Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mental Prayer, Part 3

‘We congratulate you sincerely upon having brought out so clearly the absolute necessity of the interior life for those engaged in good works, a life so necessary for the success of their ministry.’ ~~ Pope Benedict XV to Dom Chautard, author of The Soul of the Apostolate

Why mental prayer? If I'm going to spend at least thirty minutes every morning doing something, I want to be very, very sure I'm engaged in a worthwhile endeavor. So, why mental prayer?

‘So many enterprises in our time, and yet so often fruitless: why is it that they have not put society back on its feet? … Why? Because they are not firmly enough based on the interior life, the Eucharistic life, the liturgical life, fully and properly understood. Leaders of Catholic Action, at the head of these enterprises, have been full of logic, talent, and even of a certain piety. They have poured forth floods of light, and have managed to introduce some devotional practices: and that, of course, is already something. But because they have not gone back nearly enough to the Source of life, they have not been able to pass on to others that fervor which tempers wills to their great task.’ ~~ Dom Chautard, The Soul of the Apostolate, pp. 186-7

Once again, I can attest to the truth of the good father’s words—as if he needed my endorsement! But for what it’s worth, I remember so many past efforts where I attempted to do what I thought were “good works”, even going so far as to pray to do “God’s Will”. And yet, in retrospect – looking back – the reason my efforts bore so little fruit may have been because I neglected my interior life.

Jesus is the only source of Life. In and through Him we receive all power to do whatever it is He has given us to do.

‘I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.’ John 10:10 The development of the interior life – through regular mental prayer – is the recognition that Christ dwells within us and wants to aid His apostles in performing His Father’s Will.

Father Chautard teaches Eleven Truths regarding the Interior Life: (I will list the first three today, continuing on with the others in future posts.)

1. ‘The supernatural life is the life of Jesus Christ Himself in my soul, by Faith, Hope and Charity; for Jesus is the meritorious, exemplary, and final cause for sanctifying grace, and as Word, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, He is the efficient cause in our souls.’ This, isn’t to be confused with the Real Presence proper to Holy Communion, but a presence of vital action which lies deep within us and God ordinarily hides from the soul so as to increase the merit of faith. Our text contains more on this…

2. ‘By this life, Jesus Christ imparts to me His Spirit. … And thus I tend to realize the ideal of the INTERIOR LIFE that was formulated by St. Paul when he said: “I live, now not I, but Christ, liveth in me.”’

3. ‘When Jesus … becomes my light, my ideal, my counsel, my support, my refuge, my strength, my healer, my consolation, my joy, my love, in a word, my life, I shall acquire all virtues.’

One other thing Fr. Chautard stresses is holy reading in the evening, reading which will awaken in the apostle the desire to begin the following day with mental prayer. It is also useful to make many loving ejaculations throughout the day. Just as the modern person calls, texts, e-mails or talks to friends, family, loved ones, Our Lord Jesus should be “called” very often throughout the day:

“Hello Jesus! This is your dearest child! I am here! How are You right now my sweet Jesus? For once I don’t want anything, except to worship and adore You! I lift my little heart to you. Join it with Your Sacred One! Stay close to me tonight dearest Savior and thank You so so much for all of the many ways You have blessed me today. Kiss Your Mother for me! Good night!”

The Food Which Endures: Living a Eucharistic Life: Devotion to the Sacred Heart

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