Hello dear father Angelo,
My name is Andrea, I am 26 years old and on a couple of occasions I have already written to you in the past finding great benefit. I take this opportunity to renew my congratulations for the very precious service you perform. I am writing to you to try to have a suggestion, as far as possible, on my life of faith at the moment. I will make a brief introduction at first just to try to better frame the situation. After an adolescence far from God, I converted thanks to the testimony of my fiancée following a period of suffering, doubts and anguish regarding the meaning and direction of my life, where I ultimately experienced what the psalmist calls the abyss of the heart of man.
Well, the moment I returned to God’s Grace all my anguish and darkness dissolved immediately. I have truly lived these last 6 years with the sweetness of Christ in my heart. I try to lead my Christian life with the commitment that is due to a journey of faith (attention to my state of grace, engagement lived in chastity with my fiancée, daily prayer and rosary, frequent participation to the Holy Mass even on weekdays, confession at least once a month, service within my parish and within the group of which I belong since the beginning of my conversion, that is the Franciscan Youth).
I do not say these things to make a list of how good I am, I have my nothingness in front of me and I know that every good we do comes from the Lord and we are only channels, but I say it simply to better describe my life of faith. Well, for a few months now, something has suddenly changed inside me. The usual sweetness in my heart deriving from Christ has given way to darkness, doubts and anguish about faith, a bit like in the period before my conversion. Given that my life of faith has not undergone important “slips” or steps backwards, at least in my eyes, I wonder what this moment can derive from. I know of the spiritual aridity experienced by the saints, but I feel absolutely unworthy to compare myself to similar experiences. Nonetheless I am going through an incredible inner split. Despite this moment of darkness I feel that the Lord supports my every step, my every thought, even in suffering. One moment I am sad but the next I find myself still performing my services well, I find myself spending myself for the people I am called to serve.
A moment before I am in doubt and the next, seeing the Blessed Sacrament, I have no greater certainty that it is the body of Christ. Let’s say that my emotions disobey the certainty of faith that God gives me. Humanly I have felt to ask the Lord for the end of this cross (on the other hand there are those who face much worse crosses), but I have come to the conclusion that the most pleasing prayer to God at this moment is not to ask to take off the weight of this cross, but to bring it together with Him. He sees forward and knows the path of my life, He knows the joys and trials of my life, it is up to Him to decide them, to me to follow Him. I ask for some advice on how to live this moment, whether to change something in case it is “wrong” at some point.
I greet you affectionately and remember you in my prayers.
1. I am very happy that you have found the Lord thanks to the testimony of faith of your fiancée. I am also happy for what you wrote to me and that is that the moment you put yourself back in the Grace of God all your anguish and your darkness dissolved immediately. How can it be different if Jesus said: “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life “(Jn 8:12)?
2. This is why you were able to write: “These last 6 years I have truly lived with the sweetness of Christ in my heart”. Just last Sunday (XX ordinary time year c) in the prayer of Mass the priest asked: “O God, who has prepared invisible goods for those who love you, infuse in us the sweetness of your love …”. We believers understand this experience well. You feel the Lord in your heart. It is a living presence that is at the same time the source of all good, of all joy. Losing this presence, which is not comparable to the moral presence of those we love, immediately makes us feel empty, in sadness, as if something was missing. In fact this presence is a real presence, and not just a moral one. It is God’s exclusive prerogative to personally dwell in the heart of another person. St. Thomas affirms that it is “God’s own and exclusive prerogative to penetrate into the very essence of the soul (solus Deus illabitur animae)” (Sum theological, III, 64, 1). No one else can do it, neither the devil, nor any loved ones in this world.
3. You tell me, however, that lately moments of light and darkness alternate in your soul, similar to those you had before your conversion.
From what you write to me I see well that you know some elements of spiritual Theology and you know of the existence of certain purifications that the Lord sends in order to make our love for Him stronger and more perfect.
Indeed, the Lord always draws us through bonds of goodness as He said through the prophet Hosea: “I drew them with bonds of goodness, with bonds of love, I was for them like someone who lifts a child to his cheek, I bent over him to feed him “(Hos 11,4).
4. You do well, however, to be wary of yourself and think that it is not a purification similar to those that one can read in the lives of the Saints.
In fact, you tell me that you feel “absolutely unworthy” to be able to compare yourself to such experiences.
It may be what St. Bernard observed, whose feast we celebrated the day before yesterday, when he commented on the verse from the Song of Songs: “On my bed, along the night, I sought the love of my soul; I looked for it, but I did not find it “(Ct 3,1), that is, an expedient that the Lord uses to make you seek Him with greater ardor.
5. St Bernard says verbatim: “The bridegroom has not departed from the voice and desire of those who call him.
Why is he doing this then?
For desire to grow, for love to be purified, to exercise the experience of love in a more prolonged way. Certainly it is not a question of indignation, but of a hiding” (” Non est reversus sponsus ad vocem et votum revocantis. Quare? Ut Desiderium crescat, ut probetur affectus, ut exerceatur amoris negotium. Sane ergo dissimulatio est, non indignatio”).
6. Therefore, on your part, renew your fervor through silence, meditation, prayer, continuous acts of love, mortification.
Through silence because it is in silence that God speaks to the soul and touches the heart.
Through meditation, mainly of the sacred texts because as the Scripture says “in meditatione mea exardescet ignis” (“when you think about it the fire broke out”, Ps 39: 4).
Through prayer. The testimony of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus is interesting, as she writes in the Story of a Soul: “Sometimes, if my spirit is in such a dryness that it is impossible for me to draw a thought to unite with the good Lord, I recite a lot slowly an “Our Father” and then the angelic greeting; then these prayers kidnap me, they nourish my soul much more than if I had hastily recited them a hundred times “(Story of a Soul, 318).
Through continuous acts of love, that is, by explicitly doing some virtuous act out of love for the Lord because God responds with love to love.
And finally with mortification (sacrifices) because, as St. Thomas recalls, mortification is the mainspring of devotion.
With the hope that you can always experience the sweetness of the Lord’s love, while I thank you for your prayers, I gladly reciprocate them with a lot of graces and I bless you.