Thy Kingdom Come

from St. Teresa of Avila

Nevertheless, my daughters, I will try to tell you about the prayer of quiet as I have heard it explained or as our Lord has been pleased to make me understand it — perhaps in order that I might teach you. Here God seems to show us that He has heard our petition, and He begins to give us His kingdom in this world, so that we may truly ‘hallow’ and bless ‘His name’, and try to make others do the same. However, as I said, I have written elsewhere about the prayer of quiet, so I will do little but touch on the subject here. This prayer is a supernatural state to which no effort of our own can raise us, because here the soul rests in peace — or rather, our Lord gives it peace by His presence, as He did to the just man Simeon. Thus all the faculties are calmed, and in some manner, in no way connected with the exterior senses, the spirit realizes that it is close to its God, and that if it drew but a little nearer to Him, it would become one with Him by union. This is not because such a person sees Him either with the corporal or spiritual sight. Nor did the just Simeon see more outwardly of the glorious but poor Infant, and from the swaddling clothes that wrapped Him and the small number of attendants in the procession might rather have taken Him for a little pilgrim, the child of indigent parents, than for the Son of the heavenly Father. But the Babe Himself gave the old man light to recognize Him, as He enlightens the soul to recognize Him during the prayer of quiet. It cannot tell how it knows Him, yet it feels sure it is in that ‘kingdom’, or at least, near the King from Whom the kingdom is to come. So reverential is the awe felt by such a soul that it dares ask nothing of God.

This state resembles a swoon, both exterior and interior, so that the exterior man (or a I will call it ‘the body’, lest some simpleton among you may say she does not know what ‘exterior’ and ‘interior’ mean) does not wish to move, but rests like a traveller who, having nearly come to his journey’s end, stops so that he may start again refreshed, for the strength of the soul is now double what it was. The body feels enjoyment while the spirit is supremely satisfied and so delighted at finding itself near the fountain that, before even tasting the water, its thirst is quenched and thee seems nothing left to desire. The faculties are reluctant to stir; all action seems to impede their loving God — yet they are not entirely lost, for they can and do realize, by peaceful contemplation, in Whose Presence they are. Two of them are free; the will alone is captive, and, if capable of feeling pain at this time, can only do so at the thought that it will regain its liberty. The mind, centres itself on one thing only and works but little, and the memory tries to remember nothing else, for both see that this is ‘the one thing needful’ and that anything else disturbs them. At such a time, people wish the body to remain motionless; they think its movement would destroy their repose, therefore they dare not stir. Speaking troubles them: they spend an hour in saying one Pater Noster: being very close to God, they know that He understands them by signs. They are in the palace and near their King, and they perceive that here on earth He is beginning to bestow on them His ‘kingdom.’

At times they shed a few tears, not sadly but with extreme sweetness: their only wish is that the name of God may be ‘hallowed’. They seem no more to belong to this world — they neither wish to look at nor to listen to aught but God: nothing troubles them, nor does it seem as if anything ever could do so again. In short, while the prayer of quiet lasts, the soul is so intoxicated with delight and joy that there no longer seems anything left to wish for, and it would gladly cry with St. Peter: ‘Lord, let us build here three tabernacles’!

Occasionally during the prayer of quiet God bestows on the soul another grace that is difficult to understand by any one who has not experienced it. Any among you who have done so will recognize it at once and will be very glad to know what it is. I believe God often gives this favour with the other. When the quiet is great and lasts long I think the will must be held fast in some way, or such peace could not be protracted. Sometimes, although we cannot understand how, it lasts for one or two days. I am speaking here of souls raised to this degree of prayer. They are conscious that their attention is not entirely given to whatever they might be doing, but that the chief factor — that is, the will — is wanting. I believe that it is united to God, leaving the other powers free to attend to His service. The latter are more apt than ever for this but are dull and at times even imbecile concerning worldly affairs. God grants a great favour to these souls, for the contemplative and active life are here combined. Thus the whole being serves Him, for the will, while rapt in contemplation, works without knowing how, and the other two powers share Martha’s labour — thus Martha and Mary toil together. I knew some one whom our Lord often raised to this state. She could not understand it, and questioned a great contemplative, who told her that such a thing was quite possible and indeed had happened to himself. From the soul’s feeling such entire satisfaction, I believe that during most of the time the prayer of quiet lasts, the will must be united to Him Who alone can satisfy it.

When any of you find yourselves in the high state of the prayer of quiet — which as I said is manifestly supernatural — if the mind, or to speak more clearly, the imagination, wanders about after the greatest nonsense in the world, laugh at it, treat it as a lunatic, and maintain your own peace. Thoughts will come and go, but here the will is mistress and recalls them without your troubling yourselves in the matter. If you try to control them by force you will lose your power over them which comes from the divine nourishment within you, and neither the one nor the other will gain but both will be losers. As the proverb says: ‘Grasp at too much and you will catch nothing,’ and this seems the case here. Experience will bring my meaning home to you; without it, what I have told you may well seem superfluous and obscure. However, a very little acquaintance with it will make my words clear: they may help your soul, and you will thank God for having enabled me to explain the matter. We need a great deal of experience to understand this until we have read about it: afterwards we easily comprehend it. To conclude with, it may be affirmed that when the soul is raised to this prayer the Father has granted its request and His ‘kingdom’ has ‘come’ to it on earth.

O holy prayer, wherein unwittingly we crave so great a good! What a blessed petition to make! This, sisters, is the reason I want us to say the Pater Noster and other prayers with care and to think about what we ask for in them. Most certainly, when once God has shown us this favour, we ought to forget all worldly things, for the Lord of the whole earth has come and cast them forth. I do not mean that all who have enjoyed the prayer of quiet must necessarily be detached from everything in this world; but I wish them to know what they ought to be, and to try to mortify themselves in every way, otherwise they will stop here. They should not ask for so precious a gift as if it were worthless, and if God grants it them, let them not throw it back at Him.

God shows, by bestowing these pledges on the soul, that He designs it for the great things. The fault will be its own if it does not make great progress. However, if He sees that after He has set within it the kingdom of heaven it returns to this world, not only will He desist from revealing to it the mysteries of His kingdom, but He will only show it the former favour at rare intervals and for a short time. I may be mistaken, but I have both seen and known that this occurs. I believe that the reason why so many persons fail to become thoroughly spiritual is that they do not worthily respond by their actions to this signal grace by preparing themselves to receive it again. They withdraw from our Lord’s hands their will which He considered His property: as they centre their affections on base things, He seeks other souls whose love for Him is so fervent that He can grant them even more sublime favours. Still, He does not altogether deprive the former persons of what He gave them, provided they keep a good conscience.

There are many souls (and I was among their number) whom God moves to devotion and visits with holy inspirations and light to know the worthlessness of all earthly things, and on whom He finally bestows His kingdom in this prayer of quiet. Yet these souls close their ears against Him because they prefer to speak and to hurry through a number of vocal prayers as if a task has been set them to say a certain amount every day. Thus when our Lord puts His kingdom into their possession by means of the prayer of quiet and interior peace, they will not accept it, but think they can do better by reciting prayers which distract their attention. Do not imitate them, my sisters, but be attentive when God gives you this grace; think what a priceless treasure you would lose, and be assured that you had far better say one petition of the Pater Noster from time to time than repeat the whole prayer mechanically and hurriedly over and over again. He to Whom you speak is very near you — He cannot fail to hear, and I believe that in this way we truly praise and ‘hallow’ His name. Now that you are the inmates of His house, you glorify Him with stronger love and desire; indeed, it seems as if you could not choose but serve Him. I advise you to be very careful about this, as it is of the utmost importance.

Thy Kingdom Come

from St. Louis De Montfort

Do Thou reign in our souls
By Thy grace
So that after death
We may be found meet
To reign with Thee
In Thy kingdom
In perfect and unending bliss.
Oh Lord, we firmly believe
In this happiness to come;
We hope for and we expect it,
Because God the Father
Has promised it
In His great goodness;
It was purchased for us
By the merits of God the Son
And God the Holy Spirit
He who is the Light
Has made it known to us.