Little by little we must advance on the road to prayer.
The technique is always the same. To rid our heart of its surrounding dross; to listen to it where it is already at prayer; to yield ourselves to that prayer until the Spirit's prayer becomes our own.
As a monk of the Byzantine period once taught: "Anyone who attends carefully to his heart, letting no other notions and fantasies get in, will soon observe how in the nature of things his heart engenders light. Just as coals are set ablaze and the candle is kindled by the fire, so God sets our heart aflame for contemplation. He who since our baptism has made our heart his dwelling-place."
Another monk of that period used a different metaphor to say the same thing. He was to an extraordinary degree a man of prayer, someone absolutely carried away by prayer, which was his constant occupation. He was asked how he had reached that state. He replied that he found it hard to explain. "Looking back," he said, "my impression is that for many, many years I was carrying prayer within my heart, but did not know it at the time. It was like a spring, but one covered by a stone. Then at a certain moment Jesus took the stone away. At that the spring began to flow and has been flowing ever since."
Father Andre Louf, OCSO. "Prayer, Our Constant Occupation." excerpt from Mercy in Weakness (Cistercian Publications, 1998).
Cistercian Publications is now being distributed by Liturgical Press.
Originally preached to his monks at the abbey of Mont-des-Cats in northern France, the homilies contained in Mercy in Weakness draw on years of lectio divina and reflection, and concentrate on the theme of God's mercy in reaching out to humankind. The words of Jesus revealed in the gospels are central to his message and he shows how we must allow these words to transform us, inspiring praise and bearing witness to others.
Excerpt provided by permission of Liturgical Press.
Father Andre Louf, OCSO (1929-2010) was a Trappist monk of Mont-des-Cats and a prominent theologian and retreat master. Born in 1929 in Leuven, Belgium he entered the monastery in 1947 and was elected abbot in 1963, a ministry he exercised for 34 years. Upon retirement in 1997 he lived as a hermit and served for a while as a chaplain to a group of nuns in the south of France. Famously he was the author of the 2004 meditations of the Way of the Cross at the invitation of Pope John Paul II. Father Andre Louf, OCSO is the author of Mercy in Weakness, The Cistercian Way, Grace Can Do More, Tuning in to Grace, and The Way of Humility.Copyright © 2011 Cistercian Publications
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