SPIRITUAL FORMATION: Of Abandonment To God by François de Lamothe-Fénelon

Of Abandonment To God by François de Lamothe-Fénelon

From The Maxims of the Saints

Writers often speak of abandonment.  The term has a meaning somewhat specific.  The soul in this state does not renounce everything, and thus become brutish in its indifference; but renounces everything except God’s will.

Souls in the state of abandonment not only forsake outward things, but, what is still more important, forsake themselves.

Abandonment, or self-renunciation, is not the renunciation of faith or of love or of anything else, except selfishness.

The state of abandonment, or entire self-renunciation, is generally attended, and perhaps we may say carried out and perfected, by temptations more or less severe.  We cannot well know whether we have renounced ourselves except by being tried on those very points to which our self-renunciation, either real or supposed, relates.  One of the severest inward trials is that by which we are taken off from all inward sensible supports and are made to live and walk by faith alone.  Pious and holy men who have been the subjects of inward crucifixion often refer to the trials which have been experienced by them.  They sometimes speak of them as a sort of inward and terrible purgatory.  “Only mad and wicked men,” says Cardinal Bona, “will deny the existence of these remarkable experiences, attested as they are by men of the most venerable virtue, who speak only of what they have known in themselves.”

Trials are not always of the same duration.  The more cheerfully and faithfully we give ourselves to God, to be smitten in any and all of our idols, whenever and wherever he chooses, the shorter will be the work.  God makes us to suffer no longer than he sees to be necessary for us.

We should not be premature in concluding that inward crucifixion is complete, and our abandonment to God is without any reservation whatever.  The act of consecration, which is a sort of incipient step, may be sincere; but the reality of the consecration can be known only when God has applied the appropriate tests.  The trial will show whether we are wholly the Lord’s.  Those who prematurely draw the conclusion that they are so expose themselves to great illusion and injury.

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