In sweet quiet….”the will alone is captivated” by the living light that manifests the sweet presence of God in us and His goodness. At this moment the gift of piety, which is in the will itself, disposes it to an entirely filial affection toward God…..We experience the greatest peace, calm, and sweetness in the inmost depths of our being….The whole physical part of our nature shares in this delight and sweetness….Then, says St. Teresa, the will should “take no more notice of the understanding (or imagination) than it would of an idiot.”
This sweet quiet, called also the prayer of divine tastes or of silence, is, moreover, often interrupted by the aridities and trials of the night of the senses, by temptations which oblige the soul to a salutary reaction. The effects of the prayer of quiet are greater virtue, especially greater love of God and ineffable peace, at least in the higher part of the soul.
The prayer of quiet described by St. Teresa in the fourth mansion has three distinct phases: (1) passive recollection, which is a sweet and loving absorption of the will in God by a special grace; (2) quiet, properly so called, in which the will is captivated by God, whether it remains silent or prays with a sort of spiritual transport; (3) the sleep of the powers, when, the will remaining captive, the understanding ceases to discourse and is itself seized by God, although the imagination and the memory continue to be disturbed.
The conduct to be observed in the prayer of quiet is that of humble abandonment in the hands of God. No effort should be made to place oneself in this state, which can come only from a special grace of the Holy Ghost, who at times inclines the soul to a loving silence, at others to affections which gush forth as from a spring. If the understanding and imagination wander, the soul must not be disturbed about it, or go in search of them; the will should remain and enjoy the favor it receives, like a wise bee in the depths of its retreat. –Father Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange
I would like to focus on prayer. The writing of Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange on Teresa of Avila’s prayer of quiet fits in nicely with my rambling imagination during prayer today. My prayer life has taken a bit of a hit as I took to the life of a teenager, occupying my time with lunches and socializing after mass, talking about the spiritual life and having fun becoming a focus. I do not see the spiritual life as entertainment, a source of socializing and amusement. There is joy, yet something solemn, serious, and mature; a strict prayer life demanded if one has been called to an advanced life. It is not a matter of superiority rather a chore, accountability a severity. If one is to advance it is not through conversation. I embrace fellowship, loving brother and sister, yet spiritually I am a mature Contemplative, working hard at my vocation. My spiritual life is not lived out in the life of others. I am detached from having others hear my religious thoughts and opinions. There are few I find who nurture through conversation. I have been enjoying a wonderful balancing of devout worship and fellowship at St Paul Shrine. After mass and adoration, I have been sitting with the extern sisters watching religious movies in the lobby, ‘The Reluctant Saint’ the latest. There have been numerous wonderful healthy individuals sharing the joy of the season, while also touching on the passing of Roger. It all comes together to heighten and deepen faith, hope, and charity. I understand the last frontal assault by Satan was conducted due to my opening of myself to a life of chatter, shallowness, and mediocrity. During the completion of Advent, I determinedly intend to return to a spiritual life of prayer. I will not give my Advent season away to fickleness and a lack of direction and the boredom of others. I am not playing at life. I interpret my week of no Hospice activity as a serious breach in my spiritual life. I wandered into frivolity and nonsense.
My thoughts driving to work, reflecting upon the Holy Hour, centered upon an extensive interior cave, marveling at the wonder of the Rosary and other prayers to create a centering for my imagination and memory, occupying the two with activity, interior stillness created. Ironically, the words are the essence of a quieting, their manifestations an eliminating, their repetition and holiness soothing, their guidance a sheltering and protection, their reality a transcendence of concepts and intellectualizing, their exercising a revealing of faith, hope, and charity–a sublime adoration and trust in God. Symbolically, thy are Mary taking me behind the hand, guiding me to the Trinity. This is important for those developing a prayer life, a description of what to aspire toward. Take in the commentary of Father Reginald on St Teresa of Avila’s prayer of quiet above, reread the words two or three times, than consider what I am describing closely. It is merely descriptive, nothing to be learned, a predilection pointed toward, practice the mastering, the fulfilling absolutely divine: God, the Creator, exercising Divine Will. Before the Eucharist, the verbal prayer becomes only a part of consciousness, something greater exist, an interior space created, surrounding and enveloping the mental reciting of words. My being, individual consciousness is beyond the silent or spoken verbal words. The Eucharist fills. The Eucharist becomes forefront and center, tangible and effervescent. It is why I am absolutely enamored with the vessels the sisters have decorated the altar with, a filling artistically and beautifully represented, interior emptiness and space symbolically identified. I have been trying to get a photo of the purple vessels, yet complications have arisen the past two days. Today, I will get one. Let’s review, sitting still before the Eucharist, comfortable, no stirring, holding a single position, I recite Rosaries, prayerfully mouthing the words, the instinctual and practiced words flowing forward, roses tossed at the feet of the Immaculate Mary. Yet now something greater emerges. There is space, emptiness surrounding the interiorly sounded words. Once again, the prayed words are only a backdrop, sounds within a cave, echoing, bouncing around consciousness before falling at the feet of Mary. As the space surrounding the words becomes larger, ever moving outward it becomes obvious a cave, which once seemed the proper interpretation by the imagination, is no longer defining. Everything is greater. The emptiness is expansive, unable to be filled by my being. Everything goes on and on and on. Everything progresses slowly, motion imperceptible. Sensual perception, acute attention, is turned off, highly aware, open and effective nothing is beholden. Vision blurs, things coming and going in focus. The Eucharist is held firm in sight, gazed upon, quieted by the words of the Rosary. The words of the Rosary are only a part, emptiness envelopes the words. Beads held and passing through fingers, rolled circular round tips, are rhythmically stimulating, slow in advancing. The Cross, the Crucifixion, the head of the Rosary beads is grasped firmly in the other hand, held steady and strong–the death of Jesus prominent and proud, his sacrifice soothing digging into the palm, the cross squeezed extreme during moments of fleshly irritation. It is the best I can do in honoring and calling out to the Queen of Heaven, while the presence of her Divine Son, the Eucharist hovers in magnificence, omnipotence and omnipresence granted their undefinable glorious grandeur within simplicity as an edible Host. More defining to Mary is the space she is elevated within. Mary, Queen of Heaven, is who she is by all that surrounds her. The space within being filled by the Eucharist, the expanding dimensions existing within my being, a flowing out of myself occurs with the filling of myself by the Eucharist, unification is hinted at yet seems far out of reach, a future to come. I know I am called to be here, right now at this moment, sitting at St Paul Shrine, adoring the Eucharist. Calm joy arouses the interior expansion, the word rapture enticing, yet it sounds too dramatic, there is no drama involved. God loses all proportion and identity during infusion, everything is being swallowed by the emptiness, a roar silently bellowing, words of prayer ceased, complete, everything moving outward, a beckoning on into……