Friday, January 17, 2014

Basking in the Sun of God's Love

I found this blog post on Fr. Doyle and in particular the quote below as capturing something beautiful about Eucharistic adoration but also about the spirituality of the Daughters of St. Philip Neri.  Philip Neri was one who sought above all to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and to set aside his own will in the spiritual life in order to be guided by God.  He was not willful in his pursuit of a vocation or in his prayer life but most intent on doing the Lord's will in all things and everywhere - understanding that this was sufficient and would bring a person to where she or he needed to be in accord with the wisdom of God.  

As we pray together about the devotional life of the Daughters I want to particularly sensitive to imitating Philip in this fashion; that our focus be not on simply fulfilling a definite rule each day but rather on loving Christ and being attentive to His Spirit - to trust, as Fr. Doyle states, that "grace is dropping down upon your soul and you are growing fast in holiness."  We must remember that our intentions and prayers for priests and others are brought most swiftly to the Heart of Jesus on the wings of desire for Him and His Love. 

As regards prayer, you should try to follow the attraction of the Holy Spirit, for all souls are not led by the same path. It would not be well to spend all the time in vocal prayer, there should be some meditation, thought or contemplation. Try “basking in the sun of God’s love,” that is, quietly kneeling before the Tabernacle, as you would sit enjoying the warm sunshine, not trying to do anything, except love Him; but realizing that, during all the time you are at His feet, more especially when dry and cold, grace is dropping down upon your soul and you are growing fast in holiness.

COMMENT: In today’s quote, Fr Doyle teaches us something very important about prayer – we are all lead by a different path. There are many spiritualities in the Church. Of course, this doesn’t mean that any and all spiritualities are advisable, but nonetheless it is a broad Church and the Holy Spirit will lead us along the right path if we are sufficiently well disposed to follow. Sometimes people can form a negative image of Fr Doyle if they think too much about his own purely personal austerity. Today we see Fr Doyle in all of his gentleness and liberality and balance. This gentleness and balance was always a key characteristic of his advice to others.
Today’s quote also reminds me of a story about St John Vianney. I cannot remember whether the story is told about his own prayer, or whether he is meant to have told this story about somebody else’s prayer and I cannot find a definitive version of the story online. In any event, the story is that a holy person who spent much time in the church before the Tabernacle (as I say, the holy person was either the saint himself or one of his parishioners) was asked what he did during this time. The response was “I just look at Him, and He just looks at me”.
Such a simple (and exalted) prayer will not be suitable for everyone, but the point is that there is a lot more to prayer than vocal prayer. If we receive the correct spiritual direction and formation and are well disposed, the Holy Spirit will lead us along the right path.