The Language Of Love: Part 48 Mini-Course On Prayer

Editor’s note:  David Torkington continues his series on prayer with the fourth and final section, “From Meditation to Contemplation”.  Read part 47 here, and begin with part one here.

The Mystic Way Part IV

The great astronomer, physicist and polymath from Pisa, Galileo Galilei, said that the only language with which you can explain and understand the physical  relationships in the  universe is the language of mathematics. However, the greatest human being who ever lived, Jesus Christ from Nazareth, said the only language with which you can explain and understand the spiritual  relationships in that universe is the language of love.

It was God who uttered the first word ever spoken in this language. That word was simply love. It was later called ‘The Word’ by St. John because it was the most important word ever spoken. However, because it was spoken by God it did not just disappear into thin air like human words but took form and was transformed into a person who was the mirror image of God. For this reason, St. John also called ‘The Word’ the ‘Son of God’. It was in and through God’s Son, his Word,  that the greatest and most sublime plan ever dreamed of was to be put into action. This plan was to share with other beings who would be created for that purpose, the height, the depth, the length and breadth of God’s own love that surpasses the understanding, and to experience it with and in him, to all eternity. 

The Crowning Glory

The crowning glory of this plan was that, ‘The Word, in whom all things were created’ was made flesh to dwell among those destined to share in his glory, to be their King and deliverer.  He would be called the saviour  for he would deliver to all who were open to receive it the same life and love that animated him, drawing all into his kingdom of Love.  St. Paul called this divine plan the Mysterion because it was a mystery, a  secret plan that was unknown to all but those who accept the call  to enter into it. Those who enter into  this mystical kingdom, what came to be called Christ’s mystical body, would be gradually prepared to enter into Christ’s own loving contemplation of God. This preparation would involve a prolonged purification. It would be by living, loving and praying  in this  mystical body that they would be able to reach out to God through our Risen and glorified Lord and come to know and experience God’s plan from all eternity.

 

The Holy Trinity 

God’s love was not only personified in the Word, but this love continually flowed to and fro between the two without ever diminishing. As a mark of reverence and respect we call  this  loving The Holy Spirit. It was by the power of The Holy Spirit that The Word in whom all things were created was made flesh, made  man, on the first Christmas day by being conceived within Mary’s womb, for she was made Immaculate for this purpose. Because he had a human as well as a divine nature, the Son of God Jesus Christ, could draw other human beings to him while he was on earth. After his death and glorification however,  he would not only draw people to him, but into him, through the love of The Holy Spirit. This was the same love that united him at all times to the Father  which he sent after his death, as he promised when he was alive (John 7:37-39). This enables us to come to know, experience and enjoy God’s love to the end of time and beyond, for there is no end to the ecstatic bliss of experiencing God’s love to all eternity.  

When Joy is Shared it is Doubled

The journey onwards into ‘love without measure’ will be undertaken in union with all those we have lived with and loved in this life, with whom we will be united to embark upon  the journey of all journeys in the next life. When our joy is shared with another whom we love it is doubled. When it is shared with  many others whom we love it is doubled again and again and many times over. When it is shared with the vast new family whom we meet within the  mystical and glorified body of Christ, then it will be multiplied beyond what human words can ever describe. Further to all this the love that we continue to receive without the distractions and temptations that hindered us on earth enables something that we have so far never imagined. It enables us to continue growing into our true selves as Love possesses us in ever increasing measure. 

When the sun shines on a rose bud it grows and expands until it opens sufficiently to let a shaft of sunlight into its heart. As the sunlight penetrates the bud it gradually expands until it finally opens to reveal its glory, inspiring all who gaze upon its beauty, and intoxicating them with its sublime scent. This is what happens to us in heaven.

Becoming Our True Selves

On earth our true self, originally created in the image and likeness of God, remains nevertheless hidden beneath the sin and selfishness that stunts our growth. It is only when the requisite purification begins that the sun of God’s love is able to begin preparing us to allow him in, to make us what he created us to become from the beginning. In heaven our growth continues, and we continue to become ever more perfect expressions of God’s glory. When this happens simultaneously to all with whom we are traveling, dispelling all the imperfections that kept us apart on earth, then something special happens.  We not only come to share in God’s glory in itself, but in that of all of our fellow travelers too as they are becoming what God has destined them to become,  enhancing the ecstatic bliss to which we have all been destined. This endless, ongoing, ever-expanding bliss planned for us by God from the beginning is the measure of the ‘height and depth, the length and breadth’ of his love for us that surpasses the understanding. 

To Know is One Thing to Love Quite Another

It is only in heaven  that the first of the great commandments is practised to perfection  together with the second commandment, to love one another with the same love with which Christ loves us. This enables the Trinity of love that flowed between the Father and the Son from eternity to overflow in such a way that it can now circulate as the life blood of the mystical body of Christ. In this way the mystical body of Christ becomes the most perfect expression of God’s glory. And further to this, for those who receive it, the enjoyment of this love is the most perfect experience of heavenly bliss for all who abide in Christ’s glorified body. 

Writing what I have just written is one thing, understanding it not just with the mind but with the heart, is quite another. Fortunately for all of us, it cannot be understood effectively with the mind, but only with the heart. This is the beauty of our Catholic Faith, because it is for all; for all who through purification have a pure and humble heart. For such believers, just intuiting a fraction of what I have been trying to say about what God has created us for, is enough to transport us into utterly enthralling raptures.

The Magnetic Power of Love

My attention was drawn to a small plaque in the garden of a little hermitage in Franciscan Italy that demonstrated what I am trying to say. ‘It was here’, it said, ‘that Brother Bernardino was lifted off the ground for almost half an hour, wrapped in the contemplation of God’s glory’. St. Joseph of Cupertino, an unlearned man of such simplicity that he was made the patron saint of those with mental difficulties, regularly  took flight when seized by the experience of glimpsing the glory of God. Love and love alone will enable us to come to know and experience God’s love,  not human academic learning, no matter how profound. Yet, since the love learned in mystical theology has been lost sight of many years ago, so too has the spiritual renewal that is long overdue. Over the last four centuries many intellectual revivals have failed to bring about the renewal  that can only be  brought about through the love generated in personal holiness. Intellectual renewals alone have always failed because true renewal is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is he alone, working through those who choose to receive him in prayer, who can bring about authentic Christian renewal. When his love mixes, mingles and merges with our love, the union with God that we all desire can be brought about. 

‘Jesus loves me this I know ‘cos the Bible tells me so’

When a renowned theologian was asked what he considered necessary for us to come to know and love God as we should,  he answered by quoting a verse from an old evangelical hymn: ‘Jesus loves me this I know, ‘cos the Bible tells me so.’  All we need to know,  believe, and act upon is the simple truth that our Risen Lord loves us here and now, and then to turn to him in daily personal prayer. Then his love, the Holy Spirit, will suffuse our weak human love in such a way that we can be drawn up into Christ’s mystical  body to prepare us for the only loving union that will enable us to glimpse his glory before being drawn ever more fully into it as to our final destiny. But as this is happening he will use us to do something else. As we are being transformed, beginning here on earth, we will be used as spiritual prisms, enabling us  to receive, reflect and refract the light of the Holy Spirit onto others, reflecting on earth something of the love, the goodness  and the  peace that prevails in heaven. 

‘Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth through them your Holy Spirit that the world may be recreated.’

David Torkington is the author of Wisdom from the Western Isles and Wisdom from the Christian Mystics which complement this series.

This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at SpiritualDirection.com.

David Torkington

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David Torkington is a Spiritual Theologian, Author and Speaker, who specializes in Prayer, Christian Spirituality and Mystical Theology. He was educated at the Franciscan Study Centre, England, and the National Catholic Radio and Television Centre, Hatch End, London where he was later appointed to the post of Dean of Studies. He was extra mural lecturer in Mystical Theology at the Dominican University in Rome (The Angelicum). In addition to giving Retreats and lecturing all over Europe, he undertook five prolonged lecture tours to Africa, mainly Equatorial Africa, speaking on Prayer and Spirituality to Religious, Monks, Diocesan Priests and lay people. His personal spirituality is predominantly Franciscan, and his Mystical Theology Carmelite. He has sold over 300,000 books in more than twelve different languages. His latest book is “Wisdom from the Christian Mystics – How to Pray the Christian Way”. And, other publications include “Wisdom from the Western Isles – The Making of a Mystic” and “Wisdom from Franciscan Italy – The Primacy of Love”. He has been commissioned to write three books for The Catholic Truth Society, Publishers to the Holy See. The first, ‘Prayer made Simple’ will be published in March 2018, followed by ‘Meditation Made Simple’ and ‘Contemplation made Simple’. When he is not writing, he and his wife spend time on their boat on the peaceful Beaulieu River in the New Forest, Hampshire, or in Poole Harbour, Dorset, exploring the Jurassic coast. His website is DavidTorkington.com. He blogs at www.DavidTorkington.com, is on Facebook at DavidJohnTorkington and Tweets at DTorkington. His personal conviction is that there is only one way forward for the serious searcher who wishes to be transformed into Christ in this life, and that is, in the words of St Teresa of Avila, “There is only one way to perfection and that is to pray. If anyone points in another direction then they are deceiving you.”

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