Filtering by Category: prayer

prayer at the beginning of mass

Lord, we have come together in your house. Let us recognize by more than outward signs that we are in your dwelling place.

Let us, I pray, feel your Spirit, so intensely that we kneel before you already transformed, ready to receive everything you want to show us, ready to leave behind everything that is incompatible with you.

And just as we shut the door behind us when we entered your sanctuary, let us forget what belongs only to this world, what tends to distract our thoughts from you, everything that does not pertain to your love and that is incapable of serving it.

For you see how weak and imperfect we are, what an effort it was finally to make up our minds to come to you today, how much we make of every hindrance, how eager we are to take other paths than yours.

So take away, Lord, our hard heart. Let us nourish pure thoughts, let us know deep in our spirit that we are in your house, that we are awaiting you, that you have promised and given not only your presence before us but also your indwelling in us.

Bless this hour. Yet bless it not only for us but for all who spend it here with us. For the priest who is celebrating, for all priests who are celebrating Mass around the world today, and for all those who are prevented from celebrating.

Bless it for all believers, for the whole communion of saints. Bless it, too, for all who are on their way to you, who have not yet received the gift of faith, for those who perhaps burn in expectation of the moment when they may at last appear before you.

Bless it in our lands, bless it in the missions, bless it wherever men are, and bless it so that they may bear fruit, that, standing before you free from ourselves, we may look upon no one but you.

That we may at last follow the path that leads away from us toward you. That during this hour we may not turn our minds to all sorts of things that have nothing to do with you, but may prayer for what you point out to us; with an open spirit, because you open your Spirit to us, with a humble heart, because you wish to dwell in such hearts, with a loving soul, because you are love itself. Bless, open, grant us love. Amen.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers. 13-15.

prayer in the morning

Father in Heaven, you divided day from night so that both might become a reminder and a joy for us: a reminder to think of you, a joy that we can serve you in any way.

So let this day that is just breaking also belong to you. Let it be a day of your Church, a day of your children.

It is still entirely fresh, and it is as if anything might yet be formed from it. And we know that it is your property, for you have created it, and that in obedience to you we should make of it a day of election, a space wherein you could be at home at any and every instant, a space that is filled by you, but in which you also demand of us the service of the task that you assign us.

Let us be pure, give us the gift of a good disposition, let us do cheerfully whatever our service requries.

You divided day from night, but do not let us constantly divide what we do with willing ease from what appears toilsome to us. Let us rather accept with joyful thanks everything the day brings as coming form your hand, let us enter into the spirit of it, let us make of it what you intended.

Let us be clear of hearing as the day is clear, transparent to you. And if the day has turbid and unclear moments,we shall know that these are the unclarities of our unsure nature,of our ignorance, which finds decision hard.

You not only divided, from the very beginning you decided: let us also enter with ecision into our task and decided just as you expect us to. You divided day from night for love, let it take root in us, let us bring together with your Son every day's work before you so that it may be performed out of your Spirit. Amen.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, 11-12.

prayer is not monologue

For Adrienne, prayer is not monologue or even dialogue:

It is impossible for you to pray without also being right with God; that would be like carrying on a conversation while refusing to give your partner a chance to answer; a monologue, however, is never a prayer. (Lumina, p. 54-55)

Yes, prayer could never be a monologue of my words alone toward God. Even petitionary prayer should be seen as the Spirit groaning within us (Romans 8:26). Prayer must be more than monologue otherwise it is only self-talk as good as that could be. Prayer is blissful silence as one is encountered by the Word.

For Adrienne, prayer is not even a dialogue:

A prayer never becomes a dialogue; for either I speak and so do not listen, or God speaks and I am allowed to fall dumb and remain blissfully silent. And in fact, the way every Word of God appears—not sounds—is designed to make us blissful, even when it demands too much from us and uses us up. (Luminia, p. 55)

Yes, prayer could never be dialogue of my words in mêlée with God’s Word. Prayer is God’s word delivered to us, speaking through us. Prayer makes possible, Paul’s statement, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20). As if to say, it is no longer I who pray, but the Word who prays in me.

adrienne for today

Today is the forty-fifth anniversary of the death of Adrienne von Speyr. In remembrance of her, I've written a piece that has appeared in two of my favorite blogs. The first is Land of Compassion (english) and the second is Terre de Compassion (french).

I hope you will take some time today to think of the great gift given to us in Adrienne.

Maybe you could pray this novena or this prayer below.

Prayer for Constancy

Lord our God, give your children ready perseverance in loving you. You know all too well what we are like: moved by your goodness when it comes to us unexpectedly, dismayed by your severity when it reveals itself to us with its demands.

When we live through happy or hard days, we think of you, seeing what comes from you; but in the monotony of every day we grow lukewarm, we forget you, we keep you far from our thoughts and from our action, as if we needed you only on the eventful days, as if we wanted to have you at our disposal

We beg you, change this, let us turn back while there is time, act decisively, tear out our tepidity, replace it with fire or cold or with both at once, only, allow your Spirit to blow in us.

Destroy everything that is not yours, And let us think no thought whose center is not you, so that by this destruction we are compelled to a livelier love.

We do not demand of this love that it be painful or delightful, only that it be yours, forevermore.

Lord, give us the grace to offer you again and again what you have given us. Only in this way will we unprofitable servants not remain fruitless.

Bless your love in us, so that it may yield the fruits that you desire. Amen.

May Adrienne pray for us

why the jesuits love adrienne

Here’s how I see it. When you read Adrienne von Speyr, you will be lead sooner or later to Ignatius of Loyola. When you read Ignatius and you are looking for living this contemplative action today, you might be lead sooner or later to Adrienne.

The blessings of this website is that you contact me. And many of you are Jesuit, either spiritually or actually.

Rev. Raymond Gawronski, S.J.

I love this because a Jesuit, Rev. Raymond Gawronski, S.J., introduced me to Adrienne. He was my dissertation director while I was at Marquette University and is now the director of spiritual formation at the St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, CO. You might recongize him from this DVD series on the Spiritual Exercises.

What I am seeing (anecdotally) is that Jesuit scholastics are introducing each other to Adrienne. And here’s the important point, she is helping them to be more Ignatian!

In her writings, we learn contemplative action grounded in scripture and raised high by the theology of prayer and the saints. May she continue to guide the Jesuits into ever deeper contemplation and action.

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Ignatius taught Adrienne this prayer:

CORPUS CHRISTI, adoro te tribus sub tuis formis,
Sub forma divina, simili deo patri,
Sub forma hominis, sacrificii et crucis,
Sub forma hostiae rotundæ, sine principio et fine.

Ubi es, est amor sempiternus,
Omni tanges quæ creavit pater,
Omnia quæ passus est filius,
Omni quæ vivificat spiritus.

Amorem tui cum gratia mihi dones, 
ac dives sum satis 
nec quidquam ultra posco.
Amen.

(from With God and With Men: Prayers, trans. Adrian Walker [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995], p. 50)

My translation:

BODY OF CHRIST, I adore you under your three forms,
under the form of God, equal to God the Father,
under the form of man, of sacrifice and of the Cross,
under the form of the round Host, without beginning or end.

Wherever you are, is love eternal,
all things that the Father created, 
all that the Son suffered,
all that the Spirit vivifies.

Give me your love with grace,
then I am rich enough
and wish for nothing further. 
Amen.

how to read the book of all saints

Last year, the publication of the Book of All Saints in English caused quite a lot of excitement. I received many emails from people asking for more information about this fascinating, bewildering book. Here is a collection of advice that I have given over the past year on how to read Adrienne von Speyr’s Book of All Saints.
  • Resist the tendency to read this as a reference book on your favorite saints. Often you will look them up to confirm or deny Adrienne’s views of your favorite saints’ spirituality. This book, however, is about prayer. Or better it teaches you how to pray like all the saints. When (not if) you read the whole book, you will discover you have learned a lot about deep, contemplative prayer. Rather than learning a lot about a lot of saints, you will find that above all you have learned to pray deeply and intimately. In many ways, I think we are incapable of proving or disproving Adrienne’s judgments of a particular saint’s prayer. What we read are her teachings about the communion of saints as a deep, multi-layered communion of prayer.

 

  • The Book of All Saints is the first book of Adrienne’s posthumous works. When Adrienne dictated these prayer portraits, it was not meant to be a collected volume. These are spiritual sketches of saints composed over a long period of time. Von Balthasar only chose to collect and publish them after Adrienne’s death at least as far as I can tell. Because of this, the vignettes on a saint’s prayer are sometimes loosely related to each other and therefore are somewhat episodic.

 

  • While Adrienne strives for objectivity in her mysticism so as to disappear in God’s will, she is nonetheless still a subjective interpreter. These are not definitive portraits of a saint’s prayer life. By God’s grace she was invited in as a guest to observe the saint in prayer. She participates imperfectly in God’s vision of the saint in prayer. She articulates imperfectly the status and character of the saint in prayer. I am amazed, stunned, enthralled, repelled, and always drawn in deeper by these prayer portraits. Above all, because of this book, I have learned much about prayer.

 

  • My last advise: once you’ve read it, read it again. New and substantial insights will emerge. I think this could be a classic of twentieth-century Catholic spirituality. 
As always, I am humbled by the good conversations we have. I look forward to more. Please leave a comment or find my email on my about page. Keep reading Adrienne and let others know what you think. I’ve been struck, how about you?

lumina and new lumina

Lumina and New LuminaA new translation is available of the small but valuable work, Lumina und Neue Lumina.  Published by Ignatius Press, this book, Lumina and New Lumina, which is a collection of aphorisms, really contemplative 'insights', should be graciously welcome in the English-speaking world.

"To get or to understand people always means: to look at them from God's angle, from the point of view communicated through Him.  It is not a science but a pure grace."

"Christian hope is a vessel in which faith lives; love carries it."

"Only when you are familiar with silence have you learned to speak; what you have to say can ripen only in silence."

a new year of graces

Happy New Year!  In celebration, here is an excerpt from a prayer of Adrienne von Speyr's called "Thanksgiving after Confessing at the End of the Year": 

Lord, ... we should have sought you in all things, we should have relished the year's joys as coming from you, we ought to have taken on ourselves its sufferings as willed or permitted by you, we ought to have followed every path you opened to us.

And yet there is no need to look back dolefully on this year, for like every year it was a year of your grace.  A year in which you helped us, ceaselessly encouraged us, and showered us with joys and an endless number of good gifts. ...

Therefore, we thank you for having done everything for us exactly as we needed, we thank the Father, who let you become man for our sake we thank the Holy Spirit, whose constant effort has been to realize your mission in our existence.

Amen.

 

learning about prayer

Here is a quotation on learning about prayer:

"How can you make people understand that they are supposed to grow into prayer?--It is just like with a foreign language: you teach the pupil word by word the language of God and the saints.  And all at once they speak this language fluently.  But this is possible only when you teach them the rudiments very clearly.  In an I-thou relationship.  Then the pupil also hears how the teacher speaks the language with others, he listens and acquires fluency.  The teacher can be God himself or the Mother of God or a priest.  But it does not absolutely have to be a human being.  God can open up heaven to a child (Adrienne von Speyr, With God and with Men: Prayers, 118)."

 

Adrienne von Speyr's own mystical, contemplative prayer began as a child and I think that this statement on the need for learning about prayer reflects some of her own interpretation about how she was taken into mystical prayer.  Hers was not an ascetical, acquired mysticism, rather she was introduced to it through a sheer gift of God and through her ascent at an early age.