Abandonment to Divine Providence Jean-Pierre de Caussade
SECTION VIII.—Self-guidance a Mistake.
God imparts to the soul in the state of abandonment by means which seem more likely to
destroy it. There is a time when God would be the life of the soul, and Himself accomplish its perfection in secret and unknown ways. Then all its own ideas, lights, industries, examinations, and reasonings become sources of illusion. After many experiences of the sad consequences of self-guidance, the soul recognising its uselessness, and finding that God has hidden and confused all the issues, is forced to fly to Him to find life. Then, convinced of its nothingness and of the harmfulness of all that it derives from itself, it abandons itself to God to gain all from Him. It is then that God becomes the source of its life, not by means of ideas, lights, or reflexions, for all this is no longer anything to it but a source of illusion; but in reality, and by His grace, which is hidden under the strangest appearances.
The divine operation, unknown to the soul, communicates its virtue and substance by many
circumstances that the soul believes will be its destruction. There is no cure for this ignorance, it
must be allowed its course. God gives Himself therein, and with Himself, he gives all things in the
obscurity of faith. The soul is but a blind subject, or, in other words, it is like a sick person who
knows nothing of the properties of remedies and tastes only their bitterness. He often imagines that what is given him will be his death; the pain and weakness which result seem to justify his fears; nevertheless it is under the semblance of death that his health is restored, and he takes the medicines on the word of the physician. In the same way the submissive soul is in no way pre-occupied about its infirmities, except as regards obvious maladies which by their nature compel it to rest; and to
take suitable remedies. The languor and weakness of souls in the state of abandonment are only
illusory appearances which they ought to defy with confidence. God sends them, or permits them in order to give opportunities for the exercise of faith and abandonment which are the true remedies. Without paying the least attention to them, these souls should generously pursue their way, following by their actions and sufferings the order of God, making use without hesitation of the body as though it were a horse on hire, which is intended to be driven until it is worn out. This is better than thinking of health so much as to harm the soul.
A courageous spirit does much to maintain a feeble body, and one year of a life spent in so
noble and generous a manner is of more value than would be a century of care-taking and nervous fears. One ought to be able to show outwardly that one is in a state of grace and goodwill.
What is there to be afraid of in fulfilling the divine will?
The conduct of one who is upheld and sustained by it should show nothing exteriorly but what is heroic.
The terrifying experiences that have to be encountered are really nothing. They are only sent that life may be adorned with more glorious victories. T
he divine will involves the soul in troubles of every kind, where human prudence can
neither see nor imagine any outlet.
It then feels all its weakness, and, finding out its shortcomings,
The divine will then asserts itself in all its power to those who give themselves to
it without reserve.
It succours them more marvellously than the writers of fiction, in the fertility of
their imagination, unravel the intrigues and perils of their imaginary heroes, and bring them to a
With a much more admirable skill, and much more happily, does the divine will guide
the soul through deadly perils and monsters,
even through the fires of hell with their demons and sufferings.
It raises souls to the heights of heaven, and makes them the subjects of histories both
real and mystical, more beautiful, and more extraordinary than any invented by the vain imagination of man.
On then, my soul, through perils and monsters, guided and sustained by that mighty invisible
hand of divine Providence.
On, without fear, to the end, in peace and joy, and make all the incidents
of life occasions of fresh victories.
We march under His Standard, to fight and to conquer; “exivit
vincens ut vinceret”; “He went forth conquering that he might conquer” (Apocal. vi, 2).
As many steps as we take under His command will be the triumphs we gain.
The Holy Spirit of God writes in an open book this sacred history which is not yet finished, nor will be till the end of the world.
This history contains an account of the guidance and designs of God with regard to
It remains for us to figure in this history, and to continue the thread of it by the union of our
actions and sufferings with His will.
No! It is not to cause the loss of our souls that we have so
much to do, and to suffer; but that we may furnish matter for that holy writing
which is added to
day by day.
SECTION X.—We Must see God in all His Creatures.
In the state of abandonment the soul finds more light and strength, through submission to
the divine action, than all those possess who resist it through pride.
Of what use are the most sublime illuminations, the most divine revelations, if one has no love
for the will of God? It was because of this that Lucifer fell. The ruling of the divine action revealed to him by God, in showing him the mystery of the Incarnation, produced in him nothing but envy. On the other hand a simple soul, enlightened only by faith, can never tire of admiring, praising, and loving the order of God; of finding it not only in holy creatures, but even in the most irregular confusion and disorder. One grain of pure faith will give more light to a simple soul than Lucifer eceived in his highest intelligence. The devotion of the faithful soul to its obligations; its quiet submission to the intimate promptings of grace; its gentleness and humility towards everyone; are
of more value than the most profound insight into mysteries. If one regarded only the divine action
in all the pride and harshness of creatures, one would never treat them with anything but sweetness
and respect. Their roughness would never disturb the divine order, whatever course it might take.
One must only see in it the divine action, given and taken, as long as one is faithful in the practice
of sweetness and humility. It is best not to observe their way of proceeding, but always to walk
with firm steps in our own path. It is thus that by bending gently, cedars are broken, and rocks
overthrown. Who amongst creatures can resist a faithful, gentle, and humble soul? These are the
only arms to be taken if we wish to conquer all our enemies. Jesus Christ has placed them in our
hands that we may defend ourselves; there is nothing to fear if we know how to use them.
We must not be cowardly, but generous. This is the only disposition suitable to the instruments
All the works of God are sublime and marvellous; while one’s own actions, when they war
against God, cannot resist the divine action in one who is united to it by sweetness and humility.
Who is Lucifer? He is a pure spirit, and was the most enlightened of all pure spirits, but is now
at war with God and with His rule. The mystery of sin is merely the result of this conflict, which
manifests itself in every possible way. Lucifer, as much as in him lies, will leave no stone upturned
to destroy what God has made and ordered. Wherever he enters, there is the work of God defaced.
The more light, science, and capacity a person has, the more he is to be feared if he does not possess
a foundation of piety, which consists in being satisfied with God and His will. It is by a well-regulated
heart that one is united to the divine action; without this everything is purely natural, and generally,
in direct opposition to the divine order. God makes use only of the humble as His instruments.
Always contradicted by the proud, He yet makes use of them, like slaves, for the accomplishment
of His designs.
When I find a soul which does all for God alone, and in submission to His order, however
want ing it may be in all things else, I say “This is a soul with a great aptitude for serving God.”
The holy Virgin and St. Joseph were like this. All else without these qualities makes me fear. I amafraid to see in it the action of Lucifer. I remain on my guard, and shut myself up in my foundation of simplicity, in opposition to all this outward glitter which, by itself, is nothing to me but a bit of broken glass.