Part IV in a Series by Pseudo-Ermatinger
Women Picking Olives, Vangogh, 1889
The way to the Holy Mountain of the Divine Father is a path trod by prayer. If one ascends through prayer, they will find themselves ascending through the cloud of unknowing that veils the summit from prying eyes (cfr. Job 28:12-28; Isa 45:3; 1 Cor 2:9). There beyond they will see the Holy Temple of the Lord, which has been sung about by their fathers and their father’s fathers all the way into the deep mists of the past (cfr. Exo 15:17; Isa 51:1-4; Lke 1:54-55,68-75). It is the song of ancestral memory and reflections upon the longings of the human heart. In the Holy Temple, there is the eternal and unending adoration of the Father by all who are deemed worthy to enter; and for man, Mystical Union with his Creator.
This lofty vision is loftier indeed still for it surpasses the ability of the human mind to encompass, yet it begins here now in the valley below with the simple seed of prayer. This seed of prayer grows, sinking its tendrils and roots deep into the soil of the human person breaking up the rocky soil of vice, purifying the rude clay, sending forth above the surface outstretched branches and leaves to capture the illuminating light and cooling dews of the Divine Spirit, drawing the divine energies within the person to purify the individual in a cycle that ever grows the tree of prayer to greater heights. And as the tree of prayer grows in the light, it is pruned and fashioned by the Son of God to be more and more receptive, configured, and to bear a resemblance to Him (cfr. Isa 18:5; Jhn 15:26: Heb 12:6). For prayer is much less of a human activity than it is the activity of God that the human person responds to and cooperates with; an activity that passes through growth, to resemblance, to the flowering of Mystical Union.
Let us return again to the seed. Prayer is a seed because it comes from without. It is not man that first turns in prayer to God but God, in His divine mercy, that first turns to man. God created man, and all that man is, is from God. Nothingness cannot seak God, but God must first create. As God externally brings forth individual Adam from the dust of nothingness, so too does He create the interior relationship of the individual person forged through prayer from its absence (cfr. Psm 50:10; Ezk 36:36, ). In man’s fallen nature, obvious from the fact that he is estranged from his Creator and is barred, but not denied, from reaching his teleological end, shows that, while man has the capacity for the purpose of prayer, pray must be implanted from without. Further still, if the ultimate fruit of prayer is union with God — that is arriving at the summit of the Holy Mountain, entering the Heavenly Temple, and taking up the eternal Song of Adoration of the Holy Trinity, to the Father through the Spirit and with the Son (cfr. Psm 97; Isa 2:3; Mic 4:2; 1 Pet 2:9; Rev. 4:8) — then the end must be present in potentiality in the beginning. As a tree comes from a seed and a seed produces a tree, then complete union with God must begin with the most tenuous of unions done not by our clawing after the robes of God but by His grasping and takings us as His own (cfr. Job 27:11; Jer 31:32; Heb 8:9).
The turning in prayer to God is first God calling us to turn to Him (cfr. Jhn 6:44; Eph 2:4) From the darkness before we were, He calls us into being, calls us to long for that which is beyond ourselves, and calls us to the labor of prayer. He is our creator; of who we are, of our actions and their ends. As we turn towards Him, reaching our hand towards the divine hand, we are nourished by Him who coaxes us to grow, stretch, and yearn towards the light of His countenance. In prayer, we enter into a purifying conversation with our Creator. God is our savior as He saves us from the darkness, our rockiness, our barrenness. He is our sustainer as He gives us life; indeed in the Mystical Union, His very own life. God is our consummator, our purpose for being, and the end of it, which is found through the labor of prayer. Prayer is the work by which God gives Himself to us; it is the work of faith and hope that flowers in the Union of Charity.
Prayer is a conversation for, in prayer, we are increasingly taught by God about who He is and who we are (cfr. Isa 54:13; Jhn 6:34). We increasingly discover our littleness before Him, our childlike dependence upon Him, the goodness that He gives to us to seek after Him, and the nourishment that He brings to those that love Him.
Prayer mothers the virtues for it is through prayer that the virtues take root and grow into existence, for to be like God is to be adorned by Him (cfr. Ezk 16:11; Gal 3:27)in that which makes us like Him, that is good and beautiful and true. The virtues are those attributes that make us these things. They come through prayer and are grown by prayer and flower and fruit through prayer. If we dedicate ourselves to prayer, these things surely will come and we will be led by God to ascend to His own domain and His own self.
As we ascend to the abode of the Father through prayer, we find that He has been with us throughout the journey. We seek to ascend to Him and find that He has found us, taken us, and led us Himself to Himself. He is the reason for our ascent, the means of our ascent, and the end of our ascent.
Anastasis Icon, Unknown