Friday, February 17, 2006

Septuagesima Week. Chapter from "The Way that Leads to God" by the Abbe A. Saudreau. The love of self in good people continued.

52. The evil is still worse when it leads to human respect. We do not now refer to that human respect in which cowardice is carried to the length of neglecting the essential duties of a Christian life. That is rank idolatry, the worship of man's opinion taking the place of the worship of God. But we are speaking of that human respect which is to be found even amongst faithful souls, amongst those who ought to give an example of piety and generosity. They are willing to fulfil the necessary duties of their state; they can do so without incurring criticism, because everyone approves of their satisfying these grave obligations. They will also pray fervently in private, but to live in the pure spirit of the Gospel, to make profession of a love of humility, of mortifications and of a life of retirement, to shun superfluous conversation, to practice reserve and modesty in order that they may be the better able to live the interior life - this is to expose themselves to criticism, to risk being dubbed narrow-minded and scrupulous. They do not wish to offend lukewarm persons and to become the subject of their raillery.
53. He, who like St. Paul, rises above the judgment of men is indeed at peace. He does his duty, come what may; he works for God only. And as God requires of him conflict and not victory, he is sure of his reward. But he who is solicitous for his own glory, how he fears any check, how nervous he is, how he agitates and disturbs himself at the ideas of any humiliation! By these signs we know at once that this his intention is not pure, his zeal not unadultered. And want of success is his constant portion, because he who does not seek God's glory, he who puts his trust in his own strength, cannot count upon God's blessing. Ecce homo qui non posuit Deum adjutorem suum (Behold the man that made not God his Helper - Ps. Ii.9). God abandons him to his own resources; he fails, and failure, which is a test and a trial for the humble soul, is a chastisement for the proud. And then the real sentiments of the heart manifest themselves; his irritation, his bad humour, his bitter recriminations are a proof of disappointed vanity, and it is evident that there was as much self-seeking as care fro God's interests in his actions. How many works there are, excellent in appearance, but which are displeasing to God, and bear little or no fruit, because they are spoiled by the too human aims of those who are responsible for them.