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


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 JESUIT SJ, MORNING Prayers

The Present Moment is the Only Real Moment

The Present Moment is the Only Real Moment

“The spiritual life always concerns itself with the present.
Retreatants are very inclined to worry about the future and be guilty about the past.
It is important to set goals for the future and to implement ways to achieve those goals.
It is also important to review the past, claim the history of grace and sin and more grace.
But the PRESENT MOMENT is the only real moment…………….live in the NOW moment because the present is the ONLY moment of grace.”…….Fr Bill Creed SJ

Say goodbye
to golden yesterdays
……….or your heart
will never learn
to love
the present.

Fr Anthony de Mello SJ “Wellsprings”

Pause in your activities today – perhaps when you are in the car, or between meetings, or busy doing ‘mother’ things that leave you mindless – and be STILL in the present moment of grace.   This is the beginnings of contemplative prayer.

say goodbye - fr anthony de mello