” In mental prayer the soul is purified from its sins, nourished with charity, confirmed in faith, and strengthened in hope; the mind expands, the affections dilate, the heart is purified, truth becomes evident; temptation is conquered, sadness dispelled; the senses are renovated; the drooping powers revive; tepidity ceases; the rust of vices disappears. Our of mental prayer issue forth, like saving sparks, those desires of heaven which the soul conceives when inflamed with the fire of divine love. Sublime is the excellence of mental prayer, great are its privileges; to mental prayer heaven is opened; to mental prayer heavenly secrets are manifested and the ear of God is ever attentive”
-St. Peter of Alcantara-
Many seek great insight, many are not equal to the task. Let words inflame you and bind you, but not blind you or merely console you. The task is real, arduous, demanding, and active. The promises are great, but heed the warnings and pray for a guide.
Above all begin with a consideration of the path of the Cistercian. If he is to become Holy he must obtain to the following:
1. Purity of Conscience: aversion to venial sin
2. Purity of Heart: love of God, freedom from unwarranted attachments.
3. Purity of Mind: control of imagination and thoughts, the banishment of any working of the imagination that endangers the purity of the soul.
4. Purity of Will: doing only what God demands of us.
As we increase in purity, we increase in Holiness. Mental prayer is thus a tool utilized to develop our purity in these areas. Mental prayer primarily aims at the rooting out of vice and the development of virtue, thus making one fit for the vision of God, should God so will this.
That mental prayer consists of various stages, including preparation, meditation and conclusion, with each broken down into various sub stages, with their own mandates, restrictions and pitfalls is a clear reminder of the necessity of a spiritual guide and the necessity of a zealous soul that thirsts for sanctification.
That the development of one’s character and virtue should prove so exacting and demanding, what of it? What does this fact alone imply in our modern world?
Note: “The Ways of Mental Prayer” by Rt. Rev. Dom Vitalis Lehodey may serve as a guide for anyone interested in this topic