Sunday, January 01, 2006

General preparation for meditation after "Conversation with Christ - the teaching of St Teresa of Avila about personal prayer" by PT Rohrbach

The best overall preparation for succesful meditation is a personal conviction of its importance and a staunch determination to persevere in its practice. If one has aquired this attitude of mind, he has made a splendid preparation for his meditation.
St Teresa gives us this important admonition: it is essential, I maintain, to begin the practice of prayer with a firm resolution to preserve in it (The Way of perfection).
To engage in a satisfactory conversation with Christ during a given fifteen-minute period, it is necessary to employ other spiritual aids throughout the entire day. Chief among them are: recollection, spiritual reading, mortifications, and the cultivation of a humble heart. It is understably, much easier to unite ourselves with Our Lord during a meditation period if we have remained in contact with Him throughout the day in the midst of our duties and occupations. This happy state can be effected by an exercise known in spiritual terminology as "the presence of God". It consist basically in evoking aspirations and short prayers to Our Lord at the various intervals of the day. The employment of such an exercise is of incalculable help in one's prayer life. Daily spiritual reading will furnish thoughts, ideas, and backgrounds for our conversation with Christ. The more we know about Our Lord, the more we will appreciate Him and be able to speak intelligently to Him. Then, too, a generous program of mortification aids greatly in perfecting one's meditation. Mortification serves a twofold purpose: it detaches one from loves and attachements which hinder the soul's affection for Christ; and it gives one the self-mastery and discipline so necessary during meditation. Finally, the cultivation of a humble heart assures us of avoiding an excessive preoccupation with ourselves during the period of meditation. We will find our sufficiency in Christ and tend to depend on Him rather than upon ourselves.
Above all, though, one's attitude to the practice is of primary importance.
To ensure perseverance in meditation, one should determine the precise time at which he meditate each day. Some find it easier to meditate in the morning, others in the evening. Each one should choose the time most suited for him in relation to his temperament and occupations.
One must also convince himself that his efforts will eventually be rewarded with success, that he will learn to make satisfactory conversation with Our Lord. "Besides the courage we ought to have in the combat of mental prayer, we must also be firmly convinced that, unless we allow ourselves to be vanquished, our efforts will be crowned with success" (St Teresa, The Way of Perfection).