X - INTERIOR AND LITURGICAL LIFE

Posted by Padre Eugenio Cavallari on 28 June 2018

 a)    Prayer

 Praise 

1- The highest deed of man is only to praise God… May your deed be the praise of God, may your heart utter a good word of praise (en. Ps. 44, 9)

2 - Praise the Wisdom by your life, not by making your voice heard, but by agreeing (s. 311, 4, 4) - You cease praising God when you get far from righteousness and from what He likes. Brethren, when you praise God, praise with all your beings. May your voices sing, may your lives sing, may your works sing (en. Ps. 148, 2)

3 - Nobody praises someone without loving him. If you remove love from the heart, all that remains is falsehood (s. 365, 1)

4 - Your works praise You so that we may love You, and we love You so that your works may praise You (conf. 13, 33, 48)

5 - Let my soul praise You, that it may love You; and let it confess Your mercies to You, that it may praise You. Your whole creation does not cease, nor is it silent in Your praises -neither the spirit of man, by the voice directed to You, nor animal nor corporeal things, by the voice of those who contemplate them-; so that our souls may arise from their weariness towards You, leaning on those things which You have made, and passing on to You, who have made them wonderfully. And there is there refreshment and true strength (conf. 5, 1, 1)

6 - The greatest praise is the one of the only-begotten Son of God (en. Ps. 108, 2) - Will you be able to make the praise of God more perfect? If that praise is already entire, what will you add? God is praised in all creatures, in all His good works, in all His deeds of salvation. In spite of this He was not yet praised for having revived the flesh to eternal life. The praise to be added consists therefore in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is such a praise that surpasses all the passed ones (en. Ps. 70, s. 1, 15)

7 - I dare to say that, in order to be praised well by man, He Himself has sung His praise, and, in this way, man has found how to praise Him, since God deemed it worthy to praise Himself (en. Ps. 144, 1)

8 - In what sense the created universe praises God? It does so inasmuch as you, by admiring the creatures and by finding them beautiful, in them praise God. The beauty of the earth is like a silent voice that rises from the earth. You meditate on it and see its beauty, fecundity and resources. You observe all and, in a way, you ask it questions. Full of wonder, while examining thoroughly, you discover its great power, beauty and vigour. Since it cannot have this vigour in itself and from itself, immediately the thought comes to your mind that it comes from the Creator. In this way you have discovered in the creatures a voice confessing Him, so that you may praise the Creator. Is it not true that, if you consider the beauty of the universe, the beauty of it answers you with one voice: ‘I have not made myself, but God made me’? (en. Ps. 144, 13)

9 - The Lord is praised forever, inasmuch as His love endures forever (en. Ps. 110, 9)

10 - In the hidden and profound judgements of God there is something that shuts up the mouths of the righteous too, so that they may not praise themselves, but only be able to praise God. Who, however, will be able to examine, to investigate, to know this ‘something’? (spir. et litt. 36, 66)

11 - ‘Alleluia” means ‘praise the Lord’. Therefore come, let us praise together the Lord! If you praise the Lord and I praise the Lord, why should we be in disagreement? Charity praises the Lord, discord blasphemes Him (en. Ps. 149, 2)

12 - I suggest you a means by which you might praise God all day. Do everything you do well, and, at the end, you will have praised God. In the integrity of your works prepare yourself to praise God all day (en. Ps. 34, s. 2, 16)

13 - In His beauty He wants to please you; you have to praise Him by giving Him thanks. If you are not busy about praising God by your works, you start to love yourself. May you displease yourself, may the One who made you please you, because, in this way, you will be displeased by what you have done (en. Ps. 44, 9)

14 - When you praise God, even without explaining what you want, your thoughts expand towards the inner realities, and this expansion itself makes you more able to welcome the One you praise (en. Ps. 145, 4)

15 - After reaching the house of God, which is in heaven, we shall not praise only for fifty days, but forever and ever. We shall see, we shall love, we shall praise. Everything will be eternal, without end (s. 254, 8)

16 - The praise of God in the blessed will be the exhalation of their satiety, because He is the food of the heart (en. Ps. 21, s. 1, 27)

17 - Be grateful. You were outside and now you are inside. No one was seeking the Lord any longer, and so the Lord Himself sought those who were not seeking Him. Now we know Him deeply and we praise Him. Since we cannot repay Him, let us -at least- thank Him! (en. Ps. 134, 2)

18 - Praise God in you, not yourself: not because you are so and so, but because He has made you; not because you can do something, but because, in you and through you, He can (en. Ps. 144, 7)

 Desire 

1 - One thing is earthly life, another heavenly life. If you decide not to live any longer like a beast, you start to desire what you do not possess yet: by your desire you have started to live the life of angels (Io. ev. tr. 18, 7)

2 - Being exiled from the immutable joy, we are nevertheless not so separated from it as to renounce seeking eternity, truth and blessedness, even in this world of ephemeral and changeable things. We indeed do not wish to die, or to err, or to be unquiet (trin. 1, 1-2)

3 - The whole life of a Christian is a holy desire. What you desire, you don’t see it yet, but, by desiring, you make yourself able to be filled with it when the time of vision comes. By letting us wait, God intensifies our desire and, together with the desire, He dilates our souls and, by dilating them, He makes them more capacious. Our life is an exercise of desire. The more we eradicate the roots of vanity from our desires, the more our holy desire will be effective (Io. ep. tr. 4, 6 )

4 - The desire God has of our good surpasses our desire itself. He is wiser than we are and He knows better than we do what is profitable to us, He knows better than we do what happens in us (s. suppl. 4, 5) - God does not mind what you possess, but what you desire (s. suppl. 5, 11)

5 - The Spirit groans because He makes us groan by arousing in us, through love, the desire of the future life (exp. prop. Rom. 46)

6 - Your desires are contradictory: you want to walk, but you don’t want to arrive (s. 108, 3) - Laborious plenty, copious poverty, desire multiplied by the unstable multiplicity of temporal beauties, which lacerate man, who is taken away from the unity with God by means of the senses of the flesh and pursues now one thing now another, without anything remaining with him (vera rel. 21, 41)

7 - ‘You shall not covet’ and ‘you shall love’. The first of these precepts is about not coveting, or not desiring, (non concupisces), the second one is about loving (diliges); the first is about continence, the second about righteousness. The first one commands to abandon evil, the second one commands to do good. By not coveting or desiring we put off the old man; by loving we put on the new man (perf. iust. 5, 11)

8 - We all would not be able to desire, by natural instinct, to be immortal and happy, unless this was possible (c. Iul. 4, 3, 19)

9 - Your ardent desires are like invisible hands with which you knock at an invisible door, so that invisibly it may be opened to you and invisibly you may enter and invisibly be healed (en. Ps. 103, s. 1, 1)

10 - Desire always prays, even if the tongue is silent. If you always desire, you always pray. When does prayer drowse? When desire grows cold (s. 80, 7)

11 - Desire is the inner prayer without interruption. Whatever you do, if you desire that Sabbath of eternal life, you never cease to pray… Your continuous desire will be your continuous voice. You will be silent if you cease to love. The coldness of love is the silence of the heart, the burning of love is the cry of the heart… If inside you there is the desire, there is also the groan, which not always reaches the ears of men, but never is far from the ears of God (en. Ps. 37, 14) - Our Sabbath is in the innermost of the heart. Whoever has a quiet conscience is at rest, and this is the Sabbath of the heart (en. Ps. 91, 2) 

12 - We pray always by uninterrupted desire coming from faith, hope and charity. But, at certain stated hours and occasions, we also use words in prayer to God, so that, by those signs of things, we may admonish ourselves and may be aware of the measure of progress which we have made in this desire, and may more warmly excite ourselves to increase its strength. Talking a lot is one thing, intimate and lasting desire is another (ep. 130, 9-10) 

13 - In the heart there is a heavenly altar, and nobody can touch that altar unless he washes his hands among the innocent. There, where you offer gifts to the Lord, where you pour forth your prayers, where your conscience is pure, where you say to God who you are (en. Ps. 25, s. 2, 10)

14 - We have a teacher within, Christ. Whatever you are not able to understand because of the shortcomings of your intelligence or of my words, turn in your heart to Him who knows what to give, and to whom to give. He will help the one who seeks, and open to the one who knocks. And if it happens that it does not give, let no one call himself forsaken. For it may be that He delays to give something, but He leaves no one hungry. If, indeed, He does not give immediately, He is exercising the seeker, He is not despising the requester (Io. ev. tr. 20, 3)

15 - Christ prays for us as our Priest, prays in us as our Head, is prayed by us as our God. Let us therefore recognize our voice in Him and His voice in us (en. Ps. 85, 1)

16 - Neither do I say any true thing to men which You have not first heard from me, nor do You hear any such thing from me which You have not first said to me (conf. 10, 2, 2)

17 - We must stimulate our desire whenever we fall back into our usual material thoughts, so that our desire itself may be the best cure (Io. ev. tr. 18, 11) - Let us dilate ourselves by the desire of God, so that, when He comes, He may fill us (Io. ep. tr. 4, 6)

18 - The whole life of true Christians is about this: ‘Lift up your hearts’; they hope in God, not in themselves. Had He not lifted up our hearts, we would be lying on the ground (s. 229, 3)

 b)  Liturgy

 The liturgical year 

1 - In the life of the Lord Jesus there is something transitory, bound to pass away, and something bound to remain. Transitory is the giving birth of the virgin, the incarnation of the Word, the succession of His ages, the miracles, the sufferings and the passion, the death, the resurrection, the ascension into Heaven. These actions belong to the Son of David. On the contrary, the light of salvation that we receive from the Lord of David is steadfast (en. Ps. 109, 5)

2 - In relation to this transitory economy of salvation, by which Christ has called us to eternity through the mediation of His flesh, His kingdom starts from the Christians and this kingdom of His will never end (en. Ps. 109, 10) 

3 - When, as catechumens, you were being held back, you were being stored in the barn. You gave your names; then you began to be ground by fasts and exorcisms. Afterward you came to the water, and you were moistened into dough, and made into one. With the application of the heat of the Holy Spirit you were baked, and made into the Lord's loaf of bread. This is what you have received. So just as you can see that what has been made is one, be one yourselves too in the same way, by loving each other, by holding one and the same faith, one and the same hope, an undivided charity (s. 229, 1-2)

 Liturgical actions 

1 - To Him we owe the service which is called in Greek ‘latria’, whether we render it in liturgical rites or in ourselves; for we are all His temple together, and individually each one is His temple, because He condescends to inhabit the whole harmonious body and each individually, being no greater in all than in each, since He is neither expanded nor divided. Our heart, when it rises to Him, is His altar; the priest who intercedes for us is His only-begotten; we sacrifice to Him bleeding victims when we contend for His truth even unto blood; to Him we offer the sweetest incense when we come before Him burning with pious and holy love; to Him we devote and surrender His gifts in us and ourselves; to Him, by solemn feasts and on appointed days, we consecrate the memory of His benefits, lest through the lapse of time ungrateful oblivion should steal upon us; to Him we offer on the altar of our heart the sacrifice of humility and praise, kindled by the fire of love. It is in order for us to see Him and adhere to Him, that we are cleansed from all stain of sins and evil passions and are consecrated in His name (civ. 10, 3, 2)

2 - In the Church those who attend the liturgical celebrations, if they attend well, become the bride. For every celebration is a celebration of marriage: the feast of the Church’s wedding… It is manifest that Christ suffered, rose again from the dead and ascended into heaven: also the Church has been made manifest, because, in His name, repentance and remission of sins is preached throughout all nations (Io. ep. tr. 2, 2)

 The mass 

1 - What sacrifice of praise is holier than the giving of thanks? And in what way can we give thanks to God better for His grace through our Lord Jesus Christ? And the faithful recognize all this in the sacrifice of the Church, sacrifice of which all ancient sacrifices were only a shadow (c. adv. leg. 1, 18, 37)

2 - Four things are to be considered in every sacrifice: to whom it is offered, by whom it is offered, what is offered, for whom it is offered. All this is in the same one and true Mediator Himself, who reconciles us to God by the sacrifice of peace, remains one with Him to whom He offered, makes those one in Himself for whom He offered, while being Himself both the offerer and the offering (trin. 4, 14, 19) 

3 - The Body and Blood of Christ becomes present through the word. Remove the word and it is bread and wine, add the word and it becomes another thing (s. 229, 3)

4 - ‘One loaf’, he said. If you count the words, it is short; if you weigh them, it is a great thing. However many loaves may be placed there, it is one loaf, however many loaves there may be on Christ's altars throughout the world, it is one loaf. But what does ‘one loaf’ mean? He explained very briefly: ‘Although we are many, we are one body’ (1 Cor 10:17). This bread is that body of Christ about which the Apostle talks, which is the Church. What you receive is what you yourselves are, thanks to the grace by which you have been redeemed; and when you answer ‘amen’, you add your signature to this. What you see here is the sacrament of unity (s. 229/A, 1)

5 - Whoever you are, if you are really a Christian, if you do not enter a church without any reason, if you have learned how to listen to God’s word with fear and hope, the breaking of the bread will be your consolation. The absence of the Lord is not an absence. Have faith, and the one you do not see is with you. Learn where you must seek the Lord, where you can possess Him, where you may recognize Him: when you eat Him (s. 235, 3)

 The liturgy of the hours 

1 - It is difficult not to find in Psalms words that do not refer to Christ or to the Church. Sometimes only to Christ, sometimes only to the Church, which -in part- we constitute. Since we recognize our own voice in the words of the Psalm, we cannot remain without emotion; on the contrary, the more we feel that we are part of that voice, the more we rejoice (en. Ps. 59, 1)

2 - When we approach the Psalms, we do not usually pay attention only to the literal meaning, but, like in every prophecy, through the letter we want to penetrate the mysteries (en. Ps. 131, 2)

3 - When in the Psalms the psalmist seems to wish many evils to his enemies, he does not imprecate, but prophetically foresees (s. 56, 3, 3)

 The Creed 

1 - Learn, recite every day, repeat to the Lord the Symbol of the Faith. It recalls your faith to your mind; examine yourself: may your Symbol be like a mirror. Faith itself will be a tunic to avoid shame and a cuirass to be defended against adversities. The reward of this faith will be the vision of God (s. 58, 11, 13)

2 - In it all that must be believed for eternal salvation is contained… If you want to understand, believe; if you do not believe, you will not be able to understand. Based on this faith, hope the grace by which all your sins will be forgiven (s. 212, 1)

3 - To have a spirit faithful to God is this: to believe that one’s spirit cannot be righteous without God, but only with God. And this is also to believe in God, which certainly is more than to believe to God. This means to be united with God through faith, in order to collaborate with Him, who does good things in us (en. Ps. 77, 8)

 The ‘Our Father’ 

1 - The ‘Our Father’ is the perfect expression and the rule to which we must conform our desires (s. 56, 3, 4) - It is the daily prayer of our salvation (en. Ps. 103, s. 1, 3)

2 - If you inspect all the words of prayer that are in the Sacred Scriptures, in my opinion, you will not find a single one which may not be contained and summarized in this prayer that the Lord taught us (ep. 130, 12, 22)

3 - Hallowed be your name. We pray that God’s name be holy also for the people for whom it is not yet such, because they are not yet faithful… We pray for those who every day assert that God is not good and that He does not judge correctly (en. Ps. 103, s. 1. 3)

4 - Your kingdom come. God has an eternal kingdom. But when will God’s hour be? And the last hour? The day is long and, in proportion, an hour is long… Let us be awake now, once dead we shall sleep; at the end we shall rise and reign without end (s. 57, 5, 5)

5 - Your will be done. When there shall no longer be conflicts on earth or wars in the hearts… when all the concupiscence shall be transformed into charity and nothing in us shall anymore need to be curbed or spurred, but everything shall harmoniously converge toward justice, then Your will shall be done both in heaven and on earth. When we pray this, we aim to perfection (s. 56, 5, 8)

6 - Give us our bread. Give us eternal goods, give also temporal goods… In this moment and in all moments of life… Your Word and the Sacrament of the altar, whose proper effect is to produce unity (s. 57, 7, 7) - With this petition you confess that you are a beggar of God (s. 56, 6, 9)

7 - Forgive us our debts. The forgiveness of sins must be given every day lest anger, by growing old, become hatred. Cleanse every day God’s house, which is your heart, because you cannot live without debts on this earth (s. 58, 7, 8)

8 - Lead us not into temptation. Do not fear any enemy outside. Conquer yourself and you will have conquered the world (s. 57, 9, 9) - Temptations take place through Satan, not by his power, but by the Lord’s permission, either for the purpose of punishing men because of their sins or for the purpose of testing and exercising them in accordance with the Lord’s compassion (s. dom. m. 2, 9, 34)

9 - Deliver us from evil. One thing, my brethren, is true, certain, established: if God frees you from yourself, since you are evil, nobody will harm you anymore, no matter how evil he is (s. 297, 6, 9)

10 - This petition, which is the last one in the Lord's Prayer, is so comprehensive, that a Christian, in whatever affliction may he be placed, can -in using it- utter groans, shed tears, from here can he begin his prayer, here linger, with it conclude it. For it was necessary that the things themselves should be entrusted to our memory by means of these words (ep. 130, 11, 21)

 c) Mysticism

 Seeking-finding

1 - May Christ be for us everything we desire here without Him, that is to say, all things by desiring which mostly we sin against Him (s. 334, 3)

2 - Inquiry is the desire of finding, or of discovering. But those things that are discovered are, in a way, brought forth, so they are like offspring. The same happens in the process of knowledge. The desire that is in seeking proceeds from him who seeks, and is, in some way, in suspense, and does not rest in the end to which it is directed, unless what is sought is found and joined with him who seeks. And such a desire, that is, such an inquiry, although it does not seem to be love -because what is known is loved, while, in this case, we are still striving to know- yet it is something of the same kind. It can indeed be called will, since everyone who seeks wills to find; and if what is sought belongs to knowledge, everyone who seeks wills to know. And if he wills ardently and earnestly, it is said that he studies. The bringing forth of the mind is, therefore, preceded by some desire, through which we seek and find what we wish to know. And the same desire, which makes us long for the knowing of the thing, becomes the love of the thing once it is known, while it holds and embraces its desired offspring, which is knowledge, and unites it to its begetter (trin. 9, 12, 18)

3 - We feel something mysterious within us, moving us toward that source from which light, although dimmed, is coming to us. In my opinion, brethren, when we speak of these things and meditate upon them, we are exercising ourselves… You did not believe me before that there is something you may see; but now, by the guidance of reason, you have drawn near, strained your eyes to see it. You know for certain that there is what you may see, but you are not yet able to see it. If the love of light has had no effect in you, let the fear of pain have effect instead (Io. ev. tr. 18, 11)

4 - ‘Every night I will weep’, the psalmist says (Ps. 6:7), ‘I will burn with desire for the light. The Lord sees my desire’. You desire God? Who sees this desire except God? Of whom do you ask God, except of God? He is asked of Himself, who has promised Himself. Let the soul extend its desire, and, with more capacious bosom, let it try to comprehend what eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man. God can be desired, longed for, sought passionately; but He cannot be worthily conceived and expressed in words (Io. ev. tr. 34, 7)

5 - ‘When shall I come?’, the psalmist says. What is fast for God is slow for the desire (en. Ps. 41, 5)

6 - Those who really thirst for God must thirst both in the soul and in the flesh, since God, as He gives His bread to the soul, that is, the word of truth, in the same way gives also to the flesh whatever is necessary to it. So both must thirst for God and be satiated together by Him (en. Ps. 62, 7)

7 - It is pure prayer that purifies the journey by which we tend to perfection, prayer that obtains the forgiveness of sins. When there is nothing more to be condemned, then our run toward perfection is irreprehensible. In the final and eternal perfection there will be no longer anything to be forgiven (perf. iust. 9, 20)

8 - Jesus is hardly sought after for Jesus' sake (Io. ev. tr. 25, 10) - Seek Him with humility; when you will have found Him, you shall come to secure heights (s. 216, 8)

9 - You must run with your affection, walk with your love, go up with your charity (s. 91, 6, 7) - Ask, seek, knock! You ask by praying, you seek by knocking, you knock by giving alms. Therefore do not let your hands be idle (s. 389, 2)

10 - He who seeks with great ardour and piously insists with steadfast perseverance, finds the truth. Men can make us remember something through the signs of words, but the one who teaches is the only true interior Teacher, who is the incorruptible truth in person… First we must ask what something is, then where it is from (c. ep. fund. 36, 41)

11 - They who seek the Lord shall praise Him, because those who seek the Lord shall find Him and those who find Him shall praise Him. Let me now seek You, Lord, calling upon You; let me call upon You believing in You (conf. 1, 1, 1) - Neither do I say any true thing to men which You have not first heard from me, nor do You hear any such thing from me which You have not first said to me (conf. 10, 2, 2)

12 - May he who does not understand rejoice even so, and may he prefer to find You while not finding, rather than not to find You while finding (conf. 1, 6, 10)

13 - Until when, O man, will you go around looking at creatures? Return to yourself, see yourself, look at yourself and examine yourself. You will be able to seek something closer to yourself and better than the beings surrounding you. Seek in yourself, see if, as an image of God Trinity, you may find in yourself any trace of the Trinity. I will seek, but you seek with me; not I in you and you in me, but you in you and I in me. Let us seek together, and let us consider together our common nature and substance (s. 52, 6, 17)

14 -What are you looking for outside what you are if it is in your power to be what you are looking for? (en. Ps. 41, 1)

15 - May whoever reads this book go on with me whenever he is equally certain, may he seek with me whenever he has doubts, may he return to me whenever he recognizes himself to be in error, may he call me back whenever he recognizes me to be in error. Let us enter together upon the path of charity, and advance towards Him of whom it is said: ‘Seek his face always’. And I would make this pious and safe agreement, in the presence of our Lord God, with all who read my writings (trin. 1, 3, 5)

16 - God is sought so that He may be found more sweetly and is found so that He may be sought more eagerly (trin. 15, 2, 2)

17 - Let us have this conviction, so as to know that the disposition to seek the truth is safer than that which presumes things unknown to be known. Let us, therefore, so seek as if we were about to find, and so find as if we were about to seek (trin. 9, 1, 1)

18 - And, in this way, we proceed while seeking, and after making some attainments in our finding, by seeking and finding we pass to what remains, till we reach the perfection that does not admit any further advancement (Io. ev. tr. 63, 1)

 Contemplation - action 

1 - The love of truth seeks a holy leisure; the necessity of charity undertakes a just occupation (Otium sanctum quaerit caritas veritatis, negotium iustum suscipit necessitas caritatis) (civ. 19, 19)

2 - Do not be in the leisure of idleness, but in the leisure of reflection, so that you may be free from the conditioning of space and time (vera rel. 35, 65)

3 - No one has a right to live such a life of contemplation as not to think, in his own leisure, of the service due to his neighbour; nor has anyone a right to be so immersed in active life as to neglect the contemplation of God (civ. 19, 19) 

4 - A soul that is too busy about human things somehow empties itself of God; while, on the contrary, the more it freely applies its reflection to divine and eternal realities, the more fills itself with Him (qu. exp. c. pag. 68)

5 - The contemplation of wisdom is interior and hidden, very far from any bodily sensation; it may also be signified by the name of ‘sleep’ (Gn. c. man. 2, 12, 16)

6 - Inasmuch as the blessed life is summed up in action and knowledge, action wishes for itself a supply of strength, contemplation the manifestation of things. Of these the first is to be asked in prayer, the second is to be sought, so that the one may be given, the other found. But knowledge, in this life, belongs rather to the way than to the possession itself. But he who finds the true way will arrive at the possession itself which, however, will be opened to him who knocks (s. dom. m. 2, 21, 71)

7 - To such fruit of contemplation all the duties of action are to be referred (Io. ev. tr. 101, 5)

8 - ‘Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her’ (Lk. 10:42). She has chosen contemplation, has chosen to live of the Word. What will it be to live of the Word without words? Now, she was living of the Word, but transmitted through sounding words. The true life will consist in living of the Word without any sound of words. The Word itself is life. We will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (s. 169, 14, 17)

9 - In the spirit of every man there is a certain rational wedlock of contemplation and action, with functions distributed to each of them, yet without undermining the unity of the spirit (trin. 12, 12, 19)

10 - Action implies being occupied out of necessity, contemplation brings the sweetness coming from charity. Occupations are many, varied, transitory, and the spirit is divided and restless… One day the burden of necessity will be taken away, while the sweetness of truth is eternal (s. 103, 4, 5)

11 - While we still live in the body, we turn to the things that are in front of us, stretching ourselves not to the present but to the future. From this, contemplation arises. And such is also the Church, because she sees far from a higher position. Contemplation means seeing far (en. Ps. 101, s. 2, 4)

12 - When we reflect on the rest which you (monks) enjoy in Christ, we also, although engaged in varied and arduous labours, find rest in your charity. We are one body under one Head, so that you are busy in us, and we are at leisure in you (ep. 48, 1)

13 - Do not prefer your own ease to the necessities of the Church, for if no good men were willing to minister to her in the bringing forth of her children, you would not have been able to be born to spiritual life. As men must keep the way carefully between fire and water, so as to be neither burned nor drowned, so we must order our steps between pride and idleness, without declining neither to the right hand nor to the left (ep. 48, 2)

14 - ‘By the greatness and beauty of the creatures the Creator of them can be recognizably seen’ (Wis. 13:5). No one should think that vainly and emptily I have sought first in the creatures, step by step through certain trinities, until I came at last to the mind of man, traces of that highest Trinity which we seek when we seek God (trin. 15, 2, 3)

15 - Only death really deserves serious consideration. God has indeed granted to some few men the capacity of not only awaiting it calmly, but also of desiring it eagerly; but I do not believe that either to those who are urged to accept such duties through desire for worldly honour or to those who covet a busy life, so great a good is given, so that amid bustle and meetings full of agitation, and goings to and fro, they should acquire that familiarity with death which we seek, for they had it in their power to seek union with God in retirement. Or, if this is false, I am, I shall not say the most foolish of all men, but at least the most indolent, since I find it impossible, without the help of such inactivity, to taste and love that only real good. Believe me, there is need of much withdrawal of oneself from the turmoil of the things which are passing away, in order that it may be formed in man, not through insensibility, not through presumption, not through vainglory, not through superstitious credulity, the ability not to fear anything. By this means also that stable joy is attained with which no other delight is, in any degree, to be compared (ep. 10, 2)

16 - The action of a soul that tends to a quiet security ought to be meek and humble, as it is suitable to those who follow Christ as their path… Good actions lead to a rest that is always vigilant (en. Ps. 114, 6)

 The seven degrees of the life of the soul 

1 - First of all, the soul -and this can be verified by anyone- vivifies with its presence our earthly and mortal body. It unifies and preserves the parts of the body in a unity, without letting them undergo disintegration or be wasted away. It activates the distribution of the nourishment for the body proportionally through the limbs. It keeps the harmony and right measure of the body, not only in the beauty, but also in its development and generation, while preserving the species. But all these things man has in common with plants (quant. an. 33, 70)

2 - In the second degree the soul directs the life of the senses. It expresses itself as motion in touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight, while it perceives and feels appetite for forms, flavours, odours and sounds that are useful to one’s body, and it rejects the contrary ones. It isolates itself from the senses for some span of time, by enjoying a vacation -so to say- during sleep, while agitating in itself the images perceived and accumulated through the senses. It governs the harmony of the parts of the body and sexual activity, aiming at the conjunction of the two sexes through a relationship based on love. The vigour of this experience of things, unbroken also when detached in time from the things themselves, is called memory. But all these functions -at least in part- man has in common with beasts (quant. an. 33, 71)

3 - The third degree is proper to man and consists in the documented transmission of countless things that are stably preserved, and of the products of the human mind: crafts, agriculture, building of cities, monuments and art wonders, writing and languages -which transmit the memory of the past to future generations-, the organization of political and family life. These are great things that are exclusively human and are common to the learned and the ignorant, to the good and the bad alike (quant. an. 33, 72)

4 - With the fourth degree moral and spiritual life starts. The soul dares to consider itself superior not only to one’s body, but also to the visible universe itself. It does not consider the goods of the body as its own, but it despises them in comparison to one’s power and beauty. It is delighted by this, but it gradually begins to separate itself from contaminations and to purify itself in order to be completely clean and pure, it makes itself strong against everything tends to remove it from its firm intention. It honours the fellowship with men, based on the principle of not wishing for others what one would not wish for oneself. It follows the teachings of the wise men and it considers them as word of God. In this work there is still need of effort, and there is a great and severe conflict against the difficulties and the enticements of this world. Still the fear of death remains, sometimes not intense, sometimes very strong, according to the purification of the soul and the firmness of the faith in God (quant. an. 33, 73)

5 - The fifth degree takes place when the soul has made itself free from any contamination. The soul gathers in itself with profound serenity, nothing fears for itself, it is not distressed by any cause it may have. At this stage it stably possesses the results of its efforts and does not want to contaminate itself again. It has full conscience of its own value; it moves with immense and incredible confidence toward God, that is, toward the contemplation of truth and that supreme and most hidden reward for which it has suffered so much (quant. an. 33, 74)

6 - The tendency to have intelligence of the various objects that are at the highest degree of intelligibility is the highest look of the soul: the sixth degree of its life. The eye of the soul can already direct, in a stable way, its serene and secure glance to the object of vision. The well-oriented spirit is the one by which the soul cannot get lost and err in its search for truth. But this is not possible unless the heart is free from the desire of transitory things (quant. an. 33, 75)

7 - The seventh and last degree consists in the vision and contemplation of truth. It is not a degree, but a definitive state that is reached through those degrees. I cannot say what the joy and the enjoyment is of the supreme and true good, what the breeze of that eternal serenity. Great and incomparable souls, in the limits of what they judged to be right, talked about it. And now I dare to tell you what follows: If we persevere in the path God commands us to follow and we have entered upon, we will reach, will the help of the divine Providence, the supreme cause or supreme author or supreme principle of all things. You can call such a great being, if you prefer, with a more suitable name. After acquiring a pure thought of It, we will see how all things under the sun are just illusions… It will be also possible to measure the difference between apparent realities and intelligible ones, and acknowledge that they have all been created by God. Then we will know how true the realities are that we are requested to believe; with what salutary love we are nourished by the milk of Mother Church, which is nourishment for the little ones. To take such food is very useful, deplorable to refuse it, an impious crime to hate it, a very praiseworthy and charitable work to handle and distribute it (quant. an. 33, 76)

 Augustine’s mystical experiences 

1 - (In Milan, one year before his baptism, spring of the year 386) There is no soundness of mind in those who do not like something of Your creation, no more than there was in me, when many things which You made displeased me… But when You took my head between Your arms, although I did not know it, and You closed my eyes to the vision of vain things, I drew a little from myself and my madness fell asleep. I woke up in You and I saw You, infinite but otherwise, a vision not produced by the flesh (conf. 7, 14, 20)

2 - (In Milan, in the garden of his house, late summer of the year 386) But when a profound reflection had, from the secret depths of my soul, drawn together and heaped up all my misery before the sight of my heart, a mighty storm of tears arose... I laid myself down under a certain fig-tree, giving free course to my tears, and I spoke much to You: ‘But You, O Lord, how long? Will You be angry forever? Do not remember our former iniquities. Why is there not this hour an end to my uncleanness?’... Suddenly I heard the voice as of a boy or girl coming from a neighbouring house, chanting and often repeating: ‘Take up and read; take up and read’... I returned quickly to the place where I had left the book of the letters of the apostle Paul. I grasped it, opened, and in silence read the passage on which my eyes first fell: ‘Not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires’. I did not want to read further, nor did I need; instantly, as the sentence ended, -by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart- all the darkness of doubt vanished away (conf. 8, 12, 28-29)

3 - (Ecstasy of Ostia, with his mother Monica, end of the summer of the year 387) And while we were soaring higher… and admiring Your works… we came to our own minds, and went beyond them, that we might advance as high as that region of unfailing plenty where life is Wisdom… And while we were thus speaking, and straining after her, we slightly touched her with the whole effort of our heart; and we sighed, and there left bound the first fruits of the Spirit (conf. 9, 10, 24)

4 - (While studying philosophy) When the soul will have composed itself into unity and order, and will have made itself harmonious and beautiful, it will be able to have the vision of God and of the source itself from which every truth comes, and of the Father of truth Himself. O great God! What kind of eyes will they be! How sound, how beautiful, how vigorous, how intent, how serene, how blessed! And what is that which they see? Please, I’m asking. Our daily words come to mind, but they have been defiled by being used to express trifling things. I will not say more, except that the vision of beauty is promised to us, a beauty by the imitation of which all other things are beautiful, but in comparison with which they are ugly. He who lives well, prays well and applies himself well to the study of philosophy will see it (ord. 2, 19, 51)

5 - (While studying the Sacred Scriptures)  But I wanted to know, not to suppose; and if now my voice and my pen should confess all the explanations you have given me concerning this quest [about the book of Genesis], who, among my readers, would resist until they understand? Yet my heart shall not cease honouring you and singing your praises for the explanations received, although it is unable to relate them (conf. 12, 6, 6)

6 - (While praying God) God, in whom all things are, to whom nevertheless neither the unseemliness of any creature is unseemly, nor its wickedness harmful, nor its error erroneous; God, the Father of truth, of wisdom, of the true life, of blessedness, the Father of what is good and beautiful, the Father of our awakening and illumination, the Father of the pledge by which we are admonished to return to You: I invoke you. God toward whom faith rouses us, hope lifts us up, with whom love joins us; God, through whom we learn those things to be another's which formerly we accounted as ours, and those things to be ours which we used to consider as belonging to another; God, by whose help our subjection to multiplicity does not prevent us from being one; God, who strip us of that which is not, and dress us in that which is; God, who call us back into the way and lead us to the door of life; God, who cleanse us and prepare us for the divine rewards: come propitious to me (sol. 1, 1, 2-3)

7 - I already love You alone, You alone I follow, You alone I seek, You alone am I prepared to serve, for You alone are rightly the Lord, of Your dominion I desire to be. Command, I pray, whatever You will, but heal and open my ears, that I may hear Your words. Heal and open my eyes, that I may see Your nods. Drive foolishness away from me, that I may recognize You. Tell me where I must pay attention, that I may look at You, and I hope that I shall do all things You may command. I feel I must return to you... Nothing else have I than my will. If it is by faith, or virtue, or knowledge that those who take refuge in You find You, then grant faith, virtue, knowledge. Increase in me, faith, hope, and charity. O goodness of Yours, singular and admirable! (sol. 1, 1, 5)

 Augustine’s mystical elevations 

1 - A morally good life allows us to understand well; a certain way of living leads to a correspondent ideal of life (agon. 13, 14) - The incarnate Word is a great mystery: in order to understand it, we must regulate our behaviour (s. 91, 3, 3)

2 - What great mysteries! The wonderful deeds themselves were speaking! If you understand their meaning, those mysteries are words (s. 95, 3) - (Christian faith) keeps mystery in secret, uses words openly (s. suppl. 24, 3) - To know all the mysteries of God is very much; even if we know many of them, who can know them all? (s. Caes. eccl. 3)

3 - God’s hidden works should keep their secret, without any impairment of my own faith (an. et eius or. 4, 11, 16) - I expressed myself as I could and, as I can, I see; but I cannot say how I see (en. Ps. 35, 14)

4 - May human voices be silent and human thoughts calm down. Man should not extend himself toward the incomprehensible things with the idea of understanding them; he must be contented with partaking of them, since, as a fact, we shall partake. We shall not be what we understand, nor shall we understand it all, but we shall partake of it (en. Ps. 146, 11)

5 - Great is the sound in the great silence of the heart, when, in a loud voice, He says: ‘I am your salvation’ (en. Ps. 38, 20) - In order to raise ourselves to the divine silence, we accept the conditioning of human language (c. Adim. 11)

6 - In the Word of the Father, Christ, the angels and all the most pure spirits rest in a holy silence (cat. rud. 17, 28)

7 - It is as if some toy, amusing but dangerous, were taken away from the hands of children, in order for it to be replaced with things more useful to someone who is already more grown-up, so that he may no longer crawl on the earth but rather walk. Rise, seek, sigh, pant with desire, and knock at what is shut. The life of beasts is excited with earthly pleasures, the life of angels is purely heavenly; the life of men is midway between that of angels and of beasts: if man lives after the flesh, he is on a level with beasts; if he lives after the Spirit, he joins in the fellowship of angels. Examine, then, whether, compared with the angelic life, you are little or big (Io. ev. tr. 18, 7)

8 - Let us be united in fear in order not to perish in error. Investigate uninvestigable things, do impossible things, corrupt incorruptible things, see invisible things (s. 26, 13)

 Augustine confesses to God

1 - May You become sweeter to me than all the allurements I was running after. May I love You with the greatest possible ardour and hold Your hand with all the affection of my heart, so that You may deliver me from all temptations, even to the end (conf. 1, 15, 24)

2 - O Lord, you teach by means of sorrow, and wound us in order to heal us, and kill us so that we may not die from You (conf. 2, 2, 4)

3 - O merciful God! You, Lord God, love the souls far more purely than we do, and are more incorruptibly compassionate, since You are wounded by no sorrow. But who is sufficient for these things? (conf. 3, 2, 3)

4 - My God, You were more inward to me than my most inward part and higher than my highest  (interior intimo meo et superior summo meo) (conf. 3, 6, 11)

5 - Haste, Lord, and act, stir us up and call us back, inflame us and draw us to You, glow, grow sweet. Let us love, let us run (conf. 8, 4, 9)

6 - My confession in Your sight, my God, is at the same time silent and not silent. The voice is silent, the heart cries, since nothing true I say to men, unless You first heard it from me, and You do not hear any such thing from me unless You said it first (conf. 10, 2, 2)

7 - You, my inmost physician, reveal to me what fruit there is in this confessions. Those confessions of my past evils -which You have remitted and obliterated so that You might make me happy in You by changing my soul- stir up the hearts of those who read and hear, so that they may awake in the love of Your mercy and in the sweetness of Your grace (conf. 10, 3, 4)

8 - Not with uncertain, but with assured consciousness I love You, O Lord. You have struck my heart with Your word, and I loved You; and also all things, on every side, tell me that I should love You, as they say it to all, so that they have no excuse (conf. 10, 6, 8)

9 - This is happiness: to rejoice at You, of You, because of You; and there is no other (conf. 10, 22, 32)

10 - Too late have I loved You, O beauty so ancient, and yet so new! Too late have I loved You! Yes, because You were within and I was outside. You were with me, but I was not with You (conf. 10, 27, 38)

11 - O God, grant to men that in a minor matter they may discern ideas that are common to small realities and to great ones (conf. 11, 23, 29)

12 - Lord, my eternal Father, I am completely scattered in time, about whose order I know nothing; my thoughts and the deepest recesses of my soul are torn asunder by tumultuous changes, until the time when I shall flow completely into You, purified and melted by the fire of Your love (conf. 11, 29, 39)

13 - My God, speak in my heart with truth. I will enter my secret room where to sing love songs among the groans, the unspeakable groans that, during my pilgrimage, the memory of Jerusalem stirs, with my heart stretched up towards her, Jerusalem, my homeland, my mother, and towards You, her ruler, her lightener, her father, protector, husband, her chaste and intense delights, her solid joy and all her unspeakable possessions, and all at the same time, because the one, supreme, true Good (conf. 12, 16, 23)

14 - Lord God, have mercy, lest the chick without feathers should be trampled by passers-by; send your angel to place it back in the nest, so that it may live until it knows how to fly (conf. 12, 27, 37)

15 - My weight is my love, it carries me wherever I am borne. Your Gift enkindles us and brings us up; we burn and move. We climb the ascents of the heart while singing the song of the steps. By Your fire, Your good fire, we burn and move, going up toward the peace of Jerusalem; for I was glad when they said to me: ‘We shall go into the house of the Lord’. Up there, placed by our good will, we shall only desire to remain forever (conf. 13, 9, 10)

16 - There are some good works of ours, but they are not eternal; after them we hope to rest in Your great holiness. But You, being the Good needing no good, are always at rest, because You Yourself are Your rest. And what man is there who can make another man understand this? Or what angel can do so to an angel? Or what angel to a man? Let it be asked of You, let it be sought in You, at Your door let us knock for it; so we shall receive, so we shall find, so to us it will be opened (conf. 13, 38, 53)

 Touching infinity 

1 - Blessed life is nothing else than to possess, through knowledge, something eternal. In eternity nothing else is to possess than to know. Now, what one possesses with his mind is possessed by being known, and no good is perfectly known unless it is perfectly loved. But the mind cannot know or love by itself, inasmuch as love is a longing, and we see that also in other parts of the soul there is a longing which, if it agrees with the mind and with the reason, will allow us to contemplate, through our mind, in this peace and tranquillity, what is eternal. The soul must, therefore, love also with its other parts such a great reality that must be known by means of the mind. And since the reality that is loved necessarily affects the one who loves, it happens that what is eternal, loved in such a way, makes the soul eternal. Blessed life is, as a consequence, eternal life. But what is the eternal reality that makes the soul eternal, unless God? (div. qu. 35, 2)

2 - What is the life of man, even if it is a long one, compared to the eternity of God? Do you wish to be patient? Consider the eternity of God… Do not be impatient and do not make others impatient. God is eternal, He can wait and He is patient. You have it in your power to become so: join your heart to the eternity of God and with Him you shall be eternal (en. Ps. 91, 8)

3 - What other end do we propose to ourselves than to reach the kingdom of which there is no end? (civ. 22, 30, 5)

4 - In this life, O brethren, nothing else must be done than healing the eye of the heart, by means of which we may see God. This is the purpose of the celebration of the sacred mysteries, of the preaching of the word of God, of the moral exhortations of the Church concerning the correction of manners and of sensual desires, and concerning the fact that we must renounce this world not only by words, but by a change of life; this is the only purpose of the Sacred Scriptures as well: that our interiority may be purified from whatever prevents us from seeing God (s. 88, 5, 5)