DIRECTORY FOR THE FOURTH BOOK
1. The purpose of the Fourth Book is, to teach the soul how to unite herself with God her Saviour. This is effected by Divine love. Now, this whole Book treats of the Divine love, its causes, its effects, its various ways. These things, if looked, into at their very source, if considered in the very Heart of Jesus,-----loving, that we may return His love; burning that we may melt; uniting Himself with us that we may unite ourselves with Him, must needs ravish our hearts, melt us wholly, so as to become, in some manner, one with Him.
2. This life of Divine union, which is the most perfect and the most blissful portion of the interior life, is not to be so understood as if the souls that live this life ought no longer to perform any exercise pertaining to the purificative or the illuminative life. The practices of these three sorts of lives are never, on this earth, altogether separated. So long as you live, to whatsoever degree of the Divine union you may have attained, you shall always have something to do, in order to cleanse the heart more perfectly, or to preserve it pure; you shall always have to practice virtue, either by doing or by suffering.
But this life is to be so understood, that the soul,-----when duly cleansed, and sufficiently adorned with genuine and solid virtues, acquired by generous acts of self-abnegation, lives in intimacy with Jesus her God,-----enjoying a certain holy, mutual, and unspeakable familiarity with Him, relishes what He relishes, wills what He wills, dislikes what He dislikes, occupies herself, meanwhile, for the most part, with those exercises, those acts, by which this union is fostered and consolidated; although, sometimes, through love, rather than any other motive, she performs such things as belong to the purifying of the interior, or the practicing of virtues. In like manner, souls,-----that labor for the most part to purify themselves interiorly, or apply themselves, for the most part, to acquire solidly true virtues,-----are said to lead the life of purification or of illumination, according as they occupy themselves commonly with the one or the other, even if they perform, at the same time, many practices, which properly belong to other parts of the
And these things are to be carefully attended to, lest a person fall into a delusion, here particularly full of danger. Wherefore, unless he is willing to be deceived, and to imperil himself, let no mortal ever think that he has not to labor any further; that he has no longer anything to accomplish. Above all, let no one ever believe that he has no longer anything to fear; that he may freely expose himself to danger, under this or the like pretense, that he is not moved by any created object, or that he seeks or wills naught except God. By such a delusion they themselves, who were distinguished by the name of sanctity, and the glory of martyrdom, and glittered like stars in the firmament, have shamefully fallen into the abyss. From this same source of presumption other delusions flow; such as, to neglect one's duties, or other signs of God's Will, for the sake of quietly reposing amid the delights of Divine favor; to seek rather the gifts of the Lord than the Lord Himself; to desire things which are extraordinary.
3. When, therefore; you are in this part, you ought to direct everything to this, that you do ever more and more love Jesus, your God and Saviour, and that you do, by the purest love, unite yourself intimately with Him. Now, this love is obtained by considering His countless favors, the ineffable workings of the love of His Heart, His stupendous and most delightful promises; lastly, all the good things which He prepares for you in time. and in eternity: by contemplating His most lovely and infinite perfections, on account of which alone He is most worthy of all possible love: finally, by prayer, by visits in person or in spirit to the most Blessed Sacrament, by dealing devotedly and fervently with Him in holy Communion.
4. The method of using this book may be one of the four laid down before the First and Second Books. Of these, each one may here follow that method which he believes more useful for himself, according to the state of his soul; and which he will so apply to the matter here proposed, as to secure the object of this Book.
However, it should be carefully noticed, as in others, so especially in this part of the interior life, that it is by no means proper so to adhere to a settled manner or method, that you do not suffer yourself to be guided by heavenly grace, or by the Spirit of God, who is accustomed frequently,-----particularly with regard to souls that, purified and illumined, take pains to unite themselves wholly with God,-----to pass by every mode or method, to leave off almost all processes of reasoning, to enrapture the heart, to raise it up into His admirable light, and to affect it in an unutterable manner.
The affections, to which it is here proper to give yourself up, and the acts which you ought to excite, are chiefly these:
Of gratitude, or of thanksgiving for the gifts and graces granted to yourself and to others: yea, also, for the glory, the beatitude, and the perfection of the Lord our God; as the Church teaches us by her example, when she says: We thank Thee for Thy Own great glory.
Of joy, on account of His mercy, His liberality, His love toward yourself, and all other creatures: on account of His perfections in themselves; on account of His honor, and blissfulness, and joy.
Of confidence in the goodness of His Heart, in His care, in His Providence.
Of admiration, on account of the magnitude and the multitude of the blessings bestowed upon yourself and others, the works of Divine love, His infinite perfections.
Of praise, so as to extol His marvelous works, now alone by yourself, now in union with the Church; again by inviting all creatures, and again by associating yourself with the Saints and Angels in Heaven.
Of zeal, for His honor and glory, and for the salvation and perfection of souls, for His sake.
Of humility, so as to remember and acknowledge that you are worthless, but that God is generous, since He pours out for you the treasures of His Heart.
Of filial love, whereby you are filled with a holy dread of offending the Lord; whereby you lovingly grieve for the offenses with which His Heart has been saddened by yourself and others.
Of pure love, whereby you give, surrender, and sacrifice yourself and all you possess, to Him; whereby you conform yourself in all things to His Will and good pleasure; whereby, finally, you live uniform, completely united with Him.
But these and other acts, as elsewhere, so especially are they here to be made in such a manner, that, so long as you can usefully occupy yourself with one, you do by no means pass over to another; but continue to entertain yourself sweetly and devoutly with the same, until either the time of prayer is past, or the Spirit of grace leads you to others; but if, whilst you endeavor affectionately and quietly to adhere to one act or affection, you find that you can no longer apply yourself to it, pass over to some other, suggested either by the wants of your soul, your own devotion, or the Spirit of grace.
Lastly, suffer yourself freely to be led by the Spirit of the Lord to whatever is good, whether to meditation, or to contemplation; to deal with Him by means of the affections, or to repose in His presence; to hold converse with Him, or to hearken to Him; to ask or to give. Neither use any efforts to remain actually conscious of your occupations in prayer.
5. The rules, which do properly belong here, for the discernment of spirits, inasmuch as they are quite nice and delicate, must be well learnt and understood, so that they may be applied with profit. The Saints teach us the following:
The first. There is a twofold Divine union, with a consummation of the same: the first is called active; the second, passive union.
The active union consists in the perfect uniformity of our will with the Divine Will. This is the whole perfection of Divine love. Through this union the sentiments of the Heart of Jesus are our sentiments, the Spirit of Jesus is our spirit, the life of Jesus our life. Hence, sweetly united with Jesus, we enjoy Him constantly, and we are truly made blissful.
The passive union, on the other hand, consists in this, that, by the abundance of light and love poured in, the faculties are suspended; so that the memory does not remember, the intellect does not think, the will does not love, except the Lord God; the whole soul being so absorbed by the Divine object, that she does not perceive this state of suspension. This union, replenished with marvelous and most delightful gifts, is, generally, each time of short duration, nor is it wont to last an hour. Hence, during the intervals, the soul should be occupied and content with the active union.
Everyone may attain to the active union by faithfulness to the grace which is given him; but no human industry-----the Divine goodness alone-----can raise the soul to the passive union.
The consummation of the Divine union consists in this, that the soul united with the Lord, is, in some manner, so transformed into the Divine object of her love, that, the faculties being neither suspended nor impeded, she herself, habitually, placidly, and sweetly enjoys her Lord; being wholly, in a wonderful and delightful manner, absorbed as it were, in Him, and, nevertheless, exceedingly well-disposed both to action and to contemplation.
The second. It is a safer way to long and seek after the active union, rather than the passive, or the things which are sometimes vouchsafed in the passive, such as visions, revelations, and similar communications. It may happen that souls that live in the active union, have much more merit than those to whom the passive union is granted; because they do and endure greater and more generous things for the Lord, and they are satisfied, according to the Divine good pleasure, to be deprived of those consolations,-----given to others, but not to themselves, in the present life,-----which they will receive when more sweetly and more abundantly bestowed in the life to come.
The third. Let the soul, in order to move and incite herself to do and bear great and noble things for the Lord, acknowledge and confess that she has received and does receive many and great things from the Lord; not that she may deem herself better than others, but that she may serve Him with more generosity and perfection. Wherefore, let her reject, as coming not from the good but from the evil spirit, every thought, every emotion, which, under any pretense whatever, leads her to complaints about her misery, to dejection of heart, or pusillanimousness.
The fourth. Whatsoever outpourings of the divine goodness the soul may receive, howsoever intimately she may be united with God, how much soever she may even be made perfect in the Supreme Good, she ought ever to remember that she is not impeccable, but that she may still perish,-----unless she be faithful to the Lord. And, therefore, the more and the greater favors she receives, the more humble it behooves her to be, and the more purely should she love God. Hence, if she be moved to rely upon the long duration of her virtuous life, or the firmness of her good resolves, or the solidity of her virtue, in order to expose herself to dangers, let her know that she is moved by the evil, not the good Spirit.
The fifth. Matters which lead or call you away from the Catholic faith,-----such as some instigations and communications,-----should be carefully and powerfully rejected, as the effects of the evil spirit. Those, on the contrary, which are consistent with the Catholic faith, and serve to unite the soul with her Lord and God, may be received with humble thankfulness, as fruits of the good Spirit; and they may even be asked humbly and resignedly, with the intention that the soul may increase in the love of God, and become more perfectly united with Him.
The sixth. When it is known that, by means of the communications received, the soul becomes more and more dead to herself, is animated with desire of greater perfection, and advances in the love of God, it is a sign that they come from the good Spirit. But when it is perceived that, in consequence of these communications, the soul becomes inclined to gratify corrupt nature, or loses the hunger and thirst after greater perfection, or that with a sort of stubbornness she wants to defend or hold the communications as Divine, although the director of her conscience does not believe so, or is in doubt about it, it is a sign that they come from the evil spirit.
The seventh. The soul should not desire visions or revelations, nor place her perfection and sanctity in having them. Let her remember that, through them, several have been deceived and have fallen into the greatest danger. If she experiences a longing after them, let her believe, without a doubt, that it has been suggested or excited by the evil spirit, and let her check and expel the same.
The eighth. The more eagerly extraordinary things of this kind are coveted, the greater danger they present, that the soul may be deluded, and led away from the true path of sanctity, which Jesus-----the meek and humble of Heart-----has indicated, and which the Saints follow.
-------ST. IGNAT. ST. ALPHONSUS BLBSSED MARGARET MARY.