Like magnanimity, this attitude of hope takes on a particular coloring in the contemplative life through the influence of the gift of the Holy Spirit: it turns into confidence. A contemplative does not hope for God’s help as if God were merely an omnipotent benefactor. Our Lord has already shown himself to be a friend, he has given tokens of his friendship. Hence, the contemplative’s hope is an attitude of confidence in a friend who has already proven himself.
This sort of confidence develops into what is called abandonment. Hope is not merely a strong desire; it must also include a firm trending toward a goal. God is the goal of theological hope, which is the virtue of one who knows that what he wants is hard to attain, and who expects the help of one stronger than he in order to surmount the difficulty…The gifts of the Holy Spirit add to hope a delicate note of waiting on God. Having put our trust in Him, we await his moment. This form of hope, less active in character than the more ordinary form, is what is called abandonment. –Father Thomas Philippe ‘The Contemplative Life’
The road narrows the further I go along the spiritual path. Those are vital words. Father Thomas Philippe‘s writing, revealed at Assumption Abbey, is important for me at this precise time. St Teresa of Avila is fond of emphasizing in her writing that what is to follows is very important. The mature idea of abandonment, complex yet truly a reduction to simplicity—a childlike approach to faith usurping the mind of an adult—must become a disposition, an imprint of the Holy Spirit. It is important to surrender to abandonment within the virtue of profound hope. Jesus I trust in You! As an established contemplative, I am not manipulating the spiritual life, becoming more complex and bewildering to others. I am not anxiety ridden, fearful, making pronouncements of grace received, pushing agendas, proclaiming truths, rallying around controversial issues, declaring war upon others, receding into depression and mental illness—all while identifying my hopes and desires as the will of God. I learn to repose; sitting still and quiet, before the Lord, allowing His gaze to alight upon my life. I do not utilize my devotion to the spiritual life as a means capable of clever rationalization and manipulation. The contemplative life does not provide me with a method of subtly undermining reality, a way to see myself as a humble victim and unsung hero in situations and confrontations. I recall Susan Muto stressing the absurdity of an obstinate approach to the spiritual life, active ways of overthinking and meddling producing stagnancy and melancholy, inevitably producing darkness within one’s life. To declare that darkness as Divine Will is sheer foolishness. To relate that darkness to the Dark Night of the Soul identified by St John of the Cross is a perversion. The road truly narrows.