Recently I’ve been participating in a weekly study group centered around Ralph Martin’s wonderful book, The Fulfillment of All Desire. I love this book: he breaks down the writing of many of the greatest Doctors of the Church (St. Augustine, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales and St. Therese of Lisieux), with commentary to help make them all approachable and easy to understand. He also has a way of bringing out their human side: I’m enjoying St. Teresa of Avila’s droll, dry wit, for example, which comes across despite centuries of separation, not to mention translations. And Francis de Sales is such a gentle, supportive father–I just love him. I could go on, and may do so in future posts.
This week, we concentrated on the subject of prayer: the chapters “The Importance of Prayer,” and “Growing in Prayer” from the book, and the accompanying video for the former from EWTN. We discussed methods of prayer and when and how to find time to pray, etc., etc. But it was something small and simple that most stood out for me: this little paragraph from St. Teresa of Avila, to be exact.
The soul can place itself in the presence of Christ and grow accustomed to being inflamed with love for His sacred humanity. It can keep Him ever present and speak with Him, asking for its needs and complaining of its labors, being glad with Him in its enjoyments and not forgetting Him because of them, trying to speak to Him, not through written prayers but with words that confirm to its desires and needs. This is an excellent way of making progress, and in a very short time. I consider that soul advanced who strives to remain in this precious company, and to profit very much by it, and who truly comes to love this Lord to whom we owe so much.
What a great little summary of “praying always,” growing in the awareness of God’s presence in all facets of our lives!
In my own life, I’ll often pray when I’m in the car, on the way to gatherings or to work: I ask for help with patience when I get there, ask that I may be charitable with those I’ll be spending time with. If I’m headed out to play music with friends, sometimes I’ll ask to play well if it’s God’s will, or to accept mistakes with humility if I’m gonna have an off night. But…”being glad with Him in its enjoyments and not forgetting Him because of them?” That’s taking things to another level.
I guess I forget sometimes that it isn’t as though He drops me off at the door. Jesus is with me even in the midst of mundane chores (and I’m better off complaining to him than I am whining to the dog or to coworkers), and He’s also beside me when I’m in the midst of chaos at a family party or a jam.
May I become a more attentive companion!