Thursday, November 25, 2010
Reflection is the first component part of meditation and consists in thinking and reasoning over the subject chosen. Even this step, however, must be subordinate to the following, that is, the loving conversation with God, which is begun and stimulated by meditation.
7. How much time should be given to reasoning in this way?
The fact that is subordinate to the loving conversation indicates that it should last only long enough to lead the soul into this conversation, that is to say, until it produces in our soul the profound conviction that we are loved by God and invited to love Him in return. We should make a mistake, however, were we to think that we should cease our reflections, or lay them aside, as soon as we feel a little pious affection, for this might quickly vanish and leave us blank. On the contrary, we must continue to reflect until our will is really enkindled with love in such a way as to be able to remain for some time in this loving attention.
8. Should reflections be made methodically?
They may be. St. Teresa counsels us to consider in our meditation of the Passion of our Lord, who it is that suffers, what he suffers, why, with what dispositions. In this the Saint is following other contemporary authors. We need not, however, adhere so rigidly to this order in our reflections, but may without detriment allow our minds to roam freely from one thought to another, provided in the end we come to a deeper appreciation of God's love for us as manifested in the mystery we are considering.
9. What should be done by those who cannot meditate?
St. Teresa gives another methods of controlling thoughts and exciting love to those whose imaginations and ideas are so volatile that they can only with the greatest difficulty stop at one idea and reflect on it in an orderly fashion so as to appreciate its meaning. She urges such souls to recite very slowly some vocal prayer full of meaning , pausing to consider attentively the sense of the words, to reflect upon them and to express their love.
10. When does the loving colloquy begin?
The loving colloquy begins as soon as we have formed the lively conviction that we ought to return God's love for us. The ease with which we can place ourselves in this necessary disposition determines how soon we can begin our loving conversation. We acquire this facility by practice.
11. What do we say in this colloquy?
We make known above all our desire to love God and to prove our love. Taking our theme from the mystery we are considering, we refer to it in many ways and our colloquy becomes most varied. It should be noted that we may express our love not only for the Most Holy Trinity, but also for our Lord. We may also speak lovingly to the Saints.
12. How should does colloquy be made?
It can be made in many ways. We may use vocal expressions of affection, or we may speak to God interiorly with a movement of the heart or will. These expressions may be brief and follow one another rather frequently, or they may be prolonged and repeated only at fairly long intervals. We might even be content just to remain lovingly in God's company.
13. Must this conversation be continuous?
Yes, it should be continuous in the sense that we should remain in contact with our Lord, but not in the sense that we must be speaking all the time. Carmelite authors are careful to point out that we should not speak long or in an excited manner, but rather peacefully with frequent pause, in order to be attentive to God's answer.