left Quote

(1300 – 1361)

"Be of one mind" (1 Pet. 3:8).  When St Peter says that we must be single-minded, he means that our whole intention must cleave to God and to God alone, that in the moment of prayer we must bring our whole intention and the depths of our soul face to face with Him, and depend on Him utterly and lovingly. Dear children, everything that we have, we have from Him; how can we do less than offer back to Him all that we have received from Him, with all our mind and heart turned toward Him, undivided and single-minded? Then we must gather together all our strength of mind and spirit and direct it all up toward God. This is the proper manner of true prayer.

True prayer is not a lot of babbling with the lips, so many psalms and so many vigils, clattering your beads and letting your hearts wander up and down. Believe me, if you find that reciting prayers or performing acts of devotion hinders you in the spirit of prayer, you should not hesitate to give them up, however efficacious they are supposed to be, however holy they seem. This does not apply to your Office, of course….

At present they are building the Cathedral,* and all kinds of work is going on, with more than a hundred workmen labouring or helping in some way. Some carry stones, others bring the mortar. There is activity of every sort; but it is all directed to one and the same end, to build the Cathedral and finish it. All these people are working to build a house of prayer; all this has been organised for the sake of prayer. Prayer is the purpose of all the work that all these craftsmen and labourers are doing. So, when true inward prayer of the spirit is achieved, all the work that has helped toward its achievement has been well done and has fulfilled its purpose….

Now, God has made His creatures all truly like Him: the sky, the sun, the stars, and, above all else, angels and men, each one resembling God in its own way. Nowhere on earth is there a flower or a leaf or a blade of grass on which the great sky, the stars, the sun and moon do not work; and, above all, God Himself acts upon all of them. So when it comes to human beings, those noble creatures made in God's likeness, ought they not to act as their Creator does? Since they are endowed with faculties in God's image, ought they not to be like God in their being…?  Human beings can both act and contemplate, with all the heir faculties, the lowest and the highest.  So when one [turns to God]… the active life becomes God-like.

Our Lord Jesus Christ… though in His lower faculties there was activity, sorrow, joy and suffering, his joy in God's presence did not hinder His earthly activity. Those who most resemble Christ on earth, in making God their only object and in living a life in which activity and joyful contemplation of God form one single whole; these are the ones who will most resemble Christ in eternity, when their whole being will consist entirely in the joyful contemplation of God.


*  Cologne cathedral, begun in 1248 and completed in 1880.


right quotation

In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.