Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The following piece by Fenelon is a caution regarding the mystical pursuit that can lead to illusion. He takes a cautions approach without denying the reality, and offers a test where one can be sure a gift is from God or from our imagination. Most people I know that have experienced the extraordinary blessings, were open to receiving, but were taken by surprise when they arrived because at the time of visitation they were not seeking. So his advice, though conservative, is not in oppostion because --" such detachment will not hinder them from leaving their marks upon the soul;"
“I cannot pretend to form any opinions as to your sincerity or to judge of the things you profess to experience. Generally speaking, I should fear that reading about extraordinary spiritual matters tends to affect weak imaginations to excess.
Moreover, self-love easily flatters itself that it has attained the altitudes which it has admired in books. It seems to me that the only course in such a case is to take no notice of such things. I advise you never to dwell voluntarily on such “extraordinary experiences.” This is the real way of discovering how much self-conceit has to do with these supposed gifts. Nothing tends so much to pique self-conceit, and bring illusions to light, as a simple direction to set aside the marvelous, and to require a person who aspires to the marvelous to act as though nothing of the sort existed. Without such a test, I do not think a person can be proved thoroughly, and without it I do not think due caution has been taken against illusion.

The Blessed John of the Cross advises souls to look beyond such light, and to abide in the twilight of simple faith. If the gifts be real, such detachment will not hinder them from leaving their marks upon the soul; if not, such uncompromising faith will be a sure guarantee against illusion. Moreover, such a line will not keep a soul back from God’s true leadings, for there is no opposition. It can only vex self-conceit, which finds a hidden complacency in such unusual gifts; and that self-conceit is the very thing which needs pruning. Or even if such gifts are unquestionably real and good, it is most important to learn detachment from them, and to live by simple faith. However excellent the gifts may be, detachment from them is better still. “And yet show I you a more excellent way” – the way of faith and love; not clinging either to sight, feeling, or taste – only to obedience to the Beloved One. Such a way is simple, real, straightforward, free from the snares of pride.”


Anonymous said...

Excellent! How sad it is that godly men today are still arguing over this very issue and getting blown so far off course because of their confusion about experience vs. faith. New denominations have been created (down through the churches history) in order to feed the "self-conceit" and others have been created becuase they are so fearful of "experience" that they end up erring on the other side and squelch the Spirit of God among their people.

Great, great post.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred :)

Very interesting and enlightening post.

Thanks for sharing.

Best wishes :)

FCB said...

Hi Anon,
Thanks for your comments, it is so easy to be "blown so far off course"; and it can be so confusing and that's why I like this sound counsel. But we have no fear that God will not bring us to the safe waters, He is so faithful.
God Bless.

Hi Joseph, thanks for your comments as well, I really like Fenelon and also think he is interesting.
Bless you and yours,