All Graces Flow From
The Holy Sacrifice of the Catholic Mass
TO LIVE A SPIRITUAL LIFE
Veni, Sancte Spiritus
The Soul Prepared
Brief Introduction, Part 1
Brief Introduction, Part 2
Warning Concerning Certain Bibles
Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures
In what does the sanctification and spiritual perfection of a person consist?
Importance of Spiritual Reading
Five Scientific Proofs for the Existence of God
Common-Sense Practice - The Works of Mercy
The Chief Spiritual Works of Mercy
The Chief Corporal Works of Mercy
Recommended Religious Devotions
Summary About Prayer
What are the General Means of Spiritual Perfection?Appendix 2What is meant by the observance of the Ten Commandments of God?
What is meant by the observance of the Precepts of the Catholic Church?
What is meant by uniting and conforming your will to the Most Holy Will of God?
Is there a prayer which can help people to unite their will with God's Holy Will?
Accepting Today’s Cross to Carry
What is meant by assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as frequently as possible?
What is meant by receiving the Sacraments, i.e. Penance and Holy Eucharist, as frequently as possible?
What is meant by Meditation or Contemplation and reading good books on the Spiritual Life?
What is meant by being faithful in small things?
What is meant by having self-control or self-discipline and self-denial?
What is meant by establishing order and regularity?
What is meant by forming a habit of prayer?
What is meant by having frequent recourse to solitude?
What is meant by having a Spiritual Director?
What are “Schools of Spirituality”?
Procedure to Use for MeditationAppendix 3
How YOU Can Become One of God’s FavoritesAppendix 4
An Explanation of the Heading
His Beatitude, Patriarch Saint John Chrysostom [b. Antioch, c. 347 A.D. - d. at Commana in Pontus on Friday, September 14, 407 A.D.], Patriarch of Constantinople [Thursday, February 26, 398 A.D. - Thursday, June 24, 404 A.D.], Father and Doctor of the Catholic Church, taught that unless God the Holy Ghost prepares the mind and heart of the Writer and of the Reader, the Writer writes in vain, and the Reader reads in vain. Therefore, please join with me in praying to God the Holy Ghost:
Come, O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy Faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray.
O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of Thy Faithful by the light of Thy Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
10 Finally, Brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of His power.
11 Put you on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.
12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.
13 Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with Truth, and having on the breastplate of justice,
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace:
16 In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.
17 And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God).
18 By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit. (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Some Catholics are under the mistaken idea that the Spiritual Life is not necessary or that it is a waste of time.
Yet other Catholics think that they have learned all they ever need to known about the Catholic Faith because they learned what the Catholic Church officially teaches in her Unchangeable Dogmas and Doctrines, most probably when they were children many years ago in their Baltimore Catechism in Grade School, or from their study of The Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests, or the Catechism of Pope Saint Pius X, or in their more advanced study of Catholic Truths such as found in summary format, e.g. by Dr. Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.
For the record concerning Catholic Doctrines and Dogmas: Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma had been available on the internet for free, with the download at:Unfortunately, such Catholics do not realize that there is much more to being a "Catholic" than having a virtual Doctorate, so to speak, in Catholic Dogma! This "much more" is definitely the Spiritual Life which is a totally different and unknown world for too many Catholics, including those who are "experts" in Catholic Doctrines and Dogmas, Philosophy, Theology (excluding the sciences of Ascetical and Mystical Theology), Canon Law, Church History, Patristics, Liturgy, Gregorian Chant, etc., etc.
However, one now gets this error message: "The item is not available due to issues with the item's content"!
Another summary is Father Heinrich Joseph Dominicus Denzinger's [b. at Liège, Belgium on Sunday, October 10, 1819 A.D. - d. at Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany on Tuesday, June 19, 1883 A.D.] Enchiridion Symbolorum et Definitionum - The Sources Of Catholic Dogma. Thus far, as of this writing, the English translation of it is still available from the same place for free, including PDF file format. Those of you who want a copy should download it now while it is still available:
Such Catholics apparently have never been taught that the Spiritual Life is a person's Immortal Soul properly exercising herself by living a life of Prayer, a life of Virtue, a life of the Seven Gifts, a life in which one unites and conforms one's will to the Holy Will of God which is the perfection of Charity - the True Love of God - not a sentimental or emotional type of love. Perhaps the problems stems from the fact that most, or maybe all, Catholic Grade Schools and Catholic High Schools, perhaps even Catholic Universities, teach very little about the Spiritual Life, and prefer to focus primarily on other areas such as Dogma, Liturgy, History, etc.?
Approximately 95% of what both myself, and most probably all of my classmates, learned about the Spiritual Life when we were Seminarians, back in the days before Synod Vatican 2, came from four sources:
1. Inspirations from God the Holy Ghost.In other words, only a relatively tiny part of the knowledge of the Spiritual Life came from:
2. Reading books on the Spiritual Life, especially those written in previous centuries by Holy Men and Women, most of whom are Canonized Saints.
3. The fruits of daily Meditation/Contemplation.
4. The fruits of some daily Prayers and Religious Devotions.
1. Religious Conferences which the Religious Superior would give from time to time.During my first year in the Seminary, I humbly asked God the Holy Ghost to be my Spiritual Director. Yes, some of the Priests in the Seminary were excellent Spiritual Directors, but God the Holy Ghost really knew, not only the condition of my Immortal Soul, but also knew what my Immortal Soul actually needed in terms of proper guidance and direction. After the compulsory Spiritual Retreats were concluded, I humbly asked God the Holy Ghost to be my Retreat Master whenever I make a private Retreat, and this for the same reason in asking Him to be my Spiritual Director.
2. From the semi-annual Retreats during which the Retreat Master would give us guidance on various matters he considered to be important for all of us.
3. From Sermons.
4. From the public reading of various books on the Spiritual Life during meals in the Refectory, one of the many times that strict silence was observed each day in the Seminary.
For this same reason, I respectfully suggest that all Catholics do what I have done - humbly ask God the Holy Ghost to be your Spiritual Director and, when you make a private Retreat, your Retreat Master. The results will be fantastic! I speak from my own personal experiences in this regard!
Because the Spiritual Life seems to be a great mystery to many people today, because of their lack of knowledge about it, or because of their lack of personal acquaintance with it, except perhaps for their Morning and Evening Prayers, Grace Before and Thanksgiving After Meals, the daily Rosary, and perhaps a few Religious Devotions and/or other Spiritual Exercises, as well as their attendance at Mass and hearing Sermons and the reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, some people seem to have a fear, to some extent, of the real living of the Spiritual Life which certainly helps a person to heed this wise counsel:
“Be you therefore perfect, as also your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).In other words, all Catholics, because they are Catholics, have the potential to become perfect in this life!
By "perfect" is meant Spiritually Perfect.
But what is even worse are those people who are in the darkness of sin and/or of unbelief in God, or who ignore God thinking their great success in life is due only to their own efforts. These are the proverbial "people of this world", whose actions deny the existence of God, including too many Catholics it seems. Most of these are very worldly, materialistic, selfish, proud, arrogant, bullies, tyrants, money-hungry, greedy, and power-mad.
Worse still are those who are fornicators, liars, thieves, murderers, and those who live an anti-God and/or anti-Christ lifestyle, all of whom worship, in one way or another, at the pagan altars of the false gods of money, and/or greed, and/or lust, and/or power, and/or Satan, etc.
For them the Spiritual Life has no meaning because it is empty, totally empty, of materialism, of greed, of money, of self-adulation, of false friends, of worldly power, of paganism, of Satanism, etc.
Such people need our prayers for the Grace of Conversion. Let all who are truly Spiritual look upon such castaways as an "opportunity" to exercise the Virtue of Charity by praying for them, having Masses and Novenas made for such people remembering well that proverb:
"There, but for the Grace of God, go I!"It is good for those who are working on their Spiritual Life to remember what a Holy Saint has written:
Let nothing trouble thee,
Let nothing affright thee,
All things pass away,
God never changes,
Patience obtains everything,
God alone suffices.
Because the Spiritual Life is ultimately based in part upon many of the texts of Sacred Scripture, it is critically important to make certain that one reads only those books on the Spiritual Life which make an exclusive use of only that Bible mandated by the Roman Catholic Council of Trent - the Old Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome - which was translated into English in the 15th Century and is known as the Douay-Rheims Bible.
The term “Vulgate” comes from the phrase versio vulgata (“the version [translation] made public”) in which the adjective “vulgata” refers to the Latin text which was THE authoritative Bible of the Roman Catholic Church. After over 1,000 years of continual use, it was mandated by the Roman Catholic Council of Trent to always be used in the future by the Roman Catholic Church.
Briefly, it was Saint Jerome [b. at Stridon in Dalmatia and Pannonia, c. 340 A.D. - d. at Bethlehem, Palestine, Wednesday, September 30, 420 A.D.] who translated the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and the old “Vetus Latina” versions of the Bible (Old and New Testaments) into the Latin version which became known as the Old Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible.
But what is the big deal about Saint Jerome’s Old Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible?
“....the Biblical knowledge of St. Jerome makes him rank first among ancient exegetes. In the first place, he was very careful as to the sources of his information. He required of the exegete a very extensive knowledge of sacred and profane history, and also of the linguistics and geography of Palestine. ...On the inspiration, the existence of a spiritual meaning, and the freedom of the Bible from error, he holds the Traditional Doctrine.”It should also be noted that Saint Jerome had older copies of the texts of various books of the Bible, especially of the Old Testament. This explains why any “new” editions of the Bible, published well over 1,500 years after the death of Saint Jerome [Wednesday, September 30, 420 A.D.], are to be automatically suspected to be lacking in textual integrity - in Anglo-Saxon English such “new” Bibles are not really written under “Divine Inspiration”!
Saint Jerome “....appeals above all to the principle, that the original text of the Scriptures is the only one inspired and free from error. Therefore one must determine if the text, in which the difficulties arise, has not been altered by the copyist. Moreover, when the writers of the New Testament quoted the Old Testament, they did so not according to the letter but according to the spirit” (“The Catholic Encyclopedia”, Volume VIII, 1910, 1913, Infamy-Lapparent, Jerome, Saint, Characteristics of St. Jerome's work, p. 341, Column 2, # 4; p. 342, Column 1, # 1).
About 40% of the so-called “Dead Sea Scrolls”, which only some scholars claim were written by one of the several different Jewish schismatic sects called the “Essenes”, consist of what seem to be copies of various Hebrew Biblical texts, all of which are in bad condition. Apparently, from the study of these scrolls so far, there is not much of a difference between them and the non-schismatic Hebrew Biblical texts?
Therefore, this is why “new bibles”, written over 1,500 years after the death of Saint Jerome, would suffer because those who have written them would not have had access to the older copies of the texts used by Saint Jerome over 1,500 years ago because of the natural process of decay.
Whether the older copies of the texts were written on paper, parchment, or whatever, they would eventually disintegrate because of the decomposition of the material on which they were written. I do not know of anyone who can read any text which has turned to dust! Yet this seems to be the nonsense those who come out with “new Bibles” infer in their exaggerated claims?!
The bottom line is that it was Saint Jerome’s Old Latin Vulgate which was the Bible which many monks laboriously copied by hand in every Scriptorium for over a millennium. The best English translation of Saint Jerome’s Old Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible is the “Douay-Rheims Bible”.
The Entire English Douay-Rheims Bible (Old and New
Testaments), printed in 1858 at Boston, with the approval of four American
Roman Catholic Bishops, and an English translation of the one paragraph
of “The Decree of the Council of Trent Concerning the Canonical Scriptures”,
Session IV, including a brief “Table of References” at the end, is available
The complete English Rheims New Testament, printed
in 1862, is available free at:
A complete English Rheims New Testament, printed in
1897 is available free at:
Those of you who are interested in the authentic Old
Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome (the so-called “Clementine Vulgate” of
1592, reprinted in 1598 [Biblia Sacra Vulgatae Editionis Sixti Quinti
Pontificis Maximi iussu recognita atque edita] by Pope Clement VIII,
Ippolito Aldobrandini [Thursday, January 30, 1592 - Saturday, March 5,
1605], will find it for free, identified at the top of the page as: “Latin
Vulgate (Clementine)” at:
1. The first is known as the “Sistine Vulgate” edition of the bible by Pope Sixtus V, Felice Peretti [Wednesday, April 24, 1585 - Monday, August 27, 1590]. An examination of the historical records tell us that this “Sistine Vulgate” edition was full of blunders, some two thousand errors, which were introduced by Pope Sixtus V himself!
Warning Concerning Certain Bibles
Avoid not only all non-Catholic editions of the Bible but especially two others.
History claims that it was Robert Cardinal Bellarmine, S.J. [b. Montepulciano, Italy, on Sunday, October 4, 1542 A.D. - d. Rome, Italy, on Friday, September 17, 1621 A.D.], Doctor of the Church, who had advised that the peril which Pope Sixtus V had brought into the Church should be hushed up and kept secret from everyone, as far as this was possible. Cardinal Bellarmine also advised that every copy of the “Sistine Vulgate” edition should be called in and burnt and that a new Bible should be printed as soon as possible making sure that the “Sistine Vulgate” edition would be quickly forgotten.
Thus it was necessary for the successor of Pope Sixtus V, Pope Clement VIII, to immediately order all of the necessary corrections to be made to the “Sistine Vulgate” Bible of Pope Sixtus V. This corrected edition, without the over 2,000 errors of the previous Pope, would, ironically, be published under the name of Sixtus V, with a statement in the Preface that the errors of the “Sistine Vulgate” Bible of Pope Sixtus V had crept in through the fault of the compositors and the carelessness of others. Cardinal Bellarmine himself was commissioned to give circulation to these lies, to which the new Pope gave his name, by composing the Preface.”
2. The so-called “Nova Vulgata”, the Vatican’s official 1979 edition of the Bible in Latin because many of its passages are interpolations. All of these deliberate changes are not part of the Catholic Traditional Bible, the Old Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome, used for over 1,500 years. It was the Old Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome which had been declared to be the only official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church by the Council of Trent.
The sacred and holy, ecumenical, and general Synod of Trent,--lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the Same three legates of the Apostolic Sec presiding therein,--keeping this always in view, that, errors being removed, the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church; which (Gospel), before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the Written Books, and the Unwritten Traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the examples of the Orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament--seeing that one God is the author of both --as also the said Traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ's own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession.
The Fourth Session of the Roman Catholic Council of Trent
Celebrated on the eighth day of the month of April, in the year 1546.
DECREE CONCERNING THE CANONICAL SCRIPTURES
And it has thought it meet that a list of the sacred books be inserted in this Decree, lest a doubt may arise in any one's mind, which are the books that are received by this Synod.
They are as set down here below: of the Old Testament: the five books of Moses, to wit, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Josue, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, the first book of Esdras, and the second which is entitled Nehemias; Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidical Psalter, consisting of a hundred and fifty psalms; the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias, with Baruch; Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, to wit, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of the Machabees, the first and the second.
Of the New Testament: the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the apostle, three of John the apostle, one of the apostle James, one of Jude the apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the apostle.
But if any one receive not, as Sacred and Canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the Old Latin Vulgate edition [of Saint Jerome]; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the Traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.
Let all, therefore, understand, in what order, and
in what manner, the said Synod, after having laid the foundation of the
Confession of faith, will proceed, and what testimonies and authorities
it will mainly use in confirming dogmas, and in restoring morals in the
Church. (Op. Cit.; emphasis added.)
“ANATHEMA then appears as the more solemn form of pronouncing or declaring excommunication” (Rev. P. Chas. Augustine, O.S.B., D.D., A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law, Volume 8, Canons 2255 & 2256, p. 170).
Because this subject matter, in and of itself, is very deep in some areas, some of what follows will probably make more sense as one gradually grows in the Spiritual Life.
This is how the Patron Saint of Catholic Schools puts it:
“Prefer to arrive at knowledge over small streamlets, and do not plunge immediately into the ocean, since progress must go from the easier to the more difficult.... Do not heed by whom a thing is said, but rather what is said. Make an effort thoroughly to understand whatever you read and hear. In all doubt seek to penetrate to the Truth. Try always to store away as much as possible in the chambers of your mind. What is too far above strive not after for the present. If so be you follow these directions you will produce useful flowers and fruits in the vineyard of the Lord of hosts, as long as you live.” (Saint Thomas Aquinas, O.P., [b. 1225 A.D. in Rocca Secca, Naples, Italy - d. Wednesday, March 7, 1274 A.D., in Fossa Nuova, Italy], Doctor of the Church, Letter to Brother John; emphasis added.)Consider, for a moment, how the good God loves you so much that He created you - in other words, there never was and never will be any other person in all of creation exactly like you because you are unique - one of a kind. God created you to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this life so that in the next life you could be happy with Him in Heaven for all eternity. But to get to Heaven, you need to know how to do it and then, in knowing how to do it, to actually do it.
The good God has given all Catholics a “road map”, called Divine Revelation, in which God tells us what we need to do to get to Heaven, e.g. to obey the Ten Commandments, to practice a life of Virtue, to use the Seven Gifts of God the Holy Ghost, to make a proper use of the Spiritual helps which He has provided, including the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Seven Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Penance and the Most Holy Eucharist, etc.
In learning about the Spiritual Life, one discovers that there are three basic levels with a Spiritual purification level between not only the first level (Beginners), and the second level (Proficients, a.k.a. the Illuminative Way), but also between the second level (Proficients, a.k.a. the Illuminative Way), and the third level (Perfect, a.k.a. the Unitive Way).
Needless to say, each of these five levels of the Spiritual Life can have a number of sub-levels, depending on various factors, e.g. one’s Vocation, one’s talents and abilities, one's duties and responsibilities, how well one co-operates with the Graces God gives them, etc.
Three things should always be remembered:
1. It is the good God Who guides each person, whether directly, by His Divine Inspirations and/or His Graces and other Helps, or indirectly, e.g. by another person, or by a book on the Spiritual Life - whether in terms of theory or in terms of practice - or by other Spiritual Reading material, e.g. the Bible, especially the New Testament, or something similar.Some Catholic authors use various terms to designate the Spiritual Life in general, e.g. The Three Ages of the Interior Life (Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.,), The Seven Mansions (Saint Teresa of Avila), etc.
2. It is also God, not the person, Who decides when a person is ready for the next level.
3. Likewise, it is God Who raises up a person to the next level of the Spiritual Life, but only IF that person is ready. This "next-level" is usually a "sub-level", one of the many, many levels within each of the five levels mentioned above.
Each of the classical Catholic authors of the Spiritual Life provide valuable insights into the Spiritual Life:
“To live according to the spirit is to think, speak and act according to the Virtues that are in the spirit, and not according to the sense and sentiments which are in the flesh” (Saint Francis DeSales,[b. at Thorens, in the Duchy of Savoy, August 21, 1567 A.D. - d. at Lyons, France on December 28, 1622 A.D.], Bishop of Geneva, Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, “Letters to Persons in Religion”, 5, 47).Concerning the very critical question: “In what does the sanctification and spiritual perfection of a person consist?” Saint Francis DeSales teaches:
“Some place it in austerity, others in giving to a charity, others in frequenting the Sacraments, others in prayer. But for my part, I know of no other perfection than loving God with all one's heart. Without this love all of the virtues are only a heap of stones.”Others agree, but expand this teaching.
Here are two examples:
In the same way that Virtue is ennobled and perfected by the love of God, “so likewise”, says Rodriguez following Saint John Chrysostom, “the highest, purest and most excellent part of this love is absolute conformity to the Divine Will and having in all things no other will but God’s.”
“Whoever makes a habit of prayer should think only of doing everything to conform his will to God’s. Be assured that In this conformity consists the highest perfection we can attain and those who practice it with the greatest care will be favored by God’s greatest Gifts and will make the quickest progress in the interior [Spiritual] life. Do not imagine there are other secrets. All our good consists in this” (Saint Teresa of Avila, Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada [b. at Avila, Old Castile, Spain on Sunday, March 28, 1515 A.D. - d. at Alba de Tormes on Monday, October 4, 1582 A.D.]).Blessed Stephanie of Soncino, a Dominican Nun, was taken in spirit to Heaven one day where she saw among the Seraphim several persons she had known before their deaths. Having asked why these Souls were raised to such a high degree of glory, she was told that it was because of the conformity and perfect union of their will with God’s Holy Will while they lived on earth.
Therefore, conformity and uniformity to the Divine Will shall raise one while on earth to the highest degree of Grace and on it is founded the highest perfection anyone can attain in this life. Whoever practices entire and complete submission to God’s Holy Will lays up inestimable treasures at every moment and amasses more riches in a few days than others are able to acquire in many years and with great labor. This means that a person must remain indifferent to good fortune or to adversity by accepting all of it from the Hand of God without questioning; not to ask for things to be done as we would like them to be, but rather as God wishes.
A valuable brief summary of this by St. Alphonsus is
So here one has found a “shortcut” to Heaven which various Catholic Saints have practiced over the centuries.
In summary, all of the teachings on the Spiritual Life are synthesized in:
1) the love of God (which presupposes a true knowledge of God as found in Divine Revelation);Exactly how God leads the Soul in Divine Love and how the Soul exercises herself in the Discipline of Love is the subject matter of the great historical works, which were written in previous centuries, on the subject of the Spiritual Life by Holy Catholic Saints.
2) the ultimate effect of this love of God is expressed in one’s total uniformity and conformity to the Divine Will of God.
Despite the weakness of human nature, as the result of Original Sin, by the Grace of God the Soul can soar to the heights of perfection and hold before her (the Soul) the very perfection of God which is to be found in her, i.e. the Soul’s, Supernatural union with God.
Hardback Editions (free text download)
“The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis. This book was originally printed in 1418. It has been the guide of many Catholic Saints, e.g. it was the only Spiritual Reading of Saint Theresa of Lisieux (the Little Flower), who loved it and knew it by heart.
The Imitation of Christ is very practical
and very helpful and very easy to read, to understand, and provides practical
suggestions for one to implement in their Spiritual Life. I strongly
recommend The Imitation of Christ to all Catholics who want
to make real progress in the Spiritual Life because, among other things,
it is very practical. It is at:
The Imitation of Christ can be downloaded in these formats: PDF, EPUB, Kindle, Daisy, etc. PDF seems best to download to one’s computer hard-drive. N.B. This web site has many other good Catholic books to download in PDF file format. Most are free.“Three Ages Of The Interior Life, Prelude of Eternal Life”, by Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., Translated by Sister M. Timothea Doyle, O.P., 2 Volumes, at:
“Practice of Perfection and Christian Virtues” by Father
Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J., translation by Father Joseph Rickaby, S.J.,
In Three Volumes, for free at:
It includes lots of practical suggestions. As a matter of fact, because it gives an important "secret" (something most Catholics do not know) of the Spiritual Life, I have included it as an Appendix near the bottom of this web page.
“The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis, Imprimatur
Patrick Cardinal Hayes, New York, September 14, 1926, reprinted by TAN
Books, 1989 and reprinted by the company that bought out TAN, Saint Benedict
“Three Ages Of The Interior Life, Prelude of Eternal Life”, by Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., Translated by Sister M. Timothea Doyle, O.P., 2 Volumes, reprinted by TAN books, and now by Saint Benedict Press, at: https://www.tanbooks.com/index.php/page/shop:flypage/product_id/564
“The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola”,
“St Gregory writing upon the same subject [Spiritual Reading], says, that the Holy Scripture is like a looking-glass [a mirror], which we ought to set before the eyes of our Soul, to behold our interior; and in which it is very easy to perceive, what good or bad there is within us; and how near to, and how far off we are from perfection.
For sometimes it sets before us the admirable exploits of the Saints, to excite us to imitate them, that the sight of their victories and triumphs, may augment our courage in temptations and sufferings; sometimes it speaks also of their falls, that we may both know, wherein we are to imitate them, and what we ought to take care to avoid.
Sometimes it sets before us the example of Job, whose Virtue increased amidst temptations, as foam does amidst the waves and billows of the sea; sometimes also it represents David to us, who fell at the first attack.
The constancy of the one, helps to strengthen us in the greatest trials; and the frailty of the other, teaches us always to have an humble fear, even in prosperity, and amidst the consolation that Grace brings along with it; and never to presume upon ourselves, or our own strength, but to conduct ourselves always with all precaution imaginable.” (Father Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J., a.k.a. Alonso Rodriguez, S.J. [b. at Valladolid, Spain, in 1526 A.D. - d. at Seville, Spain on Sunday, February 21, 1616 A.D.], “Practice of Perfection and Christian Virtues”, Newly Translated from the Original Spanish by Joseph Rickaby, S.J., In Three Volumes, Volume I, The Fifth Treatise, Chapter XXVIII , Of Spiritual Reading: How Important it is. - How it is to be Done Properly, pp. 327-328; emphasis added).
Many of you most probably have already come upon one or more people who do not know anything about the Spiritual Life. But what is even worse is that, sooner or later, there will be atheists who will try to convince you that God does not exist and that, therefore, living a real Spiritual Life is a waste of time.
I remember when I was going to the local public high school (my small town did not have a Catholic High School, only a Catholic Grade School which was across the street from where my Parents and I lived) one of my classmates tried to prove to me that God does not exist. He told me that because God is almighty and all-powerful (omnipotent) He can do all things. But God can not exist because God does not have the power to create a square circle.
This argument against the existence of God is actually called a “fallacy” and there are many different fallacies. In this case, it is the fallacy known as “a contradiction of terms”. Every word has one or more specific meaning(s). But the words “square” and “circle” do not mean the same thing. His error did nothing to try to prove that God does not exist, but rather it did prove that he was ignorant of the “laws of Truth” and the “errors against the laws of Truth” (these consist of errors, lies, deception, fallacies, etc.).
Bottom line: He was not familiar with the science of correct thinking, a.k.a. the laws of correct thinking, which is to be found in the study of Scholastic Philosophy! Scholastic Philosophy and Thomistic Theology were taught in Roman Catholic Seminaries up through the end of Spring, 1963. Thereafter, they were replaced by the “NEW Philosophy” and the “NEW Theology” of which Pope Pius XII warned all Roman Catholics:
“There is a good deal of talk... about a NEW Theology, which must be in constant transformation...” (Roman Catholic Pope Pius XII, Eugenio Pacelli [Thursday, March 2, 1939 - Thursday, October 9, 1958], L'Osservatore Romano, Thursday, December 19, 1946; emphasis added).
“35. It remains for Us now to speak about those questions which, although they pertain to the positive sciences, are nevertheless more or less connected with the truths of the Christian faith. In fact, not a few insistently demand that the Catholic religion takes these sciences into account as much as possible. This certainly would be praiseworthy in the case of clearly proved facts; but caution must be used when there is rather question of hypotheses, having some sort of scientific foundation, in which the Doctrine contained in Sacred Scripture or in Tradition is involved. If such conjectural opinions are directly or indirectly opposed to the Doctrine revealed by God, then the demand that they be recognized can in no way be admitted” (Roman Catholic Pope Pius XII, Eugenio Pacelli [Thursday, March 2, 1939 - Thursday, October 9, 1958], Encyclical Humani Generis (On Human Origin), Concerning Some False Opinions Threatening to Undermine The Foundations of Catholic Doctrine, Wednesday, April 12, 1950, ¶ 35; emphasis added).This Encyclical had a devastating effect on the work of a number of pre-conciliar theologians according to this Bishop:
“Pope Pius XII's encyclical Humani Generis had.... a devastating effect on the work of a number of pre-conciliar theologians.... theologians and biblical scholars, who had been under a cloud for years, surfaced as periti [theological experts who advised the Bishops] at Vatican II.” (Bishop Aloysius Wycislo [b. at Chicago, Illinois in 1908 - d. in 2005] Vatican Two Revisited; Reflections by One who was there, paperback edition published by Alba House in October, 1987.)
In general, the living of the Spiritual Life is really a way of life, a wonderful Spiritual Habit by which one enters upon a more “tried and tested” way to Heaven, especially those procedures used by various Holy Catholic Saints down through the centuries, including some of their proven and tested “shortcuts” to Heaven. However, people are free to choose only that which has an appeal to them because, although knowledge is important and a pre-requisite in how to do something, ultimately, in actual practice, it is the will which determines what you actually do.
What one actually does depends not only upon one's knowledge of the Truths of the Spiritual Life, but also upon one's motivation to take the proper action required by these Truths.
For example: Above I have written:
There is nothing better to use for a Spiritual Retreat than The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Consider how this Holy Saint writes about taking action brought about by the motivation of eternal punishment. In summary, he explains to his readers that when one is tempted, or exhausted, or frustrated, etc., one should always do NOW that which, when one stands before the Throne of White Light, upon which Jesus Christ, the Just Judge sits, one then will have wished that such a one had done NOW, or, to quote him:
“Third Rule. The third, to consider, as if I were at the point of death, the form and measure which I would then want to have kept in the way of the present election, and regulating myself by that election, let me make my decision in everything.”Not only is this a common-sense practical approach, but also a very strong motivational approach. This is just one example of what makes The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola so absolutely perfect for making a group Retreat as well as a private, personal Retreat which can bring about profound Spiritual changes in one's Spiritual Life in particular and in one's Way of Life Day-to-Day in general.
“Fourth Rule. The fourth, looking and considering how I shall find myself on the Day of Judgment, to think how I would then want to have deliberated about the present matter, and to take now the rule [Commandment; Precept] which I would then wish to have kept, in order that I may then find myself in entire pleasure and joy” (Father Saint Ignatius De Loyola, S.J. [b. at Loyola Castle, Guipuzcoa, Spain in 1491 A.D. - d. at Rome, Italy in 1556 A.D.], The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Translated from the Autograph by Father Elder Mullan, S.J., Imprimatur, John Cardinal Farley, Archiepiscopus Neo-Eboracensis, Neo-Eboraci, Die 25 Aprilis, 1914, publisher P.J. Kenedy & Sons; SECOND WEEK, The Second Way to Make a Good and Sound Election, Third and Fourth Rules; emphasis added).
One of the first things I was taught in the Seminary regarding the actual practice of the Spiritual Life, in addition to how to meditate, was the Spiritual axiom: Virtus stat in medio. Virtue stands in the middle. In other words, Virtue avoids both extremes. Thus, Virtue is balanced. This is a common-sense practice and avoids the tiring daily grind of too many devotions and prayers, but also avoids the Spiritual “black hole” of no devotions and few if any prayers.
Below are some recommended Religious Devotions, in addition to the Mass and the Sacraments which would include weekly Confession and daily Holy Communion if possible.
1) To admonish the sinner.
2) To instruct the ignorant.
3) To counsel the doubtful.
4) To comfort the sorrowful.
5) To bear wrongs patiently.
6) To forgive all injuries.
7) To pray for the living and the dead.
1) To feed the hungry.
2) To give drink to the thirsty.
3) To clothe the naked.
4)To visit the imprisoned.
5) To shelter the homeless.
6) To visit the sick.
7) To bury the dead.
1. Praying to God the Holy Ghost for His Divine Inspirations and Guidance and Helps on a daily basis. I recommend saying the Veni, Sancte Spiritus whenever you need His Divine help and assistance.
2. Wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel who promised she would come to Purgatory every Saturday and take to Heaven those Souls who, in this life, observed Chastity according to their state in life and wore her Brown Scapular 24/7 (this excludes taking a bath or a shower, swimming, etc.) . This applies only to the cloth scapular, not the medal. Details are at: http://www.shrineofsaintjude.net/home1213.html
3. Daily Rosary. The full five decades while meditating on each of the 5 Mysteries for that day. The wonderful 15 Promises for saying the daily Rosary, etc., at: http://www.shrineofsaintjude.net/home-mhr.html
4. God’s Peace Plan without which there will never be peace. http://www.shrineofsaintjude.net/home1341.html
5. First Friday Devotion. Link is at: http://www.shrineofsaintjude.net/home1003.html
6. Saint Jude. Daily Novena. Testimonials are at: http://www.shrineofsaintjude.net/home1552.html
7. Daily Exorcism. For the Laity it is at: http://www.shrineofsaintjude.net/home1663.html
8. Devotion to the Poor, Suffering Souls in Purgatory. http://www.shrineofsaintjude.net/home1601.html
The Spiritual Life is an habitual Way of Life, the rewards of which are Heavenly! But even in this life, one receives many Blessings which one would not ordinarily otherwise receive. Learning how to become one of God’s Favorites is one of the “secrets” of the Spiritual Life of which even those who have made a practice of the Spiritual Life are seldom aware.
I wish each of you well on your pilgrimage in this life as you travel the path to Heaven, hopefully taking a true and tried and proven “shortcut to Heaven”.
It is my hope and prayer that this data will help each of you to better understand and to practice the daily living of the real Spiritual Life and, by the Grace of God and the Inspirations and Guidance of God the Holy Ghost, to recognize the "opportunities" which the good God sends into your life to help to make you more strong, Spiritually.
Realize that it is very good for your Spiritual Health to humbly accept such "opportunities" to "exercise your Spiritual Muscles", whether it be by your need to have recourse to Prayer, including Novenas - especially to Saint Jude, the Holy Rosary, by the exercise of the Theological and Moral Virtues and the Seven Gifts of God the Holy Ghost, by Spiritual Reading, by wearing the Brown Scapular, by your focused attendance at Mass and the worthy reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist.
Ultimately, it is Charity - which is a Supernaturalized love of God - which unites and conforms your will with the Most Holy Will of God which is made known to you in various ways, including Meditation, Contemplation, reading books on the Spiritual Life, etc.
Never give up! Cheerfully and joyfully always advance every day, even if it is but a little. A little progress made everyday will bring with it great rewards, especially when combined with humble acts of supererogation (doing a very tiny, simple, extra thing, which one is not required to do, out of love of God - the Little Flower's "little way" of Sanctity) and self-mortification and offering up everything you do as a prayer, so that you thereby “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Banish depression, fear, confusion, and all negativity by always remaining hopeful, remembering:
The time may be delayed
the manner may be unexpected,
but the answer is sure to come.
Not a tear of sacred sorrow,
not a breath of holy desire
poured out to God
will ever be lost.
But in God’s own time and way
will be wafted back again
in clouds of mercy,
and fall in showers of blessings on you,
and on those for whom you pray.
Thank the good God for your Opportunities to know about and to practice the Spiritual Life because, as one bumper sticker proclaims:
"What right now is a cross to bear, will be in Heaven a Crown to wear!"God Bless You and Keep Up the Good Work!
1. The observance of the Ten Commandments of God.
2. The observance of the Precepts of the Catholic Church.
3. Uniting and conforming your will to the Most Holy Will of God.
4. Assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as frequently as possible.
5. Receiving the Sacraments, i.e. Penance and Holy Eucharist, as frequently as possible.
6. Meditation or Contemplation and reading good books, especially pre-1950, on the Spiritual Life.
7. Being faithful in small things.
8. Practicing self-control or self-discipline and self-denial.
9. Establishing order and regularity.
10. Forming a habit of prayer.
11. Having frequent recourse to solitude.
12. Having a Spiritual Director.
These are general means of perfection because they are suited to everyone in every state and condition of life.
To keep not only the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law. In a positive way, these Commandments can be summarized as two: Love of God and love of your neighbors.
To keep not only their letter, but also their spirit. These are really guidelines to help you remain focused on getting to Heaven which is why each of us is here.
In what does the sanctification and spiritual perfection of a person consist? Saint Frances DeSales says:
“some place it in austerity, others in giving to a charity, others in frequenting the Sacraments, others in prayer. But for my part, I know of no other perfection than loving God with all one's heart. Without this love all of the virtues are only a heap of stones.”In the same way that virtue is ennobled and perfected by the love of God, “so likewise”, says Rodriguez following Patriarch Saint John Chrysostom “the highest, purest and most excellent part of this love is absolute conformity to the Divine Will and having in all things no other will but God's.”
“Whoever makes a habit of prayer should think only of doing everything to conform his will to God's. Be assured that in this conformity consists the highest perfection we can attain and those who practice it with the greatest care will be favored by God's greatest gifts and will make the quickest progress in the interior [Spiritual] life. Do not imagine there are other secrets. All our good consists in this.” (Saint Teresa of Avila, Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada [b. at Avila, Old Castile, Spain on Sunday, March 28, 1515 A.D. - d. at Alba de Tormes on Monday, October 4, 1582 A.D.]).Blessed Stephanie of Soncino, a Dominican Nun, was taken in spirit to Heaven one day where she saw among the Seraphim several persons she had known before their deaths. Having asked why these souls were raised to such a high degree of glory, she was told that it was because of the conformity and perfect union of their will with God's Holy Will while they lived on earth.
Therefore, conformity and uniformity to the Divine Will shall raise one while on earth to the highest degree of Grace and on it is founded the highest perfection anyone can attain in this life.
Whoever practices entire and complete submission to God's Holy Will lays up inestimable treasures at every moment and amasses more riches in a few days than others are able to acquire in many years and with great labor.
This means that a person must remain indifferent to good fortune or to adversity by accepting all of it from the Hand of God without questioning; not to ask for things to be done as we would like them to be, but rather as God wishes.
Patriarch Saint John Chrysostom [b. Antioch, c. 347 A.D. - d. at Commana in Pontus on Friday, September 14, 407 A.D.], Patriarch of Constantinople [Thursday, February 26, 398 A.D. - Thursday, June 24, 404 A.D.], exiled from his See the 2nd time on Thursday, June 24, 404 A.D., is a Father and Doctor of the Catholic Church.
Upon arising, kiss the feet of Christ on a Crucifix and lay it on the pillow, after making the bed, saying:
I freely and joyfully pick up the Cross which Thou hast given me to carry today, O Merciful God. Permit me to carry it today for Thy Greater Honor and Glory so that by this, my Cross, Thy Most Holy Will may be done fully in me and by me. Let not prosperity lift me up nor adversity cast me down.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has tremendous power and value which can really transform your Spiritual Life, most especially IF you are able to assist at Holy Mass daily. Otherwise, it is recommended to make a Spiritual Communion.
Here are a few examples of the wonderful benefits you can obtain from devoutly assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:
1. By devoutly assisting at Holy Mass you render the greatest gratitude and homage possible to the Sacred Humanity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
2. At the hour of your death the Holy Masses at which you have devoutly assisted will be your greatest consolation.
3. Every Mass at which you assist devoutly will go with you to your Judgment and will plead for pardon from the Just Judge for you.
4. By every Holy Mass at which you devoutly assist you can diminish the temporal punishment due to your sins, more or less, according to your personal fervor.
5. Through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Christ supplies for many of your negligences and omissions.
6. Christ forgives you all of the Venial Sins for which you are determined to avoid and for which you are really sorry. He also forgives you all of your unknown sins which you never confessed.
7. Satan's power over you is diminished.
8. By reverently and piously and devoutly assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass you give the Poor, Suffering Souls in Purgatory the greatest relief it is possible to give them.
9. One Holy Mass at which you devoutly assist during your life will be of more value and benefit to you than many Masses offered for you after your death.
10. Through Holy Mass you are preserved from any dangers and misfortunes which otherwise would have befallen you.
11. By every Mass at which you devoutly assisted, you shorten your time in Purgatory.
12. For every Mass at which you devoutly assisted, God will send a Saint to comfort you at your death.
13. During Holy Mass you kneel amid a multitude of Holy Angels, e.g. 3,000 Angels from the Choir of Thrones, who are reverentially present at the Adorable Sacrifice.
14. Through Holy Mass you are blessed in your temporal goods and affairs.
15. When you assist at Holy Mass devoutly, offering it to Almighty God in honor of any particular Angel or Saint, thanking God for the favors bestowed on that Angel or Saint, you afford that Angel or Saint a new degree of honor, joy and happiness in Heaven and also draw the special love and protection of that Angel or Saint on yourself.
16. Every time you devoutly assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, besides other intentions, you should offer it in honor of the Saint of that day according to the Liturgical Calendar.
God instituted the Sacraments as effective means of Sanctifying Grace which is received ex opere operato (automatically).
We say that the Sacraments operate ex opere operato which simply means that the Rite of the Sacrament itself contains the power to confer Grace independently of the meritorious acts of the recipient.
Catholics should have recourse to the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist as frequently as possible because every time each is received worthily, a person receives an increase in Sanctifying Grace as well as the special Grace of that Sacrament so that, as in the case of Penance, it gradually becomes more and more difficult to commit sin!
Catholics should learn how to meditate on or contemplate the Truths of the Holy Faith, on the life of Christ, on the lives of the Saints, especially our Blessed Mother, in order to inflame their hearts to great virtue.
Catholics should also do regular spiritual reading, especially on the Spiritual Life, but also on the New Testament in the Bible, on the lives of those Saints which lived in the same state of life as themselves, devotional works and other good traditional Catholic works to which the Holy Ghost guides them which are not forbidden to be read by the Catholic Church, i.e. those works which could cause any spiritual harm or damage to souls, especially to those who do not know their Holy Faith very well and who can be easily misled, confused, etc.
If a person does not have much time to do this, it can be done in only five or ten minutes; those people who have more time available should take a half hour for mediation and a half hour or more for spiritual reading. This should be done on a daily basis, not just once or twice a week. They key here is at least a few minutes every day.
By faithfulness in small things one obtains greater graces and avoids grave sins more easily. As in the natural order, so in the spiritual, great things come from apparently insignificant things. Catholics should be careful to avoid Venial sins in order to be saved from mortal sins.
Catholics should avoid hurting anyone, telling "little lies", fault-finding, complaining, etc. Whoever “contemneth small things, shall fall by little and little” (Ecclesiasticus 19:1). How small is a seed and yet it may grow up into a great tree!
“He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater; and he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater” (Luke 16:10).Christ promises to reward those who are faithful, saying:
“Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21).
Both self-control and self-denial are acts of mortification: keeping down anger and abstaining even from things which are permitted, but above all avoiding even the least yielding to what is forbidden.
Self-control or self-discipline is the mark of a True Catholic. If we deny ourselves some things which are permitted, we shall find it easier to avoid what is forbidden. Self-control or self-discipline gives us a strong will. Self-denial is the mark of the human being made to the image and likeness of God because an animal never says “No” to itself.
One may deny oneself by avoiding what is not necessary, e.g. a splendid dress, rich food, costly houses and cars, excessive entertainments, curiosity, etc., and, above all, by doing cheerfully whatever duties come and accepting with perfect resignation to God's Holy Will all trials which God sends.
“If anyone will follow Me, let him [her] deny himself [herself], and take up his [her] cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34).
Catholics observe order and regularity by having a fixed time for everything: for rising, retiring, eating, work, recreation, etc.
Depending upon one's personal temperament and family situation, this fixed time may be general or specific, i.e. it may be general so that times are fixed with some flexibility assigning certain projects to morning, noon, afternoon and evening time, or it may be specific, i.e. assigning a specific time for each project.
Of course each day can have its own particular schedule, although some people prefer the same schedule for each day of the week and a more flexible schedule on week-ends. A married couple need to decide together, whenever possible depending on one's circumstances, on their schedule, especially if one Marriage partner prefers to “flow” with a general time framework and the other prefers assigning a specific time to each activity. A workable compromise, with which each party is satisfied, should be able to be reached by the Grace of God and especially by praying for guidance to the Holy Ghost.
We should try to imitate the order which God has placed in the whole universe, regulating everything by law. Recreation is not against the practice of the Spiritual Life, rather, it is a need that God wishes us to satisfy in the proper manner. It should however, not interfere with our duties, or take up too much time.
Prayer helps us to avoid temptations and obtain blessings. We should especially make a habit of ejaculatory prayer which are prayers consisting of one or several words; usually not more than one full sentence at the very most, e.g. Jesus, I trust in Thee; Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for me; O Jesus, it is for your love, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Catholics should sanctify their every action by offering it to God. A good plan is to make a general offering every morning, within one's morning prayers. There are several versions of a prayer usually entitled: THE MORNING OFFERING which helps a person to accomplish this goal. In this way, all we do, whether it is prayer, work, and even sleep, becomes a prayer to God. This is really the only way to fulfill the counsel of Saint Paul to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
O Jesus, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee all of my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of today, in union with every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in reparation for all of my sins and most especially that the Most Holy Trinity will give me each and every one of those things which, from all eternity, the Most Holy Trinity has willed to give me today. In addition, I humbly ask for the Grace of Final Perseverance in the Catholic Faith, and also for my special intentions which are: (here mention them). Amen.
(N.B. By means of this Prayer, you can make everything you do, think, say, write, study, drive, etc. - even the beating of your heart, and even sleeping, a prayer. In this way, you “Pray without ceasing” [1 Thessalonians 5:17].)
Solitude helps us to grow in virtue because it shuts out the noise, hustle and bustle of the world which are distracting. This is why Catholics, especially Husbands and Wives, need to imitate our Lord and to withdraw into solitude, not only to see their faults better and to make practical spiritual plans to overcome them, but also to get closer to God; to speak with God. This should be done daily, if possible, even if only for a few minutes because of family duties and responsibilities.
The length of time one does this will depend upon one's state in life and one's duties and responsibilities. Husbands and Wives, depending on their circumstances, whenever possible need to agree between themselves on this length of time, which should be the same length of time for each of them. They might spend this time in a room all alone in their home with the door closed or outdoors, either in their own yard or in a park or wherever the number and type of distractions are minimized as much as possible.
One can use this time to meditate or contemplate or do spiritual reading or to pray or simply listen to God talk with you or, when necessary, just to rest. Sometimes one may prefer to listen to quiet music or Gregorian Chant or some kind of ecclesiastical music; however there are times that these things can be a distraction.
During this time one may also study, if there is no other time available to do so, various Spiritual works, e.g. Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., entitled The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Prelude of Eternal Life. This important work is a basic explanation of the Spiritual Life and everyone will be able to draw much profit for their own Spiritual Life from it.
If possible, one should try to make a spiritual retreat once a month or at least once every six months, asking God the Holy Ghost to be one's Retreat Master or Retreat Guide - a Spiritual Director in other words.
We recommend using a work entitled The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius which is a practical manual consisting of considerations and meditations to lead to the amendment and sanctification of one's life and of certain practical rules.
The length of time for this retreat can be anywhere from a few hours to twelve hours to twenty four hours or, if possible, for several days, during which time one is totally isolated from the world and one's usual duties and responsibilities and, instead, focused totally on God and on one's Spiritual Life, through the use of total silence, the absence of all distractions, whether family, friends, radio, TV, etc. Such time alone is needed by everyone and married couples need to realize this also and be charitable by mutually permitting their Spouse such opportunities.
But a Spiritual Director is needed not only during a Retreat, but is also needed on a regular daily basis.
Beginning in about my second year in the Seminary, I asked God the Holy Ghost to be my Spiritual Director, even though several of our Priests were excellent Spiritual Directors.
Why did I do this and why have I continued to do this ever since that time?
Because God the Holy Ghost knows the Spiritual State of each person's Immortal Soul much better than any human Spiritual Director, or Guide, or Retreat Master - even much better than the person involved!
In the final analysis, this is really a daily project. It is recommended that one develop the habit of praying to God the Holy Ghost at the beginning of each day, and most especially during those times of the day/night when one needs inspiration, guidance, and/or help.
The Prayer I use, which has worked very well for me ever since I began this daily habit in about the 7th Grade, is the Veni, Sancte Spiritus. It does take a little time to learn to listen for, and to hear, the "whispers" and/or "inspirations" of God the Holy Ghost. In rare instances it is very loud, but usually much more subdued. As one becomes comfortable in doing this, one frequently experiences the certitude which comes with such inspirations or guidance. Also, it should be remembered that the Catholic Church teaches that the body is the Temple of God the Holy Ghost.
These are more or less complete programs which various holy people have used to attain sanctity. Such “systems” or “schools” of sanctity or spirituality are based upon the lives and/or writings of various holy people including Saint Thomas Aquinas, O.P., Saint John of the Cross, Saint Francis De Sales, Saint Ignatius De Loyola, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Benedict, Saint Francis of Assisi, and Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, a.k.a. Saint Theresa of Lisieux, among others.
Some people are usually drawn more strongly to one School of Spirituality than to another as time goes by. However, within the basic framework of the General Means of Spiritual Perfection above, people are free to follow the holy inspirations of God the Holy Ghost in regard to their own Spiritual Life-which is how the various Schools of Spirituality developed and why most probably other Schools of Spirituality will be developed in the future.
Although the Following is For a Group,
Individuals Can Modify to their Own Needs
Reading both parts of the Spiritual Director and the Response
Preparation Before Meditation
Made Before Holy Mass if Possible.
An Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all of my sins, because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all of my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid all of the near occasions of sin. Amen.
Veni Sancte Spiritus
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy Love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of Thy faithful by the light of Thy Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right and ever to rejoice in His Consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Considerations and Prayers
Spiritual Director: Let us raise our minds and hearts to God so that we may make a perfect meditation.
Spiritual Director: Let us first call to mind what we are about to do, and the purpose for which it is to be done.
Response: I am going to speak with God and consider the great affair of my salvation: He being the Lord of Infinite Majesty, and I, a miserable sinner, dust and ashes, and nothingness itself, or rather less than nothingness, because of my sins.
Spiritual Director: Let us incite ourselves to a strong desire to make this meditation one of great profit for us.
Response: Would that I could make this meditation so well and with such great profit as the Saints did, that I might change and transform my spirit, live for Thy Love, O Lord, and die for Thy Love's sake.
Spiritual Director: Let us prepare those resolutions best suited to us, and ask for those Graces of which we stand in greatest need.
Response: Silently consider these things.
Spiritual Director: Let us remember that we are in the presence of God.
Response: O my God, I believe that Thou art present before me, within me, in the midst of my heart, seeing the most secret thoughts of my soul, without my being able to hide them from Thy most pure eyes.
Spiritual Director: Let us adore His Divine Majesty in the deepest humility, and with profoundest love.
Response: I confess, O my God, that I am not worthy to be in Thy Divine Presence, because I am but a miserable sinner. But with confidence in Thy Infinite goodness and mercy, I come to Thee contrite and humble, and I adore Thee with profound humility and reverence. Do not reject me from Thy presence, for I come to Thee as a sick person to his physician in order to be healed, as a sinner to the Holy of Holies to be sanctified, and as a poor beggar to the rich, so that Thou mayest fill me with Thy Divine Gifts.
Spiritual Director: Let us ask of Him the grace to make this meditation fruitful.
Response: I beseech Thee, O Lord, light and grace to make this meditation well and with profit, for Thy glory and my sanctification.
Spiritual Director: Let us implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Guardian Angels, and the Saints of our special veneration.
Response: To this end, I have recourse to thee, O Most Holy Mother and advocate: most glorious Saint Joseph, Saint Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, my Guardian Angel, my Patron Saint ...., and the other Saints of my special veneration (silently mention them) that you deign to intercede for me and obtain this Grace. Amen.
Begin the Meditation.
In addition to the New Testament of the Catholic Bible,
Douay-Rheims Translation of the Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome,
the Four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles on line at:
and the rest of the New Testament - all of the Epistles
and the Apocalypse on line at:
I also suggest and recommend such works as:
“The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis. This book was originally printed in 1418. It has been the guide of many Catholic Saints, e.g. it was the only Spiritual Reading of Saint Theresa of Lisieux (the Little Flower), who loved it and knew it by heart. I strongly recommend The Imitation of Christ to all Catholics who want to make real progress in the Spiritual Life because, among other things, it is very practical. It is at:along with all of the other books listed above at Suggested Reading.
Plus, Uniformity With God's Will by Bishop Saint
Alphonsus De Liguori [b. Marianella, near Naples, Italy on Thursday, September
27, 1696 A.D. - d. Nocera de’ Pagani, Italy on Wednesday, August 1, 1787
A.D.], Bishop of Sant’ Agata dei Goti, Doctor of the Church, which you
will find at:
Another possibility is one of the 15 Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary. These are excellent for meditation as well.
End of the Meditation.
Considerations and Prayers
Spiritual Director: In order to obtain the Graces for which we have asked, let us say with great devotion:
Response: Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Spiritual Director: Let us thank God for all of the benefits granted to us in this meditation.
Response: I give thee thanks, O my God, for having admitted me to Thy Divine communications, for having suffered me in Thy Presence during this meditation, and for every good purpose and resolution which Thou hast deigned to impart to me, for I look upon all of these things as coming from Thee, from Whom all good proceeds.
Spiritual Director: Let us offer Him the resolutions we have made and ask Him the grace to perform them.
Response: I offer Thee my good desires and resolutions silently mention them together with the merits of Thy Son, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, in order that they may be more acceptable and pleasing to Thee, and that Thou mayest protect them against the snares of my enemies.
Spiritual Director: Let us implore the intercession of the Holy Theotokos, of our Guardian Angels, and of the Saints of our special veneration.
Response: To this end, I have recourse to Thee, O Most Holy Mother of God and my advocate, most glorious Saint Joseph, Saint Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Host, my Guardian Angel, my Patron Saint ...., and the other Saints of my special veneration (silently mention them) that you deign to intercede for me and obtain for me this Grace. Amen.
Spiritual Director: Let us resolve to repeat frequently today the words of our spiritual bouquet.
Response: I will repeat often today my spiritual bouquet which is: (silently mention the phrase or sentence you have chosen during your Mediation).
Examination of the Meditation
Read aloud by the Spiritual Director
Did I consider last night the resolutions I should make, the Graces I should seek, and the points of the meditation?
Did I go to sleep with my mind fixed upon it?
Did I, upon awaking, immediately renew the memory of it?
Did I begin it with the determination to make it fruitful in my life?
Did I allow myself to be overcome by sleep?
Did I give way to distractions?
Did I go through the meditation in a thoughtless, careless and heartless way?
Have I been attentive to the reflections made, and have I applied them to the urgent necessities of my soul?
What particular resolutions have I made?
How and when do I intend to perform them?
To this end have I implored the Divine favor, and prayed for my needs and those of others, especially my family?
What important thought do I wish to remember throughout the day?
If we have engaged in this Meditation in harmony with God's Will, let us thank Him. But, should we have been negligent, let us beg pardon of Him and resolve to amend our ways.
In order to obtain the Grace of perseverance in our resolutions, let us say:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Response: O my Lady, my Mother, behold thy Son/Daughter. Remember that I am wholly thine. Keep and defend me as thy very own Son/Daughter. Amen.
Response: Mother, behold thy Son/Daughter. Amen.
It is recommended that you receive the Sacrament of Penance before Holy Mass, even if you are not conscious of any sin(s), since each time it is received, it strengthens one to avoid sin in the future by more easily overcoming temptations so that it literally becomes harder and harder to sin the more frequently and devoutly one receives the Holy Sacrament of Penance!
1. Another considerable reason why we should make account of little things is that, if we are careless and negligent in little things and take small heed thereof, it is to be feared that God will refuse us His particular and special aids and Graces which we stand in need of to resist temptations and not fall into sin and to obtain the virtue and perfection which we desire; and so we come to great harm.
2. The better to understand this, we must presuppose a very good piece of theology taught us by Saint Paul when writing to the Corinthians--that God our Lord never refused to anyone that supernatural assistance and succor whereby, if he will, he will not be overcome by temptation but be able to resist and come out victorious. God is faithful, Who will not permit you to be tempted above your strength, but will give you such aid in temptation as that you may be able to suffer it with advantage (I Cor. 10:13). God is faithful, say the Apostle; you may rest assured that He will not permit you to be tempted more than you are able to bear; and if He adds more trials and there come greater temptations, He will also add more succor and bounty that you may be able to come out of them, not only without loss, but with much profit and increase of good. But there is another aid and succor of God more special and particular. Man could resist and overcome temptation without this special aid if he availed himself as he ought of the first supernatural assistance, which is more general. But, oftentimes, with that first aid man will not resist temptation unless God give him that other aid more particular and special. Not that he could not, but that he will not; for if he willed, he might well resist with that first aid, since it is sufficient for the purpose if he would make the use of it that he ought. In that case his falling and being overcome by temptation will be his own fault, since it will be by his own will. And if God gave him then that other special assistance, he would not fall.
3. But to come to our point. This second aid and special superabundant and efficacious succor is not given by God to all, nor on all occasions, since it is a liberality and a most particular grace of His own bestowal; and so God will give it to whom He pleases; He will give it to those who have been liberal with Him. So the prophet says: With the holy, Lord, Thou wilt be holy; and with the benign, benign; and with the liberal and sincere, Thou wilt be sincere and liberal; and with him that shall not be such, Thou wilt pay him in the same coin (Psalm 17:26-27). This is what our Father puts in his Rules: “The closer one shall bind himself to God our Lord, and the more liberal he shall show himself to His Divine Majesty, the more liberal he will find God to him; and the better shall he be disposed to receive every day greater graces and spiritual gifts.” This is the doctrine of Saint Gregory Nazianzen and other Saints.
4. What it is to be liberal to God may be well understood from what it is to be liberal to men. In this world to be liberal to another is to give him, not his due and bonded right, but more than his due and bonded right. That is liberality; the other is not liberality, but justice and obligation. Now in the same manner, he who is very careful and diligent to please God, not only in matters of obligation, but also in those ofsupererogation and perfection, and not only in greater, but also in lesser things, he is liberal to God. Now to them that are thus liberal, God also is very liberal. These are God’s favorites to whom He shows His bounties; to these He gives not only those general aids which are sufficient to resist and overcome temptations, but also those special and superabundant and efficacious aids wherewith they will nowise fall when they are tempted.
5. But if you are not liberal to God, how can you expect God to be liberal to you? If you are niggardly [N.B.: This is an adjective, not a noun! This is how Father Joseph Rickaby, S.J. literally translated this book from the original Spanish into English. This is NOT my translation.] with God, you deserve that God should be niggardly with you. If you are so mean and close as to go sounding and measuring as with rule and compass--“Am I bound or not bound? Am I bound under sin or not bound under sin? Does it amount to a mortal sin or to no more than a venial?” --all this is being niggardly with God, since you want to give Him no more than you are obliged, and even in that possibly you fail. God then will be niggardly with you and give you no more than He is obliged by His word; He will give you those general and necessary aids which He gives to all, which are enough and sufficient to enable you to resist temptations and not fall in them; but you will have much reason to fear that He will not give you that special superabundant and efficacious aid which He is wont to give to such as are liberal to Him; and so you will come to be vanquished by temptation and fall into sin.
6. This is what theologians and saints commonly say, that one sin is often the punishment of another sin. That is to be understood in this way, that by the first sin a man loses, as punishment of his sin, all claim to that special and particular aid of God, and renders himself unworthy of it; and so he comes to fall into a second sin. They say the same of venial sins, and further of faults and negligences and general carelessness of life; for this also they say that a man may lose all claim and render himself unworthy of that special and efficacious assistance of God with which he will persevere and actually overcome temptation, and without which he will be overcome and fall into sin. So some saints explain the words of the Wise Man: He that despiseth small things, shall fall little by little (Ecclus. 19:1). By despising small things and making little account of them one comes to render oneself unworthy of that special assistance of God, and so one comes to fall into great faults. In like manner is to be understood the saying of the Apocalypse (3:16): Because thou art tepid, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. God has not yet vomited and thrown up entirely the tepid man, but He has begun to vomit and throw him up because by this negligence in which he lives, and these faults which he commits with advertence and of set purpose, he goes the way to make himself undeserving of that special and efficacious aid without which he will fall; and God will end by vomiting and throwing him up.
7. Let us consider how much reason we have to fear lest we should lose all claim and render ourselves unworthy of this special aid of God through our tepidity and sloth. How often do we see ourselves assailed with temptations and in great danger, and many times we find ourselves in doubt--“Did I dwell on it or not? Did I consent or not? Did it amount to a sin or not?” Oh, how well it would be worth our while for those critical moments to have been liberal to God and so made ourselves worthy of that special and liberal aid of grace whereby we should be quite secure of always keeping our footing, and without which we shall be in great danger and possibly be overcome!
8. Saint Chrysostom assigns this means as one of the chief that we have for overcoming temptations. Speaking of the devil, our enemy, and of the continual war that he wages against us, he says: “You know well, my brethren, that we have in the devil a perpetual enemy who is always making war upon us, who never sleeps nor relaxes his efforts: you can have no truce with that cruel monster. So it is necessary always to be very wide-awake and very careful and watchful not to be overcome by him.” How, then, shall we stand on our guard and prepare ourselves well not to be overcome, but always to get the better of this traitor and keep him under? Do you know how? Saint Chrysostom says: “The only means to overcome him is to have gained beforehand this special assistance of God by our good life in the past. In this way we shall be always victorious, and in no other.” Notice the expression, “in no other”. Saint Basil makes the same observation in these words: “He who wishes to be helped by the Lord never ceases doing what lies with him to do. He who does this is never left destitute of the divine assistance;” wherefore, he concludes: “We must make it our effort that our conscience shall not reproach us in anything.” A sound conclusion is that we must be very careful in our spiritual exercises and in all our works to be worthy of this special aid from Heaven.
9. Hence it will be seen how important it is to make much account of small things--if we can call those things small which bring us in so much good or so much harm. He who feareth God, neglecteth nothing (Eccles. 7:19), because he knows full well that out of small things neglected one comes little by little to fail in greater; and he fears that, if he ceases to be liberal with God in these things, God will cease to be liberal with him.
10. In conclusion I say that this matter is so important, and we should make so much account of it, that we may take it as a general rule that, so long as a man makes much of little and minute things, all will go well, and the Lord will befriend him; and on the contrary, when he ceases to reckon much of little and minute things, he will incur great danger, because it is in this way that all evil enters into a religious. This Jesus Christ gives us to understand, saying: He that is faithful in what is little, will be faithful also in what is much; and he that is unfaithful and evil in what is little, will be the like in what is much (Luke 16:10). And therefore when one wishes to see how one is getting on in spiritual progress--and it is reasonable that we should often make reflection thereupon--let him examine himself by this and see whether he makes account of little things or whether he is getting into free and easy ways by taking small heed of them; and if he sees that now he does not trouble himself about small matters, nor does his conscience reproach him thereon as it used to do, let him look for a remedy with all care. The devil, says Saint Basil, when he sees that he cannot drive us out of Religion, applies all his powers to persuade us not to give ourselves to perfection, and not to make account of small matters, deceiving us by a false assurance that one does not lose God for that. But we, on the contrary, should make it our effort that as he cannot drive us out of Religion, so neither shall he hinder our perfection; but we will apply ourselves thereto with all our strength, setting much store by little and minute things. (“Practice of Perfection and Christian Virtues” by Father Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J., [b. at Valladolid, Spain, in 1526 A.D. - d. at Seville, Spain on Sunday, February 21, 1616 A.D.], Newly Translated from the Original Spanish by Joseph Rickaby, S.J., Volume I, Chapter X, Another Weighty Reason for Setting Great Store by Little Things; emphasis added.)
1) This Cross is a reminder of the Form used in the Administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation:
“Signo te Signo Crucis, et Confirmo te Chrismate Salutis. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.”2) It also represents the Sign of the Cross accompanied by the words: “In hoc signo vinces” - “In this sign, conquer.”
“I Sign thee with the Sign of the Cross, and I Confirm thee with the Chrism of Salvation. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
This was what Constantine the Great
[b. at Naissus, now Nisch in Servia sometime between 274 A.D. - 288 A.D. - d. after being Baptized by the heretical Arian Bishop, Eusebius of Nicomedia, in Nicomedia at the Villa Aquilo in May, 337 A.D.], Roman Emperor [proclaimed Caesar by his troops on Wednesday, July 25, 306 A.D. - May, 337 A.D.]had seen in a vision at Saxa Rubra. Because of this, he had his soldiers make a cross on their armor and shields.
This resulted in his great victory in the battle of the Milvian Bridge against Maxentius in 311 A.D. As a result of this victory, the Edict of Toleration of 311 A.D., was signed by the Roman Emperor Galerius [305 A.D. - 311 A.D.] on his death-bed, and signed by the other two Triumvirate Emperors, Constantine I, a.k.a. Constantine the Great [306 A.D. - 337 A.D.] and Licinius [308 A.D. - 324 A.D.].
But most especially, the Edict of Milan of March, 313 A.D., signed by the co-Emperors Constantine I, a.k.a. Constantine the Great [306 A.D. - 337 A.D.] and Licinius [308 A.D. - 324 A.D.], whom Constantine I later defeated in 323 A.D., thereupon become the sole emperor, ended most of the bloody persecutions against the Catholic Church.
This fact became more official in 324 A.D. when Constantine declared for the Catholic Church. This is part of the historical basis for the liturgical and Religious Prayer/Devotion known as The Sign of the Cross.
J.M.J. - Jesus, Mary, Joseph.
A.M.D.G. - Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam. For the Greater Honor and Glory of God. Motto of Saint Ignatius DeLoyola, S.J. [b. at Loyola Castle, Guipuzcoa, Spain in 1491 A.D. - d. at Rome, Italy in 1556 A.D.].
F.V.T. - Fiat voluntas tua. “Be it done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). This is an act of uniting and conforming one’s will with the Holy Will of God.
Please Click Here for the
Holy Rosary Web Page
|Our Blessed Mother asks that all Catholics Pray her
Traditional Rosary daily.
The Rosary will really make a Powerful difference in Your Life!
“Now the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing; that you may abound in Hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).
“Now Faith is the substance of things to be Hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not” (Hebrews 11:1).
Thank you for stopping by to visit the Shrine of Saint Jude web site. You are welcome to visit us again, as often as you like.
If you like our newly redesigned and improved web site, please share this information with others and help them to know more about how powerful Saint Jude really is and that God still works "miracles" today!
Have a Wonderful Day!
God Bless You!