Friday 13 May 2022

Mental Prayer An Easy Method - Father Bertrand Wilberforce O.P. - CTS Devotions and Prayers

Mental Prayer
An Easy Method
Rev. Bertrand Wilberforce O.P.
ISBN 9781860826955
eISBN 9781784694357
CTS Booklet D735

I picked up this volume after reading Thoughts on Prayer by Brother Craig Driscoll; this was one of the other Catholic Truth Society books in the CTS Prayers and Devotions Series highlighted at the end of the book. I believe this is the only volume from Bertrand available from the Catholic Truth Society. This book was first published in 1955 from Newman Press, the first CTS edition was in 1971, with reprints in 1978, 2010 and the eBook version released in 2017. I greatly enjoyed this little booklet. I fell it is one I will return to often. 

The description of this volume is:

“This classic text establishes the importance of prayer in daily life and systematically overcomes all the objections and difficulties people have in trying to establish a meaningful relationship with God through prayer.

At the heart of all prayer is a deeper inner desire for conversion of heart. This classic text by the well-known Dominican, Fr Wilberforce, establishes the importance of prayer in daily life, and systematically overcomes all the objections and difficulties people have in trying to establish a meaningful relationship with God through prayer. The booklet's great strength is the simple and practical steps it invites the reader to follow to reach a point where daily mental prayer becomes an integral and important part of everyday living.”

The chapters and sections in the work are:

What is Mental Prayer?
     The soul speaks to God
     God knows our thoughts
     In spirit and truth
The Importance of Mental Prayer
     God won’t force us
     Living in God’s grace
Is Mental Prayer Easy?
     Difficulties often imaginary
     Quite easy and simple to do
Mental Prayer - Preparation
     Adoration of God present in your soul
     Sorrow for sins preventing union with God
     Ask for light
Mental Prayer - Body of the Prayer
     Meditation and study
     Problems to avoid
     Conversing with God
     Start at the beginning
Approaching God
     Loving repentance
     Petitions and resolutions
     Value of petition
     Ask for graces you need
     Faults and virtues
     Be practical
Mental Prayer - Conclusion
Final Encouragement
     Why is mental prayer so complicated?
     Are all these things to be done in this precise order?
     How long should mental prayer last?
     When is the best time for mental prayer?
     I have no time for mental prayer
     Where should I do mental prayer?
     What book shall I use? 3
     But I become so distracted

This volume begins with these words:

“Prayer, says St Gregory Nazianzen, is conference or conversation with God. St John Chrysostom calls it a discoursing with the Divine Majesty; according to St Augustine it is the raising up of the soul to God. St Francis of Sales describes it as a conversation of the soul with God, by which we speak to God and He to us, by which we aspire to Him, and breathe in Him, and He in return inspires us and breathes on us.”

I highlighted several passages while reading this book, some of them were:

“God knows our secret thoughts more clearly than we can express them, more certainly than we ourselves can know them; and words therefore are not necessary in our intercourse with Him, though often a considerable help to us.”

“Anyone who has a real desire to be saved, and who believes that the opinion of St Alphonsus and all other spiritual teachers - that mortal sin and mental prayer cannot live together, but are mutually destructive - is really true, but must feel a desire to adopt so certain a means of salvation. But many are fainthearted, and dread the little difficulty they feel in beginning a new exercise; and many more lack the courage and self-denial necessary to continue in it after the novelty has worn away, and the yoke of perseverance begins to gall. Blessed are they who courageously persevere, for their salvation is secure!”

“Mental prayer properly understood, will be found to be easy and within the power of all who desire salvation. Of course there are many degrees of prayer, and to pray perfectly is no doubt a matter of great difficulty; but to pray well, and in a way very pleasing to God and very profitable to the soul, is an easy and simple matter. If we remember how many thousands have excelled in mental prayer, though not even able to read, we shall see that this holy exercise cannot require any special power of mind or any degree of culture. St Isidore, a farm labourer, is an example of a man utterly devoid of human learning, but rising, by God’s grace, to the sublimest prayer.

“The real preparation for prayer is a good life, a spirit of recollection enabling a person to live in God’s presence, and the invaluable habit of regular spiritual reading.”

“My God, I believe that You are present with me and within me, and I adore You with all the affection of my soul. Be watchful,” says St Alphonsus, “to make this act with a lively faith, for the remembrance of the presence of God is a great help to keep away distractions. Cardinal Carracciolo, Bishop of Aversa, used to say that distractions are a sign that the soul has not made a lively act of faith.””

“.As soon, therefore, as you feel an impulse to pray, give way to it at once in the best way you can by acts and petitions - in other words, begin your conversation with God on the subject about which you have been thinking.”

“The petitions in the time of mental prayer should be spiritual petitions - that is, for spiritual objects, such as forgiveness of sin, love of God, light to see, and grace to do God’s will.”

I hope those few samples give you a feel for the volume. This is a great little volume it is an excellent read. It is a book I benefited from. And I am certain one that all who read will benefit from. It is one I know I will return to again. I recommend this great resource from the Catholic Truth Society.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

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