Mystical prayer of contemplation is the highest form of prayer. Meditation and Mental Prayer are one of the journeys we take on our way to the union with God that the great saints experienced. Mystical Prayer and Contemplation are the journeys end we are seeking. In Mystical Prayer; in Contemplation, God Himself, by Himself, for Himself; unveils, invades and unites with the soul of the meditator.
Only God Himself can introduce the soul to this form of prayer.
All the meditating in the world will not acquire contemplation. All the mental prayer that we can practice will not do it either. Oh yes this can prepare our soul for the this perfect indwelling of the Holy Spirit but we must become perfect first to prepare the ground of our soul to “injure” perfect love.
Saint Teresa of Avila explains that attaining the highest Virtue is what is required. This is what Jesus was talking about when He told the parable of the “pearl of great price”. To “Sell all that you have.” means to get rid of all the attachments we have to this earthly life. To get rid of our affection to venial sin and sins of omission, in order to be worthy to own this treasure.
Just before my words enflame you to the extent that you begin “selling off” all your goods you need to evaluate the likelihood of your getting what you want. If indeed it was a piece of land you were intent on acquiring what if you could not find the owner to offer him your bid? Or what if on finding him he refused to sell it to you? You might drive by the piece of real estate every day longing to own it and imagining what you would do with it if only the owner would let you have it.
In the meantime you swallowed your disappointment but just in case; you began collecting together the building materials for the house you might one day, build on the property.
A few years later, out of the blue, a lawyer gets in touch with you to tell you that the owner of the property has died and he has willed the property to you. When he was making his will he told the lawyer he had noticed how often you drove by and seemed to really appreciate the place. He had felt the same love for the land as you obviously did and so now he needed it no longer, he was giving it to a deserving soul.
That’s the same with God and Contemplation. You and I might ask, offer many prayers, behave ourselves really well and even look lovingly at the desired treasure but until the owner decides to give it to us: well we just have to wait.
God has His own reasons if He does not offer this gift to us and more often than not it is something in us that is stoping the inflow of this great treasure of grace.
serious progress in virtue
The Dangers on the Road Ahead
On this journey through virtue, meditation and mental prayer it is very easy to slip down a wrong road. There are cross-roads where we can give up and turn left or write. You yourself can figure out your own meaning to the turns. But more often it is a gentle fork in the road ahead that entices us to go wrong.
The road to the left has a bright light hovering over it at a distance away. Ah! we conclude, this is the way to go. We forget that Lucifer comes as a bright light to blind us to his presence. The other road is full of stones and we guess it might not be so easy to tread as we see a signpost pointing down the road with the words, experience, study, discouragement, dark patches. Which one will we take. At this point many souls turn back.
watch for seductions of soaring feelings, gentle voices of flattery,
When St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross lived their Catholic faith they tell us that they knew many souls who reached this state of contemplation. At that time this was a well known and even well practiced phenomena. In fact it is only of recent times that mental prayer and contemplation have hidden themselves away from a proud and distasteful people. I read a book that was over 150 year old. In it the priest complained that the nuns in the convent he was spiritual director to where not advancing in holiness. He deemed the problem to be that they held on to their favourite static prayers that had been written by others. They did not seek a deeper religious experience. He lamented that the nuns returned week after week with the same faults to confess. He described their vocations as becoming sour.
How blessed were these nuns that had a spiritual director that knew the needs of the soul. Today no only has Contemplation all but disappeared but so also have gone the majority of good priests willing to teach, guard and guide us in this treasure hunt.
What are we to do? How are we to proceed? How will we protect ourselves against becoming the next internet prophet spouting long, long messages from an over talkative fraudulent spiritual entity?
We must die to self in order to be filled with God.
That simply means that we must work on our faults using Meditation and Mental Prayer. We must then in friendship speak lovingly to Jesus and ask Him to show us the Father’s will for us. We must ask the Holy Ghost for the Wisdom to know which way do travel each day.
There are two types of people who should not continue on the road to Contemplation.
- Those who want spiritual highs and believe that all opposition to their faith is from the devil.
- Those people who want to reach a high degree of spirituality for instance if there was such a thing as Doctor of Piety they would apply for it.
Are we are ready to suffer? Are we ready to refuse to hide from suffering? Are we ready to stay standing when everyone else has run away? Are we ready to endure extreme cold without complaint, extreme heat without complaint? Are we ready to follow in the footsteps of Jesus on the road to Calvary? Yes? Then let’s go. There is no time to lose.