The Way of Union
Presence of God – Lord, give me light and strength to root out of my heart all that hinders me from being united to You.
“God communicates Himself most to that soul that has progressed farthest in love: namely, that has its will in closest conformity with the will of God” (John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel II, 5,4). In ordinary life, true love is manifested in willingness to do what pleases the person loved; in conforming oneself to his desires, tastes and will, not willing anything which could displease him. The soul unites itself to God in the measure in which it is truly conformed to His will. It is evident that this union cannot be perfect as long as the soul resists the divine will, be it only in very small things, or does not accept it readily, or as long as it retains desires and tastes which, even in a very slight way, are not in harmony with the will of God. The whole spiritual ascent to divine union consists in a double movement, very simple but essential: despoiling oneself of all that is displeasing to God, and renouncing all that is in opposition to His will, by conforming oneself to that will and fulfilling it with the greatest love. It is an extremely simple movement, but at the same time an all-embracing one, because it extends to every circumstance of life, without exception, so that in all things, the greatest as in the least, the soul acts in a manner that is in perfect conformity with the divine will. It is also a very profound movement which must reach even to the most secret recesses of the spirit, in order to free it from the least residue, the last resistances of egoism and pride, not only eliminating their manifestations but undermining their very roots. As long as this work of total purgation is incomplete, the soul’s will cannot be totally conformed to that of God; its numerous imperfections and imperfect habits are still opposed to this entire conformity. Only “the soul that has attained complete conformity and likeness of will is totally united and transformed in God supernaturally. It needs, then, only to strip itself of these natural dissimilarities and contrarieties …” (John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel II, 5,4).
“As long as my will desires that which is alien to the divine will, has preferences for one thing or another, I remain like a child; I do not walk in love with giant strides. The fire has not yet burnt away all the dross, and the gold is not yet pure. I am still seeking myself. O Lord, You have not yet done away with all my resistance to You. But when the crucible has consumed all tainted love, all tainted pain, all tainted fear, the love is perfect, and the golden ring of our union is wider than heaven and earth.
“But in order to attain this, I must die daily to myself. O Jesus, I wish to die, to decrease, to deny myself daily more and more, in order that You may grow and be exalted in me. As a ‘little one’ I dwell in the depths of my poverty; I see my nothingness, my penury, my weakness; I see that I am incapable of progress, of perseverance; I appear to myself in all my destitution; I prostrate myself in my wretchedness, and recognizing my state of dire need, I spread it out before You, my divine Master…. As far as my will—not my feelings—is concerned, I set my joy in everything that can humble me, immolate me, destroy self in me, for I want to give place to You, O Lord…. I no longer wish to live by my own life, but to be transformed in You, so that my life may be more divine than human, and that, inclining unto me, the Father may recognize Your image, the image of His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased” (cf. St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, First Retreat (Heaven on Earth), 2 – 3).
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Art for this post on “The Way of Union”: Mirror image of Portrait visage d’Elisabeth de la Trinité [Face portrait of Elisabeth of the Trinity], Willuconquer, undated, CC; Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.