The Prayer of Quiet is regarded by all writers on mystical theology as one of the degrees of contemplation. It has to be distinguished therefore from meditation and from affective prayer. It holds an intermediary place between the latter and the prayer of union. As the name implies the prayer of quiet is that in which the soul experiences an extraordinary peace and rest, accompanied by delight or pleasure in contemplating God as present. In this prayer God gives to the soul an intellectual knowledge of His presence, and makes it feel that it is really in communication with Him, although He does this in a somewhat obscure manner. The manifestation increases in distinctness, as the union with God becomes of a higher order. This mystic gift cannot be acquired, because it is supernatural. It is God Himself who makes His presence felt in the inmost soul. The certain sight of God therein obtained is not the same as the light of faith, though it is founded upon faith. The gift of wisdom is especially employed in this degree, as it is in every degree of contemplation. According to Scaramelli the office of this gift, at least to a certain extent, is to render God present to the soul and so much the more present as the gift is more abundant. Some authors say that this is not to be understood of the ordinary gift of wisdom which is necessarily connected with sanctifying grace and is possessed by every just man, but of wisdom as one of the charismata or extraordinary graces of the Holy Ghost, specially granted to privileged souls.
The prayer of quiet does not entirely impede the exercise of the faculties of the soul. The will alone remains captive. The intellect and memory appear to have greater activity for the things of God in this state, but not so much for worldly affairs. They may even escape the bounds of restraint and wander on strange and useless thoughts, and yet the will, attracted by the charm of the Divine presence, continues its delights, not wholly in a passive way, but capable of eliciting fervent affections and aspirations. As to the bodily senses St. Francis de Sales tells us that persons during the prayer of quiet can hear and remember things said near them; and, quoting St. Teresa, he observes that it is a type of superstition to be so jealous of our repose as to refrain from coughing, and almost from breathing for fear of losing it. God who is the author of this peace will not deprive us of it for unavoidable bodily motions, or even for involuntary wanderings of the imagination. The spiritual fruits are:
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online