Fr André Louf, OCSO (1929-2010)

In fact it is much "cheaper" to live as a hardened sinner
or a hardened righteous person than as a
And yet, it is this internal reversal at which grace
is always aiming, day in and day out.
For it is God who comes to touch us in countless
ways to teach us conversion.

We can only hold ourselves in readiness to let
ourselves be disturbed and emotionally moved by God.
For a great deal has to happen that lies outside
the reach of our good will and our natural generosity.
Reversal means, not merely that we will be inwardly wounded,
but that we must be shaken to our very foundations.
It means that perhaps we will be broken,
that something inside us will collapse - something like
a concrete bunker on which we worked perhaps for years
with exemplary care but which at a given moment began
to function solely as a defense system against our
deepest self, against others, with the risk that in
the end it would protect us even against God's grace.

That collapse is only just the beginning,
even though a hopeful one.
We must be on our guard not to try to build
up again what grace has broken down.
This is something we have to learn,
for there is always a strong temptation to put
scaffolding up around that crumbling facade
and to tidy it up. We must learn to
acquiesce in the collapse and to sit down
amid the rubble without bitterness
or self-reproach - also without reproaching God
- but with hopeful resignation,
full of surrender, confident as a child
who dreams that his father will fix things again,
that he knows how to rebuild them,
in a very different way now
but much better than before.

Fr André Louf was an abbot of the
Cistercian monastery of Katzberg, France.

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August 3, 2012