Today, we are asking our good friend, St. Teresa of Avila to help us in the process of thinking clearly about prayer. She is a worthy mentor – for she cuts to the heart of the matter in a practical and meaningful way.
In her Book of Foundations, she makes many important observations that will help us become more focused on what we are doing in prayer. This focus will in turn help us with our artistic creativity.
A few examples of her perceptive thoughts:
“The first thing I wish to discuss, as far as my limited understanding will allow, is the nature of the essence of perfect prayer. I have come across people who believe that the whole thing consists in thought, [but] if they become distracted and their efforts to think of good things fail, they at once become greatly discouraged and suppose themselves to be lost. It must be recognized that not everyone has by nature an imagination capable of meditating, whereas all souls are capable of love.”
It is my belief, however, that as creative people, artists are very capable of meditation because it involves the imagination. It is crucial, however, that they learn the proper process, and especially for them to remember, if they are a Catholic Christian, that St. Teresa of Avila happily gives sound advice and clear direction to conversation with Christ.
St. Teresa continues, “I am anxious to explain that the soul is not thought, nor will it be controlled by thought – it would be great misfortune if it were. The soul’s profit, then, consists not in thinking much, but in loving much.”
“Do not imagine that I want you to make long meditations on our divine Savior or much reasoning or profound and subtle conceptions. If you cannot do more, [just] keep your eyes fixed for some moments on your adorable Savior [really present in your church’s tabernacle, or, who as Love personified, was nailed to a cross for our Redemption].”
“[Rather than] spending time in prayer profoundly investigating some subject on which they are meditating [you should] place yourself in the presence of Our Lord and converse with Him, heart to heart, without fatiguing the understanding, and tasting the happiness of being in His company.”
The Lord doesn’t need many words from us – less, truly is, more; but He does thirst for our creative and heartfelt love.
As creative people, we necessarily have many things on our “to do” lists. You don’t need me to tell you that 21st century life is exhausting. With that in mind, St. Teresa’s advice is all the more relevant. For we should avoid at all costs making our prayer life another intellectual challenge – another task – that saps the little energy we have left!
She counsels us to meditate using some simple techniques of, at first, opening our mind and heart to the stillness – the quiet – that two friends experience in which they can be in each other’s company and not have to constantly be talking. The subconscious – or conscious – stress of having to keep up the conversation is gone. It is like a husband and a wife, who after many years of marriage, can be in each other’s company, enjoying moments that could stretch on for some time, and yet, not needing to say more than some words of awareness, support, agreement, or recognition.
My next post will provide a meditation by St. Teresa on Our Lord’s Passion.
Copyright © 2012 Deacon Paul O. Iacono All Rights Reserved