Prayer, Meditation, Silence and Recollection

Taken from Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen

God does not want anxiety or discouragement. If He proposes to us an exalted way of sanctity, he does not leave us alone, but comes to help and sustain us. There is no physical or moral misery which Jesus cannot cure. He asks only that we g to Him with a heart dilated by faith, and with complete trust in His all-powerful, merciful love. If we want to prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming, we, like St John the Baptist, must detach ourselves from all the goods of the earth. Like St John, we need to retire into the desert of our hearts and await the coming of Jesus in deep recollection, silence and solitude. We must persevere in this waiting (patience), in spite of aridity and discouragement. To our interior recollection, let us add a greater spirit of penance and mortification. Let us examine our generosity in practicing the penances and mortifications prescribed by our Rule as well as those we have imposed upon ourselves with the permission of our spiritual director. Mortification can be just a small thing but when done with constancy and especially when one does not feel like it, it can be a great source of grace and blessing. The Lord will not delay in coming to visit the soul with His grace. We should not lose courage but we should be like St Mary Magdalen, especially after we fall. We need help in prayer to quieten the continual chatter about useless things, the discordant voices of nature, self-love, sensitiveness, the distracting prattle of my fantasies , imaginations, thoughts and useless preoccupations. Mortify the curiosity of the eyes, ears, thoughts and imagination.

In search of God

The soul filled with sanctifying grace and charity, there is a special presence of God which was promised by Jesus which is called indwelling. In other words the three Divine Persons are present in my soul that is in the state of grace, so that it may know Them by faith, love Them by charity and that They may even make Themselves known to the soul by the intimate illumination of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They are present in the soul to invite it to live in Their society, in intimate friendship with Them. “Abide in Me and I in you.” “My delight is to be with the children of men.”

Seeking God in prayer

Exterior solitude, withdrawing physically from the noise, from the occupations and the preoccupations of this world is a great means, and even at least to a certain point, an indispensable means for leading a serious interior life. A soul consecrated to God cannot, of its own initiative, subtract even a small part of its time under pain of seeing its spiritual life weaken. Every activity, no matter how important or urgent it is, must therefore be suspended at the prescribed time, so that all the strength of the soul may be consecrated in the supreme activity of prayer. These hours are sacred. Retirement and material solitude are of great importance in prayer, but they will not suffice if they are not accompanied by interior recollection.

Seeking God in our duties

God must be sought, not only in prayer but in all the daily duties of our life. We must always pray. Our duties and contacts with people will never impede our union with God if they are regulated by His Will. But we must always keep ourselves within the limits of God’s Will. When the ‘affection’ of our will fixes itself upon the duties and the creatures, seeking in them a little personal satisfaction, gratifying our natural curiosity or our natural desire for affection, trying to gain recognition for ourselves or looking for esteem from others, then our will strays away from the path of God’s ill, our heart becomes attached to creatures, and thus meets a real obstacle – the greatest – to its continual seeking for God. Have no other thought that is not directed toward God. Here on earth our search for God and our union with Him are accomplished by means of the will, rather than by the intellect. If the charity of Christ urges us, nothing will be able to separate us from Him.

The Virgin of the Incarnation

If Mary’s whole life was one of recollection and concentration in God, it must have been especially such at the time when, overshadowed by the power of the Most High, the Word became incarnate within Her. Although retaining her humility, Mary was perfectly conscious of the ‘great things’ that were taking place within her. Nevertheless, she kept the great mystery hidden in her soul, hidden even from Joseph, and lived recollected in the intimacy of her spirit, adoring and meditating.