Moments of Love with Mary
– The Spiritual Letter Box –
We often hear it said that we must get into the habit of praying as the hours pass. How can we do this when our every waking moment is taken by the work and preoccupations of our state of life. I thank you for your kindness in shedding light on this obscure point which arises as I progress in my spiritual commitment.
To have a life of prayer is easier than one generally thinks. It is not necessary to stop working to pray, to be kneeling in order to turn to God. A soul can be in a constant state of prayer, of mental prayer, of contemplation. There are, first of all, the times of prayer in the morning and the evening to which we are encouraged to be devoted. Through our morning and evening prayer, we predispose our soul to being recollected even if, on the surface, distractions bother or annoy us. Is it really possible to pray without distractions? We are not angels, and our human condition takes on all that is a part of our life, bringing us back in thought to the thorny problems, the crushing trials and tribulations, the encouraging joys, the projects we dream of, and so forth. God is so good. He understands our situation as human beings, a prey to all the difficulties inherent in our life. The mere intention of wanting to recollect ourselves, the thought of loving God, of beseeching Him, please Him and He receives the upsurge of love offered to Him by a mother, for example, who is looking after her sick children.
What counts above all is accomplishing the duties of one’s state. If that duty requires many hours of dedication, well then, doing that task is already a prayer of every instant. There you have it for the state of prayer.
Now, let us talk about prayer as the hours go by, that is, of a loving thought of God soaring to Him through contemplation, by admiring nature for example, the flowers, the trees, the sea, the birds, and even the rain, etc. Saint Francis of Assisi, for his part, praised God for all those things.
The life of mental prayer is an intimate exchange with God. Under various forms, this exchange with God nourishes our life. Mental prayer takes on the changing forms of our moods, for the contact with God is established in the depths of the soul, in those regions where God dwells and where the supernatural love circulating in us is found. To the extent that this love will be strong and active, the exchange will be both frequent and intimate.
How can a soul be linked to God in a constant prayer while going about its daily duties? Let us address ourselves here to simple souls, open to grace, following along the path of the little way of the spiritual childhood of which Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus spoke. Is there anything simpler than those little arrows of love, “Jesus, I love you”, silently sent up to heaven while we work, regardless of what we are doing? Those simple words, repeated fervently, are worth more than long entreaties filled with self-interest which mean that our egotistical demands remain rivetted to the surface of the earth because they are bound to our personal will. And then, we are surprised because our prayers are not heard!
There is no need to look for beautiful phrases in order to communicate with God. It suffices to talk to Him simply, like a child does with its mother or father.
In reference to mental prayer, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus wrote: “For me, prayer is an uplifting of the heart; a glance towards heaven; a cry of gratitude and love, uttered equally in sorrow and in joy. In a word, it is something noble, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites it to Jesus.”
The best mental prayer and the one most pleasing to God is the one that leaves behind the best effects, that is, the one that gives the soul the desire to work for the glory of God.
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus said to Mother Agnes of Jesus: “I cannot see what more I will have in heaven than I do now. I will see God, true enough, but as for being with Him, I am already entirely with Him here on earth.”
When genuine love settles in the will, it enlightens the intellect and takes hold of the soul so as to unite it to God.
If all souls accustomed themselves to walking along the path of mental prayer, waves of love would spread over the earth to transform hearts. These waves would act as a screen against the feelings of hatred sweeping over the peoples to divide and destroy them. True love unites and ennobles.
(“Le Royaume”, no. 3, July-August 1982)