Monday, February 20, 2017

Discerning God's Call: Part 3

Through my frequent spiritual reading I began to learn more about God's love and the path to contemplative union with God which, as St. John of the Cross and many others taught, is the end goal of every spiritual journey. It is the path to perfection. I began to spend a lot of time in acquired contemplation, practicing the necessary disposition for receiving God's gift of infused contemplation. I spent a lot of time in the desert, spiritually speaking. But occasionally God would bless me with a more intimate experience of his love.

A Meditation on the Sacred Heart of Jesus

True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings us joy. That is why we must pray to God and ask Him to give us the courage to love.
--St. Teresa of Kolkata--

He came to live in me and suffer in my body. "See me. Recognize me. Know me. Burn with love for me." The kiss of Christ crucified is a sword through the heart. Yet honey itself is not sweeter. "When you burn with love for me, you will burn with love for all souls." O Holy Spirit, Fire of Love, immolate me as a burnt offering to our Heavenly Father!

Our Lord Jesus holds his Sacred Heart in his outstretched hand, offering it to me as he does every day in Holy Communion, that I may drink of the blood and water flowing from his Divine Heart. He comes to me in this way, that I may receive him physically in a chaste consummation of love. That I may be in him and he in me.

The widest land doom takes to part us, leaves thy heart in mine with pulses that beat double. What I do and what I dream include Thee, as the wine must taste of its own grapes. And when I sue God for myself, He hears that name of Thine, and sees within my eyes the tears of two.
--Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese, 6--

The Lord greatly increased my desire for union with Him and I began to pray a prayer of abandonment shared by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange in his book Three Ages of the Interior Life. "My God, make me know the obstacles which I more or less consciously place to the working of grace in my soul. Show these obstacles to me at the moment when I am about to place them. Give me the strength to remove them, and if I am negligent in doing so, do thou deign to remove them, though I should suffer greatly. I wish only thee, Lord, who alone art necessary. Grant that my life here on earth may be like eternal life begun."

Later I would be led by the writings of Fr. Sebastian, the founder of the Lay Missionaries of Charity, to a Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation by Pope St. John Paul II called Vita Consecrata (Consecrated Life). There I read: "In the countenance of Jesus, the 'image of the invisible God' (Col 1:15) and the reflection of the Father's glory (cf. Heb 1:3), we glimpse the depths of an eternal and infinite love which is at the very root of our being. Those who let themselves be seized by this love cannot help abandoning everything to follow him (cf. Mk 1:16-20; 2:14; 10:21, 28). Like Saint Paul, they consider all else as loss 'because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ', by comparison with which they do not hesitate to count all things as 'refuse', in order that they 'may gain Christ' (Phil 3:8)." (Vita Consecrata)

The Lord has given me tastes of his Divine Love that have left me longing and thirsting for God, pining for Him like a dry, weary land without water (Psalm 63). I had lived joyfully and easily the gift of celibacy, and now I cannot conceive of any human relationship satisfying this longing for divine love. The Lord Jesus thirsts for each of us individually. Mother Teresa heard his words "I thirst" as an expression of his yearning for union with each one of us, a yearning symbolized in the Song of Songs. Pope Benedict XVI explained in the encyclical Deus Caritas Est that God's love for his people is both passionate and selfless. "God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos, primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love. Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape." Indeed, how could one help abandoning everything to follow him?

At this point, I still had not discerned a call to the Religious Life, but I believe that God was steadily preparing my heart.

"It is the Spirit who awakens the desire to respond fully; it is he who guides the growth of this desire, helping it to mature into a positive response and sustaining it as it is faithfully translated into action." (Vita Consecrata)

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