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How can I better prepare for prayer and meditation?

February 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Meditation, Mental Prayer, Prayer

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Q: Dear Father John, in the first part of your book, The Better Part, you mention something about preparing for tomorrow’s meditation the night before. I also heard that mentioned by a priest giving us a talk during a retreat. Can you explain this a little bit more? What do you mean, exactly, and is that something just for religious and priests, or should I be doing it too? A: It seems to me that your question is being asked... Read More

St. Teresa, should I strive to quiet my mind during prayer?

January 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Featured, Meditation, Mental Prayer, Prayer, Teresa of Avila

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Q: Dear Saint Teresa, I have read a number of books on prayer that advocate methods of suppressing, shutting down, or eliminating thinking all together during prayer.  In one centering prayer book it said to “let your thoughts go” and that “thoughts are a normal part of prayer.” Even though the book claimed that it was not teaching to eliminate thoughts, in the end, the method taught that we seek a state... Read More

Mental Prayer – Spiritual Dictionary

December 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Mental Prayer, Navigating, Prayer, Spiritual Dictionary

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MENTAL PRAYER: The form of prayer in which the sentiments expressed are one’s own and not those of another person, and the expression of these sentiments is mainly, if not entirely, interior and not externalized (e.g. not vocalized).  Mental prayer is accomplished by internal acts of the mind and affections that are a loving and discursive (reflective) consideration of religious truths or some mystery of faith.  In mental... Read More

Meditation – Navigating the Interior Life Spiritual Dictionary

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MEDITATION: Reflective prayer.  It is that form of mental prayer in which the mind, in God’s presence, thinks about God and divine things.  While the affections may also be active, the stress in meditation is on the role of the intellect.  Hence this is also called discursive mental prayer.  The objects of meditation are mainly three: mysteries of faith; a person’s better knowledge of what God wants him or her to... Read More

What is the “Prayer of Simplicity”? (Part I of III)

November 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Contemplation, Fr. Bartunek, Meditation, Mental Prayer, Prayer

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Q: Dear Father John, I’ve heard that the prayer of simplicity is a kind of a bridge from meditation to contemplation. Can you help me to understand what this experience of prayer might be and how one might know that God is leading them down that path? A: The term “prayer of simplicity” is used differently by different spiritual authors, so there is some danger of confusion in answering this question. I will try to define... Read More

What is Spiritual Theology?

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What is Spiritual Theology?  There is a lot of diverse opinions on this topic.  Probably the best explanation is provided by Jordan Aumann, O.P., in his well known Spiritual Theology.   To best understand the conversation that he introduces, it is important to note that all the branches of theology, as a disciplined study of sacred doctrine, constitute just one unified science.  This is true even if this single scientific... Read More

An Answer to a Question: What is Contemplation?

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Recently, Dan received an interesting question and after we talked about it, I asked whether I might respond.  Here is the question: “Is the terminology for prayer different from Ignatian to that of Carmelite spirituality? I’m a Secular Carmelite and I just went on an Ignatian retreat. My understanding of contemplation was that it was a complete gift with no activity on our part. However, the director defined it when... Read More

Should I set aside my meditation and vocal prayer to go deeper in my spiritual life? (modified)

Should I set aside my meditation and vocal prayer to go deeper in my spiritual life? (modified)

Q: Dear Dan, I have a rule of life (firm spiritual commitments) and as part of that rule I have been meditating (Ignatian) and praying the rosary and the Liturgy of the Hours daily for years now. My struggle is that I have heard that if I sense the Lord’s presence (which does happen), that I should set these prayers aside and focus on the Lord. I am confused, I thought that focusing on God is what I am already doing. To me, the... Read More

Saying your prayers versus praying your prayers

August 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Difficulties, Mental Prayer, Prayer, Vocal

In the spiritual life, the language we use intimately reflects our hearts. As an example, let’s look at prayer. Do we “say our prayers?” Or do we pray in an intimate relationship with God? The former is like saying, “I said words to my wife.” The latter is closer to saying, “My wife and I had a wonderful dinner together.” Prayer, when spoken of in impersonal terms, can depict and encourage impersonal aspirations,... Read More

Catechism – Contemplative Prayer – 2719

June 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Catechism, Contemplation, Dan Burke, Mental Prayer, Prayer, Prayer

Catechism – Contemplative Prayer – 2719

Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. The Paschal night of the Resurrection passes through the night of the agony and the tomb – the three intense moments of the Hour of Jesus which his Spirit (and not “the flesh [which] is weak”) brings to life in prayer. We must be willing to “keep watch with [him] one... Read More

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