Now is the leap from the first mansions to sincere prayer. To turn towards God is already to pray, since prayer is a friendly conversation with God and is nothing more than the movement of grace towards God who is our Father. Prayer requires supernatural dispositions and great patience but do not despair - God wants to supply this to you. God is Love and Love waits to be loved.
Father Marie Eugene breaks down the four types of prayer for us and they are simply explained here below.
St. Teresa of Jesus in the Way of Perfection says the you need nothing more than the Our Father – for all is contained in it. Our Lady prayed it with St. Bernadette as they prayed the Rosary together at Lourdes.
Of course, all vocal prayer must be interior for it to be efficacious. We must unite our hearts and minds to our voices when we pray vocally. St. Teresa says in the Way of Perfection: “In case you should think there is little gain to be derived from practicing vocal prayer perfectly, I must tell you that, while you are repeating the Paternoster or some other vocal prayer, it is quite possible for the Lord to grant you perfect contemplation.”
Like the saints, we should go to daily Mass if possible or as often as we can. We can live by the liturgical calendar by prayer The Office of Hours, The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by dating our letters with the feast days, and by participating in Novenas in preparation for the important dates in the liturgical year with extra prayer and fasting. An example of St. Teresa of Jesus's love is that in order to thank St. Joseph, St. Teresa used to try to keep his feast with the greatest possible solemnity.
Simply reading is not meditated reading. Meditated reading must be interrupted for deeper reflections in the presence of God, to express to Him our love, to enter into conversation with Him. If the reading should distract from God by stimulating the thoughts and affections excessively, then it fails in its purpose, as spiritual reading has only one purpose, the facilitating of mental prayer. St. Teresa pointed out that she herself spent over fourteen years without ever being able to meditate except while reading. She says that for those years she would not dare to begin prayer without a book. We too, should feel the same. The world takes us in its grip and we find it difficult to draw our minds to God. A book can place us there and at times can even stir our emotions with great ease.
There are books of these well-arranged meditations that provide models adapted to the needs of various souls. Some of the saints who have mastered spiritual exercises have given us these: St. Teresa, St. Ignatius, St. Francis de Sales are just a few.
Father Marie Eugene ends this chapter reminding us that mental prayer is an exchange of friendship with God. Always remember that when you go to prayer – God called you first! All good inspirations come from the Holy Spirit – He wants you! He calls you! He loves you! In the Interior Castle, St. Teresa states: “I only want you to be warned that, if you would progress a long way on this road and ascend to the Mansions of your desires, the important thing is not to think much, but to love much!” St. Teresa in her writings feared that souls would get caught up in intellectual activity and not orientate themselves to God sufficiently – the source of living water!
May we pray to Our Lady – Spouse of the Holy Spirit to give us love which with to love the God of Love!
Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene