Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Aridity and Praying with a Book

During periods of aridity and excessive activity of the imagination the soul can turn to meditative reading. When the soul is unable to meditate it can turn to a book to help collect the wandering thoughts and bring its soul in touch with God. St. Teresa of Jesus confesses to not being able to meditate without a book for many years and recommends this practice.

The choice of book should be one that is devout and will help in time of prayer. The Gospels are always a good choice and are of great assistance in this matter. The book can also be one of the writings of the saints. It should be one that is practical and affective, not too speculative or intellectual. This is to foster love, a work of the heart, rather than that of the mind.

The purpose of reading is to put the soul in a proper disposition for conversation with God. Read until enough has been read to arouse good and holy thoughts. Then when devote affections occupy the mind, stop reading and with the attention directed to God, meditate on the thoughts that have been read; speaking to Him or silently savoring the sentiments inspired by what was read.

“Like birds, who, when they drink, bend their heads toward the water, take a few drops, and raising their beaks toward the sky, swallow gradually, and then begin again, let us also bend our heads toward the devout book to gather a few drops of devotion, and then let us raise them to God, so that our minds may be fully impregnated with these thoughts. In this way, it will not be difficult to finish the prayer which we have begun by reading in an intimate colloquy with God.” (Divine Intimacy, #149 by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.)

1 comment:

  1. Oh, boy. I really needed to read this today. This past week, I'm finding it very difficult to pray, contemplate or write. Thanks for this advice. And I love this imagery of the bird drinking. Beautiful.