Building upon last week’s conversation and using the spiritual navigational tools of 1) rest on the bosom of Jesus/in His Heart/in adoration; 2) embrace Jesus in the night via night vigils; 3) silence the faculties of the soul and listen interiorly to the Lord, Mark and Frances share a perspective on the actions of St. Peter during Holy Week and how that applies to the purification of the memory and the advancement of the soul in receiving God’s love. Mark also brings up a movie, called The Mission, which exemplifies the points we are trying to make. When seen through the eyes of both a Hermit and Crusader spirit, we see how important prayer is before action, which is also the call of Secular Discalced Carmelite.
The life of contemplation is itself a lifetime journey. Just as with any significant journey, and there is no more important journey then the journey to the interior of our soul, we must make preparations. We must understand the mode of transportation we will use for different parts of the journey, and we have a few means of navigation to ensure we stay on course, or that we are able to find our way back on course if we should become lost. Finally, we must be able to anticipate the obstacles that we may encounter along the way. In this first of a series of conversations, Mark and Frances discuss the work we must do in our prayer life to allow us to advance, and to make sure we can stay on the right path. Beginning with the very foundation of the Order of Carmel, they offer a series of practical tips and a narrative explanation of how the journey of faith, guided by contemplation, might play out in someone's life. This particular program is an excellent introduction to an understanding of how the memory can serve as an impediment to our progress in the life of prayer. More importantly, through the introduction of various means of navigation, they present solid advice on how on anyone can learn to avoid the obstacles along the journey.
Parents have a very important obligation to teach their children how to pray. Secular Discalced Carmelite, Colleen Sollinger, has much to share with us on this topic. She is a mother of 6 and has homeschooled all of them. 2 of the 6 are in college now. She is also a formatter for the OCDS Community in Dayton. She shares tips on how to set the stage for prayer, providing opportunities for children to pray, and ways to make it personal and relative to their lives. She also gives ideas on how to appeal to your child’s own personality. Many resources are given to help in this most important journey to God through prayer.
“A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child” by Connie Rossini; Four Waters Press.
“Loyola Kids Book of Saints” by Amy Welborn; Loyola Press.
“A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations,” by Joanna Bogle; Gracewing Press.
“Prayer and Temperament: Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types,” by Chester P. Michael and Marie C. Norrisey; The Open Door, Inc.
“Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux,” translated by John Clarke OCD; ICS Publications.
In the Heart of My Home
Catholic All Year
In this segment, Mark and Frances delve into more of the particulars of the transition from active mental prayer to passive contemplative prayer. We start with a discussion of how to prepare for the gift of infused contemplation. St. Teresa of Avila recommended the practice of the prayer of recollection. What do we need to do to get recollected? What does the transition from the active prayer degrees to the passive contemplative prayer degrees look like? What signs does St. John of the Cross give us to help us know when we are being called to leave discursive prayer and mental reasoning and practice more simplicity in prayer? What signs does he give to indicate we have entered the “Passive Night of the Sense”? What should the soul do when we are in this transition period? What should the soul be cautious about?
“St. Teresa’s Prayer of Recollection” by St. Teresa of Avila, brochure; ICS Publications.
“Divine Intimacy” by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD; Tan Books.
“The Ascent of Mt. Carmel” ( Book 2, Ch. 13) by St. John of the Cross from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross” translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.
“The Dark Night” (Book I, Ch. 9) by St. John of the Cross from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross” translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.
“The Practice of Contemplation According to John of the Cross” by James W. Kinn; ICS Publications.
Join Mark and Frances on an introduction and discussion on contemplative prayer. We start by defining the words: prayer, grace, and contemplation. The word “contemplation” means many different things depending on the context and culture it is used. There is much misinformation regarding different aspects of this word. Mark and Frances talk about what contemplation is NOT as well as how it is compared to New Age practices. We then go into both the natural and supernatural modes of contemplative prayer. St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church, is the expert we turn to in order to define the term.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
“Spiritual Canticle” by John of the Cross, from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross” translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.
“The Dark Night” by John of the Cross, from “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross” translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD; ICS Publications.
Here Mark and Frances reintroduce a topic they believe does not get enough attention in our discussion of contemplative prayer or even in conversations about the spiritual journey. The topic is the important role of silence in our daily prayer and in our daily lives. Mark and Frances begin by explaining that the spiritual definition of silence goes well beyond the simple absence of noise, and they readily admit that our human language always falls short when trying to adequately explain what is meant by true silence. Indeed, they contend it is something that can only be experienced by the individual soul; it is really a gift of the Holy Spirit and really the most we can hope to do it dispose ourselves to receive this gift. None the less, in this two part series, Mark and Frances do attempt to provide some explanation of what is meant by this gift if silence, and more importantly they hope that by offering what descriptions they can, the listener will be in a better position to seek after this intimate encounter of silence in prayer. In this conversation they begin by explaining the twelve degrees of silence that are offered from the writings of the Desert Fathers. These include some of the more obvious elements of quieting our imagination, our feelings or emotions and our self love. But the list also includes the less obvious elements of needing to quiet our intelligence, judgement and will. This program is a very good introduction to the critically important role of silence in our prayer life and in the daily circumstances of our spiritual journey.