Thursday, November 04, 2010

Little Catechism of Prayer: Chapter 2: The Method of Mental Prayer

9.  Why meditate?
The meditation or personal reflection which we make on the divine gift or on the mystery we have chosen in our reading, serves a double purpose, one intellectual, the other affective. Its intellectual function is to make us more conscious of the love of God for us, a love which is manifested in the mystery or the divine gift that we are considering.  We thus become more and more convinced of the call of love addressed by God to our soul.  The affective function consists in moving the will to love and to show this love by answering the divine invitation.  Meditation then becomes an immediate preparation for a loving conversation with our Lord.

10.  How does one pass from meditation to the loving colloquy?
This transition is not to be made at a precise, mathematically determined moment, but quite spontaneously.  While making personal reflection in the presence of God and seeing more clearly in the light of these how much God loves us, we feel easily moved on our part to speak lovingly to Him.  It often happens that we continue these personal reflections for some time while conversing with our Lord, and this serves to give us a greater realization of His love for us.  Finally, we leave behind all considerations in order to abandon ourselves entirely to the exercise of love and to its manifestations; in other words, we pass to the loving colloquy.  In this colloquy we tell God and repeat in a thousand ways that we love Him, that we desire to love Him more and to prove our love to Him.

11.  Is this colloquy important?
This colloquy is important; it is the central point of prayer.  In it is clearly realized the idea that St. Teresa had of mental prayer, that it consists in an intimate conversation with our Lord in response to His love for us.  Moreover, the soul could occupy itself in this way during prayer for a long time, sometimes for the whole hour.

12.  What is the purpose of the last three parts of prayer?
The last three parts or steps of prayer, that is, thanksgiving, oblation, and petition, serve to prolong more easily our loving conversation with our Lord.  They are really only more definite acts of affection, various ways of manifesting our love.

13.  With what sentiments should we make these acts?
In the thanksgiving, we testify to our Lord our humble gratitude for His great love for us and for the gifts we have received from Him.  In the offering or oblation, urged by loving gratitude, we in our turn want to give something to our Lord.  In the petition, humbly convinced of our weakness and great need, and desirous of really loving our Lord, we implore His help that we may succeed and be faithful to the resolutions formed in the oblation.  These steps then, in the strict sense, are a prolongation of the loving colloquy, flowing spontaneously from our meditation.

14.  Is it necessary to follow a definite order in the arrangement of the parts of prayer?
The order indicated above is the most logical, but one may feel perfectly free at prayer; it is legitimate to follow any order in which the steps spontaneously suggest themselves.  We may even take up any one part several times.  This applies to the meditation and the loving colloquy which we may also alternate repeatedly during the same prayer.

15.  Are the final parts of the payer necessary?
No, these acts are optional.  A soul that finds sufficient occupation in the loving colloquy without having recourse to these acts may disregard them.  In the beginning of the life of prayer, however, a certain variety of acts is often an aid to attention.  In this case the soul would do well to have recourse to these acts.

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