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Chapter 34

The Season of Easter

 

I am never less alone than when I am alone.
—St. Ambrose

 

 

Prayer is conversation with God,” noted St. Clement of Alexandria.  It is a communion of love.  It is the sharing of friendship.  We share our mind and heart with God and He shares His mind and heart with us.  We grow in love and friendship, in communion and union with God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This sharing can be with words, thoughts or actions, or without them.  Simple contemplation is direct communication with God, Spirit to spirit.  No need for words or thoughts or actions, except what God inspires by way of spiritual overflow from the substance of the soul to the faculties of intellect and free will.  But even without these particular thoughts and desires, in the prayer of infused contemplation, there is always a spiritual overflow from God into the soul filling her more full of the Divine Presence and removing some more of the obstacles to His manifold grace, spiritual gifts and blessings.  She is withdrawn from the exterior and drawn to the interior by the loving and peaceful presence of God in which the soul is absorbed, changed and transformed over time.  Everything takes on a new light and glow as though awakening from the night into the morning sunlight.  It is a spiritual resurrection.  “Was not our heart burning within us while he spoke on the way, and as he opened up to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)  The Flame of Love begins to burn within the soul as the presence of God within her grows.  Everything has meaning, value and purpose.  There is a spiritual relish and delight in the sight of God’s providence at work in the world around her and in her own life.

Jesus Christ, then, becomes our companion and friend, the love of our life and the center of everything.  St. Teresa of Avila once wrote, “Mental prayer (especially contemplation) is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.”  We love Him when we give our attention to Him as far as we can in the midst of our daily duties, but especially at prayer time.  The “practice of the presence of God,” as it is known, means always keeping one eye on the presence of God within us while going about our exterior activities in a way that pleases Him.  When we are free, we do more spiritual activities than formerly.  “If, then, you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things.” (Col. 3:1-2)  Spiritual Reading takes on a new and deeper meaning as we begin to experience the life of Christ in mystical reality.  The caterpillar has come out of the cocoon’s dark night and emerged into the sunlight as a beautiful new butterfly, though somewhat still feeble in virtue and uncertain with flying in the wind of the Holy Spirit.

 

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