The believer who finds inward solitude finds God.
“For the believer who comes this far there is the discovery that the Lord converses and communicates with him in his inward parts. it is that place that the Lord fills the believer with Himself…but fills him only because the person is empty; He clothes him with light and love because he is naked, lifts him up because he is lowly, and unites him with God and transforms him, because he is alone.
Molinos gives us a secret for obtaining inward solitude: “if you desire any good, however spiritual it may be, let it be desired in such a manner that you be not disquieted if it not granted you” That is, continue in prayer, not agreeing with the greedy voices you can hear within you. Those voices are not really you, and they don’t disqualify you from reaching the inner throne.
This week Molinos tells us about true humility. “Two things must be discovered: the greatness of God and the vastness of the devastation of the fall as pertaining to your own soul”. True humility is “simply knowledge: an understanding of what the self nature really is!”
He contrasts this with false humility: “False humility belongs to those who avoid esteems and who avoid all honor so that they may be taken as being humble. They go out of their way to speak often of just how evil they are. They do this so that they may be thought of as good.”
The knowledge of self leads to true humility. “The truly humble are convinced of their faults with calm shame”. It is an internal knowledge which “abides inwardly in the quiet of a man’s heart. It abides there and rests there.”
Paradoxically, true humility leads to moral victory. Realizing how evil our lower nature is allows us to live in the victory of the resurrection. “Sin shall not have dominion over you” says Paul. He knew by experience that “in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing”.
This week Molinos gives some deep insight into the relationship between the burning love of God, in the heart, and the total surrender of self, in the heart.
To be completely humble, and completely resigned, in the heart, requires an experience of the burning love of God in the heart. To have a burning love of God in the heart requires a surrender of self will, self promotion and self defense, in the heart.
Outward peace and confession and transparency don’t mean much if inwardly we still defend ourselves and exalt ourselves. Only by honestly desiring nothing more than the Lord within us being pleased with us can we have inward peace and confession and transparency.
So, we are told to continue to come before God and to continue waiting on Him. In this continued prayer of inward waiting we are exercising trust and surrender. Eventually we will receive a visit of the burning love of God, inwardly. When this happens it will be transformative: we will be able to endure trials and be humbled and still have true peace. Our surrender of will prepares us for theses visits, and these visits perfect our surrender of will.
This week Molinos reminds us of the relationship between suffering and purification. Of course, even Protestants believe this; but usually only in relationship to external trials. For example, when James says to “be patient in trials, and let patience have her perfect work, that you may become complete, not lacking anything”, people think that this would be an external trial (like loosing a job) and they envision a person rejoicing in this trial, with a positive attitude and lots of faith. In fact, as Molinos is telling us, the worst trials are internal: when we feel abandoned, don’t have joy, don’t feel faith, don’t sense God, don’t have hope, etc. It is in these trials that we must persevere and not believe our senses.
Also, this week we are reminded that true suffering can paradoxically result in tremendous visits from God, full of consolation, burning love and extraterrestrial peace. Thank God for that.
This is a deep and important chapter. I can see myself in this chapter; because I have found the same battle in myself: true versus false inwardness.
I’m naturally an inward person, so silence and solitude is easier for me than it it for someone who is designed by God to be outward.
But I can still follow true inwardness or false inwardness. True inwardness is purified of self: Self effort, vanity, discontent, jealousy, envy, ambition, a desire for power, pride, etc. The old man is just as present in an inward person as in an outward person.
I can tell when my higher nature is ruling. I have peace, contentment and wisdom.
An honest daily appraisal is needed. I don’t think this battle ever ends, because temptation is here until we go to heaven. But I can get better and better and when I fight daily I do see inward improvement.
This week Molinos shows us the relationship between failure, humility and obedience.
God allows us to fail in order to make us humble and dependent on Him. He also wants us to be obedient because that too keeps us humble.
The paradox is that as we progress in becoming like Jesus, with increasing power over the world, the flesh and the devil, that we become less trusting in ourselves.
Thus, “There must come a holocaust of your own values and judgements and will.”
Remember too that there is one limit on obedience: we must not obey that which is contrary to our faith. Recall that Molinos himself ended up in prison because he would not violate the word of God within his heart.
This is an excellent chapter. Molinos this week teaches us that if we add “all silence” to resignation, mortification and recollection we will be able to hear God internally.
“All silence” comprises the 3 kinds of silence: a silence of words, desires and thoughts.
One point of confusion often arises here when we begin to practice silence of thoughts. Most of us believe the goal is to not have any thoughts, that wandering thoughts during silent prayer means we are failing to silence our thoughts. Not true. Teresa of Avila says that she suffered this confusion for years, until she learned the difference between thoughts and understanding. Here is a link to her discussion of this difference: http://newdaymonks.com/wiki/index.php?two%20levels%20of%20consciousness%20in%20the%20fourth%20mansions
Molinos tells us this week that spiritual directors who insist that in every prayer time we are required to think about Jesus and his sacrifice are wrong.
Yes, he says, we must believe that Jesus died for us, and realize that his atonement makes a way for us to approach the Father, but we don’t have to meditate on his passion every time we pray. This, he says, is external prayer.
When we find it tedious to hold to our routine of “quiet time” we should allow God to move us to a warm internal love for Him that is beyond thought. We will then find that time with God is once more profitable.
This week Molinos gives us 2 keys to the Kingdom: resignation and recollection.
He says that as we detach from our will, and trust God’s will in all of our circumstances, even in our trials, then we are resigned to accepting God’s will. This sort of faith walk means that as we go about our daily lives, in ordinary time, as long as we are wanting His will more than our own then we are in communion with Him and we can rest in His pleasure. Are you doing that in your life?
Secondly, as we re-collect our scattered thoughts and desires in Him, and spend time with Him, then we are moving towards Him. As we draw near to Him then He draws near to us. Though we may have seasons of dryness, eventually the well starts to flow and we gain strength and illumination. This living water satisfies the thirsty soul. Are you drawing near to Him?
It is more important to trust and love God than to sense Him. In fact, it will be difficult to trust and love God if such trust and love depend on sensing Him. Comfort from God that can be sensed is up to Him. Trusting and loving Him is up to us. We need an established commitment.
But why do I need an internal committment? Why not just serve God by living the Gospel and loving my neighbor? Why should I take time to slow down and be still and silent?
We are told that faith and intention are all that we need. We want to “tell” God that we love Him; that we intend to follow Him. We want His will more than our will. We therefore sit in gratitude and loving attention to Him.
Those that have yielded to this advice of Molinos have found out for themselves that it greatly improves our walk with Jesus.