Difficulties in Mental Prayerby Fr M Eugene Boylan
THERE is a process used for printing pictures in colour which involves the making of separate blocks for each elementary component colour in the picture. The prints from each of these blocks are superimposed on each other, and if the relative strength of each colour is correct, the result is quite natural. If, however, anyone shade is too weak, then there is a
THERE is a process used for printing pictures in colour which involves the making of separate blocks for each elementary component colour in the picture. The prints from each of these blocks are superimposed on each other, and if the relative strength of each colour is correct, the result is quite natural. If, however, anyone shade is too weak, then there is a corresponding defect in final renedering of the true colour, which might perhaps be corrected by an extra printing of the weak component.Now, the purpose of these pages is something like that of the extra printing. It is not that the standard presentation of mental prayer is defective, but it would seem that the impression of mental prayer that many souls have received needs to be strengthened in certain "colours." That purpose explains the irregular extent of treatment which the reader will notice in these pages. The subject of methodical meditation is only outlined, as there are more than enough excellent books dealing with it in great detail. Besides, the souls for whom this book is primarily intended are those who cannot succeed with the usual methods of meditation, as well as ,those who once were able to meditate but now find that it has become an impossibility to do so. In order to fit this "extra printing" into the general picture of prayer, the whole subject is, at least, outlined; certain phases which seem to need more detailed treatment being dealt with more extensively. But there is another reason why we have insisted on including a discussion of such states of prayer as those which we have called the prayer of faith, and why we beg the reader, whatever may be his position on the ladder of prayer, to read the whole work. Whatever may be said about the general law of the development of prayer when observed and averaged among a large number of different souls, most individuals find that their path of advance is extremely twisted and shows rapid and extensive variations. It would seem therefore that, except perhaps at the very beginning, an acquaintance with the nature and technique of all the different stages of prayer, is not only helpful at any stage, but even necessary at all of them.Despite the title of this work, it is not a scientific analysis or a classified catalogue of the various difficulties that may arise in prayer, with a complete practical solution of each one appended in its proper place. Its purpose is rather to discuss the nature and ways of prayer, not with scientific objectivity, but from the point of view of the individual, looking at it as it appears to him. In this way it is hoped to put the soul in position to deal with most of his own difficulties. Further, the primary purpose is not so much to instruct the reader as to encourage him to press on in prayer, and to induce him to seek further information from the works of more competent pens. That is why the treatment of the subject is so condensed; so much so, that it will need a second reading to extract all we have tried to say. This re-reading is all the more advisable from the fact that the earlier chapters will be more easily understood in light of those which follow. As the point is so well treated in many other works, it is assumed that the reader is aware of the necessity of mental prayer. A Christian who does not pray is like a man who neither thinks nor wills-a mere animal in the spiritual life. The pursuit of perfection is utterly impossible without mental prayer-which, of course, may be made quite unconsciously. In fact, it may be said that if a man does not pray he cannot save his soul.
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This book should not be read in one sitting. It should be used as a textbook on prayer. Even those who simply want to progress in prayer should use this book to help them understand prayer in general and to help situate their own prayer life. Beginners should seek the help of a spiritual advisor to guide their steps in prayer using this book.