Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cleaving To God: Part 13 of 16

The nature and value of prayer, and how the heart should be recollected
within itself

Besides this, since we are incapable of ourselves for this and for any
other good action whatsoever, and since we can of ourselves offer
nothing to the Lord God (from whom all good things come) which is not
his already, with this one exception, as he has deigned to show us both
by his own blessed mouth as well as by his example, that we should turn
to him in all circumstances and occasions as guilty, wretched, poor,
beggarly, weak, helpless, subject servants and sons. And that we should
beseech him and lay before him with complete confidence the dangers
that are besetting us on all sides, completely grief-stricken in
ourselves, in humble prostration of mind, in fear and love, and with
recollected, composed, mature, true and naked, shamefaced affection,
with great yearning and determination, and in groaning of heart and
sincerity of mind. Thus we commit and offer ourselves up to him freely,
securely and nakedly, fully and in everything that is ours, holding
nothing back to ourselves, in such a complete and final way, that the
same is fulfilled in us as in our blessed father Isaac, who speaks of
this very type of prayer, saying, Then we shall be one in God, and the
Lord God will be all in all and alone in us when his own perfect love,
with which he first loved us, will have become the disposition of our
own hearts too. This will come about when all our love, all our desire,
all our concern, all our efforts, in fact everything we think,
everything we see, speak and even hope will be God, and that unity
which now is of the Father with the Son, and of the Son with the
Father, will be poured into our own heart and mind as well, in such a
way that just as he loves us with sincere and indissoluble love we too
will be joined to him with eternal and inseparable affection. In other
words we shall be united with him in such a way that whatever we hope,
and whatever we say or pray will be God. This therefore should be the
aim, this the concern and goal of a spiritual man - to be worthy to
possess the image of future bliss in this corruptible body, and in a
certain measure experience in advance how the foretaste of that
heavenly bliss, eternal life and glory begins in this world. This, as I
say, is the goal of all perfection, that his purified mind should be
daily raised up from all bodily objects to spiritual things until all
his mental activity and all his heart's desire become one unbroken
prayer. So the mind must abandon the dregs of earth and press on
towards to God, on whom alone should be fixed the desire of a spiritual
man, for whom the least separation from that summum bonum is to be
considered a living death and dreadful loss. Then, when the requisite
peace has been established in his mind, when it is free from attachment
to any carnal passion, and clings firmly in intention to that one
supreme good, the Apostle's sayings are fulfilled, Pray without
ceasing, (1 Thessalonians 5.17) and, Pray in every place lifting up
pure hands without anger or dispute. (1 Timothy 2.8) For when the power
of the mind is absorbed in this purity, so to speak, and is transformed
from an earthly nature into the spiritual or angelic likeness, whatever
it receives into itself, whatever it is occupied with, whatever it is
doing, it will be pure and sincere prayer. In this way, if you continue
all the time in the way we have described from the beginning, it will
become as easy and clear for you to remain in contemplation in your
inward and recollected state, as to live in the natural state.

Saint Albert of Jerusalem: For more on Reading on Cleaving to God
or other Doctors of the Church Click Here

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