The last way of prayer, of watering the garden of our lives, is compared by St. Teresa of Avila to the rain and it expresses the state of union between a person and God. We are completely his, and on our own we can do absolutely nothing. We can only feel his work in us, we can only enjoy his presence, but without any action from our part: our memory, imagination, understanding and will are all in God. As if we disappeared and were born again totally in God, so that we „don’t live anymore but it is God who lives in us”. We can be sure that we are with God and God is with us.
We can recognize this state by its fruits: tenderness and sweet tears, courage to do anything for God (with concrete promises, determinations, strong desires), considering world as worth nothing, humility, lost of vain glory, continuous worshipping of God, virtues that are already strong, true, tested, not only in appearance, and in this moment other people notice these virtues and feel invited to imitate them. Even if a person hears others criticise her, she can only admit that all of it is true because she knows herself very well and knows how little she is worth without God sustaining her.
The only necessary thing is… TO BE WILLING TO RECEIVE IT. It is necessary to continue with great desires, not to be afraid of being different from others. Sometimes we think that we need to be free of all sins to enter on this path. No. God only wants us to begin and he will be the one who slowly will be showing to us our sins and giving solution for each one of them. All we need to do is to decide that we want it more than anything. But it doesn’t mean that we can live totally unaware of the dangers thinking that we cannot sin again since God is so near to us. It is even more challenging to keep ourselves out of situations that can make us sin and to never have trust only in our own strengths. More than ever it is necessary for a person to count on good accompaniment and never leave the prayer, even if it happened to us to sin.
St. Teresa distinguishes this union with God from other mystical experiences like rapture, rising of the spirit, flight of the spirit or ecstasy. All these are felt as being like outside of oneself. They are exterior expressions of what happened before in the interior of a person: determination of leaving oneself completely in the hands of God allowing him to do whatever he wishes with our souls and our body. They feel like complete solitude, being far from everything and everyone, feeling that we have no companion in this world. They only point out how important it is to consider humanity, embodiment, both of Jesus Christ and ours. We can never forget it, no matter how elevated we feel in spirit. We need to learn again to walk firmly with our feet on the ground.
At the end of this journey, St. Teresa serves us some pieces of advice that may be of great help for our adventure with God. The first and principal thing is to never walk in fear because of things that are not worthy of it, especially about temptations or other difficulties, but to put since the beginning all our trust in God. He is the one calling us to this path, he will take good care of us. We also need to learn to live in total transparency in accompaniment, not forgetting also to choose well a person to accompany us. The criterion of election should be only our own good, the true help we may receive in this process, not other reasons like our appetites, not because we like this person as a person. Once chosen, we ought to obey. All the way we need to remember that we don’t begin it to find pleasure but only to fulfil the will of God who called us to be near to him. Knowing that there are many chosen, and that God’s creativity is unmeasurable, we should never compare ourselves to others because God leads every person by her own path. It is also important to keep distance from all situations that are for us temptations; it is better to surround ourselves with people, things and situations that help us to love more God, to nourish ourselves of what will sustain us in this process. It is important to have friends among those who may help us on our way to God. But the most important thing is to have great desires, never remain in the little wishes, in mediocrity because of false humility or opinion of others. This contains also to disregard all what we could achieve in the world: titles, positions, honours, richness etc. To be able to do it, we need to know well ourselves, and never stop this process of self-knowledge. The center of our life has to be God alone: we should get used to stay always accompanied but Jesus. This way we will keep our priorities clear: first is first, and it can be only God and our relationship with him. It is to what we commit when we begin the journey of spiritual growth. Later he himself will show us how we can serve him the best.
So? Do you feel animated to begin your journey?
Prepared by: Aleksandra Nawrocka CMT