A saint is simply a human being whose soul has ... grown up to its full stature, by full and generous response to its environment, God. He has achieved a deeper, bigger life than the rest of us, a more wonderful contact with the mysteries of the Universe; a life of infinite possibility, the term of which he never feels that he has reached.
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The soul's house is not built on such a convenient plan; there are few soundproof partitions in it. Only when the conviction - not merely the idea - that the demand of the Spirit, however inconvenient, rules the whole of it, will those objectionable noises die down which have a way of penetrating into the nicely furnished little oratory and drowning all the quieter voices by their din.
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But so many Christians are like deaf people at a concert. They study the programme carefully, believe every statement make in it, speak respectfully of the quality of the music, but only really hear a phrase now and again. So they have no notion at all of the mighty symphony which fills the universe, to which our lives are destined to make their tiny contribution, and which is the self-expression of the Eternal God.
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As the beautiful does not exist for the artist and poet alone""though these can find in it more poignant depths of meaning than other men""so the world of Reality exists for all; and all may participate in it, unite with it, according to their measure and to the strength and purity of their desire.
Never let yourself think that because God has given you many things to do for Himpressing routine jobs, a life full up with duties and demands of a very practical sort---that all these need separate you from communion with Him. God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament; however unexpected its outward form may be receive Him in every sight and sound, joy, pain, opportunity and sacrifice.
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It is far easier, though not very easy, to develop and preserve a spiritual outlook on life than it is to make our everyday actions harmonize with that spiritual outlook. For though we may renounce the world for ourselves, refuse the attempt to get anything out of it, we have to accept it as the sphere in which we are to co-operate with the Spirit, and try to do the Will.
Do not entertain the notion that you ought to advance in your prayer. If you do, you will only find you have put on the brake instead of the acceleration. All real progress in spiritual things comes gently, imperceptibly, and is the work of God. Our crude efforts spoil it. Know yourself for the childish, limited and dependent soul you are. Remember that the only growth which matters happens without our knowledge and that trying to stretch ourselves is both dangerous and silly. Think of the Infinite Goodness, never of your own state.
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As the genuine religious impulse becomes dominant, adoration more and more takes charge. 'I come to seek God because I need Him', may be an adequate formula for prayer. 'I come to adore His splendour, and fling myself and all that I have at His feet', is the only possible formula for worship.
As the beautiful does not exist for the artist and poet alone-though these can find in it more poignant depths of meaning than other men-so the world of Reality exists for all; and all may participate in it, unite with it, according to their measure and to the strength and purity of their desire.
In mysticism that love of truth which we saw as the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere, and takes on the assured aspect of a personal passion. Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the disconcerting language of first-hand experience, not the neat dialectic of the schools. Hence whilst the Absolute of the metaphysicians remains a diagram -impersonal and unattainable-the Absolute of the mystics is lovable, attainable, alive.
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Idealism, though just in its premises, and often daring and honest in their application, is stultified by the exclusive intellectualism of its own methods: by its fatal trust in the squirrel-work of the industrious brain instead of the piercing vision of the desirous heart. It interests man, but does not involve him in its processes: does not catch him up to the new and more real life which it describes. Hence the thing that matters, the living thing, has somehow escaped it; and its observations bear the same relation to reality as the art of the anatomist does to the mystery of birth.
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Therefore it is to a practical mysticism that the practical man is here invited: to a training of his latent faculties, a bracing and brightening of his languid consciousness, an emancipation from the fetters of appearance, a turning of his attention to new levels of the world. Thus he may become aware of the universe which the spiritual artist is always trying to disclose to the race. This amount of mystical perception-this 'ordinary contemplation, ' as the specialists call it-is possible to all men: without it, they are not wholly conscious, nor wholly alive. It is a natural human activity, no more involving the great powers and sublime experiences of the mystical saints and philosophers than the ordinary enjoyment of music involves the special creative powers of the great musician.
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Nothing in all nature is so lovely and so vigorous, so perfectly at home in its environment, as a fish in the sea. Its surroundings give to it a beauty, quality, and power which are not its own. We take it out, and at once a poor, limp dull thing, fit for nothing, is gasping away its life. So the soul, sunk in God, living the life of prayer, is supported, filled, transformed in beauty, by a vitality and a power which are not its own.
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