Monday, March 31, 2014

Fr. Victorino Osende on Detachment from All Things and Union with God

In order to assimilate and make the divine gifts his own, therefore, man must cooperate with the action of God; in other words, he must be faithful to grace and second its impulse in order to be capable of enjoying the divine life in its plenitude.

How does one accomplish this? By self-denial and detachment from all that is not of God. A great spiritual master (Tauler) has well said: Perfection does not consist in doing great things, but in allowing God to be great within us. That is, it consists in making room for God, in giving Him the greatest possible space in our heart. This is done precisely by fostering the action of grace without offering any resistance (for grace itself inclines and impels us to it), letting ourselves be led by this supernatural movement and cooperating with it as much as we can. [...] Nothing so enlarges the heart and increases its capacity to love as does suffering.

It is not enough that a heart be divested of all if that "all" is of little worth. It must be a total and complete despoliation of all the goods which we esteem highly and whose surrender will wound us in the innermost depths of our soul and tear at the very roots of our heart. That is why in the purification of souls God inspires profound and ardent affections and afterwards exacts their renunciation. Moreover, the more intensely and profoundly He wishes to purify a soul and the higher the degree of sanctity to which He wishes to elevate it, the more occasion does He give it for self-renunciation and suffering.

Thus, He first exacts the renunciation of the love of the base pleasures of this world, then the love of life and health, then the more elevated love of parents, relatives, friends, and perhaps even of country. Afterwards comes the renunciation of moral goods such as the love of renown and the desire to be respected and loved; then the spiritual values in their endless gradation. To this end God sends sicknesses, humiliations, temptations, desolations, fears, and, in short, the whole series of interior sufferings which St. John of the Cross calls the "dark night of the soul." He does this in order to give the soul a realization of the vanity of all temporal things and to inspire it to practice mortification and penance. However, it is not necessary that a soul undergo each of these sufferings in particular; all do not need the same purgation because all do not have to be purged of the same defects, vices, and attachments. But what is necessary for all, however innocent they may be, is the martyrdom of love. The Blessed Virgin herself, though pure and immaculate, had to suffer this martyrdom, and with a greater intensity than all the saints together.


Source: Fr. Victorino Osende, Fruits of Contemplation, trans. by a Dominican Sister of the Perpetual Rosary (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1963), 72-73.

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