The inner journey

We can think of our inner journey as being a pilgrimage to the Holy of Holies within us; the place where we are in union with God – who is love – and at the centre of our being; the “type” for which we read about in the Old Testament, where God dwelt in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. At the moment of the death of Christ on the cross, the curtain of the Holy of Holies in the Temple spontaneously tore from top to bottom, and we understand that from that moment nearly 2000 years ago, God is no longer thought of as being separate from us but is with us and lives in us, just as we live in God. Our desire is to be aware of God and to be in union with God.

At Mass, when we reach the point of invitation to Communion, we say “Lord I am not worthy to enter under your roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”  We are reminded of the centurion who approached Jesus in Capernaum, asking for help. His much loved faithful servant was paralyzed and suffering. The centurion, with great trust and humility said to Jesus, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” (Matthew 8:8). Jesus was very struck by the centurion’s faith, and with this wonderful example, we are invited to trust in Jesus and in the power of his word. 

At communion, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament enters into our physical being in a particular way. Let us imagine we are going on an inner journey to our Holy of Holies where we are aware of the presence of God, and think of it as being like “entering under the roof” of our home/ body. We know God is in the heart of our house, and we enter through the doorway into a hallway, which is perhaps full of furniture, with pictures on the walls and places to hang coats and put umbrellas. Let us think that these physical things represent the obstacles of thoughts, actions and feelings we have to try to ignore or let go of if we are to continue to press on towards our goal. 

These objects along the way try hard to claim our energy and attention. Perhaps we cannot resist the urge to stop and look at the mail or at pictures on the wall, remembering who gave them to us or recalling the place or people depicted. Maybe they trigger memories of past hurts or sadness, anger, distress or happy times and we forget our intention was to go to our Holy of Holies – we become distracted with thoughts, feelings and reactions.

We then realize that the only way we have any chance of proceeding along this hallway and getting to our inner sanctum or holy place and encounter God, is to resist and ignore all urges to giving obstacles and distractions our attention; we have to let go of our desire to interact with them. To do this we may have to forgive people, let go of grievances and past hurts, forgive ourselves for mistakes made and hurts we have inflicted on others. We need to trust in God like the centurion, trusting that if we ask for God’s help, we too will receive help and healing if it is his will.

 We realize perhaps that not only do we benefit from detaching ourselves from distractions but by replacing them with intentional focus on God. We can do this in prayer – which might be anything from discursive prayer similar to a conversation with a close and trusted friend, to a devotional prayer, psalm, hymn or contemplation – something that will focus us on God and replace our worldly concerns. 

The inner journey is our internal pilgrimage to God realizing that it is through emptying of self and proceeding with prayer and attentive listening that we make space for becoming aware of God – for he is of course there with us all the time, if we only paid attention. Through trusting in the process of this inner journey by asking God for his aid, we are able to co-operate more fully with his will and outwardly manifest the fruits of this inner journey. The inner space we have achieved with God’s help gives us the foundation within ourselves to become active outwardly in the world around us for the service and benefit of others as we have the space and peace to listen and hear God within, and thus discern his will for us, becoming his hands and feet, eyes, mouth and ears on this earth.

Rosie Bradshaw TOC

Weekly Reflections

Steps on the Journey - weekly Reflections from Carmel
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