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  The Way to God by Dom Hubert Van Zeller

  It is one of the most difficult things in the world to keep our perspectives right, to maintain the balance so that the outward ministers to the inward and the inward purifies the outward. The history of religion bears witness to man's tendency to externalize what is essentially an interior reality, and then to rationalize his action. Having traded the inward obligation for a parade of outward observance, man finds every reason in the book to defend his choice.

This was what was wrong with the priestly life in our Lord's time. It was this substitution of the letter for the spirit, which our Lord attacked when on earth and has been attacking ever since. But we still go on making the same mistake. We value the display of religion more than religion itself. We think of charity in terms of gifts and numbers and costs: we do not instinctively think of it in terms of Christ's love.

The spirit of love needs care and constant orientation. In fallen humanity love has to be re-purified, re-directed. Love too easily mistakes its proper object, and in consequence needs the light, which comes from the life of prayer. Nothing so clearly restates the postulates of love as prayer.

Prayer shows the soul what pitfalls are to be avoided and where inconsistencies have crept in. Prayer preserves the sense of spiritual proportion.

With so many hazards, misconceptions, faulty approaches it may be wondered how anyone manages to steer his way to God. The answer is that of course he cannot. The Holy Spirit steers the way for him. The most a man can do is to avoid the more obvious traps and then leave it to God to draw him along the way.

Nobody who hands himself over to the unrestricted work of grace has anything to fear. The mistakes, which he makes along the way, will be errors of judgment and not acts of malice or self-determination. It is when he allows ideas of his own to prevail that he loses direction. Anyone who is faithful to prayer and who tries to love other people in Christ will be moving in a straight line towards God. The way may be rough but it will not be crooked.

Doubts will come along, temptations may seem to dominate the horizon, there will be periods of exhaustion and disgust, temporal worries may leave too little room for the absolute trust which is the condition of the spiritual life, but so long as there is the genuine desire to keep up one's prayer and extend one's charity the life of Christ is reproducing itself in the soul.

Condensed from Ideas For Prayer —200 suggestions by Dom Hubert van Zeller 1966 Templegate Publishers, Springfield, Illinois.

  Read other articles of spiritual enlightenment in the October 1999 edition of the San Francisco Charismatics or return to the Main Menu by clicking on the blue.