Presence of God
O Lord, although I am so unworthy, deign to admit me to intimacy with You.
I. Meditation, like meditative reading, is a means to attain to the heart of prayer which, according to St. Teresa of Jesus, is "nothing but friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary converse with Him who we know loves us" (Life, 8). It makes no difference whether we attain this end by means ofmeditation, or reading, or even by the slow, pious recitation of a vocal prayer. All these ways are good; the best for each one, however, will be that which will lead him more quickly to the end, that is, to intimate converse with God. Once we reach the heart of prayer, we must learn how to persevere in it, in other words, to converse "in friendly intercourse with the Lord." Here, likewise, the manner will differ according to one’s attraction and personal dispositions, which will often vary with the days and with circumstances. Sometimes, as soon as we are sufficiently convinced of God’s love for us, we feel incited to express our gratitude to Him, desiring to return love for love, and we spontaneously begin an intimate conversation with the Lord. We express our gratitude, protesting that we want to be more generous in giving ourselves to Him; we beg His pardon for not having done so in the past; finally, we go on to make practical resolutions and to ask His help to keep them faithfully. Of course, this means an intimate colloquy, wholly personal and spontaneous, without preoccupation about form or order, and proceeding only from the superabundance of the heart. In this way, having interrupted the reading or the meditation which has aroused in us so many good thoughts, we "stop to have solitary converse with God," returning to the book or the reflection when we feel the need ofseeking new reasons or of arousing new affections to maintain our colloquy with God. Here is a genuine colloquy, because not only does the soul speak, but God often answers—not audibly, of course, but by sending it graces of light and love through which the soul will have a better understanding of the divine ways, and will feel more eager to advance in them with generosity. It is well, therefore, not to make use of many words in the colloquy, but to stop often and listen interiorly in order to perceive the movements of grace, which are really God’s answer.
II. We must not believe that in order to treat intimately with God and to show Him our love, it is always necessary to do so by means of words. On the contrary — and this happens spontaneously with progress in the spiritual life — we will often prefer to be silent in order to fix our gaze calmly on the Lord, to listen to Him, the interior Master, and to return Him love in silence. The manifestation of our love thus becomes less lively and impetuous, but it gains in depth what it loses in emotion and outward appearance. We expresse our love more tranquilly, but the movement of our will toward God is much firmer and more serious. Leaving aside reasonings and words, we concentrates all in a loving, intuitive look on God, and this gaze, far more than reasonings and colloquies, allows us to penetrate the depths of the divine mysteries. Before reaching this point, we have read, meditated, analyzed; now, enjoying as it were the fruit of our investigation, we stop to contemplate God in silence and love. Our colloquy now becomes silent, contemplative, according to the traditional idea of "contemplation," simplex intuitus veritatis, that is, a simple look which penetrates truth. But let us repeat, this is not a speculative look, but a look of love which keeps the soul in intimate contact with God, in a real exchange offriendship with Him. The more the soul contemplates God, and the more it falls in love with Him, the greater need it feels to concentrate its love in total generosity. The Lord in turn answers this seeking love of the soul. He lets Himself be found and felt by illuminating the soul with His light and drawing it more intensely to Himself by His grace.
The soul will not always be able to continue long in this contemplative look, this silent colloquy; now and again it will need to come back to reflection, to the verbal expression of its thoughts, and—especially when it is not yet accustomed to this manner of prayer—it will be well for it to do so rather often, in order to avoid vagueness and distractions. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that more is gained in these silent pauses at the feet of Our Lord than in a thousand reasonings and discourses.
"Grant, O Lord, that the purpose of my prayer may be to occupy my heart with loving You; and since I can find no better way to practice love than by this intimate recollection in silence and detachment from all creatures, I beg You, my God, to take away my life rather than deprive me of this interior exchange with You, my paradise on earth" (cf. St. Leonard of Port Maurice).
"O Lord, there is no prof it for You in staying with us; and yet You love us enough to say that Your delight is to dwell in our company. Why do You love us so much as to give Yourself to us more freely than the things we ask of You? It is certain that I no longer desire to possess anything else; since, if I ask You properly, I can receive You, my God, and converse intimately with You. I shall adorn myselfwith the jewels of the virtues, and invite You to the nuptial couch of my heart where I shall rest with You. I know that You neither ask nor wish for anything else than to visit my soul, that You want to enter, and have been knocking at its door for a long time, and I regret that I have so long deprived myself of this great gift. So I shall come near You in the secret place of my heart and say to You : I know that You love me more than I love myself, I shall no longer be concerned for myself, but shall have no thought save for You alone, and You will take care of me. I cannot pay attention to You and to myself at the same time; therefore, in a loving mutual exchange, You will think of me, comforting my infirmity, and I shall think of You, finding my joy in Your goodness. Whereas I have much to gain from You, You have nothing to gain from me; yet I know that You are with me very willingly, and more desirous of helping me than
I am of remaining with You and enjoying Your goodness. Whence does this come? Certainly it arises from this : that I love myself poorly, and You love me well... But if You wished, O Lord, to set before my eyes all the marks of Your love, I would faint away, for even if I had all the tongues of men and of angels, I could never express all the gifts of nature, grace, and glory which You have given me... How then, O Lord, can I think or meditate on anything except Your love? What is sweeter than that? Why should I desire anything else? And how does it happen that I am not seized and bound by Your love? It surrounds me on all sides, and yet I do not comprehend it" (cf. St. Bonaventure).
Topics in this meditation:Meditation
Enjoyed your reading? Share with a friend...