Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Contemplative Journey to the Place Hidden in the Heart of God - Fr Donald Haggerty

The Contemplative Journey

“When I did not seek him with self-love, he gave ­himself to me without being sought” (Jacques Maritain). A place hidden in the heart of God awaits contemplatives as they renounce any desire for status or privilege with God and leave that ambition smoldering in ashes. This renunciation has a significant consequence in the ­inner realms of silent prayer. The effect is to hide the soul more easily from itself. We lose interest in self and have no need to gain anything for ourselves in prayer. Without a desire to seek anything for self or to advance in some manner in our own estimation, a poverty takes hold in us and becomes, as it were, an ordinary place for prayer…. We learn then more often to discard at the doorstep of prayer all traces of desire for an acquisition of any kind in prayer. All desire to possess something for ourselves fades and disappears. The desire for gratification and favor from God becomes unnecessary, cast away as unimportant, no longer pursued.

The internal poverty may in time offer us a different treasure. There is now a new attraction within our soul. We are beginning to know the drawing power of the divine presence in the poor emptiness of prayer. We do not perceive his presence in any experience we can carry away as a memory from prayer. It is confirmed more in the desires we take with us from silent prayer to intercede for others in spiritual need. It may be that the truest sign of favor from God is a hidden union with his divine thirst for souls. And this union we can indeed sense more and more every day.

Father Donald Haggerty

From the Magnificat. Father Haggerty, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is currently serving at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. / From Contemplative Enigmas: Insights and Aid on the Path to Deeper Prayer. © 2020, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, CA. Used with permission.

In Fr Haggerty's book, Contemplative Enigmas he writes just prior to the reflection above:

Precisely when God seems most hiddenour attention is often thrown back painfully upon ourselves. In one sense, this tendency must be ruthlessly opposed.  In another sense, it must be treated gently, by a calm turning in the direction of Our Lord... with the conviction that he is always in our company. Despite every false thought of his absence, he is close to us, waiting always for our heart's next expression of longing, whether in word or in silence.

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