‘Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! Place your heart in the figure of divine substance! And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead itself through contemplation.’
St Clare of Assisi
We are all called to be holy to live a life that is pure. “Be holy as your Father is Holy” (Matt 5:48). We know that we cannot do this alone, but only with the help of God’s Word and the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. But we must be open to the call of the Spirit; we must be disposed to receive Him. To help us to do this we need to consecrate our lives to God. The word “consecrate,” means to “set aside”. To consecrate ourselves to God we must set ourselves aside for God, we must detach ourselves from the world and its many preoccupations and place ourselves in the presence of God. To live a consecrated life is not just for the priesthood or the religious who take vows, who leave the world behind them, it is also for the layperson that wishes to live a life for God living in the world.
We cannot always stay completely absorbed in God as some religious do, we all have lives which have to be lived around other people and occupations, but we can still consecrate everything we have and everything we do to God. All our actions, our work, our rest and our play, can be a beautiful gift to God when we place Him at the centre of our actions and make of them something holy.
I believe I live a consecrated life as a husband and a father, I don’t always do a good job, I often make mistakes like anyone, but I always try to place God at the centre of my life and bring my wife and children, friends and work into that relationship with God. It is not always easy, it is not always possible, I often fail, but it is enough that I try – and continue to try! As Mother Teresa tells us “we are not called to be successful, but to be faithful.”
If we are to “set ourselves aside” for God and include Him in everything then we need to give God our time and our commitment. I think the words of St Clare above are a very powerful reminder of how to do this:
“PLACE YOUR MIND BEFORE THE MIRROR OF ETERNITY!” Very often we can get our lives out of perspective: It was a strange thing, but when I first became ill with M.E. I could not cope with the illness robbing me of my abilities. Even before I became bed-bound, when I could still get out and about, I wanted to end my life. I remember telling a friend that I would rather be dead then live like this (I didn’t know God at that time.)
Later, after having the illness for over 16 years (and having a deep relationship with God) I discovered that my illness, although I was now completely bed-bound, was a gift rather than a curse, a blessing rather than a punishment. God had put my life in balance and revealed to me what was important in life. God had put things in perspective. We must always look at the bigger picture, the one with the “mirror of eternity” – the one with God in it!
“PLACE YOUR SOUL IN THE BRILLIANCE OF GLORY!” We have a soul and this soul is living in a fallen world, in a fallen creature, but that soul was created by God for something better: To love God and to be loved by Him, to become holy and live in His presence. Our souls cannot shine on their own, they must be placed in the “brilliance of glory” to be able to find the life they were created for. Taking ourselves out of the darkness of this world into the brilliance of God’s glory lifts us out of the darkness of error, into the light of truth. Jesus said, “I come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46) Jesus also told us that “the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine.” (John 15:4) We must place ourselves in the glory and power of Jesus Christ, if we are to be transformed and renewed.
“PLACE YOUR HEART IN THE FIGURE OF DIVINE SUBSTANCE!” The “figure of divine substance” is Jesus, but here St Clare does not tell us to ask Jesus to come into our hearts, but instead she asks us to place our hearts in Jesus. So our transformation in holiness is not simply sitting back and saying “give me your grace Lord.” It is up to us to seek Jesus and place ourselves in his “divine substance.”
Jesus tells us in the Gospels “Ask, and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be open to you.” (Matt 7:7) We have to search for God and His divine will with all our hearts. As Christians we are told, time and time again, how much God loves us – and it is true! But when we know and believe in God’s love, then the important question becomes ‘Do I love God?’ You have to ask yourself each day, ‘How have I loved God today? How have I revealed my love to Him?’
When Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment in the law He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all of your strength.” (Mark 12:29 & 30)
“AND TRANSFORM YOUR WHOLE BEING INTO THE IMAGE OF THE GODHEAD ITSELF THROUGH CONTEMPLATION.” This is our goal; this is the purpose of our life, to be transformed into the image of God. This is holiness. One of the best means we have of transforming our lives into God is through contemplation. St Padre Pio tells us that, “in books we search for God, in meditation we find Him.” It is so important to meditate upon God’s love, to call to mind, daily, what a wonderful and loving Father we have in heaven who sent His only Son to save us. In meditating upon the life and works of Jesus we grow to admire and imitate Him. In reading His Word we come to know and love Him. The Rosary is the ultimate prayer for meditating on the life of Jesus, in the 15 Mysteries that we meditate upon, we have many of the most important episodes of Jesus’ life, from the annunciation of His birth to His ascension into Heaven.
Let us consecrate our lives to God each day by setting ourselves aside for His service, to spend time in the company of our heavenly Father who so deserves all the love and worship we can give Him.
By Geoff Heggadon
“What a great laudable exchange: to leave the things of time for those of eternity, to chose the things of heaven for the goods of earth, to receive the hundred fold in place of the one, and to possess a blessed and eternal life.
St Clare of Assisi 1234