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The Interior Life

3MI Newsletter from February 23rd, 2024

During this time of Lent, Catholics the world over are trying to improve and restore the interior life.  To drive their senses and their will away from the material world in which they are enveloped, mortification is increased.  This mortification is vital, but another area of the spiritual life is commonly overlooked.

A late 19th century spiritual classic, The Interior Life by Fr. Joseph Tissot, reminds the Catholic of the intellectual shortcomings and hubris that lead to the evil of removing God from human enterprise,

In social conditions everything is organized for man; human interest dominates everything, inspires everything, directs and sums up everything.  What place is given to God's glory in families, associations, and corporate bodies? Where is the idea of God in industries, in commerce, in science, in politics, in history, and the rest? – In human relationships, it is human respect which universally engrosses people's thoughts, feelings, and efforts.  All converges towards this.  The thought of God and his glory gets weaker and weaker and disappears; man is driving out God.[1]  

Many will purify the senses, overcoming the appetites that draw the common man to the flesh in all its desire for sensuality.  And yet many who purge the flesh still carry an intellect ever ready to serve the dominating human interest, particularly the media-science ivory tower complex with its anthology of naturalistic fairytales.  With a strengthened will and senses conquered, many educated Catholics abandon the shallow self-love of the modern material man.  However, they remain enslaved, to a greater or lesser extent, to the dominant ideas of the modern rational man – where ideas vanquish God, one history and science class at a time.

Fr. Tissot states,

The intelligence is, perhaps, more affected than the will and the sensibility.  It does not see, or it sees wrongly.  And when I do not see or see amiss, of what use are my will and sensibility, unless it be to carry me astray through following the false directions given by the mind?  And if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit. We do not see or see amiss.  The deepest evil is, then, in my intellect and ideas…  My action is vitiated, and my will is vitiated, and this above all on account of my intelligence being vitiated…  “Certainly,” says Father Suran, “nearly all our defects arise from the perversity of our judgments, and from the fact that we do not refer things created to their first principle...[2]

When the mind cannot conform to truth, seen and unseen – including the God-revealed historical reality of the origins of man and the universe – then the ability for sanctification is diminished.

As Fr. Tissot states:

Man’s worth does, indeed, depend upon his ideas, and he is what he thinks.  It is the weakening of truth that makes sanctity vanish from amongst mankind.[3]

And what truth has been vitiated (corrupted) and weakened since the fall?

The truth of history – its origin and purpose.

The truth of philosophy.

The truth of our will, our heart, and its purpose.

Faith purifies and vivifies history, philosophy, and of course our own will.  Where should the Christian orient his view or philosophy of history? In The Faith. As Dom Gueranger states in the first chapter of The Christian Sense of History,

[The Christian] philosophy of history is in its Faith.[4] History must therefore be Christian if it wants to be true…[5]

This Faith will purify, protect, and provide foundation for the scientific and historical investigations which occur in every generation, against the myths, legends, and fairytales that creep in and corrupt the truth.

This shield of the Faith for history and philosophy is a shield for the heart – the will – of man as well.

Fr. Tissot writes,

It is faith that purifies the heart. Faith is the vision of the truth; truth is God’s glory seen in everything.[6]

If we are looking for a life more devout, with our hearts aligned toward our Resurrected Lord during Easter, how will this most effectively be achieved?  With piety directed by truth.

Fr. Tissot states,

Truth is the primary element which directs piety.  When I have this clear, habitual, and dominant vision, my heart will soon be purified, my life devout.[7]

Once man sees the importance of the supernatural in history (the first chapter of The Christian Sense of History by Dom Guéranger), then man can engage his will in the action of holiness in history, the second chapter of the abovementioned book.

Enjoy, then, this video of the beginning of the second chapter of Dom Guéranger’s classic.


[1] Tissot, Fr. Joseph. The Interior Life,  R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd, 1894, 103

[2] Ibid., 106

[3] Ibid., 108

[4] Gueranger, Dom Proser. The Christian Sense of History, Calx Mariae Publishing, 1945, 24

[5] Ibid., 22

[6] Tissot, 108

[7] Ibid., 108

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