The first obstacle to our progress is to be found in our affections; it is a certain weariness of God which makes us cold and languid in His service, while at the same time we are in a fever of anxiety for all which is not God. Sin has drawn us aside from our end and turned us towards the creature.
The remedy is mental prayer, which detaches us from obstacles, and unites us to what helps us. It detaches us from sin, from perishable goods, from the world, above all, from ourselves; and it unites us to the one and only Good. Mental prayer unites us to God. Detached from all things, the soul is no longer held back by anything; it is so thoroughly emptied that God hastens to fill it with Himself, there to establish His Kingdom. What treasures, what a deliverance, what a happiness a soul enjoys, in proportion as the habit of mental prayer withdraws her from beneath the sway of her passions and subjects her to her good Master, first by fear, afterwards by hope, and lastly by love! A day comes when the heart is taken captive; then it is a mutual friendship, the sweetest intimacy.
The soul knows God and His infinite charms, and this view enchants and inflames her; everywhere, in nature and in grace, in Our Lord’s life, and in her own, she sees a thousand touching proofs of the mercies and of the love of Him who ravishes her heart. Notwithstanding her nothingness and her faults, she dares to raise towards a God so high and so holy the eyes of her heart and to ask for a return of affection, she loves God and is beloved by Him. God does not disdain to lower Himself even to her, and often she is astonished at the tenderness which her God manifests towards her. Oh, how consoling and strengthening are these precious but all-too-short moments! How superabundantly they compensate for all past sufferings, and give courage to face new trials!
Because the soul loves and wishes to be loved, she cannot endure that anything in her should offend the most pure eyes of her WellBeloved, and so love watches with a jealous eye over the purity of the heart. What sacrifices would she not make to preserve or to bring back the visits of Him who is her all? The more we love the more we forget ourselves, and the more we leave ourselves in order to go to God. We seek God alone, and, therefore, we would think only of God, speak only of God, live all the day long only with God, spend ourselves and suffer for Him, and, after having employed all our energies in serving Him, still think we had done nothing. Now, mental prayer is the source whence springs this holy love: “My heart grew hot within me; and in my meditation a fire shall flame out.”