I recently attended a weekend conference on the Spirituality of the Cross, presented by the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit. A presentation called, “Do This in Memory of Me: A Process of Holiness,” by Fr. Vicente Monroy, MSpS, reminded me of how important mental prayer is to the spiritual life of every Christian.
Father Vicente pointed out that we need to focus more on God and not ourselves, and that instead of being obsessed with our own interests, we need to devote more time to growing in holiness. Father said, “A baptized Catholic who is not growing in holiness, is a failed Christian.”
He went on to say that our soul must be fed constantly, and that if a relationship with God is important to us, we will make the time and put in the work necessary to grow spiritually.
“I’m Too Busy / Too Distracted”
If this is your reaction to the idea of mental prayer, the good news is that mental prayer helps you to detach yourself from the world and from distraction in the same way that a good heart-to-heart conversation with your closest confidante helps you to regroup in the face of a crisis.
Wouldn’t you love to have those same type of intimate conversations with God? Wouldn’t you love to rest your head against the chest of Jesus – simply resting in the Lord – the way St. John did when he needed to be consoled and renewed?
Mental prayer takes us beyond our vocal prayer—where we often end up simply saying words instead of engaging in a conversation with Our Lord.
“The Father Is In; No Appointment Necessary”
For those who want to add mental prayer to their spiritual life, Jesus has prepared the way. Jesus set the example. He would withdraw from daily life, activities, and the demands of his ministry to be alone with his Father. Jesus invites us to do the same.
Begin with a loving heart and a reflective mind. Next, engage the three powers of the soul: your memory, your intellect, and your will.
Start small by adjusting your daily schedule by 15-minutes; getting up earlier and going to bed earlier. Mornings tend to be the best time, as they are often much quieter and peaceful.
Choose a spot where you can focus on a crucifix or a piece of sacred art. If you live near a church with a perpetual Adoration Chapel, you can spend your 15-minutes in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Place yourself in God’s presence. Open up your heart & soul, surrendering yourself so you can receive God’s thoughts & promptings.
As you prepare for mental prayer, remember the four C’s:
- Concentrate – Bring along your Bible or the spiritual writings of a saint. This will help to guide you and keep your mind from wandering.
- Consider – As you reflect on what you are reading, consider what God is saying to you through the Scriptural passage or saint’s words. Invite the Holy Spirit to work within you by increasing His fruits & gifts.
- Converse – This is the time to have that heart-to-heart conversation with God. Offer up the day in thanksgiving. Over time, this will lead to your becoming more adept at waiting and listening for God’s response.
- Commit – Make a resolution to grow in a particular virtue or to work on a vice or bad habit that may be hindering your spiritual growth. The resolution can also involve your committing to dealing with a difficult person or trying situation with more patience, understanding, and compassion.
Be Patient with Yourself
Mental prayer is a process much like the Walk to Emmaus where, with burning hearts, we are compelled to walk with Jesus, to listen to him, and finally to recognize him and become fully conscious of his presence within us.
When one has begun to meet Christ daily on this level of friendship, his entire relationship with to God will undergo a revolutionary alteration. Christ will no longer be a historical figure who lived some two thousand years ago. He will, instead, be a living, personal, knowable friend. – Peter Thomas Rohrbach, Conversations with Christ
Mental prayer is to your spiritual life, what an engine is to a car, it is crucial to your being able to fully experience God’s love & wisdom. St. Teresa of Avila called mental prayer the “royal highway to heaven,” a journey which leads us to meditation and eventually into contemplation.
Our Meet the Master mornings of prayer and reflection are an excellent way to introduce you to mental prayer. Consider joining us. We invite you to visit us at our peaceful place in northwest San Antonio.
Robert V. Rodriguez is Public Relations & Outreach Assistant for Pilgrim Center of Hope. He combines a passion for the Catholic faith together with years of professional experience as a TV news journalist, video producer, and PR/marketing specialist. Robert also serves as Chairman for our annual “Master, I Want to See” Catholic Men’s Conference.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.