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Saturday 15 March 2014

London no longer number one?

Repost of a repost mark two

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Perfection Series II: xxiii

Thoughts on Sunday morning re-post

When I was in the monastery, I was allowed time for reading and personal discernment. I read many books, 
mostly on the nature of the religious life and the way of perfection. As a person seriously considering and being considered, I had to write notes to Mother Prioress on my progress. We only spoke rarely, but it is the duty of the postulant or seeker to share insights and problems. However, for that order, as explained to me, the Rule of St. Benedict lived daily provides discernment, as well. If one manages to live by the Rule and is inspired by the 
Holy Spirit the Rule is actually a daily way of examination of conscience which happens immediately, all day long. 
For me, obedience was not difficult. But, God deals directly with a person under obedience in two ways. 
One way is directly through the Rule and, in one's superior. The second way of obedience is through one's direct relationship with God especially in deep prayer. The Tyburn order has the great advantage of daily long hours of Adoration, providing time for the postulant to wait on God for insights and direction. Lectio Divina and one's personal reading and to spiritual growth and formation. 

A lay person seeking this perfection, which we are all called to do, must do. to be continued... By the way, 
I heard a fantastic sermon this morning which I shall share in the next post.

Remember, all the laity are called to perfection, although the convent and monastery are short-cuts.

All are called to be perfect. What is hard is to persevere seeking Christ the Beloved without the short-cuts.

For those in the Dark Night stage, this chart may be useful. Found in Garrigou-Lagrange, part four....

Signs of the passive purification of the senses
Psychological Description
According to St. John of the Cross
Theological Explanation By the Gifts of the Holy  Ghost
3. Great difficulty in meditating discursively, an attraction for the simple affective gaze toward God.Inspiration of the gift of understanding, beginning of infused contemplation.
2. Keen desire to serve God, thirst for justice, and fear of sin. Resistance to temptations.Inspiration of the gift of fortitude, which in the midst of difficulties preserves the hunger and thrist for justice, and influence of the gift of fear to resist temptations.
1. Sensible aridity, no consolation in the things of God, or in created things.Inspiration of the gift of knowledge, which shows the vanity and emptiness of everthing created, the gravity of sin, whence the tears of true contrition.
40. Cf. R. de Sinety, Psychopathologie et direction, 1934, pp. 66-87.

Helping the Confused on the Levels of Prayer

The last stage of the Illuminative State is when people start working for God full-blast, without egotism. This is the time when such saints as Thomas Aquinas wrote the Summa, Benedict set up his Rule, Ignatius began his order and so on. At that last state, one is no longer actively praying, but praying in passive contemplation. The Unitive State is when one actually becomes a saint, and one can see in lives, such as John Paul II, public purgation, which resulted in Illumination and finally, Union.

(To be read from the bottom up)

Unitive life of the perfect
◊ full◊ extraordinary, e.g., with the vision of the Blessed Trinity
◊ weak
◊  ordinary
• eminent contemplative form
• apostolic form
◊ initial◊ not very continual union, often interrupted
Illuminative life of proficients
◊ full infused contemplation
◊ extraordinary or accompanied by visions, revelations
◊ ordinary
clearly contemplative form
 active form, or form ordained to action, e.g., gift of wisdom under practical form
◊ weak◊ transitory acts of infused contemplation (d. The Dark Night, Bk. I, chap. 9)
◊ initial◊ passive purification of the senses more or less well borne (initial infused contemplation)
Purgative life of beginners
◊ full or generous◊ fervent souls pious and devout souls
◊ weak◊ tepid or retarded souls, not without relapses
◊ initial◊ first conversion or justification

Repost of a repost

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Repeat Post on Prayer

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Next Levels of Prayer-After the Dark Night

People ask me is God can skip steps. God can, but people cannot. We are made up of body and soul, and our nature is such that we grow in steps spiritually as well as physically. The timing of the steps can vary, of course, with great young saints, such as St. Gemma Galgani reaching great heights through grace quickly.

God decides our time-table, but, we must cooperate. Too often, we choose not to cooperate, as it is too hard to face the purgation which must happen in the Dark Night. Now, some people, especially young saints, do not have much purgation. Obviously, the more sinful we are and the older we are having lived, perhaps, unreflective lives, the more intense, and, therefore, perhaps, the longer the Dark Night. We cannot imagine so wonderful a soul as Blessed Mother Teresa as being in the Dark Night for such a long time, but that was God's Will for her.

After the Dark Night, the infused prayer of the passive recollection occurs, which is the beginning of contemplation. This is a prayer of quiet and these stages are part of Mystical Prayer.

St. Teresa describes initial infused prayer, that of supernatural or passive recollection, which precedes the prayer of quiet, as follows, with Garrigou-Lagrange's comments towards the end:
This is a kind of recollection which, I believe, is supernatural (like the prayer of quiet). There is no occasion to retire nor to shut the eyes, nor does it depend on anything exterior; involuntarily the eyes suddenly close and solitude is found. Without any labor of one's own, the temple of which I spoke is reared for the soul in which to pray; the senses and exterior surroundings appear to lose their hold, while the spirit gradually regains its lost sovereignty. . . . 
But do not fancy you can gain it [this recollection] by thinking of God dwelling within you, or by imagining Him as present in your soul. . . . By the divine assistance everyone can practice it, but what I mean is quite a different thing. Sometimes, before they have begun to think of God, . . . the soul is keenly conscious of a delicious sense of recollection. . . . Here it is not in our power to retire into ourselves, unless God gives us the grace. In my opinion, His Majesty only bestows this favor on those who have renounced the world. . . . He thus specially calls them to devote themselves to spiritual things; if they allow Him power to act freely, He will bestow still greater graces on those whom He thus begins calling to a higher life.(30)
The saint adds: "Unless His Majesty has begun to suspend our faculties, I cannot understand how we are to stop thinking, without doing ourselves more harm than good," (31) for then we would remain in idleness or the somnolence of the quietists.

"The supernatural recollection" which St. Teresa describes in the preceding passages is clearly a mystical prayer, the beginning of infused contemplation, for which simplified affective meditation prepares the soul.(32)

Now, I have written on quietism on this blog before-it can be a dangerous trap. The real infused recollection, leading into infused contemplation and the prayer of quiet are the fifth and sixth states of prayer found only in the Illuminative State. This can happen according to some writers after the complete purification of the senses and before the complete purification of the soul, while some authors state that the purification of the senses and that of the soul happen together before the Illuminative State.

In other words, the Dark Night would, in either case, completely finished before the Unitive State, and before the levels of prayer in that state, the subject of the next two posts on this subject.

To be continued.....

Get The Ways of Mental Prayer which Fr. Ripperger recommends. I have not read this myself, but would love to do so

Confusion on The Levels of Prayer

I have been following Garrigou-Lagrange's charts on the levels of prayer. There is a bit of complication regarding that great author's definitions and those of Dom Vitalis Lehodey. Now, the complication is not a contradiction, but merely different ways of explaining similar levels of prayer.

If you want to go back and look at the series on prayer, check out the dates of September 29th, September 30th, 2013 and February 9th and 10th of this year.

However, let me clarify a few points again. First of all, Affective Prayer comes during the Dark Night of the Soul, when one can no longer meditate and one can only give God loving "glances" as well as short prayers. The suffering of the Dark Night takes much energy, as purification is painful.

That this type of prayer is simple means that it is not the complex type of either active contemplation or passive contemplation.

It is interesting that Lehodey believes that Affective prayer happens in the Illuminative State and he follows it with the prayer he calls simple prayer. In Garrigou-Lagrange, simple prayer is found in the beginning states, before the Dark Night and before the Second Conversion. The Illuminative State at the last stage is truly one of power and getting things done. In other words, this state is one of true light and life.

To use these terms is, therefore, confusing for some who go to spiritual direction and are told to engage in simple prayer.

I would avoid the term simple prayer or the prayer of simplicity. To move from Affective Prayer to Active Contemplation, one is in an active state of prayer. Not so with Passive Contemplation. This latter type of prayer is not one of striving, but waiting on God.

Active Contemplation, and this is repetition of earlier posts, demands that the one praying is thinking on the Attributes of God, such as Beauty, Truth, Goodness and so on.

This happens in the Illuminative State. Affective Prayer according to Lehodey begins in the Illuminative State, but according to Garrigou-Lagrange, it happens in the Dark Night of the Spirit. This makes more sense, as loving, short prayers to God during the day is all one can do in the Dark Night.

Active Contemplation is the last level of the Dark Night of the Spirit and the Passive Contemplation marks the entrance into the state of Union with God.

to be continued....

Repost on virtue formation

Monday, 30 January 2012

Perfection Part Three-Thomism and the Spiritual Life

The concept of grace is rarely taught in catechesis and yet, a Catholic needs an excellent grasp on the concept of, especially, sanctifying grace, in order to grow in the interior life. The other concepts which an adult Catholic needs 
to understand are the virtues, or the life of virtue. The title of a key book, based on many sources, but none more than St. Thomas Aquinas, is Garrigou-Lagrange's The Three Ages of the Interior Life. When St. Paul writes of 
giving his converts "meat", this is meat, not milk. And, a caution to the pilgrim is that one can learn something intellectually and not have such concepts actually be part of the interior life of the soul, but only head knowledge. 
An excellent spiritual director is a necessity and good luck trying to find one in this day and age. Also, before one engages the ideas of Garrigou-Lagrange, I highly suggest at least the lay version of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, again under a director. Again, good luck trying to find an orthodox, conservative director and not one 
involved in New Age interpretations of the classic thirty day retreat.

In a mini-series, of which this is the third part, I want to cover a basic approach to perfection, with an emphasis 
on the life of the virtues. One can read the complete discussion in Garrigou-Lagrange's great book, but I shall 
outline a few things on this blog just to interest readers. In this installment, I want to look at the infused virtues 
and in the next posting,  the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we all receive in Baptism. Here is a useful chart 
from the book:

 Charity -->
 Faith -->
 Hope -->
Gift of Wisdom
Gift of Understanding
Gift of Knowledge
Gift of Counsel
Gift of Piety
Gift of Fortitude
Gift of Fear
 Prudence -->
 - Religion -->
 - Penance
 - Obedience
 Fortitude -->
 - Patience
 - Humility
 - Meekness
 - Chasity

The Theological Virtues are infused, that is given to us by the Father. These are, of course, Faith, Hope and Charity. St. Thomas and Garrigou-Lagrange explain that the Theological Virtues are directed towards God as the End. 
We are given these virtues, but we must use and incorporate them into our souls. This is the job for each one of us, given these wonderful virtues at Baptism. One can read Garrigou-Lagrange for more detail. 

The Moral Virtues, however, help us get to Heaven-these are a means to that end. I highly recommend Josef Pieper'sThe Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, a book I have used in class with 
great success in the past. These Cardinal Virtues may be considered Moral Virtues, but there are more Moral 
Virtues, while there are only the Four Cardinal Virtues.  I am not going into the entire list here. You can look here
One cannot be in mortal sin and develop the acquired Moral Virtues. Here is Garrigou-Lagrange: a man must no 
longer be in the state of mortal sin, but his will must be set straight in regard to his last end. He must love God 
more than himself, at least with a real and efficacious love of esteem, if not with a love that is felt. This love is impossible without the state of grace and without charity.(4) But after justification or conversion, these true acquired
 virtues may come to be stable virtues; they may become connected, relying on each other. Finally, under the 
influx of infused charity, they become the principle of acts meritorious of eternal life. For this reason, some theologians, such as Duns Scotus, have even thought it not necessary that we should have infused moral virtues.

As much as I would not like to do so, I shall leave Duns Scotus for another time. But, notice two words being used here-acquired and infused. Even pagans, state Aquinas, using Plato and Aristotle, can acquire virtues; however, 
an example from Garrigou-Lagrange helps here: As St. Thomas remarks,(8) acquired temperance has a rule and formal object different from those of infused temperance. Acquired temperance keeps a just medium in the matter 
of food in order that we may live reasonably, that we may not injure our health or the exercise of our reason. Infused temperance, on the contrary, keeps a superior happy mean in the use of food in order that we may live in a 
Christian manner, as children of God, en route to the wholly supernatural life of eternity. Infused temperance thus implies a more severe mortification than is implied by acquired temperance; it requires, as St. Paul says, that man chastise his body and bring it into subjection,(9) that he may become not only a virtuous citizen of society on earth, but one of the "fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God." (10)

Part of the distinction here is the "end", the "reason" for the virtues. The Moral Virtues are practical to a certain 
extent, but if these are directed towards God, these become steps to heaven. Although the atheist, for example, 
may eat in a temperate manner, he is not directing his actions towards the Almighty and eternal life. He is acquiring virtue rationally, but without the supernatural motive. This is one of Aquinas' examples, as seen above.

There is a difference between motives and action. The Christian does all for the love of God and others, and not 
merely for one's self. Before moving on, I want to refer to a footnote here. Babies who are baptized receive all these virtues. This is why it is so important to have babies baptized and for parents to raise their children with the idea of cultivating these virtues. Here is the note:
Clement V at the Council of Vienna (Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 483), thus settled this question, which was formulated under Innocent III (Den­zinger, no. 410): "Whether faith, charity, and the other virtues are infused into children in baptism." He answers: "We, however, considering the gen­eral efficacy of the death of Christ, which is applied by baptism equally to all the baptized, think that, with the approval of the sacred Council, we should choose as more probable and more consonant and harmonious with the teachings of the saints and of modern doctors of theology, 
the second opinion, which declares that informing grace and the virtues are bestowed in baptism on infants as well 
as adults." By these words, "and the virtues," Clement V means.not only the theological virtues, but the moral 
virtues, for they also were involved in the question formulated under Innocent III.

As I wrote earlier this week, there is no reason why a child cannot become a saint.

St. Artemius Died at AgeTwelve
And, it is imperative that Catholic parents are aware of the life of the virtues in order, not only to become holy themselves, but to nurture holiness in their children.

The virtues grow together and are all based on love, the love for God and neighbor. If one advances in one virtue, one will advance in all. But, it is imperative that the person is in sanctifying grace, receiving the sacraments regularly, and praying. Too many Catholics believe all this life in the virtues will "just happen". Not so. And, sadly, many Catholics do not even realize that the life of virtue must be lived in order to become perfect, as we are all called to be. We are all called to be perfect. Even those who could not read in the Middle Ages looked towards their books of stone for these truths. We have or are in danger of losing these truths today. We see a crisis in character formation all around us, in politics, in youth, in ourselves. Without virtue, there is no character. To be continued..

to be continued...