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I WANT

TO SEE

GOD

I WANT

TO SEE

GOD

P. Marie -Eugène, O.C.D.

A Practical Synthesis of

Carmelite Spirituality

Translated by

Sister M. Verda Clare, C.S.C.

CHRISTIAN CLASSICS, INC.

Westminster, Md.

NIHIL OBSTAT

Rev. Albert Schlitzer, C.S.C, S.T.D.

University of Notre Dame

IMPRIMATUR

+ John F. Noll, D.D.,

Bishop of Fort Wayne, Indiana

Copyright © 1953 by

The FIDES Publishers Association 21 W. Superior Street, Chicago, IL

Reprinted with the permission of

FIDES/Qaretian, Notre Dame, ID

by Christian Qassics, Inc.

Westminster, MD

Reprint edition, 1978

Manufactured in the United States of America

by McGregor and Werner, Inc. Washington, D.C.

To Mari| Immaculate Queen^ under two of Iter earliest and

latest

titles

în

tlie

CliurcViy

Our Motlier of Sorrows and

Our

tUis

Ladij

of

Mount Carmel,

translation

is

offered^

wîtli a su[>|)riant's [>raijer tltat

site maij use ît as an instrument

to draw mani| souls în our countri)

into the intimaci| of a deejper love

of Iter Son^ our Lord Jesus Clirist.

A Word on how

this book came to be

What one can expect to find in this book, / Want to See God, and in another that will follow it under the title, / Am a

Daughter of the Church, will be made clear by a word on the

way they came to be.

About fifteen years ago a group, in which were several pro-

fessors from secondary schools and universities, came to our

monastery solitude to ask for the science of Carmelite prayer. Hesitations, objections, even refusal, disclosed our embarrass-

ment in the face of so simple a request. Delicate persuasions became increasingly pressing; there was nothing to do but yield.

A generous offer of hospitality, later rewarded by a divine

call to complete dedication, made it possible to organize a

course on prayer in the large town nearby. The conferences, seven or eight a year, drew a choice gathering. These were

followed by a half-hour of prayer which in turn gave way to

private conversations and a general exchange of views.

ODntact with the members of the group soon made it evident

that it was less a matter of satisfying legitimate intellectual

curiosity on a subject of current importance, than of throwing light on a spiritual experience that was becoming conscious of

itself and urging souls to enter more profoundly into the life

of God. Vigorous and brilliant as some of these minds were,

this interior experience aroused in them little concern about the

speculative problems of dogma or of spiritual theology that

were being discussed in the reviewsa fact that may at first seem surprisingbut rather, it created a marked taste for a practical teaching, for the simple but authentic testimony of a doctrine as it was being lived.

These manifest desires for an enlightened interior life led us back to the teaching of the great masters of the reformed Gir- mel just as they gave it, illumined by a sublime personal ex-

vii

viii

A WORD ON HOW THIS BOOK CAME TO BE

perience of God and a marvelous psychological penetration of

souls, based on a theological doctrine that conceals its powerful

structure within simple and at times symbolic formulas; and the

whole, orientated to the spiritual ascent of souls that it guides

to the summit of perfection. Clearly, this teaching, simple and absolute, direct and delightful, responded to the needs of these souls and to the exigencies of modern minds, impregnated per-

haps with a certain skepticism in the realm of ideas, yet ready

to accept a lived testimony and to bow before affirmations when

they are guaranteed by a practical effectiveness.

One thing appeared certain: the need and the time were at

hand for a presentation in its integrity of the testimony and

the doctrine of the masters who were the Reformers of Carmel.

The one doing this should take every care to avoid imprisoning

it in a system or putting it at the service of a thesis. He should be as unobtrusive as possible in order to let the masters them-

selves speak, gathering their teachings exclusively, clarifying them by parallel passages, and arranging them in a synthesis

which would still be theirs. His special function would be to

express them in a form adapted to the needs of our time.

Among those masters a guide had to be chosen. The mem-

bers of the group declared some preference for Saint John of

the Cross. I, to whom the task was delegated, have chosen Saint Teresa. I did this, first because she is the Mother of the

reformed Carmel; but especially because she alone, in her last

treatise, her masterpiece, the Interior Castle, gives the complete

progression in the ascent of a soul. I thought that her descrip-

tive style, her concrete language, would place us in the living

and practical atmosphere in which we wanted to stay; the divi-

sion of the soul's journey into stages or mansions, besides pro-

viding a plan for the work, would create the setting and the perspective in which each thing would find its place and its

value. It would be easy to insert the helpful teaching that Saint

John of the Cross imparts to the soul in places of special dan-

ger, and to let the light that his principles project towards the

A WORD ON HOW THIS BOOK CAME TO BE

ix

Infinite, shine over it all. Moreover, the division into mansions

would allow us better to appreciate the astonishing rapidity of

the spiritual ascent of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the

sublime simplicity of her little way.

These conferences, having been offered to widely different

groups before being written in their present form, gave me

occasion to note that the thirst for God is not the exclusive

right of a cultured few; that God is very happily arousing it in

many souls today; and that to have received this gift is enough

to enable one to grasp the language of the masters who have

traced out for us the steep slopes that lead to the Source of living waters.

Before handing over these pages to a larger public, may I

thank those who obliged me to write them, and so effectively

helped in the task. To analyze for them the teaching of the

Saints of Carmel was for me an invaluable grace. To do it in

their company added to that benefit a deep supernatural joy,

that of breathing in abundantly the delightful perfume that

rises from fields made fruitful by the blessing of God.

P. Marie-Eugène de I'E.-J., O.C.D.

Translator's Note

Anyone who reads this book will know why I think that the

privilege of translating it was a distinct spiritual favor. In ad- dition to the personal joy found in it, I am happy to make

accessible to others the teachings here given on the interior life

of prayer, so carefully explained by one who has lived and di-

rected many along this way marked out by the masters of

Girmel. / Want to See God should find numerous souls ready for its message, as does its French original, Je veux voir Dieu.

For the right to make this translation into English, I must

thank the R. P. Marie-Eugène de I'E.-J., first Definitor in the

General Council of Discalced Carmelites, Rome, For permis-

sion and encouragement to do so, I am more grateful than I

could well express to Mother M. Rose Elizabeth, C.S.C., Supe-

rior General of our Congregation, and to Mother Kathryn

Marie, C.S.C, Mother Provincial of the Midwest. The work of it has been lightened by the continued interest in its completion

always shown by our religious superior at Saint Mary's College, Sister Mary Agnes, C.S.C, and our president of the College,

Sister M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

As chapters of the translation were finished, I sent them to

Father Marie-Eugène. Father had another member of the Gen-

eral Council of Discalced Carmelites, Father Michael, Definitor for the English members of the Order, read them. Father

Michael was most painstaking and generous with his sugges-

tions, by which I profited greatly in the revising process. There

are some sentences that I rewrote entirely, in accord with

Father Michael's better light on them. Both translation and translator have benefited by his good critical sense.

In presenting a synthesis of Teresian spirituality, Father

Marie-Eugène has drawn frequently on the writings of the

saints themselves who were masters of it. It seemed best, then,

to use already accepted translations of those writings. I am in-

xii

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE

debted to several publishers for their kind permission to quote

from them :

To Sheed and Ward, for the Complete Works of Saint

Teresa, 3 Vols., translated and edited by Allison Peers, from the critical edition of P. Silverio de Santa Teresa, CD.; also

for the Collected Letters of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, translated

by F. J. Sheed. To Burns and Oates, for the Works of St. John

of the Cross, 3 Vols., translated and edited by Allison Peers

from the critical edition of P. Silverio de Santa Teresa, CD.;

and Soeur Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus, an Autobiography, edited by T. N. Taylor. To Newman Press,

for the Letters of Teresa of Avila,

2 Vols., translated and

edited by Allison Peers from the critical edition of P. Silverio

de Santa Teresa, CD. To Herder, for Christian Perfection and

Contemplation, by the Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., translated by Sister M. Timothea Doyle, O.P. To Ben-

ziger Brothers, for the Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas

translated by the Fathers of the English

Aquinas, 3 Vols.,

Dominican Province. To Saint Anthony's Guild, for the Con-

fraternity edition of the New Testament. Quotations from the

Old Testament are from the Douay-Rheims version.

An expression of gratitude is assuredly due in tribute to the

late Allison Peers for his years of devoted labor in making the

works of Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa available in

English, and for his willingness to let me borrow from them. Several other persons aided in furthering this translation:

Reverend Louis Putz, C.S.C, by his sustained interest in its

publication, and Reverend Albert Schlitzer, C.S.C, by a com-

plete reading of the manuscriptboth of the University of

Notre Dame; Sister Alice Eileen and Sister Mary Immaculate,

of Saint Mary's College faculty, and Miss Elizabeth Higgins, of Saint Mary's School of Sacred Theology, by their help in

pireparing the manuscript. Miss Anne Pavlina, a sophomore at

the college, typed much of the final copy with nice precision.

If I kept the manuscript longer, I might perfect it more, in

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE

xui

such ways as supplying a more pointed reference for passages

from several French books which the author mentions without

giving full bibliographical data; that of Saint Epiphane and

Sainte Angèle de Foligno, for example. But these seemed too

minor in relation to the whole either to trouble Father Marie-

Eugène to search for page and publisher or to delay publication till I could secure copies myself, if possible.

As to the translation, I have made prayerful effort to convey

Father Marie-Eugene's message exactly, while using the liberty

he allowed me of rephrasing according to our idiom. To say that it is a message from one who has a rare and rich experience of the spiritual life of souls is wholly unnecessary for anyone

who reads it. I am happy to leave it now in the hands of our

Blessed Mother, who will see that it goes wherever her divine

Son wills.

Saint Mary's College Notre Dame, Indiana

Feast of the Purification

February 2, 1953

Sister M. Verda Clare, C.S.C.

Contents

A WORD On How This Book Came To Be

Translator's Note

CHAPTER

PERSPECTIVES

I. THE BOOK OF THE MANSIONS

vii

xi

3

A. Historical circumstances in which it was

composed

3

B. Method of composition and division of

the work

C. Value of the work

8

11

n. "I WANT TO SEE GOD"

16

A.

God is present in the soul

18

1. Active presence of immensity

19

2. Objective presence

21

3. Localization of the objective presence

in the center of the soul

23

B. The spiritual life is a progressive interior-

 

ization

2S

C.

Transforming union: the end of Teresian

spirituality

27

m. KNOWLEDGE OF SELF

A. Object of the knowledge of self

33/

35

1. Psychological knowledge

 

35

2.

Spiritual knowledge

38

a. What we are before God

 

39

'

b. Supernatural riches

41

c. Evil tendencies

43

B. How acquire knowledge of self?

 

45

XV

xvi

CONTENTS

IV. MENTAL PRAYER

49

A.

Role of prayer in Teresian spirituality

49

B.

What is mental prayer

54

C.

Degrees of prayer

60

V. THE GOOD JESUS

64

A.

Christ Jesus in the Teresian prayer

64

B.

Theological justification

74

VI. TERESIAN ASCETICISM

80

A.

Absolute asceticism

80

B. Adapted asceticism

88

C. Progressive asceticism

94

Vn. THE DEVIL

97

A.

Nature and power of the demons

98

B. Intervention of the devil in the spiritual

life

100

1. Frequency of the intervention of the

devil

101

2. Manner and purpose of the action of

 

the devil

105

 

a.

Temptation

105

b.

Disquiet of soul

105

c.

A liar and the father of lies

109

C. Means of recognizing the action of the

 

devil

 

Ill

D.

How to combat the action of the devil

113

1.

Arms for fighting the devil

114

 

a. Prayer and vigilance

114

b. Fasting

115

c.

Holy water

115

 

2.

Tactics

117

 

a.

Anagogical acts

117

b.

Humility

120

 

CONTENTS

xvu

Vm.

THE TERESIAN SPIRIT

123

A.

Zeal of the prophet Elias

124

B.

Prayer and sacrifice

126

C. Apostolic works

128

D. Summary of characteristic elements

131

DC

SPIRITUAL GROWTH

136

A.

Different aspects and stages

136

B.

The mystery of growth

142

C.

Lights in the darkness

147

 

THE FIRST STAGES

L

THE FIRST MANSIONS

153

A.

Description of the first Mansions

153

B.

Mortal sin

156

C.

Hell

161

n. AT THE POINT OF DEPARTURE

166

 

A.

Orientation towards God

166

B.

Dispositions necessary for beginners

172

 

1. A resolute will

173

2. Discretion and liberty of spirit

177

3. Great desires

179

p.

PRAYER IN ITS FIRST STAGES

182

A.

Vocal prayer

183

B.

Liturgical prayer

187

C.

Meditated reading

192

D.

Meditation

194

Y.

THE PRAYER OF RECOLLECTION

198

A. Description

198

B. How to attain to the prayer of recollection 203

C. Excellence of the prayer of recollection. 208

.

xviii

CONTENTS

V. SPIRITUAL READING

214

A.

Importance

 

215

B.

/esxis Christ, the "living book"

219

C. Choice of reading

224

 

1.

The person of Christ: Holy Scripture.

224

2.

Christ

the truth: dogmatic books

227

3.

Christ the way: spirituality

230

4.

Christ the life in the Church

232

VI. DISTRACTIONS AND DRYNESS

234

A.

Nature of distractions and of dryness

235

B.

Causes

 

239

1. The nature of supernatural truths

239

2.

Instability of the powers of the soul

240

3.

Illness

241

4.

The devU

243

5. The action, at least permissive, of God 244

C. Remedies

245

1. Discretion

245

2. Perseverance

247

3. Humility

248

VII. SPIRITUAL FRIENDSHIP

250

A. Friendships in the life of Saint Teresa

B. Her doctrine on friendships

1. Importance of friendships

2. Choice of friends

a. Sensible love

b. Spiritual-sensible love

c. Spiritual love

VIII. SPIRITUAL DIRECTION

A. Importance and necessity of direction .

B. Choice and qualities of a director

1. Holiness

251

258

258

260

281

262

267

273

273

279

281

CONTENTS

xix

 

2. Prudence

283

3. Experience

286

4. Learning

288

C.

Duties of the one directed

292

1. Spirit of faith

292

2. Affectionate confidence

292

3. Simplicity and discretion

293

4. Obedience

296

DC. REGULATED LIFE AND SIMPLIFIED

 

PRAYER

298

A.

Regulated life

298

B.

Simplified prayer

300

C.

Deficiencies and difficulties

305

X. SUPERNATURAL WISDOM AND

 

CHRISTIAN PERFECTION

310

A. Folly and perfection

B. The three wisdoms C. The different wisdoms and

MYSTICAL LIFE AND

CONTEMPLATION

L THE WISDOM OF LOVE

A. What is the Wisdom of Love?

B. What does Holy Wisdom do?

311

316

321

327

327

332

1. She orders and disposes all things for

the accomplishment of the design of

God

2. She orders all with love

332

334

XX

CONTENTS

n. THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

338

A. Nature and role of the gifts

338

 

1. Definition

338

2. Virtues and gifts

341

 

a. Differences

341

b. Relations

342

 

3.

Distinction of the gifts from one an-

 

other

345

B.

Experience of the gifts

351

C. Utility and utilization of the gifts

356

m. THE GIFT OF SELF

381

A.

Necessity and excellence

362

B.

Qualities of the gift of self

369

1.

Absolute

369

2.

Indeterminate

371

3.

Often renewed

374

IV. HUMILITY

377

A.

Necessity

378

B.

Degrees and forms of humility

388

1.

Reasonable humility

389

2.

Fervent humility opposed to forms of

 

pride

389

 

3.

Pride in external goods

393

4.

Pride of will

395

5.

Pride of intellect

396

6.

Spiritual pride

398

C. Means for acquiring humility

402

CONTENTS

xxi

V. SILENCE

407

A.

Necessity

407

B.

Forms

415

1.

Silence of the tongue

415

2.

Mortification of natural activity

420

3.

Interior silence

431

VI. SOLITUDE AND CONTEMPLATION

439

1.

Necessity of solitude

439

2. Impossibility or dangers

442

3. The life of the prophet

446

4. Thomas of Jesus

451

Vn. CONTEMPLATION

456

A.

Contemplation in general

458

1.

Definitions

458

2.

Its first forms

459

 

a. Aesthetic

459

b. Intellectual

460

c. Theological

461

B.

Supernatural contemplation

462

1. What it is

462

2.

Effects

465

3.

Signs

467

 

a. Utility of signs

467

b. Explanation

468

c.

Complexity of individual cases

472

Vni. CALL TO THE MYSTICAL LIFE AND

TO CONTEMPLATION

475

A. Preliminary question: mystical life and

 

contemplation

476

B.

Question of right

477

1.

General call

477

2.

Proximate call

480

xxii

CONTENTS

C. Question of fact

1. Souls outside the castle

2. Souls in the first three Mansions

3. Souls in the second phase

482

483

484

487

DC. THEOLOGY AND SUPERNATURAL

CONTEMPLATION

491

Considered under the following aspects:

1. Contemplation is a tributary of theology. 494

2.

It goes beyond the formulas of theology. 498

3.

It must submit its light to the control of

theology

501

4.

Contemplation has its own living and de-

lightful language

502

5.

Theology must sustain contemplation in its progress

505

8.

Contemplation and spirituality: Saint Thé-

rèse of the Child Jesus and Sister Eliza-

beth of the Trinity

514

X. FAITH AND SUPERNATURAL

 

CONTEMPLATION

518

A. Necessity of faith

519

B. What is faith?

523

C. Perfect and imperfect modes in the exer-

cise of faith

D. Characteristics of knowledge by faith

1. Darkness of faith

2. Certitude of faith

E. Practical conclusions

531

534

534

540

543

Perspectives

CHAPTER I

The Book of the Mansions

Before entering into the study of Teresian spirituality, let

us acquaint ourselves with the guide that we have chosen: the Book of the Mansions or the Interior Castle of Saint Teresa of

Avila. We might ask:

A. Under tvjaat circumstances was this treatise composed?

B. What are its method and its divisions? C. What is its value? The answer to these questions will show us at the outset the

singular originality of our guide and the confidence it merits.

A. Historical circumstances

Saint Teresa wrote the Interior Castle or Book of the Man- sions in 1577. The Saint was then sixty-two. According to her,

she was "old and worn out, but not in desires." ^ From her

work we can judge that she was in full possession of her graces

and her genius. Fifteen years earlier, she had founded the first convent of the reformed Carmelites, Saint Joseph's in Avila. And ten years before, following the visit of P. Rubeo, the superior general of the Carmelites, she had begun to extend her Reform among both friars and nuns. In these ten years

(1567-77), how m.uch work there had been, and suffering!

And what graces!

For four years, Teresa worked with success at her twofold

foundations. Then, in 1571, the Father Visitor took her away

^ Cf . Letter to P. Gracian, May 14, 1578: "I am very old and tired now,

though I still have good desires." Quotations from the letters are taken from

the Letters of Teresa of Jesus, translated by Allison Peers from the critical

edition of P. Silverio de Santa Teresa, CD., Westminster, Maryland: New-

man Press, 2 vols., 1950. This reference is to Vol. II, p. 567.

3

4 I WANT TO SEE GOD

from her consoling labors to send her as prioress to the Con- vent of the Incarnation at Avila, where she had lived for

twenty-eight years and from which she had set out to begin her

Reform. The religious there wanted none of this prioress who

was being imposed upon them; and Teresa, for her part, would

gladly have let this cross pass her by. Our Lord required her to

submit. She went as assigned, triumphed over stormy opposi-

tion, and succeeded in re-establishing regularity while winning

all hearts. God rewarded her for her sacrifice by granting her

the grace of spiritual marriage. Freed of her charge in 1574, the Saint continued with her foundations, which went on multiplying during the next two

years (1575-76). But in Andalusia, where she had first seen

P. Gracian, the first superior of the Carmelite Reform, ("To

me, he is perfect," she writes, and surpasses for our needs "all

that we could ever have thought of asking from God." ^)

there began the most painful difficulties that her heart as a

daughter of Carmel was to know.

The affectionate trust in her that P. Rubeo had always shown

had been one of her surest comforts.