Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

7/18/2010 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Silence is the first step that is necessary in order to embark upon the journey of contemplative prayer

A serious life of contemplative prayer is very important for the times in which we live. The traditional structures of support that have made our lives comfortable and easy are presently engulfed in confusion, but transformation is slowly taking place. God is moving us away from clinging to things, people, and institutions.  He is calling us to detachment, to the desert, into the night of naked faith.  He is calling us to cling only to him.

We all need moments of solitude.  Spending a quiet time before the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures during a peaceful moment at home, taking tranquil walks through the woods or along the beach all are necessary for our soul.  In order to be with God, we must develop the ability to be alone with ourselves.

We all need moments of solitude. Spending a quiet time before the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures during a peaceful moment at home, taking tranquil walks through the woods or along the beach all are necessary for our soul. In order to be with God, we must develop the ability to be alone with ourselves.

Highlights

By Fr. James Farfaglia

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/18/2010 (4 years ago)

Published in Living Faith


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Excessive anxiety, worry and fear rob many people of their inner peace.  The stresses caused by the demands of modern life are having serious consequences on people's mental health, which in turn are having serious effects on people's physical health. 

Those who suffer from a lack of inner peace due to anxiety, worry and fear quickly turn to medications to relieve their pervasive symptoms.  The amount of Americans taking sleeping pills and the amount of children and teenagers taking some kind of medication for anxiety are astounding. 

This Sunday's Gospel narrative provides the solution for the epidemic loss of inner peace.  Martha's sister Mary, rather than being anxious and worried, sat beside Jesus and listened to him.  Her actions are those of a woman of prayer.

We experience God through our life of prayer.  Prayer is conversation with God. Prayer is a continual being in love because God is real and personal.   No matter what might be going on in our lives, we must always pray, and pray daily.  Prayer is the air that we breathe. 

When I speak to you about a life of prayer, I am not referring to the mere saying of prayers.  I am talking about something much deeper.  There are different types of prayer.  One form of prayer is vocal prayer and another form of prayer is mental prayer.  There are two types of mental prayer.  One form of mental prayer is meditation and the other form of mental prayer is contemplation. 

Meditation and contemplation are quite different.  The person who meditates usually uses the Scriptures or some other spiritual book.  Contemplation does not employ any books at all.  Contemplation is the prayer of the heart and not of the mind.  Contemplative prayer may focus on a word or a phrase from the scripture, or one may simply be in the presence of God. 

Martha's sister Mary knew how to go deeper.  She was a contemplative.  She sat in the presence of Jesus and simply listened.   You do not have to live in a monastery to be a contemplative.  Everyone can be a contemplative.  No matter what your profession may be, everyone has the possibility of having a deep relationship with Jesus. 

One of the greatest challenges that we encounter is our inability to listen to God.  We are caught up in the distractions of daily life that prevent us from really encountering God.
Our busy lives require refreshing times of prayer throughout the day.  If we fail to incorporate prayer into our schedules, we will live our lives as if God does not even exist. 

Silence is the first step that is necessary in order to embark upon the journey of contemplative prayer.  We can only be with God if we can calm down our mind and be silent.  During the day it is important that we take time to turn off the TV, the radio and the computer.  It is necessary that we turn off the anxieties and worries flowing through our minds. 

A serious life of contemplative prayer is very important for the times in which we live. The traditional structures of support that have made our lives comfortable and easy are presently engulfed in confusion, but transformation is slowly taking place. God is moving us away from clinging to things, people, and institutions.  He is calling us to detachment, to the desert, into the night of naked faith.  He is calling us to cling only to him. This journey is difficult, frightening at times and even risky. 

However, without the silence and solitude of daily contemplative prayer, anxiety and fear may overwhelm us. If we are a people who live truly spiritual lives, we will be filled with peace and joy no matter what may be going on around us.

St. Teresa of Avila, the famous Spanish mystic, once wrote: "Let nothing trouble you.  Let nothing frighten you.  Everything passes.  God never changes.  Patience obtains all.  Whoever has God, wants for nothing.  God alone is enough" (Poesías 30).

It is true that we are experiencing profound challenges.

This may sound a bit extreme, but I have reached the conclusion that the only way that we will be able to handle the challenges of our times and the difficulties that are to unfold is through the exercise of daily contemplative prayer. This is true because contemplative prayer allows us to experience the peace that only God can give us. 

What are the practical steps that we can take in order to incorporate into our busy lives daily contemplative prayer?

First of all, we need balance in our lives. We might ask ourselves when was the last time that we stopped to watch the sunrise or the sunset?  Can we recall walking on the beach, enjoying the fragrance of a beautiful flower, cherishing the innocent smile of a child or gazing at the moon and the night sky filled with stars?

Again we might ask ourselves when was the last time that we enjoyed dinner with family and friends, or turned off our cell phone and refrained from checking our email at every moment?

Ours is an anxious and chaotic world.  Isn't time that we got back into balance? Excessive work and travel, excessive involvement in sports and entertainment are tearing us apart.  The experience of God through contemplative prayer will restore balance and peace into our busy lives. 
 
Secondly, contemplation requires the capacity to be alone.  It is difficult to be alone in our contemporary society.  Even when we are alone, the noise of our own worries and fears drown out the silence of God's voice.  Many people are incapable of being alone and they immediately feel an obsession to talk with someone on a cell phone or check their email.  

We all need moments of solitude.  Spending a quiet time before the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures during a peaceful moment at home, taking tranquil walks through the woods or along the beach all are necessary for our soul.  In order to be with God, we must develop the ability to be alone with ourselves. 

Thirdly, we need order in our lives. Working out daily schedules for the entire family by setting   realistic priorities and minimizing extra-curricular activities for the children are steps that we can take.  Early to bed and early to rise is a wise principle which is still valid today.

However, many people will say that all of this sounds wonderful, but who has the time for contemplative prayer?  Too many people are like Martha, "anxious and worried about many things". Too many people have fallen into the terrible of trap of what I call the idolatry of work, thus making their work a complete obsession to the detriment of their families and personal health.  Man was not made for work; work was made for man.

This Sunday's gospel passage allows us to reevaluate our lives.  We need to set proper priorities so that deep contemplative prayer can be a daily part of our experience with God.  Try it.  You will be amazed at the results. 

"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her" (Luke 10: 41).

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

6 types of men Christian women should dismiss for marriage Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Women, and men, should be wary of whom they shall live with for the rest of their lives. Marriage is not a temporary commitment, it lasts for a lifetime no matter how you will put it --- two people still shared the same vows to cherish one another through a sacred ... continue reading


Pope Franics to host major conference on climate change Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis will host a major summit on April 28 entitled "Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development." MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The conference will feature famous American economist, ... continue reading


Can Catholics Practice Yoga and Transcendental Meditation?

Image of

By Deacon Ian VanHeusen

Among many Christians who are honestly seeking to deepen their prayer life, there is a genuine concern about erroneous forms of prayer. People should be careful to accept practices which diverge from the faith they have received, whether through the family or in a ... continue reading


Is there a war between feminism and the Catholic Church? American nuns' 'radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith' Watch

Image of The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ended an investigation into radical feminist ideals held by the U.S.'s largest nun group, warning the organization to fall in line with Catholic orthodox stances.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The year-long inquiry into American nuns by the Holy See's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has concluded, and will not take any action against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the body that governs around 80 percent of nuns in the ... continue reading


Passionate pastor attempts to fix the missing spiritual link in churches across the U.S. Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Reverend Percy McCray suggests that leaders of faith should undergo in-depth training programs to better deal with cancer-stricken patients and their hurting families. According to McCray, as it stands now, most churches across the United States lack the proper ... continue reading


Dialogue: an essential ingredient for peaceful relationships Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

According to the New York Times, during a White House luncheon in 1954 Winston Churchill said, "To jaw-jaw [talk-talk] always is better than to war-war." While clearly not a pacifist, the United Kingdom's World War II prime minister had seen upfront the absolute horror ... continue reading


Pope Francis risks international outrage by using term 'genocide' to describe Armenia massacre Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Risking international opinion and possibly stirring up anger throughout Turkey, Pope Francis used the word "genocide" to refer to the mass killings of Armenians a century ago under the Ottoman Empire. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "In the past century, our ... continue reading


Pope Francis: Children 'can never be considered a mistake' Watch

Image of

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis said Wednesday that children are never a mistake, and called adults out for building faulty systems that leave children exploited and abandoned, rather than treated as the blessings they are. (CNA/EWTN News) - "Brothers and sisters, think about this ... continue reading


Easter around the world: 10 amazing photos that caputre Easter celebrations

Image of Easter vigil

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christians all over the world observed the Lenten Season and ended with the celebration of Easter Sunday, the symbolism of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Across the globe, believers from different countries celebrated in various ways. With the use of social media, ... continue reading


5 wonderful ways to remind yourself Jesus is always with you Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

All our troubles and hardships may sway us from the idea that Jesus is always with us, no matter what we're doing or what we're currently going through. If anything, our hardships should bring us closer to Him. We sway from Him because for most of us, Jesus is just a ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
13 It is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9
2 Children of men, how long will you be heavy of ... Read More

Reading 2, First John 2:1-5
1 My children, I am writing this to prevent you from ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 19th, 2015 Image

St. Alphege
April 19: Archbishop and "the First Martyr of Canterbury." He was born in ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter