Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Indwelling God - excerpts from "The Sixth Trumpet" by Solange Hertz, prominent writer for 'The Remnant" Catholic Newspaper

"I am the Almighty God: walk before me and be perfect" (Gen 17:1)

God wants us to remain in His Presence, it is certain, as He told Abraham these words: "I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be perfect". Whether we want it or not, we actually walk in His presence. As St Paul told the pagan Athenians, He's "not far from any of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:27-28). How can there be any difficulty about locating God, who is naturally everywhere and closer to us than we are to ourselves? As the Psalmist acknowledged, "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy face? if I ascend into heaven, thou art there: If I descend into hell, thou art present...My bone is not hidden from thee, which thou hast made in secret!" (Ps 138: 7-8, 15).
By power, knowledge, and essence God is present even in pagans and sinners, because if He weren't, they would simply cease to exist; but in the soul of the baptized in the state of grace, the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity dwell substantially through incorporation with the Second Person, Jesus Christ, in a manner which is wholly supernatural, utterly beyond their nature. God is more than just accessible to these souls, because through faith, for them the Beatific Vision actually begins here and now on earth. as
the theologian Matthias Scheeben  points out in 'The Glories of Divine Grace',  "We shall do better to follow the Holy Scripture and call all creation the foodstool of God, on which the hem of His garment falls, while we call the soul of the just the throne of God, being filled with the divine splendour."
It is the realization of this truth that led Pope Leo to exclaim, "Recognize, O Christian, thy dignity!"Every time a Catholic makes the Sign of the Cross, he proclaims the abiding presence of God within him. Our Lord revealed this to us when He said, "If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and will make our abode with him" (John 14:23). Only willful mortal sin can drive God's substantial presence from us.
St Teresa of Avila, a mystical Doctor of the Church, was granted several visions confirming the truth of the divine indwelling. In her "Relations" she says: "The living God was in my soul. To know this truth is of very highest gain; and as I was amazed to see His Majesty in a thing so vile as my soul, I heard: 'It is not vile, My child, for it is made in my image'" (Chapter 9;17). In her autobiography she explained, "In the beginning it happened that I was ignorant of one thing - I did not know that God was in all things: and when He seemed to me to be so near, I thought it impossible. Some unlearned men used to say to me that He was present only by His grace. I could not believe that, because....He seemed to me to be present Himself: so I was distressed. A most learned man of the order of the glorious St Dominic delivered me from this doubt, for he told me that He was present, and hos He communed with us: this was a great comfort to me." (Life, 18:20).
"On the last great day" of the feast of Tabernacles before He suffered, our Lord proclaimed in a loud voice, "He that believeth in me....out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water", to which St John adds, "Now this he said of the spirit which they should receive who believed in Him" (John 7:37-39), teaching clearly that our sanctification has no other source than the divine Indwelling. As God told St Catherine of Sienna in "A Treatise on Prayer", "I am that fire which purifies the soul, and the closer the soul is to Me, the purer she becomes, and the further she is from me, the more does her purity leave her: which is the reason why men of the world fall into such iniquities, for they are separated from Me, while the soul who without any medium unites herself directly to Me, participates in My Purity."
As our Lord exclaimed to the Samaritan woman, "If thou didst know the gift of God!" (John 4:10). It is in our own souls, and not elsewhere, that the Holy Ghost enlightens each one of us, just as he did at Pentecost when, although He "filled the whole house," yet His tongues of fire "sat upon each one" of the disciples, bestowing His special gifts on each individually. From that day forth the Spirit of Christ has never ceased to direct the piety of the faithful inwardly, inspiring their activity and warning them of potential dangers. That great spiritual master Fr de Caussade assured his penitents, "Perfection is neither more nor less than the faithful cooperation of the soul with this work of God, and is begun, grows and is consummated in the soul unperceived and in secret." (Abandonment to Divine Providence, Bk I, sec.4)

More to follow..