Advancing in Grace Through Prayer

“Prayer, though it may be divided into vocal and mental, is in its essence one thing only—that is, the conversation of the soul with God. Cor ad cor loquitur. Mary seated at Our Lord’s feet, listening to the words which drop from His Divine lips, is the example of prayer to all time. True, we may converse with God in words put into our lips by Christ—as in the Our Father—or by the Church, or by the Saints; but in such prayers, unless we put our soul into them, uttering the words with attention and devotion, and thus, as it were, making them our own, they will be but a ‘vain repetition,’ against which Our Lord so emphatically warned His disciples.”

“A well-known ascetical writer has said that unless we practise mental prayer our vocal prayer will remain little more than words. Hence, he goes on to say, the importance of the hour or half-hour we give to meditation. ‘It is the hour in which the soul lives its true life. . . . It is the hour of its intensest discipline, when acts are produced which vibrate long afterwards through the hours of the day, through the spaces of life. It is the hour of speaking to God in His Holy of Holies, where the soul finds insight and strength and endurance. It is the hour of calm, when the thronging elements of a man’s personal life are ranged in order, and marshalled to obedience, so that the will may aim at one thing, and one thing alone. It is the hour of kindling of that precious fire—the fire of Divine love which must burn through every pulsation of life, or else life’s deeds can never be borne to the heavens, but must drop like leaves to wither on the earth. It is the hour . . . when the heart speaks to God, and what is of infinitely greater moment, when God speaks to the heart.'”

“Prayer, though it should in the first place be directed to our wants, to be pleasing to God, must not end there. Our Divine Saviour in a revelation to St. Gertrude told her how earnestly He desired that we should make intercession for all men.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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The Greatest Obstacle to Union With God

“The greatest obstacle to our union with God by grace is sin. Mortal sin, as we all know, extinguishes Divine charity in our soul, and drives us from the arms of God into those of His enemy; but all sin is displeasing to God in the highest degree. To commit even a venial sin is a great misfortune.”

“St. Teresa, after commenting on sins due to inadvertency, goes on to say: ‘But from wilfully committing any sin, however small, may God deliver us! I cannot think how we could dare to set ourselves against so great a Sovereign, in however small a matter, though no offence against such majesty can be called small, because we know that He is watching us. Such a fault seems to me thoroughly premeditated. It is as if we said: Lord, although this displeases Thee, yet I shall do it. . . . Is such a misdeed a little one? To me it seems not a little sin, but a great and very great one.”

“Venial sins, it is true, do not destroy Divine charity; but, as St. Francis of Sales tells us, ‘charity is sometimes weakened and depressed in the affections, till it seems to be scarcely in exercise at all. . . . This happens when under the multitude of venial sins, as under the ashes, the fire of holy love remains covered, and its flame smothered though it is not utterly extinguished.”

“To sin is to be human, and we need never expect to be wholly free from all venial sins and imperfections as long as we abide in this mortal life. Two thoughts gathered from the teaching of the Saints may be of use to us to help us to fight against these falls which are such an obstacle to our union with God. One is that if, the moment we are conscious of committing a sin, we turn to God with a profound sense of humility and sorrow for having ‘grieved’ His Divine Spirit, whose temple we are, we gain, as St. Francis of Sales tells us, by our fall; ‘inasmuch as the profit we make by advancing in humility is a rich reparation for the damage sustained by our frailty.’ The second is the use of what an ascetical writer calls ‘the rudder of the devout life, examination of conscience.’ . . . Self-examination is the eye of a devout life. Without it we are ever groping in the dark, and shall never reach our goal, which is the union of our soul with God.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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A New Commandment

At the Last Supper, Christ said to His disciples: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

“The true significance of the ‘new commandment’ which our Saviour gave at His Last Supper, and all that He and His holy Apostles have taught about charity, is explained by the doctrine of Divine grace. We must love our neighbour because he has been made a partaker of the Divine nature by grace, that by the same means he has been elevated above his own nature, that he is unspeakably dear to his Redeemer and is destined, if he persevere to the end, to an eternal weight of glory in heaven.”

“Not his human nature, but the Divine nature which is impressed upon him—not so much he himself, in or by himself, but rather God who is united to him in grace, must be the motive of our love; and therefore we must embrace him with the same supernatural love which we bear towards our good and merciful God Himself. Is he not by grace a brother, and, what is more, a living member of Jesus Christ? And can we love Christ without loving at the same time in Him, and with Him, His brothers and His members? Is he not by grace a temple in which the Holy Spirit resides truly and personally with His whole Divinity, as the soul in the body? And can we, then, think of separating in our affection what Divine love has so intimately and inseparably united?”

“Grace, moreover, brings us most closely together in a spiritual manner; we are all children of God, brethren in God, stones of the Divine temple, and members of the same mystic Body of Christ. To each one Our Lord’s promise is that He will guard them ‘as the apple of His eye,’ and that ‘he that touches you touches Me.’ How, therefore, will He suffer one of His children to be ill-treated, neglected, or maligned, without visiting the culprit with His indignation?”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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How Christ Loves

“He [Christ] was not satisfied with healing those who came to Him the lame and the diseased and the blind at a distance. He chose to come in personal contact with the afflicted, making clay and spreading it on the eyes of the sightless, and taking the hand of the Ruler’s daughter who was dead, and so raising her to life. And, again, we read that mothers ‘brought unto Him also children, that He might touch them’ (Mark 10:13). He entered into the house of Simon the leper, and suffered ‘the woman who was a sinner’ to kiss His feet and water them with her tears. The crowd pressed round Him, and He rebuked them not; and when His disciples (how like what we should have done!), wearied of the importunity of the woman of Canaan, said, ‘Send her away, for she crieth after us,’ He only turned to her and praised her faith, and sent her away comforted.”

“But it was not till the eve of His sacred Passion that Christ gave an explanation of His meaning in these words: ‘After having washed their feet . . . being sat down again, He said to them: Know you what I have done to you? You call Me Master and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. If then I, being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.’ (John 13:12-14) And this personal service must be accompanied with love, or, rather, it must owe its source to love and be the very outcome of it.”

“How are we to know that we possess this love, without which we not only cannot claim to be Christ’s disciples, but do not even bear an outward resemblance to them? . . . [St. Paul] says that it does not consist in alms-giving—a most illuminating distinction. ‘If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.’ Then he goes on to explain what it is: ‘Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; . . . beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things’ (1 Cor 13:3-7).”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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Love Thy Neighbour

“The foundation, the very rock, on which sanctifying grace is built is love of God, that Divine fire in the human heart which our Saviour said He came on earth to bring.”

“This is the first and greatest commandment, and, again He tells us, ‘the second is like unto the first: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ About the first there can be no mistake; but how many there are who are under a complete delusion about the second! And what is the result? They strive earnestly and genuinely to increase in the love of God knowing that it is the beginning and end of all spiritual life. . . . Their hearts remain cold and dry, and they complain that religion gives them no consolation. In a majority of cases, and especially in that of men and women leading Christian lives who would shrink from the commission of gross sins, and perhaps not be tempted to fall into them, the cause is want of supernatural love of their neighbour.”

“The first time [Christ] exercised His omnipotent power over His own creation, He did so at Our Lady’s intercession, in order to save the passing confusion of His host. And He worked it in spite of the fact that His ‘hour was not yet come.’ And this was but the beginning of that series of acts of gracious mercy, and forgiveness, and healing, which was summed up in the Gospel narrative by the phrase, ‘He went about doing good.'”

“Even more striking are the words of warning He used to His disciples on the same subject: ‘I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you; that you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh His sun to rise upon the good and bad, and raineth on the just and the unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even the publicans this?’ (Matt 5:44-46) ‘Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.’ (Luke 6:36-37)”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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Divine Grace Confers Peace

“Who can describe how loving the intercourse is between the devout soul and God; how He reveals His innermost nature to her, makes known His holy mysteries to such a soul, and infuses into her a peace which transcends all understanding?”

“If the Blessed Trinity is present within us, this presence cannot be without fruit. God is a living God, and the Holy Spirit is the breath of Divine life. He must, then, dwell in us as the soul of our soul, and inspire it with a new life.”

“In grace we take possession of the highest and infinite good not only by hope, but in truth and in reality. Already in our inmost heart we may embrace it and taste its sweetness. By grace we bear God truly and substantially within us. . . . By grace we embrace Him with the arms of holy charity. . . . By the union with God through grace, we experience even in this life at times a joy and sweetness such as no pleasure of the senses ever gave or ever could give, and which are a very foretaste of heaven.”

“Grace confers upon the soul that sweet and secure peace which the Son of God came on earth to establish in the hearts of men of good-will—that peace of Christ of which St. Paul says: ‘The peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’ (Phil 4:7).”

“As peace is the principal fruit of grace, so it is the first condition of happiness. So heavenly is this peace that the world, though it promises many things, does not even undertake to give us peace. And yet without it where is true happiness to be found? And possessed of this great treasure, were we to lose all else, should sorrow and trials of every kind assail us, as long as we possess God we possess all; for He alone suffices, and where He is there is true peace and happiness.”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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Guardian Angels and Saints

“God not only extends His own special and loving protection to those who are in a state of grace, but He gives them His Angels to watch over them. ‘The Angels of the Lord,’ Scripture tells us, ‘shall encamp around those that fear Him.’ That we should give them all honour and reverence seems most fitting.”

“They know better than we the height to which grace has raised our soul, and our dignity as true children and spouses of the King of Glory. They recognize in us the supernatural image of God and the temple of the Holy Ghost. Is it astonishing, therefore, that they willingly help to guard the sacred treasure of Divine grace within us?”

“The Apostle teaches, they are ‘ministering spirits sent to minister to them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation.’ True, they imitate our heavenly Father in extending their care also to the preservation of our earthly goods, and in protecting us from temporal evils; but this they do because we are by grace children of God, and they do so only in so far as our temporal welfare conduces to our heavenly destiny.”

“The guardianship of the holy Angels, and the example of the Saints, are amongst the means God has given us to tread the pathway of life securely. The enemy seeks to tempt us, as he did our Divine Saviour, with the three idols of riches, pleasure, and power, before which the vast majority of men bow down and adore. The Angel by our side is ever whispering to us that not in such things can true happiness be found; and the Saints by their example show us how to tread those idols under foot. ‘Thou hast made us for Thyself,’ exclaims the great St. Augustine, ‘and our hearts can never rest till they rest in Thee.'”

Quotations from Alice Lady Lovat, The Marvels of Divine Grace: Meditations Based on the “Glories of Divine Grace” (Original Treatise by Fr. Nieremberg, S.J., Entitled “Del Aprecio y Estima de la Divina Gracia”) (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1917).

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