In a previous post on daily, intimate prayer, we discussed how we slowly but surely come to know the constant presence of the Trinity within us, and we especially appropriate this presence to our Greatest Friend and Sanctifier, the Holy Spirit. However, this only happens completely IF we persevere in the Grace of mental prayer through constant begging for the Grace and rigorous learning about this daily, intimate prayer through practice, trial and error, until the right habits are formed through Grace. One of the keys to this transformation is understanding the difference between meditation and contemplation, so God can guide us to where He ultimately wants to take us, and we can cooperate with Him. To simplify the distinction, we can use this broad and general outline. In meditation, we are using our intellect, imagination, and will to ponder the Gospels or other excellent material on the life of Christ and His virtues, and we seek to draw Grace from this exercise of prayer to imitate Him in Love through resolutions. In contemplation, we are being led by God to simply Love and experience Him as He sees fit for us and to return this Love. In both modes of intimate prayer, we must be certain by Faith of God’s presence within us, so God can use this Faith and Trust, to move us closer to Him in Love! Our faithful guide, Fr, Jacques Philippe teaches us: “We know by Faith that God is present in His creation and we can contemplate Him there; He is present in the Eucharist (in a preeminent way) and we can adore Him there; He is present in His Word, and we can find God by meditating on Scripture.
“There is, however, another mode of God’s presence of the greatest importance for our life of prayer: God’s presence within our heart (as the seat of our soul)…Regardless of what we may or may not feel, we are certain through Faith that God dwells in the depths of our hearts (when we are in a state of Grace). ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?’ says St. Paul. St. Teresa of Avila herself tells how this Truth once grasped, profoundly changed her prayer life: ‘it is clear to me that if I had understood, as I do today, that in this tiny place of my soul, such a great King is living, I would not have left Him alone so often, I would have gone to seek Him from time to time, and I would have taken steps to ensure that the palace was less dirty. How admirable it is then to think that He, whose greatness would fill a thousand worlds and much more, shuts Himself into such a little thing! In truth, since He is the Master, He is free, and since He loves us, He reduces Himself to the measure of our smallness.'”
“…Christians can legitimately enter into themselves because, beyond their inner wretchedness they find God…who dwells in us through the Grace of the Holy Spirit. ‘The deepest center of the soul is God’ says St. John of the Cross’.”
Fr. Jacques concludes this critical reminder for us: “When we don’t know how to pray, the simplest thing to do is to recollect ourselves, keep silence, and enter into our own heart, go down into ourselves, and by Faith, rejoin the presence of God who dwells within us, and stay peacefully with Him. Don’t leave Him alone, keep Him company.
…”Someone who perseveres in doing this will soon realize the reality of what Eastern Christians call the ‘place of the heart’ or the ‘inner cell’ as Catherine of Siena called it. This is the center of our being, where God has taken up His abode and we can always be with Him. Yet many men and women do not know about this inner space of communion with God because they have never gone there, never visited this garden to gather its fruits. Happy are they who make the discovery of ‘the Kingdom of God is within you’. It will change their lives.
…”This is a truth of immense importance for the whole of life…..St. Teresa of Avila said a person who perseveres in mental prayer is like someone going to get water from a well–he let’s down the bucket and at first all he draws up is mud; but if he has trust and perseveres, the day will come when he finds the purest water…If by persevering in mental prayer we discover that ‘place of heart’, little by little our thoughts, choices and actions, which all too often spring from superficial levels (our worries, annoyances, immediate reactions) will begin to have their source in the deep center of the soul where we are united to God in love. Then everything will proceed from Love…”
We know by calling upon Mary as our true spiritual Mother, through the power of our intimate way of life with her through the Flame of Love Grace, that this transformation through daily, intimate prayer of meditation and contemplation will occur. Begging for this Grace through her as the Mediatrix of all Grace, will allow us to much more quickly and securely imitate Jesus Christ, and be Jesus Christ to all whom we encounter, than ever before. As God in His infinite Love and Mercy simply yearns to find souls who wish to Love Him as He Loves us! Fiat! Let us pray together as the infants we are: “Lord, I can not do this, but I trust that You can and will. For my part, I simply desire and persevere in knowing You are doing it each day and in each moment that I persist! It is in the repenting and the trying each day in Love that You my dear Creator and Savior will do it! All things come to those who trust and who wait on the Lord in Love! Could a mother deny her infant?