St Theresa of Avila reminds us that the path to perfection is simple: love Jesus.
Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near.Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.
So I ask myself, “How do I love Jesus?” First, I read the Holy Gospels. Remember the Sacred Scriptures are not primarily a list of rules and regulations or a collection of proof texts for Christian doctrine. The word of God is the revelation of the Word of God. That is to say, “The Bible brings us to Jesus. The Bible reveals him to us. As the old Baptist preacher used to say as he waved his big old black Bible in the air, “Folks, when you read this book you will find Jesus hidden on every page!
“How do I read the Bible? Use the gift the monks give us–lectio Divina. Read the gospel set for the day, but also read the whole gospel through as you would a book. Have you ever once read the whole gospel through from beginning to end? Many Christians haven’t.
Second, love Jesus in the Eucharist. He is present and alive to you there. Love him also in Eucharistic adoration. Behold his face in contemplation. In contemplation ask to “see Jesus and know him”. Do not be afraid of mysticism. Open the eyes of your heart to see Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit for the gift to see and know him.
Third, walk with Christ. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus allow him to teach you and allow your heart to burn within you as you walk on the way. How do you walk with Christ? You follow him and allow him to lead you. Respond in loving obedience to his promptings and commands. He will direct you to do certain things. Do them. Obey instantly and then he will give you another direction and command. Each day ask him what he would have you do and then do it. How do you expect to follow Christ unless you obey him, for to follow Christ is to obey him.
This is our greatest failing. We have many loving commands already given to us by Christ, but we disobey and disregard them. We put them away as an interesting theory. Someone will say to me, “I want to discern God’s will for my life. What shall I do with my life?” So we talk and I ask if they are already doing what he has told them to do.
“But what has he told me to do?”
Then there is silence. Sometimes they do not even know the ten commandments, the precepts of the church or the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works bring us to the love of Jesus because they are his works in the world. As we do them we live the life of Christ and come to love him more.
The prayer of St Richard of Chichester:
Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ,
For all the benefits you have won for me,
For all the pains and insults you have borne for me.O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,
May I know you more clearly,
Love you more dearly,
And follow you more nearly:
Day by day. AMEN