Spiritual Progress is a collection of five powerful works intended for daily devotions and personal reflection. These five inspiring works are composed by three closely linked mystical thinkers of the 17th century–Francois Fenelon, Madame Guyon, and Pere La Combe. Fenelon, an archbishop, wrote the first two works, Christian Counsel and Spiritual Letters, which illustrate his keen sense of spiritual counsel. Madame Guyon, a close friend of Fenelon, wrote the next works, Method of Prayer and On the Way to God, which indicate the importance of constant prayer. Pere La Combe, the spiritual director of Madame Guyon, wrote the final work, Spiritual Maxims, which emphasizes the importance of desire and love for God. Each stirring work is divided into short chapters, making Spiritual Progress ideal for morning or evening devotions. It is thus a wonderful book full of guidance for one’s spiritual progress.
Here are a few of the passages I highlighted:
With what face can we despise others, and dwell upon their faults, when we ourselves are filled with nothing else?
Our faults, even those most difficult to bear, will all be of service to us, if we make use of them for our humiliation, without relaxing our efforts to correct them. It does no good to be discouraged; it is the result of a disappointed and despairing self-love. The true method of profiting by the humiliation of our faults, is to behold them in all their deformity, without losing our hope in God, and without having any confidence in ourselves.
Never should we so abandon ourselves to God as when He seems to abandon us. Let us enjoy light and consolation when it is his pleasure to give it to us, but let us not attach ourselves to his gifts, but to Him; and when He plunges us into the night of pure faith, let us still press on through the agonizing darkness.
One of the cardinal rules of the spiritual life is, that we are to live exclusively in the present moment, without casting a look beyond.
Let the all-powerful hand of God work in you as he well knows how, to tear you from yourself.
The origin of our trouble is, that we love ourselves with a blind passion that amounts to idolatry.
If we are in the habit of neglecting little things, we shall be constantly offending our families, our domestics, and the public.
By neglecting small matters, the soul becomes accustomed to unfaithfulness.
We are not to meddle with things which God does not lay upon us.
We must follow after God, never precede Him.
Be faithful in keeping silence, when it is not necessary to speak, and God will send grace to preserve you from dissipation when it is.
Ah! What short-sighted and deceitful views are ours!
We must read according to our necessity and desire, but with frequent interruptions, for the purpose of recollection. A word or two, simple and full of the Spirit of God, will be to us as hidden manna. We forget the words, but the effect remains; they operate in secret, and the soul is fed and enriched.
The source of all our defects is the love of self.
We are strangely ingenious in perpetually seeking our own interest; and what the world does nakedly and without shame, those who desire to be devoted to God do also, but in a refined manner, under favor of some pretext which serves as a veil to hide from them the deformity of their conduct.
The heaviest cross must be borne in peace. At times it can neither be borne nor dragged; we can only fall down beneath it, overwhelmed and exhausted.
Be silent as much as you can. Be in no haste to judge; suspend your decisions, your likes and dislikes. Stop at once when you become aware that your activity is hurried.
O how strong we are when we begin to perceive that we are but weakness and infirmity!
I would warmly recommend to all, never to finish prayer without remaining some little time afterward in a respectful silence.
“Love,” says St. Augustine, “and then do what you please.”