This blog has been going for five years now. Hopefully in that time I’ve learned how to write better. (Some of the first posts are dreadful in terms of style.) In that time, I’ve met many people thanks to this blog, and I’m very glad for that. It is important to “go to heaven together with others,” as we learn from the documentation for the canonization of Saint John of the Cross, and the internet is no exception to this rule.
In the past five years, I’ve also expanded my horizons considerably and learned from a lot more saints, blesseds, and men and women of God. For this present, medium-length post, I want to go back to where I began for a moment and meditate on that. There are two quotes with which I started off this blog, and I think they are still highly relevant. They inspire and set a very robust framework.
is frequently the treasure of persons hidden in the world… souls who live by it in all simplicity, without visions, without miracles, but with such a flame of love for God and neighbour that good happens all around them without noise and without agitation.
And Father Lallemant says this:
Without contemplation we will never advance far toward virtue… we will never break free of our weaknesses and our imperfections. We will always be attached to the earth, and will never raise ourselves much above the sentiments of nature. We will never be able to offer a perfect service to God. But with contemplation we will do more in a month, for ourselves and for others, than we would have been able to do without it in ten years. It produces… acts of sublime love for God such as one can hardly ever accomplish without this gift… and finally, it perfects faith and all the virtues.
Contemplation on the muddy roads of this world is something that we need, but it is also something that the world needs in order to better realize both its own internal, historical ends and its supernatural, surpahistorical ends. Without contemplation, we just grind along. Things do not roll as they should. Hearts are rent. Vocies are cracked. The caverns into which God wishes to enter do not open up. But with contemplation – I mean the contemplation that we have on the road and not only the contemplation that is had in the cloister – God’s plans are efficacious, and the world opens up, in ways that may be visible but which also may pass unnoticed except for briefs glimpses, to the evangelical light that is trying to shine into every crevice of this twisted, but detailed, world.
This becoming one with the Eternal Goodness cannot come to pass but by an absolute renunciation of our self, and all that is ours, natural or spiritual; for in the same measure that a man comes out from himself, in that measure does God enter in with His divine grace, and he who loses his life shall find it [cf. Mt 10:39; 16:25; Lk 9:24; 17:33].
Johannes Tauler OP (1300–1361)
Mental prayer is, in fact, the soul of the contemplative life. It is this exercise, which fertilizes, animates, and renders ten times more efficacious all our other means of attaining to union with God.
Vitalis Lehodey OCR (1857–1948)
Our goal is God, the source of all good… He wishes to listen to your prayer, and so he ordained that you experience poverty, distress, abandonment, weariness, and universal scorn… [O]ur blessed Lord is telling you that he desires to include you among his beloved sons, provided that you remain steadfast in his ways, for this is the way he treats his friends and makes them holy.
Saint Jerome Emiliani
In the case of a detached man who draws his senses inward from external objects and establishes himself in the inner castle of his soul, the less he finds within to cling to, the more painful are his interior sufferings, and the more quickly he dies, the more swiftly he bursts through to God.
Blessed Henry Suso (1300–1366)