THE PRAYER OF QUIET
AS EXPLAINED BY FR. REGINALD GARRIGOU-LAGRANGE, O.P.
IN THE THREE AGES OF THE INTERIOR LIFE, PART III
In sweet quiet, which corresponds to the second way of watering, that is, with the pump, "the will alone is captivated" (10) by the living light that manifests the sweet presence of God in us and His goodness. At this moment the gift of piety, which is in the will itself, disposes it to an entirely filial affection toward God. This state has been compared to that of a little child who relishes the milk given it. Or better, it is like the springing up of the living water which Jesus spoke of to the Samaritan woman. "The other fountain ... receives the water from the source itself, which signifies God ... We experience the greatest peace, calm, and sweetness in the inmost depths of our being . ... The whole physical part of our nature shares in this delight and sweetness. . . . They [the celestial waters] appear to dilate and enlarge us internally, and benefit us in an inexplicable manner, nor does even the soul itself understand what it receives." (11)
However, in this state, the intellect, the memory, and the imagination are not yet captivated by the divine action. Sometimes they are the auxiliaries of the will and are occupied in its service; at other times their cooperation serves only to trouble it. Then, says St. Teresa, the will should "take no more notice of the understanding (or imagination) than it would of an idiot." (12)
This sweet quiet, called also the prayer of divine tastes or of silence, is, moreover, often interrupted by the aridities and trials of the night of the senses, (13) by temptations which oblige the soul to a salutary reaction. The effects of the prayer of quiet are greater virtue, especially greater love of God and ineffable peace, at least in the higher part of the soul. (14)
The prayer of quiet described by St. Teresa in the fourth mansion has three distinct phases: (1) passive recollection, which is a sweet and loving absorption of the will in God by a special grace; (2) quiet, properly so called, in which the will is captivated by God, whether it remains silent or prays with a sort of spiritual transport; (3) the sleep of the powers, when, the will remaining captive, the understanding ceases to discourse and is itself seized by God, although the imagination and the memory continue to be disturbed. (15)
The conduct to be observed in the prayer of quiet is that of humble abandonment in the hands of God. No effort should be made to place oneself in this state, which can come only from a special grace of the Holy Ghost, who at times inclines the soul to a loving silence, at others to affections which gush forth as from a spring. If the understanding and imagination wander, the soul must not be disturbed about it, or go in search of them; the will should remain and enjoy the favor it receives, like a wise bee in the depths of its retreat. (16)
10. The Way of Perfection, chap. 31.
11. The Interior Castle, fourth mansion, chap. 1.
12. The Way of Perfection, chap. 31; The Interior Castle, fourth mansion, chap. I.
13. The Way of Perfection, chaps. 34, 38; The Interior Castle, loc. cit.
14. Life, by herself, chap. 15.
15. Ibid., chap. 17.
16. Cf. St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God, Bk. VI, chap. 10.
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