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Monday, 2 April 2012

The Demands of Love--Perfection Series continued

Continuing on the theme of perfection and middle-age, I come to the writings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. She writes, "God gives Himself wholly to the soul which gives itself wholly to Him."

Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen wrote a book in 1940 about the stages of the interior life. I used some of his insights in the title yesterday, the metaphysics of love.  In his chapter entitled, The Demands of Love, the good father points out that the person who continually seeks God, will be met by Him in Love. We need the Love of God in order to love Love. A good prayer is "God give me Your Love so that I can love You." As Father Gabriel and St. John of the Cross note, this union of love is infused, but the soul can prepare itself for such a meeting of Love. The real beginning of growth is St. John's idea of nothing, NADA. We must become detached from all things, people, the past, the future, living in the now and waiting for God to meet us, as we cooperate in a purification of the senses. The empty soul is a free soul.

And only in that soul is there room for God. The NADA, the nothing, leads to the All, the TODO. How many times have we loved someone and wanted desperately to give all, to be all for this person we love. We want to be our best, to grow in love, to make the other all he or she can be as well--we wish the best always for the beloved. And, like God, we want that beloved to reach a perfection of his or her self so that he or she can be happy with God for all eternity.

So, too, God wants all the best for us and for us to be happy with Him now and in eternity. To empty ourselves is like carving out a hole in our heart for God to come in and take over. NADA-TODO.

What does it mean to give our all for God? It simply means, Father Gabriel tells us, that complete conformity to the Will of God begins this giving of our all. This is the easy and the hard part. We, as Father writes, "divest" ourselves of all that is not God.

"God, take my heart and give me Your Heart. Break all my attachments to things, people, my history, my future. Be all to me."

The Doctor of the Church and Father Gabriel want the soul to do this without delay, quickly, with generosity. Generosity means that the soul allows God to strip one of all the detachments. This is partly the "active work of the soul", that is "to let one's self be despoiled." This can be painful or joyful, or even both.

Make a resolution this week, Holy Week, to follow the way of perfection, to start being generous with God.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is the title of the book written by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen in 1940?

Supertradmum said...

St. John of the Cross Doctor of Divine Love, Thomas Baker, London 1940 and out of print.

There are many commentaries, but this old one is one of the best I have ever read. Too many of the more recent ones are infected with modern psychology or new age interpretations of mysticism.

Mark said...

What is the title of the book written by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen in 1940?

In 1941 he began the magazine Vita Carmelitana, which in 1947 became the Rivista di Vita Spirituale
In 1952 he published Divine Intimacy, which was extraordinarily popular

http://www.stteresamargaret.org/FrGabriel/NewsArticle.htm


you are probably thinking of "Divine Intimacy." Baronius Press has a beautiful edition.
http://www.baroniuspress.com/

Clare OCDS said...

Ahhh, here it is. Thank you for directing me to look back here as there were no comments when I first read these posts. Was not aware of this book by Fr. Gabriel and now discover it only to find it out of print. Sigh. As you noted, much of the newer "scholarship" on the great saints of Carmel would make many of them turn in their graves. Will have to keep my eyes peeled at the used book stores. Many a treasure has surfaced when least expected - even in the backwaters here in lovely Indiana.