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Thought for the Day – 24 May – The Recollection of Mary

Thought for the Day – 24 May – “Mary’s Month” – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

The Recollection of Mary

“It is believed that when the Angel Gabriel visited the Blessed Virgin in order to tell her that she was to be the Mother of God, she was in a quiet corner of her home, absorbed in prayer.
She had no love for the noise and confusion of the world but preferred to be recollected in the company of God.
This was to be the pattern of her whole life.
In the midst of her domestic duties, on her journey to St Elizabeth and on her travels in Galilee and Judea, in the wake of her divine Son, her mind and heart were always concentrated on God.

Interior recollection is a wonderful thing.
It helps us to hear God’s voice more clearly.
It keeps us removed from the temptations of the world and assists us in sanctifying every moment of our lives.

“The cell continually dwelt in growth sweet,” (Bk 1, C 20:5) says The Imitation of Christ and goes onto ask:  “What can thou see elsewhere that thou does not see here?   Behold the heavens and the earth and all the elements, for out of these are all things made” (Ibid C 20:8).
“As often as I have been amongst men,” it exclaims, “I have returned less a man” (Ibid C 20:2).
When we move around chattering with different people, we have lost something of ourselves by the time we return home.
Perhaps we have wasted a good deal of time in useless conversation or, worse still, have seen or heard unpleasant or disturbing things.
When we go about in the world, we do not often see much that is edifying or instructive and rarely meet people whose conversation does us good.
For this reason, even when we cannot remain apart, we should carry in ourselves, as Mary did, a spirit of interior recollection and communication with God.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

the recollection of mary - bacci 24 may 2020

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, MARIAN REFLECTIONS, MARY'S MONTH, MEDITATIONS - ANTONIO CARD BACCI, QUOTES - J R R Tolkien and MORE, QUOTES on PRAYER, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Thought for the Day – 17 May – Contemplation and Our Lady

Thought for the Day – 17 May – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)

Contemplation and Our Lady

“True contemplation has it’s origin in love, for when love is intense it gives a clear insight into that which is loved.
It is never the result of mere learning, which can be cold and uninspiring and, therefore, unable to give us a vision of the truth.
Many are learned without love, while there are others, who have no learning but love God and contemplate Him with a spiritual joy which is a prelude to the happiness of Heaven.
Contemplation is not, therefore, a gift of learning.
Even an illiterate man can have it, while those who study a great deal, may be without it.
For the most part, it is the gift of divine grace.
This is not to deny that the knowledge of sacred things, especially of theology, can promote contemplation.
It can help, as long as it is not the kind of learning which makes a man proud but, rather leads him nearer to God.
This is what St Paul meant when he said that “knowledge puffs up but charity edifies” (1 Cor 8:1).

Contemplation, then, begins in the love which is based on humility and on prayer.
The contemplative must always look for the help of divine grace without ever presuming on his own powers and without fooling himself, that he has made any progress of his own accord.
It does not matter whether he is an ignorant or a learned man, as long as he sees the reflection of God in all things and comes to know and love Him.
Then, under the the influence of divine grace, contemplation flows from the loving knowledge of God.
The Blessed Virgin was created and conceived full of grace and endowed with more supernatural privileges than any other creature.
Therefore, she knew and loved God in a higher way than any of the Cherubim or Seraphim.
It is only to be expected then, that she would have had the gift of contemplation.
Her prayer was an intimate conversation with God.
We have an example of this kind of contemplative prayer in the hymn which she composed when she became the Mother of the Word Incarnate.
“My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;  Because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid;  for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed….” (Lk 1:46-48).
In Mary, however, the contemplative life was united to the active life.
This was so, whether she was in the house in Nazareth, or following Jesus on His apostolic journeys, or co-operating with the Apostles in their great mission during her last years on earth.”

Antonio Cardinal Bacci

 

contemplation and mary 17 may 2020 bacci

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, Pope BENEDICT XVI, PRAYERS for VARIOUS NEEDS, PRAYERS to the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on MEDITATION, QUOTES on SELF-DENIAL, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 4 April – St Isidore of Seville (c 560-636) Father & Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 4 April – St Isidore of Seville (c 560-636) Father & Doctor of the Church, Creator of the first encyclopedia – often called “The Last Scholar of the Ancient World” and “The Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages.”   His most well known patronage is of computers and the internet (though not officially so_ – his full story with Patronages is here: https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/saint-of-the-day-4-april-st-isidore-of-seville-father-and-doctor-of-the-church/ but today we will follow his life with Pope Benedict XVI during his Catechetical audiences on the Doctors of the Church.   This was given at St Peter’s on Wednesday, 18 June 2008.saint-isidore-of-sevilla-miguel-zitow wow header

He was a younger brother of St Leander (c 534-c 600) memorial 13 March, Archbishop of Seville and a great friend of St Pope Gregory the Great.   Pointing this out is important, because it enables us, to bear in mind, a cultural and spiritual approach, that is indispensable for understanding Isidore’s personality.   Indeed, he owed much to Leander, an exacting, studious and austere person who created around his younger brother a family context, marked by the ascetic requirements proper to a monk and from the work pace demanded, by a serious dedication to study.   Furthermore, Leander was concerned to have the wherewithal to confront the political and social situation of that time – in those decades in fact, the Visigoths, barbarians and Arians, had invaded the Iberian Peninsula and taken possession of territories that belonged to the Roman Empire.   It was essential to regain them for the Roman world and for Catholicism. Leander and Isidore’s home was furnished with a library richly endowed with classical, pagan and Christian works.   Isidore, who felt simultaneously attracted to both, was, therefore, taught under the responsibility of his elder brother, to develop a very strong discipline, in devoting himself to study with discretion and discernment.st Isidor_von_Sevilla murillo

Thus, a calm and open atmosphere prevailed in the episcopal residence in Seville.   We can deduce this from Isidore’s cultural and spiritual interests, as they emerge from his works themselves, which include an encyclopaedic knowledge of pagan classical culture and a thorough knowledge of Christian culture.   This explains the eclecticism characteristic of Isidore’s literary opus, who glided with the greatest of ease from Martial to Augustine, or from Cicero to Gregory the Great.   The inner strife that the young Isidore had to contend with, having succeeded his brother Leander on the episcopal throne of Seville in 599, was by no means unimportant.   The impression of excessive voluntarism that strikes one, on reading the works of this great author, considered to be the last of the Christian Fathers of antiquity, may, perhaps, actually be due to this constant struggle with himself.   A few years after his death in 636, the Council of Toledo in 653 described him as “an illustrious teacher of our time and the glory of the Catholic Church.”Saint-Isidore---stained-glass.md

Isidore was, without a doubt, a man of accentuated dialectic antitheses.   Moreover, he experienced a permanent inner conflict in his personal life, similar to that which Gregory the Great and St Augustine had experienced earlier, between a desire for solitud, to dedicate himself solely to meditation on the word of God and, the demands of charity to his brethren, for whose salvation, as Bishop, he felt responsible.   He wrote, for example, with regard to Church leaders:  “The man responsible for a Church (vir ecclesiasticus) must on the one hand allow himself to be crucified to the world, with the mortification of his flesh and, on the other, accept the decision of the ecclesiastical order – when it comes from God’s will – to devote himself humbly to government, even if he does not wish to”   (Sententiarum liber III, 33, 1: PL 83, col 705 B).   Just a paragraph later he adds:  “Men of God, (sancti viri), do not in fact desire to dedicate themselves to things of the world and groan when by some mysterious design of God they are charged with certain responsibilities….   They do their utmost to avoid them bu,t accept what they would like to shun and do what they would have preferred to avoid.    Indeed, they enter into the secrecy of the heart and seek there to understand what God’s mysterious will is asking of them.   And when they realise that they must submit to God’s plans, they bend their hearts to the yoke of the divine decision”   (Sententiarum liber III, 33, 3: PL 83, coll. 705-706).st isidore old image

To understand Isidore better, it is first of all, necessary, to recall the complexity of the political situations in his time to which I have already referred – during the years of his boyhood he was obliged to experience the bitterness of exile.   He was, nevertheless, pervaded with apostolic enthusiasm.   He experienced the rapture of contributing to the formation of a people, that was at last, rediscovering its unity, both political and religious, with the providential conversion of Hermenegild, the heir to the Visigoth throne, from Arianism to the Catholic faith.   Yet we must not underestimate the enormous difficulty of coming to grips with such very serious problems as were the relations with heretics and with the Jews.   There was a whole series of problems which appear very concrete to us today too, especially if we consider what is happening in certain region, in which we seem almost to be witnessing the recurrence of situations, very similar to those, that existed on the Iberian Peninsular, in that sixth century.   The wealth of cultural knowledge that Isidore had assimilated, enabled him to constantly compare the Christian newness with the Greco-Roman cultural heritage, however, rather than the precious gift of synthesis, it would seem that he possessed the gift of collatio, that is, of collecting, which he expressed in an extraordinary personal erudition, although it was not always ordered as might have been desired.Saint-Isidore-by-Ambrosius-Benson1530.md

In any case, his nagging worry not to overlook anything, that human experience had produced, in the history of his homeland and of the whole world, is admirable.   Isidore did not want to lose anything that man had acquired, in the epochs of antiquity, regardless of whether they had been pagan, Jewish or Christian.   Hence, it should not come as a surprise if, in pursuing this goal, he did not always manage to filter the knowledge he possessed sufficiently, in the purifying waters of the Christian faith as he would have wished.   The point is, however, that in Isidore’s intentions, the proposals he made, were always in tune with the Catholic faith, which he staunchly upheld.   In the discussion of the various theological problems, he showed, that he perceived their complexity and often astutely suggested solutions, that summarise and express, the complete Christian truth.   This has enabled believers through the ages and to our times, to profit, with gratitude, from his definitions.   A significant example of this is offered by Isidore’s teaching on the relations between active and contemplative life.   He wrote: “Those who seek to attain repose in contemplation must first train in the stadium of active life and then, free from the dross of sin, they will be able to display that pure heart which alone makes the vision of God possible” (Differentiarum Lib. II, 34, 133: PL 83, col 91A).   Nonetheless, the realism of a true pastor, convinced him of the risk the faithful run, of reducing themselves to one dimension.   He therefore added: “The middle way, consisting of both of these forms of life, normally turns out to be more useful in resolving those tensions, which are often aggravated, by the choice of a single way of life and are instead better tempered, by an alternation of the two forms” (op. cit. 134; ibid., col 91B).st isidore glass

Isidore sought in Christ’s example the definitive confirmation of a just orientation of life and said:   “The Saviour Jesus offers us the example of active life, when during the day He devoted Himself to working signs and miracles in the town but, He showed the contemplative life, when He withdrew to the mountain and spent the night in prayer” (op. cit. 134: ibid.).   In the light of this example of the divine Teacher, Isidore can conclude with this precise moral teaching:  “Therefore let the servant of God, imitating Christ, dedicate himself to contemplation without denying himself active life. Behaving otherwise, would not be right.   Indeed, just as we must love God in contemplation, so we must love our neighbour with action.   It is therefore impossible to live without the presence of both the one and the other form of life, nor can we live without experiencing both the one and the other” (op. cit., 135; ibid. col 91C).   I consider that this is the synthesis of a life that seeks contemplation of God, dialogue with God in prayer and in the reading of Sacred Scripture, as well as action at the service of the human community and of our neighbour.   This synthesis, is the lesson that the great Bishop of Seville has bequeathed to us, Christians of today, called to witness to Christ at the beginning of a new millennium.   Amen … Vatican.va

Pedro Duque Cornejo and Manuel Guerrero de Alca'ntara, St. Isido
St Isidore at Seville Cathedral
576px-San_Isidoro,_Portada_del_Bautismo_de_la_Catedral_de_Sevilla
St Isidore on the Facade of Seville Cathedral

Prayer for the Intercession of St Isidore
before accessing the Internet

Almighty and eternal God,
who created us in Thy image
and bade us to seek after all that is good,
true and beautiful,
especially in the divine person
of Thy only-begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
grant we beseech Thee that,
through the intercession of Saint Isidore,
Bishop and Doctor,
during our journeys through the internet,
we will direct our hands and eyes
only to that which is pleasing to Thee
and treat with charity and patience,
all those souls whom we encounter.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Orátio ante colligatiónem in interrete:
*Omnípotens aetérne Deus,
qui secúndum imáginem Tuam nos plasmásti
et omnia bona, vera, et pulchra,
praesértim in divína persóna Unigéniti Fílii Tui
Dómini nostri Iesu Chrísti, quaérere iussísti,
praesta, quaésumus,
ut, per intercessiónem Sancti Isidóri, Epíscopi et Doctóris,
in peregrinatiónibus per interrete,
et manus oculísque ad quae Tibi sunt plácita intendámus
et omnes quos convenímus cum caritáte ac patiéntia accipiámus.
Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.
Amen

prayer for the intercession of st isidore before internet - 4 april 2020

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, DOCTORS of the Church, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on PRAYER, SAINT of the DAY, SPEAKING of .....

Quotes of the Day – 15 October – St Teresa of Jesus of Avila “Speaking of Prayer”

Quotes of the Day – 15 October – The Memorial of St Teresa of Jesus of Avila (1515-1582) Doctor of the Church – “Doctor of Prayer”

Speaking of:   Prayer

“Mental prayer, in my opinion,
is nothing else, than an intimate sharing
between friends.
It means taking time frequently,
to be alone with Him,
who we know loves us.
The important thing is,
not to think much but to love much
and so do, that which best stirs you to love.
Love is not great delight
but desire to please God in everything.”mental prayer is nothing else - st teresa of jesus of avila 15 oct 2019.jpg

“A beginner, must look on himself, 
as one setting out to make a garden
for his Lord’s pleasure, on most unfruitful soil
which abounds in weeds.
His Majesty roots up the weeds
and will put in good plants instead.
Let us reckon that this is already done,
when the soul decides to practice prayer
and has begun to do so.”a beginner must look on hmself - st teresa of jesus of avila 15 oct 2019.jpg

“Prayer is an act of love,
words are not needed.
Even if sickness distracts from thoughts,
all that is needed is the will to love.”

More here:
https://anastpaul.com/2018/10/15/quotes-of-the-day-15-october-the-memorial-of-st-teresa-of-jesus-avila-1515-1582-doctor-of-the-church/

St Teresa of Jesus of Avila (1515-1582)prayer is an act of love - st teresa of jesus of avila 15 oct 2019.jpg

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, Papa FRANCIS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on DISCIPLESHIP, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on MISSION, QUOTES on SANCTITY, The WORD

Quote/s of the Day – 8 October – ‘But let us continue on our way …’

Quote/s of the Day – 8 October – Tuesday of the Twenty Seventh week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Goaspel: Luke 10:38–42

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious
and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

Luke 10:42

“Our Lord’s words teach us that though we labour
among the many distractions of this world,
we should have but one goal.
For we are but travellers
on a journey without as yet a fixed abode,
we are on our way, not yet in our native land,
we are in a state of longing, not yet of enjoyment.
But let us continue on our way
and continue without sloth or respite,
so that we may ultimately arrive at our destination.”

St Augustine (354-430) Father and Doctor
(Sermo 103, 1-2, 6: PL 38, 613, 615)our-lords-words-teach-us-st-augustine-martha martha luke 10 42 8 oct 2019.jpg

“Action and contemplation
are very close companions;
they live together in one house on equal terms.
Martha and Mary are sisters.”

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Doctor of the Churchaction-and-contemplation-st-bernard-20-aug-2017-and-2019 and 8 oct 2019.jpg

“In bustling about and busying herself,
Martha risks forgetting —
and this is the problem —
the most important thing,
which is the presence of the Guest…
Most importantly He ought to be listened to. “

Pope Francisin busdtling about - forgets the guest - pop francis martha and mary - 8 oct 2019.jpg

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, DOCTORS of the Church, MARIAN QUOTES, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on HUMILITY, QUOTES on LOVE, QUOTES on PRAYER, SAINT of the DAY

Quote/s of the Day – 21 August – St Bernard

Quote/s of the Day – 21 August – Tuesday of the Twentieth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) “Doctor of Light”

“The measure of love
is love without measure.”the-measure-of-love-is-love-without-measure-st-bernard-20-aug-2018 and 2019 (1)

“Action and contemplation are very close companions;
they live together in one house on equal terms.
Martha and Mary are sisters.”action-and-contemplation-st-bernard-20 aug 2017 and 2019

“The three most important virtues are:
humility,
humility
and humility.”the-three-most-important-virtues-st-bernard-20-aug-2018 and 2019

“If the hurricanes of temptation rise against you,
or you are running upon the rocks of trouble,
look to the star – call on Mary!”if-the-hurricanes-of-temptation-st-bernard-5-may-2018 and 2019

“Let us not imagine that we obscure
the glory of the Son by the great praise
we lavish on the Mother –
for the more she is honoured,
the greater is the glory of her Son.
There can be no doubt that whatever we say
in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son.”

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

Doctor of the Churchlet us not imaine that the praise - st bernard - 20 aug 2019.jpg

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, DOCTORS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on PRAYER

Thought for the Day – 26 October – Prayer is the Light of the Soul

Thought for the Day – 26 October

Prayer is the Light of the Soulst john chrysostom on prayer - 26 oct 2018

“There is nothing more worthwhile than to pray to God and to converse with Him, for prayer unites us with God as His companions.   As our bodily eyes are illuminated by seeing the light, so in contemplating God our soul is illuminated by Him.   Of course, the prayer I have in mind is no matter of routine, it is deliberate and earnest.   It is not tied down to a fixed timetable – rather it is a state which endures by night and day.

Our soul should be directed in God, not merely when we suddenly think of prayer but even when we are concerned with something else.   If we are looking after the poor, if we are busy in some other way, or if we are doing any type of good work, we should season our actions with the desire and the remembrance of God.   Through this salt of the love of God we can all become a sweet dish for the Lord.   If we are generous in giving time to prayer, we will experience its benefits throughout our life.

Prayer is the light of the soul, giving us true knowledge of God.   It is a link mediating between God and man.   By prayer the soul is borne up to heaven and in a marvellous way embraces the Lord.   This meeting is like that of an infant crying on its mother and seeking the best of milk.   The soul longs for its own needs and what it receives is better than anything to be seen in the world.

Prayer is a precious way of communicating with God, it gladdens the soul and gives repose to its affections.   You should not think of prayer as being a matter of words.   It is a desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not of human origin but the gift of God’s grace.   As Saint Paul says : we do not know how to pray as we ought but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.

Anyone who receives from the Lord the gift of this type of prayer possesses a richness that is not to be taken from Him, a heavenly food filling up the soul.   Once he has tasted this food, he is set alight by an eternal desire for the Lord, the fiercest of fires lighting up his soul.

To set about this prayer, paint the house of your soul with modesty and lowliness and make it splendid with the light of justice.   Adorn it with the beaten gold of good works and, for walls and stones, embellish it assiduously with faith and generosity.   Above all, place prayer on top of this house as its roof so that the complete building may be ready for the Lord.   Thus He will be received in a splendid royal house and by grace, His image will already be settled in your soul.”

A reading from the homilies of St John Chrysostom  (347-407) Father & Doctor, (Hom 6 on Prayer)

Prayer:  Give us the grace, Lord, to be in constant prayer so all of our lives, may be accomplished in sincerity of heart.

St John Chrysostom, Pray for Us!st john chrysostom pray for us - 13 sept 2018

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, DOCTORS of the Church, MARIAN QUOTES, MORNING Prayers, QUOTES on HUMILITY, QUOTES on LOVE, QUOTES on PRAYER, SAINT of the DAY, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, The HOLY NAME

Quote/s of the Day – The Memorial of St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) “Doctor of Light”

Quote/s of the Day – The Memorial of St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)

“Doctor of Light”

“The measure of love is love without measure.”the measure of love is love without measure - st bernard - 20 aug 2018

“Are you troubled?
Think but of Jesus,
speak but the name of Jesus,
the clouds disperse
and peace descends anew from heaven.
Have you fallen into sin?
So that you fear death?
..invoke the name of Jesus
and you will soon feel life returning.
No obduracy of the soul, no weakness,
no coldness of heart can resist this holy name –
there is no heart which will not soften
and open in tears at this holy name.”are you troubled - st bernard - 20 aug 2018

“Action and contemplation are very close companions;
they live together in one house on equal terms.
Martha and Mary are sisters.”action and contemplation - st bernard - 20 aug 2018

“The three most important virtues are:
humility,
humility
and humility.”the three most important virtues - st bernard - 20 aug 2018

“There are those who seek knowledge
for the sake of knowledge – that is curiosity.
There are those who seek knowledge
to be known by others – that is vanity.
There are those who seek knowledge
in order to serve – that is Love.”there-are-those-who-seek-knowledge-st-bernard-20 aug 2017

“Let us not imagine that we obscure
the glory of the Son by the great praise
we lavish on the Mother –
for the more she is honoured,
the greater is the glory of her Son.
There can be no doubt that whatever we say
in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son.”let-us-not-imagine-st-bernard 20 aug 2017

“If the hurricanes of temptation rise against you, or you are running upon the rocks of trouble, look to the star – call on Mary!”

St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) “Doctor of Light”

if the hurricanes of temptation - st bernard - 5 may 2018

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, EUCHARISTIC Adoration, FRANCISCAN OFM, MORNING Prayers, ON the SAINTS, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on CHARITY, QUOTES on FAITH, QUOTES on LOVE, QUOTES on PRAYER, QUOTES on SANCTITY, SAINT of the DAY, St Pope JOHN PAUL, The BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, The HOLY EUCHARIST

Quote/s of the Day – 11 August – The Memorial of St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)

Quote/s of the Day – 11 August – The Memorial of St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)

“We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become.
If we love things, we become a thing.
If we love nothing, we become nothing.
Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ,
rather it means becoming the image of the beloved,
an image disclosed through transformation.
This means we are to become vessels of God’s
compassionate love for others.”

St Clare’s second letter to Blessed Agnes of Praguewe-become-what-we-love-st-clare-11 aug 2017

“ Blessed be You, O God, for having created me. ”

St Clare’s Last Wordsblessed-be-you-o-god-st-clare-11 aug 2017

“Cling to His most sweet Mother,
who carried a Son whom the heavens could not contain;
and yet she carried Him in the little enclosure of her holy womb
and held Him on her virginal lap.”cling-to-his-most-sweet-mother-st-clare-11 aug 2017

“Gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him,
as you desire to imitate Him.
….Totally love Him, Who gave Himself totally for your love.”

“They say that we are too poor
but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly called poor?
We should remember this miracle of the Blessed Sacrament when in Church.
Then we will pray with great Faith to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist:
‘Save me, O Lord, from every evil – of soul and body.’”

St Clare of Assisi (1194-1253)gaze-upon-him-consider-him-st-clare.11 aug 2017

St Pope John Paul II said of Saint Clare:
“her whole life was a Eucharist because …
from her cloister she raised up a continual ‘thanksgiving’ to God
in her prayer, praise, supplication, intercession, weeping, offering and sacrifice.

She accepted everything from the Father in union with the infinite ‘thanks’ of the only begotten Son.”

St Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)her-whole-life-was-a-eucharist-st-john-paul - 11 aug 2017

Posted in CCC, CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, QUOTES of the SAINTS, QUOTES on PRAYER

Contemplative Prayer – Listening to the Catechism, Part One

Contemplative Prayer – Listening to the Catechism, Part One

2709   What is contemplative prayer?
St Teresa answers: “Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] 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.”   Contemplative prayer seeks Him “whom my soul loves.”
It is Jesus and in Him, the Father. We seek Him, because to desire Him is always the beginning of love and we seek Him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of Him and to live in Him.
In this inner prayer we can still meditate but our attention is fixed on the Lord Himself.

2710   The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart.
One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time:  one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter.
One cannot always meditate but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state.
The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith.

2711   Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into 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.

Christ be in my heart and mind,
Christ within my soul enshrined;
Christ control, my wayward heart;
Christ abide and ne’er depart.

 

contemplative prayer - ccc part one - 7 august 2018 - christ be in my heart and mind

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, IGNATIAN/JESUIT SJ- Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more

The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

by Margaret Silf

Probably most of us, if we think of contemplative prayer at all, regard it as something that is beyond us and practiced only by a few contemplative monks and nuns whose whole lives are devoted to prayer.   Yet I have heard respected and experienced spiritual guides say that contemplation is often given to those you would least expect—to harassed mothers and people who think they can’t pray, to children, to the sick and dying, to people with no academic learning about prayer or Scripture or theology.   God sometimes seems to speak, heart to heart, in this mysterious way, to the untaught and unpracticed. None of us should imagine that the ways of contemplative prayer are closed to us because God is always infinitely larger than our expectations.

I suggest that creation itself gives us a gateway.   In every moment of our lives, a silent, invisible miracle of exchange is taking place.   We breathe out the air that our bodies no longer need, which is mainly carbon dioxide, a waste product for us but the very thing that the green leaves on the trees and plants need to produce their own energy.   So they receive our carbon dioxide and, through the process of photosynthesis, produce not only their own life energy, but also oxygen—a waste product for them but the very thing we need to live.   Whenever I stop my busyness for a few moments to look around me, I am amazed at this arrangement and it makes me think of prayer.

So perhaps a good way to open our hearts up to the gift of contemplation is simply to become still, and, quite literally, to breathe out our waste—all that clogs us and deadens us—and to breathe in God’s renewing life, as we breathe in the fresh oxygen that the plants have made for us.   This simple, deliberate breathing exercise can become something like what the French peasant was doing as he looked at God and God looked at him.   We are becoming aware of the mysterious exchange of life between ourselves and God.   And there is no reason that any period of quiet might not become prayer of this kind.

There may be other creatures who can help you cross the threshold of contemplation. If there is a baby in the family, try simply holding her in your arms as she sleeps and letting God hold both of you in his.   Nothing more.   No deep thoughts.   No search for meaning.   Just be there.

A cat (if you are not allergic to them!) can also be a great aid to prayer.   My own cat loves to sleep round my neck.   At first I found this disturbing but when he has settled into a particular hollow (perhaps where he can feel my pulse), he will lie there, quite still, just purring deeply, until he falls asleep and the purring ceases.   When he does this, I let myself find a hollow close to God’s pulse and let my own prayer become just a sleepy purr and then the silence of content.   Or you might discover prayer on a park bench.   The other day I was in Hyde Park and I spent a few minutes listening to the deep-throated cooing of the pigeons. I wanted to join them because, in their way, they were engaged in contemplative prayer, simply expressing, in this peaceful murmur, the song of their beings.

In your own home, prayer awaits you in the opening of a flower, the rising of your bread dough, or the steady, imperceptible development of a child.   Spend time in silence, aware of the wonder that is being unfolded in your cakes and your children, your houseplants or your garden.   For this is the essence of contemplative prayer—simple awareness, allowing God to be God, without trying to put the limitations of shape or meaning around him.

Contemplation, like all prayer, is pure gift and not anything we can achieve.   It happens when prayer becomes, wholly and utterly, the flow of God’s grace, transforming the land it flows through, like Ezekiel’s stream.   Or it happens when we lose consciousness of our own part in it and become simply receptors and carriers of grace.   It happens when we realise that our transformation depends on nothing but God’s grace and love, and, like the chrysalis, let go of all activity to try to achieve our own redemption.

When we try to describe it, we fail, for it lies beyond the world of words.   We can open our hearts to it by the practice of awareness but we cannot bring it about, any more than we can force a flower to open or an egg to hatch.   And in our silent, trustful waiting, we are acknowledging that God is God, the source and the destination, the means and the end of all our prayer, whatever form it may take.

from Close to the Heart: A Practical Approach to Personal Prayer

Make my Heart Still

“Lord take my poor heart.   It is often so far from You, lost in a thousand things and in the trifles that fill up my everyday life.   Lord, only You can collect the thoughts of my heart and have it concentrate on You, You who are the centre of all hearts, the Lord of all souls.   Only You can bestow the spirit of prayer, only Your grace is able to allow me to find You amidst this multitude of things, amidst the distractions of everyday life, YOU, the one necessity, the one person with whom my heart can become still.”

“When man comes to God in awe and love, then he is praying.”

Karl Rayner SJ – The Mystical Way in Everyday Lifewhen-man-comes-to-god-in-awe-and-love-karl-rayner-sj-11 july 2017

Posted in ADVENT, CARMELITES, CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, DOCTORS of the Church, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 14 December – (1542-1591) Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 14 December – (1542-1591) Doctor of the Church – Carmelite monk and Priest, Religious Founder, Writer, Poet, Mystic, Apostle of Contemplative Prayer.   Also known as • Doctor of Mystical Theology • John della Croce • John de la Croix • John de la Cruz.   Patronages – • contemplative life, contemplatives• mystical theology, mystics• Spanish poets• World Youth Day 2011• Segovia, Spain• Ta’ Xbiex, Malta.   Attributes – eagle, Crucifix, Cross, Carmelite habit.    John of the Cross is known for his writings.   Both his poetry and his studies on the growth of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and one of the peaks of all Spanish literature.   He was canonised as a saint in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII.   He is one of the thirty-six Doctors of the Church, added by Pope Pius XI in 1926.   His works are • Ascent of Mount Carmel• Dark Night of the Soul, Book 1 • Dark Night of the Soul, Book 2 • A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ.st john of the cross - infost john cross LARGE

St John was born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez into a converso family (descendents of Jewish converts to Christianity) in Fontiveros, near Ávila, a town of around 2,000 people.  John’s father had been disowned by his wealthy Spanish family when he married a poor weaver rather than a woman of equal economic status.   Living in poverty proved to be too much for him and he died shortly after John was born.   John spent much of his youth in an orphanage, where he was clothed, fed and given an elementary education.   At the age of 17, he found a job in a hospital and was accepted into a Jesuit college.   In 1563 he entered the Carmelite Order.   Eventually he enrolled in another university, where he did so well that he was asked to teach a class and to help settle disputes.

Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Avila and, like her, vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites.   As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform and came to experience the price of reform:  increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment.    John was caught up in a misunderstanding and imprisoned at Toledo, Spain.   During those months of darkness in that little cell, John could have become bitter, revengeful, or filled with despair.   But instead, he kept himself open to God’s action, for no prison could separate him from God’s all-embracing love.   During this time he had many beautiful experiences and encounters with God in prayer.   He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God.Zurbarán_St._John_of_the_Cross. - large

Yet, the paradox!   In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry.   In the darkness of the dungeon, John’s spirit came into the Light.   There are many mystics, many poets-  John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.the blessed St John of the Cross

 

But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece.   As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent;  as spiritual director, he sensed it in others;  as psychologist-theologian, he described and analysed it in his prose writings.   His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God:  rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification.   Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God.   If you want to save your life, you must lose it.   John is truly “of the Cross.”   He died at 49—a life short, but full.    AND his reforms of the “Discalced” Carmelites revitalised the Order.   He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI on 24 August 1926.

496px-diego_de_sanabria_-_saint_john_of_the_cross_-_google_art_project
Diego de Sanabria – Saint John of the Cross
535px-el_greco_-_view_of_toledo_-_google_art_project
Image above – El Greco‘s landscape of Toledo depicts the priory in which John was held captive, just below the old Muslim alcázar and perched on the banks of the Tajo on high cliffs
Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, IGNATIAN/JESUIT SJ- Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, MORNING Prayers

The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

by Margaret Silf

Probably most of us, if we think of contemplative prayer at all, regard it as something that is beyond us and practiced only by a few contemplative monks and nuns whose whole lives are devoted to prayer.   Yet I have heard respected and experienced spiritual guides say that contemplation is often given to those you would least expect—to harassed mothers and people who think they can’t pray, to children, to the sick and dying, to people with no academic learning about prayer or Scripture or theology.   God sometimes seems to speak, heart to heart, in this mysterious way, to the untaught and unpracticed. None of us should imagine that the ways of contemplative prayer are closed to us because God is always infinitely larger than our expectations.

I suggest that creation itself gives us a gateway.   In every moment of our lives, a silent, invisible miracle of exchange is taking place.   We breathe out the air that our bodies no longer need, which is mainly carbon dioxide, a waste product for us but the very thing that the green leaves on the trees and plants need to produce their own energy.   So they receive our carbon dioxide and, through the process of photosynthesis, produce not only their own life energy, but also oxygen—a waste product for them but the very thing we need to live.   Whenever I stop my busyness for a few moments to look around me, I am amazed at this arrangement and it makes me think of prayer.

So perhaps a good way to open our hearts up to the gift of contemplation is simply to become still, and, quite literally, to breathe out our waste—all that clogs us and deadens us—and to breathe in God’s renewing life, as we breathe in the fresh oxygen that the plants have made for us.   This simple, deliberate breathing exercise can become something like what the French peasant was doing as he looked at God and God looked at him.   We are becoming aware of the mysterious exchange of life between ourselves and God.   And there is no reason that any period of quiet might not become prayer of this kind.

There may be other creatures who can help you cross the threshold of contemplation. If there is a baby in the family, try simply holding her in your arms as she sleeps and letting God hold both of you in his.   Nothing more.   No deep thoughts.   No search for meaning.   Just be there.

A cat (if you are not allergic to them!) can also be a great aid to prayer.   My own cat loves to sleep round my neck.   At first I found this disturbing but when he has settled into a particular hollow (perhaps where he can feel my pulse), he will lie there, quite still, just purring deeply, until he falls asleep and the purring ceases.   When he does this, I let myself find a hollow close to God’s pulse and let my own prayer become just a sleepy purr and then the silence of content.   Or you might discover prayer on a park bench.   The other day I was in Hyde Park and I spent a few minutes listening to the deep-throated cooing of the pigeons. I wanted to join them because, in their way, they were engaged in contemplative prayer, simply expressing, in this peaceful murmur, the song of their beings.

In your own home, prayer awaits you in the opening of a flower, the rising of your bread dough, or the steady, imperceptible development of a child.   Spend time in silence, aware of the wonder that is being unfolded in your cakes and your children, your houseplants or your garden.   For this is the essence of contemplative prayer—simple awareness, allowing God to be God, without trying to put the limitations of shape or meaning around him.

Contemplation, like all prayer, is pure gift and not anything we can achieve.   It happens when prayer becomes, wholly and utterly, the flow of God’s grace, transforming the land it flows through, like Ezekiel’s stream.   Or it happens when we lose consciousness of our own part in it and become simply receptors and carriers of grace.   It happens when we realise that our transformation depends on nothing but God’s grace and love, and, like the chrysalis, let go of all activity to try to achieve our own redemption.

When we try to describe it, we fail, for it lies beyond the world of words.   We can open our hearts to it by the practice of awareness but we cannot bring it about, any more than we can force a flower to open or an egg to hatch.   And in our silent, trustful waiting, we are acknowledging that God is God, the source and the destination, the means and the end of all our prayer, whatever form it may take.

from Close to the Heart: A Practical Approach to Personal Prayer

Make my Heart Still

“Lord take my poor heart. It is often so far from You, lost in a thousand things and in the trifles that fill up my everyday life. Lord, only You can collect the thoughts of my heart and have it concentrate on You, You who are the centre of all hearts, the Lord of all souls. Only You can bestow the spirit of prayer, only Your grace is able to allow me to find You amidst this multitude of things, amdist the distractions of everyday life, YOU, the one necessity, the one person with whom my heart can become still.”

“When man comes to God in awe and love, then he is praying.”

Karl Rayner SJ – The Mystical Way in Everyday Life

when man comes to god in awe and love-karl rayner sj

Posted in CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, MORNING Prayers, Pope BENEDICT XVI

Thought for the Day – 8 July

Thought for the Day – 8 July

Unsteady Hearts – Learning to give thanks!

The lack of genuine gratitude we experience within our souls and even the sense of selfishness we can have in our prayers to God for deeper feelings toward Him can fill us with disgust.   It doesn’t take much in the way of self reflection to know how unsteady our hearts can be.   Are we really sorry for our sins or do we simply want the psychological relief of unburdening ourselves?   O’Connor sees both her tendencies towards scruples and utter laxity.   Yet, despite these unpleasant truths she can in the end step away from her self concern and self focus and say simply to God “I am thankful.”   In the end, we have to let go of self conscious shame and take hold of what is greater than ourselves and worthy of our attention.

“You’ve done so much for me already and I haven’t been particularly grateful.   My thanksgiving is never in the form of self sacrifice—a few memorised prayers babbled once over lightly.   All this disgusts me in myself but does not fill me with the poignant feeling I should have to adore You with, to be sorry with, or to thank You with.   Perhaps the feeling I keep asking for, is something again selfish—something to help me to feel that everything with me is all right.   And yet it seems only natural but maybe being thus natural is being thus selfish.   My mind is a most insecure thing, not to be depended on.   It gives me scruples at one minute and leaves me lax the next.  If I must know all these things through the mind, dear Lord, please strengthen mine.   Thank you, dear God, I believe I do feel thankful for all You’ve done for me. I want to. I do.”

Excerpt From: Flannery O’Connor. “A Prayer Journal.”

“Praying actualizes and deepens our communion with God.   Our prayer can and should arise above all from our heart, from our needs, our hopes, our joys, our sufferings, from our shame over sin and from our gratitude for the good.”………..Pope Benedict XVI

praying actualizes and deepens-pope benedict

Posted in CCC, CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, MORNING Prayers

Catholic Meditation and Contemplative Prayer: What’s the Difference?

Catholic Meditation and Contemplative Prayer: What’s the Difference?

To answer this question, let’s look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In the glossary, we find the following definitions (I’ve highlighted several words and phrases in each definition to help us parse out the difference):

First, for meditation:

MEDITATION: An exercise and a form of prayer in which we try to understand God’s revelation of the truths of faith and the purpose of the Christian life, and how it should be lived, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking.

And now, for contemplation:

CONTEMPLATION: A form of wordless prayer in which mind and heart focus on God’s greatness and goodness in affective, loving adoration; to look on Jesus and the mysteries of his life with faith and love.

So immediately we can see that Catholic meditation is a cognitive exercise — prayer seeking understanding; whereas contemplative prayer sets aside that kind of mental effort, seeking instead a wordless, loving adoration of Christ and his mysteries.

Put another way:  in meditation we think; in contemplation we rest our thoughts and simply love (and respond to love).

To unpack this a bit further, we can look into the body of the Catechism itself, for further insight into both meditation and contemplation.    In sections 2705-8 of the Catechism we find further insight into a Catholic understanding of meditation.    In the interest of brevity I’m only going to post a few key phrases but look it up in the Catechism and read the entire section:

Meditation is above all a quest.  The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking… To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves… To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them… Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire… This form of prayerful reflection is of great value but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.

Immediately following this (sections 2709-19) is the Catechism’s discussion of contemplative prayer.   Once again, here are just a few key phrases:

ccc2709-2719

 

Contemplative prayer seeks him “whom my soul loves.” … We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love… In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself…. One cannot always meditate but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state.   The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith… Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into 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… Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son… It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts. Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, “to his likeness.”
Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus… Contemplative prayer is silence, the “symbol of the world to come” or “silent love.” Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love… Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith… We must be willing to “keep watch with [him] one hour.”

The Catechism refuses to draw a hard and fast distinction between meditation and contemplation:  “in [contemplation] we can still meditate.”   Head and heart are both intimate parts of one being.   We may seek in contemplation to love and behold God in silence but thoughts will still dance in our minds.   But as “The Cloud of Unknowing” so helpfully teaches us, when meditative thoughts emerge during contemplative prayer, seek to be non-attached.   Let them arise and let them fall. Keep our focus “fixed on the Lord himself” — in contemplation our intent is to love God, not to think about God;   to know God rather than merely know about God.

Nevertheless, because meditation is an effortful prayer, there are times when we are simply too tired, or too angry, anxious, or whatever, to meditate.   Yet contemplative prayer, emphasising rest and silence, is always available to us.    Perhaps most important of all is the recognition that meditation is not the highest form of prayer: contemplation is.   Yet true contemplation is always a gift, a grace.   It’s not something we achieve, it’s something we receive.

To summarise:

  • Meditation is a quest;   contemplation involves rest.
  • Meditation is mental, cognitive, discursive;   contemplation is silent, heart-centered, beholding
  • Meditation is important, contemplation even more so.
Posted in CCC, CONTEMPLATIVE Prayer, MORNING Prayers

Contemplative Prayer – Making a Start

“Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No 2715).

Contemplation is the prayer of the heart and not of the mind.   Contemplative prayer may focus on a word or a saying or one may simply be in the presence of God.   It is the prayer of the listening heart.   The goal of contemplative prayer is to enter into the presence of God where there are no words, concepts or images.  It is the prayer of being in love.

HOW:  Before the Blessed Sacrament – sit or kneel.   Gaze into the Tabernacle or look into the Monstrance.   Be still.   Focus on your breathing.   Ask Mary to help you to pray. Pray to the Holy Spirit.   Then peacefully repeat a word or a phrase:   ‘Jesus; Jesus I love you; Jesus I trust in you; Father; Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’, etc.   Don’t continue to repeat the word or the words over and over again.   Only use the word or the phrase when your mind begins to wander.   Focus your gaze on the Eucharist.   Be open to whatever Jesus is asking of you.

At home – sit or kneel.   Close your eyes.   Again, be still and focus on your breathing.   Ask Mary to help you to pray.   Pray to the Holy Spirit.   As before, repeat a word or a phrase, rooted in the scripture, the creed, a prayer or an aspect of our Christian faith.   Do not repeat the word or words over and over again.   Remember to use the word only when your mind begins to wander.   Focus your gaze on the loving presence of God within you.  If you begin to feel embraced by God, be still and be silent.   Just allow the Holy Spirit to pray within you.

Jesuit Father William Johnston who has written much about contemplative prayer said: “Properly understood, contemplation shakes the universe, topples the powers of evil, builds a great society and opens the doors that lead to eternal life”.

What are the practical steps that we can take in order to incorporate into our busy lives daily contemplative prayer?

  • First of all, we need balance in our lives.   When was the last time that we enjoyed dinner with family and friends, or turned off our cell phone and refrained from checking our email at every moment?   Excessive work and travel, excessive involvement in sports and entertainment are tearing us apart.
  • Secondly, contemplation requires the capacity to be alone.   It is difficult to be alone in our contemporary society.   Even when we are alone, the noise of our own worries and fears drown out the silence of God’s voice.   Many people are incapable of being alone and they immediately feel an obsession to talk with someone on a cell phone or check their email.
  • We all need moments of solitude.   Spending a quiet time before the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures during a peaceful moment at home, taking tranquil walks through the woods or along the beach all are necessary for our soul.   In order to be with God, we must develop the ability to be alone with ourselves.

Excerpt from Fr James Farfaglia’s Homily on Contemplative Prayer

“The only trouble is that in the spiritual life there are no tricks and no shortcuts.   Those who imagine that they can discover spiritual gimmicks and put them to work for themselves usually ignore God’s will and his grace.”

“We do not want to be beginners.   But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!”

“Hence monastic prayer, especially meditation and contemplative prayer, is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in Him whom we have found, who loves us, who is near to us, who comes to us to draw us to Himself.”

― Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

THOMAS MERTON ON CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER NO 1