Father Adrian van Kaam (1920-2007) ON PRAYER

[This is the fourth of a series of posts featuring a saint, mystic, or writer to include some of their thoughts on prayer as well as a prayer written by or ascribed to him or her.
Adrian van Kaam… was a Dutch Catholic priest, …a college professor, existentialist psychologist, writer on formative spirituality and co-founder of the Epiphany Institute]

We can only learn how to pray by praying.

At times we got so wrapped up in words
about prayer that we forgot to pray.
The turn to transcendence made us aware
that without the experience itself of prayer
the words do not mean much to us.
We realize that not everything
about prayer can be put into words.

There is a unity between doing the works of God
and being listened to by Him when we pray.
In some way, it is really the same:
to do the works of God and to have our prayers answered.
Our prayers will be answered because we are doing daily the works of God.
And we do the works of God because our prayers are answered.

The transcendent knowing of God in prayer…
is making room in myself
for an experience of His loving presence
deep within me and all around me.

A Prayer by Fr. Adrian VanKaam
you want me to learn from you
gentleness of heart.
No matter how I fail you,
your gentleness never fails me.
You are slow to anger;
your kindness is without limit.
You tell me not to be distressed,
to make your gentleness my own
so that my soul may find rest.
Give me the wisdom to make time in my day
for a gentle nursing of my soul.
Free me from arrogance,
from goals too sublime for me.
Still and quiet my soul
as a mother quiets the little ones on her lap.
Free me from the need for achievement.
Make my life less forceful, more gentle,
centered in you alone.
Let the splendor of your presence
light up my everydayness.
Make me a smooth channel for the outflow
of your Divine Will in this world.

Link to Epiphany Institute   http://www.epiphanyassociation.org


About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
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2 Responses to Father Adrian van Kaam (1920-2007) ON PRAYER

  1. Elizabeth D says:

    Having come into contact with various books by Fr Adrian van Kaam, my impression is that he was creating a kind of synthesis of psychology, various contemporary ideas of human development and education, and spiritual direction, with the emphasis not always actually on spiritual direction in the traditional sense. I have seen van Kaam’s writings referenced by some authors I respect, but perhaps I don’t entirely “get” what he was trying to do, and have not personally found much help or nourishment in these books, I don’t feel like I’ve encountered in them much of a call to holiness. I visited the Epiphany Institute website once and the impression on me was that the Epiphany Institute is the kind of place where the chapel has chairs and no kneelers.

  2. Rhonda Mannino says:

    Actually, there are kneelers. Not pews, but that wonderful invention, the chair with a kneeler for the person sitting behind one. Van Kaam and Susan Muto’s work is ROOTED deeply in the Masters of holiness; the Saints. Therese of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, etc. I am sorry you don’t “get” that Holiness comes from union with the Holy Trinity. But if I just ‘contact’ (ed) his books, or “encountered” them, I might not ‘get’ the call to Holiness either. Encounters are for persons, and contact is for persons, books are read pondered and discussed. Maybe you were looking for something to buy, or collect, though one could approach the Association that way. Better than that, like the Wise Men of the Epiphany, one should not return the way they came. Maybe you should make a visit there. : )

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