I like the word “pithy” because it is not common usage and sounds a bit naughty. As I use it, the word means poignant and concise. It is like drinking concentrated orange juice. Good, but you need to add water to make it taste better.

In my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) last month, while preparing to teach inmates at Wakulla Correctional Institution (Annex) near Tallahassee, Florida, I thought of how I could arrange sayings that I have actually used in helping to shape my comprehension of the contemplative practice of silence, solitude, prayer and work in the context of community. I am far from an expert in anything, much less Cistercian spirituality, but I have gleaned several nuggets that have served me well, so far on my journey to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)

MEAN WHAT YOU PRAY What sounds like a no brainer is actually at the core of your contemplative prayer. Remember! Contemplative prayer is not meditation, but rather, in silence and solitude, just sitting and waiting for Christ to show up. (Yes, I know God is everywhere.)

PRAY FROM BOTH THE HEART AND MIND Prayers of the mind are prescriptive prayers, such as Eucharist, the Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours. You read what is written for you.That is why you must take the initiative to mean what you pray. Pray slowly, deliberately, savour the words

PRAY AS THOUGHT EVERYTHING DEPENDS UPON GOD (IT DOES), AND WORK AS THOUGH EVERYTHING DEPENDS UPON YOU (IT DOES). When you pray, realize that God doesn’t need your prayer, but you need God’s energy to sustain you in prayer. Scripture tells us no one can say Jesus is Lord without the Holy Spirit.

PRAY AS YOU CAN Brother Michael, O.C.S.O. taught our Lay Cistercian class of Juniors that we should look for ways to pray that are part of every day living. He is trying to lead us to seeking God in daily living where we are. It is an awareness of life itself and how each day is its own beginning and end. As you see above, our work can transform not only ourselves but those around us. Matthew 25.

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER MEANS YOU SIT ON A PARK BENCH IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER AND LONG TO SIT NEXT TO CHRIST. I love this photo of a cold day. Why a cold day? For me, this represents the World around me, the effects of Original Sin, that my spirituality will always be contained in a place whose default is the secular state. Because I have the ability to reason and also have the ability to make choices that affect who I am, I must work to keep myself warm as I sit and wait for Christ.


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