Disillusionment with Oneself

Continuing his instruction on the Way of Purgation, Father Benson states: “There follows, however, a third stage before the Way of Purgation is wholly passed. The soul has learned that external things are not Christ; that internal things are not Christ. She has become ‘disillusioned,’ first with the frame of the picture, and next with the picture itself, before she has reached the original. She now has to learn the last lesson of all, and become disillusioned with herself.”

“Up to now she has always retained a belief, however faint and humble, that there was something in herself, and of herself, that attracted Christ towards her. She has been at least tempted to think that Christ had failed her; now she has to learn that it is she who, all along, in spite of her childlike love, has been failing Christ; and this is at once the real essence and object of Purgation.”

“She begins then in this third stage to learn her own ignorance and her own sin, and to learn, too, that which ought to have been wholly incompatible with her ignorance and her sin—her amazing self-centredness and complacency. Up to now she has thought to possess Christ, to hold Him as a lover and a friend, to grasp Him and to keep Him. Her previous mistakes came from this very thing; now she has to learn that not only must she relinquish all that is not Christ, but she must relinquish Christ—leave, that is to say, her energetic hold on Him, and be content, instead, to be altogether held and supported by Him. . . . Now she faces the fact that Christ must do all, that she can do nothing without Him, that she has no power at all except what He gives her.”

She begins to see the problem: it is “not so much that she has done or not done this or that, that she has grasped at this or that,” but that “she has sought to possess, not to be possessed” by Christ.

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

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