Practicing the Presence of the Divine Indwelling

 
Sister Mildred, the mystic of the devotion to Our Lady of America, wrote that on the evening of August 5, 1957, “Our Lady spoke to me about the Divine Indwelling. It was her life and she lived it perfectly always conscious of His presence, never forgetting that all her greatness came from within, from Him who dwelt there, working, loving, and doing good through her. This is what Our Lady means when she speaks of reformation, renewal. It is this about which she is so concerned, namely sanctification from within. . . . She seemed anxious to impress me with some idea of the greatness of this gift of God to us, namely, His Divine Presence within our souls through sanctifying grace.”
 
This is the fifth of six articles on the Practice of the Divine Indwelling. They will be published each Thursday from the Feast of the Queenship of Mary to the 63rd Anniversary of Our Lady of America’s first apparition on September 26.

 
Our Lady of America told Sister Mildred that the Divine Indwelling “was her life and she lived it perfectly always conscious of His presence.” How do we practice the presence of the Divine Indwelling on a daily basis? How can we do this in our technological age with the noise of radios, televisions, computers and Iphones? We must have a site, silence and solitude. These are the three requisites of regularly practicing the presence of the Divine Indwelling on a daily basis. We also need method and discipline.
 
Site. We try to bring ourselves to meet Jesus daily for at least ten minutes at our site “in a desert place.” (See Mk. 6:31). We don’t have to look for real deserts in nature and we don’t have to go to convents, monasteries or churches. Our “deserts” are states of mind and heart. We can find our “desert” in our daily environment whether at home, work or at play. At home we can have a place that is set aside as a “desert” – alone in a quiet room or corner, the attic or the basement, etc. “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Mt. 6:6).

We can also find our “desert” in nature. “We can pray perfectly when we are out in the mountains or on a lake and we feel at one with nature. Nature speaks for us or rather speaks to us. We pray perfectly.” (Pope John Paul II, The Way of Prayer).

If we don’t have the luxury of a site and time for a ten minute meeting with Jesus in a “desert” we can still daily practice the presence of the Divine Indwelling in smaller “deserts of time” by a quick word, a glance or an awareness of Him. True spousal lovers accept these little acts of awareness. Love isn’t practiced only in the bedroom, but also by looking into one another’s eyes, holding hands or hugging. It’s the same way with practicing the presence of the Divine Indwelling. We can find these opportunities while walking, waiting in lines at stores, in automobiles, in housework or yard work or while taking a bath.

We can find our “desert” within and pray interiorly by little ejaculations and movements of our hearts praising, adoring and thanking God within. We remember that the Kingdom of God is within us. St. Joseph told Sister Mildred that the Holy Trinity has a “desire to be adored, honored, and loved within the kingdom, the interior kingdom of their hearts.” Do not forget your prayers. These may be as short as you wish if you find long prayers too hard, but do not forget them. Even a sign can be a prayer.” (Pope John XXIII, A Joyful Soul).

A good way of praying in these “deserts of time” during our ordinary activities is to make frequent “spiritual communions” with Jesus. These spiritually nourish us throughout our day and help us to become more aware of His presence at all times as our most intimate friend. We can make these spiritual communions by lifting up our hearts and minds to Him for a moment in a prayer like this: “Jesus, I believe that you are really and truly present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. I love you above all else, and I ardently desire to receive you into my soul through your Divine Indwelling. But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, please come spiritually into my heart. Remain with me Lord and let me never turn away from you!”

Solitude and Silence. When we have a regular “desert” site, we should go there in solitude and silence and practice contemplative prayer. “What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: ‘Contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.’ Contemplative prayer seeks Him ‘whom my soul loves.’ It is Jesus, and in Him, the Father. We seek Him, because to desire Him is always the beginning of love, and we seek Him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of Him and to live in Him.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2709).

Ten to thirty minutes alone in silence in a quiet place can be enough to bring ourselves into the presence of the Divine Indwelling to meet God dwelling within our temples of the Holy Spirit in the depths of our souls. We should go to our site alone, sit down and relax our bodies, quiet our minds, wills, thoughts and emotions. Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”(Mk. 6:31). “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10). As the prophet Elijah learned, God is not in the noise of wind, earthquake and fire but in “the still, small voice.” (See 1 Kings 19:12).

Pope John Paul II said, “In an oasis of quiet, especially before the wonderful spectacle of nature, one can easily experience how profitable silence is, a good that today is ever more rare. The many opportunities of relation and information that modern society offers sometimes run the risk of robbing time for recollection, to the point of rendering persons incapable of reflecting and praying. In reality, only in silence does man succeed in hearing in the depth of his conscience the voice of God, which really makes him free. It is an indispensable interior dimension of human life.” (Pope John Paul II, Address July 11, 2004).
           
Method and discipline. In the silence, we can speak interiorly and intimately with Jesus as with a close friend, expressing our love, adoration and thanks for Him and our own joys and sorrows, successes and failures and daily worries and troubles. After that, we can become quiet and come to an interior silence, stop talking to Him and begin to listen to Him. We probably won’t hear His voice, but we will predispose ourselves to His communication with the deepest part of our souls. Remember, if we open the door, He will come in and have supper with us. (See Rev. 3:20).

Then we can stop talking to ourselves and to Jesus. We can stop thinking about Jesus and about what He said and did. We can stop pleading with Him for help for ourselves and for others. What we can do is to make a gift to Him of a little bit of time by simply practicing alone in silence, His presence in the Divine Indwelling.

The silence is an interior silence as well as exterior. We can bring ourselves to this interior silence by repeating short prayer words such as, “Father I am yours,”  “Come Holy Spirit” or “Jesus.” We can use these “prayer words” to help bring our attention back when we become distracted. Distractions will come, but we choose to let the thoughts and images go by rather than to give them any attention.

We try to silence the interior noise, and, in the solitude of our being, in the depths of our soul, beyond the senses, we accept in faith the infinite mystery of the Divine Indwelling and adore Him. We use discipline, persevere in patience and, in pure naked faith, we let go and let God do the rest. We try to practice the presence of the Divine Indwelling in faith, but we don’t let ourselves become frustrated if we experience nothing. We are patient and wait upon the Lord. 

"The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2710).

Through the practice of the presence of the Divine Indwelling, we will attain the necessary balance between interior recollection and actions required by our state in life and avoid an exaggerated activism.

Through the practice of the presence of the Divine Indwelling, we will begin to live abandoned and full of confidence in His hands, free of worry and anxieties, as Jesus asked us. We will come to His promised peace that is beyond all understanding.

Through the practice of the presence of the Divine Indwelling, we will notice almost imperceptible small improvements in our spirituality: a little more patience, a little more kindness, a little more peace, etc. We must be patient with ourselves. God takes His time with us. We must allow Him to improve us at His pace and not ours. Eventually, we will be able to say with St Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20).

Through the practice of the presence of the Divine Indwelling, Jesus will use our arms and feet, He will speak through our mouths, His face will shine through ours and we will bring His peace to all.

Through the practice of the presence of the Divine Indwelling, we will open the doors of our heart to God's plan and we will grow in holiness, which is God’s will for everyone. “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” (1 Th. 4:3).  “Be holy, for I am holy.” (Lev. 11:44-45). “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48). Then we may become saints of the Divine Indwelling.

You too may become a saint of the Divine Indwelling by reading the final article in this series that will be published September 26. You may read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Here is what you can do to help Our Lady of America:


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  5. Sign the Petition for the Solemn Procession and Placement of the Statue of Our Lady of America in our National Shrine.

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  10. For more information on the story of Our Lady of America told in an interesting narrated slide show click here.
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