Since today is the feast day of Saint Teresa of Avila, the Doctor of Prayer, I found it fitting to quickly express to you one of the articles from the third chapter of the Christian Prayer section in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In this section, we will focus on the Expressions of Prayer: Vocal, Meditation, and Contemplative.
St. Teresa of Avila wrote on these three expressions of prayer extensively in her writings. In her work, The Way of Perfection, St. Teresa says,
“…Let us give ourselves to mental prayer. And let whoever cannot practice it turn to vocal prayer, reading, and colloquy with God…Mental prayer consists of what was explained: being aware and knowing that we are speaking, with whom we are speaking, and who we ourselves are who dare to speak so much with so great a Lord…the nature of mental prayer isn’t determined by whether or not the mouth is closed. If while speaking I thoroughly understand and know that I am speaking with God and I have greater awareness of this than I do of the words I’m saying, mental and vocal prayer are joined.”
On these three expressions of prayer, the Catechism says…
CCC 2720: The Church invites the faithful to regular prayer: daily prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours, Sunday Eucharist, the feasts of the liturgical year.
CCC 2721: The Christian tradition comprises three major expressions of the life of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer. They have in common the recollection of the heart.
CCC 2722: Vocal prayer, founded on the union of the body and soul in human nature, associates the body with the interior prayer of the heart, following Christ’s example of praying to his Father and teaching the Our Father to his disciples.
CCC 2723: Meditation is a prayerful quest engaging thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. Its goal is to make our own in faith the subject considered, by confronting it with the reality of our own life.
CCC 2724: Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that is makes us share in his mystery.
For a more extensive explanation on the three expressions of prayer, I would encourage you to read CCC 2700-2719.
As we celebrate the Doctor of Prayer, let us ask her to intercede for us during our fruitful times of prayer, but especially when our prayer lacks fruit and we find ourselves battling in prayer.