Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Carmelite and Prayer

"Prayer is the characteristic of Carmelite life. It is its very soul. The other constitutive elements of the Carmelite spirit have no purpose except that of fostering the life of prayer, which in its turn reacts on these elements, because one cannot, without prayer, realize complete detachment or develop the generosity necessary for contemplative life. The aim of prayer is to lead the soul as quickly as possible to contemplation. Even from the beginning, the Carmelite method of prayer includes as its central point an act called contemplation, accompanied by an affectionate colloquy. Little by little this colloquy becomes simplified, leading finally to a simple loving look at God, which is the essence of contemplation. The Carmelite must, then, keep his mind fixed on God, loving Him in silence, giving himself to Him, and enjoying Him. This prayer is, of course, always nourished by faith, but its essential act is love.
However, the Carmelite is not to devote himself to prayer only during the two hours which are especially assigned for this. He is expected to pray the whole day long. His love should lead him always to seek God, and to keep himself orientated towards Him. Under the action of the Holy Spirit, he mus strive to keep himself in constant contact with Christ living within his soul. With Christ, he should always strive to live in sinu Patris (in the bosom of the Father). If sometimes an occupation or distraction interrupts this communion, he should hasten to return to it the moment he becomes aware of the interruption.
Such is the life of prayer which the Carmelite seeks to realize: to live in God with Christ."
-- The Spirit and Prayer of Carmel by Fr François Jamart, ocd

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