Thursday, December 3, 2009
Augustine on Prayer.
Fr. Cliff Ermatinger has compiled a little Q & A book on the practice of prayer according to St. Augustine, one of my favorite people of all time. St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer is, not surprisingly, now on the bookshelf with my favorite basic prayer manuals. Fr. Ermatinger mostly acts as an editor, allowing the great saint to speak in his own words on the most fundamental questions about prayer: What is prayer? Why and when should I pray? How do we pray without ceasing?
Books on prayer usually turn me off. It always seems like we should stop talking about how to pray and just pray. But sometimes someone (usually a Doctor of the Church) writes something down that articulates perfectly what happens when we pray. It makes me want to pray more, pray more deeply.
Here are a few samples for your Advent stillness:
Where should I look for God? "It is difficult to find Christ in a crowd. Your mind needs a certain solitude, for it is only by this type of contemplative solitude that God is seen. A crowd has noise, yet this seeing requires secrecy ... Do not seek Christ in a crowd: He is not like one from among the crowd, for he excels every crowd."
What if I don't feel drawn to prayer? "No man comes unless he is drawn. There are those he draws and there are those he does not draw. Do not even consider why he draws one and why he does not draw another, if you do not want to err. Simply accept it and then understand ... There is no sea so deep as the thoughts of God, who makes evil men to flourish and the good to suffer -- nothing so profound, nothing so deep. And it is upon that deep, in that profundity that every unbelieving soul is wrecked. Do you want to cross over the deep? Then do not move away from the wood of Christ's cross. You shall not sink; just hold tight to Christ."
Is God merciful to all who call on him? "Consider well, bretheren, what good things God gives to sinners -- and then learn what he gives to his servants. To those sinners who blaspheme him every day, he gives sky and the earth, he gives springs, fruit, health, children, wealth, bounty. All these good things God alone can give. If he gives such as this to sinners, what must he have reserved for his faithful ones? No, not the earth, but heaven. But perhaps with 'heaven' I understate it; for he gives himself ... Heaven is beautiful, but even more beautiful is its Maker."
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company, and the reviewer received a free copy of the text in exchange for her opinion. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer.