REVIEW OF ‘SILENT PRAYER’
In the 1960s, when ‘Transcendental Meditation’ TM, became popular, a Carmelite priest went to a TM teacher for instruction. Very soon, the teacher told him that he was unable to give him any teaching, because he had gone far further than TM could ever go.. ‘Silent Prayer’, in the Catholic tradition, takes off where TM ends, or rather, its end is completely diffferent.
It is a sad fact that whenever ‘meditation’ is suggested as a means to personal wellbeing, even when offered in schools, it is this eastern form of TM that is meant, rather than meditation in the Christian tradition. This is why this little book is so valuable. In a few short pages it distils the wisdom of Catholic teaching, drawing especially on the great Carmelite teachers of prayer, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and Therese of Lisieux; above all, that of John of the Cross.
This may sound daunting to some, who connect him with the ‘dark night’ and his saying: ‘nada, nada, nada’ – ‘nothing, nothing, nothing’. Muszala distils this into 5 ‘nothings’ which are deeply positive: Standing in the presence of God; Spiritual Reading; closing your eyes; looking at Jesus; making your act of faith; it is by these means, which he describes, that we turn away from externals to fix our attention on God.
He also shows why Catholic prayer is so different from TM; it is not aimed at personal wellbeing, but is a reaching out in love and faith to a beloved person, Jesus Christ, who through his Spirit dwelling within us, directs us toward his Father. It is a ‘loving without any boundaries’ (p. 10). There are also some beautiful meditations from the Scriptures: the Sing of Songs, the woman with the flow of blood, the Samaritan woman for example.
This booklet is a little gem for those who want to deepen their prayer life. It is a booklet that can be read and pondered on many times for its wisdom and beauty.
Jennifer Moorcroft, author of 'A Catholic Response to the Jehovah's Witnesses', Authorhouse 2014