Friday, 19 April 2013

Garrigou-Lagrange on the Proof of Hope

The following is taken from Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's Three Ages of the Interior Life.



After various trials, hope, which has been greatly strengthened, surmounts all obstacles. According to St. Paul: "We. . . glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God. And not only so; but we glory also in tribulation, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience trial; and trial hope; and hope confoundeth not, because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us." (23)

Commenting on St. Paul's words, St. Thomas says: "St. Paul shows us first of all the grandeur of hope by the grandeur of the thing hoped for (that is, eternal life), then the power, the vehemence of hope. In fact, he who strongly hopes for something, willingly bears for that reason difficulties and bitterness. And therefore the sign that we have a strong hope in Christ is that we glory not only in the thought of future glory, but in our tribulations and the trials which we have to bear. 'Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.' (24) Moreover, the Apostle St. James says: 'My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience.' (25) And from the fact that a man bears tribulation patiently, he is rendered excellent, probatus. We read of the just in the Book of Wisdom: 'Though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality. Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace He hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust He hath received them.' (26) Thus trial causes hope to grow, and hope does not deceive us, for God does not abandon those who trust Him. 'No one hath hoped in the Lord, and hath been confounded.' (27) It is evident that the Lord will not refuse Himself to those who love Him, to those to whom He has already given His Son. . . . He has prepared eternal beatitude for those who love Him above all else." (28)

From what has just been said we perceive that, contrary to the opinion held by the quietists, in great trials, instead of sacrificing our desire of salvation, we must "hope against all hope" while loving God for Himself. Thus charity increases greatly; it becomes pure love which, far from destroying confidence, vivifies it.

Certainly these trials serve to purify hope of all self-love, of the desire of our own perfection, so far as it is ours. A servant of God who had desired to become a saint later expressed her desire under a less personal and more objective form: "Lord, may Your kingdom come more and more profoundly in me." She was happy not to have the reputation of being a saint, happy to be but little esteemed by those about her; she thus aspired truly to be always more closely united to our Lord, to be more loved by Him. Thus hope grew as it was being purified.

So Abraham, the father of believers, hoped, when he was tried and prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. He did not cease to believe that this child was the son of promise, that his posterity would be greatly blessed, "accounting that God is able to raise up even from the dead." (29)

St. Philip Neri used to pray: "I thank Thee with my whole heart, Lord God, that things do not go as I should like them to, but as Thou dost wish. It is better that they should go according to Thy way, which is better than mine."

St. Nicholas of Flue admirably expressed in a prayer the union of firmest hope and of pure love: "Lord, take from me all that hinders me from drawing near to Thee; give me all that will lead me to Thee. Take me from myself and give me entirely to Thyself." We can also say, as an expression of hope and pure love: "Give Thyself, Lord, entirely to me, that I may love Thee purely and forever."

As a practical conclusion, let us remember that in our lives there are two parallel series of daily facts: that of the outward events which succeed one another from morning to night, and that of the actual graces which are offered to us and even bestowed on us from moment to moment that we may draw from these occurrences, whether pleasurable or painful, the greatest spiritual profit. If we thought often of this fact, there would be realized increasingly in our lives St. Paul's statement: "To them that love God all things work together unto good," (30) even annoyances, rebuffs, and contradictions, which are so many occasions of lifting our hearts toward God in a spirit of faith and confidence in Him.

St. Francis de Sales says in his Second Conference on Hope: "Although we do not feel confidence in God, we must not fail to make acts of hope. Distrust of ourselves and of our own strength should be accompanied by humility and faith, which obtain the grace of confidence in God. The more unfortunate we are, the more we should have confidence in Him who sees our state, and who can come to our assistance. No one trusts in God without reaping the fruits of his hope. The soul should remain tranquil and rely on Him who can give the increase to what as been sown and planted. We must not cease to labor, but in toiling we must trust in God for the success of our works."


23. Rom. 5:2-5.
24. Acts 14:21.
25. Jas. 1:2f.
26. Wisd.3:4-6.
27. Ecclus. 2: 11.
28. Comm. in ep. ad. Rom., 5:2. For those who wish not only to distinguish but, as it were, to separate asceticism from mysticism, it is difficult to say, in reading the Epistles of St. Paul and the commentaries of the fathers and doctors, where asceticism ends and mysticism begins. In reality, mysticism commences when the superhuman mode of the gifts of the Holy Ghost begins to prevail, in particular of the gifts of understanding and wisdom: that is, when, under the special inspiration of the Holy Ghost, we penetrate and taste the mystery of faith: "Taste and see mat the Lord is sweet."
29. Heb. 11: 19.
30. Rom. 8:28.

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