A Method of Mental Prayer

Father Guibert offers the following as a method of mental prayer:

“The preliminary of all prayer consists in putting ourselves in the presence of God, and of being penetrated with the feeling that He is there before us, surrounding us with His immensity, living at the bottom of our consciences, and that He admits us, sinners as we are, to converse with Himself, because He loves us more fervently than He hates our defilements. We adore Him, we beseech His pardon, and we implore His help in order to pray.”

“Coming, then, to the subject-matter of our prayer, we bring to bear upon it our eyes, our hearts, and our hands; our eyes to consider it, our hearts to get the grace of it, and our hands to carry it out in practice. Let our eyes first dwell long on the types, in which we find a living illustration of the subject of our meditation: on God, on Jesus Christ, on the saints.”

Then, from the heart springs prayer, sometimes urgent and passionate, sometimes calm and sweetly abandoning itself to God. For if there are times in which the heart sends cries of distress up to God and speaks to Him in the accents of burning love, there are also times in which it says to Him trust fully: ‘Lord, I am Thy humble creature; I place myself in Thy hands; mould me as Thou wouldst; in all I cast myself upon Thee.'”

“When the heart has prayed, when it has undergone the fructifying influence of grace, when it has drawn strength from the Divine fountain, the hands in turn are offered to fulfil the Will of God. . . . This is why prayer ends in definite resolutions: “This, O God, is what I will do to-day to please Thee.” But resolutions are only a good intention; it is practice that gives them their value and merit. Prayer is thus followed up throughout the occupations of each day.”

St. Francis de Sales spoke of vital prayer, which consists in “the continuous union of the soul with God through all our occupations. It shows us God in those who converse with us, and it makes us carry God with us wherever we go. . . . By this sweet and continual thought of God, our days pass in a warm atmosphere of mental prayer.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On the Exercises of Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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