A Year with the Saints – 9 September


After our affections have been moved in prayer, we need not multiply considerations, but stop a little and dwell upon those already made; then, from time to time, say to Our Lord some word of compunction, love or resignation, according as we feel ourselves inclined. This is the best kind of prayer. Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

Saint Cyril of Alexandria made this clear and plain by a comparison. “Meditation,” said the Saint, “is like striking the flint with the steel to draw out a spark; but when the spark has come and lighted the tinder, we lay aside the steel. So, by considerations and the use of the intellect, we strike the hard rock of our heart, until we kindle in it the love of God, and the desire of humility, mortification, or some other virtue; and when this is come, we rest upon it, and seek to establish ourselves in it firmly. This is certainly a better and more useful prayer than if we should make very lofty and far-fetched considerations and arguments.” It was in this way that the Saint, and all others who have profited by prayer, conducted it.

This truth was well understood by a good servant of God, who in his prayer, which was generally upon Our Lord’s Passion, did not go very fully into speculations and reasonings. But after representing to his mind the mystery upon which he was to meditate as soon as he felt any affection such as love or gratitude towards God or sorrow for having offended Him, with the intention to offend Him no more, or perhaps a desire to imitate Christ in humility or suffering, or any similar affection – he rested upon it, and endeavored to warm and cherish it in his heart. When he perceived that it was growing cool, he tried to enkindle it again with the whole or a part of the consideration which had lighted it up at first, saying: “What a great suffering was this! Who endured it? The Son of God – the Son of God! And for Whom did He endure it? For me; and the Son of God endured to suffer so much for me! And I cannot endure to suffer a word, a little slight, for love of Him! How much has Jesus Christ done for me! and I never cease offending Him! Where are my ordinary human feelings! Ah, how sorry I am that I have grieved my God in this way! Surely I will offend Him no more! Behold, how much my good God has loved me! and I do not love Him, Who loved me so much! Ah yes, I mean to love this God, Who loves me so much!” So he continued dwelling on these affections and bringing them up afresh, and in this way became a man of great perfection.

MLA Citation