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Saturday, 21 June 2014

More Thoughts from Cardinal Manning

There are still several more pages in the book by Cardinal Manning on the interior working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which I must read. The book I have, a gift from a friend, is literally falling apart in my hands, the pages crumbling into bits as I turn them.

However, like an exile on a desert isle, I am saving the pieces and keeping the book in a freezer, plastic bag for now. Can one imagine all the great Catholic books disappearing in this way? Decaying either from the elements or lack of use, or from the blindness of those who never read these commentaries on the mysteries of the faith.

Manning writes this on prayer, which is my theme from him in this post. “Meditation is the patient thought of wisdom musing upon divine things.”  As noted in the perfection series, through the writings of Garrigou-Lagrange, in which he indicates that meditation comes before contemplation. Meditation is best learned through the writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who teaches us that meditation starts with pondering Holy Scripture.

One uses the Scriptures to concentrate on the life of Christ. Contemplation follows meditation. If one has trouble meditating, Manning tells us that there is a blockage,  something hindering the process of thinking and the use of the active imagination regarding the Scriptures.

Meditation involves the thinking of specifics in the lives of Mary, Our Blessed Mother, and Christ.

Contemplation is the active, and then, finally passive, reflection on the Attributes of God, God in truth and in love.

The Cardinal writes that the gift of Wisdom allows us to meditate and then to contemplate.  He makes a poignant distinction between the use of the gift of knowledge and the gift of wisdom. “…we see God in His creatures, and we ascend up by His creatures to Himself; but by the gift of wisdom we see God Himself, and, from the contemplation of his perfections, we descend to a knowledge of His works.” (p. 400).

One is an upward movement, and one is a downward movement.

Manning reminds us that we are all called to be saints and that detachment is a result of wisdom.  Wisdom is the last perfection of the soul.

He reminds us that the uninspired man has gifts which are oppressed. If one’s gifts are suppressed, there is a spiritual oppression. Manning quotes Romans 8:14, “For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

Usually, the oppressions are sin. If the sins are serious, the gifts are “lost” and inoperative. If one finds that the Holy Spirit does not seem to be active in one’s life, a good spiritual director can help discern the blockages.

To be continued…