Religion must be based on certainty. If religion is to be devotion, and not a mere sentiment, if it is to be made the ruling principle of our lives, if our actions, one by one, and our daily conduct, are to be consistently directed towards an Invisible Being, we need something higher than a mere balance of arguments to fix and control our minds. Sacrifice of wealth , name, or position, faith and hope, self conquest, communion with the spiritual world, presuppose a real hold and habitual intuition of the objects of revelation, which is certitude under another name.
Without doubt the whole human race labours under a three-fold misery, which painfully oppresses everyone who lives in this region of the shadow of death, subject to the infirmities of the flesh and the assaults of temptation. For we are easily led astray; we soon weary of labour; we quickly yield to violence. We are deceived when we try to discern between good and evil; we faint and give up as we undertake a good work; if we try to resist evil, we are promptly cast down and overcome. Very necessary therefore is the coming of our Saviour. Very necessary is the presence of Christ for us so surrounded by dangers. God grant that he may not only come to us, but that he may also dwell in us by faith to enlighten our blindness. That he may remain with us by grace to assist our utter impotence, and stand by us with his power to protect and defend our fragility. If he remains with us surely we can do all things in him who strengthens us. If he is for us who can be against us?
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
It is wrong to assume we get closer to the numinous mystery of the deity by concentrating on beautiful or solemn realities. The mystery of God is accessible only to those who draw near to the poor.
Some say that monks should serve the world, so as not to be eating bread that they have not earned. But what does the service of a monk consist in, how is he to help the world. Well, the monk prays with tears for the whole world, and that is his principal task. And what is it that drives him to pray and weep for the whole world? In the Holy Spirit, Jesus the Son of God, gives the monk love: and his soul is in continual anguish for humanity for many are not seeking the salvation of their souls.
I have no other wish but to pray for others as I do for myself. Praying for others means: giving the blood of one's own heart. When the soul prays for the world, she knows better without newspapers how the whole earth is afflicted and what people's needs are. Prayer cleanses the mind and gives it a better vision of all things.
from the Prayer of Staretz Silouan
Blessed Jesus, give me stillness of soul in you. Let your mighty calm reign in me. Rule me, O King of gentleness, King of peace. Give me control, great power of self-control; control over my words, thoughts, actions. From all irritability, want of meekness, want of gentleness, dear Lord, deliver me. By your own deep patience, give me patience, stillness of soul in you. Make me in this, and in all, more and more like you. Amen.
Do you, my soul, rest always in the Lord, for he is the eternal rest of the saints.
Prayer of St. John of the Cross
All these miseries which criss-cross our lives are at bottom of little account...It is only the surface of the soul which has been slightly ruffled; the depths have remained untroubled. Alas for us that we do not live sufficiently in those depths where peace reigns, but far too much on the surface where we get disturbed. There you have the true secret of our Carthusian calm and joy. The daily upsets of hurt and wounded feelings are found no less among us than anywhere else. They form part of our existence here below, and we are still living in this world! But we do not let them distress us. A whole part of ourselves emerges from and dominates them, and all our endeavour is to live by this loftier part. It is there we preserve our serenity of soul; and it is there that our 'palm tree in the desert' grows, beneath the shade of which we rest 'in peace'.
A Carthusian, "Carthusian Joy"
I. In order to begin at all in the fullest service of God, the soul must propose to itself the life of love...As in divine love, so in human love: it is the ideal which is proposed, not the duty. And the ideal in natural relationship, as in the supernatural, is found in sacrifice. Self-giving is the only test, the only expression, the only means. Where this ideal is lowered - whether to meet either the standards of the world or the failures of the individual soul - the disposition towards charity suffers.
Dom Hubert Van Zeller, The Choice of God
II. Unless human relationships know the true meaning of compassio [to suffer with] and congaudio [to be joyful with] they can be no foundation for supernatural charity. It is only the man of faith who can be the man of charity. The man of no faith who loves another can be loving at best only a part of himself which he sees reflected in that other person; at worst he is loving a satisfaction which he feels he is able to get from that other person. It is impossible to love a person simply 'for that person's sake'. Always there is a shadow across the face. Nearly always it is our own shadow. Happy are we, and happy too is that other person, if the shadow is God's.