The needs of beginners in the life of prayer are spiritual reading and solitude. These are equally necessary. Silence creates the atmosphere of prayer; reading gives it sustenance.
This law, at the same time divine and human, governs the life of grace, which is a created participation in the life of the Trinity. The development of charity, which is the very essence of the life of grace, is linked with the development of faith which gives it light; and faith itself, for its own growth, must nourish itself on dogmatic truth.
Faith has its root in the senses. Therefore, what we hear from preaching and what we read will help spur our faith and consequently our love. Love begins to yearn to know that which is love. With good books, the soul can go into solitude and be occupied with God.
The need for distinct lights on particular truths of faith are different according to souls but there are none; however, whose faith can develop without sustenance drawn from the knowledge of revealed truth. If faith is to be nourished and strengthened sufficiently to withstand all the weakening influences which threaten it; spiritual reading is a remedy to give this enlightenment. If faith is not nourished according to this wise measure, scarcely can it escape ruin; it cannot hope to develop a deep spiritual life.
All knowledge of spiritual things is contained in Christ Jesus, for He is the eternal Word as well as the Word uttered in time. He is the Light that enlightens every mind coming into this world, the Light that shines in our darkness, and that we can follow without fear of going astray.
Thus the soul hungering for God wants to know no other thing than Christ, and Christ crucified. “I am the door. If anyone enter by me he shall be safe, and shall go in and out and shall find pastures.” She was now more fully opened to the Book of Christ – His resurrection, His sorrowful Passion, and His mysterious depths of the human soul and of the divinity of the Incarnate Word. This led St. Teresa to explain the teaching on the prayer of recollection and the simple and constant union with Christ which is its foundation.
If we are to acquire and maintain in our daily life a loving and constant intimacy with Christ Jesus, which is the food of the prayer of recollection, we must know the living Christ, see Him as He lived, know how and in what interior and exterior conditions He acted and spoke.
In the case of the beginner, who is usually in the first and second Mansions, love is not yet penetrating enough and faith is weak; therefore, good spiritual reading is essential if he is going to place himself in the school of Jesus Christ.
The paths are many. The Ignatian school will show us the importance of asceticism and the means of practicing it; the Benedictine School will instruct us on the virtue of religion and the spiritual value of the liturgy; Saint Teresa and St. John of the Cross will teach us the interior cult of prayer and will enlarge our horizons of the spiritual life.
We can draw from all of these and St. Teresa of Jesus, herself, was guided by Jesuits, Franciscans and Dominicans. She ultimately grafted all that she received from them into the Carmelite life. The grace of God is multiform; the delicate anointings of the Holy Ghost are so diverse that even in the same group and under the same influence there are not two souls that resemble each other. It is ultimately the Holy Ghost Himself who guides us to God by the Way that is Christ Jesus.
The life that comes from Christ triumphs especially in the saints. The lives of saints explain, complete, and bring to a point the Gospel teachings and spiritual doctrines. Examples have a force that draws others after them, comparable to no other. From reading the lives of the saints, the supernatural grace awakens us by their sanctity. St. Teresa tells of the decisive influence that the Confessions of St. Augustine had on her life. Tremendous is the influence of reading in the development of the spiritual life.
I will add to the end of this Chapter that during this time of Great Apostasy, there are many new ways of prayer that are not of the Holy Ghost. We must beware that there are temptations thrown out there by the devil to keep us from these Mansions that St. Teresa talks about. If we stick to Tradition and to the writings of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross – we will not go wrong. If these prayer groups go contrary to Traditional Church Teaching – then we must beware that we could be deceived and are not travelling the road to Christ.
I will be bold and state that the Charismatic Movement is full of deceptions! How can I say that boldly? Read the writings of St. Teresa and St. John and you will see that this cannot be the way to Christ. I would have to write a whole chapter on this and maybe I will soon in my talk section. We had always hoped that Father John Hardon, who was against this Movement, would write something – but never did.
I will just summarize it by saying that these are people in the first mansions receiving gifts from the 5, 6 and 7th mansions. This is impossible and if it is happening – it is a deception. St Teresa and St. John received all of the gifts of the Holy Ghost and state that when they did – they are always received with falsehoods from the devil because he sees that this soul is close to God and will seek to trick it. Conclusion: if you are speaking in tongues or have the gift of prophecy – you are most assuredly receiving deceptions from the devil as well if not explicitly. This is planet earth – not Heaven. Satan tempts those who are close to God and are receiving mystical gifts. The saints tell us not to seek them because of this! God gives these gifts to those who are ready and know better such as St. Teresa and St. John – not someone in the first or second mansion. BEWARE and get yourself a good spiritual director if you do think you have these gifts – one cannot discern this on their own.
Finally – Our Blessed Mother is the Queen of all Saints. That means that there is no gift of the Holy Ghost that is given to a saint that was not ever received by Our Lady and Queen - Herself. She is our greatest mentor and greatest advocate before the throne of God ALWAYS!! Go to Her in ALL YOUR NEEDS! She will NEVER FAIL YOU!! Wear your Scapular – Say your Rosary!
Good spiritual reading on Our Lady would be: St. Francis de Sales, St. Alphonsus deLiguori, St. John Eudes, St. Louis deMontfort and Blessed Mother Mary of Agreda.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel – Pray for us!!
Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene