Learning a New Language

Prayer is like learning a new language, the language of God.

When we learn a new language, it helps to be quiet and listen. This entails not only physical silence but also psychological. In fact, the interior silence is more important than the exterior. If we’re not judging events and people, if we’re not calculating, if we’re not thinking too much, we listen better. Children learn from their parents because they have trust and abandon; they just absorb what is said and don’t question too deeply. It is an assimilation based on confidence in the other. Adults, on the other hand, have barriers to this kind of assimilation of language. They get caught up on an analysis or a judgment. This happens to greater or lesser degrees depending on the particular child and the particular adult, but the general truth remains a general truth nonetheless.

Isn’t this like contemplation? The more we are silent inside, confident in God, abandoned to him and his providence, not passing judgments on people and on the course of events beyond what is absolutely necessary, then we listen. Jesus asks us to become as little children, to let ourselves be grabbed into the arms of the one we trust. Then we can listen better. Our prayer is better, less noisy, more full of simplicity and trust. We can learn the language, which is Infinite Love, with which the Blessed Trinity communicates within Itself and which is the substratum on which the entire world is made and from which the entire world derives its being:

Listen to them speaking
“I love you,” says each to each
Living in me


3 thoughts on “Learning a New Language

  1. Still working on bringing about the dark night of the senses, hammering away at bringing about of continuous contemplation, rather than sporadic–even if profound and lengthy, meditation. Recent words read that moved.

    St. Alonso Rodriguez from ‘Christian Perfection, for those in the world’. A remarkable saint for his unremarkableness. A life of failure and suffering: the loss of a wife and children, a failed business, rejection by the Jesuits, and finally a vocation as a doorkeeper and errand runner, did not prevent this man of God from striving toward holy perfection.

    “My delight,” says He, ‘is to be with the children of men.” (Prov. Viii 31) But when the heart is filled with all kinds of passions—when not quite free from vainglory; when we have some slight attachments, pleasing ourselves in worldly conversation (NOTE: I include spiritual conversations), loving our own ease and satisfaction–when we are in such dispositions, as we are far from resembling God, so we find it hard to converse with Him, and we take no pleasure but in earthly things because of the likeness we have to them: “They are become abominable,” says the prophet Osee, “as those things which they loved.” (Osee ix. 10.)
    A holy father says, that as, when the water is troubled, we can neither see ourselves nor anything else in it, so when our hearts are not purified from all earthly affections, we can never see the face of God in prayer; that is we can never penetrate the depths of His mysteries, and He will never communicate Himself unto us. Prayer is properly a spiritual view of the works and mysteries of God; and as to see well with corporeal eyes, we must have them pure and clean. “Do you desire to see God?” says St Austin, ‘take care first to purify your heart, and cast out of it whatsoever is displeasing to Him.’ “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.” (Matt v. 8.)

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