PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life
Chapter 3: The Life of Prayer
Article 1, Expressions of Prayer
I. Vocal Prayer (cont’d)
§ 2703 This need also corresponds to a Divine requirement. God seeks worshippers in Spirit and in Truth, and consequently living prayer that rises from the depths of the soul. He also wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders Him that perfect homage which is His due.
§ 2704 Because it is external and so thoroughly human, vocal prayer is the form of prayer most readily accessible to groups. Even interior prayer, however, cannot neglect vocal prayer. Prayer is internalized to the extent that we become aware of Him “to whom we speak” (St. Teresa of Jesus, “The Way of Perfection” 26, 9 in “The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila”). Thus, vocal prayer becomes an initial form of contemplative prayer.
§ 2705 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. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them [there is an ample supply]: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history – the page on which the “today” of God is written.
§ 2706 To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. 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. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
§ 2707 There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly, lest they come to resemble the three first kinds of soil in the parable of the sower (cf. Mark 4:4-7, 15-19). But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the One Way of prayer: Christ Jesus.
§ 2708 Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the Mysteries of Christ, as in Lectio Divina [Divine Reading] or the Rosary. 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.
Tomorrow – Contemplative Prayer
(Part IV, Section 1, Chapter 3, Article 1 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviation in today’s posting is noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”