Ecstatic Humanity in Carmelite Prayer


I thought this passage a revelation and an illumination:

from Carmelite Prayer: A Tradition for the 21st Century
Ed. Fr. Keith J. Egan

"Contemplation and the Stream of Consciousness"
Fr. Kiernan Kavanaugh

The human person is created in the image and likeness of the God who goes out, an ecstatic God in eternal Filiation and Spiration, ecstatic in the missions of the Son and Holy Spirit. The human being in its inmost activity is essentially and passionately other-directed, self-losing.

The ecstatic nature of the human person is ultimately rooted in the mystery of the inwardly self-giving Trinity. As Father and Son are for each other in the unity of the Holy Spirit, the human person is always a being for, not a being established in and unto self.

In Carmelite prayer, then, the loving awareness or presence to Christ in faith, in mystery, whether active or passive, is what one seeks to sustain. This is a relationship of love, of friendship, of being for and toward the other.

I'm inclined to think the first two paragraphs have universal relevance. This is for the Christian and the Catholic at large. The third paragraph, being qualified as talking about Carmelite prayer, may seem to be slightly less universal. But while it is a particular charism of the order, I suspect that all are invited, if not necessarily expected to participate in this form of prayer.

This formless form, this waiting and being in presence, is one of the reasons that it is difficult to speak about a Carmelite "method" of prayer. I'm not sure there is a "method," except, as is described here, reaching out to take the hand of a friend and spending time with a friend.

As you read Carmelite sources, you discover means of predisposing yourself to receive and engage in this kind of prayer, but no one ever really tells you much except to spend time in the presence of the one you love. That is the key. ". . . [H]er heart or love will not be set on herself or her own satisfaction and gain, but on please God and giving Him honor and glory."(Spiritual Canticle 9:5 St. John of the Cross).

Note--There is so much good and helpful in this essay that to do it justice, I would have to quote most of it. While I know such things are hard to come by, see if your library can ILL this book. There are other essays also well worth your time. While the subject is Carmelite prayer, I think the teaching has applications for all.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 1, 2005 9:34 AM.

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