Dear Sister,

I’ve heard people use the term prayer life or prayer journey. What does that mean?

Dear Friend,

Usually when this type of question comes to mind, it is because the Holy Spirit is inspiring it!

The answer lies in an understanding of the essence of what it means to be a human being.

Each human person is made up of two essential parts, body and soul. The body we can see; the soul we can’t see. The body is material; the soul is spiritual. God dwells in the soul through grace. We call this the “Indwelling Presence,” or the “Divine Indwelling.” From time to time, each person becomes aware of the soul through an interior nudging of the Holy Spirit.

In the innermost sanctuary of our souls, the divine encounter takes place at a profoundly deep level of our being. Because of the intensely intimate nature of a prayer that is this deep, this personal, this spiritual, it is hard to understand or discuss. It is too holy. Our profoundly intimate encounter with God through prayer in our deepest center is the theme of Carmelite spirituality and the topic of the writings of the Carmelite mystics. Putting words to these experiences and explaining them, usually by way of an analogy, is Carmel’s gift to the world.

St. John of the Cross, Carmelite mystic and Doctor of the Church, wrote four major works.

  • The Ascent of Mt. Carmel
  • The Dark Night of the Soul
  • The Spiritual Canticle
  • The Living Flame of Love

His writings explain the prayer journey, usually by way of analogy – after all, there are no human words to describe the divine. He wrote about the detachments and purifications needed to begin and continue the ascent up the mountain of prayer, the dark night of the soul, and the joy and fulfillment expressed in the spiritual canticle and the living flame of God’s love. In contemporary terms, these four works by St. John of the Cross talk about “letting go and letting God.” They describe the growing relationship between a human being and God, all occurring within the soul. “Know you not that you are God’s temple and that His Spirit dwells within you.”

Life can never be the same, once we discover that in the deepest center of our soul, we can live that intimate relationship with God for which we were created. Yes, we will continue our daily routine, but it will become a life lived from our deepest center, filled to the brim, good measure and flowing over – and because God is infinite, we can always go deeper.

Until next time,

Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.