St Alphonsus Rodriguez

St Alphonsus Rodriguez

Laybrother of the Society of Jesus

Honour is flashed off exploit, so we say;
And those strokes once that gashed flesh or galled shield
Should tongue that time now, trumpet now that field,
And, on the fighter, forge his glorious day.
On Christ they do and on the martyr may;
But be the war within, the brand we wield
Unseen, the heroic breast not outward-steeled,
Earth hears no hurtle then from fiercest fray.

Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by of world without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.

Poem by Gerald Manly Hopkins

Hopkins’s Ruskinese sketches are significant because although Hopkins is remembered as a poet, he wanted to be a painter, deciding against it finally because he thought it was too “passionate” an exercise for one with a religious vocation. Nevertheless, even after he became a Jesuit he continued to cultivate an acquaintance with the visual arts through drawing and attendance at exhibitions, and this lifelong attraction to the visual arts affected the verbal art for which he is remembered. In his early poetry and in his journals wordpainting is pervasive, and there is a recurrent Keatsian straining after the stasis of the plastic arts.

Hopkins’s finely detailed black-and-white sketches were primarily important to him as special exercises of the mind, the eye, and the hand which could alter the sketcher’s consciousness of the outside world. The typical Hopkins drawing is what Ruskin called the “outline drawing”; as Ruskin put it, “without any wash of colour, such an outline is the most valuable of all means for obtaining such memoranda of any scene as may explain to another person, or record for yourself, what is most important in its features.” Many such practical purposes for drawing were advanced by Ruskin, but his ultimate purpose was to unite science, art, and religion. As Humphry House put it, “Because the Romantic tradition said that Nature was somehow the source of important spiritual experience, and because the habit of mind of the following generation (with an empiric scientific philosophy) was to dwell lovingly on factual detail, a suspicion came about that perhaps the cause of the spiritual experience lay in detail.” —poetryfoundation.org

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Humility essential further down the path

St John Climachus says, that the devil, who seeks nothing but our destruction, endeavors to set continually our virtues and good actions before our eyes, that so he may make us proud; and that God, on the contrary, who desires only our salvation, gives particular light to his elect, to make them perceive even the least of their imperfections; and hides the favors he bestows on them in such a manner, that often they perceive not when they receive them.  All holy writers teache the same doctrine; and Saint Bernard says, “that it is by a particular disposition of the divine goodness which is pleased to keep us humble, that the greater progress one ordinarily makes in perfection the less he thinks he has made; for when any one is arrived at the highest degree of virtue, God permits that something of the perfection of the lowest should yet remain to be acquired, that he may not think he is advanced so far as he is.” (De quat. mod.oran.)  Thus the comparison which is made between humility and the sun, is a very just one; for as the stars disappear, and hide themselves before the sun, so when humility shines truly in souls, all other virtues hide themselves before it in such manner, that they who are more humble indeed seem to themselves to have no virtue of all….When Moses came down for Mount Sinai, where he had forty days conversed with God face to face, “his countenance shown so bright, that all the children of Israel,” says the scripture, “behold it, and he alone knew not that his face was shining, because of the conversation he had had with the Lord.”  –St Alphonsus Rodriguez ‘The Practice of Christian & Religious Perfection II’

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Imitating the Master

On the contrary, silence produces two admirable of facts, which teaches us how to speak well.  The first is, to forget all the language the world had taught us—a circumstance which is as necessary for us, in order to speak well, as it is for one that pretends to be master of any science to abandon of faults maxims he had already learned.  The second effect is, that long silence gives us time to learn how to speak; it gives us leisure—to observe the most accomplished in this science—there manner, their deliberation, their sweetness; and also their gravity and prudence, that we may form ourselves on those models.  An apprentice observes how his master works, thereby to conform himself, and to become afterwards master of his trade; so we ought continually two hearken to the best masters in the art of speaking, and endeavor to imitate them as much as we are able.

…..

“I have more impediment and slowness of tongue,” said Moses to God, “ever since you were pleased to speak to me.”  –St Alphonsus Rodriguez ‘The Practice of Christian & Religious Perfection II’

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Transformed through the Eucharist

St Cyprian, interpreting these words of the royal prophet, “my chalice which inebriates, how excellent it is?” (Ps xii 5) and applying them to the Eucharist, says, “that as drunkenness renders a man quite different from what he was, so this divine sacrament renders us quite different from ourselves by making us quite forget the things of the world, and elevating our minds to a commerce with those of heaven.”  How different did the disciples at Emmaus become from what they were before, after they received this celestial bread from the hands of our Savior himself?  “They knew Him then, whom they knew not before” (Luke xxiv. 35) and from inconstant, feeble, and timorous persons, they became firm, faithful, and courageous.  It is after this manner that holy communion “ought to change you into another man, into a perfect man; that so they who live; live not to themselves, but live to him who died for them and is risen again to life.” (2 Cor v. 15) –St Alphonsus Rodriguez ‘The Practice of Christian & Religious Perfection II’

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Season of Repentenance

One of the things which ought most assure of us the pardon of our sins is to have a great regret and sorrow for them; so if we continually look upon them with sorrow and confusion. God will forget them, and regard them no more. For this reason, David being touched with sorrow for his sins, in order to make God forget them, and turn His eyes from them, said to Him, “I know mine iniquity, O Lord, and my sin is always before my eyes.” St Jerome makes a just remark upon the words of the same prophet; “turn Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.” “If”, says the holy doctor, “you put always your sins before your eyes, God will not put them before His”. –St Alphonsus Rodriguez ‘The Practice of Christian and Religious Perfection II’

The time of massive bleeding ceasing, deprivation carving roughly upon the old man,
Passing into the repose of maturity blessed, a new day starts everyday amassing grace,
Shutting down fearful expectations, desperation, immense and hearty breathing in and out: who are you? and who am I?
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, forgive me for I am a sinner,

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Passion Prayer

The Jesuit brother, Alphonsus Rodriguez, used to say his Rosary with such fervour that he often saw a red rose come out of his mouth at each Our Father, and a white rose at each Hail Mary, both equal in beauty and differing only in colour.  —St Louis de Montfort ‘Secrets of the Rosary’

St Alphonso Rodriguez

St Alphonso Rodriguez

 

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St Alphonsus Rodriguez on the Eucharist

Today is the feast day of St Alphonsus Rodriguez, a writer whose Jesuit Spanish spiritual methods I embrace humbly as my own. Identifying, I embrace his centering upon self-perfection, refining one’s self interiorly. I see no other way. The journey is interior. The conquering is interior. The victory is interior.

Here is a link to a Catholic website, Traditional Catholic Priest, that intelligently and concisely informs about saints during their feast days. I find the priest’s blog interesting in the sense it is the perspective of an extremely conservative Catholic mindset. Recently, he posted an entry on Sedevacantist, schismatic churches declaring there has been no true pope since Pope John XXIII–post Vatican II. Today’s post is a powerful repost from another blog. I see his recent efforts as a wrestling with the thoughts and ways of Pope Francis. I admire insight into a priest struggling with the Church. Giving his loving heart, staunch loyalty and worthy mind to Catholicism, how does a conservative priest reconcile with a pope redirecting the Church away from his predispositions and opinions. I contrast the situation with a liberal priest who says mass at St Paul Shrine, who never stops speaking with elation, excitement, and joy about the words and actions of Pope Francis. Pope Francis is an absolute celebration of his deepest beliefs, a flowering of his priestly vocation. The Church is a mystery, complex and all-embracing, beyond individuals, truly the body of Christ here upon earth.

St Alphonsus Rodriguez elaborating upon the Eucharist:

…the goodness of God does not rest here: He is not content with coming only into our houses, and remaining in our churches but he will also have us possess him within ourselves; he will remain within our breast, he will make that his temple and tabernacle. O ineffable love! O unheard of liberality! That I should receive into my breast and heart, Jesus Christ, true God and true man, the same Savior whom the Blessed Virgin carried nine months in her sacred womb! And if St. Elizabeth on seeing Your holy mother, who bore You in her sacred womb, and entering into her house cried out in astonishment, and filled with the Holy Ghost, “whence comes this grace and favor on to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me;” what shall I say, O my God, on seeing You enter not only into my house but into myself. With how far greater reason may I say, whence comes this grace granted me who have been for so long a time the devils habitation; to me who have so often offended You, and been so ungrateful and unfaithful for so many benefits? Whence proceeds this grace and favor but from the access of thy mercy, and because thou art goodness itself, “to make it thy delight to be with the sons of men,” and because your love of them is infinite. –St Alphonsus Rodriguez ‘The Practice of Christian Perfection & Religious Perfection’

St Alphonsus Rodriguez

St Alphonsus Rodriguez

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