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Contemplative joy

Gavin Thomas Murphy runs a website called Gratitude in All Things and he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.

“I don’t sing because I’m happy. I’m happy because I sing.” – William James

As I was writing a blogpost last week, I noticed a lack of conviction on my topic. I felt tired and unmotivated, and I needed some inspiration. So, I got in touch again with a Poor Clare contemplative nun who reminded me of the importance of turning to praise on a regular basis. She told me that her community does the Divine Office – consisting of hymns, psalms, readings and prayers – seven times a day and that it actually seeps into your soul after a while. This motivated me to set a schedule and pray and sing it over a few days.

Some parts particularly struck me. The words from the hymn ‘God of Mercy God of Grace’, “Lips too seldom taught to praise, oft to murmur and complain,” seemed to represent the lack of habitual praise in my life. Psalm 127 – apart from God our labours are worthless – enabled me to pour out my sorrows and to depend on God more. And an antiphon at night prayer, “Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace,” expressed my desire to pray without ceasing.

I noticed some fruits after only a short while. During Sunday Mass on TV, I responded more heartfully to the prayers and songs in the company of my mother and sister. I let out a belly laugh when I saw my sister blow kisses to my granny and play peek-a-boo with her, while my granny smiled with big eyes. I tuned into the abundant greenness of nature: in the grass, hedges and trees. I rediscovered my own personal prayer that unites with Mary in saying ‘Yes’ to God in my life. Perhaps I can sing it for you!

Meditation

This week I offer a three minute guided meditation (with a one minute introduction) on the theme of praise. Drawn from my blogpost, there is an initial focus on mindful breathing followed by the repetition of a word of praise that arises from our hearts. It aims to encourage us to develop a habit of praise that seeps into our souls.