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How to Live in the Presence of God
The Savior is described by St. Luke as telling His followers to pray continually and never lose heart. Let us think seriously about what we are told. We need, that is we should, which means we are expected to, pray continually.
How to Follow Christ Today
Here only two recommendations will be made, which can be reduced to two imperatives: learn the secret of silence, and develop the art of mental prayer. Both are closely related and each one depends on the other. Yet they are not the same, and together they will give us some idea of how Christ can, indeed must, be followed in our day.
How to Grow in the Love of God
The expression "love of God" has more than one meaning. Consequently, the practical question of how to grow in this love depends in no small measure on what meaning we attach to the expression. The love of God can mean, first, friendship with God in sanctifying grace; it can mean the service of God in doing His Will; it can finally mean affection for God in the acts of love by which we show our affection for Him.
True
In a society such as ours that rejects metaphysics, glorifies moral relativism, promotes blatant materialism, and whose academics are busy deconstructing the truth, it should not surprise us that an enormous spiritual void has emerged, which many desperately try to fill with frenetic consumerism, joyless hedonism, or bogus spirituality.
Living in the Presence of God
There is no single subject in spiritual literature that is more highly recommended or insisted upon as more indispensable than the spirit of recollection or living in God's presence…The important thing is, how do we grow or develop in this living in God's presence?
Contemporary Spirituality
There is an obvious risk in talking about contemporary spirituality. The suspicion may be raised that the spiritual life has different forms in different ages, and that perhaps even the essence of sanctity changes with the times. It may also suggest that Christian perfection somehow depends on being up-to-date, which in more biblical language would mean conformity to the world and the world's models of greatness. It may even intimate that unless a person has first learned the art of being (what is now a "sacred word") "relevant", that person cannot be holy.
Achieving Peace of Mind
Interior peace is of two kinds: one in the heart or will and the other in the mind or intellect. They are closely connected but they are not the same.
Perpetual Adoration, True Peace in the World
Fr. Hardon explains with the utmost clarity and ease how to achieve true peace. And in doing so, he also tells us how we can come to know what the will of God is for each one of us. How many people have searched for the answer to these questions?
The Real Presence and Sanctity
In speaking about Holiness it is remarkable how we can overlook the obvious. For example it is obvious that we cannot become holy unless we obtain the extraordinary graces needed to reach sanctity. Hearing about holiness; reading about it; even seeing holiness, does not make one holy. We need grace. It is equally obvious that the graces we need must come to us from Christ since as He told us, "Without Me you can do nothing." If that nothing refers even to salvation, it most certainly refers to sanctification.
The Priesthood of the Faithful
The Mass, being in the vernacular, now brings out more clearly than ever the intimate participation of the faithful in the Holy Sacrifice. The liturgy says throughout "we" and "our" and "us", "your sacrifice and mine". Somehow they share in the offering of the Mass. Somehow the faithful participate; they must, otherwise the language of the liturgy would be unintelligible. They participate in the priesthood. The question is, how? It is worth going into this subject because it is part of divine revelation.
The Value of Suffering in the Life of Christian Perfection
Suffering by itself is not sanctifying. Many people who are suffering are not necessarily profiting from their suffering. Evidently, then, we should do something with and about the suffering to profit from the experience. Hence the importance of knowing what suffering is and how we can alchemize it from mere pain to sanctity.
Examen of Conscience
For most people, the examination of conscience is part of their preparation for their reception of the Sacrament of Penance. However, our focus here is rather on what we technically call the examen of conscience. This is a daily prayerful reflection on our service of God. There are two basic examens of conscience. One is called the general examen and the other the particular examen.
Bethlehem and Divine Providence
All the mysteries of Christ's life tell us something about reliance on the Providence of God in our lives. But the event of Christ's birth at Bethlehem is especially revealing.
Jesus Found in the Temple
It [the bible narrative] gives us an insight into how God's Providence deals with persons that He loves. And it finally tells us how, like Mary, we should dispose ourselves to respond to God's mysterious ways in our lives and in the life of the whole people of God.
The Ascension of Christ - Its Meaning for the Spiritual Life
The secret to sanctity is strong motivation. We must be deeply convinced that following Christ is worth the effort. And we must be powerfully inspired to rise above mediocrity to serve Our Lord generously all through life. Among the strongest motives we have for growing in sanctity is the historical fact of Christ’s Ascension into heaven.
The Resurrection of Christ and Our Experience of Interior Peace
If there is one hidden theme in the New Testament, it is the fact that while Christ certainly wants His followers to imitate Him in carrying His cross and to deny themselves to prove that they are His disciples, at the same time He promises them not only an eventual and eternal glory with Him in heaven, but already on this earth, a deep-souled happiness.
How to Be an Authentic Catholic
Not too many years ago this would have been a strange title for a lecture, "How to be an authentic Catholic." The reason is obvious. Catholics were Catholics. They were not Protestant, or Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. But much has happened in the last thirty or so years. Nowadays there are so many people who call themselves Catholic but really are not.
All My Liberty - Introduction
The present volume belongs to the third class, as a modern theological appraisal of the Spiritual Exercises intended to facilitate their use in giving retreats, and to give retreatants, whether priests, religious or the laity, a deeper insight into the treasures of the Exercises in order to make them more profitable. Also, retreats already made will take on a new and more incisive meaning. The need for such a volume appears from the practical absence, at least in English, of a professional study of the master-ideas around which the Exercises are built and in which their special value for sanctification reputedly consists.
All My Liberty - Chapter 1: Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Life
The Principle and Foundation is not only chronologically the first prayerful consideration of the Spiritual Exercises and logically the basis of all the meditations which follow. It synthesizes St. Ignatius’ doctrine of Christian perfection. There is an emphasis on man’s free cooperation with divine grace, a logical adaptation of the best means to a desired end, and a concept of generosity in dealing with God which many theologians consider the essential elements of Ignatian spirituality.
All My Liberty - Chapter 2: Estrangement From God
The doctrinal background of the Spiritual Exercises is the creature’s estrangement from the Creator. In the First Week the main theme of the meditations is sin – angelic, original and personal – with its painful retribution in death, judgment and hell. In the mortal life of Christ, from the Incarnation to the Passion, sin occasioned the coming of the Redeemer who suffered and died for its expiation on the cross. And finally in the Resurrection, we see the conquest of the consequences of sin and the correlative promise of heaven, "where the former things will have passed away and sin will be no more." Thus in a true sense sin was never far from the mind of St. Ignatius in the Exercises, as something to be recognized and feared, deplored and fought against with all the powers that grace and nature can afford.
All My Liberty - Chapter 3: The Call of Christ the King
The contemplation on the Kingdom of Christ has been accurately called the heart of Ignatian spirituality. It epitomizes two ideals to which the exercitant is invited to aspire and which, if he follows, will bring him to "the pinnacle of perfection in the imitation of Christ." The first is a willingness to go beyond mediocrity in the service of Christ, the Son of God; the second a projection of personal love into the world outside, so that other souls may also "yield a higher than ordinary service to Christ their King."
All My Liberty - Chapter 4: The Standards of Christ and Lucifer
Commentators are agreed that this is one of the “great” meditations of the Exercises, as evident from the elaborate detail of its composition and from the reference to its importance in other writings of St. Ignatius. It is also unique in having what may be called two corollaries: the Three Classes of Man and the Three Modes of Humility, where the basic principles of the Two Standards are further specified and applied to the exercitant’s immediate needs. Apart from its intrinsic ascetical value, the meditation on the Two Standards crystallizes the ideals of the Christian apostolate introduced by the call of Christ the King. One of its principal conclusions, therefore, describes the following of Christ as a social and apostolic venture, where a dedicated soul goes beyond the desire for its own sanctification to cooperate with Christ "in propagating His doctrine among all men throughout the world."
All My Liberty - Chapter 5: Three Classes of Men
The title, "Three Classes of Men", stands for three kinds of persons in any walk of life. They might be three classes of religious or priests, husbands or wives, workers or professional men. However, classified, they represent three levels of volitional disposition to sacrifice whatever is less than God and stands in the way of His more perfect service and love. Viewed from another aspect, they are three states of spiritual detachment which in ascending degree dispose a man for the reception of divine grace. Implicit in the meditation is the belief that no matter how entangled in secular pursuits and impeded in the way of perfection, a person can rise above this condition if he takes the trouble to recognize these impediments and is humble enough to pray for help to overcome them. Meditation on the Three Classes is the second stage in the soul’s preparation for the Election. In relation to the Two Standards it brings the battle between Christ and Satan out of the realm of theory into practical, everyday life.
All My Liberty - Chapter 6: Modes of Humility
The expression "Degrees of Humility" does not occur in either the Spanish autograph or the recognized versions of the original text. The Spanish uses the term maneras or types of humility; the various Latin translations use Species or Modes. There is more than subtilty behind these synonyms. By definition, degree implies a quantitative difference, whereas mode and species are qualitative. Accordingly, the second mode differs from the first, and the third from the first two, not only in having more humility but in being humility of a qualitatively higher kind. In other words, to rise from a lower to a higher type of humility (in the Ignatian sense) means not merely to accumulate more of what we already possess, but to enter into an essentially superior form of moral disposition.  Since the term “Degrees of Humility” is commonly acceptable, there is no problem in using it; as there is also some advantage in knowing the proper meaning which the Exercises attach to this name.
All My Liberty - Chapter 7: The Retreat Election
Although the Election is not a special meditation, it is by all odds the most important single exercise of an Ignatian retreat. Whatever precedes, should prepare the exercitant to choose according to the highest motives; what follows will confirm the object of his choice. Some idea may be gained of the importance which St. Ignatius attached to the Election from the amount of space he devoted to its exposition: twenty pages of text in the Monumenta Ignatiana, or more than the Two Standards, Three Classes, and the Three Modes of Humility combined. If there is one basic difference between the Spiritual Exercises and any other retreat method approved by the Church, it is the Election.
All My Liberty - Chapter 8: Contemplation for Obtaining Love
The Contemplation for Obtaining Love is the masterpiece of the Spiritual Exercises. It offers an insight into Christian perfection at once so simple and yet profound as to escape the average retreatant unless he makes an effort to understand its theological implications. Much as the Principle and Foundation anticipates in preview all the subsequent meditations, so the Contemplation epitomizes in retrospect and coordinates everything which precedes. But more significantly, where the Foundation describes the love of God for man in creating him for the Beatific Vision, the Contemplation should elicit a corresponding love for God in self-sanctification and labor for His greater glory.
All My Liberty - Chapter 9: On Examining One’s Conscience
A cursory reading of what St. Ignatius says about examination of conscience reveals a number of simple facts. He recommends two kinds of examen, a general and particular. Where the general examen covers all our defects, the particular concentrates on one fault or sin for a definite length of time. Among the areas to be examined generally, special attention should be paid to our speech, notably idle words and failings against charity. The particular examination is made twice a day and recalled briefly on rising in the morning; by keeping a written account of the number of faults per half day, we can see our improvement (or otherwise) from day to day and take proper measures accordingly.
All My Liberty - Chapter 10: Vocal and Mental Prayer
It would be a mistake to suppose that the theory and practice of prayer found in the Spiritual Exercises refer only to the time of retreat. They have universal application and contain the refined wisdom of one of the Church’s greatest mystics on the subject of the soul’s communication with God, from the lowliest type of vocal prayer to the highest form of contemplation. Some of the rules and directives like the "Remote and Proximate Preparation" are useful for any kind of prayer at any time. Others like the familiar triad of prelude, points and colloquy are more pertinent to meditation. Still others, described in the Exercises as "The Three Methods of Prayer," are a supplement to ordinary meditation and though primarily intended to help beginners in the spiritual life, they can be profitably used by anyone else.
All My Liberty - Chapter 11: Mysteries of the Life of Christ
The solid core of the Spiritual Exercises, around which everything else revolves, is the set of fifty mysteries of the life of Christ normally placed after the key meditations and consequently liable to be taken as an after-thought instead of something essential to an Ignatian retreat. But whenever the Exercises are made for five or more days, most of the meditations will be given on the life of Christ. St. Ignatius’ choice of mysteries, therefore, and the special emphasis which he gives them are of primary importance in setting the tone and giving orientation to any retreat where the reflections have not been reduced to the absolute minimum.
All My Liberty - Chapter 12: Discernment of Spirits
The Rules for the Discernment of Spirits reveal St. Ignatius as a diagnostician of the spiritual life, whose principles of analysis were born of the interior struggle he experienced at Loyola, which ended in his conversion and began his dedication to the service of God. They were further refined, also from experience, during the subsequent years of conflict with the powers of evil battling for the mastery of his soul and against the apostolic work he had launched to check the forces of the Protestant rebellion.
All My Liberty - Chapter 13: Norms of Catholic Orthodoxy
A superficial reading of the Rules for Thinking with the Church may leave us with the impression that they are only a set of commonplace norms for living a Catholic life or a kind of dispensable addition to the Exercises. In reality they are a classic summation of the Ignatian spirit and so important that without them a retreat will be only partially effective in orientating a soul in its relations to God.
All My Liberty - Appendix I: Selections from the Text of the Exercises
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created. Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him. Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things. Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.
All My Liberty - Appendix II: Apostolic Constitution of Pius XI Declaring St. Ignatius Patron of All Spiritual Exercises
It has always been the chief concern of the Sovereign Pontiffs to commend, and highly to praise, to promote, and strongly to encourage, all that notably makes for the goodness and perfection of Christian life. Now a place in the front rank of all that helps towards this end has been won by those Spiritual Exercises which St. Ignatius, by a certain divine instinct, introduced into the Church. For although, in the goodness and mercy of God, men have never been wanting to set forth aptly deep thoughts upon heavenly things before the eyes of the faithful, yet Ignatius was the first to begin to teach a certain system and special method of going through spiritual retreats. He did this in the little book which he wrote when he was still a quite uneducated man, and to which he himself gave the name "Spiritual Exercises." This method was such as wonderfully to help the faithful to hate sin, and to plan out their life holily after the model of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We Are Immortal
It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of reflecting, even for a few minutes, on the facts that time was when we did not exist, but having come into being we shall never cease to exist. We began in time; we will live on for eternity.
Solitude
We then first ask ourselves, "What is solitude?" In the Christian vocabulary, solitude is the conscious and deliberate aloneness with God.
Writing and the Spiritual Life
My purpose here is to look briefly at some of the reasons why writing is such an asset of the spiritual life. To be convinced of the worth of writing, daily - if only a few words - is to have made a giant stride on the road to sanctity.
Writing and the Spiritual Life - Address to Thomas Aquinas College
We are addressing ourselves to a strange subject: "Writing and the Spiritual Life"…. To insure that the revealed word of God would be written, God invented the alphabet. Except for the inspiration to write, we would not have the Sacred Scriptures. What is the Bible except the inspired word of God but in written form?





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