Devout and self-denying people go straight against self always, and are more quickly and easily transformed — are regenerated in a blessed manner.
They strip off and rest away all that nature loves, and they stand before God truly poor in spirit, truly submissive, blindly led by God in all his own chosen ways. Ah, child, when you allow yourself thus to be sought after by God, and your house tuned upside down, then are you indeed found by him, as the piece of money was found by the woman in the Gospel. And you shall be led far beyond your own good works and self-chosen devotions, beyond all this world can do for you, whether inwardly or outwardly. And this was what our Lord guaranteed when he said: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me (Lk 9:23). So must a man renounce all that hinders true spiritual progress.
But when an unmortified man encounters severe trials and temptations, and when the sharp harrow cuts him deep, then he thinks all is lost. He is tormented with doubts, he is haunted with terrors. He says: Alas, O Lord, all light is gone, all grace is withdrawn, and all is lost. And yet I say to you that if you were but a well-practiced and really self-denying man, you would know that you never had been in so good a state as now. When the Lord is searching for you in your soul, then you should be well contented. Does he demand of you to be dark, cold, destitute? Yield lovingly to him. Ah, dear children, how do you suppose God is going to deal with a soul he leads in this way? He will elevate it above all creatures. Beloved soul, fortunate soul, fear nothing.
Father John Tauler, O.P. “Self-Denial.” from The Sermons and Conferences of John Tauler (Apostolic Mission House, 1910).
This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in February, 2015.
Johannes Tauler OP was a German Dominican, one of the greatest mystics and preachers of the Middle Ages. He was born at Strasburg about 1300; died at the same place, 16 June, 1361. The centre of Tauler’s mysticism is the doctrine of the visio essentice Dei, the blessed contemplation or knowledge of the Divine nature. He takes this doctrine from Thomas Aquinas, but goes further than the latter in believing that the Divine knowledge is attainable in this world also by a perfect man, and should be sought by every means. The way to God is through love; God replies to its highest development by His presence. Tauler gives advice of the most varied character for attaining that height of religion in which the Divine enters into the human subject. Johannes Tauler, Sermons is published by Paulist Press.
Copyright © Father John Tauler, O.P.