Just a few days ago, I found a treasure online, a profound work by St. Bernard which I had never seen before. However, the format of the files was so difficult to read that I was moved immediately to edit it myself, making it user friendly and scaled to fit on phone or tablet. The Table of Contents is on p.. 16. Pages are designated in blue; find titles in bold red. Enjoy!
Today I discovered a charming and deeply spiritual blog called “A Cloistered Heart.” I can’t do it justice here without stealing some of Nancy’s thunder. Let me just quote this one little part: “THE CLOISTERED HEART IS a way of living for God in the midst of the world. It is heart monasticism that can be embraced by married or single persons, religious or lay. It’s an analogy in which our lives can be “monasteries,” our hearts can live in the “enclosure” of Christ, and all things may be viewed through the will of God as through a “grille.”
This lovely mother and grandmother is a woman after my own heart! One of her initial posts explains the cloistered heart in greater and more profound detail: http://www.thecloisteredheart.org/2017/08/so-what-is-cloistered-heart.html
I return often to my own post, THE INNER CLOISTER OF FIAT–it’s the same idea which I captured from my beloved Conchita and of course, Love Crucified refers also to our “domestic monasteries.”
Enjoy her lovely artwork and the graphics. She cites so well many of the saints. What a refreshing blog!
The Holy Spirit has been much on my mind and in my prayer in the last couple of weeks. Not only do I return to Him periodically, but I often write about Him because I don’t think we appreciate His great presence as we should.
In one of our Cenacles of Love Crucified, Pati told us that we should put a copy of our Covenant where we can see and pray it daily. [Love Crucified is a Catholic covenant community, a community of lay men and women, husbands and wives in some cases, and ordained priests and deacons as well, all solemnly vowing to live in a covenant of sacrificial love as brothers and sisters helping one another on the path to Union with the Blessed Trinity. See: http://lovecrucified.com/ ]
Following Pati’s lead, I have been meditating on the covenant in the last few days, noting this part in particular: “My Lord, I surrender myself to the Holy Spirit and vow to be attentive to His promptings and movements in my soul, that I may come to a deeper knowledge of Christ and of myself….”
In the last few years I have become so conscious of the Holy Spirit, so thirsty to come to know Him and “to be attentive to His promptings and movements in my soul.” But how? How does this look in every day practice; and specifically, what does one do to accomplish this in real time?
I determined to review the posts I have already written on the Holy Spirit and see if I could gain some perspective and insight. Then I saw this article a few days ago on a Catholic website, Spiritual Direction, which published an article: “Gift of the Holy Spirit and the Divine Indwelling”:
“So, what does indwelling even mean? Indwelling is the supernatural presence of the Holy Spirit in a person who is in the state of grace.’ … Christians are temples of the living God when they choose to cooperate with grace. St. Augustine says, ‘Although God is everywhere wholly present, he does not dwell in everyone. It is not possible to say to all what the Apostle says: ‘Know you not that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?’ He that is everywhere does not dwell in all, and he does not dwell equally in those in whom he does dwell.’” [https://www.spiritualdirection.com/2017/10/19/gift-of-the-holy-spirit-and-the-divine-indwelling]
The Holy Spirit dwells within us from the moment of our baptism and will leave only when we are no longer in the state of grace. But St. Augustine tells us here that “he does not dwell equally in those in whom he does dwell.” What does that mean?
What can it mean but that if we ignore the Spirit of God who Indwells us, we do not grow in grace, and that the more we cooperate with grace, the deeper and more profound the Indwelling. What could deepen the Indwelling more than “to be attentive to His promptings and movements in my soul”? Now it is clear to us WHY we need to be attentive; but HOW?
I remember a wonderful post by Mark Mallett a year ago, RAISE YOUR SAILS. He combined three aspects of spirituality: the “strong driving wind” of the Holy Spirit, abandonment to the Divine Will through the duty of the moment, and embracing the Cross, especially as we face the Storm.
My reflections on his post led to my own post , HOLY WIND. This morning I was deeply moved again by Mark’s explanation:
“At each and every moment, trust the Holy Spirit who blows where He wills according to My plan….
“Each and every moment the Divine Will of God blows in your life within the present moment. All that is required of you is to simply raise the sails of trust into the Winds of the moment and, turning the rudder of obedience, do that which the moment requires, the duty of the moment. Just as the wind is invisible, so too, hidden within this moment is the power of God to transform, sanctify, and make you holy—yes, hidden behind the mundane, the ordinary, the unglamorous; behind crosses and consolations, the will of God is always there, always working, always active.”
To respond to every impulse and movement of the Holy Spirit in the Divine Indwelling is simply to “do that which the moment requires.” If we look at our life, often hectic and confusing, paying attention to the Holy Spirit seems impossible; but Mark tells us: “hidden within this moment is the power of God.” Obedience is needed in just this moment, one moment at a time, whether mundane, ordinary, unglamorous. We are blind; but “the will of God is always there, always working, always active” in the moment. All I need is to “do that which the moment requires.”
Isn’t this the way Mary, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, led her entire life? Each moment was filled with a simple FIAT.
In UNDER THE GAZE OF THE FATHER, Ven. Luis Martinez reminds Conchita:
“Do not forget that because of the mystical incarnation the Holy Spirit moves you almost constantly, not only in actions which seem important, but in all actions, even in ordinary and small ones. Are there perhaps common actions for souls that the Holy Spirit possesses and moves? Even though you are unaware of it, your divine Spouse constantly moves your soul, and places His divine seal on your activity” [p. 179].
What that means for us is that as living hosts, other Christs, the Holy Spirit constantly moves within us, even though we may be unaware of it. He is the constant Pulse of our life as he places His divine seal on every action, “even in ordinary and small ones.” Like Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit, we are to submit our will in abandonment and fiat in each moment; like Mary, we too will be spouses of the Holy Spirit, as we grow in grace before God and man, yearning to be utterly filled with the Divine Indwelling.
If the Holy Spirit is not the pulse of your life, then who or what is?
LINKS TO MY OTHER POSTS ON THE HOLY SPIRIT:
“The Holy Spirit and His Seven Gifts” – https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/soul-food-talk-8-the-holy-spirit-and-his-seven-gifts/
“Touching the Holy Spirit—Part 1” – https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/touching-the-holy-spirit-part-1/
“Touching the Holy Spirit—Part 2”- https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/touching-the-holy-spirit-part-2/
“Sensuality and the Holy Spirit” – https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/sensuality-the-holy-spirit/
“Unity in the Holy Spirit”- https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2016/07/09/unity-in-the-holy-spirit/
“The Holy Wind”- https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/the-holy-wind/
POSTS ON THE SACRAMENT OF THE MOMENT:
“The Sacrament of the Moment”- https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/the-sacrament-of-the-moment/
“Abandonment to Divine Providence”- https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/soul-food-talk-5-abandonment-to-divine-providence/
“My Little Tabernacle of Ordinary Life”- https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2017/07/06/my-little-tabernacle-of-ordinary-life-from-ammies-testimony-on-being-a-living-host/
Before Hurricane Harvey, before Irma, I wrote in my journal: For the last few weeks I have been in somewhat of a spiritual Limbo—going to Adoration and Mass, yes, but rather dry, tired mostly from continuing insomnia. I have felt myself pulling back. I don’t know how else to say it. It was not from choice, but from feeling; I was, at best, only half conscious of this, but it grieved me. I felt I was being unfaithful.
Then, this week, while trying to walk in the mall for exercise, I made an unwise purchase, a vanity purchase, a frivolous act which is truly not in character for me; and it distresses me, pushes me to repentance. I ask myself and Jesus: “What is happening here?”
This dryness has physical cause, I know, the insomnia—but how did I come to this frivolous act so unlike me? I say with the Gospel: “An enemy has done this!”
I am little and weak, Lord. As with David, give me five stones for my slingshot: humily, purity, simplicity, trust, and courage.
Mother, help me to live always in the inner chamber of Fiat.
Trying to work myself through this strange ennui, still confused about what I had done and why I had done it, I returned to a continual meditation on FIAT, reading and reflecting on this little paragraph which I wrote last spring on HARDNESS OF HEART: “Mary’s FIAT was the unqualified, open response of a heart utterly divested of design, plan, or expectation–a heart free to receive the completely unexpected….” And also on THE INNER CLOISTER OF FIAT, Jesus tells Blessed Conchita: “You are to live cloistered in the very inner sanctuary of your soul, for there is where dwells the Holy Spirit. …enter into the innermost regions of your soul…. The ‘inner cloister’ is essential for the sanctification of the soul wishing to be all Mine.” The Holy Spirit then revealed to me: ““In the perfect FIAT of my Mother, I find my inner cloister.”
I felt I had moved outside of God’s will—outside of FIAT, for as short time as perhaps it had been—that I had been unfaithful, having failed humility, prudence, and charity. For what I had spent I could have sent much relief to Texas, and now Florida. I determined that my penance would be to wear the cosmetic products, and every time I did, I would see and feel the humiliation on my very face, the shame, the disgrace I had brought upon myself—so well deserved.
Over the last few years, I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed with Blessed Conchita, her words from a holy hour [which I read and first prayed in Oct. 2014]: “I want to live and die hidden in a sacrifice…immolation, far away from every human glance, burning myself like incense in the midst of my roughness, with a constant death to all my self-will. Help me, my Life, to destroy within my heart every self-indulgence, consuming myself silently as the candle flame before your altar.”
Now God had hit me between the eyes with a 2X4, showing me my vanity—very much alive and well, my self-will, self-love, self-indulgence. I have been humbled, so very humbled.
Then today the Holy Spirit led me to a little book, Rev. Garrigou-Lagrange’s book PROVIDENCE, largely based on Father de Caussade’s classic. I came upon this quotation by St. Catherine of Siena: If My servants are confused at the knowledge of their imperfection, if they give themselves up to the love of virtue, if they dig up with hatred the root of spiritual self-love… they will be so pleasing to Me… that I will manifest Myself to them…. My charity is manifested in two ways; first, in general, to ordinary people. The second mode of manifestation… is peculiar to those who have become My friends…. When I reveal Myself to her it makes itself felt in the very depths of the soul, by which such souls taste, know, prove and feel it”.
God consoles. Yes, this servant is confused by the knowledge of my imperfection despite my love of virtue, and oh yes—I am digging with hatred the root of spiritual self-love…. Yet He promises to reveal Himself to me: “to those who have become My friends…. When I reveal Myself to her it makes itself felt in the very depths of the soul, by which such souls taste, know, prove and feel it.”
Certainly it is this root of spiritual self-love, self-indulgence or vanity on the sensual level, that trips us up and makes us fall. I have crawled back into my little inner cloister of FIAT humbled and grateful to my Consoler. I continue to pray Conchita’s prayer because this love of virtue is the greatest desire of my heart. The more fiery my desire for virtue, the greater the hatred with which I will attack the root of spiritual self-love. I have my five stones which served David well against Goliath: humility, purity, simplicity, trust, and courage—and they will also serve me well.
In our Love Crucified Community, Jesus tells us, “Suffer all with Me, no longer two, but one, in My sacrifice of Love.” In an earlier post, “The Kiss of Jesus,” I commented, “The Cross is the bridal chamber where union takes place in the intimacy of suffering.” I continue to come back to that reflection, that it is in suffering WITH Christ that we enter intimacy.
It is not enough that we “offer it up”—this offering I learned as a child from my mother. No, to suffer with is intimate. To offer up is to stand outside, independent, separate. Love Crucified teaches us:
“…unless we touch His wounds, love remains an idea in our minds with no power to heal our hearts. By touching His wounds, we touch His love, the love by which He laid down His life for us. We touch Christ’s wounds by uniting our sufferings with His.
“This condition exists because only through our own sufferings are we able to come personally to touch the sufferings of Christ.…Because when we touch Jesus’ sufferings, we touch Love itself.
“For example, if we never suffer the pain of rejection, we can never come to know and experience the rejection that Jesus suffered.
“This is the necessary process to union with God. St. Paul tells us there is a condition for us to be “children of God” and “fellow heirs with Christ”: “provided we suffer with Him” (Rom 8:12-17) (The Simple Path, p. 86-87).
How long has it taken me to learn this: only through my own sufferings can I experience the sufferings of Christ. If I dodge, distract myself, or complain, I dodge, distract myself from Christ who is Love Crucified. Or another way of putting it: Through my wounds I enter the wounds of Christ.
This week I watched THE SEVENTH CHAMBER, the life of Edith Stein, canonized by Pope John Paul in 1998. She has been on my heart all week. The brilliant child of a Jewish family in Germany, she became a professor of philosophy, a skeptic of religion. But when she read St. Teresa of Avila’s INTERIOR MANSIONS, her conclusion was, “This is the truth.” St. Teresa led her to conversion, to the Catholic Church. After persecutions began under the Nazis, she entered Carmel to become Sister Teresa Benedetta of the Cross—not to dodge persecution, but because she wanted an intimate relationship with Christ.
Her sufferings were great, as she endured betrayal of professional friends and the agonized refusal of her family, especially her mother, to accept her conversion to Catholicism or her vocation to the Carmelites. Even the order itself wondered if she had chosen Carmel as a refuge from persecution. But Edith had realized finally that religion was not a set of moral directives but a Person. Her joy in her suffering was in this extraordinary relationship as she learned intimacy through what she suffered.
Counseled to leave the country, she finally went to Carmel in Holland, where the Nazis intruded to extricate her and her sister, Rosa, to Auschwitz. As her superior wept, Sister Teresa Benedetta comforted her with these words—not to be concerned because, “I have finally accepted my destiny.”
One of the greatest sufferings endured by St. Teresa Benedetta was the crushing oppression of her people by Hitler whom she viewed as a satan. What she meant by “I have finally accepted my destiny” is that she would embrace all suffering, one with her people, one with her Christ.
This word destiny recalled to me a reflection which I wrote on Romano Guardini’s article “Acceptance”:
“Destiny is not an accident. It possesses a logical consistency which is determined externally by the connection of events but also internally by the nature and character of the person involved .” Finally, acceptance of self means that I consent simply to be. Here is the rub: “I did not confront the possibility of my own existence and decide that I wished to be, but I was cast into being. I came forth from the lives of my parents, of my ancestors, out of the condition of the age.”
This “age” I remarked, “ is filled with the effects of unredeemed original sin…complicated by repeated, serious, unrepented personal sin.”
How is destiny fair? It is not, nor can it be; not for us, not for Edith Stein. But Romano Guardini reminds us:
“Through the Incarnation, He stepped into the space which forms a single chain of destiny for him who lives in it. God stepped into history. When the eternal Son became man, He did so in reality, without protection or exception, vulnerable by word and act; woven, like us, into the stifling web of effects that proceed from the confused hearts of men….He does this prepared for all that would happen to Him, without reservation, without evasion, without resorting to resistance or craft. Men, who have really no power over Him to whom is given ‘all power in Heaven and on earth,’ inflict a bitter destiny upon Him. But this is the form of His Father’s will for Him. This will is His own will; to accomplish it is the ‘food’ of His life.”
Sister Teresa Benedetta of the Cross told her superior, “I have finally accepted my destiny.” THIS is the destiny which she accepted, cast as she was into her unique place in history, among her people, in her family—the sweet destiny of suffering with Christ. For her, the Cross is the bridal chamber where union takes place in the intimacy of suffering.
Before she is sent to Auschwitz, she is explaining the seven chambers of St. Teresa of Avila’s INTERIOR MANSIONS to another sister. After revealing the meaning of the first six chambers, the sister asks her, “and what of the seventh?” The saint replies, “I have not yet entered the seventh chamber.”
Full union with Love Crucified would come with the saint’s embrace of all the sufferings that went with the gas chamber of Auschwitz, for her—the seventh chamber of Union. This suffering consisted not only of her personal physical distress and that of her sister Rosa, but also included her sufferings for the people around her, the Jewish men, women, and children who were also ravaged by Nazi oppression.
As I reflected on this precious saint, I realized once again that my unique sufferings are the key to the unique intimacy, Union, holiness, which God has chosen for me personally. To enter holiness is not to enter a state of being so much as to accept my destiny, God’s Will, the Cross. Holiness is to embrace a Person, Christ, Love Crucified, through the intimacy of suffering.
One of my regular spiritual practices is frequent spiritual communions. Through the last two years, I have often reflected on the practice, constantly struggling to enter more deeply, to keep my prayer spontaneous and fresh. Then today, I revisited New & Divine, St. Theresa’s “To live in One Single Act of Perfect Love”—as I pray with each chime of my clock all through the day, it seems that this truly is what I seek.
Hugh Owens explains on p. 83: “…the love of God is not a series of acts but a single successionless act in which a soul can actually abide through perfect abandonment.
“Thus on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, 1895, St. Therese performed the most important act of her life, her ‘great offering.’ She wrote:
‘In order to live in one single act of perfect love, I offer myself as a victim or holocaust to your merciful love, asking You to consume me incessantly, allowing the waves of infinite tenderness shut up within You to overflow into my soul, and that thus I may become a martyr of Your Love, O my God.’”
What a tender, extraordinary prayer of the heart! Yet what most struck me is the central short phrase: “Consume me incessantly.” This should be the constant prayer of our hearts—this act of spiritual communion.
In Sept. 2015 I read in The Simple Path to Union with God: “Advice from St. Cajetan: ‘Do not receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament to use Him as you judge best, but give yourself to Him and let Him receive you in this Sacrament, so that He Himself, God your Savior, may do to you and through you whatever He wills.’”
Recognizing something new in this phrase “let Him receive you,” I realized that Communion works both ways: I consume Jesus and Jesus consumes me. I am communion, bread for Jesus. Together, we are communion, bread for the Father.
I was reminded of a letter to the Romans by St. Ignatius of Antioch; so rich is this word of one of the earliest bishops and martyrs of the church that I repeat it in its entirety here:
A letter to the Romans by St. Ignatius of Antioch (c.35-108 A.D.):
“I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by the teeth of wild animals. I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God. No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire.
“The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. Do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God. If you have him in your heart, you will understand what I wish. You will sympathize with me because you will know what urges me on.
“The prince of this world is determined to lay hold of me and to undermine my will which is intent on God. Let none of you here help him; instead show yourselves on my side, which is also God’s side. Do not talk about Jesus Christ as long as you love this world. Do not harbor envious thoughts. And supposing I should see you, if then I should beg you to intervene on my behalf, do not believe what I say. Believe instead what I am now writing to you. For though I am alive as I write to you – still – my real desire is to die. My love of this life has been crucified, and there is no yearning in me for any earthly thing. Rather within me is the living water which says deep inside me: “Come to the Father.” I no longer take pleasure in perishable food or in the delights of this world. I want only God’s bread, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, formed of the seed of David, and for drink I crave his blood, which is love that cannot perish.
“I am no longer willing to live a merely human life, and you can bring about my wish if you will. Please, then, do me this favour, so that you in turn may meet with equal kindness. Put briefly, this is my request: believe what I am saying to you. Jesus Christ himself will make it clear to you that I am saying the truth. Only truth can come from that mouth by which the Father has truly spoken. Pray for me that I may obtain my desire. I have not written to you as a mere man would, but as one who knows the mind of God. If I am condemned to suffer, I will take it that you wish me well. If my case is postponed, I can only think that you wish me harm.”
Who or what are the lions in our simple, ordinary lives? Let us realize that we, too, are ground by the teeth of the beasts in our humble way, to be the bread of God.
How humbled and privileged should we be to long for this communion, to be consumed and to consume. I remember the words of Jesus. When He said, “Eat my body,” he used the Aramaic word for chew. We should pray: “As I receive you, my Jesus, receive me into Your Body, Your Sacred Heart. Chew me up, swallow me entirely, consume me completely, Your little victim of love. My love has been crucified, and there is no yearning in me for any earthly thing. Rather within me is the living water which says deep inside me: “Come to the Father.”
Like St. Theresa, may I live as the perfect living holocaust, live in love, not through a series of acts but in a single successionless act, abiding in holy abandonment, crying, “Consume me incessantly!”
Recently I was deeply touched by a virtual interview conducted with Padre Pio by his spiritual daughter, Cleonice Morcaldi. She asked him questions and carefully wrote down his answers about his experience of the Holy Mass, especially on his experience of the passion of Christ during the Holy Sacrifice. I pray that every priest sees this remarkable document, printed as an article on this blog: http://www.michaeljournal.org/articles/roman-catholic-church/item/the-holy-mass-of-saint-padre-pio. I print the entire article here for you.
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THE MASS OF PADRE PIO
At every Mass, he relived the Passion of Our Lord
Why the Mass of Padre Pio?
God reveals his greatness through the saints. Thus, we came to know the poverty of Jesus seeing the example of Saint Francis of Assisi; the humility of Jesus in the person of Saint Martin of Porres; the sweetness and meekness of the Lord in the example of Saint Francis of Sales and therefore all the saints show us something of the greatness of God.
In the last century, Padre Pio confirmed with his life something of the greatness of the mystery of Christ Crucified. Furthermore, in the manner of many other saints, like St. Philippe Neri, the holy Cure of Ars, and St. Joseph Calfasso, he had the gift of discernment of souls to help them repent. But until then, such a profound testimony about “what happens” during the celebration of the Eucharistic mystery was unknown. We all know that the Holy Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross that is renewed in every Mass, every day. But do we realize what that means? Do we repeat it as an abstract definition of Mass? That is why the example of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina is so edifying, he who shows us that the Mass is a reality in an active and profound way.
If we want to know what really happens during the Mass, let us remember the testimony of St. Padre Pio: through him, Christ is again giving Himself up to death for us.
The Celebration of the Holy Mass
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina shows himself to us as a witness of the supernatural in a special way in the celebration of the Eucharistic Mystery.
Padre Pio really lived the mysteries that he celebrated on the altar in his own flesh and soul. The Mass is the bloodless renewal of the Sacrifice of Christ. The Mass is at the same time the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, the memorial of the sacrifice offered at the Cross and “real propitiatory sacrifice to mitigate God and make Him favorable to us.” This vivid experience of the Mass, sacrifice of Christ, was that of Padre Pio during his 58 years of priesthood. And he, whom God marked with the visible signs of His Passion, celebrated Mass experiencing similar pain — but not the same — as that which Jesus had on the Cross.
Cleonice Morcaldi, one of the spiritual daughters of Padre Pio, asked him several times what he felt and lived in each of his Masses. She wrote carefully each of his answers and thanks to her, we have a unique testimony from the Father himself about his Mass.
– Father, what is your Mass?
– A sacred accomplishment of the Passion of Jesus.
– What should I comprehend in your Holy Mass?
– All of Calvary.
– Father, tell me all that you suffer at the Holy Mass.
– Father, how could we know about your passion?
– In knowing the Passion of Jesus, you will also know mine.
– Do you have the agony of death, Father, like Jesus in the Garden?
– Does the angel also come to comfort you?
– What FIAT do you say?
– The one of suffering, and always to suffer for the brothers in exile and for His Divine Kingdom.
– You also said…”and they will shout: Crucify him, crucify him!” Who will shout?
– The children of men… more precisely the beneficiaries of His death.
– How was Jesus after being scourged?
– The prophet says: “He became as a whole sore. He became like a leper”
– So, you also are like a sore from head to foot?
[St. Padre Pio’s pajama that shows the marks of blood, caused by the sufferings of the scourging of Our Lord.]
|– My God, this is too much! You are, dear Father, too much! You are, dear Father, a real executioner of yourself!|
– Do not be afraid. On the contrary rejoice in it. I do not want the suffering in itself, no, but the fruits it gives me. It praises God and saves our brothers. What else could I wish for?
– Father. When at night you are scourged, are you alone or does somebody assist you.
– The Holy Virgin assists me, all of Paradise is present.
– Jesus has made me feel that you suffer the crown of thorns.
– Otherwise the immolation would not be complete.
– What sins did Jesus pay for with the crowning of thorns?
– For all, especially those regarding thoughts, not excluding the vain and useless ones.
– Father, do you have the thorns on your forehead or around your head?
– Around the whole head.
– Father, how many thorns does your crown have…Thirty?
– Father, I think that your crown does not have 30, but 300 thorns.
– You get impressed because of a zero! Anyway, is not thirty contained in three hundred?
– Father, is it true that you suffer the torment of the crowning of thorns during the Holy Mass?
– And you doubt it?
– And also before and after it. The crown is never taken away.
[St.Padre Pio, Mystic, Confessor and Stigmatic. He said: “Pray hope and do not worry. Worries are useless. God is merciful and will listen to your prayer.”]
|– Father, do you also suffer what Jesus suffered during the Way of the Cross?|
– Father, do you also suffer what Jesus suffered during the Way of the Cross?
– Yes. But I wish to do so, in order to arrive at the point of suffering to which the Divine Master arrived.
– Who are your Simon of Cyrene and Veronica?
– Jesus Himself.
– Father, at the Divine Sacrifice, do you take our iniquities on yourself?
– It is impossible to do it differently, as it is part of the Divine Sacrifice.
– So, does the Lord consider you a sinner?
– I do not know. But I am afraid to be so.
– I have seen you trembling when going up the stairs to the altar. Why? Was it because of what you were going to suffer?
– No, not because of what I am supposed to suffer, but because of what I should offer.
–During the celebration of the Holy Mass.
– Father, do you also suffer during the day what Jesus allows you to suffer during the Holy Mass?
– I would not feel well! How could I work? How could I do my ministry?
– At which part of the Divine Sacrifice do you suffer the most?
– From the Consecration to the Communion.
– At which moment of the Mass do you suffer the scourging?
– From the beginning to the end, but more intensely after the Consecration.
– Father, why do you almost always cry when you read the Gospel in the Holy Mass?
– And do you find it little thing that a God talks to His creatures, and they react against Him? That he is injured constantly by their ingratitude and incredulity?
Eucharistic liturgy and concluding ceremonies
The second part of the Mass finds in Padre Pio a liturgist of high class.
Through this singular minister, the Crucified Christ of Golgotha can make happen again the actual, visible and physical incommensurable tragedy of Calvary in a way that a creature is able to do so who is made an efficacious sign of Christ.
In the history of the Sacramental Sign, the stigmatic of Gargano is the only minister, up to this moment, whose flesh also has revealed the Crucified of Golgotha in such a way. In all the centuries in the history of the Church there is no similar case.
– Father, is your Mass a bloody Sacrifice?
– No. What I want to say that is that the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Jesus is bloodless but your participation in the Passion is bloody. Am I wrong?
– Well… now you are right. Taking it as a personal matter, you might be right.
– Who washes off his own blood during the Mass?
The Father, with his face full of tears, used to remain immobile, as if transfixed by a mysterious force, his eyes affectionately resting on the crucifix at the altar. He remained still for some minutes, holding the bread and wine in his hands.
– Why do you weep over the offertory?
– Do you want to worm the secret out of me? Well then, it’s the moment when the soul becomes detached from all that is profane.
The Lord used to pull his servant apart to such an extent that it caused him to be insensitive to every profane distraction that occurred.
– Father, the people make noises during the Mass…
– Well, if you would have been at the Calvary, where you heard screams, blasphemies, loud clamor, and threats… that was really an uproar.
– Do you not become distracted because of noises at the church?
– No, absolutely not.
This did not mean that Padre Pio was completely detached from those who were around him participating at the Mass. The total and intimate union with God that Padre Pio had, the moment that his soul was separated from all that was profane, gave to Padre Pio the superhuman possibility of feeling each soul, one by one; all that surrounded the altar.
– Father, are all the souls that attend to your Holy Mass present in your spirit?
– I see all my children who come to the altar, as if in a mirror.
Padre Pio used to lie down on the Cross of Jesus to consummate the Divine Sacrifice, while carrying all of his children in his heart. The love with which he disposed himself to be immolated was reflected on Padre Pio’s trembling face.
The stigmatic from Gargano, amidst tears and sobs, suffering indescribable torment, actualized the Divine Tragedy of Calvary during the Consecration in such a vivid way that the atrocious torment of Jesus Crucified was translucent in his grievously wounded flesh.
– Father, why do you suffer so much at the Consecration?
– You are too cruel!
With these words Padre Pio eluded the answer. A new attack was foreseeable.
– Father, why you suffer so much during the Consecration?
– Because it is at that very moment when a new, awesome and wonderful annihilation and creation happens.
In a brief and concise phrase Padre Pio now says something else. The most exceptional miracle of the Eucharistic conversion is affirmed with assertive clarity. But he says nothing about his sufferings at the altar in the moment of transubstantiation. Padre Pio hides his intimate and secret participation to the new and admirable destruction and creation from view.
It was not only an evasive answer, because he meant to say many things. The query had not been replied to, and so it was necessary to wait for the propitious occasion to reiterate the question to obtain a more complete answer.
– Why do you suffer so much during the Consecration?
– Revealing the secrets of the Supreme King is desecrating them. You ask me why I suffer. I would like to shed not a few tears but abundant tears. Are you not conscious of the tremendous mystery? God, Victim of our sins! And we are His executioners!
The awesome mystery of the Consecration contains the last hours that Christ spent on the Cross. The crucified of Gargano now relives at the altar, one after the other, each of the last moments of the Crucified of Golgotha. Let us keep in mind what the Gospel says about Jesus. Especially at the introduction of the Crucifixion.
– Father, do you suffer the bitterness of gall?
– Yes, very often.
After tasting the gall the most patient son of Saint Francis speaks of his crucifixion at the altar.
– Father, how do you remain upright at the altar?
– The way Jesus used to hold himself on the Cross.
– Do you mean that you are at the altar hanging from the Cross, the way Jesus did at Calvary?
– And you ask me?
– How can you keep yourself upright?
– The way Jesus kept Himself upright at Calvary.
Regarding the Crucifixion he is asked:
– Did the executioners turn the Cross around to clinch the nails?
– Do they also clinch the nails for you?
– I think so!
– Do they also turn around your cross?
– Yes, but do not be afraid.
The Divine Master, sitting as King on the Divine Throne of His Cross pronounced His last words as a solemn testament of His Merciful Love for us, under the presence of Heaven and Earth.
– Father, do you also speak during Holy Mass the “seven words” that Jesus stated on the Cross?
– Yes, although unworthily, I also speak them.
– And to whom do you say: Woman, there is your Son?
– I tell her: Here are the children of your Son.
– Do you suffer the thirst and rejection Jesus suffered?
– When do you experience thirst and rejection?
– After the Consecration.
– Until when do you suffer thirst and rejection?
– Normally up to the Communion.
– Did the Crucified Jesus have His innermost Being consummated?
– You should rather say burnt.
– For what did the Crucified Jesus thirst?
– For God’s Kingdom.
Padre Pio’s soul burned with the same thirst. Those were extremely dry hours.
Padre Pios`s burning heart did not receive even a drop of consolation.
– You told me you were ashamed of pronouncing this phrase: “I looked for someone to comfort me, but found none.” Why?
– Because our suffering is insignificant compared to the real suffering Jesus experienced.
– In front of whom do you feel ashamed?
– In front of God and in front of my conscience.
– Don’t the angels of God console you at the altar where you immolate yourself?
– Well, I do not feel them.
– If your spirit does not receive any comfort during the Divine Sacrifice and if you suffer the complete abandonment as Jesus did, then our presence there is useless.
– The usefulness is for you. If it were the way you say, it could be said that the presence of the Sorrowful Virgin, St. John and the pious women close to the feet of the dying Jesus was useless.
The loving heart torn by the sight of such cruel abandonment, would have liked not to remain passive, but to share such atrocious pain.
– Father, why do not share with us a bit of your Passion?
– The Spouse’s pledge is not given to anybody.
– Tell me what could I do to alleviate your Calvary?
– Alleviate? …say rather to make it harder. We must suffer!
– It is painful to attend your martyrdom being unable to help you!
– Also the Sorrowful Mother attended. There is no doubt that it was a consolation for our Divine Master to have His Mother who, instead of being indifferent, accompanied Him in His pain.
– What did the Virgin do at the feet of the Crucified Jesus?
– She suffered watching her Son suffer. She offered to the Eternal Father her pain and the sufferings of Jesus for our salvation.
It is not surprising that suffering such martyrdom, through becoming completely in possession of the victim, to find more pleasure, concentrates on two highly significant points in the person of Padre Pio.
– On posing this question I am not compelled by curiosity. Which one is the wound that hurts the most?
– The head and the heart.
Communion was the summit of Padre Pio`s Mass, the supreme moment of Jesus` Passion.
Bent towards the altar, holding the chalice in his hands tightly and with the Lord in his heart, the seraphim of Pietricina, completely enraptured, remained for a long time with Jesus, without being conscious of the time.
The Father was asked:
– What is the Sacred Communion?
– It is interior and exterior Mercy. A total Embrace. Do not stop begging Jesus to make Himself sensibly noticed.
– Where does Jesus kiss you?
– He kisses me all over.
– When Jesus comes, does he visit only the soul?
– The entire being.
– What does Jesus do at Communion?
– He delights in His creatures.
– Is Communion an incorporation?
– It is a fusion. Like two candles that fuse together and cannot be distinguished one from the other.
– When you join Jesus in Holy Communion, what should we request the Lord for you?
– To let me be another Jesus, all Jesus, always Jesus.
– You gave me to understand that though the Sacred Species are not consumed in you, through your veins flow the blood of Jesus. Are you a living monstrance?
– You say so!
Jesus, while visiting the entire being of Padre Pio, in fusing with Him in such a wonderful way, He allowed the crucified of Gargano to savor with delight the mystery of His Death, (in the same way He delighted at Calvary, when He sealed the Sacrifice offered to the Eternal Father).
In between accents of great fondness and affectionate love and sorrow, Padre Pio consumed within himself Jesus` sacrifice as well.
– Father, why do you cry when you receive Holy Communion?
– If the Church, when referring to the Incarnation, exclaims: “You did not disdain the bosom of the Virgin.” What can we say about ourselves, we as miserable…!
– Do you also suffer during Communion?
– It is the culminating point.
– Do your sufferings continue after Communion?
– Yes, but they are sufferings of love.
– In this union, aren’t you consoled by Jesus?
– Yes, but without leaving the Cross! In that supreme instant a last glance is given.
– Where did the dying Jesus look in His last gaze?
– Towards His Holy Mother.
– And you, where do you turn to?
– Towards my exiled brothers.
“And bowing His head, He gave up His Spirit,” writes Saint John about the death of Jesus. It could not have happened otherwise to the crucified of Gargano when he was at the altar.
– Do you also die at the Holy Mass?
– Mystically, at Holy Communion.
– What produces this death in you, is this vehemence for love or for pain?
– Both, but especially for love.
– If you die during Holy Communion, do you stop being at the altar?
– Why? Jesus remained at Calvary when He was dead.
– Father, you told me that at Communion the victim dies. Are you placed in the arms of the Virgin?
– In the arms of Saint Francis.
A pious heart considered the idea that the Sweet Jesus has finally found a soul where to rest with pleasure. This very humble son of St. Francis did not have the same opinion.
– Father, does Jesus take His arms off the Cross to rest on you?
– It is me who rests on Him.
– How much do you love Jesus?
– My desire of loving Him is infinite! But in practice… Poor me! I would be at zero and I am ashamed.
– How will our meeting with Jesus in Heaven be?
– Oh!… The Eucharistic could give us an idea.
Such was Padre Pio`s Mass, and not only men attended it:
– Does the Most Blessed Virgin Mary attend your Mass?
– Do you think the Mother is not interested in Her Son?
– Do angels attend your Mass?
– In legions!
– What do they do?
– Adore and praise.
– Father, who is closest to your altar?
– All of Paradise.
The Holy Mass was over, but in the heart of the stigmatic from Gargano the desire for a continued crucifixion at the altar was not extinguished.
– Would you like to celebrate more than one Mass a day?
– If it depended on me I would never leave the altar.
As the exceptional liturgist could not always stay crucified to the altar, he converted his own person into an altar, trying to make the Passion of Christ always visible.
– You told me you carried the altar with you…
– Yes, to accomplish what the Apostle said: “Taking with me the mortification of Jesus, I am nailed to the Cross”, I punish my body and I convert it into a slave.
– So, I am right when saying that Jesus Crucified walks among us! You suffer continually the whole Passion of Jesus!
– Yes, due to His Goodness and Mercy, as much as a human creature is able to.
– How can you work with so much pain?
– I find my rest on the Cross.
Padre Pio asked God: “Make an altar out of me for your Cross” and his pleading was heard, maybe because this request was never before formulated so sincerely and with so much love.
The altar built by the Divine Artist was beautiful, yes, very beautiful… We have not been seen it’s equal in two centuries of Christianity. Doubtless it was the best ever created.
Jesus was captivated by it, the first one that reproduced His Calvary with such fidelity.
In His delight the Stigmatic from Calvary did not want to raise His Cross in that altar. With joy He put Padre Pio there, crucified in His image. Let us meditate now.
– A Mass! Ask an angel — states Padre Pio — what a Mass is and he will answer: I understand what it is and why it is celebrated, but I cannot understand all the value it has. One angel, one thousand angels, all of Paradise thinks the same. And you, you who receive the benefits from it, you do not want to meditate on it?
– When you go to Mass, continues Padre Pio, concentrate to the maximum on the great mystery being celebrated in your presence: “The redemption of your soul and the reconciliation with God.”
– Father, does the Lord love the Sacrifice?
– Yes, because with It He has regenerated the world.
– How much glory to God does the Mass give?
– An infinite glory.
– What should we do during the Mass?
– Be compassionate and love.
– Father, how are we supposed to listen to the Mass?
– The way the Blessed Virgin and pious women attended to the tragedy of Calvary. The same way John attended the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the bloody Sacrifice of the Cross.
– What kind of fruits do we receive when we hear the Mass?
– They cannot be enumerated. You will know it only in Paradise.
In the new Heaven and the new Earth that John announced for the end of time, the Holy City will once again be a New Jerusalem, which will descend from heaven, adorned as a wife dressed for her husband. It is the new tabernacle of God among men. God will live amidst His people. The mystic of Patmos also says that the New Jerusalem does not need neither sun nor moon, because it is illuminated by the glory of God. The elected souls who will enjoy that light will have the name of the Lamb engraved on their forehead.
– Father, in Paradise shall we contemplate you crucified?
– For your greater glory.
Before St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila or any other number of mystic theologians celebrated by the Catholic Church, St. Albert the Great, c. 1200-1280, blessed us with his mystical theology. Although the little classic work, “On Cleaving to God,” is attributed to him, modern scholars have discovered implicit references in the work which reveal the thoughts of contemplatives who lived well after him, at least up to the 15th century. For me, however, it is always St. Albert the Great whom I cherish, especially for this one line to which I return again and again: “Simplify your heart with all care.”
With gratitude to him, and with the hope that you may also enjoy his wisdom, I have decided to compile this little treasury, especially for those struggling for Union through contemplative prayer. His entire work, “On Cleaving to God,” only about 28 pages, is easily readable; find it here: https://www.ccel.org/ccel/albert/cleaving.html
I love the way the paragraphs in the Catechism and in the Diary of St. Faustina are numbered; so for your convenience, I will do the same here. To begin, a short description. Born in Bavaria, a contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas, he is one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages. Becoming a Dominican 1223-1229, he is honored today as one of the 36 doctors of the Church.
Some general notes about St.Albert’s constant insistence on “nakedness.” From the beginning he is trying to teach us not to rely on any images, fantasies, constructs of the mind or of the imagination—to have nothing between the soul and the Godhead, to put everything behind us. He would bid us go “naked,” in “full and complete abstraction”—taking ourselves out of the world of the senses and the imagination.
By “images” he is referring primarily to the constructs of the imagination, but also to constructs of the mind: the words, phrases, and such on which we rely. Contemplation would take us beyond mental prayer if we would abandon ourselves to it as he recommends.
In his illustration of the Ascent of Mt. Carmel, St. John of the Cross wrote: “Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing on the way; and nothing on the Mountain.” Rev. M.M. Philipon tells us in his book, The Spiritual Doctrine of Sister Elizabeth: “Like her master, St. John of the Cross, Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity was ruthless in this respect. ‘We must extinguish every other light,’ and attain to God by nakedness of spirit, and not by building a learned structure of beautiful thoughts” [Doctrine 40].
TREASURY – [Note: Italics and bold print are mine. The reading is generally not continuous, but is comprised of selected passages.]
1 – Chapter 1
On the highest and supreme perfection of man, in so far as it is possible in this life
I [St. Albert is speaking here] have had the idea of writing something for myself on and about the state of complete and full abstraction from everything and of cleaving freely, confidently, nakedly and firmly to God alone, so as to describe it fully (in so far as it is possible in this abode of exile and pilgrimage), especially since the goal of Christian perfection is the love by which we cleave to God.
2 – Since indeed the Lord God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth, in other words, by knowledge and love, that is, understanding and desire, stripped of all images. This is what is referred to in Matthew 6.6, ‘When you pray, enter into your inner chamber,’ that is, your inner heart, ‘and having closed the door,’ that is of your senses, and there with a pure heart and a clear conscience, and with faith unfeigned, ‘pray to your Father,’ in spirit and in truth, ‘in secret.’ This can be done best when a man is disengaged and removed from everything else, and completely recollected within himself.
3 – There, in the presence of Jesus Christ, with everything, in general and individually, excluded and wiped out, the mind alone turns in security confidently to the Lord its God with its desire. In this way it pours itself forth into him in full sincerity with its whole heart and the yearning of its love, in the most inward part of all its faculties, and is plunged, enlarged, set on fire and dissolved into him.
4 – Chapter 2
How one can cling to and seek Christ alone, disdaining everything else
Then he should withdraw himself totally within himself and not pay any attention to any object entering the mind except Jesus Christ, the wounded one, alone, and so he should turn his attention with care and determination through him into him – that is, through the man into God, through the wounds of his humanity into the inmost reality of his divinity. Here he can commit himself and all that he has, individually and as a whole, promptly, securely and without discussion, to God’s unwearying providence, in accordance with the words of Peter, cast all your care upon him (1 Peter 5.7)….
5 – Chapter 3
What the perfection of man consist of in this life
For the true pattern of the soul is God, with whom it must be imprinted, like wax with a seal, and carry the mark of his impress. But this can never be complete until the intellect is perfectly illuminated, according to its capacity, with the knowledge of God, who is perfect truth, until the will is perfectly focused on the love of the perfect good, and until the memory is fully absorbed in turning to and enjoying eternal happiness, and in gladly and contentedly resting in it.
6 – Chapter 4
How man’s activity should be purely in the intellect and not in the senses
So eliminate from your mind all fantasies, objects, images and shapes of all things other than God, so that, with just naked understanding, intent and will, your practice will be concerned with God himself within you. For this is the end of all spiritual exercises – to turn the mind to the Lord God and rest in him with a completely pure understanding and a completely devoted will, without the entanglements and fantasies of the imagination.
7 – [The Devil] is always trying to draw man’s mind away from the Lord God, now by temptations or passions, now by superfluous worries and pointless cares, now by restlessness and distracting conversation and senseless curiosity, now by the study of subtle books, irrelevant discussion, gossip and news, now by hardships, now by opposition, etc. Such matters may seem trivial enough and hardly sinful, but they are a great hindrance to this holy exercise and practice.
8 – For when constructs of the imagination are not allowed to enter the memory and mind, a man is not hindered, whether he be engaged in prayer, meditation, or reciting psalms, or in any other practice or spiritual exercise, nor will they recur again.
9– So render your imagination bare of the images of all physical things as is appropriate to your state and profession, so that you can cling to him with a bare and undivided mind, as you have so often and so completely vowed to do, without anything whatever being able to come between your soul and him, so that you can pass purely and unwaveringly from the wounds of his humanity into the light of his divinity.
10 – Chapter 5
On purity of heart which is to be sought above all things
… earnestly apply your mind to seek constant purity of heart, clarity of mind and calm of the senses. Gather up your heart’s desire and fix it continually on the Lord God above.
11 – Grasp every opportunity when you can find the place, time and means to devote yourself to silence and contemplation, and gathering the secret fruits of silence, so that you can escape the shipwreck of this present age and avoid the restless agitation of the noisy world.
12 – … you should with all care, intelligence and effort free your heart, senses and desires from everything that can hinder their liberty, and above all from everything in the world that could possibly bind and overcome you.
13 – So struggle in this way to draw together all the distractions of your heart and desires of your mind into one true, simple and supreme good, to keep them gathered within yourself in one place, and by this means to remain always joined to things divine and to God in your mind, to abandon the unreliable things of earth, and be able to translate your mind continually to the things above within yourself in Jesus Christ.
14 – … simplify and still your heart and mind in the Lord God….
15 – . So simplify your heart with all care, diligence and effort so that still and at peace from the products of the imagination you can turn round and remain always in the Lord within yourself, as if your mind were already in the now of eternity, that is of the Godhead.
16 – In this way you will be able to renounce yourself through love of Jesus Christ, with a pure heart, clean conscience and unfeigned faith, and commit yourself completely and fully to God in all difficulties and eventualities, and be willing to submit yourself patiently to his will and good pleasure at all times.
17 – For this to come about you must repeatedly retreat into your heart and remain there, keeping yourself free from everything, so far as is possible. You must always keep the eye of your mind clear and still. You must guard your understanding from daydreams and thoughts of earthly things. You must completely free the inclination of your will from worldly cares and cling with all your being to the supreme true good with fervent love.
18 – … your whole mind gathered up with all its powers and faculties in God, may become one spirit with him….
19 – Chapter 6
That the devout man should cleave to God with naked understanding and will
…for it is his delight to be with the sons of men, that is those who, at peace from such activities, distractions and passions, seek him with a pure and simple mind, empty themselves for him, and cleave to him.
20 – …the Holy Spirit withholds itself from thoughts bereft of understanding. So the true lover of Jesus Christ should be so united through good will in his understanding with the divine will and goodness, and be so bare of all imaginations and passions that he does not even notice whether he is being mocked or loved, or something is being done to him. For a good will turns everything to good and is above everything.
21 – …even if the inner man is slow to feel devotion, [he] should simply cleave to God with faith and good will in naked understanding.
22 – … you must strip your heart of all love of things of the senses, not just of certain creatures, so that you can turn to the Lord your God with a simple and whole heart and with all your power, freely and without any double-mindedness, care or anxiety, but with full confidence in his providence alone about everything.
23 – Chapter 7
How the heart should be gathered within itself
So let us withdraw our hearts from the distractions of this world, and recall them to the inner joys, so that we can establish them to some degree in the light of divine contemplation. For this is the life and peace of our hearts – to be established by intent in the love of God, and to be sweetly remade by his comforting.
24 – …the human mind is so distracted by worries that it cannot bring its memory to turn within, is so clouded by its imaginations that it cannot return to itself with its understanding, and is so drawn away by its desires that it is quite unable to come back to itself by desire for inner sweetness and spiritual joy. Thus it is so prostrate among the sense objects presented to it that it cannot enter into itself as the image of God.
25 – [The soul should say to itself:]
He whom I seek, love, thirst for and desire from everything and more than anything is not a thing of the senses or the imagination, but is above everything that can be experienced by the senses and the intellect. He cannot be experienced by any of the senses, but is completely desirable to my will. He is moreover not discernable, but is perfectly desirable to my inner affections. He cannot be comprehended, but can be loved in his fullness with a pure heart, for he is above all lovable and desirable, and of infinite goodness and perfection. [This section and several others following it echo the thoughts and sentiments of THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING,a mystical classic dated from the late 143th century.]
26 – And then a darkness comes over the mind and it is raised up into itself and penetrates even deeper. And the more inward-looking the desire for it, the more powerful this means of ascent to the mysterious contemplation of the holy Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity in Jesus Christ is, and the more interior the yearning, the more productive it is.
27 – …never give up, never stop until you have tasted some pledge, as I might say, or foretaste of the future full experience, and until you have obtained the satisfaction of however small a first fruits of the divine joy. And do not give up pursuing it and following its scent until you have seen the God of gods in Sion.
28 – If on the other hand our heart and mind can withdraw itself by its desire and love from the infinite distraction below of the things beneath it, can learn to be with itself, abandoning these lower things and gathering itself within itself into the one unchanging and satisfying good, and can hold to it inseparably with its will, it is correspondingly more and more gathered together in one and strengthened, as it is raised up by knowledge and desire.
29 – Chapter 8
How a religious man should commit himself to God in all circumstances whatsoever
…be empty for him and cleave to him. So now in this way ignore your body and all created things, present or future, and direct the high point of your mind and spirit directly, as best you can, naked and unencumbered on the uncreated light.
30 – so when some inner disturbance or boredom or mental confusion come you will not be indignant or dejected because of it, nor run back to vocal prayers or other forms of consolation, but only to lift yourself up in your intellect by a good will to hold on to God with your mind whether the natural inclination of the body wills it or not.
31 – …accept everything confidently and equally, in general and in particular, from the hand of divine providence, agreeing in everything with the Lord in patience, peace and silence. The thing is that the most important thing of all for a spiritual life is to strip the mind of all imaginations so that one can be united in one’s intellect to God by a good will, and conformed to him. Besides, nothing will then be intermediary between you and God.
32 – Chapter 9
How much the contemplation of God is to be preferred to all other exercises
…let all our actual contemplation, life and activity take place in him alone, about him, for him and towards him who is able and capable to produce with a single nod of his will things infinitely more perfect than any that exist now.
33 – He [God] is infinitely satisfying both to himself and to all others, who contains within himself in absolute simplicity and from all eternity the perfection of all things….
34 – Hence when we approach God by the way of negation, we first deny him everything that can be experienced by the body, the senses and the imagination, secondly even things experienceable by the intellect, and finally even being itself in so far as it is found in created things. This, so far as the nature of the way is concerned, is the best means of union with God, according to Dionysius. And this is the cloud in which God is said to dwell, which Moses entered, and through this came to the inaccessible light.
35 – Chapter 10
That one should not be concerned about feeling tangible devotion so much as about cleaving to God with one’s will
Furthermore you should not be much concerned about tangible devotion, the experience of sweetness or tears, but rather that you should be mentally united with God within yourself by a good will in your intellect.
36 – …deny yourself so that you can follow Christ, the Lord your God, in nakedness….
37 – You will experience because of it great grace, helping you towards the acquisition of nakedness of mind and simplicity of heart.
38 – Chapter 11
How one should resist temptations and bear trials
The servant of Jesus Christ must see to it that he is not so easily forced to withdraw from the face of the Lord and to be annoyed, murmur and complain over the nuisance of a single fly, that is, a trivial temptation, suspicion, sadness, distraction, need or any such adversity, when they can all be put to flight with no more than the hand of a good will directed up to God.
39 – For if you want what is good, but cannot do it, God will make good the deed. For it is in accordance with this eternal law that God has established with irrevocable firmness that deserts should be a matter of the will, whether in bliss or torment, reward or punishment. Love itself is a great will to serve God, a sweet desire to please God, and a fervent wish to experience God.
40 – Chapter 12
How powerful the love of God is
Now love is such that it cannot rest except in the beloved, but it does when it wins the beloved in full and peaceful possession. For love, which itself is charity, is the way of God to men and the way of man to God. God cannot house where there is no love. So if we have love, we have God, for God is love.
41 – Furthermore, nothing is sharper than love, nothing is more subtle, nothing more penetrating. It will not rest until it has by its very nature penetrated the whole power, the depth and the totality of the loved one. It wants to make itself one with the beloved, and itself, if it were possible, to be what the beloved is too. Thus it cannot bear that anything should stand between itself and the beloved object, which is God, but presses eagerly towards him.
42 – Alternatively, the lover is in the beloved when he is united with him by all his desire and compliance in agreement with the beloved’s willing and not willing, and finds his own pleasure and pain in that of the beloved. For love draws the lover out of himself (since love is strong as death), and establishes him in the beloved, causing him to cleave closely to him.
43 – For the soul is more where it loves than where it lives, since it is in what it loves in accordance with its very nature, understanding and will, while it is in where it lives only with regard to form, which is even true for animals as well.
44 – Chapter 13
The nature and value of prayer, and how the heart should be recollected within itself
…we should beseech him and lay before him with complete confidence the dangers that are besetting us on all sides, completely grief-stricken in ourselves, in humble prostration of mind, in fear and love, and with recollected, composed, mature, true and naked, shamefaced affection, with great yearning and determination, and in groaning of heart and sincerity of mind. Thus we commit and offer ourselves up to him freely, securely and nakedly, fully and in everything that is ours, holding nothing back to ourselves, in such a complete and final way, that the same is fulfilled in us as in our blessed father Isaac, who speaks of this very type of prayer, saying, Then we shall be one in God, and the Lord God will be all in all and alone in us when his own perfect love, with which he first loved us, will have become the disposition of our own hearts too.
45 – This will come about when all our love, all our desire, all our concern, all our efforts, in fact everything we think, everything we see, speak and even hope will be God, and that unity which now is of the Father with the Son, and of the Son with the Father, will be poured into our own heart and mind as well, in such a way that just as he loves us with sincere and indissoluble love we too will be joined to him with eternal and inseparable affection. In other words we shall be united with him in such a way that whatever we hope, and whatever we say or pray will be God.
46 – This, as I say, is the goal of all perfection, that his purified mind should be daily raised up from all bodily objects to spiritual things until all his mental activity and all his heart’s desire become one unbroken prayer.
47 – Chapter 14
That we should seek the verdict of our conscience in every decision
… we should return quietly into the inner secret place of the mind in the face of everything said, thought or done to us.
48 – Above all one should accept everything, in general and individually, in oneself or in others, agreeable or disagreeable, with a prompt and confident spirit, as coming from the hand of his infallible Providence or the order he has arranged. This attitude will lead to the forgiveness of our sins, the deliverance from bitterness, the enjoyment of joy and security, the outpouring of grace and mercy, introduction and establishment into a close relationship with God, abundant enjoyment of his presence, and firm cleaving and union with him.
49 – Chapter 15
How contempt of himself can be produced in a man, and how useful it is
50 – Chapter 16
How God’s Providence includes everything
For so far as the nature of the order of things is concerned, God provides for everything without intermediary right down to the last detail. So nothing, from the greatest to the smallest things, can escape God’s eternal providence, or fall away from it, whether in matters of the will, of causal events, or even of accidental circumstances outside of one’s control.
51 – That is why Bernard says, “God, the maker of everything is so abounding in mercy that whatever size grace cup of faith we are able to hold out to him, we shall undoubtedly have it filled.”
52 – We should remember this, that everything is possible with God, and that what he wishes is bound to take place, while what he does not wish cannot possibly happen, and that it is as easy for him to forgive and cancel countless sins, however enormous, as to do it with a single sin.
53 – So let us commit everything with full assurance, in general and in particular, confidently and unhesitatingly to divine providence, by which God permits however much and whatever sort of evil to happen to us. For it is good and will lead to good, since he permits it to exist, and it would not exist unless he permitted it to exist. Nor could it exist otherwise or more than he permits it to, because he knows how to, has the power to, and wills to change and convert it into something better. For just as it is by operation of providence that all good things exist, so it is by its permission that all bad things are changed into good.
Tomorrow is Feb. 2—the Feast of the Purification, and my memory brought me back to Feb. 2, 1965. I had entered the convent the August before as a postulant. In July 1965, I would become a novice, receiving the full habit, yet with a white rather than a black veil. The year of the postulancy was a year of asking, seeking, probing—did I really desire this life? The Feast of the Purification marked an intensification of this probe, for now I must have purity of intention, having put doubts and other options completely aside.
The occasion would be marked by a little white collar added to the black capes which we wore over our long black dresses and a simple black veil. (Upon entering, we did not yet wear a veil except for a simple white one when we attended chapel.) This white collar symbolized purity of intention.
I wonder today what was in my 18 year old mind then. Sister Lelia began serious teaching about purity of intention at least 2-3 weeks before the feast. It was for us to apply that teaching to our own hearts to be ready for that day.
The term is well known in the spiritual life. Father John Nicholas Grou, S.J. , 1731-1803, devotes an entire section to it in his SPIRITUAL MAXIMS, “Seventh Maxim: Purity of intention, simplicity and uprightness.”
He analyses this “means to devotion” in varied ways:
“What, then, is purity of intention? Purity of intention is having God alone as our object, free from all self-interest.”
“Our self-love endeavours studiously to hide our intentions from ourselves. It does so with a view to its own interests, and succeeds only too well. We deceive ourselves in a multitude of things, and although we do so simply because we want to, it is all so subtle that we are hardly aware of it. There are very few persons who are completely honest with themselves, and self should be the very first thing we mistrust. We must always, therefore, be on our guard against the devices of self-love….”
“If we are to know ourselves really, we must discern the true motive of our actions, and that is not an easy matter, seeing how twisted our nature is, and how blind we are to it. True knowledge of self is very rare.”
“Simplicity is identical with purity of intention.” [http://www.catholictreasury.info/books/spiritual_maxims/mx7.php]
We see that intention is tied to motive, and that in our sinfulness and imperfection, our self-love—to which we are blind—sullies all that we do. Consequently, purity of intention requires an attitude of humility, vigilance, and a continuous struggle for self-knowledge.
Then I remembered this teaching in THE SIMPLE PATH TO UNION WITH GOD, # 148: [Before going into battle with Goliath, David selected five smooth stones.] “You each must also approach the battle with five stones. First, the stone of humility, possessing the perfect knowledge of your nothingness and My power and majesty. Second, the stone of purity, purity of mind, heart, intention, word, desire… Third, simplicity, detached from all, most especially your ego. Fourth, trust, perfectly abandoned to My will. Fifth, courage, courage rooted in love of Me to be perfectly obedient to My commands. These stones are your weapons for battle….” The Simple Path, p.406, http://lovecrucified.com/path/simple_path.html ]
In May 2016, Love Crucified community reflected deeply on community prophecies on the Storm, on the battle, and on our weapons, the five stones. I wrote then:
“The weapons are so rich: the stone of humility emerges from the victim’s struggle for knowledge of self and knowledge of God.
“The stone of purity belongs to the single-hearted, those with purity of intention and desire for God and His Will alone. Reading St. Albert the Great today, I found: “Earnestly apply your mind to seek constant purity of heart, clarity of mind, and calm of the senses. Gather up your heart’s desire and fix it continually on the Lord God above.”
“The third stone of simplicity is the weapon of being One, in Union with Love Crucified, undivided, with a single, intense focus on God, not on self-will.
“Fourth, the stone of trust, perfect abandonment to God in the sacrament of every moment.
“Fifth, the stone of courage comes from the other four stones, in the victim soul’s obedience to the Will of God regardless of consequences.”
As I followed my memories and reflected more deeply, a saying of my beloved St. Albert the Great, c.1193-1280, (and I believe I love him solely for this one line!): “Simplify your heart with all care.” [https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/soul-food-talk-6-simplify-your-heart-with-all-care/]
Yes, he is definitely talking about purity of intention. I wrote two years ago as I reflected on St. Albert: “WHAT IS SIMPLICITY? One. Complexity rules where an item is divided or made up of many parts. The closer to one that we can get, the simpler we are. One God. One desire. A heart focused and centered on God. One Will. Simplicity of heart is virtually the same as purity of heart.”
As the storm rages about us, let us remember that light overcomes darkness. Confusion will not reign. Enter the simplicity of your heart, “a heart focused and centered on God. One Will.” With purity of intention. In a recent post, Mark Mallet reminded us: “Our Lady is calling us, right now, to intense prayer… prayer of the heart.” [http://www.markmallett.com/blog/a-matter-of-the-heart/#more-25834]
Ven. Archbishop Luis Martinez led me a couple of years ago to use his words in this simple prayer: “O my Jesus, simplify everything in the unity of Your Sacred Heart in order to plunge the whole universe into the bosom of the Trinity that God be All in all.”
[See also St. Albert’s book: CLEAVING TO GOD, http://www.catholictreasury.info/books/cleaving_to_God/clv7.php
and my first post here, IN THE FIRE: THIRSTING FOR GOD, https://soulfoodministries.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/258/
Today, as I reflected again on an earlier post, “Threads of Attachments” I came again upon this wonderful illustration of St. John of the Cross–it illustrates so well the post, but is so rich, it is worthy of much reflection in itself. First, let me share the illustration–not so easy to read, but worth the effort:
The following verses were written by St. John of the Cross, the Spanish mystic of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, after having spent many months imprisoned in a small cell in Toledo, in 1578. These verses are from his drawing “The Ascent of Mount Carmel,” which contained instructions for climbing to the summit, the high state of union:
To reach satisfaction in all
desire its possession in nothing.
To come to the knowledge of all
desire the knowledge of nothing.
To come to possess all
desire the possession of nothing.
To arrive at being all
desire to be nothing.
To come to the pleasure which you have not
you must go by a way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge which you have not
you must go by a way in which you know not.
To come to the possession you have not
you must go by a way in which you possess not.
To come to be what you are not
you must go by a way in which you are not.
When you turn toward something
you cease to cast yourself upon the all.
For to go from the all to the all
you must leave yourself in all.
And when you come to the possession of the all
you must possess it without wanting anything.
In this nakedness the spirit finds
its quietude and rest.
For in coveting nothing,
nothing raises it up
and nothing weighs it down,
because it is the center of its humility.