Writings » A Spiritual Story, by Elizabeth Wang

This text is published as the Preface to Falling in Love, pages iii-xiv, and re-printed as Chapter 2 of Radiant Light: How the Work Began, pages 5-21. 

"Many years ago, as a young adult, I thought that I was looking for God. I didn't realise that He is infinitely kind and had already been 'searching' for me, so to speak, in my darkened heart and mind. He had been drawing me towards Himself, by His grace. I began to practice again what I believed were the essentials of the Christian Faith, as it had been taught to me in childhood in my Anglican home.

When I turned in prayer to God, at twenty-one years old, I was a free soul, at last whole-heartedly acknowledging my dependence on Him; and I was able to pray with confidence and hope because of the grace given to me long before, in Baptism. Even though I had forgotten or ignored for a long time that great gift of Divine Life, I discovered, through prayer, that the Giver was still living within my soul, ready to receive me into His life and love, through Christ. Resolving to pray regularly, I began to behave as well as I thought a Christian ought to behave, trying to be more charitable and - through my struggles - becoming aware of my many faults.

I met many difficulties. I was not only ill for a long time but was lonely, and afraid. One night, I called out to Jesus, and I asked for help, with more faith than I knew I possessed; and suddenly He was with me. He had responded, in Love. He came to me instantly. I didn't see Him with my bodily eyes but with the eyes of my soul. I saw Him standing beside me; and I was dazzled by His blazing Glory! How foul and dark I saw my own soul to be. I saw years of selfishness exposed in the brilliance of that burning radiance, and so I turned away, appalled, but wholly repentant of every failing, and determined to do what was necessary to 'put things right' with God. My faith was obscure and inarticulate, but nothing could have kept me from reparation, penance, prayer and thanksgiving.
Soon afterwards, I discovered the existence and the sure teachings of the Catholic Church. I worshipped in familiar ways for three or four years; then, after much study and prayer, I asked if I could be received into the Catholic Church. I entered into full Communion on February 22nd, 1968, on the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, in Manchester, in the church of the Holy Name.

Amidst the pain and loneliness of that time, I was honoured by the extraordinary, invisible presence of Our Blessed Lady, suddenly made known to me on the day of my First Holy Communion, in a church full of strangers. I didn't know what had happened, and soon forgot about it, as I plunged determinedly into regular and silent prayer at home, no matter how busy I was each day. I marked the hours by simple prayers, whether the 'Our Father' or the Rosary; also, I prayed the psalms from a small Breviary, every lunch-time when my first baby was sleeping; and I recited the "Jesus Prayer" whenever possible, devotedly and silently, from morning until night, for the next twenty years.

A new commitment

After many years of gruelling work, and struggle and failure, with illness, too, and other trials, and - throughout - utter darkness in prayer, I was near despair, but was unwilling to turn away from God. I was a failure in more than one sense, and was ashamed of setting a bad example; but, thanks to God's grace, I didn't give up prayer; nor did I lose hope. I struggled to be faithful in the darkness, not realising that Christ was waiting at the bottom of the pit.

Then, one terrible day, I was reminded of the extent both of my sinfulness and God's holiness. I was appalled by the chasm. That very day, I decided with all the power of my heart to turn to Christ in faith and trust, in every circumstance. I vowed that I would never compromise; I would love my neighbour as Christ had loved me: that is - at any cost. I would do God's Will at every moment, rather than my own. I would bear sickness patiently, relying on the grace of God; and I'd shoulder all difficulties for His sake, even if interior darkness were to continue for the rest of my life. Also, I resolved, I would never, ever, willingly or deliberately offend against Him or against His love or against His laws again, in the least degree.

After Reconciliation in the local church I went about my work in darkness again, but my heart was at peace as never before. At last, I was willing to let Christ lead me into whatever way of life He had chosen for me. I was content to accept outward and inward changes for His sake, and to walk silently - in the spiritual life - along the bottom of my particular ditch, for as long as He permitted.
(Unsought and wordless 'Knowledge')

Soon after I had made that resolution I was utterly astonished to find that the habitual darkness of prayer was occasionally lit by great shafts of light. As I shall explain more fully later on, my usual dry, dark, humiliating prayers during Holy Mass or after Holy Communion were frequently "pierced" by an unsought and wordless "knowledge" which explained or unfolded aspects of our Faith.

In this way, every few weeks and then every few days, I was taught much more about God, and about Heaven, then about Christ and His Church, and about grace, prayer, and souls. I learned nothing new; but many truths already known by faith, study, and worship were marvellously given anew and were clarified.

I didn't choose what I would learn in prayer; but each "teaching" was given suddenly and unexpectedly in the silence of my wordless prayer during or after Mass and Holy Communion. Each was about some aspect of our Catholic faith, usually about the spiritual life, but with frequent stress on God's Love for us and on our duty to love Him, and to love our neighbour for His sake.

Throughout my years of study, I had learned from the great teachers and writers of the Catholic Church that we're foolish if we try to cling to experiences of a Person, rather than to the Person Himself; so, although I longed to know God, I neither looked for consolations in prayer, nor hoped for unusual spiritual experiences. I knew that we please Christ most surely when we continue in our usual fervent daily efforts to love Him and our neighbour. I eventually realised, however - despite all my sins and failings - that God sometimes chooses to teach us things in prayer, for His own purposes. Our initial fear and reluctance about paying attention to His 'showings' is praiseworthy; but if God Wills to teach us in this way, I have found, He will do so. Nothing but our ill-will or lack of love can stop Him; however, when we have tried to keep to the usual paths in prayer, but have been thwarted, and are puzzled by our experiences, we ought to turn to our advisors in Christ's Holy Catholic Church.

Truths of the Catholic Faith

The whole notion that God can teach people in this way was foreign to me, since the early "teachings" - by their simplicity - bore no resemblance to the visions which I'd seen recounted in various spiritual biographies. Also, I was amazed that He should teach a person like myself. But when it became plain that the "teachings-in-prayer" ought to be written down so that others could share them when the time was right, I tried to record in very simple manner what I had learned through Christ about His love for us, about the Most Holy Trinity, about the Incarnation of Our Lord through the Blessed Virgin Mary, and about other truths of the Catholic Faith.

The reader should take for granted that everything explained here in the "teachings" about the Christian faith and about the Christian spiritual life rests upon the sure foundation of the teachings of the Catholic Church as held and preached by her throughout the whole world and in every age. If I had found I was being given a teaching which contradicted any of the truths of our Faith, I would have rejected it with all my power. I would never have recorded anything contrary to the teaching of the Church, since I know that God doesn't contradict Himself; and so I knew that anyone receiving such 'teachings' would be receiving them from another source.

Many of the "teachings" were personal, and so don't appear in this book. Some which were strictly private haven't been written down at all. But I'm duty-bound to share the others, as Christ explained to me quite plainly, in order to strengthen the faith of my brothers and sisters in Christ and to bring others to know and love Christ, and to delight in the Glory of the Holy Trinity.

Certain of the teachings which have been given to me - whether wordlessly or with words - have been accompanied by an image; and that's why, during the past ten years, I've drawn more than one thousand pictures which represent aspects of the Truths that I've been taught by Christ in this way; also, I've written brief accounts of what He has explained on hundreds of occasions, with the words He has used. The greatest of the "Teachings-in-prayer" were wordless and imageless, as I said, and also infrequent, and puzzling at first. None of them can be fully explained or displayed; but those which I've tried to describe are "displayed" only because God has made His Will plain to me in several ways, more recently by inviting me to translate His wordless teachings into my own language, so that other people can delight in His encouragement.

When I plucked up courage to record the teachings, that "First Version" was hesitantly-written and poorly-arranged. Not until late 1994 did I write a "Second Version" which clarified the content of the "teachings" and also the way in which I was taught. However, the "Third Version" was compiled solely because, on November 3rd 1995, Christ invited me to re-write His 'teachings' in a different manner. My new task, I learned, was to list most of His plain instructions about what I must do if I sincerely wish to please Him and to become holy; and Christ invited me to write 'in the first person', so that other people can receive His teachings in the sort of direct and simply way which it's been my privilege to experience.

Christ's constant and forgiving love

It seems to me as though these teachings have been "squeezed" by Christ through the substance of my daily life as water is squeezed through a sponge; and the image I'm using is of the sort of blood-soaked sponge which is used to wipe the face of an exhausted man in the corner of a boxing-ring. Without the pressure of Christ's urgings towards greater fervour and self-surrender, and without my at times agonised consent, the 'water' of His instruction about our spiritual journey couldn't have 'poured out' for so many years, through prayer, into my daily life and so into my notebooks. I mention this because Christ has been producing, through my daily life and work, a sort of catechism of the spiritual life. Of course, He has already given us all that we need for Salvation; but it's His wish that we be reminded of various truths about the Holy Mass and about prayer, and about sacrifice and penance, for example; and He longs to remind us of His tremendous love for us. He wants to offer a reminder - from within the life of someone fearful and sinful, whose days have been cluttered with problems and anxieties - that His is a constant and forgiving Love. He admires our weak faith and our pitiful efforts to love Him and to love and serve our neighbour.

Throughout His instructions and occasional reprimands, Christ has scattered numerous compliments. He has been encouraging me just as any good teacher encourages a child; yet I've omitted some of the compliments from my writings; and I was tempted to omit even more, and also to omit my own name from the text; but I'm loathe to remove this evidence of Christ's kindness. The 'falling-in-love' of the title of this book was made possible precisely because of Christ's constant kindness and tenderness towards me. It once seemed to me as though I was 'falling' into misery and near-hopelessness at the knowledge of my real nature; but that falling was followed by the astonishing discovery that we not only live 'in' God, as creatures of a Divine Creator; we can live 'in' His own heart, so to speak, and can share His Life.

I discovered the strength of His love for us, and also the depths to which He has stooped in order to help us. I experienced His tenderness in prayer; and so began my 'falling-in-love' with God, as His radiant Light began to shine within my soul. And that's the reason why I hope so fervently that people will believe in His Love as well as in His scorching purity and His infinite majesty; and we are reminded of this marvellous Love in Holy Scripture, where God says: 'I HAVE CALLED YOU BY YOUR NAME; YOU ARE MINE!' (Is 43:1)

It was a marvellous discovery for me, when at last I realised that Christ's Love for each one of us is personal and tender; and I long for everyone to know it.

Obedience and simplicity

When Christ first began to offer me His 'teachings', He was addressing them, for His own good reasons, to someone who was already baptised. He Himself taught me the importance of repentance, and so I made great efforts to serve Him. Despite my failures, I kept turning to Him in regular prayer. As the teachings continued, He was building, therefore, on a foundation which He Himself had placed within my soul.

Stage by stage, as this work has progressed, Christ has revealed to me further details of His plan. Many people will be helped by the 'teachings', Christ has shown me; and others will shun them. My only concern, He says, must be to produce them, obedient to Him, and to leave the results in His hands. But those who are glad to read them can be assured that everything within these pages was taught to me - whether implicitly or explicitly - by Christ Himself, usually during prayer.

The publication of this story about my journey of faith, and also about the "teachings", is an act of obedience to the One Who asks that I "STAND UP AND TELL THEM ALL I COMMAND YOU. DO NOT BE DISMAYED BY THEIR PRESENCE" (Jr 1:17). I bear in mind, too, another passage from Holy Scripture: "FOLLOW RIGHT TO THE END THE WAY I MARK OUT FOR YOU" (Jr 7:23). "THEY HAVE NOT ... PAID ATTENTION; THEY HAVE GROWN STUBBORN AND BEHAVED WORSE THAN THEIR ANCESTORS ... YOU MUST SAY ALL THESE WORDS TO THEM" (Jr 7:26-27). ... "COME IN; LET US BOW, PROSTATE OURSELVES, AND KNEEL IN FRONT OF JAHWEH OUR MAKER, FOR THIS IS OUR GOD ..." (Ps 95:6-7.)

Christ has shown me, on several occasions, what He witnesses today; He sees that many people - even in the Church which He founded - not only disobey His Commandments but mock the teachings of the Church and lead others to do the same. He sees, too, how few have given Him their hearts, entirely, and how few make sacrifices for His sake and for the sake of the Gospel given through Himself and His Apostles. This was true in past ages, and it's still true, today; but Christ strengthens the faith of His children in ways which He devises, and He has told me that these writings are to play a part in His work of encouragement. Since April 1992, in accordance with His wishes, and longing to comfort and encourage others and to bring them to a renewed friendship with Christ, I've been speaking more freely about His teachings, to family and friends and acquaintances. I've handed out books of teachings to anyone who has expressed a wish to read them.

Different types of prayer

In all my own failures, I've come to see that Christ understands our human weaknesses. He knows the trials and temptations and agonies of this earthly life. He sees that we, His children, are struggling daily amidst all sorts of things that might lead us away from the practice of our faith; so He assists, by his grace, everyone who turns to Him; and He forgives every repentant sinner. It's when we consent wholeheartedly to His action or grace in our hearts, admitting our faults and resolving to love God and our neighbour, that we find that we don't struggle alone. Christ our Lord guides us; His Holy Spirit strengthens us and leads us towards the Father, in the company of all who belong in the One Body of Christ, which is therefore truly called Christ's Holy Catholic Church.

That is why I've plucked up courage to write the story that Christ wants me to tell, though I couldn't have undertaken such a task if I hadn't been sure, first, that it was my duty, and, secondly, that nothing I'd written would contradict the teaching of the Church. Since the Church is guided by Christ now, as in every century, through the Pope and the Bishops, and also through the Bishops' representatives - our priests, I've gone to our priests for advice; and I've been reassured about this present path.

By the time I began to make notes about the 'teachings-in-prayer', I'd been praying regularly for more than twenty years, attempting to love God and my neighbour no matter what the cost, though failing often. For every 'teaching' or extraordinary occurrence mentioned in this Prologue, I've left out ten or a hundred episodes of simple prayer or acts of faith. It should be taken for granted that my routine prayers consist of the sort of Catholic devotions which I describe in various writings Like many other people, I pray the "Morning Offering", centred on the Holy Mass, with acts of faith, hope and charity, and with devotions to Our Blessed Lady and to all the Angels and Saints, as well as Scripture-meditation. My prayer-life has always been very ordinary, based upon vocal and mental prayer and attendance at Holy Mass, whether or not 'extraordinary' experiences have also been given to me - for God's own purposes. It's true that prayer has become altogether more simplified and joyful in recent times, as I've learned to follow God more swiftly and frequently into the prayer of contemplation; yet I hope that I shall never think of entirely discarding the vocal prayers which, at different times of the day or of the week, are so expressive and fruitful. What a wonderful treasury we have in our Catholic prayers: so many long-cherished, safe, good and useful methods of expressing our love for God and our sorrow for sin.

Although I have written, here and elsewhere, about the degrees and categories of "prayer-in-union", generally known as "contemplative" prayer, I ought to add something here about the manner of my 'seeing' truths in prayer. All that I've seen - whether images or persons - has been seen solely with the 'eyes of the soul'. I have never seen anything before me, with my bodily eyes, except what anyone else would see there, too, in normal life.

I've rarely used mental images in my worship of God. I've used my imagination when meditating on the Gospels, and also in intercession, as I remember, visually, those for whom I'm praying; but in 'pure' praise and adoration I've followed the traditional Catholic teaching which recommends a whole-hearted reaching-out of the heart and mind and will towards the God Whom we cannot see, but Whom we approach with confidence because of our union with Christ.

Long ago, I began my determined efforts to brush aside, in prayer, all images and distractions, ruthlessly trying to seek God as He really Is, just as I tried to seek His real Will, without trying to picture the future, amidst the hum-drum tasks of daily life.

It must be emphasised that my ordinary, daily life and worship centres on normal Catholic prayers and devotions - above all, on attendance at Holy Mass. I've looked for nothing novel or extraordinary in prayer. It's best that we try to turn to God in sincere love and repentance, week by week and year by year, following in the footsteps of our spiritual ancestors, and also 'open' to the continuing guidance of the Holy Father and of the other Catholic Bishops who are in communion with him.

Gifts and graces

It still astonishes me that Our Lord should have given me this work to do. I'm astonished and delighted, daily, thinking about all the gifts and graces to be found in the Catholic Church, which I entered as an awed and grateful convert thirty years ago. But when I entered, and began to make even greater efforts to meet God in prayer, I had no desire for novelty; nor had I any understanding of how God can teach people in prayer in a swift and lavish infusion of knowledge; nor did I understand what I've heard in the Gospel about Christ leading us to the Father; so that's why I took almost no notice of the earliest 'teachings' - although I never forgot them; rather, I continued with my fervent efforts to find out more about the Catholic Faith through the normal channels, to the degree that this is possible for a busy wife and mother. Through those early years when God was persistently teaching me in the silence of prayer I was content with the authoritative teachings of the Church, on every subject. I sought advice from reputable, wise and saintly authors, and gratefully absorbed the truths which come to us through the Holy Father, the Pope, and through the prayers of the Liturgy, the Scripture readings and the homilies.

I was first aware of 'being taught' when I was fourteen years old. There were two long periods of my life when such teachings ceased, as part of my spiritual training; but this way of learning spiritual truths in prayer eventually become a part of my life of prayer: first, at intervals of several weeks or days, and now, daily. When I was being first taught by God in prayer I had no idea of the mission for which He was preparing me; whereas now I know that His plan is to provide encouragement, through this work, to members of the Catholic Church in an era when the Faith is under attack not only from outside but from within, and in a time when the concepts of duty and obedience are widely derided.

Joyful friendship with Christ

In order to please Christ, I've written a great deal within these pages about sadness and spiritual darkness. It's been necessary in order to explain those periods of the spiritual life which are unusually called the 'night of the senses' and the "night of the spirit." I shall say more about those, later; but I can't even mention them without saying that today, the darkness has vanished. Through the astonishing goodness of God my life was changed profoundly on December 11th, 1985: on what I now call the 'Alpha and Omega day'. Christ has rewarded me for my efforts, Love for love. He includes in His gifts a pure joy for me at the mere sound of His Name. I hear 'Jesus', or say it, and can hardly bear the joy which the sound or the thought or the Presence brings to my heart: such a pang as I never expected to feel again, when I was merely enduring everything for Him, sustained in hope and love by dry faith alone. I've learned that there's no music, sound, sight or touch more sweet and beautiful than the silent, invisible and true presence of Christ within the soul; and it's a marvel to me that this should have happened in the life and soul of someone who has been so reluctant to serve Him. And now, I live in hope that many people will be led to love Christ more fervently, undaunted by transient worries and difficulties, and therefore to love His Holy Will, which is our only lasting happiness. I hope that, despite the evident flaws in my writing, someone will become more interested in God and perhaps will dare to believe that it's true that God is alive and active - and good.

Everything that I've written here was put down in obedience to Christ; and everything contained in these pages is the truth as I see it - though it might not have been explained very well and some minor inaccuracies might have occurred: for example, about dates. I've been writing at great speed and haven't had the leisure to check every word several times. 
It is no use my apologising for the stilted style, or the laboured phrases; I'm not pretending to be a professional writer, and besides, this task was extraordinarily difficult, because I could hardly bear to put pen to paper when I first began writing about Christ's work in my life. I was appalled at my impertinence at attempting such a task, whilst being utterly convinced that it was what God was asking me to do.

I haven't attempted to produce a lively script or witty pages. I'm not capable of it; so I hope that this can be seen as just a simple story, simply told. And since the colloquialisms of one era are frequently the dead phrases of another, I've tried to avoid them. Some of this work, I believe, will be used in times and cultures unlike our own.

A further reason for a very plain recital of my experiences is that - as I'll explain - the "Teachings" which God sometimes gives to the soul in prayer are always light, clear, calm, and simple, yet stately. So it seems appropriate that simplicity should be my watchword not only in my recital of the "Teachings" but also in this "prologue" or spiritual autobiography.

One Holy Catholic Church

It's been necessary for me to say a great deal about the reasons why I felt impelled to ask for Reception into the Catholic Church; and now it occurs to me that perhaps I shall be challenged for saying so much that seems critical of Anglicanism. I must proclaim that I believe that God is at work in the Church of England, as He is at work wherever those who belong to Him or yearn for Him pray to Him in Christ's Name and cherish the Holy Scriptures. Yet since I don't believe that any ecclesial body except the one which I entered in 1968 is the One Holy Catholic Church which Christ founded on the Apostles, I've had to explain in detail exactly what I was taught in childhood about the meaning of 'Church' and why, not unreasonably, I grew dissatisfied with that explanation…

Notes on the 'teachings'…

There has occasionally been a gap of several days between teachings. That's why the subject matter sometimes changes quite abruptly between one sentence and the next.

Every 'teaching' is numbered. Each 'T' (for Teaching) is followed by a number, and sometimes by a paragraph (#) number; and these correspond with the numbers of the same 'teachings' in earlier versions, and with the numbers in my notebooks, and also with the numbers on the associated illustrations in either water-colour or oil, which can be seen elsewhere.

I've recorded most of Christ's instructions chronologically, as clearly and as simply as possible. Where a teaching has been given to me as a pure, precious and clear but soundless instruction, I have made it 'concrete', in my own choice of words, as He has requested.

This 'making concrete' is more like a work of translation than of composition, since I have 'translated' real but inaudible teachings - given on specific occasions - into English, the language I know best; and you might see, therefore, that any grammatical errors or clumsy phrases - though regrettable - are like flaws in the work of a poor translator; and the 'original text' is Christ Himself, Whom I believe to be my Infinitely-wise Teacher, and indeed to be the source of all Truth ever found in prayer.

Three Divine Persons: One nature

There's a wealth of detail later in these volumes not just about Christ our Saviour but also about the life of all Three Divine Persons within the One Godhead. Whenever you read an instruction which mentions "Us" or "We", Christ is explaining something about the Most Holy Trinity - in Whom we believe because Christ, when on earth, revealed more than had ever before been known about God's Life and God's nature, and Christ the Son of God spoke - as we Christians believe - "with authority". Because of the revelation given through Christ and His Apostles, we believe in the Father Who created us, in Christ the Son Who redeemed us and in the Holy Spirit Who makes us holy: Three Divine Persons Who are a Trinity-in-unity. They are One God, Whose Life we now share in a marvellous way, because of our baptism.

Jesus Christ, we believe, is the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. He is the Son of God. We say that He 'descended' from the Father in Heaven in order to come to earth to take flesh from Our Lady, so that as God-man He could live on earth amongst us, instruct His disciples, die for our sins on the Cross, rise from the dead and ascend to Heaven in glory. Thus, Jesus the Saviour and Redeemer made a Way in which all who believe in Him can follow; and we can follow with confidence, despite our weak nature and life's difficulties. Even in our own time, Christ is at work. It's through His Spirit that He guides the one Holy Catholic Church which He founded and of which we can seek membership. Within it, we can follow the Way of the Saints and feed on the Sacred Scriptures. Christ Himself is teaching us through the Holy Father, and also through the Bishops who are in Communion with him. Successors to St. Peter and the Apostles, Our Pope and our other Bishops - as one - preach Christ, preach repentance and salvation, teach us truth, lead us in the Sacred Tradition, and give us Christ's Divine Life and graces through the Sacraments.

As Christ's Divine Love pours within our hearts and transforms us, it can lead us to a deeper repentance of sin and a greater determination to love and serve God and neighbour. We can prepare for Eternal life where we hope to enjoy, in the presence of the Holy Angels and in the Company of the Saints who have gone before us, the glorious and blissful sight of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - One God, Who is more holy, loving and beautiful than the most fervent heart could ever begin to imagine.

Scattered throughout the teachings are passages which convey what I can only describe as God's 'knowledge-given-in-words.' God the Holy Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - has sometimes communicated teachings in whole phrases or sentences as if from Mind to mind, in prayer, and wholly beyond the realm of imagination. These words are reproduced in lower-case italic type; and whenever such words are shown with speech-marks it is because these particular words were spoken to my soul in prayer in a real though interior conversation, rather than being simply 'given' in a way which I've tried to explain in the Appendix.

Different typefaces

A different typeface is used for the major teachings which I have received from God our Father. Nothing like this appears in the early part of this spiritual autobiography because I hadn't received teachings of this type during the period from 1957 to 1993. I have recorded these real but wordless teachings by 'translating' them into my words; and I distinguish them from Christ's own teachings - by the use of a different typeface - only to emphasise God's generosity. That the typefaces are different doesn't indicate that Father and Son are not equal in dignity; and of course we Christians believe that Father, Son and Spirit are One God. Yet when I'm being taught nowadays, in prayer, I am taught not only a particular spiritual truth; I am also taught which of the Three Divine Persons is at that moment instructing me; and this is why I speak of God's generosity. I believe that this is more for the eventual benefit of other people than of myself; and so I've made special efforts to record these things as accurately as I can.

I must say a few words about the use of a special typeface, from Volume Three onwards, to indicate which are the special teachings of the Holy Spirit. The method of identification used at first, in Volumes One and Two, to make plain the teachings of Christ and of the Father, was sufficient; and I explained - about the Holy Spirit, and His 'part' in these teachings - what I believe to be true: that the whole work is His 'script', in the sense that it's only in the Holy Spirit that we can pray "in Christ" to our Heavenly Father, or be taught in prayer, or receive good inspirations or moments of 'illumination' about the truths of our Faith. I believe that some of those who know Christ's Spirit will recognise His signature on what I've produced at His prompting, recognising it despite all the flaws and weaknesses; but when I had begun work on Volume Three, I was shown, in prayer, that the time was ripe for me to identify the particular teachings of the Holy Spirit much more plainly; hence my use of italic capital letters.

There were three reasons for my efforts to be obedient in this matter. First, it was the Will of God; and that was sufficient reason for me; but, also, I'd been shown that the Holy Spirit will be more glorified, if I show out His work in a clearer fashion; and those who read several volumes of this work can receive a 'picture' not just of a soul being led by Christ to the Father, but a 'picture' or an education - albeit through someone very weak and ignorant - of life lived in a true union with God at the 'Heart' of the Most Holy Trinity where the Three Divine Persons are 'at work' as They share Their joy and Their knowledge of Themselves not only with One Another within the unity of the Godhead but with someone who has been drawn into that Divine Life. Now that I've been taught something about the ways in which They are 'at work', I've been shown that it's both my duty and my privilege to share that knowledge with others, as an encouraging reminder of God's great love for us.

In response to Christ's promptings, I've tried to show, throughout the whole body of teachings which I've recorded so far, that Christ's teachings are received by me - through His Will - in a different manner from that which is used by the Father; and the Father's awesome teachings are different from the sudden 'illuminations' of the Holy Spirit. But the difference lies not in the Persons Who, though distinct, share the same Divine nature. The difference of which I write lies in my perception of the different methods of approach which, I notice, have been adopted by the Divine Persons. I can only try to explain this by declaring that Christ's teachings are received with heart-aching tenderness (or grief, as when, long ago, He occasionally rebuked me), whereas the teachings of the Holy Spirit are received with heart-lifting clarity and brightness; and the Father's teachings are received, it seems to me, (and this is why I have to show the difference, through the use of different typefaces), with an astonishing combination of heart-stopping intimacy with unquestionable power. It's my belief that through His differing approaches in prayer God is giving reminders of various aspects of His loving nature, aspects which, when considered all together, might convey something of the astonishing Majesty of the Holy Trinity, whilst also indicating the tender concern of God for every unique soul which He has created: as I shall explain in Chapter 20.

Volume Four: A Dialogue

Although I had no plans to alter the style of the books, as I began Volume Four, I was shown that each of the teachings in the fourth volume should be prefaced by one of my brief prayers to the Most Holy Trinity or to the Saints. Only in order to obey Christ, therefore, did I put my sincere but common-place words near His own; but He had shown me that people will be helped if they see how kindly and generous a response we receive from God to our most common-place or even trivial requests, even though nothing in our lives is really trivial in His sight, since He loves us and therefore makes our concerns His own. He can't be repelled by our foolish preoccupations. But He explained to me, as well, that those who see the beauty of His Wisdom set beside my modest phrases can see something like the counterpoint which is found in paintings or musical compositions. His Wisdom can shine out more brightly when His teachings are set beside some of the phrases which reveal so plainly my human weaknesses. He wants to encourage weak people to put their trust in Him, and to believe in His undying love for each one of them - whatever their problems and however dreadful or merely tedious the circumstances of their lives.

It's the Will of God, also, that - through the visible 'counterpoint' of His generous answers placed beside my little queries - people are reminded of various 'aspects' of His nature. It's evident that when He so marvellously replies to my questions, He answers some of them very simply, yet answers others in an 'oblique' manner, and thus casts light on some aspect of the subject which I've 'held' before Him in prayer, yet also gives me knowledge about associated subjects, where a different 'angle' or a greater knowledge of things would be beneficial to me. At other times, for various reasons, His answers have been 'minimal', though always loving; and it's His intention that the 'demonstration' through this book of every sort of answer will demonstrate - despite my deficiencies both in understanding and writing - His extraordinary goodness.

Efforts to 'translate' wordless teachings

Some of the teachings appear in a style which might seem, in our day, to be strangely formal. The reason is that although Christ - Who is true man, and very tender, as I said - is never less than loving and courteous in His dealings with me in prayer, He is never 'less' than Risen-and-Glorious: my Incarnate God. So even His briefest and most personal remarks have a majesty about them which I can't convey very well but which I'd entirely fail to suggest, were I to translate His teachings into more 'colloquial' language. Of course, the teachings which I receive from the Father and from the Holy Spirit inspire in me the same degree of awe and astonishment, mixed with gratitude. Some formality is evident, therefore, in all of the teachings, even when - on various occasions - the teachings have also been intimate and gentle. [By the way, I'm known to my family and to my childhood friends as 'Lizzie'; hence Christ's use of that diminutive - as you will see later on - whenever He speaks my name.]

You can see that the numbering system is peculiar. When the 'Teachings' commenced, I was very puzzled and extremely cautious. I had no idea that the first two hundred teachings would be followed by another two thousand and more. I numbered things as well as I could; but by the time I realised how much more efficient I might have been, it was too late to begin again. Hundreds of paintings bore numbers which corresponded with parts of the lengthy text; so the 'system', I have decided, must remain as it is.

During the early stages of 'teaching' I numbered a few incidents in prayer which were private, though I learned later on to record only things which were to be shared with other people. But this explains the few dozen gaps in the first half of Volume One of the "Teachings-in-prayer".

'Given-images' in prayer

The illustrations which I mentioned earlier are monochrome reproductions of the images which I have received from Christ in prayer: simple images which for a long time I tried to ignore, but which I've realised, at last, have an important place in Christ's lengthy programme of 'Teachings-in-prayer'. That's why a few of them can be found in each of the volumes of the 'teachings'; and that's why, at the end of certain teachings, you will see (WC ....) which means Watercolour, or (WC + OIL ....) whenever I've completed the same image in oils, also.

The reason why I've placed only monochrome illustrations in most of my books is that my blue watercolour sketches reproduce most truly the various images and sights which Christ has graciously shown me in prayer. Almost everything which I've seen with the eyes of my soul has been 'composed' of mixed Glory and darkness, and almost never of colour, whether in the background or in the details. It's as though colour is something which is admirable, yet earthly and emotional rather than spiritual; and so it's not something which is needed during moments of 'Teachings-in-prayer'.

I've used colour, later, when I've reproduced some of those same images as oil paintings; I've done this as an artist who makes legitimate re-workings of a simple original, in order to emphasise aspects of the message implicit within the primary image. A few of these oils are reproduced in the Appendix; and, as some readers will have seen, I have placed colour reproductions in the book entitled "My priests are sacred": and it was Christ's wish that I included so many.

Several Volumes of Teachings

Volume One of 'Teachings-in-Prayer' is entitled: "SPIRITUAL TRAINING." It covers the time immediately around conversion, and beyond. It has a blue cover which signifies the spiritual cloud in which the soul is hidden during its spiritual infancy.

Volume Two of 'Teachings-in-Prayer' is entitled: "SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT. It covers the time of painful but sure growth in the spiritual life. It has a green cover which signifies the good Food which the soul receives through prayer "in Christ" and through the Sacraments.

Volume Three of 'Teachings-in-Prayer' is entitled: "SPIRITUAL WORK." It covers the time when the soul experiences a more profound and more fruitful Communion with the Most Holy Trinity. It has a red cover, which signifies the fiery Life and Light of the Holy Spirit, by Whose gifts the soul is drawn into the Work of contemplation.

Volume Four of 'Teachings-in-Prayer' is entitled "SPIRITUAL LIFE." It covers a time of almost unbroken joy and Light within the soul. Its yellow cover signifies the brightness of the Glory into which the soul is drawn as it reaches the 'heights' - or 'depths' - of the soul's friendship with God the Father, in Christ, and through the Holy Spirit. The new format - of excerpts from what can truly be called conversations between myself and the Three Divine Persons - has been used only in order to obey Christ's request; and I call this a true dialogue, even though several "voices" take part, because it consists of one human being speaking with the One God: the Holy Trinity.

Volume Five of 'Teachings-in-Prayer' is not yet completed, but is entitled "SPIRITUAL PEACE". In it, the dialogue continues, as I am reminded of various truths - already known through Christ and His Church - about the life of grace, about Salvation, and about the Holy Trinity: both about God's Work and God's Nature."

Now that I've sketched out the beginning of my Catholic life, and also the beginning of the work for which Christ has trained me, I'll share, in the next chapter, something of the joy I've been given by Christ in recent years, in what He has told me is almost "the end of the journey."