A while back unagidon had a wonderful post on "Still Life with Rosary." He wrote, in part:

If God is everywhere at all times, then we are not really summoning God when we pray. The thing that actually stands between God and ourselves is.ourselves. We get in our own way, because we cant easily remove ourselves from our thoughts about ourselves and all the trash that constantly runs through our minds. This may mean that anything that facilitates removing ourselves as a barrier to God is prayer.There seem to be many, many ways to do this. Many roads lead to God.What looked to me (and perhaps would stillbe forme) like the pious superstitions of my grandmother in her prayer was actually a way that she could focus on her prayer, on praying it [the rosary] carefully and removing herself by concentrating on this.

Another way is the way recommended by the medieval author of The Cloud of Unknowing. His delightful advice to his young friend is to undertake to "lift up your heart to the Lord, with a gentle stirring of love, desiring him for his own sake and not for his gifts." But this simple work requires much labor in order to still our restless and avaricious self.In a later work, The Book of Privy Counsel, he writes:

No doubt, when you begin this practice your undisciplined faculties finding no meat to feed upon, will angrily taunt you to abandon it. They will demand that you take up something more worthwhile, which means, of course, something more suited to them. For you are now engaged in a work so far beyond their accustomed activity that they think you are wasting your time. But their dissatisfaction, inasmuch as it arises from this is actually a good sign, since it proves you have gone on to something of greater value. So I am delighted. And why not? For nothing I can do, and no exercise of my physical or spiritual faculties can bring me so near to God, as this naked quiet awareness of my blind being and my joyful gift of it to God.

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is a longtime Commonweal contributor.

Also by this author
© 2024 Commonweal Magazine. All rights reserved. Design by Point Five. Site by Deck Fifty.