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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where God Dwells

I am reading "The Cistercian Way" by Andre Louf, and am often having to stop and "process" parts of this book. There are concepts that have been introduced to me in my Spirituality classes, but find deeper expression here, making me stop and really contemplate who God is...and who I am.

Here is an excerpt:

"There is a place in every man where God touches him and where he himself is constantly in contact with God. This is simply because at every instant God holds us in being. Ceaselessly we come forth from his hands. The place where this creative contact with God takes place is deep within me. If I can reach it I can touch God. If I can arrive at a point where I can free myself from every other reality and bring the gaze of my spirit to bear on this point exclusively, I can meet God.

Some of the mystics have spoken of this place as an abyss or a well whose dizzying depths draw us like a magnet. Are we not in fact continually haunted by this desire for God, which leads us insensibly towards that reality in ourselves which is both the deepest and most divine part of our being? Other spiritual writers have taken their imagery from height, while others again speak of the pinnacle of the spirit or the fine point of the soul. They invite us to ascend these heights where we will meet God. This place is therefore the most precious centre of our being. There we come forth from the hand of God as his creatures; there we are begotten as his children."

~ The Cistercian Way, p. 72

Is that not profound? This afternoon I read this and had to put the book down, remembering the words of my professor a couple years ago: "God holds you in existence."

Indeed.

If that is true, then it means that no matter who or what we are, we are ALWAYS in contact with God. If we are in a state of mortal sin, we know that He cannot dwell within us for we have severed our relationship with Him. Yet, His contact is still there. He continues to hold us, continuing to be in contact with us. There is always that fine point to which we are drawn, no matter what we have done, no matter how much we might want to deny our source and our ends.

As long as we are living and breathing, that contact is there, and THAT is what draws us to conversion in every moment. THAT is what reminds us how we have come into being, for even if we are in intellectual denial, our souls will still draw us towards our loving Creator who desires that we return His own love.

In reading the second paragraph, I can recall the images used by different mystical writers. St. Faustina speaks of "the abyss of God's Mercy", while St. John of the Cross speaks of the "ascent" to God. Thomas Merton, I believe, also wrote of "ascent".

I think that in my own spirituality, I tend to gravitate towards the safety of the "abyss", not to be confused with something scary and awful, but maybe something more akin to...the womb. It is an interior place where God can be found, where He touches us, beckoning us to find Him even in conscious awareness. We can't get there through self-hypnosis, but only through searching His will, seeking Him sincerely, and cooperating with His grace.

We can't even find Him without His acquiescence and invitation. "Emptiness", in this section, isn't referring to a common interpretation of that, but rather, simply a rejection of distractions which, once removed, help us to focus on God, on His present reality, so that we may descend (or arise!) into that interior place where God touches us, holding us in the palm of His hand.

It is this that I am seeking. It is this contact with God. It is this meeting with my Creator, that ultimately, I want. My search for a Vocation is truly nothing other than a search for this ultimate union with God; this contact from which I was created and to which I am drawn for eternity.

I don't know why God created me, I don't know what He is asking me to do until He calls me into eternity. But I am comforted to know that in every moment, not only am I in the presence of God, but He has never once taken his hand from me nor will He ever.

Vespers:

Antiphon 2:

"Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's"

Antiphon 3:

From him, through him, and in him all things exist; glory to him for ever, alleluia!

*

9 comments:

memoriadei said...

Ah, the Cistercian way ! A beautiful journey. Cistercian way teaches us that we don't have to look for more and more but to do what we do now as well done as we can do it. It is not about the future as to what we can become but what we do now to the best of our ability according to God's grace. We walk minute by minute, day by day. Thus, the Cistercian way. And it is a process of, through God's grace, taking in what the head consumes and placing it into our heart. And that, Lectio Divina, a daily devotion out of love for God to know Him.

Adoro said...

Mem ~ I'm assuming your SD had you read this book? I've been back in contact with the community's Vocations Director, and have to read this, will contact her again when I'm done. It has a large section on Lectio Divina, asceticism, the monastic life, etc.

I would actually recommend this book for ANYONE who might be called to a monastic vocation.

memoriadei said...

No, I have not been asked to read that book. I only have 4 years reading everything I can from Cistercian Publications. It's not new to me because I have been living it for some time now. But, I am sure the book is very much well worth reading.

Adoro said...

Mem ~ I definitely recommend it to anyone. It seems to be written from a very general perspective, although of course it gives Cistercian history. I'm only about half way through, reading slowly so as to better digest it.

Warren said...

This is a good example of where spiritualities can (in my words) diverge wildly, and in the eyes of the Church and of your fellow Catholics this is not only acceptable, but GOOD.

Isn't it wild? I think so.

In other words, I don't find that this does anything for me, since it's not how I think of my relationship, or connection with God, and yet, I can understand at the same time, how for other people it is.

"Finding God within myself" is not my path. That's for sure. What's brilliant about this passage, is that if it resonates for you, it shows you that there's something in this spiritual path that is very valuable for you.

For me, I'm left cold by this particular way of expressing this mystery. I would use language that is more incarnational, probably because of my roots more than anything else, but also because I prefer to couch everything in Franciscan terms. Duh. Big surprise there, eh?

For other people, either way, they learn something really important about themselves.

W

Adoro said...

Warren ~ The section I quoted doesn't belong to any particular spirituality. It's actually very generalized. I find it interesting because of my professor's comment a couple years ago saying, "God holds you in existence". This passage takes that and goes deeper. It also addresses the mystics of several spiritualities.

So the reality is that God DOES always touch us, and that is what causes us to continue to seek Him. We do that in different ways, and THAT'S where the spirituality comes in. And that's what the author is getting at; we choose those paths (ie Carmelite, Franciscan, etc.) but in the end, we're all seeking that eternal union with God. He's always with us.

If He wasn't always touching us, then we'd simply stop existing.

That's a basic theological principle. It's not Cistercian or Dominican or what have you, but a foundational reality of our existence.

Declan said...

I was given that book when I visited Mount St. Bernard Abbey near Leicester, England (British Title: The Cistercian Alternative). Have you read any books by Michael Casey, OCSO of Tarrawarra Abbey in Austalia? He is pretty good, too.

Adoro said...

Declan ~ This is the ONLY Cistercian book I've read (well, still reading, lol), not sure that I have a Cistercian vocation by any means, but of course I like recommendations on other great books to add to my ever-growing list! :-)

Mark said...

God sustains the rock and you in existince by his action, but God is spirit, and God is Truth; hence to know the truth, since knowlege and understanding are faculties of the soul, is the closest you can come to "touching God."