â€œIs it not one of the â€˜signs of the timesâ€™ that in today's world, despite widespread secularization, there is a widespread demand for spirituality, a demand which expresses itself in large part as a renewed need for prayer? Other religions, which are now widely present in ancient Christian lands, offer their own responses to this need, and sometimes they do so in appealing ways. But we who have received the grace of believing in Christ, the revealer of the Father and the Savior of the world, have a duty to show to what depths the relationship with Christ can lead.
The great mystical tradition of the Church of both East and West has much to say in this regard. It shows how prayer can progress, as a genuine dialogue of love, to the point of rendering the person wholly possessed by the divine Beloved, vibrating at the Spirit's touch, resting filially within the Father's heart. This is the lived experience of Christ's promise: â€˜He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to himâ€™ (Jn 14:21). It is a journey totally sustained by grace, which nonetheless demands an intense spiritual commitment and is no stranger to painful purifications (the "dark night"). But it leads, in various possible ways, to the ineffable joy experienced by the mystics as â€˜nuptial unionâ€™. How can we forget here, among the many shining examples, the teachings of Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila?â€ (Novo Millennio Ineuente, 33)
Our Holy Father points out that it is not a matter of inventing a new program: Â Â â€œThe program already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever.â€ (Novo Millennio Ineuente, 29)This great mystical tradition is our source here at St. Ignatius and St. Maryâ€™s. We draw from this overflowing well-spring, and we invite others to join us in this journey of discovery and growth in holiness. No elaborate plan or program, but â€œa simple wayâ€ that has been with us throughout the centuries.