To dwell: it means not only to arrive, settle in and remain, but it means, on account of all that: to change one's mentality by the very fact of a presence equipped with its own. When the Visitor is Christ, the Presence is not an outsider for us. He knows us, weighs us, and loves us.
Receive Him with the mentality of a family member: "Jam non dicam servos meos sed amicos meos.–I do not call you servants, but friends." There is no need to fear a conflict of opinion or tastes between Him, the perfect Man, and us, in what we possess as truly human, that is to say, natural good and supernatural virtue. This human aspect is predisposed from the beginning to get along with the Divine Visitor. This aspect represents the region of our being in which His Presence will feel it was expected and will feel instinctively at home.
"My joy is to be among the children of men." Our natural qualities tempt God to the benefit of the activities of His grace. His arrival in us is therefore not "bothersome," and in principle the true human and the true Christian in us should feel nothing but an irresistible desire to welcome Him on account of the harmony which is pre-established between Him and us. If we knew Him such as He is for each one of us, if we knew Him with what He brings to each one of us, then there would be a real welcome (knowing oneself expected, knowing oneself received, knowing oneself begged not to leave).
"Dwell in Me as I dwell in you." As I dwell in you. Christ comes to us hidden, as if He did not want to be seen entering into our home, so that no one might come to bother Him during the conversation He wants to have with us all alone. Hidden: the better to belong to us for as long as possible. He comes to us sincere, such as He is, the Redeemer, anxious to associate us with Him, without the worldly conventions of appearances; such as He is with His fabulous life, explanation of His fabulous generosity. He comes to us buried in the humility of the stable, intrepid in the activity of the apostolate, loyal to His redemptive duty of state, despised in His Calvary, blinding with glory in His Resurrection.
No need to specify whether such an arrival is going to create an atmosphere a little bit different from the moral and spiritual scrawniness of our own. The proof: as soon as there is communion, the habitual activities stop short. Those that are manual–we come to listen to Him who has just arrived; intellectual–the stream of our thoughts changes direction, we adopt the stream of His thoughts; psychological–preoccupations pass into superior occupations; voluntary–attentions are turned away from the natural and turned back toward the absolute.
One is ready for anything. To love is to become love in drawing near to a loving being. Who is more loving than Christ? Our hidden dwelling is bathed in a new climate which responds to the instinctive expectations of our superior faculties. The Dwelling has become more our dwelling because He is there. We are more ourselves, and instead of being in a hurry to see Him leave like an outsider, we would like to see Him lengthen His visit: "Mane nobiscum, Domine.–Stay with us, O Lord." Our heart goes back during the day to the Communion of the morning.
His sacramental Presence passes away, but leaving after it the reality of His hidden or mystical Presence, which abides as long as the deliberate act of a mortal sin has not shown Him the door. The Eucharistic Visit has taken place. The sacramental stay has ended. But the definitive arrival has been realized. From Visitor He has become Guest, and from Guest He has become Friend, that is to say, He who stays in order to love and to be loved.
It is for each one of us, then, to say to Him: "Dwell in me," after He has said to us: "As I dwell in you." To love is to have a will to permanence. How to go about better imitating, in our turn, His manner of introducing Himself into us:
1) Hide oneself in Him: bury in His luminous, unifying mentality the dividing contradictions of our own. Renounce our shortsighted views; cease to believe them absolute; shake off their tyranny. Breathe in deeply His eternal vision of existence. Breathe in deeply His liberating fragrances of Calvary. Assimilate entirely His redemptive program intellectually by His doctrine of the world; morally by His holiness of life; socially by His anxiety to serve and save, and all that "in secret" without exhibitionism or affected pretension.
2) Be sincere like Him: welcome Him in our dwelling, having brushed the dust off the furniture by our contrition, of course, but without moving the furniture around to give Him the impression we know how to welcome in style, creating for oneself an artificial mentality of nouveau riche by simulating an artificial fervor for Him, an artificial enthusiasm, an artificial sanctity. He holds in horror all that is fabricated and prefabricated.
He prefers to be welcomed in the stable. He feels at home there. The straw of our bad desires, the ass of our bad wills, the ox of our earthliness, our homeliness; the sincere, humble gratitude of a St. Joseph for having been invited to keep watch near Him; the purity of His mother's desires. There He is in His dwelling.
He prefers to be welcomed at Nazareth in a workshop, that of our efforts for Him, of our venial scratches because of Him, of our moral weariness, of our apostolic activities. He feels at home. "Dwell in Me." He prefers to be welcomed in the open air, wherever our apostolic journeying finds us: on the road of our resolutions that His encounter allows us to fortify; in the crowd of our callings on which His passage allows us to impose silence, to listen to what He thinks; in the comings and goings of our apostolic dreams of influence and action, to which He brings the decision of the "Sequere Me." There, too, He is at home. "Dwell with Me."
He prefers to be welcomed in the midst of our Calvary, during the agony of our distresses springing from our fears of not being able to hold on in the disdain of a reputation mocked or misunderstood, the scourging of a repentant sensibility, the crowning with thorns of a humiliating situation, the carrying of the cross of a meritorious existence, or the crucifixion of a life that cannot take any more.
There most of all He recognizes Himself and finds Himself at home: "Dwell with Me. Make your dwelling with Me and near Me." Then the Presence takes root and with it our habits of thought evolve most strangely; they acquire a strange lucidity over human philosophy, capable of judging it as Christ judged it and a strong serenity over the problem of existence, sure of its consummation as Christ was sure of His own.
The Dwelling is truly inhabited by Him and by us. We return to our activities with His activities in us, so much so that in returning to our own we find that they are as much His as ours. There is no regret at having yielded Him the place, but regret at having yielded it to Him so late or so clumsily.
Translated exclusively for Angelus Press from the Association du R. P. de Chivré's Carnets Spirituels No.10, October 2006.
Fr. Bernard-Marie de Chivré, O.P. (say: Sheave-ray´) was ordained in 1930. He was an ardent Thomist, student of Scripture, retreat master, and friend of Archbishop Lefebvre. He died in 1984.