As we walk the path of intimacy with Christ, an incredible gift is given to us. In the midst of our interior life and in the midst of the world, we discover the wordless, imageless presence of the Lord by a kind of spiritual instinct. This awareness awakens in us a kind of habit of familiarity, whereby we learn to turn to the Lord in the midst of all things. All other forms of stillness are a dramatic preparation for that moment in which our Lord reveals to us a deeper intimacy with him which is nothing short of a continuous communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We must be careful to not settle for anything short of this kind of intimacy. While physical and psychological health are good, they are merely a preparation for the greater gift of contemplation. In addition, the freedom of a clear conscience will only keep its freshness and vitality if it is animated by a more profound source, namely that foreshadowing of the kingdom which is given in this spiritual stillness.

In this way, the awareness of God’s presence becomes a reference point by which the believer is able to discern and discover God’s will. In a way that transcends our natural abilities, contemplation is the vision of God opened up through purity of heart and the gift of God’s love. We prepare ourselves through physical and spiritual discipline, but the reception of this gift is determined by God and according to his design. As we receive God’s love and our reception deepens, this divine love begins to permeate all aspects of our life. This is the ground of true flourishing, the means by which the saints live in perfect cooperation with the Divine will.

That does not mean that suffering disappears. Rather, in the midst of the storms and trials that accompany this life, we learn to “see” Christ’s love that always remains just below the surface of our perception. This awareness translates itself into a continuous victory over the devil as we learn to offer everything to him whom we see and do so with complete confidence. Our confidence is not that we will succeed or achieve the ideals of the world around us, but that in a mysterious way, all things are given to us for the sake of our sanctification. We discover the true dynamics of history, and this allows us to live as a new creation in Christ.

This is why we meditate and pray daily. While the ultimate goal is to be in heaven with Jesus, contemplation is the proximate goal of our efforts and struggles. We must constantly keep our eyes focused on the truth that our Lord wants us to receive the gift of his love. He wants us to walk continuously in his presence, and so to live in harmony with his grace. Let us never lose sight of the goal of intimacy with Christ.