Mother Agnes: “Many prophets and saints over time have been grappling in the depths of the mystery of unity with God [which is the goal of the contemplative]. All of them found out that only through Jesus Christ, the path is secure. There is no contemplation without the coverage of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Any contemplation conducted outside of the coverage of His name will lead us to a false spirit. [The Devil] is so intelligent that he will make us feel very good while he’s leading us astray from the path of life. We are called to eat from the tree of life. We are called to live in the intimacy of the Lord, inside the Trinity.
In 2010 Mother Agnes Mariam gave a 3 day workshop on contemplation to American Protestants who had devoted their life to preaching the Word to Muslims. Their women even dressed like Muslims to gain easier access to Islam communities to talk to them about Christ. In these lectures she encouraged these men and women to enter into contemplation, which is “like the queen of the ministries” because it is based on love. In these series we will present to you the full content of this workshop.
Introduction - Unity with God
Mother Agnes: “Many prophets and saints over time have been grappling in the depths of the mystery of unity with God [which is the goal of the contemplative]. All of them found out that only through Jesus Christ, the path is secure. There is no contemplation without the coverage of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Any contemplation conducted outside of the coverage of His name will lead us to a false spirit. [The Devil] is so intelligent that he will make us feel very good while he’s leading us astray from the path of life. We are called to eat from the tree of life. We are called to live in the intimacy of the Lord, inside the Trinity. Peter says, “We are called to be divinized“, “to partake in the divine nature” (θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως, 2 Peter 1:4). This is the promise of theosis, to be divinized through Jesus Christ. We are called to the cross, to die with Christ and to be resurrected with him. The tree of life of Genesis becomes the cross of crucifixion in the New Testament, which Peter and the apostles simply call ‘the tree’ (In Greek ‘to xylon’).
The cross is the tree; and the fruit of this tree is eternal life. ‘O Jesus, you are the tree of life, you are the very fruit of the tree of life as you have said, “The one who eats my body and drinks my blood has eternal life” (John 6:54). And we know, Lord, that whatever we can do in this life, whatever works we can do in ministry, whoever we can turn to, whatever we can learn, whatever we can endure, the most necessary for you is that we remain in you.
Saint Paul puts a clear distinction between the different ministries and charity itself. Love is gold, the other ministries are silver. Charity will remain forever but all the other ministries—even faith—will disappear in eternal life (1Cor 13:8), because when we will face the Lord we will not need faith. We will not need hope when we receive our inheritance. Contemplation is a way of life. It is a relationship based on love: we allow our attention to be turned toward God. How do we do that? “My son, give me your heart” (Prov 23:26). Love turns us to him, and we give even when we think we do not have, when we have nothing. Charity is the most natural attraction and the surest way for our attention to be turned to Jesus during contemplation. And because contemplation is based on love, it has the primacy over the other ministries: It’ is like the queen of the ministries: union with God.
Saint Paul says that when a man is united to a woman “the two shall become one flesh but when someone is united to God they become one spirit” (1Co 6:16-17). And the Spirit of the Lord wants to guide us. He can guide us from outside, ‘Do this’, ‘Do not do this’ but he can also guide us as a partner, from our inside, to be one in the same being. Paul says that we are the same being with Jesus Christ because we are moved by the same spirit (1 Co 12:4-13). So contemplation is not just a kind of self-pleasing act, a private relationship with God, like a devotion where we can feel a kind of comfort; it is the center of our life. Entering into the silence of contemplation is to arrive at the true center of our lives if we really want to build our lives on the path the Lord has laid down for us.
Let us begin this journey and come to know where this path starts that leads us to the Beloved. The Lord says that the kingdom of God is inside of us. The path is not exterior, it is not something material—the kingdom will not come ‘from here’ or ‘from there’— it is inside of us: paradise is inside of us.
The Lord doesn’t want to deal with people who are more or less with him. He wants people who are ready to die for him. Jesus says, “Pray always without growing weary” (Lk 18:1). To enter into contemplation is to die every moment, every minute, to die to thoughts of the past and of the future, and to die to all that is not at this very moment intimacy with the Lord. We cannot come to the presence of the Lord if many things are diverting us.
When we start to enter into contemplation we realize that we are divided: we desire to be in His presence but many things attract us, calling us to go here there and everywhere. That’s why the Fathers have acquired methods that are really accurate for achieving union with the Beloved. These methods are inspired by the Scriptures and by the experiences of holy people who were filled with the Holy Spirit.
So we will divide this workshop into 2 major parts:
- Remembering the Scripture as the foundation of contemplation
- “Know yourselves”: the title of the interior journey of meeting the Lord. [We shall subdivide this interior journey in the explanation of the seven interior mansions as elaborated by Saint Theresa of Avila].
 ξύλον (xylon), “tree” refers to the cross upon which Jesus died. cf. Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Gal 3:13, 1Pe 2:24. Tree of life Rev 2:7, 22:2,14, Gen 2:9, 3:22.
 See especially John 6:56, 15:4, Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you.”
 Jesus says, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23). If God’s dwelling is heaven then the heart that carries God is carrying heaven. Blessed Elizabeth of the Holy Trinity and other saints have remarked thus.