Piety Is a Kind of Life

Father Guibert remarks: “Activity in the living creature is subject to innumerable vicissitudes. It may increase in intensity, and its progress is brought out clearly by the manifestation of its happy effects; it may diminish so as to vanish altogether, and its manifestations then become less and less marked, until they disappear in death. To maintain itself and to grow, it must be nourished by borrowing from outside; and, since it wastes by its own action, it would perish if it were not renewed by the assimilation of external elements.”

“Piety is a kind of life because it is, in the soul, analogous to the activity that is found in living creatures; it affords the same advantages, and is subject to the same exigencies. . . . Piety is a true interior activity, since it sets in motion all the faculties of the soul, and since it overflows externally in the fruits that are the product of its fecundity.”

“First of all, the mind is brought into play, being enlightened by the splendours of faith. Having been awakened with regard to God, it fixes its attention upon Him, and advances daily in the knowledge of His infinite Being, until its thought cannot be torn away from an object of never-ending self-revelation. This happy intimacy withdraws the mind from the disturbing appearances of mean and changing things, and sustains it in an atmosphere of pure truth with which God Himself surrounds it.”

“And, then, immediately follows the heart with its increased treasures of activity. Under the spell of truth and beauty, it is carried away by the impulse of love, and repeats the word of St. Augustine: ‘O Beauty, ever ancient and ever fresh, too late have I known thee, too late have I loved thee!’ This thrill of the heart leads on to union with the God of our love, and then, an ineffable intimacy between the Creator and His humble creature is set up in the depths of the soul. Whoever has felt the love of God knows by experience with what a lofty activity it enriches the heart.”

“The will, in turn, receives an increase of activity from the fact that God fills the soul with His strength. It is conscious of possessing a power for action that nature alone could not impart; and, under the influence of grace called forth in it by piety, it makes decisions more boldly, sets to work with a more vigorous hand, does not shrink from painful sacrifices, and is better equipped for the fulfilment of duty. Through piety the soul is manifestly strengthened by the presence of a Being higher than itself.”

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

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