Recent Posts

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Perfection Series VIII Part V Word to the Pressed Remnant!

Raissa Maritain employed two types of contemplative prayer, titles of which Jacques decided to leave in the French rather than try to translate. As these terms provide us with great insights and guidelines into the way to perfection, I shall explain these here.

The first is oraison.

Oraison is not meditation, and belongs to the level of prayer called contemplation. As defined several times on this blog, meditation begins with reflecting on the Life of Christ, and particularly images, events, and persons found in Scripture. Meditation can also flow from the writings of saints.

Oraison does not use images at all. Garrigou-Lagrange would call this the first level of contemplative  or acquired contemplative prayer, the prayer of complete silence, in which a person allows God to come and move the heart, mind, and soul. One may find that contemplating leads to thinking or reflecting or even the beginnings of experiencing the Attributes of God. (see tags) Some theologians call this simple prayer.

One usually does not enter this type of prayer without moving from the lower forms of prayer. (again, see tags)

Raissa went through the Dark Night of the Senses and Spirit, then moving from meditation to orsaison. 

As an orthodox and wise Catholic, she warns against not thinking about Christ in prayer, as one cannot empty one's mind, heart and soul without encountering demonic, deceitful influences. Christ, not ourselves or emptiness, must be the center of prayer.

Christ is always the starting point in prayer for the Catholic.

Oraison moves from meditating on the Incarnation to God as Father the Spirit, and the Trinity, but without images or concepts. Of course, this prayer is a gift to the purified soul, mind and heart.

At this level of prayer, one is not interceding for anyone or even against evil, The experience of God encompasses all those negative things and places them within the larger context of God's Providence and His Divine Will.

The simplicity of this prayer and the zeal for truth merge. Here are her own words.

But I do not wish to remove myself from the Cross. Every day I abandon myself to whatever suffering God wills. And the Cross of Jesus carries me over all the abyss.

Error is like the foam on the waves, it eludes out grasp and keeps reappearing. The soul must not exhaust itself fighting against the foam. Its zeal must be purified and calmed an, by the union with the divine Will, it must gather strength from the depths. And Christ, with all his merits and the merits of all the saints, will do his work deep down below the surface of the waters. And everything that can be saved will be saved.  For our God has chosen to reign in humility , and it really seems as if he wished to show himself only just as must as is necessary in order that the visible Church shall endure to the end and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (7th March 1924)

Too many Catholics are fighting directly in their minds, hearts and souls the errors seen popping up out of the darkness of late. We have been trained in politics in the Church but not in prayer.

The primary way to fight error is spiritual, notes Raissa above.  Let those in Rome fight the battles, but use the power of prayer to engage and overcome evil.

I have learned this the hard way here in Malta. Daily I meet heretics, and those who have grown up in ignorance about the Faith. These people do much damage ministering error. Some are priests.

I cannot put out all the fires, but I can go into silence before Christ and join with His sufferings in order to overcome evil.

I can do that, and you can do that.

Raissa notes that the world has a false optimism.  God permits, with full knowledge, evil.

He is not like a man who regretfully permits what he cannot prevent. He has let men go their own way armed with their freedom, ---win more or less, and perhaps will end by winning everything. God has simply reserved for himself in humanity one Man who is his Son. And this Man-God calls to himself for his own work--which he also has to do with men's freedom--call a small number of men, a handful in every century, to work in his own way. (quoted by Jacques in the Preface, from Brief Writings, 16th February 1935)

It dawned on my why I have been so exhausted here. I was working too hard to correct errors and not praying oraison.  This is what God wants of the remnant--some work, but much more, He wants prayer.

Not intercessory, but that simple prayer of love being in Christ's Presence, even experiencing deep suffering for the sake of the Church, is what causes change. Prayers are not being answered because Catholics are not willing to enter into the state of purity of heart, which allows one to join in the sufferings of Christ. In this state, prayers become efficacious.

In the next post, I shall move on to the second type of prayer as explained in the Journal.

to be continued...