Sunday 15 May 2022

Silent Prayer - Father Andrzej Muszala - CTS Devotions

Silent Prayer
Father Andrzej Muszala
Catholic Truth Society
CTS Booklet D810

I picked up a physical copy of this book a while ago. But Because of my dual form of Dyslexia I really prefer eBooks. So it has sat for several months. I picked it up because I had read Prayer in Action by the same author and loved it. I also tracked down a copy of this in the original Polish for my parish priest who is a Polish Pallottine Father, as a gift for the 27th Anniversary of his ordination. Both of these volumes by Father Andrzej are wonderful reads. These two appear to be the only books available by Father Andrzej in English, but there appears to be several other titles available in Polish.

Over the last several years, I have read over 275 volumes from the Catholic Turth Society, the CTS. In fact to date I have read 287 specific titles and many of them more than once. I have read books from many series. And many authors. This is one of only a few in translation. This is an excellent volume and it leaves me wishing more of Father Andrzej Muszala’s works were available in English.   

The description of the booklet is:

“Silent prayer teaches us how to leave everything behind and spend time with God, so as to deepen our Christian faith.

We are not accustomed to spending time with God, in silence, without any specific words or intentions. We feel more comfortable saying something! We feel we must tell him about the Church's needs, the world's needs, our own needs. Then we feel we have achieved something; we have not wasted our time. Silent prayer obliges us to leave all that to the Almighty. To enter into silent prayer we must leave everything behind. Learning how to pray is possible and a way of living that supports a deep and happy Christian faith.”

And the chapters in the book are:

Part One: What is silent prayer? 
     1. The beginning of prayer 
     2. How to pray 
     3. God's presence 
     4. Spiritual reading 
     5. Closing your eyes 
     6. Looking at Jesus 
Part Two: The act of faith 
     7. The act of faith in silent prayer
     8. The act of faith - the example of the woman who had a flow of blood
     9. The act of faith - confidence 
     10. The act of faith - darkness 
     11. God is touched by the act of faith 
     12. Trust: The act of faith in everyday life 

The English Edition was published late in 2016, the Polish edition was published early in 2015, and has an Imprimatur. This book is an excellent read. I read it over a few sittings. The book is easy to read, very applicable, but could take a lifetime to master. I highlighted several passages my first time through. Some of them are:

“To pray is not to fly off to the skies or to other galaxies, embellishing or reinventing ourselves; it is to plumb the deepest caverns of who and where we are.”

“Father Andrzej Muszala's little book, Silent Prayer, is an excellent guide to the first steps of the journey of prayer. It starts with the chapter, "The beginning of prayer", not because it is concerned only with the beginning of prayer but because prayer is a never-ending beginning, and the "first steps" are what keep us on the right way.”

“We are reminded that the act of faith is the essential act of prayer. Everything else is a means; everything else is secondary and accidental. The act of faith may be dark but it is also certain and its certitude finds rest and comfort in God's promises. God is always touched by the act of faith and this is the fundamental certitude of prayer. This certitude should be translated in an attitude of hope and trust in our everyday life and work. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rm 8:31). This certitude is the source of great joy.”

“St Teresa of Avila was able to describe prayer as nothing other than a close sharing between friends: "being on terms of friendship with God, with Him Who, we know, loves us" (The Life, VIII, 7). For her, words, however beautifully crafted, were not necessary.”

“To enter into silent prayer we must leave everything behind. All must be still and silent so that we can prepare to open our soul for the presence and the action of the Holy Trinity. We have to give God the time to act upon us and transform us into His own image which is what He wishes to do.”

“How to Pray:
The First Nothing: Standing in the presence of God … 
The Second Nothing: Spiritual reading … 
The Third Nothing: Closing your eyes … 
The Fourth Nothing: Looking at Jesus … 
The Fifth Nothing: Making your act of faith …”

“God is here! God lives in everyone. He even lives in the person who does not believe in Him. This is where silent prayer truly starts. God is within, in each of us, in the depths of our souls. This is where we should seek Him, not somewhere else.”

“When you close your eyes and concentrate, you will find His secret presence. God is there, inside you, full of His life. It is very hard to feel Him because He is in the very centre of your soul where neither your physical nor mystical senses can reach. But nevertheless that is the truth!”

“Prayer, especially interior prayer, acts as a link between you and God. This is the prayer which enables you to seek God and strive towards meeting Him, touching
Him with faith and love in order to possess Him and to be submerged in Him.”

“The biggest misunderstanding is the thought that your distractions are a sign that you are unable to pray. What does it mean if you have a hundred and one distractions during your half hour of prayer? It means that each time you turn your back on your distractions, you are turning to God. It means that a hundred and one times, you say "NO" to yourself and "YES" to God; a hundred and one times, you act with unselfish love, helping "the old self" to die in order for the "new self" to be born in you.
(D. Tarkington, Prophet: The Inner Meaning of Prayer)”

“Everything depends on one thing: PERSEVERANCE!”

“This is silent prayer. This is touching God by the act of faith which connects man's soul with God.”

“Faith has a second feature. According to St John of the Cross, faith is dark.
Faith can be compared to midnight.”

“If you spend at least half an hour every day on your journey to God and connect with Him through your faith, your prayer lasts for the rest of the day. It will slowly change your way of life - your conversations, thoughts, and deeds.”

The volume ends with Charles de Foucauld’s prayer of abandonment to divine providence:

I abandon myself into Your hands;
Do with me what You will.
For whatever You may do I thank You.
I am ready for all,
I accept all.
Let only your will to be done in me,
as in all Your creatures.
I wish no more than this, 0 Lord.
Into Your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart.
For I love you, my God,
And so need to give myself
To surrender myself
into Your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

There is not a single line of text in the book after the prayer. We are informed that Fr Andrzej Muszala is a priest of Krakow diocese, and a professor of bioethics and medical ethics. I loved this book, I just wish there was an eBook option so I could have it on my device all the time beside the companion volume. I have read several books that are part of the CTS Devotions and Prayer Series and the two by Father Andrzej Muszala are among my favourites. This is a volume I can easily recommend. It will bless all who read it with an open mind, and seeing the spirit’s help. A great resource for all Christians!

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.

For reviews of other books in the CTS Devotions series click here.

Books by Father Andrzej Muszala in English:

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