What Hinders Piety

Father Guibert remarks: “As the stone falls towards the centre of gravity, and as the compass points towards the magnetic pole, so the soul of man, as soon as it is free, takes its bearings towards God, and goes straight to Him by means of piety. It is, indeed, of importance to increase the power of the inward attraction that draws us towards God, but it is still more necessary to set our souls free from the ties that hinder our impulses and check our steps. . . . Do we really altogether mean to be pious? Then we must work for our deliverance.”

“What piety can you expect to find in a soul that is dissipated and engrossed in things external? . . . How often, perchance, has it happened to you to go out of yourself through curiosity! Your eyes, being open to all the sights around you, wanted to see everything, to feast to the full on every novelty, and to stop in front of every picture; your ears, eager to hear everything, listened to every tale, incited people to backbiting, if not to calumny, and became the receptacle of every rumour in the world around you; your steps were bent in the direction of ribald and frivolous company, and wherever it was impossible to reflect upon oneself. And, at the same time, in your vanity you tried to attract the attention of others, and, for this end, you displayed in your outward appearance and in your words all that could give you some personal merit; and hence, you were not at all anxious about having some real worth within, provided that you were able by some tawdry outward glitter to catch the eye. Lastly, your sensuous feeling was easily captured in the snare of vulgar pleasure and worldly attachments; you took to the world in order to get more enjoyments, and your heart became entangled in a net, the meshes of which it could not break through. And do you think that a soul, so far an absentee from itself, so fast a prisoner in a foreign land, can go to meet its God and run towards Him? No; for certainly, in such a state piety is impossible.”

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

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