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

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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, 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 - 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 - 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