Preserving Life Through Piety

Father Guibert notes that the fruit of a pious life is not confined within the soul. Rather, “it reveals itself outwardly, as inevitably as the rising sap in spring is revealed in the buds of plants. . . . Owing to the action of this interior life behaviour is leavened with modesty and self-control, the character becomes more gentle and even, speech is permeated with supernatural charity, the hands engage in works of zeal and devotion, and the whole man abandons himself to the inspiration of grace.”

“In Saints who abandon themselves to its sway, it rises daily ever higher and higher. Whether it be St. Francis of Sales or St. Vincent de Paul, St. Theresa or St. John of the Cross, whether they live unknown under the shadow of a monastery or lost amidst the crowd of a busy world, they attain to striking or humble sanctity by means of the cultivation of this life of piety. Their faith gains vitality, and they go to the invisible God with as much certainty as if they saw Him with their eyes. Their love, too, becomes more ardent, and, in the ecstasy of possessing their God, their tenderness of feeling participates in their joy, their breast expands, and their heart swells and beats more strongly. The will, too, as if healed of every weakness, endures suffering with cheerfulness and undertakes work with zeal. . . . They take good care not to let their mind and imagination wander abroad, and thus they put a stop to vain thoughts and disturbing fancies, which only create disorder in the inner man. And at the same time they have a holy hunger for spiritual nourishment; they love pious reading, and gather from it the bread of faith; then they assimilate this spiritual food by means of meditation.”

“But, on the other hand, how many souls, alas! afford the sad spectacle of a progressive falling off! . . . The beginning was full of fervour and facility; as long as there was a relish for the things of God, as long as piety required no effort, it was easy to be lulled by it. But soon sensible enjoyment disappeared, and the first enthusiasm wore off; to advance necessitated continual effort, and the toil became wearisome. Spiritual idleness began within; the external exercises went on, though the inner life was sinking. . . . Then comes the stage of suppressing the external exercises, because they have come to be a burden. . . . It is strange that, as the love of life is so deeply rooted in man’s heart, he is so careless about preserving and promoting it.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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