On Prayer and the Magisterium

Father J. Castellano Gives an Overview

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ANCONA, Italy, DEC. 5, 2005 (Zenit.org).- In a congress on mysticism, a priest pointed up the concern of the Holy See’s magisterium for prayer.

«In the course of history there have been few authoritative interventions of the magisterium on this topic, said Discalced Carmelite Father Jesús Castellano Cervera. He noted, however, a shift that started in 1989.

The Spanish priest noted three key documents that illustrate the link between prayer and the magisterium.

He cited «Orationis Formas,» the Oct. 15, 1989, letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a document he contributed to. He also cited the fourth section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Pope John Paul II’s letter «Novo Millennio Ineunte.»

For Father Castellano, the «Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation,» or «Orationis Formas,» must be taken into account in order to understand the «criteria to guide Catholic faithful in the face of the new methods of meditation, as is the case of the techniques of the religious East.»

Von Balthasar

In his address on Saturday to the congress on «Christian Mystical Experience, Non-Christian Mysticism and New Religiosity in the West,» Father Castellano, a professor at the Teresianum in Rome, revealed details about the development of this document.

«After several re-elaborations the text remained essentially as the fruit of the mind and style of Hans Urs von Balthasar, with suggestions from other experts,» he explained.

The text tries to clarify what is specific about Christian meditation, given the invasion and fascination of some Eastern meditation techniques.

For Father Castellano, it is important to highlight the originality of Christian prayer linked to the structure and content of Christian revelation, as well as «the criteria to guide an authentic exercise of Christian meditation which involves the whole person praying, including his body and feelings.»

«It was not a letter censuring or condemning the well-integrated Eastern methods in the Christian praxis of meditation,» he said. Rather, it is a document that offers «doctrinal criteria for an authentic guide and for the discernment of current praxis of meditation.»

An awakening

According to this consultor of several Vatican dicasteries, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, «The Eastern techniques applied to Christian prayer have cause an awakening of Christian meditation itself.»

In the congress on mysticism, organized by the East-West Center of Studies, the expert in spirituality pointed out that the East has contributed to Christian prayer «an appreciation of silence, greater attention to the body in prayer which leads to a sensitivity for harmonious integration and openness to a spiritual guide.»

Father Castellano added that «Christian prayer is meditation which tends to communion, not fusion, with the Triune God.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation