Prayer
     

 

Review

 One of the fundamental and most particular topics of Spiritual Theology is the Treatise on Prayer. Prayer is, in essence, a dialogue between God and man, and arises from “the necessity that God has wanted to feel of speaking with us and that we feel to talk to God.” It is rooted in the mystery of the Incarnation, God made man, and in the precept that Christ gave to all his disciples: Pray so you may not fall into temptation.

The great Masters of the Spiritual Life – St. Teresa of Jesus, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Peter of Alcántara, etc, – as well as theologians from the Fathers of the Church through the Middle Ages – St. John Damascene, St. Augustine, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas, etc. – have always expressed, directly or indirectly, their great intuitions on the method of accomplishing this dialogue between God and man.

Works like The Interior Castle (St. Teresa of Jesus), The Itinerary of the Mind to God (St. Bonaventure), Treatise on Prayer (St. Peter of Alcantára), and the well-known Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, to cite only a few of the most representative writings, have been common resources for those who have aspired to a life of friendship with God.

This book, Prayer, is not presented as a Treatise, but as a small vademecum that may be used to recall well-known ideas. Nevertheless, the novelty offered by the author lies in the work’s theological foundation, which has important consequences for pastoral theology, and in its capacity to convince man of the necessity of prayer. The general tendency of Spiritual Theology when considering prayer is to center on the reality of the soul while offering a certain “suspicion against matter,” of Platonic influence that results in, among other things, the annihilation of the senses and the instrumentality of the human nature of Christ (consult the crucial chapter “On Contemplation and Christ’s Humanity” from the same author’s Commentary on the Song of Songs, vol. I, pp 37, ff).    

Prayer  is based on the irrevocable idea that the man who talks to God is a person, with a body and a soul: a human person. And the theory of Love and of the Person that the author unveils in his work Commentaries on the Song of Songs – love as an eminently personal reality: without a plurality of persons there is no love – distances theology and Christian praxis from any shadow of Platonism, any suspicion against matter. The human person loves with his body and soul a God Who because He is Love is a Trinity of Persons. And in this sense, the initial chapters, “The Bases of Prayer” and “Divine-Human Dialogue and Human Communication,” and the final chapter, “On the Paths of Contemplation,” show what is peculiar to the reflections by A. Gálvez on Christian prayer. Here the author shows that the roots of prayer lie in the Trinitarian Mystery, the eternal dialogue between the Father and the Son in the spiration of the Holy Spirit, and in the Mystery of Christ Whose human nature, assumed in the reality of the divine Person, is not in any way merely an instrument for man to reach God, but an immediate reality: Philip, whoever sees me, has seen the Father.  

Published by Shoreless Lake Press, New Jersey, 2002, 114 pages.