Father Geiermann discusses how God purifies the minds of His faithful servants: “The intellectual faculties are the mind and will. Truth is the object of the former, goodness of the latter. As a result of original and actual sin the mind is darkened by ignorance, prejudice, error, and spiritual blindness, in consequence of which it adopts false principles, is fickle, curious, rash, and obstinate. As a result of the same cause the will inclines inordinately to riches, comforts, pleasures, relatives, friends, honors, self-esteem, self-will, and self-love, instead of seeking the Infinite Good in all things. The passive purification of the intellectual faculties consists in the grace of God removing these effects of sin and in uniting the faculties to God, the Eternal Truth and Infinite Good. This is accomplished by the light and strength of actual grace being concentrated on these faculties in a way that enables a sincere mind and good will to rid themselves of their defects.”
Signs of this purification are “(1) the presence of a spiritual sweetness and delight as long as the soul is not conscious of sin or serious imperfection; (2) an ardent desire of spiritual progress, which has protected the soul against deliberate faults for a long time; (3) and a spirit of recollection and love for God.”
Five salutary effects of this purification are “(1) it gives the soul a clear, humble, penitent knowledge of herself; (2) it fosters a continual recollection of God’s presence; (3) it stimulates the soul in eradicating defects and in cultivating virtue; (4) it stimulates her love for God by giving the soul a clearer knowledge of His infinite goodness, and of His condescending love and mercy; (5) it makes the soul self-possessed, quiet, and strong in the service of God.”
Some temptations during this purification come from human nature, which tempts the soul to slacken its pace. Other temptations come from the devil, for God allows most of His elect to be tempted in order to purify them and increase their merit. Additionally, God may prolong the trial by depriving the intellectual faculties of consolation and permitting them to continue in aridity, anxiety, and darkness. “Though the soul is intimately united to God by His grace, like the Saviour on the cross, she receives no perceptible light or strength from this union.” St. Bernard advises such to rest assured that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13).
Quotations from Peter Geiermann, The Narrow Way (New York: Benziger, 1914).