The Four Foundations of
by SAINT JOHN EUDES
THE NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
The Christian Life Must be a Continuation of the Most Holy Life Which Jesus Led on Earth
Members of His Body
Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, King of Angels and of men, is not only your God, your Saviour and your Sovereign Lord, but is also your head and you are "members of His Body," as St. Paul says: "of His flesh and of His bones." (Eph. 5, 30)
You are consequently united with Him in the most intimate union possible, that is, the union of members with their head.
You are united with Him spiritually by faith and by the grace He gave you in Holy Baptism.
You are united with Him corporally in the union of His Most Sacred Body with yours in the Blessed Eucharist.
It necessarily follows that, just as the members are animated by the spirit of the head, and live the same life, so you must also be animated by the spirit of Jesus, live His life, walk in His ways, be clothed with His sentiments and inclinations, and perform all your actions in the dispositions and intentions that actuated His.
In a word, you must carry on and perpetuate the life, religion and devotion which He exercised upon earth.
Foundation of this Doctrine
This doctrine rests upon a very solid foundation, for it receives confirmation repeatedly from the sacred words of Him Who is Truth Itself. Do you not hear Him saying in several places in His Gospel: "I am the Life" (John 14, 6); "I am come that they may have life" (John 10, 10)? "You will come to Me that you may have life" (John 5, 40). "I live, and you shall live. In that day you shall know that I am in My Father and you in Me, and I in you" (John 14, 19-20).
That is to say, just as Jesus is in His Father, living His life, which the Father communicates to Him, so also are you in Jesus, living by His life, and He is in you, giving you this same life. And thus He lives in you and you live in and with Him.
St. John Explains
St. John, the beloved disciple, explains that God had given to man the gift of eternal life, which life is in His Son, and he who has in himself the Son of God has life; and, on the contrary, he who has not the Son has not life (1 John 5, 11-12).
God sent His Only Begotten Son into the world that you may have life, and you are in this world even as Jesus is, that is, you have taken His place here, and ought to live as He lived (1 John 4, 9; 17).
Saint John Continues
Again in the Apocalypse he says that the well-beloved Spouse of your souls, Jesus Christ, cries out incessantly: "Come. And he that heareth, let him say: Come, and he that thirsteth, let him come; and he that will, let him take the water of life freely" (Apoc. 22, 17), meaning, let him draw from Christ, the fountain-head, the waters of true life. Furthermore, it is written in the Holy Gospel that one day the Son of God stood up among a great multitude of people, and cried out with a loud voice: "If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink" (John 7, 37).
Saint Paul's Constant Teaching
What does the holy Apostle St. Paul constantly preach to you, if not that "you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3, 3), and that the Eternal Father has given you life with Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2, 5)?
This means that He makes you live not only with His Divine Son, but also in His Son and by the life of His Son.
Does he not also tell you that you must manifest and show forth the life of Jesus in your bodies (2 Cor. 4, 10-11), and that Jesus Christ is your life (Col. 3, 4), and that He is in you, and abides in you? "I live," he says, "now not I; but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2, 20).
For if you study well, the rest of the chapter containing these words, you will find that St. Paul is speaking not only of himself, in his own name, but also in the person and in the name of every Christian.
Finally, in another passage, addressing the followers of Christ, he says that he prays God to make them worthy of their calling, and to accomplish powerfully in them all the desires of His goodness and the work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in them and they in Him (2 Thess. 1, 11-12).
All these sacred texts show that Jesus Christ must live in you
All theses sacred texts show quite clearly that Jesus Christ must live in you; that you must not live except in Him; that His life must be your life, and your life must be a continuation and expression of His.
Also you have no right to live on earth except in order to bear, show forth, sanctify, glorify and cause to live and reign in you the name, the life, the qualities and perfections, the dispositions and inclinations, the virtues and actions of Jesus.
Confirmation of the Foregoing Truth
Christ has not simply one Body
To understand more clearly this fundamental truth of Christian life, and to establish it more solidly in your soul, bear in mind that our Lord Jesus Christ has not simply one Body and one life, but two.
First, there is His Own personal Body, which He received from the Blessed Virgin, and the personal life which He lived in human form in this world.
There is also His Mystical Body, namely, the Church
There is also His Mystical Body, namely, the Church, which St. Paul calls "Corpus Christi," "the Body of Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 12, 27).
And His second life is the life by which He dwells in this Mystical Body, and in all true Christians who are the members of the Church.
The passable and temporal life of His natural Body was ended at the moment of His death. But the life of His Mystical Body He wills to continue until the end of time, in order to glorify His Father by the acts and sufferings of a mortal, suffering and laborious life, not only for the space of thirty-three years, but until the end of the world.
Thus the passable and temporal life of Jesus in His Mystical Body, that is, in all Christians, has not yet reached its accomplishment, but develops itself from day today in each true Christian and will not be perfectly complete until the end of time.
"I fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ . . ."
This is why St. Paul writes: "I fill up those things that are wanting of the suffering of Christ, in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church" (Col. 1, 24).
And what the Apostle says of himself may be said of every true Christian, when he suffers anything in a spirit of love and submission to God. It may also be said of all the other actions performed by a Christian on earth. As St. Paul assures us that he fills up the sufferings of Jesus Christ, so also every true Christian, who is a member of Jesus Christ, and united to Him by grace, continues and accomplishes, by every act he does in the spirit of Jesus Christ, the actions which Christ Himself performed during His earthly life.
Thus, when a Christian prays, he continues and accomplishes the prayers of Jesus Christ.
When he works, he continues and accomplishes Christ's laborious life.
When his relations with his neighbor are inspired by charity, lie continues and accomplishes Christ's public life.
When he takes his meals or his rest in a Christian fashion, he continues and accomplishes the subjection to these necessities that Christ willed to have in Himself.
It is the same for all the other" acts he performs in a Christian manner.
For this reason St. Paul declares that the Church is the fulLness of Christ (Eph. 1, 22-23), and that you are all tending to the perfection and the fulLness of His maturity (Eph. 4, 11-13), that is, to His mystical age in His Church, which will not be completed until the Day of Judgment.
You can understand from this the nature of the Christian life.
You see that it is a continuation and fulfillment of the life of Jesus, and that all your actions must be a continuation of the actions of Christ.
You have to be so many other Christs upon the earth, in order to perpetuate here His life and works, and to do and suffer everything in a saintly and Divine manner, in the Spirit of Christ, that is, with the holy and Divine dispositions and intentions which Jesus Himself showed in all His acts and sufferings.
As this divine Jesus is your head and you are His members, and as you are bound to Him by this union, incomparably closer, nobler and more elevated union than the union between the head and the members of the natural body, it necessarily follows that you must be animated by His spirit and live by His life more perfectly than the members of a natural body.
These truths are very great, very important, and call for intent consideration.
They oblige you to do great things, and should be well thought out by those who desire to live a Christian life. Therefore, study them frequently and attentively, and to learn that Christian life, religion, devotion and piety truly and properly consist in continuing the life, religion and devotion of Jesus on the earth.
Consequently, not only religious but also All Christians are bound to live a completely holy and Divine life and to perform all their actions in a holy and Divine spirit.
This is not impossible, nor is it even so difficult as many imagine. On the contrary, it is very pleasant and easy for those who remember to lift up their mind and heart frequently to Jesus, and to unite themselves to Him in all that they do, following the practices of the exercises which will be presented further on.
Your only right to live on earth is to continue the holy and perfect life of your Head, Christ.
Now there are FOUR things which you must frequently consider and adore in Christ's earthly life, FOUR things which you must try, as far as possible, with the help of His grace, to express and carry on in your life, because they are the FOUR foundations of Christian piety and sanctity.
Without them it is not possible to be a true Christian. Hence it becomes necessary to discuss, at this point, each one in particular.
They are: FAITH, HATRED OF SIN, DETACHMENT and PRAYER
THE FIRST FOUNDATION OF SANCTITY: FAITH
Nature of Faith
The first foundation of the Christian life is Faith. St. Paul declares that if you would go to God and have access to His Divine majesty, the first step you must take is to believe; for "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11, 6). Faith is the substance and foundation of the things hoped for (Heb. 11, 1).
It is the cornerstone of the Kingdom of Christ.
It is a Divine and celestial light, a participation in the eternal, inaccessible light, a beam radiating from the face of God.
To speak in accordance with Scripture, faith is, as it were, a Divine character by which the light of the countenance of God is imprinted upon the soul (Ps. 4, 7).
It is a communication and a kind of projection of the Divine light and knowledge which were infused into the holy soul of Jesus at the moment of His Incarnation.
It is the science of salvation, the science of the Saints, the science of God, which Jesus Christ drew forth from the bosom of His Father and brought down to you on earth, to dispel your shadows, to enlighten your heart, to give you the knowledge necessary for the perfect love and service of God, to submit and subject your mind to His truths which He still teaches you both through Himself and by Holy Mother Church.
By faith you can fulfill
By faith you can express, continue and fulfill in yourself the submission, docility, the voluntary and undarkened subjection, with which His human mind regarded the lights imparted and the truths taught to Him by His Heavenly Father.
Faith, then, being given to you by God, is a continuation and fulfillment of the loving and most perfect submission of the human mind of Jesus Christ to the truths revealed to Him by His Eternal Father.
It is by this light that you possess perfect knowledge
It is by this light and this Divine science that you possess perfect knowledge, so far as it is possible in this life, of all things whether in God or not in God.
Reason and human science often lead you into error because they are too weak and limited to penetrate to the knowledge of the things of God, which are infinite and incomprehensible.
Human intelligence and knowledge also deceive you, because they are too full of the darkness and obscurity of sin to attain to a genuine knowledge even of things outside of God.
But the light of faith, being a participation in the truth and light of God, cannot possibly deceive you; indeed, it shows you things as God sees them, that is, in their truth, and just as they exist in the eyes of God.
With the eyes of faith, you will see Him just as He is.
Consequently, if you contemplate God with the eyes of faith, you will see Him just as He is and, in a certain manner, face to face.
Although it is true that faith is accompanied by obscurity and permits you to behold God, not clearly as He is seen in Heaven but as through a cloud, darkly, nevertheless, faith does not debase His supreme greatness to fit the capacity of your minds, as does science.
Faith penetrates His shadows and His darkness, and goes straight to the infinity of His perfections, making you know Him as He is, infinite in His Being and in all His Divine perfections.
Faith lets you know that everything that is in God and in Jesus Christ, God and Man, is infinitely great and admirable, infinitely adorable and lovable, infinitely worthy of adoration, glory and love for His Own sake.
Faith shows you that God is true in His words and unfailing in His promises; that He is all goodness and gentleness and love towards those who seek Him and put their trust in Him, but that He is nothing but terror and severity towards those who abandon Him, and that it is frightful to fall into the hands of His justice.
Faith gives a most certain knowledge that Divine Providence directs and guides all things that happen in the universe, with great holiness and wisdom, in fact, in the best way possible.
His disposal of all things deserves to be infinitely adored and loved by all creatures that are subject to His order, whether in justice or in mercy, in Heaven on earth or in Hell.
If you look at God's Church in the light of faith
If you look at God's Church in the light of faith, you will see that as Jesus Christ is her Head and the Holy Ghost her Guide, it is not possible for her to wander from the truth in anything, nor to stray away into falsehoods.
Also everything she teaches is infallibly true, and you must be ready to die a thousand times rather than to diverge, even in the slightest degree, from her inspired truth.
If you look at yourselves
If you look at yourselves and all the things in the world by the light of faith, you will see most clearly that you are, of yourself, only nothingness, sin and abomination, and that everything in the world is nothing but smoke, vanity, and illusion.
This is the way to look at everything: not in the vanity of the senses, nor with the eyes of flesh and blood, nor with the short-sighted and deceptive view of reason and human science, but in the truth of God and with the eyes of Jesus Christ, that is, with that Divine light which He drew forth from His Father's bosom, by which He beholds and knows all things, the light He has communicated to you that you might see and know all things as He sees and knows them.
FAITH Should be Your Guide in all Your Actions
You must perform all your acts . . .
Just as you must consider all things in the light of faith if you would truly know them, so also you must perform all your acts under the guidance of the same light, if you would do them in a holy manner.
As God is led by His Divine wisdom, and the Angels by their angelic intelligence, and men deprived of the light of faith by reason, and men of the world by worldly maxims, and voluptuaries by their sense, so Christians must direct themselves by the same light that directs their head, Jesus Christ, that is, by faith, which is a participation in the knowledge and the light of Christ.
Study the Divine Science of Faith
So you must try, by every means, to study the Divine science of faith and never to undertake anything except under its guidance. To that end, at the inception of your every act, especially your more important actions, place yourself at the feet of the Son of God and adore Him as the author of faith and its fulfillment, as the One Who is the true light, enlightening every man that comes into this world.
Admit that of yourself you are but darkness
Admit that of yourself you are but darkness, and that all the light of reason, science and even of human experience is often but obscurity and illusion, in which you can place no confidence.
Renounce the prudence of the flesh and the wisdom of the world.
Ask Jesus to destroy them in you, as His enemies, and not to let you obey their laws, their views or their maxims, but that He may enlighten you with His heavenly light and guide you by His Divine wisdom.
Beg Him to make known what is most pleasing to Him, and to give you grace and strength to cling firmly to His words and promises, and to close your ears resolutely to all opinions and persuasions of human prudence; that you may courageously prefer the maxims of faith which He taught you by His Gospel and His Church, rather than the reasoning and arguments of men who base their conduct on the standards of the world.
A chapter of the life of Jesus every day
To this end, it would be a very good thing to read each day on your knees, either in Latin or in English, a chapter of the life of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, so as to learn the life Jesus led, and, through the consideration of His acts, His virtues, and His words, to become familiar with the rules and maxims upon which He based His conduct, and upon which He wishes you to base yours.
Christian prudence consists in renouncing the maxims of the world, in calling upon the spirit of Christ to enlighten you, to guide you by His maxims, and to lead you in accordance with His truths, His actions and His virtues. This is what is meant by basing one's conduct upon the spirit of faith.
THE SECOND FOUNDATION OF SANCTITY: HATRED OF SIN
Let this mind be in you . . .
Since you are under obligation to continue on earth the holy and Divine life of Jesus, you must be animated by the sentiments and inclinations of Christ Himself, according to St. Paul the Apostle, who says: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2, 5).
Now Jesus Christ entertained in Himself two widely opposed sentiments:
One of infinite love for His Father and for you, the other of extreme hatred for everything opposed to His Father's glory and your salvation, namely, for sin.
Since He loves His Father and you with an infinite love, He hates sin with an infinite hatred.
He so loved His Father, and so loves you, that He performed great miracles, suffered sorrowful torments, and gave up a precious life for His Father's glory and your love.
On the other hand, He holds sin in so great horror that He came down from Heaven, taking the form of a servant, and for thirty-three years He lived on earth a life of labor, of humiliation and of suffering; He shed His Blood even to the last drop; He died the most shameful and most cruel of all deaths, all for His hatred of sin, because of His intense desire to destroy all sin in you.
Now you must see to it that these same sentiments of Christ with regard to His Father and to sin continue in yourself.
You have to carry on the war He waged against sin while He was on earth.
You are obliged to love God perfectly and with all your might, and you are also bound to hate sin infinitely with all your strength.
You should look at sin as God sees it
In order to dispose yourself to do this, you should henceforth look at sin, not as it is seen by men, with their carnal and blinded vision, but as God sees it, with eyes enlightened by His Divine light; in other words, you should see it with the eyes of faith.
By this light you will see that sin, in so far as it is in a certain sense infinitely contrary and opposed to God, and is a privation of an infinite good, which is God, contains in itself a malice, madness, ugliness and horror that are just as great, in their own way, as God's infinite goodness, wisdom, beauty and holiness (St. Thomas, Summa, 3a, Q. l, a. 2, ad 2um). Therefore sin deserves to be hated and fought to the same degree in which God deserves to be sought and loved.
You will see that sin is so horrible
You will see that sin is so horrible a thing that it can be obliterated only by the blood of a God; so detestable that it can be destroyed only by the death of a God-Man, so abominable that it can be worthily repaired only by the labors, agonies and death, and infinite merits of a God.
You will see that sin is a cruel murder
You will see that sin is a cruel murder, a frightful act of deicide, a ghastly annihilation of all things. It is murder because it is the only cause of death, both of the body and of the soul of man.
It is deicide, because sin and the sinner caused Christ to die on the Cross and the sinner continues this crucifixion of Jesus, day by day, within Himself.
Then it is an annihilation of nature, of grace, of glory and of all things. Since, as far as it can, it destroys their Divine Author, it consequently destroys nature, grace and glory.
God delivered His Son
Another thing, even more surprising than this, is that when the Eternal Father saw His Own Son, His only well-beloved Son, most holy and most innocent, laden with the sins of others, He did not spare Him, as St. Paul says, but delivered Him up for us to the Cross and to death (Rom. 8, 32), so abominable and execrable is sin in His sight.
It transforms the servants of God into slaves of the devil
You will also see that sin is so full of malignity that it transforms the servants of God into slaves of the devil, the members of Jesus Christ into the members of Satan, and even changes men who are by grace and participation gods, into devils by likeness and imitation, according to the words of Christ Himself Who, speaking of Judas, called him a devil: Unus ex vobis diabolus est (John 6, 71).
Sin is the evil of evils
And you will finally come to know that sin is the evil of evils, and the greatest of all misfortunes. It is the source of all the evils and all the misfortunes that cover the earth and fill Hell to overflowing. Indeed, this evil is the only one in the world that really deserves to be called an evil. Of all the frightful and appalling things that exist, sin is the most frightful and the most appalling. It is more to be dreaded than death, more fearsome than the devil, and more terrifying than hell, because all that is horrible, appalling and terrifying about death, the devil and Hell proceeds from sin.
O Sin, how detestable thou art!
O Sin, how detestable thou art! Oh, if men only knew thee! Yes, Sin, there is something in thee infinitely more horrible than anything that may be spoken or conceived, since the soul that is befouled with thy rottenness can not be cleaned nor purged except by the blood of God Himself, and thou canst not be destroyed and annihilated save only by the death and annihilation of a God-Man!
O God, no wonder Thou dost hate this hellish monster so much
O God, no wonder Thou dost hate this hellish monster so much, and that Thou dost pursue it with so hard a punishment! Let those be astonished by this who know Thee not, and who know not what an insult is offered to Thee by sin. Indeed, O my God, Thou wouldst not be God, if Thou didst not hate iniquity with an infinite hatred. As it is Thy joy to be bound by necessity to love Thyself infinitely, since Thou art infinite goodness, so also art Thou bound by a holy obligation, to hold in infinite abhorrence that which is, in some sense, infinitely contrary to Thee.
Fear sin and fly from it
O you, Christians who read these words, all of which are based upon the utterance of eternal Truth, if there remain in you some little spark of love and zeal for the God whom you adore, learn to have horror for what He so abhors, and for what is so contrary to Him. Fear sin, and fly from it more than from pestilence, or from death, or from all the other evils that can be imagined.
Keep always alive within you the unshakable resolution to suffer a thousand deaths, together with every kind of torture, rather than ever to become separated from God by a mortal sin.
As long as you do not have the will to die or suffer every kind of disgrace and torture rather than commit any sin, you are not a true Christian
And that God may preserve you from this misfortune, be careful also to avoid venial sin, as far as possible. For you must keep in mind that the shedding of Our Lord's blood and the sacrifice of His life were just as necessary to wipe out venial sin as to deliver you from mortal sin. Remember that anyone who attaches little importance to venial sin will soon fall into mortal sin. If you do not find these resolutions in you own soul, pray to Our Lord to put them there, and do not rest until you possess these dispositions. For you ought to know that as long as you do not have the will to die or suffer every kind of disgrace and torture rather than commit any sin, you are not a true Christian.
But if by some misfortune you should happen to fall into sin, be sure to rise up again at once by means of contrition and Confession, and return to your previous dispositions.
THE THIRD FOUNDATION OF SANCTITY: DETACHMENT FROM THE WORLD
It is not enough for a Christian to be free from vice and to abhor every kind of sin. Beyond that it is necessary to work with diligence and resolution at the task of becoming perfectly detached from the world and from the things of the world.
When I say "the world," I mean
When I say "the world," I mean the corrupt and disordered life led in the world, the damnable spirit that reigns over the world, the perverse sentiments and inclinations which men of the world follow, and the pernicious laws and maxims by which they govern their behavior.
By things of the world, I mean
By the things of the world I mean everything that the world so highly values and loves and strives after, namely, the honors and praises of men, vain pleasures and satisfactions, wealth and temporal comforts, friendships and affections based on flesh and blood, on self-love and selfish interests.
Jesus lived on earth in most perfect detachment
Consider the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, and you will see that He lived on earth in most perfect detachment, stripped of all things. Read His holy Gospel, listen to His words, and you will learn that "everyone of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14, 33).
So, if you really desire to be a Christian
So, if you really desire to be a Christian and a disciple of Jesus Christ, and if you wish to continue and express in yourself His holy life of detachment from everything, you must strive to achieve an absolute and universal detachment from the world and from worldly things.
To do this, you should reflect
To do this, you should frequently reflect how the world always has been and always will be opposed to Christ, Whom it has persecuted and crucified, and will persecute and crucify, even to the end of time. Consider that the sentiments and inclinations, the rules and maxims, the life and spirit of the world are so opposed to the sentiments and inclinations, rules and maxims, life and spirit of Jesus that it is impossible for them to subsist together. Christ's sentiments and inclinations lead entirely to the glory of His Father and our sanctification, while those of the world lead only to sin and perdition.
The Spirit of Jesus------The Spirit of the World
The laws and maxims of Jesus are very mild and holy and reasonable. The standards of the world are laws and maxims of Hell, and are diabolical, tyrannical and finally unbearable.
The life of Jesus is a holy life made beautiful by all kinds of virtues; the life of the world is a depraved life, full of disorder and of all sorts of vice.
The Spirit of Jesus is a spirit of light, of truth, of piety, of love, confidence, zeal and reverence for God and for all that belongs to God; the spirit of the world is a spirit of error, of unbelief, of darkness, of suspicion, of dissatisfaction, of impiety, of irreverence and hardness of heart towards God and all the things of God.
The spirit of Jesus is a spirit of humility, of modesty, of self-distrust, of mortification and abnegation, of constancy and of firmness. But the spirit of the world is, by contrast, a spirit of pride, presumption, disordered self-love, fickleness and inconstancy.
The spirit of Jesus is a spirit of mercy, charity, patience, gentleness and of unity with others. But the spirit of the world is a spirit of vengeance, envy, impatience, anger, slander and disunion.
Finally, the spirit of Jesus is the spirit of God, a holy and divine spirit, filled with every grace, virtue, and blessing. It is a spirit of peace and tranquility, which seeks nothing but the interests of God and of His greater glory. The spirit of the world, on the contrary, is the spirit of Satan, for it necessarily follows that, since Satan is the prince of this world, the world is animated and governed by his spirit-----an earthly, carnal and animal Spirit; a spirit motivating all kinds of sin and accursedness; a spirit of unrest and anxiety, of storms and tempests-----spiritus procellarum (Ps. 10, 7), a spirit seeking only its own convenience, satisfaction and interests.
Judge then, if it be possible for the life and spirit of the world to be reconciled with the life and spirit of Christianity, which is none other than the life and spirit of Christ.
If, therefore, you desire to be a true Christian, that is, if you desire to belong perfectly to Jesus Christ, to live His life, to be animated by His spirit and conduct yourself according to His maxims, it is absolutely necessary for you to make up your mind to renounce the world entirely and bid it farewell forever.
In the world as though not of the world
I do not mean that it is necessary for you to leave the world and shut yourself up between four walls, unless God calls you to do so. But I do say that you must try to live in the world as though you were not of the world, that is, you must make a public, generous and unwavering profession of living otherwise than as the world lives, and of rejecting its laws and maxims.
And I tell you not to be ashamed but to enjoy holy pride in being a Christian, in belonging to Jesus Christ, in preferring the saintly maxims and truths that He left you in His holy Gospel, to the pernicious maxims and falsehoods by which the world deceives its disciples.
Have enough courage to make a clean break
I urge you at least to have enough courage and resolution to make a clean break with the standards, sentiments and inclinations of the world, and to despise all its empty speeches and deceptive opinions, just as the world makes a show of impious temerity in despising the laws and maxims of Christianity. It is in this alone that true courage and perfect generosity consist: for what the world calls courage and power of character are nothing but cowardice and pusillanimity. This, then, is what I mean by detachment from the world: renouncing the world, and living in the world as though not of it.
Christ looks upon the world as the object of His hatred and His curse, and as something He plans and desires to burn in the day of His wrath.
If you would firmly establish this detachment from the world in your soul, it is not only necessary for you to strive to break away from the world, but you should even develop a horror for it, like the repugnance in which Christ held it.
Now Christ had such a horror of the world that He not only exhorted you through His beloved Disciple: "Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world." (1 John 2, 15), but He also tells us, through His Apostle St. James, "that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God." (James 4, 4) that is, He considers as His enemies all those who love the world.
He assures you that His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18, 36) any more than He is of this world, and that those whom His Father has given Him are not of this world, just as He is not of it (John 17, 12-16).
Another thing-----more terrifying still: "I pray not for the world,"-----"Now is the judgment of the world."
And another thing-----more terrifying still-----is that He solemnly protested, on the very day when He wrought the greatest miracle of His goodness, namely, the eve of His death, when He was about to pour forth His Precious Blood and give up His life for the salvation of men, "I pray not for the world" (John 17, 9). And in these words He thundered a most frightful anathema, a curse and an excommunication upon the world, declaring it to be unworthy of any share in His prayers or in His mercy.
Finally, He assures us that "now is the judgment of the world" and "now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12, 31). And in fact, the very moment the world fell into the corruption of sin, it was judged by Divine justice and condemned to be burnt and consumed by fire. And although the effect of the sentence was deferred, it will none the less be carried out at the end of time.
Consequently, Christ looks upon the world as the object of His hatred and His curse, and as something He plans and desires to burn in the day of His wrath.
Enter, then, into the feelings of Christ towards the world Enter, then, into the feelings of Christ towards the world, and towards all things that are in the world. From now on, view the world as Jesus Christ does, that is, as the object of His hatred and malediction.
Look upon it as something He forbids you to love, under pain of incurring His enmity.
See it as a thing He has excommunicated and cursed with His own lips, with which you may not, consequently, communicate without participating in the same malediction.
See the world as something He desires to burn and reduce to ashes. Look at all those things which the world most values and loves, like pleasures, honors, riches, worldly friendship and affections, and all other things of this kind, as things which simply pass away, according to this Divine utterance: Mundus transit, et con- cupiscentia ejus (1 John 2, 17).
See all these things as nothing but smoke, deceit and illusion, as vanity and affliction of spirit. Read these truths and reflect upon them often, and each day pray Our Lord to impress them upon your mind.
Plan of Action
To arrive at these dispositions, take a little time each day to adore Jesus in His perfect detachment from the world, begging Him to detach you from it entirely and to impress upon your heart hatred, horror and abomination for the things of the world.
For your own part, see that you do not indulge in the useless visits and conversation that are customary in the world. If you are taken up with these idle occupations, in the name of God leave them at all costs and fly as you would from a plague, from all the places and persons and from any company where the talk is only the world and worldly things. Since such things are discussed with esteem and affection, it is very difficult to avoid carrying away some harmful impression from these conversations.
Besides, you will gain nothing from them but a dangerous loss of time; you will find in them nothing but unhappy dissipation of mind and affliction of spirit, and all you will bring away will be bitterness of heart, coldness in piety, separation from God, and a thousand faults that you may have committed.
As long as you seek out and love the company of men of the world, Jesus Christ whose delight it is to be with the children of men will not take His delight in you and will not give you any taste of the consolations with which He refreshes those who find all their joy in conversing with Him.
Fly then, from the world, I say to you again, fly from it, abhor its life, its spirit and its maxims. Do not make friends with any persons except those whom you can help, or those who can help you and animate you, by word and example, to love Jesus and live in His spirit.
It is no small accomplishment to renounce the world in the manner just described. Yet even this is not enough to give you that perfect detachment which is one of the primary foundations of Christian life. Our Lord cries out to us in a loud voice: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matt. 16, 24).
So, then, if you want to be among the followers of Christ and belong to Him, you have to renounce yourself, that is, your own mind, your own ideas, your own will, desires, inclinations and your self-love, because it is your self-love that leads you to hate and avoid anything that might cause pain or mortification to your spirit or your flesh and makes you love and seek out everything that may give them pleasure and contentment.
Two reasons oblige you to practise self-abnegation
First, everything in you is so disordered and depraved, as a result of the corruption of sin, that there is nothing in you that is not contrary to God, and that does not put some obstacle in the way of His plans, or oppose itself to the love and glory you owe Him. Therefore, if you desire to belong to God, you must necessarily renounce yourself and forget and hate and persecute and destroy and annihilate your own self.
Jesus Christ, your head and your model
Secondly, Jesus Christ, your head and your model in Whom there is nothing that is not all holy and Divine, nevertheless lived in so great detachment from Himself and kept His human spirit, His Own will and love of Himself so subordinated that He never did anything according to His Own human light or spirit, but all according to His Father's spirit.
He behaved like a person having no love for Himself of infinite glory and felicity in this world, and of all human pleasures and satisfactions, and sought out and welcomed everything that might cause Him to suffer in His body or in His soul.
Now if you are truly His members, you ought, therefore, to share His sentiments and dispositions, and make a firm resolution to live in future in complete detachment, forgetfulness, and hatred of your own selves.
To do this-----
To do this, make sure that you often adore Jesus in this detachment from Himself and give yourself to Him, begging Him to detach you entirely from yourself, from your own spirit, your own will and your self-love so that He may unite you perfectly to Himself, and govern you in all things according to His spirit, His love and His pure will.
-----Lift up your heart to Him, at the beginning of every action, somewhat like this: "O Jesus, with all my power I renounce myself, my own mind, my own will and my self-love and I give myself all to Thee and to Thy holy spirit and Thy Divine love. Draw me out of myself and direct me in this action according to Thy holy will."
-----Whenever an occasion of disagreement arises because of natural differences of opinion, no matter how sure you may be that you are right, be glad to give up your own opinion and yield to that of someone else, provided the glory of God be not concerned in the matter.
-----When you feel some desire or inclination for one thing or another, lay it at once at the feet of Jesus, assuring Him that you do not wish to have any other will or inclination but His.
-----The moment you perceive yourself to have some sensible weakness or affection for any earthly object, immediately turn your heart and affections to Christ, in this way: "O dear Jesus, I give Thee all my heart and my affections. O Thou only object of my love, make me never love anything except in Thee and for Thee."
-----When someone gives you a word of praise, refer it to Him Who is alone worthy of all honor saying: "O my glory, I desire no other glory but Thine forever. To Thee alone is due all praise, honor and glory, and to me all abjection, shame and humiliation."
-----When something occurs that mortifies your body or spirit, or when you see an occasion to deprive yourself of some satisfaction (such occasions present themselves hourly), accept it with a ready welcome, for the love of Our Lord, and bless Him for giving you an opportunity to mortify you self-love, in honor of His mortifications and privations on earth.
-----Whenever you feel any joy or consolation, refer it to the sublime Source of all consolation, and say to Him: "O Jesus, I desire never to have any contentment but Thine. Ah, my Lord, it is joy enough for me to know that Thou art God, and that Thou art my God! O Jesus, be always Jesus, that is, always full of glory, greatness and joy, and I shall always be satisfied. O my Jesus, never permit me to find my contentment in anything in the world, but in Thee alone. But rather grant that I may say like Queen Esther of old: "Thou knowest, O Lord, that thou handmaid hath never rejoiced, but in Thee" (Esth. 14, 18).
PERFECTION OF CHRISTIAN DETACHMENT
The perfection of Christian detachment does not consist only in being detached from the world and from oneself.
It obliges the soul to be, in a certain sense, detached even from God.
It was expedient for Him to depart from them.
Do you not know that when Our Lord was still on earth, He assured His Apostles that it was expedient for Him to depart from them to go to the Father and send them His Holy Spirit?
Why was this, if not because they were attached to the sensible consolation of the visible presence of His sacred humanity? Now this was an obstacle to the coming of the Holy Spirit, so necessary is it to be detached from all things, no matter how holy and Divine they may be, if you would be animated by the spirit of Jesus, which is the spirit of Christianity.
That is why I say you must be detached, in a certain sense, even from God, that is, from the delights and consolation that ordinarily accompany God's grace and His love.
You must be detached from pious plans You must be detached from the pious plans you have made for God's glory, for the desires you have for greater perfection and love for God, and even from the desire to be delivered from the prison of this body, to see God and to be united with Him perfectly, and to love Him purely, without interruption.
When God allows you to feel the sweetness of His kindness in your devotions, you must be careful not to become attached to this consolation. You must humble yourself at once, considering yourself most unworthy of any consolation, and ready to be stripped of it, to assure Him that you desire to serve and love Him, not for the consolation that He gives, either in this world or in the next, but for love of Himself and merely to please Him.
No attachment to holy tasks . . .
When you have undertaken a holy task or are doing some good work for the glory of God, you must exert every effort to ensure its accomplishment. Nevertheless, you must take care not to become attached to it, so that if, by accident, you are obliged to interrupt this good work, or even leave it altogether, you will not lose your peace and repose of spirit, but remain content in view of the will and permission of God, Who directs all things and is to be equally loved in all.
Do not be carried away by your zeal
Similarly, although you must exert all your energy in trying to conquer your passions, vices and imperfections, and to became master of every kind of virtue, you must nevertheless, work at this without being carried away by your zeal.
So that when you do not perceive in yourself as many virtues, or as much love of God as you would like to see, you may remain at peace and undisturbed, humiliating yourself because of the obstacles you yourself have placed in the path of virtue.
You must try to love your own abjection
You must try to love your own abjection, remaining satisfied with what it pleases God to give you, ever persevering in your desire to make progress, having confidence that Our Lord, in His goodness, will give you the graces you need to serve Him with the perfection He requires of you.
Without anxiety . . .
So, also, however much you ought to be always eager for the happy hour which will entirely take you away from the earth, from sin and from imperfection, and unite you perfectly with God and His pure love, and however much you ought to exert all your power to accomplish God's work in you so that, His work being finished, He may quickly call you back to Him, you must, nevertheless desire this without attachment and without anxiety.
If it be Our Lord's good pleasure for you to remain several more years separated from the most sweet vision of His Divine face, you must remain satisfied with His most adorable will, even if He were to make you bear this bitter privation until the Day of Judgment.
This is what is called detachment from God. In this consists the perfect detachment from the world, and from all things which all Christians should possess. Oh, how sweet it is to be thus free and detached from all things!
Some may think it is very difficult to arrive at such perfection. But it would be easy for you if you gave yourself entirely and unreservedly to the Son of God, and if you placed your reliance and confidence, not in your own powers and resolutions, but in the greatness of His goodness and in the power of His grace and of His love.
More honey than gall
For wherever this Divine love is to be found, all is done with extreme sweetness. True, you must do violence to yourself in certain things, and go through many trials and sufferings, much darkness and mortification; nevertheless, in the ways of holy love, there is more honey than gall, and more sweetness than rigor.
O, my Saviour, what glory Thou hast, what joy Thou takest and what great things dost Thou accomplish in one who walks bravely in these ways, abandoning everything, becoming detached from everything, even in a way from Thee, to give himself more perfectly to Thee! How strongly dost Thou then unite the soul with Thee! With what power dost Thou gain possession of it! How Divinely dost Thou plunge it into the abyss of Thy love! How admirably dost Thou transform it into Thyself, clothing it with Thy qualities, Thy spirit, and Thy love!
What eminent satisfaction, what delightful sweetness it is for a soul to be able to say with truth:
"My God, here I am free and detached from everything! Who will stop me now from loving Thee perfectly? Now I no longer cling to anything. Draw me after Thee, O Jesus. Trahe me post te, curremus in odorem unguentorum tuorum (Cant. 1, 3).
What a consolation it is for a soul to be able to say with the holy Spouse: "My beloved to me, and I to Him" (Cant. 2, 16), and with Jesus, Omnia mea tua sunt, et tua mea sunt, "All my things are Thine, and Thine are mine" (John 17, 10).
Beg Him to break your bonds
Cultivate an earnest desire for this holy detachment. Give yourself entirely and unreservedly to Jesus. Beg Him to break your bonds with the strength of His all powerful arm, to detach you completely from the world, from yourself, and from all things, so that He may work in you, without any obstacle, all that He desires to accomplish for His glory.
THE FOURTH FOUNDATION OF SANCTITY: PRAYER
The holy exercise of prayer must be considered one of the chief foundations of Christian life and sanctity, since the whole life of Jesus Christ was nothing but a perpetual prayer, which you must continue and express in your life.
This is so necessary that the earth on which you live, the air you breathe, the bread that sustains you, the heart that beats in your breast, are none of them so necessary to man for his bodily life as prayer is to a Christian if he is to live as a Christian.
This is because:
(1) The Christian life, called by the Son of God eternal life, consists in knowing and loving God. This Divine knowledge is acquired by praying.
(2) Of yourself you are nothing, can do nothing and possess nothing but poverty and nothingness. Hence, you have a very great need of going to God for help, at all hours, by means of prayer, so that you may obtain and receive from Him all that you lack.
What Prayer Is
Prayer is a respectful and loving elevation of your mind and heart to God. It is a joyous meeting, a holy communication, a Divine conversation between God and the Christian.
In it the soul considers and contemplates its Creator in His Divine perfections, in His mysteries and in His works; it adores and blesses Him, loves and glorifies Him, gives itself to Him, is abased before Him at the sight of its sins and ingratitude. It implores Him to be merciful, and learns to become like Him by imitating His Divine virtues and perfections, and finally asks for all the things necessary to serve and love Him.
Prayer is a participation in the life of the angels and saints, in the life of Jesus Christ and of His most holy Mother, even of the life of God and of the Three Divine Persons. For the life of the Angels and Saints, of Christ, and of His most holy Mother is nothing else but a continual practice of prayer and contemplation, in which their uninterrupted occupation is to look upon God, to praise and love Him, to ask Him, on your behalf, for the things you need. And the existence of the Three Divine Persons is a perpetual contemplation, praise and love of one another, which is accomplished first and foremost by prayer.
Prayer is perfect delight, supreme happiness, a true earthly paradise. It is by this Divine exercise of prayer that the Christian soul is united to God, Who is the center of its being, its goal and its supreme good. It is in prayer that God belongs to the soul and the soul to God. It is by praying that the soul pays Him rightful service, homage, adoration and love, and receives from Him His lights, His blessings and a thousand tokens of His exceeding great love.
It is during your prayers that God takes His delight in you, according to this word of His: "My delights are to be with the children of men" (Prov. 8, 31), and gives us an experimental knowledge of the fact that our true joy and perfect satisfaction are to be found in God, and that a hundred, or even a thousand years of the false pleasures of this world are not worth one moment of the true delights which God allows those souls to taste, who seek all their contentment only in conversing with Him in holy prayer.
Finally, prayer is the most worthy, the noblest, the loftiest, greatest and most important act in which you can engage your efforts, for it is the ceaseless occupation of the Angels and Saints, of the Blessed Virgin, of Jesus and of the Most Holy Trinity throughout all the vastness of eternity.
It is also destined to be our own unending activity in Heaven. Indeed, this is the one true and proper function of a man and of a Christian, since man is created for God and to be with God, and the Christian is on earth only for the purpose of continuing what Jesus Christ did during His life.
Do not deprive Him of His satisfaction of being with you
Therefore, with all my power, I urge every one of you who read these words, and in God's name I adjure you, since our Dear Jesus condescends to take His delight in being with you and speaking to you through prayer, do not deprive Him of His satisfaction, but learn by your own experience that like holy wisdom His conversation has no bitterness, nor His company any tediousness, but joy and gladness. (Wis. 8, 16).
Give as much time as you can
Look upon prayer as the first, the principal, most necessary, most urgent and most important business of your life, and as far as possible, free yourself from all less necessary duties, to give as much time as you can to prayer, especially in the morning and evening, and a little before dinner, and in one or another of the ways I shall set forth.
VARIOUS KINDS OF PRAYER
There are several ways of praying and I shall here set down the five most important methods of prayer.
1. Mental Prayer
Nature of Mental Prayer
The first is called mental or interior prayer, in which the soul communes with God, taking as the subject of conversation one of His Divine perfections, or some mystery, virtue or word of His Divine Son, whether something He accomplished in the past, or is doing now, in the order of glory, grace or nature, in His Mother, His Saints, His Church or in the world.
You apply your understanding
You begin the conversation of prayer by applying your understanding to consider with a determined, yet unstrained, attention and effort the truths to be found in the subjects chosen, truths which can arouse the soul to love God and hate sin.
Then make your heart and will
Then make your heart and will produce a few fervent acts of adoration, praise, love, humility, contrition and oblation, with the resolution to avoid evil and do good, according to the prompting of the Spirit of God.
A very great gift
This kind of prayer is more holy, more useful and more filled with blessings than words can convey. For this reason, if God draws you to mental prayer and gives you the grace to practise it, you should indeed thank Him for this very great gift.
If He has not yet given you this grace, pray that He may do so, and for your own part exert all your efforts to correspond with His grace and cultivate this holy practice. God Himself will instruct you in the ways of this prayer better than all the books and all the teachers in the world, if you cast yourself down at His feet with humility, confidence and purity of heart, in the way I am about to explain.
2. Vocal Prayer
What it consists in
The second method of prayer is called vocal prayer. It consists in speaking to God, either by the recitation of the Divine Office, or the Rosary or any other vocal prayer.
This is almost as valuable as mental prayer, provided that when you speak to God with your lips you also speak to Him with your heart and with an attentive mind. In this way your prayer will be both vocal and mental.
If, however, you get into the habit of reciting many vocal prayers mechanically and inattentively, you will leave God's presence more distracted, colder and less generous in His love than you were when you entered. For this reason I advise you to confine yourself to relatively few vocal prayers, apart from those you are obliged to say, and to develop the habit of saying them devoutly, with great attention and application of the mind to God. During vocal prayers you should occupy your mind and heart with holy thoughts while your tongue is uttering the words, remembering constantly that you are supposed to continue the prayers which Christ said on earth.
Give yourself to Him for this purpose. Unite yourself with the love, humility, purity, holiness and most perfect attention characteristic of His prayers, and beg Him to impress upon your soul the holy and Divine dispositions and intentions with which He used to pray.
Offer your prayers in union . . .
You may also offer your prayers in union with all the holy prayers and Divine supplications that have ever been, in Heaven and on earth, by the most Holy Virgin, the Angels and the Saints, uniting yourself with the love and devotion and attention with which they perform this holy function.
3. Spirit of Prayer
. . . in a Christian and holy spirit
The third method of prayer is to perform all your acts, even the smallest, in a Christian and holy spirit, offering them to Our Lord as you begin, and then, from time to time, lifting up your heart to Him while you perform them. To do your actions thus is to perform them with a spirit of prayer and to practice prayer continually, in accordance with the commandment of Our Lord, Who desires that you should always pray without ceasing.
This prayer by action is a most excellent, as well as a very easy way to remain in the presence of God.
4. Spiritual Reading
The reading of spiritual matter and the applying of your mind
The fourth method of prayer is to read good books, reading them, however, not in haste, but taking your time, and applying your mind to what you are reading, stopping to consider and turning over in your thoughts the truths that strike you most forcefully, in order to impress them on your mind so as to derive specific acts of virtue and profitable resolutions.
Therefore, one thing I recommend to you with singular insistence is that you never let a day go by without reading some spiritual book for half an hour.
Books well suited
The books best suited for spiritual reading are the New Testament, the Imitation of Christ, the Lives of the Saints, the works of Luis de Granada, especially his great Guide for Sinners and the Memorial of the Christian Life, the writings of St. Francis de Sales and of Cardinal de Bérulle, founder of the Oratory of France, and Father Quarré's Spiritual Treasure.
But remember, at the beginning of your reading, to give your mind and heart to Our Lord and to beg Him to give you the grace to derive the fruit He chooses for you, and that by this He may work His holy will in your soul for His glory.
5. Conversing About God
Conversing about God and holy things
It is also a most useful and devout practice, which usually enflames hearts with Divine love, to speak and converse with one another about God and holy things. Christians should indeed spend part of their time this way. God should be the principal subject of their conversation, and it is in this that they ought to seek their recreation and their delight.
You are encouraged to do this by the Apostle St. Peter saying, "If any man speak, let him speak as the words of God" (1 Pet. 4, 11).
Enjoy speaking the language of your Father God
After all, you are God's children, so you ought to enjoy speaking the language of your Father, a language that is all holy, celestial and Divine.
And since you are made for Heaven, you ought to begin, even
on earth, to speak a heavenly language.
Oh, how sweet it is, to a soul who loves God above all things, to speak of what is most lovable in the world and to hear sweet words about Him!
Jesus in the midst of you
How pleasing are these holy conversations to the One Who has said: "Where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18, 20). Oh, how different are such precious words from the ordinary chatter of this world! What a holy and profitable way to spend your time, provided you do it in the proper dispositions!
The rule laid down by St. Paul
For this end you should follow the rule laid down by St. Paul on this subject: Sicut ex Deo, coram Deo, in Christo loquimur. "From God, before God, in Christ we speak" (2 Cor. 2, 17). These words indicate the three things you must observe, if you are to speak of God devoutly and inspiringly.
First, you must speak from God, that is, you must draw upon God for your topics and your words, offering yourself to the Son of God at the beginning of your spiritual conversation, in order that He may inspire your mind and place on your lips the words and things you are to say, and that you may thus say what He said to His Father: "These words which Thou gavest me, I have given to them" (John 17, 8).
In the Presence of God
Secondly, you must speak in the presence of God, in a spirit
of prayer and recollection, remembering attentively that God is everywhere
present, and giving yourself to God, so that He may cause to fructify in you the
things that you may say or hear said, and that you may make use of them
according to His holy will.
In Jesus Christ
Thirdly, you must speak in Jesus Christ, that is, with the intentions and dispositions of Christ, even as He spoke so nobly and beautifully on earth, or else as He would speak if He were in your place.
To do this, you should give yourself to Him, uniting yourself with His intentions as He discoursed in the world, having no other aim but the glory of His Father alone. You should also share His dispositions of humility, of gentleness and charity towards those to whom He spoke, and of love and attention towards His Father.
If you do this, your conversations will be most pleasing to Him. He will be in the midst of you, to take His delight among you and the time spent in these spiritual conversations will be time spent in prayer.
QUALITIES OF PRAYER
In the name of Jesus
The holy Apostle St. Paul teaches that if you would perform all your actions devoutly, you must act in the name of Jesus Christ. And Christ Himself assures you that whatever you ask His Father, in His name, He will grant you. Therefore, to pray worthily and to obtain from God all that you ask, you must pray in the name of Jesus Christ.
But what does it mean, to pray in the name of Christ? I have already mentioned what it means, but it is a point that can not be stressed too often, a truth which must become well impressed upon your minds as of great importance and most useful in everything you do. To pray in the name of Christ means to continue the prayers which Christ said while on earth.
As He Himself would do now
Since all Christians are members of Jesus Christ and constitute His Mystical Body, as St. Paul says, they represent His Person, and must consequently do everything in His Name, that is, in His spirit, with His dispositions and intentions, just as He Himself did on earth, and just as He would do now, in their place.
In the same way, an ambassador, who represents the ruler of a country, is obliged to act and speak in his name, that is, in his spirit, just as the ruler himself would act and speak if he were present. Therefore, I repeat that to pray in the name of Christ is to continue Christ's own prayers and supplications, to pray in His spirit, with the feelings, thoughts and sacred intentions that animated His Heart as He prayed. All Christians ought to pray as He did, in His name.
When you begin your prayers, remember that you are going to continue the prayers of Jesus Christ
To this end, when you begin your. prayers, remember that you are going to continue the prayers of Jesus Christ, and that you must also continue to pray as He would, namely, with the dispositions of His earthly petitions as well as His eternal prayer now in heaven and upon our altars, where He is present in a ceaseless act of supplication to His Heavenly Father.
Unite yourself with the love, humility, purity, holiness, attention, and with all the holy dispositions and intentions of His infinite prayer.
Now, among these dispositions there are four in particular, with which you should pray if you desire to give God glory by your prayers, and to obtain from Him what you ask.
The first disposition for prayer is that you should present yourself before God with deep humility, recognizing that you are most unworthy to appear in His august presence to contemplate Him, or to be heard by Him. Of yourself, you cannot entertain a single holy thought, nor perform a single act that is pleasing to Him. Therefore, you must annihilate yourself at His feet, offering yourself to our Lord Jesus Christ, that He may establish Himself in you, that it may be He Himself Who prays within you, since He alone is worthy to appear before God's face to glorify and love Him, and to obtain from Him the answer to all petitions. Then, you may approach in full confidence to ask of the Eternal Father all that you ask of Him in the name of His Son, by the merits of His Divine Son, Jesus Christ, Who dwells within you.
The second disposition is a loving and respectful confidence, believing most firmly that everything you ask, if it is for God's glory and your salvation, will infallibly be granted, and often with a generosity surpassing your request, provided that you do not ask it relying upon your merits, or upon the virtue of your prayer, but in the name of Jesus Christ, by His merits and prayers, and for Christ Himself, trusting purely in His goodness and His sacred promise: "Ask and it shall be given you" (Luke 11, 9). "If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you" (John 16, 23); and, "whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you" (Mark 11, 24). If God treated you according to your merits, He would drive you out of His sight, and destroy you when you presented yourself before Him. Therefore, when He gives you grace, you must not think that He gives it to you in answer to your prayers, but rather that He gives it to His Son Jesus Christ by virtue of His prayers and merits.
3. PURITY OF INTENTION
The third disposition of prayer is purity of intention, assuring Our Lord that you renounce all curiosity of mind, all self-love, and that you wish to pray not for your own satisfaction and consolation, but purely for His glory and to please Him alone. He deigns to take delight in your company and converse with you in prayer. So ask Him to grant that you may pray solely for His glory and contentment.
The fourth disposition to accompany prayer should be
perseverance. If you desire to glorify God in prayer, and to obtain from His
goodness the favors you ask, you must faithfully persevere in this divine
There are some favors that Almighty God does not grant either the first, or the second, or the third time you ask Him, because He wishes you to pray for a long time and often He wills this delay to keep you in a state of humility and self-contempt and to make you realize the value of His graces.
He sometimes takes pleasure in putting you off for some time, in matters which oblige you to come frequently to Him, so that, by this means, you may often be with Him, and He with you; so great is His love for you, and so true it is that He delights in being with you.
Finally, to make all the other holy dispositions complete, at the beginning of your prayer, fervently give your mind and heart to Jesus and to His Divine spirit, praying Him to inspire in your heart such thoughts and affections as He may desire.
Abandon yourself entirely to His holy guidance, that He may guide you as He pleases in this Divine activity.
Trust in His great goodness to lead you in the most fitting manner, and to give you all that you shall ask, not perhaps in the way that you wish, but in some other way much better for you.