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1  Forums / Book Study / Re: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by Saint John of Damascus on: Yesterday at 06:17:53 PM
Chapter 8 reflection part 4
Undivided Trinity, Supreme Unity, All-Holy One Who surpasses all, and transcends all thought and comprehension, be gracious to us and shine Thy Light upon our hearts and minds and souls that we may ascend to Thee.
The holy catholic and apostolic Church, then, teaches the existence at once of One God the Father Almighty: and of One Lord Jesus Christ His Only-begotten Son, who is the Word of God born of the Father before all ages.
The Son was born prior to the creation of the universe and thus we say that it He is eternally begotten and thus always existed with the Father being without time and without flux and without passion.
Truly in an unspeakable mystery and in a manner incomprehensible and perceived by the God of the universe alone:
the Word of God was generated without delay by the Supreme Mind and uttered without delay by the Supreme Voice
The eye recognises the existence at once of fire and the light which proceeds from it: and the hand cannot see the fire but feels the warmth which proceeds from the fire
for there is not first fire and thereafter light, nor is there fire and thereafter heat but they exist together as one reality, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And just as light is ever the product of fire, and ever is in it and at no time is separate from it, so in like manner also the Son is begotten of the Father and is never in any way separate from Him, but ever is in Him.
But whereas the light which is produced from fire without separation, and abides ever in it, has no proper person of its own distinct from that of fire (for it is a natural quality of fire to produce light),
Our Lord Jesus Christ the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father without separation and difference and ever abiding in Him, has a proper subsistence of its own distinct from that of the Father.
For the Son has received all from the Father except that of being the Father and thus the Father and the Son are distinct in their persons but united in will and essence.
2  Forums / Book Study / Re: The Imitation by Thomas Kemp on: Yesterday at 06:01:39 PM
The Twelfth Chapter

The Value of Adversity

It is good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they often remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in any worldly thing.
It is good for us sometimes to suffer contradiction, to be misjudged by men even though we do well and mean well.
These things help us to be humble and shield us from vainglory.
When to all outward appearances men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God Who sees our hearts.
Therefore, a man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of men.
When a man of good will is afflicted, tempted, and tormented by evil thoughts, he realizes clearly that his greatest need is God, without Whom he can do no good.
Saddened by his miseries and sufferings, he laments and prays.
He wearies of living longer and wishes for death that he might be dissolved and be with Christ.
Then he understands fully that perfect security and complete peace cannot be found on earth.
3  Forums / Book Study / Re: The Glories of Divine Grace by Matthias Joseph Scheeben on: Yesterday at 05:40:17 PM
3. Grace means, in the first place, that benevolent love which a superior entertains for an inferior,
 for instance, a master for his servant, a sovereign for his subject, and in our condition, God for His rational creature,
 especially when this love is united to the pleasure and complacency which the former takes in the good qualities and good deeds of the latter.
 At the same time, however, we apply the word grace also to the effect of that love and to the object or the cause of that pleasure.
 Thus we say that we ask a grace of God or of man when we ask Him to grant us a favor on account of the condescending, benevolent love He bears us.
 Holy Scripture, likewise, applies the name grace to that beauty, goodness, and loveliness which render us worthy of the pleasure and love of God:
 "Grace is poured abroad in thy lips: therefore hath God blessed thee forever."6
 But we must add another distinction of importance, viz., that we receive a twofold favor and grace from a superior person;
 first, a certain general, ordinary, merited, and necessary grace; and then, a very special, extraordinary, undeserved, and gratuitous grace;
 and this latter alone is, strictly and properly speaking, grace.
 Let us illustrate this by the conduct of a good and noble sovereign.
 He will truly love all his subjects,though they are inferior to him, or rather on that very account, because they are his subjects,
and all will share his favor and goodness according to their relative position and merit.
If he does no more than this, he fulfils only his duty and obligation, and he may be called gracious and kind,
but he will not be said to receive anyone unto special favor.
This will be the case, then, only when he loves all or some of his subjects in a greater degree and bestows upon them greater gifts than he is in duty obliged,
and their position or services are entitled to claim.
Especially, then, will he be gracious, when of his own free will he embraces his subjects with the full love that he bears his own children and himself;
when in his kindness he condescends to associate with them as with his friends, thereby elevating them from their lowliness and surrounding them with royal honors;
when he, in consequence, raises them above their original condition and makes them, as far as possible, equal to himself and his children.
Let us apply this example to the grace of God, of which royal favor is but a faint shadow.
God is the highest King of Heaven and of earth, because He has created all, because all things are His and are destined for His service and glory.
As He has created all things out of love, so He loves all His creatures ineffably and with most gracious condescension,
but He naturally loves the rational more than the irrational, because they are His image and are capable of knowing and loving Him.
His Divine complacency rests upon them, because He has created them good,
as long as they do not offend Him by mortal sin and remain worthy of His first love by faithful observance of His commandments.
In a certain sense, then, the rational creature can, by its nature already and its natural good works, merit the favor and love of God.
For the same reason we may, according to the opinion of St. Augustine, call every natural good and gift of God a grace,
since God was not obliged to create us and has given us all these natural goods out of gratuitous love.
But when once He has created us, He must, as a good and wise Creator, love us as His creatures, and grant us all those things that are indispensably necessary to attain to our natural destiny.
That favor and grace, then, which we have just mentioned, is grace not in a particular and strict sense, but only in a general sense of the word.
Nor is it the Christian grace, which Christ has brought into this world and which His Gospel, His Apostles, the holy Fathers, and Holy Church proclaim.
This is grace in the highest and strictest sense of the word: a very particular, gratuitous, condescending, and full grace of God, which makes us His particular favorites.
By the first kind of grace God loves us, as we deserve it on account of our nature and our natural good works.
By the latter grace, however, He loves us in a very particular manner, in a supernatural manner, infinitely more than we would deserve according to our nature.
From pure and spontaneous love He descends from the height of His royal throne to our lowliness, in order to elevate us infinitely above our nature.
He loves us with an unbounded and overflowing love, as much, so to speak, as is in His power; He loves us as Himself and as His only begotten Son;
He assumes, therefore, our soul as His child, His friend, His spouse, makes it the associate of His own glory and happiness, and gives Himself to the soul for eternal possession and enjoyment.
As we now, in a perfect and in the Christian sense, call only this supernatural love of God for us grace,
so we in the same sense designate only those gifts of God as graces, that are entirely supernatural and precious above others and proceed from that supernatural love of God.
In the same manner, not every pleasure that God may take in His rational creature is grace in the Christian sense,
but that pleasure alone by which He delights in our soul on account of the supernatural beauty and loveliness it has received from Him by His supernatural love.

The Glories of Divine Grace by Matthias Joseph Scheeben
4  Forums / Saints' & Spiritual Life General Discussion / Re: Contemplation on: Yesterday at 05:32:28 PM
"The essential element in Christian faith, however, is God's descent towards his creatures, particularly towards the humblest, those who are weakest and least gifted according to the values of the "world".
There are spiritual techniques which it is useful to learn, but God is able to by-pass them or do without them.
A Christian's "method of getting closer to God is not based on any technique in the strict sense of the word.
That would contradict the spirit of childhood called for by the Gospel.
The heart of genuine Christian mysticism is not technique: it is always a gift of God; and the one who benefits from it knows himself to be unworthy".(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Orationis Formas, 23. )

For Christians, conversion is turning back to the Father, through the Son, in docility to the power of the Holy Spirit.
The more people progress in their relationship with God - which is always and in every way a free gift -
the more acute is the need to be converted from sin, spiritual myopia and self-infatuation,
all of which obstruct a trusting self-abandonment to God and openness to other men and women.

All meditation techniques need to be purged of presumption and pretentiousness.
Christian prayer is not an exercise in self-contemplation, stillness and self-emptying,
but a dialogue of love, one which "implies an attitude of conversion,
 a flight from 'self' to the 'You' of God".(Ibid.,3. See the sections on meditation and contemplative prayer in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, §§. 2705-2719. )
It leads to an increasingly complete surrender to God's will, whereby we are invited to a deep, genuine solidarity with our brothers and sisters.(Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Orationis Formas, 13. )"
Source:
Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the "New Age"
by Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue
5  Forums / Book Study / Re: The Glories of Divine Grace by Matthias Joseph Scheeben on: June 22, 2021, 08:59:46 PM
2. This sweet and sublime mystery is too little known even among Christians, although the teachings of Holy Scripture and the Holy Church sufficiently enlighten us about it, and the lack of this knowledge is the more lamentable, as the knowledge of the doctrine of grace alone can lead us to understand and appreciate our exalted dignity, our great hopes, and the inexhaustible wealth of the merits of Christ. At the mention of the grace of God, we often represent to ourselves nothing but the restoration of God's favor, lost by sin, or such gifts of Divine love as will assist our weak nature in avoiding sin and in the practice of virtue. Certainly, forgiveness of sins and this protection and assistance must also be accounted effects of God's grace, but these effects alone do not constitute its highest value and its innermost nature. Forgiveness of sin is a grace on the part of God and restores to us that benevolent love which God bestowed upon us before sin. But we must ask: Which love did God bear us previous to our sin; was it a love equal only to the worth of our human nature, or was it a greater, an ampler love, that gave additional beauty to our nature, and elevated it to the heart of God unto a fraternal union with His Divine Son? Grace strengthens our weakened nature against the temptation to evil and in the performance of good works; it facilitates the fulfilment of our duties and the attainment of our last end. But here again the question presents itself: Does grace unite itself with man in his natural condition, and, by cooperating with his inborn virtue, assist and strengthen nature, does grace only temper nature—or does it elevate and transform it, and communicate to it a new nature, a new force, a new life, and new laws of life? A correct solution to these questions is of primary importance, and we can arrive at it easily by a clear and distinct definition of the term "Christian Grace:"

Matthias Joseph Scheeben The Glories of Divine Grace
6  Forums / Book Study / The Glories of Divine Grace by Matthias Joseph Scheeben on: June 22, 2021, 01:57:20 AM
Introduction
Paragraph 1.
"All good things came to me together with Wisdom, and innumerable riches through Wisdom's hands. Wisdom is an infinite treasure to men, which they that use, become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts of discipline." Wisdom 7:11,14
These beautiful words which the Book of Wisdom speaks in praise of the wisdom that comes from God, may also be applied to Divine grace.
The true and heavenly wisdom of which Holy Scripture speaks, is, indeed, that supernatural enlightenment which the sun of eternal wisdom infuses into our souls from the bosom of Divine light.
This wisdom is itself a grace, or rather the most beautiful and glorious fruit of grace in our soul. When, therefore, St. John, in the beginning of his Gospel, wishes to express in a word the whole plenitude of the treasures and gifts which the Son of God brought into this world at His Incarnation, he says:
"We saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." 2 John 1:14
Grace again it is which the Apostle Paul, at the beginning and at the end of his Epistles, wishes the faithful:
"Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ."
We do not hesitate, then, to say that grace is the most precious, and, since it contains all other gifts, is the only great good, which is the subject of the Gospel, that joyful heavenly message brought to this earth by the Son of God.
By grace we are made true children of God and acquire the right to the possession of the highest gifts that God can bestow upon His creatures, even to the possession of God Himself, who wishes to become the inheritance of His children, with all His infinite glory and happiness.
"Most great and precious promises" St. Peter tells us, "hath God given us by Him; that by these you may be made partakers of the Divine nature" 2 Peter 1:4
They are most great, because they surpass all created things, be these ever so good and noble, and precious, because they contain the best that God, in His omnipotence, can give us; they are infinitely precious, as is the price paid for them, the blood of the Son of God.
The prince of the Apostles indicates himself the reason of this greatness, when he adds: "that by these you may be made partakers of the Divine nature." Can there be anything greater for a creature than to be elevated from its natural lowliness and nothingness, to participate in the nature of the Creator and be associated with Him?
 This one word expresses the whole greatness and glory of grace, and tells what a great and sublime mystery grace must be. Grace is that "mystery of Christ," of which the Apostle says:
"Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to His holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and co-partners of His promise in Christ Jesus by the Gospel."4
 Grace is that mystery of which the same Apostle says, it hath not entered into the heart of man, but could be revealed to us by the Spirit of God, who searcheth all things, even the profound things of God.5
The more grace is a mystery, the more concealed it is from our natural eye, the more incomprehensible and ineffable it is; the greater must appear to us its value, the higher its glory, and the more comprehensive its riches.
7  Forums / Book Study / Re: The Cloud of Unknowing on: June 21, 2021, 12:25:35 AM
The Cloud's emphasis on which is better/best troubles me even though I am fully aware of Jesus' comment to Martha about Mary.  But aren't Christians better off to follow the calling they believe they feel and understand, even in their reading and prayer, rather than striving to find and judge what's best?  Jesus didn't call the Apostles to contemplation, and He apparently didn't suggest it to Martha.
Deep down, my struggle is with Carl Rahner's statement that the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist.  I worry that Jesus came to teach Truth, not mystery, about the Kingdom, and Redemption, and His Divinity.  This seems the Good News of the Synoptic Gospels, though I acknowledge Jesus' miracles seem to have drawn more people than His Truth, as St Paul seemed to find in Athens.
Your comments are greatly appreciated.
"The last and crowning act is the contemplation itself of the truth."
"We are urged to the vision of the First Principle, namely God, by the love thereof; hence Saint Gregory says 'the contemplative life tramples on all cares and longs to see the face of the creator'"
Saint Thomas Aquinas
Truth, when it is Truth, sets you free and sanctifies you. It would be unwise to abandon contemplation of the very Truth that liberated you from sin and adorned you with heavenly graces and adopted you in a New and Better Covenant mediated by a New and Better High Priest. How is the Truth not a Mystery? The Greek Truth, is that which is disclosed, the word for Mystery is rather that which has been made known to us by Divine Revelation of Jesus Christ. The word Revelation meaning unveiling as to reveal. Thus through the revealing of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God and the Hidden Mystery, hidden since the ages and revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ and solely found intact within the Church.
In another sense, Jesus came to reveal the Mysteries of the Kingdom which He did through preaching repentance, teaching
using parables (analogy) and instructing using discourses (love one another). The entire Gospel is a Mystery and the Gospel itself belongs not solely to the category of Sacred Scripture but also to the realm of Sacred Tradition. Now Paul and Jesus said to pray always and not to lose heart. Contemplative life is therefore the simple fulfillment of the Apostolic Order: Pray at all times and whatever you do let it be for the glory of God. The contemplative life is the crown of active life. Though individual preferences vary: Saint Gregory the Great preferred Contemplation along with Saint Gregory Nazianzus while Saint Basil the Great preferred active life and this caused his order to be city dwelling. All Christians are called to the active life. The Contemplative life means nothing if you lack charity and good works. Contemplation primarily benefits from the Beatitude of Purity of heart and the Virtue of Humility.
Quote
"12. With the present diffusion of eastern methods of meditation in the Christian world and in ecclesial communities, we find ourselves faced with a pointed renewal of an attempt, which is not free from dangers and errors, to fuse Christian meditation with that which is non-Christian. Proposals in this direction are numerous and radical to a greater or lesser extent. Some use eastern methods solely as a psycho-physical preparation for a truly Christian contemplation; others go further and, using different techniques, try to generate spiritual experiences similar to those described in the writings of certain Catholic mystics.13 Still others do not hesitate to place that absolute without image or concepts, which is proper to Buddhist theory,14 on the same level as the majesty of God revealed in Christ, which towers above finite reality. To this end, they make use of a "negative theology," which transcends every affirmation seeking to express what God is and denies that the things of this world can offer traces of the infinity of God. Thus they propose abandoning not only meditation on the salvific works accomplished in history by the God of the Old and New Covenant, but also the very idea of the One and Triune God, who is Love, in favor of an immersion "in the indeterminate abyss of the divinity."15 These and similar proposals to harmonize Christian meditation with eastern techniques need to have their contents and methods ever subjected to a thorough-going examination so as to avoid the danger of falling into syncretism.

IV. The Christian Way to Union with God

13. To find the right "way" of prayer, the Christian should consider what has been said earlier regarding the prominent features of the way of Christ, whose "food is to do the will of him who sent (him), and to accomplish his work" (Jn 4:34). Jesus lives no more intimate or closer a union with the Father than this, which for him is continually translated into deep prayer. By the will of the Father he is sent to mankind, to sinners. to his very executioners, and he could not be more intimately united to the Father than by obeying his will. This did not in any way prevent him, however, from also retiring to a solitary place during his earthly sojourn to unite himself to the Father and receive from him new strength for his mission in this world. On Mount Tabor, where his union with the Father was manifest, there was called to mind his passion (cf. Lk 9:31), and there was not even a consideration of the possibility of remaining in "three booths" on the Mount of the Transfiguration. Contemplative Christian prayer always leads to love of neighbor, to action and to the acceptance of trials, and precisely because of this it draws one close to God."
Source :CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH

LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
ON SOME ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION*

October 15, 1989
8  Forums / Book Study / Sunday Sermons of Saint Anthony of Padua on: June 13, 2021, 05:35:27 PM
THE SERMONS OF ST ANTONY
Translated by Paul Spilsbury
ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
(The Gospel for the eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: Two men went up into the temple, which is divided into two clauses.)
[PROLOGUE]
(First, a theme for a sermon on the Nativity of the Lord, and on the four horses of the sun and their meaning: The sun three times.)
1. At that time: To some who trusted in themselves as just and despised others, Jesus spoke this parable: Two men went up into the temple, etc. [Lk 18.9-10]
It says in Ecclesiasticus:
The sun, three times as much, burneth the mountains, breathing out fiery rays; and shining with his beams, he blindeth the eyes. [Ecclus 43.4]
The sun shines alone, obscuring all other stars with its radiance.
It is depicted with four horses: Pyrois (‘Shining’), Heous (‘Warming’), Aethon (‘Burning’) and Phlegon (‘Cooling’); which represent four characteristics of the sun.
 When it rises, it shines; when it goes up the sky, it warms; at noon, it burns; and as it declines towards sunset, it cools.
The true sun is Jesus Christ, who dwells in inaccessible light [cf. 1Tim 6.16]. Compared with his light, all other light is darkness; and compared to his justice, all the justice of the saints is like a soiled rag [cf. Is 64.6].
The four horses of the sun are the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Matthew is the ‘shining horse’, and he is represented in the form of a man because he wrote of the human origin of Christ:
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ [Mt 1.1].
Mark is the ‘warming horse’, and he is represented by a lion, which is hot-natured, and he wrote of a voice of one crying in the desert [Mk 1.3].
John is the ‘burning horse’, and he is represented by an eagle because, with unblinking eyes, like an eagle soaring high, he gazed at the sun when he wrote, In the beginning was the Word [Jn 1.1].
Luke is the ‘cooling horse’, and is given the form of an ox, which is slain in sacrifice.
Jesus Christ was the Sun that shone in his Nativity, warmed in his preaching (when he roared like a lion, saying: Do penance [Mt 3.2],
burned in his working of miracles (whereby he showed that he was truly God),
and cooled in his Passion, like an ox sacrificed to his Father, before setting in his death.
Again, when this Sun rises upon a sinner, it shines on him, so that he recognises his sin; warms him to feel sorrow for it; burns him in the fervour of satisfaction; and cools him in the mortification of vices.
Of this Sun, Ecclesiasticus says: The sun, three times as much, burneth the mountains. A mountain is immoveable. The ‘mountains’ of this world are the proud, of whom the psalm says:
The mountains melted like wax, at the presence of the Lord. [Ps 96.5]
This happens when he burns them three-fold, by contrition, confession and satisfaction in works.
The prophet prayed to be burned with this burning when he said: Burn my reins and my heart [Ps 25.2]. The heart is burned in contrition, the tongue in confession, and the reins in satisfaction.
There follows: Breathing out fiery rays. This means breathing out from itself. The rays of the Sun are the poverty and humility, patience and obedience of Jesus Christ.
As many as are the examples and words of salvation that he gave us, so many are the rays of fire with which we are inflamed with his love, and which he breathes from himself upon us.
And of this, there is added: And shining with his beauty he blindeth the eyes. He blinds the eyes of the proud with the rays of his poverty and humility, so that seeing they may not see [cf. Jn 12.40].
It is like the action of an eye-salve, which blurs and as it were blinds the diseased eye, but afterwards makes it clear and bright. That is why he says himself, in John:
For judgement I am come into this world;
that they who see may not see; and they who see may become blind. [Jn 9.39]
And also: If you were blind, you should not have sin, because you would seek the eye- salve that takes away all sin, but now you say: We see; your sin remaineth [Jn 9.41].
Set on fire and burnt by this sun, the publican was blinded (the true penitent). Of him the Gospel says: Two men went up into the temple.
2. There are two points to note in this Gospel: the arrogance of the Pharisee and the humility of the publican. The first part begins: Two men, etc. The second continues: And the publican, standing far off.
On this and the following Sunday we shall concord some texts from the book of Ecclesiasticus with the clauses of this and the following Gospel.
In the Introit of today’s Mass we sing: O God, come to my assistance [Ps 69.2]; and the Epistle is read from blessed Paul to the Corinthians:
 I make known unto you the Gospel [1Cor 15.1ff], which we will divide into two parts and concord with the clauses of the Gospel. The first is: I make known to you. The second is: I am the least.

[FIRST CLAUSE]
(The four kinds of pride: Two men went up.)
3. Let us say, then:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee and the other a publican.
The Pharisee, standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican.
I fast twice in as week; I give tithes of all that I possess. [Lk 18.10-12]
Let us note first that, according to the Gloss, there are four kinds of swelling pride: when someone attributes to himself the good that he has;
 or, if he acknowledges that it is given by God, he thinks that this is due to his own merits; or, he boasts of having what he does not, in fact, have; or, despising others,
he wishes it so seem as if he alone has what he has- as the saying goes:
"Falsely, a credit over all to claim, they blow their trumpet, puff their own good name."
The Pharisee suffered from this disease, and that is why he went down not justified, because he attributed his good qualities to himself alone, and looked down on the publican.
There you may see the dead lion and living dog of which Solomon speaks:
A living dog is better than a dead lion, [Eccles 9.4]
the humble publican and the proud Pharisee!
Note that the neck-bone of a lion is continuous and has no vertebrae, and the bones have no marrow in them.
A lion’s bones are particularly hard, more than those of any other animal, and if one is struck against another it causes a spark. In the same way, the proud man’s neck is stiff and unbending.
So Job says: He hath stretched out his hand against God, and hath strengthened himself against the Almighty. He hath run against him with his neck raised up, and is armed with a fat neck. [Job 15.25-26]
"Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory!
Thy relaxing sinews bend;
For awhile the ancient rigour
That thy birth bestowed, suspend."
Proud Pharisee:
Why doth thy heart elevate thee, and why dost thou stare with thy eyes, as if thou wert thinking great things?
Why doth thy spirit swell against God, to utter such words out of thy mouth? [Job 15.12- 13]
Words like: I am not as the rest of men, extortioners.
What is man that he should be without spot,
and he that is born of a woman that he should appear just?
Behold... the heavens are not pure in his sight.
How much more is man abominable and unprofitable? [Job 15.14-16]
And in the same book:
Behold, they that serve him are not steadfast;
and in his angels he found wickedness;
How much more shall they that dwell in houses of clay,
who have an earthly foundation! [Job 4.18-19]
The proud man lacks the marrow of compunction or compassion, and from the collision of his words and works there is struck a spark of arrogance, wrath and vainglory.
Thus it says in the book of Judges:
Let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Libanus. [Jg 9.15]
The bramble is the thickest kind of thorn, and the most troublesome. It represents the proud man, thickly sown with the thorns of riches and sins.
From it comes the fire of pride, devouring all the cedars of Libanus: that is, all the works he does, such as, I fast twice a week, etc.
St Gregory says, "What use is it to guard the whole city, if one gap is left through which an enemy may enter?"
When we boast about the perfection of our good life, we only show that it has not yet even begun.
Ecclesiasticus says:
Extol not thyself in doing thy work.
Every proud man is an abomination to the Lord. [Ecclus 10.29; Prov 16.5]
Aptly compared to a dead lion is that Pharisee, standing, stiff-necked. Pharisee means ‘separated’.
Thinking himself just, he separated himself from the publican, saying: I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, etc.
What doe he mean by ‘the rest of men’ if not ‘everyone but me’? It is as though he said, ‘I alone am just, the rest are sinners.’
(Against the proud poor man, the lying rich man, and the foolish old man: Three sorts.)
4. There is a concordance to this in Ecclesiasticus:
Three sorts my soul hateth, and I am greatly grieved at their life: a poor man that is proud; a rich man that is a liar;
an old man that is a fool and doting. [Ecclus 25.3-4]
A proud man thinks too highly of himself; a liar deceives another’s mind; the senile do not know themselves and their wits wander because of extreme old age.
Doctors say that they ‘enter their second childhood’, but in children the blood has not yet become hot, whereas in the aged it has again grown cold.
These three sorts, hateful to God, are to be found in the Pharisee and in any proud man.
The Pharisee was a poor man that is proud: poor, because he left an opening whereby thieves entered and stole all his goods; proud, because he got above himself when he thought himself better than others.
A proud man is poor, because he lacks the riches of humility, the lack of which leaves one supremely wretched.
The Pharisee was a rich man that is a liar: rich, when he said, I fast twice a week; a liar, when he prefaced this with, I am not as the rest of men.
The religious of our day are rich in the appearance of holiness, but they lie when they boast in their hearts. They say, like Elijah in the third book of Kings:
With zeal I have been zealous for the Lord God of hosts:
for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant.
They have thrown down thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left: and they seek my life to take it away. [3(1)Kg 19.10]
Let those who think that they alone serve God and kneel before him listen to his own words:
I have left me seven thousand men in Israel,
whose knees have not been bowed before Baal. [3(1)Kg 19.18]
Brother- even from Nazareth some good thing can come! [cf. Jn 1.46] Our God is not only God of the hills, but also of the valleys! [cf. 3(1)Kg 20.28] In Canticles he says:
I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys.[Cant 2.1]
The Lord dwells on high, yet his gaze is upon the lowly [cf. Ps 137.6].
The Pharisee was also an old man that is a fool: an old man, because he did not know himself, he had lost his wits, and did not understand what he was saying.
He went up to the temple to pray, not to praise himself; but he began with self praise when he should have started with the Lord’s prayer.
That is what some people do when they preach: they begin with self-praise, as a prologue. Praise in one’s own mouth defiles [Ecclus 15.9], and, Let another praise thee, not thine own mouth [Prov 27.2].
5. The first part of the Epistle is concordant to this first clause:
Now I make known to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received and wherein you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. [1Cor 15.1-2]
The Gospel which Christ and the Apostles preached is humility. He said: Learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart.[Mt 11.29]
The disciples learned this lesson from him, and taught it to others. So St Paul (whose name means ‘small’) says, I make known to you the Gospel wherein you stand, by which also you are saved.
Where there is humility there is firm standing and salvation. Because the Pharisee lacked it, he fell; and even as he justified himself, he made himself a sinner. He who has humility is saved, but he who does not have it believes in vain and works in vain.
It is because one comes to glory by humility, that this Epistle (which mentions Christ’s death and resurrection) is read with today’s Gospel, which says that whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. Christ humbled himself even to death, and he was exalted in his resurrection.
Let us, then, dearest brothers, ask the Lord Jesus Christ himself to take away from us the boasting of the Pharisee; and to imprint upon our hearts the Gospel of his humility; that we may go up to the temple of glory and, set at his right hand in the general resurrection, may deserve to rejoice with him. May he grant this, who died and rose again, to whom be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(A moral sermon on the misery of our body: Three sorts.)
6. Three sorts my soul hateth, and I am greatly grieved at their life: a poor man that is proud;
a rich man that is a liar;
an old man that is a fool and doting.
Ecclesiasticus says:
The most High hath created medicines out of the earth:
and a wise man will not abhor them. [Ecclus 38.4]
The most High, Jesus Christ, has created from the earth (his flesh) the medicine of humility with which he has healed the human race.
Alternatively: he created medicine from the earth when, by the affliction of the body, the wounds of the spirit are healed. So medicine is made from our flesh, as from a ‘healing serpent’.
The flesh was like the serpent in relation to our guilt, but it will give healing in our punishment. The wise man will not abhor this medicine, the humility of Christ and the affliction of the flesh; but the proud, the liar and the senseless reject it.
Of them it is said: Three sorts my soul hateth: a poor man that is proud, etc.
7. The proud poor man is our wretched body; the rich liar is this world; and the foolish old man is the devil.
The body is subject to corruption- indeed, ‘corpse’ and ‘corrupt’ have a similar sound. It is poor, because it possesses little and controls little.
Our body is poor, because it enters this exile naked, blind and weeping; and naked, blind and wretched it leaves this exile again (and would that it be not to eternal destruction!),
subject to the necessities of hunger and cold, afflicted with infirmity, and full of corruption and uncleanness.
Poor and unhappy creature, where does your pride come from? Whence comes your glory? If you want to be proud, you are being proud of a stinking sewer which you carry about with you.
O wretch, wretched and poor, who do you think you are? What do you boast about? Are you not someone who was procreated from stinking seed in the secret cavern of your mother’s womb?
For nine months you were nourished there on the blood of menstruation, that drives dogs mad if they taste it. Whence, then, is your pride?
Are you proud, perhaps, of your parents’ blood? If you are, you are surely proud of the dunghill from which you were born! Is it perhaps of riches?
Then you are proud of what belongs to another. It is not yours, it is just lent to you. It is not yours, because you cannot take it with you.
Death’s gate is very narrow, and even the poor and naked can scarcely pass through it, taking only their sins with them, which are nothing. Maybe you glory in your wisdom and eloquence?
Not to you, not to you the glory, but to him alone [cf. Ps 113.9], who gives a mouth and wisdom [cf. Lk 21.15], who made the dumb to speak and the deaf to hear [cf. Mk 7.37].
O pauper, you body of miseries, seeing that you are in such need and wretchedness, are you proud of so much, do you glory in so much? What would you do if you were rich?
Blessed be God, who hast humbled the proud one, as one that is slain [Ps 88.11], who has dried up the sea, the waters of the roaring deep, who has struck the dragon and put down the mighty.
He has given you instead of a sweet smell, a stench; instead of a girdle, a cord; instead of curled hair, baldness. [Is 3.24]
Humble yourself, then, you poor wretch. Groan and weep, and say with Jeremiah:
I am the man that see my poverty by the rod of his indignation.
He hath led me and brought me into darkness, and not into light.
My skin and my flesh he hath made old: he hath broken my bones.
He hath built round about me: and he hath compassed me with gall and labour.
He hath set me in dark places, as those that are dead for ever.
He hath built against me round about, that I may not get out: he hath made my fetters heavy.
He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath inebriated me with wormwood. He hath broken my teeth one by one: he hath fed me with ashes.
Remember my poverty and my transgression, the wormwood and the gall. [Lam 3.1-2,4- 7,15-16,19]
(The mendacity of the world: A rich man that is a liar.)
8. There follows: a rich man that is a liar. This rich man is the world, of whose riches the
prophet Nahum says:
As for Nineveh, her waters are like a great pool: but the men flee away. Stand, stand! But there is none that will return back.
Take ye the spoil of the silver, take ye the spoil of the gold;
for there is no end of the riches of all the precious vessels. [Nah 2.8-9]
Niniveh (meaning ‘beautiful’) stands for the world, fair with a deceitful beauty. Her waters (riches and pleasures) are like a pool that dries up in the summer heat.
When the heat of death comes, riches and delights dry up. So Ecclesiasticus says:
In the end of a man is the stripping of his works. [Ecclus 11.29]
They all flee away, they all pay the debt of death. Niniveh, the fair harlot, laughs at them and says, Stand, stand! Take the silver, take the gold.
The lovers of the world leave behind what they cannot take with them, because the days of man are like a shadow [cf. Job 8.9], and his life is like a wind [cf. Job 7.7] which passes and does not return.
As there is no end to Niniveh’s riches, so there will be no end to her miseries. Of all the precious vessels: these vessels are the hearts of worldlings, so deep in their cupidity that, however great the multitude of riches, they cannot be satisfied.
The same prophet adds, concerning the world’s lies:
Woe to thee, O city of blood, all full of lies and violence: rapine shall not depart from thee. [Nah 3.1]
Woe to the world of guilt and punishment, the city of blood (that is, sins) in which there is no truth, only lies. As the Psalm says:
Truths are decayed from among the children of men. [Ps 11.2]
This city is all full of lies and violence. St Gregory3 says, "This present life can only be had with tears, and so it can only be loved with tears." In Jeremiah, the Lord says of its lying:
It is become to me as the falsehood of deceitful waters that cannot be trusted. [Jer 15.18]
These faithless waters are riches,which keep no faith with their possessor.
They promise him much, but deliver nothing. When their lovers abound with them, they praise God: He will praise thee when thou shalt do well with him [Ps 48.19].
St Gregory says, "Useless praise, that springs from prosperity! More meritorious is that which the power of sorrow does not take away."
Carnal folk praise God while they enjoy riches, but when these are taken from them, they lie to the Lord.
(The folly of the devil, and the obedience of Christ: An old man that is a fool.)
9. There follows: An old man that is a fool and doting. This old fool is the devil, of whom
Ecclesiastes says:
Better is a child that is poor and wise than a king that is old and foolish, who knoweth not to foresee for hereafter. [Eccles 4.13]
He did not keep the wisdom that was given him among the angels, because he would not be subject to his Creator.
Those who refuse to be subject to the yoke of obedience, for the sake of him who was obedient even to the Cross, are made the devil’s members.
Every time you contumaciously despise obedience to your superior, you become like to the apostate angels.
You despise not men, but God who places men over the heads of men.
So Job says:
Who made a weight for the winds. [Job 28.25]
The wind is strong and violent. Human nature is prone to evil from its youth, and is like a wind, light yet violent.
So God makes a weight for it, obedience to prelates, so that being made heavy by that weight it may not be foolishly lifted up above itself, like the devil, and so miserably fall below itself.
In Lamentations, Jeremiah says:
It is good for a man when he hath borne the yoke from his youth. He shall sit solitary and hold his peace:
because he hath taken himself above himself. [Lam 3.27-28]
When you humbly place others above yourself, then you will wonderfully raise yourself up above yourself.
A yoke is something that joins two things together. Bear, then, my son, the yoke of obedience with Christ the Son of God.
The young calf, Jesus Christ, bound by the yoke of obedience, has drawn all by himself the burden of all our sins.
So Isaiah says: The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. [Is 53.6]
The Jews, like countrymen with a goad, prodded him to make him go faster. See how this young child of ours, all alone, pulled the weight that men and angels were unable to bear; and no one thinks about it, or perceives in his heart.
 O brother, run, I pray you, and join yourself to that yoke, and bear it with Jesus, lift it up with Jesus! Isaiah says:
I looked about, and there was none to help;
I sought, and there was none to give aid. [Is 63.5]
Help him, then, brother! Help Jesus, because if you become a sharer in his trials, you will also share in his consolations.
We ask you, then, Lord Jesus, to make us humble poor men, truthful rich men, wise old men: so that we may be fit to come to your eternal delights and riches.
Grant this, you who are blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

[SECOND CLAUSE]
(A theme for a sermon on the six things necessary for the penitent: With three things is my spirit pleased.)
10. There follows, secondly:
The publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but he struck his breast, saying:
O God, be merciful to me a sinner. I say to you, this man went down unto his house justified rather than the other;
because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. [Lk 18.13-14]
There are six things to note in this clause: the recollection of his own wickedness, the humbling of his mind and heart, contrition, confession, satisfaction, and the justification of the publican himself.
The recollection of wickedness is expressed by:
The publican, standing afar off. Conscious of his own wickedness, he stood at a distance, reckoning himself unworthy of actually entering the temple.
The Pharisee thought he was near, but he was distant; the publican thought himself distant, but was near.
The branch was broken and the wild olive was grafted in [cf. Rom 11.17].
That which Israel sought, he hath not obtained; but the election hath obtained it. [Rom 11.7]
Stand, sinner, stand afar off, and think yourself unworthy. Say with Abraham:
I will speak to the Lord, wheareas I am dust and ashes. [Gen 18.27]
The humility of mind and body is expressed by: He would not even lift up his eyes to heaven.
The distinguishing mark of humility is usually shown in the eyes. Ecclesiasticus says:
Give me not haughtiness of my eyes; [Ecclus 23.5]
and St Augustine says, "The shameless eye is herald of the shameless heart."
Further, in striking his breast he expresses three things: contrition, by the striking; confession, by the sound it made; satisfaction in deeds, by his hand.
He said: O God, be merciful to me a sinner; be reconciled. The publican, like a humble man, would not dare to draw near, and so God drew near to him.
 He would not look up, so God looked upon him. He struck his breast, inflicting punishment on himself, so God spared him. He confessed, and God forgave him.
God forgave what he acknowledged. Attend, and look carefully at the concord the penitent had with himself. Humility shone forth in his mind, and humility dwelt in his eyes.
His heart grieved for what he had done, his hand struck, his tongue cried out: O God, be merciful to me a sinner.
11. There is a concordance to this concord in Ecclesiasticus:
With three things my spirit is pleased, which are approved before God and men:
The concord of brethren, and the love of neighbours,
and a man and wife that agree well together. [Ecclus 25.1-2]
Let us see what is meant by the brethren, the neighbours, and man and wife. The ‘brethren’ are the five bodily senses, of which Genesis says:
Juda, thee shall thy brethren praise. [Gen 49.8]
They are Ruben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar and Zabulon.
Juda is the penitent, and when his five bodily senses are in concord together, they give him praise- that is, they make him praiseworthy.
Ruben means ‘vision’, and represents sight. Simeon means ‘hearing’, and represents it. Levi is ‘taken up’, representing the sense of smell whereby we take up the air we breathe.
Issachar is ‘remembrance of the Lord’, that is, the tongue whereby the penitent should be mindful both to confess sin and praise the Lord. Zabulon, ‘dwelling of strength’, is touch.
The concord of these brethren is pleasing to God and men. ‘Concord’ means a joining of hearts; to be concordant means to be of one heart.
There follows: the love of neighbours. These neighbours are the affections of the mind, nearest of all to us. If the love of God is among them, so that they are directed towards God and love God, then this is pleasing to God.
And a man and wife that agree well together.
The husband is the reason, the wife is the sensual nature. If these agree in the fear and love of God, then they will receive whatever they ask for. If two of you agree, it will be done for you [cf. Mt 18.19].
It was because there was such concord, love and agreement in the publican that the Lord said of him, I say to you, this man went down unto his house justified rather than the other- that is, rather than the Pharisee.
St Bernard says here, "The publican, who emptied himself and took care to show himself as an empty vessel, received a fuller grace."
See how great the Redeemer’s grace is: the publican went up defiled and came down justified, he went up a sinner and came down a saint. So, in the Introit of today’s Mass, he cries out confidently:
O God, come to my assistance, [Ps 69.2]
that is, Be merciful to me, a sinner;
O Lord, make haste to help me,
by pouring in your grace, so that I may go down justified.
(A moral theme on humility: Everyone that exalteth himself.)
12. The second part of the Epistle is concordant to this second clause:
I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.
But, by the grace of God, I am what I am. And his grace in me hath not been void. [1Cor 15.9-10]
Nothing can be less than the least. See how St Paul, the least, and the humble publican are concordant.
The latter thought himself unworthy and stood afar off; the former reckoned himself least of the apostles.
The latter would not lift up his eyes to heaven, because he had sinned before heaven and before God; the former said, I am not worthy to be called an apostle.
The latter accused himself as a sinner; the former, that he had persecuted the Church of God. The latter found grace, and so did the former, who said, By the grace of God, I am what I am.
Let us then, dearest brothers, ask the Lord Jesus Christ, who forgave the sins of the publican and of Saul, and bestowed grace on them, to forgive us and bestow grace on us, that we may attain to his glory.
May he grant this, who is blessed and glorious, life and salvation, just and kindly, for ever and ever. Let every humble soul say: Amen. Alleluia.
(On the true penitent, and on the nature of bees: The memory of Josias.)
13. Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall
be exalted. Ecclesiasticus says:
The memory of Josias is like the composition of a sweet smell made by the art of a
perfumer;
his remembrance shall be sweet as honey in the mouth, and as music at a banquet of wine. [Ecclus 42.1-2]
Josias means ‘one in whom is sacrifice’, and he represents the penitent or the just man, in whom is that sacrifice to God which is a broken heart [cf.Ps 50.19].
His life is compared to the work of a perfumer, to the sweetness of honey, and to an instrument of music.
The true penitent, like a perfumer, crushes in the mortar of his heart, with the pestle of contrition, all kinds of thoughts, words and deeds, and reduces them to the finest powder, which he mixes with the balm of tears.
This is the composition of a sweet smell, the work of the perfumer which is compared to the sweetness of honey.
Note that bees gather wax from flowers, taking it in their fore-legs and passing it to the middle legs, and thence to the joints of the hind-legs. Then they fly with it, and you can see how heavy it is.
When a bee flies, it does not visit different kinds of flowers, nor does it leave one flower and go to another, but it collects what it needs from one flower and returns to the hive.
There it works, and lives on what it makes. A penitent, too, has six ‘legs’. The first pair are the love of God and neighbour, the middle are prayer and abstinence, the hinder are patience and perseverance.
The flowers are the examples of the holy fathers, from which he should gather ‘wax’- purity of mind and body- gathering it with these six ‘legs’ and returning to the ‘hive’ of his own conscience, to work upon it inwardly and refresh himself with the fruit of this inner working.
As the Lord says: Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting [Jn 6.27].
The work of a just man is like the sweetness of honey: purity of conscience, honesty of life, the fragrance of good repute, and joy in divine contemplation.
You who meddle in many matters [cf. Ecclus 11.10], go not to the ant, I say [cf. Prov 6.6], but to the bee, to learn wisdom.
The bee does not visit different kinds of flower; likewise you should not go to the varied flowers of words and all kinds of books;
nor should you leave one flower and go to another, like the dabblers who are always changing books and reading sermons and weighing words: but never attaining wisdom!
Gather what you need from one, and store it in the hive of your memory.
The Philosopher says: "A plant that is always being moved will not flourish. There is nothing so useful that it improves with moving."
Again, the life of the just man is compared to an instrument of music.
This musical instrument is the word of Gospel preaching, the melody of good repute harmonising with a holy life.
From such a life comes a sweet-scented memory that delights the minds of those who hear, as it sounds sweetly in their ears.
(On humility and on the nature of the camel: Everyone that humbleth himself; and: I went out by the gate of the Valley.)
14. Regarding the humility of this Josias, the penitent who humbles himself with the publican, the Lord says:
Every one that humbleth himself shall be exalted. The humble man as it were stoops to the ground.
Heaven’s gate is low, and whoever wants to enter by it must stoop down.
The Lord taught this when he bowed his head and gave up his spirit [cf. Jn 19.30]. He says:
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. [Mk 10.25]
Literally, the ‘needle’s eye’ was a certain gate in Jerusalem. The camel is taught by nature to stoop down when passing through a low place, and to walk on its knees.
That is why it has padded knees, so as not to hurt them when it walks on them.
It is easier, then, for a camel to pass through, because a camel can lower itself by nature, whereas a rich man can do so only by grace.
To explain this stooping down to us, there was a certain gate in Jerusalem called the Valley Gate, of which Nehemiah says:
I went out by night by the Gate of the Valley, and before the Dragon fountain, and to the Dung Gate:
 and I viewed the wall of Jerusalem which was broken down, and the gates thereof which were consumed by fire.
And I passed to the Gate of the Fountain, and to the king’s aqueduct; and there was no place for the beast on which I rode to pass...
And I came to the Gate of the Valley, and returned. [Neh 2.13-15]
The Gate of the Valley is our entrance into the world, when we go out to see it. The Dragon Fountain is the fountain of tears.
The Dung Gate is penitence, through which the dung of sin is carried out. Then we consider the breach in the spiritual wall, made by sin; and the gates consumed by fire, which are the senses corrupted by sin.
The Gate of the Fountain is contemplation, to which we pass after doing penance.
The aqueduct is the contemplative soul, through which flow the waters of understanding.
The beast for which there is no room is the body, whose heaviness pulls men down from heavenly contemplation; for, the corruptible body is a load upon the soul [Wisd 9.15].
And so we must return to the Gate of the Valley, because we must persevere in humility.
Ecclesiasticus says: Humble thy spirit very much; for the vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and worms [Ecclus 7.19].
The flesh of the ungodly means carnal and ungodly people.
So the Lord says in Ezekiel:
In the fire of my rage will I blow upon thee, and will give thee into the hands of men that are brutish and contrive thy destruction. [Ezek 21.31-32]
And in Judith:
He will give fire and worms into their flesh, that they may burn and may feel for ever. [Jud 16.21]
Humble your spirit, then, because, as Ecclesiasticus says:
The prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds; and till it come nigh he will not be comforted. [Ecclus 35.21]
Origen says, "One saint praying is worth more than many sinners fighting. The prayer of the saint penetrates heaven: how can it fail to overcome earthly enemies?"
Augustine says, "There is great power in pure prayer, which is like a person entering God’s presence, and doing what he commands. The flesh cannot come there."
And Gregory says, "To pray truly is not just to send forth words; but bitter groans of compunction." Humble your spirit, then, because every one that humbles himself will be exalted.
Ecclesiasticus says:
He hath lifted him up from his low estate, and hath exalted his head from tribulation, and many have wondered at him. [Ecclus 11.13]
9  Forums / Saints' & Spiritual Life General Discussion / Contemplation on: June 12, 2021, 09:18:00 PM
According to the Catechism
Quote
III. Contemplative Prayer

2709 What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: "Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us."6
Contemplative prayer seeks him "whom my soul loves."7 It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.

2710 The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. the heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty ant in faith.

2711 Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: we "gather up:" the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed.

2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.8 But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.

2713 Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts.9 Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, "to his likeness."

2714 Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently intense time of prayer. In it the Father strengthens our inner being with power through his Spirit "that Christ may dwell in (our) hearts through faith" and we may be "grounded in love."10

2715 Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. "I look at him and he looks at me": this is what a certain peasant of Ars used to say to his holy cure about his prayer before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the "interior knowledge of our Lord," the more to love him and follow him.11

2716 Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the "Yes" of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God's lowly handmaid.

2717 Contemplative prayer is silence, the "symbol of the world to come"12 or "silent love."13 Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the "outer" man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.

2718 Contemplative prayer is a union with the prayer of Christ insofar as it makes us participate in his mystery. the mystery of Christ is celebrated by the Church in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in contemplative prayer so that our charity will manifest it in our acts.

2719 Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. the Paschal night of the Resurrection passes through the night of the agony and the tomb - the three intense moments of the Hour of Jesus which his Spirit (and not "the flesh [which] is weak") brings to life in prayer. We must be willing to "keep watch with (him) one hour."14

References:
6 St. Teresa of Jesus, the Book of Her Life, 8, 5 in the Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976), I, 67.

7 Song 1:7; cf. 3:14.

8 Cf. Lk 7:36-50; 19:1-10.

9 Cf. Jer 31:33.

10 Eph 3:16-17.

11 Cf. St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 104.

12 Cf. St. Isaac of Nineveh, Tract. myst. 66.

13 St. John of the Cross, Maxims and Counsels, 53 in the Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 678.

14 Cf. Mt 26:40.
10  Forums / Catholic General Discussion / Re: What form of contemplation prayer is in Vitalis Lehodey O.C.R. The Ways of Menta on: June 12, 2021, 01:19:47 PM
Hello Uriel, The Ways of Mental Prayer by Right Reverend Dom Vitalis Lehodey Abbot of Bricquebec O.C.R is a wonderful book that teaches the different methods, obstacles and examples of mental prayer. The book deals well with the different kinds of mental prayer. It is a very well written book and I have enjoyed reading it, it has sparked many wonderful moments of awe and wholeheartedly recommend it to all.
The method you are referring to is silent meditation or silent contemplation, depending on the activity you undertake in your mind.
You should not shut out God's Word out of your mind because it is in God's Word that we come to know His will through the guidance of God's Spirit.

Through silent contemplation, if done with the right intent, does not shut down or lock out God's words but just the opposite. The process allows one to truly open up to God and better hear his word. No need for one to constantly repeat vocal words or use imagination.

Probably, the highest level of prayer but not for everyone.

I just thought this book spoke of silent contemplation...but not.
The book does speak about silent contemplation and as you said there is not a need to repeat words or use your imagination for images.
Mental prayer is for everyone, though the grace of contemplation is not given to all.
The book refers to all the different types of prayers and is well suited for the laity
11  Forums / Catholic General Discussion / Re: What form of contemplation prayer is in Vitalis Lehodey O.C.R. The Ways of Menta on: June 12, 2021, 12:39:03 AM
Hello Uriel, The Ways of Mental Prayer by Right Reverend Dom Vitalis Lehodey Abbot of Bricquebec O.C.R is a wonderful book that teaches the different methods, obstacles and examples of mental prayer. The book deals well with the different kinds of mental prayer. It is a very well written book and I have enjoyed reading it, it has sparked many wonderful moments of awe and wholeheartedly recommend it to all.
The method you are referring to is silent meditation or silent contemplation, depending on the activity you undertake in your mind.
You should not shut out God's Word out of your mind because it is in God's Word that we come to know His will through the guidance of God's Spirit.
12  Forums / Submissions / Re: I Confess With Faith (Prayers for every hour from Saint Nerses the Grace-filled) on: June 11, 2021, 10:48:32 AM
What can it mean that St Nerses combined the entire Bible into a single prayer?  
"- the book Jesus...?
It is a rare book, ( titled "Jesus, Only-begotten Son") I own a copy . It contains the Bible in prayer form written by Saint Nerses the Gracefilled where he admits his faults and asks the Saints and Patriarchs and Prophets to pray for him and God to forgive Him while praising the Persons of the Holy Trinity. The book is about 100 pages of prayer walking through the whole of salvation history through prayer.
The use of the word confession usually seems to denote expression of contrition for specific acts or thoughts.  Would it be best to include contrition for a specific sin, mortal or venial, if there is anything at the moment of prayer that has not previously been confessed?
Or is it possible that the term confession connotes another topic or issue?
To confess God's power and ability to save or to confess Jesus before men, both are concerned with the honest public acknowledgement of God's praise, His name and His Son.
Matthew 10:32
Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven.

In terms of contrition, the graver the sin, the greater the contrition should be.
Contrition can be general or particular, general contrition laments the state of the soul and its loss of baptismal grace through all manner of sin. Particular contrition laments the exact nature of the sins committed and recognition of their associated vice. The general contrition felt for all sins is sufficient for most cases, particular contrition is important for making change in one's life but can be dangerous to recall details of sins as they can reintroduce temptations into the mind. Thus it is best to ask God's Holy Spirit to fill your heart with sorrow for sins and burning love for God, thus the flame of love and the stream of tears should, when combined, bring you back into a state of grace and, by God's grace, acquire perfect contrition. Perfect contrition, for the sake of love of God and neighbor, is an incredible grace that must be prayed for and desired. I cannot describe the greatness of God's grace but when your heart is filled with contrition and you taste in your mouth the sweetness of God's mercy, I could not help but sing and praise God.
Hope is what makes contrition sweet and not bitter, without hope, all sorrow is worldly but hope sanctifies the sorrow for sin and gives us a confidence in God whom is greater than all our sins.
13  Forums / Catholic General Discussion / Re: Why is the number 7 significant? on: June 09, 2021, 10:09:52 PM
Why is the number 7 significant in the Bible?
The number 7 is the highest single digit prime number and symbolizes perfection and fulfillment. God rested on the seventh day and hallowed it.
The clean animals brought into the ark by 7s.
7 lamb's stood as witness to Abraham and Abimelech.
Jacob labored 7 years for each wife.
Jacob bowed himself to the ground 7 times before Esau.
Joseph saw 7 cows and 7 stalks of grain. This signified 7 years of plenty.
The 7 unhealthy cows and 7 unhealthy stalks of grain signifying 7 years of famine.
Midian had 7 daughters.
7 days of Passover eating unleavened bread.
7 lamps on the menorah symbolizes  the seven heavens and the seven spirits of God.
 The blood was sprinkled 7 times upon the veil.
The altar and the utensils and the laver and the base were sprinkled with anointing oil 7 times to consecrate them.
Persons who were sick were checked on every 7 days to see signs of improvement.
The leper is sprinkled 7 times with blood from a bird.
Those who were to have atonement offered for them the priest would sprinkle oil 7 times before God.
The mercy seat was sprinkled with the blood of bulls 7 times.
The horns of the altar were cleansed of sin by sprinkling blood 7 times of sheeps and goats.
In the Law the Lord would punish those who refused to admit 7 fold for their sins.
7 fold plagues were given to those under the Law who refused go obey God.
The priests carried 7 trumpets when they walked around Jericho for 7 days.
7 priests bore trumpets before the ark.
Elisha raised to life a boy who then sneezed 7 times.
Elisha had Naaman dip the in Jordan 7 times to cure his leprosy.
14  Forums / Everything Else / Re: Clouds II on: June 08, 2021, 12:42:51 PM
In my NAB (1970 OT, except Psalms, 1991), Ex 40-34 reads the cloud covered the meeting tent and the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling.  This entire chapter seems to avoid the word Tabernacle.  Can you comment on these changes, or where to look for explanations?
The tent of meeting is the Tabernacle.
There has been an effort to avoid ancient terms and to use words that describe simply what is being referenced, to lower the reading difficulty it would seem.
15  Forums / Catholic General Discussion / 10 Things on: June 08, 2021, 12:27:02 AM
It is good to let everything draw the mind to God, and so to use everything to its true purpose. Even dry numbers have their associations.

One God, two natures to Jesus Christ, God and Man, three persons of the Holy Trinity, Four Last Things. . .

I have one that is very similar
One God, two natures, Three Persons of the Trinity, Four gospels, five books of Moses, six days of creation, seven spirits of God, eight days of passover, nine Beatitudes,  ten commandments
16  Forums / Catholic General Discussion / Re: Why is the number 40 significant? on: June 07, 2021, 11:37:09 PM
Why is the number 40 significant in the Bible?
Fourty is the number of satisfaction, fourty years in the wilderness till all the adults died who had committed idolatry. Fourty days being initiated into the divine Mysteries by Almighty and Most Merciful God on the mountain.
Fourty days the people of Nineveh fasted and prayed and repented of their sins and were spared by the satisfaction they had obtained.
Fourty days in the wilderness to defeat the flesh, the world and the devil.
Fourty days after Jesus ascended Jesus prayed the Father in heaven and satisfaction was made for sins for the Holy Spirit , who forgives sins was sent on the day of Pentecost, the feast of the harvest of wheat according to the Law and thus the harvest of the Sower resulted in abundant fruit,  over 3000 souls saved in one day, thanks be to God.
Fourty breaks down into 4×10 meaning the four gospels and the 10 commandments when multiplied produce satisfaction for God.
Or 8x5 meaning the eight days of passover and the 5 books of the Law are fulfilled and bring satisfaction to God.
20x2 is the two sets of Tablets and the Two Testaments
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