When the Jesus tells us to go into our inner room to prayer (Mt. 6: 6) the reality of his words are lived out through the act of meditation. However, that inner room is part of a bigger home and one can never remain isolated in that room. The final part of Carmelite meditation is the movement from the inner room of prayer (the heart) into the outer world where the lord continues to meet us via our neighbors. The love of the Spirit, which has been poured forth into our hearts (Rom. 5:5), is never a private gift. It is a gift that we grow in through meditation. Through growth in it that love will always over flow and spilling out into the world helping it to see its creator and lord. Christian mediation, via the Carmelite Tradition, always has the external focus understood through the call to save souls, a salvation that comes through an encounter with Christ. The movement from the interior to the exterior is the final brush stroke that St. Teresa of Jesus used to finish her master piece The Interior Castle. She uses the image of the holy sisters Mary and Martha to instruct her sisters about this outer zeal for souls as the final aspect to Carmel’s life of prayer.
The Oven’s Heat
The movement to an outer zeal requires the heart to be pointed in the necessary direction. Our own desires and appetites will always cause a misdirection of this outer zeal negatively impacting whatever the apostolic work the person may engage in through their lives. By understanding this danger of misdirection coupled with purification through the process of meditation the unifying underpinning of Carmelite meditation is revealed. Christian hearts are called to follow the same rhythm of the Sacred Heart of Christ. Meditation aids in the ability to hear that sacred heart beat and become harmonized to it. The reality of this harmonized is expressed through a tradition called ejaculatory prayers, or little prayers (a sentence of two), that rise in the heart for God. These prayers are carried throughout the day following meditation as a way of guiding and directing the heart through the day. These prayers, as a gift from the Spirit revealed through meditation, are a means of supplying the necessary spiritual nourishment for sous through out the day. Souls of not merely the one that practices meditation but for all that are in contact with it. This nourishment for others is like an oven. One doesn’t need to be in the oven to feel its heat just by being around it one begins to feel it. A heart on fire with the Spirit of God radiates this heat of love that impacts all around it. Meditation is simply a means of stoking that fire so its heat can increase.
Intimacy to Mission
Thus, we can see the intrinsic relationship between the interior work of the soul through meditation and the external act of evangelization. The flame of God’s love doesn’t need our protection. Through our desire to protect it we in turn smother it. One cares for the fire of love through sharing it. This act of opening the intimacy that comes about through meditation the mission of Christ to make the father known is continually perpetuated. Intimacy with the lord always leads to the mission of making him known, because who would hide the light of a lamp under a wicker basket (Lk. 11:33). Joy grows through sharing. That reality of joy is lived out in the life of Christ when he shares what is necessary for the apostles at the Last Supper (John 15). One of the things that animates his action is the desire that his “… joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” The fullness of joy only comes about in the act of sharing the source of it. This act of sharing the source of joy, Jesus Christ, is the necessary point of completeness in the practice of meditation because at its heart Christian meditation is about the cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit. A fruit that is always meant to be shared and thus strengthen the people that the lord has made and called unto himself.
(Part seven: The sixth Step of Meditation in Carmel from the Devotio Moderna)
It is impossible to imagine how happy I am. I feel peace, so intimate a joy that I tell myself that if people in the world would see this happiness, all would run to shut themselves in convents. ~ St. Teresa of Jesus of the Andes (Letter 133)