Monday, November 15, 2010

The 6 Ms of Teresian Carmelite - Mental Prayer

Inspired by the teaching of St. Teresa of Avila that the purpose of prayer is "the birth of Good Works", as Carmelite Seculars we are called upon to contemplative prayer.

One way of doing this is through mental prayer which is included in our "6 Ms".
Mental Prayer - to fulfill our commitment of living in allegiance to Jesus Christ, we dedicate at least 30 minutes to an hour of our time everyday to God by quieting our selves and listening to Gods voice in silence. [1]
St. Teresa in her "Way of Perfection" explains the meaning and importance of mental prayer.  In her writing, she ask this question, 
" How can you address a King unless you are clearly conscious of the nature of his position and your own?"[2]
Why does she say this,?  St. Teresa states that when we pray, it is very important for us
"... to  think of Who it is that you are addressing, and what you yourself are, if only you speak to Him with proper respect."[3]
St. Teresa always believe that prayer is our way of communicating with Jesus, the King of Kings, our King, thus whenever we pray it is necessary that we address our King properly, for this King who is Supreme power and Goodness, 

"before Whom even the angels tremble."[4]

With vocal prayer alone there is this problem of often times forgetting Whom He is that we are addressing, that often leads our mind astray, aside from the possibility of simply uttering words that we have already memorized in the past that simply makes our prayer more mechanical rather than doing our best to attain contemplation, which is according to our founder, should be the aim of all Discalced Carmelites whenever they pray.

Contemplation, which is
 "Divine union, in which the Lord takes His delight in the soul, and the soul takes its delight in Him."[5]
For whenever
" the Lord gives His favours and we ourselves leave nothing undone, I think it is certain that He never ceases from giving until He has brought us to a very high degree of prayer."[6]
Thus mental prayer is important for what vocal prayer finds very hard to attain, by combining it with mental prayer, it allows us to attain contemplation.  Which is what "contemplative" prayer is all about.

In the words of our founder St. Teresa of Avila,
"... for mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends;  it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us."[7]
To Jesus through Mary,

Jov of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, OCDS

[1] OCDS-Philippines Provincial Statutes page 1
[2] Way of Perfection Chapter 22:1
[3] ibid
[4] Way of Perfection Chapter 22:3 
[5] Way of Perfection Chapter 16:2
[6] ibid
[7] Life 8:5

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