How we ought to receive Inspirations

Jun 27th, 2021 • 5 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 78:

Chapter XVIII.

How we ought to receive Inspirations

By inspirations are meant all attractions of grace, good movements of our hearts, reproaches and remorses of conscience, lights and conceptions which God excites in us, presenting our souls with his blessings, through his fatherly care and love, in order to awaken, stimulate, urge, and attract us to the practice of every virtue, to heavenly love, to good resolutions, and in a word, to everything that may help us on our way to eternal happiness.

This is what the Spouse of the Canticles calls, in mysterious language, knocking at the door, and speaking to the heart of his Spouse, awaking her when she sleeps, calling after her when she is absent, inviting her to gather fruits and flowers in his garden, to sing, and cause her sweet voice to sound in his ears.

That you may the more perfectly comprehend me, I must use a comparison. For the conclusion of a marriage three things are necessary : First, the intended husband is proposed to the lady; secondly, she entertains the proposition; thirdly, she gives her consent.

In like manner, when God intends doing in, by, or with us, some great act of grace, at first He proposes it by inspiration; secondly, we are pleased with it; and, thirdly, we give our full consent to it. For, as there are three steps whereby we descend to the commission of sin—temptation, delectation, and consent—so there are also three steps whereby we ascend to the practice of virtue—inspiration, which is the opposite of temptation; the pleasure conceived in the inspiration, which is the opposite of the delectation in the temptation; and the consent of the inspiration, which is the opposite of the consent given to the temptation.

Now, though the inspiration should continue during our whole life, yet we could not render ourselves pleasing to God if we took no pleasure in it: on the contrary, He would be offended with us, as He was with the Israelites, whose conversion He had been soliciting very nearly forty years (Ps, xlv.), during which time they would give no ear to Him; whereupon He swore in his wrath that they should never enter into his rest.

By the pleasure we take in inspirations, we not only show a disposition to glorify God, but begin already to please his Divine Majesty; for although this delight may not be a complete consent, yet it is a certain disposition towards it; and if it be a good sign to take pleasure in hearing the word of God, which is, as it were, an exterior inspiration, it must also, no doubt, be a good thing, and pleasing to God, to take delight in his internal inspiration. Of this kind of pleasure the sacred Spouse speaks (Cant. v. 6): “My soul was melted when my beloved spoke;” but she did not open the door to Him, and excused herself with some frivolous pretext. The Spouse therefore indignantly quitted her.

Resolve, then, Philothea, to accept with cordiality all the inspirations it shall please God to send you, and, when they come, receive them as ambassadors sent by the King of Heaven, who desires to enter into a contract of marriage with you. Attend calmly to his propositions; think of the love with which you are inspired, and cherish the holy inspirations; consent to them, but with an entire, loving, and permanent consent; for by this means God, who cannot be under any obligation to us, will, nevertheless, be greatly pleased with this faithful correspondence to his love.

But before you consent to inspirations in things that are of great importance, or that are out of the ordinary way, always consult your spiritual guide, lest you should be deceived; because the enemy, seeing a soul ready to consent to the inspirations, often proposes false ones to deceive her, which he can never do so long as she, with humility, obeys her director.

The consent being given, you must diligently procure the effects, and hasten to put the inspiration into execution, which is the height of true virtue: for, to have the consent within the heart, without producing effects, would be like planting a vine, and not intending that it should bring forth fruit.

Now, what contributes wonderfully to all this, is the practice of the morning exercise, and those spiritual retreats of the heart above recommended, as by these means we prepare ourselves to do what is good, not only by a general, but also by a particular preparation.

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