Meditation, Prayer, and the Particular Examen, 8/17
Is Mental Prayer Easy?
Any one who has a real desire to be saved, and who believes that the opinion of St. Alphonsus, and all other spiritual teachers, that mortal sin and mental prayer can not live together, but are mutually destructive, is really true, must feel a desire to adopt so certain a means of salvation.
But many are faint-hearted and dread the little difficulty they feel in beginning a new exercise, and many more lack the courage and self-denial necessary to continue in it after the novelty has worn away, and the yoke of perseverance begins to gall. Blessed are they who courageously persevere, for their salvation is secure!
Those who find it difficult to begin, or are tempted to abandon this powerful means of salvation, must pluck up heart, and encourage themselves by remembering that mental prayer requires no learning, no special power of mind, no extraordinary grace, but only a resolute will and a desire to please God.
In fact the hard matter is to convince people how easy and simple a matter mental prayer really is, and how the difficulty is far more imaginary than real. This difficulty often rises from not having grasped the true idea of what is meant by mental prayer, and the false idea of the exercise once formed, is often never corrected, the consequence being that the practice is either abandoned in disgust, or persevered in with extreme repugnance, and little fruit.
One common cause of misunderstanding, perhaps the most common of all, is the custom of calling the whole exercise by the name of one subordinate and not most important part, that is meditation.
From this, the idea arises that it is a prolonged spiritual study, drawn out at length with many divisions and much complicated process, and this notion frightens many good souls, and makes them fall back on vocal prayer alone.
They imagine that the soul must preach a discourse to itself, and they feel no talent for preaching. Many, if they spoke their minds dearly, would say, "I can not meditate, but if I might be allowed to pray during that time instead, I could do very well!"
This is no imaginary case, as anyone who has had any experience will testify, and this miserable misunderstanding that so often holds souls back for years, is partly brought about by defective teach¬ing, but partly also by the name meditation being used, instead of the more comprehensive one of mental prayer...
From "Prayer-Book for Religious"
by Rev. F.X. Lasance
Copyright 1904, 1914