Sanctity made simple…really!
Ven. Mother Mary Magdalena CP friend of SOG John Arintero
I understood that sanctity is nothing other than the union of our soul with God and that this union is verified in an instant and in a manner so simple that at the same time that the soul recognizes the grandeur to which it has been elevated and that there is nothing else to desire, it seems to ask itself that all there is to sanctity? It had thought it necessary to do much in order to reach sanctity, and on seeing how simple it is, the soul is amazed and at the same time, convinced that it is truly so. Once the obstacles are removed, the soul doesn’t have to do anything else, the Lord does all the rest. The simple manner in which all this happens seems incredible, but it is so. That is what assures the soul most of all that it is God who works, for only his infinite wisdom can work in this manner, making greatness simple and putting it within reach of our weak intellect, which often does not find God because it seeks Him in greatness or in that which appears so, without understanding that God Himself is Greatness.
Once our own will has been set aside (or that which is exclusively our own, which is sin) without doing anything more or adding anything what is left is God and we in Him—hence the simplicity of it all. Understood in this way, there is nothing fantastic, imaginary or illusory in sanctity, all is real, certain and secure. Our only effort consists in ridding ourselves of the obstacles and this is done by trying to perfect ourselves in performing the duties proper to us, and they are for the most part so ordinary and small that one scarcely adverts to them. But God is so mindful of them that He is satisfied simply by our care and diligence, which even considered in a material sense are to our advantage.
(Ven. Mother Mary Magdalene C.P. to Servant of God Fr. John Arintero, O.P. Mother Mary Magdalene contributed spiritual wisdom under the pseudonym J. Pastor to the magazine La Vida Sobrenatural in the early 20th century. For more information on her, click here. )
Sometimes healing and relationship seem forever out of our reach. Whether short term or lifelong, if I can’t develop a meaningful relationship with another person—my neighbor, my coworker, my family member—how could I possibly develop one with a ginormous God?
It is our nature to make mountains out of molehills. People grow in relationship with one another in simple ways, just being in each other’s presence. Bumping into one another in the kitchen, sitting in silence reading on the couch. You can sit in a dark room, eyes closed, and have a family member enter the room…and you know who it is because you know their presence so intimately. This is what God desires of us, and it begins by being aware of His presence in the ‘ordinary and small’ parts of our day.
But to be aware of Him, we have to quit thinking so much about ourselves. It is surprising to find how much of that is happening until you try to stop and think of Him! Our thoughts run the gamut of the intellect (what “I think I know…” ) to the will (cravings, temptations), to the imagination (flights of fancy, fantasy). No surprise the saints including St. Ignatius of Loyola teach us indifference to these preferences so we can order our thoughts towards God.
But it isn’t that easy. In the Manual for Interior Souls, Fr. Pere Grou describes the experience of agony when trying to discipline the will to order the life towards God:
“The third cross is the violent separation of the soul from herself; that is to say, the separation of the higher and spiritual part of the soul from that which is low and animal. This separation is very painful, because the body is incessantly trying to draw the soul down to its own level.”
Nearness to us was a desire in God’s heart before He every created ours. His desire pours into us. In that way, our hunger for Him is simply a mirror of His own desire to be very close with us. Embracing this, then, begins with asking for His help. Expressing desires is an important first step in prayer. God desires us to desire Him and will give us as much as we ask for, if only we would ask.
Where and when we pray also is important. Servant of God John Hardon writes about the Eucharist and Mary:
“All the great Eucharistic saints of history testify to the power available to us to become holy. The secret is to know where to obtain this power. Where is that? In the Blessed Sacrament. Let me quote a short paragraph from Saint Peter Julian Eymard.
Do not go looking for Our Lord in heaven. He is much nearer to you. It is a good thing no doubt, to yearn towards His throne from time to time and to desire His glory. But in ordinary practice of life, it is necessary that it is in the Blessed Sacrament that you should look for and find Him. (The Eucharist and Christian Perfection, 1, pp. 92-93)
This is the language of those who have learned from experience how important or better, indispensable is prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to obtain the graces we so desperately need to avoid sin and grow in holiness.”
And to have Jesus’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, we need priests. Continue to pray for our worldwide Church, Pope Francis, and all clergy and religious. Also do not underestimate the impact of your kind words of encouragement to young people.
Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift; Send down upon our Bishops, and other Clergy, and upon the Congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessings. Grant this, O Lord, for the honour of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊