F.W. Faber: Our Hearts Are Enlarged While We Are Magnifying God Thursday, Mar 24 2011 

There is nothing…which so multiplies graces upon us, or causes God to throw the doors of His treasury so wide open, as the devotion of thanksgiving.

[…] Many persons try to advance in spirituality, and are held back, as it were, by some invisible hand.

The fact is, and they do not realize it, they have never been thoroughly converted to God.

They have stayed too short a time in the purgative way of the spiritual life, or they have bargained with God, and kept back some attachment…so as to be spared the pain of conversion.

Now thanksgiving swiftly but imperceptibly turns our religion into a service of love;

It draws us to take God’s view of things, to range ourselves on His side even against ourselves, and to identify ourselves with His interests even when they seem to be in opposition to our own.

Hence we are led to break more effectually with the world, and not to trail its clouds and mists along with us on our road to heaven.

[…] And what is all this but to make our conversion more thorough and complete?

Neither is the effect of thanksgiving less upon our growth than it is upon our conversion.

All growth comes of love; and love is at once both the cause and effect of thanksgiving.

What light and air are to plants, that is the sense of God’s Presence to the virtues; and thanksgiving makes this sensible Presence of God almost a habit in our souls.

For it leads us continually to see mercies which we should not otherwise have perceived, and it enables us far more worthily to appreciate their value, and in some degree to sound the abyss of Divine condescension out of which they come.

Moreover, the practice of thanksgiving in ourselves leads us to be distressed at the absence of it in others; and this keeps our lore of God delicate and sensitive, and breeds in us a spirit of reparation, which is especially congenial to the growth of holiness.

Our hearts are enlarged while we are magnifying God, and when our hearts are enlarged we run the way of His commandments, where we have only walked or crept before.

We feel a secret force in overcoming obstacles and in despising fears, and altogether a liberty in well-doing, which we used not to feel before.

[…] Our hearts are crowned with thanksgiving.

Frederick William Faber (1814—1863): All for Jesus, pp. 288-290.

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).

John of the Cross: My House Being Now At Rest Tuesday, Dec 14 2010 

On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings — oh, happy chance! —
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest,

In this first stanzas the soul sings of the happy fortune and chance which it experienced in going forth from all things that are without, and from the desires and imperfections that are in the sensual part of man because of the disordered state of his reason.

For the understanding of this it must be known that, for a soul to attain to the state of perfection, it has ordinarily first to pass through two principal kinds of night, which spiritual persons call purgations or purifications of the soul.

And here we call them nights, for in both of them the soul journeys, as it were, by night, in darkness. The first night or purgation is of the sensual part of the soul…and the second is of the spiritual part.

And this first night pertains to beginners, occurring at the time when God begins to bring them into the state of contemplation….And the second night, or purification, pertains to those who are already proficient, occurring at the time when God desires to bring them to the state of union with God.

[…] Briefly, then, the soul means by this stanza that it went forth (being led by God) for love of Him alone, enkindled in love of Him, upon a dark night, which is the privation and purgation of all its sensual desires, with respect to all outward things of the world and to those which were delectable to its flesh, and likewise with respect to the desires of its will.

This all comes to pass in this purgation of sense; for which cause the soul says that it went forth while its house was still at rest; which house is its sensual part, the desires being at rest and asleep in it, as it is to them.

For there is no going forth from the pains and afflictions of the secret places of the desires until these be mortified and put to sleep.

And this, the soul says, was a happy chance for it — namely, its going forth without being observed: that is, without any desire of its flesh or any other thing being able to hinder it.

And likewise, because it went out by night — which signifies the privation of all these things wrought in it by God, which privation was night for it.

And it was a happy chance that God should lead it into this night, from which there came to it so much good; for of itself the soul would not have succeeded in entering therein, because no man of himself can succeed in voiding himself of all his desires in order to come to God.

John of the Cross (1542-1591): Ascent of Mount Carmel, 1,1.

 

Benedict XVI on Angela of Foligno (4): The More You Pray, the More You will be Illumined Thursday, Oct 14 2010 

Continued from previous post

In Angela’s spiritual itinerary the passage from conversion to mystical experience, from what can be expressed to the inexpressible, happens through the crucifix.

And the “suffering God-man,” who becomes her “teacher of perfection.”

Hence, all her mystical experience tends to a perfect “likeness” with him, through ever more profound and radical purifications and transformations.

In such a stupendous enterprise Angela puts her whole self, soul and body, without sparing herself penances and tribulations from the beginning to the end, desiring to die with all the pains suffered by the God-man crucified to be transformed totally in him.

“O children of God,” she recommended, “transform yourselves totally in the suffering God-man, who so loves you that he deigned to die for you the most ignominious and all together ineffably painful death and in the most painful and bitter way. This only for love of you, O man!”.

This identification also means to live what Jesus lived: poverty, contempt, sorrow because, as she affirmed:

“Through temporal poverty the soul will find eternal riches; through contempt and shame it will obtain supreme honor and very great glory; through a little penance, made with pain and sorrow, it will possess with infinite sweetness and consolation of the Supreme God, God eternal”.
From conversion to mystical union with Christ crucified, to the inexpressible. A very lofty way, whose secret is constant prayer:

“The more you pray,” she affirms, “the more you will be illumined; the more you are illumined, the more profoundly and intensely you will see the Supreme Good, the supremely good Being.

“The more profoundly and intensely you see him, the more you will love him; the more you love him, the more he will delight you.

“And the more he delights you, the more you will understand him and become capable of understanding him.

“You will arrive successively to the fullness of light, because you will understand that you cannot understand”.

Benedict XVI (b. 1927): On Medieval Mystic Blessed Angela of Foligno (translation by Zenit).

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).