|A Hermit Praying in the Ruins of a Roman Temple by Hubert Robert|
Last week I wrote about St. Teresa’s of Avila’s method of mental prayer.
Today I want to discuss misunderstandings about prayer from a different
angle. Since we desire contemplation, should we sit still in prayer and
wait for it? Should we try to make it happen by quieting our minds?
Like last Friday’s post, this series speaks to the differences between
Carmelite teaching and Centering Prayer, yoga, and other types of
meditation influenced by eastern religions.
Some people falsely
equate silence with supernatural (infused) contemplation. They read
about the need for interior silence in prayer, and they mistakenly think
that if they sit quietly, God will necessarily bestow contemplation
upon them. They equate the peace they find in silence to communion with
The Vatican has cautioned us about certain methods of prayer
In 1989, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation. Here is what the document says about silence:
methods of meditation, on the other hand, including those which have
their starting-point in the words and deeds of Jesus, try as far as
possible to put aside everything that is worldly, sense perceptible or
conceptually limited. It is thus an attempt to ascend to or immerse
oneself in the sphere of the divine, which, as such, is neither
terrestrial, sense-perceptible nor capable of conceptualization.” (11)
Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.