Monday, October 15, 2012

Follow Me

It seems to me that the divine gift of love as it issues forth divides into four streams: profound prayer, intimacy with Christ, trust in His will for us, assimilation to His love towards all.

Profound prayer both surrounds and permeates us at all times, so that without thinking about it or even noticing it, we are speaking to God and hearing His divine words without interruption. This is pure gift, cannot be attained by our efforts (work) but only by His grace. Those to whom this is granted do not think that they merit it or possess it, yet in a mysterious way, their calmness reveals it to themselves and to others.

Personal love of Jesus Christ arises simultaneously and in the same unknown and unknowing manner as does profound prayer. Intellectually we may know that Christ is risen and is in our midst, emotionally we may sometimes feel it, though we know that both thought and feeling can betray or be captive of fantasy. But the gift of this personal love, again bestowed without our knowledge but not without our consent, makes us 'see Jesus', we cannot imagine being out of His presence, and seeing Him refines our love for Him as Creator, Savior, and Lord.

Realistic knowledge of ourselves does not, I don't think, dwell upon our sinfulness or our righteousness, and does not really include these. Coexisting in the soul with the Holy Spirit who has granted these gifts, our self-awareness reflects not on what we have done or did not do, but on who we are in the light of His presence. It is the knowledge that comes of following Christ with our eyes, ears, hearts, and feet as we see Him walking in the world in front of us. Realistic knowledge of ourselves comes also in an unconscious way, but this is the foundation of our spiritual discernment: when, where and how we are to imitate Christ, and in what degree. Because of the first two gifts, we no longer have to muse, ponder and worry about our actions, but simply offer back to the Lord what He grants us, without thinking about it. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is an excellent example of this.

Devotedness towards those we serve, certainly this is by God's gift alone, as we have all discovered if we have ever tried to serve God by our good deeds, done out of a sense of duty or guilt. This kind of devotedness is instantly revealed to its recipients as a failure, not a fulfillment, of love. The gift that St Angela prays for is, I think, that power of love which is experienced as inevitable and gracious, felt as fulfilling from the moment of its inception to its perfection in a mission accomplished. This is the kind of devotedness—though I prefer to simply use the word 'love'—that makes one automatically love the person or even any creature that is placed before us, in our path. When we quiet ourselves for a moment and see Christ before us in human form, our souls clamor within us to satisfy His need. Yes, His need of us, for which He presents Himself, revealing that He is love, lover and beloved, and into that Triad of Divine Nature He invites us to enter.

Again, all of the good news of Jesus Christ leads us to these things, if only we have faith. And faith in what or whom? Of course, faith in Christ who says to us at every moment, 'Follow Me.'

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