Conversation with Christ by Peter Thomas Rohrbach
All of us love to chat with those close to us. We love to share stories, relate what has been happening, ask how our loved ones are, seek advice, and find solace in troubling times. Yet does it ever occur to us to have an intimate conversation with Our Lord? In the very first chapter of Conversation with Christ, written by Peter Thomas Rohrbach, he quotes St. Teresa as saying, "Mental prayer is nothing else than an intimate friendship, a frequent heart-to-heart conversation with Him by Whom we know ourselves to be loved." But is mental prayer necessary? The book answers the question with a quote from Pope Pius XII: "It must be stated without reservation that no other means has the unique efficacy of meditation, and that as a consequence, its daily practice can in no wise be substituted for."
Where to start with meditation? How to keep the conversation going should it lag? Our minds also wander so easily. For those looking to intensify their friendship with Our Lord and advance in the spiritual life by meditation, Conversation with Christ will be an invaluable guidebook. The author explains the great St. Teresa of Avila's method of meditation in a clear and engaging manner.
The reader learns how to go about St. Teresa's method of mental prayer. He covers the general preparation, the immediate preparation, the selection of material, the consideration, the conversation – heart of the meditation, and the conclusion. Knowing that one method does not work for everyone, he also explains variations on the method so each one can get the most out of this precious time with Christ. Especially useful for beginners in meditation, the author has a chapter that demonstrates the regular method of meditation – it is as if you see into the mind of a soul at meditation and what the thoughts and aspirations are.
There are many consoling and comforting truths in Conversation with Christ. In the chapter on the actual conversation part of meditation, we read, "We are to speak frankly and without affectation to Christ. Our Lord, amazingly enough, is exceedingly fond of each one of us, and wishes to meet us face-to-face; the struggle to offer studied thoughts and words to Christ hinders this intimate contact. The published prayers of saints and spiritual writers have a definite value in the spiritual life – they demonstrate the method and outline for conversation with Our Lord. However, Christ would be sorely disappointed were we to hide behind the words of these prayers. Our Blessed Lord wishes us to talk to Him in our own words and with our own expressions, as awkward and as ungrammatical as they may be."
Towards the end of the book we read about recollection, detachment, spiritual reading and progress in meditation. With every section carefully mapped out and clearly explained, meditation will not seem a daunting and impossible task only for monks and nuns. At the end of the book we read this encouraging quote from St. Teresa, "It is a great mercy on the part of God to give to a person the grace and an energetic resolution to tend with all his strength to perfection by means of mental prayer. Let him but persevere and God who refuses nobody will gradually augment his courage so that he will in the end gain the victory."