Amor meus et Amor meus

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29).

The desire to feel God, to experience the consolations and sensible sweetness of his presence, is shared by even the most advanced souls in the spiritual life. Alas, the mysterious and real Divine Presence in the souls of the just and the blessed, is inaccessible to the senses. God is a spirit infinitely perfect; thus, souls that approach God in prayer must do so “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:24).

Thomas, the intimate friend and apostle of Our Lord, likewise desired to feel God, to delight once more in the radiance of his presence, even if it entailed the sacred wounds of his Passion. Certainly, he lacked faith; but how much more did he desire to see, to know, to feel that Christ had, indeed, risen from the dead? “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:24-26). In those arid periods of trial and tribulation, when our prayer is onerous, when our faith is found wanting, we might also say, Unless I feel the intoxicating joys of your Divine Presence in my soul, and feel the warmth of your embrace, I will not believe!

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29).

As we know, the Risen Christ admonishes Thomas for his lack of faith, praising those who, having not seen, nonetheless believe in the Resurrection. In the spiritual life, it is no different. Our Lord commends those souls who seek him by pure faith, who, having neither seen nor felt his abiding presence, continue to profess and adore the God who lives within. The Scriptures attest: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb 11:6). It is not without difficulty, however, that such souls pursue God by pure faith. The soul must first learn to distrust the tumultuous and often errant deluge of feelings, in order to advance safely along the way of perfection. Certainly, the desire to feel the presence of God may never diminish, but we must remember that faith does not amount to feelings: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). For those of us pursuing holiness, faith is the essential act, the surest means to attain divine union.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29).

When we learn to distrust feelings, we can then, in the words of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, “see Him living in [our] souls” (Last Retreat, Seventh Day). This “prisoner of love” desires that we visit the interior cell of the heart, in order to be with him and commune with him. The whole practical teaching of the Divine Indwelling amounts to this exchange of love with love, a conversation in Love, to Love, and about Love. The great act of faith expected from us, the means of rendering love for love to our God, is to “know and believe the love that God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16). When the soul believes in this unfathomable love, it no longer desires to feel the presence of God; in fact, it cares little whether it feels God or not, since it believes in the one thing that matters above all the rest: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16).

When the Risen Christ appeared to Thomas, he then believed in the love that God has for us. His exclamation, “my Lord and my God,” expressed the fulfilled desire of his heart to see, to know, and to feel God. He might as well have said, My Love and my Love! Let us, who also desire to feel God—as did Thomas—remember to heed the words of Christ:

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29).

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Dominicana and is reprinted here with kind permission.

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Br. Maximilian Maria Jaskowak entered the Order of Preachers in 2016. He received an M.A. in Theology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, while working as a teacher and youth minister in the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania.

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