The Interior Life of Piety

Father Guibert notes that piety manifests its activity in an inward manner both in principle and in its effects, for “it has for its end the transfiguration of the very faculties of the soul.”

Piety “begins and puts the crown on its work in the inmost recesses of the soul. The mind gathers together all its powers of attention and fixes upon God the twofold gaze of knowledge and faith, so as to be enlightened with His light and fascinated by His glories. . . . The heart, once gained, is carried away with love and repentance and prayer, and with all the feelings that the memory of the past or the apprehension of the future can arouse.”

“External influences help you to find Him, only because they bid you go thither where you are least often to be found, there where He is ever waiting for you—in the depths of your own heart. ‘The kingdom of God is within you,’ says Jesus. Hence, it is there that the meeting between your soul and God must take place.”

“You have an interior life of union with God. . . . If this interior life is wanting in you, in the holiest exercises you experience no feeling. Then, you are not pious; your manner of life may give you the outward appearances of piety, but you get no results from it.”

“Nevertheless, beware of thinking that piety requires an uninterrupted strain of mind and heart. However supernatural it may be, it is also human, and consequently within the range of men’s capacities. It is not inconsistent with inevitable distraction of mind, with being engrossed in study and in business entanglements, with the dryness and distaste engendered by custom. Simple souls, with only a glimmer of interior activity, do not lose it on that account.”

“Among the simple, piety sometimes appears to be wanting, since they are scarcely aware of the outlines of the interior life. But make no mistake, for there are naive and uncultured souls in whom piety attains the very highest degree. They have not the complexity of thought and feeling of those who are better educated, but their very ignorance of the things of earth enables them to fix their gaze in all its intensity on God and on the mysteries of Christ; they bring to bear upon them a mind and heart less divided, and they are less unstable, less disturbed, more filled with consolation and more faithful.”

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

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