You must conceive that this is written for such who aim for particular perfection, and are not in a state of mortal sin. For this medicine will not work for those who offend God negligently every moment, and pass their lives in all wickedness; for such as these must rather use affliction and frequent bewailing and confession of their sins, that so they deprive not themselves of remedy by their faults and carelessness.
Take, then, this rule and method in all the falls you shall make, be they great or little; yea, though ten thousand times in the same day you shall have incurred the same crime, and that not occasionally, but voluntarily and deliberately; observe, I say, inviolably this prescription: That as soon as ever you find yourself in fault, you trouble not nor disquiet yourself, but instant, as soon as you are aware of what you have done, with humility and confidence, beholding your own frailty, cast an enormous glance on God, and fixing there your love, say with heart and mouth: “Lord, I have done that which is like what I am, nor can anything else be expected at my hands but these and the like transgressions; nor had I stopped here, but plunged myself further into al wickedness, if thy goodness had permitted it, and left me wholly to myself. I give thee infinite thanks that You did not thus leave me for Your own sake, and for what You art, but admit me again to the favor of Your friendship.” Having done this lose neither time nor quiet of mind, imagining that God has not pardoned you, and the like, but with full repose proceed with your exercise as if I have said, not once, but every moment, with as much confidence and tranquility the last time as the first. For besides the particular service of God herein, a thousand other advantages are gained by it; time is not lost in fruitless excuses, further progresses is not obstructed, but, on the contrary, sin is subdued and mastered with much profit and perfection. This I would gladly inculcate upon, and persuade scrupulous and disquieted souls of, and then they would soon see how different a state of tranquility they would find themselves in, and pity the blindness of those who, so much to their cost, go on still losing so much precious time. Note this well, for it is the key to all true spiritual progress, and the shortest means to attain to it. –St Peter of Alcantara ‘Treatise on Prayer and Meditation’.
Detraction, distraction for a proficient, one advancing in the spiritual life arises from within. That which calls to a deeper life, complete conviction and focus upon God, scrupulously makes demand upon perfection. The fact is so pronounced St Peter of Alcantara identifies it as the key to further spiritual progress. One devoting his life to a refined pursuit of God, a life of service to God, must relate to God as a friend. Listen to the words of John the beloved disciple, the caretaker of the mother of Christ in the time of His resurrection, the mystical writer of the final Gospel, the recorder of the Final Discourse, the concluding teaching of Jesus to His apostles before the onslaught of His Crucified Passion. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. Speaking to his disciples a final time, Jesus knows what is about to transpire, therefore he instills within those carrying His word, furthering His mission upon earth a lightheartedness, the assurance of friendship. The road narrows, everything will become difficult, therefore Jesus declares to be at peace, quiet your soul for we are friends, wear life loosely like a comfortable garment, for you have advanced in service to me. Yet keep in mind as Jesus assures them of His friendship the fate of the apostles is atrocious. Most horrific, Andrew will be skinned. All the apostles, aside from John, are martyred. Be still, and know that I am God. Within the trials and tribulations of life, as men of prayer, advancing in love of God and man, dedicating our lives as contemplatives to the overflowing of grace, let us be easy on ourselves, let us not lose energy and focus beating ourselves up. It is the delight of Satan to witness us reject the mercy and might of God. Let us trust in Jesus, more than wallow in misery and self-castigation.
I remember a dream once. I use to, and now realize have not for so long, dream about my guardian angel, a small baby, a cherub who never speaks yet expresses so much in her overly dramatic gestures and facial expressions. In the dream, I was sitting on a fence watching a horrific battle being waged. The conflict was brutal. I was unafraid, yet I sat and watched, doing nothing but observing. Then I realized within a state of great agitation my little guardian angel flying around me like a hummingbird, darting about, passionately waving her hands, imploring me to take notice of the raging battle. I just stared at her. She was so disconcerted, I could only notice her. She became frustrated and frantic with me, flying right into my face, pointing at the warring. She hovered directly in front of me, making a gesture of great annoyance and displeasure, shaking her head no, anger detailing her every feature before she silently made the firm point of disappointment, harshly making the statement that if you are content to sit here on the fence doing nothing I cannot be that way. I am going directly into the fight. And then just like that she flew away, right in the midst of the conflict. Let us not waste time sitting upon the fence, absorbed within self-introspection, guilt and shame. Let’s fly into the midst of the battle. Let’s take the fight to Satan on a higher plane, within the prayer of repose and focus.