Monday, January 12, 2015

Pressure vs. Cooperation

In common experience, we feel "under pressure" when the results of some effort depend upon us combined with the expectation of success in achieving the goal of that undertaking, whether these expectations are internal to us or external/social.

Feeling under pressure in the spiritual life is a sign of pride, a sign that the results of our progress depend principally upon our efforts. In contrast, cooperation with God removes pressure because we know that God provides a superabundance of means for our sanctification; hence any failure to achieve sanctity is not because God places an expectation without providing the means to achieve the goal, but because we failed to cooperate with those graces offered at every moment by our free resistance.

Hence as cooperation increases, pressure decreases. The Blessed Virgin was under no pressure when Gabriel extended the invitation to become the Mother of God; all the just souls of the past, the present, and the future waited on her response, united mystically to this moment every time they pray the Angelic Salutation. If the Blessed Virgin could, by means of an infused understanding from God, see this reality at the moment that Gabriel waited, the reality of all souls to be redeemed watching and waiting on the Blessed Virgin to give her fiat, she nevertheless would have felt absolutely no pressure to "make the right choice." Her only concern was to cooperate as perfectly as possible with God's will with the full humble knowledge that any positive acceptance of God's will would be provided totally by God's power, His grace not only allowing the cooperation but providing the condition by which her free will could even exercise itself without doing harm to its integrity.

Insofar as we believe that our salvation depends upon ourselves, we shall feel the pressure of perfectionism. Insofar as we believe that our salvation depends upon God and our simple cooperation, there is no pressure, no fear, only perfect love.

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