April 12, 2012

Dom Augustine Baker on Religious Life

A long time ago I had a certain realization in prayer that has haunted me ever since. I realized, on the one hand, that God have me a religious vocation because this was his best chance of saving my life, making me a saint, and making some use of my gifts for the good of the world. In that, then, I have the confidence that this vocation is ordered to my happiness and sanctity. On the other hand--and this is the scary part--I realized that if I were to become worse rather than better by my religious life, I would end up in a worse condition than I ever could have deteriorated into while living in the world.

I was thinking about this old reflection as I came across this stark description of the same in Dom Augustine Baker:

"In the same sense, and with the same conditions, we are to understand the nine privileges that St. Bernard affirms are to be found in a religious state. For surely it was far from his meaning to apply said privileges to any but industrious souls, whose principal care is to purify themselves interiorly, and not at all to tepid persons that neglect to correspond to their profession. For who but the industrious and vigilant: 1. do live more purely than men do in the world; 2. or fall more seldom; 3. or rise more speedily; 4. or walk more warily; 5. or rest more securely; 6. or are visited by God more frequently; 7. or die more confidently; 8. or pass their purgatory more speedily; 9. or are rewarded in heaven more abundantly?

"On the contrary, it is justly to be feared, yea, to certain it is, that habitually tepid and negligent souls in religion are in a far worse state, more immortified, more cold in devotion, more estranged from God every day than others, considering that, in the midst of the greatest advantages and helps to fervour and purity, they will continue in their negligence; and therefore they must expect, for their obstinate ingratitude and for their offending against so great light, that they shall be more severely punished by Almighty God than others the like that live in the world." (Sancta Sophia, I, 3, III, 5)

Heal me, Lord, of my negligence and tepidity, and make me industrious and vigilant!

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