One of my friends (I do still have a few of them) asked me last year how I know that God loves me. In reflecting on my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5), I put this question to God.
For those who know me, you know my favorite Lectio Divina image is to see myself on a park bench, in the dead of Winter, peering down the long road hoping to see Christ come my way so I can ask him about intimacy.
Yes, I know that God is always near me, always close to my heart. What the problem is, due to Original Sin, is me. I don’t want to presume on God to answer me just because I asked Him. I don’t want to demand an answer, but rather, with humility and obedience to what He tells me, I listen with the “ear of the heart? as St. Benedict recommends. Relax! My mind keeps wanting results, seeking to ask Why all the time, demanding that I receive an answer, just because I asked for help.
Just as there are two realms of spirituality, that of the mind and that of the heart, there are two types of intimacy to correspond to them, that of the intimacy of the mind (knowledge, information, the Mystery of Faith) and intimacy of the heart (contemplation, feeling your heart next to the heart of Christ, the Mystery of Faith). The realm of the mind is unique and helps us open the realm of the heart to be next to Christ.
I find that, when I abandon all thoughts of me and focus on what God wants me to know and to feel, then I reach a more creative and deeper level of contemplation, one where the Holy Spirit dwells, waiting for those who brave the temptations of the World. The purpose of all life, physical, mental, and spiritual, is to know God with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37)
Here are some of my thoughts about human intimacy.
Intimacy has the following characteristics:
Here are some thoughts about the Intimacy of God.
This intimacy has the following characteristics
Let’s look at some types of human intimacy and then interpolate these ideas to the Intimacy of God, in no particular order of priority.
At the beginning of this blog, I tried to ask the question, how do I know that God loves me? You have to ask Him. Whoa! That is too simple! The simplicity of God is being in the presence of God without words, without my agenda, without demanding God speak to me, without requiring God answer my petition for a favor or a gift, opening my heart to let in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. https://www.stjmod.com/7-gifts-of-the-holy-spirit.html I will quote this page in its entirety so that you get a sense of how important these Seven Gifts are.
Wisdom is not the quoting of facts. Wisdom is a gift that allows a person to understand things from God’s point of view. In other words, Wisdom allows a person to recognize truth. A person with the Gift of Wisdom is able to take this truth and use it to glorify God by choosing Godly solutions to problems.
Understanding is the second gift of the Holy Spirit, and people sometimes have a hard time understanding (no pun intended) how it differs from wisdom. While wisdom is the desire to contemplate the things of God, understanding allows us grasp, at least in a limited way, the very essence of the truths of the Catholic Faith. Through understanding, we gain a certitude about our beliefs that moves beyond faith
The Gift of Counsel is also known as a Gift of Right Judgment. Counsel, the third gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the cardinal virtue of prudence. Prudence can be practiced by anyone, but counsel is supernatural. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, we are able to judge how best to act almost by intuition. Because of the gift of counsel, Christians need not fear to stand up for the truths of the Faith, because the Holy Spirit will guide us in defending those truths.
The Gift of Fortitude is also known as the Gift of Courage. Through this Gift a person is no longer afraid to stand up for God and His truths. A person who has the Gift of Fortitude will stand up for good against evil and is convicted to take a stand when the occasion arises.
The Gift of Knowledge allows a person to understand the meaning and purpose God has for him and to live up to this meaning. It differs from wisdom in that it is an action, not just a desire to live up to the ways of God. It differs from Understanding in that it is not just ability, it is a knowing.
Piety, the sixth gift of the Holy Spirit, is the perfection of the virtue of religion. While we tend to think of religion today as the external elements of our faith, it really means the willingness to worship and to serve God. Piety takes that willingness beyond a sense of duty so that we desire to worship God and to serve Him out of love, the way that we desire to honor our parents and do what they wish.
The Gift of Fear of the Lord puts God in the proper perspective. A person with this Gift understands the greatness and awesomeness of the Lord. They want to serve Him because of who He is. A person with the Gift of Fear of the Lord understands who they are and why they are here in relationship to God; In other words, everything they are is due to the wonder, love, grace, and perfection of God. They are totally dependent on the Lord as a child is to a parent. The Gift of Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. Once a person understands who God is and desires to please Him, they can begin to understand things from God’s point of view or have Wisdom. “
Like the intimacy we have with other human beings, e.g., spouse, mom and dad, brothers and sisters, family members, communities of faith, Lay Cistercians, and friends we hold in high esteem, our reward, or treasure is is what happens as a result of being in the presence of the Other and the others.
Where your heart is, there your treasure will be. As a Lay Cistercian practicing the Rule of Benedict in Chapter 4 each day, being present with the Eucharist as much as possible, praying the meditations on the life of Christ with the Rosary, placing myself in a position for Lectio Divina, reading Scripture and pondering all these things in my heart, making a daily morning offering of each day to God in praise and glory, and attempting to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus, all of these activities put me in the presence of God so that I can experience intimacy with God as much as my “capacitas dei” (capacity for God in me) will allow.
Praise be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology