15 November 2010

Come to Me!

Prayer is the duty of every moment. ‘We ought always to pray’, said our Lord (Saint Luke 18:1). And what He said, He did: therein lay His great power. Action always accompanied His words, and corresponded with them.

We must pray always in order to be on our guard (cf. Saint Matthew 26:41). Our life both of body and soul, our natural and supernatural life, is like a fragile flower. We live surrounded by enemies. Ever since man rejected the light that was meant to show him the way (cf. Saint John 1:5), everything has become for us an obstacle and a danger: we live in the shadow of death (cf. Saint Luke 1.79 & Ps. 106.10).

Instead of pointing to the Creator and leading us to Him, things show only themselves, with the result that we stop at them. The devil, to whom we stupidly gave them when we gave him ourselves, speaks to us through their many voices; his shadow darkens their transparence. Beyond their attractive forms we no longer seek the beauty they reflect, but merely the pleasure and satisfaction they are able to offer us.

But the enemy is not only at our door, he is even more within us. And he is at our door, because he is within us. It is we who have invited him in. In turning towards him, we have turned the whole universe away from God. This is why the world is against us. It is inimical, hostile to us, and not without reason. Through the world and by it, we have let war loose within ourselves and in everything. This is only what one would expect, but it is terrible all the same.

What a profound definition of peace is Saint Augustine's! Above all, in these days, when the world is convulsed to its center, when men and things serve only to kill and destroy, how necessary it is to ponder well these words, the very sound of which is full of the calm they express: Peace is the tranquility of order. Order means that everything is in its proper place. God made men superior to all things (cf. Genesis 2.15), and all things turned to God as to their Source, to receive from Him their being moment by moment, and to thank Him and bless Him. That was the way God acted, and this is His order and His peace. It was this that fundamentally constituted the terrestrial Paradise, and will one day be the heavenly Paradise for those who have understood and taken up again this attitude (Genesis 3 passim).

I remember seeing once a frightened and hunted animal that had lost its way. It rushed through an open gate that led into a garden full of flowers, with what disastrous results can be imagined. This is an image, though a very imperfect one, of a soul when it allows the wild beast of the world to enter into it, ever since our first parents turned away from God and listened to the voice of the tempter. As a consequence, we live in a country occupied by the enemy, and it is our business to drive him out of it; to turn away from him and turn back to God, and so secure our liberty. And we have to do this without any armed or organized forces; with our faculties in disorder, our strength impaired, and surrounded by enemies on all sides or by those who are indifferent to our lot.

No greater helplessness could be imagined, had we not God. And that is why prayer is so necessary, and why our Lord had to tell us so insistently to pray, and to pray always. Hence, too, His saying which can seem so overwhelming: ‘Without Me, you can do nothing’ (Saint John 15.5), as well as His invitation so consoling and comforting: ‘Come to me’ (Saint Matthew 11.28).

Prayer is the soul's response to that invitation. It comes; it makes known its wretchedness, it pleads for help, for light for the mind and strength for the will. It asks for grace to bring its passions under the control of its higher will, and to submit that will to God, Who is order and peace. And God says to the soul: I am and always will be a Father: I love you and await your coming – Come!

~ Dom Augustin Guillerand ~