Friday, November 26, 2010

Little Catechism of Prayer: Chapter 4: Meditation and Colloquy

14.  Does God speak in this colloquy?
 It would not be a colloquy if we were the only ones to speak.  St. Teresa teaches us that God does speak to us when we pour out our hearts to Him.  We need not think, however, that God makes himself heard in an audible manner.  He answers us by sending us graces of light and of love whereby we understand His ways better and burn with desire to embrace them generously.  Listening, therefore, consists in accepting these graces and in striving to profit by them.

15.  Why is this colloquy also called contemplation?
This colloquy is called contemplation because when we begin to speak to God and listen to Him, we no longer reason as we did in meditation but are content to give our attention to the mystery we have come to appreciate so well by means of meditation; or we simply gaze at Jesus or the heavenly Father with whom we speak.  This simple regard exemplifies the traditional notion of contemplation, the simple gaze which penetrates truth.  And as God is accustomed to communicate His light to our souls in this colloquy, there is verified in a lesser degree in this contact that which in a much fuller sense pertains to contemplation properly so called, namely, an infusion of heavenly light.

16.  How long should this colloquy last?
We need set no limits to it; it may even take up the entire time at prayer.  In fact, the simplification of prayer consists by its very nature in making reflections less frequent in order to leave room for affections which in turn become more calm and prolonged.  In the beginning, however, it is not easy for us to occupy ourselves for very long in the expression of our love.  Hence, we may well have recourse to the final steps of the method, that is, thanksgiving, oblation, and petition.

17.  Why do we thank God?
We have many motives for thanking God.  We have received so much from Him, even personally, both in the order of nature and in the order of grace.  To have been born of Catholic parents and to have been baptized without delay, to have been brought up in the true religion, and above all, to have been favored with a vocation- these are so many gratuitous benefits for which we can never sufficiently thank Him.  And then, how many graces God continues to pour out upon us!  The very exercise of prayer itself is a  call from Him to penetrate more deeply into the spirit of our state of life.  We should show our gratitude for this divine bounty.  Add to this God's goodness towards persons in whom we are interested: our friends, our benefactors, persons entrusted to our care.  Finally, we can thank not only God Himself, but also the Blessed Virgin and the Saints for their intercession on our behalf.

18.  What can we OFFER to God?
Having received all from God, we rightly  make an oblation of ourselves to Him in return, desiring to employ all the faculties  of our being in His service.  We may also renew our Profession, since it is the consecration of our entire life to God.  We must not, however, be content with these general offerings, which because they include so much, do not always have a definite effect upon our conduct.  We should rather make some particular resolution, and show our Lord our determination to practice a certain virtue, to fight heroically against temptation, or to accept generously some trial or suffering.  By such firm, well-defined resolutions, we bring our prayer into closer contact with our daily life.  Hence, it is advisable to end our prayer with a practical resolution, even when we do not make an oblation.

19.  For whom should we make our petition?
Our own great poverty urges us to have continual recourse to petition.  After having taught us, "without Me you can do nothing", our Lord added, "ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened to you."  Our spiritual progress, therefore, is greatly dependent upon our asking God for it, which we should do earnestly and with confidence.  We should, moreover, pray for others, for their temporal and spiritual necessities, and above all, for their salvation and sanctification.  Our interest should extend not only to particular souls, but also to Christian society, to religious Orders, to our own spiritual family, to Holy Church.   Knowing however that souls dear to our Lord have greater power over His heart, and being desirous of obtaining much from Him, we should strive to render ourselves pleasing to His Majesty by a life detached from the world and directed solely towards the quest for intimacy with Him.  In this way, we shall realize the ideal which St. Teresa proposed to her daughters, that of becoming intimate friends of our Lord, Who makes use of this friendship to bestow His divine graces upon the world.

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