Abbot Vitalis Lehodey

Infused maturity of prayer

This simplification of prayer is not the work of time and years.  God bestows attractions as He pleases.  He harmonizes them, however, with our interior dispositions, and the variety of our circumstances; He invites some sooner, others later.  Should He call a soul from its very first steps in the spiritual life, His will being duly ascertained, no one has the right to hesitate to obey.  In sickness, also, and in certain states of fatigue, meditation would be often impossible, and the prayer of affections becomes as it were a necessity.  Generally, it is only after a long habit of meditation that a soul feels itself drawn to diminish its considerations, and afterwards even to suppress them almost entirely and to be satisfied, or nearly so, with a simple look.  The prayer of simplicity, therefore, means ordinarily speaking, that a long journey has been traversed; it is the normal term, at which discursive prayer ends, and there is no one who may hope to arrive there in the course of time, by a generous practice of mental prayer and the other exercises of the spiritual life.  –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey ‘The Ways of Mental Prayer’

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‘…as the deer longs for running water’

As we have said, when speaking of the passive purgation of the senses, contemplation begins by a state of quiet that is very feeble, and hardly perceptible. A remembrance of God, vague, obscure, persistent and monotonous, a love not less vague and indistinct, and a dolorous need of possessing God by a closer union from the groundwork of this state. The quietude is too feeble to allow the soul to taste the sweetness of the divine presence. The soul thirsts and God gives her to drink not of “a stream” but of “a puny rill of water” as “to a child.” She is far from swimming in delights, but she is, in some small degree, relieved of her thirst, and held captive, for she feels the need of being alone with God, and, if she suffers in that state, she would be far worse off elsewhere. –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey “The Ways of Mental Prayer”

 

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Trials of sickness and infirmities

With good reason is this state called a purgation. For it purifies our souls from pride. Inebriated with Divine consolations, they used to deem themselves good; plunged in a universal disgust, powerless to meditate, reduced to the production of a few meagre affections without variety or unction, assailed often by most humiliating temptations, they feel their misery, convinced by force of evidence that they are worth very little, and that without God they can do nothing; they are, in consequence, disposed to make themselves very small in the presence of so much greatness and sanctity, to have a greater respect for His majesty, and to pray to Him with more humility, As they find themselves plunged in darkness, they more willingly have recourse to the wisdom of their superiors, and become simple and docile; they are also too much occupied and penetrated with the sense of their own miseries to observe those of others with a malignant curiosity; and thus indulgence towards the faults of others, mutual forbearance, esteem and charity increase along with humility.

This state also purifies souls from spiritual gluttony and all inordinate love of spiritual joys. The soul was greedy of consolations, she wished to find her pleasure in the presence of God; now, this inordinate love of spiritual pleasures dies for want of food; as time goes on she learns to do without emotions, to give herself to God without any selfish interest, to serve Him at her own expense and no matter what it costs the animal part is weakened by being deprived of sensible sweetness, the passions lose their force, and are reduced to order; little by little she dies to herself, and the divine life meets with fewer hindrances.  –Rev Dom Vitalis Lehodey ‘The Ways of Mental Prayer’

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Cloistered Replication

The desire of heaven and the love of God.  It is long since we came to realize the emptiness, the powerlessness, the nothingness of this life with its false goods, and, forsaking the world, entered the cloister to seek the Sovereign Good alone.  In the measure in which our souls have detached and purified themselves, the desire of heaven has become stronger, and the ardor of our love of God increased almost to impatience.  All we want is God, God seen, loved, possessed without delay.  True, the God of our hearts is here, quite close to us, in the Blessed Sacrament.  But we want Him without any concealing veil.  Sometimes He permits us to find Him in prayer.  But we are not satisfied with such a transient and incomplete union.  We would hold Him in perfect and everlasting possession.  Our bodies stand like the walls of a prison between our souls and our Well-Beloved.  Down with them, therefore; let them cease to hide from us the Sole Object of all our affections!  –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey ‘Holy Abandonment’

THE CLOISTERED HEART IS a way of living for God in the midst of the world. It is heart monasticism that can be embraced by married or single persons, religious or lay. It’s an analogy in which our lives can be “monasteries,” our hearts can live in the “enclosure” of Christ, and all things may be viewed through the will of God as through a “grille.”  Nancy Shuman

The Cloister at Le Mont Saint Michel

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Struggling to be all that one can be

St John of the Cross. Euclid, Ohio.

According to this holy doctor (St John of the Cross}, a single irregular appetite, even in a venial matter…an imperfect desire of the will, no matter how trifling— . one single human desire, to which the soul is inordinately attached, is enough to prevent her from being raised to divine union. “It is sad to see certain souls, richly freighted with merits and good works, who, because they have not the courage to break with certain tastes, attachments, or affections, never reach the haven of divine union, although God gave them strength to burst the bonds of pride and sensuality, and of many other vices and gross vanities, so that they are no longer held but by a single thread. There is, likewise, reason to deplore the ignorance of some, who, neglecting to mortify their real passions, think they can dispose themselves for divine union by indiscreetly undertaking a number of penances and other extraordinary practices; these are simply on the wrong road.

This is the teaching of a great saint and eminent mystic. If it is felt to be somewhat severe, at least every one must agree with him that the passions “fatigue, torment, darken, defile and weaken the soul. It is of the highest importance to discipline them, if we would advance in virtue and in prayer; “the greater or less purity of the soul determines the degree of illumination and union of which it is capable.” The best, surest and most meritorious means to pacify the soul is to strive always, not after that which is most easy, but after that which is most difficult; not after that which is most pleasant, but after that which is most unpleasant; not after what is more agreeable, but after what is less agreeable; not after what is more consoling, but after what is afflicting,”

It is not enough to purify the conscience, it must be pacified. “Remorse. when excessive, produces in the soul restlessness, depression, discouragement and weakness, which render it unfit for any good exercise. It is the same with regard to scruples, for a similar reason; these are thorns which prick the conscience, agitate it, and deprive it of tranquility, repose in God and the enjoyment of true peace.”

Let us, then, watch over the purity of our soul, without being too concentrated upon ourselves. Exaggerated examinations, minute inquiries, scruples, continual fears narrow the heart, hinder it from dilating with love, and are a great obstacle to divine union. –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey ‘Holy Abandonment’ quoting extensively from St John of the Cross

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Proper perspective

Is there question of our sins and imperfections? Let us say to God from the bottom of our hearts: “I detest my faults and my miseries. By the help of Thy grace I am resolved to do all in my power to get rid of them.” He will come to our assistance, yet in such a manner that whilst securing to us the victory, He will foster in us the feeling of self-contempt. Perhaps vain complacency would take hold of us if we found ourselves possessed of courage and strength. He will give us the grace to triumph humbly—–that is to say, with a sense of our weakness, and consequently with becoming modesty. Instead of being intoxicated with pride, we shall only think of our abjection and nothingness. Such self-contempt will make us very pleasing to God. And, on the other hand, when we have progressed so far that now our only pleasure is to please God, nothing more can ever trouble us.  –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey ‘Holy Abandonment’

Water: grace of the Holy Spirit.

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Advancing forward with discretion

If we have through our own fault stopped the flow of divine favors, let us at once remove the cause of the evil.  If our conscience can find nothing to reproach us with, let us adore with humble confidence the holy will of God.  And while awaiting the moment of His providence, let us endeavor with redoubled zeal to sanctify the trial and to prepare ourselves for new graces.  So long as we are faithful to the practice, our state of prayer may indeed spear at a standstill; but in reality our faith is growing more luminous and all the virtues are gathering strength, particularly love, confidence, and abandonment.  –Abbot Vitalis Lehodey ‘Holy Abandonment’

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