Mortification frees the soul from every obstacle which might retard the growth of grace, which might hinder the soul's love for God and its flight toward Him; whereas prayer which consists essentially in intimate conversation with God feeds this love and quickens this flight. Mortification prepares a suitable place for a loving meeting with God; prayer effects this meeting, and by placing the soul in real contact with God, the source of living water, it quenches its thirst and reanimates it. It is in this sense that the saints, and particularly the contemplative saints, have always seen in the living water promised by Jesus, not only sanctifying grace, but also those special graces of light and love which are its consequences and which the soul attains to in prayer, in the moments of intimate contact with God. This light and love are not the fruit of the activity of the soul alone; but rather, God Himself by means of the actuation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, infuses them into the soul, causing it to acquire a completely new "sense" of God. This does not mean new ideas and concepts, but rather an experimental knowledge derived from love - especially from the love which God himself awakens in the soul. It means a profound "sense" of the divinity, by means of which the soul becomes aware - not by reasoning or demonstration, but more by way of experience - that God is so different from creatures, so unique, so great, that He truly deserves all the love of the heart. This new way of loving God, this new experience of God and the divine things is really living water which quenches the soul's thirst. It is the living water of prayer, which, as a result of divine action, has now become deeper, more intimate, more contemplative; it is the living water of contemplation. This contemplation is a gift of God. "He gives it," says St. Teresa of Jesus, "when and as He wishes" (Life, 34). Although He offers it to all, in one form or another, He will grant it only to those souls who apply themselves generously to mortification and prayer.
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen
Divine Intimacy - Meditation 143 - Baronius Press