Contemplate the truth of these passages; read them slowly, meditatively, allowing them to arouse the heart to prayer. Let them simply remind you of your heart’s chief desire–toï¿½be always close to God.
The Spiritual Life; Evelyn Underhill, Morehouse Publ. Harrisburg, Penn., 1937
A spiritual life is simply a life in which all that we do comes from the center, where we are anchored in God; a life soaked through and through by a sense of His reality and claim, and self-given to the great movement of His will.
There is no occasion for tumult, strain, conflict, anxiety, once we have reached the living conviction that God is All. All takes place within Him. He alone matters.
To enter consciously into the spiritual life will mean time and attention given to it; a deliberate drawing-in from the circumference to the center, that “setting of life in order” for which St. Thomas Aquinas prayed.
The word Adoration implies the upward and outward look of humble and joyful admiration. Awe-struck delight in the splendour and beauty of God, the action of God and the Being of God, in and for Himself alone.
St. John of the Cross says that every quality or virtue, which the Spirit really produces in us, has three distinguishing characters–Tranquility, Gentleness and Strength. All our action must be peaceful, gentle and strong. It suggests an immense depth, and an invulnerable steadiness which come from the fact that our small action is now part of the total action of God whose Spirit works always in tranquility.
Fuss and feverishness, anxiety, intensity, intolerance, instability, pessimism and wobble, and every kind of hurry and worry–these are signs of the self-made and self-acting soul.
“He who is in a hurry delays the things of God.” St. Vincent de Paul
“God is the only Reality, and we are only real in so far as we are in His order, and He is in us.” St. Augustine
What is asked of us is not necessarily a great deal of time devoted to what we regard as spiritual things, but the constant offering of our wills to God, so that the practical duties which fill most of our days can become part of His order and be given spiritual worth.
The spiritual discipline means filling our minds with ideas that point the right way, instead of ones which distract us from God and spiritual things. It means also some time, even a very short time, given to communion with Him; and perseverance in this practice. This will also involve expelling from our life those thoughts and acts which are inconsistent with our desire for communion with God.
Letters of Direction, Abbe de Tourville, Mowbray, London, 1982.
Let us be able to depend quietly on ourselves. Let us judge for ourselves which things most help, guide, and teach us, by observing the degree in which they fit our own particular temperament; learning by experience those things which help us and which we most need.
Live according to your own nature; inwardly without restriction; outwardly in so far as external conditions permit.
One of the hardest things is to follow our own particular line of development, side by side with souls who have quite a different one; often one opposed to our own. It is natural for youth to hesitate between an attitude which it fears may be presumptuous and a candid admission of inferiority to everything around it. But this hesitation must cease or we will never grow up.
Still less must we look for approval and appreciation as a sign that we are on the right path.
We must therefore free ourselves absolutely of this anxious desire to be at one with other souls, however virtuous or wise they may be; just as we must never expect them to see things through our eyes. We must follow our own light as though we were alone in the world, save as regards to charity to others.
Therefore leave your soul to pray as suits it best, in its own way, without strain. Allow it most of the time to remain quiet, still. In a word, follow your bent.
For nothing is more individual to each soul than the form of its intimacy with our Lord. His earthly life revealed also that no two were intimate with Him in the same sort of way.
Observe the path you take instinctively at those times when you are most keenly aware of the real and intimate presence of our Lord. Realize that there lies your own particular grace.
We must follow our own path and not worry about the puddles into which we fall. The journey itself repairs the accidents into which it has led us. Tidy and timid travellers are never good travellers.
Between the extremes of foolhardiness and timidity, boldness is true wisdom.
A perfect childlike simplicity puts us at once into intimate relationship with God, without any hindrance. Let us try more and more to maintain in the depths of our souls the childlike simplicity and artlessness which our Lord asks and commands.
From every point of view we gain infinitely more by looking at our Lord, than by looking at ourselves. We shake off our faults more quickly and effectively when we adore our Lord than when we examine and criticize ourselves.
The soul gains very little from looking at itself. Such an occupation gives rise only to discouragement, preoccupation, distress, uncertainty, and illusion.
God asks only one thing–that you should be on close and friendly terms with Him, without fear; without ceremony.
Our Lord is our true and chief Director, who, without our knowledge, has arranged matters in such a way that our lives turn out quite differently from what we should have expected; infinitely better for our salvation and glory than we should ever have dared to hope.
Be bold enough always to believe that God is on your side and wholly yours, whatever you may think of yourself.
Think of this and say to yourself “I am loved by God more than I can either conceive or understand.”
Rejoice that you are what you are; for our Lord loves you very dearly. He loves the whole of you, just as you are.
Remember that it is our souls which are God’s joy; not on account of what they do for Him, but on account of what He does for them. All that He asks of them is to gladly accept his kindness, his generosity, his tolerance, his fatherly love.
Do not worry any more about what you are or are not. You are the object of His mercy. Be satisfied with that and think only of that.
The Mystery of grace which works in us is in a sense a copy of the Mystery of the Incarnation. By grace Jesus takes possession of our personality and fills it with His Divinity. He desires to make use of us by grace as he made use of His own nature in the Incarnation.
The intimacy of the soul with our Lord provides our true nourishment, our true home, however much circumstances change.
The root of many of our troubles is the desire to have only good inclinations. That is neither necessary nor possible. In countless ways we shall always feel ourselves to be wicked, unstable and unreasonable. We must realize that this is our nature and not our real personality; not our true, deliberate and voluntary desire; not the goal of our efforts. [Rom 7]
Far from your defects being charged against your soul and conscience, they are, before God, your defense, your justification and your glory.
What you need to realize is that a good state of soul can, in this world, go hand in hand with a feeling of deep inward disharmony, of confusion and cloudiness.
Do not fear things too much, for we often suffer more from the things we fear than from those which really come to pass. And what good does it do, seeing that when evils come, they bring with them strength to enable us to accept them; a strength which we do not have in advance.
The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
When I apply myself to prayer, I feel all my spirit and all my soul lift itself up without any care or effort of mine, and it continues as it were suspended and firmly fixed in God, as in its center and place of rest.
There is not in this world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.
When we are faithful to keep ourselves in His holy presence, and set Him always before us, this not only hinders our offending Him and doing anything that may displease Him, at least willfully, but it also begets in us a holy freedom, and, if I may so speak, a familiarity with God, wherewith we ask, and that successfully, the graces we stand in need of.
Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God, and that all besides is but folly and vanity.
We are to be pitied, who content ourselves with so little. God has infinite treasure to bestow, but we hinder God and stop the current of His grace. We often stop this torrent by the little value we set upon it.
Since by His mercy He gives us still a little time, let us begin in earnest; let us repair the lost time; let us return with a full assurance to the Father of mercies, who is always ready to receive us affectionately.
Above all, get a habit of entertaining yourself often with God, and forget Him the least you can.
After having given myself wholly to God, that He might take away my sin, I renounced, for the love of Him, everything that was not He, and I began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world.
I do not say that we must put any violent constraints upon ourselves. No, we must serve God in a holy freedom; we must do our business faithfully, without trouble or disquietude, recalling our mind to God mildly, and with tranquility, as often as we find it wandering from Him.
Accustom yourself, then, by degrees thus to worship Him, to beg His grace, to offer Him your heart from time to time in the midst of your business, even every moment, if you can. Do not scrupulously confine yourself to certain rules, or particular forms of devotion, but act with a general confidence in God, with love and humility.
If we do what we can on our parts, we shall soon see the change in us we aspire after.
Let all our employment be to know God; the more one knows Him, the more one desires to know Him.
We must know before we can love. In order to know God, we must often think of Him; and when we come to love Him, we shall also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure.
Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, Jeanne Guyon, Christian Books Publishing House, Auburn Maine, 1975.
There is nothing in this universe that is easier to obtain than the enjoyment of Jesus Christ. Your Lord is more present to you than you are to yourself; his desire to give Himself to you is greater than your desire to lay hold of Him.
The Lord’s chief desire is to reveal Himself to you and, in order for Him to do that, He gives you abundant grace.
The Lord gives you the experience of enjoying His presence. He touches you, and His touch is so delightful that, more than ever, you are drawn inwardly to Him.
As you come, come with a deep sense of love; come to Him very gently; come to Him with a deep sense of worship.
There is a fire within you and it ebbs and grows. That fire, when it ebbs, must be gently fanned, but only gently. Just as soon as that fire begins to burn, again cease all your efforts.
As you come to the Lord bring a heart that is not seeking anything for itself, that only desires to please Him and do His will.
He hides Himself for a purpose, to rouse you from spiritual laziness, to cause you to pursue Him
Knowing the depths of Jesus Christ is not a method, but a life-long attitude. It is a matter of being enveloped by God and possessed by Him
Abandonment is the key to the inward spiritual life, it is one thing to reach this state; it is another thing to remain there.
Great faith produces great abandonment.
Abandonment is casting off all your cares, dropping all your needs. This includes your spiritual needs.
Abandonment is practiced by continually losing your own will in the will of God.
In the past it was natural for you to live on the surface of your being; now it will be your habit to live in the center of your being where your Lord dwells.
The center of anything always exerts a very powerful drawing force, as with gravity and the stars. That fact is even more true in the spiritual realm. On the one hand, there is a drawing force in the center of your being; it is powerful and irresistible. And on the other hand, there is also a very strong tendency in every person to be reunited to his center. The center is not only drawing the object away from the surface, but the object itself tends toward its center.
The soul needs no other force to draw it than the weight of love.
Jesus Christ is the great magnet of your soul, but of your soul only. He will not draw the impurities and mixtures that are mingled with it. Any such impurities prevent His full power of attraction.
The more the soul advances toward its center–that is, the farther it is removed from the surface–the less the soul exerts itself.
When we speak of continual prayer, we are speaking of a prayer that originates from within. It originates there and works out, filling and permeating your whole being.
Rest quietly before the Lord. Let this simple quiet rest in Him always be your preparation for everything.
Prayer is a melting, a dissolving and an uplifting of the soul. It causes the soul to ascend to God.
The soul acts in response to the moving of God’s Spirit. “For all who are being led by the Spirit, these are the sons and daughters of God” -(Rom 8:14)
The soul must simply follow the Spirit until it reaches its ultimate end.
Nothing is as quick to return to its center as is the soul to the Spirit. Therefore hold your soul at peace. The more peaceful your soul is, the more quickly it is able to move toward God, its center.
The experience of union begins very simply when there is born in you a desire for God. When the soul begins to turn inward to the life of the Spirit; when the soul begins to fall under the powerful, magnetic attraction of the Spirit. At this point, an earnest desire for union with God is born.
The Spirit intercedes in you for all that is necessary for your perfection.
Simply keep returning to Him each time you have wandered away. When something is repeated over and over, it becomes a habit. This is true even of your soul. After much practice your soul forms the habit of turning inward to God.
When this act has been formed in you, it will express itself as a continual abiding in your spirit and a continuous exchange of love between you and the Lord.
Inside your spirit there is an act going on. It is a sweet sinking into Deity. The inward attraction–the magnetic pull–becomes more and more powerful. Your soul, dwelling in love, is drawn by this powerful attraction and sinks continually deeper into that love.
Under the powerful attraction of God drawing you into Himself, the inward activity has increased; it has become deep, inward, hidden and outwardly imperceptible.
After the ship has left port, the pilot is content to spread the sails and hold the rudder. All he does now is keep the swiftly moving vessel gently on its course.
When the winds are favourable, the pilot rests from his work and leaves the ship to be moved by the wind. Oh what progress they make without becoming the least bit tired. They are making more progress in one hour without any effort than they ever did before even when exerting all their strength. If the oars were used now, it would only slow the ship and cause fatigue–they are now useless and unnecessary.
The heart is the key. The heart alone can oppose His sovereignty. In gaining the heart, the Lord’s sovereignty is confessed and highly honored.
Mother Theresa; Something Beautiful for God
We must be aware of oneness with Christ, as he was aware of oneness with his Father. Our activity is truly apostolic only in so far as we permit him to work in us and through us, with his power, with his desire, with his love. We must become holy, not because we want to feel holy, but because Christ must be able to live his life fully in us.
Love to pray. Feel often during the day the need for prayer, and take trouble to pray. Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself.
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.
The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us.
Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.
Our progress in holiness depends on God and ourselves–on God’s grace and on our will to be holy. We must have a real living determination to reach holiness. “I will be a saint” means I will despoil myself of all that is not God.
Put yourself completely under the influence of Jesus, so that he may think his thoughts in your mind, do his work through your hands, for you will be all-powerful with him who strengthens you.
We learn humility through accepting humiliations cheerfully.
Make sure that you let God’s grace work in your souls by accepting whatever he gives you, and giving him whatever he takes from you.
Only by being one with us has he redeemed us. We are allowed to do the same; all the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual destitution, must be redeemed, and we must share it, for only by being one with them can we redeem them, that is, by bringing God into their lives and bringing them to God.
Joy is prayer. Joy is strength. Joy is love. Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. She gives most who gives with joy.
Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.
Our vocation, to be beautiful, must be full of thought for others.
The personal love Christ has for you is infinite; the small difficulty you have with His Church is finite. Overcome the finite with the infinite.
The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer, Horizon Books, Harrisburg, PA, 1948
The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring us to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that we may enter into Him, that we may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of our hearts.
We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. “No one can come to me,” said the Lord, “except that the Father, who has sent me, draw him.”
The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him.
The moment the Spirit quickens us, our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition. That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the Kingdom of God. It is, however, not an end but an inception, for now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart’s happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead
To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.
Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted.
O God, I have tasted your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am conscious of my need of further grace. I confess my lack of desire O God. I want to want You more; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me your glory I pray so that I may truly know you.
He moves us to return. This first comes to our notice when our restless hearts feel a yearning for the Presence of God and we say within ourselves, “I will arise and go to my Father.”
God wills that we should push on into His Presence and live our whole life there. This is to be known to us in conscious experience. It is more than a doctrine to be held, it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day.
Those who have been in the Presence of God and have looked with opened eye upon His majesty have a unique quality about them. They speak with spiritual authority. They have been in the Presence of God and they report what they have seen there. They are prophets, not scribes, for the scribe tells us what he has read, and the prophet tells what he has seen.
To push into sensitive living experience into the Holy Presence of God is a privilege open to every child of God
The soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear.
The vital quality that the saints have in common is spiritual receptivity, urging them Godward. They have a spiritual awareness and they go on to cultivate it until it becomes the biggest thing in their lives. They are saints because, when they felt the inward longing of the Spirit, they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response. As David says, “When you said, ‘Seek my face’, my heart said,’Your face O Lord, I will seek.'”
Spiritual receptivity may be increased by exercise or destroyed by neglect. It is not a sovereign and irresistible force which comes upon us as a seizure from above. It is a gift from God, indeed, but one which must be recognized and cultivated as any other gift if it is to realize the purpose for which it was given.
Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.
It is written that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout all the earth. God sees us. When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on this earth.
PS 34:5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
“Life eternal is nothing other than that blessed regard in which You never cease to behold me, yes, even the secret places of my soul. With You, to behold is to give life.” Nicholas of Cusa.
PS 123:1-2 I lift up my eyes to you,
to you whose throne is in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he shows us his mercy.
If faith is the gaze of the heart at God, and if this gaze is but the raising of the inward eyes to meet the all-seeing eyes of God, then it follows that it is one of the easiest things possible to do. It would be like God to make the most vital thing easy and place it within the range of possibility for the weakest and poorest of us.
In our desire after God let us keep always in mind that God also has desire, and his desire is towards us, especially those who seek him. In them God finds a theater where he can display his presence. With them he can walk unhindered and toward them he can act like the God he is.
Swimming in the Sun; Albert Haase, O.F.M, St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1993
God is like the air we breathe. Perhaps that is why the deeper we grow in the prayerful awareness of the Divine presence in our lives, the less we actually say with words and the more we simply breathe and enjoy it.
How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun. Thomas Merton
Such is the life of prayer; to bask in the consciousness of Abba’s continual gaze.
Prayer is not actively searching for God. It is discovering that I have already been found by God. It is becoming aware of the fact that at every moment of my existence Abba is already contemplating me.
In prayer, we discover what we already have. You start where you are and you deepen what you already have, and you realize that you are already there. Everything has been given to us in Christ. All we need is to experience what we already possess. -Merton
Silent awe is the language of love. It is the adoration of the poor in spirit.
The false self prays from where it thinks it should be or would like to be. The true self prays from where it is.
Let Jesus pray. Thank God Jesus is praying. Forget yourself. Enter into the prayer of Jesus. In the end, praise praises, thanksgiving gives thanks. Jesus prays.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live some distant day into the answers.” -Rilke
Discernment gives attention to the desires, affections and yearnings of the heart. To ignore what we want or desire not only violates personal integrity but refuses to listen to God’s effort to communicate with us.
Where the grace of God has brought me, the grace of God will keep me.
Letters to a Niece: Friedrich Von Hï¿½gel, Regent Publishing, Van., B.C. 1998
O How kind and generous of God when He makes it impossible for us to become very happy unless we become very good.
God leads to Christ, and Christ leads to the Church; and, inversely, the Church leads to Christ, and Christ leads to God.
We get trained in times of darkness into that sense of our impotence without which our very love for the presence of God can become a snare.
The Sacrament of the Present Moment, Jean-Pierre de Caussade
There remains one single duty. It is to keep one’s gaze fixed on the master one has chosen and to be constantly listening so as to understand and hear and immediately obey his will.
The only condition necessary for this state of self-surrender is the present moment in which the soul, light as a feather, fluid as water, innocent as a child, responds to every movement of grace like a floating balloon.
Let us impress upon every soul that the invitation of this gentle, loving Saviour expects nothing difficult or extraordinary of them. He is not making impossible demands on them, he only asks that their good intention be united to his so that he may lead, guide and reward them accordingly.
Time, itself, is a holy sacrament, for time is the history of divine action.
What was best a moment ago is so no longer if it is removed from the divine will which has now passed on to be changed to form the duty to the next. And it is that duty, whatever it may be, that is now most sanctifying for the soul.
If the divine will ordains that reading is the duty to the present moment, reading achieves that mysterious purpose. If the divine will abandons reading for an act of contemplation, that duty will bring about a change of heart, and then reading would no longer be productive to sanctification.
Obedience to God’s undefined will depends entirely on our surrender to it, our preparedness to do anything, or nothing. Like a tool that, though it has no power in itself, when in the hands of the craftsman, can be used for any purpose within the range of its capacity and design. Such souls are like molten metal, filling whatever vessel God chooses to pour them into.
You seek perfection and it lies in everything that happens to you–your suffering, your actions, your impulses are the mysteries under which God reveals himself to you.
God hides himself in order to raise souls up to that perfect faith which will discover him under every kind of disguise.
The instinct of faith is joy in God’s goodness and trust founded on the hope of his protection; a faith which delights in and accepts everything with good grace.
The Love of God, submission to his divine action; that is what is necessary to sanctify souls, that is all that is required of them; and their faithfulness in responding to it is what gives them grace.
Everything in those who have surrendered themselves is shaped by divine action.
Souls, once they have surrendered themselves to his action, see everything that happens to them in a favourable light.
The mysterious growth of Jesus Christ in our heart is the accomplishment of God’s purpose, the fruit of his grace and divine will. This fruit forms, grows and ripens in the succession of our duties to the present moment which are continually being replenished by God, so that obeying them is always the best we can do.
This divine will is infinitely wise, powerful and benevolent towards souls who totally and unreservedly put their trust in it. It is the will of God that gives everything, whatever it may be, the power to form Jesus Christ in the centre of our being.
God uses his creatures in two ways. Either he makes them act on their own initiative or he himself acts through them. The first requires a faithful fulfilment of his manifest wishes; the second, a meek and humble submission to his inspiration.
O boundless submission, it is you that draws God deep into the heart. Do what you like to this tiny being, let it act, be inspired, be the object of your purpose. All is yours, I have nothing to add, remove, seek or consider.
Sanctification, perfection, salvation, guidance and humility are God’s responsibility. Mine is to be content, dispassionate, trusting, leaving everything to His pleasure.
All saints become saints by fulfilling those duties themselves to which they have been called.
The first duty required of souls is self-discipline; the second is self-surrender; the third requires great humility, a humble and willing disposition and a readiness to follow the movement of grace which motivates everything if they simply respond willingly to all its guidance.
Let God’s will be done; that is the whole of Scripture, the universal law.
The more a soul loves, the more it longs; the more it hopes, the more it finds.
It is only because we fail to take full possible advantage of divine action that we turn to so many alternatives.
Everything guides, purifies; everything leads to union with God; everything brings perfection.
Follow any way when faith is so obscure and darkness obliterates everything and the path can no longer be discerned, for a path cannot be lost which does not exist.
Talking with God, Francois Fenelon, Paraclete Press, Brewster Mass. 1997.
God continually beholds the desire which he has implanted in the soul. Though we may at times be unconscious of it, the heart is always touched by it.
Two main points of attention are necessary to maintain a constant spirit of prayer that unites us with God. We must continually seek to cherish it, and we must avoid everything that tends to make us lose it.
Our union with God must be the result of our faithfulness in both doing and enduring all that he wills for us.
There is no middle ground; we either refer everything to God, or to ourselves.
Growth in prayer is indicated by a growth in simplicity and steadiness in our attitude. Our conversation with God resembles that with an old friend. At first there are a thousand things to be told, and just as many to be asked. After a time, however, these diminish, while the pleasure of being together does not.
A humble heart is always gentle and capable of being easily led in its center. Always fear haughtiness. Fear overconfidence in your own ideas, and determination in your way of speaking.
Let me behold nothing but you, and myself in your presence, that I may understand what I am, and what you are.
Pure love is chaste, for it is the love of God, in and for God. We are attracted to him, but not for the pleasure which he bestows on us. We follow him, but not for the loaves and fishes.
Our own happiness is a thing that God has been pleased to make part of his glory.
Cheerfully perform each day’s round as God appoints it for us, seeking nothing, refusing nothing, finding everything in the present moment, and allowing God to do his pleasure in and by us.
How full of good things is that soul, when it appears to be emptied of everything.
Let us pray God that he will root out of our hearts everything of our planting, and set there, with his own hands, the Tree of Life, bearing all manner of fruits.
It is certain from Holy Scriptures that the Spirit of God dwells within us. There he acts, there he prays without ceasing, groans, desires and asks for us what we do not know how to ask for ourselves.
The Spirit urges us on, animates us, speaks to us when we are silent, suggests to us all truth, and so unites us to him that we become one spirit.
Carefully purify your conscience from daily faults. Allow no sin to dwell in your heart. Small as it may seem, it obscures and dims the light of grace, weighs down the soul, and hinders that constant communion with Jesus Christ, which it should be your pleasure to cultivate.
Everything great owes its greatness to the small elements that compose it. He who loses nothing, soon will be rich.
Prayer, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1986.
Contemplative prayer is a conversation in which God’s word has the initiative and we, for the moment, can be nothing more than listeners.
I am running after the earthly water every day because I have lost my grip on the heavenly water I am really seeking.
It is only at the center where we learn what is decisive, namely, the truth about our life, what God wants and expects of us, what we should strive for and what we should avoid in the service of the divine Word.
Unless we are responding in obedience to the free work of God within us, we are not living up to the idea which God the Father had for us at creation.
We were created to be hearers of the Word, and it is in responding to the Word that we attain our true dignity.
Our innermost being was designed for dialogue.
He alone can tell us what, in true, we are.
Our relationship to the Word of God is always two things at once: an entering-in to the innermost “I”, and a turning-outward of this I to the highest “Thou.”
God, in giving us faith, has also given us the ability to hear.
We are rooted in the Son, as the Son is rooted in the Father. “I in them and thou in me.” (Jn 17:23)
The person who knows of the fountain of God’s truth and love, which is continually welling up at the center of their being, will feel compelled to keep returning there often to cleanse, renew and refresh their whole being.
The eternal world of heaven is a world of intense life and spontaneous activity, seeking to further its aims, and using the prayer, the willingness and openness of the Church and of believers to achieve this.
“Let it be unto me according to your Word”–an expression such as this opens the floodgates of heaven.
As soon as God’s word strikes me, I must leave everything and follow it. As soon as my wings have developed and I am off the ground, I am to be governed by the laws of the air, of the Spirit.
Jesus, the Son, is the prototype of all those “who are led by the Spirit of God.” (Rom. 8:14)
The contemplative has to be clay in the hand of the potter, a clay which is molded through prayer itself, content not to know in advance where it is going, only sensing it, as the process is actually taking place, from the disposition of the potter’s shaping hands, confident that it is a good and loving work taking place.
The Way of the Heart; Henri Nouwen, Harper, San Francisco, 1981
We must be aware of the call to let our false, compulsive self be transformed into the new self of Jesus Christ.
The compulsion manifests itself in the lurking fear of failing and the steady urge to prevent this. It points to the need for ongoing and increasing affirmation. Who am I?
Jesus affirmed God as the only source of his identity.
We have to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul, while preaching the gospels to others.
Ministry can be fruitful only if it grows out of a direct and intimate encounter with our Lord.
Silence is the home of the word. Silence gives strength and fruitfulness to the word.
I have often repented of having spoken, but never of having remained silent.
The soul, in its desire to say many things, often dissipates its remembrance of God.
To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart. There God’s spirit dwells and there the great encounter takes place. There, heart speaks to heart, because there, we stand before the Lord, all-seeing, within us.
The chief task of the contemplative is to enter into his heart.
By its very nature such prayer transforms our whole being into Christ precisely because it opens the eyes of our soul to the truth of ourselves as well as to the truth of God.
The truth is what gives us rest.
When we have found our rest in God, we can do nothing other than minister.
God, your mercy brings me hope. Because of it I can confess and believe that to be the first step of my renewal. I know you will receive me. I know you will let me start again.
O Lord, for your name’s sake, become in me what you are in me.
As we cultivate the life of prayer, a gradual process of conversion of our whole life takes place. James Houston
Intimacy is a relationship that involves change. To pray is to be willing to be changed; to be converted, transformed.
Prayer is ultimately a battle of the will. The battle makes us choose what, in the end, we really want.
Self-confidence robs us of the incentive to pray as we should.
When all your significance, security, identity and future are in the hands of God, then prayer is bound to follow.
Homesickness for God is a mark of those who pray James Houston
We are in the discipline of exercising the heart of desire
Before God. James Houston
God cannot be known except as he reveals himself. Blaise Pascal
“Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Rom. 8:6
Our whole perfection consists in growing, and not stopping. Augustine
In thy will, is our peace. Augustine
He who loves indeed will desire, beyond vision, the penetration of God into the very ground of the heart.
-Bernard of Clairvaux
The whole object of contemplation is to make us better shepherds of souls. -Bernard of Clairvaux
My me, is God, nor do I know my selfhood, save in him.
-St. Catherine of Genoa
Between us and God, this unity forever ceaselessly renews itself; for the Spirit of God is outflowing and indrawing, touching and stirring our spirits, urging and calling us to live according to his will, and to love him as he deserves. -Ruysbroeck
All we taste, against all we lack, is like a single drop of water against the whole sea. -Ruysbroeck
The eye with which we behold God is the same eye with which he beholds us. -Meister Eckhardt
“For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work.” (Phil. 2:13)
The whole progress of the soul consists in its being moved by God; but our own part remains in placing it in a state to receive this motion.
St. John of the Cross
The Daily Prayer of Covenant
O Lord Jesus Christ
In obedience to thy holy claim upon me
I give myself anew to thee this day;
All that I am,
All that I have,
To be wholly and unconditionally thine,
For thy using.
Take me away from myself
And use me up as thou wilt,
When thou wilt,
Where thou wilt,
With whom thou wilt.