On the subject of the prayer of Jesus that “we all may be one”, Abba Isaac in the Tenth Conference on Prayer, in The Conferences by St. John Cassian said, “This will be the case when every love, every desire, every effort, every undertaking, every thought of ours, everything that we live, that we speak, that we breathe, will be God, and when that unity which the Father now has with the Son and which the Son has with the Father will be carried over into our understanding and our mind, so that, just as he loves us with a sincere and pure and indissoluble love, we too may be joined to him with a perpetual and inseparable love and so united with him that whatever we breathe, whatever we understand, whatever we speak, may be God (pages 375-376).
I am reading through the Tenth Conference on Prayer in The Conferences by St. John Cassian as part of the Office of Matins. For those who have never heard of St. John Cassian, you can read about him here. For the purposes of this blog post, the one thing I will share with you is that the majority of what St. Benedict learned and wrote in The Rule came from the inspiration of St. John Cassian’s Conferences and The Institutes.
The words I just quoted above, sort of leaped out at me at Matins yesterday. Just the very implication that I might be blessed to be the answer to this prayer of Jesus found in St. John‘s Gospel 17:20-26, speaks volumes to me. Abba Isaac is telling us how we become the answer to that prayer. In other words, “when every love, every desire, every effort, every undertaking, every thought of ours, everything that we live, that we speak, that we breathe, will be God,,”. In these words, is a pure act of faith by letting go. A letting go of control, desire and every faculty of our being, to be replaced and used by God. Wow!
What Abba Isaac wrote about is exactly what happens in contemplative and centering prayer. It is the experience of Mary in the words of the Magnificat. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,,,” The experience of the presence of God is so abundant, that every fiber of our being becomes that presence of God. Abba Isaac tells us that the grace in contemplative prayer is evident when God becomes the reason we do anything and everything.
Try contemplating that for today.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB