In light of Etheldreda's wonderful posts on Doctors of the Church I'll re-post this.
I've always had problems with Ignatian Spiritual Exercises & Cassian-type 'emptying-prayer' but in the meditations from St Framcis de Sales's "Introduction to the Devout Life" even a lowly stumbler like myself can find refuge...
FIRST MEDITATION. Of Creation.
1. PLACE yourself in the Presence of God.
2. Ask Him to inspire your heart.
Considerations.1. Consider that but a few years since you were not born into the world, and your soul was as yet non-existent. Where wert thou then, O my soul? the world was already old, and yet of thee there was no sign.
2. God brought you out of this nothingness, in order to make you what you are, not because He had any need of you, but solely out of His Goodness.
3. Consider the being which God has given you; for it is the foremost being of this visible world, adapted to live eternally, and to be perfectly united to God’s Divine Majesty.
Affections and Resolutions.
1. Humble yourself utterly before God, saying with the Psalmist, O Lord, I am nothing in respect of Thee—what am I, that Thou shouldst remember me? O my soul, thou wert yet lost in that abyss of nothingness, if God had not called thee forth, and what of thee in such a case?
2. Give God thanks.
O Great and Good Creator, what do I not owe Thee, Who didst take me from out that nothingness, by Thy Mercy to make me what I am?
How can I ever do enough worthily to praise Thy Holy Name, and render due thanks to Thy Goodness?
3. Confess your own shame.
But alas, O my Creator, so far from uniting myself to Thee by a loving service, I have rebelled against Thee through my unruly affections, departing from Thee, and giving myself up to sin, and ignoring Thy Goodness, as though Thou hadst not created me.
4. Prostrate thyself before God.
O my soul, know that the Lord He is thy God, it is He that hath made thee, and not thou thyself.
O God, I am the work of Thy Hands; henceforth I will not seek to rest in myself, who am nought.
Wherein hast thou to glory, who art but dust and ashes?
How canst thou, a very nothing, exalt thyself?
In order to my own humiliation,
I will do such and such a thing,
—I will endure such contempt:
—I will alter my ways
and henceforth follow my Creator,
and realise that I am honoured by His calling me to the being He has given;
I will employ it solely to obey His Will, by means of the teaching He has given me, of which I will inquire more through my spiritual Father.
1. Thank God.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and praise His Holy Name with all thy being, because His Goodness called me forth from nothingness, and His Mercy created me.
O my God, I offer Thee with all my heart the being Thou hast given me, I dedicate and consecrate it to Thee.
O God, strengthen me in these affections and resolutions. Dear Lord, I commend me, and all those I love, to Thy neverfailing Mercy.
At the end of your meditation linger a while, and gather, so to say, a little spiritual bouquet from the thoughts you have dwelt upon, the sweet perfume whereof may refresh you through the day.