Traditional understanding of prayer

We have to be careful. Teresa was a personality all her own. It is true that she learned a great deal from her Franciscan mentors, but she does not deviate from the original Carmelite hermits. What she learned from the Franciscans, especially Francisco of Osuna and Pedro of Alcantara was the power of prayer. However, her theology is her own.

I have always said that she drank from the same well as the Franciscans, but the outcome was very different. If we look at a Discalced Carmelite monastery and a Poor Clare monastery there are remarkable differences.

Clare leans more on Francis, while Teresa leans more on Albert. Clare’s focus is on poverty and Teresa’s focus is on contemplation. Teresa uses detachment as a means to contemplation. Clare uses contemplation as a means to detachment.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Finally! I’ve found an internet connection that allowed me to reply to this thread. I’ve been trying to post here for days, to no avail. I’ll just share what I sent to Bro. JR.

Different masters in Spiritual Theology have given us different definitions that really lead to the same thing. St. Teresa of Avila defined prayer as a conversation between friends. Catherine of Siena defines is a the journey toward the union between the soul and the divine. St. Bonaventure explains it as the mind’s journey into God. St. Francis de Sales says it’s lifting of the heart, mind and soul to God. St. Benedict explained it as the encounter between the human and the divine in silence. St. Francis of Assisi explained it as the soul’s desire to love Love. Bl. Mother Teresa explains it as walking in the dark. Augustine says that it’s searching for the Good when the Good has found us. And St. Ignatius of Loyola talks about being in the presence of God.

Then Prayer is an encounter between two friends: the Lover and the beloved. This meeting so moves the beloved to lift up his heart, mind and soul to his Lover, his God, because of his desire to love Love and to be in His presence. And when it is like walking in the dark, the beloved is in search for the Good when the Good has already found him.

As I said before, this statement just pulls all the different schools together so neatly, showing that they are not in conflict, but each is a piece of a whole that almost to great for us comprehend.

Great job at summarizing it for us. Thanks. :thumbsup:


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

“My prayer is very simple. I place myself in the presence of our Lord and I tell Him all that is in my heart… In a word, I open my heart before God. If I have joys, I share them with Him; If I have sorrows, I confide them to Him; if I happen to be in aridity, I remain in His presence…”

  • St. Therese Couderc

“… I just do what children have to do before they’ve learnt to read; I tell God what I want quite simply, without any splendid turns of phrase, and somehow he always manages to understand me. For me, prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting up one’s eyes, quite simply to heaven, a cry of grateful love, from the crest of joy or the trough of despair; it’s a vast supernatural force which opens out my heart and binds me close to Jesus.”

  • St. Therese of Lisieux
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