If man would perceive what glory awaits the one who has abandoned himself completely to your providence, he would soon forsake all else and run towards that prize which is the possession of the saints. What foolishness is the glory of this world and what fools are those who pursue it! A man may possess all, but if he finds not the stillness of contemplation, then no amount of acquiring will give rest to his weary mind.
The greatest thing we can possess in this world, O Lord, is to know you and to love you… to know you that our mind might reach towards the metaphysical ground of all truth… to know you that our intellects might enter into the cloud of unknowing and receive a light that transcends all other lights… to know you that we might gaze upon the humanity of Christ and be led to the transfiguring glory of His divinity… O Lord to look upon all things and to see you, the author of them all, directing them and guiding them.
As the saints have taught me, there is a hierarchy within things and there is hierarchy of truths by which my mind is led from sensible realities to dwell with your sweet contemplation. My mind first learns discipline and logic that I might learn to see with clarity that which is and that which is not. But this does not suffice to satisfy the longing of the heart.
You yourself have placed the longing within me. In your mystery of predestination, you placed within my awareness, a distant country that taught me to despise this world. Eternity spoke to my mind before I had ever learned to understand any of the truths you taught me.
You worked within me both the desire and the work. You called and I responded, but even my response is a gift from you that transcends all I know.
My mind is dazzled with the thought that, in everything and in all circumstances, the main story is the story of your will and your glory. There is no defeat for your providence, even in the most difficult of circumstances. And, the more I ponder this, the more I feel my mind stretch to its’ limits.
I know all things work to the good for those who believe. I also know you work all things by your active and permissive will. There is not even a breath or the movement of a single cell that is not under the dominion of your providence, and the more I am reminded of this, the more I find my mind carried aloft like an angel who passes through this world in sweet repose.
You know the hour and manner of my death. You know the result of my work. You know if I am saved or if I am damned, and the thought of this fills me with such wonderful fear and longing, I ache to come into your presence and humble myself. What can I do if you not allow it? What can I accomplish if you do not will it?
A foolish man might be led to despair by these thoughts. He will not perceive that there is no escaping the demands of our daily lives. My mind is carried to the heights of contemplation by this sweet doctrine, but then I must descend and pay bills, brush my teeth and care for my daily concerns.
But when my mind reaches to the height, it does not return without some trace of what it has seen. The daily things seem to take on a new light when one has touched the stillness of eternity. I cannot escape the necessities of life, but they are less wearisome when I discover that, for all eternity, you knew and ordained each one of these moments for my salvation and your glory. I hope and do not presume for my salvation, but I believe, even in placing this enlightenment before my gaze, there is a reason that cannot be ignored.
I know and trust in your glory. Even my failures are for your glory. Even my sins. Not that I bring glory upon myself when I sin, but rather that you allow me to sin that you might show me your mercy and your justice. You show me your justice when I experience the rightful consequences of the evil I have done and you show your mercy when you allow me to humble myself before the priest and receive absolution.
In all things, your glory is revealed. In all things, your mercy and your justice.
In this, the question becomes, what do I desire? Your wisdom, yes. Your glory, most certainly. But I know you already know what gifts you have chosen for me. I know you have already assigned me a place in the hierarchy of all the living and the dead.
Then what is my prayer? That, in all things, I might surrender to your will. That, I might hold this knowledge as close to me as the air within my lungs and I might learn to remember it as often as I breath.