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" (PoesŪas 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Living Faith

Let the Holy Spirit Teach us How to Become Prayer Watch

Image of St. Paul wrote to the early Christians in Greece, telling them to pray without ceasing. (1 Th. 5:16-19) They did not live lives of ease, in any sense of the word. They had families, occupations, bills, and yes, difficulties and struggles beyond what many of us could imagine. They also suffered greatly for their faith. Yet, he instructed them to Pray without ceasing. Did he really mean it? I believe that he did.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he ... continue reading


Pope expresses regret with exodus of Christians from Mosul Watch

Image of

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

In his weekly Sunday Angelus address Pope Francis mourned the fleeing of the last Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul, who were told by ISIS forces last week to either convert, pay the Jizya tax or leave. (CNA/EWTN News) - "They are persecuted; our brothers are ... continue reading


Your Catholic Voice Foundation delivers for Sisters of St. Joseph

Image of They're on their way, thanks to you.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An order for 350 Bibles for a Catholic school in Grenada has been shipped to the sisters free of international shipping charges, thanks to you, the readers of Catholic Online. The shipping charges stood at approximately $800, and was covered by donations. Now, Your ... continue reading


This is Ch__ch. What is missing?

Image of What's missing? You are!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What's missing from this church? You are! Are we mistaken? Show up and tell us you are already there and get your daily prayer and more for FREE as our thanks.Click here now to say you're there!Now you can share this question with your friends. Are they at church? continue reading


Unaccompanied migrant children need our help

Image of This is an image of immigrant children presently housed in conditions that would be unconstitutional for convicted felons. These children are without their families, alone and afraid and without control over their future, they are the victims of many culprits.

By Tony Magliano

Tens of thousands of children fleeing desperate conditions have entered the United States asking for help. And many more are coming. What kind of welcome is being offered to them? The answer to that question is still largely undetermined. According to Human Rights ... continue reading


Freedom, Choosing and Becoming: Moral Life and Truth Watch

Image of Our Moral Life in Christ.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

What we choose determines who we become. Choosing what is good changes the chooser, empowering him or her to proceed along the pathways of virtue and develop the habitus - or habits- which promote Christian character. The Catechism of the Catholic Church ... continue reading


Pope Francis warns of migrant children falling prey to 'racist and xenophobic attitudes' Watch

Image of Pope Francis is calling for help and concrete solutions tot he plight of migrant children now flooding U.S. borders.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As hundreds of thousands of migrant children from Central and South American continue to flood the United States across the border of Texas, Pope Francis is calling for help and concrete solutions. Speaking at the Mexico's Foreign Relations Secretariat yesterday, ... continue reading


Pope Francis seeks 'urgent intervention' for migrant children flooding U.S. border Watch

Image of The U.S. has deported Honduran children as young as 1-1/2 years old this week. It was the first such flight since President Obama pledged to speed up the process of sending back illegal immigrant minors from Central America.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In response to the thousands of unaccompanied South American children flooding the Texas border, Pope Francis has called for "urgent intervention." The pontiff says the U.S. needs to welcome and protect minors who travel on their own to seek a better life in ... continue reading


Pope Francis prays and appeals for peace in the Holy Land

Image of Pope Francis waving during the Angelus address.

By Elise Harris

Pope Francis asks us to pray for peace. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Following his reflections on the Sunday's Gospel parable of the sower and the seed, Pope Francis called for peace in the Holy Land, asking participants to join him in a moment of silent ... continue reading


Should Catholics go out of their way to help fellow Catholics?

Image of Catholics should help Catholics in every way.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What is Catholic to you? Is Catholic a part of your core identity, is it part of who you are? Are you a Champion of the Faith? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - We call ourselves Catholic, but how often do we live our Catholic identity? Are we lapsed Catholics, ... 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, Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10
1 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:1-9
1 That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 23rd, 2014 Image

St. Bridget of Sweden
July 23: Saint Birgitta was the daughter of Upplandís Lagman, Birger ... 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