A Talk About Prayer* (Part 10)
...Sometimes it so happens that both the imagination and reason seem to be paralyzed, so that after faithfully trying to begin and go on with the meditation for a little while, the soul finds itself so stupid and dull, as to be able to imagine or reason upon nothing. Let her not be discouraged. Let her make simple acts at the will, however hard and dry they may seem to be. Let her spend the time saying to God such things as, "O my God, I love you. O my God, I offer my mind and body to you; take me. O my God, I give my will up to your will - I submit to this dryness and dullness" --and other such simple, dry acts.
There may by no sensible fervor in them, they may seem to the soul perfectly stupid: yet such acts of the will, done at the same time, with great calmness and interior stillness, without hurry or anxiety, will be of the greatest value to the soul in the eyes of God. You will make more progress during that hour, than in many others when the reason was bright and the affections came gushing forth like a fountain. But perhaps the heart may be so dull that even these simple acts cannot be made without turmoil and disturbance of mind. In that case, remain quietly before God in perfect calmness, submitting yourself to His will in this. Occupy yourself simply in keeping peace.
Another thing is, to make all your spiritual exercises, daily or otherwise, whatever manner of prayer you may be using, with the greatest peace, calmness, and stillness of heart. There is nothing worse in prayer than anxiety, fear, fretfulness, hurry, over eagerness to do it right, or any overstraining of the soul. All should be done with the greatest calmness, stillness, peace, and tranquility possible. The loss of that interior calmness disturbs recollection, distracts the attention, and hinders the workings of the Holy Spirit. So that, if your tranquility is disturbed, you must endeavor by all means to restore it before you go further, even though the whole time of your prayer be occupied in doing this.
Another way of practicing interior prayer is to take some devout book, read a little in it, and then reflect upon what has been read, and make acts of the will and affections upon it. When the mind grows a little weary take the book up again, and read a little more, and so on. The same can be done with any vocal prayer, as explained ¬above. In this way we turn vocal prayer into mental.
When the time for ending the meditation is come, it should not be prolonged because the soul is dissatisfied with its success. That would bring on weariness and scruples. When something happens that the prayer must be curtailed or even omitted, let it be done with liberty and without scruple; only not out of a spirit of sloth or disgust. For the rest of your time, endeavor to keep quietly and gently recollected in God.
* From Spencer's "The Little Grain of Wheat."
From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914