Tag Archives: contemplation

Prayer: Meditation and Contemplation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, January 31, 2019

lordhearourprayer

Prayer: Meditation and Contemplation

Praying with Scripture can be moving, inspiring, soul-shaking, or heart-piercing. Sometimes, several of these at once or in succession.

I’m not saying that St. Ignatius had a corner on this praying-with-Scripture thing, but he certainly was able to guide people into the practice. That’s the reason “Ignatian prayer” is named exactly that. I love to use this kind of prayer, and I have had deep spiritual encounters while using it.

The two halves of the Ignatian-prayer-whole are meditation and contemplation, both using Scripture as a basis for going in-depth in prayer. Fr. Gallagher is basing his approach in this book on St. Ignatius’ own words and method, as follows:

“I will consider how God our Lord looks upon me.”

“I offer all my will and actions to God. (preparatory prayer) I review the Scripture for this prayer. I imaginatively enter the place of this Scripture. (composition) I ask of God what I wish and desire in this prayer.”

In meditation, for each point “I call to mind this truth, with love. I ponder it, with love. I embrace it, with love and desire.” In contemplation, for each point “I see the persons. I hear the words. I observe the actions.” And, after each session of prayer, I speak to God as my heart is moved (colloquy). [1]

Such a simple manner of prayer. Yet, how deep. Talk about being pushed into the deep end of the pool! I can still vividly remember an Ignatian prayer session I participated in, where I could feel the dusty dryness of the street and the jostling of the crowd. I remember the excited buzz of conversation as I led a group of moms (at a mothers’ bible study) through an Ignatian prayer exercise on Jesus and the disciples out on the sea of Galilee in a storm, and how several of my fellow moms were astounded by the depth of the prayer experience.

While I realize that kind of experience may not be an every-day sort of thing, still. Ignatian prayer does offer the possibility and opportunity of having that kind of prayer time. God willing, I would like to have those experiences more often than I do right now. Dear Lord, as I work through this helpful book, lead us all in Ignatian prayer. Guide us as we come into Your presence. It is in the name of Your blessed Son we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

 

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 16-17.

Two Building Blocks of Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, January 13, 2019

bricks drawing

Two Building Blocks of Prayer

I have found another book on prayer. In keeping with my ecumenical teaching and training, I’ve chosen a book by a Catholic priest, Father Timothy Gallagher, OMV. This book on prayer is subtitled “An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture.”

I love Ignatian prayer. I love reading and pondering over Scripture. I am excited to begin reading this guide to prayer, using two of my familiar and favorite ways.

In the Introduction, Fr. Gallagher relates how he came to learn to pray. His first teacher was St. Francis de Sales. Through reading his Introduction to the Devout Life, and practicing the meditations outlined for beginners, Fr. Gallagher began learning the way of meditative prayer.

Next, Fr. Gallagher experienced the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and delved deeper into St. Ignatius’ counsels on prayer. Fr. Gallagher said, “When the retreat ended, I thought, ‘Someone has finally taught me to pray.’ … Ignatius’s clear and practical counsels opened for me, as for so many before me, a sure path of prayer.” [1]

In this slim guidebook to prayer, “Our focus will be the two basic Ignatian methods for prayer with Scripture: meditation, the reflective approach, and contemplation, the imaginative approach….Through different gateways, both lead to the heart.” [2] This book will assist me in striving to have a regular practice of prayer. Yet again.

I’ve spoken here about my ups and downs with a regular prayer practice, for decades. God and I have had many conversations about how I fail to pray regularly. At least in that I am consistent.

As I begin this new year in prayer, I will not use an unfamiliar way of praying, or a manner of prayer that is more challenging to me. No, I will fall back on two ways of praying that I really enjoy. Dear Lord, help me to be able to be more consistent in prayer to You. Thank You for Your patience and love extended to me, a fallible, imperfect, stumbling and stammering praying novice. For, that is exactly what I feel I am. Even though I have been praying for decades—more than forty years—I still feel woefully inadequate. I come to You with Fr. Gallagher’s book in hand, and allow this book to assist me to come before You in prayer, and in spirit and truth. It’s in Your dear name I pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 10.

[2] Ibid.

St. Ignatius and God’s Guidance

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 4, 2017

St. Ignatius of Loyola, statue

St. Ignatius and God’s Guidance

When I saw the next name (and excerpt) in this anthology, I got excited. About eleven years ago, when I was heavily immersed in different forms of prayer and spiritual disciplines, I happened to pick up a copy of The Spiritual Exercises written by St. Ignatius of Loyola. I had several conversations about the process with my spiritual director at the time, and I went through the exercises that summer. The prayers, readings and contemplation were vivid experiences for me.

Ignatius of Loyola had quite a life. First as a courtier and soldier, then wounded, transformed by spiritual reading and prayer, renewed by a vision of God, he was revitalized as a soldier for Christ. He earned degrees and scholastic honors, and swore vows to Pope Paul III. His vision for spiritual formation, education and spreading the Word of God remains one of the most influential in history.

The excerpt here is from “Rules for the Discernment of Spirits.” The information is presented with great clarity and directness. (I did note several instances where women were slighted. I put that down to the prevailing societal norms of Ignatius’s day.)

I wanted to focus especially on two sections. First, where St. Ignatius defines spiritual distress: “this is the name I give to whatever in opposite to the foregoing—darkness of soul, disquiet of mind, an attraction to what is coarse and earthly, all restlessness proceeding from different temptation and disturbances;” [1] As he says, such distress does, indeed, destroy faith, hope and charity. I know—from experience—how damaging such spiritual distress can be to the interior life. And, not just the interior. Ignatius mentions the soul being “listless, apathetic, melancholy;” I know the outer self, the physical body can also find itself listless and apathetic. (This is one of the symptoms of clinical depression, too.) Ignatius amazes me with his perceptive observations concerning many different spiritual, psychological and physical manifestations. Amazing.

Second, in his several descriptions of the enemy of our human nature. One in particular struck me. As Ignatius describes the enemy as military commander “in his attempts to overcome and seize the object he has set his heart on…Similarly, the enemy of our human nature makes a tour of inspection of our virtues—theological, cardinal and moral. Where he finds us weakest and most defective in which pertains to our eternal salvation, he attacks at that point, seeking to overthrow us.” [2]

Ah! How true. How well said. Certainly, the enemy and his minions lay siege to my weakest sensibilities, prowling around the walls of the city of Mansoul, ready to set the siege ladders and infiltrate at my personal, private weak points. Brrr! Just reading his description sends chills down my spine.

Dear Lord, thank You for my re-acquaintance with Ignatius of Loyola. Help me continue to learn more, and follow Your ways and paths. In the mighty name of Jesus we pray, amen.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

 

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 292.

[2] Ibid, 294.

Contemplation: Prayerful Marguerite Porete

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 4, 2017

sit-in-pew-praying

Contemplation: Prayerful Marguerite Porete

I had never heard of this medieval woman before. (Not all that unusual. Nevertheless, I was still a bit miffed that I had not even heard of this woman.)

There is some vivid language here. Marguerite certainly spoke of a close relationship with God, and sacrifice, and love. She makes some definite statements about her personal will, and how the will gets in the way. In fact, one must “destroy her own will.” [1]

(I am not sure quite what I think of her more forward-looking and forceful words. I’ll need to ruminate on them.)

One of Richard Foster’s discussion questions, after the reading, includes 1) Contemplative prayer may involve a deeper intimacy with God. Am I willing to accept this possibility?” (The possibility of my friends entering into a closer relationship with God is awesome. AND scary.)

Such a vibrant expression of faith and trust in her language. I did have a bit of difficulty with the bright, shining, even ecstatic nature of her writing, however.

Too bad her life was ended so abruptly. Dear Lord, gracious God, we come together. We come from a wider Christian audience, and what our desire ought to be. Yes, the deepest desire of the heart is to strive to the best of my ability to be a resource for prayer, intimacy, fear, thanksgiving,  and devotion.

Let it be so, dear Lord.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er.

 

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 23.

Contemplation and Thomas Merton

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 2, 2017

candle-prayer-bible

Contemplation and Thomas Merton

This book Spiritual Classics has a sampling of many different types of Christians, and is all about a number of spiritual disciplines. Already, in the first section about meditation, I see how fascinating it is to look at each of these persons, so passionate about prayer.

As Thomas Merton talks of contemplation, I pondered what he said about God’s gifts. He did not think that people who were not particularly willing to immerse themselves in God’s grace and sanctity would receive a large amount of God’s gifts. Interesting concept. Merton posited that “a deep and intimate knowledge of God by a union of love [is] a union in which we learn things about Him that those who have not received such a gift will never discover until they enter heaven.” [1]

I suspect Merton has something there. I do not believe that all people in church on a Sunday morning will be able to become involved in contemplation. Sadly, some “willfully remain at a distance from God, who confine their interior life to a few routine exercises of piety and a few external acts of worship and service performed as a matter of duty.” [2]

Wow. Double wow. Merton has hit the nail on the head, as far as certain pew dwellers are concerned.

Dear Lord, I hope that he was not describing me. Sure, I pray, and meditate, and contemplate—on occasion. I fall short. God, forgive me, I do fall short. I don’t regularly pray with the fervor and earnestness of some. Lord, I am sorry.

But, at least I try. Lord knows, I try. Contemplation is truly a gift from God. According to Merton, those with a similar gift (prayer, meditation, and contemplation) find communication with their heavenly Parent easier than others.

Dear Lord, thank You for listening to Fr. Merton. Gracious God, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er.

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 18.

[2] Ibid, 19.

Thou, Our Everlasting Joy

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, October 26, 2015

JOY today I choose joy

Thou, Our Everlasting Joy

I have difficulty with contemplative kinds of things. My mind is just too active. Last month, when I actually tried to pray using contemplative Centering Prayer, I did pray in that way each day in September. However, I did not have as fruitful a month as I have when I used some other prayer styles.

I chose a smaller portion: a piece of a prayer by E.B. Pusey (1800-1882). It concerns “For Thine Is the Kingdom” (Prayer 499, page 147) [1] The prayer is about Contemplation.

“Thou who hast loved us, make us to love Thee./Thou who hast sought us, make us to seek Thee,/Thou who, when lost, didst find us,/ Be Thou Thyself the way,/That we may find Thee/And be found in Thee,/Our only hope, and our everlasting joy.”

I get the feeling that God is the Lover, the Seeker, the Finder. God initiates. That goes along with my experience, as well as my beliefs.

I freely acknowledge that God is named as my Heavenly Parent several times in both the Old and New Testaments. As such, I (or, in several cases, the nation of Israel) happen to be referred to as a child. Hosea 11 even calls the Lord’s child (Israel) a toddler. And, I understand why. I am okay with that.

Dear Lord, I am so sorry I have such difficulty in contemplation. I can’t do it for very long. I know You have made different people for different things. I just know I have very little skill in contemplating and Centering Prayer.

I know some have found what they are good at! That is great. Bless them. I know I can’t center very easily … but thank You some people can. And, I especially thank You that some of these people find great joy and contentment in their centering and contemplation. Bless them.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 147.