Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe

The following is an excerpt from Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe.

It may be that in various parts of our lives we shall have to follow the path—possibly a difficult one—that leads from rebellion or resignation to consent, and ends finally in “choosing what we did not choose.”

Let’s begin with some ideas on the slow process of learning to love ourselves correctly, fully accepting ourselves just as we are. First of all, the most important thing in our lives is not so much what we can do as leaving room for what God can do. The great secret of all spiritual fruitfulness and growth is learning to let God act. “Apart from me, you can do nothing,” Jesus tells us. God’s love is infinitely more powerful than anything we can do by our own wisdom or our own strength. Yet one of the most essential conditions for God’s grace to act in our lives is saying yes to what we are and to the situations in which we find ourselves.

That is because God is “realistic.” His grace does not operate on our imaginings, ideals, or dreams. It works on reality, the specific, concrete elements of our lives. Even if the fabric of our everyday lives doesn’t look very glorious to us, only there can we be touched by God’s grace. The person God loves with the tenderness of a Father, the person he wants to touch and to transform with his love, is not the person we’d have liked to be or ought to be. It’s the person we are. God doesn’t love “ideal persons” or “virtual beings.” He loves actual, real people. He is not interested in saintly figures in stained glass windows, but in us sinners. A great deal of time can be wasted in the spiritual life complaining that we are not like this or not like “that, lamenting this defect or that limitation, imagining all the good we could do if, instead of being the way we are, we were less defective, more gifted with this or that quality or virtue, and so on. Here is a waste of time and energy that merely impedes the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

What often blocks the action of God’s grace in our lives is less our sins or failings, than it is our failure to accept our own weakness—all those rejections, conscious or not, of what we really are or of our real situation. To “set grace free” in our lives, and paving the way for deep and spectacular changes, it sometimes would be enough to say simply “yes”—a “yes” inspired by trust in God to aspects of our lives we’ve been rejecting. We refuse to admit that we have this defect, that weak point, were marked by this event, fell into that sin. And so we block the Holy Spirit’s action, since he can only affect our reality to the extent we accept it ourselves. The Holy Spirit never acts unless we freely cooperate. We must accept ourselves just as we are, if the Holy Spirit is to change us for the better.

Similarly, if we don’t accept others—for example, if we’re angry with them for not being as we want—we do not allow the Holy Spirit to act positively on our relationships or make an opportunity to change. This is a point we shall consider in more detail later.

The attitudes described are sterile. They are a refusal of reality, rooted in lack of faith in God and lack of hope, which produce a lack of love. Thus we are closed to grace, and God’s action is prevented.

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