“A friend visited India. In a chapel in Calcutta, she met Mother Teresa. ‘How am I to know what I am to do with my life?’ The woman of Calcutta answered: ‘You must do that which does not interrupt your conversation with God?'”
I would like to introduce you to a Professor of mine, Dr. Antony Lilles. (“Catholic theologian, married father of three, living in Colorado since 1992. Having completed doctoral studies in ’98, his research is dedicated to the wisdom of the saints and mystics of the Church. He has recently published Hidden Mountain Secret Garden, Omaha: Discerning Hearts (2012).” You can follow him on his blog: Beginning to Pray.
Dr. Lilles is currently walking the Way of St. James in Spain. Here is one of his reflections, written yesterday. In it he gives some excellent examples of how to intercede in the midst of daily life:
Faith on the Way
An excellent description of our relationship with God:
A child has no dissimulation, no concealment. As soon as he is capable of deceit he is no longer a child. In like manner, nothing can equal the openness and candor of the spiritual child. He does not compose his exterior; his recollection has nothing constrained about it; his actions, his conversation, his manners, everything in him is simple and natural; when he says anything, he really thinks it; when he offers anything he wishes to give it; when he promises anything, he will keep his promise. He does not seek to appear different to what he really is, nor to hide his faults; he says what is good and what is evil of himself with the same simplicity, and he has no reserve whatever with those to whom he ought to disclose the state of his soul.
A child shows his love with artless innocence: everything in him expresses the feelings of his heart, and he is all the more touching and persuasive because there is nothing studied about him. It is the same with the spiritual child, when he wishes to show his love for God and his charity for his neighbor. He goes to God simply, without preparation; he says to God without set formulas or choice of words all that his loving heart suggests to him; he knows no other method of prayer than to keep himself in the presence of God, to look at God, to listen to him, to possess him, to tell him all the feelings with which grace inspires him, sometimes in words, but more often without speaking at all.
(Father Jean-Nicolas Grou)
“I have had prayers answered–most strangely so sometimes–but I think our heavenly Father’s loving-kindness has been even more evident in what He has refused me.”
(Lewis Caroll, from The Letters of Lewis Carroll)
“Do not entertain the notion that you ought to advance in your prayer. If you do, you will only find you have put on the brake instead of the accelerator. All real progress in spiritual things comes gently, imperceptibly, and is the work of God. Our crude efforts spoil it. Know yourself for the childish, limited and dependent soul you are. Remember that the only growth that matters without our knowledge and that trying to stretch ourselves is both dangers and silly. Think of the Infinite Goodness, never of your own state. Realize that the very capacity to pray at all is the free gift of the Divine Love and be content with St. Francis de Sales’ favorite prayer in which all personal religion is summed up. ‘Yes, Father! Yes and always Yes!’ . . .
“Let us rejoice in the great adoring acts and splendid heroisms of God’s great lovers and humbly do the little bit we can. We too have our place.” (Evelyn Underhill)
May this be the prayer of each of us. Beautifully done and sincerely sung: I Shall Not Want (Audrey Assad)
From Contemplative Provocations, Fr. Donald Haggerty:
“In some lives, loving God may entail over time a shipwrecked manner of loving–cold and tired and holding on, clinging to broken wood, swept along currents they cannot master, yet knowing always that they cannot drown.”
I am in beautiful Roma for three weeks. I thought I would have regular internet access, but that proved to be wrong. So I will be scarce in posting until after August 3. You are all in my prayers at every church we visit.
Adrienne von Speyr has something insightful to offer regarding prayer and contemplation:
Whoever wishes to accommodate oneself to a new, living relationship to the Lord should consider that the Lord always spent a great deal of time reflecting upon the Father, but none in reflecting upon himself. The object of contemplation is always God, never oneself.
I would propose that we would gain what we really seek in prayer if we followed this advice.