20 January 2010

God's Descent to the Soul

Have you ever met, or perhaps you are that person who spends hours upon hours in prayer; a person that wild horses couldn’t drag away from Eucharistic Adoration; a person who after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass remains in the church building completely absorbed in thanksgiving? Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska here attempts to describe that special union with God but admits that she “must be silent, for” she “cannot describe what the soul experiences.” Interesting that the greatest unions with God are reduced to silence, for silence is God’s language. Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote: “It is better to be silent and be, than speaking without being. He who so truly possesses the Word of Jesus can hear even His very silence.” Saint Augustine wrote: “In the House of God, feasting is without end. Choirs of angels give an eternal concert in the Face of God and the Eternal Presence communicates a joy that is never diminished. Something of that everlasting and perpetual rejoicing reaches the ears of our heart; something that is a marvel of harmony and sweetness, provided the voices of the world are hushed.” These are only a few in a rather impressive list of those who have attained Wisdom beyond understanding. Why did they seek it? Perhaps it is because they discovered what Dom Augustin Guillerand also discovered when he wrote: “Where are we to find happiness? In God alone!” Here’s what Saint Faustina wrote in her diary.

My communion with the Lord is now purely spiritual. My soul is touched by God and wholly absorbs itself in Him, even to the complete forgetfulness of self. Permeated by God to its very depths, it drowns in His beauty; it completely dissolves in Him -- I am at loss to describe this, because in writing I am making use of the senses; but there, in that union, the senses are not active; there is a merging of God and the soul; and the life of God to which the soul is admitted is so great that the human tongue cannot express it.

When the soul returns to its habitual form of life, it then sees that this life is all darkness and mist and dreamlike confusion, and infant’s swaddling clothes. In such moments the soul only receives from God, for of itself it does nothing; it does not make even the slightest effort; all in her is wrought by God. But when the soul returns to its ordinary state, it sees that it is not within its power to continue in this union.

These moments are short, but their effects are lasting. The soul cannot remain long in this state; or else it would be forcibly freed of the bonds of the body forever. Even as it is, it is sustained by a miracle of God. God allows the soul to know in a clear way how much He loves it, as though it were the only object of His delight. The soul recognizes this clearly and without a veil, so to speak. It reaches out for God with all its might, but it feels like a baby; it knows that this is not within its power. Therefore, God descends to the soul and unites it to Himself in a way that… here, I must be silent, for I cannot describe what the soul experiences.

It is a strange thing that although the soul which experiences this union with God cannot find words and expressions to describe it, nevertheless, when it meets a similar soul, the two understand each other extraordinarily well in regard to these matters, even though they speak but little with each other. A soul united with God in this way easily recognizes a similar soul, even if the latter has not revealed its interior life to it, but merely speaks in an ordinary way. It is a kind of spiritual kinship. Souls united with God in this way are few, fewer than we think.