Blind Stirring And Christian Perfection - Fordham Scholarship
As described by St. Teresa, acquired recollection is truly the perfection of In the New Testament Christ is the model of the contemplative life as He is of the. call to perfection. The Christian life is founded on charity of which there are two kinds. of God for Himself. The chapter concludes that perfect love cannot be had without the gift of contemplation. Print publication date: Print ISBN- The Three Ages of the Interior Life: Prelude of Eternal Life is a book written by French of Garrigou Lagrange's earlier works, Christian Perfection and Contemplation (Perfection chrétienne et The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Online text.
Teresa is infused recollection, though Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD, maintains that the first degree is the prayer of quiet, and the infused recollection is simply a prayer of transition. Infused recollection is followed by the prayer of quiet, in which the will is captivated, though there may still be some distractions because the intellect remains somewhat free cf. The Way of Perfection ch. The soul then advances to the prayer of union, which admits of the following grades: Prior to the prayer of union the soul usually experiences a sleep of the faculties, which some authors place as a distinct degree of prayer e.
Mary Magdalen while others list it as an effect of the prayer of quiet e. In the first degree of the prayer of union the imagination and memory are captivated; in the prayer of ecstatic union the external faculties are alienated to such an extent that ecstasy is a concomitant phenomenon see ecstasy.
In the prayer of transforming union the soul is completely surrendered to God and enjoys a quasi-permanent union in love and confirmation in grace cf. Interior Castle, Seventh Mansions, ch. Perhaps more than any other mystical theologian St. John of the Cross has interwoven scriptural proofs and examples throughout all his writings.
Among the Fathers of the Church, Origen and St.
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Augustine are noteworthy in defending the existence of contemplation in the Prophets of the Old Testament see Patrologia Graeca, ed. Moreover, it would not be difficult to find examples of contemplative or mystical experience in such Old Testament figures as Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others see J.
Doctrine et histoire, ed. In the New Testament Christ is the model of the contemplative life as He is of the active life. In His sacred humanity He enjoyed the beatific vision throughout his earthly sojourn, though the effects were withheld see Summa theologiae 3a, 9. His personal prayer was evidently contemplative and in His teaching He encouraged souls to the perfection of prayer, as when He praised Mary for choosing the better part.
In His last discourse at the Last Supper He spoke of the union between Himself and the Father and He promised a similar union between the Father and His faithful followers, promising to send them the Sanctifier. After Christ, perhaps the greatest witness to contemplation in the New Testament is St. Paulwhose conversion was initiated with a vision in ecstasy on the road to Damascus. Most apostolic of men, he was at once a profound contemplative and progressed throughout his life to the highest degrees of prayer, as he bears witness in his Epistles.
He is also the great preacher of charity, with St. Among the Fathers and theologians the names of gregory of nyssa, pseu do-dionysius, augustine, cassian, gregory the great, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas are outstanding in the theology of contemplation.
Thomas contemplation is an operation of either the intellectual habit of wisdom or the gift of the Holy Spirit by the same name. Natural contemplation admits of two types: Some maintain that he admits a further distinction of theological contemplation into the purely speculative and the affective see Summa theologiae 2a2ae, Mystical or infused contemplation is distinguished from natural contemplation by the fact that the former is an operation of infused wisdom and the experience is quasi connatural cf.
In Dion de div. Like Albert the Great and Gregory the Great, he is careful to insist that there can be no immediate experience of God as He is; but infused contemplation terminates in God Himself, for it is a knowledge of the object present as present cf. Summa theologiae 2a2ae, Like others before him, he favors the example of the sense of taste to describe the delight of contemplation, though the notion of connaturality seems to be borrowed from Aristotle.
Since mystical contemplation is an operation of wisdom, it is permeated with charity, of which wisdom is the perfection Summa theologiae 2a2ae, The gift of understanding serves to purify the intellect, but God ever remains transcendent In 3 Sent.
Thomas nowhere describes the grades of contemplation as does St. Teresa of Avilabut he treats of the height of contemplation and follows the doctrine of Gregory the Great in so doing. Like John of the Cross and Pseudo-Dionysius, he refers also to negative contemplation, per viam remotionis. Until the 16th century it seems that St. Bonaventure had the greatest influence on the theology of contemplation, but since that time the doctrine of St.
Thomas has been more influential. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross are recognized in the universal Church as great masters in the theology of the spiritual life, and Teresa is undoubtedly the greater of the two on the doctrine of prayer. Her approach is more experimental than speculative, more descriptive than deductive. Neither she nor St. John were concerned with the distinction between acquired and infused contemplation, and the earliest Carmelites understood their teaching in terms of infused contemplation.
They defined contemplation as a loving knowledge of God that could ultimately reach the transforming union or mystical marriage Dark Night 2. The distinction of acquired and infused contemplation was introduced into the Carmelite school by Thomas of Jesus, who defined acquired contemplation as a loving knowledge, free of discursus and obtained by one's own efforts De contemplatione divina 2: Later, Joseph of the Holy Spirit stressed the superhuman mode of activity in infused contemplation Catena mistica prop.
John of the Cross had spoken of an affirmative, distinct contemplation and a negative, obscure contemplation, and he divided contemplation into the purgative, illuminative, and unitive stages, thus accommodating it to his doctrine on the passive nights of the senses and of the spirit.
He also referred to an imperfect and a perfect contemplation, depending on the degree of passivity in the soul. For John of the Cross, contemplation is an operation of the supernatural infused virtues of faith and charity and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and in perfect contemplation there are substantial touches and a high degree of illumination. The contemplation itself is a "passive actuation" of the faculties of the soul through faith, charity, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit; it is also connatural, but not to the extent that contemplation is necessary or even normal in the proper sense of the word.
According to Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, the Carmelite school maintains that contemplation is not strictly necessary for sanctity but it is usually associated with a high degree of sanctity. The teaching of Thomas Aquinas on the infused supernatural virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the active and contemplative life is the doctrinal foundation for the Dominican school. In general the Dominicans with the exception of Vallgornera have always rejected the term "acquired contemplation" because they restrict the word "contemplation" to an infused type of prayer that operates through the virtues of faith and charity and the gifts of understanding and wisdom.
Some, however, admit an intermediate stage between meditation and strictly infused contemplation, still predominantly acquired or active but with a latent influence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit Garrigou-Lagrange, Christian Perfection and Contemplation —; Royo-Aumann, The Theology of Christian Perfection — Infused contemplation is defined as a loving knowledge of God that proceeds from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; its immediate eliciting principle is faith, informed by charity and perfected by the gifts of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge Royo-Aumann, op.
Mystical contemplation can be produced only by the operation of the Holy Spirit and this explains the note of passivity as well as its distinction from acquired forms of prayer. For the Dominican school, donal activity is of the essence of contemplation and the mystical state, though all donal activity need not be contemplative in nature J. Maritain, "Une question sur la vie mystique et la contemplation," La Vie spirituelle 7 — Infused contemplation does not require infused ideas, but infused light; charisms or gratiae gratis datae are not required, for the donal activity suffices; there is no immediate perception of the divine essence but a quasi-experimental knowledge of God as present through His operations.
All souls are called to contemplation by at least a general and remote call, for each soul in grace possesses the virtues and gifts that are the immediate principles of contemplation; the passive purifications of the soul necessarily involve contemplation; the beatific vision is the goal of man's life and hence on Earth contemplation is the perfection of faith informed by charity. His spiritual doctrine is overshadowed by and directed to Christ, and souls are brought to the perfection of the Christian life by observance of the commandments and love of Christ.
The discourse of Christ at the Last Supper is the compendium of Christian teaching on contemplation and the mystical life cf. With John duns scotus, Bonaventure states that Christ is the primary object of all the divine decrees and is the final cause of the divine economy and creation, so that man has a connatural desire for Christ, through whom he obtains an existential contact with God L.
Berardini, La nozione del soppranaturale nell'antica schola francescana [Rome ] Through this same desire man has a psychological orientation to God and to contemplation, and the eye of contemplation, which is distinct from the eye of the body or that of the reason, can see God as He is.
On the affective side, he also lists three powers, of which one provides the loving ecstasy, though Bonaventure speaks of contemplation as "excessive knowledge," meaning that the intellect is raised above itself through grace and the gifts Quaestiones disp. Prior to contemplation, God can be experienced as a universal presence, but through grace the soul receives the indwelling of the Trinity and the infused virtues and gifts.
The theological virtues are directed to the Trinity ; the gifts are directed to evangelical perfection and contemplation. Perfection consists in the operation of the gifts of understanding and wisdom and this is to become transformed into Christ Breviloquium 5. Grace is not a static, but a dynamic, element In 2 sent. Contemplation is the progressive manifestation of Christ, as promised at the Last Supper, and eventually the soul has an experience of the Trinity in and through Christ.
Formally, contemplation is love, affective intuition, and contact, and because it is love, it is immediate, experimental, and existential. It does not give new knowledge of God, but a taste of God, and thus contemplation becomes "excessive love"; since it is an experience of the Trinity in and through Christ, it should rightly be called "Christian experience" rather than mystical experience.
For Bonaventure, contemplation is infused because it is Christ working in the soul, though the immediate principles are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. After the 17th century a number of Franciscans adopted the distinction between acquired and infused contemplation J.
There is no rigid Ignatian teaching on contemplation but there is a common characteristic among Jesuits in this regard, e. The early Jesuits followed the doctrine of various theologians and masters who had preceded them and for that reason it is difficult to speak of an Ignatian "school. The principle of operation in contemplation is faith, though it is a loving gaze and therefore involves the will and charity, which accounts for the passivity of contemplation.
The gifts operate but they have no special function in contemplation and they do not give a superior mode to the activity of the infused virtues. Contemplation is unconditionally and absolutely gratuitous, a special grace, so that it is not essential for salvation, nor can it be the result of one's own preparation. Therefore, it is relatively rare and when given it is an activity of the intellect Maurice de la Taille or of both intellect and will J. Yet there is an acquired contemplation for which one can prepare through faith, charity, and purification.
This point of doctrine stems from the 17th century, under the influence of the Carmelites, who introduced that distinction. Acquired contemplation is an intermediate state between the ascetical and the mystical or at most the summit of the ascetical state.
Augustine and Thomas did not definitively rule out the possibility of a direct and immediate vision of the divine essence in contemplation.
Since infused contemplation is extraordinary, there are two ways to perfection—the ascetical and the mystical—and hence contemplation is not required for perfection, all souls are not called to infused contemplation, and a soul can be a mystic without being a contemplative.
Though the monastic life is centered chiefly on the interior perfection of the monk, relatively few Benedictines have treated explicitly of contemplation and the mystical state. Paul, "use this world as if they used it not.
Full text of "Garrigou-Lagrange (English)"
From what we have said of the spiritual organism of the virtues and the gifts, we see that the full perfection of Christian life requires all the infused virtues connected with charity and also the acquired moral virtues which give the extrinsic facility of producing supernatural acts by removing the obstacles. It also requires the seven gifts, which, as we have seen, are connected with charity 6 and which consequently grow with it. Hence they are normally in a degree commensurate with that of this virtue.
We should, moreover, remember that normally the charity of the perfect ought to be greater and more intense than that of beginners and proficients, although accidentally a very generous beginner, called to become a great saint, may have a loftier charity than one of the perfect.
From the natural point of view, there are in the same way little prodigies. The various ages of the spiritual life must be judged by what constitutes them as a rule, and not by an exceptional case. Normally greater vigor is required for adult age than for childhood; the same is true in the spiritual order.
No one can be perfect without having, through the gift of understanding, a certain penetration of the mysteries of faith, and without having the gift of wisdom in a degree proportionate to charity, although this gift is found in some saints under a more clearly contemplative form and in others under a form more directed to action, to the apostolate, and to the works of mercy, as it was in St.
Vincent de Paul who always saw in the poor the suffering members of our Lord.
THE THREE AGES OF THE INTERIOR LIFE
Of this plenitude of the virtues and gifts, charity is the bond, to use the expression of St. Paul, "the bond of perfection. Moreover, we can truly say with St. Thomas that perfection consists especially in charity, and principally in the love of God, although it necessarily demands also the other virtues and the seven gifts. Thus, although the human body is of the essence of man, his essence is constituted especially by the rational soul, which distinguishes man from the animal.
Evidently the state of grace and the charity of beginners do not suffice to constitute perfection, properly so called, but only perfection in the broad sense, which excludes mortal sin. One must then grow in charity to reach the spiritual age of the perfect. To attain it we need abnegation, a great docility to the Holy Ghost through the exercise of the seven gifts, and the generous acceptance of the crosses or purifications which should destroy egoism and self-love and definitely assure the uncontested primacy of the love of God, of an ever more radiant charity.
Paul tells us about them, and then from St. John of the Cross, a doctor of the Church who has most profoundly studied this question of the purifications of the soul. If the Church proposes his teaching to us as that of a master, it is especially that we may gather from this teaching what is of primary importance in it. We shall, moreover, find in it a great light by which to distinguish the three ages of the spiritual life: We should not forget the loftiness of Christian perfection, considered in its normal plenitude or its integrity.
Paul contemplated it when he wrote to the Philippians: Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect; but I follow after, if I may by any means apprehend, wherein I am also apprehended by Christ Jesus. I do not count myself to have apprehended. But one thing I do: Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded. Let us also continue in the same rule.
For many walk, of whom I have told you often. But our conversation is in heaven. So stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. Paul presents here a perfection that is not merely Platonic or Aristotelian, but Christian in the full sense of the word. Paul proposes not only to himself as the apostle of Christ, but to the Philippians to whom he writes, and to all of us, to all who will be nourished by his epistles until the end of the world.
Such perfection evidently requires a great purification of the soul and an unusual degree of docility to the Holy Ghost. It has been said that St. Thomas Aquinas wrote little about the purifications of the soul. Such a statement disregards what he wrote in his commentaries on the Epistles of St.
Paul and the Gospel of St. John, when, carried away by the word of God, he rises toward the summits of the spiritual life which the great mystics love to describe. One should read in particular what he wrote on the third chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians, which we have just quoted, about the desire to know Christ intimately and to be admitted to share in His sufferings, at least in order not to lose our crosses, in order to become conformable to Him, and to save souls with Him.
Thomas wrote on these words of Christ that are recorded by St. Every branch that beareth fruit, He will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Thomas writes on this subject: He purifies them by sending them tribulations and permitting temptations in the midst of which they show themselves more generous and stronger. No one is so pure in this life that he no longer needs to be more and more purified. John of the Cross spoke at great length. We are concerned here with what is required to attain the summit of the normal development of charity.
When we use the term "summit," we must not forget the word "normal"; and inversely, when we use the word "normal," we should not forget the word "summit.
Because the generality of Christian souls do not here on earth actually reach the stage of living in an almost continual union with God, we should not declare that this union is beyond the summit of the normal development of charity.
We should not confound what ought to be or should be with what actually is: In a society which is declining and returning to paganism, a number take as their rule of conduct, not duty, the obligatory good, which would demand too great effort in an environment where everything leads one to descend, but the lesser evil. They follow the current according to the law of the least effort. Not only do they tolerate this lesser evil, but they do it, and frequently they support it with their recommendations in order to keep their positions.
They claim that they thus avoid a greater evil which others would do in their place if, ceasing to please, they should lose their situation or their command.
And so saying, instead of helping others to reascend they assist them in descending, trying only to moderate the fall. How many statesmen and politicians have come to this pass! A somewhat similar condition exists in the spiritual life.
At this point we are seeking to learn what should be the full normal development of charity, and not the level which this virtue as a general rule actually reaches in good Christians. To achieve our end, we must remember that the fundamental law of the normal development of charity is quite different from that of our fallen nature. While our nature, in so far as it remains wounded even after baptism, inclines us to weaken and to descend, grace, which regenerates us progressively, ever leads us to ascend and should finally "spring forth into eternal life" according to the words of Christ.
There is in our lives a light and shade that is at times striking. Paul often speaks of it when he opposes the flesh to the spirit, the light of God to the shades of death which would like to recapture us: For the flesh which here stands for wounded nature lusteth against the spirit: The love of God, which is in us, is still far from being victorious over all egoism, all self-love. A profound purification is then necessary; not only that which we must impose on ourselves, and which is called mortification, but that which God imposes when, according to Christ's expression, He wishes to prune, to trim the branches of the vine, that they may bring forth more fruit.
John of the Cross has shown this admirably. At the beginning of the prologue of The Ascent of Mount Carmel he writes: