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The Christian Way to Union with God

the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

13. To find the right "way" of prayer, the Christian should consider what has been said earlier regarding the prominent features of the "way of Christ," whose "food is to do the will of him who sent [him], and to accomplish his work" (Jn 4:34). Jesus lives no more intimate or closer

a union with the Father than this, which for him is continually translated into deep prayer. By the will of the Father he is sent to mankind, to sinners. to his very executioners, and he could not be more intimately united to the Father than by obeying his will. This did not in any way prevent him, however, from also retiring to a solitary place during his earthly sojourn to unite himself to the Father and receive from him new strength for his mission in this world. On Mount Tabor, where his union with the Father was manifest, there was called to mind his passion (cf. Lk 9:31), and there was not even a consideration of the possibility of remaining in "three booths" on the Mount of the Transfiguration. Contemplative Christian prayer always leads to love of neighbor, to action and to the acceptance of trials, and precisely because of this it draws one close to God.

14. In order to draw near to that mystery of union with God, which the Greek Fathers called the "divinization" of man, and to grasp accurately the manner in which this is realized, it is necessary in the first place to bear in mind that man is essentially a creature, and remains such for eternity, so that an absorbing of the human self into the divine self is never possible, not even in the highest states of grace. However, one must recognize that the human person is created in the "image and likeness" of God, and that the archetype of this image is the Son of God, in whom and through whom we have been created (cf. Col 1:16). This archetype reveals the greatest and most beautiful Christian mystery: from eternity the Son is "other" with respect to the Father and yet, in the Holy Spirit, he is "of the same substance." Consequently this otherness, far from being an ill, is rather the greatest of goods. There is otherness in God himself, who is one single nature in three Persons, and there is also otherness between God and creatures, who are by nature different. Finally, in the Holy Eucharist, as in the rest of the sacraments--and analogically in his works and in his words--Christ gives himself to us and makes us participate in his divine nature, without nevertheless suppressing our created nature, in which he himself shares through his Incarnation.

15. A consideration of these truths together brings the wonderful discovery that all the aspirations which the prayer of other religions expresses are fulfilled in the reality of Christianity beyond all measure, without the personal self or the nature of a creature being dissolved or disappearing into the sea of the Absolute. "God is love" (I Jn 4:8). This profoundly Christian affirmation can reconcile perfect "union" with the "otherness" existing between lover and loved, with eternal exchange and eternal dialogue. God is himself this eternal exchange and we can truly become sharers of Christ, as "adoptive sons" who cry out with the Son in the Holy Spirit, Abba, Father." In this sense, the Fathers are perfectly correct in speaking of the divinization of man who, having been incorporated into Christ, the Son of God by nature, may by his grace share in the divine nature and become a "son in the Son." Receiving the Holy Spirit, the Christian glorifies the Father and really shares in the Trinitarian life of God.

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As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."