Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sexagesima Week. The meditation themes for improvement of the "requisite qualities" of Christian heart, to make it worthy to receive the seeds of Divine Sower, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Fragments taken from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD.

"The way of the nothing"
PRESENCE OF GOD - Show me, O Lord, the narrow path that leads to true life, to union with You.
1. If you wish to start resolutely on the road of total detachment - the only sure road to divine union - you must "put the axe to the root of the tree"; that is, you must break off and pull up the root of your attachment - that inordinate tendency to enjoy, or to seek satisfaction in yourself, in your pride, or in other creatures. It is true that you were created to enjoy, but to ENJOY GOD. However, God is not present to your senses , while your 'self' and the things of earth are so close to you. Hence instead of looking beyond yourself and all creation in order to reach God, instead of making use of creatures to help you rise toward the Creator, you pause and seek your happiness in them. You pause with an inordinate affection, and for this grain of satisfaction, you bind your heart to earth and become incapable of union with God, the only source of real happiness. This inordinate desire for pleasure is the thing which turns your desire and affections toward creatures, instead of fixing them on God. This the root of every attachment, no matter how slight.
In order to mortify completely this inordinate tendency, St. John of the Cross says, "If something is presented to the senses, which is not solely for the honour and glory of God, give it up, and deprive yourself of it for the love of Jesus Christ, who, while on earth, had and desired nothing but to do the will of His Father" (AS I, 13,4). The Saint does not mean that you must live without any pleasure or satisfaction; this would be impossible, as man is created for happiness. However, he does tell you to renounce all pleasures which are displeasing to God and to put all your pleasures and satisfaction solely into accomplishing the will of God, giving Him pleasure and procuring His glory. This was Jesus' life; He could say, "I do always the things that please Him" (Jn 8, 29).
2. If your way of acting or speaking satisfies your self-love, but you know that it does not please God, then you must give it up. If a conversation, a friendship, or a comfort pleases you, but you doubt whether it is pleasing to God, you must give it up. If your will urges you to do anything which may be slightly contrary to the will of God, you must refrain from doing it. In all these cases St. John of the Cross continually says: "nothing, nothing, nothing." Nothing for the satisfaction of pride or selfishness, nothing for the pleasure of the senses, or even of the mind or will - if it is not in perfect agreement with the will of God. There is only one choice: to live for self or to live for God. If you act for your own selfish satisfaction, even in small matters, you will never be able to live totally for God. If, for example, you were unwilling to combat and overcome your pride which has been offended, and you are impatient or cross with someone, it is evident that you prefer to act for the satisfaction of self rather than to please God, for God loves virtue and not defects. You must always substitute for the tendency to seek your own satisfaction the desire to seek God's satisfaction and pleasure. This is what St John of the Cross means when he suggests detachment, not as an end in itself, but as a means of becoming more closely united with God, not with to leave you in a vacuum, but to direct you quickly to God. The same line of conduct was proposed by Jesus: "Renounce thyself," he says to you. And to what purpose? To walk in His path, to follow Him until you have attained perfect union with Him. The end is union, the road is abnegated or total detachment; we must not forget that it was of this road that Jesus said, "How narrow is the gate and strait is the way that leadeth to life" (Mt, 7, 14).
"O Lord, you have created me for Yourself, to love You and to enjoy you, infinite God, ineffable Beauty; do not permit me to lose sight of this sublime end toward which I must tend; do not permit me to wander among the wretched satisfactions that vain, feeble creatures can offer me.....O Lord teach me to make use of all things with perfect purity of intention, without desiring to draw any selfish satisfaction from them...."But how harsh it sound to say that we must take pleasure in nothing, unless we also speak of the consolations and delights that this renunciations brings in this train. Oh, what a great gain it is, even in this life" (T.J. Way, 12)....