“Be still and know that I am God.”
I seek you, my God, but not through any of the senses of my body or through any perceptible images. Rather, I turn within myself, to the interior chamber of my thoughts and feelings, and the realm which lies beyond all thoughts and feelings.
For there, O Lord, you illuminate my heart and mind. You are, indeed, the eternal truth, the immeasurable goodness, the incomprehensible brilliance exceeding all created things, ungraspable by the mind alone and transcending all celestial powers. According to the mystery of your divine nature, you remain unknown and unknowable.
And yet, through pure grace, you communicate yourself to holy souls, manifesting something of the infinite glory of your heavenly nature, which entirely exceeds time, space, thought, and imagination.
O blessed Trinity, one and only God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! You are the eternal glory and highest beatitude of all the saints and the epitome and perfection of all heavenly powers. From you, through you, and in you alone do all things come into being, exist, and reach their end.
Make known to me your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths; for all your ways are beautiful and all our paths are of peace. You have declared that “blessed are the pure of heart” and “blessed are the peace-makers.” These two counsels guide us on the pathways that lead to the blessings of the contemplative life.
Let us work and pray diligently, therefore, so that our hearts may be rendered pure from every stain of sin. And then the way which shall lead us to God – in whom all our happiness and peace abides – shall be made open to us.
A Prayer That the Mind May be Freed From Its Bondage to the Things of the Physical Senses
I earnestly beseech you, my God, and pray to you from the very depths of my being. Free me, and rescue my soul – which is currently distracted and held captive by all kinds of earthly cares, worries, and desires. By the radiance of your enlightenment, may I discover you within myself, O God; for truly, you fashioned me in your own divine, precious, and incorruptible image.
Indeed, the beauty and likeness of your supreme wisdom does not shine forth in any created thing in the world as much as it does in the human soul. You made the human soul alone with the capacity to know and to love you, and, through the gift of reason, placed it above all other things in creation.
Lord, raise up my mind from all earthly concerns and purify the affection of my heart! Renew me according to the “interior human” which you lovingly created. Repair your divine image within me, through the seven-fold grace of the Holy Spirit.
Truly you have made the human soul as something immortal, invisible, and incorporeal, capable of receiving the eternal Truth, uniquely blessed with reason and self-awareness, and for this reason surpassing all other living things. On account of this reason and self-awareness, it is more worthy than any visible or perceptible things to bear the image of God.
O Lord, remove and expel from me whatever is able to stain or darken your image, lest it should become unworthy of your kindly gaze and offend the eyes of your majesty. Deign to renew this most precious and noble image of yourself, which is within me, by the power of your love. Illuminate your image within me with the gift of your intelligence and visit it without ceasing. For, in your omnipotence, it is you alone who hold it in being, and in our omniscience, you perceive and comprehend it always and in full.
Recall, O Lord, how you created my soul from nothing but not for nothing. Remember how you redeemed it from the chains of sin by the awesome and sacred exchange of your holy cross. Do not let this same soul which you created and redeemed, O Lord, be conquered by earthly vices but defend it from all evil and enrich it with your grace. Multiply within it the gifts of your generosity that it may always know the abundance of your saving power.
O God, you alone are my Truth and my mercy! Grant that I may see that which lies beyond the circumscribed world of physical forms, to perceive without material images, and to gaze with an illumination exceeding that of any created light. Grant me the ability to seek with the intelligence of a truly clean mind, for your promise that you shall be beheld by those who are pure of heart. This is indeed a stupendous and amazing promise! And yet it is perfectly congruous with true purity and illumination.
For those who have left behind all earthly concerns and transcended all physical realities shall deservedly merit to contemplate the hidden light of eternal truth. The more such minds withdraw from the created light and from the things of this world, the more they shall be seized and raised above their individual selfhood to enter into the secret realm of the divine splendor.
And how magnificent shall be that vision; how pure that perception! How blessed that eye shall be which beholds the Truth without physical senses or comprehensible images of any kind, O God!
This article is taken from a chapter in Humility and the Elevation of the Mind to God by St. Alphonsus Liguori which is available from TAN Books.