Prayer

by Abbot Columba Marmion, O.S.B.

[Abbot Marmion was declared Blessed on Sept. 3, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
Follow the link for more on his life.]

 

SUMMARY. The importance of prayer: the life of prayer is transforming. I. Nature of prayer: the intercourse of a child of God with his Heavenly Father, under the action of the Holy Spirit. II. The first element that must determine the direction of the intercourse or conversation is the measure of the grace of Christ; discretion to be kept in this respect; the teaching of the great masters of the spiritual life; the method is not prayer. III. Second element: the state of the soul. The different stages in the way of perfection characterize, in a general manner, the different degrees of the life of prayer. The discursive labor of beginners. IV. How important the contemplation of the mysteries of Christ is in the illuminative way; the state of prayer. V. The prayer of faith; extraordinary prayer. VI. The dispositions requisite to render prayer fruitful: purity of heart, recollection of mind, docility to God's will, humility and reverence. VII. How union with Christ Jesus through faith can alone make the life of prayer fruitful; the joy that is born to the soul from this life of prayer.

 

O U R Lord's desire to give Himself to us is so great that He has multiplied the means whereby He does so. Besides the different Sacraments, He has appointed prayer as the source of grace. As I have often said in the course of these conferences, it is true that the Sacraments produce grace by the very fact of being applied to the soul that places no obstacle to their action.

Prayer has not, of itself, an equally intrinsic efficacy. It is however no less necessary in order to obtain Divine help. We see Christ Jesus grant miracles to prayer, during His public life. A leper comes to Him: "Lord have mercy on me ", and He heals him. They bring a blind man to Him. "Lord," he says, "grant that I may see." Our Lord restores his sight. Martha and Magdalen say to Him: "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, our brother had not died." That was a prayer of impetration [petition] to which Our Lord responds by the resurrection of Lazarus.

These are temporal favors; but grace itself is granted to prayer. The Samaritan woman asks Him to give her of the living water of which He is the Source and that procures eternal life, and He reveals Himself to her as the Messias and leads her to confess her sins in order to give her the remission of them. Upon the cross, the good thief asks Him for a remembrance, and He grants him plenary forgiveness: "This day, thou shalt be with Me in Paradise."

Our Lord has, moreover, urged us to make this kind of impetration:

"Ask and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you .1 If you will ask the Father anything in My name (that is to say, making your claim through Me), He will give it you."2 St. Paul too exhorts us "by all prayer and supplication" to pray "at all times in the Spirit ".3 You see how the vocal prayer of impetration is a powerful means of drawing down upon us the gifts of God.

 

It is especially of mental prayer I want to speak to you. This is a very important subject.

Mental prayer is one of the most necessary means for attaining union with God here below and being made like to Christ Jesus. The frequent contact of the soul with God, through the prayer of faith and the life of prayer, is a powerful aid towards the supernatural transformation of our souls. If prayer is well made, the life of prayer is transforming.4

Still more, union with God in prayer enables us to partake with more fruit of the other means which Christ has established whereby He may communicate Himself to us and make us like to Him. How can this be? Is mental prayer greater and more efficacious than the Holy Sacrifice, than the reception of the sacraments that are the authentic channels of grace? Certainly not. Each time we approach these sources we obtain from them an increase of grace and Divine life. But this increase depends, at least in part, on our dispositions.

Now prayer, the life of prayer, maintains, stimulates, animates and perfects those sentiments of faith, humility, confidence and love which together form the best predisposition for the soul to receive Divine grace in abundance. A soul given to prayer profits more from the sacraments and other means of salvation than another whose prayer is without constancy and intensity. One may recite the Divine Office, assist at Holy Mass and receive the sacraments, but if the soul does not give itself faithfully to prayer its progress will often be mediocre. 'W'hy is that? Because the principal author of our perfection and holiness is God Himself and it is prayer that keeps the soul in frequent contact with God; it establishes and, after having established, maintains, as it were, a furnace in the soul. Even if the fire of love is not always active, at least it lies smoldering, and as soon as the soul is put in direct communication with the Divine life, for example, in the sacraments, this fire is enkindled as by a powerful breath, making it rise upwards and wonderfully increase. The supernatural life of a soul is measured by its union with God through Christ, in faith and love; this love must bring forth acts, but these acts, if they are to be produced in an intense and regular manner, require the life of prayer. It can be established that according to ordinary ways, our progress in Divine love practically depends on our life of prayer.

Let us then say what is the nature of prayer - what are its degrees - next, what dispositions are necessary for prayer to produce all its fruits.

There is scarcely need to tell you that I do not intend to give here a treatise upon prayer. Many excellent ones exist. I will simply touch on some essential points in relation with the central idea of these conferences: that is to say, our supernatural adoption in Christ Jesus which makes us live by His grace and His Spirit.

I

 

What is prayer?

We will define it as the intercourse of the child of God with his Heavenly Father. You will note the words "the intercourse of the child of God ". I have used them designedly. Sometimes men are to be met with who do not believe in Christ's Divinity, like certain deists of the eighteenth century and such as those who instituted, at the French Revolution, the cultus of the Supreme Being and invented prayers to the "Divinity ". They perhaps thought to dazzle God with these prayers which were nothing better than the vain conceits of a purely human spirit that God could not accept.

Such is not our prayer. It is not simply as creatures we speak with God, but as children with our heavenly Father coming before Him to adore and praise Him, to tell Him of our love, to learn to know His will and obtain from Him the necessary help to accomplish this will.

Undoubtedly, we can never forget our condition of creatures, that is to say, of nothingness, but the point of departure, or rather the standpoint on which we ought to place our intercourse with God is the supernatural stand-point. In other words it is our Divine sonship, our quality of children of God through the grace of Christ, that ought to determine our fundamental attitude in prayer.

Hear how St. Paul throws light on this point. "We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings."5 Now St. Paul says, in the same place, this Spirit Who prays for us and in us, is the Spirit of adoption that "giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God, and if sons heirs also . . whereby we cry, Abba Father."6 This Spirit was given to us when "the fulness of time being come, God sent His Son . . . that we might receive the adoption of sons."7 Because the grace of Christ makes us the children of God, He has also sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts so that we may pray to God as to a Father: Quoniam estis flu, misit Deus Spiritum Fuji sui in corda vestra.8 Because indeed, we "are no more strangers and foreigners ", but members of God's family, built upon the foundation of which Christ Jesus is the chief corner-stone: ipso summo angulari lapide Christo Jesu.9

Let us listen to Our Lord Himself. He came to be the "Light of the world ", and His words, full of truth, tell us the way we are to follow: Ego sum lux mundi, et via et veritas.10

Seated upon the edge of Jacob's well, He speaks with the Samaritan woman.11 This woman has just acknowledged that He Who speaks to her is a prophet, one sent by God, and at once she asks Him (it was the subject of lively contestation between her compatriots and the Jews) if God must be adored on the mountains of Samaria or at Jerusalem. And what does Christ reply? "Woman, believe Me that the hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, adore the Father . . . the hour cometh, and now is, Et nunc est, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore Him." Note how Our Lord lays stress on the name of Father. At Samaria, as you know, false gods were adored, and that is why Christ says it is "in truth ", that is to say it is the true God Who must be adored. At Jerusalem, the true God was adored, but not "in spirit"; the religion of the Jews was altogether material in its expression and in its aim. It is the incarnate Word Who inaugurates - Et nunc est - the new religion, that of the true God, adored in spirit, the spirit of the Divine, supernatural, and spiritual adoption, whereby we are made children of God; and that is why Our Lord insists upon this term of "Father ". "The true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth." Doubtless, as we are adoptive children, and as God, while making us His children, diminishes nothing of His Divine Majesty nor of His absolute sovereignty, we must adore Him, prostrate ourselves before Him; but it is in spirit and in truth we must adore Him, that is to say in the truth and spirit of the supernatural order whereby we are His children.

Our Lord is elsewhere still more explicit. With the Samaritan woman He has, so to speak, laid down the principle; with His disciples He gives the example. One day, says St. Luke, He was praying; "when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him: Lord, teach us to pray. "12 And what reply does Christ give? "When you pray, you shall pray thus: Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name . . ." Never forget this: Our Lord is God. As the Word, He is ever in sinu Patris; no one knows God except the Son; Christ, then, knows perfectly what we ought to say to God, or ask of Him, so as to be those "true adorers" for whom God seeks. He knows perfectly too in what attitude we ought to come before God in order to speak with Him. and be pleasing to Him. He reveals to us that which He sees: Unigenitus Dei Filius . . . ipse enarravit.13 And we must listen to what He reveals. He is the Way we must follow without fear: he who follows this way "walketh not in darkness "14 Now what does Jesus say when He wants to teach us this science of prayer that He has declared to be so necessary that we ought always to pray: Oportet semper orare?15 He begins by pointing out the title we ought to give to God before offering Him our homage, this title that is like the direction or, if you will, the tone that is to be given to the conversation, and on which we are to support our petitions - the title that denotes what the attitude of the soul should be in God's presence. And what is this title? "Our Father . .

We thus gather from the very lips of Christ, the beloved Son in Whom the Father is well pleased, this precious teaching that the first and fundamental disposition we must have in our relations with God is that of a child in presence of his father. Certainly, once more - and this point is not less important - this child will never forget his primitive condition of a creature fallen in sin and having within him a source of sin that is able to separate him from God: for He Who is our Father dwells in Heaven, and is likewise our God. "I ascend to My Father and to your Father: to My God and to your God",16 said Our Lord when about to leave His apostles. That is why the child of God will always have deep reverence and great humility; he will pray that his sins may be forgiven, that he may not succumb to temptation, that he may be delivered from evil; but he will crown this humility and this reverence with unshaken confidence - for "every perfect gift is from on high coming down from the Father of lights "17- and with a tender love, the love of a son for his father, and for a father who loves him.18

Prayer, then, is like the expression of our intimate life as children of God, like the outcome of our Divine sonship in Christ, the spontaneous blossoming of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. And that is why it is so vital and so fruitful. The soul that gives itself regularly to prayer derives therefrom ineffable graces that transform it little by little to the image of Jesus, the Only Son of the heavenly Father. "The door," says St. Teresa, "by which graces of choice, such as those God has given to me, enter into the soul, is prayer; once this door is closed, I do nor know how He could grant them to us. "19

The soul too derives from prayer a joy resembling a foretaste of the blissful union of heaven, of that eternal heritage awaiting us. "Amen, I say to you," says Christ Jesus, "if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you . . . that your joy may be full ": Ut gaudium vestrum sit plenum.20

Such is mental prayer: a heart to heart communing between God and the soul; "a communing alone with God, so as to express our love to Him by Whom we know ourselves to be loved."21

And this communing of the child of God with his heavenly Father is accomplished under the action of the Holy Spirit. God promised by the prophet Zacharias, that, under the new covenant, He would pour out upon souls the spirit of grace and of prayers: Eflundam super habitatores Jerusalem Spiritum gratiae et precum.22 This spirit is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, Whom God sends into the hearts of those whom he predestines to be His children in Christ Jesus. The gifts which this Divine Spirit confers on our souls on the day of baptism, by the infusion of His grace, help us in our relations with our Father in Heaven. The gift of fear fills us with reverence in presence of the Divine Majesty: the gift of piety harmonizes, with fear, the tenderness of a child towards a beloved father; the gift of knowledge places the truths of the natural order in a new light; the gift of understanding makes us penetrate into the hidden depths of the mysteries of faith; the gift of wisdom gives us the relish, the affective knowledge of revealed truths. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are very real dispositions which we do not take enough into account. It is by these gifts that the Spirit, Who dwells in the soul of the baptized as in a temple, helps and guides us in our intercourse with the Heavenly Father. Spirisus adjuvat injirmitatem nostram . . . IPSE postulat pro nobis gemitibus inenarrabilibus.23

 

The essential element of prayer is the supernatural contact of the soul with God whence it imbibes that Divine life that is the source of all holiness. This contact is produced when the soul, raised by faith and love, supported by Jesus Christ, yields itself to God, to His will, through the movement of the Holy Spirit: Sapiens cor suum tradidit ad vigilandum diluculo ad Dominum qui fecit ilium, et in conspectu Altissimi deprecabitur.24 No reasoning, no purely natural effort, can produce this contact: Nemo potest dicere: Dominus Jesus, nisi in Spiritu Sancto." This contact is produced in the darkness of faith, but it fills the soul with light and life.

Prayer is, then, the expression, under the action of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, of the sentiments that result from our Divine adoption in Jesus Christ; and that is why it is accessible to every baptized soul of good will. Moreover, Christ Jesus invites all His disciples to tend to perfection, so that they may be worthy children of the heavenly Father: Estote ergo vos perfecti, sicut et Pater vester caelestis pert ectus est.26 Now perfection is only practically possible if the soul lives by prayer. Is it not therefore evident that Christ has not willed that the manner of treating with Him in prayer should be difficult or beyond the capacity of the most simple souls that sincerely seek Him? This is why I have said mental prayer may be defined as the intercourse or conversation of a child of God with his Heavenly Father: Sic orabitis: Pater noster qus es in caeclis.

 

II

 

In a conversation, one both listens and speaks. The soul gives itself up to God, and God communicates Himself to the soul.

To be able to listen to God and receive His light, it is enough if the heart is filled with faith, reverence, humility, ardent confidence and generous love.

In order to speak to God, it is necessary to have something to say to Him. What is to be the subject of the conversation? That depends principally on two elements: the measure of grace that Christ Jesus gives to the soul, and the state of the soul itself.

The first element to be taken into account is the measure of the gifts of grace communicated by Christ: Secundum mensuram danationis Christi.27 Christ Jesus, being God, is absolute Master of His gifts; He dispenses grace to the soul as He wills; He pours His light into us as it pleases His Sovereign Majesty. By His Spirit, Christ guides and draws us to His Father. If you read the masters of the spiritual life, you will see they have always religiously respected the sovereignty of Christ in the dispensation of His favors and lights. That explains their extreme reserve when they have to intervene in the relations of the soul with God.

St. Benedict, who was a great contemplative, favored with extraordinary graces of prayer, and was a past-master in the knowledge of souls, exhorts his disciples to give themselves frequently to prayer:

Orationi frequenter incumbere;28 he makes it clearly understood that the life of prayer is absolutely necessary in order to find God. But, when it concerns regulating the manner of giving one's self to it, he is singularly discreet. He naturally supposes one has already acquired a certain habitual knowledge of Divine things from the assiduous reading of the Holy Scriptures and the works of the Fathers of the Church. Concerning prayer, he contents himself first of all with pointing out what ought to be the attitude of the soul when approaching God, namely, profound reverence and humility.29 He wills that the soul should remain in God's presence in a spirit of great compunction and perfect simplicity; this is the best attitude in which to listen to the voice of God with profit. As to mental prayer itself, beyond linking it closely with the psalmody (of which it is, as it were, only the interior prolongation), St. Benedict makes it consist of short and fervent aspirations of the heart towards God. Repeating the counsel of Christ,30 he says we ought to avoid multiplicity of words; our prayer ought to be short unless prolonged under the prompting of the Holy Spirit dwelling in the soul by grace. We do not find anything more formally laid down on this subject by the legislator of the monastic life. [Editor's note: Click here for some examples of short prayer, i.e. aspirations. See also About Short Prayer.]

Another great master of the spiritual life, arrived at a high degree of contemplation and full of the lights of grace and experience - St. Ignatius of Loyola - has written some words of which we cannot too much weigh the deep wisdom. "For each one," he writes to St. Francis Borgia, "that meditation is the best in which God communicates Himself the most. For God knows and sees what is most suitable for us, and, knowing all, He Himself points out to us the way to be followed. But we first have to grope dimly, before finding this way which will lead us to the life that has no end where we shall enjoy the most holy gifts of God."31 The saint teaches, then, that the care of showing to each soul the best manner of speaking with Him must be left to God.

St. Teresa, in different places in her Works, expresses the same thought: "Whether a soul gives herself much or little to prayer, it is extremely important not to constrain her too much, nor to hold her, as it were, chained up in a corner. "32

St. Francis of Sales is not less reserved. Hear what he says. The text is a little long, but it well characterizes the nature of prayer- the fruit of the gifts of the Holy Spirit - and the discretion necessary to regulate it: "Do not suppose, my daughters, that prayer is a work of the human mind; it is a special gift of the Holy Spirit, raising the powers of the soul above their natural strength, so that they may be united to God by sentiments and communications that all the discourses and wisdom of men cannot produce without Him. The ways by which He leads the saints in this exercise (the most Divine employment of a reasonable creature) are wonderful in their diversity; and they are all to be honored, since it is to God they bring us and under the guidance of God; but we must not be anxious to follow them all, nor even to choose any of them of our own impulse; the important point is to discover what is the attraction of grace for us and to be faithful to it."33

Such testimonies could be multiplied, but these are enough to show that much as the masters of the spiritual life urge souls to give themselves to prayer - for it is a vital element of spiritual perfection - so too do they take care not to impose indiscriminately upon every soul one way rather than another. We say "impose "; they praise or recommend certain ways; they suggest or propose particular methods: all have their value which it is well to know, all have their utility which can be experienced; but to wish to impose indifferently on every soul one exclusive method would be not to take into account either the Divine liberty with which Christ Jesus distributes His grace, nor the attractions placed in us by His Spirit.

As for the matter of method, what helps one soul may be a hindrance to another. Experience shows that many souls that have facility in speaking habitually and simply with God and gain much good from this intercourse, would be impeded if one tried to tie them down to such or such a method. It is then for each and every soul to study for themselves first of all what is the best manner for them of conversing with God. They should, on the one hand, consider their aptitudes, their dispositions, tastes, aspirations, and kind of life, and seek to know the attraction of the Holy Spirit, besides taking into account the progress they have made in spiritual ways. On the other hand, they should be generously docile to the grace of God and the action of the Holy Spirit. Once the best way is found, after some inevitable trials at the beginning, they should keep faithfully to it, until the Holy Spirit draws them into another way. This is, for them, the condition of gaining fruit from their prayers.

Another point I consider important and one very closely connected with the preceding, is not to confound the essence of prayer with the methods, whatever these may be, that are used in making mental prayer. Some souls think that if they do not use such or such a method, they are not praying, a mistake which cannot be without danger in its consequences. Having bound up the essence of prayer with the use of some special method, they dare not change the method, even when they have recognized that it is an obstacle for them or has become useless; or even, which most often happens, finding the method wearisome, they relinquish it and, at the same time, relinquish the prayer itself, and this to their great detriment. Method is one thing, prayer another. The method ought to vary according to the aptitudes and needs of souls, while prayer (I am speaking of ordinary prayer) remains substantially always the same for every soul - an intercourse in which the child of God pours out his soul before the Heavenly Father, and listens to Him in order to please Him. The method, by sustaining the mind, helps the soul in its union with God; it is a means, but ought not to be, nor to become, an obstacle. If such a method enlightens the intelligence, warms the will, leads it to yield itself to the Divine guidance, and to pour itself out before God, then it is good; but it should be abandoned when it really fetters the attraction of the soul, constrains us, and does not help us to make any progress in the spiritual way; or, on the contrary, when it has become useless in consequence of the progress already made.

 

  III.

 

The second element necessary to be taken into account in order to fix the habitual subject of our intercourse with God, is the state of the soul.

The soul is not always in the same state. As you know, ascetic tradition distinguishes three stages or states of perfection - the purgative way, or that of beginners; the illuminative way, where the fervent advance; and the unitive way, belonging to perfect souls. These states are thus named according as such or such a characteristic predominates, although not exclusively: here, the labor of purifying the soul; there, its illumination; lastly, its state of union with God. It goes without saying that the habitual nature of prayer varies according to the stage the soul is in.34 Therefore, reservation made of the attraction of the Holy Spirit,35 and of the aptitudes of the soul, a beginner in spiritual ways ought to try to acquire the habit of mental prayer by personal effort. Although the Holy Spirit helps us powerfully in our relations with our Heavenly Father, His action is not produced in the soul independently of certain conditions resulting from our nature. The Holy Spirit leads us according to our nature. We are intelligence and will, but we only will the good we know; affection is only felt towards the good shown by the intelligence. In order to attach ourselves fully to God - and is not that the best fruit of prayer ? - we must therefore know God as perfectly as possible. That is why, says St. Thomas, "all that renders faith true is ordered towards charity."36

At the beginning, then, of its seeking after God, the soul ought to store up intellectual principles and knowledge of our faith. Why? Because, without that, one will not know what to say and the prayer will degenerate into vague reverie, without depth or fruit, or else will become an exercise full of weariness that the soul will soon abandon. This knowledge has first of all to be stored up; then, afterwards, maintained, renewed and increased. How is this to be done? By applying oneself for some time, with the aid of a book, to prolonged reflection on some point of Revelation. The soul consecrates a period, longer or shorter according to its aptitudes, to considering in detail the chief articles of faith. The result is that, in these successive reflections, the necessary notions are gained that serve as a point of departure for prayer.

This purely discursive work ought not to be confounded with prayer. It is only the introduction, useful and necessary to enlighten, guide, render pliant or sustain the intelligence, but an introduction all the same. Prayer only really begins at the moment when the will, set on fire with love, enters supernaturally into contact with the Divine Good, yielding itself lovingly to God in order to please Him and fulfill His precept and desire. It is in the heart that prayer essentially dwells. It is said of the Blessed Virgin that she kept the words of Jesus In corde suo, " in her heart."37 When Our Lord taught His apostles to pray, He did not bid them apply themselves to such or such reasoning, but to tell the love of their hearts as children; Sic orabitis: Pater noster... sanctificetur nomen tuum. St. Augustine says that the petitions Christ has instructed us to make are the model of what the desires of our hearts should be.38 A soul - we are here only making a supposition - that would regularly confine itself to the work of intellectual reasoning, even on matters of faith, would not be applying itself to prayer.39 This is why some are to be met with, even among beginners, who reap more fruit from a simple reading, interspersed with affections and aspirations of the heart, than from an exercise where the reason enters almost exclusively into play. But in order to guard against the illusions of sloth, the soul ought necessarily to be aided by the counsels of an enlightened director.

 

IV

Nevertheless it is a fact proved by experience that the more a soul advances in spiritual ways, the more the discursive work of reasoning is reduced. Why is this? Because the soul is now filled with the knowledge of Christian truths. It is no longer needful to store up notions of faith. These have already been gained. There is nothing more to do but maintain and renew them by the reading of holy books.

It follows that long considerations are far less necessary to one all permeated with Divine truths; such a soul possesses all the material elements of prayer and can now enter into contact with God without discursive labor. This law of experience naturally allows of exceptions that must be carefully respected. There are some far advanced in spiritual ways who can never enter into prayer without the help of a book; reading serves to put them in the right atmosphere for prayer; it would be a mistake for them to do without it. There are others who can only commune with God through vocal prayer; they would be ill at ease if led into another way. However, as a general rule, it remains true that in the same measure that one progresses in the light of faith and in fidelity, the action of the Holy Ghost increases within the soul, and there is ever less need of having recourse to reasoning in order to find God.

This is above all true as experience shows, of those whose knowledge of Christ's mysteries is deeper and more extensive. Listen to what St. Paul wrote to the early Christians. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly," Verbum Christi habitet abundanter in cordibus vestris.40 The great Apostle desires this in order that the faithful may teach one another "in all wisdom ". But this exhortation is of value too for our own intercourse with God. Why so?

The word of Christ is contained in the Gospels which, with the letters of St. Paul and St. John, are the most supernatural, because they are inspired, exposition of Christ's mysteries. The child of God therein finds the best title to his Divine adoption and the Model he has to imitate. Christ Jesus shows Himself to us in His earthly existence, in His doctrine, in His love. We there find the best source of the knowledge of God, of His nature, His perfections and His works. Illuxit in cordibus nostris, in facie Christi Jesu.41 Christ is God's great Revelation to the world. God tells us: "This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him": Ipsum audite. It is as if He said to us: If you wish to please Me, look at My Son; look at My Son, imitate Him; I ask nothing besides this, for in this is your predestination that you be conformed to My Son.

Look at Our Lord and contemplate His actions; that is the most direct way of knowing God. To see Him is to see His Father; He is only one with His Father; He only does what is pleasing to His Father. Each of His actions is the object of His Father's complacency and we should delight in making it the object of our contemplation.

"Were you at the summit of contemplation," writes St. Teresa, "take no other road than that of regarding the holy Humanity of Jesus. One walks with assurance along that road. Our Lord is for us the source of every good; He Himself will teach us. Look at His life; He is the best Model." And the saint adds: "If instead of taking the habit of having (in prayer) this holy Humanity ever present before us - and would to God it was ever present - we purposely and deliberately do precisely the contrary, once again that is what I disapprove of. To act thus is to walk on air, as they say. And in fact, however full of God a soul may believe itself to be, it lacks a point of support. Being men, it is very advantageous to us, as long as we are in this life, to consider God made man."42

But Christ has not only acted. He has also spoken: Caepit facere et docere.43 All His words reveal the Divine secrets to us. He only speaks of that which He beholds; and His words, as He Himself tells us, are for us "spirit and life "; they contain life for the soul, not in the manner of the sacraments, but they bear with them the light that enlightens and the strength that sustains. The actions and words of Jesus are for us motives of confidence and love and principles of action.

That is why the words of Christ ought to "abide" in us so as to become in us principles of life; that is the reason too why it is useful for the soul that desires to live by prayer to read the Gospels constantly, and to follow the Church, our Mother, when she represents to us the actions and recalls the words of Jesus in the course of the liturgical cycle. In making all the stages of the life of Christ, her Bridegroom and our Elder Brother, pass before our eyes, the Church supplies us with abundant food for prayer. A soul that thus follows Our Lord step by step possesses, presented by the Church, the material elements necessary for prayer; it is there the faithful soul finds above all the "Word of God ", and, being united to Him by faith, it brings forth supernatural fruit. For the least word of Jesus Christ is for the soul a light, and a source of life and peace.

It is the Holy Spirit Who makes us understand these words and all that they contain for each one. What did Jesus say to His apostles before ascending into Heaven? "The Holy Ghost Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind whatsoever I shall have said to you": Suggeret vobis omnia quaccumque dixero vobis.44 That promise is ever being fulfilled, for Christ's words do not pass away. Christ, the Incarnate Word, together with His Father, gave us His Spirit on the day of our baptism, which made us children of the heavenly Father and Christ's own brethren. This Spirit abides in us. Apud vos manebit et in vobis erit.45 And what does He do in us, this Divine Spirit, the Spirit of Truth? He brings to our mind the words of Jesus. Our Lord Himself tells us so. What does this mean? It means that when we contemplate the actions and mysteries of Christ Jesus, either in reading the Gospel or a "Life" of Our Lord, or when, under the Church's guidance, in the course of the liturgical year, one day it happens that some word, such as we have many times read and reread without its having particularly struck us, suddenly stands out in supernatural relief in a way we have not hitherto known. It is a flash of light that the Holy Spirit makes all at once to rise from the depth of the soul; it is like the sudden revelation of a source of life hitherto unsuspected, like a new and wider horizon that opens out before the eyes of the soul; it is like a new world that the Spirit discovers to us. He, Whom the liturgy names "the finger of God" Digitus Dei,46 engraves this Divine word on the soul, there ever to remain a light and principle of action; if the soul is humble and attentive, this Divine Word works therein, silent but fruitful.

When we are every day faithful to consecrate a time, longer or shorter according to our aptitudes and duties of state, in speaking with our Heavenly Father, in gathering up His inspirations and listening to what the Holy Spirit "brings to mind ", then the words of Christ, the Verba Verbi, as St. Augustine calls them, go on multiplying, inundating the soul with Divine Light and opening out in it fountains of life so that the soul's thirst may be ever assuaged. In this is realized the promise of Christ Jesus: that if any man should thirst, and come to Him and drink there should spring up within him that believeth "rivers of living water ". And St. John adds: "This He said of the Spirit which they should receive, who believed in Him."47

  The soul, in return, constantly expresses itself in acts of faith, repentance, compunction, confidence, love, complacency and submission to the will of the heavenly Father. It moves in an atmosphere that maintains it more and more in union with God. Prayer becomes its breath, its life; it is filled with the spirit of prayer. Prayer then becomes a state, and the soul can find its God at will, even in the midst of many occupations.

  The moments in the day that the soul consecrates exclusively to the formal exercise of prayer are only the intensifying of this state in which it remains habitually, but gently, united to God, speaking to Him interiorly and listening to the voice from on high.

This state is more than the simple presence of God. It is an intimate intercourse, full of love, in which the soul speaks to God, sometimes with the lips, most often from the heart, and remains intimately united to Him, despite the variety of the day's work and occupations. There are many souls, simple and upright, who, faithful to the attraction of the Holy Spirit, reach this desirable state.

"Lord, teach us to pray! ..."

 

 

V

 

Soon, however, in the same measure as the soul draws near to the Supreme Good, it shares the more in the Divine simplicity. In meditation, we form a conception of God for ourselves by means of what we learn from reason and Revelation; in the measure we advance in the supernatural life, these conceptions become simpler, but these conceptions are not God. Where are we to find God as He really is? In pure faith. Faith is for our souls, during this life, what the Beatific Vision will be in heaven where we shall see God, face to face.

Faith reveals to us God's incomprehensibility; when we arrive at seeing that God infinitely surpasses all our conceptions, then we have arrived at the point where we begin to understand what God is. The conceptions we have of God, although they be only analogical, manifest to us however something of the Divine perfections and attributes; in the prayer of faith, the soul understands that the Divine essence, in itself, in its transcendent simplicity, is nothing that the intelligence, even with the help of the Revelation, can represent to us.48 From the eye of the soul has been taken away all that the sense, imagination, even the intelligence, up to a certain point, represented to it. It rests where God is shown by pure faith.

The soul has progressed, has passed successively through the sphere of the senses and imagination, of intellectual notions and revealed symbols, and has reached the veil of the Holy of holies. It knows God is hidden behind that veil as in the darkness; it almost touches Him, but does not see Him. In this state of the prayer of faith, the soul remains recollected in God, feeling united to Him in spite of the darkness that the beatific light alone will dispel; it tastes, without varying much of its affections, the sweetness of resting there before God: Sub umbra illius quem desideraveram sedi, et fructus ejus dulcis gutturi meo.49

That is the beginning of the prayer of quiet; it can be affirmed that many souls, faithful to grace, attain to it. When this kind of prayer has taken strong hold in a soul, the soul finds in this most simple adherence of faith, in this embrace of love, the courage, the inward elevation, the liberty of heart, humility before God, and submission to His will, that are so necessary in this long pilgrimage towards the holy mountain, towards the fulness of God: Aliud est, says St. Augustine, sermo multus, aliud diuturnus aflectus.50

Then, if it pleases the Supreme Goodness, God leads the soul beyond the common frontiers of the supernatural so as to give Himself to it in mysterious communications where the natural faculties, raised by the Divine action, receive, under the influence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit - notably the gifts of understanding and wisdom - a higher mode of operation. Mystic writers describe the different degrees of these Divine operations which are sometimes accompanied by extraordinary phenomena, such as ecstasy.51

We can in nowise reach such degrees of prayer and union with God by our own efforts. They depend solely on the free and supreme Will of God. May we, however, desire them?

Not, if it concerns the accidental phenomena that may accompany contemplation such as ecstasy, revelations, stigmata; that would be presumption and temerity [i.e. rashness].

But if it concerns what is the very substance itself of contemplation, that is to say the most pure, simple and perfect knowledge which God gives us therein of Himself and His perfections, and the intense love the soul derives from this knowledge, then, I would say to you, desire with all your strength to possess a high degree of prayer and to enjoy perfect contemplation. For God is the principal author of our sanctity; He acts powerfully in these communications, and not to desire them would be not to desire to love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind and our whole strength.52

And then, what is it that gives to our life all its value, that determines for our part - reservation made of the Divine action - the degree of holiness to which we are to attain? It is, as I have said, the purity and intensity of the love with which we pass through this life and perform our actions. Now, beyond the direct action of the sacraments, this purity and intensity of charity come to us abundantly in prayer, and that is why it is so useful for us; that, too, is why we may legitimately desire to attain a high degree of prayer.

It is clear, however, that we ought to subject this desire to the will of God. He alone knows what is best for our souls; and while sparing neither our efforts to remain generously and humbly faithful to present grace, nor our ardent aspirations towards higher perfection, it is extremely important to keep always in peace, assured as we are of God's goodness and wisdom in regard to each one of us.

 

VI

 

Now returning to the subject of ordinary prayer, it remains for me to speak of the dispositions of heart we must bring to it so as to render it fruitful.

To have intercourse with God, it is first of all necessary to be detached from creatures. We cannot fittingly speak to our heavenly Father if creatures occupy the imagination, the mind and above all the heart. Purity of soul is extremely necessary. It is an indispensable remote preparation.

Moreover, we must be recollected. A light, dissipated soul, one habitually distracted and making no effort to repress the wanderings of the imagination, will never be a soul of prayer. During prayer itself, we ought not to disturb ourselves about the distractions we may happen to have, but remain faithful, and lead the mind gently back without violence, by the aid of a book if needful, to the subject that should be occupying us.

Why is this outward solitude, and this interior detachment, so necessary for prayer? Because as I have said, repeating the words of St. Paul, it is the Holy Spirit Who prays in us. Now His action in the soul is extremely delicate; we ought in nothing to act in opposition to it, which St. Paul calls "grieving the Holy Spirit of God";53 if we do so, this Divine Spirit will become silent. But we must, whilst yielding ourselves to Him, put away every obstacle opposed to the liberty of His operations. We ought to say: Loquere, Domine, quia audit servus tuus.54 "Speak, 0 Divine Master! speak to my soul, and grant that my soul may hear." But we can only hear this voice well in the silence of the soul.

  We must especially be in that general and fundamental disposition of refusing nothing God may ask of us, and, following Our Lord's example, of being ready to do all that pleases His Father. Quae placita sunt ei facio semper.55 This is an excellent disposition because it yields the soul to the fulfilling of the Divine will. When we say to God in prayer: "Lord, Thou art infinitely good and perfect, Thou alone dost merit all love and all glory. I give myself to Thee, and because I love Thee, I embrace Thy holy will," then the Divine Spirit shows us some imperfection to be corrected, some sacrifice to be made or a good work to be done; and our love will lead us to exterminate all that is displeasing in the sight of our Father in Heaven and will carry us on to the fulfillment of His good pleasure.

This disposition must furthermore be one of profound reverence in presence of our Father's majesty: Patrem immensae majestatis.56 We are adopted children; of ourselves, we remain creatures. God, even when He communicates Himself intimately to the soul, remains God, that is to say, the infinitely Supreme Being: Dominus universorum.57 Adoration is an essential movement of the soul when we come before God. Pater tales quarit qui adorent eum in spiritu et in veritate. Note the alliance between the two terms: Pater . . . adorent; we become children of God, but we remain creatures.

God, moreover, wills that, by this humble and deep reverence, we should acknowledge our powerlessness; in prayer, He subjects the giving of His graces to this acknowledgment which is at the same time an act of homage to His power and goodness. Resistit superbis, humilibus autem dat gratiam.58 "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." And you know how in the parable of the Pharisee and Publican, Our Lord impresses this truth on us.

This humility ought to be the greater in a soul that has offended God by sin. The attitude of the soul must then reveal that inward compunction that makes us regret our sins and prostrate ourselves at Our Lord's feet like Magdalen the sinner.

However, despite our past sins and present miseries, we are able to approach very near to God. How can we do so? Through Our Lord. "God is so great, so holy, so perfect," you may say. That is true. Of ourselves we are far from God, but Christ Jesus has "made us nigh" [i.e. near], Facti estis prope in sanguine Christi 59 "I am so poor and miserable!" That too is certain, but Christ makes us rich with His own riches with which to come before His Father. "My soul has been so stained!" But the Blood of Jesus has washed it and restored all its beauty. It is Christ Who supplies for our misery, our unworthiness. We must lean upon Him in prayer. By His Incarnation, He has filled up the distance that separates man from God.

 

VII

 

This point is of such importance for every soul aspiring to the life of prayer, that I want to insist on it.

You know that between God and us, between the Creator and the creature the gulf is infinite. "I am Who am," the Being subsisting by Myself: Ego sum qui sum.60 Every other being is taken out of nothingness. Who is going to throw a bridge across this gulf? Christ Jesus. He is preeminently the Mediator, the Pontiff. [editor's note: The word "Pontiff" now mans the Pope but it's root is: "from Latin pns (stem pont-), bridge (earliest meaning, "way, passage," preserved in the priestly title pontifex, "he who prepares the way". dictionarycom.] It is through Jesus Christ alone we can be raised up to God. The Incarnate Word tells us decisively: Nemo venit ad Patrem nisi per me.61 "No man cometh to the Father, but by Me." It is as if He said: "You will never attain to the Divinity save in passing through My Humanity." Never forget He is the Way, the only way. Christ alone, God and Man, raises us up to His Father. We here see how important it is to have a living faith in Christ Jesus. If we have this faith in the power of His Humanity, as being the Humanity of a God, we shall be assured that Christ can make us enter into contact with God. For, as I have often told you, the Word in uniting Himself to human nature, has, in principle, united us all to Himself. And if we are united to Him by grace, Christ bears us with Him in sancta,62 as St. Paul says, into "the Holy of holies," the sanctuary of the Divinity where, as Word, He is before all ages: Et Verbum erat apud Deum.63

Through Christ we have become God's children: Misit Deus Filium suum ut adoptionem filiorum reciperemus;64 it is likewise through Christ and united with Christ that we truly act as children of God and fulfill the duties proceeding from our Divine adoption. Consequently, we ought never to begin our prayer without uniting ourselves, in intention and heart, to Our Lord and without asking Him to introduce us into the Father's presence. We must join our prayers to those He made here below when upon earth, especially to that sublime prayer which as Mediator and Pontiff He unceasingly continues in Heaven for us, Semper vivens ad interpellandum pro nobis.65

See how Our Lord has sanctified our prayers by His. example. Erat pernoctans in oratione Dei.66 St. Paul tells us that this Divine High Priest, "in the days of His flesh, with a strong cry and tears, offered up prayers and supplications."67 Species tibi datur, farina tibi praescribitut, quam debes aemulari, "0 Christian, here is a model presented to thee that thou mayest imitate it," says St. Ambrose,68 when speaking of the prayer of Christ. Jesus prayed for Himself when He asked His Father to glorify Him: Clarifica me, tu, Pater;69 He prayed for His disciples, not that they should be taken out of the world but that they should be kept from evil, for they belonged, through Him, to the Father: Quia tui sunt;70 He prayed for all of us who believe in Him: Non pro eis tanturm rogo, sed et pro eis qui credituri sunt in me.71

Christ Jesus has, moreover, given us that wonderful formula of prayer wherein is contained all that a child of God can need to ask of his Father in Heaven. 0 Father, "hallowed be Thy name ", may I act in all things for Thy glory, may that be the chief motive power of all my actions; "Thy kingdom come ", in me, in all whom Thou hast created; be truly the Master and King of my heart. In everything, pleasant or painful, "Thy will be done! " May I be able to say, like Thy Son Jesus, that I live for Thee...

All our prayers, says St. Augustine, ought to refer in their substance to these acts of love, to these supplications, these most pure desires that Christ Jesus, the beloved Son, has placed upon our lips and that His Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, repeats in us.72 The Pater Noster is essentially the prayer of a child of God.

Not only has Our Lord sanctified our prayers by His example; not only has He given us the model of them, but He also supports them by His power with God, a Divine, infallible power, for our High Priest has always the right to be heard: Exauditus est pro sua reverentia;73 He Himself tells us that all we ask the Father in His name, that is to say in making our petition through Him, shall be given to us.

When, therefore, we come into God's presence, let us certainly be mistrustful of ourselves, but still more let us arouse our faith in the power that Christ, our Head and Elder Brother, has to bring us near to His Father, Who is our Father likewise: Ascendo ad Patrem meum et patrem vestrum.74 For if this faith is lively, we cleave closely to Christ, and Christ, Who dwells in us by this faith, Christum inhabitare per fidem in cordibus vestris,75 takes us with Him where He is. "Father, I will that where I am, they also whom Thou hast given Me may be with Me": Volo, Pater, ut ubi sum ego, et ili sint mecum.76 And where is He? In sinu Patris. We are by faith there where He is in reality: in the Bosom of the Father. "In Jesus Christ," says St. Paul, "we have boldness and access (to God) with confidence by faith in Him," In Christo habemus fiduciam et accessum in confidentia per fidem ejus.77 Christ, by His Spirit, prays with us, in us, Semper vivens ad interpellandum pro nobis.78 What a motive we have for immense confidence when we come before God! Presented by Christ Who has merited for us our Divine filiation, we "are no more strangers and foreigners ",79 but children; we can open our hearts in tender love, perfectly allied to a deep reverence. The Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of Jesus, harmonizes in us, by His gifts of fear and piety, that profound adoration and that boundless confidence, seemingly at first sight so contrary to one another, and He thereby gives the keynote proper to such an intercourse.

Let us then lean upon Christ. "Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in My name," Jesus says, "that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."80 "Hitherto," He says again to His disciples, "you have not asked anything in My name. Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full."81 To ask in the name of Jesus is to ask what is conformable to our salvation, while remaining united to Him by faith and love, as living members of His Mystical Body. "Christ prays for us as our High Priest. He prays in us as our Head," says St. Augustine: 82 Orat pro nobis ut sacerdos noster: orat in nobis ut caput nostrum. That is why, he adds, the Eternal Father cannot separate us from Christ, any more than the head is separated from the body. In seeing us, He sees His Son, for we make only one with Him.

And that is why, too, in granting us what His Son asks of Him in us, He "is glorified in His Son," for the Father finds his glory in loving His Son, and being well pleased with Him. St. Teresa says "God is extremely pleased to see a soul humbly place His Divine Son as the intermediary between it and Him."83 Is not that what the Church herself, Christ's Bride, does when she ends her prayers in the name of her Divine Bridegroom "Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, world without end?"

At the same time, joy is born to the soul from this life of prayer.

 

Of course, while here below, it has not its full perfection; we have still to struggle and cannot always obtain at once what we desire, for, according to St. Augustine, "the man who sows today cannot hope to reap tomorrow ";84 but that inward joy of being a child of God is made perfect little by little, and we have confidence it will reach its fulness one day in heavenly beatitude. For the soul that gives itself faithfully to prayer is detached more and more from created things, and so enters more fully into the life of God.

Let us, then, seek to be of those who keep united to God by a life of prayer and let us ask Our Lord to grant us this infinitely precious gift, itself the source of exceeding great graces, in the measure that is good for each one of us according to the Divine Plan. If we are faithful to ask, and, on the other hand, to respond, in the measure of our weakness, to the graces God gives us in Christ, we may be assured we shall live more and more according to the spirit of our adoption, and as children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, for the glory of our heavenly Father and the fulness of our joy: Ut glorificetur Pater in Filio . . . ut gaudium vestrum sit plenum.

 

 


I. Math. vii, 7.

2 John. xvi, 23.

3. Ephes. vi, 18.

4. A soul cannot flatter itself that it is the interior image of Jesus if it is not what is called a soul of prayer. The form matters little, but the thing itself is indispensable." Mgr Gay, Instructions in the form of a Retreat, chap. xiii.

5. Rom. viii, 26.

6. Ibid. 15.

7. Gal. iv, 4-5

8. Ibid. 6; Cfr. Rom. viii, 15; II Cor. i, 22.

9. Ephes. ii, 20.

10. John. viii, 12; XIV, 6.

11. Ibid. iv, 5 sq.

12. Luc. xi, x sq.; Mattb. VI, 9.

13. John i, 18.

14. Ibid. viii, 12.

15. Luke. xviii, 1.

16. John xx, 17.

17. James 1, 17.

18. "Carried as it were upon (the) two wings (of faith and hope), the soul takes its flight towards heaven and is raised even up to God. . . With ardent piety and deep veneration, the soul speaks to Him in full confidence of all its needs, as an only son might do to the most loving of fathers." Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part. IV, chap. i, 3. "God commands us to come before Him, not with constraint and trembling, like a slave before his master, but to take refuge near Him in all liberty and perfect confidence like a child with his father." Catech. of the Council of Trent, Part. IV, chap. ii, sec. 2.

19. Life by herself, chap. viii. St. Teresa.

20. John. xvi, 24.

21. St. Teresa, Life by herself, chap. viii.

22. Zach. xii, 10.

23. Rom. viii, 26. "The Holy Spirit is the very soul of our prayers: He inspires them and makes them always acceptable." Catech. of the Council of Trent, Part. IV, ch. I, sec. 7.

24. Eccli. xxxix, 6.

25. I Cor. xii, 3.

26. Matth. v, 48.

27. Ephes. iv, 7.

28. Rule, chap. iv. (Rule Of St. Benedict)

29. It is remarkable that the patriarch of monks entitles the chapter on prayer: De reverentia orations: "Of Reverence at Prayer." Rule, chap. xx.

30. Matth. vi, 7.

31. Etudes, 1905, i, pp. 567-68.

32. The Interior Castle: First Mansion, chap. ii. See also her Life by herself, chap. xii and chap. xiii. She writes: "God leads souls by many roads, many different paths." See also chapters xviii and xxvii in which she shows what an excellent prayer it is to keep in Our Lord's company in His different mysteries and speak with Him in simple colloquies. [colloquy: "Mutual discourse of two or more persons; conference; conversation." From www.dictionary.com]

33. Abre'ge' de l'espirit interieur des religieuses de la Visitation, explique par St. Francois et recucilli par Mgr Maupas. Rouen, Cabut, 1744, pp. 68-69.

34. We will take up this point a gain at greater length in another series of conferences; the little we say here will however suffice to make our meaning clear.

35. It is recounted in the Life of St. Teresa that a young novice was so forestalled by Divine grace that from the first days of her religious life, she received the gift of contemplation. History of St. Teresa, by the Bollandists.

36. In Epist. i. St. Pauli ad Timoth. cap. i, lect. 22.

37. Luc. ii, 51.

38. Verba qune Dominus Noster Jesus Christus in orateone docuit forma es: desideriorum. St. Aug. Serm. lvi, C. 3.

39. This is what the Abbe Saundreau, whose ascetic works are well known, has written on this subject [the phrase between brackets is ours] "Let us note well that the petition is the chief part of prayer, or rather prayer only begins with this. As long as the soul does not turn towards God to speak to Him [to praise Him, to bless and glorify Him; to delight in His perfections, to make supplication and yield itself to His guidance] it may, it is true, meditate, but it is not applying itself to mental prayer. We see people sometimes mistaken in this and, in an exercise of half an hour, pass all their time reflecting without saying anything to God. Even when they have added holy desires and generous resolutions to these reflections, still that is not praying. Doubtless; the mind has not been acting alone, the heart is enkindled with ardor and borne alone to what is good, but it does not pour itself out into the Heart of God. Such meditations are almost fruitless, they very quickly bring fatigue and very often also discouragement and the relinquishment of this holy exercise." The Degrees of the Spiritual Life, see also R. P. Schuijvers, C. SS. R. La bonne volonte, II part, chap. I. L'Oraison.

[Editor's note: Many today would find this assertion surprising, that meditation on something spiritual is not prayer. However, I think the author's point is that to think about something without at the same time talking to God about it is not prayer. An atheist can think about religion and its teaching without praying; he can study to gain information but never converse with God. A Christian would start his thought with prayer and use conversation with God while he did think about religion and its teaching. He would hope for, and listen to ideas and insights that might come during his prayer/meditation realizing that these could very well be God speaking to him in his meditation.]

40. Col. iii, 16.

41. II Cor. iv, i6.

42. Life by herself, chap. xxii. This magnificent chapter should be read through; it will he seen in what bitter terms the great contemplative deplores having, during a long time, excluded from her prayer the contemplation of the Humanity of Christ Jesus.

43. Act. i, i.

44. John. xiv, 26.

45. John. xiv, 17.

46. Hymn. Veni Creator.

47. John. vii, 37-38.

48. St. Thomas, 1., q. xiii,a. 2., ad.3.

49. Cant. ii, 3.

50. Epist. CXXX, C. 19.

51. Our readers will know well the recent excellent works, The Mystical State by the
Abbe Saudreau, Graces of Prayer by R. P. Poulain, S. 1., The Contemplation or the
Principles of Mystical Theology, by R. P. Lamballe, The Ways of Mental Prayer, by
Dam Lehodey.
 
52. Mark xii, 30.
 
53. Ephes. iv, 30.
 
54. I Reg. iii, 10. [Editor: This seems to be First Samuel in the NRSV. 1Sam. 3:9 "Therefore Eli said to Samuel, 'Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place." In first Sam. or first Kings 3:10 of the Douay/RHEIMS it says: "And the Lord came and stood: and he called, as he had called the other times: Samuel, Samuel. And Samuel said: Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." ][The sentence that follows in the text above is not a translation but a best a paraphrase.]
 
55. John. viii, 29.
 

56. Hymn Te Deum.

 
57. II Mach. xiv, 35.
 
58. Jac. iv, 6.
 
59. Ephes. ii, 13.
 
60. Exod. iii, 14.
 
61. John. xiv, 6.
 
62. Hebrews ix, 12.
 
63. John i, 1.
 
64. Gal. iv, 4-5.
 
65. Hebrews vii, 25.
 
66. Luke vi, 12.
 
67. Hebr. v, 7.
 
68. Exposit. Evangel, in Luk. lib. v, c. 6.
 
69. John. xvii, 5.
 
70. Ibid. 9.
 
71. Ibid. 20.
 

72. Verba quae Dominus noster Jesus Christus in oratione docuit, forma est desideriorum: non tibi licet petere aliud quod ibi scriptum est (St. Aug., Sermo lvi, c. 3). Nam quaelibet alia verba dicamus luae aflectus orantis vel praecedendo format ut clareat, vel consequendo attendit ut crescat, nihil aliud dicimus quam quod in ista dominica oradone postum est, si recte et con gruenser oramns. Liberurn est atiis atque aliis verbis. eadem samen, in orando dicere, sed non debet esse liberum alia dicere (Epist. cxxx, c. 12).

73. Hebr. v, 7.
 
74. John.xx, 17.
 
75. Ephes. iii, 17.
 
76. John. xvii, 24.
 
77. Ephes. iii, 12.
 
78. Hebr xii, 25.
 
79. Ephes. ii, 19.
 
80. John. xiv, 13.
 
81. Ibid. xvi, 24.
 
82. Enarr. in Ps. xlxxv, c.1.
 
83. Works, vol. i, p. 281.

84. Cf. Tract, in Joan. lxxiii, n. 4.


The Right Rev. D. Columba Marmion, Abbot of Maredsous Abbey, Christ the Life of the Soul, Sands & Co. Publishers Glasgow (1925), pp. 300-322. Imprimatur dated 1925, used "with the permission of Maredsous Abbey, Belgium, e-copyright 2002". [www.cibmaredsous.be]
 
The text is a published set of conferences given by Bl. Columba. The book has a letter of approval and apostolic benediction from Pope Benedict XV.
 

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