Contemplative prayer resources?


Hi all,

I was just wondering if any of you had any good web links discussing discursive meditation and the gradual movement from there to contemplative prayer?

Thanks and God bless




The OP was asking about contemplative prayer which is different from centering prayer. Contemplative prayer has been practiced by the saints for centuries and many have written about it, the most famous being St. Teresa, a doctor of the Church.


Check out this new blog - you might find it helpful.



Wonderful blog - I just added that one to my blogroll.


Essentially meditation is something that we can actively do ourselves with the help of Grace. Contemplation is something that God brings about independant of our own efforts - although with some theories the very early stages of contemplation can have our own efforts brought to them with Grace … but essentially it is God’s action in the soul independant of the soul’s own volition and volitional activity. The early stages of contemplation can be experienced as consoling if quite passing and then a return to a ‘dry’ state, or as completely and always dry. Certainly at the point where the person finds it absolutely impossible to meditate which was once quite active, the contemplative process has probably begun. Inability to meditate is not necessarily forever always such an indication as the inability to pray can be brought about by adverse or negative spiritual conditions that need to be addressed. And when these are successfully addressed, the ability to meditate will return.

Certainly a good spiritual director can be a great treasure and gift.



Barbara - well said. There is a great post on a similar thought here



I did note your link from a previous post in this thread and also Beckymarie’s comment that she has included it in her blogroll. Because I am still very much a learner with computers and prompted by Becky’s post, I have started a thread in “Over The Back Fence” asking what is a blogroll and also a RSS Feed.:thumbsup: Most - in fact probably the greater bulk by far - of what I do know about computers I have been taught by CAF members who are always very helpful and patient, about all I could do really when I first joined CAF was type and access the internet



Thanks for the question, the answers and the links.

I want to learn more about this area too. The link to the blog is very helpful.

I’d really like to know when, where and how and what I should be practicing.

And also, what to avoid.

Thats a lot of questions isn’t it?:slight_smile:


Hi Lisa,

For Christmas, I received a book, The Fulfillment of All Desire, that covers the three stages of the spiritual life wonderfully. This book may have what you’re looking for; see the back cover for more details.

The Fulfillment of All Desire:
A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints
by Ralph Martin


Thank you Becky!

That book looks like it might be valuable.

Have you read St. Theresa’s books or St. John’s which the author references?

I haven’t read St John’s works and I think I might do that before reading the book you recommend. For that matter, I should read the interior castle again as well.:slight_smile: I think I might have read dark night of the soul but I am not sure.

the title says it all: dark night of the soul. ick…scary…shivers me timbers!:slight_smile:


I’ve read The Interior Mansion and big chunks of St. John’s works, but I find I need someone to take what those saints are saying and break that down for me. Martin does a great job with that in his book, and he also brings in the teachings of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

When God brings a soul to the dark night, He also gives him or her the grace to endure it. Be not afraid!


As has been mentioned already, “Contemplation” is not something we do, but rather, what God does within us.

“Contemplative Prayer,” is how we begin to open ourselves to God’s grace, who leads us into contemplation.

A formula for Contemplative prayer, which goes back to the Desert Fathers of the 4th Century, of which St. John Cassian wrote about in his experiences with Abba Isaac, who gave conferences on prayer, can be used.

The prayer, “O God come to my assistance, O Lord, make haste to help me,” is used for maintaining reflection on God, in times of meditation, or throughout the day. During meditation, it is said quietly and interiorly, and repeated until the soul is drawn to the center, where God dwells.(See St. John of the Cross, the Living Flame of Love.) Whenever the soul becomes aware that their thoughts have wondered off, they just return to the prayer, gently.
The purpose is to maintain our focus on the presence of God dwelling within us. It is in His presence, that we open ourselves to Him and allow Him, to transform us. It is a resting in God’s presence.

For those who use it, the prayer becomes so much a part of you, that you’ll find yourself praying it throughout the day, on a daily basis. Thus, “pray without ceasing,” is understood.

Also, as you can see, the prayer is from Scripture, but it is also the opening prayer for Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The Eastern Church also used the “Jesus Prayer,” in the same way. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner." This prayer was said on the Rosary Beads.

However, as in both prayers, its not the words, but rather, returning the focus of our intention on the presence of God, who dwells within. God brings us to full contemplation, not the prayer.

In all, the only path to Contemplation, is to pray. Without prayer, its like trying to win a lottery without purchasing a ticket.

Contemplative Prayer, is the ticket, to open yourself up to Contemplation.

In Christ Jesus


Same reading and concern/request, here. R. Martin did wonderfully, I just need/want more and St. John’s works are intimidating.

As far as “the grace to endure it” - I’ll repeat what Mother Teresa said, “I just wish God didn’t trust me so much.” Or something along those lines (not that I am, in any way, comparing myself to her!


Hi Brigid,

One other author who also makes St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross easier to follow is Fr. Thomas Dubay. His book Fire Within focuses on contemplative prayer. If you haven’t read it already, you can read almost the entire book on Google Books at the link below:

Fire Within:
St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer
by Fr. Thomas Dubay



Great recommendations - I have read them and agree. A very good place to start is Father Dubay’s book, “Prayer Pimer - Igniting a Fire Within.” The reason I like this book is that it lays a clear but brief foundation for all the forms of prayer - their distinctions and interactions. For me, this book made the more weighty works (i.e. Fire Within) more understandable.

Blessings on you for your good work here.


I read Fr Dubay’s “The Fire Within,” while I was reading |“The Interior Castle,” for the first time.

Luckily, Fr Dubay also had his series on Contemplative Prayer, on EWTN running at the same time. I got a triple dose of explanation, along with the OCD Spiritual Assistant for the Secular Order group I belonged to.

Fr Dubay’s books are well worth the investment.



I read Fr. Dubay’s writings once and didn’t “connect”. I didn’t seem to have any problem with Interior Castle, tho’. Sounds like I should try again with Fr. Dubay’s - first time I read The Story of a Soul, I didn’t get it either. Second time…well, I was hooked.:shrug:


Hi brigid

I read Fr. Dubay’s writings once and didn’t “connect”. I didn’t seem to have any problem with Interior Castle, tho’. Sounds like I should try again with Fr. Dubay’s - first time I read The Story of a Soul, I didn’t get it either. Second time…well, I was hooked.

I believe God feeds us according to whats best for us. The first time I tried to read The Way of Perfection, it was better suited as a cure for insomnia. The second time, which was about 10 years later, I absorbed the entire book.


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