Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We are all 'predestined to be made conformable to the image of His Son'

"Since contemplation is a gratuitous gift of God, is one justified in hoping for it?

Sometimes the question is asked whether it is not contrary to humility to hope for the gift of contemplation, and does not this open the door to illusions. Most Carmelite authors allow one to hope for it. Without excluding this hope, St Teresa thought it better to dispose oneself for it by humility and by the total gift of oneself to strive to realize the aim of their Institute, which is contemplation.

Can souls who thus dispose themselves to receive the gift of contemplation, merit this gift from God?

In the strict sense of the term merit, this is not possible, for contemplation is always a gratuitous gift. St Teresa and other Carmelite writers are quite firm on this point. But they are of the opinion that God rewards generous and faithful souls by giving it to them. This seems to lend authority to the opinion that one can merit contemplation in the wider meaning of the term."


As will be evident from the foregoing, Carmelite life is especially directed towards contemplation. The soul seeks to meet God in solitude and silence. There it strives to detach itself from created things, to purify its faculties from everything that hinders its union with God, and to occupy itself with Him alone. The Carmelite concentrates all his thoughts on God. He seeks Him and contemplates Him in the light of faith, which alone enables him to attain God. He is drawn to God with all the ardor of his soul filled with love. Prayer is his principal occupation. The Carmelite devotes his whole day to this. Even while he works he strives to retain a spirit of prayer. In this recollection he glorifies God; gives himself to Him; and is full of zeal for His glory. He is not unconcerned for the welfare of other souls, but knows that he will save more souls, the more he is united with God.

Thus the Carmelite strives for this union in all his thoughts and actions. He knows that God invites him to do this. On the other hand, he is conscious of the fact that God gives Himself to souls only when they have left all for him. This is why, with his eyes fixed on Christ whom he strives to reproduce in himself, with his heart tending towards Him, he produces a void in himself to make room for God and gives himself to God in the hope of finally achieving union with Him in the measure that God deigns to communicate Himself here below.

Carmelite life is open to other souls

It has been our special purpose here to give an exposition of Carmelite ideals. But these teachings are not so completely the property of Carmel that they cannot be suitable to other souls as well. Indeed, grace makes us all 'partakers of the divine nature'; we are all 'predestined to be made conformable to the image of His Son'; we have all within us the Holy Spirit, who prays for us 'with unspeakable groanings.' All of us, if we have true charity, may hope that the Holy Trinity 'will make Their abode with us,' and that we will be united to Them.

However, we shall not attain to this union unless we carry out the necessary retrenchments, purifying our faculties, and tending towards God by the practice of the theological virtues and meditative prayer.

The Carmelite doctrine can be proposed as suited to every soul which seeks to unite itself with God. St John of the Cross is the Doctor of Mystical Theology for the universal Church. St Teresa has the title of 'mater spiritualium,' the mother of all things spiritual, 'whose heavenly teaching ought to nourish every soul.'"

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

** This is the last entry from this spiritual gem by Fr Jamart. For those of you who enjoyed the entries, you may use the Lijit search box and type "Jamart" to find all the posts from this book.

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