Tag Archives: contemplation



(To learn how to pray the Holy Rosary, please click here: How to meditate on Our Lord Jesus’_life / the Gospels with the Rosary  )

To know, love and imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ – such is the principle of Christian life, the secret of perfection. True perfection consists formally in the love which unites us to Jesus, but as one cannot love without acquaintance, and affectionate acquaintance engenders imitation – one is anxious to resemble those whom one loves – it follows that the imitation, as well as the knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ, form, as it were, the integral parts of that perfection, the essence of which is love.

The Rosary is the school where Mary trains us daily in the Christian life. There, not only does this divine Mother fill our understanding with the knowledge of Jesus and our hearts with love of Him, but she completes her work by imprinting on us, by imitation, the image of Him who is the First-born of all the elect. To this last point I would particularly direct your attention.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the First-born of all the elect.

Created as we are to the image of God, we feel the need of perfecting with us this divine image, of drawing out all its splendour, by imitating more and more closely our sovereign model. In the beginning, the angel and the man, intoxicated with foolish pride, wished to push the divine resemblance beyond all limits, even to the extent of absolute independence, which is the attribute of God alone. Avenging His slighted rights, God struck down Lucifer, and severely punished the first man. The punishment of the latter, however, was not untempered with mercy. God raised Adam and Eve anew, and once more showing Heaven to them, revealed to their eyes through the distance of ages One whose imperfect image they were henceforth to bear, till they at length resumed His glory.

Jesus Christ, the perfect image of God the Father, appears at the centre of the new creation as the finished model which we all must copy, which we must all resemble if we are to be counted among the children of God. To the Blessed Virgin, who formed this divine exemplar, is allotted the task of reproducing His likeness in each one of the elect. The Rosary is the mould into which she casts souls, to form them to the divine image; or let us say, rather, that with the Rosary, as with a chosen instrument, this admirable artist sculptures, paints, and imprints the image of her Son. She sculptures it in the neophytes, paints it in souls more advanced, and imprints it in hearts which are responsive to the lightest touch of grace.

The purgative, illuminative and unitive life 

Spiritual authors tell us that in the work of perfecting us, and forming us in the likeness of Jesus Christ, it is necessary, first, to take away, like the sculptors, then to add, like the painters, and finally to apply and unite closely, like the printers.

The purgative life

In the purgative life, in which the soul divests itself of its vices and bad habits, it is necessary above all to cut away. In the Rosary, therefore, Mary sculptures certain souls, refining them by the practice of poverty, of mortification, of ever increasing detachment. In the joyful mysteries, she takes from us the love of earthly treasures by showing us Jesus poor and shelterless; in the sorrowful, she destroys our love of ease, our desire for pleasure, by opposing to our sensuality the terrible sufferings of our Saviour; in the glorious mysteries, she severs the last ties which bind us to earth, elevating our hearts by the spectacle of Jesus ascending into heaven.

As the sculptor first rounds off a block of marble, then gradually outlines the statue, and finally completes it with little touches of the chisel, so the Blessed Virgin, after the sinful habits, removes the small defects, even to the last lingering imperfections of a soul which generously penitent abandons itself entirely to her.

The illuminative life

In the illuminative life, in which the soul devotes itself particularly to progress in virtue, Mary resembles the painter who adds colour to colour, mixing and blending them suitably, in order to produce an accurate and life-like portrait. When the soul, purified of its faults, presents, as it were, a spotless surface, the immaculate Virgin complacently deposits on this stainless background the colours of all the virtues, spreading perpetually a new layer of grace; and the Rosary is the rich palette from which she draws the tints which contribute to the perfection of the image, which she wishes to produce. Under the brush of this incomparable artist the dazzling whiteness of faith, the celestial radiations of hope, the soft crimson of charity, the shades and reflections of all the virtues mingle on the countenance of the soul, formerly gloomy and darkened, and stamp upon it the supernatural expression which distinguishes the children of God.

Ah! could we, by a life of piety and habitual recollection, by frequent meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, keep our soul always ready, spread forth to its utmost limit, like a precious canvas, on which Mary might exercise her divine art by completing in us the image of her Son!

The unitive life

In all cases there is no better way to obtain a perfect resemblance in a short time than to reproduce the model itself by applying it to the surface on which it is to be represented. The image shows itself immediately, distinguished by an accuracy far greater than could be obtained by endless touches of the brush.

When a soul has arrived at the punitive life, that is, at such a degree of love for God as excludes all return to self, and justifies the words of the great apostle: “It is no longer I who live, but Jesus Christ who lives in me” – then Mary imprints Jesus in this soul, as on soft, pure wax. In a moment the celestial image appears, no longer merely in outline; it is reflected each day more faithfully in the affections, in the desires, in every act. Pone me ut signaculum super cor tuum, ut signaculum super brachium tuum. Jesus is set like a seal on the heart and on the arm, in the intention and in the deed.

The contemplative soul, closely united to God by love, receives, in passing through the mysteries of the Rosary, the impression of this divine seal. Mary herself applies it, and, according to the mystery, she reproduces Jesus humble, gentle, obedient, Jesus in His wisdom, power, goodness and infinite grace; or again, as in those modern portraits which light produces with such exactitude, Mary, admirable light emanating from the Sun of Justice, transmits in perfection the features of the divine model, imprinting them with the utmost fidelity to the depths of the heart.

An imperishable resemblance to the Father who is in heaven

Who then, faithful to this Rosary, would not allow himself to be worked upon by Her who knows so well how to mould a soul, how to paint and imprint Jesus on it? Let us dispose ourselves daily by a life of mortification, of recollection and intimate union with God, to aid Mary in her admirable work, unquestionably more admirable than all the works of nature, for the material creation even in its most beautiful manifestations, offers only a distant reflection of God, while the soul devoted to the Rosary, closely united to Christ, bears an imperishable resemblance to the Father who is in Heaven.

– Laverty & Sons, 1905




Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Previous: Silence of self love


Step 8: Silence of the mind

Silence useless thoughts, pleasing and natural thoughts; truly these only damage the silence of the mind and not the thought in itself which cannot cease to exist. Our mind wants the truth and we give it falsehood! Now the essential Truth is God. God is sufficient for His Divine Intelligence and is not sufficient for poor human intelligence!

A contemplation of God which is sustained and immediate, is impossible in the infirmity of the flesh, without a particular gift of the Divine Goodness; but silence in one’s own exercises of the mind is, with respect to the Faith, to content oneself with its obscure light.

Silence to the subtle reasoning which weakens the will and makes love become arid. Silence in one’s intention: purity, simplicity; silence to self-seeking; in meditations, silence to curiosity; in prayer, silence in one’s own dealings, they do nothing but hinder the work of God. Silence to pride which seeks itself in everything, everywhere and always, that wants that which is beautiful, good and sublime; it is the silence of holy simplicity, of total dispossession, of rectitude. A mind that fights against such enemies is similar to those Angels who see the face of God without interruption. The Lord raises up this intelligence to Himself, always in silence.

Next chapter

– From: The Twelve Degrees of Silence, Supplemento am.n. 2/2008 di “De Vita Contemplativa”



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Previous: Silence of the heart


Step 7: Silence of self love

Silence in the sight of one’s own corruption, of one’s own incapacity, silence of the soul which takes pleasure in its own lowliness. Silence to praises, to esteem. Silence in the face of contempt, preferences and complaints: it is the silence of sweetness and of humility. Silence of human nature in the face of joys and pleasures.

The flower blossoms in silence and its perfume praises the Creator in silence

The flower blossoms in silence and its perfume praises the Creator in silence: the interior soul must do the same. Silence of human nature in sufferings and contradictions. Silence in fasting, in watching, in labours, in cold and in heat. Silence in health, in sickness, in privation of everything: it is the eloquent silence of true poverty and of penance: it is the most loving silence of death to all that which is created and human

It is the silence of the human ego which passes to the Divine Will. The shudders of human nature are not able to disturb this silence because it is above human nature.

Next chapter: Silence of the mind

– From: The Twelve Degrees of Silence, Supplemento am.n. 2/2008 di “De Vita Contemplativa”


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Previous: Silence with creatures


Step 6: Silence of the heart

If the tongue is mute, the senses are calm, if the imagination, the memory and creatures are silent and they establish solitude, if not around, at least in the most intimate part of this soul who is the spouse of Christ, the heart will also make little noise.

Silence of affections, of antipathies, silence of desires which are too ardent; silence of a zeal which is indiscrete, silence of exaggerated fervour; silence even of sighs! … Silence of love in what she has that is exalted, not of that holy exultation of which God is the Author, but of that in which human nature is mingled!

Silence of love and love in silence.

It is silence before God, beauty, goodness, perfection.

Silence that has nothing awkward about it, nothing forced: such silence does not harm the silence of humility, as the beat of the Angel’s wings, of which the prophet speaks, does not harm the silence of their obedience, as the fiat does not harm the silence of Gethsemane, as the eternal Sanctus does not harm the silence of the Seraphim! … A heart in silence is a virgin heart, it is a melody for the Heart of God! The lamp is consumed without noise before the Tabernacle and incense rises in silence to the Throne of the Saviour, such is the silence of love!

Such is the silence of love!

In the preceding degrees, silence is still the lament of the earth; in this one the soul, due to its purity, begins to learn the first note of that sacred canticle which is the canticle of Heaven.

Next: Silence of Self Love

– From: The Twelve Degrees of Silence, Supplemento am.n.2/2008 di “De Vita Contemplativa”



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Step 1. Speak seldom with people and often with God

Step 2. Silence in work, in movements

Step 3. Silence of the imagination

Step 4. Silence of the memory


Step 5: Silence with creatures

Oh, the misery of our present condition! Often the soul, attentive over herself, discovers that she is conversing interiorly with creatures, replying in their stead. Oh, humiliation which has made the Saints groan!

Then this soul must gradually withdraw into the innermost depths of that hidden place, where rests the inaccessible Majesty of the Holy of holies and where Jesus, her Consoler and her God, will reveal to her His secrets and give her a taste of future blessedness.

Then He will infuse into her a bitter disgust for all that which is not Him, and all that is earthly will, little by little, cease to distract her.

Next chapter

– From: The Twelve Degrees of Silence, Supplemento am.n.2/2008 di “De Vita Contemplativa”



Tags: , , , , , ,


Step 1: Speak seldom with creatures and often with God

Step 2: Silence in work, in movements


Step 3: Silence of the imagination

This faculty is the first which knocks at the Spouse’s garden; inexplicable disturbances accompany it, vague impressions, sadness. But in this secluded place, the soul will give to the Beloved proofs of her love. She will present the beauty of Heaven, the charms of her Lord, the scenes of Calvary and the perfections of her God to this faculty that cannot be annihilated. Then she will also rest in silence, she will be the silent handmaid of Divine Love.

Step 4: Silence of the memory

Silence of the past… forgetfulness. It is necessary to saturate this faculty with the remembrance of the mercies of God… It is gratitude in silence. It is the silence of thanksgiving.

Next chapter

– From: The Twelve Degrees of Silence, Supplemento am.n.2/2008 di “De Vita Contemplativa”


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Previous chapter


Step 2. Silence in work, in movements.

Silence in walking, silence of the eyes, of the ears, of the voice; silence of one’s whole exterior being to prepare the soul to tread with God.

With these first efforts the soul merits, in that which depends upon her, to understand the voice of the Lord. How well compensated is this first step!

He calls her into the desert; and that is why in this second state, she withdraws herself from all that could distract her; she withdraws herself from noise, flies alone towards Him Who is alone. In Him she enjoys the first fruits of Divine union and the predilection of her God. It is the silence of recollection or recollection in silence.

Next chapter

– From: The Twelve Degrees of Silence, Supplemento al.n.2/2008 di “De Vita Contemplativa”


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,