Book Review: Conversation with Christ

Overall: Interesting “how-to” book on prayer and meditation. Points for practicality.

Peter Thomas Rorhbach’s book Conversation with Christ seeks to help the reder understand meditation (and personal prayer) according to St. Theresa of Avila. It is a rather short, practical “how-to” type manual that really lays out clearly not only the utter importance of meditation and personal prayer in the spiritual life, but also gives the reader a concrete example to draw from.

The general outline for practicing meditation includes: a period of preparation, the selection of the material (something to read or a holy picture), consideration, conversation, and conclusion. Preparation mainly consists in placing oneself in the presence of Christ. The selection of the material, either a picture or a book (the various accounts of Our Lord’s Passion from the Gospels are highly recommended) is designed to open the mind and provide direction for the meditation. The consideration consists in asking the main questions: who, what, where, when, how, etc. to reflect upon the material selected. The conversation is really the heart of the meditation where we converse with Christ. The author says in this conversation we ought to employ the affections of love, sorrow, contrition, thanksgiving, petition, etc. towards Our Lord. Lastly, the conclusion consists in thanking Christ for the favors we have received, and examining our success(es)/failure(s), and making a resolution to keep at it and strive for continual and better conversation with Our Lord in the future.

Regarding the necessity of meditation and preparation the author says,

The best over-all preparation for successful meditation is a personal conviction of its importance and a staunch determination to persevere in its practice. Is one has acquired this attitude of mind, he has made a splendid preparation for his meditation.

St. Teresa gives us this important admonition:
It is essential, I maintain, to begin the practice of prayer with a firm resolution to persevere in it.

If one be not convinced of the necessity of meditation in his own life, nor resolved never to omit its daily exercise, he will soon give it up on one pretext or another. Therefore, one should not adopt the practice of meditation with the intention of “giving it a try”; but rather, one must undertake the exercise with a firm belief that it is of the utmost importance that he begin and persevere in it. Our mental attitude towards any enterprise will determine, to a large, extent, our success in it; meditation is no exception.

and later,

Meditation, naturally, consumes time. But this is not time lost; rather, the time expended in meditation aids in the ultimate conservation of time. This is true, first of all, because it places the soul under the direct influence of Christ, Who will then take complete charge of a person’s activities. And, further, the added perspective gained in meditation will enable one to better regulate his life by the separation of the non-essential from the essential. Dom Chautard, in his magnificent book, Soul of the Apostolate, relates this enlightening incident:
One of our great bishops, overburdened with his duties, explained this to a statesmen, who also had too much to do. The latter had asked the bishop the secret of his constant work. “My dear friend,” said the bishop, “add to you other occupations half an hour’s meditation every morning. Not only will you get through your business, but you will find time for still more.”

Finally, St. Peter of Alcantara sums up for us the benefits of meditation in a vibrant passage:
In mental prayer the soul is purified from its sins, nourished with charity, confirmed in faith, and strengthened in hope; the mind expands, the affections dilate, the heart is purified, truth becomes evident; temptation is conquered, sadness dispelled; the senses are renovated; drooping powers revive; tepidity ceases; the rust of vices disappears. out of mental prayer issues forth, like living sparks, those desires of heaven which the soul conceives when inflamed with the fire of divine love. Sublime is the excellence of mental prayer, great are its privileges; to mental prayer heaven is opened; to mental prayer heavenly secrets are manifested and tear of God ever attentive.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review of Conversation with Christ for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

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