In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:1-5
The other day I was with Jansen in a session and he said some things that got me thinking. First, he said that in the beginning God had a thought, and the Holy Spirit waited until God spoke the words of the thought, and then like a sweeping wind once the word was spoken, the Holy Spirit moved into action.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Genesis 1:1-5
In this account from Genesis we see God speak, and the Holy Spirit springs into action. He said every time God has a thought, that when he speaks the word, the Holy Spirit gets immediately to acting to make the word happen. If only we listened when God spoke then we too would be filled with the Spirit and move into action. Instead we act without listening to God speak.
Later Jansen was talking about something else and he said that in the Garden Eve misquoted God. I looked and sure enough it was true. For God told Adam;
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” Genesis 2:15-17
But later in the Garden when the serpent is tempting Eve, her response is different;
He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’”Genesis 3:1-3
Did you catch it? The mistake she made? She said she couldn’t touch it, but God actually never said that. God said they couldn’t eat it. But He never said anything about touching it. After I left I asked myself, why is this important? It seems a small mistake, yet in that small mistake we see something much larger. I could probably write a whole other post on the implication of this in relation to the Tree of Life, but that is for another time.
It wasn’t a sin for her to misunderstand the command, but the question is WHY did she? Here in lies her even bigger mistake. Because perhaps the answer is, she wasn’t talking to GOD. Here we see Eve is not PRAYING which keeps you in right relationship with God.
Who does she talk to then? The serpent. She listens to the wrong Kingdom. And why was she so easily convinced? Why were seeds of doubt of God so easily acceptable? I had to ask myself, when was the last time she talked to God? So from the very beginning, we can see the importance of prayer in keeping our union with God.
I have often pondered in the past why the outcome for Mary was so different from the outcome for Eve. Two sinless women, what was the difference that made Mary say yes, when Eve said No? Afterall, Eve knew no evil and Mary did, so you would think Mary’s yes would be nearly impossible because Mary would be able to feel fear, where, to this point, Eve had not had the opportunity to feel it. What was the difference?
Where Eve should KNOW GOD, perhaps in the gift of everything around her she got complacent in her relationship, the way we often do when everything is comfortable and good. Comfort can breed apathy and luke warmness. Perhaps she felt no need to speak to Him because all is going well and she had already begun interiorly to rely on herself instead of God. This too could be why Adam gave in so easily as well, derelict in his duty to protect. Was he talking to God? We know He did, but had he stopped? It is often only in suffering that we bow down and begin crying out to God. What was it about Mary? Why was it so different for her? The answer lies in prayer, from the words of Mary herself.
We know Mary prayed because of her response to the Angel;
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
And later her proclamation to Elizabeth;
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
is mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” Luke 1:46-55
Those are not the words of a woman who isn’t praying. Mary was praying for the Messiah, and God answered her prayer FOR HER.
What does all of this mean for us? Right now we live in a very confused world. It is very hard to navigate. I see people who proclaim Pope Francis to be an anti-Pope, and still others who say if you disagree with the Pope at all you’re schismatic. How are we to know what direction to turn and what is actually true? How can we endure this Passion our church is undergoing?
The answer lies in your own prayer life and how grounded you are in the truths of the Magisterium and in the Sacraments. Eve was disobedient. Are you? Is there an area you disagree with church teaching on and try to conform it to the ways of the world? Do you feel conflicted inside by it? You see the world gives peace by trying to remove external conflict often at the expense of your interior. We justify our disobedience so we can disregard the interior conflict in our hearts in order to appease the exterior conflict around us. But the removal of external conflict isn’t the kind of peace God gives. God’s peace comes smack in the middle of the external conflict. He shows you what is true and it frees you interiorly so you see what’s really happening. It involves letting go of our own control and handing it over to God, who has complete control. It involves being obedient to God. This is an impossible task if you are not praying and making progress in prayer.
Saint Theresa of Avila says if you aren’t progressing in prayer you’re moving away from God. I don’t think we can do any better than the Carmelites in our understanding of prayer life. It isn’t mindful emptying, it is a relationship with a person. Dan Burke told us in a class I was taking at the Avila Institute, “it is a profound absurdity to think that Christian Meditation is concerned with thought management. Christian Meditation is concerned with orienting the mind and heart to God. The lover to the beloved.” TALK TO HIM. While we should take captive every thought in order to know which Kingdom is speaking, prayer is not a psychological exercise in altered consciousness. It is a relationship with a person who elevates you out of sin.
Don’t be complacent and neglect your prayer life or you will end up eating a poisonous fruit instead of the fruit of the vine. We see it all around us.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
It doesn’t matter if those around you are being disobedient, you SHOULD NOT BE. Your yelling at them won’t make them obedient. Letting God deal with them frees you. And aligning yourself with God’s Will gives you peace. Everyday we should be praying and examining our conscience. And I am not talking about going through a check list of questions. I am talking about closing your eyes and asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate you, the Holy Spirit to convict you. For him to show you WHO YOU ARE. So you can turn away from sin and move towards God. For each person who makes a movement away from sin the world gets better. Be that person even when you don’t understand what our leaders are doing.
Speak these WORDS to God, illuminate and convict me, Lord. And God will send the WORD like a sweeping wind over you and the Fire of God can fall upon you. And you can be set into action by the Holy Spirit who will help you to navigate through these times in a Godly way.
You see you and I don’t have to have all of the answers, but we do have to have right relationship with God. Don’t make the mistake Eve made. Don’t misunderstand God and then not speak to Him. Ask for the gift of understanding from the Holy Spirit, and let the Fire Fall upon you.
This is the time for Great Saints. Be one.