1. The gift of infused contemplation is given to the believer to quick and accelerate, to make steady, their surrender to Divine Revelation and to the magisterium of the Catholic Church.


  1. The hallmark of authentic spiritual experience is not the fervor or intensity of the experience itself, but rather the fruit it produces. Does it lead to obedience to the Church and to legitimate authorities? Does obedience lead to a docile spirit that is able to love unconditionally


  1. Cultivating stillness allows us to be available to Holy Spirit and to our neighbor.


  1. As Cassian explains, purity of heart is the proximate goal of the spiritual life. The ultimate goal is heaven.


  1. Purity of heart indicates a radical availability to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and a spirit of communion which takes shape within the visible structures of the Church.


  1. Purity of heart indicates those intentional efforts (asceticism) by which one is able to let go of everything that prevents the operation of grace.


  1. The proximate goal can be understood in several senses. In terms of our intentional effort, purity of heart, availability, self-forgetting.


  1. Purity of heart when understood in terms of the activity of God indicates the gift of infused contemplation which becomes the touchstone of discernment.


  1. Infused contemplation imprints on one’s consciousness a kind of still point by which the motions of the heart are able to be discerned with greater intuition.


  1. Another name for infused contemplation is the experience of unconditional love (which can only take place through the action of grace).


  1. Our deepening experience of God’s presence is by means of faith, hope, and love.


  1. Discernment moves from the surface into the heart. From discursive reasoning to a more intuitive and immediate grasp of the Holy Spirit’s movements in the heart.


  1. Discernment must always take place within the context of communion; through the visible structures of legitimate authority.


  1. One hallmark of an authentic working of the Holy Spirit is a movement towards self-forgetting which paradoxically produces a kind of interior confidence.


  1. Obedience indicates that preference of God’s will over our own, and this in turn leads us to a willing acceptance of rightful authority.


  1. Obedience does not destroy discernment, but rather grounds it in communion.


  1. The rules of discernment and suitable spiritual exercises are a guide which help the believer move from “the head to the heart.”


  1. We move from the mindfulness of emotional and psychological experiences to a more intuitive grasp of the inner workings of grace in the heart.


  1. Mindfulness leads to greater stillness and availability to the Holy Spirit.


  1. Through a practice of pure prayer, one enters the heart and learns to rest in the inner sanctuary therein.


  1. When one returns from this deeper form of prayer, the other faculties of the human person work with greater liberty and flow.


  1. The heart is the sanctuary wherein the mind and body rest and inner workings of grace have their opportunity to work.


  1. Through the inner concentration that is acquired through dwelling in the heart, one is able to discover a wellspring of vitality.


  1. The monks of the desert where able to hold their attention within the heart and this allowed them to go without sleep for a time.


  1. By keeping our attention within our heart, we are able to open whole new vistas of vitality and creativity.


  1. Inner concentration is the key to warding off temptation.


  1. One must cultivate mindfulness in order to see the roots of sin.


  1. After the roots of sin have been considered under the light of the Holy Spirit, one comes to knowledge and is able to discern the different motions of the heart.


  1. Warding off temptations with inner concentration is not the same as repression.


  1. Repression indicates areas of sin which have not be properly processed and addressed under the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit.


  1. Repression leads to rigidity and severity; inner concentration to tenderness and gentleness.
  2. Repression chokes love, inner concentration allows natural love to be infused with divine love.


  1. I call inner concentration that art of dwelling continuously in the heart.


  1. There are three aspects to our awareness. There is an awareness of our surface emotions and the physical sensations which accompany them. There is an awareness of our interior life, i.e. our psychology. Finally, there is an awareness of the inner workings of grace in the heart.


  1. By cultivating stillness in the body and in the mind, we are able to bring our attention into the heart.


  1. Healing of memories is a powerful tool to help cultivate stillness in one’s interior life and to help prepare the way for inner concentration.


  1. Inner concentration is not the same as infused contemplation. Inner concentration indicates our active efforts by which we are able to gather ourselves in the heart. Infused contemplation is a gift of grace. Infused contemplation and existential suffering can help us to cultivate inner concentration by teaching our gaze to rest in the heart.


  1. Infused contemplation and existential suffering are two sides of the same coin. Through cycles of consolation and desolation experienced in the heart, the eyes of faith are drawn past surface realities into spiritual realities.


  1. As St. Thomas Aquinas explains, the mission of the Trinity is to draw believers from visible to invisible realities.


  1. Thinking in the flesh indicates when we fail to realize the distinction between natural and spiritual realities. In the beginning, we look for experiences in religion that satisfy our natural desires. In time, we are purified so that we can experience spiritual realities.


  1. The experience of spiritual realities does not indicate a constant state of sweetness or even tranquility of heart.


  1. When we have learned to enter the heart, we still experience cycles of consolation and desolation, but now these cycles lead us to inner concentration.


  1. As we dwell within the heart, the focus of our interior gaze gently brings the working of the mind in harmony with the gentle rhythms of the heart. We learn to process stress and fatigue by moving into the sensations themselves and allowing them to evaporate.


  1. The more we are able to “see” what is taking place within without hasty generalizations and intricate lines of reasoning, the more the disorders of the heart tend to evaporate under the purifying light of the Holy Spirit. In the beginning, we must approach the heart by means of approximations such as the imagination and discursive reasoning.


  1. Dwelling in the heart does not necessarily “eliminate” or rid us of thoughts or the working of the mind. In a certain sense, the mind and body is not eliminated in this inner concentration, but rather fulfilled. At times, the faculties may rest and when they reawaken, that have a renewed energy and vitality.


  1. Through unknowing, the mind and body rest in a kind of spiritual sleep that rejuvenates them for the sake of obedience. Through knowing and the active pondering of Divine Revelation, the mind is nourished so that it can operate according to Divine reason.


  1. The believer will experience the gift of infused contemplation at times in order to teach inner concentration and in order to stir in the imagination a desire for holiness. At other times, the believer will experience a kind of existential suffering in which the only escape is to enter into the heart and allow one’s self to be crucified with Christ.


  1. Prayer without ceasing indicates how through inner concentration, the Divine presence encountered in the heart begins to overflow into all aspects of the believer. The fire of Divine love so takes hold of the believer that all the faculties burn with this hidden vitality.


  1. To help cultivate inner concentration, one should cultivate stillness in one’s body, one’s interior life, moral stillness, and finally in the heart.


  1. In terms of cultivating stillness in the body, there are several avenues of physical exercise which can be worked in different combinations depending on the person. There is control of the breath (and thus the gentle guidance of the heart), there is stretching, there is strengthening, and there is endurance/ cardio-vascular.


  1. The goal of exercise is to nourish the body, strengthen it, and release tensions.


  1. There are also fasting and vigils which help educate the body and the passions.


  1. To cultivate stillness in one’s interior life, one must learn to discern the different movements of the heart so as to reject the thoughts that come from desolation and to embrace the thoughts that come from consolation.


  1. Ignatius of Loyola’s rules of discernment are an integral guide in this.


  1. The thoughts that come from desolation can be seen as thought traps. Using a combination of spirituality and sound psychology, we must learn to overcome and counteract thought traps.


  1. Releasing tensions in one’s interior life and in one’s body frees up the human person. Often, negative patterns of thinking, feeling, and desiring lead to exhaustion and chokes devotion. Healing of memories and cultivation of right thinking allows for greater energy.


  1. Releasing tensions in the body is tied to one’s interior life. The two are interconnected.


  1. The cultivation of stillness in the body is an integral component of a renewed asceticism. It involves stretching, strengthening, and endurance which frees the body and mind.


  1. Mastery of the breath helps to guide one’s interior life. Mastery of the breath is accomplished through gentle exploration and spiritual insight.


  1. To explore the breath and to learn to gently guide and educate the thoughts connected with the breath and the beating of the heart, one can imagine the breath as a symbol of prayer. On the inhale, one can imagine receiving the fullness of Christ’s love, and on the exhale surrendering everything with complete abandonment.


  1. Through a non-judgmental awareness of one’s body and its connection with one’s interior life, one cultivates stillness in the midst of suffering and learns to take refuge in the heart.


  1. When confronted with suffering, it is helpful to cultivate thoughts of gentleness and patience, saying to one’s self in the inner sanctuary of the heart those inspirations which help us to look past the moment. Of course, such self-talk should always be done in the light of Divine Revelation and in communion with the Holy Spirit.


  1. Suffering can either open us up to the promptings of the Holy Spirit or it can entrap us in cycles of negativity and self-criticism. Offering up one’s suffering indicates that movement of the heart in which we direct our suffering towards the still point of Christ’s love.


  1. It is when our suffering opens us to the gentle working of the Holy Spirit that we live in the light of the Divine Revelation and in the science of saints. The saints praise suffering when it moves us towards greater faith, hope, and love. When suffering turns us in ourselves, much is lost.


  1. Methods of meditation, guided reflections, and other aids which are common may be helpful in the beginning, but one should learn to relate to the Lord in a more spontaneous and intuitive form of communion.


  1. Dwell in the heart and one will be able to ward off a multitude of attacks. Dwell in the heart, and one will see attacks in their most primal of beginnings.


  1. By dwelling in the heart, one will learn to ward off all manner of fears and anxieties, always mindful that an attack has been successfully thwarted when the result is gentleness, peace, warmth, a kind of playful heart that rests in the moment.


  1. Some people dwell on the surface of reality, and as a result their spirituality likewise is very sensual. Some people dwell in their thoughts, and their spirituality is very analytical. Both these kinds of understandings of the spiritual life are what St. Paul describes as being in the flesh. The saints dwell in the heart, and their religion is pure and spiritual.


  1. Often, unhelpful labels and hasty language can thwart us from dwelling in the heart. However, we have to be careful. We always remain incarnate beings that will continue to think and ponder reality. By peering into the heart, the saint sees those inspirations which align with the inner working of grace and those inspirations which are the work of the enemy. Remember, the devil is also able to use pious ideas and scripture.


  1. The saint practices constant discernment, learning to judge each moment in relation to the still point of Christ’s unconditional love.


  1. When we are in the flesh, we are quick to attach labels to our experience. Instead of peering into the sensations themselves, we are quick to say, “I am tired” or other such things. While such descriptions can be accurate, they are often unhelpful and incomplete. In addition, they can often lead us down paths of toxic thinking which keep us from dwelling in the heart.


  1. Chaotic and erratic thinking prevent us from cultivating inner concentration. This in turns overflows into sinful actions. Remember, sin starts in the heart.


  1. True happiness is achieved by learning to dwell in the heart. This happiness is a foreshadowing of the delights of heaven and preparation for the life to come.


  1. Dwelling in the heart thwarts the illusions of the ego. We learn to forget ourselves by seeking God with complete abandonment, and this gives us incredible energy to love our neighbors and to accomplish all manner of great things.


  1. One cannot learn to enter into the heart until one embraces the Cross. One must be willing to suffer to discover pure prayer.


  1. There are several ideas which I consider synonymous: Ceaseless prayer, recollection, inner concentration, dwelling in the heart. It’s as if the free gift of Christ’s love is like a silent melody that plays constantly in the background. These ideas circle around a gentle listening to that sweet melody.


  1. Repentance at its most fundamental sense indicates a return to the heart, a return to the still point of Christ’s presence. In this sense, everyone is in need of on-going conversion because everyone eventually begins to turn away from the Lord and towards the gravity of this world.


  1. Christ’s love is like the gravity of the sun, and the allurements of this world like the gravity of the earth. Of course, the pull of the sun is greater than that of the earth, but we do not understand this until we have been detached from the gravity of the earth.


  1. By virtue of our Baptism, we are given the fullness of divine life and in a sense, we are given the means to recognize the still point of Christ’s presence. Along these lines, our path of transformation involves a gradual removal of all the disorders and attachments which prevent us from unleashing the grace of our Baptism.


  1. The naturally skilled and talented people of the world often have a hard time undergoing the deeper purification of the Holy Spirit. For them, they are so accustomed to relying on their own will and effort that they are unable to let go of their natural inclinations and embrace the promptings of the Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus praise the poor and lowly for they are much more apt at surrendering to the inner workings of grace.


  1. When one has attained inner concentration, then the light of Christ radiates out into every thought and action. Such a person is “energized by the Holy Spirit” as the Eastern Fathers explain.


  1. To quicken one’s entrance into the heart, one should ponder continuously on the theological virtues (faith, hope, and love) and allow them and the Our Father to be the focus of their desires.


  1. By mastering one’s breathing, one is able to influence and guide one’s interior life.


  1. The mastery of the breath is best done by gentle exploration and gentle experimentation.


  1. While exploring the breath and the thoughts which arise with the different sensations of the body, one should be attentive to the heart beat and to other sensations in the body.


  1. By being attentive to disordered sensations in the body and the desolations which accompany them, these disturbances often evaporate under investigation.


  1. To explore one’s experience involves an abnegation in which one must learn to look past convenient labels.


  1. The mastery of the breath and the investigation of experience is an integral part of a renewed asceticism.


  1. One must constantly play with analytical and intuitive modes of thinking. This allows the believer to investigate their experience with a sense of gentleness which thwarts the attacks of the enemy.


  1. The still point of Christ’s love is the compass which guides the exploration of experience.


  1. Often, we grow more by means of suffering than we do by means of infused contemplation.


  1. Paradoxically, desiring and embracing existential suffering will make us more available to receive infused contemplation.


  1. Suffering purifies our intentions and strengthens our inner concentration. Existential suffering is like a loud gong which awakens and sharpens our focus.


  1. Existential suffering becomes like a secret teacher which infuses into our hearts a wisdom that cannot be readily expressed in words.


  1. Blessed are those who mourn… I think this can be understood as those who allow themselves to feel deep disorders of sin in the heart; those who embrace existential suffering.


  1. There is a constant movement of turning into the heart through unknowing and investigation, and then with a renewed vision gazing upon one’s life and one’s decisions. This going into the heart and then going out into the world is the ebb and flow of continuous discernment.


  1. By drawing one’s gaze into the heart, fasting becomes a particularly powerful way of learning to look past momentary discomfort and discovering the still point of Christ’s love.


  1. Fasting accompanied by the exploration of one’s experience (i.e. mindfulness, etc.) helps one to enter into the heart and dwell their with vigilance.


  1. Vigils likewise teach the believer the heart of dwelling in the heart in ceaseless prayer.


  1. Like fasting, vigils are beneficial when they are accompanied by the exploration of one’s experience.


  1. This art of learning to dwell in the heart in the midst of vigils and fasting is not something that comes immediately and/ or easy. One must give time and practice to such disciplines similar to learning how to do physical exercise.


  1. Over time, one builds up a reservoir of endurance in terms of vigils and fasting.


  1. Vigils, fasting, and physical exercise train the body and the mind, helping to cultivate stillness.


  1. The mark of true asceticism is a gentle, tender, loving spirit that is available to God and neighbor.


  1. The hallmark of a false asceticism is rigidity, anger, violence, and all manner of harsh words and looks.


  1. Participating in the unconditional love of Jesus Christ is the hallmark of holiness.


  1. In time, there is a convergence between our will and God’s will. This convergence takes place when we learn to practice perfect self-forgetting.


  1. Perfect self-forgetting is another way of saying conversion or repentance. The saint learns to practice on-going conversion and thus has learned to perfect repentance.


  1. Spiritual freedom indicates our moving with and in cooperation with the promptings of the Holy Spirit.