Portrait of the Soul Identified with Jesus
The following excerpt is taken from One with Jesus (1953), by Fr. Paul de Jaegher, SJ.
We will here sketch briefly the psychology of a soul whose spiritual life is summed up in this very simple idea: Living for Jesus; or, to be more exact: Allowing Jesus to live in me. This sketch will do more than lengthy reasoning to bring into relief the features of such a soul.
To begin with, let us see what her manner of prayer is, independently of the mystic state in which she may or may not find herself.
It is clear that such a soul no longer prays for her own sake as she did formerly; her prayer is not hers alone; it is, before all, the prayer of Jesus; one might say it is solely his.
She knows well that she does not pray alone, but that her Well-Beloved prays with her. Therefore it is in this disposition that she goes to prayer. With what joy does she now say “Our Father, who art in Heaven”! God is truly for her “our” Father, the Father of Jesus and her own Father.
Assisted by Jesus who lives in her, she instinctively and gradually reproduces the prayer of Jesus on the mountain. She forgets herself, she forgets her narrow interests and the pettiness which she showed in the past, and her prayer becomes expansive beyond measure. When she adores, her adoration is no longer the adoration offered by her own poor little self ; it is the immense worship which Jesus offers within her, in his own name, and in the name of his whole mystical body.
In Jesus and with Jesus she incessantly gives thanks, not so much for the benefits which she has personally received from God, but for those which God has lavished on Jesus and on all his mystical members. Above all, she loves God passionately for Jesus, and, in the Name of Jesus, she loves him also tor those countless millions of men who do not love him, or who, alas, love him too little.
The soul that lives in Jesus’ name is no longer weighed down by thoughts of self, making self the centre of her prayer; nor is her prayer concentrated as heretofore on the correction of her faults and failings; her prayer does not principally consist in begging for graces for herself and others. Her happiness is now to contemplate, to enjoy the infinite perfections of her God or of her well-beloved Jesus.
She loves to lose herself, to forget herself, turning towards God in loving contemplation and admiration of the divine perfections, as Jesus himself used to do in his prayer to his Father during his mortal life. For his divine perfections are henceforth her wealth, her treasure, and in them she will find all her happiness.
Her prayer to Our Blessed Lady is similarly affected: for here again it is Jesus who prays through her. She feels it unmistakably and cannot for a moment forget it. Jesus therefore gives her the love of a child. As formerly, rocked in his Mother’s arms, he loved to caress and embrace her, so in that soul and through her he caresses her still; he embraces her, or rests lovingly in her arms.
And Mary returns these caresses as she used to return those of her Child Christ. She makes herself so sweet, so delightful, so charming, so intimate, that there are times when the soul is transported with joy, for Mary now so vividly appears to be her mother, her true mother. Our Blessed Lady has become such a living reality to the soul that it seems to her she has never before really known a mother’s love. In the past, Mary meant nothing to her, but now she has truly assumed the office of a mother in her regard. “Ah! I did not know my mother,” the soul at times exclaims, “but now I have found her indeed.”
These are a few of the principal traits of the prayer of such a soul. But in reality her prayer is not confined to the fixed hours of formal converse with God. The whole day gradually becomes an uninterrupted prayer. Being fully conscious of the presence of Jesus and of his action in her soul, how could she fail to remember him?
Loathing as she does all personal interests and living solely for Jesus and in him, it would be impossible for her not to live continually, or nearly so, with Jesus. In the ardour of her love it seems to her that not to live with Jesus means not to live for him. His companionship alone gives charm and interest to all her actions, of whatever kind they be, and her eager desire to please her Beloved in all things does not permit her to lose sight of him for any length of time.
Who then can express the depth and tenderness of her intimacy with him? She does everything together with the Lover of her soul: she goes to each action hand in hand with him.
Besides, it is most probable that Jesus himself powerfully helps her to keep alive the remembrance and the consciousness of his Divine Presence. He makes her ascend step by step the degrees of mystical life and prayer, and bestows on her the precious gift of an “active quiet” ever increasing and ever more habitual.
Soon the most distracting occupations cease to absorb her; in her inmost heart she is always actually united with the Master, until she scarcely perceives any difference between the hours of prayer and the hours of work or recreation.
July 26, 2021