Lesson #35 About the Temperaments – further reasons why we study them

Philosophy Notes

Mary’s School of Sanctity

Lesson #35 About the temperaments – further reasons why we study them

More about why we study the temperaments – what’s the point?

Because we humans were made to praise, revere, and serve God[1], and because we carry out this precept in the way we deal with our neighbor, it is important to try to understand ourselves and our neighbor well.  To better understand our neighbor, we should start with self-knowledge, which includes knowing our own inclinations.

We can and do know that by our fallen human nature we humans have general tendencies, i.e. concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life,[2]  but we must not forget that each of us also has his own natural dispositions and inclinations.   Hence, we study the inclinations people naturally have when we study the basic four temperaments.  One important aspect of our study of the temperaments, AND a goal we have in our study, is to find our own strengths and weaknesses and to use our strengths to overcome our weaknesses.  This is a means to our perfection. 

Each of the temperaments has a set of typically found strengths and weaknesses.  So, our challenge in our life is to work out our salvation by discovering our strengths and weaknesses, and with God’s help, of course, to use our strengths to overcome our weaknesses.  Thus, God intends for us to hew away at the things of our temperaments which are not favorable to a charitable relationship with Him and our neighbor.  In this way, too, He wills us to use the God-given strengths we have to glorify Him.  This is indeed what the saints did.[3]

Therefore, when we study the temperaments, we can come to better appreciation of our neighbor by recognizing his temperament and thereby seeing how we can work more harmoniously with him.  Another beneficial aspect of this knowledge is that it helps us to avoid rashly judging our neighbor, and in turn, this fosters our practice of compassionating our neighbor.   

With all this in mind, we can easily see that there are many good reasons to learn about the four basic temperaments and the possible combinations of these, and how people with the temperaments interact with each other.

One important additional consideration to make is to reflect upon Our Lord and Our Lady.  Both Our Lord and Our Lady had in their genetic make-up a perfect mixture of the four temperaments.  How do we know this?  They were both immaculately conceived and without any stain of sin for the entire duration of their lives.   It is also fitting that they would both be a perfect blend and balance of the four temperaments and would have nothing that would stand out as a genetic weakness.  God intended that they both would be models for us to imitate.

Setting forth the overall scheme of looking at each of the temperaments.

·         For each temperament, we will set out a listing of its general strengths and weaknesses.

 

·         We will discuss how a person with each temperament, who is of good will, uses the strengths to overcome the weaknesses.

 

·         We will discuss how a person with each temperament, who is of bad will, does not use the strengths to overcome the weaknesses.

 

·         We will discuss aspects of the prayer life/spiritual life of each temperament.

 

·         We will discuss the typical temptations which impact each temperament and how the temptations can be counteracted.

 In our next lesson, we will begin our treatment of the choleric temperament



[1]           See the series on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, especially these two articles:

 

v  https://catholiccandle.org/2022/05/24/lesson-9-the-principle-and-foundation-part-i/

 

v  https://catholiccandle.org/2022/06/27/lesson-11-the-principle-and-foundation-part-ii/

 

[2]           “For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life…”  1 John, 2:16.

 

[3]           One well known example of saintly reform is St. Vincent de Paul.  He was known for his choleric temper but he mastered himself so well that he was thought to be phlegmatic. 

Lesson #35 About the Temperaments – An Introduction

Philosophy Notes

Mary’s School of Sanctity

Lesson #34  About the Temperaments – An Introduction

There are many things one can say about the subject of temperaments.  In the next series of lessons, we will be investigating this topic.  We will set about probing the following questions:

1.    What is the definition of temperament?

2.    What is the definition of character?

 

3.    What is the definition of personality?

4.    Why do we bother learning about temperaments?

a.    Because we can know ourselves better by knowing our own temperament.

b.    Because the knowledge of temperaments can help us understand others    better and, thus, improve our relationships with other people.

5.    Can knowing one’s own temperament help a person with the work he must do for his salvation?

 

a.    Yes, because one can see the typical strengths and weaknesses of his temperament and thus, he can see how to foster the strengths of his temperament in order to overcome his weaknesses.

b.    Yes, because a person’s temperament will incline him to view spirituality in a particular way.

 

6.    Can understanding the temperaments help parents and others in positions of authority guide those in their care?

a.    Yes, understanding the temperaments can help superiors see the best way to deal with those in their care.

b.    Yes, superiors can teach those in their care about the temperaments and help them to understand how to use strengths to overcome weaknesses.

7.    Can understanding the temperaments help spouses live more harmoniously together?

a.    Yes, the couple can get along better by knowing how the particular temperaments interact with each other.

b.    Yes, the couple can also strategize better in the raising of their children by observing and studying the temperaments of their children.

8.    Can understanding the temperaments help a young adult find a more compatible spouse?

a.    Yes, because the young adult will be able to find out what temperament might best suit his/her own.

b.    Yes, knowing the temperaments will help the young adult see how crucial it is to find a compatible spouse and one who is working with the strengths of his/her temperament to overcome the weaknesses of that temperament. 

Getting started – 1) What is the definition of temperament?

We learn in our catechism that man is composed of body and soul.  The body is made of matter and the soul is spiritual.  Each human souls are created like every other one, although each soul is a separate creation of God.  At conception, when the parts of matter are united, God creates the soul which informs that particular matter.  Therefore, souls are individualized by the matter in which they are placed.  Each person has a separate soul in separate matter.

With this information in mind, we can begin our investigation of the matter which distinguishes persons[1] and determines a person’s temperament.  This matter is genetic and so our temperaments are derived from the genetic code which we inherit from our parents.  Each temperament has a typical set of traits. 

The word temperament comes from the Latin word temperamentum, meaning “a mixing in due proportion” and this word in turn comes from the Latin word tempare, meaning “to combine or mingle in due proportion.”  Temperament refers to “the peculiar physical and mental character of an individual, as the sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric (or bilious), or melancholic temperament, denoted types formerly believed to be due the preponderance of one or the other of these humors; Frame of mind or type of mental reactions characteristic of an individual”.[2]  

The humors referred to here are “In old physiology, a fluid or juice, especially one of the four fluids—blood, phlegm, choler (yellow bile), and melancholy (black bile)—conceived as disposition or state of mind; mood.”[3]

Hence, it is with reference to these four bodily humors that there springs the idea of the four basic temperaments listed below:

Sanguine –very generous, giving all [characterized by having an abundant circulation of blood; warm; ardent; disposed to be hopeful; anticipating the best.

Melancholic [melas-anos, black + chole, gall, bile] a thick, dark, acrid bile formerly imagined to be a secretion of the kidneys or spleen, and the cause of gloominess, irascibility, or mental dejection, later, extreme depression of spirits, painful delusions, or brooding [Sadness].

Choleric [characterized by choler or bile] hot-tempered, easily angered or irritated, also angry.

Phlegmatic [one of the four “humors” of early physiology.] It was supposed to be cold and moist, and to cause sluggishness.  Sluggishness of temperament; apathy; calmness, equanimity.[4]

There are various schools of thought of how these humors actually influence our bodies and determine what temperament we each have.  Nevertheless, these humors can be thought of as follows:

Fourfold classification seems fairly to represent certain markedly contrasted types of disposition, though they leave room for subdivision and intermediate forms. Moreover, though scientists are still far from being agreed as to the precise elements in the organism on which the temperament depends, the fact that different forms of temperament have an organic basis seems certain.  The transmission from parent to offspring of hereditary dispositions, therefore, involves no conflict with the doctrine of the creation of each human soul.[5]


2) What is the definition of character?

The Catholic Encyclopedia discusses character as follows:

Although our original temperament is thus given to us independently of our will, we ourselves play an important part in the molding of our character, and we thus become responsible for certain ethical qualities in it.  Character has been defined as “a completely fashioned will.”  It would be more accurate to say that character is “natural temperament completely fashioned by our will.”  It is in fact, a resultant of the combination of our acquired habits with our original disposition [temperament] ….

Among the acquired elements to which the building up of character may be distinguished are those pertaining to cognition, whether sensuous or intellectual, and those belonging to the emotional and volitional activities of the soul.  Exercise strengthens the power and widens the range of each faculty, creating, not uncommonly, a craving for further exercise in the same direction.  The regular use of the intellect, the reflection, contributes to the formation of habits of mind more or less thoughtful and refined. The frequent indulgence in particular forms of emotion, such as anger, envy, sympathy, melancholy, fear, and the like fosters tendencies towards these sentiments which give a subconscious bent to a large part of man’s behavior.  But finally, the exercise of the will plays the predominant part in molding the type of character which is being formed.   The manner and degree in which currents of thought and waves of emotion are initiated, guided, and controlled by the will, or allowed to follow the course of spontaneous impulse, has not less effect in determining the resultant type of character than the quality of the thoughts or emotions themselves.  The life of the lower animal is entirely ruled by instinct within, and by accidental circumstances from without.   It is therefore incapable of acquiring a character.  Man, through the awakening of reason and the growth of reflection, by the exercise of deliberate choice against the movements of impulse, gradually develops self-control; and it is by the exercise of this power that moral character is especially formed.  Character is in fact the outcome of a series of volitions, and it is for this reason we are responsible for our characters, as we are for the individual habits which go to constitute them [viz., characters].[6]


3) What is the definition of personality?

Personality is: 1) Quality or state of being personal, or of being a person; personal existence or identity. 2) Quality of referring directly to an individual. 3) Distinction or excellence of personal and social traits.[7]

Personality also applies to the aggregate of qualities which distinguish an individual, but the term differs from character in that it implies his [the individual’s] being distinguished as a person rather than as a moral being.   In general, personality may be said to be revealed in unconscious as well as in conscious acts or movements, in physical and emotional as well as in mental and moral behavior, and especially, in a person’s relations to others; thus, one may know very little about the character of an acquaintance, yet have a very definite idea of his personality.   Therefore, personality is qualified as not as good, bad, or the like, but by an adjective implying the extent to which it pleases, displeases, or otherwise impresses the observer.  …Hence, personality often distinctively means personal magnetism or charm.[8] 

Now that we have made the necessary distinctions concerning these three words, that is, temperament, character, and personality, let us briefly consider our 4th question from above.


4) Why do we bother learning about temperaments?

    a) Because we can know ourselves better by knowing our own temperament.

     b) Because the knowledge of temperaments can help us understand others    better and thus improve our relationships with our neighbors.

With our fallen human nature, we are not inclined to want to know ourselves better. We have a kind of fear to see our defects, but self-knowledge has been spoken of by the saints repeatedly as being a very crucial part of our salvation and sanctification.  Acquiring self-knowledge is worth all the efforts one can make—especially because it helps us obtain humility.  Self-knowledge of the inclinations found in our temperament and knowledge of the tendencies of other people help us to avoid misjudging others.  In addition to this favorable result, we can make more allowances for others and also be more forgiving of others. 


So, let’s set about getting to know ourselves.

We have given the classes or types of temperaments that are most commonly spoken of.  Of course, there have been many who have studied the temperaments and have tried to classify them into more subdivisions with different names.  Each of us has a primary temperament and a secondary one.  In other words, we are usually a combination of two temperaments with one of them being predominant in us and the other one a clear second. What percentage is our predominant temperament?  We will need to study all four temperaments in order to discover our combination.

In upcoming Lessons concerning temperaments:

We will be discussing each of the four historically accepted temperaments incorporating the list of queries noted above.  We will likewise endeavor to give the spiritual difficulties that each temperament has as well as its positive spiritual traits. We will discuss the typical combinations found of the four types of temperaments.  In this way we can improve our interactions with others, discover our own temperament if we do not already know it, and assist ourselves in our life’s work, namely, the salvation or our souls.  After treating each of the four temperaments we will supply a couple of comparative charts so all the temperaments can be viewed side by side for analysis and a better understanding of how they interact.

 



[1]           St. Thomas defines a person as an individual substance of an intellectual nature.  Therefore, only humans and angels can properly be called persons.  The Divine Persons have a different definition unique to the Essence of the Trinity, and these Persons are not being discussed here.

[2]           This definition is taken from the Merriam-Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1949.

[3]           All four of these definitions are taken from the Merriam-Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1949.

[4]           These definitions are taken from the Merriam-Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1949.

 

[5]           Taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913 edition, under the article entitled Character.

[6]           Taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913 edition, from the article entitled Character, (bold added for emphasis; bracketed words added for clarity).

[7]           These definitions are taken from the Merriam-Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1949.

[8]           This quote is taken from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms copyright 1951, found under disposition.

Lesson #34 Afterword on the Spiritual Exercises

Philosophy Notes

Mary’s School of Sanctity

A Reflection on Mary and the Principle and Foundation

Having finished the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, let us take this lesson to reflect on how Our Dear Mother Mary lived the Principle and Foundation to perfection. 

First we will need to recall the actual text that St. Ignatius gives us for the Principle and Foundation:

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.  All other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him fulfill the end for which he is created.  From this it follows that man is to use these things to the extent that they will help him to attain his end.  Likewise, he must rid himself of them insofar as they prevent him from attaining it.

Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, insofar as it is left to the choice of our free will and is not forbidden.  Acting accordingly, for our part, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short one, and so in all things we should desire and choose only those things which will best help us attain the end for which we are created.

Our Catechism teaches us that the chief creatures of God are angels and men.  We say “chief creatures” because both angels and men were created with an intellectual power.  Angels and men are the type of creatures that can know God, not as He comprehends Himself, but understanding God is the Supreme Being with His infinite perfections.  When we humans ponder our ability to know God, we can see that it is astounding that God gave us such a wonderful capacity.

Man’s highest faculties are his intellect and his will.  He must use these powers to praise, revere, and serve God his Creator.  The more a man uses his will and intellect properly, the better he serves God.  In fact, God wants man to perfect his intellect.

But how does man perfect his intellect?  He pursues truth and studies it.  He is able to look at and study divinely revealed truths.  He also needs to look at the world around him in order to examine it through his senses and discover reality on many levels. [Romans 1:20][1]

In addition to learning through observation and study, man can learn by God infusing truth in him.[2]  God has done this wonderful thing to His saints.  He did this on the highest level for Mary.

Now let us consider some additional facts in order to better see God’s magnificent plan for Mary and for us.  The angels also were created with the moral obligation to praise, revere, and serve God.  There intellects are far superior to ours.  

Lucifer was the highest angel and had the strongest intellect of all the angels.  Yet, in his pride and abusing his free-will, he failed the test that God put forth to the angels.  We are not sure of the exact nature of the test, but one could think that Lucifer and one-third[3] of the total number of angels refused to accept the fact that God would become incarnate as Man.  Not only this, but also the angels would have to serve God made man and His Holy Mother who was merely a human – a woman at that.[4]  Therefore, Lucifer failed to fulfill the purpose for which he was created.

Let us contrast his failure with Mary.  Mary is God’s masterpiece and she fulfills His Plan the best.  We must remember that God gave her all of her prerogatives because God chose her to be His Mother.  God loves Mary more than He loves all the angels and saints put together.  God gave her more knowledge and virtue than all the angels and saints put together.  She took Lucifer’s place, as it were.  Thus, it is not surprising that Satan hates her and her humility, her exact obedience, and the fact that God has given such power and majesty to her.  Satan hates the fact, too, that God made her our Mother, our model and our protectress. 

Let us reflect how she followed the Principle and Foundation perfectly.  She praised God from the moment of her Immaculate Conception.  She had perfect use of her reason from that moment.  She spent her earthly life always in the deepest contemplation of God and His truths.

Her love for God exceeds the love for Him of all of the angels and the other saints combined.  As a result, she revered God the most during her earthly sojourn.  She was presented in the temple when she was a tender three-year-old and learned the Scriptures.  She prayed for the redemption of Israel.  

When the angel Gabriel appeared to her, she humbly wondered what his greeting meant.  She was well-aware how to discern the spirits and how to protect herself from pride.  She tested Gabriel’s message by referring to her vow of chastity and then she was satisfied by the way Gabriel expressed God’s holy plan.  She had no doubt that God would preserve her virginity.  She revered His Divine Plan for the Incarnation.  She most willingly gave her “fiat”.  She understood she would have a life of suffering because the Son of God was to be born as an oblation to God for the salvation of mankind.

St. Joseph, too, had taken a vow of perpetual chastity.  Both Our Lady and St. Joseph understood the chastity that would be sacred in their marriage.  Both were committed to serving God with their whole hearts.  They would serve God together in monastic married life.  In their midst God-made-Man would grow to manhood.

Think of their anguish when Our Lord stayed behind in Jerusalem at age twelve.   God kept His intention hidden from them in order to increase their merit.  Their suffering was in reparation for the sins of men and they were setting examples for parents for all the generations to come.

Mary as a wife is such a resplendent model for all wives.  She was subservient to St. Joseph, as this was part of her service to God.  Wives should obey their husbands and follow Mary’s example.  She loved God so much and was devoted to her duty because she loved God.

Mary was also a perfect example for all mothers.  She was ever ready to sacrifice all for her family.  Of course, Our Lord was her Son and her God.  Hence, her role of Mother was a unique one.  Nevertheless, Our Lord was subservient to His parents. 

All through Our Lord’s Public Life, Our Lady served Him in countless ways.  We know, too, of her ultimate gift of herself at the Foot of the Cross where she endured a bloodless martyrdom.  Her anguish was like that of no other earthly mother because hers was the most that any human person could possibly suffer.  Yes, she earned the martyr’s palm, Our dear Mother of Sorrows.

The remainder of her days on earth was spent in the service of God as she ministered to the needs of the Apostles and the nascent Church.  Our Lord gave her to us to be Our Mother while He hung on the Cross.  She was faithful in serving her Son by giving her services to the Church which He founded.  Of course, she is ever Our faithful Mother, even as Queen of Heaven and all Creation.  She is our Protectress too.

With these reflections in mind, we see that we could never find a better model (besides Our Lord Himself) of someone who kept the Principle and Foundation perfectly.  Mary is a model not only for women, but for men, too.  We, like Mary, were created to praise, revere, and serve God.  Our mission in life is not as sublime as Mary’s was, but nevertheless, we must be always ready to do whatever He may ask of us.  Let us go to Our Mother, Our Model, and Our Protectress and beg her for guidance on how to make the best effort we can to seek God’s plan and to fulfill His Will for us.

Queen of Angels, pray for us.   Help us to faithfully praise, revere, and serve God so that by this means, we can save our souls.



[1]           Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made: His eternal power also, and divinity: so that they [viz., men who pervert the truth ] are inexcusable.”   To put this quote in context, St. Paul had been speaking of those who “detain the truth of God in injustice: because that which is known of God is manifest in them.  For God had manifested it unto them”, and St. Paul was here showing how it was manifested to them.

 

[2]           Angels have only infused knowledge because they do not have bodies and therefore do not have bodily senses.

 

[3]           Apocalypse 12:3-4 “And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns and on his heads seven diadems: and his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth:”

[4]           The proud angels of the lower choirs might have also rebelled because of the thought that God would assign some of them to be the guardians, helpers, and companions to humans – who were so low compared to their angelic selves!

Lesson #33 Additional mediation points on the Life of Our Lord

 

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

Lesson #33  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius –—ST. IGNATIUS’S ADDITIONAL MEDITATION POINTS ON THE LIFE OF OUR LORD

This lesson might be viewed as a kind of appendix.

LIST OF ALL THE IGNATIAN POINTS FOR THE MYSTERIES OF THE LIFE OF OUR LORD

THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LADY                                                                          (Luke 1:26-38)

First Point – The Angel, St. Gabriel, greeted Our Lady and announced to her the conception of Christ Our Lord.  And when the Angel had come to her, he said: “Hail, full of grace…Thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son.”

 

Second Point— The Angel confirms what he had said to Our Lady by announcing the conception of St. John the Baptist, saying to her: “And behold, Elizabeth thy kinswoman also has conceived a son in her old age.

 

Third Point—Out Lady replied to the Angel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.”

 

THE VISITATION OF OUR LADY TO ELIZABETH

(Luke 1: 39-56)

 

First Point—When Our Lady visited St. Elizabeth, St. John the Baptist, in his mother’s womb, felt the visitation made by Our Lady.  When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe in her womb leapt. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!”

 

Second Point— Our Lady chants the canticle, saying: “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

 

Third Point— And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her own house.

 

THE BIRTH OF CHRIST OUR LORD

(Luke 2: 1-14)

 

First Point—Our Lady and her spouse, St. Joseph, go from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  And Joseph also went from Galilee to Bethlehem, in obedience to Caesar, with Mary his espoused wife who was with child.

 

Second Point—And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.

 

Third Point—And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host prainsing God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest.”

 

THE SHEPHERDS

(Luke 2: 8-20)

 

First Point—The birth of Christ Our Lord is made known to the shepherds by an angel: “I bring you god news of great joy, for today a Savior has been born to you.”

 

Second Point—The shepherds go to Bethlehem.  So they went with haste, and they found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger.

 

Third Point—And the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God.

 

THE CIRCUMCISION

(Luke 2: 21)

 

First Point—They circumcise the Child Jesus.

 

Second Point—His name was called Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

 

Third Point— They return the Child to His Mother, who felt compassion at the blood shed by her Son.

 

THE THREE MAGI KINGS

(Matt. 2: 1-12)

 

First Point—The three Magi Kings, guided by the star, came to adore Jesus, saying: “We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

 

Second Point—They adored Him and offered Him gifts. And falling down they worshipped Him, and offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

 

Third Point—And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another way.

 

THE PURIFICATION OF OUR LADY AND THE PRESENTATION OF THE CHILD JESUS

(Luke 2: 22-39)

 

First Point—They take the Child Jesus to the Temple to be presented to the Lord as the firstborn, and they offer for Him a pair of turtle doves and two young pigeons.

 

Second Point—Simeon, coming into the Temple, also received Him into his arms, saying: “Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word, in peace.”

 

Third Point—Anna, coming up at that very hour, began to give praise to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

 

THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT

(Matt. 2: 13-15)

 

First Point—Herod wanted to kill the Child Jesus, and so he slew the Innocents.  Before their slaughter an angel warned Joseph to fly into Egypt: “Arise and take the child and his mother and flee into Egypt.”

 

Second Point—He set out for Egypt. So he arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and withdrew into Egypt.

 

Third Point— There he remained until the death of Herod.

 

 

THE RETURN FROM EGYPT

(Matt. 2:19-23)

 

First Point— The angel admonishes Joseph t return to Israel: “Arise, and take the child and his mother and go into the land of Israel.”

 

Second Point—So he arose…and went into the land of Israel.

 

Third Point—Since Archelaus, the son of Herod, ruled in Judea, he withdrew to Nazareth.

 

 

JESUS COMES TO THE TEMPLE AT THE AGE OF TWELVE

(Luke 2:41-50)

 

First Point—When Christ Our Lord was twelve years old, He went up from Nazareth to Jerusalem.

 

Second Point—Christ Our Lord remained in Jerusalem and His parents did not know it.

 

Third Point—After three days had passed, they found Him in the Temple, seated in the midst of the doctors and disputing with them.  When His parents asked where had he been, He replied, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”

 

THE LIFE OF OUR FROM THE AGE OF TWELVE TO THE AGE OF THIRTY

(Luke 2: 51-52)

 

First Point—He was obedient to His parents.

Second Point—Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace.

Third Point—He seems to have practiced the trade of a carpenter, as St. Mark seems to indicate in Chapter VI: “Is not this the carpenter?”

 

THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST

(Matt. 3: 13-17)

 

First Point—After He took leave of His Blessed Mother, Christ Our Lord, went from Nazareth to the River Jordan where St. John the Baptist was.

 

Second Point—St. John baptized Christ Our Lord.  When he wanted to excuse himself, considering that he was unworthy to baptize Him, Christ said to him: “Let it be so now, for so it becomes us to fulfill all justice.”

 

Third Point—The Holy Ghost descended upon Him, and the voice of the Father testified from Heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.”

 

THE TEMPTATION OF CHRIST

(Luke 4: 1-13; Matt. 4:1-11)

 

First Point—After Jesus was baptized, He went to the desert where he fasted for forty days and nights.

 

Second Point—He was tempted by the enemy three times. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread….Throw thyself down, …All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”

 

Third Point—Angels came and ministered to Him.

 

THE VOCATION OF THE APOSTLES

 

First Point—It appears that St. Peter and St. Andrew were called three times.  They were first called to some knowledge, as is shown in the first chapter of St. John [35-42].  They were called a second time to follow Christ in some way, with the intention of returning to the possessions which they had left, as St. Luke relates in Chapter 5: 10-11.  The third time they were called to follow Christ Our Lord forever, in St. Matthew 4: 18-22 and St. Mark, 1:16-18.

 

Second Point—He called Philip, as described in the first chapter of St. John [43], and Matthew, as Matthew himself relates in Chapter 9:9.

 

Third Point— He called the other Apostles of whose particular vocation no mention is made in the Gospel.

            Three other points are also to be considered:

                        1. The Apostles were uneducated men, from a low station of life.

                        2.  The dignity to which they were so gently called.

                        3. The graces and gifts by which they were raised above all the Fathers                  of the Old and New Testament.

 

THE FIRST MIRACLE, PERFORMED AT THE MARRIAGE FEAST OF CANA IN GALILEE

(John 2: 1-11)

 

First Point—Christ Our Lord and His disciples were invited to the marriage feast.

 

Second Point— The Mother calls her Son’s attention to the lack of wine, saying: “They have no wine,” and she tells the attendants: “Do whatever He tells you.”

 

Third Point—He changed the water into wine…and He manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

 

CHRIST DRIVES THE SELLERS OUT OF THE TEMPLE

(John 2: 13-16)

 

First Point—He drove all of the sellers from the temple with a scourge made of cord.

 

Second Point—He overturned the tables and scattered the money of the rich money changers that were in the temple.

 

Third Point—To the poor who were selling doves, He gently said: “Take these things away, and do not make of the house of My Father a house of business.”

 

THE SERMON CHRIST DELIVERED ON THE MOUNT

(Matt. 5)

 

First Point—He speaks apart to His beloved disciples, about the eight beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…the meek…the merciful… they who mourn…they who hunger and thirst for justice…the clean of heart…the peacemakers…they who suffer persecution.”

 

Second Point—He exhorts them to use their talents well: “Even so let our light shine before men, in order that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

 

Third Point—He shows that He is not a transgressor of the law but a fulfiller.  He explains the precept not to kill, not to commit adultery, not to swear falsely, and to love our enemies; “ I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

 

CHRIST CALMS THE STORM AT SEA

(Matt. 8: 23-27)

 

First Point—While Our Lord was sleeping in the boat a great storm arose.

 

Second Point—His terrified disciples awakened Him; He reproved them for their little faith, saying to them: “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

 

Third Point—He commanded the winds and the sea to cease, at once the wind ceased and the sea became calm.  The men marveled at this, saying: “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

 

CHRIST WALKS UPON THE SEA

(Matt. 14:22-33)

 

First Point—While Christ Our Lord remained upon the mountain He made His disciples get into the boat, and when He had dismissed the crowd He began to pray alone.

 

Second Point—The boat was buffeted by the waves, Christ came to them walking  upon the water, and the disciples thought it was an apparition.

 

Third Point—And Christ said to them: “It is I, fear not.” St Peter, at His command, came to Him, walking upon the waters, but when he doubted, he began to sink, and Christ Our Lord saved him, and reproved him for his little faith.  Afterwards, when He entered the boat, the wind ceased.

 

THE APOSTLES ARE SENT FORTH TO PREACH

(Matt. 10: 1-16)

 

First Point—Christ calls His beloved disciples and gives them power to cast out devils from the bodies of men and to cure all infirmities.

 

Second Point—He instructs them in prudence and patience. “Behold, I am sending you forth like sheep in the midst of wolves. Be therefore wise as serpents and guileless as doves.

 

Third Point—He tells them how they are to go: “Do not keep gold nor silver.  Freely you have received, freely give.” And He tells them what they are to preach: “And as you go, preach the message, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

 

THE CONVERSION OF MAGDALENE

(Luke 7: 36-50)

 

First Point—Magdalene enters the house of the Pharisee where Christ Our Lord is reclining at table.  She is carrying an alabaster vessel full of ointment.

Second Point—Standing behind the Lord near His feet, she began to bathe them with her tears and to wipe them with her hair.  And she kissed His feet and anointed them with ointment.

 

Third Point—When the Pharisee accused Magdalene, Christ defended her, saying: “I say to thee, her sins, many as they are, shall be forgiven her, because she has loved much”…and he said to the woman: “Thy faith has saved thee; go in peace.”

 

 

CHRIST FEEDS FIVE THOUSAND MEN

(Matt. 14:13-21)

 

First Point—The disciples asked Christ to dismiss the multitude who were with Him, since it was now late.

 

Second Point—Christ Our Lord commanded them to bring the loaves to Him, and ordered the multitude to sit down to eat.  He blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to His disciples and they gave them to the multitude.

 

Third Point—And all ate and were satisfied; and they gathered up what was left over, twelve baskets full of fragments.

 

THE TRANSFIGURATION OF CHRIST

(Matt. 17: 1-9)

 

First Point—Christ Our Lord took with Him His beloved disciples Peter, James, and John.  And He was transfigured before them and His face shone as the sun and His garments became white as snow.

 

Second Point—He spoke with Moses and Elias.

 

Third Point—While St. Peter was saying that they should build three tabernacles, a voice from heaven was heard, saying: “This is my beloved Son…hear him.” When the disciples heard this voice, they fell on their faces in great fear.  Jesus came and touched them, and said: “Arise and do not be afraid… Tell the vision to no one till the Son of Man has risen from the dead.

 

 

 

THE RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS

(John 11:1-45)

 

First Point—Martha and Mary make known to Christ Our Lord the illness of Lazarus.  After Jesus heard of this He remained two days longer in the place where He was, that the miracle might be more evident.

 

Second Point—Before He raises Lazarus, He asks Martha and Mary to believe, saying : “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, even if he die, shall live.”

 

Third Point—He raises Lazarus after He had wept and said a prayer.  The manner of raising him was by the command, “Lazarus, come forth.

 

THE SUFFER IN BETHANY

(Matt. 26: 6-13)

 

First Point—Our Lord takes supper in the house of Simon the leper together with Lazarus.

 

Second Point—Mary pours the precious ointment upon the head of Christ.

 

Third Point—Judas murmurs, “To what purpose is this waste of ointment?” But Jesus again excuses Magdalene saying: “Why do you trouble the woman? She has done me a good turn.

 

PALM SUNDAY

(Matt. 21: 1-11)

 

First Point—Jesus sends for the ass and the colt, saying: “Loose them and bring them to me , and if anyone say anything to you, you shall say that the Lord hath need of them and immediately he will sent them.

 

Second Point—He mounts the ass which is covered with the garments of the Apostles.

 

Third Point—The people come forth to meet Him, spreading their garments and branches along the way, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest.

 

JESUS PREACHES IN THE TEMPLE

(Luke 19:47)

 

First Point—And He was teaching daily in the Temple.

 

Second Point—After His teaching, since there was no one to receive Him in Jerusalem, He returned to Bethany.

 

THE LAST SUPPER

(Matt. 26:17-30; John 13:1-30)

 

First Point—Jesus ate the Paschal Lamb with His twelve Apostles, to whom He foretold His death: “Amen I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”

 

Second Point—He washed the feet of His disciples, even those of Judas.  He began with St. Peter, who, considering the majesty of the Lord and his own lowly estate, would not permit it.  He said, “Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” Peter did not understand that Jesus was giving them an example of humility by this.  Jesus therefore said to him, “I have given you an example, that as I have done for you, so you also should do.”

 

Third Point—He instituted the most Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist, as the greatest proof of His love, saying, “Take and eat.” When the supper was finished, Judas went forth to sell Our Lord.

 

 

FROM THE SUPPER TO THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN, INCLUSIVE

(Matt. 26:30-46; Mark 14:26-42)

 

First Point—After they had finished supper and sung a hymn, Our Lord went to Mount Olivet with His disciples, who were full of fear.  He left eight of the in Gethsemane, saying to them: “Sit down here while I go yonder and pray.

 

Second Point—Accompanied by Peter, James, and John, He prayed to the Father, saying, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; yet not as I will, but as thou willest.And falling into an agony he prayed the more earnestly.

 

Third Point—So great was the fear that possessed Him, that He said: “My soul is sad, even unto death” and He sweated blood so copiously that St. Luke says: “His sweat became as drops of blood running down upon the ground.” This supposes that His garments were now saturated with blood.  

 

 

FROM THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN TO THE HOUSE OF ANNAS, INCLUSIVE

(Matt. 26: 47-56; Luke 22: 47-53; Mark 14:43-52; John 18: 1-23)

 

First Point—Our Lord allows Himself to be kissed by Judas, and to be seized like a thief.  He says to the crowd: “As against a robber you have come out, with swords and clubs, to seize me.  I sat daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not lay hands on me.” And when He said: “Whom do you seek?” His enemies fell to the ground.

 

Second Point—St. Peter wounded a servant of the high priest.  The meek Lord said to him: “Put back thy sword into its place.” And He healed the servant’s wound.

 

Third Point—Jesus is abandoned by His disciples and dragged before Annas.  There St. Peter, who had followed him at a distance, denied Him the first time. Then a servant struck Christ in the face, saying to Him: “Is that the way thou answer the high priest?” 

 

FROM THE HOUSE OF ANNAS TO THE HOUSE OF CAIPHAS, INCLUSIVE

(Matt. 26: 57-75; Mark 14: 53-72; Luke 22: 54-65)

 

First Point—Jesus is led bound from the House of Annas to the House of Caiphas where Peter denied Him twice.  And when Jesus looked upon Peter, He went out and wept bitterly.

 

Second Point—Jesus was left bound the entire night.

 

Third Point—And those who held Him prisoner blindfolded Him, and struck Him and buffeted Him, and asked Him, “Prophesy, who is it that struck thee?” And in like manner they continued to blaspheme Him.

 

 

FROM THE HOUSE OF CAIPHAS TO THE HOUSE OF PILATE, INCLUSIVE

(Matt. 27: 1-26; Luke 23:1-5; Mark 15:1-15)

 

First Point—The whole multitude of the Jews brought Him before Pilate and accused Him, saying: “We have found this man perverting the nation, and forbidding the payment of taxes to Caesar.

 

Second Point—After Pilate had examined Him several times, he said: “I find no crime deserving of death in Him.

 

Third Point—Barabbas the robber was preferred to Him. The whole mob cried out together saying, Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas!

 

FROM THE HOUSE OF PILATE TO THE HOUSE OF HEROD

(Luke 23: 6-10)

 

First Point—Pilate sent Jesus the Galilean to Herod, the Tetrarch of Galilee.

 

Second Point—Herod, through curiosity, asked Jesus many scribes and priests unceasingly accused Him.

 

Third Point—Herod and his entire court mocked Jesus, clothing Him in a white garment.

 

FROM THE HOUSE OF HEROD TO THAT OF PILATE

(Matt. 27: 24-30; Luke 23: 12-23;Mark 15: 15-19; John 19: 1-11)

 

First Point—Herod sent Him back to Pilate.  Because of this, they became friends, although before this they were enemies.

 

Second Point—Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him, and the soldiers mad a crown of thorns and placed it upon His head.  They put a purple cloak about Him, and came before Him, saying: “Hail, King of the Jews!” and they struck Him.

 

Third Point—Pilate had Him brought forth before all the people; Jesus came forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And Pilate said to them: “Behold the man.” When they saw Him, the chief priests cried: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!

 

FROM THE HOUSE OF PILATE TO THE CROSS, INCLUSIVE

(John 19:12-24)

 

First Point—Pilate, sitting as judge, delivered Jesus to the Jews to be crucified, after they had denied that He was their king, saying: “We have no king but Caesar.

 

Second Point—He carried the cross upon His shoulders, and as He could not carry it, Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry it after Jesus.

 

Third Point—They crucified Him between two thieves placing this title above Him: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

 

JESUS UPON THE CROSS

(John 19: 23-37; Matt. 27: 35-39; Mark 15: 24-38; Luke 23: 34-46)

 

First Point—He spoke seven words on the Cross.  He prayed for those who crucified Him; He pardoned the thief; He entrusted His Mother to St. John; He said in a loud voice: “I thirst,” and they gave Him gall and vinegar; He said that He was forsaken; He said: “It is consummated!”; He said, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.

 

Second Point—The sun was darkened; rocks rent, graves opened; the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

 

Third Point—They blasphemed Him, saying: “Thou who destroyed the Temple…come down the Cross.” His garments were divided; His side was pierced with a lance, and blood and water flowed forth.

 

 FROM THE CROSS TO THE SEPULCHER, INCLUSIVE

(John 19: 38-42)

 

First Point—He was taken down from the Cross by Joseph and Nicodemus in the presence of His sorrowful Mother.

 

Second Point—His body was carried to the sepulcher, and buried with aloes placed around it.

 

Third Point—Guards were set.

 

THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST OUR LORD AND HIS FIRST APPARITION

 

First Point—He appeared to the Virgin Mary.  Although this is not mentioned in Scripture, it is considered as mentioned when the Scripture says that He appeared to so many others, for the Scripture supposes that we have understanding, as is written “Are you also without understanding?

 

 THE SECOND APPARITION

(Mark 16: 1-11)

 

First Point—Very early in the morning Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome go to the tomb.  They say to one another: “Who will roll the stone back from the entrance of the tomb for us?”

 

Second Point—They see the stone rolled back and an angel who says: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth… He has risen, He is not here.

 

Third Point—He appeared to Mary, who remained near the tomb after the others had departed.

 

THE THIRD APPARITION

(Matt. 28: 8-10)

 

First Point— The other two women go from the tomb with great fear and joy.  They want to announce the resurrection of the disciples.

 

Second Point—Christ Our Lord appeared to them on the way, and said to them, “Hail!” and they came up to Him, and prostrated themselves at His feet, and adored Him.

 

Third Point—Jesus said to them: “Do not be afraid; go, take word to my brethren that they are to set out Galilee: there they shall see Me.

 

THE FOURTH APPARITION

(Luke 24:10-12; and 33-34)

 

First Point—When Peter heard from the women that Christ had risen, he hastened to the tomb.

 

Second Point—He entered the tomb and saw nothing but the linen cloths with which the Body of Christ Our Lord had been covered.

 

Third Point—While Peter was thinking about these things, Christ appeared to him.  Therefore the Apostles said: “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon.

 

THE FIFTH APPARITION

(Luke 24: 13-35)

 

First Point—He appeared to the disciples, who were on the way to Emmaus and were talking of Christ.

 

Second Point—He reproaches them, and shows them by the Scriptures that Christ had to die and rise again: “O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Did not Christ have to suffer these things before entering into His glory?

 

Third Point—At their entreaties, He remained with them until He gave them Communion; then He disappeared.  And they returned to the disciples and told them how they had known Him in the Communion.

 

THE SIXTH APPARITION

(John 20: 19-23)

 

First Point—The disciples, except Thomas, were gathered together, “for fear of the Jews.

 

Second Point—Jesus appeared to them, the doors being closed, and standing in their midst said: “Peace be to you.

 

Third Point—He gives them the Holy Ghost saying to them: “Receive the  Holy Ghost; Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

 

THE SEVENTH APPARITION

(John 20: 24-29)

 

First Point—Thomas was incredulous since he had not been present at the preceding apparition, and said: “Unless I see…I will not believe.”

 

Second Point—Eight days later Jesus appeared to them, the doors being shut, and said to Thomas: “Bring here thy finger and see… and be not unbelieving, but believing.”

 

Third Point—Thomas believing, said: “My Lord and my God.” And Christ said to him: “Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed.”

 

THE EIGHTH APPARITION

(John 21: 1-17)

 

First Point—Jesus manifested Himself to seven of His disciples who were fishing.  They had been fishing all night and had caught nothing.  At His command they cast forth the net and now they were unable to draw it up the great number of fishes.

 

Second Point—John recognized Him by this miracle, and said to Peter “It is the Lord.” Peter cast himself into the sea and came to Christ.

 

Third Point—He gave them part of a broiled fish and bread to eat.  After he had questioned Peter three times on his love for Him, He commended His sheep to him, saying: “Feed My sheep.

 

THE NINTH APPARITION

(Matt. 28: 16-20)

 

First Point—At the command of the Lord, the disciples went to Mount Thabor.

 

Second Point—Christ appeared to them, and said: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

 

Third Point—He sent them to preach throughout the world, saying: “Go, therefore, and make disciple of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

 

THE TENTH APPARITION

(1 Corinth 15: 6)

 

Then He was seen by more than five hundred brethren at one time.

 

THE ELEVENTH APPARITION

(1 Corinth 15:7)

 

After that He was seen by James.

 

THE TWELFTH APPARITION

 

He appeared to Joseph of Arimathea,as may be piously thought, and as we read in the Lives of the Saints

 

THE THIRTEENTH APPARITION

(1 Corinth 15:8)

 

After His Ascension He appeared to St. Paul:— And last of all, as by one born out of due time, He was seen also by me.

He appeared also in soul to the holy fathers in Limbo, and after He had freed them and take His Body again, He appeared many times to the disciples and discoursed with them.

 

THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST OUR LORD

(Acts 1:1-11)

 

First Point—After Christ Our Lord had manifested Himself for forty days to His Apostles, giving them many proofs and signs, and speaking of the Kingdom of God, He commanded them to await in Jerusalem the Holy Ghost that He had promised them.

 

Second Point—He led them to Mt. Olivet And He was lifted up before their eyes, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.

 

Third Point—While they were looking up to heaven, angels said to them: “Men of Galilee why do you stand looking up to heaven? This Jesus Who has been taken up from you into heaven, shall come in the same way as you have seen Him going up to heaven.

 

This work has been a labor of love brought to our readers by the staff of Catholic Candle.  It is our desire that many will draw spiritual fruit from St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises.  For this reason we have tried to preserve them for the future.  These Exercises have had a huge impact on the lives of many including many of the Church’s saints and our staff longed to make them available to the public.

Lesson #32 – Making resolutions and dealing with scruples

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

Lesson #32 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – VARIOUS TOPICS: MAKING RESOLUTIONS, AND ST. IGNATIUS’ TREATMENT OF SCRUPLES

Due to limited space, we have decided to defer giving St. Ignatius’s additional meditation points until our next lesson.  This current lesson may be considered as really a combination of instructions that we decided to put at the end of our course on the Spiritual Exercises because we did not want to break up the of flow of the progression of the Exercises especially our study of Our Lord’s Life and Death.

Making resolutions —

After concluding the Spiritual Exercises, it is very profitable for us to make some concrete resolutions to help ourselves to amend our lives in earnest.  The following are some practical resolutions we can all make:

1) Have the spirit of penance as Our Lord admonishes us to do to help us refrain from sin and to make reparation for our past sins.[1]  We must practice penance, both passive penance and active penance.

Passive penance is simply patiently accepting circumstances as they occur in our daily lives, whether we experience some illness or some calamity, etc.  There are plenty of crosses in our daily lives that the Good Lord lovingly sends us in order to teach us virtue.  These crosses are more meritorious than self-imposed penances.

Active penance is a self-imposed penance.  Examples of these are almsgiving and additional fasting.  Practicing mortification of our eyes, our ears, our tongues, (in fact, all of our senses) is an excellent form of active penance.  The saints did many different kinds of penances, including wearing hair-shirts and chains, or flagellations called the “discipline”.  However, there are more ordinary penances that, often, we should embrace, e.g., taking cold showers, refraining from condiments on our food, etc.

By practicing active penances we can help curb our flesh, our self-love, and our fallen human nature, all of which are easily attracted to worldly pleasures.  We must fight against these enemies of our salvation by being constantly vigilant and mortifying ourselves because we are prone to selfishness.

Fr. Hurter has some practical advice on how to be cautious about our souls.  He says we must have a “newness” of heart, tongue, and action. [2]

The newness of our hearts is obtained by focusing on purity, avoiding, of course, mortal sin and also voluntary venial sin, and bridling our passions.  To obtain this newness of heart, the heart “must be new by its right direction to God, by purifying our intentions and motives.”  This newness of heart also entails that we have an increase in fervor, and in this way have a greater zeal in our service of God.  This includes a dedication to “repairing the losses caused by our past negligence.”[3]

When speaking about the newness of tongue, Fr. Hurter recommends that we put five bridles on our tongue, a fivefold silence, and by doing so avoid many faults.

1. The silence of charity. By the use of our tongue we so easily offend against the love of our neighbor.  We scarcely open our mouth without committing sins of the tongue.  We criticize people, make their faults known, or attribute ignoble motives to them; we often begin well by praising a brother: soon, however, the praise turns to blame.  Even pious souls easily forget themselves.  We wish to amuse ourselves, spread news, make ourselves important and interesting, and before we are fully aware of it, we have sinned.  Let us hold on to two golden rules which will be of great use to us.  First rule: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt. 19:19) What I do not wish another to say about me, that I ought not to say about him.  Second rule: What I would not say in his presence because it might offend, mortify, or humiliate him, that I ought not to say in his absence.” [4]

2. The silence of patience.”[5] In this type of silence Fr. Hurter explains how we are apt to complain about whatever suffering we experience.  In this complaining, we offend God, our superiors, and our neighbor.   We offend God because we show that we are not resigned to His will.  We offend our superiors because we readily blame them as being severe and unjust.  We offend our neighbor by blaming him for his lack of consideration of us.[6]

We offend by exaggeration, spiteful expressions, rash judgments, and frequently condemning the most innocent doings of others; urging our friends to make similar complaints, and thus cause dissension and discord.  In order to learn this silence of patience, let us often think of Our Divine Savior, Who was accused, calumniated, mocked, and ridiculed before the tribunals, but even in the most agonizing pain did not open His mouth to complain.[7]

3. The silence of humility.  This we practice when we keep silent about our real or supposed advantages, when we do not willingly speak about ourselves, and do not, except for grave reasons, talk about our good works, mindful of the words of Our Lord: “When thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as hypocrites do in the synagogues….Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.” (Matt. 6:2)[8]

4. The silence of purity.” Here Fr. Hurter addresses how our speech must be free from all uncleanness.  In general, as members of society it is appropriate to have proper decorum and decency, but all the more so for those who intend to be true followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ.[9]

5. The silence of prudence.  If we wish to escape vexation, we must be prudent in our speech.  How often is not something said without consideration, then told to others; and then depression, misunderstanding, discord, and enmity spring up.  It often takes weeks and months before the tension is broken and friendly relations are again restored.  We should be careful when giving our opinion about others, and not be too trustful, for even “walls have ears,” as the significant proverb says.  What we believe has been said in private will soon be heralded from the housetops.  Therefore we should always speak so that we need not be afraid of publicity.  Be not hasty in speaking, but deliberate and careful, if you wish to live in peace.  Let us diligently observe this fivefold silence.  We shall never regret having been silent; but we are often sorry for having spoken carelessly.[10]

In his discussion of a newness of action, Fr. Hurter makes three main points:

1. Our actions should all proceed from faith; and as its fruit, they should be ennobled by the motives of faith.  Only what proceeds from faith is pleasing to God: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”(Heb. 11:6)

2. We must strive to make our actions faultless and our works perfect: “In all thy works keep the preeminence.” (Eccl. 33:23)  We do not offer decayed fruit to an honored guest; much less should we offer as an homage to the Most High works that are defective.  Rather should we endeavor to deserve the praise which the good people gave to Our Lord: “He hath done all things well.” (Mark 7:27)

3. We must be generous towards God.  We must not be satisfied with doing that to which we are bound under pain of mortal, or at least venial sin.  We must do more than strict duty calls for out of pure love.  A heartfelt love among men often performs great deeds; surely then our love of God should not be niggardly and narrow-minded.  Self-interest ought to urge us to be generous towards God, for God will not be outdone in generosity; that would be unworthy of His infinite goodness.[11]

One consoling aspect to keep in our minds at the end of doing all the Spiritual Exercises and in setting about making resolutions to strengthen our desire to serve God well is that the Exercises and our resolutions should engender peace in our souls.

Fr. Hurter gives many considerations about St. Augustine’s explanation concerning true interior peace.  St. Augustine says that four things are required: (1) serenity of mind; (2) tranquility of soul; (3) simplicity of heart and (4) a bond of peace based on brotherly love. 

SERENITY OF MIND

A serene mind results from seeing by faith that God is our loving Father Who provides for us, and knowing that “for those who love God, all things work for the good.” (Rom.8:28)  Therefore, in whatever state of life we have, we can serve God and become perfect and holy.[12] 

The devil tries to get us to distort reality and imagine that we are in a storm, that is, in some calamity.  He would have us blow a situation way out of proportion so we will lose our confidence and peace.  Then, our imagination urges us on to be suspicious of the motives of others, and our emotions follow suit and bad consequences follow.[13]

At other times, he clouds our perspective by blinding us to our own failings or minimizing them, and instead exaggerating faults of others.  When we are like this we do not take corrections well and we see the one correcting us as harsh and severe.  Our soul becomes dark.[14]

Indeed, our imagination often leads us off course.  If we want to retain cheerfulness of spirit, we must not give our imagination too much play, but rather let the Holy Ghost waft over our interior.[15]

TRANQUILITY OF SOUL[16]

 There are three ways that our tranquility of soul may be disturbed.  Dwelling on the past, dwelling on the present, and being anxious about the future.

Many people fret about the past.  They are scrupulous about their past contrition.  They second guess everything.  We must remember that uneasiness without a good reason comes from the devil.  (See St. Ignatius’s notes concerning scruples below.) As long as we can say, “I honestly examined my conscience”, we can be at peace.  We must trust in the Good Lord because we know that He lovingly cares for us.

Present events can also be alarming to us.  Our predominant passions and unregulated inclinations readily cause a storm to rise in the soul.  Hence, self-control must be acquired by a vigilant examination of conscience.

We must also acquire indifference in regards to our inclinations.  If we are not mortified then there will be excitement and disturbances as soon as we meet with something which is opposed to our inclinations.  Furthermore, if we act in a stormy and hasty manner, we can scarcely maintain our interior peace.  We must remember, too, that there is a very close connection between the interior and exterior man.

Another source of undue alarm is when we meddle in other people’s business which does not concern us at all. We must be concerned with our present duty and not concerned about things that we cannot control.

We sometimes allow ourselves to be disturbed by too much anxiety about the future.  The first step in counteracting this is to be childlike in our confidence in the providence of God.

If we picture to ourselves future difficulties, we become sad and discouraged.  We soon find out that when the time comes, the difficulties have vanished.  The things we dread do not come to pass.  If there is a question of something that may concern us in the distant future, we should quiet ourselves with the thought: “God will provide!”

We must be on guard when the imagination pictures improbable events and thus disturbs us with useless anxiety.  If God permits something extraordinary to happen, He will also us give the necessary graces in due time.  For fictitious cases, He need not give grace.  No wonder that we do not know how we should act in such cases.  Let us be calm and satisfied in submitting to the Sacred Heart.[17]

SIMPLICITY OF HEART

This means that one is direct in his meaning and not a hypocrite.

Whoever has such a contradiction between the dictates of his conscience and his external conduct cannot enjoy true peace because true peace consists in perfect harmony.  Simplicity of heart therefore seeks only to please God, and has no other motives.  It is not guided by the principles of this world, or by the wisdom of the flesh, does not lend a willing ear to sensuality, but strives to bring all into unison with the enlightened principles of Our Divine Savior.  Also, He gives us a beautiful example by His mode of life, which is so pure, so noble, so enlightened, so simple, so captivating, and so capable of winning the hearts of men.[18]

THE BOND OF PEACE[19]

This mark of true peace is cordial agreement with one’s brethren and neighbors. Just as Our Lord said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  Our Lord is compelling us to love with an unconditional love.  He does not want us to count the cost. 

The mutual love that He wanted His apostles to have towards each other He wanted to be an outward sign, a mark. “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.”  (John 13:35)  Likewise, we should earnestly ask ourselves if we have this mark on us, and appreciate it highly.

We can show our love for Our Lord by showing love to our neighbor.  Our Lord tells us that what we do for the least of our brethren, He considers done unto Him. 

This love strengthens our prayers.  Indeed, Our Lord tells us that, “For where there are two or three gathered together in My Name, there I am in the midst of them.” (Matt 18:20) Therefore, we should appreciate prayers said in the company of others.

We should then endeavor to make every effort to acquire this heavenly peace simply because this peace is a foretaste of heaven.


St. Ignatius’ Notes concerning Scruples

The following notes will be of help in discerning and understanding scruples and the snares of our enemy:

1. The name “scruple” is ordinarily given to that which proceeds from our judgment and free will; for example, when I freely judge something to be a sin which is not a sin.  This might happen when someone, after having accidentally stepped on a cross formed by two straws, of his own accord judges that he has sinned.  This is in reality an erroneous judgment and not a real scruple.

2. After I have stepped upon that cross, or after I have thought, said, or done some other thing, the thought comes to me from without that I have sinned. On the other hand, it seems to me that I have not sinned.  Nevertheless, I am disturbed in this matter, doubting and not doubting that I have sinned.  This is truly a scruple and a temptation from the enemy.

3. The first scruple, mentioned in the first note should be much abhorred because it is completely erroneous.  But the second type of scruple mentioned in the second note, is for a certain period of time of no little advantage to the soul that devotes itself to spiritual exercises.  It may even greatly purify and cleanse such a soul, separating it far from all appearance of sin, according to that saying of St. Gregory: “It is a mark of good souls there to recognize a fault when there is none.”

4. The enemy observes very carefully whether one has a delicate or lax conscience.  If the conscience is delicate he strives to make it excessively so in order to disturb and ruin it more easily.  For example, if the enemy sees that a soul consents to no sin, since he cannot make the soul fall into what has the appearance of sin, he strives to make it judge that there is sin where there is none, as in some insignificant word or thought.

If the conscience is lax, the enemy strives to make it still more lax.  Thus, if before it took no account of venial sins, he will strive to have it take no account of mortal sins.  If before, it did take some account of them, now he will strive that it cares much less or not at all about them.

5.  The soul that desires to advance in the spiritual life must always take a course contrary to that of the enemy.  If the enemy seeks to make the conscience lax, he must strive to make it delicate “to excess”; the soul must strive to establish itself solidly in moderation so that it may better maintain its tranquility.

6.  When such a good soul wishes to say or do something that is acceptable to the Church and to the mind of our superiors, something that may be for the glory of God Our Lord, there may come to it from without, a thought or temptation not to say or do it because it is motivated by vainglory or some other specious reason.  On such occasions one must raise his mind to his Creator and Lord, and if he sees that the action is for God’s service, or at least not contrary to it, he ought to act in a manner diametrically opposed to the temptation, as St. Bernard answered a like temptation: “I did not begin this because of you, nor because of you will I desist.”

In our next lesson, we will give St. Ignatius’ additional meditation points on the life of Our Lord.



[1]           St. Augustine says, “Sin must not remain unpunished; it is not becoming, it is not good, it is not right.  Then, as sin must be punished, punish it yourself, that you may not be punished for it.”  As quoted in 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, p. 92.

[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, p. 244.

 

[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, pp. 244-245.

 

[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, pp. 245-246.

 

[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, p. 246.

 

[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, p. 246.

 

[7]           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, p. 246.

 

[8]           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, p. 247.

 

[9]              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, p. 247.

[10]         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, pp. 247-248.

 

One note about never regretting silence is that one should keep in mind that when one finds himself confused or not sure about a crucial matter in order to be able to take reasonable action, one is obliged in prudence to seek advice of one’s superior or of a virtuous and wise person.  Remember also how St. Ignatius describes in his Rules for the Discernment of Spirits that when one is tempted, one should reveal his temptation to an appropriate person in order to thwart the evil one’s plan to harm the soul.

[11]         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, pp. 248-249.

 

[12]         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, p. 250.

 

[13]             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, pp. 250-251.

[14]            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, p. 251.

 

[15]         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, p. 252.

 

[16]         The following section is paraphrased from 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, pp. 252-253.

[17]         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, pp. 252-254.

[18]         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, pp. 255-256.

 

[19]         This section is a paraphrase of 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, pp. 256-257.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Lesson #26 – The Passion and Death of Our Lord, Part 1

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

Lesson #26  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius –—THIRD WEEK – EXPLANATION OF THE THIRD WEEK OF THE EXERCISES – THE PASSION AND DEATH OF OUR LORD, PART ONE

As we explained earlier in Lesson #5, the Spiritual Exercises were designed to be done over a month’s time.  In St. Ignatius’s 2nd week, he mentions that the exercitant can add more meditations as time allows, e.g., Our Lord’s calling of His Apostles, the Sermon on the Mount, Our Lord walking on the sea, Our Lord preaching in the Temple, and the resurrection of Lazarus.[1]

Because our purpose here in this series of Lessons is to give a shortened version of the Spiritual Exercises which the laity can use to “do a retreat,” we have limited our treatment of the Second Week.

Consequently, we now proceed to St. Ignatius’s Third Week, which focuses on the Passion and Death of Our Lord.  He breaks this week into 13 meditations as follows:

1.    Our Lord going from Bethany to Jerusalem, including the Last Supper;

2.    The Last Supper to the Garden, inclusive;

 

3.    From the Garden to the house of Annas, inclusive;

 

4.    From the house of Annas to the house of Caiphas, inclusive;

5.    From the house of Caiphas to that of Pilate, inclusive;

6.    From the house of Pilate to the house of Herod;

7.    From the house of Herod back to Pilate;

8.    On the 1st part of what happened at Pilate’s house;

9.    On the 2nd part of what happened at Pilate’s house;

10. From Pilate’s house to the nailing to the Cross;

11. From the raising of the Cross to Our Lord’s death;

12. From the taking down from the Cross to the Burial in the Sepulcher, exclusive; and

13. From the burial in the Sepulcher, inclusive, to the house where Our Lady stayed after the burial of her Son.

 

By devoting one whole week to the reflection on Our Lord’s Passion and Death, St. Ignatius shows us that this work is of great importance to our salvation.  Indeed, Our Lord Himself has revealed to the saints throughout the centuries that He desires for us to spend our lives learning more about His Passion.  He wants us to unite our sufferings to His and learn from His examples.

 

St. Ignatius gives us a framework for the first two topics listed.  He then expects the exercitant to use this basic framework when doing as many of the remaining 11 meditations as the exercitant’s time allows.

In this Lesson we will give two separate meditations.  The first meditation is on Our Lord going from Bethany to Jerusalem which includes the Last Supper.  The second will be from the Last Supper to and including the Agony in the Garden.  We will present St. Ignatius’s framework for each one including special notes from St. Ignatius.  Then we give specific considerations to aid the exercitant in applying his senses to the Gospel accounts of these events.

St. Ignatius labels his first framework, “FIRST DAY AND FIRST CONTEMPLATION”.

The first contemplation at midnight[2] is how Christ Our Lord went from Bethany to Jerusalem, including the Last Supper.  It contains the preparatory prayer, three preludes, six points, and a colloquy.

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, while at Bethany, sent two disciples to Jerusalem to prepare the supper and afterwards He Himself went there with the other disciples.   How after they had eaten the Pascal Lamb and supped, He washed their feet and gave His Most Holy Body and His Most Precious Blood to His disciples.  How He gave His last discourse after Judas had gone to sell his Lord.

The SECOND PRELUDE is a mental representation of the place.  Here it will be to consider the road from Bethany to Jerusalem, whether it is broad or narrow, whether it is level, etc.  Consider likewise the room of the supper, whether it is large or small, its general appearance.

The THIRD PRELUDE is to ask for what I desire.  Here it will be to ask for sorrow, affliction, and confusion because the Lord is going to His Passion on account of MY sins.

The FIRST POINT is to visualize the persons at the supper, 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 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 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.

The SIXTH POINT is to consider that all the suffering is for my sins, and what I ought to do and suffer for Him.

The COLLOQUY: Conclude with a colloquy to Christ Our Lord, and at the end say the “Our Father.”[3]

These particular meditations on Our Lord’s Passion and Death require some extra time to prepare the mind to consider the points and the heart to be inflamed to speak lovingly to Our Lord.  One should read the Gospel(s) in the section he is about to meditate on.  In this way he can set the scene in his imagination and apply his senses in order to draw some profit as St. Ignatius instructs us to do.  One can re-read verses of the Gospels as needed while he is pondering.

In this particular meditation we will focus on the Last Supper and Our Lord’s discourse at the Cenacle.[4]   We will attempt to combine some of the factual account from the Gospels with the application of our senses in order to paint the scene for the exercitant and we will give some considerations.  The exercitant is welcome to make some additional considerations and images for himself.  Indeed, these will naturally come to his mind.

Painting the Scene and Giving Some Considerations

Think about this most special evening.  It is the last evening Our Lord will spend with His Apostles—His dear ones.  He has lived with them for three and a half years.  He has instructed them by His words and examples.  They have grown to love Him and depend on Him.

Picture the furnished room with a table and couches.  The apostles take their places.  St. John, Our Lord’s beloved, leans lovingly on the bosom of Our Lord. 

He shows His tender love for them and certainly all the faithful when He says, “With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you.” [St. Luke 22:15]  He knows that He is the Paschal Lamb which will be sacrificed on the Cross on the morrow.  He knows that this same sacrifice is their Sacramental Food this evening.  He wants to give Himself to them to be their spiritual food and so He has instituted the Most Blessed Sacrament.

He, their Master, washed their feet as a loving slave and father.  Our Lord told Peter that He had prayed especially for him because Satan wanted to destroy Peter. He predicted that Peter will deny Him thrice; nevertheless, Peter insisted that he wouldn’t. 

Our Lord also predicted that one of them was about to betray Him.  Each one anxiously asked if he was the culprit.  Of course, Judas asks too, not surprisingly last, because it would look bad if he didn’t.  Our Lord confirms that Judas indeed is the son of perdition and then dismisses him to set about his evil task.

Then imagine the sigh of relief which must have gone around the room.  No doubt, the apostles had an inner uncomfortable feeling whenever Judas was present.  There was something very unwholesome about the man who was always worried about the money purse.

Now Our Lord opened His Heart to His apostles in a most beautiful way.  He explained how He would not leave them orphans but would send The Holy Ghost, the Paraclete.  He explained to them that if they kept His Commandments, they would prove their love for Him and He and His Father would abide in them.  They then said the customary hymn and departed the room.

 COLLOQUY:[5]

(As St. Ignatius advises us, we make our colloquy to Our Lord.)

O my Sweetest Jesus, how can I thank Thee enough for all Thy edifying examples of Thy virtues?  I have not appreciated Thee enough because I have not penetrated the depths of Thine examples.  I have not pondered Thy Hidden life and Thy Public life enough.  Help me to start a new course now where I can delve into the lessons Thou dost intend for me to learn.  Help me to appreciate Thy explanation of Thy Father and how I am supposed to dwell in Thee and Thy Father.   Help me to study Thy every action and word so I can understand how to imitate Thee.  Help me embrace Thy Sacred Heart and discover Its riches.  I want to follow Thee unto death.  I need Thee, O my Beloved.  Help me to be a docile student.  (I will close with an Our Father.)


St. Ignatius labels his second framework, “SECOND CONTEMPLATION”.

The second contemplation in the morning will be on the mysteries from the Last Supper to the Garden inclusive. [This includes the Agony]

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 will be how Our Lord descended with His eleven disciples from Mount Sion, where the Supper was held, to the Valley of Josaphat.  Leaving the eight in one part of the valley, He took the other three apart into the Garden.  He then began to pray and His sweat became as drops of blood.  Three times He prayed to His Father, and three times He aroused His disciples from sleep.  After His enemies fell to the ground at the sound of His voice, and Judas gave Him the kiss of peace, after He restored the ear of Malchus which Peter had cut off, He was seized like a malefactor and He was led through the valley and back up the slope to the house of Annas.

The SECOND PRELUDE is a visualization of the place.  Here it will be to consider the road from Mount Sion to the Valley of Josaphat, and likewise the Garden: its width, its length, and its general appearance.

The THIRD PRELUDE is to ask for what I desire.  In the Passion the proper thing to ask for is grief with Christ suffering, a broken heart with Christ heartbroken, tears, and deep suffering because of the great suffering that Christ endured for me.

Notes: in this second contemplation, after the preparatory prayer and the three preludes already mentioned, the same procedure is to be followed for the points and the colloquies as is found in the first contemplation on the Last Supper. [St. Ignatius explains the times of the day when these are to be done.] Then at a separate time period the application of the senses will be made on the matter of these two contemplations, always beginning with the preparatory prayer and the three preludes, according to the subject matter.  The form is the same as that prescribed and explained for the second week.

In this second meditation lesson we focus from the end of the Last Supper to the Agony of Our Lord and His arrest.

Painting the scene and giving some considerations.

Our Lord and His apostles left the Cenacle.  They walked along and made their way to the Garden of Olives.

Our Lord continued His heart-rending discourse.  He tells His apostles how His Father is the husbandman of the vineyard Who takes care of them as the branches.  Indeed, He tells them that He is the vine and they are the branches and in this way they are united to His Heavenly Father.  Thus, He shows God makes a bond of perfection between God and men.  Furthermore, He relates that His Heavenly Father purges them by the means of trials so they can bring forth more fruit. 

He told them that they would have to suffer persecution for His sake, and in this persecution they would be imitating Him Who was persecuted first.   

The apostles surely could sense a certain special solemnity and finality in His words, especially when He told them that He would be leaving them to return to His Father.  They were disturbed and worried about what was going to happen.  Our Lord continued to console them, “In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.” (St. John 16:33)

Next, Our Lord prayed to His Father aloud.[6]  He wanted them to hear the wording of His prayer.  This prayer is like a love letter of the Divine Son to His Heavenly Father because it clearly shows His Divine Sonship and His Infinite Love for His Father.  Oh, such an especially consoling prayer which shows Our Lord’s tender Sacred Heart!  He prayed for His Apostles and for us, too, “And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in Me; that they may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.”  (St. John 17:20-21)  Think about how Our Lord willed for this prayer to be recorded in the Gospel so we could benefit by reading it and pondering it.  What tremendous Providential care He manifests to His Mystical Body!

The apostles sensed a change in Our Lord.  His demeanor became even more somber.  His heart began to be afraid and heavy.  He said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.”(St. Mark 14:31)  They must have wondered about this.  What kind of burden was He carrying?  They did not realize that He was feeling the weight of all sin overtaking His soul.  This innocent Lamb of God was taking onto Himself the guilt and shame of every sin of every rational human being from the beginning of time to the end of time.  “For My iniquities are gone over My Head: and as a heavy burden are become heavy upon Me.”(Ps. 37:5)

He told His apostles to sit and pray, and He took Peter, James, and John with Him.  He went forward a little and fell flat on the ground.  He prayed earnestly that His Heavenly Father would take the chalice of suffering from Him.  Of course, He wants to do the Will of His Father and adds, “But not what I will, but what Thou wilt.”

He went to the three and found them sleeping “for sorrow”.   They were overcome with the tension of the night.  Our Lord woke Peter up and said to him, “Simon, sleepest thou?  Couldst thou not watch one hour?  Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation.” (St. Mark 14:37)

“And being in an agony, He prayed the longer” (St. Luke 22:43).  Our Lord persevered in prayer, especially when in great need.  This is mentioned for us in the Gospel because Our Lord wants us to follow His example.

What did Our Lord see that brings upon Him so much grief?  He saw so many souls going to hell in spite of the Passion and Death He was about to undergo.  Yes, even the majority of Catholics go to hell!  He died for the sins of all mankind yet so many sinners never repent.  He saw the ingratitude of so many Catholics and saw them being lukewarm.  He saw the Church militant being persecuted.  He saw His clerics, religious, and prelates, including Popes, trying to destroy His Mystical Body.  What mental anguish for Our Dear Lord! 

He began to sweat blood.  Beads of blood formed on all of His skin, clotted, and were borne to the ground by His profuse sweat.  “I am poured out like water.” (Ps. 21:15)  His skin, which was perfect, became extremely tender and sensitive to any touch.  Remember, He willed to suffer everything because He loves His Father.  Everything that touched His skin caused Him intense pain.  He will suffer so many blows, scourges, and then the additional suffering of having His clothes torn off of His tender body.  Oh what exquisite pain!  Remember, He saw all this in advance and even though He had not yet experienced all of it, the mere anticipation of it must have added to His anguish.

He not only felt the weight of guilt for all sins, He also felt all their malice to His Heavenly Father.  He felt the insult which sin inflicts on His Father’s honor and the displeasure which sin causes His Father.  “Thy wrath is strong over me: and all thy waves thou hast brought in upon Me.” (Ps.87:8) and again, “Thy wrath hath come upon Me: and Thy terrors have troubled Me.” (Ps. 87:17) Yes, sin is ugly and He was taking every wretched stain and the guilt of sin upon Himself.  This is the price of the Honor and Majesty of God!

He has suffered the bitter scorn of His nation.  He was the outcast of the people and He felt their hatred, even after He had shown them so much love and goodness in His miracles and doctrine.  They had already despised Him in His public life so far and then with their unjust demands for His death on the Cross, they will show their hatred all the more.  “They are multiplied above the hairs of My head, who hate without cause.” (Ps. 68:5)  He sees all of this in advance and this adds to the extreme sorrow of His Heart. “O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to My sorrow: for he hath vintage of Me, as the Lord spoke in the day of His fierce anger.” (Lamentations of Jeremias, 1:12)

God the Father gave the Elect to the Son, and in order to give the Elect back to His Father, He must pay the price of salvation.  Few are chosen, because God wants quality not quantity.  Our Lord is preparing His Body for the strikers by undergoing this bloody sweat so His Body would be extra sensitive to the pain that would come.  See how much He loves His Heavenly Father and wants to pay for sin.  It is as if He chose to suffer in the most horrific ways to show His Infinite Love for His Father.  Certainly, He proves that He can pay the Infinite price for the malice of sin and restore the Honor of His Father.

How heart-breaking it must have been for Him to see Judas, one of His own apostles, coming with the soldiers and the multitude to arrest Him.  How is it that this traitor will betray Our Lord with a sign of affection?  The touch of that kiss on Our Lord’s cheek must have burned because of the great hypocrisy of this son of perdition.  “Judas, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

Our Lord asked whom they seek.  They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” What power Our Lord showed to them all, including Judas who was standing among the enemy, when Our Lord answered, “Ego sum”, that is, “I am.”  How fitting it was that upon declaring His Divinity in these words, that His assailants all fell backwards onto the ground.  They did not do as men usually do when falling—try to break their fall by putting their arms behind themselves; they simply fell backwards with no control over the results.  Yet, they were so blind with pride they continued in their folly of attempting to arrest the Messiah.  Our Lord allowed them to arrest Him.  Peter, so much in love with Our Lord, put up a fight and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, Malchus.  Our Lord healed the ear immediately and told Peter to put his sword away.

How blind Judas and the enemy are with pride that they do not recognize these wonderful works of Our Lord, namely, His throwing them all backwards to the ground!  The apostles did not fall backwards, but only the enemy, and yet the enemy said nothing about what had just happened.   Then Our Lord healed the ear of Malchus in front of them all and they did not make one comment upon this.

 Our Lord then told them, “When I was daily with you in the temple, you did not stretch forth your hands against Me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”  Yes, this is their hour of evil.  Thus, He humbly submits to His arresters.  The apostles all fled.

How alone and rejected Our Lord must have felt.  “And they that were near Me, stood afar off.” And again, “I looked for one that would grieve together with Me, but there was none:  and for one that would comfort Me, and I found none.” (Ps. 68:21)

We must remember that Our Lord was the master of His own passion and death.  He could foresee all that would happen and He willed it to be this way for the greater honor and glory of His Heavenly Father.

COLLOQUY:[7] (As St. Ignatius advises us, we make our colloquy to Our Lord.)

O Lord, how often have I been ashamed of my wrongs and have tried to hide my shame or deny my wrong-doings!  Help me to embrace the shame and confusion that I deserve.  Help me to be ever-grateful to Thee for having suffered so much for me. Thou hast been so merciful to me.  Thou hast been so patient with me.  Help me to be ever-grateful to Thee for Thy tender mercies.  I thank Thee for Thy forgiveness.  I am in great need of Thy further mercy.  Help me to penetrate the profound depth of all Thy suffering.  Help me to put myself in thy shoes and thereby get a glimpse of Thy sorrow and grief.  Help me weep for my sins which caused Thee so much torment and pain, both mental and physical.  By this means I will find the courage to do the penance of reparation I need to make to Thee.  Oh, my dearest Lord and Messiah, Thou art my Savior if I am faithful to Thee unto death.  Please help me to be faithful to Thee.  Oh, and I thank Thee for Thy loving prayer that Thou hast left to prove Thy love for Thy Heavenly Father and Thy love for my poor soul.    Please teach me to love Thee with a greater love so I can belong entirely to Thee in time and in eternity. (I will close with an Our Father.)

In our next lesson we will set out a meditation on the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord.   We will concentrate on Our Lord’s Humility and Infinite Love for His Father.



[1]           A list of the other suggested meditations and their points that St. Ignatius gave will be given at the end of our entire treatment of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises and included in the book form we intend to make available.

[2]           St. Ignatius sets his Exercises up in the thirty-day retreat in such a way that the exercitant rises at night to do some of the meditations. Likewise in the 2nd contemplation when he mentions the suggested time of doing the meditation to be in the morning, this is based on the thirty-day retreat instructions.

[3]           St. Ignatius adds this note: It is to be observed, as has already been stated in part, that in the colloquies I must exercise my reason and make supplication according to the present circumstances.  That is to say, whether I am being tempted or experiencing consolation, whether I wish to have one virtue or another, whether I try to dispose myself in one direction or another, whether I desire to lament or rejoice in the matter of my contemplation.  Finally, I shall ask for what I most earnestly desire regarding the particular things that I am considering.  In this way I may have just one colloquy with Christ Our Lord, or if the subject matter or devotion prompts me to do one with the Son, and one with the Father, in the manner that was prescribed in the second week, in the meditation on two standards, together with the note following the meditation on the three classes of men.

 

[4]           The Scriptural texts that pertain to this meditation are Matt. 26:17-46; Mark 14:26-42; Luke 22:1-39; John 13 &14

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

[6]           This prayer is the entire chapter 17 of St. John.   Our Lord wants this prayer to be heard by His apostles and to be recorded for our benefit too.

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

Lesson #25 – Explanation on the Three Modes of Humility

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

Lesson #25 – The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – SECOND WEEK – EXPLANATION ON THE THREE MODES OF HUMILITY

This part of the Spiritual Exercises is not, strictly speaking, set up in the form of a meditation.  But one could certainly adapt this information into a meditation.  One would take the information given by St. Ignatius and ponder these points and make the suggested colloquies.   One could structure the information like St. Ignatius does.  Below we will first set out the explanation as St. Ignatius gives it and then we will set forth a structure which one could use if he were going to meditate on the information.

THE THREE MODES OF HUMILITY

The first mode of humility is necessary for eternal salvation. This requires that I humble and abase myself as much as is possible for me, in order that I may obey in all things the law of God Our Lord.  Accordingly, I would not give consideration to the thought of breaking any commandment, divine or human, that binds me under pain of mortal sin, even though this offense would make me master of all creation or would preserve my life on earth.

The second mode of humility is more perfect than the first. I am in possession of it if my state of mind is such that I neither desire nor even prefer to have riches rather than poverty, to seek honor rather than dishonor, to have a long life rather than a short one, provided that here be the same opportunity to serve God Our Lord, and to save my soul.  Nor would I, for the sake of all creation or the purpose of saving my life, consider committing a single venial sin.

The third mode of humility is the most perfect.  This exists when the first and second forms are already possessed, and the praise and glory of the Divine Majesty being equally served, I desire and choose poverty with Christ poor[1] rather than riches, in order to be more like Christ Our Lord; [and] when I choose reproaches with Christ,[2] thus, [choosing] suffering rather than honor, and when I am willing to be considered as worthless and a fool for Christ Who suffered such treatment before me, rather than to be esteemed as wise and prudent in this world.

If one desires to attain this third form of humility, it will be very profitable for him to make the three colloquies on the three classes of men (mentioned earlier).  He should implore Our Lord to be pleased to choose him for this third form of humility, which is greater and more perfect, so that he may better imitate and serve Him, provided it be for the equal or greater service and praise of His Divine Majesty.


Now We Set Up this Information as a Meditation.

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: is to think of the three degrees of humility that St. Ignatius sets out for us.

The SECOND PRELUDE: to ask for the grace that I desire.  Here it will be to ask of Our Lord the grace that I may attain to the third degree of humility.

The FIRST POINT: THE 1ST MODE OF HUMILITY requires that one stay out of mortal sin.

The SECOND POINT: THE 2ND MODE OF HUMILITY requires one to stay out of venial sin.

The THIRD POINT: THE 3RD MODE OF HUMILITY requires one to imitate Our Lord by choosing poverty and to suffer reproaches like Our Lord did.

The COLLOQUY: We make the same type of colloquies that we made to Our Lady, Our Lord, and Our Heavenly Father in the meditation on the Two Standards.  Here I will beg for the third mode of humility which I am so unworthy of and which I need in order to have the most intimate friendship with the Holy Trinity.

Do we really desire humility?

We can well remember Our Lord’s words, “Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.” [St. Matthew’s Gospel, 18:3-4]

How humble is humble enough?  If we find ourselves asking this question, then we might well wonder if we lack magnanimity of soul.  For magnanimity requires that we want to do the most we can to serve God Our Creator and Heavenly Father.

Our Lord is telling us that no one gets to heaven without having humility.  St. Ignatius explains to us three modes of humility and that if we possess at least one of these modes of humility we can indeed save our souls.  Yet, we must keep in mind that his explanation is given to us in order that we can examine ourselves and see how important humility is to us, and furthermore, to truly examine how much we love Christ.  Are we truly willing to imitate Christ, especially His humility?   St. Ignatius would invite us to ponder these three modes of humility so closely as to turn our pondering into a meditation bearing the fruit of begging Christ to increase our humility and our love for Him.  Indeed, St. Ignatius would have us learn so much about our own lack of humility and subsequent lack of ardor for Christ, that we will then greatly yearn for the third mode of humility and we will earnestly beg Our Lord to give us the third mode.  Now let us study the three modes of humility in order to increase our desiring the best for our souls and to foster the deepest and most beautiful friendship with Christ we can have. 

Considerations for the FIRST POINT: Those who possess the first mode of humility never want to commit a mortal sin.

St. Ignatius tells us that the souls who fall into this first mode are those souls who do not want to offend God by mortal sin.  They truly have a fear of committing mortal sin.  Yet this is the lowest degree of humility and we cannot save our souls without at least this grade of humility.  In order to preserve this degree, we must follow Our Lord’s precept to pray and be vigilant, “Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” [St. Matthew’s Gospel, 26:41]

It is so important to consider that to shoot for such a minimum of humility is not very generous.  What friend would we be to someone if we said to him, “We love you enough to not want to kill you”?  Surely, our love should be far greater than this!

True friends do not want to hurt each other in any way.  Therefore, we should not want to hurt Our Lord by anything that would displease Him.

The practical reality of someone being content to attain only this mode of humility is that he most likely will not be able to maintain this and will likely fall into mortal sin.  If we keep in mind how fragile our fallen human nature is, we can clearly see how easily one can fall into sin and lose his soul.  Think of the angels who were created with high intellects and fell.  Think of our first parents, who were dwelling in Paradise and fell.  Add to this the fact that King David, a man according to the heart of God, fell.  Further remember Solomon, who was endowed by God with extraordinary wisdom but fell.  Finally think of how even St. Peter, especially chosen by Our Lord to lead His apostles and His Church, yet he fell when he denied Our Lord three times.  Should we not have a great fear of becoming lukewarm and settling for mediocrity in our souls?  We should want to stay far away from any thing and any occasion which would not be Christ-like or that He would see as a danger to our souls.  May this be strong enough evidence to convince us not to be satisfied with having this mode of humility!

Considerations for the SECOND POINT: Those who possess the second mode of humility never want to commit a venial sin.

St. Ignatius tells us that the soul in this mode has reached a degree of detachment from creatures.  This soul has attained such holy indifference to temporal things, such as honor and dishonor, wealth and poverty, health and sickness, a long life or a short life.  This soul wants to avoid venial sin and all occasions of sin.

Although this soul is noble in its aspirations, where exactly does this soul stand?  Fr. Hurter gives us these self-examination questions regarding this mode of humility:

Have we attained this degree?  How easily we are deceived if we look at our good resolution and trust our frequent confessions.  But whence the many relapses into venial sin?  Why our many complaints when adversity strikes us, when the Lord is in earnest and takes us at our word, when He sends us humiliations, privations and sufferings?  Whence that craving within us, which rules us completely, for honors, comforts, and worldly joys?  Whence this dread of sacrifice, mortification, and self-abnegation?  Are we striving with all our strength to submit to the will of God?  For it is self-evident, on attentive consideration, that this is necessary if we would remain in the second degree.  “He that contemneth small things shall fall little by little.” [Eccl. 19:1]  However, we must strive for a still higher perfection.[3]

Yes, we must be on our guard constantly to work with all our efforts to despise all venial sin, especially deliberate venial sin.  We must work tirelessly to avoid those venial sins committed through weakness by recognizing our human frailty and begging heaven’s assistance in striving to please God in all things and accepting all crosses and inconveniences.

As edifying as this mode of humility is described here, we must climb ever higher.  For the tenderest friendship with Christ demands still more of us.  The holy union with Christ which He expects us to seek requires everything from us.  Remember, our God is a jealous God and wants us to love Him with our whole heart, and with our whole soul, and with our whole mind.[4] He insists on us giving Him everything.  He must be all in all to us.  This is what true charity and Divine Friendship requires.  Thus, St. Ignatius explains to us the highest level of humility to which we will now turn our attention.

Considerations for the THIRD POINT:  Those who possess the third mode of humility seek to imitate Christ in all things, even accepting poverty and reproaches for the praise and glory of the Divine Majesty.

This mode of humility is the highest.  Let us reflect on Fr. Hurter’s inspiring words to help us desire this mode of humility which leads to perfection.

This degree does not stop at indifference to poverty or riches, honor or dishonor, but provided the honor of God claims nothing else, this degree of humility actually decides in favor of that which the Savior chose as His portion, that is, poverty, shame, and suffering. What a grand, noble, and exalted disposition of the soul!  To come to such a conclusion the following motives should persuade us:

1) The love of our dear Divine Redeemer.  Indeed, we promised Him, “I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”

2) The conviction that whatever the Lord, Who is wisdom itself, chooses, is the best, the most perfect, and will be the most useful for us.

3) The example of the saints, who were encouraged and drawn by the example of Our Divine Savior, and entered upon this road, seeking, loving, and choosing poverty, contempt, and suffering.

4) Even the example of the children of this world, who in their love of a human being, as of a child or a bride, or in their hopes of temporal gain or passing reward, even for carrying out their evil intentions, make great sacrifices, lead a very troublesome life, and take upon themselves great hardships.  Think of the soldier, the miner, the railroad-man.  Their lives are often harder than the mortified life of the penitent in the desert or the members of the strictest religious orders.

5) Glance at the reward given, not only in the hereafter, but already in this life.  There ensues even here below, as a result of a such a disposition of mind, a peace which the world does not and cannot give, and a joy of the kind which the Apostles experienced when they had been scourged. “And they indeed went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.” [Acts 5:41] “I am,” declares St. Paul, “filled with comfort; I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulation.” No wonder that such souls have a taste of joy, in fact, are filled with joy; they are even now elevated above the things of earth, and can say with the Apostle of the gentiles: “But the things that were a gain to me, the same have I counted loss for Christ.  Furthermore, I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord.” [Phil. 3:7]

6) The blessing which rests on them for such a disposition of mind, and on the labors for the salvation of the souls of others.  Truly Apostolic men are indeed apt instruments in the hands of Christ.  They prefer sacrifices, self-denial, and suffering.  They do not seek themselves, but the greater honor of God.  Hence, we see the real followers of Our Divine Savior on the way to the cross rendering great service in the conversion of sinners.[5]

This third mode of humility is so perfecting and beautiful we should desire with all our hearts to have it!  We should strive after this exalted degree of humility with the help of Our Lady and her Divine Son.  Let us implore God to elect and elevate us to it. Let us prepare ourselves by degrees for this grade of humility.

But exactly what is necessary to reach this mode of humility?

·         Let us resolve not only to avoid all mortal sin but to despise all venial sin, indeed to despise the very shadow of sin!

 

·         Let us resolve to make good use of the daily opportunities for mortification and self-denial, to become accustomed to patiently bear rebukes, slights, and humiliations.

 

·         Let us strive to be masters of ourselves and endeavor to be faithful followers and imitators of Christ Himself.

 

·         Let us purify our intentions, and please Our Lord as the Mystical Spouse of our souls.[6]

There is nothing higher for the soul to aspire to than the Mystical Marriage with Our Lord, the heavenly Bridegroom.[7]  Our Lord refers to Himself as the Bridegroom many times in the Gospels, for indeed, He intends that every elect soul be His spouse.  Hence, St. Ignatius tells us to implore Our Lord to choose us for this mode of humility so we can better imitate Him and serve Him in our lives.  What better result can be gotten from our cooperation in what we set out to accomplish from the first meditations on the Principle and Foundation?  What noble friendship with Our Dear Lord Jesus Christ!!

Concluding thoughts:

Now we find that we can turn our thoughts to our begging colloquies that St. Ignatius recommended to those who desire to attain this third form of humility—for only this third form should satisfy our soul’s hunger for Christ!

COLLOQUY:[8]

[Addressing Our Lady as St. Ignatius advised us to do.] O, my mother Mary, I desire with all my heart to have this third degree of humility.  Thou, tender Mother and excellent model of humility, were uniquely fashioned by God to help me, thy poor child to learn humility.  I place myself in thy maternal hands.  Please assist me to despise all sin and all things which are displeasing to Thy Son.  Please aid me, dearest, tenderest, Mother, to embrace all suffering, both moral and physical, so I can better learn to imitate thy Divine Son.  The Divine Bridegroom is attractive to me and I need thy help, O Mary, to properly dispose my soul for Him.  I beg thee, dearest Mother Mary, to guide me and teach me all I need to know in order to please thy Son. I will say a Hail Mary.

[Then St. Ignatius has us address Our Lord with a similar colloquy.] O my dearest Lord Jesus Christ, I love Thee and I need Thee.  I beg Thee to help me by giving me this third mode of humility.  I know I am so unworthy of having this tremendous gift, and yet, I beg Thee from the bottom of my heart to grant me this deep humility.  O my sweet Jesus, Thy humility is so attractive and charming to me!  O how I long to imitate Thy humility!  Alas, I am so weak and inexperienced in imitating Thee that I have no real idea how to begin.  But I know that Thou will not despise my petition because Thou hast Thyself invited me when Thou said, “Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart,” and “Ask and you shall receive.”  I throw myself at Thy Feet and beg Thee to keep Thy countless examples of humility ever before my mind so I can ponder them and endeavor to imitate them. Close with an Anima Christi.

[Then I will address the Father with a similar colloquy.] O almighty Father, Thou hast given Thy Dear Son to us to be our Model of virtue. I beg Thee to help me follow Thy Son’s examples and imitate Him in all things.  Help me to faithfully use every circumstance as a golden opportunity to imitate Thy Divine Son.  Help me to have the strength to suffer whatever Thou art pleased to send me, both moral and physical suffering, even poverty and bearing the reproaches others inflict upon me. 

Help me to always see that nothing is more important than faithful service to Thee.  Likewise, help me to ever remember that whatever Thou hast chosen for my life and its circumstances, is because of Thy Providential care.  Thou hast loved me from all eternity and thus, all things are for my good and for Thy Divine Honor and Glory.  Let me delight in seeing Thee glorified in all things.  Also, I beg Thee to help me be ever grateful to Thee for all Thou dost in time and in eternity. Close with an Our Father.    

We have studied the Three Modes of Humility and have hopefully acquired a great desire to be of the third mode.  In our next two lessons we will study intimately Our Dear Lord’s Passion which will further help us pour out our hearts to beg Him to help us imitate His profound humility.  By our faithful imitation of Him we hope to better dispose our souls to receive the wonderful gift of the third mode of humility.   We hope to grow this noble heart-felt desire in these upcoming lessons/contemplations on the Passion of Our Lord.



[1]           i.e., in His Poverty.

[2]           i.e.,  suffering what He suffered.

[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 188.

 

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.

 

[4]            “Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” [St. Matthew 22:37-38]

[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 188-190.

 

[6]           These points are a paraphrase 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 191.

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

Lesson #24 – Meditation of the Three Classes of Men

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

Lesson #24 – The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – SECOND WEEK – MEDITATION ON THE THREE CLASSES OF MEN

In this lesson we study St. Ignatius’s famous meditation called the Three Classes of Men.  This meditation is a more subtle one and we must strive to understand the key message that St. Ignatius is giving us in this meditation.

His message harkens back to the proper use of creatures from our meditation on the Principle and Foundation Part II which was Lesson #11.[1]  There we discussed how creatures are supposed to be used solely for the service of God and to help us save our souls.  When one discovers there is a creature that is not useful for his salvation and the service of God, then he must rid himself of it. 

In this current meditation, St. Ignatius wants us to make a close examination of our own particular use of creatures.  We, no doubt, have some attachment to a creature which is an obstacle to our perfect service of God and to our salvation.  We must be convinced, like the third class of men (discussed below) that we must be completely detached from any obstacle which is between us and God.  When we are actually doing this meditation, it is often the case that we see more directly to which creature we are inordinately attached and we fortify our resolve to give up that attachment because we want to love God completely. 

This meditation helps us discover the demonic tricks which hinder us from ridding ourselves of inordinate attachments to creatures.  In this meditation we will consider the various inordinate attachments men typically have.  We will consider the consequences of delaying to get rid of bad attachments.  We will then discuss what happens if we try to retain our bad attachments by rationalizing that our attachment is not a problem after all.  Lastly, we will discuss the peace and harmony a person has within his soul when he truly renounces all inordinate attachments so he can serve God as He wills us to serve Him.

Before setting out our intended considerations, let us first see the material St. Ignatius gives for this meditation.

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 to consider three classes of men.  Each of them has acquired ten thousand ducats, but not purely, as they should have, for the love of God.  These men all wish to save their souls and find peace in God Our Lord by freeing themselves of the serious impediment arising from their attachment to this acquired money.

The SECOND PRELUDE: is the mental representation of the place.  Here I will behold myself standing in the presence of God Our Lord and all His saints, that I may desire and know what is most pleasing to His Divine Goodness.

The THIRD PRELUDE: I will ask for the grace that I desire.  Here it will be to beg for the grace to choose what is for the greater glory of His Divine Majesty and the salvation of my soul.

The FIRST class: They would like free themselves of the attachment they have for the money they acquired, in order to find peace in God Our Lord, and to be able to save their souls, but up to the hour of death they do not take the means.

The SECOND class: They want to free themselves of the attachment, but they wish to do so in such a way as to retain what they have acquired.  They want God to come to what they desire, and they do not resolve to give up the money in order to go to God, even though this would be the better state for them.

The THIRD class: They wish to free themselves of the attachment, but in such a way that their inclination will be neither to retain the thing acquired nor not to retain it, desiring to act only as God Our Lord shall inspire them and as it shall seem better to them for the service and praise of His Divine Majesty.  Meanwhile they wish to consider that they have in their hearts broken all the attachments, striving not to desire that thing nor anything else, unless it be only the service of God Our Lord that prompts their action.  Thus, the desire of being able to serve God Our Lord better will move them either to accept things or to give them up.   

The COLLOQUY:  we can make the same colloquies that were made in the previous contemplation or the Two Standards.

This meditation focuses on what to do when we discover that we have inordinate attachments to creatures.  Let us realize that as humans it is a given fact that we all have some inordinate attachment to one or more creatures.  This is a consequence of our fallen human nature.

What sort of things are we inordinately attached to?  Some typical examples are given below.

What are we supposed to do with inordinate attachments?  We get rid of them.

We all have things/creatures in our lives that are not good for our salvation.  We must discover what they are and be completely determined to rid ourselves of them without compromise or reservation.

Not only does our salvation depend on our complete detachment from creatures, but the mystical union which Our Lord intends to have with each Catholic is hindered by the obstacles we place between ourselves and the Bridegroom of our souls.[2]

Therefore, it is crucial that we be truly detached from creatures and only use them according to the will of God.

Yet, when we come to the point of getting rid of them, humans often do one of three things and these three things correspond to the three classes of men. 

1.    The first class men are those who delay giving up the inordinate attachment(s).

2.    The second class men are those who try to rationalize that the inordinate attachment(s) is (are) somehow not really inordinate.
   

3.    The third class men are those who when they realize that the inordinate attachment(s) is (are) a danger to their salvation, they simply rid themselves of it (them). 

Let us firstly examine the typical attachments that we humans have and then analyze the way we humans commonly react to these types of attachments.   In this way we will be considering the substance of St. Ignatius’s meditation and then see how we can increase our desire to be truly like the third class of men and acquire holy indifference.

Typical obstacles in our human condition:

False human respect:

We humans often worry too much about what others think of us and our actions.  We do not want to stand out and look different.  There are strong temptations to go along with the world in its fashions, and worldly activities. 

We often worry that if we have Mary-like modesty or moral standards that please Our Lord and King, then we will be considered weird or prudish.  We worry what our extended families or friends will think of us when we should really be concerned about what Our Lord and Our Lady will think about us.

What does Our Lord say about our being too concerned about what our relatives think about us? “He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me.” (St. Matthew’s Gospel, 10:37). 

Our Lord does not want us to have inordinate attachments to people, especially if they are bad companions for us.

Further, when our worldly friends and acquaintances are hostile to us because we put Christ first, He consoles us in these words: “If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”  (St. John’s Gospel, 15:20). 

If we are worried about people not liking our principled stand on Catholic Faith and Morals, we do well to remember these precious words of Our Lord and take courage and strength from them. 

Some additional consoling words are: “If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated Me before you.”  (St. John’s Gospel, 15:18).  “In the world you will have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.”  (St. John’s Gospel, 16:33).

The Book of Wisdom teaches that worldlings despise the just.  Therefore, we must expect reproach and scorn from those who are worldly.  They will never agree with us and if we are trying to please Our Lord and Our Lady, we will necessarily be a thorn in the side of the worldly.  Our Dear Lord and His Mother suffered greatly from the worldly of their time, so we must not be surprised if we are misunderstood and held in contempt if we are imitating Our Lord and His Mother.


Comforts
:

Here we must examine how we view our comforts both physical and spiritual.  Do we squawk when we encounter physical discomfort, e.g., it’s too warm or it’s too cold?  What do we do when we have some physical ailment or pain?  What do we do when we don’t feel like delving into intellectual work?   Are we prone to want to relax and take it easy?  Am I attached to some favorite clothes, shoes, or accessories?  


Gadgets:

Here we must examine our use of technology.  Do we have to have the latest electronic equipment?   How much time do we spent focused on our modern equipment?  


Pleasures:

Here we examine what delights us.  How do we spend our time?  Do we occupy our time with things that are wholesome and pleasing to God?  Are we attached to shallow and worldly amusements, travel, dining out, etc.?  Are we attached to some particular food(s) or beverage(s)?


Conveniences
:

Here we examine how we use the things which make our life easier.  How do we handle circumstances when one of these useful things is not available to us at a given time?  Do we get upset?  Do we think the situation is a horrible cross?  Do we tell ourselves that we cannot manage without this object?  Now is a good time to examine how we handle circumstances, in general, that do not go favorably for us.  Are we so attached to having our own way that we do not readily accept things that come to us?  (Are we too attached to our selfish will?)


Property:

Here we examine how we view our property.  Do we have the spirit of poverty when it comes to our belongings?  If something were to happen to our property, what would our reaction be?  Is there something we own that would be considered by Our Lord or Our Lady as a worldly luxury?  Is there something we own which we use only to pamper ourselves?

People:

Here we examine our friendships and acquaintances.  Do they help us save our souls?  Do they help us increase in virtue?  By contrast, do they “drag us down”?


A sign to help us identify inordinate attachments:

One clear indication that we have a dangerous attachment to a person, place, or thing is to ask ourselves if something were to happen to [fill-in-the-blank], what would my reaction be?  Our reaction should be, “Whatever God wants is what I want”.

Like Job, we should say:

The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord.

 Job, 1:21.

If this is not our reaction, then we have an inordinate attachment.


Having found an inordinate attachment, how do humans react?

The first class of men delays getting rid of the inordinate attachment.

Men who fall into the first class do want to save their souls and yet they do not actually do what they know they should in order to save their souls.

We can truly consider how men in this class neglect to think about, let alone ponder, the Principle and Foundation.  They are considered by St. Ignatius to be procrastinators for they always tell themselves that they will take the means to save their souls later.  They put off until tomorrow what ought to be done today. They do not worry about the fact that man is created to praise, revere, and serve God and that he is to use creatures only insofar as they help him to obtain his end.  They do not weigh all of their actions in light of eternity.  Therefore, they do not have an eternal perspective.  

If they are not fulfilling the principle and foundation, what are they doing?   Fr. Hurter describes the focus of men who delay ridding themselves of their inordinate attachments:

The principles of the world rule and guide their judgment; they are not penetrated by the sentiments of Our Divine Savior.  They strive for comfort, honors, dignities, prestige and praise, not for the greater honor of God and the salvation of souls.  They have a passion for entertainments and amusements, but dread self-denial and mortification.  Spiritual exercises not binding under pain of mortal sin they neglect.  If, for some reason or other, they do attend spiritual exercises, they may indeed make some good resolutions, but without permanent results.  There is no earnest endeavor to reduce them to practice, for old customs and long-established habits choke the sprouting seeds (or correct desire to be rid of inordinate attachments).[3]

These are sufficient considerations to warn us about the danger of falling into this class.  Now let consider the second class of men.


The second class of men rationalizes and tries to make it look like the inordinate attachment is not a danger to salvation.

When a second-class man realizes that he has an inordinate attachment, he rationalizes so that he can keep the object to which he is inordinately attached.  The devil seeks to trick people to keep their inordinate attachment under the appearance of good.  The person tells himself that he could do so much good by keeping the thing he is inordinately attached to.

For example,

Ø  “I should keep associating the those (bad) companions (that are still a danger to my soul) because I can be a good example for them.”

Ø  “I should stay in that (compromise) group because I can influence them for the good from within.”

Ø  “I should receive those (compromise) sacraments because I need to get my children in the habit of receiving the sacraments.”

Ø  “I should keep my (worldly) media-streaming device because it will help me save my soul by watching (so-called) ‘holy’ movies.”

Ø  “I should not do extra penance because it will ruin my good health.” 

The devil also tempts us to think that we have a real need for something and that we cannot function without it.  When we find an attachment and we suspect it is an inordinate one, if we find ourselves coming up with a string of apparent reasons why we need the object, this is a very big clue that we have an inordinate attachment to the object.  Then it is important that we use Ignatian discernment to weigh whether at our deathbed we will have wished that we had rid ourselves of that object.  If we can see that we would regret at our particular judgment that we kept the object in our life, then we know that we have an inordinate attachment to the object.  We know what to do – detach ourselves from it!

God does not try to trick us.  Our reason must be used to weigh how we use creatures.  God expects us to use our reason to make a proper choice on how to use objects and which objects are dangerous to our salvation.  In other words, God expects us to be able to figure out whether something is an obstacle to our salvation or not.

We, therefore, have to be on our guard to not rationalize about things that we desire.   We must make our hearts docile to the Holy Ghost and to be willing to give up whatever diminishes our love of God.  We must be willing to give ourselves unconditionally to God.

Now that we have probed the subtle snares of the devil which draw men to be in the second class, let us turn our thoughts to the third class of men.


The third class of men gets rid of the inordinate attachment because he loves God and does not want to perish for all eternity.

This class of men includes those who truly want to be friends of Christ and please Him in all things.  The saints in heaven were in this class of men.  These souls did not count the cost of their sacrifices to God.  They gave Him all.  They wanted to love God above all things and would never want to offend Him in any way.  They did not want to place any obstacles between God and themselves.

This leads us back to the Ignatian holy indifference which we discussed in detail in Lesson #11.   We must be indifferent to our own wants and desires if these be opposed to God in any way.  In other words, we must be detached from ourselves.  With self-knowledge, we can easily detect if our own will is emerging and we are beginning to veer from trying to seek God’s Will.  We must pray hard to keep the will of God first and foremost in our minds.  We must watch carefully to see the circumstances and discern what God’s will actually is.  One rule of thumb to remember is that if something is out of our control, then we know that it is God’s will for us.  Then we strive to lovingly accept it and persevere in doing God’s will.


COLLOQUY:  

[Addressing Our Lady as St. Ignatius advised us to do.] O, my mother Mary, help me to root out anything in me that is displeasing to Thy Son.  Assist me to immediately cast out any inordinate attachment I have.   Please do not let the folly of procrastination enter into my soul, for I will surely perish eternally if this spirit is in me.  Help me, dear Mother, to want to focus entirely on thy Divine Son and never let any obstacle obscure my gaze on Him Who is most worthy of my love.

[Then St. Ignatius has us address Our Lord with a similar colloquy.] O my dearest Lord Jesus Christ, I love Thee and I need Thee.  I beg Thee to help me to have no attachment to things of this earth.  I want Thee to ever be my first priority in my life and for all eternity.  The sly fox, the devil, will ever try to distract me from the love of Thee.  He will tempt me with countless things to obscure my mind from thinking of my eternal end.  I need Thee, O my Savior, to guide me and keep me faithful to thee.  I never want anything to be an obstacle to my union with Thee.

[Then I will address the Father with a similar colloquy.]  O most almighty Father, I beg Thine assistance to help me see the proper use of Thy creatures.  Help me to not let any obstacle get in the way of the service and praise that I owe to Thee.  I want Thee with my whole heart.  Please grant me the grace to ever see if I am becoming attached to any creature.  Please give me the fortitude to ruthlessly detach myself immediately from such a creature.  Suffer me not to love any creature more than Thee and not to delay ridding myself from such a dangerous attachment.  Let me give myself entirely to Thee without compromise or reservation.  O be Thou King and Center of my poor heart forever in time and in eternity.

This meditation nicely complements the next lesson which is an explanation of the Three Modes of Humility.  This next lesson will also help us probe ourselves to find out how willing we truly are to suffer for Christ.



[1]           Lesson #11 The Principle and Foundation – Part 2 can be found here: https://catholiccandle.org/2022/06/27/lesson-11-the-principle-and-foundation-part-ii/

[2]           The Mystical Doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross, explains the importance of detachment this way:

 

It is well, then, for us to journey to Him by denying ourselves everything.  For otherwise, even if the soul be so wise, humble, and strong that the devil cannot deceive it by visions or cause it to fall into some sin of presumption, as he is wont to do, he will not allow it to make progress; for he sets obstacles in the way of spiritual detachment, poverty of spirit, and emptiness in faith, which are the essential conditions for union of the soul with God.

 

St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book III, ch.24, #9.

 

By emptiness of faith, he means that we must be willing to be detached even from spiritual consolations and sentimental comforts if God so wills to withdraw them from us.  In other words, we completely abandon our wills to the dear Lord.

 

[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 192.

Lesson #23 – Meditation of Two Standards

                    Mary’s School of Sanctity                   

Lesson #23 – The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – SECOND WEEK – THE MEDITATION ON THE TWO STANDARDS

In the last several lessons we have been using St. Ignatius’ method for a special way of meditating which is to focus on the sights, sounds, and actions of those we are considering.  This method is very profitable and helps us draw many conclusions with which to subsequently gain spiritual strength. This meditation which we now undertake will use this same method in a more in-depth manner.

This is the famous meditation on the Two Standards and it is especially beneficial for our spiritual life.  We will use our imagination to become familiar with this most momentous battle that takes place here on earth, namely, the battle between Christ and Satan.  Ever since the Fall of Adam this battle has been intense and will continue until the end of time.  If we truly want to be happy for all eternity, then it is crucial for us to study all the aspects of this battle.

Let us go forward, then, and take a detailed and careful look at the two sides engaged in this battle.  We cannot withstand our enemy if we do not know him and his tactics.  Also, we cannot be faithful Soldiers of Christ if we do not have an intimate knowledge of Him.  So let us study what we need to know to be valiant warriors in the Church Militant.

St. Ignatius first shows us the leader of each camp, then he elaborates the plan of each one, and lastly, he describes how each implements his plan. 

First, we set out what St. Ignatius gives us for this meditation, and then as usual we will give some possible considerations on those points that he lays out for us.

A Meditation on Two Standards

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 is the history of the subject matter.  Here it will be how Christ Our Lord calls and wants all men beneath His standard, and how Lucifer, on the contrary, wants all men under his.

The SECOND PRELUDE is the mental representation of the place. Here it will be to see a vast plain covering all the region about Jerusalem, where the supreme Leader of the good is Christ Our Lord; and another plain in the region of Babylon, where the evil chieftain of the enemy is Lucifer.

The THIRD PRELUDE: I will ask for the grace that I desire.  Here it will be to ask for a knowledge of the deceits of the evil chieftain and help to guard myself against them, and a knowledge of the true life which the supreme and true Leader reveals, and for the grace to imitate Him.

The FIRST POINT is to imagine how the evil chieftain of all the enemy is seated in the center of the vast plain of Babylon, on a great throne of fire and smoke—a horrible and terrible sight to behold.

The SECOND POINT is to consider how he calls together countless demons, and how he scatters them, some to one city, some to another, throughout the whole world, missing no province, no place, no state of life, nor even any single person.

The THIRD POINT is to listen to the harangue which he delivers to them, how he spurs them on to ensnare men and to bind them in chains.  He bids them first to tempt men with the lust of riches (as he is most accustomed to do), that they may thereby more easily gain the empty honor of the world, and then come to unbounded pride.  The first step in his snare is that of riches, the second honor, and the third pride.  From these three steps Satan leads on to all other vices.

In like manner, we are to imagine on the other hand, the supreme and true Leader, Who is Christ the Lord.

The FIRST POINT is to consider how Christ Our Lord takes His stand in a lowly place, in that great plain about Jerusalem, and He is beautiful and gracious to behold.

The SECOND POINT is to see how the Lord of the entire world chooses so many persons, apostles, disciples, etc., and sends them throughout the world to spread His sacred doctrine among men of every state and condition.

The THIRD POINT is to listen to the discourse which Christ Our Lord makes to all His servants and friends whom He sends on this mission, charging them that they should seek to help all men; first, by encouraging them to embrace the most perfect spiritual poverty, and if it should please His Divine Majesty, to choose them for it, also to embrace actual poverty. Secondly, by encouraging them to desire insults and contempt, for from these two things come humility.  So then there are three steps: the first, poverty opposed to riches; the second, scorn and contempt, opposed to worldly honor; the third, humility, opposed to pride.  From these three steps, let them lead men to all virtues.  

The COLLOQUY: I will now address a colloquy to Our Lady and I will ask her to obtain for me from her Son and Lord the grace that I may be received under His standard, first, in the most perfect spiritual poverty, and should it so please His Divine Majesty to choose me, also in actual poverty; secondly in bearing reproaches and offenses, thus imitate Him more perfectly, provided only I can suffer them without sin on the part of any other person or displeasure to His Divine Majesty.  Afterwards, I will say the “Hail Mary.”  I will ask the Son to obtain for me the same graces from the Father, and I will then recite the “Anima Christi.”

I will also ask the Father to grant me the same graces, and I will then say the “Our Father.”

The Two Leaders and Their Corresponding Standards

The Standard of Satan

Considerations for the FIRST POINT: we make a mental representation of the plain of Babylon with the devil on his fiery throne.

Once again, we can find help from Fr. Hurter’s setting forth the meat of the meditation.

a. Holy Writ depicts the evil spirit as the prince of darkness (Eph. 6:12; Col. 1:13) and the father of lies. (John 8:44).  As such he deceives and confuses, stirs up dust so that one cannot see, awakens doubt, leads to unbelief, and brings on fickleness of character.   Wherever we notice these traits, there is the smoke of hell and the evil spirit is at work.

b. According to Holy Writ he is a peace-disturber, who sows cockle (Matt 13:25) and the seeds of discord.   As such a turbulent being he causes unrest, excitement, tears hearts asunder, and shows a restless and violent demeanor.  Where that is to be found, there the smoke of hell is rising and the evil spirit is in the background.

c. He is the prince of hell, where despair is prevalent.  Hell is “a land of misery and darkness, where the shadow of death, and not order, but everlasting horror dwelleth.” (Job 10:22)   As prince of hell he causes sadness, disappointment, despondency, makes the heart to ache, and then to despair.  Where this frame of mind is prevalent, there is the smoke of hell, and there breathes the evil spirit.

d. He is the rebel, who from the beginning of the world rose up against God and through whom the spirit of revolt invaded paradise and now pervades the whole world.  As such, he naturally urges men on to stubbornness and obstinacy, awakens in them pride, and drives them to insubordination and rebellion against authority.  Where such fruits ripen, the smoke of hell is noticeable; there the evil spirit has already gained a considerable influence.[1]

Yes, let us see this horrific scene.  Look at Babylon – the place where the people conceitedly thought that they could build a tower to reach heaven.  But God confounded them by having them speak in different tongues.  How fitting for the proud evil one to pick this place to have his pompous fiery throne.

See how the devil with his unbounded pride pretends to be so very powerful.  He presumes that he has more knowledge than he really has.  He makes a big “show of strength” and pretends to be in charge of the world—as if he has control of everything!  In this way he tries to entice us to discouragement and despair.

He displays smoke, which represents the darkness of hell.  This smoke causes confusion everywhere.  This smoke also causes fear—that age old satanic tactic used as an attempt to overcome souls!! 

Remember to consider how the devil uses this same smoke as a means to hide his deceptions and his sowing of half-truths.

Look at the fire, too!  That fires dazzles brilliantly and plays on the senses.  It excites the senses not only to pleasures but also to fear as well.  It causes noise and movement in order to agitate the soul and make the soul extremely restless.

Indeed, the devil’s attack is a subtle one.  He hates God with all his might and attacks maliciously, ferociously, and unceasingly.  Furthermore, we must never forget that he cannot force us to sin and cannot do anything to us unless God permits it.  Remember, too, that we have powerful weapons against Satan.  In fact, St. Vincent de Paul tells us that, “the most powerful weapon with which to overcome the devil is humility; because not knowing how to use it, he does not even know how to defend himself from it.”[2]

Now that the scene is set in our imagination, let us study the wretched plan of action the devil has.

Considerations for the SECOND POINT: the devil expounds his plans

We will allow Fr. Hurter’s words to paint the vivid scene for us:  

In the council of war, which he holds with his partisans, Lucifer unfolds the following plea:

Awaken in the hearts of men a love, an attachment, and a passion for earthly goods.  When they are once engrossed by worldly riches they will run, work and strive for them, forget heaven and things eternal, and neglect the salvation of their souls.  Having met with some success, they become conceited, look down upon others, seek for flimsy honors and esteem, and then become ambitious.  When they have compassed distinction, they are captured by pride: and no sooner has pride obtained the mastery of the heart of men then they will take no advice, submit to no authority, however sacred, and they will make light of every commandment.  Thus, the way is cleared to self-deification, and the evil spirit is implicated in our rebellion against God.  The way to it, therefore, is avarice, ambition, and pride.[3]

Considerations for the THIRD POINT: the devil puts his plans into action

We see in the following quotes how Fr. Hurter describes how the devil puts his plans into action:

1. The prince of darkness, to carry his cunningly devised plan into effect, sends his spirits into every land and into all places.  No one can escape their promptings and temptation.  They are bent on carrying out the orders given them so eagerly that St. Peter warns the faithful: “Be sober, and watch, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.” {1 Peter 5:8}

It is sad, indeed, to see that thousands and thousands of men give themselves up to the devil as his assistants and tools to found and spread his kingdom upon earth, to plant his standard everywhere, and to entice their brethren into his net.  These aiders and abettors are more dangerous than the evil spirit himself.  They make use of every imaginable weapon, science, power, astuteness, deduction, threats and enticements.  They are always on the alert and work indefatigably for the ruin of souls, sparing no effort or sacrifice.  And of the terrible results the history of the world is an evident attestation.  How successful the craftiness of the evil spirit is!  What a scramble, what a striving and chasing after things of this earth!  Avarice and greed dominate the ways and doings of men.  What plans of ambition do they not pursue in all things!  How pride, emancipation from God, and self-deification of human society has increased![4]

It is obvious that the devil doesn’t miss anyone in his plan to devour souls.  He goes after both laity and religious. 

Fr. Hurter also relates how the devil attacks priests and religious in a more subtle way than he attacks the laity.  Firstly, the devil will divert religious from striving for perfection to the seeking of something for themselves in the way of bodily comforts and attachment to creatures.  In this manner the religious will become a less useful instrument in the hands of God and will not work for the salvation of souls.  The religious is then easily led to want the esteem of others, to think highly of himself and desire promotions.  Fr. Hurter gives us more insights about the cunning traps the devil lays for those consecrated to God:

He [the devil] will induce us [priests and religious] to have a high opinion of our talents and ability, to be prepossessed in our own favor, and consequently to seek preferments and places of honor, to feel easily slighted and offended, and to become jealous of others.  If he succeeds in this, our zeal for souls shall have been spoiled and we shall belong to those of whom the Apostle says: “For all seek the things that are their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s.” {Phil. 2:21}  He will tempt us to take any liberties by which we withdraw ourselves from the restraint of obedience, emancipate ourselves and become willful.  And thus, pride is nourished and the striving after real virtue and the following of Christ are undermined.[5]

St. Teresa of Avila gives us a similar warning about these dangers by saying, “It seems to me that honors and riches always go together: he who loves honor never hates riches, while he who hates riches seeks no honors.”[6]  

We see plainly how we must abhor riches because they are so dangerous to our salvation.  Listen to how St. Teresa of Avila is very frank when she gives a strong warning to her spiritual daughters in religion:

If poverty is real, it guards purity and all other virtues better than do fine buildings.  Keep to this, I beg of you by the love of God and His Blood.  If, with a good conscience, I could wish that the day you build a costly dwelling it may fall and kill you all – I say, if I could do so with good conscience – I would wish it and beg God to grant it.  It looks very ill, my daughters, to build fine houses with needy men’s alms!  God forbid it!  Ours should be poor and mean in every way.  Let us to this extent at least resemble our King.  He had no home except the stable of Bethlehem where He was born, and the Cross where He died.  Within these houses few luxuries could be found![7]

Because riches lead one to seek the praise of others, riches directly lead to the deadly sin of pride.  People tend to praise the rich because, in the weakness of fallen human nature, they seek to acquire benefits from the rich.  They pretend to be ‘friends’ of the rich person.  Indeed, how often is the case that if a rich person should happen to lose his riches, he is abandoned by everyone in a heartbeat! 

Rich people are impelled to feel empowered by their wealth because so many throng after them.  They commonly lord their wealth over others and soon become despotic.  This is indeed Satan’s plan.

The wealthy are incited to do anything to keep their wealth and Satan wants this aspect, too.  So obsessed does one become with money and material goods that he completely forgets and abandons God.  Satan would have every man, woman, and child on earth entrapped in this scheme if he could.

He sends his minions to capture as many souls as possible.  The lesser devils only obey Lucifer because they are afraid of him.  They hate him and they hate souls.  We must not think that the devils are perfectly united; they argue and fight among themselves as they work hard at dragging souls in their miserable direction.

As we shudder to imagine such a horrific scene, and as we acknowledge our constant danger, let us now turn to look at Our dear Lord Who will never abandon us poor exiles of this earth.

The Standard of Christ

Considerations for the FIRST POINT: we make a mental representation of the plain about Jerusalem.

The following inspiring text from Fr. Hurter shows us indeed the stark contrast between Satan and Christ:

How different is the physiognomy of Our Divine Savior, how lovely He appears in the light of the Gospel![8]

a. He is the true Light.  “I am the light of the world.” {John 8:12} As the light, He enlightens and transfigures everything, broadens the view, clears the sky, and produces serenity.  In that soul in which the sky is serene, which looks at all things in supernatural light, which is entirely filled with the light of faith, there breaks the spirit of Jesus Christ. [9]

b. Jesus by preference calls Himself the Son of man, and as such he comes forward most unassumingly, most condescendingly, and most mildly.  He is cordiality itself.  Condescension, mildness, cordiality are manifestations of the spirit of Jesus Christ.  Where we find these, we can easily conclude that it is His spirit.

c. Christ is our Savior.  “Thou shalt call His name Jesus,” said the angel to Mary in announcing His birth.  As Savior He expands the heart, sets men free from the bonds of sin, from the chains of passion and from the snares of the world; and inspires them with courage and confidence.  When one, even after mortal sin, rises quickly, does not lose courage, and confidently betakes himself to the feet of the Savior to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, there moves the spirit of Christ; there one can exclaim with Martha: “The Master is here, He calls you.” {John 11:28}

d. Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  Among the names of the future Emmanuel, the Prophet Isaias also mentions this one.  And indeed, He came to bring peace with God, with your neighbor, and with yourself.  As Prince of Peace He calms, comforts, pacifies.  If therefore, we feel within ourselves a true peace, elevated above the storms of passion, and if a friendly disposition suffuses our exterior, then we may conclude from this that the spirit of Christ dwells within us.[10]

Fr. Hurter enlightens us further on the amazing contrast between the followers of Satan and the followers of Christ:

The spirit of Jesus Christ is stamped upon the lives of the saints, whereas the spirit of the evil one marks the wicked.  The satellites of Satan are proud and full of conceit in appearance; arrogant and bold in speech; vehement and boisterous in manners; dark in expression of countenance and repulsive toward others, especially hard and heartless towards the poor.  They are real types of the hellish spirit! The saints are in appearance modest and unassuming; in their intercourse with others friendly and loving!  A heavenly peace suffuses their exterior; innocence and purity of heart beam forth from their eyes; cheerfulness transfigures their whole being.  Here it will be well for us to test our exterior and our manners, to see whether we are entirely penetrated by the spirit of Jesus Christ, or whether there is not something of the breath of the evil one upon us.[11]

Considerations for the SECOND POINT: Our Lord expounds His plan.

Fr. Hurter explains Our Lord’s beautiful plans:

What plan does our Divine Savior unfold?

He teaches His disciples and friends to warn people not to become attached to earthly things, but to be ever mindful of the fact that “we have not here a lasting city, but seek one that is to come.” {Heb. 13:14}

We are wanderers and pilgrims, and it is foolish to become altogether absorbed in earthly things which death will surely snatch away, and to forget things eternal.  They should instruct us how dangerous it is to pursue creatures that lead us away from God and our eternal destiny, and should always insist that “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” {Matt 5:3} This poverty in spirit is the first step in the following of Christ on the road to perfection.  When this is attained, it will be easier to renounce worldly honors, and to be indifferent to abuse and contempt.  When one has come thus far, the fear of God will gain the upper hand, and with it, real humility.  Where humility rules, all the other virtues thrive.  The way then to Christian perfection is poverty in spirit, contempt of the world, and humility.[12]

The quote we gave above from St. Teresa of Avila encourages us to hate honors and thereby hate riches.  She continues this theme saying:

I think that a thirst for honor always carries with it some regard for property and money; it is strange to see a poor man honored by the world, for however much he may deserve it he generally remains unnoticed. True poverty, undertaken for the sake of God, bears with it a certain dignity in that he who professes it need seek to please no one but Him, and there is no doubt that the man who asks no help has many friends, as events have taught me. [13]

 She exhorted her spiritual daughters with this sobering truth regarding the physical building(s) of their convent,

Remember, they must all fall down at the Day of Judgment, and who knows how soon that may be?  It would not look well if the house of thirteen poor women made much noise when it tumbled, for the real poor make no commotion – they must be silent or none will pity them. [14]

Considerations for the THIRD POINT: Our Lord puts His plans into action.

Once again, we find fruitful instruction regarding this point from Fr. Hurter:

2. Let us, on the other hand, cast a glance at Christ.  He sends His disciples into all the world to spread and carry out His program.  During the course of centuries, a countless number of noble souls have attached themselves to Him, and by word and example they invite us to become animated by the spirit of the Lord and follow Him.  Their virtues, their activity, their burning zeal, will edify us, and we too shall enlist under the standard of the Lord.  The zeal of His enemies will spur us on to remain true to Him and to carry out His directions courageously.

Since we have become acquainted with the spirit and strategy of the evil spirit, and on the other hand with the spirit of Our Divine Savior, His plans and views, we should, with the help of Mary, appeal to Jesus to shield us from the spirit and protect us from the snares of the evil one, to fill us with His own spirit and make us partakers of His sentiments.[15]

The Good Lord gives us the edifying examples of the saints to further hearten us.  For example, St. Teresa of Avila encouraged her spiritual daughters to embrace poverty with ripe good will, she told them:

“Life lasts but two hours: their reward is immense, but, even without that, by following the counsels of Our Lord the very imitating His Majesty in any way would be an ample recompense.[16]

We must not forget that Our Lord wants us so much!  He lived His life in poverty. Even in His Public Life, He lived in perfect poverty.  He wants us to follow His examples.  He gives us countless inspirations daily.   He wants us to have a divine friendship with Him so He may become the Spouse of our souls.

He wants us to be apostles of love who spread the knowledge of Him and His Standard.  He was thirsty for souls; He wants us to also be thirsty for souls.  He was held in contempt, “the reproach of men and the outcast of the people”, and He wants us to be willing to accept being held in scorn by others for the love of Him.  For this is the only way to learn to be meek and humble of heart as Our Lord was and is always.  Thus, He reminds us, “If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” [St. John 15:20].   Truly, one can find all three marks of His Standard, that is, poverty as opposed to riches; being ready to be scorned as opposed to honors, and humility to oppose pride.  What are these three but the imitation of Christ!   
 

Concluding thoughts:

This meditation contains the guidelines for imitating Christ.  Let us study Him and see how His Life was a supreme example of His Standard.  If we imitate Him faithfully then we will be completely on His side in the battle.  Of course, Our Lord is completely attractive and draws us to want to be under His Standard. 

COLLOQUY:[17]  [Addressing Our Lady as St. Ignatius advised us to do.] Our Lady, my Queen, I will gladly fight under Thy Son’s Standard.  Oh, but strengthen me, especially because you know, sweet Queen, the evil one has overwhelming tricks.  I need you O Mary to help me be ever watchful and on my guard against anything that would displease Thy Son!  Help me to despise riches, material goods, and worldliness.  Help me to disregard being held in esteem by others.  Let me bear the scoffs and scorn of the worldlings who think I am crazy to try to imitate Thy Son.  Do help me remember that to love and please Him is all that matters!  Increase my love of Thy Divine Son.  I will say a Hail Mary.  

[Then St. Ignatius has us address Our Lord with a similar colloquy.]  O dearest Jesus, my Lord and Redeemer, I love Thee.  I beg Thee to help me serve Thee faithfully.  Keep me safe from the evil influences of the world with all its pomps and empty honors.  Help me to embrace Thee, O Lord, and be completely satisfied with nothing else but Thee.  Help me, O Divine Master, to spread the truth and bring souls to Thee.   Close with an Anima Christi.

[Then I will address the Father with a similar colloquy.]  O tender heavenly Father, I thank Thee for preserving me and teaching me the noble standard of Thy Divine Son.  Help me by Thy grace to be loyal and loving to Thy Son.  Help me not to be afraid of persecution but to lean on Thy paternal support.  Close with an Our Father.

 With our understanding of the crucial life-long battle now improved, and armed with the tools of this meditation, we are in a better position to go on to our next lesson.  Our next lesson is St. Ignatius’ well-known meditation called the Three Classes of Men.



[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, page 173.

 

[2]               This quote is taken from Spiritual Diary, Selected Sayings and Examples of Saints, Daughters of St. Paul Press, Boston, © 1962, page 37.

[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 175.

 

 

[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 177-178.

 

[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 178.

 

[6]           This quote is taken from St. Teresa of Avila’s The Way of Perfection, chapter 2, #4.

[7]               This quote is taken from St. Teresa of Avila’s The Way of Perfection, chapter 2, #6.

[8]           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 173.

 

[9]              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 173-174.

 

[10]             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 174-175.

 

[11]             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 175.

[12]         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 176.

 

[13]             This quote is taken from St. Teresa of Avila’s The Way of Perfection, chapter 2, #5.

 

[14]             This quote is taken from St. Teresa of Avila’s The Way of Perfection, chapter 2, #7.

[15]         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 179.

[16]            This quote is taken from St. Teresa of Avila’s The Way of Perfection, chapter 2, #6.

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