Presence of God – O Lord, may Your light always be my guide, so that I shall not go astray.
During this period of transition from meditation to contemplation, it is very important for the soul to have a clear understanding of that “general, loving attention to God” mentioned by St. John of the Cross, in order to know how to act, and how to obtain from it the best fruit possible. In the Saint’s opinion, this new form of prayer results from the exercise of the theological virtues, aided by the secret, delicate influence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In other words, on the part of the soul it is a question of an exercise of faith and love so intense and simplified that, without having recourse to the continual repetition of distinct acts, the soul finds itself in an attitude of loving attention to God. Far from being idle, the soul fixes its gaze on God precisely by means of this prolonged act of faith and love. But it is not alone in this exercise. The Holy Spirit comes to meet it, and by a secret actuation of His gifts, orientates and attracts it to God, infusing in it a loving knowledge of Him. In this way the soul can persevere for a long time in this truly contemplative attitude; and because it is helped by the Holy Spirit, it “will take pleasure in being alone and waiting with loving attentiveness upon God, in interior peace, quietness, and rest, without making any particular meditation” (John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel II, 13,4).
However, the influence of the gifts will not always be strong and pleasant enough to keep the soul peacefully occupied with God; often, especially at first, it will be weak and therefore the soul more arid. Generally in this the soul will not make steady progress; hence, in order to remain recollected in God, it will often have to use its own efforts. At this point, it will be very useful for the soul to apply itself principally to the occasional renewing of its acts of faith and love, simply because its part, in this kind of prayer, consists in an intense exercise of faith and of love.
“O God, my God, to Thee do I watch at break of day. For Thee my soul hath thirsted; for Thee my flesh, O how many ways! In a desert land, and where there is no way, and no water” (Ps 63,2).
“Who will give me to rest in You? Who will make You enter my heart and inebriate it, so that I shall forget my misfortunes and embrace You, my only Good? What are You to me? In Your goodness, permit me to speak. What am I to You, that You enjoin me to love You, and are disturbed if I do not love You, and threaten me with all kinds of ills? If I do not love You, does that mean that I am slighting You? Poor creature that I am, tell me, in Your mercy, Lord, my God, tell me what You are to me? Say to my soul: ‘I am your salvation!’ Say it so that I shall hear it. The ear of my heart is turned toward You. Open it, O Lord, and say to my soul: ‘I am your salvation!’ I shall follow Your voice and adhere to You. Do not hide Your face from me ….
“O Father, I do not know the road that will bring me to You. Show it to me; teach me the way. Give me whatever I need. If those who take refuge in You find You by faith, then give me faith; if they find You by virtue, give me virtue, and increase my faith and charity” (St. Augustine).
Give me an immovable faith, O Lord, and an ardent charity! Faith and love are the guide-posts which will take me by unfamiliar paths to the place where You hide Yourself. Grant that I may walk in faith and love, and await in faith and love Your visit to my soul. O Holy Spirit, You pray within me “with unspeakable groanings” (Romans 8:26); help my misery, illumine my faith and awaken charity in me. You penetrate “the depths of divine mysteries” (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:10); instruct me, be my teacher, help me to know my God. You who are the Spirit of Love, give me a loving knowledge of Him, so that I may always tend toward Him and be entirely captivated by love of Him.
Note from Dan: This post on practical conduct is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art for this post on practical conduct: Saint Augustine And Saint Monica, Ary Scheffer, 1846, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.