Life of prayer : Unity with God (n°2)

Published on the 25 February 2021

«I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness and you shall know the Lord.» (Hosea 2, 19-20)

Do we not desire the promises of the Scriptures be accomplished for us? The aim of our vocation is nothing less than unity with God. To know him and love him passionately, as we are loved and known by Him! We want to «abide in Him as He abides in us» (Jn.15,4). We also wish to be able to say, as St Paul «It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me» (Ga.2,20), so as to become, according to St. Peter’s words «partakers of the divine nature» (2 P.1,4). We want to live the «everything that is mine is yours», characteristic of the mutual gift between wife and husband, even if one has to accept painful purifications that are necessary for this union which requires a great purity of heart.

In addition to the Scriptures, our ties with the Carmelite Tradition, invites us to yearn eagerly for this bridal dimension of Christian life. The splendid pages of St John of the Cross who describes the splendor of the soul transformed in God, offer us an extraordinary outlook and hope: «The soul, in this state, loves God as much as it is loved by Him, since both of them have one love only. Not only the soul is taught how to love but it becomes itself teacher of love, since it is united with the Teacher of Love Himself; so it dwells satisfied, because it is not until it reaches this love, that is to love God perfectly with the same love as He loves Himself. » (Spiritual Song A, stanza 37)

Union with God: a sensitive experience?

Unity with God can be experienced sometimes in a sensitive way, be reflected in all the person (inflaming the will, fulfilling the memory, illuminating the intelligence, gladden the sensivity and even the body) to make us taste joy, happiness and fullness that surpass infinitely what the world can offer. But it is not the case all the time. More than a possession, Christian life on earth is often desiring and expecting the Husband, desire that expresses itself and remains alive, above all through faithfulness to orison. We already know that unity with God doesn’t lay in feeling but is unity of will: to want nothing but what God wants for us. Who, in poverty, darkness and suffering, accepts through faith, his own condition, might be more united with God than he who feels sensitive comforts. Sometimes, we are completely taken by tasks that do not leave us much time to think about God or to feel his presence, those tasks being undertaken without great enthusiasm, but with humble faithfulness, we are there deeply united with God because we are doing what He expects us to do. Monotonous sacrifice unites us more surely with God than ecstasy, teaches Thérèse.

The soul is all the more united with God as it has faith, hope and love; this is St John of the Cross’s main teaching. But as we all know, we are sometimes destined to believe without seeing, to hope without owning, and to love without feeling satisfied.

Measure your union with God?

It is difficult to measure the extent of unity with. Many holy people have lived in a deep unity with God, having in the same time the feeling of an extreme inner poverty, as it happened to Little Thérèse during the last years or for Mother Theresa of Calcutta, even if unity with God is real and deep, the soul does not always enjoy it, it experiences deep darkness and feels more like sitting at the sinners ‘table than in the anteroom of Heaven. The Lord allows his friends, in a mysterious solidarity, to experience all the weight of the sin of the world, and it seems often the case these days. One cannot look for signs to appraise the level of unity with God, in the sensitive field, the most reliable signs would be in the depth of humility, thoughtful charity for those we share our life with, peaceful and trusting acceptance of all things happening to us, disappointments and sufferings included. Receiving the Cross puts us most effectively on the way to unity….

If nobody can measure the extent of his unity with God, on the other hand we certainly know the way that leads us to it: faithfulness to prayer, poverty of the heart, humility, patience, meekness, humble service, purity of the heart, mercy, peace, in one word, the way to Beatitudes. There isn’t another door to the Kingdom.

“See God in all”

Here is an excerpt from a letter of Father Marie-Etienne Vayssière (taken from the book «Consentir à l’amour» published by EDB) to a person he was counseling: «Do not slacken in your work for your unity with God. How? Dying to yourself, inner purification through humility, meekness, patience, renunciation, generous self-forgetfulness, unlimited surrender. Sing the divine will in all the circumstances which come on your path. Be a soul of faith that sees everything in God, in his will and in his love, cleaving to it without reticence in a never ceasing impetus in your heart. Everything is here in the bottom : all sanctification, all virtue, in this life of faith. See God in everything, God and his boundless love, as far as the dust we step on, in the hair that falls, the leaf that moves, and answer to God’s love with adhesion and all the love of your heart. Be joyful and happy about everything because everything comes from God, everything is God. Take this as the main policy of your spiritual life , the real spring the whole of you lean on. Your walk forward will be secure, quick, joyful and with a supernatural fecundity.»

Other points should be unfolded concerning this topic of unity with God. With Thérèse of Avila, we know it is founded on the mystery of Incarnation, and that the unity with God is achieved through a loving communion with Jesus’s human nature. With Grignon de Montfort, we know the essehtial part Mary plays «this very soft slope by which everything goes down towards the Lord» to lead us towards Him.

These points will certainly be the topic of other « He is here »

Walking towards God …

As a conclusion, let us be encouraged and incited by the beautiful words of Father Vayssière : « A soul who prays, whatever is its misery, is always, in fact, walking towards God. The miseries which look like delaying its walk, in fact speed it up. It is not the feeling we have of God that unites us to him but rather the feeling of our misery, and in this misery, the trust that carries us along and make us walk, in spite of everything. Go back again with humility to the daily practice. Walk usualy in this humility, in the realistic feeling that you are nothing and unable of anything good, but in the same time, with an unlimited trust in Our Father in Heaven’s boundless mercy.»

 

Quotation
«God wants to make us gods by participation, as He is by nature. So does the fire that transforms everything within himself» – St John of the Cross

 

To Go Further

Just for today

How is my desire to unite with God? Does it remain as the main priority of my life, am I yearning for it? As time goes, did it get weaker? What made it weaker: disillusion, despondency, loss of hope because I experienced my poverties? Did I invest my desire in something else than God? What can I do actually to awaken and keep alive this desire. Afterwards, I could share these questions with my counsellor.

Books

  • «Consentir à l’amour» – chosen letters from Père Marie-Etienne Vayssière. Editions des Béatitudes shows how a true union with God goes through the acceptance of one’s radical poverty, also stressing on Mary’s part.
  • « Spiritual Song » A, 38-39 from St John of the Cross Beautiful poem describing the equality between the soul and God in the transformation by love.

… and of course our Book of Life.

Enough to awaken our desire!…

 

Author : Life of prayer

These articles on the life of prayer are taken from the monthly bulletin "He is there!" published for use by members of the Community of the Beatitudes and their friends. It is written by a collective of lay people, priests, consecrated brothers and sisters, members of the Community, with the desire to stimulate the life of prayer, essential to the vocation to the Beatitudes as to all authentic Christian life ... This is why we are happy to share these simple contents with you.

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