Sensible devotion and particularly spiritual sweetness are very precious graces. They inspire us with horror and disgust for the pleasures of the world which constitute the attraction of vice. They give us the will and power to walk, to run, to fly along the ways to prayer and virtue. Sadness contracts the heart, while joy dilates it. This dilation helps us powerfully to mortify our senses, to repress our passions, to renounce our own wills and to endure trials with patience. It urges us to greater generosity and more lofty aspirations. The abundance of divine sweetness makes mortification a delight and obedience a pleasure. We rise promptly at the first sound of the bell. We miss no opportunity for practicing virtue. All our actions are done in peace and tranquility…. Saint Francis de Sales, sweet consolations, ” excite the appetite of the soul, comfort the mind, give to the promptitude of devotion a holy joy and cheerfulness which render our actions beautiful and agreeable”….
With regard to aridities, observe, first of all, with St. Alphonsus, that they can be either voluntary or involuntary. They are voluntary in their cause when we allow our minds to become dissipated, our affections to attach themselves to created things, our wills to follow their caprices and consequence we commit a multitude of little faults without making an effort to correct them. It is no longer a case of simple dryness of sensibility, it is languor of the will. “This state is such,” says Saint Alphonsus, “That unless the soul does violence to herself in order to escape from it, she will go from bad to worse. God Grant she does not fall after a time into the greatest of misfortunes! This kind of aridity resembles consumption, which never kills at once, but infallibly leads to death”. We must do all that depends on us to get rid of it. If it persist in spite of our efforts, let us accept it resignedly as a merciful chastisement of our faults. Involuntary dryness is that experienced by one who is endeavoring to walk in the ways of perfection, who guards against all deliberate sin, practices prayer” and faithfully discharges every duty….
Spiritual aridities and sensible desolations constitute an excellent purgatory where we can pay our debts to divine justice on easy terms. Still more truly can they be described as the crucible designed for the purification of souls. From an abundance of heavenly favors, the soul derives the courage to detach her affections from earthly objects and attach them securely to God.
–Abbot Vital Lehodey