The "Self-Release Prayer" Post I

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The "Self-Release Prayer" Post I

Post by Admin on Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:43 pm

The "Self-Release Prayer"
Post I

"There is Being who is Love who wants us to dwell in his company." -Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Though the phrase "Self-Release Prayer" is not found verbatim in the literature of Christian mysticism, this approach to communion with God has been taught for millennia under many other names, I think. The description of the Prayer and its fruits remains from century to century essentially the same.

To consider this Prayer, we start with the common sense premise that to love someone is to desire our beloved’s presence. So when Jesus says, “Love God with all your heart....”, he would have us cleave to God’s Being here and now. This adhering to God in a simple movement of love is the Self-Release Prayer.

What does this prayer ask for? The highest blessing: awareness of God’s presence.

How is it prayed? By turning away from self (which means letting go of self-absorbed thinking, if even for a moment) in loving openness to God’s immediate presence. Try this now. Let yourself go silent within, and in that state of simple being become aware of God’s silent presence to you.

Silence is our openness to God who beyond thought. And God answers our loving receptivity with a benediction of healing silence.

This is the great secret of the mystics’ sayings--

"God hidden within me. I find Him by hiding in the silence in which He is concealed. (Thomas Merton, Journals)

“If thou goest out of self, God without doubt goeth in” (Blessed Johannes Tauler).

“Empty yourself for the love of God” (Teresa of Avila).

“Go out of what is your own” (Meister Eckhart:).

A matchless description of the Self-Release Prayer comes from the Carmelite contemplative, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906; see photo); here is a paraphrase of it:

Go out of yourself
in order to adhere to God
by a very simple, wholly loving movement
which allows God to imprint Himself on them and
to transform them into Himself.

Certainly it is not wrong to ask God to help us in prayer, even in our smallest concerns. But that is not the purpose of this Prayer. Let us take each part of Elizabeth’s instructions in turn, for it is an eminently practical expression of the contemplative dimension of Christianity.

“Go out of yourself.” It is important to emphasize that Elizabeth’s meaning here is quite specific, lest we conceive her instruction as abstract. We go out of self by dropping unnecessary thoughts, and not filling the interior space that ensues, but wordlessly welcoming transforming stillness-- an expression of God’s immediate presence.

As for unnecessary thoughts-- we have plenty of them every day. Many more than we now think we have, as the Prayer will show us in time. They include negative mental reactions, endless trivia, replayed arguments with absent antagonists, repetitive thoughts, sad daydreams, self-justifications, rationalizations, contradictions, mechanical prejudices, self-deceptions, and, useless worries. As Montaigne said, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which have never occurred.”

Certainly we can do without some of these thoughts. Doing without more would even be better, for such negative thoughts are subreality. St. Augustine observed truly that evil has less metaphysical substance or being than good: that good is rich in being, but evil is a hole in existence, a dire absence in being.
So to let go of such thoughts is really a momentary liberation from subreality, and a welcoming of being-- indeed, Supreme Being. To let go of subreality honors God, for it is an embrace of Being. It is answered by a benediction of transforming Stillness. This silence is a nameless fragrance that carries to the finest dimensions of inner space to incense the meeting court of God and the soul.

This exchange is a secret between ourselves and God-- this cleft we make for Him, this inner valley which knows the misty billows of divine Being.

How to Practice the Self-Release Prayer

This is the Self-Release Prayer:
1. Become aware of a thought or daydream that you can let go of.
2. Let it go, to make a space for God in interior silence.
3. Tend to the flash of Silence that replaces the thought, for it is is an intuitive communion with God. “Grace fills empty spaces but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void” (Simone Weil).

As you see, to enact the Self-Release Prayer takes but a moment, yet its inner Stillness savors of an expansive aesthetic, a beginningless innocence, a hidden eternity. Think of an explorer planting a flag on a new land. The Self-Release Prayer is like that. In the moment we let go of subreality to love Being by a quiet receptivity, the flag of our Sovereign is planted in this moment, here-- planted in the empty space susceptible to God. It is our delight to see the divine banner.


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