Blessings, my friends in Christ.
Just a word or two about this new section we are entering in our book as we approach the final chapters. If you are like me, you may have lost track of what the first two parts were entitled. Our slow journey through the text makes such forgetfulness pardonable.
Part One was all about the nature of prayer: what it is, why it is necessary, the different types of prayer – and even a section on “beyond prayer”.
In Part Two, we explored aspects of the interior activity of prayer – with purification, contrition, perseverance, struggle, silence and tears among our topics.
Now, in Part Three, a much shorter part, Fr. Matta leads us into deeper understanding of the impediments to prayer. He entitles the primary impediments: spiritual aridity, spiritual languor and loss of purpose. God willing, I will soon be posting on these topics.
However, I wanted to share just a thought or two on the introduction before we move on.
It occurs to me that, while having these explanations may be very beneficial to us, in our experience, “impediments” may not appear to have separate, easily discernible causes.
Is my problem simply that I am a beginner? Perhaps, if my prayer life is limping along, it is because I don’t know how to go about praying or I have inconsistent habits, distractions and so on, that I don’t know how to manage.
Perhaps, before going further, I need to spend more time with Parts One and Two. Even though I have been posting on this book for nearly a year now, that does not mean, of course, that everything covered is now “under my belt” so to speak.
Fr. Matta also makes the very good point about the variety of physical or mental issues that may hamper us in prayer. Stress, fatigue, pain and digestive problems are just a few of the many potential obstacles we encounter, chronically or episodically, in the course of our lives of prayer.
Not recognizing and treating these conditions can lead us to feel that we are failing at prayer when, in reality, we may need treatment. Or if no treatment is available, a certain inner patience with our limitation.
If someone with a broken leg tries to proceed as though his leg is not broken, things will very quickly get worse. And so it is with our personal obstacles to prayer.
Failure to recognize or accept these troubles, may lead us to berate or accuse ourselves of sin, laziness, etc. which is not only not beneficial but potentially harmful.
And this brings us back, of course, to the great value in having a spiritual father/mother/director that can help us discern, lest we draw wrong conclusions and become confused.
Whether we have such a person in our lives or not, it is, I believe, always valuable to pray about our problems with prayer.
For, in truth, none of us can pray without the help of God.
May He be ever at our side and in our hearts as we limp along…