Fr. Andrea Gasparino from Cuneo, Italy is famous for his teachings on prayer, which he has been holding for more than 40 years. He teaches the prayer of silence and of the heart, and has always called himself an enemy of oral prayer. In the following interview, held on Radio Maria, the Father clarifies some doubts.
“Without contemplation of mysteries Rosary is lifeless”
Q. I pray the Rosary every day, but I don’t know if I pray with my mouth or heart, for at times my prayer is arid.
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A. You need to change your prayer, for when you truly pray, as Our Lady wishes, your life changes. The Rosary is a typically oral prayer unless you work at it. Paul VI, in his encyclical “Marialis Cultus” (no. 47) said: “Unless it is a contemplative prayer it is a lifeless corpse”. Your Rosary is worth little if it is not contemplative prayer. So when you recite the Rosary take time over the mystery and see if there is something practical you can do. At each mystery ask Our Lady for light. Try reading the mystery as it is told in the Gospel, because just simply announcing it does little for you. Take a little longer to meditate the Rosary, then fix your attention on a word of the “Hail Mary.” For example, when you say “pray for us sinners now,” stop at the word “now” and you will understand that perhaps in that moment you need to forgive, or line up your will with that of the Father’s, or correct something in your behaviour. So fix your attention on one of the words from the prayer and you will see how the Rosary will convert you. Rather than say many Rosaries, say a briefer one, but the way Our Lady wishes, so as to communicate with her. It might happen that half way through you realize you have yet to communicate with her, that your thoughts are miles away; so wake up and say, “I want to communicate with Our Lady,” and fix your attention on a few words. This is the real Rosary.
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Prayer of listening must change us
Q. I pray often, but I cannot reach true communion with God. I tend to speak to God, so I do not use prayer of silence.
A. It is easier to speak with God than to listen to Him, but remember that what you have to say to Him is less important, because He already knows everything. To the contrary, what He has to say to you is very important. Each time you pray stop for a lengthy pause of silence to put yourself in God’s presence. Think of Him, the Holy Trinity, present in you and ask Him: “Lord what do you want to say to me today?” Help yourself a lot with the Word of God, the Gospel. Ask for example, “What do you want to tell me today about charity, my duties, or the way I take Communion?” If you do not receive an immediate answer, remember that the Lord always speaks in a veiled manner: the wait strengthens our faith and humbleness. If your question is straightforward, the reply will come, perhaps during the day. Practise the prayer of listening. Ask the Lord every day to give you the grace to be able to pray, to know how to listen to Him, and repeat: “It doesn’t matter what I want, it only matters what You want,” and a flower, the most beautiful one, will blossom from your prayer.
Q. I belong to a Charismatic Group, but the prayer is lengthy, confused and there is a lot of gesticulation.
A. Prayer must be contact with God. Ask yourself after prayer in the group if you communicated with God, heart to heart. You probably won’t have, because of the environment. It is good to participate in community prayer, but remember that first you need to communicate with Him in the secrecy of your heart. To pray well in the group you should get used to praying for half an hour each day with prayer of silence. Without personal prayer everything is arid. All that crying out does not remove your faults; it doesn’t let you descend into your conscience. You have to descend into your conscience and listen well to what God wants from you, and you can only do this with the prayer of silence. With personal prayer your participation in the group will be sincere and real.
Q. I pray a lot, but I have the habit of naming people and their problems one by one to God to ask for His help.
A. You need not worry about that because God does not need information, however, it is good that you care and implore the Holy Spirit upon others so that He can act in them. It is a good thing when you pray in particular for another person to ask the Lord, for instance, what you can do for them, so that your prayer is concrete.
Q. My life is concentrated on God, but I cannot pray the way you suggest.
A. It is good to communicate with God all day long through your work and your encounters with other people. The important thing is that you communicate profoundly with God every day. Do not pray only while you work. You must listen to God and give a part of your day to Him; at least half an hour. You must say: “my prayer is put to good if I listen to God.” You need to understand what the Lord asks of you at home and at work.