Hugh of Balma: The Virgin Mary and Praying for God’s Mercy Tuesday, Mar 15 2011 

Following on from here

But because, on account of exceeding carnality and mutability, the mind cannot obtain all those foregoing goods, according as would be expedient, it must act expediently after the fashion of those who have important business at the palace of a regal court or of a supreme pontiff.

These men, seeing that they cannot obtain what they propose, approach some important member of the court in order that what they cannot obtain by themselves may be obtained by the interceding reverence of that intermediary.

Now, suppose that this needy man locates some outstanding individual who meets the conditions of being humble enough to listen to the petitions of the needy man and of being distinguished in the court, so that (if necessary) many others on the court will intercede with him for the needy man – an outstanding individual beloved by the supreme pontiff, so that the pontiff, being bound to him in affection, wishes to deny him nothing at all.

In such a case the needy man will obtain, without any subterfuge or any outright refusal, that which he desires.

But because, among the other saints, the foregoing features are found most excellently in the Blessed Virgin, let the mind flee unto her, speaking as follows:

“You, who are most merciful, who are more humble than all others, who are someone most powerful who inclines herself toward sinners, because through you the fallen angels are restored, through you the door of life is opened to the saints:

“For these reasons, if you intercede in favor of a needy one, all others will likewise join you in interceding with the most beloved Eternal King, whom you have suckled at your sacred breasts, so that He is joined to you by an ineffable bond of love.

“I beseech you, then, to assist me in my need, so that in this way I may obtain through your assistance the true purgation of my sins, so that, at length, I may by means of perfect love constrain Him whom you have loved with all your being.”

Thereafter, let the man’s mind say “Ave Maria” forty or fifty times – either at the same time or dividing the forty or fifty by a certain number, if he wishes to, according as it will seem best to him.

Let his mind address these immediately to her face, rendering them to her daily for a tribute and as a sign of love and of spiritual homage, saluting her, attentively and affectionately, not in a picture of her on the wall or in a wooden sculpture of her, but in Heaven.

Hugh of Balma (13th-14th Century): Mystical Theology, Via Purgativa, 13-14 (translated by Jasper Hopkins).

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Hugh of Balma: Five Ways of Praising God Saturday, Jan 23 2010 

Although God is unnameable in and of Himself, nevertheless we name Him in terms of His works. And on the basis of these works we praise His magnificence.

We praise Him first in accordance with the fact that He is the Origin and Beginning of every creature, both physical and spiritual.

Secondly, somewhat more sublimely, we praise Him according as He stands in relation to those contemplating Him in His glory, viz., angelic and human minds, whom He beatifies by means of their contemplation of His ineffable beauty, which they behold as it is, and from whom He eliminates, in this way, all neediness.

Thirdly, still more sublimely, we praise Him according as He stands in relation to all creatures, whom, as Most High, He commands; and all creatures, both rational and non-rational, obey Him as their Majesty.

Fourthly, we praise Him in regard to His most noble creature, viz., man. We praise Him principally in regard to men who serve their Creator in love.

We praise Him with respect to the following: that the Father foreshows to His sons, still dwelling in this life that is subject to misery, many gifts of inner consolation.

These gifts are certain indicators of a future happiness, or bliss – indicators for men who, barely existing, are as sons of the Most High.

Fifthly, and lastly, we praise Him in regard to those sinners who have for a long time existed in sins, however great, and have protracted their wicked deeds.

Notwithstanding, when they beat upon the door of divine graciousness, the divine mercy gathers them into the bosom of its love.

And God mercifully forgives them for the sins committed – forgives them in such a way that from Him, against whom they have so abominably offended, they will one day obtain, more than do the innocent, quite abundant and quite precious benefits flowing down from Heaven.

For in these men the divine goodness is shown – shown from the initial manifestation of divinely diffused grace all the way down to the dregs of those existing in sins.

And these five praises are succinctly included in the following five words: “good,” “beautiful,” “lord,” “sweet,” “merciful.”

And after God has been praised with these words, one will be able, without fear, to ask for that which he intended to, viz., the full remission of the wicked acts that he has done.

Hugh of Balma (13th-14th Century): Mystical Theology, Via Purgativa, 12 (translated by Jasper Hopkins).


Hugh of Balma: Intercessory Prayer and the Diffusion of Love Friday, Jan 22 2010 

But in order that the mind obtain the fulfillment of its desire, it must imitate the divine inflow.

Thus, just as the spiritual sun of the heavenly city of Jerusalem shines, as far as concerns itself, upon the good and the evil with rays of its goodness, so it is necessary that the mind prayerfully seek, with all its might, the mercy of the Creator not only for itself or for its kinsmen but also for all those who are engraven with the image of the most blessed Trinity, so that just as God created all and redeemed all so too He may deign mercifully to aid all without distinction of persons.

And, assuredly, by means of so praying, the mind will quite quickly call forth the divine mercy – insofar as the mind imitates the vestiges of the Creator-of-all-things and the Redeemer-of-all-mortals, who sheds His love on all men most diffusely.

Unless for a brief while the intercession of the one praying both for himself and for others is concentrated in a particular way (although love is always such as to be diffused), the one who is earnestly praying will adopt, for others as for himself, the same affectional manner (regardless of the measure of its smallness), speaking as follows:

“O good, beautiful, sweet, merciful Lord, have mercy on all sinners, whom You have redeemed by Your most precious blood.”

And then, as best he can, let him have the following representation when he says “have mercy”: that the entire world be inclined toward its Creator through true worship and very worthy reverence.

Hugh of Balma (13th-14th Century): Mystical Theology, Via Purgativa, 10 (translated by Jasper Hopkins).


Hugh of Balma: Repentance and the Purgative Way Thursday, Jan 14 2010 

Although this purgative way seems puerile to some, especially in regard to the subsequent two ways, nevertheless unless the mind passes through this way, being careful and attentive in its approach to engaging in divine matters, it will never in the present life be able to ascend, in practice, unto a knowledge of divine matters or of God;

nor will it be able to ascend unto the fervor of unitive love, nor will it be able to be separated from those lower objects that consume those who possess them.

Therefore, the soul ought to humble itself in such a way that, first, it recalls its sins in some private and very hidden place  (especially in the secret silence of the night).

Let the soul recall its greater sins succinctly, lest the devil expose it to delighting in that thing for which it was supposed to obtain medicine.

Raising its face toward Heaven, let it, as best it can, enumerate before God (as if speaking to Him) its greater sins (up to ten or twelve); and, in enumerating, let the soul sigh, exalting God in every respect and disparaging itself in every respect, and saying as best it can:

“Lord Jesus Christ,” (or phrasing it in whatever manner it prefers) “I am the most worthless, most miserable sinner, more wretched and more abominable than all others.

Although this purgative way seems puerile to some, especially in regard to the subsequent two ways, nevertheless unless the mind passes through this way, being careful and attentive in its approach to engaging in divine matters, it will never in the present life be able to ascend, in practice, unto a knowledge of divine matters or of God;

nor will it be able to ascend unto the fervor of unitive love, nor will it be able to be separated from those lower objects that consume those who possess them.

Therefore, the soul ought to humble itself in such a way that, first, it recalls its sins in some private and very hidden place  (especially in the secret silence of the night).

Let the soul recall its greater sins succinctly, lest the devil expose it to delighting in that thing for which it was supposed to obtain medicine.

Raising its face toward Heaven, let it, as best it can, enumerate before God (as if speaking to Him) its greater sins (up to ten or twelve); and, in enumerating, let the soul sigh, exalting God in every respect and disparaging itself in every respect, and saying as best it can:

“Lord Jesus Christ,” (or phrasing it in whatever manner it prefers) “I am the most worthless, most miserable sinner, more wretched and more abominable than all others.

“I have offended against Your majesty and mercy by means of so many and so grave wrongdoings that I am unable to count them – even as the sands of the seashore, because of their multitude, cannot be counted.”

And let the soul sigh and groan as effectively as it can. For just as a file brings it about, in the case of a piece of iron, that with each single rubbing some rust is removed, so each sigh and groan removes some of the rust of sin – the rust which remains even after the outpouring of grace.

And in this way the soul, purifying itself more and more, is elevated more and more by divine assistance – elevated unto perceiving things that reason does not investigate and that intellect does not behold.

Hugh of Balma (13th-14th Century): Mystical Theology, Via Purgativa, 3 (translated by Jasper Hopkins).