Why This Practice of The Presence of God has Particular Advantages Over Others

by admin on September 12, 2010


TO evidence the perfection and profit of this particular exercise of the practice of the presence of our Lord and further to declare the same, we will men­tion some points in which it differs, and differs for the bet­ter, from other methods. In the first place, in other methods which some are wont to bring forward of walking in the presence of God, all seems to be an act of the understand­ing and all seems to end in imagining God present; but in our method the act of understanding and of faith in God’s presence is presupposed, and the soul passes on to make acts of the love of God, wherein our exercise principally consists; and it is clear that this is better and more prof­itable than the former. As in prayer we have said that we should not dwell on the act of the understanding, that is, the meditation and consideration of things, but on the act of the will, which consists in affections and desires of vir­tue and of the imitation of Christ, and this should be the fruit of the prayer; so here the principal thing in this exer­cise, and the best and the most profitable, lies in the acts of the will, and that is the thing we ought to lay stress on. The second conclusion that follows is that this act is eas­ier and pleasanter than the others because in the others there is need of discussion and labor of the understanding and imagination to set things forth and represent them a thing that is apt to weary people and break their heads, and so cannot be kept up so long; but in this exercise there is no need of such discussion, but solely of affections and acts of the will, which are made without fatigue. For, though it is true that there is here also some act of the understanding, yet that is presupposed by faith without our fatiguing ourselves over it; as, when we adore the Blessed Sacrament, we presuppose by faith that Christ our Savior is there, yet all our attention and occupation is in adoring, reverencing, loving, and asking favors of the Lord Whom we know to be there. So it is in this exercise. And by rea­son of its being easier one can hold on and persevere in it a longer time. So even with sick people who cannot other­wise make their prayer, we are wont to counsel them to raise their heart to God repeatedly with some acts and affections of the will, because that they can do with ease. Thus, though there were no other advantage in this exer­cise but this of our being able to hold on and persevere in it longer than in others, we should value it much; how much more, seeing that there are in it so many other advantages. The third and principal thing, and a thing much to be taken notice of, is that the presence of God is not merely for us to dwell upon, but a means for us to do our ordinary actions well. If we were to content ourselves with merely paying attention to God as present, and thereby grow neg­ligent in our duties and commit faults in them, that would be no good devotion, but an illusion. We must always make up our minds that, though with one eye we deal with His Divine Majesty, we are to fix the other on doing our works well for Him. The reflection that we are in the presence of God should be to us a motive for doing well and with greater perfection all that we do; and this is done much better by this exercise than by others. In other exercises the under­standing is much occupied with those corporeal figures which we endeavor to set before us and by the thoughts that we seek to draw from what is before us. Now to draw out a good though, a man often does not look well at what he is doing and so does it badly; but this exercise, involving no occupation of the understanding, nowise hinders the doing of our duties, but rather is a great aid to our doing them well, because we are doing them for the love of God and before God, Who is looking at us. So we endeavor to do them in such a manner and so well that they may be fit to appear before the eyes of His Divine Majesty and have nothing in them unworthy of His presence.

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