What Is Catholic Mental Prayer?

Catholic Mental Prayer, also called Catholic meditation, is a form of silent prayer that is the next level advanced from vocal prayer.

It is not Eastern Mysticism or any such thing. It is instead a lifting of the heart and mind to God.

All the saints practiced it. St. Alphonsus Liguori said: "every saint became a saint through Mental Prayer."

Do your Mental Prayer in a completely quiet room or church to block out distractions. Your mind may jump around everywhere to worries, tasks you need to do, or fears, but you simply train it back to your topic of meditation.

Here is how you do Mental Prayer:

  • Prepare: Place yourself in God's presence and pray for the grace to meditate
  • Begin the meditation
    • Reflect on particular subject, some truth of God or the Faith (more on this later)
    • Examine yourself in relation to this truth
      • Think of how you can improve in this aspect
    • Affections like sorrow for sin, hope in God, and love arise in your heart from considering the subject of your meditation
    • Offer petitions in your heart to God: for people in your life, for yourself, your family, your enemies, for the Church, and so on
    • Resolve to conquer your main vice or grow in a needed virtue
  • Conclusion: Thank God for the graces He gave you

For beginners like me, ten to fifteen minutes of meditation per day is all I can handle. The saints were known to meditate for hours at a time.

Subjects to Meditate On

What should you meditate on? Here are subjects for meditation to get you started:

  1. the beauty of Heaven,
  2. the horror of hell,
  3. God's omnipotence (all powerful),
  4. His omniscience (all knowing),
  5. Christ's Passion and death (think of the Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary),
  6. the goodness of God,
  7. the witness of the saints,
  8. God's indwelling presence in your soul.

Benefits of Mental Prayer

In every meditation, we are examining ourselves to see how we are following Christ: are we being humble? have we grown lukewarm?

Thus meditation provides a way of conquering our vices, especially our predominant ones, growing in virtue, remaining closer to God throughout the day, and sprinting along the track to sainthood that our Lord has prepared for us.

One cannot become as holy as God wills without meditation. The saints all meditated (and ascended to higher levels of prayer).

One cannot conquer venial sin without meditation, a claim I had never heard before!

Meditation is the gateway to deeper forms of prayer, but you can’t bypass it.

Years ago I read books by St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila–two saints considered geniuses on prayer–but it was too deep for me. I couldn’t understand, practically, how to meditate and begin to penetrate into the inner levels of the Interior Castle.


What I Learned From Meditating During Lent

Meditating is simple but hard. 

I got distracted every time.

Sometimes I did a good job quickly bringing my mind and heart back to the meditation; other times I got wrapped up in worries about my family, work, children, and so on.

But God also sent bursts of grace: moments of deep peace, quietness, His gentle presence. The main learning was: by showing up each day to meditate, I show God I want to be a saint. 

I want to spend time with Him. Just showing up and trying is a big part of the battle of prayer.

And I trust He will bless the effort with grace. Without grace, it is impossible to meditate or grow in holiness. But God promises His grace to us, so we can have child-like confidence and simply ask Him for this grace to meditate.

I didn't stop meditating once Lent ended. Instead, I've continued meditating each day (well, most days), and plan to keep it going.

My challenge to you: begin today to meditate, start with five minutes. Then keep doing it every day.

Mental Prayer is one of the ingredients in the secret recipe of the saints.

To learn all the ingredients, check out my book for just the cost of shipping and handling: https://www.lionheartcatholic.com/get-the-book


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