Recently I have been reading the writings of the Mexican Archbishop and mystic, Archbishop Martinez. He followed the “little way” of St Therese and wrote much about the interior life.
In one of his books, he speaks about growing in the spiritual life, and that we ascend by descending. This is a very counter intuitive concept that seems almost the opposite of what we expect.
So often, we expect to grow in virtue, and instead we face disappointments, temptations, trials and our sinfulness. It can be so easy to get discouraged, instead of seeing these ways as the exact ways given by God’s loving hand to make us Saints. These are His gifts of love but we don’t see this because we don’t expect love to cause suffering. But often, that is the only way to teach us to love. We need to trust in Divine Providence that God allows these things with perfect love, and for our good.
I think we ascend by descending when we come to God with all of our misery – not only recognising it, but loving it. How do we love it? I am still trying to figure that out, but apparently this is what humility is. Maybe we take steps in this direction when we seek God’s glory alone and His Will alone, and then we are happy to have to NEED God so much. He is glorified when He does everything for us because we are nothing. Even though holiness requires our cooperation and much effort, God’s grace is necessary and He wants us to let Him take over and no longer resist His action. God’s free action in out soul is our happiness but for this to happen, we need to be before Him as a grain of sand.
Seeing our misery can be very discouraging. This is from our pride and its something I’ve experienced many times. We want to instantly raise ourselves, to convince ourselves, others and even God that things aren’t so bad. But when we admit that they are, and turn to God joyfully because we need Him, He does not resist and comes to us with all of His graces.. Because finally, we are giving Him permission to act.
One of the points that most impressed me in the writings of Archbishop Martinez is that its our misery that attracts God to us. All else is a gift of His Mercy.
(The book that speaks of this topic is called Worshipping a Hidden God, by Archbishop Luis M. Martinez).