from The Hidden Life--"Before the Face of God II"
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
"Through him, with him, and in him in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever." With these solemn words, the priest ends the eucharistic prayer at the center of which is the mysterious event of the consecration. These words at the same time encapsulate the prayer of the church: honor and glory to the triune God through, with, and in Christ. Although the words are directed to the Father, all glorification of the Father is at the same time glorification of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the prayer extols the majesty that the Father imparts to the Son and that both impart to the Holy Spirit from eternity to eternity.
All praise of God is through, with, and in Christ. Through him, because only through Christ does humanity have access to the Father and because his existence as God-man and his work of salvation are the fullest glorification of the Father; with him, because all authentic prayer is the fruit of union with Christ and at the same time buttresses this union, and because in honoring the Son one honors the Father and vice versa; in him, because the praying church is Christ himself, with every individual praying member as a part of his Mystical Body, and because the Father is in the Son and the Son the reflection of the Father, who makes his majesty visible. The dual meanings of through, with, and in clearly express the God-man's mediation.
Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: February 2004 Archives
from The Hidden Life, "Before the Face of God"
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Carmelites can repay God's love by their everyday lives in no other way than by carrying out their daily duties faithfully in every respect all the little sacrifices that a regimen structured day after day in all its details demands of an active spirit; all the self- control that living in close proximity with different kinds of people continually requires and that is achieved with a loving smile; letting no opportunity go by for serving others in love. Finally, crowning this is the personal sacrifice that the Lord may impose on the individual soul. This is the "little way," a bouquet of insignificant little blossoms which are daily placed before the Almighty perhaps a silent, life-long martyrdom that no one suspects and that is at the same time a source of deep peace and hearty joyousness and a fountain of grace that bubbles over everything we do not know where it goes, and the people whom it reaches do not know from where it comes.
What more need be said?
from The Hidden Life
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
But we have the Savior not only in the form of reports of witnesses to his life. He is present to us in the most Blessed Sacrament. The hours of adoration before the Highest Good and the listening for the voice of the eucharistic God are simultaneously "meditation on the Law of the Lord" and "watching in prayer." But the highest level is reached "when the Law is deep within our hearts" (Ps 40:8), when we are so united with the triune God whose temple we are, that his Spirit rules all we do or do not do. Then it does not mean we are forsaking the Lord when we do the work that obedience requires of us. Work is unavoidable as long as we are subject to nature's laws and to the necessities of life. And, following the word and example of the apostle Paul, our holy Rule commands us to earn our bread by the work of our hands. But for us this work is always merely a means and must never be an end in itself. To stand before the face of God continues to be the real content of our lives.
How then do we pray always? We do so when we have invited God to be with us always, when we have reached a level of unity with Him, when we have surrendered everything to Him.
Praying always is something like a marriage of long duration where it is sufficient to be present together. You needn't jabber each other's ears off with protestations of your love and devotion. Your presence together speaks volumes that no words can speak.
However, that comfortable marriage comes only after years of work and of saying the things that must be said and of doing the things that must be done. One does not achieve unity by ignoring one another--nor by simple toleration. There is always a growth in love fostered by the blessings of the Holy Trinity present at the heart of the sacrament of matrimony.
So too, the union with God doesn't just happen. You must take what pains you can to express your love to God, and perhaps more importantly, (and much more difficult), you must allow God to love you. In this grace alone works to open you up to the love of God--an active, invigorating, growing love. You cannot perceive it by trying to do so.
The only way to receive this love is to be obedient to God's commandments and rely upon His Grace, present powerfully in the sacraments, but also present in "the sacrament of the present moment." We live only in the present, and it is only in the present that we can experience God. God's love is eternal, but its expression is in time, in each moment of each day. Every breath is a gift, everything that comes to us in a moment is a love-letter. We need to refocus our vision to find God in the gift of the moment, and open our wills to accept that grace.
Only in this way is it possible to grow in love. His grace opens us up to His grace. The best we can manage is to not get in the way. And so, when we are in a hurry and stuck in the world's largest parking lot, regard that as a moment from the Lord, the gift of the present moment and thank Him for it. No matter what happens, resolve, with His help, to accept it and to converse with Him about it. In this way, you grow toward that union that requires no conversation to complete it because it is a continual conversation in itself. Like those grown old together in marriage, words become unnecessary because there is a communion and communication of being. Much more so then with our Beloved Father, Spouse, and Comforter. All Earthly marriage is a reflection of the true Divine marriage of God to the individual Soul. All that is good in marriage is expressed in this Union and because God is simple in Good, the Divine Union, unlike the human state, can have no shadow of evil in it. It is pure, holy, and good--the transcendant and encompassing marriage. Moreover, it is a gift, waiting for anyone who is willing to open it. God invites us to come and partake,
And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let him that heareth say, "Come." And let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the Water of Life freely. (Rev 22: 17).
And more, the message is repeated and repeated throughout the Bible and probably most profoundly accented in the Song of Songs.
I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me; I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate. His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up nor awake my love, until he please." (Song 8:2-4)
Of enormous interest is that this image suggests at once marital union and the embrace of a father supporting the head of the smallest infant. The other day T.S. O'Rama was commenting on the need for us to become little children. And I would say amen to that--very little children indeed. For little children are simple, they accept what comes to them and, in their way are thankful for it. So too we must learn to be thankful for what comes to us from God who holds us tenderly as a Father holds an only child that he has waited years and years to see. His embrace at once protects, strengthens, and comforts us. He is at once Father and Mother to us combining the very best of both human roles to be truly our All in All.