Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Lord 'calls everyone' to drink at the fountain of living waters

"On several occasions St Teresa clearly showed that the Lord 'calls everyone' to drink at the fountain of living waters, which is synonymous for her with infused contemplation. 'He calls souls to his,' she writes, 'publicly, and in a loud voice.' She makes this clearer when she says: 'All of us who wear this holy habit of Carmel are called to prayer and contemplation. Such was the purpose of our Order from the beginning.' Yet, she adds: 'There are very few who have the dispositions needed if God is to grant them this contemplation.' For this she demands a life of self-abnegation, humility, generosity, and the total gift of oneself to God.

St Teresa hardly doubts that those who possess these virtues will attain to contemplation. 'God truly has but one desire: to find souls to whom He can give Himself.' She exhorts her daughters to 'make strenuous efforts and not to stop halfway.' 'Sometimes the Lord is late in coming, but then He rewards handsomely, and He gives as much in a single visit as He gave others in small amounts over several years.'

According to St Teresa, all generous souls and all who give themselves completely to God are called to contemplation. Not that they will all be led by 'the way' of contemplation. There are two ways. But all will at least drink a little at the fountain of living waters, that is, they will occasionally receive some mystical grace. 'To those who want to follow Him,' she writes, 'God grants a great number of ways of drinking the living water, so that no one need be deprived of its consolations or die of thirst. From this source spring up streams, some large, others small.'

Although St John of the Cross stated that 'the way' of contemplation was not for all souls, he also recognized that those who resolutely make efforts to practise virtue participate in the passive nights and enjoy the favors of contemplation. Other Carmelite writers on mysticism repeat the same teaching. For them, as for their founders, infused contemplation is granted to all generous souls.

From these passages we can see clearly enough that infused contemplation is the ordinary and natural development of the spiritual life and is to be expected as a result of a life of generosity towards God. It is not an extraordinary grace. However, the way of contemplation is not the only way which leads to perfection. God leads some souls by another path, which will arrive at sanctity as well as the others."

-- The spirit and prayer of Carmel by François Jamart, ocd

2 comments:

Mary Rhoads said...

Thank you very much for this blog. Peace, Mary

ocd sister said...

God reward you! Many readers enjoy Fr Jamart's little book. It's a treasure. Feel free to use the search boxes for more of his writings (Jamart).
Please pray for me.