On Self Abandonment

If you would fully comprehend the meaning of self-abandonment, recall the interior difficulty which you felt, and which you very naturally testified when I directed you always to count as nothing this self which is so dear to us.

To abandon one’s self is to count one’s self as nothing; and he who has perceived the difficulty of doing it, has already learned what that renunciation is, which so revolts our nature.

Since you have felt the blow, it is evident that it has fallen upon the sore spot in your heart; let the all-powerful hand of God work in you as he well knows how, to tear you from yourself.

The origin of our trouble is, that we love ourselves with a blind passion that amounts to idolatry.

However little we may have looked within to study the occasions of our pleasure and our grief, we shall have no difficulty in admitting that pride, as it is more or less delicate, has various tastes. But give it what taste you will, it is still pride; like Lucifer, it would become like to the Most High.

We may be sure, then, that it is the love of God only that can make us come out of self.

There is no middle course; we must refer everything either to God or to self; if to self, we have no other God than self;

if to God, we are then in order, and regarding ourselves only as one among the other creatures of God, without selfish interests, and with a single eye to accomplish his will, we enter into that self-abandonment which you desire so earnestly to understand.

Remember that we must not only renounce evil, but also good things; for Jesus has said, “Whatsoever he be of you that forsaketh not all he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke xiv. 33.); in short, he must be ready to give them all up whenever it is the will of Providence to deprive him of them.

God is a jealous God; if, in the recesses of your soul, you are attached to any creature, your heart is not worthy of Him.

We feel towards our understanding, our wisdom, and our virtue, as a young and worldly woman feels towards her beauty. We take pleasure in them; it gives us a satisfaction to feel that we are wise, moderate, and preserved from the excitement which we see in others; we are intoxicated with the pleasure of not being intoxicated with pleasure; we renounce with courageous moderation the most flattering temptations of the world, and content us with the satisfaction derived from a conviction of our self-control.

What a dangerous state! What a subtle poison! How recreant are you to God, if you yield your heart to this refinement of self-love! You must renounce all satisfaction and all natural complacency in your own wisdom and virtue.

Your good will is no less a gift of God’s mercy, than the life and being which you receive direct from his hands. Live, as it were, on trust; all that is in you, and all that you are, is only loaned you; make use of it according to the will of Him who lends it, but never regard it for a moment as your own.

Self-abandonment is not accomplished by means of painful reflections and continual struggles; it is only by refraining from self-contemplation, and from desiring to master ourselves in our own way, that we lose ourselves in God.

The Inner Life – Francois Fenelon


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