For years I’ve pondered what Psalm 24 means. How do we humans let the king of glory in? How can we who are finite “let in” him who is infinite? It’s a daunting thought, even off-putting.
O gates, lift high your heads, grow higher ancient doors. Let him enter, the king of glory (Ps 24:7).
The psalmist gives us a clue about how to begin: that the doors of our heart need to grow higher.
What “ancient doors” is the psalmist talking about? They are the gates of the ancient city of Jerusalem. If we think of our heart as being a “new Jerusalem,” we can picture God entering his own city to take his place in the sanctuary of the Holy of Holies – the very center of our loves. God desires to be our central love and the reason for all our other loves.
The gate through which he enters our heart is our “yes.” It’s hard to get our minds around the fact that God doesn’t expect us to “do” anything except clear the stones from our heart, let go of our sins and false loves, to make straight the King’s Highway that leads to the Jerusalem of our souls.
St. Caesarius of Arles (470-542) wrote bluntly about why we need to clear away our false loves to let God enter:
“Before Christ redeemed us, we were the house of the devil, but afterward, we merited the privilege of being the house of God. God himself in his loving mercy saw fit to make of us his own home. And if we think more carefully about the meaning of our salvation, we shall realize that we are indeed living and true temples of God.”
St. Caesarius names the particular gift of God are we are letting in when we expand our capacity for him: his mercy. This can be puzzling and disappointing to the doers—the overachievers among us. We feel that we should be “achieving” holiness by finishing our daily list of prayers, attending Sunday Mass, and being as pleasant to everyone as we can stand to be on a given day. We want to show God that we’re worthy of his love—to earn it by actions that will win his approval.
But mercy doesn’t work like that. The more we strive to be worthy of God’s mercy, the less we’re able to receive. The door of our heart only “grows higher” the more we internalize the reality that we bring nothing to our friendship with the Almighty except our need for him.
We bring nothing to our own salvation but our need for God’s constant mercy, every second of every day. The only “striving” we need in our spiritual life is making the effort to more frequently call to mind our own spiritual poverty. Because the more we remember our poverty before God and ask for his help, the more our capacity to receive God will grow.
Then what should I do?
Pray. Prayer is essential to realizing our bedrock need for God. Because in prayer we pour out the need of our hearts and receive the assurance that he’s got us covered. Prayer is essential to growing the doors of our hearts ever higher.
The beautiful virtue of humility, by which we remind ourselves that we need everything from God at every moment, and the virtue of prayer, by which we are reassured that all the riches of heaven are at our fingertips, are the twin virtues that keep us solidly connected to the Vine who is Christ. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” Nothing, that is, of eternal value. The poverty of humility, coupled with the riches of prayer, let us sip on God’s own power and live his very life until we enter into the paradise of the King of Glory himself.
P.S. I have a question for you: how is your prayer life going?
If the answer is “could be better,” I’ve put together a series of videos that will help you start a strong prayer habit, know what to do when things (like distractions) get in the way of your prayer, how to stay inspired, and how to finally stick with a prayer life you LOVE. Find out more here.
Rose Marie Galaviz
Thank you for sharing, as I have become older I began see how my pass. is my need to heal been very intaminet , with many fear, seeking the love and approval of other. I have been searching through many years of spiritual studies, retreat, I understand that I have never been able to surrender my soul to my Heavly Father let him be in my daily life . I am widow for almost eight years married for 48 years 4 children and 12 grandchildren. I always depended in my husband, and know trying to depend on my children it not the same. My health is bringing me down, and hear that illnesses is from pass ,I to hard on my self that do not trust in God . That am a very prayfull person all life for all other .
Thank you Rose
Nina V Galambos
Thank you Rose. But the Mass, The Eucharist, is not just another routine prayer, but the center of our Spiritual Life. I am sure you would agree with me on this.
Thanks Rose, you are an inspiration to keep up with praying!
Thank you for sharing. May we all grow in humility as we realize and act on our need for God ar every moment of our life.
Thank you! Inspiring!
In my long faith journey I was attracted to the church by the “built in” moral lives of Catholics I had met. When I became ready I asked a man I had known a long time if he would be my RCIA sponsor. He answered as if by reflex “Sure! When do you want to start?” He didn’t have to hesitate to move any mental clutter out of the way. Verses 3-6 of Psalm 24 suggest the makings of such a spiritual state. It brought to mind Matthew 26:40 “And the king will say to them in reply ‘Amen,I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ “
Barbara B Kreutzer
What great inspiration for when/if we feel that we should not pester God with our prayers!
Thank you, Rose, your writings are always just what I need at that moment. How do you know? (Or are we more alike than I realize?) Peace and prayers. Theresa
God is good! Prayers, too, for your good work.
Dear Rose, Blessings and joy to you for all your spirit and love for God. I feel your prayers and am humbled to know how you pray for others. Nan Hurwitz
Just what I needed to hear, sweet Rose!! Yes, I am humbled by your prayers.