The Community of the Beatitudes often refers to the Carmelite tradition, particularly on the subject of a life of orison. What does it mean? In what way is this reference
Life of prayer : Primary Grace (n°3)
Published on the 11 March 2021
«The Community acknowledges a life of prayer as its primary grace.» Book of Life, n° 60
There are so many promises included in this assertion!
«Grace » means a free gift from God, resting on us, from the shear fact that we belong to the community. A grace to be received every day although we do not deserve it at all. « Make yourself capacity, I shall make myself a torrent » said Christ to St. Catherine of Sienna. This gift does not depend on us and cannot be taken back from us (Rom.11:29) But if we want this grace to bear fruit we have to receive it unceasingly with faith, humility, gratitude, determination. In one word, with love…
We have to impress that this statement goes very far: it is not about a grace amongst others, but the main grace, our « gracesource », all the rest flows from it, we have to come back to it endlessly, to immerse in it everything we are, everything we live, everything we undertake, even our most fervent apostolic desires. This also means that a life of prayer (oraison, orison) is the most precious thing we have and can share with others, and it means our community has a special grace to draw people to deep prayer.
Teresa of Avila asserts: «Orison is the door through which enter all the choice graces, like those God has bestowed upon me. Once this door is closed, I do not know how He could give them to us. In vain, He will want to enter in a soul to take delights with it and get it to find delights in Him, but the avenues are closed for Him.» (Life VIII,9)
To draw from this source and to allow this source to water all our existence, this is the gift God offers us unceasingly and the gift we can offer to Him. «You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.» (Dt.6:5).
The fights we must wage in order to persevere in prayer, are not small ones. They are proportionate to the gift and the challenges. Let’s point out here two frequent temptations:
– the fight for time devoted to prayer. « In order to carry on with prayer, we have to be convinced (if we unmask some temptations of guilt that are based on a false notion of charity) that the time given to God is never stolen from others, stolen from those who need our love and our presence. On the contrary, our faithful presence to God will guarantee our capacity to be present to others and truly love them. As experience shows, near souls of orison is found the most heedful, delicate, unselfish, compassionate love that is most able to console and comfort. Orison will make us better and our neighbors will not complain about it.» (Fr. Jacques Philippe «Du temps pour Dieu.») We must strongly insist on this point: a persevering life of orison bears abundant fruit in our lives. The lives of saints bear witness to it. Our apostolates, our mission, will be all the more fruitful if they are rooted in a diligent life or orison, as Mother Teresa says: «The more we shall receive in the silence of, prayer, the more we shall give in active life.»
– the fight for faithfulness in friendship, in love, for orison is about friendship : «It is not difficult to say ‘I love you’, the difficulty starts with saying ‘forever’, and above all when one has to put it into practice. Since ‘forever’ lasts long (…) a spring in your soul is necessary in order to love always the same object. One needs both the strength to remember and the strength to create. Every day one needs to invent what must last forever. Love can sometimes be a weakness, but to last in love or in friendship is always an act of generosity, a victory.» (Fr. Jérôme «Possibilités et mélodies»)
Let us not be alarmed or discouraged by the difficulties we encounter to pray, to be faithful to what we have promised the Lord … Let us not lose sight of the beauty of the calling we have received and us renew, if necessary, our answer to the gift God has given us so that the assertion in our Book of Life may be accomplished in our life. «Thus, orison, a pure dialogue of love, will have pride of place in our life, because it is the royal way leading us to the knowledge of Him who is all Love.» (N°57)
«Indolence and orison do not go together» according to Teresa of Avila. She does not fail to insist in her writings about the necessity to have, in this field, «a strong determined determination.» Let us not make a mistake: the Madre does not advocate any voluntarism. She simply invites us to focus our attention, our loving effort, where appropriate, with all our good will, whatever the obstacles on the way. «If my tale is so long (…) it is also to show what grace the Lord gives to a soul when He puts in it the steady resolution to give its full attention to orison, even if it has not all the required dispositions yet, ultimately it is to show that if the soul perseveres in spite of the sins and in spite of the temptations, in spite of the falls of all kinds the devil drags it in, I am convinced God will end up by leading it into the harbor of salvation, as He has led me myself.» (Life VIII, 4)
Let us always come back to the heart of the question: The question of a love offering itself to us and desiring to be received. And let us remember: «No prowess, no sacrifice, accomplished for the loved one, but far from him, will be as worthy as the simple loving presence.» (Fr. Jerôme)
Teresa of Avila insists as well on the fact that a soul which desires to persevere on the path to orison, cannot do it alone. Save the necessity of spiritual counseling, the Madre raises the point of the benefit to be in the company of souls of orison (Life VII, 20). Of course faithfulness in a life of orison, depends above all on a decision and a personal answer to «Do you love me?» that the Lord whispers unceasingly in our heart…but we can help each other very much in this field As a conclusion, let Jesus’s words resonate in our hearts « Apart from me, you can do nothing (…) No longer do I call you servants because the servant does not know what his master is doing ; I call you my friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide. » (Jn. 15: 5, 15-16)
« Prayer is to our soul what rain is to the earth.» St. Curé of Ars (St. John Marie Vianney)
To Go Further…
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