I would strongly advise you not to read books treating of the mystical life unless you can get a good guide. You might be imagining yourself in a certain state when you are a thousand miles away from it. … Go on quietly, loving God and seeking to please Him, without trying to find out in what exact state of perfection your soul is.
COMMENT: In Fr Doyle’s time “books treating of the mystical life” were in abundance. The main aim of these books was to help souls pass through the various stages of perfection, allowing them to grow in greater intimacy with God. Christ’s demand that we “be perfect” like the Heavenly Father is not something that we just achieve in one day, but is rather the process of a lifetime. Like an athlete, there are various stages of spiritual fitness for us to pass through, each of which has its own challenges, temptations and consolations.
There are few enough modern books on this important topic, although two excellent recent ones spring to mind: “Spiritual Passages: The Psychology of Spiritual Development” by Fr. Benedict Groeschel and “The Fulfillment of All Desire” by Ralph Martin.
An excerpt from today’s Gospel from the Extraordinary Form of the Mass gives us some insight into the second part of Fr Doyle’s advice that we should go on quietly, loving God and seeking to please Him:
You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.
Our job is to bear the fruit of our state in life. By producing this fruit, we please God. By remaining idle, or by attempting to produce some kind of different fruit that we might prefer ourselves, we fail to please the Lord.