Friday, November 05, 2010

Little Catechism of Prayer: Chapter 3: Preparation and Reading

1.  Are there different kinds of preparation for prayer?
Carmelite authors often speak of a two-fold preparation:  the proximate preparation by which the soul makes immediate contact with God to begin its intimate conversation with Him and the remote preparation by which the soul disposes its faculties that it may the more easily become recollected in God.

2.  What dispositions of soul are required as a preparation?
To dispose our faculties for recollection, we should avoid becoming excessively absorbed by things of the world and try to be occupied more frequently with God Two points help us to cultivate these dispositions and make up  our remote preparationthe first, because it removes obstacles, is negative; the second, because it forms in us correct dispositions, is positive.

3.  What is NEGATIVE element of the remote preparation?
The negative element of the remote preparation is the avoidance of distractions of mind and all attachments.  In order to practice more easily the love of God, it is necessary that our hearts be freed from all attachments to creatures.  He who love God greatly must reserve for Him the strength and tenderness of his affections and not squander them on persons and things which easily ensnare an unguarded heart.  Moreover, we cannot attain this liberty of spirit without real mortification of the senses which are to the soul like windows opened upon earthly things; nor can we have liberty of spirit without control of those memories which keep the world constantly before us.  It is necessary, therefore, to keep constant watch over the heart and mind.

4.  What is the POSITIVE element of the remote preparation?
The positive element is the exercise of the presence of God, which we endeavor to make continuous as far as possible.  Fidelity to this practice  develops in us increasing facility in speaking with God and greater ease in establishing the intimate contact with Him known as the proximate preparation for prayer.

5.  What spiritual attitude is most helpful in establishing this contact with God?
An attitude of humble confidence helps us to assume our rightful relationship with God.  God is indeed our Father and He wants us to act towards Him as needy children.  We shall awaken within ourselves a consciousness of our spiritual poverty by the remembrance of our many faults, the evidence of our misery.  But far from going back upon ourselves and feeling discouraged by the sight of our weakness, we shall seek refuge in the arms of Jesus Who invites us to have recourse to Him in the words, "Without Me you can do nothing."  This is the reason why St. Teresa tells us to examine our conscience at the beginning of prayer, recite the Confiteor and then seek the company of Jesus.

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