From the Office of Readings on Friday This was exactly what I needed to read. And fits so well with my recent thoughts about icons and God’s face… but it was a little long to include in that post, so I thought I’d give it its own space.
Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him.
Enter into your mind’s inner chamber. Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek him; and when you have shut the door, look for him. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart: I seek your face; your face, Lord, I desire.
Lord, my God, teach my heart where and how to seek you, where and how to find you. Lord, if you are not here where shall I look for you in your absence? Yet if you are everywhere, why do I not see you when you are present? But surely you dwell in “light inaccessible.” And where is light inaccessible? How shall I approach light inaccessible? Or who will lead me and bring me into it that I may see you there? And then, by what signs and under what forms shall I seek you? I have never seen you, Lord my God; I do not know your face.
Lord most high, what shall this exile do, so far from you? What shall your servant do, tormented by love of you and cast so far from your face? He yearns to see you, and your face is too far from him. He desires to approach you, and your dwelling is unapproachable. He longs to find you, and does not know your dwelling place. He strives to look for you, and does not know your face.
Lord, you are my God and you are my Lord, and I have never seen you. You have made me and remade me, and you have given me all the good things I possess and still I do not know you. I was made in order to see you, and I have not yet done that for which I was made.
Lord, how long will it be? How long, Lord, will you forget us? How long will you turn your face away from us? When will you look upon us and hear us? When will you enlighten our eyes and show us your face? When will you give yourself back to us?
Look upon us, Lord, hear us and enlighten us, show us your very self. Restore yourself to us that it may go well with us whose life is so evil without you. Take pity on our efforts and our striving toward you, for we have no strength apart from you.
Teach me to seek you, and when I seek you show yourself to me, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me, nor can I find you unless you show yourself to me. Let me seek you in desiring you and desire you in seeking you, find you in loving you.From the Proslogion by Saint Anselm, bishop
(Cap.1: Opera Omnia, Edit. Schmitt, Secovii, 1938, 1, 97-100)
“Make a little time for God and rest a while in him.” Often I make prayer into a mountain that I have to climb. I set up for myself goals too lofty, as if I had to hike to the top of the Temple Mount just to have a chat. It is good to be reminded that I can find Him in my “mind’s inner chamber”.
I felt an insistent prompting today: Read the Office of Readings, the second reading. I thought it would probably be a longer piece from St John of Damascus, but instead it was St Anselm. Still, that little voice was right: this was exactly what I needed to hear.
Now in Advent, preparing for the arrival of Emmanuel, God is with us, do I really truly long to see His face?