Prayer and the Transfiguration of Earth

The product of prayer is fidelity to prayer. Our personal growth is not the main concern, because our growth cannot be the reason to pray. If it were, self-improvement would matter more than faith, but down that road we’ll only fall back on our own resources and despair. We will get caught in the mirrors of self-reflection and lose sight of the real goal, which is to lose ourselves in the outpouring of the Heavenly Father’s love. Hence, all self-improvement must seem to us incidental to an increase in faith. Our concern should not be where we’re at but how faithful we are to listening to God and answering His call. And if we cannot hear, let us do our duty that is clear while opening our ears wide to His silence.

We should desire, not “progress in spiritual life,” but a steadily growing dialogue in which we forget ourselves and any claim as a partner. We should hope to be absorbed into the dialogue itself, such that the created consequences, important as they are, remain secondary to our soul’s deepening link with God. For when our earthly time is up, we will live forever by the link we let Him cultivate in us by our prayer, not by anything we have accomplished or not on earth (Mt 6:20). All will be satisfied in heaven, for He will fill each according to their capacity to receive¹, which indeed brings comfort. But who would not, upon hearing this, wish to let their ‘soul-capaciousness’ expand to the maximal extent, so that when eternity comes we can commune with our Lord and Maker as intimately and completely as possible?

Again and again, we will see that the earthly results of our opening to God are really by-products of a coming flowering in eternity. The life of faith fills up a richness in the bud, but this growth is miraculously hidden from the eyes of the world and that includes from our own eyes. We cannot judge the treasures of trust by created realities when the fruit of trust is an immortal bloom. Where trust flows back upon the earth to enrich it, we can be sure that what we are witnessing is the earth moving heavenward, absorbed in the will of God and becoming a praise of His glory.

Paradoxically, then, the best way to care for the earth and our earthly selves is to trust in the realities of the Unseen. The Kingdom comes to the degree that the link of charity between heaven and earth is welcomed down. Creation is perfected as it is ‘blacked out’ and all its own lights extinguished, so that the Light of the Lamb is the sole suffusing light², giving it the one brightness which, in consuming it, perfects its life in His image. This is the Cross understood as symbol and source of Creation: right where Christ’s earthly life is ‘blacked out’ and enters the darkness of abandonment by God, He shows us the absolute power of faith as what opens Creation in death to the absolute power of love. Only that love can “finish” (Jn 19:30) the work of Creation. In exploding open the tomb and all created loss, He reveals the Risen Lord as the secret telos of all growth and loss: a new heaven and a new earth, the restoration of things so God is all in all, the resurrection to eternal life.

Perfect prayer is thus a crucifixion with Christ. It imitates the ‘black out’ of His surrender into the Father’s hands, when He entrusts everything fallen and dying to God’s power to raise it. Because of Jesus, then, we know for certain that the most fecund place to be in all of creation is on the martyr’s cross, our blood mingled with His. There all earthly-minded concerns are sacrificed defenselessly so that the very earth–from the pit of its inertia and decay, its rejection and rebellion against God–can be opened to the blinding light of heaven, which will save, perfect, and complete it in the most effective, because holy, way.

In imitation of Christ commending His Spirit to the Father on the Cross, we are called to restore, through faith, the fate of Creation back into the hands of the Creator. The most excellent and direct way of doing this is to put, through unceasing prayer, our personal fate into His hands–indeed so much so that we behold ourselves as it were in darkness; as of no account (Is 53:3); as playthings of the Divine whose only animation comes by His manipulation; as creatures “buried in the abyss of [their own] nothingness”³ and so fully available to His eternal-animation of us; as beings through whom He beholds His own glory and lives His own life through our free dedication to His love. Do we not then disappear entirely into the will of His holiness?

It is precisely for this that we prepare in our prayer. We mortify in us whatever stands in the way of our being crucified with Christ (Gal 5:24). We grow in confidence in the goodness and power of the God who raised Him from the dead. We consent to no longer know our course and fate (1 Cor 2:2), save to know we are safely held in God and, if we only assent, included in His saving work on earth. That earth is guided by us well to the extent we are guided by heaven. For heaven is the communion of love in trust, and that is what saves and embraces all. Like Abraham, it is in courting a darkness of knowledge and risking immolating the very reality and symbol of created happiness, Isaac, that faith traverses the abyss it is impossible to traverse without God and so fulfills its purpose, for it is right at that moment that God speaks and the Spirit renews the face of the earth.

This is what Paul means in saying that we no longer reckon according to the flesh (2 Cor 5:16). Unceasing prayer is the laboratory and practice ground for this total renovation of our vision. It is to think of what is above, not of earth (Col 3:2), so that what is earthly can be safeguarded by heaven’s intention, which consumes it in light and means: transfiguration.

April 17-18, 2023
Timothy Lavenz

¹ St John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt Carmel.
² St Elizabeth of the Trinity, Last Retreat.
³ St Margaret Mary Alacoque, Autobiography.

On the Absolute Necessity of God’s Aide

The absolute necessity of God’s aide is the last idea to come to us (Dom Guillerand), but how obvious it is! Any movement not inspired by the Holy Spirit is a movement of nothingness decapitated from the Head. And most of our planning, projection, evaluation, whatever trundles through our head, is decapitated nothingness! a useless noise and waste when compared to, once we know, God’s gift of self. For in Giving Himself God gives all Providence and even the Future of Heaven with Him: and He gives the path to it, our path.

We must become so aware of the necessity of His aide that, in total poverty of spirit, we receive everything from Him and deny every movement that would come from us and our ‘thinking it through’. Ignoring all that mental hubbub, we must trust that He alone is the Answer and that to wait on Him in the silence of prayer is the best movement we can make: opening ourselves to let His light flood the light of our mind, so we are guided by the soul infused with God and not by what we ‘think’.

Thought is a useless appendage, a dead weight, a web of defeatism, a shackle to past habits and views. It must be daily cleansed, constantly renewed by a prayer that is cognizant of thought’s false allure and steadfastly faithful to the draw of God, Who can override and overfill us such that thought loses its interpretive grip. For thought always superimposes a dead world and makes it tempting, tempts us with the illusion it is solid, accurate, real, when it is decrepit. It is the thought-world and its many deceptions that must be laid to rest through contemplative surrender at the altar of unknowing trust in God and His Providence.

Then we will learn to see with God-infused eyes the God-given world as it is really is: as held in the freshness of His love. Then we can respond to His actual intention for it and for us. Then is our movement restored from the nothingness of our head to the plenitude of the Head, Christ. Then we can recover our destiny in God as a member of His Body, alive with the aide He wants to give us, which is His life. For God’s Being and His giving It and His desire to give It, are all the same in Him: His Life is forever the Life of Love. So let us learn to accept Him, Newness Itself, at all times: He our absolute Guide and Friend– our Savior.

April 13, 2023
*This reflection inspired by Dom Augustin Guillerand’s The Prayer of the Presence of God.

From Source to Source: On Missionary Work

This piece arose out of a very important conversation I had with Colin Miller about the Source of All Hope mission in Baltimore, MD. The ideas flow entirely from his vision for the mission (he is its founder). I can only hope to have approximated what it means, in my own words. It is a shared reflection on how to minister to those outside the Church in the power of the Eucharist.



The crucial question for the missionary Christian is how to make Christ present to the other. This presence is an existential reality, something felt in the heart and soul first of all. Therefore, evangelization is not first about getting others to adopt this or that proposition or belief (e.g. “become a Christian”) but rather to give them an experience of God’s love in Christ. The evangelist can trust that, once someone experiences God’s love, they will be well on their way to belief in God and Christ.

For the Catholic Christian, the highest intensity of Christ’s presence in the world is the Eucharist. We are beyond blessed to partake in this mystery. But the missionary must ask: How does God’s love pass from the Eucharist, through us, to the other? (And especially to the poor, who may not know Christ at all.)

It would appear that we are dealing with three modes of Christ’s presence in the world: Eucharist, communicant, and non-Catholic other. According to the universal commission given to the Apostles–spread the Gospel to all peoples of the world–our evangelical hope is for these three modes of Christ’s presence to merge in communion. Our aspiration should be for the christification of the world: for everyone to be where Christ is, for everyone to be “eucharistically transformed,” so that God is “all in all.”

First, there is the “intensive” presence of God in Christ in the Eucharist: that is where he truly dwells. But it is not enough for him to sit on our altars: what we need is for him to dwell in us, so that we are his house on earth–just as Paul says, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). By partaking in the Eucharistic meal with earnest devotion and sincere inner participation, we are assimilated (bit by bit) into God’s “extensive” mode of presence in the world. This is just another way of saying that God extends himself into the world through us, who are members of Christ’s mystical Body. (Clearly, Christ needs us to be good, faithful disciples who are able to act with him at the head; otherwise, his Body is less than it could be and delayed in its work.)

From our encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, we move on to our encounter with Christ in the poor, the downtrodden, the other no-matter-who. Our hope is to transmit the love of the Source to others. We are Christ’s quasi-mediators in the world– “quasi-” because, ultimately, it is God acting through us when we reach others with Christ. The more we adore and abide in communion with him, the “better” we get at allowing God to act (this is sanctification). We grow more and more into accordance with God’s good will. And by relinquishing whatever we are outside of Christ (which is nothing), Christ comes into us that much more abundantly. He raises up our creaturely nothingness into his Spirit, grants us a share in his salvific plan. That is where he fills us with true living water, which will become in us “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn 4:14).

In the missionary encounter, God’s presence and love is somehow (we don’t exactly know how!) transmitted from the Source and Summit of the faith to others; and we are somehow the relay-point, the deliverer of the message, the vessel or extension of that presence and love. Our formation is so important because the more we are entrusted to God and in consent to his will, the more we are emptied and free of whatever gets in the way of the transmission. The better the formation, the more Christ can work through us to reach the world.

However, there is a third, “elusive” mode of Christ’s presence in the world, the one most easily overlooked, yet perhaps the most important for the Source-work.

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Note on the “Non-being” of Evil

We are accustomed to viewing good and evil as two competing forces. This view is predictably enshrined in super-hero movies. Not only are there good guys and bad guys, but the bad guys pretend to have good motives, while the good guys try to keep their bad motives in check. Such is the way things are “realistically” portrayed in culture. However, this idea of a competition is false, an illusion, because good and evil do not actually exist on an equal playing field. Indeed, they are as polarized in their tendency as being and non-being.

There’s two ways to tackle the problem: 1) freedom versus necessity, and 2) the desire to be.

The reason we are faced with good versus evil is because we are born into a confusion about our freedom, namely, what is it for? We have to make choices about how to use our freedom, and to do so we have to orient it toward some kind of necessity, a goal, etc. But there is a vicious circle here, because we are also free to choose what is necessary (or so it seems). And so we live under the possibility of choosing wrongly. We fall under the sway of doing and living for things that are no good for us, primarily because we are confused and do not see clearly what is good for us. (Once habit and self-deception step in, this pattern can be a real monster to correct.)

At the same time, behind our choice of what is necessary, lies our desire to be. Even the worst choice imaginable, suicide, seeks a state of being that is better than the previous state, even if the new state is imagined as an escape from being altogether. Continue reading

Static and Dynamic Mysticism

Mysticism comes in two basic types, static and dynamic. Static mysticism aims at a restoration of the static state: a realization of the Changeless. Dynamic mysticism aims at something more like the transformation or amorization of the changeable qua Changeless.

Both presuppose very different cosmologies. Static mysticism sees change as simply change. It is not really going anywhere. The Absolute is immobile, so the goal is to stabilize one’s consciousness in the immobile. Movement is finite and relative; it has nothing to do with the infinite and ultimate, save as a veil to be pierced. In this cosmology, the changeable is usually treated as an illusion, a dream, a conventional reality with no substance in itself. You find here the trope of escape, fleeing the world, essential detachment, and so on. The static mystic discovers the Supreme; why bother with the rest?

Dynamic mysticism, by contrast, sees the evolving cosmos as a substantial reality in itself—one with a clear trajectory of increasing union and communion with its Maker. It is not the shadow of anything else, but a genuine creation. Certainly, it is not the Absolute. Yet everything about it seems pointed toward contacting and realizing something of the Absolute. The dynamic mystic sees and senses that multiplicity is striving for a unity that will not cancel multiplicity and movement but “sanctify them in truth” (Jn 17:17), meaning place them in to active relation with the Source, so they may be informed and intensified by it, may draw ever vaster collections of elements into the one element of creative self-giving divine love—which suffuses itself into creation wherever creation loves.

Freud, responding to his friend Roman Rolland, theorized that the “oceanic consciousness” reported by mystics was driven by a desire to return to the inorganic. The inorganic state is, presumably, free of psychic tension, pain, craving, loss, and so on. It’s not a bad observation, but it can only account for static mysticism. Indeed, there are things about it which certainly give credence to that interpretation—that it means acquiescing to entropy, to inevitable death and non-selfness, to the cancelling of change in the immobile silence of uniform matter.

The dynamic mystic objects to this picture. Life is an authentic, not an incidental, advancement in the cosmos. So too is the Mind. Entropy is not the only, let alone the strongest, factor in the evolving universe. Fragile as they appear, there exists a steady complexification of structure and elevation to higher manifestations of conscious life. These evolutions are also *irreversible*. They reveal a universal line of development, namely, centration into higher more integral types, which better exemplify and radiate the Supermind or mind of Christ.

Here there is more than the desire to return to the inorganic or merge in the tranquility of the immobile. There is also the—much stronger—desire to create concentrated centers of energy and consciousness, which are moving toward the Mover, which *know* there is a Master with a master plan in all this. The desire is to be in the flow of a work of world-creation that would be, identically, the flow in/of the very being of God. The mystic masters himself and his potentialities for this sole purpose: to offer them up in consecration to this one task of God-manifestation on earth.

Call it an incarnate metaphysics: the divine principle is making itself flesh, it is dwelling in our midst, it is drawing everything to itself to reconcile everything in itself. It is pushing for an ever-grander and more beautiful synthesis between finite and infinite that does not leave the finite behind but transfigures it into a reality of divine life.

Dynamic mysticism means maximal participation in this “incarnation”—in the ongoing evolution and sanctification of the universe, which is not just petering out in dead matter but is advancing negentropically everywhere through the manifestation of persons.

That is why the dynamic mystic is not content with a cancellation of self, an annihilation of individuality, a disidentification with life leading to withdrawal, rejection, or repose, nor with a dismissal of the created universe as a secondary or illusory phenomenon compared to the Absolute. The cosmos is far too alive and animated to accept that, even on its own terms. It is spiritualized down to the least parcel of matter, which even the static mystic tacitly trusts. But the dynamic mystic has this further insight: everything, even unconscious matter, is striving to please and realize God. Evolution—organizing complex structures, blooming into life and mind, becoming conscious, learning to pray—is magnetized from the get-go by the Absolute, and it is *through* our work with it that we come closest to the Absolute: when evolution, entering its mystical phase, falls in love with everyone and everything: and the cosmos is amortized a communion of beings in love.

For the Absolute, who is love, wishes to be by us, within us, around us, divine. The mystic stretches out for that closeness and finds it wherever he surrenders to it, saving nothing back for himself but diving, soul-first, into its passionate movement—the cosmos become “the passion of Christ.”

by Timothy Lavenz
Dec 6, 2022

Note on God’s Light in the Mind

The Divine Light is already active and functional at the level of your own mind. It is simply that you crave otherwise and hold preferences that prevent its full unfolding. You grasp at what cannot be held still, so you miss its inherent stillness. You struggle to make it clear, so you obscure its natural clarity. What is constantly changing, you try to fix down and identify, and so you miss the stable reality underpinning it all. Because you think you are at the helm, the controller, the intervener, the driver, the agent, the source of light, you limit its reach, hamper its action, dull its brilliance… when really you are but a grace-offshoot of the Primary Light, into which at any time you may remeld, if you but assent and love it, cling to its movements and its Word. For you are Its gift to you of apprehension, insight, reflection, appreciation. You are Its appendage of consciousness and help, destined to It. You participate in Its freedom, you draw from Its energy, your attention is a spark of Its omniscience. Enlightenment is the state already: so give in to it, surrender, already you are dead in the Light and rising to new life in Its rays. Your spark is not-other than the flame—and suddenly everything is warm with its heat, so adorable the whole world crackles with delight, centering more and more on its perfect axis, imperceptibly. Then what is happening is no longer what you think, but what the Divine Mind really is, in its calm, spacious infinity, which it gives…

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Hell is…

Hell is whenever one acts from self for self without reference to another/Another.

Hell is a zone stripped of motivation for goodness.

Hell is the noise preventing us from hearing God.

Hell is any moment lacking the sense of God’s presence or at least the aspiration for that presence. Hell is made by acts which lack connection to the meaning of the whole and thus forsake destiny.

Hell is anything we’re consciously held back by yet keep doing, knowing it will only worsen things. We find comfort in inertia or destruction: Hell is how we abdicate responsibility and excuse our misbehavior.

Hell is thoughts we don’t want yet keep thinking for lack of true orientation and remembrance of God.

Hell is believing I’m in possession of myself and can use myself however I want as long as I’m satisfied.

Hell is lost in a dark forest, having lost the scent of God, yet remembering one just had it. It is not knowing where to turn, how to pick back up the scent… then gradually forgetting how or why one got to where one is: Hell is the loss of reality sneaking up on you until you’re just going forward, forgetting even that reality is lost.

Hell is hopelessness, lack of prospects, broken why’s, drooping confidence in the value of one’s life.

Hell is when you can’t bring yourself to do what you need to do to get back in line spiritually with the good graces of God.

Hell is instability in our faith in Christ.

Hell is worry about hypotheticals and doubting one’s ability to bring joy, courage, and kindness to difficult moments.

Hell is the soul-pendulum swinging into God’s absence and not trusting it will swing back.

Hell is an uninvested talent, worse: it is never letting yourself know you have that talent, worst: it is knowing your talent but not doing everything you can for it to bear fruit, worst of all: it is spoiling your own fruitfulness through cowardice, faithlessness, and fear.

Hell is a wasted life. But every life outside (and to the extent outside) Christ is wasted, for He is Life. Without Him it would all be a waste, for He is the only principle of fruitfulness. Hell is the labor of fruitlessness: it is anti-existence itself.

The Quiet Love for God

The more we allow the quiet love for God to enter our daily lives, the more we will understand how accessible He is. For He is never absent. Every space is filled to overflowing with His presence, if we have practiced opening ourselves to receive Him. In time we can become so capacious and willing as to not recoil from or close off any of His generous advances. He suffuses every pore, resides in every center, in every interstice. He transpermeates all things with His transpermanence. He is the glory of every station at every step. He is the insurmountably “poor” reality of things, and oh how grand it is to know Him best found there, in the poorest. When this we know, all other knowledge and its mental edifice fizzle out. For here in our poverty we know there is nowhere else, when once we’ve learned to find Him in all the humble, unassuming, simple places. To reach this point we must simply affirm we love Him, over and over, giving Him the reigns and taking off the pressure. For in His eyes there can be no greater accomplishment than to know and love Him, prayerfully and gratefully, in all times and places: for He wants to be so near to us that we cannot even conceive He could be gone.

5 Practical Tips for Resolving Doubt

My recommendation to those struggling with doubt (see video above):

1) Put less stress on apologetics, debates, arguments, anything theological that feels too abstract for you, that makes you “go mental”, that sends you through some labyrinth of proper names, that locks your consciousness at the level of concept or language or history.

2) Instead get to know the saints and holy people—Jesus above all! Take them as your models and exemplars. Absorb their personal witness into your soul. Learn their stories, glean lessons from their lives, read their diaries and letters and spiritual works. Admire what they aspire to, think about the goal they set for humanity. Pay attention to what they taught in terms of virtue, asceticism, personal reform, purifying of desire, etc. Get a feel especially for how they contemplate, how they find and rest in God: how they love. Incorporate some aspect of that love into yours. Then:

3) Patiently put their advice into practice, letting your models’ composite greatness be your goal, better yet, the source of your imagination. Conduct life at the heart-level, from your inner soul. Follow what activates your devotion as much as if not more than the mind. Clean your person in the mirror of these other honorable persons. Do not stress or worry, but trust it’s all in God’s hands. Above all, let your intuition be educated by the holy ones, by contact with the Holy One. And let yourself be changed.

4) Don’t underestimate yourself. Think of yourself as a saint in training, ready to undergo any trial, any aridity, any darkness for his love.

What I mean is this: Avoid controversies, quarrels, analysis, general or secondary issues, and instead seek to have first-hand experiences of putting on the mind of Christ and renouncing self. Let the deepening inner experience and time spent in attention to God shape your outer life and habits more and more, so that subjective and objective grow in unison. Remember that the prerequisite for spiritual knowledge is moral transformation. This is one core aspect of faith: to prepare your vessel to receive God while he is yet hidden from you.

By learning from divine, holy, sage, wise, and God-realized people—their number is so many!—, we are inspired to emulate their commitment and sacrifice and gain a stable experience of the presence of God. Once we have a taste of that, the soul is coming awake and we can live from the memory of that taste in full trust. Then we need no longer guess. God is no longer a matter of arguments, but palpable guidance whenever we call on him. Once we have the encounter, the effect is irreversible, even if ups and downs come. Work on attuning your inner compass to heed every hint of the Spirit. Obey when it’s time to say Yes and when it’s time to say No. The more we respond, the clearer our response becomes to us. The more we let ourselves rest in his presence, the more we will know that his presence goes with us everywhere.

Here is the trick: you will never think your way to faith. Focus on matters of the heart, inner devotion, prayer, repentance, service, love and striving to be without sin. Try to recollect God in every instant, aspiring to make real contact. “Knock and the door shall be opened.” All we have to do is learn how to knock and keep knocking. Keep it personal. Imagine how much God loves you. Close your eyes, quiet your mind, turn off your desires, wait on him. I guarantee the doubt will clear. We need only make ourselves available, make an empty space for him. He desires nothing more than to fill us with himself. Always remember that, and it will happen.

Of course, this approach to having “doubts” will not answer every question at the intellectual-reflective-propositional level of “beliefs,” but love and trust in God will take care of that. Love will elevate us into an intimate knowledge that is profoundly anti-fragile, that is not about right or wrong and its anxieties. Once we know him, we can take refuge in the wisdom of the Church and focus on “abiding in God.” That’s what all our beliefs are supposed to serve anyway! He will never disappoint us. From that basis I think we will solve our theological and ecclesiastical quandaries to satisfaction, such that they do not trip us up anymore, but increase our surrender to the mystery of his love.

5) Go to daily Mass.

Why Hope Never Ends

Prolonged exposure to the vision-worlds of humanity’s great saints, mystics, and theologians—they go in various cultures by so many names—leaves one feeling strangely squished. What can I possibly have to add to this wealth? Here I am witness to heroic levels of sacrifice, of dedication to understanding Divinity without bounds; feats of asceticism and interpretation and teaching which startle the imagination; zealous acts of mercy and love which hardly seem possible for humans. And then witness the diverse array of these persons, how they spoke holy words in every dialect on earth, arose from every background in every land. And yet how, in broad outline, they agree! And how, in the final analysis, they are fated to converge in a practical synthesis for the future of the human spirit. For each of these efforts was animated by a similar astonishment, by love for a similar ultimate. The panoply of greatness indeed astounds the mind and what is even more astounding, for the believing person, is to realize that “God” has made all this possible—all this mind-blowing and heart-opening access to the timeless truth and reality of love.

But the sober appraiser of humanity may quickly come to another, starker analysis. How can it be that these individuals have discovered so much, while we as a human community have put their discoveries into practice so little? As a whole, we have all but neglected our sage advisors, preferring to deem their quests for the rare few, for the eccentric and wan. But for the researcher in religion—I do not mean the scholar, but one who seeks salvation—the hypothesis of rarity cannot hold up, for the claims made by all the saints have a universal bearing, they pertain to every created spirit without exception. Here, we cannot help but notice: the advice to the seeker is always the same. It is the same advice since the dawn of wisdom, whether its guise is Platonic, Vedantic, Buddhist, Islamic, Christian, or otherwise. I hold aside the competition between idioms and ideologies for now, and focus on what might be called the “heart message” of them all. On this matter, they are all agreed or at the very least convergent:

“God” or “Truth” is realized through love; through withdrawal from our outwardly-tugged passions; through a quieting and disciplining of our mind to turn inward; through a cleansing of selfish habit and destructive tendency; through a meditation on death and the nothingness of our existence; through an “indifferent” practice of self-giving and unspoken sacrifice; through empathy with suffering and the rejection of violence; through a true apprehension of Being as such and as a whole and its beauty; through total self-surrender to the Absolute Mystery which is our hope and our home, our one “entitlement” and our future.

Yes, the heart message bears repeating, and with great rejoicing I will repeat it! This message will never be dulled, it will never go quiet, it will never be stifled, for “we can do nothing against the truth, only for it” (2 Cor 13:8).

And yet the stark analysis persists: humanity, as a whole, has yet to hear this plea of the pure in heart, the God-seers (Mt 5:8). Turn by turn we have chosen to complicate everything, in service to our own small demands. Our species is a sucker for wars of ideology and superstition, battles of membership and exclusion. We are easily triggered by divergences in ways of speaking and conceptualizing the world. We are even more easily diverted from what is humble and primary for the sake of some glossy secondary concern, which we choose because it seems easier and puts us less at stake, thus asking from us less of a change.

Meanwhile, what actually is primary continues to stare us in the face, an immovable archive of Evidence of Religion–evidence of what we could be. For although, on the one hand, we know we’re still babies in britches, at the same time we cannot survey all these spiritual riches and think there is anything essential yet to discover. No, we have everything we need. God has opened his mouth in every language, to every people. We have tools and methods and testimonies literally coming out of our ears! He has shaped his glory exactly to the nature of each vessel in each time and place, so they could receive him fully as they could within their bounds. This he has done enough to prove: he will do it for anyone who is “poor in spirit” enough to consent. For we too are one of those vessels he has created for himself; and as the positivistic world of technocratic conformism daily spreads its homogenizing pall over our bored overstimulated bodies, God sees fit to open the floodgates of spiritual knowledge for us all. It only takes our choice, our resolve in seeking the ultimate, for the gates of heaven to be opened and our souls to be washed clean and elevated by the most magnificent light.

What should we do with this opportunity? What shall we say? The world is less religious than ever, but the transcendence of the human spirit will never go away or relinquish its demands, for it is the very foundation of all knowledge and freedom. We seek a fulfillment of that transcendence, for we know it must have some term, some brilliant peg to fit the empty shape within us. And there is. We have been told its many names: Bodhicitta, Brahman, Peace of Christ. The Almighty is clarity and perfection, source and end of our being, goal of every free act, terminus of all knowledge. We need only turn in silence to our own heart and bring ourselves to a halt in that silent space. Then we will find all the proof we need of the eternal power dwelling there and giving us, continually, a participation in itself. That participation, that gift, is our very self. It is who we are beyond all temporal loss. It is the moving idea of us in God, who has predestined us to share his glory. There is life, joy abundant, our link to the Most High. There is the realization of the Perfect.

And so my tongue cannot despair, no matter how much we squander and miss our chances. I cannot sorrow in humanity’s neglect any longer, for God is there. He has proved himself with the force of ten-thousand angels, and though I am but an average sinner, bumbling along like all the rest, I understand now: the only crucial factor in all this is trust in Him. Trust in the essence of yourself–beneath ego and behind attachments, where your soul is one with Him because so in love with Him–and there you will find the grace of adoration to bridge over every garbled gap. There you will know the courage of the holy ones–it is simply the will to let go of whatever is not him, whatever comes before him, whatever stands in his way. “Make straight in the desert a highway for our God!” (Is 40:3).

So we have not yet acted on our discoveries! So we have not yet made the discovery of God for ourselves! So we are daily bungling our chance at liberation, forfeiting the offer of holiness which is constantly extended!… Yes, from a certain vantage, this is the most horrible waste imaginable—we could be like angels; but from another, it all seems in keeping with the uniqueness of each soul and the mystery of the dispensation in time of God’s openings. For he has his rhythm of concealments and disclosures, his balance of taciturnity and explosion. The reason of revelations we can only comprehend from the end, after having traveled the path faithfully to culmination, while today we are always in media res, combating the hells and demons that would drag us to the pit, and there are many. For no matter how grand the spiritual catalogue may be—and would you believe that every day it becomes grander?—it is set in the logic of things that each will have its trial to undergo, its ignorance to dispel, its low behavior to correct, its atonement to profess, its repentance to weep, its courage to muster, its self-reformation to engage, above all, its heart’s prayer to pursue through every darkness, every aridity, every jail.

No one can substitute for us in the spiritual equation, for God has made us irreplaceable in his eyes. He will never let us go. He wants us wholly, and so there are no shortcuts, and no one can make our quest for us. He will hound us until we understand this unconditional love he has for us, his impossible mercy suffering all our sin and failure, his overwhelming embrace of all we are. For he has deigned—we will never fathom this miracle—to include us in his creation. He wishes us to share in the power of his own creative act and in its glories. This points toward and culminates in what those stacks of books only dimly intimate, yet also infallibly obscurely recommend: the establishment of a mature and lasting intercommunication of spiritual persons, who are redeemed from every lie and falsehood and set free to resonate together in rapture and tranquillity at the sight of God’s insuperable divine majesty, and to do so for all eternity. They—we!—will keep moving toward this culmination through every step of our increasing dependency on him; through testimony, intercession, and worship of His Sacred Heart, which has poured itself out so we would wake up to this our destiny, which we find only in Him who exceeds all, yet is everything.

Why, then, does my hope never end? Because I have listened and heard, and behold, I, who by his grace see God, am no different from you. The invitation lies open and ready–let us take it on and take it in…

by Timothy Lavenz
Oct 22/Nov 10, 2022