Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life – Part 3

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life – Part 3

  by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D

  (text in French published by Le Sel de La Terre)

(continued)

Chapter V The Difficulties of Mental Prayer

1. What are the principal difficulties encountered in mental prayer?

As mental prayer consists in lifting the soul to God, in other words occupying oneself with Him by thought and affection, the difficulties arise in mental prayer from all which hinders or makes more difficult this double application of our soul. With regards to thoughts, there are distractions, with regards to affections there is dryness.

2. What is meant by distraction?

We mean by distraction the intrusion into prayer of thoughts incompatible with the exercise that we are doing. They push us so that we occupy ourselves with something else. This assault of foreign and even contrary thoughts to the recollection of the intelligence with God can take place in two ways willingly or unwillingly. There is a great difference between the two ways

3. What do willful distractions consist of?

Willful distractions consist in the willful introduction or consented acceptance of thoughts which deviate our intelligence from the Divine Object of which it was occupied. In becoming distracted willingly, the soul either stops or interrupts mental prayer. If it is done without a sufficient reason, it is culpable of irreverence towards God. More so than a difficulty, the willful distraction in mental prayer makes it an infidelity. If on the other hand a wondering thought comes and is not accepted, the distraction is said to be involuntary.

4. What are the causes of involuntary thoughts?

We must accept two causes, the first occasional the second natural. The first is made by the impressions of the senses, the second by the intimate tendencies of our nature which engender spontaneously in us images and thoughts. We must distinguish, according to their origin, exterior or interior distractions.

5. Can we avoid distractions in mental prayer?

The exterior distractions can be avoided in a large part by the close watch on our senses and especially in choosing to pray in a surer place, as Our Lord suggests in the Gospel. We will avoid many distractions caused by the eyes in closing them or in fixing them on a religious object or a book of meditation. It is much more difficult to avoid interior distractions.

6. Where does this particular difficulty come from?

The particular difficulty of avoiding interior distractions comes from the spontaneity of the natural tendencies which are at the bottom of our being. They are manifested by the easy apparition of images and thoughts which relate to things we either like or fear. When our attention is fixed on an object of our consideration this interior world bound to these spontaneous tendencies remains more or less in obscurity, but as soon as our attention diminishes they are noticed. Then thoughts and memories appear in our mind which can contrast greatly with the mental prayer that we are doing.

7. Can one avoid interior distractions?

Yes, there is a way, at least in a certain measure, to avoid them either directly or indirectly:

* The direct way to resist the distractions consists in bringing back our attention to the religious topic that we are meditating on, or simply on God making an act of faith or love.

* The indirect way consists in intensifying our spiritual life. In becoming more profound one gains new energy which will reinforce the tendency of our soul towards God counter the natural tendencies which distract us. It should be noted that such a result will not be gained very quickly, but will be the fruit of a long application to the interior life.

8. Are the interior distractions sometimes unavoidable?

Yes, because they are spontaneous. Especially when the soul suffers from the difficulty in fixing its attention interior distractions can be very invading, insistent, and annoying. This difficulty in fixing the attention can come from an accidental cause. It can also come from a habitual disposition, as in the case of certain temperaments, very mobile. If the soul continues to suffer seeing itself distracted, and doing its best to remain attentive to God, these sorrowful distractions far from hurting it, transform it into an instrument of moral perfection and are an occasion of supernatural merit.

9. What is meant by dryness?

Dryness is the suppression of comfort that the soul feels often in the spiritual life, especially in the beginning which follows its conversion to a better life. The soul which recognizes that it possesses a more intense spiritual life has a certain joy because it is a psychological law that one is happy when he knows he possesses a great good. The intense spiritual life does not however consist in this comfort nor receive it. Also it can exist and develop outside all consolation, only because true devotion consists only in promptitude of the will to do the service of God.

10. Is dryness an evil?

The moral quality of dryness depends on the cause which produced it:

* If comfort disappears in the soul but if the resolution to give oneself completely to God remains in the will, far from being an evil, the dryness will be an occasion for good.

* If on the other hand the dryness comes from the weakness of the will it lacks recollection in the spiritual life.

11. Is there blameworthy dryness?

Of course, when they have their source in our infidelity. It can be greater or lesser. The soul called by God to a generous and mortified life who, after corresponding some time to grace, gives itself to look for small human satisfactions is no longer faithful to the invitation of God, and loses its original fervor, and remains weak in the will.

But more unfaithful still is the soul who falls into luke-warmness in committing deliberate venial sins. It is natural that such a soul can no longer forcefully express its love to God, precisely because it is no longer strong. It falls into dryness. The only way to cure the problem is to correct oneself returning to the original generosity.

12. Is there dryness which does not depend on the will?

Without doubt there are. Even the circumstances in which we live in are often occasions of dryness. They can provoke in us a sentiment of discomfort which deprives us of any consolation in the spiritual exercises, physical tiredness, physical problems, worries, small injuries, incomprehensions. All of that signifies for us causes of weight, annoyance, and overwhelming emotions and thoughts, which puts the soul in a sorrowful state where all joy and peace disappear. In this form of dryness the soul must arm itself with patience knowing that in supporting it for the love of God, the soul offers to Him a very agreeable sacrifice which proves its love for Him.

13. Can the dryness come from God?

Definitively, and even in the mentioned ones, we must affirm that it is caused by God since all circumstances in life are arranged by Providence. But sometimes the suppression of comfort that the soul feels in mental prayer is more directly the work of God, and precisely when He makes it impossible for the soul to meditate with the help of the imagination, and to make acts of love as beforehand. It is a common phenomenon to souls after some time of fervent application to mental prayer. St. John of the Cross teaches that by this type of dryness God invites souls to a more simple form of mental prayer that is called an initial contemplation.

14. How must the soul comport itself in this dryness?

The soul must not persist in wanting to continue the meditation as it is often obliged to do. It must, on the contrary, omit it simply and apply itself to remain tranquil in the presence of God looking at Him with a simple regard of faith and wanting to please Him at every moment. Little by little this regard of faith will become easier and more loving and the soul will pass gradually from a painful state of dryness to a peaceful rest in God.

15. How can the soul know that the dryness comes from God?

A sign that the dryness comes from God is that the soul perseveres in the exercise of virtues and prayer although it only feels dryness. As the application to virtues is more difficult in these circumstances the soul will find less success, but its repeated efforts show that its will remains strong. Such dryness cannot come from a culpable weakness of the will, but is the work of God.

16. What aim does God have in sending dryness to the soul?

By this trial God foresees to deliver the soul from the childlike sensitivity, to carry it to a more solid and hard ground of the will. Not finding sweetness for the spiritual life in the representations and sweet emotions as just a little time ago, when all went well, the soul sees itself constrained to hold on with the will to the exercises of faith and love. As this state comes from the Divine Will, the work of grace joins with the effort of the soul. Undoubtedly it will make great progress in the spiritual life. The dryness sent by God, besides the trial, is a great precious grace which the soul, far from being discouraged, will look to correspond generously.

Chapter VI The Presence of God

1. What is the presence of God?

The presence of God is an exercise of the spiritual life destined to maintain us in contact with God in our diverse daily occupations. It is in some way mental prayer which is prolonged during the whole day. As mental prayer it is composed of two elements – thought and affection. It is, in effect to think of God and to turn one’s heart towards Him.

2. What is the principal element of the presence of God?

The principle element is not the thought as most of people believe, but the affection. As in mental prayer, the thought serves to orient the heart or will towards God, and directs towards Him all its actions. It is easier to remain for a while in contact with God by means of the will than by the intelligence.

3. From where does the difference come?

The difference between the ease of application of the intelligence and of the will comes from the fact that it is not practically possible to think of God in an uninterrupted way, given that many times our occupations take all our attention, and that we do not have the possibility to think at the same time about two different things. On the contrary when the intelligence is occupied with work that we are doing, the heart can remain turned towards God because even if the work is distracting in its nature, we can do it for God, meaning in order to fulfil His Will and to glorify Him.

4. How can we more easily hold our heart oriented towards God?

We can do it in nourishing the attention by small affective exercises as short prayers, pious invocations, the offering of our actions, asking God’s help, or short conversations with God in which we manifest to Him our love and our confidence. This will not however be possible for us if thoughts of God are not often present.

5. Is there a way to frequently recall the presence of God?

There are many diverse ways. We distinguish ordinarily the forms of the exercise of the presence of God using the means to recall this thought to our souls; so we speak of the presence of God external, imaginative, and intellectual.

6. In what does the practice of the thoughts of God external consist?

It consists in using an exterior object to often think of God. A crucifix that we always carry with us putting it before us during work, kissing it, venerating it, will maintain living in us the memory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and will give us the occasion to speak affectionately to Him. Even the thought of the Eucharistic Presence which we come back to without stopping, can help hold us in contact with God and incite us to speak with Him. It is the same for pious images, etc.

7. In what does the practice of the presence of God imaginative consist?

This practice consists in representing to us by the imagination that God, Our Lady or some Saints are close to us, near us, and accompany us everywhere. We look to address ourselves to them by short spontaneous words or by diverse affectionate exercises to which we have already alluded to. Everybody however cannot practice this type of the presence of God which requires a lively imagination and a complete mastery of this faculty.

8. Does such a representation lack truth?

Not in any way because if the humanity of Our Lord or Our Lady or the Saints are not present to us physically, they are morally present in the fact that the Saints and Our Lady see us in the Divine Essence that they contemplate, and are in relation with us, and because the humanity of Our Lord exercises on us a physical influence in the communication of grace. This spiritual relation we can easily represent to us in putting ourselves in the company of God and the Saints.

9. Can we make the exercise of the presence of God in turning ourselves towards the Saints?

Evidently, because the thoughts of Our Lady and the Saints help orient our heart and our actions towards God. And in this orientation of the will is found the most necessary element of the presence of God.

10. What is the practice of the presence of God intellectual?

The practice of the presence of God intellectual is that by which we recall to our mind the memory of God by means of a thought of faith. The soul remembers, for example, of the continual presence of the Most Holy Trinity in it, and looks to please its Divine Guests, or it considers that its duties are the manifestation of the Divine Will, and the soul unites itself constantly to the Divine Will. With the supernatural light, it sees that all the circumstances of life are dispensed by Providence, and the soul tells its Heavenly Father “I am happy with all”, or knowing that God looks after it always, the soul looks to do something to make it agreeable in the eyes of God.

11. What is the best way to make the exercise of the presence of God?

The best way to do this exercise is the one which fits best our mentality, and it is not determined by reasons but by experience. It is to be remarked that we must not attach ourselves to an exclusive way or a determined formula, but we can very well vary them according to the circumstances. Ordinarily we will prefer a particular form of this exercise, and we will choose the one which is most useful for us. It is praiseworthy to use a holy freedom.

12. Can the exercise of the presence of God be united to the natural ordinary actions and even those of recreation?

Undoubtedly, we will find in this exercise the most practical way to sanctify these actions. Even in eating we can elevate our heart towards God, and in place of looking for satisfactions we eat food with a holy indifference with the goal of restoring our strength to serve God with more energy. St. Paul taught us “Whether you eat or drink, do all for the glory of God”. It must be the same for our recreations. We must offer them to God having in view to obtain new force to give in His honor. We must even put our sleep to this end. We will prepare it making an explicit offering to God. So the exercise of the presence of God will allow us to live the whole day and our life of love.

The End.

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life – Part 2

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life – Part 2

  by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.

  (text in French published by Le Sel de La Terre)

(continued)

Chapter III. Preparation and Reading

1. Are there different kinds of preparation for mental prayer?

The Carmelite authors distinguish often a double preparation:

* The near preparation by which the soul puts itself in the presence of God to start the intimate conversation with Him;

* The distant preparation by which the soul uses its powers to gather one’s thoughts before praying.

2. What is necessary for the soul to be disposed for prayer?

It is necessary for one not be absorbed excessively by creatures, and have a tendency to occupy oneself with God. To favor these dispositions there are two parts which constitute the distant preparation:

* The first is to remove obstacles: it’s “negative”;

* The second is destined to produce a quality: it’s “positive”.

3. What is the “negative” element of the distant preparation?

One must absolutely avoid the distractions and [disordered] attachments of the heart. In order to practice the love of God easily, a free heart is necessary. This means one must have a great detachment from creatures. Who wants to love much, must reserve for God the strength and tenderness of his affection, and not spread it to people and things who easily draw a heart which is not protected.

On the other hand, the freedom of spirit is not attained without great mortification of the senses which are open windows to terrestrial things, and the control of the memory which brings us into the world by the memories we have. So, the soul must avoid the useless thoughts. The heart and soul must be watched.

4. What is the positive element of the distant preparation?

It is the exercise of the presence of God that we will look for and to make it continuous as much as possible. By this holy exercise our thoughts and will are recollected in God, and we keep a certain contact with God, even in the middle of the most material occupations; and we converse with Him often in the day. Faithfulness to this practice creates in us a certain facility to speak with God as well as a certain ease to put us in a more intimate contact with Him: this is the near preparation.

5. What spiritual attitude helps the soul the most for this contact with God?

It is the attitude of humble confidence which puts us before God in the position which fits us best. God, in effect is our Father, and He wants that we act towards Him as destitute children. We will anchor in us the sentiment of our poverty by the memory of our numerous faults which bring to light our misery. Far from folding in on ourselves or becoming discouraged at the sight of our nothingness, we will look for refuge in the arms of Our Lord who said to us “Without Me you can do nothing” That’s why saint Teresa of Avila invites us to examine our conscience at the start of the mental prayer, to say the Confiteor, and then to look for the company of Jesus.

6. What is the most practical manner to put the soul in the presence of God?

Any manner to put oneself in the presence of God is useful for this aim, provided that a large application and intensity is used. There are however two manners especially indicated for mental prayer: 1) put oneself in the presence of Most Holy Eucharist (if we do mental prayer before the Blessed Sacrament) and, 2) recollect in one’s soul, keeping in mind the Three Divine Persons who live in the soul that is in the state of grace and offer themselves to the soul to be known and loved. To start this colloquia with (God present) we will remind the subject chosen in the reading.

7. At what moment must the reading be done?

Preferably, before going to mental prayer, meaning during the fifteen minutes granted for the preparation. If we cannot do it at that time, we could do it in the beginning. In some religious communities it is the custom to do a short reading out loud at the beginning of mental prayer.

8. Why is there common reading?

It has as its aim to offer a subject of meditation to those who do not have one. There is no obligation to use what is read. Ordinarily those who meditate come with a prepared subject by the private reading. But if at this moment that which is read draws us more than the chosen subject, we can change it with great liberty.

9. Must the reading serve to prepare a subject of meditation?

Such is the original destination, and it is that which has a larger goal — to instruct us in the spiritual things. The reading we speak about serves to supply us immediately with a Truth that we will penetrate by reflection, to draw a more profound conviction of the love of God for us. For those who no longer do mental prayer in the meditation form, but reach the level that St. Theresa calls “recollection” or to a way even higher, the reading no longer serves to choose a subject, but to recollect the soul in disposing it to sweetly taste to rest in God.

10. What books must we prefer to choose to do this reading?

It depends on the aim of the reading. When it concerns finding a subject of meditation, besides the books for meditation, all those that enlighten the many manifestations of the love of God for us, will be able to serve this aim. It will be, however, good to use books already known. When the aim is to recollect oneself only, any writing which inspires an intense love of God will be useful. The works of the Saints belong to this category. The choice of the book is determined by the immediate aim of the reading, but the culture and spiritual age of the person will have to be considered in this choice. Books too intellectual or spiritual will not be well understood, and necessarily cause dryness.

11. Can the lives of the Saints be read?

These lives are not excluded, especially because many souls are touched by the example of the Saints who have lived the spiritual doctrine, than by explaining it speculatively. However, we must not read them to satisfy our curiosity and not to prolong unnecessarily our reading. Also, it is fitting to not read them as preparation for meditation, a “new” life, because it greatly excites the imagination. It would be better to read a summary of a saint already known.

12. How must we read?

We must read with attention, since the aim of the reading is to find a subject of conversation with God. It is necessary to read it carefully, to not let any light escape us. It will be read with devotion and recollection because this good disposition of the heart favors in us the seeking of something useful for the soul, making us attentive and sensible to good ideas. We will be able to foresee more easily and prepare in some way the affections that we want to express and the resolution to be taken. All of it without binding us too much, because the aim of the reading is simply to help us according to our needs. Let us add a last remark: if it is done in common before the mental prayer, the reading must be short so as not to annoy those who do not use it ‑ and they are many.

13. Can we take again our book during mental prayer?

It is not excluded and can even be indicated in particular occasions. St. Theresa never went to mental prayer without a book with her. It will happen sometimes that we will find ourselves so distracted that the most practical manner to return to God will be to gain another good thought by reading again. Also, when in mental prayer and in the company of God, our affection becomes difficult by tiredness. It is often good to read again our theme of mental prayer. It is an exterior aid for our attention. One must be careful not to turn it into a simple reading. It must remain at least a meditative reading in which we stop to allow affections and resolutions to enter. So, the reading itself becomes an instrument of our conversation with God.

Chapter IV. Meditation and Colloquia

1. Is the meditation always explained in the same way by the Carmelite authors?

The Carmelite authors have some differences in their explanation of the meditation, but all are in agreement on the essential. Some do not explain the different parts; some others make a distinction between the meditative reflection and the affectionate colloquia which is the aim of the reflection, which they call contemplation. Others separate in the meditative part the representation and the reflection. Those who do not classify explicitly these diverse elements refer more or less to them.

Most of the Carmelite authors distinguish three elements in the meditation:

* The representation as an act of the imagination,

* The reflection as an act of the intelligence,

* And the colloquia as an act of the will.

2. What is the representation?

It is an activity of the imagination by which we form: 1) an image or representation of the mystery we want to meditate on, or 2) sensible objects which lift our thoughts to God.

3. What is the usefulness of the representation?

The aim is to render easier the work of reflection which leans on natural representations of the imagination. It is easy to think of the scourging [of Our Lord] before an image. It offers the advantage to fix in some way our thoughts which, without an object to look at, easily digresses. A certain stability of imaginative knowledge helps our intellectual knowledge to have fewer distractions.

4. Is the representation always necessary?

The same authors do not insist on its necessity in mental prayer, but they explain to us in what way it can be useful. Its usefulness is evident when we consider the life of Jesus Christ or of the Saints. Even in the consideration of the most abstract mysteries, for example the Divine attributes, the intelligence can start by thinking of sensible things represented by the imagination. It is also praiseworthy to elevate ourselves from the beauty of nature to God, Supreme Beauty. The Carmelite Theologians distinguish different cases one can find himself in, when he meditates. Some have a lively imagination easily able to represent the mystery, others are almost unable to do it. The former should use their faculty of representation, the others should know that it is not an exercise at all cost. To be useful, the imaginative representations must not be very perfect, a vague representation is enough.

5. In what way must the representation be formed?

1) One must apply oneself to it, otherwise nothing serious will be done. But it is not fitting to excite the imagination too much in order to see what we are meditating on too quickly. Those who have an especially lively imagination will try to proceed with a great simplicity because, otherwise, the imagination would be led to illusion and make them believe that they are having visions.

2). As to those who look at the perfection of the representation, the details should not be too precise. The Carmelite authors have equally said that a representation schema can be enough for someone with little imagination. A representation that is more precise is more useful because it fixes more easily our thoughts. The Carmelite authors never speak of the application of the senses.

3) It is not necessary to consecrate much time to form the representation. Some instants are enough, but it is necessary that we have it present during the whole time of meditation. If we can do it, we will find it easier to avoid distractions.

Let us conclude in saying that, without being absolutely necessary, the representation is often useful and those who succeed, must not deprive themselves of this help. Those who, on the other hand, find it difficult, can omit it, and start directly the reflection.

6. Is the reflection or consideration more important?

Reflection is the first of the elements that directly make the meditation, which consists in a certain work of the intelligence. This must remain secondary in comparison with the affectionate conversation with God, which must find in the meditation the stimulating base.

7. Must this work of the intelligence remain a long time?

Its subordination to the affectionate conversation indicates that it must only last as long as necessary to lead the soul to this conversation, meaning until it produces in the soul a profound conviction that it is loved by God and invited to love Him in return. We would however be in error if we believed that we had to interrupt or put to the side the reflection as soon as we feel some pious affection which would suddenly vanish leaving us empty. We must on the contrary insist and continue until the will is completely stable and can remain at least some time in the affectionate attitude.

8. Must the reflection be done methodically?

It can be. St. Theresa following in it other contemporary authors, advices, in the meditation of the Passion of Our Lord, to consider who suffers, what does He suffer, why, with which dispositions? It is not however necessary that there is such a rigorous order in the order of the arguments and one can think without harm to go freely from one thought to the next, provided that it leads to the goal proposed to better understand the love of God for us which is manifested in the mystery meditated on.

9. What will the souls who “cannot meditate” do?

For souls who, because of a certain mobility of the imagination and of thought, have great difficulty stopping at a determined idea to go deeper by deep reflections, St. Theresa teaches another way to excite thoughts which excite love. This method consists in reciting slowly a vocal prayer full of substance stopping to consider with attention the sense of the words and taking the opportunity to form some reflections and express affections.

10. When does the affectionate colloquia start?

It starts when the soul has the strong conviction that it must answer wilt love for the love God gives to it. It all depends on how easy it is for the soul to put itself in this necessary disposition. It is acquired by practice.

11. What is said in the colloquia?

The soul expresses especially to God its will to love Him and show Him its love, taking the motive of its purpose in a particular mystery. It can be done in many different ways and the colloquia will be done in many ways as well. The soul can express its love not only to the Holy Trinity, but also to Jesus. It is also praiseworthy to speak affectionately to the Saints.

12. In what way is the colloquia done?

It can be done in many different ways. We can express our affection with words pronounced vocally, but we can also do it with interior expressions of the heart or will. These expressions can be short and happen with a certain frequency, or be prolonged for some time, saying them at longer intervals. The soul also can be happy only keeping company with God [without any expression].

13. Must the conversation be continuous?

We can answer yes in the way that the soul must remain in conversation with God, but no in the manner of “speaking” continuously. Also the Carmelite authors teach expressly that the conversation done by the soul must not be too long or agitated, but peaceful and many times interrupted, as to permit the soul to listen to God’s answer.

14. Does God speak in the colloquia?

If we were the only one to speak, it would not be a colloquia. On the other hand St. Theresa taught that God speaks to the soul when it prays with all its heart. One must not believe that God is heard in a material way. He answers the soul in sending it graces of light and love by which the soul understands better the ways of God and feels greatly inflamed to follow them with generosity. Listening consists in, for the soul, to accept these graces, and thinking how to look for profit.

15. Why is the colloquia called “contemplation”?

Because, when the soul speaks with God and listens, the soul stops reasoning as it did in meditation and now is happy to pay attention in a general way to the mystery better understood because of the meditation. Or even the soul looks simply at God the Father, or Son with Whom it speaks. In this simple look is realized the traditional notion of contemplation ( a simple look which penetrates the Truth). And as in the colloquia, God communicates to the soul His light. Under this aspect is realized in some way which is more fully the essence of the true contemplation: an infusion of heavenly light.

16. How long can this colloquia last?

There is no limit. It can occupy the whole time of mental prayer. Even more, the simplification of mental prayer consists to make the reflections shorter, to give more time to affections and to give them, little by little, a calmer form by prolonged acts. It is not easy for the soul in the beginning to stop from time to time to express its love. This is why we can have recourse to the last acts of mental prayer: thanksgiving, offering and asking.

17. Why do we need to thank God?

Many reasons push the soul to express its gratitude to God. We have received much from Him either in the natural or supernatural order: to be born of Catholic parents and to have been baptized without delay, to have been raised in the True Religion, and especially to have been given a vocation; so many free gifts from God for which we cannot thank Him enough. And also how many graces God surrounds us with, without stopping. Even the exercise of mental prayer is a call to Him to penetrate further into us. We must show ourselves grateful to these favors. Let us add to that the goodness of God towards those for whom we show an interest for: our friends, benefactors, those confided to our care. We can thank not only God but also the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints for their intercession in our favor.

18. What can we offer to God?

Having received all from God, it is praiseworthy on our part to offer ourselves to Him, wanting to use all our strength for His service. As our holy profession is a consecration of our whole life to God 1, we will be able to renew it. We should not be satisfied with general offerings which, because of their vagueness, do not exercise a large influence on our way of acting. It is good to take a particular resolution and to offer to God our will to practice such a virtue or to fight generously against a temptation or to willingly accept a trail of suffering. By these firm resolutions we put our mental prayer in contact with our daily life; this is why it is good for all to finish with a particular resolution even if an offering has not been done.

19. Whom must we pray for?

Our large spiritual destitution forces us to have recourse continually to prayer. After having told that “without Me you can do nothing”, Our Lord added, “ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened to you.” Our spiritual progress depends extremely on the prayers that we will say with confidence and insistence.

We must pray for others: for their temporal and spiritual needs and especially for their sanctification and salvation.

We will have an interest in not only souls in particular but also our country, Religious Orders, our Spiritual Family, and Holy Church.

Knowing that the souls dear to Our Lord are more powerful on His Heart, desirous to obtain much from Him, we will try to make ourselves agreeable to His Majesty by a life detached from the world and oriented only to the research of intimateness with Him. In this way one will realize the ideal proposed by St. Theresa to her daughters: to become an intimate friend of God who uses this intimateness to make His Divine Graces overflow on this world.

(To be continued)

1 ‑ He is speaking here to religious.

800th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF SAINT DOMINIC

800th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF SAINT DOMINIC

  (August 6, 1221 – August 6, 2021)

Veritas”

A sermon for the Feast of Saint Dominic

(August 4)

given in Avrillé (France)

IN THE WORDS that Jesus spoke on earth, three resonated in the soul of St. Dominic that must resonate in ours. These words are: “Misereor super turbam­”, I have mercy on the crowd (Mk. 8:2). St. Dominic transposed them, saying: “Quid fient peccatores? “What will become of sinners?” This pity for souls and the salvation of souls—is the secret of St. Dominic’s vocation, the fundamental impulse that moved him. That is why he is called: “Apostolicus Pater Dominicus”, the Apostolic Father, the father concerned about souls, who saw how far men are from the divine Truth, how much they ignore or despise this Truth; who therefore wore himself out in the service of the Truth, in order to contemplate it, and then to communicate it to souls and to organize an Order whose purpose would be to preach it.

These three things, in fact, summarize the life of Saint Dominic. This life, at first sight, is complex, but in reality it is simple. It is one because it rests entirely on a single principle: the Truth. ­The principle of unity in the life of St. Dominic and his Order is Truth. Therefore, we must grasp the life and work of St. Dominic in truth, starting from this fundamental inspiration of his apostolic soul, in the light of the principle which has become the motto of the Order which appears on his halo: Veritas.

The life of St. Dominic has three phases:

‑ The first is that of maturation in Osma, Spain;

‑ The second is that of the external apostolate, in Languedoc, in the middle of Cathar country;

‑ The third, which is the most fruitful — of a more hidden fruitfulness than the previous one, but more lasting — is the foundation of the Order. Each of these phases lasted about a decade. Each one, above all, was placed under the patronage of the Truth.

**

The first phase is that of maturation in Osma, in silence, strict observance of the religious rule, prayer, and study; it is the stage of knowledge and contemplation of the Truth.

Saint Dominic, in fact, began by drinking from the source of divine Truth for many years, by filling himself with its light, before communicating it to others. For, in order to be able to preach the Truth, to become “champions of the faith and true lights of the world”, as Pope Honorius III would say of the first Dominicans, one must first be deeply imbued with the faith and the first Truth, which is God

Faith makes contact with the divine Truth. Saint Thomas says with his usual precision:

“There is for us, even in this life, a certain participation and assimilation to such a cognition of divine truth, inasmuch as through the faith which is infused into our souls we adhere to the very First Truth on account of Itself. – fit nobis in statu viæ quaedam illius cognitionis participatio et assimilatio ad cognitionem divinam, in quantum per fidem nobis infusant inhæremus ipsi primæ veritati propter se ipsam1

St. Dominic, therefore, began by living by faith, by knowing the first Truth in and for itself, without any utilitarian aim. Dante, in his ­Divine Comedy, says of St. Dominic that since his birth he married the Faith, just as St. Francis married Poverty (Paradise XII, 61).

This phase of our holy father’s life is essential, and we too must reproduce it with extreme fidelity, embracing faith in our turn through contemplation and silent and assiduous study of the First Truth. How, in fact, can we serve this divine Truth and preach the faith, if we are not intimately filled with it? We would fall into that inconsistency which, under the pretext of life and action, sinks into activism and sacrifices the absolute for the contingent that passes away; the divine for the human. Those who give in to this tendency, if they do not deny God or the reality of Revelation, are logically led to believe that God is conditioned by His creation and to erase from the Gospel the very idea of the divine attributes. They subordinate the primary Truth to passing truths or even to the opinions of the world, and become incapable of giving God to souls.

**

The second phase of St. Dominic’s life is that of the apostolate, of the preaching of the contemplated faith, of the expansion of the Truth. For about ten years, the saint traveled throughout Languedoc and preached to the heretics.

For truth is communicable. “Credidi propter quod locutus sum” – I believe, and that is why I have spoken, says St. Paul (2 Cor. 4:13): the evidence of faith irresistibly inclines us to communicate its content; hence these apostolic accents of St. Dominic, accents of tenderness for sinners, which recall those of Jesus: “What will become of poor sinners?” Not that these men are simply miserable or starving, but they do not know the Truth. This is the real misery, the most serious.

Jesus said of himself: “I am the Truth” (Jn. 14:6). He was moved by the desire to communicate the Truth that he had to proclaim, because he himself was the Truth in action ­in the bosom of the Father. In the same way, St. Dominic preached the Truth because he was filled with it, because he had espoused it, because he had made it his own. He had not forgotten the first phase during the second: the preacher must remain a contemplative, on pain of no longer preaching the word of God, but of preaching himself: Contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere – to contemplate and transmit to others the truths contemplated.” Preaching must be nothing but the overflow of contemplation; what is preached must be nothing but the fruit of contemplation. And so, in the very structure of St. Dominic’s life, we find the economy of the life of Jesus: thirty years of silence and preparation, three years of preaching, and finally the sending of the Apostles on a mission throughout the world. This shows with what supernatural spirit the preaching of the Truth must be considered. It is grafted onto the faith; it is itself an act of faith, and this is what ensures its victory.

This second phase had all the hazards of a battle, with alternating failures, tribulations, and successes. For preaching is an adventure, so to speak: there is the Holy Spirit who instructs souls from within, there is the one who speaks externally, and there are those who listen – the agreement is not always easy. St. Dominic himself experienced the failure and hardness of souls who rebel against the Truth. But this, too, is part of the divine plan. And precisely in the hour of failure he saw souls close up to his word, he made a pact with the Virgin Mary, a pact that lasts for eternity. The Mother of Preachers, “the one who believed”, as the Gospel calls her, then gave St. Dominic an invincible weapon to touch souls and effectively communicate the Truth to them. This weapon is the Rosary – the Rosary, which transmits the substance of the faith and is both a prayer and a sublime means of preaching the great divine truths.

**

The third phase of St. Dominic’s life was the foundation of the Order of Preachers and the sending of the friars to the whole world.

After having hoarded the Truth and after having proclaimed it, the Saint organized its preservation, fruitfulness, and diffusion in time. For this he founded an Order. If the grain remains piled up, it dies; but if it is sown, it produces fruit.

An Order is the fruit of an act of wisdom (sapientis est ordinare); it is an organic whole of which one element is the principle of the others. One is part of the Order only if one is connected to the principle. The principle of our Order is St. Dominic; but more primitively, it is the Truth. To the extent that we guard and carry the Truth, we are part of the Order of Preachers, rightly called “the Order of Truth”; this is its trademark, its essential note, so to speak.

This third phase, like the second, was marked by success and trials. And this has continued in the history of the Order. There have been, there are, especially in our days, betrayals and defections within our Order. This is the crucial proof given by Our Lord himself: “You will know them by their fruits.” (Mt. 7:16,20). The fruits are the works of the Truth; where they are lacking, it is a sign that the Truth is no longer served; or, as St. John says: “They went out from us but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us.” (1 John 2:19). They were not of us because they did not serve – or did not fully serve – the Truth.

**

These three phases of St. Dominic’s life are certainly successive, but one does not replace the other; they are linked and remain one in the other; there is penetration of the first into the second, and of the first two into the third.

And it must be so. For it is the depth of contemplation that preserves from activism in the apostolate; so it is necessary that the first phase penetrate the second. And it is also necessary that the first two phases unceasingly inspire the third. For only the contemplation of the Truth and zeal in the service of the Truth can preserve one from the sclerosis and decadence that threaten any work on this earth, even if it is holy and inspired by God, as a religious Order is. In short, we must carefully keep the principle: Veritas!

*

**

Saint Dominic left us his testament. This testament can be summed up in three words: “This, my brothers, is what I leave you as an inheritance: have charity, keep humility, possess ­voluntary poverty.”

But we can say that these three words are summarized and merged in this small word of seven letters which constitutes the motto of the Order: Veritas, Truth. For Dominican charity is above all the charity of truth; and the preaching of truth can only bear fruit if it is founded on humility and poverty.

This is what God revealed to the most illustrious daughter of St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena:

“St. Dominic wished to make the light of Truth the principal object of his Order. […] This why he appeared in the world as an apostle and sowed the seed of my word, full of light and truth, dispelling the darkness and distributing the light. […] Dominic is thus in harmony with my Truth, not wanting the sinner to die, but to be converted and live.”

Veritas de terra orta est.” Truth springs forth out of the earth. Our earth, our roots, our father is St. Dominic. He bequeaths to us the Truth, thirst for the Truth, love of the Truth, and asks us to be faithful to the Truth. Let us strive, by our three vows, by our contemplative life, by our prayers and studies, by our doctrinal preaching, by our whole life, to be TRUE.

Holy Mary, Mother of Preachers, pray for us!

1 ‑ Expositio in libro Boetii de Trinitate, Proemium, q. 2, a. 2

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life

Small Catechism on the Spiritual Life

  by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D.

  (text in French published by Le Sel de la terre)

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen O.C.D (1890-1953) was a consultant for the Congregation of Rites and professor of Spiritual Theology at the at the Discalced Carmelites School of Theology in Rome

He is also the author of the book Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day of the Year that appeared in editions of “The Carmel” in 1955.

Preface

This small catechism, first published in the magazine Vitae Carmelitana, was welcomed with joy by pious people who found in it peace and comfort. It could not be otherwise because it contains the substance of teachings with which for four centuries the Order of the reformed Carmel directs souls in the spiritual life.

The author, a specialist in this domain, has wanted to bring the faithful to the schools of St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. He exposes in clear pages their method of mental prayer with developments received by their spiritual sons, being careful to keep themselves in line with Tradition. The readers of the Vitae Carmelitana, had many times expressed the desire to see gathered in one volume the lessons from which they drew the greatest advantages. So, in 1943 Fr. Gabriel prepared this catechism. He believed it good to change the original text a little, to render it more adapted to the conditions of those living in the world without changing the essential.

May the Seraphic Mother St. Theresa, the great mistress of the spiritual life, obtain the abundance of benedictions from on high for all those who will use this work where one of her children proposed to nourish the hearts of bread of the celestial doctrine. (Collect of the Saint)

Fr. Eugene of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus

Chapter 1: Mental Prayer in the Contemplative Life

1. What is the Catholic Life?

The Catholic life is the life lived in conformity with the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ, according to which we must direct all our actions to the glory of God in loving Him and in observing His holy laws. The Catholic soul lives for God.

2. What is the Contemplative Life?

The Contemplative Life is a form of Catholic life in which one tries to live not only for God but also with God. It is not only for Religious but can be lived perfectly in the world. It is concentrated completely in the research of the Divine Intimacy, and in this goal during the day practices that which we call Spiritual Exercises. These are special exercises of prayer which must be accompanied by exercises of mortification because, as St. Theresa the great mistress of the contemplative life said, mental prayer and comforts do not go together.

3. What is the place of mental prayer in the Contemplative Life?

In the Contemplative Life, mental prayer takes the first place. Practically, the Contemplative Life is a life of mental prayer. For this reason the Contemplative Orders dedicate much time to prayer. In the Carmelite order, which is eminently contemplative, the central precept is one of continual mental prayer: that each one stays firm in his cell meditating day and night on the law of God and watching in prayer. The Carmelites perform many exercises of piety. They do mental prayer twice a day [one hour each time], assist at Mass, recite the Divine Office, put themselves in the presence of God during the day; without speaking of personal exercises of devotion.

4. What is prayer?

Prayer is a conversation with God in which we manifest to Him the desires of our heart. Prayer can be either vocal or mental.

5. What is vocal prayer?

Vocal prayer consists in the recitation of a formula which expresses our desires. For example, the Our Father, taught to man by Our Lord Himself, and in which we ask God seven things. We recite this formula with the intention to honor God. Often we do not think of, in a distinct way, the sense of the words that we pronounce. But that does not stop our prayer from being a true prayer provided that our soul remains turned to God with the desire to honor Him. This prayer can be recited to the Saints with the same desire to honor them.

6. What is mental prayer?

This consists in speaking to God with the heart, not with prepared formulas of learned by heart, but in a spontaneous manner.

7. What do we say to God in mental prayer?

In this form of prayer, we are able to show God all desires that we have in our heart. But following the teachings of St. Theresa, a contemplative soul will prefer to say that we love Him or want to love Him.

8. Why is the love of God often spoken about?

Because this love is the substance of the contemplative life. The contemplative souls must become intimate friends of God and love precisely makes flower the friendship and introduces intimacy. St. Theresa wants us, in going to prayer, that we be convinced that God invites us to love Him in doing it and that we do it to answer His call.

9. Is it necessary to think in prayer?

It is not possible to love without having some thought on the loved object. To move God, one must think about Him. This thought can vary much according to who it is. It could consist of a prolonged reflection on the love of God for us, or could be a simple souvenir of God: His Goodness and love of us. In Consequence, in prayer we think only to love and nourish love. St. Theresa said in effect that prayer consists not in thinking much but in loving much.

10. What is love?

There is sensible love, and there is love of the will. Sensible love consists in a sentiment which carries us with affection towards a person; makes us feel pleasure in his presence or a souvenir of it. Love of the will consists in wanting the good for a person by free choice and determination of the will. Then when this love takes all our soul, one wants to be with the person loved, and consecrate to him one’s proper life.

11. Which of the two is better?

The love of the will is better because the will is, in us, that which is most personal. In the will resides our liberty, and it is precisely with it that we give ourselves to God. For this reason, God asks from man the gift of his will. The full consecration of man to God consists in this gift.

The sensible love is something complementary, of secondary importance. It does not depend on us to feel it while it depends on us to love with the will.

12. Why do we naturally desire the sensible love?

We desire it for its sweetness, and because it gives us comfort and consolation. But because of that, in the sensible love we often seek ourselves, while with the love of the will we seek God. God often suppress in us the sensible love, so that we will love more firmly with only the will.

13. With which love must we love God in prayer?

Certainly the love of the will is the most important. If the sensible love is there too, instead of seeking our own pleasure, we profit by its help to strengthen our will in its act to give itself to God. The sensible love lacking, we will follow the path with the will alone.

14. How can I occupy myself during an hour in this conversation of love with God?

In the beginning of the life of prayer many souls encounter great difficulties. They are bored and feel dissipated. One must remember that to pray is something that needs to be learnt. To teach it, the Carmel Theologians given to the study of prayer life have constructed a method of mental prayer.

Chapter II: The Method of Mental Prayer

1. What is meant by the method of mental prayer?

The method of mental prayer is the teaching which explains to us the way to pray with ease. We will indicate here the diverse acts to do one after another, in order to better do this holy exercise.

2. Is there a method of mental prayer in the Carmelite Order?

Yes, in the Carmelite Order we find a method of prayer from the beginning of the reform of St. Theresa. It was exposed in our two oldest “Instructions of novices” in Spanish (1591) and Italian (1605).

3. What is the origin of this method?

This method has its origin in the teachings of St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross. The definitive and concrete form was elaborated on by their disciples. We will give firstly a general explanation of this method, and then explain the various parts after.

4. Into how many parts is this method of mental prayer divided?

Normally we distinguish 6 or 7 parts or acts in this exercise of mental prayer: preparation, reading, meditation, (with the affectionate colloquia) thanksgiving, offering, and petition.

5. Do so many distinctions lead to a complication?

This distinction of parts does not complicate the practice of mental prayer. In effect, the two first are not mental prayer, but they make the beginning. The three last parts are purely complimentary and optional; we will omit them when we will no longer need them. It is reduced to the essential, the meditation accompanied with an intimate conversation with God (affectionate colloquia)

6. What must one consider to do the mental prayer well?

To understand the Carmelite method of prayer well, the conception of mental prayer exposed by St. Theresa must be present. In the eyes of the seraphic Virgin, mental prayer is an intimate conversation with God, in which we speak to Him especially of love, in answering His call to Love. The different parts of prayer have the aim of leading us easily to this loving conversation with Him.

7. How does the preparation serve this aim?

The preparation helps to put us in the Presence of God. It is not possible to speak intimately with someone if one is not close to Him. We must put ourselves in the Presence of God with a living Faith and in the humble attitude of a soul which recognizes itself as a soul of God.

8. What does reading do?

Reading supplies us with a subject for the loving conversation with God; conversation which can nourish itself in the consideration of the mysteries of Faith, and the gifts and graces received from God for us. In that, the love of God is manifested for us. But since it is not possible to speak of each of these things together, we can choose by the book the subject of which we want to occupy ourselves for the moment, and make it easier for our consideration in following the explanations and reflections of the book.

9. Why meditate?

The meditation or personal reflection that we do on the divine gifts or on the mystery that we have chosen in the lecture serves a double aim, one intellectual, and the other affective. The intellectual aim is to better understand the Love of God for us, love which accomplishes itself in the mystery of the divine gifts that we consider and so convince us more of the call to love made by God to our soul. The affective aim consists to move the will to the exercise of love and to its manifestation in responding to the Divine Invitation. The meditation so appears as an immediate preparation to the affective conversation with God.

10. In what way does one go from the meditation to the affectionate colloquia?

This passage must not be done at a precise moment mathematically determined, but in a spontaneous manner. In making personal reflections in the presence of God, and in seeing more closely by them how God loves us, the soul feels itself easily pushed to say the words of love. It happens often that the reflections that the soul made in itself continues them for some time in addressing words to God, and it serves to understand better His Love for us. Finally, the soul leaves all consideration to abandon itself fully to the exercise of love and its manifestation. In other terms, it passes to an affectionate colloquia. In this colloquia the soul says and repeats in a thousand ways to God that it loves Him, and that it wants to love Him, that it desires to prove Him its love.

11. Is there importance in the colloquia?

The colloquia has a very great importance, and it is the essential part of mental prayer. In it is realized directly the concept that St. Theresa had of mental prayer which consists in an intimate conversation with God to respond to His love for us. Also, the soul will be better able to occupy itself during so much time in prayer and even during an hour.

12. What is the aim of the three last parts of the mental prayer?

The three last parts or acts of mental prayer are: thanksgiving, offering and petition which aim at prolonging more easily our loving conversation with God. They are nothing else than affectionate acts more determined, of various manners, to manifest our love.

13. What is our attitude in these parts?

In the Thanksgiving we manifest to God our humble gratitude for His extreme love for us and for the lessons received from him.

In the offering, drawn by loving recognition, we want to give something to God.

In the petition, humbly convinced of our lowliness and weakness and desire to truly love God, we implore His help to succeed and be faithful to the resolutions formed in the offering.

These acts are, in the strict sense, a prolongation of the affectionate colloquia issued spontaneously from the meditation.

14. Must a determined order be used in the order of the parts of mental prayer?

The order indicated above is the most logical, but great liberty is allowed. We are free to change around these parts as we please. We can even repeat the same parts many times. It goes also for the meditation and the affectionate colloquia that we are able to alternate as we please in the same mental prayer.

15. Are the last parts necessary?

No. These acts are optional. One who can sufficiently occupy himself in the loving colloquia without recourse to these acts can skip them. But in the beginning of the life of prayer the attention of the soul is often helped by a variety of these actions. In this case the soul should have recourse to them.

(To be continued)

Abp Vigano on Fatima Day: Supplication to the Most Holy Virgin Mary

Abp Vigano on Fatima Day:

Supplication to the Most Holy Virgin Mary

August Lady and Queen of Heaven, turn your gaze upon us Your children in this hour of darkness and affliction. Do not disdain to hear and answer our humble and confident prayer, at a moment when the forces of the Enemy are multiplying their infernal assault against God, His Church, and the human family.

You who are the model and example of humility and obedience to the will of God, enlighten our rulers, so that they may remember that the authority they exercise comes from the Lord, and that they will have to answer to Him, the Just Judge, for both the good they have not done as well as the evil they have committed. You who are the Virgin Most Faithful, teach those who administer public affairs to honor the moral obligations of their office, refusing any connivance with vice and error.

You who by your intercession before the Throne of God heal the evils of soul and body and are rightly invoked as Health of the Sick, guide doctors and health care workers in their profession. Help them to care for the sick and to give assistance to the weakest among us. Give them the courage to oppose those who would force them to cause death or illness with inappropriate treatments or harmful drugs. Invoke the Divine Physician of our souls, Our Lord Jesus Christ, asking Him to awaken in their conscience an awareness of their role and their duty to promote the life and health of the body.

You who during the Flight into Egypt saved Your Divine Son from the massacre of Herod, deliver our children from the moral and spiritual threats that loom over them. Protect our little ones from the true pestilence of sin and vice, and from the criminal plans of the ideological dictatorship that wants to strike them in body and spirit. Strengthen parents and educators to oppose the experimental use of a dangerous and morally illicit drug on our children. Thwart the attacks of those who assault their innocence, trying to pervert them from an early age by corrupting their morals and warping their intellect.

You who were consoled by the presence of Your Son in your passage to eternal life, be close to the sick, the elderly, and the dying, especially those who, due to inhuman regulations, face death alone in a hospital bed, deprived of the Sacraments. Bring them comfort. Inspire in them repentance for the sins they have committed and the desire to offer their sufferings in reparation for these sins, so that they may close their eyes with the consolation of the friendship of God.

You who are called Mother of the Priesthood, enlighten our Shepherds. Open their eyes to see the present threat. Make them consistent witnesses to Christ Your Son, courageous defenders of the flock that the Lord has entrusted to them, and valiant opponents of error and vice. Shake off from them, Virgin Most Holy, all human respect and all connivance with sin. Inflame them with love for God and their neighbor, enlighten their minds, and strengthen their will.

You before whom all the demons of Hell take flight, defeat the diabolical plans of this hateful tyranny, the deception of the pandemic, the lie of the workers of iniquity. Make the light of Truth shine upon the lie, just as the true light of Christ shines upon the darkness of error and sin. Confuse Your enemies and humiliate under Your Foot the proud head of those who dare to challenge Heaven and want to establish the Reign of Antichrist.

You who by divine decree are Mediatrix of All Graces and Our Co-Redemptrix, obtain for us the grace of seeing the triumph of Your Immaculate Heart, to which we consecrate ourselves, our families, our communities, the Holy Church, our Homeland, and the whole world.

So may it be.

Thursday May 13, 2021

In Ascensione Domini

In apparitione B.M.V. Immaculatae

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/abp-vigano-on-fatima-day-supplication-to-the-most-holy-virgin-mary

Dialogue About Perfection – Part 3

Dialogue About Perfection (Part 3)

by Saint Catherine of Siena

  (Published in French by Éditions du Sel)


The Instruments of Perfection

And, when that soul had heard what the will of God was, that to execute it faithfully a perfect charity was required, and that this could only be obtained by an entire annihilation of self-will, she spoke thus to the Lord:

Catherine

Thou hast manifested to me, O my Lord and God, Thy Will, and hast shown me, that, if I love Thee perfectly, I shall love nothing transitory and earthly, nor even my own self for myself, but all alone for Thee and in Thee. Thou hast added, that, in order to love Thee, I must seek with earnest care to praise and glorify Thee in all things and at all times; and that in such a manner as that others may do so like wise; that I must endeavor further to bear with a peaceful, cheerful, tranquil heart whatever may befall one in this miserable life.

And now, since I gather from what Thou hast hitherto said that all these things are to be done by the abnegation of my own will, since the more I die to myself, the more perfectly I shall live in Thee; I beseech Thee to teach me in what manner I may acquire this great virtue of the perfect abnegation of myself.

And God, who is so good that He can deny nothing to the pious desires of His servants, thus replied to her:


The Lord

It is certain that everything depends upon the perfect abnegation of thyself, since the more thou dost empty thyself of thy own will, the more will I fill thee with My grace. And all thy perfection comes from the participation of My Divine goodness by means of grace, without which the human creature, in all that concerns its true dignity and perfection, is absolutely nothing.

Humility

The Lord

If thou dost indeed desire to attain this perfect abnegation of self, thou must prostrate thyself before Me in the most profound humility, with a thorough conviction of thine own poverty and misery; and thou must at all times eagerly seek this one thing, to obey Me alone and to do My Will only.1

The Inner Cell

The Lord

And to this end thou must make in thy soul as it were, a little spiritual cell, closed in with the material of My Will, in which thou must enclose thyself and make therein thy constant dwelling-place; so that, wherever thou goest, thou mayest never go forth from it, and, wherever thou lookest, thou mayest never see anything beyond it; but My Will must so encompass every faculty of thy body and soul, that thou shalt never speak of anything but what thou deemest pleasing unto Me, nor think, nor do anything, but what thou believest agreeable to My Will.

And it shall be that the Holy Ghost shall teach thee what thou shalt do in all things.2

Spiritual Direction

The Lord

Moreover thou mayest attain this abnegation of thine own will by another road, if thou canst obtain those who are able to guide and instruct thee according to My Spirit; namely, by subjecting thy will to them, by obediently following their counsels, and by trusting thyself and thy concerns fully to them; since he who hears My faithful and prudent servants “heareth Me” (St. Luke 10:16).

Contemplation of God

The Lord

* But I desire further that thou shouldst consider with firm faith and profound meditation that I, thy most glorious God, I, who have created thee for eternal beatitude, am eternal, sovereign, omnipotent; that I can do with you whatever pleaseth Me; and there is none who can oppose himself in the least degree to My Will; that no good can happen to you unless sent by Me; nor can any evil befall you except by that same Will of Mine, as I have already told you by My Prophet Amos: “shall there be evil in a city which the Lord hath not done?” (Amos 3:6), that is, which I have not permitted.

* In the second place, I wilt that thou seriously meditate that in Me, thy God, dwell the most perfect Intelligence, and Knowledge, and infinite Wisdom; that, therefore, I behold all things with the utmost clearness and acutest penetration; so that in My government of thee, the heavens, and the earth, and the entire universe, I cannot be deceived in any way or misled by any error. Were it otherwise, I should neither be all wise, nor should I be God. And, that thou mayest acknowledge the more the power of My infinite Wisdom, know that even from the evil of guilt and punishment I am able to draw a good greater than the evil.

* In the third place, consider attentively that, as I am thy God, so am I infinitely good, yea, charity itself by My Essence; that, therefore, I cannot will anything but that which is useful and salutary to thee and to all men; nor can I wish any evil to My creatures; that, as man was created by My bounty, so is he loved by Me with inestimable charity.

The Fruits of Contemplation

The Lord

1. Acceptance of Trials and Adversities

When with a firm faith thou shalt have received and pondered in thy mind these truths, thou shalt see that I only suffer tribulations, temptations, difficulties, sicknesses, and all other forms of adversity to befall men for the greater advantage of their eternal salvation; that through the very things which to you seem evils, the true evil of your bad habits may be corrected, and firm resolutions made to attain that virtue which can alone guide you to that true and ultimate good which as yet you know not.3

Thus illuminated by the living light of faith, thou wilt perceive that I, thy God, have infinitely more Knowledge, Power, and Will to advance thy happiness than thou hast; and further, that thy own knowledge, power, and will for thine own good depends entirely on My grace.

2. Peace and Joy

For this cause, seek with all diligence to submit thyself totally to My Will; so shalt thou take thy rest and abide in continual tranquility of spirit, and shalt have Me for ever with thee, for My “place is in peace” (Ps. 75:3). Nothing will then agitate or irritate thee; nothing shall be to thee an occasion of sin or scandal, for “much peace have they who love My law; and to them there is no stumbling-block” (Ps. 118:165). For they so love My law, that is, My Will which is My law by which all things are directed, they are so intimately united by it to Me, and experience such great delight in observing it, that (sin only excepted, which is offensive to God) nothing has power to disturb them, from whatsoever quarter it may come, or of whatsoever weight or quality it may be. For the eyes of their soul are clear and undefiled; and therefore they see that from Me, the sovereign Ruler of the world, Who govern all things with infinite Wisdom, Order, and Charity, nothing but good can spring; and that I can take care of them and their affairs far better and more successfully than they could of themselves.4

2. Patience and Inner Sweetness

And thus considering that I and none other am the Author of all that they have to endure, they are strong with an invincible patience, and suffer all things, not only with resignation, but with cheerfulness and joy,5 tasting in all things which befall them externally or internally the sweetness of My ineffable charity.

And this is to “think of the Lord in goodness” (Wis. 1:1), that is, to believe, and meditate with a cheerful and grateful spirit, even in the midst of tribulations and difficulties, that it is I who sweetly dispose all things, and that whatever happens springs from the inexhaustible fountain of My goodness.

But the great good which this holy consideration and blessed disposition of heart would effect, is hindered, corrupted, and destroyed solely by this one thing, the love of yourselves and of your own will. If you destroy this within you, there shall be no more hell for you, neither the eternal torment of body and soul prepared for the damned, nor that other hell of interior turmoil which you make for yourselves and suffer during your mortal life, through your perpetual agitations and anxious cares about many things.

Conclusion

The Lord

If, therefore, thou wouldst live in grace in this world which passes rapidly away, and if thou wouldst live in glory in that world which has no end, seek to die to thyself, denying thyself and laying down thine own will.

For “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Apoc. 14:13), and “blessed also are the poor in spirit” (St. Matt. 5:3), since they already see Me in a manner in this their pilgrimage by reciprocal love, and shall behold Me hereafter in glory and honor in their true home. So be it.

Translation by Sister Drane

Footnotes by Fr Bernadot O.P., published in 1919

1The eternal Father also said: “if you will arrive at a perfect knowledge and enjoyment of Me, the Eternal Truth, that you should never go outside the knowledge of yourself, and, by humbling yourself in the valley of humility, you will know Me and yourself, from which knowledge you will draw all that is necessary. No virtue, my daughter, can have life in itself except through charity, and humility, which is the foster-mother and nurse of charity. In self-knowledge, then, you will humble yourself, seeing that, in yourself, you do not even exist; for your very being, as you will learn, is derived from Me, since I have loved both you and others before you were in existence” (Dialogue 4, Treatise of Divine Providence, § “How desire and contrition of heart satisfies”).

2St. Catherine loved to recommend her followers to live in the inner cell: “if you want to hear and find the fruit of my will, be you always dwellers in the cell of your soul, which cell is a well, and which well holds water and earth within itself (in which earth we can know our misery: we know we do not exist; since we are not, we thus see that our being is from God). O ineffable inflamed charity, I therefore see that the earth is found, the living water is gushing, that is, the true knowledge of His sweet and true will, which wants nothing more than our sanctification. So let us enter the depth of this well, for by force it will be agreed that, by living in it, we know ourselves and we know the goodness of God. Knowing we are not, we humiliate ourselves and enter the open consumed burnt heart, like a window without a door that never closes.” (Letter to Br. Th. della Fonte, n. 41).

3St. Catherine herself wrote: “God allows us to be tempted to prove our virtue, and for the growth of grace; not because we are defeated, but because we are victors: not trusting in our strength, but in divine help, saying with the sweet Apostle Paul: through Christ crucified “I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.” (Ph. 4:13).” (Letter to Dom Christopher, 335).

4St. Catherine to Br. William of England: “For, were it truly humble and not presumptuous, it would see well that the Sweet Primal Truth gives conditions, time and place, and consolation and tribulation, according as is needful to our perfection, and to fulfill in the soul the perfection to which it is chosen. It would see that everything is given through love, and therefore with love.” (Letter 54; Catherine of Siena. “To Brother William of England of the Hermit Brothers of St. Augustine.” In Saint Catherine of Siena as Seen in Her Letters, translated by Vida Dutton Scudder, 61. London; New York: J.M. Dent & Co.; E.P. Dutton & Co., 1905. https://archive.org/details/saintcatherineof00cath/page/61).

5The Lord said to Catherine: “Those who are in this sweet light know it, and remain constantly in peace and quiet, and no one scandalizes them, for they have cut away that thing by which stumbling-blocks are caused, namely their own will. […] And he rejoices more in the different ways of holiness which he sees, than if he were to see all traveling by one road, because, in this way, he perceives the greatness of My Goodness become more manifest, and thus, rejoicing, draws from all the fragrance of the rose.” (Dialogue 100, Treatise of Prayer, § “Of the third and most perfect state”).

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé No. 35: March 2021

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

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  Pius IX at the First Vatican Council


No. 35: March 2021

Who remembers Vatican I?

The 150th anniversary of Vatican I didn’t get much attention in our de-Christianized world, nor even within the Church. Yet Vatican I was fundamental, for many reasons:

1- The history of the first Vatican Council — as agitated as it is fascinating — represents one of the summits of the combat opposing Revelation and Revolution, for over two centuries. In the presence of Pope Pius IX, mighty bishops, including figures as different as Bishops Manning, Darboy, Dupanloup and Pie, come face to face in battle.

2- The first document of Vatican I, the constitution Dei Filius, on the notion of Faith, exposes the relations between Faith and reason in a particularly balanced fashion. It condemns not only the excess of refusing any Faith (rationalism), but also the error of belittling reason (fideism). In defining the foundations of Faith, it defines at the same time the true methods of Catholic apologetics. Before our simplistic world, which only admits mathematical science on one hand, and subjective, unverifiable opinions (left to the free choice of each person) on the other, the Council affirms the authority of Christian Revelation, which falls under neither category.

3- The second document, the constitution Pastor aeternus, on the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, clearly and definitively indicates the goal of the Church’s magisterium, which is not to reveal any new doctrine, but simply to maintain and faithfully proclaim the Revelation handed down by the Apostles (the “deposit of the Faith”). In defining precisely the conditions of an infallible declaration ex cathedra, the document allows us to safely resist the neo-modernist “magisterium” of recent Popes, without relativizing the traditional magisterium of the Church.

4- The unfinished Council, having the time to promulgate only two constitutions, left a certain amount of preparatory work that is still useful today. (For more developments, see the summer 2020 issue of our review Le Sel de la Terre.)

Contrast with Vatican II

Since 1965, the striking contrast with Vatican II provides even more reasons to study Vatican I.

Vatican I was the theatre of a mortal struggle between two types of Catholicism: one that attacks error, and one that dreams of reconciliation with the world, avoiding what Bishop Dupanloup called the “irritating questions.” Whereas Vatican I was, according to Bishop Manning, the Council of Authority in opposition to triumphal Revolution, Vatican II was the Council of the Surrender of authority, drowned in collegiality, manipulated by the politically correct, and humbly submissive to all the orders of the international press.

By its constitution Dei Filius, Vatican I was the council of the clear distinction between the natural and supernatural orders. To the contrary, Vatican II, which obstinately refused to use the word “supernatural,” was the council of the blurring of the two orders. Vatican I was the council of apologetics, clearly exposing and defining the reasons to believe in Catholic doctrine. Vatican II, however, handed over the Catholic Faith to all the sophisms of the modern world.

By its constitution Pastor aeternus, Vatican I was the council of the Magisterium. Vatican II, in refusing to define and condemn, is the council of “dialogue” with the world.

By its unfinished documents, Vatican I clearly traced the path that the following council should have taken. The preparatory texts of Vatican II actually did follow traditional lines, but were quickly discarded. Vatican I, in continuity with the Council of Trent from its very outset, was a council of fidelity; Vatican II was a council of rupture.

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Assumption Procession

The Grave Problem of Invalid Baptisms

The liturgical anarchy that has been raging for over 60 years can have some very grave consequences. Two recent examples:

1) On June 24th, 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith officially issued a reminder of the traditional doctrine, according to which the Baptism formula, “We baptize you, in the name of the Father, etc.” is invalid. (This formula, using the plural rather than the singular, is in vogue in modernist circles, as it allows the “People of God” to usurp the role of the priest.)

Hearing of this decision in August, a priest in the archdiocese of Detroit, Fr. Matthew Hood, decided to watch the video of his Baptism… There he saw the deacon using the invalid formula! Invalid Baptism, invalid priesthood… as well as the invalidity of all the sacraments he had himself administered since his “ordination” in 2017.

2) In Brittany, last September, a young girl was preparing for her First Communion. In questioning the parents, the priest realized that the girl had not validly received the sacrament of Baptism: indeed, the God-mother had poured the water while the priest pronounced the words!

Community Chronicle

August 11th: Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of Mr. Okuniewski, the father of Fr. Hyacinthe-Marie. Providentially, Father was in Poland just a few days earlier, and was able to administer Extreme Unction and Holy Communion to his father before his departure for eternity.

August 14th: Reception of the habit for a new lay brother, Br. Mannes (after the name of Saint Dominic’s brother, who was one of his first companions in the Order).

August 15th: Feast of the Assumption: solemn High Mass celebrated by newly-ordained Fr. Alain, followed by first benedictions, conference on Maximilian Kolbe, and procession.

August 26th: Fr. Marie-Laurent leaves for the Czech Republic to lead a pilgrimage and preach a recollection for a group of faithful.

August 29th and 30th: Fr. Hyacinthe-Marie and Br. Agostinho participate in the pilgrimage at Puy-en-Velay, presided by Bishop Faure.

September: A momentary lifting of the lockdown permits the Fathers to organize a few meetings for our tertiaries at Lyons, Paris, Chartres… in Alsace, Auvergne…

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Adoration of the Cross


September 14th: Feast of the Holy Cross: solemn High Mass, followed by the benediction of a new Calvary at the entrance of the property. The next day: benediction of a new outdoor statue of Our Lady, sculpted by our Br. Bernard-Marie.

October 20th: First vows of Br. Antonin, who now starts his studies of philosophy and theology in view of the priesthood.

November 12th: Fr. Prior is at Nimes for the funeral services of Fr. Raffali, a fighter for the Faith since the beginnings of Tradition, and founder of the Stella Maris community for the education of boys.

On the same day: Br. Louis-de-Gonzague (Anthony Scmidt, from Wisconsin) makes his perpetual profession in the Third Order, as an oblate brother living in the Friary.

(see picture below)

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Late November: It’s the season for plantations! Thanks to a friend of the Friary, we now have a professional orchard next to our vegetable garden (which has more than doubled in size since last year): pears, plums, cherries, apricots, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, will now (God-willing) be available to the community, even if the economy takes a turn for the worse.

December 8th: Feast of the Immaculate Conception: in lieu of the traditional procession in the streets of Angers (prohibited because of the Corona madness), Fr. Marie-Laurent leads the faithful in a public Rosary in front of the Cathedral.

December 18th-20th: Fathers Marie-Laurent and Hyacinthe-Marie are in Riddes Switzerland preaching an Advent recollection.

December 31st: The Church is full for the Solemn Te Deum sung after the office of Compline.

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News From Our Worksites

The Construction permit for the new Parish Hall has finally been granted! The work is planned to start after Easter.

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Parish Hall Project

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A new gate has been installed at the South entrance of the property, in order to limit access to “passers-by”, who have become more and more numerous these past years.

The work on the East wing façade is finished. After the parish hall is built, the restoration of the West wing (crumbling stone and leaky roof) will be undertaken.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support, without which none of this would be possible!

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For timely articles and spiritual reading, please go to our website:

www.dominicansavrille.us

To send a donation:

YOU MAY USE PAYPAL (ON OUR WEBSITE), OR SEND TO:

In the U.S.:

Dominicans of Avrillé, Inc.
P.O. Box 23, Newman Lake, WA. 99025

In Canada:

Association of St. Dominic

CIBC, 201-21 Street East

Saskatoon (SK) S7K OB8 Canada

Please include a note, and specify:

acc. #40-91531

In the U.K.:

Association of St. Dominic

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For more information :

Couvent de la Haye-aux-Bonshommes

49240 Avrillé, France

Dialogue About Perfection – Part 2

Dialogue About Perfection (Part 2)

by Saint Catherine of Siena

  (Published in French by Éditions du Sel)

    1. The Precept of Charity

Now when that soul [of Saint Catherine of Siena] had heard these most salutary doctrines of truth, she replied full of joy:

      • Catherine

It rejoices me more than I am able to express that Thou hast been pleased to instruct Thy most humble servant; and, as much as in me lies, I render thanks for it to Thy most gracious Majesty. Truly, as far as I can comprehend with my limited understanding, the thing cannot be otherwise than as Thou hast taught me and so well explained by the example of my blessed Savior.

For Thou, being the highest good and the only good, Who canst not will sin, but only that which is just and right, I must infallibly do all that ought to be done if I fulfill Thy Will; and I shall fulfill Thy Will if for Thy love I contradict my own, which Thou wilt not in any way constrain, but dost leave it perfectly free1, that I, by voluntarily and constantly subjecting it to Thine, may become dearer and more full in Thy sight.

I desire greatly to begin to do that which Thou hast told me; but as yet I understand not well in what Thy Will is found, and by what faithful service I can best consecrate myself wholly to its fulfillment. I humbly pray Thee, therefore, if I be not importunate, and if my boldness trespasses not on Thy condescension, to instruct me briefly upon this also, which above all things I desire to know.

And the Lord said to her:

      • The Lord

If thou seekest to know My Will, that thou mayest perfectly fulfill it, behold in one word that which it is: that thou shouldst love Me to the utmost of thy power without ceasing; that thou shouldst love Me with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy strength”. It is on the performance of this precept that all thy perfection depends; and therefore it is written that “the end of the commandment is charity, and that love is the fulfilling of the law” (1 Tim. 1:5; Rom. 13:10).

    1. Explanation of the Precept of Charity

To these things that soul replied:

      • Catherine

I understand well that Thy Will and my perfection consists in loving Thee truly as I ought with ardent love and sovereign charity; but I comprehend not well how I am to do this. I beseech Thee, instruct me also briefly on this point.

And God said to her:

      • The Lord

Hear then and be attentive with all the application of thy mind to what I am about to tell thee. If thou desirest to love Me perfectly, thou hast three things to do.

        1. To love God Above All and Absolutely

First, thy will must be detached, removed, and separated from every carnal and earthly affection, so that in this life thou shouldst love nothing temporal, fading, and transitory, except for Me. And what is yet more and above all, thou must not love Me, or thy neighbor, or thyself for thyself, but thou must love all for Me alone.2 For Divine love cannot tolerate any other affection with it or any earthly love. Therefore, so far as thou shalt permit thy heart to be infected with any contagion of earthly things, so far thou wilt sin against My love and fail of thy perfection; for a pure and holy soul should hold in abhorrence all that gives pleasure and enjoyment to sense. Never suffer any of the things My bounty has created for the use of men to hinder thee from loving Me. For to this end have I created all things and given thereto man, that he, knowing more fully through them the richness of My bounty, may love Me in return with a larger affection.3

Bridle therefore with a strong hand thy appetites and carnal concupiscence; keep perpetual guard over thyself; and courageously resist all those earthly desires which Thy corrupt nature and this miserable mortal life excite in thy heart, that thou mayest be able to sing with the prophet: “Blessed be God, who hath given strength and agility to my feet”, i.e. to the feet of the soul4, which are the affections; “who hath made my feet like the feet of harts”, that they may flee from the dogs; i.e. the snares of concupiscence of earthly things; and “setteth me upon high places” (Ps. 17:34), i.e. raiseth me to contemplation.

        1. To Seek Only the Glory of God, and be an Apostle

When thou shalt have fully executed all this, thou mayest proceed to the exercise of the second thing, which is of yet higher perfection. And this is: that thou shouldst direct all thy affections, all thy thoughts, and all thy actions to My glory and hono alone, and employ thyself continually with all earnestness in praising and glorifying Me, by prayers, by words, by example, and in whatever way thou canst. And this thou must endeavor so to do as to excite in all others, as well as in thyself, these same affections and sentiments towards Me. Now this practice is yet more pleasing to Me than the first, because My Divine Will is thereby more perfectly and more directly fulfilled.5

        1. To Resign Oneself Completely and Confidently

There yet remains the third thing, which when thou shalt have achieved, thou mayest rest assured that nothing more is wanting to thee, and that thou hast reached perfect sanctity. This is, that thou shalt use thy utmost endeavor to attain such a disposition of spirit that thou mayest become one thing with Me, and thy will may become so entirely assimilated and conformed to My all-perfect Will, that not only shalt thou never desire that which is evil, but not even that which is good, if it be not according to My Will; so that whatever shall befall thee in this miserable life, from whatsoever quarter it may come, whether in things temporal or things spiritual, nothing shall ever disturb thy peace or trouble thy quietness of spirit; but thou shalt be established in a firm belief that I, thine omnipotent God, love thee with a dearer love and take of thee more watchful care than thou canst for thyself.

And the more perfectly thou dost abandon and resign thyself to Me, the more will I console thee with My grace, and make thee feel My presence; and thus thou wilt ever know more and more, and experience more fully, the tenderness of My love for thee.

    1. The Condition: Renunciation of Self-will

      • The Lord

But thou wilt never reach this measure of perfection except by a firm, constant, and absolute denial of self-will. He who neglects to acquire this, neglects at the same time the most sublime perfection; and he who cheerfully embraces it, executes at the same time My most holy Will, pleases Me in the highest degree, and has Me continually with him. For there is nothing more pleasing to Me than to abide within you and work in you by My grace; “for My delights are to be with the children of men” (Prov. 8:31), to transform them into Myself (if only they desire it, for I will in no way do violence to their free will); in such a manner that they may become one with Me in the participation of My infinite perfections, and especially My unchangeable peace and My most perfect tranquility.

    1. What God Did For Us In His Son

But, that thou mayest better comprehend how ardent are My desires to dwell with you, and mayest kindle in thyself a more fervent longing to subject and unite thy will with Mine, consider attentively that I have willed that My only begotten Son should become incarnate, that My Divinity, despoiled of every token of greatness or glory, should be united to humanity; in order that by this great act of benevolence and charity, by this ineffable demonstration of love, I might draw and constrain you in like manner to unite your will to Mine and to remain perpetually bound to Me alone.

Consider that I have willed further that this My Son should suffer the cruel, painful, and most fearful death of the Cross, to the end that by these torments He might destroy your sin, that sin which had raised a barrier of division between you and Me so effectually that I could in no way look upon you; that further in the highest of the Sacraments I have prepared for you a table, too little appreciated, of the Body and Blood of this My Son, in order that by partaking of it you may become transformed and changed into Me. Even as the bread and wine of which you partake is changed into the substance of your body, so you, by feeding under the species of bread and wine upon this My Son, who is one with Me, shall become spiritually transformed into Me. And this is what I have already spoken to my servant Augustine in these words: “I am the food of grown men; grow, and thou shalt feed on Me; nor shalt thou convert Me into thee, but I will convert thee into Myself.”6

To Be Continued…

Translation by sister Drane O.P. (XIXth century)

Footnotes by the Dominicans of Avrillé, translated by A.A.

 

1The Lord also told Catherine: “dearest daughter, […] [freewill] is yours, given by Me. You therefore, with free arbitration, can hold it or leave it, according as you please.” (Dialogue 43, Treatise of Discretion, § “Of the use of temptations”).

2“My Truth said, ‘Will you arrive at perfect purity, and be freed from stumbling-blocks, so that your mind may not be scandalized by anything?’ Unite yourself always to Me by the affection of love, for I am the Supreme and Eternal Purity. I am that Fire which purifies the soul, and the closer the soul is to Me, the purer she becomes, and the further she is from Me, the more does her purity leave her; which is the reason why men of the world fall into such iniquities, for they are separated from Me, while the soul, who, without any medium, unites herself directly to Me, participates in My Purity.” (Dialogue 100, Treatise of Prayer, § “Of the third and most perfect state”).

3The Lord taught St. Catherine how to love one’s neighbor: “And simple souls, who often love creatures with spiritual love, know this well, for, if they have received My love sincerely without any self-regarding considerations, they satisfy the thirst of their love for their neighbor equally sincerely. If a man carry away the vessel which he has filled at the fountain and then drink of it, the vessel becomes empty, but if he keep his vessel standing in the fountain, while he drinks, it always remains full. So the love of the neighbor, whether spiritual or temporal, should be drunk in Me, without any self-regarding considerations.” (Dialogue 64, Treatise of Discretion, § “How an imperfect lover of God loves his neighbor also imperfectly”).

4“The feet of the soul, signifying her affection, are the first step, for the feet carry the body as the affection carries the soul.” (Dialogue 26, Treatise of Discretion, § “How this Bridge has three steps”).

5“This proves that you possess Me by grace in your soul, producing much fruit for your neighbor and making prayers to Me, seeking with sweet and amorous desire My honor and the salvation of souls. The soul, enamored of My truth, never ceases to serve the whole world in general, and more or less in a particular case […], for in the love of Me is fulfilled and completed the love of the neighbor” (Dialogue 7, Treatise of Divine Providence, § “How virtues are accomplished by means of our neighbor”).

6Another time, the Lord told Catherine: “See, dearest daughter, in what an excellent state is the soul who receives, as she should, this Bread of Life, this Food of the Angels. By receiving this Sacrament she dwells in Me and I in her, as the fish in the sea, and the sea in the fish – thus do I dwell in the soul, and the soul in Me – the Sea Pacific [‘Ocean of Peace’].” (Dialogue 112, Treatise of Prayer, § “Of the excellent state of the soul who receives the sacrament in grace.”).

Dialogue About Perfection

Dialogue About Perfection

  by Saint Catherine of Siena

   (published in French by Éditions du Sel. English version by A. A.)

The Honor of God; The Misery and Fragility of Man;

The Need to Strive for Perfection

The Author of the light communicated to a soul1. He made her understand her fragility and misery, ignorance and natural inclination to evil; at the same time, He gave her some glimpses of the greatness of God, His wisdom, power, goodness, and the other attributes of His majesty.

Thus enlightened, this soul saw how just and necessary it is to render perfect and holy worship to God. It is just, because He is the universal Lord Who created all things to praise His name and obtain His glory. Do not propriety and justice require that, respectful of his master, the servant give him service and loyalty? It is necessary, because man, composed of body and soul, was created in such a condition that he will only attain eternal life by voluntarily rendering faithful service to God up to the point of death; otherwise, he will never obtain the felicity that accumulates all honors.

However, there are few who render this service and, consequently, few who are saved, because almost all have their own interests in mind and not those of God.

This soul also saw that the days of man are short, that the day is uncertain when the fleeting time to merit will end, that no redemption is possible in hell, and that in the future life, He will justly pronounce an immutable and inevitable sentence on each, the reward or punishment that his way of living deserved.

This soul again considered that, on the one hand, we often talk too much and preach abundantly and variously on the virtues which render this worship and faithful service to God; and that, on the other hand, because of his lack of aptitude, obtuse intelligence, and feeble memory, man cannot understand many things nor faithfully retain what he learned. Also, while many are in a perpetual quest to learn something new, very few apply themselves to attaining perfection and serving God as is right and necessary for Him; but nearly all, preoccupied and given over to the agitations and fluctuations of the mind, habitually live in extreme peril.

The Desire for Perfection

This soul, therefore, seeing all this, rose up before the Lord, moved by a burning desire and violent love, and asked the Divine Majesty to be good enough to give her some short and clear precepts to regulate our life now and to lead it to its perfection; precepts whose formulas would embrace the teaching of the Church and Holy Scripture, and whose observance would render the necessary honor to God and lead us from this brief and miserable life to the beatitude that He intends for us.

God inspires holy desires and never arouses them in a heart without satisfying them 2. So he immediately manifested Himself to this soul ravished in ecstasy and replied:

In What Does Complete Perfection Consist?

• The Lord

My beloved, your desires delight Me; I like them so much that I am much more eager to satisfy them than you can, and eager to see them satisfied. My desire is immense to give you, when you want it, the useful and necessary benefits for your salvation. So I am ready to do whatever you want.

Listen carefully to what I am going to tell you, I, the ineffable and infallible truth. To answer your request, I am going to explain to you in a few words the practice which contains complete perfection, along with all the virtues, the summary of Scriptures and many discourses. If you conform your life to it and observe it, you will accomplish all that is clear and mysterious in the divine teachings, and you will enjoy perpetual joy and peace.

Doing God’s Will Alone, Following Christ’s Example

• The Lord

Thus, know that the salvation and the perfection of My servants consist in one thing: to do only My will, to strive with a sovereign diligence always to accomplish it; to work at all hours to serve only Me, to honor only Me, to seek only Me. The more diligence My servants bring to it, the more they approach perfection, because they more closely adhere and are united to Me, Who am sovereign perfection.

To better understand the truth contained in these few words, look at my Christ in whom I am very pleased 3. He annihilated himself in the form of a slave; He took on the likeness of sin because, plunged into thick darkness and straying from the path of truth, He wanted to enlighten you with the splendors of His light and bring you back to the straight way by His word and example4. He was obedient unto death to teach you through His persevering obedience that your salvation depends on a firm resolution to do My will alone. Anyone who wishes to meditate diligently on His life and His doctrine realizes, without a doubt, that the justice and perfection of men rests solely on generous, perpetual, and faithful obedience to My will.

Your leader, Christ, has taught it many times: “Not everyone that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father” (Mt. 7:21).

And notice that it is not without reason that He repeats twice: “Lord, Lord”; the states of this world being reduced to two principal ones, the religious state and the secular state. He means that no one, in any state whatsoever, can attain eternal glory, even by giving Him all external honors, if he does not do God’s will.

My Son said again: “I came down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him that sent Me5. (…) My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me6. (…) Father … not My will, but Thine be done7. (…) as the Father hath given Me commandments, so do I8.”

So if you want, like your Savior, to do My will, which contains your happiness, it is necessary that in all things you despise your own will, that you renounce it, that you destroy it9. The more you purify yourself of what is yours, the more I will give you what is mine.

To be continued

1It is the soul of Saint Catherine.

2On another occasion, the Eternal Father said to St. Catherine: “I do not despise the desire of my servants, yet I give to him who asks and invite you to ask. (…) sometimes, to test your desires and perseverance, I pretend not to hear you, but I hear you and give you what you need, because I give you hunger and the voice with which you cry out to me, and seeing your constancy, I fulfill your desires when they are ordered and directed toward me.” (Dialogue ch. 107)

3St. Catherine wrote: “Christ is on the cross as our rule, like a written book which anyone, even the ignorant and blind, can read. The first line of this book is hatred and love: love of the honor of the Father, hatred of sin.” (Letter to Br. Lazzani)

4The Eternal Father had already said to Catherine: “What caused the great obedience of the Word? The love which He had for My honor and your salvation. Whence proceeded this love? From the clear vision with which His soul saw the divine essence and the eternal Trinity, thus always looking on Me, the eternal God. His fidelity obtained this vision most perfectly for Him, which vision you imperfectly enjoy by the light of holy faith. He was faithful to Me, His eternal Father, and therefore hastened as one enamored along the road of obedience” (Dialogue 154 ; THOROLD Ed., Treatise of Obedience, §1).

5 John 6:38

6 John 4:34

7 Luke 22:42

8John 22:42

9Self-will is that which, being inspired neither by the glory of God nor the salvation of souls, proposes only its personal satisfaction. It is directly contrary to charity. Nothing is more essential than its destruction.

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

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No. 34: August 2020

A Bishop Speaks Out

Bishop Carlo Vigano, former Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., has come into the forefront in recent months, speaking publically against the Second Vatican Council in itself (and not just the “abuses”). Here are a few excerpts that we hope will encourage you to pray for this courageous prelate.

What leaves one truly scandalized is seeing how the top levels of the Hierarchy are openly placing themselves at the service of the Prince of this world, adopting the demands made by the United Nations for the globalist agenda, Masonic brotherhood, Malthusian ecologism, immigrationism… What is being created is a single world religion without dogmas or morals; according to the wishes of Freemasonry…it is obvious that Bergoglio, along with those who are behind him and support him, aspires to preside over this infernal parody of the Church of Christ. (letter to a cloistered nun published 31 May)

It seems that even the post-conciliar church, modernist and Masonic, aspires to transform, to overcome the Church of Christ, replacing it with a “neo-church”, deformed and monstrous creature that does not come from God.

The purpose of this neo-church is not to […] convert and save all people […], but to establish itself as the spiritual arm of the New World Order and advocate of Universal Religion. In this sense, the Council’s revolution first had to demolish the Church’s heritage, its millenary Tradition, from which it drew its vitality and authority as the Mystical Body of Christ, then get rid of the exponents of the old Hierarchy, and only recently has it begun to offer itself without pretense for what it intends to be.

[This] represents the concretization of Freemasonry’s plan and the preparation for the advent of the Antichrist. (interview, April 21, 2020)

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Ordination of Br. Alain

Attempts to correct the conciliar excesses – invoking the hermeneutic of continuity – have proven unsuccessful […]. If the image of an infernal divinity was able to enter into Saint Peter’s, this is part of a crescendo which the other side foresaw from the beginning. […]

What the world wants, at the instigation of Masonry and its infernal tentacles, is to create a universal religion that is humanitarian and ecumenical, from which the jealous God whom we adore is banished. […]

It is surprising that people persist in not wanting to investigate the root causes of the present crisis, limiting themselves to deploring the present excesses as if they were not the logical and inevitable consequence of a plan orchestrated decades ago. […]

I was one of the many people who, despite many perplexities and fears which today have proven to be absolutely legitimate, trusted the authority of the Hierarchy with unconditional obedience. In reality, I think that many people, including myself, did not initially consider the possibility that there could be a conflict between obedience to an order of the Hierarchy and fidelity to the Church herself.

[…] It is undeniable that from Vatican II onwards a parallel church was built, superimposed over and diametrically opposed to the true Church of Christ. This parallel church progressively obscured the divine institution founded by Our Lord in order to replace it with a spurious entity, corresponding to the desired universal religion that was first theorized by Masonry. Expressions like new humanism, universal fraternity, dignity of man, are the watchwords of philanthropic humanitarianism which denies the true God.

[…]For decades we have been led into error, in good faith, by people who, established in authority, have not known how to watch over and guard the flock of Christ.

[…] Just as I honestly and serenely obeyed questionable orders sixty years ago, believing that they represented the loving voice of the Church, so today with equal serenity and honesty I recognize that I have been deceived. […]

And we know well that the purpose of these ecumenical and interreligious initiatives is not to convert those who are far from the one Church to Christ, but to divert and corrupt those who still hold the Catholic Faith, leading them to believe that it is desirable to have a great universal religion that brings together the three great Abrahamic religions “in a single house”: this is the triumph of the Masonic plan in preparation for the kingdom of the Antichrist! (excursus on Vat II: June 9, 2020)

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Enlargement of the garden

Bishop Vigano is equally lucid concerning the recent “Corona Virus” scare:

And it appears that the children of darkness – whom we may easily identify with the deep state which you wisely oppose and which is fiercely waging war against you in these days – have decided to show their cards, so to speak, by now revealing their plans. They seem to be so certain of already having everything under control that they have laid aside that circumspection that until now had at least partially concealed their true intentions. The investigations already under way will reveal the true responsibility of those who managed the Covid emergency not only in the area of health care but also in politics, the economy, and the media. (letter to Pres. Trump: June 7, 2020)

We have reason to believe, on the basis of official data on the incidence of the epidemic as related to the number of deaths, that there are powers interested in creating panic among the world’s population with the sole aim of permanently imposing unacceptable forms of restriction on freedoms, of controlling people and of tracking their movements. The imposition of these illiberal measures is a disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control. (declaration of May 2020)

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Getting the terrain ready for the garden: the boys lend a hand for the removal of some heavy material


Community Chronicle

December 12th: The children of Saint Philomena’s School, with Father Angelico, present their Christmas Pageant for the residents of a local retirement home.

January 24th: A Requiem Mass is sung for the soul of Mrs. Maria-Helena Pacheco dos Santos, the mother of our Br. Louis-Bertrand (Brazil).

February 17th-24th: Fr. Angelico accompanies the seniors from St. Thomas Aquinas on their pilgrimage to Rome. Providentially (considering the turn of events), it was decided to go in February instead of during Easter vacation, as usual.

February 21st – 23rd: Fr. Marie-Dominique and Br. Alain are in Brittany for the Third Order and a meeting of the Knights of Our Lady.

March 1st: Again in Brittany, this time it’s Fr. Hyacinthe-Marie and Br. Agostinho for a recollection with the Sisters of Mary Coredemptrix.

March 6th-8th: Fr. Marie-Laurent is in Ireland.

March 22nd: The schools are closed and public Masses are forbidden, but the Fathers are far from being on vacation. Not only do classes have to continue “by correspondence,” but the spiritual support of the faithful (especially the sick and isolated) becomes a top priority.

March 28th: Bishop Faure confers the first minor orders to our Br. Augustin-Marie.

Mai 1st: For his feast day, the installation of a new little oratory for St. Joseph (built by Brothers Bernard-Marie and Martin), in the garden behind the friary. The previous one was erected in 1995, at the start of the reconstruction of the fourth wing. After having watched over the construction, St. Joseph is now supervising the final stage of work: the covering of the bare cement wall with typical slate rocks of the region.

May 30th: Two postulants (both from France) receive the habit: Martin receives the clerical habit, with the name Br. Vincent; Christophe receives the habit of lay brother and the name Br. Betharram (after Our Lady of Betharram, honored in his native region close to Lourdes).

June 6th: 23 souls receive the sacrament of Confirmation at the hands of Bishop Faure.

June 26th: Br. Alain is ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Faure at the friary.

Month of July: Thanks to God, all our summer activities were able to proceed as planned: spiritual retreats (one for women/girls, one for couples), camps (The Cadets of the Sacred Heart do an itinerant camp in Brittany, the children of Our Lady of Fatima camp in Anjou), General Chapter of the Knights of Our Lady…

News from our worksites

The covering of the façade of the east wing is well under way, and the renovation of the west wing may be able to start this year. Red tape is still blocking the construction of the Parish Hall. Please keep this intention in your prayers! The need for more building space is all the more urgent considering the possible “social-distancing” measures that may be required soon…

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Covering the Façade

Thanks to a friend of the friary, a specialist in organic farming, we were able to start a real, “monastic-sized” vegetable garden!

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The New Garden


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