Saturday, November 5, 2011

Three Ways of Prayer

Three Ways of Prayer:
Vocal, Meditation, Contemplation

Vocal Prayer: By words, mental or vocal, our prayer takes flesh. Yet it is most important that the heart should be present to him to whom we are speaking in prayer. Catechism #2700

Think of vocal prayer as a young flower, a few buds, but no full blooms.

Meditation: Meditation is above all a quest...The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books...Catechism #2705

Think of meditation as a more mature flower, it has been nurtured and well-tended and has produced a beautiful bloom

Contemplation: What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: "Contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us." Catechism #2709
Think of Contemplation as the exquisite Rose, a symbol of God's beauty and purity shining through the soul. Now in full bloom, it's only requirement: to soak in the sunlight.

Vocal and Meditative prayer require human effort. It is difficult to pray when one does not "feel" like it. As Carmelites, we have made a commitment to 1/2 hour of mental prayer each day. This requires the taking up of our cross in being present to the Lord amid dryness, distractions,and a lack of sensible consolation. St. John of the Cross warns us about being attached to sensible consolations in prayer. And many souls who begin the life of prayer quickly give up when the consolations cease. The Lord desires faithful lovers, who love him because he is worthy to be loved and not for the favors he bestows upon the soul.

Here is a beautiful quote from the Catechism's section on prayer-#2711:

Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering in to the Eucharistic Liturgy: we "gather up:" the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed.

Wow! What a beautiful description of the contemplative heart. A heart that all the faithful are called to. In this prayer, our whole being participates in the love and adoration of the Holy Trinity. As the Virgin Mary, our model exclaimed, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!"

Carmelites are a witness to the world of this call. A call that is stifled in our society. A society that is focused on material things, on sensible things, on my own things, on a number of things.

Who will climb the mountain of the Lord? Who will heed the call of the Lord? A call to intimate union, intimate friendship with him? We need the Holy Spirit to enlighten the hearts of the faithful. Remember, we too were once in the dark before the Lord opened our eyes to see him and to begin the pilgrimage up Mount Carmel.

St. John of the Cross began his pilgrimage in the dark night of faith.

One dark night,
fired with love's urgent longings
--ah, the sheer grace!--
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

1 comment:

Erin said...

Exquisite entry! Thank you for all of this! It is so familiar and explained so well! It's nice to know that this is what happens and something we can relate to! May God reward you!