12 March 2009

Growing in Prayer -- Advancing towards God

The battle of establishing interior peace

Saint Augustine has defined peace as tranquility of order. When our reason and our will are surrendered to God, and our passions to our reason and will, the essential conditions of interior peace are established. Social and moral human maturation is about establishing order. The goal is not the destruction of the passions but their rehabilitation according to a true priority of values. Grace builds on nature… We must cultivate attentiveness, vigilance … that watches at the door of the heart in order to turn away hurtful desires before they can ever enter into the heart. But this is accomplished over a long period of time. It is more efficacious to exorcise the problem by nurturing what is good. We must focus the energy of the passions and direct them towards the good, towards God.

Detachment from the world is necessary

Every religion and every human being who has sought to live their life in all its fullness has discovered the need for a certain separation from the world outside in order to enter within the heart. This is evidently necessary to keep the attention from being distracted by other things while it focuses on the sole object that it wishes to examine more closely. All study requires this, and all prayer presupposes it to a certain degree. Mystical experience is found in all major religions; they are unanimous in saying that such experience requires detachment in regard to every created thing (as such) and the going beyond every representation. God is Wholly Other.

Yielding to silence

The spiritual life and the life of prayer always grow into greater simplicity, and it is important that each person should consciously encourage this tendency by seeking simplicity and purity in life as in prayer. It is always appropriate to yield to moments of silence in prayer, to be silent in order to let God speak if He will. Let each hear the Voice of the Spirit within.

Growing into simplicity and humility

Most of us are not strong enough for God to inundate us with manifest grace. We would become proud and claim it as our own; we would grasp the gifts instead of yielding to the Giver; we would lose the invaluable means of pure faith. The light of grace is so translucent and delicate that its presence in all its purity remains hidden, often unperceived. It is only when it passes through our sensibility that it becomes visible. The mystics consider ecstasy as a weakness of the body that is not yet completely in harmony with the Spirit. There are those in whose life everything is ordinary, simple, humble. But they radiate a certain peace, a certain joy. In such a person we can perceive a soul whose heart is so given to God that this condition is their deepest reality, but so natural that it is not possible to pin it down in discrete acts. It is scarcely conscious of itself.

Becoming empty in silent love

When a mysterious attraction makes it impossible for the soul any longer to be nourished by ordinary means of meditation, it must be quiet, attentive, listening for what the Voice of God says directly to the heart. It is the moment of being an emptiness for God, an attentive silence of love. This is the good emptiness, hollowed out by God, created by love. It is perfectly normal that someone who lives continually in the presence of God, who does His will, who loves and knows he is loved by Him, has an intimate and simple relationship with Him. Such a person doesn’t need lengthy pondering to turn towards God, nor many words to express faith and love. He will speak to the Lord with utter simplicity about his concerns, his wounds, his desires, etc. He will remain quietly in His presence, occasionally in the silence of a simple gaze of love and trust.

~The Way of Silent Love, Conference XI~