Being in Love: The Practice of Christian Prayer

By William Johnston | Go to book overview

THREE
Prayer and the Body (2)

I have advised you, Thomas, to train your body for prayer, always remembering that there is an intimate connection between bodily health and spiritual vigour. I recall how, when once I was in deep spiritual crisis, a holy man said to me: “What you need is fresh air, exercise and good food. So take a vacation! Go to the hills or the sea! Walk!” That was good advice which I would gladly pass on to anyone in the throes of the dark night of the soul. Obviously I do not mean that fresh air, exercise and good food will solve all problems. I do mean, however, that the physical is one aspect of the complex phenomenon we call the dark night; and it is an aspect we must not neglect.

Yet life is full of paradox; and in this valley of tears there are broken bodies, lacerated bodies, mangled bodies, tortured bodies, crippled bodies, wasted bodies, starving bodies, bleeding bodies, dying bodies — and strangely enough these broken bodies of ten have more psychic energy than the bodies of the athletes. Indeed, they sometimes abound in that vital energy that Chinese medicine calls chi. This is the life force flowing through the meridians of the body, balancing yin and yang: it is an energy that frequently reaches a climax at the moment of death, when the face of the dying person is transfigured and becomes beautiful beyond all telling.

The praying body is frequently a sick body. Saint Teresa indicates that ordinarily one does not enter the seventh

-27-

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Being in Love: The Practice of Christian Prayer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents 1
  • Preface to the Second Edition 5
  • One - Being in Love 9
  • Two - Prayer and the Body (1) 18
  • Three - Prayer and the Body (2) 27
  • Four - Ways of Praying 35
  • Five - Grades of Prayer 44
  • Six - Prayer in Nature 51
  • Seven - Existential Prayer 56
  • Eight - Quietism 63
  • Nine - Ego, Self, God 69
  • Ten - The Mystery of Jesus 76
  • Eleven - Crisis 82
  • Twelve - Second Journey 90
  • Thirteen - Return to Paradise 100
  • Fourteen - Existential Dread 108
  • Fifteen - Night 115
  • Sixteen - Prayer of Suffering 122
  • Seventeen - Being-In-Love 129
  • Eighteen - Dialogue 140
  • Ninteen - Discernment 148
  • Twenty - Social Consciousness 161
  • Index 167
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