As part of becoming a Secular Carmelite, I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours on a more regular basis lately, and we are urged to practice mental prayer, say the Rosary, and attend mass daily if we can.
This is all part of a formation process. I'm already very familiar with how to do much of the work, e.g. say the rosary, the divine office, follow the mass, etc., so now it comes down to a daily grind of making it a habitual routine.
When I first started - identifying formation was kind of easy - it was simply a question of saying, "Can you make it through the prayer correctly?" And, then, making sure I put everything together, like a puzzle.
Now I am asking myself a deeper question about formation. As I read and pray and study, it seems like formation is more than a question of going through the motions, but one of listening to the prayers and one of growing in and perfecting the virtues.
This problem seems to become most pronounced when I hit mental prayer. I'm not sure of what I am doing. It's like I sit in silence, but then what? This seems to be the most free form sort of prayer, so formation becomes a bit different - the structure of silent meditative prayer is almost completely amorphous, so how am I supposed to be "forming" my conscience in such great poverty? What am I supposed to be listening for? Thinking? Contemplating? Responding to?
I think this extreme example in mental prayer begs the question of what is happening when we form our consciences even on the more general level. At first, it seems a questions of forming good habits, but perhaps it is so much more.
I hope my question makes sense. I wont be able to review answers until later this evening, so, if I dont respond right away, then please excuse.