It is in prayer that one finds God. There are three schools, that is, three types of prayer, without which one does not find God. These are bodily, mental, and supernatural.

Bodily prayer takes place with the sound of words and bodily movements such as genuflections. I never abandon this type of prayer. For sometimes when I want to devote myself to mental prayer, I am impeded by my laziness or my sleepiness. So I turn to bodily prayer, which leads to mental prayer.

It should be done with attention. For instance, when you say the Our Father, you should weight carefully what you are saying. Do not run through it, trying to complete a certain  number of them, like little ladies doing piece work.

Prayer is mental when meditating on God so occupies the soul that one thinks of nothing but God. If some other thought comes to mind I no longer call such prayers mental. Such prayer curbs the tongue and renders one speechless.

The mind is so totally filled with God’s presence that it cannot think or speak about anything except about God and in God. From mental prayer, then, we move on to supernatural prayer.

I call prayer supernatural when God, bestowing this gift upon the soul and filling it with his presence, so elevates the soul that it is stretched, as it were, beyond its natural capacities.

In this type of prayer, the soul understands more of God than would seem naturally possible. It knows that it cannot understand, and what it knows it cannot explain, because all that it sees and feels is beyond its own nature.

In these three schools of prayer you come to know who you are and who God is. From the fact that you know, you love. Loving, you desire to possess what you love. And this is the sign of true love: that the one who loves is transformed, not partially, but totally, into the Beloved.

But because this transformation does not go on without interruption, the soul is seized by the desire to seek all the ways by which it can be transformed into the will of the Beloved, so it can return again to the vision.

It seeks what was loved by the Beloved. God the Father provided a way for us to attain this transformation and this way is through the Beloved, that is, through God’s own Son, whom he made the Son of poverty, suffering, contempt, and true obedience.

Angela of Foligno (1248-1309): Selected Writings translated with an introduction by Paul Lachance, OFM (Classics of Western Spirituality series), pp. 286-7


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