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But when we seek to gratify ourselves independently of God, when our self love does not spring from and is not nurtured by the true love of God, then we are guilty of egoism. This means that in scholastic language the formal reason of God's holiness is that He loves infinitely what is worthy of being infinitely loved. Concretely that which He does love is Himself, therefore it is only materially speaking to use a scholastic expression that God is holy because He loves Himself. Too often the word "love" is associated exclusively with the emotional movements that accompany natural affection.

This is a mistake. True love, even though it be natural, is not in the emotions but in the will, and the emotional movements that often accompany it must not be mistaken for it, nor are they necessary for its existence.

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Thomas gives the true notion of love when he says that 'to love is to will that good should befall a person'; "amare est velle bonum. Faith and Hope are virtues belonging to the state of the wayfarer. In our celestial Fatherland, belief will have found its perfection in knowledge, Hope will have passed into possession. But because Charity unites us to God even in this life, its perfection in the next is not something specifically different but is a closer and more intense union with the divinity: "Charity never passeth away.

As regards the Beatific Vision, Christ was never a wayfarer; He enjoyed the sight of God from the moment His human soul sprang into existence. Faith and Hope when He could not have, for He already possessed something more perfect. But His Charity was most intense. Before prayer prepare thy soul: and be not as a man that tempteth God. The science of prayer is the science of the intercourse of man with God. Prayer itself is the unfolding of our mind before the most High and in His presence. It begins by a desire on the part of the soul to put itself in the presence of its Creator; in its development it tends to become an interchange of thought and affection between the soul and God.

This unfolding of our mind before the Almighty is not an idle and egoistic self- analysis. It is the exposition of one's sentiments, needs and aspirations. It is prompted by a desire that God should supply the soul's needs: it is sustained by the firm confidence that God is disposed to give the soul all that the soul is created to obtain from God the Author of its being. The ultimate end of the relationship established between the soul and God in prayer, is, that the soul should, by His help, abandon its own natural earthly way of thinking and willing, and enter into God's views and affections, judge things as God judges them, and therefore conform its thought and desires to the thoughts and desires of God.

This conformity of thought and affection between God and the soul, is effected by the soul's conformity in thoughts and affections with Jesus Christ, the God-Man. There is a significance in the injunction of St.

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Paul: "For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. The function of prayer therefore and especially of mental prayer [2] is to transform our minds and through the transformation of our minds to effect a change in our dispositions and in our hearts. This mental conversion is not as simple as it is usually taken to be; normally it does not take place in a day or in a year; it involves a process which demands a long time for its completion.

It is not generally realized to what an extent our modes of thought--even when we are leading christian lives--are alien to the modes of thought of God. To think "christianly" is not an easy matter. God warns us of this through the Prophet Isaias: " For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts". To arrive at this view of reality, it is necessary that it be not the spirit of human wisdom or prudence that should shed light upon the objects of our thought, or should reveal what are to be the worthy objects of affection. It is needful that the light of merely human understanding be replaced by the illumination of the Spirit of God. For "the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the spirit of God.

Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the spirit that is of God: that we may know the things that are given us from God. But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand because it is spiritually examined. But the spiritual man judgeth all things. For who hath known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. We hold them as true; our knowledge is a knowledge of "possession" and not of "use. We know that they are true. Their outward features--that is, the formulae in which they are expressed--are familiar to us, but we have little apprehension of their inner meaning; hence they exercise little or no power on the affections of our heart or on the direction of our lives.

For us the vital meanings pent up like life-giving waters within these formulae, and containing in themselves the power to transform and transfigure our human life, have not broken loose and flooded our souls with their refreshing streams. The habit of prayer, and that alone, can correct all this, for it makes us cease to judge sensually and enables us to acquire the art of judging all things spiritually.


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The concluding words of St. Paul in the text cited above, namely, "we have the mind of Christ," perfectly express the result aimed at by the process of mental prayer. In all the varied forms which our intercourse with God necessarily assumes, the desire to acquire this mentality, the mentality of Jesus Christ, must act as a guiding and unifying principle. We cannot flatter ourselves to have made any considerable progress in prayer until we have advanced in learning to think with God--understanding Him and His ways.

We cannot be properly intimate with Him until this has taken place. The reason is obvious for one who studies ordinary human relationships. How constrained and artificial and labored are our conversations with those with whom we have little in common!

Much more than documents.

How difficult it is to find satisfaction in the company of those who are completely out of sympathy with our attitude towards life! How often it is the lot of Catholics to meet with non-catholics--who are equipped with the ordinary human virtues, men who are fair minded, upright and trustworthy but who have no clear perception or understanding of the supernatural.

A sincere Catholic, no matter how kindly disposed, will inevitably find intimacy with such persons extremely difficult if not impossible. No matter what apparent agreement there may be in many minor points there is really little or no common ground of understanding. This difficulty is intensified infinitely in our relations with God.

Prayer is an intercourse or communing of the soul with God according to the words of St. Paul"Our conversation is in heaven; from whence we look for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of His glory, according to the operation whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself.

Teresa, "prayer is only a friendly intercourse in which the soul converses alone with Him by Whom she knows she is loved.

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Now this personal intercourse cannot exist, or can exist but very imperfectly unless there is some common ground of understanding--some identity of thought and interests. For it must be remembered that, according to St. Thomas, prayer is an art of the reason, that is to say, it must have a basis in the intelligence. Growth in prayer is merely a growth in familiarity with God. In all prayer there are two agents to be considered. There can be no converse with God unless the soul wants it and actually enters on it, and the soul cannot desire to pray or actually engage in prayer unless God is at hand.

God is the principal agent, prompting the first desire of the soul for intercourse with Him; His Holy Spirit influences the intellect, awakens pious thoughts in the memory, arouses the imagination to develop and preserve these thoughts, draws the reason to examine religious truths and excites holy desires conformable to the thoughts He has inspired. Desiring more intensely to communicate Himself to the soul, than it could desire union with Him, He directs every effort it makes in its intercourse with Him. God's action does not exclude that of the soul. Diligent cooperation on its part is vitally necessary; the soul must petition God for the grace of prayer, and at the same time spare no pains to conform its thoughts and ways to those of God.

A very touching and intensely human incident in the Gospel illustrates all this, and carries us rapidly through the various stages of the intercourse of the soul with God, from its initial want of comprehension to the final illumination by which its ignorance of the divine is swept away. As the evening of the first Easter day was drawing to its close, two of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth left Jerusalem and directed their steps towards a small town about eight miles distant, called Emmaus.

As was natural, their thoughts revolved around the tragic happenings of the previous days. Seeing nothing in these sad events but the frustration of all their hopes and the end of their ambitious dreams, they were plunged in gloom. Their state of mind is well portrayed in their own words: "but we hoped that it was He that should have redeemed Israel: and now besides all this, today is the third day since the settings were done.

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As they walked and talked, a stranger drew near, and being anxious to interchange their thoughts with another, they were glad when he came to share their company. And one of them, whose name was Cleophas, answering, said to him: art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things that have been done there in these days? He was a great prophet, mighty in word and work; they had expected great things of Him, for on His remarkable power they had based their hopes of the restoration and the freedom of Israel. And now all had ended in disillusionment and tragedy.

The mighty worker of wonders was seized without difficulty by the priests and princes, and put to death without opposition. All was over.

This story of the resurrection the disciples were not prepared to admit. It conflicted with their sense of what should be the normal development of the events of the three years that had just ended. Evasion of death they expected, but a death and resurrection did not fit into their habits of thought. Regarding Jesus, His life, His work and His life's purpose from a viewpoint that was to a large extent natural, and interpreting it from that viewpoint, they completely misjudged the life and misunderstood the Man.

Their appreciation of the events of the last days of Holy Week, showed that they had never properly understood Him Whom they called their Lord and Master. The stranger after having allowed them to express themselves fully on the subject that filled their thoughts, and having listened to them in silence to the end, began to speak in his turn. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory? As feature after feature was drawn for them, from the words of Moses and the Prophets, especially the great Isaias, they began to see, in the career of Him Whom they had followed, the fulfillment of each detail of the prophecies.

At the same time they began to understand Jesus of Nazareth and grasp the inner meaning, the lesson, the purpose, of His life on earth. It became clear to them that His was not a life of purely human limitations. The Divine element in it began to show through for them.

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At length it began to dawn upon them that the Redemption they looked for was to be sought not without but within--not in the emancipation of their persons from a political yoke, but in a subjection of their souls to the deifying influence of the Redeemer. As the true portrait of the Messias developed for them under the skillful hand of the Master Himself, their minds grew in understanding of, and their hearts began to glow with love of Him Whom they had so misunderstood. This walk and conversation with Jesus was mental prayer in its ordinary form.