unlike the beginning snowboarder, who fearfully leans BACK instead of forward while picking up
downhill speed on the snowy slope, when it comes to deep contemplative prayer many souls experience
frustration simply because they don't know where to lean, and because they seek control, they lose
it; they eventually give up, sprawled in the snow, or wrapped around a tree
Okay, so maybe you're not wrapped around a tree and you still haven't
snapped any limbs, but hey, there comes a point, after fearfully leaning back time after time, that
you just want to sit down and rethink: "This is useless. I'm wasting my time. Maybe I should go back
to the lodge." - And you begin to imagine yourself warm around the fireplace with a mug of hot
chocolate in your hands...
St. Teresa of Avila was well aware that the primary
need of souls seeking God in prayer is not to find the ideal method, but to do God's will always and
everywhere in the nitty-gritty of LIFE. In tweet-style prayer could be summarized thus: "You
Pray How You Live."
Contemplative prayer is God's gift!
However, he only gives that gift to those who are ready!
So how can you prepare
yourself properly to receive God's gift
of himself in prayer? How can you "let go" enough of
yourself to trust God completely to the point where you can lean FORWARD on your downhill trek?
Teresa offers 5 conditions. When these suggestions are lived faithfully, God will not hesitate to
give you that downhill rush you have been struggling to achieve with your own meager
efforts. I - God's Will
is more important than ANY good work. If your
choices are not part and parcel of what God is asking, then even in doing good things, you will
hinder God's ability to touch your soul in prayer. II - Your Fidelity does
not depend on Others.
There is no one to blame or to thank for your growth in virtue and the
living of God's will in your life. You are free! And God will reward you for YOUR decisions. Saints
in concentration camps prove this point well. III - All You Need is Love.
God is not interested in a flat, banal fulfillment of laws. He seeks the heart. The more you love
him in the fulfillment of your duties, the more you will open your soul to receive his touches of
grace in prayer. IV - Purification of Faults.
Teresa stresses the
acceptance of any and every trial to one's own advantage. Those who reject or struggle against
difficulties as means to purification of soul also hinder God's loving action. The all-pure God
gives himself most freely to prayerful souls who stand before him purified of their
faults. V - It is a Narrow Gate that leads to Life.
Following upon the
last principle, if you wish to stand pure before God, passive acceptance of difficulties are not
enough. The soul who actively seeks to purify his earthly clingings through penance, fasting and
mortification is the one most blessed by God's overwhelming presence in prayer.
Is a final corollary, it should also become obvious that downhill snowboarding does not depend on
age, but on properly leaning downhill as one picks up speed. So with prayer ... there are many in
the spiritual life who remain toddlers either because they continue, in fear, to lean back, or worse
yet, because they pack up and head to the lodge, where the fire is warm, and the hot chocolate
To read more about this: