- Tuesday, 16 August 2011 09:47
This morning on my train ride into the City, I was reading a monograph by Archabbot Lambert Reilly, OSB, the emeritus archabbot of St Meinrad Archabbey, “Prayer: A Conversation with God.” I recommend it. Why? Because I need to be reminded that prayer is not a monologue but a dialogue; it is the heart speaking to the Heart. I also have to remember it is not about me exclusively but about Him who is greater than I.
The Archabbot is conversational in his presentation; one would be tempted to think that there’s a lot of words but no content because he’s narrating his experience. On the contrary, this essay-turned-talk is full of good advice on prayer; it was prepared for Benedictine Oblates but is applicable to many others. Get the piece if you can.
Archabbot Lambert speaks of three types of attention in prayer:
1. “the attention by which we are lost in God.” A short-lived experience of God; a gift from Himself; no strings attached; +Lambert quotes Saint Teresa of Avila: “Don’t seek the consolations of God; seek the God of consolations.”
2. “the mind is on the words that we are praying or the thoughts we are thinking, so that the mind actually takes hold of the thought that we are thinking and the prayers we are praying with understanding.” Quoting Saint Benedict: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the mind was in harmony with the voice?”
3. “there is enough attention there [in prayer] to get words out, or get the thoughts going, and continuing, no matter how many places our minds go otherwise, then we are praying.”
Archabbot Lambert concludes the section by saying that receiving a gift is great but the Giver of the Gift is the most important. True, no let’s focus on Him. The archabbot’s line about charity is worth noting, not least because I have to grow in charity if I am to take God seriously and to allow my humanity to change according to the ways of God. Reilly says, “If you want to know if your prayer is growing, ask yourself if your charity is growing. And you know how charity grows: by minding your own business and going to find Him who is there.”