Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hermit Prayer Life

Prayer is a major function of a Catholic hermit.  The Catechism and also Canon Law are rather brief in the guidelines for the eremitic vocation, but what is set for a hermit's daily life, can be vast in the living out.

Living a life of assiduous prayer, for example, has degrees and levels.  A life of prayer requires growing into the praying, learning to pray in various modes, even unto the admonition of St. Paul to "pray always."  

The word "assiduous" means "showing great care and perseverance."  But a hermit must begin at whatever level he or she is at the onset of living out the vocation once professed, vows made.

General types (and levels) of prayer include:  verbal, mental, meditative and contemplative.  Any and all are pleasing to God.  As St. Teresa of Avila explains, some souls may reach union with God who never progress beyond verbal prayer. Others are given the gift of contemplative prayer in degrees, such as the prayer of quiet, in which the soul is taken out of itself and into God.  This is not effected by forced action or controlled by the person praying.  

However, learning to pray mentally, and then to meditate, helps dispose the soul to be available for contemplation when God chooses.  We are all called to contemplation even if we all do not experience the outer reaches of contemplative prayer. [There are excellent books on prayer.  I recommend the writings of people who experienced the heights of spiritual perfection while on earth and their spiritual directors' writings.]

Lectio divina, the slow and meditative reading of Scripture (and may also include other spiritual reading), is a form of prayer, given the intention and disposition of the soul while reading and meditating upon what is read and the depth of the spiritual content.  The Lord can do much with a desirous soul, and spiritual reading not only of Scripture but of other writings, can lift the mind and heart and soul to lofty heights of conversation with God--wordless and sublime.

Setting intentions prior to any activity is another means of assuring that the thoughts while working, become as prayer.  Consider the Eucharistic prayer in which the angels are asked to take the sacrifice to heaven as a prayer.  There are so many ways in which each moment may become a prayer; it just takes some intentional thought and creative insight into the many ways our bodies, minds, heart and soul can pray--without ceasing.

Today the suggestion came within to begin asking what purpose, role, function the Lord has for me in the Church--not only the current parish which I recently joined but the Church temporal and mystical.  Examples of past activities came to mind as I prayed throughout the day and night, while  remaining open to any answer from God yielding inactive purpose and utilization.

In past years I was shown activities I was to do.  For one, the Virgin Mary one time appeared and instructed me on how to organize a type of soup kitchen which would deliver food to the dwellings of the poor and also the elderly, ill, or people needing a touch of love, temporarily or on-going.  This included single mothers with children who need an uplift by not having to cook one or two days a week.  "Get out there and LOVE, " she intoned.  I did!  

It was miraculous, truly, how successful and how quickly and beautifully it flourished.  But, I was pulled from it, painfully so.  Friends in the Faith continue the soup kitchen to this day.  The Lord had me establish it, get it well on its way, love it, and then detach.  He next showed the hermit vocation, so different from the glow of active works of charity. Within this vocation, He has allowed various tributaries and continues to guide the exploration of its unveiling, the living out, seeking His will.

In years since, it seems the Lord has not willed me to be involved in active ways in parish life.  His will is made known through visions, locutions, dreams and temporal circumstances including guidance from spiritual directors and Christian friends. He wills me to live in more solitude and silence, and pray and suffer for souls and for the Church.  I have made those offerings in the past; but I am praying for guidance anew, living now in different location, in new present moments.

I am testing out if He wills me to be more involved and active in the new parish.  Never hurts to ask the Lord anything!  He will answer, perhaps by a closed or opened door or obstacles unyielding or in new pathways that help reveal His will.  Or it can come in a dream or a deep and peaceful sensing of what He has chosen.  It is important to be very alert and pliable to whatever His answer.  

Even if we are unsure of God's answer it is good to try what we think is His answer.  If not His answer, He will cause some means of confirmation one way or another.  If we are off the mark, we will be plucked from a wrong direction and placed on the path He chooses.  

We might not cooperate right away, but if we continue prayerfully seeking His will, the Holy Spirit will make pliable our own wills to yield to the Lord's.  The Holy Spirit will give us fortitude, courage, in the process of seeking and doing God's will.  We really have nothing to lose and all to gain in our praying, listening, discerning, trying and learning. 

A hermit [and any followers of Christ who desire union with God] is called to pray assiduously.  The praying is not only for the Church, the Body of Christ--parishioners devout or fallen away, and those in Holy Orders and religious life.  Assiduous prayer also includes praying for all souls in world, for the reign of God in situations of injustice, tragedy and division among people.  

Assiduous prayer includes praying with great love and devotion, placing ourselves in the love relationship of child to its Father.  A hermit's prayer (or anyone's) ought include asking for prayers for our own souls and intentions, and to be in prayerful conversation with our guardian angels and holy souls no longer of this earth--those in heaven and not forgetting souls in purgatory.

We must never slack in our prayers.  This may mean we have reminders about us, but mostly it involves a conscientious training of our wills to pray more and more, and in various modes.  Being in conversation with God is prayer.  Praising and thanking Him goes a long way in elevating that conversation.

Even if temporal circumstances change (such as mine have this past year), we adjust prayer life to meet the flow of temporal changes.  Thus, I set intentions prior to work, or if I forget to consciously do so, I note the Holy Spirit brings the prayer subjects to mind either consciously or in faith, subconsciously. Ejaculatory prayer, silent or aloud, breaks forth in praise or supplication.  If worn out, resting becomes a prayer. If the mind needs rest from intensity of thought--music, email, inspirational videos, looking upon nature, or loving hopes and dreams can provide refreshment.

Although I have prayed at various times over the years, asking my role, responsibility and offering to God in this life, praying in times of temporal and spiritual junctures is appropriate.  The Lord never wearies of prayers.  By such prayers for guidance and affirmation of His will, He knows I am desirous and sincere in wanting to love and serve Him and others.  I want to be in His will always.

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