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Praying to Find Rest and Consolation

mark danisEven a cursory review of the daily news can lead one to a sense of anxiety or fear or even despair.  These are challenging times.  It is important to know how to respond in difficult circumstances.  The best models we have for this response are always the Saints. In the most difficult times of our lives it is very important for us to take some time and allow our prayer life to provide us rest and consolation.

This is what John the Beloved Apostle did even as he struggled to respond to the most difficult news he had ever heard.  On the evening of the last supper, when our Lord told the Apostles what was about to happen, John could have chosen to react in a number of ways.

He could have fallen victim to fear and anxiety, he could have decided to run to the leaders of Israel and beg for them to spare our Lord, he could have stood on a street corner bearing a sign which described the injustice of it all – St. John the Beloved did none of these things.

He chose instead to simply rest in the Bosom of the Lord. “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23)

Of course, scripture tells us that this is also what our Lord does. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18)

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi was an Italian Carmelite Mystic who lived from the mid 1500’s to the early 1600’s.  She is reported to have had a number of conversations, while in ecstasy, with God the Father and the Lord Jesus.

During one of these conversations God the Father revealed to her the nature of the relationship between the Father and the Son.  The Father shared that the Son actually rests within the Father’s bosom, and the Son Contemplates the Father. This might seem strange on first hearing it.  It is helpful to have some sense of what this word Contemplation means: “to admire something and think about it.”

Of course it is not difficult to imagine admiring the image we may have created of God the Father, but do we spend enough time just thinking about God, about His beauty, His nature, His Blessings?

God the Father told Mary Magdalene de Pazzi that when Jesus, His Son contemplated the Father He looked at Him with an admiring contemplation.  He said that this was a “contemplation of admiration, of love, of God’s purity, of the Father’s generosity, of His mercy, of His justice, of His goodness, of His wisdom, of might, of truth of union and of eternity.”

Do we ever think about prayer this way, as a simple contemplation, a simple look, a simple resting in the Bosom of the Father.  Any one of these attributes of God the Father would be worthy of a great deal of our admiration and worth thinking about for some time.

Of course these attributes were true of Jesus as well, but in order to pray effectively or rest in the Bosom of our Lord, we do not have to even think about these aspects of God’s nature.

The model of prayer John the Beloved provides us is the same one that our Lord Himself employed, simply to rest in the Bosom of the Father.

The next time you set aside time for prayer, see if you can just try resting in the Bosom of the Lord, or contemplating the Love which God the Father has for us.  A good way to do this is to simply rest in the bosom of the Lord, try to practice silence, try to be so silent in fact that you can hear the Lord’s heartbeat. -Mark Danis

Host of Carmelite Conversations
Mondays  7-8pm Eastern

January 14, 2013

In this program Mark and Frances begin a series on the writings of Carmelite Priest and scholar Ernest Larkin. Father Larkin was a highly respected scholar in the field of contemplative prayer, the interior life, and most especially Carmelite spirituality. This particular conversation is a review of a very important article Fr. Larkin wrote about St. Teresa of Avila on prayer. The article loosely follows St. Teresa’s model of the Interior Castles, perhaps her greatest work. But here Fr. Larkin provides new insights and perspectives on how these various stages of development in prayer may be experienced, and what one can do to prepare themselves for this work that ultimately God must do in us.