There exist rules for training that are valid for athletic sports and are also valid for the spirit. If all of a sudden someone tells you, “Walk 30 miles”, you will say, “Impossible!” But if you begin to walk five miles each day the first week, eight miles the second week, and so on progressively, within a year you will have no difficulty in walking 30 miles. What happened? The athletic abilities were asleep, maybe even atrophied, for lack of activity. Once they were put into motion, the muscles awoke and strengthened.
The same is true for the spirit. All of us carry within us, buried within our genetic codes, spiritual dynamism and mystical capacities that today may be asleep, or perhaps atrophied due to lack of activity. When we exercise them in prayerful activity, when we adhere tenaciously to the Lord God, our desire to be with him awakens, thus increasing our attraction towards Him. If we continue to pray, God becomes “more” God each time. In other words, the Lord begins to be our satisfaction and our celebration, and at that moment everything begins to come alive. Vocal prayers and the sacraments are no longer empty words and rites; they become a spiritual banquet. Chastity is no longer repression and begins to become mysterious fulfillment. The beatitudes are no longer paradoxes and become wells of wisdom.
Not only that; the world, history and life itself are clothed in divine presence and meaning. We become able to glimpse the divine will even in absurd or painful emergencies, while our desire to be with Him increases. That is why the psalmist gets up at midnight, like a lover to be with his beloved, and Jesus renounces hours of sleep and goes into the hills to pass the night together with the Father.
In some way the law of attraction between the masses is fulfilled; in other words, the greater the proximity, the greater the velocity. Attraction grows in the measure that for: as the volume of the masses increases and the proximity of the same is closer. In other words: as we grow more closely united to God, so His attraction, His seduction and our desire to be with Him, grows.
As we get close to a mountain range, we can observe a curious phenomenon: from the valley we can see, at first glance, some high foothills, nothing else. We climb the first hill, and from there we can see hills that are much loftier, which we could not see before. We scale the next height, and from there we can see a wider vista of very high peaks much further away and much higher still. Did the mountain range change? The mountains remain unchanged and are the same as they have always been, but as we went further into their depths, perspectives and worlds previously completely unknown to us began to appear.
The same thing happens with God. Anyone can have the experience that as they advance in their personal relationship with the Lord, God feels closer and more alive.
It is not that God changes. He is immutable in Himself and is inalterably present within us. What really changes are our relationships with Him, depending upon our degree of faith and love. Faith, hope, and love make God more alive and present to me.
When a deep, frequent relationship is established with Him, His presence becomes denser within me, for me. It is not that this presence is more concrete, but Someone is more alive and present; Someone with whom difficulties are overcome with ease, sacrifices are undertaken with joy, hardships hurt less, aversion no longer destroys us; where there was violence there is now tenderness, and joy and love blossom everywhere.
The room is in total darkness, we cannot see a thing. We strike a match: we perceive something, then we can see many more things. We light fifty matches and now, yes: the room is gorgeous, full of colors, figures and objects.
Has the room changed? It is the same, but for me everything has changed. What happened? The light made the room “present”, the light has illuminated “the face” of the room for me.
When one does not pray, God is a dark room, an empty word, a “Mr. Nobody”. When I begin to pray, God begins to become “someone” for me. The more I pray, the more “the light of His face shines” in me, for me.
Furthermore, the events, people and circumstances that surround me appear clothed in the light of His presence, encased in the frame of his will. It is not that the events and things are magically gilded by divine light, rather when my inner eyes are inhabited by God, everything that these eyes contemplate appears to be touched by God.
As the person who prays advances through the high roads of the divine depths, unknown powers may emerge in their soul through the work of grace. These powers can push the soul up an all-encompassing incline where God becomes more and more the All, the Only One, the Absolute; in a whirlwind where the whole person is pulled in and taken up, slowly transforming His into a torch which burns and illuminates. Let us remember the prophets and the saints.
Extracted from the book “Journey Towards God” by Fr. Ignacio Larrañaga