Presence of God – Grant, O Lord, that I may have perfect and lasting intimacy with You, that I may ever love You more and more.
A soul enters upon the way of divine intimacy the moment that it resolutely determines to go forth from itself and from all created things, in order to set out with fervor in quest of God, living and present within it. The road between this first step and profound intimacy, which will bind to God the soul that has reached complete union, is long and difficult. Progressively, the soul begins to walk toward that “sweet and delectable union” (John of the Cross Dark Night of the Soul II 16:14) in the measure that, sustained by grace, it becomes detached from itself and creatures, delivered from its imperfections, despoiled of its own will so as to be clothed with the divine will alone, and permits the fire of love to be enkindled within it. Intimacy with God becomes more intense and loving, until, attaining the heights of transforming love, it becomes continual and perfect, a divine embrace which binds the creature to the Creator. Then the great promise of Jesus: “If anyone love Me … My Father will love him: and We will come to him and will make Our abode with him” (John 14:23), is realized as perfectly as is possible here below. St. John of the Cross affirms: “It must not be held incredible that in a faithful soul which has already been tried and proved and purged in the fire of tribulations and trials, and found faithful in love, there should be fulfilled that which was promised by the Son of God: namely, that, if any man loved Him, the Blessed Trinity would come to dwell within him and would abide in him. And this comes to pass when the understanding is divinely illumined in the Wisdom of the Son, and the will is made glad in the Holy Spirit, and the Father, with His power and strength, absorbs the soul in the embrace and abyss of His sweetness” (Living Flame of Love 1:15). In the most sublime moments of transforming union, the soul is rendered conscious of God living, present, and working in it; it is conscious of His sweet paternal embrace which sustains it, of the splendor of His Wisdom which enlightens it, of the divine enkindling of His Love which penetrates it through and through. Even when the realization of the divine presence and action is less strong, and does not make the soul so blissful, it is still conscious of being profoundly united to God, of being moved and governed by Him. St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus attests: “I know that Jesus is within me, always guiding and inspiring me” (Story of a Soul 8). The humble Saint, although not having experienced the extraordinary mystical graces, attained no less than her glorious Mother, St. Teresa of Jesus, to the profound intimacy with God which the soul enjoys in the state of perfect union.
“O Lord God, my Love, if Thou art still mindful of my sins, and wilt not grant my petitions, Thy will be done, for that is my chief desire. Show Thou Thy goodness and mercy, and Thou shalt be known by them. If it be that Thou art waiting for me to do good works, that in them Thou mayest grant my petition, do Thou give them and work them in me; send also the penalties which Thou wilt accept, and do Thou inflict them. But if Thou art not waiting for my good works, what art Thou waiting for, O most merciful Lord? Why tarriest Thou? For if, at last, it must be grace and mercy, and I pray for it in Thy Son, do Thou accept my worthless offering, according to Thy will, and give me this good also according to Thy will.
“Who can free himself from base and mean ways, if Thou, O my God, will not lift him up to Thee in pure love?
“How shall a man raise himself up to Thee, for he is born and bred in misery, if Thou wilt not lift him up with the hand that made him?
“Thou wilt not take away from me, O my God, what Thou hast once given me in Thy only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in whom Thou dost give me all I desire. I will therefore rejoice; Thou wilt not tarry if I wait for Thee. Wait in hope, then, O my soul, for from henceforth thou mayest love God in thy heart.
“Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth; mine are the people, the righteous are mine, and mine are the sinners; the angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; God Himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine, and all for me. What dost thou, then, ask for, what dost thou seek, O my soul? All is thine, all is for thee, do not take less, nor rest with the crumbs which fall from the table of thy Father. Go forth and exult in thy glory, hide thyself in it, and rejoice, and thou shalt obtain all the desires of thy heart” (John of the Cross Spiritual Maxims – Words of Light, Prayer of the Enamored Soul).
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Art for this post on divine intimacy: La transverbération de Sainte Thérèse [de Avila](The Transverberation of St. Teresa [of Avila]), Josefa de Óbidos, 1672, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, published in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1923, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.