The wings that stretched the heavens like clouds I climbed upon. And long and ardently they bore me in their easeful flight. They were strong. Fireless they were…I was a puny burden, no more than dust. The long, smooth surge I rested on became my final trust.
The heavens’ span and all the wide, thronged space of universes is to these wings an habitable room, a stretching place for leisurely tours and comfortable journeyings. What, now that I have cast myself upon their strength, have I to fear? And yet my heart is humbled into awe to be so near.
Whenever a human being belongs to God so completely that God can do what he wants in and through him or her, such a person is called a mystic. A mystic is someone who no longer lives his or her own life. God has “taken over” and lives his/her life. Saint Paul has given us an unsurpassed definition of mysticism: “…it is no longer I who live…it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
The mystics teach us that Christian life is much richer than we imagine. “Don’t be content with so little,” they tell us, “don’t live a maimed life; you are greater than you suppose.”
We need these close friends of God to shake us up…we who so often reduce the Christian life to some commandments and obligations. They have a message for us.
“Poor you,” they say, “why do you stand there freezing? Place yourself under the sun, enjoy the warmth. Why are you so thirsty? Place yourself under the waterfall and drink. There is plentiful water. Your life doesn’t have to be so impoverished. You think God is far away, yet you don’t even have to search for him. He is inside of you. You carry a treasure. Is it not time for you to wake up?”
Without the mystics we risk seeing Christianity as a cold and dead skeleton of dogmatic statements and moral admonitions. The mystics show us that the skeleton in reality is a living organism, a living body. Christianity is full of life, a life that makes us happy. The mystics teach us through their own example that God can make a person “drunk” with love and joy.
~ A meditation by Wilfrid Stinissen, Carmelite friar
God is in a hurry! The collapse of Western civilization is all around us. We are called to stand still in the midst of chaos, violence, and disorder, as we build a house of love for others in our hearts. The walls inside our hearts are breaking down. The restoration is speeding up within us.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
Love is the only reality. We have dedicated and consecrated ourselves to gospel love, not human love. This is what our lives are meant to incarnate. Our primary charism is to love God passionately, and to love and accept ourselves according to our God-given uniqueness. Then we can love one another. Never has it been more important that others touch the reality of God living in, with, and through each of us.
This begins at Mass.
~ Meditations for spiritual pilgrims by Jean Fox, Madonna House Apostolate
Let us assume that we do want God or, at least, we want to want God, wobbly and weak though we know ourselves to be. ‘If it is you, bid me come to you upon the waters.’(Mt. 14.28) It is the Lord and he says: ‘Come!’ So we can confidently enter into the Mystery that is God, relying solely on Jesus and not at all on ourselves. To enter into real prayer, prayer that opens us to the mystical dimension is, in one sense, to enter into an alien element. At least, it is experienced as such, though, if we are faithful we shall discover that it is in fact our true home. But we have to be willing to let go of our own criterion of what prayer is and what growth in the Spirit might mean. There are all sorts of ways of praying and there are books galore to direct us on them; yet these, at bottom, keep us in the boat. The boat might rock a bit and feel uncomfortable at times; but at least, with our method to guide us, we can man it and have some control. Real prayer lets go of the controls, or, more truly, lets go when they are wrenched away from us, and how often we experience this, even to being tipped out in squall. Oh dear! Most of us see this as an unfortunate occurrence that must never be repeated and so we refit our boat, and improve our sailing skills to ensure that we have control once more.
What does it mean in practice to say we must be there for God and let God control our prayer, let God act? Does it mean we remain inert, completely passive? No, decidedly not! The essential thing we have to do is believe in the enfolding, nurturing, transforming Love of God which is the Reality: the Reality that is absolutely, totally there whether we avert It or not. Prayer, from our side, is a deliberate decision to avert to It, to respond to It in the fullest way we can. To do this we must set time aside to devote exclusively to the ‘Yes’ of faith.
God of Thy goodness, give me Thyself: for Thou art enough to me, and I may nothing ask that is less that may be full worship to Thee; and if I ask anything that is less, ever me wanteth… but only in Thee I have all.
(Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, ch.5).
If we are convinced that this is the heart of prayer, this basic decision to remain open to the inflowing of divine love, then we shall understand that we can choose any method we like to help us maintain this basic desire and intention. Our troubles and distress arise from our instinctive assumption that the method is the prayer, and so we gauge the genuineness and success of the prayer by how well the method has worked.
We must remember that prayer takes place at the deepest level of our person and escapes our direct cognition; therefore we can make no judgement about it. It is God’s holy domain and we may not usurp it. We have to trust it utterly to God. This is one of the principle ways in which we surrender control and “walk on the water”. We must be ready to believe that ‘nothingness’ is the presence of divine Reality; emptiness is a holy void that Divine Love is filling. Remember, we are casting ourselves wholly on Jesus, on his ‘Come’! We must give up wanting assurances either from within or without. You see, we cannot have it both ways!