By Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
Perhaps the greatest temptation we are faced with in the spiritual life is to pursue the things of God rather than God himself. After all, it is the things of God that often fill our senses with delight and consolation, whereas God himself always transcends our senses and their experience. This is why all the great spiritual masters remind us that we must welcome consolation, moments where we can “feel” God’s presence and times of great enthusiasm in our spiritual life. However, we cannot stop there nor can we rely on them to always be there. In short, we can never find our rest in anything but God, not even in his works.
In a mysterious way, the spiritual life really begins when we stop “feeling” God and when all the lights we relied on to get to him have been dimmed or even turned off. It is here where faith, hope and love, the theological virtues that ultimately lead us to union with God, become activated and we begin to really make “progress” in the spiritual life. St. Paul himself alludes to this when he reminds the Corinthians that they are to, “walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Ultimately, God wants our love to become mature. In the beginning of our journey God used our senses and his works to get our attention and draw us to him. But as we grow God wants us to be ready for a deeper experience of him, which means that we have to leave behind the “things” that once drew us to God so as to receive something greater, namely God himself.
Pax et bonum