Friday, July 27, 2007

Today I will resume posting fragments of the fascinating book entitled "In the silence of Mary" - presenting life of Mother Mary of Jesus, Carmelite Prioress and Foundress 1851-1942. In Chapter 4 of this book, we continue to follow young Sister Mary of Jesus spiritual development and growing intimacy with God - described mostly in her own words. "In the Hands of the Living God" - fragments of chapter 4, part 5.

Humility and distrust of self made her feel keenly the lack of detailed direction. Left alone in the darkness and the unknown, her only security was fidelity and the sanction set upon it all by obedience and the decision of those in authority. She shows a desire to have everything explained on a strict doctrinal basis. There are questions about grace. 'I would like to know your definition'. And about the presence of God in the soul...she asks for a good, solid book of theology, and explains: 'When God has given infused knowledge of some truth, then the theological definition, the simple statement of that truth becomes luminous for the soul, and it is good for it to meet again. This explains why the soul often finds so much in what others find dry'. During her year of novitiate she had been given the works of St John of the Cross, and had found his enlightened teaching and clear-out, precise language an untold help. As her own state of soul become more and more unusual, she found an ever increasing support in his explanations. Yet, even here, she learned the truth of the saint's own maxim: 'Lean on nothing that is not God'. Round about the end of this second period, she writes: 'St John of the Cross makes me rejoice and inflames my soul. But God is now giving me a wholly passive prayer to which I should surrender....He showed me that I ought not to have wanted to enjoy reading St John of the Cross at a time when He was making me know his doctrine be experience'.
In this and in many other ways, a constant mortification was asked of her. With regard to physical suffering, one quoteation may serve. 'When my head is terrible and it seems as if a live coal were burning it, I have the simplicity to think that it is a prayer, an act of love'. The ordinary daily mortification of religious life is glimpsed in a tiny note. 'His severity fo my meals. I am not sufficiently faithful to His intimations and His lessons, though He makes me feel sure that it is He'. As for her interior sufferings, she admits time and again what it cost her to lead life of inaction, to die utterly to everything that nature could cling to or to make its own, to restrain all personal activity in order to act solemnly under obedience of God. 'These imperceptible halts to follow and watch the Holy Spirit acting in (my) soul......make it die', she wrote once. She accuses herself of infidelity in 'lingering sometimes over pleasant thoughts and memories, in not cutting short the thoughts and wanderings of my mind'; but the very accusation reveals the extent of the renunciation she was asked in this matter. In all her suffering, whether of soul or mind or body, her anser was to 'plunge with all the strength of my will into the purification that God imposed'.

Links to previous posts:
"I will be His alone" chapter 2 part 1
"I will be His alone" chapter 2 part 2
"Carmelite Heritage" chapter 3 part 1
"Carmelite Seed-Time" Chapter 3 part 2
"Carmelite Seed-Time" Chapter 3 part 3
"Carmelite Seed-Time" Chapter 3 part 3 continued
"In the Hands of the living God" Chapter 4 part 1
"In the hands of the living God" Chapter 4 part 2
"In the hands of the living God" Chapter 4 part 3
"In the hands of the living God" Chapter 4 part 4