Practice of Christian Mortification – Part 2 (of 2)

Practice of Christian Mortification – Part 2 (of 2)

by Cardinal Mercier

(continued)

Mortifications to practice in our exterior actions

1 — You ought to show the greatest exactitude in observing all the points of your rule of life, obeying them without delay, remembering Saint John Berchmans, who said: “Penance for me is to lead the common life”; “To have the highest regard for the smallest things, such is my motto”; “Rather die than break a single rule.”

2 —In the exercise of your duties of state, try to be well-pleased with whatever happens to be most unpleasant or boring for you, recalling again here the words of Saint Francis: “I am never better than when I am not well.”

3 — Never give one moment over to sloth: from morning until night keep busy without respite.

4 — If your life is, at least partly, spent in study, apply to yourself this advice from Saint Thomas Aquinas to his pupils: “Do not be content to take in superficially what you read and hear, but endeavour to go into it deeply and to fathom the whole sense of it.  Never remain in doubt about what you could know with certainty.  Work with a holy eagerness to enrich your mind; arrange and classify in your memory all the knowledge you are able to acquire.  On the other hand, do not seek to penetrate mysteries which are beyond your intelligence.”

5 — Devote yourself solely to your present occupation, without looking back on what went before or anticipating in thought what will follow.  Say with Saint Francis: “While I am doing this I am not obliged to do anything else”; “let us make haste very calmly; all in good time.”

6 — Be modest in your bearing.  Nothing was so perfect as Saint Francis’s deportment; he always kept his head straight, avoiding alike the inconstancy which turns it in all directions, the negligence which lets it droop forward and the proud and haughty disposition which throws it back.  His countenance was always peaceful, free from all annoyance, always cheerful, serene and open; without however any merriment or indiscreet humour, without loud, immoderate or too frequent laughter.

He was as composed when alone as in a large gathering. He did not cross his legs, never supported his head on his elbow. When he prayed he was motionless as a statue. When nature suggested to him he should relax, he did not listen.

7 — Regard cleanliness and order as a virtue, uncleanness and untidyness as a vice; do not have dirty, stained or torn clothes. On the other hand, regard luxury and worldliness as a greater vice still. Make sure that, on seeing your way of dressing, nobody calls it “slovenly” or “elegant”, but that everybody is bound to think it “decent”.

Mortifications to practice in our relations with our neighbour

1 — Bear with your neighbour’s defects; defects of education, of mind, of character. Bear with everything about him which irritates you: his gait, his posture, tone of voice, accent, or whatever.

2 — Bear with everything in everybody and endure it to the end and in a Christian spirit. Never with that proud patience which makes one say: “What have I to do with so and so? How does what he says affect me? What need have I for the affection, the kindness or even the politeness of any creature at all and of that person in particular?” Nothing accords less with the will of God than this haughty unconcern, this scornful indifference; it is worse, indeed, than impatience.

3 — Are you tempted to be angry?  For the love of Jesus, be meek.

To avenge yourself?  Return good for evil; it is said the great secret of touching Saint Teresa’s heart was to do her a bad turn.

To look sourly at someone?  Smile at him with good nature.

To avoid meeting him?  Seek him out willingly.

To talk badly of him?  Talk well of him.

To speak harshly to him?  Speak very gently, warmly, to him.

4 — Love to give praise to your companions, especially those you are naturally most inclined to envy.

5 — Do not be witty at the expense of charity.

6 — If somebody in your presence should take the liberty of making remarks which are rather improper, or if someone should hold conversations likely to injure his neighbour’s reputation, you may sometimes rebuke the speaker gently, but more often it will be better to divert the conversation skillfully, or indicate by a gesture of sorrow or of deliberate inattention that what is said displeases you.

7 — It costs you an effort to render a small service: offer to do it.  You will have twice the merit.

8 — Avoid with horror posing as a victim in your own eyes or those of others.  Far be it from you to exaggerate your burdens; strive to find them light; they are so, in reality, much more often than it seems; they would be so always if you were more virtuous.

Conclusion

In general, know how to refuse to nature what she asks of you unnecessarily.

Know how to make her give what she refuses you for no reason.  Your progress in virtue, says the author of The Imitation of Christ, will be in proportion to the violence that you succeed in doing to yourself.

“It is necessary to die,” said the saintly Bishop of Geneva, “it is necessary to die in order that God may live in us, for it is impossible to achieve the union of the soul with God by any means other than by mortification.  These words ‘it is necessary to die’ are hard, but they will be followed by a great sweetness, because one dies to oneself for no other reason than to be united to God by that death.”   

Would to God we had the right to apply to ourselves these beautiful words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians:  “In all things we suffer tribulation… Always bearing about in our body the death of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies.” (II Cor 4:8-10)

Practice of Christian Mortification

Practice of Christian Mortification

by Cardinal Mercier

N.B.: All the practices of mortification which we have collected here are derived from the examples of the saints, especially Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Teresa, Saint Francis de Sales, Saint John Berchmans; or they are recommended by acknowledged masters of the spiritual life, such as the Venerable Louis de Blois, Rodriguez, Scaramelli, Msgr Gay, Abbé Allemand, Abbé Hamon, Abbé Dubois, etc…

Mortification of the body

1 — In the matter of food, restrict yourself as far as possible to simple necessity. Consider these words which Saint Augustine addressed to God: “O my God, Thou hast taught me to take food only as a remedy. Ah! Lord, who is there among us who does not sometimes exceed the limit here? If there is such a one, I say that man is great, and must give great glory to Thy name.” (Confessions, book X, ch. 31)

2— Pray to God often, pray to God daily to help you by His grace so that you do not overstep the limits of necessity and do not permit yourself to give way to pleasure.

3— Take nothing between meals, unless out of necessity or for the sake of convenience.

4— Practise fasting and abstinence, but practise them only under obedience and with discretion.

5— It is not forbidden for you to enjoy some bodily satisfaction, but do so with a pure intention, giving thanks to God.

6— Regulate your sleep, avoiding in this all faint-heartedness, all softness, especially in the morning. Set an hour, if you can, for going to bed and getting up, and keep strictly to it.

7— In general, take your rest only in so far as it is necessary; give yourself generously to work, not sparing your labour. Take care not to exhaust your body, but guard against indulging it; as soon as you feel it even a little disposed to play the master, treat it at once as a slave.

8— If you suffer some slight indisposition, avoid being a nuisance to others through your bad mood; leave to your companions the task of complaining for you; for yourself, be patient and silent as the Divine Lamb who has truly borne all our weaknesses.

9— Guard against making the slightest illness a reason for dispensation or exemption from your daily schedule. “One must detest like the plague every exception when it comes to rules,” wrote Saint John Berchmans.

10 —Accept with docility, endure humbly, patiently and with perseverance, the tiresome mortification called illness.

Mortification of the senses, of the imagination and the passions

1 — Close your eyes always and above all to every dangerous sight, and even – have the courage to do it – to every frivolous and useless sight. See without looking; do not gaze at anybody to judge of their beauty or ugliness.

2—Keep your ears closed to flattering remarks, to praise, to persuasion, to bad advice, to slander, to uncharitable mocking, to indiscretions, to ill-disposed criticism, to suspicions voiced, to every word capable of causing the very smallest coolness between two souls.

3 — If the sense of smell has something to suffer due to your neighbour’s infirmity or illness, far be it from you ever to complain of it; draw from it a holy joy.

4 — In what concerns the quality of food, have great respect for Our Lord’s counsel: “Eat such things as are set before you.”   “Eat what is good without delighting in it, what is bad without expressing aversion to it, and show yourself equally indifferent to the one as to the other. There,”says Saint Francis de Sales, “is real mortification.”

5 — Offer your meals to God; at table impose on yourself a tiny penance: for example, refuse a sprinkling of salt, a glass of wine, a sweet, etc.; your companions will not notice it, but God will keep account of it.

6— If what you are given appeals to you very much, think of the gall and the vinegar given to Our Lord on the cross: that cannot keep you from tasting, but will serve as a counterbalance to the pleasure.

7— You must avoid all sensual contact, every caress in which you set some passion, by which you look for passion, from which you take a joy which is principally of the senses.

8— Refrain from going to warm yourself, unless this is necessary to save you from being unwell.

9— Bear with everything which naturally grieves the flesh, especially the cold of winter, the heat of summer, a hard bed and every inconvenience of that kind. Whatever the weather, put on a good face; smile at all temperatures. Say with the prophet: “Cold, heat, rain, bless ye the Lord.” It will be a happy day for us when we are able to say with a good heart these words which were familiar to Saint Francis de Sales: “I am never better than when I am not well.”

10— Mortify your imagination when it beguiles you with the lure of a brilliant position, when it saddens you with the prospect of a dreary future, when it irritates you with the memory of a word or deed which offended you.

11— If you feel within you the need to day-dream, mortify it without mercy.

12— Mortify yourself with the greatest care in the matter of impatience, of irritation, or of anger.

13— Examine your desires thoroughly; submit them to the control of reason and of faith:  Do you never desire a long life rather than a holy life, wish for pleasure and well-being without trouble or sadness, victory without battle, success without setbacks, praise without criticism, a comfortable, peaceful life without a cross of any sort – a that is to say, a life quite opposite to that of Our Divine Lord?

14—Take care not to acquire certain habits which, without being positively bad, can become injurious, such as habits of frivolous reading, of playing at games of chance, etc..

15— Seek to discover your predominant failing and, as soon as you have recognised it, pursue it all the way to its last retreat. To that purpose, submit with good will to whatever could be monotonous or boring in the practice of the examination of conscience.

16— You are not forbidden to have a heart and to show it, but be on your guard against the danger of exceeding due measure.  Resist attachments which are too natural, particular friendships and all softness of the heart.

Mortification of the mind and of the will

1— Mortify your mind by denying it all fruitless imaginings, all ineffectual or wandering thoughts which waste time, dissipate the soul, and render work and serious things distasteful.

2— Every gloomy and anxious thought should be banished from your mind. Concern about all that could happen to you later on should not worry you at all. As for the bad thoughts which bother you in spite of yourself, you should, in dismissing them, make of them a subject for patience.  Being involuntary, they will simply be for you an occasion of merit.

3—Avoid obstinacy in your ideas, stubbornness in your sentiments. You should willingly let the judgments of others prevail, unless there is a question of matters on which you have a duty to give your opinion and speak out.

4— Mortify the natural organ of your mind, which is to say the tongue. Practise silence gladly, whether your rule prescribes it for you or whether you impose it on yourself of your own accord.

5— Prefer to listen to others rather than to speak yourself; and yet speak appropriately, avoiding as extremes both speaking too much, which prevents others from telling their thoughts, and speaking too little, which suggests a hurtful lack of interest in what they say.

6— Never interrupt somebody who is speaking and do not forestall, by answering too swiftly, a question he would put to you.

7— Always have a moderate tone of voice, never abrupt or sharp.  Avoid exaggeration, as being horrible.

(To be continued)

Sister Lucy of Fatima and the Rosary

Sister Lucy of Fatima and the Rosary

“Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace in the world, and the end of the war.”

Our Lady of Fatima 13 May 1917

All souls of good will can and should pray the Rosary every day. They can recite it in a church whether the Most Holy Sacrament is exposed or residing in the tabernacle. They can pray it as a family as well as individually, while out and about or travelling. The Rosary is the most accessible prayer for everyone, both rich and poor, learned or uneducated. It should be like spiritual bread for everyone. By means of the mysteries which we recall in each decade, it nourishes and increases in our souls faith, hope and charity.

“I want … you to pray the rosary every day.”

13 June 1917

We should pray the Rosary every day for we all need to pray, and have a duty to do so. If we do not save ourselves through innocence, then we must save ourselves through penance. For this, let the small daily sacrifice of reciting the Rosary, which we offer to God, be united to this prayer of supplication:

‘Our Father Who art in Heaven… Forgive us as we forgive those who have offended us. ’     ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us poor sinners, now and at the hour of our death.’

“I want … you to continue praying the Rosary every day.“

13 July 1917

Our Lady stresses this and asks us to persevere in prayer.

It is not enough to pray for a day. We need to pray always, every day, with faith, trustingly, since every day we commit faults, and every day we need to turn to God asking Him to forgive us and help us.

“I want … you to continue to pray the rosary every day.”

19 August 1917

Our Lady is insistent because she knows our inconstancy in doing good, our fragility and our spiritual poverty, and like a Mother, she comes to meet us, to hold us by the hand and support us in our weakness along the path which we must follow to be saved. This path is that of prayer. It’s there that we shall meet with God. That’s why she has asked us to say, at the end of each decade, ‘ O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are most in need.’ That is, those who find themselves in danger of damnation.

“Continue to pray the rosary to obtain the end of the war.”

13 September 1917

By this insistence, Our Lady is showing us how we very much need to pray in order to obtain the grace of peace between nations, among peoples, in families, homes, consciences, and between God and souls.

It is only when the light, power and grace of God penetrate our hearts and souls that we will come to truly and mutually understand each other, forgive each other, and help each other. That is the only way to arrive at a true and just peace. But in order to obtain it, we need to pray!

“I want … you all to continue to pray the rosary every day.”

13 October 1917

Truly, the Rosary is the prayer that should bring us daily closer to God. It is not an exclusively Marian prayer; it is even more a biblical and Eucharistic prayer addressed to the most Holy Trinity. With each decade we pray the ‘Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Ghost’ , and the ‘Our Father’ which Christ taught us to pray so that we could address the Father with confidence.

And we recite the ‘Ave Maria’ which is also praise and supplication to God through Our Lady’s intercession. ‘Ave Maria, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst all women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.’

In this way we greet Mary in the mystery of our redemption, the mystery that God brought about in her, and through which Mary was appointed to be the Mother of God, Mother of the Church and Mother of men. This is why Mary was the first tabernacle in which the Father enclosed his Word, the first monstrance, and the first altar, where Our Lord has remained forever exposed to our adoration and our love.

Sister Lucy

The Devotion of the Five First Saturdays of the Month

The Devotion of the Five First Saturdays of the Month


“Father, the Blessed Virgin is very sad because no one has paid attention to her message, neither the good nor the bad.  The bad, because of their sins, do not see God’s chastisement already falling on them presently; they also continue on their path of badness, ignoring the message.  But, Father, you must believe me that God is going to punish the world and chastise it in a tremendous way.”

(Sister Lucy of Fatima, to Father Fuentes, 1957)

* If we listened to Our Lady, we could:

1.  Console Her, and pray for sinners

“Have compassion on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns which ungrateful men place therein at every moment, while there is no one who does an act of reparation to withdraw them for her.”

(The Child Jesus to Sister Lucy, December 10, 1925, Pontevedra)

“So numerous are the souls which the justice of God condemns for sins committed against Me, that I come to ask for reparation.  Sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray.”

(Our Lady to Sister Lucy, 1929)


2. Save our souls and other souls

“God wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world.  I promise salvation to those who embrace it; and these souls will be beloved of God like flowers arranged by me to adorn His throne.”

(Our Lady, during the apparition in Fatima, June 13, 1917)

“If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”

(Our Lady, during the apparition in Fatima, July 13, 1917)


3. Obtain peace in the world

“If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.  The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”

(Our Lady, during the apparition in Fatima, July13, 1917)

“Whether the world has war or peace depends on the practice of this devotion, along with the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  This is why I desire its propagation so ardently, especially because this is also the will of our dear Mother in Heaven.” (Sister Lucy, March 19, 1939)

* So, shall we pay attention to that message?

The Child Jesus complains to Sister Lucy:

It is true, my daughter, that many souls begin, but few persevere to the very end, and those who persevere do it to receive the graces promised.  The souls who make the five first Saturdays with fervor and to make reparation to the Heart of your Heavenly Mother, please Me more than those who make fifteen, but are lukewarm and indifferent.”

(Pontevedra, February 15, 1925)


What are the requirements?

On the first Saturday of the month, five consecutive months:

— make a confession (the confession can be made within eight days before or after the first Saturday);

— receive Holy Communion (it may be received on the first Sunday when the priests, for a just cause, allows the faithful);    [ Note from a Dominican Father:  In case of impossibility to go to Confession and Mass (Communion), then at least make a perfect Act of Contrition with the firm will to go to Confession as soon as possible (because one must be in the state of grace to fulfill the devotion of the five First Saturdays).  ]

— make a spiritual communion.”

— pray five decades of the Rosary;

— meditate for fifteen minutes on one or several of the mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation for the blasphemies and the offenses committed against Our Lady.


A devotion that applies to our whole Christian life

Let us listen to Sister Lucy of Fatima:

“Over and over again during those precious hours in which I was in her company, she emphasized that it is the fulfillment of one’s daily duty, according to one’s state in life (and the sanctification of this effort in reparation for our sins and for the conversion of sinners) which is the primary condition for the turning back of the tide of evil which threatens today’s world, and which will also bring us the great favor of the conversion of Russia and an era of peace for mankind.  But she also stressed that the Rosary is indeed important, because it is one of Our Lady’s principal aids given to us to facilitate the sanctification of our daily duty.”

(Memoirs of John Haffert concerning the Blue Army, AMI International Press, Washington, NJ, 1982, p 18)

In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph”

(Our Lady of Fatima; July 13, 1917)

(On this website www.dominicansavrille.us, read the article: Fatima, or the means chosen by God to redress the present situation.)

Mortification in our spiritual life

Mortification in our spiritual life

By Fr. Martín HARRISON, O.P.

How we dread the word “mortification”!  It suggests terrifying penances, hair-shirts, plank-beds and other extraordinary hardships practiced by some saint; mark the word “extraordinary.”  Such penances are not for “ordinary” people like ourselves, but for those called by God to be out of the ordinary through the help of special graces.

Yet penance in some form or another we must do, since we are bound to mortify the flesh and its desires.  What does mortification really mean?  In a spiritual sense it may be defined as the act of subduing the passions and appetites of our lower nature by fasting or severities inflicted on the body, the act of subordinating all natural impulses to the influence of the Holy Spirit, in a natural sense it may denote being humiliated by circumstances, depressed by disappointments or vexations; but these are not penances in the strict sense, though they may be turned into true mortification by our method of acceptance.

Mortification essentially consists in self-denial: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself” (Mt 16, 24).  Self-denial means saying “NO” to self, which for most people is a difficult thing to do.  By sin our willpower was weakened; we became prone to evil finding it easier to give in to the desires of the flesh than to resist them.  Because of sin the soul lost its domination over the flesh, so that “the flesh, lusteth against the spirit” (Ga 5:17).

The chief work of mortification is to strengthen the will power and heal the wounds caused by sinBy denying self what is lawful, the will is strengthened to resist what is unlawful, and some measure of atonement is made.  Therefore penance is imposed as a strict duty.  Thus the Lenten and other fasts imposed by the Church consist in refraining from a certain amount of food, otherwise lawful, so denying to us the pleasure of satisfying hunger completely.  Too often these grave obligations of fasting are dismissed as impracticable because of hardship or inconvenience, before any attempt has been made to find out if they are really so.

It is difficult to understand how anyone can settle in conscience so grave an obligation in so casual a manner.  Certainly some are excused by the nature of the work they must do, or for other good reasons; but this does not free them entirely from all obligation of doing penance of another sort.  We are bound to deny self, and that is the essence of penance.  We need so much to be strengthened against temptations that only by denying lawful things to ourselves can we hope to be strong enough to deny the unlawful also.

It is difficult to understand how anyone can settle in conscience so grave an obligation in so casual a manner

Some pride themselves on their strength of will, but too often it is shown only in denying something to others rather than to themselves.  In reality such people are simply stubborn and actually weak-willed, since they are not able to say “NO” to self.

Let us test ourselves by the following questions:

1. — Do I always stick to my own opinions and insist on having my own way?

2. — Can I admit being in the wrong, or that I have made a mistake?

3. — Can I give in gracefully to the will of the majority?1

The answers to such questions as these, will soon prove whether we can say “NO” to self or if we are self-willed.

Mortification is necessary for all.  The wounds of nature demand an effort to strengthen the will against its propensity to evil; the more we indulge our natural desires, the stronger and more insistent they become in demanding satisfaction, the more difficult to resist their appeal.

However, it is not necessary to undertake special hardships or penances beyond those imposed under obligation by the Church.  Life itself provides a variety of opportunities for mortification that we cannot escape.  The pity of it, is that we endure without much or any spiritual profit much that might be mortification, because of the wrong attitude we adopt toward these various vexations.  We can make a virtue of necessity by accepting in a spirit of patience and humility the daily trials forced upon us.

[Some examples:]   Take any ordinary day in life:

— Probably we must get up earlier than we would wish, we should like to stay in bed much longer.  It is not easy to rise promptly; it demands self-denial.  How do we react?  Do we come down peevish and disagreeable, upsetting others by our grumbling and irritation?  If this is out reaction, then we have lost the chance of mortifying ourselves, instead of turning the necessity to spiritual profit by accepting it with patience.

— We have to go to work, oftentimes hard and disagreeable, to work with others who get on our nerves, to take orders given in an abrupt manner, and endure many other similar vexations that can be very irritating.  What is our attitude to such things?  They can all become occasions of mortification if accepted in a proper spirit.  Obedience to others, which is the submission of our own will to that of another, can be a very real and difficult penance.  Too often we can become impatient and disgruntled, resent the orders given to us: and miss the chance of being spiritually mortified under adversity.

Life is full of such opportunities: we make silly mistakes, are humiliated by others, meet with disappointments, hear slurs east or disparaging remarks made about us; accidents make us ludicrous and cause laughter and ridicule at our expense.  These things are certainly humiliating to our pride and self-conceit? but do we turn them to spiritual worth by a humble and contrite spirit in accepting them as mortifications?  If they simply cause us to become disagreeable and complain, there is no penance; they are lost to us entirely when they might have been real crosses born for the love of God, real penances accepted in a spirit of self-denial, some atonement for the sins we have committed.

We are told [by Holy Mother the Church] to perform the three good works: Prayer, Fasting, and Alms-deeds.  These can all form some kind of mortification for us:

By fasting we mean here self-denial in any form, the giving up of one’s desires and inclinations.  We are forced to this at times by circumstances, yet profit little because we accept grudgingly, with resentment and complaints about the hardness of our lot.

Prayer might find a larger place in our lives and provide penance at the same time.  For instance, we might give up an evening’s pleasure so that we may go to Benediction.  How many give up the Sunday evening to selfish comfort rather than go out to the evening service?  It may be cold and wet; it is so much pleasanter to sit reading by the fireside, or playing cards with friends.  The weather is so often an excuse to avoid going to church, but it would not prevent us from going out to the cinema or to a dance.  It is difficult to give up pleasure and comfort to go to church, hard to mortify our desires and say “NO” to self!  To give up our comforts can be a real mortification.

Alms-giving does not necessarily mean giving money away.  The best alms is to give happiness to others – any kind of action done for the love of God and our neighbor, any small service especially if it means self-denial, is acceptable to God as a mortification.  Our Lord went about doing good, never sparing Himself.  We, on the contrary, find doing good to others to be too much trouble and to cause too much inconvenience to ourselves.  We could make a point of doing at least one kind act a day to help another, as a mortification.  We could do much more to ease the burdens of others, to bring happiness or solace, and if this entails denying self and putting ourselves to some inconvenience so much the better, it will mortify us all the more.

There is no need to undertake extraordinary penances – life provides its own opportunities of mortifying self.  We do not know that Our Lady or St. Joseph ever did any special kind of penance, but they did accept the many trials and sufferings of life, grief, hardship, poverty, hard work, and such like, in a spirit of resignation to the will of God.  The early disciples do not seem to have done extraordinary penances, but we may note that St, Paul writes; “I chastise the flesh to bring it into subjection… lest perhaps I become a castaway (1 Co 9, 27).”   If St. Paul felt the need of “chastising the flesh,” how much more we, who do so little to atone for all the number of times we give way to our evil inclinations.   We must chastise the flesh by denying to it the satisfaction it demands, even in what is lawful, that we may strengthen ourselves to refuse all that is unlawful and to thrust down the inclinations and desires of unlawful passion, by denying the pleasure of lawful desires at times.  We must learn how to say “NO” to self.

To resume therefore, we cannot escape mortifications, even though we do not seek them.  Life will provide many opportunities of self-denial; let us see to it that these unavoidable vexations are all turned to profit for the soul by accepting them in a spirit of penance and humiliation for our many sins and as a means of strengthening our will-power against our proneness to evil.  If we would realize that hardship, sickness, poverty, disappointments, vexations, inconveniences, even the monotony of life, can all be spiritually useful and made profitable by a spirit of humble acceptance and mortification and for the love of God, we should be carrying out our obligation of doing penance lest we perish.

It is all a matter of will-power pitted against the fatal attractions of sin in which we prove so weak and easily overcome.

Only by denying self what is lawful, or accepting what we cannot escape as a means of self-denial, can we become strong in our resistance to what is unlawful, strong to resist the many temptations that beset us from the flesh, the world and the devil.

We must atone for sin by true repentance and by penance enjoined to the sufferings of Our Lord, that they may become an atonement for our many sins.

“Unless ye do penance, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lc 13, 5).

Taken from Credo, Fr. Martin Harrison O.P.

Chicago, Henry Regnery Company, 1954, pgs 141-145

Ten aids to mental prayer

Ten aids to mental prayer

By Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard

(1858-1935)

Abbot of the French Cistercian Monastery of Sept-Fons

This text is an appendix of the book “The soul of the Apostolate”, which was a favorite book of Pope Saint Pius X. The good Pope said he left this spiritual masterpiece by his night stand, so he could read it in his bed.

Mental prayer is the furnace in which we go to renew the custody of the heart.  By our fidelity to our mental prayer all the other exercises of piety will be rekindled.  The soul will gradually acquire vigilance and the spirit of prayer, that is, the habit of having recourse to God more and more frequently.

Union with God in mental prayer will produce an intimate union with Him, even amongst the most absorbing occupations.

The soul, living thus in union with our Lord, by its vigilance, will attract more and more the gifts of the Holy Ghost and the infused virtues, and perhaps God will call it to a higher degree of mental prayer.

That excellent volume, “The ways of Mental Prayer” by Dom Vital Lehodey (Lecoffre, Paris), gives an exact account of what is required for the ascension of the soul by the different degrees of mental prayer, and gives rules for discerning, whether higher mental prayer is truly a gift of God or the result of illusion.

Before discussing affective mental prayer (the first degree of the higher classes to which God as a rule calls only the souls that have reached the state of vigilance by meditation),  Fr. Rigoleuc, S.J., gives in his fine book (Œuvres Spirituelles, Avignon, 1843, page 1 ff.) ten ways of discoursing with God – when after a serious effort, one finds it a moral impossibility to meditate on a subject prepared the night before.

I sum up the pious author:

1st Way. – Take a spiritual book (New Testament or “Imitation of Christ”) – read a few lines at intervals – meditate a little on what has been read, try to fix the sense and impress it on your mind.    Draw from it some holy thought, love, penance etc., resolve to practice this virtue when opportunity offers.

Avoid reading or meditating too much.  Stop at each pause as long as the mind find agreeable and useful converse.

2nd Way. – Take some text of Scripture or some vocal prayer – Pater, Ave, Credo, for instance – repeat it, stopping after each word, drawing from it various sentiments of piety on which you dwell as long as it pleases you.

At the end, ask God for some grace or virtue, according to the subject meditated upon.

You are not to stop on any word if it wearies or tires you, but if you find nothing more to think on, pass on quietly to another.  When you are touched by some good thought, dwell on it as long as it lasts without troubling to go any further.   Nor is it necessary to make fresh acts always, it is sometimes enough to keep in God’s presence, reflecting in silence on the words already meditated or in enjoying the feelings they have already produced in your heart.

3rd Way. – When the prepared subject matter does not give you enough scope, or room for free action, make acts of faith, adoration, thanksgiving, hope, love, and so on, letting them range as wide and free as you please, pausing at each one to let it sink in.

4th Way. – When meditation is impossible, and you are too helpless and dried-up to produce a single affection, tell Our Lord that it is your intention to make an act, for example, of contrition, every time you draw breath, or pass a bead of the rosary between your fingers, or say, vocally, some short prayer.

Renew this assurance of your intention from time to time, and then if God suggests some other good thought, receive it with humility, and dwell upon it.

5th Way. – In time of trial or dryness, if you are completely barren and powerless to make any acts or to have any thoughts, abandon yourself generously to suffering, without anxiety, and without making any effort to avoid it, making no other acts except this self-abandonment into the hands of God to suffer this trial and all it may please Him to send.

Or else you may unite your prayer with Our Lord’s Agony in the garden of desolation upon the cross.   See yourself attached to the Cross with the Saviour and stir yourself up to follow His example, and remain there suffering without flinching, until death.

6th Way. – A survey of your own conscience. – Admit your defects, passions, weaknesses, infirmities, helplessness, misery, nothingness. – Adore God’s judgments with regard to the state in which you find yourself. – Submit to His holy will. – Bless Him both for His punishments and for the favors of His mercy. – Humble yourself before His sovereign Majesty. – Sincerely confess your sins and infidelities to Him and ask Him to forgive you. – Take back all your false judgments and errors. – Detest all the wrong you have done, and resolve to correct yourself in the future.

This kind of prayer is very free and unhampered, and admits of all kinds of affections.  It can be practiced at all times, especially in some unexpected trial, to submit to the punishments of God’s justice, or as a means of regaining recollection after a lot of activity and distracting affairs.

7th Way. – Conjure up a vivid picture of the Last Things.  Visualize yourself in agony, between time and eternity – between your past life and the judgment of God. – What would you wish to have done?  How would you want to have lived?  – Think of the pain you will feel then. – Call to mind your sins, your negligence, your abuse of grace. – How would you like to have acted in this or that situation?  – Make up your mind to adopt a real, practical means of remedying those defects which give you reason for anxiety.

Visualize yourself dead, buried, rotting, forgotten by all.  See yourself before the Judgment-seat of Christ: in purgatory—in hell.

The more vivid the picture, the better will be your meditation.

We all need this mystical death, to get the flesh off of our soul, and to rise again, that is, to get free from corruption and sin.  We need to get through this purgatory, in order to arrive at the enjoyment of God in this life.

8th Way. — Apply your mind to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  Address yourself to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  With all the respect that His Real Presence demands, unite yourself to Him and to all His operations in the Eucharist, where He is ceaselessly adoring, praising, and loving His Father, in the name of all men, and in the condition of a victim.

Realize His recollection, His hidden life, His utter privation of everything, obedience, humility, and so on. – Stir yourself up to imitate this, and resolve to do so according as the occasions arise.

Offer up Jesus to the Father, as the only Victim worthy of Him, and by whom we offer homage to Him.   Thank Him for His gifts, satisfy His justice, and oblige His mercy to help us.

Offer yourself to sacrifice your being, your life, your work.  Offer up to Him some act of virtue you propose to perform, some mortification upon which you have resolved, with a view to self-conquest, and offer this for the same ends for which Our Lord immolates Himself in the Holy Sacraments.  – Make this offering with an ardent desire to add as much as possible to the glory He gives to His Father in this august mystery.

End with a spiritual Communion.

This is an excellent form of prayer, especially for your visit to the Blessed Sacrament.  Get to know it well, because our happiness in this life depends on our union with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

9th Way. — This prayer is to be made in the name of Jesus Christ.  It will arouse our confidence in God, and help us to enter into the spirit and the sentiments of Our Lord.

Its foundation is the fact that we are united to the Son of God, and are His brothers, members of His Mystical Body; that He has made over to us all His merits, and left us the legacy of all the rewards owed Him by His Father for His labors and death.  And this is what makes us capable of honoring God with a worship worthy of Him, and gives us the right to treat with God, and, as it were, to exact His graces of Him as though by justice.  – As creatures, we have not this right, still less as sinners, for there is an infinite disproportion between God and creatures, and infinite opposition between God and sinners.  But because we are united to the Incarnate Word, and are His brothers, and His members, we are enabled to appear before God with confidence, and speak familiarly with Him and oblige Him to give us a favorable hearing, to grant our requests, and to grant us His graces, because of the alliance and union between us and His Son.

Hence, we are to appear before God either to adore, to praise, or to love Him, by Jesus Christ working in us as the Head in His members, lifting us up, by His spirit, to an entirely divine state, or else to ask some favor in virtue of the merits of His Son.  And for that purpose we should remind Him of all that His well beloved Son has done for Him, His life and death, and His sufferings, the reward for which belongs to us because of the deed of gift by which He has made it over to us.

And this is the spirit in which we should recite the Divine Office.

10th Way. – Simple attention to the presence of God, and meditation.

Before starting out to meditate on the prepared topic, put yourself in the presence of God without making any other distinct thought, or stirring up in yourself any other sentiment except the respect and love for God which His presence inspires.  – Be content to remain thus before God, in silence, in simple repose of the spirit as long as it satisfies you.  After that, go on with your meditation in the usual way.

It is a good thing to begin all your prayer in this way, and worth while to return to it after every point. – Relax in this simple awareness of God’s presence. – It is a way to gain real interior recollection. – You will develop the habit of centering your mind upon God and thus gradually pave the way for contemplation. – But do not remain this way out of pure laziness or just to avoid the trouble of making a meditation.

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions (continued): the Glorious Mysteries

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The Resurrection by Fra Angelico

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions (continued): the Glorious Mysteries

The Rosary is an admirable means of personal sanctification, but it is also a powerful weapon again the enemies of God and His Church.  From the defeat of the Cathars at the battle of Muret to the great victories (without a shot being fired!) against communism in Austria and Brazil in the 20th Century, and passing through the victories of Lepanto and Vienna against the Turks, and those against the Protestants in La Rochelle, the Most Holy Virgin has never abandoned Catholics when they have turned to her through her holy Rosary.  However, this ancient struggle between the “lineage of the serpent and the lineage of the woman” is renewed with each generation.

This struggle is perhaps nowhere more manifest at this time than in the past.  Although it is not the objective of the Confraternity to convey prayer intentions to the members, how can we keep quiet in the face of the drama that is now unfolding for our Catholic brothers being persecuted in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, as well as in China, Nigeria, India and elsewhere?  Through the Rosary, let us pray for the conversion of the Muslims, Jews, Protestants, communists, freemasons, and all those who are behind these persecutions.  Let us especially pray that the persecuted Catholics keep the faith and publicly profess it, even, if need be, at the price of their life.   We can hope that a host of these chosen souls have received the grace of martyrdom, are already in heaven tasting the delights of paradise, and that we whom they have left behind in this valley of tears, can join with them by meditating on the Glorious Mysteries, after having considered the Joyous and Sorrowful Mysteries.

(Remember: read one sentence before each “Hail Mary.”)

THE RESURRECTION

1.  Upon His death, Jesus’ soul descends into limbo to the joy of the just of the Old Testament.

2.  His lifeless body remains in the tomb, always united to the divinity, without the least corruption.

3.  On Easter morning, Jesus’ soul reunites with His body, never to be separated from it again.

4.  His body, brilliant with light, imprints a mysterious image on the holy shroud.

5.  At the same time, the earth is shaken and an angel rolls away the great stone that closed the tomb.

6.  Jesus leaves the tomb in all His glory and appears to the Roman soldiers, who are terrified.

7.  Jesus goes to visit the Blessed Virgin to announce His Resurrection to her.

8.  The Blessed Virgin is filled with joy, but is by no means surprised, nor troubled; she had been waiting for this moment since Good Friday.

9.  Jesus appears to St. Mary Magdalene and tells her, “do not touch me” to test her too sentimental love.

10.  Jesus appears several times to the Apostles and the disciples, but some are slow to believe.

THE ASCENSION

1.  At Jesus’ resurrection, many of the dead leave their tombs and roam around the city of Jerusalem.

2.  During the forty days, they visit their families to proclaim to them that Jesus is the Messiah announced by the prophets.

3.  Jesus appears only to His Apostles and disciples.

4.  Jesus “opens the minds” of His Apostles so that, little by little, they come to understand Holy Scripture.

5.  A little before ascending to heaven, Jesus orders His Apostles to “teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)

6.  The nations must render public honor to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and all of society’s laws must be in harmony with His teachings.

7.  Jesus appears one last time in Jerusalem and eats with His Apostles.

8.  He promises to send them the Holy Ghost.

9.  He leads them to the Mount of Olives.

10.  Jesus raises His hands and blesses His Apostles, all while moving away from them up to heaven.

PENTECOST

1.  The Apostles are distraught.

2.  Everyone returns to the Cenacle to pray and wait for the Holy Ghost.

3.  The Apostles, the disciples and the holy women number about 120 persons.

4.  Matthias is elected to replace the traitor Judas.

5.  St. Peter says Mass each day. All receive communion and passes the day in prayer.

6.  During this time, an innumerable crowd of Jews from throughout the world is assembling in the city to celebrate the feast of the Jewish Pentecost.

7.  Suddenly, accompanied by the sound of trumpets, a violent wind opens the windows of the Cenacle.

8.  Tongues of fire descend upon the heads of the Apostles, and, in the blink of an eye, they understand all of Jesus’ teachings.

9.  Immediately they descend into the street to announce to the crowd the forgiveness of their sins, upon the condition of doing penance and being baptized.

10.  Around 3,000 people ask to be baptized.

THE ASSUMPTION

1.  Each day more and more people ask for baptism so as to be saved, but the jealous Jews try to exterminate the Christians.

2.  St. Stephen, St. James the Lesser and many others are killed in hatred of the faith.

3.  Mary supports the nascent Church through her prayers.

4.  St. Luke questions the Blessed Virgin on the details of Jesus’ infancy.

5.  The Blessed Virgin receives daily communion at St. John’s Masses.

6.  She appears to St. James the Greater in Spain to encourage him.

7.  She enlightens and encourages all those who come to see her at St. John’s home.

8.  She so ardently desires to be with her divine Son, that her body can no longer retain her soul.

9.  Her soul and her body separate, but her body suffers no trace of corruption.

10.  A little afterward, her body rejoins her soul and the Blessed Virgin is assumed entirely into heaven.

THE CORONATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN

1.  At the moment of her Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin exceeded in grace all the angels and saints combined.

2.  During each moment of her existence, she made an act of love which multiplied in an extraordinary way the degree of grace in her soul.

3.  Thus, at the moment of her entry into heaven, the Blessed Virgin was raised in glory higher than one can imagine.

4.  Her glory is quasi-infinite; she touches the “confines of the divinity.”

5.  Our Lord places a mysterious crown on the head of His Blessed Mother.

6.  This crown symbolizes the total power with which the Blessed Virgin is invested from that point on.

7.  Jesus proclaims the Blessed Virgin, “Queen of Heaven and Earth.”

8.  All the angels and saints acclaim her as their queen and mistress.

9.  Jesus desires that all the graces that we receive pass through Mary’s hands.

10.  Mary now distributes all the graces that she has merited with and through Jesus at the foot of the Cross.

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions (continued): the Sorrowful Mysteries

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A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions (continued): the Sorrowful Mysteries

The Sorrowful Mysteries

The world around us is moving further away from Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Everywhere anti-Christian governments reject not only the laws of the Church, but even the laws of nature, because they are a constant reminder of the author of nature, our Creator and God.  How can we not see the realization of Psalm 2: “The princes of the earth are gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ”?   What can we do against these powers that seem to hold everything in their hands: money, the media, parliaments, armies?   Well, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil.4:13)!  It pleased God to topple Goliath with a humble shepherd like David.   Our “sling” is the Rosary, and the “five smooth stones taken from the river bed” (I Kings 17) are the five Mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful or Glorious) upon which we meditate each day.   If we look, we’ll discover these mysteries hidden in the depths of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is nothing less than an impetuous torrent of love for God and man.

To restore the reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ on earth, we all have something to do, a duty to perform according to each one’s state.  However, there is a duty that we all have in common: the regular prayer of the Rosary.  Have courage! “There is no problem, no matter how difficult, that we cannot resolve by praying the Holy Rosary” (Sister Lucy of Fatima).

Many of you have told us that you have enjoyed the meditations on the Joyful Mysteries according to the method of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort.  We continue here with the Sorrowful Mysteries, hoping that these examples will help you to compose meditations yourself using this method which is so practical and useful for dispelling distractions!   (Reminder: a sentence is read before each Hail Mary.)

THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN OF OLIVES

1:  On the eve of His Passion, Jesus celebrated the first Mass.

2:  Before leaving the world, He wanted to leave us a pledge of His love, by giving us the Eucharist.

3:  Jesus, troubled in spirit, said to the Apostles: “One of you shall betray Me.”

4:  St. Peter protested, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.”

5:  After the Last Supper, Jesus takes Saints Peter, James and John to pray on the Mount of Olives.

6: The Apostles are not able to watch even one hour with Jesus.

7:  Jesus sees all the sins for which He is going to atone through His passion; His sweat becomes as drops of blood.

8:  Judas arrives and betrays Jesus through a sign of friendship.

9:  The Apostles are afraid and flee in all directions.

10:  Saint Peter denies Jesus three times.

THE SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR

1: Jesus is taken before the High Priest, where He is falsely accused, slapped and insulted.

2: The Jews drag Him before Pilate, because Pilate alone can declare the death penalty.

3: The crowd demands the release of Barabbas, a murderer.

4. Pilate does not find Jesus guilty of any crime, but he orders Him to be flogged to appease the Jews.

5: The soldiers first use a whip with metal balls at the end of the strips.

6: When Jesus’ body is swollen and red, they then change to a whip topped with tiny bones that tear the skin.

7: Jesus is covered with blood from head to foot. His skin is in shreds.

8: In this way, Jesus has atoned for our sins of sensuality.

9: “Sins of the flesh send the most souls to hell.” (Our Lady of Fatima to Jacinta)

10: Lord, give us the courage to do a little penance.

THE CROWNING WITH THORNS

1:  Pilate asks Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answers, “I am King, but My kingdom is not of this world.”

2:  Jesus’ Kingdom “did not come from this world,” but it extends over this world.

3:  Jesus is King of all creation and He has the right to be recognized as such by all men and by all governments.

4:  He is King by nature, because He is the Creator; and He is King by conquest, because He has redeemed us.

5:  The soldiers mock the royalty of Jesus by putting on Him a purple robe, a reed scepter, and a crown of thorns.

6:  They spit on Him and beat Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

7: Jesus keeps quiet and offers His suffering for the very people who despise Him.

8:  Pilate presents Jesus to the Jews: “Behold the man.”

9: The Jews shout, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

10:  The high priests say: “We have no king but Caesar.”

THE CARRYING OF THE CROSS

1:  Jesus is condemned to death.

2:  Jesus takes up His cross with love.

3:  Jesus falls the first time.

4:  Jesus meets His Blessed Mother.

5:  Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross.

6:  St. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

7:  Jesus falls the second time.

8:  Jesus consoles the women of Israel.

9:  Jesus falls the third time.

10:  Jesus is stripped of his garments.

THE DEATH OF JESUS ON THE CROSS

1:  Jesus is nailed to the Cross.

2:  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

3:  Jesus says to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he says to the beloved disciple, “Behold your mother.”

4:  “Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.”

5:  “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

6:  “I thirst.”

7:  “It is consummated.”

8:  Jesus dies, saying: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”

9:  Jesus is taken down from the Cross.

10:  Jesus is buried.

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions: The Joyful Mysteries

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The Annunciation (Fra Angelico)

A simple method to pray the Rosary without distractions

 

— Preamble: warning of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the world

In conclusion, we will recall these words, spoken by Sister Lucy of Fatima to Father Fuentes in 1959 (Messagero del Cuore di Maria, nos. 8-9, August-September, 1961):

“ – She told me this three times:

“Firstly; she stated that the devil is engaged in the decisive battle, that is to say, the final battle, from which one will emerge the victor or the vanquished: either we are with God or we are with the devil.

“The second time, she repeated to me that the ultimate remedies given to the world are: the holy Rosary and devotion to the immaculate Heart of Mary. The ultimate signifies that there will be no others.

“The third time, she told me that the other means, scorned by men, having been exhausted, she gives us in trepidation the last anchor of salvation which is the Blessed Virgin in person. The Lady said again that if we do not listen and if we still offend, we will no more be forgiven.

“Father (Lucy said to me), we must urgently take heed of the terrible reality. We don’t want to frighten souls, but this is an urgent appeal to reality.  Since the Most Blessed Virgin has given so great a power to the Rosary, no problem exists, material or spiritual, national or international, which cannot be resolved by the Holy Rosary and by our sacrifices.  To recite the Rosary with love and devotion will allow us console Mary and wipe away the many, many tears of her Immaculate Heart.”

 

— A method to pray the Rosary without distractions

Have you ever heard this episode from the life of St. Francis de Sales?  The illustrious bishop of Geneva had promised his horse to a brave peasant, provided he could recite one Our Father without distraction. Having barely arrived at “give us this day our daily bread…” the poor man stopped to ask if the saddle and bridle were included!

Who can boast of never experiencing any distractions during prayer?  The Blessed Virgin, knowing the difficulties of her children, has given us through St. Dominic a very effective way to fight against dissipation in prayer.  The Rosary, with its beads linked together, gives us a tangible reminder that we are in the act of praying.  However, we must know how to use it.  One method of reciting the Rosary suggested by St. Louis Marie Grignon-de-Montfort (but coming from the Middle Ages) is to precede each Hail Mary with a different thought relating to the mystery.  This does not add much time to the recitation of the Rosary (contrary to what one might think), and it helps us to refocus our attention.

Here is an example of this method as applied to the Joyful Mysteries:

THE ANNUNCIATION

1. The Blessed Virgin withdraws to a corner of the house to meditate on the Scriptures.

2. She reads the passage from Isaiah (7:14), “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a child…” and she begs the Lord to send the Messiah.

3. The Angel Gabriel appears and greets her by saying, “Hail full of grace.”

4. “Full of grace means she was preserved from all sin from the first moment of her existence.

5. She was conceived without original sin and never committed the slightest fault, even venial, neither through weakness, nor through surprise, nor through negligence.

6. The Blessed Virgin, who understands the meanings of his words, is troubled.

7. She knows that she is sinless, but it would be unthinkable for her to glorify herself.

8. It would be unthinkable for her to be greeted by an angel; who is by nature superior to men.

9. The angel says to her, “Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shall bring forth a son…And of his kingdom there shall be no end.”

10. She understands that she has been chosen to be the Mother of God.

THE VISITATION

1. The Angel Gabriel announces that Elizabeth has also conceived a child.

2. The Blessed Virgin, not thinking of herself, thinks only of her aged cousin.

3. She begins the tiring journey under the watchful protection of St. Joseph.

4. On arrival, the Blessed Virgin greets her cousin.

5. At the sound of the Blessed Virgin’s voice, St. John the Baptist is cleansed of original sin, and he leaps in the womb.

6. St. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, exclaims: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb…”

7. The Blessed Virgin gives all the glory to God.

8. “My soul magnifies the Lord….”

9. The more we glorify the Blessed Virgin, the more God is glorified.

10. The Blessed Virgin remains three months in humble service to her cousin.

THE BIRTH OF JESUS

1. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph travel to Bethlehem for the census.

2. Because the crowds come to be enrolled, there is no room in any inn.

3. Thinking back to his youth, St. Joseph remembers a cave away from the city.

4. He sweeps the ground a little and puts things in order, then he leaves to go search for firewood.

5. During his absence, the Blessed Virgin prays deeply, waiting for the great mystery about to happen.

6. She enters into a state of ecstasy.

7. She awakens and there in her arms she sees the most beautiful baby the world has ever seen.

8. She has experienced no pain. Her soul is filled with unspeakable joy.

9. She contemplates the radiant Child, and she recognizes there her own features.

10. St. Joseph returns; upon seeing the Child, he falls to his knees to adore Him.

 

PRESENTATION OF THE CHILD JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

1. Forty days after His birth, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph carry the Infant Jesus to the Temple to present Him to the Lord.

2. They give five shekels of silver to “redeem” the Child. (Numbers 1 8:16).

3. They also bring a pair of turtledoves for the sacrifice prescribed to women after birth. (Leviticus 12: 1 et seq.)

4. The old man Simeon, moved by the Holy Ghost, goes to the Temple.

5. He sees the Holy Family and recognizes Jesus as the awaited Messiah.

6. “Now thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace; because my eyes have seen Thy salvation.”

7. Simeon blesses the Holy Family.

8. He prophesizes: “Behold this Child is set…for a sign which shall be contradicted,” that is to say, now every man will be either for Him or against Him.

9. To Our Lady he says, “A sword will pierce your soul.”

10. The Blessed Virgin keeps all these things in her heart.

 

RECOVERY OF THE CHILD JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

1. As Jesus is now twelve years old, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph have taken Him to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

2. They are part of a group of pilgrims from Nazareth.  Men and women and walk separately during the day.

3. During the return trip, St. Joseph thinks that Jesus is with the Blessed Virgin, and Our Lady thinks that Jesus is with St. Joseph.

4. In the evening, after having searched among all the pilgrims and not finding Jesus, they retrace their steps.

5. The Blessed Virgin knows that Jesus must suffer and die, but she does not know when.

6. This uncertainty is torture for her.

7. Jesus asks questions of the rabbis about the coming Messiah.

8. It was not to learn anything, but rather to show them that they themselves had misconceptions about the subject.

9. He quotes passages of Scripture that teach that the Messiah will have to die to save us from our sins, and not to assure world domination by the Jews.

10. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph find Jesus among the amazed and confused rabbis.

(To be continued with the sorrowful and glorious Mysteries)

A Program for Sanctity

A programme for sanctity

by Fr Vayssière O.P. (1864-1940)

Union with God

1. By union and abandonment to the Divine Will. See this adorable Will in all and always by the Faith, even in the smallest details, and always be united to this Will in all and  through charity.  The result of this is a very real permanent union with God at every moment, even when we are not conscious of it – our will being lost, as it were, in the Divine Will.

2. By the thought and remembrance of Jesus, either His intimate Presence in the depths of our heart by grace, His Eucharistic Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, or by His divine mysteries.

Try to develop a greater and greater fidelity to this remembrance, and to arrive at an intimacy with God, as habitual as it is full of tenderness for the Divine Master.

3. Apply ourselves especially to union with His Sacred Heart and, in this, to respond to His call “learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart”.  Therefore, exercise oneself, always in the practice of humility and charity:

* Humility

  • Never speak of oneself;
  • Avoid with great care the sentiments and thoughts of vain complacency; to consider that all that is in us belongs to God, and in serving him and serving our neighbor, we are only doing our duty strictly and rigorously.
  • Prefer and seek to be in the last place.

* Charity

  • Watch over our tongue
  • Never refuse a service in the measure that it is possible.
  • Apply oneself especially to interior charity:
    • Charity of the will in desiring sincerely the good of all.
    • Charity of the spirit and judgment in thinking of the well-being of others, refraining with all our power from rash judgments.

4. Envelop oneself with a serious spirit of penance, both interior and exterior.

5. Put oneself especially under the patronage of saint Catherine of Siena 1 and to see in her the model of our interior life, our exterior life, and the apostolic life, which the Dominican tertiary ought to reproduce.

**

1. Remember that your life is really and totally consecrated to God.  Even though living in the world you must live only for Him.  Your life must be truly a religious life.  “God alone”, that is your motto.

2. To this God, your only lot, your only ambition, you must walk by the interior way, the true way, unique even, which permits to find, to know, to taste and to unite yourself to Him:

  • Greatly desire this interior life.
  • Ask for it by incessant prayers.
  • Prepare oneself for that grace:
  1. by a purity of heart ever-growing.
  2. by recollection.
  3. by a spirit of renouncement and of sacrifice.


3. In consequence:

  1. Get yourself used to acting, in all things, with a great interior spirit.
  2. Do faithfully daily mental prayer.
  3. Say vocal prayers (Rosary and Office) with a great interior attention.
  4. Develop in yourself devotion to the Holy Ghost and of the most blessed Virgin Mary.


4. Apply the spirit of renouncement and of sacrifice especially to the two great virtues of humility and gentleness, distinctive virtues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, capable of establishing the soul in the very state of perfection, provided they are practiced generously.

5. Make recollection the principal object of your particular examinations (of conscience).  Put yourself on guard against agitation and haste.  Make an effort to possess oneself always in God, living in us.

Do this and you will live

(Marcelle Dalloni, Le pere Vayssière, Paris 1957, p 191-193)