A Simple Method of Contemplative Prayer


The Method

*Adopt a comfortable posture with the spine as nearly straight as possible and the eyes open or half-closed.
*Form a specific intention for your period of prayer.
*Say to yourself or quietly an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be. (the prayers mentioned can be found at CatholiCity dot com))
*Then with your indrawn breath say to yourself or out loud ‘Jesus’ and with your outward breath ‘Mary.’
*Persist in this for whatever time you have decided, I recommend not less than ten minutes and not more than forty-five.
*Finish with a Salve Regina/Hail Holy Queen and offer your thanks to God.

The Rationale

*There is nothing mystical about the posture. Its designed to be comfortable enough to hold for a reasonable length of time without being so comfortable that you fall asleep. If you prefer kneeling to sitting while you pray then do so.
*The intention transforms your action from a solitary one to a communal one. If you intend the spiritual benefits of your prayer to flow to the needs of the world, or the Church or your loved ones then it is not all about you. If your intention is to be strengthened in virtue then, again, the chief beneficiary of your good acts will not be yourself.
*Saying the prayers of the Church is not only a good thing in itself but, psychologically and physiologically it provides a bridge between whatever you were doing before to what you are about to do. It allows your body and mind to relax into their new activity.
*Jesus is the breath of life to us so invoking Him with our inspiration makes good sense. Mary is our mother, our fellow pilgrim, our good companion, so sending our respiration up to heaven with her for company also makes sense.
*Again the prayers at the end are good in themselves and, in the case of the Thanks Be To God, necessary, whilst also acting as a useful bridge…click here to read more


Jesus, What Were You Thinking?

Palm Sunday

It was just another day of the week, or was it? Jesus knew, as God, that before the week would end, He will have given His life, for many, to conquer death.



What must Jesus have been thinking?



He arrived in Jerusalem the day before; greeted with fanfare; literally, with palms waving in the springtime breeze. Jesus knew, only too well, how fickle man can be; how in the blink of an eye, they would turn on Him. He would be turned over to the authorities and would be put to death. Jesus only had a few more days to… Read more…

There is a Hunger for Virtue!


This coming Saturday, February 20, 2016 marks the second anniversary of my website, blogging about the virtues! Several of you share parts of your own journey with me, and by doing so encourage me to continue with this ministry. You definitely have a hunger for virtue! I enjoy hearing from you. I love bringing the virtues to you, helping you grow closer to Christ. I hope, in turn, that you share this information with others, to help them grow closer to Christ too. I also hope that you impart your new found wisdom on your children. It’s called a positive rippling effect. Let the ripples flow!

Here are a few interesting tidbits… Read more…

Forty Joyful Days


St Luke tells us about three significant forty-day periods in the life of our Lord. These are:
-the time between the Nativity and the Presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:22)
-the time that Jesus spent in the desert after His baptism (Luke 4:1-2)
-the time between the Passion and the Ascension of our Lord (Acts 1:3)
It would seem to be the case that the period in the wilderness was a necessary final preparation before the Messiah began His mission and that the period after the resurrection was a necessary final preparation before the Apostles undertook their mission, to proclaim the Good News to the world. I would argue that the first period constituted a necessary preparation for Mary before she undertook her mission as the Mother of God present in the flesh, Emmanuel, God with us.

The forty-days had an explicitly Marian dimension in that they constituted the time required for Mary to purify herself, according to the Law of Moses, after the birth of a son. Of course strictly speaking she could have dispensed with the requirement (as her Son could have done with circumcision on the eighth day) because the Law was only the shadow of things to come (Colossians 2:16-17) and the reality had now come in the form of the infant Christ. However since He was born of a woman, born under the Law (Galatians 4:4) it was seemly that the provisions of the Law should be adhered to until our Lord completed His mission on the cross at Calvary.

These days, though, were much more than the formal keeping of an outward legal prescription. They were a time of great and never to be repeated joy for the Blessed Virgin…. click here to read more


Jesus-Why Bother?

Gian Lorenzo Bernini Saint Andrew and Saint Thomas

In an earlier blog (Repentance-Why Bother?) I looked at reasons for making a fundamental decision to change your life, to ‘die to self.’ Here I will consider why, that decision having been made, you should make Jesus the focus for your new direction. It might be asked ‘why look to anyone else at all?’ If you are an intelligent adult possessed with the ability to reason should you not be able to work out your own destiny for yourself?

The difficulty here is that by accepting the need to radically transform your Self you have acknowledged that the problem is not something which is external. The thing which is broken cannot repair itself unaided. Archimedes is reputed to have said “Give me the place to stand, and I shall move the earth.” Granted that you necessarily have a share in your own rebirth you still require some kind of partner, catalyst or teacher. Christianity proposes that Jesus is the place you can stand upon in order to move the inert globe of your dead self.

There is a passage in the Gospel according to St John which, I think, is relevant here-
-I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures. 
-The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.
-I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep
(John 10:9-11)
This contains three clear propositions.

  1. Jesus is the gateway through which the new self or kingdom can be entered.
  2. In Him we will experience life more fully than ever before
  3. He demonstrates a self-sacrificing love for us of a kind that cannot be exceeded.

If we were to become convinced of these three things then we would have no reason not to accept Him as the place upon which we can stand with perfect confidence and hope…..click here to read more

Martha, Martha


In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.
(Psalm 94:19)

Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful:and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
(Luke 10:41-42)

Both David (the psalmist) and Jesus draw a contrast between the drain on resources caused by multiplicity and the peace to be derived from simplicity. David describes an internal environment and Jesus an exterior one but, of course the two are intimately linked.

Martha’s busy-ness was concerned with the tricky task of being a good hostess for an horde of visitors which meant having to juggle several balls in the air at the same time. Mary was simply concerned about sitting at the feet of our Lord and learning from Him.

Anyone who has tried meditating will recognise David’s description. Our body may be as still as Mary’s but our mind is, like Martha, bustling around like a shuttlecock from one thing to another and, very often, back again. The key difference, though, is that Martha’s activity is purposeful and useful whereas the thoughts rattling around inside our head are often neither. Both of the sisters are focussed on Jesus, just in different ways. A contrast is often made between Mary as emblematic of the contemplative life and Martha of the active one. This is true so far as it goes there is, however, what Al Gore would no doubt call ‘that little known third category‘ where action follows contemplation…to read more click here


Repentance-Why Bother?

mateo cerezo the penitent magdalene

In religion as in politics very often the one thing which makes you most popular also makes you most unpopular. Putting forward a demand or a slogan mobilises both support and opposition and, usually, the more extreme the demand the more extreme the response. A central plank in the programme proposed by Jesus was repentance; words change their meaning over time and for us that word calls up the idea ‘feeling sorry for being naughty.’ What it meant at the time was something like ‘turn your entire life upside down.’ Or, more theologically, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily” (Luke 9:23) This won for Him, as it did for His forerunner St John the Baptist, an enthusiastic hearing among those who felt the need to change their lives. It also earned Him the enmity of those who were convinced that they were doing just the right thing already and didn’t need to be rebuked by an upstart carpenter’s son from an insignificant little town in a despised region.
Is the demand a sensible one? Did they need to revolutionise their lives, do we? Will we gain more than we lose if we do? The Christian proposition is that without repentance we will necessarily be, at our deepest level, unhappy and unsettled. With repentance united to faith in Christ we may experience deep sadnesses, traumas and sufferings but in the most interior level of ourselves we will be at rest. Against this is the idea that life is inevitably a blend of light and shade and that we should enjoy the light when we have it and endure the shade when we must and that anyway most of our lives, whatever we do, will be spent in a neutral zone between the two things. To abandon the living of normal life in pursuit of the chimera of happiness proposed by Christianity is a tremendous gamble undertaken on very slight evidence.
There are two arguments which, I think, bolster the Christian proposition….click here to read more


And All the Holy Angels

christ in the garden of gethsemane 1584 Paolo Veronese

The nuns in St Bernadette’s convent were praying a novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary when the little saint was noticed offering her petitions in the chapel of St Joseph.
“But you are mistaken sister” she was told.
“Oh,” Bernadette smiled “In heaven no one is jealous.”

Of course the Lourdes visionary was right but if the heavenly angels were ever to be envious I suspect it would not be of their captains St Michael and St Gabriel but of these guys-
Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him (Matthew 4:11)
And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him” (Luke 22:43)

To serve the suffering and sorrowful Jesus in the desert or in the garden where He experienced such agony of spirit is surely a great privilege. Think what a joy it must be to know that the lesser has comforted the greater, that the almost nothing has brought strength to the author of all, the recipient of love has shared that love with its divine author and so brought Him relief in His sorrows. St Thérèse of Lisieux said disinterested love is for us to console Jesus, not for Him to console us” and those angels who have chosen to serve God exist only for the purpose of disinterested love- “Are they not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). It therefore seems that those fortunate, those blessed angels who ministered to our Lord after His forty day fast and before His Passion fulfilled their role in a way which no other angels could ever equal or surpass….click here to read more

Jesus: Truly Obedient to the Father

Jesus in Garden

Jesus is the quintessential model for obedience. We see the first example of obedience in Luke 2:49, where we read, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus had an awareness of the Father’s will and was obedient to the calling to discuss scripture with the learned men in the Temple. Yet, on the heels of this statement, in verse 51, we also see that Jesus was obedient to his step-father, St. Joseph and his mother Mary, when once reunited with His parents. Luke tells us, “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51).

We see another example of Jesus’ obedience to the Father in the passages of the Temptation of Jesus… Read more…

Salvation: It’s Not All About Me

Moses Lorenzo Monaco

Formulae like ‘I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour‘ are very commonly used among Evangelical Christians. They can act as the gateway marking the point at which a person becomes a Christian. In that sense they resemble the shahada, the Muslim profession of faith. What they don’t resemble is the traditional Christian gateways which are baptism and the profession of the Nicene creed. There are many things which could be said about this but I propose to focus on what I see as the excessive individualism which this approach to the faith both reflects and encourages.

The formula is theologically sound so far as it goes, its main problem is the premature use of the full stop. It makes the Christian faith in its totality appear to consist of a personal relationship between the individual believer and one member of the Blessed Trinity. This is at best inadequate and at worst positively misleading...click here to read more