Drawing Ourselves Nearer to God

“For, we must first be raised up to It [The Trinity], as Source of good, by our prayers; and, by a nearer approach to It, be initiated as to the all good gifts which are established around It. For God is indeed present to all, but all are not present to Him. But then, when we have invoked It [The Trinity], by all pure prayers and unpolluted mind, and by our aptitude towards Divine Union, we also are present to It. For, It is not in a place, so that It should be absent from a particular place, or should pass from one to another. But even the statement that It is in all existing beings, falls short of Its infinitude (which is) above all, and embracing all. Let us then elevate our very selves by our prayers to the higher ascent of the Divine and good rays,—-as if a luminous chain being suspended from the celestial heights, and reaching down hither, we, by ever clutching this upwards, first with one hand, and then with the other, seem indeed to draw it down, but in reality we do not draw it down, it being both above and below, but ourselves are carried upwards to the higher splendours of the luminous rays. Or, as if, after we have embarked on a ship, and are holding on to the cables reaching from some rock, such as are given out, as it were, for us to seize, we do not draw the rock to us, but ourselves, in fact, and the ship, to the rock. Or to take another example, if any one standing on the ship pushes away the rock by the sea shore, he will do nothing to the stationary and unmoved rock, but he separates himself from it, and in proportion as he pushes that away, he is so far hurled from it. Wherefore, before everything, and especially theology, we must begin with prayer, not as though we ourselves were drawing the power, which is everywhere and nowhere present, but as, by our godly reminiscences and invocations, conducting ourselves to, and making ourselves one with, it.” St. Dionysius the Areopagite, On the Divine Names, Chapter 3. Section 1.

St. Dionysius points our attention to the true reality of prayer. Prayer is not simply fulfilling a rule nor is it done simply because it is ‘the right thing to do’. Prayer is that which draws us nearer to God, Who is ever present to us. Prayer is the way wherein we live the sacramental life of the Church and re-present ourselves to God whereas our wayward actions and desires had us in rapture of ourselves. On the sea of the spiritual life God is the rock, ever present, that can cast our line to that we might reach the goal. Let us conduct ourselves unto God that we may enter into the union for which we were created.

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