Thursday, January 14, 2010

The soul must strive to keep its gaze fixed with love upon Our Lord

"St Teresa speaks also of special types of souls. These are, first of all, persons who do not know how to engage in discursive prayer and whose is imagination is not very lively, so that they cannot represent a subject to themselves. Their way is difficult, for if the will is not very firm and their love not fervent, they are exposed to many distractions and to dryness. They need a greater purity of conscience than do others, as well as patience to bear the struggle and dryness. Nevertheless, the soul must strive to keep its gaze fixed with love upon Our Lord, begging Him for His help. St Teresa urgently recommends that such persons use a book during the time of meditation. If they are faithful and generous, despite the dryness they experience, they will arrive even sooner than others at contemplation.

Some persons can practise only vocal prayer, or vocal prayer mixed with a few reflections; or they cannot keep their minds fixed on one subject. They need not be disturbed over this. Our Lord knows what is suited to them and what He thinks best. If they are humble and detached, they will receive as much as the others and perhaps more. They must be humble and persevering.

Other persons suffer from a state of dryness. Aridity, the inability to engage in discursive prayer, may come from a poor state of health. One must then avoid tiring the mind by thought. A few acts, the offering of one's condtion or one's illness, will be enough. Sometimes it would be better to take some rest, or to occupy oneself with active work. Aridity may also be merely a trial, accompanied even by frivolous or evil thoughts. We must then remember that prayer must mean giving something to God, not simply receiving, and that we engage in it to please Him, not to gain satisfaction for ourselves. We must try to be content with what He does. He knows what is useful to us. Just as He can make flowers grow without water, so He can also make our virtues increase without watering them with consolations. At such times we must think of what Jesus suffered for us. If we are faithful, He will reward us at the proper time."

-- The Spirit and Prayer of Carmel by Fr François Jamart, ocd

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