Piety Energizes the Will – Part 2 of 2

St John the Evangelist by Bernardo Cavallino

Father Guibert continues his discussion of the four conditions that awaken certain feelings in the human soul, feelings which move the human will to action.

Concerning the third condition, an interior movement which occurs in the soul, he remarks: “Piety is not satisfied with barren contemplation. As soon as it has brought us face to face with some important truth, it insists on our comparing our moral state with our ideal. This examination of conscience produces confusion and yearning, never discouragement. Then prayer rises up—ardent prayer which is an impulse of the whole being towards the good, a panting aspiration towards God.”

As for the fourth condition, external influences, he explains how piety carefully arranges these influences. Piety “creates about us, by means of all the signs that it brings to our notice, an atmosphere of warmth and comfort. By the reading it suggests to us, by the instruction to which it compels us, by the personal admonitions and influences that it procures for us, it fastens our attention, provokes our activity, and even stimulates our sensibility. So many rays focussed from every side on the centre of our souls raise its heat to the point at which it becomes a powerful energy in the hands of the will.”

“Considered thus, piety already realizes the human conditions in which the will is stirred. However human these conditions may be, they are none the less a grace from God, for, in giving us His grace, God means, first of all, to make us act according to the requirements of our nature. But His grace goes further still: it is a help which is fundamentally imperceptible by human observation, and known only by means of Christian faith. This grace prepares the act of will by the supernatural light that it imparts; it determines it by the force that it communicates to it; and it carries it to completion by means of the divine gift of perseverance. This grace is the fruit of piety, for God gives it to whosoever asks for it in prayer, and to whosoever is in the proper disposition to receive it through recollection and mortification.”

“Piety is, then, for the will, the best source of its energy, and since it is the will, above all, that gives man his value, piety is for him of inestimable price.”

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

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