In Your heart I live, O my Lord In Your heart I trust In Your heart I hide In Your heart I seek O my Beloved, In Your heart I dream In Your heart I wish In Your heart I place all my longings.
My Jesus, King of my heart In Your heart I hope and love and see O my Beloved, Lover of my soul In You I rest alone You are my peace You alone suffices You are my all In You and in Your silence I find my way.
What is faith? What does it mean to have it or lack it?
Faith is a profound mystery that we can never adequately explain. It is an interplay between divine grace and the human mind and will. We are speaking of Christian faith, and that is faith in Jesus Christ as the incarnate Word of God. The object of our Christian faith is the God revealed in Jesus Christ.
Faith is never a mere intellectual assent but always involves commitment. It is always in action, more a verb than a noun. Faith cannot be one facet or a particular aspect of my life, but my whole life. As St. Paul says, “My real life is the faith I have in the Son of God who loved me and delivered himself for me.”
It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to believe…”No one can come to me except the Father draw him”… but we must cooperate with all our powers. And this means we must “labor for the food which endures to eternal life” (John 6:27). “This is the labor of God that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29). What can be more important?
Many people think they have no faith because they feel they haven’t. They do not realize that they must make a choice to believe, take the risk of believing, of committing themselves and setting themselves to live out the commitment. Never mind that they continue to feel that they do not believe. Under cover of being “authentic” we can spend our lives waiting for the kind of certainty we cannot have.
What, then, is doubt?
I do not see how we can talk of faith if we eliminate the possibility of doubt. We cannot have the certainties that our nature craves and finds in the evidence of the senses. Perhaps most of the time we do not advert to doubt, but at times it can press heavily. As far as I am concerned, troublesome feelings of doubt seem a matter of the imagination failing to cope. Although we have no scientific verification for what we believe, there is nothing irrational in Christian faith but an enormous amount of data to support it.
In times of difficulty my anchorage is the Gospels. There I encounter Christ, “Light most beautiful,” who overcomes the darkness of doubt. My faith is essentially faith in Jesus Christ: “You are truth. Your word is truth and what is troubling me is a lie.” I believe that there comes a point when a person is so held by God that, no matter how assaulted that person may be, faith stands firm, for “no one can snatch them from the hand of my Father” (John 10:29).
~ A Reflection by Sister Rachel of the Carmelite community in Norfolk, UK
“Awake , O my soul. How long will you remain asleep? Beyond the sky there is a King who wishes to possess you; He loves you immeasurably, with all His Heart. He loves you with so much kindness and faithfulness that He left His kingdom and humbled Himself for you, permitting Himself to be bound like a malefactor in order to find you. He loves you so strongly and tenderly, He is so jealous of you and has given you so many proofs of this, that He willingly gave up His Body to death. He bathed you in His Blood and redeemed you by His death. How long will you wait to love Him in return? Make haste, then, to answer Him. “Behold, O loving Jesus, I come to You. I come, drawn by Your meekness, Your mercy, Your charity; I come with my whole heart and soul, and all my strength. Who will give me to be entirely conformed to Your heart, in order that You may find in me everything You desire? “O Jesus, my King and my God, take me into the sweet shelter of Your divine Heart, and there unite me to Yourself in such a way that I shall live totally for You. Permit me to submerge myself henceforth in that vast sea of Your mercy, abandoning myself entirely to Your goodness, plunging into the burning furnace of Your love, and remaining there forever… “But what am I, O my God, I, so unlike You, the outcast of all creatures? But You are my supreme confidence, because in You can be found the supplement or rather, the abundance of all the favors I have lost. Enclose me, O Lord, in the sanctuary of Your Heart opened by the spear, establish me there, guarded by Your gentle glance, so that I may be confided to Your care forever: under the shadow of Your paternal love I shall find rest in the everlasting remembrance of Your most precious love.”
Come and visit me in my garden, the flowers are wild and unkempt, but they like to grow freely in your space, breathing from your air and soaked in your warm rays.
Come and stay my Beloved, the birds greet you with reverence, and I am still, sinking everything in.
My garden is your abode. It’s our meeting place…Oh how much I thank you my Jesus! I thank you for this space filled with the joy of you. This is my place of retreat, where I come to learn all your mysteries and rejoice in your unfailing love.
My Rabonni, your eyes seek me and I encounter yours in an unending song of praise! How do you love me so much? How do you seek me so much? I am breathless…my heartbeat stop at your majesty. I close my eyes, and I lay in your arms, and my garden transforms into an eternal bliss of me in you and you in me.
Last year I had the blessing to travel to Rome and visited the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria. This beautiful church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and is known for the masterpiece of Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila. Here above is the photo I took up close of this very impressive sculpture that is so worth of viewing and contemplating. Bernini became inspired by the most famous vision of Saint Teresa, the wounding of her heart.
In Saint Teresa’s own words:
“Sometimes love, like an arrow, is thrust into the deepest part of the heart and the soul doesn’t know what has happened or what it wants, except all it wants is God. The soul feels as if the arrow has been dipped in a poisonous herb that makes it despise itself for love of him. This pierced soul would gladly lose itself for him. You can’t explain this. It’s impossible to exaggerate the way of God wounds the soul, or the agony this causes, for the soul forgets itself. Yet this pain is so exquisite…so delightful…that no other pleasure in life gives greater happiness.
“Oh, how many times in this state do I remember the words of David: ‘As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.’ I experience it literally when he wounds me.
“Sometimes in this state I saw a vision: an angel in bodily form, standing very close to me on my left side. The angel was not large, but small and very beautiful. His face was so aflame that I thought he must be a cherub, one of the highest order of angels, who seem to be made of fire.
“I saw that his hands held a great golden dart, and at the end of the iron tip fire plumed. The angel plunged the flaming dart through my heart again and again until it penetrated my innermost core. When he withdrew it, it felt like he was carrying the deepest part of me away with him. He left me on fire, consumed with the immense love of God. The pain was so fierce that it made me moan, and its sweetness so utterly divine it abolished any desire to take it away; nor is the soul content with anything but God.”
Prayer is the breath and manifestation of the Spirit of love, and it finds its perfect expression in the Blessed Trinity. All genuine prayer has its source in the life of the Triune God.
If prayer is the breathing of the soul, and love its pulsation, we may conclude that love is the source of prayer. Furthermore, genuine love refers to the selfless love that seeks the happiness of others and is not distorted by selfish passion or attachment. “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Cor 13:4-8).
Such love, true and eternal, cannot have merely human origin. “Love is from God.” says John the Apostle (1 Jn 4:7). In the New Testament the word used for this love is agape (which differentiates it from eros). St. Paul does not use agape to designate human love for God; he uses the phrase “to love God” only twice (Rm 8:28; 1 Cor 8:3). The Christian love we call agape is essentially God’s love for us manifested in Christ. Subsequently, this divine love that is transformed into love of neighbor is also agape. It is God’s love translated into action that permeates the entire Gospel, from first line to last.
If we are capable of loving, it is because “God first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). When we say, “I want to pray,” it is God who prays in us. It seems easier for us to say, “God loves” than “God prays.” Yet, as St. Paul says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Rom 8:26).
The word prayer generally evokes the image of petitions made to God, as in the second part of the Our Father, the Lord’s Prayer. Yet hasn’t God made it clear that before we pray for our “daily bread” we should first ask, “Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come”? Is not the petition “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” God’s will for the establishment of his kingdom on earth, as well as an indication that the kernel of all prayer should be, before all else, a petition for God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness (Mt 6:33)?
Viewed in this light, the heart of prayer lies not in God’s response to our petitions but in making God’s will our prayer. In other words, God’s prayer should become the soul of our prayer. Because of our deafness and blindness, God’s voice is often inaudible, so we lose sight of him and become like wandering sheep. We need, then, to pray for knowledge of God’s will and for strength enlivened by God’s prayer. Such is genuine prayer.
Figuratively speaking, prayer may be compared to water. God’s prayer is the rain that comes from heaven. The land watered by this rain represents humanity. The water absorbed by the land forms an underground current that eventually surfaces as a spring. Our prayer is the spring whose very existence depends on the rain, but if there is to be a spring, there must also be a heart, that like the earth is capable of receiving and retaining the water from heaven, a heart that has emptied itself sufficiently to allow the underground current to flow freely into its empty space. In a heart that is hardened, attached to its own judgement, the spring of prayer will never be allowed to emerge. The basis of true prayer is to make God’s will really ours before seeking to fulfill our own desires.
The seed of prayer is sown in heaven. It pushes its stem toward the earth and comes to grow there. It produces an abundance of fruit. Then, as it becomes seed once more, it thrusts its way back to heaven. ~ Jukichi Yagi
~ An excerpt from the book ‘Awakening to Prayer’, by Augustine Ichiro Okumura, O.C.D.