Disillusionment With Divine Things

Father Benson notes: “The next stage of Purgation lies in what may be called, in a sense, the Disillusionment with Divine things. The earthly side has failed her, or rather has fallen off from the reality; now it begins to seem to her as if the Divine side failed her too.”

“A brilliant phrase of Faber well describes one element in this Disillusionment—the ‘monotony of Piety.’ There comes a time sooner or later when not only do the external things of religion—music, art, liturgy—or the external things of earthly life—the companionship of friends, conversation, business relations—things which at the beginning of the Divine Friendship seemed radiant with Christ’s love—begin to wear thin; but the very heart and essence of them begin to fail also. For example, the actual exercise of prayer becomes wearisome; the thrill of meditation, so exquisite at first, when every meditation was a looking into the eyes of Jesus, begins to cease its vibrations. The sacraments . . . become wearisome and monotonous.”

“Or she sets her heart, let us say, on some grace or favour, some positive virtue which she knows it must be her Friend’s will to confer upon her; she prays, she agonizes, she strives, she pleads—and there is no voice nor any that answers. Her temptations are what they have ever been; her human nature, she perceives, after all is unchanged. She had thought that her newly formed friendship with Christ altered once and for all her old self, together with her relations with him; and, behold! she is the same as ever. . . . It seems that, after all, He is no more to her than He had been before she knew Him so intimately.”

So goes the second stage in a soul’s development, a necessary step on the way to her greatest happiness . . .

Quotations from Robert Hugh Benson, The Friendship of Christ (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912).

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