Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer – Part 2 of 12

Continued here are Father Schouppe’s meditations on the Lord’s Prayer, based on the second manner of prayer taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

“Who art in heaven”

“Oh! the greatness of our Father: He is the King of heaven, before whom the whole universe bends.”

“God is everywhere, but He is in heaven in an especial manner: it is there He manifests his glory to the elect.”

“The entire universe is his domain. He is there present much more than any earthly king in all the extent of his dominions: ‘For in Him we live, and move, and have our being’ (Acts 17:28). Like the kings of this world, God has a palace, a court, a throne: Heaven is the throne of God; the earth is his footstool (Mt 5:34-35).”

“Heaven is an abode of glory and happiness, and its magnificence is worthy of the great Monarch who dwells there. Its immensity and its splendour surpass all conception.”

“Heaven is properly the abode of God: it is there He dwells with all his angels and saints, like a father with his children; it is there that He discovers to them all his treasures and makes them sharers of all his goods.”

“If our Father makes heaven his habitation, we ought to go and dwell there with Him, since children should live in their father’s house.”

“He makes us raise our eyes to heaven, to make us understand that there is our true country, and that we are only exiles, travellers on earth.”

“He makes us raise our eyes to heaven to fix them on our final destiny. We are made for heaven and not for earth.”

“He makes us raise our eyes to heaven, that we may desire only the goods of heaven and those which lead there.”

“He makes us raise our eyes to heaven, in order that we may attach our hearts to this our true country, where is to be found solid happiness.”

“All men are called there; heaven has been opened to them by the cross of Jesus Christ. All may enter, but all do not enter . . . Ought I not at any price secure heaven and save myself from hell?”

Quotations from Francois Xavier Schouppe, An Easy Method of Meditation (Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1883).

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Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer – Part 1 of 12

Here and in the next several posts, we have excerpts from An Easy Method of Meditation by the Belgian Jesuit Father Francois Xavier Schouppe. In this book he gives short meditations on each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer. This method of meditation is an implementation of the second manner of prayer taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556).

“Our Father”

“God is our Creator, our Lord, our King, our Judge, . . . but leaving aside all these glorious titles, the Saviour wishes that we should call Him by the name of Father!”

“As God wills us to call Him by this name, which cannot be a vain title, He is then truly our Father, the Father of all in general, the Father of each one in particular.”

“Rejoice, ye poor and humble: you are richer than princes; your Father is the King of Heaven!”

“God is our Father by many titles: He has given us being and life; He has made us to his own image and likeness; He has given us life a second time by the Blood of his Son shed upon the cross; He has regenerated us and adopted us for his children in the Sacrament of baptism; and, lastly, He has prepared for us an eternal inheritance in heaven.”

“God proves Himself truly our Father: He never ceases to love us, to provide for our wants, to teach us, to chastise us even as the best of fathers.”

“God wishes us to speak to Him with filial confidence and familiarity. ‘And which of you,’ says Jesus Christ, ‘if he ask his Father bread, will He give him a stone? How much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask Him?’ (Lk 11:11, 13).”

“Behold,” says St. John, “what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be named and should be the sons of God! Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like to Him; because we shall see Him as He is.” (1 Jn 3:1-2)

“O Christian, remember thy dignity; and having become by adoption a participator in the divine nature, take care of again descending, by profane conduct, to the vileness of thy first state.” (St. Leo)

“If we are the children of God, we ought to fulfil in his regard all the duties of filial piety, and render to this heavenly Father love, respect, obedience, and even assistance in the person of the poor.”

“If we are the children of so kind a Father, we ought, above all, to prove to Him our gratitude.”

“God is the Father of all men: all are equally his children; all, then, rich and poor, are brothers, and ought to love one another. We do not say my Father, but our Father, because God is the Father of all men.”

Quotations from Francois Xavier Schouppe, An Easy Method of Meditation (Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1883).

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Riddle of the Three Questions

Archbishop Ullathorne in his Groundwork of the Christian Virtues treats us to a riddle with profound implications:

“There was a king both young and wise, the Solomon of his age, who took delight in putting questions that were shrewd and deeply imagined. But a certain knight of his court was quick and shrewd in answering them, so that the king was disconcerted at this rivalry of his shrewdness. So he pondered long and carefully in preparing three questions, the answers to which bore a profound signification; he then put them to the knight, and as the Sphinx propounded her riddles, so he required them to be answered in a given time, on pain of death.”

“The first question was this: What is that which least needs help, but which men help the most? The second was this: What appears to be of the least worth, although it is of the greatest worth? The third was this: What is that which costs the most, although it is worth the least, and goes ever to utter loss?”

“But the wit of the knight was of a worldly sort, and after many castings about he could not penetrate to the truth hidden in these questions. Fearing for his life, he wasted away in perplexity and grief. Then his daughter, a virgin of innocent heart, and with a mind that looked to God, observed how her father pined away, won his secret from him, and resolved to answer the king’s questions.” She was brought to the king, and “with eyes cast down and heart lifted up to God,” this is what she said:

“Your first question, O king, is this: What is that which least needs help, but which men help the most? What least needs help is the earth. And yet men help it all day, and every day, and at all seasons of the year. They dig and plough it, they sow and plant and enrich the earth; man and bird and beast come from the earth; tree and herb and grass and flowers spring out of its bosom; yet they all die. and return to enrich the earth already so rich. Justly, then, may it be said that the earth has the least need of help, although men help it the most.”

“The second question of your highness is this: What appears to be of the least worth, although it is of the greatest worth? I say it is humility. The which from pure love brought down the Eternal Son from the Most High and Holy Trinity unto Mary, chosen to receive Him for her humbleness. Whoever is truly humble wars with no one; he is peaceful in himself, and would have all to enjoy the same peace. Much more might I say of its great worth and little cost, but let this suffice.”

“The third question from the king’s lips is this: What is that which costs the most, although it is worth the least, and goes ever to utter loss? I tell you that it is pride. For pride could not live in heaven, but in its fall brought down Lucifer to hell. It cost heaven to Lucifer and paradise to Adam. Pride is the cause of all our woes. The whole world cannot stanch the wounds it inflicts, nor wipe out its reproach. Pride is the head of all offence and the root of all sin, wasting whatever it touches, and putting nothing in the place of what it destroys; pride is the sting of evil, and the malignant element in all its wickedness. Let it spring up where it will, it is the most costly and worthless of all things.”

“Then the king was glad, because he had heard the truth from innocent lips, and he laid aside his wrath.”

Quotations from Michael F. Glancey, Characteristics From the Writings of Archbishop Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates, 1889).

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The Clumsy Builder

In Groundwork of the Christian Virtues, Archbishop Ullathorne gives us the delightful and instructive analogy of The Clumsy Builder.

“The building will now be complete, provided it has had a wise and skilful builder who really under stands his work. But it not unfrequently happens that the builder is without knowledge, and undoes with one hand what he does with the other. Like a bungler, he pushes one stone down whilst putting up another, and is so awkward at times, that in setting up one stone he will pull down two.” He gives these examples:

“Some one hits you with a sharp word; you take it silently and bear it patiently. Presently you meet a friend; you tell him how you have been insulted; you warm upon it, exaggerate the fact, and conclude by saying how patient and silent you were.” He asks, “Don’t you see that in putting up one stone you have pulled down two?”

“Another gets some deserved rebuke, and bears it for the credit it will do him. This one cannot distinguish between humility and vainglory; he pulls down the very stone he is putting up.”

“Another receives rebuke, but without knowledge, for he thinks that all that is required is silence, and forgets to submit his heart. But another will even magnify himself in secret, and fancy he is doing great things in bearing rebuke, and that he is very humble withal. Unhappy man! He acts without knowledge.”

Quotations from Michael F. Glancey, Characteristics From the Writings of Archbishop Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates, 1889).

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Waiting Patiently

In his book Christian Patience, Archbishop Ullathorne elaborates upon the classical philosophical definition of a virtue as a mean between two extremes: “As every virtue holds on its way between two vices that bear some resemblance to it, the one in excess, the other in defect, patience holds on its way between the vice of obstinacy, as an excess, and the vice of impatience, as a defect. Obstinacy arises either from stupidity or pride. It looks like patience, because it seems to hold its own, and to resist what is not its own. But patience is reasonable, and obstinacy is unreasonable; patience resists what is evil, and obstinacy resists what is good; patience is tranquil, and obstinacy is turbulent.”

“Patience is the fence of the soul; and within the fence of patience the whole choir of the virtues flow in harmony and peace, and unite in the praise of God. But impatience is the destroyer of that securing fence.”

He addresses those who fear they have lost their way: “Self-love causes the will to vibrate like a pendulum, but in a very unsteady way, between God and one’s self, making the soul restless, impatient, inattentive, and wandering.” He gives this advice as a remedy: “Whenever you are perplexed as to what course you should take, if you go blindly into action you will be sure to repent of it. Wait for light; wait with patience, and light will not fail you.” Yet, he cautions: “But to delay where you ought to act is the very opposite to the spirit of patient waiting. When you put off until to-morrow what you ought to do to-day, and can do to-day, this is not the waiting of patience, but an unwillingness to exercise the patience required for the duty.”

In Groundwork of the Christian Virtues, he warns of the trouble an impatient imagination can cause. “Do not imagine difficulties before they come,” he advises. “To imagine them is to make them.”

Quotations from Michael F. Glancey, Characteristics From the Writings of Archbishop Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates, 1889).

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Patience Transforming Time

Archbishop William Ullathorne in his Lenten Indult of 1884 reflects on how we perceive the passage of time: “The time of this life is short; our days pass like a shadow over the earth; we never remain in the same state; as we change ourselves all things change with us, and nothing that is mortal remains long with us. . . . Examine the present moment; it will not stay to be examined, it is already past, and another has come in its place, only to leave us as quickly as it came. It has gone like a shadow that flies over the earth, and has taken a part of our mortal life away with it. . . . Thousands of souls come into this world every moment, and thousands depart from this world into eternity. They come to be tried in this changeable world . . . . Where, then, shall we find what will always stay and never pass away? In eternity, which is close upon us. Where shall we find what is immortal? In our souls. Where shall we find the good that never perishes? In God.”

In his book Christian Patience, Ullathorne shows how patience makes the passing of time fruitful: “The Italians have a proverb that time and patience change the mulberry leaf into fine satin. It is wonderful what time does for a soul when helped by patience. Patience with time matures everything. God is the governor of your soul: have patience with His mysterious ways, and let Him govern you. A hundred have perseverance for one who has patience; but without patience that perseverance is of a restless, broken, and unpeaceful kind. Devout surrender to the ways of God is the summit of patience.”

Quotations from Michael F. Glancey, Characteristics From the Writings of Archbishop Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates, 1889).

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Exploring the World Around Us

Archbishop Ullathorne in his book Endowments of Man explores our quest to understand the true nature of things. He states: “The just and due relations of things with God and with each other constitute their essential order. And this essential order of things is what we call their eternal law. . . . And the light which shines from this essential order into our minds, making known to us the just and due relations of things towards God and towards each other, is what we call right reason.” Defining human reason, he says: “Deeper than his errors, deeper than his opinions, deeper than his mythologies, is the light of man’s reason, an image of the eternal reason, an image of the Trinity.”

In his Second Letter on the Rambler, he comments on our attempts to understand the nature of things: “There is but one world within our reach, and we are not permitted to examine more than its rind. Its substances are not of an active but of a passive nature, moving as they are acted upon, and so, like the machine, requiring an author, sustainer, and director of their activity. Only the omnipotent Author of the earth can authentically say how it originated, how it is set in motion, what changes have been introduced into it, and when and by what successions of interventions those gigantic changes have been brought about. . . . We may conjecture on this or that hint; God alone can speak with certainty. . . . Where God has spoken, His word stands: it may be interpreted, it cannot be rejected.”

Finally, in his Observations on the Use and Abuse of the Sacred Scriptures, he reflects on life’s journey: “I am placed in a strange country, over which I have to travel before I can reach my destination. Ignorant of the way, and of the difficulties and dangers I may meet, I, naturally, procure a map of the country. Not yet feeling secure, I seek a guide. I am now assisted; but, nevertheless, I do not forego the use of my eyes, to which these are only assistants. The eyes are my reason; the Scriptures are my map; the interpretation of the Church is my guide, who, I ascertain, is duly qualified.”

Quotations from Michael F. Glancey, Characteristics From the Writings of Archbishop Ullathorne (London: Burns & Oates, 1889).

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