Thursday, October 27, 2011

Method of Prayer - St Teresa of Avila and St Ignatius of Loyola

A Way of Praying

St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), also known as St. Teresa of Jesus, was a Spanish mystic, and a Carmelite nun, a Catholic Saint and a reformer of the Carmelite Order. She experienced a lifetime of visions and described the "interior voices" she heard in her major devotional writing, The Interior Castle. She described years of tumult. "By this time my soul was growing weary, and though it desired to rest, the miserable habits which now enslaved it would not allow it to do so." She became particularly drawn to a devotional image of Jesus in the house of her Order. She meditated on the scenes from the Life of Jesus, particularly his passion in the garden.

  “My method of prayer was this:
As I could not reason with my mind, I would try to make pictures of Christ inwardly; and I used to think I felt better when I dwelt on those parts of His life when He was most often alone.
It seemed to me that His being alone and afflicted, like a person in need, made it possible for me to approach Him.
I had many simple thoughts of this kind.
I was particularly attached to the prayer in the Garden, where I would go to keep Him company.
I would think of the sweat and of the affliction He endured there.
I wished I could have wiped that grievous sweat from His face, but I remember that I never dared to resolve to do so, .... 

I used to remain with Him there for as long as my thoughts permitted it. ..............
This method of praying in which the mind makes no reflections means that the soul must either gain a great deal or lose itself --
I mean by its attention going astray. 

If it advances, it goes a long way, because it is moved by love.  

But those who arrive thus far will do so only at great cost to themselves, save when the Lord is pleased to call them very speedily to the Prayer of Quiet. Life, IX
15th October: St. Teresa of Avila



In contemplation, we enter into a life event or story passage of the Scriptures by way of the imagination. 

By this means we are able to recall and be present at the mysteries of Jesus'  life.

The spirit of Jesus, present within us through baptism, teaches us, just as Jesus taught the Apostles. 

The spirit recalls and enlivens the particular mystery into which we enter through prayer. 

Just as in the Eucharist the Risen Jesus makes present the paschal mystery, in contemplation He brings forward the particular event we are contemplating and presents Himself within that mystery.


- In contemplation we enter the story as if we were present.
- Watch what happens; listen to what is being said.
- Become part of the mystery; assume the role of one of the persons.
- Look at each of the individuals: 
What does he or she experience? To whom does each one speak?
- Enter into dialogue with Jesus.
- Be there with Him and for Him.
- Listen to Him.
- Let Him be for you what He wants to be.
- Respond to Him.

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