Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Interior Life

Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange—who played a prominent role in the group around Jacques and Raissa Maritain, two influential evangelical Catholics who set in motion much of the reemergence of the devotion and study of St. Thomas Aquinas—wrote a two volume work, The Three Ages of the Interior Life which is a sure guide for the teaching of advanced souls, as this excerpt reveals.

“In these questions [of spirituality] we have followed particularly three doctors of the Church who have treated these matters, each from his own point of view: St. Thomas [Aquinas], St. John of the Cross, and St. Francis de Sales. In the light of the theological principles of St. Thomas, we have tried to grasp what is most traditional in the mystical doctrine of The Dark Night by St. John of the Cross and in the Treatise on the Love of God by St. Francis de Sales.

“We have thus found a confirmation of what we believe to be the truth about the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith, which seems to us more and more to be in the normal way of sanctity and to be morally necessary to the full perfection of Christian life. In certain advanced souls, this infused contemplation does not yet appear as a habitual state, but from time to time as a transitory act, which in the interval remains more or less latent, although it throws its light on their entire life. However, if these souls are generous, docile to the Holy Ghost, faithful to prayer and to continual interior recollection, their faith becomes increasingly contemplative, penetrating, and full of savor, and it directs their action while making it ever more fruitful. In this sense, we maintain and we explain what seems to us the traditional teaching, which is more and more accepted today: namely, that the normal prelude of the vision of heaven, the infused contemplation of the mysteries of faith, is, by docility to the Holy Ghost, prayer, and the cross, accessible to all fervent souls.” (p. vi)