A program of mental exercises, prayers, and meditations.
To Conquer Oneself And Regulate One's Life Without Determining Oneself Through Any Tendency That Is Disordered
The purpose of the exercises is to free our life from sinful tendencies, to become perfect.
These exercises are structured into four weeks, each week having a particular theme and focus. A week can be longer or shorter than a week — one should continue until achieving some sort of mastery before proceeding to the next week's exercises.
The first Exercise will be made at midnight; the second immediately on
rising in the morning; the third . . . before dinner; the
fourth at the hour of Vespers; the fifth, an hour before supper.
The exercises are intended to be practiced at various times of the day. For each week there is a different focus and for each day of the week there is a different focus. There are prayers and a guided meditation for each stage.
Ignatius categorizes what he calls the "three powers"
For each topic he exhorts us to do three things:
- Memory — Call to mind the details of what occurred (and he often gives examples)
- Understanding — Reflect on the deeper meaning (again with examples)
- Will — Vow to improve oneself
Often there are prayers after each of these. I have included some of these.
Ignatius exhorts us to meditate on each topic in three stages:
- Narrative — the historical events that occurred
- Composition, seeing the place — imagining the many details of the events
- Ask for what I want
In the exercises Ignatius asks us to use our five senses to imagine the particular events.
First Annotation — the basic activities involved in the exercises.
Examining one's conscience, of meditating, of contemplating, of praying vocally and mentally, and of performing other spiritual actions.
Preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all the disordered tendencies, and, after it is rid, to seek and find the Divine Will as to the management of one's life for the salvation of the soul.
Notice that this training results in permanent effects.
When we are speaking vocally or mentally with God our Lord, or with His Saints, greater reverence is required on our part than when we are using the intellect in understanding.
Two kinds of activities:
- Using the intellect in understanding (meditation)
- Prayer (speaking with God and the Saints)
The . . . Exercises are divided into four parts:
- Consideration and contemplation on the sins
- The life of Christ our Lord up to Palm Sunday
- The Passion of Christ our Lord
- The Resurrection and Ascension
Twelfth Annotation — very strict about how much time to spend and to not cheat.
A full hour in the Exercise, and rather more than less.
Fourteenth Annotation — There are warnings to the leaders to not use this time to coax people to take lifelong religious vows.
Not to make any inconsiderate and hasty promise or vow.
Sixteenth Annotation — An interesting perspective on the proper purposes of holding public office.
Inclines to seeking and possessing an office or benefice, not for the honor and glory of God our Lord, nor for the spiritual well-being of souls, but for his own temporal advantage and interests.
Twentieth Annotation — That involvement with worldy pursuits and with other people distracts one from the spiritual life. This is in the context of the month-long retreat but perhaps has application to ordinary daily life.
He will, ordinarily, more benefit himself, the more he separates himself from all friends and acquaintances and from all earthly care.
So that it be in his power to go each day to Mass and to Vespers, without fear that his acquaintances will put obstacles in his way.
The more our soul finds itself alone and isolated, the more apt it makes itself to approach and to reach its Creator and Lord.
First Week — Conquer Sin
[In the] First Week some are slower to find what they seek — namely, contrition, sorrow and tears for their sins
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.
This is the end for which we are created
[It is] necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.
The times of the day to practice the exercises
- In the morning, immediately on rising, when one ought to propose to guard himself with diligence against that particular sin or defect which he wants to correct and amend.
- After dinner, when one is to ask of God our Lord what one wants, namely, grace to remember how many times he has fallen into that particular sin or defect, and to amend himself in the future.
- After supper
Examination of conscience. Record each sin and compare with the previous examination, the previous day, the previous week to notice the improvement.
Asking account of his soul of that particular thing proposed, which he wants to correct and amend. Let him go over hour by hour, or period by period, commencing at the hour he rose, and continuing up to the hour and instant of the present examen, and let him make in the first line of the G------- as many dots as were the times he has fallen into that particular sin or defect. Then let him resolve anew to amend himself up to the second Examen which he will make.
Procedure for examination of conscience
- Give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits received.
- Ask grace to know our sins and cast them out.
- Ask account of our soul from the hour that we rose up to the present Examen, hour by hour, or period by period: and first as to thoughts, and then as to words, and then as to acts.
- Ask pardon of God our Lord for the faults.
- Purpose [resolve] amendment with His grace.
Each time one falls into that particular sin or defect, let him put his hand on his breast, grieving for having fallen: which can be done even in the presence of many, without their perceiving what he is doing.
Three kinds of thoughts
- One my own, which springs from my mere liberty and will
- [One from without which comes] from the good spirit
- [One from without which comes] from the bad [spirit]
A thought of committing a mortal sin, which thought I resist immediately and it remains conquered.
When that same bad thought comes to me and I resist it, and it returns to me again and again, and I always resist, until it is conquered.
A venial sin is committed when the same thought comes of sinning mortally and one gives ear to it, making some little delay, or receiving some sensual pleasure, or when there is some negligence in rejecting such thought.
One must not speak an idle word. By idle word I mean one which does not
benefit either me or another, and is not directed to that intention.
Nothing must be said to injure another's character or to find fault, because if I reveal a mortal sin that is not public, I sin mortally; if a venial sin, venially; and if a defect, I show a defect of my own.
If the intention is right, in two ways one can speak of the sin or fault of another:
- When the sin is public, as in the case of a public prostitute, and of a sentence given in judgment, or of a public error which is infecting the souls with whom one comes in contact.
- When the hidden sin is revealed to some person that he may help to raise him who is in sin — supposing, however, that he has some probable conjectures or grounds for thinking that he will be able to help him.
Taking the Ten Commandments, the Precepts of the Church and the recommendations of Superiors, every act done against any of these three heads is, according to its greater or less nature, a greater or a lesser sin.
First Exercise — Sin
Ask God our Lord for what I want and desire.
The petition has to be according to the subject matter; that is, if the contemplation is on the Resurrection, one is to ask for joy with Christ in joy; if it is on the Passion, he is to ask for pain, tears and torment with Christ in torment.
Ask shame and confusion at myself, seeing how many have been damned for only one mortal sin, and how many times I deserved to be condemned forever for my so many sins.
Various meditations of various events in great detail (Ignatius list many examples of details to call to mind). Sins of others and sin in general.
- The First Sin, which was that of the Angels
- The sin of Adam and Eve
Imagining Christ our Lord present and placed on the Cross, let me make a Colloquy, how from Creator He is come to making Himself man, and from life eternal is come to temporal death, and so to die for my sins. Likewise, looking at myself, what I have done for Christ, what I am doing for Christ, what I ought to do for Christ.
[This prayer is made] as one friend speaks to another, or as a servant to his master; now asking some grace, now blaming oneself for some misdeed, now communicating one's affairs, and asking advice in them.
Second Exercise — My Sins
Beg a great and intense sorrow and tears for my sins.
Bring to memory all the sins of life, looking from year to year, or from period to period. For this three things are helpful: first, to look at the place and the house where I have lived; second, the relations I have had with others; third, the occupation in which I have lived.
To weigh the sins, looking at the foulness and the malice which any mortal sin committed has in it.
To look at who I am, lessening myself by examples
- How much I am in comparison to all men
- What men are in comparison to all the Angels and Saints of Paradise
- What all Creation is in comparison to God: (—Then I alone, what can I be?)
- To see all my bodily corruption and foulness
- To look at myself as a sore and ulcer, from which have sprung so many sins and so many iniquities and so very vile poison.
Consider what God is, against Whom I have sinned, according to His attributes; comparing them with their contraries in me — His Wisdom with my ignorance; His Omnipotence with my weakness; His Justice with my iniquity; His Goodness with my malice.
Angels, how, though they are the sword of the Divine Justice, they have endured me, and guarded me, and prayed for me; the Saints, how they have been engaged in interceding and praying for me;
Finish with a Colloquy of mercy, pondering and giving thanks to God our Lord that He has given me life up to now, proposing amendment, with His grace, for the future.
To Our Lady, that she may get me grace from Her Son and Lord for three things
- That I may feel an interior knowledge of my sins, and hatred of them.
- That I may feel the disorder of my actions, so that, hating them, I may correct myself and put myself in order.
- To ask knowledge of the world, in order that, hating it, I may put away from me worldly and vain things.
Then recite the Hail Mary prayer.
The same to the Son, begging Him to get it for me from the Father.
Then recite the Soul of Christ prayer.
The same to the Father, that the Eternal Lord Himself may grant it to me.
Then recite the Our Father prayer.
Fifth Exercise — A Meditation On Hell
First Addition — After going to bed, just when I want to go asleep, to think . . . of the hour that I have to rise and for what, making a resume of the Exercise which I have to make.
Second Addition — When I wake up, not giving place to any other thought, to turn my attention immediately to what I am going to contemplate
Fourth Addition — To enter on the contemplation now on my knees, now prostrate on the earth, now lying face upwards, now seated, now standing, always intent on seeking what I want.
Fifth Addition — After finishing the Exercise, I will, during the space of a quarter of an hour, seated or walking leisurely, look how it went with me in the Contemplation or Meditation; and if badly, I will look for the cause from which it proceeds, and having so seen it, will be sorry, in order to correct myself in future; and if well, I will give thanks to God our Lord, and will do in like manner another time.
Sixth Addition — Not to want to think on things of pleasure or joy, such as heavenly glory, the Resurrection, etc. Because whatever consideration of joy and gladness hinders our feeling pain and grief and shedding tears for our sins: but to keep before me that I want to grieve and feel pain, bringing to memory rather Death and Judgment.
Seventh Addition — For the same end, to deprive myself of all light, closing the blinds and doors while I am in the room, if it be not to recite prayers, to read and eat.
Eighth Addition — Not to laugh nor say a thing provocative of laughter.
Ninth Addition — To restrain my sight, except in receiving or dismissing the person with whom I have spoken.
Certainly in our perverse world we must restrain ourselves from looking at the unseemly images and dress of those around us.
Tenth Addition — Penance. This is divided into interior and exterior. The interior is to grieve for one's sins, with a firm purpose of not committing them nor any others. The exterior, or fruit of the first, is chastisement for the sins committed, and is chiefly taken in three ways.
- The first is as to eating. That is to say, when we leave off the superfluous, it is not penance, but temperance. It is penance when we leave off from the suitable; and the more and more, the greater and better — provided that the person does not injure himself, and that no notable illness follows.
- The second, as to the manner of sleeping. Here too it is not penance to leave off the superfluous of delicate or soft things, but it is penance when one leaves off from the suitable in the manner: and the more and more, the better — provided that the person does not injure himself and no notable illness follows. Besides, let not anything of the suitable sleep be left off, unless in order to come to the mean, if one has a bad habit of sleeping too much.
- The third, to chastise the flesh, that is, giving it sensible pain.
Comments about doing this.
- Wearing haircloth or cords or iron chains next to the flesh, by scourging or wounding oneself, and by other kinds of austerity.
- Pain should be sensible in the flesh and not enter within the bones, so that it give pain and not illness. For this it appears to be more suitable to scourge oneself with thin cords, which give pain exteriorly, rather than in another way which would cause notable illness within.
Exterior penances are done chiefly for three ends
- As satisfaction for the sins committed.
- To conquer oneself — that is, to make sensuality obey reason and all inferior parts be more subject to the superior.
- To seek and find some grace or gift which the person wants and desires; as, for instance, if he desires to have interior contrition for his sins, or to weep much over them, or over the pains and sufferings which Christ our Lord suffered in His Passion, or to settle some doubt in which the person finds himself.
Second Week — The Call of the Temporal King
Meditate on the many events in the life of Christ with much attention to details and seeing him in the role of a king. St. Ignatius provides many examples.
[Jesus says:] To look how this king speaks to all his people, saying: It is My will to conquer all the world and all enemies and so to enter into the glory of My Father; therefore, whoever would like to come with Me is to labor with Me, that following Me in the pain, he may also follow Me in the glory.
To look how this king speaks to all his people, saying: It is my Will to conquer all the land of unbelievers. Therefore, whoever would like to come with me is to be content to eat as I, and also to drink and dress, etc., as I: likewise he is to labor like me in the day and watch in the night, etc., that so afterwards he may have part with me in the victory, as he has had it in the labors.
Consider what the good subjects ought to answer to a King so liberal and so kind, and hence, if any one did not accept the appeal of such a king, how deserving he would be of being censured by all the world, and held for a mean-spirited knight.
Eternal Lord of all things, I make my oblation with Thy favor and help, in presence of Thy infinite Goodness and in presence of Thy glorious Mother and of all the Saints of the heavenly Court; that I want and desire, and it is my deliberate determination, if only it be Thy greater service and praise, to imitate Thee in bearing all injuries and all abuse and all poverty of spirit, and actual poverty, too, if Thy most Holy Majesty wants to choose and receive me to such life and state.
It is very helpful to read at intervals in the books of the Imitation of Christ, or of the Gospels, and of lives of Saints.
Meditate on the many aspects of the Three Divine Persons and of people's interaction, with much attention to details. St. Ignatius provides many examples.
Meditate on the many events in the lives of Mary and Joseph before and after the birth of Christ with much attention to details. St. Ignatius provides many examples.
Using the five senses of the imagination
- To see the persons with the sight of the imagination, meditating and contemplating in particular the details about them and drawing some profit from the sight.
- To hear with the hearing what they are, or might be, talking about and, reflecting on oneself, to draw some profit from it.
- To smell and to taste with the smell and the taste the infinite fragrance and sweetness of the Divinity, of the soul, and of its virtues, and of all, according to the person who is being contemplated; reflecting on oneself and drawing profit from it.
- To touch with the touch, as for instance, to embrace and kiss the places where such persons put their feet and sit, always seeing to my drawing profit from it.
Bring frequently to memory the Life and Mysteries of Christ our Lord, from His Incarnation down to the place or Mystery which I am engaged in contemplating.
The example which Christ our Lord, being under obedience to His parents, has given us for the first state, — which consists in the observance of the Commandments — having been now considered; and likewise for the second, — which is that of evangelical perfection, — when He remained in the Temple, leaving His adoptive father and His natural Mother, to attend to the pure service of His eternal Father.
Three Manners of Humility
- The first . . . is necessary for eternal salvation; namely, that I so lower and so humble myself, as much as is possible to me, that in everything I obey the law of God, so that, even if they made me lord of all the created things in this world, nor for my own temporal life, I would not be in deliberation about breaking a Commandment, whether Divine or human, which binds me under mortal sin.
- The second is more perfect Humility than the first; namely, if I find myself at such a stage that I do not want, and feel no inclination to have, riches rather than poverty, to want honor rather than dishonor, to desire a long rather than a short life — the service of God our Lord and the salvation of my soul being equal; and so not for all creation, nor because they would take away my life, would I be in deliberation about committing a venial sin.
- The third is most perfect Humility; namely, when — including the first and second, and the praise and glory of the Divine Majesty being equal — in order to imitate and be more actually like Christ our Lord, I want and choose poverty with Christ poor rather than riches, opprobrium with Christ replete with it rather than honors; and to desire to be rated as worthless and a fool for Christ, Who first was held as such, rather than wise or prudent in this world.
The topic is what we elect to do with our lives: marriage, priesthood, choice of careers, etc.
It is necessary that everything about which we want to make an election should be indifferent, or good, in itself, and should be allowed within our Holy Mother the hierarchical Church, and not bad nor opposed to her.
There are some things which fall under unchangeable election, such as are the priesthood, marriage, etc. There are others which fall under an election that can be changed, such as are to take benefices or leave them, to take temporal goods or rid oneself of them.
If some one has duly and ordinately made election of things which are under election that can be changed, and has not yielded to flesh or world, there is no reason for his making election anew, but let him perfect himself as much as he can in that already chosen.
To Make A Sound And Good Election: To ask of God our Lord to be pleased to move my will and put in my soul what I ought to do regarding the thing proposed, so as to promote more His praise and glory; discussing well and faithfully with my intellect, and choosing agreeably to His most holy pleasure and will.
Third Week — The Passion of Christ
Christ Our Lord Went From Bethany To Jerusalem To The Last Supper, from the Supper To The Garden, from the Garden to the house of Annas, from the house of Caiphas to Pilate, from Herod to Pilate, from the house of Pilate up to the Crucifixion, Descent from the Cross to the Tomb
As To Eating
- it is well to abstain less from bread, because it is not a food as to which the appetite is used to act so inordinately, or to which temptation urges as in the case of the other foods.
- Abstinence appears more convenient as to drinking, than as to eating bread. So, one ought to look much what is helpful to him, in order to admit it, and what does him harm, in order to discard it.
- As to foods, one ought to have the greatest and most entire abstinence, because as the appetite is more ready to act inordinately, so temptation is more ready in making trial, on this head. And so abstinence in foods, to avoid disorder, can be kept in two ways, one by accustoming oneself to eat coarse foods; the other, if one takes delicate foods, by taking them in small quantity.
- Above all, let him guard against all his soul being intent on what he is eating, and in eating let him not go hurriedly, through appetite, but be master of himself, as well in the manner of eating as in the quantity which he eats.
- To avoid disorder, it is very helpful, after dinner or after supper, or at another hour when one feels no appetite for eating, to decide with oneself for the coming dinner or supper, and so on, each day, the quantity which it is suitable that he should eat. Beyond this let him not go because of any appetite or temptation, but rather, in order to conquer more all inordinate appetite and temptation of the enemy, if he is tempted to eat more, let him eat less.
How Christ Our Lord Appeared To Our Lady
The narrative, which is here how, after Christ expired on the Cross, and the Body, always united with the Divinity, remained separated from the Soul, the blessed Soul, likewise united with the Divinity, went down to Hell, and taking from there the just souls, and coming to the Sepulchre and being risen, He appeared to His Blessed Mother in Body and in Soul.
Let one go on through all the Mysteries of the Resurrection . . . up to the Ascension.
Contemplation To Gain Love
- Love ought to be put more in deeds than in words.
- Love consists in interchange between the two parties; that is to say in the lover's giving and communicating to the beloved what he has or out of what he has or can.
The first Method of Prayer is on the Ten Commandments, and on the Seven Deadly Sins, on the Three Powers of the Soul and on the Five Bodily Senses.
- The Ten Commandments — To ask grace of God our Lord that I may be able to know in what I have failed as to the Ten Commandments; how I have kept them and in what I have failed; and likewise to beg grace and help to amend in future. It is to be noted that when one comes to think on a Commandment on which he finds he has no habit of sinning, it is not necessary for him to delay so much time.
- The Deadly Sins — In order to know better the faults committed in the Deadly Sins, let their contraries be looked at: and so, to avoid them better, let the person purpose and with holy exercises see to acquiring and keeping the seven virtues contrary to them.
- The Powers of the Soul (Memory, Intellect, Will)
- The Bodily Senses
Second Method Of Prayer (for various Catholic prayers)
- Contemplating the meaning of each word of the Prayer.
- By rhythm — with each breath in or out, one has to pray mentally so that only one word be said between one breath and another, and while the time from one breath to another lasts, let attention be given chiefly to the meaning of such word, or to the person to whom he recites it, or to his own baseness, or to the difference from such great height to his own so great lowness.
The Mysteries Of The Life Of Christ Our Lord [many events from the life of Jesus and Mary from the Annunciation to the appearances of Christ after his Resurrection.]
Rules For Perceiving And Knowing In Some Manner The Different Movements Which Are Caused In The Soul The Good, To Receive Them, And The Bad To Reject Them.
- In the persons who go from mortal sin to mortal sin, the enemy is commonly used to propose to them apparent pleasures, making them imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to hold them more and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons the good spirit uses the opposite method, pricking them and biting their consciences through the process of reason.
- In the persons who are going on intensely cleansing their sins and rising from good to better in the service of God our Lord, it is the method contrary to that in the first Rule, for then it is the way of the evil spirit to bite, sadden and put obstacles, disquieting with false reasons, that one may not go on; and it is proper to the good to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations and quiet, easing, and putting away all obstacles, that one may go on in well doing.
- Of Spiritual Consolation: I call it consolation when some interior movement in the soul is caused, through which the soul comes to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord; and when it can in consequence love no created thing on the face of the earth in itself, but in the Creator of them all. Likewise, when it sheds tears that move to love of its Lord, whether out of sorrow for one's sins, or for the Passion of Christ our Lord, or because of other things directly connected with His service and praise. Finally, I call consolation every increase of hope, faith and charity, and all interior joy which calls and attracts to heavenly things and to the salvation of one's soul, quieting it and giving it peace in its Creator and Lord.
- Of Spiritual Desolation: I call desolation all the contrary of the third rule, such as darkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to things low and earthly, the unquiet of different agitations and temptations, moving to want of confidence, without hope, without love, when one finds oneself all lazy, tepid, sad, and as if separated from his Creator and Lord. Because, as consolation is contrary to desolation, in the same way the thoughts which come from consolation are contrary to the thoughts which come from desolation.
- In time of desolation never to make a change; but to be firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which he was in the preceding consolation. Because, as in consolation it is rather the good spirit who guides and counsels us, so in desolation it is the bad, with whose counsels we cannot take a course to decide rightly.
- Although in desolation we ought not to change our first resolutions, it is very helpful intensely to change ourselves against the same desolation, as by insisting more on prayer, meditation, on much examination, and by giving ourselves more scope in some suitable way of doing penance.
- Let him who is in desolation consider how the Lord has left him in trial in his natural powers, in order to resist the different agitations and temptations of the enemy; since he can with the Divine help, which always remains to him, though he does not clearly perceive it: because the Lord has taken from him his great fervor, great love and intense grace, leaving him, however, grace enough for eternal salvation.
- Let him who is in desolation labor to be in patience, which is contrary to the vexations which come to him: and let him think that he will soon be consoled, employing against the desolation the devices, as is said in the sixth Rule.
- There are three principal reasons why we find ourselves desolate. The first is, because of our being tepid, lazy or negligent in our spiritual exercises; and so through our faults, spiritual consolation withdraws from us. The second, to try us and see how much we are and how much we let ourselves out in His service and praise without such great pay of consolation and great graces. The third, to give us true acquaintance and knowledge, that we may interiorly feel that it is not ours to get or keep great devotion, intense love, tears, or any other spiritual consolation, but that all is the gift and grace of God our Lord, and that we may not build a nest in a thing not ours, raising our intellect into some pride or vainglory, attributing to us devotion or the other things of the spiritual consolation.
- Let him who is in consolation think how he will be in the desolation which will come after, taking new strength for then.
- Let him who is consoled see to humbling himself and lowering himself as much as he can, thinking how little he is able for in the time of desolation without such grace or consolation. On the contrary, let him who is in desolation think that he can do much with the grace sufficient to resist all his enemies, taking strength in his Creator and Lord.
Rules For The Same Effect With Greater Discernment Of Spirits
- It is proper to God and to His Angels in their movements to give true spiritual gladness and joy, taking away all sadness and disturbance which the enemy brings on. Of this latter it is proper to fight against the spiritual gladness and consolation, bringing apparent reasons, subtleties and continual fallacies.
- We ought to note well the course of the thoughts, and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel; but if in the course of the thoughts which he brings it ends in something bad, of a distracting tendency, or less good than what the soul had previously proposed to do, or if it weakens it or disquiets or disturbs the soul, taking away its peace, tranquillity and quiet, which it had before, it is a clear sign that it proceeds from the evil spirit, enemy of our profit and eternal salvation.
In The Ministry Of Distributing Alms The Following Rules Should Be Kept
- If I make the distribution to relatives or friends, or to persons for whom I have an affection, I shall have four things to see to, of which mention was made, in part, in the matter of Election.The first is, that that love which moves me and makes me give the alms, should descend from above, from the love of God our Lord, so that I feel first in me that the love, more or less, which I have to such persons is for God; and that in the reason why I love them more, God appears.
- I want to set before me a man whom I have never seen or known, and desiring all his perfection in the ministry and condition which he has, as I would want him to keep the mean in his manner of distributing, for the greater glory of God our Lord and the greater perfection of his soul; I, doing so, neither more nor less, will keep the rule and measure which I should want and judge to be right for the other.
- When some person feels himself inclined and drawn to some persons to whom he wants to distribute alms, let him hold himself back and ponder well the above-mentioned four Rules, examining and testing his affection by them; and not give the alms until, conformably to them, he has in all dismissed and cast out his disordered inclination.
The Following Notes Help To Perceive And Understand Scruples And Persuasions Of Our Enemy
- They commonly call a scruple what proceeds from our own judgment and freedom: that is to say, when I freely decide that that is sin which is not sin, as when it happens that after some one has accidentally stepped on a cross of straw, he decides with his own judgment that he has sinned. This is properly an erroneous judgment and not a real scruple.
- After I have stepped on that cross, or after I have thought or said or done some other thing, there comes to me a thought from without that I have sinned, and on the other hand it appears to me that I have not sinned; still I feel disturbance in this; that is to say, in as much as I doubt and in as much as I do not doubt. That is a real scruple and temptation which the enemy sets.
To Have The True Sentiment Which We Ought To Have In The Church Militant
- We ought to have our mind ready and prompt to obey, in all, the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother the Church Hierarchical.
- To praise confession to a Priest, and the reception of the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar once in the year, and much more each month, and much better from week to week, with the conditions required and due.
- To praise the hearing of Mass often, likewise hymns, psalms, and long prayers, in the church and out of it; likewise the hours set at the time fixed for each Divine Office and for all prayer and all Canonical Hours.
- To praise much Religious Orders, virginity and continence, and not so much marriage as any of these.
- To praise vows of Religion, of obedience, of poverty, of chastity and of other perfections of supererogation. And it is to be noted that as the vow is about the things which approach to Evangelical perfection, a vow ought not to be made in the things which withdraw from it, such as to be a merchant, or to be married, etc.
- To praise relics of the Saints, giving veneration to them and praying to the Saints; and to praise Stations, pilgrimages, Indulgences, pardons, Cruzadas, and candles lighted in the churches.
- To praise Constitutions about fasts and abstinence, as of Lent, Ember Days, Vigils, Friday and Saturday; likewise penances, not only interior, but also exterior.
- To praise the ornaments and the buildings of churches; likewise images, and to venerate them according to what they represent.
- Finally, to praise all precepts of the Church, keeping the mind prompt to find reasons in their defence and in no manner against them.
- We ought to be more prompt to find good and praise as well the Constitutions and recommendations as the ways of our Superiors. Because, although some are not or have not been such, to speak against them, whether preaching in public or discoursing before the common people, would rather give rise to fault-finding and scandal than profit; and so the people would be incensed against their Superiors, whether temporal or spiritual. So that, as it does harm to speak evil to the common people of Superiors in their absence, so it can make profit to speak of the evil ways to the persons themselves who can remedy them.
- To praise positive and scholastic learning. Because, as it is more proper to the Positive Doctors, as St. Jerome, St. Augustine and St. Gregory, etc., to move the heart to love and serve God our Lord in everything; so it is more proper to the Scholastics, as St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, and to the Master of the Sentences, etc., to define or explain for our times the things necessary for eternal salvation; and to combat and explain better all errors and all fallacies. For the Scholastic Doctors, as they are more modern, not only help themselves with the true understanding of the Sacred Scripture and of the Positive and holy Doctors, but also, they being enlightened and clarified by the Divine virtue, help themselves by the Councils, Canons and Constitutions of our holy Mother the Church.
- We ought to be on our guard in making comparison of those of us who are alive to the blessed passed away, because error is committed not a little in this; that is to say, in saying, this one knows more than St. Augustine; he is another, or greater than, St. Francis; he is another St. Paul in goodness, holiness, etc.
- To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.
- Although there is much truth in the assertion that no one can save himself without being predestined and without having faith and grace; we must be very cautious in the manner of speaking and communicating with others about all these things.
- We ought not, by way of custom, to speak much of predestination; but if in some way and at some times one speaks, let him so speak that the common people may not come into any error, as sometimes happens, saying: Whether I have to be saved or condemned is already determined, and no other thing can now be, through my doing well or ill; and with this, growing lazy, they become negligent in the works which lead to the salvation and the spiritual profit of their souls.
- In the same way, we must be on our guard that by talking much and with much insistence of faith, without any distinction and explanation, occasion be not given to the people to be lazy and slothful in works, whether before faith is formed in charity or after.
- Likewise, we ought not to speak so much with insistence on grace that the poison of discarding liberty be engendered. So that of faith and grace one can speak as much as is possible with the Divine help for the greater praise of His Divine Majesty, but not in such way, nor in such manners, especially in our so dangerous times, that works and free will receive any harm, or be held for nothing.
- Although serving God our Lord much out of pure love is to be esteemed above all; we ought to praise much the fear of His Divine Majesty, because not only filial fear is a thing pious and most holy, but even servile fear — when the man reaches nothing else better or more useful — helps much to get out of mortal sin. And when he is out, he easily comes to filial fear, which is all acceptable and grateful to God our Lord: as being at one with the Divine Love.
It seems that there is an assumption that everybody who participates in these exercises regularly commit mortal sins. Perhaps that is due to the excess of the day — this attitude provoked the Protestant Reformation.
View of the Eucharist — That we should not receive communion unless we are very pure and holy. Then we will receive the strength which comes from reception of the Eucharist. The modern view is that we need this strength even before we finally become perfect.
Penance includes whipping oneself and tying cords and chains around the arms and legs to cause pain.
There are graphic images of hell, the implied assumption that nearly everyone goes there, the idea that we are totally depraved (as Calvin taught).
There are many images in the context of feudalism — knights, fealty, etc.
An amusing paragraph reflecting the unfortunate view towards women.
The enemy acts like a woman, in being weak against vigor and strong of will. Because, as it is the way of the woman when she is quarrelling with some man to lose heart, taking flight when the man shows her much courage: and on the contrary, if the man, losing heart, begins to fly, the wrath, revenge, and ferocity of the woman is very great, and so without bounds; in the same manner, it is the way of the enemy to weaken and lose heart, his temptations taking flight, when the person who is exercising himself in spiritual things opposes a bold front against the temptations of the enemy, doing diametrically the opposite. And on the contrary, if the person who is exercising himself commences to have fear and lose heart in suffering the temptations, there is no beast so wild on the face of the earth as the enemy of human nature in following out his damnable intention with so great malice.