Ask a Carmelite Sister…
Question: Dear Sister, I am just starting out on a deeper prayer life – how can I meditate and pray better?
Answer: Your question has been asked thousands of times, maybe millions, by people of all cultures and faiths. All of us were born with an innate desire to pray, to acknowledge the“Uncaused Cause,” to logically follow the path of creation back to the “Prime Mover,” to follow the inclination of our soul’s longing for God.
The story is told of a parent who did not believe in God. He did not teach his children about God. One day, as the story was told me, he found his little daughter, about four years old, in the woods with hands upraised and eyes fastened upon the sky. He asked her,“What are you doing?” for he had never told her about God nor about prayer. With a joyful smile on her face she said, “Daddy, I’m just thanking whoever made all this for me.”
This type of spontaneous prayer rises up within all of our souls. Your question, however, refers to a more stable time and place for prayer, a method, a way, a process. After thinking about your question and praying about it, here is my answer. It is just a beginning. . . . .
All prayer is a form of adoration. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2628) reminds us that the first attitude of man is to acknowledge that he is a creature before his Creator. This is the basis of all Christian spirituality. Thus, in any prayer we come before God in profound adoration.
All prayer whether vocal, meditative or contemplative requires a period of preparation, a settling down, silence, being present to God in order to ease into the actual time of prayer.
Meditation is a form of prayer that draws us into the Light where we beg, “Lord, that I may see!” In order to see more clearly we look into the mirror of Christ that we might come face to face with ourselves. The light reflected back to us enables us to better know ourselves, to know others and to know Christ. In this way we discover God’s will for us today – NOW.
As we read and reflect on some subject of the Christian life, a scene in the life of Christ, a passage in Scripture or some mystery of our faith we bring all our faculties: thought, imagination, emotion and desire (CCC 2708) into play. We are not merely spectators on the sidelines but participants in the scenes that unfold before us. The NOW is before us and Our Lord is speaking not to some historical person(s) of the past but He is looking at me personally, directing His conversation to me or unfolding His mystery to me.
In humility we have asked “to see”; therefore, we move from our faculties into the reality of our own lives in the here and now. What does this thought, this scene, these words have to do with me, with the way that I approach life? What does Jesus want me to learn? What is He asking of me? Is He perhaps leading me along a path I would rather not follow? Are there attachments in my life that are blocking my path, burdens that I would prefer not to carry, sufferings that I do not wish to endure? Where are the blind spots that prevent me from taking the next step?
Beg the grace of the Holy Spirit to remove whatever is preventing the full inflow of His grace. Make one resolution for the day that is practical and measurable that you can carry out before your next period of meditation. Take a brief thought that summarizes your prayer that you can repeat to yourself throughout the day.
Close your prayer with gratitude for this opportunity you have spent in God’s presence.
Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.
Send your questions for Sister to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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