused contemplation, in which this quasi-experience develops, begins, according to St. John of the Cross, with the illuminative way and
develops in the unitive way.(29) This quasi-experimental knowledge of God, of His goodness, will grow with the knowledge of our nothingness and wretchedness, according to the divine words spoken to St. Catherine of Siena: "I am who am; thou art she who is not."

It also follows that, when our charity increases notably, the divine persons are sent anew, says St. Thomas,(30) for They become more intimately present in us according to a new mode or degree of intimacy. This is true, for example, at the time of the second conversion, which marks the entrance into the illuminative way.

Finally, They are in us not only as an object of supernatural knowledge and love, but as principles of supernatural operations. Christ Himself said: "My Father worketh until now; and I work," especially in the intimacy of the heart, in the center of the soul.

We should, moreover, remember in a practical way that ordinarily God communicates Himself to His creature only in the measure of the creature's dispositions. When these become more pure, the divine persons also become more intimately present and active. Then God belongs to us and we to Him, and we desire above all to make progress in His love. "This doctrine of the invisible missions of the divine persons in us is one of the most powerful motives for spiritual advancement," says Father Chardon, "because it keeps the soul ever on the alert in regard to its progress, awake to produce incessantly ever stronger and more fervent acts of all the virtues, that, growing in grace, this new growth may bring God anew to it . . . for a union. . . which is characterized by greater intimacy, purity, and vigor." (31)

OUR DUTIES TOWARD THE DIVINE GUEST

In Proverbs we read: "My son, give Me thy heart." (32) And in the Apocalypse we are told: "Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear My voice and open to Me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." (33) The soul of a just man is like a heaven that is still obscure, since the Blessed Trinity is in him, and some day he will see It there unveiled.

Our duties toward the interior Guest may be summed up in the following suggestions: that we think often of Him and tell ourselves that God lives in us; that we consecrate our day, our hour, to the divine persons by saying, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost"; that we remember that the interior Guest is for us the source of light, consolation, and strength; that we pray to Him as Christ suggests: "Pray to thy Father in secret (in thy soul): and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee"; (34) that we adore the interior Guest saying: "My soul doth magnify the Lord"; that we believe in Him; that we trust absolutely in Him, and love Him with an increasingly pure, generous, and strong love; that we love Him by imitating Him, especially by goodness, according to the words of our Savior: "Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect"; (35) "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, in Me, and I in Thee; that they also may be one in Us." (36)

As we shall see more clearly in the following pages, all this leads us to think that far from being essentially extraordinary, the mystical life alone, which is characterized by the reality of the quasi-experimental knowledge of God present in us, is completely normal. Only the saints, all of whom live this sort of life, are fully in order. Before experiencing this intimate union with God present in us, we are somewhat like souls still half-asleep, souls not yet spiritually awakened. Our knowledge of the consoling mystery of the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity is still too superficial and bookish, and yet overflowing life is offered to us.

Before entering into the intimacy of union with God, our adoration and love of Him are not what they ought to be, and frequently we consider the "one thing necessary" as if it were not the most important thing for us. Likewise we have not yet become profoundly cognizant of the gift that has been given us in the Eucharist, and we have only a superficial knowledge of the nature of the mystical body of Christ.

The Holy Ghost is the soul of the mystical body, of which Christ is the head. As in our body the soul is entirely in the whole body and entirely in each part, and exercises its superior functions in the head, so the Holy Ghost is entirely in all the mystical body, entirely in each just soul, and exercises His highest functions in the holy soul of the Savior, and through it on us. The vital principle which thus constitutes the unity of the mystical body is singularly more unitive than the soul which unifies our body, than the spirit of a family or of a nation. The spirit of a family is a certain manner of seeing, judging, feeling, loving, willing, and acting. The spirit of the mystical body is infinitely more unifying; it is the Holy Ghost the Sanctifier, source of all graces, source of living water springing up into eternal life. The stream of grace, which comes from the Holy Ghost, unceasingly reascends toward God under the form of adoration, prayer, merit, and sacrifice; it is the elevation toward God, the prelude of the life of heaven. Such are the supernatural realities of which we should become increasingly more conscious. Only in the mystical life does the soul truly awaken completely, and have that lively, profound, radiating consciousness of the gift of God that is necessary if the soul is to correspond fully with the love of God for us.
 
Footnotes
   
 28. Father Gardeil, O.P., holds the same opinion as we do on this subject. He says.(op. cit., II,89): "In this fourth part, we will devote our best effort to showing that the mystical experience is the final flowering of the life of the Christian in the state of grace"; and (p. 368): "Mystical knowledge, supreme but normal flowering of the state ofgrace."
29. St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night of the Soul, Bk. I, chap. 14: "The way of . . . proficients, which is also called the illuminative way, or the way of infused contemplation, wherein God Himself teaches and refreshes the soul."

30. See Ia, q.43, a.6 ad 2um.

31. La croix de jesus, original edition, p. 457; 3rd conference, chap. 4

32. Provo 23:16.

33. Apoc. 3:20.

34. Matt. 6:6.

35. Ibid., 5:48.

36. John 17:21.


Ch 5: The Influence of Christ the Redeemer on His Mystical Body
 
 
The Blessed Trinity which dwells in every just soul is, as
we have seen, the uncreated source of our interior life. But our sanctification depends also on the constant influence of Christ the Redeemer, who incessantly communicates to us, through the sacraments and outside of them, the graces He merited for us during His earthly life, and especially during His passion. Therefore it is fitting that we speak here of this sanctifying influence in general, and that we consider how it is exercised in particular by the greatest of all sacraments, the Eucharist.(1)

HOW THE SAVIOR COMMUNICATES TO US THE GRACES WHICH HE FORMERLY MERITED FOR US

As the living instrument ever united to the divinity, source of all grace, Christ communicates to us the graces which he formerly merited for us. St. John says: "Of His fullness we all have received." (2)

Christ Himself tells this to us in a most expressive, symbolical manner: "I am the true vine; you the branches. . . . As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. . . . He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. . . . If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you." (3) Elsewhere Jesus likewise says: "Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you." (4) By this He means that, if we ask especially for a living, more intimate, and pro­found knowledge of Him (which is given by the Holy Ghost) and for a purer and stronger love of Him, we shall be heard. Who would dare to say that Christ is not speaking here of the prayer by which His members ask for the infused contemplation of the mysteries of salvation? "In this," He adds, "is My Father glorified; that you bring forth very much fruit, and become My disciples."

This beautiful figure of the vine and the branches is most expressive. St. Paul reverts to it under the form of the olive tree in which we are ingrafted.(5) He also gives another that is no less striking. Christ, he says, is like the head which communicates to the members the vital influx, which has its principle in the soul. The Church is the mystical body of Christ; Christians are the members of this body. He often repeats this statement: "Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member." (6) "But doing the truth in charity, we may in all things grow up in Him who is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body, being compacted and fitly joined together by what every joint supplieth . . . maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in charity." (7) "And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body." (8)

According to this doctrine, the Savior communicates to us the vital influx of grace (of which the source is God Himself considered in His divine nature), as the head communicates to the members the vital influx, the principle of which is in the soul. Clearly to understand this teaching, we must distinguish between the divinity and the humanity of Christ. Jesus, as the Word, dwells, as do the Father and the Holy Ghost, in the center, in the depths of our soul. He is closer to it than it is to itself; He preserves its natural and its supernatural life. By operating grace, He moves it to the deepest, most  secret acts which it could not produce by itself.(9) The humanity of our Savior, says St. Thomas,(10) is the instrument ever united to the divinity through which all graces are communicated to us. Just as in the sacraments, the water of baptism, for example, and the sacramental formula are the physical, instrumental cause of sacramental grace, in the sense that God, by making use of this water and this
formula, communicates to them a transitory divine power to produce this grace, so also the humanity of the Savior and especially the acts of His holy soul are the physical, instrumental cause of all the graces we receive, either through the sacraments or outside of them.(11)

The sacred humanity of the Savior does not dwell in our soul. His body could not be in our soul; it is only in heaven (as in its natural place) and sacramentally in the Eucharist. But, although the humanity of Christ does not dwell in us, the just soul is continually under its influence, since by its intermediary every grace is communicated to us, just as in our body the head communicates the vital influx to the members. Since at every waking moment we have some duty to accomplish, Christ's humanity communicates to us from minute to minute the actual grace of the present moment, as the air we breathe continually enters our lungs. God, the Author of grace, makes use of Christ's humanity to communicate grace to us, as a great artist uses an instrument to transmit his musical thought to us, or as a great thinker uses his own style, his more or less rich language, to express himself. Thus the seven sacraments are like the strings of a lyre from which God alone can, by His divine touch, draw music. The Savior's humanity is a conscious, free, and superior instrument, ever united to the divinity in order to communicate to us all the graces that we receive and that Christ merited for us on the cross. Thus every illumination of the intellect, every grace of attraction, of consolation, or of strength, whether felt or not, actually come to us from the sacred humanity. For each of our salutary acts, it is a continual influence far more profound than that exercised over a child by the best of mothers when she teaches him to pray.

Outside the sacraments, this activity of the Savior transmits the lights of faith to unbelievers who do not resist it; to sinners, the grace of attrition, which invites them to approach the sacrament of penance. Especially through the Eucharist His influence is exercised, for the Eucharist is the most perfect of the sacraments, containing not only grace but the Author of grace; and it is a sacrifice of infinite value. This point must be insisted on here in speaking of the bases or the sources of the interior life.

THE SANCTIFYING INFLUENCE OF THE SAVIOR THROUGH THE EUCHARIST

The very terms that Christ used in the Gospel to describe this influence may be fittingly used here.

To draw greater spiritual profit from this influence and to thank the Lord for it, we may recall how, through love for our souls, Christ first promised the Eucharist; how He gave it to us at the Last Supper by instituting the priesthood; how He renews it every day in the Sacrifice of the Mass; how He wishes to remain among us by assuring the continuity of His real presence; and finally, how He gives Himself to us in daily Communion, continuing to do so until we last receive Him as holy viaticum. All these acts of divine generosity spring from one and the same love and are all ordained to our progressive sanctification. They deserve a special thanksgiving. Such is the true meaning of the devotion to the Eucharistic heart of Jesus. His heart is called "Eucharistic" because it gave us the Eucharist and still continues to do so. As people say that the air is healthful when it maintains or restores health, the heart of our Savior is called "Eucharistic" because it has given us the greatest of the sacraments, in which it is itself really and substantially present as the radiant source of ever new graces.

The words of the promise of the Eucharist, recorded by St. John (6:26-59), show us best of all what this vivifying influence of the Savior on us should be, and how we ought to receive it. First of all, Christ promised a heavenly bread. After the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, He said: "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. . . . My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world." (12) Then a number of those who had eaten their fill after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves exclaimed: "Lord, give us always this bread." Jesus answered them: "I am the bread of life. . . . You also have seen Me, and you believe not." (18) The Jews murmured, says St. John,(14) because He had said: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven." Jesus replied: "Murmur not among yourselves. . . . Amen, amen I say unto you: he that believeth in Me, hath everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, is My flesh, for the life of the world. . . . He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed: and My blood is drink indeed. . . . The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." (15) Many did not believe and withdrew. "Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered Him: Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." (16) This promise of the Eucharist makes us glimpse all that this sacrament ought to produce in us, whether beginners, proficients, or the perfect.

The institution of the Eucharist shows us the import of this promise. It is thus related in St. Matthew, and almost in the same terms in St. Mark, St. Luke, and the First Epistle to the Corinthians: "And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to His disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is My body. And taking the chalice, He gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is My blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins." (17) The words of the promise are illumined. Peter was rewarded for having said with faith: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." At the Last Supper, Christ's word was more efficacious than ever; it was a transubstantiating word by which He changed the substance of bread into that of His own body that He might remain sacramentally among us. At the same moment He instituted the priesthood to perpetuate sacramentally, by means of the Eucharist, the sacrifice of the cross until the end of time. Christ says, in fact, as St. Luke relates,(18) and as St. Paul states: "This do for the commemoration of Me." (19) The apostles then received the power to consecrate, to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice, which perpetuates in substance the sacrifice of the cross in order to apply its fruits, its merits, and its satisfactions to us until the end of the world. In the Mass, the principal priest is Christ, who continues to offer Himself sacramentally. As St. Paul says, He is "always living to make intercession for us." (20) He does this especially in the Holy Sacrifice. By reason of the principal priest and of the victim offered, of the precious blood sacramentally shed, this sacrifice has an infinite value. At the same time, Christ offers to His Father our adoration, our supplication, our reparation, our thanksgiving, all the salutary acts of His mystical body.

Christ's love did not give us the Eucharist only once, but gives it to us daily. He might have willed that Mass should be celebrated only once or twice a year in some great sanctuary to which people would come from afar. On the contrary, not only one Mass, but numbers of them are celebrated continually, at every minute of the day, over the surface of the earth. Thus He grants to His Church the graces it needs at the various moments of its history. In the catacombs, later during the great barbarian invasions, in the iron centuries of the Middle Ages, the Mass was the source of ever new graces; it is still so today that it may give us the strength to resist the great dangers threatening us.

Moreover, Christ daily returns really and substantially among us, not only for an hour during the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice, but to remain continually with us in the tabernacle, to be there "the companion of our exile, patiently waiting for us, eager to hear and grant our prayers" and unceasingly to offer there to His Father adoration of infinite value.

Finally, Communion is the consummation of the gift of self. Goodness is essentially diffusive, it attracts, it gives itself to vivify us and to enrich us spiritually. This is especially true of the radiating goodness of God and of His Christ. In Communion, the Savior draws us and gives Himself, not only to humanity in general, but to each one of us if we wish it, and in an ever more intimate manner if we are faithful. He gives Himself, not that we should assimilate Him, for this would reduce Him to our level; but that we may be made more like to Him. "The bread, which we break," says St. Paul. "is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?" (21) It is Life itself that we receive.

Communion ought to incorporate us more and more into Christ, by increasing our humility, faith, confidence, and especially our charity, in order to make our hearts like to that of the Savior who died out of love for us. In this sense, each of our Communions should be substantially more fervent than the preceding one, that is, as far as fervor of the will is concerned; for each Communion ought not only to preserve but to increase the love of God in us, and thus dispose us to receive our Lord on the following day with not only an equal but a greater fervor of will, although it may be otherwise as regards sensible fervor, which is accidental.(22) There should be, as it were, an accelerated progress toward God, which recalls the acceleration of bodies as they gravitate toward the center which attracts them. As a stone falls more rapidly as it approaches the earth which attracts it, souls should advance more rapidly toward God as they draw near Him and are more attracted by Him. We find this idea expressed in many forms in the liturgy, and especially in the Adoro Te of St. Thomas Aquinas:

Adoro te devote, latens Deitas

I adore Thee devoutly, 0 hidden Deity, who art truly hidden beneath these figures; my heart submits entirely to Thee, and faints in contemplating Thee.

Fac me tibi semper magis credere,
In te spem habere, te diligere.

Make me believe Thee ever more and more, hope in Thee, and love Thee.

0 memoriale mortis Domini,
Panis vivus, vitam praestans homini:
Praesta meae menti de te vivere,
Et te illi semper dulce sapere.

0 memorial of the death of the Lord! Living bread giving life to man, grant that my soul may live by Thee and ever taste Thee with delight!

Pie pellicane, Jesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo sanguine.

Merciful Pelican, Jesus Lord, unclean I am, cleanse me in Thy blood, of which a single drop suffices to cleanse the entire world of all its sin.

Jesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
Ora fiat illud, quod tam sitio:
Ut te revelata cernens facie,
Visu sim beatus tuae gloriae. Amen.

Jesus, whom I now behold beneath these veils, grant, I pray Thee, what so ardently I desire, that contemplating Thee face to face, the vision of Thy glory may make me blessed. Amen.

Should a soul thus live daily by the Savior in Mass and Communion, it would certainly arrive at great intimacy with Him, at the intimacy which is that of the mystical life. The gifts of the Holy Ghost would grow proportionately in it, and it would attain to an increasingly more penetrating and delightful contemplation of the great mystery of our altars, of the infinite value of the Mass, which is like an eminent spring of ever new graces to which all succeeding generations must come and drink, that they may have the strength to arrive at the end of their journey towards eternity. Thus the prophet Elias, overcome by fatigue, renewed his strength by eating the loaf that came down from heaven, and was able to wfllk even to Horeb, a figure of the summit of perfection.

Christ says to us in Communion, as He said to St. Augustine: "I am the bread of the strong. . . . Thou wilt not convert Me into thee, as the food of thy flesh; but thou shalt be converted into Me." (23) He who truly receives Christ in Holy Communion is more and more incorporated in Him, living by His thought and by His love. He can say with St. Paul: "To me to live is Christ and to die is gain," for death is the entrance into unending life.

PROGRESSIVE INCORPORATION IN CHRIST AND SANCTITY

The doctrine of progressive incorporation in Christ will manifest its marvelous fecundity to the soul that wishes to live by it.(24)

First of all, in order to die to sin and its consequences, we will recall what St. Paul says: "We are buried together with Him (Christ) by baptism into death. . . that the body of sin may be destroyed." (25) "And they that are Christ's have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences"; (26) this is the death to sin through baptism and penance. Then, in the light of faith and under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, the Christian should put on "the new (man), him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of Him that created him. . . . Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God," adds St. Paul, "holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience. . . . But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection." (27) This is the illuminative way of those who imitate Christ, who adopt His sentiments, the spirit of His mysteries, His passion,(28) His crucifixion,(29) His resurrection.(30) This is the way of the contemplation of the Savior's mysteries which all the saints have lived, even those of the active life, while recalling these words of the Apostle: "Furthermore, I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ." (31)

This road leads to continual union with the Savior, according to the sublime words of the Epistle to the Colossians (3: 1-3): "If you be is.en with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead (to the world); and your life is hid with Christ in God." Then the peace of the Savior reigns in the soul that delights in saying to Him: "Lord, give Thyself to me, and give me to Thyself." In the saints, this union is like an almost uninterrupted communion. A glance, a movement of the soul toward Christ, tell Him our desires, present to Him our weakness, our good will, our disposition to be faithful to Him, and the thirst we have for Him. Such is the way of the loving contemplation of the great mysteries of Christ; it has its aridities and its joys. Those who experience it, see in it the normal prelude of the vision of heaven.

Some delude themselves, pretending to reach union with God without having continual recourse to our Lord. They will scarcely attain any but an abstract knowledge of God. They will not reach that delightful, living, quasi-experimental knowledge, as well as an elevated and practical knowledge, called wisdom, which makes the soul see God and His providence in the most insignificant things. The quietists fell into this error, holding that the sacred humanity of our Savior is a means useful only at the beginning of the spiritual life.(32) St. Teresa reacted especially against this point, reminding us that we should not of our own accord leave aside in prayer the consideration of Christ's humanity; it is the road which gently leads souls to His divinity.(33) We ought often to think of the immense spiritual riches of the holy soul of Christ, of His intellect, of His will, of His sensibility. By so doing we will come to a better understanding of the meaning of His words: "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He is the way according to His humanity; as God, He is the very essence of truth and life.

Footnotes
   
 1. C . Emile Mersch, S.J., Le corps mystique du Christ. Etude de theologie historique, 1936; Morale et corps mystique, 1937. Ernest Mura, Le corps mystique du Christ, sa nature et sa vie divine d'apres saint Paul et la theologie, 2nd ed., 1936.
2. John 1:16. Cf. St. Thomas, IIIa, q.8: "Of the Grace of Christ, as He Is the Head of the Church" (in eight articles). Commentum in Joannem, 15: 1-7: "I am the vine; you the branches."

3. John 15: 1-7.

4. Matt. 6:33.

5. Rom. 11:17.

6. See I Cor. 12:27.

7. Eph. 4: 15 f.

8. Col. 3:15.

9. See Ia IIae, q.III, a.2.

10. See IIIa, q.43, a. 2; q.48, a.6.

11. The act of charity ever living in the heart of Christ can always be the physical, instrumental cause of the graces that we receive. It suffices, moreover, that the instrument convey the influx of the principal cause, as the transmitter passes on the human word.

12. John 6: 27, 32 f.

13. Ibid., 34-36.

14. Ibid., 41.

15. Ibid., 43, 47-52,55 f., 64.

16. Ibid., 68 f.

17. Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:25; Luke :15-20; I Cor. 11:23-25.

18. Luke 22: 19.

19. See I Cor. 11: 24 f.

20. Heb. 7:25.

21. See I Cor. 10: 16.

22. An excellent Communion may be made in great sensible aridity, just as the prayer of Christ in Gethsemane was excellent.

23. Confessions, Bk. VII, chap. 10.

24. On this point consult the works of Dom Marmion: Christ, the Life of the Soul; Christ in His Mysteries; Christ, the Ideal of the Monk.

25. Rom. 6:4, 6.

26. Gal. 5: 24.

27. CoI. 3:10,12,14.

28. Rom. 8:7.

29. Ibid., 6:5.

30. Col. 3:1.

31. Phil. 3:8.

32. Denzinger, Enchiridion, 1255.

33. St. Teresa, Tbe Interior Castle, second mansion, chap. I; sixth mansion, chap. 7; Life, chap. 22.


Ch 6: The Influence of Mary Mediatrix
 

When the bases of the interior life are considered, we cannot
discuss the action of Christ, the universal Mediator, on His mystical body without also speaking of the influence of Mary Mediatrix. As we remarked, many persons delude themselves, maintaining that they reach union with God without having continual recourse to our Lord, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Another error would consist in wishing to go to our Lord without going first to Mary, whom the Church calls in a special feast the Mediatrix of all graces. Protestants have fallen into this last error. Without going as far as this deviation, there are Catholics who do not see clearly enough the necessity of having recourse to Mary that they may attain to intimacy with the Savior. Blessed Grignion de Montfort speaks even of "doctors who know the Mother of God only in a speculative, dry, sterile, and indifferent manner; who fear that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is abused, and that injury is done to our Lord by honoring too greatly His holy Mother. If they speak of devotion to Mary, it is less to recommend it than to destroy the abuses that have grown up around it." (1) They seem to believe that Mary is a hindrance to reaching divine union. According to Blessed Grignion, we lack humility if we neglect the mediators whom God has given us because of our frailty. Intimacy with our Lord in prayer will be greatly facilitated by a true and profound devotion to Mary.
To get a clear idea of this devotion, we shall consider what must be understood by universal mediation, and also how Mary is the mediatrix of all graces, as is affirmed by tradition and by the Office and Mass of Mary Mediatrix which are celebrated on May 31. Much has been written on the subject in recent years. We shall here consider this doctrine in its relation to the interior life.(2)

THE MEANING OF UNIVERSAL MEDIATION

St. Thomas says: "Properly speaking, the office of a mediator is to join together those between whom he mediates: for extremes are united by an intermediary. Now to unite men to God perfectly belongs to Christ, through whom men are reconciled to God, ac­cording to II Cor. 5: 19: 'God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.' And, consequently, Christ alone is the perfect Mediator of God and men, inasmuch as, by His death, He reconciled the human race to God. Hence the Apostle, after saying, 'Mediator of God and man, the man Christ Jesus,' added: 'Who gave Himself a redemption for all'. However, nothing hinders certain others from being called mediators, in some respect, between God and man, forasmuch as they cooperate in uniting men to God, dispositive or ministerially."(3) In this sense, adds St. Thomas,(4) the prophets and priests of the Old Testament may be called mediators, and also the priests of the New Testament, as ministers of the true Mediator.

St. Thomas explains further how Christ as man is the Mediator: "Because, as man, He is distant both from God by nature, and from man by dignity of both grace and glory. Again, it belongs to Him, as man, to unite men to God, by communicating to men both precepts and gifts, and by offering satisfaction and prayers to God for men." (5) Christ satisfied and merited as man by a satisfaction and a merit which drew an infinite value from His divine personality. This mediation is twofold, both descending and ascending. It consists in giving to men the light and grace of God, and in offering to God, on behalf of men, the worship and reparation due to Him.

As has been said, there is nothing to prevent there being mediators below Christ, subordinated to Him as secondary mediators, such as were the prophets and priests of the Old Law for the chosen people. It may thus be asked whether Mary is the universal mediatrix for all men and for the distribution of all graces in general and in particular. St. Albert the Great speaks of the mediation of Mary as superior to that of the prophets when he says: "Mary was chosen by the Lord, not as a minister but to be associated in a very special and quite intimate manner in the work of the redemption of the human race: 'Faciamus ei adjutorium simile sibi.' " (6)

Is not Mary in her quality as Mother of God completely designated to be the universal mediatrix? Is she not truly the intermediary between God and men? She is, indeed, much below God and Christ because she is a creature, but much above all men by the grace of her divine maternity, "which makes her attain the very frontiers of the divinity," (7) and by the plenitude of grace received at the moment of her immaculate conception; a plentitude which did not cease to grow until her death. Not only was Mary thus designated by her divine maternity for this function of mediatrix, but she received it in truth and exercised it. This is shown by tradition,(8) which has given her the title of universal mediatrix in the proper sense of the word,(9) although in a manner subordinated to Christ. This title is consecrated by the special feast which is celebrated in the universal Church. To have a clear understanding of the meaning and import of this title, we shall consider how it is becoming to Mary for two principal reasons: because she cooperated by satisfaction and merit in the sacrifice of the cross; and because she does not cease to intercede for us, to obtain for us, and to distribute to us all the graces that we receive. Such is the double mediation, ascending and descending, which we ought to ponder in order daily to draw greater profit from it.

MARY MEDIATRIX BY HER COOPERATION IN THE SACRIFICE OF THE CROSS

During the entire course of her earthly life, the Blessed Virgin cooperated in the sacrifice of her Son. First of all, the free consent that she gave on Annunciation day was necessary for the accomplishment of the mystery of the Incarnation, as if, says St. Thomas, (10) God had waited for the consent of humanity through the voice of Mary. By this free fiat, she cooperated in the sacrifice of the cross, since she gave us its Priest and Victim. She cooperated in it also by offering her Son in the Temple, as a most pure host, at the moment when the aged Simeon saw by prophetic light that this Child was the "salvation. . . prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel" (11) More enlightened than Simeon, Mary offered her Son, and began to suffer deeply with Him when she heard the holy old man tell her that He would be a sign which would be contradicted and that a sword would pierce her soul.

Mary cooperated in the sacrifice of Christ, especially at the foot of the cross, uniting herself to Him, more closely than can be expressed, by satisfaction or reparation, and by merit. Some saints, in particular the stigmatics, have been exceptionally united to the sufferings and merits of our Savior: for example, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Siena, and yet their share in His suffering cannot be compared with Mary's. How did Mary offer her Son? As He offered Himself. By a miracle, Jesus could easily have prevented the blows of His executioners from causing His death; He offered Himself voluntarily. "No man," He says, "taketh it (My life) away from Me: but I lay it down of Myself. And I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again." (12) Jesus renounced His right to life; He offered Himself wholly for our salvation. Of Mary, St. John says: "There stood by the cross of Jesus, His mother," (13) surely very closely united to Him in His suffering and oblation. As Pope Benedict XV says: "She renounced her rights as a mother over her Son for the salvation of all men." (14) She accepted the martyrdom of Christ and offered it for us. In the measure of her love, she felt all the torments that He suffered in body and soul. More than anyone else, Mary endured the very suffering of the Savior; she suffered for sin in the degree of her love for God, whom sin offends; for her Son, whom sin crucified; for souls, which sin ravishes and kills. The Blessed Virgin's charity incomparably surpassed that of the greatest saints. She thus cooperated in the sacrifice of the cross by way of satisfaction or reparation, by offering to God for us, with great sorrow and most ardent love, the life of her most dear Son, whom she rightly adored and who was dearer to her than her very life.

In that instant, the Savior satisfied for us in strict justice by His human acts which drew from His divine personality an infinite value capable of making reparation for the offense of all mortal sins that ever had been or would be committed. His love pleased God more than all sins displease Him.(15) Herein lies the essence of the mystery of the redemption. In union with her Son on Calvary, Mary satisfied for us by a satisfaction based, not on strict justice, but on the rights of the infinite friendship or charity which united her to God.(16)

At the moment when her Son was about to die on the cross, apparently defeated and abandoned, she did not cease for a moment to believe that He was the Word made flesh, the Savior of the world, who would rise in three days as He had predicted. This was the greatest act of faith and hope ever made; after Christ's act of love, it was also the greatest act of love. It made Mary the queen of martyrs,

for she was a martyr, not only for Christ but with Christ; so much so, that a single cross sufficed for her Son and for her. She was, in a sense, nailed to it by her love for Him. She was thus the coredemptrix, as Pope Benedict XV says, in this sense, that with Christ, through Him, and in Him, she bought back the human race. (17)

For the same reason, all that Christ merited for us on the cross in strict justice, Mary merited for us by congruous merit, based on the charity that united her to God. Christ alone, as head of the human race, could strictly merit to transmit divine life to us. But Pius X sanctioned the teaching of theologians when he wrote: "Mary, united to Christ in the work of salvation, merited de congruo for us what Christ merited for us de condigno." (18)

This common teaching of theologians, thus sanctioned by the sovereign pontiffs, has for its principal traditional basis the fact that Mary is called in all Greek and Latin tradition the new Eve, Mother of all men in regard to the life of the soul, as Eve was in regard to the life of the body. It stands to reason that the spiritual mother of all men ought to give them spiritual life, not as the principal physical cause (for God alone can be the principal physical cause of divine grace), but as the moral cause by merit de congruo, merit de condigno being reserved to Christ.

The Office and Mass proper to Mary Mediatrix assemble the principal testimonies of tradition on this point with their scriptural foundations, in particular the clearcut statements of St. Ephrem, the glory of the Syriac Church, of St. Germanus of Constantinople, of St. Bernard, and of St. Bernardine of Siena. Even as early as the second and third centuries, St. Justin, St. Irenaeus, and Tertullian insisted on the parallel between Eve and Mary, and showed that if the first concurred in our fall, the second collaborated in our redemption.(19)

This teaching of tradition itself rests in part on the words of Christ, related in the Gospel of the Mass for the feast of Mary Mediatrix. The Savior was about to die and, seeing "His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, He saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own." (20) The literal meaning of these words, "Behold thy son," points to St. John, but for God, events and persons signify others; (21) here St. John represents spiritually all men purchased by the sacrifice of the cross. God and His Christ speak not only by the words They use, but by the events and persons whose masters They are, and by whom They signify what They wish according to the plan of Providence. The dying Christ, addressing Mary and John, saw in John the personification of all men, for whom He was shedding His blood. As this word, so to speak, created in Mary a most profound maternal affection, which did not cease to envelop the soul of the beloved disciple, this supernatural affection extended to all of us and made Mary truly the spiritual mother of all men. In the eighth century we find Abbot Rupert expressing this same idea, and after him St. Bernardine of Siena, Bossuet, Blessed Grignion de Montfort, and many others. It is the logical result of what tradition tells us about the new Eve, the spiritual mother of all men.

Finally, if we studied theologically all that is required for merit de congruo, based not on justice, but on charity or supernatural friendship which unites us to God, we could not find it better realized than in Mary. Since, in fact, a good Christian mother by her virtue thus merits graces for her children,(22) with how much greater reason can Mary, who is incomparably more closely united to God by the plenitude of her charity, merit de congruo for all men.

Such is the ascending mediation of Mary in so far as she offered the sacrifice of the cross with Christ for us, making reparation and meriting for us. We shall now consider the descending mediation, by which she distributes the gifts of God to us.

MARY OBTAINS AND DISTRIBUTES ALL GRACES

That Mary obtains for us and distributes to us all graces is a certain doctrine, according to what we have just said about the mother of all men. As mother, she is interested in their salvation, prays for them, and obtains for them the graces they receive. In the Ave Maris Stella we read:

Salve vincla reis,
Profer lumen caecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce.(23)  Break the sinner's fetters,
To the blind give day,
Ward all evils from us,
For all blessings pray.

In an encyclical on the Rosary, Leo XIII says: "According to the will of God, nothing is granted to us except through Mary; and, as no one can go to the Father except through the Son, so generally no one can draw near to Christ except through Mary." (24)

The Church, in fact, turns to Mary to obtain graces of all kinds, both temporal and spiritual; among these last, from the grace of conversion up to that of final perseverance, to say nothing of those needed by virgins to preserve virginity, by apostles to exercise their apostolate, by martyrs to remain firm in the faith. In the Litany of Loreto, which has been universally recited in the Church for many centuries, Mary is for this reason called: "Health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comforter of the afflicted, help of Christians, queen of apostles, of martyrs, of confessors, of virgins." Thus all kinds of graces are distributed by her, even, in a sense, those of the sacraments; for she merited them for us in union with Christ on Calvary. In addition, she disposes us, by her prayer, to approach the sacraments and to receive them well. At times she even sends us a priest, without whom this sacramental help would not be given to us.

Finally, not only every kind of grace is distributed to us by Mary, but every grace in particular. Is this not what the faith of the Church says in the words of the Hail Mary: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen"? This "now" is said every moment in the Church by thousands of Christians who thus ask for the grace of the present moment. This grace is the most individual of graces; it varies with each of us, and for each one of us at every moment. If we are distracted while saying this word, Mary, who is not distracted, knows our spiritual needs of every instant, and prays for us, and obtains for us all the graces that we receive. This teaching, contained in the faith of the Church and expressed by the common prayers (lex orandi lex credendi), is based on Scripture and tradition. Even during her earthly life, Mary truly appears in Scripture as the distributor of graces. Through Mary, Jesus sanctified the Precursor when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and sang the Magnificat. Through His mother, Jesus confirmed the faith of the disciples at Cana, by granting the miracle that she asked. Through her, He strengthened the faith of John on Calvary, saying to him: "Behold thy mother." Lastly, by her the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles, for she was praying with them in the cenacle on Pentecost day when the Holy Ghost descended in the form of tongues of fire.(25)

With even greater reason after the assumption and her entrance into glory, Mary is the distributor of all graces. As a beatified mother knows in heaven the spiritual needs of her children whom she left on earth, Mary knows the spiritual needs of all men. Since she is an excellent mother, she prays for them and, since she is all powerful over the heart of her Son, she obtains for them all the graces that they receive, all which those receive who do not persist in evil. She is, it has been said, like an aqueduct of graces and, in the mystical body, like the virginal neck uniting the head to its members.

When we treat of what the prayer of proficients ought to be, we shall speak of true devotion to Mary as it was understood by Blessed Grignion de Montfort. Even now we can see how expedient it is frequently to use the prayer of mediators, that is, to begin our prayer by a trusting, filial conversation with Mary, that she may lead us to the intimacy of her Son, and that the holy soul of the Savior may then lift us to union with God, since Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. (26)
 
Footnotes
   
 1. Blessed Grignion de Montfort, Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, chap. 2, a. I, I. See also The Secret of Mary, by the same author. It is a summary of the preceding treatise.
2 Cf. St. Bernard, Serm. in Dominic. infra. Oct. Assumpt., no. 1 (PL, CLXXXIII, 429). Serm. in Nativ. B. V. Mariae De aquaeductu, nos. 6-7 (PL, CLXXXIII, 440). Epist. ad Canonicos Lugdunenses de Conceptione S. Mariae, no. 2 (PL, CLXXXII, 333). St. Albert the Great, Mariale sive Quaestiones super Evangelium: Missus est (ed. A. Borgnetj Paris, 1890-99, XXXVII, q. 29)' St. Bonaventure, Sermones de B. V. Maria, De Annuntiatione, serm. V (Quarrachi, 1901, IX, 679). St. Thomas, In Salute. angel. expositio. Bossuet, Sermon sur la Sainte Vierge. Terrien, S.T., La Mere de Dieu et la Mere des hommes, III. Hugon, O.P., Marie pleine de grace. J. Bittremieux, De mediatione universali B. Mariae V. quoad gratias, 1926, Beyaert, Bruges. Leon Leloir, La mediation mariale dans la theologie contemporaine, 1933, ibid. P. R. Bernard, O.P., Le mystere de Marie, Desclee de Brouwer, Paris, 1933, This excellent book ought to be meditated upon. See also P. G. Friethoff, O.P., De alma Socia Christi mediatoris, Rome, 1936. J. V. Bainvel, S.J., Le saint coeur de Marie, 1919. P. Joret, O.P., Le Rosaire de Marie, an annotated translation of the Encyclicals of Leo XIII on the Rosary, 1933.

3. See IIIa, q.26, a.1.

4. Ibid., ad 1um.

6 Ibid., a.2.

6. Mariale, 42.

7. Cajetan.

8. Ct. J Bittremieux, op. cit.

9. Ct. G. Friethoff, O.P., Angelicum (October, 1933), pp 469-77

10. See IIIa, q. 30, a. 1.

11. Luke 2:30-31.

12. John 10: 18.

13. Ibid., 19:25.

14 Litt. Apost., Inter sodalicia, March 22, 1918. (Act. Ap. Sed., 1918, p. 182; quoted in Denzinger, 16th ed., no. 3034, n.4.)

15. See IIIa, q.48, a.2: "He properly atones for an offense who offers somethmg which the offended one loves not less, or even more, than he detested the offense. But by suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than. was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race. . . . First of all, because of the exceeding charity from which He uffered; secondly, on account of the dignity of His life which He laid down in atonement, for it was the life of one who was God and man; thirdly, on account of the extent of the Passion, and the greatness of the grief endured."

16. "Satisfactio B. M. Virginis fundatur, non in stricta justitia, sed in jure amicabili." This is the common teaching of theologians.

17. Benedict XV, Litt. Apost., citat.: "Ita cum Filio patiente et moriente passa est et paene commortua, sic materna in Filium jura pro hominum salute abdicavit placandaeque Dei justitiae, quantum ad se pertinebat, Filium immolavit, ut dici merito queat, ipsam cum Christo humanum genus redemisse." Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 3034, n4.

18. Cf. Piux X, Encyclical, Ad diem ilium, Feb. 2, 1904 (Denzinger, Enchiridion, 3034): "Quoniam universis sanctitate praestat conjunctioneque cum Christo atque a Christo ascita in humanae salutis opus, de congruo, ut aiunt, promeruit nobis, quae Christus de condigno promeruit, estque princeps largiendarum gratiarum ministra." It should be remarked that merit de congruo, which is based in jure amicabili seu in caritate is a merit properly so called, although inferior to merit de condigno. The word "merit' is used for both according to an analogy of proper and not only metaphorical proportionality.

19. St. Irenaeus, who represents the Churches of Asia where he was trained, the Church of Rome where he lived, and the Churches of Gaul where he taught, wrote (Adv. haeres., V, 19, I): "As Eve, seduced by the discourse of the (rebellious) angel, turned away from God and betrayed His word, so Mary heard from the angel the good tidings of the truth. She bore God in her bosom because she obeyed His word. . . . The human race, enchained by a virgin, was delivered by a virgin. . .; the prudence of the serpent yielded to the simplicity of the dove; the bonds which chained us in death were broken."

In a prayer used in the second nocturn of the Office of Mary Mediatrix, St. Ephrem concludes from this parallel between Eve and the Mother of God, that "Mary is, after Jesus, the mediator par excellence, the mediatrix of the entire world, and that it is through her that we obtain all spiritual goods (tu creaturam replesti omni genere beneficii caelestibus laetitiam attulisti, terrestria salvasti).

St. Germanus of Constantinople (Oratio 9, pa, XCVIII, 377 ff., quoted in the same nocturn of the Office) even says: "No one is saved except by thee, O most holy; no one is delivered except through thee, O most immaculate; no one receives the gifts of God except through thee, O purest."

St. Bernard says: "O our mediatrix, O our advocate, reconcile us with thy Son; recommend us to thy Son; present us to thy Son" (Second sermon adventu, 5). "It is the will of God that we should have everything through Mary" (On the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, no. 7). "She is full of grace; the overflow is poured out on us" (Sermon II on the Assumption,
no. 1).

20 John 19:16f.

21. See Ia q. I, a.10: "The author of Holy Scripture is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning, not by words only (as men also can do), but also by things themselves."

22. See Ia IIae, q.114, a.6: "It is clear that no one can merit condignly for another his first grace, save Christ alone. . . inasmuch as He is the head of the Church and the author of human salvation. . . . But one may merit the first grace for another congruously; because a man in grace fulfills God's will, and it is congruous and in harmony with friendship that God should fulfill man's desire for the salvation of another, although sometimes there may be an impediment on the part of him whose salvation the just man desires."

23. The Jansenists altered this verse in order not to affirm this universal mediation of Mary.

24. Encyclical on the Rosary, Octobri mense, September 11, 1891 (Denzinger, no. 3033).


Part One Continued:

When the bases of the interior life are considered, we cannot
discuss the action of Christ, the universal Mediator, on His mystical body without also speaking of the influence of Mary Mediatrix. As we remarked, many persons delude themselves, maintaining that they reach union with God without having continual recourse to our Lord, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Another error would consist in wishing to go to our Lord without going first to Mary, whom the Church calls in a special feast the Mediatrix of all graces. Protestants have fallen into this last error. Without going as far as this deviation, there are Catholics who do not see clearly enough the necessity of having recourse to Mary that they may attain to intimacy with the Savior. Blessed Grignion de Montfort speaks even of "doctors who know the Mother of God only in a speculative, dry, sterile, and indifferent manner; who fear that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is abused, and that injury is done to our Lord by honoring too greatly His holy Mother. If they speak of devotion to Mary, it is less to recommend it than to destroy the abuses that have grown up around it." (1) They seem to believe that Mary is a hindrance to reaching divine union. According to Blessed Grignion, we lack humility if we neglect the mediators whom God has given us because of our frailty. Intimacy with our Lord in prayer will be greatly facilitated by a true and profound devotion to Mary.
To get a clear idea of this devotion, we shall consider what must be understood by universal mediation, and also how Mary is the mediatrix of all graces, as is affirmed by tradition and by the Office and Mass of Mary Mediatrix which are celebrated on May 31. Much has been written on the subject in recent years. We shall here consider this doctrine in its relation to the interior life.(2)

THE MEANING OF UNIVERSAL MEDIATION

St. Thomas says: "Properly speaking, the office of a mediator is to join together those between whom he mediates: for extremes are united by an intermediary. Now to unite men to God perfectly belongs to Christ, through whom men are reconciled to God, ac­cording to II Cor. 5: 19: 'God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.' And, consequently, Christ alone is the perfect Mediator of God and men, inasmuch as, by His death, He reconciled the human race to God. Hence the Apostle, after saying, 'Mediator of God and man, the man Christ Jesus,' added: 'Who gave Himself a redemption for all'. However, nothing hinders certain others from being called mediators, in some respect, between God and man, forasmuch as they cooperate in uniting men to God, dispositive or ministerially."(3) In this sense, adds St. Thomas,(4) the prophets and priests of the Old Testament may be called mediators, and also the priests of the New Testament, as ministers of the true Mediator.

St. Thomas explains further how Christ as man is the Mediator: "Because, as man, He is distant both from God by nature, and from man by dignity of both grace and glory. Again, it belongs to Him, as man, to unite men to God, by communicating to men both precepts and gifts, and by offering satisfaction and prayers to God for men." (5) Christ satisfied and merited as man by a satisfaction and a merit which drew an infinite value from His divine personality. This mediation is twofold, both descending and ascending. It consists in giving to men the light and grace of God, and in offering to God, on behalf of men, the worship and reparation due to Him.

As has been said, there is nothing to prevent there being mediators below Christ, subordinated to Him as secondary mediators, such as were the prophets and priests of the Old Law for the chosen people. It may thus be asked whether Mary is the universal mediatrix for all men and for the distribution of all graces in general and in particular. St. Albert the Great speaks of the mediation of Mary as superior to that of the prophets when he says: "Mary was chosen by the Lord, not as a minister but to be associated in a very special and quite intimate manner in the work of the redemption of the human race: 'Faciamus ei adjutorium simile sibi.' " (6)

Is not Mary in her quality as Mother of God completely designated to be the universal mediatrix? Is she not truly the intermediary between God and men? She is, indeed, much below God and Christ because she is a creature, but much above all men by the grace of her divine maternity, "which makes her attain the very frontiers of the divinity," (7) and by the plenitude of grace received at the moment of her immaculate conception; a plentitude which did not cease to grow until her death. Not only was Mary thus designated by her divine maternity for this function of mediatrix, but she received it in truth and exercised it. This is shown by tradition,(8) which has given her the title of universal mediatrix in the proper sense of the word,(9) although in a manner subordinated to Christ. This title is consecrated by the special feast which is celebrated in the universal Church. To have a clear understanding of the meaning and import of this title, we shall consider how it is becoming to Mary for two principal reasons: because she cooperated by satisfaction and merit in the sacrifice of the cross; and because she does not cease to intercede for us, to obtain for us, and to distribute to us all the graces that we receive. Such is the double mediation, ascending and descending, which we ought to ponder in order daily to draw greater profit from it.

MARY MEDIATRIX BY HER COOPERATION IN THE SACRIFICE OF THE CROSS

During the entire course of her earthly life, the Blessed Virgin cooperated in the sacrifice of her Son. First of all, the free consent that she gave on Annunciation day was necessary for the accomplishment of the mystery of the Incarnation, as if, says St. Thomas, (10) God had waited for the consent of humanity through the voice of Mary. By this free fiat, she cooperated in the sacrifice of the cross, since she gave us its Priest and Victim. She cooperated in it also by offering her Son in the Temple, as a most pure host, at the moment when the aged Simeon saw by prophetic light that this Child was the "salvation. . . prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel" (11) More enlightened than Simeon, Mary offered her Son, and began to suffer deeply with Him when she heard the holy old man tell her that He would be a sign which would be contradicted and that a sword would pierce her soul.

Mary cooperated in the sacrifice of Christ, especially at the foot of the cross, uniting herself to Him, more closely than can be expressed, by satisfaction or reparation, and by merit. Some saints, in particular the stigmatics, have been exceptionally united to the sufferings and merits of our Savior: for example, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Siena, and yet their share in His suffering cannot be compared with Mary's. How did Mary offer her Son? As He offered Himself. By a miracle, Jesus could easily have prevented the blows of His executioners from causing His death; He offered Himself voluntarily. "No man," He says, "taketh it (My life) away from Me: but I lay it down of Myself. And I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again." (12) Jesus renounced His right to life; He offered Himself wholly for our salvation. Of Mary, St. John says: "There stood by the cross of Jesus, His mother," (13) surely very closely united to Him in His suffering and oblation. As Pope Benedict XV says: "She renounced her rights as a mother over her Son for the salvation of all men." (14) She accepted the martyrdom of Christ and offered it for us. In the measure of her love, she felt all the torments that He suffered in body and soul. More than anyone else, Mary endured the very suffering of the Savior; she suffered for sin in the degree of her love for God, whom sin offends; for her Son, whom sin crucified; for souls, which sin ravishes and kills. The Blessed Virgin's charity incomparably surpassed that of the greatest saints. She thus cooperated in the sacrifice of the cross by way of satisfaction or reparation, by offering to God for us, with great sorrow and most ardent love, the life of her most dear Son, whom she rightly adored and who was dearer to her than her very life.

In that instant, the Savior satisfied for us in strict justice by His human acts which drew from His divine personality an infinite value capable of making reparation for the offense of all mortal sins that ever had been or would be committed. His love pleased God more than all sins displease Him.(15) Herein lies the essence of the mystery of the redemption. In union with her Son on Calvary, Mary satisfied for us by a satisfaction based, not on strict justice, but on the rights of the infinite friendship or charity which united her to God.(16)

At the moment when her Son was about to die on the cross, apparently defeated and abandoned, she did not cease for a moment to believe that He was the Word made flesh, the Savior of the world, who would rise in three days as He had predicted. This was the greatest act of faith and hope ever made; after Christ's act of love, it was also the greatest act of love. It made Mary the queen of martyrs,

for she was a martyr, not only for Christ but with Christ; so much so, that a single cross sufficed for her Son and for her. She was, in a sense, nailed to it by her love for Him. She was thus the coredemptrix, as Pope Benedict XV says, in this sense, that with Christ, through Him, and in Him, she bought back the human race. (17)

For the same reason, all that Christ merited for us on the cross in strict justice, Mary merited for us by congruous merit, based on the charity that united her to God. Christ alone, as head of the human race, could strictly merit to transmit divine life to us. But Pius X sanctioned the teaching of theologians when he wrote: "Mary, united to Christ in the work of salvation, merited de congruo for us what Christ merited for us de condigno." (18)

This common teaching of theologians, thus sanctioned by the sovereign pontiffs, has for its principal traditional basis the fact that Mary is called in all Greek and Latin tradition the new Eve, Mother of all men in regard to the life of the soul, as Eve was in regard to the life of the body. It stands to reason that the spiritual mother of all men ought to give them spiritual life, not as the principal physical cause (for God alone can be the principal physical cause of divine grace), but as the moral cause by merit de congruo, merit de condigno being reserved to Christ.

The Office and Mass proper to Mary Mediatrix assemble the principal testimonies of tradition on this point with their scriptural foundations, in particular the clearcut statements of St. Ephrem, the glory of the Syriac Church, of St. Germanus of Constantinople, of St. Bernard, and of St. Bernardine of Siena. Even as early as the second and third centuries, St. Justin, St. Irenaeus, and Tertullian insisted on the parallel between Eve and Mary, and showed that if the first concurred in our fall, the second collaborated in our redemption.(19)

This teaching of tradition itself rests in part on the words of Christ, related in the Gospel of the Mass for the feast of Mary Mediatrix. The Savior was about to die and, seeing "His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, He saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own." (20) The literal meaning of these words, "Behold thy son," points to St. John, but for God, events and persons signify others; (21) here St. John represents spiritually all men purchased by the sacrifice of the cross. God and His Christ speak not only by the words They use, but by the events and persons whose masters They are, and by whom They signify what They wish according to the plan of Providence. The dying Christ, addressing Mary and John, saw in John the personification of all men, for whom He was shedding His blood. As this word, so to speak, created in Mary a most profound maternal affection, which did not cease to envelop the soul of the beloved disciple, this supernatural affection extended to all of us and made Mary truly the spiritual mother of all men. In the eighth century we find Abbot Rupert expressing this same idea, and after him St. Bernardine of Siena, Bossuet, Blessed Grignion de Montfort, and many others. It is the logical result of what tradition tells us about the new Eve, the spiritual mother of all men.

Finally, if we studied theologically all that is required for merit de congruo, based not on justice, but on charity or supernatural friendship which unites us to God, we could not find it better realized than in Mary. Since, in fact, a good Christian mother by her virtue thus merits graces for her children,(22) with how much greater reason can Mary, who is incomparably more closely united to God by the plenitude of her charity, merit de congruo for all men.

Such is the ascending mediation of Mary in so far as she offered the sacrifice of the cross with Christ for us, making reparation and meriting for us. We shall now consider the descending mediation, by which she distributes the gifts of God to us.

MARY OBTAINS AND DISTRIBUTES ALL GRACES

That Mary obtains for us and distributes to us all graces is a certain doctrine, according to what we have just said about the mother of all men. As mother, she is interested in their salvation, prays for them, and obtains for them the graces they receive. In the Ave Maris Stella we read:

Salve vincla reis,
Profer lumen caecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce.(23)  Break the sinner's fetters,
To the blind give day,
Ward all evils from us,
For all blessings pray.

In an encyclical on the Rosary, Leo XIII says: "According to the will of God, nothing is granted to us except through Mary; and, as no one can go to the Father except through the Son, so generally no one can draw near to Christ except through Mary." (24)

The Church, in fact, turns to Mary to obtain graces of all kinds, both temporal and spiritual; among these last, from the grace of conversion up to that of final perseverance, to say nothing of those needed by virgins to preserve virginity, by apostles to exercise their apostolate, by martyrs to remain firm in the faith. In the Litany of Loreto, which has been universally recited in the Church for many centuries, Mary is for this reason called: "Health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comforter of the afflicted, help of Christians, queen of apostles, of martyrs, of confessors, of virgins." Thus all kinds of graces are distributed by her, even, in a sense, those of the sacraments; for she merited them for us in union with Christ on Calvary. In addition, she disposes us, by her prayer, to approach the sacraments and to receive them well. At times she even sends us a priest, without whom this sacramental help would not be given to us.

Finally, not only every kind of grace is distributed to us by Mary, but every grace in particular. Is this not what the faith of the Church says in the words of the Hail Mary: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen"? This "now" is said every moment in the Church by thousands of Christians who thus ask for the grace of the present moment. This grace is the most individual of graces; it varies with each of us, and for each one of us at every moment. If we are distracted while saying this word, Mary, who is not distracted, knows our spiritual needs of every instant, and prays for us, and obtains for us all the graces that we receive. This teaching, contained in the faith of the Church and expressed by the common prayers (lex orandi lex credendi), is based on Scripture and tradition. Even during her earthly life, Mary truly appears in Scripture as the distributor of graces. Through Mary, Jesus sanctified the Precursor when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and sang the Magnificat. Through His mother, Jesus confirmed the faith of the disciples at Cana, by granting the miracle that she asked. Through her, He strengthened the faith of John on Calvary, saying to him: "Behold thy mother." Lastly, by her the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles, for she was praying with them in the cenacle on Pentecost day when the Holy Ghost descended in the form of tongues of fire.(25)

With even greater reason after the assumption and her entrance into glory, Mary is the distributor of all graces. As a beatified mother knows in heaven the spiritual needs of her children whom she left on earth, Mary knows the spiritual needs of all men. Since she is an excellent mother, she prays for them and, since she is all powerful over the heart of her Son, she obtains for them all the graces that they receive, all which those receive who do not persist in evil. She is, it has been said, like an aqueduct of graces and, in the mystical body, like the virginal neck uniting the head to its members.

When we treat of what the prayer of proficients ought to be, we shall speak of true devotion to Mary as it was understood by Blessed Grignion de Montfort. Even now we can see how expedient it is frequently to use the prayer of mediators, that is, to begin our prayer by a trusting, filial conversation with Mary, that she may lead us to the intimacy of her Son, and that the holy soul of the Savior may then lift us to union with God, since Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. (26)
 
Footnotes
   
 1. Blessed Grignion de Montfort, Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, chap. 2, a. I, I. See also The Secret of Mary, by the same author. It is a summary of the preceding treatise.
2 Cf. St. Bernard, Serm. in Dominic. infra. Oct. Assumpt., no. 1 (PL, CLXXXIII, 429). Serm. in Nativ. B. V. Mariae De aquaeductu, nos. 6-7 (PL, CLXXXIII, 440). Epist. ad Canonicos Lugdunenses de Conceptione S. Mariae, no. 2 (PL, CLXXXII, 333). St. Albert the Great, Mariale sive Quaestiones super Evangelium: Missus est (ed. A. Borgnetj Paris, 1890-99, XXXVII, q. 29)' St. Bonaventure, Sermones de B. V. Maria, De Annuntiatione, serm. V (Quarrachi, 1901, IX, 679). St. Thomas, In Salute. angel. expositio. Bossuet, Sermon sur la Sainte Vierge. Terrien, S.T., La Mere de Dieu et la Mere des hommes, III. Hugon, O.P., Marie pleine de grace. J. Bittremieux, De mediatione universali B. Mariae V. quoad gratias, 1926, Beyaert, Bruges. Leon Leloir, La mediation mariale dans la theologie contemporaine, 1933, ibid. P. R. Bernard, O.P., Le mystere de Marie, Desclee de Brouwer, Paris, 1933, This excellent book ought to be meditated upon. See also P. G. Friethoff, O.P., De alma Socia Christi mediatoris, Rome, 1936. J. V. Bainvel, S.J., Le saint coeur de Marie, 1919. P. Joret, O.P., Le Rosaire de Marie, an annotated translation of the Encyclicals of Leo XIII on the Rosary, 1933.

3. See IIIa, q.26, a.1.

4. Ibid., ad 1um.

6 Ibid., a.2.

6. Mariale, 42.

7. Cajetan.

8. Ct. J Bittremieux, op. cit.

9. Ct. G. Friethoff, O.P., Angelicum (October, 1933), pp 469-77

10. See IIIa, q. 30, a. 1.

11. Luke 2:30-31.

12. John 10: 18.

13. Ibid., 19:25.

14 Litt. Apost., Inter sodalicia, March 22, 1918. (Act. Ap. Sed., 1918, p. 182; quoted in Denzinger, 16th ed., no. 3034, n.4.)

15. See IIIa, q.48, a.2: "He properly atones for an offense who offers somethmg which the offended one loves not less, or even more, than he detested the offense. But by suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than. was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race. . . . First of all, because of the exceeding charity from which He uffered; secondly, on account of the dignity of His life which He laid down in atonement, for it was the life of one who was God and man; thirdly, on account of the extent of the Passion, and the greatness of the grief endured."

16. "Satisfactio B. M. Virginis fundatur, non in stricta justitia, sed in jure amicabili." This is the common teaching of theologians.

17. Benedict XV, Litt. Apost., citat.: "Ita cum Filio patiente et moriente passa est et paene commortua, sic materna in Filium jura pro hominum salute abdicavit placandaeque Dei justitiae, quantum ad se pertinebat, Filium immolavit, ut dici merito queat, ipsam cum Christo humanum genus redemisse." Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 3034, n4.

18. Cf. Piux X, Encyclical, Ad diem ilium, Feb. 2, 1904 (Denzinger, Enchiridion, 3034): "Quoniam universis sanctitate praestat conjunctioneque cum Christo atque a Christo ascita in humanae salutis opus, de congruo, ut aiunt, promeruit nobis, quae Christus de condigno promeruit, estque princeps largiendarum gratiarum ministra." It should be remarked that merit de congruo, which is based in jure amicabili seu in caritate is a merit properly so called, although inferior to merit de condigno. The word "merit' is used for both according to an analogy of proper and not only metaphorical proportionality.

19. St. Irenaeus, who represents the Churches of Asia where he was trained, the Church of Rome where he lived, and the Churches of Gaul where he taught, wrote (Adv. haeres., V, 19, I): "As Eve, seduced by the discourse of the (rebellious) angel, turned away from God and betrayed His word, so Mary heard from the angel the good tidings of the truth. She bore God in her bosom because she obeyed His word. . . . The human race, enchained by a virgin, was delivered by a virgin. . .; the prudence of the serpent yielded to the simplicity of the dove; the bonds which chained us in death were broken."

In a prayer used in the second nocturn of the Office of Mary Mediatrix, St. Ephrem concludes from this parallel between Eve and the Mother of God, that "Mary is, after Jesus, the mediator par excellence, the mediatrix of the entire world, and that it is through her that we obtain all spiritual goods (tu creaturam replesti omni genere beneficii caelestibus laetitiam attulisti, terrestria salvasti).

St. Germanus of Constantinople (Oratio 9, pa, XCVIII, 377 ff., quoted in the same nocturn of the Office) even says: "No one is saved except by thee, O most holy; no one is delivered except through thee, O most immaculate; no one receives the gifts of God except through thee, O purest."

St. Bernard says: "O our mediatrix, O our advocate, reconcile us with thy Son; recommend us to thy Son; present us to thy Son" (Second sermon adventu, 5). "It is the will of God that we should have everything through Mary" (On the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, no. 7). "She is full of grace; the overflow is poured out on us" (Sermon II on the Assumption,
no. 1).

20 John 19:16f.

21. See Ia q. I, a.10: "The author of Holy Scripture is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning, not by words only (as men also can do), but also by things themselves."

22. See Ia IIae, q.114, a.6: "It is clear that no one can merit condignly for another his first grace, save Christ alone. . . inasmuch as He is the head of the Church and the author of human salvation. . . . But one may merit the first grace for another congruously; because a man in grace fulfills God's will, and it is congruous and in harmony with friendship that God should fulfill man's desire for the salvation of another, although sometimes there may be an impediment on the part of him whose salvation the just man desires."

23. The Jansenists altered this verse in order not to affirm this universal mediation of Mary.

24. Encyclical on the Rosary, Octobri mense, September 11, 1891 (Denzinger, no. 3033).


Part One Continued:

When the bases of the interior life are considered, we cannot
discuss the action of Christ, the universal Mediator, on His mystical body without also speaking of the influence of Mary Mediatrix. As we remarked, many persons delude themselves, maintaining that they reach union with God without having continual recourse to our Lord, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Another error would consist in wishing to go to our Lord without going first to Mary, whom the Church calls in a special feast the Mediatrix of all graces. Protestants have fallen into this last error. Without going as far as this deviation, there are Catholics who do not see clearly enough the necessity of having recourse to Mary that they may attain to intimacy with the Savior. Blessed Grignion de Montfort speaks even of "doctors who know the Mother of God only in a speculative, dry, sterile, and indifferent manner; who fear that devotion to the Blessed Virgin is abused, and that injury is done to our Lord by honoring too greatly His holy Mother. If they speak of devotion to Mary, it is less to recommend it than to destroy the abuses that have grown up around it." (1) They seem to believe that Mary is a hindrance to reaching divine union. According to Blessed Grignion, we lack humility if we neglect the mediators whom God has given us because of our frailty. Intimacy with our Lord in prayer will be greatly facilitated by a true and profound devotion to Mary.
To get a clear idea of this devotion, we shall consider what must be understood by universal mediation, and also how Mary is the mediatrix of all graces, as is affirmed by tradition and by the Office and Mass of Mary Mediatrix which are celebrated on May 31. Much has been written on the subject in recent years. We shall here consider this doctrine in its relation to the interior life.(2)

THE MEANING OF UNIVERSAL MEDIATION

St. Thomas says: "Properly speaking, the office of a mediator is to join together those between whom he mediates: for extremes are united by an intermediary. Now to unite men to God perfectly belongs to Christ, through whom men are reconciled to God, ac­cording to II Cor. 5: 19: 'God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.' And, consequently, Christ alone is the perfect Mediator of God and men, inasmuch as, by His death, He reconciled the human race to God. Hence the Apostle, after saying, 'Mediator of God and man, the man Christ Jesus,' added: 'Who gave Himself a redemption for all'. However, nothing hinders certain others from being called mediators, in some respect, between God and man, forasmuch as they cooperate in uniting men to God, dispositive or ministerially."(3) In this sense, adds St. Thomas,(4) the prophets and priests of the Old Testament may be called mediators, and also the priests of the New Testament, as ministers of the true Mediator.

St. Thomas explains further how Christ as man is the Mediator: "Because, as man, He is distant both from God by nature, and from man by dignity of both grace and glory. Again, it belongs to Him, as man, to unite men to God, by communicating to men both precepts and gifts, and by offering satisfaction and prayers to God for men." (5) Christ satisfied and merited as man by a satisfaction and a merit which drew an infinite value from His divine personality. This mediation is twofold, both descending and ascending. It consists in giving to men the light and grace of God, and in offering to God, on behalf of men, the worship and reparation due to Him.

As has been said, there is nothing to prevent there being mediators below Christ, subordinated to Him as secondary mediators, such as were the prophets and priests of the Old Law for the chosen people. It may thus be asked whether Mary is the universal mediatrix for all men and for the distribution of all graces in general and in particular. St. Albert the Great speaks of the mediation of Mary as superior to that of the prophets when he says: "Mary was chosen by the Lord, not as a minister but to be associated in a very special and quite intimate manner in the work of the redemption of the human race: 'Faciamus ei adjutorium simile sibi.' " (6)

Is not Mary in her quality as Mother of God completely designated to be the universal mediatrix? Is she not truly the intermediary between God and men? She is, indeed, much below God and Christ because she is a creature, but much above all men by the grace of her divine maternity, "which makes her attain the very frontiers of the divinity," (7) and by the plenitude of grace received at the moment of her immaculate conception; a plentitude which did not cease to grow until her death. Not only was Mary thus designated by her divine maternity for this function of mediatrix, but she received it in truth and exercised it. This is shown by tradition,(8) which has given her the title of universal mediatrix in the proper sense of the word,(9) although in a manner subordinated to Christ. This title is consecrated by the special feast which is celebrated in the universal Church. To have a clear understanding of the meaning and import of this title, we shall consider how it is becoming to Mary for two principal reasons: because she cooperated by satisfaction and merit in the sacrifice of the cross; and because she does not cease to intercede for us, to obtain for us, and to distribute to us all the graces that we receive. Such is the double mediation, ascending and descending, which we ought to ponder in order daily to draw greater profit from it.

MARY MEDIATRIX BY HER COOPERATION IN THE SACRIFICE OF THE CROSS

During the entire course of her earthly life, the Blessed Virgin cooperated in the sacrifice of her Son. First of all, the free consent that she gave on Annunciation day was necessary for the accomplishment of the mystery of the Incarnation, as if, says St. Thomas, (10) God had waited for the consent of humanity through the voice of Mary. By this free fiat, she cooperated in the sacrifice of the cross, since she gave us its Priest and Victim. She cooperated in it also by offering her Son in the Temple, as a most pure host, at the moment when the aged Simeon saw by prophetic light that this Child was the "salvation. . . prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel" (11) More enlightened than Simeon, Mary offered her Son, and began to suffer deeply with Him when she heard the holy old man tell her that He would be a sign which would be contradicted and that a sword would pierce her soul.

Mary cooperated in the sacrifice of Christ, especially at the foot of the cross, uniting herself to Him, more closely than can be expressed, by satisfaction or reparation, and by merit. Some saints, in particular the stigmatics, have been exceptionally united to the sufferings and merits of our Savior: for example, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Siena, and yet their share in His suffering cannot be compared with Mary's. How did Mary offer her Son? As He offered Himself. By a miracle, Jesus could easily have prevented the blows of His executioners from causing His death; He offered Himself voluntarily. "No man," He says, "taketh it (My life) away from Me: but I lay it down of Myself. And I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again." (12) Jesus renounced His right to life; He offered Himself wholly for our salvation. Of Mary, St. John says: "There stood by the cross of Jesus, His mother," (13) surely very closely united to Him in His suffering and oblation. As Pope Benedict XV says: "She renounced her rights as a mother over her Son for the salvation of all men." (14) She accepted the martyrdom of Christ and offered it for us. In the measure of her love, she felt all the torments that He suffered in body and soul. More than anyone else, Mary endured the very suffering of the Savior; she suffered for sin in the degree of her love for God, whom sin offends; for her Son, whom sin crucified; for souls, which sin ravishes and kills. The Blessed Virgin's charity incomparably surpassed that of the greatest saints. She thus cooperated in the sacrifice of the cross by way of satisfaction or reparation, by offering to God for us, with great sorrow and most ardent love, the life of her most dear Son, whom she rightly adored and who was dearer to her than her very life.

In that instant, the Savior satisfied for us in strict justice by His human acts which drew from His divine personality an infinite value capable of making reparation for the offense of all mortal sins that ever had been or would be committed. His love pleased God more than all sins displease Him.(15) Herein lies the essence of the mystery of the redemption. In union with her Son on Calvary, Mary satisfied for us by a satisfaction based, not on strict justice, but on the rights of the infinite friendship or charity which united her to God.(16)

At the moment when her Son was about to die on the cross, apparently defeated and abandoned, she did not cease for a moment to believe that He was the Word made flesh, the Savior of the world, who would rise in three days as He had predicted. This was the greatest act of faith and hope ever made; after Christ's act of love, it was also the greatest act of love. It made Mary the queen of martyrs,

for she was a martyr, not only for Christ but with Christ; so much so, that a single cross sufficed for her Son and for her. She was, in a sense, nailed to it by her love for Him. She was thus the coredemptrix, as Pope Benedict XV says, in this sense, that with Christ, through Him, and in Him, she bought back the human race. (17)

For the same reason, all that Christ merited for us on the cross in strict justice, Mary merited for us by congruous merit, based on the charity that united her to God. Christ alone, as head of the human race, could strictly merit to transmit divine life to us. But Pius X sanctioned the teaching of theologians when he wrote: "Mary, united to Christ in the work of salvation, merited de congruo for us what Christ merited for us de condigno." (18)

This common teaching of theologians, thus sanctioned by the sovereign pontiffs, has for its principal traditional basis the fact that Mary is called in all Greek and Latin tradition the new Eve, Mother of all men in regard to the life of the soul, as Eve was in regard to the life of the body. It stands to reason that the spiritual mother of all men ought to give them spiritual life, not as the principal physical cause (for God alone can be the principal physical cause of divine grace), but as the moral cause by merit de congruo, merit de condigno being reserved to Christ.

The Office and Mass proper to Mary Mediatrix assemble the principal testimonies of tradition on this point with their scriptural foundations, in particular the clearcut statements of St. Ephrem, the glory of the Syriac Church, of St. Germanus of Constantinople, of St. Bernard, and of St. Bernardine of Siena. Even as early as the second and third centuries, St. Justin, St. Irenaeus, and Tertullian insisted on the parallel between Eve and Mary, and showed that if the first concurred in our fall, the second collaborated in our redemption.(19)

This teaching of tradition itself rests in part on the words of Christ, related in the Gospel of the Mass for the feast of Mary Mediatrix. The Savior was about to die and, seeing "His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, He saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own." (20) The literal meaning of these words, "Behold thy son," points to St. John, but for God, events and persons signify others; (21) here St. John represents spiritually all men purchased by the sacrifice of the cross. God and His Christ speak not only by the words They use, but by the events and persons whose masters They are, and by whom They signify what They wish according to the plan of Providence. The dying Christ, addressing Mary and John, saw in John the personification of all men, for whom He was shedding His blood. As this word, so to speak, created in Mary a most profound maternal affection, which did not cease to envelop the soul of the beloved disciple, this supernatural affection extended to all of us and made Mary truly the spiritual mother of all men. In the eighth century we find Abbot Rupert expressing this same idea, and after him St. Bernardine of Siena, Bossuet, Blessed Grignion de Montfort, and many others. It is the logical result of what tradition tells us about the new Eve, the spiritual mother of all men.

Finally, if we studied theologically all that is required for merit de congruo, based not on justice, but on charity or supernatural friendship which unites us to God, we could not find it better realized than in Mary. Since, in fact, a good Christian mother by her virtue thus merits graces for her children,(22) with how much greater reason can Mary, who is incomparably more closely united to God by the plenitude of her charity, merit de congruo for all men.

Such is the ascending mediation of Mary in so far as she offered the sacrifice of the cross with Christ for us, making reparation and meriting for us. We shall now consider the descending mediation, by which she distributes the gifts of God to us.

MARY OBTAINS AND DISTRIBUTES ALL GRACES

That Mary obtains for us and distributes to us all graces is a certain doctrine, according to what we have just said about the mother of all men. As mother, she is interested in their salvation, prays for them, and obtains for them the graces they receive. In the Ave Maris Stella we read:

Salve vincla reis,
Profer lumen caecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce.(23)  Break the sinner's fetters,
To the blind give day,
Ward all evils from us,
For all blessings pray.

In an encyclical on the Rosary, Leo XIII says: "According to the will of God, nothing is granted to us except through Mary; and, as no one can go to the Father except through the Son, so generally no one can draw near to Christ except through Mary." (24)

The Church, in fact, turns to Mary to obtain graces of all kinds, both temporal and spiritual; among these last, from the grace of conversion up to that of final perseverance, to say nothing of those needed by virgins to preserve virginity, by apostles to exercise their apostolate, by martyrs to remain firm in the faith. In the Litany of Loreto, which has been universally recited in the Church for many centuries, Mary is for this reason called: "Health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comforter of the afflicted, help of Christians, queen of apostles, of martyrs, of confessors, of virgins." Thus all kinds of graces are distributed by her, even, in a sense, those of the sacraments; for she merited them for us in union with Christ on Calvary. In addition, she disposes us, by her prayer, to approach the sacraments and to receive them well. At times she even sends us a priest, without whom this sacramental help would not be given to us.

Finally, not only every kind of grace is distributed to us by Mary, but every grace in particular. Is this not what the faith of the Church says in the words of the Hail Mary: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen"? This "now" is said every moment in the Church by thousands of Christians who thus ask for the grace of the present moment. This grace is the most individual of graces; it varies with each of us, and for each one of us at every moment. If we are distracted while saying this word, Mary, who is not distracted, knows our spiritual needs of every instant, and prays for us, and obtains for us all the graces that we receive. This teaching, contained in the faith of the Church and expressed by the common prayers (lex orandi lex credendi), is based on Scripture and tradition. Even during her earthly life, Mary truly appears in Scripture as the distributor of graces. Through Mary, Jesus sanctified the Precursor when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and sang the Magnificat. Through His mother, Jesus confirmed the faith of the disciples at Cana, by granting the miracle that she asked. Through her, He strengthened the faith of John on Calvary, saying to him: "Behold thy mother." Lastly, by her the Holy Ghost came down upon the apostles, for she was praying with them in the cenacle on Pentecost day when the Holy Ghost descended in the form of tongues of fire.(25)

With even greater reason after the assumption and her entrance into glory, Mary is the distributor of all graces. As a beatified mother knows in heaven the spiritual needs of her children whom she left on earth, Mary knows the spiritual needs of all men. Since she is an excellent mother, she prays for them and, since she is all powerful over the heart of her Son, she obtains for them all the graces that they receive, all which those receive who do not persist in evil. She is, it has been said, like an aqueduct of graces and, in the mystical body, like the virginal neck uniting the head to its members.

When we treat of what the prayer of proficients ought to be, we shall speak of true devotion to Mary as it was understood by Blessed Grignion de Montfort. Even now we can see how expedient it is frequently to use the prayer of mediators, that is, to begin our prayer by a trusting, filial conversation with Mary, that she may lead us to the intimacy of her Son, and that the holy soul of the Savior may then lift us to union with God, since Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. (26)
 
Footnotes
   
 1. Blessed Grignion de Montfort, Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, chap. 2, a. I, I. See also The Secret of Mary, by the same author. It is a summary of the preceding treatise.
2 Cf. St. Bernard, Serm. in Dominic. infra. Oct. Assumpt., no. 1 (PL, CLXXXIII, 429). Serm. in Nativ. B. V. Mariae De aquaeductu, nos. 6-7 (PL, CLXXXIII, 440). Epist. ad Canonicos Lugdunenses de Conceptione S. Mariae, no. 2 (PL, CLXXXII, 333). St. Albert the Great, Mariale sive Quaestiones super Evangelium: Missus est (ed. A. Borgnetj Paris, 1890-99, XXXVII, q. 29)' St. Bonaventure, Sermones de B. V. Maria, De Annuntiatione, serm. V (Quarrachi, 1901, IX, 679). St. Thomas, In Salute. angel. expositio. Bossuet, Sermon sur la Sainte Vierge. Terrien, S.T., La Mere de Dieu et la Mere des hommes, III. Hugon, O.P., Marie pleine de grace. J. Bittremieux, De mediatione universali B. Mariae V. quoad gratias, 1926, Beyaert, Bruges. Leon Leloir, La mediation mariale dans la theologie contemporaine, 1933, ibid. P. R. Bernard, O.P., Le mystere de Marie, Desclee de Brouwer, Paris, 1933, This excellent book ought to be meditated upon. See also P. G. Friethoff, O.P., De alma Socia Christi mediatoris, Rome, 1936. J. V. Bainvel, S.J., Le saint coeur de Marie, 1919. P. Joret, O.P., Le Rosaire de Marie, an annotated translation of the Encyclicals of Leo XIII on the Rosary, 1933.

3. See IIIa, q.26, a.1.

4. Ibid., ad 1um.

6 Ibid., a.2.

6. Mariale, 42.

7. Cajetan.

8. Ct. J Bittremieux, op. cit.

9. Ct. G. Friethoff, O.P., Angelicum (October, 1933), pp 469-77

10. See IIIa, q. 30, a. 1.

11. Luke 2:30-31.

12. John 10: 18.

13. Ibid., 19:25.

14 Litt. Apost., Inter sodalicia, March 22, 1918. (Act. Ap. Sed., 1918, p. 182; quoted in Denzinger, 16th ed., no. 3034, n.4.)

15. See IIIa, q.48, a.2: "He properly atones for an offense who offers somethmg which the offended one loves not less, or even more, than he detested the offense. But by suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than. was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race. . . . First of all, because of the exceeding charity from which He uffered; secondly, on account of the dignity of His life which He laid down in atonement, for it was the life of one who was God and man; thirdly, on account of the extent of the Passion, and the greatness of the grief endured."

16. "Satisfactio B. M. Virginis fundatur, non in stricta justitia, sed in jure amicabili." This is the common teaching of theologians.

17. Benedict XV, Litt. Apost., citat.: "Ita cum Filio patiente et moriente passa est et paene commortua, sic materna in Filium jura pro hominum salute abdicavit placandaeque Dei justitiae, quantum ad se pertinebat, Filium immolavit, ut dici merito queat, ipsam cum Christo humanum genus redemisse." Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 3034, n4.

18. Cf. Piux X, Encyclical, Ad diem ilium, Feb. 2, 1904 (Denzinger, Enchiridion, 3034): "Quoniam universis sanctitate praestat conjunctioneque cum Christo atque a Christo ascita in humanae salutis opus, de congruo, ut aiunt, promeruit nobis, quae Christus de condigno promeruit, estque princeps largiendarum gratiarum ministra." It should be remarked that merit de congruo, which is based in jure amicabili seu in caritate is a merit properly so called, although inferior to merit de condigno. The word "merit' is used for both according to an analogy of proper and not only metaphorical proportionality.

19. St. Irenaeus, who represents the Churches of Asia where he was trained, the Church of Rome where he lived, and the Churches of Gaul where he taught, wrote (Adv. haeres., V, 19, I): "As Eve, seduced by the discourse of the (rebellious) angel, turned away from God and betrayed His word, so Mary heard from the angel the good tidings of the truth. She bore God in her bosom because she obeyed His word. . . . The human race, enchained by a virgin, was delivered by a virgin. . .; the prudence of the serpent yielded to the simplicity of the dove; the bonds which chained us in death were broken."

In a prayer used in the second nocturn of the Office of Mary Mediatrix, St. Ephrem concludes from this parallel between Eve and the Mother of God, that "Mary is, after Jesus, the mediator par excellence, the mediatrix of the entire world, and that it is through her that we obtain all spiritual goods (tu creaturam replesti omni genere beneficii caelestibus laetitiam attulisti, terrestria salvasti).

St. Germanus of Constantinople (Oratio 9, pa, XCVIII, 377 ff., quoted in the same nocturn of the Office) even says: "No one is saved except by thee, O most holy; no one is delivered except through thee, O most immaculate; no one receives the gifts of God except through thee, O purest."

St. Bernard says: "O our mediatrix, O our advocate, reconcile us with thy Son; recommend us to thy Son; present us to thy Son" (Second sermon adventu, 5). "It is the will of God that we should have everything through Mary" (On the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, no. 7). "She is full of grace; the overflow is poured out on us" (Sermon II on the Assumption,
no. 1).

20 John 19:16f.

21. See Ia q. I, a.10: "The author of Holy Scripture is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning, not by words only (as men also can do), but also by things themselves."

22. See Ia IIae, q.114, a.6: "It is clear that no one can merit condignly for another his first grace, save Christ alone. . . inasmuch as He is the head of the Church and the author of human salvation. . . . But one may merit the first grace for another congruously; because a man in grace fulfills God's will, and it is congruous and in harmony with friendship that God should fulfill man's desire for the salvation of another, although sometimes there may be an impediment on the part of him whose salvation the just man desires."

23. The Jansenists altered this verse in order not to affirm this universal mediation of Mary.

24. Encyclical on the Rosary, Octobri mense, September 11, 1891 (Denzinger, no. 3033).


  Part One Continued:

  Part One Continued: