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Posted April 28, 2011

Book: Difficulties in Mental Prayer
Author: M. Eugene Boylan, O.C.R.
Ave Maria Press. Notre Dame, IN. 2011. Pp. 119

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Now with an extended biography and a foreward by leading Trappist Michael Casey, O.C.S.O., this new edition of Dom M. Eugene Boylan’s seminal work on prayer enlivens a spiritual classic that enables anyone to navigate the personal challenges that come with a pursuit of growth in prayer. Drawing on personal experience and the teaching of the mystics, Boylan systematically considers the difficulties that arise at each level of prayer and offers practical advice for overcoming them.

Boylan’s approach is unique because he always has in mind those readers who either find it difficult to meditate or seem to have lost the capacity to do so. According to the journal Catholic World, Boylan’s masterwork "will simplify a subject often unnecessarily complicated."

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Prayer of Faith

Under the term "prayer of faith" are here included all those forms of prayer in which neither the senses nor the intellect find much to hold them or attract their natural appetites. This prayer centers rather around God as seen by the dim light of faith, with His attractiveness dimmed and hidden. It is a prayer which seems to consist in an inability to pray.

. . .St. Jane Francis de Chantal writes: "I tell you in all confidence and simplicity that it is about twenty years since God took from me all power to accomplish anything in prayer with the understanding and consideration or meditation; and that all I can do is to suffer and stay my spirit very simply in God, cleaving to this operation by an entire committal (or abandonment to God) without making any acts, unless I should be invited thereto by His motion, there awaiting what it shall please His goodness to give me." Here we have a prayer without "acts," without ability to do anything except to suffer and to abandon one’s self to God. It is this latter point that distinguishes this prayer from mere reveries or lazy inertness. If one’s life is not being continually moulded according to God’s will, there can be no real "abandonment" at the time of prayer. The note of suffering is not essential to this prayer, but all the same, prayer frequently fails because we do not regard it as a means by which we give ourselves to God. Too often we are seeking consolations, seeking ourselves, in fact, even though it be on a spiritual plane. We are praying in our own name, instead of that of Jesus Christ.

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction

2. The powers of the soul

3. Discursive prayer

4. Modifying the method

5. Sources of difficulty in prayer

6. Towards affective prayer

7. Affective power

8. Further developments

9. Goodness of life

10. Prayer and the spiritual life

11. The path of progress

12. The difficulties of not praying

13. The prayer of the priest

14. The indwelling spirit of adoption

15. Our identification with Jesus

16. The growth of Jesus within us

17. Emmanuel — "God is with Us"

18. Assets and liabilities

19. The prayer of faith

20. "Many are called"