Here is his answer. I use his words which are found in the long perfection tradition in the Church, similar to those of other saints, reiterated by me, concerning the loss of discernment. Let the holy and expert Cardinal answer: “This gift of counsel lies dormant in them; it is oppressed, kept down by their own mental and moral faults. They have made their ear dull of hearing and their eye dark so that they cannot discern. The first great antagonist of this spirit of counsel is the wisdom of the world. And the wisdom of the world is the fashion and opinion of men possessed with the spirit which is of the world and not of God. The maxims, the traditions, the habits of thought, and the habits of life which spring from flesh and blood…these things stifle the voice of counsel.”
Too many Catholics do not want to admit that the thinking of the world perverts their own minds and therefore, their consciences.
Manning states the problem better than I do. “The love of pre-eminence; the inordinate desire of their own proper excellence; a ser-conscious straining to be spiritual guides of other men, to correct their faults, to criticize their actions and their states before God, and to go about setting others right—these are some of the least perceived and subtilest workings of pride….The greatest intellects are sometimes found in the smallest moral characters. The want of counsel makes them to be strange mixtures of greatness and littleness.”
I have struggled on this blog and my own blog to know what and when to state some things critical of others or even of groups. One must look carefully at one’s self to look at motives and leanings, the lack of purity and the need for healing. I have chosen to back off from criticizing the clergy, for example, believing that I cannot judge publicly and that it is better if I pray for those I think have gone astray and are no longer good pastors.
The other great sin of those who have received baptismal and confirmed gifts is that of presumption. Manning notes this, “This presumption, the root of which is in all of us, will, if indulged, destroy and utterly extinguish the gift of counsel.”
I have seen this happen among good people who are working in the Church. I have seen this in fellow bloggers, as well as in myself. One must be willing to let God deal with us, take us through purgation.
Presumption can lead to becoming rash and not praying to God for guidance.
It can lead to impetuosity, which is of the flesh, not the Spirit, states Manning. “They invert the divine order; and having set out in the way of their own choosing, they come to crosses and sorrows. Then, they begin to ask for counsel, and perhaps they ask it of God; but they ask it too late. They are already so committed that they cannot go back. At last they so persuade themselves, that they will not follow good advice even if it were given.”
This is why we need to find good spiritual directors, which is so hard at this time. We cannot fall into a pattern of trying to force our will upon the Will of God. How silly it is to think that we can make God’s will give way.
Manning quotes the great St. Augustine: “Thou, O Lord, givest counsel to all that ask. If they ask of Thee divers things, Thou always answerest he same; Thou answerest clearly enough, but they will not hear Thee, for they ask the things they desire, and they wish to make Thy will bend to theirs. Thou answerest that which is Thy will, and they hear what they will not; and therefore they do it not. He is the best servant who does not desire that God should say the things that he wills, but who desires himself to will the things that God says.”
This is the reason for the Dark Night. The purgation of self-will and “self-counsel” that is the “pride of his own will, and the pride of his own judgment” must happen.
Submitting to the Will of God really means giving in. Manning states, “When you kneel at the holy Mass, put your heart upon the paten and let it be offered up. God will counsel you. If you do His will, even though it cross your own, then you have the surest sign that you are not following your own choice.”
This purgation of the will leads, finally, to purity of heart. That is the reason for such purgation. One has to stop playing God and let God be God in one’s life.
Manning advises us, “Desire, then, to please God above all things, and all things shall be added unto you. If you cannot do all you desire, at least desire great things for His sake.”
This is what it means to become like a little child. Children who have good parents implicitly trust those parents in love.“Freely choose His service; for it is your freedom, and its own exceeding great reward,” which are the Cardinal’s last words on this subject.