Monday, September 6, 2010

Keep thoroughly conversant with the truths of our holy faith

"Those who are incapable of meditation should supply its place in the manner we will explain.

The incapacity for methodic or discursive meditation to which we refer must not be due to carelessness or want of earnestness in advancing in the spiritual life. With the trials of distractions and aridities we shall deal later. All are agreed that as soon as affections and aspirations can be made, we are to cease from meditation except in so far as it helps to enkindle again the feelings, to animate the affections the more. Some souls of affectionate character can with little consideration engage in affections and aspirations, others of generous disposition after a brief period feel no need of meditation for their union with God. Many after a certain period can freely engage in loving communion with God. Yet no matter what the reason is that renders meditation impossible or unsuitable for prayer, every religiously minded person must keep thoroughly conversant with the truths of our holy faith.

This can be done in various ways. While at the time of prayer we give ourselves to the impulses of love, at some other time we ought to study carefully the truths of our holy faith. So our Holy Mother St Teresa warned her nuns never to neglect the study of the catechism. So it is important to examine carefully a book giving a detailed explanation of the catechism, or to attend sermons or instructions which will give this explanation.

Our Holy Mother the Church in her great cycle of feasts recalls to us in a solemn manner the various mysteries of our holy faith and enacts again, as it were, the life of Our Saviour. We must enter into this spirit of the Church... by following closely the liturgy og the Church our appreciation of the truths of our  holy faith must necessarily grow intensely. We know it so happened with the two Saints Teresa and other Carmelites.

If we find we can practice the prayer of meditation by occasionally or even frequently or constantly recalling from a book the thoughts that are the matter of our meditations, we must not neglect to do so.

To those souls who are desirous of close union with God and who complain that they cannot practice mental prayer, we can, with our Holy Mother Saint Teresa, recommend the very slow, deliberate recitation of vocal prayer with full attention to its meaning and with expansion or paraphrase when possible. St Teresa testifies she knew a person who reached the sublimest heights of contemplation by the practice of very carefully made vocal prayer. Our office and other vocal prayers when recited with due devotion should be very helpful in promoting the spirit of mental prayer and the habit of recollection. There are many paraphrases of the Lord's Prayer and other prayers which may be found helpful.

Another substitute for meditation is very slow, carefully made spiritual reading. At every phrase or thought a lengthy pause should be made in order to elicit from it as many affections as possible, then the next thought should be similarly treated."

-- Way of Perfection for the Laity by Fr Kevin, ocd

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