What were our Lord’s words?
He said, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” or more correctly translated,
“Do or offer this as a memorial of Me before God.”
This implies an act of giving upon our part,
whereas we have come to regard this ceremony as an act of receiving.
Now although the attitude of humble expectancy to receive is of itself a worthy one
it does not fulfill the exact command,
which is to commemorate, offer, and hold up before God
the Perfect Love and Sacrifice of our Saviour, as a living memorial of Him before God.
It should be accompanied by an offering of great love and thanks upon our part
without regard to anything we may receive.
But because first we give we then receive.
About nothing more are we in such a state of ignorance
than as about the laws which govern the give and take
between God and Man.
On the one hand is God the All−Giving, longing to bestow,
and upon the other is Man
the all−needing, aching to receive, and between them an impasse.
Failure to fulfil God’s laws is the cause of this impasse.
There is both a law of like to like, and a law of like to opposite.
We cannot know God … without in some small degree …
of our first being like God,
and to be like God we must not only be pure in heart
but also conform to the Godlike condition of giving.
First we obey this law that the second may come into effect—
that of like to opposite, or positive to negative,
the All−Giving immediately meeting
and filling the all−needing.
We have nothing to give to God but our love, thanks, and obedience;
but these it is possible to give ,
and the more we give
the more Godlike do we become,
and the more Godlike than the higher and further
do we enter into the great riches and blisses of God.
Therefore the more we give to God the more we receive.
We do well to banish from the heart and mind
all thought of what it may take to please God to still further give us
and to make an offering to God.
The only way we can make an offering to God is upon the wings of love,
and upon this love we hold up before Him the bread and wine as
the Body and Blood of our Redeemer, repeating and repeating in our heart,
“I eat and drink This as a memorial before Thee of the Perfect Love and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”
When we so do with great love in our heart we find that we are able sensibly to receive great grace.
Of the many kinds and degrees of prayer first perhaps we learn the prayer of the lips, then that of the
mind, then the prayer of the heart, and finally the prayer of the soul—prayer of a totally different mode and
order, prayer of a strange incalculably great magnetic power, prayer which enables us to count on help from God as upon an absolute and immediate certainty.
We find this about perfect prayer that it is not done as from a creature beseeching a Creator at an immense
distance, but is done as a love flash which, eating up all distance, is immediately before and with the Creator
and is accompanied by vivid certainty at the heart; this latter is active faith; we have too much perhaps of that
kind of faith which may be named waiting or passive faith.
This combination of love with active faith instantly opens to us God’s help. We may or may not receive
this in the form anticipated by the creature, but later perceive that we have received it in exactly that form
which would most lastingly benefit us.
After a while we cease almost altogether from petitioning anything for ourselves, having this one desire
only: that by opening ourselves to God by means of offering Him great love, we receive Himself.
To enter the contemplation of God is not absence of will, nor laziness of will, but great energy of will
because of, and for, love: in which love−condition the energy of the soul will be laid bare to the energy of
God, the two energies for the time being becoming closely united or oned, in which state the soul−will or
energy is wholly lifted into the glorious God−Energy, and a state of unspeakable bliss and an immensity of
living is immediately entered and shared by the soul. Bliss, ecstasy, rapture, all are energy, and according as
the soul is exposed to lesser or greater degrees of this energy, so she enters lesser or greater degrees of
It is misleading in these states of ecstasy to say that the soul has vision, if by vision is to be understood
anything that has to do with concrete forms or any kind of sight; for the soul is totally blind. But she makes no
account of this blindness and has her fill of all bliss and of the knowledge of another manner of living without
any need whatever of sight. Has the wind eyes or feet? yet it possesses the earth and is not prevented. So the
soul, without eyes and without hands, possesses God.
Contact with God is then of the nature of the Infusion of Energy.
The infusions of this energy may take the
form of causing us to have an acute intense perception and consciousness
(but not such form of perception as would permit us to say “I saw,”
but a magnetic inward cognizance,
a fire of knowledge which scintillates about the soul and pierces her)
of His perfections; of His tenderness, His sweetness, His holiness, His beauty.
When either of these last two are made known to her, the soul passes into what can only be named as an
agony of bliss, insupportable even to the soul for more than a very brief time, and because of the fearful stress
of it the soul draws away and prays to be covered from the unbearable happiness of it, this being granted her
whether automatically (that is to say, because of spiritual law) or whether by direct and merciful will of
God—who is able to tell?
Such experiences are not for the timid, but require steady courage and perfect loving trust in God.
Contemplation even in its highest forms is not to be confused with spiritual “experiences,” which are
totally apart from anything else that we may know in life—they are entirely outside of our volition, they are
not to be prayed for, they are not to be even secretly desired, but to be accepted how and when and if God so
In contemplation the will is used, and we are not able to come to it without the will is penetratingly used
towards the joining and meeting with the will and love of God. In the purely spiritual “experience” from first
to last there is no will but an absence of will, a total submission and yielding to God, without questioning,
without fear, without curiosity, and the only will used is to keep ourselves in willingness to submit to
whatever He shall choose to expose us to. God does not open to us such experiences in order to gratify
curiosity—but expecting that we shall learn and profit by them. First we find them an immense and
unforgettable assurance of another form of living, of great intensity, at white heat, natural to a part of us with
which we have hitherto been unfamiliar (the soul) but inimical to the body, which suffers grievously whilst
the soul glows with marvelous vitality and joy.
This assurance of another manner of living, though we see nothing with the eyes, is the opening of another
world to us. The invisible becomes real, faith becomes transformed in knowledge. If the hundred wisest men
of the world should all prove upon paper that the spiritual life as a separate and other life from the physical
life does not exist, it would cause nothing but a smile of compassion to the creature that had experience. God
teaches us by these means to become balanced, poised, and a complete human being, combining in one personality or consciousness the Spiritual and the Material.
But we are not given and shown these mysteries without paying a price: we must learn to live in
extraordinary lowliness and loneliness of spirit. The interests, enjoyments, pastimes of ordinary life dry up
and wither away. It becomes in vain that we seek to satisfy ourselves in any occupation, in anything, in any
persons, for God wills to have the whole of us. When He wills to be sensibly with us, all Space itself feels
scarcely able to contain our riches and our happiness. When He wills to disconnect us from this nearness,
there is nothing in all the universe so poor, so destitute, so sad, so lonely as our self. And there is no earthly
thing can beguile or console us, because, having tasted of God, it is impossible to be satisfied or consoled save
inwardly by God Himself. But He opens up Nature to us in a marvelous way, unbelievable until experienced.
He offers us Nature as a sop to stay our tears. By means of Nature He even in absence caresses the soul and
the creature, speaks to them fondly, encourages and draws them after Him, sending acute and wonderful
perceptions to them, so that, quite consoled, they cry aloud to Him with happiness. And often when the
creature is alone and secure from being observed by anyone He will open His glamour to the soul and she
passes into union with paradise and even more—high heaven itself. These are angels’ delights which He
lavishes upon the prodigal.
Another heavy price to be paid is found by the soul and heart and mind in the return from the blissful and
perfect calm which surrounds even the lowest degree of the contemplation of God to the turmoil of the world.
For to have been lifted into this new condition of living, this glamor, this crystal joy, to know such heights,
such immensities, and to descend from God’s blisses to live the everyday life of this world and accept its
pettiness is a great pain, in which pain we are of necessity not understood by fellow−creatures; therefore the
more and the more we become pressed into that great loneliness which is the inevitable portion of the true
lover, and experience the pain of those prolonged spiritual conflicts in which the soul learns to bend and
submit to the petty sordidness of life in a world which has forgotten God.
It is the lack of courage and endurance to perpetually weather these dreadful storms
which causes us to turn to seclusion
To refrain from doing this and to remain in the world though not of it is the sacrifice of the loving soul—
she has but the one to make—to leave the delights of God,
and for the sake of being a useful servant to Jesus
to pick up the daily life in the world;
which sacrifice is in direct contrariety to the sacrifice of the creature,
which counts its sacrifices as a giving up of the things of the world.
So by opposites they may come to one similarity—perfection.
How to conduct itself in all these difficult ways so foreign to its own earthly nature is a
hard problem for the creature, belonging so intimately to this world which it can touch and see: and yet which
it is asked by God bravely to climb out of into the unknown and the unseen. Bewildered by the enormous
demands of the soul which can never rest in any happiness without she is contemplating God, adoring Him,
conversing with Him, blessing and worshiping Him, the poor creature is often bewildered to know how to
conduct the ordinary affairs and duties of life under such pressures. Of its emotions, of the tears that it sheds,
of the falls that it takes, a library of books might be written.
In the splendor, the grandeur, the great magnitudes and expanses of spirit life
as made known to it by the soul, the creature feels like some poor
beggar child, ill−mannered, ill−clothed, which by strange fortune finds itself invited to the house of a mighty
king, and, dumb with humility and admiration,
is at a loss to understand the condescension of this mighty lord.
In this sense of very great unworthiness lies a profound pain, an agony. To cure this pain we must turn
the heart to give love, to think love, and immediately we think of this great condescension as being for love’s
sake—as love seeking for love—we are consoled.
Then all is well, all is joyful, all is divine. The more simple,
childlike, and unpretentious we can be, the more easily we shall win our way through.
Pretentiousness or arrogance in Man can never be anything but ridiculous,
and a sense of humor should alone be sufficient to save us from such error.
For the same reason it is impossible to regard human ceremonies with any respect or
seriousness, for they are not childlike but childish. How often the heart and mind cry out to Him,
“O mighty God, I am mean and foolish—
mean in that which I have created by my vain imaginings, my pride, my covetousness;
but in that which Thou hast made me I am wonderful and lovely—
a thing that can fly to and fro day or night to Thy hand!”
The difficulties of the creature should not be raised on some self−glorifying pinnacle merely because the
fickle variable heart at lasts learns the exercise of Fidelity.
Do we not see a very ordinary dog practicing this same fidelity as he waits,
so eager that he trembles, outside his master’s door, having put on one side every desire
save his desire to his master whom, not seeing, he continues to await;
and this out of the generosity of his heart!
And we? Only by great difficulty, long endeavor, bitter schooling, and having at last accomplished
it we name each other saints or saintly.
Let us think soberly about these things; are we then so much less than a dog
that we also cannot accomplish this fidelity—so that though hands and feet go about daily duties the
heart and mind are fixed on the Master?
Then the Master becomes the Beloved