St. Teresa’s Manner of Prayer by Fr. Salvador Ros Garcia OCD

St. Teresa of Avila’s manner of prayer was the happy result of a long failure, 18 years of veritable torture alone the paths of discursive meditation that the spiritual writers of her day recommended. 

Teresa’s manner of prayer is through which “one reaches contemplation more quickly”

Use of books — she never dared to begin prayer without a book, usually the Gospels, as she started out. 

Virtue — More important than the means and the resources are the virtues, for the secret of prayer does not lie in the external elements but in the integrity of the one praying. If prayer is an expression of love, an experience of friendship, this experience must be founded on some basic elements that make the prayer more solid, for “in order than love be true and the friendship endure the wills of the friends must be in accord”. 

Love — prayer in its essence is an actualizing of the love of God, the love of God in practice: “the important thing is not to think much but to love much”. Love doesn’t “consist in great delight but in desiring with strong determination to please God in everything. And the most certain sign that we are loving God is whether we love our neighbour. 

Detachment — Without total surrender, prayer amounts to little more than nice words and inefficacious desires. 

Humility — “to be humble is to walk in truth”. “Since this edifice is built entirely on humility, the closer one comes to God the more progress there must be in this virtue; and if there is no progress in humility, everything is going to be ruined.”

Prayer methods — Teresa says that since prayer is an expression of love, formulas are unfavorable, so leave ample room to the one praying: “and so do that which best stirs you to love”. 

“For mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking the time to be alone with him who we know loves us”.

Recollection — “recollection is a capacity for listening, for placing oneself in a receptive attitude, in an atmosphere of silence and interior calm”.

  • Active — “Represent Christ within me”. Become aware of God’s presence when you pray. 
  • Passive — “Look at how he is looking at you”. Just remain there in his presence looking at him… looking at you. Like two people who love each other and do not feel the need to talk. 

The goal of prayer — to be with God, union with Christ. 

The times for prayer — the true lover loves everywhere and is always thinking of the Beloved, it would be a thing hard to bear if we were able to pray only when off is some corner.

Distractions — consider them an incurable illness, highly normal. Be aware of holy distractions from the Holy Spirit. 

Dryness — this is a very great favour from God because He wants to see the love you have for Him, whether it is present in dryness as well as in delights. 

Efficacy — not just based upon subjective effects but the capacity to transform a life, “the birth always of good works.” 

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