Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

Trust in Divine Providence

The Voice of Christ:

My child, allow me to do what I will with you.  I know what is best for you.

The Disciple:

Lord, what You say is true.  Your care for me is greater than all the care I can take of myself.

Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis; Book III, Ch. 17.

 

Lesson #31 – Method of making choices and Examination

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

Lesson #31  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius — EXPLANATION ON A METHOD FOR MAKING CHOICES AND ON HOW TO DO A SPECIAL EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE AND HIS NOTES ON PENANCE

Having finished the last meditation set out by St. Ignatius, we would now like to share some of his additional gems, namely, his words of advice concerning how one should make choices; his method on how one can make a special examination of one’s conscience geared to the exercitant during a thirty-day retreat; and likewise on the penance he recommends during the retreat.

First let us address St. Ignatius’s advice concerning making choices.  He says:

INTRODUCTION TO MAKING A CHOICE OF A WAY OF LIFE

In every good choice, in so far as it depends upon us, the direction of our intention should be simple.  I must look only to the end for which I am created, that is, for the praise of God Our Lord and for the salvation of my soul.  Therefore, whatever I choose must have as its purpose to help me to this end.  I must not shape or draw the end to the means, but the means to the end.  Many, for example, first choose marriage, which is a means, and secondarily to serve God Our Lord in the married state, which service of God is the end.  Likewise, there are others who first desire to have benefices [an ecclesiastical office], and afterward to serve God in them.  These individuals do not go straight to God, but want God to come straight to their inordinate attachments.  Acting thus, they make a means of the end, and an end of the means, so that what they ought to seek first, they seek last.  My first aim, then, should be my desire to serve God, which is the end, and after this, to seek a benefice or to marry if it is more fitting for me, for these things are but means to an end.  Thus, nothing should move me to use such means or to deprive myself of them except it be only the service and praise of God Our Lord and the eternal salvation of my soul.

Next, St. Ignatius gives:

A CONSIDERATION TO OBTAIN INFORMATION ON THE MATTERS IN WHICH A CHOICE SHOULD BE MADE

This contains four points and a note:

First point: All matters in which we wish to make a choice must be either indifferent or good in themselves.  They must meet with the approbation of our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church, and not be bad or repugnant to her.

Second point: There are some things that are the objects of an immutable choice, such as the priesthood, matrimony, etc.  There are others in which the choice is not immutable, as for example, accepting or relinquishing a benefice, accepting or renouncing temporal goods.

Third point: Once an immutable choice has been made there is no further choice, for it cannot be dissolved, as is true with marriage, the priesthood, etc.  It should be noted only that if one has not made this choice properly, with due consideration, and without inordinate attachments, he should repent and try to lead a good life in the choice that he has made.  Since this choice was ill-considered and improperly made, it does not seem to be a vocation from God as many err in believing, wishing to interpret an ill-considered or bad choice as a divine call.  For every divine call is always pure and clean without any admixture of flesh or other inordinate attachments.

Fourth point: If one has made a proper and well-considered choice that is mutable, and has not been influenced either by the flesh or the world, there is no reason why he should make a new choice.  But he should perfect himself as much as possible in the choice he has made.

NOTE

It is to be noted that if this mutable choice is not well-considered and sincerely made, then it will be profitable to make the choice anew in the proper manner if one wishes to bring forth fruits that are worthwhile and pleasing to God Our Lord.

Then St. Ignatius sets forth when a wise choice can be made by the following:

THREE OCCASIONS WHEN A WISE AND GOOD CHOICE CAN BE MADE

THE FIRST OCCASION is when God Our Lord moves and attracts the will so that the devout soul, without question and without desire to question, follows what has been manifested to it.  St. Paul and St. Matthew did this when they followed Christ Our Lord.

THE SECOND OCCASION is present when one has developed a clear understanding and knowledge through the experience of consolations and desolations and the discernment of diverse spirits.

THE THIRD OCCASION is in a time of tranquility.  Here one considers first for what purpose man is born, which is to praise God Our Lord and to save his soul.  Since he desires to attain this end, he chooses some life or state within the bounds of the Church that will help him in the service of God Our Lord and the salvation of his soul.  I said “a time of tranquility,” when the soul is not agitated by diverse spirits, and is freely and calmly making use of its natural powers.

IF A CHOICE HAS NOT BEEN MADE ON THE FIRST OR SECOND OCCASION, BELOW ARE GIVEN TWO METHODS OF MAKING IT DURING THE THIRD OCCASION

The first method of making a wise and good choice contains six POINTS:

THE FIRST POINT: To place before my mind’s eye the thing about which I wish to make a choice.  It may be an office or a benefice to be accepted or refused, or anything else that is the object of a mutable choice.

THE SECOND POINT: I must have as my aim the end for which I am created, which is the praise of God Our Lord and the salvation of my soul.  At the same time I must remain indifferent and free from any inordinate attachments so that I am not more inclined or disposed to take the thing proposed than to reject it, nor to relinquish it rather than to accept it.  I must rather be like the equalized scales of balance, ready to follow the course which I feel is more for the glory and praise of God Our Lord and the salvation of my soul.

THE THIRD POINT: I must ask God Our Lord to deign to move my will and to reveal to my spirit what I should do to best promote His praise and glory in the matter of choice.  After examining the matter thoroughly and faithfully with my understanding, I should make my choice in conformity with His good pleasure and His most holy will.

THE FOURTH POINT: I will use my reason to weigh the many advantages and benefits that would accrue to me if I held the proposed office or benefice solely for the praise of God Our Lord and the salvation of my soul.  I will likewise consider and weigh the disadvantages and dangers that there are in holding it.  I will proceed in like manner with the other alternative, that is, examine and consider the advantages and benefits as well as the disadvantages and dangers in not holding the proposed office or benefice.

THE FIFTH POINT:  After having thus weighed the matter and carefully examined it from every side, I will consider which alternative appears more reasonable.  Acting upon the stronger judgment of reason and not on any inclination of the senses, I must come to a decision in the matter that I am considering.

THE SIXTH POINT: After such a choice or decision has been reached I should turn with great diligence to prayer in the presence of God Our Lord and offer Him this choice that His Divine Majesty may deign to accept and confirm it, if it be to His greater service and praise.

The second method of making a wise and good choice contains four RULES and a note:

THE FIRST RULE is that the love which moves me and causes me to make this choice should come from above, that is from the love of God, so that before I make my choice I will feel that the greater or lesser love that I have for the thing chosen is solely for the sake of my Creator and Lord.

THE SECOND RULE is to consider some man that I have never seen or known, and in whom I wish to see complete perfection.  Now I should consider what I would tell him to do and choose for the greater glory of God Our Lord and the greater perfection of his soul.  I will act in like manner myself, keeping the rule that I proposed for another.

THE THIRD RULE is to consider that if I were at the point of death, what form and procedure I would wish to have observed in making this present choice.  Guiding myself by this consideration, I will make my decision on the whole matter.

THE FOURTH RULE is to examine and consider how I shall be on the Day of Judgment, to think how I shall then wish to have made my decision in the present matter.  The rule which I should then wish to have followed, I will now follow, that I may on that day be filled with joy and delight.

NOTE

Taking the above-mentioned rules as my guide for eternal salvation and peace, I will make my choice and offer myself to God Our Lord, following the sixth point of the first method for making a choice (above).

Here is a method St. Ignatius explains as to how the exercitant can make a special examination of conscience while making his thirty-day retreat.

PARTICULAR EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE TO BE MADE EVERY DAY [geared to be done during a thirty-day retreat, but this can be adapted for outside of retreat]

This Exercise is performed at three different times, and there are two examinations to be made.

THE FIRST TIME: As soon as he arises in the morning the exercitant should resolve to guard himself carefully against the particular sin or defect which he wishes to correct or amend.

THE SECOND TIME: After the noon meal he should ask God Our Lord for what he desires, namely, the grace to remember how many times he has fallen into the particular sin or defect, and to correct himself in the future. Following this he should make the first examination demanding an account of his soul regarding that particular matter which he proposed for himself and which he desires to correct and amend.  He should review each hour of the time elapsed from the moment of rising to the moment of this examination.  He should make note on the first line (of a chart that he keeps for himself) and make a mark for each time that he has fallen into the particular sin or defect.  He should then renew his resolution to improve himself until the time of the second examination that he will make.

THE THIRD TIME: After the evening meal he will make a second examination, reviewing each hour from the first examination to this second one, and on the second line (of his chart), he will again make a mark for each time that he has fallen into the particular fault or defect.

          FOUR ADDITIONAL DIRECTIONS

The following directions will help to remove more quickly the particular sin or defect.

1) Each time that one falls into the particular sin or defect, he should place his hand on his breast, repenting that he has fallen.  This can be done even in the presence of many people without their noticing it.

2) Since the first line of the chart represents the first examination, the second line, the second examination, at night the exercitant should observe whether there is an improvement from the first line to the second, that is, from the first examination to the second.

3) He should compare the second day with the first, that is to say , the two examinations of the present day with the two examinations of the preceding day, and see if there is a daily improvement.

4) He should also compare one week with another and see if there is a greater improvement during the present week than in the past week. 

Fr. Hurter gives a more extensive explanation of the purpose of this particular examen:

Everyone has a more or less characteristic fault into which he falls more frequently than into others; it is more noticed by his companions than his other faults; it is the root of many other faults, and if it be eradicated, the faults which sprang from it will cease.  A man’s capital fault may be compared to the capital of an enemy’s country, which is the key entry point that an experienced general would use to enter into the entire region in time of war.  Thus, a person will make great progress in perfection if he attacks and overcomes his capital faults.  He digs out the fertile roots of many other faults.  If we have succeeded in doing away with our more noticeable faults, we can change our particular examen and aim at cultivating the more necessary virtues.[1]

Fr. Hurter explains the importance of being strict with oneself when fighting his particular fault.  St. Ignatius suggests one good way to do this is to strike one’s breast and say an ejaculation such as, “My Jesus, mercy,” when one becomes aware of having fallen into the fault.  He says that we have to make a firm resolution to combat the particular fault and direct our daily meditations and other prayers to this actual battle in order to strengthen our efforts.  He says, “By the attentive use of the means we shall gradually mend our ways with regard to the more radical faults, and plant the most beautiful virtues in the garden of our heart, thereby reaching the basic virtues and great purity of soul.”[2]

The above advice is designed to be used while the exercitant is on retreat; however, one can use these methods to conquer his predominant fault at any time.  It is a great blessing to discover one’s predominant fault and if one has not found it, he should earnestly entreat God to enlighten him so he may find it.  Once one has found his predominant fault, he should try with all of his might to conquer it, of course, with God’s all-powerful aid.

Now let us turn to what St. Ignatius says about penances done during retreat.

ST. IGNATIUS’S DIRECTIONS ON PENANCES

He first addresses the importance of keeping silence. In general, he speaks about keeping exterior and interior silence when making the Spiritual Exercises.  These Exercises were designed to be done for the period of a month.  The exercitant keeps exterior silence including restraining his eyes and keeping a guard of himself, remaining in a serious frame of mind.  For example, he can even go so far as to deprive himself of light in his room when he is trying to excite feelings of pain, sorrow, and tears for his sins.  The exercitant refrains from speaking to anyone besides the retreat master.

The interior silence is kept by the exercitant focusing on the subjects of the meditations and not allowing his mind to wander from the topic at hand.  This interior silence is intended to help the exercitant stay recollected so he can make the Exercises better and they can assist him in finding what he desires for his soul.   

In addition to his instructions on silence, St. Ignatius speaks of interior penance as follows:

The interior penance is sorrow for one’s sins and a firm resolution to not commit them.  Exterior penance is a fruit of interior penance, and is the punishment we inflict upon ourselves for the sins we have committed. We perform these penances in three ways:

a. Regarding food.  It will be noted that when we deny ourselves what is superfluous, it is not penance but temperance.  It is penance when we deny ourselves what it is proper for us to have, and the more we deny ourselves, the greater and better is the penance, provided we do not harm ourselves or cause ourselves serious illness.

b. Regarding sleeping.  Here again it is not penance when we deny ourselves the superfluity of delicate and soft things.  But it is penance when we deny ourselves what is suitable for us.  Again, the more we deny ourselves, the greater is the penance, provided we cause ourselves no injury or serious illness.  Nor should we deny ourselves our due amount of sleep unless we have the bad habit of sleeping too much.  It may then be done to arrive at a proper mean.

c. By chastising the flesh, thereby causing sensible pain.  [Here St. Ignatius mentions particular austerities.]

What seems the most suitable and safest thing in doing penance is for the pain to be felt in the flesh, without penetration to the bones, thus causing pain but not illness.

OBSERVATIONS ON PENANCE

1. Exterior penances are performed principally to produce three effects:

          a. To satisfy for past sins.

          b. To overcome ourselves, so that sensuality will be obedient to reason and our lower inclinations be subject to higher ones.

          c. To seek and find some grace or gift that we obtain, as for instance, a deep sorrow for our sins and to grieve for them for the pains and sufferings that Our Lord endured in His passion, or for the solution of some doubt that is troubling us.

When St. Ignatius discusses the types of exterior penances, he stresses doing the penance that obtains for the exercitant the desired goal, whether it be tears of compunction or the curbing of one’s passions, etc., and that the exercitant should alternate penances as needed in order to obtain the desired goal.  It should be noted, though, that he advises that the penances which refer to the chastising of the body are not to be done in public.

RULES TO BE OBSERVED IN THE FUTURE IN THE MATTER OF FOOD

1. There is less need to abstain from bread for it is not the kind of food over which the appetite is usually inclined to be uncontrolled, or over which temptation is so insistent as with other kinds.

2. Abstinence is more appropriate with regard to drink than in eating bread.  Therefore, one must consider carefully what would be beneficial to him and therefore permissible, and also what would be harmful, and so to be avoided.

3. With regard to foods, greater and more complete abstinence must be practiced because here temptation is likely to be more insistent and the appetite inclined to be excessive.  In order to avoid overindulgence, abstinence may be observed in two ways: by accustoming oneself to eat coarse foods, or if delicacies are taken, to eat them sparingly.

4. While taking care not to become sick, the more one abstains in the quantity of food suited to him, the sooner he will arrive at the mean he should observe in eating and drinking. There are two reasons for this: first, by thus helping and disposing himself he will more frequently feel the interior directions, consolations, and divine inspirations that will show him the mean that is proper for him.  Secondly, if he finds that with such abstinence he lacks sufficient health and strength for the Spiritual Exercises, he will easily be able to judge what is more suitable for sustaining his body.

5. While one is eating, he may consider that he sees Christ Our Lord at table with His Apostles, how He eats and drinks; how He looks and how He speaks, and he will strive to imitate Him.  He will thus keep his understanding occupied principally with Our Lord, and less with the sustenance of his own body.  Thus, he may adopt a better method and order in the manner in which he should govern himself.   

6. At other times, while eating, he may consider the lives of the saints or some other pious contemplation, or he may consider some spiritual work that he has to perform.  If he is occupied with such matters, he will take less delight and sensual pleasure in the nourishment of his body.

7. Above all, he must take care that his mind is not entirely occupied in what he is eating, and that he is not carried away by his appetite into eating hurriedly.  Let him rather master himself both in the way that he eats and the amount that he takes.

8. To avoid excess, it is very useful after dinner or after supper, or at another time when one feels no desire to eat, to make a determination for the next dinner or supper, and so for the subsequent days, on the amount of food that is proper for him to eat.  Let him not exceed this amount, no matter how strong his appetite or the temptation.  Rather, it is the better to overcome every disorderly appetite and temptation of the enemy.  If he is tempted to eat more, he should less.

Although these eight rules are meant for the duration of a retreat, they can be adapted for outside of a retreat.

In our next lesson we will complete our treatment of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, which include his advice concerning scruples and his additional meditation points on the life of Our Lord.  We will also include some thoughts about resolutions we can take based on the Spiritual Exercises.



[1]           Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, S.J., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, Pages 89-91.

 

[2]            Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, S.J., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, Pages 90-91.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

 

St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, quotes this phrase from Colossians, 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom”.

 

From this verse, St. John Chrysostom teaches how the priceless treasure of wisdom, helps us in our time of tribulation:

 

As the rich in money can bear fines and damages, so he that is rich in the doctrines of philosophy will bear not poverty only, but all calamities also easily, yea, more easily than that one [viz., those “rich in money”].

 

For as for him, by discharging the fine, the man who is rich [in money] must needs be impoverished, and found wanting, and if he should often suffer in that way, will no longer be able to bear it, but in this case [viz., the man rich in this philosophy] it is not so; for we do not even expend our wholesome thoughts when it is necessary for us to bear aught [i.e., anything] we would not choose, but they abide with us continually.

 

And mark the wisdom of this blessed man [viz., St. Paul].  He said not, “Let the word of Christ” be in you, simply, but what? “dwell in you”, and “richly”.

 

St. John Chrysostom, Sermon 9 on Colossians, 3:16 (bracketed words added to show context).

 

 

Life, Death, and Salvation Without a Priest

As you know, God wants us to be happy on earth, and in Heaven with Him after we die.  He suffered and died for us for that very reason.  But why, oh why, does He leave us Catholic Candle readers without a good, uncompromising priest? 

God knows best and knows what we need to achieve our goal of salvation.

St. Augustine says:

All that happens to us in this world against our will (whether due to men or to other causes) happens to us only by the will of God, by the disposal of Providence, by His orders and under His guidance; and if from the frailty of our understanding we cannot grasp the reason for some event, let us attribute it to Divine Providence, show Him respect by accepting it from His Hand, believe firmly that He does not send it to us without cause.”[1]

Divine Providence has placed many people around the world, at various times, in situations in which they had no Sacraments or Mass at all, (e.g., Japanese Catholics for 300 years).  And God has willed other people to live where there were many  valid Sacraments, but all of them were bad and had to be avoided (e.g., in St. Hermenegild’s Arian Spain and in many places in Revolutionary France).  God sometimes wills Catholics to be without the Mass and Sacraments out of love for Him and for the sake of the Catholic Faith and morals.  Of course, even during such times, it is imperative for Catholics to still practice the Catholic Faith and to pray and practice Catholic virtues.

So, let’s examine some of the many things that God has done for our salvation.  We can begin with the fact that He gave us a perfect religion and all that it offers.  The first necessity is, of course, Baptism, which can be performed by the parents, or others if necessary.[2]

Let us look next at the help we receive from the Ten Commandments and from  our conscience, (often called the Voice of God because it bids us to do right and avoid wrong).[3]

In spite of the certainty that readers of the Catholic Candle are conversant with the Ten Commandments, we nevertheless review them here:

     I.        I am the lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.

  II.        Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

III.        Remember thou keep holy the Lord’s day.

 IV.        Honor thy father and thy mother.

   V.        Thou shalt not kill.

 VI.        Thou shalt not commit adultery.

VII.        Thou shalt not steal.

VIII.        Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

 

 IX.        Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.

   X.        Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.                    

God also gave us other specific instructions, some of which are obligatory under the Natural Law and some are not.  For example, the Natural Law requires us to make sacrifices to the Creator but does not specify that we abstain from meat in particular or on what specific days to do so.  Through Her own commandments, the Church has fortunately commanded us in specific ways how we must fulfil the natural law. The main Commandments of the Church are these six:

1.    To assist at Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of obligation, (when there is one available without compromise, of course.)

2.    To fast and abstain on the days appointed.

3.    To confess our sins at least once a year.  (Again, we do this when possible without compromise).

4.    To receive Holy Communion during Easter time. (We do this when possible without compromise.)

5.    To contribute to the support of the Church. 

6.    To observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage.

There are other commandments besides these six, such as the law that specifies that membership in Masonic or other anti-Catholic organizations is forbidden, or that cremation is similarly prohibited, but these are some of the principal ones.[4]

The important point is that a loving God gave us these guidelines to help us get to Heaven. He even went a step further when He said that under certain conditions, a dying person might avoid hell and even purgatory. 

It is the teaching of great masters of the spiritual life that a person who, at the point of death, makes an act of perfect conformity to the will of God will be delivered not only from hell but also from purgatory, even if he has committed all the sins in the world.[5]

“The reason,” says St. Alphonsus, “is that he who accepts death with perfect resignation acquires similar merit to that of a martyr who has voluntarily given his life for Christ, and even amid the greatest sufferings he will die happily and joyfully”.[6]

Of course, it goes without saying that without a priest and without the Sacraments, we must pray very much, study the Faith diligently, make a better effort to sacrifice, and live by our informed conscience.



[1]           Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J. and St. Claude de la Colombiere, S.J., Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford, Ill., 1983,  pp. 17-18.

[2]           My Catholic Faith, Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, My Mission House, 1949,  p. 255.

[3]           My Catholic Faith, Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, My Mission House, 1949, p. 171.

 

 

[4]           My Catholic Faith, Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, My Mission House, 1949, p. 237.

[5]           Quoted in Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, Fr. Jean Baptiste Sainte-Jure, S.J. and St. Claude de la Colombiere, S.J., Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford, Ill. 1983, p.71.

[6]           Quoted in Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, Fr. Jean Baptiste Sainte-Jure, S.J. and St. Claude de la Colombiere, S.J., Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford, Ill. 1983, p.71.

 

Lesson #30 – Contemplation on the Attainment of Divine Love

Mary’s School of Sanctity

Lesson #30 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius –—FOURTH WEEK –CONTEMPLATION ON THE ATTAINMENT OF DIVINE LOVE

This meditation is the final one that St. Ignatius gives in his Spiritual Exercises.  One could almost see this meditation as the grand finale.  So much could be said about the concepts that he gave us for this meditation.  We will give some considerations after sharing what St. Ignatius set forth.

Initially, St. Ignatius gives two points to be noted.  The first point is that love ought to be manifested in deeds rather than in words.

The second point is that love consists in a mutual interchange by the two parties, that is to say, that the lover give to and share with the beloved all that he has or can attain, and that the beloved act toward the lover in like manner.  Thus, if he has knowledge, he shares it with the one who does not have it.  In like manner they share honors, riches, and all things.

The preparatory prayer is the same as usual, I ask God Our Lord the grace that all my intentions, actions, and works may be directed purely to the service and praise of the Divine Majesty.

The FIRST PRELUDE is the mental representation of the place.  Here it is to see how I stand in the presence of God Our Lord and of the angels and saints, who intercede for me.            

The SECOND PRELUDE is to ask for what I desire.  Here it will be to ask for a deep knowledge of the many blessings I have received, that I may be filled with gratitude for them, and in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.

The FIRST POINT is to call to mind the benefits that I have received from creation, redemption, and the particular gifts I have received.  I will ponder with great affection how much God Our Lord has done for me, and how many of His graces He has given me.  I will likewise consider how much the same Lord wishes to give Himself to me in so far as He can, according to His divine decrees.  I will then reflect within myself, and consider that I, for my part, with great reason and justice, should offer and give to His Divine Majesty, all that I possess, and myself with it, as one who makes an offering with deep affection, saying:

Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.  All that I have and possess Thou hast given me.  To Thee, O Lord, I return it.  All is Thine; dispose of it according to Thy Will.  Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is enough for me.

The SECOND POINT is to consider how God dwells in His creatures: in the elements, giving them being; in the plants, giving them life; in the animals, giving them sensation; in men giving them understanding.  So, He dwells in me, giving me being, life, sensation, and intelligence, and making a temple of me, since He created me to the likeness and image of His Divine Majesty.  Then I will reflect upon myself in the manner stated in the first point, or in any other way that may seem more beneficial.

The same procedure should be observed in each of the points that follow.

The THIRD POINT is to consider how God works and labors for me in all created things on the face of the earth, that is, He conducts  Himself as one Who labors; in the heavens, the elements, plants, fruits, flocks, etc.  He gives them being, preserves them, grants them growth, sensation, etc.  Then I will reflect on myself.

The FOURTH POINT is to consider how all blessings and gifts descend from above.  My limited power, for example, comes from the supreme and infinite power from above.  In like manner justice, goodness, pity, mercy, etc. descend from above just as the rays from the sun, the waters from the spring, etc.  Then I will reflect upon myself, as explained above, and conclude with a colloquy and the “Our Father.”  

We now will share what Fr. Hurter gives to us about the above four points in what he calls four motives, or reasons for loving God, and then we’ll add a brief note for each one.

The First Motive for Loving God

God is our greatest benefactor.  Love shows itself by benefactions.  God simply overwhelmed us with benefits.  Think but of the gifts of nature: body and soul, health and the use of the senses, food and clothing, beloved parents and benefactors, general and special benefits.  All this we owe to God, and these benefits He has conferred on us daily and hourly for many years.  We are but a composition of benefits.  “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” (I Corinthians., 4:7)

We come now to the still more precious gifts of the supernatural order, the order of graces: our redemption by the sufferings and death of the Son of God, our creation into this world after the coming of Our Lord.  Recall all the gifts of faith, of the true Church, of the sacraments; that the Lord, by sanctifying grace, has made us His adopted children, that He is so near to us by His Sacred Body in Holy Communion, the repeated remission of our sins, the many means of graces which accompanied us from the day of our birth to this day:[1] so that in gratitude we must acknowledge: “He hath not done in like manner to every nation, and His judgments He hath not made manifest to them.” (Ps. 147:20)  To thousands and thousands he has not been as generous as He has been to us.

Let us cast a glance into the hereafter, on the blessings of heaven.  What is the Lord in His goodness not willing to give?  Himself in all His glory. “I am thy reward exceeding great.” (Gen. 15:5)

If giving presents is a proof of love, and the Lord has showered benefits down upon us poor human beings, how He must love us!  “What shall I render to the Lord, for all the things that He hath rendered to me?” (Ps. 115: 12) If beggars for a few cents love their benefactors, how shall we requite God’s love for us?  What love then do we owe to God?  But love must show itself in deeds.  What can we give to the Lord?  All that we have belongs to Him.  But the Lord is so good that He takes His own benefits as presents if we but offer them as a sacrifice.  Therefore, we shall confirm our love for the Lord by an act of consecration.  We must say with a grateful, willing and cheerful heart: “Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. All that I am and have Thou hast given me, and I give it back again to Thee, to be disposed of according to Thy good pleasure.  Give me only Thy love and Thy grace; with these I am rich enough and ask no more.”[2]

 

 

Additional note about the First Motive

Yes, indeed, we need nothing more than God.  He must be for us our all and everything.  From the very first meditation in the Spiritual Exercises, we have been taught by St. Ignatius that God must be our number one priority and our highest love.  In this first motive for loving God, we are really addressing the most important reasons that we owe God gratitude and love.  What could be more important than the gift of the Catholic Faith and all that comes with the Faith?  We cannot thank God enough for it.  Seeing how precious the gift of Faith is, and how vulnerable we are in that we are incapable of keeping the Faith without God’s help, helps us to be more grateful to God.  With gratitude comes humility and love.

Fr. Hurter continues:


The Second Motive for Loving God

God in His love for us wants to be near us always.  Love shows itself in this: that it is fond of being with the person it loves.  Lovers like to see each other.  How does God answer this demand?   He is everywhere near us, distributing favors in the whole of nature.  In this eagerness to be still nearer to us, the son of God came down from heaven to visit us in our homes: “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)  To perpetuate this visit, He instituted the most holy Sacrament of the Altar, to be wherever even a few Christians assemble.  There He is day and night in the midst of them; and He rather waits for us there, that we should have to wait for His coming and visit.  If we cannot come to Him, He has Himself brought to us, even if our dwelling be ever so poor, a mere hut, a stable, a prison.  The Holy Ghost makes us His temple, in which He desires to dwell.  “Know you not,” writes St. Paul, “that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (I Cor. 3:16)  Furthermore, Our Divine Savior in His love for us wants us to be with Him forever. “Father, I will that where I am, they also whom Thou hast given Me may be with Me.” (John 17:14)  To Him, therefore, the words apply: “My delights were to be with the children of men.” (Prov. 8:31)

Such love, such condescension, calls for a return, and since a lover is fond of being near the person he loves, we will show our love of God by being with Him in thought, as a child away from home often thinks of its dear parents, and by visits which we can easily make to the Blessed Sacrament.[3]  We should be glad to converse with Him all the more because it is an honor that God deigns to associate with us poor creatures, and because these visits are always so rich in graces.[4]

Additional note about the Second Motive

Our Lord referred to Himself as the heavenly Bridegroom.  This is the most intimate friendship He could give to humans.  How loving of Him to want to be so close to us!  St. Thomas Aquinas explains to us that Goodness is self-diffusive.  We see this is so true especially when we consider the plan of God to dwell physically among us.  He gives Himself to us in a beautiful divine friendship.  Even when the Mystical Body has suffered persecutions in history, Our Lord always sustained His Flock.  For He said, “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you…In that day you shall know, that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:18 & 20) What a wonderful truth to know that the Trinity wills to dwell in us!

Fr. Hurter continues:

The Third Motive for Loving God

Love is strengthened not only by presents and visits but especially by deeds when it is active and generous in favor of the one beloved.  Thus, a mother’s love for her child shows itself not so much when she gives it fine clothes as when she works and stints herself for it, spends many a sleepless night at its bedside to nurse it in its sickness, and denies herself in many ways that she may take care of her child; when from early morning to late at night she suffers and makes sacrifices for its welfare.  So, too, does God show His love for us by being active for, in and about us.  He is everywhere active in nature for our benefit.  He gives growth and ripening to plants for our sustenance.  He lights the sun to give us light and heat.  He preserves, governs, and directs the universe, that it may be at our service.  Yes, the Son of God went still further for our sake.  He worked for us, bore painful sacrifices for us, even suffered to save us.

St. Bernard writes:

My reparation after the fall was not as my creation.  He spoke and the universe was created. (Ps. 148:5)  But He Who by a single word created me, has said much, done wonderful things, suffered severely, not only severely, but even what humiliated Him, to bring about my reparation.  ‘What shall I render to the Lord for all the things that He hath rendered to me?’ (Ps. 115:12)   In creation He made a present of me to myself, in redemption He gave Himself up for me, and thereby gave me back to myself.  Hence by creation and redemption I owe myself for myself.  What then shall I give to God for Himself?  Were I to make a sacrifice of myself a thousand times, what am I compared with God?

I must therefore show and confirm my love by working, making sacrifices, and suffering for God.  “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Cor. 10:31)[5]

Additional note about the Third Motive

What more could Our Lord have done for us than He did?  He suffered and died for us.  Even more importantly, He showed us by the cruel suffering and insults He endured how much He loved His heavenly Father.  At the same time, He showed how malicious sin is and how we should rather die than to offend God.  In very fact, He showed us how to love the Father.  We ought to imitate Him for He is always Our Model of perfect love.

Fr. Hurter continues:

The Fourth Motive for Loving God

The amiability of God.  That this glorious and exalted motive may enkindle in us a fervent love, let us consider how often a mere shadow of beauty, a drop of perfection found in creatures, draws our heart, charms and enraptures us.  What love, then, will the infinite beauty of God, the fountain of all perfection, enkindle in us?  If, therefore, creatures approach you with their beauty and loveableness to draw you to themselves, to fetter and imprison you, cry out to them: “I would be a fool were I to run after a drop and give myself to a shadow, when I can have the sum-total of all beauty and glory.  No, I will give my heart to the Infinite Being, Who alone can make me perfectly happy.”

Creatures with their beauty shall be to me as a guide directing me and telling me to “Love God!”  To Him my whole heart shall belong.  And therefore, creatures are so beautiful that they may remind me “how much the Lord to them is more beautiful than they, for the first author of beauty made all those things.” (Wis. 13:3)

Rightly does St. Augustine say: “Heaven and earth and all that is in the universe cry out to me from all directions that I, O God, must love Thee.  And they do not cease to cry out to all, so that they have no excuse.”

And if I furthermore consider that this infinitely beautiful, exalted, and perfect Being is mindful of me, and watches over me, and loves me, although He has no need of me whatever;  that He wants my love and longs for it, and rejoices when I love Him—how we must consider ourselves pressed to comply with His wish, and dazzled with His beauty and loveableness, be entirely consumed in His love, love Him with our whole heart, and with our whole soul, and with our whole mind, and with our whole strength, as He commanded us to do.  (Mark 12:30)                                     

Let us ask Our Lord by His precious Blood for such a love; and let it be the most beautiful fruit of these spiritual exercises.  Let us willingly repeat the beautiful petition of St. Augustine: “That I may know myself and know Thee, that I may love Thee and despise myself.”[6]

Additional note about the Fourth Motive

There is nothing higher than God.  We learn in our Catechism that He is the Supreme Being.  He has all perfections.  If we ponder His attributes, which we humans can only do one at a time, we soon grow in admiration of Him.  We are overawed by His immense qualities.  We were naturally made to love God.  If we follow our nature as we ought, our hearts desire God and are attracted to Him.  As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts were made for Thee O Lord and are restless until they rest in Thee.”  Since He is our final end, we can never be truly satisfied until we possess God completely.  Our natural inclination is to soar up to God.  These thoughts lead us to our colloquy.

Colloquy:  O Infinite and Divine Majesty, how can I, a poor creature, ever thank Thee enough for all the many blessings Thou hast showered upon me?  Thou hast created me rational and with an immortal soul.  Would that I could even appreciate these two aspects alone!  But in addition to these priceless gifts, Thou hast given me Thy Divine Son to be my soul’s Spouse and intimate Friend.  This is the utmost treasure that any human could want!  But alas, I am such a poor wretch who has not been grateful as I ought.  I beg Thee, Dear Trinity, to help me study Thee and all Thy truths so I can learn to appreciate Thee and grow in an ever-deeper love of Thee.  Help me to remain ever faithful to Thee so my soul can be Thy bride in time and in eternity. (I will end my colloquy with an Our Father.)

 

In our next lesson we will address St. Ignatius’s method for making a choice and his recommendations on penance.

 



[1]           In this time of the great apostasy when the majority of uncompromising Catholics have no priests and sacraments, we must not think that God is not still taking care of our spiritual needs.  He has made our prayers more efficacious including our spiritual communions and rosaries, precisely because we are refraining from participating in compromise Masses and Sacraments. 

 

We should also keep in mind that even if we do not have the sacramental confession available without compromise that we must practice perfect acts of contrition.  Furthermore, by using indulgenced prayers and sacramentals such as our rosary beads, and Signs of the Cross, we can remit our venial sins.  Our Lord indeed does not leave us orphans, especially when we are sacrificing and avoiding compromise out of love for Him!

 

[2]              Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat, by Hugo Hurter, S.J., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, Page 269-271.

[3]               Again, because the majority of uncompromising Catholics living in these times of the great apostasy do not have access to the Tridentine Mass and sacraments and the Blessed Sacrament, we should endeavor to make many spiritual communions and meditate on the Trinity dwelling in our souls, especially through His Divine grace.  We should speak to God in our souls and pour out our hearts to Him with love and gratitude.

[4]              Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat, by Hugo Hurter, S.J., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, Page 269-271.

[5]              Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat, by Hugo Hurter, S.J., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, Page 272-273.

[6]              Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat, by Hugo Hurter, S.J., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, Page 274-275.

 

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

 

When thou seest any enemy of God wealthy, with armed attendants and many flatterers, be not cast down, but lament, weep, call upon God, that He may enroll that enemy to become numbered amongst His friends: and the more he prospers being God’s enemy, so much the more do thou mourn for him. For sinners we ought always to bewail, but especially when they enjoy wealth and abundance of good days; even as one should the sick, when they eat and drink to excess. 

 

Words of St. John Chrysostom, Sermon 39 on 1 COR. 15:27-8.

 

Lesson #29 – Apparition to the Two Disciples At Emmaus

Catholic Candle note: Below is the 29th part of this guide to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

Lesson #29  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – Apparition to the Two Disciples At Emmaus

In our last lesson, we considered the suitability of Our Lord appearing to His Mother first to console her who is the Mother of Sorrows.  Since she was so closely united to her Son all during His life on earth and especially while He hung on the Cross, she should be the first to join with Him in the triumph of His Resurrection.

We turn our thoughts to the other apparitions of Our Lord after His Resurrection.   In our last lesson we listed several of these apparitions and we encourage the exercitant to meditate on as many of these apparitions as his time permits.  In our current lesson, we wish to give an example of how one of these apparitions can be put into the framework that St. Ignatius gave us for Our Lord’s apparition to Our Lady.  The other apparitions can be done in a similar manner.  The apparition we are now considering is Our Lord’s apparition to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus.

The preparatory prayer is the same as usual: I ask God Our Lord for the grace that all my intentions, actions, and works may be directed purely to the service and praise of the Divine Majesty.

The FIRST PRELUDE: the history.  Recall to mind Our Lord upon His Resurrection appeared in Body and Soul to His Blessed Mother.  Subsequently He appeared to various others.

The SECOND PRELUDE: the mental representation of the place.  Here it will be to see the two disciples travelling to Emmaus, discussing the events, and Our Lord meeting up with them and continuing the journey with them.

The THIRD PRELUDE: to ask for what I desire.  Here it will be to request the grace that I may feel intense joy and gladness for the great glory and joy of Christ Our Lord.

The first, second, and third points are the same that we have had in the contemplation on the Last Supper of Christ Our Lord.

The FIRST POINT is to visualize the persons at the supper, {here Our Lord with the two disciples} and reflecting within myself, to strive to gain some profit from them.

The SECOND POINT is to listen to what they say, and likewise to draw some profit from it.

The THIRD POINT is to observe what they are doing and to draw some fruit from it.

The FOURTH POINT is to consider that the Divinity which seemed to hide Itself during the Passion, now appears and manifests Itself so miraculously in the most holy Resurrection by its true and most holy effects.

The FIFTH POINT is to consider the office of consoler that Christ Our Lord exercises, comparing it with the way that friends are wont to console one another.

The COLLOQUY:  Conclude with one or more colloquies according to the subject matter and then with “Our Father.”

Before giving the considerations for this meditation we give the Scriptural account: [The following are verses from St. Luke 24:13-46]

And behold, two of them went, the same day, to a town which was sixty furlongs[1] from Jerusalem, named Emmaus.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  And it came to pass that while they talked and reasoned with themselves, Jesus Himself also, drawing near, went with them.  But their eyes were held, that they should not know Him.  And He said to them: What are these discourses that you hold one with another as you walk and are sad?  And the one of them, whose name was Cleophas, answering, said to Him: Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things that have been done there in these days?  To whom He said: What things? And they said: Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet, mighty in work and word before God and all the people.  And how our chief priests and princes delivered Him to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we hoped that it was He that should have redeemed Israel.  And now besides all this, to-day is the third day since these things were done.  Yea and certain women also of our company affrighted us who, before it was light, were at the sepulcher.   And not finding his body, came, saying that they had all seen a vision of angels, who say that he is alive.  And some of our people went to the sepulcher and found it so as the women had said: but Him they found not.

Then He said to them: O foolish and slow of heart to believe in all things, which the prophets have spoken.  Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and so, to enter into his glory?

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things that were concerning him.   And they drew nigh to the town whither they were going: and He made as though He would go farther.  But they constrained Him, saying: Stay with us, because it is towards evening and the day is now far spent.  And He went in with them.

And it came to pass, whilst He was at table with them, He took bread and blessed and brake and gave to them.  And their eyes were opened: and they knew Him.   And He vanished out of their sight.

 And they said one to the other: Was not our heart burning within us, whilst He spoke in the way and opened to us the scriptures?

And rising up, the same hour, they went back to Jerusalem: and they found the eleven gathered together, and those that were with them, saying: The Lord is risen indeed and hath appeared to Simon.  And they told what things were done in the way: and how they knew Him in the breaking of bread.

Now, whilst they were speaking these things, Jesus stood in the midst of them and saith to them: Peace be to you. It is I: Fear not.  But they being troubled and frightened, supposed that they saw a spirit.  And he said to them: Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?  See my hands and feet, that it is I Myself.  Handle, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see Me to have.

And when He had said this, He shewed them His hands and feet.  But while they yet believed not and wondered for joy, He said: Have you here anything to eat?  And they offered Him a piece of a broiled fish and a honeycomb.

And when He had eaten before them, taking the remains, He gave to them.

And He said to them: These are the words which I spoke to you  while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses and in the prophets and in the psalms, concerning Me.

Then He opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.

And He said to them: Thus, it is written, and thus, it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise again from the dead, the third day.

Painting the Scene and Giving Considerations for the Points Above.

Imagine the scene.  Consider the frame of mind of the two disciples.  They were still recovering from the grief of Our Lord’s death, when they heard seemingly bizarre tales.  They had never really expected that Our Lord was truly God.  To them everything seemed hopeless on Good Friday and to be told on Sunday that Jesus of Nazareth was not in His tomb and was alive, was not believable.

Our Lord comes along almost out of nowhere and joins them in their journey.  He surprises them with His question about the Christ.    

Then Our Lord gave them instruction of all the Scriptures which were fulfilled in Him.  He showed them how the Redeemer would have to die to make satisfaction to the Father.  They began to see how God’s providence ties all things together beautifully. 

Finally, when they reached their destination they longed to have Him stay with them because they respected His wisdom.  They were eager to hear more instructions from Him.  When He blessed the bread at their meal and broke it, they recognized what He had done at the multiplication of the loaves.  He allowed their eyes to be opened and then He disappeared.

They were so excited that they went all the way back to the Cenacle in Jerusalem.  They related to the Apostles what had occurred.  Then Our Lord surprises them a second time by appearing to them all.  Again, all present could not believe their eyes and thought they saw a ghost.  Our Lord ate some fish in front of them to prove that He was indeed not a ghost.  He had compassion on them and instructed them how the Scriptures were fulfilled perfectly.

Father Hurter tells us that Our Lord hearing the disciples in their discourses on their journey to Emmaus, shows us that when we are feeling most bewildered, Our Lord is always nigh.  He desires to help us unravel whatever problem or difficulty we may have.  Our Lord has compassion on us.   He instructs and encourages us.  He doesn’t want us to be in the dark.[2]  This also teaches us that we have to be careful to keep our conversations edifying.[3]

Another aspect that Fr. Hurter points out is that despondency and excessive sadness dimmed the vision of the disciples, “their eyes were held that they should not know Him.”  In addition to this, their despondency and dejection caused them to forget the many consoling promises of God.[4]

Our Lord rebuked them for being “foolish and slow of heart to believe.”  He lovingly consoles them by opening their eyes to the way the Holy Scriptures have been fulfilled in Him.  He was patient with them and set us a good example of being patient with the weak of mind or body.[5]

The two disciples are eager to listen to what Our Lord explained to them.  This is an edifying example for us.  Furthermore, in this apparition, when Our Lord suddenly disappears shows us that when consolations come, they are not long lasting.  Thus, we must prepare for a coming storm when we are in consolation.   In the same vein, we must not fret when we are in desolation, because this too will pass and we must humble ourselves and wait for the next consolation.   In short, we must be humble and submit to whatever Our Lord sends our way.[6]

The disciples hurrying back to Jerusalem showed their eagerness to spread the good news to others.  They wanted to share their joy of having seen the Risen Lord.

When the disciples saw Our Lord again that night, after their return to Jerusalem, they were among the others who thought that they saw a ghost.  Our Lord showed that He is very patient with us indeed and that He is willing to satisfy our intellects; thus, He proved to them that what they saw was really He.

COLLOQUY: [7]

To Our Lord: I, too, O Lord am slow of heart, and need to be rebuked by Thee.  I thank Thee for Thy patience with me and Thy loving mercy that you have always shown me.  I beg Thee to continue to be merciful with me, a wretched sinner.  Make my heart desire to have Thee near always.  Help me to serve Thee with a generous heart.

Please teach me O Lord, for I am eager to learn Thy ways and Thy Truth.

To God the Father: I thank Thee, O heavenly Father for the Resurrection of Thy Son.  May my heart ever yearn to learn more about Thee and Thy Son and Thy wondrous ways.  Please help me spread the truths of the Holy Catholic Church.

In our next lesson we will study St. Ignatius’s Contemplation to Attain Divine Love.



[1]           Sixty furlongs = 7.5 miles.

[2]           Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, S.J. PH.D. D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 240.

 

[3]           Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, S.J. PH.D. D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 239-240.

 

[4]           Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, S.J. PH.D. D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 240.

 

[5]           Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, S.J. PH.D. D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 240.

 

[6]           Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, S.J. PH.D. D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 238.

 

[7]           Of course, this is only a suggestion of a possible colloquy.  The exercitant can compose his own colloquy.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

 

Peace and Happiness Comes from Mortifying our Lower Nature

 

“True peace of heart, then, is found in resisting passions, not in satisfying  them.”

 

Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis; Book I, Ch. 6.

 

Lesson #28 – The Resurrection of Our Lord

Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

Lesson #28  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius –—EXPLANATION OF THE FOURTH  WEEK OF THE EXERCISES – THE RESURRECTION AND APPARITIONS OF OUR LORD

St. Ignatius devotes his fourth week of the Spiritual Exercises to the joy of the Resurrection and apparitions of Our Lord.

In this lesson we will concentrate on the first apparition of Our Lord after His Resurrection.  Tradition tells us that Our Lord appeared first to His Mother.

St. Ignatius gives us the following for this first contemplation of the fourth week.

The preparatory prayer is the same as usual, I ask God Our Lord the grace that all my intentions, actions, and works may be directed purely to the service and praise of the Divine Majesty.

The FIRST PRELUDE is the history.  Here, it is how after Christ expired on the cross, and His Body remained separated from the soul, yet always united with the Divinity.  His soul, likewise united with the Divinity, descended into hell.  There He released the souls of the just, then returning to the sepulcher, and rising again, He appeared in Body and Soul to His Blessed Mother.

The SECOND PRELUDE is the mental representation of the place.  Here, it will be to see the arrangement of the Holy Sepulcher and the place or house of Our Lady, noting its different rooms: her room, her oratory, etc.

The THIRD PRELUDE is to ask for what I desire.  Here, it will be to request the grace that I may feel intense joy and gladness for the great glory and joy of Christ Our Lord.

The first, second, and third points are the same that we have had in the contemplation on the Last Supper of Christ Our Lord.

The FIRST POINT is to visualize the persons at the supper, (here, Our Lord with His Mother) and reflecting within myself, to strive to gain some profit from them.

The SECOND POINT is to listen to what they say, and likewise to draw some profit from it.

The THIRD POINT is to observe what they are doing and to draw some fruit from it.

The FOURTH POINT is to consider that the Divinity which seemed to hide Itself during the Passion, now appears and manifests Itself so miraculously in the most holy Resurrection by its true and most holy effects.

The FIFTH POINT is to consider the office of consoler that Christ Our Lord exercises, comparing it with the way that friends are wont to console one another.

The COLLOQUY:  Conclude with one or more colloquies according to the subject matter and then end with an “Our Father.”

Painting the Scene and Giving Considerations for the Points Above.

Our Lord was buried before the first three stars appeared in the sky on Good Friday.  Our Lady came away from the Holy Sepulchre with St. John.  She knew by Faith that Our Lord would rise again.  Yet, her Sorrowful Heart was torn asunder with grief and she pondered deeply all that had occurred.  She knew what fallen human nature was and she understood better than all other humans what the price of redemption was.  She spent the next thirty-six hours in prayer and reflection. 

Yes, the thirty-six hours that Our Lord’s Body lay in the tomb mark a crucial pivot point in the course of all human history because of His Resurrection which followed.  He proved what He prophesied about Himself – that He would rise after three days.  Our Lord died and was buried on Friday; was in the tomb all of Saturday; and for also part of Sunday, the first day of the week.

From the moment of His conception, Our Lord had all of the powers of a glorified body.  Previously, He hid these powers.  But now, having risen from the dead, He uses those powers.  For example, this means that His Body could pass through material substances.  Thus, it was that He passed through the Holy Winding Sheet and passed through the large stone that was blocking the entrance of the Sepulchre.  Also, He had agility which means that He could move quickly to wherever He wanted to go.  He certainly could go past the guards without them noticing Him.

What happened on Easter morning?  Holy Scripture tells us that there was an earthquake and that an angel came and rolled back the stone and sat upon it.  The angel’s countenance was as lightning, and his raiment was as snow.  “And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men.”  (Matt. 28:4)

Now let us go to the chamber of Our Lady.  She suffered greatly at the foot of the Cross.  Her sweet soul had been pierced by the sword of sorrows as Simeon predicted.  The Church refers to this as her transfixion.  No one could guess what anguish was hers as she watched her Divine Son die on the Cross.

We can imagine that she has spent her time in prayer and reflection.  She meditated upon the entire life of Our Lord.  She considered the Old Testament and saw how all things written about her Son were fulfilled most perfectly.  She thanked God the Father for the Incarnation and the Redemption.  Her heart was full of gratitude and love for the Holy Trinity.  She relived the Passion and Death of her Son while she offered her sufferings in reparation for the sins of mankind.  She was the only one who did not lose the Faith.  Even though she longed to see the triumph of the Resurrection, she knew there was no purpose to go to the sepulcher.  She could anticipate that her Dear Son would come to see her.

How fitting it was that Our Lord should go and console His Mother on Easter morning!

He showed her His triumph.  He greeted His Mother and embraced her—she who by her Fiat became the cause of our joy.  The visit was a long one.  St. Teresa of Avila related in her autobiography that Our Lord revealed to her that Our Lady was so overwhelmed with grief that she would soon have died; and so He remained a long time with her in order to console her.  Because of her great grief, it was not until several moments after He came that she was able to realize, to her immense joy, that He had come.[1]

Can we imagine what beautiful things they said to each other?  Or do we simply imagine that because Mary is the masterpiece of God and her heart already had a mystical union with her Son that they simply spent their time together without any spoken words?  We are free to ponder the scene in different ways and we want to be receptive to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost.  

Certainly, Mary’s heart was full of joy and gladness!  Her soul was enriched more than ever before. 

Maybe Our Lord told her about her future mission among the apostles and the faithful.  Her role as the Mother of the flock is an extremely crucial one.  She would be the one to dispense the graces that He had won through His Passion and Death.  Of course, she would be delighted to serve Him in such a beautiful motherly task.  She would be so happy to nourish her spiritual children and help them as much as possible.   

COLLOQUY:[2]

To Our Lady: Oh, my Mother Mary, you were the first to see Our Lord at His Nativity so it is fitting that you should be the first to see Him in His glorified Body.  I rejoice with you O Mary! 

You were the one who suffered with Him more than anyone, and died a veritable death along with your Son, and you were the only one who kept the Faith, so it is fitting that the greatest joy should be yours.  You suffered so much at the horrifying death of thy Son and now your heart is filled with tremendous joy.  Please help me be ever grateful to thy Son for His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.  Keep me always united to thy Divine Son.

To Our Lord: Oh Dearest Lord, how can I thank Thee enough for Thine Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection!  Thou hast made our Faith so rich with all of these truths.  Thou art so good to us poor creatures!  I thank Thee for giving Thy holy Mother Mary to be our dear Mother who always watches over us.  Please help me be a faithful child of Mary. 

To God the Father: I thank Thee, Dearest Heavenly Father, for the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Thy Divine Son.  I beg Thee to help me always be grateful for my Faith and Thy mercies.  I thank Thee for giving me Mary as my Mother.  Thou knowest how much we need her.

Other apparitions of Our Lord that the exercitant can meditate on are:

·         The apparition to Mary Magdalene

·         The apparition to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus

·         The apparition to Simon Peter

·         The apparition to the apostles in the cenacle without Thomas (Didymus)

·         The apparition to the apostles including Thomas (Didymus)

·         The apparition to the apostles who were fishing

 

In our next Lesson we will meditate on Our Lord’s apparition to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus.



[1]               This is paraphrased from the Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger vol. VII Paschal Time Book I citing the Life of St. Teresa; in the Additions see p. 402 in the translation by David Lewis, 1870.

 

[2]           Of course, this is only a suggestion of a possible colloquy.  The exercitant can compose his own colloquy.

CC in brief — November 2023

Catholic Candle note: Catholic Candle normally examines particular issues thoroughly, at length, using the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the other Doctors of the Church.  By contrast, our feature CC in Brief, gives an extremely short answer to a reader’s question.  We invite readers to submit their own questions.


CC in Brief

Pallbearers at Compromise Funerals

Q:        Can a faithful and informed Catholic be a pallbearer at a funeral taking place at a church of the “new” SSPX (or a different compromise group or priest)?

A:        No.  Some of the men of the Catholic Candle Team have been asked to be pallbearers for funerals conducted in the chapels of a compromise group or priest.  They have politely declined.  We think you should decline too. 

We think that a faithful and informed Catholic should never be a pallbearer at a compromise funeral for two reasons:

1.    It would cause scandal.  We should always avoid scandal, but especially on a gravely serious matter such as this.[1]  People would see us up in the front bringing in the body.  Being part of the activity, they would think that we are approving of this compromise funeral service.

2.    Funerals have a human and Natural Law component to them.[2]  For this reason, it is permitted for us to attend passively and to sit in the back of church without participating in anything except for standing when the body comes in and goes out.  This is done as part of the natural and human aspect of this office of the Natural Law.  But it is a different matter and is a compromise to contribute to (i.e., have a role in) the body being brought to that compromise venue for the purposes of the bad religious service.

We urge you not to be a pallbearer in a compromise funeral.



[1]           Scandal is giving the appearance of evil which makes another person more likely to sin.  Summa, IIa IIae, Q.43, a.1, ad 2.

[2]           Read this article about never participating in a compromise or false religious service: https://catholiccandle.neocities.org/faith/other-than-weddings-and-funerals-we-should-never-attend-any-religious-services-of-compromise-groups-or-false-religions

 

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

An Apostolic Spirit in Times of Great Apostasy

 

As the world becomes more evil, not only should we not cease our efforts to saves the souls of those around us, but we should increase our efforts.

 

Words of Pope St. Gregory the Great, Sermon 18 on St. John’s Gospel.

Lesson #27 – The Passion and Death of Our Lord, Part 2

Mary’s School of Sanctity

Lesson #27  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius –— EXPLANATION OF THE THIRD WEEK OF THE EXERCISES – THE PASSION AND DEATH OF OUR LORD, PART TWO

In this lesson we continue our consideration of the Passion and Death of Our Lord.  We will take the two meditation suggestions of St. Ignatius and focus mainly on the nailing of Our Lord on the Cross and His death on the Cross.  We will use as our framework the one St. Ignatius gave for our first contemplation of the third week and then give considerations on our topic.[1]

The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord  

The preparatory prayer is the same as usual: I ask God Our Lord the grace that all my intentions, actions, and works may be directed purely to the service and praise of the Divine Majesty.

The FIRST PRELUDE is to call to mind the history, which here is how Christ Our Lord was nailed to the Cross, and the time He spent on the Cross.

The SECOND PRELUDE is a mental representation of the place.  Here it will be to consider Calvary, its location outside the city walls of Jerusalem and to consider who is standing at the Foot of the Cross.

The THIRD PRELUDE is to ask for what I desire.  Here it will be to ask for sorrow, grief, and a greater understanding of the tremendous price of sin – to see how the malice of sin is shown in Our Lord’s every suffering.  I ask that in pondering His infinite Love for His Father and His infinite humility, I may increase my love for God.

The FIRST POINT is to visualize the persons at Calvary, and reflecting within myself, to strive to gain some profit from it.

The SECOND POINT is to listen to what they say, and likewise to draw some profit from it.

The THIRD POINT is to observe what they are doing and to draw some fruit from it.

The FOURTH POINT is to consider what Christ Our Lord suffers in His Humanity or wills to suffer, according to the passage that is being contemplated.  Here I will begin with serious effort to strive to grieve, to be sad, and to lament. I will strive in like manner through the following points.

The FIFTH POINT is to consider how the Divinity hides Itself.  That is to say, how It could destroy Its enemies and does not do so, how It leaves the most Sacred Humanity to suffer so cruelly.  There is no pain that He did not take upon Himself because He wants to appease the Wrath of His Father and restore to His Heavenly Father the honor and glory which sin, in its very malice and hatred, hurls at the Father.

The SIXTH POINT is to consider that all the suffering is for my sins which are included in the vast number of all sins, and to consider what I ought to do and suffer for Him.  I must try with all the powers of my soul to throw myself at His Merciful Feet and weep for having offended so Majestic and Beloved a Father.  I must beg for an increase of sorrow so I can obtain an increase in the love of God.

The COLLOQUY: Conclude with a colloquy to Christ Our Lord, and at the end say the “Our Father.”  There are countless things to say to Our Lord.  With so many considerations for this central topic of our Faith, one can easily open his heart and pour forth fervent prayers and tears.  In this meditation, it is important to remember that when the exercitant’s heart is drawn to speak to Our Crucified Lord, considering should stop and the heart should be allowed to speak freely. Below, we will give some samples of sentiments which the exercitant can use if he wishes.

Painting the Scene and Giving Some Considerations.

Our Lord has suffered so many humiliations so far in His Passion, from the ignominious treatment in the Garden and being arrested like a common criminal, to having His garments torn off His Body on Calvary.  We can recall that He has already suffered the bloody scourging of His tender skin which had been prepared for His strikers by His bloody sweat.  His Sacred Head has been crowned with thorns.  “I have given My Body to the strikers, and My cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away My Face from them that rebuked Me, and spit upon Me.” (Isaias 50:6)

He was crowned with a cap of thorns with a rim of reeds to help keep it on His Head.  The Roman soldiers mocked Him as a king and struck His Head and this likewise forced the thorns (which were up to 1 and a 1/2 inches long) to press deep into His skull. [2]  

We naturally recall to our minds the other humiliations that Our Lord suffered  which include His condemnation and His being presented with the Cross (the cross-beam, called the Patibulum)[3] which He had to carry through the narrow streets to Calvary with a hostile crowd jeering at Him all the way.

He fell under the weight of His Cross, showing the heavy weight of all of the malice of our sins.  He met His loving and Sorrowful Mother along the way, yet this meeting only added to His broken Heart.  He also met some pious women of Jerusalem who tried to console Him and He spoke briefly to them and forewarned them about the Fall of Jerusalem.

Simon of Cyrene was forced to help Him carry His Cross because Our Lord showed He was exhausted.

Yes, He willed to suffer these humiliations to repair for the dishonor shown to His Father by all of the sins of the entire human race.  Think about how He foresaw all of this beginning from the moment of His conception in His dear Mother’s womb.  He spent His whole earthly sojourn anticipating all He would suffer and now His hour had come, thus, all was being fulfilled.  “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.” (Phil.2:8)

After reaching the top of Calvary, they stripped Him of His garments.  What an awful scene of humiliation and pain for Him.  All His wounds from the bloody scourging have been torn open.  Think again of the tenderness of His skin, which was caused by His having sweat blood.

The vertical part of the entire cross, the stipes, is fixed in the ground.[4]  The executioners lay Our Lord down with His arms outstretched on the patibulum.  “Because of thy anger and indignation: for having lifted me up thou hast thrown me down.” (Psalm 101:11) He is appeasing the anger of His Father which has been provoked by all the sins of mankind.

Our Lord was, of course, exalted.  His many miracles alone would be sufficient reason to exalt Him and now He is cast down degradingly to the ground.  Look how patiently He obeys His executioners and spreads His arms out to show His great love for His Father.  Remember His Infinite Love in His Divine nature is only for His Father as is fitting because His Father is the only One Who is worthy of this love.  His Human nature, joined to His Divine nature, loves in the maximum degree that any human could ever be capable of, but we must not forget that His Human love is primarily directed to His heavenly Father.  So, the love He directs to His Father is primary and the love that Our Lord has for us is only secondary.  His primary purpose for suffering was to please His Father, and repair the injustice done to His Father.  As a consequence of this reparation, we reap the benefits and are redeemed.  How wonderful are the many results of the work of God’s Providence especially because He works on many levels.

If we could only ponder all of His sufferings, both moral and physical, with these truths just mentioned in mind, our hearts would be struck with awe and gratitude.  Hence, from dwelling on these sufferings, our love of Our Lord would naturally increase.  How beautiful it is that He wanted to show us His Infinite Love for His Father.  He clearly wanted us to understand His relationship with His Father and the love that He and His Father have for each other.  How often He expressed His desire that everyone know that He was sent by His Father, “Now this is eternal life: That they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

The Crucifixion    

Our Lord extended His arms.  An assistant held out one of the arms, with the palm uppermost.  The executioner took hold of the nail which was pointed at its end and had a square head which was 1/3 of an inch thick.  He gave Our Lord’s wrist a prick at the fold at the bottom of the palm.  He gave one single blow with his great hammer and this was enough to fix the nail in the wood.  All he needed to do was to give a few more taps and the nail was fixed firmly.[5]

Think how this nail penetrated the skin, the wrist muscle, and grazed the bones of the wrists, and pierced the Median nerve.  This nerve was not cut in half but pierced through its center which caused Our Lord intense pain.  His furrowed forehead tells of His indescribable pain.  His face contracted in a way which was terrible to behold because of the fiery pain which darted through His fingers like lightning and then shot up His arm like a trail of fire to His shoulder, and then burst into His brain.[6]  He did not cry out. “He opened not His mouth.” (Isaias 53:7) 

He did not faint despite this unfathomable pain.  He willed to be conscious and bear it all because He loves His Father infinitely.  He willed to have His human nature suffer in the extreme. “From the sole of the foot unto the top of the head, there is no soundness therein: wounds and bruises and swelling sores: they are not bound up, nor dressed, nor fomented with oil.” (Isaias 1:6)

In addition, we should note that the laceration of this particular nerve trunk caused His thumb to immediately retract violently into the palm of His Hand and remain fixed there.  (Even when rigor mortis set in, His thumbs were still stuck in this position.)[7]

The raw place on the nerve center remained in contact with the nail and was stretched like a violin string across the nail acting like the bridge.  With every movement, the initial pain which the nail caused when penetrating the nerve was renewed.[8] 

The other wrist was nailed in the same manner as the first, except this time, He knew experientially what to expect.

Because of the angle in which Our Lord’s arms were stretched while He hung on the Cross, the weight that each nail had to bear was about 240 pounds.[9]  We can see what a tremendous burden the weight of all sins is for Him and we can see the horrific malice of every sin!!

Now Our Lord was gotten to His Feet.  The executioner and his assistant move Him backwards and place Him against the stake.  They quickly lift the patibulum on top of the stipes.  With two nails they attached the title of Our Lord’s crime of being the King of the Jews.[10] 

On the Cross, His Body naturally sagged a bit.  Think of the torture of the nerves of His poor wrists being pulled and stretched at every movement.  Then the executioners attached His Sacred Feet to the wood of our salvation.  They bent Our Lord’s knees and placed His left Foot against the Cross and drove a nail through the middle of It.  Then they brought His left Foot in front of His right Foot and by pounding the same nail again, they pierced through the middle of the right Foot and into the wood.  The executioners were very quick in their work.[11]  They then dealt with the two thieves that were killed alongside of Our Lord. “…He was reputed among the wicked…” (Isaias 53:12)  Picture now the three gibbets, side by side, facing the city which killed its God.

With Our Lord’s Body now completely attached to the Cross, we can further study the immensity of His sufferings.  In crucifixion, the victim usually dies of asphyxiation.  How did this happen?  The weight of the body pulled the crucified arms to a position for inspiration which caused the sides to be relatively immobile. This made breathing out very difficult and caused a progressive sense of suffocation.  Since the lungs were in a condition of forced inspiration and unable to empty, normal oxygenation of the circulating blood could not take place and asphyxiation began.  When one is suffering asphyxia, there is in the blood both a major lack of oxygen and too much carbon dioxide.

In order to breathe, the victim used his nailed feet as support, as he straightened his bent knees, lifted the body and brought his arms back to a horizontal position.  The dragging on the hands was reduced and asphyxia temporarily disappeared as respiration was renewed.  Then, because of fatigue, the body would drop and asphyxia would begin again.  With repeated episodes of asphyxiation, the crucified victim soon developed symptoms of tetanus.  Muscle spasms would begin in the forearms, then in the whole arm and then the lower limbs and the trunk.  The muscles would contract and would not relax, namely, they would cramp.  This type of general cramping is also known as tetanus (tetanization).  Hence, this cramping would get so extensive that the person could no longer have the strength to lift himself to get any relief and suffocation would eventually finish him off.  This type of death could take up to two days.[12]

Now let us study Our Lord’s case where He directed His own Passion and Death. “…I lay down My life, that I may take it again.  No man taketh it away from Me: but I lay it down of Myself, and I have power to lay it down: and I have the power take it up again…” (John 10:17-18)

Our Lord’s death didn’t take two days.  It was the great Parasceve and the Lamb of God willed to die that day.  In fact, He had the whole earth put on mourning for Him.  “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over the whole earth, until the ninth hour.” (Matt. 27:45) (Mark 15:33) (Luke 23:44)

We can imagine Our Dear Lord suffering this general cramping of all His muscles, which were bulging.  He breathed shallowly and the air entered with a whistling sound, but scarcely came out any longer.  His Face became flushed and turned a violet purple, and then blue.  His Forehead was covered with sweat.  His Eyes were prominent and rolling.  His Head must have been pounding.  Our Lord lifted Himself as we just described above in order to breathe and in order to relieve the pressure on His Hands.  Remember that the pressure on each crucified wrist was about 240 pounds.  Each time He wanted to breathe or speak He had to lift Himself and pivot on those poor wrist nerves.

The Sacred Arms had two deep furrows in the cramped muscles of the forearms   and in these were two flows of blood.  These indicate this process of lifting to breathe and the dropping with fatigue which occurred all the while Our Lord was on the Cross.  (His fatigue was even greater because of His having been scourged after having an extensive hemorrhage from His bloody sweat.)  His entire chest region was one massive cramp.[13] 

What a price of suffering to pay for the sins of all mankind!  Yet, He willed to speak while on the Cross and suffered more in order to do so.  What did He want to say which He knew would be recorded in the gospels for us to read again and again? When a man is dying, he talks about what is important to him and/or what he wants to be remembered as saying.  Our Lord is God and He shows His compassion for us by leaving us His precious words, His final will and testament, as it were.

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself. (Now this He said, signifying what death He should die.)” (John 12:31-32)

Yes, Our wonderful Savior, like a Magnet of Love, will draw us to Him by His words.  

Examination of Our Lord’s last words:

Imagine the scene of the Crucifixion with the Pharisees, Scribes, and the people standing around the crosses. 

“And the people stood beholding Him, and the rulers with them derided Him, saying: He saved others; let Him save Himself, if he be Christ, the elect of God.

“And the soldiers also mocked Him, coming to Him and offering Him vinegar.  And saying: If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself.” (Luke 23:35-37)

“And they that passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads, and saying: Vah, Thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days buildest it up again; save thyself, coming down from the cross.

“In like manner also the chief priests mocking, said with the scribes one to another: He saved others; Himself he cannot save.  Let Christ the king of Israel come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.  And they that were crucified with Him reviled Him.” (Mark 15:29-32)

“In like manner also the chief priests, with the scribes and ancients, mocking, said: He saved others: Himself He cannot save.  If He be the king of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.  He trusted in God; let Him now deliver Him if He will have Him; for He said: I am the Son of God.

And the selfsame thing the thieves also, that were crucified with Him, reproached Him with.” (Matt. 27:41-44)

What horrifying blasphemies hurled against the Son of God and thereby hurled against God the Father and these gravely insulted the divine love that they have for each other!  What ignorance they show that they have of things spiritual!  What proud blindness they have!  Our Lord knows this and so what does His mercy respond?

 “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Imagine the effect this has on the crowd.  Of course, the Pharisees did not understand forgiveness.  They wouldn’t humble themselves.  Their lives were surrounded with revenge and “an eye for an eye” mentality.  Furthermore, they had envied and hated Our Lord for so long that they could only think of insulting Him.  This was their way of taking revenge.  They were inspired by their father, the devil.

Our Lord was setting an example that we ought to pray for our enemies when He prayed for His.  “Therefore, will I distribute to Him very many, and He shall divide the spoils of the strong, because He hath delivered His soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked: and He hath borne the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors.” (Isaias 53:12)

We must forgive, pity, and pray for our enemies.  We must give our enemies the benefit of the doubt that they are ignorant of the truth.  We must count our blessings and understand that the Faith and truth are undeserved gifts of God.  Furthermore, we must remind ourselves that these gifts are God’s mercy shown to us.  We must be grateful for what we have and not take things for granted.  What God has given, He could certainly take away.  We must beg Him to continue to have mercy on us.  

Unlike the Jews, Dismas showed he was receptive to Our Lord’s words of forgiveness.  The good thief repented and was sorry for his mockery of Christ. “And one of those robbers, who were hanged, blasphemed Him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  And the other answering, rebuked him, saying:  Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil.  And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when Thou shalt come into thy kingdom.” (Luke 23:39-41)

Our Lord is so compassionate to one who humbles himself and admits the truth.  He immediately responds to this repentant thief.

And Jesus said to him: “Amen, I say to you: this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) 

Yes, when Our Lord dies, He descends into hell, the Limbo of the Fathers.  He announces their deliverance to the souls awaiting there.  He knows that soon Dismas will have his legs broken, die, and join Him in Limbo.

Thus, Dismas will be with Christ in Paradise.  As described in St. Matthew’s Gospel the moment of Our Lord’s death, “The graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, came into the city and appeared to many.” (Matt. 27:52-53)

And as Tradition teaches, when Our Lord ascended into heaven, the souls of the just went with Him into heaven.[14]

We know that Our Dear Mother Mary stood at the foot of the Cross with St. John the Apostle and Mary Magdalene.  What anguish it was for her to see her Son suffer so!  She had been infused with so much knowledge and she is the Virgin of virgins, most pure.  Because of her infused knowledge and the prerogatives God had blessed her with, she understood the tremendous deed her Son was accomplishing and the justice He was fulfilling in order to open the gates of heaven.  She understood, as much as a human could, His love for His Father.  She knew the Scriptures well and was perhaps even reciting in her mind Psalm 21, which prophesied His Passion.  The Pharisees’ “Vah” still rang in her ears as she pondered how this Scripture was being fulfilled before her very eyes.

Her Immaculate Heart ached at the blasphemies and evil around her.  She shared her Son’s ignominy with Him.  No doubt the Pharisees and crowd mocked His Mother as well.  She suffered to see Him suffer physically and she could surmise what mental anguish must have been His.  Tradition calls her the Queen of Martyrs because she suffered a veritable martyr’s death alongside of her Son.  Their Hearts were so united in their mission of redemption.  From the moment of her “Fiat,” she was most likely anticipating what would happen to Him as the Savior Who would become the Paschal Lamb.  She was pleased to suffer with Him.

Our Lord looked down from the Cross.

“When Jesus therefore, saw His Mother and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith to His Mother, “Woman, behold thy son.””(John 19:26)

Why did He call her Woman?  This refers back to the promise of the Redeemer that God gave when He spoke to Satan after Adam’s Fall.  “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”

Mary is that Woman that crushes Satan with the death of her Divine Son on the Cross.  Mary is God’s Masterpiece Who He created without original sin so she could be the fitting Mother of His Son.  He chose her to supply the human matter for the Incarnation.  On the Cross Our Lord bequeathed her to us by giving her to St. John who represents baptized Catholics.  Thus, she is the Mother of the members of the Mystical Body of Christ as she was the Mother of the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Those who are not baptized Catholics are in the family of the serpent.  Those who are baptized are in the Mystical Body and hence children of Mary.  God made her the Mediatrix of all graces and allowed her, in her finite nature, to join in the redemptive suffering of His Divine Son.  So it is that we call her the Co-Redemptrix, certainly not making her equal to her Divine Son, but recognizing her sorrows, anguish, and pain at the Foot of the Cross.  She willingly accepted St. John and us as well, as her children.  Her tender Immaculate Heart united with the Holy Will of the Trinity and wants to accomplish the work of the Redemption of the Elect.

Then Our Lord completed the bequest.

“After that, He saith to the disciple, ‘Behold thy Mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own.” (John 19:27)

Antiquity tells us that St. John was the youngest apostle, about 17 years old at the beginning of Our Lord’s public life.  He was innocent and a virgin.  He refers to himself, modestly, as the beloved disciple.  Our Lord allowed him to lay his head on His Bosom at the Last Supper.  He followed Our Lord into the houses of Annas and Caiphas, and so, it does not surprise us that we find him at the Foot of the Cross.  Although he, like the other apostles, lost the Faith, he was the first to recover it on Easter morning.  “Then the other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre:  and he saw, and believed.  For as yet they knew not the scripture that He must rise again from the dead.” (John 20:8-9)

He took care of Mary throughout the remainder of her life on earth.  He obeyed her as if she were his mother.  He was privileged to witness the death of Our Lord and write the last account of the Gospel[15] as well as three epistles and the Apocalypse. 

Imagine the scene in which this interchange took place.  Let us not forget the intense darkness that was upon the whole world.[16]  God allowed nature to be affected by the Deicide which was occurring.

“And when the sixth hour was come there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour.[17]  And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani?, which is being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Mark 15:34)  In Latin, Deus meus, Deus meus, quare me dereliquisti?

It is remarkable to note that these very words are the beginning of Psalm 21.  One cannot help wondering what Our Blessed Mother must have thought and felt at hearing that urgent cry of her Dear heart-stricken Son.  The words of the entire Psalm probably went through her mind and oh, what heart-rending thrusts must have been plunged into her heart especially where this psalm refers to His Mother!

This psalm and others speak of the exquisite moral suffering Our Lord endured on the Cross.  He felt with keen awareness the gravity of sin.  He felt the immense wrath His Father has towards sin.  His Father hates sin.  Our Lord “became sin” to repair the injustice caused by sin.[18]  How can the Divine Father hate the Divine Son?  It is true that it is impossible for the Divine Father to hate the Divine Son and yet in some mysterious way Our Lord allowed His Human Soul to feel completely abandoned by the Father and to block the Beatific Vision that His Human Soul always saw and enjoyed.

Thus, the following words from the depths of the Word Incarnate as He suffered this moral pain on the Cross.

“There is no health in My Flesh, because of Thy wrath: there is no peace for My bones, because of My sins.  For My iniquities are gone over My Head: and as a heavy burden are become heavy upon Me.” (Ps. 37: 4-5)

“My Heart is troubled, My strength hath left Me, and the Light of My Eyes itself is not with Me.” (Ps. 37:11)

The light of My eyes itself is not with Me could be taken as His vision of His Father seems gone or He did not allow Himself to feel any joy or consolation from It.  He willed to suffer the absolute most that one could suffer both physically and spiritually.

“Save me, O God: for the waters are come in even unto My soul.  I stick fast in the mire of the deep: and there is no sure standing.  I am come into the depth of the sea: and a tempest hath overwhelmed Me.” (Ps. 68:2-3)

“For My soul is filled with evils: and My life hath drawn nigh to hell.  I am counted among them that go down to the pit: I am become as a man without help, free among the dead…  They have laid Me in the lower pit: in the dark places, and in the shadow of death.  Thy wrath has come strong over Me: and all thy waves Thou hast brought in upon Me.  Thou hast put away My acquaintances far from Me: they have set Me an abomination to themselves.  I was delivered up, and came not forth: My Eyes languished through poverty.  All the day I cried to Thee, O Lord: I stretched out My Hands to Thee.”  (Ps. 87: 4-10)

“Thy wrath hath come upon Me: and Thy terrors have troubled Me.  They have come round about Me like water all the day: they have compassed Me about together.” (Ps. 87:18-19)

“I am a worm and no man: a reproach of men and the outcast of the people.” (Ps. 21:7)

“For tribulation is very near: for there is none to help Me.” (Ps.21:12)

We can see from these quotes how He felt so abandoned by God and so very alone.  He did not despair, but felt the horrors of the soul close to despair.  Yet, He set the example that one should never give up begging God for help, through humble prayer.

His next words and the quotes which follow shed more light on His physical suffering.   

“I thirst.” (John 19:28)

Again this harkens back to Ps. 21. 

“I am poured out like water and all My bones are scattered.” (Ps. 21:15)

“My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue cleaveth to My jaws: and Thou hast brought Me into the dust of Death.” (Ps.21:16)

“They have pierced My Hands and My Feet: they have numbered all My bones.” (Ps.21:17)

“My Heart is like melting wax in the midst of My bowels.” (Ps. 21:15)

These quotes bespeak of Our Lord’s great thirst and physical torment.  His bloody sweat, His scourging which was so severe, especially in the region of His Heart, and the tetanization of His muscles all were causes of great thirst.

Furthermore, Our Lord thirsted for souls.  He saw how the majority of souls do not care about Him.  His Sacred Heart is truly a furnace of Charity.  As St. John saw when they pierced Our Lord’s side that blood and water came out.  This water was really pericardial water from the sac that envelops the Heart.  The heart muscle was inflamed and swollen and the sac had extra fluid in it because this is the way in which the body protects the heart.  Having this extra fluid in the pericardial sac held the heart in a manner similar to a vise.

Remember He willed to suffer to the maximum intensity that a perfect human being could suffer.  Why? Because He wanted to prove to us how much He loved His Father!

But what is His thirst like?

For a parent to see wayward and confused children; and/or for one to see confused and worldly relatives and friends; to see so many souls being corrupted daily in the world around us, and to understand what they all are missing, namely, a sweet tender friendship with Our compassionate Lord and Savior— what spiritual torture this is for that soul!   Now think how Our Lord saw all souls and every aspect about them from the beginning of time to the end of time.  Oh what extreme agony for Him to bear!!!  Where is their salvation?  Why do they not love Him?  Why do they not see what He is lovingly suffering?  Why are they throwing away the happiness He was so willing to give them?  Those who love Him and ponder this aspect ought to shudder with fear and grateful humility lest they, too, become callous to His pain and His friendship.  We must cling to Him and constantly thank Him and beg Him for His continued mercies and the sight to see Him and appreciate Him.   

“It is consummated.” (John 19:30)

“I have glorified Thee on earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now glorify Thou Me, O Father, with Thyself, with the glory which I had before the world was, with Thee.”  (John 17: 4-5)  Our Lord is basically announcing that the Chalice of suffering which His heavenly Father gave Him to drink is now fully drunk.  All sin has been atoned for and His Father is now appeased.  His honor has been regained.  The elect have been paid for.  The Father gave the Elect to His Son and now the Son has done what was required of Him to save the Elect and give them back to the Father.

“Father, into Thy Hands I commend My spirit.”  (Luke 23:46)

“And Jesus crying with a loud voice, said, Father, into Thy Hands I commend My spirit.  And saying this, He gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46)

Note that Our Lord went back to calling His Father by His name.  Before the sacrifice of reparation was complete, He felt the Wrath of His heavenly Father and now that the reparation was finished, He no longer feels the wrath.  He is ready to give up His Human Soul.  Note too, that He decides the moment when His sacrifice is complete and He will die. “…I lay down My life, that I may take it again.  No man taketh it away from Me: but I lay it down of Myself, and I have power to lay it down: and I have the power take it up again…” (John 10:17-18)

As we said above, the one crucified ultimately dies of suffocation because when he is so fatigued as to not be able to hold himself up anymore, asphyxia overtakes him. 

Our Lord called out with a loud voice yielding up His Soul which means He was not dying of suffocation.  This is one of the things that impressed the Centurion who said, “Indeed this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:39)

This is a profound scene because of all the things which occurred… “The veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent.” (Matt. 27:51)

“And all the multitude of them that were come together to that sight, and saw the things that were done, returned striking their breasts.” (Luke 23:48)

With this we now turn to our colloquy suggestions. 

Colloquy Suggestions: to Our Lord and to Our Lady

To Our Lord:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Oh, my Dear Merciful Lord, I admire Thy readiness to forgive.  Please help me imitate Thine example.  Because I am so quick to criticize and judge others, I need to stop and reflect how merciful Thou hast been to my poor soul.  Help me consider the difficulties that others have and show patience to them.  Help me to forgive those who misjudge me especially when I try to follow the principles that Thou hast shown me.

“Amen, I say to you: this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise.”

My dearest Jesus, how I long for Thee to say this to me, yet I am so unworthy.  How many times have I been ungenerous in my service of Thee?  I desire to amend my ways and from hence forward follow Thee more faithfully.  Thy words to Dismas give me hope and courage that I can change and build proper habits of virtue.  I thank Thee for Thine example of Mercy to him.

“Woman, behold thy son.”      “Behold thy Mother.”

Oh, most compassionate Savior, how can I thank Thee for giving me such a loving and tender Mother?  I know that she will take good care of all my needs.  She will teach me her ways.  I am so unworthy of such a holy Mother.  Please help me be a docile child of her who is the Mediatrix of all graces.

 To Our Lady: Dearest Mother, bequeathed to me at the Foot of the Cross of thy Divine Son, I admire thy strength and faithfulness.  Help me dear Mother to be faithful to thy Son.  Help me ponder His sufferings both moral and physical.

Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani?, which is being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?

Oh my suffering Jesus, when I ponder Thy sorrowful plea to Thy Father, my heart aches with love for Thee.  Thou wast poured out like water.  Poured, not trickled out.  Thou gave everything to prove to me Thy Infinite Love for Thy Father.  What more could Thou have done?  All Thy sufferings were in the most extreme measure that a man could bear and Thou are The Perfect Man!  I am amazed when I think of how Thou didst plan every detail of how Thou could be humiliated the most and how every aspect of Thy physical pain could be the maximum.  I cannot thank Thee enough for Thy examples which make Thy Cross a special school of sanctity.

“I thirst.”

When I ponder the many aspects of Thy thirst, O Lord, I cannot help loving Thee more and more.  Thy physical thirst was horrific, of course, but when I think deeply about Thy moral thirst for souls, I am caught up in the torrent of Thy beautiful thirst.  I can understand how Thou hast great desire to save souls.  Thou hast inspired this thirst in me and I thank Thee for it with my whole heart.  Please help me share Thy thirst with Thee.

“It is consummated.”    “Father, into Thy Hands I commend My spirit.”  Oh, my dying Jesus, how noble Thou art!  I can see the Majesty of Thy Holy Face.[19] How can I thank Thee for all Thou hast done for me?  I beg Thee to help me die worthily to be able to say to Thee, “into Thy Hands I commend my soul.”   

Our next lesson will be an explanation of St. Ignatius’s Fourth Week which includes the contemplation on Our Lord’s Resurrection.



[1]           The Scriptural texts that pertain to this meditation are Matt. 27:35-39; Mark 15:24-38; Luke 23:34-46; John 19:23-37.

[2]           This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

[3]           This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

[4]           This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

[5]           This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

 

[6]           This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

[7]           This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

[8]           This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

[9]           This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

[10]         This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

[11]         This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

[12]         This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971.

[13]         This information is based on the researched and reported information about the Holy Shroud of Turin found both in Dr. Pierre Barbet’s book, A Doctor at Calvary and an article entitled the Testimony of the Holy Shroud published by POPE (Parents for Orthodoxy in Parochial Education), May, 1971. One can notice on the full figure of the Holy Shroud how the entire body seemed to be one cramp.  The breast cavity looks enlarged and the breast muscles are rigid in a convulsive cramp.

[14]         Of course, we know from our catechism that Limbo still exists and will exist forever for all those souls not in the state of grace, who died before they could use their reason or who were never capable of using their reason.  Of course, this includes the unborn.  Limbo is a state of natural happiness where the souls are deprived of ever having the beatific Vision.  Although limbo is in hell, it is not in the hell of the damned.  The Church has consistently taught that parents have a grave moral responsibility to have their infants baptized as soon as possible so as to not deprive them of sanctifying grace which is essential for salvation.

[15]         It is interesting to note that St. John’s Gospel focuses on the Divinity of Christ and is the only account which gives us Our Lord’s precious words at His final discourse and prayer for the Church.

[16]         Here is the eye-witness account that St. Dionysius the Areopagite wrote about this event to his fellow eye-witness, St. Polycarp:

When we were together at Heliopolis [ancient city, in Egypt, 6 miles northeast of Cairo] we both observed such an interference of the moon with the sun quite unexpectedly, for it was not the season of their conjunction; and then from the ninth hour until evening, beyond the power of nature, continuing in a direct line between us and the sun.  And this obscuration we saw begin from the east, and so pass to the extreme of the sun’s orb, and again return back the same way, being thus the very reverse of an ordinary eclipse.

Epistle of St. Dionysius the Areopagite to St. Polycarp, quoted in the Catena Aurea on St. Matthew’s Gospel, ch.27, v.45, by St. Thomas Aquinas.

This eye-witness account is one example of the historical documentation of this extraordinary darkness which covered the whole earth.

[17]         These are the Jewish hours of the day and correspond to sext (i.e., twelve noon) and none (i.e., three o’clock in the afternoon).

[18]         “For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing to them their sins; and He hast placed in us the word of reconciliation.  For Christ therefore we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us.  For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.  Him, Who knew no sin, He hath made sin for us, that we might be made the justice of God in Him.” (2nd Corinthians 5:19-21)  Of course, St. Paul is speaking about Our Lord being a sin offering because Our Lord is the true Paschal Lamb.

[19]         It is wonderful to note that the Face on the Holy Shroud has the citation “EX 314” at Our Lord’s upper right-hand corner of His Mouth. (EX 3:14 –“I am Who am.”)

And by turning the Face upside down one can see the Chalice with the Precious Blood in It in His beard.

Are You One in a Million?  Not so.

No, you are one in billions.  Even so, God deals with each one of us, one-on-one, out of billions and billions of people.  There are so many people in the world, and God watches over you just as if you were the only person.  He knows when a single hair falls from your head and is aware of every event in your life.

We are completely dependent on God: 

[T]he world is essentially dependent on God, and this dependence implies in the first place that God is the Creator of the world – the producer of its whole being or substance – and in the next place, supposing[1] its production, and that its continuance in being at every moment is due to His sustaining power.[2]

Nothing happens in the universe without God willing or at least allowing it.  Although God never wills for people to sin, even sin He allows for his greater glory by bringing good out of the evil of sin.  Whatever happens which is outside of our control, is God’s will for us.  This is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, “and God intervenes everywhere.”[3]

We should see Divine Providence in every step of our lives:

All that happens to us in this world against our will (whether due to men or to other causes) happens to us only by the will of God, by the disposal of Providence, by His orders and under His guidance, and if from the frailty of our understanding we cannot grasp the reason for some event, let us attribute it to Divine Providence, show Him some respect by accepting it from His Hand, and believe firmly that He does not send it (to) us without cause.[4]

We must understand Divine Providence better:

Divine Providence may be defined as the scheme in the Divine Mind by which all things treated [i.e., everything] are ordered and guided efficiently to a common end or purpose.  …  It includes an Act of Intellect and an Act of Will,[5] in other words, knowledge and power.  And that there is such a thing as Divine Providence by which the entire universe is ruled clearly follows from the fact that God is the author of all things, and that order and purpose must characterize the action of an intelligent Creator. [6]

Without a doubt God wants us to be happy on earth and with Him in heaven for all eternity.  Divine Providence helps us to live our lives and prepare us for our Particular Judgment, which is the first event to occur after we die.  God will be the Judge and we will have to account for our every thought, word, act, and omission of our entire life.  If we fail to make the grade, so to speak, it will be our own fault because God is most willing to help if we only ask, and if we live our life as we know He wants us to.

He gives us tools and gifts to accomplish this.  However, we are cautioned not to misuse these gifts.

If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends because they are powerful, but in God Who gives all things and Who desires above all to give Himself.  Do not boast of personal stature or of physical beauty, qualities which are marred and destroyed by a little sickness.  Do not take pride in your talent or ability, lest you displease God to Whom belongs all the natural gifts that you have.[7]

It is easy to see the world is an evil mess, in dire need of uncompromising traditional Catholics to demonstrate with much prayer and sacrifice what it takes to help reverse the evil trends.  You may be ridiculed but with God’s help, your zeal to carry on will increase.  We are here on earth for a very short time, compared to eternity, so we must use every minute to live according to God’s will, and avoid even the smallest sin. 

God bless the Catholic Candle’s readers!



[1]           In other words, given the fact that God did make the world.

[2]           Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909, Robert Appleton Company, Vol. 6, p.614.

[3]           Cf., Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J., and Blessed Claude De La Colombière, S.J., TAN Books, Rockford, Ill., 1983, Part I, p.14.

[4]           Cf., Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J., and Blessed Claude De La Colombière, S.J., TAN Books, Rockford, Ill., 1983, Part I, p.17-18.

 

[5]           Of course, in God, these “two” acts are really a single act, which is God’s only act and is God Himself, because He is entirely simple.  The Catholic Encyclopedia is calling them two acts because of the way we consider it in human terms.  This is like we say God is just and is merciful but those “two” virtues in God are really one virtue which is the same as God Himself.  Summa, Ia, Q.3, a.7.

[6]           Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909, Robert Appleton Company, Vol. 6, p.620 (bracketed word added for clarity).

[7]           Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis; Book I, Ch.8.

Words to Live by – from Catholic Tradition

The Month of the Holy Rosary is upon us!

In 1481, Our Lady appeared to Venerable Dominic, the Carthusian … and said to him: “Whenever one of the faithful who is in a state of grace says the Rosary while meditating on the mysteries of the life and passion of Jesus Christ, he obtains full and entire remission of all his sins.”

Our Lady also said to Blessed Alan [de la Roche]: “I want you to know that although there are numerous indulgences already attached to the recitation of my Rosary, I shall add many more to every fifty Hail Marys (each group of five decades) for those who say them devoutly, on their knees – being, of course, free from mortal sin.  And whosoever shall persevere in the devotion of the Holy Rosary, saying these prayers and meditations, shall be rewarded for it; I shall obtain for him full remission of the penalty and of the guilt of all his sins at the end of his life.”

The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis Marie Grignone de Monfort, Ch. 28, Twenty-eighth Rose, pages 78 and 79.