Posted by: Thomas Richard | March 1, 2018

On the Interior Life – Dom Chautard

Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, O.C.S.O., a French Trappist/Cistercian monk and abbot. lived from 1858 to 1935. His widely read and appreciated book, The Soul of the Apostolate, concerns the dynamic and crucial relationship between fruitful work in Christ, and one’s life of prayer, or “interior life.”

The spiritual, supernatural life that is essential to a faithful Catholic Christian, is often referred to as one’s “interior life”. The “apostolate” refers to the work of the Church done in His name – works that all the members ought to contribute to, our share in His mission.  In this time of Lent, especially, as we focus on our inner life, our hearts, our causes and desires that direct us, I want to recommend to my readers a chapter from Dom Chautard’s book – if you go to the link above, to his Book, the chapter is Part 1, 3. “What is the Interior Life?”. The chapter, or the whole book, can be read on-line or downloaded to your computer.  I recommend reading the whole chapter 3 at least.

Here is a brief portion from the eleven “Truths” concerning the Interior Life, from Dom Chautard’s The Soul of the Apostolate:

FIRST TRUTH. Supernatural life is the life of Jesus Christ Himself in my soul, by Faith, Hope, and Charity; for Jesus is the meritorious, exemplary, and final cause of sanctifying grace, and, as Word, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, He is its efficient cause in our souls.
The presence of Our Lord by this supernatural life is not the real presence proper to Holy Communion, but a presence of vital action like that of the action of the head or heart upon the members of the body. This action lies deep within us, and God ordinarily hides it from the soul in order to increase the merit of our faith. And so, as a rule, my natural faculties have no feeling of this action going on within me, which, however, I am formally obliged to believe by faith. This action is divine, yet it does not interfere with my free will, and makes use of all secondary causes, events, persons, and things, to teach me the will of God and to offer me an opportunity of acquiring or increasing my share in the divine life.
This life, begun in Baptism by the state of grace, perfected at Confirmation, recovered by Penance and enriched by the Holy Eucharist, is my Christian life.

SECOND TRUTH. By this life, Jesus Christ imparts to me His Spirit. In this way, He becomes the principle of a superior activity which raises me up, provided I do not obstruct it, to think, judge, love, will, suffer, labor with Him, by Him, in Him, and like Him. My outward acts become the manifestations of this life of Jesus in me. And thus I tend to realize the ideal of the INTERIOR LIFE that was formulated by St. Paul when he said: “I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me.”….



  1. Dear Thomas,

    This is one of those classics that deserves to be read and re-read! I read it many years ago, but was happy to re-read the excerpt you posted today. God willing, I plan to follow the link and re-read more.

    As you point out, Lent is an important time for us all to look within, and by God’s Grace “in His Light, to see light” on how we have, or have not, been faithful. This is important not only for each unique member of the Body of Christ, but for all the Church as members one of another.

    As one member of the Church grows in holiness, we all grow, but as one member falls, we all suffer. May we remain in Christ that we may grow in His Life — the Supernatural Life given to us in Baptism. Please let us pray for one another, for the Church and for all in need of God’s Mercy. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Thomas. I am certainly going to read Chapter 3! I want to learn all I can about my God and Savior. Christ liveth in me…thanks be to God!

  3. I echo your final comment and continue to ask God to allow me to do the right things and not to fail at making the right choices for God. I pray every morning for strength as I face the challenges I see everyday in our secular world. Sometimes I fear how human I am and how hurt I feel by others and ask God every day to help me find the strength to forgive and move on. In His love, thank you Thomas

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