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Benedict
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« on: April 25, 2022, 11:07:49 PM »

The Ways of Mental Prayer by Rt. Rev. Dom Vitalis Lehodey O.C.R

FIRST PART
ON PRAYER IN GENERAL CHAPTER I
OF PRAYER AND ESPECIALLY OF VOCAL PRAYER § I.—NOTION OF PRAYER IN GENERAL.
IN its widest sense, "prayer is an elevation of the soul to God." This formula, borrowed from St. John Damascene, has become classical.
The soul, therefore, leaves aside the useless thoughts, the nothings, the frivolities, which too often invade it; it abandons the thoughts which are good at another time, such as all questions of business, of work, of office; it raises itself above the earth and the things of earth; its mind and its affections ascend to heaven; they stop not even at the choirs of Angels and of Saints, unless indeed, our prayer is directly addressed to them; they ascend even to God, they rest in God, ascensus mentis in Deum. There, fixed in God, we look affectionately at God, we enter into conversation with God, and God deigns to listen to us with love, as a father to his children, and to reply to us by granting us interior lights and affections.— Oh, to what a height does prayer raise the soul, and what an honour it is for a being sprung from nothing!
Prayer, in its widest sense, does four things: it adores, asks pardon, gives thanks, and begs for graces.
1°.—It adores. By prayer we kneel before the infinite Majesty and perfections of God, making ourselves quite little, we contemplate, admire, believe, hope, have confidence, love, praise, rejoice in the glory which God finds in Himself and in His creatures, we are afflicted to see Him so little known and so much offended, desire to glorify Him and make Him glorified, and arm ourselves with a holy zeal. Or, considering God as its Creator and its sovereign Master, the devout soul adores Him, and subjects itself humbly to Him, it admires and blesses the ways of Providence, it resolves to obey, and even reaches to the height of abandoning itself with confidence and love into the hands of God.
2°.—It asks pardon. Recalling all its years in the bitterness of a contrite and humbled heart, the soul confesses its faults before God, feels shame and confusion, expresses its repentance, appeals to the Divine mercy, takes salutary resolutions, performs penance, and accepts willingly the austerities prescribed by the Rule and the crosses sent by Providence.
3°.—It traces up to God with thanksgiving all the general and particular benefits which it has received from Him. And often, while it overflows with sentiments of gratitude, struck by the Divine goodness and infinite charity of which all these benefits are the manifestation, it rises easily from gratitude to love, thus discharging the primary function of prayer.
4°.—Finally, the soul begs new graces, temporal and spiritual, for herself and for all who are dear to her, pleading in turn the cause of God Himself, of His Church, militant or suffering, of her own country, of the clergy and religious, especially of her own Order, of the just and of sinners, &c., &c.

To repeat, prayer is an elevation of the soul to God, to adore Him, to thank Him, to beg pardon and ask for graces.
Schram makes a very just remark which he borrows from Suarez. "Prayer can apply itself to any one of the acts we have just enumerated in preference to any of the others. Nay, more, vocal or mental prayer, however prolonged, may limit itself to a single one of these acts, because there is no obligation nor necessity to join them always together, and also because it may happen that more fruit, more fervour and devotion may be derived from the continuous dwelling upon a single one than from dwelling upon them all at one time. In such a case we ought to confine ourselves to that one which is more profitable, without trying to go through them all in the one prayer."
It must, however, be noted, that, if we confine ourselves to praising, to thanking God, and expressing our repentance for the past, we have indeed performed excellent acts of virtue, but we have not been praying, in the strictest sense of the word, for the first three functions belong to prayer only when taken in its widest sense. In its strictest sense, it consists in petition, and may be then defined with St. John Damascene: "The asking of seemly things from God," that is, things which may glorify God and do good to our soul, and hence which are conformable to the Divine good-pleasure. It is also defined: an act by which the intelligence as interpreter of the will expresses a desire of the soul and strives to induce God to grant it to us.
Prayer, considered as petition, consists entirely in expressing to God some desire in order that He may hear it favourably; a real desire is, therefore, its primary and essential condition; without this, we are merely moving the lips, going through a form of words which is not the expression of our will; and thus our prayer is only an appearance without reality. The way, then, to excite ourselves to pray, to put life and fervour into our prayer, and to make of it a cry which, breaking forth from the depths of the soul, penetrates even to heaven, is to conceive the real desire mentioned above, to excite it, to cherish it; for the fervour of our prayer will be in proportion to the strength of the desire we have to be heard; just as what we have but little at heart we ask for only in a half-hearted way, if even we ask it at all; so what we desire with our whole soul we ask for with words of fire, and plead for it before God with an eloquence that is very real.

§ II.—VOCAL PRAYER AND MENTAL PRAYER.
Leaving aside whatever belongs not to our present subject, we will confine ourselves to saying that prayer is divided into vocal and mental.
Vocal prayer is that which is made by using words or signs, or, perhaps, more exactly by using some approved form of words, which we read or recite; such as, the divine office, the beads, the Angelus, grace before and after meals, &c. Mental prayer is that which is made without employing either words or formulas of any kind.
A large share is given to the former in our daily exercises. The liturgical prayers are imposed by the laws of the Church; by our rules also we are enjoined certain vocal prayers; and others, like the beads, are in such constant use amongst the faithful generally, that a good religious would not wish to omit them. Vocal prayer is not to be despised, for, if well made, it pays to God the homage of our body as well as that of our soul. A heart full of devotion pours itself out quite naturally in words and signs which express externally its interior sentiments; on the other hand, when there is need to excite such sentiments, these pious formulas fix the attention of the mind, and call forth the devotion of the heart. "It is for this reason," says St. Thomas, "we must, in private prayer, make use of these words and signs as far as they are useful to arouse the mind interiorly; but if they should end by distracting it or causing it any hindrance, we must cease to make use of them, and this is the case especially of those whose mind is sufficiently prepared for devotion without these external expressions."
This last observation of St. Thomas shows to what extent each one ought to devote himself to vocal prayer, outside prayers of obligation or those prescribed by the rules. According to Schram, for those who are not called to a more elevated prayer, vocal prayer well made may well suffice to enable them to lead a Christian and even a perfect life, especially if they are urged to this by a special movement from God—an impulse which may be recognised by its effects. . . . Nay more, St. Bonaventure recommends vocal prayers to the more devout, that they may have the good custom of ruminating them when their devotion flags.
St. Teresa knew several who from vocal prayer were raised by God to a very sublime degree of contemplation." "I know," says she, "a person who never being able to pray otherwise than vocally, was yet in possession of all the other degrees of prayer. . . . She came to me one day much afflicted at not being able to make mental prayer nor to apply herself to contemplation, finding herself reduced to saying only some vocal prayers. I asked her what they were, and I found that while saying continually the Pater, she used to enter into so high a contemplation that it was evident Our Lord raised her even to divine union; and her actions indeed showed it, for she lived a holy life. So I praised Our Lord and envied such a vocal prayer." That does not prevent the saint from strongly urging mental prayer upon her daughters, and even telling them that they should make every effort to arrive at mystical contemplation if it is God's will. Religious will generally derive more profit from practising mental prayer, all the more because a considerable part of their time is already devoted to the exercise of vocal prayer in common. At all events, it is better to recite fewer vocal prayers, and to say them with recollection and devotion, than to try to get through a great number hastily; neither should we take upon us so many as to end by being disgusted. And "if during vocal prayer," says St. Francis of Sales, "you feel your heart drawn and invited to interior or mental prayer, refuse not to follow this attraction, but allow your thoughts to flow freely in that direction, and be not troubled at not having finished the vocal prayers which you had intended to say; for the mental prayer which you will make in their stead will be more agreeable to God and more useful to your soul." Vocal prayers of obligation, however, are always to be said.

§ III.—ATTENTION IN VOCAL PRAYERS.
We must not confine ourselves to reciting the words with our lips; it is necessary that we should raise to God our mind by attention, our heart by devotion, and our will by submission. "If any one," says St. Thomas, "is voluntarily distracted it is a sin, and that hinders the fruit of the prayer." We must herein be all the more watchful over ourselves, because habit easily begets routine. It is not, however, of obligation, in fact it is morally impossible, that the attention of the mind be always actual. "It is sufficient," says M. Ribet, "that the will perseveres, and the will to pray is suspended only by a distraction freely consented to."
Nay, more, according to St. Thomas, in order that vocal prayer be meritorious and obtain its effect, it is not necessary that the attention remains actual to the end; it suffices to have begun with an attention which is not afterwards retracted by any voluntary distraction. But prayer so made does not nourish the soul with the sap of devotion. Some bring forward as an objection to this the words of St. Gregory: "God listens not to him who while praying listens not to himself." St. Thomas teaches that this holds good only when prayer is begun and continued without attention. According to this consoling doctrine, when we begin well, and afterwards in spite of us our mind wanders, the prayer, which we continue to say with this involuntary distraction, will not be entirely devoid of merit and effect. But then it must be admitted that if the soul could only keep herself more attentive the merit and fruit would be greater.
It is, therefore, of great importance to commence vocal prayer well, and to preserve always an actual attention. For this reason it is well to put oneself at first in the presence of God, in order to withdraw all the powers of the soul from exterior things, to recollect them within oneself, and to fix them upon God. It is also very useful to renew one's attention at certain fixed times. Further on we will point out different ways of recollecting oneself. We might, if we liked, keep our eyes fixed upon the holy tabernacle, or look at a crucifix or some pious picture, represent to ourselves God in Heaven, or Our Lord in the Crib, at Nazareth, during the Passion, upon the cross, &c., and speak to Him as if we saw Him.
St. Teresa, treating of vocal prayer (or rather of vocal prayer meditated), and starting from the principle that God dwells in the just soul as in a magnificent palace and a little paradise, highly praises what she calls the prayer of active recollection. We close our bodily eyes; and the soul, collecting together all her powers, enters into herself with God. She ceases not to look upon Him interiorly while the lips are reciting some pious prayer, and, knowing for certain that He is quite near, and that she has no need to cry out aloud, she speaks to Him lovingly and noiselessly as to her Father, her Brother, her Spouse, her Lord. Since God is ever within us the saint exhorts her daughters not to leave such an august companion alone; she wishes them to look at Him while speaking to Him; it is the means to excite attention, to inflame devotion, and to prepare the soul for a higher kind of prayer. She declares that she herself never knew what it was to pray with satisfaction until the day that God taught her to act in this way. This is a method which depends on our will, and though we had to spend six months or a whole year in acquiring it neither our time nor our trouble would be lost.
St. Ignatius teaches a manner of praying vocally which "consists in saying some prayer very slowly, leaving the space of a full breath between each word.
Let us apply this method as follows to the prayer Anima Christi:—Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
1°. Recollect yourself and ask yourself: What is it I am going to do?
2°.—Beg the grace to derive much fruit from this exercise.
3°. Commence the prayer: Soul—of Christ—sanctify me.—Body—of Christ—save me.—Blood—of Christ—inebriate me: and so on.
During this time we think on the sense of the word we have just pronounced, or on the dignity of Him to whom we pray, on our own baseness, our miseries, or our needs.
This method is suitable for every one, for any time in the day, and may be practised during almost every kind of manual work. It is very useful for such as may have contracted a bad habit of reciting their vocal prayers too quickly; but it is particularly recommended to religious."
It is easy to understand that this method contributes much to excite attention and devotion; it is already as it were a timid attempt at meditation.
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CRUX SACRA SIT MIHI LUX!
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VADE RETRO SATANA!
NUMQUAM SUADE MIHI VANA!
SUNT MALA QUAE LIBAS
IPSE VENENA BIBAS!
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2022, 09:59:51 PM »

Hi Benedict, thank you for starting this thread.

"The soul, therefore, leaves aside the useless thoughts, the nothings, the frivolities, which too often invade it; it abandons the thoughts which are good at another time, such as all questions of business, of work, of office; it raises itself above the earth and the things of earth; its mind and its affections ascend to heaven; they stop not even at the choirs of Angels and of Saints, unless indeed, our prayer is directly addressed to them; they ascend even to God, they rest in God, ascensus mentis in Deum. There, fixed in God, we look affectionately at God, we enter into conversation with God, and God deigns to listen to us with love, as a father to his children, and to reply to us by granting us interior lights and affections"

That is a very helpful description of prayer and how it allows us to set aside worldly matters.

The Rt. Rev. follows with "Prayer, in its widest sense, does four things: it adores, asks pardon, gives thanks, and begs for graces."

His brief description of each is very helpful.
"—It adores. By prayer we kneel before the infinite Majesty and perfections of God, making ourselves quite little..."

That immediately brought to mind John 3:30
"He must increase, but I must decrease"

More thoughts later.
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2022, 05:37:11 PM »

"It must, however, be noted, that, if we confine ourselves to praising, to thanking God, and expressing our repentance for the past, we have indeed performed excellent acts of virtue, but we have not been praying, in the strictest sense of the word, for the first three functions belong to prayer only when taken in its widest sense. In its strictest sense, it consists in petition, and may be then defined with St. John Damascene: "The asking of seemly things from God," that is, things which may glorify God and do good to our soul, and hence which are conformable to the Divine good-pleasure. "

That, for me, is very enlightening !

I've not read further than the Preface and Chapter 1. I keep re-reading them Cheesy
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2022, 09:24:43 PM »


I've not read further than the Preface and Chapter 1. I keep re-reading them Cheesy
When learning a secular science, it is of important to understand your first principles since all since all subsequent teachings will likely be based upon the essential and Elementary matters of the initial lessons. How much more a Sacred Science even the Science of the Saints: prayer!
According to Saint John of the Ladder
Ladder of Divine Ascent
"On holy, divine prayer, the mother of virtues, and on the deposition of the mind and body in prayer.
Prayer is by its essence communication and union of God and man. Through its activity the world is held together and there is reconciliation between God and man. It is the mother, and the daughter of weeping, the atonement for sin, a bridge over temptations, a wall to sufferings, a quashing of disputes, a labor of angels, nourishment for all spiritual creatures, future happiness, limitless action, a fountain of virtues, a spring of graces, unseen advancement, nourishment for the soul, an enlightenment of the mind, an knife for grief, a showing forth of hope, the rejection of lamentation, the riches of monks, the wealth of solitaries, the lessening of anger, a mirror of advancement, the awareness of achievement, evidence of one's state, a portent of the future, a mark of glory. For the one who sincerely prays, prayer is the tribunal, the judgment seat, and the court of the Lord before the coming judgment. May we arise and listen to the words of that blessed queen of the virtues as she calls out with a loud voice to us: "Come to Me all you that toil and are overburden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke, and you will find repose for your souls and recovery for your injuries. Because My yoke is light and is a royal cure for grave sins. If we desire to be present before our King and God and to speak with Him we must not run into this without planning. Otherwise He will see us from a distance without the armaments and proper garments of those who stand in the presence of the King. Then He will command His attendants to grab us and cast us away from His presence and rip up our entreaties and cast them in our face. When you are planning to stand before the Lord, let the clothing of your soul be knit with a thread that has become ignorant of evil, lest your prayer be of no avail. May your prayer be wholly simple, because God was reconciled to both the tax-collector and the prodigal son by a single sentence. The disposition of prayer is one and the same for everyone, but there are many types of prayer and many different prayers in general. Some communicate with God as if he were a friend and lord, interceding by glorifying and entreating, not for themselves, but on behalf of others. Some struggle for greater spiritual wealth and honor, and for boldness in prayer. Still others request to be saved from their adversary. Some entreat to obtain a particular rank, and others for the complete pardon of debts. Some solicit to be liberated from prison; and others for forgiveness of charges.

Before all other things let us put forth our heartfelt thanksgiving first in our prayer. Next we should have our confession, and sincere remorse of soul. Then may we give our entreaty to the King of all. This is the best form of prayer, which was given to one of the brothers by an angel of the Lord. If you have been subject to a court trial before a corporeal judge, you will not require any other example for what your disposition should be in prayer. However if you have not stood before a judge, and you have not observed others being cross-examined, then learn at the very least from the manner of entreaty used by those who are ill toward doctors when their surgery draws near. Do not be complicated in speech with your prayer, because the plain and unsophisticated stammering of children many times has won the compassion of the heavenly Father. Do not try to talk much when you pray, otherwise your mind will be preoccupied with finding the right words. A single word from the tax-collector appeased God, and one cry in faith delivered the thief. Verbal eloquence in prayer often distracts the mind and results in fantasies, but terseness gives focus. If you sense sweetness or remorse at some part of your prayer, stay focused on it, for at that moment our guardian angel is praying with us."



 
"It must, however, be noted, that, if we confine ourselves to praising, to thanking God, and expressing our repentance for the past, we have indeed performed excellent acts of virtue, but we have not been praying, in the strictest sense of the word, for the first three functions belong to prayer only when taken in its widest sense. In its strictest sense, it consists in petition, and may be then defined with St. John Damascene: "The asking of seemly things from God," that is, things which may glorify God and do good to our soul, and hence which are conformable to the Divine good-pleasure. "

That, for me, is very enlightening !
Prayer is talking in it's most basic form and communion in its greatest form. Union with God is the goal of prayer, all prayer should flow from the acceptance of the Lord's Prayer, especially "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done"
But if we look with our heart at the words "prayer is the elevation of the soul to God" we must consider each word.
Prayer is itself the purpose for which God gave man a body and soul. Prayer enables one to fulfill the Greatest Commandment concerning the love of God with all of our heart, our mind, our soul and our strength. Prayer is turning away from the world and turning towards God with the heart. Prayer acknowledges the truth of the Oneness of God, the Uniqueness of God and the Truth of God. Prayer makes the mind rise to meet the task of rationally and intentionally communicating with God through understanding. Prayer is the most noble action of the soul and the most angelic of activities. Even God prays within Himself, if we consider the delightful communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Heaven itself is the realm of prayer and contemplation is said to be the continual action of the blessed souls and Holy Angel's who behold the essence of God in heaven. The Angels themselves are continually taught by God and continually pray to God for greater understanding, knowledge and illumination; their prayers never go unanswered. Indeed we can clearly say that God is God because He alone answers prayers. Indeed the Prophet says "I pray to you, O God, because you answer me; so turn to me and listen to my words.
Reveal your wonderful love and save me; at your side I am safe from my enemies." Psalm 17:6-7

Next let us consider the word elevation. Elevation refers to the height of something as a noun and as a verb it refers to the raising up or lifting up or exaltation of something. Now in what manner do we speak of "Elevation of the soul?" Now while levitation is a physical expression of the mystical phenomena of the elevation of the soul to which Saint Benedict was witnessed to have experienced in prayer, let us consider the more hidden and subtle elevation of which the Godbearing Father John of Damascus refers to.
Saint Barlaam says "Our good Master is present everywhere, hearkening to them that approach him in purity and truth, as saith the Prophet, “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” For this reason the Fathers define Prayer as “the union of man with God,” and call it “Angels’ work,” and “the prelude of gladness to come.” For since they lay down before all things that “the kingdom of heaven” consists in nearness to and contemplation of the Holy Trinity, and since all the importunity of prayer leads the mind there, Prayer is rightly called “the prelude” and, as it were, the “fore-glimpse” of that blessedness. But not all prayer is of this nature, but only such prayer as is worthy of the name, which hath God for its teacher, who giveth prayer to him that prayeth; prayer which soars above all things on earth and entreats directly with God."

Therefore this elevation is the rising up of man from the dignity of a beast to the dignity of a Prophet or of an Angel. This dignity of which we have received by our baptism and is promised to us by our Lord is a lived and true dignity, rightly called a "deification of the mind" for the Holy Spirit prays in us. As temples of the Lord, the Lord prays within us and we are the humble vessels simultaneously of God and of everything.

The Mystical Doctor, Saint John of the Cross, ecstatically expresses this truth in his prayer:
"Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine, and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me. What do you ask, then, and seek, my soul? Yours is all of this, and all is for you. Do not engage yourself in anything less or pay heed to the crumbs that fall from your Father’s table. Go forth and exult in your Glory! Hide yourself in it and rejoice, and you will obtain the supplications of your heart.”

Indeed what greater elevation is there to become something which the heavens cannot do, that is, to contain God in His essence. Now concerning the raising up, the soul is Regenerated and Resurrected by prayer. Not only are the dead literally raised through prayer but the sinner is made alive through prayer. To pray is thus to live, not the life of death, that is life in sin, but the life of life, that is in Christ; for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Hence the Apostle and the Lord commanded us to pray always so that we might live.

Now prayer is itself capable of asking God for God, even asking the Father for the Holy Spirit, whom the Son promised us. As the Son was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit, this same Spirit, the Father sends in the name of the Son to raise up children who cry to Him in prayer "ABBA, Father!" For they have received the Spirit of Adoption and become children of God and by grace partake of the divine nature. Now the soul, by prayer, grows as it were six wings and begins to resemble the seraphim who burn with great love for God and continually hallow His name with unspeakable ecstasy and transports of bliss. The first wings that the soul grows in prayer are those silver wings of faith which quicken the feet and make men like the birds of heaven, setting their soul aloft the misty heavens through their ascent to God by faith. For God came down to earth to bring men up to Him and He ascended to heaven to show men a pathway as by a divine staircase that He has established by His Word and enshrouded by the Divine Cloud of the Holy Spirit. Therefore if we desire to enter into this wonderful exaltation which prayer has set before us and reach our end, namely God, we must receive sanctifying grace which "permanently raises the soul to a higher plane of existence" according to Brother Chrysostom PHD. Even the Council of Trent dogmatically defined that grace "not only remits sin, but is also a Divine quality inherent in the soul, and, as it were, a brilliant light that effaces all those stains which obscure the lustre of the soul, and invests it with increased brightness and beauty."
Thus prayer is the super abundant means of perfection and bliss given that final perseverance is a special gift of grace necessary for salvation.
"The Council of Trent states that perseverance can
be received only from God, but that this gift is not denied to those who humbly ask for it; that, therefore, all should place their hope in His help : "For God, unless men be wanting in His grace, as He has begun a good work, so will He perfect it"."
Reverend Adolphe Tanquerey

Therefore hear the Word of the Lord "Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be perfect." And "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." And "I say to you: Ask, and it shall be given to you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asks receives: and he that seeks finds: and to him that knocks it shall be opened:" and "Therefore I say unto you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you." And "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you."

Therefore with the Apostle "Let us approach with confidence the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy and find grace in to help us in our time of need."
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PAX
CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI
CRUX SACRA SIT MIHI LUX!
NON DRACO SIT MIHI DUX!
VADE RETRO SATANA!
NUMQUAM SUADE MIHI VANA!
SUNT MALA QUAE LIBAS
IPSE VENENA BIBAS!
All Glory Be To God!
All Praise Be To God!
For God Is Greater Than All Things!
Alleluia!
Alleluia!
Alleluia!
Glory to Th
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2022, 02:06:57 PM »

IIMENTAL PRAYER-ITS OBJECT
§ 1.--OF MENTAL PRAYER IN GENERAL.
Mental prayer in general is an interior and silent prayer, by which the soul raises itself to God without the aid of words or formulas, in order to discharge its duty towards Him and to become better.There is ordinary mental prayer and mystical mental prayer; in other terms, active prayer andpassive prayer.Prayer, like every other meritorious act, requires God's grace and man's cooperation; but some-times the soul's effort is more manifest, sometimes the divine action,In active prayer the soul's effort predominates,God's action is less evident; the supernatural,though very real, remains latent.In passive prayer God's action is stronger and goes so far as to reduce the soul to a certain passivestate, more or less accentuated according to the degree of mystical union; and when this is wellmarked, the supernatural is plainly perceptible-almost palpable. This passive condition, however,interferes with only certain operations of the mind and of the senses; the soul, under God's action,remains free and capable of meriting even in the state of ecstasy, and it is altogether occupied in contemplating and loving God, sometimes with a marvelous intensity.Further on, we will speak of these mystical kinds of prayer; for the present, we shall confine ourselves to the ordinary kinds of mental prayer, after having made some general considerations applicable to both.
§ II.--OP ORDINARY MENTAL PRAYER.
Active prayer is a kind of mental prayer in which a person raises his mind to God by considerations or by a simple look, and his will by pious affec-tions, petitions, and resolutions.God gives His interior and hidden grace, and the soul endeavors to turn towards Him. Accord-ing to the saying of St. Teresa, the soul in this stage is like a gardener, who, with much labor,draws the water up from the depths of the well to water his plants and flowers.These efforts of the soul consist of two opera-tions; one belongs to the thinking faculty which applies the imagination, the memory, the under-standing to consider some truth or mystery, to turn it over and over, to convince itself of it and to penetrate it. This is what is called the considera-tion or the meditation. Later, it will concentrate the mind's attention upon God without the round-about ways and turmoil of reasonings, and this will be the simple look of contemplation. The other operation is dependent on the will, and makes us love, desire, ask the good proposed by the mind, and make resolutions to arrive at it; this is prayer-mental prayer properly so called.The considerations are not a mere speculative study; they are not made in order to learn or to know, but to inflame the heart, and set the will inmotion. The mind's eye is fixed upon some truth in order to believe it, upon some virtue in order to love and seek it, upon some duty to fulfill it, upon moral evil to detest and fly from it, uponsome danger to avoid it. In a word, meditation ought to lead to love and to action.In the early stages of the spiritual life, con-siderations occupy a large place, because we have need to strengthen our faith; later on, in proportion as the practice of mental prayer and of virtue has penetrated the soul with profound convictions, con-siderations progressively diminish, and end by giving place to a simple thought, to a simple attentive look. On the other hand, affections, at first rare and wordy, go on increasing; they gainall the ground that considerations lose; they, too, are after a time simplified, becoming shorter and more numerous, and the soul ends by attaching itself to a few affections only, which suffices its need and its attractions.

§ III.-OF THE END OF MENTAL PRAYER.
All mental prayer, active or passive, whatever beits object, form or method, has for its end to glorify God, and in order to this, as we have already seen, it may perform the four functions of prayer, or some of the four, or only one, according to the attraction or need of the soul. But, in addition to this, and we beg our readers to pay special attention to this remark, it has always forits end to make us better.We make mental prayer in order to be converted from evil to good, from good to better, from better to perfection, as we have promised. This constant and progressive conversion, or this tending to per-fection, as it is now called, is the chief point of our rules, the object towards which should tend all our observances. All our spiritual exercises, without exception, are directed to this end, and have no other; but mental prayer, by its very nature and its diverse acts, is pre-eminently the source of thistransformation.Those who are as yet only at the beginning of the spiritual life should propose to themselves as the result of their mental prayer, the extirpation of some sin or some defect, above all of their predominant vice; the victory over some temptation,the correction of some bad inclination, the governing of such and such a passion. When one evil is corrected they should turn their prayer against another for as long as may be necessary in order to triumph over it; and thus mental prayer well practised will purify their souls.Those who are making spiritual progress should,without abandoning altogether this struggle against evil, employ their prayer chiefly in cultivating the virtues, especially the fundamental virtues, orthose of which they have most need; above all,the spirit of faith, humility, self-renunciation,obedience, recollection and the life of praver, in order to arrive at perfect love.Those who are already united to God in spirit,heart, and will, should employ their prayer in strengthening this union. They should love inorder to develop holy charity; their prayer should consist chiefly of love, confidence, conformity and abandonment to the divine will, particularly amidst the crosses sent by Providence.It is thus that our prayer will attain its end. Its Principal object is not to instruct us, pious reading would suffice for that; it is rather to inflame the heart, that it may discharge better its duty towardsGod, and especially to confirm our will to that ofGod, so that prayer may detach us from everything else, attach us to Him alone, and so transform our habits and our life.During prayer, pious considerations replace our human thoughts with thoughts more divine; the entering into ourselves puts before us a mirror in which we contemplate our defects; affections and petitions unite us to God and draw down the grace which clothes us with strength from on High. We Leave off this communing with God in a closer rela-tion with Him. These are already so many fruits ripe and gathered for Heaven. But all this tends further to good resolutions, which as yet are only flowers, and should become fruits.After prayer has ended, all is not yet done. Itis not a drawer, from which we take out during halfan hour convictions and affections, and then shut it up for the rest of the day. Lights have been received, to which we should henceforth strive to conform our thoughts and conduct; we retire from prayer with a perfume of devotion which we must not allow to evaporate; we have made good reso-lutions and asked the help of God's grace to keep them; it now remains to put them in practice. In a word, mental prayer prepares us for action; a life of prayer calls for a life eminent in all virtues.Otherwise, mental prayer has not produced all its fruit; it has brought forth flowers in abundance;let us take care that these flowers, rich in promise,be not blasted by the icy breath of dissipation,routine, and tepidity.
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CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI
CRUX SACRA SIT MIHI LUX!
NON DRACO SIT MIHI DUX!
VADE RETRO SATANA!
NUMQUAM SUADE MIHI VANA!
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IPSE VENENA BIBAS!
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For God Is Greater Than All Things!
Alleluia!
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Alleluia!
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