Divine Intimacy Introduction and Forward | St. Benedict's

Divine Intimacy Introduction and Forward


INTRODUCTION TO THE 1963 EDITION

In these times when the lines of battle are being drawn more and more clearly between the forces of religion and those of atheism, we see the devotees of each of these systems calling upon every resource at their disposal. Before one can really fight for a cause, he must be fully convinced of the truth of it. He must ponder its ideals and adapt his thoughts and actions to it.

We can be sure that the fervent Communist gives serious thought and frequent consideration to the ideals for which he is sacrificing himself. Only in this way can he fire his zeal to continue the struggle. But we, as Christians, have a much greater cause to fight for. It is greater precisely because it is true and divine. How mistaken we are if we neglect to increase our knowledge of and zeal for our Faith. We can hardly expect to remain fervent and apostolic Christians unless we make it a practice to ponder the truths of our holy religion, to strive to identify our thoughts with those of Christ, our Leader, and to transform those thoughts into effective action in His service.

This book is a mine of inspirational thoughts, an excellent book of meditations which aims at helping us to review and concentrate on the treasures of our Faith, so that an intelligent appreciation thereof will become a significant factor in our thinking and acting. It should also prompt us to be one with Christ and to bring about the most intimate union that is possible in this life between souls and God. The author of Divine Intimacy, Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., was one of the outstanding Discalced Carmelite authors and lecturers of modern times. A devout son of St. John of the Cross, he devoted himself generously and tirelessly to the task of promoting that desired union, both in himself and in others. His book of meditations for each day of the year is an outstanding part of his effort. Faithful to these meditations from day to day, we shall know Christ and live Christ, absorb His teachings more fully and become more dedicated to His service. Our zeal for the cause of Christ will then equal nay, far outstrip that of the atheistic Communist. He meditates on false doctrines, the work of Godless men, which lead him to become less than a man. The Christian meditates on the Gospel of Christ, which leads him to become something more than a man to share in an intimate manner in the life of God Himself to become Godlike, or in the words of St. John of the Cross, God by participation.

Richard Cardinal Cushing
Archbishop of Boston


FOREWARD

The extraordinary success with which the volume, Divine Intimacy, has been received among clergy and religious, as well as among those in the world who are consecrated to God, those engaged in Catholic Action, and the faithful in general, is a fitting crown to the author's life, one which was permeated with the desire for intimate union with God and the apostolate of fostering the interior life.

The late Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen entered the Order of Discalced Carmelites in Bruges, Belgium, in 1910, at the age of seventeen.

The First World War (1914-18) forced him to continue his study of philosophy and theology in Ireland. He was ordained priest in 1919. From 1919 to 1926, while teaching philosophy in the Seminary of the Order at Courtrai in Belgium, he had the opportunity of completing his own studies at the nearby University of Louvain, and finally in Rome, where he attended the Pontifical Institute, the Angelicum.

From 1926 to 1936 Father Gabriel was spiritual director of the young theologians at the International College of St. Teresa in the city where, at the same time, he was teaching theology. From 1931 until his death (March 15, 1953), he dedicated himself especially to the study of spiritual theology. During this last period of his life, his remarkable talents as a teacher and spiritual director were clearly evidenced, both in the conferences on Carmelite spirituality, which he gave in Rome and in the larger cities of Italy, as well as in his numerous publications on St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and St. Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus.

He was also a member of the Roman Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas and a Consultor of the Sacred Congregation of Rites.

By his lectures and writings, this great religious and eminent spiritual director became an ardent leader in the spiritual movement in Italy.

In 1941 he founded the review Vita Carmelitana, the title of which was changed in 1947 to Revista di Vita Spirituale. This review continues to propagate the sound doctrine of the spiritual life that is needed more than ever today.

Father Gabriel was profoundly aware of the spiritual needs of our times, and he also understood the special mission of Carmel in the Church, that of leading souls to a life of intimate union with God by means of the practice of mental prayer. Thus he conceived the idea of a book which, taking its inspiration from the great teachers of Carmel, would set forth the whole doctrine of the spiritual life in the form of simple, but solid, meditations a book which would introduce souls to intimate prayer.

Divine Intimacy, therefore, seeks to arrange daily meditations in such a way that in the course of one year the most important problems of the spiritual life and all the supernatural realities met with in the interior life will have been reviewed (Preface).

To promote his work, Father Gabriel asked the assistance of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Monastery of St. Joseph in Rome. To this end, he furnished them with the vast amount of material at his disposal (his publications, the texts of his conferences, instructions, sermons, and so forth). He then outlined the plan for the whole book and directed the work on it. This collaboration with his spiritual daughters in Carmel proved truly providential. After the untimely death of the renowned master, the Nuns, who were in possession of all his manuscripts, were able to bring to a happy conclusion the publication of their venerated Father's work.

The first edition of Divine Intimacy, received with great enthusiasm by Christians everywhere, was quickly exhausted. Translations into several languages were requested. Numerous letters from prelates, directors of seminaries, superiors of religious houses, priests, and the laity have testified to the benefit received from this work.

May this English edition of Divine Intimacy awaken many souls to the need of a solid interior life and lead them to close union with God, the source of a really fruitful apostolate in the Church.

Fr. Benjamin of the Holy Trinity, O.C.D.
First Definitor General of the Discalced Carmelites