One of the greatest lessons I have learned from being a Lay Cistercian is the value of consistency. Doing something over and over might seem boring to some, but to those seeking transformation, it is the practice of seeking God where you are.
In one of my Lectio Divina meditations (Phil 2:5), I thought of how I had been doing this same eight words for Lectio since I was twenty-three years of age. Granted, I did not always do it every day or even with the passion that leads to Contemplation, but the general realization was there that I had to do this every day, even if I had dry spells of practice.
It was not until I became aware of Lay Cistercians that I actually interiorized what I had intellectualized all these years (moving from just the mind to the heart and mind). It became as important for me to do prayer daily (not only Lectio, but also Eucharist, Reading Chapter 4 of the Rule each day, Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, reading Scripture and other Cistercian authors). It is the desire to pray from the heart that is, in itself, a prayer.
PRAYER IS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
Unconditional love is one of those wonderful experiences that you might feel or be the recipient of, sometime in your lifetime. Consider yourself lucky. Christ’s love for us is unconditional, that is, it is not limited by Original Sin, or limited by His nature (both divine and human). It is 100%. My love is conditional, at least until I reach Heaven.
In terms of prayer, love is totally tied to our emotions, feelings, moods, anxieties, and subject to the temptations to do anything other than pray every day. This is why I like Lay Cistercian practices of encouraging us to pray daily, taking up our cross daily, seeking God each day where we find Him, praying as you can, preferring nothing to the love of Christ. Daily. Difficult? I am not there yet because I have so many competing Worldly temptations to be somewhere else, that prayer is a waste of time, that love is a waste of time, that being a Lay Cistercian who tries daily to have in them the mind of Christ Jesus is complete fantasy. It is the time you waste in prayer that makes it unconditional. It is the time you take with the one you love that makes it so valuable, says the fox to the Little Prince. Read this exerpt from The Little Prince.
“And he went back to meet the fox.
“Goodbye,” he said.
“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
“It is the time I have wasted for my rose–” said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.
“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.” http://www.angelfire.com/hi/littleprince/framechapter21.html (Highlights are mine)
Praise be God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the Ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology