movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is
a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light:
“Lord, what do you want me to do?”
There are as many and varied methods of meditation as
there are spiritual masters. Christians owe it to themselves to
develop the desire tomeditate regularly, lest they come to resemble
the three first kinds of soil in the parable of the sower.
method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the
Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.
Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and
desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen
our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and
strengthen our will to followChrist. Christian prayer tries above all
to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in
or the rosa
ry. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian
prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord
Jesus, to union with him.
What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: “Con
templative prayer [
] in my opinion is nothing else
than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time fre
quently to be alone with him who we know loves us.”
Contemplative prayer seeks him“whommy soul loves.”
Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is al
ways the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which
causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we
can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.
The choice of the
time and duration of the prayer
a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not
undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one
makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give
up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One
cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner
prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or
6 St. Teresa of Jesus,
The Book of Her Life,
8, 5 in
The Collected Works of St.
Teresa of Avila,
tr. K.Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD
(Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976), I, 67.
1:7; cf. 3:1-4.