ST. TERESA'S OUR FATHER
by Father Gabriel Barry, OCD
When asked to write a paper that would be consistent with the theme, Contemplation in Christ, I began to consider what approach I would take to the subject. At the same time, I knew that the members of our Secular Order want to read both solid doctrine and practical instructions on how to pray and to live out the Christian way of life. They read the publications presented to them not only to show their solidarity with the Order and with one another, but also to learn how best to integrate the ordinary duties of every day life into a real life of prayer. In one way or another, they are saying, as the Apostles said to Jesus long ago: "Lord, teach us how to pray."(1) Help us to know God better, so that we can live better lives for His sake. And you know the Lord's answer; He taught them the Our Father, the model of all prayer, with its seven petitions which include every one of our needs, spiritual and temporal.(2) Reading over Luke's account of this incident, I was reminded of a parallel occasion in the life of St. Teresa of Avila. It took place not long after she had established the first convent of the reform in her native city. The nuns who made up the community there were drawn together by a common desire to pray for the Church and the world.(3) They were aware that their foundress was favored with many exceptional graces, and that, at the bidding of her confessors, she had even written a book on prayer; a book which learned theologians held in high esteem.(4) So her nuns came to her and earnestly begged her to say something to them too about prayer. In deference to their wishes, she began to write the Way of Perfection.(5) And because I have drawn heavily on it for material for this writing, a few preliminary comments on it will not be out of place.
II. THE WAY OF PERFECTION
St. Teresa composed the Way of Perfection for a group of Carmelite nuns, but we ought not to be put off by that. Basically, it is an instruction on how to pray, and for that reason, it is of value to everyone who is trying to carry out our Lord's command to pray always. Only a small part of it refers explicitly to Carmelite nuns, and even that part is of value to everybody when properly interpreted. The genius of St. Teresa and the nature of the central theme have given a universal appeal to the book. So lively and fascinating is it that it is probably the most widely read of St. Teresa's writings. At the same time, it is down-to-earth and practical. St. Teresa writes about exalted spiritual things in a simple, familiar way, with the result that one can be scarcely aware of the wealth of practical wisdom, shrewd psychology and high spirituality on almost every page. "Skillfully, and in a way profitable to all, she intermingles her teaching on the most rudimentary principles of the religious life, with instruction on the most sublime and elevated tenets of mystical theology."(6) However, the amount of strictly mystical material in this book is not great. This does not mean that St. Teresa by-passes the subject of contemplative prayer. Far from it. But she realized that this kind of prayer was an entirely gratuitous gift from God, to which we have no claim, and no efforts of ours, no matter how prolonged or energetic they be, will raise us up to that level.(7) And therefore she did not call her book the Way of Contemplation, or even the Way of Prayer. She cast it on another key, using the image of a quest for spiritual perfection; a quest which the acts of the Second Vatican Council describe as the Call of the Whole Church to Holiness.(8) Were it not that it would take us too far afield, it would be most interesting to institute a comparison between St. Teresa's ideas and those formulated by the Council, almost exactly four hundred years later. Her style and phraseology are notably different, of course, but it is amazing how she anticipated the teaching of Vatican II in many respects. In passing, it is worth noting that much of St. Teresa's work came in the wake of another great Council; that of Trent, which closed in 1563. Like all the great Councils, it ushered in an era of new spiritual vitality in the Church. But almost inevitably, one may say it brought its own share of divisions, arguments and confusion. Europe was full of self-constituted evangelists, preachers, charismatics and what-not; all claiming to be speaking in the name of Christ. St. Teresa felt it necessary to issue some words of warning in the Way of Perfection. This is what she says: "Never pay heed to matters of popular opinion. This is no time for believing everyone. Believe only those whom you see modeling their lives on the life of Jesus Christ . . . Believe firmly in the teaching of our Holy Mother, the Roman Church."(9) Good advice, even at the present day!
III. THE "OUR FATHER"
I mentioned already how fundamental and even deceptively simple St. Teresa's approach can be, and this very matter of guiding us higher on the path of perfection supplies us with an outstanding instance. If she said: "I am going to lead you along to the highest level of contemplative prayer," not only would she be giving a wrong impression and perhaps even a false one; she would also be in danger of frightening off many who were genuinely called to contemplation. Furthermore, in the Spain of her day, she would be running the gauntlet of the Inquisition which saw heresy lurking in the very mention of contemplation. So instead of using pretentious language she simply says: "Let us talk about the Our Father. This is a prayer that we must recite, if we are Christians at all. It is worth our while to learn to say it properly."(10) This may sound elementary, but in the mind of St. Teresa it actually summed up everything that could be said about prayer. For she found in the Our Father not only a model for vocal prayer, but a foundation for the highest mystical prayer as well.(11) This claim may seem somewhat exaggerated until we take the trouble of looking more closely at St. Luke's version of the story, concerning the occasion when our Lord first taught the Our Father. He had been praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him: "Lord, teach us to pray too." And He said to them: "When you pray, you must say Our Father who art in heaven . . ."(12) You will appreciate, I am sure, that there was something unusual about this request. The disciples of Jesus were not ignorant of prayer. What then prompted this particular question? They had watched the Master at prayer and had seen for themselves that it was different from the kind of prayer that they were in the habit of making. As likely as not, they were unable to put into words what the difference was, but they could see that something was wanting in their own prayer; something that made a world of difference. That was what they wanted to learn. And their question had the implication: "What exactly is real prayer? Can you possibly teach us to pray as you have been praying?" And Jesus' reply can be paraphrased: "This is the sort of thing it is; first, you must realize that your Creator is also your loving Father. His home in heaven is destined to be your home too. Moreover, even during your life in this world, He wants to come and make His home with you. You cannot hope to bear fruit unless you are rooted in God"; and so on. In other words, the lesson which our Lord taught his apostles and which He summarized in the seven petitions of the Our Father is principally a lesson in spiritual attitudes; a lesson in the relationship between us who pray and the One to whom we pray. The Our Father begins by establishing an attitude of adoration, worship and reverence. It makes it clear that the chief object of prayer is not to get something, but to become something; to become all that God desires us to be; to grow up in Christ, as the Apostle says: to strive to be as perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. The essence of Christian prayer is this search for God, so that in Him we may live. This means living, in the fullest and noblest and best sense of the word. To quote the words of the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, "An outstanding cause of human dignity lies in man's call to communion with God. From the very circumstances of his origin, man is already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist, were he not created by God's love, and constantly preserved by it. And he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to his Creator."(13) This is what our Lord wished to impart, when He taught the Our Father; that was what the apostles had asked Him to do for them; and I don't think it is straining the facts to say that this too was what the nuns of St. Joseph's of Avila had in mind when they asked St. Teresa to teach them how to pray. Her answer, like the Master's was "Let us learn to say the Lord's Prayer, and to say it as it ought to be said."
IV. KEEPING CLOSE TO CHRIST
At this stage, it is perhaps well to refer back to the theme, namely Contemplation in Christ, and to point out that what I have hitherto been saying leads up to this. There are, to be sure, many, many approaches. What I propose to do is to follow certain trails of thought from the teaching of St. Teresa, particularly when she is speaking about the Lord's Prayer.
We have already mentioned that the purpose of prayer is to help us to grow up in Christ; not just to get something. We are called to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, putting aside our childish ways of acting and thinking; taking on the mind of Christ, and growing to be mature spiritual people, until we reach the stature of Christ in all its completeness.(14) St. Teresa expresses these Scriptural thoughts in her own way. "As you are alone, you must look for a companion; and who would be a better companion than the very Master who taught you the prayer you are about to say . . . you should stay with so good a Friend as long as you can . . . keep at the side of this good Master, and be firmly resolved to learn what He teaches you . . . He will never leave you, unless you leave Him."(15) Right through the Way of Perfection her consistent advice is: "Keep close to the Lord, come what may. Don't let anyone persuade you that there is any better way of growing up spiritually. The very notion of being a Christian is to be united to Jesus, to become like to Him." Our attitudes, our standards, our way of life must be conformed to Him. To pray as Christians, we must look for the essence of the Lord's Prayer and make it our own. The Christian life is the living continuation of the life of Jesus: the prolongation of what he began to do and to teach. Christian prayer is the continuation of the prayer of Christ, as St. Teresa is constantly saying.(16) That is what she has in mind when she says we must keep close to Him and learn from Him how to pray and how to live. Our prayer, like His, must be an expression of our sonship or daughterhood.(17) It must be directed towards and centered round the will of this heavenly Father, who is more concerned for the welfare of each of us than we ourselves could ever be.(18) It must be all-embracing, in the sense that it takes in our whole life; for in us, as in Jesus, prayer and life are one. To be sure, we will have special times for prayer as well as special forms or acts. But in practice, genuine prayer takes in everything we are, everything we do, everything we think or say. This, I think, is one of the vital lessons that we learn from St. Teresa, as indeed, from the gospels themselves and from all the great spiritual guides that ever lived. Prayer has an intimate connection with life and experience. It is not just some sort of special activity that goes along side by side with the rest of life, but apart from it. It is not something for people who happen to have the taste and leisure for it, as one might cultivate the fine arts. It springs up spontaneously under the impulse of living and thinking. It is an encounter, where the mystery of man meets the mystery of God. It is something "given to us," as we shall see in a moment. But it is a gift that has to be asked for and waited for with patience and perseverance.(19)
V. GROWTH IN CHRIST
The spirit of man is a very different thing from his body, but they are united to form one person. Moreover, they both grow and mature, and the laws by which they grow are not unalike. In order that the body may become strong and healthy, two things are necessary. First, it must be protected from injury, and second, it must be given food, air and exercise. The soul of man too needs to be protected from what would harm it. This is something Jesus taught us to petition in the Our Father: "Deliver us from evil." St. Teresa sums it all up vigorously in her commentary on these words.(20) "Deliver me from the many, many, many things that weary and depress me; to enumerate them all would weary the reader if I were to repeat them." In another series of chapters she discusses with great insight the significance of the words: "lead us not into temptation." It is not a question of asking God to make us exempt from distress or conflicts, but praying for the strength and humility to cope with them and to profit by them. In this context, she discusses the very relevant question of exposure to evil. Though she was no pessimist, St. Teresa had no illusions about human weakness. She knew that when self-assured people deliberately courted risks, under the impression that they were too experienced to be caught, they were rushing to their ruin. Pride always goes before a fall. On the other hand, those who possess the gift of holy Fear, which accompanies true prayer, will be able to walk in great freedom and associate with anyone they meet, even dissolute people. "These will do you no harm, if you hate sin."(21)
On the positive side, the human soul needs food, just as the body does. "For man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God."(22) And so in the Our Father, Jesus teaches us to pray: "Give us this day our daily bread." This means the Living Bread which came down from heaven,(23) and includes all the grace and truth that came through Jesus Christ.(24) It includes the Blessed Eucharist, the Living Bread for our souls, as well as truth for our minds and grace for our wills. St. Teresa has three fine chapters, commenting on this petition.(25) She shows us how our prayer should revolve round the Blessed Eucharist, by which the life and strength and light of Christ are communicated to us, so that we can grow up to be like Him. We receive and feed on this divine food, in order that we may live an eternal, undying life. "For God's free gift is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."(26) This is the gift which He came on earth to bestow, and to give it to us in the greatest possible abundance.(27)
VI. THE SACRAMENTS AND PRAYER
The Sacraments are the chief means by which we in this world come to share the divine life and activity. From the moment of our Baptism, we are constantly, and in many different ways, being fed and nourished with the heavenly food that enables us to become spiritually mature. "Baptism is only a beginning: It is wholly directed to the acquiring of the fullness of life in Christ."(28) Granted all the Church teaches about the efficacy of the sacraments and the relationship between liturgical and personal prayer, the fact is that without personal prayer, the sacraments will bear little fruit. Just as food, however good it be, is useless until we assimilate it, so too, we have to allow the grace of the sacraments to become effective in us. And prayer is the chief means by which the spiritual food of divine grace helps us to grow in a life of union with God. As you know, there was much controversy all over this area in the early decades of this century. In so far as questions like this can be solved, the Vatican Council has made some important declarations,(29) which are relevant here. Briefly, this is what it says: The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed, and at the same time, it is the fountain from which all her powers flow. However, the liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church. The spiritual life is not confined to participation in the liturgy: Christians must also enter their chambers and pray to the Father in secret; indeed they must learn to pray all the time. In this way, they create the proper dispositions, conversion, faith, repentance and love, which enable them to match their thoughts with their words and cooperate with divine grace. It is instructive to read what St. Teresa wrote on this matter 400 years ago. She made no formal doctrinal statements, of course, but she is quite clear that without personal prayer to back them up, the sacraments can become almost a dead letter. On the other hand, a genuine life of prayer lends a considerable efficacy to the role of the sacraments. Everything the Church does is directed towards the one end of bringing us into loving union with our God. The Church is the Body of Christ; Christ continuing to live and love and suffer for us, until the end of time. It is the privilege of every Christian to fill up the uncompleted sufferings which the work of Christ still entails, for the sake of His body which is the Church.(30) And prayer is the principal way by which we come to appreciate all that, and make it our very own.
VII. MENTAL PRAYER
Perhaps this is the right moment to quote St. Teresa's descriptive definition of mental prayer: "In my view," she writes, "mental prayer is an intimate sharing between friends. It means taking time frequently to be alone with One who we know loves us."(31) This is a truly meaningful description, and of itself might well serve as a theme for discussion. At the moment however, we are concerned with only one aspect of it; the sharing, or communication or dialogue. St. Teresa was not the first to describe prayer as a "sharing" or "conversation." The idea was in vogue already among the Greek Fathers. St. Thomas Aquinas quotes some striking words of St. John Chrysostom: "You are permitted to hold converse with God in prayer; you can commune with Christ. You can say what you wish and request what you please."(32) We also find that this concept of prayer has been revived by the Vatican Council. "Prayer should accompany the reading of Holy Scripture, so that God and man may walk together. For we speak to Him when we pray, and we hear Him when we read the divine sayings."(33) In these quotations, we must understand the word "converse with" or "speak with" in the comprehensive sense of "dialogue with" or "commune with." Ordinarily, God does not use human utterances when communicating with those who pray, but he speaks by silences on a deeper level than mere words. He goes out to meet them, so to speak. All forms of Christian prayer are based on the fact that we are children of God, and we can address Him as "Our Father." That is the basic idea that is running through St. Teresa's mind when she is writing about prayer: "God is our Father and Jesus Christ is our elder Brother."(34) Prayer is not just talk. It is an exchange that takes place at the very core of the human person. It is our own response to God, inviting us to share ever more fully in His own very life.
Now you may wonder, does this exclude vocal prayer? By no means! As a matter of fact, vocal prayer is St. Teresa's starting-point;(35) she wanted to show her spiritual daughters how to say their vocal prayers well. "If they do so," she says, "God may well lead them on to things supernatural."(36) St. Teresa bridges over the gap between vocal prayer and mental prayer by pointing out that when the terms are properly understood, they are essentially the same thing; two different ways for expressing one reality.(37) When vocal prayer is properly said, realizing what it is in itself, and with an awareness of the One to whom it is addressed, then it becomes mental prayer. To recite the Our Father or the Hail Mary or any other petition you like is vocal prayer. To think and understand what we are saying and with Whom we speak, and who we are, to dare to talk with so great a Lord, how little we have served Him and how deserving He is of our service; that is mental prayer. But, "think how harsh your music will be if the two do not go together; sometimes even the words will get into the wrong order."(38)
It is interesting to know that the traditional meaning of "meditation on Holy Scripture" implied a certain use of words. It meant to ruminate on the Sacred text; to "murmur it to oneself," even when the murmur had become almost purely spiritual. In the ancient monastic tradition of both east and west, "to meditate meant to read a text and to learn it by heart, in the fullest sense of this expression; that is to learn it with one's whole being. It was learnt with the body, because the mouth pronounced it; it was learnt with the memory, which fixed it. It was learnt with the mind which understood its meaning; and finally it was learnt with the will, which resolves to put it into practice.(39)
St. Teresa's shrewd insight into human nature enabled her to see that there are some people, perhaps even many, who need the support of vocal prayer, when they come before God. She tells of one who spent hours and hours in vocal prayer, but was quite unable to make mental prayer, apart from it.(40) "There are a great many people just like this. If they are humble, they will not, I think, be any worse off in the end." Indeed, if they persevere, God may even raise them to high levels of prayer, even when keeping to the Our Father.(41) And in her own common-sense way, she advises them to keep to their vocal prayers, such as saying the rosary, or to read from the gospels or some good book,(42) or even to use a picture of our Lord.(43) It will not be out of place to insert here that in the opinion of St. Teresa, perseverance is one of the most valuable assets in those who are moving out on the way of prayer. There will be times when it all seems futile, wasteful and discouraging. There will be days when we feel as if we were up against a blank wall. There will be other days when we seem to be getting deeper into the mire. St. Teresa's advice is: "don't give up! don't lose heart." It is imperative that those who begin to practice prayer make a firm resolution never to turn back, "even if the world goes to pieces under their feet."(44) In practice, this means setting definite times for prayer and being loyal to them. To dismiss this habit as a form of legalism or to persuade ourselves that we are fulfilling it by some kind of vague resolution "to pray all the time" is to show regrettable ignorance of human nature and of the lessons of the past. The Fathers of the Church and the Fathers of the Desert, great men of prayer every one, assure us again and again that the only way to learn to pray is to keep at it, no matter how tempted we may be to give it all up.(45) St. Teresa however adds characteristically; "We must not be considered as taking back the gift of our time to God, if we fail to give it to Him for a day, or even for a few days, because of legitimate occupations or through ill health. Provided the intention remains firm, my God is not the least meticulous."(46) Perhaps we need to stress this resolution more firmly now than ever before. There is a widespread tendency to regard "communication with our fellowmen" as more than an adequate substitute for communication with God.
VIII. GROWTH IN PRAYER
Since prayer is one of the vital activities of the human spirit, we should expect that it develops and changes, even as life itself does. This is indeed the case with prayer. Now, from one point of view, growth is a simple obvious process. Every day of our lives, we see things growing; plants, animals, or children, and we believe we know what it involves. From another point of view, however, nothing on earth is more complex and mysterious, even when it is a question of purely organic growth. More mysterious and complex still is the process of development in prayer. We can judge only from what we see exteriorly and very little of this is observable. In its beginnings, as St. Teresa points out, prayer is liable to be hesitant, unsure and superficial. As often as not, it will be little more than an "exercise"; a routine turning to God. But according as the spirit grows stronger, prayer becomes stronger too. It becomes a "clinging to God"; an "intimate sharing with one who we know loves us." The conversation which we mentioned earlier becomes wordless, and is replaced by filial relationship between God's child and the Father in heaven. The information we have acquired about God from the Liturgy, the Sacraments, from reading Holy Scripture and spiritual books, from meditation and sermons; all that is gradually assimilated and becomes a real personal knowledge of Him marked by friendship and love. The multiple acts and petitions of the early stages of prayer are greatly simplified, and eventually take the form of an abiding sense of God's presence; a way of life which is centered on God. This is the Prayer of Simplicity, or the Prayer of Recollection. St. Teresa says of it that it is an entirely appropriate form of prayer for those who have come to recognize that God is indeed their Father and Jesus Christ their elder Brother.(47) It is the natural sequel to living out a prayer which we have learnt from the lips of Christ himself. St. Teresa speaks of it when commenting on the words: "Our Father who art in heaven."(48) She attaches great importance to it, being, as she says, "a holy companionship with our great Companion, when we can shut the door behind us and swell in that Paradise with our God."(49)
She adds: "You must understand that this is not a supernatural state but depends on our own goodwill. By God's favor, we can enter it of our own accord." In other words, this simplified form of prayer is still within the general category of "ordinary prayer," for which indeed we need the grace of God, but granted that, it is within the reach of everyone. Moreover, it is something to which everyone should aspire, since it is on the top level of ordinary prayer. It brings a vivid sense of the reality of God's presence and of companionship with Christ. And it is an important landmark in spiritual growth. When treating of the Third Mansion, St. Teresa had some worthwhile observations to make concerning those who have come so far. They are usually full of zeal, she says; so full of it indeed that they tend to judge others harshly. This of course has to be corrected, but she points out that the closer association and more intimate sharing with our Lord which is a feature of this kind of prayer soon brings about a reformation of outlook and of conduct. However, the deeper purification which removes the roots of sin comes only with contemplative prayer.
IX. CONTEMPLATION IN CHRIST
As I have said, by our own will and determination, we can advance to this prayer of recollection, which is the simplest and most meaningful form of mental prayer; a form in which we begin in some small measure to abide in the love of Christ.(50) However, there is another class of prayer where all this comes about in a super eminent and far more perfect way. This is contemplative prayer, which as St. Teresa repeats, is a gift and is totally beyond our reach. Nothing that we do will raise us to that level; indeed, one of the most serious mistakes in the whole range of the spiritual life is to imagine that our good works, no matter how heroic, or the quality of our meditations, no matter how exalted, can earn for us the least degree of contemplation. We can no more control this prayer than we can make the day to break or stop the night from falling. It is supernatural and something we cannot acquire."(51) It is His Majesty who does everything; the work is His alone and far transcends human nature."(52)
For our purposes here, there are three points that need to be underscored. The first is that although contemplative prayer is a new kind of experience of God and new dimension in spiritual growth, it is not miraculous. It is in fact an integral part of spiritual maturity and in the to come everyone will be favored with it. Here below however, God gives it only to those whom He chooses and in the measure He sees fit.(53) The second point is that it is always given through Jesus Christ. St. Teresa has two splendid chapters on this point, in which she insists most emphatically that the Sacred Humanity of Jesus can never be an obstacle to growth in prayer no matter how elevated.(54) The third point is that contemplation is not unconnected with the Our Father. Indeed, St. Teresa is quite original in seeing a close bond between the two. "It will be possible that while you are reciting the "Our Father" God may put you into perfect contemplation, if you recite it well. And in these ways, He shows that He hears what you are saying to Him. And His Majesty speaks to you, suspending the understanding of your mouth, so that you cannot speak, unless with great pain, even if you wish."(55) Following this, she gives a condensed but accurate description of what this "spiritual receiving" means; it is something given by God and we do not understand just how it comes about.(56)
Finally, in a later chapter, with the Our Father still in her mind, she writes: "Anyone ignorant of the subject might think that the two, namely vocal prayer and contemplation, had nothing to do with one another. I know that this is certainly not true. I know there are many people who practice vocal prayer in the way I described and are raised by God to the higher kind of contemplation without having any hand in this themselves or even knowing how it happened. For this reason, I attach great importance to your saying your vocal prayers well."(57)
In the Apostolic Constitution which Pope Paul VI wrote to promulgate the Liturgy of the Hours, he draws attention among other things to the fact that the ancient Christian custom has been restored of saying the Our Father thrice daily.(58) This being so, it is imperative that we learn to say it as we ought.(59) We know it so well, and yet we know it so little: We use it so often, and yet everyone feels that somehow they have never been able to plumb its depths. Frequently enough our acquaintance with the Lord's Prayer is largely limited to its oral recitation. That, to be sure, is good as far as it goes, but it is certainly not enough.(60) As St. Teresa points out, there is depth after depth of meaning in every petition of it, and it is only right that they all be explored, so that we may learn to pray as Jesus first taught His disciples to pray. And because this evangelical prayer is at one and the same time so terse in its phraseology, so universal in its application and so profound in its meaning, we need an expert guide to lead us through it, phrase by phrase and almost word by word. St. Teresa is one such qualified guide. To be sure, she was not a trained biblical scholar in the modern sense of the word, but she possessed something far more valuable than scholarship; a penetrating insight into the mind of Christ; an insight born of an affinity with the things of God. The result is that her commentary on the Our Father has few equals.(61) Some regard it as the most beautiful one ever written.(62) The English translator, Professor Allison Peers, writes: "Once she begins her commentary on the Our Father, so sensitive is she to the atmosphere of her theme that almost immediately her style becomes transformed."(63)
One of the principal merits of St. Teresa's commentary is that it shows the great flexibility of the Lord's Prayer. It is a prayer for all seasons and for all types of people; for those who don't seem to be able to get beyond vocal prayer as well as for those who are favored with higher contemplative graces. "God gives us everything at once, without our understanding how."(64) "The sublimity of this evangelical prayer is an amazing thing. So well composed was it by the good Master that each one may adapt it to their own needs . . . In its few words are enshrined all contemplation and perfection, so that if we study it, no other book seems necessary."(65)
Could we have a greater commendation for a prayer?
1. Please refer to the OCDS Rule of
Life, Foreword, and Article 4.
2. The Holy Bible.
3. Way of Perfection.
4. Ascent of Mount Carmel.
5. The Lords Prayer, by J. Jeremias, Facet Books.
In these notes, all references to the Way of Perfection are made from the Image Book edition; by Doubleday and Company, Garden City, New York. The translation is by E. Allison Peers. The pagination does not correspond with Complete Works of St. Teresa, Vol. II, but the chapter - divisions are the same. For those who may be interested in reading one of the patristic treatises on the Lord's Prayer, the best is probably that of St. Cyprian. It possesses a deep spiritual insight into the Lord's Prayer. A translation is to be had, by R. E. Wallis, in the Ante-Nicene Christian Library Series, Vol. I of Cyprian's Writings (Edinburgh, 1868). The commentaries on the Our Father in the Jerome Commentary are very inadequate. Among the moderns, The Lord's Prayer by J. Jeremias (Facet Books) and The Plain Man Looks at the Lord's Prayer, by William Barclay (Collins) are to be commended. But neither of them has anything like St. Teresa's spiritual understanding of its meaning, though from a purely technical point of view, their statements are more correct.
1. Luke 11:2-4; see also Matthew 6:9-13
2. Ascent of Mount Carmel, III, 14, 4
3. Way of Perfection, chapters 1 and 3. In the remainder of these notes, the title of the book will be abbreviated to W. of P.
4. Ibid, chapter 25, p. 172
5. Ibid, Prologue, p. 33
6. W. of P. Introduction (by Father Silverio), p. 33
7. Ibid, chapter 17, p. 126; chapter 19, p. 145
8. Constitution on the Church, chapter 5
9. W. of P., chapter 21, p. 155
10. Ibid, chapter 24, p. 166
11. Ibid, chapter 21, p. 151; chapter 27, p. 179 and passim. None of the commentaries that I have read see the Our Father as a source for contemplative prayer, until we come to St. Teresa. A well-known book entitled, St. Teresa's Pater Noster (Burns & Oates, 1887) was not written by St. Teresa. It is a sound little treatise on prayer by Joseph Frassinetti, based on the W. of P. and other Teresian writings. It is in fact a good syntheses of St. Teresa's teaching on meditative prayer.
12. Luke, 11:1-2
13. Constitution on the Church of the Modern World, n. 19
14. 1 Cor. 13; Ephesians 4:13
15. W. of P. chapter 26, pp. 173, 178
16. Ibid, chapter 29, pp. 191-193 and passim
17. Ibid, chapter 27, pp. 179-182
18. Ibid, chapter 32, pp. 210-217
19. Ibid, chapters 30 and 31, pp. 195 foll.
20. Ibid, chapter 42, pp. 274 foll.
21. W. of P., chapter 41, pp. 270-271
22. Luke 4:4
23. John 6:50
24. John 1:17
25. W. of P., chapters 33-35, pp. 218 foll.
26. Romans 6:23
27. John 10:10
28. Decree on Ecumenism, n. 22
29. cf. Constitution on the Liturgy, nn. 7-13. In the Apostolic Constitution promulgating the Liturgy of the Hours, Pope Paul VI writes: "Since the life of Christ in his Mystical Body perfects and elevates the personal life of each of the faithful, there can be no opposition between the prayer of Christ (in the liturgy) and the personal prayer of the individual, but instead, the relationship between them is strengthened by the Divine Office."
30. Colossians 1:24
31. Life, chapter 8; Peers I, p. 30
32. Summa Theol. q. 82, art. 2
33. Constitution on Divine Revelation, n. 25
34. W. of P. chapter 27, pp. 179, 180
35. Ibid, chapter 21, p. 151; chapter 24, pp. 166-172; chapter 30, p. 199
36. W. of P. chapter 25, p. 170
37. Ibid, chapter 25, p. 171
38. Ibid, chapter 24, p. 169. "I assure you, I cannot distinguish it (mental prayer) from vocal prayer, faithfully recited, with a realization of Who it is that we are addressing."
39. Leclercq, Jean: Love of Learning and the Desire of God, pp. 23-26
40. W. of P. chapter 17, p. 125
41. Ibid, chapter 30, p. 199
42. Ibid, chapter 17, p. 125; chapter 21, p. 151
43. Ibid, chapter 26, p. 177; chapter 34, p. 230
44. Ibid, chapter 21, p. 150
45. cf. Squire, Aelred: Asking the Fathers, pp. 141-143
46. W. of P. chapter 23, p. 163
47. Ibid chapter 27, pp. 178-179
48. Ibid chapters 28 and 29, pp. 183 foll.
49. Ibid chapter 29, p. 192
50. John 15:10
51. W. of P. chapter 31, p. 204
52. Ibid chapter 25, p. 171
53. Dark Night, I, chapter 9:9
54. Life, chapter 22, Peers I, pp. 136 foll.; Interior Castle, VI, chapter 7, Peers II, pp. 302 foll.
55. W. of P. chapter 25, p. 170
56. Ibid chapter 25, p. 171
57. W. of P. chapter 42, pp. 278-279
58. cf. Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul; Breviary I, p. xv. It is said at Mass, at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.
59. W. of P. chapter 42, pp. 278-279
60. Ibid, chapter 22, p. 156; chapter 24, p. 167
61. See Constitution on Divine Revelation, nn. 8 and 21-26
62. Hoornaert, St. Teresa in Her Writings, 1931, p. 259
63. St. Teresa of Jesus, 1953, p. 117
64. W. of P. chapter 26, p. 173
65. Ibid, chapter 37, p. 245
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