Piety Energizes the Will – Part 1 of 2

In the previous post, Father Guibert suggested that an effective way to move the human will to action is to awaken and enkindle certain feelings in the soul. He enumerates four conditions that awaken these feelings: “recollection, which makes its appeal to all the powers of the soul and keeps them under control within; the contemplation of some powerful truth, which is capable of moving the heart by the continuous action of its illumination; the interior impulse by which the soul stirs itself up and urges itself to action; and, lastly, the external influences that blow upon the fuel within and stir it into flame.” Moreover, the assistance which piety gives to the will “realizes the conditions in which feeling takes its rise.”

Concerning the first condition, recollection, he states: “Recollection is required to begin with; but this is just the first law of piety. Piety is incompatible with distraction of mind. It bids man withdraw as much as possible from the sounds and preoccupations of the world; it invites him to enter into himself. . . . However busy he may be, he ought to have hours set apart in which he will belong to none but God and himself.”

Concerning the second condition, the continued contemplation of some powerful truth, he explains: “Piety demands, during the times for recollection, meditation on religious truths. . . . Whether these truths appear in their living reality in the lives of the Saints or in the mysteries of Christ, whether they be manifested as a revelation of our destiny or as a code of moral obligation, they never leave us dead and cold. Reason, no doubt, is not without urgent considerations; but religious motives are always still greater, more universal, and stamped with a higher authority. The convictions that flow from them, revived and renewed daily by piety, pass into the state of habit; they keep the heart at its full strength, and, hence, feeling gains a really active power in the soul. Can anyone fall into idleness, for instance, if several times a day he comes face to face with the truth that God has created him for action, and that, if he wastes his time, he is wasting his life, both in this world and for eternity?”

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

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