All posts tagged: contemplative prayer

Cultivating Benedictine Wonder

I awake in the middle of the night, as I do most nights here, with muscles complaining about the hundreds of hay bales I loaded into a barn the day before. It is half past 2AM. The Guest House at the Abbey of Regina Laudis is black and silent, but some 800 meters away in the chapel, an assembly of nuns is awake and keeping watch with the sanctuary lamp. It is the hour of Matins. By the time I rise at 8:00, the flowers have been watered, the cows milked, the sheep sent to pasture, the cat found and fed, the grapevines inspected, and the bread dough set out to rise. I gulp a cup of Folgers and hike up the hill to the Church of Jesu Fili Mariae for Mass. A bell rings, and from behind the wrought iron grille, the nuns process into the sanctuary, bowing to the altar and to one another before taking their places in the choir stalls. Mother Abbess intones the prayer: Deus, in adjutorium meum intende. The …

Prayer Heart to Heart

The Baltimore Catechism (1891) says, “What is prayer? Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God” (§1099). I believe that these words, taken by themselves, are the heart and soul of what prayer is, but since prayer can take many forms we might look at two of the ways that people pray. Among the many forms of prayer are such practices as formalized prayers, for example: the Rosary, a novena, the Divine Office, or the holy Eucharist. These are all good in different circumstances and for different people. The fact is, though, that they are all predetermined in terms of the words and the sequence of ideas. Their value comes both from the fact that the one who prays is faithful to actually doing the prayer and from the formation that the repetition of these prayers works on the one who prays. Such prayers basically praise God and tell him what we want him to do for us, while the Baltimore Catechism points more to a simple opening of our minds …