I often hear people say they don’t know how to pray, they are plagued with a feeling of guilt, resigning themselves to never having a true relationship with Jesus.
Even those with are not religious would like to know what God has to say, many long to believe, some even say,
“I don’t believe it’s true – but I wish it were’”
Faith is a gift and the Saints tell us,
“You will receive from God according to your faith.”
But how do we get that faith? We must ask God for it and then begin to pray with a feeling of expectancy.
In bygone ages it was common to have a Spiritual Director to guide us in our prayer life but in today’s world, that’s not always possible. As you read these blogs I’ll tell you about some of the best of these and hopefully you’ll go on to buy their books and with their help, develop a profound and deeply meaningful prayer life.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, France was rich in Spiritual Writers – my problem is which of them to choose because there were so many but I would like to introduce you to some of my favourites, one of whom was a French mystic born in 1874 named Gabrielle Bossis who documented her simple talks with Jesus in her journals, intimate conversations. She called it “Lui et Moi” (He and I”) and Daniel Rops, the famous French author and historian, called it one of the most authentic masterpieces of spiritual literature he had ever encountered.
Gabrielle was born in Nantes in France and from being an extremely shy. fearful, little girl, she grew up to be a graceful, high-spirited young lady. From her childhood she possessed a secret yearning for God, which led her into frequent contemplation. When her contemplative life came to the notice of the Franciscan priest who was directing her, he felt convinced that she had a strong vocation to the religious life. Gabrielle resisted his suggestion, preferring, led by an interior guidance, to remain in the world. She obtained a degree in nursing and quite late in life discovered she had another talent, that of writing entertaining and thoroughly moral plays, which at that time were much in demand by Church clubs. Her first play, in which she acted the principal part, was such a success that before long her name became known throughout France and even in far distant countries. On rare occasions in her early life, Gabrielle had been surprised by a mysterious voice, which she felt, with awe, to be the voice of Christ
It was only at the age of 62 while travelling to Canada that this touching dialogue with the inner voice, began in earnest, continuing for fourteen years, until two weeks before her death on June 9th 1950
The journal she began is an extraordinary revelation of the double role she was called upon to play on life’s stage, that of a quiet contemplative, yet exceptionally active woman, exposed to all the hurly burly of every day life in the world. From the word within her, Gabrielle learned of her mission to record and publish what she heard, so that people might know that the life of intimacy with Christ was not reserved for those in cloisters but for every man woman and child no matter what their state in life might be. Her first volume carefully records the sayings of “He and I” and was published anonymously in 1948. She lived to see its phenomenal dissemination, yet no one every guessed the identity of the author. With the ever-increasing demand for more of her notes, a second volume was published which did reveal her identity but so well had she hidden her secret, her friends were utterly astonished when they found out.
The book appealed to people from all walks of life, and across all denominations. An Irish psychiatrist, Mary Hynes, wrote that a woman patient had told her the book had transformed her emotional life and had liberated her from a host of phobic fears. She said, “He and I” had worked, where pills and psychiatry had failed.
Mary went on, “I promptly bought 12 copies of this extraordinary spiritual classic to give to my friends, as a mini-apostolate, keeping my original book of course, as my own great treasure.”
Look out for more on Gabrielle in my next post.