About this blogger:
Veronica Brandt holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering. As editor, she has produced fine publications (as well as valuable reprints) dealing with Gregorian chant, hymnody, Latin, and other subjects. These publications are distinguished on account of their tastefulness. She lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her husband Peter and five children.
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“I should not like to be too harsh on this commission’s labors. It numbered a certain number of genuine scholars and more than one experienced and judicious pastor. Under different circumstances, they might have accomplished excellent work. Unfortunately, on the one hand, a deadly error in judgment placed the official leadership of this committee in the hands of a man who—though generous and brave—was not very knowledgeable: Cardinal Larcaro. He was utterly incapable of resisting the maneuvers of the mealy-mouthed scoundrel that the Neapolitan Vincentian, Annibale, a man as bereft of culture as he was of basic honesty, soon revealed himself to be.”
— Fr. Bouyer, a liturgical expert appointed by Pope Paul VI

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Mental Prayer through Hymns
published 2 January 2016 by Veronica Brandt

St Ignatius vision INDFULNESS, COMPASSION and meditation: all strongly recommended by mental health experts. For Catholics this really translates into mental prayer.

You may have come across the quote attributed to St Francis de Sales: “Everyone of us needs half an hour of prayer every day, except when we are busy—then we need an hour.” Now, I’m sure that 15 minutes in a busy day is fantastic, but you get the point—make time for prayer!

A few times I’ve mentioned this and some close Catholic friends confided that they didn’t know where to begin with mental prayer—they’re sure they’re hopeless at it—which is an awful thing to think.

Take the first idea of mental prayer, personified in Fr Faber’s hymn:

O Mother, I could weep for mirth,
Joy fills my heart so fast;
My soul today is heaven on earth,
Oh, may the transport last !
I think of thee, and what thou art,
Thy majesty, thy state—-
And I keep singing in my heart;
Immaculate ! Immaculate !

In this idea, you kneel down, open your heart and you are transported to seventh heaven where consolation and bliss fills your soul.

Now, I’m not going to say that’s impossible, but it is certainly not the ordinary experience. With this sort of expectation you are likely to be disappointed and feel like a failure—just like my friends related. But this is not practising mental prayer! This is like sitting at the piano for the first time and wondering why you can’t play Liebestraum.

On the other hand, take St Thomas Aquinas via Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

There – you kneel down and contemplate God. You acknowledge your own unworthiness – not to feel bad about yourself, but to reflect the reality of the amazing love of God for us.

There are many, many, many methods of mental prayer available. Just like a piano method they require some patience and repetition before prayer starts coming naturally. Just like learning the piano, if it doesn’t seem to be working you can turn to someone for advice. That’s what spiritual directors are for.

Maybe a good way to start is to take this from the new Enchridion of Indulgences:

A partial indulgence is granted to that individual among the faithful who, in carrying out his duties and bearing with the trials of life, raises his mind in humble trust to God, adding—even mentally—some pious invocation.

A little each day for 2016!