October 18, 2015

Holy Ground

The Trinity is the ground of our soul. This eternal communion of divine persons in one Nature is given as life-giving soil for the heart with Infinite Humility. Only in this garden can we bear fruit for eternal life. Only this ultimate Truth is able to bear the weight of human existence. We find this ground on which to stand by faith because this is how God has revealed Himself -- the Father has spoken His Mighty Word into the lowly dirt of our humanity so that we might at last behold Him, and see in His eyes gazing back at us the deepest truth about who we truly are.

Prayer that seeks out and welcomes this Word made flesh learns to attend to:
the echoing thunder of heaven's thrown whose majesty and power reign over every circumstance,
the saving truth that sets us free,
the irrevocable promise that does not pass away,
the suffering cry of Mary's Son wrapped in swaddling clothes,
the gentle whisper of a mysterious stranger struck to the heart by our plight,
the comforting call of the Good Shepherd who has sought us through thick and thin,
the soothing song of the Vinedresser who longs for us to thrive and be fruitful,
the urgent prayer of the Suffering Servant who has offered everything for our sake,
the ardent appeal of the Bridegroom who longs for His Bride,
the triumphant shout of our Captain who has vanquished our enemies,
the joyful welcome of the Father who has patiently awaited our return,
and the the answer of many mysterious trumpets
and roaring waters from a glassy sea
and the ringing of crowns cast down,
answering at once, "Worthy is the Lamb!" and
"Come Lord Jesus!"

Like Moses, we can only approach this Life set ablaze barefoot and vulnerable, bathed in unfamiliar wonder. He was sent from above to abide in us and invites us to abide in Him, just as He is with the Father. His breathes His Spirit of Life to convince, to teach, to correct, sometimes even to rebuke, but always to build up, to offer hope. This Gift from above does not destroy or diminish, but comes to heal and make perfect. He consumes and purifies, but does not reduce to nothingness. This uncreated Fire rectifies, raises us above ourselves, planting the Word in our hearts. And the Father rejoices in what He contemplates in us.

October 14, 2015

God's Light and Proportion according to Saint Teresa

"The light God grants you from time to time concerning spiritual joys is a special mercy. His Majesty comforts us in proportion to our trials. Since yours are great, so are His favors."
Saint Teresa of Avila, November 1576.

Father Gracian, to whom Saint Teresa addressed the words above, was a competent and industrious leader. But Teresa wants him to focus on divine mercy, divine love implicated with us in our plight. God gives “light" when we face difficult challenges in His service. Concerned that we persevere when circumstances seem impossible to bear, she knows that the Lord gives us ground to stand on. Everything else in our lives may be completely shaken, but He remains, ever more steadfast for us. Saint Teresa observes that the Lord “comforts us in proportion to our trials.”

We can take this proportion of comfort in trial in two ways.  On one hand, there is a sense of consolation that comes from being productive for the Lord even when we are faced with opposition or difficult circumstances.  Father Gracian was probably familiar with this grace -- even as opposition to the reform grew, God continued to do great things through him. The day would come however when all his achievements for the reform would seem undone, even wasted.

We can also consider this “proportion” in terms of our awareness of God’s presence. While all things are passing God never changes. He is always coming to us in wonderful new ways by grace.  Saint Teresa would probably propose this second kind of consolation as the most important.

God never comes in the way we expect Him -- He exceeds all expectations. Never passive or aloof, He is always active and personally implicated in our concerns.  When darkness seems to prevail, with dawning brightness, He purifies and expands the soul, opening up new horizons in our hearts, and this with even greater delicacy and power the more intense and frequent our trials.

Without faith, such divine brightness remains unseen. His light exceeds our natural powers, overshadowing them in glory. When, however, we seek His presence dwelling in our hearts and choose to live by His love, He uses all kinds of trails and difficulties only to take us ever deeper into the dwelling He has prepared for us.

This mysterious “light” and this sacred “proportion” help us discover the wonder of our Almighty Father. He waits for us at the intersection of human suffering and divine love -- the mystery of the Cross. He is not limited by what is easiest and most comfortable.  He does not confine Himself to the most convenient or successful.  Within the limits of human frailties and needs, lowliness and simplicity, humility and reverence, Saint Teresa knows that His paternal tenderness in limitless glory abides.