- Prayer opens the understanding to the brightness of Divine
Light, and the will to the warmth of Heavenly Love--nothing can
so effectually purify the mind from its many ignorances, or the
will from its perverse affections. It is as a healing water
which causes the roots of our good desires to send forth fresh
shoots, which washes away the soul's imperfections, and allays
the thirst of passion.
- But especially I commend earnest mental prayer to you, more
particularly such as bears upon the Life and Passion of our
Lord. If you contemplate Him frequently in meditation, your
whole soul will be filled with Him, you will grow in His
Likeness, and your actions will be moulded on His. He is the
Light of the world; therefore in Him, by Him, and for Him we
shall be enlightened and illuminated; He is the Tree of Life,
beneath the shadow of which we must find rest;--He is the Living
Fountain of Jacob's well, wherein we may wash away every stain.
Children learn to speak by hearing their mother talk, and
stammering forth their childish sounds in imitation; and so if
we cleave to the Savior in meditation, listening to His words,
watching His actions and intentions, we shall learn in time,
through His Grace, to speak, act and will like Himself.
Believe me, my daughter, there is no way to God save through
this door. Just as the glass of a mirror would give no
reflection save for the metal behind it, so neither could we
here below contemplate the Godhead, were it not united to the
Sacred Humanity of our Saviour, Whose Life and Death are the
best, sweetest and most profitable subjects that we can possibly
select for meditation.
It is not without meaning that the Saviour calls Himself the
Bread come down from Heaven;--just as we eat bread with all
manner of other food, so we need to meditate and feed upon our
Dear Lord in every prayer and action. His Life has been
meditated and written about by various authors. I should
specially commend to you the writings of S. Bonaventura,
Bellintani, Bruno, Capilla, Grenada and Da Ponte. (1)
- Give an hour every day to meditation before
dinner;--if you can, let it be early in the morning, when your
mind will be less cumbered, and fresh after the night's rest. Do
not spend more than an hour thus, unless specially advised to do
so by your spiritual father.
- If you can make your meditation quietly in church, it will
be well, and no one, father or mother, husband or wife, can
object to an hour spent there, and very probably you could not
secure a time so free from interruption at home.
- Begin all prayer, whether mental or vocal, by an act of the
Presence of God. If you observe this rule strictly, you will
soon see how useful it is.
- It may help you to say the Creed, Lord's Prayer, etc., in
Latin, but you should also study them diligently in your own
language, so as thoroughly to gather up the meaning of these
holy words, which must be used fixing your thoughts steadily on
their purport, not striving to say many words so much as seeking
to say a few with your whole heart. One Our Father
said devoutly is worth more than many prayers hurried over.
- The Rosary is a useful devotion when rightly used, and there
are various little books to teach this. It is well, too, to say
pious Litanies, and the other vocal prayers appointed for the
Hours and found in Manuals of devotion,--but if you have a gift
for mental prayer, let that always take the chief place, so that
if, having made that, you are hindered by business or any other
cause from saying your wonted vocal prayers, do not be
disturbed, but rest satisfied with saying the Lord's Prayer, the
Angelic Salutation, and the Creed after your meditation.
- If, while saying vocal prayers, your heart feels drawn to
mental prayer, do not resist it, but calmly let your mind fall
into that channel, without troubling because you have not
finished your appointed vocal prayers. The mental prayer you
have substituted for them is more acceptable to God, and more
profitable to your soul. I should make an exception of the
Church's Offices, if you are bound to say those by your
vocation--in such a case these are your duty.
- If it should happen that your morning goes by without the
usual meditation, either owing to a pressure of business, or
from any other cause, (which interruptions you should try to
prevent as far as possible,) try to repair the loss in the
afternoon, but not immediately after a meal, or you will perhaps
be drowsy, which is bad both for your meditation and your
health. But if you are unable all day to make up for the
omission, you must remedy it as far as may be by ejaculatory
prayer, and by reading some spiritual book, together with an act
of penitence for the neglect, together with a stedfast
resolution to do better the next day.