Conferences given at the MMP International Clergy Retreats
Fr. Francis Geremia , c.s.
THE HIGHEST FORM OF PRAYER: CONTEMPLATION FOR THOSE CONSECRATED TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY, IN THE MMP.
In the book of the Messages “To the Priests Our Lady’s beloved sons”, we discover that our mother wants each one of us to learn from her how to grow in the highest form of Prayer: Contemplation.
On December 24 – 1984, She told us: “Follow me along the way of incessant prayer, so that it may become a colloquy of love, of trust, and of filial abandonment to the plan of salvation of the Lord our God. This abandonment carried me on the wave of a joyous experience of the presence of my Son, of which I was aware in a most powerful way…My journey toward Bethlehem became nothing but a sweet and motherly bowing down to His Divine wish to come and live among you as a brother. And I spoke to Him in a conversation made up of silence and listening, contemplation and love, adoration and expectation. Thus, unceasing prayer enwrapped the long journey, undertaken in order to reach the hospitable grotto.”
Our Mother tells us: “Follow me”: therefore, we cannot neglect this so clear and explicit invitation.
In this message we practically have all the elements which form the prayer of Contemplation. As Mary just said, it is an “incessant” prayer, a prayer of “abandonment” to the will of God, of “trust”; of a great “desire” for Christ; of “love”, of “silence , of listening, and of adoration”; it is a “joyful and sweet” prayer. The Blessed Mother is telling us that Contemplation is for all, and consequently we “priests” should teach this prayer to the faithful.
In these two conferences I will follow the outlines of a course on “Contemplation” given by the well known author Fr. Thomas Dubay, because I want to demonstrate once again that the messages of Our Blessed Mother “To the Priests our Lady’s beloved sons” are truly from God, and are in complete accordance with the Word of God, the Magisterium, and the life of the Saints. I have also added the quotations from Popes Benedict XVI, and John Paul II.
Vatican II speaks of Contemplation 80 times: the document on the Liturgy says that the priest, “should pray without ceasing” , and it quotes Psalm 25: “My eyes are always fixed on the Lord.” Pope Benedict XVI said: “…After the ‘lectio divina’ which constitutes a real and veritable spiritual journey marked out in stages,…we proceed to “meditatio”. This is a moment of interior reflection in which the soul turns to God and tries to understand what His word is saying to us today. Then comes “oratio”, in which we linger to talk with God directly. Finally, we come to “contemplatio”. This helps us to keep our hearts attentive to the presence of Christ whose word is ‘a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts’ (2Pt 1:9) (Message for the 21st WYD)”
Canon 663 says: “The first and principal duty of all religious is to be the contemplation of things divine and constant union with God in prayer.” As we have heard from our Pope, it is from Holy Scripture, that we will understand that Contemplation is for everyone, not only for the religious!
Holy Scripture and Contemplation
Our Lady herself leads us to the source of our prayer: Holy Scripture. “Let yours be an interior silence, which leads you to listen, with love and faith, to the word of God alone… Let the Gospel of Jesus be the only Word of life which you seek, welcome, love, and live. Let yours, be that interior silence which leads you to Contemplation and prayer. Let your prayer become more intense. Let it be true prayer of the heart, which you make with me and by means of me.” (1/5/93).
We should notice that Our Blessed Mother tells us that it is a prayer “which you make with me, and by means of me”. We know how many times John Paul II and Benedict XVI have spoken and written about this. We quote only a few lines from the Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae: “The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary…(#10) Mary lived with he eyes fixed on Christ, treasuring His every word…Mary sets before the faithful the ‘mysteries’ of her Son, with the desire that the contemplation of those mysteries will release all their saving power.” (#11).
1)According to Holy Scripture, the most important thing is our union with God: “You have been told, o man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: only to do the right, and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) To walk humbly with your God means to live in a continuous contemplation, with the eyes of our soul always fixed on God. Since we are Consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, this walk is made with Her, always holding her hand. “I myself will take you by the hand…With you I am like a mother who is teaching its child to take its first steps.” Psalm 27:4 says: “One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” The house of the Lord is Mary, and for us is her Heart. When we imitate St. John and ‘bring her into our home’, our home becomes the Temple of the Lord. In this regard, Benedict XVI says: “The expression ‘accepit eam in sua’ is singularly compact. It indicates John’s decision to make Mary share in his own life, so as to experience that whoever opens his heart to Mary, is actually accepted by her and becomes her own.” 2)
Scenes of contemplation:
In the following message Mary tells us how Jesus loved to immerse Himself in prayer; to be alone and to enjoy the beautiful scenery around Him: “Everything spoke in harmony, as it were, with the great prayer of my Son Jesus, with His ardent thirst for solitude, with His natural desire of living in the company of the Father.” (24/7/75).
a)Jesus our Master goes alone to pray: “In the morning, long before dawn, He went to a lonely place, to absorb Himself with the Father” (Mc1:35). He wanted to be alone and to be able to immerse Himself in prayer. There are many passages from the Gospel like this one in the fourth part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We add only Mt. 6:6 “When you pray, go to your private room, and when you have shut the door, pray to the Father who is in the secret of that place.” In other words, there are moments when, like Jesus, we must meet the Father alone, and in silence, knowing that He is there waiting for us, and that He loves us. In our Contemplative prayer we relive Jesus’ solitude and prayer. To be able to pray well, we must learn from Him about how to choose the place where we should pray.b) The Gospel speaks more than once about the Contemplative prayer of Mary: “As of Mary, she pondered these things in her Heart” . (Lk 2:19).c)Also Mary of Magdala : “who set down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking.” (Lk 10:39).d) The Apostles with Mary in the Cenacle: “Together they devoted themselves to constant prayer. There were some women in their company, and Mary the Mother of Jesus…” (Act 1:14).3) Our communion with the Father has to grow in depth, if we want to reach the reason of our existence: “Only in God is my soul at rest” (Ps 62:1). “O God, you are my God whom I seek: for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water (Ps 63:1)”. “Look to the Lord, and you will be radiant with joy.” (Ps 34:6).4)Contemplation on earth goes with dark faith: it is also difficult and dry. It seems that it leaves us in darkness. Only in Heaven, prayer will have its fulfillment. We don’t know God yet fully, but “what we shall later be has not yet come to light. We know that, when it comes to light, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 Jn 3:2). St. Paul says: “Eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, what things God has in store for those who love Him.” (1 Cor. 2:9). Contemplation, (as in the beatific vision) will be perfect only in Heaven.
Benedict XVI said: “When one has the grace to live a strong experience of God, it is as if one is living an experience similar to that of the disciples during the Transfiguration: a momentary foretaste of what will constitute the happiness of Paradise. These are usually brief experiences that are sometimes granted by God, especially prior to difficult trials.
No one, however, is permitted to live ‘on Tabor’ while on earth. Indeed, human existence is a journey of faith, and as such, moves ahead more in shadows than in full light, and is no stranger to moments of obscurity, and also of complete darkness. While we are on this earth, our relationship with God takes place more by listening than by seeing; and the same contemplation comes about, so to speak, with closed eyes, thanks to the interior light that is kindled in us by the Word of God.” (Angelus 12/3/06).
Teaching of Our Blessed Mother and of the Saints 1) Our Mother is training us to do the best form of Contemplation. If contemplation is the highest form of prayer, Contemplation of Jesus in the Eucharist, with Mary at our side, is the highest form of contemplation. In fact, we experience how Jesus is close to us both physically and mystically: “You must accustom yourselves to doing everything with Me, when you get up, pray…. and you will always be immersed in an inalterable peace, and you will be led to the highest summit of interior quiet and of contemplation. I lead you also to a habitual intimacy of life, of love, of adoration, of thanksgiving, and of reparation to Jesus present in the Eucharist. With the impetus of the faith which illumines you, with the flame of the love which consumes you, with the strength of those who are sincerely in love, like watchful sentinels, you must go beyond appearances to experience in the soul the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist” (31/3/88).
This passage is a small treatise on prayer for Contemplation. We should be grateful to Our Mother, for these messages trace a luminous path for our journey toward the mountain of God. We have a beautiful confirmation from Benedict XVI: “I am thinking in particular today of priests, in order to emphasize that the secret of their sanctification lies precisely in the Eucharist…The priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist, starting from the very moment in which he celebrates it.” (Angelus 18/9/2005).2)From St. Theresa of Avila on Contemplation:Mental prayer is an intimate sharing between friends, to be alone with Him, who, we know, loves us.Being alone with God, who is the Supreme Alone.You have, sometimes, a felt presence of His being there: sometimes it is very delicate, sometimes it is very strong. (Notice that it is not the conclusion of something you read about: He himself lets you know of His presence, by what He does.)In this great love and faith we tenderly experience Him.It grows from delicate beginnings, to deeper immersion in God.This gentle and loving awareness of Him becomes a deeper absorption.God teaches me everything in a moment…3.) From St. John of the Cross (from Dark Night of the Soul #2)Contemplation is a delightful life of love with God.A secret, peaceful, and loving inflow of God.A loving thirst of God…. – A divine ‘dark’ spiritual life.The fire and wound of this forceful love.The calm and repose in interior quietness.An unintelligible peace. (it is perceived; not sensed; it grows).
In Contemplation you feel the Divine Omnipresence
“God is in His holy Temple: let the whole earth be silent before Him.” (Hb 2:20). “Your presence, O Lord, I seek.”
( Ps 27: 8) However at the same time it is a meeting with the hidden God: it is “a listening to the silent word”.
Isaiah said: “Our God is a hidden God” (45:15). We realize that it is Him, because He is “light” to our steps and “peace” to our soul. Our Blessed Mother is a great teacher on this, as She brings us before the Blessed Sacrament: “Jesus is really present in the Eucharist because He wants us to enter into a continual communion of life with Him. When you go before Him, He hears you; when you confide something to Him, He welcomes into His Heart your every word…Go before the Tabernacle to establish with Jesus a simple and daily rapport of life.” (21/8/’87).
This is prayer of the heart, prayer of contemplation: God Himself enlightens my soul, and makes me aware that He is present and that He loves me. I just take account of this, imitating the Blessed Mother who, deep in her heart, had a prayer of adoration, of thanksgiving, of peace, of silence, and of abandonment. Only this is true prayer.
St. John of the Cross said: “Many people are praying intensely, and don’t know they are praying at all. Others are praying intensely, but their prayer is not existent”. If we know how to read the messages of our Blessed Mother we will never make such a fatal mistake. Now I understand why Don Stefano always insisted that the book of the messages must be taken in its integrity. Unfortunately, too many people have given emphasis to apocalyptic messages, neglecting the more important ones about our spiritual life. Our Blessed Mother is complete in her teaching about our vocation as followers of Christ.
Contemplation is an experience of the indwelling Trinity
1.)It is a waiting and thirsting for God : “As a deer longs for running streams, so my soul longs for God. My soul thirsts for God, the God of life.” (Ps.42:1). This happens especially when we do not feel God close to us when we pray. Although, even the desire and the thirst that we have for God is itself a prayer of contemplation. In fact our desire and our thirst for God are an infused gift from Him; they are caused by the “spring of water” which is close to us, even when we do not see it. Like a deer, who feels to be close to the water even when he has not seen it yet.
3.)With contemplation we begin to love God with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our soul. Here too we need to walk with our Mother: “It is in my Immaculate Heart that your Mother will form you to an even greater and purer love for God…The Spirit of the Father and of the Son begets in you a great thirst for perfect love, and thus your soul is inclined spontaneously to seek the heart of the Mother. I will teach you to love God and your neighbor ever more and more. I will give to your heart my own capacity to love.” (13/1/77). Contemplation helps us to achieve the goal of our existence: to know, to love, to serve God on this earth, to be with Him, one day, in Heaven. For this reason, contemplation is its own end. All our life is geared toward contemplation: to be immersed in God. Vatican II says: “In the Church action is directed toward and subordinated to contemplation.” A person at prayer is a person listening and giving an answer to the question: “What am I doing in this life?” God calls us to a profound communion with himself. In Scripture God never operates in terms of fractions, but he calls us always to fullness, to maturity. When asked: “Which is the greatest commandment?” His answer was: “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, your whole mind, and with all your strength.” Contemplative prayer requires that we have no attachments with an undivided heart, not trying to serve God and mammon. “The seeds fallen among briars are those who hear, but their progress is stifled by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and they do not mature.” (Lc 8-14). There are other obstacles to eliminate if we want to reach contemplation: when we do not accept God’s will in our life, and when we do not make peace with our neighbor. People who are really in love with God give up everything that displeases the Beloved. “I tell you this, for every idle word you speak, you will give an account on judgment day” (Mt12:36). Almost at every message Our Blessed Mother insists on this. So much so, that at the beginning I was saying that She repeats herself. In fact, our true vocation is our union with God (in contemplation) here on earth, and after our death, our beatific vision. For this, She has to insist telling us again and again, what to avoid and what to do. For example, on New Year’s Eve Mary always says what to avoid, and what to do: “Do not pass these hours noisily, or in dissipation, but in silence, in recollection, and in contemplation.” (31/12/92).
3.)Contemplation is a slow, gentle transformation into God himself: “All of us, gazing on the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into His very image by their Lord who is the Spirit.” ( 2 Cor.3:18). As a consequence, this will influence all our prayer life (Holy Mass, the Breviary, the Rosary, etc.). The result of contemplation is to feel that the Lord is always near you. The Blessed Mother takes us by the hand and leads us to the contemplation of Jesus in the Eucharist, so that our soul will be transformed by him little by little: “The presence of Christ in the Eucharist has above all the function of making you grow in an experience of true communion of love with him such that you never again feel yourself alone, because He remains here below to be always with you. And so then, you must go before the tabernacle to gather the fruit of prayer and of the communion of life with Jesus, which develops and matures into your holiness.” (31/12/87). Prayer of contemplation will continue even after our death. Only then we will be able to see the transformation that took place while we were still on earth. Jesus told Martha: “It is Mary who has taken the better part. It is not to be taken from her.” (Lc 10:39), in other words, not even after her death! Benedict XVI said: “The transformation of the bread and the wine into Christ’s Body and Blood, is in fact the principle of the divinization of creation itself…When, in adoration, we look at the consecrated Host, the sign of creation speaks to us. And so, we encounter the greatness of His gift…Through this gaze of adoration, he draws us toward Himself, within His mystery, through which He wants to transform us as He transformed the Host” (Corpus Domini ’06).
Fr. Francis Geremia cs
Consequences that derive from the prayer of Contemplation
In prayer we are to experience God Himself. We come to a living contact with Him. “Look to the Lord that you be radiant with joy.” (Ps 34). A burning stove radiates heat. In prayer, we are to find even on earth an enthralling fulfillment. In the future, the beatific vision will be complete: “ May God be your ‘only’ joy, and He will give you what your heart desires. ” (Ps. 37:4). “ For me, to be near God is my good. ” (Ps.73). Those who pursue God are more happy: even in suffering, they are happy in God. The whole day becomes a continual prayer, an abiding awareness of God, even when working: “ On my bed I think of you. I meditate on you all night long ” (63:7). “ My eyes are always on the Lord ”(25:15). In St. Lc.(18:1) Jesus speaks about the necessity of praying always, and never to loose heart. We will see reality as it actually is: as a mirror of the divine. Paul VI talking about St. Francis said: “He found in creation a shining radiance of divine glory.”
Our Consecration to the Blessed Mother will lead us to a deep prayer life, and to the Prayer of Contemplation. It is the only way to become what God wants us to become : “I am accomplishing the greatest prodigies in the desert in which I find myself. I carry them out in silence, in hiddenness, to transform the souls and the lives of those sons of mine who have entrusted themselves completely to me.” (14/6/80). All this becomes true also in our apostolate, “Let it be I who acts through you. For this, how necessary it is for you to die to yourself.” (21/7/73). The more we are steeped in God, the more we can help others. Von Baldassar said: “He who does not listen to God, has nothing to say to man.” John Paul II wrote: “The divine intimacy with Christ, in the silence of contemplation does not keep us away from our neighbor, but rather, it makes us attentive, and open to the joys and the sorrows of men, and it widens our hearts to the dimensions of the world… Through adoration, the Christian mysteriously contributes to the radical transformation of the world, and of the spreading of the Gospel. Every person who prays to the Savior, carries the entire world along with him and lifts it up to God.” We know that from the examples of the saints such as St. John Vianney. Our Blessed Mother said: “Today I want to sprinkle you all with the exquisite fragrance of purity, of humility, of silence, of prayer, docility, of obedience, and of contemplation. Then, you too will spread the heavenly fragrance of your Immaculate Mother.” (15/8/86). Benedict XVI on his encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est”, quotes the Pope Gregory the Great, where he interprets the vision when the Patriarch Jacob saw in a dream a ladder reaching up to Heaven, on which the Angels of God were ascending and descending…The good pastor must be rooted in Contemplation. Only in this way, will he be able to take upon himself the needs of others and make them his own… (St. Gregory ) also points to the example of Moses, who entered the tabernacle time and time again, remaining in dialogue with God, so that when he emerged, he could be at the service of his people. ‘Within (the tent) he is born aloft through Contemplation, while outside (the tent) he is completely engaged in helping those who suffer. (#7).” The book of the messages repeats this teaching very often.
How do we go about learning to develop a Contemplative prayer life?
Techniques and methods are not the main ingredients for a successful prayer life. Holy Scripture does not say one word about methods of prayer or how to meditate. This is also what the experts on Contemplative prayer say. In fact, prayer is a love affair before anything else. Jesus, in the Gospel, gives us some conditions to prayer: the main ingredient to learn about prayer in to live the Gospel totally, and generously.
1.)We must be living in a loving community, in the family, at work, in the convents, in the Rectory. If we don’t love each other, we don’t have a prayer life: “If you are bringing your offering to the Altar…(Mt.5:23). Our Blessed Mother said: “In these times it is more than ever necessary to live the new commandment given you by Jesus on Holy Thursday evening during the Last Supper: ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ I want to form you in mutual and reciprocal love…Come to me together, therefore, that I may bring you to Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist, awaiting in His silent immolation, really present among you in all the tabernacles of the world.” (11/2/83).
2.)We must solve the problem of noise: a.) Inner noise: our clinging to things, like prestige or pleasures. b.) Exterior noise: the Blessed Mother said: “Live far from noise and commotion, from shouting and the din that to a ever greater degree surrounds you. Maintain your interior quiet in silent colloquy with Jesus and with your heavenly Mother. Take no part in worldly shows…Do not waste time in front of the television, stealing precious moments from prayer and from listening to my word.” (19/3/84). “Let a deep silence surround the great noise of words and of images, which today are filling the whole world. Let the prayer of the heart bring you to a continuous loving dialogue with the Lord Jesus.” (24/12/91). In other words, to create a solitude for ourselves. Contemplation is infused. We must be receptive. God does not force Himself on anyone. He is gentle. “God is well mannered –to use human language- He does not force His voice above other voices.”
3.)To be detached from selfish attachments. It has to go, if we want a deep prayer life. Earlier we quoted from St. Lk the parable of the sowing and the seed: Jesus tells us that worries, riches and pleasures of life choke His presence among us. This is also what Mary wants from us: “A priestly heart must be meek and humble, merciful and sensitive, pure and compassionate, open like a chalice to loving God in an exclusive and total manner, and then, filled with the fullness of divine love, to set all his brothers aflame with inextinguishable charity” (27/3/36).
4.)We have to spend ample time in prayer. Our Blessed Mother speaks about this on nearly at every page of Her book. “Pray, pray, pray, O you souls chosen by me, and prepared so motherly by me. Above all, you, my priests: forsake vain and superfluous things. These are the times of emergency; you must live only with me, in me, and for me.” (1/12/73). “I want you with me in prayer. These present moments are so important and grave that they demand much, very much prayer on the part of My priests. The prayer of My priests is necessary for the salvation of the world.” (20/5/74). Jesus spent ample time to be with the Father. He is our teacher and His message is clear: the Father is Supreme number one. Therefore, communicating with Him is our number one duty. St. Francis Borgia, even before he entered the seminary, got up every morning at 4:00 to pray until 8:00, went to Mass and prayed until 9:30. St. Thomas More –who was married, with children, and Chancellor of England- was praying from 2:00 in the morning till 6:00. In other words, it takes time to reach Contemplative prayer.
5.)The New Testament repeatedly says that there is a close connection between suffering with much love, and growing in our communion with God : “I tell you most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain. But if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.” (Jn 12:24) “No one can be My disciple unless he carries his cross every day.” (Lk.9:23). There is no person who has an advanced prayer life, a deep communion with God, who has not suffered a lot, and suffered well . We must be like Jesus, who offered Himself to the Father as a holocaust for the salvation of others. Our Blessed Mother was very practical when She brought the children of Fatima to a great union with God, by asking them to say “yes”, to so much suffering. The MMP follows the message of Fatima. She asks us: “Do you also want to offer yourselves as victims to the Lord on the altar of my Immaculate Heart, for the salvation of all my poor children? If you accept this request of mine, you must do what I now ask of you: pray ever more and more, especially the Most Holy Rosary. Make frequent hours of adoration and of Eucharistic reparation. Accept with love all the sufferings which the Lord sends you.” (15/9/89).
We should not be worldly, but must have a prayerful life style. We should not put the center of our gravity in this world, but in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: “Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean. Who desires not what is vain.” (Ps.24:3).
St Augustine says: “To pray well we must live well.” All the messages speak about this. We also promise this in the act of Consecration: “We further pledge to bring about in ourselves that interior conversion that will free us of all human attachment to ourselves, our career, our comforts, or to easy compromises with the world so that, like you, we may be available only to do always the will of the Father…(we pledge) a religious and austere manner of life, that shall be a good example to all.”
What about distractions? They are normal. We shouldn’t be discouraged. They will disappear when our prayer is steeped in God. Distractions do not prove that our prayer is a failure. We should be calm, and peacefully we should do what we can to come away from them. A writer said: “The decisive proof of preparation for prayer lies not in the prayer itself, but in the life prior to prayer.”
Difficulties in the prayer of Contemplation:
We have to accept a transitional stage. We know how easy Meditation is. When we begin the prayer of Contemplation, we feel an emptiness, because this prayer is infused by God, and not controlled by us. We should examine ourselves if it is a real emptiness, or an apparent emptiness.
A.)A real emptiness: when we do not live the Gospel fully, when we are lukewarm or mediocre. We remember the message to the Church in Sardis: “I know all about you, how you are reputed to be alive, but are dead. Wake up: revive what little you have left. It is dying fast. I find that the sum of your deeds is less than complete in the sight of my God. Call to mind how you accepted what you heard; keep to it and repent.” (Rev.3). The Blessed Mother has this message: “The conversion which I ask of you is that which Jesus requested of you in the Gospel. Separate yourselves from the wicked ways of evil, of pride, of egoism and of sin….In the first place, offer me ‘interior penance’, which you must exercise in order to attain dominion over yourselves, over your passions and to become truly docile, humble, little, and available for my designs…Then, offer me the silence and daily penance, which arises from you doing well… all your duties… Your smile, serenity, calm, patience, acceptance, and offerings which are true silent penances…I am asking you also for exterior penance, which is always exercised in controlling the passions, in mortifying your senses, especially those of the eyes, of the tongue, of hearing, and of taste…If you walk along the road which I am tracing out for you, the days of your life will then be blessed by the Lord, and will bring you to peace of heart and purity of soul.” (4/3/87).
B.)An Apparent emptiness: it seems that you are empty, but you are doing fine. 1.) In fact, you realize that you cannot do the discursive prayer of Meditation anymore. You don’t feel like doing it anymore, because something better is being given. You will find an attraction to God: sometimes delightful, sometimes a yearning for Him, when you feel very dry. You also will realize that this is not something that you produce. It is given to you.
2.)In the beginning, this presence of God is very delicate, almost not perceptible. In this period, there are many distractions, but you remain faithful in this journey; even when you begin to feel empty of human thoughts, ideas and images. Something much better is feeding you, but you don’t yet see it.
3.)An ill-defined concern about not giving to God enough; in fact, you cannot point your finger on what is holding you back. Remember also, that God works very slowly. Let Him do His work. In the beginning we must remain at peace, even though you don’t feel that you are praying. You, remain faithful to prayer, not because you feel that God is near you, but because you love Him. In other words, we live the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. At the same time, you realize that you are correcting yourself from many imperfections, and you are growing in patience, humility, love for your neighbor, and chastity. We of the MMP understand this even more, because Mary has been forming us for years. Listen to what She said on the first year of the messages: “I will take complete possession of their life. Gently, gently, I will transform it and set it on fire with zeal; I will wipe out from it whatever has been imperfect, and I will make it perfect. I will make them understand how they must be detached from everything, and live only for My Jesus.” (29/7/73). This spiritual growth is easier for those who are Consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for those who listen to their Mother: “Because I call them to be great in love, in holiness, in heroism, they must become the smallest of all…My children, let yourselves be formed and fashioned by me. Without you, or others being aware of it, I will transform you completely; I will give you great gifts of love…” (11/3/74). When we examine ourselves and realize that we have not lost the early zeal for God, we should not worry. St. Theresa of Avila, to someone who had a difficult time in prayer, said: “You please God more now, because your will is with His Majesty.” You grow more when you persevere, even when you don’t feel like praying.
How does prayer of Contemplation begin ?
A person, as soon as he begins his prayer, he will notice soon either the loving attention of God, or that dry yearning for God: it is given, it is there. There is nothing else to do. A sudden joy comes also when, in silence, we are before the Cross or an icon of Jesus and Mary. The tenderness that we feel is already the beginning of prayer of Contemplation. If someone finds it difficult to have inner silence, he can read a passage of Holy Scripture, or a paragraph of the messages of the Blessed Mother, and he will notice the Divine presence. As John Paul II stated, “we can experience a true prayer of contemplation reciting the Holy Rosary.” For us in the MMP, this happens especially during a Cenacle. The Blessed Mother told us many times that She Is Truly Present during a Cenacle: and what is more important, we feel Her presence! In fact, during a Cenacle, we feel so often joy, peace, and spiritual rest. This should be true for every member of the MMP.
We said that Contemplation helps us to achieve the goal of our existence: actually, Contemplation is its own end, to be immersed in God. Ps. 37:4. 7 says: “take delight in the Lord…and wait for Him”. In Heaven, we will always be before the Lord as we will contemplate Him in the beatific vision. We also said that the Blessed Virgin who leads us before the Blessed Sacrament, teaches us to have the same experience: “Priests and faithful of my movement, go often before the tabernacle; live before the tabernacle, pray before the tabernacle… Let yours be a prayer which is united to the heavenly song of the angels and of the saints…” (21/8/87) Finally, we said that prayer of Contemplation done before the Blessed Sacrament is the Highest form of Prayer. In the message that we have just quoted, our Mother also said: “You must go before the Tabernacle to gather the fruits of prayer, and of the communion of life with Jesus which develops and matures into your holiness.” Already in 1979 our Blessed Mother said: “Second my action, the purpose of which is to transform you interiorly, in order to make you all priests according to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus…Jesus in the Eucharist will become the summit of all your prayer…” (14/6/79).