The Three Ages of the Interior Life: Prelude of Eternal Life (Volume 1)

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9781484150870: The Three Ages of the Interior Life: Prelude of Eternal Life (Volume 1)

This is a two volume set. This is volume one. This is an excellent work on the spiritual life, useful not only for spiritual directors and confessors, but also for the lay person who wishes to learn more about the spiritual life. Along side Tanquerey's 'The Spiritual Life', this work should be on the book shelf of every Catholic school and in every parish. The practical advice contained on virtues and the gifts of the Holy Ghost are invaluable. And let us consider this on recognizing our predominant fault: “Evidently it is of primary importance that we recognize our pre-dominant fault and have no illusions about it. This is so much the more necessary as our adversary, the enemy of our soul, knows it quite well and makes use of it to stir up trouble in and about us. In the citadel of our interior life, which is defended by the different virtues, the predominant fault is the weak spot, undefended by the theological and moral virtues. The enemy of souls seeks exactly this easily vulnerable point in each one, and he finds it without difficulty. Therefore, we must recognize it also. But how can we discern it? For beginners who are sincere, this is quite easy. But later the predominant fault is less apparent, for it tries to hide itself and to put on the appearances of a virtue: pride clothes itself in the outward appearances of magnanimity, and pusillanimity seeks to cover itself with those of humility. Yet we must succeed in discerning the predominant fault, for if we do not know it, we cannot fight it, and if we do not fight it, we have no true interior life. That we may discern it, we must first of all ask God for light: "Lord, make me know the obstacles I more or less consciously place in the way of the working of Thy grace in me. Then give me the strength to rid myself of them, and, if I am negligent in doing so, do Thou deign to free me from them, though I should suffer greatly." After thus asking sincerely for light, we must make a serious examination. How? By asking ourselves: "Toward what do my most ordinary preoccupations tend, in the morning when I awake, or when I am alone? Where do my thoughts and desires go spontaneously?" We should keep in mind that the predominant fault, which easily commands all our passions, takes on the appearance of a virtue and, if it is not opposed, it may lead to impenitence. Judas fell into impenitence through avarice, which he did not will to dominate; it led him to impenitence like a violent wind that hurls a ship on the rocks. A second step in discerning the predominant fault, is to ask our-selves: "What is generally the cause or source of my sadness and joy? What is the general motive of my actions, the ordinary origin of my sins, especially when it is not a question of an accidental sin, but rather a succession of sins or a state of resistance to grace, notably when this resistance persists for several days and leads me to omit my exercises of piety?" Then we must seek sincerely to know the motive of the soul's refusal to return to the good. In addition, we must ask ourselves: "What does my director think of this? In his opinion, what is my predominant fault? He is a better judge than I am." No one, in fact, is a good judge in his own case; here self-love deceives us. Often our director has discovered this fault before we have; perhaps he has tried more than once to talk to us about it. Have we not sought to excuse ourselves? Excuses come promptly, for the predominant fault easily excites all our passions: it commands them as a master, and they obey instantly. Thus, wounded self-love immediately excites irony, anger, impatience. Moreover, when the predominant fault has taken root in us, it experiences a particular repugnance to being unmasked and fought, because it wishes to reign in us. This condition sometimes reaches such a point that, when our neighbor accuses us of this fault, we reply that we have many bad habits, but truly not the one mentioned.

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Rev R Garrigou Lagrange OP/ Brother Hermenegild TOSF
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