Move from Theoretical Faith to a Lived Faith Implies Crisis, Says Trappist

Spiritual Master Father André Louf Speaks at Milan Center

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MILAN, Italy, SEPT. 26, 2002 ( The move from an intellectual understanding of the faith to a lived experience of it implies a crisis, says a renowned master of prayer.

Father André Louf, 73, abbot of the Mont des Cats Trappist monastery in Belgium until 1998, is the author of best sellers on spirituality. He described the stages of Christian prayer when he addressed a meeting at the Paul VI Center in Milan.

In the context of the «Professorship of Dialogue,» created by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, former archbishop of Milan, and referring to the monastic tradition, Father Louf described three decisive phases in a believer’s prayer: active, passive and unitive.

The second corresponds to the crisis: the night, the desert, described by all spiritual masters. «The step that goes from knowing the faith to wisdom is not taken without a crisis,» the Trappist said.

This author of works that emphasize the action of the Holy Spirit in Christian prayer (such as «Seigneur, apprends-nous à prier» [Lord, Teach Us to Pray] Lumen Vitae, 1975), entered the monastery at 20. His influence is felt throughout Christian circles. His books have been translated into numerous languages.

God takes pedagogic advantage of the moment of crisis, so that the individual abandon the realm of theoretical knowledge of the Word and move to an experiential knowledge of it by the action of the Holy Spirit, Father Louf said.

Then the final phase, the unitive, is entered, when words are superfluous and at times, only one suffices. «This is a love that enters where reason ends,» the Trappist monk explained.

Christianity must communicate this truth, not from what has been learned in books, but from personal experience. «A propagandist can be checked, a witness is irresistible,» Father Louf concluded.

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