The Prayer of Quiet is regarded by all writers on mystical theology as one of the degrees of contemplation. It has to be distinguished therefore from meditation and from affective prayer. It holds an intermediary place between the latter and the prayer of union. As the name implies the prayer of quiet is that in which the soul experiences an extraordinary peace and rest, accompanied by delight or pleasure in contemplating God as present. In this prayer God gives to the soul an intellectual knowledge of His presence, and makes it feel that it is really in communication with Him, although He does this in a somewhat obscure manner. The manifestation increases in distinctness, as the union with God becomes of a higher order. This mystic gift cannot be acquired, because it is supernatural. It is God Himself who makes His presence felt in the inmost soul. The certain sight of God therein obtained is not the same as the light of faith, though it is founded upon faith. The gift of wisdom is especially employed in this degree, as it is in every degree of contemplation. According to Scaramelli the office of this gift, at least to a certain extent, is to render God present to the soul and so much the more present as the gift is more abundant. Some authors say that this is not to be understood of the ordinary gift of wisdom which is necessarily connected with sanctifying grace and is possessed by every just man, but of wisdom as one of the charismata or extraordinary graces of the Holy Ghost, specially granted to privileged souls.
The prayer of quiet does not entirely impede the exercise of the faculties of the soul. The will alone remains captive. The intellect and memory appear to have greater activity for the things of God in this state, but not so much for worldly affairs. They may even escape the bounds of restraint and wander on strange and useless thoughts, and yet the will, attracted by the charm of the Divine presence, continues its delights, not wholly in a passive way, but capable of eliciting fervent affections and aspirations. As to the bodily senses St. Francis de Sales tells us that persons during the prayer of quiet can hear and remember things said near them; and, quoting St. Teresa, he observes that it is a type of superstition to be so jealous of our repose as to refrain from coughing, and almost from breathing for fear of losing it. God who is the author of this peace will not deprive us of it for unavoidable bodily motions, or even for involuntary wanderings of the imagination. The spiritual fruits are:
ST. TERESA, The Way of Perfection; IDEM, The Interior Castle; ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS, The Dark Night of the Soul; IDEM, Ascent of Mount Carmel; ST. FRANCIS DE SALES, Treatise on the Love of God; POULAIN, The Graces of Interior Prayer (London, 1910).
APA citation. (1911). Prayer of Quiet. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved April 26, 2010 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12608b.htm
MLA citation. "Prayer of Quiet." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 26 Apr. 2010 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12608b.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Paul T. Crowley. Dedicated to Mother Mary Francis, PCC, Mother Abbess, Poor Clare Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Roswell, NM, and, Mrs. Frances Martini, OCDS.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
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