MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
– Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”
© Abbey of Gethsemani
The whole purpose of spiritual direction is to penetrate beneath the surface of a person’s life, to get behind the façade of conventional gestures and attitudes which one presents to the world, and to bring out one’s inner spiritual freedom, one’s inmost truth, which is what [Christians] call the likeness of Christ in one’s soul. This is an entirely supernatural (spiritual) thing, for the work of rescuing the inner person from automatism belongs first of all to the Holy Spirit. (Thomas Merton)
Mental prayer is a form of prayer recommended in the Catholic Church whereby one loves God through dialogue, meditating on God’s words, and contemplation of his face. It is a time of silence focused on God. It is distinguished from vocal prayers which use set prayers, although mental prayer can proceed by using vocal prayers in order to improve dialogue with God.
One of the foremost writers on mental prayer, St. Teresa of Avila, stated: “Mental prayer [oración mental] is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” Since the emphasis is on love rather than thought, modern authors recommend that it be called interior prayer.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, meditation and contemplative prayer which takes place in mental prayer are “major expressions of the life of prayer” in the Christian tradition. The practice of mental prayer is necessary for reaching the goal of Christian perfection, said Blessed Mother Teresa. “Holiness is impossible without it.” All saints, according to St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of Church on Moral theology, have become saints by mental prayer. Thus, spiritual theologian Adolphe Tanquerey concluded that mental prayer is “the most effective means of assuring one’s salvation.” READ MORE