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The role of thoughts in Carthusian Spirituality.

1. "Thoughts" in the Ascetical-Mystical Sense, primarily refers to the Capital or Deadly Sins. They are combated by replacing them or, better, displacing them with the Capital or Deifying Virtues, the Godly-thoughts.

2. Each Dogma of the Symbol of Faith, the Creed, is a Divine Truth and Mystery, rather than a "thought" in the Mystical-Ascetical Sense. Each and every Dogma of Faith is given for the Salvation of Baptized Christian Believers. "Think about these things!" St. Paul urges us to do with the Dogmas. Thus, The Church in the East and the West from the beginning has urged believers to ponder in their hearts and "have on their minds" these Dogmas/Truths as the chief content of their "Christian Thoughts", i.e. The Memory of God or Memoria Dei, since this is the immediate goal of Continual Prayer, Oratio Continua.

Thus, in Eastern and Western Liturgies of the Hours, these Dogmas were and are constantly repeated in various ways in the Daily Cycle, either through actual Creeds or through Dogmatic Prayers, Hymns and Scriptural/Patristic Verses. Everyone who is capable of praying and professing the Dogmas of the Creed(s) should do so at least once daily.

3. One of the primary roles of the various Contemplative Monologistic ("Only One Thought") Prayer Forms used as meditation in Christian Mysticism is exactly the incessant repetition, perpetual invocation, and constant Faithful Profession of these Dogmas/Divine Truths of "The Truth" as worship and adoration, eventually leading to a silencing of the entire being of the praying Christian in total loving silent adoration as the only prayer of their heart. (This is one of the reasons the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary are so important!) In this way, the One "Thought of God" in all His ultimate Truth, is cultivated and fostered in us as our only "real" thought. The only one that drives our lives.

4. The more advanced we become in this type of contemplative prayer over time, the more quickly it reduces us to silence before the Mystery contained in the Dogmatic Truths of the Faith each time we pray. This silencing of our being is the work of the Holy Spirit in us during our prayer. It is nothing we really have control over, and so, ordinarily, unless instructed otherwise by our Spiritual Director, we should just continue our rule of prayer in all its particulars until the Holy Spirit reduces us to silence during it.

5. As St John Climacus of "The Ladder of Divine Ascent", Abbot of Sinai, reminds us, we should beat the devil with the Name of Jesus. He tells us this knowing that Jesus, as God-Man, is related to all the Dogmas of the Creed, and His Holy Name invoked thus, is a type of shorthand of the entire Dogmatic Faith we profess and live by.

6. Cessation of any and all thoughts is not really a proper Christian Goal since thinking about God and having the proper and Godly orthodox catholic dogmatic "Thought of God" is part of our nature as humans and is the ordinary means of Christian Mysticism. What the All Holy Spirit goes on to do with this "Thought of God" and its Divine Truth in our soul's "Nous”, where the highest human intellective activity occurs Noetically as an intuitive apprehension of God by and in the Act of Faith, is something beyond our control or ken. All we can do is dispose ourselves through faithful cooperation and obedience to the Holy Spirit and His movements. Any accompanying silencing that occurs from this operation of the Holy Spirit in our souls is His work in His good time. Quite often we experience this in differing degrees of intensity, as the Spirit gradually and progressively builds us up for the more intense instances of it.

This is precisely why Christian contemplative meditation and the Infused Mystical Contemplation that God bestows by Grace through it is entirely different in intention, method, content and goal from other types of non-Christian meditation. We are allowed to "see" experientially by Faith, the Indwelling Trinity because of the operation of the Holy Spirit in our Baptismal Union with Our Lord Jesus Christ, the God-Man.

This Faith Knowledge, contained as a dynamic potential in each and every Dogma, is ever present with us and to us, and at certain instances, by the mercy of God, can be Mystically experienced as a mystical intuition of an all embracing, all engaging, all absorbing, all consuming Love and affection of God the Trinity for us and of us, simultaneously energized by it, for God the Trinity. This is the "infinitization" by desire, that humans are drawn by the Trinity into the Trinity to Love with and through the Trinity, the One God, Each Divine Person, and all who are or that are loved by the Trinity: the Creation, Angels, Humans, and, even ones best eschatological "Christic-Trinitarian" self.

This is precisely why we must also work with the Holy Spirit to rid ourselves of the Deadly Thoughts/Vices/Sins and get the Deifying Virtues working in us in their stead, so that the "Thought of God" can effectively rule us, and ultimately pray in us, and ultimately lead us to silently rest in God's Love.

7. Just think of it! There's a "Thought of God" worth having on your mind.

8. Since thoughts rule the world, and most especially rule us humans and our beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviors; let that "Thought of God" be the only thing to rule you and reduce you to silent adoration before the Mystery, as you experience yourself in the mystery because this mystery is already at work in you by Grace.

9. With St. Paul, let us remember this prayer: "I kneel before the Father...and pray...that you may grasp by experiential knowledge, the otherwise ineffable Love of God the Father in Christ by the Spirit for you...and be filled with the utter fullness of God. To Him who is thus at work in us, beyond our wildest imaginings, to Him be Glory and Dominion in us and in the Church, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages, Amen"

'You must watch the door of your heart continually and ask each suggestion: "Are you for or against us?"' We know from experience that we are frequently unable to discern the wolf from the lamb - the devil can clothe himself as an angel of light. This is the reason it is necessary to have a guide.
The Way of Silent Love
Carthusian Novice Conferences
A Carthusian

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