Sunday, October 31, 2010

Little Catechism of Prayer- Chapter 1

10.  What is love?
By love we may understand both sense love and love of the will.  Sense love consists in the feeling that draws us to a person with some display of affection, and makes us experience pleasure in the presence or remembrance of that person.  Love of the will consist in wishing a person well by free choice and determination of the will.  Then, when this love takes entire possession of us, we want to belong to the One loved and to consecrate to Him our very life.

11.  Which of these is true love?
Love of the will, because the will is that which is most personal in us.  Liberty resides  in the will and it is precisely in surrendering this will that we give ourselves to God.  For this reason, God asks of us the gift of our will.  Complete consecration to God means this total gift.  Sense love is only of secondary importance.  Moreover, we cannot determine when we may experience it, whereas we can always love with the will.

12.  Why do we naturally desire sense love?
We desire sense love because of its sweetness and because it brings us comfort and consolation.  But this is just the reason why in sense love we often seek ourselves, whereas in love of the will we seek God.  Often God takes away sense love to make us advance more resolutely, depending upon love of the will alone.

13.  With which love should we love God in prayer?
With the love of the will, assuredly, since it is the more important of the two.  If sense love accompanies this, instead of seeking pleasure in it, we should profit by its help to strengthen our will in the act of giving ourselves to God.  When sense love fails us, we should continue prayer with the will alone.

14.  How can I occupy myself for a whole hour in this conversation of love with God?
In the beginning of the practice, many souls experience great difficulty.  They tire easily and are plagued by many distractions.  It is therefore necessary to realize that making mental prayer is a thing to be learned.  In order to teach it, Carmelite theologians, after a study of the life of prayer, have devised a method of mental prayer.

End of Chapter One

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