Last week we left off examining the Carmelite method of mental prayer or what we generally call meditation. We were making our points of mediation in our proximate preparation. I mentioned that it is good to make 2 to 5 points. Just having one, doesn’t leave any options if that one doesn’t pan out, and having more than five can tempt us like a “to do” to try to get through all of them and check them off. We do not have to use all of our points in a meditation, we may need no more than one, but it is always good to have some options and backups. We should try to make our points brief, one line or one sentence, so that they are easy to remember and in their summary form are full of meaning for us. Once our points are prepared, we are ready to get down to the business of actually meditating.
St. Theresa of Avila taught that we need to truly put ourselves into the presence of God. Go to a quiet place where there are less possible distractions, assume a posture which is not too comfortable (as you will easily fall asleep) but at the same time it can’t be too painful as the pain will distract you. I find that a wooden chair and prie-dieu work for me. A prayer corner, prayer nook, or home altar with some religious images and a crucifix to focus on are very helpful. Having a consistent time and place of prayer make it much easier. Once in our place of prayer with our points ready, we make a deliberate act of faith regarding God’s presence. We ask Him for pardon for any faults, ask for help to make a good meditation and invoke the intercession of Mary, our patron saints and our guardian angel. We can then make any petitions that people have asked us to pray for, or anything that is looming in my life I can at this point leave in the hands of God. (to be continued)