Originally posted on Integrated Catholic Life: http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2010/12/carmelite-sisters-contemplative-space/
People are experiencing great yearnings to be fulfilled, satisfied, and whole, and the world is running out of answers for them.
“Lord, when can I come to you with a quiet heart?”
“I hear noise outside of me and there is more noise going on within me. I am bombarded with noise. My mind wanders in a thousand different directions. My world has too much stimuli and marches past me in an ever-moving parade of sounds and images. I am drowning in the noise. My spirit is suffocating from the noise. Lord, set me free.”
This prayer demonstrates the call of the Holy Spirit to deeper prayer, to a more profound interior life. Note the elements of the prayer. First of all, there is the enlightenment that one’s heart is not quiet. At the same time, there is an understanding that so much noise is not good. The prayer reflects a person who is aware of the need to reduce the stimuli bombarding the senses with their accompanying thoughts and feelings. It depicts a soul that is submerged in noise, suffocating from the noise.
This is the prayer of our present cultural milieu. It could be called, “The Cry of Today.”
Carmel’s call through truth echoes in the souls of many people throughout our world. People are seeing that the final product of all this consumerism is not so good. They are experiencing great yearnings to be fulfilled, satisfied, and whole, and the world is running out of answers for them. This is where Carmelite spirituality can be helpful to God’s people today. It explains, guides, and teaches all those who are ready to learn.
One of the things that Carmelite spirituality teaches is that the contemplative life arises from within the soul and needs a contemplative space. That’s why the prayer ends with, “set me free.” What is a contemplative space? It consists of an attitude, a choice, and a decision.
The Attitude: I need to change my approach to the quantity and quality of my life’s activities in order to weed out the busyness from my life.
The Choice: I will eliminate from my life unnecessary hectic, frantic activity and slow down, in as much as it is possible. I will choose a simpler lifestyle and build into it a contemplative space.
The Decision: I will pray every day. I will go to my contemplative space and listen only to God that I may come to know Him better and grow into a deeper relationship with Him. The interesting outcome of this is that I will actually get more done.
After adjusting attitude, making the choice and the decision, it is very helpful to read spiritual books. Read about the saints and learn how they “downsized” their life’s activities and made more time for God. As prayer deepens, turn to the Carmelite Saints who explain the various stages of prayer.
After reading, we, too, can say, like Edith Stein, “This is truth.”