A Year with the Saints – 7 September


Mental prayer consists in weighing and understanding what we are saying, Who it is to Whom we are speaking and who we are to have the courage to speak to so great a Lord. To have these and similar thoughts is properly to make mental prayer. Their opinion, however, is not to be followed who believe that its whole essence consists in thinking, so that if they can keep their thoughts fixed by a great effort, then they consider themselves very spiritual and men of prayer; but if they are able to do this no longer, and their attention wanders a little, even to good things, they imagine they are doing nothing. No, the substance of mental prayer, in my opinion, consists in nothing but conversing with God as with a friend. And so, to speak of this thing or of that to Him, Who, we know, loves us, is mental prayer. Saint Teresa of Avila

When Saint Ignatius was once traveling with his companions, each with a bundle on his shoulders, a worthy man, moved with compassion, offered to carry all their burdens, and did so. When they came to inns on their way, the Fathers tried to find some nooks, each for himself, to make their prayer; and the good man, seeing this, found a corner of his own where he remained kneeling, like them. When someone asked him what he was doing there, “I am doing nothing,” he replied: “These are Saints, and I am their ass. Whatever they are doing, I would do. And I stay there offering this to the Lord.” It is said that in this manner he succeeded in becoming very spiritual and attaining the gift of a very lofty contemplation.

The venerable Monseigneur de Palafox, having frequently considered in prayer who he was that was speaking, and to Whom he was speaking, that it was the most unworthy of men to the Divine Goodness, a wretched worm to God, was so filled with humiliation that he wept. It grieved him that he had the temerity to speak. “What!” he exclaimed, “a little dust of the earth, the worst, the most miserable, the most abandoned, man in the world, speak to the Eternal, the Infinite, the Boundless!” Then he was afraid, and said: “O Lord, am I to speak to Thee? Am I to have the boldness to love Thee? a God infinite, a God all-powerful, Creator of all that is created! and I nothing, and less than nothing, and, what grieves me most, wicked, and more than wicked! What is this? How can this be borne?” But again he would say: “O Lord, is it not just to love? Then ought I not to love Thee? O Lord, the worms adore Thee, and I am a worm; then I can adore Thee! O Lord, Thou camest to seek sinners – I am the greatest of sinners! O Lord, if Thou didst abase Thyself that we might adore Thee, might speak to Thee, might pray to Thee, why should I not adore Thee, speak to Thee, pray to Thee?”

MLA Citation