St. Teresa of Avila’s Five Steps of Meditation

We have outlined five general steps in St. Teresa’s method of meditation:

1. Preparation: It is difficult to launch into prayer from the midst of a flurry of distracting occupations. Almost all of us are forced to pause momentarily and place ourselves before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, or God as He resides in the soul. A good beginning is half the battle.

2. Selection of the Material: Having reminded oneself of Christ’s presence, one is next obliged to select a subject for the day’s conversation. This is ordinarily best done by reading from some book suited for meditation, preferably the Gospels. Or it may be accomplished by the study of a picture or statue of Our Lord.

3. The Consideration: After Christ’s presence has been recalled and the proper material selected, the individual begins the examination of the day’s matter. In this study of the material, one asks himself the traditional questions: Who is here in this scene? What is He doing? Why is He doing it? What does it mean to me?

4. The Conversation: Now one is prepared to under-take the principal part of meditation, that for which all the preceding steps have been devised. The soul begins to talk slowly to Christ, telling Him of its love for Him, its desire to serve Him, its willingness to do anything for Him. He adores Christ in the scene of the day’s meditation; he expresses his love for Him; thanks Him for past gifts; petitions Him for new favors in the future. When the conversation begins to falter, it will be necessary to return briefly to the consideration to stimulate new thoughts for additional conversation with Christ.

5. The Conclusion: This is an entirely optional step; but we feel it to be of great value in making progress in prayer. Near the close of the meditation period, it would be well for one to tie up the loose ends. Our Lord should be thanked for the graces received during the time of prayer now coming to a conclusion. Then, very briefly, one might examine his failings during the period, and promise to eradicate these in the future. This determination to hold better conversation with Christ in succeeding periods gives one a strong determination to make further strides along the road of prayer. And with this burst of enthusiasm and promise for the future, the day’s prayer is concluded.

This method is contractible; it can be used for a five-minute or an hour’s meditation. Of course, in the longer meditation, it will be necessary to repeat steps three and four a number of times during the period. But one of its major advantages is that it can be employed during a short visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or in a long, formal period of meditation. It is entirely pliable.

The modern, twenty-first-century man is completely unaccustomed to the rarefied air of the interior life, and will certainly wander and stumble if he does not possess an outline to follow. If one begins prayer with this methodical procedure, he can be sure to make progress.

This article is taken from a chapter in Conversation With Christ  which is available from TAN Books.



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