Friday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time
Is it possible for God to visit the soul? The Christian tradition testifies to the fact that yes, indeed, God does visit our souls and dwell within us. One of the Jesuit saints of the 20th Century, Jose Maria Rubio, says that Catholics should expect to be mystics. Of course, he doesn’t have in mind a cheap mysticism obtained through a few books on the self-help rack. What he has in mind is the flowering of an entire life devoted to becoming a disciple of Christ Jesus. In our reflections the past few days, we have considered the different stages of prayer laid out by the Carthusian Guigo II. We now come to the last stage, contemplation.
The first thing to keep in mind about contemplation is that it is God’s visit to the soul. Just as we can’t force a person to come to our house, we cannot force God to visit us in contemplation. It is a gift. While we can prepare ourselves to receive it, the final step remains the free choice of God. In the previous stage, prayer, we pined for the Lord, and begged Him to reach down and touch our hearts. When the moment comes when our prayer is answered, the long period of waiting and struggle seems to disappear from our minds. What is this visitation like? “Those unacquainted with such things will not understand them until they have read of them more clearly in the book of personal experience, until they have been taught by the unction itself.” If we could capture the experience through writing, it would be no use praying.
Guigo does say, however, that the experience of contemplation often arrives like an invasion while the soul is yet in the midst of her prayers. It banishes hunger, satisfies hunger, and quenches thirst. In this joyful state, we can even shed tears, tears which wash away the defilement within us. We are cleansed of our attachment to whatever is not of God and rest assured in the loving presence of our creator and redeemer. Perhaps if more people knew of this possibility; perhaps if more people pursued and sacrificed for this goal; perhaps if more people lived in this light more people would see the attractive power of our Catholic Faith.