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Catholic Spiritual Direction

Preparing Our Hearts for the Coming King – Advent Preparation

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I don’t know about you, but I have allowed far too many an Advent season to pass me by with far too little devotion. For decades St. Joseph knocked at my door, offering the opportunity to allow the Messiah to be born anew in my heart. I am sad to say that prior to this past decade of my life as a Catholic, there was far too little room at the Inn of my heart. I am also grateful to say that since becoming Catholic, the room for... Read More

The Kingdom of God is Within You

August 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Connie Rossini, Mental Prayer, Prayer, Silence

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The other day I was feeling disgusted at the depravity of our culture. I am an idealist. I would like the world to be perfect, a place where everyone is striving to follow God. Or if I can’t have that, I’d settle for a world that tolerates people who are striving to follow God and does nothing to hinder their spiritual growth. As we all know, that’s not the world we live in. The “real” world is a fallen... Read More

Carmelite Prayer

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Editor’s Note:  As we approach the Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel this coming week, it is appropriate to consider a Carmelite prayer. Our Lord taught Saint Teresa a simple method of prayer. It is often called mental prayer. “I never knew what it was to get satisfaction and comfort out of prayer,” confesses the Saint, “until the Lord taught me this method – I beg of you to test it.”  The method is this: we... Read More

How can I better prepare for prayer and meditation?

February 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Meditation, Mental Prayer, Prayer

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Dear Father John, in the first part of your book, The Better Part, you mention something about preparing for tomorrow’s meditation the night before. I also heard that mentioned by a priest giving us a talk during a retreat. Can you explain this a little bit more? What do you mean, exactly, and is that something just for religious and priests, or should I be doing it too? It seems to me that your question is being asked in direct... Read More

St. Teresa, should I strive to quiet my mind during prayer?

January 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Meditation, Mental Prayer, Prayer, Teresa of Avila

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Dear Saint Teresa, I have read a number of books on prayer that advocate methods of suppressing, shutting down, or eliminating thinking all together during prayer.  In one centering prayer book it said to “let your thoughts go” and that “thoughts are a normal part of prayer.” Even though the book claimed that it was not teaching to eliminate thoughts, in the end, the method taught that we seek a state where... Read More

Mental Prayer – Spiritual Dictionary

December 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Mental Prayer, Navigating, Prayer, Spiritual Dictionary

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MENTAL PRAYER: The form of prayer in which the sentiments expressed are one’s own and not those of another person, and the expression of these sentiments is mainly, if not entirely, interior and not externalized (e.g. not vocalized).  Mental prayer is accomplished by internal acts of the mind and affections that are a loving and discursive (reflective) consideration of religious truths or some mystery of faith.  In mental... Read More

Meditation – Navigating the Interior Life Spiritual Dictionary

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MEDITATION: Reflective prayer.  It is that form of mental prayer in which the mind, in God’s presence, thinks about God and divine things.  While the affections may also be active, the stress in meditation is on the role of the intellect.  Hence this is also called discursive mental prayer.  The objects of meditation are mainly three: mysteries of faith; a person’s better knowledge of what God wants him or her to... Read More

What is the “Prayer of Simplicity”? (Part I of III)

November 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Contemplation, Fr. Bartunek, Meditation, Mental Prayer, Prayer

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Prayer of Simplicity:  What is it?  (Part I of III) Dear Father John, I’ve heard that the prayer of simplicity is a kind of a bridge from meditation to contemplation. Can you help me to understand what this experience of prayer might be and how one might know that God is leading them down that path? The term “prayer of simplicity” is used differently by different spiritual authors, so there is some danger of confusion... Read More

What is Spiritual Theology?

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What is Spiritual Theology?  There is a lot of diverse opinions on this topic.  Probably the best explanation is provided by Jordan Aumann, O.P., in his well known Spiritual Theology.   To best understand the conversation that he introduces, it is important to note that all the branches of theology, as a disciplined study of sacred doctrine, constitute just one unified science.  This is true even if this single scientific... Read More

An Answer to a Question: What is Contemplation?

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Recently, Dan received an interesting question and after we talked about it, I asked whether I might respond.  Here is the question: “Is the terminology for prayer different from Ignatian to that of Carmelite spirituality? I’m a Secular Carmelite and I just went on an Ignatian retreat. My understanding of contemplation was that it was a complete gift with no activity on our part. However, the director defined it when... Read More

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