The Four Foundations
of Sanctity: Page 3
by SAINT JOHN EUDES
Your only right to live on earth is to continue the holy and perfect life of your Head, Christ.
Now there are FOUR things which you must frequently consider and adore in Christ's earthly life, FOUR things which you must try, as far as possible, with the help of His grace, to express and carry on in your life, because they are the FOUR foundations of Christian piety and sanctity.
Without them it is not possible to be a true Christian. Hence it becomes necessary to discuss, at this point, each one in particular.
They are: FAITH, HATRED OF SIN, DETACHMENT and PRAYER
THE FIRST FOUNDATION OF SANCTITY: FAITH
Nature of Faith
The first foundation of the Christian life is Faith. St. Paul declares that if you would go to God and have access to His Divine majesty, the first step you must take is to believe; for "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11, 6). Faith is the substance and foundation of the things hoped for (Heb. 11, 1).
It is the cornerstone of the Kingdom of Christ.
It is a Divine and celestial light, a participation in the eternal, inaccessible light, a beam radiating from the face of God.
To speak in accordance with Scripture, faith is, as it were, a Divine character by which the light of the countenance of God is imprinted upon the soul (Ps. 4, 7).
It is a communication and a kind of projection of the Divine light and knowledge which were infused into the holy soul of Jesus at the moment of His Incarnation.
It is the science of salvation, the science of the Saints, the science of God, which Jesus Christ drew forth from the bosom of His Father and brought down to you on earth, to dispel your shadows, to enlighten your heart, to give you the knowledge necessary for the perfect love and service of God, to submit and subject your mind to His truths which He still teaches you both through Himself and by Holy Mother Church.
By faith you can fulfill
By faith you can express, continue and fulfill in yourself the submission, docility, the voluntary and undarkened subjection, with which His human mind regarded the lights imparted and the truths taught to Him by His Heavenly Father.
Faith, then, being given to you by God, is a continuation and fulfillment of the loving and most perfect submission of the human mind of Jesus Christ to the truths revealed to Him by His Eternal Father.
It is by this light that you possess perfect knowledge
It is by this light and this Divine science that you possess perfect knowledge, so far as it is possible in this life, of all things whether in God or not in God.
Reason and human science often lead you into error because they are too weak and limited to penetrate to the knowledge of the things of God, which are infinite and incomprehensible.
Human intelligence and knowledge also deceive you, because they are too full of the darkness and obscurity of sin to attain to a genuine knowledge even of things outside of God.
But the light of faith, being a participation in the truth and light of God, cannot possibly deceive you; indeed, it shows you things as God sees them, that is, in their truth, and just as they exist in the eyes of God.
With the eyes of faith, you will see Him just as He is.
Consequently, if you contemplate God with the eyes of faith, you will see Him just as He is and, in a certain manner, face to face.
Although it is true that faith is accompanied by obscurity and permits you to behold God, not clearly as He is seen in Heaven but as through a cloud, darkly, nevertheless, faith does not debase His supreme greatness to fit the capacity of your minds, as does science.
Faith penetrates His shadows and His darkness, and goes straight to the infinity of His perfections, making you know Him as He is, infinite in His Being and in all His Divine perfections.
Faith lets you know that everything that is in God and in Jesus Christ, God and Man, is infinitely great and admirable, infinitely adorable and lovable, infinitely worthy of adoration, glory and love for His Own sake.
Faith shows you that God is true in His words and unfailing in His promises; that He is all goodness and gentleness and love towards those who seek Him and put their trust in Him, but that He is nothing but terror and severity towards those who abandon Him, and that it is frightful to fall into the hands of His justice.
Faith gives a most certain knowledge that Divine Providence directs and guides all things that happen in the universe, with great holiness and wisdom, in fact, in the best way possible.
His disposal of all things deserves to be infinitely adored and loved by all creatures that are subject to His order, whether in justice or in mercy, in Heaven on earth or in Hell.
If you look at God's Church in the light of faith
If you look at God's Church in the light of faith, you will see that as Jesus Christ is her Head and the Holy Ghost her Guide, it is not possible for her to wander from the truth in anything, nor to stray away into falsehoods.
Also everything she teaches is infallibly true, and you must be ready to die a thousand times rather than to diverge, even in the slightest degree, from her inspired truth.
If you look at yourselves
If you look at yourselves and all the things in the world by the light of faith, you will see most clearly that you are, of yourself, only nothingness, sin and abomination, and that everything in the world is nothing but smoke, vanity, and illusion.
This is the way to look at everything: not in the vanity of the senses, nor with the eyes of flesh and blood, nor with the short-sighted and deceptive view of reason and human science, but in the truth of God and with the eyes of Jesus Christ, that is, with that Divine light which He drew forth from His Father's bosom, by which He beholds and knows all things, the light He has communicated to you that you might see and know all things as He sees and knows them.
FAITH Should be Your Guide in all Your Actions
You must perform all your acts . . .
Just as you must consider all things in the light of faith if you would truly know them, so also you must perform all your acts under the guidance of the same light, if you would do them in a holy manner.
As God is led by His Divine wisdom, and the Angels by their angelic intelligence, and men deprived of the light of faith by reason, and men of the world by worldly maxims, and voluptuaries by their sense, so Christians must direct themselves by the same light that directs their head, Jesus Christ, that is, by faith, which is a participation in the knowledge and the light of Christ.
Study the Divine Science of Faith
So you must try, by every means, to study the Divine science of faith and never to undertake anything except under its guidance. To that end, at the inception of your every act, especially your more important actions, place yourself at the feet of the Son of God and adore Him as the author of faith and its fulfillment, as the One Who is the true light, enlightening every man that comes into this world.
Admit that of yourself you are but darkness
Admit that of yourself you are but darkness, and that all the light of reason, science and even of human experience is often but obscurity and illusion, in which you can place no confidence.
Renounce the prudence of the flesh and the wisdom of the world.
Ask Jesus to destroy them in you, as His enemies, and not to let you obey their laws, their views or their maxims, but that He may enlighten you with His heavenly light and guide you by His Divine wisdom.
Beg Him to make known what is most pleasing to Him, and to give you grace and strength to cling firmly to His words and promises, and to close your ears resolutely to all opinions and persuasions of human prudence; that you may courageously prefer the maxims of faith which He taught you by His Gospel and His Church, rather than the reasoning and arguments of men who base their conduct on the standards of the world.
A chapter of the life of Jesus every day
To this end, it would be a very good thing to read each day on your knees, either in Latin or in English, a chapter of the life of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, so as to learn the life Jesus led, and, through the consideration of His acts, His virtues, and His words, to become familiar with the rules and maxims upon which He based His conduct, and upon which He wishes you to base yours.
Christian prudence consists in renouncing the maxims of the world, in calling upon the spirit of Christ to enlighten you, to guide you by His maxims, and to lead you in accordance with His truths, His actions and His virtues. This is what is meant by basing one's conduct upon the spirit of faith.