“The Father draws.” Attraction to God is a great mystery. Why are some drawn to Him and others not? Why do we sometimes feel attracted to God, sometimes repulsed in general by spirituality? Do I have any control over my attraction to God? Does God simply not bother attracting some people? What if God attracts my mind but not my heart?
We know that even if God somehow mysteriously does the attracting and the drawing, we have the freedom to go along with it or not. Jesus has opened the way for us to God, butHe reveals that we wouldn’t listen to Him if the Father Himself wasn’t causing our hearts to open to what He has to say and what He does. The love of God is so pure and holy that its seed is planted within us hidden from what we can experience with our senses. We can either be frustrated at not being able to feel, sense, or understand our attraction to God, or we can begin to cooperate with it by believing in it. Believing in our attraction to God actually opens our hearts to love much more deeply than if we understood or felt an attraction to God. As St. Therese said, “I believe because I want to believe.1”
And you say that the Son of God is subject by reason of weakness—the Son, to whom the Father brings men and women that he may raise them up in the last day. Does this seem in your eyes to be subjection where the kingdom is prepared for the Father and the Father brings it to the Son? There is no place for perversion of words since the Son gives the kingdom to the Father and none is preferred before him. For as the Father gives to the Son, and the Son, again, to the Father, here are plain proofs of love and regard: seeing that they [i.e., Father and Son] give to each other that neither he who receives obtains, as it were, what was another’s, nor he that gives loses anything.2
Do not think that you are drawn against your will. The soul is drawn also by love.… And in case someone says to us, “How can I believe with the will if I am drawn?” I say that it is not enough to be drawn by the will; you are drawn even by delight. What is it to be drawn by delight? “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” There is a certain craving of the heart to which that bread of heaven is sweet. If the poet could say, “Every person is drawn by his own pleasure”—not necessity but pleasure; not obligation but delight—how much more boldly ought we to say that a person is drawn to Christ when he delights in the truth, when he delights in blessedness, delights in righteousness, delights in everlasting life? Do not the bodily senses have their pleasures, and the soul its?… Give me one who loves, who longs, who burns, who sighs for the source of his being and his eternal home, and he will know what I mean.…
For if earthly objects, when put before us, draw us … how much more shall Christ, when revealed by the Father? For what does the soul long for more than truth?… Here, we can more easily be hungered than satisfied, especially if we have good hope.… There, we shall be filled.… This is why he adds, “And I will raise him up at the last day,” as if he said, he shall be filled with that for which he now thirsts at the resurrection of the dead, for I will raise him up.3
This is also what Christ has done in order to lead us into a closer friendship and to show his love for us. He has allowed those who desire him not only to see him but even to touch, and eat him, and fix their teeth in his flesh and to embrace him and satisfy all their love. Let us then return from that table like lions breathing fire, having become terrible to the devil, ruminating on our head and on the love that he has shown for us. 4
But the sacrament is one thing, the virtue of the sacrament another. Many a one receives from the altar and perishes in receiving; eating and drinking his own damnation, as the apostle said.47 … To eat the heavenly bread spiritually then is to bring innocence to the altar. Though your sins are daily, at least let them not be deadly. Before you go to the altar, attend to the prayer you repeat, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” If you forgive, you are forgiven: approach confidently; it is bread, not poison.… None then that eat of this bread shall die.5
He might easily have come to us in his immortal glory, but in that case we could never have endured the greatness of the glory. Therefore it happened that he, who was the perfect bread of the Father, offered himself to us as milk, [because we were] like infants. He did this when he appeared as a man, that we, being nourished, as it were, from the breast of his flesh, and having, by such a course of milk-nourishment, become accustomed to eat and drink the Word of God, may be able also to contain in ourselves the Bread of immortality, which is the Spirit of the Father.6
- “When I sing of the happiness of Heaven and the eternal possession of God, I do not feel any joy therein, for I sing only of what I wish to believe. Sometimes, I confess, a little ray of sunshine illumines my dark night, and I enjoy peace for an instant, but later, the remembrance of this ray of light, instead of consoling me, makes the blackness thicker still.” Thérèse of Lisieux, S., & Taylor, T. N. (1912). The Story of a Soul (p. 142). London: Burns and Oates.
- On the Christian Faith 2.12.104.
- Tractates on the Gospel of John 26.4–6.
- Homilies on the Gospel of John 46.3.
- TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 26.11–12. Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2006). John 1–10 (pp. 236–237). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- AGAINST HERESIES 4.38.1. Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2006). John 1–10 (p. 237). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.