Life In The Spirit: Inhale His Fragrance of Love; Let Him Ravish Your Heart
Have we encountered the mystery of God? Do we live in a relationship of unceasing and intimate love with the Spirit of Love?
Life in the Spirit, immersed in his way of love and beauty, docile to his movements as a feather is carried about by a Divine Wind, is a way of life. And it is not easy: it requires determined commitment, persistence and sacrifice. It is a sacramental life that travels the way of sanctity, holiness and loving obedience in the womb of mother Church; it is an ascetic life of repentance and grace and unceasing prayer, lived in humility and love, with our human gaze ever fixed on the divine Other who sustains us and possesses us that we too might possess him. It is a life of voluntary and innocent suffering, that we truly may become "little christs." It is a life whose supreme focus is directed unrelentingly on Love.
When a lover is in the presence of his Love, his gaze remains constantly fixed on the divine Other who is the highest object of his joyous hope. The lover holds his cherished Love in an attentive embrace, alert to all the endless movements and delicate sighs that accompany the language of love, thirstily drinking in every breath, every subtle whisper.
Fr. Moynihan utilized that quote in order to underscore a disturbing problem he noticed, one which he characterized as the "degradation of religion to a thinly-disguised worship of humanity" (ibid.). What does he mean by this statement? He is not, of course, suggesting that Christians are somehow in error if they pursue with zeal the love of neighbor and the common good of society. For Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mat. 25:40). He does point out, however, that the often militant atheism of the present age is not nearly so frightening "as the lack of interest in God or sense of His reality among reputed Christians" (8). Speaking of this lack of awareness of God's presence, he states that "almost the whole content of Christianity is the commandment to 'love thy neighbor,' with little reference to the first commandment" (9).
The Experience of God's Presence was copyrighted two years after the close of Vatican II. Consequently, Fr. Moynihan aptly observed that the Council Fathers vigorously affirmed that the primary mission of the Church is to bring the world to Christ. Many others have since said the same. For instance, Cardinal Avery Dulles wrote: "The council repeatedly and emphatically taught that the procurement of salvation is the most important task of the church" (qtd in Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition 163).
Moreover, in the first year of his Pontificate, Blessed John Paul II taught that "The Church's fundamental function in every age and particularly in ours is to direct man's gaze, to point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity towards the mystery of God, to help all men to be familiar with the profundity of the Redemption taking place in Christ Jesus" (Redemptor hominis 10 § 3). If the function of the Church is to draw man into an experience of the mystery of God, it is also, then, of paramount importance that every Christian engage themselves, on a personal level, in a pursuit of that same object; i.e. an encounter with God. In order to do so, it is vital to direct the actively of one's life in such a way so as to promote an increase of love of -- and intimacy with -- the Holy Spirit.
Am I Conscious of The Indwelling Spirit of God?
The question is, how deeply have we plunged into the sublime mystery of God? Are we in a state of grace, and, if so, are we aware of the constant presence of the indwelling Spirit? Do we, throughout the day, give adoration and praise to God, nestled as we are in the arms of his unceasing embrace? Or, on the other hand, is the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16) that we are by virtue of our Baptism and faith in Christ left unvisited by our own hand? That is, have we become "deserted temples," not because the Spirit has refused entry within the mysterious corridors of our soul, but rather because we have failed to prayerfully explore with depth the interior landscape of our own being and thus discover the Advocate who dwells therein and awaits our love?
It is tempting to lay blame on the frenetic "busyness" of the modern age. Perhaps none of us need reminding of the dangers of clutter and distraction in our daily lives; nevertheless, it is all too easy to fall prey to the plague of unrelenting "noise," allowing it to blot out the subtle yet persistent divine impulses of the Spirit.
There is also the problem of simple forgetfulness; insidious though it is. Although we know we are temples of the Spirit and have often been told as much, we yet suddenly awaken to the fact that days or weeks or even months have passed in silence. How is it possible that the lover could forget his most adored and cherished Love? It is not that we refuse to speak with the Advocate who shapes our hearts and defines the richness of our life, rather it is that our attention is drawn to lesser, smaller and often insignificant things. Therefore it is profitable to seriously ask ourselves, "What or who do I really love?"
Upon reflection many will find that their spiritual life has never begun to flourish. Why is this so? It is not God's doing. Christ did not die on the cross to diminish or empty out our life, but rather he came so that we may have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10). Christ died to give us true, everlasting and superabundant life. Nevertheless, rather than thirsting after the fiery heat of intimacy with the ...
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