Father Timothy Gallagher has some very wise counsel as we commit to daily intimate prayer and learn the framework for meditation, using the Gospels or other classic spiritual writing about the life of Christ, where we employ both our reasoning to reflect and our imagination to be with God in an intimate way each day. He states: “When we meet a close friend and begin to speak, the conversation generally does not begin at the deep point. Most often we greet each other, settle ourselves physically, and speak for some minutes about whatever comes to mind….the initial minutes do not yet contain deep sharing. Without this, however, we would seldom reach that deep communication for which our hearts long…
“St. Ignatius, ever attuned to the human heart, offers wise counsel regarding these initial minutes of prayer…When we begin prayer, we want to be aware of the Lord who is with us. We want to be available to God. We want to be alive to the content of the Word of God. We want to be engaged in that Word. And we want to pray in humble dependence on God’s Grace.”
He then describes a lay person whom he calls Richard. Richard says this about his preparation for intimate prayer: “I usually pray in the morning after I rise. For me this is the best time. I rise, prepare, have a cup of coffee, and then begin my prayer. I begin by standing for a few minutes and thinking of each person of the Blessed Trinity. I think of the Father as close to me, and as saying, ‘You are My beloved son’ (Matt 3:17). Then I imagine Jesus standing at my side, and I think these words: ‘Jesus looking at him, loved him’ (Mark 10:21). I feel that look of love. Then I think of the Holy Spirit dwelling in my heart, as Love, Gift, Spiritual Anointing, or some other title of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I feel the presence of the Divine Persons more than others, but this always helps me know that I am in the Trinity’s presence when I pray, and to know that I am loved. Then I do as St. Ignatius says and express this awareness through a bow or a moment of kneeling. Then I sit. I call to mind the content of my prayer and I begin.”
This initial preparation to settle the mind and focus is critical to the quality of the prayer time, because it is first, and most importantly, about entering into a deeper relationship with God! The God who created us and the universe and who loves us beyond comprehension! Fr. Gallagher emphasizes: “We begin our prayer by considering how God our Lord looks upon us: the Love in the Divine gaze upon us. This moment is brief…but is of the greatest importance for prayer. Through it, our prayer immediately becomes what it most profoundly is–relationship: the human person in relationship with God…What will our way be? The search for these ways (of personally entering into prayer) will richly bless your prayer.”
So, we ask our dear Mother to help us enter into prayer in our own unique way, and certainly by calling upon her specifically and the Grace of the Flame of Love of her Immaculate Heart, she will inspire us through her dear Spouse, the Holy Spirit, to have our own unique, simple way to enter into this prayer, perhaps by holding her hand….since we must be like Elizabeth Kindlemann and St. Therese, the littlest of the infants. We must rely completely upon God to show us, since we do not know how to do anything in the Spiritual life without Him! We always come back to one of our favorite verses in all of Scripture: “Without Me you can do nothing”; and the joy and astonishment of having God’s own Mother to care for us completely: “How is it that the Mother of my God should come to me?”
Therefore, we know that this daily, intimate prayer will happen for us just as God desires, as we simply trust that Jesus through Mary will do it for us, if we but persevere and correspond to the Grace being poured out upon us as the littlest of children…truly infants in our Father’s tender arms. God is drawn precisely to those who trust and know they can do nothing of themselves! Fiat!