Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Deception of Natural Happiness

St. Peter Julian Eymard
I have been reading a book of sermons preached by St. Pierre Julian Eymard.

And normally, I glean quotations from such readings to add to my quotations blog, The Catholic Breadbox.

However, I read a passage that was much too long to be considered a mere quotation.

This is from a retreat he is preaching to the nuns of the order he founded.

Keeping in mind that he is speaking to nuns, I think that there is a lot here is that is useful for average people.

We don't talk enough of the supernatural life.

" Our life is in heaven. " God unceasingly gives us this grace. The Sacraments of the Church are only to increase and renew it. But do you know that, environed by graces, living in a holy state, laboring much, we may, notwithstanding, act only naturally? In that case, we are dong nothing for the glory of God, and gaining nothing for heaven. Oh! that is a frightful power we possess of corrupting the grace of God and of performing the best works through ourselves and in a natural manner, instead of doing them through Him and through His grace.

Those that live in the most pious surroundings fall so much the more easily into this defect, for they are blinded by appearances. What deceives, what abuses, what brings on the change, and keeps them in the natural life, is that they taste more joy in it, find more peace in the good works that they perform ia the natural spirit, by following their own inclination, than in those they do supernaturally. This satisfaction deceives many souls. They look upon it as an approval from God, but what a deception! Do we not see many Christians who are in a state of sin owing to the omission of essential duties, who do not confess, do not make their Easter, and yet who are tranquil and happy? They have preserved some Christian habits, they say their prayers, go to Mass, fulfill very well the duties of their state. They are in peace, they are happy. But remorse? — They do not feel it, and that is the reward for the natural good they do, but a natural recompense, also. It is the peace of the Jews, the happiness of time. They are deceived by it, and are astonished wheh some one speaks to them of conversion. You are not in that state. But only see how such persons' happiness in what they do, is subject to illusion. When after performing some act, you are carried away by natural joy, very frequently you may say: "Oh this is my reward, for I have nothing more to expect in heaven! "

To work from a natural motive, is to gather into a pierced sack that can hold nothing.

But what, then, is it to live naturally? It is to labor for self, to be the end of one's actions, instead of doing them for God. It is to act by the movement of one's own inclination, of one's own self-love, to seek self, our own rest, our own natural advantage in what we do.

You are natural if you are sensual in mind, seeking to satisfy its curiosity; in your heart, if you seek to pour it out, to rest in the affection of the creature, or even it you allow yourself to be dejected when God withdraws from you His consolations; in your body, if you allow yourself to become indolent and to seek after repose. You are natural if you do not accept the states in which God places you, dryness, temptations, sufferings; if instead of accepting them patiently, you say with impatience: "Oh. I wish I were happy!"

Fear this natural life!— What I you have left the riches and pleasures of the world to give yourself to God and now you would have the secret of losing all by laboring for yourself alone?

Our poor Ego is the root of the natural life. It is self-love that wants to be its own end and to enjoy whatever it does. No, follow Our Lord and bear His Cross. He who bears his Cross does not enjoy.