As author Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts) walks into the Cathedral of Notre Dame, she thinks of 3 steps the ancients (Christians) believed led to entering into intimacy with God:
1. Purgation is an awakening to the chasm separating us from God and praying for God’s help to purge our souls of self-will. This is possible only through Christ and His all-sufficient grace. It cannot be accomplished through our own will or effort.
2. Illumination is a way of seeing that draws us closer to God. While listing things we are thankful for awakens us to the presence of God, it is living in thanksgiving that accomplishes the much more difficult work of keeping us awake to Him.
3. Union, the ancients thought, was the final step, a mystical oneness only the most devout could attain. Ann sees union differently. Union, she states, always is the first step in the Christian journey. Yet, our attendance to God’s continuing graces ushers us into an ever-deepening union with Christ. Thus union is not the exclusive domain of a select few, but available to everyone, as Ronald Rolheiser states in The Holy Longing: The Search for Christian Spirituality: “To be a saint is to be fueled by gratitude, nothing more and nothing less.”