An Outline of a Simple Method of Making Mental Prayer
In order to attend to one’s eternal salvation it is necessary to possess a docile and sensitive heart, one ready to recognize divine inspirations and to follow them. This is what Solomon asked of the Lord: “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong” (1 Kgs 3:9). St. John declares that souls who belong to God listen to his divine inspirations and put them into practice: “ ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me” (Jn 6:45). Our hearts, by their very nature, are stubborn and inclined to follow the desires of the flesh and are opposed to the law of the spirit. However, they are softened by the inflow of God’s grace which comes to them through prayer. In prayer, souls are moved to reflect on the divine goodness and the love which God bears toward them. As a result they are inflamed with love, their hearts are opened, and they become responsive to God’s call.
1. The preparation consists of three acts: of faith, to adore God present here; of humility, to humble ourselves before God and to ask forgiveness; a request for enlightenment, to seek light from God, for the love of Jesus and Mary, in order to spend this period of prayer well. After having said a Hail Mary to Our Lady, we pass to the meditation proper.
2. Several observations need to be made regarding the meditation. First of all, it is good to read something on the subject of meditation, especially something that lends itself to reflection and leads us to recollection. However, when the soul feels itself moved by some devout sentiment, then reading should be left aside and you should occupy yourself with reaping the fruits of meditation.
Meditation has three fruits: affections, prayers, and resolutions. Regarding affections: The soul should occupy the will, but with sweetness and without violence, in making affections toward Jesus and Mary, either of confidence, humility, sorrow, of love, or resignations, of self-offering, and so forth. Prayer enkindles the affections; they inflame the soul and unite it to God: These are the most important fruits of prayer.
Regarding prayers [of petition]: The soul ought to seek from Jesus and Mary the grace which it needs, not only in general, but also in particular, for example, over some vice, the love of God, holy perseverance, and so forth. This way of prayer is most useful, even essential, especially in times when the affections are dry. In such a case there is nothing better than to humble ourselves, to resign ourselves, and to seek the mercy of the Infinite Goodness. Otherwise we run the risk of leaving off prayer because of boredom or of making it with little profit.
Regarding resolutions: Before finishing the prayer, the person ought to make or renew some particular resolution, to overcome some habitual fault or to practice some necessary virtue.
3. The conclusion is made with three brief acts:
(a) to thank Jesus and Mary for the graces received.
(b) to offer to God, by the hands of Jesus and Mary, the acts and resolutions that have been made; and
(c) to ask the Lord, for the love of Jesus and Mary, to give the strength to put the resolutions into action.