Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fr. Antonio Royo Marin on Attachments and Discernment

We should consider frequently that the Holy Ghost dwells within us through sanctifying grace. If we were able to detach ourselves completely from all earthly things and withdraw to the silence and recollection of our own interior, we would undoubtedly hear the voice of God speaking within us. This is not a question of an extraordinary grace; it would be something completely normal and ordinary in a Christian life that is lived fully. Why then do we not hear the voice of the Holy Ghost? In the first place, because of our habitual dissipation. God is within us, but we live outside ourselves. The interior man, as Thomas à Kempis says, is recollected very quickly because he never diffuses himself completely to the exterior. The Holy Spirit himself says that he will lead us to solitude and will speak there to our hearts (cf. Hos 2:14).

God could speak to us in the depths of our souls and be heard above the noise of our distractions and attachments, but he does not choose to impose himself nor to take form us our own initiative. Consequently, God is not heard amidst the noise and distractions of a sensate soul. If he finds that a soul is occupied with many other earthly things, he stands at the door and waits. He does not force himself upon the soul; he does not enter if he is not wanted. And even if the soul is in the state of grace and enjoys the indwelling of the Trinity, God's presence is silent and hidden until the soul itself turns to him with love and attention.

Another reason why we do not hear the voice of God within us is our own sensuality [NB: the author here means sensuality literally as our physicality and our giving ourselves to physical things]. We are flesh and bone, and unless we are careful we shall have a taste only for the external and sensate things. The animal man, says St. Paul, does not perceive the things of the Spirit of God (cf. 1 Cor 2:14). For that reason it is absolutely indispensable that we cultivate and preserve a spirit of mortification. The sensate man does not hear the voice of God; indeed, one of the first things that is lost by the person who gives himself over to the things of the world, and especially to sensual delight, is a taste for prayer and the things of God.

The third reason why we do not hear the voice of God is our own disordered affection. So weakened is human nature as a result of original sin that, even in seeking God, a man may deceive himself and actually seek himself. It is not at all unusual to find persons who are externally very pious and observant in their religious duties, but inwardly filled with egoism and self-complacency. The disorderliness of our affection is readily seen when it is a question of the passions of love and the bodily instincts, but we should not forget that the will itself can easily deviate from God and seek self as the object of love. Christ warned his followers several times that it is impossible to love God and a creature on the same level of love; one must necessarily be subordinated to the other. He likewise warned that he did not want a lukewarm and tepid love, but that he would vomit it out of his mouth.

It is easy to see, therefore, why those who seek themselves first, and even subordinate God to themselves, hear only the voice of their own desires, while God remains silent. It follows that we must detach ourselves from every created affection and subordinate all things, including ourselves, to the God who dwells within us.


Source: Fr. Antonio Royo Marín, The Theology of Christian Perfection, trans. by Jordan Aumann (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2011), 582-584.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments ad hominem or deemed offensive by the moderator will be subject to immediate deletion.