Life of Prayer : Occupying our time of orison? (n°25)

The time devoted to orison is very precious, one must have a strong desire to occupy it at best so that it does not become routine but fruitful. It is, however, an area of great personal freedom : Everyone must find how the Holy Spirit gradually shapes his/her dialogue with God. Without imposing any rules or putting any limits let us say a few words about this.

When the question arises or not

Sometimes, the question does not arise : we quickly enter into recollection, a loving attention to God, that is sufficiernt for us. Or else our heart opens up spontaneously in the Lord’s presence, or there are special graces, a strong « hold » of God : it is He who becomes totally the master of our prayer. We might also be going through a difficult trial so prayer becomes a cry to God from the depth of our misery, without us having to force ourselves ! But, at other times, the question arises : we are not spontaneously inclined to pray one way or another, as mentionned above, and it i s up to us to decide how to occupy this time.

The beginning and the end

A Jesuite Father said : « In orison, we must especially take care of the beginning and the end, and in between we do what we can ! »

We must first of all be attentive to the way we beway we begin : to settle down in the gin : to settle down in the present moment, truly putting present moment, truly putting ourselves in the presence of God, in an ourselves in the presence of God, in an act of love and faith, in a great desire to act of love and faith, in a great desire to take advantage of this huge gift made take advantage of this huge gift made to us, that of having an appointment to us, that of having an appointment with the Lord. We can invoke the Holy with the Lord. We can invoke the Holy Spirit, entrust ourselves to Mary, or Spirit, entrust ourselves to Mary, or enter in any other way into this very enter in any other way into this very special moment.special moment.

The end : even if we do not see this time of prayer as a time of great quality, we must never leave sad or discouraged. To have spent some time with God is always a gift we have to thank Him warmly for : Even though I may not have been very present, the Lord has, and certainly did something in my heart ! I must always leave with gratitude, and certain that I can count on Him.

A “failed” prayer for most of the time cacan be “recovered” in the last three n be “recovered” in the last three minutes by a great act of humility and minutes by a great act of humility and trust and a strong resolve to walk on trust and a strong resolve to walk on with God. Our gratitude must be even with God. Our gratitude must be even greater if we have enjoyed a beautiful greater if we have enjoyed a beautiful moment, and stronger must be our moment, and stronger must be our resolve to go forward if we have beresolve to go forward if we have been en enlightened on what God expects from enlightened on what God expects from us.us.

The « in between »

What can we say about this « inin–betweenbetween »» ??

There are, of course, a thousand ways to spend time with the Lordto spend time with the Lord : to speak : to speak to Him spontaneously, to thank Him, to to Him spontaneously, to thank Him, to invoke His grace, to tell Him oinvoke His grace, to tell Him of our f our needs and of those of the world. We needs and of those of the world. We can ruminate a text of Scripture, repeat can ruminate a text of Scripture, repeat it and let it penetrate our heart, it and let it penetrate our heart, consider all it is telling us… It is possible consider all it is telling us… It is possible to draw on a psalm that we love and to draw on a psalm that we love and does us good. We can also (especially if does us good. We can also (especially if we are easilywe are easily absentabsent–minded and have minded and have trouble in meditating) read a few lines trouble in meditating) read a few lines of a spiritual work that speaks to us and of a spiritual work that speaks to us and draws us back to an attentive listening draws us back to an attentive listening to God, which nurtures our good to God, which nurtures our good dispositions of trust, love, generosity. dispositions of trust, love, generosity. “Prayer of the heart” can also be a “Prayer of the heart” can also be a ggreat help : simply and gently repeating reat help : simply and gently repeating the Name of Jesus, while being the Name of Jesus, while being attentive to His presence in our heart. attentive to His presence in our heart. Another possibility, and by no means Another possibility, and by no means the least, is to pray the Rosary. the least, is to pray the Rosary. Especially in difficult times, the Rosary Especially in difficult times, the Rosary can be the prayer of those who ccan be the prayer of those who can no an no longer praylonger pray ; by means of this poor and ; by means of this poor and simple way, Mary can give us a share in simple way, Mary can give us a share in her recollection and openness to God.her recollection and openness to God.

The different occupations that have just been stated, can, of course, be just been stated, can, of course, be combined in the same time of orison. combined in the same time of orison. But it is certainly adBut it is certainly advisable to avoid visable to avoid «« flitting aboutflitting about », and to tend to a », and to tend to a certain continuity in one form of prayer certain continuity in one form of prayer during a specific time of orison.during a specific time of orison.

The rule in this area is simple : let us do what does us good, what helps us to be what does us good, what helps us to be attentive to God’s presence, to attentive to God’s presence, to welcome hiwelcome his love, what nourishes our s love, what nourishes our faith, our hope, our charity. Sometimes, faith, our hope, our charity. Sometimes, the only thing we have left, is to the only thing we have left, is to entrust to God our incapacity to pray. entrust to God our incapacity to pray. To remain there in spite of barreness, To remain there in spite of barreness, boredom or even disgust, can be an boredom or even disgust, can be an authentic prayer. Especially since thereauthentic prayer. Especially since there is then no gratification of selfis then no gratification of self–esteemesteem !!

Active or passive prayer

A key question is that of discernment between the times when it is appropriate to be active and those when it is necessary to be passive in orison. Sometimes we have to be active, otherwise nothing happens, we are lazy, settling into a routine. We have to meditate, read, speak, start moving and nourish actively our faith, our hope, our love.
Sometimes, on the contrary, we must set aside reading, meditation and activity, remaining rather quiet and silent, because the Holy Spirit is leading us into a grace of contemplation: we feel in our hearts an inclination to remain peaceful, without any particular activity of the intellect, but in a simple loving attention to God’s presence. Thoughts and imagination can wander a bit here and there but a loving attention to God is present in our heart and that is enough. There is no need for many thoughts and words, but simply to maintain this loving attention of the heart.

Conclusion

If we are faithful to orison and do our best to make good use of the time we devote to it, it is quite possible that, with the grace of God, we may one-day say, like the soul St John of the Cross speaks of in his Spiritual Canticle: “From now on I have no other work, my only occupation is to love”. (Stanza 20) May the Holy Spirit bless our good will and give us the necessary faithfulness and discernment.

 

Quotation

« In our ordinary life, we share our abilities with the world. In our prayer, we offer our share of helpless-ness. It is what makes it always possible and present. Nothing should prevent it, not even our inability to pray. » Martin Steffens

 

To Go Further…

Just for Today :

  • I take some time to read again through the « in between » periods of my previous times of orison. If I am not in « a simple loving attention » to God I choose to practice more regularly one or two ways among those which have been suggested.

Books :

  • Textx by John of the cross on the transition from meditation to contemplation: Ascent of Carmel, book 2, chapters 12 et 13.
  • Apprendre à prier pour apprendre à aimer, Jacques Philippe, E.D.B.
  • Link to an article by Martin Steffens in La Croix du April17, 2020 :

 

Find the previous articles in our “Life of prayer” series.
(publication edited by brothers and sisters of the Community of the Beatitudes – © rights reserved).

Oraison

Ces articles sur la vie d'oraison sont extraits du bulletin mensuel "Il est là !" publié à l'usage des membres de la Communauté des Béatitudes et de leurs amis. Il est rédigé par un collectif de laïcs, prêtres, frères et sœurs consacrés, membres de la Communauté, avec le désir de stimuler la vie de prière, essentielle à la vocation aux Béatitudes comme à toute vie chrétienne authentique... C'est pourquoi nous sommes heureux de vous partager ces contenus simples.

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