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.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

God has sent the Spirit of HIS Son into our hearts (St Paul to Galatians 4:6)

“Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like thy own.”
By Rev. Dr. Vincent Kundukulam

When I meditate on the Scared Heart of Jesus, a little prayer, so often repeated by me as a child, comes to my mind – “Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like thy own.” I do not think I fully grasped the implications of this beautiful little prayer as I recited it a number of times daily, especially during the fasting seasons and special feast days. Well, obviously, childhood is not a period when things are done after a proper and clear understanding.

This little prayer constituted a tiny little flower in the bouquet offered to Jesus, who came into the heart through the Holy Communion. Now, as the setting sun of my life begins its inexorable descent after its brightest noon and afternoon glitter, I very much like to look back nostalgically to the little pious acts of the yester-years and their inner, subtler, wider, implications and nuances. It is then that life truly becomes a pilgrimage.

I have always felt that although very short and simple, I used to recite this prayer which contains deep spiritual truths.

What are the significantly special features of the heart?

What does it mean when somebody says to make my heart like the heart of Jesus?

What are the qualities that accompany those that are dear to the Sacred Heart?

All these questions lead us to the inner beauty of this simple prayer. The Holy Scripture pictures the heart as the reservoir of emotions.

When Joseph was the ruler of Egypt, his brothers came to see him bringing Benjamin with them. When Joseph saw Benjamin, the Bible tells us, he was overcome with affection for his brother, and he was about to weep. So he went into a private room and wept there (Gen 43:30).

Let us listen to the lament of the Proverb, Ones own folly leads to ruin, yet the heart rages against the Lord (Proverb 19:3).

During his speech on the day of the Pentecost, St. Peter said, my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced (Acts 2:26).

St. Paul openly admits, I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart (Rom 9:2).

Among the references to the heart, the heart of God also found mention.

Prophet Jeremiah makes it obvious that the dwelling place of mercy and compassion is the heart of God. Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he the child I delight in? As often as I speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore I am deeply moved for him; I will surely have mercy on him (Jeremiah 31:20).

Thus, whether in man or in God, the heart is portrayed as the seat of emotions. That being the case, what exactly is meant by the prayer of the devotee that his heart should be like the heart of Jesus?

There are many people who view emotions in a negative light with derogatory and pejorative connotations. It is so because the protagonists of this view consider all emotions to be blind and illogical. I think this is diametrically opposite to the truth. 

Aren’t emotions really the fountainhead of all the wisdom of man? 
In fact it is the emotions and not the intelligence of a person that influence him and persuade him with a sense of dedication. The wisdom, one has gained through experience is inscribed deep in him like a brand. When need arises, this deeply branded wisdom reawakens in him and makes him take appropriate steps. It is these emotions that often make people forget about their conveniences and pleasures and venture to do sacrifices for others. People without emotions will be lacking humanity.

There are many instances in the Bible where we see Jesus getting emotionally charged.

It is not only when he drove away the traders from the Jerusalem Temple (Mk 11:15-19) that we find him overcome with emotions, but there are numerous other instances too.

When he saw the great crowd assembled in the deserted place to listen to his words, he felt compassion for them (Mk 6:30-44). Then he multiplied the five loaves and two fish and fed five thousand people to their hearts content and plenty was left over.

John testifies that Jesus shed tears at the tomb of Lazarus (Jn 11:34).

We have the image of Jesus at Gethsemane sweating ruddy drops because of the excruciating mental pain he experienced (Lk 22:39-46) imprinted in our hearts.

To have a heart like that of Jesus means to have a compassionate heart like his own, to have a heart that throbs with humanitarian feelings and sensibilities. It is the capacity to acquire the depth of understanding everyone and the loftiness and energy to recognize everybody’s merit. Those with hearts similar to the Sacred Heart will be persons who are filled with love, peace and forgiveness - the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Heart is the symbol of our inner being. It is in the heart that the essence of man dwells and in fact the heart depicts ones personality. Remember what Jesus said, Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Lk 12:34). It means where there is no heart there is no person.

Through Isaiah God laments: These people adore me only through their lips. Their hearts are far removed from me. Heart is the inner being of a person. So those who wish to live just and righteous lives should ensure that they love their Lord with all their heart (Mk 12:30).

Today the number of those who abandon their hearts the finer emotions therein is on the increase. They indulge themselves limitlessly in the glory, glitter, glamour and glitz, chanting childishly the Epicurean philosophy of Eat, drink and be merry. They erroneously assume the weight of wealth as the weight of the soul. They are the pretenders who give money and think they have given their hearts. Through the facade of artificial and insincere smiles and shedding crocodile tears, they also hide what they really are. In this era of the consumerist culture our prayers should reflect our thirst to venture deep into the depths of humanity.

We should be people searching for the essence of life and not satisfied by scratching at the periphery. It is when we touch the divinity of man that our search becomes fruitful.

God has sent the Spirit of the Son into our hearts (Gal 4:6).

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Mt 5:8).

Let the Holy Spirit help us to grow into the finer emotions and spirituality so that our hearts become similar to the heart of Jesus. Even as we grow in the piety to the Sacred Heart, we must constantly make spiritual examinations to see how far we have imbibed the essence and attributes of the Sacred Heart.

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