Only One Thing Necessary

This is a venture in which God alone is sought and gained.

As regards this road to union, entering on the road means leaving one’s own road; and turning from one’s own mode implies entry into what has no mode, that is, God.

A man, then, is decidedly hindered from the attainment of this high state of union with God when he is attached to any understanding, feeling, imagining, opinion, desire, or way of his own and knows not how to detach and denude himself of these impediments. His goal transcends all of this. Consequently, he must pass beyond everything to unknowing.

Our Lord, for our instruction and guidance along this road, imparted that wonderful teaching – I think it is possible to affirm that the more necessary the doctrine the less it is practiced – which I will quote fully: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will save it”. (Mk. 8: 34-35)

Oh, who can make this counsel understandable, and practicable, and attractive that spiritual persons might become aware of the difference between the method many of them think is good and that which ought to be used in travelling this road!

I should like to persuade spiritual persons that the road leading to God does not entail a multiplicity of considerations, methods, manners and experiences – though in their own way these may be a requirement for beginners – but demands only the one thing necessary: true self-denial. In the exercise of this self-denial everything else, and even more, is discovered and accomplished. If one fails in this exercise, the root and sum total of all the virtues, the other methods would amount to no more than going about in circles without any progress, even if they result in considerations and communications as lofty as those of the angels. 

Few there are with the knowledge and desire for entering upon this supreme nakedness and emptiness of spirit.

The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Book 2.  4:4-5, 7:3-5

Wound of Delight


Burn that is for my healing!

Wound of delight past feeling!

Who can fittingly speak of this intimate point of the wound, which seems to be in the middle of the heart of the spirit, there where the soul experiences the excellence of the delight? The soul feels that the point is like a tiny mustard seed, very much alive and enkindled, sending into its surroundings a living and enkindled fire of love. The fire issuing from the substance and power of that living point is felt to be subtly diffused through all the spiritual and substantial veins of the soul in the measure of the soul’s power and strength. The soul feels its ardour strengthen and increase and its love become so refined in this ardour that seemingly there are seas of loving fire within it, reaching to the heights and depths of the earthly and heavenly spheres, imbuing all with love. It seems to it that the entire universe is a sea of love in which it is engulfed.

St John of the Cross. The Living Flame of Love. 2:10

 

Living Flame

God’s speech is the effect He produces in the soul.

Since this flame is a flame of divine life, it wounds the soul with the tenderness of God’s life, and it wounds and stirs it so deeply as to make it dissolve in love. What the bride affirmed in the Canticle is fulfilled in the soul. She was so moved that her soul melted, and thus she says: “As soon as He spoke my soul melted”.

This feast takes place in the substance of the soul where the mind and senses cannot reach. God is the doer of all without the soul doing anything. Since the soul cannot do any work of its own save by means of the corporal senses, from which in this event it is very free and far removed, its sole occupation now is to receive.

And this is what happens, in an indescribable way, at the time this flame of love rises up within the soul. The divine substance which, because of its purity, touches everywhere profoundly, subtly and sublimely, absorbs the soul in itself with its divine flame.

Immersion of the soul in wisdom.

 

  •      St John of the Cross.  The Living Flame of Love. Stanza 1

The Power of Silence

God’s first language is silence.

In commenting on this beautiful, rich insight of Saint John of the Cross, Thomas Keating, in his work Invitation to Love, writes: Everything else is a poor translation. In order to understand this language, we must learn to be silent and to rest in God

… be nourished in prayer, which is a moment of silent, intimate encounter in which a human being stands face to face with God.

Let us not fool ourselves. This is the truly urgent thing: to rediscover the sense of God.
I think that we are the victims of the superficiality, selfishness and worldly spirit that are spread by our media-driven society. We get lost in struggles for influence, in conflicts between persons, in a narcissistic, vain activism. We swell with pride and pretention, prisoners of a will to power. The only reality that deserves our attention is God Himself, and God is silent. He waits for our silence to reveal Himself.

Regaining the sense of silence is therefore a priority, an urgent necessity.
Silence is more important than any other human work. Because it expresses God. The true revolution comes from silence.

Silence is not an idea; it is the path that enables human beings to go to God.

God is silence, and this divine silence dwells within a human being. By living with the silent God, and in Him, we ourselves become silent. Nothing will more readily make us discover God than this silence inscribed at the heart of our being.

I am not afraid to state that to be a child of God is to be a child of silence.

Conquering silence is a battle and a form of asceticism. Yes, it takes courage to free oneself from everything that weighs down our life, because we love nothing so much as appearances, ease and the husk of things. Carried away toward the exterior by his need to say everything, the garrulous man cannot help being far from God, incapable of any profound spiritual activity. In contrast, the silent man is a free man. The world’s chains have no hold on him.

Our busy, ultra-technological age has made us even sicker. Noise has become like a drug on which our contemporaries are dependent. With its festive appearance, noise is a whirlwind that avoids looking oneself in the face and confronting the interior emptiness. It is a diabolical lie. The awakening can only be brutal.

I am not afraid to call on all people of good will to enlist in a form of resistance. What will become of our world if it cannot find oases of silence?

Before God’s majesty, we lose our words. Who would dare to speak up before the Almighty? Silence is the essence of any attitude of prayer, because this silence, laden with the adored presence, manifests the humble acceptance of the creature’s limits vis-à-vis the infinite transcendence of a God who unceasingly reveals Himself as a God of love. To refuse this silence filled with confident awe and adoration is to refuse God the freedom to capture us by His love and His presence.Power of Silence

A human being enters into participation in the divine presence above all by letting himself be educated in an adoring silence, because at the summit of the knowledge and experience of God there is His absolute transcendence.

  •  Robert Cardinal Sarah                                             Extract : The Power of Silence 

Silence

The Father spoke one Word, which was His Son, and this Word He always speaks in eternal solitude, and in silence, and in silence must It be heard by the soul.

The contemplative soul does not meddle with exterior attachments or human respect, but it communes inwardly with God, alone and detached, and with delightful tranquility, for the knowledge of God is received in divine silence.

Wisdom enters through love, silence, and mortification. It is great wisdom to know how to be silent  and to look at neither the remarks, nor the deeds, nor the lives of others.

What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetites and our tongue, for the language He best hears is silent love.

Look at that infinite knowledge and that hidden secret. What peace, what love, what silence is in that divine bosom !

  • St John of the Cross

 

 

Listen To The Silence

 

Perhaps you know of Pascal’s cry as he stared at the stars that shone to the limits of the universe. He was seized by the great silence of a winter night aglow with the brightness of the stars and exclaimed:  The eternal silence of the infinite spaces fills me with dread!

God is eternal silence; God dwells in silence.

The works of God are marked with silence. It is in the silence of prayer and retreat, in the silence of the desert and the forest, that great souls receive their message from God. Recall how Saint Bernard enriched the whole of Europe with silent monasteries. In order to describe the beauty of silence, he used to say: The oak trees of the forest have been my masters of prayer. Silence is the great master. It speaks to the human heart. Silence is not an empty void; God dwells therein.

Whoever embraces silence, welcomes God and whoever relishes silence, hears God speak. Silence is the echo of God’s eternity.

Are you seeking to find God? Then listen to the silence; immerse yourself in silence.

The soul must not be a public square, where there is always a crowd of gossipers or of persons recalled from the past with their tales of suffering and rebuke. Such types, seething at their imagined foes and smarting in their own self-love, are seriously at fault. There should be nothing like that among us. Silence should penetrate deep within us and occupy every area of our inner home. Thus is our soul transformed into a sanctuary of prayer and recollection.

When we meet one day in heaven, we should be filled with joy that we have done everything asked of us. We should have given the Lord, not lip service, but lives of humble, habitual, and complete silence. Amen.

  • Pere Jacques.   Listen to the Silence.  ICS publications.

We Must See

Gaze upon Christ… come to see him with the eyes of your soul.

In analyzing ourselves, each one of us readily realizes our own personhood; this irreducible “me”. This “me” remains despite all the upheavals and changes in our lives. Throughout all our joys and sorrows, in health and in sickness. our human personality presides over every stage of life, from cradle to grave. That personality embraces our memories and our fantasies, as well as our pride and our shame at various times of our lives. That personality enables us to pray, to love, and to act be it basely or bravely. It is the mysterious “me” which imparts all value to our being.

When we scrutinize Christ, we find in him, an authentic human nature composed of both a real body and a real soul with all its faculties. We find in him also a will with a loving heart and a spirit capable of prayerful knowledge of God. That spirit was likewise capable of suffering the intense pain of the dark night of the soul, as when he cried out from the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lemma sabachthani?” [Mk 15:34].

However, what we do not find in Christ is this overarching  human “me”.
Therein, we confront the majestic mystery.

What a rapturous reflection the mother Mary experienced, when she first gazed into the eyes of her infant son and there discovered a glint of God’s infinity!

We must see Christ. I stress this point: we must truly see Christ. We cannot see Christ and remain as we are. We cannot exchange a look with Christ and not be overcome. If we are tepid and still attached to our ease, it is because we have not exchanged glances with Christ; we have not really seen Christ. Exchange that glance with Christ; a true, living, and real contact that is not the fruit of the imagination, but rather reaches the heart of things as they are.Pere Jacques

When I speak of seeing Christ, I mean the experience of being ‘swept up’ by Christ himself…. we become enveloped in the divine being… the presence of God himself.

He is the God-man, yet he does not have a human personality. Rather, it is the infinite person of God in whom Christ subsists, and through whom Christ is made incarnate.

  • Pere Jacques. Listen to The Silence : Conference 3.