by James Finley
THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT commandment is to "love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matt. 22:37). The contemplative work of the Spirit is the carrying out of this commandment whereby you give God the greatest delight. His joy is in knowing this: My child is loving me. My child has discovered why I created persons -- that they might be one with me in loving me as I love them.
In this moment of turning to God in detached love all the angels and saints stop, turn to you and listen: Someone has discovered the love that is eternal life. Someone is loving God for his own sake. There is a kind of heavenly rush hour as all the citizens of heaven come to aid you in loving God. You sit alone in him surrounded by all who live in him.
The devils rage over this simple love, for it touches the raw edge of their anguish, which is their refusal and subsequent helplessness to love God. Thus, contemplative prayer involves a wrestling with the powers of darkness, with the realms of spiritual reality within and beyond ones self which are imprisoned in the unreality of being isolated from the all of Gods love.
Without understanding how, your detached love for God in prayer touches the life of every person on earth. Your childlike fidelity to this simple self-giving love for God carries you in God into his presence in the blood and sinews, the hopes and struggles of each person who lives in the power of his sustaining love. Somehow humanity is your body and the secret joys and sorrows of each person trace lines upon your heart, now given over and surrendered to God in prayer
Taken from an out-of-print book by James Finley, The Awakening Call (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1984).