LOUIS
de  BLOIS, O.S.B.

A Book of Spiritual Instruction (sel.)

 

 Abbot Blosius of Liessies


A BOOK OF SPIRITUAL INSTRUCTION
(INSTITUTIO SPIRITUALIS)  [theosis]


By LUDOVICUS BLOSIUS, O.S.B. tr. B. A. Wilberforce O.P., ed. a Benedictine of Stanbrook Abbey (London, Burns & Oates,1900)
Summary of Chapter One, on Aspiring to Union with God


1.6. NOW, whoever aspires to this state [i.e. of union with God], and desires to become perfect and to experience the close embrace of divine union, must[:]

[1] strenuously persevere in self-denial and mortification of himself; he must, moreover,

[2] diligently cultivate the habit of holy “introversion” or recollection,

[3] and must ardently aspire to God by prayers of ejaculation and by holy desires.

[4] He must, moreover, take care that all he does or leaves undone should be done or left undone for God's sake, looking in all things to him and seeking to please him only.

In this way, and in no other, can a man come to perfection and to mystical union with God. Of these things I propose to treat shortly, as God gives me light.



 

 


THE EIGHTH CHAPTER:
A collection of various instructions important to be remembered by a spiritual man.

 

 

 


Of [:] [1] The Spiritual Food of the Mind - Prayer,
[
2] The Word of God Heard or Read,
[
3] and The Holy Eucharist


1. How prayer is to be begun and attention secured.

2. Involuntary distraction does not deprive prayer of its merit.
The difference between exterior and interior prayer.

3. Invocation and imitation of saints.

4. The word of God should be heard with reverence and humility, and without vain curiosity.

5. The intention, method, and manner of spiritual reading, which should always be joined to prayer.

6. Sacramental or at least spiritual communion every day. Its excellence and wonderful fruit.


1. BEFORE prayer and during prayer the servant of God should free his mind, as far as he can, from all Gares, and from images of other things; and thus attending calmly, reverently, simply, and lovingly to God present within him, and putting himself present before God, he should pray to him and adore him in spirit and in truth. And in order that he may learn how to attend, he should consider with quiet application, while singing psalms, what words are addressed to God and what are said by him ; and these he should say or hear with religious and grateful mind. And if he finds that he is not as yet able to be sufficiently steadfast in heart, he should not on that account be disturbed, but resigned; and that perfection which his worship lacks he should supply by true humility, goodwill, and holy desire. When he has arrived at a state of union, so that God shall be in him and he in God, and this intimate union has been firmly and completely established in the soul; when the servant of God has succeeded in setting his mind free from all that may distract it from God, and has entered the inner sanctuary of his soul, purified from the images of created things, where the pure fountain of the Godhead is-then he will offer an unwandering and steadfast prayer to God.

2. God, we must remember, well knowing the weakness of man, does not reject pious prayers, even when offered with a distracted mind, provided that he who prays does so with diligence, is distracted unwillingly and does not turn away his will from God. Outward prayer, which is said by the mouth only, is like chaff ; but inward prayer, which is poured forth from the mind, is the grain; and that in which heart and mouth combine is very pleasing to God. The Canonical Hours and other prayers to which a man is bound by vow, or the command of the Church or his order, ought by all means to be recited with the mouth. There is no prayer more excellent than that by which a man begs that the most acceptable will of God should be done in himself and in all others.

3. If the servant of God should invoke any saint now glorified in heaven, let him not doubt that the saint can hear his prayer, even if he lias employed no vocal prayer. The saint should be regarded as present in God, to whom he is united. Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, and all the saints are indeed pleased when we piously pray and sing hymns in their honour; but no homage is more acceptable to them, no honour we can pay them is greater than imitation of their virtues by being poor in spirit, attending to the presence of God everywhere and diligently betaking ourselves to the inner sanctuary of our souls. True poverty of spirit means real humility of heart, by which a man casts himself down beneath every creature, and is detached from all perishable things ; by which also he renounces the satis­faction of interior consolations, and when afflicted, distressed, abandoned, laughed to scorn, and despised, keeps himself patient for the love of God, not seeking to deliver himself from these trials.

4. The servant of God should listen to the word of God and salutary doctrine with a ready mind, thirsting for spiritual light ; and this disposition he should have without reference to the person of him who may be preaching, or to the simple nature of the things he may utter. In this way he will secure lasting fruit from what he hears, even if he should forget the actual things that were said. And if he has felt weary in listening to pious things, it would be better humbly to blame himself rather than the preacher. Nor should he much care if he perceive certain defects in the preacher’s style, provided the truth be spoken. Let him attend to the truth itself, looking on it as coming from its origin and fountain, God, without curiously discussing the nature of the channel through which it has run its course. The mind should be ready to put into practice all useful advice that may be heard or read, as far as is practicable.

5. When he occupies himself with sacred reading he should seek purely the honour and glory of God, not his own satisfaction; nor should he read to gratify any mere empty curiosity, nor for the idle pleasure of knowing a number of things. It is well not to read too much at one time, lest the mind may thus lose its calm serenity and the spirit be overladen. Spiritual things should be read with a quiet diligence of mind and with a mental appetite, not negligently and with distaste. Good and salutary things, though often heard or read before, the spiritual man should always consider new and welcome, without feeling weary. And, indeed, if he only reads such things humbly, piously, simply, diligently, and reverently, he will derive immense benefit from them, even if he does not thoroughly understand them. After reading he should give thanks to God, and those things which he has heard or read he should offer to the eternal praise of God in union with the divine love he bears himself. He should reflect on the things he has read, as far as he has an opportunity, and he should beseech God to enable him to guide his life by the things he has read, and through them to make progress in the love of God. For prayer renders reading wonderfully fruitful. Certainly, for those who desire to attain to intimate union with God, and thus at length to read the highest things written in the lovely book of life and to contemplate truths unutterable by human language in the incorruptible mirror of the God­head, it is more necessary to recollect the passion of the Lord, to pray, to aspire to God and to become familiar with the inner sanctuary of their own souls by living within themselves, than to be continually occupied in reading books written by the hand of man.

6. The servant of God should be anxious to receive the venerable sacrament of the Lord’s Body. For by the humble, frequent, and devout reception of the Eucharist he will progress more speedily in divine union and holiness of life than by any other exercise. If he does not receive sacramentally every day, he should at least receive spiritually by pious desire and true preparation. In this way, not once only, but often in the day, he may receive our Lord with unspeakable fruit. O most worthy and most sweet sacrament, in which, under the species of bread and vine, we receive the whole Christ - namely, the Body, the Blood, the Soul, and the Godhead of Christ - we receive the whole Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. For the three persons of one Godhead and Essence cannot be separated from one another. The whole Trinity, therefore, dwells in the Body of Christ, because the whole Godhead is in it.

(1) He who receives the Lord’s Body with due devotion is cleansed from all sins, even from those mortal sins of which he is not conscious or does not remember to have committed, provided only that he is in the disposition of mind to confess and do penance for them if he did know that he had fallen into them.

(2) He is made partaker of all those good things which Christ has merited for us in his life, passion, and death.

(3) Yea, also, he becomes a sharer in all the good things that have been done since the time of Adam, and will be done until the end of the world.

(4.) Lastly, he is united to Christ and incorporated with him, and therefore receives strength and power to resist vice and to persevere in good works ; and now, adorned with a most pure and excellent life, he is transformed and changed into God, and filled with all the grace of the most glorious Trinity.

 xxxx» cont

 

 


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