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Questions and Answers

Somewhere on your site you refer to Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s book The Joy of Full Surrender  and say that it’s close to Quietism. To me, it seems that Caussade is talking about God’s mercy. So can you explain the difference between Quietism and the Catholic emphasis on mercy?

Quietism holds out the belief that we are all on a path to God, and that even sin can be a part of that journey. Therefore, the Quietists say, if we open ourselves to being led by the Holy Spirit in all things, we can get to God if we abandon ourselves to everything and not worry about sin.

The premise of God’s mercy begins with the fact that God’s truth is behind everything, even lies, because without truth lies could not exist. So even when we believe in lies we are still unconsciously seeking God’s truth. Still, in the fullness of reality, passively “seeking” God in the midst of human experience is not sufficient for our salvation. God is always asking us engage actively with life so as to “see” lies—and sin—as fraud, and, in seeing them as such, to renounce them; then, with sorrow and contrition, we can turn to God in the fullness of truth, admitting that in our sins we were living lies. Thus, aided with the mercy of divine grace, we can surrender to God’s will and repair the damage of our sins by living prayerful lives of faith and good works thereafter.

Accordingly, a huge gulf separates blind abandonment to anything and surrender to God’s will. But, as with many theological concepts, a “huge gulf” in spirit is more often than not a “fine line” in practice. And there’s the problem with Quietism: a fine line is very easy to step over, but the consequences of that little step can be huge.


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Where Catholic therapy (Catholic psychotherapy) is explained according to Catholic psychology in the tradition of the Catholic mystics.