“O poor little one, tossed with tempest, without all comfort, behold I will lay thy stones in order, and will lay the foundations with sapphires.” (Isa. 54, 11.)
Icon of Jesus by artist George Kordis
If we only knew the one thing necessary! (Luke x., 42.) If we only thought of building the one house upon the one foundation! But what can we expect? We build upon the sand.
Is it any wonder that the house will not stand? Such winds blow! Such floods come down! And when the dilapidated building has almost tumbled to the ground, we go into retreat to try to prop it up. And like a child who sees his house of cards collapse and wishes to put it up again, we think about making fresh resolutions and new practices, as external and shallow and incoherent as those which have preceded them: therefore, as frail; and our building is bound to come to the ground once more when smitten by the winds and the floods. And we do not think of trying to find the rock, we do not endeavour to build upon a solid and deep foundation. Do we even know that our building must have a foundation?
In order to erect a building, one must first of all pay attention to the foundations. Without a foundation there is nothing solid, nothing strong, and nothing lasting. The important thing, therefore, is to know the foundations of the Spiritual Life, and to lay them down strongly, and to set the building of perfection on the one basis, apart from which nothing can be erected: “for no one can lay other foundation than that which has been already laid.”
Would that we could say with St. Paul: “According to the grace of God that is given to me, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation which is Christ Jesus.” (I Cor. III, X-XI.)
If the natural rock possesses such astonishing abundance of beauty and wealth, what must be the magnificence, and bounty, and graciousness of the Spiritual Rock, the Living Stone, the Good, the Lovable, Christ! And what should we think of ourselves who are called upon to be living stones built up, a spiritual house, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Jesus Christ, the Corner-stone of life! Weakness takes root with Divine Rock! Sullen clay finds a home in the Living Spiritual Stone! The finite goes in quest of the Infinite! The streamlet loses itself in the great Ocean of God! How lifeless and insignificant when unflooded by His Light!
When the Master spoke of the unshakable house whose foundation was cut deep into, and built upon a rock, He was speaking of Himself as the only safe and secure foundation for the soul amid the winds and waves and whirl-blasts of time. The rain fell, the floods came, the winds beat vehemently upon the house, but did not shake it for it was embedded in the impregnable and unchanging Rock. The rock then is a happy symbol of the sustaining power, the grandeur, the majesty of Christ, to whom we must cling until He draws us down to dwell within Himself. There we shall find the riches of His wisdom and knowledge which will enable us to go through life, not only as strong and mighty warriors, but with a superabundance of love which renders the rough ways smooth, and makes bearable the painful.
Taking root in Christ is seldom accomplished in a day. Little by little through fidelity to His inspirations, we take a firmer hold of the strong and loving Lord. It is not always easy to be faithful to grace, but it is the building up, stone by stone, of this spiritual house in which we offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Jesus Christ, which accomplishes the task.
We catch glimpses here and there, of the marvels of grace in the souls of others. We see men and women of the world bearing weighty burdens of care and responsibility with a smile upon their lips and a kindliness of manner at which we wonder. Others, with lifelong sorrows pressing upon the heart—sorrows from which there is no escape, but about which the sufferers are silent and uncomplaining, because of their love for Him to whom they offer holocausts within the shelter of their soul. Could we but see the thousands of hidden sanctuaries ablaze with the light of heeded grace, we should strive to be of the number of those whose ambition it is to keep aglow every taper of spiritual light shed upon us by the inexhaustible bounty of the Holy Spirit. These sanctuaries are everywhere—not only in the cloister but all along the highways of life, amid the din and noise and laughter of the world, down among the slums and water fronts of great cities, even in the midst of corruption where it seems impossible for sinlessness to thrive; there we find the exquisite touch of God’s grace, for the Master has His friends in every walk of life.
Locality is no obstacle to the entrance of Divine Grace within the soul. It halts before each casement begging for admittance; we have but to open the door and bid it welcome and our house will be flooded with light which, day by day, will increase in brightness until all things will be seen and judged by the brilliancy of the Holy Spirit. This is the life of the friends of Christ and He has many such. These friends are generally hidden, but their strength, resulting from fidelity to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, is felt by others who are influenced and sustained by it. The things that are visible to the naked eye are, for the most part, temporal, whereas the things hidden and unguessed, unlooked for and obscure, are eternal.
How often does not our superficial spiritual life leave Jesus outside and on the surface! And He Himself declares that He wishes to dwell within the soul, and the soul to dwell within Himself. (John XV, 4.) Is not the point to which souls must be brought to-day, when so many of them have forgotten the paths of the Interior Life—the fundamental dogma of the Indwelling of God in the soul?
The abiding of Christ involves the positive clinging to Him. It is like the growth of friendship; at first these two people were very little to each other, but by interaction and acts of kindness they grew to know each other better, then one took more hold upon the other’s thoughts, the influence became stronger; when outwardly separated they were less and less apart in thought. The drawing near of two friends or their separation is like nothing else. It is the mysterious action of one person upon another. So is the soul’s coming to the Master of Love. The mind is more constantly filled with His Presence, His influence gradually penetrates through the whole soul, shaping and forming the character. The first question in coming to any decision is, “What would He wish?” The last question when any work is done is, “Will it be pleasing to Him?” The whole character is swayed and controlled by His influence. How wonderful it is to see many a rough, undisciplined, self-centered man pass beneath the spell of that Sacred Presence and gradually become transformed, still indeed himself, but with all that unmistakable characteristic that betokens His work.
~ A Meditation compiled by A Religious, ‘In Love with the Divine Outcast’ 1934
“A God is the Divine Guest of my soul, dwelling there day and night, desirous of receiving the unceasing homage of my intimate friendship and my love.”