Thursday, April 27, 2006

1st Week after Easter. "Vocal prayer" fragments from "Divine Intimacy" by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene OCD

PRESENCE OF GOD - Lord, teach me to pray!
1. When one of His disciples said to Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Lk 11,1), He taught them a very simple vocal prayer: the Our Father. It is certainly the most sublime formula possible and contains the whole essence of the most elevated mental prayer. However, Jesus gave it as a formula for vocal prayer: "When you pray, say..."(ibid.11,2). This is enough to make us understand the value and importance of vocal prayer, which is within the reach of everyone - even children, the uneducated, the sick, the weary.....[but] vocal prayer does not consist only in the repetition of a certain formula. If it were true, we should have a recitation but not a prayer, for a prayer always requires a movement, an elevation of the soul toward God.....Therefore, in order that our vocal prayer be real prayer, we must first recollect ourselves in the presence of God, approach Him, and make contact with Him. Only when we have such dispositions will words we promounce with our lips express our interior devotion and be able to sustain and nourish it. Unfortunately, inclined as we are to grasp the material part of things instead of the spiritual, it is only too easy in our vocal prayer to content ourselves with a mechanical recitation, without taking care to direct our heart to God; hence we should always be vigilant and alert. Vocal prayer made only by the lips dissipates and wearies the soul instead of recollecting it in God; it cannot be said that this is a means of uniting us more closely to Him.

....I cannot distinguish mental prayer from vocal prayer when faithfully recited with a realization that it is You, O Lord, that we are addressing. Further, we are nnot under the obligation of trying to pray attentively? (T.J.Way, 22-24).