« Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you » (Luke 17,21) and St Paul « You are the temple of God » (2 Co 6,16).
God abides in us and invites us to dwell in Him. Our inner life is in that place of the heart, that « center of the soul » where He is present. It also reflects our ability to live in this place and to return to it quickly.
St Elisabeth of the Trinity, whom we have received as our saint for the year, will be, amongst others, our guide in this bulletin, she writes: « Ah, I would like to say to all souls what sources of strength, peace and bliss, they would find if they agreed to live in this intimacy. (Letter 302).
God dwells in us
Jesus tells us « If a man loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. » (John 14,23) St John of the Cross marvels at this presence « What a great comfort for a soul to know that God never leaves it. Even the mortal sin itself does not drive him away. All the more will he make his dwelling in the soul who is in grace. What more could you wish for dear soul? What are you looking for outside, since you own within yourself your wealth, your pleasure, your delight, your satiety and your kingdom, that is to say, the Beloved you are longing for and yearning for. Rejoice, exult in your inner contemplation, in the company of Him who is so near you » (Spiritual Song B 1,6-8)
« It is in this ‘small heaven’ that he has created for Himself in the center of our soul that we have to search for Him and, above all, that we have to dwell » Heaven n faith, n° 32) states Elisabeth.
« ‘Appease my soul’ she asks of God ‘make it your heaven, your beloved home, the place of your rest. May I never leave you alone in it but may I be wholly there, wholly awake in my faith, wholly adoring, surrendered to your creative action.’ » (Notes intimes 15).
But, in order to dwell in this « heaven » let us listen first to Jesus calling out to us, as he did to Zacchaeus (cf. Luke 19,1-8) « Come down quickly !»
«Come down quickly!»
« ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down for I must stay at your house today ‘. The Lord addresses over and over again to our soul the words he once addressed to Zacchaeus (Heaven in faith, n°7)
« ‘I must stay at your house!’ My Lord expresses this wish! My Lord wants to stay within me together with the Father and His Spirit of love, so that, according to the expression of the beloved disciple, I am in ‘company’ with Them » (Last retreat n° 43).
Then, what happens once Zacchaeus has come down from his sycamore tree and welcomes Jesus in his home? Instantly, the head of the publicans is free from the love of wealth and made able to perform a handsome deed of sharing with the poor! Which effort toward conversion could reach such a result so fast and so happily? The evangelist does not tell us whether Jesus asked him to share his wealth but only if, today, He could stay in his house.
We too can hope, as we descend into the depth of our heart where God dwells, for conversions in the most humanly desperate situations to occur.
« Man does not cleanse himself from without but from within. Not so much through a moral effort but by discovering within himself a Presence which he allows to act freely », says father Jacques Philippe.
Dwelling in God
Elisabeth writes: « Remain in me, not for some moments, a few hours that must pass, but stay… in a permanent, usual way. Stay in me, pray in me, worship in me, love in me, suffer in me, work and act in me» (Heaven in faith, n° 9)
As we seek to dwell within our heart where God is present, we are reaching out to the very source of life, which has the power to renew everything. In this very source of life are our roots, and from it we receive strength and light, advice and grace for our inner and outer life. Therefore, our actions will spring forth more and more from the graces received and not from our gut reactions and
Apart from the time we consecrate solely to prayer, here are a few suggestions, which will help us to progress further:
- getting in the habit of returning often and quickly to our heart where God is present
- favoring a listening attitude
- when necessary, renouncing our own ideas and our own will
- seeking to avoid, generally speaking, a worldly style of life
- loving silence and contemplation, remembering that even when lacking outer silence and in the heat of activity, our inner life exists and so we can live from it.
Mary, our model
Let us look at Mary, living in God’s presence « keeping all these events and meditating over them in her heart ».
« It seems to me, Elisabeth writes, that the behavior of the Virgin Mary, during the months between the Annunciation and the Nativity is the model of inner souls, of those God has chosen to live inwardly, in the bottom of the bottomless abyss. In what peace, in what contemplation Mary went her way and showed willingness in everything. She deified the most commonplace things.
Through everything, the Virgin remained a worshipper of God’s gift! It did not prevent her from going out of her way when it came to practicing charity; the Gospel tells us that Mary rushed over the mountains of Judea to go to her cousin Elisabeth. Never did the ineffable vision she contemplated within herself lessen her outer charity » (Heaven in faith n° 40)
From Mary’s inner life sprang the powerful praise of the Magnificat, and Elisabeth in her own praise perceived her as «a praise to the Glory of the Holy Trinity » May they help us to dwell and deepen ours!
Enter inside your soul and you will always find Him there, wanting to work for your good.»
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity
To go further…
Just for today :
During the day I mark down some short moments where it is possible for me to return to God’s presence in me, while opening the computer, waiting for the bus or at the cashier’s desk in a shop, or moving about at home.
With the name of Jesus, or with a familiar invocation I « go down » into the depth my heart?
Find the previous articles in our “Life of prayer” series.
(publication edited by brothers and sisters of the Community of the Beatitudes – © rights reserved).