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Immaculate Heart of Mary's Hermitage

THE PRAYER OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD

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Dom Augustin Guillerand, O. Cart.

"THERE are certain exterior aids which help the soul to rise above itself and above things, in its ascent toward the sacred heights. One's physical posture is one which can be of considerable assistance. The reason for this is the close link between the soul and the body. We are all familiar with the joined hands, the outstretched arms and the eyes raised to heaven. Moses, during the fierce battle between his people and the Amaleckites, remained with his hands outstretched. As he grew weary, Aaron and Hur supported them rather than he should abandon this gesture of supplication (Exodus 17, 11-12). When our Lord came to the tomb where lay the body of Lazarus, intending to raise him up to life, he lifted up his eyes to heaven but remained standing (John 11.12). During his agony he knelt and then prostrated himself (Mark 14.35 and Luke 22.41). He came as close as possible to that earth to which he had descended, in order to raise it up with him above its nature, and to take it with him to his Father. All these different variants show us how necessary it is to be always ready to adopt the attitude the Holy Spirit suggests to us, and not feel constrained to assume any particular posture unless it is clearly indicated."

"There are other aids that are interior and more spiritual. They are of two kinds, or rather they come from two different sources. One source is within us. The sight of our misery gives birth in us to the desire to be delivered from it, and to call upon him from whom alone can come this aid. If the thought of our helplessness, which is continually asserting itself by repeated falls, becomes permanent, prayer becomes little by little the habitual movement of the soul, and gradually we approach the idea proposed by our Lord, when he said: "We ought always to pray, and not to faint (Luke 18.1). Thus we lift ourselves above the short moment of this fleeting life, and enter God's eternal duration. The thought of ourselves causes us to go out of ourselves and lose ourselves in God."

"Other motives we find outside ourselves. The most important of these is the need to glorify God. Indeed, one can say not only that it is the principal source, but that it is the only source, for all others come back to it. Such is the thought of the divine Master who came to teach us how to pray; who gave us the perfect model and whose whole life was a prayer-a prayer, however, which was not a raising of the mind and heart, since he never left the summit where God dwells. It is equally profitable to have recourse to those who have closely imitated this perfect model, such as St. John the solitary of Patmos, or St. Mary Magdalen in her wild grotto. To think of such as these strongly encourages us to follow their example. In asking their aid, we feel certain that it will be given at once, and that their hands uplifted to God on our behalf, are also outstretched towards us to support and raise us up. Indeed, the whole of the heavenly court is ready to assist the faltering steps of God's children."

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