Daily meditation was a big step forward for me when I began it the week of Ash Wednesday this year as it really helped to begin the day grounded in the realization of the reality of God's love, God's presence within me, and taking into the day the teachings of the Holy Spirit for me for that day, and the strength that comes from this.
Paraphrasing from The New Advent Encyclopedia :
Recollection is attention to the presence of God in the soul. It includes the withdrawal of the mind from external and earthly affairs in order to attend to God.
Recollection is of two types, Active, that is brought about by our own concentration and is helped by developing prayerful habits, and Passive, that does not depend on our efforts, but is extraordinary grace when God manifests his presence.
I have been blessed to have enjoyed Passive Recollection, and at different times in my life the frequency of this experience is greater.
In Way of Perfection, Chapter 28, St. Teresa of Avila wrote, "However quietly we speak, He is so near that He will hear us: we need no wings to go in search of Him but only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us."
St. Francis de Sales’ has four steps for putting yourself in the presence of God - Active Recollection
He writes that we should not use these techniques all at once, but only one at a time and that briefly and simply.
- [Cultivate] a lively, attentive realization of God’s absolute presence, that is, that God is in all things and all places. There is no place or thing in this world where he in not truly present…Blind men do not see a prince who is present among them, and therefore do not show him the respect they do after being told of his presence. However, because they do not actually see him they easily forget his presence, and haven forgotten it, they still more easily lose the respect and reverence owed to him. Unfortunately, Philothea, we do not see God who is present with us. Although faith assures us of his presence, because we do not see him with our eyes we often forget about him and behave as if God were far distance from us…This is why before praying we must always arouse our souls to explicit thought and consideration of God’s presence…When you prepare to pray you must say with your whole heart and in your heart, “O my heart, my heart, God is truly here!”
- Remember that God is not only in the place where you are but also that he is present in a most particular manner in your heart and in the very center of your spirit. He enlivens and animates it by his divine presence, for he is there as the heart of your heart and the spirit of your spirit. Just as the soul is diffused throughout the entire body and is therefore present in every part of the body but resides in a special manner in the heart, so also God is present in all things but always resides in a special manner in our spirit. For this reason David calls him “the God of his heart,” and St. Paul says that “we live, and move, and are in God.” Therefore in consideration of this truth excite in your heart great reverence toward God who is so intimately present in us.
- Consider how our Savior in his humanity gazes down from heaven on all mankind and particularly on Christians, who are his children, and most especially on those who are at prayer, whose actions and conduct he observes. This is by no means a mere figment of the imagination but the very truth. Although we do not see him, it remains true that from on high he beholds us.
- The fourth method consists in the use of simple imagination when we represent to ourselves the Savior in his sacred humanity as if he were near us, just as we sometimes imagine a friend to be present and say, “I imagine that I see such a one who is doing this or that,” or “I seem to see him” or something similar. If the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is present, the Christ’s presence is real and not purely imaginary. The species and appearance of bread and like a tapestry behind which our Lord is really present and sees and observes us, although we do not see him in his own form.
What advice or experiences of Recollection, Awareness of the Presence of God would you like to share? Please leave a comment, inclusive of posts to your own blog.