Friday, January 22, 2010



READ over the subject of the meditation carefully. This can be done the previous evening. Place yourself in the presence of God; stand (if convenient) and reflect on the truth that God sees into your inmost soul; kneel and make an act of faith and an act of adoration with all the intensity of your inmost being.

As to the remote preparation: Having read the subject of the meditation over night, reflect what fruit you may gather from it, considering the actual need of your soul. When in bed, dwell on no thought which might distract you from the subject of the meditation.

When you awake in the morning, after some appropriate ejaculatory prayers, and after offering to God your heart and your actions, banish every other thought; reflect before Whom you are about to appear, and try to excite in yourself some affection, analogous to the fruit which you desire to gather from the meditation.

The acts of faith and adoration need not occupy much time. They have for object to prepare you by devout recollection to commune with God. They form the immediate preparation, together with the preludes.

1st Prelude. This is an exercise of the imagination which you can omit if you do not find it helpful. Picture to yourself some scene connected with the mystery which forms the subject of your meditation, i.e., form your composition of the place.

2d Prelude. Ask for a grace in keeping with the mystery on which you intend to meditate. Thus, if you have chosen the Passion of Our Lord, pray for a deep hatred of sin or perfect contrition.


Having called to mind very vividly, by acts of faith and adoration, that you are in the presence of God; having made your preparatory prayer; having formed your composition of place, if desirable, by means of the imagination, and having finished your preludes, you proceed to the meditation proper, namely, to the second part.

Here we consider the subject carefully and devoutly.

If you have for subject some maxim of Our Lord, think when, where, and why He uttered it. See what lesson you can learn from it, and how far your conduct is at variance with the precept. Take a practical resolution to amend. Determine some definite act of virtue in question. A vague purpose of amendment is useless.

In this part of the meditation, avoid spending all the time in reflections, since they are a means, not an end. Their great object is to stir up your will to do some good action, and to serve as solid foundation for your resolutions. The most important part of meditation is the exercise of the affections, and all the preceding steps should lead up to this essential point.

As Father Chaignon, S J., says in his "Sacerdotal Meditations;" "Prayer is a gift of the Spirit of God; it is a science of which this Holy Spirit is the first, or rather the only, veritable Master. Let us earnestly pray to Him to grant us this gift, which shall be for us the channel of the most precious graces. Let us learn of Him this science, which is so important a part of the science of the saints."

Domine, doce nos orare. (Luke i. n.) He teaches it, says St. Bernard, in acting upon our memory, our intellect, and our will. Monet, et docet, et movet; monet memoriam, docet rationem, movet voluntatem: suggerendo, instruendo, afficiendo. (St. Bernard, Serm. de Pent.). One could not have more clearly designated the exercises of the three faculties, in which the method of St. Ignatius precisely consists.

A. The Memory: Propose to yourself the whole subject of the meditation; place before yourself the whole of the truth or mystery under consideration, as if you were relating or describing it to another person very clearly and briefly. An act of faith will help you.

B. The Intellect or Understanding:
It first considers the truth and then makes the application.

1. Consider what you have to believe, or do, with respect to the truth which you have proposed to yourself; what lesson for the amendment of your life you will find in this truth, or in this mystery. Search for it, and as soon as you have arrested it, you will pass on. to the consideration of some motives, which may move your heart and engage you to put it in practice.

2. Examine also very carefully how much you esteem a truth so important for your salvation as that which engages your attention ; whether you are in the habit of regulating your conduct by what it inculcates, or whether you are negligent with regard to it. Admit your negligence; acknowledge your faults. What is the cause of your errors? What means will you employ to avoid them?

C. The Will:

1. Pious affections are aroused. These affections differ as the subject varies, or in accordance with the dispositions of the soul and the motions of the Holy Spirit confusion, shame, and contrition; distrust of ourselves; confidence in God; thanksgiving; offering of ourselves; sacrifice of whatever obstructs or retards perfection; resignation; abandonment to the will of God.

2. The will makes strong resolutions, with regard to a certain virtue, for instance, humility, or, with regard to certain occasions and certain means, tending to greater perfection.

3. You will make some colloquies, especially toward the end of the meditation.


This is a direct prayer; so make acts of faith, hope, charity, etc., as they are suggested by the subject of your meditation. This part of the meditation should occupy perhaps one-fifth of the whole time allotted to the exercise.

The colloquy may also be called a familiar and respectful address to God, in which we praise Him, thank Him, beg His pardon, ask Him for some grace, sometimes as His child, sometimes as His servant or spouse. In the colloquies we may also address ourselves to Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin, or the saints.


Finish with the offering of resolutions. You can use a set form, or your own words. Then, as a reminder of your meditation, choose a "spiritual bouquet," that is, some thought which bears on the subject and which you can recall when tempted to break your resolution.

Finally, recite some vocal prayer, such as the Our Father, Hail Mary, or the Anima Christi. This is a brief exposition of the Ignatian method.

Remember that there are times of spiritual desolation, when mental prayer or meditation is very difficult. This is not a reason for neglecting or curtailing your meditation. Try to fix your attention and say some vocal prayers to obtain the grace you desire; humble yourself before God; do not be discouraged. God asks for your efforts; the success does not depend entirely on you.

When you find sufficient food for reflection and affections in one point, do not be in a hurry to pass on to the next.

Do not adhere slavishly to the thoughts suggested in the colloquies; those that come to you naturally are far more helpful. Speak to God with respectful familiarity.

In choosing your resolution, base it on some well grounded motive; endeavor to foresee when and how you can put it into practice.

Those who desire further information on this subject can consult the “Method of Meditation” by Pere Roothan, S.J., or any other similar work.


ANY one who has a real desire to be saved, and who believes that the opinion of St. Alphonsus, and all other spiritual teachers, that mortal sin and mental prayer can not live together, but are mutually destructive, is really true, must feel a desire to adopt so certain a means of salvation. But many are faint-hearted, and dread the little difficulty they feel in beginning a new exercise, and many more lack the courage and self-denial necessary to continue in it after the novelty has worn away, and the yoke of perseverance begins to gall. Blessed are they who courageously persevere, for their salvation is secure!

Those who find it difficult to begin, or are tempted to abandon this powerful means of salvation, must pluck up heart, and encourage themselves by remembering that mental prayer requires no learning, no special power of mind, no extraordinary grace, but only a resolute will and a desire to please God. In fact the hard matter is to convince people how easy and simple a matter mental prayer really is, and how the difficulty is far more imaginary than real. This difficulty often rises from not having grasped the true idea of what is meant by mental prayer, and the false idea of the exercise once formed, is often never corrected, the consequence being that the practice is either abandoned in disgust, or persevered in with extreme repugnance, and little fruit.

One common cause of misunderstanding, perhaps the most common of all, is the custom of calling the whole exercise by the name of one subordinate and not most important part that is meditation. From this, the idea arises that it is a prolonged spiritual study, drawn out at length with many divisions and much complicated process, and this notion frightens many good souls, and makes them fall back on vocal prayer alone. They imagine that the soul must preach a discourse to itself, and they feel no talent for preaching. Many, if they spoke their minds clearly, would say, "I can not meditate, but if I might be allowed to pray during that time instead, I could do very well!" This is no imaginary case, as any one who has had any experience will testify, and this miserable misunderstanding that so often holds souls back for years, is partly brought about by defective teaching, but partly also by the name meditation being used, instead of the more comprehensive one of mental prayer.

Mental prayer properly understood, will be found to be easy and within the power of all who desire salvation. Of course there are many degrees of prayer, and to pray perfectly is no doubt a matter of great difficulty, but to pray well and in a way very pleasing to God, and very profitable to the soul, is an easy and simple matter. If we remember how many thousands have excelled in mental prayer though not even able to read, we shall see that this holy exercise can not require any special power of mind or any degree of culture. St. Isidore, a farm laborer, is an example of a man utterly devoid of human learning, but rising, by God s grace, to the sublimest prayer.

In order to pray with fruit and without distraction, it is very useful and in most cases necessary, to spend some time in meditation or pious thought on some definite subject, and from this fact, as before stated, the whole exercise is often called meditation, instead of mental prayer. This often misleads people into imagining that meditation that is, the use of the intellect in thinking on a holy subject, is the main end to be aimed at, whereas in fact it is only a means to the end, which is prayer or conversation with God. Meditation furnishes us with the matter for conversation, but it is not itself prayer at all. When thinking and reflecting the soul speaks to itself, reasons with itself; in prayer it speaks to God.

Meditation in its wide sense is any kind of attentive and repeated thought upon any subject and with any intention, but in the more restricted sense in which it is understood as a part of mental prayer, it is, as St. Francis de Sales puts it, "an attentive thought, voluntarily repeated or entertained in the mind, to excite the will to holy and salutary reflections and resolutions." It differs from mere study in its object: we study to improve our minds and to store up information, we meditate to move the will to pray and to embrace good. We study that w may know, we meditate that we may pray.

We must then use the mind in thus thinking or pondering on a sacred subject for a few minutes, and in order to help the mind in this exercise, we must have some definite subject of thought upon which it is well to read either a text of Holy Scripture or a few lines out of some other holy book. St. Teresa tells us that she thus helped herself with a book for seventeen years. By this short reading, the mind is rendered attentive and is set on a train of thought. Further to help the mind you can ask yourself some such questions as the following: What does this mean? What lesson does it teach me? What have I done about this in the past? What shall I now do, and how?

Two remarks are here most important. The first is, that care must be taken not to read too much, but to stop when any thought strikes the mind. If the reading is prolonged, if, for example, in a short prayer of half an hour you were to read for ten minutes, the exercise would be changed into spiritual reading. The second remark is, that you must not be distressed if you find the mind torpid, and if only one or two very simple thoughts present themselves. It is by no means necessary to have many thoughts, or to indulge in deep and well arranged reflections. The object of mental prayer is not to preach a well prepared and eloquent sermon to yourself: the object is to pray. If one simple thought makes you pray, why distress yourself because you have not other and more elaborate thoughts? If you wanted to reach the top of a roof you would not trouble yourself because your ladder was a short one, provided it was long enough to land you safely on the roof. The end is gained. If one simple reflection enables you to pray, you would, in reality, be merely distracting yourself from prayer in order to occupy yourself with your own thoughts, if you were to go on developing a lengthy train of thought. This would be to mistake the means for the end, and it is a very common mistake and the cause of great discouragement. This mistake will be evident if you remember that while you are following out a line of thought, for instance, when you are answering the questions suggested above, you are conversing with yourself.

It is plain therefore that as your object is to converse with God, you should not remain too long in talking to yourself, and that, therefore, if you feel a difficulty in doing this, you need not be distressed. "The progress of a soul," says the enlightened St. Teresa, "does not consist in thinking much of God, but in loving Him ardently; and this love is gained by resolving to do a great deal for Him."

I have said that misunderstanding this point is the most fruitful source of discouragement, and one of the commonest reasons for abandoning mental prayer in disgust, and the reason is, because very few people are accustomed to prolonged or deep thought on any subject. Few indeed are capable of it. If, therefore, they imagine that prolonged, if not deep thought, is necessary for mental prayer, they are in constant trouble and discouragement, which ends in their abandoning the whole exercise in despair. "If I might only be allowed to pray," they will sigh to themselves, "how much easier it would be!"

Let such persons then clearly understand, that many thoughts are not necessary, that their reflections need not be deep and ought not, especially in a prayer of half an hour, to be long, lest prayer should be neglected and the exercise be changed into a study. "Meditation," says St. Alphonsus, "is the needle, which only passes through that it may draw after it the golden thread, which is composed of affections, petitions, and resolutions." The needle is only used in order to draw the thread after it. If then you were to meditate for an hour, and think out a subject in all its details, but without constant acts and petitions, you would be working hard with an un threaded needle.

Men s minds differ as much as their features, and some men, especially those employed in very distracting duties, need more thought before they can pray than others, but many, especially women, will find that the effort, after prolonged reflections, will generally defeat itself and end in distraction.

As soon, therefore, as you feel an impulse to pray, give way to it at once in the best way you can by acts and petitions, in other words, begin your conversation with God on the subject about which you have been thinking. Do not imagine, moreover, that it is necessary to wait for a great fire to burn up in your soul, but cherish the little spark that you have got. Above all, never give way to the mistaken notion that you must restrain your self from prayer in order to go through all the thoughts suggested by your book, or because your prayer does not appear to have a close connection with the subject of your meditation. This would simply be to turn from God to your own thoughts or to those of some other man.

To meditate means, in general, nothing else than to reflect seriously on some subject. Meditation, as mental prayer, is a serious reflection on some religious truth or event, united with reference and application to ourselves, in order thereby to excite in us certain pious sentiments such as contrition, humility, faith, hope, charity, etc. and to move our will to form good resolutions conformable to these pious sentiments. Such an exercise has naturally a beneficial influence on our soul and greatly conduces to enlighten our mind and to move our will to practice virtue.

"Meditation," writes Madame Cecilia, in her admirable work "At the Feet of Jesus," "consists in occupying ourselves mentally and prayerfully with some mystery of the faith. We call to mind the chief facts, ponder over them, and then stir up our will to regulate our conduct in consequence. Hence, meditation is an exercise of the faculties of our soul memory, understanding, and will. Some persons are also aided by the imagination; to others it is a hindrance. Do you complain that you can not meditate? Well, let me ask you: Have you ever received an affront that cut you to the quick? Then, perhaps, you did meditate; you thought over it for an hour or more. Memory recalled the facts, imagination supplied extra details and coloring, the intelligence discussed the motives, such as ingratitude, jealousy, pride; it considered the baseness and the unexpectedness of the insult; finally, the "will took a firm resolution to avoid that person. Now, what was all this but a meditation in which you employed all the powers of your soul? Moreover, it was probably made without a single distraction, which is of very rare occurrence when we meditate on a mystery of our holy faith.

"Unfortunately, the subject was not well chosen, but at least it may help you to understand that you are capable of making a meditation. Suppose that, instead of reflecting on a personal affront, you had chosen for subject the insults received by Our Lord at the court of Herod. You pictured out the scene, recalled the facts, pondered them over, weighed the motives, and then stirred up yourself to imitate your divine model. This would have been an excellent meditation. Now it is true that the Holy Ghost is the great Master Who teaches us how to pray, but this does not dispense us from means which He has placed at our disposal, for God helps those who help themselves, in this as in temporal enterprises. The masters of the spiritual life have traced out methods of mental prayer for their disciples. The one laid down by St. Ignatius, in his Spiritual Exercises, is perhaps the best known."

It consists of three parts: (1) preparation, (2) meditation proper, (3) exercise of the affections. Each of these parts is subdivided, and a few words on them may be useful to the reader.


MENTAL prayer is called by St. Gregory Nazianzen a conference, or conversation with God. St. John Chrysostom speaks of prayer as a discourse with the divine majesty. According to St. Augustine it is the raising up of the soul to God. St. Francis de Sales de scribes it as a conversation of the soul with God, by which we aspire to Him and breathe in Him, and He, in return, inspires us and breathes on us.

Father Bertrand Wilberforce, in his tract on “Mental Prayer,” writes:

All prayer is the speaking of the soul to God. This may be done in three ways. For the prayer may be either in thought only, unexpressed in any external way, or on the other hand the secret thoughts and feelings of the soul may be clothed in words; and these words, again, may either be confined to a set form, or they may be words of our own, unfettered by any form, and expressing the emotions of our soul at the moment. In the first case our prayer will be purely mental; in the second, in which we employ a set form of words, it will be vocal prayer; in the third case, where the prayer is chiefly in thought, but these thoughts are allowed to break forth into words in any way that at the moment seem best to express the feelings of the soul, it is a mixture of mental and vocal prayer, but as the words are spontaneous and not in any prescribed form, it may justly be considered as mental prayer.

In an audience with the Pope, we might read a written address to his Holiness, or we might trust to the words that might occur at the moment, to express what we desired to convey to his mind. But if God were to enable the Pope to read the thoughts of our mind, we might then simply stand silent in his presence, and he would see all that we wanted to express. The formal address would be vocal prayer, the silent standing before his throne would be purely mental prayer, the conversation with unprepared words would be a mixture of the two, and might be called mental prayer in a more general and extended sense. God knows our secret thoughts more clearly than we can express them, more certainly than we ourselves can know them, and words therefore are not necessary in our intercourse with Him, though often a considerable help to us.

A set form of words spoken, or read, can not be called prayer at all, unless the mind intends it as prayer, and gives some kind of spiritual attention, either to the actual sense of the words themselves, or to God Himself while they are being uttered. Shakespeare spoke as a theologian when, in Hamlet, he put into the mouth of the king, who asked for pardon without repentance:

My words go up, my thoughts remain below,
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

God condemned the merely material homage of the Jews by declaring, "This people honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me." All prayer, therefore, of whatever kind, must be "in spirit and in truth" (John iv. 23), but vocal prayer is confined to a prescribed form of words, whereas mental prayer is the spontaneous utterance of the soul either with or without words. When St. Francis said an Our Father, or recited his office, he used vocal prayer; when he knelt before God without a word his prayer was purely mental; when he spent the whole night in saying "My God and my all," his mental prayer was mingled with words which expressed the burning love of his seraphic soul.

St. Alphonsus says, "He who neglects meditation (a part of mental prayer), and is distracted by the affairs of the world, will not know his spiritual wants, the dangers to which his salvation is exposed, the means he ought to take to conquer temptations, and will forget the necessity of the prayer of petition for all men; thus he will not ask for what is necessary, and by not asking God s grace, he will certainly lose his soul."

In the same way St. Teresa asks: "How can charity last, unless God gives perseverance? How will the Lord gives us perseverance if we neglect to ask Him for it? And how shall we ask it without mental prayer? With out mental prayer there is not the communication with God, which is necessary for the preservation of virtue." The holy Doctors agree that those who persevere in mental prayer will live in God’s grace. The following words are the deliberate sentence of the holy Doctor St. Alphonsus, the conclusion gathered from his vast learning and experience: "Many say the Rosary, the Office of Our Lady, and perform other acts of devotion, but they still continue in sin. But it is impossible for him who perseveres in mental prayer to continue in sin; he will either give up mental prayer, or renounce sin. Mental prayer and sin can not exist together. And this we see by experience; they who make mental prayer, rarely fall into mortal sin; and should they have the misery of falling into sin, by persevering in mental prayer, they see their misery, and return to God. Let a soul, says St. Teresa, be ever so negligent, if she perseveres in mental prayer, the Lord will bring her back to the haven of salvation."

If this were merely the opinion of St. Alphonsus himself it would be of immense weight, considering his resplendent sanctity, his vast spiritual learning, and the varied experience of his long and active life, but besides this the holy Doctor is here only summing up, in one sentence, the teaching and experience of all the doctors, saints, writers, preachers, and confessors of the whole Church since the beginning. What stronger argument could be used to prove the importance and necessity of mental prayer?


From Father Girardey’s "Instructions on Prayer"

VOCAL prayer is prayer recited with the lips, and usually according to some certain formula. Although in itself vocal prayer is not so excellent as mental prayer, we should, nevertheless, beware of underrating its usefulness or necessity. All true Christians frequently recite vocal prayers, such as the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Apostles Creed, the acts of faith, hope, charity, and contrition. The Church prescribes vocal prayer very strictly to her priests and her Religious, in the Mass, in the liturgy, and in the divine office. She has enriched many vocal prayers with numerous indulgences, and has approved of many prayer-books filled with prayers suited to every want and devotion. Vocal prayer, then, is both useful and necessary for all men without exception even for those who are soaring in the heights of contemplation. In reciting vocal prayers, we should strive to attend to the meaning of the words, appropriating it to ourselves with all, possible fervor and earnestness. A few short vocal prayers well said are far more acceptable to God than a great many long ones recited without attention or fervor.

One of the best forms of vocal prayer is the frequent recitation during the day of some favorite aspiration or ejaculatory prayer, especially if we do so in time of trial and temptation. This commendable practice gradually imparts a habit of recollection, and renders all other prayers comparatively easy and free from distraction. We should, as far as practicable, prefer reciting those vocal prayers which the Church has enriched with indulgences, for we thereby gain a twofold advantage the benefit of the beautiful and devout prayers themselves, and the indulgences, which help us to acquit ourselves of the great temporal debt which we have contracted towards the divine justice on account of our numerous sins. Or we may also apply said indulgences, when so applicable, to the souls in purgatory, who will be relieved thereby and will not fail to intercede for us in our wants.

It would be well to join, to a certain extent; mental prayer with our vocal prayers, for the merit of the latter would be thereby greatly increased. We may do so in this wise. During the recitation of our vocal prayers we pause at short intervals to reflect either on their meaning or on some supernatural truth; or, without at all pausing, we reflect thereon while actually pronouncing the prayers with our lips. The rosary is the most common and readily understood example of this manner of praying. While we are reciting the Our Father and the Hail Marys of each decade of the rosary, we meditate or reflect on some mystery connected with the life of Jesus Christ or of His blessed Mother.

It is also useful, in using the prayers of our prayer- book, to read them slowly and deliberately, making in the meantime practical reflections on their contents, or pausing from time to time to meditate a little and apply the words of the prayers to our own wants. If we accustom ourselves to recite our vocal prayers in this way, we shall not only make them our own and pray well, but we shall also gradually acquire the habit of making mental prayer, which tends to unite us more closely to God, and, through the practical imitation of our divine Savior’s virtues, to render us conformable to Him.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


From Spencer’s “The Little Grain of Wheat”

"IN the first place, we will speak of the ways of making vocal prayer. Besides the ordinary way we have of reciting our vocal prayers, i.e., a simple repetition oj the words, with a general attention to God and to the intention for which we are reciting them there are two other ways, highly recommended by the saints.

One is to recite the words of the prayer, say, of the Our Father, very slowly and thoughtfully, attending to the sense of the words, and pausing an instant after each sentence or clause, in order to make the meaning of the prayer our own. It is well to get into the habit, in fact, when we are alone and have enough leisure, of saying our prayers slowly and thoughtfully, and with great exterior and interior reverence, even though at times we may find no devotion in considering the meaning of every sentence, but only have in our souls a sense of the presence of God. In that case it will be better simply to recite the prayer slowly, and with quiet recollection of the divine presence.

The other way of reciting vocal prayers, particularly the Our Father and the Hail Mary, is, in fact, a method of turning vocal into mental prayer. It consists in not merely reciting the prayer slowly, but resting at each sentence or petition, and meditating upon what is there said, or asked of God. It is the method St. Teresa taught her nuns, and is a most profitable as well as an easy way of meditating. Some people find it very difficult to make use of mental prayer by the ordinary methods. They will not, perhaps, find this method so difficult. We will give a rapid sketch of the manner of meditating on the Our Father, and of some of the subjects of meditation to be found in it. Those who are not able to meditate by reasoning upon points, may find in this method great help and encouragement.

Upon the very first words of this divine prayer of Our Lord the soul may rest and find nourishment. It is not necessary, having begun the first words of the prayer, to go on and finish it; but if, during the whole time of prayer, the soul rests upon these or any other words, there let her stay as long as she is inclined. Afterwards, if there is any more time, let her go on to the next sentence or petition.

On the words, "Our Father," the soul may consider what a great thing it is to be the son or daughter of such a great Lord and Sovereign, and what it is to have such a Father, Who is almighty, all-loving, all-good, able and desirous to help and benefit His child to the uttermost. Again, having such a Father in God, His only-begotten Son is become our brother, in Whom we are all brethren, coheirs with Him, and brethren and fellow-citizens with the saints and angels in heaven. And having such a Father and such brethren, we should have very great confidence that, if we are faithful children, all things will cooperate together for our good, and heaven will be ours hereafter; and any other such like thoughts that may present themselves to our minds. Then we can raise our souls to God in acts of love, thanksgiving, filial fear, confidence, and joy, and spend thus as long a time as we desire before going on. And all this and much more on the first simple words, "Our Father."

Next come the words "Who art in heaven." Our Father is in heaven therefore heaven is our country; and the devout soul may make acts of desire and longing for her heavenly home. Again, wherever God is, by His grace and love, there is heaven. His presence makes heaven. Now we know by divine faith that God is every where, and intimately present in all things and in all places; therefore, He is present in our own souls; and in a special manner, as He is more particularly present to spiritual substances than to other things. He is present there really and actually, at every moment, by His essence and His power, and, let us humbly and confidently trust, also by His grace and love. Therefore, heaven is in our souls. Every time we say: "Our Father, Who art in heaven," we can look at God continually abiding in the very centre and essence of our souls, so that He is not far off from us, nor must we go to the heavens above to find Him, as St. Teresa says, but He is very near to us, as near as our own souls to our own bodies. And this all the time, at any and every moment; and with the Father we have the Son and the Holy Ghost. So there are the Three Persons of the Trinity, enacting their wonderful relations one with another, working Their mighty works, upholding the entire universe, all within our own soul wondrous thought! And since Jesus Christ our Lord is God the Son, then Jesus our Lord is present in our souls, making heaven there; and, by a sort of spiritual concomitance, we can represent to ourselves His sacred humanity as present also, and His blessed Mother, too, who is not separated from Him, and the saints and angels who constitute His court; these also we can represent to ourselves as present, though in a spiritual sense and not with the same actuality that the Divinity is present. Since God then, and heaven, are present in our souls, at all times and in all places, we surely should have but little trouble in finding Him or in speaking with Him in our thoughts, or in making Him hear us: and this makes it very easy for us in time of prayer to form acts of love, etc., and to converse with Him. And not only in time of prayer, but at all times, all we have to do is to look within, and God is really and actually present. This should help us greatly to be recollected everywhere, and we should endeavor, little by little, to learn to keep up a continual conversation in our souls with God, Who is so much nearer to us than our dearest friend can ever be. In this way we would always be on our guard against offending one who in habits our very soul, and we would be habitually filled with a holy filial fear and love. The heaven that is within our souls by this divine presence will begin to project itself upon our surroundings, and we will be almost living in heaven, the world about us and our lives becoming tinged with its light. Behold all there is in the Our Father in this manner of prayer, before we come to the first petition. And many other holy thoughts with accompanying requests and acts of the will and aspirations will present themselves to your minds, as God the Holy Ghost within you may direct.

"Hallowed be Thy name." In this first petition we address God as our Father and Lord; and as His children we pray, and ought greatly to desire, that our lives may be sanctified, in order that we may live up to our holy vocation as children of such a Father. Let us, then, while meditating on this petition, greatly desire to become holy, to become saints, as children of God ought to be. Then we should make acts of self-contempt and indignation against ourselves, because we are so unworthy of such a high dignity, and are so full of sin and ingratitude to so good a Father; and make acts of contrition for our sins, by which we have offended Him, and do continually offend Him. We should not be content with this, but should grieve over all the sins, crimes, sacrileges, and other evils that are continually being committed by sinners, since by them God’s name is not hallowed, but dishonored and outraged. We should offer up the most precious blood in satisfaction for all these evils, together with the merits of the most blessed Mother of God and of all the saints. Then we should beg that God, for the honor of His holy name and for the salvation of souls, would raise up great saints on the earth, who are so much needed in these times of spiritual darkness, these last days of the world, as very likely they are. St. Teresa says that the petition "Thy kingdom come" follows very naturally from the preceding one, since a father’s kingdom belongs to his children. "Say, then," she continues, "to your heavenly Father: Since the world, the devil, and the flesh reign upon earth, do Thou reign over us as our King, and destroy in our souls these kingdoms of avarice, pride, and sensuality." In this petition we address Him as our King, and beg Him to reign over us, and set up His kingdom in our souls. How many aspirations may we not make to that effect, and how much time may we not spend upon this petition! But this is not all; for we beg and pray Him in this petition to establish His kingdom in other souls also, that all men may love Him. And we also pray that the kingdoms of the world may recognize the principles of religion and truth and justice, and the nations become truly Christian. Also that God s kingdom, which is the Catholic Church, may be triumphant in the world, the Vicar of Christ delivered from his enemies, and all people recognize the Catholic religion as the one true faith. Thus we may make this petition a prayer of intercession for the whole world. Again we pray in this place that God would give us His kingdom, that is, the kingdom of heaven thus praying for our everlasting salvation, and that of our neighbor. And finally we pray for His second coming, when "The kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever; " when all wrongs shall be righted, and all justice done, and the proud shall be cast down, and the meek shall inherit the kingdom, and Satan and his ministers shall be chained in everlasting darkness; "when God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor any more sorrow, for the former things are passed away." (Apoc. xxi. 4.) Behold all the matter of prayer contained in this one petition. Well might we spend upon it the whole time of our prayer.

Next follows the petition, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." And here we speak to Our Lord as to a spouse: for while respect and veneration are owed to the name of Father, and between a king and his subjects there is the interchange of commands and obedience, so, between two who are so closely united as two spouses, there is an interchange of wills, each being desirous to do the will of the other. For all that one has is the other s, and their affairs are in common. So Our Lord makes all He has ours and all He desires is that we should make all that is ours His; and when there are common interests, there should be one will. He desires us to give Him our will; and when we have done so, and sincerely desire and do His will, He, in return, does our will, and all that we ask of Him He grants us; so that, as St. Teresa says, Our Lord is pleased that thus He and the faithful soul should command by turns, as it were the soul doing His will, and He doing hers. In His kingdom in heaven His will is perfectly done; so it is no more than right, if we desire His kingdom to be on earth (as we have asked in the former petition), that His will should be done in this kingdom as in the other. Here, then, you can earnestly pray for this perfect conformity of your will with His will; in this conformity consists all perfection.

In the next petition we ask Him to "Give us this day our daily bread." Those who have given themselves up to God in an interior life, and have cast themselves upon His providence, have no need to importune their divine Master to give them their earthly bread for their bodily support, for as they have forsaken the love of the world for Him, He will provide for them, as He is in a manner bound to do. So, in this petition, we beg for our spiritual necessities.

Pray here for all the graces you need, for strength to support you in temptation, for light to know the will of Our Lord, since we can not do His will, as we have asked that it might be done, without the assistance and light of the Holy Ghost. Also, when you are overburdened with grief, or temptations, or other trials, it is right you should pray for relief, as far as relief is needful for you; and in times of long-continued dryness, it is not wrong for you humbly to ask a little of the bread of consolation, if it be Our Lord s will. But this petition may, in a special manner, be applied to the Blessed Sacrament, in which Our Lord Himself becomes our daily or super-substantial bread; and we can turn this clause into contemplation upon the real presence, and Holy Communion.

As to the rest of the petitions of the Lord s Prayer, what has already been said of the first four is sufficient to show how the devout soul may occupy her time with each of the others. It is enough to say that in the petition, "Forgive us our trespasses," special consideration should be given to the second clause "As we forgive those who trespass against us." For here we can make acts of patience under annoyances, of ready forgiveness of all injuries, offer ourselves to be ill-treated, humiliated, and insulted, and pray for the spirit of meekness. Here, also, in this connection, we can bring in the sacred Passion of Our Lord, and consider the meekness and patient love with which He endured so many outrages; and so, thinking upon this petition can set us to meditating or the Passion of Christ. The next petition, "Lead us not into temptation," refers especially to the temptations, wiles, and machinations of the devil; and the last petition refers, not only to temporal and spiritual evils, from which we ask to be delivered, but also to this life of exile, from which the devout soul may beg to be set free, if it be God s will, in order to enter upon the possession of her heavenly kingdom, which is the kingdom of her Spouse.

This method of prayer may be applied to the Hail Mary, and, indeed, to any other prayer, though no prayer will be found to contain so much as this divine prayer of Our Lord. The Lord s Prayer, used in this manner, may also be applied to any subject that you may take up for meditation; as, if the meditation is on any particular virtue, this prayer may be made to refer to that virtue; if on the nativity, our Father, King, and Spouse may be represented as present in our souls as an infant, while we use the different petitions, as above pointed out. If the subject be the Passion, then we may represent Our Lord present to our souls as suffering and abandoned by all, and so on.

A few words about the ordinary method of meditation. Though it is best for those who are accustomed to meditate according to the usual formal method to stick to the subject they have chosen, yet great latitude should be allowed one s self as to the way of developing the points, and full liberty also to stop upon any point, or to dwell upon any affection that may arise, as long as the soul is drawn to do so, or finds any satisfaction in it, so that, if, during the whole time of meditation, you do not advance beyond the first point, the object of the meditation will be gained; for the consideration of the subject and the reasoning over the points are designed to rouse affections and movements of the will towards God, and when that happens, it would be a mistake to smother these ascensions of the heart and will toward God, in order to go on and begin to reason upon another point. Indeed, if the soul is thus roused at the commencement, when the picture of the mystery is proposed to the imagination, she should stop there, until her affections begin to flag, when she can go on further. You need have no fear of being unfaithful by following this rule.

Another thing. Sometimes it so happens that both the imagination and reason seem to be paralyzed, so that after faithfully trying to begin and go on with the meditation for a little while, the soul finds itself so stupid and dull, as to be able to imagine or reason upon nothing. Let her not be discouraged. Let her make simple acts of the will, however hard and dry they may seem to be. Let her spend the time saying to God such things as, "O my God, I love you. O my God, I offer my mind and body to you; take me. O my God, I give my will up to your will I submit to this dryness and dullness "and other such simple, dry acts. There may be no sensible fervor in them, they may seem to the soul perfectly stupid: yet such acts of the will, done, at the same time, with great calmness and interior stillness, without hurry or anxiety, will be of the greatest value to the soul in the eyes of God. You will make more progress during that hour, than in many others when the reason was bright and the affections came gushing forth like a fountain. But perhaps the heart may be so dull that even these simple acts can not be made without turmoil and disturbance of mind. In that case, remain quietly before God in perfect calmness, submitting yourself to His will in this. Occupy yourself simply in keeping peace.

Another thing is, to make all your spiritual exercises daily or otherwise, whatever manner of prayer you may be using, with the greatest peace, calmness, and stillness of heart. There is nothing worse in prayer than anxiety, fear, fretfulness, hurry, over-eagerness to do it right, or any overstraining of the soul. All should be done with the greatest calmness, stillness, peace, and tranquility possible. The loss of that interior calmness disturbs recollection, distracts the attention, and hinders the workings of the Holy Spirit. So that, if your tranquility is disturbed, you must endeavor by all means to restore it before you go further, even though the whole time of your prayer be occupied in doing this.

Another way of practicing interior prayer is to take some devout book, read a little in it, and then reflect upon what has been read, and make acts of the will and affections upon it. When the mind grows a little weary take the book up again, and read a little more, and so on, the same can be done with any vocal prayer, as explained above. In this way we turn vocal prayer into mental.

When the time for ending the meditation is come, it should not be prolonged because the soul is dissatisfied with its success. That would bring on weariness and scruples. W r hen something happens that the prayer must be curtailed or even omitted let it be done with liberty and without scruple; only not out of a spirit of sloth or disgust. For the rest of your time endeavor to keep quietly and gently recollected in God.



"He who prayeth shall certainly save his soul; he who prayeth not shall certainly lose it."

THE justly celebrated sentence of St. Alphonsus Liguori, who may well be called the "Doctor of Prayer," finds a fitting place at the beginning of this book of devotions for Religious, It was neither lightly nor by chance that St. Alphonsus wrote these solemn words. Their truth had been impressed upon his mind during his long experience as a missionary priest, and in confirmation of it many proofs from Holy Writ and from tradition are adduced by the holy Doctor in his treatise on prayer.

St. Alphonsus writes: "Prayer is a sure and indispensable means of obtaining salvation and all the graces leading thereto. Convinced as I am of the necessity of prayer, I say that all books treating of spiritual subjects, all preachers in their sermons, all confessors in every confession which they hear, should attach the greatest importance to inculcating the necessity of constant prayer on the minds of their readers and hearers, and they should never tire of impressing it on them and of repeating over and over again: Pray, pray always; if you pray, you will certainly save your souls; if you do not pray, you will certainly lose them. It is true that many excellent ways of persevering in the grace of God may be recommended to souls; for instance, avoiding occasions of sin, frequenting the sacraments, resisting temptation, listening to sermons, meditating on the eternal truths, etc., all of which are most salutary practices, as every one must admit; but, I ask, of what good are sermons, meditations, and the other means suggested by the masters of the spiritual life, without prayer? since Our Lord has declared that He will only grant His grace to those who pray for it: Ask and ye shall receive. According to the ordinary course of Providence, all our meditations, resolutions, promises are useless without prayer; if we do not pray, we shall always be faithless to the lights we have received from God and to the resolutions we have taken. Because, in order to do right, to overcome temptation, to practice virtue, to observe God s law, it is not sufficient to have received divine lights, to have meditated, and to have taken firm resolutions. God s actual help is also necessary. Now, this actual help is only granted by Our Lord to those who pray perseveringly for it. The lights we receive, and the earnest consideration and firm resolutions which we make, have the effect of inciting us to have recourse to prayer in the time of temptation and when in danger of offending God: by prayer we obtain the divine help necessary for keeping us from sin, and if, under these circumstances, we were to neglect praying, we should undoubtedly be lost.

"The texts of Scripture which prove the necessity we are under of praying, if we wish to be saved, are extremely clear: We ought always to pray (Luke xviii. i). Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation (Matt. xxvi. 41). Ask, and it shall be given you (Matt. vii. 7).

“Theologians are of opinion that this way of speaking imposes the precept and denotes the necessity of prayer. Hence the learned Lessius asserts that it can not be denied, without sinning against faith, that for adults prayer is necessary to salvation.

"The reason of this is that, without the help of grace, we can do nothing good. Without Me, says Jesus Christ, you can do nothing (John xv. 5) . St. Augustine remarks on this subject that Our Saviour did not say, You can complete nothing without Me; but, You can do nothing. This truth was proclaimed at the second Council of Orange, when it was denned that man does no good thing except what God enables him to do by the operations of His grace. Man is therefore quite unable to work out his own salvation unassisted, since it is God s will that all he has or can have should come to him by the help of grace. Now, this grace God only grants, in the ordinary course of His providence, to those who pray for it. According to the maxim laid down by Gennadius, No man can attain salvation without the help of God; no man can obtain this help except by prayer. This does not mean, says St. Thomas, that it is necessary for us to pray in order that God may know of what we stand in need; but that we must pray in order that we ourselves may understand our need of having recourse to God to obtain the aid necessary for our salvation, and may thus acknowledge Him as the only author of all our good."


WE ought always to pray, and not to faint.
Luke xviii. i.

Watch ye, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.
Matt. xxvi. 41.

Ask and it shall be given you.
Ibid. vii. 7.

Without Me you can do nothing. John xv. 5.

Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.
2 Cor. iii. 5.

God bestows some favors without prayer, such as the beginning of faith; others, such as perseverance, are granted only to those who pray.
St. Augustine.

To enter heaven, continual prayer is necessary after baptism; for although all sins are remitted by that sacrament, there still remain concupiscence to assail us from within, and the world and the devil to attack us from without.
St. Thomas.

All the graces, which God hath prepared for us from all eternity ; will be granted only to prayer.
St. Thomas.

God wishes to give, but He gives only to those who ask.
St. Augustine.

To prayer may be traced the beginning, the progress, and the perfection of all virtues.
St. Charles Borromeo

Who are we, or what is our strength, that we should be able to resist so many temptations? God certainly wished, that we, seeing that we are deficient, and that out of Him there is no assistance for us should, with all humility, have recourse to His mercy.
St. Bernard


ASK, and it shall be given unto you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.
Matt. vii. 7.

How much more will your Father, Who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask Him?
Ibid. vii. ii.

For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth.
Ibid. vii. 8.

If you shall ask Me anything in My name, that will I do.
John xiv. 14.

You shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you.
John xv. 7.

Amen, Amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you.
Ibid. xvi. 23.

I can do all things in Him Who strengtheneth me.
Phil. iv. 13.

The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him; to all that call upon Him in truth. He will do the will of them that fear Him, and He will hear their prayer and save them.
Ps. cxliv. 18, 19. By

Prayer is obtained the possession of every good, and deliverance from every evil.
St. Bonaventure.


THE most necessary conditions of prayer, are humility, confidence, and perseverance.
St. Liguori.

He hath regard to the praver of the humble.
Ps. ci. 18.

God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
St. James iv. 6.

The prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds; and he will not depart till the Most High behold.
Ecclus. xxxv. 21.

A contrite and humble heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
Ps. 1. 19.

Thou Who savest them that trust in Thee.
Ibid. xvi. 7.

Because he hath hoped in Me, I will deliver him and I will glorify him.
Ibid. xc. 14, 15.

But they that hope in the Lord, shall renew their strength.
Isaias xl. 31.

No one hath hoped in the Lord, and hath been confounded.
Ecclus. ii. n.

They that trust in the Lord, shall be as Mount Sion.
Ps. cxxiv. i.

Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have hoped in Thee.
Ps. xxxii. 22.

He that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, which is moved and carried about by the wind. Therefore, let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.
St. James i. 6, 7.

Go; and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee.
Matt. viii. 13.

All things whatsoever you ask, when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you.
Mark xi. 24.

God protects and saves all who confide in Him.
St. Liguori.

They that hope in the Lord shall lay aside their weakness, and put on the strength of God; they shall not faint, nor even be fatigued, in treading the rugged ways of salvation. Ibid. Thou, O Lord, dost not pour the oil of mercy, unless into vessels of confidence.
St. Bernard.

The prayer of the just man is the key of heaven; his petition ascends, and God’s mercy descends.
St. Augustine.

Trusting in the divine promises, let us ever pray with confidence, not wavering, but strong and firm.
St. Liguori.

To obtain final perseverance, we must continue to pray to the end of our lives. If, by our negligence, we break the chain of our prayers, the chain of graces, on which our salvation depends, will also be broken. Ibid.

Oh, how the constant application to God by prayer, and the confident expectation of receiving from Him the graces we stand in need of, enkindle in us the fire of divine love, and unite us to the divinity!

We must continue to pray until we receive the sentence of eternal salvation.

All our petitions should be made through Our Lord Jesus Christ. Ask in the name of Jesus Christ, through
His merits, and in virtue of His divine promises.


ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI insists repeatedly that in all our devotions, at Mass, at Holy Communion, in all our visits to the Blessed Sacrament, we should pray for these four graces for ourselves, viz.: the forgiveness of our sins, the love of God, the love of prayer. and final perseverance. When these graces are secured, our salvation is assured.

Furthermore, Religious should, in all their prayers and good works, unite themselves intimately with our holy Mother the Church, in her three intentions:

1. To glorify God; to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints; the Church triumphant.
2. To provide for the spiritual and temporal necessities of the children of the Church militant.
3. To procure the deliverance of the holy souls in purgatory, that is, to aid the Church suffering.

The Morning Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer is very efficacious.

"O my God, I offer Thee my prayers, works, and sufferings this day in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for the intentions for which He pleads and offers Himself in holy Mass, in thanksgiving for Thy favors, in reparation for our offences, and for the petitions of all our Associates."

Religious should say the beads, hear Mass, and offer holy communion frequently for our holy Mother the Church, for our holy Father the Pope, for bishops, priests, and superiors, for the needs of our country, for universal peace, for the conversion of sinners, and all those who do not belong to the one fold of Christ; and last, but not least, for the holy, suffering souls in purgatory.

Father Girardey, dwelling on the subject of prayer, writes:

"In praying for temporal favors for ourselves, we can claim unconditionally only the necessaries of life, for in the Our Father our daily bread is equivalent to the necessaries of life, but does not include its superfluities or luxuries; and the words deliver us from evil do not necessarily include, as we have seen, deliverance from physical evils, for the evil here meant is sin and all that leads to sin. We have no reason to hope that God will hear our prayers for those temporal favors that may prove hurtful to our salvation, or that He will exempt us from certain corporal pains and trials, if such an exemption would lead us to sin or endanger our salvation. The granting of such prayers would be, not a favor, but a terrible punishment. We should, then, ask for temporal favors conditionally that is, under the condition that they may promote our salvation, or at least not hinder it. We ought never to lose sight of this saying of our loving Redeemer: What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? (Mat.. xvi. 26.)

"Let us not be so solicitous for temporal favors, which, after all, may, as we have seen, prove hurtful to our soul, but let us rather pray for what is conducive to our eternal welfare. When we pray for temporals, and God, in Hit, mercy, refuses them to us, it is because they would prove hurtful to us. But, says St. Gregory of Nazianzen, he who asks God for a real favor (that is, for a favor that is necessary or useful for his salvation), obtains it, for God is bountiful and generous, and readily bestows His gifts. When you pray/ says St. Ambrose, ask for great things; ask not for what is transitory, but for what is eternal. We should pray, says St. Augustine, in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ. When, however, we pray for what is injurious to our soul, we do not pray in the name of Our Redeemer. In praying for temporals we should be moderate and timid, asking God to give them to us provided they are really beneficial, and to withhold them if they should prove hurtful. Many, when they pray, invoke God, but not as God, for the object of their prayer is opposed to His glory and favor able to their passions. They seem to consider God as a mere servant of themselves and of their passions, such as pride, covetousness, and lust. Let us pray, not for temporals, but for heavenly glory and the means of attaining it. The most precious and excellent of temporal things are but insignificant trifles in comparison to what is eternal.

"Rohrbacher relates in his Church History that, among the pilgrims who flocked to the tomb of St. Thomas of Canterbury to seek favors through the saint s intercession, there was a blind man who prayed so fervently for the recovery of his lost sight that he was perfectly cured. After returning home, however, he began to reflect that the restoration of his sight might, perhaps, prove an obstacle to his salvation. He accordingly re turned to the tomb of the saint, and, after fervently praying that were his sight ever to be injurious to his soul he should again lose it, he became totally blind once more. He acted most wisely, for it was much better for him to be blind than run the risk of losing his soul. Unguarded looks are often the cause of grievous sin, as is shown by the example of David and of many others.

"When our prayers for temporal favors, either for ourselves or in behalf of others, are not granted, we should consider God s refusal a real benefit rather than a misfortune. In beseeching God for temporals we should be indifferent as to the result of our prayers, being equally ready to accept a refusal or a favorable hearing from Him. If such should be our dispositions, God, when refusing our request, will not fail to compensate us by bestowing on us more excellent favors which we do not think of asking. In vain does a child cry for a sword or a live coal, remarks St John Chrysostom; his parents justly refuse him what may prove very hurtful to him. In like manner, God justly and kindly refuses us what is injurious to us; but, in His goodness, He will give us something better instead. Let us in all our prayers aim principally at the salvation of our soul, and we shall obtain also temporal favors from God, according to this saying of our loving Redeemer: Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and His justice: and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. vi. 33).

"For whom should we pray? We should, first of all, pray for ourselves, because our salvation is our first and most important duty. Although, by the law of charity, we are bound to pray for all men, there are, nevertheless, some for whom we have a special obligation or special reasons to pray. Children should daily pray for their parents, parents for their children, members of the same family and household or community for one another, inferiors for their superiors, both ecclesiastical and civil, and superiors for their inferiors. It is also incumbent on us to pray for our benefactors, both spiritual and temporal, for our relatives, for those who ask our prayers and who pray for us, for our friends, and for our enemies also, whosoever they may be or whatever evil they may have done or may wish us. We ought, likewise, to pray for the perseverance of the just and for the conversion of sinners, of heretics, schismatics, Jews, and unbelievers. It is a most praiseworthy custom to pray for the sick, for those who are in their agony, for all who are in danger of death, or in danger of losing their innocence, and for all who are in distress, pain, trouble, or sorrow.

"It behooves us daily to remember in our prayers the souls in purgatory, particularly the souls toward whom we have some special obligation, e.g., the souls of our parents, of our benefactors, of those who are suffering on our account. We should endeavor to gain many indulgences for their benefit. If, during our life, we pray for them, God will, after our death, inspire com passionate souls to pray for us when we are in purgatory, for, says our divine Savior, with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again (Matt. vii)



BELIEVE in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified: died, and was buried. He descended into hell: the third day He arose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.


Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity.

But the Catholic faith is this, that we venerate one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in oneness; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance; for there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit; but the divine nature of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one, their glory is equal, their majesty is coeternal.

Of such a nature as the Father is, so is the Son, so also is the Holy Spirit; the Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated; the Father is infinite, the Son is infinite, and the Holy Spirit is infinite; the Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal; and nevertheless there are not three eternals but one eternal; just as there are not three uncreated beings, nor three infinite beings, but one uncreated, and one infinite; similarly the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, and the Holy Spirit is almighty; and yet there are not three almightys but one almighty; thus the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; and nevertheless there are not three gods, but there is one God; so the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit is Lord; and yet there are not three lords, but there is one Lord; because just as we are compelled by Christian truth to confess singly each one person as God, and also Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to say there are three gods or three Lords.

The Father was not made, nor created, nor begotten by anyone. The Son is from the Father alone, not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, not made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

There is, therefore, one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits; and in this Trinity there is nothing first or later, nothing greater or less, but all three Persons are coeternal and coequal with one another, so that in every respect, as has already been said above, both unity in Trinity, and Trinity in unity must be venerated. Therefore, let him who wishes to be saved, think thus concerning the Trinity.

But it is necessary for eternal salvation that he faithfully believes also the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accordingly, it is the right faith that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God is God and man. He is God begotten of the substance of the Father before time, and He is man born of the substance of His mother in time: perfect God, perfect man, consisting of a rational soul and a human body, equal to the Father according to His Godhead, less than the Father according to humanity.

Although he is God and man, yet He is not two, but He is one Christ; one however, not by the conversion of the Divinity into a human body, but by the assumption of humanity in the Godhead; one absolutely not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For just as the rational soul and body are one man, so God and man are one Christ.

He suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, on the third day arose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead; at His coming all men have to arise again with their bodies and will render an account of their own deeds: and those who have done good, will go into life everlasting, but those who have done evil, into eternal fire.

This is the Catholic faith; unless every one believes this faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved. Amen.


I BELIEVE in one God, the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God of God; Light of light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; consubstantial with the Father, by Whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: AND WAS MADE MAN. (Kneel in reverence of Christ s Incarnation.) He was crucified also for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. The third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father: and He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead: of Whose kingdom there shall be no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Life-giver, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son: Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified : Who spoke by the prophets. And one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.


I, N.N., ______ years of age, born outside the Catholic Church, have held and believed errors contrary to her teaching. Now, enlightened by divine grace, I kneel before you, Reverend Father _____________, having before my eyes and touching with my hand the holy Gospels. And with firm faith I believe and profess each and all the articles contained in the Apostles' Creed, that is: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell, the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

I admit and embrace most firmly the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all the other constitutions and prescriptions of the Church.

I admit the Sacred Scriptures according to the sense which has been held and is held by Holy Mother Church, whose duty it is to judge the true sense and interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures, and I shall never accept or interpret them except according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

I profess that the sacraments of the New Law are, truly and precisely, seven in number, instituted for the salvation of mankind, though all are not necessary for each individual: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. I profess that all confer grace, and that of these Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders cannot be repeated without sacrilege.

I also accept and admit the ritual of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of all the above mentioned Sacraments.

I accept and hold, in each and every part, all that has been defined and declared by the Sacred Council of Trent concerning Original Sin and Justification. I profess that in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist is really, truly and substantially the Body and Blood together with the Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that there takes place what the Church calls transubstantiation, that is, the change of all the substance of the bread into the Body of Christ and of all the substance of wine into the Blood. I confess also that in receiving under either of these species one receives Jesus Christ, whole and entire.

I firmly hold that Purgatory exists and that the souls detained there can be helped by the prayers of the faithful. Likewise I hold that the saints, who reign with Jesus Christ, should be venerated and invoked, that they offer prayers to God for us and that their relics are to be venerated.

I firmly profess that the images of Jesus Christ and of the Mother of God, ever Virgin, as well as of all the saints, should be given due honor and veneration. I also affirm that Jesus Christ left to the Church the faculty to grant indulgences, and that their use is most salutary to the Christian people. I recognize the Holy, Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the mother and teacher of all the churches, and I promise and swear true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles and Vicar of Jesus Christ.

Besides I accept, without hesitation, and profess all that has been handed down, defined, and declared by the Sacred Canons and by the general Councils, especially by the Sacred Council of Trent and by the Vatican General Council, and in a special manner concerning the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. At the same time I condemn and reprove all that the Church has condemned and reproved. This same Catholic Faith, outside of which nobody can be saved, I now freely profess and to which I truly adhere, the same I promise and swear to maintain and profess with the help of God, entire, inviolate and with firm constancy until the last breath of life; and I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same Faith shall be held, taught, and publicly professed by all who depend on me and by those of whom I shall have charge.

So help me God and these holy Gospels.


Alphabetical Index
The Calendar
Some Movable Feasts of Special Devotion
Feasts of Obligation in the United States
Table of Movable Feasts


For What and for Whom we Should Pray
A Talk about Prayer
Vocal Prayer
Mental Prayer
Is Mental Prayer Easy?
Method of Meditation according to St. Ignatius
Outlines of the Sulpician Method of Meditation
Explanation of the Sulpician Method of Mental Prayer
Bishop Bellord s Summary of a Method of Meditation
Method of Particular Examination in Striving after Perfection
The Subject-Matter of the Particular Examen
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Arranged in Prayers



On Awaking and Arising
Prayer while Dressing
Prayer while putting on the Habit
Prayer of St. Gertrude on Awaking
Prayer of Blessed Margaret Mary
Prayers before Meditation
Prayers after Meditation
Morning Prayers
Renewal of Vows
Short Formula of Renovation of Vows
Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
A Short Form of Morning Prayers for Religious
Morning Offering to the Blessed Sacrament


Litany of the Blessed Virgin
Consecration of Religious Communities
Act of Consecration for Religious
A Short Form of Evening Prayer
Night Offering to the Blessed Sacrament
Vesper-Song of Our Lady
A Formula of the Vows



Daily Intentions
Daily Prayer for the Associates in the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Daily Prayer for the Associates in the Sacred Heart of Mary
Prayer before Examen
Daily Examen
General Examen
An Offering of Communion
Intentions for Holy Communion
Prayer of the Associates for the Communion of Reparation


Offering of Mass and Communion on Sunday - The Holy Trinity
Offering of Mass and Communion on Monday - The Holy Souls in Purgatory
Offering of Mass and Communion on Tuesday - The Holy Angels
Offering of Mass and Communion on Wednesday - St. Joseph
Offering of Mass and Communion on Thursday - The Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Heart
Offering of Mass and Communion on Friday - The Passion and the Sacred Heart of Jesus 214
Offering of Mass and Communion on Saturday - The Blessed Virgin Mary
Prayers Ordered by Pope Leo XIII, to be said after Every Low Mass in all the Churches of the World
Ordinary Method of Serving a Priest at Mass
A Method of Assisting at Mass for Children
The Ordinary of the Holy Mass
Mass Devotions for Each Day in the Week
Sunday Votive Mass of the Blessed Trinity
Monday Votive Mass of the Holy Ghost
Tuesday Mass of the Holy Angels
Wednesday Votive Mass of St. Joseph
Thursday Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament
Friday Votive Mass of the Passion
Saturday Votive Mass of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mass of the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary
A Method of Hearing Mass for Religious
A Method of Hearing Mass by Way of Meditation on the Passion
The Holy Mass in Union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus
A Mode of Hearing Mass for the Faithful Departed
A Mode of Hearing Mass in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Prayers to the Holy Ghost before Confession
Preparatory Prayers
Examen for Confession
Means of Arriving at Perfection
Interior Practice
Reflections for Contrition and Amendment
Offering of Confession
The Seven Penitential Psalms in Latin and in English


Mass in Honor of the Blessed Sacrament before Holy Communion
After Mass and Communion (Thanksgiving)
Petitions and Offerings after Holy Communion
A Mass of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion
Various Exercises of Devotion for Holy Communion
Simple Prayers for Holy Communion
Litany for Holy Communion
Short Acts for Holy Communion
After Holy Communion
The Picture of a Good Novice
Reflections and Prayers before and after Communion for Religious
A very Commendable Exercise for Holy Communion


Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament



I. The Holy Trinity: One God

II. The Holy Ghost
Devotions for the Faithful Departed

III. Devotions to the Angels and in Particular to the Angel Guardian

IV. Devotions in Honor of St. Joseph

V. Devotions to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Hour of Adoration
Prayers for Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Hour of Adoration
Acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity before the Blessed Sacrament
Sentiments of a Religious before the Blessed Sacrament
Reparation and Consecration for Religious
Renovation of Vows for Religious Persons
Litany of the Blessed Sacrament
Litany of the Sacred Heart
Little Office of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Holy Hour
A Favorite Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Consecration of Religious Communities and Families
The Venerable Mother Julie Billiart and Her Devotion to the Sacred Heart
Rosary of the Sacred Heart
The Month of June

VI. Devotions in Honor of the Passion of Our Lord
Thoughts from the Saints
The Via Crucis or Way of the Cross
Litany of the Passion
Month of the Precious Blood
Novena in Honor of the Precious Blood of Jesus
The Ceremonies of Holy Week Explained

VII. Devotions in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Reflections of a Religious on Devotion to Our Lady
Indulgenced Novenas in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Mysteries of the Holy Rosary
Rosary of the Blessed Virgin
Little Office of the Immaculate Conception
Novena in Honor of the Dolors of the Blessed Virgin
Officium Parvum Beatae Mariae Virginis (The Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary; or, The Hours of
Our Lady)
Comments on the Rubrics of the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary


The Monthly Retreat or Day of Recollection and Prayer in Preparation for a Happy Death
Thoughts from St. Alphonsus on Death and Eternity
Offering of Mass and Communion for the Monthly Recollection in Preparation for Death
A Bona Mors Litany and Other Prayers for a Happy Death
Devotions for the Sick, and the Last Prayers
The Order of Administering Holy Communion to the Sick
The Order of Administering the Sacrament of Extreme Unction
Apostolic Benediction and Plenary Indulgence at the Hour of Death
Recommendation of a Soul Departing
The Burial Service
Ordinary of the Mass for the Dead
Litany of the Saints
Litany for the Faithful Departed
The Psalter of Jesus
Devotions for Advent and Ember Days
Ember Days


Novena for Christmas
Another Novena to the Holy Child
The Last Day of the Year
Novena to the Infant Jesus
Novena for the New Year
Novena for Epiphany
Novena to the Holy Name of Jesus
Novena for the Purification of Our Lady
Novena to St. Joseph
Litany to St. Joseph
Novena for the Annunciation of Our Lady
Novena in Honor of Our Savior’s Passion
Novena for Easter in Honor of the Glorious Resurrection
Novena for Pentecost
Prayers for the Month of May
Novena for Corpus Christi
Novena for the Feast of the Sacred Heart
Novena for the Festival of the Visitation
Novena for the Assumption
.Novena for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Novena to Our Lady of Mercy
Novena for the Feast of the Guardian Angels
Novena to the Patron Saint of your Religious Order
Novena for the Feast of Mary s Presentation
Novena for the Immaculate Conception
Prayer to St. Augustine
Novena to St. Benedict, Abbot
Devotions to St. Francis of Assisi
Novena to St. Francis of Assisi
Novena to St. Clara
Novena to St. Dominic
Novena to St. Catharine of Sienna
Novena to St. Francis de Sales
Novena and Prayers to St. Jane Frances de Chantal
Novena in Honor of St. Vincent de Paul
Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola
Novena to St. Ursula
Novena to St. Bernard
Novena to St. Charles Borromeo
The Novena of Grace in Honor of St. Francis Xavier
St. Francis Xavier, Patron of the Apostleship of Prayer
Novena for the Feast of All Saints
Novena to St. Anthony of Padua
Miscellaneous Prayers
Devout Exercise of the Six Sundays in Honor of St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Indulgenced Aspirations and Short Prayers

Additional Prayers for Various Occasions
Prayers for Travelers
Prayer for Sisters in Retreat

Miscellaneous Extracts, Maxims, and Prayers
Extracts from Masters in the Spiritual Life

APPENDIX, containing Additional Prayers




THE character and the purpose of this book are clearly indicated by its title. It is a book of devotions and prayers designed and specially adapted for the use of Religious. It offers itself to them as a helpful companion in all the exercises of religion; it aims to assist them in the particular and general examination; to instruct them in the correct and practical methods of making a meditation, and to direct them how to converse with God most properly and profitably in mental and vocal prayer.

It supplies them with abundant devotions and prayers for all the seasons of the ecclesiastical year.

A member of one of our most illustrious Religious Orders remarked one day quite casually in our presence, when devotional literature was the topic of conversation: "What we need in English is a complete Prayer-book to meet the special wants of Religious, so that a Mistress of Novices may be able to say to inquiring aspirants to the religious life: Besides the Roman Missal, I recommend to you this particular book; then you will surely have what will prove most serviceable in the convent for the hours of devotion.

Acting on this inspiration or suggestion, we have devoted much time and spared no, pains in the compilation and adaptation of the present work. It is the result at least of honest effort to meet the wants of our various Sisterhoods, and it comprises, indeed, a number of little books under one title which were approved since 1902, are from The New Raccolta.

This book is dedicated most respectfully to the members of our Religious Orders, whose heroic life of self-denial for the love of God and their neighbor, in the following of Christ and in the spirit of their vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty, is an inspiration and encouragement to all who value truth and justice, virtue and holiness, while it is, at the same time, a rebuke to the worldly-minded, who walk not with God, whose thoughts are not of heaven, but of earth, and who, in their nervous quest for honor, wealth, and pleasure, in these times of individualism or egotism, seek simply the gratification of self.

We plead with these good and edifying Religious for an occasional Memento before Jesus in the tabernacle.


Prayerbook for Religious

“Whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple."
Luke xiv, 27






Author of" Visits to Jesus in the Tabernacle,"
"The Sacred Heart Book,” “Mass Devotions"