A reflection included on page 3 of the introduction of Seeking the One Whom We Love: How RSCJs Pray
Because there are endless possibilities of self-delusion in prayer, Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat offered a few disciplines and safeguards. In her letters to superiors and to directors of formation she often urged them to help those they guided to learn to talk about their prayer, a topic about which there is sometimes a remarkable reticence. On the one hand, some seem incapable of finding words to describe something ineffable and precious; on the other hand, some seem truly apprehensive, perhaps believing “. . . everyone else really knows how to pray while I just muddle along.” Finding a wise mentor or exchanging experiences of prayer with trusted spiritual directors or friends was for Sophie a wonderful learning experience, a testing of the Spirit, a safeguard against various illusions.
The gift of Sophie’s school of prayer is twofold. There is, first, her conviction that prayer is as necessary and as natural to the human heart as breathing in and breathing out; it is a deep desire for union with God, a mutual exchange of love and longing, a relationship unique to each one of us with God. Many spiritual writers say much the same thing. But it is her second gift, her emphasis on interior life, that makes her school of prayer distinctive – her insistence on prayer as a habit of heart, a way of living, a way of relating to others, of using time, of filling the imagination. Interior life is living always with a deep consciousness, even in the midst of great activity, that God is more present to us than we are to ourselves, always drawing us God-ward.
Prayer and the interior life are the two aspects of union with God, two facets of the spiritual life that Sophie hoped would transform the lives of all her followers, all of us who are drawn to her vision and her mission, so that each one might one day say: “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.”