LENTEN READING 6

ALL DAY THE FROGS SING.  As soon as I get into a cell by myself I am a different person! Prayer becomes what it ought to be. Everything is very quiet. The door is closed but I have the window open. It is warm—grey clouds fly all night—and all day the frogs sing. Now it is evening. The frogs still sing. After the showers of rain around dinnertime, the sky cleared. All afternoon I sat on the bed rediscovering God, rediscovering myself, and the office and Scripture and everything. It has been one of the most wonderful days I have ever known in my life, and yet I am not attached to that part of it either. My pleasure or the contentment that I may have experienced out of silence and solitude and freedom from all care does not matter. But I know that is the way I ought to be living: with my mind and senses silent, contacts with the world of business and war and community troubles severed—not solicitous for anything high or low or far or near—not pushing myself around with my own fancies or desires or projects—and not letting myself get hurried off my feet by the excessive current of activity that flows through the monastery with full force.

Contemplative prayer is the recognition that we are the Daughters and Sons of God, an experience of Who God is, and of God’s love for us, flowing from the operation of that love in us. Contemplative prayer is the voice of the Spirit crying out in us, “Abba.” In all prayer it is the Holy Spirit who prays in us, but in the graces of contemplation God makes us realize (at least obscurely) that it is God who is praying in us with a love too deep and too secret for us to comprehend. We exult in the union of our voice with God’s voice, and our soul springs up to the Father, through the Son, having become one flame with the Flame of their Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church, and it is to God’s presence in us that is attributed the sanctity of each one. God prays in us now as the Soul of the Church and now as the life of our own soul, but the distinction is real only in the external order of things. Interiorly, whether our prayer is private or public, it is the same Spirit praying in us: God is really touching different strings of the same instrument. — Thomas Merton